What lies ahead in 2015?

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Parish officials outline where they see Bossier heading in 2015

As we wave goodbye to 2014, parish officials are already working on setting up and accomplishing their goals for 2015. The Bossier Press-Tribune asked local mayors, parish administrator, chamber of commerce president, and schools administrators for their thoughts on where they see Bossier headed over the course of the next 12 months.

Bossier Parish Administrator Bill Altimus

Goals, as administrator, for Bossier Parish:

“Our agenda is to continue to work with all of our partners on various economic opportunities for the region and the support of Barksdale Air Force Base.”

Where is Bossier Parish headed in 2015:

“Projects — continuing to move forward with the various Parish Sewer projects which will have far reaching impact to the continued growth in Bossier and starting the Swan Lake Road extension along with other road projects to improve traffic flow and capacity.”

Benton Mayor Wayne Cathcart

Goals, as the mayor, for your town:

“Goals for 2015 include listening and considering the needs of Benton residents, planning for current and future issues of the community, and be a good steward of public funds to ensure that the town is financially able to keep its commitments to citizens.”

Where is Benton headed in 2015:

“The Town Of Benton is located in a section of our parish which will continue to experience rapid growth. This growth in both residential and commercial development will require extensive planning and careful consideration of all factors that will impact our town. We are most interested in maintaining the quality of life and safety that we all enjoy living in our town.”

Cathcart said he is also hoping to complete the following major infrastructure projects:

  • Rehabilitate wastewater mains in Anna Lou Heights Subdivision.
  • Redirect flow of wastewater from west side of Benton directly to existing plant at the end of 7th Street.
  • Install backup power supply (generator) at wastewater lift station – corner of Burt Blvd. and Highway 3.
  • Work in conjunction with Bossier Parish Police Jury to provide wastewater services to the East Benton Subdivision.
  • Replace water ground storage tank #1 and rehabilitate tank #2 at Palmetto Road Water Facility.
  • Continue discussions concerning water and wastewater planning in areas where potential development is likely to occur within and outside existing corporate limits.
  • Complete formal Master Plan for multi-phase street improvement program.
  • Expand development of Simpson Street Park to include permanent restroom facilities and other recreational enhancements.

Bossier City Mayor Lorenz “Lo” Walker

Goals, as the mayor, for your town:

“One of our City’s basic criteria is to “live within our means.” Our broad objectives for 2015 are to: (1) improve the current level of services to our citizens; (2) continue improving City facilities and infrastructure; (3) provide continuous support to residential expansion and economic development; (4) maintain and improve the quality of life for our citizens.

“Effective utility service to our citizens is crucial. We have contracted with a firm for the design and engineering of system-wide distribution improvements. This will result in major updates in the quality and quantity of water and sewer service for our citizens.

“Sales tax revenue is critical for our ability to accomplish city services. We project an increase of 2% which is tempered by the impact of the national economy on the region. We have been fortunate to not feel the full impact of the recession, but to project any appreciable increase in sales tax revenue would not be prudent given the uncertainty of the global economic landscape. City Property Taxes have shown a pattern of growth based on the continued population increase. Our millage rate for 2015 remains unchanged at 22.75 mills.

“Public safety is always a top priority service for our citizens. The sources of revenue to support our Fire and Police remain constant to ensure both departments are properly resourced. Upgrading city streets and effective drainage of streets is always a major concern to us. Our budget for street and drainage improvements for 2015 will keep improvements on schedule.

“Our budget to operate the City for year 2015 represent a financial plan that completely eliminates the use of riverboat gaming revenues, with the exception of interest earned on the riverboat gaming trust, and no longer projects the spending down of the General Fund Balance that the City has used in recent years. I remain optimistic that our sustained growth, coupled with economic activities in our area, will provide adequate revenue to keep our city financially sound.”

A list of the City of Bossier City’s major projects, according to Walker, are listed below:

In Progress

1. Expanding Shed Road to four lanes (Benton to Airline) bid May 2015

2. Meadowview Pm·k – pool house

3. K-Mart Bridge replacement

4. Boardwalk Pump Station upgrade

5. Walker Place Pedestrian Bridge

6. Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market – Shed/I-220 (spring opening)

7. Kroger Market Place

In Planning

1. Walker Place Park – bid Jan 2015

2. Hamilton Rd Phase I – U.S. 80 to Benton Road (preliminary design)

3. Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market – Shady Grove/U.S. 71 (submitted for zoning board approval)

Approval Process

1. Extend Plantation & Douglas

2. Swan Lake Road – street lights

3. Sunflower Road – sidewalk

4. Sunflower subdivision – street lights

Haughton Mayor Carlton Anderson

Goals, as the mayor, for your town:

“We would like to add to our water wells and we would also like to get our sewer plant completed. We hope to continue to grow with our building and housing.”

Where is Haughton headed in 2015:

“We are looking for the new year to bring in more real estate. There are already people looking out here to bring in new businesses. We are just getting more and more people and I’m looking forward to seeing more growth. We’re so close to Bossier City and Minden in Webster Parish — we’re in an ideal location and I think that’s why people want to build out here. We’re getting a new (middle) school on (Highway) 3227 and people like our school district. I think there’s a pretty good outlook for 2015.”

