Hammett accepts cabinet position

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 22, 2006

FERRIDAY &8212; Former State Rep. Bryant Hammett will have a new former title after Dec. 4.

Hammett decided to leave his job as the infrastructure engineer Monday for the new Louisiana Disaster Recovery Unit and become the new cabinet secretary for the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Hammett said Gov. Kathleen Blanco called to ask if he wanted the job Saturday.

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&8220;This is a huge opportunity and I&8217;m very excited that the governor has given it to me,&8221; Hammett said.

Hammett said by taking the job he would also take a pay cut from $140,000 to $117,000.

But Hammett said the cut didn&8217;t matter because of his desire to have this job.

&8220;It&8217;s hard for me to explain how important this new job is to me,&8221; Hammett said.

Hammett said he made a huge effort to apply for the job three years ago, but lost out to former secretary Dwight Landreneau, who resigned in August.

The details of the secretary&8217;s job are mostly administrative, Hammett said, but he wants to take a more hands-on approach.

&8220;I&8217;m ready to get out into the field and learn what the department employees do, find out what kind of obstacles, if any, they face and address them,&8221; Hammett said.

Hammett said he would be responsible for approximately 800 employees in four divisions &8212; marine, inland fishing, law enforcement and fur and refuge.

He would also have an approximate $100 million budget to work with, he said.

Hammett said the decision to leave did not reflect on the infrastructure engineer position, and that it was just a personal decision he made.

But Hammett said the decision was difficult to make.

&8220;Everything with the Disaster Recovery Unit is in its infancy right now, so there is a little uneasiness for me to leave something I helped create,&8221; Hammett said.

Hammett said he would look into how the department of Wildlife and Fisheries would fit into the future of Louisiana.

&8220;I want to get the department to be more visible and be more involved with Louisiana&8217;s economic development and tourism,&8221; Hammett said.