Roosevelt Johnson intends to take mayor’s seat

By Bill Sumrall
The Light
City Councilman-at-Large Roosevelt Johnson officially announced his candidacy
to run for mayor of Alexandria Thursday.

Some 50 people attended the June 24 event on the steps of Alexandria City Hall,

including members of Xtreme Praise Ministries, who performed afterward.

Johnson acknowledged God and thanked his wife, supporters and family during

his opening remarks.

“I’ve waited for this moment for four years, a chance to stand before you, to come

again, because I love Alexandria, I love this city, I love what Alexandria has to
offer for its future,” Johnson said, referring to his 2006 bid for the office of mayor.

“This is a great day for me because on this day, what the people have waited on,

for what you have waited on, I announce my candidacy,” Johnson said.

Applause and cheers from those present partially drown out his words.
Johnson finished third in the 2006 mayoral primary election. The open primary

election this year is Oct. 2 and, if needed, a runoff will be held Nov. 2. Qualifying
for the mayor’s race is set for July 7-9.

So far, only two other people, Von Jennings and the Rev. Joseph Franklin, have

announced their candidacy for mayor of Alexandria, a post currently held by
Jacques Roy.

Mayor Roy was elected to his first term in 2006 after former Mayor Ned

Randolph, who served for 20 years, decided not to seek a sixth term.
Johnson told the crowd about his plans should he win election as mayor.

“The Johnson plan is a plan of spirit for our community … for the best and the

brightest to come together for economic development and industrial growth, for
public safety and safe communities within our city, the repairing of the
infrastructure for future growth and development,” Johnson said.

Johnson also touted development of Red River economic assets, maintaining

good government, ensure partnerships with other cities, towns and communities
and restoring neighborhoods “to what we want them to be, to build a strong
community … within our Alexandria.”

Johnson cited proper drainage, flood control and crime prevention as issues

important to him and pledged to establish partnerships with local private and
public colleges so graduates choose to stay and develop our future as a city.

“Our goal is to build strong communities and strong neighborhoods, quality of life,

to redevelop the Red River, to redevelop our port, to do those things that’s going
to make Alexandria grow,” Johnson said.

He wanted to ensure that a marina and redeveloping downtown and infrastructure

creates within the city “those goals, those objectives, that’s going to move our city
forward, to make Alexandria a marketplace for Louisiana,” Johnson said.

“On this day, the best choice, the right choice, for leadership, is workability,

accountability and responsibility, to do those things that’s going to bring those
results, with Roosevelt Johnson be chosen as your next mayor for the city of
Alexandria,” he said.

“There’s not but one choice which is the best choice, the right choice, for

leadership, to work together for the spirit of Alexandria, the spirit of our
community, to lead Alexandria forward, is Roosevelt L. Johnson,” he concluded.

Thursday’s announcement opened with welcoming remarks and the Pledge of

Allegiance led by Martha Raster, followed by the Rev. Michael Howard praying,
then Leonard Jackson citing Johnson’s experience and accomplishments.

Pineville mayor, council members take oath of office to serve city

The inauguration ceremony for the Pineville Mayor Clarence Fields and the city council was held Thursday,  July 1 Main Street Community Center in downtown Pineville.

Fields and the city’s five council members all were re-elected. Councilman Kevin Dorn was the only councilman to face opposition.

The ceremony featured several local ministers as well as an address from Louisiana College President Joe Aguillard.

Council members Mary Galloway, Kevin Dorn, Carol J. VanMol, Tom Bouchie and Nathan Martin each took the oath of office.

Galloway won a special election in 2008 to finish the term her brother, Joe Bishop, vacated when he was elected to the Rapides Parish Police Jury.

Three Cenla municipalities win state’s cleanest cities contest

Three Central Louisiana municipalities were named winners of the 2010 Cleanest City contest sponsored by the Louisiana Garden Club Federation.

The City of Pineville won in Category G, the City of Alexandria won in Category I and the Town of Lecompte won in Category C, according to a press release.

The first week in April, Pineville was judged in District competition and advanced to the State Cleanest City Contest finals, which were the held over the last two weeks.  This is Pineville’s fifth such award in the last eight years.  After winning their district many times previously, Pineville was selected as the state’s cleanest cikty for the first time by the Louisiana Federation of Garden Clubs in 2003, and repeated in 2004, 2006 and 2008.  Pineville’s entry is sponsored by the Alexandria Garden Club, which includes many Pineville members.

In 1958, the Louisiana Garden Club Federation Inc. was first among members of the National Council of state Garden Clubs, Inc. to sponsor a statewide “Cleanest City Contest”.

“This award is a victory for all city employees and our citizens.  I really want to commend our Public Works Department, the Pineville Beautification Committee and the Alexandria Garden Club.  It is obvious that our citizens and employees share the same sense of passion and pride in our community and about litter abatement, and what we can accomplish when we work together.”

