Franklin continues to tackle water system rehabilitation
Drainage, water and Christmas highlight the City of Franklin’s year.
Mayor Raymond Harris said two motors on the pumping station on Ibert Street were changed from “hard start” to “soft start” motors after 25 years of service.
Public Works Director Jeremy Smith said that station drains the area of Willow Street, Second Street, Third Street and beyond. “It was something that needed to be done,” he said. “He changed the transformers out before, but the whole thing needed to be redone.”
In Pecan Acres, one pump was upgraded to a higher horsepower. The new motor generates a little more than 4,000 gallons per minute of additional capacity.
Further extensive overhaul of the Pecan Acres pumping facility is still in the planning stages.
Harris said the potential threat of Tropical Storm Lee in May was averted, but a temporary structure on the Franklin Canal offered unexpected protection from floodwaters. “We don’t know when we’re going to see the permanent structure with the delays right now,” Harris said.
Franklin augmented the Christmas season with lighting and ceremonies in December.
“Last year I went to Natchitoches with two employees and saw what they did,” the mayor said. “We were coming from a football game in Shreveport. A week or two later I brought my family there, and my kids remarked, ‘Dad, you could do this in Franklin.’ I was already thinking that and just took it as a challenge. I want to create something that will bring people downtown, give families something to do.”
Harris said he saw residents walking along the downtown area “just looking at the lights.”
After seeing a Louisiana Public Broadcasting program called “A Christmas Journey” that featured places to go in Louisiana during the season, Harris said he was encouraged to make sure Franklin would one day be featured.
“Natchitoches, Acadian Village, a place in Shreveport, and the bonfire in St. James Parish” were featured, Harris said. “How many people do they draw, what’s the extent of the attraction that draws people in? And I said, ‘We’re not on this show yet. Yet.’”
The mayor said the Morgan City police chief remarked to him recently, “Man, you’re town is pretty.” He said the city is already making plans for next year.
“We’re going to start planning what we want to do next year,” he said. “We’re going to start planning in January, and every year we want to add to it and take it to another year. I want to make Franklin the drawing card in south Louisiana. I want people to come from all over Acadiana to see what we have.”
Those plans include augmenting what’s already there on Main Street and the bayou side. “If we can get the bayou where we want it, and there’s more we want to do on Main Street, I think those are the things we’ll concentrate on,” Harris said. “Eventually we may do more on Willow and Iberia and West Main, but the emphasis will be downtown.”
He hopes the private sector will hop on board with the idea. “This year Scelfo’s Cleaners on Teche Drive decorated, and they said this is the first time they’ve ever done it,” he said. “I told them I was proud of what they did, and they said after all the work the city did, they had to do something. We’re hoping everybody’s going to catch the spirit.”
Franklin’s Main Street, Harris thinks, is more attractive than Natchitoches, and “we’re going to do some things that are going to ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’ people. We’re going to make Main Street so nice that people are going to drive from one end to the other, over and over, and then swing by the bayou. We’re going to do some great things on the bayou too. My people are thinking outside the box.”
Elsewhere in 2011, the city has changed about 30 fire hydrants in the past two months. “I think it’s going to help us with fire ratings,” he said. “I’m proud we got it done this year. It’s been needed for years. We also probably changed 400-500 water meters. People don’t see it, but we have really, really put in a lot of work in that water department this year. We spent a lot of money getting the water department to where it needs to be.”
Water plant reconstruction is complete, Harris said, and the recent installation of a flow meter has altered the calculation of how much water the city is losing much lower.
“We found a spot somewhere along the Yokely Canal we’re losing water and are about to fix that,” Harris said. “If this was a year of progress anywhere, it was in the water department. We made strides this year. We made giant strides forward.”
That will continue in 2012, Harris said, including a roof over the clarifiers at the water plant and a few Department of Health and Hospitals mandated improvements at the facility.
He said drainage projects are on tap for next year as well.
“A lot of these things were done at night, during those hours we put in fire hydrants, changed valves and meters,” Harris said. “Our revenues now are more consistent, they’re where we need to be now.”
Widening of the Yokely Canal is also planned for next year, Harris said.
The mayor lauded the art walk in August, and new Office of Development initiatives.