Police Jury discovers residents want lake left alone

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 17, 2004

NATCHEZ &045;&045; A vote at an April 30 Lake St. John public meeting showed that 99 residents were in favor of keeping things the way they’ve been. One was against.

The meeting was held in response to concerns over the process of drawing down the lake’s water once a year, a process that had not been done in several years.

Tom Bell, of the Lake St. John committee, presented the results of the public meeting to the Police Jury Monday night. At a Police Jury meeting last month lake resident Stan Cooper requested that the lake committee provide the Jury with a copy of their minutes and expressed concerns over the lack of a recent draw down.

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Bell explained to the Jury that the lake had been below pool stage prior to 1994 and a late-90s drought further lowered the water level. Bell said the majority of the residents supported the decision to not reduce the water level.

Mike Ewing of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries was on hand to further explain the situation.

&uot;It (the draw down) was not something I recommended had to be done every year,&uot; Ewing said. &uot;As far as I’m concerned the lake committee has been doing a good job.&uot;

Jury President Melvin Ferrington agreed and said the lake’s advisory committee had handled the situation well. Bell invited those interested in the status of the lake to view the Web site, www.lakestjohn.com.

The Jury also appointed Mack Moore to serve on the lake’s advisory committee.

In other business the Jury approved a letter of support for a federally qualified health center for Riverland Medical Center. The hospital is working on a partnership with Catahoula Parish to provide health services for those unable to pay normal doctor fees. Police Jury Secretary Russell Wagoner said the program would not be a competitor to the parish health center.

&uot;What has happened over past years is people using the emergency room as a doctor’s office,&uot; Wagoner said.

He said the new center would be a place for indigent people to see a doctor with non-emergency situations.

The Jury said it would support the center on the condition that it did not interfere with Health Center business.

The Jury also approved paying an additional $231 a month to the Veteran’s Service Office in order to keep the agency in the parish. The Jury had previously turned down the request for money because of a missed deadline, but Juror Jimmy Jernigan brought the topic up again.

Jurors agreed the Veteran’s Service Office provided valuable resources.

&uot;We’ve got an obligation because the federal government can’t do it,&uot; Juror Randy Temple said. &uot;We are just going to have to cut back somewhere else. We’ll figure out a way to fund it.&uot;

The Veteran’s Service Office helped parish residents receive over $2 million in assistance in 2002.

The Jury also appointed Juror Whest Shirley to serve on the Louisiana El Camino East/West Corridor Commission.