Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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3 years 4 days 6 hours ago May 22, 2014 May 22, 2014 Thursday, May 22 2014 May 22, 2014 2:41 PM in News

A new board took over at the Black Forest Fire and Rescue District Wednesday night, with the swearing in of three new board members who unseated the three incumbents up for recent election. One of the new members first priorities is getting answer for those in the community still upset over how the devastating wildfire was handled last year.

Rick Nearhoof, Jayme McConnellogue and P.J. Langmaid defeated Preston Cooper, Walt Seelye and chairman Eddie Bracken a few weeks ago. Langmaid and McConnellogue made it clear to the public that they too have questions they want answered, and plan to seek out the truth when it comes to the Black Forest Fire and what is being done differently.

"So we'd like to get more answers on that based on that investigative report that didn't have a lot of detail in it," said Langmaid. "So I'd like to look deeper into that report and folks want to know how were prepared for the next fire and that's a matter of chatting with the chief and figuring out the resources. And sounds like he's working on some plans for that."

It was a packed house at Wednesday's meeting, which didn't have much on the actual agenda. But people wanted to be there and make sure the new board knew of their concerns, some still lingering from past issues and with the old board.

After a lot of contention with the previous fire board, people at the meeting focused a lot on getting answers regarding the response to the Black Forest fire and wanting to know how the fire department and the community can better prepare for the next disaster.

"This is the opportunity with the new board to get a new vision ok what transpired and get answers from the chief that we're perhaps not forthcoming in previous months," said Black Forest resident Nate Dowden.

Some people at the meeting even asked outright if the board planned to oust Fire Chief Bob Harvey, given that some of the newly elected members had signed a position earlier in the year calling for his resignation. Langmaid addressed the comments, saying they had no plans to make any quick decisions like that, and will weigh all sides of the issues before doing anything. He said they had a lot of their own research to do.

While there were a lot of old issues brought up at Wednesday night's meeting, there was also a lot of focus on moving on and looking forward to what resident could do to be better prepared in the event of another fire.


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