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Board nomination prompts argument at Liberty council

Discussion at Tuesday night’s Liberty City Council meeting became more argumentative than usual. It was over an agenda item calling for the appointment of someone to fill the unexpired term on the Sam Rayburn Municipal Power Agency Board of Directors. As reported, the city of Liberty along with the cities of Jasper and Livingston comprise the agency that supplies electricity to the three cities. In recent years, the agency has entered a electrical power wholesaling agreement called the Cambridge Project which has brought millions of dollars in revenue to the three SRMPA member cities since its creation but has lately come to the attention of state regulatory agencies in Louisiana where the electricity is sold. With former Liberty City Manager Gary Broz’s departure his seat on the SRMPA Board is vacant. At Tuesday’s meeting Liberty Council Member Libby Simonson said she did want to wait until the city has a new city manager to fill that vacancy and nominated former Liberty Mayor and SRMPA Board member Bruce Halstead to fill the year remaining on Gary Broz term on the power agency board. That nomination led to an argument between Mrs. Simonson and Liberty Mayor Carl Pickett. Mayor Pickett said he felt having the city manager on the SRMPA Board had been successful and should be continued when the City of Liberty hired a new permanent city manager. Liberty Mayor Pro Tem Diane Huddleston agreed with the mayor that having their city manager on the power agency board made sense. Liberty City Council member Paul Glazener said he liked Bruce Halstead and while he did not have all the background information seconded Libby Simonson’s motion to appoint Bruce Halstead to the SRMPA Board. The motion was defeated 5 to 2 with Libby Simonson and Paul Glazener voting for Halstead’s appointment and Mayor Pickett, Council members Dennis Beasley, Diane Huddleston, David Arnold and Chipper Smith voting against it.   

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