City also opposes ‘One Lake’ plan; officer honored

Published 4:27 am Friday, February 9, 2018

The Bogalusa City Council meeting Tuesday night quickly took on a different tone when Andrew Whitehurst, the director of the Gulf Network Water Program, rose to speak.

Whitehurst spoke against the proposed “One Lake” Pearl River project, which he said would get the river level “plummeting” on the Louisiana side of the lower Pearl River and, therefore, negatively impact wildlife.

Whitehurst ended his comments by saying, “I thank you all for proposing against it.“

The city council then voted unanimously in favor of a resolution that opposes the project. The Washington Parish Council voted the project down on Jan. 22, and the St. Tammany Parish Council did so in 2013.

The meeting started with Mayor Wendy Perrette presenting a certificate of Appreciation to Correctional Officer Keith Crumedy, for helping Hurricane Maria victims in Puerto Rico as part of the National Guard’s 776 Battalion.

The council also voted unanimously in favor on a resolution ordering and calling a special election to be held in the city on April 28 to authorize a special 15 mil property tax for the city employee’s retirement system.

Mayor Perrette said, “I feel this is an obligation to the people who work for us.” She added that anyone who wants to know their proposed city property tax should divide their current property tax by four to come up with their net increase.

Then, the council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the mayor to approve a subleasing and operating agreement between G. Farley Grantham, as sub lessor, and Gerald M. Breland and Hope Breland Timothy, as sub lessees, regarding Hangar 406 at George Carr Memorial Airport in Bogalusa. The sub lease would run at $346 a month.

The council also introduced several ordinances. The first would authorize the mayor to accept the low bidder, Ricoh, for the multifunction copier/scanner/printers and managed print services.

The second would authorize the mayor to enter into a contract between the city and Nobles and Associates, LLC, to provide professional grave marking services for the Bogalusa and Ponamah cemeteries.

The third would make certain findings with respect to authorizing the city to incur debt and issue a Revenue Anticipation Note, not to exceed $950,000, for city operations.

The fourth would amend and re-enact the Comprehensive Building Regulations for the city. It would primarily update the Building Code, and provide for related matters.

A number of Bogalusa residents rose to speak during the Public Participation period. Fate Ferrell said he has “no problem” with the city workers getting their fair retirement, but he believes the city was mismanaged in the past.

“I think somebody got their hand in the cookie jar,” he said.

“The retirement money can’t go to pay the light bill or to work on the streets,” Perrette said. “They are dedicated funds. And I am adamantly against a volunteer fire department or a police department that’s not a part of the city.”

“If this seems to be the best, I can go with it,” Ferrell said.

Malcolm Moses then rose to say, “The code guy said people are suffering. This is bigger than you and me. We’ve got more elders here.”

Then Terry “Foots” Quinn said he trusted the mayor and council to do the right thing, as far as the special property tax was concerned.

Mervin Taylor was up next. “I’ve been here all my life,” he said. “Bogalusa is the worst city in Louisiana. You’ve got to keep that pension fund funded. I don’t know what you do with the tax money. We want to get rid of the water meters, and we need somebody that knows how to clean a city.”

Moses got up again to say, “There are a lot of moral issues in this city.”

Councilman Brian McCree said his mother was an employee of the Public Works for years, and earned her retirement.

Moses then said if the “One Lake” were approved, fish and plants would suffer due to the lower water. He urged the council to do “all due diligence.”

On that same subject, Gary Parker said he’s known Whitehurst “for years,” and thanked him “for coming down here and telling us what’s going on. We need to talk about this.”

Neighbors Yolanda Washington and Richard Brister brought a new issue to the meeting. Washington spoke first, saying she was concerned about a property at Sullivan Drive and Rosa Pearl Lane that borders on the city of Bogalusa and rural Washington Parish. Washington said several live wires are down on the property, and that there are other safety issues.

Brister also expressed her concerns, about vehicles parked on the same property with no tags or stickers.

Later, Perrette addressed citizens who had been concerned about late fees on water bills in February.

“The water bills are late because of High Cotton, so late fees will be waived for February bills that are due on the 10th,” she said.