[StBernard] Neighborhood unites to help guide future

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Fri May 2 09:05:54 EDT 2008

Neighborhood unites to help guide future
Thursday, May 01, 2008By Annette Campo
Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian spiritual and political leader, said, "You must
be the change you wish to see in the world."

That thought moves to action in Chalmette with the founders of the District
B neighborhood association.

Erika Hymel-Watson and Drena "Chris" Walker formed the Pakenham Oaks
Neighborhood Association, or PONA.

"This is our chance to have some input in the future of our community,"
Hymel-Watson said. "The purpose of this group is to take an active voice in
local politics and the way our neighborhood will evolve during the
post-Katrina decade."

Along with beautification projects, the organization hopes to create a
neighborhood watch program, "so that each of our surrounding neighbors would
feel secure knowing they would come in and out with a measure of safety,"
Hymel-Watson said.

Hymel-Watson and her husband, Archie Watson, are renovating their Fazzio
Road home that was damaged in Hurricane Katrina.

"We take pride in everything we are doing with our house and want to make
sure it is done correctly, even if it is done slowly, to best benefit our
children, as well as ourselves," she said.

According to Hymel-Watson, PONA will concentrate on a section within
District B from Pakenham Avenue to Paris Road, and Judge Perez Drive to St.
Bernard Highway.

"The most rewarding part will be the pride we have in ourselves and our
community when others see how fast a united community can rebuild an area.
We hope to demonstrate that with each of our surrounding neighbors' help, we
can and will have a family-oriented neighborhood," she said.

PONA will hold its first meeting today at 7 p.m. in the Parish Council
trailer at the St. Bernard Parish government complex, 8201 W. Judge Perez
Drive, Chalmette.

The meeting agenda will include the election of officers, insights to the
neighborhood by Parish Councilman George Cavignac, an opportunity to voice
community concerns, and information on the Neighborhood Watch Program.

For more information about the group, call Hymel-Watson at (504) 272-0960 or
Walker at (504) 684-3882.

Hymel-Watson said she believes the parish will return to the way it was when
she was growing up.

"We can't go to the past; however, we can incorporate the past into our
future," she said.

. . . . . . .

Annette Campo lives in Chalmette and writes about people and events in
Chalmette. She can be reached at (504)250-6248 or Chalnettie at gmail.com.

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