Legislative Auditor says Town of Jonesboro is “at risk” for fraud

The Town of Jonesboro was found to have repeatedly ignored recommended accounting procedures, according to an audit released by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor this week. The CPA firm Bosch & Statham conducted the audit for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2019. Auditors found material weaknesses dating back to 2015 that had not been rectified.

The audit report covers six months of former Mayor James Bradford’s administration and six months of current Mayor Leslie Thompson’s administration, which prevented the auditor from issuing an official opinion on the state of the town’s finances. 

“First since the fiscal year encompasses two administrations, we would not expect to receive the current mayor’s signature  on the management representation letter that is required for us to be able to issue unmodified opinions,” the audit read. “Secondly, due to the nature of the findings, in our professional judgement, we cannot accept management’s representation letter.”

The report cited 17 findings, all of which were repeated including:

  1. Failure to properly maintain cash receipt books.
  2. Failure to comply with Public Bid Law and the Local Government Budget Act.
  3. Failure to publish minutes for Board of Aldermen meetings.
  4. Lack of Internal control over purchasing.
  5. Weaknesses in utility billing procedures and employee timekeeping  procedures.

In the towns response letter , signed by Town Clerk Amanda Womack, the town said it plans to change its procedures, including keeping logs of which receipt books are issued to whom. It also indicated that part of the problem with utility billing has to do with outdated infrastructure.

“The council has refused to recognize the critical need to install new meters to facilitate the reading of meters for the town, therefore we are still charging flat rates for utilities in the Town of Jonesboro,” the letter read. “Until the town is authorized to acquire new water meters there is no foreseeable method to real all customer meters in the town. Many of the meters are unreadable and a large number of them have not been able to be located.”

In response to the report that surfaced in many major news sources across the state,  including the NewsStar newspaper out of Monroe, LA on Thursday, June 10th, Jonesboro Mayor Leslie Thompson had the following to say:

“There is nothing I can do about what took place before I took office,” said Thompson. “Since our administration has been in place we have been working closely with the Legislative Auditor’s office and have been taken off the ‘non compliance’ list. This has allowed us to move forward in securing needed grants to help with our infrastructure. We will continue to work toward correcting everything that needs to be done in order to stay in compliance.”

Police Jury posts agenda for regularly scheduled June 14th meeting

The Jackson Parish Police Jury has posted the agenda for the regularly scheduled June 14th meeting that will be held at 5:30pm at the Charles H. Garrett Community Center located on 182 Industrial Drive in Jonesboro. After the normal call to order, Invocation, Pledge of Allegiance and request for public comments the meeting will begin with the adoption of minutes from the May 10th, May 25th, and June 7th Jury Meetings, monthly purchase orders, and the payment of all bills.

Following will be the adoption of minutes from the May 5th Parish Cleanup Committee meeting, May 20th Finance Committee meeting, May 25th Project and Operations Committee meetings, May 26th and June 9th Grant Committee meetings  and May 28th Policy & Personnel Committee meeting. 

Stated items to be possible adopted are the earmarks for the first round of American Recovery Plan funding and the acceptance of the resignation of Mark Mobley from the Road Department effective May 28, 2021. The recommendation to re-classify Brad Self as a Specialty Equipment Operator – Level III with no change in pay rate and to amend the Organization Chart to eliminate the Road Supervisor Position is also scheduled. 

The board of Todd Culpepper, Lewis Chatham, Amy Magee, John McCarty, Tarneshala Cowans, Regina Rowe and Lynn Treadway  will then hear Management Reports from Jody Stuckey -Road Department; Robin Sessions – Solid Waste Department and Gina Thomas who will present the Financial Report. Paul Riley of the Riley Company of Louisiana will present the Engineering Report.

In additional business the jury will consider to act on the 2021 road program contract, naming an official journal, consider and act on a resolution to canvass the returns and declare the results of the special election from April 24, 2021. In final actions before the board acts on various Parish Board Appointments the Parish Attorney is expected to be asked to to a title search on Gansville Road from Industrial Drive to the Airport to determine ownership. 

