Carolyn Roy | News Editor
The City Council approved the Mayor’s choice for a new public works director at the council meeting Monday. Donald Forrest Sr., grew up on Cane River, has lived in Natchez since he was 7 and graduated from Cloutierville High School. He worked for the La. DOTD for 33 years. He is a certified inspector and is certified in paving, asphalt and concrete construction and excavation. Forrest will start work Aug. 16.
He said his first task will be to evaluate equipment and personnel. Councilman Dale Nielsen cast the only dissenting vote against Forrest saying he preferred promoting within and would have promoted interim director Freddie Bernstine.
The council approved giving City employees a four-day weekend by designating Friday, Sept. 3 an official holiday. Nielsen said the extra day off was in appreciation for the employees’ hard work. Also, City crews will begin the busiest time of the year as they prepare for Christmas.
The Natchitoches Regional Airport received $32,000 from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) that will be used for operations that include salaries. This is the third allocation from the ARP. The airport is the recipient of several federal grants administered through the La. DOTD that total nearly $4 million.
The grants are for reconstruction of a runway that allows the planes to taxi onto the runway at the end rather than in the middle; LED lighting; better facilities for agricultural planes; removal of trees; and other projects. The grants are non-matching which means the City does not have to match them financially.
The council adopted a resolution approving a change order that calls for an extension for ASB Utility for water treatment system renovations.
The council authorized an agreement with Data Center LLC for redistricting services. Councilman Eddie Harrington said the parish participation in the census was abysmal at only 50 percent.
The council authorized several law firms to litigate potential claims against vaping and e-cigarette companies. Their retainer agreements are at no cost to the City and could result in financial settlements if successful. Those firms are Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, PC;; Gori Law Firm; Washington & Wells LLC; Goza & Honnold LLP; Wagstaff & Cartmell LLP; Panish, Shea & Boyle LLP; Barn & Budd PC; and Walkup Melodia Kelly & Scoenberger PC.
The council adopted a resolution authorizing the Mayor to advertise and accept bids for renovations to the Texas and Pacific Railroad Depot. Bids will be accepted until 2 p.m. Aug. 26.
The next council meeting will be Monday, Aug. 31.