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Vidalia street name change ruffles feathers

 

VIDALIA — The former Fruit of the Loom Drive may soon take on a new name.

A few Vidalia residents, however, are not happy with the proposed name change, town officials said.

During a regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday evening, the Vidalia Board of Aldermen approved a resolution to request that the Concordia Parish Communications District E-911 change the name of Fruit of the Loom Drive to King Timahoe Drive.

King Timahoe was the name of former U.S. President Richard Nixon’s Irish Setter, and the name change request came per an initial agreement made with Vidalia Denim in 2017 in order to persuade the company to purchase the former Fruit of the Loom building.

The proposed name King Timahoe Drive came at the request of Vidalia Denim CEO, Dan Feibus, who said he chose King Timahoe at random as a filler name and that it had little significance to him other than just to replace the name of a competing company.

“The reason for changing the name was practical,” Feibus said. “We just wanted to change it from Fruit of the Loom Drive, but we didn’t want to name it ‘Louisiana Denim’ or anything like that. The name is random. … Basically, we would be open to changing the name to almost anything, but that name sort of got marked on the documents a while back.”

Once the change had been added to the town’s agenda, Aldermen Sabrina Doré and Robert Gardner said they received numerous phone calls from residents, who were opposed to the change, calling it offensive.

“I’ve received several calls in reference to the name being changed,” Gardner said during Tuesday’s meeting. “I know it’s a former president’s dog’s name. I don’t think they took offense to it being the name of a dog, but rather the reflection of the president at the time. … Personally, I feel like the company should consider changing it to the name of someone in Vidalia.”

Alderman Triand McCoy said he had no problem with changing the name of the road if it meant having the new facility bring new jobs, but said he was opposed to the way the agreement with Vidalia Denim had been drawn, adding the town had no authority to make the change.

“It’s not our job to name or number streets,” McCoy said. “That is 911’s job and that should never have been included in the agreement.”

Heather Malone, Deputy Director of Natchez Inc., said the name change was included in an initial agreement that the Board of Aldermen approved in 2017. However, Malone said she realized after the agreement was made that the board did not have the authority to change the name and that was actually under the purview of E-911.

“In the cooperative endeavor agreement that was approved by the board it is a responsibility of the town to rename the road,” Malone said. “We did not realize until we began pulling the resolution together to see what the steps were that it was beyond the responsibility of the town and that it was the responsibility of E-911. We did work with them and explained what the situation was … and they understood that this was a unique circumstance.”

The resolution to request the name change form Fruit of the Loom Drive to King Timahoe Drive passed by a vote of 3-2, with Aldermen Doré and Gardener voting against it.

In other matters during Tuesday’s meeting of the Vidalia Board of Aldermen, the board:

  • Unanimously approved minutes for previous meetings.
  • Unanimously approved occupational licenses and sign applications.
  • Unanimously approved a contract renewal with Air Med Care Network for $19,000 for one year to provide medical emergency helicopter services to Vidalia residents at a reduced membership rate of $35 a year for current members who are 60 years old and older and $45 per year for those younger than 60 years old.
  • Unanimously approved a revision to the town’s employee handbook that is required by state law. The revision requires town employees to take online ethics training courses pertaining to sexual discrimination and sexual harassment.
  • Reviewed an existing ordinance pertaining to the placement of political signage and took no action concerning said ordinance. The ordinance states that political signs are allowed to be placed no sooner than 60 days prior to an election and must be removed within three days following the election or conclusion of a campaign. Signs are also prohibited on any public rights-of-way and should not exceed 16 feet in surface area.