RTC exploring parish cable market

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 30, 1999

ERIK SANZENBACH / L’Observateur / October 30, 1999

LAPLACE- Reserve Telecommunications is one step closer to becoming a cable television provider in St. John the Baptist Parish.Tuesday, the St. John Parish Council passed an ordinance giving thecompany the right to start the evaluation process to see if a second cable TV system is feasible in the parish. RTC said it will be the firstcommunications company to provide cable, telephone and high-speed internet access to residents in the parish.

Charles Lorio, legal counsel for the Parish Council, said he was satisfied with the contract and the council unanimously passed the ordinance.

If the evaluation process shows a cable system is financially feasible, RTC plans to spend over $8 million to construct the system that will span both sides of the river.

“We will be breaking new ground by building a high-tech modern system,” said Mickey Triche, RTC vice-president of sales and marketing. “We willbecome a single provider of telecommunications solutions throughout the parish.”Council President Duaine Duffy said he was also happy with the contract, citing several provisions that RTC would provide feeds to all public buildings like schools and the courthouse, and that the parish would get a franchise fee from RTC.

“Plus,” said Duffy, “this will help competition in the cable business, which is good for all of us.”Triche said the study should take about six months.

“If all goes well, we should be ready to go by the end of the first quarter next year,” Triche said.

In other council business, an ordinance that addressed safety of swimming pools was passed.

Councilman Nickie Monica, who introduced the ordinance, wants to make it harder for children to wander into backyards where there are swimming pools. The ordinance requires that everyone who has either an above-ground or below-ground pool be required to get a permit and follow two safety regulations.

First, all swimming pool owners must build a fence with a locking gate around the pool, and the water line of the pool not be more than 10 feet from the property line.

Laurette Thymes, director of Zoning and Planning, requested the ordinance be amended to lower the permit fees for the pools, saying the proposed $100 is too expensive. She suggested the fees be $25 for above-groundpools and $50 for below ground. Councilman Steve Thornton also objectedto the proposal that the fence be “sight-obscuring” because in his district there are community rules about such fences around the golf course.

Duffy also said he had problems with the 10-foot limit on the water line.

After some discussion, it was moved that the ordinance be amended to lower the permit fees, take out the “sight-obscuring” phrase for the fencing and extend the water line of the pool to 5 feet from the property line. The amended ordinance was passed unanimously.In another matter, the much-awaited Garyville drainage project is one step closer to completion as the council accepted the bid of B & K Construction Co. for $91,932 to install culverts under the ICS and KCrailroad tracks to alleviate flooding in Garyville.

The proposed animal shelter is also getting closer to a reality. Thearchitectural firm of Broussard and Associates submitted revised plans and costs to the council. After listening to the council and the AnimalControl Board’s reaction to its previous plans, the architects adjusted their design and decreased the size of the animal shelter. This cut thecost of the building in half from $1 million to around $500,000. Howeverthey also designed the building for future expansion. The council resolvedto take the new plans under advisement for the year 2000 budget.

Finally Kevin Belanger of South Central Planning asked the council to support the formation of a Complete Count Committee to help the U.S.Census get an accurate count of the parish population during the year 2000.

Belanger told the council it is very important monetarily to get a complete count in the census. For every misplaced or uncounted person theparish loses $150 in federal money. This could add up to millions in thelong run, because the actual census count is locked in for 10 years, and the federal government bases all its decisions on the numbers of the previous census.

Gerald Robinson, an employee of the U.S. Census Bureau, explained to thecouncil that it needs to promote the census throughout the parish and tell people not to fear the census. He said the parish should advertise that”being counted is good.” Robinson also said there is a need for census takers, and that soon applications will be taken for this job since the census will begin in March 2000. Robinson said the job would last from six to eight weeks andwould pay from $9 to $10 an hour.

Parish President Arnold Labat also stressed the importance of the census to the financial well-being of the parish. He said that after the 1980census the South Central Planning Commission did another census of the parish and ended up adding 30,000 people that the U.S. Census had missed.”The council should make every effort to get a perfect count,” Labat said.

The council unanimously passed the resolution to form a Correct Count Committee.

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