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Parish Council adopts facemask resolution

LAPLACE — St. John the Baptist Parish Council followed in the steps of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ mandate requiring all residents to wear masks by adopting a similar resolution during its meeting this past Tuesday.

Following Councilwoman Tonia Schnyder’s gut-wrenching story regarding her daughter’s gruesome struggle with COVID-19, the council unanimously passed a resolution mirroring Edwards’ order for residents to wear face coverings while inside stores, restaurants and other establishments.

Schnyder said her daughter, who is in her early 20s, suffered with chills, pain and fever while battling the novel coronavirus. Schnyder said she was fortunate because she was able to care for her daughter at home but it still pained her to see her own child suffer.

“I could not help my child,” she said. “That hurt.”

Schnyder said she has been alarmed by the number of residents she has witnessed not wearing masks in public since more businesses have opened during Phase 2 of the state’s reopening. She implored residents to be courteous to each other by wearing masks to protect the other person.

While acknowledging that some may tire of constantly wearing a mask, she stressed that no one is exempt from virus.

“If someone is hospitalized because of your carelessness, you have to live with that,” she said, with a hint of emotion rising in her voice.

Left unanswered was any potential consequences for those not wearing masks or for retailers or restaurants who allow unmasked patrons to shop or dine in their place of business. Parish President Jaclyn Hotard endorsed the resolution but said her only issue was with the enforcement issue. She asked for clarity regarding penalties and fines for those without masks and who will be in charge of enforcement.

Council members did not directly address Hotard’s concerns before voting to approve the resolution.

Parish President Jaclyn Hotard holds a “Mask Up” sign.

In other council news, the administration was authorized to advertise for bids for parish wide canal drainage improvements, including the clearing and snagging and dredging of canals. One contract will be awarded for clearing and snagging and a second contract for dredging.

During the past several years, parish council members have stressed the importance of having the canals dredged and cleared to prevent street or even house flooding not only in hurricanes but also during severe rainstorms.

Several areas of the parish have been plagued with high water during such rain events.

  • In a response to Councilman Robbie Arcuri’s question, Chief Financial Officer Robert Figuero said 3,300 water meters have been ordered for the long-anticipated water meter project. He said those meters should be delivered by July 24 with data collection units scheduled to follow in early August.

After training sessions on data collection are completed, which should not take more than two weeks, the meters will be installed.

Figuero said he has asked Greenup Industries, the contractor for the project, for an updated installation schedule.

– This article was submitted by Richard Meek, contributor to L’OBSERVATEUR.