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JULY 28, 2015


    The Rotary Club of Ville Platte today (Tuesday) heard from Dr. Don Hines, a former state senator who is involved with a mission project in Guatemala. Dr. Hines is working with a group from Avoyelles Parish who is taking care of some 150  children in a small village in Guatemala.

    He gave a power point presentation showing that with the assistance of telemedicine, the children in this mission is able to get world class medical consultation through modern technology. For example, Dr. Hines stated that with a special stethoscope, the heart beat of a child in Guatemala can be heard at his medical office in Bunkie, Louisiana.

     He mentioned that the village in the mountains has  a year round temperature in the 60’s to 73 degrees year round.

     Dr. Hines said it is a great experience . He was the guest speaker of Rotary Member Peter Strawitz.

     In other business, the club was reminded that the Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a political rally at the Civic Center on August 27.

    Ville Platte Mayor Jennifer Vidrine announced that the business office for Centurylink will close August 7. She is trying to get the company to change their minds and keep it open so local residents can continue to pay their bills in person.

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JULY 21, 2015


   The Rotary Club of Ville Platte met today (Tuesday) at noon and heard from Rotarian  Trey Prudhomme, administrator of Heritage Manor Nursing home.

    Prudhomme showed an artist’s drawing of the new Heritage Manor Nursing home that is due to be built in 2016. The ground breaking is scheduled for August 3 at the 13 acre site on West Main adjacent to Tate’s Men and Boys. The 66,600 square foot building will have a $16 million dollar price tag. The general contractor will be Ratcliffe Construction from Alexandria.

    The new nursing home will have 124 beds and with the exception of the Alzheimer unit will all be private room and private baths. Currently, Heritage Manor employs 101 employees and Prudhomme is looking at increasing the staff to 120.

    The owners of Heritage Manor Nursing Home have three options on what to do with the old building once the move is made: donate the facility to a non- profit agency, demolish the building and sell the property or turn the building into an evacuation shelter.

     The building was first constructed in 1963 and was known as Maison De Sante. The last improvements to the building were done in 1986.

     He reported that the private pay cost for nursing home care is about $4750 a month.

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The Evangeline Parish School Board
July 15, 2015

The Evangeline Parish School Board held its bi-monthly meeting tonight in the Media Center. Superintendent, Toni Hamlin on asking the Board to approve a CNP Plan associated with re-opening the cafeteria at James Stephens Montessori. The school has had its cafeteria closed for 4 years and meals have been “satellited in” from Ville Platte Elementary. Due to the change in requirements for school breakfasts and lunches and to the number of students who now attend James Stephens, the cost to re-open the school’s cafeteria will be much less than having to buy more vehicles to transport meals and having to build an addition to Ville Platte Elementary to accommodate the extra food and supplies. Some personnel will be shifted to accommodate the re-opening. The Board was happy to hear the news and stated that the staff at James Stephens will be happy as well.

Toni Hamlin congratulated Principal Cherie Fontenot for being named Elementary Principal of the Year for the whole state during the Cecil J. Picard Gala that was held in Baton Rouge. She stated she was very proud of Cherie since she has only been a principal for 4 years. She stated that Cherie is humble in being honored and always says “It’s all teamwork.”, but Ms. Hamlin added in agreement that it does take team work, but it still takes a good leader.

The Board approved a motion to raise the cost of lunches for the 2015/16 school year from $1.45 to $1.50.

Sales Tax collections for the month of June for 2014-2015 were up $12,690.00 from this time last year.

The Board approved a motion to purchase an air conditioning unit from the low bidder, May’s Heating and Cooling for the Mamou High School Auditorium. Toni Hamlin stated that now all of our schools have a least some form of air conditioning where events are held.


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JULY 14, 2015


   The Rotary Club of Ville Platte heard from Rotarian Eric Gil report on major changes in the health care industry. Gil, an insurance agent, reported that individual health care policies can only be purchased during a sign up period between November 1 and Feb. 15. Individuals can visit their insurance agent or go to to review the various policies.

