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Leaders gathered to discuss issues

Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / June 29, 1998

LAPLACE – State and local leaders came together at the meeting of the St. John the Baptist Parish Council Tuesday night to discuss two pressing issues in the parish.

State representatives Roy Quezaire and Robert Faucheux and state senator Ron Landry met with the council on the issues of the Reserve ferry and the state grass cutting contract.

The issue of the ferry had been brought up at the council’s meeting on June 9 when representatives of the Department of Transportation and Development told members there were no plans to bring a larger ferry to the parish. There have been concerns from commuters about the size of theferry and its operating times.

“We need to see how to get a larger ferry and satisfy the people who use it day-to-day,” councilman Perry Bailey said.

Landry said a backup ferry is being repaired and should be available shortly. He said he will work with the local government to try to get alarger boat, but he added there are no plans currently to get one.

“If one is available, we will be looking for it,” Landry said.

Landry said one of the problems is determining what are the peak times for the ferry. A lot of the ferry traffic is people going to and from thecourthouse in Edgard, and Landry said court times are always different.

“If it had a steady peak time, it might me a different ballgame,” Landry said.

Landry offered an immediate solution of constructing more parking space at the ferry landings and having more passenger traffic. Bailey said moreneeds to be done to address the problem, but Landry said a more long-term solution will take at least a year.

Faucheux pointed out that Landry was instrumental in keeping the ferry at Reserve after a bill was introduced to eliminate ferries in some parishes with bridges. Faucheux said he started trying to get a larger boat for thearea back in 1996.

A more heated debate came over the issue of the state grass cutting contract. Councilman Richard Wolfe said parish workers are being used tocut grass along state highways such as U.S. 61, U.S. 51 and River Roadwhile parish right-of-ways are being neglected.

“Grass in my district is 6 to 8 feet tall,” Wolfe said. “Explain that.Explain why we are cutting state grass for free and neglecting the people who put us in office. Let them get a private contractor for that and wewill take care of our streets, parish streets and the people who put us in office.”Wolfe said fears that by getting out of the state contract the parish would lose employees are unwarranted and that the workers the parish currently has could be used on parish roads. Parish president Arnold Labat saidWolfe is completely correct, but he added you also have to look at the flip side of the parish never looking better. He pointed out that there used tobe willow trees growing in state right-of-ways.

“Labat is right that there used to be willow trees growing in state right- of-ways, but now they are growing in our right-a-ways,” Wolfe said. “Weneed to take care of our people.”Wolfe introduced a motion to get out of the $48,000 yearly contract with the state. Bailey asked that the motion be tabled after Labat said he willget back to the council at its next meeting with a draft to address the issue. The council then voted unanimously to table the motion until theJuly 14 meeting.

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