Category Archives: Parish News

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Tri-Parish Works Job Fair in Covington

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(Slidell, LA) – Job seekers looking for careers with ample opportunities for advancement can connect with employers hiring in many business sectors at the “St. Tammany Getting Back to Work” free job fair, on Friday, August 20 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Bogue Falaya Hall in the Greater Covington Center.

Presented by Tri-Parish Works in partnership with the City of Covington, St. Tammany Parish Tourism and Convention Commission, St. Tammany Corporation, Pelican State Credit Union, and Northshore Lodging Association, the event will feature 40 employers that are hiring across all areas in entry-level, mid-level, and professional roles.

Tri-Parish Works, a partner of the Louisiana Workforce Commission, runs the public workforce centers in St. Tammany, St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes. The agency aims to foster a thriving and inclusive regional economy, with increased economic opportunity and prosperity for the entire region.

Don Shea, Director of Business Services, describes Tri-Parish Works’ multi-level support for both employers and job seekers in the region. “As the workforce development agency serving our region, Tri-Parish Works connects talent to opportunity. We invest substantial funding every year to train, educate and certify job seekers across all industry sectors, and we work closely with area employers to understand their workforce needs and provide them with financial support to offset the cost of providing on-the-job training that upgrades the workforce. Tri-Parish Works is proud to have the partners to produce this job fair.

Interviews and offers may be made during the event, so job seekers should come prepared in professional attire with several copies of their resumes. Tri-Parish Works workforce professionals are available to assist job seekers, from reviewing resumes to offering tips to nail the interview. Schedule a visit by calling (985) 646-3940.

To register as a job seeker and for more information, visit triparishworks.net, or contact Don Shea at (985) 646-3940.

General Local News Parish News

STPL Continues a Hybrid of Virtual and In-person Outdoor Programming

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COVINGTON- As the St. Tammany Parish Library prepares for upcoming fall programming, patrons can expect the hybrid model of in-person outdoor programming and virtual programming, to remain in place for the foreseeable future.

“We have social distancing mitigation measures in place and we’ve designed the spaces inside our branches to ensure that our libraries are a safe place to visit for everyone. The programming we provide is based on this also,” said Kelly LaRocca, Director of the St. Tammany Parish Library. “We value our patrons and their safety, and we want tour staff to feel safe as well. We appreciate the patience of everyone, as we continue to work toward this goal during this pandemic.”

As the school year kicks off, beginning the week of Aug. 9, small branches of the St. Tammany Parish Library will begin evening hours on Wednesday nights. The six small branches — Abita Springs, Lacombe, Pearl River, Lee Road, Folsom, and Bush — will open at noon and remain open until 8 p.m. on Wednesdays. The six large branches will maintain their current hours: Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Masks are required in all St. Tammany Parish Library branches, after St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper announced increased COVID-19 preventative measures in late July. Beginning Wednesday, August 4, 2021, all patrons five and older will be required to wear a mask inside library branches in cooperation with Governor John Bel Edwards statewide indoor mask mandate announced August 2, 2021. Patrons are also asked to maintain proper social distancing. In addition, every other public computer will be available for use for the safety of our patrons. Masks and sanitizing supplies are provided. All St. Tammany Parish Library branches offer curbside service until dusk each evening for patrons who do not wish to come into the library. Find more information or register for an event: www.sttammanylibrary.org

General Local News Parish News

St. Tammany Financial Disclosure Bill

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Covington Weekly has an archive of economic development-related articles that suggest St. Tammany Parish is in need of greater transparency with regard to the flow of tax-derived money.

For this reason, a request for a Financial Disclosure Bill in St. Tammany Parish was sent by e-mail to Senator Patrick McMath, Representative Mark Wright and Parish President Mike Cooper.

Representative Wright responded:

email exchange in entirety

Good Morning Representative Wright,

The St. Tammany Parish Public Financial Disclosure Bill
A bill to disclose all public monies/subsidies/allowances received by any entity operating within the parish of St. Tammany.
While working in the capacity of correspondent for Covington Weekly, I often found information regarding the flow of public money (i.e. money in the arena of parish government and related agencies) to be extremely lacking with regard to the St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation (now defunct).
In researching its origins, I found two pieces of bad legislation, one written by former representative Tim Burns, and another by senator Donahue. One allowed for conflicts of interest to exist between the foundation and other areas of parish government; the other affected the board appointment process. At least one of the pieces of legislation violated the state constitution’s ethics laws.
In another investigation into disaster relief funds, I found that the parish government diverted a portion of hud funds to private development projects, resulting in a wrist-slapping from hud (and probably more oversight).
Then there is the former parish president Brister’s appointment to a Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas that lent exclusively to one local banking family that had something to do with a little utility company.
On a more sinister note, I was contacted by a representative of a local women’s shelter after publishing an article about trafficked children. She wanted to meet and discuss the angle of the article, which described the problem as ‘institutional’.
A week later, she cancelled the meeting, and i was told that her funding was threatened (my speculation is that her funding was threatened for talking to me. She spoke of a facility that consistently sent her individuals that were there to recruit other girls.)
This implicates a local foundation that has a 7 million dollar off-shore account and a larger operating budget than the city of Covington. I’ve gotten the insinuation over the years that another large parish bond-holder may also be implicated in the above scenario.
It is for these reasons that there is a need for full financial disclosure of all entities operating in St. Tammany Parish with any public monies/ subsidies/ allowances.
Every corporation operating in the parish of St. Tammany under revenue bond should be public information with full financial disclosure.
Every non-profit/ foundation receiving any public funding should have full public financial disclosure.
Every religious/church entity receiving any public funding should have full public financial disclosure.
Please consider this information, as my request is a result of my experience.

