St. John The Baptist Parish News Release

Robottom, Council and Administrative Team Strike New Beginning

Robottom, Council and Administrative Team Strike New Beginning

Nataile Robottom and the new St John Parish Council

Friday, January 15, 2016


ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH - For the first time in Parish history, Parish President Natalie Robottom was sworn in for a third consecutive time giving her the opportunity to serve ten years in the position.  Approximately, five returning and four new council members were also sworn into office and Robottom's administrative appointments were confirmed by the Council.

During the brief transition period since the election, the group began renewing and building new relationships, preparing for their varying roles and responsibilities and planning for continued growth and progress. “I am grateful for the support and encouragement displayed in 2015 and approach 2016 with excitement and renewed vigor.  I ask you to join in our efforts of bringing our community together to reach its greatest potential for future generations,” said Parish President Natalie Robottom. 

Following the inaugural mass and swearing in ceremony on Monday, January 11, the Council elected officers for 2016 and confirmed the appointments of Robottom's Administrative Team.  Beginning her second full term of office, Robottom was confident in re-appointing many of her existing staff.  “My staff has worked hard and come a long way with me over the last several years.  We have accomplished much together and learned even more.  Having them lead our Parish Departments over the next four years will allow for a smooth transition into a new year and much success in the future,” said Robottom.

Marvin Perilloux was elected by the Council to serve as Council Chairman and Michael Wright as co-chairman. Jaclyn Hotard will serve as Finance Chairman with Lennix Madere as co-chairman. “The Inauguration Day was fantastic, weather was great, we went to church together, prayed together, and broke bread together.  I felt a spirit of bonding and good communication will come to St John to move this parish forward,” said Perilloux.

2016 Council Members:

Larry Sorapuru - Councilman at Large Division A

Jaclyn Hotard - Councilwoman at Large Division B

Kurt Becnel - Councilman District 1

Julia Remondet - Councilwoman District 2

Lennix Madere - Councilman District 3

Marvin Perilloux- Councilman District 4

Michael P. Wright - Councilman District 5

Larry Snyder - Councilman District 6

Buddy Boe - Councilman District 7

Administrative Staff:

LaVerne Saulny – Chief Administrative Officer

Laverne Saulny joined the administrative staff in January of 2015.  She served as Special Assistant to the Parish President assigned to the Department of Economic Development and the Director of Purchasing and Procurement.  She is an accomplished communications innovator and former Regional Manager for Senator Mary Landrieu.  Saulny's qualifications include grantsmanship, public speaking, program development and implementation, and event planning and coordination.

Saulny has extensive knowledge about local, state and federal policies and programs that will benefit residents of St. John the Baptist Parish.  She has gained experience in developing, advertising, and reviewing bids, request for proposals, and request for qualifications while also working as a liaison between vendors and parish staff and agencies.  Her years of governmental experience serving the public has enhanced her ability to balance priorities, meet deadlines, and produce quality work.

Saulny is the founder of "Write for You," a consulting firm that provided management and development consulting to non-profit organizations and corporations. Her experience in grant writing and business development are assets to the business community and economic growth of the parish.  She studied Forensic Psychology at Louisiana State University Shreveport and was an Institute of Politics (IOP) Fellow of Loyola University.  Saulny is a resident of New Orleans.

Vince Lucia - Chief Financial Officer

For the past twenty-seven years, Vince Lucia has worked in the St. John the Baptist Parish Finance Department preparing, managing and balancing the Parish’s multi-million dollar budget.  On a daily basis he works with all departments ensuring funds are being spent appropriately, as well as overseeing the management of bond issues, loans, and grants.  For twelve consecutive years he received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting and the 2014 and 2015 Distinguished Budget Presentation Award.  Both awards are the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting representing a significant accomplishment by a government and its management. 

Lucia was appointed as the Chief Financial Officer in May of 2013 allowing him to continue using his historical knowledge managing the Finance Department and the Parish’s finances.  Lucia is a life-long resident of LaPlace.

