Parish CAO Vial will step down after 32 years
Has been only CAO in parish’s history
Vial had just graduated from college.
"It was really just myself and the new parish president at the time and when a problem came up you’d look around and you’d kind of just say ‘I guess it’s just us’ and figure it out," Vial said.
As chief administrative officer, Vial has been in charge of the day-to-day operations of the parish government from its inception until now.
"I’ve had the privilege of working for every parish president," Vial said. "I’ve worked with every parish council that we’ve ever had elected, which is over 46 councilmen I’ve worked with over those years."
The 53-year-old has decided to step down after 32 years as the second in command of the parish government.
In a statement, Parish President V.J. St. Pierre said Vial’s experience will be missed.
"I believe the thing we may miss the most is his general knowledge of happenings within St. Charles Parish government over his tenure – he has a great memory and can recall facts at a moment’s notice," St. Pierre said. "He is full of good advice and will always present the pros and cons of a situation to allow me to make decisions – and he has done so steadily and without controversy. We can’t thank him enough for his service."
The parish government faced a lot of adversity in Vial’s first few years on the job.
"When we had the first parish president come in a lot of things were done very quickly in those first four to six years that were very controversial," he said.
After the St. Charles Parish Council passed a garbage pick up law, residents formed a coalition against the law and forced a citizen initiative to have it repealed.
"They got enough signatures to force the council to repeal the parishwide garbage program," Vial said.
However, after a year the parish again passed the law and garbage pick up in the area is still in place today.
Perhaps the most controversial time in the parish’s history was when the community of Good Hope was displaced by the Good Hope Refinery, which is now the site of the Valero Refinery.
"The outgoing form of government, the police jurors, didn’t want to deal with it so they punted the ball and they said we are going to leave this with the new council to deal with," Vial said. "It was very, very controversial, probably some of the most vocal meetings that the parish council ever held. A few fights broke out and there were bus loads of people that came to the meetings."
Despite the outcry, the community of Good Hope was eventually bought out by the refinery.
Due to the controversy of those early years, Vial said parish residents tried to repeal the St. Charles Parish Council’s charter and return to a police jury form of government. He said keeping that from happening is probably his biggest accomplishment in his time as chief administrative officer.
"We were able to put on a campaign to beat that and keep the current form of government, which I think is a progressive form of government that allows our parish to accomplish so much and to develop into what it is today," Vial said.
Though he will miss working for the parish government, Vial is happy to take the next step in his career.
"I’m certainly going to miss my fellow workers and quite honestly I am sure I will miss the job also," Vial said. "After 32 years it is time for a change and time to do something different. I enjoy where I am and I enjoy what I am doing, but there comes a time when you need to walk away and do something a little different and I think that time is now."
Although Vial will be retiring from the parish government, he will not be far away. He will be moving one floor down into the Assessor’s Office on Jan. 1 to serve as chief deputy when Assessor-elect Tab Troxler takes office.
Vial said being that close will still allow the parish government staff and officials to easily contact him if needed.
"If I can in any way help them with any problems that they’ve had, or give them that historical knowledge that they’re used to me providing, I’ll be glad to give it to them and be available for them," Vial said.
Vial will be replacing Adeline Verda, who is currently serving as chief deputy under current Assessor Clyde "Rock" Gisclair.
Verda said she was given the option by Troxler to remain with the office, but not necessarily as the chief deputy. She decided to retire instead.
"I’m retiring along with the assessor," Verda said. "It’s been a pleasure working here. I have mixed emotions retiring. I’ve been here long enough and I’m plenty old enough. It was a good run."
Vial will be taking a pay cut from the $121,421 he currently makes as chief administrative officer, but as chief deputy his salary will also exceed six figures and he will be able to draw a pension from the parish government.
St. Charles Parish is currently advertising for a replacement for Vial on their website and a decision has not yet been made on who will replace him.
"The parish president is handling that," Vial said. "I’ve told him I’m willing to work with him to make the transition as smooth as possible, but I’d prefer to let him make that decision."
The departure of Vial from his post at the parish government continues a trend of longtime parish public figures moving on this year. In 2012 alone District Attorney Harry Morel retired after 33 years, former Clerk of Court Charlie Oubre was voted out of office after 33 years and Gisclair, who has been assessor for 40 years, also chose to retire instead of running for an eleventh term.
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