Sheriff Eddie Soileau, of the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office has released the following:
BASILE, LA – Early Monday morning, June 10, 2019 at approx 2:09am a residence on the 1000 block of Easy St was burglarized.
A male subject identified as Bailey Richardson entered the home through a bedroom window. Upon making entry the homeowner was awoken to a bedroom light coming on after hearing noises of the burglar making entry. The owner opened fire on the subject striking him once in the right thigh and once in the right upper arm. The subject was able to exit the residence but was immediately detained by an off-duty deputy living in the neighborhood. The deputy was also able to detain 3 other male subjects that assisted Bailey.
Upon arrival of the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office Detective Tommy Gallow, a brief investigation was completed and 3 of the subjects were arrested and transported to the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office Jail and charged with Simple Burglary of Inhabited Dwelling and Criminal Trespassing. A bond was set on each suspect by 13th Judicial Judge Chuck West in the amount of $40,000.
Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office is seeking public assistance in locating a fourth person identified as Shane Lashone Ceasar. A warrant of arrest has also been issued on Ceasar for Simple Burglary of Inhabited Dwelling and Criminal Trespassing. He is said to be living in Opelousas.
If anyone has any information or comes into contact with Shane Ceasar is asked to contact the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office Investigations Division at 337-363-2161.
All callers will remain anonymous.
The Ville Platte Rotary Club held its annual installation of officer’s banquet Tuesday night at Café Evangeline.
Chosen as Rotarian of the Year was Dr. Jerry Veillon.
Incoming Rotary District Governor Yvonne Normand installed the new officers: President-Nicole Wenger; Incoming President Peter Strawitz; Vice President –Michael Lemoine; Secretary-Susan Saunders; Treasurer-Vic Slaven; Sgt. at Arms-Dr. Jerry Veillon; Board members-Annette Johnson, Larry Lachney, Jimmy Leblanc, Wayne Vidrine and Dr. Joey Soileau.
The outgoing club President Peter Strawitz reviewed the past year and the various projects the local club was involved in. Club Secretary Susan Saunders was honored with a first place award for Newsletter and bulletins in District #6200 for her email messages to club members.
Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office Reports Fugitives Captured in Allen Parish
Evangeline Parish Sheriff Eddie Soileau, has released the following:
Pine Prairie, LA ---The inmates who escaped from the GEO facility in Pine Prairie earlier this morning has reportedly been captured.
Kelman Bejarano-Batiz and Wilmer Alexander Ramirez-Espana escaped Sunday morning from the local GEO facility in Pine Prairie, LA. Both escapees were captured in Oakdale, LA (Allen Parish) at a convenience store.
Batiz and Ramirez-Espana will be brought back to the GEO Facility, where they will face charges of Simple Escape and possibly other charges.
Batiz original charge was for a DUI conviction in April. Ramirea-Espana was for a minor traffic violation which was picked up by Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office.
The investigation is still ongoing.
The Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the following departments for their assistance: Louisiana State Police, Angola Prison Chase Team (Louisiana State Prison), Allen Parish Sheriff’s Office, Oakdale Police Department, Eunice Police Department, Pine Prairie Police Department and the employees and staff of the Pine Prairie Correctional Center.
Chief Neal Lartigue Reports one arrest for identity theft.
On June 6, 2019 the Ville Platte Police Department responded to report of theft at a law office on West Main Street in Ville Platte. According to the report a former employee had used the personal credit card of the business owner as well as company cards to make personal purchases, draft her bills and pay bills. According to the report over $30,000.00 was taken during her time employed at the law firm.
Danyelle Brignac 34 of 1300 Maggio Rd., Ville Platte was arrested for one count of felony identity theft and one count of felony theft. Brignac was booked into the Ville Platte City Jail and was transferred to the Evangeline Parish Jail on a $50,000.00 bond. No photo was available at press time.
