Community History

Events and Stories to Impact the West Bank in 2017

Here are some of the stories and events to impact the West Bank in 2017:

Gretna Heritage Festival draws record crowds

With one of its best lineups yet, the Gretna Heritage Festival was a huge success drawing over 100,000 spectators to the annual festival held the first weekend in October. The festival which enjoys broad support across the West Bank is establishing itself as a prominent local festival drawing crowds from distances beyond southeast Louisiana.

Lafitte opens new Seafood Pavilion

his past July, Mayor Tim Kerner and the Town Council dedicated the Jules Nunez Seafood Pavilion and AJ & Sheron Fabre Market in Lafitte. The Pavilion host regularly scheduled events including movie nights. Local fishermen offer their catch for sale at scheduled market events. Check the Town of Jean Lafitte website for a 2018 calendar of events.

Sears closes at Oakwood Center

After decades in business and claiming the title as one of the first department stores on the West Bank, Sears announced in January 2017 the closing of the Oakwood Center location. The closing is part of a trend nationally that has impacted brick and mortar retail. Additional store closings nationwide have been announced already in 2018. The national trend for shoppers to rely on Internet sites for purchases is placing a tremendous strain on retail across the country. This is resulting in vacant buildings, lost jobs, and lost tax revenue for state and local governments. Something to keep in mind when you make that next purchase.

Congressman Steve Scalise wounded in shooting outside of Washington DC

On June 14, 2017, in Alexandria, Virginia, Republican member of Congress and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana was shot while practicing for the annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity, scheduled for the following day. Congressman Scalise represents a large part of the West Bank. Surprising many, Congressman Scalise returned to his duties prior to years end following extensive rehab.

LA DOTD completes extensive repairs to the 4th Street Bridge

Following decades of unaddressed mechanical and cosmetic issues, the Louisiana Department of Transportation completed extensive repairs to the 4th Street Bridge in November 2017. The multi-million-dollar project will ensure this is a more reliable route for motorist that were often left wondering if the bridge was open or closed.

New owners purchase the former Avondale Shipyard property in Avondale

It was announced in early August 2017 that Huntington Ingalls had sold the site formerly known as Avondale Shipyard. Few details have emerged since the sale. However, the transaction has many West Bankers hopeful the site will be placed back into commerce.

Sheriff Newell Normand retires and hits the airwaves at WWL 870AM

In July 2017, Newell Normand made the surprise announcement that following 40 years in law enforcement he would be trading his badge and gun in for a microphone. Normand announced at a press conference just before the start of the International Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo that he would be replacing Garland Robinette as the daytime host at WWL Radio. Veteran law enforcement officer and former Chair of the House Criminal Justice Committee Joe Lopinto was named as interim Sheriff with an election set for March 2018 to name the permanent replacement for Normand.

Longtime Jefferson Parish School Board Member Ray St. Pierre passes away

In late July 2017, longtime Jefferson Parish School Board Member Ray St. Pierre passed away at the age of 78, following a long battle with cancer. Mr. St. Pierre a championship football coach, teacher, and administrator was well liked across the West Bank community. First elected to the School Board in 1998, Mr. St. Pierre went on to serve as the board President and Vice President during his nearly two decades of service. The Jefferson Parish School Board recently renamed Marrero Academy the Ray St. Pierre Academy for Advanced Studies in his honor. Tiffany Higgins Kuhn would go on to be named the interim school board member and ultimately elected to the position unopposed in January 2018.

About the author

The West Bank Beacon

The West Bank Beacon is a local monthly publication with a mailed circulation of over 15,000 and thousands more distributed at points from Gretna to Grand Isle, the Beacon tells the story of a thriving community. A “good news” newspaper, our mission is to make readers aware of how both individuals and groups are making a positive difference in the neighborhoods where they live. This includes a focus on civic and city initiatives, volunteer efforts, and charity fundraisers, to name just a few examples.

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