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Editor/Consulting Writer

Improving roads and providing better drainage parishwide will continue as the combined priorities for his administration, parish president Jessie Bellard said Tuesday night during his third annual governmental review.

Bellard told a large Delta Grand crowd in Opelousas that the parish will continue seeking state and federal funding in order to rectify problems for the large number of parish roads and areas of St. Landry where two inches of rain normally signal extensive flooding.

The Tuesday night event also featured an overview for other areas of parish government that include sponsored parishwide community events, parish courthouse renovations, handling an eight-parish workforce development program, continued airport funding, rental facilities and funding for the parish jail.

While the jail has been plagued with overcrowding and inmate expenses, Bellard said a trustee dorm scheduled for completion in March, should help reduce the costs of housing prisoners.

Bellard also noted that he is interested in providing better public defender assistance in state district court by working with state officials. Bellard also highlighted a Second Chance program aimed at providing selected defendants an opportunity to avoid jail time.

Parish economic and development district executive director Bill Rodier statistics which he said show  four consecutive years of parish financial growth that has continued during the first two months of 2024.  

Roads And Drainage

Bellard pointed out that parish drainage is affected by water that flows southward from other parishes into St. Landry.

Drainage is a naggin problem, Bellard said, that occurs in nearly every part of the parish.

“Water is going into the laterals and then it is moving into the ditches. During the past four years we have begun digging ditches and addressing our laterals,” Bellard said.

In 2022 St. Landry received $1 million in state funding to help with a project involving Bayous Mallet and Carron, but Bellard said progress has been slow due as engineering and consultant studies are ongoing.

Public Works Director Barry Soileau has developed an efficient program that helps crews address parish road issues that draw the concern of parish council members, said Bellard.

Soileau, Bellard added, has developed a successful way of working with the administration, council members and the public in handling road issues.

Economic Growth

Rodier said parish residents should change their perspectives about St. Landry economic development.

Sales tax revenues show that economic growth in St. Landry has continued trending upward during the past four years, Rodier said.

During the first two months of 2024, Rodier said indicators are showing a 14 percent increase in sales tax revenue over the same period last year.

Rodier added that while there is a need for the parish to display more progress with the educational system, there is a charter school system that is developing that may provide improvement.

“We are in a growing phase right now. All the pieces are in place. It’s a good time to be in St. Landry,” Rodier added.