Effort underway to gain state funding for Jeff Davis outreach center

By By Doris Maricle / American Press

JENNINGS — A new outreach center for youth and adults could become a reality if supporters are successful in securing state

funding for the project.

Jeff Davis Parish Police Juror Milford Reed Jr. said the group is seeking $700,000 from the state’s capital outlay funds to

help renovate the former James Ward Elementary School to house the James Ward Outreach Center.

Additional revenues from grants, fundraisers and donations would provide funding for programs and operations, Reed said.

The center would provide after-school tutoring and recreation programs for youths, as well as adult programs to include job

training, Reed said.

Under the plan, the ASSIST Agency would operate the program with help from volunteers, Reed said.

“The ASSIST Agency will have volunteers and different organizations like Sowela and the Police Department to help young people

in the community,” Reed said.

The old school, on Wilbert D. Rochelle Avenue, has been closed since 2006 when James Ward Elementary was relocated to the

former Jennings Elementary on Shankland Avenue.

The Jeff Davis Parish School Board has agreed to a 30-year lease at $1 per year for the property.

The center would target children and teens by providing after-school and summer educational and recreational programs. Some

adult programs focusing on job training would also be offered.

“Our goal is to provide after-school programs like tutoring for at-risk students in the community to help keep them off the

streets and the crime rate down,” Reed said. “It can do so much for our community as we expand.”

Another goal of the center would be to provide summer feeding programs for children, Reed said. Organizers also hope to locate

a police substation in the center. “We want the youth to know that police officers are friendly guys,” Reed said.

The Police Jury approved a resolution Wednesday to support the ASSIST Agency as lead agency for the center and to seek state

funding for renovations. Similar resolutions are being considered by the School Board and Jennings City Council.