Owners of scrap yard speak out
Top Dollar works with law enforcement to
MICHELLE BATES, Editor
the recent arrests of eight people involved in an oilfield theft ring, a local
scrapyard is taking heat over the fact most of the stolen goods were brought to
their place of business.
Dollar Scrap and Recovery took in several thousand pounds of oilfield equipment
over the last several months that were sold to them for scrap by Andrew Stiles.
Stiles was arrested in early January after he was allegedly caught attempting
to steal a car to sell for scrap. Seven others were also arrested in the case,
including one juvenile.
Chad Watts, co-owner of Top
Dollar, sat down with The Guardian-Journal and explained their side of the case
as well as their procedures for accepting and buying scrap materials -- and
it’s a lot of paperwork.
seller comes in with scrap metal, they are assigned a number by the scrap yard
and a ticket with their assigned number, name, address, driver’s license number
and license plate number. Once it is determined what type of material it is,
then the next step is to fill out the corresponding form. On that form, the
seller’s information is filled out along with the “material composition,” such
as copper, copper wire, alloy or other types of metal. If the material is
railroad material, then the type of material is checked off.
is a vehicle, they must fill out an affidavit which is signed by the seller.
However, in order for Top Dollar to even take a vehicle, the seller must have a
title, a driver’s license and the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the
vehicle has to match the one on the title. The seller’s name on the title must
also match the driver’s license of the seller.
scrap company also has cameras strategically placed throughout the property so
that if need be, law enforcement can come in and see the videos if they have a
report of stolen property being sold at the scrap yard.
not doing anything that is illegal and we’re doing exactly what the authorities
are asking us to do,” Watts said.
fact, they are looking into setting up a system in which they upload reports of
everything they take in, much like a law enforcement tool that is free to the scrap
yard companies called Leads Online. On this website, paid for by law
enforcement, scrap yards, pawn shops and other second hand dealers can upload
their daily reports and law enforcement can look at this website to see if any
of the reports match any cases of theft they are working on.
even with this type of deterrent and their procedures at the scrap yard, Watts
said Stiles was a smooth talker. He even told Watts he was unemployed and was
asking him for a job as a truck driver.
guess you could say we were duped,” he said. “Now that I look back, I was being
was no reason to believe he wasn’t being straight with him, Watts said, and the
stuff he was bringing in was buried under other scrap metals. When a seller
brings in a trailer load of metals, many times, it is hard to tell what they
are bringing in -- whether it be from a farm, oilfield company, energy company
or someone’s backyard -- because it’s all brought in one big heap.
this happened, I’ve learned that I have to become a farmer, an oilfield person,
a mechanic, you name it,” Watts said.
the arrests of these individuals, he said he’s become more aware of different
components of equipment and law enforcement has also helped him in making him
looks suspicious, we set it aside,” Watts said.
he feels he’s learned his lesson with this, but it doesn’t mean that stolen
goods will stop coming through his gate or that of another scrap yard.
closed our doors tomorrow, it’s not going to stop,” he said. “This goes on in every scrap yard. If a criminal
steals something, they aren’t going to take it to a local yard. They are going
to take it somewhere where nobody knows them.”
said another way they try to deter crime is to make copies of all the paperwork
they’ve moved through the scrap yard and turn it over to the Claiborne Parish
Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Ken Bailey confirmed this, saying several cases
throughout the years have been solved just by having this paperwork.
haven’t solved everything, but we’ve solved several cases because of that,” the
sheriff said. “We work with them and they work with us. We get the tickets and
we go through them, which has helped us make some arrests over the years.”
fact, Louisiana law says the scrap yard has to keep those records daily and
make them readily available to law enforcement (RS: 37:1864(B)).
