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Safe Haven Campus Expands with Groundbreaking of Family Promise of St. Tammany Willie Paretti Day Center

Safe Haven Campus Expands with Groundbreaking of Family Promise of St. Tammany Willie Paretti Day Center

Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President, announced the groundbreaking of the Family Promise of St. Tammany Willie Paretti Day Center on the grounds of the Safe Haven campus. The facility will be a place where parents can come in the daytime hours with their children, and utilize case management resources to help them regain their footing. In addition, the day center will provide the Guest families with a mailing address and a place to search for employment and tend to basic needs like personal hygiene, laundry, and care of pre-school aged children. Family Promise currently operates a day center serving homeless families, in the Slidell area.

“Safe Haven will be all-encompassing, and Family Promise of St. Tammany plays a part in that as they help homeless families in our community find their way back from difficult times, and regain their footing,”  said Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President. “It is particularly heartwarming for me to see this building named in honor of Willie Paretti, who was not only a personal friend, but an unwavering, committed, community servant who held the cause and plight of our homeless residents dear to her own heart, and championed their cause throughout her life.”

“We are truly honored and privileged to have our new Day Center named in honor of Willie Paretti. Willie has positively impacted our families since our doors have opened,” said David Horchar, Executive Director, Family Promise of St. Tammany Willie’s generosity coupled with our other donors, volunteers and congregations have created more than a shelter. It’s become a beacon of hope for homeless children and their families.” 

“The Safe Haven Foundation chose Family Promise of St. Tammany as the beneficiary of our inaugural event, because we believe that behavioral health and behavioral health care, is important for every community to thrive,” said Jack Donahue, founding member of the Safe Haven Foundation. “We fully support the mission of Family Promise, and look forward to the completion of a second facility here in St. Tammany.”

The Family Promise Network Program brings shelter, meals, and support services to homeless families. It is a cost-efficient, effective community response to family homelessness. Guest Families will use this Day Center from 7:30 AM to 5:00 PM, where a Case Manager provides services. At the Day Center guests pursue employment, tend to their pre-school children, shower, and launder their clothing. The center provides guests with a mailing address and a base for housing and employment searches during their time in the program. Many guests are employed during the day, while older children attend school. Family Promise partners with area congregations to provide temporary housing at night.

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In 2015 Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President, announced her administration’s vision of developing a comprehensive system of behavioral health care in St. Tammany. Safe Haven will provide a collaborative healing environment for the behavioral health continuum by creating a high-quality, coordinated, sustainable and humane network of care anchored in St. Tammany Parish. The facility will serve as a comprehensive multi- faceted program and provide a drop-off location into the Behavioral Health continuum of care for law enforcement, the judiciary and local area hospitals. To sign up for updates on the progress of Safe Haven visit www.safehavenstp.org. 

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St. Tammany Parish Government Chooses Bond Firm For Infrastructure Investments

St. Tammany Parish Government Chooses Bond Firm For Infrastructure Investments

St. Tammany   Parish President Pat Brister announced today that Parish Government has accepted and opened the bids for the Parish’s bond issuance for investing in the Parish’s infrastructures needs. The bond sale drew an unprecedented eleven bidders, with the lowest bid proposal coming from J.P. Morgan Securities.

“Because of my administration’s conservative money management, we will be able to build more roads and continue to increase drainage capacity for the citizens of this Parish,” said Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President. “Because we have been great stewards of the taxpayers’ money, we have earned the second highest bond rating available from Standard and Poor’s; AA+. Our hard work has again paid off when it counts, with an exceptional bond sale to build more roads and drainage.”

Earlier this year Parish President Brister put into motion the mechanisms to bond out some of the future collections of the Parish’s dedicated sales tax, so that critical infrastructure needs could be met today, as opposed to a pay-as-you-go expansion of roads and drainage. She also announced the increase in St. Tammany Parish Government’s bond rating for Sales Tax District #3. This is the second bond rating upgrade on this tax in the last few years.

“Parish President Brister and her administration should be extremely pleased with the results of the bids. In the more than 45 years that I have been a part of processes just like this one, I have never seen this amount of interest in a government bond,” said Grant Schleuter, the Parish’s Bond Attorney. “This competition has resulted in the Parish getting the best deal the market had to offer.”

