Ackel to fill Berwick vacancy


BERWICK — Jacki Ackel, a longtime St. Mary educator, was named Thursday to fill the vacant position on the Berwick Town Council.

Ackel recently retired after 31 years in the school system where she taught at Berwick High School for two years and worked as the parish drug free schools co-coordinator for 25 years. She is a 1974 graduate of McNeese University and is a member of Bayou Vista Baptist Church.

The new councilwoman currently serves on the Berwick Housing Authority Commission, the parish Red Ribbon Committee, Claire House Board and both the St. Mary Parish and state Mothers Against Drunk Driving boards.

Ackel called this morning from Texas where she was visiting relatives.

“I am honored and humbled by the trust placed in me to serve our town by the mayor and council. I am proud to serve alongside Mayor Ratcliff and Councilmen Arthur, Robison, Lombardo and Thomas.

“I know that I will stand on the shoulders of my dear friends who served our town, former Mayor Emmett Hardaway and Councilmembers Elaine Cantrell and Stan Beaubouef. I am especially proud to carry on the legacy of my dear friend and our great lady Iris Berry.

“I pledge my time and talents to be a ‘beacon’ for Berwick.”

Ackel replaces Penny T. Crappell, 47, who was arrested Aug. 23 on charges of theft and forgery after a month-long investigation by Louisiana State Police into the misappropriation of about $59,000 at Berwick Elementary School, where Crappell was a secretary.

Crappell resigned from both her town council and school system positions the day before her arrest.

Berwick Mayor Louis Ratcliff said he believed it was important to appoint a woman to the position because voters had elected a woman.

The council passed a resolution calling for a special election to permanently fill the position, which Ackel will not be eligible to run in. Qualifying will be Feb. 13 to 15 with a primary April 6 and a general election May 4.

In other action, the council voted to expand the agenda and ratify Ratcliff’s declaration on Tuesday of an emergency arising from Hurricane Isaac. This is done to allow the mayor to execute any documents with the federal and state governments that would allow the town to qualify for funding.

While Councilman Duval Arthur did vote to expand the agenda, he abstained from the vote to make an emergency declaration because of a conflict of interests. He is the parish Office of Emergency Preparedness director.

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