Clarification of previous published statement: The JPPJ wants to clarify that a report that was published in the Jackson Parish Journal (JPJ) on June 9th. The JPJ stated Committee Chairperson, Amy Magee, proposed to move four laborers from the Solid Waste Department to the Road Department. That report was incorrect and the JPJ regrets any confusion this may have caused. The action that actually has taken place is that one general laborer has been moved to the Maintenance Department. Another possible move will be assessed at the end of the month but no action has yet been taken. 

Committee meetings set for Tuesday, June 15th: Beginning at 4:30 pm the Economic Development, Project and Operations Committees will meet at the Nathaniel Zeno Jr. Meeting Room of the JPPJ Administration Building, located at 160 Industrial Drive in Jonesboro.

Grant Committee earmarks ARP money:  The Grants Committee met Wednesday, June 9, 2021, at 12:00 PM in The Nathaniel Zeno Jr. Meeting Room, Jackson Parish Police Jury Administrative Building, 160 Industrial Drive, Jonesboro, Louisiana. Members present were Todd Culpepper, Amy Magee, and Tarneshala Cowans. 

The Committee discussed potential projects and investments for the American Recovery Plan funding.
Ms. Magee stated the need for the Committee to begin earmarking the funds for specific categories and
then adjustment along the way as more information is released and they see what the needs of the
Parish are.
Mr. Culpepper asked about the deadlines for the funding. The Secretary-Treasurer stated the next
round of funding would be in May 2022. She stated the Police Jury has until December 31, 2024, to
designate the funds and until December 31, 2026, to full expend the funds.
Ms. Magee noted that the municipalities would be receiving their own funding.
Ms. Cowans left the meeting.
The Committee discussed the deferred projects from 2020. Ms. Magee noted the projects for the
Courthouse HVAC system, the model bin sites, and the purchase of the land to expand the landfill.
Motion Mr. Culpepper, seconded Ms. Magee to recommend the Police Jury adopt the following
earmarks for the first round of American Recovery Plan funding, knowing that the amounts are subject
to change:
• Deferred Projects $500k
• Administration $300k
• Water Systems, Non-municipal Sewer Districts, and DEQ Projects $400k
• Technology Upgrades and Investments $100k
• Emergency Preparedness/Mitigation and Safety Upgrades $150k
• Tourism and Hospitality $50k

Town of Jonesboro pulls out of Parish Cleanup Day

This past Saturday, the Jackson Parish Clean Up Day took place. For months John McCarty, Chairman on the Jackson Parish Police Jury Clean Up committee, had tirelessly toiled to get residents, business owners, local governmental officials and parish municipalities involved to help pick up trash and participate in the beautification of our parish. All participated in the event except for the Town of Jonesboro. 

At the June 8th, Town of Jonesboro Board of Aldermen meeting, Mayor Leslie Thompson stated that the Town of Jonesboro would be a participant in the event. On Friday, June 11th , Thompson issued a statement that backpedaled on the pledge to have Town of Jonesboro employees who would be earning pay be involved in the event. The reasoning was stated, as shown below in a statement issued by Thompson, that due to unforeseen budgetary changes the town would not be able to pay the employees to do the work and therefore would not be able to assist the Parish as originally planned. It should be noted that Thompson, along with virtually every town official, volunteered their time to help pick up trash. See below for the statement issued by Mayor Thompson. 

“Jackson Parish clean-up is scheduled June 12. Unfortunately, the town of Jonesboro has announced that it will not be able to officially participate. The nucleus of our workforce consisted of paid employees. Due to unforeseen budgetary changes, we will not be able to assist the parish as originally planned.”

“However, we ask any volunteers who would like to come out and help with clean up efforts, to meet us at Pearrie Park at 10:00 am. I will be there and hope to those of you who are available. A clean parish is important to us. We put forth effort toward this goal each and every day. Hope to see our town councilmen and residents in action on tomorrow. Let’s not focus on what we don’t have and do the best with what we do have.”

Mayor Thompson

Watson enjoying good start to second pro season

For Zach Watson his second season of competing as a professional baseball player in the Baltimore Orioles organization has a lot of similarities to his first. On July 1st, 2019 he was assigned to the High-A Affilitate, Alberdeen Ironbirds. On April 30th, 2021 he was assigned to the same place. Only this time the son of Sonny and Stacey (Hightower) Watson, who hail from Weston, is enjoying his stay much better. That is because this time it is a promotion from having spent a year with the Low A Delmarva Shorebirds where he was sent to following a slow start to his professional career after a stellar collegiate career at LSU. 

