St. John officials sworn in

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 11, 2012

By Robin Shannon


EDGARD – When she took office roughly 20 months ago after winning a special election for St. John the Baptist Parish President, Natalie Robotom said she would work to repair residents’ trust in the parish’s top office, which eroded after the resignation of now imprisoned former Parish President Bill Hubbard.

Shortly after taking the oath of office to begin her first full term Monday, Robottom said she believes the parish is well on its way toward changing the “culture of mediocrity” in its government.

“I can say with great confidence that we are setting a new level of expectation for public service in the parish,” Robottom told residents gathered for the inauguration ceremony at the St. John Parish Courthouse in Edgard. “There is a great level of excitement about the changes and opportunities that lie ahead in the next four years.”

Robottom said she is committed to attracting new businesses to the parish and also addressed plans to partner with the school system to foster youth programs in an effort to reduce crime. She also talked of her efforts to improve communication between members of her administration and the parish council.

The nine-member council was also sworn in during the ceremony Monday. Following the ceremony, the new council held its first meeting and elected council leadership for the year.

Division A Councilman-at-Large Lucien Gauff III was voted council chairman and Division B Councilwoman-at-Large Jaclyn Hotard was voted vice-chair. They, along with District 7 Councilwoman Cheryl Millet, are returning members. New members include Art Smith in District 1, Ranney Wilson in District 2, Lennix “Tweet” Madere in District 3, Marvin “Butch” Perrilloux in District 4, Michael Wright in District 5 and Larry Snyder in District 6.

During Monday’s meeting, Robottom offered up several changes to her administrative staff for council approval, including the appointment of a chief financial officer, and department heads for planning and zoning, economic development, public safety and parks and recreation. Robottom also asked for the re-appointment of Chief Administrative Officer Theresa Rodgers, Human Resources Director Stacey Cador and Utilities Director Virgil Rayneri. The council approved all appointments unanimously.

The parish’s new CFO is Randy Vincent, who was previously responsible for directing the delivery services in Calcasieu Parish. Robottom said he oversaw operations of four parish locations involving nine budgets totaling $5.6 million. He is a resident of LaPlace.

Robottom named Angelic Sutherland as her Planning and Zoning Director taking over for Mike Henderson. Sutherland has been on Robottom’s staff as a special assistant and deputy chief administrative officer since 2010. Sutherland, an attorney, offered legal advice to the code enforcement staff and its supervisors and also prosecuted code enforcement violations.

For Economic Development Director, Robottom appointed LaPlace resident Torri Buckles to replace Julia Remondet. Buckles previously worked as a business development director with Louisiana Economic Development.

The Department of Emergency Preparedness will be headed up by Jobe Boucvault, a former parish councilman who coordinated emergency response initiatives for Marathon’s Garyville refinery. He has also served on the parish’s Planning and Zoning Board and Sewerage and Water Board. Boucvault replaces interim Director Kathryn Gilmore, who took over following the departure of former Director Mike Tregre. Tregre resigned to run for St. John Parish Sheriff last year.

The parish’s new Director of Parks and Recreation is Terrence Jones of Lutcher. Robottom said Jones has worked to coordinate summer camps for various school board systems and has also organized more than 250 events per year for 65 alumni associations across the nation. Jones was an all-American Quarterback at Tulane University and played 5 1/2 years in the Canadian Football League.

Robottom also re-appointed Paige Braud as public information officer and Dana Milioto as special assistant to the CAO. Three other special assistants include Daron Cooper, who will oversee capital projects, Russel Jack, who will assist the Public Works Department, and Mark Howard, who will coordinate projects within the Utilities Department.

Robottom said she still needs to name directors for Health and Human Services, Public Works and Purchasing. She is still reviewing resumes for each department.