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City Council members bid farewell

Outgoing Bogalusa City Council members bid their farewells during their final session before the new City Council is seated next month.

District A Councilwoman Penny Williams, District B representative Michael O’Ree and District C Councilwoman Oneita Graham all had heartfelt sentiments during the last council meeting of their term. Danny Stogner, a retired former councilman at-large, read a statement from District E Councilman Randy Hodges, who is battling illness and did not seek re-election, thanking the council for his eight years of service.

City Council Vice President Wendy Perrette assumes the mayor’s office next month.

O’Ree did not seek re-election. His seat will be filled by Tamira Moss-Smith. O’Ree was in his second four-year term.

“I can say I enjoyed most of it,” O’Ree said. “I just thank God for the opportunity to serve the City. God had called me to preach. In my personal opinion, we’re losing the best councilperson in Ms. Graham. If I didn’t know something, I knew she did.”

O’Ree was blunt when said the best way to approach council members to ask for information or share knowledge is to speak to them before the meeting. He said that is a better approach than during the meeting in an attempt to show up the council and embarrassing someone or making them look silly.

“To everyone, if you don’t do anything else, please pray for our city,” he added.

Graham has served two separate terms. She was defeated in the Nov. 4 primary by Brian McCree. She said she will stay in close contact with the city’s business. She began her final remarks with her familiar greeting.

“As always, I would like to thank you for coming to the council meeting and supporting your city,” Graham told the audience. “I still love my city. I’m humbled to have been a servant to this city. I think Mayor Mizell did a wonderful job with the funds he had available. We have laid the foundation for building up Bogalusa.”

Graham also praised City Council Secretary Brenda Ford for her diligence.

“Brenda Ford has always been on top of things,” Graham said. “She is always there for us.”

City Council President Doug Ritchie became emotional when it came to expressing his thoughts to departing council members.

“Mr. O’Ree, I have gained a lot of respect for you. Ms. Oneita, before I took office I was scared to death of you because you knew so much, but you have been nothing but a blessing with all your knowledge. Penny, you have been such a pleasure to be around. “

Williams was defeated by 21 votes in the runoff by Gloria Kates. She also thanked the audience for attending and said she enjoyed working with the other council members during her term.

Perrette said the current council raised the standard.

“This council has worked together the best in my 12 years on the council,” Perrete said. “I hope the new council will learn from us. We definitely raised the bar. I’m looking forward to assisting the council as your next mayor.”

In business matters, the council:

• Unanimously approved an ordinance authorizing the mayor to enter into a contract with low bidder Grady Crawford Construction Co. Inc. for fiscal year 2013 Louisiana Community Development Block Grant Water Distribution System Improvements in the Terrace area. Crawford bid $812,000 for the project.

• Unanimously accepted a resolution authorizing the city to retain Robert A. Neilson as its certified public accountant.

• Accepted a resolution to authorize the city execute an agreement with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development for improvements at the George R. Carr Memorial Airport. Improvement in the drainage system is being examined.

• Unanimously accepted a resolution to authorize the mayor to sign an Intergovernmental Agreement regarding adjudicated properties in the city. The city wants to restore adjudicated properties to the tax rolls through Internet property sales.

• Introduced a resolution to support preparations and submittals for an application for funding through the Local Governmental Assistance Program. The city is applying for a $50,000 grant for community development.

Additionally, an ordinance authorizing the mayor to contract with low bidder D.M. Bass Inc. for Austin Street improvements was tabled. It will be voted on at the Jan. 6, 2015, meeting.

During the public participation segment of the meeting, frequent City Council visitor Fate Farrell said he had some holiday wishes for the city.

“I wish for a change where there will be more black people in management positions,” Farrell said. “I wish we would get Martin Luther King Jr. Drive fixed so it is presentable or rename another street named after him. It is ridiculous. I wish people could be made to paint their homes and clean up their property. I wish we could stop being prejudiced toward one another. It’s time for us to get a grip. People need to be united.”

Mayor Charles Mizell did not attend the meeting.