Rosedale mayor sets goals for second term in office

Staff Report

Riley J. Blanchet will begin his second term as the head of local government in the Village of Rosedale, but he still has trouble getting used to one part of the job.

Riley J. Blanchet was elected to a second term as Rosedale mayor Nov. 3.

Simply put, it’s the job title.

“I’m not comfortable being called 'mayor' … I just enjoy helping people,” he said. “I’m the farthest thing from a politician.”

He became mayor in January 2017 after the retirement of longtime Rosedale public servant Lawrence “Football” Badeaux, who died less than three months later.

Beautification played a role in his first term, which included improvements to the village cemetery. The upgrades included wrought-iron fence and lighting, both of which were implemented his first year in office.

“I can’t tell you how many people commend us on our cemetery,” Blanchet said. “It’s a beautiful project, and we’re one of the few municipalities that owns its cemetery.”

Blanchet, a Ville Platte native who moved to Rosedale in 2005, said he wants to continue upgrade projects he has had on his clipboard since he took office.

As with most rural communities, much of that focus will involve the water system. Plans are underway to upgrade to 6-inch water lines and replace aging infrastructure for the system.

Aside from better water pressure, the upgrade will also help with the fire rating for the village’s volunteer fire department.

The department current has a fire insurance rating of “4,” which is solid for a volunteer department. But other plans are on the books for the fire department.

Grant funding will help the village with a $1 million expansion to the existing fire station. The expansion will include living quarters, which will pave the way for the village’s goal to move toward full-time fire protection, Blanchet said.

A full-time fire department would suggest that the village population of 753, as of 2019, would have sights on growth, but he does not see it happening any time in the near future.

“Rosedale hasn’t grown much, and that is the same status that it’s been here for years,” Blanchet said. “Our area is landlocked, so it doesn’t grow much and remains a hidden gem, and a really nice community.”

He cites another element for the stagnation in residential growth.

The shutdown of North Iberville High School approximately 10 years ago dealt a blow to any future growth in the community.

“The school system is the one thing that hurts our area,” he said.

The village recently lost two young couples who left the area in favor of areas with nearby high schools.

“North Iberville is open for elementary students, but then it’s open to a STEM school for gifted kids, but that’s all based on eligibility,” said Blanchet, whose son commutes to False River Academy in New Roads.

Even without adjacent neighborhood public schools, Blanchet considers Rosedale fortunate to get the support it receives from Iberville Parish Government.

“Our little community is quiet, but we get a lot of tax money from our parish,” he said. “We’re very lucky in comparison to communities in other parishes across the state.”