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Local News Archives for 2019-03

Rotary Club Hears Evangeline Parish Teachers and Principal of the Year

The Rotary Club of Ville Platte today (Tuesday) heard from the Evangeline Parish Public School Teachers of the Year and Principal of the Year honorees. Superintendent of Schools Darwan Lazard, the Rotarian in charge of the program introduced the guests: Nicholas Jagneaux, High School Teacher of the Year from Ville Platte High; Lisa Jack, Middle School Teacher of the Year from Vidrine Elementary and Sarah Bergeron , Elementary Teacher of the Year from James Stephens Montessori school and Melanie Miller, Principal of the Year, of Ville Platte High School. Also speaking was Supervisor Grace Sibley who is charge of the Teacher of the Year program. Club members viewed a video presentation on the honorees. Ville Platte High Principal Melanie Miller shared some interesting facts about the school: the graduation rates has dramatically increased, ACT rates have jumped and the suspension rate has dropped from 44 percent to 9 percent. She said "Our students are achieving." The school has special classes in pre engineering, art, digital and music. In other business, the rotary club: --will be cooking at the Grand Hoorah Festival May 4 at Chicot State Park; --received news that the Spring Social will be April 9 at Pine Prairie Energy Center in Easton. Club members will be taken on a bus tour of the facility and be treated to a BBQ meal. --was notified that 16 volunteer club members will be teaching the "Choices" program to 15 classes of 8th grade students on April 8 and 9 in parish schools.

Tempers rise during Ville Platte City Council Meeting on increasing Water Rates

The Ville Platte City Council met Tuesday evening. Todd Abshire with the Louisiana Rural Water Association addressed the council with information about water utility rates. He has been conducting a rate study for Ville Platte. He stressed the importance of sustainability, saying that the water system needs to make 10% above revenue be sustainable. He also urged maintaining water safety and reminded the council and the citizens that it is illegal to give anyone a break on their water bill. It is against the state constitution to forgive a water bill or to not disconnect customers. It is also a felony for anyone to tamper with utility meters. He suggested replacing the old meters with smart meters. Mayor Jennifer Vidrine said the water rates will go up, but they are not sure just yet how much they will go up. Several citizens voiced their concerns, with one citizen drawing the ire of the council by suggesting that they are overpaid. He said the council could cut their salaries instead of making cuts to the police department. He added, "The council needs to start thinking about the people instead of thinking about themselves." Councilman Mike Perron said, "Do you think we, in our hearts, want to do that to the people? [...] We are mandated to change the rates." Councilman Bryant Riggs took issue with the citizen's claim that the council is paid too much, and added that the police department had no need for four detectives when two detectives could be doing patrol. At one point, Riggs left the speakers stand to retrieve paperwork to show the citizen a breakdown of his salary. Another citizen stood up and raised his voice to the council shouting, "We need to look at our priorities in Ville Platte. [...] Services that need to be rendered for the common good that aren't being rendered like it should be because there's no more accountability! There is lack of maintenance in this town. Nobody wants to work! Now, anybody wants to say something about that?!" At one point, Councilwoman Faye Lemoine said, "We could all give our salaries back to the city and it still wouldn't be the 10% we need to sustain our water." The water rate discussion lasted nearly an hour. Mayor Vidrine said they asked Abshire there to explain why an increase in rates is needed. She said when the rate study is complete, an ordinance will be introduced and the public will have a chance to voice their concerns at that time. In other business, Todd Morein addressed the council to ask if they had agreed on a price to charge him to put equipment on the three water towers in order to provide a new internet service. The council said the price would be $300 per equipment per tower for a total cost of $900 per month. Morein said the price should be much lower because it's a service provided to the public. Councilman Eric LaFleur said they can use a formula to lower that cost according to volume of business. In other action: • Mayor Vidrine announced the city is working with the police jury to continue work on blighted properties. • The council approved a liquor permit for the Louisiana Smoked Meat Festival which will be held May 17th and 18th this year. • They also approved a liquor permit for the Evangeline Parish Chamber of Commerce banquet, which will be held either next month of September. City Engineer, Ronnie Landreneau, said the fire department should get credit for lowering their rating from a 3 to a 2 which is excellent. Because of this, homeowner and business owner insurance premiums will be lower.

