The City of Ponchatoula Water Department will be performing water main flushing on the west side of the city, June 16-19. This work will include the operation of fire hydrants at flow velocities sufficient to remove naturally occurring minerals that have precipitated out of the water and settled. During this time residents and businesses may temporarily experience discolored water and/or low water pressure.
What if I experience discolored water?
If you experience discolored water, run your cold water tap until it runs clear. If it does not run clear within five (5) minutes, turn the water off, wait fifteen (15) minutes and run the cold water tap until it runs clear. If it does not run clear within the next fifteen (15) minutes, please call 985-386-6484 during business hours (9am-4pm, Monday-Friday). If it is outside of business hours, please call 985-386-6548, and the police dispatcher will contact the on call Water Department personnel.
Can I do laundry during this time?
You may do laundry during this time, however we urge residents to wait until late evenings when possible; also, test your water at a sink, tub, or outside faucet first. We would also advise washing dark loads first, and if possible saving white or light loads until the flushing is completed.
Notice is hereby given pursuant to Article 7 Section 23(C) of the Constitution and R.S. 47:1705(B) that a public hearing of the Ponchatoula City Council will be held at the regular meeting of the Ponchatoula City Council, 125 West Hickory Street, Ponchatoula Louisiana, in the City Council Chambers on Monday, July 13, 2020 at 6:00 P.M. to consider levying additional or increased millage rates without further voter approval or adopting the adjusted millage rates after reassessment and rolling forward to rates not to exceed the prior year’s maximum. The estimated amount of tax revenues to be collected in the next tax year from the increased millage is $972,493.35, and the amount of increase in taxes attributable to the millage increase is $1,766.03.
Effective March 13, 2020, North Oaks Health System has implemented a triage system and other tactics in response to the COVID-19 pandemic declared by the World Health Organization. President and CEO Michele Sutton announced the health system’s response plan following a summit North Oaks hosted with area officials Wednesday. Beginning today, she said, North Oaks will implement a triage system to evaluate and test patients with COVID-19 symptoms. The response plan also addresses patient and visitor screenings, patient masking, limited hospital entry points, visitation hours, visitor restrictions and support of social distancing recommendations.
A smiling happy crowd of Senior Adults dressed in their best (some ladies with hats) recently met at Ponchatoula Community Center earlier than the regular lunch time to enjoy the fellowship and food of a Tea party given just for them.
Hosting the occasion were Ponchatoula Area Supervisor Paula Dunn, Office Assistant Sheryl Achord and Site Manager Janice Jackson.
The colorful decorations made it a celebration of Valentine’s Day along with Mardi Gras.
Delectable goodies added even more color to the tables ranging from veggies and dip to sandwiches, from cookies to iced cupcakes — not to mention plenty of tea, of course.
As if all those weren’t tempting enough, Community Center Director Lynette Allen came waltzing in with two beautiful King Cakes.
City Public Relations Writer Kathryn Martin extended a welcome followed by Director of Student Outreach May Stilley.
Because Seniors have joined forces with the after-school children in the new Pen Pal exercise, Stilley gave the history of Student Outreach.
From the sounds of surprise and response, it was obvious most Seniors had not known that Mayor Bob Zabbia and the City Council were responsible for providing the program as well as the meeting spaces available for both groups.
Stilley explained the help coming from after-school efforts boosts some students who need to catch up or even get ahead in their studies.
She said, “In addition to their studies, we try to include as many community resources we can for the children to have well-balanced lives. What better resource can we have than you Seniors with your experiences to share with them!”
Stilley went on to say, “You won’t believe how excited the children are after roll call when I yell ‘Mail Call’ and they have a letter from you all.”
It was apparent the Seniors shared the excitement as the room brightened even more when she held up the “mail box” and delivered mail from students to them!
Next, Director of Tangipahoa Council on Aging, Debi Fleming, welcomed those present and commended the local staff for their on-going work and caring.
An audience member recalled that Fleming and the City worked together to get the city bus which provides transportation five days a week for Seniors and others.
Soon afterward, Seniors made short work of getting in the food line, and, leaving no evidence behind, joined their friends for fellowship and games to complete the morning and get ready for lunch to come later.
May Stilley, Director of the Ponchatoula Student Outreach Program, says she’s always encouraged those wanting to go into Education while cautioning, “If it’s for the money, you can forget it. The pay is the look on a child’s face when it lights up with understanding. That ‘I-got-it’ look of joy. Nothing beats that!
