The Vernon Parish Police Jury approved the selection of AECOM Design + Planning as its comprehensive plan consulting firm Monday evening.


The Vernon Parish Police Jury approved the selection of AECOM Design + Planning as its comprehensive plan consulting firm Monday evening.
The firm was recommended by the The Vernon Parish Selection Committee which was assembled to assist the jury in selecting a team to guide the parish through the process of planning for future development and growth. 
"This team had read our Visions for Vernon front to back," said Anne Causey, a spokesman for the committee.  Visions for Vernon is a body of work done several years ago by parish leaders that focuses on the challenges and strengths of Vernon Parish in its endeavors to grow. That was an issue that weighed heavily with all the committee members.
The committee reviewed 10 responses to a Request for Proposals (RFP) and narrowed the field to four finalists who presented their plans to the committee June 11 at an open meeting at the Leesville High School Auditorium. Each team was allotted 20 minutes to present its plan followed by 30 minutes of questions from the selection committee and the audience. 
The committee then ranked the teams based on weighted criteria, said Causey, using comments from submitted by the public after the interviews.
The ranking criteria included the firm's basic knowledge of the area, familiarity with current plans, experience using Smart Growth principals, public participation, implementation and the ability to work within a budget.
Finalists could score up to 900 points in the weighted rankings. AECOM Design + Planning scored 801, while Moore Planning Group, of Alexandria, scored 723, coming in second.
The Center for Planning Excellence (CPEX) facilitated the work of the committee, which was made up of local residents and leaders, including Tracey Wrisper, of ERA; Rhonda Pummer, Vernon Parish Police Jury; Lorna Hanes, Fort Polk; Wayne Masur, Forest Capital Partners; Lee Birmingham,  Fort Polk Progress; Anne Causey, Visions for Vernon; John Crook, Vernon Parish Tourism Commission; William R. Thomas, Vernon Parish School Board; Michael Kay, Lamar Salter TC; Sophis Airhart, DHH/Office of Public Health; and Jerry Deters, Cameron Communications.
Committee members were chosen through a process guided by CPEX, which looked for members who had appropriate expertise in key areas, were connection to citizen groups and were racially diverse.