Voting sites moved

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Two polling stations for the Saturday election to approve or reject funding for the Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center will not be opened due to flooding.

The precinct that would normally vote at the senior center in Bogalusa, 603 Willis Ave., has moved to Superior Avenue School, 625 Superior Ave.

In addition, the precinct that would normally vote at the Lakeview voting building at 1613 Highway 10 East will be moved to the Northshore Technical College, 1710 Sullivan Drive.

All other locations will be open as usual. The voting will begin at 7 a.m. and the polls close at 8 p.m.

The vote is not a vote for a new tax or a tax increase, but if it passes it will continue funding as it exists for the regional juvenile detention facility. The center is funded through a millage collected by five parishes, including Washington, and this vote will approve or reject that tax.

Locally, the district attorney, the Bogalusa city prosecutor, and several judges have come out in favor of the center.

Last month, District Attorney Warren Montgomery said that if the center is closed due to funding shortfalls, then problem juveniles will either be released back into the community until their trial or they will be held in facilities farther away, which can make it harder for their families to visit them.

Even the parish’s two political groups, the Democrats and Republicans, are both urging voters to support the center.

“While the Washington RPEC has not done an official poll of members, all those contacted are in favor of renewing the millage for the Florida Parish’s Juvenile Detention Center, based on the information from judges,” said Darryl Peterson, the Washington Parish Republican Executive Committee chairman. “As fiscal conservatives, we would like transparency as to salaries of administrative personnel, and facility maintenance costs, in comparison with other, similar facilities in the state.

“However, we see no advantage in the expense of having this issue on the ballot again in the next year. So, moving forward, we’d like the facility to stay open in order to make our community more secure and having a close-to-home facility for our problem youth.”

Local Democratic Party leaders also see an advantage in keeping the center open.

“Our position is that the facility is desperately needed to accommodate the challenged youth of our parish,” said Levi Lewis Sr., who is a member of the Washington Parish Democratic Executive Committee and was recently appointed treasurer. Lewis is also a member of the Washington Parish Council.

“The failure to pass the millage would mean that individuals who violate the law and need discipline and training … their needs would be neglected,” he said.

The millage was originally on the ballot in November and failed in all five parishes.

Bogalusa city prosecutor David Merlin Duke, who is also in favor of continuing the millage, said last month at a city school board meeting that older residents who have filed for a homestead exemption can still vote in the election but will not pay the tax.