Posts filed under ‘city council’

Fix it first, then they will come

Residents say address present needs before selling north LC
BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

North Lake Charles resident Doris Minard had a straightforward message for the redevelopment authority Monday: “Before you invite company to your house, you want to clean up first,” she said.

“The talk about bringing businesses to the area is a good thing, but we have a lot of areas that need to be cleaned up.”

Minard and other residents talked about drainage problems, open ditches and areas near schools that lack sidewalks. She said she has to call almost every month about overgrown vacant lots near her home on Mayo Street.

Theresa Baird agreed and expressed her hope that development extends beyond the areas along Interstate 10. Her biggest concern on cleanup was the number of homes that need to be repaired or demolished.

Authority member Rick Richard agreed with the residents, saying most things don’t get done unless a lot of residents complain.

“It’s a goofy system to me that it’s on the citizen’s back to make the call,” Richard said. “My theory is there should be someone riding around looking for these things.”

Richard said the property issues in north Lake Charles stem mainly from people who own property but don’t live in the area.

“People who own property and live in Lake Charles take care of their property,” he said.
The redevelopment auth–ority members said they would take the residents’ concerns to City Council members.

In their third meeting, board members also continued housekeeping duties, such as setting up a standardized system to add residents’ concerns to the agenda and making meeting minutes available.

Chairman Willie King said the board will meet with a consulting group July 1, along with George Swift with The Chamber/Southwest Louisiana.

The group will show development plans from other cities it has worked with.

Richard said he plans to bring a study done by the Army Corps of Engineers that outlines light manufacturing, along with residential and commercial development, in north Lake Charles.

link: http://bit.ly/aW1Saq

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June 29, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Top candidates being interviewed for Lake Charles fire chief job

BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

Lake Charles officials will spend most of the week interviewing 14 candidates for chief of the Lake Charles Fire Department.

The selection committee consists of City Councilmen Dana Jackson and Rodney Geyen; Calcasieu Parish Chief Deputy Gary “Stitch” Guillory; and Sam Wilkerson, vice president of human resources for First Federal Bank.

Jackson said the members were chosen based on their roles on the council or for their professional supervisory experience.

Interviews began Monday, with each applicant spending about two hours with the committee.

“We’re going to get that down to two to four candidates, and they will go through a second round of interviews with the mayor, who makes the final decision,” Jackson said.

The committee is looking for someone whose leadership abilities stand out and who can work well with both the firefighters and the city administration, Jackson said.

All candidates had to pass a civil service exam before they were allowed to apply. Half of the men are from the Lake Charles Fire Department, and others come from departments in Lafayette, Carencro, Basile and Ruston, Jackson said.

“There are a number of good applicants so far,” he said. “One thing I can say about all of them is they’re very passionate about being a fireman.”

Jackson said most of the men have at least 20 years’ experience and that the committee has a list of questions to ask each applicant.

“One of the big factors is overtime and how they would correct that,” he said. “It’s been a problem in the past.”

Jackson said that last fiscal year, the department was given $2.4 million for overtime, while Lafayette’s fire department — which is much bigger — only needed $500,000.

“We want a guy who can come in with a budget and stick to it, and we want him to be able to handle things internally,” Jackson said.

Of the 14 applicants, seven work for the Lake Charles Fire Department; two work for Lafayette’s; one isn’t a firefighter; and one each is from Carencro, Sulphur, Basile and Ruston, said Wendy Goodwin, city human resources director.

Goodwin said state law says the city has to select a new chief within 60 days after the civil service tests are certified by a local civil service board.

Chief David Manuel retired in April after 37 years with the Lake Charles Fire Department. He had been chief since 2003.

link: http://bit.ly/axKXyz

June 25, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Council considers putting permitting services online

BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

WESTLAKE — The City Council on Monday discussed putting all permit services online.
As part of an agreement with the state, the city’s permit process would be provided through the “My Permit Now” system, said Terri Hawes, city permit clerk.

“The charge would be for each permit issued,” and the setup fee would be based on the average number of permits the city issues each year, Hawes said.

She said all past permits could be scanned into the system, which would be accessible to customers and contractors.

