COPAC to get facelift

DEIDRE CRUSE, Governmental Reporter

The Legislature has provided $190,000 for long-needed renovations at the City of Plaquemine Activity Center (COPAC), Mayor Mark A. “Tony” Gulotta announced last week.

The money will be used for a new roof and replacement of the many broken windows.

The building once served as Plaquemine High School and then as Plaquemine Junior High before the School Board abandoned it in a school renovation and consolidation program 20 years ago.

“It’s too good a building to throw away,” the mayor said, predicting that “something positive is going to happen with that building.”

Gulotta said this is the first time the city has ever gotten a state appropriation. He said he expects the State Bond Commission to approve the project when it meets in September.

City officials have their eyes on larger amounts of money from the federal funds coming to the parish for recovery from Hurricane Gustav.

The Iberville Parish Council last month hired an administrator to handle a $48 million appropriation for the entire parish, municipalities included.

Gulotta said the city’s top priority is funding for a new regional sewage treatment plant, a top priority for the city that is on the drawing boards.

The city will receive bids on Tuesday on a new trunk sewer line to the Mississippi River and a new pump station, engineer Tony Arikol of Professional Engineering Consultants said. The cost of the project, about $5 million, will be paid with paid with the city’s portion of the most recent one-cent parishwide sales tax.

Other Plaquemine priorities for the Gustav funds are, in order, are a transformer to keep power at the existing sewage treatment facilities, straightening storm-damaged utility poles, a large generator for the city’s water wells in Port Allen and a back-up for a sewer station.

Plaquemine nearly lost water and sewer service just after Gustav hit on September 1.

Under the terms of the grant, the state has to spend at least 10 percent of the money on housing assistance to low-income homeowners.

“I think we ought to concentrate on roofs,” the mayor said. “We’ve got a lot of blue tarps out there.”

Most of the homeowners have no insurance and no way to repair the roofs, Gulotta said.

“There’s people out there that didn’t get anything,” he said.