Flood threat to Ferriday

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 11, 2011

FERRIDAY — The Town of Ferriday has water problems again, but this time it’s too much water.

As of Tuesday afternoon, water levels at the town’s Old River water intake structure were six feet from electrical transformers that supply power to the town water plant, Mayor Glen McGlothin said at Tuesday’s board of aldermen meeting.

If the water reaches the transformers, they will short out and the water treatment facility will shut down.

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“If (the power supply) is under water, we will be out of water for two months,” McGlothin said. “I have never had too much water. It is driving me crazy.”

Old River is fed by the rising Mississippi River, which is expected to reach record-breaking water levels today.

The good news is that Concordia Parish Emergency Management has already secured a large generator to operate the plant before the water level at Old River reach the transformers, McGlothin said.

The mayor said he expects the generator to be in place by Friday.

The town’s older water issues haven’t gone away, however, and Tuesday accountant Myles Hopkins said the town wasn’t able to get a clean audit for the last fiscal year because it has too many broken water meters.

“You can’t tell how much water is being consumed,” Hopkins said. “We don’t know how much isn’t being billed.”

Following Hopkins’ report, the aldermen conducted a public hearing and then voted to issue $950,000 in bonds.

The bonds will be used to buy new digital water meters, McGlothin said.

Ultimately, the town plans to build a new water plant, and the mayor said the new meters are just one of several steps in the plan.

The revenue generated by accurate water consumption readings will be used to pay for further steps.

“We are doing water meters now so we can actually pay a note on the new plant,” McGlothin said.

In other news:

4Hopkins said the audit revealed that the town had exceeded its general fund budget of $2,231,000 by approximately $85,000.

A 5-percent variance from an adopted budget is allowed, and because the $85,000 falls within that range the town does not face legal sanction, Hopkins said.

The expenses occurred in part because of unplanned necessary upgrades to town infrastructure, such as replacing collapsed sewer lines, McGlothin said.

4The mayor appointed Cotrina Johnson as town clerk.

The former clerk, Gayle Cowan, submitted her resignation for medical reasons, saying she did not think she could serve the town fairly any longer, McGlothin said.

Johnson has previously served as water clerk and has worked with three of McGlothin’s administrations, he said.

She also has experience as the former assistant clerk for the Town of Grambling.

“I can’t think of anybody better for the job,” McGlothin said.

“(Cowan) and Cotrina have always worked very well together.”

4A possible amendment to the town’s bingo ordinance was on the agenda, but McGlothin — who placed the item on the agenda — asked the aldermen to remove it so the town’s legal counsel could review the matter thoroughly before it was brought to a vote.

The aldermen voted to remove the item from the agenda.

When Jay Laneau of Big Bucks Bingo and Vernon Properties asked if he could address the aldermen, McGlothin said that was not possible because the item was no longer on the agenda.

Laneau asked if he could speak with the appropriate parties after the meeting, to which McGlothin said there would be no problem.

Following adjournment, Laneau spoke with Town Attorney Anna Ferguson and several board members.

4Alderwoman Gloria Lloyd asked if there was any way for the town to get the word out that Ferriday is not handing out emergency food stamps or Federal Emergency Management Agency checks because of the flood threat.

McGlothin said such rumors are untrue and asked those present at the meeting to make it known.