   He urges insurance clients to find out what insurance company you’re dealing with, review the policy and know what it covers for example does it cover cancer cases, organ transplants, mental health, and rehabilitation. He strongly urged people to not choose a policy solely on price alone.

    He urged people to get Medicare supplements and to review your old health care policies. He said in many cases your old health care plans offer more coverage than the new updated policies.

     In other rotary news, Club President Mitch Elmand Fontenot said the board has decided to move its “ Shots for Tots” project targeting your pre- school age children in October rather than in October.

     In community news, Superintendent of Schools Toni Hamlin announced that Cherie Fontenot , last weekend, was named Elementary Principal of the Year for the entire state. She is principal at the James Stephens Montessori School.

    Also, Ville Platte Mayor Jennifer Vidrine announced that crime cameras have been installed at various high crime areas of the city. The mayor said more cameras are planned to be installed in the future to help combat crime.

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JULY 7, 2015


   The Rotary Club of Ville Platte took place today (Tuesday ) at noon with new Club President Mitch Elmand Fontenot conducting his first meeting as new president.

   Fontenot provided a power point presentation to rotary members on his goals and plans for the new rotary year. His mission is to make the local organization a more vibrant club, develop new projects and recruit new members. His goal is to raise the membership by ten percent or at least five new members.

   The new president outlined the planned projects for the new year and they include: LSU-Eunice Scholarship fund raiser, Coreil Vo Tech fund raiser, Rotary Youth Leadership Camp sponsorship, Interact Club for high school age students, the Choices Program where rotary members encourage students in school to make correct choices and to stay in school, new Shots for Tots program, do a joint service project with the Chamber of Commerce and to support Chicot State Park.

    It was learned by Superintendent of Schools Toni Hamlin that the first day of classes in public schools will be August 13.

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The Evangeline Parish Police Jury
July 6, 2015

The Evangeline Parish Police Jury met tonight in the Police Jury room at the courthouse. The topic of jail expenses and expenses from the tax department. Secretary/Treasurer, Donald Bergeron, informed the Jury that Sheriff, Eddie Soileau, sent a “stack of bills” to the Police Jury asking that they pay them or reimburse his office from payment of those bills. He also referred to a revised statute indicating that the Jury is responsible for certain bills related to jail expenses and the tax office. However, there was much confusion about the bills and whether the Jury is responsible for them, especially since the invoices were not put through the proper channels with the Police Jury, including being approved and being put through the P.O. system. Donald pointed out that the expenses from the tax office should already be covered because the Sheriff already gets a flat “cost” fee of $165.00 from each property tax sale. The Jury’s attorney, Marcus Fontenot, stated “while it is the responsibility of the Jury to support the tax collector, there needs to be an accounting given to the Jury accounting for all of the tax sale proceeds on each sale so we can ensure his office is not “double dipping”, and then there needs to a “checks and balances” system set up to ensure that proper procedures are being followed”. Juror, Lamar Johnson, inserted that he thinks “it’s crazy that the Sheriff is asking the Jury for money, like he wants two sources of funding.” Donald Bergeron said he does not understand the “jail expenses” that they are being asked to pay for since there is already a Jail Supply List that is approved every day. Juror, Bryan Vidrine, said as much as he wants to support those they need to be held to the proper procedures just like any other entity. Finally, Legal Council, Marcus Fontenot advised the Jury that they should not pay the bills because the proper procedures were not followed. The Police Jury agreed and voted to not pay the bills and didn’t think legally they could or should.

Jury President, Ryan Ardoin, said Evangeline Parish is officially part of the Acadiana Planning Commission and he thinks very positive things are going to come from it. They will help with grant money, adjudicated houses, building permits, etc.

The Quick Stop in Redell was granted a liquor permit.


