Parish President Ricks Outlines Drainage Progress
Parish President Layton Ricks gave his annual State of the Parish address at the Livingston Parish Chamber’s State of the Parish Luncheon.
Ricks began by applauding Congressman Graves, Senator Cassidy and Governor Edwards on the work they did at the state and federal levels to help bring in promised money to complete flood abatement projects. He mentioned that most of the funding that is being used now is money that the parish has been waiting on since 2016.
Ricks cautioned the room not to get caught up on large dollar amounts they hear discussed, like the $53 million just approved for NRCS, and instead to keep perspective on what repairs and new projects cost. “FEMA just approved $5 million, but keep in mind that only pays for about 88 homes.”
Still, the overall tone of his update was positive, and he mentioned many projects that have reached approval or that have been completed. The Hornsby Creek Bridge was one that Ricks did not expect to get as much attention as it did. “I got more calls about that than almost anything else,” said Ricks. “We raised that bridge three feet and then when we got seven inches of rain in one day, the water was only four inches below the new elevation. Imagine where it would have been before we raised it.”
Ricks offered reassurance that his priority is to protect Livingston Parish in reference to a levee that is set to be built in Ascension Parish. “Their current plan includes a 6-inch impact to Livingston Parish, even half an inch is too much.” Livingston Parish has filed a lawsuit, which has been put on hold to give Ascension Parish time to create a new building plan that does not negatively affect Livingston Parish. “We do not want to hurt Ascension,” said Ricks, “but we will protect Livingston.”
Overall, Ricks said the Parish is seeing growth. There were 17 more new commercial developments within the past 12 months than there were in the 12 months before that. New housing developments were down from 700 to 400 new homes in the same period.
If progress is to continue, Ricks told the crowd that the Livingston Parish Capital Outlay Program needs to receive funding the next time it is on the ballot. “This is what we live and die by. It’s how we do overlay and drainage work.”
A non-drainage related step the parish has taken is to create a Compliance Office last year. Ricks said that the office has been very successful since it’s conception. Ricks said the Compliance Officer, Steve Kistler, convinces most people to bring their properties into compliance without needing to make an appearance in court.
Ricks’ final note was to reassure anyone who worried that parish officials were not taking their drainage concerns seriously. “Almost every one of us either flooded or our relatives did. So, we do everything possible every day to get these problems taken care of.”
About the Chamber: The Livingston Parish Chamber of Commerce is the largest and longest-standing business organization in Livingston Parish. We represent the business community and coordinate community initiatives and programs which make Livingston Parish better. The Chamber is 501C6 nonprofit association serving Livingston Parish and each of its municipalities and communities.