VILLE PLATTE ROTARY CLUB MEETING
MARCH 24, 2015
The Rotary Club of Ville Platte today (Tuesday) heard from representatives of Pine Prairie Energy Center, a gas storage facility located in Easton. Among those attending speaking were Don Fontenot, Ed Benoit and Kyle Fontenot.
Benoit offered a audio visual presentation on Pine Prairie Energy that is been in operation since 2006. The facility has five caverns, 4000 feet deep. The caverns can hold up to 46 billion cubic feet of gas enough to supply the gas needs of the entire state of Louisiana for one day. The facility is located over a huge salt dome which is nearly 2 miles wide. The company has 84 miles of 24 inch pipeline that goes to Eunice and elsewhere. The pipeline connects to such major companies pipelines as Tennessee Gas, Transco, Texas Eastern, Columbia Gas and Texas Gas.
Pine Prairie Energy employs 19 people and has provided over 15 million dollars in taxes sinc ei began operations. The three were guests of Rotarian Eric Gil.
Ville Platte Mayor Jennifer Vidrine said she is preparing a special gift basket to present to the Mayor of Paris, France when she visits our area on Monday.
March 18, 2015
The Evangeline Parish School Board had its bi-monthly meeting tonight in the Media Center at Ville Platte High School. The meeting room was packed with excited parents and students as the “Students of the Year” Awards were given out. Linda Lafleur presented the awards to the following nominees and winners:
Brooklyn Fontenot – Bazile High School
Ainsley Dutton – Bayou Chicot Elementary
Hunter Brown – Chataignier Elementary
Isaiah Noel – Mamou High School
Coreyan Johnson – Vidrine Elementary
Josie Guillory – Ville Platte High School
Jaylen Thomas – Bazile High School
Jessica Cole – Bayou Chicot Elementary
Jada Guillory – Chataignier Elementary
Kiersten Goodley – Mamou High School
Chloe Tate – Vidrine Elementary
Jarden Bias – Ville Platte High School
Savanna Bergeaux (Not Pictured) – Bazile High School
Kaitlyn Chatelain – Mamou High School
Makayla Lenzy Hebert – Pine Prairie High School
Reygan Ann Jagneaux – Ville Platte High School
THE STUDENTS OF THE YEAR ARE:
5TH GRADE: Ainsley Dutton – Bayou Chicot Elementary
8th GRADE: Kiersten Goodley – Mamou High School
12th GRADE: Savanna Bergeaux – Bazile High School
Superintendent, Toni Hamlin reported that “Testing” is going “Very Well so far”. There have been reports in the media about children being able to “opt out” of the testing; however, Evangeline Parish has a very low percentage of that happening compared to other school districts. Evangeline had 1 at Pine Prairie High School, 1 at Chataignier and 19 at Bayou Chicot Elementary. Ms. Hamlin said administrators have explained to parents that this is a tool they can use to see how their children are learning. She also noted that the Schools and the District get a “0” for any student that opts out. She also pointed out that even though opting out will never harm a child, it is not a guaranty that they will automatically promote to the next level. There is still an academic standard in the Pupil Progression Plan that students must meet. Student were asked if they think the ELA part of the test was “harder than they thought it would be or easier”. She reports that students are saying it is “Easier than they thought it would be.”
The Board voted to approve a three year contract with First Student to handle transportation services. Discussions were had regarding overloading on buses and children standing up. Board Member, Wanda Skinner, questioned First Student and voiced concerns regarding calls she has received from parents regarding overcrowding on a couple of buses. Ted Soileau and First Turn responded and explained that they have been working on re-rerouting some of the routes to avoid this from happening.
The Ville Platte Chamber of Commerce held its monthly meeting today at Nick’s on Main.
Guest Speaker was Donald Bergeron, Secretary/Treasurer of the Evangeline Parish Police Jury. He explained how far reaching the responsibilities of the Police Jury are. From Libraries to Prisons and ditches and roads and everything in between. He explained that the Police Jury is currently working with Congress to keep Tax Exemptions for Municipal Bonds. If they did not have the exemptions, it would not be attractive to contractors interested in a project. Mr. Bergeron explained part of the Road Work Project that Parish has been working on. It is divided into the Northern Portion and the Southern Portion. So far, in the Northern portion, they have laid 21 miles out of the 83 total miles and have spent 1.7 million dollars out of the total cost of 9.6 million dollars. In the Southern Portion, they have laid 12 of the 69 miles and spent 1.47 million dollars out of the total 9.3 million. They will be moving into Phase II and then Phase III.