Dollar is also required to pay its customers with a check or money order and
not cash, according to Act 389. However, Watts and Bailey both say local law
enforcement agencies decide whether the scrap yard needs to write checks. Top
Dollar does give its customers checks instead of cash after a set amount. Up
until that certain amount is reached, Top Dollar pays its customers in cash.
the scrap yard does not allow its customers to cash the check there, Watts
said. If a customer brings in scrap metal worth more than their set amount,
then a check is issued to the seller who then must take the check to a bank or
other financial institution to cash it.
long as he’s doing everything correctly,” Bailey said of Top Dollar, “that’s
fine with me.”
was signed into law in 2011 which, according to legislators, was meant to bring
consistency to laws governing secondhand dealers. However, because of
unforeseen issues, legislators will go back this legislative session and look
at the law again to refine and make changes to better fit other types of
secondhand dealers, such as the Bonnie and Clyde Trade Days and even scrap
issue that came up after the law went into effect is the fact that cash is good
for any kind of purchase, and some feel as if the law says that cash is no
good. But, in fact, paper currency says, “This note is legal tender for all
debts, public and private.”
idea behind adding the clause that secondhand dealers must pay sellers by check
or money order is to deter criminal theft and the sale of stolen goods.
though this law still has a few kinks to be worked out, scrap yards like Top
Dollar and pawn shops as well continue to work closely with law enforcement to
help deter theft and sale of stolen goods as well as catch criminals who do get
away with selling stolen goods.
Dollar Scrap and Recovery also has a yard in Oil City in Caddo Parish. The Caddo
Parish Sheriff’s Office has stricter regulations on it than the company here in
Homer in that the company in Oil City must report daily to the sheriff’s office
as provided by the Caddo Parish Code of Ordinances, Section 12:139.
even with the trials and tribulations Top Dollar has seen over the past several
years, it’s still one of the most competitive scrap yards in the area. Their
materials are hauled all over the country, and has even been transported
internationally. According to Watts, it’s one of the highest paying scrap yards
to sellers in the area, but it’s also one of the most rigorous in its
procedures to make sure sellers aren’t bringing in stolen goods.
at Act 389 and its accompanying revised statutes, please go to the Louisiana
Legislature’s website at www.legis.state.la.us.
Ford Museum to host Scannography
David Fox is photographing an interesting
old monument at the Old Homer Cemetery. For more information, please call the
Ford Museum at 927-9190.
Ford Museum has hosted a series of workshops as part of a Louisiana
Decentralized Arts Funding grant sponsored by the Shreveport Regional Arts
Story: How We Got Here has focused on collecting the stories that tell what
brought their families to Claiborne Parish. Dr. Susan Roach, an experienced
folklorist of Louisiana history and culture, conducted two workshops which
taught the skills of conducting oral interviews to collect these family
Scott, owner of Jeff Scott Photography, taught participants basic techniques in
portrait and architectural photographing. Workshop participants were also
shown basic skills of monument rubbing by Linda Volentine, project director of
the Ford Museum.
final workshop will be Scannography, a new and upcoming art form. Chris
Broussard will be the instructor for this class.
Boyfriend arrested following hospital
man caused quite a stir after causing a disturbance at Homer Memorial Hospital.
J. Dudley, 24, of Homer, was arrested on several charges after causing a
disturbance at the hospital and reportedly beating up a patient.
charged with domestic abuse battery with bond set at $2,000, disturbing the
peace, failure to appear, amplified device in public places, tampering with
electronic monetary instrument and interfering with medical treatment. Bond on
each subsequent charge was set at $500, for a total of $4,500.
to reports, on Saturday, January 28, Sgt. Van McDaniel, of the Homer Police
Department, was dispatched to Homer Memorial Hospital in reference to a
disturbance. When he arrived, he was taken to a room in the hospital where the
victim, Ginger Champ, and her son were. He was advised by nursing staff that an
altercation had taken place where a black male ran through the emergency room
doors setting off the alarm. They also told McDaniel that the male was in the
room with Champ causing bodily injury.
entering the room, reports say McDaniel observed blood in the room on the floor
and the wall. He spoke with Champ, who reportedly advised him that the black
male, identified as Dudley, was hitting her and she screamed for help.
