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Courthouse repairs underway

by Minden Press-Herald

A state of emergency was declared to begin repairs at the Webster Parish Courthouse.

In May, a pipe on the fourth floor burst, flooding around 9,000 square feet of the courthouse on the remaining three floors.

During a buildings and grounds committee meeting Tuesday, Secretary Treasurer Ronda Carnahan said the insurance adjuster has made an assessment and will send a report this week.

“I still don’t have a dollar figure on it, but in my office, there’s plaster walls in there, and it’s taken until this last weekend to get it completely dried,” she said. “That room is going to need major work.”

Across the hall in the district attorney’s office, the carpet and flooring has been taken up but no damage was reported to equipment or furniture.

In the police jury meeting room, carpet has been taken up on the elevated area; ceiling tiles have been removed and damaged wood has been cut from areas throughout the room. The seating benches have dried out, she said.

“We’re going to use the room like it is until we move across the street,” she said. “Then that room will be turned into a courtroom. At that time, carpet will be put down and we’ll make some repairs in there.”

Courtroom B was damaged, Carnahan said, and the carpet will have to be replaced in there as well.

On the first floor, the clerk of court’s criminal division received extensive damage, but no records were damaged. The flooring has been taken up in the criminal division as well as throughout the entire office area. Ceiling tiles, counters and some walls will need to be replaced.

In other news, the police jury approved some change orders relating to the renovation of the courthouse annex, but one dealing with the sound system could cost them an additional $68,000 if they approve the entire proposal.

In the new police jury room, the new sound system will include microphones, monitors at each juror’s station and two monitors on the wall so the public can see the same thing as the jury. It would also include a computerized voting system where jurors would push a button to place a vote instead of raising their hands or giving their vote vocally.

Jury President Jim Bonsall said he didn’t have to have a button to place his vote; he was OK with raising his hand as they’ve done for years.

“I would just assume raise my hand,” he said.

Mike McSwain, architect for the project, explained the sound system, saying they’d taken a look at the system in Bossier Parish and it would be very similar.

“It’s a little less than what they have system-wise, but it is the current system some juries have,” he said. “It would show the votes, not by hand, but a visual of who voted and how they voted.”

A plus to the system is all the paperwork and agendas would be on the monitors, Secretary Treasurer Ronda Carnahan said.
“We wouldn’t have to carry all that stuff,” she said, saying another perk to the system is the votes are recorded, and the recording of the meeting would be downloaded straight to her computer.

When asked about the cost, Carnahan said even though this is above what was budgeted, it is a sound investment.

“The sound system we have has lasted us for 50 years,” she said.

If needed, the jury will meet before the July meeting to get an itemized list of each component.

In the regular meeting, the jury approved:

The abandonment of servitude of 608 feet of right of way on Caples Camp Road from the water line inland 608 feet to the “y” in the road. The remainder of Caples Camp Road to the intersection of New Saltworks Road will remain within the parish maintenance system.

The official journal, the Minden Press-Herald, for the 2017-18 fiscal year, and the Springhill News and Press.

The day for the July regular meeting set for Tuesday, July 11.

The condemnation of a house on Lakeview Drive. Owner Rodney Teutsch asked the jury to condemn the house as it was heavily damaged during the March 2016 flooding, and according to law, the police jury must declare it condemned before anything can be done with it.

The request for adjudicated property at 24926 Highway 371 in Sarepta. That property will be donated to the town.

The request for recreational funding for District 3 for $600 to purchase rock for the Sarepta ball field

Louisiana Community Development Block Grant application for professional services to use GNF Management for administrative services and Cothren, Graf and Smoke Engineering Inc., for engineering services

Board appointments for Webster Parish Fire Protection District #4 in Dubberly. Reappointed was Jeffrey William Lair to a two year term and Jim Towns to a one year term. The jury also reappointed Christopher Clegg and Lee Ware to two year terms on the Doyline Waterworks District #1.

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