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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

City Updates Local Events Local News

Groundbreaking & Downtown Roadway Projects

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The City of Covington held a groundbreaking ceremony at Gulf Coast Bank for the Boston Street Overlay Project Tuesday morning. Mayor Mark thanked Senator Patrick McMath and Representative Mark Wright for their help in bringing the project to fruition, explaining that the Overlay Project was a result of needed improvements to the roadway after addressing sewerage and drainage issues over the last year. Parish President Cooper made a few brief statements and the group took some pictures. Other city officials in attendance included City Councilmen Mark Verret, Joey Roberts, John Botsford, Peter Lewis and Larry Rolling; Chief of Police Stephen Culotta, Fire Chief Gary Blocker and Assistant Fire Chief Steven Michel; representatives of City administration and Gulf Coast Bank.

(l – r) Parish President Mike Cooper, State Representative Mark Wright, Mayor Mark Johnson, State Senator Patrick McMath, Councilman Larry Rolling, Councilman Peter Lewis, Councilman Mark Verret, Councilman John Botsford and Councilman Joey Roberts.

For more information about the City of Covington, call 985-892-1811 and visit them online at covla.com, where you can also sign up for Mayor Mark’s E-list Sign Up! Find the City of Covington on Facebook.

City of Covington Getting Ready For Its First Roundabout

Covington is preparing for its first roundabout that DOTD will build at the intersection of Jefferson and 21st. Roundabouts in the area, including Abita Springs and Highway 59, have received favorable response and keep traffic flowing.

Proposed roundabout at the intersection of Jefferson and 21st.

Mayor Mark reports that:

“Although DOTD is responsible for design and construction of the road, we (the City) are responsible for the necessary utility line relocations.

We have completed moving the utility lines. DOTD is at 60% design completion.

The FAQ: Can’t we put a fountain, statue or plantings in the center?

The Answer: DOTD frowns upon anything which might obstruct the sight triangle within the circle.”

Sign up for Mayor Mark’s e-blast at covla.com

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.

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

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.

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

Brand-New Tammany Trace Signage Offers Enhanced Features for Patrons

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From St. Tammany Parish Government:

stp news

Tammany Trace patrons can expect to see new, upgraded signage along the 28-mile Rails-to-Trails conversion within the coming weeks. The signage, made possible with support from the Northshore Homebuilders Charitable Trust, retains features from the previous version, while offering greater detail including: a larger, more thorough map with icons indicating points of interest and the amenities offered at each; the option to use a Quick Response, or QR code, to access the entire library of Tammany Trace Rules with your mobile device; and an updated mileage chart including the newly opened extension into Camp Salmen Nature Park. The original signs, also produced with the support of the Northshore Homebuilders Charitable Trust, were produced in 2009.

“The Tammany Trace is a unique and valued amenity here in St. Tammany. The upgrade of these maps gives patrons more tools to fully enjoy this beautiful outdoor treasure,” said Mike Cooper, St. Tammany Parish President. “We encourage local patrons and visitors to utilize these maps to make the most of their time on the Tammany Trace.”

“Since 1995, the St. Tammany (now Northshore) Home Builders Charitable Trust has invested over $500,000 into our local charities,” said Amy Ybarzabal, Executive Director of the Northshore Home Builders Association. “This donation to the Tammany Trace is one way we fulfill our mission to support legislative, economic, and educational initiatives that promote and protect the American Dream of home ownership. The Trace enhances the quality of life on the Northshore.”

The Northshore Homebuilders Charitable Trust contributed just over $3,000.00 to the production of the signs. Tammany Trace crews expect to have all signage installed by the end of February 2021.

Watch the ceremonial installation here.

Parish News

STP President Mike Cooper Again Calls on Citizens to Remain Vigilant in Prevention Practices

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From St. Tammany Parish Government:

St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper Again Calls on Citizens to Remain Vigilant in Prevention Practices as COVID-19 Numbers Continue to Rise

As the Louisiana Department of Health reports a percent positivity rate in St. Tammany Parish above 10% for the third consecutive week, St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper again asks residents to remain strong in their commitment to best prevention practices to slow down the spread of COVID-19.

