Police jury questions road work in Maxwell Road area

Published 12:14 am Tuesday, July 12, 2016

VIDALIA — The Concordia Parish Police Jury has asked its attorney to arrange a meeting with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development to determine why work on a parish road was started without contacting the jury.

Members of the public and the jury alike had expressed concern about planned Corps and LaDOTD work in the Maxwell Road area — which includes widening a levee berm and installing relief wells — during several public meetings in 2015.

Other meetings were scheduled with representatives from the Corps and the LaDOTD, but were cancelled for a number of circumstances, including inclement weather, Jury Secretary-Treasurer Kevin Friloux said.

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The jury had approved for the president — at that time, Melvin Ferrington — to sign an agreement with the two agencies that would allow them to work on Maxwell Road, Juror Joe Parker said, pending review by its attorney.

District Attorney Brad Burget, the jury’s attorney, said the verbal proposal previously presented at meetings between the parties was for the jury to temporarily transfer ownership of the road or enter into an intergovernmental agreement that the Corps and the LaDOTD would return the road to its original state after construction or to the parish standard for hard surface roads.

But that agreement was never presented for review, Parker said, and the issue was quiet for months.

“That was the last time we heard about it until this guy called me about the cattle gaps in the road,” Parker said. “But he had never told me they had started construction.”

Burget said the jury needs to reach some sort of agreement with the other parties, but did not necessarily advise the jury to seek a temporary restraining order.

“At this point, I think a meeting would be advantageous,” he said.

In other news:

-Police Jury President Jimmy Jernigan is recovering from a quadruple bypass heart surgery.

Friloux said Jernigan had the surgery last week, and is expected to be out of the hospital by today.

“He is doing fine,” Friloux said.

-The jury adopted a letter of support for Tensas Community Health Center to expand into Concordia Parish.

If it opens, it will open in the Vidalia city limits and will offer primary care, obstetrics, women’s health, Kidmed — including immunizations — and WIC services, Friloux said.

-The jury voted to direct all fees collected for cremations to the Concordia Parish Coroner’s Office.

Vice President Whest Shirley said Coroner Jim Graves had asked the jury for the funds to hire deputy coroners, but the jury had declined because of funding.

The jury collects $100 from the funeral home for every cremation done in the parish, however, and the jury voted to direct those funds to the coroner’s office instead of clearing through the jury budget first.

Shirley said the parish has had five cremations this year.

-Juror Willie Dunbar proposed the jury adopt a specific ordinance to address loud music in neighborhoods.

“We need to put off this crap, this loud music between 1 and 2 a.m. on Saturday and Friday,” he said. “It is getting outrageous.”

Dunbar said that while he has called the sheriff’s office about loud music in parts of his district — including times when his constituents have called him about it — the sheriff’s office said it could not ticket those playing the music because the parish does not have an ordinance.

Juror Jimmy Wilkinson said the jury has looked at the noise ordinance the City of Vidalia has for comparison.

While the jury did not make a specific move to adopt a new ordinance Monday, the members did vote at Dunbar’s behest to send the sheriff’s office a letter specifically noting the noise disturbances that occur in the areas of Westside Drive, Mooselodge Road and Concordia Park.

-The jury discussed having the road department purchase a video camera to document the state of roads before and after construction contractors use them.

Wilkinson said such a practice would be useful if there is any disagreement about if the contractors have damaged parish roads.

“If there is any discrepancy, when we do the bond, we can review (the video),” he said. “I just want them to pay for what they tore up, and nothing more.”