Pooyie! 03.25.2009

C’est Bon
Acadiana’s architectural heritage is an endangered species. Old houses, barns, businesses and farms are regularly torn down, either for the cypress they contain or at the direction of city and parish councils that put sagging structures on their demolition lists. Fortunately, a threesome of non profits in New Iberia is contrarian when it comes to old houses in need of major overhauls. Rebuild Iberia, Iberia Habitat for Humanity and Southern Mutual Help Association have snapped up an entire block of houses, many of them on the city’s demo list, located in the historic West End. SMHA’s and Habitat for Humanity’s mission is to help low income families purchase homes. Rebuild Iberia was born out of hurricanes Katrina and Rita to help hurricane victims find places to live. Teamed up, they are using grants and volunteers to rehab some of the finest cottages in the West End, built in a time when craftsmanship delivered sturdy and beautiful structures meant to last a century. With the help of Lafayette architect Steve Oubre, who will provide technical support, seven old houses will be rehabbed. Nine more houses are in the sights of the group. As a unit, they will restore the neighborhood fabric of a once vital area of the city and provide much needed low-income housing that comes with historic charm and architectural quality. Other towns should keep an eye on this project.

The recent uptick in oil prices to above the $50 range was certainly not enough to help last week’s central Gulf of Mexico lease sale come anywhere near last March’s. Winning bids plummeted about 80 percent from this time last year, when 85 energy companies submitted 1,057 bids totalling a whopping $3.67 billion. Last week the 406 bids placed by 70 companies brought only $703,000. All the main players in deep water exploration attended the sale, but with a lagging economy and increased drilling fees looming, the excitement level was no where near that of the last three sales, which netted roughly $7 billion including two that broke records.

Acrimony between some Beauregard Parish residents and the South Beauregard Water System board isn’t exactly water under the bridge. In fact, as KPLC reports, the board is of two minds because, due to a legal mix-up, it is actually two boards that meet jointly. And this two-headed hydra wants nothing to do with complaints. After concerned residents began approaching the board(s) with concerns over water quality and armed with privately conducted tests suggesting a higher alkali content than the DEQ allows chemical plants to discharge into ditches, the board got down to business. A memo distributed to board members obtained by KPLC lays out the plan: “No unqualified, uncertified, non factual water test questions will be honored with an answer.” Now that’s a couillon committee right there, cher.