Sonja Bailes, public relations liaison for Bossier Parish Schools

Bossier Parish Schools will have a busy 2015 as they will snip the ribbon on new schools while others will be expanding; students will be offered even more higher learning opportunities for their educational pursuits; and measures are being taken to ensure the youngest children in our parish are on a level playing field once they begin kindergarten. Here is a look at what is ahead for Bossier Schools as we ring in a new year:

  • Construction and Expansion — The landscape is changing across the parish as we enter the third year of Bossier Schools’ $210 million construction program, most noticeably with the additions of Kingston Elementary and Bossier Parish School for Technology and Innovative Learning (BPSTIL).

Construction at both schools is scheduled to be finished in summer 2015, in time for the 2015-16 school year. Kingston Elementary, located at 601 Kingston Road in Benton, is being built to meet the growth needs of this rapidly expanding area. Designed for 1,000 kindergarten through fifth grade students, the new facility will help relieve overcrowding at Legacy and Benton Elementary Schools.

Bossier Parish School for Technology and Innovative Learning (BPSTIL), positioned off I-220 and Swan Lake Road, promises to bridge education with the needs of the workforce and serve as a catalyst between the school system and business and industry. Keep reading to learn more about the exciting programs being developed for high school students wanting to pursue college credit and industry certifications at BPSTIL.

Airline High School saw the first of its multi-phase expansion program completed in 2014 with the addition of an outdoor student dining area, refurbished restrooms and renovations to the cafeteria and auditorium. Bids will be sought for the second and third phases in January, the scope of work encompassing the construction of two three-story classroom wings to replace the existing ones and accommodate 2,000 students. Also included are renovations to the administrative offices, lobby, media center and art wing.

Farther east, ground will be broken on the much anticipated new Haughton Middle School. Nestled on 30+ acres along Highway 3227 to the west of Tuscany subdivision, Haughton Middle will be designed as a three-story school for 1,500 students in sixth through eighth grades.

Work on paving projects to expand parking and improve parent drives will also get underway during the summer at T.L. Rodes, Princeton, Legacy and Benton Elementary.

Key in 2015 will be for the newly seated members of the Bossier Parish School Board to examine the demographic study and 10-year student population projections to establish priorities for the next round of construction as it relates to the Benton area, where there are critical growth needs.

  • Bossier Parish School for Technology and Innovative Learning — After being housed at Louisiana Technical College in Shreveport for nearly two decades, Bossier Parish students won’t have to cross the river to pursue career and technical education classes.  When BPSTIL opens its doors in August 2015, it will truly be a crown jewel for the community. Because of its size, Bossier Schools will be able to offer additional courses for high school students to acquire valuable industry-based certifications and accrue college credit through Dual Enrollment.  Courses being considered are animation, AP studio art, bio-technology, digital media/video production, drafting, engineering, law studies and outdoor power equipment.
  • Accelerating STEM — Bossier Schools emphasizes the need for a strong foundation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), as our nation depends on these skills to vie competitively on a global level.  Bossier students’ interest and participation in STEM activities continue to increase, as shown during the first Regional Autonomous Robotics Competition (RARC) of 2014-15, hosted by Cyber Innovation Center’s National Integrated Cyber Education  Research Center (NICERC). Building a strong STEM foundation in the early years is a key component in getting students interested in pursuing cyber career fields. Research has shown children choose their career selection during this level of development.
  • Early Childhood Education — Depending on the level of education received prior to kindergarten, some children are far ahead of their peers from day one.  In response to the Louisiana Legislature’s passage of Act 3 to address early childhood education, Bossier Parish Schools received a state grant to provide professional development for teachers in Head Start and a number of child care centers in an effort to better educate at-risk children under the age of five.   More than 100 early childhood educators in Bossier Parish have been working together in 2014 to implement new learning and development standards as well as a new teacher assessment scoring system and in excess of 1,000 children under the age of four have been served. In February 2015, an informational campaign will be launched, informing parents about educational services available to their young child.

Bossier Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Lisa Johnson

“We look to 2015 with intention; the intention to grow, support and develop Bossier into one of the best communities in the country. Over the course of the year, our region, specifically Bossier City, has gained significant recognition not only throughout the state but also on a national level. We are leading the way in many initiatives from technology to education and partnerships.  Our forward thinking leaders have invested a great deal into our future, and locally we are seeing those investments come to fruition. With the announcement from Cyber Innovation Center on the 800 plus jobs coming from anchor tenant, CSC, we can expect to see the already booming population to continue to grow in 2015. The Bossier Chamber of Commerce is ready to support and welcome the many new faces that will relocate to the area through our comprehensive relocation/transition website MovetoBossier.com. Folks seeking information about Bossier Parish and the quality of life we offer as a community have a one-stop-shop resource to help guide them through a relocation. Bossier leaders have been proactive in looking at the bigger picture for the future. We will continue to see growth in economic development areas because of the proactive leadership.  Through collaborative efforts of the education system and the partnerships to help with talent development initiatives in order to sustain the demand for skilled labor, we have created the ‘perfect storm’ for success. Keeping all of those new residents here with us is also a focus for 2015. As we mentioned quality of life plays a big factor in economic development. City and Parish leaders have come together, along with input from the community, to repurpose and develop both downtown Bossier and south Bossier.”