Local News Archives for 2019-05

Ville Platte City Council after two hour hearing votes to table Utility Rate Increase

Ville Platte City Council May 28, 2019 A packed overflow crowd of citizens and business people jammed the Ville Platte City Council meeting room all the way into the outer hallway to voice their concerns and displeasure with a proposed ordinance to raise utility rates on gas, water and sewer by a considerable amount. In the end after more than two hours, the City Council approved tabling a revised recommendation that would have phased in the much higher rates over a two year period. Instead, council members agreed to ask its specialist to go back to the drawing board and extend the increases over a three year period. Also, the council plans to get feed back from members of the community and groups over the revised proposal. Mayor Jennifer Vidrine at times had to slam her gavel several times to get order in the meeting room and threatened at least concerned citizen to have the police escort him out of the meeting room. John Mayeaux, the special bonding consultant, showed a slide presentation at the beginning of the public hearing and said "We heard from you. We will plan to phase in the increases over a two year period". He blamed the problem on not have having any utility rate increases over a 20 year period. He showed references where cities like New Orleans had a phased in rate increase while cities like Youngsville and Pine Ville had an immediate increase. Youngsville increased their rates by 50 percent. His report to the council Tuesday recommended the average residential customer will see a 31 percent increase over 2 years while the average commercial customer will see their utility bills jump by 48 percent. City Attorney Eric Lafleur said it is "painful" for both customers and for the city council to go with a rate hike. The consultant in his research found there were 22 rate classifications for city customers. In other words some customers were treated better than others. That has been corrected. Most residents complained that the city has many poverty level families on fixed incomes that will not be able to pay the increase costs for their utility bills with the city. Renee Brown, representing the Evangeline Chamber of Commerce said the business community had problems with the proposal. She asked that chamber members be able to sit in and help formulate a new rate structure for all customers. She said "We just want to work together as a team." Jay Gielow, of Café Evangeline said he was concerned with a lack of transparency by the city council. "The final numbers should be released to the public and the news media before coming to a meeting so everyone can look over them". Andy Poche' of Healthworks Rehab recommended the city council appoint a committee of residents representing business, industry and residents to work together and come up with a solution. In other action, the city council adopted a new ordinance turning utility customers with delinquent bills of more than two months over to a collection agency. The agency will be able to assess a 25 percent collection fee on these past due customers.

Ville Platte City Council introduces ordinance to raise utlility Rates

The Ville Platte City Council Tuesday approved introducing an ordinance to raise all of its utility rates by an average of 35% for customers of city water, gas and sewer. The rate increase will be for residential, commercial and industrial customers. A public hearing will be held Tuesday May 28 at 4;45pm at City Hall followed by a special meeting to vote on the ordinance. Mayor Jennifer Vidrine said the city has not had a rate increase for the past 20 years. The city is being forced to raise its rates by its bond holders. The city's Bond and Finance Manager reported that the city must be able to sustain itself and show a profit. Mayor Jennifer Vidrine said this has been a hard decision for the city to make. "We have to do it but we will be able to have more city services for city residents with the additional funding, "said the mayor. Also the city introduced an ordinance to take action on past due accounts. The ordinance calls for customer accounts who are past due in paying their utility bills for two months or more will be turned over to a collection agency. The city has over $300,000 in delinquent bills. The public hearing is set for Tuesday May 28 at 4;30pm with a special meeting following to adopt the ordinance. In other action the city council: -received demonstrations from representatives of the Louisiana Municipal and Technical Services of the La Municipal Association. The reps showed the city council how city officials can keep track on all of the new 17 city trucks to be more efficient and accountable to local residents. The group also announced they can help the city try to control over grown properties. -a group calling themselves "Neighborhood Resident" from the South side asked the city council's help in problems with street lighting and drainage problems. Mayor Jennifer Vidrine reported that there will be funding for additional lighting and additional street signs and stop signs in the new city budget; -the city council approved rolling up the millage tax rates for the 2019 tax year to avoid losing some $16,000. Property owners will see a slight 40 cent to 60 cent per property increase.

