Archive for July, 2021

Ruston-based Company to build $240M Sawmill in Bienville Parish


(RUSTON, LA) Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards, Hunt Forest Products co-owner James D. Hunt and Tolko President and CEO Brad Thorlakson announced that the companies will develop a new $240 million sawmill in Bienville Parish. Resulting from the collaboration of these two companies, the joint venture company will create 130 direct new jobs, with an average salary of $57,400, plus benefits. Louisiana Economic Development (LED) estimates the new sawmill will result in 387 indirect jobs for a total of more than 500 new jobs in North Louisiana. Approximately 300 construction jobs will be created.
Sourcing timber locally, the state-of-the-art sawmill will require approximately 1.3 million tons of wood annually to produce an estimated 320 million board feet of lumber. The facility will be located on approximately 225 acres in Bienville Parish, near the community of Taylor, Louisiana. Construction on the new facility is expected to start in early 2022, with commercial operations starting in early 2023.
“The partnership of Hunt and Tolko is providing tremendous benefits to our state, particularly in the heart of Louisiana’s timber industry,” said Gov. Edwards. “This new facility will be a great economic boost to Louisiana’s Northwest Region, resulting in hundreds of direct and indirect new jobs across the construction, forestry, industrial services and retail sectors of Bienville Parish and beyond.” 
The sawmill in Bienville will be the second project resulting from the collaboration of Hunt Forest Products and Tolko. The two companies partnered to develop a $115 million lumber mill in Urania, Louisiana, in February 2018. Operating under the name LaSalle Lumber Company LLC, the Urania plant has created 120 direct jobs, exceeding the initial plans for 107 new jobs.
“We are excited to be bringing our second high-tech sawmill and the skilled jobs it will provide,” said Hunt. “This sawmill will provide a local outlet for the massive inventory of southern yellow pine that exists in this state. It will boost the local economy, bring a new generation of sawmill technology to this part of the state and provide another such outlet for regional Louisiana timber. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

The new lumber mill will be a foreign direct investment, or FDI, project, as Tolko Industries Ltd. is a 60-year-old, family-owned Canadian forestry company that produces a wide range of forest products for customers around the world. Based in Vernon, British Columbia, Tolko will own a 50 percent share in the mill. Hunt Forest Products, which is based in Ruston, Louisiana, will own the other 50 percent and will manage and operate the mill on a day-to-day basis.
“Our first venture into the United States was in partnership with Hunt Forest Products, a family-owned company like ours, and that has been very successful,” said Thorlakson. “So, we are looking forward to working with the Hunt family again to bring another state-of-the-art sawmill, and jobs, to Louisiana.” 
LED and North Louisiana Economic Partnership (NLEP) began working with Hunt Forest Products and Tolko Industries on a new sawmill in North Louisiana in October 2020. To secure the project, the State of Louisiana offered the companies a competitive incentive package that includes the comprehensive services of LED FastStart® – ranked the No. 1 workforce development program in the nation for the past 11 years. FastStart will work in coordination with Bossier Parish Community College, or BPCC, to build and equip the local workforce with the skills required for the new state-of the-art sawmill. The package also includes a performance-based grant of $2 million, subject to the companies reaching specified investment and payroll benchmarks. The companies are expected to utilize the state’s Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs for the sawmill.
“We are absolutely delighted to hear of the proposed project to develop a new state-of-the-art mill in Bienville Parish,” said President William “Bill” Sims of the Bienville Parish Police Jury. “The Bienville Parish Police Jury will do whatever it takes to encourage economic development in our parish and look forward to a long and prosperous relationship with Hunt Forest Products and Tolko Industries.”
“This new, state-of-the-art sawmill will make a notable impact in Bienville Parish,” said Justyn Dixon, NLEP President and CEO. “Where a strong company chooses to invest speaks highly of that geographic location, and we are proud to serve a community suitable for this great partnership. Hunt Forest Products and Tolko Industries deciding to make this substantial investment and new job creation into North Louisiana solidifies NLEP’s message that our region is a prime location for companies to grow and succeed. We gladly welcome this additional investment to North Louisiana.”
About North Louisiana Economic Partnership
North Louisiana Economic Partnership, an Accredited Economic Development Organization, provides professional economic development services to a 14-parish region of North Louisiana, including lead generation and prospect management. The organization also represents the interests of North Louisiana with a unified voice and as a single point of contact. It acts as a catalyst, a convener, and a connector in the region to ensure that North Louisiana’s economic development potential is realized. Its vision is for North Louisiana to be a thriving region-a destination for high quality talent, innovative companies, and global investment. Visit for more information.
About Hunt Forest Products
Hunt Forest Products L.L.C. is a full service wood products company founded in 1978 with the purpose of providing quality products and superior service.  We manufacture a variety of plywood, lumber, and other specialty wood products, and whatever the specification, we can meet your needs. Hunt Forest Products is a family owned and operated company practicing sustainable forestry, and we are certified by the American Tree Farm System and APA – The Engineered Wood Association. For more information:
About Tolko
Tolko is a leading manufacturer of a wide range of forest products for customers around the world, including lumber, plywood and veneer oriented strand board co-products, biomass power and a growing number of specialty wood products.  For more than 60 years, our family-owned company has delivered reliability, flexibility, efficiency and quality.  We hold third-party certification on the forestlands we sustainably manage in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan and we play an active role in the communities where our employees live and work. For more information:


Police Jury to Hire Financial Manager


The Lincoln Parish Police Jury last night voted to create and advertise for a new staff position, that of Financial Manager. Jury President Richard Durrett asked that the permanent position of Parish Treasurer be left unfilled, and that Laura Hartt continue as a contract internal auditor.

