St. Mary receives $19.4 in CDBG funds

The federal government has approved $19.4 million in Community Development Block Grant monies and $4.7 million in hazard mitigation funds for St. Mary Parish.

Parish President Paul Naquin delivered the good news to the parish council last Wednesday.

Before work begins on any parish projects, however, Naquin said he must meet with federal and state officials to see which projects meet with funding criteria. The parish will be required to pay a 25 percent match for each project.

The mayor and several councilmen helped compile a spending “wish list.”

One project – $2.7 million to rehabilitate housing in St. Mary Parish – has attracted questions from at least one councilman. The Rev. Craig Matthews, who represents Four Corners, has requested more details on how the money will be administered.

The federal money is intended to be used to elevate homes, repair roofs and replace home appliances and windows with energy-friendly products.

“Who is going to establish the criteria for homeowners to make adjustments?” Matthews asked. “Are they all going to come before the council or administration, or is our housing architect Jim Firmin going to (review requests)?”

Parish Chief Administrative Officer Henry “Bo” LaGrange said the money would be available to those whose household income is less than 80 percent of the parish median level. Loans would be available to those who meet certain conditions, he said.

Matthews said those considered for the program should not have received either insurance payments or post-storm money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “If they get any additional monies from us, this would be fraud,” he said.

Applicants will have to show proof of home ownership, LaGrange said. Those in Section 8 or estate homes will also be eligible to apply.

Naquin said $19.4 million of the CDBG monies will be spent in East St. Mary Parish. He said $2 million will be spent on levee elevations in Morgan City; $750,000 to repair Martin Luther King Boulevard; $295,800 to replace and flood-proof sections of the wharf along the Atchafalaya River in Berwick; and $350,000 to upgrade the Patterson water plant.

The parish also received $250,000 to upgrade pump station lifts in Amelia and Morgan City, Naquin said.

In other fiscal matters last week, the council approved a $30,000 application to build a sidewalk along Lake Palourde Road in Amelia, from Aucoin to Waterworks roads. A second application to upgrade the sidewalk at Bayou Vista Central Park was also approved.

Also, a complaint from a Four Corners resident prompted the council to discuss its current mosquito surveillance contract with Mosquito Control Contractors Inc. of New Iberia.

The company is in charge of mosquito spraying from Amelia to Sorrell.

Virgina Sutton said the company is not providing proper service to the Four Corners area where she lives. According to Sutton, a driver said the service is being provided during daylight hours because of “issues” in the community.

“I would like to tell Mosquito Control Contractors and anybody else for that matter that you don’t have to be afraid of anything or anyone in Four Corners,” Sutton said. “I’m tired of being in my yard and getting eaten up.

“No one really sees the mosquito guy. It’s hard to pinpoint his schedule,” she added

Sutton said she and her neighbors pay $2 monthly for mosquito control. “I’d like to see it working,” she said.

Councilman Albert Foulcard questioned why the mosquito contractor is not supplying a monthly report outlining the services it provided the prior month.

“We need to know when, where and how frequently spraying has been going on in the middle of the day or in the night,” he said.

The discussion prompted Councilman Kevin Voisin to ask when Mosquito Control’s contract expires.

“The previous parish council signed this contract. We inherited it,” he said. “When does this expire? Can we start looking at that? Can we perhaps think about looking into bringing this program in-house?”

However, LaGrange said he was unaware of problems with the spraying. “This is the first time I’m hearing of these (problems),” he said. “People need to call me.”

Sutton vowed to create a flier with LaGrange’s phone number, which will be distributed throughout the Four Corners area.

“People didn’t know who to contact,” he said. “Now they will. You’ll be getting calls.”