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Local News Archives for 2019-02

Evangeline Parish School Board approve Pay Raises

The Evangeline Parish School Board met Wednesday evening. Board members voted 12-1, to give themselves a raise from $600 to $800 per month. One board member, Michael Fontenot voted against the pay raise. In other business, Phil Lemoine, former mayor of Ville Platte, announced to the board his candidacy for Louisiana State Representative in the 38th district. In other action, the Board approved and accepted the following: • The bid of $5,000 to Marvin's House Moving, Demolition and Excavating Contractor, LLC for the sale of old technology buildings and three portable buildings at Ville Platte Elementary. • The low price quote of $6,524.08 from Deshotel's Floor Covering for stairwell treads at Bayou Chicot Elementary. • The low price quote of $22,620 for VC tile flooring in 20 classrooms of the main building at Ville Platte Elementary. • $27,000 for professional development for principals, assistant principals and supervisors to implement meaningful walk-through observations and effective feedback. • $26,350 to LSUE for payment for dual enrollment. • $24,378.90 to M.D. Descant, LLC for Basile High School improvements. • $14,890.21 for additions and alterations to W.W. Stewart Elementary. In closing remarks, Superintendent Darwin Lazard said Ryan Chapman from Ville Platte High School has been selected to represent his school in engineering in the National Young Leadership Forum. Those students who participate in a national event are given $200 by the school board. Lazard attended the National Superintendents Association conference last week in Los Angeles. He had an opportunity to represent Louisiana and was the only one to represent on the governing board. He said some superintendents wanted to take a position against corporal punishment, but Lazard said he would rather local states and districts individually make that decision. That particular effort did not pass, as the association did not take a position on it. Lazard went on to inform the board that March 1st is Dr. Seuss Day in honor of his birthday, and he and some of his staff will be visiting the elementary schools and reading to the students. Lastly, Lazard said he hoped the state would give a raise to teachers and support personnel because they haven't had a raise from the state since Governor Blanco was in office. He said the school board gave them a raise and he was grateful for that, but said "I think it would be wonderful if the state of Louisiana would take a stand and invest in public education."

Ville Platte Chamber planning job fair for Displaced Workers

The Evangeline Parish Chamber of Commerce met Wednesday in the café of Cottage Couture. Chamber director Renee Brown announced there will be a Rapid Response seminar and job fair for workers who were laid off by Cameron-Schlumberger. The event will be held Tuesday, March 12th beginning at 8:30 AM. The Chamber is working with Louisiana Workforce and brought in the Rapid Response team. There will be an orientation to help those workers know what their benefits are and when they can apply for unemployment. They will also assist with 401k questions, and questions about the SNAP food stamp program. Following the orientation, there will be a job fair specifically for the Cameron employees who were laid off. Additionally, the library will be providing laptops to help workers get registered and signed up with online applications and assisting with resumes. Brown next updated the members on the Revitalize Ville Platte efforts. Their first clean-up day was Saturday, February 16. She is asking for community members to volunteer and sign up for committees. Future clean-up days will be posted on the Chamber website. To sign up for a committee, contact the Chamber office at 337-363-1878. Brown also announced the Acadiana Center for the Arts will be at the next Lunch 'n' Learn, sponsored by Bon Aimee Realty. Guest Speaker Samuel Oliver, ACA Executive Director, will discuss activities of the Acadiana Center for the Arts, as well as art grant opportunities for Evangeline Parish Grantees. The Lunch 'n' Learn will be held February 28th from noon until 1:00 PM. The Ville Platte Farmer's Market is returning. It will be held every third Friday of the month outside the Swamp Pop Museum from 3:00 PM – 6:30 PM. There will be arts and crafts, pop-up shops, food, drinks, and music. To apply to be a vendor, contact the Chamber of Commerce. Professional photographer Mallory Veillon is offering head shots for a small fee to business professionals who need head shots for business cards or websites. 10% of the proceeds will go to the Revitalize Downtown Ville Platte fund. She will be at the Chamber office board room on Friday, February 22nd. Monday, February 24th, from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM, the Mercy Regional Medical Center's Wellness Plus is celebrating their anniversary and grand re-opening with door prizes.

