Extrications concern Crowley Fire Chief Viator
CROWLEY - During the Crowley city council meeting Tuesday night, the council moved to condemn four dilapidated properties, honored a recently deceased man who served the city for decades and donated a police unit to the city of Estherwood. However, it was a recurring issue that seemed to garner most of the council’s concern.
A genuinely conCrowley Fire Chief Jody Viator approached the council, asking if his department would be able to temporarily handle people being extricated from vehicles following traffic accidents in the newly formed Fire District 11 which lies just on the outside of the Crowley city limits.
As those who have been following the story know, it is now illegal for the Crowley Fire Department to respond to any emergency services outside the Crowley city limits. An Attorney General’s ruling prohibits local agencies from responding to such situations unless they are reimbursed by another governing body. The council worked quickly (after facing a May 31 deadline) to protect Crowley High School, which lies in District 11, after reaching an agreement with the Acadia Parish School Board. Another agreement was reached with the Acadia Parish Police Jury to cover the cost of fighting fires in the area. However, no agreement has been reached regarding emergency services such as responding to vehicle accidents.
“I am concerned about people who need to be extricated from their cars following an accident,” said Chief Viator. “We have Acadian Ambulance that is able to care for injured people following an accident but they don’t normally carry the equipment necessary to extract people who are trapped inside their cars.
“In situations like this I’m more concerned about the people than getting reimbursed.”
However, as many council members seemed equally concerned about such a situation, it was stated by most that their “hands were now tied.”
A visibly frustrated City Attorney Tom Regan said that “The police jury has the responsibility of protecting the people outside the Crowley city limits...it’s hard for me too (not being allowed to respond in such a situation) but as the city’s attorney I have to make sure the city abides by the law. And that is now the law.”
“Doesn’t Acadian Ambulance carry the necessary equipment to extricate people?,” asked Alderman Elliot Dore.
“I do know that they don’t normally carry that equipment,” responded Viator.
Crowley Mayor Greg Jones stated that until an agreement is reached with the police jury there wasn’t much that the council could do. The issue was tabled until next month’s meeting.
At the outset of the meeting, a solemn sounding Mayor Jones read a Resolution of Bereavement in honor of the recently deceased Mitchell Istre. Istre, who worked as Crowley’s street commissioner for 24 years and served as a police officer for 17 years, died on May 30 of this year.
After reading the resolution, Mayor Jones sighed and said “I think each person in here has a Mitchell Istre story.”
Istre was the father of International Rice Festival Coordinator Roxie Viator and the father-in-law of Fire Chief Viator.
Chief of Police K.P. Gibson asked to respond to concerns regarding littering, animal feces on public property and vehicles (mainly by lawn services businesses) blocking public lanes of travel.
“I’d like to remind people that state law requires that fines be issued to our citizens and visitors alike for littering on city property,” said Chief Gibson. “In regards to people cleaning up after their dogs, an ordinance is being looked into that would require dog owners who walk their dogs in parks or other public areas to remove their dog’s feces.
“Also, state law prohibits vehicles of blocking lanes of travel when that vehicle has the option of being off the road,” continued Chief Gibson. “We ask that people help us by parking off the roadway in a kindly manner while they are conducting their business.”
In other business, the council moved to continue with condemnation proceedings on the following four properties:
- 917 East Sixth St. owned by Verna Hoffpauir Marx.
- 1407 West Sixth St. owned by Junius J. Martin.
- 415 Spann Ave. owned by Frank Prudhomme.
- 1214 West Eighth St. owned by Andrew Goodwill.
Of the four properties, only a representative of the Goodwill family showed up for the council meeting. He stated that he also wanted the home condemned but that he couldn’t get a permit without a signed agreement by other members of his family.
He was given 30 days to get such an agreement.
The next Crowley city council meeting is July 9. Committee meetings were moved to July 2 in observation of the Fourth of July holiday.