City passes burial plot depth law

Published 4:49 am Friday, July 21, 2017

The Bogalusa City Council unanimously adopted an ordinance Tuesday, pertaining to the depth of underground burials in the Bogalusa Cemetery and in Ponamah Cemetery.

The ordinance was introduced by council vice-president Doug Ritchie, of Poole-Ritchie funeral home, who said, “State law calls for two feet of dirt.” The ordinance passed 6-0, with only council member Brian McCree absent.

He then explained that a casket has to be at least two feet below the surface and to be covered with dirt to the surface.

“This falls on the funeral home,” Ritchie said.

Council member Gloria Kates asked who would enforce the new rule, and James Hall, director of Public Works, said his department would.

In the public hearing, Malcolm Moses asked if the public would be made aware of the ordinance, and asked that the city not publish it in The Daily News with print too small to read.

A resolution to adopt the Louisiana Compliance Questionnaire as part of the 2016 audit was also adopted unanimously by the council members who were present, after Kates asked several questions to ensure the city was in compliance.

The meeting started out with Mayor Wendy Perrette presenting a centennial award to Terry Breland as a thank you for voluntarily refurbishing the water wheel at Cassidy Park. Council member Teddy Drummond also recognized Terry’s wife, Tina, as the “woman behind the man.”

Then, CPA Robert Neilson rose to speak about the 2016 audit. The General Fund balance at that time was $7,423, and the loss from that year’s flooding totaled $348,752, according to Perrette.

“We hope FEMA helps,” she said.

Perrette added that when she took office on Jan. 1, 2015, the city had a $1,353,251 deficit, but has been “in the black” every year since, and is “trying to stay in the black.”

“We were pleasantly surprised,” Neilson said. “You guys are knocking it out of the park.”

The council also introduced two ordinances. One would authorize the mayor to enter into a lease/purchase agreement for a new fire truck. Drummond, who introduced it, said, “according to the fire department, they’re in dire need.”

Perrette also encouraged the council to act favorably because, “they need a fire truck.” Council member Sherry Fortenberry, who said she has family in the Bogalusa Fire Department said, “Not only do they need that fire truck, they need equipment and uniforms.”

The other introduced ordinance would authorize Perrette to hire Briney Corry, LLP, as the city’s civil service attorney.

“This is the way you do it,” city attorney Dale Branch said. “Civil service has gotten to be very complex, and they have appeals afterward. You’ve got to get somebody who specializes.”

In response to question from Moses about whether or not the council gets paid when they don’t have meetings due to lack of a quorum, Ritchie said that the council members do much more than attend the meetings. He said they drive around the city to check for problems, and are also always on call from their constituents.

Also Tuesday, Chase Holden was unanimously chosen to fill a vacancy on the Housing Authority Board.

And in the Public Participation period, Cynthia Bercher said she was in Bogalusa working with the local Chamber of Commerce’s Marylyn Bateman to update the city maps that the Chamber gives out. Bercher said she would be “knocking on doors” for inclusion, and she urged the council members to encourage businesses to take part in the project.