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Thomas Smith tapped for fire board

by Minden Press-Herald

Despite the plea from former Fire Protection District 8 Cotton Valley board member Roberta Lott, police jurors voted to fill the vacant seat on the fire protection district board with a new member.

Thomas Leon Smith was chosen to fill the seat formerly occupied by Lott.

The Webster Parish Police Jury typically votes in support of board chairperson’s recommendations and followed the precedent during the December board meeting.

Lott’s term expired, although she told jurors she was asked to continue serving on the board for another term in October.

“I said would, but I found out (the day before the police jury meeting) that I was being replaced,” Lott said. “I’m not sure why. I’m perfectly qualified. I’ve dedicated myself to the department and to the board.”

In addition to being a member of the board for the past four terms, Lott is also a member of the Cotton Valley Volunteer Fire Department.

“I just spent six months getting an EMT license so I could be a greater asset to the department and the community,” she told the jury before votes were cast. “I would really like to remain on the board because I have done a really good job. I would appreciate you considering appointment to the position again.”

Jury president Jim Bonsall said a letter from fireboard commissioner Perry Kirkland asked to replace Lott at the expiration of her term in November.

“The letter said that because you are on the fire department too, they preferred to have someone that was not on the department,” Bonsall said to Lott during the meeting.

Lott believes there is no conflict of interest.

“I joined the department so I could get a better appreciation for how the department works and to be a better board member,” she said. “There is nothing in the bylaws or guidelines that says I can’t be on the department.”

Lott said she has had no communication regarding the issue, other than being asked to continue to serve in October.

“I’m upset that no one came to me and spoke with me about this,” Lott said. “I feel it is a bit subversive.”

Juror Bernard Hudson said he called and spoke to Lott about the issue.

“I like her. She is good,” Hudson said at the meeting. “But evidently Perry Kirkland and the board do not like you, or someone in Cotton Valley do not.

“Normally as jurors, we go along with the recommendation of the chairman of the board. It’s nothing against you, or for or against Mr. Smith.”

Lott said Kirkland had invited her to serve on the board.

“Well evidently he changed his mind,” Hudson said.

Calls to Kirkland were unanswered.

The jury approved the appointment of Smith to the Webster Parish Fire Protection District 8 Board for a two-year term. Two jurors, Daniel Thomas and Dustin Moseley, abstained.

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