For the second year in a row, Ville Platte has won First Place in the Cleanest City contest for our local District 7, according to Joyce Coreil with the magnolia Garden Club. Coreil said outstanding community involvement contributed greatly to the city winning First Place. The city will next compete statewide. Keep listening to KVPI for more details.
The Louisiana Association of Broadcasters awarded KVPI-FM, Oldies 92-5, its Radio Station of the Year honor in the Small Market category. The award was presented Thursday at the group’s annual Prestige Awards banquet in Baton Rouge. This is the second year in a row, KVPI-FM has won Radio Station of the Year.
KVPI Office Manager Bonnie Fontenot was presented the 2012 Distinguished Award from the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters for her 54 years of service to the company as book keeper.
The award was presented to KVPI AM/FM General Manager Mark Layne for the station’s community service efforts. During the year, the radio station participated in numerous community events from a 4-H livestock show in January, festival remotes, Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society, Election Returns, Parish Centennial at the courthouse, fund raising drive for youth baseball and softball and an all day remote for the Food for Families Food Drive in December.
In addition, KVPI-FM conducted more than 36 community service interviews with public officials and community leaders.
The radio station is a strong supporter of our Cajun culture and heritage through its programming with local newscasts all in French, Tradio and La Tasse De Café. It also sponsors the monthly “La Table Francais” program at a local restaurant for local residents to meet together and converse in Cajun French.
KVPI-FM also supports our Louisiana Swamp Pop music by devoting an entire day to the music every Friday. It co-sponsors with the City of Ville Platte, an annual benefit dance to raise money for the Louisiana Swamp Pop museum.
KVPI Sports covered more than 180 local sporting events in 2011 including high school football, basketball, baseball and softball, LSU Eunice basketball, baseball and softball along with Ville Platte Dixie Youth baseball and Girls Softball. Travel wise, KVPI Sports was again all over the state and the country. We traveled to Texas,, Mississippi, Illinois and North Carolina. In Illinois, the LSU E Lady Bengals won the Division Two National Championship. We followed the Ville Platte 12 year old baseball team to the Dixie Youth World Series in North Carolina. In all ,we covered games for seven high schools, a junior college, and five youth summer league all star teams. Sports Director Randy Guillory travelled more than 10,000 miles covering sporting events for KVPI.
Layne thanked the broadcasters for the award ,station listeners and clients and a special thanks to Ville Platte Broadcasting Company for their support and encouragement.
There will be two runoff races in April based on complete but unofficial election returns from Saturday’s elections in Evangeline Parish.
The weather was beautiful but the turnout was extremely light for the statewide presidential preference primary election.
In the Village of Chataignier, Jackie Malveaux Thomas was the top vote getter for the race for mayor with 92 votes and will be facing Alton Thomas Jr. who received 62 votes. Candidate J.C. Jack got 41 votes.
For Alderman in the Village of Chataignier, Nicholas Papillion was elected Alderman with 111 votes and opponent Marcus Tony Calvin received 68 votes.
In the Village of Turkey Creek, Brad Wilson was the top vote getter with 52 votes and will be going in a runoff with Russell Moose Evans who got 45 votes. Brittany Hebert received 25 votes.
For the Presidential Preference Primary in Evangeline Parish, in the Democratic Party, Barack Obama was the top vote getter wirh 5925 votes followed by John Wolfe with 2532 votes,, Darcy Richardson with 1281 votes and Bob Ely with 1121 votes.
In the Republican race, Rick Santorum received the most votes with 4575 votes followed by Mitt Romney with 1431 votes, Newt Gingrich with 1411 votes,, Ron Paul with 40 votes, Buddy Roemer with 6 votes, Rick Perry with 6 votes, Jon Huntsman and Michele Bachman with one vote each.
Ville Platte- Evangeline Parish Superintendent of Schools Toni Hamlin Wednesday advised school board members that two important elements of the governor’s education reform efforts will be up for final passage in the House of Representatives on Thursday. Hamlin was referring to House Bill 974 dealing with teacher tenure and performance pay and House Bill 976 dealing with school choice.