Chief Lartigue reminds residents to report any suspicious or illegal activity to the Ville Platte Police Department by calling 363-1313. Your call will remain anonymous.
It was a mix of good news and bad news at Monday’s Evangeline Parish Police Police Jury Meeting held at the courthouse.
Good news from Secretary Treasurer Donald Bergeron that the 2 percent sales tax collection improved considerably in May over the same period a year ago. Bergeron said taxes increased by some $72,000 over May of last year.
Bad news in the form of bid quotations to repair the Courthouse Air Conditioner water cool system came in over budget according to Parish Engineer Ronnie Landreneau. He said the lowest quote came in at $145,882 to replace the broken water lines. The jury voted to re-advertise the work for an additional few weeks in area journals.
The police jury approved using the $11,000 in block grant funding to expand the number of sewer hookups at the parish owned Crooked Creek Recreation Park. Currently there 50 complete camping sites with complete sewer hookups. The park has a total of 140 campsites. Also, the jury appointed Whitney Causey at the park replacing a worker who resigned.
In a report given to the police jury, the firm that handles the building code inspections in the parish, the Kisatchie Delta Regional Code Compliance Office had some interesting statistics. During the period of January through May, there were 40 new residential homes and 41 new manufactured homes. The total development in new investments amounted to $9.5 million dollars.
In other action the police jury:
Approved the placing of the renewal millage tax election for the St. Landry-Evangeline Parish Duralde Gravity Drainage District #9 for November 16;
--Endorsed a resolution supporting a request to do a study to construct additional flood gates on Bayou Courtableu;
--approved the naming of the Ville Platte Gazette as the jury’s legal journal.
Ville Platte City Council
May 28, 2019
A packed overflow crowd of citizens and business people jammed the Ville Platte City Council meeting room all the way into the outer hallway to voice their concerns and displeasure with a proposed ordinance to raise utility rates on gas, water and sewer by a considerable amount.
In the end after more than two hours, the City Council approved tabling a revised recommendation that would have phased in the much higher rates over a two year period. Instead, council members agreed to ask its specialist to go back to the drawing board and extend the increases over a three year period. Also, the council plans to get feed back from members of the community and groups over the revised proposal.
Mayor Jennifer Vidrine at times had to slam her gavel several times to get order in the meeting room and threatened at least concerned citizen to have the police escort him out of the meeting room.
John Mayeaux, the special bonding consultant, showed a slide presentation at the beginning of the public hearing and said “We heard from you. We will plan to phase in the increases over a two year period”. He blamed the problem on not have having any utility rate increases over a 20 year period. He showed references where cities like New Orleans had a phased in rate increase while cities like Youngsville and Pine Ville had an immediate increase. Youngsville increased their rates by 50 percent. His report to the council Tuesday recommended the average residential customer will see a 31 percent increase over 2 years while the average commercial customer will see their utility bills jump by 48 percent.
City Attorney Eric Lafleur said it is “painful” for both customers and for the city council to go with a rate hike. The consultant in his research found there were 22 rate classifications for city customers. In other words some customers were treated better than others. That has been corrected.
Most residents complained that the city has many poverty level families on fixed incomes that will not be able to pay the increase costs for their utility bills with the city.
Renee Brown, representing the Evangeline Chamber of Commerce said the business community had problems with the proposal. She asked that chamber members be able to sit in and help formulate a new rate structure for all customers. She said “We just want to work together as a team.”
Jay Gielow, of Café Evangeline said he was concerned with a lack of transparency by the city council. “The final numbers should be released to the public and the news media before coming to a meeting so everyone can look over them”.
Andy Poche’ of Healthworks Rehab recommended the city council appoint a committee of residents representing business, industry and residents to work together and come up with a solution.
In other action, the city council adopted a new ordinance turning utility customers with delinquent bills of more than two months over to a collection agency. The agency will be able to assess a 25 percent collection fee on these past due customers.
