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Bobby Ardoin, Edito/Consulting Writer

St. Landry Parish government plans to emphasize parishwide drainage, road maintenance and staff training as Jessie Bellard begins another four years as parish president.

Bellard also announced during a Monday parishwide inauguration event that he plans to assist parish residents with introductory home ownership and create a program that trains adolescents with basic domestic skills he says are necessary for transitioning into society.

The Delta Grand swearing-in ceremony conducted by Louisiana Supreme Court Justice James Genovese included 13 Parish Council members who will start serving four-year terms.

Jody White, Faltery Jolivette, Ernest Blanchard and Ken Marks are new Council members who were elected in 2023.

St. Landry School Superintendent Milton Batiste III was guest speaker for the event.

Chasing Federal and State Dollars

Batiste pointed out that parish government and School District services often coincide, such as providing information to council members about bus transportation.

Parish officials and the school system Batiste said, also face similar parishwide problems such as illiteracy, poverty and crime.

“The more we can develop an inclusive spirit, the better off we will all be,” Batiste said.

Parish President’s Plans

Bellard told the audience that he plans to seek a combined $25 million from federal and state officials in order to construct and maintain parish roads.

“Roads are always a priority and right now we are awaiting twenty million in federal spending and another five million from the state,” said Bellard.

Bellard said he again plans to bring a parish congregation that includes White and council members Jimmie Edwards and Tim LeJeune to Washington, D.C. to meet with federal officials about obtaining funding for St. Landry.

Bellard said federal officials are more likely to dispense revenues if they can have face-to-face meetings with local office holders.

Discussing Drainage

Council member Harold Taylor will be placed in charge of discussing parishwide drainage with federal and state officials, said Bellard.

St. Landry, Bellard noted, is interested in becoming part of the Louisiana Watershed Mitigation Project.

Taylor has sufficient knowledge of state drainage problems and how those issues affect St. Landry, Bellard said.

USDA Home Ownership Initiative

Bellard hopes to continue obtaining funding for a federally-directed home ownership program that helps individuals currently living in housing projects.

The initiative, Bellard pointed out, seeks to remove families from crime areas and provide them with home ownership opportunities.

“Some people are paying five or six hundred a month to live in the projects. With those amounts they can make a monthly note toward owning a home or building a home. It’s also important for the kids in those families to see their parents owning something,” Bellard said.

Learning Basic Skills

Bellard said he will use WorkForce Development programs in order to teach youths how to perform basic chores.

“A lot of these kids are not being taught how to do these things, such as washing the dishes, mowing a yard or maybe ironing and washing clothes,” Bellard added.

“What we want to do is partner with WorkForce Development and introduce children on how to properly perform some of these tasks,” Bellard pointed out.   

View full photo gallery by Freddie Herpin on St. Landry Now.