Elected leaders in St. John, St. James, St. Charles Parishes take office next week

Published 12:06 am Wednesday, January 6, 2016

EDGARD — Kurt Becnel joked this week that he has been St. John the Baptist Parish Government’s No. 1 advertiser for community participation.

“As a matter of fact, I’m a walking billboard,” he said. “I’m telling everybody and encouraging everybody to attend because it’s something everybody needs to be involved in.”

The newly elected District 1 Parish Councilman would like as many people as possible to attend the events Monday set up as part of the 2016 Inauguration Ceremonies.

Becnel is assuming the seat following a runoff election victory over Lester “Coach” Smith. The seat was previously held by Art Smith.

“I’m looking forward to (Monday,)” Becnel said. “Many of my constituents are giving me a heads up on the issues that matter to them right now. It helps me get ready for what lies ahead. I’m looking forward to working with the new Council. I’ve been to every Council meeting since I officially won the race. I feel good. I’m real excited.”

Becnel will be joined Monday by each member of the Parish Council and Parish President Natalie Robottom as they are sworn into office.

“As Parish President, I remain committed to providing a secure economic future and improving the quality of life for all of our residents and business owners,” Robottom said. “I’d like to thank all of our outgoing Council members for their service and welcome the new Council members as they begin their new journey of public service.”

Robottom said the transition period is a great time to build relationships, prepare for varying roles and responsibilities and plan for growth.

“I am grateful for the support and encouragement displayed in 2015 and approach 2016 with excitement and renewed vigor,” she said. “I ask you to join in our efforts of bringing our community together to reach its greatest potential for future generations.”

The community events begin at 10 a.m. Monday with Mass at St. John the Baptist Church, 2361 Louisiana 18 in Edgard.

The Inauguration Ceremony starts at 11 a.m. Monday in St. John the Baptist Parish Courthouse, 2393 Louisiana 18 in Edgard. An Inaugural Gala concludes the evening from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday at the St. John Community Center, 2900 U.S. 51 in LaPlace.

All events are open to the public.

A similar schedule is planned next week in St. James Parish, where an Ecumenical Service and Inaugural Ceremonies are get kicked off at 10:30 a.m. Monday at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in Vacherie.

The organizational meeting of the St. James Parish Council will be held at 2 p.m. Monday at the Vacherie Courthouse Annex in Vacherie.

St. James officials said a social will immediately follow the ceremony at the Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church Hall.

As stipulated in the Home Rule Charter, St. James Parish Council members will select a chairman, vice-chairman and appoint a secretary to the Council next week at the meeting.

The ceremonies start one day sooner in St. Charles Parish, where the Inaugural Ceremonies for St. Charles Parish President and the Parish Council are planned from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Edward A. Dufresne Community Center, 274 Judge Edward Dufresne Parkway in Luling.

There will also be a 10 a.m. Sunday Mass at St. Charles Borromeo Church, 13396 River Road in Destrehan before the actual inauguration.

All nine members of the St. Charles Parish Council and the parish president will be sworn in at 11:30 a.m. at the Edward A. Dufresne Community Center in Luling.