Ville Platte Police Chief Neal Lartigue is pleased to announce that Detective Charles Patrick Hall recently completed a two week training program which now makes him a certified D.A.R.E. instructor. Hall attended training in Pineville which was coordinated out of the Louisiana D.A.R.E. training center located at the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office in Lake Charles. The D.A.R.E. program is funded through the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement and is a great asset to the youth of the city. Charles Hall is looking forward to working with the students and helping them make safer, smart choices. Better choices for these students will help prevent future drug related problems like addiction and arrest. “We are proud of our D.A.R.E. students and do the best we can to encourage them to continue to make smart choices.” Chief Lartigue said, “Adding a second D.A.R.E. Officer allows us to reach out further and work more closely with our youth.” Chief Lartigue stated that now there are two qualified D.A.R.E. Officers at the Ville Platte Police Department which will allow Hall and Captain Duplechain to better serve the public schools in the city.
Chief Neal Lartigue reports that the Ville Platte Police Department is working on multiple investigations continuously.
The investigation into the July 23rd homicide of Mr. Joseph John continues and anyone who may have information is asked to call the Ville Platte Police Department at 363-1313. The department is following leads and are also waiting on results from the crime lab. Anyone calling in with information will remain anonymous.
The department is also continuing its investigation into the thefts involving yard ornaments, patio furniture and pottery. At the beginning of the investigation it was believed that the suspects had stolen somewhere around $5,000.00 worth of items. At this time more items are still being recovered and after 4 days of recovery efforts by the Ville Platte Police Department and the Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office the initial estimate has been changed to over $30,000.00. It is important to note that many, many stolen items are still unaccounted for. This investigation continues and more arrests are pending.
On August 20, 2013 Jarvis Lorenzo Richard 28, of 1217 Martin Luther King Dr. Ville Platte was arrested and brought to the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office Jail. Richard is being charged with multiple counts of theft with more charges pending.
Chief Lartigue stated that the investigation will take some time to complete because there were so many things stolen over the last few months. “We ask that those who have been victims to be patient.” Chief said, “We are almost a week into recovery efforts and we are still locating items.” To check for your belongings you are asked to contact the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office to find out the hours that someone will be available to help you.
If you recently purchased ornamental items, patio furniture or pottery from someone who was selling these items on the street you should call one of the two agencies to report this information. If you keep items that you know or are being told are stolen then you can be arrested. The safest bet is to call if you did not purchase your items from a business. If you purchased items in the city limits you would call the Ville Platte Police Department at 363-1313. If you live outside of the city limits you would call the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office at 363-2161.
The Evangeline Parish Police Jury Wednesday, in a special meeting Wednesday, approved the appointment of Donald Bergeron as new Secretary Treasurer to replace Doug Deville who is retiring at the end of September. The vote was 6-3. Bergeron, who has been serving as Public Works Director for the past year, received votes from Jurors Kevin Veillon, Lamar Johnson, Bryan Ardoin, Richard Thomas, Ryan Williams and Rocky Rider. The only other nominee, Assistant Secretary Treasurer Mindy Lalonde received votes from Jurors Kenny Burgess, Eric Soileau and Bryan Vidrine. The jury will decide on Bergeron’s salary at their regular September meeting.
Three other people applied for the position: Ben Soileau, Charles Roy Lafleur and Paul Ortego.
Both nominees appeared before jurors and made a presentation and answered questions. Lalonde said she has been working for the police jury since 2001 and has been Assistant Secretary Treasurer since 2007, handling payroll and finances.
Bergeron has been serving as Public Works Director since June of 2012 and operated a business for 20 years. He told jurors that his greatest strength is working with the public.
The police jury has voted to begin advertising to hire a new Public Works Director. The appointment is due to be made at a special meeting on September 3.
In other action, the police jury:
--received word from Donald Bergeron that it will cost about $24,000 to repair the parish chip seal spreader;
--voted to ask Bergeron to meet with 9-1-1 Director Liz Hill to update the parish road list and add the name of a new private road, “Ulysse Young Road” in District 1.
The Ville Platte Police Department recovers stolen property and makes an arrest.
