By T. Scott Boatright
Introducing an amendment to a possession of marijuana ordinance and adopting the 2023-24 budget for the Lincoln Parish Sales Tax & Use Commission were two of the primary orders of business for Grambling’s City Council during Thursday night’s monthly meeting at City Hall.
The introduction to amend the ordinance for simple possession of marijuana came in a move to coordinate Grambling’s law to match state regulations.
“Louisiana’s state legislature in 2021 amended title 40:66 to implement a fine of $100 if a person was found in possession of less than 14 grams of marijuana, and unfortunately, the ordinance in place currently fines them for $1,000,” City Attorney Ronald Lattier told the City Council. “So we need to make sure we’re consistent with state law and that’s exactly what this ordinance does.
“It doesn’t matter how many times they’re caught with less than 14 grams of marijuana, they’re still going to be subject to a fine and/or community service. Also, under the current ordinance the person would be arrested. Arrest is no longer a viable option. If it’s less than 14 (grams), they’re issued a summons and simply come to court and pay the fine. The amendment will put us in accordance with Louisiana law.”
Grambling’s City Council unanimously passed introducing the ordinance. A public hearing on the matter will be held at 5:45 p.m. on July 6 before aldermen vote on the amendment during that night’s 6 p.m. meeting.
The Council also unanimously approved a resolution for the city to be able to sell movable surplus property.
“There are vehicles we have on our inventory that are no longer usable, so we want to go on ahead and move those to the auction block and see if we get any bids to accept that will be awarded to the highest bidder,” Mayor Alvin Bradley said.
Grambling Councilman John Brown also told the Council about an alert system project he and Bradley have looked into for the city.
“We’re in the beginning stages. There’s still a lot of boxes to be checked off, but so far things are looking very favorable,” Brown said. “It’s named CivicReady. It’s a system that can ensure our capacity to communicate with the citizens of Grambling and will be used to notify residents of critical emergencies and routine notifications at a high rate of speed.”
Brown then explained some of the things CivicReady will be able to do and provide.
“There’s multiple ways for all citizens to sign up – on a website, texting to join, and calls from and to landlines,” Brown said. “Citizens can opt in to join the notification groups they are interested in and we can create as many notification groups as we need such as emergency alerts, Council meeting announcements, weather warnings and updates on things like road closures, traffic conditions, and water problems.
“If there’s an escaped prisoner in our area, we can notify people about that. Gas leaks, public hearings, and, if we unfortunately ever have an active shooter, we can notify of that also.”
Brown said the alerts would go out on texts, emails, Facebook, Twitter and apps.
“The residents will be able to select any method they choose. If they speak another language, there will also be translation available,” Brown said. “It will be able to target certain areas of the city only if that’s best.
“It will have unlimited usage and has a polling feature through a mobile app for citizens. And we’ll also get a report to find out who did get and who didn’t get the message and will get 24/7 tech support for this.”
Brown said he’s made phone calls to other municipalities that use CivicReady.
“I’ve talked to cities with 40,000, 10,000, 5,000, and they were all very complimentary of CivicReady,” Brown said. “I just think this will be something great for us. I think about some of the senior citizens or people who live by themselves. They’ll be able to have anyone who lives anywhere, even out of state, to get the message so they can check on the city resident if that resident didn’t get the message.
“This will be just another way to try and ensure that we’re all getting the communication we need for emergencies. So we’re excited about it. There’s still some work to do to get it done, but so far all the checks look good on all the boxes. So more to come at our next meeting.”