“And that’s what this program is all about,” she continued. “As more parents learn about it, they’re asking how to get their children involved. Enrollment for the after-school program is based on schoolteacher referrals for the student who needs extra help.
“With access to the student’s report card, the teachers and I analyze the needs.
“Learning abilities vary and sometimes all that’s needed to improve grades is extra individual attention. Other times, if no progress is made, such as when F’s continue, those students are re-evaluated and other avenues become their answer. We help parents get started in that process.”
Stilley says often it’s not a learning issue but low self-esteem that leads to behavior problems and low grades. While focusing on academics, she and the teachers include social skills to make well-rounded and productive citizens.
Going into the second half of the school year with 42 students, something new has been added and is generating lots of interest.
Always looking for community resources to introduce to the children, Stilley realized one of the best is already downstairs in the Community Center every day – Senior Adults!
Consulting with Ponchatoula Area Supervisor of Council on Aging, Paula Dunn, she asked about the possibility of pen pals.
Dunn caught the vision, asked her Seniors about participating to share memories from childhood, then supplied Stilley with names for students to write an introduction letter. A special mailbox holds the letters and “mail call” generates much excitement among both groups.
Especially touching has been the interaction between a third grader and a widow with no children. After learning what a “widow” is, the child wrote with no prompting, “You said you had no children. Well, you do now. ME.”
A fifth grader was thrilled to find a pencil, a marker and a little note pad with her letter.
Because the two generations are never present at the same time, plans are underway to have a “revealing” in conjunction with the May 7th year-end family celebration.
In the meantime, Stilley says a big need is for more volunteers. Key Club members and Education students from SLU have helped provide the one-on-one instruction but a lot more help is needed. She extends a special invitation to individuals, churches and organizations looking for community projects. Just “show up” and she’ll find a job for you whether it’s an hour now and then or every afternoon Monday through Thursday — with the children or elsewhere.
She adds, “When Mayor Zabbia asked me to come out of retirement to work with City Human Resources Manager, Lisa Jones, to develop the program, I thought I’d be here a year or two. But my heart took over early on and it’s hard to believe I’m in the middle of the third year!
“Being Director of the Student Outreach program is an amazing job,” Stilley says with enthusiasm. “But being an Educator is not really a ‘job’– it’s a ‘calling’.”
To volunteer time, talent, services or donations, call May Stilley at (985) 401-2210 or Lisa Jones at (985) 386-6484
David Opdenhoff Honored for Years of Service to Ponchatoula
By Kathryn J. Martin
When high school graduate Dave Opdenhoff enlisted in the military in 1968, he never dreamed he would be wearing uniforms and working with water for the next 50 years — 20 in the Navy and 30 for the City of Ponchatoula.
Recently Mayor Bob Zabbia, City Hall Staff and fellow City Workers gathered to honor him for his years of faithful service while wishing him their best as he retired to part-time status.
Young Opdenhoff’s original plans were to do four years and be done, but after bootcamp and Hospital and Corps School training as a Navy Hospital Corpsman, he had found his niche.
At that time, a Corpsman could do almost anything including sutures and minor surgery, more like today’s Nurse Practitioner under supervision of a doctor.
More training and work at Naval Hospital Pensacola led to a stint in the Marine Corps Training Center at Camp Pendleton, California, learning to be a field Corpsman in preparation for Vietnam. Field sanitation and water quality were all part of general knowledge and would be put to the test in the field where “you make do with what you got”.
From Third Marine Division to First Marine Division, he put in 13 months in Vietnam where he turned 21. Finding water wherever he could in rivers, rice paddies and ditches, he had to be even more creative to purify it for sterilization procedures, wound cleansing and for drinking, all while working under fire to treat and hydrate his patients. Atop one mountain, a top fire support base, he and his men dug holes to make bunkers. With no water and no way to show themselves to look for any, helicopters (water buffalo) brought water to them,
After Vietnam, in the Naval Hospital in Long Beach, California, he met Corpswave Barbara McMurray, a Ponchatoula gal and his wife to be!
Next came the 9th Motor Transport Battalion in Okinawa as Senior Medical Department Representative with hands-on treatment of patients needing minor care. Those needing more care were sent on to the Air Force Hospital.
