Posts tagged ‘westlake’

Longtime Westlake leader dies

Westlake residents are mourning the passing of Jim “Hawk” Herford, 63.

A native and longtime resident of Westlake, he served as its chief of police, was a member of the state pardon board and recently served on the Lake Charles Port Board. He also worked with the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Current parish Chief Deputy Gary “Stitch” Guillory worked under Herford for 15 years before succeeding him as chief of police and called him a close friend.

“He was for Westlake through and through. He cared about the town,” Guillory said.

Former Westlake Mayor Dudley Dixon, who worked with Herford, said the former chief worked hard for the city of Westlake.

“He was elected by the people to serve them, and that’s exactly what he did,” Dixon said.

Both Guillory and Dixon said one of Herford’s favorite hobbies was cooking.

“I think most of his hobbies were taking care of people,” Dixon said.

Dixon said Herford treated his police department employees well.

“He was always one of the guys, but when he needed to use his authority, he did,” Dixon said.

Guillory said he didn’t know of any health problems Herford had.

“He was a pretty healthy guy. He had a hip replacement, but he exercised every day and took pretty good care of himself,” Guillory said.

Herford reportedly collapsed Sunday in a hotel lobby in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., as he and his wife were ending a vacation trip. His cause of death is unknown and funeral services are pending.

January 11, 2011 at 2:25 am

Compromise reached in Westlake police suspension

*published Aug. 17, 2010
BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

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.”

link: http://bit.ly/bhCLf6

August 17, 2010 at 7:56 pm

City attorney backs Cryer

*published Aug. 13, 2010
Van Norman: Westlake police chief had inherent right to suspend officer
BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

WESTLAKE — Citing state Supreme Court cases, City Attorney John Van Norman III said that being able to suspend an officer is one of Police Chief Jeremy Cryer’s inherent rights as chief.

On Monday, Aug. 9, Cryer suspended Michael Dickerson, his opponent in the upcoming election, for two weeks after an internal investigation determined he threatened a woman while on duty. Dickerson has denied the allegation, but on his counsel’s advice declined to comment further.

Under R.S. 33:423, chiefs in certain small towns “shall make recommendations to the mayor and board of aldermen for appointment of police personnel, for the promotion of officers, to effect disciplinary action, and for dismissal of police personnel.”

The provision is part of the Lawrason Act, a set of laws that Westlake was incorporated under. The statutes exempt more than a dozen municipalities, along with towns whose populations fell between 5,900 and 6,200 people as of the 1990 census. None of the exemptions apply to Westlake.

Van Norman said he knows the law grants oversight powers to the city’s governing board, but that he deferred to the chief’s inherent power to run his office.

“If you have an officer who doesn’t want to work on Saturday and he goes to the City Council, is the chief supposed to let that shift be short an officer,” he said.

Van Norman cited two state Supreme Court cases: Lentini v. Kenner and Gros v. Patterson.

In the Lentini case, the high court agreed with a police chief’s contention that a city ordinance, in listing specific job duties for chiefs, unlawfully limited his authority.

“Municipalities derive their powers from the State,” the ruling reads. “Being creatures of this higher authority, they cannot legislate beyond the bounds fixed by the State Constitution and general laws.”

In the Gros case, the court said the assistant police chief of Patterson couldn’t sue for back pay and benefits he said he was owed for the period between his suspension by the chief and his firing by the council.

His pay had been withheld by the mayor.

The justices agreed with an appellate court ruling that said Gros wasn’t entitled to recover wages because he never took legal action against the suspension.

link: http://bit.ly/c78SdL

August 13, 2010 at 7:54 pm

Candidate for chief of police suspended

*published Aug. 12, 2010
Dickerson allegedly threatened woman
BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

WESTLAKE — A city police officer who’s challenging the chief of police for his job has been suspended for two weeks, but the action apparently violates state law.

Michael Dickerson, a 14-year veteran with the department, was placed on paid leave Monday after an internal investigation showed “numerous policy violations,” Chief Jeremy Cryer said.

Dickerson denied allegations he threatened a woman July 28, but under advice from his attorney, he declined to comment further in an interview with the American Press.

Cryer said his decision wasn’t politically motivated. The chief, who has led the 20-member Westlake Police Department for six years, is facing a challenge from Dickerson in the Oct. 2 election.

“The internal investigation had to take place because he was on duty and in uniform when this took place,” Cryer said.

Under the Lawrason Act — a set of state laws that apply to Westlake and other non-chartered municipalities — elected chiefs can’t promote, discipline or fire officers without first recommending the actions to the mayor and City Council.

In this case, evidence from the internal investigation would have to be presented to the council in executive session, and council members would make a decision.

As of Aug. 11, Westlake city records listed no agenda item for a special meeting or executive session.

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 July 28, Richmond said she moved the sign, with the owner’s permission, to an area behind the building to protect it from 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 had an angry tone and angry eyes.

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

Richmond said she lives outside the city limits and has no stake in the election.

Cryer said he referred her to the Calcasieu Sheriff’s Office, which referred her to the district attorney, with whom she is scheduled to meet on Friday.

link: http://bit.ly/9u6Qtd

August 12, 2010 at 7:48 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.

link: http://bit.ly/9GfH0Q

July 21, 2010 at 8:29 pm

Council considers putting permitting services online

BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

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.

link: http://bit.ly/d9kigY

June 22, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Westlake annexes park property, prepares for tournament

BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

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.”

link: http://bit.ly/9ovpvL

March 16, 2010 at 4:37 pm Leave a comment

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