City sets new hours for cemeteries
Published 6:14 am Friday, January 20, 2017
During Tuesday night’s meeting of the Bogalusa City Council, the council unanimously approved a new ordinance establishing clearly marked hours at the city’s two cemeteries.
Under the ordinance, Ponemah and Bogalusa cemeteries will be closed “from dusk until dawn,” and regulatory signs will be clearly posted at the entrances, informing visitors of the hours where trespassing is not allowed.
The ordinance also states that “no vehicle shall enter the cemetery properties after they have been closed … unless specific permission has been received from the Police Department.” Consequences for violating the ordinance include a fine of no more than $100 or a jail term of no more than 15 days.
Prior to the ordinance’s passage, the council held a public hearing to allow for citizens to comment on the proposed rules. Some citizens expressed concern that the ordinance would affect family members who wish to visit loved ones’ graves, or workers that keep up the gravesites.
However, Bogalusa Police Chief Kendall Bullen said his officers would not harass people who were visiting the cemetery for such reasons. He noted that the ordinance is primarily designed to prevent vandalism of the cemeteries during the night hours.
“By this ordinance being in place, it gives (my officers) a reason to stop someone (who isn’t supposed to be there),” Bullen said. “We’re not going to mess with people that are coming to visit a gravesite, that maybe were passing through town. But it gives us a right to stop someone that’s out there after hours.”
Among other business, the council:
- Adopted two resolutions pertaining to land acquisition for the airport. Council members stated that land owners and surviving heirs were contacted, and they were overwhelmingly in favor.
- Introduced an ordinance authorizing Bogalusa Mayor Wendy Perrette to seek a “Revenue Anticipation Note” of no more than $950,000 from the State Bond Commission. This is a customary procedure where city governments take out a short-term loan and quickly pay it back once tax receipts are collected later in the year.
- Heard comments from Perrette. She noted that the Hudson Street bridge will be closed for repairs from Jan. 30 until Feb. 3, and that work will begin soon on water system improvements in Richardson Town.
Perrette also noted that the city is still seeking reimbursement from FEMA for playground reconstruction at Cassidy Park, and that the senior citizens building is opened again but is scheduled to have its formal re-opening ceremony on March 11.
She also thanked a private citizen who donated new brick structures at the entrance of Pomenah Cemetery.
Public participation gets heated
The public participation portion of Tuesday’s meeting became heated when Bogalusa resident Fate Ferrell questioned the city’s process in naming Kendall Bullen as the new police chief.
“The way that they chose you … to protect this position was not right,” Ferrell said, looking at Bullen.
“I call for a point of order,” city council member Scott Ard immediately responded.
“I’m not out of order,” Ferrell said.
“You are out of order,” Ard replied. “This is a character assassination and it is totally irrelevant.”
“If you feel that way, you ought to seek legal counsel,” city council member Teddy Drummond added.
“It’s not out of order,” Ferrell said. “It’s what I feel and I’m a citizen, and I have a right to speak. We fought and died and killed to get freedom of speech.”
After a few more back-and-forth comments, council president Tamira Smith stepped in to regain control of the meeting.
“Mr. Fate, due to respect, I’m going to ask you if you could just have a seat at this time so that we can keep everything in order,” Smith said. “…This is a council meeting, and you do have the right to speak. But right now, I have to keep control of what’s going on.”
Ferrell asked if he could continue speaking, and Perrette responded.
“Well, council president, that being said, (Bullen) is my employee and he’s not to be discussed in an open forum,” Perrette said. “If you’d like to fuss about him, you can make a formal complaint. Thank you, Mr. Ferrell.”
At that point, Farrell ceased talking about Bullen, but did express his concern that the city was not doing a good job of keeping up its cemeteries, and it should also clean out citizens’ ditches.