The new term begins on Jan. 9 when the new council will take the oath of office in an inauguration ceremony at 4:30 p.m. in the council meeting room on the fifth floor of the courthouse in Franklin. The ceremony will be followed by the first regular meeting of the new term at 5 p.m.
Councilmen Gary Duhon, Craig Mathews and Chuck Walters will be giving up their seats to new members.
The three councilmen have served for a combined total of 28 years – Walters for 16 (two terms in a single member district and two at-large), Duhon for eight (two terms at-large) and Mathews for four (one term single-member).
All three expressed their appreciation for the other council members as well as for the administration, department heads and all parish employees.
Walters of Amelia said he is leaving with the knowledge of having made a difference. During his time on the council he said he was instrumental in early drainage improvements that led to the consolidation of Morgan City area drainage districts, the construction of the Law Enforcement Center in Centerville and the location of the Amelia Belle Casino that is still producing revenue for the parish. Other important infrastructure projects are in the works and coming to fruition, he added.
“These are all substantial accomplishments,” he said.
“As parish councilmen this is where our bond is,” Walters said. “We all have one bond – that we’ve all represented our constituents and we all bonded together during natural disasters and we were always on the ground. We never ran, we never hid, 24-7 we were on the ground…. That is what we are supposed to do. That is what people don’t see.”
His comments of individual accolades to staff members were directed to Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Director Duval Arthur, Chief Administrative Officer Henry “Bo” LaGrange, Chief financial Officer Paul Governale, former and present Planning and Zoning directors Carol Vinning and Tammy Luke, respectively, and secretarial staff Kim Pusateri and Carolyn Jacks.
“They are the glue of the council,” he said of the latter two.
Duhon of Morgan City echoed Walters’s sentiments to the staff and other council members and pledged his continued involvement in ongoing projects in economic development and housing.
“We didn’t always agree, but we got a lot of things done,” he said of the council. “The next four years, I plan on being involved… If God willing and my wife willing, in four years I’m going to try to do this again.”
Mathews of Four Corners said he felt the council did a good job of putting personal opinions aside to find the best solutions for the better good of the people.
“My life has been all the more enriched by having served … but I’ve had the opportunity to build relationships and rekindle others,” he said. He challenged the new council to “continue to invest in its people, continue to empower people beyond poverty, beyond juvenile delinquency, beyond personal challenges that have kept them limited …throughout the years.”
After hearing well wishes from the remaining council members Walters, Duhon and Mathews were presented with plaques of appreciation for their service by President Paul Naquin and council chairman Steve Bierhorst.
Business handled by the council included adoption of an ordinance amending the 2011 fiscal year budget; passage of resolutions endorsing participation in the state Quality Jobs Program by LAD Services LLC; and approval of a request by Mathews to transfer $6,000 in Wards 1, 2, 3, 4, 7 and 10 three-tenths sales tax funds to Recreation District 5 for an empowerment summit and leadership team retreat.