Former Vidalia visitor center gets new tenant in LSU Ag Center

Published 12:01 am Friday, July 6, 2018


NATCHEZ — The Concordia Parish LSU Ag Center now occupies the building that once housed the Vidalia Visitor’s Center.

The Ag Center, now located at 112 Front St., Suite A, houses agriculture, economic, family and nutrition specialists, which all support agricultural industries and host educational programs geared toward environmental enhancement and community development.

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Alethia Lawrence, Concordia Parish chair of the LSU Ag Center, said agents have almost finished unpacking after relocating from the “old courthouse” on Carter Street — which was built in 1939 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.

“The Concordia Parish Police Jury made the move to ‘evacuate’ the old courthouse to make some much-needed repairs,” Lawrence said. “The old building was just old, and it was a lot easier to make those repairs without people occupying it.”

Sandi Burley, the jury’s secretary and treasurer, said repairs were made to the heating and cooling system of the courthouse in January.

Due to the building’s old and outdated infrastructure, more work needs to be done before the building’s upper floor can be occupied again, she said, and officials are in search of grant money to make the building inhabitable.

“There were leaks from the air conditioning and the piping was bad,” Burley said. “It really needs a full renovation down to the last stud to make it up to date with today’s code.”

Lawrence said the move did not prevent the Ag Center from continuously serving the community, and they never stopped doing business even while they were packing and unpacking boxes.

“(The move) is not without its difficulties,” she said. “We had to purge and go through our old records. I think it has been a good move. The city has been great at securing a spot for us. We’re getting everything unpacked, but … we’re open for business. We never shut down. We’ve just been working while packing.”

Lawrence said members of the Ag Center offer services and organize events and make presentations throughout the parish.

“Our enrollment (in 4-H) is about 500 students per year,” Lawrence said. “We have an agricultural natural resource agent that focuses on gardening in the parish. … As for myself, I am the area nutrition agent, which helps low-income families with healthy meal preparation. I do a lot of programs in the schools.”

She said the center uses a temporary phone number right now: 225-923-6666.