Parish teachers are using emails to send messages to lawmakers rather than attending in person, according to the superintendent.
Board member Scott Limoges agreed with the superintendent that there are a lot of unanswered questions dealing with education reform proposed by the governor and his administration.
Hamlin said “I think everyone here is in favor of education reform but how do we get there? I feel there are many details that have not been worked out.
School Board Vice President Jerry Thompson commented “ I believe they are attempting to jam this down our throats before planning it all out.”
Personnel Supervisor Michael Lombas told the board “The administration wants us to have more charter schools because 44 percent of our public schools are failing D and F schools. However they fail to mention that 64% of charter schools are failing, more than our public schools. Also, charter schools are not as accountable as public schools are.”
Also, Superintendent Hamlin informed the school board that she reluctantly called for the closure of school today in parish schools Wednesday . She spoke three times with the 9-1-1 and First Student transportation officials before making the call. She reached her decision after being notified from the mayor of Ville Platte about a number of flooded streets throughout the city. Ville Platte received 3.4 inches of rain Wednesday.
In other business, the school board :
--received news that due to the Easter holiday, there will only be one board meeting in April, April 18;
--was notified that Cabot Corporation made a $25,000 donation for the technology department.
The Evangeline Parish Police Jury, in a special meeting Monday, approved renewing its group health insurance plan with the Louisiana Police Jury Association. The plan calls for a 5 percent increase in rates that will be passed on to both the police jury and parish employees. Parish employees will be given the choice to keep current coverage or choose a new cheaper managed care plan.
In other business, the police jury voted to look at the possibility of moving out of the courthouse into the parish owned Medicaid Office building on LaSalle street next door to the Health Unit. The jury agreed not to pursue an option to purchase the former Probation and Parole building, across the street from the courthouse at a cost of $300,000.
The jury based its decision after finding out that the Medicaid program notified the parish that they will not renew their lease with the parish in June. The one person remaining with the program in the parish will move over next door to the Health Unit.
The jury has requested Parish Engineer Ronnie Landreneau to prepare a cost estimate for such a proposed move.
The move is being considered to make more room for the District Attorney’s Office in the courthouse. The jury wants to find out how much assistance the District Attorney is willing to provide for the move.
In another matter, the police jury approved engaging the services of Delta Financial Services to help collect delinquent sewer bills. The firm proposes to attempt to collect past due bills at a fee of 30 percent.
In other action, the police jury by a 4-3 vote turned down a proposal by Police Juror Richard Thomas to remove a $2 an hour pay raise given to a parish employee. The employee, Freeman Celestine, was given the increase last year in connection with his duties. Thomas said the duties were removed later but he is still collecting the additional pay.
Also, the police jury turned down two damage claims.
The Ville Platte Chamber of Commerce today (Monday) heard from Clem LaFleur and members of his staff at LaFleur Industries. Lafleur explained that with the assistance of federal grants, he was able to construct 44 single and multi family housing units in Ville Platte in two phases. He is preparing a third phase of housing units in Mamou. The units are in the Ben and Clem Estates and Lafleur Landing One and Two located north of Lincoln Road. The units are rentals and are geared for low income residents. After doing a market study, Lafleur said Evangeline Parish has70 percent of its residents making $45,000 or below. Also speaking was Glenda Frank, Project Manager. She said there is a waiting list of those wishing a housing unit after they are become qualified.
In other business, the Ville Platte Chamber of Commerce was notified that the next Chamber sponsored bus trip is scheduled for June 20 to view the World War Two Museum in New Orleans. The cost will be $150 per person. Contact the chamber office for more information.
In other action the chamber of commerce:
--has 144 members in good standing;
--was notified that the Chamber Business of the Month for March is Guaranty Bank;
--received news that the Cleanest City Contest is scheduled for March 27 in Ville Platte. There will be a trash bash Saturday at 9:00am;
--heard that the annual Chamber of Commerce Banquet is planned for May 3;
--received word from Dr. Tojo Ward that the Industrial park is now nationally certified after an 18 month process and is prepared to be marketed to a national industry;
--received news that Acadiana Day at the Legislature is set for April 24 in Baton Rouge.
