Commission OKs director search panel

The Capital Region Planning Commission unanimously approved the formation of a search committee to replace former Executive Director Huey Dugas, who resigned abruptly last week.

The search committee will consist of representatives of the four parishes in the Metropolitan Planning Organization — East and West Baton Rouge, Livingston and Ascension — as well as representatives from the state Department of Transportation and Development and the Federal Highway Administration.

Walter Brooks, executive director of the New Orleans Metropolitan Planning Organization, also has been asked to join the committee, said Riley Berthelot, West Baton Rouge parish president and vice chairman of the CRPC.

All of the proposed members have agreed to participate, Berthelot said.

The commission also approved the appointment of R.J. Goebel as temporary executive director while the search is conducted.

Dugas resigned Jan. 22 in a one-line letter sent as an email attachment to Berthelot.

“This letter serves as my notice of retirement effective today Tuesday, January 22, 2013,” the letter said.

Goebel, the CRPC’s director of planning, was on vacation when Dugas resigned last week. He said he learned of it when he returned from a cruise.

The CRPC is made up of officials from 11 parishes and 38 municipalities and serves as Baton Rouge’s Metropolitan Planning Organization. The metro area is required to have an MPO in order to receive federal highway funds for work on regional transportation planning and projects.

East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Kip Holden said members of the CRPC want to see the organization become more proactive and aggressive in pursuing funding for regional transportation projects.