Police Jury considering bond for paving Concordia Parish roads

Published 9:58 am Wednesday, June 14, 2023

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VIDALIA, La. — After discussion in recent months of the need to pave more roads than what state or federal grants have covered, the Concordia Parish Police Jury is putting together a list of roads for engineers to put a price on paving so that they may take out a bond issue to cover the cost.

The police jury’s assistant Cathy Darden as the board for a priority list of roads that need work within each district by the end of the week that she could present to the engineers.

Between a Community Development Block Grant program and Federal Emergency Management Agency funds, the police jury has only been able to cover portions flood-prone roads in the parish with asphalt.

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Currently, a project is underway to fix the entirety of East and BJ roads and portions of Eagle, Freeman, Guido, Sage, and Stephens roads with just over $1.5 million in federal grant funds.

The grant also covers segments of gravel roads, including Chandler, Minorca, Rokafee, Deer Park Levee Road, South Prong, Fairview Landing, Old River Camp Road, Resort Road and Slocum Levee Road. However, the parish must also come up with 25 percent of the cost.

It’s estimated the 25 percent match on the FEMA-approved portion is $267,015.85 and to finish the remainder of the approved roads is approximately $1.4 million, Darden said during an April board meeting before asking the board to consider putting together a new road priority list so that they could apply for a bond issue to cover the remaining cost and any other roads that need to be paved.

Darden said they could get a cost estimate on paving the desired roads while the FEMA-approved road project is ongoing at no additional cost to the parish.

“By the time we get to that point, perhaps the interest rates will have gone down and we can do a bond issue,” Darden said. “I don’t see any other way to do it. The state’s not going to give us the money.”

In other matters during Monday’s meeting, the Department of Transportation sought the police jury’s comments on its plans to repair or replace the Tensas River bridge in Clayton.

Police Jury member Joseph Parker offered one comment.

“It’s way overdue,” Parker said.

The board also discussed the need for a new higher-powered generator for the Concordia Parish courthouse after a Monday afternoon storm had caused the courthouse to lose power.

The generator worked to keep the lights on and power the jail and 911 dispatch office in the courthouse basement. However, it was not powerful enough to run the air conditioning units.

This left many departments working in the heat for a few hours until the electricity was restored.

“We need to see if the funds are available for a new generator for the courthouse,” Parker said.

Police Juror Genesia Allen and Darden also discussed applying for a new Federally Qualified Health Clinic in the parish, which would provide services free of charge to uninsured or under-insured patients.

“Ferriday is underserved with that kind of service,” Darden said.

She added that if the parish qualifies for an FQHC, the parish wouldn’t need to fund the clinic or pay for the services it provides.

“You would still have the responsibility of taking care of the grounds and the building, but the federal government would send millions of dollars into this clinic,” she said. “They’ll have a whole staff and all of that is paid for by the federal government.”

Applying is a long process, Allen said, before asking the police jury to vote to move forward.

“We feel like it’s an asset to the parish,” Allen said, offering a motion that Darden proceed with the project. Her motion was seconded by Brad Adams and passed unanimously.