“We all need to continue to stay the course and exercise personal responsibility as we take every precaution necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19. It is critically important as we see our percent positivity rate continue to climb, our hospital staffs strained, and our medical resources negatively impacted,” Cooper said. “We have a mask mandate in Louisiana as well as here in St. Tammany — every person over the age of eight is required to wear a mask in public, including outdoor public spaces. We should all continue to physically distance, avoid large gatherings, and practice personal hygiene including frequent handwashing and sneezing into your elbow.

“If you feel ill, stay home to avoid infecting others. Consider making an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine if you are eligible. We must continue to work together to protect the most vulnerable among us while retaining our medical resources. We are optimistic that these vaccines will help us to move through to the next phase of this pandemic. We need everyone to continue to do their part to ensure that we get there.”

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

Art Event Parish News

‘Percent for Art’ Open House Showcases the Safe Haven Healing Arts Collection

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From St. Tammany Parish Government:

from the Safe Haven website

St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper welcomed members of the arts and health communities as they came together at the Safe Haven Health and Wellness Complex, Thursday, December 10, 2020. The event — the Percent for Art Open House — was an art opening for 31 Healing Arts collections procured through a Call to Artists earlier this year, as well as donations from local philanthropists.

“With the addition of this healing artwork, we move closer to the opening of the Safe Haven Health and Wellness Center. This collection is vital to the facility, as we want each and every person who joins us to begin their healing journey to do so with dignity and a sense of hope,” Cooper said. “In addition to adding a healing component to the Safe Haven Health and Wellness Center, this Call to Artists offered an opportunity to our arts community to find work during this uncertain time and to add to the success of Safe Haven.”

Cooper opened the event by thanking members of the St. Tammany Commission on Cultural Affairs, local philanthropists, arts advocates Carlos Sanchez and David Fennelly, and Safe Haven Director Mary Burckell for their investment in Safe Haven and their work to bring this collection to the Safe Haven Health and Wellness Center.

Over 40 artists with over 280 proposals responded to the Call to Artists in the summer of 2020, issued by the St. Tammany Commission on Cultural Affairs and St. Tammany Parish Government. A five-member Art Advisory Panel selected the final collections for installation. Two additional pieces were donated by Carlos Sanchez and David Fennelly. Special thanks to the Advisory Panel members: Cindy Pulling, Administrative Director for NAMI St. Tammany; James Davis, St. Tammany Parish Councilman District 7; Laura Prisco, Chairwoman, St. Tammany Commission on Cultural Affairs; Jennifer Bushnell, Commissioner, St. Tammany Commission on Cultural Affairs; and Mary D. Burckell, Director of Safe Haven.

The artwork was funded through the Percent for Art Program at a cost of $24,400. This program stems from an ordinance passed in 2002 which authorizes the allocation of funds for art in the construction of public buildings. For this project selections were made specifically to enhance the healing environment of the facility. All artwork was installed in adherence to required guidelines for a Behavioral Health facility. You may view the Safe Haven Collection here.

Future projects slated for completion at the Safe Haven Health and Wellness Complex include: bedroom murals, an outdoor sculpture, exam room murals, and landscaping. See descriptions of each here. For information on involvement in pending projects at the Safe Haven Health and Wellness Complex, please contact Mary Burckell, Director of Safe Haven at : mburckell@stpgov.org.

The Safe Haven Health and Wellness Center houses St. Tammany’s first 24-bed Crisis Receiving Center, as well as a third Federally Qualified Health Center to serve the people of St. Tammany. It is expected to open in early 2021.

About Safe Haven

Safe Haven will provide a collaborative healing environment for the behavioral health continuum by creating a high-quality, coordinated, sustainable and humane network of care anchored in St. Tammany Parish. The facility will serve as a comprehensive multi- faceted program and a “single point of entry” into the Behavioral Health continuum of care for law enforcement, the judiciary and local area hospitals. To sign up for updates on the progress of Safe Haven visit www.safehavenstp.org.

