WALKER — Thanks to Leadership Livingston, a program under the sponsorship of the Livingston Parish Chamber of Commerce, the First Responders Monument planned for Sidney Hutchinson Park will be completed.
The announcement came March 8 at the Walker City Council meeting.
The city had taken preliminary steps for the planned monument last year when a concrete slab was poured and utilities were established at the site. At the time, Walker Mayor Jimmy Watson said he would seek feedback from the community about what the monument might eventually look like. He explained that a local family had donated some funds to assist the city in completion of the monument. Leadership Livingston chose to fulfill that role and the group presented its plans to the council at the recent meeting.
The monument site is located next to the Safe House that was completed last year.
Scott Hilbun, a spokesman for Leadership Livingston, said his group has set as a goal the raising of $60,000 to complete the brick monument that will pay tribute to first responders, “present, past and future,” who have given outstanding service to the community. April Wehr, executive director of the Livingston Parish Chamber of Commerce, said Leadership Livingston will raise $25,000 for Phase I construction of the monument.
Watson thanked the team from Leadership Livingston for taking the initiative to adopt the monument project. He praised the design of the monument presented to the council and added that it will greatly enhance the park. Leadership Livingston is a program designed to better inform community leaders about the many facets that make up the parish community.
Plans for the First Responders Monument is just the latest development in a number of projects nearing completion at the park and in other areas of the city.
Watson said the Safe House is in use and Biddy Basketball, pickleball, line dance classes and other activities are being conducted at the facility. The Safe House was designed for use as a communications headquarters in the event of natural or other emergencies. It was constructed in such a way so that it can also be used as a recreation and meeting venue when not in use during an emergency.
The mayor said that in next few weeks a formal ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at the Safe House and at the new $500,000 model playground that is nearing completion in another area of Sidney Hutchinson Park.
“This playground is a state-of-the-art facility and it will bring national attention to Walker and Sidney Hutchinson Park,” he said.
At the end of April, the new multi-million three-story City Hall will be opened with a formal ribbon cutting ceremony, the mayor said.
At the same meeting, the council voted unanimously to amend the annual budget to provide $150,000 for a new billing software program. Chief of Staff Jamie Etheridge explained the current system in use by the city is outdated and requires frequent maintenance. The software now in use, he said, slows down city business and sometimes requires that employees work overtime to complete their tasks. He said a request for performance will be issued in the near future so that vendors can submit software programs that will meet the city’s needs.
The council also voted unanimously to renew the contract with Waste Management for garbage pickup in the city. The contract renewal is for five years. Garbage rates will remain the same.
At the meeting’s outset, Livingston Parish Clerk of Courts Jason Harris said he had come to acquaint himself with the Walker City Council and city employees. Harris said his office is the repository of records for the civil and criminal courts in the parish and for all property transfers and records of property ownership. Harris said his office maintains records that go back to 1875. “If you are interested in who owned property that far back the information is in the Clerk of Courts Office. There are many interesting things of historical importance in our office,” he said.
Harris said his office employees 53.