Evangeline Parish Police Jury discusses issues with upcoming state shelter

By: MICHAEL BORDELON

News Editor

Liz Hill, director of 911/Office of Emergency Preparedness, addressed the Evangeline Parish Police Jury regarding the state shelter at the old Wal-Mart building during its committee and regular meetings Monday, March 10.

Hill said she recently went to the governor’s office in Baton Rouge and learned the shelter will no longer house 2,000 evacuess in case of an emergency, but 1,500. Also, she stated evacuees sent to the shelter will be housed for a minimum of seven to 10 days.

One of the main concerns discussed, according to Hill, was the lack of security. She said local law enforcement agencies do not have the manpower to provide security at the shelter if it was ever used. She also expressed concern that evacuees, who are pregnant, may be sent here, and our local hospital does not have an OBGYN.

Another major concern discussed was the fact the state has Evangeline Parish listed as a parish of last resort as far as housing evacuees. “So why would they want to put a shelter here,” she asked.

In addition, there are no stockpiles of supplies to support large numbers of people and no feasability study has been performed to determine how this influx of people would affect the local economy. “The state says it will provide the supplies needed, but that has yet to be seen,” Hill said.

An additional concern, raised by Juror Lamar Johnson, was the cost of the shelter to the state, and if it is used, the costs the parish will face. Hill said the state will be paying approximately $18,000 per month to lease the building. However, the lease, which will be for three years, has not been signed yet, as the state is attempting to correct some of these issues first.

Hill said she will continue to keep the jury informed whenever news about the shelter arises.

The jury also heard from Joey David with Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries. David said drawing Cocodrie Lake down in 2006 helped eliminate some problem plants but it would need to be done again. David said the lake will be drawn down, as low as four feet deep, for three consecutive years. He said there were concerns about doing it for three years, but everyone believes it is best for the ecosystem at the lake.”We wanted to let everyone know what to expect,” he said.

He also stated approximately $100,000 of herbacide will be added to the Chicot Lake April 21, and the lake will be lowered by nearly two feet. This is to keep water from draining out of the lake during the rain, and therefore keep the herbacide in the lake instead of have it spilling out. This herbacide is expected to eliminate various species of plants that have become overgrown.

During its regular meeting, the jury also discussed amending the parish’s existing liquor ordinance to reflect the hours of sale that are actually being followed by businesses. Jury President Bob Manuel said the current ordinance states liquor cannot be sold between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m. on any day, and from 1 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays. However, he said businesses are selling liquor at all hours except between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. during the weekend. Manuel suggested discussing this issue with the sheriff and district attorney to change the parish’s ordinance to more closely resemble what is being done at stores and bars.

In other business, the jury:

•Hired a temporary assistant to help at the parish Section Eight housing office. Rita Jack, who does Section Eight work for the city, was hired at a rate of $20 per hour for four hours per week. Jack will be teaching the new Section Eight Housing Director Anna Frank the “ins and outs” of Section Eight.

•Discussed an issue with Lemoine and Associates Insurance. The jury recently accepted a proposal from Lemoine and Associates, underwriting for Humana, for health coverage of its employees. However, Manuel said a formal quote still has not been made and the jury may wish to remain with Blue Cross if a quote is not received soon.

•Heard from LSU AgCenter County Agent/Parish Chairman Keith Fontenot, Extension Agent Tina Guillory and Assistant County Agent Todd Fontenot, who offered the annual report of the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H program. Fontenot listed several of the programs conducted by 4-H this year, including competitions and the parish livestock show, and Guillory informed the jury that 4-H turns 100 years old in Evangeline Parish this year. Manuel said the LSU AgCenter staff does a terrific job and hopes they continue what they are doing.

•Heard from Gilbert “Winky” Ardoin who informed the jury of the upcoming Dewey Balfa Cajun and Creole Heritage Week, which will be held at Chicot State Park April 18-25. The jury also approved a liquor permit for the event.

•Approved liquor license for the Crawfish Barn on the Mayeauxville Road, which is owned by Frank Messina, Jacob Duos and Travis Soileau. The license is subject to review by the sheriff’s office.

•Appointed Curtis Johnson, Charles Johnson Sr. and Joe Sapavado to the Cocodrie Game and Fish Commission.

•Agreed to purchase speed bumps to be installed on Sand Trap Road. Juror Bryan Vidrine said there have been several complaints by residents of speeding on the road.

•Adopted Jean Duos Lane cooperative agreement with the city. The road falls mostly within the city, with approximately one block residing in the parish’s jurisdiction. The city recently proposed it would clean the area around the additional block of roadway so the parish would not have to send work crews out there.

•Discussed getting a task force together to pick up trash. Sheriff Eddie Soileau said he should be able to get one crew together and he would help the jury in any way he could.

•Heard from Mamou Police Chief Greg Dupuis who requested the use of Crooked Creek Recreational Park for the annual DARE Summer Camp. Dupuis said approximately 50 children will attend and the jury agreed to allow him to use the pavilion at no cost and offer a discounted cost on cabins and camping lots. The summer camp will be held August 7-9.

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