St. James faces decisions on future of youth center

St. James Parish Director of Emergency Preparedness Eric Deroche told the Parish Council on Wednesday that once the St. James Youth Center closes June 30, the facility will be shuttered and secured within a week.

But even empty, the youth center could cost the parish money.

Parish officials will have to decide whether they want to pay $6,000 each month to keep the air conditioning, fire alarms and security running at the facility once it shuts down, Deroche said.

Councilman Terry McCreary said he wanted to make sure the parish still provides security to protect the youth center building, especially if the parish is considering selling the building or using the space for other purposes.

The youth center is scheduled to close by the end of June because of new state regulations that will drive up the cost of keeping the facility open.

Meanwhile, Assumption Parish Sheriff Mike Waguespack has been converting a former adult detention center in Napoleonville into a new youth detention center that officials hope will be ready by the June 30 deadline.

Parish President Timmy Roussel said he has met with the 16 youth center employees who will lose their jobs when the facility closes to discuss other available employment in the parish and the benefits some of them may receive as parish employees.

The St. James Youth Center Multijurisdictional Commission, a group made up of representatives from eight parishes formed to decide what to do with youth offenders once the St. James Youth Center closes, will meet for the last time at 1 p.m. June 26 at the parish courthouse in Convent, Roussel said.

Ridgely Mitchell, confidential assistant to the parish president, told the Parish Council the purpose of the commission’s final meeting is to discuss youth center closing procedures.

Councilmen Alvin St. Pierre, Jason Amato, Ralph Patin, James Brazan, Ken Brass, Charles Ketchens and McCreary attended Wednesday’s meeting.

Other business before the council included:

REFINANCING BONDS: Councilmen gave preliminary approval to refinance a $3 million general obligation bond from 2005 used to renovate the parish’s judicial center in Convent.

Parish bond attorney Hugh Martin said the refinancing could generate between $80,000 and $100,000 in savings for the parish, depending on interest rates.

PAVILION RENTAL: The council voted 7-0 to amend the Parish Code of Ordinances to include new terms and conditions for renting the Welcome Center Pavilion and grounds.

The new terms are less vague and include detailed rental fees and a requirement for the renter to purchase general liability insurance, Roussel reported.