Varied agenda for Police Jury
CROWLEY – From mosquitoes to economic development to a new air-ambulance service operating in Acadia Parish, members of the police jury’s various committees handled a wide range of topics during their regular October sessions here Tuesday.
The meetings began at 5:30 p.m., an hour earlier than their traditional start time – another area of concern for at least one parish citizen.
On mosquito control, former two-term police juror Homer Scheufens, accompanied by his son and neighbor David, said he was unaware that spraying for mosquitoes along his road had been stopped because he lives adjacent to crawfish ponds.
Homer Scheufens pointed out that a number of surrounding parishes – he named Vermilion, Jefferson Davis and Iberia, specifically – have been conducting aerial spraying for the pests and that each parish has at least a comparable, if not more in some cases, amount of acreage devoted to crawfishing and rice.
“We can spray certain chemicals and it’s safe,” he urged.
But David Savoy, police jury president and, himself, a crawfish producer who has requested a “no spray” zone around his ponds, claimed that each and every chemical used for spraying – aerially and via ground spray – warns not to use around or over aquaculture.
“We just don’t know what it’s going to do,” he said. “Ten years down the road they might find out that these chemicals cause cancer in you.”
David Scheufens pointed out that Acadia Parish has a 0.25-cent sales tax dedicated to mosquito control, yet certain areas are being denied that service.
“We put into the system,” he said. “We have to be able to co-exist. If we can’t come together and do something to help everyone, let’s do away with (the sales tax).”
Savoy said that, although his home is surrounded by crawfish ponds, he has found this “mosquito season” to be surprising light. “I can work my dogs until late and not be bothered,” he said.
David Scheufens countered, “Well, I invite you over to my house for grilled rib-eyes — on me. The only stipulation is that you have to wear short pants and you have to stay outside until about 8:30 — and you can’t spray yourself.”
Glenn Stokes, president and owner of Mosquito Control Contractors, Inc., the parish contractor, pointed out that his company will spray individual sites at the owners’ request.
Both Scheufens admitted that they had taken advantage of that service.
No action was taken by the Mosquito Control Committee.
The jury’s Legislative Committee, after hearing from Chris LeBas, OneAcadia board member from Church Point, voted to recommend that the full jury adopt a resolution naming the parishwide business consortium as the economic development organization representing the parish.
LeBas extolled the dedication of the OneAcadia board of directors and its CEO, Laurie Suire, but added, “We would like to be recognized for our efforts and the fruits of our efforts. Being designated as the economic development organization representing the parish would give us a stronger presence in the area and allow us to better represent the parish.
“This designation would give us a lot more ‘clout’.”
Kerry Kilgore, chairman of the Legislative Committee, agreed.
“When dealing with businesses and industries, you would be able to say that you have the support and backing of this jury,” he said.
The full jury will consider the resolution when it meets at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11.
Jurors present for the committee meetings appeared surprised to learn that a new air-ambulance service has been permitted to operate in Acadia Parish.
Kirk Cousson of Air Evac Lifeteam noted that his company has been operating out of St. Landry Parish and has recently been granted a permit to operate in Acadia, providing both emergency and non-emergency transfer of patients.
“We’re here to supplement the service you already have,” Cousson said, adding that, with the permit in place, his aircraft can now be dispatched through fire departments, police department, 911 Centers, etc.
But personnel from Acadian Ambulance questioned not only the need for another air ambulance service, but the ordinance regulating ambulance services in the parish.
“Your ambulance ordinance says there must be three stations in the parish,” said Toby Bergeron, Acadian Ambulance supervisor for Acadia Parish, noting that Air Evac has no presence in Acadia.
Laura Faul, secretary-treasurer, admitted that she had only just been made aware of that provision of the parish ordinance and that the issue would be addressed by the parish attorney.
But Savoy and other jurors voiced concern that Acadian Ambulance was only trying to quash competition.
“Why should it be incumbent upon us to provide you an exclusive,” Savoy asked.
No action was taken, but Faul assured that matter of stations located in the parish will be considered.
Finally, on the matter of meeting time, Charles King, a former attorney from Crowely, pointed out that the jury, in September, voted to move its regular meetings from 6:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. “contingent upon an opinion from legal counsel.”
Faul assured King that she had received a written opinion from Brad Andrus stating that the jury could, indeed, change its meeting time by simple majority vote.
The meetings were moved up one hour as a way of saving the parish from paying overtime for employees who were forced to remain “on duty” for the meetings.