Blaney makes accusations over health officer

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 14, 2003

VIDALIA &045; Accusations flew at a Monday night meeting of the Concordia Parish Police Jury.

During the meeting, Juror Charlie Blaney accused police jurors of voting to get former Parish Health Officer Florence Hargis transferred from the parish. Hargis was transferred to Catahoula Parish more than three months ago.

Before Hargis came on board with Concordia Parish, the parish was coming close to losing its federal flood insurance due to shortcomings with its system of issuing building permits, Blaney said.

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Also, before Hargis, &uot;75 percent of (parish restaurants) didn’t have a place for the cooks to wash their hands,&uot; Blaney said.

But Hargis, he added, &uot;went by the book. Š She did her job, and she got punished for it.&uot;

The transfer happened because Hargis got the wrong people in Concordia Parish angry by following the law to the letter, Blaney said.

For her part, Juror Cathy Darden pointed out one incident. &uot;She was going to make (the owner of) a one-person mobile home put in an oxidation pond,&uot; Darden said, adding she believed that request to be unreasonable.

Juror Melvin Ferrington said he believed Hargis &045; who could not be reached for comment following Monday’s meeting &045; did not communicate effectively with parish residents.

However, fellow jurors told Blaney no vote was taken and they weren’t responsible for the transfer. Instead, they said the state Department of Health is responsible for transfers.

Yet jurors did say they believe the truck and cellular telephone Hargis used while working in the parish should not have been transferred to the new health officer without their permission.

The vehicle and phone were paid by the police jury as an incentive to get Hargis to come to Concordia Parish, they pointed out.

Earlier in the meeting, resident Lanny Barlow asked jurors why, as the parish’s governing body, they did not require Sheriff Randy Maxwell to submit a list of deputies and their salaries as part of his annual audit.

Maxwell could not be reached for comment Monday night following the meeting.

&uot;The law says he’s supposed to send it to y’all and to (clerk of court) Clyde Ray Webber,&uot; Barlow said.

According to the Legislative Auditor’s Web site &045; which did not have a copy of the sheriff’s office audit posted as of Monday &045; the sheriff is supposed to submit that information as part of the first financial report of the year.

Jury Secretary Russell Wagoner said he does not remember receiving a copy of such an audit.

However, jurors voted to ask the District Attorney’s Office to look at the law and report back to them on the matter.

Also in Monday’s meeting, the jury:

4Approved occupational licenses for Concord Heating and Cooling and Southern Tire Mart.

4Approved transfers of $35,000 from the sales tax fund to the solid waste fund and $2,000 from the general fund to the criminal court fund.

4Approved Bryant Hammett as engineer for the 2004-2005 Louisiana Community Development Block Grant program.

4Write to attorney Guy Lain requesting him to brief the jury on the status of a lawsuit regarding property at Black Lake.