State police juries meet in Vidalia

Published 12:26 am Friday, September 9, 2011

VIDALIA — More than 120 parish police jurors, spouses and staff members from eight police juries in nearby Louisiana parishes gathered in Vidalia Thursday night to discuss items they hope will be on the state’s agenda in the coming year.

But at least a few people in attendance admitted their thoughts were on what President Obama was saying to a joint session of Congress at the same time.

The president was proposing a jobs plan, something in which the Police Jury Association of Louisiana’s Region 8 attendees have a keen interest, they said.

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“We are looking forward to a better year,” Concordia Parish Police Juror Willie Dunbar said before the meeting. “We’ll talk through changes for this year, and we are hopeful everything will be OK job wise.”

Jobs are a top issue for the state, PJAL Executive Director Roland Dartez said, but the concerns don’t stop there.

“The main issue is infrastructure projects,” Dartez said. “We have 3,000 deficient bridges and 3,300 miles of roads.”

Dartez said the state association was hopeful Washington, D.C., leaders would continue the Surface Transportation Bill and thankful that Gov. Bobby Jindal did not cut the state transportation funding to the local region last year.

“For a state that is struggling with revenues, we’ve fared well,” Dartez said. “(The state) understands the local needs.”

Guest Speaker Sen. Neil Riser, R-Columbia, said before the meeting that the state’s revenue picture for the coming year may not be fully known until the holiday shopping season starts.

“We’ll see Christmas sales, he said. “If it’s down, that’s not a good forecast.”

Riser told the jurors Thursday that funding to the Louisiana Government Assistance Program would be down only slightly, from $139,000 to $138,700. Funds to the Louisiana Community Enrichment Fund will stay stable at $142,000.

Concordia hosts the PJAL meeting once every eight years. It is rotated among Avoyelles, Catahoula, Grant, LaSalle, Rapides, Vernon and Winn parishes the other years.

Representatives from each of the eight parishes were present Thursday.

Concordia juror Jimmy Jernigan served as PJAL president this year.