Residents Welcome Fares for New Orleans Ferries

With an unexpected show of support, residents of Algiers and New Orleans celebrated a decision by the New Orleans City Council to start charging fares for the ferry service from Algiers to New Orleans and Algiers to Chalmette.  Since voters re-voted to rid the Crescent City Connection of toll charges back in May, funding for the ferry boats was turned over to the State Department of Transportation. However, because of a bill signed into law by Governor Jindal in June, 2012, money from the CCC’s tolls were not allowed to be used to fund the ferrys anymore making the voter’s decision a moot point.  This was a death knell for the extended ferry hours enjoyed by residents on both sides of the river.  Ferry hours were slashed, leaving workers, residents, socializers stuck without transportation after 7pm at night in July of this year.


Galvanized, West Bank residents held several meetings, and while they were doing that the responsibility of the ferry operations changed hands again when it was transferred to the Regional Transit Authority (RTA).  RTA turned around and “sold” the ferry services to Veolia Transportation Services, the French company that already runs the city’s bus and streetcar lines.  One resident in Algiers said that they actually were “begging for the city to take their money.”  Also, Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer, whose district includes Algiers said, “This is not a choice of fares or no fares. This is a choice of ferries or no ferries. It’s as simple as that.”  The residents of Algiers strong opposed the restricted hours, and the businesses on both the West Bank and the Southshore suffered a reduction in business because of the reduced ferry traffic.

Deciding that something had to be done, the New Orleans City Council voted unanimously Thursday to increase the fares for Mississippi River crossings between Algiers and either downtown New Orleans or Chalmette. Most passengers will have to shell out $2 each way starting Oct. 1.  The pedestrian and vehicle ferry fees are designed to cover the shortfall of $2.8 million in funding that is needed to keep all ferry operations afloat.  The other $6 million required to run the services is provided by federal and state subsidies.  So, while the ferry fares are new and unfamiliar to some residents and tourists, those who live on the West Bank and work in New Orleans (or vice versa), welcome the opportunity to see the ferries running again 18 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The charges for the two ferry lines will be as follows:

Algiers Point – Canal Street line

• $2 each way, $4 round trip, for every walk-on ferry passenger, car driver, car passenger and cyclist. No extra charge for bicycles.

• $1 each way, $2 round trip, for each passenger who is disabled, a senior citizen or a Medicare patient.

• $7 for a daily pass for combined ferry, bus and streetcar services.

• $30 for a five-day pass for combined ferry, bus and streetcar services.

• $105 for a monthly pass for combined ferry, bus and streetcar services.

• $18 for a five-day pass for ferry service only.

• $65 for a monthly pass for ferry service only (reduced from an initial proposal of $75).

• No charge for children 2 years old or younger.

• Special, to-be-determined rates could apply during major events, such as French Quarter Fest or the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

Lower Algiers – Chalmette line

• $2 each way, $4 round trip, for every walk-on ferry passenger and car driver.

• $1 each way, $2 round trip, for every walk-on passenger who is disabled, a senior citizen or a Medicare patient.

• $1 each way for every passenger in a vehicle beyond the driver.

• No charge for car passengers who are disabled, senior citizens or Medicare patients.

• $3 each way for a trailer.


Click Here for the Source of the Information.


Five Ways to Think About the Rising Interest Rates

For those home buyers who have purchased a home before, navigating through the mortgage approval process once you have found your home for sale is a little bit easier than for someone who has never purchased a home before.  However, figuring out what the real estate market will do and when and how to buy a home at the right time, the right price, with the best interest rate has been a little like spinning the roulette wheel at the casino over the past 4.5 years.  Home buyers and refinancing homeowners have enjoyed phenomenal interest rates since the interest rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage dropped to 3.3% early in 2013.  This also pushed 10 and 15-year mortgages to as low as 2.5%.  Now there is fear because interest rates have risen by over a percentage point in 3 short months.  So, in order to give you all of the information you will need to make the best choice for you and your family in the home buying or refinancing process, below are 5 practical facts about interest rates, where they’re headed over the next year, and how to optimize your experience in today’s real estate market if you have not already had a chance to capitalize on these interest rates.

1. The Fed bond-buying program, especially the buying of mortgage securities, has kept interest rates at 100-year lows over the past 1.5 years.  Because of the stabilizing economy and the federal deficit, “all good things must come to an end.”  In other words, the Fed cannot continue to keep purchasing these bonds.  The buying must stop, and the economy must learn to survive on its own.  So, the 3.3% on a 30-year fixed will most likely be a thing of the past with perhaps, maybe a drop back down to this rate here and there in certain market conditions.  However, you, as a home buyer, must mentally allow yourself to still enjoy the current interest rate.  Right now, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage is around 4.5%.  Predictions state that it is not expected to rise above 5% at least until the end of 2014.  So, interest rates are still historically low, and they will make a home payment affordable.

2. If you purchased your home even in 2005, you may have enjoyed an interest rate of approximately 5.75%, so refinancing your home and incurring closing costs may not be the right move as interest rates go up.  However, if you are a homeowner who had a home which lost its value in the crash, you should definitely talk to your Realtor as to the current value of your home.  Home values have been on a steady rise, and most markets are reporting home pricing gains each month.  At least 850,000 homes gained back their value because of a stabilizing real estate market in the first quarter of this year.  So, refinancing this type of loan at these interest rates would still be a good idea.

