Local News

Newspaper Staff Selects Best 2023 St. Landry Parish Stories

BOBBY ARDOIN

Editor/Consulting Writer

St. Landry Parish normally contains a treasured accumulation of annual stories that significantly attracts the interest of our readers and 2023 certainly met the standards set in previous years.

As St. Landry Now.com begins a third-year of publishing parishwide news stories, the following 10 events that occurred locally are events that our staff feels were most frequently read and discussed by our readers.

Hopefully as you read our annual best story list, you will consider the order of our ranking and continue to view the website as a way of tracking your daily news.

Here we present what we have decided were the top 10 ten stories for 2023 in what we have concluded is their order of importance.:

  1. Opelousas High wins a first-ever football championship. The event which concluded in the Caesar’s Superdome earlier in December, attracted statewide media attention. The 26-13 win over Cecilia in the Division II non-select championship game, also captivated the collective enthusiasm of Opelousas residents who rejoiced in a story that for at least for several weeks, truly united the city.
2. St. Landry Parish selects a new public school superintendent. Milton Batiste III was chosen nearly unanimously as superintendent following a lengthy selection process which began in April. Batiste is now faced with creating a plan for raising student test scores in the Opelousas area as well as attracting more students to public schools and retaining the employees who work in the District..

3. Opelousas police chief Graig LeBlanc and wife Crystal LeBlanc of the St. Landry Parish Sheriff Department are shot by an unidentified third person at an Opelousas area residence during what authorities initially claimed was a Dec. 22 domestic incident. Injuries to the couple were not considered life threatening. The incident is still being investigated.

4. Voters reject a hotly-contested November ballot item which if approved would have nearly quadrupled all Opelousas municipal property taxes. Municipal officials maintained that if passed, proceeds from the property tax would have substantially increased the salaries of city workers.

5. Opelousas city residents continue to complain about city water leaks. Despite efforts by the city to contain the number of water leaks and install new water meters, residents of Opelousas have continued both in conversation and public meetings, to protest the number of below ground leaks that continue to occur.

6. Opelousas Downtown Development Board votes to bond $4.79 million from sales tax proceeds for renovating Donald Gardner Stadium. The decision by the appointed ODD, was approved without benefit of a completed feasibility study, but moved the needle forward on a project which includes an eight-lane track and a turfed football field that when completed will be maintained by the City of Opelousas.

7. Voters agree to renew St. Landry Parish public school salary and maintenance tax. Parish residents responded to pleas from school officials to continue paying the property tax for another 10 years. If the tax had failed, officials said, the District would face drastic cutbacks in student services, facility integrity and personnel layoffs.

8. Opelousas city officials pass an ordinance which eventually requires downtown business owners to begin maintaining vacant and occupied properties in addition to allowing routine city inspections of downtown buildings.

9. St. Landry Parish council members continue to discuss the ongoing issue of a 102-year-old monument on parish courthouse property. The debate on what should be done with the monument, which contains the names of several prominent parish residents who fought for the Confederacy, will continue to be frequently discussed in 2024.

10. Louisiana’s remaining Pearl Harbor survivor Joseph Richard of Sunset, celebrates 100th birthday during an event celebrated by numerous statewide and regional elected officials in August. However Richard dies several months after the conclusion of the ceremony.