Police Jury eyes removal of statue _lowres

Advocate file photo by BILL FEIG -- A statue stands as momument to the Confederate soldiers of east Feliciana Parish in this 2010 photo. The East Feliciana Courthouse was being repaired at the time. On Monday, May 2, 2016, the Police Jury sent to committee a request to consider moving the statue to the Clinton Confederate cemetery.

The East Feliciana Parish Police Jury passed two hot topics to a committee Monday, including a proposal to uproot the Confederate soldier statue in front of the parish’s antebellum courthouse.

In addition to the statue, the three-member Executive Committee will consider a request from a Balmoral Estates resident for an ordinance requiring all parish fire departments to seek a fire insurance rating.

Dr. Paul Jackson Jr., a Clinton physician, read his January 2012 letter to The Advocate suggesting the statue be moved to a Confederate cemetery in Clinton.

Jackson, who is white, said he remembers “with a little bit of embarrassment” growing up in the 1940s and ’50s when segregation was the rule in Clinton, recalling the separate waiting rooms for black people and white people in his father’s medical office, the segregated movie theater, the Mississippi lynching of Chicago teenager Emmett Till and the opening of an all-white private school when schools were integrated.

“The statue was erected in 1909 when lynchings were rampant across the South,” said Jackson, who called for a public referendum on the monument.

Opponents of the move said the statue’s removal will further divide the parish’s residents and remove a bit of the parish’s history.

Jury President Louis Kent did not immediately set a date for the next Executive Committee meeting.

Lawrence Hofstad, who requested the fire rating ordinance, said he and other residents of his subdivision have been trying, without success, for at least 12 years to get the Pecan Grove Fire Department to seek a Property Insurance Association of Louisiana rating for the area it serves.

Twelve of the 13 fire districts in the parish have PIAL ratings, but Pecan Grove’s rating is Class 10, which effectively means the district has no rating, Hofstad said.

He said the insurance premium for him and a neighbor recently doubled in cost, and another resident lost his insurance.

Hofstad said the parish Fire District’s board of commissioners appears to favor an ordinance requiring an effort to obtain a fire insurance rating of less than 10, but Pecan Grove will not budge.

“What we’ve got is a Fire Department that doesn’t seem to care about getting a rating,” he said.

In other action, the jury:

Voted, with two jurors dissenting, to approve an addition to Highland Meadows subdivision, off La. 68 in the southwestern area of the parish, that had been held up because of legal questions about whether it meets the parish’s subdivision ordinance. Glen Kent, who raised the questions, was one of the jurors voting against the approval.

The development will have a paved private servitude, rather than a publicly dedicated street, and developer Oscar Zeringue said about 80 percent of the new road will be in East Baton Rouge Parish.

Left hanging the question of whether land divisions that can be approved under several subdivision ordinance exceptions still have to be advertised in the official journal before they can be approved by the Planning Commission and Police Jury.

The Planning Commission recently began requiring the advertisements after noticing that state law seems to require them, but the first property owner affected by the move, Faye Morrison, objected because she said her two-part division falls under an exception to the ordinance.

Planning Commission Chairman Richard Howell said two consultants working with the jury to develop a new subdivision ordinance agree with his interpretation of the state law.