Tornado causes widespread damage to Ville Platte

Tornado strikes Ville Platte and Evangeline Parish May 19, 2019 Early Sunday, a thunderstorm came through Ville Platte and Evangeline Parish bringing a tornado or tornado force winds causing major damage to trees, power lines and poles, homes and businesses. The storm caused the most damage in the immediate Ville Platte area causing large trees and power poles to snap or fall over. Billboards, sheds, gasoline pump canopys were torn apart. A part of Main street near Evangeline Bank was closed for most of the day Sunday. Most homes and businesses were without electricity. At the height of the power failure, Cleco recorded some 6000 customers, half of all customers who were without electricity in the state were located in Evangeline Parish. That power failure had dropped to 2500 by 6:00pm. Cleco was due to continue working until 10:00pm. Ville Platte Mayor Mayor Jennifer Vidrine, after consultation with emergency officials declared a state of emergency and a curfew until 7:00am Monday. She urged residents to stay off the streets because of the danger of live power lines down in many of the city streets. Extra police and law enforcement officials will be on patrol during the curfew hours. There were reports of major damage in the Lanse Meg area where a home was blown off its blocks on to a highway. Also damage in the Tate Cove area and Point Blue area. KVPI had no power at the studios on LaSalle and at the transmitter so KVPI FM 92.5 remained on emergency generator power throughout the day until power was restored late Sunday afternoon. KVPI AM was off the air all day after some electronic equipment was damaged by a lightning strike. KVPI AM is back on the air. It was reported by Mayor Jennifer that there will be no school in Ville Platte Monday. However city hall will be open for those needing any assistance. You are invited to listen to KVPI La Tasse de Café where we will have Meteorologist Marty Mayeaux with the National Weather Service office in Shreveport. Mayoeaux, former resident of Ville Platte, will share with our listeners radar information about the weather system that struck our area Sunday morning. KVPI listeners are invited to call us Monday to report if your office or business will be closed. We will glad to report the closures as a public service.

Ville Platte is under a state of emergency and a curfew following tornado touchdown

The City of Ville Platte is under a state of emergency and under a curfew following widespread damage following an early morning tornado touch down. Ville Platte Mayor Jennifer Vidrine told KVPI News that t there are power lines, power poles and wide spread power outages all over the city. Homes and businesses have been damaged. No one apparently was injured. Authorites are urging residents to stay off the streets whole emergency crews assess the damage and attempt to restore power.

Smoked Meat Festival Big Success

Smoked Meat Festival May 18, 2019 The 2019 Louisiana Smoked Meat Festival took place this weekend after an absence of one year and the public packed the Ville Platte Civic Center Grand Pavilion Friday night and all day Saturday. The festival debuted in 1993 by the Evangeline Parish Chapter of the Viet Nam Veterans of America and is now under the direction of Le Viande Boucanne organization. The Opening Ceremony took place at noon Saturday to recognize and honor all veterans. Emcee was Clerk of Court Randy Deshotel. The 2019 Francis Reed Distinguished Smoker award went to Mickey Johnson of Cameron. The Classic Hits 92.5 KVPI road crew was there broadcasting live during the opening ceremony for listeners who could not attend in person. V.V.A. Chapter President J.D. Soileau shared a history of the festival with those in attendance. Festival goers, near and far, enjoyed music by One Trick Pony, Clay Cormier, DJ Todd Ortego, Ashton Dupre and Side Show. One of the highlights is the world championship smoked meat cookoff where professional and amateur groups cook up delicious smoked meat dishes. Special outside judges had a hard time deciding on the winners. Here are the winners in this year's World Championship Smoked Meat Cookoff: Grand Champion Winner in the Professional Category: Teet's Team #2 with head chef Luke Deville for their winning dish "Duck Bombs". Grand Champion Winner in the Amateur Category: Evangeline Bank Team 2 with Head Chef Beth Jones for their dish" Not Ya Mama's Mac n Cheese". Here are all the winners: Best Dressed Team: First Place- Shumberger/Cameron; Second Place- Evangeline Bank; Third Place-Pass a Lick/Howie's Kajun Seasoning; Best Decorated Booth: First Place- Evangeline Bank; Second Place- Jamie Fontenot; Third Place- Charles Guillory; Honorable Mention-Casa Helping People; Amateur Division: Sausage, Andouille, Pounce Category: First Place- Shlumberger/Cameron; Second Place- Charles Guillory; Third Place- Team Sauce; Tasso Category- First Place- Schlumberger/Cameron; Second Place- Cajun Grillerz; Third Place- Evangeline Bank Team 1; Smoked Seafood Category: First Place- Evangeline Bank Team 2; Second Place- Martinique Cookers; Third Place- Crest Industries; Smoked Poultry Category: First Place- Crest Industries; Second Place- Cajun Grillerz; Third Place- Martinique Cookers; Smoked Game Category: First Place: Martinique Cookers; Second Place- Schlumberger/Cameron; Third Place- Mercy Regional Medical Center; Barbecue/Smoker Category: First Place- Team Sauce; Second Place-Crest Industries; Third Place-Martinique Cookers;; In the Professional Division: Sausage, Andouille, Pounce Category: First Place- Teets Team 2-;Second Place- Pass-a-Lick; Third Place-Teets Team 1; Tasso Category: First Place: Big D's Smoke House; Second Place- Pass a Lick Kajun Seasoning; Third Place- Teets Team 1; Smoked Seafood Category: First Place: Teets Team 1 Smoked Poultry Category: First Place: Teets Team 2; Second Place- Pass a Lick Kajun Seasoning; Third Place- Big Mamou Cajun Beef Jerky; Smoked Game Category: First Place: Teet's Team 2; Barbecue/Smoker Category: First Place- Teet's Team 1; Second Place-Bid D's Smokehouse; Third Place: Pass a Lick Kajun Seasoning.

