'ReConnect Program' lands Grosse Tete top LMA honor

Staff Report

Grosse Tete recently earned a place in the state spotlight when the Louisiana Municipal Association presented it annual award to recognize community improvement projects.

In another Iberville Parish honor, St. Gabriel received honorable mention for its recent completion of a wastewater project for the community of Sunshine.

Work on the “ReConnect Program” landed the Village of Grosse Tete the “Best of Show” honor from the Louisiana Municipal Association. Pictured with the awards are Alderman Clint Seneca, Mayor Mike Chauffe, Alderwoman Jeanie David and Alderman Marcus Hill.

The Village of Grosse Tete received the “Best of Show Award” for its “ReConnect Program." It was hailed as investment in connectivity that turned into a big idea for a small town that will pay off dividends many years.

Mayor Mike Chauffe helped spearhead the effort with STAR Communications to successfully beat 146 other applicants for $15.5 million in funding – through a USDA grant in the amount of $7.75 million and a matching USDA loan of $7.55 – that will be used to build and expand broadband access in their community. The work will not only support thousands of residences, but also 13 educational facilities, two healthcare facilities and eight critical community facilities over a 136-square-mile area.

When you’re a small municipality with only 675 people in it, and you get an award like this, it’s a great honor,” Chauffe said.

The City of St. Gabriel received an honorable mention award for the Sunshine Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The plaque from LMA.

The project – completed within the past several months – doubled the capacity for the community of Sunshine and its surrounding areas.

The project was made possible through a $2 million grant from the FEMA Hazardous Mitigation Grant Program. It was put in place to help the city as the population continues a growth spurt that began 20 years ago with the proliferation of new subdivisions.

“We’re extremely proud of that award,” St. Gabriel Mayor Lionel Johnson said. “It would’ve been great to have first, but this is the sixth out of eighth submission that we’ve won either first or honorable mention.

“We’re happy about that and excited about our facilities on improvement of wastewater on the Sunshine end,” he said.

The project had been on the books since 2007.

The LMA's annual awards program recognizes municipalities for outstanding achievement in basic services, community development, and economic development. Within these categories, awards are presented in four population subcategories.

We know how important this particular event is,” said John Gallagher, LMA Executive Director. “We all refer to it as the Oscars for municipalities because it really does recognize the achievements of our municipal governments.”

Entries submitted were judged by a committee of judges from Louisiana Economic Development, Louisiana Industrial Development Executives Association, Capital Region Planning Commission, the Louisiana Main Street, and the Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshall.

In neighboring area, The Town of Brusly won the top award in the Community Development Category for population of 3,000-and-under for its “Bike Brusly and Bike Share Program.”

The City of Port Allen received an honorable mention in the Economic Development Category for Centennial Park. The city was recognized in the division for municipalities with population between 3,001 and 10,000.