Long-time St. James councilman not seeking re-election

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 6, 2011

By Baileigh Rebowe


CONVENT – District 1 St. James Parish Councilman Elwyn Bocz announced Wednesday at the council meeting in Convent he will not be seeking re-election in the fall after occupying the seat for 20 years.

The councilman said he wanted to publicize his retirement at the meeting so candidates wishing to run could be aware of his decision.

Bocz said his wife retired this past year, and it was time for him to follow suit.

“We plan on traveling and doing things together,” Bocz said.

Also at the meeting Nucor Corp. Plant Manager Lester Hart introduced himself to the public, saying he is “excited to be in Louisiana.”

Hart said his team at Nucor was just “scratching the ground” at the plant right now but hopes to start up in mid 2013.

The iron and steel plant will process coal into metallurgical-grade coke, which will then be converted into pig iron through a blast furnace process. The plant is expected to produce more than 6 million metric tons of iron per year.

Hart stressed Nucor’s “open door policy,” asking the audience and council members to notify him if there are any problems or miscommunication.

“Please, please don’t hesitate to call. It might turn out that we’ll both learn something,” said Hart.

After living all across the country — and recently in Trinidad — he said he has felt the most love living in Louisiana.

“Everyone in this community has welcomed me with open arms,” said Hart. “I feel most at home here.”

St. James Parish President Dale Hymel said business with the plant is on schedule. The parish is working now to complete the lease agreement and land transfer.

In other action, the council passed an ordinance to hold a special election on Nov. 19 to vote on a disabled veterans tax exemption.

The exemption, if passed, will provide assistance to 100 percent-disabled veterans and their spouses. The results of the special election will be announced at the council meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at 6:30 p.m. in Convent.

The council also passed an ordinance to amend the St. James Parish Code of Ordinances regarding outdoor burning.

During the voting, District 7 Councilman James Brazan added two citations to the revised ordinance, including: the location of the burning must be at least 300 feet from any dwelling or structure located on the property on which the burning is conducted; and care must be used to minimize the amount of dirt on the material being burned under the “Exceptions to Prohibition Against Outdoor Burning” section.

Lastly, the council passed a resolution to levy taxable property for 2011 at 1.6 mills. Hymel said it is almost a 4 percent reduction from last year.

Property tax has been reduced by more than 7 mills since Hymel first assumed the office 20 years ago.