Published 12:00 am Friday, February 27, 1998

Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / February 27, 1998


Signs of the River Parishes’ economic boom are everywhere. In LaPlace, anew Winn-Dixie prepares to open its doors Mar. 5, featuring top-linecheckout technology. In Boutte, a new Shoney’s Restaurant opened itsdoors recently and residential development is everywhere you look. Roadsare being repaired and overlaid, from West Fifth Street in LaPlace, to Interstate 10. Even a new red light is finally coming to the intersection ofWillowdale Boulevard and U.S. Highway 90.Unemployment is at such a low rate, it’s almost scary, as we hold our breath, almost, waiting for the crash. Meanwhile, more and more peopleare moving to the River Parishes, not only from the Jefferson/Orleans parishes area but from many places, drawn by jobs, drawn by schools and drawn by a desire to become a part of the good life in the River Parishes.

Of course, every growth has its price. This week, a gas line was struck asthe power company installed new utility poles in LaPlace, forcing an hour- long evacuation. Crime continues in all three River Parishes, despite thebest efforts of law enforcement agencies and other social service agencies, striving to link the current economic boom with disadvantaged people.

Louisiana Technical College’s River Parishes campus in Reserve can hardly keep up with the demand for trained workers by area industry. People needskilled labor all over. Any able-bodied person who wants a job and canstay off drugs and a clean record should have little difficulty in getting a good-paying job. TransAmerican Refinery in Norco is even giving away apickup truck every month in an effort to keep their workers at that job site, as too many are often lured to other sites offering even more pay and better benefits.

It’s a heady sensation, living in the River Parishes, and knowing this is good, honest living while still remaining family oriented. Carnival in theRiver Parishes demonstrated this is still a solid, family-grounded area.

People were able to bring their children out and enjoy the hard work behind the various parade organizations, from Reserve to LaPlace, from Des Allemands to Luling.

We still have a strong, neighborly feeling toward our fellow citizens and it is strengths like these which continue to attract new residents to the area.

We have problems here, to be sure. We would like to see the roadsimproved and other public services upgraded. Traffic is becoming aproblem in some areas and more attention needs to be paid here by the state highway department. Crime will always be a problem. But we areheaded in the right direction.

And, it is hoped, we will be smarter about this boom than the last one and keep the fear of another crash at bay.

Also, hopefully, we will continue to be good neighbors to one another, holding ourselves up as a good example of what a community should be like. We have a lot to be proud of here in the River Parishes and weshouldn’t be shy about saying so.

Leonard Gray is a reporter for L’Observateur.

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