The April City Council meeting that took place Monday evening saw the adoption of some ordinances regarding the creation of access points for properties along Recreation Drive, changes to the employee manual, new hires and positions in the Minden Police Department, and an update from Minden Police Chief McIver on the Ewell Park shooting.
The only item on the agenda to not receive a unanimous vote was that of adopting an ordinance placing a six-month moratorium on the approval or permitting of access connections to Recreation Drive.
Explaining the reason for the proposed ordinance in more detail, Mayor Nick Cox stated, “We have a proposed development wanting to come to town and put their driveway access on Recreation Drive. We all know Rec Drive during certain seasons of the year can be a very, very busy one-way street. So we would like to have some time from the city’s perspective to study and review this plan, and particularly the location of that driveway. The concern is for the safety, welfare, health, and peace of those that use the Rec center and also the people that would be living in this development,” said Mayor Cox.
Councilman Michael Roy made a secondary motion that they change the time from six months to three months. “I would like to point out that this has been going on since the first of November. I’ve asked some questions since this has been brought to light, and I just don’t feel that we need, as a city, six months’ time. I think we’re pretty much all concerned about the traffic survey. I don’t really see where six months is really necessary; I think three months would be plenty to do this,” said Councilman Roy.
This motion wasn’t met with a second however, thus the motion remained as it was originally proposed. The original motion passed with four in favor and one opposed, the opposed being Councilman Roy.
Another item of note was the adoption of some revisions to the employee handbook.
“In February, we adopted the handbook, and we all agreed that the handbook would never be perfect;it was something that we would have to work on,” said Mayor Cox. “If we find problems we would address them and move on from there.”
The problem that they addressed in this meeting was that of vacation time being counted as time worked, and leading to conflicts with overtime pay as a result.
“If you take vacation, that’s your rest and relaxation time. If you come in at the end of your 40 hours of vacation and work six hours at your regular job, we don’t feel like that should be counted as overtime hours, it should just be regular pay hours,” said Mayor Cox.
“We found a problem, there’s a section in there where vacation is counted as time worked, and that policy, we project, costs the City of Minden a lot of money.”
Another revision of the employee manual had to do with an overlap of state law and a section of the handbook having to do with the “at-will” status of employees hired by the city.
“There’s a paragraph that says that we can change an employee’s at-will status,” said Cox. “Louisiana is an at-will state, and I just don’t see that paragraph being necessary. It was brought to question, and to fix the problem I’m proposing that we delete it.”
Both of these agenda items were motioned, seconded, and passed unanimously.
Some new hires and new positions were proposed to the council for the Minden Police Department during the city council meeting as well. First, there was the hiring of Marlin Choyce as a full time police officer. He was unanimously voted in for the position by the council.
Also proposed was a new position at the MPD of a deputy police chief. The argument presented by Chief McIver was that, in the case where the chief was unable to make decision, whether away for work, illness, or otherwise, Minden needs someone to be in a number two position that can fulfill the same obligations in the event of his absence.
The creation of this position was passed unanimously, as well as the decision to follow the Chief’s recommendation for Lt. Tokia Harris to take up the position.
Near the end of the meeting, Chief McIver also gave an update to the mayor, council and public about the Ewell Park shooting, both about the perpetrators and their victims.
“We have made, thus far, three arrests. There are still more arrests to be made. We have more warrants and, from what I understand, we have a lot of suspects that are on the run right now. But we have the proper authorities that are aiding us on their heels. We’re hoping to bring them to justice very quickly for this,” said Chief McIver.
“The victims are all stable. Most have been released from the hospital, so that is a great thing, but it’s still a tragedy that it happened.”
The Minden City Council meeting takes place on the first Monday of each month starting at 6 PM at Minden City Hall. For those who cannot attend the meetings in person or wish to see the meetings after they take place, live streams and recordings of the meetings can be found on the City of Minden’s Facebook and YouTube channel titled City of Minden – Feels Like Home.