Voices heard at city council meeting

Published 5:02 pm Wednesday, October 10, 2018

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


While it may have been City Manager Dr. Shawn Oubre’s last Orange City Council meeting, citizens made sure their voices were heard for many topics from the upcoming A Night of Jazz to benefit the Orange African American Museum, to questions on if the Natatorium would ever reopen, the Minority Business Council reaching out to small businesses, the Heritage House annual Ghost Walk, a resident’s yard flooding, an upcoming Veteran’s Health Fair, and concerns on the bridges on Adam’s Bayou.

One citizen also voiced his concern of Councilmember Annette Pernell at a Beaumont City Council meeting. Pernell spoke during citizen comments about how much she appreciated the city taking the initiative to become a Bee City.

“My hometown, Ashville, North Carolina was the first Bee City,” Pernell said.

I the video she stated the Beaumont Council were forward thinkers.

Pernell also commented on looking for a house in Beaumont.

The citizen who spoke on Pernell’s actions told the council that he appreciates the council but the one thing he did not see was a member of the Beaumont Council at the Orange City Council to speak.

“I consider it tactless,” he said.

He also told Pernell if she did not like being on the council or in the city of Orange she should leave.

Pernell said, after the meeting, she has had to deal with harassment from her neighbors for the last seven years. A situation which has lead to complaints being filed against Pernell and a lawsuit has been filed against the neighbors.

“A neighbor has put a Confederate flag in the window so every time I walk out my back door, that is what I see,” Pernell said.

Pernell has been vocal about her feelings against the Confederate Memorial under construction at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Interstate 10 since she first found out about the approval of the building permit in 2013.

For 12 years, there has been an agreement for emergency and non- emergency ambulance services between the city of Orange and Acadian Ambulance Service. One condition of the agreement is the response time should be less than 7 minutes and 59 seconds at least 80-percent of the time.

The agreement was made after the Orange Ambulance Service dissolved.

“They have served us well,” Fire Chief David Frenzel said of Acadian.

“Is death not considered an emergency?” Pernell asked. “Where are they located?”

Pernell said a neighbor of hers passed and it took 45 minutes for an ambulance to arrive and that last week a pastor passed out at a church and it took 20 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.

“Twenty minutes means 50 minutes,” Pernell said. “ 80-percent of the time is gambling with 20-percent of the people. We do not have a hospital here.”

Frenzel said the contract does not require a specific number of vehicles must have available at any given moment, only the response time.

“They are all over the county, fluid and mobile,” Frenzel said.

City Manager Dr. Shawn Oubre said the council could open the market.

“You can get a two minute response time, but you will pay for it,” Oubre said. “Tell us what you want and we will tell you how much it will cost.”

The council approved extending the agreement. Pernell was the only opposing vote.

Spears said he wanted to clarify the council was not saying the cost was worth more than a life.

Council also considered giving notice to the Orange Municipal Court Judge, he Municipal Deputy City Attorney and the Municipal Alternate/ Assistant Judge as the council is required to give them a one year notice.

The council agreed to leave them in place and not give notice. Pernell voted against.

“All service is for the pleasure of the council. This requires a majority vote,” City Attorney Jack Smith said.

Pernell said the two year contract has lasted 17 years.

“It is blocking someone from having this type knowledge by not opening it up for others,” Pernell said. “Law is called practicing because it is constantly changing.”

Smith said the contract was for two years, 17 years ago.

“Since then it has been at your pleasure,” Smith said. “It is a pay contract only, not an agreement or term contract.”

Smith said in his 51 years of service to the city, there have only been two municipal court judges.

Pernell said he had nothing against Judge Pennington, but she heard it was a two year contract.

“Why wasn’t that said two years, five years, 17 years ago,” Pernell asked. “We don’t get the information we need in front of us to make an informed decision.”

“You did not ask,” Smith said. “It has never been an issue.”

“You can keep him until the cows come home,” Pernell said. “But give me the information I need to make an informed decision.”

At the end of the meeting, Pernell apologized for her outsburst.