Roads, drainage and zoning issues dominate forum

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 11, 1999

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / October 11, 1999

NORCO – Candidates in St. Charles Parish for parish president,councilman-at-large and District 6 councilmen pledged their support Tuesday for the Norco Civic Association’s interests, especially on roads and drainage.

The forum was held at the Shell Employees’ Club building on River Road.

Two candidates missed the forum, parish president candidate Archie Mollere, and councilman-at-large G. “Ram” Ramchandran. Ramchandran isrecovering from quadruple bypass surgery and should resume campaigning in two weeks, according to spokesman Ziggy Sobolewski.

The candidates were previously provided a questionnaire which included 25 lengthy questions. Most of them dealt with drainage, roads and codeenforcement issues.

Following a brief introduction by the emcee, WWL-TV Morning Show host Eric Paulsen, candidates made opening remarks for the 100 audience members.

In response to the first question, all candidates supported the idea of annual inspections and repairs to Norco’s drainage system.

Donald Hogan commented he felt it should have been done all along, while Albert Laque added it should be done more often, if necessary. RustyRebowe replied that the problem developed because of a leadership gap at the top of parish administration.

Other candidates responded in like manner. Curtis Johnson urged the parishadministration to set and keep to priorities, while Clayton “Snookie” Faucheux urged intelligent planning and scheduling.

“If we don’t have enough people, let’s hire some,” Johnson said.

Ellis Alexander said he proposed such a system years ago, parishwide, while Bill Sirmon, Lance Marino and Bobby Colon answered similarly that they would push for such a system.

“We need a full-time crew, East and West Bank, to clean the ditches,” Sirmon commented.

Street resurfacing in the Norco area prompted another question, where the candidates were asked to have all the parish-owned streets in Norco repaired in the next four to five years.

Laque insisted more resurfacing was done during his presidency than in any time in parish history. Rebowe ageed the work needed to be done -“especially that bump on Sixth Street.”Faucheux urged cooperating with state legislators to work on River Road as well, while Alexander commented, “I hope we have a smarter council than now and not do the same streets over and over again.”Colon observed that Norco is the most-industrialized community in St.

Charles Parish and needed extra attention to street repairs.

Alexander said he successfully fought to have the West Bank River Road from Luling to the St. John line repaired for the first time in 20 years andpledged to do likewise on the East Bank.

Candidates also responded to a question of having the Spillway pump manned when necessary. Laque pointed out it was during hisadministration that the pump was installed and he would insure it would be manned by trained personnel.

The East Bank hurricane protection levee project is nearing completion, but still lacks pumps to move water from Norco to the wetlands. The civicassociation quizzed candidates on that issue as well.

Hogan said he believed every candidate would support that issue. Laquecommented, “I don’t understand the problem,” as pumps had originally been included and designed during his administration. He added he believedthe current administration “let the ball drop” to make sure pumps were included. Rebowe pledged it would be a top priority of his administration.Dilapidated and abandoned buildings is a problem in Norco, according to the civic association. Laque said, however, the problem is “not as simpleas it seems.”Rebowe pledged to “stay on top of it,” while Hogan likewise pledged to “work to enforce existing ordinances.”Finally, the candidates commented on Norco’s tax burden, higher than in other communities due to the Gravity Drainage District millage.

Hogan and Rebowe said they would address the apparent inequity. Laque, onthe other hand, pointed out it was voted on by Norco more than 40 years ago and added, “I don’t think Norco is being treated unfairly.”The Norco Civic Association presented the forum with the assistance of Shell/Motiva, who provided refreshments.

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