East Feliciana jury discusses gas district equipment use

The East Feliciana Parish Police Jury went behind closed doors Tuesday to discuss public gas system employees using parish equipment for a job on private property.

Several jurors witnessed employees of Gas Utility District 2, a subsidiary of the Police Jury, using a gas district trenching machine Aug. 8 to lay gas and water lines from Battle Road to a private home site.

Gas district manager Michael Bradford, who also is School Board president, said employees of East Feliciana Rural Water System, a private cooperative, needed the gas district’s help because their trenching machine broke down.

He also said he contracted with the property owner to lay a gas line from the road to the home site on his own time, but jurors saw the gas line lying beside the open trench while the workers were on the clock for the gas district.

Bradford said he paid the gas district for the materials used in running the gas line from the road to the home.

The gas district’s board met in executive session with Bradford and his witnesses Aug. 12, emerging to tell a group of police jurors Bradford had done nothing wrong.

The jury Tuesday night went to executive session under a provision of state law that allows private sessions to discuss allegations of misconduct. Bradford was excluded from the session.

When they returned, the jury voted without comment to declare Eileen Siebert’s position on the board vacant because of health reasons and to advertise for a replacement.

“That’s good. That’s all good,” Bradford said.

Some jurors expressed dismay at the Aug. 12 gas board meeting to see Bradford running the meeting in the president’s absence.

A small group of plumbers attended the meeting, along with John Barker, executive director of the State Plumbing Board of Louisiana and a Plumbing Board investigator.

The Plumbing Board does not have jurisdiction over laying gas lines to homes, but regulates other plumbing work, including connecting water lines.

Barker said the board is conducting an investigation as a result of a newspaper article about the controversy.

“When you get to private property, that’s where our law begins,” Barker told the group.

Homeowners should contract with licensed plumbers for work at their homes, he said.

Bradford told Barker he should make sure everyone in the parish knows of the regulations because “95 percent of the people in East Feliciana Parish are in violation.”