Archive for the ‘City of Ruston’ Category

Ruston Sports Complex Sees Massive Cost Increase Over Estimate

09/21/2017

The just-contracted Ruston Sports Complex that is to be built over the next two years off South Farmerville Street will cost more than double the original estimate that was sold to the voters.

Earlier this month, a $35.2 million contract was approved by the city’s Board of Aldermen to construct the facility.

When the “Moving Ruston Forward” plan was approved by the council in February, 2016, the estimated cost of the facility was said to be $15 million. The plan, along with a 3/4 cent sales tax increase to pay for it, was approved by Ruston voters in an April, 2016 election.

See here the “Moving Ruston Forward” presentation, page 25.

The construction contract does not include the cost of acquiring property for the facility. It is unclear where the money will come from for the additional cost, or what other infrastructure improvements might be left undone.

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$35 Million Contract for Ruston Sports Complex Approved

09/12/2017

Womack & Sons, a Harrisonburg, LA construction company, was awarded a $35.2 million contract for the construction of the new sports complex on South Farmerville Street.

Ruston’s Board of Aldermen approved the action at last night’s regular monthly meeting.

Public Works Director Darrell Caraway told the board that five bids were received, and that the project was expected to take 425 working days.

Yeager, Watson & Associates is the project architect.

The council also approved an ordinance creating the Cooktown Road Economic Development District, a 15 1/2 acre area that is to be commercially developed. It is located at the northwest corner of Cooktown Road and the I-20 North Service Road (Woodward Avenue).

Asked during the public hearing what kind of public infrastructure improvements are planned, Mayor Ronny Walker said that street and sewage improvements are contemplated. The existing sewage lift station will be upgraded to handle the commercial development, Walker noted.

Finally, several sewer improvement projects were approved, which will allow the streets to be repaved afterward. Listed were: University, Western, Georgia, Maryland, Monroe, Lee, Arlington, and Second.

Ruston Board of Aldermen to Meet Monday

09/10/2017

Ruston’s Board of Aldermen will meet Monday, September 11, 5:30 PM, Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton.

Here is the agenda.

Ruston Native Wins National Travel Award

08/29/2017

Edmiston

LOUISIANA OFFICE OF TOURISM ASSISTANT SECRETARY KYLE EDMISTON NAMED NATIONAL STATE TOURISM DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR FOR 2017

BATON ROUGE, La. – The U.S. Travel Association named Louisiana Office of Tourism Assistant Secretary Kyle Edmiston their State Tourism Director of the Year for 2017 during the annual Education Seminar for Tourism Organizations (ESTO) conference held this year in Minneapolis, MN. ESTO is the premier annual professional development gathering for destination marketing professionals.

“It’s no surprise Kyle received this prestigious award,” said Louisiana Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser. “Five years of record-breaking visitation numbers to Louisiana and new, exciting initiatives rolled out to increase the visitor’s experience are just a few reasons this award is well-deserved. I also want to applaud our tourism staff, travel partners, and the U.S. Travel Association for working with us to attract new and returning visitors to get that unique, authentic Louisiana experience.”

“Louisiana tourism numbers are stronger than ever thanks to Kyle and his team at the Louisiana Office of Tourism, and this award is an acknowledgement of his years of outstanding work and commitment to our industry,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “Kyle’s forward thinking commitment to increasing international and out-of-state visitation to Louisiana has done wonders for the state’s economy. Quite simply, he is proof that state tourism promotion works. Kyle’s incredibly effective advocacy for travel to Louisiana has greatly benefited not just the people of Louisiana, but the entire southern region and our nation’s economy as a whole.”

In his role as Assistant Secretary, Edmiston oversees the Louisiana Office of Tourism’s promotion, marketing, and selling the state as a desired travel destination to domestic and international visitors. Under Edmiston’s oversight, Louisiana has seen record-breaking numbers each year for visitation, spending, and tax revenue generated for the state. Since 2012, the number of visitors to Louisiana has doubled, from 24.3 million in 2012 to 46.7 million in 2016. During that same time, visitor spending increased from $10.1 billion to $16.8 billion and annual tax revenue generated for Louisiana increased from $719 million to $1.04 billion.

