Local News Archives for 2018-08

Library Summer Reading Program Big Success


AUGUST 29, 2018


    The Evangeline Parish Public Library is proud to release the following statistics for this year’s Summer Reading Program . Library patrons checked out a total of 7, 803 books throughout the parish. Here are the top readers for each library Branch: Basile Branch-Ages 0-3- Rhen Fontenot, Brenlee Toups, Audrey and Avery LeBleu, Ages 4-7- Rhett Fontenot , Ages 8-11-Ross Bertrand and Ages 12-17 Amayah Bertrand; Mamou Branch- Ages 0-3- Rowan King, Ages 4-7- Kierstan Freeman, Ages 8-11- Damien Hebert, Ages 12-17 Cecilyah Cole; Pine Prairie Branch—Ages 0-3 Rosalee Melancon, ages 4-7- Annalise Melancon, Ages 8-11-Emily Freeman, Ages 12-17- Kenwin Hazelton; Turkey Creek Branch-: Ages 0-2- Ben Davis and Angelynn Davie, ages 4-7- Aston King, Ages 8-11 Laila King and Ages 12-17- Selina Soleau; Ville Platte Branch- ages 0-2- Marian Andrus, ages 4-7 Aidan Davis, Ages 8-11 Isabelle Andrus and Ages 12-17- Sara Duplechin. Congratulations to these Top Readers and to all the readers who took part in the Summer Reading program.

Union Tank Car Spokesman Guest Speaker at Rotary

    James “Spanky” Vidrine, manager with Union Tank Car of Ville Platte was the guest speaker at today’s (Tuesday) meeting of the Ville Platte Rotary Club. He was the special guest of Rotarian Dr. Hosea “Joey” Soileau.

   Vidrine said the history of Union Tank Car can be traced 128 years ago with the formation of the rail industry with the Rockefeller family needing a rail system to transport oil. Union Tank is the largest rail tank car company in North America.

   Union Tank is now owned by the Moorman Company, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway whose chairman is the famous billionaire Warren Bufffet. Nationwide, Union Tank has about 3-4,000 people employed.

    Union Tank has three divisions: Leasing. The company leases tank cars at about $700 each per month; Manufacturing division with two locations: in Alexandria and a site in Texas. The facilities can produce 20-25 cars a day at a cost of $90,000 each to manufacture. He said the Alexandria site is a huge facility. The third division is the repair unit. Ville Platte is a repair site. There are 11 repair shops throughout the country .

   All tank cars, by law, must be serviced, cleaned and refurbished at least every ten years. After 50 years, the tank cars must be scrapped.

   The Ville Platte location was opened 51 years ago. The facility is employing about 141 workers with about 75 percent of the crew from the immediate Ville Platte area.

La. State Police Major Wayne Vidrine spoke at Ville Platte Rotary


    The Rotary Club of Ville Platte today (Tuesday) heard from Major Wayne Vidrine with the Louisiana State Police. Also with him at the meeting was Public Information Officer Brooks David.

    Vidrine, a resident of the Ville Platte area, a 25 year veteran of the State Police has just been promoted from Troop I Commander to State Police Regional Command Inspector. Also, David who has been working for the past four years with the news media as public information officer has also been promoted to a new position.

   Vidrine spoke on how state police and rotary have a lot in common on ethical and moral leadership. He gave two examples on leaders who were good at team building: Bill Gates of Microsoft and Steve Jobs of Apple.

    He reported that state troopers are now using E tickets where tickets  are generated electronically and are being sent directly to the District Attorney and courts, body cams worn by police officers and crash reports that can be sent immediately to accident victims.

   It was also reported that unmarked state police vehicles are patrolling interstate highways in the state looking for drug dealers, speeders and those texting while driving.

   The guest speakers were the guests of Rotarian Dr. Ted Ardoin.

Mamou Elementary Awarded French Immersion Program Certification- the First in Evangeline Parish

Superintendent Darwan Lazard announced at Wednesday’s school board meeting that Mamou Elementary has made history by becoming a certified French immersion program; the first in Evangeline Parish. 
“Mamou Elementary has accomplished something that I don’t think has been accomplished before.” Said Superintendent Lazard. He continued, “You do remember that they just completed their first year with a French immersion program, and they were only 1 of 3 schools in the state of Louisiana to be certified this year.” 
Tuesday, Mamou faculty and staff and those involved in the French immersion program went to Baton Rouge to be recognized by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. 
Nina David, curriculum coordinator for Mamou Elementary approached the podium to speak about the process of becoming certified, stating that typically schools aren’t approved after only one year. “I think they saw our effort, our desire, to excel in French immersion in our first year, because Mamou is the Cajun Capital of the world, and where else should it be?” said David. 
Those involved with the success of the French immersion program (teachers, faculty, staff) were recognized by Principal Mitchell Troy Fontenot, who thanked them for their hard work, and stated “Evangeline is a model district for French immersion.”
When discussing how the first day of school went for Evangeline Parish public schools Superintendent Lazard stated,  “we had a very good opening day”. As done in the past, Lazard and Assistant Superintendent Mike Lombas visited all 12 schools on the first day. 
Other business:
Public hearing to be held September 19, 2018 for replacement of sewer plant at Bayou Chicot Elementary School to be funded by a USDA loan. 
Approved payment of $27,654.00 to remove and replace the first story wood floor finish at Bayou Chicot Elementary. 
Approved requisition for $8,117.89 for appliances for new special education kitchen, lab, and classroom at Pine Prairie High School using idea funds. 
Approved requisition for $11,395.00 for 30 Chromebooks and charging cart for Mamou Elementary School to provide technology in 3rd and 4th grade classrooms for LEAP 2025 instruction using Title I school-wide funds. 


