Parish Council member throws wrench in efforts to approve RoyOMartin tax exemption

Perhaps the most interesting portion of Monday night’s Parish Council meeting, Sept. 21, dealt with tax exemption applications for Roy O Martin that were denied at the Aug. 17 meeting.

Roy O Martin III, CEO of Martco LLC, came before the Council to ask them to reconsider their previous vote. The applications presented at August’s meeting were the 60th or 70th tax exemption applications that have come before the Council and formerly before the Police Jury.

Roy said they monitor government entity websites so they know whenever an agenda item comes up that concerns them within the 32 parishes they do business in throughout the state. The Parish Government failed to publish the agenda for August’s meeting to its website.

Roy came to the September meeting to let the Council know that he’s submitted an appeal to the Louisiana Board of Commerce and Industry and to ask the Council to reconsider its vote from August and write a letter of support for the tax exemption applications instead. Northwestern State University President Dr. Chris Maggio and State Senator for District 31 Louie Bernard came to show their support.

When a motion was made to amend the agenda to approve said letter (which requires an unanimous vote) Council member Patsy Ward Hoover voted no.

The Council has until Oct. 14 to submit a letter of support and Council member Chris Paige said they can hold a special called meeting if they need to in order to get the ball rolling on this.

In other news, the Parish’s Office of Community Services relocated and has been operating out of its new location at 700 Trudeau Street for a week now.

Parish Treasurer Julie Lockhart reported that the recent audit came back with no findings and that this is the second time in 10 years that the Parish has had a clean audit. It will be presented at the Council’s October meeting.

Other business included a presentation by Kristin Delahoussaye with the Capital Area Finance Authority, which is a housing finance authority based out of Baton Rouge that offers grants to first time home buyers through its lending partners. Operating in 49 parishes now, Delahoussaye asked the Council to consider entering into a cooperative endeavor agreement. First time home buyers would benefit from grants giving them up to 7% toward their downpayment and closing costs, while the Parish would benefit from some income from fees associated with the process (dependent upon parish and lender participation).

During his Parish President report, John Richmond updated the Council that TESI has indicated their intent to require “compensation” before they’re willing to donate the sewer system for the Payne Subdivision Sewer Improvement project. Richmond said he notified Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell of TESI’s change of heart and asked for his involvement. He also said that the CEA for the Fish Hatchery Road project has been received and signed. Surveying has begun and bid documents are being prepared. While the project was delayed due to Hurricane Laura he expects work to begin before the end of the year.

In other business, the Council tabled an agenda item to amend the Parish of Natchitoches Personnel Manual to provide that effective Jan. 1, 2021, the job position of Council Clerk is a part-time position, and to set the salary for that part-time position.

Other agenda items included:

Reappointment of Mark Swafford, William D. Musselwhite and Mary Ann Motter to the Fire District #3 Board.

Emergency Ordinance 16-2020 to authorize the Parish Planning and Zoning Department to waive all fees on permits issued for work to repair damage caused by Hurricane Laura (retroactive to Aug. 27), which shouldn’t exceed an estimated $5,000. This will only be available to parish residents through the end of October.

Approve the assessed value levied by Natchitoches Parish Tax Assessor Dollie Mahoney for Alliance Compressors c/o Emerson Climate (Assessors Value is $25, 847, 867 and Alliance requested $11, 375,000), Dollar Tree (Assessors Value is $642,400 and Dollar Tree requested $445,668), and Family Dollar (Assessors Value is $525,400 and Family Dollar requested #333,198).

Adopt Ordinance 015-2020 for budget amendment for Highway Fund, CoCo Bed Capital Outlay Fund, Fish Hatchery Capital Outlay Fund, Old River Road Capital Outlay Fund and 201 Capital Outlay Fund.

Approve Resolution 042-2020 to allow Natchitoches Parish Government to provide Health Insurance and other benefits to employees and retirees which meet eligibility requirements for the following departments: Highway, General Administration, Finance, Solid Waste, Planning and Zoning, Health Unit, Government Buildings, Library, Tenth Judicial District Court, District Attorney, Criminal Court, Public Safety/Civil Defense, Registrar of Voters, and OCS employees.

