News Briefs

Hurricane drill called off in Baker and Chris Williams' hire is unpopular


During the recent Hurricane Alicia exercise in Baker, a drill for evacuating New Orleans evacuees living in trailers was cancelled because state and federal officials couldn't decide which agency should issue the evacuation order. The Advocate reported that dozens of volunteers and emergency management officials were in place and waiting at the Renaissance Village trailer park for hurricane evacuees ' for more than 5 hours ' before local officials finally called it off.

Both Jo Anne Moreau, director of the East Baton Rouge Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, and Police Chief Sid Gautreaux cancelled the drill. Moreau reportedly stated, "This was not a failure to act. What we had was a failure at a higher level to make a decision."

Mark Smith, spokesman for the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness admitted that there was "a disconnect" and said his office was looking into why it happened. ' R. Reese Fuller


Lafayette City-Parish Councilman Chris Williams' approval rating from faculty members at the campuses he oversees appears to be in the tank. Williams was recently promoted to the newly created position of regional director ' part of an administrative streamlining of the state's community and technical college system ' but another candidate was the overwhelming favorite among members of the eight-campus faculty senate.

For the past five years, Williams has served as vice chancellor of the Louisiana Technical College's Acadiana region, a position that has been eliminated, but faculty members wanted the dean of the Lafayette campus, Phyllis Dupuis, to direct their institutions.

Jerrylene Fontenot, who teaches at the Charles B. Coreil campus in Ville Platte and is president of the faculty senate for Region IV (the Acadiana area), says of the 129 votes cast, there were 13 abstentions, 11 votes for Williams and a whopping 105 for Dupuis. "The vote just came out very lopsided," she says. The senate then sent the results to Dr. Walter Bumphus, president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, but was aware its vote may not influence the outcome. "I think they were hoping it would," notes Fontenot, "but we knew it was not part of the selection process. The faculty wanted an opportunity to voice an opinion."

Williams did not respond to a call for comment by press time.

Fontenot also served on the committee that interviewed the four candidates for the position and forwarded the top two applicants, Williams and Dupuis, to Bumphus.

Bumphus, who had the authority in naming the new regional director, recommended Williams to the system's board of supervisors, and the board approved his choice.

"There are a lot of people disappointed that it wasn't Phyllis," says Fontenot, who declined to speculate on Bumphus' decision. "I really hate to get into that."

Bumphus, who is recovering from surgery, could not be reached for comment. ' Leslie Turk**