Wright: Mardi Gras highlights plenty to celebrate

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Happy Mardi Gras! It seems that Carnival season came in a blink of an eye and is almost over.

Congratulations to the King & Queen of the Krewe of Allovus, who held their ball this last weekend and also to Krewe DuMonde, who will hold their annual ball this coming weekend.

Carnival season hasn’t slowed down the Council or Administration. Recently several Council and Administration members met with members of our Senate and Congressional delegation to discuss several important topics to St. John Parish.

Parish priorities were discussed with Senator Bill Cassidy, Congressman Cedric Richmond and Congressman Garret Graves. Among the list of important topics, several familiar and crucial projects stood out: Westshore Lake Pontchartrain Levee Project, FEMA Mitigation funds and the National Flood Insurance Program.

It was emphasized the need to expedite funding for the levee project to protect the River Parishes. The West Shore Levee project cost is estimated at nearly $720 million with St. John Parish responsible for a match near $50 million with an annual $5 million in maintenance costs.

Recently the Parish Council called for an Ad Valorem tax election to be held in April.

This additional tax would allow the parish to provide matching funds to be able to secure federal dollars for the project. On average, households assessed from $100,000 to $500,000 would have an estimated $17 to $300 per year impact.

Both Council and Administration have committed to taking every step necessary to minimize the financial burden on homeowners, however levee construction and maintenance funding is a top priority.

Peavine Boat Launch improvements were completed after much anticipation and a ribbon cutting was held on Feb. 1. The nearly $400,000 CDBG grant funded project improvements consisted of a new walking pier over the existing rock jetty, dredging of the channel and installation of new lighting to improve the safety of boaters during launching. The parking lots were also asphalted.

Burk-Kleinpeter, Inc was the design engineer on the project, and it was funded primarily through a Gustav-Ike Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). Other projects funded through this grant were minor home repairs, Foxwood levee, canal clearing and generators for Parish lift stations.

I would like to extend a big “Thank You” for Louisiana DOTD for always being a good partner in St. John.

The completion of the turning lane on Main St. and Highway 61, as well as Hemlock and Highway 61 have been two long awaited important projects for St. John. These two major infrastructure upgrades are part of our commitment to our residents on continuously investing in infrastructure and working to make improvements where necessary.

As we enter Mardi Gras weekend, I would like to wish you and your family a “Happy Mardi Gras” on behalf of the St. John the Baptist Parish Council. Stay safe St. John!

Michael P. Wright is St. John the Baptist Parish Council District 5 representative and Council vice chairman. Contact him at District5@sjbparish.com or m.wright@sjbparish.com.