Award bid for highway department pneumatic roller to Scott Equipment.

Award RFP 2020-01 to DRC Emergency Services for debris removal due to Hurricane Laura and RFP 2020-02 to Witt O’Brien’s for debris monitoring services, which are estimated to cost a combines total of $1.5 million (75% of which will be reimbursed by FEMA with the potential for 90% reimbursement should Louisiana breach a threshold for total damage. Richmond feels this is very likely considering the amount of destruction throughout the state.).

Enter into a lease and/or CEA with Hagewood Water System to allow the system to use a portion of the Parish’s property at 6354 Hwy. 485 in Robeline to connect the system to the Sabine Water System for emergency backup water supply.

Authorize purchase of a new loader under State Contract #4400015170 in the amount of $155,715 from Scott Equipment, which failed with a 3-2 vote (Hoover, Kilcoyne and Salter voted this agenda item down).

Approve selection of projects and submission of applications for Capital Outlay funding by the state of Louisiana for the following roads: Payne Subdivison Phase II, Pardee, Hart, Harmony, Goldonna, Bayou Derbonne and Blanchard.


VOTER REGISTRATION WEEK 2020 BEGINS SEPT. 21

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin is joining registrars of voters across the state the week of Sept. 21-25, 2020 to host Voter Registration Week activities aimed at registering eligible citizens to vote.

“Registering to vote is the critical first step in making your voice heard at the ballot box,” Ardoin said. “This fall, voters will select leaders at all levels of government and I encourage all unregistered voters to register to vote. 

Louisiana was one of the first states in the nation to implement an easy, convenient online voter registration portal. Citizens with a valid Louisiana driver’s license or Louisiana Special ID card can register online 24 hours a day, seven days a week from the convenience of their home or office by visiting https://voterportal.sos.la.gov.

Residents of Louisiana can also register in person at their parish Registrar of Voters Office, when they apply for or renew their driver’s license at any Office of Motor Vehicles or when obtaining services at public assistance agencies and Armed Forces recruitment offices. Citizens wishing to register by mail can download and print the application from our website at GeauxVote.com, or complete an application found at public libraries or through registration drives.

To register and vote in Louisiana individuals must:

· be a U.S. citizen;

· be at least 17 years old (16 years old if registering in person at the Registrar of Voters Office or at the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles) to register and 18 years old prior to the next election to vote;

· not be under an order of imprisonment for conviction of a felony or, if under such an order not have been incarcerated pursuant to the order within the last five years and not be under an order of imprisonment related to a felony conviction for election fraud or any other election offense pursuant to La. R.S. 18:1461.2;

· not be under a judgment of full interdiction for mental incompetence or partial interdiction with suspension of voting rights;

· be a resident in the state and parish in which you seek to register and vote;

· apply at least 20 days prior to an election if registering online or 30 days prior to an election if registering in person or by mail.

The deadline to register to vote in person or by mail is Monday, Oct. 5. The deadline to register to vote online is Tuesday, Oct. 13.

For a complete listing of voter registration activities in individual parishes, visit the Secretary of State’s website and social media platforms. For more information about elections and voting, contact the Secretary of State’s Elections Division at 800.883.2805 or elections@sos.la.gov.


LSMSA searches for future Eagles!

Applications now open for 2021-22 school year.

Do you want to attend a high school that is ranked in the top one percent of ALL high schools in the nation? The time to apply to attend LSMSA for the 2021-22 school year is now.

The application process is now officially open at LSMSA for current freshmen, sophomores and juniors. Our Enrollment Services Team is available to answer your questions and speak with you about changes to the application process brought on by COVID-19.

Priority deadline for applications is April 1. This does not mean the school stops accepting applications. Students who complete their applications after this date may be placed on a waiting list.

The first step is to complete and submit the online application found at www.LSMSA.edu/apply. The application contains sections which must be completed by the applicant and the parent/guardian.

The next step is to register to take the ACT, SAT, or CLT. If taking the ACT, the Office of Enrollment Services recommends the Dec. 12 or Feb. 6 test dates. If taking the SAT, the Dec. 5 or March 13 test dates are recommended. If taking the CLT, the Dec. 5 and Feb. 27 dates are recommended. When registering for tests, please be sure to use code 6351 in the four digit space for reports to colleges and scholarship programs. This code will ensure that test scores will be sent to LSMSA in a timely manner.