Actually it is Watson’s third year of being in the Orioles organization but the 2020 minor league season was wiped out due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That additional seasoning has helped the speedy centerfielder accrue better stats this season than he had in all of 2019.

Watson currently sports a .243 average in 103 at bats compared to a .224 batting average in 116 at bats before. He has also already tied his home run total of five from his first year and is only 2 RBI behind his previous season total. Add two additional triples and three stolen bases more and the signs of improvement are unmistakable.

Jackson Parish Library Board hold “Special Session”

The Jackson Parish Library Board held a “special session” this past Thursday, June 10th to discuss 2021 Library millage rates and the possibility of an upcoming election regarding such. The meeting was result of the Jackson Parish Police Jury making the statement that it might be possible that they would look at securing surplus funds of the Library to help with shortages in other areas. The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Library Board is set for June 21st to be held in the meeting room of the Jonesboro Branch of the Jackson Parish Library. 

Upcoming weekly schedule for Chatham Branch:

Upcoming weekly schedule for Jonesboro Branch:

Children’s Tales and Tails Summer Reading Program

Bookmobile Schedule: 

Police Jury appreciative of volunteers who participated in Parish Clean Up Day

There wasn’t as many hoped for, but to the ones who gave of their time and braved the hot, sweltry sun for hours on Saturday to help clean up Jackson Parish the members of the Jackson Parish Police Jury, who sponsored the event, says thank you. 

I am appreciative of the people who showed their pride in the parish by turning out and giving of their time,” said JPPJ president Amy Magee, who led the clean-up campaign in District 3. “This is something I would like to see take place more often.”

The inaugural event designed to help in the beautification of the Parish was the brainchild of District 4 Juror John McCarty, who worked tirelessly for almost a year to put the event into action. Juror members from each district spearheaded cleanup efforts in their respective areas as well as several outlying municipalities and Town of Jonesboro officials.

“It makes me feel good to see that we have people in our parish that will give of their time to help keep our neighborhoods and roadways clean,” said McCarty. “I know for a fact that there were several people out there for six or more hours and they should be lauded for their effort.”

Town of Chatham set budget for 2021-22

The Chatham Town Council met in regular session on May 11th where the following members present: Toni Malone, Marvin Davis, Laverne Mixon and Sue Proffer set the 2021-22 fiscal year budget The Mayor was also present. Absent was Mike Wilson. Visitors on hand were: Brenda Williams, Dwayne Lathan, Dwight & Judy Cooper.

In additional action Ordinance 2021-06 was adopted which changed Lots 2,3,10,11,12 of Block 13 from residential to commercial zone. Resolution 2021-13 which accepted the contract with AVR, an i3 Verticals Company for the AVR Utility Billing Software and Services and giving Greg Harris, as Mayor, and/or his designee Bobbi Chatham the authority to sign the contract, and all other related documents was also granted. 


