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Brigitte Exnicious receives Beacon Shines On recognition at Tuesday's Berwick Town meeting. She's shown with Police Chief David Leonard.

The Daily Review/Bill Decker

Berwick council moves to protect its claim to lighthouse

By BILL DECKER
The Daily Review
BERWICK — After nearly 30 years, the town government faces a deadline in its effort to acquire the Ship Shoal Lighthouse.
So on Tuesday, the Town Council authorized Mayor Duval Arthur to execute a bill of sale that would protect Berwick’s claim to the lighthouse.
Berwick has plans to move the structure from the coast to the town’s riverfront, where the Southwest Pass Lighthouse already stands. Recently, it has served as the centerpiece for the International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend, the Lighthouse Festival and the Christmas lighting ceremony on Thanksgiving night.
The acquisition was made possible by legislation shepherded by then-U.S. Rep. Billy Tauzin in 1991, said former City Attorney Allen McElroy. He stepped down from his city attorney position but has continued to work on the lighthouse project.
Berwick has plans for the Ship Shoal Lighthouse, including a maritime museum. But McElroy said he has recommended against assuming ownership in the past because of liability concerns.
He said the lighthouse is in poor repair, and the Coast Guard is anxious to turn it over. Subsequent federal legislation set a deadline of Jan. 1, 2021, for Berwick’s decision.
Other jurisdictions, including Houma, will want the lighthouse if Berwick doesn’t, McElroy said.
There would be no cost to the town for acquiring the lighthouse. But getting it to Berwick is another challenge.
The Berry Brothers contracting company of Berwick offered to bring the lighthouse to the town by barge, but rough water halted that attempt, McElroy said. With winter coming, more rough water is likely.
Also Tuesday:
—The council gave Beacon Shines on Recognition to Brigitte Exnicious, who cooked for town workers during recent hurricanes and runs Berwick’s Toys for Tots program.
—The council approved a resolution updating its agreement with Waterworks District No. 2.
The Berwick-Bayou Vista Waterworks Commission provides water to both communities. The update creates a fund for repairs over $1,000. The fund will be supported by a charge of 20 cents per 1,000 gallons to be paid by the town and the district.
The update also adds an update requirement. The original agreement dates to 1974.
—The council authorized an agreement with South Central Planning and Development Commission. The commission will provide guidance and oversight when it comes to enforcing the Louisiana Uniform Construction Code.
The town would give the commission a share of permit fees.
The mayor said the agreement will free planning and zoning official Gary Beadle for other work.
—The council paid about $52,000 to Southern Constructors and about $4,600 to Miller Engineers and Associations for work on the Concrete Improvement Project for Belleview, Front and Gus streets.
—The council approved 2021 liquor licenses for St. Mary Golf and Country Club, Ganaway’s 84, Country Club Express, Woodie’s Lighthouse Lounge, Hollywood Truck Plaza, Hollywood Plaza Casino, Stazione’s Deli Market, Bayou Lagniappe Restaurant, Dollar General No. 13678, Cypress Lake Resort and The Old Building.
Council member Colleen Askew is an owner of The Old Building. The council voted on that license separately, and Askew didn’t participate in that vote.

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