Allegedly, the two were against the hospital room door, where Dudley was trying
to keep nursing staff out of the room.
say during questioning Dudley told police the opposite, that she was trying to
hold him in the room and that she attacked him.
interviewing the victim and hospital staff, McDaniel went outside to search the
hospital grounds and a BOLO (be on the lookout) was issued for Dudley. During
the grounds search, Claiborne Parish Sheriff’s Deputy David Morgan radioed that
he’d found and detained Dudley.
took Dudley into custody and transported him to the Homer Police Department
where he was placed under arrest and booked. He was later transported to the
Claiborne Parish Detention Center for further booking.
Art mural project to begin soon
Judy Peterson Buckner, artist designing
the mural, and Mick Bustamonte, an arts professor at Louisiana Tech University,
are meeting to discuss plans for the mural. The mural will go on the Kinnebrew
building on the southwest corner of the Square on West Main Street.
depicting some of the agricultural history of Claiborne Parish will be started
soon on the north side of the Kinnebrew Building on the southwest corner of the
behalf of the artists, the Claiborne Jubilee is seeking donations of various
supplies which could be lent to the project for the month of March. Ed Watson
has already agreed to let the artists use his scaffolding for the project, but
items such as tarps to cover the sidewalk, rags, five gallon buckets, rope to
lower the buckets from the scaffolding, paint trays, paint rollers, roller
handles and extension handles are also needed. In addition, brushes with angled
tips in the following sizes would be appreciated: one and one half inches, two
inches, four inches and six inches. Even plastic containers such as Cool Whip
or margarine tubs are helpful for mixing small quantities of paint.
Parish artist Judy Buckner is creating the design which will be transferred to
the building by professor Nick Bustamonte and a group of his senior art
students from Louisiana Tech University. They are working with Jubilee
coordinator Cynthia Steele on the design and implementation of the mural.
owner Jim Ross of Shreveport is arranging to have the entire building washed
and painted prior to the start of the mural.
the features of the mural will be scenes from the Kinnebrew Cotton Gin which is
presently located in the Louisiana Cotton Museum in Lake Providence. If anyone
has photographs of the Kinnebrew Gin from the days it was in operation, the
Jubilee would like to borrow them to copy. To arrange for pick up of any of the
above items please contact Cynthia Steele, 927-2566 or .
mural is being made possible by a grant to the Claiborne Jubilee through the
Town of Homer from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural
Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism cooperating with the
Louisiana State Arts Council and administered through the Shreveport Regional
Arts Council. The Homer Industrial Foundation is funding the special paint
needed for the project.
Man arrested for attempted sexual
Gibsland man was arrested on a warrant for attempted sexual battery.
Quitez Cooper, 21, of Gibsland, was arrested on Thursday, February 2, on the
warrant and bond was set at $5,000.
to reports, on the date of the incident, August 2011, Homer Police Officer
Franklin Evans responded to a call on Adams Street in reference to a break in.
When the officer arrived at the scene, he was told by an 18-year-old who lived
at the residence that Cooper had entered the house through his bedroom window.
He told the officer he was awakened by noises in the house.
reportedly entered the bedroom of the homeowner and grabbed her daughter, who
was with her mother in the bedroom, by the ankle to drag her off the bed and
carried her out of the room. Police say the daughter told them Cooper attempted
to undress her but couldn’t.
February 2, the manager at Claiborne Place Apartments contacted police in
reference to Cooper who was at the apartment complex. Police say the manager
advised them that Cooper was not allowed onto the property. It was at that
time, Sgt. Van McDaniel served the active warrant for attempted sexual battery
to Cooper and took him into custody.
transported to the Claiborne Parish Detention Center for booking.
