Clinton mayor picks new chief of police

Newly elected Mayor Lori Ann Bell appointed Fred G. Dunn as the town’s police chief Wednesday during her first meeting with the Board of Aldermen, replacing longtime Police Chief Eddie Stewart.

Stewart, who had served three years as police chief during the administration of defeated Mayor Don Reason, left the meeting without comment after the board concurred with Bell’s appointment.

Stewart also served as chief for 12 years until he was forced out by then-Mayor Donald Jefferson in 2005.

During a political forum in October, Bell told the audience she had no intention of firing Stewart if she were elected, but Stewart said Bell had not talked to him about staying on the job before or after she took office Jan. 1.

Dunn, who has worked for the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office for the past six months, also served 11 years as a Clinton police officer and left as a lieutenant in charge of the uniform patrol division.

“I will be fair but firm,” Dunn said after the board adjourned.

“I will have an open-door policy, a true open-door policy. I’m willing to listen to anyone who has any ideas for this department,” he said.

Bell also reappointed Charles E. Griffin II as town attorney, Douglas Beauchamp as fire chief and Andrea M. Adams as town clerk.

The mayor said she has not decided on a replacement for Russ Hicks, the town’s utility maintenance supervisor, but town employee Charlie Brown is the interim supervisor.

Hicks resigned, along with office employee Sissy Burge, Bell said.

Incumbent board members Clovis Matthews Sr., George Kilbourne, Johnny Beauchamp and Lisa Washington also began new four-year terms, along with Kim Wilson Young. Young won the seat that Bell formerly held.

Other topics before the board included:

PARADE APPROVAL: The aldermen agreed to allow Feliciana Family and Friends to stage the annual Mardi Gras parade at 11 a.m. Feb. 2 without charging fees established in a town ordinance.

Members of the sponsoring group had not been charging the schools for their parades. The board agreed to study the ordinance for possible changes.

SEWER WORK: Engineer Gary McClure told the officials that the second phase of a sewer improvement project, repairing oxidation pond aerators and lift stations, should be ready for bidding this spring, after the first phase pinpointed the system’s many problem areas.

The work is being financed by a $2 million hurricane recovery grant, and McClure said the town should apply for a Community Development Block Grant this fall to seek additional money to fix the sewer system.