Edmiston was instrumental in bringing a renewed focus on the international traveler, leading to an increase of 36 percent in international visitation in 2015, the second-highest of any state. Additionally, Edmiston worked tirelessly to bring the U.S. Travel Association’s premier travel marketplace, IPW, to New Orleans in 2016. As part of the events for IPW, he worked with CVBs and travel partners around the state to coordinate seven familiarization trips for tour operators and media reaching every corner of Louisiana.

To further promote and increase international visitation to Louisiana, Edmiston collaborated with a team of industry influencers to land new, direct air service into New Orleans. In March 2017, British Airways began direct service four days a week from London’s Heathrow Airport to Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans. Starting in November, British Airways will increase service to five days a week. Then, in May 2017, Condor Airlines began flying seasonal flights, May through September, from Frankfurt, Germany, to New Orleans. This new air service are the first direct flights from Europe to fly to New Orleans since being suspended following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Also under Edminston’s leadership, the Louisiana Office of Tourism received six national awards including: State Tourism Office of the Year; a Gold Adrian Award in Digital Marketing Excellence for Destination Recipe Video Series; three Mercury Awards for Best Travel Website, Best Social Media Campaign and Judges’ Choice for Best Overall Campaign for Destination Recipe Video Series; and an American Advertising Award—Judges’ Choice Digital Marketing for Louisiana Libations.

On a national level, Edmiston is the immediate past chairman for Travel South USA’s board of directors and serves on the board of directors for Brand USA and the Southeast Tourism Society. He also serves on U.S. Travel Association’s board of directors executive committee.

“Kyle has been the ultimate state partner for New Orleans. Never before have we had so many joint partnerships, international successes, and such a united approach to presenting and innovatively marketing New Orleans and Louisiana together to the world. No one has ever been as deserving of an award as this recognition of Kyle,” said New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Stephen Perry.

Mark Romig, Chairman of the Louisiana Travel Promotion Association Board and President and CEO of New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp., praised Kyle for his accomplishments and successes. “We could not be more proud of Kyle and his accomplishments. He is one of the first state directors to partner Brand USA with our fellow Louisiana DMOs to create a cooperative international marketing effort which, in one year, increased our international business 34 percent! In the five years since Kyle has led the Office of Tourism under the direction of the Lieutenant Governor, Louisiana has set new records each year for visitation, economic impact and state tax revenue generated. As you know, that’s not an easy feat in today’s economic environment, and our year ahead looks even more promising.”

“The growth our Louisiana tourism industry has seen is nothing short of remarkable and has come as a direct result of Kyle’s leadership, creativity and desire to create strong, lasting partnerships in both domestic and international marketing,” said Jill Kidder, President and CEO of the Louisiana Travel Promotion Association. “In his more than five years in the leadership role, the Louisiana Office of Tourism has steadily set new records, including a nearly 45 percent growth in state tax revenue generated by the industry. These significant accomplishments under Kyle’s leadership have raised the profile of Louisiana’s tourism industry in the eyes of our elected officials and continue to successfully communicate the industry’s strong return on investment.”

“Kyle has played an important and major role in leading the State’s tourism efforts and promoting Louisiana as the culinary and cultural destination. We wouldn’t be where we are today without his expertise and we look forward to working together with him on many more endeavors.” Paul J. Arrigo, CDME, Visit Baton Rouge President and CEO.

“Kyle is a tremendous leader in Tourism and I am proud to call him my friend. He has great vision, and relationships across the country which benefit us all,” said Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission President and CEO Ben Berthelot. “Most importantly, he always answers the phone when I and colleagues across the state call, which is most appreciated. All of us in Lafayette, the Happiest City in America, congratulate him on this well-deserved honor.”

“Assistant Secretary Kyle Edmiston has a heart for promoting everything that is unique in Louisiana. He consistently reaches out to tourism partners across Louisiana and creates programs and partnerships to bring out the best of who we are as a state,” said Shelley Johnson, executive director of the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau.

A native of Ruston, LA, and graduate of Louisiana Tech University, Edmiston served as Director of Alumni Relations at Louisiana Tech and President and CEO of the Ruston-Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau, where he led efforts increase visitation to Ruston and Lincoln Parish.

