LIVINGSTON – The Albany High School gymnasium’s basketball court is now officially dedicated to the Hall of Fame coach who racked up more than 700 wins and three state championships with the girls' teams who played there.
Jo Ann Smith spent three decades as a teacher, mentor and coach at Albany from 1964 to 1992, Principal Jill Prokop said. During Smith's time as head girls’ basketball coach, she reached the Louisiana state playoffs every year, won three championships and finished as runner-up twice.
Smith was honored as the South Regional Coach of the Year and as a finalist for National Coach of the Year in 1992. In 1994, she was inducted into the Louisiana High School Athletics Association’s Hall of Fame.
“Her athletes were winners off the court as well as they were on the court,” School Board member Sid Kinchen said during the July 21 meeting in which the board unanimously agreed to name the gym court in her honor
Kinchen said Smith served not only as an excellent coach but also a role model for the students.
“She thought those students needed to be in class, they needed to be making good grades, they didn’t need to be roaming the halls, and every year they were outstanding students, not just athletes,” he said.
Superintendent Rick Wentzel, who began coaching in 1986, said he always admired and respected the way Smith had her teams prepared to play.
“We’ve had some great coaches come through this parish for many years,” Wentzel said. “She is most definitely one of those Livingston legends.”
Smith was on hand during the School Board's vote.
“I was thinking, I’m so glad (God) let me get born when I did, in America, in Louisiana, in Livingston Parish, in Albany,” she told the board. “The Lord always blessed me with good health and a desire to work with young people, and I just have to thank him first.”
Smith also thanked her parents, strawberry farmers who taught her to work hard in life, and her family.
“My children, poor things, they didn’t know there was any place else to go except the gym,” Smith said with a laugh, adding that her late husband, Lavelle Smith, “thought popcorn or a hot dog and nachos and cheese was a home-cooked meal.
“But having that support group helped me achieve these things I’m being honored for,” she said.
LIVINGSTON — Stephen Parrill, a supervisor of instruction with the Livingston Parish public …
In another matter at the July 21 board meeting, the board approved Wentzel’s recommendation to appoint Steve Vampran as the district’s supervisor of instruction/middle school. Vampran previously served as supervisor of instruction/transportation, principal of Maurepas School, assistant principal at Southside Junior High, and a teacher at both Maurepas and Albany High.
Vampran was selected from among eight applicants for the position.
The School Board also voted to adopt its adjusted property tax rates and roll forward, or increase, those rates for 2016 to the following: parishwide constitutional tax, 3.29 mills; parishwide additional support tax, 7.18 mills; parishwide construction tax, 5 mills.
The board also voted to levy the 7-mill parishwide maintenance tax that voters recently renewed.
In addition, the board adopted debt service property tax rates for 2016 in several subdistricts, to continue paying down construction debt: Denham Springs District No. 1, 9.64 mills; Walker District No. 4, 8.19 mills; Walker District No. 4-1, 15.25 mills; Live Oak District No. 22, 18.17 mills; and Maurepas District No. 33, 12.07 mills.
The debt service property taxes are each 1.33 mills lower than in 2015, school district business manager Terry Hughes said.