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Ferriday water contract concerns expressed

FERRIDAY — Residents of Concordia Parish who are on the Ferriday water system filled Town Hall Tuesday seeking answers to the town’s current water contract situation.

Resident Karen Stubbs asked the board of aldermen to take into consideration the health and safety of the town’s residents as it makes decisions regarding the town’s water contract.

At a specially called meeting last month, Mayor Gene Allen vetoed a decision by the board seeking to accept a bid from G.E.N.T’s Enterprises LLC to run the town’s water operations.

The Baton Rouge company was the only one to submit a bid before the deadline. A bid from JCP Management, the town’s current management company, came in late.

Stubbs said she was pleased with the work JCP Management has done to improve water quality since they took over and asked the board “do the right thing” when making any further decisions.

“I would beg each of you, put aside personal differences you have and consider the citizens of this town,” Stubbs said. “I would beg you to please consider the citizens of this town.”

Stubbs said if the decision to not renew the contract with JCP was based upon increased rates then the resident’s health would ultimately pay the price.

“What good does an $18 water bill do for you if all your water is good for is flushing your toilet,” Stubbs said. “(What good is it) if you have to go to the store and buy drinking water.”

Alderwoman Gloria Lloyd said choosing to stay with JCP Management is not an option because they didn’t submit a bid by the deadline.

“We advertised for a bid and this company did not put in a bid and it wouldn’t be fair to the other company,” Lloyd said. “We didn’t do anything wrong.”

Stubbs and other residents in the audience asked the board members if they knew if G.E.N.T’s Enterprises LLC was certified by the Department of Health and Hospitals.

Stubbs said she believed if the company was not certified, the available federal loan funding to build a new plant would no longer be available.

JCP Management was chosen to operate the Ferriday water plant after the USDA required a third party operator in order for the town to secure the funding.

Alderman Johnnie Brown said the board was unsure if the company was certified and that those questions would be answered later.

Allen said he vetoed the motion to accept the new company last month because enough information about the company wasn’t available.

“This board needs to vet the company first before they do anything,” Allen said. “I’m waiting on (Brown and Alderman Elijah “Stepper” Banks) to come in and meet to vet this company.”

Part of the terms and conditions of Ferriday’s request for proposal for a new water management company stated that the bids would be evaluated using a grading point system, which will rank the company in categories such as qualified personnel, monthly fixed rates, hourly repair rates and prior experience operating similar systems.

Brown said after the meeting that the group would meet Thursday to begin vetting the company.