Highlights from the Parish President’s Report of the St. Martin Parish Council Committee Meetings of November 16, 2021


As I advised in my last report, Section 4.15 of the Parish’s Policy Manual, which the Council approved on March 2, 2021, now mandates that Medicare eligible retirees enroll in Part A and Part B of Medicare. Ordinarily, this coverage will thus become the primary insurance for the retiree while the Parish’s retiree plan will be secondary or supplemental. However, working with Brown and Brown, we have secured coverage for retirees via what is known as a Medicare Advantage Plan. It is a reflection of Part C of Medicare. Essentially this is a combination of both primary coverage and secondary coverage through one plan. The cost to the parish for this retiree coverage will be substantially less than what we are currently paying for the secondary coverage plan.

The current monthly cost for retiree coverage is $18,706.68. With the Medicare Advantage (Part C), the monthly cost will be reduced to $5,211.00. This computes to a monthly saving of $13,495.68 or an annual savings of $161,948.16. Equally as noteworthy is that spousal coverage which the retiree pays will be reduced from $357.67 monthly to $193.00 per month.

Moreover, as will be explained at the special meeting, the coverage afforded by the Medicare Advantage Plan is beyond that provided by the current program. Parenthetically, I note that the Sheriff’s Office recently adopted a similar plan for its retirees. Also, retirees with whom our Personnel Officer has thus far spoken have embraced the Medicare Advantage proposal.

Therefore, to ensure that the Medicare Advantage Plan can be fully implemented, it is necessary that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, the plan provider, be advised by the end of November of the acceptance/selection of this plan by the Parish. Hence, it was necessary to have this special meeting. Although the adoption of the plan could likely have occurred administratively, I contend that under a strict reading of the policy manual PARISH GOVERNMENT should be afforded an opportunity to be versed in the plan and have an opportunity to approve or otherwise comment upon its features.

I again applaud the efforts of our Personnel Officer, Kim Duplechain, for her diligent work is securing quotes for this new program for retirees.


The Citizens Reapportionment Committee (“CRC”) held its inaugural meeting on September 22, 2021, which was informative only. The next meeting of the CRC is scheduled to again meet on Wednesday, November 17, 2021, at 5:30 P.M. in the Council chambers. At that time the CRC will select its officers and proceed to address the required reapportionment in earnest. Based upon the 2020 Census data, there is substantial work which must be accomplished especially as regards the Districts 2, 3, 4, and 6 whose reported population reflect variances from the “ideal” district population (5,752) of 9%, 19%, 15%, and 7% respectively.


On January 1, 2022, Waste Connections will be replacing Pelican Waste and Debris as the Parish contractor for waste disposal services. In preparation for the transition, on November 1, 2021, Waste Connections mailed flyers to all of the Parish residents which it had identified. The mail-out was an introductory notice and imparted information about the company and nature of the services it will be providing. On that afternoon, we published on our social media outlets a video which addressed questions about the new provider and the parameters of the services which will be offered. Participating in that presentation were Jamie Gilbert and Timothy Devonshire, representatives of Waste Connections. The video was filmed at the Waste Connections facility.

On November 9, 2021, a follow-up video was prepared and published on our social media outlets. This production was designed to remind the residents about the program and to specifically address further questions/comments which the Waste Connections mail-out and November 1st video had prompted. KLFY will air a full news report during the last week of November. Also, Waste Connections will be providing a video presentation giving instructions about the placement of containers for collection.

The first billing from Waste Connections will be mailed during the first week of December. This billing will be for services for January, February, and March of 2022. It is anticipated that all routes and collection schedules will be in place by the end of the second week of December, if not earlier.

Waste Connections has advised that its first trucks have been delivered. We are attempting the have the company present one of the collections trucks to the Council at its December regular meeting for your and the general public’s viewing. As has been previously explained, the Waste Connections vehicles will be completely automated except for those trucks to be utilized for bulky waste collections.
The locations of the recycling centers have been selected:
• Stephensville Park in lower St. Martin
• Grand Bois Fire Substation at 1895 Nursery Highway, Parks
• Cecilia Civic Center at 2464 Cecilia High School Road, Cecilia
• South Barn at 1101 Capritto 40 Arpent Road, St. Martinville

The collection bins for the recyclables have been specifically manufactured to accommodate only the receipt of recyclable materials. Each outlet on the bins is specifically marked accordingly. Also, signage has been designed and ordered by the Parish for installation at each recycling site.

