Eyesore – Bids will be taken for the demolition of this decrepit house at 6365 Main Hwy in north St. Martinville.(Karl Jeter)
City Council adopts employee handbook
A long-awaited policies and procedures manual for St. Martinville city employees has been completed.
After a few questions from members at the first meeting of the new decade on Monday, Jan. 6, the council gave unanimous approval for its adoption.
One issue clarified at Mayor Melinda Mitchell’s request concerned random drug testing. Chief Administrator Avis Gutekunst suggested a system that would use the last digit of employees’ Social Security numbers to determine who would be subjected to a random test.
Police Chief Ricky Martin said that companies that administer tests usually have their own system for random selection and Councilman Mike Fuselier suggested that bids from testing labs be taken to ensure the lowest available cost.
A second issue concerned whether policies about work by city employees on private property was included in the handbook. That issue has caused problems for the Public Works Department in the past.
Fuselier commented that, since such work is generally illegal, it probably does not need to be included. Gutekunst responded that it is not presently included, but that the manual will be subject to changes as needed and that policy can be added if the council chooses.
Councilman Craig Prosper suggested that the 40-plus page document might be published and made available on-line instead of printing out the many hundreds of pages needed to supply a copy to each employee.
In other business, Building and Zoning Coordinator Danielle Fontenette reported on the continuing process of addressing a badly dilapidated structure at 6365 North Main Hwy. Despite objections from Councilmen Juma Johnson and Edmond Joseph, the council will solicit bids for demolition.
Johnson said more should be done to locate and consult anyone who may have an ownership interest. Fontenette said all that is required is being done. Despite required notices being delivered and signed as received by the listed owner, no one has come to council meetings as requested.
An inspection was conducted and the building was found to be unrecoverable. Neighbors have complained that it is open and being used for illicit purposes.
Fontenette said that there will still be plenty of time for any interested owners to intervene if they choose.
The council also awarded contracts in the amount of $15,000 to two low bidders for fencing repairs and field improvements to the baseball facilities at Magnolia Park and authorized Chief Martin to move a reserve patrol officer to full-time duties.
Finally, Councilman Dennis Paul Williams was criticized by resident Nary Smith for failing to remove his beret during the opening prayer and pledge of allegiance.
Williams, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, responded that Smith’s comment was “a cheap shot” and his patriotism and citizenship have been demonstrated over his entire life.