Rotart Club hears spokesperson from Miles Perrett Center

The Ville Platte Chamber of Commerce today (Tuesday) heard from Paula Hidalgo, advancement coordinator with the Miles Perrett Center in Lafayette. The Miles Perrett Center is a non -profit organization dedicated to providing non- medical support for people undergoing cancer treatments in the ten parish Acadiana area. All of the services they provide are free of charge to cancer patients and their families. Since the center opened in 2002, they have assisted 16,000 families. She reported that the center is currently assisting 164 cancer patients in Evangeline Parish. Among the products and services they provide include: mastectomy supplies, wound care kits, wigs, hats, school supplies and a wellness center. The center has two mobile vans to bring the services to outlying areas. The center employs 15 full time employees and raises 1.5 million dollars a year through fund rising events such as "The Games of Acadiana." The Sacred heart Interact Club plans to participate in the "Change for Miles " program where change jars will be placed in business locations and stores in the Ville Platte area for customers to leave their change in the jars. She was the guest of Rotarian Larry Lachney. Rotary Club President Peter Strawitz announced that the club is planning something special to recognize the 90th birthday of the local club. The Ville Platte Club was given a charter on March 13 1929.

Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office make arrests dealing with Car Jacking and Drugs

Evangeline Parish Sheriff Eddie Soileau, of the Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office has released the following: On February 4, 2019 at approximately 9:00 am an Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office Deputy responded to a vehicle theft. While en route, there were multiple calls in reference to another carjacking, an attempted carjacking, and a vehicle crash. At approximately 9:20 am another Deputy arrived to the next call. It was found that the suspect also bumped a female with one of the vehicles that was stolen. The victim was severely injured and had to be transport to the hospital. The vehicle crash was at the intersection of Te Mamou Rd and Pine Point Rd, therefore a Louisiana State Police- Troop I was dispatched to handle the crash. At that time, the suspect was charged by State Police on the following: Reckless Operation, Driving under the Influence, and Driving Left of Center. The suspect was indentified to be Terrus Arvie of Ville Platte. The suspect was detained, arrested, and booked into the Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office Jail on the following charges: Obstructing Public Passages, 2 counts of Battery of a Police Officer, Simple Battery, Criminal Damage to Property, 2 counts of Carjacking, Aggravated Second Degree Battery, Attempted Carjacking, and Unauthorized Entry of an Inhabited Dwelling. Arvie's bond was set at $207,500.00 by 13th Judicial Judge Chuck West. In another case, Sheriff Eddie Soileau, of the Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office has released the following: On February 4, 2019 at approximately 7:05 am an Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office Deputy was at the Y- Not Stop. The manager approached the Deputy and advised him that there was a male subject sleeping in his vehicle at the gas pump. A plain view search of the vehicle was conducted after noticing the suspect had an open container in the cup holder and he appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. Louisiana State Police- Troop I was then called out to conduct a Field Sobriety Test. The suspect was not charged with a DUI at that time but would not be able to leave in his vehicle. Upon searching the vehicle the Deputy located and seized 11 clear baggies of what appears to be Methamphetamines and also an open bottle of Mike's Hard Lemonade. The suspect was indentified to be Kasey Perron of Crowley. After further investigation, the suspect was detained, arrested, and booked into the Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office Jail on the following charges: Driving under Suspension, Possession of Alcoholic Beverage in Vehicle, Distribution/ Manufacture or Possession w/ Intent of Sch II, and Loitering. Perron's bond was set at $32,500.00 by 13th Judicial Judge Chuck West.

