Poverty Point Reservoir

In Hurricane ravaged Louisiana, drowning in water and political corruption, money flows to build 14 new Reservoirs. Gov. Kathleen Blanco supports waste of Billions with 150 natural and 30 man-made existing lakes. Self-serving Politicians using Eminent Domain and tax money to build reservoirs are realizing personal gain.

Louisiana is in the residential Real Estate business. Legislator Developer Rep. Francis C. Thompson has Lakefront lots for sale at Poverty Point Reservoir and State Park located in Richland Parish 3 miles north of Delhi off La. 17.

The 2,700-acre reservoir, located in the Mississippi River alluvial flood plain has southern and northern dams extending from Bayou Macon to the Macon Ridge, an east levee, a tainter gated outfall structure, and a perimeter roadway.

Lacking natural flowing streams, the reservoir required diversion of the existing Cypress Bayou, closure dam in Cypress Bayou, diversion channel from Cypress Bayou to Macon Bayou, and a new bridge on LA Hwy 17.

Poverty Point Reservoir, Lacking natural flowing streams uses six pumps to supply water to the lake. Two large 36'' inch diameter pumps supply water from Bayou Macon, a ditch bayou flowing from Lake Chicot in Arkansas.

Poverty Point still uses four large bore 16" inch Mississippi Aluvial Aquifer water wells as a source of water for the lake.

Poverty point is clouded in a controversy of Political wrong doing, and possible illegal activities. Politicians using Eminent Domain and tax money are profiting. Eminent Domain was used, and 26 pieces of property taken to build the lake.

Thanks to residents of Delhi, La for pictures below, and details about possible wrong doing of Cypress timber cut and hauled at night after property was obtained by the state. Other possible wrong doing reported is rock intended for the lake used on private property, and rock taken from Madison Port used on private lots for seawalls.

Poverty Point Reservoir, created 1992 by Rep. Francis C. Thompson with brother Michael Thompson as consultant, built by Denmon Engineering has cost taxpayers over $40 Million Dollars with $3.5 million approved for 2005.
Federal money obtained by Sen. Mary Landrieu adds another $1 million for 2005.

Will the Millions of Dollars continue to flow like water year after year forever?
Poverty point is receiving $3.5 million for 2006 with $500,000 in cash from the state General Fund. Thompson's Reservoir Development Fund, House Bill No. 1129 of 2006 secured another $980,000 in cash for the Golf Course.

Rep. Thompson's Legislation is creating Reservoirs in Richland, Ouachita, Allen, Caldwell, Morehouse, and he has promoted them in Washington and other Parishes with $41,975,000 approved for 12 in 2004, and $55.2 million in 2005.
Thompson's brother is consultant on 7 of 8 lakes receiving $39,490,000 for 2006 .

In 2001, Rep. Francis C. Thompson created House-Bill 1136 allowing sale of land taken by Eminent Domain to a Third-Party.
Thompson and his next-door neighbor are now selling Lakefront-lots.

Legislator Developer Rep. Francis Thompson’s Cypress Cove at Poverty Point-LLC is selling Lake front lots.
Picture below shows Thompson's 12-acre dogleg Peninsula with rock lined seawall lots for sale.

Thompson's pier and boathouse with use of Cypress, and same color roofing tin as State Lodges and Cabins.
Francis is currently building a $300,000 home on one of his lakefront lots. (Below: View from other side of Peninsula)
Thompson's friend purchasing one of his lots is William R. Coenen, Jr. also in real estate as Coenen Properties-LLC, legal council for the Reservoir Commission, and District Attorney for Richland Parish.

Michael L. Thompson
in real estate, former Delhi Mayor now Consultant receives $100,000 a year per lake for Allen, Washington, Morehouse, Caldwell, LaSalle, and has proposed Reservoirs in Ouachita, Jackson and Lincoln parishes.

