Before the start of the March 22 Parish Council meeting, a Public Hearing was held for an ordinance supplementing the "No Thru Truck Routes" ordinance to add Sam Smith Road and Turkey Road. Later, during the actual meeting, the ordinance was adopted. The two roads are now officially “No Thru Truck Routes”.
Addressing public concern, a resolution was passed placing a moratorium on the approval or permitting of solar panel farms, commercial solar power plants, or similar operations. In a statement, the Parish Government said, “The sudden demand for solar energy farms has caused the Parish Government to want to gather more information concerning regulations by state and federal entities, and to provide the Council members with information on solar panels to make informed decisions for our Parish including the impact, if any, on Washington Parish Government infrastructure.”
Another resolution was adopted that authorized the Parish President to enter into an agreement with Barriere Construction Company LLC. to asphalt several parish roads.
Patrick Hamby gave an update on the progress of the Entergy power plant, answered former Councilman Phillipp Bedwell's question about permitted running hours, said that work is scheduled to start at the end of August or September and should take 39-45 days to complete if both units can run at the same time or 90 days if one unit is running. He went on to say that consideration must be given to unforeseen problems like equipment, manpower, and hurricane season that could delay things. Perry Mickenheim, a resident in close proximity to the plant, had a few questions regarding decibel reading discrepancies. Hamby agreed to meet with Mickenheim for further discussion.
Ms. Robertson, from Franklinton, gave a presentation on the services at the Ocean Behavioral Hospital located in Hammond, saying that mental health healing is their focus.
In President Thomas's report, updates were given on storm damage due to fast-moving strong thunderstorms that affected quite a few residents and the Sylvest/Magee Cabin in the Mile Branch Settlement at the Washington Parish Fairgrounds. He announced that although Louisiana has surpassed 10,000 Covid related deaths, Washington Parish has had another couple of weeks of improvement of Covid-19 cases. He further stated that Washington Parish has had a "significant drop" in positivity cases from March 4th-10th from 4.76 to 3.8 percent. Thomas urged people to continue to social distance and wear masks, and noted the parish has 12.55 percent of its population vaccinated.
He said that more needs to be done dealing with the trash issue on the parish roads and state highways, asking how is the Washington Parish Cleanup Committee progressing, and is there anything his administration can do to help?
Thomas announced that the Louisiana Office of Community Development has implemented an Emergency Rental Assistance Program for people struggling to pay their rent because of Covid-19. He signed a proclamation recognizing the principles of fair housing in accordance with the month of April being Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity month. The Parish President asked the public to remain weather aware. He announced the Focus Franklinton Community Bicycle Ride that will be held on Tuesday, April 6th.
Donna Graham, Finance Director, reminded everyone of the grand opening of the mountain bike trails in Bogue Chitto State Park on Saturday, April 10th.
Ken Wheat, Public Works Director, gave an update on the bid process for the HAVAC system at the jail and stated the Davenport Bridge Project is almost complete.
Donnell Merritt, Transportation Manager, reported 366 bags of trash picked up on 20 roads, 5 road name signs installed, 25 other signs installed, maintenance done at two parish locations, crews worked three days removing trees and limbs off roads from the storms and the total bags of trash picked up since the beginning of March was 859 bags on 49 roads.
Donations may be given for the restoration of the Sylvest/Magee Cabin by making payable to the Washington Parish Fair Association - Mile Branch and mailed to P.O. box 308, Franklinton, LA 70438.