By Carolyn Roy, Carolyn@natchitochestimes.com
The Parish Council voted Monday to add portions of four more roads to the pulverization project that is underway. Parts of Clark, Sportman’s Lodge, Old River and Harmony roads were added after Hart Road was removed. The council approved $250,000 for the project to grind up existing surface layers in place and create a new surface using the old materials. The surface is then compacted with a roller. Already included are Allbritton, Bumgarner, Central Loop, Central Street, Clark Loop, Freeman Loop, Goldonna, Government, Janie-Gorum, Lake Gorum, Mathis Road and Rawls Loop. Hart Road was removed at the request of residents who live there.
••Update: The Times asked residents along Hart Road why they opted out of the pulverization project. Jimmy Pardee said, “Concerning Hart Road opting out of the road pulverizing, all you have to do is look at Goldonna Road. We knew what would happen and it only took 48 hours. Hart Road has too many homes, both on and off the main road, to allow something like this to happen. We do still have to deal with the current situation as it is, but it is better than Goldonna or Collins Roads right now. Besides that, my family and I are getting ready to build a new home this coming year. Our property values are based on the fact that our home will be built on land that has asphalt road access. How much of a difference do you think it will be if our road goes back to dirt?”••
Parish President John Richmond held several town hall meetings to gauge the feelings of residents about whether to include their roads. W.E. McDonald & Sons LLC was the low bidder with the costs revised to $199,437 for approximately 27 miles. The project includes only parts of the roads since many parts have eroded. The council authorized Richmond to seek and accept funding to repair a section of Marco Road that is affected by erosion from Cane River.
Flooding could impact 38,000 acres including 5,600 acres of cropland and 29 residences. The erosion is on a section of Marco Road on Parish Road #805 near La. Hwy 1 and La. Hwy. 490. Council member John Salter asked a long-time resident of that area, Earl Bynog, to verify the location of the erosion since the council received two maps showing the location. Salter said he wanted to be sure that the money would be used in the correct location.
The council approved a budget amendment totaling just under $1 million with transfers from the sales tax, solid waste and highway funds to cover expenses usually paid for by revenue from the sales tax that expired Dec. 31. Parish Treasurer Julie Lockhart said the transfers consisted mainly of 2020 year-end cash balances and overestimated budget revenue. Although the tax expired, no services have been affected.
The council passed a resolution calling for a sales tax election in April with the tax to replace the one that expired. If passed, it will generate $2.2 million annually to operate the solid waste and highway departments.
In a personnel matter, Salter asked that the council consider making solid waste superintendent Gary Jackson a department head. Richmond agreed saying he was all for it. Human Resources Coordinator Cathy Creamer said she would need an opinion from the District Attorney since that position was not listed in the Home Rule Charter.
The council approved two planning and zoning ordinances. The first is a request by Roger Collum to rezone 3.29 acres at 1458 Hwy.1226, southeast of Black Lake and east of Clarence, to build a cultural center for the Butte Indian Tribe. The second was to rezone .5 acres along Hwy.1226 for a private, family cemetery south of Clarence. There were no objections to either proposed change during a Parish Planning and Zoning meeting.
The meeting took a unique turn when council chairman Salter, whose term was expiring, did not want to conduct the meeting and instead turned that duty over to attorney Stephen Mansour. Mansour asked for nominations for chairman with Patsy Ward-Hoover nominating Chris Paige. A respiratory therapist at Natchitoches Regional Hospital, Paige said he was too busy on his job and was exposed to hazardous situations. “It’s mind-boggling,” Paige said. Marty Cheatwood was nominated but said he could not do it at this time. Jim Kilcoyne declined his nomination as did Ward-Hoover. “Someone needs to step up,” Salter said. Mansour said he could not be the chairman because it had to be a member of the council. Paige then reluctantly agreed to take the job. Kilcoyne agreed to be the temporary vice-chairman.
The council then conducted the following business:
•Recognized Rodney Irchirl who is the new Senior Companion director.
•Tabled the appointment of Anthony Moore to replace the late Laney Wright on the planning commission.
•Reappointed Calvin McFerrin, Felix “Clint” Perot, Ed Giering and Edward Colbert to the Water Works District Board; and appointed Johnny Broussard to replace Elvin Shields who resigned.
•Introduced an ordinance creating a Fire Prevention Bureau in Fire District Six as the request of Chief Michael Sesvold; the bureau is needed to help the district lower its fire protection rating to Class 3. Sesvold agreed to help other fire districts create a bureau in their districts.