New pump station in Bayou Vista expected to enhance drainage

Louis Aucoin

Glen Elliott

Alvin Lodrigue

This is a long, long overdue project that has hampered drainage in Bayou Vista.
By ZACHARY FITZGERALD zfitzgerald@daily-review.com

The new roughly $2.8 million Bertrand-Vinning Pump Station in Bayou Vista was deemed substantially complete as of Nov. 1 and will help greatly with drainage problems in the area, according to legislators.
“This is a long, long overdue project that has hampered drainage in Bayou Vista,” State Rep. Sam Jones, D-Franklin, said. “This is going to be huge enhancement for the whole Bayou Vista community.”
The new pump station will be the main one for the Bayou Vista area. The pump station will increase the pumping power by 60,000 gallons per minute, Jones said. The old pumps were not big enough to pump the water out quickly enough, he said.
The Bayou Vista Sub-Gravity Drainage District 1 of 2 board accepted a motion at its meeting Tuesday to investigate whether any surplus money from the pump station project could go toward the Middle Road drainage project or Opperman Canal drainage project in Bayou Vista.
The new pump station is located on Opperman Lane about 500 yards from the old Plantation Inn Pump Station. The Bertand-Vinning Pump Station will replace the Plantation Inn Pump Station.
The new pump station was funded with a combination of state capital outlay and CDBG money in the amount slightly less than $2.8 million, said Doug Snead, project manager for Providence GSE/Associates LLC, the drainage district’s engineering consultant.
Construction on the new pump station has been going on for more than a year, Sub-Gravity Drainage District Chairman Glen Elliott said. Planning for the pump station began 15 years ago, Snead said.
The old pump station was “at the point of collapse,” Elliott said in July.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, former Drainage District employee Louis Aucoin, who resigned about a month ago, told the drainage district board Tuesday that three board members told him to resign or go to jail after he purchased $30 safety mirrors without approval from his supervisor Alvin Lodrigue.
Aucoin said the mirrors were to be used for a district tractor to keep him from backing into something while on the job. Lodrigue said the unauthorized purchase would have been a felony.
Elliott said Aucoin did not get authorization from his supervisor and also never brought the mirrors into the district’s building.
Aucoin got the mirrors for safety reasons after he had backed the district tractor into a 2013 BMW, he said. The wreck occurred near the Cannata’s Pump Station in Bayou Vista.
Elliott said Aucoin was given the choice to resign and the district would not pursue charges, or district officials would have called the St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office and pursued charges.
Aucoin questioned why he was “forced to resign” for his unauthorized purchase, while he said the district has used taxpayer funds for reasons not related to district business. One instance he cited was when he was told to cut grass for the drainage district on private property, Aucoin said.
Lodrigue said the grass cutting on private property that Aucoin referred to was district business. Snead said he asked the board to cut the grass on Opperman Canal to be able to take photos of an area to bid out a district project.
Aucoin cited another incident where he said he was pulled off his job by Lodrigue to ride out of town to pick up a personal vehicle at Don’s Wholesale in Broussard. Elliott said Tuesday’s meeting was the first time he had heard about that matter.
The drainage district went into executive session to discuss personnel matters pertaining to Aucoin’s comments. The matters were not discussed any further in the public meeting.
After the meeting, Elliott and Lodrigue said they are taking the matters under advisement of the district attorney’s office and did not want to comment.
 

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