St. John Cleanup had the right kind of leadership

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 8, 2008

By Kevin Chiri

I spent an enjoyable time Friday morning working with my LaPlace Rotary buddies as we joined in the St. John cleanup day, or should I say couple of days.

The St. John Cleanup Day, which turned into two days on Friday and Saturday, April 4 and 5, turned into a pretty big deal as I watched over the last couple of weeks, and slowly saw more-and-more groups join in.

The day is sponsored by the Keep St. John Beautiful organization, and used to be a single day to try and highlight the need for us all to chip in and help. Hopefully every person reading this column will agree that there couldn’t be anything better that we could all participate in.

But this year seemed to show more enthusiasm than most for the effort, and I believe you can point to the St. John administration for much of that.

Once again, new Parish President Bill Hubbard is taking a leadership role on something that seemed important for St. John. And it is clear that when the parish president does such a thing, he can get things done.

Hubbard not only volunteered any kind of help he could to the effort, as did St. John Sheriff Wayne Jones who dedicated his inmate work crews on Friday, but he even went further than that.

I got a call late in the week from St. John Public Information Officer Buddy Boe who was calling since Bill wanted to know if we could arrange at the last minute to get some litter bags inserted into our newspaper.

My first reaction was not whether we could do it or not, but more like “what a great idea!”

That kind of enthusiasm for the cleanup suddenly made me want to do a little more myself. We had already been doing all we could to give the cleanup days a lot of front page attention so hopefully more people would join in, but now we had a way to do something even more tangible.

Buddy said the parish would pay to have the bags inserted into our paper, but that was a good opportunity for L’Observateur to contribute in its own way, so I told Buddy that we would pick up the cost of the insertion.

The trash bags, which were perfect for individuals to just pick up trash in their own yards, was just one small way the cleanup effort had picked up steam, and I think I saw a final instance of the success of the entire program on Saturday when I drove down old Highway 51 looking for some pictures for the paper.

On our front page today you will see a local resident, Stephanie Faucheux and her two young daughters, who happened to be walking down the street picking up paper to join in the effort. Not only did Stephanie, along with her daughters Gabrielle, 12, and Chloe, 7, help out, but it was also teaching those kids the principle we hope all the young people around here get—and that is to not litter in the first place.

On Friday I was at the bank and I ran into my buddy Gregg Simon, owner of Gregg’s Supermarket in Reserve, and he told me about yet another excellent move by Hubbard in this entire project.

Gregg told me how impressed he was that he got a letter in the mail from Bill which asked him, as a local businessman, to take a few minutes each day to make sure someone picks up the trash in front of his business.

Not only is that a great idea, but Gregg was obviously impressed that the parish president was taking that approach to involve all the business people in such a move.

I agree.

It was yet another way that Hubbard was showing strong leadership to get everyone involved in the cleanup, and something that will take only a little effort on the part of many, but have great results in the end with a cleaner looking St. John.

The St. John Cleanup is just one of so many projects Hubbard has launched out of the gate in his first couple of months as parish president, where he has done something on his own, or joined in something already in place, all for the good of our parish.

When Hubbard made what some thought were a few too many promises during the campaign about all the things he would do, I think there were a few people waiting in the wings to start pointing the finger when it didn’t happen.

But you know what? Not only has none of that happened, but Hubbard is doing so much so far as parish president that I can hardly keep up with it all.

I keep meaning to write something about Bill and the parish administration, and how much they have accomplished in such a short time so far. But truth is that every time I try to do it, they add something else that I need to find out about and include. (Check today’s front page story about the St. John Community Center.)

So for now, I have to give credit where credit is due, and that is to say our new parish president has far surpassed the expectations of this newspaper, in terms of tangible results to projects needed addressing in St. John.

And the great thing is that I believe you have still only seen the tip of the iceberg.

Kevin Chiri is Publisher of L’Observateur and can be reached at (985) 652-9545 or at