If I were a teacher grading papers, I’d have to make sure my students followed the instructions to ascertain the answer they submitted.

Parish government has removed that derelict, rusty fence from the side of the Blevins building, and replaced it with a shiny new chain-link fence with barbed wire across the top.

Of course, I’m told it has nothing to do with me, that replacement of the fence.

My final grade is a C–. I appreciate the effort the parish put forth. It is, at least, no longer a tetanus hazard.

I recommended on March 9, "It desperately needs to be removed and – after application to and approval of the Franklin Historic District Commission – a better face put forward. Parish government is not above the law, and needs to comply with Historic District guidelines in the replacement."

On April 25, I reiterated, "I do want to remind those in charge that in addition to a building permit, Franklin Historic District approval will be needed for the replacement, just to make sure that everything’s kosher." That, of course, if a different fence was installed.

A quick check with City Hall reveals that no building permit was issued by the City of Franklin specifically for the fence, and no additional application submitted to the Historic District Commission. The work was, apparently, inclusive of the permit issued for the Blevins Building construction et. al.

Parish government obviously ordered the style fence, and the Historic District Commission would have approved it simply because the ordinance indicates it’s legal to replace like with like. They would undoubtedly, however, have strongly urged and requested something more in tune with the character of downtown Main Street. They never got that chance, however, on this particular part of the Blevins Building permit.

It’s been the practice of the city to pass all work in the historic district before the commission – even if it doesn’t require approval – so that a record may be kept.

I give them a C–. Here’s why.

Even the city administration and council of Franklin has made application with its own commission; if the owners of Polito’s can spend a bundle of money to renew the façade of that building, with balcony; if the community can generate over a million bucks in private funds to renew the lampposts along the boulevards on Main Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard; if the owners of the St. Mary Bank building can dig in their pockets to put up wrought iron on the adjacent alley instead of chain-link; if the folks at Miller Engineers can rebuild their awning and actually save the copper from the old one to maintain its historic character; if Louisiana Wetlands LLC can renovate the house at the corner of Main and Clark streets; if the City of Franklin can revitalize the Parc sur la Teche pavilion and the Historic District signage; if parish government has already renovated the Blevins Building and the neighboring facility housing Walter’s and the mentoring center — just to name a few — all with historic district nod — you’d think 30 feet of wood privacy fence or something could have been installed.

To be fair, it is a temporary measure, allegedly, until the ramp is removed completely at some point in hopefully the foreseeable future. Still, I can’t imagine how such lack of appreciation for the character of the community could exist. It’s just mind-boggling.

C–. Next test to be announced.


If you aren’t convinced yet that western St. Mary affairs are being dictated by eastern St. Mary officials, witness the last parish council meeting, and hold your breath for the outcome of today’s.

On May 9, the parish council voted 7-3 to replace a recreation board member in the Sorrell and Four Corners area with a new nominee. The nomination was from Councilman Joe Davis of Four Corners with a second from Councilman Butch Middleton of Franklin and the three nay votes were from Councilmen Peter Soprano and Michael Domingue of Centerville and Franklin respectively, and Councilman Kevin Voisin of Morgan City.

So let’s see what happened here: Two of the five councilmen west of the Calumet Cut and one from the east voted against the replacement, leaving the approval to be carried by three votes from western St. Mary and four votes from eastern St. Mary.

And today: West St. Mary Port Commissioner Tad Blevins is up for reappointment. Another person has submitted an application. Both, of course, are west-end residents.

We’ll see.


I’m just curious, too.

On May 17 we ran a front page photo of the Amelia Belle Casino presenting a check for $1.5 million to "St. Mary’s Parish" — wherever that is — and among the dignitaries accepting the check and posing for the picture were riverboat executives, parish council members, Morgan City council members and — the Morgan City utilities director.

Hmm. Funny. We take a lot of pictures down here, too. Not very often the Franklin or Baldwin utilities director is in a picture of a business opening. Fact, they’re usually only in a picture if they’re directly involved with the subject of the picture.