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This week’s talking points ... with Shonna Riggs

By Shonna Riggs -   Nov 30, 2006

There were no emergency signs on the roadways to guide residents fleeing Hurricane Katrina, but the confusion that resulted from that scenario won’t happen again - because a $200,000 “emergency notification system” - that’s a fancy way to say “radio transmitter” - is on the way.

The new system combines a low-power AM radio station with electronic message boards and is designed to avoid the breakdown in communications the parish suffered during the Category 5 storm.

"We just weren't prepared," Emergency Operations Center director Tab Troxler tells the Herald-Guide.

"I never knew how much our communications equipment needed to be updated until after Katrina hit."

Troxler says the new message boards will alert citizens to tune into the radio station. Parish officials expect the entire system to be up and running by the end of December or early January.

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Speaking of Katrina, the storm’s 130 mph winds caused more than $500,000 in damages to the St. Charles Parish Courthouse, all of which will finally be repaired with $1.5 million .

In a regular meeting, the parish council approved funds to make essential repairs to the 30 year old structure.

Joe Murray Architects will be supervising the work to improve and make repairs.

The cost of the new hurricane-proof glass is $226,000. The interior repairs will cost at least $731,000. An additional $480,000 is needed to replace the roof.

FEMA - the Federal Emergency Management Agency - is reimbursing the parish for the cost of all repairs as a preventive measure against future damage.

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St. Charles Parish schools have banned smoking on its 19 school campuses and the restriction applies to everyone - even visitors and parents who might be tempted to light up on school grounds.

The school system will abide by the Louisiana Smoke Free Act, which prohibits the use of tobacco products you have to light anywhere on school grounds.

Snuff or chewing tobacco is okay, an official told me.

The new state law requires law enforcers - in St. Charles Parish, that means sheriff’s deputies - to issue a summons for violations that carry fines ranging from $25 to $100 for anyone caught smoking anywhere on school grounds, even during afterschool activities.

St. Charles' current policy prohibits smoking and the use of any tobacco product that smokes on school grounds, school board buildings, and school board-owned vehicles. It had allowed non-students to use tobacco at outdoor and after-hour activities.
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Honored as 2006-2007 Principals of the Year are Tresa Webre from Luling Elementary, Dianne Powell from R.K. Smith Middle and Barbara Fuselier form Hahnville High.

In addition, Webre and Fuselier have been named Regional Principals of the Year and will move on to compete at the state level.

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