Flooding jeopardizes AgCenter occupancy

Committee tables aerial spraying for mosquitoes

Steve Bandy
Rayne Acadian-Tribune

CROWLEY – U.S. Department of Agriculture employees will move back into the AgCenter on Cherokee Road if the flood damage is repaired, but only until the lease is up on Dec. 21, 2018.
Lexie Pitre, contracting officer for USDA, told the police jury’s Building and Grounds Committee Tuesday night that General Services Administration (GSA) rules put into effect in 2008 mandate that federal entities cannot enter into long-term contracts for any property that is located with a 100-year flood zone.
Acadia’s AgCenter on Cherokee Road is in such a zone, as proven by the mid-August flooding event that devastated Acadia and Acadiana.
Since that flood, employees have been temporarily relocated.
“If you decide to remediate the building, we will move back in until our lease is up,” Pitre said, adding that USDA “will not be paying rent for the time we are not in your space.”
She explained that the only way a long-term lease could be entered into would be in the event there is no practical alternative.
“But we’ve ruled that out. There are other practical alternatives,” Pitre said.
Pitre explained that USDA wants the jury to understand the long-term aspects “before you make any decision about how you renovate (the AgCenter) space.”
The committee took no action.
The Mosquito Control Committee tabled plans for aerial spraying in the parish after hearing Glenn Stokes, president of Mosquito Control Contractors, Inc., explain that a number of parish crawfish farmers were opting out of the plan.
Though the chemical to be used has been approved by the state Department of Health and “has been used in Louisiana for over 40 years,” some farmers feared it would harm their crop.
David Savoy, police jury president and a crawfish farmer himself, was one of the farmers that opted out of the program.
“We’ve never had, in the crawfish world, the situation we have right now,” he said. “The ground is wet and the crawfish are right there.
“With all the weather and prices being down, crawfish farmers are counting on this crop for survival.”
Jurors agreed to hold off on aerial spraying for the time being.