The Vernon Parish Police Jury  agreed to pay more than $1.3 million for costs associated with the overlay of 13 roads throughout the parish. The work, according to Rhonda Plummer, secretary-treasurer for the jury, was completed in the last two months.
"Since 1993, since the inception of the overlay program, we've done over 400 miles of new hard surface road," said Jim Tuck later in a phone interview. Tuck is the president of the police jury and represents District 1. "That's more mileage in the entire history of Vernon Parish."
The jury also heard from Matt Johns, a representative of the Rapides Area Planning Commission who was responding to a request from the jury to change fee structures associated with inspections of new structures within the parish. Johns offered to lower their charge from 50 percent to 10 percent of the .48 cent per square foot inspection fee.
Tuck recommended that Johns attend a committee meeting to address the issue more fully.
"Ultimately, the responsibility comes back on the jury," Tuck said. "We'd like to save our residents as much money as we can."
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development informed the jury by letter that it the parish is in compliance with established standards and remains eligible for funding through its bridge replacement and rehabilitation program.
The parish has a number of bridges that DOTD checks randomly on a yearly basis to make sure they are maintained properly, Plummer explained later in a phone interview. As long as the bridges are maintained properly, then the parish remains eligible for funding when it becomes available.
The jury also countered an offer from Verizon in reference to an incident on Dec. 20, 2007 at KCS railroad right-of-way and Lula Street. Parish employees severed a strand of fiber optic telecommunications cable while excavating with a backhoe to set a grease trap for the Sheriff's Department. The parish failed to notify Louisiana One Call of the intent to excavate prior to the start of the project. Verizon repair costs were estimated at $38,143.31. Tuck had suggested in October that an attempt be made to negotiate with Verizon to lower the cost.  Verizon offered to lower the amount to $30,000. The counter offer to Verizon was $25,000, which the company accepted, said Plummer.
The jury agreed to send a letter to South Vernon Waterworks on behalf of Robert Martin to move his water meter onto his property. Martin, concerned over a high water bill, discovered that his water meter is approximately 250 feet away from his property. The South Vernon Parish Waterworks District #1 informed him that he would be responsible for the water line from the point of the leak until it reaches his property, as well as any neighboring property that is destroyed in finding and fixing the leak. Since the line runs under two adjacent lots, including a neighbor's driveway, before it arrives at Martin's property, the repair costs would likely be substantial.
The jury also agreed to abandon Ogilvie Road in its entirety in District 6 and Snapp Lane in its entirety in District 7.
Visitors to the jury included Raetta Harvey, director of the West Louisiana Forestry Festival, along with the 2008 WLFF Queen and her court. Harvey thanked the jury for their assistance during the festival, while the queen and her court displayed the crowns they had been presented.
Rev. Maurice Johnson also addressed the jury, requesting that a building at the fairgrounds be made available, as is customary, for the Leesville Area Ministerial Alliance which has scheduled its annual holiday meal for those in need.
A request from the City of Leesville to demolish seven condemned properties in Leesville was approved under an intergovernmental agreement. The jury will provide the manpower and equipment assistance for the demolitions.
Parish Road Manager Carl Thompson, who replaced Carlton McKee last month, requested and was granted permission by the jury to purchase a 1/2 ton truck for Districts 10, 11, and 12, with the cost for the truck, a little more than $15,000, to be divided equally among the districts.
The jury approved a recommendation from the Wildlife and Lakes Committee to place lights at the Lake Vernon Spillway park boat launch. The jury has not yet determined when the lights will be placed, said Plummer.