LSU Eunice officials address Ville Platte Rotary Club

The Rotary Club of Ville Platte today (Tuesday) made a presentation to LSU Eunice officials for the Rotary Club scholarship fund. The donation amounted to $5100 and presented by LSU Eunice Scholarship Fund Chairman Dr. William Buller. Accepting the check were Acting Chancellor Dr. William Crowe and Pat Griffith, school enrollment director. Dr. Crowe gave an update on what is going on at the Eunice campus. He announced enrollment is growing. The nursing program has expanded to have the school partner with Lafayette General Medical Center and other medical centers in our area. He reported that local school districts such as Evangeline Parish are teaming up with LSU Eunice to offer dual enrollment college credits while still attending high school. One challenge facing higher education such as LSU Eunice is adequate funding from the state. LSU-E staff members finally received a raise from the state for the first time in eight years. He said the state needs to provide proper and stable funding for all levels of education. He announced that a new chancellor will be selected by July 1. In other news, it was announced that the rotary sponsored "choices" program will be presented in sixteen 8th grade classes throughout Evangeline Parish. Club members will teach the course of instruction that urges students to make the right choices and stay in school Evangeline Chamber of Commerce Director Renee Brown announced that the community cleanup day is planned for this Saturday Feb. 16 from 8:30am to 12 noon.

Ville Platte City Council looking at making rate increases to utility customers

Ville Platte City Attorney Eric Lafleur Tuesday addressed the Mayor and the City council for the need to address budget issues now before the end of the fiscal year. Mayor Jennifer Vidrine reported at the meeting that revenues remain flat while expenses are increasing. Lafleur said the city will prepare utility rate increases to go into effect by April for gas, water and sewer customers. He explained that the bond holders who hold municipal bonds will require the city take necessary action to have additional funds in reserve. The city attorney said the city will also have to look at making "serious cuts". The mayor said each department head have been instructed to review their budgets and look at making necessary reductions. In other business, the city council referred to their legal advisor a proposal by Natalie Maple, an attorney representing AT&T, asking the city's approval to erect a third cell phone tower in the city. This 255 foot tall tower would be built in a grassy area behind Stage near Walmart in Ville Platte. She said the additional tower would increase coverage and cell phone capacity. Also, the city approved a request from Todd Morein at Universal Communications to introduce a new internet service to city residents. Mayor Jennifer said the provider should begin taking subscribers within the next 2-3 months. In other action, the city council: Received news that expenses increased in January by some $18,914 because insurance premiums were due; Approved a cooperative endeavor agreement with Prairie Cajun to assist the group in conjunction with the Folk Roots festival at Chicot State Park; Received a report from Evangeline Chamber of Commerce Director Renee Brown that the chamber has prepared a new business checklist to help potential new businesses know what needs to be done when opening a new business; Approved a liquor permit for the Swam Pop Museum on March 4 for the annual Swamp Pop Dance;

Town Hall Meetings held Friday to get Public Comment

A team of U.L. Lafayette students and professors from the Louisiana Entrepreneur and Economic Development (LEED) Center took a bus tour of Ville Platte and conducted several town hall meetings Friday. Professors Geoff Stewart (Ph.D. in marketing), Gwen Fontenot (Ph.D. in marketing), and Curtis Matherne (Ph.D. in Innovation and Management), led the team of graduate students. The first two meetings were held at the Ville Platte library where Dr. Stewart surveyed citizens about the what they would like to accomplish in bringing the town of Ville Platte and Evangeline Parish back to life. Dr. Stewart asked what makes Ville Platte and Evangeline Parish a great place. Responses included festivals, food, scenery, affordability, rail access, available land, cheap, natural gas, parks, medical care, affordable housing, youth sports, and cultural aspects, including music and maintaining the Louisiana French language. Dr. Stewart asked what aspects of the city and parish could be improved. Responses included more police, a more eco-friendly town, four-lane highways, more manufacturing, apartment complexes, bike lanes, and more recreational activities. There was talk of bringing back night clubs, in particular the Evangeline Club. The third meeting was held at the Northside Civic Center where Dr. Stewart and the team recapped the first two meetings and surveyed a new audience about the changes they would like to see in Ville Platte, particularly Main Street. Responses included more police presence, better sidewalks and parking, attractive landscaping and green spaces, better lighting, and awnings over businesses. Among the citizens present at the meetings were prominent members of the community which included city council members and police jury members. Some of the police jury members cooked a jambalaya for the Civic Center meeting. Dr. Stewart and his team said they will take all the suggestions made at the meetings and use it to formulate a plan to work with the city and the parish to further their development. He encouraged citizens to take this opportunity to engage, contribute, and be the change they want to see.

