Posts tagged ‘city council’

Westlake officials take oaths of office

WESTLAKE — City Council members and the city’s top law enforcer were sworn in Monday.

Councilwoman Lori Peterson was the only member with an opponent on the ballot.

“I think we all (on the council) want to work together to make sure we keep the city moving forward with more infrastructure projects,” Peterson said.

She said she will encourage residents to be more involved in council business and attend more meetings.

Mayor Dan Cupit elaborated on current and future infrastructure projects in the city.

“I’m really proud of our development north of town and the golf course and subdivision, which has about 10 houses in it now,” Cupit said.

He said he is looking forward to a new police station and improvements to John Stine and Myrtle Springs roads.

New Police Chief Mike Dickerson said he plans to expose his officers to more training.

“I think they are welltrained coming in, but I want us to work with other agencies to keep up with new laws, techniques and procedures,” Dickerson said.

“Criminals come up with new stuff all the time, so officers have to constantly train and be ready for them.”

Wally Anderson, John Cradure, Bob Hardey and Dan Racca returned to the council; each was unopposed in the last election.

December 16, 2010 at 2:37 am

Compromise reached in Westlake police suspension

*published Aug. 17, 2010

WESTLAKE — The West–lake City Council on Monday crafted a compromise bet–ween Police Chief Jeremy Cryer and a city police officer challenging him for his job who was initially put on a two-week suspension.

As of Monday, Capt. Michael Dickerson is on voluntary unpaid leave until the Oct. 2 municipal election. Cryer said has said the suspension was not politically motivated.

The decision came after an hour-long session in which Cryer presented the findings of an internal investigation into allegations that Dicker–son threatened a woman while on duty on July 28.

The suspension is now in effect for eight days, and Dickerson is allowed to use benefits such as vacation and comp time to collect pay until the election.

Cryer would not say who suggested the compromise, but that he had no complaints about the decision.

Dickerson, a 14-year department veteran, has denied the allegations, but declined to comment further.
The incident was reportedly over a campaign sign.

On July 27, the owner of a hair salon on Sampson Street reportedly allowed Dickerson to place a campaign sign in front of her business.

The complainant, Pam Richmond, works at the salon and said she was under the impression that Cryer would also place a campaign sign in front of the business.

On the morning of July 28, Richmond said she moved the sign, with the owner’s permission, to an area behind the building to protect it from coming bad weather.

Dickerson reportedly asked Richmond not to remove the sign and said that if she didn’t like it, to call him and he would remove it.

Richmond said Dickerson came in the salon, spoke with the owner, then came and blocked her in a corner. She said he used a very “angry tone” and had “angry eyes.”

“I thought he was about to get violent,” Richmond said. “I was shocked, and that’s why I filed the complaint.”

Richmond said she lives outside the city limits and has no stake in the election. She also said her son, Tho–mas Richmond, a Westlake police officer, had no bearing on her decision.

“An issue occurred, I had to take action,” Cryer said. “Obviously I think I did the right thing.”


August 17, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Westlake council votes to maintain millage rate

WESTLAKE — The City Council on Monday voted to maintain the city’s millage rate at 6.4 for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

Finance Director Lonnie Smart said the maximum allowable increase to 6.49 would have upped the city’s income by only about $2,300.

“We just didn’t see the need to pass that on to the taxpayer,” Smart said. “It’s such a small amount.”

Smart said the recommendation was from the city’s senior accountant, Jimmy Ashworth.

“This doesn’t mean we won’t look at increases in the future, but right now we don’t see the need,” Smart said.

For the 2009-2010 year, revenue based on the assessed value of property in the city declined by $390,027 to $23,749,360, according to city records.

A taxing body may roll millages forward to make up for any loss of revenues caused by reduced assessment.


July 21, 2010 at 8:29 pm

Top candidates being interviewed for Lake Charles fire chief job


Lake Charles officials will spend most of the week interviewing 14 candidates for chief of the Lake Charles Fire Department.

