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Local News Archives for 2019-04

Dr. Gwen Fontenot Addresses Roary Club on Cabot Challenge and Evangeline Foundation

The Ville Platte Rotary Club heard from Dr. Gwen Fontenot, retired Dean from the University of Louisiana School of Business. She was introduced by Mark Suellentrop, Cabot Plant manager to discuss the Evangeline Parish Foundation. Dr. Fontenot, is a native of Evangeline Parish and since her retirement, has moved back home. She along with Suellentrop, Anita Fontenot and Leonard Fontenot are among members that serve on the newly formed Evangeline Parish Foundation. Some two years ago, Investar Bank made a $50,000 grant toward the foundation. The goal of the foundation is to raise a million dollars and the earnings from that money will be given out to help groups and individuals in grant funding . Cabot has awarded $1000 in seed money toward a special education fund and is challenging businesses, groups and individuals to match or make a donation toward this education fund to help our local parish schools. The goal is to reach $250,000. The five percent in earnings will be given in grant scholarships. Fontenot stated" We want to improve the quality of life in Evangeline Parish. Our graduates are leaving this parish for good paying jobs elsewhere. We need them to stay here." She said "The people of Evangeline Parish are among the most generous and passionate people and are generous with their resources for projects they believe in." She said "We give to our favorite charities and we sponsor events like youth baseball." "Philanthropy is not just for the wealthy. You are making an investment into something your business believes in," she said. Rotary Club President Peter Strawitz reported that the Ville Platte club has tied with the much larger Gonzales Rotary club in having the biggest increase in new members in the rotary district with seven new members this year. Strawitz announced that the local club will be cooking pork sandwiches this weekend at the Grand Hoorah Folk Roots festival at Chicot State Park.

Rotary Club hears from Camille Fontenot of Hotel Cazan

The Ville Platte Rotary Club today (Tuesday) heard from guest speaker Camille Fontenot, Outreach Director for the Cazan Hotel in Mamou. She gave a brief history of the hotel. The building was originally constructed at the turn of the 20th Century , first as a bank and later as a hotel. Former Evangeline Parish Clerk of Court and Sheriff Frank "Cazan" Fontenot purchased the building and turned it into a hotel. The current owner, Valerie Cahill, turned the building into a 17 room boutique hotel in 2015. She said the hotel is considered haunted as several people who spent the night there have seen and heard strange and unusual things. The hotel has held a number of private parties and gatherings including wedding and bachelor parties. Fontenot said the facility was even rented out for use as a funeral. There have been conferences held there to help solve missing persons including information on the disappearance of Mamou resident Alice Reeves who went missing in 1967. The hotel has held Fiddle festivals and even a Ponce festival. Among the events planned for this summer are a Crawfish and Rice Festival and a Jeep festival. Club President Peter Strawitz announced that the Rotary club will have a cooking booth at the Grand Hoorah Folk Roots festival on May 4 at Chicot State Park.

Ville Platte Rotary hears from Schlumberger Officials

Rotary Club Hears from Schlumberger Officials April 16, 2019 The Ville Platte Rotary Club today (Tuesday) heard from officials from Schlumberger at their noon luncheon. Club Members John Mayeaux was in charge of the program and his special guests were local plant manager Billy Fontenot and Abby Landreneau, Human Resources Manager. Fontenot, a native of Ville Platte, has been with the company for 22 years . The local Cameron facility primarily manufactures ball valves for the oil and gas industry from 2 inch to 42 inches. The largest department, manufacturing, employs 258 people, Local real estate agent Charles Buller played a big part in having the facility relocate to Ville Platte in 1983. Through the years and its owners, the plant has under gone several name changes from Cooper to Cooper Oil Tools, Cameron and now Schlumberger. The local Ville Platte plant has 225,000 square feet of manufacturing area while another 100,000 square feet of storage warehouse area. The plant works closely with two firms that are located on site to save on transportation costs: Ville Platte Iron Works and QAP Plating. The firm has 420 employees working two shifts Monday through Friday. Landreneau said the facility has an on site gym/wellness center for its employees. She said 60 percent of the entire work force live in Evangeline Parish. Some 100 plus employees have 25 or more years with the company. The two discussed the recent reduction in work force. Fontenot blamed it on the downturn in the market. "Due to the unpredictability of the markets, it resulted in a reduction. We have to stay competitive in the market.". In other business, Mark Suellentrop of Cabot Corporation reported on the recent "Choices program" presentation at local schools last week. The class presented by club members reached 349 students over a two day period at three local schools. In the six years, the club has been sponsoring this program, over 1000 students have gone through the program to urge students to make good choices and