“Kyle could not be more deserving of this honor. He has been a friend and mentor to me for about 15 years, dating back to his pre-tourism days. His rise within the industry has been fascinating, and is a testament to his passion for travel and tourism. His display of industry knowledge and unending desire to not be satisfied with the status quo make him respected industry wide,” said Travis Napper, President and CEO of Ruston-Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“This award speaks to the leader that Kyle has been for Louisiana’s tourism industry. I had the pleasure of working with Kyle while he was President and CEO of the Ruston Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau, and I saw his dedication to our industry every single day,” said Timothy Bush, President and CEO of Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou. “Since becoming the Assistant Secretary, he has continued to be a strong advocate and positive voice for promoting Louisiana and all that it has to offer. Kyle is a shining example of an industry leader. I’m very proud to call him a friend and mentor.”

A panel of state and U.S. territory tourism directors nominate candidates for State Tourism Director of the Year. Three finalists are then selected by ballot. The U.S. Travel Association’s National Council of State Tourism Directors votes on the award prior to ESTO.

Mays Rape Conviction Upheld by 2nd Circuit

08/16/2017

Louisiana’s Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, in Shreveport, this morning affirmed the April, 2016 conviction of Cameron Mays for the June, 2012 rape and kidnapping of a Lousiana Tech University coed.

Wrote Judge Harmon Drew:

The evidence in this horrific case is overwhelming. Each of the three convictions is amply supported by this record, including, inter alia:

–  the victim’s testimony;
– the defendant’s fingerprints found on the condom wrapper;
–  the DNA evidence;
– his admission to his cousin that he had sex with the victim;
–  and his inculpatory words overheard by Ms. Daye.

While the record indicates that a second intruder was present, S.K. testified that only one man raped her, drove with her, and twice held a gun to her head.

Mays still faces a murder charge for the killing of Susan Hashway, who was found dead in her Paynter Drive home several days after the rape and kidnapping.

See here the court’s ruling.

Ruston Dentist Not Guilty of Insider Stock Trading

08/10/2017

Ruston dentist acquitted of insider trading related to sale of Shaw Group in Baton Rouge

BY JOE GYAN JR. | jgyan@theadvocate.com Aug 10, 2017 – 4:15 pm

A Ruston dentist whose brother-in-law worked at the Shaw Group was acquitted Thursday on federal insider trader charges relating to the 2012 announcement that Shaw was being acquired by CB&I.

Jesse H. Roberts III was found not guilty on one count each of securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud. He did not testify in his own defense.

Federal prosecutors had alleged that Roberts reaped a $700,000 profit from confidential information allegedly provided by his brother-in-law, Scott David Zeringue.

Zeringue was vice president of construction operations for Shaw when he claims to have passed confidential information to Roberts in July 2012 about the impending sale of the Baton Rouge-based engineering and construction firm.

Roberts’ attorneys claim information about the planned sale of Shaw to Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. had been leaking out and that Roberts, an experienced trader, used information available to the public to invest in Shaw stock options and hit it big.

Roberts allegedly told another Ruston resident, Billy J. Adcox Jr., about the information he received from Zeringue. Adcox was indicted in 2015 and is awaiting trial, accused of turning a $37,000 profit from his alleged insider trading activities.

Cooktown Road Development Hearing Set

08/08/2017

A public hearing has been set for Monday, September 11 on an ordinance creating the Cooktown Road Economic Development District. That date is the regularly scheduled September meeting of Ruston’s Board of Aldermen.

The ordinance was introduced at last night’s council meeting.

There was a bit of public comment by Cooktown Road resident Robert Sauber, after a companion resolution to the ordinance was put on the table for discussion.

Sauber said the quality of life has been diminished in the neighborhood because of the increased business development and attendant traffic.

“Isn’t there somewhere else in Ruston they can develop, rather than just on Cooktown Road?”

Mayor Ronny Walker said that anytime the city has growth, there are traffic issues, but they try to improve traffic flow when that occurs. He added that there was other new development, notably on the east side of Ruston with the service road extension to Rough Edge Road.

“We try to address those as quickly as we can; that’s the reason we added that turn lane, (on Cooktown Road)” Walker said.

Sauber was an unsuccessful candidate for Mayor in 2010 against incumbent Dan Hollingsworth.

