DayeTime: 'Simmesport Rising' series to look at town's efforts
For generations Simmesport has been known for two things, farming and fishing.
The town near the junction of the Red River and Atchafalaya River finds itself positioned for growth, but has never been able to capitalize on that potential.
Mayor Leslie Draper III believes that is about to change. A grassroots nonprofit called RISE -- Reinvest In Simmesport’s Expansion -- is working to spark economic development in the town.
Draper’s community involvement campaign, “Operation I’m Responsible,” has made progress in cleaning up abandoned houses and neglected lots by encouraging citizen volunteers and business partners to join together to address the issue.
On the economic development front, the Port of Avoyelles has reported that an oil refinery is considering locating at the port.
There has been preliminary talk of a glass manufacturing plant being constructed in that area.
Add to that the 99-year lease of the former Dunbar High/Simmesport Elementary School from the Avoyelles School Board, which will house several community programs as well as serve as a community center and “Simmesport Hall of Fame.”
Things are looking up for the “Jewel of the Atchafalaya,” but a parish that has seen big promises turn into large disappointments cannot help but ask, “will the promises come true or are they just so many good intentions and wishful thinking?”
This week we begin a multi-part series entitled "Simmesport Rising," which looks at Simmesport’s plans, programs, proposals and promises.