Tourism commission to see changing faces

The terms of a few Webster Parish Tourism commissioners are going to be up for renewal soon through the Webster Parish Police Jury. Ty Pendergrass, Derek Melancon and Jerri Lee, who executed the remainder of Nick Cox’s term following his election to Mayor of Minden, will be awaiting the approval of the jury to keep them on board. One commissioner, Tracy Campbell, is also up for renewal, but has decided after six years of serving on the commission, that he will be making a recommendation for someone else to take his seat.  

The terms of commissioners are renewable on a 3-year term. Campbell is currently serving his second term. 

“It’s been six years and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time on tourism, and I am willing to serve or help in terms of being a committee member for Miller Quarters and being a part of that,” said Campbell. “I am still going to be a huge promoter of Webster Parish and all things from Springhill, Minden, Sibley, Doyline or wherever.”  

Campbell explained that he has personal plans that are going to take up a lot of his time in the upcoming year. “I am just trying to free up some space to do that. I certainly love each and every one of you and love what our vision is and all that we have accomplished and will accomplish.” 

Campbell still plans to play an active role in the Miller Quarters project.  

The tourism board worked closely with a group of students from Louisiana Tech this past summer to develop a long-term master plan for the 11-acre space. The next steps will include hiring an architect designer and contracting out other work needed including landscaping. Phase 1 for the park is expected to include installation of bathrooms, food truck parking, playground equipment, a dog park and trails.  

One of the more pressing issues would be getting the park to a point where it can be more easily maintained on a regular basis. According to Commissioner Ty Pendergrass, the property has been under brushed a couple of times and bush hogged. He shared that the City of Minden is willing to help cover some of those costs in the future.

“The city and tourism group would probably enter into some type of a cooperative endeavor agreement to give the city permission to go over there and do some things,” said Pendergrass. “The city has hired a person that could provide some help. He would be a resource that the city could provide that we could use to help begin moving to establish some good grass and get the 11-acres where it can be maintained with mowing instead of with tractors.” 

Commissioner Campbell expressed concern with spending funds on additional clearing and maintenance before development gets underway. 

“If we are going to go in and the vision is going to call for a lot of dirt work and leveling and trees coming down, I do not want to spin our wheels on this maintenance if they are going to go in and have some major work done to this land,” he said. “We all like the things we are responsible for to look good at all times, but I do not want to put all the money into it and then they come in and say all this has to be leveled or there’s no need in mowing because it has to be leveled anyways and all these trees need to come down.” 

Pendergrass mentioned that the Youth Challenge Program has offered to come out and clear the land of sticks in coordination with the police jury who could provide a dumpster and the City of Minden to haul the debris from the location.  

Another local company has also mentioned donating two days to bring their equipment in to clean up at no charge to the board.  

“They are in Minden, and they liked the project and want to do what they can to help move it on down the road. I am not going to be surprised if we do not see some more of that,” said Pendergrass. 

The Witches Ride of Minden is expected to possibly make a 5-figure donation to the park after their upcoming fundraiser later this month along with contributions to the We’re Here, We Care program.  

Another group of students from Louisiana Tech University are going to be working with the board in the coming months to establish branding for the park.