Police Jury wants pump questions answered

Published 12:06am Tuesday, January 29, 2013

VIDALIA — In light of recent heavy rains, the Concordia Parish Police Jury wants to meet with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers representatives to ask them why pumps at a local pumping station cannot be turned on to help alleviate flooding.

Juror Jimmy Jernigan read guidelines from a water plan given to the parish by the Corps for the conditions when water pumps at Wild Cow Bayou weir structure would be turned on. Jernigan said the plan states that one pump would be turned on when the interior water reaches 35 feet. More pumps can be turned on as the water level increases.

Jernigan said he checked the water level at the weir structure Monday morning, and it was at 35 feet. Two weeks ago, he said, it was higher than that.

Jernigan implied that he believed turning the pumps on could help alleviate drainage problems in the parish, especially during rains like the area recently experienced. Approximately 10 to 15 inches of rain fell over nine days.

“I think we need to contact the Corps and sit down and have a meeting with them about why the pumps can’t be turned on when they get that much water,” he said.

The pumping stations are controlled by the Corps and cannot be turned on without the agency’s permission.

Jernigan and other jurors said they received calls from parish residents during the recent flooding asking why the pumps were not turned on. The jurors said they did not have a good answer for the people.

“When people call you and say ‘Why don’t they have the pumps on, why don’t they have the pumps on’ and you get that much water down there to the pumps and you don’t pump it, something is wrong,” Jernigan said.

The jury voted to send a letter to ACOE requesting a meeting the Corps discuss the pumping station.

In other news from the meeting:

•The police jury discussed security measures it hopes to take to improve security at the courthouse, including access cards for the judges’ offices and security cameras throughout the courthouse.

Juror Randy Temple brought up the issue after the jury voted to approve the installation of an ATM in the courthouse by Concordia Bank & Trust. The installation will not cost the police jury any money.

Temple and Jury President Melvin Ferrington said the jury has been working to tighten security at the courthouse for several years. Ferrington said the parish could apply for a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, but he said it would only cover approximately $25,000 to $30,000 of the approximately $100,000 cost of a security camera and access card system.

“I think we can do it in phases,” Ferrington said.

•The police jury awarded a one-year contract to CSSI Vegetation Management Specialists to spray for grass and other vegetation in Vidalia, Ridgecrest, Clayton and other canals. The total cost is approximately $35,000.

•The jury voted to ask District Attorney Brad Burget to check to see if the recreation commission could issue multi-year contracts with local businesses to put sponsor signs on the ball fields in Vidalia.

The vote came after Juror Willie Dunbar made a motion to ask for an attorney general’s opinion on the matter. Dunbar said he wanted to know if the commission could sign those contracts without advertising because they are a public entity.

That motion was denied, with only Dunbar and juror Joe Parker voting for it.

The jury then voted to have Burget look into the matter instead of asking for an attorney general’s opinion.

•The jury approved an occupational license for Bertha Matthews Jackson for BMJ Boutique located at 272 Franklin Road in Ferriday.