Firsts such as: a major oil spill, state supreme court decides who will be a councilman in Abbeville, a state park opens in Vermilion Parish, a state senator quits before his term is over and Vermilion Parish is visited twice by a NFL Hall of Famer.
There was the Gulf Oil Disaster Explosion on April 20 that killed 11 workers and unleashed 170 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf.
After about 40 years of being in the works, Palmetto
Island State Park opened in South Vermilion Parish.
Then there was politics and lots of it.
Vermilion Parish residents were educated in Politics 201 when Abbeville Councilman Francis Touchet and E.J. Broussard made state news by letting a judge decide who will be Abbeville’s councilman in their district.
Rick Coleman decided not to run for police chief of Abbeville and Tony Hardy became the only one who qualified for the position.
The Abbeville City Council gave themselves and the mayor raises in 2010, began a parks and recreation department by hiring a parks and recreation director, then in December learned the city is expected to be $500,000 in the hole. They also increased utility rates days later.
Residents were hit with a shocker earlier in December when Sen. Nick Gautreaux decided to step down as state senator in order to accept a head position with the state motor vehicle’s department in Baton Rouge.
The bright spot of 2010 had to be the New Orleans Saints quest for its first Super Bowl title.
Former New Orleans Saints linebacker Rickey Jackson made a splash in Vermilion Parish and with the Cattle Festival.
The Meridional staff selected the following as the Top 10 stories of 2010.
1. STATE PARK OPENS - Back in the 1970s, Abbeville’s John T. Landry had a vision to try and get a state park built and opened in Vermilion Parish. In October of 2010, his dream became a reality when Palmetto Island State Park opened.
The park has 96 RV sites and six cabins. However, the state was only able to fund the opening of the park from October to December 31 of 2010. Starting this month, a special fund with more than $300,000 of donated money is now being used to keep the park opened up until June of 2011.
2. OIL SPILL – The top story in the nation and state was the oil spill in April. While the oil spill managed to stay away from the Vermilion Parish coastline, it did have an effect on the parish.
BP set up a staging area in Intracoastal City and patrolled the parish coast searching for oil. Only a small bucket of tar bars were found.
Residents in the parish saw the price of oysters climb because oyster beds had to be closed due to the oil in the Gulf.
Deep water drilling came to a stop, which hurt those who work on deep water drilling oil rigs.
3. STATE SUPREME COURT DECIDES - Abbeville Councilman Francis Touchet challenged E.J. Broussard on whether he was qualified to run for a council seat in Abbeville. The judges had to decide if Broussard’s conviction on cashing gambling checks made him a felon or not. If he was a felon, he could not run for a political office.
Both men hired lawyers, who presented their arguments to a district judge, then it ended in the state supreme court. The supreme court ruled that Broussard could not seek office.
4. HALL OF FAMER IN ABBEVILLE - Abbeville had a first by the visit of Hall of Famer Ricky Jackson. Scheduling dates with the Cattle Festival and Jackson became mixed up. Jackson learned after the Cattle Festival that someone scheduled Jackson to appear in the Cattle Festival. Jackson attended an autograph session in Mississippi instead of attending the festival parade. However, he made up for confusion by visiting Abbeville twice, including visiting schools.
5. SENATOR STEPS DOWN - With just over a year left in Nick Gautreaux’s term as senator, he resigned. Gautreaux had been the parish’s senator for seven years before accepting the head job for the state’s DMV.
6. SAINTS FEVER - Vermilion Parish residents got the “Who Dat” fever as they watched the New Orleans Saints march to their first-ever Super Bowl title. A handful of residents went to the Super Bowl in Miami.
7. BROWN WATER - At the end of April, Abbeville residents learned that their water was going to be brown for a few weeks while the city did a major renovation of its water plant. The water, although safe, came out the faucet brown in resident’s homes. The city continued to flush out its water hydrants during the problem to clear the water.
8. $5 MILLION SHORT - The School Board had to make drastic cuts because its budget had a $5 million shortfall due to sagging sales tax revenue. Teachers and school board employees were displayed in 2010. The School Board also voted to shift the 13th check the employees get.
9. ABBEVILLE COUNCIL - The Abbeville City Council was in the news a lot in 2010. In April, the council voted to get rid of A.A. Comeaux Youth as the recreation provider of the city. The city hired a parks and recreation department manager after getting 19 applicants. A month later in May, the council voted to give itself a $400 a month raise and the mayor a $13,000 a year. In September, the Abbeville police arrested Councilman Wayne Landry after he tried to intervene with an officer who stopped a vehicle with Landry’s son in it. As the calender year ound down, the council learned the city is expected to have a budget shortfall of $500,000. Because of that, the city council voted to raise the city’s rates.
10. HARDY CHIEF - Another Hardy became chief of police in Abbeville. No one qualified to run for police chief in Abbeville other than Tony Hardy. Tony became the third Hardy to wear the chief of police badge in Abbeville. His father Minos was chief years ago, and Mike Hardy in the early 2000s and now Tony.
Honorable mentions: Best Western opens in March; Erath gets video cameras in April, Rick Coleman announces he is not running for Abbeville police chief in January; It snows in the North Vermilion area in February; two teens die in car accident in September; 256th leave and return in same year; Fr, Meaux deals with earthquake in Haiti.