Wednesday, December 28, 2005
by Washington Parish Reservoir Commission
The intimidation tactics started at the front door. Through the glass of the front door of the Washington Economic Development Foundation building, you could see a man removing the chairs from the meeting room. This is the same thing that took place on January 5, 2005 when the meeting was held for the reservoir site selection. There were quite a few seniors that needed a place to sit. Normally, when meetings are about to take place, people add chairs to a meeting room to accommodate the attendees.
We were told that we would have to sign in and provide our address. If we wanted to speak, there was another form to complete that listed the rules. The public had to limit their comments to 2 minutes and could only comment on the advertised agenda. We were not allowed to ask questions of the commission. There were 6 speakers, including me that completed the forms. Jim Stokes donated his 2 minutes to me and asked if I could speak for the group. I was required by the chairman to go to the secretary and retrieve the form, then list 5 people and their addresses. Huey Pierce (commission chairman) asked individual people on my list to raise their hand before he allowed me to begin. I suppose he wanted to make sure all the people on my list were in attendance.
Huey Pierce went over the rules with us and demonstrated his little timing device.
After the meeting, Huey Pierce came over to me and grabbed my arm, and told me that he took exception to me saying that he rejected my brother's certified mail. Mr. Pierce caught me off guard when he grabbed my arm. It was totally inappropriate. I told him that I took exception to the fact that he demanded that we submit requests in writing, and then when we do, he rejects it. I also told him how wrong it was to not answer the public's questions in a public forum. I didn't want to make a scene, so I quietly jerked away from him and told him some of my exceptions. He didn't hurt me physically, but I felt that he was trying to captivate and intimidate me by holding on to my arm. I have become accustomed to greeting and shaking hands with politicians (even if they are on the other side of the fence) as a cordial gesture, but this was not cordial.
There were other people who dared to speak and endure the intense scrutiny at the reservoir commission meeting. Their names are Win Pittman, Fate Ferrell, Joel Miller, and Senator Nevers. Senator Nevers even appeared to be somewhat intimidated since Huey Pierce was timing him also.
Mr. Pierce reminded me that I must submit my questions in writing, and that is when I confronted him about his rejection of my brother's certified mail.
Prepared statement for Reservoir Commission:
The Washington Parish Reservoir Commission has placed a dark cloud of uncertainty and controversy over the residents of Oak Grove Community. Since our community was selected as the site for the proposed reservoir, we have been in a living nightmare. Mr. Pierce has said that emotions don't affect his decisions regarding the reservoir, but it affects me greatly when I see my mother and father break down in tears. They have been broken and feel like castaways in their own parish. They don't deserve this and neither do their neighbors deserve such treatment.
The residents of Washington Parish have been sold out by our elected and appointed officials so that their own wishes may be gratified under the false allure of economic development and the unproven need for potable water. It doesn't matter to this commission that the property rights of honest, hardworking citizens have been trampled upon. It doesn't matter that existing residents will be displaced and the burial places of our loved ones are disrupted. …and for what? You are making empty promises to the people of this parish by saying a reservoir will bring prosperity when in reality, it will bring more poverty and disappointment as with past failed projects.
Not only is it incorrigible that you would destroy the face of an entire historic community and dig up our loved ones for a pleasure lake, it is incomprehensible that this commission would allow a site to be selected that would place the highest concentration of the people of Washington Parish at risk of dam failure. The monstrous earthen dam that will strain to hold back the billions of gallons of water is fallible. As we saw in the New Orleans area, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is under scrutiny for poor design. I shudder to think what would have happened if your reservoir would have been completed when Hurricane Katrina passed over us. We would have had a tragedy beyond comprehension-a man-made Tsunami that would have wiped out everything from Ben's Ford to the Pearl River. In Act 71 and the recent amendments, there is no provision for those residents who reside below the proposed dam in the event of a dam failure. There will be more powerful hurricanes in our future. Think about what you are subjecting us to.