The Ville Platte City Council Tuesday approved introducing an ordinance to raise all of its utility rates by an average of 35% for customers of city water, gas and sewer. The rate increase will be for residential, commercial and industrial customers. A public hearing will be held Tuesday May 28 at 4;45pm at City Hall followed by a special meeting to vote on the ordinance. Mayor Jennifer Vidrine said the city has not had a rate increase for the past 20 years. The city is being forced to raise its rates by its bond holders. The city’s Bond and Finance Manager reported that the city must be able to sustain itself and show a profit. Mayor Jennifer Vidrine said this has been a hard decision for the city to make. “We have to do it but we will be able to have more city services for city residents with the additional funding, “said the mayor.
Also the city introduced an ordinance to take action on past due accounts. The ordinance calls for customer accounts who are past due in paying their utility bills for two months or more will be turned over to a collection agency. The city has over $300,000 in delinquent bills. The public hearing is set for Tuesday May 28 at 4;30pm with a special meeting following to adopt the ordinance.
In other action the city council:
-received demonstrations from representatives of the Louisiana Municipal and Technical Services of the La Municipal Association. The reps showed the city council how city officials can keep track on all of the new 17 city trucks to be more efficient and accountable to local residents. The group also announced they can help the city try to control over grown properties.
-a group calling themselves “Neighborhood Resident” from the South side asked the city council’s help in problems with street lighting and drainage problems. Mayor Jennifer Vidrine reported that there will be funding for additional lighting and additional street signs and stop signs in the new city budget;
-the city council approved rolling up the millage tax rates for the 2019 tax year to avoid losing some $16,000. Property owners will see a slight 40 cent to 60 cent per property increase.
Tornado strikes Ville Platte and Evangeline Parish
May 19, 2019
Early Sunday, a thunderstorm came through Ville Platte and Evangeline Parish bringing a tornado or tornado force winds causing major damage to trees, power lines and poles, homes and businesses. The storm caused the most damage in the immediate Ville Platte area causing large trees and power poles to snap or fall over. Billboards, sheds, gasoline pump canopys were torn apart. A part of Main street near Evangeline Bank was closed for most of the day Sunday. Most homes and businesses were without electricity. At the height of the power failure, Cleco recorded some 6000 customers, half of all customers who were without electricity in the state were located in Evangeline Parish. That power failure had dropped to 2500 by 6:00pm. Cleco was due to continue working until 10:00pm.
Ville Platte Mayor Mayor Jennifer Vidrine, after consultation with emergency officials declared a state of emergency and a curfew until 7:00am Monday. She urged residents to stay off the streets because of the danger of live power lines down in many of the city streets. Extra police and law enforcement officials will be on patrol during the curfew hours.
There were reports of major damage in the Lanse Meg area where a home was blown off its blocks on to a highway. Also damage in the Tate Cove area and Point Blue area.
KVPI had no power at the studios on LaSalle and at the transmitter so KVPI FM 92.5 remained on emergency generator power throughout the day until power was restored late Sunday afternoon. KVPI AM was off the air all day after some electronic equipment was damaged by a lightning strike. KVPI AM is back on the air.
It was reported by Mayor Jennifer that there will be no school in Ville Platte Monday. However city hall will be open for those needing any assistance.
You are invited to listen to KVPI La Tasse de Café where we will have Meteorologist Marty Mayeaux with the National Weather Service office in Shreveport. Mayoeaux, former resident of Ville Platte, will share with our listeners radar information about the weather system that struck our area Sunday morning.
KVPI listeners are invited to call us Monday to report if your office or business will be closed. We will glad to report the closures as a public service.
The City of Ville Platte is under a state of emergency and under a curfew following widespread damage following an early morning tornado touch down. Ville Platte Mayor Jennifer Vidrine told KVPI News that t there are power lines, power poles and wide spread power outages all over the city. Homes and businesses have been damaged. No one apparently was injured. Authorites are urging residents to stay off the streets whole emergency crews assess the damage and attempt to restore power.
