[StBernard] St. Bernard DC Trip and Breakfast
Westley at da-parish.com
Wed Feb 4 18:15:19 EST 2009
St. Bernard Parish officials lobbied for federal funding
Parish hosted a breakfast in the Capitol to tout the parish's recovery and
During a recent trip to Washington, D.C., St. Bernard Parish President Craig
P. Taffaro, six council members and Director of Recovery Dave Dysart met
with Senator Mary Landrieu, Senator David Vitter, Congressman Charlie
Melancon, Congressman Rodney Alexander, Congressman Steve Scalise,
Congressman Joseph Cao, USDA Deputy Administrator Chris Alsop, FEMA Acting
Administrator Nancy Ward, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers General Bo Temple
and several federal bureaucrats in an effort to advance the Recovery and
Growth of St. Bernard Parish.
"While the focus of these meetings largely was informational and directed
to address the needs of the parish to increase cash flow for FEMA projects,
keeping the MRGO closure and coastal projects as a priority, and to express
support for the infrastructure portion of the Stimulus Package, the
continued informal dialogue certainly added to an understanding of the sense
of urgency and continued need for support of our progress," President
"Perhaps the most beneficial part of the trip was the reality that our
delegation remains aware of and committed to addressing our needs,"
President Taffaro said. "Despite the partisan atmosphere of D.C., our
delegation of local officials was successful in communicating our needs to
both Republicans and Democrats. In response to the this awareness, Senator
Landrieu has introduced legislation that specifies a time sensitive process
to resolve project disputes with FEMA that will result in a binding
arbitration agreement and upon learning of needed language in the stimulus
bill to allow St. Bernard to access stimulus funds through USDA for a
hospital, Senator Landrieu and Congressman Melancon agreed to add the
language and the other members agreed to consider it.
"As a result of the trip, our stimulus priorities which include funding
requests for the hospital project, an industrial park, water and sewer
projects, commercial demolition, and road repair funding was clear," Taffaro
said. "Also, we received a commitment from the US Army Corps of Engineers
to press forward in reaching the target date of 2011 for 100 year hurricane
levee protection and ensuring that the MRGO closure structure at Bayou La
Loutre will be completed on schedule for 2009 hurricane season, and that the
advance measures for the gate structure near Bayou Bienvenue and Paris Road
across the MRGO and the GIWW will be constructed in a way that is
coordinated with St. Bernard's levee construction so as to reduce any
additional risks to our Parish. Additionally, the Corps committed to
reexamining the construction design of the Bayou La Loutre structure where
it ties into the natural ridge. A review of the FEMA process and suggested
adjustments were well received and we received a commitment to assist St.
Bernard to the successful conclusion of our recovery, including aid for our
medical clinic services.
"It was obvious that should the infrastructure stimulus funds be released
that our work will be to partner with the State to vie for the support of
our priority projects. As funding is released from Washington, the need for
Capital Funding from Baton Rouge becomes critical for our projects."
In addition to the meetings, the parish government hosted a breakfast on
Jan. 31, 2009, during the Washington Mardi Gras festivities for federal
officials and regional leaders in an effort to promote the good news about
the parish's level of recovery and growth.
The breakfast, attended by Senators Landrieu and Vitter as well as
Congressmen Melancon and Scalise, also included a host of other officials
from FEMA, the USDA, and several parish leaders from six neighboring
parishes. Parish officials took the opportunity to give updates on the
parish recovery and showed a DVD touting the parish's growth. In addition to
Taffaro, Parish Council members Frank Auderer, Wayne Landry, Ray Lauga,
George Cavignac, Mike Ginart and Fred Everhardt attended the meetings and
The parish also took the opportunity to honor local young women taking part
as princesses in the Washington Mardi Gras' Krewe of Louisianians from the
area. Councilman Mike Ginart presented parish proclamations to Kristen Gros
from St. Bernard Parish and Christina Perez from Plaquemines Parish.
The event was sponsored by a series of local businesses and contractors, and
the parish thanks its sponsors: Unified Recovery Group, Ordes Electric, Gulf
Coast Bank and Trust Company, CDM, Arlene & Joseph Meraux Charitable
Foundation, All South Consulting Engineers, Chester Engineers, Briones
Consulting & Engineers, Associated Terminals of St. Bernard, Barowka &
Bonura Engineers & Consultants, T-MAC Construction Company, Tonry & Ginart
Law firm, Craig P. Taffaro Jr., J & R Amusement Company, Stuart Consulting
Group, Meyer Engineers, Urban Systems and Barker's Dozen.
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