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Independence council renames one road, repairing another

GRANT -- Entergy Louisiana Northshore customer service manager Eunice Harris presents a $1,000 grant to Independence Mayor Angelo Mannino. The grant will be used to install four fans in the town's pavilion.

by Connor Raborn reporter@hammondstar.com

Independence council passed an ordinance Tuesday to rename streets in town to honor Martin Luther King Jr.

The ordinance was introduced in April, after seemingly having passed in March. However, the ordinance had not been formally introduced by the board of aldermen before the March vote.

The unanimous vote means that 4th Street to Louisiana Highway 40, including Hickory Street, will be renamed Martin Luther King Street.

Tiger Avenue, the road that passes Independence Leadership Academy and Independence High Magnet School, has been inspected by the town for repairs needed due to underground sewer system issues.

The town is taking bids, but Mayor Angelo Mannino is also taking the Tiger Avenue focus as a chance to get the intersection at Cypress Street turned into a four-way stop. He cited a traffic accident a few weeks ago that sent a car off the road and into a fire hydrant just next to the elementary school playground as a reason the crossing needs a stop.

Mannino said the state is doing a survey to determine the need for a four-way stop at the intersection. The underground repairs to the sewer will take two to three days but are on hold until school is out for the summer, decreasing the traffic on Tiger Avenue, he said.

Summer activities

With summer approaching, Alderman Jimmy Gregory asked the board and the public to bear in mind that summer activities may help keep some youth out of trouble while on holiday.

"This is a good time for the community to be on top of things. Find things to do for the kids to keep them busy," Gregory said.

He suggested Tangipahoa Parish Library's Summer Reading Program, which hosts reading projects and events at all parish branches. He also put forth an idea for the town to hold an after-hours basketball tournament, perhaps once a month.

Retirement plans

Alderman Larry Cardaronella presented an issue on retirement for town workers, specifically ensuring that retirement plans and the various involved options are explained properly to town workers. Options include a retirement plan, a 401K or social security payments.

"The town's going to spend the money no matter what," Gregory said. "Right now, if you never vest the money that we spend matching your retirement, it serves no purpose. If we go to a 401K, at least we know the money goes to somebody."

Some people never see the money and it simply feeds the machine, he said.

Cardaronella plans to speak with the town's certified public accountant and town attorney Leann Malnar to start the process and see what is required.

Help for resident

One of the owners of a property on the 400 block of Highway 40 West attended the meeting Tuesday after being served. The board discussed the condition of her property, which she and others in her family inherited.

The owner said she was taking care of her mother and sister who had gotten sick and the house had burned down. She said she has been cleaning the property, but Alderman Luke Suarez said people of the town are still considering it to not be clean enough.

Suarez commended her courage in coming to the meeting to discuss the issue with them and thanked her for attending, something not all property owners do when condition of property makes it to the meeting agendas.

Upon detailing her substandard living conditions on the property, Gregory recommended the board refrain from discussing further details in the public meeting for the sake of the owner's dignity. He suggested she speak with the board members outside of the meeting, and Mannino gave her his contact information.

"We need to help," Gregory said. "We want to try to get you some help."

Mobile homes

The town is in the process of clarifying laws on trailers parked on residential properties and formally introduced a newly revised ordinance on laws governing things that can be towed behind a vehicle.

Motor coaches, trailer coaches, even tractor trailers are included in the final version held by the board at Tuesday's meeting.

The law will specify things like how far a trailer must be parked from the road and the fact that a trailer must be parked in a driveway or garage, Cardaronella said.

Gregory wants to research a few aspects of the details, such as the dimensions of a normal-sized camper. The vote on whether to pass the ordinance will happen after it is advertised and opened to public hearing.

If the ordinance passes, the enforcement of the rules on trailers will fall to the town's newly appointed code enforcer, Chic Core, an appointment announced at the meeting.

Other business

Also on the agenda was a request from Independence Volunteer Fire Department to sell a

lcoholic drinks at the agency's barbecue cookoff, which began Friday night and continues today at the downtown festival grounds.

The firefighters obtained the liquor license for the two days and were at the meeting to get approval on it. The board unanimously approved.