Census data shows Calcasieu has more people

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA.(KPLC) -It's good news for Calcasieu, especially considering that some parishes lost people. The census shows Calcasieu's population has increased over the past decade by five per cent bringing the total to 192,768. Attorney Cade Cole says that exceeds expectations. "Not only did Orleans and Jefferson Parish for example lose population over the decade, they lost population by more than ten thousand people from the estimate of last year. So, I think, compared to that, we've done very well here to have grown by about five per cent and may I say, for the jury's stewardship of the unincorporated area, almost all of that population growth occurred in the unincorporated area, as many of you might expect."

The numbers are important to police jurors, for one reason, because they must begin the work of redistricting-- they must re-draw lines so each police jury district has about the same number of people. And Beam explains they'll be on a tight schedule to get it done in time for the fall primary election October 22nd. "If you know if anybody who is planning to comment or have input on this plan it is critical that they do so by April the 7th. That is really when we would like you to have a consensus plan."

Twenty years ago the police jury didn't complete redistricting in time and the election had to be postponed as Cole explains, "So, this very tight schedule has been formulated with all of the applicable state and federal deadlines in mind to ensure that does not happen again."

Cole has been hired by the police jury to develop their redistricting plan. Redistricting is required so each police juror represents about the same number of people. Jurors get their next update on redistricting at the February 16th regular police jury meeting. By then, should have all the population data. Also tonight, jurors called a local option election on riverboat gaming for April 30th.

That was requested by both Creative Casinos and St. Gabriel Downs-- two of the three companies vying for the 15th license.  The company that is awarded the license by the gaming board will need voters to approve.

The cost of the election would be borne by the company that needs it. If no local proposal wins the license the election will be canceled.

A small delegation of police jury and city officials went to Baton Rouge yesterday to meet with highway officials about lights for the I-10 bridge.

Juror Francis Andrepont says they've agreed to a pilot project. They'll put seven lights up there, lights donated by the manufacturer. They'll see how they work and collect data the state wants. Depending on the outcome, maybe they will help provide lights up there.  Oh--and Andrepont says don't look for a new bridge for at least a decade.

On another topic, Lake Charles' plan to drastically raise the sex offender registration fee has opened quite a can of worms as far as legal issues.

Calcasieu Police Jurors got a report on a meeting at the D.A.'s office yesterday with the sheriff, Lake Charles Police Chief and attorneys representing all involved.

Police jury attorney Allen Smith says the city attorney may draft an amendment to the city ordinance to try resolve some potential legal issues there.

Law enforcement will look for funding sources to help cover administrative costs. And Smith says they're asking the attorney general for help. "First thing the district attorney did was caution against haste. This ordinance for the City of Lake Charles does not take effect until July of this year so that gives us time to do our job properly. I can tell you we're in contact with the attorney general's office to discuss several issues. I've asked them to assist us and advise us on those issues."  Smith expects to have more information for police jurors in a month or so.

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