Citizens show gratitude to city leaders

Published 8:24 am Friday, May 8, 2015

In one of the most upbeat Bogalusa City Council meetings in quite some time, on Tuesday members of the public thanked city government leaders for various actions around town.

At least seven speakers from the community expressed their gratitude for one reason or another. Susan Williams thanked the Public Works Department for fixing the pothole in front of her home while Mary Distefano commended the Fire Department for assisting a handicapped man who had fallen out of bed. Joel Miller volunteered to put address numbers on homes of the elderly. Lyn Stewart, who owns Banana Sue’s in the Park, said she just wanted to introduce herself and said she would like to do volunteer work with children.

However, Angelo Pepe and Lorraine Bourn addressed the Council on more serious notes. Pepe once again brought up what he alleged to be violations of the city charter.

“I have found 11 violations committed by the former mayor and former City Council,” Pepe said. “I met with Mayor Wendy Perrette and City Council Attorney Dale Branch together. I gave the new District Attorney Warren Montgomery my list, and I am to meet with an assistant district attorney in the next week or so.”

Branch responded to Pepe’s assertions.

“We did meet on more than one occasion,” Branch said. “I looked at the City Charter. In my opinion, none of these code violation instances he’s talking about is a violation now or ever has been a violation. I don’t think there has been a violation now or in the past.”

Perrette did not attend the meeting.

Current Washington Parish Library System volunteer and former Cassidy Park Museums Director Lorraine Bourn said in a prepared statement she was troubled by the city’s doing away with the Main Street Program.

“I was distraught when I read that the Main Street Program was cut. I was further troubled by the fact that I heard no more about it from our city leaders. To address our deficit, cuts are needed as well as programs to bring in added revenue. Why cut our economic development program that is working toward fixing our deficit?” the statement said.

Bourn questioned the overall cost of the Main Street Program.

“The figure given in the paper as to the cost of the program was approximately $85,000,” the statement continued. “I requested financial records, reviewed them, and in no way can I come anywhere near that figure as to the cost. What wasn’t considered is that the Main Street Program generated more than $45,000 for the city to cover the cost of the program. Some of the cost taken on by the program, such as lighting on Columbia Street, trees and Shop Local banners, were things for which the city was responsible.”

The statement went on to talk about the 12 new businesses still operating on Columbia Street and the area’s renewed vitality. It went on to request the Council find a way to fund the Main Street Program.

Marvin Austin Sr. said he wanted to find ways for area youth to find summer employment.

“I’m asking you to look into the budget and general fund. How much did these departments have left over from last year? We need to put our young people to work.” Austin told the Council.

The Council accepted a resolution to adopt the Louisiana Compliance Questionnaire. A resolution to rescind the Cumberland Street Bridge Share-Use Path Crossing for a pathway was accepted. Councilwoman Malinda White said the lack of $348,479 to fund the project killed it.

Council members accepted an ordinance to hire Byron Stewart Consulting Firm for grants and business and legislative matters.

Also, an ordinance to close the remaining alleyway in the 400 block between Superior and Ontario avenues was accepted.

Three ordinances were introduced. The public will have an opportunity to speak on the ordinances at the May 19 meeting.

The first ordinance is to set ad valorem tax rates at 47.89 mills.

Another ordinance authorizes a rental agreement for the Milltown Players Building.

The final ordinance authorizes the city to contract with ARE Consultants for a partial parallel taxiway at the Carr Airport.

District A Councilwoman Gloria Kates reported last weekend’s Cleanup Day in her district was successful. She said a total of 49 volunteers worked to clean up trash throughout the district. She noted striping and reflectors had been placed at the Poplas Street Bridge prior to the cleanup.

“Remember this is an ongoing task to keep our neighborhoods and Bogalusa clean,” Kates said.

Other council members took note.

“Councilwoman Kates is a very good example to all of us,” Malinda White said.

Kates asked citizens to report any litterers they see. She said they can call the Litterbug Hotline at 1-888-548-7284 to do so.