Walker — Mayor Rick Ramsey and the City Council are more than satisfied and relieved with how their city fared during the recent downpours that inundated numerous communities in Southeast Louisiana.
Ramsey told the council at its March 14 meeting that despite about 10 to 15 inches of rain that fell on Walker in a relatively short period of time, all streets were quickly cleared of water and only one residence suffered flood damage.
“Everyone was really pleased and excited about how fast the water went down after the rain,” Ramsey said.
The mayor explained that about $250,000 to $300,000 had been spent on drainage improvements over the past year. Culverts had been cleared and drainage outlets had been improved, he said.
Additionally, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development improved systems where natural laterals drain at Interstate 12, Ramsey said.
City crews began clearing culverts and drainage ditches about a week before the expected storm, he said.
“The night before the rains came, we had some crew members on duty, ready to help with any situation that developed,” Ramsey said. “Our plans and preparations paid off as we only had four roads with water on them for a time, but these are roads that usually hold some water. The water did not rise as fast as it has in the past, and for this we were grateful.”
In other business, the council voted to resubmit a grant request for Challenger’s Field, a venue now in the planning stage that will be built specifically for young athletes with special needs.
Ramsey said officials with the Louisiana Land and Water Conservation Fund who have shown an interest in the project contacted him about increasing the city’s $150,000 funding request. The new request will be submitted April 1.
Ramsey said the state is interested in seeing that the concession stands, restrooms and accompanying playground are all built in line with requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
To date, the city has raised $180,000 from private sources for the field’s construction. The Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation has committed to contributing funds and in-kind services to aid in the construction of the special field. Ramsey added that Chuck Brady, of the Ripken foundation, will visit Walker to review progress in planning for the field.
Ramsey said the goal is to have the field completed by December.
In another matter, the council hired Robert King, a local attorney, to serve as legal counsel to the city and as prosecutor in the mayor’s court. King replaces former city attorney Michael Cupit, who was arrested on a count of obscenity in an incident that occurred on the LSU campus in February.
Twenty-eight attorneys applied for the position, Ramsey said.
At the same meeting, the council voted to refinance some outstanding bonds that ultimately will save Walker about $500,000 over the life of the $5.1 million bond issue. On the advice of bond expert and municipal financial adviser Jim Ryan, the city opted to shorten the terms of the bond by two years by paying a somewhat larger premium. The shortened payoff time will result in the savings of 8 percent in interest charges.