In brief meeting, city council OK’s grant for airport

Published 7:00 am Friday, February 5, 2016

The Bogalusa City Council met for a quick, routine meeting Tuesday evening. The council quickly approved two proposed ordinances which will be discussed at the next meeting and the council also approved a resolution to authorize Mayor Wendy Perrette to sign a grant agreement with the state’s Department of Transportation and Development for a state project at the George R. Carr Memorial Airport.

“This is for equipment to upgrade the AWOS (Automated Weather Observing System) system, which tells you how high the clouds are. So it aids you in flying,” councilman Doug Ritchie said.

Councilwoman Gloria Kates asked about the project, and Ritchie assured her it would improve the airport for pilots.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve flown, but it does make it safer for flying,” said Ritchie.

The grant requires no money from the city and is for $31,757.24.

One of the two ordinances the council agreed to discuss next week involves an adjudicated property program. These programs typically help cities or other governments in selling delinquent property to interested buyers and getting it back onto the tax rolls.

The ordinance was introduced by Teddy Drummond.

The other ordinance was introduced by Kates, and it seeks to amend an agreement between the Louisiana Department of Safety and Corrections and the city.

Both of the ordinances will be voted on and discussed at the next city council meeting.

During the public participation portion of the meeting, Foots Quinn addressed litter. Specifically, he suggested adding a tax to plastic foam, commonly known by its brand name, Styrofoam, so such products would cost the same as paper products.

“If we, or the state, put a surcharge on Styrofoam, then maybe we could reduce its use and level the playing field somewhat,” he said.

Quinn said plastic foam products often litter the community, they don’t break down for years and they wind up in waterways. Quinn also suggested that local law enforcement do a better job enforcing litter laws.

“It’s hard to catch litterbugs, but it’s hard to catch people not wearing a seatbelt, but they seem to catch those people pretty easily,” he said.

After Quinn spoke, Fate Farrell addressed the council. Ferrell asked the council to pave Plum Street.

“It’s got some bad holes on it,” he said. “I’d like to see if you could get that resurfaced because its got some bad holes on it.”

Following the public comments, Chief Richard Moody of the fire department reported his department’s statistics from January. In that month, he said firefighters responded to two structure fires, two grass fires, three vehicle fires, 14 motor vehicle assists, 51 medical assists, nine citizen assists, seven gas/power line incidents, 15 false alarms and one animal rescue for a cat up in a tree.

“We still do that,” Moody said.

After Moody spoke, Police Chief Joe Culpepper gave his department’s statistics.

In January, Bogalusa police responded to 1,218 complaints, made 255 arrests, cited 114 people for misdemeanors, cited 22 people for felonies, made 119 traffic stops, responded to 45 accidents, made 31 escorts and arrested 8 people for DWI. He also provided the yearly statistics for 2015. In that year, officers made 2,500 arrests, worked 566 wrecks, had 13,621 calls, averaging 1,135 per month.

Also, he praised a dozen workers who had not missed a day of work all year.

“I had 12 employees who didn’t take any sick days last year, and I
think that’s awesome considering we’ve had some folks use sick days
just because they’re feeling bad,” he said.

Culpepper also asked residents to pick up litter at the Mardi Gras parade Saturday and to act responsibly.

“We got to remember your neighbor in this,” he said. “This is meant to be family

He also reminded everyone that glass containers are prohibited.

Later in the meeting, Perrette announced a masquerade ball to benefit the firefighters. The ball will be Feb. 13 at Bogalusa Grill and tickets are $25 each. The money will go toward new equipment and it’s being organized by the Firefighters Auxiliary, which consists of the wives of firefighters. The ball will run from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Perrette also announced that the city has paid off its loan from the state. The loan was for $700,000, and the city paid it off a bit early.

“It wasn’t due until March 1,” she said.

Perrette got a round of applause from the council after the announcement.

“We’re moving towards black and we want to stay in the black,” Perrette said to the council. “Slowly but surely, we’re making baby steps, and I want to say thank you for your work on your end.”
After that, the council members each made brief comments, generally wishing for a safe, successful Mardi Gras parade.

However, Ritchie had some comments about speeders.

“On Highway 21, we do have some speed indicator systems put up,” he said. “They’re working most of the time. … I’ve watched people coming down the highway slow down for the indicators and then they’ll take off again. I guess it’s just in that little short section where your supposed to be doing 35. I would ask the chief of police to put an officer there, maybe not writing tickets but at least pulling people over and making people aware of it.”

Ritchie also said he hopes to see everyone out at the town hall meeting he is organizing. That meeting will be at Bogalusa City Hall on Saturday, Feb. 23 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

“My hope is we don’t have a lot of griping and bickering back and forth,” he said. “We need to identify the four-or-five major areas our city needs improvement in and then begin thinking outside the box on how we can get those things done. As everyone knows, were strapped for money, but it’s getting slightly better.”

Finally, Kates said she hopes the adjudicated property ordinance introduced by Drummond can wait until it can be discussed at the Feb. 23 town hall meeting. Kates also said she’d like to hold a clean-up day in her district.

“March 26 is make-your-own-holiday day,” she said. “And I am proposing we do a district a cleanup day that day.”

The next city council meeting will be Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 5:30 p.m.