Parish introduces new purchasing, economic directors

Published 12:14 am Wednesday, May 18, 2016

LAPLACE — It doesn’t matter that one was born and raised in LaPlace while the other is from out of town.

Jean Stewart and Jerry W. Jones are excited to be new St. John the Baptist Parish employees.

Stewart is taking over as director of purchasing and procurement for St. John. The position became available when former director Laverne Saulny was elevated to chief administrative officer.

Stewart, with more than 30 years of experience in procurement and finance at Shell, said she is looking forward to working for the Parish.

“At Shell we dealt with millions and billions of dollars in contracts and services,”
Stewart said. “One of my main responsibilities was working with women and minorities and getting them to do business with Shell. I want to bring that to the parish. I think a lot of people, small businesses and minority businesses, don’t know how to acclimate themselves in the way that the Parish runs. I’m looking forward to helping them with that, and I’m looking forward to helping the parish with contracts.”

Stewart said she is excited to help move the parish forward and is motivated by her ties to the community because her children and grandchildren live in St. John the Baptist Parish.

“I see so much happening now,” she said. “This administration has done so many great things. I wanted to help. I couldn’t sit back anymore. I put in my application because I wanted to be a part of this team.”

Jones, originally from Alexandria, is also ready to be a part of the administrative team.

Jones, 32, has taken over as the Parish’s director of economic development. He is the former interim executive director for the Imperial Calcasieu Regional Planning and Development Commission.

“I’m looking forward to helping move this parish in a progressive direction,” he said. “It’s no secret that there is a lot of growth that is about to come to this area. With the plants already here and the plants that are relocating, it’s a hotspot for jobs.”

Jones said the fact he isn’t from the area may make some people a little hesitant about him.

“I’m open to meeting everyone that is available that wants to discuss moving the community forward as far as economic development is concerned,” Jones said.

“I know it’s going to take some time to create dialogue and speak with all of the people within the community. I’m not really locked in on the big business and I’m not really locked in on the small business. I want to focus on business in general.”

The director of economic development position became available when former director Torri Buckles resigned in March to explore other job opportunities.

Parish Council Chairman Marvin Perrilloux’s said Buckles was able to accomplish a lot, but he thinks Jones is a good fit for the position.

“Although (Jones) is a young man, he is very knowledgeable and educated,” Perrilloux said. “I think he has the right ideas and experience to help St. John Parish move along. I’m going to support him 110 percent.”

The recommendation to appoint Stewart and Jones was made by Parish president Natalie Robottom May 10, when the Council unanimously approved the appointments.

“They are of great benefit to the residents and business owners of St. John the Baptist Parish,” Robottom said. “We are extremely fortunate to be able to attract qualified individuals to serve in these positions and look forward to a smooth transition.”