Reserve opposition steps up
Published 12:00 am Friday, May 23, 2008
By KEVIN CHIRI
Editor and Publisher
RESERVE – “Preserve Reserve.”
Simple, catchy, and to the point.
That’s the way Gerald Keller wants the slogan to come across for his small group, making a clear point that Reserve does not want anything to do with the incorporation of Garyville.
Keller is the first vocal leader from Reserve who is fighting the incorporation of Garyville, a matter that will be decided in a July 19 vote, after a group called the Garyville Incorporation Committee obtained enough signatures on a petition to submit to Governor Bobby Jindal, requesting the vote.
Now the two sides in the fight to incorporate, or not to incorporate, are becoming more clear by the day.
Keller lives in Reserve, although not the area that is in the Garyville proposed boundaries. But he said he still has every right to fight for the preservation of Reserve, which has its own historic and cultural background.
“Just look at the area like Godchaux Sugar, and where it originally was. That is a historic area that is Reserve. Yet they have drawn boundaries for their new town which makes that become Garyville,” Keller said. “Reserve has its own rich culture and history, and we want it reserved for our town.”
Keller said the organizers of the incorporation drive are “stealing” part of Reserve, which hardly lines up with the early statements by the Incorporation Committee which said they wanted to be good neighbors.
“Their own mission states that they want to be good neighbors,” Keller noted. “But they are stealing part of Reserve, and that is not being a good neighbor. This will not preserve the heritage of our town. Reserve is not Garyville and we don’t want them taking part of our town.”
Keller, president of the St. John Parish School Board and a longtime educator all his life, said that he has started the group called “Preserve Reserve” and only has a small handful of people.
But he said that the group has begun to visit the approximately 300 people who live in Lions and Dutch Bayou, portions of Reserve that have been drawn into the proposed Garyville boundaries.
Keller’s group is also getting a petition signed, and he said they now have “over 100 signatures” from the 300 people in that area, who are all saying they do not want to become part of the Garyville incorporation.
For that matter, Keller said many of the people they have talked to, who have signed their petition, said they were misled when signing the original petition.
“They have told me that they trusted Scott Himel, who got the signatures, since he told them they were just signing something to get more information on the possible incorporation effort, not signing to ask for a vote on the matter,” Keller said.
Keller said that Eugene Borne, a business owner in that region of Airport Road, is also working closely with him in the fight against the incorporation.
“That business area is not happy about this either,” Keller said. “We don’t care if Garyville wants to incorporate, but the biggest thing we are against at this point is the fact that they have drawn the boundaries in a way that are not contiguous. If you take out the industry, it is not contiguous at all. They have even included large areas of land that don’t even have people living there.”
Keller believes that the matter will end up in court before the July 19 vote.
“Something has to be done to clarify this industry issue before the election,” he explained. “If industry doesn’t sue now, but then comes back after the election to ask the courts to exclude them, the judge will probably say ‘hey, where were you before the vote? It’s too late now.’ That’s why I think this issue has to be cleared up before the election,” he added.
Keller said he only wants the facts straight for voters when they go to the polls, since right now they are getting two different sides to the story of whether big industry will be included in the Garyville boundaries or not.
Keller said that his group will hold a public hearing in the near future.