Angie Rozas with Cleco announced that this year’s Annual Banquet is going to be held on April 29th. The Social will be from 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. and the banquet starts at 7:00 p.m. Clerk of Court, Randy Deshotel, announced this year’s theme will be “Casino Theme” and there will be a silent auction, cash bar and they are working on the entertainment. Tickets will be $40.00 and the Chamber will be sending out letters letting you know when they are available. They will announce the following awards:
Man of the Year
Woman of the Year
Business of the Year
Business Person of the Year’
The deadline for you to nominate someone is April 3rd. Please include a Bio of the person when you nominate them.
VILLE PLATTE ROTARY CLUB MEETING
MARCH 17, 2015
The Ville Platte Rotary Club today (Tuesday) heard from Boisy Pitre, a computer specialist and software developer who resides in the Prairie Rhonde area. Pitre gave an interesting presentation on the history of computer technology and mathematics and how they are inter -related. The first transistor was invented in 1947 and iBM invented the first personal computer in 1981. He felt the future of computer technology will be in wearables such as watches to make it more personal to the user. The camera will show the emotional engagement of the user to be able to tell if you happy or sad. The new devices will also be able to improve your fitness and health such as measure your blood pressure, sugar levels and how your meal impacts your body chemistry. Boisy Pire was the special guest of Library Director Mary Foster Galosso.
VILLE PLATTE ROTARY CLUB
MARCH 10, 2015
The Rotary Club of Ville Platte today (Tuesday) heard from representatives of the Smoked Meat Festival. Renee Brown and Eva Vidrine, who represent part of the new group of organizers who will be sponsoring the Smoked Meat Festival to be held June 26 and 27.
It was reported that the sponsoring group from last year chose not to continue holding the festival so a new group was formed to keep the tradition of the festival continue. The six member board contains some members from the Viet Nam Veterans organization.
This will be the 23rd year the festival will showcase smoked meats. Most of the same traditions will remain including the smoked meat cook off, honoring veterans and giving back to the community. This year there will be a children’s area with a petting zoo along with the National Guard displaying a maze. It was also announced that the musical acts include Jaryd Lane, Geno Delafosse, Keith Frank and Ashton Dupre. The group is looking for corporate and business sponsorships and volunteers.
In other business, it was announced that the Rotary District Conference is planned for April 16-18 in Crowley and the Ville Platte club will be participating.
The club is planning to meet with the mayor and city officials to decide where to locate the new Rotary club signs at street intersections.
The Evangeline Parish Police Jury held its monthly meeting tonight in the courthouse. There was much discussion on some lingering issues in the parish.
Tempers were flared as the discussion of pay raises for the Justices of the Peace and the Constables of the parish were discussed. Police Juror, Kenny Burgess, made a motion that they give a $150.00 a month pay raise to the JP’s and Constables. After debating back and forth, the Jury voted against granting the pay raises. President, Ryan Ardoin, pointed out that “Donald Bergeron has already said we are over budget. We have given out loans and that money is tied up.” Juror, Kenny Burgess, stated “Unbelievable. We can give raises to the City Marshall/Constable in Ward 1, but we can’t give it to the rest of the Parish.” Juror, Lamar Johnson, was vocal as he left the police jury room, upset at the decision. Juror, Bryan Vidrine, was quoted saying “We have to stay in budget before we give out raises…this isn’t Washington D.C.”
As we have reported to you in the past, abandoned properties have been and were in deep discussion with the Police Jury this evening. They received bids from three companies to demolish structures that lie on multiple properties. If the Jury went ahead with the demolition of the structures through the companies that bid, the cost would then turn around and be placed as a lien against the property owner. Then, if not paid, the property could go up for sale and the police jury would recover the money through that avenue. The problem arose that some of these properties would not bring in near the money that it would cost to have the dwellings demolished, leaving the Police Jury in the red. They discussed the possibility of demolishing them through the Public Works department, and Director, Chester Granger, was asked to visit the locations and put together a cost estimate of what it would cost the Parish to complete the work themselves. The bids from the three companies ranged greatly but all were in excess of $50,000.00. The Jury voted to put off action in the ongoing struggle until they receive the report from Mr. Granger.
