I am writing to express my extreme concern about the replacement of the historic wooden framed windows for the historic West Feliciana Parish Courthouse with metal windows. It is my understanding that Kevin Couhig contracted this job without going through the council for approval, without going through the Historic District Commission for approval, and without doing any application for lead paint abatement.
I realize that the judge in the injunction hearing on March 5 denied imposition of the preliminary injunction. This does not mean that Couhig now has approval or any authority to continue with this job. It merely means that, for whatever reason (not stated by the judge) the court did not believe the action was necessary or appropriate for the court to deal with.
I would like to know what the cost of this contract for removal and replacement is and what part of the parish budget covers it. I also, want to know if any Parish Council members were aware of this planned action on the part of Couhig.
In the written response filed in court on behalf of Couhig, the attorney allegedly representing the parish in the lawsuit stated that there were lead paint issues leading to the need to replace the windows. If that is the case, then there are very specific environmental protection proceedings to follow to allow the abatement of lead paint. It is my understanding that no application was made to do lead paint abatement, and that no precautions were being taken on the Saturday morning that this work began to be done by the window replacement company. Therefore, if there are concerns of lead paint, the failure of the parish to have the correct application, approval and abatement procedures put into place puts our town and parish residents and visitors at risk of inhaling and ingesting lead paint.
The historic West Feliciana Parish Courthouse is just one of the beautiful and historic treasures that we have in our small community. It is a landmark for our citizens and visitors. We cannot allow the gradual chipping away of the historical material that is so much a part of our culture. Most people that I know in this community are proud of the history and the historic buildings that exist here, both public and private. We work hard to bring in visitors.
I ask council members to intervene and do whatever is necessary to stop the autocratic method of governing exhibited by Couhig.
That the person who is supposed to have been elected to protect and serve the citizens of the Parish of West Feliciana continues to act arbitrarily and with no concern for the welfare and rights of the citizens whom he serves, is not just ridiculous and incredulous, but irresponsible and a violation of his sworn duties to the citizens. If the council members do not step in and attempt to stop him and these kinds of actions, then there is really no point in having an elected government at all, and the citizens of our parish are subjected to tyrannical, arbitrary, even bullying actions. Please know that we will not remain passive and let this happen to us and our community. We will stand up for our rights, we will rebel against such actions, and we will see change.
It is my hope that we can reach amicable change and begin to instill trust and mutual respect between our citizens and our government. Change will occur, however, with or without the present elected officials.