Thompson was Director of Poverty Point Reservoir, and a former business partner of the lake builder Parish Engineer Terry D. Denmon of Denmon Engineering. Thompson is now director of the Golf Course.

Gov. Blanco's transition team member, Mike Thompson’s Commerce Industry Board position is questionable.
Nepotism, Cronyism, conflicts of interest, and ethics violations seem to exist.

Michael L. Thompson's Consultant office located at 5222 Highway 17 Delhi, LA is built out of Cypress, and across the highway from the lake, and his brother Clyde Thompson's Lakefront house.

The first rock-covered driveway in the foreground is the driveway to Mike's home.
Aerial view of lots, and private road taxpayers paid for. Taxpayers paid $1.2 million for Poverty Point Island Lots development with a $2.2 million keyed gate entry private road sold for $621,200 dollars to Thompson's neighbor.

Those developers who began the project as a private enterprise worked out an arrangement with the Office of State Parks to retain land within the park for private residential development. Private residents use an electronic card to gain access to their property at any time of the day or night. "It was a big step for the parks department to get involved in something like this," Taylor said. (Billy Gibson LOUISIANA COUNTRY May 2004) Louisiana is in the residential Real Estate business.

Thompson's neighbor Frank E. Maxwell Jr. is selling lots as Settlers Point under Poverty Point Development Company-LLC. The partners have also established Settler's Point Homeowners Association-INC.
Maxwell is director of Ouachita Independent Bank; available for lot financing, and his co-partner Shelton T. Parker, Jr., and Lawrence W. Pickett are also directors of Commercial Capital Bank.

Official bank for the Poverty Point Reservoir District, Guaranty Bank directors are Frank E. Maxwell, III, co-partner of Settlers Point, and William R. Coenen, Jr., legal council for the Reservoir district.

Delhi Residents say, "Thompson possibly angry with Maxwell because Denmon Engineering was not used for additional development installed the Keycard entry gate, and raises questions of possible kickbacks".

Is Denmon Engineering, always the selected contractor, a possible violation of open bidding law due to HCR60 by Francis Thompson in 2003 saying D.O.T.D. may select who they want?
Rep. Thompson, and Denmon both serve on Aquaculture Advisory Council.

Denmon, Vice Chairman of Wildlife-Fisheries may be a conflict of interest, and his lake-site selections may destroy Scenic streams, Wildlife, and Endangered species he is supposed to protect. Denmon receives $800,000 for site selection report.

Clyde Nolan Thompson 2 story Lakefront home built of Cypress is located at 5227 Highway 17 Delhi, LA.
Clyde is director of the Madison Port, and retired teacher, but lists occupation as farmer on Campaign contributions.

Could Clyde be receiving financial aid or grants as a farmer since his brother Francis is on Agriculture Committee?
Delhi Residents say private boat ramps are prohibited at Poverty Point, but Clyde and Reservoir Commission member James Strong seem to enjoy special privileges and excluded from this rule. Clyde's rock-covered driveway is on the left.

The old Poverty Point Reservoir Commission office, taken by Eminent Domain was transfered to Office of State Parks.
Residents say, Mr. Joe Amacker's home was condemed because his carport would possibly flood, and
Reservoir Commission member (Jimmy) James T. Strong took the property for money he had loaned him.
Jan 14, 2004 transfered to State Parks along with Marina, Cabins, and Gatehouse.

The New Poverty Point Reservoir Commission office is located at 5819 Highway 17 Delhi, LA 71232.
Kathy Cleveland was, or is, the Secretary for the Reservoir Commission with pamphlets of lots for sale in her office.
The Lake was filled with water in 2001. She has been there since the beginning in 1992.
On Oct 20, 2005, Richland Parish Sheriff Charles McDonald says 53-Year-old Kathy Cleveland of EPPS is charged with two counts of Felony and 16 counts of Forgery in connection with the Alleged embezzlement of $150,000 in Reservoir District Funds. After she was booked into the Richland Parish Detention Center, Cleaveland was released on bond of $187,500. McDonald said Investigators had determined the thefts had occured over a five-year-period, dating back to 2000.

