Pine Prairie Police are investigating an incident that occurred this (Tuesday) morning at Sham’s Bait and Tackle Store on LA 13 in Pine Prairie. A newspaper carrier delivering newspapers contacted authorities that what she believed to be a forklift had been driven into the front of the store. Police were first notified of the incident at about 3:40am. Chief Todd Ortis told KVPI News that it turned out to be a rubber tire combination back hoe and front end loader. After an investigation, police determined that the back hoe was stolen from the Evangeline Parish Water District #1 Board Office at the corner of Holly and Railroad Street.. The suspect scaled a six foot barbed wire fence and was able to locate the key to start the machine. He then drove the back hoe through the fence all the way down LA 13 to the store. Store video showed the back hoe pushed the front door in and nearly demolished the entire front of the store. The suspect attempted to move the store ATM with the back hoe but was unsuccessful. The video showed the suspect, a white male, entering the store and surveying the ATM machine and the damage and then took off on foot. Police Chief Ortis said he has interviewed a person of interest but no arrests have been made. He feels confident that charges will be filed soon in the case. Anyone with information on this case is asked to contact the Pine Prairie Police Department at 599-2904. All calls will remain anonymous.
Sheriff Eddie Soileau commends his Juvenile Office, Cheree Eckhart, in solving residential burglaries before they were reported.
Dy. Cheree Eckhart Evangeline Parish Criminal Juvenile Division recently interrupted a burglary ring in the Reddell area. While working on a single complaint, Dy. Eckhart uncovered a group of juvenile had committed several unreported burglaries. As the investigation ensued it was discovered some residences were unaware that they had been burglarized. Eckhart’s investigation discovered several juveniles were in possession of the stolen items. The juveniles were responsible for burglarizing approximately three residences in the area. The juveniles are receiving frequent visitation from Juvenile Officer Eckhart. All of the stolen items have been recovered and returned to the rightful owners.
Sheriff Eddie Soileau reminds residents they can be a valuable tool to law enforcement by reporting any suspicious activity. He said it’s always better to call the Sheriff’s Office if you believe something illegal may be occurring in your area. Soileau thanked the community for its continued support and encouraged the public to continue to report illegal activities. He said, as always, all callers will remain anonymous.
Chief Neal Lartigue with the Ville Platte Police Department reports multiple arrests for narcotics in the past week. During undercover operations 4 arrests were made and a separate arrest during a traffic stop brings the total to 5 arrests according to Chief Lartigue.
Okinawa Arvie, 30 of 819 N. Soileau St. Ville Platte was arrested and charged with possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine, possession with intent to distribute marijuana and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Arvie was booked and remains incarcerated at the Ville Platte City Jail with no bond information available at this time.
Terrell Guillory, 25 of 413 Young St. Ville Platte was arrested and charged with possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine and simple possession of marijuana. Guillory was booked and remains incarcerated on a $ 15, 000.00 bond set by Judge J. Larry Vidrine.
Roy Serie 34, of 504 Southwest Railroad Ville Platte was arrested and charged with possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine. Serie was booked into the Ville Platte City Jail and released on a bond.
Nikki Gallow 29, of 112 East Desoto Street, Ville Platte was arrested and charged with distribution of crack cocaine. Gallow was booked into the Ville Platte City Jail and released on a $7,500.00 bond set by Judge Thomas Fuselier.
During a traffic stop Matthew Boutte of 2912 First Ave, Lake Charles was arrested and charged with No seat belt, no driver’s license, no vehicle insurance, switched license plate and possession of Schedule IV. Boutte was booked into the Ville Platte City Jail where he remains incarcerated with no bond information available at this time.
Chief Lartigue commends the officers and detectives who have been working diligently to combat the narcotic problem in the city. “We are showing the citizens that we are serious about reducing narcotics traffic in Ville Platte. Lartigue said, “We are standing by our promises and working hard for our community to be a safer place for everyone.” Lartigue reminds everyone that the anonymous tip calls are extremely helpful in fighting the war on drugs and ask for your continued support.
If you have information on illegal narcotics or any other crime you are asked to call the Ville Platte Police Department at 363-1313. All callers will remain anonymous.
