Included in a $40 million-plus budget approved by the Iberville Parish Council late last year is a laundry list of projects the parish hopes to complete this year.

“One of the first things on the agenda for 2018 is a new fire station we’ll be constructing for the Bayou Sorrel, Bayou Goula area,” said Parish President Mitchell Ourso. “The station will service both areas, up and down the bayou.”

He said the design phase should be complete by the end of the first quarter of the new year and when complete, will serve about 1,200 homes and businesses.

Ourso expects the project to cost between $750,000 and $1 million and completed by the end of the year. “It’s going to be a really nice fire station.”

“Part of the reason I know that is that we will be including the firemen in the design phase so they can tell us their wants and needs,” he said.

High on the list of priorities for 2018 is the completion of a floodgate on Alligator Bayou, Ourso said, “a project that’s already well underway on the east side of the parish.”

The floodgate was designed to keep backwater flooding from occurring again like it did during the Great Flood of 2016. The eastern portion of Iberville Parish was the only area affected by the flood that caused billions of dollars of damage in the Amite and Comite river basin.

“We’ll be wrapping up this project, I would say, around June,” Ourso said. “It was conceived and designed to stop backwater flooding from East Baton Rouge Parish from coming into the Spanish Lake basin.”

Since 1961, the parish has depended on a single lock built in 1961 to prevent flooding Alligator Bayou, he continued.

“When we open the gate now it takes 30 minutes using a mechanical tool to raise the gate,” Ourso said.

The new floodgate will consist of three gates that can be operated separately or together, depending on the need he said. “It will be fully automated and can be operated by the emergency operations center on the west side of the parish with the push of a button.”

“If the power goes out, there will be a backup generator over there so that we can still open and close the gates,” Ourso said. “We’ll finally have modern gates when that project is finished.”

Included in the project is the reconstruction are repairs to Bayou Manchac Road, a project necessitated by cuts made in the road during the flood to relieve pressure on the bayou.

“That road is going to be completely rebuilt,” Ourso said. “It’ll be a nice road that will coincide with the opening of that gate. Afterward, people will again be able to use that road to go from Iberville to Ascension Parish.”

A gun range is also in the works, the parish president said, one that will include facilities for rifle, handgun and bow practice.

Ourso said the dirt work is already underway, including the necessary levees.

A complex project, he said it involves the cooperation of several private and public entities. The range is being built on land leased from Shintech Corp. and operated with utilities provided by the City of Plaquemine.

“In a perfect world, weather permitting, I would hope that by the middle of the year that this range will be finished,” Ourso said.

The range will be monitored by a range master, he continued, and Ourso said he hopes it can be used for youth camping and other family-related uses. For example, a stocked pond will be located on the property.

“I want it to be more than just a gun range,” he said. “It’s going to be a nice facility.”

Another project Ourso hopes will be completed this year is a duplication of the plaques on the inside walls of the Iberville Parish Courthouse, an endeavor close to his heart.

“On the first floor of the courthouse is a monument containing the names of all of the men from Iberville Parish who made the ultimate sacrifice in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War,” he said.

“I want to get a replica of those plaques and I’d like them to be placed on a wall near the Veterans Memorial,” Ourso said. “Those people whose names are on this plaque really deserve the recognition.”

“It’s on my wish list but I’ll have to work with an architect and find out what the cost will be,” he continued.