Complete the online request for letters of recommendation from a principal or guidance counselor, a math teacher and an English teacher.

After winter break, submit a copy of your mid-year report card to our Enrollment Services team. Students applying to enroll at LSMSA as juniors should submit a transcript with prior credits earned as well.

Make plans to visit LSMSA’s campus! Private tours can be scheduled at any time by contacting the Office of Enrollment Services. If conditions allow, we will host Campus Exploration Days in the Spring. We will also be hosting a variety of online meetings and seminars throughout the fall and winter. For more information, visit http://www.lsmsa.edu/admissions/learn-more.

Most interviews are completed over the phone, so it will not require a separate campus visit for the student.

For more information, contact the Office of Enrollment Services by calling 318-357-2503 or emailing admissions@lsmsa.edu.


OPPORTUNITY: GROUNDMAN LABORER

POSITION: Electrical Department – Groundman Laborer

QUALIFICATIONS: A working knowledge of principles and practices in overhead and underground electrical power line installation, maintenance procedures and operating/maintenance of substations including

low voltage service work is desirable, trim trees and branches and assist the Right of Way Crew.

Must work towards obtaining a CDL license. Overtime, standby and dependability is required.

EDUCATION: High School diploma or equivalent.

CONTACT: City of Natchitoches, Human Resources Department located at 1400 Sabine St., or P.O. Box 37 Natchitoches, LA 71458-0037.

Applications may also be picked up upstairs at City Hall, located at 700 Second St., or you may download an application on line at www.natchitochesla.gov

DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS: Applications will be accepted through October 2, 2020

THE CITY OF NATCHITOCHES IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER.


14TH ANNUAL “CELEBRATION OF LIFE” GALA GOES VIRTUAL

The Women’s Resource Center of Natchitoches is pleased to announce that their 14th Annual Celebration of Life Gala will be held this upcoming Thursday, Sept. 26. The program will be live-streamed at no charge on their Facebook page and will officially begin at 6:30 p.m.

The WRC hosts this event every September to allow them to continue to serve the more than 400 women they see every year. These women come from over seven different parishes, most of them young, in need, and experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. Services include information, emotional and spiritual support and encouragement, and material assistance up to a year after her child is born. These services are designed to give a woman the confidence she needs to make a life affirming choice for her unborn child, aid her in having a healthy pregnancy, and to equip her to be a successful woman and mother.

This is the major fundraising event held by the WRC each year and plays a large role in allowing WRC to continue to provide all services free of charge to clients. The only difference is the location, that it will be fully virtual. Due to COVID-19, the WRC aims to allow anyone near and far in Central Louisiana and beyond to safely join in from their homes, churches, workplaces, and more to watch this live-streamed program. There will also be a call center set up the night of the Gala, where volunteers can take donations during the program or provide information on the center’s services to any woman in need that may be watching.

The keynote speaker this year is Benjamin Clapper, Executive Director of Louisiana Right to Life. Louisiana Right to Life, established in 1970, works through education, activism, legislation and service to restore the right to life in Louisiana. During his years with Louisiana Right to Life, Clapper has built a volunteer-run organization into a professional operation making an impact in Louisiana from the State Capitol to the high school classroom. During his time working to advance pro-life legislation, Louisiana has been at or near the top of the list of most pro-life states in the nation. Clapper has worked on the political side to elect pro-life leaders to office.

Within walking distance of NSU, the WRC was founded in 1989 to offer assistance and guidance to young women facing difficult life situations most often due to unplanned pregnancies. Since that early beginning, thousands of young women have been served by providing them with pregnancy tests, counseling, prenatal education, ultrasounds, childbirth instruction, breastfeeding education, car seat safety classes, parenting classes, material assistance, and liaisons to community assistance. Thousands of hours each year in service are provided thanks to the numerous trained volunteers and nurses on staff.

Thanks to the generous contributions of individual supporters, organizations, churches, and businesses, the WRC reaches hundreds of young women each year from all walks of life to ensure that when they walk into the Center, they will never receive any type of bill after they leave.

