Regional Training Center gains more support

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The Webster Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau is joining the ranks in supporting the funding of Phase II of the Regional Training Institute at Camp Minden.

Following suit behind the cities of Minden and Springhill, the Webster CVB approved the drafting of a resolution to ask the state and the military to release federal funding for the project.

CVB Chair Jerry Madden said there is nothing about the RTI that wouldn’t help Webster Parish and northwest Louisiana.

“The monies that would be infused into this project, the payroll of the people that are going to be working there, the facilities that will be in use, the services rendered – it’s just a tremendous boost to our economy,” he said. “They’ve got to have a place to stay, and those that are visiting have to have a place to bed down, they have to eat, they have to buy a lot of things, so this is just a win-win for everybody.”

Madden said the Minden Lions Club voted to support the RTI as well.

The resolution that will be drafted will be sent to congressmen, senators, the Louisiana National Guard and to Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office.

If released, the federal funding would allow Phase II of the RTI to begin. Funding was sequestered due to cutbacks in 2009 and the project has been on hold since then.

Phase I, which is already complete, is comprised of the infrastructure (water, plumbing and electric lines) and the central plant (heating and air conditioning). The dining room facility, one classroom building and one dormitory ar complete.

The first phase cost $23.8 million to construct. An additional $77.2 million will be needed to complete phases 2-4. Phase II will include the construction of two administration buildings and two more dormitories.

Each phase builds on what is already there, making it functional until all four phases are complete. Once all four phases are completed, they will be able to function at a larger capacity. Phases III and IV will complete the RTI, with 273,000 square feet of building space on 80 acres, including a motor pool and physical training fields.

The economic impact, according to a 2009 study, would be about $25 million — $9.5 million in tax revenue over a 10-year period, $12 million in the purchase of goods and services, $5 million in operating costs and $8 million in payroll.

Currently, the RTI has the capacity to train 172 soldiers at a time. Upon completion, the RTI will have the capacity to train 538 soldiers per class cycle.

In other tourism news, commission members were given an overview of the 2016 audit by Kristine Cole, of Wise, Martin and Cole, CPAs.

They also approved travel expenses for Johnnye Kennon for conferences and meetings she’s been to and will need to attend before November. Commission members also approved $1,000 each for advertising grants for the 5k run, sponsored by the Junior Service League and the Historic District Christmas Tour of Homes.

In Kennon’s tourism report, she gave totals of how many have visited the tourism website, shares on Facebook on different things, such as the KTBS 3 stories when Rick Rowe was in town to highlight Minden.

The next meeting of the Webster Parish CVB will be Tuesday, Nov. 14.

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