Please spread the message that residents who has NOT received any communication from Waste Connections should contact the company immediately to ensure that they are placed on a service list. Otherwise, they may not have service on January 1, 2022. The contact number for Waste Connections is 337-873-3982. Also remind residents about the app which can be downloaded and which will provide valuable up to date information about routes, collection schedules, and related matters. A resident can also pay billings via the app.

A great deal of effort by the office staff has been expended regarding our waste collection program. I am particularly grateful and appreciative of the efforts of Lesley Thibodeaux and Brooke Gillespie for their assistance in working with Waste Connections during the transition and in responding to VOLUMES of messages and telephone calls about service issues and the new program. At one point, they were answering over 50 calls per day IN ADDITION to discharging their regular duties.
Finally, for your easy reference, I attach the following “FAQ” with responses which I have prepared in connection with our dissemination of critical information.

Why did the Parish select Waste Connections?
Waste Connections is the third largest waste disposal company in the Country, has a well-staffed call-center to address issues, is experienced in billing and collections, and has its own transfer station and landfill in the area.
Those facilities and its administrative office are located less than one mile off I-10 at the Duson-Mire Exit. Moreover, the company has serviced many of our neighboring Parishes without major complaints.

What specific services will be offered?
Curbside household waste collection once per week
Bulky waste (yard waste and white goods) twice per month
Two containers
Annual Hazardous Waste Day

Will there be curbside recycling?
No. A functionable, curbside recycling program at a reasonable cost is not feasible. However, there will be 4 recycling centers located throughout the Parish. This type of system has proven effective in neighboring Parishes.

When will we receive our Waste Connection containers?
Waste Connections will collect from the containers of the current provider. In due course, placards will be placed on all of the Pelican containers over the Pelican name and reflecting the name “Waste Connections”.

What will happen with the Pelican Recycling Container?
Waste Connections will service that container. You are free to dispose of the household waste in it. All your Pelican containers will be serviced for household waste.

What if one’s Pelican container is damaged?
In such an instance, one need only contact Waste Connections and a new 94-gallon container will be delivered for collection starting on January 1, 2022. If a Pelican container is currently damaged, a replacement should be ordered from Pelican.

Will the service days remain the same?
Waste Connections is diligently attempting to keep the same service days. However, the focus is only manageable routes so that there are no missed services. Therefore, there will likely be some changes in the collection days. The final routes and service days will be posted by mid-December.

What type of trucks will be used to collect?
Except for bulky waste collection, Waste Connections will utilize only automated equipment. As such, the handle and wheels of the container should face the residence. Also, each container should be at least three feet apart and three feet from any sort of obstruction such as a mailbox. Finally, all carts should be no more than 5 feet from the street.

Automated collection is much faster, cleaner, and safer than manual collection with hoppers. Indeed, your container will be replaced after collection in its exact spot where it was originally placed.

Will there still be bulk pick-up under the new program?
Yes, twice per month pursuant to a regular schedule. There will be a zone pick-up schedule and the precise schedules will be published by mid-December.

Is it true that there will be an app which residents can download?
Yes. The app can be downloaded under the name “WasteConnect.” From the app, a customer can check his or her service day, receive alerts if a fortuitous event causes an unexpected disruption in service, and to pay for services and/or sign-up for auto pay.

What will be the cost of the services?
The cost will be $23.10 per household in upper St. Martin and $24.10 per month for lower St. Martin. All billing will be quarterly.

When will the first billing be mailed?
The first bill will be mailed on December 1, 2021, and will cover the period of January, February, and March of 2022. The bill must be paid on or before January 15, 2022. If not, services for the customer will be suspended until payment is received. There will be no sticker program, nor will customers be allowed to accumulate bills for several quarters before being contacted.

How does one sign-up for services?
Residents may enroll at Waste Connections’ website:
Simply follow the online bill pay prompts to enroll. Options will include:
Make payments, set-up recurring payments, go paperless, and numerous other options.

