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Story Archives: Move to replace city workers fails
|Move to replace city workers fails|
Despite a campaign promise that current city jobs would be secure after he took office, Winnsboro Mayor Jackie Johnson tried to replace two key city employees — city attorney Tab Singer and fire chief Truman Welch — Monday during his first city council meeting as mayor.
He recommended to the council that Singer be replaced with Carol Lexing, an attorney from Monroe, and Welch be replaced with Sights Hamilton, a firefighter from Alaska.
Johnson's bid to place others in jobs held by the two long-time Winnsboro functionaries died, however, when no councilman offered a motion on his recommendations.
The council did vote to reappoint Skipper Stinson as city supervisor, Roxie Fletcher as city clerk and Doyle Hassell as city auditor, on Johnson's recommendations.
Johnson said after the meeting that he was disappointed that the council refused to support him with the changes he wanted to make.
"Fifty-seven percent of the population of Winnsboro elected me based on the change I promised. I feel that my hands are being tied," said Johnson.
Johnson said Singer had asked that Johnson replace him if he thought it necessary.
Welch needs replacing, Johnson said, because he wasn't doing a good job as fire chief.
"Our fire station is generally unorganized. I had a walk through inspection and could see that. There has also been an excess of overtime at the fire department," Johnson said.
Johnson said he felt that running the city more efficiently justified his reneging on a campaign promise.
"I do take campaign promises very seriously, but I can't stand by and ignore an inefficiency," he said, "I can't ignore someone who is not fulfilling his responsibilities."
Councilman Craig Gill said there is no good reason to replace either Singer or Welch.
"Tab has been our city attorney for 33 years and Truman has been at his job for quite a while. There is an old adage — if it ain't broke, don't fix it," he said.
In other business, the city council decided to table a plan by Johnson to purchase a $14,000 dog kennel to be used to house dogs in a new animal shelter until the plan could be examined more closely by the council.
The Louisiana State Police recently concluded an investigation of the city over the mistreatment of dogs at the current shelter off Robinson Road and a report was turned over to the Franklin Parish District Attorney's Office.
Franklin Parish Assistant District Attorney Johnny Boothe said charges would most likely not be brought against city officials, but the matter might be turned over to a grand jury to make the determination.
Stinson said it would cost an estimated $5,000 to build a fence around the facility and hook the kennel to the city sewage system.
At a special-called meeting last Tuesday, July 13, the city council approved that drainage improvements be chosen for the infrastructure in most need of repair for an application for the $30 million Louisiana Disaster Recovery Block Grant Municipal Infrastructure Program. Cities in Franklin Parish, along with cities in 52 other parishes, are eligible to compete for the money.