BPPJ believes school board should take lead on proposed emergency egress at Arcadia High School

Arcadia property owner Douglas Sapp has made a handful of visits to local governmental meetings including the Bienville Parish Police Jury (BPPJ), Bienville Parish School Board and the Town of Arcadia. However, his efforts to bring the three entities together to discuss constructing an emergency travel route for the Arcadia School Complex has not happened yet.

The school is currently located on a dead-end road on Daniel Street. Sapp along with the Lamar-Caskey family own a portion of the property located in front of the school building and have made it clear that they are willing to donate and give up their right of ways to their land if there is a chance this emergency egress will come to fruition.

“I come in good faith,” said Sapp. “I do not think we need to limit this project to an emergency only access road. It could be used for after football games and basketball games, instead of having traffic backing up at the red light by the school. It’s all about safety, not for my personal gain. It’s for the growth and the progress of Bienville Parish, but number one – it’s for the kids.”

Sapp has done his homework by working with parish engineers and the Louisiana Department of Transportation – gathering information on available grants, design layouts and possible utilities needed.

Police Juror Michael Nelson explained to Sapp that he did not believe this was something the police jury should be responsible for. He said, “I think this is a school board issue. I think if a school needs an exit, then the school needs to be on board with this. To me this is a school issue, not a police jury issue.”

BPPJ President Jerry Bates agreed with Nelson and pointed out that Ringgold High School is much like the Arcadia School Complex and does not have an emergency exit either. “If we spend money on this in Arcadia, I may have to answer to the people in Ringgold,” said Bates.

“With all due respect, I beg to differ,” said Sapp. “If something were to happen at that school, it is going to be everyone’s responsibility. If some mass shooting happened at that school, I wouldn’t say the school board should have done something. The citizens of this town and the students deserve better.”

The BPPJ has provided work on roads and school bus turn-arounds in the past, but the school board reimburses them for the work done.

According to Sapp, the Bienville Parish School Board and Town of Arcadia are all on board, but a meeting needs to happen with them along with the BPPJ to iron out the details.

The jury passed a motion to have the parish engineer, Robert George, continue to research alternative routes that may be available for this emergency egress while future meetings are being planned.

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