Finance chairman likes local projects

By Ken Grissom

t_news@bellsouth.net

ST. MARTINVILLE – Several parish projects, including the RV park here and a camp for the handicapped at Catahoula, became bright blips on the state radar with a visit from the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Monday.

Sen. Mike Michot of Lafayette was ushered around the area by state Rep. Fred Mills of Breaux Bridge and Parish President Guy Cormier.

The Office of State Parks also had people on hand to present plans for a $3.7 million addition of RV facilities to the Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site and the $40 million Camp Atchafalaya on state-owned property at Catahoula.

Michot also visited with Henderson Mayor Sherbin Collette about needs for that community, including sidewalks and an emergency generator for the sewer plant.

St. Martinville Mayor Thomas Nelson said he was encouraged by Michot’s remarks concerning the RV park, which State Parks will place on its wish list for capital outlay funds this year.

“Economic impact is key,” Michot said. “Whatever we can do to grow and expand tourism, I’m all for it.”

SMEDA director Beth Guidry produced statistics showing that St. Martin and the surrounding area is a big draw for tourists, with nearby Lake Fausse Pointe the third most-visited state park and St. Martinville’s Longfellow-Evangeline the second most-visited state historic site.

State Parks would also operate Camp Atchafalaya situated on over 600 acres straddling Catahoula Lake, but the construction funding would probably have to come from a combination of state seed money, federal grants and corporate donations. Department planners revealed a world-class facility that would enable people with all sorts of disabilities to experience the continent’s largest bottomland swamp.

“This would be something great for the entire nation,” Michot said.

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