The selection committee consists of City Councilmen Dana Jackson and Rodney Geyen; Calcasieu Parish Chief Deputy Gary “Stitch” Guillory; and Sam Wilkerson, vice president of human resources for First Federal Bank.

Jackson said the members were chosen based on their roles on the council or for their professional supervisory experience.

Interviews began Monday, with each applicant spending about two hours with the committee.

“We’re going to get that down to two to four candidates, and they will go through a second round of interviews with the mayor, who makes the final decision,” Jackson said.

The committee is looking for someone whose leadership abilities stand out and who can work well with both the firefighters and the city administration, Jackson said.

All candidates had to pass a civil service exam before they were allowed to apply. Half of the men are from the Lake Charles Fire Department, and others come from departments in Lafayette, Carencro, Basile and Ruston, Jackson said.

“There are a number of good applicants so far,” he said. “One thing I can say about all of them is they’re very passionate about being a fireman.”

Jackson said most of the men have at least 20 years’ experience and that the committee has a list of questions to ask each applicant.

“One of the big factors is overtime and how they would correct that,” he said. “It’s been a problem in the past.”

Jackson said that last fiscal year, the department was given $2.4 million for overtime, while Lafayette’s fire department — which is much bigger — only needed $500,000.

“We want a guy who can come in with a budget and stick to it, and we want him to be able to handle things internally,” Jackson said.

Of the 14 applicants, seven work for the Lake Charles Fire Department; two work for Lafayette’s; one isn’t a firefighter; and one each is from Carencro, Sulphur, Basile and Ruston, said Wendy Goodwin, city human resources director.

Goodwin said state law says the city has to select a new chief within 60 days after the civil service tests are certified by a local civil service board.

Chief David Manuel retired in April after 37 years with the Lake Charles Fire Department. He had been chief since 2003.


June 25, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Council considers putting permitting services online


WESTLAKE — The City Council on Monday discussed putting all permit services online.
As part of an agreement with the state, the city’s permit process would be provided through the “My Permit Now” system, said Terri Hawes, city permit clerk.

“The charge would be for each permit issued,” and the setup fee would be based on the average number of permits the city issues each year, Hawes said.

She said all past permits could be scanned into the system, which would be accessible to customers and contractors.

“You can find planning reviews, inspections and certificate of occupancy — anything that’s been done on your property,” Hawes said.

She said about a dozen parishes and cities in Louisiana use the system and that their clerks gave her good reviews at a recent meeting in Shreveport.

Also, city Finance Director Lonnie Smart gave an update on the city’s 2010-2011 budget.
“In this year’s budget we have fewer things to tackle,” Smart said, referring to the completed golf course.

Smart said the focus will be on infrastructure, with one of the biggest projects being the new water treatment plant on Jones Street.

“A large part of the money is a loan through the state Department of Health and Hospitals’ Office of Public Health,” Smart said.

The OPH gave the city a $2 million loan, and $870,000 came from the federal stimulus bill, according to a news release provided to the American Press.

Smart said the new plant replaced an outdated system and will have a 300,000-gallon water storage tank and emergency generator.


June 22, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Westlake annexes park property, prepares for tournament


WESTLAKE — The City Council on Monday voted unanimously to annex three tracts of land just north of the city limits.

The move was taken after a request from the Ward 4 recreation board to be annexed into the city limits.

The land includes Pinederosa Park and the adjacent baseball fields and 40 acres of land on the northeast corner of John Stine and Myrtle Springs roads.

The board wanted the land within the city limits to have the benefit of Westlake police patrols, said city clerk Andrea Mahfouz.

Councilwoman Lori Peter–son called it “perfect timing” because baseball season kicks off April 5.

The council approved a resolution to accept a $10,000 grant and to sponsor, with the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, the upcoming Southwest Louisiana Open golf tournament at the National Golf Club of Louisiana.