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JUNE 30, 2015


    The Ville Platte Rotary Club today (Tuesday) heard a legislative update report from State Representative Bernard LeBas. The session was primarily a money session since the state was 1.6 billion in the red. The lawmakers had to find new ways to raise revenues.

    Among the bills that were approved: a 50 cent a pack increase in cigarette taxes, removing the state tax exemption on solar energy panels, reduce the inventory tax credit by 25% and increasing the vehicle title fees.

     The legislature is looking at going into a veto session to possibly over ride veto’s by the governor . Those veto’s include : a cost of living raise to state retirees that amounted to $30 a month; collect the state 4 percent sales tax on online sales ; putting a cap on how much the state could spend on the Tops program; reducing the tax credits to movies made in the state from $264 million down to $180 million dollars.

      Le Bas was the special guest of Rotarian Dan Poret. This meeting was the last meeting conducted by outgoing President David Mayeaux. The next meeting will be conducted by incoming president Mitch Elmand Fontenot.

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JUNE 23, 2015


       The Rotary Club of Ville Platte today (Tuesday) heard from Leonard Rainey, regional representative for U.S. Senator David Vitter. Rainey handles constituent services such as Social Security, FEMA, HUD and Immigration issues.

      Rainey reported that Sen. Vitter is chairman of the Small Business Committee in the Senate. In Louisiana, some 145,000 people are unemployed and the senator is working hard to help the small business owner through improvements in infrastructure.

      Chamber Executive Director Camille Fontenot asked Rainey to get the senator’s support to four lane US 167 between Ville Platte and Opelousas.

      In other business, Rotarian Larry Lachney announced that there have been three applicants that applied for the two rotary scholarships at the Coreil Campus at Louisiana Technical College.

     Also, Rotary Club President David Mayeaux announced that five new  Rotary road signs will be erected in the next few weeks at various intersections in Ville Platte.

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The Evangeline Parish Police Jury met last night in the courthouse.  The Jury re-appointed two members to the Solid Waste Commission and replaced Secretary/Treasurer, Phil Miller, with Pat Soileau.  The Jury also appointed Fred Fontenot to the Ward 5 Fire District Board.

There had been some confusion regarding the auto insurance policy for all of the Parish vehicles.  According to Police Jurors, State Farm Insurance Company had quoted the Jury with incorrect pricing for the policy and sent a letter to them stating their coverage would be cancelled.  After working with the Jury, State Farm finally decided to honor the quote they had previously given the Jury.


Police Jurors unanimously passed a resolution to display “In God We Trust” in the Police Jury Room for all public meetings.


The Jury announced that the Industrial Park water tower is now in the process of “getting a face lift”.  They are also still in the process of working with black top on the roads in the Parish.


They also voted to confirm The Gazette as the official Journal.

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JUNE 9, 2015


   The Ville Platte Rotary Club met today (Tuesday) for their weekly meeting at Nick’s on Main and heard from Electrical Contractor Winston LaFleur. LaFleur spoke on a new group he has begun known as Ville Platte Christian Mission. The group works on raising money to go on yearly missions to Honduras. He  said last March, the group raised money through a city wide garage sale. While in Honduras, the group helped construct two homes and perform a water purifying project.  Winston was the special guest of Rotarian Kermit Miller.

    Club President Elect Mitch Fontenot conducted the meeting and reminded Rotarians of the annual installation banquet planned for next Tuesday June 16 at 6;00pm at Nick’s On Main. There will be no noon club meeting next week. It was also announced that Peter Strawitz has been elected as a new incoming board member.

     Ville Platte Mayor Jennifer Vidrine announced that the city is under a night time curfew for minors from 10-5 weekday nights and 12-5 on weekends.

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Congratulations to Bonnie Meche for being our weekly winner of a Family Fun 4-Pack of tickets to Blue Bayou/Dixie Landin'.  We will have another drawing this Friday morning so keep listening for your splashy "cue to call" and be caller 10 to qualify.  Good Luck!