Baileigh Rebowe Helm – Communications

Baileigh Rebowe Helm is currently serving as an Executive Assistant in the Communications Department developing press releases, serving as a liaison to the public and assisting all departments on media relations and communications for issues and initiatives. She also manages the Parish website, government access channel, and other avenues of communication to the public and participates in various community meetings and events with public officials and residents. Since working in the Communications. Department, she has further developed the social media content and increased its audience making it a more accessible form of communication for the public.  Ms. Helm functions as a communication representative for the Office of Emergency Preparedness during drills, emergencies, weather events and utility advisories.  She also works closely with all Parish departments including Capital Projects for public notifications and coordination of Parish events. In the after math of Hurricane Isaac, Helm served as the Communication Chairperson on the local Long-Term Recovery Board. 

Helm earned a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication from Louisiana State University with a concentration in Print Journalism and English and is a resident of LaPlace.

Torri Buckles – Economic Development

Torri Buckles has served as the Economic Development Director for the past four years.  She has successfully implemented a local Business Training Center, the FastTrac Training Program, a Site Selection Program, and implemented the Taste of St. John campaign.  She also developed the Shop Local, Shop St. John program and spearheaded business retention, expansion, and acquisition opportunities programs. 

Prior to working in St. John Parish, Buckles was a Business Development Officer with Louisiana Economic Development (LED) responsible for planning, coordinating, and implementing programmatic and educational efforts to enhance the entrepreneurial environment across the state of Louisiana. To support these efforts she managed the Small and Emerging Business Development Program, Louisiana Contractors Accreditation Institute, Mentor-Protégé Program, Small Business Bonding Assistance Program, and the Small Business E-Learning Initiative. Buckles has an MBA in Technology Management from UNO and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Dillard University. She is a member of numerous professional and civic organizations and is a resident of LaPlace.

Rhonda Lemons – Health and Human Services

Rhonda Lemons has served as the Health and Human Services Director since June of 2012.  She works closely with local and state agencies to develop programs for the underserved and provides resources to those in need. Lemons has successfully managed multiple grants and programs that provide food and assistance to our residents, in addition to working disaster response and expanding educational programs for children, teenagers, and adults.  Specific activities include coordinating health fairs, providing over 1200 meals through the Summer Feeding Program each year, assisting qualified participants with LiHEAP, as well as helping families with losses from fires and triaging residents for assistance.

Her experience working with the Salvation Army providing disaster relief to residents, working at youth camps, and providing adult services and grant work have been assets to the department.  Lemons has a Bachelor’s Degree from Southern University in Baton Rouge, along with extensive experience in business and accounting.  Lemons is a resident of LaPlace.

Nykya Freemont – Human Resources

Nykya “Nikki” Freemont has been employed in St. John the Baptist Parish since September of 2015.  After working in Houston and Atlanta, Freemont made her way back home and has worked in the Finance and Human Resources Departments.  During her brief tenure, Freemont has demonstrated the knowledge, temperament and organizational skills to serve the parish well in this leadership position.  Holding multiple training opportunities and workshops, Freemont has focused on employee advancement and workplace safety.  She has worked closely in identifying safety hazards and making the workplace safe for employees and those who visit the offices.  Interested applicants can now submit online applications for available Parish job opportunities which has streamlined the hiring process. 

Freemont holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Southern University, a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix, and a second Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of New Orleans.  She is a resident of LaPlace.

Kerry Watkins - Parks & Recreation

Kerry Watkins is a resident of LaPlace with a passion for sports and youth mentoring and a wealth of knowledge about sports programs.  Since taking on his role as Recreation Director, Watkins has managed 15 programs and hosted the Dizzy Dean Baseball State Tournament which brought approximately 180 visitors to the Parish.  He is also coordinating improvements to the swimming pools, baseball fields, parks, and other facilities. Watkins has initiated partnerships with local organizations and businesses to offer new activities for parish youth such as camps, field trips, and new classes, while working to enhance current programs.  With more than $2.3 million in physical improvements underway, Watkins looks forward to maintaining quality parks for residents to enjoy.  Before becoming Recreation Director, he was a business owner who managed daily operations including scheduling, budgeting, inventory, payroll and customer relations.