Evangeline ARC Requests Ville Platte City Council Stop New Bar from Opening Across the Street

Thomas McFarlain, representing the Evangeline ARC and the special needs clients they serve, addressed the Ville Platte City Council Tuesday to request that the city stop a new bar called “The Whistle Bar” from opening across the street from their location at the corner of Lasalle and North-West Railroad Avenue.


“You are all aware of the day program and educational activities operating in the old Deville Lumber Company building for the last 20 odd years.” stated McFarlain. “There are 55 governmentally disabled men and women from Ville Platte, Mamou, and throughout the parish area that attend our program every day. They are instructed in various activities, such that they may improve their ability to participate in society and integrate into the society. In addition, there is a home for 6 disabled men on the property. These men reside there, just as we live in our homes, but need structure and normalcy of community living to provide progress in their lives as productive citizens of Ville Platte. Further, there is a respite program across the street that is used by 8 disabled individuals primarily on weekends. Their parents or guardians send them there as a get away from their homes, or other necessary absences from their homes for medical reasons or family emergencies. There they are transported to various events in or around Ville Platte and nearby cities to attend social activities. These developmentally disabled men and women that live on the property attend the day programs, and temporarily house disabled individuals that are referred to the Evangeline ARC by the state of Louisiana. These individuals need structured environments. A strict routine for their daily lives to progress as citizen’s. Changes or disruptions in their lives is detrimental to their health, aggravate their disabilities, and generally bring disruption to their lives.”


McFarlain then requested that the city reject Whistle Bar’s application. Mayor Vidrine offered to show fairness to Whistle Bar’s owners by inviting them to the next City Council meeting to explain the type of establishment they’d be opening.


Mayor Jennifer Vidrine announced during her monthly report that the council received an honorable mention at the LMA conference, recognizing Ville Platte for being the only city in the state to keep its citizens informed via automated phone calls from the mayor. Mayor Vidrine also announced that 6 more abandoned properties have been cleared, and plans are underway to enforce citations for land owners who don’t maintain their properties.


Other News:


Council member Bryant Riggs announced to the council his plans to fix up Ville Platte Northside Park, by giving up a year’s salary, and seeking out grants and coordinating fundraisers for the project. “We have to have something for everybody, not just the kids, but also for the disabled, A.D.D, senior citizens, children of all ages, and adults of all ages. that’s what I vision.” stated Riggs.


Alex “Sonny” Chapman addressed the council regarding improvement plans for the entrances and exits of Tate Cove Road businesses, in particular McDonalds and Popeyes. Chapman stated that the driveways not being flush with the road poses safety issues, and is an inconvenience to drivers. According to Mayor Vidrine, McDonalds has agreed to make the needed fixes, but Popeyes parking lot entrance belongs to Stage, and further steps need to be taken.


Ville Platte Police Chief Neil Lartigue announced the hiring of Darius Thomas as a part time jailor. During his monthly report, Lartigue stated that for the month of July the Ville Platte Police Department responded to a total of 504 calls for assistance, 490 of which required assistance. Also reported were 17 citations, 69 arrests (26 felony arrests) and 26 motor vehicle accidents. There were no fatalities to report.







Louisiana Folk Roots Introduces After School Music Program for Evangeline Parish


     Glenn Fields, Executive Director of Louisiana Folk Roots, was the guest speaker today (Tuesday) at the weekly luncheon of the Rotary Club of Ville Platte. He was the special guest of Rotarian Renee Brown.

     Louisiana Folk Roots has partnered with The Grand Hoorah to return Folk Roots back to Chicot State Park during the past two years.

     Fields said Louisiana Folk Roots wants to introduce in Evangeline Parish and in other area parishes an after school music program to instruct young people how to play Cajun music with the help of local musicians.

    Folk Roots, along with Prairie Heritage who sponsors the Grand Hoorah and Codofil are supporting and encouraging the launch of these instructional programs.

    He plans to reach out after the holidays to local businesses and industry to assist in funding the cost of musical instruments.

    It was announced that the Ville Platte Chamber of Commerce will have a Business after Hours event at The Hatchery in Vidrine at 5;00pm Wednesday. Also, there will be a ground breaking for the new Teet’s Food Store location Friday morning at 10:00am.


