Iberville Parish President Mitchell Ourso was filled with gratitude and said so at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon held at Nottoway Plantation last Thursday.
“It’s been an honor to serve Iberville Parish as president,” he said near the end of his 40-minute speech. “I have been honored, grateful and humbled to serve our parish.”
“I love Iberville Parish, this is my home,” Ourso continued, earlier having announced he would run again in 2020 but if elected, it would be his final term in office. He was elected when the parish made the conversion from a police jury to a parish council in 1987.
He also told the crowded big restaurant at the plantation how fortunate the parish itself and its people are.
“We are really blessed here in Iberville Parish with our culture, our material resources, the industries and everything else we have,” Ourso said.
The parish president talked on a number of subjects – including about 30 minutes devoted to praising his staff – and about what he believed would be the biggest part of his legacy from his tenure in office.
“After all that’s been accomplished here…if there’s anything that means more to me than any of the others, that’s the Iberville Oschner’s (Medical Center),” Ourso said.
After an extensive effort on his part, the parish president was able to convince the medical center to open a location in Iberville Parish after Hurricane Gustav led to the closure of River West Medical Center, leaving the parish with no hospital, no emergency room facilities.
“That is, in all my years in office, the Iberville Oschner has been my legacy project,” Ourso said.
The longtime parish president heaped praise on his staff and introduced a long list of those who were present for the lunchtime meeting.
“I’ve been fortunate,” Ourso said. “I’ve surrounded myself with a great staff.”
He’s also said he’s been aided “by good councilmen for the past 12 years with our agenda to move this parish forward.”
Ourso then returned to talk about his staff, admitting he was demanding of his employees.
“I’m a hard man to work for,” he said. “Any of my employees will tell you that I am the man.”
When Ourso calls on an employee to tell them he needs them at his office, he means now, even if that means they have to “put your sandwich in your pocket” if they happened to be at lunch.
“That’s just the way I have to respond to the public,” Ourso said, adding he expects his employees to react when he wants something done.
Then he talked pointedly about his key staff members, starting with his general services director, Robin Free, a retired judge, who has been working on properties with tax liens on them.
Ourso credited Free with collecting $250,000 in delinquent property taxes and moving on seizing others, saying, “Robin does an awesome job.”
He continued with Laurie Doiron, the parish’s 911 director, who has announced her retirement at the end of the year along with her assistant.
“I’m losing a wealth of experience, dedication and hard work in that important position,” Ourso said.
Others he introduced and spoke well of included Randolph Ware, the parish’s director of social services, John Marques, the director of fire and emergency, Charlene Tiplin, the executive director of the Council on Aging, solid waste director Randy Meillon, Bert Allain, substance abuse director, and a host of others.
He finished the praise parade with his executive assistant, Judy Burleigh, about whom Ourso admitted, “she puts up with a lot of crap from me” and handles the thousands of phone calls he receives over the course of a year, and lifelong friend, Paul Miglacio.
“All of us have to have a go-to person and I’m lucky to have one,” he said of Miglacio, the parish director of operations. “…He’s been everything to me.”