Hessmer approves dates for Cajun Crossroads Festival

Discusses revising policy on use of old school gym

With spring just around the corner, it seemed that recreation and fun were on Hessmer officials’ minds at the Village Council’s March 6 meeting.

Mayor Travis Franks asked the council to officially set the date for the 3rd annual Cajun Crossroads Festival. The event will be held May 5 and 6 and will once again include an adult softball T-ball tournament, several bands, a cook-off competition and a Saturday night fireworks display.

“This will be the weekend before the Cochon de Lait Festival and it will not affect the Tunica-Biloxi Pow Wow,” Franks said. “We will not be interfering or competing with any other festival or event.” The event began in 2015 to mark the village’s 60th anniversary as a municipality and to act as a “grand opening” for the Ronald Mayeux Ballpark that the village purchased from the Avoyelles School Board. It was so popular that the council and the Hessmer Sports Club, the official sponsor of the festival, held it again in 2016.

At this time, it looks like Hessmer’s “birthday party” has become an annual addition to the parish’s list of community festivals.

Franks said he is almost positive that the cook-off will be BBQ, as it was last year. However, the first year’s jambalaya cook-off received rave reviews from festival-goers. A final decision will be made soon, he said.

GYM KEYS
In another recreation-related matter, aldermen held a lengthy discussion on the need to “regroup and reorganize” the policies and procedures on allowing the use of the old Hessmer High gym.

The gym, located adjacent to the Mayeux Recreation Complex, is still owned by the School Board but is leased to the village under an intergovernmental agreement. Hessmer handles routine maintenance in exchange for being allowed to use the facility for events and recreation.

Alderman Justin Gaspard, who is assigned oversight of the recreation programs, said there has been some vandalism at the gym, but the main problem is an apparent inability to control who uses the gym and when.

“We are trying to make the situation better and make folks more accountable,” Gaspard said.

Councilmen said that the number of keys to the gym has apparently grown over the past several years. Nobody knows how many keys are floating around town. It was suggested that the village change the locks and then implement a better regulated system of allowing use of the gym.

“We need to get a grip on how many keys are out there and who wants to use the gym,” Gaspard said.

Another suggestion was to install a keypad entry system and do away with keys altogether. The keypad combination would be changed regularly, so anyone wishing to use the gym would have to check in with Town Hall or a designated after hours volunteer to obtain the current code.

One problem Franks noted was that the current breaker box system at the gym does not provide an easy and obvious way for users to turn off the lights when they are through for the night. What has happened on several occasions is that someone “flips the main switch,” which not only turns off the gym lights, but also the security cameras installed this past year. The council voted to get information from Cleco on the cost of installing a separate breaker box for the security cameras and to have switches that would allow users to turn off the lights without using the main switch.

NEW EQUIPMENT
Unfortunately, all is not fun and recreation. There is also a lot of work to be done.

To that end, the Village Council discussed the need for a small tractor and a new work truck for the municipality.

The council authorized Franks to purchase a Kubota tractor and boom attachment for $55,413 from Progressive in Bunkie.

After reviewing three quotes on a used truck, the council voted to purchase a Ford from Hixson’s in Alexandria for $28,128. The dealer said the truck would be delivered within three to four weeks.

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