The issue of Animal Control was raised as discussions about building a new animal shelter continue to be had. President, Ryan Ardoin, suggested we “bring it to the people for a vote”, either a millage tax or a sales tax. Kenny Burgess stated he was against a millage because then only homeowners would be paying the tax. The Jury has been speaking with other parishes and organizations about the cost of building and maintaining a facility in the Parish. Surrounding areas pay a wide range from $50,000.00 a year to $198,000.00 a year to maintain a facility. They will have two guest speakers at the next committee meeting to provide more information to the Jury. Jill Stevenson and Tim Benoit from Acadia Parish will present the information to the Jury.
Dwight Landreneau, Head of State Parks, spoke to the Jury and requested they enter into a Cooperative Agreement with Chicot State Park. There has been a tremendous cut in funding and his office has had to let 116 people go from their employment. He says they simply do not have the money to operate as they did in the past. The Police Jury agreed to enter into the Agreement, which would aid the park by allowing employees, on down time, or as needed, to assist with duties and work at what Evangeline Parish calls “The Park”. Mr. Landreneau pointed out that the park generates $3.5 million dollars for Evangeline Parish and it is vital that we keep it up and running. He also said that residents who would like to volunteer at Chicot State Park or the Arboretum can call the main office speak with the office manager. Also, if you have a business or if you would like to personally “Adopt” part of the park, please call as well. There are many options you can help with.
The Police Jury voted to designate March American Red Cross Month in celebration of the Heroes in Evangeline Parish who help those in need during the time of emergencies. They come to the rescue through blood donation, helping soldiers communicate with love ones who are hurt, and prevent and eliminate human suffering during disasters. Erica Williams with The American Red Cross spoke to the Jury and thanked them for the proclamation. Locally, they have helped with 7 fires, 8 families in need, 345 parish residents have received CPR certifications, and 23 parish residents are American Red Cross Volunteers. She asked for all of you to please register and volunteer with the American Red Cross.
Public Works Director, Chester Granger, brought up an issue he is currently dealing with. While Contractor, Coastal Road and Bridges has been using Readon School Road, there has been damage done to the road. They have been in disagreement about repairing the road and he reports that he and Mike Smith with Coastal have not been able to come to an agreement regarding the repairs that need to be done to the road. He said “The repairs are unsatisfactory to our standards and he has until March 16th to have the repairs done. We will keep you up to date on the matter.
There will be a public hearing on April 13th at 5:45 regarding abandoning a portion of Gallou Lake Road due to the purchase of the surrounding land by Dominick Brown from JT Miller.
Secretary/Treasurer, Donald Bergerson, reported that the 2% Sales Tax Collection for the month of January was $247,717.13.
The Ville Platte City Council
March 3, 2015
The Ville Platte City Council held its monthly meeting tonight at Ville Platte City Hall. During Council Comments, Councilman Mike Perron, brought up the problems that the City is having with street cleaning. He stated that the driver of the street sweeper is having problems with residents putting their trash boxes too close, if not on, the road. This becomes a problem because the sweeper cannot pass without the driver getting out and moving the boxes. Residents should know their trash boxes should be at least 1 – 2 feet away from the curb. It was also noted that much of the trash that residents are disposing off are not the City’s responsibility to pick up. It is the responsibility of the Solid Waste Commission. Items such as sofas, stoves, air conditioners, refrigerators and other items should be put out in accordance with the specifications of the Solid Waste Commission, then residents are to call 363-7254 and ask that those items be picked up. Mayor Vidrine stated “We are trying to clean up the City. If you put your trash out too early and animals get into your trash and scatter it, you can be ticketed if it is not picked up. This is your responsibility.” There was also discussion of the problem with residents cutting limbs and raking leaves and other lawn clippings into ditches and gutters. This becomes a problem with drainage and creates a headache to clean up.
Mayor, Jennifer Vidrine, was pleased to report that expenditures for the City of Ville Platte for the month of February were $123,670.30. That was down $95,953.47 from the month of January. She, again, thanked the city employees, supervisors, in-house personnel for all of their efficient work, as well as business owners for following the purchase order process.
A concerned citizen spoke to the council regarding his unpleasant experience with SuddenLink in our area. He has been unhappy with the connectivity service as well as the lack of answers he has received from SuddenLink regarding any possible upgrade in equipment. The Mayor shared her additional concern with their service and stated she has spoken to two other companies to see what availability Ville Platte would have for another service to be offered. She stated she was unhappy with the price of the service versus the amount of channels. Another member of the audience in the council room stated he wanted to know why his service has not gotten better, yet he has received a $6.00 hike on his bill.
The City Council unanimously agreed to enter into a Cooperative Agreement with Head of State Parks, Dwight Landreneau, and Chicot State Park due to the cuts in funding that are happening. The City will be aiding the park through the Experience Work program by providing workers, volunteers, machinery, etc., when needed.