“St. Tammany Parish Government is one of four or five Parishes in the State with a rating this healthy,” said Jim Ryan, the Parish’s Municipal Advisor for the bonds. “Their exceptional rating, as well as their strict and methodical financial policies, can be directly attributed to the reason the Parish has gotten one of the best bond deals that I have ever seen.”

The investment in the infrastructure will be fully funded through the bond issue that was previously approved by voters. The final procedural step in the process will be before the Parish Council on May 2, 2019, at their May Parish Council Meeting, where they are expected to pass the final bond issuance ordinance they passed in April, but with the bid results attached.

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Cane Bayou Mitigation Bank will Save Money and Preserve over 1,000 Acres of Land

Cane Bayou Mitigation Bank will Save Money and Preserve over 1,000 Acres of Land

Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President, announced today, the opening of the Cane Bayou Mitigation Bank, and conservation project; the first of its kind in St. Tammany Parish. A culmination of over five years of work has resulted in roughly 1,200 acres of tree-populated land which will be preserved, and a portion utilized, for wetlands mitigation by St. Tammany Parish Government. Wetlands mitigation credits, required by federal law when natural resources are disrupted through developmental impacts, were previously purchased from out-of-state companies at a much higher cost. St. Tammany Parish Government will fund the bank out of capital project funds in the amount of $6,000 per credit, as opposed to market value which can range up $22,000 per credit.
 
 “This 1200-acre Mitigation Bank is a re-investment in St. Tammany, through responsible preservation and growth that takes into consideration both the viability of a location for development, but mitigates the environmental impact through planned, dedicated environmental equity, and guaranteed preservation,” said Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President. “The Cane Bayou Mitigation Bank will give us another tool to save taxpayers money, because we will not have to rely on out-of-state banks to purchase credits, and  it will help us to maintain our commitment to preserving what is one of our greatest assets — our pristine natural resources.”
 
According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers the objective of a mitigation bank is, “… to provide for the replacement of the chemical, physical and biological functions of wetlands and other aquatic resources which are lost as a result of authorized impacts.” Land is purchased and then donated to the place impacted for preservation, in perpetuity. This mitigated land cannot, by law, be developed.
 
St. Tammany Parish has purchased, and placed in conservation, 1169.2 acres of land.  The project will consist of two phases involving wetlands restoration. The first phase of the Mitigation Bank (section 1 on map) will provide approximately 395 acres of mitigation credits. The second phase (section 2) will provide nearly 300 acres of mitigation credits. The bank will be established through the restoration, creation, and/or enhancement of these wetlands.
 

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Wetland Mitigation banking
 
Wetland mitigation banking is the restoration, creation or enhancement of wetlands for the purpose of compensating for unavoidable impacts to wetlands at another location. Wetland mitigation banking is commonly used to compensate for wetland impacts from development, but it also used for impacts from agriculture.
 
How Mitigation Banking Works
 
Producers can buy credits from wetlands mitigation banks to compensate for the impact of lost wetlands. Wetland mitigation banks are established through the restoration, creation or enhancement of wetlands. When a mitigation bank is established, the landowner retains ownership and use of the property, while a conservation easement protects the wetlands from degrading activities. The size and scope of the wetland restoration, creation or enhancement activities determine the quantity of credits available for sale. The price of credits is negotiated between the buyer and seller.
 

Source: USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

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Keep St. Tammany Beautiful Hosts First Residential Shred Day

Keep St. Tammany Beautiful Hosts First Residential Shred Day

Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President, announced Keep St. Tammany Beautiful will host its first Shred Day — offering secure document shredding at no charge. Shred Day is happening on Saturday, May 18, 2019, from 8 a.m. - 11 a.m. at the Centerpoint Park and Ride located in the Lacombe area. 

“When we can, we want to offer residents options for safe disposal of any waste, and personal documents — especially financial records — can contain sensitive information. This is an opportunity to safely and securely dispose of these papers at no cost,” said Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President. “As always, we ask people to be patient as events like these are popular.”

