Parish police jury seeks emergency funds for old courthouse

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, April 29, 2015

VIDALIA — The Concordia Parish Police Jury voted Monday to declare an emergency and seek legislative help in making repairs to the old parish courthouse.

The emergency declaration stems from the air conditioning system in the building, which has been broken for some time. Juror Randy Temple, who sits on the courthouse committee, said the chilled water boiler system in use is outdated.

“The pipes are old cast iron pipes, they are rusted, corroded and wrapped in fiberglass,” he said. “The protective sleeve around the pipe is rotten.”

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Even when the old system is running, the pipes are prone to leaking.

Temple said a contractor has issued an estimate to do away with the old system and replace it with a copper-lined system pumping refrigerant similar to what one would see in a residential setting.

The problem is the estimate “is quite substantial,” Temple said.

Temple said he met with Concordia Parish head librarian Amanda Taylor to discuss the issue, and said she has already reached out to Sen. Francis Thompson’s office.

The Vidalia branch of the library inhabits the bottom floor of the courthouse, and even though it has a separate air-conditioning system, the problems of the old system still affect it.

“We need a quarter million dollars to do this,” Temple said. “(Taylor) has laid the groundwork as far as contact Sen. Francis Thompson, and we need to prioritize a little of our time with our office staff to contact Sen. Neil Riser, (Rep.) Andy Anders and Sen. Thompson.”

The police jury’s tenants in the old courthouse include — among others — the Concordia Council on Aging and the Concordia Parish Extension service. Temple said their tenants do good work and should have air conditioning, but the jury doesn’t have the money to take on the project alone.

Juror Jimmy Jernigan said the time of year makes the emergency declaration more urgent.

“I think this is an emergency because summer is getting here and it is going to be hot in there,” he said.

In other news, the jurors heard from residents concerned about drainage.

One resident, Pat Davis, brought pictures of Pete Davis Road, which she said is continually being damaged because water flows over it.

“I don’t know if it needs ditches, I don’t know if it needs sloping, but what used to be a 12-foot (wide) road is now eight feet,” she said. “At my house, it’s six feet.

“When there is water over it, I have to dodge (holes). I have lost control of my car twice, and I don’t drive fast.”

Smart Lane resident Rosetta Tyler asked the jury to address drainage in the Doty Road area. Tyler said run-off from a neighboring farm property flows under her house and has destroyed her driveway.

The jurors said they don’t have the ability to go on private property to fix drainage, but Juror Jerry Beatty said he has spoken with the owner of the agricultural property who has agreed not to till too closely to the edge of the field so freshly tilled dirt would not fill in the ditches causing the ditches to be ineffective.