Police jury approves funds for development

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 28, 2003

VIDALIA &045; As the old saying goes, you’ve got to spend money to make money.

The Concordia Parish Police Jury was counting on that Monday when it voted to appropriate $15,000 to the Concordia Industrial and Economic Development District.

That vote was made contingent upon approval of the jury’s secretary and finance committee, provided that funds are available.

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Recent economic woes have forced both Adams County and Concordia Parish to seek different ways to attract and keep both small businesses and industries.

International Paper’s Thursday announcement that its Natchez mill would close &045; leaving 640, including more than 100 Concordians, out of work &045; is just the most recent in a string of layoffs.

But the economic downturn has been going on for longer than that, said police juror Charlie Blaney, whose own industry, oil production, has been in a slump for years.

&uot;This lady (district Executive Director Teresa Dennis) will put some people to work,&uot; Blaney said.

As seed money for the recently revamped industrial and economic district, local officials have requested $55,000 in state grants through state Rep. Bryant Hammett, D-Ferriday.

But it would take several months to get that money in place, said Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland, vice chairman of the district. Therefore, the towns of Vidalia and Ferriday have appropriated $10,000 each to help fund the district’s work.

&uot;Hopefully, this (request) is just a one-time thing,&uot; Copeland said.

Meanwhile, there are positive signs for economic development in Concordia Parish, Dennis said. Those include a recent trip by local officials to Chattanooga, Tenn., to study riverfront development.

In addition, Dennis has coordinated a seminar to inform the public on the benefits of the parish’s designation as a Renewal Community by the federal government.

That seminar is scheduled for 6 p.m. today at Imogene’s Restaurant in Ferriday. As of Monday night, more than 90 people had signed up, Dennis said.

Meanwhile, the police jury voted to wait to pay its $3,300 annual dues to the multi-parish Macon Ridge Economic Development Region until it is determined that the jury has enough funds.

In other business, Lloyd Love, attorney for the board of Ferriday-based Recreation District No. 1, told the jury that it needs to adopt a new resolution making the Rec Board a seven-member board.

In 1998, the jury appointed an additional two members to the five-member board because the state gave it the authority to do so. But that was done without the jury passing an ordinance to officially make the board a seven-member body.

That, in turn, has thrown local efforts to establish a YMCA into question because, even when board action is taken, there is a question about which of the board’s members are legal members, Love said.

Therefore, on Monday the jury voted to send the question to the District Attorney’s office, which asks as counsel for the police jury.

Meanwhile, juror Gene Allen asked Love what has been done with $25,000 of public money that was given to the YMCA effort.

Love said the money is sitting in his clients account &045; earning interest that goes to the state Bar Association &045; until questions such as the legality of rec board members are resolved.