Natchez gives Huff nod to run juvenile center

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 13, 2001

Natchez Police Chief Willie Huff was given the nod by aldermen Tuesday as a possible head of the new juvenile justice center’s detention section.

Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith cast the tie-breaking vote in a 3-3 split, with Alderman James &uot;Ricky&uot; Gray, Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux and Alderwoman Sue Stedman voting against the proposal and Aldermen Theodore &uot;Bubber&uot; West, Jake Middleton and David Massey voting in favor.

The Adams County Juvenile Justice Center, under construction at the corner of South Pearl and State streets, is scheduled to open in the fall. County officials have requested assistance with personnel, said city attorney Walter Brown.

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&uot;In the original interlocal agreement with the county, we did include providing some personnel,&uot; Brown said. &uot;You recall the city donated the property where the juvenile justice center is being built.&uot; The city also pledged $50,000 a year to support it.

Huff would remain a city employee and remain chief of police, Brown said, adding that the position at the justice center would be temporary. &uot;He would have overall authority over the detention section.&uot;

Huff said Tuesday he was honored to be considered for the position, which cannot be filled until the interlocal agreement is amended.

Stedman said her vote against the proposal was not a vote against Huff’s capability to run the detention center but rather that she sees the position as a county function.

&uot;And I don’t see how we can remove ourselves from the liability. I think it increases our chances of being sued. I don’t have any qualms about his doing a good job.&uot;

Many details remain to be resolved, Stedman said. &uot;What will his hours be? What exactly will he be doing?&uot;

Supervisors have not taken an official position on the Huff proposal but discussed the personnel need in executive session on Monday.

Smith, who voted with the three assenting aldermen, said in remarks on Monday that he has confidence in Huff’s knowledge and experience in working with young people of the area.