Concerned citizens ask council about reservoir

Published 6:59 am Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Monday’s parish council meeting was routine and quick, although there was a public hearing 15 minutes prior to the meeting itself.

The public hearing was to gauge public opinion on whether the parish should or should not accept Deer Run Drive as a parish road. However, no one from the public spoke at the hearing and it was closed soon after it opened.

After several minutes of casual conversation, the board then opened the general public meeting and quickly adopted Deer Run Drive as a public road, again with no discussion from the public.

Later in the meeting, Phillipp Bedwell with the Republican Executive Committee told the council that the GOP group will host a public forum for voters to meet the Republican candidates for U.S. Senate on June 11 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The forum will be at the First Pentecostal Church on Highway 21 in Bogalusa.

Bedwell also informed the council that the Republican Committee will host its annual Veterans Memorial Day event at Poole’s Bluff Nature Park at 12:30 p.m. on Monday.

“The public is invited to attend; just remember to bring your own chairs because there’s no chairs to sit in,” Bedwell said.

After Bedwell spoke, Winford Pittman addressed the council concerning the reservoir project. Pittman thanked the council for passing a resolution of opposition against the current reservoir project in the Oak Grove area.

Pittman also had a bit of criticism for the amendment to State Sen. Beth Mizell’s bill that would have disbanded the reservoir district’s commission. The amendment, from State Rep. Malinda White, keeps the commission in place, though all current members will be replaced and the commission can no longer take land through imminent domain. The law has not yet passed the House of Representatives.

Pittman said he favored wiping the slate clean.

Pittman said having a “select few” go against the will of a majority was undemocratic, and he quoted something his father said in 2003 when the reservoir project was first announced.

“Democracy is the most costly, the most fragile and the hardest thing to obtain. It is also the easiest thing to lose,” he said. “It must be protected and guarded at all times by everyone. Not just a select few.”

He then compared the commission to communism and Pittman pointed out that both he and his father were veterans.

“Like my father, I swore to defend this country against all enemies foreign and domestic,” he said.

After he spoke, Donna Graham, the parish’s financial officer, gave updates and informed the council that the parish’s landfill audit is complete and only awaiting final state approval. She said the audit was positive.

“Basically we got a clean opinion,” she said, adding that she would likely have the whole report in June.

After that, Public Works Director Leo Lucchesi said the parish’s work on the new animal shelter is almost completed.

Finally, the meeting concluded with a brief explanation of a couple opinions from the state attorney general concerning the reservoir commission.

The parish council had asked Attorney General Jeff Landry whether the council itself could serve as the reservoir district’s board, and whether the reservoir district needs permission from the parish planning commission before creating and maintaining a reservoir.

Landry wrote that he believes the parish council could serve as the reservoir board if a majority of voters approve that arrangement, and the reservoir district doesn’t need permission from the planning commission to build a reservoir because it’s an arm of the state.

Parish offices will be closed Monday due to Memorial Day. The next parish council meeting will be Monday, June 13, at 6 p.m.