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allen parish reservoir Publication:$rec=357833

American Press  Publication Date: 03/25/2003  Page and Section: 2 B 

Reservoir closer to reality  BY JEREMY HARPER   AMERICAN PRESS

OBERLIN -- Allen Parish has secured state funds and hired an engineering firm in its ongoing bid to build a parish reservoir.

The Allen Parish Reservoir Commission hired Denmon Engineering of Monroe to help with the initial design and study phases of the project.

Police juror A.M. "Buddy" Farris Jr. made the announcement at the Police Jury's Monday meeting.

The engineering firm will be paid by recently acquired state funds, said Phil Beard, mayor of Oberlin and reservoir commission chairman.

The reservoir commission has already received $100,000 in state money and $300,000 more should be available in July, Beard said.

Mike Thompson, the reservoir commission's consultant, helped secure the funding. He will seek more money when the Legislature convenes again, Beard said.

The reservoir project has long been touted as an economic stimulus for Allen Parish and a solution to the area's water problems.

The idea languished for more than a decade until its revival last year, marked by the Police Jury's $75,000 pledge to hire Thompson.

The reservoir commission hopes to use state money to cover Thompson's salary in the future, Beard said.

Thompson, a former mayor of Delhi, was involved in the construction of Poverty Point Reservoir in northeast Louisiana.

Allen Parish officials are hoping Thompson's instrumental role in that successful project -- it cost $20 million and generates $8 million a year -- will translate to success again.

"We're moving along really at a pretty good pace right now," Beard said.

Denmon Engineering is expected to work with the reservoir commission study and select potential sites for the project.

Another key and lengthy part of the process will be the approval from the Army Corps of Engineers, Beard said.

The approval process alone is expected to take about a year.