St. James Parish Council OKs polling place move

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 10, 2011



CONVENT – The St. James Parish Council on Wednesday voted to approve an ordinance to move a polling place for two Vacherie precincts to a different location as part of federal reapportionment mandates set forth in the redistricting plan.

The redistricting of parish lines created new precincts and new polling places to accommodate voter accessibility and compliance with state and local laws. The polling place in question is for precincts 16A and 16B in South Vacherie.

Parish President Dale Hymel explained the polling place was originally set at the South Vacherie Volunteer Fire Department substation on Louisiana Highway 644. He said the fire department board of directors requested the polling place be moved to the fire department’s fire and rescue training center at 29126 Health Unit St., formerly known as the old Lions Club building.

The council unanimously approved the measure.

In other action, the council heard from Craig Calcagano of the St. James Boat Club, who discussed possible council support of financing for maintenance and improvements of the club’s Blind River public boat launch in Gramercy inside the Maurepas Swamp Wildlife Management Area.

Calcagano said the launch area, which is located on Boat Club property and leased to the parish, is deteriorating with portions of the dock and certain pilings wearing away.

“There are loose boards and exposed nails all over the dock area,” Calcagano said. “Some portions are a real trip hazard.”

The launch was home to the Children’s Miracle Network Bass Tournament in March, as well as the annual Louisiana Friends Against Childhood Cancer Bass Tournament, which is set for Sept. 24. It is also heavily used by residents of St. James Parish and other parts of the region.

“Blind River is a beautiful area,” Calcagano said. “People stop to relax, watch the animals and fish. It is a gem for our parish that is in need of maintenance.”

The council and parish officials said they would look into the possibility of grants or budget money for regular maintenance at the launch.

The council also approved a resolution for the parish to apply for a Community Development Block Grant to help fund a water line under the Mississippi River to connect water plants on both sides of the river.

Hymel said the $3 million water line, which would connect water plants in Convent and Vacherie, will be helpful in the event the parish could not provide water to certain municipalities during a disaster. He said the issue came up during Hurricane Gustav in 2008 when Lutcher “ran out of water,” and the parish was nearly forced to ration water.