West Feliciana taps EBR’s Jim Ferguson as public works director

Updated at 2:30 p.m. — Jim Ferguson, a longtime East Baton Rouge Parish Department of Public Works engineer, has been tapped to serve as director of public works and planning and zoning for West Feliciana Parish.

Ferguson’s appointment by West Feliciana Parish President Kevin Couhig is slated to be confirmed Monday night by the Parish Council.

“We’re lucky to have such a qualified and well-respected person willing to lead the parish in this critical area,” Couhig said Friday.

Ferguson, an 11-year veteran of the East Baton Rouge public works department, served as chief engineer over construction for the parish.

He is slated to begin work in West Feliciana Parish on March 10 at a salary of $115,000 a year.

Ferguson said that if he is confirmed, his last day with East Baton Rouge Parish will be March 7.

“I love what I do in East Baton Rouge Parish and I planned on finishing my career there. I had no idea I would have the opportunity to work in West Feliciana Parish, our home. It was an opportunity to good to pass up,” Ferguson, 44, said Friday afternoon.

Ferguson and his family have been residents of West Feliciana Parish for 10 years.

Ferguson said he is vested with the city-parish retirement system but he is not retiring.

Couhig said became aware of Ferguson’s talents and background when Ferguson applied to become a member of West Feliciana Parish’s economic development board.

“I saw his resume and thought, wow! He is a remarkable get for our parish,” Couhig said.

Ferguson will become the parish’s first director of public works and planning and zoning. The director position was created when the parish approved a new home rule charter in 2012 that created a parish council form of government. Couhig is the parish’s first parish president, another creation of the new form of government.

Prior to the new government, which launched in December, public works issues were supervised by former parish manager John Hashagen.

Couhig said Hashagen is set to retire.

Hashagen became parish manager in February 2012. He was appointed interim parish manager in June, 2011. Prior to holding that position, he served as superintendent of West Feliciana Parish Consolidated Water District No. 13 since 1999.

Ferguson has an engineering degree from the University of Mississippi and a masters of business administration from LSU.

“When this opportunity came up, I decided I needed to take it because it’s a way to do something in our home area. I know it’s not going to be easy but I’m ready for the challenge,” Ferguson said.