Human Resources reps begin speaking with Phelps employees - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Human Resources reps begin speaking with Phelps employees

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DEQUINCY, LA (KPLC) -

Emotions continue to run high almost one week after employees at Phelps Correctional Center learned the DeQuincy prison would be closing and their jobs would be lost effective Nov. 1.

After meeting with local officials on Wednesday in Baton Rouge, James LeBlanc, Secretary of the Department of Corrections, acknowledged the poor way in which the public found out about the closure.

"I apologized to Mayor Henagan," LeBlanc said. "I could have called him and let him know what was going on."

Meanwhile, at Phelps, Captain Michael Baxter has worked for 22 years. With a teenage son calling DeQuincy home, Baxter doesn't consider the option of transferring to other state facilities a practical one.

"I'm not going to move my family and move my son to another high school for two years," he said. 

But the catch-22 for Baxter is that without moving to another state facility, he's at risk for losing retirement options, even after 22 years of service.

"I'm an exempt employee ... which means I'll lose my (comp) time. I don't know what to do," Baxter said.

To help Baxter and other employees like him, Tanisha Matthews, director of Human Resources with the Department of Corrections (DOC) and representatives from the Louisiana Workforce Commission, are speaking with employees to let them know the options they have.

"Our main goal is to inform the employees of what happens in a layoff," Matthews said. "We want this to impact as few people as possible." 

"It helps some and it hurts some," said Baxter on the presentations by HR and the LWFC.  "Hopefully they can give us some info on what to do."

More from the DOC's HR visit on later editions of 7News.

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