By Jason Methvin/Opinion

We deserve better? Natchitoches Parish is in dire straits. We already know that Louisiana is last in the United States in quality of life according to US News and World Reports. We have the worst business climate in the country. But what does that mean to us? The average citizen of Natchitoches Parish makes $22,000 per year. That is seven thousand dollars less than the state average of $29,000 per year and almost $10,000 less than the national average of 31,000. Our parish is not growing because people are not moving here. Our population has been mired between 35,000 and 39,000 for the better part of two decades. We who call this place home see our children leave to find fortunes elsewhere. We see class after class of Northwestern graduates walk across that stage with their diplomas and walk out of the parish without pausing to think or to dream of making it here. If you don’t have government job here, you are struggling. Restaurateurs, hoteliers and business owners will tell you that they struggle eleven months out of the year. How can this be in postcard Natchitoches? Look no further than the political machinations of our elected officials this week.

On Monday, Mayor Posey and the city council were extolling the virtues of an overbudget sports complex that will somehow be in high demand but lose money. The Mayor was at his condescending best when he told the I49 merchants and hotel owners that they must collect an additional one cent sales tax over and above the additional 2 percent they already collect because it is their privilege to be located right next to Posey Parc. According to the Mayor’s imaginary pro forma, the survival of the Sports complex depends upon this tax, and hey, we get to save Northwestern too! One wonders how in the face of an impoverished city that the council can even imagine that an additional sales taxes will make the lives of its citizens better? One further wonder how a city council can hide behind the legal fiction of a TIF district to bypass the will of the people who elected them. After all, they aren’t taxing the people; they are taxing the people’s livelihood. But I’m sure they don’t care. Over the last twenty years, they have measured their successes in publicly funded decorative bricks and mortar, not in the increasing prosperity of their people.

Not to be outdone, the parish council held a hastily called meeting to consider returning to the glory days of yore, when police jurors ran their districts like fiefs, doling out road funds to their loyal subjects. Behold the sight of three council members standing for their last election desperately trying to trick the voters of Natchitoches Parish into doing away with the Parish Charter and the term limits contained therein. Then behold the fourth councilman leave his spine at the door so that we could waste more money in the spring on another futile attempt to go back to the good ole days. Never mind the fact that such an election is a thumb in the eyes of Natchitoches Parish voters who will be electing one of three candidates to a position that will disappear if the parish council has its way. We would be better off if we had elected Messrs. Hogg, Coltrane and Enos to the council. At least they would have taken the time to read the charter provisions about public meetings and the amendment thereof.

All is not lost though. There are beacons of hope here. The school board and its new blood are rolling up their sleeves and getting to work. The Natchitoches Parish Medical Center is actively and aggressively recruiting top medical talent to make Natchitoches Parish a vibrant medical hub for northwest Louisiana. Northwestern State University is led by people who understand that they must engage the people who support them over and above the stipend they get from the state. The parish is experiencing a housing boom due to the imaginations of two transplants who are saying “Why not?” And one of our own is on the BESE board. But if we allow for the city and parish governments to impose unwanted vanity projects upon us without giving us the opportunity to vote, then we deserve to see our children leave, our fortunes fade and what little we have dwindle into dust.

We deserve better.

24 thoughts on “WE DESERVE BETTER

  1. why not build an auto mall off of 49 ? a big movie theatre ? you could make a ton of money off of traffic alone on I-49 instead of raising our taxes and punishing the people who live here already .

  2. Why is it that the parish government, in whatever form it has been in, has fought so hard to keep out companies that would create more jobs? Tourism, by itself, has always been a dead end. People need a reason to move here, and most of that time, that reason is going to be work. If there’s not any work to be had, why should a young family move here? Festivals, malls, and parks aren’t enough to keep people here. There have been ideas offered as to creating jobs around the parish, not just in Natchitoches, and those were shot down. I’ve heard a couple of stories as to why, and if true, Natchitoches deserves to be in the position it’s currently in. There needs to be people in charge that actually understand how a strong, sustainable economy works. As it stands now, Natchitoches is just a one-trick pony, a nice place to visit, but a sorry place to live.

  3. well written and every point was right on point.They wonder why
    Louisiana is ranked highest in the worst categories.

  4. I was born and raised in Natchitoches and I love my home town although I’ve been living in Texas for over a decade now. I still come back to visit every now and then. I agree that it need more things to do and to see it is most definitely small. As I pass along all those open spaces down there. I always think to myself that they need to do something like building some things there. They really need to expand. A lot time I tell people where I’m from and every time they say that they never heard of Natchitoches and it is all because nothing is major is there to make people want to come visit or stay. No one really hears about nothing there. I go back to just visit my family. But each time I go it looks worse each time. A lot being torn down but nothing is being built. Things is closing down and nothing is opening steadying losing. Natchitoches deserves better

    • Excuse my wordings my phone does what it want sometimes and I am at work but I just had to comment because for a long time I always thought on this.

  5. It is Unfortunate the majority of things you pointed out apply to every parish in this state. There is definately a reason this state ranks so low in so many areas. I highly doubt the fault lies soley in the hands of “we the people”!!

