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Update from Councilman Mark Verret – CPD Update, Sewer & Road Improvements

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This update is from Covington City Councilman Mark Verret, District E:

Largely due to the efforts at increasing police pay, I am pleased to report that we have six new recruits who have undergone training at the Police Academy and three newly hired, experienced officers with updated Field Training. It is unbelievable that we have been so severely understaffed for so long.  As can easily be seen on a daily basis, we need a fully staffed department as we seek increased compliance with speeding, running stop signs, etc., in addition to daily patrol duties of responding to calls.  We will have five officers on duty along with a fully staffed traffic division.  Thank you all for your support of our initiative in this regard.  Here are our new recruits “enjoying” training…

As we continue to move forward, I would also like to address the continuing deplorable condition of our city streets.  Unfortunately, many of our streets in downtown and especially in Old Covington are in pretty bad shape.  Most of this is caused by sewer point repairs. Unlike many other nearby municipalities, many of our potholes are the result of actually fixing the broken lines.  

The aging sewer lines of Covington have suffered for far too long with many leaks. On a sunny day, our waste water treatment plant receives and treats about 1,000,000 gallons of waste water and on a rainy day, we receive about 9,000,000 gallons of waste water. 

For the past few years, we have been focused on repairing these breaks in the line. In many cases, the “patches” you drive over are the result of an in-depth excavation and pipe repair. After the breaks are repaired, a synthetic lining is inserted into each of the old pipes, giving us an “almost new” pipe. There has been a directed effort at repairing these sewer lines across the city. But our streets are in desperate need of repair as well. As we move forward, I will continue to fight for increased budgeting for the actual street repairs. You may have heard and I am pleased to report that we were able to get funding to repair Boston Street.

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If you should encounter an unusually bad pothole, please notify our Public Works Department at (985) 898-4700.

The City of Covington Public Works Department is responsible for maintenance and improvements for the city’s entire infrastructure. This includes sewer plant operations, sewage collection system, water wells, lift stations, traffic signs, drainage and city streets.

The Public Works Department is committed to the following goals:

  • To provide prompt, courteous and professional customer service to the community
  • To improve the quality of life within the community
  • To strive for high standards in organizational productivity and efficiency
  • To keep all city infrastructure maintained at the highest level possible to provide effective and safe use

For after-hours sewer or water emergencies:
Call (985) 898-4700 (24 hours/7 days a week)

Non-Emergency Service Requests:
Phone Requests:  (985) 898-4700
Fax Requests:      (985) 898-4729
Email Requests:   publicworks@covla.com

If you are emailing the Dept. of Public Works about a utility (water pressure or sewer backup) issue or a street issue that cannot wait until the next business day, please call their office number at (985) 898-4700.  This number is answered 24/7 regardless if it is after normal business hours, weekends or holidays.

Although we encounter setbacks from time to time, together we’ll keep moving forward to advance our position with measured progress.

Mark W. Verret
Councilman, District E
mverret@covla.com

Local News

City Council Update from Councilman Mark Verret – Increase Millage & Police Pay

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The following is an update from Covington City Councilman Mark Verret, District E

There will be 2 council meetings held in July.

Due to an examination and vote concerning the millage rates, we will have 2 meetings in July. I am not in favor of increasing property taxes and I will be voting so accordingly. For our Covington City Council website and additional information, click here.

Our regularly scheduled City Council meeting will be held on July 7th at 6pm. Due to an extensive Agenda, including a discussion and vote on St. Peter’s gate proposals, the Council is looking to increase capacity and will more than likely hold it’s meeting at Bogue Falaya Hall located behind City Hall. This would increase seating capacity as the meeting is expected to be well attended. Please monitor the city’s website for additional information as it becomes available.

