Alisha Fontenot and Jennifer Meylain, representing Evangeline CAN, briefed council members about autism and the fund-raiser.
Fontenot said Autism Awareness Day is nationally designated as April 2, and April is Autism Awareness Month. Meylain said the event will start with a Zumba warm-up, a one-mile walk, followed by games, a dance program and other family oriented activities. Registration will begin at 9 a.m. and the walk begins at 10 a.m. People who pay the registration fee ($20 by March 20 and $25 after that) will receive an Evangeline CAN T-shirt.
Donations to Evangeline CAN, a designated non-profit organization, are tax deductible. The organization has a stated mission, which is to “empower families affected by an autism spectrum disorder through support, education and public awareness.”
Before the council voted to declare April 13 Autism Awareness Day and issue a proclamation to Evangeline CAN on that day, Mayor Jennifer Vidrine noted the event is open to everyone. “The mayor does plan to walk,” she said.
Later during the meeting, council members voted to reappoint Tommy Jones and Carrie Thomas on the parish recreation board and to replace the late Lula Richardson with Shounda Jack, who attended the council meeting. The board’s responsibility includes operation of the new 60-acre park off Lithcode Road in Ville Platte.
Mayor Vidrine emphasized “This park is for everybody,” and is expected to add facilities for sports other than baseball, which will be played on the newly constructed diamonds there.
After the council meeting was adjourned, Fontenot, with Evangeline CAN, returned to the podium to ask that the recreation board consider including children with autism to participate in organized sporting events at the new park.
Then her husband, Shannon, and their eight-year-old son, Blaise, went to the podium. Shannon said his son “loves to play baseball,” on a team, and is on his school’s honor roll. His son told the council, “It just sounds different when I talk.”
Mayor Vidrine said, “He’s not shy, that’s for sure.”
Also during the meeting, the council voted to have the mayor proceed with two projects she has been working on:
•Through contacts with the National Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities, the mayor has arranged to have a CGI Communications crew spend four or five days in Ville Platte to produce a video that will be available on the Internet to audiences throughout the nation “and the world.” The mayor said the project will not cost the city anything, and that council members should think of appropriate parts of the city for the crew to film. The mayor also said the city needs to “clean up. Company’s coming.” She said the crew will be in Ville Platte within three months.
•The council also voted to have the mayor negotiate the purchase of the old Wal-Mart building on East Main Street, with the current owners. The building would be used by a Boys and Girls Club the mayor is working to establish, which includes opening a bank account where funds for the project can be deposited. Events in the building, which is nearly 50,000 square feet, could include teen dances, arcades, a skating rink, movies, as well as facilities for adults.
In other business:
•The mayor reported the city spent $7,606 less in February than in January.
•Mayor Vidrine presented a plaque to Mary Jenkins, who recently retired after working for the city for 30 years.