Council hears from Project Save Bogalusa

Published 6:29 am Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Washington Parish Council met Monday evening for a routine meeting that tackled largely mandatory matters required by the state.

The first two resolutions the council passed involved bridge safety — the first set load limits on parish bridges and the second certified compliance with the state’s off-system bridge replacement program. Parish President Richard “Ned” Thomas said the state requires each parish to set load limits each year based on bridge conditions, and he added that no weight limits had been lowered this year on bridges in Washington Parish.

The parish passed one more resolution, this one entering into an intergovernmental agreement between the town of Franklinton and the parish for roadway rehabilitation on certain streets in that town.

Council member Reginald McMasters explained that the parish government has agreed to overlay some streets in Franklinton after the town approached the parish for help.

“They do a very, very good job,” said McMasters, of the parish road crew.

Later in the meeting, Project Save Bogalusa executive director Wendy Williams updated the parish council on the new direction her nonprofit group is taking. Williams said the group has spent much of this year on flood relief, both in Washington Parish and east of the parish. However, Williams said her group is now beginning to work on neighborhood renewal programs in Bogalusa.

Williams said the first step is a free informational clinic on Saturday, Oct. 22, on how residents can get titles to their heir properties. Heir properties are properties that have been passed down over generations informally and not through any legal process. Williams said owners of heir properties usually don’t have titles to the land, and without the titles, the owners cannot borrow against the land or qualify for aid after disasters.

Williams said Project Save Bogalusa is partnering with Louisiana Appleseed for the event, which will be held at ESM United Methodist Church at 2 p.m. The church is located at 510 Ave. B.

The event will include free legal advice for anyone who wishes to get a clear title to their property.

In the long term, Williams said she hopes her nonprofit will begin to help the city of Bogalusa restore old, dilapidated buildings for use as part of a subsidized housing project.

“We want to eliminate the blight, put the property back on the tax rolls and restore hope for the citizens as we rebuild our community for future generations,” she said.

Williams said she would need grants to realize this goal, so she asked the council for a letter of support.

Williams also announced Project Save Bogalusa has new offices at Bogalusa’s post office.

After Williams spoke, the parish president gave his report. Thomas praised the parish government’s partnership on the road work in Franklinton and some recent grass cutting at Bogue Chitto State Park.

“We got it looking a lot better out there,” he said, of the park.

Thomas said the parish government is happy to partner with outside towns and state institutions when it can.

“We do that for any town or village as they’re all in the parish and we collect taxes out of every one of these places so I think it’s not a big deal to do all of that,” he said.

Thomas added that parish offices will be closed beginning next Wednesday through Friday, due to the fair.

After Thomas spoke, council president Pete Thomas wished everyone a happy and safe time at the fair.