3. Don’t panic just yet that rising interest rates will bring the housing recovery to a screeching halt.  While not ideal for either home buyers or builders, interest rates have to rise in order for the Fed to “stop the bleeding” of the government theoretically “bailing out” the housing industry by buying bonds.  It would take a rise of about 3% to see the housing market negatively impacted by rising interest rates.  Refinances and purchases may slow down slightly as the rate climbs, but once it stabilizes over a period of months, then people interested in buying a new or previously-owned home will have the confidence needed to do so.  At best, home buyers should take advantage of the rates now and go ahead and “take the plunge” to buy a home before rates go back up.

4. If you don’t know anything about financing a home, then you will want to make sure to ask your banker or lender about locking in your interest rate.  Typically, there is no charge to lock in at 45 or 60 days.  Refinancing a home used to take 6 – 12 weeks because of all of the new government regulations on loans, but that time period has been drastically reduced as banks and lenders have grown comfortable with the new system.  If the institution you are using to get your mortgage takes a long time to process loans, you should find out what the charge would be to lock in for a longer period of time – 90 – 120 days.  Have your loan officer crunch the numbers to see if it is in your best interest to pay for a rate lock to save money in interest over the life of the loan.  This is a service they should provide you.

5. Loan packages since the Recession have been greatly simplified because the interest free / pay later type of loans no longer exist.  However, there are still fixed-rate loans and the ARM (Adjustable Rate Mortgage) out there you will need to choose between.  If you have never had an ARM, or if this is the first time you are buying a home, the main thing to think about when it comes to getting the lower interest rate which an ARM offers is how long you are planning to own the home.  If your purchase is temporary because of your job or because you know you will be “upgrading” in a few years, then the shorter time period you plan on owning your home, the better idea it is to get an ARM.  ARM’s typically have a much lower interest rate and only allow an increase of 1% each year, while not letting the rate go higher than a stated high interest rate or “cap.”  Also, if rates go down, then so does your interest rate in some cases.  However, when you reach your “cap,” and you are still in your home at a higher interest rate, that is how you lose money and pay more interest with an ARM.  So, when choosing the loan which is right for you, consider the amount of time you will be staying.  If you plan on staying “forever,” you will want to go with a fixed-rate loan.

Be smart about interest rates, don’t panic; the housing market will still thrive at current market rates for quite some time.


Click Here for the Source of the Information.

Great Granddaughter of City Founder Attends 100-Year Celebration

The great granddaughter of one of Gretna’s city founders John Ehret celebrated the city’s 100-Year-Old birthday party at city hall in Gretna on gretna-celebrates-100-yearsAugust 20, 2013.  This event was a culmination of the birthday celebration which began with Gretna Heritage Day on August 17, 2013.  The event, which began at 11am at Gretna City Hall and ended with a 100th Birthday Commemoration at Mel Ott Multipurpose Center on Belle Chasse Highway at 6pm in the evening, featured many different people dressed up as the founding fathers such as Thomas Jefferson as well as costumes of the times.

“We have very deep roots,” said Jackie Majeste, the great-granddaughter of Ehret. “Even though the city has changed, it still has a small town feeling. Many of them (residents) are related and still very active.”  Majeste is not the only descendent of John Ehret, there are reportedly 48 other cousins living in the Greater New Orleans area that can trace their roots back to this particular Gretna city founder.

The city of Gretna was founded August 20, 1913 because of a desire of its residents to incorporate and break away from Jefferson Parish Ehret is credited with acquiring the necessary public services for the city once it became incorporated, getting gas, water, and electric services to the entire city within just 2 short years.  For such a small town, the citizens have many historical events of which to reminisce.  One was a visit by Huey P. Long himself during the gubernatorial race in 1928.  One of the campaign promises of which he made good was the promise to pave the streets of the small city.  Copernicus Street was renamed Huey P. Long Avenue in his honor.

The ferry in Gretna is currently in the middle of controversy since the decrease of funding from the Crescent City Connection has all but eliminated the finances needed to run the 3 ferry lines from the West Bank to New Orleans.  Residents reminisce that the ferry was in existence long before the Crescent City Connection was even built.  Therefore, it is bittersweet to be losing the ferry to keep the bridge as the ferry is a definite part of the city’s history.  Gretna has many historical homes and builders, and Councilman Joe Marino, whose district includes City Hall, pledged to preserve Gretna’s historic houses and structures. “I’m very proud of this district. It’s the historic district in the center of our city,” he said. “We’re going to do our part to make sure we keep Gretna’s history alive.”


Click Here for the Source of the Information.

German Oktoberfest

KC hall
475 Franklin St.
Gretna, LA 70053

Saturday, September 28, 2013
7PM – 11PM
Doors Open at 6:30PM

Adults: $20
Children 3-10: $5

Music By: Ira Milan Polka Band & DJ Tom Verret

Food, Drinks, Beer, Wine, & Schnapps Available!

Call 504-432-7618 or Click Here For More Information.

Guided Cemetary Tour in Gretna, Louisiana

Gretna Historical Society Presents:

“Hook & Ladder Cemetery Tour”

Red Maple Banquet Room
1036 Lafayette Street
Gretna, LA 70053

October 19, 2013

First tour 6 PM – Last Tour 9 PM
Tour times every 15 minutes. Space is limited for each tour.

Click Here for More Information.