This event is for residents only — no commercial customers please. Residents can bring up to five file boxes measuring 15 inches x 12 inches x 10 inches, of paper documents per vehicle, and will be on-site as their documents are shredded. Acceptable items include: computer paper, computer binders, carbon forms, and entire files. There is no need to remove paper clips, staples, clasps or rubber bands. All shredded paper will be recycled.

For questions about the event contact Keep St. Tammany Beautiful at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (985) 898-2535.

 

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Crisis Receiving Center — Anchor to the Safe Haven Campus— on Track to Begin Construction

Crisis Receiving Center — Anchor to the Safe Haven Campus— on Track to Begin Construction

Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President, announced today the completion of architectural plans for the Crisis Receiving Center on the Safe Haven Campus. Bids will open in May. Upon completion, this facility will serve as the anchor of the Safe Have Campus — currently an open, working campus offering behavioral health services.

“Moving forward with the Crisis Receiving Center is a major forward step in the progress of the Safe Haven initiative, but also a major forward step for behavioral health care in this region,” said Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President. “We are looking forward to the start of this renovation to transform this property into a working facility that will ultimately shape the future of behavioral health care here in our community. We are investing in our future, because the physical and mental health of our residents — our neighbors, friends and family — is the cornerstone of our community.” 

The Crisis Receiving Center will be housed in an existing Parish-owned and maintained building, located on the Safe Haven Campus. Plans include renovations and upgrades to approximately 12,528 square feet of the building to make it fully operational. Once complete, the Crisis Receiving Center will serve as a single point of entry for people in a behavioral health crisis, whether they walk in, or are transported to the center by trained law enforcement, or local emergency departments. The facility will have 24 beds   where patients can be housed from 24 up to 72 hours, while undergoing evaluation, diagnosis and ultimately placement, in the correct phase of the behavioral health continuum.  

The Safe Haven initiative is expected to save residents millions of dollars through increased and early access to mental health services; a lessened burden on law enforcement, local jails and hospital emergency departments; and the creation of sustainable, accessible, behavioral health resources for the community, as well as the region. 

Once bids are closed, and contractors are selected, officials anticipate completion of this project by late 2019/early 2020. Learn more about Safe Haven here.

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St. Tammany Parish Government Receives Second Fiscal Accolade of 2019 from Independent Entity

St. Tammany Parish Government Receives Second Fiscal Accolade of 2019 from Independent Entity

Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President, announced today that the St. Tammany Parish Department of Finance has been awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting, by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada, for the 15th consecutive year.  This recognition comes just weeks after business analysts from Standard and Poor’s (S&P), raised the rating of the bond that Parish Government holds and manages for roads and infrastructure. Sales Tax District #3 earned a  bond rating upgrade for the second time within five years.

The Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by the government and its management. The comprehensive annual financial report, or CAFR, is evaluated every year by an impartial panel based on the high standards of the program, which includes demonstrating a constructive “spirit of full disclosure” to clearly communicate the Parish’s financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the CAFR.

Leslie Long, Chief Financial Officer, Annie Perkins, Assistant Director of Finance, and Laura Reine Lyons, Senior Accounting Manager, are the recipients named on the award.

“This is what we have come to expect from our Department of Finance, as they continue to raise the bar higher each year on how to find efficiencies, how to maintain transparency, and on ease of use by our citizens and elected officials,” said Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President. “This is critically important to internal departments, but also to our residents — the taxpayers — to see how and where their tax dollars are spent.”

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Special Finance Committee Meeting

Special Finance Committee Meeting

St. Tammany Parish Councilman Rykert Toledano, chairman of the Council’s Finance Committee, has called for a special Finance Committee meeting to be held on Monday, April 1, 2019 at 6:00pm in Council Chambers, at 21490 Koop Drive, Mandeville.  The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the recently received Industrial Tax Exemption (ITEP) applications from Mechanical Equipment Company, Inc., Dependable Glass Works and Diversified Foods & Seasonings, LLC.

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First Day of Spring sees 38,000 Additional Trees Added to the St. Tammany Canopy

First Day of Spring sees 38,000 Additional Trees Added to the St. Tammany Canopy

Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President, announced that on Wednesday, March 20 — the first day of spring— the Replant St. Tammany initiative continued, with the planting of 38,000 trees in the Cypress Bayou regional detention pond in the Lacombe area. This planting is through a three-year, $125,456 Grant award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s CDFA Program to the St. Tammany Parish Department of Environmental Services (DES).