Ville Platte- Evangeline Central School in Vidrine will have a new principal this fall. Superintendent of Schools Toni Hamlin Wednesday told members of the Evangeline Parish School Board that Dexter Brown will serve as an interim appointment as new principal at the school effective immediately. The appointment was made after the unexpected resignation of David Rivera who accepted a principalship in Kansas near where his wife is employed.
Dexter Brown is a seven year employee with the St. Landry Parish School System. He was serving as Assistant Principal at Beau Chene High and has a background in Special Education and working with the discipline of high school students. Brown is also a reserve a police officer and serves as a member of the St. Landry Parish Council.
Brown , who attended the meeting with his wife, thanked Hamlin and the school board for their vote of confidence. He said “I will do everything in my power to work toward the goal of having our students become productive citizens in society.”
Superintendent Hamlin commended Rivera for the accomplishments he was able to do while serving as principal at the school.
There are five programs operating at Evangeline Central in Vidrine. Among those programs include working with students with discipline problems and those wishing to achieve a GED.
The superintendent said the new state mandated “Connections” program for 15 year old students will operate at the school. The school district has indentified 116 students that qualify for the program . The goal is to accelerate learning to get students up to their grade level.
In other action the school board heard from Business Manager Amy Lafleur report on the Sales Tax Distribution checks.
Lafleur said the total excess in sales taxes amounted to $1.8 million dollars for this fiscal year which is $242,000 below the amount a year ago. The excess funds will be distributed to school employees in November.
Also, the school board:
approved the contract renewals of Desegregation Compliance Supervisor Darwin Lazard and Toby Doucet as Assistant Principal for another two years;
voted to advertise for the appointment of an LPN for Vidrine Elementary School.
The Ville Platte Chamber of Commerce today (Monday) heard from representatives of Cleco and Louisiana Economic Development to discuss Ville Platte’s ReadyCityproject. The Cleco representatives were Katy Chaisson and Roxanne Barnes.
Chamber members were urged to take the short on- line survey as business owners and as residents. The public was also reminded to attend a community town hall meeting Tuesday at 5:30at the VillePlatteNorthsideCivicCenter.
A Business Town Hall Meeting is set for Wednesday July 20 in the City Hall Board Room for business owners to attend.
All surveys should be completed and turned in by August 5. Ville Platte has been selected as one of eight cities in the state to be prepared as a Louisiana Ready Community to attract more business and industry.
The town hall meetings and surveys will give community leaders information to prepare a five year strategic plan.
You can go to our oldies925.com website home page and click on the Louisiana Development Ready Community link. It will take you directly to the community survey.
The Ville Platte Chamber of Commerce Business of the month for July is Perkala Antiques, Gifts and Coffee at 303 North Coreil.
The Chamber of Commerce will be participating in a ribbon cutting at Active Physical Rehab in Mamou for their grand opening on July 22.
Chamber Director Camille Fontenot said the Centennial Celebration of the parish’s 100th birthday is set for October 29.
Dr. Tojo Ward reported that we are just weeks away from having the Ward one Industrial Park become certified as a nationally recognized Industrial Park to help attract additional industry to our parish. The certification process began more than 14 months ago with the assistance of Cleco.
Jennifer Walker with Walker and Sons announced that Slap Ya Mama is in the process of moving to its new location at the old Pitre Ford location on West Main. The 40,000 square foot facility is being renovated to house Walker and Sons where the business will be able to house all of its products in one location. Once the project is completed, additional people will be employed with the company.
The president of the Evangeline Parish Chapter of the NAACP, Arthur Sampson, was escorted by police out of the Ville Platte City Council meeting room Tuesday as ordered by Mayor Jennifer Vidrine. Sampson and a group of citizens attended the meeting holding signs to protest the city curfew law and police brutality. Sampson’s issues were not on the agenda so the mayor did not permit him to speak at the meeting. Several times during the meeting the mayor warned Sampson to quit disrupting the meeting.
In a related matter, Police Chief Neal Lartigue reported that 58 suspects were arrested on curfew, reflective garment, slabbing and loud music violators. Mayor Vidrine said the curfew is working. “The curfew is a good thing and we’re going to keep it going, “said the mayor.
An official with the Louisiana Economic Development Administration congratulated the city on working to become a Louisiana “Ready City”. He urged citizens and businesses to participate in the surveys on the internet and also available at city hall, the chamber and at the library. Once the assessment surveys are compiled, a steering committee will prepare a five year strategic plan. The city hopes to be certified a “ready city” for economic development to induce more business and industry by early next year.
