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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Lafourche Council members debate community action director’s pay

Lafourche Council members debate community action director’s pay

Last Tuesday the Lafourche Parish Council met to discuss a number of proclamations and ordinances.

In attendance were a number of seniors from Ward 6 and Bayou Blue. There was a proclamation recognizing the seniors for their promotion of “Lafourche on the Move” during the Senior Olympic Games. The Council also presented the Ward 6 seniors with a Lafourche Parish Council seal, signed by Council Chairman Jerry Lafont and Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph. Jane Robinson of Chackbay gracefully accepted the award on behalf of the Ward 6 seniors.

“I’m very proud of these group of ladies. We’ve been doing this for 32 years now representing Lafourche Parish and as you can see by our shirts we are recycled teenagers, not senior citizens,” said Robinson.

In relation to the recognition of the community’s senior citizens Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph issued a proclamation making the month of May officially known as “Older Americans Month.” Also the Council gave unanimous support for the increase in tax millages by $19,000 to support senior citizens.

“If we can’t respect the elderly people of this parish to give them $19,000 more, well then shame on us. I respect the elderly just like I support the veterans and they deserve to have it,” said Councilman Daniel Lorrane from District 9.

“I just think that we all should support our recycled teenagers,” said Vice Chairman John Arnold from District 3.

Heather Klingman, professional engineer and senior associate at Duplantis Design Group informed the Council that the plans for the repair and improvement of the Galliano bridge have been sent and the permits are currently pending. She informed the Council that the bridge will have to be closed off to traffic during the duration of the construction which may last for up to three months, but she insisted that the bridge, which according to the plans had been originally built in the 1950s, is in serious need of reconstruction.

Freddia Ruffin-Roberson was made Executive Director of Lafourche Parish Office of Community Action, however some debate was sparked with the issue of her pay, which is $65,000.

Council Chairman Jerry Lafont from District 8 and Vice Chairman John Arnold from District 3 both questioned the amount of money that the parish would be paying Ruffin-Roberson. Both argued that the Council was paying her entirely too much money. Other Councilmen however jumped to her defense and the motion was passed with only Chairman Lafont voting no at the end.

“Community Action has been in shambles. We’ve lost I don’t know how many programs. We’ve been begging for a director for the last four or five years, and we’re finally going to have one. Regardless of who the director is going to be the money is in the budget to pay the $65,000 so don’t come here and say that this is too much.

That’s what the amount was, that’s what it is, and that’s what it should be,” said Councilman Lorraine.

Reggie Bagala, the Deputy Director of Community Services presented a community report on the Lafourche Parish Animal Shelter. In his report he highlighted the shelter’s spay/neuter program and adoption programs which includes fully vetted and microchipped animals.

The shelter will be expanding 1,620 square feet of kennel space at the rear of the shelter to help house the ever-growing animal population. The funds for this expansion are already in the budget so no additional funds will be needed. He also expressed the shelter’s encouragement of community volunteers.