“Water quality, flood mitigation, wildlife habitat creation, and of course, aesthetics — all of these are benefits we see from trees,” said Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President. “Trees are a vital part of our overall infrastructure. They also contribute to our economic stability because our rich natural resources add to our overall quality of life, which makes us a well-rounded destination for businesses and families.”

Spanning three years, this grant will enable DES to plant 90-acres of the 153-acre Cypress Bayou regional detention pond with a mix of indigenous trees and shrubs; conduct a habitat site assessment of existing pond conditions and enhancements prior to, and quarterly throughout the proposed three-years of funding; and sample and quantify water quality benefits on the discharges from the pond outfall resulting from the plantings. As a partner in this project, Southeastern Louisiana University will conduct the pre-planting (baseline) and post-planting sampling to document of water quality improvements from the vegetation, through their LELAP-certified Water Quality lab. The project is underway and will run through December of 2021.

Since the start of 2019, over 40,000 trees have been planted throughout St. Tammany Parish.

 

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St. Tammany Parish President asks LADOTD to Address Traffic Issues

Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President, has asked District Engineer Administrator for LADOTD, in a letter to insist that mitigative measures be implemented to ease congestion issues resulting from the Highway 190 improvements in the Covington area.

“We are just as frustrated as everyone else, because we drive these roads every day too. We are not the project lead, but we can communicate these frustrations through to our partners at LADOTD, and request corrective action. I made this very clear in my letter,” said Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President. “This is a $9.1 million project based on traffic studies, and relevant data, which will ultimately increase traffic flow and capacity, but as we all know that with long-term improvements, there are sometimes short-term problems that arise.”

Brister has asked LADOTD to consider every preventative option available including avoiding certain aspects of work at peak times. She also asked that they respond with their plans moving forward, to prevent these types of delays as the project comes to completion.

Brister went on to say, “With the widening of the Bogue Falaya Bridge to begin in mid-2020, I encourage every resident to stay abreast of plans put forth by LADOTD; offer their input when asked to do so; attend public meetings;  and sign up for emails from Parish Government, where we share these LADOTD updates. I also encourage everyone to drive courteously and with care, with full attention to the road.”

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Strategic Road Plan Continues to Move Forward with Announcement of $30 Million Infrastructure Investment

Strategic Road Plan Continues to Move Forward with Announcement of $30 Million Infrastructure Investment

Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President, announced an upcoming $30 million investment by Parish Government for a road infrastructure improvement and creation initiative. Brister noted this announcement is the next step in her administration’s long-term vision for a focused, systematic,  infrastructure planning and implementation process that has been ongoing since she took office in 2012.

“From the moment I came into office, infrastructure has been my top priority. I am proud of the culmination of the groundwork we have done so far and what we continue to accomplish through smart, well-thought-out planning. This investment is the next logical step in our ongoing plans to increase, improve and maintain our roads,” said Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President. “As we continue to invest, build momentum, and gather data to intelligently prioritize road maintenance, we are now more prepared than ever to move forward with the next phase of this long-term vision, and this $30 million will allow us to jumpstart critical projects.”

The investment will be funded through a $30 million bond issue. This bond will be secured and the debt service paid, from the Parish’s dedicated 2% roads and drainage tax. This bond issue, which was previously approved by voters, will be introduced before the Council on Thursday, at their regular monthly meeting. The bond rating on Sales Tax District #3 was very recently upgraded for the second time within five years, to AA+ (Double A Plus) meaning Parish Government will see a cost-savings because of smart money management.

Brister went on to say, “The bond issue will allow us to accomplish projects now rather than doing them on a pay-as-you-go basis. In order to make thoughtful choices when it comes to prioritizing these projects, we rely on our annual Capital Improvement Plan to capture and track priority projects; we utilize factual data from our pavement assessment tool — FUGRO — ; and we continue to implement  our Major Streets Plan. This wisely planned infusion of dollars for the next phase of projects will have positive, multi-layered, generational impacts on St. Tammany. ”

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