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Local News Archives for 2020-02

Camille Soileau signs with Louisiana College Wildcats

A special program took place at Sacred Heart High School today (Thursday) to recognize Sacred Heart softball standout Camille Soileau. She has been awarded a combination academic and athletic scholarship to attend Louisiana College and play softball for the Louisiana College Wildcats. Camille is the daughter of Joey and Kim Soileau. She has played center field for the Sacred Heart Lady Trojans for the past four years and has been a starter for the past three years. She was selected to the First Team all district team and all parish team for the past two years. She has also played travel ball for Cajun Express out of Lafayette for four years. Congratulations Camille.

Ville Platte Council approved pay raises for City Police

Ville Platte Council Approves Pay Raises for Police February 26, 2020 In a special called meeting tonight (Wednesday), the Ville Platte City Council unanimously approved raising the starting pay for police officers to $15 an hour from the current $11.68 an hour. Also the city council agreed to raise the pay for police sergeants from $12.10 an hour to $16.50 an hour. The total cost of the pay raises amounts to $133,136. The funds were originally going to be used by the city to buy new computer software. The action was taken to attract new police officers and to maintain the current force. The city has had a difficult time keeping trained police officers on the force patrolling streets . It was reported that officers are getting the training to become post certified and then leaving for higher paying law enforcement jobs elsewhere. Mayor Jennifer Vidrine said the city had to make cuts to the police budget last year due to overtime pay abuses. After saving money by dropping dispatcher services and using the parish 9-1-1 communications system, the city has set aside funds for additional patrol officers. The mayor explained the city has five eligible patrol officers, three are in training at the police academy and four open positions. The city council has authorized the police chief to hire immediately any post certified officer that applies without having to wait for approval from the city council. Mayor Jennifer Vidrine said the city is planning to apply for a community policing federal grant to fund the police department. She said "Our main priority is your safety. "She said she plans to call on additional law enforcement help from the state police and even the national guard to help fight the growing crime problem in the city. "This is not the Ville Platte I grew up in. We want to find out where the guns used in the shootings are coming from. I am hearing 60-70 shots almost every night.", the mayor commented. All of the council members pledged their support to help the police department in any way possible Councilman Bryant Riggs agreed that gun crimes have greatly increased in the city. He said the guns are related to organized gangs that are recruiting juveniles to commit many of the burglaries and thefts in the city. Mayor Jennifer Vidrine announced that a public hearing will be called soon at the Ville Platte Civic Center to hear comments and concerns by business owners and the general public over the growing crime problem in the city. A number of business owners and concerned citizens asked questions and commented over who is ultimately responsible for law enforcement in the city. The city council provides the funding for the police department. However the police chief, who is an elected official, has the legal authority to oversee how he spends his operating budget.

Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office searching for three suspects in a shooting incident

Sheriff Eddie Soileau, of the Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office has released the following: Early Saturday evening, February 22, 2020 Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office Deputies were dispatched to the 2200 Block of W Main Street Ville Platte (Teet's Food Store) regarding a Shooting. Deputies arrived and spoke with an Officer from Ville Platte Police Department, who stated a disturbance occurred that ended in a shooting and subjects fleeing the scene. Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office Investigation Division assumed the case, during their preliminary investigation, it was learned from the initial responding Deputy that a male subject later identified as Hezekiah Washowski Obrien Thomas had been shot and was transported to Mercy Regional Medical Center. After further investigations, the assigned investigator gathered that Thomas had suffered a gunshot wound to the abdomen, and he was being Air-Med to Lafayette General Hospital for surgery. Suspects are said to have fled in a dark grey colored 4 door sedan with tinted windows which at the time headed North on US Highway 167N. The vehicle is believed to be a Nissan Altima or Maxima which was caught on video surveillance. Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office are searching for the following subjects as persons of interest at this time Lionell Herbert Ardoin, Roderic Darone Thomas, and Jennifer Ann Fontenot all are wanted for questioning. No charges have been filed at this time. Investigation is still ongoing. Anyone with information on their whereabouts is asked to contact the Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office Investigations Division by phone at 337-363-2161 or via our agency's website evangelineparishsheriff.org. All callers will remain anonymous.

