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Annual Meeting 2020 Meeting Minutes

Garden District Civic Association Annual Meeting
Saturday, February 29, 2020
The Guru, 1857 Government St, Baton Rouge, LA 70802
12:00 PM

MEETING MINUTES

The Garden District Civic Association (GDCA) held its annual meeting at the Guru in Baton Rouge on Saturday, February 29, 2020.

Our current GDCA President, Claire Casey Pittman, welcomed the attendees and gave the GDCA’s Mission Statement as follows:

  • To be good stewards of the members’ annual dues which are allocated for the following priorities:
    • Off-duty police security
    • Social events for the neighborhood residents.  The GDCA sponsors five social events throughout the year that include: 
      • Spring crawfish boil
      • Neighborhood garage sale
      • Easter egg hunt
      • Fall picnic
      • Fall champagne stroll
    • Special allocations such as “care for our live oaks” initiative 
  • To act as a liaison between the neighborhood and city parish and intervene in matters that affect residents of our neighborhood.  To present neighborhood problems and possible solutions to various government entities. Claire cited the poor drainage and neighborhood flooding as an example.
  • Advocates on the neighborhood’s behalf during various city parish organizations’ meetings such as The Federation of Greater Baton Rouge Civic Associations and the EBR Planning Commission
  • Provide pet waste bags at various locations throughout the neighborhood

President-elect Justin Kozak then updated the group on the neighborhood drainage issues. Justin noted that stronger storms with excessive rainfall are inevitable.  Even working at full capacity, the current drains cannot handle these downpours. He stated that our industrious neighbors who got out and cleaned the drains on their streets last fall got the attention of city officials and has resulted in productive conversations between neighborhood residents and city parish officials in charge of drainage.  One attendee asked that an email be sent out to residents asking those who use a lawn service to request that the company do not blow grass clippings and leaves into the street or catch basins which end up in the drainage system.

GUEST SPEAKERS

SECURITY

Cpl. Seth Gauthier, Police Liaison, Baton Rouge Police Department

Seth Gauthier, the GDCA police liaison officer, addressed the members.  Officer Gauthier stated that he and 3 other Baton Rouge Police Officers patrol the Garden District.  Burglaries are on an upward trend and car burglaries in particular. He again reminded the members to lock their cars, to not leave valuables in the auto, and definitely not leave firearms in the auto.  He asked that we share personal security videos with the police if they would be helpful in identifying suspects. He asked that homeowners report burned out street lights to Entergy as well lit streets, alleys and yards are definitely a deterrent to crime.  He stated that motion activated lighting also helps.  

Officer Gauthier stated that if a homeowner is going to be out of town and has no one to watch their house, they can notify the GDCA Board through email at [email protected] . A board member will notify Officer Gauthier and he will have his officers make deliberate passes by the residence while the homeowner is away. 

Officer Gauthier stated that EBR is in the process of setting up a “crime sitter” which will provide real time advanced surveillance in order to send police units to locations of criminal activity.  They are in the process of staffing this department.

Finally, Officer Gauthier said that homeowners should use the following phone number for non-emergency calls: 389-2000.

CITY

Kelvin Hill, Assistant Chief Administrative Office, City of Baton Rouge Mayor’s Office 

Our second guest speaker was Kevin Hill, with Mayor Broome’s office. Mr. Hill updated the members on the MoveBR initiative which will encompass many projects.  The first 40 priority projects have a budget of 600 million dollars. The second set of projects will cover enhancements to existing roads, sidewalks and will include bike paths.  The budget for this phase will be 300 million dollars. Signalization and other traffic flow enhancements will be included in the projects. 

Complete streets project will include pedestrian ways, buffer zones, green infrastructure and storm water management. He said that plans included new bike paths but that maintenance of the old bike paths are not included in the budget.

Mr. Hill stated that the website MoveBR.BRLA.gov contains an enormous amount of information and includes interactive maps, design and layouts of sidewalks and bike paths.  He encouraged everyone to visit the site and become familiar with the numerous projects being undertaken with this initiative.  

Mr. Hill briefly touched on the LSU lakes project that will see dredging of the lakes and other beautification enhancements to the lakes.

Leanne Jones, Project Manager, Barber Brothers

Our third guest speaker was Leanne Jones, Project Manager with Barber Brothers Construction for the Government Street project.  She stated that the tentative completion date is late 2020. She stated that progress is being made but there have been many changes made to the original plans and that these changes are taking time.  Some of the changes noted were irrigation installation in all of the planting beds along Government and also pouring all concrete sidewalks, curbs and driveways along the corridor. She stated that Government Street in front of the neighborhood is not complete and that an additional layer of asphalt is still to be laid.