In another matter, Pam McGee gave an update report on the abandoned house problem in the city. McGee said the city has about 400 abandoned homes scattered through out the city
The council approved adding fines to owners of abandoned homes: First time and Second time offenders could face fines up to $500. A third time offender could face up to $2000 in fines.
Mayor Jennifer Vidrine said the city has been fighting this problem for nine years. “We need to clean up this city”.
Grant Coordinator Sharon Fontenot had good news for the city council. She announced that the Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice has awarded the city a $215,000 grant to fund the “Youth Opportunity Unlimited” program for another year. The program helps pay seventy 15 -year olds to learn real life job skills with local employers. Since the program began, some 470 students have completed the program.
Donna Byrne, Regional Director of AT&T, announced that AT&T is in the process of expanding coverage to the Ville Platte area over to much faster 3-G service for smart phones. While the switchover is being made, local residents may experience problems with their smart phones such as dropped calls. She hopes to have all of the bugs worked out in the next few weeks. She said AT&T is in the process of buying T-Mobile which will mean even faster service to local residents.
Mayor Vidrine reported that $62,000 worth of unpaid final utiility bills from residents who have moved away will be turned over to a collection agency. She also stated that the city has $324,000 in outstanding delinquent bills from local customers. Some of the bills are several years old.. She announced that utility bills are due on the 20th of the month. Customers have ten days to pay their bills. Bills become delinquent after that and subject to disconnection.
The Evangeline Parish Police Jury , Monday, took the first steps toward the construction of a new main branch of the Evangeline Parish Library.
Upon the recommendation of the Parish Library Board and discussion with Bonding Attorney Eric LaFleur , the jury approved having Lafleur and the library Board solicit quotes from all of the parish banks to fund the construction of a proposed $1.5 million dollar library.
The proposal will be submitted to the State Bond Commission to give permission for the parish to sell $1.5 million in revenue bonds to be repaid over a 15 year period from the revenues of a library millage tax.
The library board will locate the new library at its site in the middle of town on west main which was formerly the site of Ville Platte Medical Center,
In other business, the police jury received the official audit report from
C.P.A. Vic Slaven of Kolder, Champaigne, Slaven and Company. The jury voted 8-1 to approve the report with juror Lamar Johnson voting no. Johnson said he wanted more time to review the 92 page report.
Slaven said the police jury is operating in the black and has shown improvement in following recommendations from his firm and the legislative auditor.
Among the recommendations made in the audit report were: making sure management were presented with accurate monthly financial statements; have better controls on the use of credit cards, travel and expense reimbursement, contracts, personnel and payroll.
The police jury Monday adopted a written handbook on policy and procedures upon the recommendation by its auditors.
In other action the police jury:
--authorized meeting with the Ward Five fire District Board to review an Attorney General’s Opinion that prohibits a fire department from going outside its taxing district to fight a fire. The area in question is the Lone Pine community that is outside the Ward Five district;
--reappointed Joey Ardoin to another five year term on the Ward Five Water District Board;
--reappointed Katy Marcantel to another five year term on the Evangeline Parish Library Board;
A Ville Platte area woman was killed in a single vehicle accident early Sunday morning in the Bayou Chicot area according to State Police Troop I. The victim was identified as Jeannine Shafer age 17 of Ville Platte. The accident occurred at 4:00am on LA 106 just east of US 167. The car for some unknown reason crossed the centerline, leaving the roadway to the left and entered a ditch. The car began overturning. The driver was unrestrained and was ejected from her vehicle. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Ville Platte Police Chief Neal Lartigue reports multiple arrests in ongoing investigations. Lartigue reports that after a search warrant was executed on July 7, 2011 Anthony Navero, 66 of 113 East LaSalle St., Ville Platte was arrested and charged with Distribution of Schedule I Narcotic: and also Possession with Intent to Distribute marijuana. No bond information was available and Navero remains incarcerated at press time.
A separate search warrant was executed on July 7, 2011 and Fabian Albert, 26 of 502 Walnut Street, Opelousas was arrested and charged with Possession of a Schedule II Narcotic and also charged with Obstruction of Justice. No bond information was available and Albert remains incarcerated at press time.
