Welsh residents united to form community renewal team

By By Doris Maricle / American Press

WELSH — Torn apart by rampant drug trafficking, a profound mistrust of law enforcement and a racial divide that splits the town, residents of Welsh

united Tuesday to form a community renewal team to address these issues.

Mayor Carolyn Louviere, the Rev. Nathan Stevens and resident Jim Wright were appointed to assemble the 15-18 member team.

“I am very excited about the energy

that existed here,” consultant Bill Furlow said of the public meeting.

“The spirit, cooperation

and desire to work together to solve the problems is quite amazing

to me.”

More than 70 concerned residents attended the nearly two hour-long meeting to voice their concerns.

“Welsh is still the same little town it has always been, but we need to grasp and hold on to it,” one concerned resident said.

“We need to step up and face these problems head on and bring our town back.”

Mayor Carolyn Louviere said the meeting was a step in the right direction.

“I think it was a very positive meeting because people opened up and said how they really felt,”  Louviere said after the

meeting. “I think we all want the same goal and it is a matter now of carrying it out.”

Resident Monica Victorian said the problems that exist in Welsh now have been there for years.

“We need to work together to get rid of them, but first we need an open mind,” she said.

Victorian said residents often view things, including sections of the town as “black and white.” Another resident said the

town is racially divided by the railroad tracks.

Alderman Allen Ardoin said the increase in crimes is affecting everyone in all parts of the town.

“Our community is in shock and denial,”  he said. “Shock that we use to leave the screen doors unlocked and denial because

the problem is not a black and white issue. It is all over town.”

Many in the community are optimistic with the election of a new police chief, Wright said.

“A new police chief will make a big

difference, but he’s not the end of our journey,” he said. “He is the

beginning. If this

is going to be our community, we have to hold our officials to the

promises they made for us and play a role in making sure

our community is safe for us.”

He urged residents to stand up to criminals.

“We need to take the opportunity to work together,” the Rev. Betty McGehee said. “Welsh is not a two community town. It’s

a multi-community town and we don’t know how to blend these two communities and create a new multi-culture community that

everybody is willing to participate in.”

Louise Jackson, whose son was murdered, said the problem is with drugs. She said family and friends of those involved in drugs

and the killings are helping cover up the crimes.

Others voiced concerns of fear in reporting crimes saying police often tell criminals who are reporting the crimes.

“If you call and report it, they (police) want to know your name and address,” one man said. “It puts fear back in it. If

you call and say something, they know who called.”

One resident said the public needs to lose their fear and learn to trust police.

Another resident said if police could solve at least one of the murders, then people would trust them more.

Stevens said police need to become more visible in neighborhoods.

“We can’t eliminate crime, but we can limit it with police activity around the clock,” he said.

“The main thing we have to do is work together,” resident Cora Mae Vital said. “Way back in the day that’s what they did.

My daddy volunteered me for everything.”