Highlights from the Parish President’s Report of the St. Martin Parish Council Committee Meetings of November 20, 2018

As you will recall, on July 31, 2018, I met with a number of officials regarding the major issues presented by the condition of the Henderson Levee Road. Present at that meeting were Senator Fred Mills, Representative Mike Huval, Mayor Sherbin Collette, Bill Olivier and Chris Knotts of DOTD, representatives from the Atchafalaya Basin Levee District, several business owners in the area, and Darryl Pontiff with the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA). A follow-up meeting was held on November 13, 2018. Council member Chris Tauzin attended this meeting. We received a rough draft of a SMEDA economic evaluation which will be redrafted to embrace other factors which we felt were not considered in the study. Moreover, DOTD has apparently recognized that it is responsible for the repair of the road. However, the obstacle is nothing foreign-MONEY. The conclusion reached was that a convocation with the Governor was necessary. The purpose is to demonstrate the emergency nature of the repairs and the ramifications if this matter is not addressed without further delay. I committed myself to preparing a dissertation of facts which should drive the immediate repair of the road. It is our hope and expectation to have a presentation prepared for the Governor by the end of next month. Senator Mills and Representative Huval will arrange for the necessary meetings with Governor Edwards.

I am now in a position where I can pursue with leverage a Director of Public Works. Our Home Rule Charter mandates that such a director be appointed by the Parish President, and serves at the President’s pleasure. Unfortunately, up to this point since I assumed the Presidency, I have not been in a position where quality candidates could be pursued. I am now and have acted accordingly. Advertisements have been circulated in trade journals, social media, internet, and the traditional print media. I have set a deadline of December 7, 2018, for receipt of all applications. Of course, if any of you know of a potential candidate, please advise me accordingly. ALL APPLICATIONS WILL REMAIN CONFIDENTIAL and I am personally receiving and processing them.

Following past practices, I recommend that during 2019 your committee meetings be held throughout the Parish. I suggest meetings be held as follows:
February 19, 2019: Cade Recreational Center
March 20, 2019: Henderson Recreational Center
April 16, 2019: Cecilia Library
May 21, 2019: Belle River Recreational Complex or Stephesville Elementary
June 18, 2019: Catahoula Multi-Purpose Complex
July 17, 2019: Breaux Bridge Library or School Board
August 20, 2019: Coteau Holmes Meeting Center
September 17, 2019: Butte LaRose Fire Station

For your edification, I am studying the feasibility of making myself available for “town hall” meetings throughout the Parish. As I arrange such meetings, I will invite each council member(s) of the respective district where I will be meeting. I am already planning such a meeting in February for Lower St. Martin Parish.

Potentially serious roofing issues have developed at the St. Martin Parish Courthouse. I will be meeting with a roofing contractor and our maintenance personnel to discuss the extent of the problem and a potential cost associated with the remediation of those problems. What is disconcerting about this development is that the renovated courthouse was occupied in August 2012, and apparently the defects in the roofing system causing the current problems were present at that time. Of course, I am exploring warranty avenues.

Along these same lines, there are significant wear and tear of the benches in the courtrooms which must be addressed. Funding to remedy the issues with the benches is not significant (approximately $15,000). Nonetheless, those benches should have “lasted” longer in my view. I am addressing many issues regarding the reasons why they have deteriorated so rapidly.

As I observed quite some time ago, renovations at our central office are long overdue. The funding sources for an expansion of our current facility is being deleted by virtue of potential significant costs associated with courthouse problems. Until I can get a better grasp on what it may cost to remedy those problems, renovation plans for our central office must be placed on hold.

On December 11, 2018, I will participate in a healthcare summit on rural healthcare concerns. Senator Fred Mills in his capacity as the Senate Chair on Health and Welfare and Secretary Rebekah Gee of the La. Department of Health will also be present. I am looking forward to discussing my experiences with Hospital Service District No. 2 (St. Martin Hospital) and my plans for our health units, all relative to making top notch healthcare available in our Parish. Hopefully, I will receive ideas and information to aid our health units. All of our health unit nurses have been authorized to attend.

Because of budgetary constraints, and in an effort to stymie “six figure” deficits in the animal shelter budget, I have implemented several changes in the operation of the shelter. Effective immediately, our shelter will no longer offer free spraying or neutering services to the general public. Additionally, the shelter will be open for 5 1/2 days as opposed to the current schedule of being open for 6 1/2 days. This change means that we eliminate one full-time position. Fortunately, because of an opening in the water system, we will be able to transfer the affected employee. Both positions occupy the identical pay range.

I REALLY DO NOT NEED TO SAY ANYTHING FURTHER. All of our Parish teams have acquitted themselves very well with St. Martinville’s march through the playoffs demonstrating why they are the 2018 Parish Champions in football.