Parish wants to hear from sheriff about jail closure
St. Mary Parish Sheriff Mark Hebert will be asked to address the parish council on his proposed plans to close the jail on the seventh floor of the courthouse in Franklin.
The issue was raised Wednesday during the council’s regular meeting by Councilman Kevin Voisin of Morgan City who said he had been receiving calls and questions on circulating rumors.
“I have some questions and concerns,” Voisin said and directed the council secretary to send the sheriff “an invite” to come to the next council meeting.
The 125-bed facility currently houses female inmates, male trustees and occasionally inmates with special medical needs, according to parish Chief Administrative Officer Henry “Bo” LaGrange. The facility is not at capacity and usually houses 60-80 inmates, he added.
“It’s my understanding that everything’s going to be moved to Morgan City,” said Councilman Lionel “Butch” Metz of Four Corners.
Parish President Paul Naquin said the sheriff has been considering the closure for the past couple of months due to budget constraints.
He said he has already spoken with Hebert and asked him to submit a plan to the council.
LaGrange said he also would provide the council with pertinent details such as jail operation costs as well as a copy of the 2012 intergovernmental agreement between the council and sheriff that specifies each entity’s obligation.
In discussion of other closures the council, heard from Chuck Davidson, regional manager of the state Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Morgan City VA office on Third Street in the Sales and Use Tax Office will close its doors on Sept. 1.
The office is currently only open one day a week and sees an average of 10 veterans a month as compared to an average of 70 at the Franklin office.
Davidson said the viability of the office had been studied prior to the decision.
He said the study considered the time spent by the service officer traveling back and forth from Franklin to Morgan City which he said cuts into the daily workload.
“We looked at it also from a facility stand point,” he said.
The Morgan City facility is a shared office that has no room for file cabinets and no waiting area for clients. That means the service officer has to carry the clients’ records back and forth from Franklin.
From a security standpoint, “Me as a veteran, I would not appreciate my records going back and forth,” Davidson said.
He assured the council that all means possible would be taken to service veterans from the Morgan City area. For assistance veterans can call the Franklin office at 337-828-5047.
In other business the council:
—Introduced an ordinance amending the 2013 fiscal year budget.
—Adopted an ordinance on temporary access and work area grants of servitudes with property owners in the area of Atchafalaya basin levees west of Berwick and the west Bayou Sale Gordy levees. A public hearing on the ordinance will be called at 5:45 p.m.
—Passed resolutions on contract amendments with South Central Louisiana Human Services Authority and Fairview Treatment Center and Claire House; a cooperative endeavor agreement with the state on infrastructure improvements at the Charenton Canal Industrial Park; and agreement with Crosstex Pelican LLC on surplus dirt.
—Appointed Clyde Washington to the St. Joseph Recreation Park Advisory Committee; Edward R. Austin and Vinnie Byrd to Recreation District 4; Ronald Everett Berry to Consolidated Gravity Drainage District 2; Ronald J. Chillis to Fire Protection District 11; Jimmy Lee Wiley and Barry C. Druilhet Sr. to the Planning and Zoning Commission; and Leilani Hardee to Hospital Service District 2.