April H. Alford's Letter to the Editor on the Parish Government Session
I am very proud to have been selected to be a part of the 2015-2016 Leadership Tangipahoa class. Our class is without a doubt an exciting group of leaders who all bring a different strength to the class. For our first Tuesday together, we visited the Tangipahoa Parish Government, which to my surprise included much more than just governmental departments. We learned so much that day and I hope to share some of what I learned in this letter.
Our day started at the Courthouse Annex building where we heard from many of our passionate leaders of the parish, including our leader: Parish President, Gordon Burgess. This team of leaders is making great strides in improving our community. One of the ways that really stuck with me was their program to combat the litter problem in Tangipahoa parish. I appreciate how they are pooling resources and thinking out of the box to help with the clean-up. There are two partnerships that the parish works with: the Sheriff's Office and the courts. The first is the parish's Inmate Litter Abatement Program which works Monday through Friday, each week to collect litter from the roads. The second partnership is the DWI Community Service Workers Litter Pick Up Program; when a person gets a DWI, they are sentenced by the courts with 16 hours of community service picking up litter. The parish has already collected nearly 3,200 bags of garbage from our streets with this program!
We heard from several other departments, including: Permit office, Public Health department, Registrar of Voters, Clerk of Court, and Parish Assessor's Office. It was amazing to hear how all of the departments play an integral part in our parish. Throughout our day, the class commented about how passionate all of these people are about their jobs, which made our experience with them that much more enjoyable.
Our next stop was the Landfill, our visit was led by Terrence Stewart, who is a graduate of Leadership Tangipahoa and manages the Landfill. The reputation of the Landfill is unparalleled and, due to their latest improvements, took first prize at an international convention. It was remarkable to see how they take the 500 tons of garbage they receive each day and make it look as if it is just part of the land. In some areas, the grass is so green that it actually looks like a golf course!
We were then taken to the Florida Parishes Arena, run by Kelly Wells, where we got a tour and were served lunch, which was sponsored by our Parish President. Our incredible lunch was made by Tony Jean Catalano, and my personal favorite dish: the White Chocolate bread pudding was amazing! While we enjoyed lunch with our Parish leaders, we had the pleasure of hearing from Kevin Davis, the Director of the LA Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. He educated us on the strides that have been made since Katrina, when the state saw a need for the development of this division.
After lunch, we headed back to Hammond to my favorite part, the Tangipahoa Mosquito Abatement Office and the Animal Shelter. I enjoyed seeing how the parish treats for mosquitos and conducts testing for West Nile. It was interesting to see how they also protect areas where bees live, because they are such an important part of our ecosystem.
I absolutely loved visiting the Animal Shelter; this is where my husband and I have adopted our dogs. I think it is so important for the parish to have an Animal Shelter and ours is in very loving and caring hands. The completed "Cat House" for all of the adoptable cats was very impressive and much homier than other shelters. The shelter takes in an average of 574 animals a month. When you adopt an animal from the shelter, the cost covers spay/neuter shots, Rabbies vaccination and deworming. When you are looking for a new cat or dog to bring into your home, please visit our shelter, there are so many animals there who just need some love. Visit tangianimalcontrol.org for more information and adoptable pets!
We wrapped up our day by heading back to the Tangi Tourism office where we had the pleasure of hearing from two of the Parish Presidential candidates: Carlos Notariano and Robby Miller. Don't forget to geaux vote; early voting starts October 10th and Election day is October 24th! I know who I'm voting for, do you?
I would like to thank our Parish President, Gordon Burgess for providing our transportation and meals for the day. Also to Mr. Burgess and all of the passionate employees of the parish for spending some of your time and sharing the things you do that are vital to our community.
I would also like to extend a special thank you on behalf of our Leadership Tangipahoa Class to Nick Gagliano, Rhonda Smith Sheridan and Carla Tate for facilitating and taking care of our class this year.
April H. Alford