A report of prescription fraud lead to an investigation and arrest on July 8, 2011. Jennifer Finch, 36 of 402 North Reed Street Apartment A, Ville Platte was arrested for prescription fraud and booked into the Ville Platte City Jail where she remains incarcerated. No bond information available at press time.
Arrested on July 7, 2011 was Dekoleon Campbell of 604 North East Railroad. Campbell was arrested for Possession of Schedule III Narcotic. Campbell remains incarcerated at the Ville Platte City Jail. No bond information available at press time.
Chief Lartigue would like to remind everyone that the Officers and Detectives of the Ville Platte Police Department continue working hard to clean our streets. “The calls we are receiving are helping us target the areas where the problems are occurring.” Lartigue said, “We appreciate the help of everyone who calls in with anonymous tips.”
To report illegal activities please call the Ville Platte Police Department at 363-1313. All calls will remain anonymous.
Dannie Lee Lafleur, Jr. age 21, of Ville Platte, LA appeared in the court of Honorable Thomas F. Fuselier on Thursday, July 7, 2011, and pleaded not guilty to charges of First Degree Murder and Armed Robbery. The trial has been scheduled for October 31, 2011. The charges stem from an incident which occurred on or about May 6, 2011, wherein Lafleur broke into a local business located on Main Streetin Ville Platte, Tat Nails, and robbed and shot and killed the owner, Tuc Thanh Do.
Also designated as a companion case to Lafleur’s is Denzel Frank, age 20, of Ville Platte, LA, who also pleaded not guilty to charges of Armed Robbery, Possession of an Unidentifiable Firearm and Illegal Possession of a Stolen Firearm. In another companion case involving this matter, Jeannie Mallee Fontenot, age 41, of Mamou, LApleaded not guilty to the charge of Accessory to Armed Robbery on May 19, 2011. Both trials are also scheduled for October 31, 2011.
Evangeline Parish District Attorney
Ville Platte Upon a recommendation from its architect, the Evangeline Parish School Board, Wednesday, approved a change order to the major renovation project going on at Ville Platte High School. The changes include: replacing wiring and conduit to the school gymnasium, change door openings, renovate the main building stairs and replace the flooring in the main building hall ways. The total price tag for the change order, according to architect Perry Watson will be $116,822.
The original contract called for the project to cost the school board $3,008,000. With the newest change order, the renovation project has increased to $3.3 million dollars.
Superintendent of Schools Toni Hamlin said there has been a lot of progress in the construction work at the school. She said the auditorium is about 90 percent complete. The office area is complete and furniture has been ordered..
The architect told the members of the school board that the entire project should be completed by New Years Day.
In a related matter, Superintendent Hamlin said local industries have had the opportunity of visiting Ville Platte High School.
She announced that the Cabot Corporation Citizens Board held a recent meeting at the school. She said the board was impressed with the school construction and the academic advancements the school district is making.. She also announced that Cameron Corporation visited Ville Platte High School last week.
Hamlin told the board she is committed to continue reaching out to local business and industry and to prepare and train students who do not go on to post secondary education to enter the job market.
In other action the school board:
--received encouraging news from Business Manager Amy Lafleur that sales tax collections for June, the final month in the fiscal year, actually increased over the same period a year ago. Overall, the school district collected $216,710 less sales taxes during the entire year over the previous year.
--approved a recommendation by the superintendent to permit the use of parent volunteers as substitute teachers once they have completed the parish training. A background check will be required.
The Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Department is searching for a missing man who failed to return home Tuesday night from a supper he attended near his residence in the Cahtaignier area. A spokesman for Evangeline Parish Sheriff Eddie Soileau identified the missing man as Terry Fontenot age 68, a white male. He was driving a 2005 white GMC Sierra Pickup truck bearing La. License # W-790406. If anyone comes in contact with him or know his whereabouts, please contact the Evangeline Parish Sheriff Office at 363-2161 as soon as possible.
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The Louisiana Swamp Pop Museum operated by the City of Ville Platte is open to the public every Friday and Saturday from 10:00am to 3:00pm. Come view the amazing artifacts, photos, records, Wall of Fame and hear the music. Admission charge is $3 adults, $2 seniors and $1 for children under 12. The museum is located on Northwest Railroad Avenue.