Here’s a look back at the events reported on the front page of the Teche News over those often exciting months:
July 4 — Henderson — District Judge Gerard B. Wattigny struck down an annexation attempt by the Town of Henderson, saying it was discriminatory and aimed at making the town more prosperous.
•St. Martinville — The St. Martin Sheriff’s Office offered to take over dispatch services for the municipalities in the parish.
July 11 — Breaux Bridge — St. Martin School Board member Floyd Knott calculated that certified teachers in the parish are in for a $4,234 pay hike.
•St. Martinville — The state’s teachers and school bus drivers were not the only folks getting love from the Louisiana Legislature this summer. A lot of public officials including judges, statewide elected officials and the courthouse gang — clerks, assessors and registrars of voters — were up for salary increases, some as much as 30 percent.
July 18 — Bayou Postillion — State-sanctioned land-grab? Atchafalaya dredging questioned. Bayou Postillion a natural waterway on the western side of the Basin opening into vast cypress-tupelo swamps from Intercoastal Waterway’s alternate route to the Mississippi River.
•St. Martinville — The current sugarcane crop across Louisiana seems to be quite promising, and, if the cooperative weather that cane farmers have seen so far this year, continues the industry should experience one of the more productive harvests in the recent past.
July 25 — Breaux Bridge— The new Wal-Mart Supercenter opens in Breaux Bridge. The event was marked by a 7:30 a.m. ribbon cutting ceremony attended by city and parish officials, Wal-Mart executives, dozens of blue-shirted associates and a throng who simply couldn’t wait to start shopping.
•St. Martinville — Martin Mills is manufacturing again. Right now it’s mass-produced energy-efficient 1,500-square-foot homes. Soon it’ll also be tankless hot water heaters and “structural insulated panels,” or SIPs, a major building block of the “green” revolution.
Aug. 1 — St. Martinville — The Louisiana Legislature appropriated $8 million to repair and renovate the 42-year-old Louisiana Technical College Evangeline Campus.
Regional LTC Director Phyllis Dupuis reported that deferred maintenance was an ongoing problem and it was to be solved by the approved legislation.
•St. Martinville — St. Martin Sheriff’s Deputy Ernest Singleton was serving an unpaid suspension because he was facing charges of animal cruelty. Singleton’s 17 dogs were seized and brought to the St. Martin Parish Animal Shelter for recovery from emaciation and supposed fighting wounds.
Aug. 8 — Breaux Bridge — The School Board, deciding against its own special committee, approved 31 zone transfers. None of the requests were for students to transfer to primary, elementary or junior high schools in St. Martinville or Breaux Bridge.
•Breaux Bridge — Mayor Jack Dale Delhomme and the city council have decided to begin cracking down on neglectful property owners within the city. Since 2004, it is illegal to allow overgrown weeds, junk cars and dilapidated buildings to defile property within city limits.
•Aug. 15 — New Iberia — The Department of Environmental Quality held a hearing to renew a permit for Gordon’s Construction and Landfill that sits on the outskirts of St. Martin Parish. Opposition from residents in St. Martin and Iberia Parishes, politicians and aviators from the Iberia Regional Airport urged the DEQ against the renewal for serious safety concerns.
•Breaux Bridge — Employees and administration at St. Martin Hospital were hoping St. Martin Parish voters would support a 4.75-mill property tax renewal that was to be on the Nov. 17 ballot. The money generated would be used to purchase an emergency generator and an additional chiller to augment the air conditioning system.
Aug. 22 — Breaux Bridge — The city fathers here discussed the demolition of the dilapidated Domingue Motors building, located on Berard Street across from City Hall, after instituting a “no-mercy” policy to clean up the city. They also addressed deteriorating roads within the city that were improperly constructed causing them to wear earlier than normal.
•Breaux Bridge — The large oak tree in Veterans Park caused safety issues after dropping a large limb earlier in the month. This not being the first time the tree shed some extra weight, was discussed as a safety issue.
