While the St. Mary Parish Council argued over the expenditure of $996,500 to renovate a Morgan City building for use by the AARP, Council on Aging and St. Mary Community Action Agency, councilmen made their feelings known.
Interestingly enough, Councilman Butch Middleton said when the time comes to spend money in western St. Mary, he’d better see some like-minded agreeability from his eastern counterparts. Council Chairman Albert Foulcard said there’s a lot of stuff that needs to be done on this end of the parish, and disagreed with the expenditure in Morgan City. Councilman Peter Soprano orchestrated an amendment to assure that use of the building is decided by a panel selected by AARP, the Council on Aging and St. Mary Community Agency.
Accolades to Middleton, Foulcard and Soprano for standing up for all of St. Mary Parish. My hat is off to you, gentlemen.
Meanwhile, Councilman Chuck Walters of Amelia said he was "tired of listening to this east-west mess" which is easy to say, when you’re in the east and getting the rewards.
I agree with Councilman Steve Bierhorst that the building is "a gem is St. Mary Parish" even at that price tag, but that "it belongs to everybody in St. Mary Parish" kinda falls flat when you consider how many of our elderly are on fixed incomes and either unable financially or physically to make a journey from, say, Sorrell or Charenton or even Franklin to the Morgan City facility. Or would want to.
Meanwhile, the Franklin Senior Center on Iberia Street is holding its own, despite being very, very tiny.
And lo and behold, Councilman Michael Domingue says that in his nearly two terms on the council he’s never heard of any east-west talk between council members, only "in the newspaper on foolishness with no facts…I know we don’t do that."
The facts are staring Mr. Domingue right square in the face, to the tune of nearly a million smackers. A million buck senior facility renovation, a $12 million golf course, et. al., in Patterson. Yes, I know there was some donation at work, some grants and only a percentage of that was actually from parish coffers…but the fact remains that neither parish government’s initiative nor drive nor creativity is being utilized in western St. Mary as it is just a stone’s throw across the Calumet Cut.
Yet Mr. Walters points out that they most certainly are spending money in western St. Mary, such as – get this – parish administrative space in Franklin.
Pardon me while I fall at your feet in gratitude, gentlemen.
Creating more parish administrative space, installing an elevator in the Blevins Building and another at Franklin City Hall are kind, nice, we appreciate it, thanks!
But those projects serve government and whatever small percentage of the population goes to government complexes to utilize those services. Government self-perpetuating itself does not qualify as a benefit to the parish along the same vein as the golf course, clubhouse and senior facility in Morgan City.
There is a disparity here. It’s undeniable. Mr. Domingue can call it foolishness, but it’s all there in plain sight. If there’s equal benefit attributed over here, it’s most certainly not very visible to the naked eye or easily accessible to the constituency, so what is it? The folks in Sorrell had to form a recreation district and pass a tax to get a recreation center built. In fact, when the district asked for a little help from the parish to finish the parking area and purchase some equipment, Mr. Walters suggested they raise the millage. Same thing, on a separate occasion, when the district asked for help starting a youth club.
Fact of the matter is, they’re nickel and diming us over here. Mr. Middleton, Mr. Foulcard and maybe even Mr. Soprano have spoken out. Mr. Domingue is apparently still trying to be chivalrous rather than pragmatic, which is more appealing to me than believing he could be that blind to what’s been going on around him for a long, long time now. Whatever "foolishness" he believes is not supported by fact in the newspaper is easily remedied by just a passing glance at the projects mentioned here and there.
Mr. Walters may be tired of listening to this east-west mess, but over here, we’re tired of living it.