Moreau retires after criminal allegations
OPELOUSAS — The St. Landry Parish Council appointed Cheryl Milburn as parish registrar of voters on Tuesday, replacing John A. Moreau, who retired Friday after he was arrested on accusations of felony offense of criminal damage to property.
Milburn told the council at Tuesday’s special meeting that she has worked in the Registrar of Voters Office since 1977, trained by Moreau and his mother, Ruby Moreau, and knows every function in the office.
On Friday, Opelousas Police Chief Perry Gallow said John Moreau was arrested by his officers after Moreau allegedly was seen by witnesses damaging a vehicle in the courthouse parking lot.
According to court records, Susan Gerace, an employee who worked in the courthouse, had filed a protective order against Moreau.
In the protective order, Gerace alleged Moreau had previously damaged her vehicle in December.
Parish President Bill Fontenot said following Tuesday’s meeting that Moreau’s attorney, Jason Meche, had presented him with a letter announcing Moreau’s retirement.
“The letter came to me on Friday, and in the letter, Mr. Moreau stated that it was his intention to retire. Because of the holiday weekend, the letter announcing the retirement was not signed (by Moreau) until Monday,” Fontenot said.
In another matter, the council authorized Fontenot to sign a 20-year lease agreement with the Louisiana Yambilee Inc. for a 15-acre tract containing an activities building and agricultural arena that the parish would have to maintain.
The vote on the issue ended 6-6, with Chairman Hurlin Dupre breaking the tie.
According to council attorney Lance Pitre, the Louisiana Yambilee Association bought the property in 1949, and since then, St. Landry Parish governments have signed various lease agreements with the Association to maintain structures that have been constructed at that location.
The agreement approved Tuesday night lets parish government lease and maintain the buildings and property for $1 per year. The building is located west of Opelousas on U.S. 190.
The council had voted at its last regular meeting Wednesday to delay action, pending a special meeting Feb. 12 at the Yambilee building to discuss whether the proposed lease was financially feasible.
Ronald Buschel and Pam Gautreau questioned at Tuesday’s special meeting why the lease was being presented after the council voted on Wednesday to delay action.
Pitre said the council’s action on Wednesday did not include a provision to delay action until they had examined the Yambilee building at the Feb. 12 meeting.
“All the motion said was that the council wanted to table the matter and hold a special meeting,” Pitre said.
Gautreau said it was not prudent to agree leasing the building so soon.
“There is no emergency that exists which would cause us to get into this lease. If we do (sign the lease), it means parish government will be paying for every repair and the buying of equipment,” Gautreau said.
Lena Charles, who spoke at the meeting, said the Yambilee building is a significant site that is used for multi-function purposes.
“It’s important that we not lose this building, because the parish is limited in where people can have activities of a sizeable number,” Charles said.
Fontenot said after the meeting he saw no reason to wait until next month to make a decision on leasing the property.
“I don’t think there is anything so major that needs to be repaired as to condemn the (Yambilee) building,” Fontenot said. “I think it’s a good business decision.
“I’m the administrator for this parish and an engineer. I think I know what to do with the building. We have been talking about this issue for over a year and I think this is something that should have happened over a year ago.”
Voting against authorizing Fontenot to sign the lease were Huet Dupre, Alvin Stelly, Buschel, Gautreau, Wayne Ardoin and Jimmie Edwards.
Council members voting for the authorization were Jimmy Red Jr., Fekisha Miller-Mathews, Leon Robinson, Gary Courville, Timothy LeJeune, Dexter Brown and Hurlin Dupre.