Dixie Inn to add to police force

By Tina Montgomery

The Mayor and Board of Aldermen for the Village of Dixie Inn unanimously approved hiring a new police officer during the November 8 monthly meeting.

Officer Zane Crittenden, who presently works for the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Department, was introduced to the Board by Police Chief James Edwards. 

“He’s the best of the ones that applied. He seems perfectly fit for us and would be a good asset for the police department,” Edwards said.

Edwards said Crittenden would start November 23 after giving notice to the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Department. While waiting to attend the police academy in January, Crittenden will do ride-alongs with the other officers and work shifts with them for on the job training. Edwards proposed a starting pay of $14.50/hour for Crittenden, to be raised to $15/hour upon completion of the police academy training. The Board approved his hiring and pay rate with a unanimous vote.

In further police department business, Edwards presented an option for the purchase of a new police vehicle. The department’s original plan was to purchase a Ford pickup truck but Edwards was informed by the Ford dealership that the trucks would no longer be available. Edwards said a Ford SUV Interceptor could be purchased instead and would have all the necessary options needed for the police department, lacking only the truck bed space. The SUV could be available for delivery by spring but that would fall into the Village’s current fiscal year’s budget.

In previous meetings the Board agreed to make the vehicle purchase out of next year’s budget. Edwards said the SUV could be ordered with a priority code placed on the purchase order to make delivery available later next year so the cost would be within the next fiscal year’s budget. Edwards further stated that the cost for the SUV would be less than the projected cost for the pickup truck saving the Village about $8,000. The SUV Interceptor purchase would add another new vehicle to the department, giving them 3 new much needed units. The Board voted to table the SUV purchase for now so they could get more information about the time frame it would need to be ordered and delivered.

Edwards also reported that the police department received over 30 lbs. of medication on the October 29 Drug Take Back Day that was then turned over to the DEA for destruction. He also showed the Board a body armor vest donated by the US Deputy Sheriff’s Association. The body armor is made for active rifle shooters and is designed to be worn over an officer’s regular body armor as needed. Edwards said he found information about the body armor and made a request to the Association which donates equipment to small town police departments. Three vests were given to the Village police department and are valued at about $1200 each. 

Edwards said, “We’re lucky to have them. They also have other stuff but you can only make one request a year. So, next year I’ll reach out to them to see what else we can get.” 

Wrapping up the police department report, Edwards said he was able to save money on the radar unit that had been approved for purchase by getting a refurbished unit with a warranty. The refurbished unit was $1,200; a new radar unit would have been $,2400.

Mayor Donna Hoffoss presented a couple of grant opportunities from Keep Louisiana Beautiful. The first was a grant application for trash receptacles. The grant would provide up to 10 trash receptacles. 

Hoffoss told the Board, “I don’t really think we need that many. I’m thinking only 5. Two at each park and one here at the office.” 

The receptacles would be given through the grant at no cost to the Village. The Aldermen and Mayor discussed the different types of receptacles they could order. The Board approved the Mayor’s request to look into getting the receptacles.

Hoffoss said there was also a grant to pay for a welcome sign coming into Dixie Inn with the provision that any plants placed around the sign were native to Louisiana.  Aldermen Judy McKenzie and Lance Milligan agreed that a nice welcome sign is something they have long wanted to have for Dixie Inn. 

Former mayor Kay Hallmark-Stratton, who was attending as a member of the public, informed the Board that a previous administration had looked into getting a welcome sign but efforts were thwarted by the DOT’s requirement for the sign to be located out of the highway department’s right of way and maintenance around the sign. 

“We looked into it and the only place that was flat, where you could build something, was across the road at the Brown property,” Hallmark-Stratton said. 

That location would be on private property and the Village would have to potentially enter into a lease agreement with the owner to have the sign there. Several locations were discussed among the Mayor, Aldermen and Hallmark-Stratton but none seemed like suitable or feasible locations. Further issues were mentioned by Hallmark-Stratton about the type of sign that DOT would allow and maintenance around the sign.  The Board agreed to table this until the next meeting to get more information about potential locations for the sign.

The next regular session for the Board of Aldermen is scheduled for December 13 and is open to the public.


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