Parish leaders prep for D.C. trip

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 21, 2010

VIDALIA — Local leaders fine-tuned their talking points for an upcoming trip to Washington D.C., at the Wednesday meeting of the Concordia Parish Economic and Industrial Development District board.

The trip will be from Feb. 8-11, and will coincide with the yearly El Camino Corridor Commission conference in Washington, D.C., and leaders will use the opportunity to lobby for local projects while there, CPEIDD Director Heather Malone said.

“We have 10 or 11 people from Concordia Parish who are going to represent us, and I have asked what they want to put o the agenda for us to discuss when we meet with our local delegation,” Malone said.

The El Camino Corridor Commission gathers leaders from five states, who all lobby to have the four-laning of U.S. 84 from Georgia to Texas completed.

“It will be a huge benefit to our area to have the four-laning of Louisiana completed,” Malone said.

Other topics the group will take to Washington, D.C., include Concordia Parish drainage, Ferriday water, housing needs and the Vidalia port.

Ferriday Mayor Glen McGlothin said he doesn’t plan to hold back when asking for federal aid to fix the water system.

“I am going to get on one knee and plead this time,” he said.

While he said some things need to be ironed out with the U.S. Department of Agriculture before Ferriday can get a grant for the water system, McGlothin said it’s time someone paid attention to Ferriday.

“The very thing they are building in Afghanistan and Iraq, I am asking for — drinking water,” he said.

“I have already put $300,000 in a 20-year-old water plant that isn’t going to last a year.”

Several businesses in the town have been affected by the water problems, McGlothin said, and he knows of a couple that are waiting for good water to open.

“When the perception is the water is bad, it hurts you,” he said.

When Malone said the group would also discuss housing needs in the area, Clayton Mayor Rydell Turner said he would like to see more single-family homes built in his area.

“We get a lot of calls about people who want to move there and asking about housing, but there is nothing developing,” he said.

Now that the Vidalia port has gotten its initial funding, Malone said the group will continue to seek more to see the project all the way through.

“We are going to go back and talk about the remaining phases we have and try to figure out the next pot of gold we need to find,” she said.

When board member Richard Young Chairman said business leaders from Adams County had told him the port would be a good thing for them, Malone said she had been told similar things.

McGlothin said everyone needs to move beyond any hang-ups about the name of the facility.

“The port will save the parish,” he said. “Let’s everybody quit worrying about it being Vidalia. Vidalia is on the river. If Ferriday was on the river, it would be called the Ferriday port.”

The parish has already gotten some funding to begin addressing its drainage issues, and has requested capital outlay dollars from the state, Malone said.

“We will talk with our Congressional delegation in Washington to see if there is any funding we can get through appropriations,” she said.