The event page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/events/297934961434063/. In lieu of tickets this year, donations can be made to the Women’s Resource Center located at 107 North Street in Natchitoches or by calling (318) 357-8888.


LANE CLOSURE: US 71 over Saline Bayou

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD), advises the public that on Thursday, Sept. 24 Bridge# 009-05-000-1 on US 71 over Saline Bayou will be reduced to one lane for routine inspection from 9 AM – 3 PM. The bridge is on US 71 over Saline Bayou and is located 0.82 miles north of the US 71/LA 477 intersection at the Natchitoches/Winn Parish line.

Permit/Detour section
No detour is required. One 12-foot lane with flagmen will be maintained.

Safety Reminder
DOTD appreciates your patience and reminds you to please drive with caution around the construction sites and be on the lookout for work crews and their equipment.

Additional Information
Motorists can access the latest updates on real-time traffic and road conditions using the 511 Traveler Information System by dialing 511 from their telephone and saying the route or region on which they are seeking information. Out-of-state travelers can call 1-888-ROAD-511 (1-888-762-3511). Travelers can also access this information by visiting the 511 Traveler Information Web site at www.511la.org


Help Us Reduce Their R.I.S.K.

Members of the Northwest Louisiana Human Trafficking Task Force (Task Force), which is comprised of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and non-governmental organizations, have noticed a disturbing trend in the rise of sexual predator cases. For instance, the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office has reported a 200 percent increase in online sexual predator cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Because of this trend, the Task Force has launched “Project R.I.S.K.” (Reliable Internet Safety for Kids).

Since March of 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has pushed our youth more to the internet than ever before. Today, the internet not only entertains and connects our youth with their peers, but a vast majority of them are using the internet for virtual schooling. This increase in internet activity allows more opportunity for predators to interact with our youth. As we see in all cases, predators will also adapt to their changing environments.

In this Public Service Announcement (PSA), which launches Project R.I.S.K., leaders of area law enforcement agencies provide advice to help prevent predators from victimizing children. Leaders advise all guardians (parents, teachers, custodians, etc.) to place ALL devices (computers, laptops, tablets, and phones) in common areas. Phones, even those with no service, allow the same access to predators as a computer or other device. Guardians need to know what apps are on these devices and also know their children’s passwords. Project R.I.S.K. encourages all guardians to engage in their children’s activities.

All agencies in our Task Force share a united front to eliminate all human trafficking type cases; however, to be more successful, we need assistance from the public. We understand many guardians want to protect their kids but may not know where to look for “reliable internet safety information.” Project R.I.S.K. has asked all agencies in our Task Force to post this reliable information on their websites, so guardians will always have this information at their fingertips. Finally, members of the Task Force will be available to meet with citizens, local government officials, community organizations, school boards, churches, and other groups to discuss Project R.I.S.K. and internet safety.


Natchitoches Art Guild extends children’s art competition

Due to the current health crisis, the 2020 Kids’ Creative Canvases Competition, sponsored by the Natchitoches Art Guild and Gallery, originally scheduled for June has been moved to September. We announce this call to art, open to students from 1st grade to 12th in the Natchitoches Art Gallery at 584 Front Street, Suite 102 in Natchitoches.

NAGG is currently accepting applications for the event which runs from Sept. 13-27. Application forms and canvases can be obtained from the gallery during regular gallery hours Sunday through Saturday, 10 am – 5 pm.

The entry fee of $10 provides each participant the opportunity to display original work in the gallery and the required canvas. Each student will be allowed (1) one entry, with a maximum of 60 total entries. Due to legal restrictions, works cannot be sold through the gallery.

Prizes will be awarded in each category – Elementary, Junior High and High School, with awards being presented on Sept. 27. In compliance with current guidelines, and in order to do our part in keeping safe, each category award will be presented at staggered intervals to minimize contact. Sadly, we must limit attendance to the artist and parents/guardian.

If more information is needed, call the gallery at 318 352 1626


OPPORTUNITY: ELECTRICIAN

POSITION: Utility Department – Electrician

DESCRIPTION: Performs skilled work in the operation, maintenance and repair of electrical systems and equipment. Operates a variety of specialized related equipment.

