Road and drainage complaints were again brought before Police Jury members in their regular meeting July 15.
Since April, Police Jury meetings have been dominated by residents with questions and concerns about local road quality. Many parish roads were damaged by a harsh February freeze, worsening roadway deterioration.
Carl Boley, of Ellis Lane, was one of a group of residents who peppered Jury members with questions.
“The road is bad and needs work done,” Boley said. “That road has been falling apart since 2017. My concern is that it needs to be fixed and fixed right away.”
Discussion turned to road crews not sealing roads after 6/10 rock was laid creating dust clouds when people drove over it.
“There are areas all over the parish,” said James Harris, Police Jury president. “Three and a half years they laid roads and still they are not sealed. It’s been a constant complaint.”
Police Jury members requested a list of roads that needed to be sealed to cutdown on the dust.
“I want to know where they are located,” said Harris. “In my district, there are three or four roads that (are not sealed).
Riley Williams Jr. complained to Police Jury members that his ditch was no longer draining water from his Claybon Road property.
“It hasn’t been anything done (to the ditches), and I’m 62 years old,” Williams said.
Wendell Thornton, parish superintendent, said his crews had two more ditches to clean and would be at his property.
Thornton said rainy weather had slowed the efforts of road crews, but when weather cooperated they were working six days a week to meet the needs of parish constituents.
In a related matter, Police Jury members agreed Courthouse and public works personnel should key jobs into IWorks database.
Police Jury employees use IWorks, a computer application, to key in work when calls come into their office. The calls are organized by type and when calls are taken.
Initially, Courthouse personnel keyed calls in, but Police Jury members voted in December 2020 to allow the public works department sole responsibility of IWorks. Police Jury member Rawhide Robinson requested the move back to the Courthouse.
“We have four ladies to answer the phone calls,” Robinson said. “We got one (person at the parish road barn) doing it. We did it for years and got no complaints. Now, we got complaints from people that say they don’t get answered. We need to go back to what we had to start with. We need to leave it here, so we can have records. We got records here and (at the road barn).”
Discussions about consolidating IWorks duties became heated when Sam Wiggins, Police Jury secretary / treasurer, confronted Thornton about rumors relating to calls.
“There was talk a couple of weeks ago all over the parish and in restaurants,” Wiggins said.
According to Wiggins, a resident called the parish barn and reported an issue. He had issue with an employee answering the call and reported it to Wiggins. Wiggins e-mailed the barn to put it in IWorks, and the job was not keyed in.
“Two months later he comes to (the Courthouse) and looks at me,” Wiggins said. “Well, I sent another e-mail out wondering when they could get to the job. The discussion was Sam is not suppose to have anything to do with that. She is not suppose to take complaints. She is not following policies and procedures. For 12 years, it has been go to Sam she will take care of it. She’ll follow up on it, and the last year it has been Sam is not allowed it take complaints.”
Thornton said he talked to the resident, and the matter had been resolved.
“I’m not talking about that part,” Wiggins said. “I’m talking about the part in the restaurant about me taking complaints”
Thornton answered, “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“Ok,” Wiggins said.
Meanwhile, Franklin Parish received approximately $1.9 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money. The Police Jury will manage the money and choose what projects to fund. Money must be designated to water, sewer or broadband projects.
One such project could possibly be Turkey Creek water line project.
Marcus Guillery, of Pan American Engineers, spoke to Police Jury members about adding an additional eight-inch water line that would feed Turkey Creek Water customers. The additional line would run parallel to the current 10-inch water main traveling across Turkey Creek Dam.
The 10-inch water main is experiencing leaks causing dam erosion problems and interruption of service.
“The crossing is critical to both water systems,” Guillery said. “We currently have a 10-inch water main running parallel to the dam and goes across and serves the other side. This equals 800 customers or 2,500 or 3,000 residents.”
Turkey Creek Water system has approximately 500 water meters, and South Bayou Macon Water system also has approximately 500 water meters. Turkey Creek sells water to South Bayou Macon.
Department of Transportation and Development officials have agreed to repair the dam and replace a portion of the line.
“We don’t know the extent of how much of the line they will replace,” Guillery said. “Turkey Creek wants to install a secondary eight-inch water line next to it, and call it an emergency water line.”
Initial job estimates are $500,000, according to Guillery.
Additionally, Police Jury members agreed to submit all non-responsive nuisance property letters to the assistant district attorney to begin the process of enforcing violation penalties.
Any individual violating a nuisance ordinance could possibly be fined $200 and receive thirty days in jail.