Judge to decide on water plant order

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 16, 1999

FERRIDAY, La. – Based on arguments made at a hearing this afternoon, a Seventh Judicial District Court judge will decide whether to place a protective order on Ferriday’s water plant.

If granted by Judge Kathy Johnson, the order would stop anyone from destroying or altering parts, computer data or records at the water plant until a suit Ferriday resident and business owner Gloria Martello filed Oct. 25 against the town and its engineers is resolved. Martello has referred all questions to her attorney, Chuck Norris of Vidalia. Norris would not comment Tuesday, saying he would reserve all comment until the hearing. But in a recent article he said the order is necessary to preserve evidence and would not stop repairs at the plant.

Crews have been making repairs in an effort to have state health officials lift a boil water notice that has been in effect for the town since Aug. 20.

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But Town Attorney John Sturgeon said that such an order might cause delays in plant upgrades and repairs by tying the repair timetable to court schedules.

&uot;We hope (the judge) will see the wisdom of not granting the order,&uot;&160;Sturgeon said Tuesday.

Under the order, if health, environmental or law enforcement officials determined that certain parts had to be removed from the plant to protect public health, Martello’s lawyers and investigators would be allowed to inspect the parts first.

Sturgeon said he has already offered to let Martello’s counsel inspect the plant, but that Norris declined the offer. In her complaint, Martello said the town’s water problems have caused its water customers undue stress and inconvenience.

The suit charges that negligence of the town and its engineering firm, Owen and White of Baton Rouge, caused Ferriday to be placed under a boil water notice. The complaint also asks the court to certify it as a class-action suit.