The Evangeline Parish Police Jury held its monthly meeting tonight in the courthouse. There was much discussion on some lingering issues in the parish.
Tempers were flared as the discussion of pay raises for the Justices of the Peace and the Constables of the parish were discussed. Police Juror, Kenny Burgess, made a motion that they give a $150.00 a month pay raise to the JP’s and Constables. After debating back and forth, the Jury voted against granting the pay raises. President, Ryan Ardoin, pointed out that “Donald Bergeron has already said we are over budget. We have given out loans and that money is tied up.” Juror, Kenny Burgess, stated “Unbelievable. We can give raises to the City Marshall/Constable in Ward 1, but we can’t give it to the rest of the Parish.” Juror, Lamar Johnson, was vocal as he left the police jury room, upset at the decision. Juror, Bryan Vidrine, was quoted saying “We have to stay in budget before we give out raises…this isn’t Washington D.C.”
As we have reported to you in the past, abandoned properties have been and were in deep discussion with the Police Jury this evening. They received bids from three companies to demolish structures that lie on multiple properties. If the Jury went ahead with the demolition of the structures through the companies that bid, the cost would then turn around and be placed as a lien against the property owner. Then, if not paid, the property could go up for sale and the police jury would recover the money through that avenue. The problem arose that some of these properties would not bring in near the money that it would cost to have the dwellings demolished, leaving the Police Jury in the red. They discussed the possibility of demolishing them through the Public Works department, and Director, Chester Granger, was asked to visit the locations and put together a cost estimate of what it would cost the Parish to complete the work themselves. The bids from the three companies ranged greatly but all were in excess of $50,000.00. The Jury voted to put off action in the ongoing struggle until they receive the report from Mr. Granger.
The issue of Animal Control was raised as discussions about building a new animal shelter continue to be had. President, Ryan Ardoin, suggested we “bring it to the people for a vote”, either a millage tax or a sales tax. Kenny Burgess stated he was against a millage because then only homeowners would be paying the tax. The Jury has been speaking with other parishes and organizations about the cost of building and maintaining a facility in the Parish. Surrounding areas pay a wide range from $50,000.00 a year to $198,000.00 a year to maintain a facility. They will have two guest speakers at the next committee meeting to provide more information to the Jury. Jill Stevenson and Tim Benoit from Acadia Parish will present the information to the Jury.
Dwight Landreneau, Head of State Parks, spoke to the Jury and requested they enter into a Cooperative Agreement with Chicot State Park. There has been a tremendous cut in funding and his office has had to let 116 people go from their employment. He says they simply do not have the money to operate as they did in the past. The Police Jury agreed to enter into the Agreement, which would aid the park by allowing employees, on down time, or as needed, to assist with duties and work at what Evangeline Parish calls “The Park”. Mr. Landreneau pointed out that the park generates $3.5 million dollars for Evangeline Parish and it is vital that we keep it up and running. He also said that residents who would like to volunteer at Chicot State Park or the Arboretum can call the main office speak with the office manager. Also, if you have a business or if you would like to personally “Adopt” part of the park, please call as well. There are many options you can help with.
The Police Jury voted to designate March American Red Cross Month in celebration of the Heroes in Evangeline Parish who help those in need during the time of emergencies. They come to the rescue through blood donation, helping soldiers communicate with love ones who are hurt, and prevent and eliminate human suffering during disasters. Erica Williams with The American Red Cross spoke to the Jury and thanked them for the proclamation. Locally, they have helped with 7 fires, 8 families in need, 345 parish residents have received CPR certifications, and 23 parish residents are American Red Cross Volunteers. She asked for all of you to please register and volunteer with the American Red Cross.
Public Works Director, Chester Granger, brought up an issue he is currently dealing with. While Contractor, Coastal Road and Bridges has been using Readon School Road, there has been damage done to the road. They have been in disagreement about repairing the road and he reports that he and Mike Smith with Coastal have not been able to come to an agreement regarding the repairs that need to be done to the road. He said “The repairs are unsatisfactory to our standards and he has until March 16th to have the repairs done. We will keep you up to date on the matter.
There will be a public hearing on April 13th at 5:45 regarding abandoning a portion of Gallou Lake Road due to the purchase of the surrounding land by Dominick Brown from JT Miller.
Secretary/Treasurer, Donald Bergerson, reported that the 2% Sales Tax Collection for the month of January was $247,717.13.