VP City Council learns of improved fire rating

News was received during Tuesday’s Ville Platte City Council meeting that affects homeowners insurance rates within the city limits.
Fire Chief Chris Harrison reported the fire ratings from the Property Insurance Association of Louisiana had come back and the city received a Class 2 rating effective November 5, which improved from Class 3. According to the chief, factors that went into the rating were record keeping, water, equipment, training man-power, and communication.
Chief Harrison commented, “I have to thank my staff.” He added, “(PIAL) complimented the water department superintendent Don White. The water department actually scored 37 points out of a possible 40. I didn’t do it all by myself.”
Mayor Jennifer Vidrine congratulated the fire and water departments and expressed the new rating is “a very big deal because, effective November 5, you can notify your homeowners’ insurance that we are a Class 2, and your homeowners’ insurance should be going down.”
The mayor also announced that city had received a grant in the amount of $658,000 for the purchase of a new ladder truck for the fire department. She said, “The old one we had was 37-years-old, so this one will be brand new and custom made.”
The council, later in the meeting, heard from Gene “Swabby” Soileau, a resident of the Shady Acres Subdivision, about the rash of robberies in the area. “It looks like it’s the same people because we see them on camera,” he said. “I talked to (Police Chief Neil Lartigue) the other day, and he said (the department knows) who they are. Why don’t we get them?”
Chief Lartigue responded, “We can’t clearly identify them. We don’t have the probably cause right now to get them. We’re still working on that. I put some extra patrols in there, and the officers have to call it in to dispatch every time they are in that area. I have to hold them accountable for what’s going on there.”
Soileau added, “Meanwhile, they’re still breaking in. They broke in again Sunday night. We’re all some old people, most of us. We just want some relief.”
To that point, Chief Lartigue again said he had put some extra patrols in the area. The chief also implored the residents of Shady Acres present at the meeting to “ask your neighbors to lock their vehicles.”
He added, “They’re getting robbed without a broken window, and they’re not helping the police.”
Mayor Vidrine piggybacked on that point and said, “Please, lock your vehicle and take your purse out of the vehicle even if nothing is in your purse. Don’t leave anything visible that they can break your window and run off with.”
The mayor reminded residents about the curfew in place and to call the police department or the new tips hotline when they see something suspicious in the city.
Increased police patrol also came up during the meeting as the council was debating to grant an alcohol permit to Sunshine Store at 705 Edward Knotoe Thomas Street, which is the old L&V.
Councilman Freddie Jack asked if that was the same location where a street fight had taken place the night before on Monday. It was confirmed that it was the same location which prompted Councilman Jack to request from the police chief to periodically place an officer in the area to help with the loitering problem.
Chief Lartigue stated the extra patrols are in place, and, like in Shady Acres, the officers have to “call it in when they go through the area to make sure the streets are clear.”
Councilman Jack, because of the loitering problem, said, “Maybe we ought to deny that liquor permit.”
“You cannot deny this man a liquor permit because of the traffic around there,” replied Councilman Bryant Riggs. “There are other reasons why there are traffic. We would have a lawsuit on our hands because we don’t have a valid reason behind this. We have to follow the law.”
A motion was made by Councilman Jerry Joseph and seconded by Councilman Donald Sam to grant the permit, and the motion passed by a vote of 3-2. Voting in favor were Councilmen Joseph, Sam, and Riggs. Voting against were Councilmen Jack and C.J. Dardeau. Councilman Mike Perron was absent because of health reasons.
The council also granted alcohol permits for Cheap and Best at 1215 W. Lincoln at the old K&B and for Leroy’s Cajun Meats.
In other business, the council:
• heard from Councilman Riggs on his proposal for inmate work crews.
• hired four new full-time patrol officers.
• heard from Executive Director of the Evangeline Chamber of Commerce Renee Brown about litter abatement programs and the political rally that will be held Tuesday, October 16, at 5:00 p.m. at the North Side Civic Center.
• tabled a request from Arthur Sampson to block off streets from NE Railroad Avenue and Main Street to East Washington Street around The Bulldog for Ville Platte High School’s homecoming.

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