By DAVID J. MITCHELL
River Parishes bureau
February 13, 2013
A small Plattenville dirt hauling company owned by the nephew and widowed sister-in-law of Assumption Parish Police Jury President Martin “Marty” Triche has been subcontracted to work on the Texas Brine Co. LLC response to a large sinkhole in the parish — a situation that led to an angry outburst at a meeting Wednesday in Napoleonville.
Triche Hauling and Materials Co. LLC is one of at least 25 independent dirt haulers hired to deliver tens of thousands of yards of fill to Texas Brine’s site on La. 70 South in Grand Bayou and at a nearby work area, hauling company and Texas Brine officials said.
Dump trucks from various companies have been running in and out of Texas Brine’s site and the nearby Rig Road for the past few weeks as the brine company’s engineering contractor, Tetra Tech, builds up dirt pads and a 5-foot-high containment berm around 71 acres of swamp encompassing the sinkhole.
Scientists think a Texas Brine salt cavern in the Napoleonville Dome failed and caused the formation of the sinkhole last summer that is now 8.6 acres. The sinkhole, found Aug. 3, led to the evacuation of 150 residences in the Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou areas.
An evacuated Bayou Corne resident raised questions about Marty Triche’s involvement in the hauling work during a community meeting Wednesday.
The resident, Cathy Simoneaux, was thrown out of the meeting after a heated exchange with Triche.
Assumption Parish Sheriff Mike Waguespack said Simoneaux was not cited or arrested Wednesday.
Simoneaux, who has been living in a 25-foot-long camper with her husband in Pierre Part, said she asked Triche about the possible connections because she felt it was a conflict of interest.
She claimed a small group in the parish, whom she would not name but called the “home boys,” are benefiting financially from the sinkhole.
Triche issued angry denials to Simoneaux in the meeting.
Often a vocal critic of Texas Brine over the pace and direction of the company’s response to the sinkhole, Triche said in a subsequent interview last week he was offended by the suggestion of impropriety given the parish’s efforts on the sinkhole.
“I don’t see why Texas Brine would want to do me any favors anyway. I have been more critical than anything,” he said.
Triche said he has not seen his “ex-sister-in-law,” Terry Triche, on a regular basis since his brother died and was surprised to learn she had gotten a contract with Texas Brine. He denied any involvement in her business dealings.
“One, I have no financial interest, no ownership interest, no interest whatsoever in my ex-sister-in-law’s trucks,” he said. “I have not contacted anyone on her behalf to get her trucks a job,” he added.
The hauling contracts in Assumption are made among private companies.
The parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness has a role in the response as incident commander. But Christina Stephens, spokeswoman for the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said in an email that the incident command system is meant to “give organizational structure to managing incidents” that involve several agencies.
“Being incident commander does not give the parish any kind of authority to determine what subcontractors Texas Brine would hire,” she added.
Officials with Triche Hauling; Texas Brine; and Rene’s Trucking Inc., a major subcontractor heading up the dirt moving work, also denied any involvement by Marty Triche on Triche Hauling’s behalf.
Terry Triche, widow of Marty Triche’s deceased brother, James, said Thursday she got the contract through a company working for Texas Brine to do dirt hauling.
Terry Triche said she and Marty Triche do not talk often and denied he had anything to do with her business or its hiring by the Texas Brine contractor, which she did not name.
State corporation records list Terry Triche and James Triche Jr. as the owners of Triche Hauling. Terry Triche said she runs the business with her son, Jimmy.
Rene Esneault, the owner of Rene’s Trucking, said his company and another of his, South Louisiana Fill Materials LLC, have contracts to supply and deliver dirt for the Texas Brine job.
He said his company has about half of the 20 to 30 trucks working the job daily, delivering material from South Louisiana Fill’s dirt pits on the Mississippi River.
Esneault said outside truck companies supply the remaining trucks, including those owned by Triche Hauling.
“We tried to work with as many local companies as we can. My trucks come first, but after that, we subcontract,” Esneault said.
He said Marty Triche has no interests in his companies and was not involved in the decision to hire Triche Hauling, which Esneault said has done business in the past with Rene’s Trucking.
Sonny Cranch, spokesman for the Houston-based Texas Brine, said company officials had worked with Rene’s Trucking in the past and knew the company had the trucks and contacts with independents to do the job.
“The bottom line is Rene had to deliver,” Cranch said.