She is believed to be the key to exposing political wrong doing in the controversial Poverty Point lake project. District attorney Billy Cohen has recused himself from the case since he is also legal counsel to the Poverty Point District.
The matter was referred to Attorney General Charles Foti who has launched a pilot program to encourage treatment instead of jail for persons caught embezzling because of a gambling habit. . . could it be that Cathy Kleveland has embezzling money because of a gambling habit?

Business is Booming at Poverty Point.


The Joke of Louisiana Political Profiteering

By Christopher Tidmore

As she opened the regular legislative session, Governor Blanco went off the official text--released to the press and originally published here on Bayoubuzz.com.
When discussing the state purchase of land in North Louisiana, Blanco added, "Before you jump to a conclusion, let me assure you Francis Thompson does not own the land."

That line, as columnist Charlie Davis has observed, "brought down the house". It did so with good reason. Rep. Francis Thompson has created a multimillion dollar business regarding state purchases of rural land--and converting that land into artificial lakes. From profiting on property sales on land that the State Representative owns and converting into new lakes to collecting large consulting fees for the construction of the artificial reservoirs, his family has financially benefited off this state program.

For example as the Monroe News Star pointed out, Rep. Thompson's brother Michael receives a consulting fee of $100,000 per year per lake for the construction of the artificial reservoirs in rural areas--paid for by the state.

According to news sources, Mike Thompson is the Reservoir governmental consultant for Allen, Washington, Morehouse, Caldwell, and LaSalle parishes, and proposed Reservoir projects in western Ouachita, Jackson, and Lincoln parishes. Thanks mainly to the intervention of his legislator brother, the state approved $41,975,000 approved for 12 new reservoirs in 2004.

Moreover, Francis Thompson seems to be helping his brother and close political ally Terry Denmon of Denmon Engineering by creating Reservoirs in Richland, Ouachita, Allen, Caldwell, Morehouse, promoting them in Washington, and other Parishes.

Currently, there are thirty lakes, fourteen of them artificial, supported in the legislature by Thompson, as economic development projects. They certainly have helped the Thompson family.

As the News Star and talkshow host Moon Griffon have pointed out, the most famous Poverty Point Reservoir, created in 1992 by Rep. Francis Thompson, was built by political ally Terry Denmon with Michael Thompson as project Director, and now as the well paid director of the Golf Course. The keyed gate entry began by Legislator Developers as private enterprise has cost taxpayers $40 Million approved for 2005.

An Audit in 2002, reported by the newspaper, shows Taxpayers paid $1.2 million to develop the island lots at Poverty Point Reservoir sold for $621,200 dollars to Thompson´s neighbor. Audit also shows Taxpayers paid $2.2 Million for keyed gate entry private road to the lots, and $.3 million for an office protection system or burglar alarm. Legislator Developer Thompson's CYPRESS COVE AT POVERTY POINT-LLC, and his next-door neighbor are realizing personal gain selling Lakefront lots.

(Interestingly, Rep. Thompson passed House Bill 1136 in 2001 allowing sale of land taken by Eminent Domain to Third Party without first offering to sell back to original owner, a matter in part under debate in this current session.)

Desire to protect his profitable side venture may have led Thompson to a quid pro quo with Francis Heitmeier over the maneuvers to kill the unified Levee Board, in fact.

In the closing days of the Special Session, Senator Francis Heitmeier attempted countless parliamentary procedures to amend, undermine, and even kill Senator Walter Boasso's unified regional levee board. While a two board solution did emerge, thanks in large part to the West Bank Democrat, attempts to undermine the required appointment of qualified engineers and hydrologists to the panels was not as successful.

Heitmeier's hostility to the single levee board surprised few in the media. Members of the Senator's own family received multi-million dollar contracts from the Orleans Levee District, not to mention the largess enjoyed Heitmeier's friends and political allies.

