Jindal continues state tour, delivers funds to Iberville

DEIDRE CRUSE, Governmental Reporter
FEDERAL WINDFALL...Gov. Bobby Jindal delivers a “check” for nearly $50 million – most of it federal funds for hurricane recovery or protection – to Iberville Parish Officials at the Chamber of Commerce meeting last Thursday at Nottoway Plantation. Joining in the check presentation are, from left, Alderman Randel “Panco” Badeaux and Mayor Lawrence “Football” Badeaux, both of Rosedale; state Sen. Robert Marionneaux; Jindal; state Rep. Karen St. Germain; Iberville Chief Administrative Officer Edward A. “Lucky” Songy Jr., Parish Councilman Mitchel J. Ourso Sr., and Grosse Tete Mayor Michael D. Chauffe Sr.

Gov. Bobby Jindal last week delivered a check for $48.7 million to Iberville Parish during his “Louisiana Working Tour” of the state's 64 parishes.

Jindal delivered an oversized presentation check – mostly federal funds funneled through the state – to local officials at the Iberville Chamber of Commerce membership meeting at Nottoway Plantation on Thursday.

The money includes nearly $44.2 million in hurricane recovery funds that were previously promised, $4.37 million in hazard mitigation grants and $154,655 in state funds for infrastructure improvements.

“Some states are giving out IOUs,” Jindal said. “We don't do that in Louisiana. We pay our bills.”

The Iberville Parish Council last month hired an administrator for the $44 million federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to help the parish recover from Hurricane Gustav. Iberville was the third hardest hit parish in the state.

An initial hearing on project proposals is scheduled for the Parish Council meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, although the projects eventually will require both state and federal approval.

Jindal said the federal government recognized that state and local governments knew more about what they needed to rebuild than Washington, D.C.

The hazard mitigation funds are intended for projects that will protect Iberville from future storm damage, the governor said.

“The federal government says that for every $1 we spend in preparing for future storms, we save $4,” he said.

Jindal also awarded five Local Government Assistance Program (LGAP) grants – $40,000 for the City of Plaquemine to repair the City of Plaquemine Activity Center (COPAC, which is operated at  old Plaquemine High School); $39,655 to the Parish Council for drainage improvements; $30,000 tot he Town of Maringouin for gas intrastructure repairs; $25,000 tot he Town of Grosse Tete for new water mains, and $20,000 to the Village of Rosedale for drainage improvements.

The governor also touted new business investments and jobs that he said he and his administration have attracted to the state.

They include 33,000 “direct and indirect” jobs and $4 billion in capital investments statewide; 1,331 direct and 3,977 indirect jobs, 1,231 jobs protected and $1.157 billion in capital investments in the Baton Rouge area.

Those totals include the SNF plant south of Plaquemine that eventually will hire 512 plant workers and create some 900 indirect jobs in the parish once the $362 million facility is completed. Jindal and the Iberville Chamber of Commerce announced the project in June.

Jindal said he began his administration with a special session on ethics reform legislation. A year later the state had moved up form the bottom five to the top five in ethics administration, he said, and the Center for Public Integrity has now ranked Louisiana “first best in the entire country in ethics.”

“This was never about rankings,” the governor said. “It was all about creating jobs.”

Jindal said the state has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country and “the most vibrant economy” in the South.

The state has the fastest growing community colleges in the country said, and is introducing career studies into high schools.

He also noted such challenges as the state's having the second highest incarceration rate in the country and the lowest graduation rate.