At our City Council meeting, I will be introducing a proposed Ordinance to increase and supplement both police and fire department employees pay for those that obtain additional educational training over and above that which is required today. As you know, I have long advocated for an increase in pay to attract, recruit, maintain and retain our public safety personnel. The proposed Ordinance is as follows:

AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF COVINGTON
PROVIDING ASSISTANCE TO THOSE FULL-TIME POLICE AND FIRE DEPARTMENT EMPLOYEES WHO HAVE OBTAINED AND COMPLETED ADDITIONAL UNDERGRADUATE AND GRADUATE PROGRAMS AT ACCREDITED INSTITUTIONS

WHEREAS, it has been determined that the City of Covington and the public at large gain and benefit from the additional education and training provided through accredited undergraduate and graduate programs, and
WHEREAS, the Covington City Council has determined that the City of Covington will provide additional financial assistance to its full-time police and fire department employees; and
WHEREAS, the accreditation compliance will be limited to nationally recognized institutions of higher educational learning and approved by each department head and incorporated into their respective policies and procedures; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED by the City Council of the City of Covington, at its regular session convened, that they authorize the City of Covington to provide supplemental pay to those full-time police and fire department employees who have completed undergraduate and graduate degree programs at schools properly accredited in compliance with this Act, with school records serving as the basis for determining payments, per HOURS COMPLETED and include ADDITIONAL YEARLY COMPENSATION.  

I will introduce the proposed Ordinance at the July 7th meeting and it will be discussed and voted on during the August 4th meeting.

While it may not be required, having post-secondary education allows our force to better adapt to proposed community initiatives, including public outreach and crime/fire prevention. Many officers throughout the country and in many Louisiana municipalities receive an education bonus just for having an education beyond the required high school diploma or GED. For example, according to a study published on the FBI’s website, only about 1 percent of all police departments require a college degree. However, almost half of all respondents reported that they had either taken classes or earned a bachelor’s degree. Public safety is trending towards additional education beyond that of a high school diploma and the City of Covington needs to join in that direction. Improving and advancing their career field is an added benefit and we should do all we can to further this goal. As stated in multiple articles on increased pay for additional educational training, there is a greater value on educated officers and employees because of the changing nature of police and fire departments. The ability to adapt to new developments and critically solve problems in the rapidly-changing police and fire professions is of paramount importance.

And as stated earlier, the City Council will hold an additional meeting on July 21st at 5:30pm, in the Council Chambers at 222 East Kirkland St., to discuss and vote on the millage proposals.

Mark W. Verret
Covington City Council
District E

Now live-stream Covington City Council Meetings on the City’s new YouTube channel! Click here to visit!

Featured Posts General Local Events Local News

Botsford, Verret Candidates for Covington City Council

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John Botsford lives in the Savannahs neighborhood in District B. After the flood in 2016, John began attending city council meetings and decided to run for office to be a voice for the people of District B. He wants to serve this community the same way that he served the nation when he was in the Navy. John served as a signalman on the USS Fox from 1986-1990, proudly serving and completed escort missions in the Persian Gulf.
After the Navy, John attended Mesa Community College in San Diego as well as earned a Journeyman Carpenter Degree from Associated General Contractors. Later, he worked in the telecom industry earning IT certifications from Fujitsu Training Programs.
Today, John Botsford uses his broad educational background and experience in the business community and maritime industry working at the Maritime Pilots Institute in downtown Covington. Currently, John serves on the committee to determine the fate of the St. Tammany Parish Emergency Operations Center and on the Savannahs Homeowners Association.
\John has lived in many different parts of St. Tammany parish and traveled the world. His job brought him to Covington in 1993 when he fell in love with the city—the culture, the cleanliness, the friendliness of the people. He moved to Covington in 2012 and has lived in the Savannahs in District B since January of 2014. He was attracted to this area because of the zero flood zone, the close proximity to downtown, and the hometown feel of the neighborhoods. As a husband and father of five, John wants the same things for our district as you do—to continue to enjoy the vibrant downtown and safe neighborhoods while solving the drainage and traffic problems. He feels the way to achieve these goals is through smart growth and continuing to partner with the parish and the state to improve our infrastructure.
District B is a great place to live and we all want it to stay that way. John feels if we work together we can do this together because we all want the same things. John has the same concerns as all of his neighbors in the Savannahs, Covington Point, the Ozone, downtown and the West 30’s because he lives, shops, and works in this district.
If John Botsford is your councilman, he will be your voice. You will be his eyes and ears. He will ask for your feedback and will bring your concerns to the council. Together we are strong, and our voices need to be heard!
If you would like to meet John or support his campaign in any way, you can reach him by email at Johnb4covington@yahoo.com. You can find him on Facebook at John Botsford for Covington City Council District B and at Johnb4covington.com.