A Cooperative Agreement was also agreed to for Renee Brown and her group taking over The Smoked Meat Festival. Mayor Vidrine thanked Renee and Jessie Muse, along with the rest of the volunteers, for taking over the event and not letting it go.
Mayor Vidrine thanked Councilman Riggs for his generous donation of a “Ping Pong Table” to the Boys & Girls Club.
Also in attendance were Glen Fontenot and Charlie Manuel from the Ville Platte Lyons Club. They also made a donation to the Boys & Girls Club.
Mayor Vidrine also made note of the article regarding KVPI, French Programming and Evangeline Parish in the New York Times. She showed her framed copy and said it would be hung inside City Hall.
During the Mayor’s Comments, she took the time to state: “Publicly and personally thank the Council for all they have done for the City. The Mayor’s name comes up a lot but the Council has so much to do with everything. I thank them for their support and enthusiasm for getting things done. A lot of cities have councils and mayors that do not get along and things do not get done. But, the Council and I work together as 1 body to do the best for the City.”
She also thanked City Engineer, Ronnie Landreneau, for doing so much for Ville Platte on a daily basis. She stated: “I don’t many people know the time, paperwork, research and all Ronnie does for Ville Platte. I thank him from the bottom of my heart and appreciate all you and your staff do to get things right for our city.”
She lastly thanked our City Attorney, Eric Lafleur for all he does for our city and our area. She stated: “We are very lucky to have a city attorney who is also a State Senator and we thank him for being there for us.”
FEBRUARY 24, 2015
The Vile Platte Rotary Club today heard from Connie Lamke with the Relay for Life. She announced that this year’s relay event for the benefit of the American Cancer Society is scheduled for Saturday April 18 from 12 noon to 12 midnight at the Ville Platte High Football Field. This year’s theme is “Keep Calm and Relay On”. There will be a BBQ cook off sponsored by Teet’s Food Store. T Boy’s of Mamou will sponsor a boudin eating contest. There will be fun jumps, fire truck rides, food, a silent auction, contests, raffles, music and fun.
Also, the group is sponsoring a 5K Fun Walk/Run on March 21 for Relay for Life.
Some 255 cancer patients in Evangeline Parish have been assisted directly by the American Cancer Society in the last two years.
Lamke also announced that the Ville Platte Police Department is sponsoring a fund raiser for Faith House March 18 to pick up supplies for women and children who have to leave their homes quickly.
It was announced during the meeting that Rotary International this week has turned 110 years old.
ROTARY CLUB MEETING
FEBRUARY 10, 2015
The Ville Platte Rotary Club heard from LSU Eunice Chancellor Dr. Bill Nunez make a special audio visual presentation. Dr. Willie Buller representing the Ville Platte club made a financial presentation to Dr. Nunez for the 22nd year. This scholarship fund represents a $90,000 endowment from Rotary in Ville Platte. Dr. Nunez, who is retiring in June after serving 19 years, thanked the local club for their annual funding. He also recognized Dr. John Couvillion, former Chancellor. LSU Eunice has been serving the tri parish area for the past 48 years. Due to less funding from the state, the burden of higher tuitions has been falling on the student and their family. Dr. Nunez emphasized that we need to work harder to educate our children and have them stay here instead of moving out of state.
Dr. Nunez gave some statistics for the average student attending LSU E: average age is 22, 71 percent of the students is female, 67 percent is Caucasian, the average ACT score is 19.33; Evangeline Parish students represent 14 percent of the total student population with students from St. Landry and Acadia having a higher percentage.
In other business, Assistant District Governor Yvonne Normand announced that she is working to re establish a club in Mamou.
The Evangeline Parish Police Jury held its monthly meeting this evening in the Courthouse. President, Ryan Ardoin, began the meeting by announcing he will be enforcing a 2 minute time limit for speaking on subjects on the agenda.
The subject of installing a fire hydrant in the Mill Creek Subdivision, off Chicot Road, came into discussion. Jacob Fusilier and others from the subdivision were in attendance at the meeting. Mr. Fusilier stated during public comments that the subdivision is located ”outside” the city limits and is located one mile North and one mile South of the nearest fire hydrant. He stated that there are 36 houses occupied by couples, children and elderly in the neighborhood and as the situation stands, they would have a delay in receiving fire services if something were to happen. He explained that the neighborhood generates more taxes per household than anywhere else, and asked for help from the police jury to install a hydrant. After much discussion, a motion was passed to allow the subdivision developer to pay half of the cost of the hydrant and to loan Police Juror, Bryan Vidrine, the other half of the cost through the General Fund, with the understanding that the loan/cost will be paid back with an insurance rebate check that will be forthcoming. Mr. Fusilier thanked Mr. Vidrine for all of his help in the matter.
