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Council pledges $4 million for jail

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / September 14, 1998

HAHNVILLE – The new St. Charles Parish jail project took another vitalstep forward with approval Tuesday of a resolution of support.

The St. Charles Parish Council pledged $4 million toward the $15.5 millionproject.

The present jail, built in 1978 and now housing 119 inmates at most, is inadequate to keep up with the population and crime rate in St. CharlesParish, especially with juvenile offenders.

At present, all juveniles and many adult inmates have to be housed in facilities outside St. Charles Parish.Recognizing this, Sheriff Greg Champagne assembled a planning team which has developed a proposed jail modeled on the Terrebonne Parish “pod” jail. This is designed for the minimum number of guards tosupervise the maximum number of inmates.

The plan is to use 390 of the projected 590 beds in a new facility to house state Department of Corrections inmates. The remaining 200 beds wouldprimarily be used for pre-trial detainees.

The sheriff’s office receives $22 per day per DOC inmate. By housing aguaranteed 390 state inmates per day, the sheriff’s office can realize $3,131,700 per year.

This guaranteed income would help finance the sheriff’s $11.5 millionportion of the construction of the facility and continue in contributing to operating costs. The parish would kick in the other necessary $4 millionand the best part, Champagne said, is no new taxes on the public.

The sheriff continued the new jail would also make necessary the hiring of 80 additional jailers.

A 40-acre site is being sought, and Champagne hopes to break ground on the site in spring 1999 and open by January 2001.

“It’s one of those things too good to pass up,” Parish President Chris Tregre commented after Champagne’s presentation during the Parish Council meeting.

In other action, the Parish Council approved a $1.725 million constructioncontract for drainage improvements to the Davis-Barton area of Luling.

Four companies submitted bids on Aug. 7, and the low-bid firm of Krebs,LaSalle, LeMieux Consultants was selected.

Also, the Parish Council approved an amendment to the special-use permit ordinance, where applicants are now barred from applying for variances from the Zoning Board of Adjustments.

Tregre said by the council approving a special-use permit, that was already a variance from the usual zoning and any further variance would be a hardship to neighbors.

The Parish Council also approved changing the name of the Department of Economic Development to the Department of Economic Development and Tourism.

A gate will be re-installed up the bayou at Des Allemands near the pumping station to prevent further dumping in the area. Years ago, a gatehad been installed in the area to safeguard the pump station, with keys provided for landowners.

However, disputes over keys and vandalism prompted the removal of the gate. Since then, increased dumping has created a problem for landownersand neighbors, prompting the re-installation of the gate.

Louis Authement of the St. Charles Rotary Club thanked the parishgovernment and also New Sarpy resident Stanford Caillouet for their help in the recent cabbageball tournament, especially with the dunking booth.

The dunking booth will be featured at the upcoming Alligator Festival, Sept. 25-27, and public officials are invited to participate.A proclamation recognizing Grandparents Week, Sept. 13-19, waspresented to Margaret Powe, executive director of the St. Charles Councilon Aging.

Finally, former Planning and Zoning Director Joe Lassus received a plaque of appreciation for his service, July 1992 to July 1998. Also, MichaelStein, formerly a Civil Service Board Commission from November 1989 to June 1998, was likewise honored.

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