Cassidy Announces $163 Million for Flood Mitigation Projects Throughout Louisiana Including Grant Parish

U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) today announced $163 million in federal funding for several flood mitigation projects across Louisiana.

“Louisiana experienced devastating floods in recent years that accelerated the need to develop infrastructure projects for flood-prone communities,” said Dr. Cassidy. “These funds deliver protection to residents and businesses and will considerably reduce the risk of flooding.”

The money released is part of the $1.2 billion in flood mitigation funding for Louisiana which Cassidy secured from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 2019.

Cassidy played a key role in getting the Community Development Block Grant Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) Program funded for the first time ever in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. 

Congress appropriated $12 billion in CDBG-MIT funds in the Bipartisan Budget Act specifically for flood mitigation projects for qualifying disasters from 2015-17. HUD also allocated an additional $3.9 billion to bring the total amount of mitigation funds to nearly $16 billion.

Projects receiving funding include:

  • $42 million for construction and drainage improvements on the Louisiana Highway 22 bridge in Ascension and Livingston Parishes.
  • $25 million for Mermentau Basin inundation relief project in Cameron and Vermillion Parishes.
  • $15 million for drainage improvements in Livingston Parish.
  • $14.3 million for watershed improvements along Anacoco Creek in Vernon Parish.
  • $12.8 million for flood surcharge management for Bundick Lake in Beauregard Parish.
  • $10.2 million for retention improvements and critical infrastructure hardening along Turkey Creek in Franklin Parish.
  • $10 million for residential elevations and buyouts in St. Tammany Parish.
  • $10 million for residential elevations and buyouts in Vermillion Parish.
  • $6.6 million for structure hardening and runoff retention improvements along Black Bayou in Caddo Parish.
  • $5 million for the University Lakes flood risk reduction project in East Baton Rouge Parish.
  • $3.7 million for drainage improvements at LSU Alexandria in Rapides Parish.
  • $2.9 million for backwater flood reduction at Three Mile Lake in St. Landry Parish.
  • $2.7 million for flood surcharge management at Caney Lake in Jackson Parish.
  • $2.2 million for runoff retention and critical infrastructure improvements along Bayou Cocodrie in Rapides and Evangeline Parishes.
  • 1.1 million for Iatt Lake drawdown improvements in Grant Parish.

Remember This? Bob’s Bones

By Brad Dison

Robert “Bob” Craig needed direction in his life. School was boring to him. He craved excitement. He was an adrenaline junkie. Bob decided that he had had enough of schooling and quit Butte (Montana) High School in his sophomore year. He was anxious to get out into the real world.

Bob enjoyed his newfound freedom from school and he lazed around for a short while. Pretty soon, though, Bob realized that he needed money to survive. Bob found employment at the Anaconda Mining Company where he worked as a diamond drill operator in a copper mine. Shortly thereafter, Bob earned a promotion and drove an earth mover, work he considered unimportant. Just like school, Bob quickly became bored working in the copper mine. Bob’s boredom had become too great for him to quell. Rumors persist that Bob somehow rode a wheelie in his mammoth piece of heavy equipment and ran into Butte, Montana’s main power lines. The massive machine damaged the power line infrastructure which shut off the electricity in the town for several hours. Bob’s boss fired him immediately. Bob liked the rush he got from making the gigantic machine pop a wheelie, and searched continually for ways to feel that sort of feeling again.

On March 7, 1959, twenty-year-old Bob entered in Butte, Montana’s fourth divisional ski jumping championship in the men’s class. Lou Buckmaster skied down the slope of the long jump, launched, soared through the air using his body movements for steering, and landed the jump successfully. Officials recorded Lou’s jump at 86 feet. Paul Maxwell performed his jump with precision and reached a distance of 99 feet. Bob was the ultimate competitor. He was determined to win. Bob shot down the ski slope, used his legs to spring himself higher into the air, and soared toward the bottom of the hill. His landing was perfect. Officials recorded his distance at 111 feet. Of the three people who competed in the men’s class, Bob won by a distance of twelve feet. Of the seventeen people who competed that day, Bob came in second overall.