Being a country reared fellow, there is one thing I have encountered, and if you grew up in the country you did too, it is snakes, creepy crawly reptiles with no shoulders that can get my immediate attention.
Over the course of my life, I have had up close and personal encounters with snakes that have slithered themselves into my memory vault.
One of the most memorable events took place when I was a kid down on the creek at the swimming hole. I was enjoying the cool clear waters of Molido creek with my brother, Tom and our cousins Doug and Sambo. Also along on the trip was my little puppy whose name escapes me; I’ll just refer to him as Fido.
While paddling along with Fido, I suddenly felt a sharp pain behind my knee. I thought at first that Tom, Doug or Sambo had sneaked up behind me and pinched me but glancing up, I saw all three on the opposite bank; it was obviously something else that had me by the leg. Reaching down, I pulled up a big black snake as long as the leg he was nibbling on. When my companions saw the snake, they were as concerned as me especially when they saw blood streaming down the back of my leg.
Doug, who apparently was bent on one day becoming a surgeon, reached for his rusty Barlow pocket knife and was preparing to slice into my leg to release the venom. Just before Doug began his procedure, we noticed that there were no fang marks at the site of the bite, just a row of teeth marks indicating I was attacked by a non-venomous water snake. Doug was the only one of us disappointed because he missed his chance to show his surgical skills.
On another occasion, I was hunting squirrels down on Clear Branch when I spotted a squirrel in a tree across the narrow stream. It was an easy hop across to put me on the same side of the water as the squirrel, so I made the leap to the other side. While halfway in my leap, I saw a flash of white at exactly the spot my momentum would have carried me to touch down. The white I saw was inside the mouth of a venomous cottonmouth. What I did next was to defy gravity; somehow, I was able to add to my leap another three feet while airborne and I landed safely on the other side of the snake. To this day, I still don’t know how I was able to do that.
This week, I encountered another snake but this one presented no threat whatsoever to me. My wife and I were having lunch when I looked out on the driveway and saw a snake that was struggling with something it was trying to swallow. I grabbed a shovel, walked out the saw that the snake – I wasn’t sure of the species – was trying to swallow a toad.
I nudged the snake with the shovel, it released the toad which probably set some sort of record in leaving he scene; I never knew a docile toad could move that fast.
I nudged the snake again and it spread its neck like a cobra. Nudging it again, the snake immediately flipped over on its back making me believe it had expired. I knew what it was immediately since I have encountered spreading adders or hog nosed snakes before. It is a completely harmless variety so I walked away leaving it to flip back over and crawl away to safety. A snake and a toad have me to thank for saving both their lives. If you are out and about this time of year, there is a good chance you’ll encounter a snake. In my case, I was bitten by a non-poisonous one, leaped past a bad one and had the opportunity of seeing nature do what it does to protect its own.

”This hog nosed snake was in the process of swallowing a toad until disturbed. After releasing the toad, it flipped onto its back feigning death.” Glynn Harris Photos


CANEY LAKE – Bass are starting to school with best fishing on Yellow Magic lures along with tail spinners around points on the main lake. Old Monster worms and crank baits are best on the deeper holes. Crappie are around the deeper tops and hitting jigs and shiners fished 12 feet deep in 15-25 foot water. Bream are on the beds and hitting crickets and worms. No report on catfish. For information contact Bateaux’s on Caney Lake at 259-6649, Hooks Marina at 249-2347, Terzia Tackle at 278-4498 or the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
BUSSEY BRAKE – A good may 2-3 pound bass are being caught around the willows on spinners and soft plastics. Bream are good around the trees. Crappie are scattered. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
BLACK BAYOU – Bass have been fair around the edges of the grass on jigs and spinners. Bream fishing is good around the tupelo gums. Crappie are scattered and slow. Contact Honey Hole Tackle Shop 323-8707 for latest information.
OUACHITA RIVER – The river is fairly high with best fishing reported in the river lakes down south on jigs and shiners. Bass are fair in the lakes on spinners and soft plastics. Crappie are fair to good fishing jigs and shiners around tops in the river and river lakes. No report on other species. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE D’ARBONNE –Crappie fishing continues to be best fishing the flats in 25 foot water fishing 15 feet deep on shiners or jigs. Bream fishing is good on worms and crickets. Catfishing continues to be good off the banks on night crawlers and cold worms. Bass fishing has been best fishing the deeper channel holes and old sloughs on jigs, crank. For latest reports, call Anderson’s Sport Center at 368-9669 or Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE CLAIBORNE – Bass fishing has been best at night fishing the lighted piers with crank baits. A good many stripers are being caught along with the bass. Some are also being caught along the dark banks at night on black spinners and crank baits. During the days fish the main lake points with crank baits and soft plastics. Bream are on the beds and fishing has been good on crickets and worms. Crappie fishing is fair around the tops and better below the spillway on shiners or jigs. Catfishing is good on night crawlers or cold worms. For latest information, call Kel’s Cove at 927-2264.
LAKE POVERTY POINT – Bass are fair. Catfish and bream are good. Crappie are best fishing jigs or shiners on the south end of the lake. For latest reports, call Poverty Point Marina at 318/878-0101.
LAKE ST. JOHN – No report. For information, call Ken Mahoney at 318-201-3821.
LAKE YUCATAN – The water level is fairly stable with better reports this week on crappie and catfish with bar fish also showing up. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.

Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles alerts customers of phishing scam

The Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles (OMV) is alerting residents of a text message phishing scam that has the potential to steal personal information. Louisiana residents have received text messages from scammers posing as the OMV. The messages originate from unfamiliar phone numbers and claim the recipient can collect a sum of money by clicking a link. The OMV recommends customers ignore and delete such messages.

The Louisiana OMV does not ask customers to provide sensitive personal data through text messages. Customers are encouraged to utilize the Louisiana State Police online system to report suspicious or criminal activity. The secure reporting form is located under the “Suspicious Activity” link at http://www.lsp.org .

The Louisiana OMV offers the following tips to help customers avoid scams:

DO exercise caution with all communications you receive from anonymous sources.
DO confirm the message was generated from a legitimate source.
DO keep an eye out for signs of phishing (rewards, vague URLs, incorrect grammar).
DO NOT click on links in an unsolicited message from an unverified source.
DO NOT send your personal information via text.
DO NOT post sensitive information online.

Additionally, the Louisiana OMV strongly recommends customers remain mindful and cautious when processing online transactions. Some private, unofficial motor vehicle-based websites can collect and store customers’ personal information and charge unnecessary fees. Customers can visit the official OMV website, www.expresslane.org , to process online services safely and securely.

Louisiana state income tax deadline is June 15 for most taxpayers

For most Louisiana taxpayers, the deadline for filing and paying their 2020 Louisiana state income taxes is June 15, 2021. The filing and payment deadline is extended to Aug. 16 for those whose homes, principal places of business, critical tax records or paid tax preparers are in five parishes declared federal disaster areas following severe storms and flooding on May 17, 2021.

Reminder of Camp Meeting to be held June 15-17 at Gloryway Church in Dodson

Brother Ronny Taylor and the congregation of Gloryway Church, located at 1194 Hwy. 505 in Dodson, want to remind you and continue to extend and invitation to attend the 30th annual IWOGF Camp Meeting to be held on June 15-17 at 7:00pm nightly. Come experience the love of Jesus through anointed preaching, singing, and fellowship with God’s people. Meals will be served following each service. 

Flag retirement box available at Jackson Parish Courthouse

In partnership with the National Association of Counties (NACo), the National Flag Foundation, Jackson Parish has installed a flag retirement box at the Jackson Parish Courthouse, in front of the Registrar of Voters office on the first floor. Flags should be folded respectfully before being placed in the box.

The United States Flag Code prescribes flag etiquette — everything from flying it near other flags to instructions on how to raise and lower it. “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem of display, should be destroyed in a dignified way,” says the code. This centrally-located drop-off provides convenience while respecting our national symbol. 

Said NACo Executive Director Matthew Chase, “We are pleased to provide these flag retirement boxes. Helping residents properly dispose of worn U.S. flags is consistent with our commitment to public service and community engagement.”

The National Association of Counties (NACo) unites America’s 3,069 county governments. Founded in 1935, NACo brings county officials together to advocate with a collective voice on national policy, exchange ideas and build new leadership skills, pursue transformational county solutions, enrich the public’s understanding of county government and exercise exemplary leadership in public service. For more information go to: www.naco.org.

Letters to the Editor

Disclaimer!The Jackson Parish Journal (JPJ) welcomes and encourages letters from its readers but states that the views and opinions expressed are solely of the author and are in no way a representation of the beliefs of the JPJ unless otherwise acknowledged.  

Letter to the Editor:

Let me begin by saying thanks to Mr. Ben Ledbetter for starting the Jackson Parish Journal to provide the citizens with local news and other reliable information. I must admit that I had not seen nor even heard of the new Journal until Wednesday morning when I walked into Four Corner’s Coffeehouse in Jonesboro and was greeted with, “Man, ya’ll sho had a heated meeting last night.” I then opened up my laptop, typed in Jackson Parish Journal, and began reading the many headlines. I soon came upon one that read “Undercard Battle.” Although the article did not prick my interest at first, I began speed reading and quickly discovered that it was all about the Council meeting I had attended that Tuesday night.

