Parish Council talks CARA's House funding, Bluff Rd. closure

Halen Doughty

At the May 17 meeting of the Ascension Parish Council, members got the ball rolling on a proposal to levy a tax to provide dedicated funds for Companion Animal Rescue of Ascension and animal control. Several residents spoke out in support of the proposal, citing financial woes at the shelter.

Alysha Terry of Prairieville said Ascension prides itself on being one of the best parishes in the state to live and work, but big problem facing the parish is a lack of funding for the shelter. She asked the council to give citizens a chance to vote on in.

"As a population of decent humans, we need to do better for our animals,” said Terry.

Virginia Smith with CARA's House said the proposed property tax would generate $1.2 million in annual revenue for CARA's House. This would enable them to build a new shelter that is up to code. The current facility received poor ratings in an annual report from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.

"We do the best we can to keep things together and to keep things running," said Smith. "In the report, we passed with flying colors in every aspect except the physical building."

Councilman Daniel Satterlee voiced his concerns for the current state of the shelter, which is decades old. He said the walls and floors of animal holding facilities must be completely smooth so they can be cleaned to prevent the spread of viruses.

If approved, the tax would cover the cost of both CARA's House and animal control. That means the parish would no long have to fund both services out of the general fund, freeing up more revenue for other services.

The initial proposal was approved on a 9 to 1 vote with Councilman Todd Lambert as the only nay vote. But this is just the beginning. The process could get underway at the June 14 meeting with the actual resolution being taken up at the August 2 meeting in order to get a proposal on the ballot for the December 8 election.

It was a busy night for the council, as members were also updated on the closing of the Bluff Rd. bridge for the summer. Col. Bobby Webre with the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office said deputies have put signs up around the area warning motorists that Bluff Rd. bridge over I-10 will be closed beginning on May 25. The bridge will remain closed for a period of about 70 days, as crews work to elevate the low bridge to the current federal standard and repair damage from where it was hit by trucks in the past.

Webre said the advantage to the timeframe of the project is that school will be out and hopefully reduce traffic in the area. He added that both APSO and the Department of Transportation and Development have worked to inform drivers of the closure ahead of time. He said APSO will be monitoring the area closely during the first few weeks of the closure to ensure safety in the construction zone.

At the Thursday night meeting, Parish President Kenny Matassa proclaimed this week as “Women’s Health Week” in Ascension Parish. According to the proclamation, National Women’s Health Week was started to raise awareness of women’s health issues. Matassa said it promotes women taking responsibility for their health, as well as helping women take steps to improve their health. He added that it is St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and the Women’s Advisory Council’s mission to improve women’s health through prevention and education.

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