The Ville Platte City Council, Tuesday, voted to name two new members to the Municipal Civil Service Board. By a vote of 4-2, the city council voted to name Charles Thomas and James Goudy. Those voting for Thomas and Goudy were Jerry Joseph, Freddie Jack, Donald Sam and Taranza Arvie. Mayor Jennifer Vidrine was in favor of appointing Tommy Jones and Ben Soileau who received two votes. Those voting for the mayor’s nominees were C.J. Dardeau and Mike Perron. There was disagreement over whether the city council can legally nominate someone or can only vote to approve a nominee recommended by the mayor. The issue has been turned over to City Attorney Eric Lafleur for review.
In other business, the city council voted to revise last month’s actions over the naming of a street. Last month, the council voted to approve naming both West and East Cypress to Edward Notto Thomas Street . Thomas is 102 years old and is considered Evangeline Parish’s oldest citizen. The change will mean West Cypress will be re named Edward Notto Thomas Street while East Cypress will keep its name after a request by business people not to change the name.
A property owner who owns a business on the street said it could negatively impact his business and be costly.
In other action, the city council:
–following a public hearing voted to amend its ordinance to permit businesses closer than 300 feet from a residential area to sell alcohol beverages if it is not consumed on the premises;
–voted to approve entering into a cooperative endeavor agreement with the Smoked Meat Festival and making a $500 contribution to the festival;
–received a report that the Ville Platte Fire Department responded to 11 fire calls in the city and 7 were structure fires;
–received a report from the Ville Platte Police Department that the city police responded to 605 calls in February, 104 arrests, 12 felony arrests and worked 59 traffic accidents;
–named Taranza Arvie, Jerry Joseph and Mike Perron to a new committee to oversee the use of the new City Pavillion. The committee will formulate fees and guidelines on how private citizens and groups can use the pavillion;
–discussed a growing problem of citizens turning off city gas service in the Spring and having it rurned back on in November. Currently the city is only charging customers to have it turned back on in the fall. They are considering charging a fee to have it turned off.
The Evangeline Parish Police Jury Monday voted to turn over delinquent sewer bills to a collection agency for those residents living in subdivisions where the police jury is operating sewer systems. Jury Secretary Treasurer Doug DeVille informed the police jury that there is about $70,000 in back due sewer bills that the parish cannot collect.
When asked if the jury can legally cut off sewer service to those who have not paid their bills, their legal advisor said yes they can but there is no practical way of doing it.
Also, DeVille advised that the parish is losing money because of its low monthly bills. Currently the parish is charging its sewer customers $15 a month. The jury would need to raise its rates to $25 a month just to break even.
There was discussion about raising the sewer rates to $30 a month however several jurors were against doubling the rates. Juror Kevin Veillon said “We should not punish the good for the bad. We should raise the rates slowly.”
Secretary DeVille said there is a private sewer firm that is interested in purchasing all of the parish owned sewer systems. The jury voted to postpone any action on rate increase until the sewer company makes an offer for the systems.
In other business, the police jury voted to call a special meeting later this month to decide on its group health plan. The group health plan will be going up about 5% over last year or an increase of $1600 a month. Jury Secretary Treasurer informed the jury that is the smallest rate increase that he has seen while serving for the jury. In the past, rate increases have ranged from 9-15 percent. There will be no changes in benefits for the parish employees.
In other action, the police jury:
--voted to increase the contribution by $100 a year for each of the five Justices of the Peace and Constables to attend a mandated yearly training conference;
--voted to deny a vehicle damage claim for an accident that occurred in District Six;
--received a report that sales tax collections for January sales amounted to $274,336.
