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Rardy

Leesville & Vernon Parish

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Leesville is the parish seat of Vernon Parish (pop. 51,563), and the home of Fort Polk, the largest military installation in Louisiana. Leesville-DeRidder-Fort Polk each make up a micropolitan area and the CSA has a total population of 84,000.

Leesville is at the intersection of U.S. 171 and LA 8/28/117. By 2010, Leesville will be connected via 4-lane highways to I-10, I-49, and I-20. A GoogleEarth image of Leesville:

LeesvilleBypass.jpg

Current commercial construction in and around Leesville includes:

-Holiday Inn Express

-Lowe's Supercenter

-Walgreen's

-$300 million upgrades and new construction at Fort Polk

-$10 million expansion of Byrd Hospital:

byrdHospital.jpg

Future projects include:

-Microtel

-Hampton Inn

-Chili's (proposed)

-1,500 foot runway expansion at the Leesville Municipal Airport

Additionally, Leesville is called the "Gateway to Toledo Bend" since it is the largest, closest city to the dam:

IMG_0419wT.jpg

Other sights around town include the rejuvenated downtown, now a "Main Street Community" and a "Historical District":

bilde.jpg

The JRTC Headquarters:

headquarters.jpg

Bayne-Jones Hospital:

BJACH_new2.png

Vernon Parish Library:

vernonLibrary.jpg

Northside Industrial Park:

industrialPark.jpg

and a branch of Northwestern State University:

nsu.jpg

Homebuilding has also been at record levels, partially due to hurricane displacement, but also because of the massive amount of construction at Fort Polk and the booming economy of central Louisiana, which Leesville is benefiting from.

From the Fort Polk website:

Leesville

Leesville, seven miles northwest of Fort Polk, is the seat of government of Vernon Parish (parishes equate to counties in other states).

The 61,000 area residents are proud of their rich history, recreational and ecological features, and close association with the people of Fort Polk.

Long before the parish was formed, in the days following the Louisiana Purchase, renegades and outlaws from Mexico and the United States found sanctuary in the nearby Sabine River swamps and thick pine forests of the Neutral Territory, or "No Man's Land."

The history of the area offers a true "Who's Who of Americana." Among the legendary characters who passed through are Zebulon Pike, Jean Lafitte, Jim and Resin Bowie, Sam Houston, James Audubon, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, Jefferson Davis, George Custer, Leonidas Polk, Dwight Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, and George Patton.

The parish's western boundary, along the Sabine River, was the site of military action during the Civil War. Confederate soldiers erected an artillery site to guard against Union movements along the Nolan Trace. These earthworks, known as the Burr Ferry Breastworks, are among the best preserved in the South.

Many local residents have vivid recollections of the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who participated in the Louisiana Maneuvers that preceded U.S. involvement in World War II. The famous exercises paved the way for the establishment of Fort Polk.

"The Heart of Sportsman's Paradise," the slogan of the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce, aptly describes the area now. Fishermen can explore Anacoco and Vernon lakes or the 65-mile-long Toledo Bend Reservoir while catching their limits of bass, white perch, bream or catfish.

Deer, squirrels, rabbits and other game give avid hunters reason to roam the woodlands. Families can enjoy hiking and camping year-around in the facilities that abound throughout the area.

Golf enthusiasts will find challenges on the nine-hole Leesville Municipal Course and the demanding fairways of nearby Toro Hills.

In addition to the best of the outdoors, there are also activities for the mind and spirit.

Vernon Parish has almost 100 churches, representing virtually every faith and denomination.

The Museum of West Louisiana in Leesville welcomes you to its displays of archaeological artifacts, logging implements, railroad memorabilia and other items unique to the area. The Vernon Arts Council sponsors performances from opera, ballet and stage plays to the New Orleans Symphony and the U.S. Marine Corps Band. The council also sponsors the West Louisiana Folk Arts and Crafts Festival each spring.

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Aren't you from that area, Rardy?

My experience with that area is very limited so I really can't comment. But from your post, it does seem that it's seeing some good, positive development which is great.