Evangeline Chamber Holds Annual Membership Meeting

The Evangeline Parish Chamber of Commerce held their Business after Hours meet-and-greet yesterday (Tuesday) evening at Café Evangeline on Main Street in Ville Platte. Evangeline Back & Trust Co. was the sponsor, and they provided appetizers and cocktails. Bank president, Randy Chapman, said, with regards to the recent accomplishments of the Chamber, "we see a lot of good things happening, [we're] seeing a lot of new ideas." Chamber Director, Renee Brown, said that after only two cleanup days, Mamou is about to do their first cleanup next month. Cabot is also looking to take on the Tate Cove Road from Cabot to the Y-Not Stop. Cleco is also joining the cleanup. She said, "After only two cleanup days, it's starting to make a shift in our entire parish, and we are so fired up about that." Cleanup days are once per month. Interested volunteers can call the Chamber to sign up. She reminded members that the Ville Platte Farmer's Market is Thursday from 3:00-6:00 PM, and a Christian group will be performing in observation of Easter Week. Brown reminded everyone that nominations for board members are due in May, with voting in June. She announced the annual Awards & Membership Banquet is scheduled for Tuesday, August 27th. Chamber president, Luke Deville, said when they switched from the Ville Platte Chamber to the Evangeline Parish Chamber, they gained 45 new members, 20% coming from outside of Ville Platte; they include Mamou, Pine Prairie and Turkey Creek. He said he feels the chamber "is going in the right direction." Peter Strawitz, Vice President/President-Elect, congratulated Luke Deville on a job well done. He said for the next year he'd like to see continuity, to see the governmental affairs committee go to all villages and towns, to their council meetings, to ask them how the Chamber can be an advocate for them. He'd like to continue the relationship they've forged in the political realm so that good projects can come their way. He added, "You never know what company or industry is in town. [...] Pride of ownership is everything." He asked for anyone who has residential or commercial property to take care of them; cut the grass and pick up the trash. He asked the Chamber to consider coming together with little town meetings to set goals for where they would like to be in a year, three years, and five years.

Ville Platte Man charged with First Degree Murder Charges

Ville Platte Police Chief Neal Lartigue reports one suspect arrested for first degree murder and numerous other charges. On Sunday April 7, 2019 at approximately 5:10 p.m. officers with the Ville Platte Police Department responded to a report of shots fired in the 700 block of East Wilson Street. Upon arrival , shots were fired in the direction of the Police Officers with one bullet striking a Police unit. Officers called for assistance and began blocking off the area to protect citizens. Units from the Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office, Louisiana State Police, Pine Prairie Police Department and Chataignier Police Department responded to assist. Officers learned that a white male had been shot and had left the scene to seek medical treatment. The suspect continued shooting towards Officers on the scene and Officers from multiple agencies returned fire. After a standoff the suspect surrendered and was taken into custody shortly after 7:00 p.m. Detectives and Officers located the body of a 21 year old female identified as Rene Williams in the back yard of the residence with multiple gunshot wounds. Miss Williams pronounced dead at the scene. The white male was treated at a hospital Lafayette and according to a recent update, is in stable condition after surgery. He has been identified as James Macias 30, of Judy Street in Ville Platte. Arrested was Davonte Marquis Ardoin, 25 of 706 East Wilson Street. Ardoin was booked into the Ville Platte City Jail on one count of first degree murder, one count of attempted murder, one count of aggravated assault on a Police Officer, one count of criminal damage to property, one count of false imprisonment with a firearm and one count of illegal use of a weapon or dangerous instrument. Ardoin's bond was set at $ 1,390,000.00. Chief Neal Lartigue thanks the agencies for their fast response and assistance in this incident.

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