In other business, the council approved rezoning a 28 acre tract on South Barnett Springs Street to allow development of single-family houses on smaller lots. The lot size requirement was reduced from 25 thousand square feet (just over 1/2 acre) to 10 thousand (just under 1/4 acre).

Mayor Walker also announced that the Dixie Youth Baseball League World Series will be coming to Ruston in the summer of 2019. The new sports complex is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018.

See here the announcement.

Half Cent Sales Tax to Fund Cooktown Road Development District

08/04/2017

Cooktown Road Economic Development District

Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker’s administration is proposing creation of an economic development district at the northwest corner of Cooktown Road (LA 544) and Woodward Avenue (1-20 North Service Road).

The matter was mentioned at the July meeting of the city’s Board of Aldermen.

Along with the district, an additional half-cent sales tax would be levied for the purpose of “financing economic development projects located within the district,” and “to pay the costs of infrastructure improvements outside the district that benefit property in the District.”

Presumably, the tax would be levied on purchases made at businesses that locate within the new district.

See here the proposed resolution and the proposed ordinance.

The two proposals will be considered at next Monday’s meeting of the council.

See here the agenda.

The meeting is set for 5:30, Monday, August 7, at Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton.

Cooktown Rd/I-20 Development Proposed

07/11/2017

An unnamed entity is proposing a retail development at the northwest corner of Cooktown Road and Interstate 20, and wants the City of Ruston to participate in public infrastructure improvements in connection with the project, it was revealed at last night’s meeting of the city’s Board of Aldermen. The council voted unanimously to permit Mayor Ronny Walker to negotiate with the developer on those improvements, and report back to the council prior to any agreement.

The developer was not named.

Said Alderman Bruce Siegmund (Ward 5), “Mayor, you know people are going to want to know is this the long-rumored Target that’s coming to town, so I have to ask the question.”

Walker deferred to Economic Development Director Kristi Lumpkin, who had no comment on what was in store for the 20 acre parcel.

The council also approved an agreement with Resource Development Associates, Inc. for consulting services related to the recreational complex. The consultant will develop plans and procedures on operation of the complex, and would likely take up to a year and a half to complete.

An agreement with Stantec Consulting Services, Inc. was approved to begin conceptual layout design and presentation materials for an interchange at Rough Edge Road and Interstate 20. The existing overpass is located about 2 miles east of the Farmerville Road (LA Hwy 33) exit.

Tarbutton Interchange Contract Let to Company with Local Roots

06/12/2017

June 7, 2017

JB James Construction wins Interstate 20 Interchange Project – Jeff James to complete project originally built by father

BATON ROUGE, La. — JB James Construction, LLC, was recently awarded the Interstate 20 Interchange and Frontage Road project by the City of Ruston and Louisiana Department of Transportation. Located at Tarbutton Road on I-20, the two-year $25.5 million project consists of new on and off ramps, and replacement of the existing Tarbutton Road overpass bridge. The new exit will give access to the Ruston Junior High School, Louisiana Tech, as well as several large churches, restaurants and retail, which are located just off of I-20.

In addition providing work for JB James construction, this project also has a personal connection to Jeff James, the president and owner of JB James.

The section of I-20 between Ruston and Grambling and the existing Tarbutton overpass was built in 1959 by TL James and Company, the company started by James’ great grandfather. The project manager at that time was James’ father, Billy James. The president of the company was Bill James, James’ grandfather.

Nearly 35 years later, Jeff James was the project manager when the interstate was replaced by Denton Construction.

“This project means a lot to me,” Jeff James, President of JB James, said. “My father told stories to me about the original construction of the Interstate. It is special that the legacy of the TL James family continues today as we leave our mark by constructing such important projects for the community.”

With this project, James also plans to uphold the family tradition of building quality projects. The old bridge lasted 58 years, much longer than expected.

“The interstate pavement replaced in the early 1990s is some of the smoothest pavements in service at its age,” James said.

Approximately 30 JB James employees will work on the bridge and paving for the “Diamond” designed interchange. Other components of the project will be subcontracted to several other Louisiana companies. The company will also be hiring roughly 30 locals from the Ruston area.

In addition to this win, JB James is also celebrating its 15th anniversary in business. Over the past 15 years, JB James has grown from one employee to more than 200 employees across the state. To find out more about JB James, visit jbjamesllc.com.