The St. Landry Parish Council has begun advertising for nominations on the seven-member parish wide Tourist Commission which has apparently been selected in the past in violation of state law.
Council members voted at a Jan. 19 meeting to begin advertising for the three-year appointments which are at this point scheduled to be made at a Feb. 19 meeting, according to a Council decision made at a meeting last week.
Tourist Commission executive director Herman Fuselier told a Public Works Committee Jan. 5 that state law requires Tourist Commission and other commission appointments to be made from a list of nominees from either private or non-profit groups that have an interest in some aspect of tourism.
Coby Clavier, a council member representing the Eunice area, told the Committee that in past years, the Council has violated state law regarding Commission appointments.
“We did not follow the proper guidelines for appointing the right people. We picked who we wanted to pick instead of picking qualified people. We are just trying to get back to the statue and how it is written to pick the right people. That is why this is brought up,” Clavier added.
Fuselier said former Tourist Commission director Celeste Gomez has provided the Council with state statute guidelines for choosing Commission appointees according to state law.
Some examples of groups that could sponsor prospective Commission appointments are mayors, cultural association, museum or attraction boards, chambers of commerce, historic district committees, Main Street boards, merchant associations, restaurant owners, lodging partners and event organizers, according to a letter that Gomez addressed to Dexter Brown, the 2021 Parish Council chairman.
Council attorney Garrett Duplechain said it would be advisable to have Council clerk Sherrell Jordan notify profit and non-profit groups that it is acceptable to provide nominees for the Tourist Commission.
“We need to do that, otherwise we may not get (nominations),” Duplechain said.
Fuselier said the Council has seemingly trended away from a tradition of appointing two members from Opelousas and Eunice, the two largest cities in St. Landry.
Council member Harold Taylor said maybe it would be a good idea to revisit the former unwritten policy of balancing the Commission with representatives from both Eunice and Opelousas.
Eunice at this point does not have a Tourist Commission representative.
“We really need to balance this with folks from Eunice and Opelousas and the rest of the parish. We kind of got carried away and got it lopsided right now,” Taylor said.