Parish port commission dissolved

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, June 24, 2015

VIDALIA — The Concordia Parish Port Commission is no more.

The Concordia Parish Police Jury voted Monday to abolish the commission, which has been inactive for some time.

Police Jury President Melvin Ferrington said the move came at the behest of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office.

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“We got a letter out of the governor’s office asking us to abolish it because we have a Vidalia Port Commission in place, so there is not room for two,” Ferrington said.

Some of the members of the parish commission have died, Ferrington said, and jury members did not even know all of the members who were on it.

“It hasn’t been active in 18-20 years,” he said. “I have been on the police jury for 21 years, and I don’t know that I’ve ever seen the commission act.”

Ferrington said his opinion was that whatever commission is active should be a parish commission rather than just Vidalia.

“All of the (port) activity is coming out of the parish in that area,” Ferrington said, referencing the parish’s agricultural interests.

In 2014, the Louisiana legislature passed Act 505, which allowed the Vidalia Port Commission to restructure its membership.

The Vidalia Port Commission previously had five members who by law had to be residents of Vidalia, but the current commission allows for seven members who are residents of Concordia Parish regardless of where they live in the parish.

The Vidalia Board of Aldermen appoints the commissioners.

The Vidalia Port Commission has existed since 1981, but was itself inactive for many years because the city did not have a port, a situation that is changing as the port is currently under construction.

The commission has the ability to levy a 2.5-mil tax with the approval of voters.

In other news:

-The jury met with representatives from the Dodge Store to discuss complaints about loud noise and underage drinking in the area of the store.

Ferrington said the representatives told the jury they would be hiring someone to watch through the night to keep illegal activity and noise under control.

-The jury will meet at 6 p.m. tonight to appoint an engineering firm to do a drainage study for the parish.

The study, which is being funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will be used to validate drainage improvement plans throughout the parish.