Parish hears from reservoir critic

Published 7:06 am Wednesday, September 28, 2016

On Monday, the Washington Parish Council had a routine and quick meeting that included a public hearing over tax assessments and an ordinance that added to the parish’s no-through list for trucks.

No one from the public came to speak about any of the issues, however, and the assessments and the no-through street ordinance were all passed without comment. The streets are South Lee Road and North Choctaw Line.

The public meeting began at 5:45 p.m. and lasted about 10 minutes. The council then recessed until 6 p.m. when the meeting began. The agenda only had two items, including approval of minutes from the prior meeting and adopting the no-through streets ordinance. After those were passed, two members of the public spoke during public comments.

The first, Jalon Pittman Beech, a longtime critic of the reservoir project, spoke out against some of the reservoir commissioners. The governor recently named a new commission, though four of the members are re-appointments due to recommendations from parish leadership.

“I commended the parish councilmen who stood their ground and did not

reappoint the commissioners,” she said.

Beech added that several members in the community were “unsettled” by the reappointments and she criticized Parish President Richard “Ned” Thomas, who nominated Charles Mizell. Mizell previously served on the old commission.

“Has made it very clear he intends to proceed with the current plan,” Beech said.

She and others in the Oak Grove community have long opposed that plan which, they say, would force residents to move, among other things.

“There are some of us who don’t put a price on heritage and so we’re back to square one,” she said. “There will be no reservoir lake in the Oak Grove community. We will stand.”

Beech also hinted that the reappointments might have been due to political pressure.

“Yes, some of you were probably pressured to take on the current commissioners that were on the board,” she said. “Why was that, I wonder? We’ll see. It should play out very interesting. We’ll be watching and we’ll be there.”

No council members nor Thomas had any comment.

Another citizen, Betty Mason, said large commercial trucks are parking on Tanglewood Drive, contrary to posted signage in her subdivision.

“We’ve had two residents to move in and within the past year we’ve had a gravel truck and a dump truck and an 18-wheeler,” she said.

Mason said the road is beginning to crack due to the usage.

“All we’re wanting to do is preserve the road,” she said. “We’re not wanting to interfere with anyone’s livelihood … That road says ‘no trucks,’ so common sense says no trucks. If you’re not making a delivery in that area you should not be in that area with your vehicles.”

After the public comments, Thomas gave his report and it focused mainly on the Mississippi sewer spill earlier this month. Thomas said he didn’t learn of the spill until the media contacted him for a comment, and he criticized state employees for failing to notify him of the water contact advisory.

“The state, I don’t know — maybe they had a lot of ball games that weekend — but we didn’t get any reports,” he said.

After that, Thomas read a letter of resignation from Gary Finner, a longtime member of the Washington Parish Fire Association District No. 9 Board. Thomas said he’d been on the board for 21 years and he praised Finner’s dedication.

“This person is very special,” Thomas said. “He’s a fine, fine person and he belongs to

several other boards also.”

Finally, he invited everyone to Bogalusa’s flag-raising ceremony for the fair, Friday at 9:30 a.m.

The next parish council meeting will be Monday, Oct. 10, at 6 p.m.