Anna Frank, Director of Section 8, spoke to the Jury and explained that her office is $25,000 in the negative from a build-up of “miscommunications” with Accountant, Amy Buchanan. She explained that the federal government is not paying the cost required to run her office and pointed out that she started in her position seven years ago and has never been in the red before. She requested that the Police Jury loan Section 8 the money to cover the negative balance with the agreement that she will repay the loan. The Jury agreed to the loan, as well as taking on her salary permanently.
The Jury voted and agreed to hire Phil Lemoine as “Risk Manager” for the Parish. He will oversee and evaluate insurance policies as they come up for renewal and advise the Jury as to policy terms and applications. He will be paid $500.00 a month and will report to Donald Bergeron.
Discussion began on repairs at the Parish Jail. Donald Bergeron reported that water has been restored to all cells, except #5. Reports have been made to all broken light fixtures and are now being “vandalized proofed”. They were broken and damaged by prisoners. It was announced that anyone caught destroying items in the Jail can be charged with Criminal Damage to Property. The Jury voted in favor of replacing the broken stove/ovens with a new one costing $4,800.00 as well as a garbage disposal in the amount of $3,600.00.
Police Juror, Lamar Johnson, requested an $80,000.00 loan from the General Fund to overlay TC/Glenmora Hwy and part of Earl DeVille Road. The Jury voted in favor of the loan to be repaid $40,000.00 in January of 2016 and $40,000.00 in January of 2017.
Police Juror, Kenny Burgess asked the Jury to pass a resolution regarding support of Veteran’s contributions. They Jury unanimously agreed to recognize all military holidays in the parish. Mr. Burgess pointed out that “Not many people realize this but we have a Pearl Harbor Veteran living in our Parish. Mr. Celestine lives in a nursing home in Mamou.” He said we also have many other veteran’s from WWII, The Korean War and other battles fought.
Public Works Director, Chester Granger, said he was called to the “Mamou Yard” Friday evening at 9:00 p.m. where someone had broken in. The same weekend, in Region A, someone stole 67 gallons of diesel. He is urging the Policy Jury to install surveillance cameras at the Yards. Discussion will continue on this matter.
And finally, Donald Bergeron reported that the 2% Sales Tax Collections for December were $338,392.71. That is a 19% increase from last year.
February 4, 2015
The Evangeline Parish School Board held its bi-monthly meeting tonight in the Media Center. There was an Executive Committee Meeting held on January 27th where the topic of an announcement made in the media regarding students’ option not to participate in the state testing. Superintendent, Toni Hamlin brought the subject up and because it is not mentioned in State Law 17:24, the subject could become critical. There would be no penalty to the student, but teachers, schools and districts would be penalized. A school would receive a “0” for every student not tested, which would be disastrous for the School Performance Scores. This was a topic for discussion and information at this time.
During the regular Board Meeting, Mr. Vic Slaven gave the Audit Report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014. He gave the Board a “Very Clean Report”. Board Member, Nancy Hamlin, said she was very proud of the schools, Central Office and Amy Lafleur, Chief Financial Officer for their hard work.
Discussion then turned to the renewal of the First Student transportation contract. The issue had been discussed in the Executive Committee Meeting wherein a “Five Year Renewal” was rejected and a “Three Year Renewal” was accepted. When presented to the Board, there was debate back and forth as to whether the contract needed to go out for bid rather than just renewed, especially that the amount of the contract is in the millions and the highest paid contract the School Board has. Board Member, Mike Fontenot expressed it would be “fiscally responsible to our constituents and our students to put it out for bid in hopes of saving money.” The Board voted 5 to 6 in favor of putting the contract out for bid. Work on the bidding process will now begin.
Assistant Superintendent, Darwan Lazard spoke regarding repairs and projects being performed at all of our schools. He pointed out that he has a small group performing the work, but they have done a very good job and have completed approximately 188 work orders from October 11, 2014 through January 7, 2015.
