Evangeline Parish Police Jury Meeting
January 10, 2022
The Evangeline Parish Police Jury, tonight, (Monday) elected Bryan Vidrine as new jury president replacing Ryan Williams who was elected to serve as new vice president. Williams had served as president for the past four years. In his statement, Williams said "I want to thank all the jurors for working as a team. The year 2021 was the worst year in my life because I lost my son in an accident. I want to thank my family for their support and I want to continue being a public servant."
13th Judicial District Court Judge Gary Ortego publicly announced to the jury that he is seeking the office of Third Circuit Court of Appeals Judge representing District Three that was represented by the late Judge John Saunders. The district includes Evangeline and Allen Parishes and portions of St Landry, Acadia and Lafayette parishes. Ortego has been serving for the past eight years as Division A Judge in the 13th Judicial District Court.
The jury approved new CDC Covid-19 employee guidelines . Jury Secretary Treasurer Donald Bergeron reported that the new Covid variant has been impacting office staff and road crews. The new guidelines permit an employee who tested positive can return to work after five days as long as they have no symptoms and they are not required to get a negative test before returning to work.
Jurors reviewed the specific language for the tax rededication election day ballot. If voters approve the ballot measure, .62 mills of the 5.21 mills from the Library Tax and a portion of the $1.25 million dollar surplus from the Health Unit Tax will be rededicated for the housing and transportation of parish prisoners, not for the construction of a new parish jail. In a related matter, the jury voted to meet with the mayor of Ville Platte to look at the feasibility of converting the old city owned Heritage Manor nursing home into a parish jail.
In other business, the police jury:
---Voted to transfer $337,634 from federal America's Rescue Plan funds to the general fund to help defray inmate housing expenses from March through September of last year;
--in a close vote, the jury voted to revise its travel policy to include overnight accommodations for jurors. It took Jury President Bryan Vidrine to break the 4-4 vote to vote in favor of paying hotel stays. In the past jurors paid their own hotel rooms.
--approved updating their cooperative endeavor agreement with EPAR (Every Paw Animal Rescue) after a review by its legal advisor. The changes in the agreement will permit the group to complete the construction of a parish animal shelter;
--approved renaming Sandy Beach Drive "Lamar-Hill Drive" after the two late police jurors who represented the area: Lamar Johnson and Hill Johnson;
--reappointed Steve Thibodeaux to another three year term and appointed Hunter Soileau to a five year term on the Evangeline Parish Fire District Two board;
--received news from Secretary Treasurer Donald Bergeron that sales tax collections from the two percent sales tax amounted to $370,479 in November, that is a $128,000 increase over the same period a year ago.