Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, talks with Concordia Parish Tax Assessor Jerry Clark, left, Monday morning in the Vidalia City Council Chambers.
Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, talks with Concordia Parish Tax Assessor Jerry Clark, left, Monday morning in the Vidalia City Council Chambers.

Vidalia priorities reach Sen. Vitter

Published 12:04am Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Vidalia — Ensuring the City of Vidalia completes its port project was a priority U.S. Sen. David Vitter assured Concordia Parish residents was on the top of his list.

Vitter, R-Louisiana, appeared before a crowd of residents Monday morning gathered at Vidalia City Hall for a town hall meeting where he discussed a variety of issues including health care, education and fighting against food stamp fraud.

But the main purpose of the meeting, Vitter said, wasn’t for residents to hear him speak, but for the senator to hear from the residents.

“It’s just a great chance to hear from folks about exactly what’s on their mind and what they want me to be focused on,” Vitter said after the meeting. “I’ve done these general town hall meetings in every parish of Louisiana every congress, so I’ve done over 350 as a U.S. senator, and they’re just great.”

Vitter said it didn’t take long to hear what residents in Concordia Parish wanted him to focus on while in Washington, D.C.

“There was certainly a good discussion on all sorts of issues, but the local projects included the Vidalia Port project, which I’ve been actively partnering with the city on,” Vitter said. “There were some national issues including spending and health care and just a lot of good overall discussions.”

The 40-acre port facility will be a slack-water port located off Louisiana 131 and is pivotal to attracting new industry to the area, Concordia Economic Development Director Heather Malone said.

The project will also be a perfect complement to the 240-acre industrial park and provide great opportunities for Concordia Parish, Malone said.

“One of our residents stood up and mentioned the Vidalia Port project, how it was an important project for industrial growth in rural communities and wanted (Vitter) to keep rural communities in mind when he’s making decisions,” Malone said. “I had a very big smile on my face when that community member brought it up because that tells you how important this project is for the area and people are wanting us to continue the work to bring this project to fruition.”

Malone said she and other Concordia Parish officials discussed the project with Vitter and other congressional leaders during a recent trip to Washington.

The project, Malone said, is one that is quickly being associated with the City of Vidalia.

“It’s nice to know that we’ve done our jobs well in promoting that project because it is the first thing that comes out of their mouth when they come here or we visit them,” Malone said.

“It was great to know that (Vitter) said he would continue assisting with the project.”

Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said the meeting was a great example of what happens when congressional leaders take time to stop and listen to their constituents.

“It just goes to show you what can happen when a U.S. senator comes to Vidalia and the community comes out to listen and tell him what the issues are,” Copeland said. “The people had some questions to ask the senator and everyone interacted well together on all the issues, so I think it was a great meeting.”

Vitter continued his town hall meetings Monday in Madison and Richland parishes and will continue again today in Jackson Parish.