PORT ALLEN — After a long and somewhat emotional discussion Thursday, the West Baton Rouge Parish Council decided to name a new street connecting Oregon Avenue to William and Lee Park after Eddie Payne III.
Eddie Payne III is a local pastor who advocates and works for the betterment of disadvantaged children. Council member Charlene Gordon opened the discussion by telling the council she had polled her constituents personally and through social media, and Eddie Payne III Street was considered the favorite.
“Mr. Payne is a role model and a father figure to some kids who had no father,” Gordon said. “To this day, he is still considered a role model. He is a great man.”
But council member Edward Robertson favored naming the street after Isadore Cohn, a deceased landowner who donated land for Cohn High School during the time of segregation.
“He built a school for us, and it was the only school we could attend,” Robertson said. “I’m a graduate of Cohn High School, and I’m proud of the teachers who turned out good students. We need something to represent Cohn High School so we won’t forget it.”
Deano Moran, the parish’s emergency preparation director, advised the council that 911 dispatchers would have trouble directing responders to Isadore Cohn Street because the parish already has a Kahns Road and a Cohns Alley.
“We really try not to name new streets with names that sound like existing streets,” Moran said. “Safety is my only concern.”
Council member Chris “Fish” Kershaw objected to a street named after a living person, while Council Chair Gary Spillman and council members Barry Hugghins and Phil Porto Jr. expressed wishes that the street name vote be unanimous.
Spillman said he assumed the street would just be an extension of Oregon Avenue.
“Sometimes politics is strange, and we have to be careful,” Spillman said. “There are a lot of great people from that area, and I’ve considered abstaining.
“It would be a shame if this ended up in a tie vote or a 3-2 vote. That may be the wrong message to send.”
In the end, it was a 3-2 vote in favor of Gordon’s Eddie Payne III Street motion.
Voting with Gordon were Hugghins and Ricky Loupe.
Robertson and Kershaw voted no while Spillman, Porto and Naomi Fair abstained. Council member Randal Mouch was absent.
In another matter, Moran recognized the work of emergency dispatchers Jillian Henderson and Derek Sarradet and Brusly Police officer Tom Southton.
Moran said a woman from Houston, Texas, called the 911 office because she had not heard from her sister in seven days and asked them to send someone to check on her.
“The caller said her sister lived on East Main Street in Brusly,” Moran said. “There is no East Main Street in Brusly.”
Moran praised his dispatchers for researching landmarks and using Google Earth to find distinguishing features about the house and directed Southton to a location. Southton found a woman who had been immobilized by a fall and suffered a broken hip. The woman had been immobilized for several days.
“We do special things at 911 every day, so it’s rare that we recognize our people,” Moran said.