Aug. 29 — Atchafalaya Basin — The Louisiana Black Bear population in the parish was revisited after a court order to designate habitats for the bears was issued. Locals argued that this could lead to an exit for the Endangered Species Act and allow industries to harvest cypress from the area.
•Henderson — After 80 years of service to the small fishing town, Amy’s Grocery, a landmark in the community, shut its doors.
Sept. 5 — Henderson — The city council here decided to appeal the blocked annexation of the I-10 interchange. John L. Olivier, of Olivier and Brinkhaus Law Firm, was chosen to represent the town.
•Breaux Bridge — The School Board held a lengthy meeting; the first of the new school year. Several financial items including approval of the board’s general and special funds budgets and property tax millage made the agenda.
Sept. 12 — St. Martinville — Mayor Thomas Nelson met with Cleco representatives and was reportedly optimistic towards being able to lower electricity bills for city residents.
•Parks — Village residents will no longer have local post office boxes offered within the community after Karl Blanchard is retiring and closing the Village Quick Stop contract postal unit.
Sept. 19 — Breaux Bridge — Upon recommendation of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, and hundreds of residents, the city council rejected a zoning change request from developer Odell Lamartinere. Despite rejection he said he would build on the lot at Gary and Poydras Streets, though the lots would be bigger and the homes there would be cheaper.
•Breaux Bridge — A group of soldiers with the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division’s 4th brigade visited the area for a religious retreat where they were treated to some Cajun hospitality. Sheriff Ronny Theriot purchased the group tickets to the LSU-Virginia Tech game in Baton Rouge.
Sept. 26 — Breaux Bridge — The state Bond Commission approved $1.5 million in state funds to finance improvements for the drainage, roads and other infrastructure. An additional $2 million was approved for the delayed courthouse project.
•St. Martinville — South Carolina resident Donnie Bulliard returned home to Cajun country to film segments of his Cajunkitchen.tv webcasts in an attempt to inform others about the Cajun culture, cuisine and eroding coastline.
Oct. 3 — St. Martinville — City electrical engineer Jim Poché told the City Council Monday that electric bills are going down on Jan. 1. “(The new contract with Cleco) will make enough of an impact where people will notice the difference,” he said.
•When it comes to job creation, Lafayette and St. Martin parishes are moving faster than anyplace else in the nation. That’s the word from the Milken Institute, an independent think tank doing research on economic and demographic issues.
Oct. 10 — An analysis of campaign finance reports for 2007 filed by Sydnie Mae Durand, Troy Hebert and Jeff Landry reveals a total of $283,128 coming from outside sources including political action committees, lobbyists, the oil patch, the health care industry, and other sources out of the senatorial district.
•St. Martinville — Registered voters who want to cast early ballots in the Oct. 20 primary election have until Saturday at 4:30 p.m. to do so in person at the parish courthouse here. Early voting began last Saturday.
Oct. 17 — Oct. 20 will be the first statewide election of the post-Katrina era, the first major turnover in the Legislature forced by term limits, and arguably the most significant gubernatorial pick since Huey P. Long ran in 1928. A low turnout is expected.
•Breaux Bridge — Everyone on the City Council here agrees that enforcing decency of dress among young people ought to be the job of parents or the school system. But if an ordinance introduced last week passes next month, it will also become the job of BBPD.
Oct. 24 — Nearly half of the registered voters here turned out Saturday to help elect Republican Bobby Jindal governor. Longtime lawmaker Sydnie Mae Durand was defeated for the parish’s state Senate seat as her two opponents, Troy Hebert and Jeff Landry, advance to the runoff election Nov. 17.
•St. Martinville — City officials and community leaders have vowed — not for the first time — to get their arms around the annual Mardi Gras celebration once and for all. A committee has been formed to work out agreements for security and traffic control.
Oct. 31 — Voters on Oct. 20 gave landslide victories to Sheriff Ronny Theriot, running for his second term, and to Parish Councilman Fred Mills Jr. in his first try for the Legislature.