Smoked Meat Festival
May 18, 2019
The 2019 Louisiana Smoked Meat Festival took place this weekend after an absence of one year and the public packed the Ville Platte Civic Center Grand Pavilion Friday night and all day Saturday. The festival debuted in 1993 by the Evangeline Parish Chapter of the Viet Nam Veterans of America and is now under the direction of Le Viande Boucanne organization.
The Opening Ceremony took place at noon Saturday to recognize and honor all veterans. Emcee was Clerk of Court Randy Deshotel. The 2019 Francis Reed Distinguished Smoker award went to Mickey Johnson of Cameron. The Classic Hits 92.5 KVPI road crew was there broadcasting live during the opening ceremony for listeners who could not attend in person. V.V.A. Chapter President J.D. Soileau shared a history of the festival with those in attendance.
Festival goers, near and far, enjoyed music by One Trick Pony, Clay Cormier, DJ Todd Ortego, Ashton Dupre and Side Show.
One of the highlights is the world championship smoked meat cookoff where professional and amateur groups cook up delicious smoked meat dishes. Special outside judges had a hard time deciding on the winners.
Here are the winners in this year’s World Championship Smoked Meat Cookoff:
Grand Champion Winner in the Professional Category: Teet’s Team #2 with head chef Luke Deville for their winning dish “Duck Bombs”.
Grand Champion Winner in the Amateur Category: Evangeline Bank Team 2 with Head Chef Beth Jones for their dish” Not Ya Mama’s Mac n Cheese”.
Here are all the winners:
Best Dressed Team: First Place- Shumberger/Cameron; Second Place- Evangeline Bank; Third Place-Pass a Lick/Howie’s Kajun Seasoning;
Best Decorated Booth: First Place- Evangeline Bank; Second Place- Jamie Fontenot; Third Place- Charles Guillory; Honorable Mention-Casa Helping People;
Sausage, Andouille, Pounce Category: First Place- Shlumberger/Cameron; Second Place- Charles Guillory; Third Place- Team Sauce;
Tasso Category- First Place- Schlumberger/Cameron; Second Place- Cajun Grillerz; Third Place- Evangeline Bank Team 1;
Smoked Seafood Category: First Place- Evangeline Bank Team 2; Second Place- Martinique Cookers; Third Place- Crest Industries;
Smoked Poultry Category: First Place- Crest Industries; Second Place- Cajun Grillerz; Third Place- Martinique Cookers;
Smoked Game Category: First Place: Martinique Cookers; Second Place- Schlumberger/Cameron; Third Place- Mercy Regional Medical Center;
Barbecue/Smoker Category: First Place- Team Sauce; Second Place-Crest Industries; Third Place-Martinique Cookers;;
In the Professional Division:
Sausage, Andouille, Pounce Category: First Place- Teets Team 2-;Second Place- Pass-a-Lick; Third Place-Teets Team 1;
Tasso Category: First Place: Big D’s Smoke House; Second Place- Pass a Lick Kajun Seasoning; Third Place- Teets Team 1;
Smoked Seafood Category: First Place: Teets Team 1
Smoked Poultry Category: First Place: Teets Team 2; Second Place- Pass a Lick Kajun Seasoning; Third Place- Big Mamou Cajun Beef Jerky;
Smoked Game Category: First Place: Teet’s Team 2;
Barbecue/Smoker Category: First Place- Teet’s Team 1; Second Place-Bid D’s Smokehouse; Third Place: Pass a Lick Kajun Seasoning.
