The Ville Platte City Council met Tuesday evening. Mayor Vidrine and some council members wore pink in honor of breast cancer awareness month. Members who forgot to wear pink were adorned with pink roses by Hilda Edwards, secretary to the mayor and grand marshal of the Cotton Festival parade.
Crime and safety were the hot topics of the night, with citizens of the Shady Acres subdivision expressing concern about break-ins throughout their neighborhood.
Chief of Police Neil Lartigue said the department is increasing patrols and police presence in areas that seem to be the most afflicted with crime and loitering. Current city cameras are being fixed, and new cameras will be installed. Mayor Vidrine stressed that safety for the city is a priority. She said some of these break-ins are caused by 12, 13, and 14 year-olds. She said most of the gunshots heard around the city are from kids, and she stressed that somebody is putting guns in their hands. She pleaded with parents to check their children's rooms, saying it's not an invasion of privacy if they are living in your home. She said some parents have been surprised when the police get involved and search the children's rooms and start pulling out several guns that the parents didn't know about. She said some of the criminals here are coming from out of town. She wants citizens to report anyone suspicious on their streets. She said all calls to the police will remain anonymous, but some citizens have expressed concern that they feel that may not be the case. The city will be installing a tip line soon, so that anyone who wants to report tips on a crime can call that line and know without a doubt that they will remain anonymous.
One area of the city was of great concern to the council: the 700 block of Edward Knote Thomas Street. Sunshine Store, located on that street, requested a permit to sell alcohol. The council almost voted against allowing the permit, citing the heavy loitering and concerns with drinking and drugs in that area. The council was split, but with 3 voting yes and 2 voting no, the motion passed to allow the permit.
Chief Lartigue reported that, for the month of September compared to the month of August, the number of accidents were down by 22, felonies were down by 4, arrests were down by 8, citations were down by 16, reports down by 6, and the number of calls up by 1. He was pleased to announce the hiring of 4 full-time patrol officers: Kristina Johnson, Roderick Ben, Samer Aldelatif, and Brittany Semien. Shandon Semien moved from part-time jailer to full time patrol officer. Lauriel Ardoin moved from part-time jailer to full time jailer.
In good news, Fire Chief Chris Harrison reported that the fire department rating went from class 3 to class 2, which Mayor Vidrine said "that's a very big deal" because the cost of home owner's insurance premiums will go down as a result.
In other business, Chamber of Commerce Director Renee Brown asked about a litter abatement program, asking the council if they would work out an arrangement for people who need to fill community service hours to pick up litter to satisfy those hours. Earlier in the meeting, counsel member Bryant Riggs suggested having inmates pick up litter. The concern from the council at that time was that they would need extra security to watch over the inmates. When Brown suggested the abatement program, other suggestions were made to include organizations and churches to help clean the litter and to do it in time for Ville Platte High's and Sacred Heart High's homecomings.
The mayor announced that the city received a grant for a new ladder truck for the fire department. The old truck is 37 years old. The new truck is being custom built and will take about four months.
The mayor also announced city employees will soon be logging hours with a new digital program that is worker-friendly and will help the city cut back on the amount of paper used.
The mayor said more abandoned buildings have been town down and asks for citizens to report any abandoned buildings. She also said inspectors will be coming to town to check rent properties where some land lords are renting to tenants with no electricity and holes in the floors.
Mayor Vidrine reported that some of the expenses for the month of September were for the inspection of generators, repairs at the jail, and medical treatment for inmates, and a new software system to help make the city more efficient.