Webster Parish Police Jury throws out ordinance that banned drinking at Caney

The Webster Parish Police Jury has voted to do away with a 40-plus year old ordinance that conflicts with orders from the U.S. Forestry Service that allows alcohol within the camping grounds of parish parks.

In the buildings and grounds committee meeting Tuesday, Chairman Randy Thomas, District 4, says the jury enacted an ordinance in 1970 that bans alcohol on the premises of any Caney Lake recreation area.

Ron Hudson, U.S. Forestry Service Ranger, explained alcohol is still banned in the day use areas at Caney Lake parks, but the forestry service’s rules are a little more lax when it comes to the camping grounds.

“Generally in the forest service, we have orders which are tiered to federal laws,” Hudson said. “Our forest service supervisor is allowed to apply those rules in certain areas. We’re specifically prohibiting it in day use areas.”

The new orders were issued in late 2015, and Hudson says there has been some issue with people consuming alcohol in the park areas.

The idea, for instance, is if a ranger comes by someone’s camp and sees them with an alcoholic beverage in their hands, then that ranger might tell them it is perfectly fine to keep that beverage within the confines of their camp.

However, if a Webster Parish Sheriff’s deputy drives through that same camp and cites that person for it, then that creates confusion.

“It’s my hope that for simplicity and for the public’s sake to eliminate any confusion,” Hudson said.

Hudson emphasized the day use areas – picnicking, swimming areas – are to remain alcohol free; however, if a camper decides to consume alcohol at his or her campsite, then that is permissible.

The jury had the option to leave the ordinance as is, but to simplify things, they agreed to just take the ordinance off the books to decrease confusion for recreational park users.

In the monthly meeting of the police jury, jurors approved:

  • reappointment of Michael S. Lawler to the Cullen Fire Protection District #6 board
  • reappointment of Paul Donaubauer to a two-year term to Webster Fire protection District #4.
  • $316 to purchase a television stand, microwave and small refrigerator for the Cullen Senior Center.
  • $600 to purchase a cutoff saw for the Springhill Fire Department.
  • ratification of actions taken to approve the 2016 budget of the Webster Parish Police Jury Office of Community Services, and
  • approval of the engagement of Allen, Green and Williamson to perform the audit of the 2015 financials of the Office of Community Services.

The next meeting is set for 10:30 a.m., March 8, in the meeting room on the second floor of the Webster Parish Courthouse.

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