Watkins is a former professional football player for the Montreal Alouettes, with an eight year career in the Canadian Football League.  He possesses the leadership skills to continue the strides made in the recreation department.  He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management from Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia.

Alexandra Carter – Planning and Zoning

Alexandra Gelpi Carter has served as a Zoning Regulatory Administrator in the Planning and Zoning Department since May of 2015.  She is a member of the American Planning Association [APA] National and Louisiana State Chapter, and has expertise in Smart Growth, Urban Design, Land Development Regulations, Housing Finance, Economic and Community Development.  She values honesty, hard work, reliability, and a high degree of professionalism.  Prior to accepting a position in St. John Parish, Carter worked as a Planner in the Jefferson Parish Planning Department for 6 years. With her extensive experience updating Jefferson Parish's Zoning Code to reflect the community’s interest and national best practices, Carter will be instrumental in many upcoming projects for St. John the Baptist Parish.

Carter holds a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of New Orleans and is a resident of Bucktown.

Jobe Boucvalt – Public Safety

Jobe Boucvalt has served as the Emergency Preparedness/Civil Defense Director for St. John the Baptist Parish for the past four years.  He has experience managing hurricanes and the recovery process, tornadoes, a variety of weather events, and has re-organized the Parish’s emergency operations plans.  He has also been instrumental in hosting safety and procedural trainings and re-organizing the fire department.  Prior to his appointment in 2012, Boucvalt was a retired Operations Shift Supervisor with Marathon Refinery in Garyville. He has a wealth of knowledge and training in the area of safety and many years of experience in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). During his tenure at the refinery, Boucvalt coordinated daily emergency response activities, handled health, environmental and safety (HES) issues, served as the on-site emergency incident commander, and managed evening, night and weekend personnel and activities.

Boucvalt is a former Councilmember and a life-long resident of LaPlace.

Brian Nunes – Public Works

Brian Nunes has served as the Director of Public Works since June of 2012.   He oversees a $4 million operating budget and more than $50 million in Capital Projects and infrastructure improvements.   He is a Professional Engineer who has worked on drainage, road and levee projects including design and management.  During his tenure, he has managed numerous Road Improvement Projects, Drainage Improvements and purchased additional equipment for the department.  Nunes has a thorough working knowledge of the parish drainage system which has several major drainage projects in design. 

Specifically, Nunes has overseen the completion of the Homewood Drainage Project, Riverlands Drainage Project, Reserve Drainage Project (Phase I), the Foxwood Levee Project, and installation of the Red Bud drainage pump project.   He has also managed $4.15 million in parish-wide Road Improvements and daily road and drainage maintenance, while working on designs for multi-million projects funded through Bond Issues and grant funds.

Nunes holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Michigan State and is a licensed engineer in the state of Louisiana.   He is a resident of Greenwell Springs.

Blake Fogleman – Utilities Director

Blake Fogleman joined the administrative staff in February of 2015 assigned to the Utilities Department and has served as Director for the past 6 months.  He is a Professional Engineer with experience in both public and private sectors.  He has managed various utility projects for local governments and has experience designing and managing potable water treatment and supply projects, sewer collection and treatment projects, and wetland impact and drainage studies. 

Since January of 2015, Fogleman has helped manage over $21 million in projects throughout the Parish.  Completed projects include the Mississippi River Waterline Crossing, the DuPont curve booster station, a test well in Pleasure Bend and a new collection system on Airport Road.  Inflow/infiltration projects are ongoing.  With many projects in design, Fogleman looks forward to seeing major improvements in the water and wastewater systems over the next four years.

He has worked closely with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality on project funding and approval and regulatory matters.  He is proficient in site permitting, including permits for environmental impact/clearing, wetland permits, subdivision regulations through Parish, City, or Town zoning departments, railroad right-of-way permitting, highway utility permits, and joint permits with the Department of Natural Resources, the US Army Corps of Engineers, Levee Districts and the LA Department of Transportation and Development.

Fogleman holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Engineering from Louisiana State University and is a resident of Gonzales.

For more information, please visit the St. John the Baptist Parish website at or Facebook page.