ARC of St. John to undergo remodel

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 27, 2011



LAPLACE – The St. John the Baptist Parish Council on Tuesday gave the approval for renovation work to begin on a building for the ARC of St. John by granting approval of the organization’s architect choice.

The agency, which provides work and training to 64 adults in the parish with disabilities, was asking for permission to use $230,000 of revenue from the agency’s .98 mill property tax to enlarge classrooms and work space within the group’s 10,000-square-foot building on Bamboo Road in LaPlace. The agency needs the extra space so it can expand its client base from 64 to 105 because demand for slots in its sheltered work environment is growing.

Dorothy Massi, president of the ARC Board of Directors, told the council the agency had chosen architect Craig Hebert of Houma to design the project. She said Hebert’s firm has had experience working with the ARC of Terrebonne Parish.

The council voted unanimously to approve the architect, with Councilman Haston Lewis absent.

Massi said once the project has been designed, construction will be put out for public bid by the parish. She said the group is also interested in constructing a second building on the existing site, but that project has not been finalized.

In other action, the council approved a resolution to begin the process of refinancing up to $11.2 million in general obligation bonds from 2002 and 2003 bond issues, which helped fund road and drainage projects in the parish along with new parks and new parish building construction. Parish President Natalie Robottom said the refinancing will result in an estimated savings of more than $704,000 over the next 10 years.

The council also took no action on a proposed resolution supporting continued production of ethanol-free regular gasoline offered by Councilman Ronnie Smith and LaPlace resident Alton “Pete” Landry.

Landry made a presentation to the council about forthcoming federal mandates to boost ethanol-blended gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent. He said the continued addition of ethanol would damage home lawn equipment, older marine engines and even portable electric generators. He said Terrebonne Parish approved a similar resolution earlier this year.

The measure drew opposition from Marathon Petroleum Co., which operates a refinery in Garyville. A.J. Anderson, manager of the Louisiana Refining Division, wrote a letter to the council indicating the company offers a midgrade 90-octane gasoline that contains no ethanol. The letter also stated the refinery is under federal mandates requiring nearly 14 billion gallons of renewable fuels be blended into the nation’s transportation fuel supply this year

“Imposing an additional mandate requiring all refineries to supply gasoline without ethanol would further complicate fuel-supply logistics and impose additional, unnecessary costs, “ the letter said.

No one on the council offered a motion on the resolution so it could be discussed and voted on.

The council also approved substantial completion of the new Greenwood Drive bridge in LaPlace at a final cost of $429,700, which is roughly $11,280 less than the original bid price.