Less well observed was the alliance of Heitmeier's friend in the House, Rep. Francis Thompson, in every corresponding parliamentary maneuver to kill the single board. The North Louisiana legislator had seemingly little to gain from the change in Levee construction oversight.

However, Thompson was almost as vigilant as Heitmeier at times. Insiders, who asked not to be named, tell Bayoubuzz.com that the reason was simple. They say the North Louisianan owed the West Bank Orleanian for the latter's aid in building artificial lakes across rural Louisiana

Alliance alleges wrongdoing

Members say politics play role in proposed Allen Parish reservoir project


MITTIE — The Community Preservation Alliance says it been playing "connect-the-dots" for months in its investigating sweetheart deals designed to benefit a group of the state’s most politically connected.

"We are the ones that will ultimately foot the bill for this. This is not just a local issue," said alliance member George Perkins. "I think we have ample documentation to raise some questions."

Among those politically connected that the alliance alleges of wrongdoing are Michael L. Thompson, a consultant for the proposed Allen Parish reservoir; and his legislator brother, state Rep. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi.

In 1990, state Rep. Thompson pushed for legislation to create the Poverty Point Reservoir District. In 1992, his brother was hired as consultant on the project, which was estimated to have cost $27 million, though that sum is being disputed by those who opposed the reservoir.

Michael Thompson, who owns an administrative governmental consulting firm in Delhi, has worked with several reservoir projects across the state other than Poverty Point. The other reservoir projects include Caldwell and Washington parishes.

Thompson denies using his brother’s political connections to benefit his lake projects. He said he was sought out to help develop reservoirs due to his experience.

"I was asked by the Police Jury and elected officials to come to Allen to do the lake because I had experience at it,’’ Thompson said last week. ‘‘They came to me for the same reasons the rest of them do — because of the experience.’’

Alliance members’ allegations aren’t new to Thompson, however. He’s been reading the claims on newspaper message boards posted by individuals who also allege wrongdoing, he said.

‘‘I’m not the issue, the issue is where the project goes,’’ Thompson said. ‘‘Hopefully, we will select a site that’s good for everybody in the parish."

Alliance members believe the reservoir is benefiting Thompson and Terry Denmon, project engineer.

The Allen Parish Reservoir Commission is obligated to pay Denmon $794,035 for engineering, auditing, administrative consulting and technical assistance related to professional services.

The commission also agreed to pay Thompson $75,000 a year for his services. He’ll be paid for the duration of the Allen project, along with others he’s helping develop.

Alliance members believe the money can be better spent in a state that finishes last in everything but political corruption.

"I can’t understand why the government would commit millions of dollars to this issue when those millions of dollars could be better spent," said alliance president Charles Horton.

"You give this parish the money you’ve committed to Thompson and Denmon this last year and let us solve some of the problems that face us today."

Alliance members also question conflicts of interest with Denmon and Rep. Thompson.

Both serve on the Aquaculture Advisory Council of Louisiana, and Denmon sits on the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission for the state.

Denmon’s position on the commission is worrisome to the alliance because that panel would have an influence if Ten and Six Mile creeks are removed from the scenic river system to accommodate the proposed lake.

"I am amazed that the governor would have a commissioner who directly impacts this," Horton said. "Denmon can’t tell me he’s never talked about his projects to other commissioners. That would be a question I would pose to the legislative auditor."

Besides the Allen project, Denmon and Michael Thompson work together on lake projects.

The two were also co-owners of Bayou Cajun Foods in 1994, according to records obtained through the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office.

Those same records show that Bayou Cajun Foods is no longer in business.

Thompson has or continues to be affiliated with several other entities, including the Water Resource Group, Louisiana Purchase Land and Title Company, Richland Land Company, Delhi Industrial Group and South Delta Resource Company.

He said he doesn’t see political connections as alliance members do.

