Thursday, August 31, 2006

Scared to move to Washington Parish

I've been reading about the efforts of the Washington Parish Reservoir Commission for the last year or more and finally feel I must write this letter. I just cannot remain silent any more. After having a dream of owning my own land for the last 25 years, I was finally able to save up enough money to have sufficient down payment to secure a loan and buy a parcel of land in Washington Parish in 2003. My intention was to work and improve the land, plant trees, build a retirement home there, get back to nature, etc.

I subscribe to the Era Leader in an attempt to integrate myself into the community before I move there and also to stay abreast of current events in Washington Parish. Even though I don't currently live in Washington Parish, I spend considerable amounts of money there on gasoline, supplies, contract labor, equipment rental, etc. I know my "to be" neighbors and find them friendly and good, decent folks.

I currently work in New Orleans for a major international oil company and look forward to a less stressful life when I am able to quit commuting. The issues relating to the Washington Parish Reservoir Commission and the methods that are being used to make decisions regarding the appropriation of land from property owners scares me.

I am also scared and concerned because I hate to continue investing money in property that may be taken from me because of what I see as greed and self-serving interests that don't seem to care about the issues being raised by families that have lived on the land for generations. Based on my limited knowledge, most of these families seem to be fairly poor or without political connections, but have a passion for the land. I can identify with this passion for the land and have worked long and hard to be able to finally get my own, even though it's only a small parcel.

The commission doesn't seem to care about families that will have to move or about loved ones dug up from graves that they chose to be buried in. What is the real issue behind what this commission wants to do? Do I really want to move into such a community? If so, what might happen to me and my land?

I belong to a hunting club in Washington Parish that was forced to sell land for a State Park that is to be built along the Bogue Chitto River in Washington Parish. Thousands of acres of wetlands that flood every year were purchased in the name of Economic Development and the dollars that the State Park would bring.

How many more of these projects are out there in the wings waiting to appropriate more land. When will we see these dollars and will they be more than the dollars we would have had otherwise? Are these dollars worth sacrificing our neighbors for?

Whose land will it be next and who will be benefiting from it? Now I see there is an effort to pass another bill called SB 639 which will create an economic development district with another "commission" empowered like the Reservoir Commission was. Do you have any idea of whose land will be next?

Are you ok with it as long as it isn't yours? What if it's your neighbors or your son or daughter's? What if it's your Mom or Dad or Grandparent's or Aunt or Uncle's?

Will you be proud to have stood in silence while this is allowed to happen? I am very disappointed there has not been more outrage expressed by the citizens in Washington Parish on this issue.

How can you sit by and let this happen? Will you act this same way when they come to take my land? What about when they take your neighbor's land or you or your relatives land? I understand and support appropriation of land when necessary for a school or housing for the poor or a hospital, etc. and no other suitable land can be found. These are certainly valid needs in some cases. The problem is, this is not for a school or for housing for the poor and other suitable land can be found and other landowners might be more willing to sell. Why not go that route? I don't know the folks in Oak Grove or the other small communities that will be affected and I also do not know Mr. Toye Taylor or his Reservoir Commission members.

What I do know as a Christian is that we are our brother's keeper and there is a God above that must be frowning right now. Why do I not see more outcries from fellow Christians who currently live in Washington Parish? Most of the letter's I see are from people who stand to lose the land they've held for generations or who stand to lose the graveyards their relatives are still buried in. I'm 53 years old and thinking "where do I want to be buried when I die?" Now I have to weigh that decision with the fact that in Washington Parish, just because you choose to be buried somewhere doesn't mean you'll stay buried there.

Washington Parish is full of Christians. I like that and I like the serenity and nature which is one of the reasons I chose to buy land and retire there. What I don't like is what you are allowing to take place. Why are you letting a handful of individuals take land from your neighbors in the name of progress when you know there are alternatives? If it was your land, would you be satisfied with the lack of support from your neighbors?

I read the advertisements in the papers by the Reservoir Commission and laugh. A water shortage they say. Let's be serious, I say. How many wells do you have that are drying up? Let's face it folks, you only have to go down less than 200' to hit good, quality drinking water in Washington Parish. The real number is probably 110' but I'm going to give the 200' number to be conservative. Think about it. Which way does all the surface water drain in the USA? The answer, for the most part, is North to South. That's why the Mississippi River caries so much water. It doesn't originate in Louisiana. The soil is very similar.

When we drill wells in the oilfield, we look for rock that has permeability because that allows the oil and gas to "travel" through the "rock" to the wellbore so we can transport it to the surface. What's the most permeable "rock" out there? It's sandstone or something you and I call "Sand". Is there much sandy soil in Washington Parish? Why, yes, there is. That's one reason why we don't have a water shortage in Washington Parish. We have water traveling via gravity from up North through sandy soil and we drill water wells into this sandy soil in Washington Parish. We typically have problems with our water wells when we have screen failures, pump failures, etc., not because we're running out of water.

