St. Helena gains $400,000 for more courthouse renovations

The St. Helena Parish Police Jury learned Tuesday that it has $400,000 available to spend on continued renovations of the parish courthouse.

Morgan Watson, an engineering consultant for the parish, told the Police Jury on Tuesday that the money became available last week.

The state gave St. Helena Parish about $900,000 several years ago for the renovations, Watson said.

About $500,000 of that money was labeled “priority one,” which made it usable immediately. The other $400,000 was labeled as “priority five,” meaning it would become available at a later date.

The state sold bonds Thursday for the $400,000, moving the money to priority one status, Watson said.

Watson told the Police Jury that in 2007, he had hoped the renovations would be done in 2010. Now he is aiming for completion by 2014.

Renovations already completed include repairing the elevator in the courthouse, a project that was finished about three years ago.

Future renovations needed include upgrading the courthouse to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Police Jury President Major Coleman said after the meeting.

The District Attorney’s Office and 21st Judicial District Court judges also have asked for additional courtroom space, Coleman said. St. Helena’s courthouse has only one courtroom.

In other business Tuesday:

The Police Jury adopted a resolution for special elections to renew taxes in two of the parish’s fire protection districts and one of its road districts.

The elections possibly would occur in October, Coleman said.

The Police Jury renewed an agreement between the parish and the Tangipahoa Parish Communications District to have Tangipahoa answer all of St. Helena’s 911 calls.

St. Helena will pay Tangipahoa $55,566 for the service.

St. Helena outsources its 911 calls because it does not have the resources to handle the calls, Coleman said.

The Police Jury voted to allow U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., to use the Police Jury building on Aug. 6 for a town hall meeting.

Vitter will host the town hall from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.