What has Waste Connections done to ensure proper billing?
Several steps have been adopted. Waste Connections personnel have secured billing records from the current provider as well as from all of the water companies in the Parish. Moreover, route developers have and are continuing to literally drive throughout the entire Parish making notes about questionable addresses/residences.
Also, beginning on November 1, 2021, Waste Connections will be mailing an informational card introducing itself and setting forth certain basic information regarding its services. If by December 1, 2021, a card has not been received, the customer should contact Waste Connections to ensure EVERY residence is served AND PROPERLY billed.

Who will a customer contact in the event of collection problems?
Waste Connections sponsors a well-staffed call center specifically trained to promptly address issues. Also, all of their trucks are equipped with electronic equipment that will enable the drivers of trucks to receive complaints immediately upon Waste Connections being informed of an issue.


Does the Parish’s new contract with Waste Connections include the municipalities in the Parish?
No. The municipalities provide services separately from the unincorporated areas of the Parish.

What if one or both to the Pelican containers are damaged?
If the Pelican container is CURRENTLY damaged, PELICAN should be contacted and a new service container obtained. Waste Connections and Pelican have entered into an agreement whereby Waste Connections will purchase the current Pelican containers to eliminate issues inherent in a transition whereby containers are picked-up by one provider and replacements delivered by another.

Since there is no curbside recycling, what should we do with the recyclable container?
Keep it! Waste Connections will continue to service that container for household waste. If it becomes unusable AFTER JANUARY 1, 2022, for whatever reason, a replacement will be provided upon notification to Waste Connections.

What are the benefits to Waste Connections continuing to service the Pelican Containers?
The most significant advantage is that problems with the replacement of containers will be avoided. Residents are reminded of the myriad of issues which arose in July 2019 when the Parish transitioned from Waste Management to Pelican. Thus, for the benefit of residents, disruption of services is avoided.
Pelican and Waste Connections have negotiated an agreement whereby Waste Connections will purchase the Pelican containers and service them accordingly. There are obvious benefits to both parties.

Why are there curbside services only once per week?
There is a mistaken belief that before Pelican assumed the services in 2019 there was twice weekly curbside collection of household waste. That service was available ONLY in lower St. Martin and ended in 2019. One per week household waste collection is a standard service.

Why was curbside recycling eliminated from the Program?
There are many reasons. The primary one addresses the cost. Also, the participation rate was believed to be minimal and there was substantial contamination associated with the collection.
Contrary to recent mistaken reports, collection of recyclables before 2019 under Waste Management was limited to both scope and amount. Indeed, Waste Management offered recyclable collection in one small 18-gallon container. Very few residents availed themselves of this service.
For those reasons, and many others, the Parish elected to sponsor the recycling centers as part of the program.

At this point, it may be prudent to understand the complexity of waste collection in the rural areas of the Parish. St. Martin Parish consists of 816 square miles, with the land mass consisting of 738 square miles. The land mass for some of our neighboring Parishes is:
Lafayette-269 square miles
Iberia-574 square miles
St. Mary-555 square miles
Moreover, the road system for St. Martin Parish consists of 759 roads totaling 389.91 miles. Furthermore, many households are on state highways. Therefore, the area which must be serviced is immense.

Where will the recyclable centers be located?
Grand Bois Fire Substation-1895 Nursery Highway, Parks
Cecilia Civic Center-2464 Cecilia High School Road, Cecilia
South Barn-1101 Capritto 40 Arpent Road, St. Martinville
Stephensville Park, Highway 70, Stephensville
All sites will be monitored by surveillance cameras to ensure that centers are utilized properly. Each recyclable bin has been manufactured to prevent the dumping of large items.

Why did the Parish replace Waste Management in 2019?
The term of the contract with Waste Management expired on July 1, 2019. The billing was handled through the 9 water companies in the Parish and/or by direct billing to those residents with a water well system. This method proved to be inefficient, and the Parish was losing about $250K per year which had to be financed through general fund revenue. Attempts to address the deficiency proved futile. Thus, it became evident that the most effective way to end the deficit was to implement a system of direct billing by the Provider. Waste Management did not respond to offers to extend its contract with the direct billing component added. Hence, an RFP process was initiated, and Waste Management was not selected as a result.

