BAKER — Baker City Council member Joyce Burges asked at Tuesday’s meeting whether the water at Baker schools should be tested for lead.
“We can never be too careful with respect to our children,” she said, adding that 300 schools across the country have had the problem and that Baker school buildings are old.
“This should be handled in a school board meeting. This is school board business, not city business,” Mayor Harold Rideau answered.
“If something happens, it’s everybody’s problem,” Burges shot back.
Superintendent of Baker Utilities Richard Jackson told the council the water in the city is tested every day in accordance with state and federal regulations.
“We aren’t planning to be like Flint (Michigan). I’m on the fellas to do their job. I don’t want to go to jail. Baker has some of the best water I’ve ever seen,” Jackson said.
Burges also brought up the issue of whether a senior citizen discount is available for Baker utilities. Zachary offers its residents an application for special water and garbage rates.
“Apparently, they are revisiting whether they want to continue to do this,” Burges said.
“Go read the attorney general’s opinion on this. It’s illegal to give away public funds,” Rideau said.
Private entities can give any kind of discounts they want, but governmental entities are subject to laws about the proper use of public funds, he said.
In other business, Councilman Charles Vincent encouraged Baker residents to call BREC at (225) 272-9200 in support of keeping the zoo in Baker.
“I’m going to fight them tooth and toenail to keep (the zoo) up here. They want to deny everything to north Baton Rouge,” Councilman Pete Heine said.
The zoo has a long history in Baker, and it’s important to the residents, he said.
BREC commissioner Mike Walker said the commission will review the study on the feasibility of moving the zoo during its 5 p.m. Thursday meeting at the BREC administrative offices, 6201 Florida Blvd.
Vincent also announced BREC will hold a community meeting Thursday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at T.D. Bickham Park, 6850 Pettit Road, to discuss programs at the park. For information, call (225) 774-9513.
Community organizer Daniel Banguel told the council that a community town hall meeting will be held at 6 p.m. April 6 at Scotlandville High School to discuss education, economic development and other issues affecting the northern part of the parish.
In light of the recent killing of an American soldier in Iraq, Burges also encouraged local residents to consider buying bricks in Veterans Plaza on Groom Road in Baker to honor soldiers in their families.
Bricks cost $65 and anyone can buy them, even people who are not residents of Baker, Rideau said. Applications are available at Baker City Hall, 3325 Groom Road.