The St. Mary Parish Council unanimously approved his appointment Wednesday upon the recommendation of outgoing director Barry Dufrene who is retiring after having spent the past 32 years in the office. He has been the director for the past 10 years.
Dufrene said he was 20 years old when he was hired by former director Thaddeus Marcell.
“It’s been a heck of a ride,” Dufrene said. “In 32 years I’ve been a part of collecting over $780 million… that we’ve distributed back to the jurisdictions that we work for.”
He noted that it has been 14 years since the parish levied a new tax.
“I’d like to think that we played a part in that in making sure that we collected all the taxes that were legally due to you so that there was not a need to increase the tax rate,” he said.
In making a recommendation of his replacement, Dufrene said LaGrange began his career with the office in 1991 as collector of delinquent accounts. He currently serves as the assistant director.
“I’ve seen him grow into a professional … fair and reasonable, qualities you want to see as your director,” Dufrene said. “Jeff has become an integral part of who we are and … he’s ready for the task,” Dufrene said.
Members of the council offered their appreciation to Dufrene for a job well done and wished him well in his future endeavors.
Councilman Ken Singleton, District 5, made a motion to appoint LaGrange and received a second from the entire council.
“I will strive to continue to give the quality service that Barry sent forth and Mr. Marcell,” LaGrange said.
In other business the council:
—Awarded a low bid of $83,800 to Acadiane Renovations LTD of Franklin for roof replacement on the old section of the Senior Center at 4014 Chennault St. in Morgan City.
—Passed resolutions opposing state budget cuts at University Medical Center-Lafayette; supporting continued state funding of the Council on Aging; authorizing execution of a contract with Atmos Energy relative to gas service for Cajun Land USA development; approving a change order on the lighting system rehab project at Harry P. Williams Memorial Airport; and adopting and approving the annual Louisiana Compliance Questionnaire for the Sales & Use Tax Department.
—Heard from Councilman David Hanagriff, District 3, that he will call the first meeting of the permit review committee on March 14 at 5 p.m.
—Reappointed Leslie Howard to Drainage District 6 and Alvin Wilkerson to Recreation District 2.
Councilman Lionel “Butch” Metz, District 1, was absent.