Police jury removes recreations officials

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 26, 2016

FERRIDAY — Board members from the recreation district representing the north part of Concordia Parish were removed Monday and some could face criminal charges.

In a 4-3 vote with Whest Shirley presiding in absence of Jury President Jimmy Jernigan, the six members remaining of the seven-person recreation board were removed. Police Jury Attorney Brad Burget had informed jurors it was an action they could take.

The removal of board members comes after the Louisiana Legislative Auditor released a report in July alleged misuse of public funds by the district including allegations:

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4The recreation district’s chairman used equipment for personal use.

4The district contracted with a family member of the former board chair.

4Board members received excessive compensation.

4Board members donated public funds to causes without proper documentation, amongst other allegations.

Over a two-year period, the report alleges approximately $150,000 in district money may have been misused.

Jerry Beatty, Jimmy Wilkinson, Adam Probst and Red Tiffee voted to remove board members while Willie Dunbar, Joseph Parker and Carey Cook voted nay.

Beatty said the jury’s recreation committee, consisting of himself, Tiffee, Parker and Wilkinson, would discus options and seek to bring a replacement recommendations to the Police Jury at its next meeting Sept. 12.

In the future, Beatty said the jury would seek to nominate five people to the board instead of seven.

Beatty said going back 10 years the recreation commission, which represents towns including Ferriday, Clayton and Ridgecrest, has been collecting $110,000 a year in taxes, and the area has nothing to show for it.

“I’ve got a 3 year old and another on the way, and we have to go to Vidalia to find a playground,” said the Ferriday resident. “When the schools let out, the kids are on the corners like they are waiting on a parade. We have to offer them something.

Burget, who also serves as the Seventh Judicial District Attorney, said his office is investigating and reviewing the allegations in the audit to determine if any crimes have been committed and who might have committed them.

People removed from the parish Recreation District No. 1 were Josephine Taylor Washington, Johnny Woodruf, Jasmine Schiele, Cameron Davis, Linda Mills and newly appointed member Glenn Henderson.

The former chair, Robert Lee III, died in 2016. The jury had not filled his seat.