Howie Robinson, son the late Rawhide Robinson, was chosen to take his father’s place as a Franklin Parish Police Jury member.

Police Jury members picked Howie Robinson Oct. 14 at their regular meeting. He will now have to be sworn in at the Clerk of Court’s office to make the appointed position official and will fill the seat until an election can be held.

Rawhide Robinson died after a lengthy illness earlier this month after serving 11 years on the Jury.

In other action, Police Jury members tabled a decision on how to spend American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Earlier this year, the Police Jury received $1.9 million and is expected to receive another allotment next year.

Before tabling spending decisions, Police Jury members heard from Jimbo Donnell with Rural Wireless Networks. Donnell pitched his idea for a portion of ARPA funds to be spent with his company on local broadband expansion.

According to federal regulations, ARPA funds must be used for water and sewer system improvements or broadband expansion.

“We have been doing this for four years, trying to put this through the air,” Donnell said. “It’s working somewhat, but we been having a little problems. We’re experiencing some problems with trees not letting (the signal) get through them. To start serving the parish better, we have to have fiber.”

Donnell has partnered with Joshua and Caleb Etheridge of Etheridge Pipeline & Conduit, LLC of West Monroe, to run fiber lines.

The duo, who attended the Police Jury meeting also, mentioned Louisiana’s Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities (GUMBO) program which would use more than $180 million in federal funds to provide broadband to 400,000 state homes. They said GUMBO would be another funding option for broadband expansion.

“To do this and do it right, the answer is going to be fiber,” Donnell said. “It could evolve into a hybrid system which means some fiber, some through the air.”

In the Oct. 7 public works committee meeting, Marion Collier, North Franklin Waterworks manager, also lobbied for ARPA funds to refurbish its water system.

Collier requested $846,000 for fund a portion of the refurbishment. North Franklin Waterworks plans include a new water treatment plant costing $2.8 million, automated meter reading system at $2.2 million, replace outdated pipe equaling $1.2 million and refurbishing four elevated storage tanks at $1 million.

In a Sept. 9 meeting, Police Jury members reviewed possible first year projects. They were: Turkey Creek dam crossing worth $500,000; a generator for Abe Lincoln sewer system estimated at $827,170; and a wastewater treatment plant for Washington Park sewer system for $572,830.

Possible second year projects were sewer service for unserved citizens at Abe Lincoln subdivision totaling $762,000, a new lift station for Washington Park sewer system amounting to $291,030 and improvements to North Franklin water works estimated at $846,970.

Additionally, Police Jury members passed their capital outlay projects for fiscal year 2022-23.

Capital outlay projects approved were Dr.  Rogers, L.D. Knox, WPA, Dummy Line, Union Church road improvements, Looney Canal improvements, Bayou Macon Cut-Off drainage improvements and Franklin Parish Activity Center construction.

Capital Outlay projects are submitted to the Louisiana Legislature annually. Documents submitted include state and some local projects financed with state and federal funds as well as state general obligation bonds and fees and self-generated revenues.

The Capital Outlay Act includes projects that have been proposed, reviewed and evaluated in accordance with constitutional and statutory provisions and excludes any project deemed not feasible after evaluation.

The Legislature conducts hearings on proposed plans and makes changes as it moves through the legislative process.  After its enactment, the Capital Outlay Section reviews legislative changes and prepares the governor’s veto messages (if any).

Once the governor signs the legislation into law, the Section sends agencies letters notifying them of capital outlay appropriations and of the procedures required to initiate funded projects.

Meanwhile, Jan Hicks and Paul Price Jr were re-appointed to serve six years on Franklin Medical Center commission board and John Guice was re-appointed to serve five years on Franklin Parish Library’s board of directors.

Police Jury members also agreed to allow Howie Robinson to fill committee spots vacated by Rawhide Robinson.

Also during the meeting, Police Jury members agreed to increase spending by $800 on Abe Lincoln / Horace White sewer system; agreed to repair Mercer Street Bridge at a cost of $11,655.64 only if Wisner will pay 50 percent of total cost; denied a possible ordinance deterring abandonment of animals due to inability to enforce ordinance; and denied donation of land in exchange for road construction. Governmental bodies cannot accept exchange because it is not equitable.

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