Best Regards,

Timothy Gates
Wright, Rep. Mark (Chamber Laptop) mwright@legis.la.gov

Jul 27, 2021, 11:19 AM (20 hours ago)

to me
Thanks for the email Timothy.

Just so I’m clear, are you suggesting I file a bill mandating this or simply look into the matter in St. Tammany?

Regards,
Mark Wright
985-590-1204
Timothy Gates codexproventus@gmail.com

Jul 27, 2021, 11:51 AM (20 hours ago)

to Mark
I took it upon myself to look into the matter.

Over the years, I communicated with both the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office and the HUD IG with regard to public funds and bond-related issues.

I am asking for a bill mandating full financial disclosure for all entities operating within St. Tammany Parish that receive any public monies/ subsidies /allowances.

There are many examples why this should be in place.

I hope this clarifies the request.

Best Regards,

Timothy Gates
Timothy Gates codexproventus@gmail.com

Jul 27, 2021, 11:56 AM (20 hours ago)

to fernsolutions
Wright, Rep. Mark (Chamber Laptop)

Tue, Jul 27, 1:10 PM (19 hours ago)

to me
Okay, I’ll look into it. Since the next session isn’t until next Spring, it will be a while until I get back with anything substantial, but I’ll be back in touch.
Mark

Get Outlook for iOS
From: Timothy Gates codexproventus@gmail.com
Sent: Tuesday, July 27, 2021 11:51:17 AM
To: Wright, Rep. Mark (Chamber Laptop) mwright@legis.la.gov
Subject: Re: St. Tammany Parish Public Financial Disclosure Bill

[Message clipped] View entire message
Timothy Gates codexproventus@gmail.com

Jul 27, 2021, 2:28 PM (17 hours ago)

to Mark
Thank you for your attention and response.

I look forward to hearing further, and I will follow up as well

I find the standard response to be lacking with regard to the material and examples offered.

If you support my efforts toward a financial disclosure bill, PLEASE phone, email, fax, tweet or write a letter to Representative Mark Wright’s office stating as such:

Representative Mark Wright https://house.louisiana.gov/H_Reps/members?ID=77

312 South Jefferson StreetSuite A & BCovington, LA 70433

Phone: (985) 893-6262Fax: (985) 893-6261 wrightm@legis.la.gov

Legislative Assistant: Anecia Kenley

Representing Parishes: St. TammanyCorresponding Senate District(s): 11 and 12

Local News Parish News

STPL Initiates Strategic Plan Process

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COVINGTON- The St. Tammany Parish Library has begun the process to create a Strategic Plan for services. After a series of special meetings last week, the St. Tammany Parish Library Board of Control selected Carson Block Consulting, out of a pool of six total applicants who responded to the Request for Proposals, to implement the planning process.

“We are ready to start this process and we are excited to invite the community — both current and future patrons — to be a part of strategic planning for the future of our St. Tammany Parish Library system through their input and participation,” said Kelly LaRocca, Director St. Tammany Parish Library. “This plan will be our roadmap for the future, and will give us foundational tools to move the library forward for many years to come.”

This will be the first Strategic Plan for Services for the St. Tammany Parish Library. Carson Block Consulting will work collaboratively with the St. Tammany Parish Library, the St. Tammany Parish Library Board of Control, and the entire St. Tammany community to gather data through community research to identify several key metrics including: aspirations of the community; strategic areas of focus, obstacles and opportunities; and potential library service strategies. The planning process will offer several opportunities for community input including public meetings, focus groups, surveys, and interviews. The planning process will culminate with the creation of the Strategic Plan containing actionable and attainable library service goals, activities and objectives for the short, medium and long-term future. The entire process is expected to be completed in early 2022.

The estimated cost of the planning process is $75,000 excluding travel expenses.

The St. Tammany Parish Library has been serving the citizens of St. Tammany Parish for over seventy years. Our twelve branches offer over 542,000 loanable items including books, CDs, DVDs, audiobooks, and magazines. The library’s website offers 24/7 access to downloadable audio and e-books, music downloads, research tools, magazines, and newspapers. Our programs and services are designed to meet residents’ cultural, informational, educational, and recreational needs.

Local News Parish News

West Nile Virus Found in St. Tammany

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Per St. Tammany Parish Mosquito Abatement District (STPMAD), a sample from a mosquito trap collected on June 15 with 126 mosquitoes of multiple species tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV)-infected mosquitoes at the Louisiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at the LSU Veterinary Medicine School. This trap was located in the vicinity of Covington.

The good news is that this is a late start for the WNV season as it is usually well underway in May. Generally, the later they start the lower the risk to people.

Starting the night of June 28th (weather permitting), STPMAD will be sending trucks to abate flying adult mosquitoes. Beginning June 29th, night truck crews will be conducting area-wide larviciding activities to abate larval mosquitoes that are produced in containers in backyard environments.

To learn more about mosquitos and mosquito abatement in St. Tammany Parish, visit stpmad.org

Local News Parish News

St. Tammany Parish Library Announces Operational Updates

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COVINGTON- The St. Tammany Parish Library announces opportunities for patrons to return and more fully enjoy our 12 branches, as most State and Parish-mandated COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

“We are happy to resume some pre-COVID services and lift capacity limits. As we move forward, we will continue to evaluate operations and modify as-needed, based on our progress through this pandemic,” said Kelly LaRocca, Director of the St. Tammany Parish Library. “Our goal is to make library usage as easy and as safe as possible for our patrons as well as our employees. We appreciate the flexibility our patrons and our staff members have shown during these months. ”

The hours of operation for library branches remain as they have been since early March of 2021: large branches (Causeway, Covington, Madisonville, Mandeville, Slidell, and South Slidell) are open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., while small branches (Abita Springs, Bush, Folsom, Lacombe, Lee Road, and Pearl River) are open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Patrons will notice a few changes to services that were put in place during COVID-19, while some services will remain. Circulation desk staff has resumed full-service checkout of items for all patrons. Capacity numbers, social distancing recommendations, mask mandates, and materials quarantines are no longer in place. All library branches will continue to provide sanitizing stations for patrons who wish to access hand sanitizer, masks, and alcohol wipes. The CDC does recommend that individuals who are unvaccinated continue to mask.

Patrons may notice less furniture in our branches and remaining social distancing stickers on the floors. While not required, social distancing is still encouraged, and we’ve cleared the way for what we call “brisk browsing” as we remain in Phase 3. Manipulatives, activity cubes, and our AWE Learning Stations in our Children’s areas remain covered and unavailable for use at this time. Library administration will reevaluate and update their availability in the early fall.

Meeting and study rooms are open. Study rooms are available on a first-come-first-serve basis in branches with study room availability. Meeting rooms have resumed pre-pandemic capacities. These capacities are available online by location. Reservations are required for the meeting rooms, and can be made online at www.sttammanylibrary.org/application-for-use-of-meeting-room.

Public computers are available for use. Reservations to use these computers at small branches will no longer be necessary. Computer use is limited to one-hour time slots, and some computers will remain shut down to continue to maintain distancing.

As things return to normal, patrons will see overdue fines and other library fees resume. Currently, all fines and fees, with the exception of replacement costs for lost items, remain suspended until June 30, 2021. Beginning July 1st, all items currently checked out and currently overdue will begin to accrue overdue fines. All items checked out on or after July 1st, will be subject to overdue fines if they are returned after the due date. Fees for faxes and replacement library cards also resume on July 1st. Replacement fees for long overdues — or items that have been out for more than 90 days — will be posted to patron accounts beginning July 1st. When long overdue items are returned, the replacement fees are waived and patrons are not charged.

Fines and fees are as follows:

Books, audiobooks, and CDs – 10 cents per day.

DVDs – 25 cents per day.

Interlibrary Loan late fees – $1.00 per day.

Downloadable items return automatically and don’t accrue late fees.

The maximum late fee for an STPL item is $5.00.

Replacement library card – $3.00

Faxes – 10 cents per page

Copies – 10 cents per page

Color Copies – 50 cents per page

The following services implemented during COVID-19 will remain:

Virtual Programming: Programming will remain both virtual and in-person as it is now, during the Summer Reading Challenge, as well as going forward.

Wi-Fi in branch parking lots. While Wi-Fi was always available at our branches inside and outside pre-COVID, Federal CARES Act Funding made available through the State of Louisiana through the State Library of Louisiana in the summer of 2020, coupled with funding from the St. Tammany Library Foundation, presented the opportunity to boost Wi-fi capabilities so that anyone can access and utilize a strong Wi-fi signal from the parking lot of every branch.

Contactless curbside service will remain in place at all branches. Curbside service ends after sunset each day.

Instant Access library cards for St. Tammany residents are now permanent. Residents can apply for a card online and get instant access to on-line library materials. These cards can also be used for inside and curbside service. Apply here: www.sttammanylibrary.org/library-card-request .

Virtual Programming will continue. Going forward, patrons can expect a blend of virtual and in-person programming.

You may read the Governor’s most recent Proclamation Number 93 easing Phase 3 restrictions, here. You may read St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper’s Executive Order here.

Patrons who have questions are encouraged to speak with staff at their local branches, or visit www.sttammanylibrary.org for complete information.

The St. Tammany Parish Library has been serving the citizens of St. Tammany Parish for more than 70 years. Our twelve branches offer over 542,000 loanable items including books, CDs, DVDs, audiobooks, magazines. Our website, www.sttammanylibrary.org offers access to downloadable audio and e-books, music downloads, research tools, magazines, and newspapers 24/7. Our programs and services are designed to meet residents’ cultural, informational, educational, and recreational needs.

Healthy Living Local News Parish News

STPG and Partners Offer Another Tool in Fighting Opioid Epidemic

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St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper announced today that St. Tammany Parish Government, in collaboration with St. Tammany Parish Coroner Dr. Charles Preston, has secured 1980 kits containing two 4mg doses of the opioid antagonist NARCAN for cost-free pick up by citizens at fire stations throughout St. Tammany, and at Florida Parishes Human Services Authority offices.

St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Randy Smith; St. Tammany Parish Fire District #1 Chief Chris Kaufmann; Florida Parishes Human Services Executive Director Richard Kramer; and Dan Schneider, Advocate and subject of the Netflix Documentary The Pharmacist, joined President Cooper and Coroner Preston to make the announcement this morning with the St. Tammany Parish 22nd Judicial District Attorney Warren Montgomery and 22nd Judicial Specialty Court Judges ——– standing in support of this collaborative initiative. This distribution — the first phase of a two-phase initiative in the fight against the ongoing Opioid Epidemic— was made possible through a competitive grant — the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Program — from the Bureau of Justice Administration.

“The Opioid Epidemic is real and it is crippling to the families who face it every single day. We are committed to our fight against this dreaded addiction. The Louisiana Department of Health reports that in 2019, St. Tammany Parish had the second highest number of Opioid-involved deaths in the State of Louisiana,” President Cooper said. “While NARCAN is not a solution to addiction, it does offer citizens a second chance to save their loved one’s life, to start them on the path to recovery through treatment. We are proud to facilitate this program and grateful to all involved stakeholders who will make this life-saving effort a reality.”

“There are often times when our deputies arrive on a scene, prior to EMS. When someone is overdosing and time is of the essence, this tool (NARCAN) gives our deputies the ability to immediately render aid and potentially save lives,” said St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Randy Smith. “NARCAN will not prevent a person from using drugs in the future, but it gives them a fighting chance to have a future where they can make better decisions and ultimately get the help they need to fight their addiction.”

“NARCAN can transform a tragic death into the chance for a new life,” said Dr. Charles Preston, St. Tammany Parish Coroner.

“NARCAN may give you a chance at life, but a recovery program can save your life,” said Chief Chris Kaufmann, St. Tammany Fire District #1. “Together we can make a difference.”

“We commend President Cooper for taking this step to help protect the lives of people in our community and are thankful that he has asked us to be a partner in this initiative,” said Richard Kramer, Executive Director, Florida Parishes Human Services.

“Treat every overdose person as if it was your child. NARCAN can give them a chance at recovery and a future,” said The Pharmacist, Dan Schneider.

Beginning Thursday, April 29, 2021, citizens may visit fire stations throughout St. Tammany Parish to pick up kits containing two 4mg doses of NARCAN with administration instructions. The doses have a three-year shelf life. The kits are free and no questions are asked. Citizens will be asked to sign a waiver indicating they received instructions on how to administer the life-saving drug. Officials stress that people who administer NARCAN to an overdose victim should immediately seek medical attention for them through 9-1-1. The Good Samaritan Law protects individuals who seek emergency help during an overdose, even if they too are involved in illegal drug use at the time of the life-saving call to first responders.

The second phase of this initiative will focus on recovery and treatment resources. The total expenditure for grant fulfillment during Phase I for the outreach and packaging materials as well as the NARCAN purchase was $169,500. Plans for Phase II will be announced in the coming months. The distribution of NARCAN will continue until all kits are depleted.

For a map of pickup locations, please visit www.stpgov.org/NARCAN

Local News Parish News

St. Tammany Rental Assistance Program (STRAP) Underway

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The St. Tammany Rental Assistance Program (STRAP) which will utilize $7.7 million in CARES Act funding from the Department of Treasury, is fully underway. This program is available to assist households that are unable to pay rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. St. Tammany Parish Government has opened two locations, one on Koop Drive in Mandeville, and one in Slidell at the Towers building, for in-person applications. Officials are asking that applicants make an appointment to be served, by calling (985) 898-3016 or by emailing STRAP@stpgov.org.

“Our offices are up and running, and I am urging citizens who need this assistance to schedule an appointment and apply,” President Cooper said. “We know that many in our community are in need and we are here to ensure these funds are made available to those who need them as quickly as possible.”

St. Tammany Parish Government is slated to receive an additional round of funding in the near future. That date and amount have not yet been announced.

Rental assistance provided to an eligible household must not be duplicative of any other federally funded rental assistance provided to such household. The St. Tammany Rental Assistance Program (STRAP) is now accepting applications for the following households:

Households with an income at or below 80 percent of the area median income (AMI) which is approximately $56,300 for a family of four;
Households that have experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19; and
Households that are at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability.

Support documentation will be required prior to issuance of payments. Additional information on this program can be found at: www.stpgov.org/departments/grants. Applicants who have questions, or who plan to apply, should email their contact information, including mailing address to: STRAP@stpgov.org.

Local News Parish News

STPG Update: Latest Forecast Indicates Higher River Levels Than Originally Predicted

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St. Tammany Parish Officials were notified by forecasters at the National Weather Service this afternoon that the Bogue Falaya River, near Camp Covington is expected to reach 58 feet by midnight tonight, Thursday, April 15, 2021. Flood stage is 45 feet. The River is currently at 54.95 feet. Parish officials continue to monitor the expected severe weather threats. St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper is asking residents, especially those who live near the Bogue Falaya River at Camp Covington, to please continue to monitor the current and severe weather threat and be ready to evacuate if necessary.

Self-serve sandbags will be available Thursday April 15, 2021 through 9 p.m. at the Covington Public Works Barn, located at 1305 N. Florida Street, Covington. Residents should bring their own shovel, in case the ones provided are in use. Someone will be on-hand to assist those who need it.

Forecasters are predicting continued severe weather and excessive rainfall into Friday and early Saturday. There is also the potential for wind gusts to 60mph and the possibility of hail. An additional one to three inches of rain is forecast across parts of St Tammany Parish. Due to significant past rainfall, flash flooding will be a concern through Saturday morning. A Flash Flood Watch is in effect through noon on Saturday. Heavy and intense rainfall may lead to water covered roadways. Rivers will continue to rise and possible flooding may happen.

All road updates are posted at www.stpgov.org/storm. Residents are asked to report flooded structures to 985-898-2574. Camp Salmen Nature Park, located at 35122 Parish Parkway Slidell, is closed due to high water. Storm information is posted at www.stpgov.org/storm, and on Parish Social Media channels.

Local News Parish News

STPG Announces Rental Assistance Program

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The St. Tammany Rental Assistance Program (STRAP) which will utilize $7.7 million in CARES Act funding from the Department of Treasury, is fully underway. This program is available to assist households that are unable to pay rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. St. Tammany Parish Government has opened two locations, one on Koop Drive in Mandeville, and one in Slidell at the Towers building, for in-person applications. Officials are asking that applicants make an appointment to be served, by calling (985) 898-3016 or by emailing STRAP@stpgov.org.

“Our offices are up and running, and I am urging citizens who need this assistance to schedule an appointment and apply,” President Cooper said. “We know that many in our community are in need and we are here to ensure these funds are made available to those who need them as quickly as possible.”

St. Tammany Parish Government is slated to receive an additional round of funding in the near future. That date and amount have not yet been announced.

Rental assistance provided to an eligible household must not be duplicative of any other federally funded rental assistance provided to such household. The St. Tammany Rental Assistance Program (STRAP) is now accepting applications for the following households:

Households with an income at or below 80 percent of the area median income (AMI) which is approximately $56,300 for a family of four;
Households that have experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19; and
Households that are at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability.

Support documentation will be required prior to issuance of payments. Additional information on this program can be found at: www.stpgov.org/departments/grants. Applicants who have questions, or who plan to apply, should email their contact information, including mailing address to: STRAP@stpgov.org.

Local News Parish News

STPG Covid Update

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Bars in St. Tammany May now Operate at 50% Capacity as Percent Positivity Rate Drops

St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper announced that effective 5 p.m. today, March 18, 2021, bars located in St. Tammany may now operate at 50% capacity as the Percent Positivity Rate in St. Tammany has moved below 5% for two consecutive weeks, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.

“St. Tammany citizens have worked hard to adhere to best prevention practices, and many who are eligible are choosing to get the vaccine. These factors are impacting our positivity rates in a good way,” said President Mike Cooper.

The specific language in Proclamation Number 29 JBE 2021 COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Phase 3 of Resilient Louisiana states: “If a bar is located in a parish that has a percent positivity of 5% or less for two consecutive weeks, as determined and published by the Louisiana Department of Health, the bar may operate at 50% capacity, not to exceed 250 people, as determined by the State Fire Marshal. Should any parish that opts in subsequently exceed 5% positivity for two consecutive weeks, bars in that parish shall return to 25% capacity.”

Find current updates at the St. Tammany Parish Government website.

Parish News

Parish President Mike Cooper Reflects on the One-Year Anniversary of COVID-19 Impacting St. Tammany

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From St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper:

“One year ago, St. Tammany, like much of the rest of the world, was faced with the reality of COVID-19. We came together as community and faced the uncertainty of a novel virus, loss of lives to this disease, and sacrifices we all had to make in order to protect the most vulnerable among us, as well as our frontline healthcare professionals. We did this to balance the health of our community with the health of our economy,” said Mike Cooper, St. Tammany Parish President.

President Cooper went on to say, “I am thankful and proud of the way we worked together and I am proud of where we now stand. Let’s continue to move forward by making individual choices to protect one another, and by utilizing the vaccine to protect ourselves as we mourn the lives of those we lost to this disease, celebrate those who have recovered, and thank the people who lovingly cared for them all.”

Watch the March 13, 2020 Press Conference

Parish News

St. Tammany Parish Government Buildings Will Open to the Public Under New Phase III Guidelines

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From St. Tammany Parish Government:

St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper announced that St. Tammany Parish Government buildings will officially reopen to the public Wednesday, March 10, 2021, at 8 a.m. All visitors will undergo COVID-19 screenings and will be required to wear a mask when inside Parish buildings, in addition to while visiting Parish-owned playgrounds like the Kids Konnection and the playground at Camp Salmen Nature Park, in keeping with the mask mandate.

“We are ready to welcome citizens back to our buildings. We ask that everyone be prepared to undergo screenings, and please wear a mask,” President Cooper said. “We want to build on our forward momentum and for that reason, we still need to take responsibility to slow the spread of COVID-19, by continuing to take necessary precautions.”

Parish Government employees will resume on-campus work at full occupancy. Parish-run litter abatement crews utilizing staff working to fulfill Community Service obligations will continue but with increased capacity. The Department of Animal Services will welcome volunteers back to the Shelter.

While appointments are no longer required to complete Parish business, they are recommended.

Agencies located in the St. Tammany Parish Justice Center will operate as follows:

The 22nd Judicial Courts (applies to St. Tammany and Washington Parishes) – Everyone is required to wear a mask before entering the St. Tammany Parish Justice Center. Members of the public who are noticed with a scheduled in-person Court appearance or have an appointment with an agency located in the Courthouse will be admitted. No children will be allowed to enter the Courthouse except as pre-approved by the Judge of the division or the agency permitting them access to their office.

The St. Tammany Parish Assessor’s Office — Remains open to the Public by Appointment only. Citizens can visit STPAO.org, to make an appointment or they can call at (985) 809-8180

The complete Phase III Executive Order may be viewed here.

Local News Parish News

STHS Vaccine Clinics Expanding Eligibility to Match State Changes

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From St. Tammany Health System: Governor opens COVID vaccination to 16+ with qualifying conditions

Adhering to Louisiana Department of Public Health guidelines, St. Tammany Health System expanded eligibility for COVID vaccination to include residents as young as 16 who have at least one qualifying condition.

Those working in “congregant settings” – such as prisons and group homes – are also now eligible, and all previously eligible groups remain so.

Qualified individuals can schedule vaccine appointments through St. Tammany Health System MyChart or 985-898-4001, which is answered 24/7. Those encountering high call volume may have more success by calling at off peak times such as evenings.

See below for the state’s new, expanded vaccine eligibility. All of those receiving the vaccine because of complicating medical factors must sign a form attesting that they meet guidelines. Only the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved for patients under 18.

Eligibility by age or condition

  • People 65 and older
  • Dialysis providers and patients
  • Pregnant people
  • People with certain medical conditions
  • People 18-64 (or 16+ for Pfizer vaccine only) with at least one of the conditions listed below by the CDC.

To receive the vaccine, people with these underlying medical conditions should complete the Louisiana COVID-19 Vaccine Attestation Form before their appointment.

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Down syndrome
  • Heart conditions including but not limited to heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30kg/m2 or higher
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Current of former smoker
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
  • Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Overweight (BMI > 25 kg/m2, but < 30 kg/m2)
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
  • Severe neurologic conditions such as dementia
  • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus

Eligibility by workforce category

  • Ambulatory and outpatient providers and staff
  • Dialysis providers
  • Behavioral health providers and staff
  • Urgent care clinic providers and staff
  • Community care providers and staff
  • Dental providers and staff
  • Non-emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) providers and staff
  • Professional home care providers (including hospice workers) and home care recipients (including older and younger people with disabilities over the age of 16 who receive community or home-based care, as well as clients of home health agencies)
  • American Sign Language (ASL) and foreign language interpreters and Support Service Providers (SSPs) working in community and clinic-based settings, and clients who are both deaf and blind
  • Health-related support personnel (lab staff, mortuary staff who have contact with corpses, pharmacy staff)
  • Schools of allied health students, residents and staff
  • Law enforcement and other first responders
  • Louisiana Unified Command Group
  • State Legislators
  • State and local essential COVID emergency response personnel
  • Some elections staff ahead of March and April elections
  • Teachers and any other support staff working on site in K-12 or daycare
In Louisiana as of March 1st, 2021 from the Governor’s Office

The heartbeat of its community, St. Tammany Health System cares for patients and families with excellence, compassion and teamwork. It is recognized for quality, safety and service excellence by CareChex, Leapfrog, Healthgrades, Hospital Compare, Women’s Choice and US News & World Report. St. Tammany Parish Hospital Service District No. 1 and Ochsner Health work together in partnership to improve the community’s health and quality of life. Together, west St. Tammany’s top two independent health leaders represent the most complete system of care, aligning behind the common goals of improving access, expanding specialty care and making care affordable. Under their agreement, each retains its autonomy; neither manages nor owns the other. Self-supporting, not-for-profit STHS is A+ rated by Fitch and receives no tax funding. More at StTammany.health

Local News Parish News

St. Tammany Parish Moves into Phase III — St. Tammany Rental Assistance Program Update

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From St. Tammany Parish Government:

St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper announced today that St. Tammany Parish is now in Phase III.

“Simply by doing their part, our citizenry directly contributed to our movement into Phase III, as we saw a sustained decrease in positive cases and hospitalizations. We want to see this trend continue through perseverance in taking personal responsibility, wearing a mask, social distancing and staying home when feeling ill. If you are eligible for the vaccine and wish to receive it, please get it at the first opportunity,” President Cooper said.

In Phase III, the majority of businesses, including restaurants and salons, will be able to open at 75 percent of their capacity; indoor gatherings and event centers will be capped at 50 percent of their capacity but limited to 250 people; religious services will no longer have capacity limits; social distancing is strongly encouraged and masking will still be required; and bars in all parishes will be able to open for indoor service at 25 percent capacity, not to exceed 250 people. Bars in parishes where the percent positivity is 5 percent or lower for two consecutive weeks may have indoor service at 50 percent capacity, not to exceed 250 people. St. Tammany’s percent positivity is currently 6.90, according to numbers released Wednesday, March 2, 2021, from the Louisiana Department of Health. Complete details of the Executive Order with can be found at this: www.stpgov.org/covid19-declarations.

St. Tammany Rental Assistance Program or STRAP Update

The St. Tammany Rental Assistance Program (STRAP) which will utilize CARES Act funding from the Department of Treasury, is mobilizing. This assistance is available to assist households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. St. Tammany Parish Government estimates fully implementing the program and scheduling appointments in the beginning of April 2021.

“We know that our citizens need this funding, and we are moving forward to put all of the components in place to roll out our program to make it available to them. We feel it is important for the public to be aware of our progress and have an avenue to pose questions,” President Cooper said. “When the final details are complete and we begin to accept applications, we will make a public announcement.”

Rental assistance provided to an eligible household must not be duplicative of any other federally funded rental assistance provided to such household. Beginning in early April, 2021, the St. Tammany Rental Assistance Program (STRAP) will begin accepting applications for the following households:

  • Households with an income at or below 80 percent of the area median income (AMI)
  • Households that have experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19
  • And households that are at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability

Support documentation will be required prior to issuance of payments.

In early April, there will be two locations for assistance: one on Koop Drive in Mandeville and one in Slidell at the Towers building. Neither location is open yet; however, information on this program can be found at: www.stpgov.org/departments/grants. Applicants who have questions should contact the Department of Grants by email at:  STRAP@stpgov.org.

Read more:

Parish News

St. Tammany Parish Government Saves Over $2 Million to Date Through New Approach to Projects

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stp news

From St. Tammany Parish Government:

stp news

St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper has changed the way district infrastructure projects are initiated in St. Tammany through bundling district road projects in close proximity to save money. Four separate projects initiated in 2020 and implemented using the bundling approach produced a combined cost savings of $2,067,640.40. Because of this immense return and successful implementation, all district road packages will utilize this new model going forward.

“Saving money at the start of each project simply by using this new approach — grouping projects in the same area — means we have more money available to invest in the next project,” said Mike Cooper, St. Tammany Parish President. “Our infrastructure investments are worth every dollar we spend. This is a new way to meet a fundamental need in a fiscally responsible way.” 

President Cooper worked closely with the St. Tammany Parish Council, the Department of Public Works, the Department of Engineering, and the Department of Procurement to implement the new process.

Parish News

Parish Urges Electricity Conservation During Winter Weather Event

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From St. Tammany Parish Government:

Please see an important message about electricity usage during this Winter weather.

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) has declared a Maximum Generation Emergency Event due to forced generation outages and below normal temperatures. The entire State of Louisiana and every electric utility company’s consumers are being asked to curtail electricity usage to relieve the demand.

Due to MISO’s notice, our supplier Cleco Cajun (LaGen) is requesting WSTE to appeal to our members to reduce usage.

All members must reduce their usage from 5:00pm -10:00pm (peak hours) in an effort to prevent a forced rolling outage tonight.

This is an advanced notice!!  If the grid becomes dangerously overloaded and at risk the next step will be an immediate power outage from one or more substations. The directive of areas affected does not come from WSTE but our supplier. 

IF we can not achieve the critical reductions necessary in this emergency, a forced outage would be the next step. We will not be able to tell you where until we are informed. Once the outage occurs it usually takes about an hour or two to slowly bring each area back up.

Please prepare now and help us prevent a forced outage. Below are steps you can take:

  • Lower your thermostat to at least 68 degrees or lower.
  • Delay household chores such as laundry and running the dishwasher.
  • Unplug unnecessary appliances.
  • Close blinds and shades on windows.

Sign up now for ALERT St. Tammany, here. This is the Parish-wide emergency notification system for St. Tammany Parish Government. If we can’t reach you, we can’t alert you.

Local News Parish News

Dropping Temperatures Trigger Cold Weather Preparations

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From St. Tammany Parish Government:

With predictions from the National Weather Service of sustained freezing temperatures early next week, St. Tammany Parish Government has instituted its severe cold weather protocol.

“Citizens should prepare now for freezing temperatures early next week. Plan to protect your pets, pipes and plants, and ensure elderly neighbors and family members have a safe and effective way to heat their homes,” said Mike Cooper, St. Tammany Parish President. “Citizens should stay tuned to local weather and monitor road conditions as the temperatures drop.”

The National Weather Service forecast indicates the coldest temperatures in our region will occur early Tuesday and could drop into the low twenties. Wintry precipitation remains in the forecast for late Sunday for areas in the state north of St. Tammany, but forecasters remain uncertain as to whether or not it will reach our area.

The Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness is in close contact with the National Weather Service and is continuing to monitor the situation. Tammany Utilities advises that in the event of a Hard Freeze Warning, all residents should take the necessary precautions, like wrapping their pipes to prevent pipes from freezing and potentially bursting. The Parish’s Department of Public Works has placed designated employees on notice for activation if the weather dictates, and it becomes necessary to prep roads for freezing conditions.

Residents with elderly individuals in their families are asked to make certain they have a safe and effective way to heat their residences. Residents who know of at-risk families or neighbors that could fall victim to severe cold weather should plan to check on them during the duration of the predicted winter weather to confirm their safety.

The Department of Animal Services asks pet and livestock owners to take precautions to safeguard the wellbeing of animals in their care, including bringing pets indoors and preventing water sources from freezing over for livestock.

Local News Parish News

Parish President Mike Cooper Calls on Citizens to Continue Prevention Practices Through the Mardi Gras Holiday

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From St. Tammany Parish Government:

As we head into the Mardi Gras holiday weekend, St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper is relying on each and every St. Tammany resident to take personal responsibility, and heed the advice of medical professionals to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“St. Tammany Parish, like much of Louisiana, is preparing to celebrate the Mardi Gras holiday, albeit in different, more creative ways. We ask each of you to refrain from large gatherings — especially with people from outside of your own household, wear a mask in public, and continue to take precautions.”

President Cooper went on to say, “We are seeing our numbers decline with each passing week. Let’s plan to keep it that way, as we take the necessary precautions during Mardi Gras. Our goals have always been to lessen the burden on our hospitals and healthcare professionals who have worked tirelessly to care for COVID-19 patients for nearly a year, and to balance the health of our community with the health of our economy. With everyone working together, we can achieve these goals and get through this pandemic.”

View President Cooper’s taped message, here.

For daily updates on COVID-19 including daily data for St. Tammany from the Louisiana Department of Health, visit www.stpgov.org/covid19.

Local News Parish News

COVID Vaccine Eligibility Expanded by Louisiana Department of Health

Published by:

Update from St. Tammany Health System:

Governor announced minimum age eligibility reduced to 65 and first responder rules widened

Louisiana will expand eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines on Monday (Feb. 8), Gov. John Bel Edwards announced in a Thursday press conference, lowering the minimum age from 70 to 65 and adding all first responders, not just those providing healthcare and vaccinations.

Those eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, based on criteria outlined by Louisiana Department of Health at LDH.la.gov/CovidVaccine/, can call 985-898-4001 to schedule an appointment through St. Tammany Health System.

When vaccines first became publicly available in December, they were limited only to Louisianans 70 and older, due to that group’s increased vulnerability to complications from the disease, and to healthcare professionals, due to their increased chances of exposure.

Increased availability of vaccine made it possible to widen eligibility, Edwards said.

“This is great news in the fight against COVID-19,” said Dr. Mike Hill, an infectious disease specialist at St. Tammany Health System. “The quickest and safest way for us to defeat this pandemic is to get as many people vaccinated as possible, and we’re excited for the opportunity to protect more of our neighbors here in St. Tammany.”

Dr. Hill added that both the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine – each of which requires two doses – have proven to be both safe and effective in combating the virus.

“I got my vaccine in December, and I strongly encourage everyone in St. Tammany Parish to do the same as soon as you become eligible,” he said.

The expansion of vaccine eligibility comes at a crucial time, as COVID infections appear to be leveling off in Louisiana following a holiday season spike that stressed hospitals statewide. It also comes just as health officials warn against mass gatherings on Mardi Gras, which is Feb. 16 this year, and which could see another surge of infections.

Specific details about eligibility in Louisiana can be found at LDH.la.gov/CovidVaccine/.