Following an anonymous tip on Monday August 19, 2013, detectives were able to locate items stolen from residents of the city of Ville Platte, residents outside of the city in Evangeline Parish and some items from St. Landry Parish. Detective Nathaniel Savoy, Detective Steven Deville and Detective Rodney Daigle followed up the tip and their investigation led to the recovery of approximately $5,000.00 in stolen ornaments pots, wicker furniture, metal furniture, lamp posts and other yard decorations.
Items recovered were at five different locations throughout the city. The Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office assisted in the recovery of the stolen items and Detectives from the Ville Platte Police Department and the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office are asking residents that reported the thefts of these types of items to call the departments to begin the process of returning the items to proper owners.
Arrested was Joshua Fontenot, 26 of 4555 Grand Prairie Road, Washington. Fontenot is currently being held at the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office Jail on charges of felony theft with more charges possible. Chief Neal Lartigue stated that more arrests are pending and the outcome of this case was quick and effective due to the team work between an anonymous citizen and rapid response by Detectives.
Chief Lartigue also stated that so many items were recovered that it will take awhile to sort through everything and find the proper owners. “Call and speak to a detective if you have been a victim of a theft of these types of items. Chief Lartigue stated, “If the items were stolen from outside of the city limits please call and speak to a detective at the agency you reported the theft too.”
If you have any information on illegal activity please call the Ville Platte Police Department at 363-1313. All calls will remain anonymous.
The Ville Platte Chamber of Commerce today (Monday) heard from Erin Stickney with Codofil, the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana. Stickney announced that Codofil has begun a new program entitled “Franco Responsible”, an initiative to encourage French speakers who own businesses or provide services to do business in French. Participating businesses will receive a sticker and logo to advertise their business as a means to promote our French language. Stickney is urging local Ville Platte and Evangeline Parish businesses to contact her as Codofil is preparing a list of businesses. An I-Phone App is being prepared for travelers and tourists to be able to download so they can visit area businesses that converse in French.
Also speaking at the meeting was Debbie Farr with Lemoine Insurance who explained the new Affordable Care Act or “Obama Care”. She announced that beginning January 2013, every person will have to have medical health care coverage. Individuals will be able to choose a medical plan through the federal exchange marketplace. Under the Affordable Care Act, no one can be denied because of pre existing illnesses and your medical plan will be guaranteed to renew.. Your children can remain on your medical plan through age 26. All plans will include: Dr. Visits, emergency care, hospitalization, maternity coverage, prescription drugs, rehab services, lab, preventive and wellness and pediatric vision and dental care. The federal government will subsidize the medical premiums of many Americans. Those individuals making up to $45,000 a year will receive assistance. A family of four making up to $94,000 will also receive premium subsidies. Large employers who employ more than 50 employees will not have to begin the plan for another year. Small group employers can purchase their group plan through the exchange marketplace. Small employers can get tax credits and the federal government will pay up to 50 percent of what the employer pays for two years.
Chamber Executive Director Camille Fontenot announced that the current slate of officers will serve another term: President Dr. Kirk Soileau, First Vice President:Angie Rozas and Second Vice President: Mark Buller. Three new board members were elected: Randy Deshotel, Judy Guillory and Hillary Hill replacing outgoing board members: Jennifer Walker, Kermit Miller and Renee Brown.
The chamber received news:
--that there are 156 current members enrolled;
--approved adding McDonald’s of Acadiana as its new member;
--agreed to appoint a committee to look into sponsoring a July 4th celebration beginning next year;
--announced that the Ville Platte Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade is set for December 8. Businesses are urged to keep their lights on that night;
--received news that a national film crew will be visiting Ville Platte the week of October 7 to film a documentary.
Ville Platte Mayor Jennifer Vidrine and the City Council Tuesday recognized local youth groups who participated in recent national tournaments.
The Ville Platte 10 and under girls softball team came out in second place in the National Pony League Softball Tournament in Texas. They ended their season with a 30-2 record and were runner up to the Mamou girls team.Coach Joey Soileau said the all star team suffered their only losses to Mamou in the National Tournament in Burleson, Texas. The coaches, team mom and all star girls were each presented with a certificate and a basket full of local products.
The council also recognized the Evangeline Heat basketball team, that participated in the AAU National Tournament in Dallas, Texas. Coach Shawn Roy along with the rest of the coaching staff, team moms and players were each honored with a certificate and a basket.