  6. I don’t think it is right for our elected officials to levy a tax and give half the revenue to a state funded university without a public vote. I do not like being forced to support something that I am already paying taxes to fund. Not everyone in Natchitoches is a NSU supporter. What if they sent the money to Alabama? We have been taxed for the ball park already. Remember our sewer rates were raised right after the took the money to build the park

  7. The education inequality in Natchitoches has been our root problem for too long. This problem has been ignored and no one has come up with any meaningful solutions, some thoughtful targeted efforts to change that over time.

  8. Malls are a thing of the past,they are failing all over the country. You will never find an investor willing to put up that amount no way! More restaurants just means all the others suffer a little more, besides all of you who say I would eat there everyday……..no,no you wouldn’t! You want a buffet,we had one and where’s it at? New chicken place was good and no one supported it,Hardies is good and no one is ever there. Last thing natchitoches needs is more eating places. Natchitoches needs industry bottom line! You have to have population for some of the things people here want.

    • True, M1. One of the last things this place needs is another place to eat. How about we take advantage of what we have here, a long summer with, for the most part, good weather. Are there things people like to do outside?

      Personally, I hate the heat and humidity. But I’ll jump at the chance to spend the day at a water park. I wonder how many people would support something like that? West Monroe has a family activity center called Excalibur. Could that draw in local folks? It would sure give kids around here something to do.

      It’s not going to be one solitary thing that will grow the economy in our parish. And when times are tough, people don’t spend money on entertainment. So, you’re right, M1, we need industry. It would seem like a no-brainer for someone to build a factory here with the interstate so close. What’s keeping companies from building here? Lack of space? Taxes too high? No skilled workforce?

      • A couple of times I know of, and probably more often, officials from companies have visited here, toured the so-called industrial park, asked questions about infrastructure, and if that didn’t already turn them off, then they went on about education and the quality of the local workforce. That was the nail in the coffin for sure.

        Look, let’s be real. It’s tough for any community to be attractive to big time corporate investors. Nothing unique about Natchitoches in that regard. It is NOT simply a matter of having a mayor and a parish president, and decent councils (yeah, right…) that want business and industry to relocate here. This is not some kid waiting on Santa Claus to bring him gifts. It takes real leadership! We don’t have it in the mayor’s office, we might have it in the parish president’s office, but The Three Stooges have wrecked that body. And now what little help NSU used to provide is gone.

        Still, it is quite obvious Natchitoches has dropped the ball numerous times and blown opportunities presented, and now due to many questionable placements of “leaders” is not even in a position to compete. And, Louisiana as a whole, made some progress under Jindal to become more attractive to business and industry and the proof in that can be seen in places like Ruston, Lake Charles, Hammond, and Lafayette. And, in Monroe too. But even that is gone now with the clown we have in BR.

        Forget it Natchitoches! You are forever doomed to be exactly what you are, and have been for 300+ years, a quaint little historic town. Nothing wrong with that, the world needs some quaint little historic towns too.

  9. We do deserve better, but it will not get better until there are people elected who really and truly care about the citizens of this city. Those who can do a better job, please run for these public positions and let’s get started on making our city better.

  10. Agreed on most points but a couple of corrections

    1) Most people that I know that work for the government are making less than they would in the private sector but are trying to make a difference for Natchitoches.

    2) There are tons of good jobs at NSU, NRMC, Alliance, Pilgrims Pride, Weyerhauser, Martco, IP, etc. Could we do better? Absolutely. But don’t act like there is nothing here.

    • There are a few good industries but… at stated but for the most part they pay less that other equal industries. Because of Natchitoches/Louisiana median pay level!

  11. Natchitoches needs more family restaurants with buffets people get tired of fast foods. Need fun things to do for college kids but families too. Attract more people by having more great places other than festivals. The festivals are nice the ones that the normal family or single parent can afford but that’s not the case a lot of the time. I am speaking as a single Mom that has one child and we live here. Thinker Smarter and the money will come.

    • Something not mentioned yet in this thread are the many affordable entertainment offerings at NSU such as plays, camps, concerts, athletic events and such. The fact that Natchitoches has a university separates it from most other towns and cities and that should not be underestimated. Yes, Natchitoches can be better but let’s not throw out the proverbial baby with the bath water…the bath water being the TIFF tax that has rankled so many.

  12. I wake up every morning wondering why I moved to this area; it was the biggest mistake I ever made!
    Sam A

  13. I agree for the most part. What is truly needed is a shopping experience in the western side of town. For ages I have thought an upscale mall would prosper. Now THAT would bring in tax dollars. Many, Zwolle, Coushatta, Cloutierville, Campti, Clarence, and all of North Natchitoches parish would rejoice.

  14. We definitely deserve better. This town is setup for retirees not young adults. Education is horrible and using quick ideas on students as “test dummies” with no raise or real financial help for teachers who WANT TO BE HERE. Recreational sports are TOO HIGH how can we help our youth participate in something positive and it’s at a high price that parents can’t afford due to low wages?!?!?!!!! It’s more middle class and even more lower class. LET’S MAKE EVERYONE’S POCKET GROW AND CHILDREN PROSPER!

  15. Thank you! Who the hell asked for this sports park? And who approved it while these roads are tearing up our tires and undercarriages. The college kids keep leaving because there’s nothing really here for them. Dave & Busters. Some kind of buffet restaurant that isn’t the trash Lucky Village. Because some of them are lowkey starving. These jobs won’t work with their school schedules when they are here so their loyalties are elsewhere. And these teachers deserve more than that 1k raise. Not that any of this matters.

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