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St. Charles Council disagrees with River Region Caucus

By Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / March 25, 1998

HAHNVILLE – Not everyone seems to be on the same page with relation to the River Region Caucus, as arguments broke out during Monday’s meeting of the St. Charles Parish Council over two issues.At the March 19 meeting of the Caucus in Luling, attendees unanimously agreed to support resolutions in support of hiring a legislative liaison and for the construction of a new state highway to link Bayou Steel Road with Woodland Drive.

However, Parish Council members who didn’t attend the caucus meeting expressed their doubts as to each of the resolutions. Both resolutionswere approved by split votes.

For several months, the caucus discussed the possible hiring of a legislative liaison to keep local governments informed on activities during the regular legislative session, which opens April 27.

It was repeatedly stressed the person or firm hired would not act as a lobbyist and a price tag of $20,000 was agreed upon, to be split evenly among the three member parishes.

At Monday’s meeting, Parish Councilman Barry Minnich declared he would not vote to support the resolution to support the concept without seeing a contract. Opposition also came from Parish Councilman Terry Authement,who also doubted the scope of services, where in the budget the money would be found, who the liaison would report to and who will select the person.

At the caucus meeting it was agreed the three parish presidents would review applicants and concur on one choice, then present that choice to all three parish councils.

“It’s not a matter of pitting one parish against another,” Parish Councilman Brian Champagne said. “It’s something that’s needed.”The Parish Council also split over the highway project. Parish CouncilmanEllis Alexander pointed out the new road would cut the existing traffic bottleneck between Norco and LaPlace on Airline Highway and assist in evacuations, if necessary.

Minnich declared his opposition, saying the project would cut St. CharlesParish’s chances for additional red lights. The resolution was also opposedby Parish Councilmen Bill Sirmon and Authement.

The Parish Council did agree with the caucus in unanimous opposition to an oil and gas processing tax proposed by Sen. Foster Campbell.Also, the Parish Council discussed a proposed Rural Caucus within the Police Jury Association, proposed by Matthew Hollins of the Allen Parish Police Jury.

“I personally think we’re not as rural as much as others, and we can’t bring much to the table,” Alexander said, and added, “I recommend we stay neutral on this.”Parish Councilman Curtis Johnson added, “I’m totally against this,” saying it could be used as a lever to take Waterford 3 tax money away from St.

Charles Parish. No action was taken in the meeting.In other action: * Gwen Dufrene of Bayou Gauche was nominated by Alexander to serve on the Coastal Zone Advisory Board. Dufrene has pushed for wetlandsprotection in the Bayou Gauche area before the Parish Council for several years. Nominations were left open.* A letter of no objection was issued on the installation of three anchor piles at ADM Growmark grain elevator in Destrehan.

* After amending the parish’s zoning ordinance to permit self-storage facilities in a C-2 classification, the Parish Council approved a zoning change for a mini-storage facility in Norco, near Barreca Street and River Road.

* Both the Hale Boggs Bridge Run for the United Way of St. Charles Parishand the Bayou Area Senior Olympic Games were recognized in proclamations.

The bridge run is set April 4 as a fund-raiser for United Way. The SeniorOlympics are set during April and will include several local participants.

* The Parish Council approved resolutions favoring New Orleans as the site of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions during 2000.

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