Ville Platte Chamber sponsors Planning Meeting for Downtown Revitalization

VILLE PLATTE REVITALIZATION MEETING Thursday, February 7, 2019 Renee Brown, Director of the Ville Platte Chamber of Commerce, conducted a meeting for persons interested in revitalizing downtown Ville Platte. The meeting was held at Café Evangeline on Main Street. Brown discussed planned projects including the upcoming clean-up day. Brown had sign-up sheets for those interested in joining various committees. Those committees are: Organization, Design, Promotions, and Economic Development. The Organization committee will cover public and private partnerships, marketing, fund-raising, volunteer development, public relations and outreach. The Design committee will partner with the Historic Preservation organization and cover architecture and working with local architect Jill Stevens. The Design committee will also deal with awnings, storefront windows, sidewalks, and murals. The Promotions committee will deal with the farmer's market, art walk, and community clean up. The Economic Development committee will help with commercial listings, real estate, opportunity zones, property owners and property sizing. Citizens interested in participating in a particular committee should contact the Chamber of Commerce. Brown announced that the first community clean-up day will be held Saturday, February 16th from 8:30 AM until 12:30 PM. Those interested in participating will meet at the Chamber office that morning. She asks volunteers to bring weed-eaters and extension cords, garden gloves, pressure washers and hoses, trash bags, water bottles, paper towels, glass cleaners, sunscreen, etc. They will be picking up trash and cleaning sidewalks and grassy areas, and, weather permitting, painting. A team of U.L. Lafayette students, along with Dr. Jeff Stewart, will be in Ville Platte today (Friday) for "Project Engage." They will be participating in three town hall meetings with the general public. The first meeting is at 3:15 PM at the Ville Platte library to discuss proposals for the Ward One Industrial Park. The second town hall meeting, dealing with parish tourism proposals, is at 4:15 PM at the Ville Platte library. The third meeting will be held at 5:30 PM at the Northside Civic Center. This meeting will be about revitalization. The public is encouraged to attend and share ideas and suggestions. There was talk of bringing a sense of pride back to Ville Platte. Brown emphasized that this endeavor is not a one-time event, but a continuing effort to help Ville Platte to grow strong.

Evangeline Parish School Recognizes Principal of the Year and Teachers of the Year

The Evangeline Parish School Board met Wednesday evening. Supervisor Grace Sibley introduced Evangeline Parish principal of the year, Melanie Miller of Ville Platte High School. Sibley gave a featured presentation of Evangeline Parish teachers of the year who are competing on the state level. They are: Sarah Lafleur Bergeron (elementary school); Lisa Celestine Jack (middle school); Nicholas Jagneau (high school). The scoring was so close for middle school teacher of the year, the judges made a special category for the first time for inspirational teacher of the year, and that award went to Erica Landreneau Fontenot. Sibley then presented a highlights video, a compilation of the videos submitted by the teachers of the year to compete on the state level. In other business, First Student Location Manager Hubert Mabe updated the board about school bus cameras. He said First Student examines the camera footage every 90 days and makes adjustments and repairs as needed. They are currently in the process of updating the drives and working on archiving footage. They are also updating SPED routes, giving some buses room for additional students if needed, and have adjusted arrival and departure times. School board member Sheila Joseph asked if drivers are checking the buses after dropping off children to make sure none are left on the bus. Mabe said First Student has a system in place where drivers have to go to the back of the bus to press a reset button after checking all the seats, and they have to display placards that say "Bus Empty." Made said he also looks under the seats to make sure no children are left on the buses, and they encourage drivers to call First Student if they find sleeping children on the buses. Since school started, 5 students have been found sleeping on buses, however no children were reported left behind. In other action, the school board approved the low-price quote by Fontenot's Asphalt Servies, LLC in the amount of $26,937.45 for paving the Chataignier Elementary School faculty parking lot. The board also approved the payment of $23,070.46 to Pat Williams Construction for additions and alterations to W.W. Stewart Elementary. Superintendent Darwin Lazard announced that Ville Platte High School now has a choir called The Singing Sensations. At the end of the meeting, Special Education Director Roxanne West announced she was leaving to obtain a similar position in Desoto Parish. She thanked the many teachers, staff and board members for their support throughout the years. West said, "It is the support of my family and prayers answered from God that has allowed me to do this, but I do thank you all so much for the years I've been here. I know the district is going to continue to do great things under the leadership of Mr. Lazard and the rest of the staff." Lazard announced the new Director is Kelly Lafleur. He called West and Lafleur "the Dynamic Duo of Special Ed." Lafleur tearfully thanked West for all of her hard work and accomplishments saying, "I'm hoping to continue with the road that she has paved for us and I think that special education is going to continue to grow and flourish."