Progress made with recreation, grants in
MICHELLE BATES, Editor
is being made every day in recreation and when it comes to seeking grant
Monday’s Homer Town Council meeting, Gene Coleman, grants committee chair, gave
a report on the status of several grants they are working on for the town. He
gave a pretty detailed list of what’s going on and what the town has received
and may receive.
construction should begin within the next month on phase II of improvements for
the wastewater treatment plant, he said. The cost of the project totals
$165,000, with $100,000 coming from the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) and
$65,000 coming from town funding. Some of the work includes replacement of a
mechanical screen and rehabilitation of the disinfection system.
the town is requesting additional funding from DRA for phases III and IV for
more improvements to the wastewater treatment plant, approximately $320,000
worth. However, it was not funded in 2011, and the town will likely reapply at
some time this year.
funds can only be used if it proves to bring in new industry and it didn’t do
that,” Coleman said.
gave an update on the new water metering system. The engineering design is
nearly complete and financing is being finalized. The project budget is about
$900,000 for fixed electronic water meter reading and was financed with a
15-year municipal lease at about 4.5 to 5 percent interest from the Government
metering system, according to earlier reports, is expected to be more accurate
in its reading and billing processes. It will also free up more time for town
maintenance workers to work on other important projects as well.
the town recently received confirmation that the Louisiana Department of
Environmental Quality (LDEQ) was considering the town’s request for about $2.6
million in revolving loan funds for wastewater collection system improvements.
The town is being considered for $1 million in Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) green project reserve funds with an additional $1.6 million in low
interest loan funds from LDEQ.
those lines, the smoke test that was cancelled last month will begin on Monday,
February 13. Smoke testing and video inspections should start on that date,
investigations will help define the extent of rehabilitation work and will
ensure that the town spends funds where they are most needed and will have the
most beneficial impact,” Coleman said in a handout to the council members.
town is also currently soliciting bids for a Community Water Enrichment Fund
(CWEF) grant for cleaning and rehabilitating ground storage tanks at the town’s
Mayfield Park water treatment plant and replacing existing water mains on Lyons
Hill Road. The grant amount is $35,000, and construction should begin within 30
to 45 days.
more importantly, the town is seeking a grant from the USDA for the purchase of
new police cars, however, the process has been slowed somewhat because of
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements compliance issues inside
town hall and at the Homer Police Station. However, an assessment and
preparation for a formal transition plan (scope of the work and cost estimate
of required improvements) will follow in the next 30 to 60 days, Coleman said.
recreation, Director Fred Young gave a positive report, beginning with the
Mayfield Pool project. After so much trouble from the company that was supposed
to repair Mayfield Pool, repairs are now to the point where town maintenance
employees can finish the job.
town can fix the pool with a certified plumber,” Young said.
remaining repairs include the installation of a drain cover, painting the
inside of the pool (of which the paint has been ordered and is expected in at
any day), and remove and repaint the depth markings. Currently, the pool has
ceramic tiles around the edge to mark depth, but those will be removed and the
depth markings will be painted. Also, lifeguard stands will be replaced. Young
expects the pool to be finished by mid- to late-April.
he gave a report on the projects that have been completed or are near
completion for the 2011 stated goals.
major projects have been repairs and upgrades to the three major parks in Homer,
including the Jaycees Park, Armory Park and Mayfield.
Jaycees Park, playground equipment has been replaced and the plan is to install
two more “hoppy horses,” Young said. What still needs to be done is fencing to
contain basketball at the two goals and some ground cover is still needed.
Mayfield, the picnic areas were upgraded with grills and tables repaired and
painted, lighting installed at the big field and the restrooms have been
updated. However, the recreation committee is in the process of reviewing
bleachers and seating at the park.
Armory Park, upgrades have been completed on two small fields which consisted
of the annual “readiness” for Dixie Baseball. The main field was cut and ready
for high school baseball, and dirt for field repair has been requested.
