QUESTION: Can you tell us who is responsible for policing the handicapped spaces near the Vietnam Wall and handicapped ramp at Teague Park? We attempted to take a handicapped Vietnam veteran there to see the wall but were unable because all the spaces were occupied by vehicles without either handicapped plates or placards. We had to leave without showing the fine work of the Veterans who built the wall. I’ve since learned of several others who have faced the same situation there.
ANSWER: I’m sorry that happened. The Longview Police Department is responsible for enforcing violations of the dedicated parking spots for disabled people.
Longview police spokesman Brandon Thornton explained to me that the department has a trained group of volunteers who typically assist with enforcement in this area — the Accessible Parking Enforcement Program. However, that group does consist largely of seniors, and that means that group hasn’t been as active as normal because of concerns about the spread of COVID-19. (Talk to just about any organization in town that relies on volunteers and you’ll likely here the same thing — our seniors do a great deal of volunteer work in the community, and we’re feeling their absence while they try to stay well.)
Police officers respond to these types of calls as well. Report issues by calling the non-emergency police department number at (903) 237-1170. Please understand that the department uses a priority system when it dispatches officers, so, depending on what’s going on, an officer might or might not be able to respond immediately. (Just as an example, calls in which a person is being threatened with a weapon would get priority.)
Thornton also told me he communicated your concerns with the police area representative for that area, which means that officer, who focuses on community policing efforts, can help monitor the situation there as well.
Q: Can you shed any light on the interesting construction project at the corner of Arrow Lane and Dundee Road?
A: I can!
St. Matthew Catholic Church, right next to that construction site, is building a “columbarium” and prayer garden. That word, “columbarium,” is only in my vocabulary because I’ve written about this topic a coupe of times in recent years. A columbarium is, as information from the church describes it, “a group of niches, typically within a wall, or other structure of brick, stone, granite, marble or other materials, that contains the cremated remains of the departed in a ‘worthy vessel.’ ”
The Rev. Xavier Pappu, who leads the church, told me the church had looked into the possibility of starting a Catholic cemetery several years ago, but found laws preventing that from happening. A columbarium would be the only thing allowed close to the church, he said. Groundbreaking took place in December, and the first phase should be completed this fall. The first phase will consist of three structures, with 94 niches each, information from the church says. Each niche can hold two urns. Designs provided for future expansions of the columbarium.
Q: Can you tell me which restaurants in Longview have closed because of the pandemic, and specifically, is Red Lobster open?
A: I’m sorry that I don’t have a list of restaurants that might have closed because of the pandemic, but Red Lobster is open.