Should members of the LSU Board of Supervisors disclose who receives their scholarships?|
|Sheriff's Office sells Ridgedale Academy|
The Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Office late last week sold the former Ridgedale Academy through public bid to Burns Mechanical for a profit of almost $400,000.
The Sheriff's Office last year bought the former private school and the 15 acres it sits on for $188,000.
Burns Mechanical bought the facility and the 15 acres of land for $586,000.
The Sheriff's Office had plans to house the Sheriff's patrol division as well as other personnel at the complex.
Sheriff Royce Toney also wanted to use the facility to house up to 200 work-release inmates, which was a source of contention among many residents who live near the former private school.
Ridgedale area residents protested Toney's plans, saying it negatively impact their property values. They also were worried about having inmates housed in their neighborhood. Some feared the facility would evolve into a full-scale prison in the future.
In March, Toney abandoned his plans for the former Ridgedale Academy, saying it was no longer feasible to convert the structure into a transitional workforce facility.
On Monday, Toney said the sale of the Ridgedale property was beneficial because the Sheriff's Office turned a profit on the building, and Burns Mechanical now has room to expand.
Burns Mechanical currently is located across from Ridgedale Academy, which is located off Whites Ferry Road in West Monroe.
"He (Don Burns) wants to expand, and his office is right across the street, and he needs the storage," Toney said. "Now, he can expand and hopefully keep more jobs here in Ouachita Parish."
"We knew it was a good deal when we bought this facility for $188,000," Toney explained. "We knew it was worth at least $600,000."
"We just made the taxpayers a lot of money," Toney added.
The Sheriff's Office plans to use the $586,000 to buy another building to house some of the Sheriff's Office's personnel.
"We're still looking for a building to put some of our deputies in, but we haven't found one," Toney said. "We've got to find one that suits our needs so we can alleviate overcrowding at the (Ouachita Parish Courthouse) Annex."
"We're trying to find one that's already built because it seems like some citizens object to the Sheriff's Office using inmate labor," he said.
Toney also hopes to find a facility that would allow the Sheriff's Office to establish a modern training academy for deputies and other law enforcement officers.