Ville Platte Mayor considering calling in state resources to help soaring crime rate

Ville Platte Mayor Jennifer Vidrine told members of the Ville Platte Rotary Club today and later during a KVPI interview that she is considering taking serious measures over the soaring crime in the city. She told Rotary Club members today " I am at the point of calling in the state police or the National Guard with their machine guns to help patrol our streets if necessary to restore law and order." She reported that a local pharmacy was broken into overnight. She told KVPI listeners during the interview that she is tired of hearing gunshots being fired every night. She promoted the new Ville Platte Police Tip line app available for residents to turn in anonymous tips to the city police. Some 25 tips have been received by the city police during the first week of operation. Also, the city is planning to install eight additional street crime cameras in high crime areas of the city. The city had authorized the hiring of ten additional patrol officers. The problem the city has been having for many years is that many police leave after training to go to other departments making additional money. Most of the crimes, according to the mayor, are being committed by juveniles as young as 12 years old. "These juveniles are burglarizing people's homes and stealing their vehicles.: She is saying the parents will be held responsible for the actions of these juvenile offenders. She told KVPI in an interview that will air later this week "Last week, a parent discovered her son had four guns hidden in his bedroom. The parent did not know the son had these guns." Last week, a local pizza delivery driver was kidnapped and his car was stolen as part of a car theft ring operating out of Texas. Fortunately the driver escaped serious injury. She announced that she plans to contact GOSEP, the governor's office of emergency operations to get help for city residents. During the KVPI interview, Mayor Jennifer said she is considering a state of emergency to bring in additional law enforcement resources to Ville Platte. Last week, state police units came in to help patrol local streets.

Illegal firearms removed from home of Ville Platte juvenile

Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office Makes Efforts to Remove Illegal Firearms off the Streets Sheriff Eddie Soileau, of the Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office has released the following: On the afternoon of Thursday, February 13, 2020, Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office Investigations Division received an anonymous tip in reference to a male juvenile subject illegally possessing multiple firearms within his residence at 1802 Kembo Street, Ville Platte. On Friday, February 14, 2020 Detective Tyla Godeaux with the Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office responded to the anonymous tip by drafting and executing a Search Warrant on the above-mentioned residence. During the search, Detectives were able to locate and confiscate multiple handheld firearms, approximately $1,700.00 in cash, and a small amount of Marijuana. A total 5 firearms were taken into evidence. Upon completion of the Search Warrant, Detectives immediately went to Mamou High School to apprehend and detain the juvenile. The juvenile was transported back to the Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office for questioning. Immediately following the questioning, the juvenile was charged with 4 counts of Illegal Possession of a Firearm by a Juvenile (2nd Offense), 1 count of Illegal Possession of a Stolen Firearm, and 1 count of Possession of a Schedule I Controlled Dangerous Substance (Marijuana). The juvenile was held without bond pending a special hearing to be held by 13th Judicial Judge Chuck West. Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office would like to thank the anonymous caller for their assistance. Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office is always seeking information on criminal activity and urges the Public to contact the Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office Investigation Division via phone at 337-363-2161 or through the agency's website at www.evangelineparishsheriff.org. Any person reporting information will always remain anonymous.

Armed Robbery Suspect arrested by Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Department

Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office Captures One of its Most Wanted Fugitives Sheriff Eddie Soileau, of the Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office has released the following: On the evening of Friday February 14, 2020, Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office received an anonymous tip in reference to the description of a vehicle and the possible whereabouts of Dalonzo Davon Alfred. Investigations Division immediately responded to the tip by patrolling the immediate outskirt areas of Ville Platte. Detective Tyla Godeaux and Detective Tommy Gallow discovered a male subject driving a white 2 door Chevrolet Monte Carlo on Enola street fitting the description of the vehicle given from the anonymous tip. A traffic stop was conducted due to the license plate on the vehicle being switched. Alfred was wanted by the Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office for several Outstanding Warrants. During the Traffic Stop a positive identification was made of Dalonzo Alfred. Investigators immediately and peacefully detained him and placed him under arrest without further incident. He was transported to the Evangeline Parish Jail where he was booked on the Outstanding Warrant of Principal to Armed Robbery and Principal to Theft with a bond of $82,500.00 signed by 13th Judicial Judge Gary Ortego. Alfred was charged with Switched Plates, No Insurance, No Registration, and Illegal Possession of a Stolen Firearm from the traffic stop that was conducted as well. No Bond was set. He is also wanted by Louisiana State Probation and Parole Ville Platte District as a Probation Violator. Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office would like to thank the pubic for their anonymous tips in the capture of Dalonzo Alfred. Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office is always seeking information on criminal activity and urges the Public to continue contacting our Investigation's Division via phone at 337-363-2161 or through our agency's website at www.evangelineparishsheriff.org. Any person reporting information will always remain anonymous.

Hospice Care was main topic at Rotary Club Meeting Tuesday

Ville Platte Rotary Club Meeting February 18, 2020 The Ville Platte Rotary Club today (Tuesday) heard from Guest Speaker Mitch Pellorin with Louisiana Hospice and Palliative Care of Opelousas. Pellorin, a life-long resident of Ville Platte, explained that hospice care is available to patients with illnesses who can no longer benefit from curative treatment and usually have a life expectancy of six months or less as determined by a physician. Hospice focuses on patient and family centered care that addresses the physical, spiritual, emotional and practical needs of the patient. Services can be provided in the home, nursing home or assisted living facility and is usually covered by Medicare. He was introduced by Rotary Club Member Peter Strawitz. Shown in the photo are from left: Nicole Wenger, club president, Mitch Pellorin and club member Peter Strawitz. It was announced there will be no rotary club meeting next Tuesday due to the Mardi Gras holiday.

Suspects arrested in Kidnap and Armed Robbery

Chief Neal Lartigue Reports two arrested in incident. Officers with the Ville Platte Police Department responded to a report of a missing person in the area of Edward Knotoe Thomas Jr. Street. According to the report a delivery driver could not be located after traveling to Edward Knotoe Thomas Jr. Street to make a delivery. As the Officers began investigating it was learned that while making a delivery, two black males approached the driver in the yard of the residence. One of the male suspects had a handgun and pointed it at the victim. The victim was ordered to get into the back seat of his own vehicle and was then blind folded. During this time a cell phone was tracked and they located the driver in the Bayou Chicot area. The 2 suspects left the victim on the side of the road and fled the scene. Continuous communication with Evangeline 911 dispatch and Texas authorities led to a pursuit where the vehicle was abandoned and the suspects fled on foot. Orange County Sheriff’s Office searched for the suspects and also used K9 tracking. Apprehended was Jarvis Jacoby Gallow, 28, of 1209 Peach Street, Ville Platte. Gallow was booked into the Orange County Sheriff’s Office to await a court hearing on charges he faces there, in relation to this incident. Upon completion of processing in Orange County, Gallow will be extradited to the Ville Platte Police Department on charges of armed robbery, aggravated kidnapping and car-jacking. Gallow will remain incarcerated with no bond. Also arrested was Dylan Williams, 28, of 501 Court Street, Ville Platte. Williams was booked into the Orange County Sheriff’s Office to await a court hearing on charges he faces there, in relation to this incident. Upon completion of processing in Orange County, Williams will be extradited to the Ville Platte Police Department on charges of armed robbery, aggravated kidnapping and car-jacking. Williams will remain incarcerated with no bond. Chief Lartigue remind citizens of Ville Platte to report suspicious or illegal activity using the new Tip Ville Platte app. Your text tip will remain anonymous. For Police assistance or to speak with dispatch, call 363-1313.