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Aren't you from that area, Rardy?

My experience with that area is very limited so I really can't comment. But from your post, it does seem that it's seeing some good, positive development which is great.

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Thanks Rardy for making this thread. I like the pics too. Thanks for the tour. That's good to see the area rebounding. That's a nice area for a Micropollitan Area. I have never been to Leesville, but I have been to DeRidder and Toledo Bend. I like the term "Gateway to Toledo Bend". Some of that area would definitely qualify as "No Man's Land".

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Leesville Airport proposed to receive new flight school and FAA repair shop. Economic development!

Daily Leader

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This is a shot of Third St. downtown. It doesn't really do the place justice, but considering the buildings were mostly abandoned 5 or 6 years ago, it's rather impressive.

3rdstreet.jpg

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Looks like this thread has been revived like the downtown area! Nice bank building! That's good to see, thanks for posting this :shades:

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Believe it or not, Leesville actually has a little bit of a traffic problem. U.S. 171 between Leesville and DeRidder is the busiest non-interstate highway in the state outside of an MSA, and it can easily take 3 cycles to get through certain traffic signals in town. Additionally, the cluster of big boxes and restaurants all in the same area not designed for them complicates traffic flow.

But for the next fiscal year, there will be substantial upgrades at several intersections, per this DOTD file.

-The intersection of N. 5th and University Pkwy (US 171 & LA 467) will be rebuilt and improved

-New turn lanes for S. 5th and Boone St. (the worst intersection in town)

-Synchronized signals (with left turn arrows) for US 171 and Boone, 171 at Castor Lake, 171 at Belview, and (finally!) a new signal at Alexandria Hwy.

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Hodges Gardens State Park is now open (16 miles north of Leesville).

The State Park Commission took over the park in April and have been rehabbing it to reopen it. Currently they're in the process of remodeling the existing structures in the park.

The site is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and features a visitor center, walking trails, formal gardens, the Azalea Overlook, waterfalls and more.

The Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism and the Office of State Parks acquired Hodges Gardens in early April and is making renovations to existing structures in order to open the rest of the park to the public.

The overnight accommodations, which include improved and unimproved camping, cabins and a guest house, are scheduled to open later in the summer.

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It's nice to see that Leesville's downtown has come back to life. It's often a difficult task for small communities to diversify after being dependent upon the military for a very long time. It looks as though Leesville is moving forward.

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^Yeah...I still don't think they're anywhere near being diversified, though. Some of the new industrial jobs are helping, but that's still a few hundred compared to the thousands of jobs on base. The city's doing fine for now because the latest BRAC round did not affect Fort Polk positively or negatively.

Other news, the DT Historic Commission is placing banners throughout the 12-block Historic District to help brand the area. I think this is a great idea!

LeesvilleDT.jpg

(the Mayor, Betty Westerchil, is in black)

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Very nice to see the improvements taking place in downtown Leesville. The banners are a nice idea. Other smaller places in Louisiana are doing the same thing like; Opelousas, New Iberia and Hammond.

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Leesville/Ft. Polk is up for 7,000 new military jobs!

LEESVILLE -- Fort Polk could get a new Army brigade that would increase its troop strength by about 50 percent and add nearly 7,000 new jobs, an economist said today.

Loren Scott, professor emeritus of economics at Louisiana State University, said Fort Polk is one of three Army posts being considered for a new 4,000-troop brigade. Currently, Fort Polk has about 8,161 soldiers, he said.

Scott spoke at today's Louisiana Communities and Military Partnership Summit at the Landmark Hotel in Leesville.

Fort Polk issued a news release saying it is one of 17 Army bases being considered for a brigade. It also said a study is looking at whether Fort Polk might expand its acreage by about 50 percent.

Scott said Fort Polk's total number of troop and civilian jobs is about 15,300, but that would jump to 22,180 jobs if it gets the new brigade. That would also generate about $50 million worth of temporary construction jobs, he said.

The base's current economic impact is more than $900 million, but that could increase to more than $1.3 billion if the new brigade locates at Fort Polk, according to Scott.

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