Dr. N.D. Lee to celebrate 10th-year pastoral anniversary

The First Union Historic Baptist Church congregation will honor the 10th-year anniversary of Pastor Dr. N. D. Lee III at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 28.

The Rev. Joshua Joy Dara of Zion Hill Church Family will be the speaker.

At 6 p.m. Friday, March 26, there will be a musical featuring New Vision Gospel Singers, Betty Boss & New Inspirational Singers, T.J. & Trinity, the United Sons of God,New Scott Olly Mass Choir, and Maranatha Seventh Day Adventist Church Choir.

The church is located at 601 Lee St., Alexandria.

Alexandria, Pineville, Rapides Parish officials jointly meet to consider levee protection

By Bill Sumrall
The Light

Elected officials from Alexandria, Pineville and Rapides Parish  rallied  in an historic tri-governmental meeting to counter decertification of area levees.

“In the beginning, when we first heard this information, I think it threw a lot of us in shock,” Rapides Parish Police Jury President Richard Billings told more than 50 people gathered for the Wednesday,  Feb. 24 joint sessions of the Alexandria and Pineville city councils and police jurors meeting in the Alexandria City Hall’s council chambers.

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials are in the process of drawing floodplain maps which local officials say would result in disastrous financial consequences for city and parish residents and businesses.

Since Hurricane Katrina, FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers have revised levee and floodplain guidelines, officials say, which expanded 100-year floodplains but caused loss of levee certification, which would increase flood insurance premiums and adversely affect property development.

“Whether it be on the right-hand side of the levee or the left-hand side of the levee, we’re all in this together,” Billings said.

“If we can’t get this to where it’s accredited, and try to keep the insurance rates down, who would want to come in our levee district and build anything? I don’t think nobody would, because they could not afford to,” Billings said.

As for the police jury, Billings said he commends his colleagues for being willing to step forward and “try to do everything that we can possibly do to ensure the citizens not only of their safety but of (insurance) rating.”

Billings added, “I know in my heart this is a money thing.”

Roy O. Martin III later echoed this view. “My personal belief, as a private citizen, is, I think this is a federally caused situation that should be solved with federally caused dollars,” Martin said, which brought applause from the audience.

Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy emphasized the need to ensure the physical safety provided by the levees as well as the fiscal considerations.

“If there are sand boils and there are issues that are undermining the levees, we need to know where they are and the exact cost, and we need to go fix them right now. We’re willing to do that,” Roy said.

“We’re willing to find the funds and do that right now, but we don’t that to be lost with the politics, if you will, of moving this process as far as the remapping to grab (insurance) premiums instead of thinking about, number one, safety, and then what’s fair and right. So, that’s what this process is about,” Roy said.

During the meeting, the Alexandria City Council passed resolutions and ordinances designed to form a committee to explore what is needed to fund and fix any problems found with the levees.

At one point in the meeting, Alexandria Councilman Chuck Fowler asked how much of Alexandria would be impacted by decertification of the levees, keeping in mind that federal flood insurance is required for mortgage lending.

Alexandria city engineer Michael Wilkinson estimated 95 percent of Alexandria would be impacted.

Mayor Roy said this is the reason he’s asking Alexandria’s City Council to consider at its next regular meeting to devote a small amount of funding toward helping in the joint effort to resolve the decertification issue.

“Our tax base will be destroyed by that action,” Roy said.

Though he didn’t have a percentage of the effect on his city, Pineville Mayor Clarence Fields said some may feel his city can opt out because it is located on higher ground but noted “it’s the overall picture that you actually have to look at.”

“Just think about it, 95 percent of Alexandria is affected. It’s going to affect Pineville and every municipality around us,” Fields said.

“It does not matter who’s in and who’s out. What matters is this region and the effect that it’s going to have economically,” Fields said.

Pineville woman charged with cruelty to infirmed

By EverythingCenla staff

Leah Gooden, 28, 403 Singer St., Pineville was arrested Wednesday in connection with the rape of an 82-year-old woman who lived at the same address, according to Lt. Darrell B. Basco, public information officer for the Pineville Police Department.

Gooden was arrested on a warrant and booked into the Rapides Parish Jail on charges of cruelty to the infirmed, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Basco said Gooden was the elderly woman’s primary caregiver when Gregory Edwin, who was arrested in January, allegedly raped the woman. Gooden and Edwin were in a relationship at the time of the incident.

At the time of Gooden’s arrest, she allegedly had marijuana and drug paraphernalia. The Office of Community Services took Gooden’s children into protective custody due to Gooden’s arrest.

PCC to host monthly neighborhood meeting Jan. 26

The Pineville Concerned Citizens,Inc. will hold its monthly neighborhood meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 26, at 6 p.m. at the Main Street Community Center, 708 Main St.

The topic will be Code Enforcement. The public is encouraged to attend. For questions, call (318) 561-0238.