Ville Platte City Council Discuss Police Issues and Crime in the City

For the second month in a row, the main item of business and discussion at Tuesday's Ville Platte City Council meeting centered on the police department. Due to budget restraints and a high turnover of police officers leaving to higher paying jobs, Police Chief Neal Lartigue announced again that he is forced to have only one officer on patrol per shift. The sheriff's department along with the state police and the city marshal have offered to help with backup. Most members of the city council along with Mayor Jennifer Vidrine expressed the need to hire additional police officers and raise their pay a #1 priority. The goal is to raise the police starting pay is to $15 an hour. The department will have an additional $80-100,000 a year with the move to have the parish 9-1-1 take over the dispatching duties. The council approved hiring two additional police officers: Matthew Willis and Drake Fontenot. Mayor Jennifer Vidrine announced two new crime fighting measures: the launch of a new anonymous tip smart phone app and new street cameras. She said the cameras will be upgraded and used in high crime areas of the city. The free application can be downloaded to I-phones and Android phones. Callers can send text messages to the police department for crime tips to help deter crime. Go to the App store and look for the "Tip Ville Platte" app. Mayor Jennifer said "We are all concerned about safety in our city. We want the shootings to stop. Parents, your child shooting a gun is not a game. Parents will be held accountable for their child's actions." In other news, the city council : --approved closing Southwest West railroad street from Main to Magnolia on May 16 for a street dance; --asked the public and city councilmen to notify city hall to report pot holes on city streets; --heard from Fire Chief Chris Harrison that 18 fire calls took place in January included 2 structure calls, four grass fires and one vehicle fire; --was notified by Mayor Jennifer that the city spent $114,771 less in January than they did in December; --announced that the next city council meeting will be held March 17 at 5;00pm; --received a report from Police Chief Neal Lartigue that the police department responded to 276 calls, wrote 24 citations, investigated 50 misdemeanors , nine felony cases and 39 traffic accidents; --got a report from Mayor Jennifer that she met with Centurylink officials to see if they could increase internet speed in the city.

Jim Brown Guest Speaker at Rotary CLub Meeting

Former Louisiana Secretary of State and Insurance Commissioner Jim Brown was the guest speaker today (Tuesday) at the Ville Platte Rotary Club meeting at the Ville Platte Civic Center. Brown, who writes a newspaper column, has written a memoire entitled " My Louisiana Odyssey". Brown has served 28 years in public service including as state senator. He was seated next to Judge John Saunders who have been good friends while they both served in the state Senate. Brown told club members that the state is rich culturally with our music and food. He urged rotary club members to begin a diary to leave to your children and grandchildren. He shared a story in 1958 how he was in a high school gym dancing up a storm to the big hit song by Jerry Lee Lewis "Whole Lot of Shaking Going On". Ten years later, after graduating from law school, he started his law practice in Ferriday, Louisiana where his very first client was Jerry Lee Lewis. He later did legal work for Mickey Gilley and Jimmy Swaggart, two cousins. He did legal work for former Governor Jimmie Davis. He shared the story that he was called to prepare Davis's last will and testimony. He prepared the will and asked the governor who was sitting in his bed to sing a few lines of his famous song "You Are My Sunshine and he did. Davis died two weeks later. He said he spoke to former Governor Edwin Edwards a few weeks ago and asked how he was doing. Edwards told him, "I am 92 years old, I have a 49 year old wife and a six year old son and I feel great.". Brown has a famous daughter, Campbell Brown who worked on "The Today Show" on NBC and later worked as a reporter on CNN. She is now in charge of News for Facebook. Brown was the special guest of Nick LeBas. The Rotary Club welcomed its newest member, Erin Hoffpauir, with the Evangeline Chamber of Commerce.

Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Department investigating burglary on Miller's Lake Road