Elizabeth “Libby” Coffin was the guest speaker at today’s (Tuesday) meeting of the Ville Platte Rotary Club at the Family Life Center. Libby is a former resident of Ville Platte and a graduate of Sacred Heart High School. She was introduced by her mother, Rotarian Barbara Buroker. She explained club members her role as a registered lobbyist for United Technologies. United Technologies is responsible for military equipment for the U.S. Defense Department, elevators and the home of Carrier Air Conditioning systems. Libby graduated from Loyola University with a political science degree and later received her law degree. She worked for some time with the Louisiana Dept. of Revenues as a Tax attorney. She received an advance degree from Georgetown University in 2011 and went to work in the U.S. Tax Court. Also, she worked with Congressman Jim McCrery as an aide to the Congressman. As a lobbyist, she works for United Technologies as Vice President in Global Tax Policy. She deals with issues and bills that may impact her company through lobbying members of Congress and their staffs. In other business, it was announced that all three students attending Camp Rylla in Westwego will receive a Rotary scholarship from the local club because of their outstanding school performance records. Also club members were reminded the annual installation of new officers will be held June 11 at Café Evangeline.
Sheriff Eddie Soileau, of the Evangeline Parish Sheriff=s Office has released the following:
On April 4, 2019 Evangeline Parish Sheriff=s Office Dispatchers received multiple calls from unknown callers stating that there was a bomb located in the courthouse. The threat came on a day that criminal court was being held, which caused the entire courthouse to be evacuated immediately.
Upon resuming normal courthouse routine, Detective Tommy Gallow with the Evangeline Parish Sheriff=s Office immediately began investigating the incident. He was able to receive assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigations to trace the call.
He received an anonymous tip which led to the ultimate arrest of Christopher James Strotter Johnson and Justin Derek Clark. Christopher Johnson was arrested, charged, and bonded out on Criminal Mischief. His bond was set at $50,000.00 by 13th Judicial Judge West. Justin Clark was already incarcerated in another facility and is being charged with Terrorizing. His bond was set at $50,000.00 by 13th Judicial Judge Ortego.
Evangeline Parish Sheriff=s Office would like to thank the Evangeline Parish District Attorney=s Office, Ville Platte Fire Department, Ville Platte Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations for their assistance. We would like to also thank the public for their assistance with anonymous tips.
The Rotary Club of Ville Platte Tuesday heard from Club President Peter Strawitz share his recent meeting attending a meeting of descendants of the Orphan Train. He said his grandfather arrived from New York on the Orphan Train in Marksville in 1905 to be adopted by the Coco family. Many years later, the grandfather visited the foundling hospital and found his real name was Strawitz. He later changed his name to his birth name.
The Orphan Trains brought orphans from New York to new homes down south and out west. It began in 1854 and ended in 1929. Overall, some 250,000 children from 14 months old to 14 years old were sent on these trains. Strawitz said there are only two Orphan Train museums in the country: in Opelousas and a second one in Kansas. It was reported that a number of families in the Ville Platte area have relatives who were relocated here by way of the Orphan Trains. Strawitz was the guest speaker of Rotarian Ronnie Landreneau.
Also speaking was Theresa Jetters of Slidell, a foster parent who will be heading up a conference on Foster Children planned to take place soon at the Hotel Cazan in Mamou.
Rotarians Wayne Vidrine and Nicole Wenger reported on the selection of local high school students who will be attending the summer youth camp at Camp Rylla near Westwego. The students are: Gabrielle Fontenot from Sacred Heart and McKenzie McLinton from Ville Platte High who each won a Rotary Club scholarship and Kalaya Guillory from Ville Platte High who will also attend the summer youth camp June 6-9 paid for by the Rotary Club.
The Ville Platte Rotary Club heard from Dr. Gwen Fontenot, retired Dean from the University of Louisiana School of Business. She was introduced by Mark Suellentrop, Cabot Plant manager to discuss the Evangeline Parish Foundation.
Dr. Fontenot, is a native of Evangeline Parish and since her retirement, has moved back home. She along with Suellentrop, Anita Fontenot and Leonard Fontenot are among members that serve on the newly formed Evangeline Parish Foundation. Some two years ago, Investar Bank made a $50,000 grant toward the foundation. The goal of the foundation is to raise a million dollars and the earnings from that money will be given out to help groups and individuals in grant funding .
