Photos by KAREN LAGRANGE COX
The palm trees and the rats that once apparently enjoyed living in them have evidently disappeared from the St. Landry Parish Courthouse.
Parish president Jessie Bellard said the decision to remove the palm trees from the Landry Street side of the courthouse was necessary In order to prevent the continued infiltration of rodents into the bottom floors of the 82-year-old building.
“The main reason we had to dig (the palm trees) up was that it had become a nesting site for rats. There were parts of the courthouse where the rats were living. There were some big ones running around, especially in the basement. This is not the first time we have had the rat problems inside the courthouse,” Bellard said.
According to the website ratrelief.com, rats often find a home in the crowns of palm trees located in coastal area states and Florida.
The website suggests that the palm trees could be trimmed to prevent nesting or removed.
What the website says to avoid doing for rat elimination is putting rat poison around the trees, since the rats will often seek places to die, which Bellard said he didn’t want to happen inside the courthouse.
“Sometime in the 1990’s we had (a rat) die in the attic of Judge (Donald) Hebert’s courtroom. That wasn’t very pleasant,” said Bellard.
Bellard added that he is aware that some people communicating through social media have upset about seeing the displacement of the palm trees, but he said there is an alternative beautification project planned once a $321,000 water sealing is completed for the courthouse structure.
“To be honest the palm trees were not in really good shape. After we complete the water sealing project, we are going to plant something in the place of the palms that will be a lot prettier,” Bellard added.
The beautification plan at this point is to plant crepe myrtle trees where the palm trees once stood, Bellard added.
Water sealing, which includes an extensive project to seal the seams that normally form in the courthouse stone will begin Monday, Bellard said.
“What we want to do is reseal all the windows and re-caulk all the areas where cracks have formed in the courthouse building material,” Bellard said.