Were there other factors beyond those previously mentioned that led to the selection of Waste Connections?
Waste Connections was selected as the provider for the current program pursuant to a competitive process known as “RFP”. Sellers & Associates was retained to prepare specific components of the program, working with the Parish President, and all possible providers were requested to submit proposals. Respondents were Waste Management, AWS, WastePro, and Waste Connections. The responses were evaluated by two of the Parish’s Directors and two representatives of Sellers & Associates. It was unanimously concluded that the most attractive respondent was Waste Connections based upon price, size, experience, resources, location, its ownership of both a transfer station and landfill, and excellent references.
Price were certainly a major factor, but not the sole determinant. Nonetheless, the lowest price offered was from Waste Connections, followed by AWS, Waste Management (at $28.10 per month), and WastePro.
Furthermore, the Parish President and two Council members toured the Waste Connection facilities prior to the confection of the contract with the company for the upcoming program. Consequently, the selection of the current provider was the product of deliberative process.

Why is the cost greater than the current charges?
The cost is not greater. The current charges are $23.72 per month. Also, the Parish is confident that there will be enhanced services commencing on January 1, 2022.

The FY 2022 Budget allocates funds for the re-design of the Parish’s website and the digitalization of all Parish records which must be maintained permanently. This is both a significant and necessary undertaking which is far overdue. The Website revision will be through Revize, a company which specializes in government websites. My executive secretary and your Clerk (Lesley Thibodeaux and Brooke Gillespie) have met with me on several occasions to review various designs and to formulate a plan for including information relative to ALL departments and affairs in which St. Martin Parish Government is engaged. For example, the website should not only explain the expanse of our public works endeavors, but also reflect photographs of our crews AT WORK. Over the next several weeks, we will meet with each department head and isolate precisely what will be needed from that department for inclusion on the re-designed website. Of course, each council member will be asked to confer with us to ensure every district is well represented. Please keep in mind that our website will be designed to impart valuable information and not simply to promote.

The digitalization of Parish Government Records will commence with an identification of all records which must be digitized. We want to be assured that any record can be located by keyword searches as opposed to having to manually review records. This will not only protect the integrity of our records, but also make them more easily and conveniently accessible.

Under Item 1 of the agenda for the Public Works Committee meeting, Kasey Courville will give an overview of current public works activities and a plan for 2022. I have requested that he succinctly touch upon some of the major projects which we have undertaken and which is of extreme importance to the residents of our Parish.

Item 3 of the Public Works Committee meeting will be an update on the Herman Dupuis Pontoon Bridge project. The project consists of the removal and replacement of the existing pontoon and timber bridge with a new concrete and steel swing span bridge. The existing bridge will be removed and disposed of by the contractor. The new bridge structure will be placed along the same alignment as the old bridge and will have fewer pile bents in the channel. The structure will be 24.5 feet wide and 275 feet long. The work will be done using cranes placed on barges. The bridge will be supported by 24-inch diameter P.P.C. driven piles and abutments located outside the channel. The preliminary budget for the project is approximately $8 million inclusive of engineering fees.

The original project schedule was as follows:
October 2019: Engineering Services Contract signed with Huval and Associates
October 2019-May 2021: Design/Plan Preparation
May 2021: Preliminary Plans Complete
August 2019-August 2020: USACE Permitting
August 2020-May 2021: Plan Adjustment/Wetland Mitigation
May 2021: USACE Permit Issuance
May 2021-June 2021: Project letting/Advertisement
July 6, 2021: Bid Opening
July 20, 2021: Project Award (Shavers Whittle)
July 21, 2021: Pre-Construction Meeting
July 28, 2021: Final Contract Signed
August 2021 : Notice to Proceed Issued
September 2021: Construction commencement (305 working days)
December 2022: End Construction

Although, the contract was confected in July, the commencement of construction was unfortunately delayed because of the rehabilitation of the I-10 East and West ramps by DOTD at the Butte LaRose Exit (Exit 121). The East bound exit and entrance ramps have now been completed (as of November 8, 2021) and the work on the West bound ramps should, according to DOTD, be completed this month. Of course, we could not begin the bridge replacement while access to Butte LaRose was impaired because of the I-10 construction.

Therefore, construction of the bridge replacement will likely begin in early to mid-January 2022. We are still hopeful that the project will be completed on schedule, December of 2022.

