Wayne Ricks Letter to the Editor on Tangipahoa City Government & Environmental Agencies Session
The latest session for our Leadership Tangipahoa class was very educational as the class toured the southern parish’s city government offices and discussed some of the environmental issues facing the southern end of Tangipahoa parish.
On October 15, 2009, we were greeted by Debi Fleming of the Tangipahoa Parish Council on Aging. She explained the growing need for elderly transportation and how the people of Tangipahoa have benefited from their no cost sometimes low cost services.
Our first stop was to see the Hammond Wetlands Discharge site off highway 51. Mayor Mason Foster greeted us and explained that as the city has grown so have the wastewater issues. The water treatment facility on Fagan Drive filters the city’s wastewater and pumps it seven miles south to the Hammond Wetlands Discharge site. It was truly amazing to see how much water is being pumped into the wetlands. Mayor Foster further explained that by filtering clean fresh water to this area it will eventually build up the area in plant life and help avoid erosion.
Our next destination was to see the inner working of the Ponchatoula City Hall. We toured several offices and were shown how day to day business flows through the office. I was very impressed with the planning offices ability to map the different zoning areas for the city.
Chief of Police Bry Layrisson greeted us at the Ponchatoula Police Station and discussed area crime and the differences between Hammond and Ponchatoula’s police structures. According to Chief Layrisson, Hammond police are civil service based and Ponchatoula police are at will employees. Additionally the Chief in Hammond is appointed by the Mayor and the Ponchatoula Chief is elected by the people. We then met Fire Chief Leslie Fletcher who took us through one of two Ponchatoula city run Fire Stations. We were also shown an impressive map detailing the location of all fire hydrants in Ponchatoula.
Our delicious lunch was provided by the folks at the Ponchatoula city hall. After lunch Mayor Zabbia introduced the class to Representative Steven Pugh. Rep. Pugh explained some of the changes the parish is seeing and discussed the re-districting that may occur after the next census. According to Rep. Pugh, Tangipahoa may have an opportunity to get its own representative.
From Ponchatoula we then went to the Hammond Airport and met with several individuals from the customs office. They showed us a video detailing the different types of aircraft and watercrafts they use on a day to day basis. Their response time is what stunned me. They can deploy and have a crew in the air in less than 9 minutes. They have also assisted local law enforcement in tracking criminals in the area. We then went into the air hangar and looked inside several aircraft.
Later in the afternoon we were greeted at the Independence City Hall by Mayor Mike Ragusa. Mayor Ragusa explained the town’s new Bingo Hall and ways the town will be able to make use of the funds from Bingo sales.
The purpose of today’s Leadership Tangipahoa session was to familiarize our class with some of the city government activities. I am proud to be part of this Leadership Tangipahoa class of 2009-2010. I would like to thank the Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Southeastern Louisiana University for sponsoring me and thank all those involved in the day’s events for their time and support of the Leadership Tangipahoa Program.