He reported that they did come across an “unsafe situation” at James Stephens. They were receiving complaints from those in the neighborhood and had a problem with an emergency vehicle not being able to get through. This is in the area where the parents line up to drop off and pick up the children. They are preparing a new route in the rear of the school for new pickup. They have placed limestone, extended a canopy and sidewalk. New signage will be going up. James Stevens Drive will become a 1-way from 7-9:00 A.M. and from 2-4:00 P.M. and Peach Street will become a one-way to the East for part of the day. A letter will be sent home to parents regarding the changes.
There will be a Superintendent’s Committee Meeting for support personal at 2:00 P.M. tomorrow at the Central Office.
Vidrine Elementary was recognized by KATC for being a “Cool School” due to their donations of books to children’s hospitals.
And we close on a good note, Pine Prairie High School Student Jamie Jenkins was awarded 1st Place in the Cover Art Contest by the Louisiana Council for Exceptional Children. Congratulations from KVPI!
NEW YORK TIMES FEATURE STORY
Feb. 1, 2015
KVPI and the Ville Platte area will be visited by Richard Fausset, a reporter with the New York Times,on Monday through Wednesday. He will be working on a feature story on our Cajun/Creole culture and especially KVPI’s French language programming. Fausset first heard about us as he was visiting South La. A few years ago whne he came across our La Tasse de Café program. KVPI has been programming French language programming since we signed on in 1953 and we are one of the very few radio stations still programming these specialty programs to preserve and support our special Cajun/Creole culture and heritage.
January 21, 2015
The Ville Platte Chamber of Commerce held its monthly meeting today at noon at Nick’s on Main. There was a very nice turnout of Chamber members. KVPI’s Jenn Meylian and Stephanie Ware of The 2 Non-Blonde’s Café were special guest speakers and they spoke about their broadcasting careers and the birth and growth of their morning show. Winky Aucoin, Lyndsey Young and Tony Davoren with Prairie Heritage, LLC were also guest speakers and spoke about the upcoming event “Le Grand Hurrah” to be held at Chicot State Park on April 10th and 11th. They are working very hard to make this a grand event and ask that everyone support their efforts in putting it all together. It’s a great event for our area.
Executive Director, Camille Fontenot announced that the Christmas Parade was a great success and was happy that they were able to get the Coca-Cola truck this year. She thanked those and City Hall and Mayor, Jennifer Vidrine, for helping with those efforts. She also thanked Clerk of Court, Randy Deshotel, for the use of his beautiful home for the After Hours chamber event. She announced that the Chamber Banquet is going to be held April 29th at the Ville Platte Civic Center. At that time, the Man & Woman of the Year, Agriculturer of the Year along with other awards will be given.
Chamber Member, Susan Fisher with St. Landry – Evangeline United Way, announced that the Women with Heart event will be held at the Opelousas Civic Center on February 6th. She also announced that the Harley Ambassadors will again be visiting Pine Prairie and Ville Platte High School on February 11th speaking with 4th, 5th and 6th graders about “real life and how to make smart choices”.
The next Chamber meeting has been scheduled for February 25th.
VILLE PLATTE ROTARY CLUB
JANUARY 21, 2015
The Ville Platte Rotary Club today (Tuesday) heard from Kelli Landry, a case worker with The Family Tree Information, Education and Counseling Center in Lafayette. Kelly is involved in the “Healthy Start” program, a federally funded program designed to reduce infant mortality. The program targets high risk African American women who are pregnant or who have young children.
The program is designed to help women in Evangeline, Lafayette, St. Martin, Iberville and Acadia parishes. She reported that the infant mortality rate in Evangeline Parish is at 9 percent which is three times the national average. She is currently going to the library, health unit and other public places to meet with women in need. The program also assists with depression screening, anger management and basic health.
Rotary Club President Elect Mitch Fontenot reported on last weekend’s Mid Year Assembly for Rotary District 6200. He announced that the annual District Conference is scheduled for April 16-18 in Crowley and urged rotary members to attend.
Evangeline Parish- On January 16, 2015, shortly before 5:00 a.m., Louisiana State Police Troop I responded to a crash on LA Highway 13 north of LA Highway 374 that claimed the life of a Eunice man.
The preliminary investigation revealed that 64-year-old Keith Stakes of Eunice, LA was walking in the southbound travel lane, when he was struck by a 1996 Chevrolet Silverado driven by 46-year-old Billy Hubbard of Ville Platte, La.
Stakes was transported to a local hospital where he later died as a result of his injuries. Hubbard and his passenger were wearing seat belts and were not injured.
Toxicology samples were taken from Stakes and were submitted to the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab for analysis. Hubbard submitted to a chemical test and was not impaired.
This crash remains under investigation.
