Mandy Lee and Ashley Peyroux LeSaicherre's Letter to the Editor on the City Government Session
From left to right: Maj. Jacques Comeaux, D'Ann Davis- Junior Auxiliary of Hammond, Edward Hebert-Southeastern Louisiana University, Dennis Braziel Tangipahoa Parish Sherriff's Office, Jeffery Jarreau-North Oaks Health System, Kellie Wheat-Ponchatoula Chamber of Commerce, Mark Verbois-Theta Xi Alumni Association, Erica Kelt-Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, Myra Sharpe-Solom Episcopal Conference Center & Amite Chamber of Commerce, Kyle Johnson-Pelican State Credit Union, Kristen Pecararo-Clerk of Council, Kristen Hebert-Enmon Enterprises, LLC & Jani King, Jason Wilson-First Guaranty Bank, Tammy Murphy Ponchatoula Chamber of Commerce, Abigail Comeau-Holly & Smith Architects, Angelia Beadle-Tangipahoa Parish Government, Amanda Bennett-PJ's Coffee Owner & Relator with ReMax Select, Mandy Lee-First Guaranty Bank, Roslyn Varnado-Tangipahoa Parish School System, Kathryn Edwards-Edwards & Stevens Law Firm, Ashley LeSaicherre-ReMax Select, Sibyl Cannon-Tangipahoa Parish Tourism, Brian Walker-Tangipahoa Economic Development Foundation
On Tuesday, October 16, 2018, the Class of 2019 Leadership Tangipahoa had another great day learning about our parish. We focused on the city governments of Hammond and Ponchatoula.
Our day began at The Greater Hammond Chamber of Commerce. Melissa Bordelon, the President and CEO, spoke to us regarding the organization. With over 650 memberships, they represent the entire parish. One of their goals is for the members to network with each other through events such as After Hours and Leads for Lunch. There are multiple committees members can be a part of including Education Committee, Governmental Affairs Committee, Event Committee, and the Ambassador Committee to name a few. With a small crew, these ladies are always promoting new businesses and helping our parish thrive.
Our next stop was Hammond City Hall with Mayor Pete Panepinto. He and some of his staff spoke to us regarding different department's roles and how they all work together. We learned the role of the Hammond City Council from City Councilman Mike Williams. He discussed how working with the other Council Members on the yearly budget is one of their main focuses.
Chris Mouswaswa, the Recreation Supervisor, explained all the exciting recreation initiatives in our parish. There is an After School Program at the Michael J Kenney Center for students grades 3rd-8th from 3:00pm-6:00pm. Transportation is provided from Hammond schools, students are fed dinner, and tutors are available for homework assistance. There are also summer and Holiday Camps available. Besides assisting school aged children, their department has a variety of sports leagues and other exercise programs such as Zumba. There are also computer and painting classes to name a few.
Next we heard from Jesse Hodges, the Assistant Fire Chief. Besides answering calls from the public, they also focus on community outreach. His staff enjoys going to schools and letting children tour their fire trucks. A service they provide the community is a smoke alarm detector check, where a fireman will go to your home and check your smoke alarms. We heard from C.C. Gaiennie, the Tangipahoa Building Official. He spoke about building permits, zoning, code enforcement, and city planning.
Next up was Robert Williams from the Street Department. They maintain road surfaces and sidewalks, make repairs to roads, handle maintenance on city buildings, repair street lights, install Christmas lights plus so much more. They are a busy department that handles most of the overflow or unique requests the city of Hammond asks of them. Police Chief James Stewart spoke to us next about his role within the department. A retired F.B.I. Agent, he spoke about the police equipment and how community outreach is a large part of what they do.
Lastly, we heard from Charles Borchers, IV, the Grants Manager for the city. With a small staff of 3 people, they have received over 14 million in grants over the past 6 years. The grants have benefited parks, the Hammond Northshore Regional Airport, the Hammond Police plus many other projects.
Our next stop was the Hammond Northshore Regional Airport! We visited the week of the Hammond Northshore Regional Airshow, so there was lots of activity. Mark Head, Chief Warrant Officer, gave us a tour of the air traffic control tower which was built in 2014. He stated there are about 72,000 movements (landings and take offs) annually.
On the other side of the airport is the Louisiana Army National Guard. We met with Maj. Jacques Comeaux in their state-of-the-art building. After Hurricane Katrina, the National Guard moved to Hammond from the New Orleans Lakefront Airport. They house 15 black hawk helicopters at this location used for training and aid during natural disasters such as hurricanes, oil spills and deployments. We were able to tour the hangers where the helicopters are stored. It was a unique and fun experience!
Our second half of the day started out with a visit to Mayor Bob Zabbia of Ponchatoula. He spoke briefly on Ponchatoula's budget and overall growth since the coming of the Ponchatoula Wal-Mart. We were then treated to a fabulous lunch provided by Le Fleur De Lis where our food was prepared and cooked to order right in front of us. Mayor Zabbia continued to enlighten us by answering questions concerning the "brown water" issue that the city has faced in years past. His knowledge on the overall water system was impressive, and his passion for the city of Ponchatoula was undeniable as he explained how the city has overcome those obstacles. He truly loves the city and it shows in his efforts to address the concerns of each and every townsperson.
Next, we headed to the Hammond Assimilation Sewage Facility where we learned about how the water is treated, and the overall goal of building the marshlands back up.
After leaving the swamp, we finished out our day at the famous Lee's Drive-In where Nick Gagliano treated everyone to ice cream while Chelsea Tallo, the executive director of the Downtown Development District, brought us up-to-date on the current events and activities that Hammond has to offer. She talked to us about the pavilion that will be constructed in downtown Hammond in the coming months, as well as the many roles of the DDD. It was amazing to see how far Hammond has come in the last decade or two, and to hear about the amazing opportunities we can expect to see in this city in the near future.
The day was filled with an abundance of information, all presented by residents of Tangipahoa Parish who were truly passionate about living here. We are incredibly thankful to be a part of Leadership Tangipahoa this year, and look forward to many more outings such as this one.
We would like to send a special thank you to our sponsors, First Guaranty Bank and RE/MAX Select, as well as our program facilitator, Nick Gagliano, for another exciting tour throughout the parish.
Leadership Tangipahoa Class of 2018-2019
Leadership Tangipahoa Class of 2018-2019
Mandy Lee is the Mortgage Loan Manager at First Guaranty Bank and has been with the company for over 5 years. She oversees the day to day operations of the mortgage department, as well as keeps up with current trends and regulation changes in the mortgage industry. Being a former graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University and Ponchatoula High School, she is grateful to First Guaranty Bank for allowing her to be a part of this year's Leadership Tangipahoa class where she is learning so much about the parish where she was raised.
Ashley Payroux LeSaicherre
Ashley Payroux LeSaicherre
Ashley Peyroux LeSaicherre is a Realtor with RE/MAX Select in Hammond. She works with her husband, Andrew, as a real estate team. Together they have a son, and a child on the way. Ashley is a graduate of St. Thomas Aquinas and Louisiana State University.