Representative Garrett Graves, United States Congress, 6th District of Louisiana

U.S. Congressman Garrett Graves addressed the members regarding numerous topics.  He said that the new Terrace St. exit is now opened on I-10 but they are still trying to work out the Washington St. exit issues.  He reported that 3 billion dollars has been issued for flood relief. The city of Baton Rouge will receive 255 million for flood control.  Some of these funds will be used for work on five major drainage canals. Additionally, EBR parish will receive 112 million dollars for flood control work.  

The Comite River Diversion project is finally under construction and has been given 392 million dollars to complete the project.

14 million dollars in grant money has been awarded to local police, the District Attorney’s office, the EBR Sheriff’s Office and the court system for enhancing crime fighting technology.  

Congressman Graves took questions from the members regarding the corona virus, food safety, ride sharing promotions, a new Mississippi River bridge and reopening the Amtrak train route between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Martha Salomon, former GDCA board member and current GDCA Short-Term Rental Liaison

Our final guest speaker was Martha Soloman who told the members about the short-term rental ordinance proposal that will be discussed in future city council meetings.  The Baton Rouge Federation of Civic Associations has completed a survey and asked that neighborhood associations complete the survey as well. Martha handed out surveys to the members in attendance. The city council will take these surveys into consideration when formulating an ordinance that will govern short-term rentals such as Air BnBs.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS! 

TREE MULCHING DAY

Tree mulching day to be held the morning of May 16.  Mulch is being donated to the neighborhood as part of the Care For Our Live Oaks initiative that the association has undertaken. We are asking that neighbors come out on the 16th and helped spread mulch beneath designated trees that will be pruned at a later date.  More information on this initiative will be included in the newsletter.

GARAGE SALE

The annual neighborhood garage sale is being done in conjunction with other Mid-City neighborhoods on May 2.  

CRAWFISH BOIL

The annual crawfish boil will be held on the afternoon of May 16, same day that we will mulch the trees. 

BOARD ELECTIONS

The following individuals volunteered to become board members and were confirmed by a majority vote:

  • Mike Helms
  • Babeth Schpegep
  • Neill Terry

CLOSING

The GDCA board members would to thank Ms. Sydney Coffee for hosting our annual meeting at the Guru, her lovely event facility.  Also a big thank you to Daniel Pittman, sous chef of the day. Thank you for grilling the delicious burgers.

HAMBURGERS & MINGLING

Download Meeting Minutes

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Claire PittmanAnnual Meeting 2020 Meeting Minutes

Crawlspace Control by Jack Iverstine

I’ve had moisture issues in my crawlspace in my primary residence and an investment property. This has created buckling and cupping of wood floors, mold, mildew and rot issues and not too mention vermin and pest issues. I spent several days and hours researching solutions and meeting with several different contractors with different methods of eliminating the issue. Based on my research encapsulating the crawlspace is a far better solution to these issues than any other other solution but the only vendor offering this solution was out of state and expensive. Luckily, my neighbor just used Jack Iverstine with Crawlspace Control, 225-436-1001, to resolve similar issues. Jack gave me an encapsulation quote that was much more feasible and he did great work. The relative humidity in crawlspace is remotely monitored so I can tell the moisture is extremely lower in my crawlspace now and see it change at anytime. I was disappointed with 4 contractors I met before I met Jack and wish I had met him before I has some inferior crawlspace repair work done on an investment property. Please contact me if you want more details or to check out my crawlspace or give Jack a call. He is an honest, hard working contractor which isn’t easy to find!

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Crawlspace Control by Jack Iverstine
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2020 U.S.. Census

2020 U.S. Census

The U.S. Government conducts a census every ten years as mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution. A new census will be conducted this year beginning April 1, 2020.  The 2020 Census counts the population in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each home will be asked to respond to a questionnaire—online, by phone, or by mail. Households will be able to respond to the census online for the first time this year.

In a New Year’s Day commentary, the Baton Rouge Advocate editorial staff state succinctly the reasons for the census and the importance of each household’s participation.  We have include a link to the editorial piece for your reading pleasure. 

https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/opinion/our_views/article_60b15618-21f4-11ea-b1bc-c79e72c7ccc2.html

Your Garden District Civic Association will be providing additional information regarding the census and the need for census takers in upcoming newsletters.

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jcwproductions2020 U.S.. Census

Albert Davis Concrete

We had Mr. Albert Davis dig out and replace our driveway. He was very prompt and got almost everything done in one day. The crew did a very good job and their bid on the job was about two-thirds of another bid. I highly recommend him. Call him at 936-9495.

