Councilman Benny Johnson assesses tenure, the future

District 11 Councilman Benny Johnson

How would I characterize my 11.5 years on the council? (Of what are you most proud, any regrets, etc.)?

I would say that my time on the council has definitely had its ups and downs. To some an issue may be positive while to others negative. Nothing is accomplished with one person and not everyone is going to agree 100% on an issue. It takes the cooperation of a majority of the council, working with the administration, employees of the parish, as well as, anyone who does work for the parish to accomplish changes that will benefit the parish as a whole. For example, working with the administration, the Parish Council, and the Drainage Board, we were able to complete the safety widening of Roddy Road between Highways 621 and 931, replace three bridges in that area, two of which were condemned (Mire Rd and Roddy Rd), along with the widening and cleaning of the Bert Allen ditch. These projects along with the addition of the two pumps at the Marvin Braud pumping station, the construction of the Henderson Bayou pumping station, and the purchase of the Lamar Dixon Expo Center for the parish would be the larger, more well known, items that have been completed during my tenure on the council.

As far as regrets, yes I would say there are some. First, not being able to resolve the sewer issue for the parish would have to be at the top of the list. I believe we have come close but the inevitable question of how to pay for the project is the next major question to be answered. I am hopeful this latest attempt will be successful.  Second, although shift work has its advantages, like the ability to follow up on items ongoing in District 11 during the week which many of my colleagues that work Monday through Friday may not be able to accomplish, it has not allowed me to attend as many meetings as I would have liked. Now that the reorganization at my work and my transfer has been completed, I will be free to attend more council meetings.

What do you hope to accomplish in the future?

One of the things that I will work towards is the fill ordinance, which is hopefully just weeks away from being adopted. This should lead to an update to the Follette plan that was developed after the floods of 1979 and 1983. An updated drainage plan is key to identifying new projects and improving the existing system.  Some examples of these projects could be to create a potential reservoir upstream of the Marvin Braud pump station or regional retention sites along our existing waterways.  Pumping water from our drainage basins to the Mississippi is an expensive proposition, but if it would prove to be a regional benefit then hopefully federal dollars could be leveraged to help with the projects identified in the updated plan.

I also plan to continue to support the Move Ascension Transportation Initiative. Several projects in this plan directly affect District 11. Highway 930, which was turned over to the parish from the state, will be widened.   Also, roundabouts will be constructed at the intersection of Germany Road and Braud Road and Highway 930 and Henry Road.  I will continue to work to find additional projects that can be added.  You can visit www. moveascension.com for more information about the program.

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