Cabot has awarded $1000 in seed money toward a special education fund and is challenging businesses, groups and individuals to match or make a donation toward this education fund to help our local parish schools. The goal is to reach $250,000. The five percent in earnings will be given in grant scholarships.
Fontenot stated” We want to improve the quality of life in Evangeline Parish. Our graduates are leaving this parish for good paying jobs elsewhere. We need them to stay here.”
She said “The people of Evangeline Parish are among the most generous and passionate people and are generous with their resources for projects they believe in.” She said “We give to our favorite charities and we sponsor events like youth baseball.”
“Philanthropy is not just for the wealthy. You are making an investment into something your business believes in,” she said.
Rotary Club President Peter Strawitz reported that the Ville Platte club has tied with the much larger Gonzales Rotary club in having the biggest increase in new members in the rotary district with seven new members this year.
Strawitz announced that the local club will be cooking pork sandwiches this weekend at the Grand Hoorah Folk Roots festival at Chicot State Park.
The Ville Platte Rotary Club today (Tuesday) heard from guest speaker Camille Fontenot, Outreach Director for the Cazan Hotel in Mamou. She gave a brief history of the hotel. The building was originally constructed at the turn of the 20th Century , first as a bank and later as a hotel. Former Evangeline Parish Clerk of Court and Sheriff Frank “Cazan” Fontenot purchased the building and turned it into a hotel.
The current owner, Valerie Cahill, turned the building into a 17 room boutique hotel in 2015. She said the hotel is considered haunted as several people who spent the night there have seen and heard strange and unusual things.
The hotel has held a number of private parties and gatherings including wedding and bachelor parties. Fontenot said the facility was even rented out for use as a funeral.
There have been conferences held there to help solve missing persons including information on the disappearance of Mamou resident Alice Reeves who went missing in 1967.
The hotel has held Fiddle festivals and even a Ponce festival. Among the events planned for this summer are a Crawfish and Rice Festival and a Jeep festival.
Club President Peter Strawitz announced that the Rotary club will have a cooking booth at the Grand Hoorah Folk Roots festival on May 4 at Chicot State Park.
Rotary Club Hears from Schlumberger Officials
April 16, 2019
The Ville Platte Rotary Club today (Tuesday) heard from officials from Schlumberger at their noon luncheon.
Club Members John Mayeaux was in charge of the program and his special guests were local plant manager Billy Fontenot and Abby Landreneau, Human Resources Manager.
Fontenot, a native of Ville Platte, has been with the company for 22 years . The local Cameron facility primarily manufactures ball valves for the oil and gas industry from 2 inch to 42 inches. The largest department, manufacturing, employs 258 people,
Local real estate agent Charles Buller played a big part in having the facility relocate to Ville Platte in 1983. Through the years and its owners, the plant has under gone several name changes from Cooper to Cooper Oil Tools, Cameron and now Schlumberger.
The local Ville Platte plant has 225,000 square feet of manufacturing area while another 100,000 square feet of storage warehouse area. The plant works closely with two firms that are located on site to save on transportation costs: Ville Platte Iron Works and QAP Plating.
The firm has 420 employees working two shifts Monday through Friday. Landreneau said the facility has an on site gym/wellness center for its employees. She said 60 percent of the entire work force live in Evangeline Parish. Some 100 plus employees have 25 or more years with the company.
The two discussed the recent reduction in work force. Fontenot blamed it on the downturn in the market. “Due to the unpredictability of the markets, it resulted in a reduction. We have to stay competitive in the market.”.
