P     R
r      e
e      l
s      e
s      a

Leadership Tangipahoa

Press Releases

Date Press Release

Shantel Johnson & Tawanda Pierre Letter to the Editor on City Government Session

For Immediate Release:                                                       10/25/16
Contact:                                                                                 Jeremy Peltier

Shantel Johnson & Tawanda Pierre Letter to the Editor on City Government Session

Dear Editor,

The second session of the 2017 Leadership Tangipahoa class held on Tuesday, October 18, 2016 exemplified how the work done in our parish improves lives locally and beyond. 

The day began with City of Hammond Mayor Pete Panepinto who directs and controls a $38 million dollar budget.  He lauded the work and commitment of the city's department heads under the direct leadership of Director of Administration Lacy Landrum.  The city leaders boast an afterschool program that offers healthy snacks and homework and tutorial services for kids in addition to being recognized as the state's Cleanest City for the last 10 years.

City Council President Mike Williams, II, explained that council members serve four-year terms with a 3-term limit.  He highlighted the smoking ban ordinance as one of the biggest laws passed recently.

The new Hammond Police Chief James Stewart, a retired Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent, talked about how his office of 106 employees responds to 32,000 calls per year.  Hammond police officers also helped in Baton Rouge after the July sniper shooting.  We appreciate the service of the law enforcement community.

A literal high point of the second session was our visit to the Hammond Northshore Regional Airport, which included an inside look at operations in the air traffic control tower that opened in January of 2015.  Mayor Panepinto previously mentioned that "the airport is growing by leaps and bounds and is important for economic development."  Aircraft movements totaled 71,000 in 2015 and are expected to reach 90,000 movements in 2016 according to Chief Warrant Officer Mark Head who led us on the tour of the tower.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Director Francisco J. "Chichi" Rodriquez and his staff are responsible for border protection and investigation for the Southeast Region which includes all or parts of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Texas, Tennessee and Arkansas in addition to the Gulf of Mexico.  They are headquartered in Hammond.  Before leaving the federal agency, we toured the training room, communications operation room, one of their airplanes and the A Star 350 Surveillance Helicopter.

City of Ponchatoula Mayor Bob Zabbia and his staff along with Representative Steve Pugh and his legislative assistant greeted and provided lunch for our class. We were impressed to learn that the mayor writes his own grants.  Mayor Zabbia talked about the economic boom that has occurred in the City of Ponchatoula with businesses such as Walmart, Race Trac and Elmer Candy Corporation.

Representative Steve Pugh talked about the importance of a great working relationship between the city and state.  He firmly believes in our senior citizens because they have paved the way.  Representative Pugh was happy to inform our class and we are sure that the public will be happy to know that the bridge on LA Highway 22 will be finished in 15 days.  Due to the flood that occurred two months ago, some of the footing was gone. Therefore the bridge had to be rebuilt.

Speaking of flooding, we visited the City of Hammond's Wetland Assimilation Project that exists to reduce flood risk in the area.  This project disinfects wastewater and disperses it via six zones in a one mile long pipeline into the Joyce Wildlife Management Area located south of Ponchatoula. Water Department employee Vernon Banks explained that the purpose is to quickly grow cypress trees from seedlings planted by Southeastern Louisiana University students.

The day ended with a visit to the City of Ponchatoula's Wastewater Treatment Plant Improvement, a 31-acre facility and pond, which was funded by a $1 million state grant.

The time, talents and insights shared with us by the many speakers and the assistance of their support staff are greatly appreciated.

The entire Leadership Tangipahoa Class of 2017 is excited and looks forward to learning from the rich experiences and information this program offers so that we can become better leaders in the parish of Tangipahoa.

With much gratitude, we are thankful for our program sponsors 21st Judicial District Attorney Scott M. Perrilloux and North Oaks Health System. 

Lastly, we would like to say a special thank you to program facilitator Nick Gagliano and chairperson TaMarlon Carter for working very hard with leaders in our parish to give our class the best educational experience possible.


Shantel Johnson
Marketing Director, North Oaks Health System


Tawanda Pierre
21st Judicial District Attorney's Office