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Hurricane changed priorities for the parish

Franklinton Era-Leader Nov 23, 2005

     Editor, The Era-Leader:

     To All Residents of Washington Parish,

     I have an important message for all of you as follows: A Changing of Priorities.
For quite some time our legislators have pushed a 3310-acre reservoir with an average dept of 24.7 feet located at site 2-The Oak Grove Community. They have been asked by many of us to find an alternate site, which would not affect anyone’s home or property. Presently nine fixed homes and eight mobile homes and properties are to be taken, with no regard obviously to the opinions of those seventeen families.

     Our reservoir group has collected thousands of signatures on our petition which basically ask our representatives to amend Act 71, which created the reservoir issue, to add an amendment which would protect landowners and their properties from seizure. I think many of you out there in Washington Parish are appalled by this type of conduct by the representatives that we indeed did elect.

     They also intend on seizure of at least two cemeteries in Site 2. The Rester Cemetery just off Moore Road has more than 105 people buried there. We ask our legislators again, please don’t proceed any further with this carnage.

     What occurred on Aug. 29 in Louisiana, the Gulf Coast and other nearby states (Hurricane Katrina and then shortly afterwards Rita) certainly changed many people’s Listing of priorities.

     The State of Louisiana I understand is now facing a shocking billion dollar deficit. Our Charity Hospital System is on the verge of financial collapse and the state in order to simply pay their employees, need 15 million dollars per month for the next six months for a total of 90 million dollars.

     How will this need be met? What will happen to these hospitals if the funding is not found? Where will the poor and uninsured go for their health needs? Let’s hope and pray that this financial need will be met.

     New Orleans has suffered a terrible blow. Desperation abounds in that community. Recently, Mayor Nagin reluctantly had to give 3000 city employees pink slips. He basically has very little tax base left at this time. Many of those people that evacuated Katrina marched in a bee-line and will not return. Many of them have secured good jobs and settled in other cities.

     Back to our local situation in Bogalusa. The mayor stated in the “Daily News” recently that if the city didn’t receive $300,000 by Friday, that all city functions would come to a halt.

     We’re very proud of Temple-Island. They sent over a check for the amount that had been requested. I know we all thank them for their timely assistance.

     Our Education system in Southeast Louisiana suffers also financially. I know that many schools in New Orleans have been close and pink slips for school employees in Orleans Parish have been passed out.

     Having said all this, I propose that the 29 million dollars destined for the reservoir in Site 2 in Washington Parish be used as follows: 14.5 million to our Charity Hospital System and the remaining 14.5 million to our education system. Indeed our priorities have changed. I submit that the reservoir issue should be put on a shelf somewhere, while many more important entities are more seriously considered. I submit that our representatives spend it much more wisely.

     In Closing, I would like to thank the National Guard, the Red Cross, FEMA and the Corp of Engineers and all the volunteers that helped us in our time of need. It give ma a warm feeling to live in the USA where brothers and sisters from all over this great nation put whatever they were doing to the side and came to our aid.

     We thank all the churches that set up food kitchens, and the many locations that were set up to provide much needed ice, water, food and tarps, etc. Let us all join in an effort to make things better for our brothers and sisters. God Bless America.

Ed McDonald

Transcript provided by: Washington Parish Community Preservation Alliance

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