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.
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, April 18, 2014:
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.
Sen. Fred Mills may have an "R" behind his name, but his actions in the Louisiana Legislature transcend the established boundaries of his party.
The Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law Tuesday.
The Louisiana Senate sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry Tuesday, agreeing to void a lawsuit that a south Louisiana flood board filed against more than 90 oil and gas companies for coastal damage.
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.