‘Believe’ drama camp returning to Bogalusa

Published 5:46 am Friday, May 5, 2017

The Bogalusa City Council meeting truly got under way after a Carnegie Medal was awarded to Leyton Page for his heroic actions in 2015.

First up was guest speaker Bruce Sampson, who said he was a product of Bogalusa High School, and that after touring the world with the Young Americans, he created his performing arts Believe Summer Camp Experience for his hometown. Now the camp, which brings in professional performers from across the country, is in its fourth year.

Sampson stressed that the camp is not primarily about singing, dancing and acting, although those with talent in any of those fields would be pushed to a new level by the instructors. He noted that the goal is more about using the performing arts to “build youth up,” and to give them confidence and a sense of unity.

“We want them all,” he said. “They learn life lessons through this program. We inspire teaching moments. It’s about building confidence and building unity. And there’s something special about being back here.”

Sampson then shared a story about one young camper who told him, “I think we did change the world!”

The council next unanimously approved a resolution of a municipal water pollution prevention environmental report that stated the necessary actions were set forth to maintain permit requirements. Council members Brian McCree and Sherry Fortenberry were absent.

Four ordinances were also unanimously approved by those in attendance. The first ordinance authorized the mayor to enter into a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with District A Neighborhood Association to reopen and operate the Poplas Recreation Center.

Larry Brown, District A Neighborhood Association director, said his group was already working to gain supporters, gather donations, and to get grants. He stressed that the Recreation Center would not be for only the youth of District A.

“It will be for everyone,” Brown said.

Another Cooperative Endeavor Agreement was approved to join with Project Save Bogalusa on adjudicated, blighted properties throughout the city.

Wendy Williams, founder, said Project Save Bogalusa was started in 2007 as a grassroots effort to spur and foster community revitalization. She said the registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization recently received its CHDO Certification from the Louisiana Housing Corporation, following HUD guidelines, to become a Community Housing Development Organization.

“It is a proven fact that signs of physical disorder invite social disorder,” Williams said. “Poverty, blight, drugs and criminal activity are a vicious cycle that work hand in hand. We must improve the physical conditions before we can expect change to follow.

“And Project Save Bogalusa has changed its name to Bogalusa Rebirth,” she said.

“We want you to help rebirth Bogalusa,” Williams added.

After considerable public and council discussion, primarily concerning fairness to the original property owners and whether or not Bogalusa residents would get first dibs on the restored properties, all were satisfied, and the council approved the ordinance.

A third ordinance authorized the mayor to enter into a contract with NCMC, LLC, the successful low bidder for FY2016 Water Distribution Improvements with regard to water lines in Richardsontown. And the fourth amended and superseded two prior ordinances involving road transfers — Avenue F in 2013, and East Sixth Street in January of 2014.

The council also introduced two ordinances that will be up for public discussion at the next meeting on Tuesday, May 16. Both involve rezoning requests. The first asks for a change from A-1 Residential to B-Transition at 523 Georgia Ave. The second asks for a change from A-1 Residential to an A-2 Residential at 1401 S. Columbia St.