Reapportionment plan approved

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 10, 2002


VACHERIE – The St. James Parish Council unanimously adopted an ordinance this week establishing districts based on the 2000 United States census. The changes mirror those adopted by the St. James Parish School Board, which will be holding elections later this year.

The new district boundaries will be uniform for the council, school board, justice of peace and constable’s offices, as mandated by 1999 state law. Angele Rodrigue, the parish council secretary, said a public forum was held on each side of the Mississippi River to discuss the changes and no comment in opposition was made.

The council also adopted an ordinance to lease the land surrounding the St. James Youth Center to Sweet River Farms, Inc. The five-year lease will give owners Jerry Woods and Keith Matherine two years free of charge to prepare the acreage for planting. After which they will pay $40 per acre for usage of the land located near the Sunshine Bridge.

Neshelle Nogess, the new director of Sales and Use Tax for the school board, made a presentation outlining her vision for bringing the department. into the 21st century. Nogess said they have hired a field auditor for the first time, which will allow her department to monitor businesses in the community and ensure they are properly licensed and up to date on their sales tax payments.

She is also planning public seminars to keep the public informed on the school district’s finances, as well as the establishment of an Internet Web site where taxes can be filed.

The council unanimously passed all three resolutions presented by Parish President Dale Hymel on the New Business agenda.

These items included an authorization for Hymel to enter into a cooperative agreement with the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources that would further complete the parish’s Geographical Information System. Rodrigue said the parish would be applying for about $50,000 in state funds for the project.

The next item added The Hartford Life Insurance Company Section 457 Program to the parish’s Deferred Compensation Plan, which gives parish employees another option in the voluntary savings plan.

The final item authorized Hymel to draft a letter to Sens. John Breaux, Mary Landrieu, and Rep. Billy Tauzin requesting assistance in obtaining federal grant money to upgrade the existing East Bank drinking water treatment facility.

The parish has various low-pressure problems with the drinking water supply system, and the federal budget has monies to assist.

During their report, council members urged citizens of St. James Parish to participate April 13 in the Relay For Life. The event, which supports the American Cancer Society, will be held at Lutcher Park beginning at 5 pm.