Registered congressional lobbyist was guest speaker at Rotary Meeting

Elizabeth “Libby” Coffin was the guest speaker at today’s (Tuesday) meeting of the Ville Platte Rotary Club at the Family Life Center. Libby is a former resident of Ville Platte and a graduate of Sacred Heart High School. She was introduced by her mother, Rotarian Barbara Buroker. She explained club members her role as a registered lobbyist for United Technologies. United Technologies is responsible for military equipment for the U.S. Defense Department, elevators and the home of Carrier Air Conditioning systems. Libby graduated from Loyola University with a political science degree and later received her law degree. She worked for some time with the Louisiana Dept. of Revenues as a Tax attorney. She received an advance degree from Georgetown University in 2011 and went to work in the U.S. Tax Court. Also, she worked with Congressman Jim McCrery as an aide to the Congressman. As a lobbyist, she works for United Technologies as Vice President in Global Tax Policy. She deals with issues and bills that may impact her company through lobbying members of Congress and their staffs. In other business, it was announced that all three students attending Camp Rylla in Westwego will receive a Rotary scholarship from the local club because of their outstanding school performance records. Also club members were reminded the annual installation of new officers will be held June 11 at Café Evangeline.

Sheriff's Office arrest Two Suspects Arrested for Bomb Threat

Sheriff Eddie Soileau, of the Evangeline Parish Sheriff=s Office has released the following: On April 4, 2019 Evangeline Parish Sheriff=s Office Dispatchers received multiple calls from unknown callers stating that there was a bomb located in the courthouse. The threat came on a day that criminal court was being held, which caused the entire courthouse to be evacuated immediately. Upon resuming normal courthouse routine, Detective Tommy Gallow with the Evangeline Parish Sheriff=s Office immediately began investigating the incident. He was able to receive assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigations to trace the call. He received an anonymous tip which led to the ultimate arrest of Christopher James Strotter Johnson and Justin Derek Clark. Christopher Johnson was arrested, charged, and bonded out on Criminal Mischief. His bond was set at $50,000.00 by 13th Judicial Judge West. Justin Clark was already incarcerated in another facility and is being charged with Terrorizing. His bond was set at $50,000.00 by 13th Judicial Judge Ortego. Evangeline Parish Sheriff=s Office would like to thank the Evangeline Parish District Attorney=s Office, Ville Platte Fire Department, Ville Platte Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations for their assistance. We would like to also thank the public for their assistance with anonymous tips.

Orphan Trains discussed at Tuesday's Rotary Club Meeting

The Rotary Club of Ville Platte Tuesday heard from Club President Peter Strawitz share his recent meeting attending a meeting of descendants of the Orphan Train. He said his grandfather arrived from New York on the Orphan Train in Marksville in 1905 to be adopted by the Coco family. Many years later, the grandfather visited the foundling hospital and found his real name was Strawitz. He later changed his name to his birth name. The Orphan Trains brought orphans from New York to new homes down south and out west. It began in 1854 and ended in 1929. Overall, some 250,000 children from 14 months old to 14 years old were sent on these trains. Strawitz said there are only two Orphan Train museums in the country: in Opelousas and a second one in Kansas. It was reported that a number of families in the Ville Platte area have relatives who were relocated here by way of the Orphan Trains. Strawitz was the guest speaker of Rotarian Ronnie Landreneau. Also speaking was Theresa Jetters of Slidell, a foster parent who will be heading up a conference on Foster Children planned to take place soon at the Hotel Cazan in Mamou. Rotarians Wayne Vidrine and Nicole Wenger reported on the selection of local high school students who will be attending the summer youth camp at Camp Rylla near Westwego. The students are: Gabrielle Fontenot from Sacred Heart and McKenzie McLinton from Ville Platte High who each won a Rotary Club scholarship and Kalaya Guillory from Ville Platte High who will also attend the summer youth camp June 6-9 paid for by the Rotary Club.


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