Citizens ask for paved roads: Council hears from disgruntled locals during meeting

Published 7:00 am Friday, April 8, 2016

The Bogalusa City Council met for a routine meeting Tuesday, where the board passed a resolution and introduced an ordinance.

At the top of the meeting, Council President Sherry Fortenberry read an apology from Mayor Wendy Perrette who could not attend the meeting, and Fortenberry explained councilman Teddy Drummond was working and could not attend. Councilman Doug Ritchie was also absent.

The council then handled property condemnations, and Judge Robert J. Black presented only one property to be condemned as hazardous to public health, a piece of property at 537 Caston Ave. The property is owned by Ricard and Summer Allen, and Summer explained to the council that she and Ricard had only recently acquired the property and they were planning to demolish the structure on the land anyway.

“We do feel that it needs to be condemned, but due to the flood, the contractors we hired haven’t been able to get there yet, but we are in the process of tearing it down,” she said.

She explained she and Ricard got the property through an inheritance.

“We have no intention of building on the property. We just want to tear the building down,” she said.

She couldn’t give an estimate on how long the contractor would take to tear the building down, and councilman Brian McCree made a motion to give her 90 days.

“I know Miss Summer, and I’m sure they’ll get right on that,” he said.

The council then passed a resolution proclaiming April as “safe digging” month and they introduced an ordinance from Vice President Tamira Smith that will authorize the mayor to enter into a contract with the successful bidder for the addition of a freezer in the Salvage Store at 209 Industrial Park.

Then the council took public comments. Warren Bowles Jr. was listed to speak but was absent. Patricia Keller then spoke to the council and asked how much some the proposed overlay projects around Verrett Street will cost the city. Smith said there’s not been an estimate done yet for the cost of the work, but the city is expected to pay for it through a grant.

Fortenberry said the mayor might be a better source of information, and suggested Keller return later in the month.

“We don’t have those numbers, and the mayor’s not here tonight but maybe that can be asked on April 19, when the mayor is here,” Fortenberry said.

Following that, Fate Ferrell got up to speak. Fortenberry said he wasn’t on the list to speak, but Ferrell suggested the city should get rid of that requirement because the parish doesn’t have such a requirement.

“We got freedom of speech; we want democracy in Bogalusa,” he said.

Ferrell said he was also concerned that certain streets in Bogalusa are getting paved before other streets because of their location. In addition, Ferrell said Martin Luther King needed to be paved and fixed because it is named after an important historic leader.

“How can you tear up streets like Martin Luther King and others and then just leave them,” he asked.

He went on to criticize the board, alleging they violated laws when they passed the recent ordinance that allowed CivicSource to sell tax distressed properties in Bogalusa.

“You all violated the laws a few weeks ago,” he said. “On this CivicSource deal, you violated the laws. You really did. This is just going to be like Chrystal City, Texas. Everyone went down, except for one council person.”

In February, the FBI arrested city officials in Chrystal City and alleged they took tens of thousands in bribes from an illegal gambling operator.

“When you all go to jail,” Ferrell said, “I am going to say, ‘I told you all.’”

Later in the meeting, Smith announced she was selling $2 raffle tickets to rebuild Cassidy Park.

McCree said he agreed with Ferrell that Martin Luther King needed to be overlayed soon.

“Just to disregard these streets to fix other streets, it’s not fair,” he said. “Let’s fix some streets on this side of the railroad tracks for a change.”

McCree’s comment received a round of applause from some in the audience.

Finally, Fortenberry closed the meeting by urging anyone from the public who would like to speak to have something positive to say.

She also praised Drummond and the JROTC students who cleaned up the City Hall grounds on Saturday and she encouraged everyone to volunteer to clean up the city.