It always comes back to the roads. Yet again, discussions at the Parish Council meeting May 15 turned to the poor road conditions in the Parish. And, as it’s been happening at the past few meetings, tension arose when the Council members began to question Highway Director Nick Verret over work being done in the Parish.
Verret took exception when it was stated that the Parish hasn’t completed any projects this year, citing various projects that were finished recently. However, besides the time it’s taking to complete projects like Payne Subdivision and CoCo Bed Road, some Council members are frustrated at, as they see it, the lack of regular maintenance being done.
Russell Rachel passed several photos around showing routine maintenance work that he feels should have been seen to by now. “Does it take an engineer to get this work done,” he asked. Rachal doesn’t feel like the Council members are representing their constituents as they were elected to do because situations like these are often “out of their hands.”
Verret said it was in their hands to see that more work gets done at a Council meeting in February. He was referring to two ordinances the Council voted down which would have separated job duties to allow him more time to perform engineering duties.
There are around 43 special projects that Verret is involved in. “I’m doing the best I can,” he said.
Several visitors questioned when work would be done on their roads, which included Alondia Jefferson, a resident of CoCo Bed Road. When she asked for a date when work would be started on the road, Verret said he couldn’t give her one. The project is being held up because the plans haven’t been submitted to the state. Verret said the plans are one item on his special projects list that just hasn’t happened yet.
Chris Paige said it’s been 6 years of the same answers and the potholes in the Parish have now become craters.
Parish President Rick Nowlin said the engineering work Verret is doing for these projects is part of the match the Parish must put up for the state funding requirements. Otherwise, the Parish could hire a consultant engineer at three times the cost, but the money would then have to be taken out of the budget, meaning less maintenance work would be done on the existing roads.
“I’ve heard a lot of complaints, but no solutions,” said Nowlin.
In other business, an ordinance was adopted to amend and preordain Section 2-8 of the Parish Code of Ordinance. It changed the following parts:
Move the public comment section from the beginning to the end of the meeting agenda
Limit each council member to a maximum of 5 minutes to express views on any one subject, with 5 minutes for rebuttals from other members
Questions must be directed through the Chair
Public comments will be limited to a maximum of 3 minutes
All meetings will last for a period not to exceed 4 hours
Other agenda items included:
Approve resolution for canvassing the returns and declaring the results of the special election held in the Parish and Road District No. 40 March 25 to authorize the levy of special taxes therein
Approve Natchitoches Times as the official parish journal
Approve mosquito surveillance and control program proposal submitted by Vector Disease Control International for the total program cost of $91,079
Resolutions to scarify King Hill and Sisson Roads
Authorize a quitclaim deed on Lot 1 and South half of Lot 2 of Block DA of Breda Addition from the Parish to Robert Jackson Sr.
Add Solid Waste Scale House Attendant and salary range to the job description in the Personnel Manual
Remove job requirements of Engineer and Engineer duties from the Director of Public Works job description
Amend 2017 operating budget, relative to the Hampton Road Improvement Fund
Adjust Revenue of Insurance Claims to add line items for expenses for building and grounds, Winn rock screenings and to adjust line items of gravel, Winn rock and bottom ash (Intro)
Ordinance for Part-time Parish Engineer (Intro)
Recognize Chris Maggio as the 19th President of NSU
Advertise for bids for Winn rock screenings
Confirm reappointment of Ted Duggan to the Natchitoches Parish Water Works District 2 Board