The contractor has begun staging equipment at the site so that once the I-10 ramps are completed, work on the bridge can commence without any further delay.

Two questions have surfaced regarding this project. The first address whether the Butte LaRose community will be allowed to decorate the bridge for Christmas this year. The answer to that query is in the affirmative UNLESS DOTD completes the west bound ramp renovations early which is not expected. The second question is whether the old structure can be salvaged for historical purposes. It is the preference of the Parish and the contractor to disassemble the bridge and move it to another location in the area; however, it is unknown whether the structure will remain intact during its disassembly so as to permit its relocation. The engineers for the project are not optimistic that any part of the bridge can be salvaged. Nonetheless, all efforts will be made to preserve as much of the structure as possible.


The Pontoon Bridge project is being funded via a special bond project whereby the Parish levied its GOMESA proceeds, essentially without recourse. The premium due for last year’s bond obligation was less than the GOMESA funds we received. Therefore, unexpectantly, we received last week $231,820.95 from the investment firm handling the bond issue. This was, to say the least, was a pleasant surprise.

Unfortunately, the information I am receiving reflects that the GOMESA proceeds for this year will be substantially less than prior years. Offshore oil and gas leases have realized a significant reduction under the current federal executive administration.


All public employees and elected officials in Louisiana are required to receive one hour of ethics training per year. Moreover, La. R.S. 42:341, et seq, which was enacted in the 2018, similarly mandates one hour of sexual harassment training annually for public employees and elected officials. I have scheduled for all St. Martin Parish Government employees live presentations on both topics for Friday, December 10, 2021. The program will be in two separate sessions: 8:00 A.M.to11:00 A.M., and from 12:30 P.M. to 3:30 P.M. The training will be at the Cecilia Civic Center.

The presenter will again be David Stanford who has conducted the classes for the last several years. His presentations have been informative, and he always covers numerous practical scenarios. A live presentation is much more effective and educational than the online courses which we used to sponsor. The personal interaction among Mr. Stanford and the audience is particularly energetic and trenchant.

Of course, Council members are invited to attend. If you elect to do so, please contact my office so that we can make the necessary arrangements.


Item 1 of the Administrative/Finance Committee agenda is a discussion/approval of the Acadiana Crime Lab budget as well as an amendment to the FY 2021 budget. The Crime lab serves an eight-parish region in Acadiana, and I sit on both the full commission which governs the lab. Moreover, I have been selected to serve on the Commission’s executive committee. On November 10, 2021, the Executive Committee reviewed the budgets for FY 2021 and FY 2022 and found both to be for amendment and adoption. Therefore, at your December meeting, you will be asked to approve of the amendment of the FY 2021 budget as required by law, and approve of the FY 2022 budget. The budget year for the Crime Lab is the calendar year. Of course, I will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding this matter.


Questions frequently arise about the Parish’s position on the installation of speed bumps on many of our roads, especially in our rural communities. Of course, the installation of any speed control device/construction must be closely vetted. Considerations include:
• The type of road
• Length of road
• Type of device
• Number of speed bumps and the proper spacing
• Necessity of signage
• Traffic count
• Nature of vehicles which frequent the road
• Type of structures which front the road (homes, schools, etc.)
• Liability issue of the Parish
• Costs and Maintenance
• Alternative traffic control measures

Moreover, an identification of the precise objective to be achieved by the construction of any traffic control device should be defined and then a determination made as to whether the device will accomplish that objective. Suffice it to say, there is no “one size fits all” solution.

In any case, I have solicited the assistance of Ron Czajkowski, a safety coordinator with the Acadiana Regional Transportation Safety Coalition. He has studied many of the Parish roads which have been the subject of the request for speed bumps, and we are scheduled to confer further on November 15, 2021. I will keep you apprised of the product of our discourse.

In 2019, the director of the animal shelter resigned. After much deliberation, I made the decision to replace her with a veterinarian. This step was taken since it was my belief that the need to pay contract veterinarians for ordinary treatment of the animals at the shelter and special procedures would be avoided. The plan has worked as I anticipated. Unfortunately, Dr. Brooke Kaufman, our director at the shelter has advised us that she and her family will be relocating to southeast Louisiana in May. I personally appreciate the work she has done at the shelter and her leadership and expertise will be sorely missed. Of course, I will seek to replace Dr. Kaufman with another veterinarian for obvious reasons.