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The Evangeline Parish School Board

June 3, 2015


The Evangeline Parish School Board held its bi-monthly meeting tonight in the Media Center.  There were quite a few support personnel in attendance as well as Principals and Administrators.  The main topic of discussion was the adoption of the 2015-2016 Salary Schedule that has been put together by the Superintendent’s Committee Members and forwarded to each school for input from the Administrators and staff members.  There was lengthy discussion about how certain support personnel would be affected by the “rating” system included in the plan and how that would affect the outcome of each person’s pay, including Merit payments.  Superintendent, Toni Hamlin and CFO, Amy LaFleur explained at length how the final plan was put together and said it was “fair, equitable and affordable.”  There were support personnel in attendance who told the Board they were very happy with the plan and supported it.  The Board did end up passing the Salary Schedule as the Committee presented it.  Ms. Hamlin thanked the Committee for all of its hard work.  Those members, including her, are Darwan Lazard, Amy LaFleur, Kelli LaFleur, Sherral Tezeno, Wanda Verrette, Johnell Celestine, Deborah Charles and Jacki Wyble.  President, Wayne Dardeau thanked the lunch room ladies from across the Parish for “all of the hard work they do for very little pay.”


Superintendent, Toni Hamlin, stated there are 103 children enrolled in Summer School.


She also stated that some teachers are currently attending the State Leadership Summit in New Orleans.  Last year they sent 30 teachers; however, in an effort to save traveling costs, they only sent 2 or 3 teachers.  They will come back and present the information on Staff Development Day.

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JUNE 3, 2015


    St. Landry/Evangeline United Way held their annual awards banquet Tuesday night. Among the awards given out were Mark Suellentrop, Cabot Corporation Manager named as Board Member of the Year. KVPI and the Ville Platte Gazette were given plaques for our news coverage throughout the year for United Way Projects.

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JUNE 2, 2015


    The Ville Platte Rotary Club today (Tuesday) heard from Kip Manuel give a brief history of Manuel Hardware. He stated there were four investors that began in 1948  Roy Tractor Company in Ville Platte: Leroy Soileau, Gilbert Aucoin, John Miller and Sam Miller with two employees: Henry Lee Manuel and A.B. Billeaudeau. A few years later in 1950, the owners sold the company to the two employees. The company began selling hay balers and shredders in addition to tractors. Also the company began selling grain bins as the business continued to grow through the years. In 1972, Henry Lee Manuel convinced his son, Kip, who was attending college to come work in the business. Kip acquired a contractor’s license and began building metal buildings. Among the customers the company constructed buildings  included Cabot, Union Tank, Holloway and T&J Ford. Kip Manuel introduced the new owners of the business, Ryan Vidrine. He is a graduate of McNeese and has been in the Ag industry for a number of years. He and his wife are planning to expand the business into new markets.

    In other business:

Welcomed the new editor of the Ville Platte Gazette: Raymond Partsche;

Was reminded that the annual installation banquet will be June 16 at 6;00pm at Nick’s on Main;

Was told that there will be a garage sale at Eric Gil’s State Farm Office on LaSalle Saturday from 7-12 noon for the Make A Wish foundation;

Is still seeking applicants for the Rotary Scholarship for the Coreil Campus of Louisiana Technical College.

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MAY 26, 2015


       The Ville Platte Rotary Club today (Tuesday) heard from Guest Speaker Willie Bergeron of Cleco. He gave some conservation measures for customers to save on their electricity bill this summer. He said heating and cooling amounts to 45% of the monthly power bill. Cleco suggests the thermostat should be set at 68 degrees in the winter and 78 degrees in the summer and to use a programmable thermostat. The next greatest user of energy in the home is the water heater which takes about 15 percent of the power bill. The water heater should be set at not higher than 125 degrees. Bergeron mentioned plugged in devices that are known as energy vampires such as computers, cell phone chargers and TV’s. Bergeron works for Cleco out of the Eunice office and was the guest speaker of Rotarian Nicole Wenger.

