By T. Scott Boatright
It was all discussion with no actions as the Lincoln Parish Library Board of Control met Thursday in the Community Room of the LPL.
Committees reports played a big role in those discussions, and LPL Events Center committee chair Bill Jones began the meeting talking about a potential team-up with the Ruston Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau to take the Events Center in a different and more lucrative direction.
During January’s Board of Control meeting, Jones told memes that preliminary talks have been held with CVB Director Amanda Quimby about the two entities teaming to manage the Events Center with a goal of increasing usage to bring in more revenue from rentals.
But before making a decision, both entities have agreed to wait until after the March 25 alcohol referendum election.
There are five alcohol referendums on the March 25 ballot, three that are currently allowed in propositions 1, 2 and 5.
It’s Proposition No. 3, not currently allowed in Ruston city limits, that is the crux behind the plan of that potential team-up between the LPL Board of Control and the CVB to manage the LPL Events Center.
If Proposition 3 passes, it would allow the sale of beverage alcohol containing one-half of 1% alcohol by volume and above for consumption on the premises in the city, meaning that with other building usage guidelines being amended, such alcohol sales could be allowed during private parties being held at the Events Center.
The hopes of the CVB, and the LPL Board of Control, is that such an ordinance change could result in a significant increase in rentals at the Event Center.
“We’ve continued talking with the CVB, and hopefully the election will go in such a way that we’ll be able to move forward with a plan to share management of the Events Center in hopes the CVB can help bring in more usage of the building,” Jones said.
During January’s meeting, Jones said the main thing agreed on before any decision is made is that such an agreement should be made for only one year in order to see how the partnership would work out for both entities.
Jones also talked to fellow board members about House Bill 25 and Senate Bill 7, which have been prefiled before the start of the upcoming state legislative session that begins on April 10.
During a special meeting held earlier this month, the Board of Control voted to oppose and request amendments to those two bills.
Jones’ concerns are that as it stands now, HB 25 reads that Board members would serve at the pleasure of the governing authority, which, in the library’s case, is the Lincoln Parish Police Jury, meaning the LPPJ could remove any or all Board members at any time, for any reason or no reason and that Board members could continue serving unlimited terms.
Another of Jones’ concerns is that if passed as they currently read, police juries would have the ability to regulate and oversee the Board, its officers, employees and the library itself and that the LPL Board of Control could not go against any ordinance the police jury should choose to enact, even those involving the library and Events Center.
“In their current form, these bills would seriously damage our library as well as every other public library in the state,” Jones said.
Jones said he’s moving proactively to try and keep that from happening, saying that he has meetings scheduled with state Rep. Chris Turner, state Sen. Jay Morris and state Sen. Stewart Cathey to express his views and concerns regarding the potential legislation.
“This is all unfortunate because the library and Lincoln Parish Police Jury have had a great relationship for more than 50 years,” Jones said. “I’ll have a better feel about what it all could mean and what direction it might be headed once I talk to our legislators.”
During his reports to the Board, LPL Director Jeremy Bolom told members that the library has already received $850 from 16 memorial donations made at the request of the family of John Chris Stephenson following his death.
Bolom also told the Board that foot traffic at the LPL continues to increase after seeing a major dropoff during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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