Sulphur 13-year-old headed for Scripps National Spelling Bee

Published 10:54 am Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Kai Richardson, a 13-year-old student at Maplewood Middle School, is the winner of the CBS Lake Charles Regional Spelling Bee. Sulphur City Council honored his achievement at the Monday meeting. Mayor Mike Danahay read the proclamation.

“Richardson is a member of the Student Council and is also in the French and gifted program,” Danahay told the Council. “He loves technology, geography and is very interested in politics. These students are the best of the best. He will be one of the five students from Louisiana and the only speller to represent Southwest Louisiana in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.”

Two taxes are up for renewal in the October special election, (1) a property tax millage of five mills for purchasing and maintaining equipment, enlarging, improving and maintaining Fire Department facilities and salaries for maintenance and operation of the Department,  and (2) a special five mill tax for improving and maintaining the streets within the City of Sulphur. These are not new taxes, according to the city’s administration.

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The council approved City of Sulphur utilities going up $4.75 per month and against the rezone and expansion of a long-time Sulphur business into a residential/business/ commercial checkerboard.

“I am joining others in my neighborhood in voicing my opposition to the rezoning of properties on Allen, Patton and Lena St.,” said Chris Higginbotham, speaking against the rezoning and expansion, citing “disruptions to our homes, setting precedents for other nearby businesses moving in or expanding closer and rendering our homes worthless.”

Higginbotham, who moved to the neighborhood after the business was built, was one of six people to speak against the expansion and rezone.

The original business structure was built 40 years ago before the City of Sulphur began zoning for residential, mixed residential, business and commercial, resulting in it butting up against a neighborhood. The business and residences are located near Interstate 10.

Kim-Cool owner Travis Marburger already owned the residential property behind his business location. Now, at that point he was ready to expand, he sought the council’s approval of zoning the residential property and existing business property as commercial so he could add space to his existing structure.

Told by the planning and zoning board that he would be required to build a privacy fence or hedge if the ordinance passed, Travis said, “I’ll build both.” He did a noise study. He went door-to-door with his plan and to answer questions and spoke to 12 residents. The business does not generate traffic or noise, and has 36 employees.

Council Members Dru Ellender and Joy Abshire voted in favor of the expansion, which did not pass. Melinda Hardy, Mandy Thomas and Nick Nezat voted against.

“I’m not happy with the decision,” Marburger said, “but it’s the Council’s place to make a decision. I will say that I think their decisions should be based on facts, rules and precedents and not feelings. It seems that this decision was based on feelings.”

Sulphur residents receive a monthly bill from the city that includes charges for water, sewer, trash pick up and a capital improvement fee, and it will soon be going up $4.75.

City Finance Director Jennifer Thorn explained utility increases. “We’re proposing an increase to the water rate of $1.65 a month, a sewer rate increase of $2.15 a month and a capital improvement fee increase of 10 cents. The trash pick-up portion of the monthly utility bill is a pass through, according to Thorn. That means the full amount collected goes to the trash company, Waste Management. That amount will go from $20.40 to $21.25.

Each increase had to be voted on individually and council members voted unanimously in favor of the increases, except for the water increase. Nick Nezat and Melinda Hardy voted against.