Junk, abandoned vehicles regulated

Wade McIntyre

DONALDSONVILLE – The Parish Council changed its Code of Ordinances to include regulation of junk and abandoned vehicles and white goods located on private property.

At the regular meeting Thursday, members unanimously granted the parish enforcement to designate such items as public nuisances and remove them from public property when necessary.

The ordinance is to be enforced by the Parish Code Enforcement Office and the Sheriff’s Office.

Councilman Todd Lambert said that before adopting the ordinance, the council wanted to make sure everything “was in place because this is going to be huge.”

When Parish President Tommy Martinez said he did not see in the ordinance where the parish was to store moved items, Councilman Kent Schexnaydre said the matter had been discussed in the Strategic Planning Committee. Moving and storage is to be handled through the administration department and handled as it would handle any other duty, he said.

Councilman Randy Clouatre said he believes the intent of the law is not to include everything that has not been moved. He cited the pipe in a farmer’s shed that may not have been moved for a long time as an example.

Councilman Chris Loar said the ordinance was one of the little things the council is doing, like making the noise ordinance more enforceable, that is making a difference in the parish.

Schexnaydre said the parish is trying to “stand up for the people that maintain their yards.” If people use common sense, cut their grass and clean things up, nine times out of 10, things will take care of themselves,” he said.

The ordinance provides for exceptions, including white goods not visible from the street or other private or public property, and antique vehicles retained for collection purposes.  It also allows the enforcing agencies public access to private or public property for investigation of alleged vehicles or goods not in compliance with the ordinance.

Failure to comply with the ordinance change is a misdemeanor, with violators subject to fines of up to $500 or six months in prison, or both.

The enforcement of the ordinance will begin in about two weeks, after a publication notice in the Gonzales Weekly Citizen, the official parish journal.

In unrelated business, Ascension School Board Superintendent Donald Songy said the absentee rate at schools has been “a little bit higher this year,” about six or seven percent due to the swine flu cases. Normally the absentee rate is about three or four percent.

“We have had about 100 cases of flu symptom-like cases,” he said.

About 40 of those cases have returned back to school, the superintendent said.

The rate of cases is nowhere near high enough to consider closing schools, he said.

Songy also addressed the Oct. 17 proposition placed by the school board on the ballot. The board is calling for a $100 million initiative to be funded by extending the current 15.08 millage rate through the year 2029.

The thrust of the initiative is not so much about new schools as it is bridging the discrepancy gap between old and new schools.

“There’s not a whole lot of good you can say about a 60-year-old restroom,” Songy said.

The board wants to also reduce its temporary classrooms, some of which are 30 or 40 years old, he said.

The proposition would also fund electrical upgrades in older facilities to make them ready for new technology.

A new school would also be built to replace G.W. Carver School, and Prairieville Middle will be extensively renovated, Songy said.