Sheriff Eddie Soileau, of the Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office has released the following: Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office Investigations Division is actively investigating a residential burglary that occurred on the 1000 Block of Miller's Lake Road. On February 4, 2020, Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office Deputies were dispatched to the 1000 Block of Miller's Lake Road for a Burglary. Deputies learned upon arrival that 2 unidentified male subjects enter into the residence through a window in the rear of the home. The suspects were wearing dark colored hoodies and their faces appeared to have been covered. The suspects were driving a green colored Chevrolet Lumina with temporary tags. Assigned Detective immediately began receiving anonymous tips in reference to the burglary. Contact was made with Shannon Fontenot the owner of the vehicle seen in the crime scene photos. Fontenot's juvenile son is listed as a person of interest. Fontenot and her juvenile son are wanted for further questioning. Also wanted for questioning at this time is Trincal Herbert-Collins along with her juvenile son. Evidence was collected from the crime scene and will be submitted to the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office (Metro Forensics Investigations Division). Anyone with information on the Miller's Lake Road burglary is asked to contact the Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office Investigations Division @ 337-363-2161 or submit a tip via our website evangelineparishsheriff.org. All callers will remain anonymous.

Evangeline School Board goes behind closed doors with Attorney

Evangeline Parish School Board Goes Behind Closed Doors to discuss Possible Legal Action The Evangeline Parish School Board, Wednesday, upon advice from its attorney, Bob Hammonds, went behind closed doors in executive session to discuss a possible law suit. Hammonds told the school board that he received a letter from an attorney from Lake Charles representing a school board employee. The attorney from the Johnson Law Firm is threatening legal action against the school board should the board make any changes to its salary schedule regarding supervisor pay. The board along with Hammonds stayed behind closed doors for more than an hour. When the doors opened again, Board President Wayne Dardeau announced that no immediate action would be taken by the school board on the salary schedule issue. The board did approve a proposal by Superintendent of Schools to appoint a committee of employees to review the salary schedule for the past five years. The committee will work with board attorney Bob Hammonds and make recommendations to the full board for the future. After the meeting Hammonds told KVPI News that the salary schedule for teachers and the accompanying index schedule for supervisors and principals was approved by the school board last June. The attorney said there may been a lack of communication and some confusion over the new schedule. Rufus Serailles reported that he is having trouble getting public access to past salary schedules going back to 2015. He said state law requires public records requests must be honored within five days.. " I have been waiting for two weeks for some of these records", he told the board. Yvonne Johnson, former local teacher and now a representative of the Louisiana Association of Educators said her group would like to partner and work with the committee that will review the salary schedule. In other business, the school board: --approved an offer to provide free dental screening for students in grades 1, 2 and sixth grades in the parish. Brook Voorhies with the sponsoring group said her group will offer up to $100 in free dental care per student; --approved to proceed with a pilot program to install large over head fans in all six un air -conditioned gyms in the parish;

Evangeline Parish Police Jury

Evangeline Parish Police Jury Meeting February 4, 2020 The Evangeline Parish Police Jury Monday voted to raise their pay by $400 per month. The vote was 7-2 with jurors Sidney Fontenot and Eric Soileau voting no. The pay raise brings the total monthly salary to $1600 a month. It has been 20 years since the last time the jury received a pay raise. The vote followed a public hearing on the issue prior to the regular meeting. In other business, the police jury discussed a cooperative endeavor agreement the parish has entered into with Every Paw Animal Rescue for the construction of an animal shelter. Secretary Treasurer Donald Bergeron reported EPAW will construct a privately owned animal shelter to house animals picked up outside municipalities. The shelter will be built on a 1.07 acre tract of land east of Ville Platte owned by the police jury. Also, the police jury discussed a state L-Gap grant to expand full service sewer and water hookups at the parish owned Crooked Creek park. Bergeron felt the parish can maximize the funding since the jury will be using its own manpower and equipment to do most of the work. In other action, the police jury: --has authorized the secretary treasurer to prepare a resolution requesting state assistance to help in combatting crime. The jury will ask the state police to come into the parish to help in patrols and investigations; --approved giving a 3 percent pay raise to road workers in District Two; --re-elected Ryan Williams to a third term as President of the jury and elected Ryan Ardoin as new Vice President; --received news from its building inspector people, that 90 building permits were approved in January for construction estimates of $346,673; --heard that sales tax collections in January totaled $284,927, an increase of $1925 over the same period a year ago; --called a public hearing on March 2 to abandon a portion of Continental Pond Road near Cazan Lake road and abandon a portion of Ferdie Lane between Mamou and Chataignier.

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