The company offering to make their high-tech dreams come true since 1990 is Bedminster Bioconversion Corporation. To date, parish government has spent about $600,000 on engineering fees with nothing to show for it. Bedminster's patented bioconversion process mixes garbage and sewage sludge in a giant tube, called a digester, which breaks down the waste into compost after three days of heat and tumbling. Glass, plastic and metals that remain after the process are culled from the compost, and the compost would then be available for gardens and farm land.
Parish engineer Wayne LaBiche is brother-in-law to former Bedminister vendor Billy Toups. For a decade the brothers-in-law advocated Bedminister to the parish; Toups was national marketing director when he left the company in 1999 and says he is no longer associated with Bedminister but that he is still an avid supporter of the technology. LaBiche continues to have a project contract for Bedminister with Iberia Parish Government.
The parish government's time has lately been occupied by looking for a site for the plant, and that's assuming it can get the plant permitted by DEQ. After taking heat for considering a location next to the parish jail over the past three years, the latest site under consideration is immediately adjacent to the city's new sewer treatment plant. New Iberia is in the final stages of completing a $20 million sewer plant located at the city limits between Center Street (Hwy. 14) and La. 675. Center Street has been designated by the city as the "gateway" into town from U.S. Hwy. 90.
There were no objections when the city located the sewer plant in the gateway or when parish government sited a $2.3 million multi-sport recreational complex dubbed PepperPlex in the shadow of the sewer plant. City literature touts the Center Street corridor as the fastest growing area for economic development, designed to lure hotels, shopping malls and fast food chains to town.
Now Iberia Parish Government wants to locate the bioconversion facility in the immediate vicinity. Six members of the 14-member Iberia Parish Council have gone on record in support of Bedminister, as has LaBiche. Most of the New Iberia City Council, including the mayor, are opposed. A month ago, state Rep. Troy Hebert joined the fray, firing a letter off to DEQ secretary Mike McDaniel, stating that he would "not hesitate to use whatever powers granted to me to block this facility [Bedminister] from being located" at the current proposed site. Hebert, whose district does not include New Iberia, but who is rumored to be running for Iberia Parish Senate District 22 in 2007, was instrumental in finding state funding for the PepperPlex facility. The parish is considering paying $12,000 up-front for a two-year option to purchase the rights to buy the 25-acre tract for $20,000 an acre. Last week, however, one member of the family who owns land the parish is eyeing said she was opposed to selling the land to the parish for the composting facility.
If the site can be purchased and permitted by DEQ, the Bedminister facility itself is proposed to cost $7 million.
The lack of a comprehensive master plan is the likely culprit for locating these industrial facilities on questionable sites. Meanwhile, the trash talk flies while genuine issues in New Iberia, such as wetlands restoration, racial tension, and even the mundane work of balancing the current parish budget get short shrift.
Black Friday shopping begins; Pope visiting Turkey; oil prices decline and more national and international news for Friday, November 28, 2014.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
By now, the story of how longtime LSU coach Dale Brown discovered Shaquille O'Neal has been told many times: Brown happened upon a massive 13-year-old at an army base in Germany, stayed in touch with him and eventually became like a second father.
Fate simply wasn't ready to give the New Orleans Saints a break from longtime nemesis Steve Smith.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.