Some of you probably know of "live" or artesian wells that don't even require the use of pumps. Even if we were running out of water, why on God's Green Earth would we build a Reservoir that sits on top of land that is so close to the Choctaw disposal pits? If we want water for that area, a smarter solution would be to drill 2-3 water wells north of that disposal site and pipe the clean water to the locations desired.

When I share the concepts of "running out of water" with my Geoscientists, Geologists, etc. at work, they laugh and want to know who came up with this "story". They assume it's from people who have a vested economic interest rather than on science. I tend to agree with them, but even if I didn't, I would ask "Why there"? Why take land that people don't want to sell? Washington Parish is a big Parish. How about moving the reservoir to an area that is willing to sell? Laying pipeline from that point would be easy and also would stimulate the Washington Parish economy with pipe laying jobs, right of way fees, sales of pipe and valves, etc.

While I'm on the subject, who will benefit from the proposed project? Who owns the adjacent lands that might become "Lakefront"? Who owns the companies that will be doing the construction work and selling the supplies that will be used? Why aren't these funds being used to build housing for the disadvantaged or to help pay medical bills for the elderly and the poor or give your schoolteachers and public works people more pay? Are the schools in Washington Parish without needs? Is there no value in addressing those issues?

Who decided a Reservoir is more important than these opportunities? Answer these questions and you might get a little closer to the real issue, which is why some of our neighbors aren't crying foul about this effort. It may not be because they have a vested interest in the dollars the project may generate; it may be because the issue doesn't affect them personally or perhaps they are busy with work and school and life.

It's good to be busy, to have property, to make money, to have a business that prospers, to create jobs, etc. It's just a question of if it's good to do all those things on the backs of those who don't have the resources to fight back or who don't have the political connections or who happened to grow up in a certain community.

Is it ok to do these things even if it tramples on the backs and rights of our neighbors and the poor?
There is a God above and there will be a judgment for us all one day.

Kim Barbin Mandeville, LA.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Unchristian desecration of Cemeteries and taking of homes

While Allen Parish Legislators and Reservoir Commission members have shown Christianity and Concern for desecration of Cemeteries and taking of homes, Sen. Nevers and his appointed Reservoir Commission has shown none. There has been no attempt to locate an alternate site for their pleasure lake.

Sen. Ben Nevers and his Reservoir Commission remain steadfast in their unchristian effort to desecrate Cemeteries and take homes to build a Reservoir in Washington Parish.

Senate Bill 639, Nevers attempt to expand Eminent Domain abuse to take Homes and Property of Residents Parish-wide was opposed by members of the Parish Council.

The use of Eminent Domain, desecration of Cemeteries, and taking of family homes and family land in America for recreation, Reservoirs, and Golf courses is placing an undue hardship on some for the pleasure and gain of others. This is America, not a Communist country where the state owns everything.

Oak Grove Community residents intend to fight for their Cemeteries, homes, heritage, streams, wildlife, ecosystem and way of life. This is a violation of their civil rights, the right to happiness and their right to continue voting in the same area.

The residents don't want to sell their land at any price. This is their home, their heritage, where they have lived all their life. There is no just compensation, and money is not the answer. In reality, it's the problem.

Without our heritage, our family land, our homes, our way of life, we can never be happy again. The state doesn't have enough money to compensate us in this matter. Again, money is not the answer.

To those who say, ''This matter does not concern us,'' I say, ''Wake up, this concerns us all, and will affect us all.''

I pray for help in this matter, and for the ones who want to do this.

Please have a conscience as many people can justify the wrong that they do to others, and many can convince themselves that what they are doing is right.

Please choose another site. Look inside your heart, and stop coveting thy neighbor's house.

Thompson, almost ready for Reservoir Permit

In Allen Parish, a rare occurrence of a public notice in a Newspaper states there will be a meeting of the Reservoir Commission in Oberlin, La. on Wed August 23 at 5:30pm.

Michael Thompson, the $100,000 a year Consultant, and his buddy Randy Denmon the $800,000 a year engineer are present. Thompson said, "we are almost ready to start talking with the Corp of Engineers about applying for a permit."

In the last 14 months while still getting paid, not much has been done, but Thompson says, there were Hurricanes and the Corp seemed to be very busy.

Thompson starts to spin, when asked by Commission Chairman Phil Beard how long will it take, and when will you apply for the permit? Thompson says, need to locate property owners, do a 1000-acre mitigation on wetlands, everything is a lengthy process, and therefore never gives an answer.

Randy Denmon says, we have done more tests, and Mill Creek is a perfect site for the Reservoir. The water quality is great, and will produce 30 million gallons a day. Commission member Rollin Hollins said, we made the right choice after all.

Sept 23, 2004 at Commission site selection, Randy Denmon's father Terry Denmon said, his "reputation was on the line" and this was not his first lake study, and the 3,700-acre Mill Creek site is the perfect site. The commissioners also approved to start the application process with the Army Corps of Engineers.

