OPELOUSAS — The location for a military veterans memorial park — an idea launched seven years ago by parish officials — was approved unanimously Wednesday night by the St. Landry Parish Council.
A proposed ordinance creating a board of control that will oversee all aspects of the veteran’s project was also adopted, following the council’s unanimous approval of the adopted 2.5 acres memorial site, located south of Opelousas on La. 182.
When the project idea was approved by the council in 2004, project chairman Patricia Mason-Guillory said Evangeline Downs Racetrack and Racino had agreed to donate a portion of property at the facility for the construction of a memorial supported by donations and private funding.
Since then Evangeline Downs, which is operated by Peninsula Gaming, decided it would rather lease the property for the memorial at a nominal fee, said parish administrative assistant Jessie Bellard.
Council attorney Andrea West said it is against state law for a publicly traded company like Peninsula Gaming to lease property to the council for the memorial.
On Wednesday night, Opelousas businessman Bobby Dupre said he would donate a section of property he owns so the project can move forward.
“It’s a gift. There is no mortgage,” Dupre told the council.
West also told the council that it must create the five-member board of control that will be regulated by an ordinance that will be introduced at the August meeting.
During the past several months St. Landry veterans complained that the original project steering committee headed by Mason-Guillory had excluded them on overall planning decisions.
Mason-Guillory said she has always brought any issues concerning the project before the council, including the donations.
CHARTER SCHOOL: In another matter the council voted 6-5 with an abstention to adopt a resolution supporting a proposed charter school for Opelousas.
The council rejected a similar proposal in connection with the school — J.S. Clark Leadership Academy — several months ago.
In action at a May meeting, the School Board also voted to reject the school’s charter proposal.
Tiffani Lewis, who represented the school Wednesday, said the leadership academy’s charter application is currently before the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Lewis said an enrollment drive last weekend indicates there is support for the school.
Council member Kenneth Vidrine objected to voting on a matter that the council already rejected.
Chairman Jerry Red Jr. said the council should reconsider the issue.
“Public or private, not every school can reach every child,” he said.
Leon Robinson, Fekisha Miller-Mathews, Hurlin Dupre, Pam Gautreau, Jimmie Edwards and Red voted to approve the resolution.
Voting against were Vidrine, Albert Hollier, Glenn Stout, Jay Guidry and Gary Courville. Ronald Buschel abstained.