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Albert Davis Concrete

Albert Davis Concrete

We had Mr. Albert Davis dig out and replace our driveway. He was very prompt and got almost everything done in one day. The crew did a very good job and their bid on the job was about two-thirds of another bid. I highly recommend him. Call him at 936-9495.

read more
Albert Davis Concrete

Albert Davis Concrete

We had Mr. Albert Davis dig out and replace our driveway. He was very prompt and got almost everything done in one day. The crew did a very good job and their bid on the job was about two-thirds of another bid. I highly recommend him. Call him at 936-9495.

read more
Albert Davis Concrete
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Powderpost Beetles

The word “termites” can strike fear in a homeowner and for good reason.  The damage their voracious appetite can cause to wooden structures can be devastating. But did you know that the powderpost beetle can cause as much damage as those dreaded termites.  A Garden District resident recently discovered their subfloors had been infested with powderpost beetles and had to undertake an extensive repair job to floors and subfloors to eradicate the damage inflicted on their home. 

We are providing information on this menace to give homeowners something to reference when discussing possible infestation with your exterminator and an idea of what to look for to spot the potential presence of the beetle.

The following information regarding powderpost beetles is taken from the Terminix website.

Powderpost” is the descriptive name given to several different species of wood-boring beetles that can infest homes. These insects lay their eggs in the pores of wood. Their larvae then hatch from the eggs, feeding on the wood and creating a series of tunnels as they go.

Eventually, the larvae will mature into pupae and then adult beetles. Once the insects reach adulthood, they tunnel their way out of the wood, leaving behind a tiny exit hole. This life cycle can take two to five years to complete, meaning the larvae are literally eating the wood in your home for years.

Like termites, some powderpost beetles will feed on hardwoods — such as oak, ash, walnut, bamboo and hickory — and softwoods like pine. As the frames from most homes are built from softwoods, certain species of powderpost beetles can cause structural damage to houses.

Other species of powderpost beetles will only eat hardwood, but that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. While you may not see structural damage from these species, it is possible to discover infestations in wood paneling, crown molding, window and door frames, plywood, hardwood floors or furniture.

How Do I Know If I Have an Infestation?

Short of actually laying eyes on a powderpost beetle, one of the only ways to know that you have a problem is to see the frass they leave behind. Frass is a mixture of powderpost beetle larvae excrement and miniscule wood particles that falls out of the exit holes the adult insects make as they emerge.

Depending on the species of beetle, the frass can either be extremely fine — like flour or baby powder — or slightly gritty like cornmeal. The best way to determine whether the residue you find in your home is a result of powderpost beetle damage or the work of another insect is to arrange for an inspection by a trained pest control professional who will better be able to identify the culprit.

How to Treat Powderpost Beetles

There are DIY treatment methods that you can find online, but the effectiveness of these is hard to gauge, making them risky solutions. Because of this, it’s best to consider a professional pest control service provider.

What Does Powderpost Beetle Treatment Cost?

Fortunately, because treatments are customized to your situation, there’s not an exact number for how much treatment will cost. The final figure will depend on factors such as where in the country you live, the size of your home, location and extent of the activity. Additionally, it’s possible that repairs will be needed to address powderpost beetle damage, which can further increase the final price tag.

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Claire PittmanPowderpost Beetles
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2019 Champagne Stroll

The Garden District Civic Association’s annual fall Champagne Stroll was held Sunday, October 27, under a perfect autumn sky.  The stroll offered chilled champagne and scrumptious eats at each host home, and live entertainment at our final stop. Four Chambongs, donated by GDCA board member and owner of Red Cake Events, Mrs. Heather Day, were raffled off at each stop of the stroll .  GDCA members as well as neighbors and friends from within and outside the neighborhood participated in the stroll.  We were elated to meet new residents of the Garden District who have recently relocated here from as far away as Boise, Idaho and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Welcome to the neighborhood!!

The homes featured by this year’s stroll highlighted various styles of architecture that make our Garden District neighborhood such a unique and sought after place to live.  Our first stop, a Greek revival-style home was hosted by owners Catherine and Jeff Russell who greeted strollers on their lovely front porch.  Sweet and savory hors d’oeuvres were generously provided by Robert Johnson and Rick Vallet. At our second stop, a mid-century modern ranch, homeowners Mindy and Luke Piontek, greeted strollers with champagne, appetizers and mini muffulettas provided by Cannetella’s Italian Grocery. The third stop was the quintessential, craftsman bungalow-style home of Beth Floyd and Steven Barker.  Is there anything more inviting than a bungalow’s front porch?  Beth and Steven welcomed strollers onto their comfortable front porch and offered tasty appetizers provided by Bet R Supermarket and Trader Joe’s.  We are very fortunate to have such generous local businesses here in Baton Rouge!  The final stop of the stroll was hosted by Flo and Bill Rodman at their Dutch Colonial-style home.  Participants gathered in the huge backyard for some of Bill’s scrumptious jambalaya, more champagne and world class entertainment provided by the duet of Carly Vicknair and partner.