Said Durrett, “This individual will handle the majority of the daily financial management of the jury. The administrator will continue to serve as the interim treasurer.”

The vote was unanimous.

Here is the job description and qualifications.

Durrett also recommended that payroll services be outsourced. Hartt had suggested that a critical task of that nature should have more resources allocated to it.

That vote was also unanimous.

The tax resolution for 2021 property taxes was also passed, but there was one dissenting vote, District Four’s T J Cranford.

Prior to the vote, there was a bit of discussion over how much more money would be collected by the slight increase in rates.

It was estimated that the new rate would collect about $30 thousand/year more than the 2020 rate. That would mean a homeowner with a $200 thousand house would pay about $0.88 more per year, it was said.

The jury passed unanimously a resolution in support of the upcoming Lincoln Parish Library tax vote. That vote is set for Saturday, October 9.

That tax rate is 4.49 mils and is for a ten-year term. The prior tax rate approved in 2010 was for a maximum of 5.99 mils.

Last year, the library’s first attempt to renew the tax at a rate of 5.85 for ten years was defeated 57% to 43%.

During reports, Lincoln Parish Homeland Security Director Kip Franklin updated the jury on the status of the various FEMA grants and awards.

See here the report.

The Public Works Committee approved a revised animal control ordinance. LPSO Deputy Rob Sasser was on hand to answer questions.

Sasser had made a presentation to the jury last January.

City Keeps Millage Rate Same as Prior Year


Ruston’s Board of Aldermen last night approved an ordinance levying property taxes for tax year 2021 that is at the same rate as tax year 2020.

A 5.19 mil tax is dedicated to general operating needs, and a 2.89 mil tax is dedicated to the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

City Clerk Julie Speir said that the general operating tax brings in about $1 million/year, while the RPAR tax takes in about $560 thousand.

Said Speir, “Without rolling either millage forward, we anticipate modest growth, based on new properties coming on to the tax rolls.

The council also introduced an ordinance amending the criminal code relating to the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Recent legislation signed into law by Gov. Bel Edwards and effective 8/1/2021 makes possession of less than 14 grams of cannabis is punishable by a $100 fine and no threat of jail time for the first and every subsequent offense. Possession of more than 14 grams still carries harsh penalties.

Mayor Ronny Walker said that the proposed amendment will align city ordinances with the new state law.

School Board Meets Tonight


The Lincoln Parish School Board will meet tonight (Tuesday, July 13), 6:00 PM, Central Office, 410 South Farmerville Street.

Here is the agenda.

Notable agenda items include:

  • A lengthy personnel report. See here the list.
  • Millage rates for 2021. There are some increases and some decreases. See here the memo.
  • Purchase of the Ruston High School Baseball field from the City of Ruston. A negotiated price for the 5.44 acre tract is listed as $1,050,000.00. See here the memo.

Police Jury to Hike Taxes, Slightly


The Lincoln Parish Police Jury will tomorrow night hold a public hearing for input prior to voting to set the property tax millage rates for 2021.

For 2020, the millage rates were 1.67 and 3.35 for “general alimony,” or for any purpose the jury may choose; and two millages of 4.39 each for roads and bridges.

See here the document.

The new proposed rates are 1.68, 3.37, 4.41, and 4.41.

See here the document.

For 2019, the rates were 1.67, 3.37, 4.41, and 4.41.

See here the document.

Also, tomorrow night’s meeting will be held at the jury’s conference room on the third floor of the Lincoln Parish Court House. This the first time since spring, 2020 that the jury will have met at that location.

Here are the agendas:

Public Works Committee – 6:30 PM

Police Jury – 7:00 PM

Ruston City Council Monday


Ruston’s Board of Aldermen will meet Monday, July 12, 5:30 PM, Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton.

Here is the agenda.

Another Destin Junket Upcoming


The Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association will hold the 2021 Louisiana Sheriffs’ and Wardens’ Annual Conference  scheduled for July 25-29, 2021 in Destin, Florida at the San Destin Hilton. Any questions, please call 225.343.8402.

Meanwhile, later today:

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – Louisiana’s top law enforcement leaders are scheduled to hold a news conference at 1 p.m. on Thursday, July 8 to speak in opposition to the proposal for state legislators to convene for a special session and override Gov. John Bel Edwards’ veto of Senate Bill 118 (SB 118).

The bill, which Gov. Edwards vetoed on June 24, proposed to allow Louisiana residents 21 and older to carry a concealed carry weapon without a permit.

Louisiana’s top law enforcement leaders support the governor’s veto of SB 118.

On Thursday, police chiefs and sheriffs say they will discuss how if the legislature overrides the governor’s veto, it will lead to “more dangerous crimes throughout communities.”