Police Jury holds final meeting in courthouse

Parish offices moving to Courthouse Annex in 2018

Tuesday was not only the Webster Parish Police Jury’s last meeting of the year, but it was also the last meeting to be conducted in the Webster Parish Courthouse.

The Webster Parish Courthouse Annex, formerly the Regions Bank building, was purchased by the police jury in 2008.

The building, which lies just across the street from the courthouse, will become host to the police jury’s offices and conference rooms starting next month.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Police Jury President Jim Bonsall. “We’ve been working on this for several years, ever since we bought that building. At times it looked like it might not happen, but I’m glad to see it happen. I’m sure the DA is glad too; this [the current conference room] is going to be a courtroom when we get through.”

To better accommodate the move, and because January 2 is an official holiday, the first police jury meeting of the new year was moved to January 9. Police jury doors will be closed to the public on Wednesday, Dec. 27 through Friday, Dec. 29 while the move is taking place. The jury can still be reached by phone.

“It’s a good move that’s been needing to happen for a long time,” Bonsall said. “I’m glad for it to finally happen so we can move on to other things.”

Road changes

Before the public meeting, the Roads Committee passed an increase to the speed limit on LA 528 to Goodwill Road. The new speed limit is 45 miles per hour. Parish Engineer Bob Graff said new road standards from the state Department of Transportation and Development made this increase possible.

“This segment of Goodwill Road has eleven-foot lines, and there’s at least three feet of clear space between the edge of pavement and obstructions,” he said. “The newly adopted standards will allow for a 45 mile-per-hour speed limit here.”

The Road Committee also heard an update from Kip Nelson of CB&I about the status of receiving federal funds from FEMA to finance repairs on roads damaged from the 2016 flooding. Nelson said while progress is being made, timing has not been favorable to Webster Parish.

“Applicants with less political and economic clout tend to get less generosity from FEMA,” he said.

The jurors were split on only one item on Tuesday. Calumet Lubricants requested to be included in a tax exemption program, and the jury denied the request in a 5-to-4 vote.

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