Former Parish President Labat responds to Boe letter

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 30, 2005


I am pleased that Mr. Gary “Buddy” Boe agrees with me. “Dreams are great, but taking care of your basic needs first is more realistic.” However, Mr. Boe in his June 25 letter does not recognize how destitute the Parish was at the time and the condition the Parish was in when I took office as St. John’s first parish president in 1984. I can understand this, because Mr. Boe was just an infant at the time. We had a great Council under a new form of government. By working with them with very little money, much was accomplished in a few short years to sustain the growth the Parish enjoyed throughout my term and Mr. Millet’s term in office. The many accomplishments were so numerous that this letter would take up too much space to enumerate all of them, but I must cite a few significant ones.

In 1984, the Parish had two kinds of water – brown and none. The water and sewage situation was so critical that the Parish had to put a moratorium on new construction in the Parish. We, the Council and the Parish President, put together a bond issue, installed a new Parish-wide water system, increased the Lions water treatment plant capacity by three and one-half million gallons, added a new, additional four -million-gallon well at Ruddock, with an additional 24-inch line from it to LaPlace, with all of the water meeting specifications.

In 1984, the Parish had raw sewage running in its ditches and canals with only the ability to treat one and one-half million gallons of sewage. By the end of 1987, we put together a sewer package for Parish-wide sewerage, which included three new sewer plants on the West Bank of the Parish and three new plants on the East Bank, plus increased the River Road plant capacity to five million gallons a day. If you add up the sewer plant treatment capacity just on the East Bank, the Parish has the ability to treat 10 million gallons of sewage. This should be sufficient to provide sewage treatment for 25,000 homes on the East Bank of the Parish. This is twice the number of homes (12,500) we have today on the Parish’s East Bank. Why we are having a problem with sewerage today is another story, that I will be glad to go into at another date, if requested.

The Parish, working with South Central Planning, put together a Parish-wide zoning plan, which is working, and later, installed a Department of Planning and Zoning. It’s not perfect, but what Parish has a perfect plan that satisfies everybody?

In 1984, the Parish had roads with potholes that were so large that a dump truck could fall into them. All asphalt roads in the Parish were resurfaced. Today, although not perfect, we have decent roads in St. John Parish. Working with our state officials, many new connecting roads were built, and the Veterans Memorial Bridge was completed, opening uip the West Bank of the Parish to growth.

In 1984, our Civil Defense Department was practically non-existent, being housed in a 12×12 office. Today, it is recognized as one of the finest in the nation. 9-1-1 was installed for the protection of our citizens and also it is one of the best.Fire stations were built throughout the Parish, and state of the art equipment was purchased, saving the citizens hundreds of dollars each year in fire insurance cost. Parish-wide ambulance service was also provided for our citizens.New libraries were built in every area of the Parish. Twelve new recreation parks were built and improved.

I could go on and on with the accomplishments of presidents and councilmen between the years of 1984 and 2000, but I think you, the public, gets the message. If you, Mr. Boe, really want to learn more about what occurred in the Parish while you were growing up, please contract me personally, and I will be more than willing to explain to you the planning and progress that occurred.

Thanks for the compliment, Mr. Boe, but I do not agree with you that the solutions to the Parish problems are relatively easy. There is much more to be accomplished. Our next Parish President had better be knowledgeable, experienced, and know what is really occurring and be able to make expedient, prudent decisions. It’s important!

Arnold Labat

Former Parish President