Parish Council recap: Waste Pro begins garbage collection, duplex to be constructed in Reserve

Published 2:21 pm Wednesday, August 16, 2023

LAPLACE — Distinctive garbage trucks draped in green and blue have recently been spotted throughout St. John the Baptist Parish, picking up solid waste from residences and commercial businesses.

The St. John Parish Council on Aug. 8 approved the consent of assignment of Metro Service Group to Waste Pro for continuation of the parish’s removal services of solid waste.

Metro Service had been serving as the parish’s solid waste collector but it is navigating its own bankruptcy issues.

Parish President Jaclyn Hotard said the consent is merely an extension of the length of the current contract with Metro, although those terms were not discussed during the meeting.

Hotard said her administration had been working on the transition for what she said was quite some time and once it was finalized, she said she reached out to council members via cell phone to inform them of the development. Admittedly, she was not able to connect with each council member, one of those being Tonia Schnyder.

Schnyder said she did not receive a phone call or a missed call from Hotard. She said she was unaware of the agreement until her constituents called her.

Schnyder also pointed out that the contract with Metro required a 60-day notice be submitted to the parish by certified mail for cancellation.

“Did we have written consent by Metro to do this?” she asked. “And 60 days notice?”

Hotard explained the parish did not receive a notice via certified mail because there was direct contact “with the contractor.”

“When you have direct contact with the person the need for certified mail is moot at that point,” Hotard said, adding the parish had prior notice of consent.

After continued discussion, Schnyder repeated that she was upset that Hotard had not previously contacted her and that she had to learn of the development through her constituents, who themselves learned of it through social media.

Council members, over the objection of Councilman Warren Torres, also approved construction of a duplex on E. 12th Avenue in Reserve. Torres said he received several calls on the issue, with some residents complaining the sign advertising the hearing for the required rezoning, had been taken down .

He said supporters of the duplex had been claiming the area already had what he said were “all kinds of duplexes” in the area but he countered those were previously a housing project, residents were no longer living there and they were scheduled for demolition.

“I would like to make a motion to table this until we have some more information and residents get more information,” he said.

That motion died for a lack of a second and the motion to approve the duplex passed 8-1, with Torres dissenting.

Council members also heard from Interim School Superintendent Kendria Spears. Spears was appointed interim superintendent after former Superintendent Rebecca Johnson.

Spears is the latest leader of a school system that has experienced recent turnover at the highest level. Since Kevin George left in 2019, Dr. Lynett Hookfin resigned two years after being her hiring. Johnson was hired in December and resigned July 21.

Spears said as a long-time educator, she understands the role education plays in the strengthening of the community. She said a vibrant school system is critical to the health of the parish, affecting the work force, real estate market, economic climate, tax base and quality of life for all residents.

“Our children deserve the best,” she said. “That is why we will do everything in our power to make sure the school system continues to improve.”

“Every student deserves a world-class education,” she added.

“We’ve been through superintendent after superintendent after superintendent,” Torres lamented. “I watched (Hookfin). She was a one-man band; she never had anybody follow her.”

He advised Spears to surround her with people who want to move the system forward instead of keeping the status quo.