The Ville Platte City Council met Tuesday evening. Before the meeting, council members were sworn in for the new year. During the regular meeting, Mayor Jennifer Vidrine welcomed new councilpersons, Faye Lemoine of District A and Coach Lionel Anderson of District D.
Councilman Mike Perron brought up the issue of loitering. The mayor said that when the clubs close, people go to the Exxon and the Shell stations, and that's where some of the loitering occurs. Councilman Bryant Riggs suggested that business owners who experience loitering should pay for security to help curb loitering when police are unable to assist. The hiring of more police officers was addressed. Police Chief Neil Lartigue said, "I have a solution. You give me more men and more money in the budget and I'll have more people to spare." Chief Lartigue said the department can't compete with the bigger towns, budget-wise, so officers leave to go to the bigger towns where they will make more money. Mayor Vidrine said, "Our budget for the police department is exhausted to the hilt." Chief Lartigue said the police do resepond to loitering, but sometimes can't make it there right away if they're on another call. Mayor Vidrine added that the city is implementing a tip line for citizens to report suspicious or criminal activity anonymously. The city is looking at possibly using the app Tip 411.
In his report, Chief Lartigue announced that the department responded to a total of 410 calls for assistance, which required 386 reports, 13 citations, and 52 arrests which includes 12 felony arrests. Officers responded to 34 accidents in the month of December. Felonies and arrests were each down by 4 from November, but accidents were up by 7 from the previous month.
Fire Chief Chris Harrison reported that the department responded to a total of 17 calls for the month of December, which included 2 vehicle fires, 1 gas leak, and 1 bomb threat. There were no fatalities. For the year 2018, the department responded to 274 calls, among them were 33 structure fires and 17 vehicle fires. Chief Harrison said they are waiting on the contract for a new fire ladder truck which is mostly being paid for thanks to a federal grant. The city would only be responsible for 5% of the cost.
In other business, the council set a public meeting for Monday, February 11 at 5:30 PM to let citizens voice their concerns over a new internet service that wants to use local towers.
Mayor Vidrine asked the council members to make a list of all the things that need to be done in their districts. She said they are reorganizing and revamping how they take and perform tasks so that future work will run more smoothly.
Chamber of Commerce Director Renee Brown addressed the council to announce a meeting this (Wednesay) evening at Café Evangeline at 4:30 PM. The meeting is to discuss the beautification and revitalization of downtown Ville Platte. The public is invited.
New Library Director Margie Mealer asked for council members and the mayor, and any other prominent members of the community, to be recorded on video reading Dr. Seuss books in conjunction with Dr. Seuss month in March. Interested persons should contact Margie Mealer at the Ville Platte library before the end of February.
Mayor Vidrine announced that the city is cleaning out culverts to better the drainage issues in town. She also announced that the city spent $205,525.04 in December, which is $54,822.76 less than November.