Chief Neal Lartigue with the Ville Platte Police Department is pleased to report that a recent rash of vehicle break ins has been solved. The department had been receiving multiple complaints of vehicles being broken into in the city limits of Ville Platte at the end of February. Detectives Steven Deville was assigned the case and investigated the vehicle break ins ending in multiple arrests.
On March 9, 2012 Fabian Mass, 18 of 106 East Pine St. Ville Platte was arrested and charged with 8 counts of damage to property, 6 counts of unauthorized entry of a motor vehicle, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, vehicle burglary, criminal trespassing and theft of a firearm. Mass was booked into the Ville Platte City jail were he remains incarcerated on a $207, 500 bond set by Judge John Larry Vidrine.
Also on March 9, 2012 Nicholas Vories Jr., 20 of 102 Ash St Ville Platte was arrested and charged with 8 counts of damage to property, 6 counts of unauthorized entry of a motor vehicle, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, vehicle burglary and criminal trespassing. Vories was booked into the Ville Platte City jail were he remains incarcerated on a $200,000 bond set by Judge John Larry Vidrine.
Chief Lartigue commends the Investigations Division for working swiftly to solve this case. Lartigue also asks citizens of Ville Platte to continue to call in with information on any crimes in the city at 363-1313. These tips help the department solve crimes and callers will remain anonymous.
Technology was the primary item of discussion at Wednesday’s meeting of the Evangeline Parish School Board.
The Board approved a recommendation by Superintendent of Schools Toni Hamlin and Technology Facilitator Connie Bertrand to apply for $959,998 in E Rate funding. E rate is the funding rate the federal government pays for technology in public schools. Currently, the E rate for Evangeline Parish Schools is 86% so the school district is only responsible for 14 percent of the cost of eligible services. Should the federal government approve the application, the school board’s local share will only be $61,979. The board was able to obtain a $25,000 grant from Cabot Corporation and a $47,000 grant from another federal source.
The funding will be used to begin phase one of a three phase project for state mandated online testing of students in the next few years. Phase one begins the costly project of re-wiring parish high schools for email service, internet access and network infrastructure. Phase one will include upgrades at Basile High, Mamou High, Pine Prairie High and Ville Platte High School.
By 2014, the state will begin phased-in online testing of students beginning with the middle grade students.
In other business, the school board:
--approved the contract renewals for another two year term for Ville Platte High Principal Kelli LaFleur and Child Welfare and Attendance Supervisor Phillip Buller;
--appointed Doug Guillory as new Head Football Coach at Pine Prairie High School;
--recognized Basile Board Member Dr. Bobby Deshotel who was recently recognized by the Louisiana School Board Association at its conference of currently begin the longest serving school board member in the state. Dr. Deshotel has been serving as school board member from District Two for 43 years.
An early morning fire at Vidrine Elementary School claimed the life of a school janitor, according to Mamou District Fire Chief Gary Reed. Chief Reed identified the victim as Donald Thomas, in his late 50’s from Mamou.
The fire was reported to authorities at 5:42 this morning in a storage building where custodians congregate in back of the Vidrine Elementary School Main building. That building is attached to the Kindergarten section. When the first fire unit arrived, there was heavy smoke seen from the burning building.
The Mamou Fire District responded to the fire with four pumper units, two tankers and three rescue units while Ville Platte responded to mutual aid with one pumper and tanker. Chief Reed said 28 firefighters responded to the fire. It took fire crews about 30 minutes to get the fire under control.
After the fire was extinguised, it was reported that one of the custodians was reported missing. Chief Reed sent a rescue team back in to the building and they discovered the body of Donald Thomas.
The investigation is being conducted by the Office of the State Fire Marshal. It is undetermined how the fire began but it was confined to the storage building.
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The Louisiana Swamp Pop Museum operated by the City of Ville Platte is open to the public every Friday and Saturday from 10:00am to 3:00pm. Come view the amazing artifacts, photos, records, Wall of Fame and hear the music. Admission charge is $3 adults, $2 seniors and $1 for children under 12. The museum is located on Northwest Railroad Avenue.