Highlights from the Parish President’s Report of the St. Martin Parish Council Committee Meetings of June 19, 2018

Three of our employees lost family members last week. Mr. Issac Thomas, the father-in-law of Teddy Thomas, died on June 9, 2018, and his funeral was Saturday. Also, Gloria Delahoussaye, the mother of Harold Delahoussaye and the mother-in-law of Shelia Delahoussaye, died on June 13, 2018, and her funeral was yesterday. Teddy works in personnel, Harold is a valued employee in public works, while his wife Shelia is in our finance department.

Patsy Thibodeaux, who works in the front office, had major surgery on Monday, June 11, 2018. She will probably be out for 6 weeks or so. However, her surgery went well. We wish her a speedy recovery and eagerly await her return to work.

On Wednesday, June 13, 2018, I attended a meeting at the offices of the United States Army Corps of Engineers in New Orleans. There have been various flood control proposals prepared and circulated among Acadiana governmental entities. The supporters, and authors, of these propositions had the attention of Congressman Clay Higgins and Senator Michael Cassidy who had representatives at the meeting. I was acutely interested in any such discourse for a myriad of reasons including, but not limited to, the fact that several parish structures figure prominently in the proposed plans (control gates at Lake Martin, Henderson control structure, Ruth Canal structure, and the Keystone Locks). Furthermore, I am ever mindful of the flood control projects which we currently have in the planning stages. I made it quite clear at the meeting that St. Martin Parish has been the MOST PROGRESSIVE player in regional flood control and that we would not cede any authority on any watershed issues, especially if it imposed water or financial burdens on our Parish. The sole commitment I articulated was that we would vet any proposal with our own independent experts/engineers. Candidly, I believe that representatives of the Corps, Teche Vermilion Fresh Water District, and Vermilion Parish (all of whom were at the meeting) were appreciative and supportive of my stance.

On Friday, June 8, 2018, I attended a meeting among Dr. Rebekah Gee, Secretary of the La. Department of Health, Senator Fred Mills, Burton Dupuis, chairperson of Hospital Service District No. 2 (St. Martin Hospital), and representatives of Lafayette General and various other agencies of the State. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the prospect of receiving funding for rural healthcare services. As I previously advised you, I am diligently exploring using a portion of the defunct Hospital Service District No. 1 funds to leverage additional proceeds for the development/enhancement of health services in the old hospital district. We have the opportunity to renovate the old technology center for such endeavors and obtaining funds for possible renovations. Also, a partnership between our health unit(s) and St. Martin Hospital will potentially yield the benefit of collaborating physician(s), thus making our health units more effective, all at no costs to the Parish. Dr. Gee informed the group that she was immensely impressed with the concept which I advanced. Because of the budget impasse in Baton Rouge, she could make no firm commitment; however, all of us left very optimistic that the plans will materialize. Indeed, last Friday, I received a note from Dr. Gee which gave me even greater encouragement.

At your last meeting you adopted Ordinance Numbers 1226, 1227, and 1228. You previously adopted Ordinance Number 1214. These ordinances, collectively, expands the definition of “nuisance,” broadens the definition of littering, and grants jurisdiction to the JP system for enforcement of littering violations. Of great import is that the edicts establish an administrative process for handling blighted and condemned properties. I have signed these edicts and they are now “the law.” Upon meeting with our JP’s and constables to answer any questions they had relative to the enforcement thereof, I am encouraged by this supportive attitude and eagerness to address this matter.

I have implemented a new vehicle use policy. Only for select positions and under very limited circumstances should vehicles be allowed to be used for non-parish endeavors or should non-parish personnel allowed to be passengers. Also, last week, most of our vehicles were equipped with GPS systems. MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT, this policy and the GPS system will not produce any positive benefit until and unless they are properly MONITORED. As your President, rest assured that I do not intend to have tools which are kept in a tool box.
Also, on Thursday, I spoke with our vehicle insurer and advised that we had the new policy and the GPS system. Replicas of the policy and the features of the GPS system (which are comprehensive) were transmitted to our insured, and the representative indicated to me that this action will result is substantial insurance cost savings.

Prior to our last meeting, I advised you that our employee time/pay is manually calculated. Every pay period, the time maintained by the appropriate time clock is printed. Then, the hourly paid employees’ hours and leave taken/earned is manually calculated. Next, an employee reviews the calculations. After that, the payroll department enters those calculation into the payroll system and paychecks are generated. This process consumes several days and takes several employees. On June 11, 2018, I met with a representative of the company which installed our time clocks who assured me that our current system is indeed capable of electronically calculating time and the accumulation/use of leave. He also opined that if properly utilized, our system could easily be configured so that less than a day’s work for one person should be all of the human resources necessary to prepared payroll. I set various parameters for the reconfigurations, and set a deadline of July 15, 2018, for the implementation of the updated system.

On June 15, 2018, the purchase of the former church located adjacent to Paul Angelle Park was confected, all pursuant to Ordinance Number 1232-OR adopted at your June 5th meeting. This is a huge accomplishment and will serve the Parish and community of Cecilia for years. As an aside, on Thursday afternoon, Hospital Service District No. 2 (St. Martin Hospital), working with the Parish, acquired the 44.422 acre tract of land adjacent to the current hospital campus. This was part of the bond proposition approved by the voters in March relative to the expansion of hospital services. MORE ADVANCEMENT FOR OUR PARISH, and I am proud you have given me the opportunity to part of it with you.