High-profile parish issues to be discussed

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 11, 2000

Such high-profile issues as annual budget approval, cable service and, in Ferriday, the Martello water lawsuit and planned YMCA branch will take center stages at Concordia Parish’s public meetings this week as the parish’s public bodies attempt to wrap up important business before the Christmas holidays.

At the Concordia Parish Police Jury’s meeting tonight, its only meeting of December, the jury will approve its budget for fiscal 2001, which begins Jan. 1. A hearing will be held before the budget is approved in order to receive public comment. As of press time, the jury’s Finance Committee had not released copies of the proposed budget, but the jury’s 2000 budget topped $4 million – and jury revenues are up this year thanks to higher-than-expected severance and ad valorem tax revenues.

&uot;Our receipts did come in better than expected,&uot; said Randy Temple, Finance Committee chairman.

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And at least one juror, Gene Allen, has asked that his monthly salary be increase from $856 to $1,200 as part of the 2001 budget.

The possibility of building a shelter to handle stray animals in the parish will also be discussed during today’s meeting. In its last meeting, the jury asked Assistant District Attorney Ronnie McMillin to research whether a committee to organize the shelter should be set up as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation or a subdivision of the police jury – and how either option would effect the ability of the jury to donate funds to the committee.

At its Tuesday meeting, following a public hearing on the issue, the Vidalia Board of Aldermen will consider renewal of a franchise for cable television provider Cable One. Some Vidalians at the board’s Nov. 14 meeting complained about occasional cable reception problems.

Cable One has already applied for a permit to install fiber optic cables across the Mississippi River bridge in order to transmit higher-quality pictures and sound and to offer more channels and services to its 1,565 Vidalia customers in the future. And the company is installing battery-operated standby power supplies that will turn on automatically when an area’s power goes out.

Aldermen will also open bids at Tuesday’s meeting for three new police cars to replaced aging vehicles.

In its Tuesday meeting, the Ferriday Town Council is expected to appoint Jon Guice as special counsel to the town in a lawsuit resident and business owner Gloria Martello filed against the town regarding water quality.

Martello filed suit Oct. 25, 1999, against the Town of Ferriday and engineering firm Owen and White, and water plant manufacturer U.S. Filter was later added as a co-defendant. The lawsuit stated that a boil-water notice in effect for the town for 124 days from late August to late December caused its water customers undue stress and inconvenience.

And the council will also discuss plans to establish a branch of the YMCA of Central Louisiana in Ferriday.

&uot;We need to move forward with this,&uot; town Administrative Assistant Alex Promise said Thursday. &uot;This is in the best interest of the children.&uot;

On Nov. 30, YMCA officials told town and church representatives gathered at Town Hall that without $150,000 or a contract promising that amount – or the Town of Ferriday contracting with the Y — the YMCA of Central Louisiana will not establish a branch in Ferriday. That is how much it will take to hire a branch director and establish programs at the branch, not including the cost of operating facilities where the programs would be held.

Such facilities could include the old Florida Street Gym – which the Concordia Parish School Board has leased to the town – or the former Ferriday Kindergarten Center – which the School Board has not yet leased.

The Police Jury will meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the jury meeting room on the second floor of the new parish courthouse on Carter Street in Vidalia.

The Vidalia Board of Aldermen and the Ferriday Town Council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Vidalia Town Hall on Carter Street and Ferriday Town Hall on Second Street, respectively.