Landrieu: Federal funding starts with local planning

Derek Albert

St. Martinville — U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu advised St. Martin officials and residents the best step to take toward receiving federal funding for parish development is planning.

Landrieu‘s political pit stop at City Hall Wednesday afternoon revolved around federal assistance for the increase of commerce for both city and parish.

Landrieu said that parish officials should map out the special needs of the area to best prepare the Washington offices to organize assistance to be sent down the lines to Cajun country.

“The delegation and elected officials need to come up with a master development plan,” Landrieu prescribed.

She also suggested vying for funds from community foundations and other public organizations in the area.

Upon introducing Landrieu to the crowd, Mayor Thomas Nelson began discussing the predominant problem counteracting city development–electricity rates.

“The price of electricity and energy is getting a lot of people anxious,” Landrieu said.

She showed surprise and at the elevated prices listed on city residents’ utility invoice that Nelson retrieved from his office. The monthly utility bills for the low-income family totaled nearly $700.

She stated she currently holds a position of seniority on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. She shared her thoughts on alternative energy sources. She mentioned ethanol as a promising possibility that may help fuel and energy costs.

“There’s a lot of opportunity here. We’re in the middle of sugarcane country,” Landrieu said. “Acadiana, the sugarcane-growing area, can be part of the of the new fuels as well as the traditional fuels.

“While Congress is spending billions of dollars on corn, but we want to use sugarcane,” she added.

Nelson related to Landrieu the possibility of receiving a solar technology research program, via a University of Louisiana at Lafayette study for the city through a grant from the Department of Natural Resources.

She also holds seats on the Senate Appropriations and Small Business Committees.

The other item on the impromptu agenda was the issue of the perspective bypass that should entice business to St. Martin Parish, in particular St. Martinville.

“Without the bypass, we are a dying town,” Nelson told Landrieu.

As far as transportation issues are concerned, Landrieu said she is waiting to see what Gov. Bobby Jindal and the newly elected Louisiana legislature to figure out a plan to find money for state roads.

“It (transportation) is a big problem everywhere,” Landrieu said trying to relieve the concerned citizens. “We have more state roads than the state can afford. The need is greater than the funding, but just because there’s tight funding doesn’t mean we won’t work on it.”

Congressional election

Up until November 2007, Landrieu had no opponents on the ballot for her Senate seat, but contention appeared from an unsuspected source.

On Aug. 27, 2007, State Treasurer John N. Kennedy announced that he was switching party affiliations to the GOP following recommendations from Landrieu’s across-the-aisle partner U.S. Sen David Vitter and former Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove.

Now, Landrieu’s only opponent, thus far, for the Nov. 4 election, Kennedy is boasting, via his senatorial race Web site, that an October poll shows voters supported himself over the senior senator 44 percent to 38 percent.

Kennedy, a Zachary native, is currently serving his third term as state treasurer after being the only state-wide elected official to run unopposed for the Sept. 6, 2007 elections.

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