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Mosquito abatement and ambulance contracts are discussed

Several farmers from Evangeline Parish, who lost heads of livestock because of an increased amount of mosquitos in the parish following Hurricane Laura, went before the executive committee of the Evangeline Parish Police Jury to discuss what can be done in the future to prevent a similar loss from happening.
The popular opinion expressed during the meeting on Monday, September 13, was the use of aerial spraying.
Executive Committee Chairman and Police Jury President Ryan Williams explained he contacted State Representative Rhonda Butler and State Senator Heather Cloud about getting aerial spraying available in the parish following Hurricane Laura. A few days after the parish was approved, however, the full police jury decided to wait and see if the roadside spraying would work before beginning with the aerial spraying.
While aerial spraying is an option, the problem is how to pay for it. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) only reimburses the parish 95% to cover aerial spraying over populated areas. The federal agency will not cover spraying done over pastures.
Also, as Parish Engineer Ronald Landreneau explained, “FEMA will only rebate you if there is a declaration of a natural disaster that has been approved by the president.”
Kent Guillory, one of the affected farmers, told the committee, “We need something in place where y’all can react in a day instead of two weeks trying to get FEMA involved.”
“There are a lot of livestock that got lost, he continued. “We spent a lot of money hiring airplanes, but it’s not enough. “We’re worried about the livestock more than the people. The people can go in the house, but the livestock can’t go in the house. Spraying roadsides will not save one animal. We’re talking about a much bigger problem than roadsides.”
Leday replied it would cost the parish about $230 thousand if the parish would conduct an aerial spraying without FEMA.
Juror and committee member Bryan Vidrine suggested the jury “could propose a tax and put it on the ballot if the jury would want to do that.”
Several parishes around Evangeline, including Iberia, Vermilion, and Acadia, have similar mosquito abatement taxes.
The problem, however, is finding out how much the aerial spraying would cost. Leday said, “We would have to get with our neighboring parishes to see how their abatement tax is structured and we would get with our tax assessor.”
Guillory told the committee he estimates the costs would not be near the suggested $230 thousand because of all the woodland in the parish. “We only have half the parish that’s either cropland or woodland,” he said, “so that’s taking acres away that we will not actually have to spray. We don’t need to waste money on acres that are not going to be involved.”
Another problem of aerial spraying is some crawfish farmers are worried about the spraying harming their fields. To that end, Evangeline Parish County Agent Todd Fontenot told the committee the crawfish farmers could opt out of the spraying program.
“With the technology now in these airplanes,” Fontenot said, “you can send in your coordinates for your field, and they can skip these locations when they are spraying. It’s a way to protect those crawfish ponds.”
No action was taken regarding the issue.
Later, Paul Fuselier with Acadian Ambulance addressed the police jury’s ambulance committee regarding the renewal of its contract with the parish that is set to expire in December.
“We are coming before the jury to ask you to extend that contract for another five years with a five year option at the discretion of the jury,” said Fuselier.
Fuselier went on to say nothing would change in the current contract and Acadian Ambulance is “constantly looking for new things that we can do to make what we provide to the residents of Evangeline Parish even better.”
He went on to say, “There are some things we are doing that I think will be very beneficial to the residents of Evangeline Parish.”
These new services include alternative destinations which offer ambulance rides to urgent cares and psychiatric hospitals for those who qualify as well as a treat-in-place program which offers telehealth services.
Fuselier acknowledged the City of Ville Platte chose to let another ambulance company operate within the city. But, because of Acadian Ambulance’s exclusive contract with the parish, that company can only operate inside Ville Platte.
Even though Ville Platte decided to go that route, Fuselier confirmed Acadian Ambulance will not exclude Ville Platte. “We’re here to stay,” he said. “We are still going to honor that commitment to the city limits of Ville Platte. It’s not morally the right thing to do to exclude the city of Ville Platte.”
The contract renewal will go before the full police jury at next month’s meeting to give the jury’s attorney time to review the contract.
Once the police jury’s regular meeting began, the jury:
• reappointed Alfred A. Oliver to the Evangeline Parish Water District No. 1 Board of Directors.
• approved the cleanup of blighted property located at 408 E. Beech St. in Ville Platte.
• approved the emergency move of Precincts 1100 and 1101 from Dance Technique to the Courthouse and the Evangeline Parish School Board Technology Building.
• approved the signing of 2019-2020 LGAP application in the amount of $23,671 for electrical upgrades at Crooked Creek.
• set a public hearing for October 5 at 4:45 p.m. to adopt an ordinance to sell Industrial Park property.
• voted to adopt Orange St. in Chataignier as a parish road and to place a three-way stop sign on Berdine St.

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