Colvin, very active in Dixie League baseball and softball, stood like a proud
father when he announced that the Homer teams won the Dixie League tournament
on their own turf last season. He thanked the committee and the town for all
its hard work and the help with expenses on preparing the fields for the
much of the recreation fund was spent, it was put to good use in repairing and
upgrading the town’s parks for recreation. And while a lot of money was spent,
Young said he doesn’t see spending that much in 2012 and wants to focus on
getting recreational programs for the kids (young and old alike) get underway.
everything needed to get recreational activities ready to get started,” Young
Taylor, a pee-wee football league coach in Minden, came to the town council
meeting in an effort to get the football league started in Homer. This last
season, any kids who wanted to play city league football were bussed to Minden
by Taylor, and he said he wanted to see the kids play here. He wants to get
pee-wee football up and running by the time school starts in August of this
year. The league will be for children ages 8-12 (third through sixth grade). He
also said he wants to get the kids in the circuit with Minden and Haynesville.
two golf clinics will be held in March. Colvin said the golf board met and they
want to hold the clinics before the start of baseball season. Signups will be
around mid-March, but he said to watch the newspapers for the actual dates and
how to sign up.
baseball signups will begin pretty soon as well for ages 4-14, or older, if
they want to play, he said.
other council news, Mayor Alecia Smith will begin looking into what it will
take to rename the Jaycees Park in memory of Joe Joe Michael, who recently
passed away. He was an icon in Homer, served as mayor for the better part of 20
years and absolutely loved his community. If all goes as planned, it will be
renamed the “Joe Joe Michael Memorial Park.”
Graham of Compliance EnviroSystems LLC in Baton Rouge, spoke to the council and
the public about his company and the services they provide in wastewater
problem solving. The company provides sewer system evaluations and cleanups
with state-of-the-art equipment.
are deteriorating at an alarming rate,” Graham said, and his company detects
where flow and infiltration come in.
right now, Smith said they are looking at ways to obtain funding to begin
replacing sewer lines.
in other news, the fuel policy for town employees (including the Homer Police
Department) was discussed. Each department head will now be responsible for
getting receipts from their workers and keep up with their fuel logs. They will
turn in both receipts and fuel logs once per month to go along with the fuel
report, Lisa Foster, town clerk, said.
police news, Homer Police Chief Russell Mills presented a new hire to the
council. Once the hiring committee met, they agreed with Mills’ recommendation
to hire Johnny Hough, 61. Hough comes to Homer with 25 years of experience in
law enforcement, is POST certified and is a certified instructor. He spent some
of his law enforcement career as military police and is also a Vietnam vet.
Officer J.D. Faulkner retired and one officer, Steve Risner, is currently in
Iraq. Mills said with two officers down, he needed to replace at least one
next meeting of the Homer Town Council will be at 6 p.m., Monday, March 5, in
council chambers, located inside City Hall. For more information or for
questions, please call their office at 927-3555.
Jubilee Players continue storytelling
Jubilee Players followed up their recent performance at the Chamber of Commerce
banquet with an evening of brainstorming on new ways to gather and share
stories. They agreed to meet every Monday night at 7 pm at the Presbyterian
Church in Homer and welcome newcomers to the group. The highpoint of the
meeting was a report from Darlene Norcross and Renee James who had just
returned from Colquitt, GA where they attended a conference to learn more about
the process used there.
the projects discussed were the mural planned for March on the Kinnebrew
Building, various equipment options for recording stories, the annual spring
art show on the courthouse lawn and a repeat of the “We’re Saving a Seat for
You!” fundraiser begun in 2011. Among the ideas for future murals discussed was
one of a large quilt with squares for sale to be purchased in memory of or in
honor of loved ones.
volunteers, the Players are looking for equipment to record oral histories,
audio, video or both. Anyone with something to lend or donate should contact
Cynthia Steele at 927-2566 or .