Ville Platte Rotary Club welcomes Louisiana First Lady Donna Edwards

Louisiana First Lady Donna Edwards was the guest speaker at today's (Tuesday) meeting of the Ville Platte Rotary Club. Rotarian Susan Saunders who was in charge of the program introduced her to club members. She and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards recently celebrated their 30th anniversary. They are the parents of three children. After visiting the rotary club, she was due to meet with students at Ville Platte Elementary and Ville Platte High School. The First Lady praised the local rotary club for their accomplishments including a long time scholarship for students to attend LSU Eunice. She also acknowledged the club for their work in establishing Chicot Park in 1939. She said the governor's priorities are raising teacher pay, bring more money to public education and increase the minimum wage for Louisiana workers. She said she was pleased to hear that the BESE board approved a $1000 a year pay increase in pay for teachers and $500 a year raise for support workers. She is actively involved in a number of causes: ending child hood hunger; reuniting foster children with their families or have them adopted into a loving home and to end human sex trafficking. She shared the good news that the number of children being adopted from foster homes increased from 735 in 2016 to 912 last year. Edwards said human sex trafficking is a major problem in the state and she is proud that the state received a 1.2 million dollar federal grant to help combat the problem and rescue girls under the age of 18. Among the special guests at the meeting were State Representative Bernard LeBas and Clerk of Court Randy Deshotel. Ville Platte Mayor Jennifer Vidrine presented the First Lady with a special basket of Ville Platte seasonings and products.

Pine Prairie Police arrest burglary suspect

On Thursday March 14, 2019 Pine Prairie Police received a report of a break-in and theft from Second Chance Flea Market on Rail Road Street according to Pine Prairie Police Chief L.C. Deshotel. Through investigation, Stacy Paul Fontenot age 36 of 985 9th Street, Pine Prairie became a suspect in this matter. Upon further investigation, one of the stolen items, a hand held jigsaw, was recovered and Fontenot was arrested on the burglary and theft. Other items are still missing and the investigation is ongoing. During the investigation it was also learned that Fontenot had an outstanding warrant for Eunice City Marshall's Office. Fontenot was booked into the Evangeline Parish Jail on Simple Burglary and Theft charges with a $40,000 bond set by Judge Gary Ortego.

Evangeline Parish School Board recognizes James Stephens Student Wednesday

The Evangeline Parish School Board, Wednesday, recognized John Bordelon, a student from James Stephens Elementary School. Bordelon has recently won a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering) scholarship from Amazon. It was announced he is the first student to win such a scholarship in Louisiana. Also, board members were notified that Walmart in Ville Platte will be employing 12 students from Ville Platte High. The part time jobs will pay these students $11 an hour. The school board will have a job fair for students , age 17 and older, wishing to apply. In other business the school board approved the new school calendar for the next school term. The calendar calls for the first of school for employees in August 9, 2019 and the first day of classes for students is August 13. The final day of school is May 28, 2020. School employees are given the choice of two calendars. Employees overwhelmingly recommended the school board approve the plan that was adopted. School Maintenance Supervisor Jason Hazelton announced the two cleanest school for the past three months: Basile High for the largest school and W.W. Stewart Elementary for the small school winner. In other action, the school board: --approved renewing the contract for Supt. of Schools Darwan Lazard for another two years; --advertised for bids to replace the Bayou Chicot School sewer plant.

Evangeline Parish Police Jury Monday approves action to help recover Sewer Bill debt

The Evangeline Parish Police Jury met in a series of committee meetings along with their regular scheduled meeting Monday in the courthouse. The jury voted to partner with the Louisiana Office of Debt Recovery to help recover over $100,000 in past due sewer bills. There is no cost to the parish. The state agency will attach the debts to residents with state tax return, driver's license, permits and hunting and fishing licenses to recover the debts. Also, the police jury approve the demolishing and cleanup of eight properties in the Ville Platte area. These are sites that were adjudicated to the parish when the property owner failed to pay property taxes. When no one came forward to pay the taxes, the court adjudicated the properties to the parish. The jury has some 48 properties in that category. The jury has called a public hearing on April 1 to get public comment to ban the use of "noodles" and plastic jugs in fishing at Crooked Creek Park. Secretary Treasurer Donald Bergeron reported that the anglers are not picking up their noodles and plastic jugs used in fishing and are turning to litter. In other action the police jury: --approved entering into a cooperative endeavor agreement with Prairie Heritage to assist with the Grand Hoorah/Dewey Balfa Cajun Camp May 3-10 at Chicot State Park; --voted to purchase a used vehicle for the Litter Abatement program in District 7 in the Ville Platte-Pine Prairie and Chicot areas; --received news from Secretary Treasurer Donald Bergeron that sales tax collections for February sales amounted to $264,065, an increase of $42,768 over the same period a year ago.

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