Hold onto your hats, fall to arrive amid flurry of activity


By Juanice Gray, jgray@natchitochestimes.com

The Natchitoches Historic District Development Commission, NHDDC, is preparing to finalize the new logo within the next week or so. The first logo, with the tagline Historically Brighter, met with dissent from the public.

The logo was scratched and the NHDDC started over with input from the public on how best to promote Natchitoches.

Commission president Van Erikson said over 1,300 potential students participated in Freshman Connection at NSU this summer. “That is a good indicator that enrollment is up,” he said. Move in day is Saturday, Aug. 18, traditionally a time where students get settled into their dorm or off campus housing. It brings an influx of parents and family that sometimes number in excess of 1,000 filling hotels and restaurants.

Fall semester classes start Monday, Aug. 20.

The NSU-Grady Erwin Nature Trails and study area are almost complete. A final walk-through was planned for Friday, July 20. The three trails wind through wooded areas kept natural with tree borders and dirt paths. Loops A and B are 1 mile and Loop C is 2.5 miles. The trails are open to pedestrians and bicyclists. Access is through the National Forest District Office (the old fire tower) on Hwy 6 just before MidSouth and BOM banks when coming from Natchitoches. Drive into the parking lot and the trails are to the left. Erikson said signage will soon be in place outlining facts and history of the area.

The former Neebo store on University Drive will become University Bookstore and a Chick-fil-A restaurant. The parking lot in the foreground is for Watson Library and Cafe DeMon. Both projects are set for completion before the onset of fall classes. Photo by Juanice Gray

Erikson also said the new bookstore and Chick-Fil-A on University Parkway, as well as the parking lot in front of Watson Library are slated to open before the onset of fall classes.

A new event is coming to Cane River Lake, the first St. Denis Regatta is scheduled for Oct. 6. Rowing teams will race in the lake and end in the Downtown Area. The Cane River Waterway Commission purchased mile marker buoys. The event coincides with NSU Family Day.

Historic District Business Association (HDBA) president Sandra Dickens said the car show, Sept. 28-29, is already gaining interest. The HDBA will purchase replacement flags since eight were removed during last year’s event. Cars manufactured prior to 1988 will be allowed to show.

“The Christmas Festival received a donation,” Dickens said. “It will be used to replace the old nativity set piece.” Dickens also said contracts were to be signed Thursday with KTBS Channel 3 for their coverage of the festival. Festival brochures will be placed in Tyler, Texas, Lafayette and Baton Rouge this year in addition to already established locations. “Watch Channel 3, for St. Judes, Aug. 12. Natchitoches will have ads running at the rate of two per hour,” she said.

National Park System Ranger Carrie Mardorf said they are partnering with the Heritage Area to launch the Harvest Festival this fall. The event will coincide with NSU Homecoming weekend. Mardorf said DOTD closed a portion of the roadway directly in front of Magnolia Plantation due to instability under the asphalt. “The entrance on Hwy 1 is open to provide access,” she said. DOTD did not provide a date for the road to reopen.

Janna Jenkins, Main Street Manager, said the final day for the Farmer’s Market is July 28. The Zydeco Festival will be Labor Day weekend. “There will be new activities,” Jenkins said. She also said the Natchitoches Main Street program was selected for a case study of successful Main Streets, the only one in Louisiana chosen.

Jenkins said the comprehensive citywide website is in the design phase. “We got a first look and sent back our critiques. It will be done by the end of September.”

City Chief of Staff Edd Lee said that while the riverbank appears to be complete, there are a few details still being tended to. They include placing the time capsule, installing the permanent, lighted handrails to the stairs across from the Landing and some additional sodding. Many have noticed the wall at the landing in front of Kaffie Fredericks has been cut down. That process is almost complete. The St. Denis Street project should be complete by mid-September. “We didn’t know what we’d find beneath the concrete and we have found some surprises that have slowed it up some,” Lee said.

Progress is being made on the City Park restrooms. Photo by Hannah Richardson

Construction of restrooms at City Park is progressing, albeit slowly. “The roof is up and the walls. We still have to complete the interior,” he said. “We are doing the work internally and the crews are getting pulled to tend to other city projects.”