The reservoir "lets make a deal" scheme to expropriate private property across the state of Louisiana is the epitome of the ABUSE OF EMINENT DOMAIN LAW.
Eminent Domain was to be used for public use such as roads and bridges-not to expropriate property for recreation and possible economic development. I was amazed to see Representative Bryant Hammett sitting on the Louisiana Bond Commission knowing that his company was the contracted company to survey for the reservoir commission. Do you believe he voted to allocate funds for the unneeded Washington Parish Reservoir because he thought it was a needed project, or because it would affect his paycheck if he voted against it? You tell me.
Since you must obtain a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build this unneeded lake, you have determined now that we need potable water. This commission or anyone else for that matter has not produced any scientific evidence that potable water is needed. It is also ridiculous to put a potable water lake next to landfill runoff. It doesn't fly with anybody.
People have been conned in to believing that the reservoir is a done deal, but that is very far from the truth.
I will close with a question that I would like at least one of you to answer. It should be a simple yes or no response.
Do you believe in your heart that it is moral to build an economic development/recreational/potable water lake so that people can go boating and water ski over our loved ones' place of burial? If cemeteries don't have any value, then why do we dedicate and place our deceased loved ones in a cemetery?
Jalon Pittman Beech
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Washington Parish Reservoir Commission
meeting Dec 14, 2005 at 4:30 pm
Franklinton, Era-Leader, official journal for parish, Dec 7 public notice lists Washington Parish Reservoir Commission meeting on Dec 14, 2005 at 4:30 pm.
Louisiana’s open meeting law requires notification of public meetings. Commission was sued in Mar 2005 for denying public comment, and failing to comply with law at meeting on Jan 5, 2005
Purposes of meeting as stated in the paper is to recieve audit report and take action, and also review officer’s report and take action. Residents believe Commission may be ready to apply for Army Corps of Engineers permit to build the Reservoir.
Will Corps approve recreational Reservoir destroying Oak Grove Community, creating more homeless, taking Ancestral homes, and Cemeteries to build a 90-foot high earthen dam capable of catastrophic failure taking lives and destroying Cities?
Residents report, Rep. Bryant Hammett surveying business BRYANT HAMMETT & ASSOC was completing land survey necessary for permit. Rep. Hammett, Chairman of Ways and Means Committee sits on Bond Commission that approved the $1.7 million for Reservoir at highly criticized Oct 20 meeting.
Prior to Hurricanes, millions was spent on Reservoir, but due to current budget problems, it is foolish to continue waste of more money that could be prevented before construction begins.
Sen. Ben Nevers creator of Reservoir said, "If we don’t approve the money then we acknowledge to the rest of the world that we’re not going to continue on". The $45 million bond approval shows Louisiana will continue on with foolish wasteful spending, and isn’t trying to help itself. Louisiana's bond rating has been lowered, and borrowing money for foolish pork barrel projects will cost even more
Oak Grove Community Website shows Sen. Nevers, and Reservoir Commission members list of corporations may personally gain from construction of Reservoir. Rep. Ritchie's funeral business may profit from digging up graves of Cemeteries.
_____ Pete Pittman _____
Jalon Pittman Beech, and her father Pete Pittman spoke at Bond Commission. Jalon requested Commission reconsider decision to fund pork barrel projects such as Washington Parish Reservoir, especially when our state is overwhelmed with crisis and debt. Pete Pittman said, take the money and use it where it is more appropriate, and help the people suffering from the Hurricanes.
Residents collected thousands of signatures on a petition to save their community, prevent homes from being taken, and their Cemeteries destroyed. Residents are requesting help, and ask everyone to contact Politicians and Reservoir Commission members to voice their opposition.
The UNCHRISTIAN ACT of taking peoples homes, and destroying their cemeteries is something no Politician or public official should want to be remembered for.
Mr. Pete Pittman when asked what would you like to tell the Politicians said,
"Well all I can say is they have a reckoning day".