Scotlandville community center deemed unsafe, numerous violations

SCOTLANDVILLE, LA (WAFB) - A community center used by hundreds of people in the Scotlandville area has been deemed unsafe.

The councilwoman who runs the Jewel Newman Community Center, Chauna Banks-Daniel, closed it citing numerous violations by the state fire marshal.

9News has learned some internal affairs could also be plaguing the operations.

The doors to the Jewel Newman Community Center are locked. The hustle and bustle of children playing ball and adults gathering is gone. Councilwoman Banks-Daniel supervises the center. She gave 9News a tour two weeks ago. Our cameras spotted a recreation room cluttered with furniture, and women and men's locker rooms that also appeared to be nothing more than storage areas.

"They are not being used because no one can get to them," Banks-Daniel said.

On Friday, Banks-Daniel announced she was the recreation section of the center for repairs and upgrades after inspectors with the state fire marshal's office found potential hazards.

The councilwoman claims it's a result of mismanagement by the center's director, Carl Slaughter.

"I was appalled. I thought that was absolutely ridiculous," Slaughter said.

Slaughter, who is on sick leave, said he warned the councilwoman about the decades-old community center and its dire need for repairs. He said, in April, he gave her a list of requests for funds to update the fire panel in the gym, update security, and replace the 30 year old lighting system.

"She has the authority. She can call down to finance and budgeting and appropriate that money today and get with DPW and this will not be an issue," Slaughter said.

Slaughter said Banks-Daniel instead created her own wish list including community events the center hosts every year, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas parties.

As for the gym being used as a storage area, Slaughter said the councilwoman recently ordered him and a maintenance worker to clear two rooms which rendered the recreation rooms unusable.

"The only time it wasn't used was when the councilwoman asked us to vacate room's number 4 and 5. We couldn't put the furniture outside because it's inventoried and if it came up missing we'd be blamed for that," Slaughter explained.

Banks-Daniel has written a letter to Slaughter notifying him that she is recommending the termination of his employment with the city citing poor performance. The 34-year employee has hired attorney, Jill Craft.

"She can probably have some input in it but according to civil service law she can't make that decision," Craft said.

Councilwoman Bates-Daniel said because she is short staffed she is at the mercy of the East Baton Rouge Department of public works to provide manpower to get the place up and running in 30 days.

As for Slaughter, he said, he's ready to get back to work.

"This is our country club in Scotlandville. We have nothing else," Slaughter said.

A hearing regarding Slaughter's employment is set for Wednesday.

Because his job is listed under civil service, only someone with a higher classification such as the mayor can legally fire him.

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