In other business, the city council:
--received news from the mayor that expenditures rose $7218 in the month of July as compared to the previous month;
--appointed Janie Knighten as new Swamp Pop Museum Director replacing Sharon Fontenot who resigned ;
--renewed a contract with City Treasurer Rod Lafleur;
--approved naming Charles Jones as new Sewer and Water Department Supervisor replacing Schmelling Thomas who retired;
--was notified that the mayor has applied for grant funds for new police cars and a city bus to provide public transportation to local residents;
--received news that the city of Ville Platte received first place honors in the recent Louisiana Municipal Association annual conference for “Outstanding Community for Basic Services” for the electronic waste recycling project where over two tons of electronics were processed;
--notified citizens that a film crew will be in Ville Platte the week of October 7 to film a documentary on the city and its people.
The Evangeline Parish Police Jury Monday adopted a resolution to begin the process of applying with the state bond commission to issue up to 28 million dollars for road and drainage work in the parish . Bonding Attorney Eric Lafleur explained that the bonds will be repaid from the two cent sales tax that voters renewed last year for another ten year period. Bonding underwriter John Mayeaux reported that the sales tax will generate approximately $3.7 million dollars. He predicted that the interest rate will be about 4.25 percent. Lafleur expected that the bonds will be issued sometime in October.
Rebecca Shirley, executive director of the Acadiana Economic Development District and Katy Chaisson, senior business development director with Cleco. explained their services to members of the police jury. Both speakers praised Dr. William “Tojo” Ward for his leadership as vice chairman on the Acadiana Economic Development District. Chaisson told the jury that a company is currently looking at locating at a national certified industrial park which includes the Evangeline Parish Industrial Park.
In other action the police jury:
--accepted the retirement of Secretary Treasurer Doug Deville effective in September. The jury voted to begin advertising for applications for his replacement. A special meeting has been called for on August 21 at 5:00pm to appoint a new secretary-treasurer;
--proclaimed August 15 as a day to honor three Evangeline Parish high school boxers who have been inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame: Bobby Soileau, Larry Hollier and Terrona Guillory;
--received complaints from local residents about flooding problems at the Demourelle Subdivision;
--appointed Darrell McGee to replace Joe Vidrine on the Prairie Manor Gravity Drainage District #8 Board;
--was reminded that by Parish Engineer Ronnie Landreneau that the deadline to apply for a Community Development Block Grant is November 21;
--reappointed Kenneth Johnson to another five year term to the Ward Four Water District Board;
--reappointed Lynn Gooden and Nat Thomas to another two year term on the Evangeline Communications District Board.
On August 7, 2013, Deputies were notified of a vehicle accident on La 10 just west of the Ville Platte city limits in the early hours of the morning. After further investigation into the accident, Deputies with the Sheriff’s office discovered that the driver of the vehicle Kerry Dwayne Bergeron, was attacked prior to the accident. Detectives were then notified and while checking into the incident, information came into the sheriff’s office that there were approximately four suspects that were involved in the attack. During the course of the investigation, Leeann Fontenot of Mamou, was picked up by deputies for questioning in the incident, Amber Ducote was picked up as well. During the course of the investigation it was determined that Leeann and Amber attacked the victim at the Vidrine Corner Store, during this incident Leeann contacted her brother Casey Fontenot who, met up with Leeann and Amber at the store where they continued the attack on Bergeron, knocking him to the ground and kicking him in the face and the head. Amber Ducote and Leeann proceeded to go through Bergeron’s vehicle and located a money bag and stole approximately $1500 in cash from the bag. After which all parties left Bergeron at the store to fend for himself. Witness to the attack provided information on all the suspect’s role in the attack and robbery of Bergeron.
Leeann Fontenot, Amber Ducote, Casey Fontenot, was all arrested and charged with 2nd Degree Robbery and Attempted 2nd Degree Murder. Additional suspect's is being sought, future arrest are pending.