•St. Martinville — The first-degree murder case against Lafayette contractor Nelson Rivero Jr. took yet another mysterious turn Monday when a state district judge agreed to release Rivero on $1 million bail. First-degree murder is punishable by death and precludes the possibility of bail unless, according to the state’s Code of Criminal Procedure, “the proof is not evident or the presumption is not great that he is guilty of the capital offense.”
Nov. 7 — Ruth — Local officials got a preview of an unthinkable disaster at a workshop hosted here by a Baton Rouge company hired to identify risks and work out solutions. According to precision elevation maps produced by the company, St. Martinville and nearly the entire parish would be under water if the Atchafalaya Protection Levee broke when the Mississippi River was swollen to the level of the 1973 flood.
Nov. 14 — Although St. Martin Parish schools suffered no direct damages from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the system is applying for a $252,777 grant from the state Department of Education. The primary focus of the Hurricane Employee Assistance Program is to assist school systems in recruiting and keeping teacher in the wake of the 2005 storms.
•The St. Martin School Board last week voted to spend $1 million of its $16.2 million general fund surplus on various capital improvement projects at various parish schools. Member Floyd Knott, one of only two who voted against the measure, said requests from St. Martinville principals were 10 times more than requests from Breaux Bridge and Cecilia, and he called the expenditures a “political slush fund.”
Nov. 21 — With I-10 closed between Lafayette and Lobdell because of a gas well blowout, normally busy truck stops and eateries in Breaux Bridge and Henderson and hurting for customers. The state Department of Transportation and Development said the interstate bridge over the Atchafalaya Basin might remain closed through Dec. 4.
•Breaux Bridge — With no objection from the public, the City Council last week outlawed the intentional flashing of underwear or worse. The ordinance going into effect Dec. 13 carries penalties of fines and community service but no jail time.
Nov. 28 — Breaux Bridge — Troopers Sunday night removed barricades blocking I-10, ending nearly two weeks of relative isolation for St. Martin Parish communities that depend on the hum of wheels, the ring of cash drawers and the swipe of credit cards.
•St. Martinville — Col. Jefferson DeBlanc, USMCR (Ret.), was buried with military honors, including a fly-over in the “missing man” formation by F-19 Hornets out of Dallas. DeBlanc, a fighter pilot who received the Medal of Honor for action against the Japanese in World War II, died Nov. 26.
Dec. 5 — New ground is being broken in the parish in housing as a River Ranch-style subdivision begins to take shape in Breaux Bridge and a St. Martinville factory turns out houses rated “fortified” by the insurance industry.
•In a pre-dawn roundup more like a drug raid, sheriff’s deputies and state Department of Social Services officers arrested 17 suspected deadbeat dads and one mom. The suspects were given the opportunity to pay back child support or make arrangements instead of going to jail.
Dec. 12 — St. Martinville — Wal-Mart is expected to shut its doors here by July, about the time the company’s new super center in Broussard starts stocking its shelves. Meanwhile, another retail chain operator whose identity has not been revealed (although Walgreen’s or CVS have been rumored) is scouting for a new location in town, according to Mayor Thomas Nelson.
•Breaux Bridge — Fred Mills Sr., a former mayor who died Dec. 3, has been lauded as giant example of humanitarianism and a role model whose influence is still felt in the whole parish.
Dec. 19 — St. Martinville — George Chopin, organizer of the annual Christmas parade, apologized to the City Council Monday for the antics of ATV riders who joined the parade at the last moment. Witnesses said the riders were drinking alcohol, speeding and “popping wheelies.”
•Baton Rouge — Gov.-elect Bobby Jindal last week announced that Scott
Angelle of Breaux Bridge will continue to serve as secretary of the state Department of Natural Resources. Angelle is a former police juror and parish president.
Dec. 27 — The tornado of last February was in the forefront of a look back at the first half of 2007. It turned out to be a better year than it looked like it was going to be.