Ville Platte Rotary Hears from Mayor Jennifer Vidrine

    Mayor Jennifer Vidrine addressed the members of the Ville Platte Rotary Club during their noon luncheon today (Tuesday).

     The mayor spoke a lot about economic development and new businesses coming to town: Café Evangeline just had their grand opening last week at the bank note location, La Bonnes Vie will be taking over the Flat Town Music building, Teet’s Food Store will be constructing a new store across the road from their current location, Domino’s Pizza will be opening at the old Mexican restaurant on Tate Cove Road, a Chicken King restaurant and an Urgent Care walk in clinic.

   Mayor Jennifer also mentioned that McDonald’s promises to fix the bump at their entrance from Tate Cove road once their renovation work is completed. She also mentioned that the city will be installing new more powerful LED lights along Main Street. Also, the city is looking at purchasing additional street cameras in high crime areas. Currently the city has ten cameras.

   The city is expected to get in 17 new vehicles that will have tracking devices. Also, the Fire Department has applied for a new $800,000 ladder truck to replace its old ladder truck. She is also seeking a grant from the state to revitalize the Main Street area.

Evangeline Parish Police Jury Receives 2017 Audit Report and Hears from New Sheriff Candidate Dirk Deville.

The Evangeline Parish Police Jury was presented their 2017 audit report by CPA Vic Slaven during Monday’s monthly meeting. Slaven reported that the audit had the same findings as the previous year, but nothing serious. According to Slaven, the police jury ended the year with a positive fund balance of $1,685,000.


Evangeline Parish Tax Assessor Dirk Deville addressed the Jury with his decision to run for the October 2019 Sheriff election. “Some have asked why?” said Deville “It’s actually quite simple. When I was called on to assist the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Department in its recent fiscal recovery, the challenge was fresh and exhilarating.” Deville stated that if he becomes Sheriff he will be “committed and dedicated to making Evangeline Parish a safer, more secure and better place to live.”



Other business:


Introduced and approved a resolution in support of Bryan Vidrine’s candidacy for Police Jury Association of Louisiana.


Reviewed and adopted the 2018 millages.


Appointed Stephanie Smith to Evangeline tourism board.


Reappointed RL Quam to Evangeline Parish Water District #1 for a five-year term.


Evangeline Parish School Board Announces Massive Cuts to Dual Enrollment

Wednesday, Evangeline Parish School Board Supervisor, Kellie Lafleur announced a massive cut in supplemental course education funds from the Louisiana Department of Education.

“Last year we were very fortunate to receive $160,000” said Lafleur adding, “We did get word last week that that number has been reduced to $88,323. This is going to significantly impact our LSUE dual enrollment, LSUE Academy, as well as South Louisiana Community College.” Lafleur explained that before, these funds would cover tuition and books, but this year Lafleur suggested allocating money to just tuition, and only offering one class, then reevaluate in the Spring to see if there is enough funding left to offer another class.

Superintendent Darwan Lazard added, “We had a very successful program, where students are able to earn college credits, but the funds that we get come from the state, which they cut significantly. I mean, when you lose $100,000, that’s nothing to blink at. We wanted everyone to know upfront that we won’t be able to offer as many classes as we have in the past.” Lazard stated that students utilizing Pell Grants won’t be affected.


Towards the end of the meeting, Lazard recognized Christine Bacon, W.W. Stewart principal retiring after 41 ½ years. Lazard described Bacon as “an icon in Evangeline Parish” stating, “she has worked hard for the children of this district for 41 ½ years. Most of that time she spent at W.W. Stewart, and most of the time she was there, she spent as principal.” Lazard then recognized a few new hires in the audience. Replacing Christine Bacon as interim principal is Danielle Young; Bacon’s assistant for over 7 years. Candance Manuel was recognized as interim assistant principal for Mamou High School. Quint West was recognized as the new principal for Pine Prairie High School. Katrina Ardoin was recognized as the interim assistant principal for P.P.H.S. Dr. Kimberly McCauley was recognized as the newest Mathematics teacher at P.P.H.S, receiving strong praise from Lazard for her expertise in Mathematics.


Other Business:


The board approved the adoption of the 2018 millage rates for the tax year 2018. All rates will remain the same as last year, except for the special parish-wide tax that increased from $9.99 to $10.35.


The board accepted a low-price quote of $12,394.26 from Associated Food Equipment & Supplies for a tilting skillet for W.W. Stewart Elementary School Cafeteria using SFS funds.


The board approved a motion to ratify ASE Environmental Services $5,250.00 for remediation/wipe down of the principal’s office and room #13 at Chataignier Elementary School using the parish-wide maintenance fund.


The board approved another motion to ratify ASE Environmental Services $6,300.00 for remediation/ wipe down of eight classrooms at Basile High School (Elementary Building) using Basile Maintenance Fund.




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