Mark Verret Announces Candidacy

I am announcing my candidacy for City Council District E. After much consideration, it is my intention to be a candidate in the upcoming municipal election.
Covington has been blessed with a tremendous amount of resources starting first with its resilient residents. With the ever increasing amount of growth, it is imperative to have a clear vision towards the future while preserving the very rich cultural and historical past. The election for City Council allows for an opportunity to bring new ideas and a fresh face to the city.
By way of introduction, I am a practicing attorney who has had the distinct pleasure in representing many of our local residents and businesses, as well as many of our local governmental entities. This experience allows for a unique background to deal with the many issues our city faces in the years ahead. Issues such as infrastructure, drainage and preservation are paramount issues facing our city today.
I am encouraged by the reception I have received concerning my candidacy and I look forward to meeting with the residents of our district in the upcoming weeks. Election Day is March 30, with early voting March 16-23.
I humbly ask for your vote and support as we bring a freshness of outlook to our great city. Read more about Mark Verret online at the New Orleans Advocate.

General Local News

Meghan Garcia Announces Candidacy for Covington City Council District E

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Covington, La. – Local arts educator and cultural community leader, Meghan Garcia, announced her candidacy for Covington District E Councilperson in the upcoming March election. 
Garcia is a Talented Art teacher in St. Tammany Parish, with 10 years of teaching experience.  She has dedicated over 12 years of experience working in cultural community service within Covington and St. Tammany Parish.  An 8th generation resident of Covington, Meghan attended St. Peter’s Elementary School and St. Scholastica Academy.  Garcia earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Loyola University and also attended Charles University in Prague for Cultural Arts Studies.  With experience in diverse arts related jobs both abroad, in San Francisco and Pittsburgh, Meghan returned to her hometown as a member of Americorps Louisiana’s first Public Ally Leadership Program.  She was assigned to the St. Tammany Art Association as Education Coordinator, and was then promoted to its Director.

“As Council person I will work hard to preserve the small town charm and unmatched natural beauty that make Covington home for us.  As the mother of an 11-year-old boy, I have a deep commitment to sustaining and growing a healthy community. My hope for him is to one day work and live here.  I want to be part of the growth of Covington’s potential as a thriving cultural mecca, rich in the arts, business opportunity, and overall sense of community well-being.  I believe in smart planning and development that fosters growth and still preserves the environment we love most about Covington” Garcia states.
Meghan has been involved in community service in Covington most of her life.  At the St. Tammany Art Association, she spearheaded the planning and organizing of many city wide cultural events, including Spring and Fall for Art, community outreach and art education.  She graduated from the Leadership Program of 2009 at the age of 27. She has served on the Healing Arts Initiative Committee of St. Tammany Hospital. Garcia is also a past president of the Cultural Alliance of the Americas, a local non-profit that brings music into schools and concerts to the general public.  She continues to be involved in local affairs as co-founder of a new music festival in the Bogue Falaya Park, “Falaya Fest” and as an active member of the CBA.
“Dedicated people working together can make a real difference.  I am committed to honest, productive and creative change to Covington as a Councilperson.  I look forward to listening to the needs of fellow citizens and joining our city leaders to better serve our community”, says Garcia.