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BPPJ to prepare and store sandbags

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After consecutive years of major flooding that made it necessary to fill and haul hundreds of thousands of sandbags, the Bossier Parish Police Jury is making plans to be prepared for future events.

Jury members voted unanimously last week to purchase and refurbish six 40-foot shipping containers to be used as storage units for sandbags. The containers will be placed at strategic locations in the parish.

Parish Administrator Bill Altimus told jury members he heard of using containers to store sandbags at a recent meeting of the Organization of Parish Officials. In south Louisiana, one parish had sandblasted and painted the containers, then successfully stored sandbags.

“After two years, the sandbags were perfectly sound…no moisture, still in good shape,” Altimus said.

Altimus said Bossier Parish officials have been looking for ways to pre-pour and store sandbags and to keep them viable. Having a ready supply would be a major advantage because of the time required to mobilize workers and equipment when floods occur, he said.

Altimus said one container each would be delivered to the town of Haughton, Fire District 1 station on U.S. Hwy. 80, Fire District 2 in south Bossier Parish, the town of Plain Dealing and two would be placed at the parish’s highway department in Benton.

“We would sandblast and paint these units inside and out and they would match the décor of where they are located,” Altimus said. “We will give the keys to the fire chief or mayor and in time of emergency, they would have three to four thousand sandbags at their locale.”

According to Altimus, the cost of purchasing and reconditioning six containers will run $24,000. That money is available in the parish’s riverboat fund, he added.

Parish Engineer Butch Ford reported to jury members that he and his staff will be taking a close look at several parish bridges ahead of a scheduled state DOTD bridge inspection later this year.

“DOTD will be doing a bridge inspection in November because the two-year cycle has rolled around. We’ll be seeing what we’ve got now that the water level is low enough to get a good look,” Ford said. “We want to get repairs made before they come because they can close a bridge immediately.”

Ford said he is still working with FEMA to get funding for necessary repairs to the parish infrastructure.

“We’re doing our best to get things resolved before winter; we don’t want to be fighting (repairs) all winter,” he said.

Also at last week’s meeting, jury members:

-Agreed to refinance a $16.925 million bond issue with six years remaining to lower the interest rate from 2.73 percent to 1.5 percent. The parish would realize a savings of $500,000 without extending the period of the bond payout.

-Awarded a drainage improvement project in Forest Hills subdivision to Blount Brothers for a bid of $100,000.

-Awarded the bid for purchase of janitorial supplies for one year to CareFree Janitorial.

-Approved an application by Willow Chute Development for a zoning amendment to a parcel of land on Myers Rd. from R-A (residential agriculture) to R-LD (residential low density).

-Approved the plat of the proposed development of Dogwood South subdivision, unit 18.
Scheduled a public hearing Oct. 5 to consider approval of a plat of proposed development of Piney Forest subdivision, unit 2A.

-Closed one property standards case, delayed action on another and agreed to set a pair of condemnation hearings.

-Approved a change order on the parish consolidated waterworks/sewerage district 1.