Parish News

STP Comprehensive Plan ‘New Directions 2040’ Steering Committee Members Announced

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stp news

from St. Tammany Parish Government:

stp news

New Directions 2040 Steering Committee Members Announced as Initial Visioning Phase of Plan Update Continues

St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper and the St. Tammany Parish Council Members announced their appointees for the 21-member Steering Committee of New Directions 2040. The steering committee members will consider the work products of the consultant team led by the firm of Asakura Robinson. Committee members will provide direction to the team for the updated goals, objectives, and tasks to promote resilient and sustainable development in the Parish.

“The update to our Comprehensive Plan will guide and shape our future. Choosing people from all areas of St. Tammany was of great importance to me,” Cooper said. “I want to thank all of my appointments for volunteering their time and agreeing to be a part of this process and this group, as they will join the other 14 members of the committee that were appointed by the Parish Council to provide guidance and expertise as we develop the plan.”

During the first phase of the public input visioning process, 154 people participated in meetings either in-person or via Zoom, 38 surveys were collected, and 72 ideas were submitted. Citizens can continue to complete surveys and submit ideas at the New Directions 2040 survey link here. More public meetings are slated for 2021.

The 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 .

The New Directions 2040 Steering Committee Members are listed below: 

St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper appointees:

Rachael Catalanotto – Mandeville
Rachael is a partner in the law firm of Talley, Anthony, Hughes and Knight, LLC.
Donna McDonald – Slidell
Donna is the President of McDonald Construction LLC in Slidell.
Denis Bechac – Mandeville
Denis manages U.S. Business Development at Smartmatic and former Mayor Pro-Tempore for the City of Mandeville.
David L. Campbell – Folsom
David is a retired attorney who served on the New Directions 2025 Committee. He currently serves on the Advocacy Committee of the Pontchartrain Conservancy.
Bradley Cook – Covington
Bradley is an Advisor with Stirling Properties commercial real estate team in the Covington office.
Thomas Thompson – Eden Isles
Thomas is a Member of the East St. Tammany Storm Protection Committee.
Karen Ducre-Raymond – Lacombe
Karen is the President of the Bayou Lacombe Museum.

St. Tammany Parish Council Appointees:

Marty Dean, Councilman District 1 – TBA
David Fitzgerald, Councilman District 2 –S. Dale Jenkins
Martha Cazaubon, Councilwoman District 3 – A.J. Davis
Michael Lorino, Jr., Council Chairman District 4 – Chris Masingill
Rykert O. Toledano, Jr., Council Vice Chairman District 5 – Shelby LaSalle
Cheryl Tanner, Councilwoman District 6 – Chris Hnatyshyn
James J. Davis, Councilman District 7- Carlo Hernandez
Chris Canulette, Councilman District 8 – Dave Doherty
Mike M. Smith, Councilman District 9 – Gene Bellisario
Maureen “MO” O’Brien, Councilwoman District 10 – Richard Lambert
Steve Stefancik, Councilman District 11 – Ed Potivent
Jerry Binder, Councilman District 12 – Bob Beck
Jake A. Airey, Councilman District 13 – Jim Walter
Thomas J. “T.J.” Smith, Councilman District 14 – Lester Mayho

Local News Parish News

St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper Announces Decision on 2021 Mardi Gras Parades

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From St. Tammany Parish Government:

St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper announced today that 2021 Mardi Gras Parades will not roll in St. Tammany. The decision was finalized early Thursday, after consultation with Dr. Charles Preston, St. Tammany Parish Coroner, St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Randy Smith, local fire districts, local police departments and a consensus of local mayors.

“This decision was made after much discussion and thoughtful deliberation. We have taken in to consideration the health, safety and welfare of our citizens and the fact that we remain in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic with numbers continuing to rise,” Cooper said. “We want to discourage any event that will draw large crowds and possibly endanger the health of our citizens or possibly put our first responders at risk. I want to thank every leader within our Parish who participated in this conversation. I will continue to do what is right to balance the health of our community with the health of our economy.”

Cooper hosted two conference calls with the above-mentioned parties on separate occasions to discuss the 2021 Mardi Gras season.

