City Council moves to provide learning, entertainment experiences

By T. Scott Boatright

During Monday evening’s meeting in the courtroom at City Hall, Ruston’s City Council authorized Cooperative Endeavor Agreements (CEA) designed to bring learning and entertainment to city residents.

The CEAs approved by the City Council were with the Dixie Center for the Arts, Ruston Community Theatre and Zion Traveler Community Development.

That agreement with Zion Traveler Baptist will have the city give $7,000 for Ruston’s second straight Juneteenth Festival on June 18 at Railroad Park.

Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker and councilwomen Carolyn Cage and Angela Mayfield each talked about how well last year’s inaugrual Juneteenth event in Ruston went, organized in large part by Zion Traveler Baptist Church Pastor Maurice White.

 “When we first began eight years ago with this (city of Ruston) administration, we talked about bringing our community — Ruston — together as a whole,” said Mayfield. “That was our thing — talking about unity. Then the tornado came through and we said we were stronger together — Ruston strong.

“When we came together again (last year) for Juneteenth, it was so beautiful because when you looked out, you just didn’t see a sea of black faces, or a sea of white faces. You saw us all together worshiping and enjoying one another. That’s what it was about. Real change in Ruston came about. … The city of Ruston as a whole came together.”

The City Council also approved CEAs to provide $70,000 for The Dixie Center for the Arts as well as $30,000 for Ruston Community Theatre. 

Also approved was a resolution authorizing the city to enter into an CEA with the Louisiana Department of the Treasury and the state of Louisiana to provide $125,000 toward the construction of a skate park at the site of the old Municipal Pool.

A fifth CEA authorized by the Council that could end up having a major impact on the city of Ruston was an agreement with Tech Pointe LLC.

“As you may be aware Louisiana Tech is preparing to begin construction on the next phase of their Tech 2020 development and we are offering them our electrical utility rate that is equivalent to the cost of the city of Ruston’s,” said Public Works manager Andrew Halbrook. “It’ll be the same rate the city of Ruston pays for our power.”

Walker said Tech Pointe II will be a 40,000-square foot building which will house 300-400 employees.

“The information I got today is that one company took the whole second floor. So now the building is fully booked and construction should start in a few weeks,” Walker said. “It’s going to be an incredible addition to our city.”

In other business the Council also adopted a resolution revoking Pine Avenue and approving the dedication of a new servitude for the relocated and reconstructed Pine Avenue.

City Attorney Bill Carter explained the move was part of plans to build a QuikTrip mart off of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury-owned Lincoln Parish Library parking lot. 

Carter said QuikTrip has agreed to purchase land that an oil change business resided on before being destroyed in the April 2019 tornado. It also amended plans to move Pine Avenue a little south to allow Quick Trip to use that newly-purchased land for a bigger storefront than originally planned. 

The Council also approved a resolution that will authorize the city to enter into a professional services agreement with Vantage Point Solutions Inc. related to the city’s telecommunication/fiber system.

“We’ve been working for 18 months to find an opportunity to create a new telecommunications system for the residents of Ruston,” Halbrook said. “This agreement will take us into the next stage where we’re going to begin to create requests for proposals and begin to solicit potential partners and operators for that service.”

The Council also passed resolutions authorizing the city to enter into a CEA with the Louisiana Department of the Treasury and the state relating to upgrades of both City Hall ($400,000 worth) as well as an Industrial Park on Beacon Light Road.

Also approved was a resolution authorizing the city to enter into a Lease-Purchase agreement with BancorpSouth Equipment Finance, a division of BancorpSouth, in order to sign a 48-month lease for a new street sweeper for use in 2023 and 2024.

The Council also approved or introduced four zoning ordinances as well as introduced a property tax ordinance. It also approved the city’s portion of the proposed 2022/23 budget for the Lincoln Parish Sales and Use Tax Commission.

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