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West Calcasieu Community Center Arena. (American Press Archives)

West Calcasieu Community Center Arena. (American Press Archives)

Sulphur council member cries foul over board appointment

Last Modified: Saturday, October 13, 2012 8:13 PM

By Natalie Stewart / American Press

SULPHUR — After serving 20 years on the West Calcasieu Community Center Board of Directors, the arena’s visionary was not reappointed. One councilman attributed it to “dirty politics.”

The City Council voted 3-2 to appoint Coy Vincent to the board of directors with council members Mike Koonce and Veronica Allison opposed.

Koonce nominated Chuck Kinney, but for lack of support from fellow council members the nomination died.

Kinney, who said the arena was a “little idea” he had more than 20 years ago when the rodeo arena at Sulphur High School was torn down, has been on the board since its inception in 1992.

Following Koonce’s failed nomination, he thanked Kinney for his service over the past two decades.

“Chuck, I don’t think it’s anything you’ve done wrong, I think Mike Koonce stepped on some toes,” Koonce told Kinney at Tuesday night’s meeting. “Nothing against Coy, I am sure (he will) do a good job but it’s tough to lose somebody with 20 years on this board, who has given his life to building this thing, because of something political.”

Mayor Chris Duncan said two names were submitted for the position — Kinney and Vincent — and that it’s up to the council to decide who is appointed to the position.

Councilman Stuart Moss nominated Vincent for the seat with Randy Favre supporting his move by seconding the motion.

Before voting, Koonce called Vincent to the lectern to ask him why he wanted to sit on the board.

“To bring something to the board, I have been a practicing CPA for almost 30 years,” Vincent responded. “I’ve been very involved with other governmental entities and have done a lot of work with them. It’s just to bring something to the board and help the community and represent the city of Sulphur.”

Koonce also questioned rather Vincent was asked to take the job or came forward on his own to which Vincent said he volunteered “a while back” to a councilman by expressing interest in the position.

Following the council’s appointment of Vincent, Kinney addressed the council saying, “I put my life and everything I had into (the arena).”

“I want to thank the city, the City Council, and the mayor and everyone that’s been involved all these years,” Kinney said. “I don’t think it’s anything I did.”

Koonce told Kinney that he knows he will continue to work and volunteer at the area “even though you got a dirty deal.”

“I think it’s political and it’s a shame that politics have to get in the way of people trying to do good deeds,” Kinney added. “But that’s the way it works and good luck to Coy.”

Duncan told Kinney, “I know you will stay involved ... we appreciate everything you have done and that you’re going to continue, have done, and we know that you’re going to continue.”

The West Cal Arena Board of Directors began in 1992 with Kinney, who is also a vocational agriculture teacher at Sulphur High School, as one of its founding members.

Construction has recently begun on a $9.5 million civic center that will be located near the $4 million arena.

“I had a vision more than 20 years ago, a vision to have a facility in Sulphur that would generate money,” Kinney told the American Press on Friday. “They can take me off the board but my vision has now turned into concrete and steel and it’s not going anywhere. That’s a good thing.”

Kinney said Councilwoman Veronica Allison and Koonce have attended several board meetings and “showed an interest.”

“The other council members haven’t been to a meeting, I’ve never seen them there in my 20 years there,” he said. “They didn’t know what I did anyway. It was just small-town politics.”

“I’m not tired of serving the community,” he added. “I’ll still be out here supporting them, but I won’t have a vote in anything anymore.”

Koonce told the American Press that he “believes” that his nomination for Kinney wasn’t supported by the council because he “objected to a Lake Charles resident being on one of our Sulphur boards” in a June council meeting.

The council voted 4-1, with Koonce opposed, to fill a vacant seat on the Industrial Development Board. Koonce stated then that he didn’t think Tab Finchum should be elected to fill the seat because he isn’t a Sulphur resident.

“Comments were made that Chuck Kinney had to go and I think it was a vote to get back at me, but it hurt Chuck,” Koonce said.

Moss, who nominated Vincent, said that he didn’t think Koonce’s opinion that it was dirty politics was “correct or appropriate.”

“There were two candidates up there and the votes were cast,” Moss said. “Mr. Vincent requested that if a spot came up on the board that his name be submitted. His name was submitted, he is qualified, he’s a member of the community, he is willing and wishing to serve and that’s why his name was submitted.”

According to Vincent’s résumé he submitted to the council, he is a partner at Gragson, Casiday & Guillory LLP and has been a certified public accountant for 29 years.

Vincent is also a member of the Society of Louisiana Certified Public Accountants, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the West Cal Association of Commerce, and a board member of the Brimstone Historical Society.

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