Crowley Man arrested by Evangeline authorities on Drug and other charges

Reckless Driver Arrested Sheriff Eddie Soileau, of the Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office has released the following: On February 4, 2019 at approximately 1:54 pm an Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Deputy was dispatched near the intersection of Chicot Park Rd and Maxie Rae Blvd for a vehicle driving reckless. Once in the area the Deputy located the vehicle at the Chevron on Chicot Park Rd at that time a traffic stop was initiated. Louisiana State Police- Troop I was then called out to conduct a Field Sobriety Test due to the suspect staggering and twitching upon exiting the vehicle. The suspect was identified to be Jason Soileau of Crowley. He was booked into the Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office Jail on the following charges: 2 counts of Prohibited Acts Sch II, 2 counts of Possession of Sch II CDS, Prohibited Acts Drug Paraphernalia, Distribution or Possession of Legend Drug w/o Prescription, No Insurance, Expired Driver's License, and Owner to Secure Registration. Soileau's bond was set at $135,000.00 by 13th Judicial Judge Chuck West.

Eunice suspect arrested after a Vehicle Pursuit by Evangeline Sheriff's Deputies

Sheriff Eddie Soileau, of the Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office has released the following: On January 30, 2019 at approximately 2:05 am an Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Deputy initiated a traffic stop and while conducting the traffic stop the suspect fled in the vehicle which initiated a vehicle pursuit. The pursuit began in the city limits of Ville Platte and ended in St. Landry Parish near the Wal-Mart Distribution Center, where the vehicle wrecked. Multiple agencies were involved in this pursuit which was Ville Platte Police Department, St. Landry Sheriff's Office, and Louisiana State Police- Troop I. The suspect was indentified to be Daniel Sorcia of Eunice. He was booked into the Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office Jail on the following charges: No Motor Vehicle Inspection Sticker, Violation of Registration, No Insurance, Switched Plates, and Aggravated Flight from an Officer. Sorcia's bond was set at $35,500.00 by 13th Judicial Judge Gary Ortego.

KVPI receives appreciation award from National Guard

· Special thanks to Lee with the National Guard for a special award presented to KVPI today for our support of the Louisiana National Guard and thank you to Gary Leleux for nominating KVPI for the "Employer Support of the National Guard award".

Ville Platte Police arrest suspect in Burglaries

Ville Platte Police Chief Neal Lartigue reports an arrest after several business burglaries Officers and Detectives have responded to and investigated multiple burglaries at local businesses over the last few days. On January 28, 2019 a business on West Main was broken into and cash and jewelry was taken. On January 31, 2019 cash and documents were taken from a business on West Lincoln Road. On February 1, 2019 two businesses on McArthur were broken into and at one business items such as documents, checks and medication were taken. At a second business located on McArthur, an employee arrived at the building to open for the day and found the suspect inside the building. The suspect held an object to her throat and demanded her wallet and cell phone. The suspect also had taken diapers and food from the building and then fled on foot. Chief Lartigue reports that after further investigation an arrest was made. Items from each of the businesses was located in possession of the suspect. On February 4, 2019, Roger Thomas 47 whose last known address is 310 Oak Street Ville Platte, was arrested and charged with 1 count aggravated burglary, 1 count armed robbery, 1 count simple robbery, 3 counts of theft and 1 count criminal damage to property. Thomas was booked into the Ville Platte City Jail on a $ 305,000 bond and more charges are pending. Chief Neal Lartigue reminds residents to report suspicious or illegal activity by calling 363-1313. Your call will remain anonymous.

