Jones reports on state session; Mathews on summer program

State Rep. Sam Jones (D-Franklin) brought good news to the Baldwin Board of Aldermen Thursday.

About $925,000 will be spent to change the bridge off Martin Luther King Street over Bayou Choupique, Jones said.

The state will be handling that as a Department of Transportation and Development Project, he said. It will be rebuilt, widened and the approaches extended.

Jones said the legislature passed a bill setting aside $500,000 beginning next fiscal year to allow the Atchafalaya Basin Program to purchase land inside the basin area, for public access.

“One of the big problems we’ve heard since the 1970s has been there’s not a lot of places for a guy to take his kids fishing or take the family out for a picnic,” he said. “I’m not saying there’s a park in mind or something, but it’s the beginning of a good legacy and effort. The fund can accumulate as much as $10 million, and the land will only be acquired from willing sellers.”

Jones also noted that funds were allocated for the local expenses in this year’s Tour du Teche paddle race, and $25,000 for the Lake Fausse Point-Lake Dauterive-Grand Avoille Cove Restoration Committee.

Mayor Wayne Breaux asked about completion of surfacing the levee road.

“I hope to be able to do that through the Atchafalaya Basin Fund,” Jones said.

Also Thursday, parish President Paul Naquin said removal of the barge overturned in the Charenton Navigation and Drainage Canal is still held up by liens against the derelict.

He said federal bankruptcy court, where proceedings were held against the barge’s owner T. Moore Services LLC, are in the process of releasing the liens and then the vessel will go to sheriff’s sale.

That could be anywhere from two weeks to two months, Naquin said.

Bids have been received to remove the derelict, Naquin said.

In other business, St. Mary Parish Councilman Craig Mathews, District 1, reported to the board on the Summer Enrichment Program in his district.

The five-week program was very successful, Mathews said.

Now in its fourth year, Mathews said it has expanded in reach and scope of services. This year, 140 children were enrolled and served.

“Largest number we’ve had in the history of the program,” Mathews said. “Thirty-eight percent of that were children from the Baldwin area.”

This year transportation was offered, bringing in more participants. The cost was high, Mathews said, but rewarding.

The program is a “curriculum that fosters life skills, development and of course, life skills development, with a goal in mind that eventually evolves into a youth leadership council… the basis for that module have been formulated over the weeks of that program.”

He asked the board to consider a $2,000 contribution to the program.

Mayor Breaux said the board would consider the request at the next meeting, since it was not on Thursday’s agenda.

St. Mary Now & Franklin Banner-Tribune

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