By Dennis Coleman/Opinion
I think it was about two decades 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.. 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.
A few years ago an Advisory Commission ably pointed 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 delivered its report. The detractors of the report were ready and eager to 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 was the rare exception. It was thorough, it was insightful and it could not have been more timely. The report submitted by the Advisory Commission offered a road map out of the current quagmire, but as realistic as it was, it has yet to acted upon. The Parish Council, of course, has the responsibility to endorse or reject any or all of any report submitted for review and consideration. 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?”