Skiing was fun, but Bob needed money. Bob went through a host of jobs. He played with the Charlotte Clippers of the Eastern Hockey League. He formed, acted as owner, manager, coach, and player of a semiprofessional hockey team called the Butte Bombers. He ran a hunting guide service and once hitchhiked from Butte to Washington, D.C. carrying a 54-inch set of elk antlers along with a petition to stop the planned slaughter of 5,000 surplus Elk in Yellowstone National Park. Bob was not an animal rights activist; he had an angle. Bob’s plan was for the transplantation of the elk to the area where he ran his hunting guide service. Rather than incurring the expense of transplanting the elk, and in an effort to appease the public, the commission abandoned the planned slaughter. Bob ran a Honda motorcycle dealership where he offered $100 off the price of a new motorcycle to anyone who could beat him at arm wrestling. He claimed to have been a swindler, a holdup man, a card thief, and a safe cracker.

According to former U.S. Representative from Montana Pat Williams, “No one had more guts than Bobby. He was simply unafraid of anything.” Bob was good at self-promotion and was always comfortable in the limelight. Few people remember Bob as a skiing champion, a hockey player, hunting guide, owner of a Honda dealership, or any of the negative jobs Bob claimed to have had. Even fewer people knew Bob by his real name, but Bob certainly became famous. Bob once claimed that he “made $60 million, spent 61. … Lost $250,000 at blackjack once. …Had $3 million in the bank, though.” In the mid-1970s, the Ideal Toy Company released a series of toys and other merchandise based on Bob, which became best sellers and are still sought after. Hanna-Barbera produced a series of Saturday morning cartoons based on Bob. Bally created a pinball machine based on Bob.

Bob was an entertainer whose performances were dangerous. Bob still holds the Guinness World Record for the “Most broken bones in a lifetime.” According to Guinness, by the end of 1975, Bob had suffered 433 bone fractures. Bob received most of his bone fractures while performing in front of a live audience. Bob was a stunt performer and entertainer. His real name was Robert Craig…Knievel. The world knew Bob as Evel Knievel.

Sources:
1. The Montana Standard (Butte, Montana), March 9, 1959, p.7.
2. The Montana Standard, November 22, 1961, p.8.
3. The Montana Standard, December 1, 2007, p.7.
4. Guiness World Records. “Most Broken Bones in a Lifetime.” Accessed March 12, 2021. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/most-broken


Louisiana Women Lead: Letlow’s Election A Call To Women in Louisiana

At a moment in time where the state’s highest offices are rife with sexual abuse scandals, Louisiana elects first female republican to Congress 

Julia Barnhill Letlow! Let that name sink in for a moment, because soon enough we are going to start seeing it in the history books. Louisiana elected Julia Letlow as its first republican Congresswoman. She is the first in Louisiana’s history. Those of us who know Julia had no doubt that she could and would do it, but her path to victory was rather non-traditional. Most players in Louisiana’s political world ascend to positions of power by starting on a local level first, and through a series of elections ascend to higher and higher offices, perhaps finally to a larger area like a congressional district. Most of those political players tend to be men who grew up thinking about their political futures and which office they would seek. Discussions about their future tend to be with their family and are clear about their path forward. For women, especially in Louisiana, that path is not usually laid out and it certainly is not expected by our culture. That’s why Julia’s ascent to Congress is incredible in so many ways.

Julia’s husband Luke had just recently been elected to represent District 5 in Congress. As most are aware, Luke tragically passed away from COVID-19 before he was sworn in. This left a big hole for Julia especially considering that they have two very young children. In those days and weeks after Luke passed away, a decision needed to be made to fill Luke’s seat. An amazing decision was made. Julia decided to run. As I type this, it still gives me chills. Such an extraordinary person making such an extraordinary decision: A decision to show her children that through faith and her belief in Christ, we can overcome many obstacles and we can rise above the ashes like a phoenix from the flames. During one of our recent Campaign Conversations, Julia told us that you can be “Full of grief and full of hope at the same time.” Wow. If you talk to Julia, you pick up on how extraordinary she is right away. We should celebrate this characteristic. But in true Louisiana political fashion, not everyone could see the extraordinary picture.

