Wednesday, April 17, 2019
St. John the Baptist Parish - Parish President Natalie Robottom, Administrative staff and Council Members Sorapuru, Becnel, Madere, Snyder and Perrilloux joined a host of residents and community stakeholders in Edgard to commemorate the naming of the Juan Anthony Joseph Memorial Park, De’Vante Michael Smith Memorial Baseball Fields, Raeaneka Lanae Small Memorial Airnasium and Harold Scott Roussel Memorial Park on Wednesday, April 17, 2019.
Council Members Kurt Becnel and Larry Sorapuru spearheaded the naming efforts to pay tribute to those devoted and loved members of the West Bank community by naming the fields and airnasium at the Westbank Recreational Complex. Assessor Lucien Guaff, who previously served on the Parish Council, initially proposed the Juan Anthony Joseph Park naming and was instrumental in the other efforts. It was also brought to the attention of this Administration that a sign was never erected at the Harold Scott Roussel Park (officially renamed in 1999). Subsequently, a sign was installed and unveiled at the park on Castle Drive.
De’Vante and Raeaneka, cousins, were riding a dirt bike together on July 15, 2003, when they were struck and killed by a motorist as they crossed Highway 18. The newly named baseball fields honor Devante’s love of sports and baseball. Raeaneka Small, according to family and friends, also loved sports, and was very caring with everyone she met. The airnasium will remind us of her affectionate and loving spirit.
Juan Anthony Joseph, explementary student and former West St. John and Millsaps College football standout returned to Edgard to coach and serve his community. His life was taken while diffusing an altercation in Baton Rouge in 2014. Juan’s unwavering love and service to St. John Parish, recreation and youth will always be remembered.
Harold Scott Roussel Sr., was a community organizer, youth supporter and champion of employee rights. He served on the Civil Service Board, was the first black poll commissioner in St. John and wrote his own grant to secure funding to launch a summer feeding program in the 1960s. He was always writing local officials to help better the community. His lifetime of service speaks for itself.
“I am honored to play a role in keeping the memories of these great individuals alive, all of whom were important and contributing members of our community,” said Parish President Robottom. “The park dedication ceremonies are intended to preserve their memories for many years to come, serving as a source of strength for their families.”