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.
Visualize Lafayette’s next great thing from 3,000 feet.
A Baton Rouge judge issued a temporary restraining order Monday against enforcing a law that prohibits anyone 70 or older from running for justice of the peace or constable.
Gov. Bobby Jindal believes the last-minute passage of a pension hike for his state police superintendent, Col. Mike Edmonson, was improperly handled, according to the governor's office.
As the courts hash out the attempts to preserve and shelve Common Core in Louisiana, a group of six state lawmakers are planning an Aug. 22 trip to Oklahoma to meet with their counterparts and strategize for the 2015 regular session.
While hopes are high for turnout this fall, a new report from the Center for the Study of the American Electorate suggests that Louisiana's midterm face-offs may amount to nothing special in terms of votes cast.
The attorney hired by the Lafayette Parish School Board for a special investigation of Superintendent Pat Cooper has submitted his final report, though it may be another week before the findings are made public.
Poachers killing elephants at increasing rates; independent autopsy on Brown; Gaza truce continues and more national and international news for Tuesday, August 19, 2014.
Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
The Tea Party of Louisiana is calling Sen. David Vitter a “turncoat” for his newfound embrace of Common Core educational standards.
An annual report evaluating Gov. Bobby Jindal's privatization of Medicaid lacked important financial information and presented rosy performance reviews not corroborated by data, according to a review released Monday.
Lafayette attorney Michelle Meaux-Breaux has announced her plans to seek the Division E seat for judge in the 15th Judicial District.
A card-carrying member of Lafayette’s “tribe,” Milton “Spider” Guidry died over the weekend. IND music writer Nick Pittman remembers the character and the man.
As tensions continue to escalate in Ferguson, Mo., between law enforcement and residents protesting the shooting death of a local teen by police, we’re reminded of the peculiar circumstances surrounding the in-custody death earlier this year of a New Iberia man.
A group of teachers and parents who support Common Core is asking a state judge to invalidate Gov. Bobby Jindal's actions against the multi-state education standards.
Drew Brees walked up to the line of scrimmage early Sunday, taking a snap during the New Orleans Saints' pre-practice walk-through.
A state judge Friday refused a temporary injunction sought against state education officials in an effort to block implementation of the Common Core education standards in Louisiana.
UL was the consensus pick in a coaches' preseason poll to win the league, and experience has a lot to do with that.
The price tag has nearly doubled for Gov. Bobby Jindal's hiring of an outside consulting firm to recommend new ways to balance the state budget.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is under scrutiny for billing private chartered planes to her Senate office when she used the flights to attend campaign fundraisers.
Many people found not guilty by reason of insanity are being held in Louisiana jails, where they cannot get the treatment they need, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday.
In a just-released audio recording, City Prosecutor Gary Haynes claims Mike Harson had direct dealings with the alleged mastermind behind the bribery scheme in the DA’s office.
C-P councilmen sponsor a resolution in support of the notion that one should subscribe to Tea Party ideas about civics before being allowed to seek public office.
Russel Honoré, the retired U.S. Army general known for his role in restoring order to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and most recently for his involvement in the Green Army movement to stop environmental abuses of Louisiana, has now weighed in on the police response to protestors in Ferguson, Mo.
More than three dozen restaurants, bars, convenience stores and supermarkets in Lafayette Parish are facing fines in connection with the state office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control’s 2014 “Summer Crackdown.”
The grim news, delivered to the joint legislative budget committee, barely raised eyebrows at the committee hearing, after more than six years of such disappointing financial forecasts.