Parish mayors head to D.C.

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 7, 2010

VIDALIA — Monday, three of Concordia Parish’s four mayors are going to be a little harder to reach, because they won’t be in Concordia Parish.

Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland, Ferriday Mayor Glen McGlothin and Clayton Mayor Rydell Turner — along with several others — will be in Washington, D.C., Monday through Thursday.

“The primary goal of this trip is to discuss the U.S. 84 projects with our congressional delegation,” Copeland said. “It’s a trip we take annually to discuss some of the issues in our community.”

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The trip coincides with the annual El-Camino Corridor Five State Commission conference in Washington. The goal of the commission is to get U.S. 84 four-laned along the length of the El-Camino corridor, which runs from Georgia to Texas.

While local leaders are in the capital, they will take advantage of being there and with the area’s congressional delegation to discuss local issues as well.

“We spend a little bit of money each year to go to Washington, D.C., and this past year we can look back and say ‘We gained $1.5 million for the port,’” said Concordia Parish Economic and Industrial Development Director Heather Malone, who is also going on the trip. “For me, that is worth a trip or two to D.C., every year.”

Continued trips to the capital help lay the groundwork for finding future funding sources, Malone said.

“The relationships you create you can’t create over the phone when you are meeting senators and congressmen, as well as the staff who are working on your project,” she said.

“I have been fortunate to create very good relationships with the staff from each of those offices and feel comfortable calling on them, but in the meantime it is important to maintain those relationships.”

Meeting with the congressional delegation has yielded fruitful results in the past.

“The end results through our past meetings through the years was obtaining funding sources (for past projects),” Copeland said.

“They know who you are by seeing you and talking to you, and we have come on first name basis with our congressional delegation.”

When not discussing the U.S. 84 project, Copeland said he and City Manager Ken Walker will be discussing housing issues in Vidalia, and others will discuss issues pertinent to the new municipal complex, especially possible grants available for the new fire and police stations.

The group from Vidalia will also include H.L. Irvin and Sherri Rabb, who will work with the El-Camino commission, and Alderman Triand “Tron” McCoy.

The delegation from Ferriday will include McGlothin and Tommy Polk.

The main issue McGlothin said he will pursue outside of the U.S. 84 project will be funding for a new water system, and part of the trip will be used to meet with federal officials to work out a solution about a $102,000 debt the town owes for a grant project that was not completed.

“Our congressman figured it would better to see them eyeball to eyeball, so I decided to do it,” McGlothin said.

He will also discuss funding for housing rehabilitation programs, McGlothin said.

CPEIDD Chairman Richard Young will accompany Malone, and the two will lobby for quality-of-life projects around the parish.

“At the top of our list will be Ferriday water,” she said. “We will also seek some funding to start a drainage project in the parish.”

Turner is going on the trip to discuss housing needs, Malone said.