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Newly appointed St. George officials say they're not worried about further court review

1 month 14 hours 17 minutes ago Tuesday, May 21 2024 May 21, 2024 May 21, 2024 5:25 PM May 21, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - The interim leaders of St. George said Tuesday they are moving ahead with incorporation despite a request to the state Supreme Court that it reconsider the city's creation.

"I'm staying focused on the job ahead of us and the job ahead of us is to create a city," said Dustin Yates, the appointed mayor.

The mayor and police chief met with reporters for a question-and-answer session at the headquarters of the St. George Fire Department. Gov. Jeff Landry last week appointed Dustin Yates as mayor and sheriff's Major Todd Morris as police chief.

The Supreme Court approved St. George's creation in April, rejecting two lower courts that had said city organizers didn't adequately demonstrate how it would operate successfully as an independent city. Lamont Cole, an East Baton Rouge Parish metro council member who sued to stop the city's creation, has asked the justices to reconsider their 4-3 vote.

"I'm aware that this is an emotional issue with strong feelings on both sides. My hope is that we can work together to find common ground to create a better East Baton Rouge parish," Yates said.

In October 2019, 54 percent of voters in unincorporated areas of southeastern East Baton Rouge Parish voted to set up the city. 

Morris said he anticipates having the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office provide police services and that there were no definite plans to expand the department.

"Right now, I'm just going to continue working with Sheriff Gautreaux and our local federal partners to look at any crime issues that may be occurring in St. George. But, if they're occurring in St. George, they're occurring in the whole parish so we are going to address the whole parish not just the citizens of St. George," Morris said.

Yates said he wouldn't discuss city policy prior to the formation of a city council, and that city officials would focus on establishing a strong communication system before attempting to develop a school system. St. George's creation grew out of the effort to create a new school district in the area.

"Our goal in St. George has always been to create a city were a family wants to stay, where they want to raise a family, and more so, where our children choose to stay and raise families," Yates said.

The St. George Fire Department headquarters will serve as the city hall until further notice.

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