Once again, the annual champagne stroll was a huge success.  The GDCA would like to express our sincerest gratitude to our hosts Catherine and Jeff Russell, Mindy and Luke Piontek, Beth Floyd and Steven Barker and Flo and Bill Rodman.  Also a huge thank you to our local businesses who donated all the delicious foods including Robert Johnson and Rick Vallet, Cannetella’s Italian GroceryBet R Supermarket and Trader Joe’s.  And finally a huge thank you to Anne Trapp, our GDCA board member and organizer of this year’s stroll.  We appreciate all of your hard work to make this activity a success. 

Social Media and marketing were provided by Eolas LLC.

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Claire Pittman2019 Champagne Stroll
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Sponsor Spotlight: The Child Development Cooperative

The Garden District Civic Association is happy to introduce our neighbors to this month’s spotlighted business: The Child Development Cooperative.

The Child Development Cooperative is owned and operated by Jennifer Crowell, a southern California native who opened the cooperative ten years ago in Mid-City.  Prior to opening The Child Development Cooperative, Jennifer opened and ran the child care center at the  A.C. Lewis YMCA. When the YMCA decided to close this center, Jennifer was able to find a new and larger location to open The Child Development Cooperative. She chose the mid-city area of Baton Rouge because of the people and businesses in the area.

The facility is currently located at 3954 Florida Blvd. The entrance of the building faces Convention St. and is located between Live Oak & Jasmine Streets. The physical indoor space is quite large at approximately 10,000 square feet and the the outdoor campus is 2.5 acres.

Jennifer tells us that she is from southern California where she earned her degree. She worked in several early childhood programs while in school and found a home in a nationally accredited program where she worked with all age groups and was eventually promoted to lead teacher, then curriculum coordinator followed closely by assistant-director and finally director before moving to Baton Rouge. After moving here, Jennifer worked in banking while searching for employment in a preschool that would fit her education and experience.  She spotted an advertisement for an organization looking to open a child care center. She applied for the job and was hired and given the reins to build a program that she knew was best for children. She opened, built, and ran the program successfully for the A.C. Lewis YMCA for ten years before taking it over herself. This led to the creation of The Child Development Cooperative which remained at the YMCA location for ten years before moving to its’ current Florida Blvd. location.

Jennifer describes her business model as follows: “I know from scientifically based research that a play-based, child-led program is what is best for children. That is what I strive to provide. As new research is conducted, we change our model to incorporate that information. Our program looked different 10 years ago and it will look different 10 years from now as we grow and know more about brain development and best practices.”

“I think what sets us apart from other child care centers is the amount of time we spend outside and that we protect children’s right to be children and don’t subscribe to the academic push-down that is happening in our society. We have put into practice the adage “it takes a village to raise a child” and provide many opportunities for families to participate and volunteer.”

In addition to operating The Cooperative, Jennifer has become a trainer for the State of Louisiana in early childhood programming. She offers training classes for early childhood professionals and consults with other programs on various aspects of early childhood programming.

The Child Development Cooperative provides full-time child care services for children from ages six weeks to five years. There are nine full-time employees and Jennifer states that they will be growing to ten employees in 2020 as they add another classroom. An infant room was added this fall and she is ready to add a toddler room in January 2020.

Word of mouth and personal recommendations from current or past Co-op families are the main form of advertisement and openings are announced on Facebook and Instagram. Typical enrollment is in the spring for reserving a space in the fall. Jennifer states,“The waiting list for enrollment is typically long so now is the perfect time to join our program”.

The Cooperative’s website address is:  http://thechilddevelopmentcooperative.com

The Instagram profile: @thechilddevelopmentcooperative

The Facebook link:  https://www.facebook.com/TheChildDevelopmentCooperative/

Operating hours are 7 a.m to 5:30 p.m, Monday through Friday.

The Garden District Civic Association wishes to congratulate Jennifer Crowell on the tenth anniversary of the opening of The Child Development Cooperative and as always, we encourage our Garden District neighbors to consider patronizing this locally-owned business.

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Claire PittmanSponsor Spotlight: The Child Development Cooperative