"This is not about me or Terry Denmon or conflicts of interest. I know of no conflicts of interest," he said.

Alliance member Margie Turner is one of several members who has asked Thompson who supplied the money for the reservoirs statewide. She said the only answer she’s received is that the money is from Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development funds.

"If it comes from DOTD funds, where were they put in there from?" she asked.

Turner believes the lake decision would have been made much sooner if the residents of Ten and Six Mile had remained quiet.

"Until we started raising a ruckus about Ten Mile, it was Ten Mile," Turner said.

Some in the alliance first learned of the reservoir through newspaper articles. The Allen Parish Reservoir District only recently began publishing its minutes at the alliance’s urging.

"We couldn’t get information that was affecting our community. No matter where we went, we weren’t finding information until we got our dander up and hackles raised," Perkins said.

He said he believes that "higher-ups" felt the Allen Parish reservoir would be an easy project to make easy profits at the sacrifice of residents.

"I really believe in my heart of all hearts they thought that they’d come in here and push this down our throats because they think we’re nothing but a bunch of hicks out here," he said.

Turner agreed.

"I’ll believe that until my dying day," she said.

Army corps to make recommendation on reservoir site

Residents living on proposed site, lawmakers want project abandoned

Sep 8, 2004 Metro-State Page 11

MITTIE — Residents of two rural Allen Parish communities will have to wait until later this month to learn the fate of their homes.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will make its final recommendation in two or three weeks on the site of the proposed Allen Parish Reservoir, said state Sen. Don Hines, D-Bunkie.

Hines and state Rep. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi, wrote the reservoir legislation in April 2002. The bill was sponsored by state Rep. Herman Ray Hill, D-Dry Creek.

Hines, the Senate president, said that when he was elected in 1993, Allen Parish residents favored a reservoir, but that no one considered the displacement of homes — a certainty if the Six Mile and Ten Mile communities are selected as the site.

Mill Creek, located in the center of the West Bay Game Preserve, is the only site where homes would not be compromised.

Hines and Hill are urging the Allen Parish Reservoir Commission not to approve a site that will claim scenic rivers or homes. The two lawmakers plan to meet with the commission chairman, Phil Beard, on Thursday to voice their concerns on the proposed sites.

‘‘I think if they (Corps of Engineers) recommend anything other than Mill Creek, we should abandon the project even though we’ve spent quite a bit of money doing environmental impact studies,’’ Hines said Friday.

Hines’ words come as a relief to members of the Community Preservation Alliance — a group of residents opposed to the lake’s placement in the two communities.

For months, residents have cast a watchful eye on the issue, researching legislation, political affiliations and reservoir projects across the state to learn how the idea of a reservoir in their back yards was birthed.

In their quest to know more, alliance members believe they’ve found potential wrongdoing — ranging from suspicious legislation to inappropriate political connections — linked to the development of state reservoir projects.

They hope the information will prompt Gov. Kathleen Blanco to call for an investigation into the alleged political corruption.

The alliance believes reservoirs are being built statewide at the expense of taxpayers, and are not economic development vehicles or means for safeguarding the future of the state’s water supply as some claim.

Members believe the projects financially benefit a few of the state’s politically connected residents.

‘‘I think it’s worthy of an internal (state) investigation within the state,’’ said alliance president Charles Horton.

The history

After legislation was approved to create the Allen Parish Reservoir District, Gov. Mike Foster appointed five lake commissioners: Buddy Farris of Oakdale, Roland Hollins of Mittie, Gary Pelican of Kinder, Billy Reeves of Reeves and Phil Beard of Oberlin, chairman.

Farris and Hollins are Allen Parish police jurors, Reeves is a former police juror and Beard is Oberlin mayor.

Commissioners were given the authority to select a lake site, contingent on environmental opinions from the Corps of Engineers.

