Nine apply for parks post; field cut to three

The Pine Bluff Parks and Recreation Commission Personnel Committee on Monday named three finalists for the parks and recreation department’s director position.

The panel scanned nine applications during an executive session and then named Pine Bluff residents April Layher, Ronald S. Laurent and Lee E. Meadows as finalists for the job that became open with the commission’s Sept. 23 firing of former director Angela Parker.

Parker, who maintains that she was fired in violation of state whistle-blower protections and because of her race, has since offered not to sue the city if she is paid $60,000 and her municipal retirement benefits are maintained.

Layher is an enforcement analyst with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. Laurent is director of the Pine Bluff School District’s First Ward Learning Center. Meadows is director of the local Head Start program.

Among the remaining applicants was Trudy Redus, who oversees the parks and recreation department’s Lake Saracen facility. Redus is the wife of former mayor Carl A. Redus Jr.

The others hopefuls included Donnita P. Jeffrey, James E. Jones, Corey R. O’Neil and Sebastian Stargell. The name of the final applicant was not immediately available.

Commission Chairwoman Kami Hunt said at the time of Parker’s firing that she had been dismissed because of her “failure to properly supervise employees and parks,” which Hunt added had been noted in a recent performance review. The vote to fire Parker was 6-2.

Commissioners Duke Fakouri and Roy Tolson opposed the action, which was favored by Hunt and fellow panelists Chris Blunt, Carson Fields, Jonathan Frazier, Krandon Henry and Jeff Pulliam. Commissioner Fabian Fontenot did not attend the meeting.

Hunt said Monday that panel interviews of the finalists will begin Tuesday.