Police Jury deals with a controversial issue at Tuesday meeting

The meeting of the Jackson Parish Police Jury this past Tuesday was not your normal, run-of-the-mill kind of meeting. Most agendas contain mostly governmental issues and concerns. This one had an item attached that on the surface asked for a simple action to be taken but put each juror on the spot to take either a conservative or liberal stance about a controversial social issue.

The session started on a somber note when Juror Amy Magee asked that an addendum to the agenda be made regarding the issuance of a Proclamation in honor and memory of Ward 7 representative Lynn Treadway, who passed away the day before.

Gerald Long, the point person for US Senator Bill Cassidy, picked up the spirits of all in attendance next. His detailed update of the ongoing Broadband Connect Program included applauding the panel for their part in what he called “setting the bar” for the state. (For more on that see the “Broadband Project in Jackson Parish Rapidly Moving Forward” article)

Lewis Chatham, Magee, John McCarty, Todd Culpepper (President), and Tarneshala “Niki” Cowans then approved recommendations from the various committees including the following:
1. Allow Mr. Culpepper and Mr. (Brad) Roller to reach out for any legislative assistance with regard to the East Hodge Water System which is down to one operating pump.
2. Approve a $500 per month salary increase for the Coroner.
3. Accept the bid of $403,307.50 from Amethyst Construction for Contract I – Asphalt Project for the 2023 Road Program.
4. Accept the bid of $284,280.00 from Dreher Contracting for Contract II – Surface Treatment Project for the 2023 Road Program.

Up to this point and following the agreement to let Edquado Howard and Walter Johnson attend a LSWA Workshop in Shreveport, LA on July 11 & 12, 2023 the members of the jury had been in total unison with their action. That changed when the next agenda item was presented.

The agenda item was stated as such: Discuss and act on giving the President authority to send a letter to Library Board asking that the book titled Families, Families, Families be removed, and any similar books be removed.

This brought much discussion on how the book, which portrays non-traditional family and social values, should be interpreted and what rights the jury members had to make any recommendation or act. As opposing sides stressed their point, quiet comments could be heard in the audience and heads nodded in agreement or dissension. Loud applause even broke out after one particular point had been stressed.

When the vote was finally called for it was agreed by a slim 3-2 margin that President Culpepper would be given authority to send a letter to the Library Board requesting the book be removed.

The session quickly moved forward from that point with approval given on:
1. Provide a Resolution for Jackson Parish to join the state Attorney General’s lawsuit against FEMA.
2. Renew the lease agreement with E-911 Communications District for the Blake Building.
3. Approve the election results of the Health Unit Tax renewal.
4. Adopt a proclamation in honor of Mr. Milton Bryant.
5. Adopt a proclamation in honor of Mr. Lynn Treadway

One item was not approved but instead referred to the Finance Committee for further research, which involved the request by Pine Belt Discuss Multi-Purpose Community Action Agency for financial assistance.

In closing comments, Jury members reminded those in attendance that while opinions and beliefs may be different at times the panel stood united in their commitment to work together to do what is best for the parish and reaffirmed their respect for each other.

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