Parish seeks new code officers

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 27, 2002


LAPLACE – A code enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty. The other, distraught, resigns his post. St. John the Baptist Parish is left without a code enforcement officer.

“Not having one certainly puts us in a difficult situation,” Councilman Duaine Duffy said. “The officers handle situations where residents have complaints about what is going on in neighborhoods. Without them there Is no one to handle those complaints.”

Code enforcement is a co-operative endeavor between the Parish Council and the Sheriff’s Office to enforce codes, including zoning codes, littering, illegally parked cars and vehicles in yards. The St. John the Baptist Parish Council made its first move to fill the vacant seats left by the late Edmond “Skipper” Songy and former code enforcement officer Herbert Becnel at Tuesday’s council meeting.

Duffy nominated Brent Roussel, an employee of Bayou Steel and a lifetime resident of the parish, to fill the Division B vacancy left by the fallen Songy. Songy died after being struck by a 1997 Chevrolet Suburban July 9 while assisting sheriff’s deputies and emergency crews at an accident scene on I-10. He was diverting traffic from westbound I-10 to Belle Terre Boulevard when he was hit. His position has remained vacant since the accident.

“I think Mr. Roussel would be a great asset for that position,” Councilman Jobe Boucvalt agreed.

Councilman St. Pierre announced a similar need for a code enforcement officer in Division A, recommending a Garyville man for the position. The Garyville candidate was not nominated for the position. Instead, Councilman Dale Wolfe nominated Raymond Jackson.

“I do not want to put it this way but I will put it this way – we need to add some color to that department,” Wolfe said. “We need to be fair when it comes to employees.”

Both nominations were adopted by the council.

“It was just a nomination Tuesday (Aug. 13),” Duffy said. “You have to be nominated by the council and the sheriff’s office has to commission you.”

Code enforcement is a part-time position. Outstanding qualifications for the job include a knowledge of the parish layout (where things are) and good public relations skills. Because the job offers no real benefits, the position has been filled by retired locals interested in helping the community, Duffy said.

Roussel will be retiring from Bayou Steel in February. He would be available part-time until February and full-time after retirement.

Council members said if the men accept the nomination and are approved, they can begin the job on a temporary/trial basis.