Council approves two department heads

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 16, 2004

By LEONARD GRAY Staff Reporter

HAHNVILLE – Two department heads were confirmed Tuesday by the St. Charles Parish Council, but the remaining members of Albert Laque’s cabinet will take time to fill.

Robert Raymond was confirmed as director for the Department of Legal Services and Lorrie Toups was confirmed as director for the Department of Finance by unanimous votes of the council.

Positions yet to be confirmed include department directors for Planning and Zoning, Parks and Recreation, Waterworks, Public Works, Economic Development and Tourism, Community Services and Emergency Preparedness.

Laque said as of this week, “I’m really not planning to make any changes,” with planning director Bob Lambert being the only question-mark, due to health concerns.

In his recent prolonged absence, Lambert’s role has been covered by coastal zone manager Earl Matherne. At present, though, Matherne is a classified civil-service employee.

The other department heads, including Gregory Bush, Robbie Brou, Tab Troxler, Corey Faucheux, Robel Howard and Larry Matson, if nominated by Laque, would be offered for confirmation two or three at a time.

Meanwhile, however, they remain in place, with salary. “We’re not like St. John Parish,” Laque said, where department head positions are awaiting parish confirmation and re-establishment to the parish payroll.

“Hopefully, we’ll know something with Mr. Lambert in the next few weeks,” Laque said.

Also in the parish council meeting held Jan. 13, the parish council renewed Shread-Kuyrkendall and Associates’ contract for project management services on capital outlay and drainage improvements by an 8-1 vote.

The single member in opposition, Councilman G. “Ram” Ramchandran, urged the parish to offer young engineers the opportunity to join the public works staff full time, under civil service.

Public works director Greg Bush pointed out they could not offer a competitive salary and even if they could, it would generate a “domino effect,” hiking other salaries.

Bush added the cost savings to the parish has made the contract worthwhile and the rates charged to the parish have not changed since the contract was first signed in 2000.

“If they were out to gouge the parish, they would have raised their rates each year,” Bush pointed out. “I think we’re getting the work done quite efficiently.”

Additionally, the council approved a contract with Design Engineering Inc. for Almedia Road Improvements in St. Rose.

This project is to add a right-turn lane at each end of Almedia Road, with a turn signal modification at Airline Drive.

Councilwoman April Black pointed out that the project had been on hold for several years and was happy to see it moving at last. “We need this terribly,” Black added.

Cost of the improvements would be $93,914, paid for by the state, at no cost to the parish. The contract was selected by the state highway department, since Almedia Road is a state highway.

Finally, the council heard from Johnny Price of New Sarpy, who urged the removal of the White Hall facility at East Harding and Eighth streets. The former recreational hall has long been boarded up and is now rotting and termite-ridden.

It was first built by the New Sarpy Civic Association, donated to the parish several years ago and allowed to deteriorate.