The reporter stated that Mayor Thompson and I had “acted like children.” Let me make one thing clear: I cannot and will not speak for Mayor Thompson; but if standing up or speaking up for the children of Jackson Parish is “acting like children,” then I will continue to be childish. The reporter also stated that I asked the Council to renounce previous action taken, charging the Boys and Girls Club $500.00 per month for rent. To the contrary, I asked the Council to offer a motion that would bring up the question again for their consideration. This, in effect, would be a motion to rescind or amend an action previously adopted. Yes, Mayor Thompson and I did engage in a heated discussion after Mayor Thompson made several untrue statements. I freely admit that we both spiraled totally out of order. But I refuse to apologize for trying to keep the Boys and Girls Club in Jackson Parish.

Mayor Thompson stated that the Town couldn’t afford to let the B&G Club use the recreation center for free. Yet, he wanted the Council to allow him to purchase a $30,000 vehicle for him to drive around in, which begs me to raise the question, “Why can’t the Mayor purchase himself a personal vehicle with the $60,000 salary he receives as Mayor. After all, that’s what we all do. I close this letter by asking the citizens of Jackson Parish to join me in supporting the Boys and Girls Club and by asking the Mayor and Council to reconsider the previous action of charging the Club for rent. Let’s remember, the Boys and Girls Club consists of “OUR BOYS and OUR GIRLS in Jackson Parish!”

We wish to thank Mr. Eldonta’ Osborne, Chief Executive Officer, Boys and Girls Clubs North Louisiana, for providing services to the boys and girls of Jackson Parish. We, the citizens of Jackson Parish, can also show appreciation by sending a monetary donation to:

Boys & Girls Clubs of North Louisiana
P.O. Box 1844
Ruston, LA 71273

Thank you,

James Bradford

Job Opportunities

(1) The Y Liquors, LLC (Jonesboro, LA) – Looking for a person to work Thursday, Friday & Saturday evenings, from the hours of 3pm-12pm or as needed. If interested please apply in person at 1309 Hwy 813 or call 318-395-2010 & ask for Shelia.

(2) Gracepoint Christian Academy (Jonesboro, LA) – Adding to their team. If you are interested, visit the website to download an employment application. Completed applications can be emailed to gcajonesboro@gmail.com or mailed to:
Gracepoint Christian Academy
1691 S. Hudson Avenue
Jonesboro, LA 71251

(3) Just Wing It (Jonesboro, LA) – Seeking team players for help for at two locations. One is for line/ fry cooking position and the other is for prep/full kitchen line cooking. Come by to apply.

(4) SFC Contract Services is looking for an experienced Groundskeeper team member. The Groundskeeper will clean facility grounds and pick-up and dispose of trash, cut grass and use a string trimmer. They will also assist with cleaning and servicing equipment as well as feed farm animals. The wage for this role will be $12.00 – $15.00 per hour.


Operate land maintenance equipment including tractors, lawn mowers and string trimmers. Can be a full or part time position.
• Housekeeping (cleaning shop, yard area, offices)
• Cuts grass
• Washing equipment with pressure washer (heavy equipment, vehicles, semi-trucks)
• Feeds farm animals
• Run Parts


 Knowledge of the use of tools and equipment in servicing/cleaning equipment and grounds.
 Ability to carry out written and oral instructions.
 Ability to perform manual labor and use tools (string trimmers, rakes, shovels etc.)
 Ability to operate light motor vehicle
 Possess a valid driver’s license and be insurable

Supplemental Information:

Starting Wage commensurate with experience. – Includes Benefit Package Retirement – 401K, Paid Time Off, Holidays and Medical Insurance. The successful candidate will be required to undergo a criminal background check, drug test and physical examination.

SFC Contract Services reserves the right to modify this job description based on business needs.

SFC Contract Services is an Equal Opportunity Employer, building a strong dedicated diverse workforce.

To be considered- email resumes to: BBenefield@sfccs.com

(5) Social Worker – Red River Parish School Board

Applicants must have a Master’s degree in Social Work from a regionally accredited institution or equivalent listed in Bulletin 746. Deadline to submit applications is June 25, 2021 at 12:00 pm. All interested applicants should apply online at rrbulldogs.com. For more information, you may contact Nicole Eason at 318-271-2150.