Local News Parish News

A Message From the Parish President: COVID Update

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from St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper at STPgov.org:

Good Afternoon,

I want to wish all of you a safe and Happy Thanksgiving. As I said in my statement early last week, we know these holidays are going to be different due to COVID-19. Based on the Governor’s announcement yesterday of a move to a modified Phase 2, we now have some idea of just how different.

The State of Louisiana is facing an increase that, if not addressed, could lead to further increases and strains on our hospitals. We are back to flattening another curve. St. Tammany Parish’s Percent Positivity Rate is above five percent for the last two reported weeks. For the week of 11/5- 11/11 we stand at 6.20 % and for the week of 11/12- 11/18, reported today, we stand at 8.10%. With this information in-hand, it is evident that in addition to asking citizens to wear their masks, physically distance, and avoid large gatherings with people from outside their own households, we can add that we should avoid the scheduling of public events and festivities that will draw large numbers of people. Hopefully by discouraging such events we will see a stabilization of our numbers.

The Governor has provided a synopsis of the major changes to Louisiana’s COVID-19 restrictions here. In addition, the St. Tammany Economic Recovery and Resiliency Advisory Council has updated our Live Safe. Work Safe. Shop Safe. Action Plan to reflect these changes. You may view it here.

I again want to thank Dr. Charles Preston for joining me to provide a video message urging best preventative practices during the holiday season. You may see and share both messages here: President Cooper PSA , Dr. Preston PSA .

I continue to work to balance the health of our community with the health of our economy, and I ask each and every one of you to join me in appealing to every single citizen to continue to work to achieve this balance by taking the steps necessary to slow the spread of this virus. It is imperative that we take personal responsibility to protect ourselves, one another, and most importantly — the most vulnerable among us.

Should you have questions or if I may be of assistance to you in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Have a safe, happy, and healthy Thanksgiving!

Parish News

‘Holiday of Lights’ Drive-Thru at Koop Drive Starts Dec 4

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from Louisiana Northshore:

from Louisiana Northshore

The annual Holiday of Lights in Mandeville returns for its 21st year on weekends beginning December 4, 2020. Typically featuring entertainment from local schools and area performance groups, a modified version of the 21st Annual Holiday of Lights will go forward this Christmas season as a drive-thru only event.

“We are all ready for something positive,” said St Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper. “What could be more positive than keeping this tradition alive even through COVID-19? While we know the experience will be slightly different, we will still have the experience, and that is the most important thing for us — to give our citizens the Holiday of Lights event in 2020.”

from stpgov.org

The Holiday of Lights display will be open on Koop Drive in Mandeville, as a drive-thru only sightseeing event, Fridays through Sundays from 5 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. in December, as well as Christmas Eve and Christmas night. Dates and drive-thru procedures will be announced closer to the kick-off of the event.

For more information, call the Tammany Trace Trailhead at (985) 867-9490.

www.stpgov.org

Local News Parish News

COVID Update – Statement from St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper

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From St. Tammany Parish Government:

St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper (11/16/2020): “I want to wish every citizen of St. Tammany a safe and happy Thanksgiving. We know these holidays are going to be different due to COVID-19. Each one of us can play a part in helping to protect the most vulnerable among us through personal responsibility. We can do this with a few simple steps. Please keep COVID-19 protective measures in mind when planning your holiday.

“When you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, please continue to wear masks, physically distance, avoid large gatherings — especially gatherings with people you have not been in contact with recently. If you are out in the community wear a mask — especially when inside local businesses and restaurants. As I have said in the past, there are several ways to support our local restaurants and small businesses. Shopping with them is one and helping them to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask when you are inside their establishments is another.

“I continue to work to balance the health of our community with the health of our economy, and I ask each and every citizen to continue to work with me to achieve this balance. By protecting ourselves and one other, we can all contribute to our recovery. Please take personal responsibility as we enter into the holidays. Have a safe, healthy, and happy Thanksgiving.”

www.stpgov.org

Increase in COVID Cases Seen Locally and Nationally – St. Tammany Health System

COVID UPDATE FOR NEIGHBORS from St. Tammany Parish Health System—11/16/2020

sths

All local residents should renew awareness and focus on containing the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Today at St. Tammany Health System, 17 patients are in COVID care, an increase from 9 one week ago today. Our inpatient census is 131, and we have discharged 492 patients from COVID care since the pandemic began.