In other business, Mark Suellentrop of Cabot Corporation reported on the recent “Choices program” presentation at local schools last week. The class presented by club members reached 349 students over a two day period at three local schools. In the six years, the club has been sponsoring this program, over 1000 students have gone through the program to urge students to make good choices and
The Evangeline Parish Chamber of Commerce held their Business after Hours meet-and-greet yesterday (Tuesday) evening at Café Evangeline on Main Street in Ville Platte. Evangeline Back & Trust Co. was the sponsor, and they provided appetizers and cocktails. Bank president, Randy Chapman, said, with regards to the recent accomplishments of the Chamber, “we see a lot of good things happening, [we’re] seeing a lot of new ideas.”
Chamber Director, Renee Brown, said that after only two cleanup days, Mamou is about to do their first cleanup next month. Cabot is also looking to take on the Tate Cove Road from Cabot to the Y-Not Stop. Cleco is also joining the cleanup. She said, “After only two cleanup days, it’s starting to make a shift in our entire parish, and we are so fired up about that.” Cleanup days are once per month. Interested volunteers can call the Chamber to sign up. She reminded members that the Ville Platte Farmer’s Market is Thursday from 3:00-6:00 PM, and a Christian group will be performing in observation of Easter Week. Brown reminded everyone that nominations for board members are due in May, with voting in June. She announced the annual Awards & Membership Banquet is scheduled for Tuesday, August 27th.
Chamber president, Luke Deville, said when they switched from the Ville Platte Chamber to the Evangeline Parish Chamber, they gained 45 new members, 20% coming from outside of Ville Platte; they include Mamou, Pine Prairie and Turkey Creek. He said he feels the chamber “is going in the right direction.”
Peter Strawitz, Vice President/President-Elect, congratulated Luke Deville on a job well done. He said for the next year he’d like to see continuity, to see the governmental affairs committee go to all villages and towns, to their council meetings, to ask them how the Chamber can be an advocate for them. He’d like to continue the relationship they’ve forged in the political realm so that good projects can come their way. He added, “You never know what company or industry is in town. […] Pride of ownership is everything.” He asked for anyone who has residential or commercial property to take care of them; cut the grass and pick up the trash. He asked the Chamber to consider coming together with little town meetings to set goals for where they would like to be in a year, three years, and five years.
Ville Platte Police Chief Neal Lartigue reports one suspect arrested for first degree murder and numerous other charges.
On Sunday April 7, 2019 at approximately 5:10 p.m. officers with the Ville Platte Police Department responded to a report of shots fired in the 700 block of East Wilson Street. Upon arrival , shots were fired in the direction of the Police Officers with one bullet striking a Police unit. Officers called for assistance and began blocking off the area to protect citizens.
Units from the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office, Louisiana State Police, Pine Prairie Police Department and Chataignier Police Department responded to assist. Officers learned that a white male had been shot and had left the scene to seek medical treatment.
The suspect continued shooting towards Officers on the scene and Officers from multiple agencies returned fire. After a standoff the suspect surrendered and was taken into custody shortly after 7:00 p.m.
Detectives and Officers located the body of a 21 year old female identified as Rene Williams in the back yard of the residence with multiple gunshot wounds. Miss Williams pronounced dead at the scene.
The white male was treated at a hospital Lafayette and according to a recent update, is in stable condition after surgery. He has been identified as James Macias 30, of Judy Street in Ville Platte.
Arrested was Davonte Marquis Ardoin, 25 of 706 East Wilson Street. Ardoin was booked into the Ville Platte City Jail on one count of first degree murder, one count of attempted murder, one count of aggravated assault on a Police Officer, one count of criminal damage to property, one count of false imprisonment with a firearm and one count of illegal use of a weapon or dangerous instrument. Ardoin’s bond was set at $ 1,390,000.00.
Chief Neal Lartigue thanks the agencies for their fast response and assistance in this incident.
The Rotary Club of Ville Platte today (Tuesday) heard from the Evangeline Parish Public School Teachers of the Year and Principal of the Year honorees.