There were the at-first-quiet, and then very public comments criticizing that Julia shouldn’t be running because of her young children. Let me ask a question: Are these comments made when men run for office? In Julia’s distinctive grace, she brushed those comments off and leaned on her faith knowing she made a decision after many discussions and much thoughtful prayer. 

If you take a moment to consider reality, telling someone else when to run for office or not and why (especially based on the private matters of their family!) is inappropriate. But thanks to the 24-hour news cycle, the endless scroll of social media, and our cancel culture, we believe we have a right to an opinion about everyone else’s decisions, and that it’s our right to be offended when we disagree. And Louisiana culture typically disagrees with center-right women in office in Louisiana.

This opinionated, offended posture is part of our culture that we must take on in our state. Women belong in all of the places where decisions are made. Why? For one, the headlines should make you sick.  Louisiana is home to a deeply flawed and pervasive culture not with just your run-of-the-mill misogyny, but we have now seen rampant cases of sexual harassment and abuse at the highest levels in our state. This scandal occurs daily on college campuses and political offices and those in office are using their power to cover it up! 

Do you know what that means? It means several people are sitting in a room together and making a conscious decision to collude on the cover-up. To not protect the victims and prosecute the criminals, but to protect the perpetrator. Only in Louisiana. It’s a despicable and disgusting part of our culture in this state and it has to stop. To boot, we have heard other women state that the victims share the responsibility in these sexual harassment and abuse cases. This mindset belongs back in the 1950s. It needs to be brought to light and shown for the ignorance that it is then buried so deeply that we never hear those words uttered again.

The solution? To get power in the hands of the right decision-makers, including center-right women, who will stand up for justice instead of protecting perpetrators. But that can’t happen unless more women run for office. So this is my clarion to all the women of Louisiana…it is time for us all to stand up. Stand up for our sisters, mothers, and daughters. Stand up for our brothers, husbands, fathers, and sons. Those of us who can, must stand up and take extraordinary steps. Amazing steps. Answer the call just as Julia Barnhill Letlow did. As Julia said, we can be full of frustration, anger, or grief for our state and full of hope at the same time. Decide where you fit in the political world and take the step to do more, to get involved, to run for office. Make history! Be extraordinary. Be the next Julia!

 Louisiana Women Lead was formed in 2020 to engage more center-right women in politics. Lead’s goal is to increase the number of women elected or appointed to leadership positions in Louisiana by breaking down barriers, create a statewide network for support, and provide tools to women so they have a leg up when running for or being appointed to office. For more information, visit http://www.louisianawomenlead.org.


It Is Wise to Keep the Legislative Filibuster in the U.S. Senate

By Royal Alexander/Opinion

While not a Constitutional requirement, invoking cloture and cutting off legislative debate currently requires the agreement of 60 Senators and it is wise and prudent to retain that requirement

The Framers of our U.S. Constitution, by design, intended for the U.S. Senate to serve as a very different kind of legislative body than the U.S. House of Representatives. They insured this in the Constitution by seeing that U.S. Senators only face reelection every six years—versus every two years in the U.S. House—and by putting in place other traditions to be certain the Senate functioned with collegiality and—compared to the House—as a highly deliberative body with a calmly dispassionate sense of purpose. As we know, the U.S. Senate has famously been described as a “cooling saucer for the hot tea” of the U.S. House to spill onto. A backstop of sorts. Or, as James Madison described it, “a necessary fence” against the fickleness and passion of the U.S. House—the “People’s House.”