The event is part of the Adams Golf Pro Tour.

“This is where a lot of young guys get their start,” said Ron Brown, the club’s Adams Tour general manager.

“These are the guys that you will later see in the PGA Tour.”


March 16, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Council OKs start of water plant work

* published Sept. 15, 2009

WESTLAKE — The City Council on Monday voted to begin improvements on the city’s water treatment plant.

A second water filtration system would be added to the Jones Street plant to handle increased volume from the recently opened golf course and subdivision.

The water well has been dug and filters installed, but the storage tank and extra housing have not been installed, said City Clerk Andrea Mahfouz.

The project would be funded through a Department of Health and Hospitals lowinterest loan.

Mahfouz estimated the project’s price tag at $3 million, but said the city would be required to pay 20 percent of that, with the rest covered by federal stimulus money.


September 15, 2009 at 10:15 pm

IN WESTLAKE: Local golfers teed off at proposed fees for development course

*published Jul 28, 2009

WESTLAKE — Golf rates for the city’s National Golf Course of Louisiana was a contentious topic Monday at a City Council special meeting.

The council, minus John Cradure, split on whether to accept the rates. Wally Anderson and Bob Hardey voted against them, and Lori Peterson and Dan Racca voted for them.

The rates, explained by Aaron Czajka (pronounced tshay-ka), regional manager for Billy Casper Golf, were derived from research from the company’s 180 other courses and from research of area golf courses.

The rates for residents of Westlake would be $30 on weekdays and $40 on weekends, with senior and junior rates of $18 and $28.

Rates would also vary depending on the time of day. Golf cart rentals — of $14 per rider — would be optional except on weekdays and holidays.

Czajka said he visited other nearby courses — Graywood, Coushatta, L’Auberge — and felt the city had a “market leader in experience for the avid golfer.”

“What we have here isn’t a $20 course,” Czajka said.

“It’s not a $30 course,” said Peterson, citing services and the value of the homes being built around the course.

Phillip Abshire, the accountant who consults with the city, backed Czajka’s proposal.

“They have done their homework. They know what type of course is out there and the projected rounds that will be played,” Abshire said.

Czajka said the council can review and adjust rates at any time. He suggested a quarterly review.

About a dozen people — half from the city and half from Lake Charles and elsewhere — attended the meeting.

Gary Anderson, who lives in Ward 4 in the outlying areas of Westlake said he didn’t agree with the council’s decision.

“Money still drives people,” he said. “If the prices are out of reach, you won’t have enough people to support the course.”

Ron Hughes of Westlake said he has memberships at Mallard Cove and Frasch golf courses and doesn’t plan to switch, even though he would be eight blocks away, mainly because of the price.

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July 28, 2009 at 5:46 pm

IN WESTLAKE: Burn ban on hold for subdivision

*published June 2, 2009

WESTLAKE — The City Council on Monday suspended the city’s no-burn ordinance to allow residents in Augusta Village to clear off any remaining trees, stumps or undergrowth.

Councilman Bob Hardey and other members voted to suspend the ordinance on the condition that property owners have a burn plan approved by the city’s fire department and have liability insurance.

Residents will not be allowed to burn debris on their property once Whisper–ing Pines golf course opens or people begin to build homes.

Fire Chief Jacques Picou said he has guidelines that people should follow to receive approval.

Liability insurance for the lot can be added to a current homeowner’s policy, said councilwoman Lori Peterson.

“If they (the owner) hire a contractor to clear the lot, they need to make sure to have a copy of his insurance,” said city attorney John Van Norman.

Budget issues created confusion among some members of the council, which also approved plans for landscaping, golf course bathroom design style and aerators for fountains.

When questions arose about the possibility of budget overruns, Councilman Wally Anderson said a lack of timely updates created the confusion and that the money should be available.

Mayor Dan Cupit backed him, saying he was sure the money was there, but did not have specifics.

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June 2, 2009 at 4:03 pm