Spring brings color, upgrades and activities

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A double decker billboard along I-49 between Shreveport and Natchitoches will feature the glorious tulips that are quickly becoming synonymous with Natchitoches.

By Juanice Gray, jgray@natchitochestimes.com

The launch of the City’s new, interactive website is only days away. The announcement came from Rebecca Blankenbaker at the Natchitoches Historic District Development Commission (NHDDC) meeting Thursday. She said there will be a soft launch Monday, Feb. 25. Following on the heels of the site launch will be implementation of the interactive widget in early March. Both will have educational and informational materials to assist users.

The widget will have the ability to combine information from the calendars of six city based websites, such as the Chamber of Commerce, NSU and the Tourist Commission, into one comprehensive calendar on the City’s site. Blankenbaker said not only will the widget pull information from these calendars, it will push the information into the City’s calendar creating a one-stop place for all things Natchitoches.

The events listed on the calendar will be geared toward both visitors and residents. Widget users will have the option to receive push notifications as the calendar updates.

NHDDC Chairman Van Erikson updated members on the bikeshare endeavor. He said over 130 surveys were taken from NSU students and over 500 from the public following community meetings in January. The surveys overwhelmingly supported a docking station style bikeshare program. Bikes can be checked out, ridden and returned to the dock utilizing an app. Organizers will return in March for another community meeting. Erikson said the bikeshare organizers are working closely with the developers of the city’s bike/pedestrian master plan. “It (bikeshare) could be implemented by June or July. The master plan, which involves DOTD and much more data, will take about a year and a half to complete,” he said.

The Commission discussed possible events for the summer months. Secretary Carrie Hough said the St. Mary’s Spring Fling would be May 4 on the riverbank and would include family oriented activities, zip lines the length of the riverbank (not across the water), entertainment and a rubber duck rally on Cane River.

Blankenbaker, the Cane River National Heritage Area’s Executive Director, said they will host a Pioneer Festival April 27. Attractions will include a petting zoo, a bike ride in partnership with Bike Natchitoches and a 2K kids run.

Gayle Howell told members the annual Melrose Arts and Crafts Festival will exhibit student artwork this year. Artwork will be displayed in the barn during the event the first weekend in April.

Cane River Waterway Commission representative Jim Rhodes said dredging Cane River, starting from the Church Street Bridge, in in the works. They are looking at a dredging process of 60 feet wide by 12 feet deep so no structures, including boat houses and decks, will not be affected.

Members also discussed the probability of renewing the contract for seven double sided digital billboards in Shreveport. In addition, the double-decker billboard on I-49 between Shreveport and Natchitoches will get a new look featuring the new logo and beautiful, and eye catching, tulips.

Widget- an application, or a component of an interface, that enables a user to perform a function or access a service.