Carolyn Roy | News Editor
The Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation and Community Center and the Natchitoches Events Center will get new roofs thanks to federal funding through the CARES Act. The City Council adopted a resolution at its meeting Monday approving the contract between the City and the La. Division of Administration that will provide the funding through a grant. Gov. John Bel Edwards approved the City’s application for $1 million. There are humidity issues with the roof at the MLK Center and the roof on the Events Center is 13 years old. The project has not gone out for bids.
According to the La. Division of Administration website, because of the pandemic, local government entities are trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In the CARES Act, HUD was allocated funding to respond to the virus. From that funding, Louisiana was appropriated $44,336,196. Of that amount, OCD has allocated $25,000,000 for upgrades to HVAC and ventilation systems in publicly-owned community facilities. Some $12,500,000 was available for large applicants (local governments with populations of 10,000 or more) and $12,500,000 for small applicants (local governments with populations of 9,999 or less).
The Council adopted another resolution calling for full-time City employees to receive $500 and part-time employees to receive $250 as a one-time salary supplement. The resolution says the payment is for the City recognizing the need to increase the compensation of its employees but is not a bonus and not considered part of the base salary or salary schedule. The money is taken from a surplus in Worker’s Compensation.
The Council adopted two ordinances with final votes. The first changed zoning for Clay Mayeaux’s restaurant at the corner of Front and Church streets from B-3 Commercial to B-A to allow for the sale of alcohol. The second granted franchise rights to Southern Lights to lay fiber optics cable.
The Council adopted a resolution that authorized a change order of $7,495 by DSW Construction LLC that is building restrooms and installing playground equipment at Parc Natchitoches. It increases the contract total to $565,270 paid through a grant from La. Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries.
The Council adopted two other resolutions. The first approved a step in joining other local governments in opioid litigation. City Attorney Alex Washington said if a settlement is reached, the State could receive $1.2 million to be shared throughout the state. The second resolution authorized Entergy Louisiana LLC to move a small section of power lines underground. Those lines do not feed the City.
At the pre-meeting, Mayor Ronnie Williams Jr. and Councilperson-at-Large Betty Sawyer-Smith recognized folk craftsman and wire sculptor Elvin Shields. As a child, Shields began making wire toys while growing up on Oakland Plantation. Shields left Oakland but returned several years ago and is now a volunteer with the National Park Service that owns the plantation. “We’re a bunch of folklife people here,” Shields said. “I do this to teach kids to think about plantation life differently.” Shields is one of six Louisiana Folklife Tradition Bearers and Folklife Ambassadors recognized by Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser’s office during Folklife Month in October.
Making a presentation at the pre-meeting was Jason Hewitt of The Sustainability Partners. He described the company as an alternative to traditional financing of municipal infrastructure through bonds and leases. He said the company takes all the risks and maintenance without privatization. The company has financed baseball fields in Crowley that experienced a 16 percent uptick in sales tax and ultrasonic water meters in Cotton Valley that showed a 47 percent increase in water and sewer revenue.