RECREATION DISTRICT DEER STAND RAISES QUESTIONS

Terrebonne Parish are official looking into the use of a deer stand on parish property by an employee who is also the chairman of a Terrebonne Parish recreation district

The Times has confirmed that Gary Beeson, chairman of Terrebonne Parish Recreation District 2-3, told parish officials he was not hunting from the stand, located on land the district leases from the parish, but merely taking photographs. Parish officials confirm that the stand site is on land the parish purchased for tee as part of the Bayou Country Sports Complex. The project is still under construction and been subject to criticism as funding from the state has dried up

Beeson refused to answer questions from The Times, clicking off his cell phone when contacted by a reporter Wednesday. There are no initial indications that anything alleged constitutes criminal activity, although it may raise ethical questions.

Parish risk management

director Dana Ortego did the initial investigation after Parish President Gordon Dove received a complaint.

"They have to realize that is not their personal playground, that is the public's playground," Dove said. "if you made it a viewing area to the public and advertise it as a public facility regulated by the rec district that's different."

Dove said he has referred the matter to Parish Attorney Julius Hebert and is awaiting an opinion from him.

"We are looking into what exactly ramifications come from his actions on that," Dove said of Beeson. "It is parish land. They (the recreation board) do lease it. Can they give themselves permission if they are leasing parish property?"

Investigation by The Times could not determine the actual ownership of the stand, and whether it was there before the parish acquired the property or built afterward. Dove said Beeson told him the stand has been taken down.

Legal experts consulted by The Times said a law enforcement investigation of such activity could be triggered if the parish government desired one. Sheriff Jerry Larpenter said Thursday morning that he is not aware of any such complaints. He is also not aware of any complaints regarding shots being fired from that area.

Beeson and his board came under fire last year for chronic violation of open meetings laws. The district is among those that came under micro-inspection from parish government due to allegations that they had not done enough to move forward with the sports park, which is still under construction.

Among residents paying taxes directly to District 2-3 is retired educator Clyde Hamner, who ran for the Terrebonne Parish Council in 2015 and prior to that the parish school board.

He has been watching the District 2-3 developments with some interest.

"I don't know why he would have put a deer stand there," Hamner said of the sports complex property, noting that it is not an area known for deer.

"It depends on what it's there for," he said. "There are legitimate reasons why it could have been there some illegitimate reasons. Knowing that Gary is an honest man I would give him the benefit of the doubt."

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