The Evangeline Parish School Board held its bi-monthly meeting tonight in the School Board Media Room. Attorney, Betsy Jackson, swore in School Board Members, President, Wayne Dardeau, Vice President, Scott Limoges, Peggy Foreman, Georgianna Wilson, Wanda Skinner, Arthur Savoy, Lonnie Sonnier and Ellis Guillory. Board Members, Mike Fontenot and Darrin Vidrine were in attendance, but had previously been sworn in.
Supervisor, Linda Lafleur, addressed the board with proposed changes to the “Remediation” program for 4th and 8th grade students. The Board approved the change of making the remediation period 4 days in May instead of the 6 days leading into June as it is now. Normal Summer School will remain the same.
Chief Financial Officer, Amy Lafleur, gave the sales tax comparison and reported that collections for the month of December of the 2014-15 school year were $548,027.73 compared to $455,345.25 for the 2013-2014 school year. That is an increase of $92,682.48.
Again, discussions turned to the PARC Assessment and the Common Core program as the Board was presented with two Resolutions from other parishes asking the State of Louisiana to grant a moratorium on sanctions being imposed if a school district is not ready in time for the PARC testing (St. Mary Parish School Board); and asking the State to remove itself from the Common Core Standards and charge the Louisiana Board of Education with developing a new standard (St. Tammany Parish School Board). After discussions were had, the Board adopted the Resolutions. They will have no effect on Evangeline Parish.
Superintendent, Toni Hamlin, congratulated newest Board Member, Mike Fontenot from the Mamou area for being with the Board. She also announced the first Executive Committee meeting will be on Tuesday, January 27th at 2:00 p.m. in the Media Center. Peggy Foremen has agreed to head that committee again this year. This Friday will be a staff development day so educators can continue to receive up-to-date training.
Ms. Hamlin also congratulated Mamou High School for receiving two grants this week. The School received a $5,000.00 grant from Lowe’s Home Improvement for beautification and improvement to the campus; and also a $1,000.00 grant from the new Walmart Express newly opened in Mamou.
January 13, 2015
Ville Platte City Council
The Ville Platte City Council held its monthly meeting this evening at City Hall. Mayor, Jennifer Vidrine, officially welcomed the newest member of the City Council, Bryant Riggs, and presented him with his official name plate.
Jumping forward to the end of the meeting, Mayor Vidrine and the council surprised Councilman, C.J. Dardeau with a cake, plaque and celebration for not only his 79th birthday for his 38 years as as a public servant. His family was there to surprise him as well.
CPA, Vic Slaven reported good news to the Council and the Mayor by announcing his findings during the recent city audit. The Mayor and Council were very pleased when he reported a surplus of $512,906.00. The good news kept coming as the Mayor reported expenditures for the month of December were $164,491.08 compared to $189,013.58 for the month of November. The city spent $24,522.50 less in December. The Mayor thanked all of the City Hall staff and supervisors for doing such a great job and doing what they needed to.
The Summer Feeding Program will take place again this year for any child age 1 – 18. It will start the 1st Monday in June and will take place daily at Ville Platte High School. The City sponsors the program; however, spends no funds on it as they receive grant money to fund the program. No one will be required to fill out any paperwork in order to take advantage of the program and there will be buses on both sides of town to pick children up to go and eat, and then bring them back.
The Mayor and City Council congratulated and presented a plaque to Carlton “Duece” Doucet for his 16 years of faithful service as a city employee. “Duece” retired in November.
There were two donations presented to the Mayor for The Boys & Girls Club. The first came in the amount of $200.00 from the Evangeline Community Theatre who are celebrating their third anniversary this month; and the second was in the amount of $100.00 from the Veterans Foreign War. The Mayor reminds everyone that you can always go online and make donations at cityofvilleplatte.com. Go to The Boys & Girls Club and it will allow you to make donations. In order to gain a charter from The Boys & Girls Club of America, there is a requirement to have $150,000.00 in the bank.
There were some very happy employees in the council chamber this evening, as the council approved the holiday schedule for 2015, which included an extra holiday which is Christmas Eve Day. That brings their total paid vacation days to 16. They were also excited when the council approved a 3% pay raise for all employees, and that includes part-timers. The Mayor stated: “For the last four years, we have been able to provide an increase and our employees are working hard.” There was also council approval for Longevity Pay for those employees with the city five years of more of service. That bonus comes in a separate check.
Prairie Heritage, Inc., was granted a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement for an event being scheduled at Chicot State Park called “HOORAH”. The event is planned for April 10th & 11th.