       Rotarians were notified by Wayne Vidrine that three students from Ville Platte schools will be attended the Rotary sponsored RYLA camp at Lake Fausse Park: McKenzie Fontenot, Taylor Leger and Tracy Trahan.

      Leonard Fontenot reported that Peter Strawitz and Wayne Vidrine will be named Paul Harris Fellows at the upcoming June 16 Installation Banquet for their $500 matching contribution to Rotary International.

      Rotarian Mark Suellentrop reported that the recently completed Choices Program reached over 300 students in all but three schools in the parish.

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May 20, 2015


The Evangeline Parish School Board held its bi-monthly meeting tonight in the Media Center at Ville Platte High. 


Parent, Tiffany Allison of Mamou, addressed the Board about two alleged incidents that took place on the school bus her children rode.  One involved an alleged slapping of a child by the school bus driver and the other involved the driver allegedly dropping her 2nd child off a mile and a half away from the correct drop off point.  Board Members, Wanda Skinner and David Landreneau also expressed concerns about other complaints that have been reported to them.  Lance with First Student addressed the concerns and stated that he, along with the school principal, reviewed the video tapes from the bus and found no incident of a slapping; however, did acknowledge that the driver did drop the second child off at the wrong point.  Wanda Skinner advised that the driver does not reside in the parish.  Lance with First Student advised the driver has been taken out of the parish.


Recognition was given to Pine Prairie Student, Lelia Deville, by Pine Prairie Assistant Principal, Andrew Dwyer, for her upcoming attendance at the 2015 National Future Business Leaders of America Leadership Conference in Chicago, Illinois from June 26th through July 3rd.  The School Board unanimously voted to contribute $200.00 for her attendance. 

The School Board voted to continue the millage rates that are currently in effect for this year.

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MAY 19, 2015


   The Rotary Club of Ville Platte Tuesday heard from Evangeline Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness Director Liz Hill, who is also in charge of the 9-1-1 Communications District. She informed club members that construction work is progressing on the new  9-1-1 communications facility at the Industrial Park. The concrete slab has just been poured for the 8,000 square foot building located next the Coreil Campus of South Louisiana Community College. This compares with their current location which is only 1400 square feet.

    The 9-1-1 communications board has been working and saving for over ten years for this new building which will have larger space for the communications center that will have the latest technology with a price tag of $400,000. It will house training rooms and other offices and space for emergency agencies to re locate during hurricanes and other critical times for use as incident command. The $2 million dollar facility is being built through a bond issue using local banks. It is expected to be completed in the next eleven months. The board is making every effort to keep jobs locally by using local sub contractors when possible.

     Liz Hill was the special guest of Rotarian Hillary Hill. He reminded club members of the Ville Platte VFW 75th anniversary celebration June 13 at the Our Lady Queen of All Saints Family Life Center. The State VFW Commander and Adjutant are expected to attend.

     Rotarian Mark Suelentrop reported on the success the club is having with the Choices program being taught in schools through out the parish. Club members are going to classrooms and encouraging students to stay in school. So far the program has reached 318 students parishwide.

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The Ville Platte City Council

May 12, 2015


The Ville Platte City Council held its monthly meeting tonight in City Hall.  Prior to the meeting, a public hearing was held regarding the issuance of a liquor permit to J.C. Ceasar who has purchased the property on the corner of MLK Drive and Dr. Carver. He intends to remodel the property and open a restaurant named The Creole House.  There were quite a few in attendance of support for Mr. Ceasar and there were also those who voiced concerns about parking in the area as well as problems from alcohol sales.  Mayor Jennifer Vidrine explained that she had received approximately 60 calls from residents voicing concerns as well.  After long discussions back and forth and with advisement from City Attorney Eric Lafleur, the Council voted to grant the liquor permit for a 6 month period and will continue it should Mr. Ceasar meet the requirement of having sales of food of more than 50% of total sales.


