By JOHN BINDER
Tammany West news
LACOMBE – President Rick Franzo of the Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany (CCST) says the watchdog group is considering “serious action” against the Council on Aging of St. Tammany (COAST) for deceiving the public and the St. Tammany Parish Council about its plans for the agency’s Lacombe senior center.
In a letter addressed to Parish Councilman Jake Groby of District 7, Franzo said that COAST Executive Director Mary Toti promised the Parish Council that seniors at the Lacombe facility would be quickly moved to the Village Lutheran Church.
“COAST has still not opened the senior center in Lacombe nor have they established the Village Lutheran church as the new senior center,” said Franzo. “In early October, COAST came before the council and advised that within a month they would have the seniors in Lacombe into a new facility.”
According to Franzo, however, COAST has yet to move seniors into the church and is still busing seniors in Lacombe to the Slidell senior center.
“To date, nothing has been done and seniors in Lacombe have to get bused to Slidell just to get a free meal,” said Franzo. “COAST lied to both the council and the public as the seniors are being shafted once again.”
“No more lies, no more stories, no more excuses as they use our tax dollars and they need to stop using the seniors as pawns and do the right thing,” Franzo added.
COAST voted to sign a lease agreement with the Village Church Lutheran about a month ago; however, COAST has not confirmed whether the lease agreement has been signed.
The new lease agreement calls for COAST to rent the facility for $1,750 a month with a $3,500 damage deposit. But, the current Lacombe facility only costs COAST $1 per year because it rents the facility through the St. Tammany Parish School Board.
COAST came under fire for problems at the Lacombe facility, but rather than repair the building, elected to take on the large lease payment by going to the Village Church building.
Jeanne Hutchison, also a member of CCST, said senior citizens have been going to the Lacombe senior center for almost 40 years and consider it home, but said no efforts by COAST to repair the facility have been made.
Toti said she and COAST board members will not respond to comment requests by the media.