QUALIFICATIONS: Performs skilled work in the reconstruction, maintaining and repairing electrical systems and equipment and lift stations. Inspects, test, calibrates and adjusts various controls or meters used in electrical, water and sewer systems. Working knowledge of design, layout, assembly, installation, testing and maintenance of electrical systems. Working Knowledge of low voltage systems, control wiring and the ability to understand high voltage systems.

EDUCATION: High School diploma or equivalent. Two (2) years related experience.

CONTACT: City of Natchitoches, Human Resources Department located at

1400 Sabine St., or P.O. Box 37
Natchitoches, LA 71458-0037.

Applications may also be picked up upstairs at City Hall, located at 700 Second St., or you may download an application on line at www.natchitochesla.gov

DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS: Applications will be accepted through October 2, 2020

THE CITY OF NATCHITOCHES IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER.


Notice of Death – September 21, 2020

NATCHITOCHES:
Walter Poche’, Jr.
December 25, 1946 – September 19, 2020
Service: Tuesday, September 22 at 11 am at Fern Park Cemetery in Natchitoches

Joseph Lawrence Roque, Sr.
March 06, 1930 – September 13, 2020
Service: Tuesday, September 22 at 11 am at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church

SABINE:
Patricia Ardison
September 13, 2020
Arrangements TBA

WINN:
Franklin DeLeon Howell
December 27, 1974 – September 16, 2020
Service: Wednesday, September 23 at 10 am at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Winnfield


Storm Effects Begin Today

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Natchitoches Parish and surrounding parishes should begin to feel the outer bands of rain from Tropical Storm Beta as early as today. The weather service is forecasting an 80% chance of rain.

From the National Weather Service Shreveport office:

Here’s the 4am CDT advisory on from the National Hurricane Center on Tropical Storm Beta. Rain from Beta will quickly spread northward and become widespread today. Showers and thunderstorms will likely persist for much of this week. Through Saturday morning, rainfall totals of 2 to 4 inches are still possible for much of the area.


Beta Continues Moving Toward Texas Coast

Beta is forecast to approach and make landfall on the central Texas Coast later on Monday with flooding rains extending northeastward from the center.

As Tropical Storm Beta continues to move slowly toward the Texas Coast, Tropical Storm and Storm Surge warnings remain in effect along the Gulf Coast from the middle Texas coast to Southwest Louisiana. Within the storm surge warning areas, there is the danger of life-threatening storm surge near periods of high tide through Tuesday. Because of the storm’s slow motion, Beta is expected to produce a long duration heavy rainfall event, with flooding likely from the middle Texas coast to southern Louisiana. Heavy rains are forecast to spread northward across eastern Texas, Oklahoma and the lower Mississippi valley over the next few days.

For the Natchitoches area, showers and isolated embedded thunderstorms associated with Beta will become numerous to widespread by Monday afternoon and should continue in this fashion through Wednesday. Some of the stronger storms within the rain bands may produce gusty winds and locally heavy rainfall, especially south of Interstate 30. As soils become saturated and soft from the rain, the risk of isolated trees being uprooted will increase. Showers and thunderstorms will become more scattered Thursday and Friday and total rainfall amounts by Saturday morning of two to four inches are expected. Isolated rainfall totals of up to six inches will be possible across portions of Central and Northeast Louisiana, which may lead to a threat for flooding later this week.


Opportunity: City Attorney Opening

POSITION: City Attorney – City of Natchitoches

DESCRIPTION: The City Attorney shall serve as Chief Legal advisor to the Mayor, council and all departments, offices and agencies, shall represent the City in all legal proceedings and shall perform any other duties prescribed by the City charter or by ordinances.

QUALIFICATIONS: The City attorney shall be an attorney licensed to practice in the courts of Louisiana with at least five (5) year’s experience in the practice of law.

CONTACT: Resume’s may be mailed or dropped off at the City of Natchitoches, Human Resources Department, located
at 1400 Sabine Street, or P.O. Box 37, Natchitoches, LA 71458-0037.

Resume’s may also be dropped off upstairs at City hall, located at 700 Second St.

DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS: Applications will be accepted through
September 30, 2020

THE CITY OF NATCHITOCHES IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER.