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Local News Parish News

St. Tammany Parish Launches Public Involvement for New Directions 2040

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From St. Tammany Parish Government:

stp news

St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper announced the first round of public involvement opportunities for New Directions 2040 — the update to the Parish’s Comprehensive Plan. These events will introduce the initiative, explain the role of the Comprehensive Plan in decision-making on land use and infrastructure, and show how residents, businesses, and other stakeholders can participate. St. Tammany citizens will learn about upcoming opportunities to express their vision, values and priorities for the Parish over the next 20 years.

“As I stated when we kicked off this initiative, my goal is to hear the desires and concerns of citizens and business owners and work to achieve a vision that will guide our growth and shape our community. These information sessions are the start of developing this vision,” said President Cooper. “This is where the opportunity begins for every citizen to have a stake in authorship of the plan and in our future. I invite everyone to have a seat at the table and offer input.”

The combination of in-person “pop-up” events and virtual informational sessions will take place at the following locations and times:

  • Thursday, November 12 from 6-7 PM // Virtual Kickoff and Info Session – Registration required
  • Friday, November 13 from 2-6 PM  // Coquille Parks and Recreation, 13505 LA-1085, Covington
  • Saturday, November 14 from 10AM – 1PM // Camp Salmen Nature Park, 35122 Parish Pkwy, Slidell
  • Sunday, November 15 from 10 AM-3 PM // Madisonville Maker’s Market, Madisonville Ball Park & Playground, Pine Street, Madisonville
  • Monday, November 16 from 10 AM-1PM // Folsom Farmers Market, Giddy Up, 82292 LA-25, Folsom
  • Thursday, November 19 from 6-7 PM // Virtual Info Session #2 – Registration required

Today the Parish also launches the project website, where a visioning survey, ideas board, interactive map, and more information is available: www.newdirections2040.com.

All pop-up events will occur outdoors. Project team staff will follow Louisiana Department of Health guidelines with respect to wearing protective facial coverings.  Social distancing measures will be followed.

The planned outcome of the Comprehensive Plan update process will achieve several objectives. It will provide a factual basis for land-use decision-making; educate and inform the public; resolve points of conflict; and reduce arbitrary decision-making through establishing plan perimeters. The entire process to finalize a draft of the plan for a public hearing, and final presentation of a draft for adoption to all Parish governing bodies, is expected to be complete in late 2021 to early 2022.

To subscribe to project updates, please register to receive the project newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/heQOrv

General Local News Opinion

Local Volunteers Host Fracking 101 – Educating the Public on Hydraulic Fracturing

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Large turnout for informational meeting held at Castine Center in Mandeville

Large turnout for informational meeting held at Castine Center in Mandeville – photo by Chelsea Cochrane

Since late April or early May, one could say that “frack” has become a four-letter word in St. Tammany. Of course, it actually has five letters and the word is the crass short name for the process of hydraulic fracturing, which we are told has been practiced safely for over 60 years. In fact, it was invented by Halliburton, the company responsible for the concrete sleeve that failed at the BP offshore platform, Deepwater Horizon. With litigation ongoing from that incident, it is not difficult to imagine a skeptical public, dismissive of reassurances from the Parish and the operators (in this case, Helis Oil and Gas Co.) that safety is of utmost importance with regard to onshore operations. The citizens of St. Tammany have consistently attended public discussions of the proposed operations for the last several months, resulting in standing room crowds at various forums and council meetings. In response to a genuine need for substantive information, a small group of dedicated volunteers have secured a location in downtown Covington to help educate the public on issues raised by hydraulic fracturing.

Emma Cuppay, 90 years old, at information meeting with sign

Emma Cuppay, 90 years old, at information meeting with sign – photo by Chelsea Cochrane

Fracking 101 is located in the Frederick Building right next to Shop Soul Boutique on Boston Street. You will find current documentation regarding social, environmental and health impacts of hydraulic fracturing from current and past operations across the nation. There was no scientific basis for objection for many years, mainly because no studies existed, and the industry was exempt from regulatory agencies thanks to the “Halliburton Loophole.” The amount of information available today is both staggering and conclusive, and the kind folks at Fracking 101 have put it all together for you to view. Contrary to media coverage that has a tendency to marginalize those opposed to fracking, the opposition consists of caring and dedicated citizens of various professional backgrounds who are weary of being mislead by their local governments and lobbying groups.

Young girl with sign at press conference in Abita Springs

Young girl with sign at press conference in Abita Springs – photo by Chelsea Cochrane

Private groups like the Northshore Business Council regurgitate numbers with regard to the Oil and Gas Industry’s contribution to the region, while neglecting the growing disillusionment of corporate welfare. Also ignored are the problems that arise from food and medicine that is intertwined with the petrochemical industry, with the taxpayer ultimately paying the price. In fact, the Louisiana State Legislative Auditor’s Office recently issued a report highlighting the inadequacy of the very agency that supposedly regulates the industry (and just so happens to issue the permits for operators), the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources and Office of Conservation, offering no less than 20 separate recommendations for improvement. That is just one of the many documents available at Fracking 101. Learn more at fracking-101.webs.com. Timothy Gates is a musican and correspondant for Covington Weekly. Photos by Chelsea Cochrane. covweekly@media9productions.com

Woman holds up sign at parish council meeting

Woman holds up sign at parish council meeting – photo by Chelsea Cochrane

 

 

Local Events Local News

Coffee with Mayor Cooper Scheduled for July 30th at the Covington Trailhead

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Covington Mayor Mike Cooper

Covington Mayor Mike Cooper

The City of Covington and Mayor Mike Cooper will host the quarterly event Coffee with Mayor Cooper on Wednesday, July 30th from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Covington Trailhead.

This is not a press conference, but merely a conversation between administration and citizens. Attendees may wish to bring chairs as seating is limited. Coffee and pastries will be provided by Campbell’s Coffee & Tea. For more information visit www.covla.com.

Local Events Local News

City Council To Address SSA Expansion Plan At Meeting

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The Covington City Council will decide on the “hot topic” St. Scholastica Academy expansion plan on May 20th. The plan, which was approved by the Historic District Committee on April 8th, was appealed by local area residents opposed to the expansion. The proposition has reached such momentum that it has outgrown the City Council Chambers, forcing this May 20th Council meeting to be moved to the School Board building on Jefferson Avenue, across from the City Hall. All those interested in this issue, whether for or against, are encouraged to attend this meeting, from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Learn more about the opposition at welovehistoriccovington.com, and more about SSA’s proposition at www.ssacad.com.

Annie Spell has produced four videos in opposition to the SSA expansion plans.  These well composed videos can be viewed on the We Love Historic Covington website.

Current Expansion Plans

Current Expansion Plans