Valerie B. Watts' Letter to the Editor on City Government Session
Leadership Tangipahoa offers such an abundance of information on how a community operates, focusing on the Parish of Tangipahoa. I am proud to say that I am a member of the 2010-2011 class. We meet once a month to discuss different topics relevant to our parish. The topic for our October class was City Government and Environment.
The day began at the Michael J. Kenney Center in Hammond where Recreation Director, Joey Keener spoke about the many facilities and activities that are available within the city of Hammond. Mr. Keener also proudly introduced us to his staff. City Councilman, Jason Hood talked to our group about some future plans the city has for the recreation department.
From there we traveled to the City of Ponchatoula. Public Works Director, David Opdenhoff showed us the site where the city’s new water well is located. Fire Chief, Leslie Fletcher lead us on a tour of Fire Station #2 on First Street . At City Hall, Executive Assistant, Rhonda Sheridan showed us around and introduced us to the staff that was present and went over their responsibilities. The City of Ponchatoula also provided our class with a wonderful lunch. Mayor Bob Zabbia and Representative Steve Puch joined us. Mr. Zabbia gave us some insight on City Government and Mr. Pugh talked about upcoming events that will affect our community. After lunch we visited the Ponchatoula Housing Authority. There Manager Trudy Miller and Housing Director, Tonya Mabry spoke on how the different housing authorities operate and answered some questions our group had about their procedures.
Then we headed back north to Hammond City Hall. City Council Clerk, Annette Kirylo gave us a tour and the history of the building where the City Council Chamber is located. We were then escorted to the court room where Mayor Mason Foster introduced us to several of the city officials. City Court Judge Grace Bennett Gasaway, Fire Chief Paul Collura, Director of Finance Larry Frances and Police Chief Roddy Devall. Each spoke briefly on the responsibilities of their departments. Mayor Foster showed us the blue prints of the changes that will take place on Veterans Boulevard from Hammond Square Mall to Club Deluxe Road that will alleviate the traffic problems in that area. Our visit there ended with Chief Devall giving us a tour of his pink jail.
Heading further north to Independence, we had the pleasure of visiting Independence’s Waste Water Treatment Plant. Public Works Director, John Hinson explained each step the waste water goes through, how it is filtered and where the clean water is drained and where the solid buy products are disposed.
Our day concluded back at the Hammond Recreation Center for debriefing with our class facilitator, John Dardis.
On behalf of Leadership Tangipahoa Class 2010-2011, I extend our gratitude to all of those who took the time out of their day to make this session a memorable experience. I would also like to thank my employer, T.H. Burt & Sons, Inc. for allowing me the time off to participate in this course.
Although we have only had 3 classes, what adventures we have had. I am looking forward to see what our next adventure will be.
Valerie B. Watts