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Parish Council votes to extend Metro Service Group’s contract

LAPLACE — The St. John the Baptist Council voted to extend Metro Service Group Inc.’s contract with the parish to provide solid waste collection and removal services for another five years.

Council members voted 8-1 to extend Metro’s contract during a council meeting this past Tuesday night in LaPlace.

“You are doing a great job,” Councilman Warren Torres told Metro owner Jimmie Woods. “You are going above and beyond.”

Councilman Tom Malik was the lone dissenter. Although he also commended Metro for an exceptional job in some aspects, Malik was displeased with the customer service at the local level.

The council’s vote came shortly after Reserve resident Darnell LeGrand, during the public comment section of the Finance Committee meeting, voiced his displeasure with how Metro’s trucks were leaking and garbage pickup was occasionally inconsistent, including recently when garbage was not picked up for several days.

Debris is also being left on the side of the road, LeGrand said.

Additionally, LeGrand said waste leaking from trucks has created an offensive odor in the Reserve neighborhood, and that it could have been worse were it not for an unusually wet spring and early summer.

“I would like our community to be treated as everyone else,” he said. “Our homes are of value to us.”

Councilman Lennix Madere said the quality of service depends on the driver and those in the truck. Sympathizing with Woods, Madere said it’s “very hard to find good workers to do that type of job.”

Councilwoman Tammy Houston agreed, saying picking up garbage is not a glamorous job.

Councilman Robert Arcuri told Woods the company’s trucks are in bad shape, noting that they are leaking, and residents have a difficult time in getting cans replaced. Additionally, waste such as furniture and tables sometimes take up to a month to pick up.

“You have a lot of room for improvement,” Arcuri said before casting his vote to extend Metro’s contract.

Woods, who said his family has been in the waste business for nearly 40 years, admitted some trucks are aging and said the new contract will enable Metro to purchase a new fleet to serve the parish. He acknowledged debris being left on the side of the road is an issue that the company will address.

He said Metro has encountered unique obstacles stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, with a major challenge being the hiring of adequate personnel.

He said a local office will be relocated, which will allow for more office personnel.

“With this new opportunity, you will see a difference in the quality of equipment and service,” Woods said.

Also during the meeting, plans were unveiled by representatives of American Legion Post 383 of LaPlace to build a “Veterans Liberty Memorial Park” at the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Home in Reserve. World War II veteran Benny Robichaux asked council members for their support of the project and for them go to their constituents endorsing the project.

The park, which will face Airline Highway, will be built once the funds are secured, Robichaux said.

Phase I will include construction of a memorial, which at a planned 100 feet wide will be one of the largest in the state, honoring veterans of all foreign wars. The project is estimated to check in at $200,000, and selling of bricks honoring veterans will help raise money for expenses.

“I’ll be 94 in December, so I’m kind of in a rush,” he said with a smile. “I need (the council’s) help…This can be a model for other (veterans) homes.”