For whatever reason, some seem to remember, with nostalgia, the previous form of government in Natchitoches Parish; I do not. Growing up in Marthaville in the 50’s and 60’s, I remember well the hardworking men of the road crews as well as the diligence of our police juror in Ward 5. The first one I remember was Mr. Travis Durr and then Mr. Rufus Knott, both fine men. The equipment they had to work with, however was always “worn out.” The “Ward System” was most effective at splitting the revenue ‘pie’ into small edible bites which could be easily swallowed by this antiquated system. The available parish budget was split up between the 10 Wards until the late 60’s when the road department was centralized. This was an improvement, but resulted in “turf wars” among the jurymen. There was a certain amount of ‘what’s in it for me?’ and, frankly, some of the jurymen were simply more politically savvy than their colleagues. Some wards seemed to do much better than others at first, but generally the parish suffered. As a direct result the citizenry lost confidence in the system and began a succession of defeats for any tax proposal that might be proposed. Finally, it was recognized that a change had to be made and the citizens voted to adopt the Home Rule Charter form of government which began in 2012. The vote to do this was delayed by the police jury for one year, but was ultimately passed and a new era in Natchitoches Parish began. Though the HRC began with the deficit left them, they did end the year in the black, for the first time in a long time. Now, in 2015, it was decided to form an Advisory Commission to assess the situation with the parish roads and develop a strategy to repair, rebuild and maintain the roads of the parish. The commission came up with three different scenarios; two of these call for an increase in tax millages. For me, the third option is the most palatable. It would fund an $80 million bond issue and would permit the more severely damaged roads to be fixed sooner. Strangely, as I see it, the most costly option is to do nothing. It would still require spending $2.9 million (the same as 1985) and parish would still have inadequate funding for the proper maintenance of the roads. So, the voters can sit back and fondly remember their former police juryman and decry the merits of the current system while prematurely tearing up their automobile, or can take up the challenge of actually having a plan for the immediate and long term future. The choice is yours.
Dennis Coleman is a graduate Marthaville High, Attended NSU, grad. La Tech, Worked in heavy construction/Oil industry until 1987, has been licensed insurance agent since. Married 44 years next month, to his wife Delinda also from Mville, 3 adult children, 7 grandchildren. Dennis and Delinda are members of the Baptist Church.