This little tidbit from the news wire piqued my interest:

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Eleven communities around Louisiana have been dubbed "retirement communities."

That designation by Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu makes them eligible to receive $20,000 each in grant funding to help them with efforts to retain and attract people 55 years old and older. The communities each provide $10,000 in match funding.

Given the official retirement community designation were the cities of Bossier, Crowley, Covington, Lake Charles, New Iberia, and Thibodaux; the parishes of Natchitoches, St. Landry, Union and Vernon; and the Louisiana I-12 Retirement District, which is a multi-parish area.

Landrieu launched the initiative last year to tout Louisiana as a retirement destination.

Now, $20,000 may not sound like a lot of money, especially when the local entity has to put up $10,000 but it’s kinda like this, to me: If a meal costs me three bucks, and the only way I can get fed if I’m hungry is to put up the only buck I got, I’m all over it, ya folla?

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Crowley, for instance, on their WEBSITE (I am hereafter in today’s column using the all capital letters and italics on the word "website" so that maybe someone will notice and think, "Hey! There’s an idea!") issues this invitation:

Welcome to the City of Crowley

Where Life is Rice and Easy!

"Crowley, an inviting place with a friendly and relaxing atmosphere, is a community that welcomes new neighbors seeking a haven and a new home. Affordable housing and some of the best real estate values in the nation can be found in Crowley. We are a peaceful community rich in history and culture which possesses one of the largest Register of Historic Places. It includes a thriving historic business district and a historic residential district which features streets lined with majestic oaks and turn-of-the-century Victorian homes…we will do whatever we can to make your retirement in Crowley "Rice and Easy."

Wow! Reread that paragraph and replace the word "Crowley" with "Franklin".

Uncanny, ain’t it?

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Covington. Dear Covington. I’ve always liked that little town, ever since I worked in Slidell back in the 1980s, I was fond of Covington. Reminded me a lot of…well, Franklin…musta been why I liked it so much.

Covington’s WEBSITE touts:

"Instead of winding down, perhaps you are just getting wound up, ready to do the things you are passionate about, ready to do things your way, ready to live in a climate that is pretty comfortable year round, and where many entrepreneurs and artists have found inspiration for generations. Like to garden? You can grow a garden practically year round in Covington’s mild climate. Your housing dollars go far in Covington."

Attaboy, Covington.

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Thibodaux, ah, Thibodaux.

On the RetireThibodaux.org WEBSITE they tout, "Living here is as much a feeling as it is a way of life. It’s the safeness of our community, the cleanness of our streets. It’s passing century-old homes on your way, to the convenience of local shopping and entertainment. It’s having access to the fun and excitement of New Orleans and Baton Rouge while being close enough to sleep in your own bed when you’re done. Life here is filled with balance. It’s a place of great neighborhoods and great neighbors. Try sampling the continuing education options of Nicholls State University or plunge head on into a brand new degree. You may want to start a new business or find professionals to help you manage the one you have. Nestled in the heart of Thibodaux, lies its historic downtown. Century old buildings line the streets providing a perfect setting for either work or play. From excellent dining to interesting boutiques, Downtown Thibodaux offers a relaxing and welcoming environment that will be sure to bring you back."

Heck, makes me want to go.

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New Iberia. Their WEBSITE proclaims:

"You’ve put in your time with the company, and now it’s time to spend some time with great company. New Iberia, Louisiana has the charm and convenience of a small town, with all the advantages of larger cities – like year round shopping, entertainment and attractions. We’re also home to some of the finest food and people in the world. Our moderate climate encourages year-round outdoor activities and entertainment. New Iberia’s low cost of living and Louisiana’s homestead exemption allows you to take advantage of affordable and historic housing. And in New Iberia, we continue to value our culture, history, education and health. Come visit us, and see why the rich community of New Iberia can turn your retirement days into your Golden Years."

Man, oh, man. Vision, right there, boys and girls.

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And so…

St. Mary Parish Government’s website lists the administration and council, a contact information form, and a copy of the parish charter.

Snore.

Now, before you say, "But Rog, the parish sponsors the tourist commission, the Cajun Coast Visitor’s and Convention’s Bureau, and they have a great website!"

Dang sure they do! One of the finest I’ve seen, and they do a great job.

But search around and you’ll find that in many parishes or municipalities in Louisiana and beyond, everybody has a website. The cities, the towns, the counties/parishes, the downtown districts, the chambers, the civic organizations, the historic districts, you name it, there’re more information than you can shake a stick at.

Generally, such communities are the successful ones.

Go back and read that last line again. Two or three times, until it sticks.

Like I mentioned before, Natchitoches the city and Natchitoches the parish must have a dozen combined, touting everything from city business and paying your water bill online to the Christmas festival of lights to meat pies.

Just to say, it’s better to shop local, but typically, website development is cheap compared to other types of promotional ventures. You can host a fair-sized website with a provider for under 20 bucks a month, in some cases less.

Websites are cheap. There’s no excuse for not having a whole gaggle of them. Franklin has none. Baldwin has none. Downtown has none. The historic district has none. Burns Point has none. Cypremort Point has a mention on the state parks website.

Ah, but here’s a remarkable (tongue firmly in cheek) thing: Eastward, the golf course has a website; the aviation museum has a pretty good entry in the Louisiana Museums website; the Mr. Charlie oil rig museum has its own site…need I continue?

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And in the news just this week:

CROWLEY, La. (AP) - Future and past have become intertwined as a portion of Crowley's downtown business district undergoes a facelift that city officials say is more than cosmetic.

The initial phase of the city's grant-funded North Parkerson Redevelopment Project began less than a month ago in an effort that municipal leaders think will revitalize a commercial area containing businesses which started in the 1890s.

Rita Johnson, Crowley's Main Street Program director, said the $4 million state and federal grant will eventually provide a makeover in a multiple-block area south from the courthouse square.

"The objective is to bring business back to this part of the downtown area by making it more pedestrian friendly," Johnson said.

The existing high curbs will be lowered to accommodate the handicapped and portions of the median will include trees and shrubbery, said Johnson.
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If you’re thinking it’s easy to sit behind this keyboard and rouse the rabble, you’re sadly mistaken.

In the first place, a lot of people are happy with me, and that’s a good thing, but many more are hacked off like nobody’s business, and I don’t sit with my back to the room at lunch, only to a wall.

Not to mention, do you realize how many readers I’ve lost since I started this crusade? Fans from inside and outside of St. Mary Parish who have grown bored with the local brouhaha and say they miss my meanderings about Patches, puppies, funny-things-that-happened and of course, fishing, though word keeps coming to me from some mysterious, anonymous grapevine source that "nobody cares about fishing."

Sure, it’s a small sacrifice. On the other hand, I could just get up and move to the Ozarks or the Smokies or something. Sometimes, I wonder why I haven’t already. Some of you might say, "Good riddance."

But this is home. I want it to prosper. I ain’t giving up on it, or you, just yet.