Long time secretary to parish president retires


West Side Journal

PORT ALLEN, La. (West Side Journal) – Parish President Riley “PeeWee” Berthelot, Jr. has served four terms as Parish President and has had the same secretary until now. Bernadette Settoon worked her last day Friday, May 28, 2021 after 17 years with the Parish President.

She said retirement felt “strange. I’ve been with Mr. Berthelot since 2004.” Settoon added, “He’s been a great administrator to work for.” 

Riley Berthelot said, “When I took office, she was the first person I hired. We are both kind of ‘old school’”, as far as technology goes, they were both new to some things, “but she got through, learned a lot, went to school—just an awesome employee.”

Before working in the government office, Settoon has worked in administrative roles at construction and electrical businesses. At retirement she plans to spend more time with family.

“My oldest son has children; my grandchildren, one of them will be 15 in June, so he’s 14 and my granddaughter is 12, but my youngest son had his first child in March of this year. He had a little boy,” she said.

She’ll be caring for the newest edition while his mom works, “I feel like it’s a great opportunity. When my older grandchildren were young, it wasn’t the right timing for me to quit working and stay home. Now, like I said, I’m full retirement age so I just felt I didn’t want to miss the opportunity.”

Berthelot said originally Settoon was to stay until his retirement in two years time, but the plan changed when her youngest son and his wife were able to have a child. “She wanted to be the nanny. I don’t fault her for that—she deserves to be happy,” Berthelot said.

“To live in a parish that really cares so much about the needs of the people around and what’s going on with the parish,” Settoon said. “Berthelot’s been a very hands-on type of parish president.

“Whether it was hurricanes we prepare for or something we’re celebrating— like the Saints’ parade whenever we went to the Super Bowl—you know, there were a lot of different things in the community that we’ve been involved with,” she continued. “The Memorial Day ceremonies and Veterans’ Day, which right now with COVID we haven’t started those back up yet, but he’s [Berthelot] always been very involved […] for the good of West Baton Rouge Parish and I’ve been very happy to work in an environment like that.”

“She has her foot on the gas until the eleventh hour,” said Berthelot referring to Settoon still answering the phones and working hard Friday. “She’s a person who will do anything, nothing was off the table. Angry constituents would call, who maybe hadn’t had their trash picked up, and she would take the time to talk to them and calm them […she] solves issues before they reach my desk.” 

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The West Side Journal, located in Port Allen, Louisiana serves as the official journal of West Baton Rouge Parish. The newspaper’s roots run deep in the West Baton Rouge community, as the earliest dates of publication reach back to the mid-1800s.

The current editor is Breanna Smith, an alumna of Louisiana State University's Manship School of Mass Communication and native of Baton Rouge. Contributing writers to the Journal are members of the West Side community.

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