City Engineer, Ronnie Landreneau, reported that they have just about wrapped Phase II of the water project and are now patching the holes in the streets that were created to do the work.
Police Chief, Neal Lartigue, requested the council’s approval of hiring 3 new full-time officers and 3 part-time jailers. The council unanimously approved same.
VILLE PLATTE ROTARY CLUB
JANUARY 13, 2015
The Ville Platte Rotary Club today (Tuesday) heard special classification talks from three new members of the organization. All three were born and raised in Ville Platte, moved away and now have moved back to their home town.
Chris Ludeau, an attorney has been practicing law for the past two years in Lafayette. He is a graduate of the LSU Law School and Sacred Heart High School.
Nick Monier, a 28 year old attorney, is a graduate of Sacred Heart, LSU and Loyola. He opened his practice last year here in Ville Platte. His grandfather is well known Ville Platte Barber Allen Monier.
Nicole Wenger, a native of Ville Platte, graduated from UL-Lafayette and moved to the West Coast where she met her husband. After moving several more times, her family moved back two years ago to Ville Platte where they provide emergency services to homes damaged by fire, water and mold. Her grandfather is the late Van Ortego, long time post office employee.
Rotary Club President David Mayeaux showed off the new Rotary Club road signs that will be placed at various entrances into Ville Platte.
He also announced that the annual Mid Year District Conference for the Rotary District 6200 is scheduled for this Saturday in Lafayette.
Monday, January 12, 2015
Evangeline Parish Police Jury
The Evangeline Parish Police Jury held its monthly meeting this evening in the courthouse. The Jury unanimously agreed to keep Ryan Ardoin as President of the Jury and Ryan Ledet Williams as Vice President of the Jury for the 2015 term. They also agreed to continue to hold their monthly meetings on the second Monday of the month at 6:00 p.m. in the Police Jury room. Committee meetings will be held the 1st Monday of the month at 5:00 p.m., also in the Police Jury room.
The Jury also voted to appoint Todd Welsh as the replacement for the deceased Louis B. Johnson in Waterworks District #1, and after receiving a recommendation from Mamou Gravity Drainage Board #5, agreed to appoint Kerry G. Fontenot to replace Minerva Baker on the Board.
There was much discussion regarding a recommended pay increase for the staff at the Police Jury Office, which includes 5 full-time and 1 part-time employee. Secretary/Treasurer, Donald Bergeron stated “Last year, the Police Jury was unable to fund pay raises for the staff. I instructed the staff to look at incoming bills and any place they thought we could cut back, and bring it to our attention. The staff worked hard and was able to cut spending through contract negotiations, a cut in insurance rates and questioning bills.” The discussion included giving raises to all of the road crews as well, but not all of the information was available to grant those during this meeting. The Jury voted to reward the office staff with $1.00/hr. raise, as well as to Region A & B for the road crews. Regions C & D will be discussed during the next meeting, and if the Jury elects to give those raises as well, the Jury would make the raises retroactive.
President, Ryan Ardoin, also brought of the issue of a Police Jury ordinance that requires the Jury to be responsible for stray, nuisance and/or possibly dangerous animals when alerted to same. The Jury agreed to get with other parishes and towns who currently have animal shelters in order to gain information regarding the legality of specifics required for a facility, the expense to build and maintain a facility in our area so there can be animal control.
Stemming from the last meeting, the Limestone bid has been awarded to Jody Cloud Trucking in Turkey Creek.
And, finally, according to Secretary/Treasurer, Donald Bergeron, the 2% sales tax collected in the month of December for the month of November was $321,456.38, an increase of 49.18%.
VILLE PLATTE ROTARY CLUB MEETING
JANUARY 6, 2014
The Ville Platte Rotary Club today (Tuesday) heard from LSU Ag Center 4-H Agent Todd Fontenot discuss the 4-H program. The 4-H Program is a youth development program with 800 members enrolled from the 4th grade through the 12th grade. The young people learn important life skills. He explained for example that the livestock program teaches 4-H students to be responsible for their animals, build self confidence and self esteem.
He announced that the parish livestock show is January 22-24 where some 120 exhibitors will be participating at the Chauncey Pitre Ag Arena. The Jr. Market Animal Sale will be held Saturday January 24.
Todd Fontenot was the special guest of Rotarian Bill Brunet.
In other rotary news, it was announced that the club currently 54 members. Vice President Mitch Fontenot announced that the District 6200 Rotary Mid Year Assembly will be held January 17.