Jury wants to see Vidalia study

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NATCHEZ — Concordia Parish drainage talks continue to flow through public meetings as the Concordia Parish Police Jury once again questioned the impact new development will have on the parish’s drainage issues.

The police jury wants more answers about the impact the development of the new Vidalia municipal complex and Concordia Recreation District recreation complex will have on the parish’s drainage into the Vidalia Canal.

The jury has sought information from the drainage study the City of Vidalia had done about the site, but Police Jury President Melvin Ferrington said the city has been unwilling to cooperate.

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Ferrington said a letter was sent the city requesting specific information from the study on Sept. 28. That request has not been answered, Ferrington said.

Police jury Engineer Hayden Kaiser said he requested drainage calculations from the City of Vidalia Engineer Bryant Hammett at the Nov. 8 meeting, but has not been able to connect with Hammett since that meeting.

“He made the statement that what they are doing is going to improve drainage in the parish,” Kaiser said. “If that is the case, I just want to see it in writing.”

Concordia Parish District Attorney Brad Burget said if the City of Vidalia continues to not comply with the request, the only legal retribution the jury would have is to sue the city, but he did not suggest that as a course of action.

“I don’t know enough about the specific document to give you a legal opinion on whether or not it is public record,” Burget said.

Ferrington said the jury has no interest in suing Vidalia and only wants to make sure the work done does not negatively impact parish residents.

“We are entitled to this information and to the impact on the parish,” he said. “We need to see this so we can make future appropriations to deal with the drainage impact.”

Ferrington said the jury would give Vidalia officials until the next meeting on Dec. 13 to provide the information requested.

Drainage work didn’t stop there. The jury also appointed five representatives to a parish drainage committee to act as a working advisory board for the police jury.

Ferrington said the jury requested one individual from each parish community. Those named to the committee were: Lee Staggs from Vidalia, Lewis Whiggington from Ferriday, Jay DePrato from Lake St. John, Wendell Walker from Monterey and Bill Beasley from the parish. Ferrington said he did not receive recommendations from Clayton or Ridgecrest.

Police jury members Willie Dunbar, Joe Parker and Ferrington also requested to be on the board. Ferrington will serve as chairman.

“This is just an advisory board,” Ferrington said. “Any action that they recommend will have to be approved by the jury.”

Ferrington said the parish had a similar committee in the past, but it dissipated after it grew too large and stopped having regular attendance at meetings.

“We had 15 or so people on the board and no one showed up for meetings to do anything,” he said.

The committee will meet for the first time after Dec. 1, Ferrington said.

In other news:

The board approved Dunbar’s request to ask the City of Vidalia for a new map indicating the city’s boundaries. The request was prompted by Vidalia’s recent annexation of commercial property along U.S. 84.

The board reappointed Marc Archer to the Concordia Recreation District No. 3 board.

The board reappointed Elanor Tally to the library board for another five-year term.

The board approved the budget of the North Louisiana Criminalistics Laboratory. The approval is just procedural, as the lab does not get any money from the police jury, Ferrington said.

The board gave Ferrington the power to approve a project manager for the roof project for courthouse. Ferrington is going to meet with officials from FEMA about the specifics of the job before approving a project manger.

Ferrington said he doesn’t want to wait until the next meeting to name the project manager because the roof project has been in the planning phase for approximately one year, and he’d like to see work start soon.

The board approved an occupational license and class B beer and liquor license for the 84 Quick Stop convenience store.

The board approved fund transfers of $1,750 from highway maintenance, $4,020 from drainage maintenance, $1,900 from solid waste disposal and $3,030 from sales tax, all to the general fund. The board also approved a $45,000 transfer from sales tax to the solid waste disposal fund.