On Sept 9, 2004 the Community Preservation Alliance Alleges Wrong-doing of Rep. Francis C. Thompson, Mike Thompson, and Terry Denmon creating 14 Reservoirs statewide. The Alliance, consisting of residents of 3 of the 4 sites have said they were concerned that Mill Creek was contaminated years ago by a paper mill and unfit to serve as a feeder for a Reservoir.

On July 1, 2004, at a Emotionally charged Reservoir meeting, Roland Hollins also Police Jury Vice President said, it is in my heart, these are my people, and it's not right to take the homes of the residents of my district for a pleasure lake or fishing hole.

Hollins attempt to eliminate all other sites except Mill Creek failed, but a motion was passed to see if Denmon could raise the height of the Dam to achieve an average water depth of 8 feet and make Mill Creek a feasible site.

Rep. Herman Ray Hill and Sen. Don Hines urged the Reservoir Commission not to approve a site that would claim scenic rivers or homes, and said, "We should abandon the project if anything other than Mill Creek was selected." Mill Creek, located in the center of the West Bay Game Preserve, is the only site where homes would not be compromised.

Commission member Gary Pelican said, I am concerned that we are still on the same page, and the site will not take any homes or Cemeteries, and is there a detailed map of Dam location and property owners available? Thompson says no, but Randy should be able to draw one up. Secretary Adagria Haddock, paid $9,000.00 a year to keep the minutes was not present.

What a Waste, Money continues to flow like water year after year for unwanted and unneeded foolish pork barrel reservoirs to make Politicians, their brothers, family, and friends wealthy?

Also see: We saw that Allen Parish Reservoir hi-jinx
and We saw that
reservoir series links page

Thursday, August 03, 2006

DOTD tax money wasted on Reservoirs

Higher Gasoline prices at the pumps, and more taxes for all Louisiana Residents. Louisiana is wanting an increase in gasoline taxes to pay for Roads, Bridges, and more Reservoirs.
The Following is a letter sent to the Baton Rouge Advocate.

Dear Will Sentell,

Concerning your article DOTD says funds lag needed fixes to roads published in the Advocate on Aug 2, 2006.

Please be advised that Mrs. Jalon Pittman Beech has appeared twice before the Louisiana Bond Commission, and talked with them about wasting our DOTD tax money intended for roads and bridges on Reservoirs.

An Article By Michelle Millhollon "Commission hears concerns on reservoir project" was published in the advocate concerning the Bond Commission Meeting on July 22, 2005. At the Louisiana Bond Commission Meeting Mrs. Beech told the Bond Commission.

This is our D.O.T.D. tax money that would be used for ROADS. Should taxpayers spend 40 to 50 million to make a select few wealthy? The reservoir money is badly needed in education, health care, road construction, law enforcement and programs for the poor and elderly.

An article in the Advocate News reported a speech by Transportation Secretary John Bradbury stating. State officials have begun talks on ways to raise new dollars to improve Louisiana roads and bridges. Options include higher gasoline taxes, tolls, fees, permits and private/public partnerships. I have a cure for a portion of our state’s budget crisis. Stop wasting taxpayers’ money on unneeded and unwanted reservoir projects. Spend DOTD money on roads and bridges as it was intended.

The complete text of Jalon Pittman Beech's speech, Reservoir Concerns our Tax Money along with audio recordings is available on the blog.

Mrs. Beech appeared again before the Louisiana Bond Commission on Oct 20, 2005 and spoke. The complete text of her speech posted on the oak grove community blog is titled La Bond commission $45 million pork barrel.

At the July 22,nd Bond Commission meeting, my father, Nevels Pittman and I testified before you regarding our objections to the funding of the proposed Washington Parish Reservoir.

You are approving money for reservoirs that is designated for our Department of Transportation projects. I don’t believe that the average taxpaying citizen of this state would appreciate DOTD funds being diverted from our roads, bridges, and other much needed infrastructure to unneeded reservoirs so that a select few can make some huge deposits in their bank accounts.

This commission has the opportunity and obligation to rescind funding for controversial and unneeded reservoir projects that send our state spiraling into debt. The state of Louisiana has to accept the charity of other states and the federal government just to pay our basic necessities.

If you tightened Louisiana’s purse strings and put a stop to the self-serving legislators who have been wooed by cunning real estate developers to go along with reservoir projects, our state could stand on its on.

You would at the very least, have another billion dollars to budget to worthwhile projects such as infrastructure, levee systems for our coast line, pay raises for state employees, hospitals, and I could go on and on.

Louisiana is wealthy with resources, but these resources are commonly exploited and misused. Louisiana consistently proves to the world that we are incapable of handling business without the appearance of impropriety.

The buck literally can be stopped here today, and what a proud day this would be for the citizens of Louisiana.


Mr. James Moore

Quoted commentary by: Mrs. Jalon Pittman Beech
Oak Grove Community, Washington Parish

Also see: We Saw That DOTD Tax Money wasted on Reservoirs

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