Leeann Fontenot: Oct 2009 Disturbing the Peace, March 2011 Unauthorized use of a Motor Vehicle, February and August 2012 Disturbing the Peace, March 2013 Possession of Marijuana, Poss. Sch. III, Poss. Sch. IV, Poss. Legend Drug,
Amber Ducote: No criminal Record
Casey Fontenot: August 2010 Flight from Officer, Aggravated Flight from an Officer, Public Bribery, July 2013 Purchase/Possession of Alcoholic beverage under age, Resisting an Officer, Possession of Alcohol in a motor vehicle
The Evangeline Parish School Board, Wednesday, announced that its reapportionment plan is ready for the 2014 school elections. Superintendent of Schools Toni Hamlin reported that due to the recent Supreme Court decision it is no longer necessary for political subdivisions submit their redistricting plan to the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department.
School Board Chief Financial Officer Amy Lafleur reported that sales tax collections for the first month of the new fiscal year, July, was $114,809 below the same month a year ago. She also reported that the school district’s tobacco tax settlement fund in the Education Excellence Fund amounts to $1.2 million dollars.
Superintendent of Schools Toni Hamlin announced that in -service classes have been going on this week for new teachers at Mamou High to prepare for the new school year to review policy and procedures, lesson planning and the new Common Core standards. There will be a district wide in-service next Tuesday and more in-service in each school next Wednesday and Thursday. The first day of school for students will be Friday August 16.
Superintendent Hamlin said “It was a productive summer and I feel good about the new school year”. She announced two teacher openings: a counselor at Bayou Chicot and chemistry teacher position at Ville Platte High.
In other action, the school board :
--recognized Ville Platte High graduate Eric Richard who recently earned his doctorate degree and is currently a teacher at a high school in Dallas, Texas. His parents were present at the meeting and were given special recognition;
--received news that the authorities are investigating a case of vandalism at Chataignier Elementary School.
Ville Platte – Sunday night shortly after 7:00 pm, Troopers from Louisiana State Police Troop I began investigating a single vehicle fatal crash that occurred on LA Hwy 1161 near St. John Road in Evangeline Parish. The crash took the life of 33 year old Ville Platte resident Monique R. Branch.
The initial investigation by State Police revealed that the crash occurred as Branch was driving a 2010 Chevrolet HHR southbound on LA 1161. For unknown reasons Branch crossed the centerline into the northbound lane of travel. She overcorrected, causing the HHR to leave the roadway to the right. The HHR entered into a ditch, rolled over and then struck the corner of a house.
Branch was not wearing a seatbelt and suffered fatal injuries from the crash. Driver impairment is unknown; however, Troopers have submitted a toxicology sample from Branch to the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab for analysis.
Louisiana State Troopers wish to remind motorists of the importance of seatbelt use. Louisiana law requires that every person in a motor vehicle, regardless of seating position, always remain buckled up. Statistics show that the chances of surviving a violent crash rise significantly when properly restrained. Taking the time to buckle up before every trip is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself in a crash.
According to Ville Platte Chief Neal Lartigue an arrest was made of a juvenile just minutes after he stole a gun from a vehicle. Shortly after 11:00 a.m. the Ville Platte Police Department received a call reporting that a black male juvenile entered a truck parked at a local business and took a hand gun from inside. Witnesses to the incident called the police department immediately and were able to provide a detailed description of the juvenile. Officers and Detectives responded to the area to search for the juvenile suspect and located him within minutes of the call. Officers and detectives were involved in a short foot pursuit and nearby bystanders plus one off duty officer from another agency joined the foot pursuit to help catch the juvenile. The juvenile was captured and the hand gun was found in his back pack.
Chief Lartigue thanks the bystanders and off duty officer that helped with this incident. “An accurate description and immediate call helped us locate and apprehend this juvenile” Chief Lartigue stated. “Officer and Detectives responded quickly and working with others were able to locate the juvenile and get the hand gun off the streets.”
We have been working more cases involving weapons in the city lately and everyone needs to remember how dangerous these weapons can be. We are continuing to ask for information on guns stolen from West Lincoln Road. The investigation continues with some but not all of the guns recovered. “We are working diligently to get the rest of these hand guns off the streets.” Chief Lartigue said.
Another case involving a weapon where the investigation continues is the homicide of July 22, 2013. The Ville Platte Police Department is actively working this case and is working with the public to gather information. Any information you may have regarding this case is important whether it seems insignificant or not. Detectives want to hear from you if you have any information at all.
If you have information on any illegal activity you are asked to call the Ville Platte Police Department at 363-1313. Your call will remain anonymous.
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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.