This fellow might be running a little too much

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 13, 2008

By Kevin Chiri

I like to talk about things I do, and where I go around St. John Parish. But today I’m having a little trouble narrowing down where I’ve been, and deciding just what to talk about. Point is, I’ve been running a little too much.

How about Saturday in the parking lot outside the Donut Hole?

I was part of the very successful car wash put on by my LaPlace Rotary Club, which has this annual event as a way to help the law enforcement guys and gals who do so much for us.

But for this year, we were helping out the doggie guys and gals.

That’s right, our goal this year was to raise money so we could purchase bulletproof vests for—you ready?—the K-9 dogs.

Hey, these dogs are unbelieveable, and deserve just as much appreciation and support as the real men and women of the St. John Sheriff’s Office force.

We got to see a demonstration of the dogs that day, and how amazing they are in finding drugs, or explosives, or running down criminals and helping capture them. These dogs are a great benefit to the lawmen they work with, and also as a deterrent to crime to help us all.

As for the car wash, I’m still having trouble bending over, or even getting up out of my chair for that matter. The muscles and bones are still pretty stiff from a lot of tire washing and more. I keep telling my wife that I have retired any line from my vocabulary which goes along with “now that I’m older,” and I’m determined to quit saying that. After all, I’m just 53 and am in pretty good shape for my age—or at least that’s what my wife keeps saying. Isn’t she sweet?

So without saying anything about my age, let’s just say that I was only one of many people who did a whole lotta’ car washin’ that day, and I’m paying the price for it today.

But in the end, it was a great benefit headed up by Rotary Club Member Melanie Basile, who is also the manager of Fidelity Homestead on Airline Highway. Melanie did a great job getting lots of law enforcement to come out that day, bringing everything from fire trucks, to K-9 dogs, to Sheriff Wayne Jones himself. Well, maybe the sheriff didn’t mind making an appearance since people like LaPlace Concrete owner Alan Consantine and Jacob’s Andouille owner Aaron Lions both donated over $1,000 to the cause.

In the end, we took in enough donations for our “great” car washing ability, that we raised a little bit over $5,000, which will help all the dogs have vests, which cost just over $1,000 per dog.

Thanks in particular to a bunch of teens, and young college kids, who joined in to help us. Man, would we have been lost without them. I don’t want to name a few of them since I didn’t catch every name, but let me just say that we greatly appreciate your help on the project. It’s good to have a little young blood out there to help the “olde…..” I mean, the rest of the Rotary members.

On Friday night the wife and I made a stop by the River Region Chamber Crawfish Boil and Raffle, which is a major fundraiser to help the Chamber operate all year long. Highlight of the night is the chance to win $10,000.

This year there were two businesses which split the $10,000, as Valero St. Charles Refinery and Lester Haydel Jr. of Hy-Tech Roofing will share the trop prize.

There were also four individual $1,000 winners and they were Thaddeus Breaux Jr., David Ryals, Melanie McDowell and Bob Schenck.

Congratulations to Melba Perez-Berguno, a social worker at River Parishes Hospital, who was named the 2008 national Mercy Award winner for LifePoint Hospitals. I stopped by the hospital on Monday morning to see Melba and take a picture.

I did a story some weeks back about Melba being named the local winner for River Parishes Hospital, which then qualifies her for the LifePoint national competition.

Out of almost 50 other health care givers, Melba was selected number one from the entire bunch, and received a phone call just over a week ago from company CEO Bill Carpenter, informing her she was the winner.

Melba will receive a trip to Chicago, Ill. for she and her husband, and gets a check for $5,000.

When you look at the many things Melba does for our community (see story page one), it’s no surprise that the committee making the final decision had to pick her for the national honor.

Congratulations Melba. From all I’ve seen and heard about you, there couldn’t have been a more deserving winner.

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