Developments
February
6, 2009

By Roger Emile Stouff

As it turns out, the meeting I told you about for Tuesday was cancelled at the last moment. That was the one at City Hall to begin developing a tourism plan for the parish. The consultant hired to spearhead this thing was iced-in in Indiana (wow, that’s a lot of "in-s" in a row) and at first the thing was completely cancelled until it could be rescheduled. State Rep. Sam Jones sent out a last-minute e-mail saying he’d go to City Hall anyway if anybody wanted to come, and to meet those who didn’t get the cancellation notice. He and Cajun Coast Director Carrie Stansbury were there, along with Mayor Raymond Harris.

About 12 citizens showed. Now, since several rounds of mass e-mails had gone out, and since I talked about this in my column and we ran it on the front page, if at best – at best! – half of those who knew about the meeting got the word it was called off, then that would mean 24 people knew about it. I doubt that. My guess is several thousand people knew about it, certainly a thousand or more locally. And 12 showed up.

Does anyone see the irony here besides me?

Regardless, everyone had a great meeting. Most everyone was particularly enthused about the plans of Techeland Arts Council, the group I’m involved with, which plans to create a live community performance based on the west St. Mary area’s history, particularly Franklin.

The consultant will be here March 17 as now scheduled, blizzards notwithstanding. There’ll be another meeting about a month prior to try to get a list of assets and priorities ready when he comes. I’ll be announcing that later, and we’d be pleased if you’d come…though I’m sure you’ll be brushing your teeth or something and couldn’t possibly make it.

——

It’s been encouraging to note, however, that the parish is finally fixing the hurricane-damaged awning on front of the old Blevins building on Main Street. Kudos, better late than never, I always say.

——

Meanwhile, Miller Engineers has done a superb facelift on their building at the corner of Main and Willow. Painting of the historic structure has given it a fresh face and as always, I’m delighted when folks take the time and effort and yes, money, to keep downtown looking good.

——

At the risk of stepping on some toes – not that it ever bothered me before – I’d like to give a big "Shame on you," to some folks around here complaining about the Western Auto building.

You probably recall that the building sat rotting for 20 years after a dispute between the absent property owner and the Historic District Commission, out of spite. You probably also know that it was finally purchased by locals recently, and a new roof put on and plans for it discussed in open meetings.

Now, some people are complaining because it’s not all shiny and new again already. Catch a grip, people. The damn thing sat empty for two decades and finally there’s hope for it, rein in your impatience, or should I say, your hyped-up bravado, give it some time, and drop the crummy attitude.

——

You have to check out – after you get through with brushing the teeth, of course – www.atchafalaya.org.

This is the new website for the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area initiative, an economic, cultural and environmental effort between federal and state officials. This puppy rocks.

Here’s how they define it: "A heritage area is both a place and a concept. Physically, heritage areas are regions with concentrations of significant natural, scenic, cultural, historic, and recreational resources. Most of the properties in a heritage area are in private ownership and remain in private ownership. Heritage areas are places known for their unique culture and identity, as well as for being good places to live or visit. As a concept, heritage areas are partnerships where residents, businesses, local governments, and state and federal agencies collaborate to create more livable and economically sustainable regions."

It’s just starting out, with a master plan in the works, but Saints be praised, it looks like what we got down here is finally getting recognized, protected and utilized!

Y’all pass a good weekend, hear?