LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -The parish president in Ascension Parish has come under fire for leaving for Las Vegas, while Hurricane Barry was a threat. He went to the annual conference of the National Association of Counties (NACo.) Seven Calcasieu Police Jurors went to that same conference.
For years, Calcasieu Police Jurors have attended the NACo conference and this year was no exception.
Those who went are Police Jury President Kevin White, Vice President Shelly Mayo, Kevin Guidry, Tony Guillory, Shalon Latour, Hal McMillin and Dennis Scott.
Calcasieu Administrator Bryan Beam says in no way did their absence hamper hurricane planning or response efforts here.
“There was never any concern of not having the right people here for this Hurricane Barry threat,” said Beam.
And he says President White stayed until they were sure.
“The key thing here is that he was here on their behalf. We actually had what’s called an executive policy group meeting that Thursday morning. That is in our ordinance. The police jury president leads the meeting, all six mayors are there, and the sheriff,” said Beam.
White says he attended the conference simply to register Calcasieu and submit a vote Sunday. He says he immediately left Las Vegas and was back in Calcasieu Parish before the worst of the storm Sunday evening. Monday morning as flood waters were rising, White says he was helping residents affected by the storm.
Beam says the final accounting is not yet complete, but so far they estimate the cost for registration, air fare, hotel, and meals to be around $15,000. He says those who bring spouses or a guest, pay for them with their own money. To further break it down they estimate the cost of registration for seven jurors at $3,430; travel (air fare) at $4,057; lodging at $5,875; meals at $1,987 all total, $15,350. But more detailed and accurate numbers should be available on Monday.
Beam says jurors seem to benefit a lot from information and networking at the NACo conference.
"You get a lot of good information in the sessions, but also talking with people from all over the country who, in their case are other elected officials, and ask them how they are dealing with issues. That is extremely helpful," said Beam.
Beam says there is strength in numbers and that counties working together have made strides on issues like drainage, that affect people across the country.
Parish officials say all the receipts from the trip are not yet available. But, in response to our public records request, they say they will have them ready Monday.