Madisonville Police Chief Barney Tyrney

Madisonville Chief of Police Barney Tyrney told the Madisonville Town Council at its June 13 meeting that motorists are continuing to speed through the town despite his department’s best efforts.

Tyrney reported that the number of speeding citations issued by his patrolmen has increased every month since he stepped up enforcement shortly after taking office in February. He said 244 citations were issued in May, compared to 30 in May 2017, but the increased ticket-writing has had little effect on motorists' behavior.

Councilman Tim Bounds said the most disturbing aspect of the situation is the number of tickets that are being written for “gross violations,” or speeds well in excess of the posted limits. Bounds pinned the blame on out-of-towners, saying that the vast majority of violators are nonresidents.

Tyrney has vowed to continue his department’s aggressive enforcement efforts and explore additional measures until speeding is brought under control.

To that end, Tyrney said, he has asked town attorney Bruce Danner to draft a traffic ordinance that will significantly increase speeding fines. Tyrney said he surveyed other parish municipalities and Madisonville’s fines, which were last revised in 2008, were among the lowest he found.

The new fines, he said, will still be lower than most, but will be “sufficient and fair.”

Tyrney also reported that his department has purchased an $8,500 “top of the line” portable speed trailer. The computerized trailer will be placed at strategic locations to warn motorists with a flashing sign when they are speeding.

It will not record license-plate numbers, but it will build a statistical database that records average vehicle speeds at 15-minute intervals. Those statistics will tell the department where and when it needs to focus its enforcement efforts.

Tyrney also expressed concern about vehicle traffic on the town’s waterfront and said he will soon ask that the speed limit on Water Street and the four streets that lead to it be reduced from 25 to 15 mph.

Also at the meeting, St. Tammany Fire Protection District 2 Chief Randy Hess introduced new Fire Prevention Officer Joey Sanders. Sanders staffs the district’s Fire Prevention Bureau, which was established last year to inspect the district’s commercial buildings to verify that they meet state fire prevention and safety codes.

Sanders reported that he has completed the first round of inspections and found no major deficiencies.

At the end of the meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Brad Haddox, who presided in the absence of Mayor Jean Pelloat, asked for volunteers to serve on a strategic planning advisory committee. The committee will work with consultants from the Baton-Rouge based Center for Planning Excellence, which has been contracted to help the town develop a vision and plan for the downtown area.

The advisory committee will be a working group that meets regularly with the consultant team, reviews draft documents and offers input and feedback, and acts as a liaison with stakeholder groups. The committee will meet periodically and attend all public workshops and meetings.

Anyone interested in serving on the committee or nominating someone should contact a council member or the mayor’s office at (985) 845-3636 as soon as possible, since the committee is being formed now.