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Apr 6, 2012 11:08 AM by AP

'Status quo' at Webster fire dist. after arrests

COTTON VALLEY, La. (AP) - Leaders of a Webster Parish fire protection district have decided against any immediate changes after last month's arrests of the fire chief and assistant chief.

The Times of Shreveport reported that The Webster Fire District Number 8 board of commissioners decided Thursday to maintain the status quo, based on advice from the Webster district attorney's office.

Chief Dennis Meshell and Assistant Chief Adam Hurley are retaining their positions. They were arrested in late March by the Webster Parish Sheriff's Office. Each is charged with malfeasance, felony theft and injuring public records. Investigators say the two maintained checking accounts unknown to the board and separate from the district general fund.

In separate interviews last month, both men denied any wrongdoing.

At Thursday's meeting, Assistant District Attorney Patrick Jackson passed out copies of ethics laws. Commissioners are mandated this year to join other public officials in taking a one-hour ethics training.

"It's pretty simple stuff," Jackson said, offering as a rule of thumb: "If you're ashamed of your mother knowing about it, then don't do it."

Jackson informed the board of the Webster Police Jury's plans for an ordinance that will guide all parish boards in the future, particularly when it comes to paying more attention to audit procedures and findings. He suggested they set a protocol on how to approve routine bills.

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