“You can find planning reviews, inspections and certificate of occupancy — anything that’s been done on your property,” Hawes said.

She said about a dozen parishes and cities in Louisiana use the system and that their clerks gave her good reviews at a recent meeting in Shreveport.

Also, city Finance Director Lonnie Smart gave an update on the city’s 2010-2011 budget.
“In this year’s budget we have fewer things to tackle,” Smart said, referring to the completed golf course.

Smart said the focus will be on infrastructure, with one of the biggest projects being the new water treatment plant on Jones Street.

“A large part of the money is a loan through the state Department of Health and Hospitals’ Office of Public Health,” Smart said.

The OPH gave the city a $2 million loan, and $870,000 came from the federal stimulus bill, according to a news release provided to the American Press.

Smart said the new plant replaced an outdated system and will have a 300,000-gallon water storage tank and emergency generator.

link: http://bit.ly/d9kigY

June 22, 2010 at 7:13 pm

IN WESTLAKE: Local golfers teed off at proposed fees for development course

*published Jul 28, 2009
BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

WESTLAKE — Golf rates for the city’s National Golf Course of Louisiana was a contentious topic Monday at a City Council special meeting.

The council, minus John Cradure, split on whether to accept the rates. Wally Anderson and Bob Hardey voted against them, and Lori Peterson and Dan Racca voted for them.

The rates, explained by Aaron Czajka (pronounced tshay-ka), regional manager for Billy Casper Golf, were derived from research from the company’s 180 other courses and from research of area golf courses.

The rates for residents of Westlake would be $30 on weekdays and $40 on weekends, with senior and junior rates of $18 and $28.

Rates would also vary depending on the time of day. Golf cart rentals — of $14 per rider — would be optional except on weekdays and holidays.

Czajka said he visited other nearby courses — Graywood, Coushatta, L’Auberge — and felt the city had a “market leader in experience for the avid golfer.”

“What we have here isn’t a $20 course,” Czajka said.

“It’s not a $30 course,” said Peterson, citing services and the value of the homes being built around the course.

Phillip Abshire, the accountant who consults with the city, backed Czajka’s proposal.

“They have done their homework. They know what type of course is out there and the projected rounds that will be played,” Abshire said.

Czajka said the council can review and adjust rates at any time. He suggested a quarterly review.

About a dozen people — half from the city and half from Lake Charles and elsewhere — attended the meeting.

Gary Anderson, who lives in Ward 4 in the outlying areas of Westlake said he didn’t agree with the council’s decision.

“Money still drives people,” he said. “If the prices are out of reach, you won’t have enough people to support the course.”

Ron Hughes of Westlake said he has memberships at Mallard Cove and Frasch golf courses and doesn’t plan to switch, even though he would be eight blocks away, mainly because of the price.

article link: http://bit.ly/2lp8Xq

July 28, 2009 at 5:46 pm Leave a comment

IN WESTLAKE: Burn ban on hold for subdivision

*published June 2, 2009
BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

WESTLAKE — The City Council on Monday suspended the city’s no-burn ordinance to allow residents in Augusta Village to clear off any remaining trees, stumps or undergrowth.

Councilman Bob Hardey and other members voted to suspend the ordinance on the condition that property owners have a burn plan approved by the city’s fire department and have liability insurance.

Residents will not be allowed to burn debris on their property once Whisper–ing Pines golf course opens or people begin to build homes.

Fire Chief Jacques Picou said he has guidelines that people should follow to receive approval.

Liability insurance for the lot can be added to a current homeowner’s policy, said councilwoman Lori Peterson.

“If they (the owner) hire a contractor to clear the lot, they need to make sure to have a copy of his insurance,” said city attorney John Van Norman.

Budget issues created confusion among some members of the council, which also approved plans for landscaping, golf course bathroom design style and aerators for fountains.

When questions arose about the possibility of budget overruns, Councilman Wally Anderson said a lack of timely updates created the confusion and that the money should be available.

Mayor Dan Cupit backed him, saying he was sure the money was there, but did not have specifics.

article link: http://bit.ly/tPuro

June 2, 2009 at 4:03 pm Leave a comment