Then it was to the Marine Corps Reserve Center in Lima over patient care and record keeping until he was changed to the Naval Reserve Center in Toledo, over immunizations, wounds and exams.
Afterward, in Portsmouth, Virginia, he did Independent Duty Training preparing to go to units or aboard ships which had no doctor. This meant he was also responsible to oversee and instruct on disposing waste, field sanitation, how to distill, purify and conserve water.
Assigned to the USS Hermitage LSD-34 at Little Creek, Virginia, he found 150 officers and enlisted naval personnel with another 150 Marines to embark with no doctor aboard. Here he was over two younger corpsmen. And, as on any ship, one of his jobs as Corpsman was to convert saltwater to potable.
Its first deployment was to the North Atlantic, Germany, England and back to the U. S. Its second was a Mediterranean cruise with a good-will stop in Rota, Spain, and on to Haifa, Israel.
Next was the Suez Canal but an uprising in Lebanon brought them to Beirut where they evacuated U.S. personnel and locals before anchoring off Lebanon for 4 months. With a Marine contingency on board, they saw the Hilton Hotel windows blown out and heard the “plunk” of bullets hit the ship, so anchored farther out before heading back to the U.S.
With the ship in dry dock for overhaul, Opdenhoff was transferred to 4th Marine Division in New Orleans. The administrative structure was for him to go across the country to Marine Reserve centers and inspect each to see if ready to deploy at a moment’s notice.
Promoted to Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman, he was transferred to the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing in New Orleans, retiring in May of 1988.
In September of ‘88, he answered a local ad for someone with sewer and water experience. Not being from here with local certification, he started right away going to classes to earn certificates. For three or four years, Monday-Wednesday-Friday nights from 6-8 he attended classes taught by different certified operators. Water, then exams. Sewer, then exams.
There are four Class 4 certifications:1. Water production 2. Water distribution (wells and piping in city) 3. Wastewater collection 4. Wastewater treatment.
After earning the certifications, one must train annually to maintain them. Attending annual training from Shreveport-Bossier, Alexandria, Lake Charles, New Orleans to Baton Rouge with 16 hours training in water and 16 hours in wastewater.
A town of 10,000 or below is considered Class 3 and population above, Class 4.
Thus Ponchatoula is Class 3 but Opdenhoff earned and maintains 4 Class 4 Certifications, meaning he could easily be over Sewer and Water in our state’s biggest cities.
The certifications belong to the person earning them but the city uses them. Through the EPA, DEQ and DHH, they can be transferred to other states, but Opdenhoff says, “The city of Ponchatoula has been good to me and I’d like to continue to assist the city by retiring with consulting aspect.”
A city always pays for the training but, knowing he was about to retire, he insisted this last time he pay for his own.
With Opdenhoff being a Michigan native, he said the most difficulty at first was not being one of the locals and hearing himself referred to as “That Yankee.” But he’d just laugh and as people saw he was a man of his word and got things done when possible, that mostly faded. Mostly.
He’s seen and helped initiate and bring about many updates and upgrades to the sewer and water systems. He’s gone from the days and nights of driving to check and adjust gauges on all 26 pumps in town to have the right pressure and government required chemicals to installing the SCADA system. (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition)
This system monitors the sewer system every two hours and the water system every two minutes, showing results on a large screen in his office. This tells what each well is doing, how much water is being produced, volume in a tank, pressure, how much chlorine, etc. In addition, it gives the ability for his cell phone to make adjustments from wherever he is.
It is obvious Opdenhoff’s heart is in his work the way he lights up when talking about it and in the way he can rattle off complicated terms, mathematical figures, codes and laws quicker than some folks can recite the alphabet!
To Dave Opdenhoff, you are greatly appreciated. While you’ll still be on call, you and Barbara enjoy more time for the ‘round-to-its, woodworking, playing with your ’62 Austin Healey and being with your 2 children, 8 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren!
Traffic and greenery at the junction of I-55 and U.S. Highway 51 hide one of Ponchatoula’s great feats of modern technology – its Wastewater Treatment Plant. A recent private tour of the facility was a real eye-opener as to how advanced the city is in yet another area of caring for its people.
You see the City of Ponchatoula Transportation Bus on our streets but have you ever wondered how it got there and where it goes? As with so many other successful projects, it began as – and still is – a joint effort.