EPAR animal rescue efforts discussed at Tuesday's Rotary meeting

The Ville Platte Rotary Club today (Tuesday) heard from guest speaker, Jill Guillory Stephens with (EPAR)- Every Pet Animal Rescue. The volunteer animal rescue group has been in existence since 2014, rescuing pets from the two local pounds and strays. She reported that the Evangeline Parish Police Jury is assisting in funding the cost of veterinary bills for strays. The parish has no animal shelter. In 2018, EPAR rescued some 600 animals, mostly dogs and most were sent to new homes in northern states such as Maryland, Massachusetts and even Canada. The local group is affiliated with an animal rescue group headquartered in Maryland called "Last Chance Animal Group". A full time member of the group who resides in Mississippi travels to Maryland each week bringing some 60-110 dogs. EPAR's goal this year is to develop an animal shelter in the Ville Platte that will have 50 kennels. A number of groups have already stepped up and made donations toward the proposed shelter. Stephens was the special guest of Rotarian Annette Johnson. In other news, Rotary Club President presented new club member Deborah Vidrine a new member packet. Chamber Director Renee Brown reminded club members that there will be a planning meeting to clean up downtown Ville Platte Thursday at 4:30pm at Café Evangeline. Also, there will be three town hall meetings Friday with U.L. officials and students : 3:15pm and at 4;00pm at the Library to get public comments and feed back for tourism and the Industrial Park. A third town hall meeting is scheduled at 5;00pm at the Civic Center for public comments about revitalizing downtown Ville Platte.

Evangeline Parish Police Jury discuss blighted homes and drainage issues with Ville Platte officials

The Evangeline Parish Police Jury met Monday evening with a full house. Several Ville Platte City council members and Mayor Jennifer Vidrine addressed the police jury with issues of blighted properties and drainage. Regarding the issue of blighted properties, police jury secretary treasurer Donald Bergeron said they had budgeted $60,000 for the clean up of blighted properties and have successfully cleared two houses this past week. He said the process is to start with the worst houses that pose a public risk. Some of the houses are owned by the police jury, but some are privately owned. Mayor Vidrine said the city of Ville Platte is also in the process of tearing down blighted properties, and they have found that 53 of them belong to the police jury. She said the city is getting blamed for the properties that they cannot touch because they belong to the jury. Bergeron said, "At least 95% of these homes did not come to us in great shape." The police jury and the City of Ville Platte came to an agreement that, going forward, the jury would report every quarter period on the number of blighted properties demolished, starting with the properties that post the greatest public risk. The next issue on the agenda was the subject of drainage, and the city council members remained to discuss drainage issues in the city of Ville Platte. Mayor Vidrine said the city needs help from the police jury to clean the city's canals. She said they do not understand why the police jury cannot clean the canals, especially since the last elecetion saw an amendment pass that allows political subdivisions to loan equipment to one another. Police Jury president Ryan Leday Williams said he's in favor of doing anything to help in his district. Councilman Bryant Riggs said the top two issues he hears from the public are blighted properties and drainage. Mayor Vidrine stressed that the city and the police jury can work together to get this issue solved. Jury members said part of the problem is that, with the machine they have, they would have to break the concrete in the canals, and it could affect some property owners' fences. For a few moments the jury and the council members, and even audience members tried talking over one another. Jury president Williams banged his gavel when the cacaphony had reached its crescendo. Williams brought everyone back on topic and said another potential problem with helping the city with drainage is the wait time when it comes to equipment floating through the districts. He said he might not get the equipment for another several months in his district, and then he has projects on the line. Mayor Vidrine asked that the city canals be added to the wait list

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