The nation surpassed 10 million cases last week and hit 11 million this week. Our local community is experiencing a spike as well with 8,931 cases to date in St. Tammany Parish according to Louisiana Department of Health. Halloween is believed to have sparked a significant increase in community spread, and Thanksgiving is seen as a potential next wave of exposure.

All residents are reminded as we head into winter, people spend more time indoors, increasing the risk of exposure to colds, flu and viruses, including COVID-19. STHS recommends everyone wear a mask, follow proper handwashing and cough etiquette and maintain your distance from others, particularly when you don’t feel well. It’s also important to protect yourself from the flu with a flu shot, which you can access through STHS Express Care and all STPN primary care clinics.

As part of our commitment to help you take excellent care of yourself, St. Tammany Health System has launched Health Check 365, including a special event at STHS Cordes Pavilion, 16300 Hwy 1085, Nov. 18 at 6 p.m. For a single fee, participants receive a spectrum of health screenings including biometrics, carotid artery, sleep apnea, body composition plus screens for lung, skin, head and neck cancer. Appointments are necessary by calling 985-871-5932.

st. tammany health system
Art Event Parish News

14th Annual President’s Arts Awards Slated for November 19th – St. Tammany Parish Government

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stp news

From St. Tammany Parish Government:

stp news

St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper announced last week that the 14th Annual President’s Arts Awards recipients will be honored at the President’s Arts Awards presented by the St. Tammany Commission on Cultural Affairs, Thursday, November 19, 2020, at an outdoor ceremony at the Koop Drive Trailhead Pavilion. Attendance will be limited to recipients and their families as COVID-19 protective protocol will be in place.

“We are happy to be able to host this event at the Koop Drive Trailhead. I want to thank the Commission for their hard work and their attention to every detail in keeping safety in mind in planning this event, for the honorees,” Cooper said. “The arts are a vital part of our community. I look forward to celebrating my first Arts Awards as Parish President and recognizing the wealth of artistic talent here in St. Tammany. I offer sincere congratulations to every recipient.”

The honorees are as follows:

Visual Artist – Gretchen Armbruster
Literary Artist – Mike Artell
Culinary Artist – Abita Brewing Company
Performing Artist – Mel Rogers
Musical Artist – Lee Hicks
Patron of the Arts – Painting with a Twist
President’s Award (Posthumously) – Gardner Schneider Kole
Native Son Award – Lesslee Fitzmorris Mitchell
Lifetime Achievement – Patricia “Pat” Clanton
Outstanding Service Award – Kim Bergeron

Congratulations!

Local News Parish News

Find your Fur-ever Feline at the St. Tammany Parish Animal Shelter

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From St. Tammany Parish Government:

During the month of November, take home a cat six months or older for FREE from the St. Tammany Parish Animal Shelter. Kittens, or cats under the age of six months, are now $25. The cats are spayed or neutered, microchipped and vaccinated.

“Our shelter has come a long way in 2020, and our population is less than 150 right now — that’s less than one quarter of what it was in the first half of 2020. We want to keep the positive momentum going,” said Parish President Mike Cooper. “If you are looking for a pet, now is a great time to find one.”

Additional changes at the St. Tammany Parish Animal Shelter include: a mentorship with Best Friends Animal Society — a national animal advocacy group and partner; reduced euthanasia rates — euthanasia rates of animals who were either ill or a danger to the public, dropped to less than eight percent during the month of October; a high placement rate — since the start of 2020, over 1600 pets have been placed through adoption, rescue groups, or reunification with their owners.

Pets currently in adoption can be found at www.stpgov.org/pets. Please choose the Pet Finder or Pet Harbor tab to search the St. Tammany Parish Animal Shelter. You can also find many of our adoptable pets on Facebook.

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