I again remind you and the public that Parish Government will again sponsor a presentation on the FEMA program for home elevation grant funding. This year, the Parish has retained the services of Fenstermaker to administer the program since I have not been particularly pleased about the failure of any Parish resident for the last few years to have selected for the receipt of any assistance.

Any property owner whose property appears on the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’S) Repetitive/Severe Repetitive Loss lists will be individually informed by mail of an informational meeting to be conducted at our offices. I originally anticipated that the meeting would be held in mid-November; however, the meeting cannot occur until Tuesday, November 30, 2021 at 6:00 P.M. Of course, the consulting firm will present the program and guide qualified applicants through the application process. If anyone has any questions about the program, please contact our Director of Public Works, Kasey Courville, or our project manager, Callen Huval.


Last month I advised you that the Parks Volunteer Department realized a reduction in its fire rating from a Class 6 to a Class 4. The PIAL ratings involve an arduous and complex evaluation of a fire department’s structure and scope of operations ranging from training records to fire attendance. I intend to invite representatives from the Parks Department to your December regular meeting, together with our Fires Service District personnel, so that they can be publicly recognized for this accomplishment.


The October tax collections in Sales Tax District #1 were $341,557.18. This is the largest collection for the month of October according to the data readily available to me and which dates to 2012. The current 2021 October collection compares to $282,560.11 collected in 2020, and $246,721.64 received in 2019. I am constrained to again opine that the strength of our sales tax collections, while remaining unexpectedly strong, must be evaluated against the backdrop of bleak economic forecasts which include continued acute rises in the price of consumer goods, oil and gas, and staple goods and services. All of the foregoing factors portend a potential recession. Also, we should be ever mindful of limited supply chains for materials and food products. All of the foregoing are certainly sharp indicators which warrant the continued close scrutiny of our finances.

The net collections in Sales Tax District #2 were the highest this year. The net amount collected for October was $144,426.58. This is substantially greater than the collections in October 2019 and 2020 which were, respectively, $110,627.69, and $92,915.28.

As I have done for each month this year, I summarize for reference the collections thus far this year as follows:
A. Collections for Sales Tax District #1:
January-October 2021Total Net Collections: $3,103,998.01
January-October 2020 Total Net Collections: $2,499,245.80
January-October 2019 Total Net Collections: $2,523,081.85

Average 2021 10-Month Net Collections: $310,399.80
Average 2020 10-Month Net Collections: $249,924.58
Average 2019 10-Month Net Collections: $252,308.18

B. Collections for Sales Tax District #2:
January-October 2021 Total Net Collections: $1,081,497.66
January-October 2020 Total Net Collections: $974,381.29
January-October 2019 Total Net Collections: $1,080,934.64

Average 2021 10-Month Net Collections: $108,149.77
Average 2020 10-Month Net Collections: $97,438.12
Average 2019 10-Month Net Collections: $108,093.46

The hotel/motel tax collections for October were $40,801.65 compared to $45,493.21 in 2020, and $20,201.75 in 2019. Because of fluctuations in the amount received from month to month, it is extremely difficult to conduct a reasonably meaningful monthly comparison/contrast of these collections. It seems reasonable to conclude that an evaluation of receipts over a period of time portrays a better basis for the digestion and projections for hotel/motel collections. Thus, I note that the first 10 months of collections in 2021compare very favorably with those during the same period in 2019 and 2020:
2019 Combined January-September Collections: $209,829.29
2020 Combined January-September Collections: $227,702.34
2021 Combined January-September Collections: $254,961.20

As with the sales tax collections, I strongly postulate that the impact of weather events outside our region has a significant impact on the local hotel/motel activity in our Parish. I again reference the number of workers and displaced residents who have availed themselves of our local facilities.

We have recently received a Video Poker distribution from the State Treasury. The amount collected up to and including October 31, 2021, is $1,660,122.40. This amount is GREATER than what was collected in all of 2020 ($1,524,015.01) and all of 2019 ($1,473,301.35). I have no explanation for these impressive collections given the current economic environment. Of course, as I have often commented, while video poker revenue is an important part of our budget, it has a unique “personality.”