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Seat on waterworks district board to be vacant until civil suit settled

Last Modified: Friday, September 27, 2013 7:48 PM

By John Guidroz / American Press

Calcasieu Parish police jurors on Thursday voted 7-5 to leave a seat on the five-member Ward 4 Waterworks District 4 board vacant until a lawsuit involving one of the board’s members is settled.

The suit involves Ollie L. “Johnny” Johnson, who has served on the board since 2008. During the agenda committee meeting police jurors voted to keep the position vacant, overturning a recommendation by District 14 Police Juror Hal McMillin to have Johnson reappointed. The full Police Jury will consider the issue at its regular meeting Oct. 3.

Johnson is a defendant in a suit filed in 14th Judicial District Court involving an incident at the Westlake Recreation Center in March 2012. The American Press obtained a petition filed by Shari Williamson stating that Johnson “harassed, insulted and threatened” her father after a board meeting.

The report says that when Johnson began to “advance aggressively toward her father,” Williamson stepped in between him and Johnson. Johnson then “violently struck (Williamson) repeatedly in the chest and breast area, in an attempt to push her aside.” The case is pending.

Williamson asked police jurors to reconsider its consideration of the reappointment and spoke of the incident mentioned in the suit. Her attorney, Maurice Tynes, was not present at the meeting.

Richard Hebert, a former board member, said he did not approve of Johnson being reappointed.

Occie Norton, the board’s president, said Johnson is “an integral part of our team.”

“Johnny has been instrumental in fostering a good environment for our employees, which hasn’t been that way in the past, from their own admission,” he said.

McMillin said Johnson is “an excellent board member” and has received praise from other board members and the board’s president.

“This is a matter of two people having two different stories that needs to be played out in a court of law,” he said. “If I don’t reappoint (Johnson), it makes it look as if I’m maybe saying he’s guilty of something. I’m not the guy to make that decision.”

McMillin said he will ask for Johnson’s “immediate resignation” if he is found to be in the wrong. Johnson said he would agree to resign if a judgment is rendered against him.

District 5 Police Juror Nic Hunter said the board “should not be without a member,” especially if the outcome of the suit is appealed.

“Can this thing go on for two years if there is an appeals process there?” he said. “I think a board deserves to have a full-member board.”

District 3 Police Juror Elizabeth Griffin appointed Johnson to the board in 2008. Griffin said during the meeting that she made the appointment based on a recommendation from McMillin.

Police Jurors Francis Andrepont, Griffin, Kevin Guidry, Dennis Scott, Tony Stelly, Ray Taylor and Sandra Treme voted in favor of keeping the seat on the board vacant.

Hunter, Chris Landry, James Mayo, McMillin and Shannon Spell voted against the recommendation.

Police Juror Guy Brame abstained from voting, and Les Farnum was not present at the meeting.

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