Parish government saw progress in 2017

Published 4:31 am Saturday, December 30, 2017

Over the year 2017, there have been many projects involving Washington Parish Government and I would like to share the accomplishments with you through this “The Year 2017 Washington Parish in Review.” It’s time as 2018 is upon us to reflect on the accomplishments and prepare for what the next year will bring. Washington Parish Government’s Department of Public Works deals with the Infrastructure, which is a great amount of our focus. Concentrations on the maintenance of parish buildings, roads, bridges and other components such as Library, Health Units, Gas Districts, Waterworks Districts, Fire Districts and Recreations Districts located throughout Washington Parish are daily. So let’s begin our review:

The 2017 year brought a balanced budget and a clean audit for Washington Parish Government.

  • Washington Parish Permit Department, located at 203 11th Ave., Suite 1 in Franklinton, services the parish on a daily basis with the totals as follows for the year: Building Permits (new — 80 and remodels/additions — 40), Mobile homes —123, Commercial (new — 18 and remodel/additions — five), Sheds, Barns and Portable Buildings — 84 and Utility Permits (includes reconnects, electric, trades, and etc.) — 1,257. The areas that have seen these permits generated are Franklinton, Bogalusa, Mount Hermon and Angie. Permits for logging and mining are also issued by Washington Parish Government totals for logging permits were 102 issued this year and Mining totaled 25.
  • Cooperative Endeavor Agreements and/or Intergovernmental Agreements with Rayburn Correctional Center, Village of Angie, City of Bogalusa and Washington Parish School Board were put in place this year to help with improvements for the entities. RCC during the March 2016 flooding event experienced damage to a bridge the cooperative endeavor allowed our public works department to furnish labor and equipment while RCC supplied the materials. The Village of Angie also due to the March 2016 flooding event had two streets closed due to culvert washouts, FEMA cover 75 percent of the cost and with the Intergovernmental Agreement with Washington Parish Government the work was completed by our Department of Public Works. Ongoing street and drainage projects with the City of Bogalusa through 2017 and into 2018 will continue as needed.
  • The Bridge to Culvert Program paperwork and contracts were signed and work pertaining to the Washington Parish drainage culvert improvements at 25 locations throughout the parish began in August of 2017. To date, 10 of the 25 culverts are in the installation process and the project is estimated to be complete in mid-2018 weather permitting.
    • The Animal Shelter Building Program can now move forward after achieving dedicated resources with the adoption of Resolution No. 17-812. Located on the grounds of the Department of Public Works facility at the intersection of YACC Road and LA Highway 10 the building is 3,250 square feet and has been totally renovated to allow for the space to service animals as well as offices for the administrative staff. Plumbing, electrical, HVAC and venting systems in this portion of the facility have been updated to building code standards. The plans now is for the parish to solicit competitive bids to construct a dedicated waste water system, kennels and build fencing and gates to control the rabid/diseased animal population. Additional funding is required to complete the remaining brick and mortar portion of the shelter. The existing building plus new outdoor extensions will total approximately 5,500 square feet.
  • Washington Parish Government Road Department has 45 employees who work on roads, bridges culverts and drainage throughout the parish. The 2017 Phase 9 Road Project consists of 28 roads with a 2 shot layer of asphalt totaling 27 miles of road. Drainage issues mow trim, bush hogging and culvert replacements are done with daily work orders. 2018 will begin the Phase 10 Project, which will consist of 30 “two-shot” roads totaling 20 miles. Eight roads will be chip sealed; totaling 21 miles of roads and four roads totaling eight miles will be overlaid. Of course all this work could not be accomplished if we did not have the talents afforded us by hardworking employees. In our road department, we work two crews totally dedicated to the maintenance of our parish grounds and maintaining clean roads with trash pickup and sign replacements. This year alone we have replaced signs that were either stolen or damaged costing the parish $11,000 and trash pickup throughout the parish, which we all know is a problem on all our parish roads, amounts to 2,579 bags.
  • During 2017, the Emergency Operations Center on Dollar Road was activated for six weather related events. January and December presented us with Winter Weather. April was severe weather, while Hurricane Season brought us Tropical Storm Cindy, Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Nate. Each of these put Washington Parish Government Public Works Crews and Office Staff on alert in preparation for the weather we would experience, along with notifications to schools, other government agencies and local business so they too could prepare. The Office of Emergency Preparedness and Homeland Security not only monitor weather events but works closely on Hazard Mitigation projects. Elevation of flood prone homes in Franklinton (2) and Bogalusa (1) were completed. Wind Retrofit Windows were installed at Bogalusa High School, Varnado High School, Enon Elementary, Franklinton Primary and Wesley Ray. 2018 has more Hazard Mitigation projects of home elevations and window retrofits as these are ongoing projects as we meet the needs of our communities.
  • The 2017 year has brought major changes to Choctaw Landfill. At the completion of Cell 4 and 5 (meaning they are full), by state and federal law; we are required to cap the cell following their guidelines. Two feet of sand/silty clay followed by two feet of compacted clay was Steps 1 and 2. Step 3 consist of installing a Methane Gas Vent System and Step 4 included HDPS 60 mil synthetic liner welded around each vent to insure no leakage occurs and the final step is a minimum of 6 inches of top soil material with seasonal vegetation planted. Completion of Cell #6 encompasses 6 acres and will hold 73,200,000 pounds of garbage and last approximately 6 years. The entire process is overseen by Quality Assurance/Quality Control Company with professional personnel to do laboratory testing and monitor each step with documentation. The data is then submitted to DEQ to secure Certification of the Final Cap.
  • The Washington Parish Jail’s existing roof was 35 years old and in poor condition covering four inmate cell blocks and the guard tower. The roof was installed during the construction of the Sheriff’s facility in 1982. In 2017 Bids were submitted to Washington Parish Government for the hiring of a Certified Contractor to do the scope of the work and one that would offer a long term warranty by the materials manufacturer. Upon completion in October, the new roof will protect the occupants (Approximately 200) by bringing the building’s interior to current standards for health and welfare of the inmates and the administrative employees. The budget was amended to complete the work on the roof by eliminating vehicle purchases for the administration.
  • Courthouse renovations for the second floor were completed in June. These renovations consisted of repainting all walls and ceilings; installation of new commercial grade ceramic tile and carpet, four restrooms, installing new ceiling, lighting, sinks, toilets and partitions in Public Restrooms (ADA compliant). Benches in the courtrooms were refurbished and cushions redone along with chairs being recovered for the courtroom setting. Funding for the project, which was 4,000 square feet was through LGAP funding, estimated project cost $106,000.

In summary, I am proud of the accomplishments that Washington Parish Government has achieved in 2017. Though the work is never complete, 2018 brings progress and planned improvements in the building of roads, infrastructure and for the future of Washington Parish. We hold our standards high and appreciate all the accomplishments we have achieved in 2017; we look forward to more completed projects in 2018 with the skills and expertise of our employees. May God bless you and your family. I hope you had a Merry Christmas and will have a Happy New Year.

Richard N. “Ned” Thomas Jr.

Washington Parish President