Homer Town Council Agrees To Hire Full Time Patrol Officer
Homer Mayor Huey Dean and the Board of Selectman of the Town of Homer met in the Mayor’s Chambers August 2 at 6:00 p.m. The meeting was called to order and prayer and Pledge of Allegiance to the flag were led. During public comments Councilman J.C. Moore read aloud a letter submitted by Mr. Scott “Doc” Roberson. Mr. Roberson stated that he had previously talked with Mayor Dean concerning drainage and grass problems on Martin Luther King and Hill Streets in Homer.
Mr. Roberson said that grass had grown over the curbs and was growing out into the road. He also requested that the house at 122 Hill Street be torn down.
Mayor Dean reported to the Council that he had paid for the lot to be cleaned up out of his own pocket for the past two years. Cutbacks in work forces have slowed progress in the grass-cutting department.
Mr. Roberson told the Council that he has not seen a mowing crew in the area this year and that the Mayor might need to see if they were doing their jobs.
Mayor Dean reassured Mr. Roberson that there should be two inmate crews in the area starting August 3, to assist Town workers in getting grass cut.
Chief of Police Rodney Hollenshead came before the Council requesting permission to hire one full time officer to replace Officer J.T. Williams who left the force. Chief Hollenshead stated that he had found an officer to replace him. Officer Gregory Pickens is currently employed by the Grambling Police Department, upon the decision of the Council to hire him he will resign from his position and go to work here.
Officer Pickens has two and a half years experience and has been State Certified for over a year. Because of this he would not have to be trained, as would most new hires. Councilman Moore asked Chief Hollenshead if he had searched within the Town for an officer. Hollenshead stated that he had but had been unsuccessful in locating a certified officer. He stated that having to many uncertified officers on the force was not good. The certified officer at a scene was the one capable of making decisions due to their experience and training. Councilwoman Johnette Faulkner made a motion that the Town hire Officer Pickens, Councilman Moore seconded and the motion passed. The officer would be hired at a $9.50 pay rate, since he is already receiving the $300 per month supplement from the State that is offered to certified officers.
Mr. David Greene, North Louisiana sites manager for BFI came before the Council to address concerns about residential trash pick-up. He stated that when the residential trash contract was signed with the Town of Homer, that it had nothing to do with Claiborne Parish or the Town of Haynesville’s contracts. Greene said that when BFI offered bids for the service that they had used similar bid specifications for each municipality. This was done to make bidding easier and that none of the contracts had anything to do with each other. Get Rid of It has offered the Town residential pickup cheaper that BFI but there is a contract in place that should cover the next year and nine months for BFI. Greene stated that he would present his superiors with a lower amount for the Town, but that there would be a contract extension included with the figures.
He also said that if they approved lowering the rates that the same rates would be offered to Claiborne Parish and Haynesville, just out of fairness. Mr. Greene told the Council they were already enjoying a lower rate than the Parish because of the density of households inside the Town. He said that his crews could pick up all of Homer in a day, where as the Parish took four days, because of the distance between residences. Greene told the Council that he would help them clean up Mill Street dump if they would segregate the refuse at the location.
Mayor Dean informed Council members that BFI has been helping all along with the location, most of the time at no charge. Greene said that the services provided at the Mill Street location were not connected to the residential contract between BFI and the Town of Homer. Therefore BFI was not responsible for the mess at the site. He stated that he was helping with what he could because the roll-off cans at the location were BFI property and he did not want their name to be linked to messes such as this. Greene also informed the Council that there were companies that would come by and get the refrigerators, stoves etc. for a nominal charge. Mr. Greene stated that he was going to make an offer for a cheaper residential rate to the company but could offer no guarantees. He stated that BFI received the work based on an open bid accepted by the Town. And that their original bid was $1.42 a month per home cheaper than any other waste removal company that offered a bid.
The Department of Environmental Quality is supposed to be in Homer this week to survey the Mill Street dump site. Councilman Jessie Ford had put the Arlington Cemetery on the agenda but reported that inmate crews had finished mowing it the morning of the meeting. He stated that they were going to spray the location to slow the growth cycle of the Bahia grass.
Councilman Ford asked Town Attorney David Newell if he had the ordinance concerning cluttered up yards within the Town prepared yet. Newell stated that he did not due to minor setbacks in paperwork concerning the project. He informed Ford that the current Weeds Ordinance that was in place would allow the Town to notify property owners of the problem and then mow it if there was no response.
Councilman Billy K. Jenkins requested that Mr. Newell add something to the new ordinance to cover abandoned vehicles. Newell said that he would take care of it.
Councilman Jenkins questioned the Mayor as to the identity of a worker he saw at the Mayfield water treatment facility. He stated that he was not a Town employee and just wondered what he was doing.
Mayor Dean informed him that there was a problem with the pumps at the location but that they were being repaired and there was no problem with the water levels at this time. He was personally watching the tanks to make sure plenty of good water stayed available.
Terry Willis came before the Council concerning problems within the Homer Housing Authority. Mayor Dean told Willis to come to his office and they would discuss the problems and try to get them resolved. Willis told the Mayor that he had been trying to get something done for quite some time now. He stated that so far HUD had not been of any help.
The State of Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals has written a letter to the Mayor stating that the Town failed to comply with laws stating that Homer needed to inform residents that the water supply exceeded the maximum contaminant levels as set forth in the State and Federal Primary Drinking Water Regulations. The letter concerned a problem with Town water between July 1st and July 31st of 2004. The DHH stated that there was never a emergency, if there had been the Town would have been notified immediately. All the letter was requesting at the time was a retest of the locations that showed higher levels of coliforms. This type of bacteria is naturally occurring and is a sign that there may be a problem. Since coliforms can be transmitted by air, human and other ways, a second test was called for and proved there to be no problem.
Executive Director of the Claiborne Chamber of Commerce John Watson and Chamber member Gurvis Vines were present at the meeting. Vines addressed the Council letting them know about the Chamber’s plan to check into a juvenile detention center for our area. Since the one in Sterlington has been closed there is a need for another facility in the area.
He also told the Council that the Chamber would support annexing some of the surrounding areas to the City Limits to add to land available for economic growth for the Town. Councilman Moore made a motion to amend the agenda to include the Watson Building, Councilman Jenkins seconded and the motion carried.
A motion was made to change the ordinance that was made at the last meeting concerning the acreage that went with the building. The original ordinance provided for two acres to be sold with the building. Town Attorney David Newell told the Council that if they would agree to sell Mr. Prentiss Washington five acres instead of the original two that he could wrap up the deal quickly since he already had the property description for that amount. If the Council had decided to keep the two-acre tract, they would have to hire a surveyor. The motion passed and the ordinance was amended to include five acres.