SJBP Council OKs plan to help Duck’s Ice

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 7, 2009


LAPLACE — The St. John Parish Council has approved a measure to allow the parish to finance an expansion at an Edgard ice plant that will help the facility to become certified to distribute ice under FEMA guidelines.

The resolution, unanimously approved at a June 23 council meeting, sets up a preliminary agreement to award Duck’s Ice with a $330,000 grant from the parish that will help pay for additions and improvements at the ice manufacturing and bagging facility on the west bank. The expansion will double the ice output at the plant and allow the facility to distribute ice in multiple areas affected by a potential disaster or emergency situation.

“This expansion will put Duck’s Ice in a position to land large disaster contracts all over the area,” said St. John Public Information Officer Buddy Boe. “It will give them the ability to produce enough ice to satisfy all necessary FEMA guidelines for distribution.”

As part of the expansion, Boe said Duck’s will get a larger freezer, an additional automated icemaker, storage bins and a transport trailer. The move is expected to create about 10 permanent jobs and Ice output at the facility will jump from 32 tons per day to 64 tons per day.

“This is an economic development opportunity on the west bank, where economic investment does not happen as often as it should,” Boe said. “This agreement will reach beyond St. John to benefit the entire region including all of the River Parishes and surrounding areas. Having a large ice supplier in region is vital to the area when dealing with a storm. It gives us easy access to large amounts of ice with a quick turnaround.”

Helmuth Rousseve, who has owned and operated Duck’s Ice since the facility was founded in 1969, approached Parish President Bill Hubbard with the expansion idea back in early 2008 when Hubbard was elected into office. The two sides went through a series of meetings regarding impact and viability of the expansion.

“I saw it as an opportunity to increase my outreach into other areas and assist other parts of the region in an emergency,” Rousseve said. “I’m looking forward to this partnership with the parish.”

Boe said the parish is very selective when financing any part of a project when tax dollars are involved. The parish first has to determine whether there are similar businesses in the area to ensure there is no close competition. He said Duck’s Ice is the only ice manufacturer in the River Parishes and one of five in the New Orleans metro area.

“We won’t have competition with anyone else in the area,” Boe said. “This gives us a larger supply of ice and puts our facility at the top of the list when FEMA is looking for an ice distributor.”

Boe said the actual agreement is still being ironed out regarding what the parish will own and finance and how the parish will be paid back. He said the agreement calls for a five-year payback period, but no terms were available yet.