Michael Thompson, former Delhi mayor and a member of Blanco’s transition team, was hired as project consultant. He’s the brother of state Rep. Francis Thompson, who wrote several reservoir-related legislative measures, including Allen Parish’s.

Denmon Engineering of Monroe was selected as the project’s engineering firm. The company has also worked on the Poverty Point Reservoir, Bayou DeChene Reservoir in Caldwell Parish, Castor Creek Reservoir in Rapides Parish and the West Ouachita Reservoir in Ouachita Parish.

For months, the commission has been waiting on the opinion from the corps to make the final announcement.

The alliance hopes its communities are not selected. But if the decision goes against them, they are prepared.

‘‘We are going to try to do it like professionals and then when it gets unprofessional, we’re going to drop the hammer,’’ said member Bob Simmons.

Legislative oddities

Questions about the reservoir project’s legislative history are being raised by the alliance, which believes the opinions and livelihood of voters and taxpayers were never considered.

In the original Allen Parish legislation, a section provides for the expropriation of land. Taxes can also be levied for the project after the lake is built.

The lake district can acquire by ‘‘purchase, donation, expropriation, or otherwise every type and species of property, including servitudes and rights-of-use necessary to its purpose, and may lease, build, operate and maintain any works or machinery designed to accomplish the purposes of the district.’’

Alliance member James Moore thinks this is tantamount to stealing.

‘‘Expropriation means to take without asking,’’ he said. ‘‘It is more or less stealing.’’

Horton agrees. He said government has always used expropriation in the building of roadways, but in a case where scenic waterways — Six and Ten Mile creeks — would be destroyed, along with homes and lives, he doesn’t see the logic.

‘‘This would not be out of necessity, it would be for pleasure,’’ Horton said. ‘‘It makes absolutely no sense to me.’’

Other legislation that the group finds troubling has little to do with Allen Parish, however. Concerns have been raised over provisions made for Richland Parish’s Poverty Point, a project for which Michael Thompson also consults.

The Poverty Point project began in 1992 and is now touted as a model lake.

Legislation passed in 2001, sponsored by state Rep. Thompson, makes it possible to sell land taken by eminent domain to a third party without offering it back to the original owner.

Moore felt so strongly about these issues that he recently wrote Blanco formally questioning the legislation.

‘‘The misuse of eminent domain and expropriation, and the large amounts of money available for economic development, hundreds of millions of dollars per lake, may be leading to wrongdoing,’’ he wrote.

‘‘The state of Louisiana seems to be in the real estate business and able to offer great deals on lakefront property complete with golf courses, recreation areas and keyed gate entry lakefront homes.’’

The alliance also questions the connection between Michael Thompson and his legislator brother, who was involved in reservoir lawmaking.

Thompson denies that he has used his brother’s position to benefit himself.

‘‘That’s like saying, because your brother is a doctor, you get free prescriptions," Thompson said last week. "There’s not much of a basis for that."

Questions remain

Alliance members say they are thankful legislators worked to get the Six and Ten Mile streams listed on the scenic river system years ago — which has given some protection to the sites.

But they question why engineering studies were ever performed on the creeks since they are protected waterways.

‘‘Why are we spending the state’s money doing studies and surveys on two locations where they can’t build anyway, other than the fact that we are lining some people’s pockets?" Horton said.

Alliance members’ aims are to raise public awareness on the issue and get answers to questions they say have been ignored.

They are relying on local legislators to work with the commission to resolve the issues. Also, members don’t believe that Hines and Hill were given the full scope of the project when it was first introduced.

‘‘Initially, if I was a politician and you told me you were going to spend $25 to $40 million dollars in my parish, I would have been gung-ho for it. I don’t fault them for that,’’ Horton said.

Alliance members say they won’t rest easy until they know exactly where their communities stand.

‘‘I’d much would rather be at home watching LSU," Simmons said.

‘‘I’d rather be doing anything than fighting this, but I’m willing to sacrifice and work hard to see that our mission is accomplished.’’