Superintendent of Schools Darwan Lazard, the Rotarian in charge of the program introduced the guests: Nicholas Jagneaux, High School Teacher of the Year from Ville Platte High; Lisa Jack, Middle School Teacher of the Year from Vidrine Elementary and Sarah Bergeron , Elementary Teacher of the Year from James Stephens Montessori school and Melanie Miller, Principal of the Year, of Ville Platte High School.
Also speaking was Supervisor Grace Sibley who is charge of the Teacher of the Year program.
Club members viewed a video presentation on the honorees. Ville Platte High Principal Melanie Miller shared some interesting facts about the school: the graduation rates has dramatically increased, ACT rates have jumped and the suspension rate has dropped from 44 percent to 9 percent. She said “Our students are achieving.” The school has special classes in pre engineering, art, digital and music.
In other business, the rotary club:
--will be cooking at the Grand Hoorah Festival May 4 at Chicot State Park;
--received news that the Spring Social will be April 9 at Pine Prairie Energy Center in Easton. Club members will be taken on a bus tour of the facility and be treated to a BBQ meal.
--was notified that 16 volunteer club members will be teaching the “Choices” program to 15 classes of 8th grade students on April 8 and 9 in parish schools.
The Ville Platte City Council met Tuesday evening. Todd Abshire with the Louisiana Rural Water Association addressed the council with information about water utility rates. He has been conducting a rate study for Ville Platte. He stressed the importance of sustainability, saying that the water system needs to make 10% above revenue be sustainable. He also urged maintaining water safety and reminded the council and the citizens that it is illegal to give anyone a break on their water bill. It is against the state constitution to forgive a water bill or to not disconnect customers. It is also a felony for anyone to tamper with utility meters. He suggested replacing the old meters with smart meters. Mayor Jennifer Vidrine said the water rates will go up, but they are not sure just yet how much they will go up. Several citizens voiced their concerns, with one citizen drawing the ire of the council by suggesting that they are overpaid. He said the council could cut their salaries instead of making cuts to the police department. He added, “The council needs to start thinking about the people instead of thinking about themselves.” Councilman Mike Perron said, “Do you think we, in our hearts, want to do that to the people? […] We are mandated to change the rates.” Councilman Bryant Riggs took issue with the citizen’s claim that the council is paid too much, and added that the police department had no need for four detectives when two detectives could be doing patrol. At one point, Riggs left the speakers stand to retrieve paperwork to show the citizen a breakdown of his salary. Another citizen stood up and raised his voice to the council shouting, “We need to look at our priorities in Ville Platte. […] Services that need to be rendered for the common good that aren’t being rendered like it should be because there’s no more accountability! There is lack of maintenance in this town. Nobody wants to work! Now, anybody wants to say something about that?!” At one point, Councilwoman Faye Lemoine said, “We could all give our salaries back to the city and it still wouldn’t be the 10% we need to sustain our water.” The water rate discussion lasted nearly an hour. Mayor Vidrine said they asked Abshire there to explain why an increase in rates is needed. She said when the rate study is complete, an ordinance will be introduced and the public will have a chance to voice their concerns at that time.
In other business, Todd Morein addressed the council to ask if they had agreed on a price to charge him to put equipment on the three water towers in order to provide a new internet service. The council said the price would be $300 per equipment per tower for a total cost of $900 per month. Morein said the price should be much lower because it’s a service provided to the public. Councilman Eric LaFleur said they can use a formula to lower that cost according to volume of business.
In other action:
• Mayor Vidrine announced the city is working with the police jury to continue work on blighted properties.
• The council approved a liquor permit for the Louisiana Smoked Meat Festival which will be held May 17th and 18th this year.
• They also approved a liquor permit for the Evangeline Parish Chamber of Commerce banquet, which will be held either next month of September.
City Engineer, Ronnie Landreneau, said the fire department should get credit for lowering their rating from a 3 to a 2 which is excellent. Because of this, homeowner and business owner insurance premiums will be lower.