Folks who live in Bossier Parish Police Jury District 5 will want to spend some time talking with Juror Jack Skaggs about his first four years on the Jury, and reasons he’s committed to continue serving the district over the next Jury term. Skaggs is challenged by former Police Juror Barry Butler for the seat.
Skaggs provides an informative visit as he explains that there are “… no books written, no one that can hold you hand to tell you how to hold public office,” so he spent the first couple of years learning. And he described that learning curve as “like drinking out of a firehose” because there so much to learn.
“And so, for me, I appreciate that the public invested those years to give me the opportunity to learn. And that was really my whole reason for getting into politics … I saw a huge age gap in our current leadership and our younger crowd … My whole goal in this was the community aspect. I’ve grown up in Bossier. I look back at high school and none of the valedictorians from my class or the year after me still live or work in Bossier Parish – and that’s not necessarily a good stat. I want to make sure that we give our kids a great place to work and live and a good community environment to socialize in,” Skaggs said.
Skaggs explained service on the Jury saying, “You go into it, you think as a juror, as an individual, you have a lot of power. At the end of the day, you don’t. The Jury of 12 is really the major machine. As an individual juror, your job is to control the controllables and that would be answering the call when folks call you, and answering e-mails, and then bringing those issues up to your Jury of 12.”
“I was a big baseball fan growing up and got to play for Smoke Laval, who coached under Skip Burtman. And Skip always used the quote, ‘I play my best nine, not my nine best.’ And that alluded to ‘I play the best guys that play together as a team, not necessarily my nine superstars.’ And that’s the cool thing about the current Jury — the only Jury I’ve every been on – is I feel like that ‘nine best’,” he said.
And Skaggs noted that each juror comes from a different walk of life and that such experience is instrumental to decisions made by the group.
“So as a group, it’s a very, very dynamic group, and as a team, I want to stay on that team because I think we’ve been very progressive and we work very, very well together,” he said.
Skaggs detailed Jury accomplishments over the last four years, starting with the southern extension of the Arthur Ray Teague Parkway, where it presently ends near Parkway High School.
“…Trying to be progressive, we’ve approached going ahead and buying the right-of-way down to Taylortown …as we know, real estate keeps going up and if we can find the funding to buy a couple of acres that way, we’ll continue to do that,” he said.
Another major undertaking has been the 100-acre south Bossier park off of Sligo Road; Skaggs noted that projects such as this respond not just to what current residents would like to see, but importantly recognize that new companies looking to locate in Bossier Parish want recreational activities for their employees.
“We’ve created a parks and rec division; it sounds bigger than it is. It’s a one-man show right now, but we hope to grow that and continue to make that park a very successful place,” he said.
“Another one is the off-system bridge program. Butch Ford, Patrick Jackson and Bill Altimus have done a fantastic job of helping get those state funds to help our bridge system stay in place. We’re very fortunate in Bossier Parish that we can build our own small span bridges,” Skaggs said.
More – Skaggs ticked off the Lawson Bo Brandon Park out in Haughton, and the $2 million Dogwood Bridge project, which was raised a foot and a half – which made a real difference when flooding occurred earlier just a few months ago.
The list goes on, but he also pointed out that the Jury’s work during the flooding included managing day-to-day operations, as well as putting “… a huge amount of resources on protecting those folks’ largest investments.”
“The last one’s the biggest one we’re working on right now – the north-south corridor (Swan Lake Road)… we’ve broken that up into a three-phase project. The land acquisition on phase one is near complete. So by the end of the year, we should be moving utilities and hopefully next year you’ll start seeing dirt moving and things like that,” Skaggs said.
For the next term, Skaggs believes that in addition to the regular work of the Jury on roads, bridges, and infrastructure, there will me an emphasis on cooperative endeavors with other governmental bodies. He pointed to two current examples: the Kingston Road improvements resulting from a school board, apartment complex developer and Jury collaboration – and the state, city, Jury, BPCC and Cyber Innovation Center collaboration that will see construction of a new building for BPCC.
Space doesn’t permit more detail of my visit with Skaggs, but District 5 voters will want to take some time to talk to Skaggs — he’s got lots more to share.
Marty Carlson is a columnist for the BPT. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org