Final cut: St. John sheriff ends grass program

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, May 27, 2014

By Monique Roth

EDGARD — St. John the Baptist Parish inmates will no longer be seen cutting grass or landscaping areas around the parish come July 1.

St. John Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre announced this month his department would no longer be contracting with the parish to provide grass cutting and landscaping services to the parish, citing a lack of qualified inmates.

“I cannot continue to send hardened criminals to the streets of St. John Parish,” Tregre said. “I cannot jeopardize public safety.”

He said the parish has been paying the sheriff’s office $150,000 annually for the services, with the total paid in two $75,000 installments. He said the parish owes $75,000, but that in good faith he would be willing to cancel that final payment. The current contract ends on June 30.

“We are grateful for the years of service the sheriff’s office was able to provide in assisting the parish with grass cutting, litter control and staging parish events,” St. John Parish President Natalie Robottom said. “I understand the problem he has securing enough inmates to fulfill the contract and will work with his office through the end of the contract in June to complete all tasks assigned.”

Tregre said carefully screened inmates would continue to help in some efforts, such as sandbagging in emergency situations.

The parish is currently reviewing options as to who will provide the service beginning in July, Robottom said.