Wright: Saturday election is important for St. John

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Early voting was underway last week for the March 25 election.

This is an important election for St. John, as voters will be voting on their new representatives in their respective districts: the District 10 School Board seat vacated by Rodney Nicholas and District 7 Council seat vacated by Buddy Boe.

The runoff date for the election should one be needed is April 29.

In other news:

• St. John Parish recently hosted an Animal Rabies Vaccination Campaign, which was sponsored by St. John Parish Health Unit & Riverlands Animal Hospital. The vaccination fee was $8 and was held on March 4 throughout various locations in LaPlace, Reserve, Garyville and Edgard.

Please make sure your pets are up to date on their vaccines.

• The St. John Parish Offices of Fire Services hosted a blood drive this past Monday with Ochsner Blood Bank at the Hemlock Fire Station in LaPlace. The blood drive benefitted Devon Jackson Jr., the newborn son of St. John Firefighter Devon Jackson, Sr. and Ladeja Louper.

Thank you to all who supported this great cause.

• During the Council’s most recent Finance meeting on March 14, several infrastructure projects were moved towards completion. A certificate of Substantial Completion was approved for the Parish Generator Project. This project was initiated in 2013 with a Hurricane Gustav-Ike Office of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).

The project consisted of installation of seven permanent generators above flood elevations and two automatic transfer switches for backup power to critical infrastructure.

Generators were installed at several lift stations and wastewater plants. Automatic transfer switches were installed at several stations.

The Council also authorized execution of a contract to extend the timeframe of the contract to coincide with construction of the Reserve Oxidation Pond. The pond will be used to treat 3 million gallons of wastewater a day in a more natural and cost effective manner. This project is funded through an EPA grant and the 2010 Bond Issue.

• A special election is scheduled for  April 29 so citizens can vote on a 7-mil property tax for flood protection. The tax will fund the parish’s portion of an 18-mile Hurricane/Flood Protection Levee extending from the Bonnet Carré Spillway in Montz to the Hope Canal in Garyville.

Hurricanes Isaac, Gustav and Ike fully exposed our vulnerability to flooding and tidal surges, and The Great Flood of 2016 threatened homes and businesses. After more than 40 years of study, the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Hurricane Risk Reduction Project received Congressional authorization to move forward in December of 2016.

The total estimated cost for the levee is $718 million, and St. John Parish has a cost share of $50 million, which is required to receive federal funding. The annual maintenance cost is estimated to cost the parish an additional $5 million a year.

The estimated cost per month for homes valued from $100,000 to $300,000 is $1.50 to $13.12. Homes valued from $400,000 to $1,000,000 will cost an additional $18.95 to $53.95 more per month.

We encourage everyone to get out and vote.

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.