St. Tammany Parish Government - 2020 Year in Review
2020 in Review
St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper reflects on his first year in office as he spotlights key accomplishments amid the COVID-19 global pandemic and a record-breaking hurricane season.
“We will all be stronger for the challenges 2020 presented. They were daunting and the decisions were at times difficult, but our citizens did what was necessary to ensure our community thrived during these uncertain times, standing together to protect our most vulnerable through personal responsibility,” Cooper said. “I am proud to have served in a leadership role in our community during 2020. Though my first year in office was nothing like I envisioned coming in, it presented opportunities to show our strength, unity, compassion, and tenacity.”
In 2020, President Cooper issued over 30 Executive Orders, prepared and filed by the Civil Division of the 22nd JDC, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic or weather events. The Civil Division of the 22nd JDC produced over 1.2 million pages of public records and conducted 45 in-person reviews of records in response to 568 Public Records Requests, with an average turnaround time of 19 days.
Cooper established the St. Tammany Economic Recovery and Resiliency Advisory Council, formalized in mid-April to establish the Live Safe. Work Safe. Shop Safe. Action Plan and phased re-opening strategy. In partnership with members of the St. Tammany Parish Council — Council Chairman Mike Lorino, and Council Co-Chair Rykert Toledano — Cooper also established a 24-Member Revenue Review Committee tasked with fact finding, deliberation of funding options, and development of recommendations. St. Tammany Parish Government instituted virtual public meetings in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The St. Tammany Emergency Operations Center was activated fully, partially, and virtually, five separate times for storm events during the 2020 Hurricane Season. St. Tammany Parish Government continues its emergency response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The Department of Public Works provided 182,155 sandbags throughout 2020 in advance of the rising Pearl River, the 500-plus year flood in May, and six named storms during Hurricane Season. In addition, Public Works crews picked up 5492.2 cubic yards of storm debris. The Department of Engineering completed $8.3 million in roads and drainage projects throughout St. Tammany.
In April 2020, St. Tammany Parish was awarded a special allocation of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds ($703,190) to be used to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19). This allocation was authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), Public Law 116-136, to respond to the growing effects of this historic public health crisis. The following non-profits were beneficiaries of this CARES Act funding: Northshore Food Bank – Senior Food Program $100,000; Family Promise – Family Stabilization Project $30,000; and Habitat for Humanity-West – St. Tammany Homeownership Center $100,000. In addition, the Department of Grants awarded CDBG funding to the following beneficiaries in 2020: NAMI, St. Tammany - Day Center $100,000; NAMI, St. Tammany – Residential $34,276.40; Youth Service Bureau – Options Adolescent and Family Alcohol & Drug Outreach Program $45,000; and Hope House - $25,000. St. Tammany Parish Government also received CARES funding in the amount of $7,035,843 from the Federal Transit Administration to support public transit, as well as $646,797 in Community Services Block Grant Funding to support the St. Tammany Parish STPG Community Action Agency for the prevention of homelessness through rental assistance.
In late August, the FloodBreak Automatic Floodgate Mitigation System installation was completed in the Fox Hollow subdivision in the Slidell area. This gate is the first of its kind in the State of Louisiana installed in a residential neighborhood. With the installation of this gate, the gap in the levee system in Fox Hollow, will now be closed during a flood event. This system requires no man power to operate, and is automatically activated by flood waters which cause the gate to rise and protect the area where the gate is installed.
St. Tammany Parish’s multi-jurisdictional, Hazard Mitigation Plan was updated and approved. This approval secures St. Tammany’s eligibility for Hazard Mitigation grants administered by FEMA including: Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) post-disaster-funding; pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM), a nationally competitive program for mitigation projects and planning grants; and Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA), a nationally competitive program for Flood Mitigation projects. The plan was updated through a collaborative process with participating jurisdictions including: unincorporated St. Tammany Parish, the Town of Abita Springs, the City of Covington, the Village of Folsom, the Town of Madisonville, the City of Mandeville, the Town of Pearl River, the City of Slidell, and the Village of Sun. The current plan expires November 3, 2025, at which time it will need to be updated and approved.
St. Tammany has retained its AA+ Bond rating from the S&P 500.
The St. Tammany Department of Animal Services began a partnership with Wings of Rescue in early 2020. This group transports shelter animals to parts of the country who have little or no access to adoptable animals. The Shelter also partnered with the local non-profit, Mardi Paws — the Super Krewe of Canines for special events and fundraising to continue the transport of shelter pets to their forever homes. In addition to these new partnerships, the Shelter welcomed a new Director. In 2020, over 1,700 animals have left the shelter through adoptions, rescue transfers, or through returns to owners.
The Tammany Trace Extension onto Camp Salmen Nature Park in Slidell was completed and opened for use. Its completion and opening facilitated daily hours for Camp Salmen Nature Park. The collaborative project between St. Tammany Parish Government and the Louisiana Department of Transportation (DOTD) to align the curve on La. Highway 59 and to construct a tunnel on the Tammany Trace at this location, started in 2020.
The widening and overlay of Interstate 12, Phases One and Two, began in 2020. A large portion of the funding for phase one — $43.4 million— comes from federal redistribution funds, which is money left over from other federally sourced projects across the country. St. Tammany Parish provided an $8 million match for the project. The remaining $2.8 million has been sourced through the state. Phase two is funded through a $25 million competitive federal BUILD grant, obtained by St. Tammany Parish, and a $7.2 million match from Parish Government. The remaining funds are being paid by the state.
The Safe Haven campus saw the completion of the renovation of the Safe Haven Health and Wellness Center, and the installation of artwork procured from local artists through a Call to Artists, funded by the Percent for Art ordinance. The Safe Haven Health and Wellness Center will house St. Tammany’s third Federally Qualified Health Center, as well as St. Tammany’s first 24-bed Crisis Receiving Center and is set to open in 2021. In addition, the Safe Haven Blue-Green Trails Master Plan was finalized, and the 2020 Safe Haven Strategic Plan was completed. The Safe Haven newsletter — Journey Notes — was also launched.
The Department of Development began the process of updating the St. Tammany Parish Comprehensive Plan. The Plan Update — New Directions 2040 — is currently underway. The entire process to finalize a draft of the plan for a public hearing, and final presentation of a draft for adoption to all Parish governing bodies, is expected to be complete in late 2021 to early 2022.
The 14th Annual President’s Arts Awards honored ten recipients in an outdoor ceremony strictly adhering to COVID-19 protocol.
The 21st Annual Holiday of lights looked very different this year as a drive-thru only event, however, over 3,000 cars attended the weeks-long display!
Live Safe. Work Safe, Shop Safe. Action Plan
New Directions 2040