Police Jury approves watershed agreement
Monday the Evangeline Parish Police Jury discussed increasing broadband to the parish, voted to add new signage at the courthouse, and entered into a cooperative endeavor agreement with the Acadiana Planning Commission.
Monique Boulet with the Acadiana Planning Commission addressed the jury to talk about entering a cooperative endeavor with Evangeline Parish and 15 other parishes for the Louisiana Watershed Initiative. The goal of Governor John Bel Edward’s initiative is to manage future flood risks by strengthening weaknesses in floodplain management. Boulet said she would like a representative from each parish.
The region Acadiana sits in is the Teche, Mermenteau, and Vermilion Rivers. They have opened up for applicants to apply to facilitate the state process. The Acadiana Planning Commission had to get 50% of included parishes touched by the watershed, which includes from Pointe Coupee, Rapides, and all the way down to Calcasieu and Cameron. The cooperative endeavor says the Acadiana Planning Commission and the parishes are going to work with the state to open up staff and follow processes and procedures. They want to develop a strategic plan and put together a steering committee comprised of a representative of each parish government. They are looking for a variety of skill sets from teachers to engineers or farmers. “This endeavor is to move forward in the application process,” said Boulet. She added the state is modeling the watershed but would take up to two years to complete the computer model.
The jury discussed who would be a part of the project. Secretary-Treasurer Donald Bergeron tentatively said he could do it but they should appoint someone else later and he would step down. The jury approved the appointment of Bergeron on the steering committee in a cooperative endeavor with the Acadiana Planning Commission.
In other business, Bergeron said Jeff Bruner asked him to expand rural broadband needs throughout the parish. Bergeron said Governor Edwards created the Louisiana Broadband for Everyone Commission to facilitate private sector providers, public entities, and other broadband stake holders to improve both the adoption and availability of broadband service for Louisiana residents by providing universal access to broadband service with minimum committed speed of 25 megabites per second download and three megabites per second upload, and up to 100 megabites per second download and 100 megabites per second upload for all of Louisiana by 2029. “We just recently brought broadband into the court house as well as the policy jury office, but it would be of great benefit to local farmers as well as business people, and medical facilities,” said Bergeron. “Students do a lot of work at home. Broadband for everyone is a great initiative, and we hope it is something that will come to the parish in a timely manner, sooner rather than later.”
Bergeron added there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes with testing broadband in the areas. “The federal government needs to step up and clean up some of the mess they created. What they did was auctioned off census tracts to companies to provide broadband for rural areas, but a company who got the census tract--if they deliver broadband to one customer, it’s considered that area has broadband service. If they received grant money or federal money, no one else can come behind them to apply for low government loans for expansion.”
Several police jurors reported the public having issues voting at the courthouse because, when they get to the door and see the sign saying no phones, backpacks or purses, they turn around and leave. Sometimes people with mobility issues get tired and leave rather than walk back to the courthouse from their vehicles. The jury voted to approve new signs alerting the public of prohibited items to be placed around the courthouse walkways.
Public Works Director Chester Granger said they had no write-ups on their DOTD evaluation. He also said the excavator is in district five on a project, and the dozer will be recalibrated. He also said he spoke with the mayor of Basile about the project of the ditch around the library. “Everything’s a go there,” said Granger. There is a tree that needs cutting on Lanse Meg Road. Granger said he is trying to get someone to give him a price to cut and remove the tree but he has not been able to get anyone to show up.
The jury also discussed applying for a $50,000 grant to help the water system at the Ward One Industrial Park by repairing and/or replacing water well controls and chlorine systems. They batted around the idea of expanding the waterline. Bryan Vidrine said, “If the control panels are working, then we can start expanding the waterline. I’d rather do that than change out something that doesn’t need to be changed.” The jury approved a resolution to apply for the grant for the upgrade of equipment, but with the potential to amend it for other purposes later.
In other business, the jury accepted the low bid, out of six bidders, from Trackwork Inc. for the amount of $165,000 for the Ward One Industrial Park Rail Spur refurbishment, contingent upon the approval by Delta Regional Authority.
The jury also approved the reappointment of Al Ardoin and Samuel Todd Welch to the Evangeline Parish Water District No. 1 Board of Directors.
The jury set the December French meeting date for Tuesday, December 10 at 2:00 p.m. They also set a special hearing meeting on Wednesday, December 18 at 5:00 p.m. for the adoption of the 2019 budget and amendments and 2020 budget appropriations. There will also be a special meeting on December 18 at 5:30 p.m. to award bids for the pest control, fuel, asphalt, limestone, culverts, etc. for the fiscal year 2020.