We may recall that Senate Democrats eliminated the filibuster for lower court judicial nominees in 2013, when Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was in control; Republicans made the same move for Supreme Court nominees in 2017 which led to justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett joining the Supreme Court. However, neither side has moved decisively to eliminate the legislative filibuster.

What eliminating the legislative filibuster essentially means is that the majority party in control of the Senate no longer needs to alter or moderate the bills it introduces in order to attract enough votes from the minority party to reach 60 votes needed to cut off debate and go to a vote on the legislation itself. And, while the legislative filibuster is not required by our Constitution, history has shown that it is not wise or prudent to ram through major changes in our law and in our society based upon the raw political strength of a simple majority. Minority interests and considerations are easily overlooked and damaged that way.

When the Senate moves to pass major legislation like multi, multi-billion-dollar appropriation bills, the national defense authorization bill, farm bill, and huge infrastructure bills like the highway bill, it should have at least 60 Senators wanting to end debate to do so. Without this kind of “buy in” from the minority party a new law is often never fully accepted, and the law’s opponents spend years trying to repeal or undermine it.

Please recall the Obamacare law that passed the U.S. House and U.S. Senate on a strictly partisan, party-line vote and was signed by Pres. Obama. Republicans, who never had any input in the crafting of that major and far-reaching piece of legislation, have now spent years trying to repeal it and have it declared unconstitutional.

Yes, the 60-vote filibuster rule for legislation can be highly frustrating at times and yes it seems far preferable for a simple majority to be all that is necessary to cut off debate when the party we favor controls the Senate. But, what about when the party we favor does not control the Senate? If the legislative filibuster and 60 vote-requirement is abandoned all that will be necessary to cut off debate and vote to impose harsh and draconian laws like, for example, massive new taxes, the Green New Deal, mandatory unionization of states that favor right-to-work, and adding Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. as two new states with many new liberal members of Congress—are the votes of a simple majority.

Again, the Senate is supposed to be a fundamentally and structurally different kind of legislative body than the U.S. House—which most often does operate based upon the will of pure majorities—and it should remain that way. Legislation—particularly bills bringing about major changes—is supposed to be difficult to pass and require consensus and that should continue in the Senate.

The views and opinions expressed in the My Opinion article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Grant Parish Journal. Any content provided by the authors is of their opinion and is not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.


Notice of Death March 23, 2021

GRANT:
Varonda Kay Benfield
December 28, 1969 – March 20, 2021
Service: Friday, March 26, 2021 at2:00 pm at Pollock Cemetery, Pollock

WINN:
Mary Lee Sproles Ortego
May 29, 1949 – March 18, 2021
Arrangements TBA

NATCHITOCHES:
Mike McCart
April 11, 1961 – March 21, 2021
Service: Monday, April 5 at 7 pm at Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home

Martha Jean Howington Jordan
February 13, 1928 – March 19, 2021
Service: Saturday, March 27 at 2 pm at Blanchard – St. Denis Funeral Home

Van Thomas Barker, Jr.
January 03, 1945 – December 26, 2020
Service: Friday, April 9 from 5-6:30 pm in the chapel of Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home

Annie M. Law
August 17, 1947 – March 17, 2021
Service: Saturday, March 27 at 11 am at the Winnfield Memorial Funeral Home Chapel in Natchitoches

Frankie Hunter
November 30, 1954 – March 16, 2021
Service: Saturday, March 27 at 2 pm at the Winnfield Memorial Funeral Home Chapel in Natchitoches

Stephen “Bumpy” Hudson
May 5, 1996 – March 6, 2021
Service: Saturday, March 27 at 11 am in the Winnfield Memorial Funeral Home Chapel in Natchitoches

SABINE:
Nancy Carol Tarpley
March 25, 1940 – March 22, 2021
Service: Thursday, March 25 at 10 am at Antioch Baptist Church

Richard Eugene Erwin Sr.
April 21, 1949 – March 21, 2021
Service: Wednesday, March 24 at 12 pm at Toro Cemetery