The Natchitoches Parish Journal received this submission from Dennis Coleman. The views and opinions expressed are those of Mr. Coleman and not necessarily those of the Natchitoches Parish Journal. If you have an article for publishing consideration by the NPJ, please send it to NPJNatLa@gmail.com.
Think it was about a decade ago that I attended a funeral at Rocky Mount …out west of Robeline. The hearse turned off La 120 onto Post Mill Road, eventually winding up at Rocky Mount. The parish road (Post Mill) was pothole after pothole. Though driving slowly and being careful the hearse driver, unfamiliar with the road, hit several potholes and one bad one in particular. It looked like the whole car ‘pancaked.’ We made it to the church and the pallbearers unloaded the hearse and carried the coffin inside the church. I remember hearing the funeral director say, ” … closed casket.” There was concern about what the pothole may have undone and as it turned out it was a ‘closed casket’ funeral….Have those potholes been ‘patched’ since then? Of course they have, but a PATCH is a temporary measure and only puts off what must ultimately be done. Like a worn out pair of jeans, there’s only a certain number of times they can be ‘patched’ before the patches need patches, etc. etc.. Ultimately a new pair of jeans must be bought. Some would say there are a lot of roads in Natchitoches Parish that have reached that point. It’s time to rip it up and put down new. Now we have a road full of potholes, even a parish full of potholes, and no funds to fix them with. Hopefully, a plan which offers a way out of this place with the Third World Country roads and into the 21st Century of Natchitoches Parish will be forthcoming.
The Advisory Commission ably points out that Road District 40 millages have not changed since 1985. In other words, we have been asking our Parish road administrators and crews to build, maintain and repair these roads with the same funding that was present in 1985. Who could do that? By comparison, the minimum wage in 1985 was $3.35 per hour. The tax rates have remained the same while all expenditures have increased significantly.
The Advisory Commission has delivered its report. The detractors of the report can and will begin their attacks on the report; ”it didn’t allow for this” and “it didn’t provide for that.” This is nothing new; there are those who purport to be Christian and at the same time find fault with God’s creativity. Sadly, there are some who “serve” in positions of leadership who seem to do whatever is necessary to impede progress, instead of embracing an opportunity for progress. For what reason would anyone oppose moving the parish forward?
In the political arena, reports, bulletins and briefings are commonplace, and they often give off more heat than light. The Advisory Commission’s report is the rare exception. It is thorough, it is insightful and it could not be more timely.The report submitted by the Advisory Commission offers a road map out of the current quagmire, but as realistic as it is, there are no guarantees it will be acted upon. The Parish Council, of course, has the responsibility to endorse or reject any or all of the commission’s report. It is the Council and the Council alone which must either act to move Natchitoches Parish forward or do nothing and keep the parish roads in this failing state they are now in.
Will the roads of the Parish “Rise up like a Phoenix from the flames,” or will they receive a pauper’s burial in a ‘Potter’s Field’ with the service being “Closed Casket?”