An economic effort
Executive Director of the Ville Platte Chamber of Commerce and Evangeline Parish Tourism Camille Fontenot (center) was the guest speaker at Tuesday’s meeting of the Ville Platte Rotary Club. She is pictured here with Rotary President Wayne Vidrine (left) and Rotarian Peggy Tate (right). (Gazette photo by Tony Marks)
By: TONY MARKS
Economic development and tourism were the main topics of this week’s meeting of the Ville Platte Rotary Club as the executive director of the Ville Platte Chamber of Commerce and Evangeline Parish Tourism, Camille Fontenot was the guest speaker.
Fontenot led off her talk by speaking about Valerie Cahill, who bought The Cazan Hotel. “We are very fortunate that we have a new person who has moved here,” she said about Cahill. “She has an expertise that is unbelievable in building negotiations with trade and with bringing industry into parishes. She served on the Board of Trade and on the Board of Directors on the Port of New Orleans, and she served as coordinator on that board with the World Trade Center.”
The two are working together on bringing markets and industry to the parish. “We have been working first of all with getting together a symposium with our local rice and perhaps crawfish farmers in this area that would be interested in knowing about the sales and the exports going on and needed in our community, in our country, and in our world,” Fontenot said. “We’re not just talking about what can happen locally, but we’re talking about what can happen on an international level. One of the attorneys who is willing to come is Romi Gonzalez. He is of Cuban nationality, and he is very active with the National Cuban Society and International Trade.”
Fontenot then went on to talk of the potential of the Industrial Park and the Chamber’s involvement with the Southern United Trade Association. They are looking at ways to attract more industry to the Industrial Park. “We know that our Industrial Park is already certified,” she said. “Therefore it means that it perhaps could be a foreign trade zone, and it could be classified as that. Then people coming in would be able to save on tariffs and their wastes. This could be done to help business and industry move into our Industrial Park.”
The Advocate Company, according to Fontenot, wants to lease a building here for a company called Safety First. “They stock safety products and distribute them to industry and to oil field workers,” Fontenot explained. “The reason they chose Evangeline Parish is because we are located right in the midst of all this.”
Switching to tourism, Fontenot talked to the Rotary Club about work in Chicot Park. “Lieutenant Governor Nungessor has encouraged our state parks to have private entities come into the parks and do something to help the campers whether it’s horse back riding, volleyball, or maybe softball,” Fontenot explained. “I personally would love to see hayrides and music. We need to keep the park because it’s our lifeline.”
Fontenot then announced that the 46th Annual Mamou Cajun Music Festival is set for September 8 and 9. “They’re going to be honoring Reggie Matte,” she said.
Staying on the Mamou front, Fontenot told the Rotary Club that Valerie Cahill “is going to open a Farmer’s Market in Mamou.” She went on to add, “She and Brenda Saucier, our new president of tourism, are working together on getting a Mamou Mardi Gras Museum, which I think is needed because Mardi Gras and Mamou go together.”
The Rotary Club also heard from Rotarian and Superintendant of Evangeline Parish Schools Darwan Lazard. He updated the club on Mamou Principal Liz Chatelain. “She competed with the other principals throughout the state,” he said. “She was in the top nine principals, and she was a finalist for State Principal of the Year. She represented us extremely well, and I think all of us have a lot to be proud of. She continues to do a great job for us at Mamou High School.”
Lazard then thanked everyone who donated items for the French Immersion program. “We have begun those classes, and it’s been a great success,” he said. “The outpouring of the community has just been awesome. We don’t need any more furniture, but we would certainly be delighted if you have any other donations for the French Immersion Program. It’s been a great start thus far.”
In other news, the club heard from Rotarian and Ville Platte Mayor Jennifer Vidrine. “The new Tee-Cotton Bowl uniforms are on display at City Hall for anyone who wants to come preview them before the big game on September 1,” she announced. “Also the little girls’ World Series trophy is at City Hall,” concluded Vidrine.”