It was a happy time, when Ms. Ville Platte, Candace Bennatt, who is now Ms. Louisiana came and spoke to the council.  She received a standing ovation from everyone when the Mayor announced that Candace has chosen her “city to represent” as Ville Platte.  She said she chose Ville Platte because it reminds her of her hometown of Huffman, Texas and that she is very proud of Ville Platte.  Her boyfriend, Jack Walker was also in attendance.  The Miss USA Pageant will air on NBC at 8:00 p.m. on July 12th from Baton Rouge.


The Council voted to approve the V.P. Youth on the Move Summer Program which employee 24 children ages 16-18 over a 2 month period.  The child must live in the City of Ville Platte.  They will work in area businesses and receive other training pertaining to entering the work force, interviews, etc.

The Mayor announced that she has been appointed to the Louisiana Housing and Transportation Commission and this will help with planning for transportation in Ville Platte as well as working for affordable housing. 


She also reminded everyone that if you have an abandoned property, clean it up or you will be fined if you receive a warning and don’t.  The first fine is $1,000.00 and goes up from there.  If the City has to clean it, the cost will be put on your tax bill.


The expenditures for the month of April were $192,411.07 and that is down $25,360.18 from the month of March.

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MAY 12, 2015


        The Ville Platte Rotary Club today (Tuesday) heard from special guest speaker District Judge Chuck West.

         Judge West told club members that he and Judge Gary Ortego  in cooperation with the Clerk of Court have made changes and improvements to the jury selection process. He said the public needs to be aware of the need to appear for possible jury duty. Some 300 people are subpoenaed in a given month for civil and criminal trials. As a means to inform more of the general public, the public can now go on line and see when the jury trials are set and if they need to report.

     Also both judges have signed up to speed up the process for arrest and search warrants. In the past, sometimes it could take hours to notify a judge after hours or on weekends to review and sign a warrant. Now, Judges West and Ortego have signed up for an online warranty generator. Through this process, it reduces the turnaround  time from up to two hours down to 15 minutes.

     Judge West is also concerned with security in the court rooms and throughout the courthouse. “Sometimes we deal with tense and explosive situations between the accused and victims and we need better security, “the judge said. Currently courthouse departments are pooling their resources to ramp up security personnel and measures. Judge West was the special guest of Rotarian Jimmy LeBlanc.

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The Evangeline Parish Police Jury

May 11, 2015


The Evangeline Parish Police Jury held its monthly meeting tonight in the Courthouse.  Discussions were had during the thirty minute meeting about a request from FEMA for OEP to refund $8,367.15 is was given nine years ago to use for overtime pay after Hurricane Gustov.  Since FEMA determined the Jury did not have a policy in place regarding overtime at that time, FEMA decided to “not allow” the funds to be kept and repayment has now been requested.  The Jury voted unanimously to give FEMA the refund out of the General Fund.


The Police Jury voted to “deny” an alleged auto damage claim in excess of $2,000.00.  The Claimant says his “rims were bent” from a pothole in the parish. 

Secretary/Treasurer, Donald Bergeron, reported that he and Ryan Williams both attended the Acadiana Planning Commission Meeting where Mr. Eric Kolabota with the LA Department of Transportation and Development spoke regarding the list of road projects that will be coming in the future should funding for those projects go through.  Proposals for “Dues” to be in the Planning Commission could run approximately $5,000.00/year should everything move forward.  The next meeting will be held on July 30th and will be held in Evangeline Parish.


Mr. Bergeron reported that the Sales Tax Collection for the month of March was $299,095.09.


Public Works Director, Chester Granger, reported that due to all of the rain, it was put a delay in the chip and seal project.  Until the roads dry out, they are unable to prepare the roads to continue with the project.  The Police Jury voted to allow the Public Works Department to replace a bridge on James Lane in District 1 in the amount of $11,200.00


City Engineer, Ronnie Landreneau, reported that there will be a “Pre-Bid Conference” tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. in the Police Jury Office in the conference room regarding the bids being received soon in the micro-surfacing project.

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