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(Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

Commission approves $12 million in McNeese projects

Last Modified: Friday, November 16, 2012 1:01 PM

By Johnathan Manning / American Press

McNeese State University was a “big winner” at Thursday’s meeting of the State Bond Commission, said House Speaker Chuck Kleckley.

The commission approved $12 million in McNeese projects.

Included in that is $4.4 million for the renovation of the Sherman Fine Arts Building; $1 million for a Health and Human Performance Education Complex; $2 million for the renovation of Frazar Memorial Library; and $4.2 million for the Contraband Bayou erosion retaining wall.

There is also $500,000 designated for Alpha Hall renovations. The dorm, recently renamed Chozen Hall, will serve as a “one-stop shop” for admissions and recruiting, said McNeese spokeswoman Candace Townsend.

“These projects will benefit McNeese students for years to come and will enhance our recruiting and student retention efforts,” McNeese President Philip Williams said in a statement. “We are grateful to Speaker Kleckley and the Southwest Louisiana delegation for their support of McNeese.”

Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, also praised the area’s delegation, saying that with its work, “Southwest Louisiana has done very well. We’re excited for McNeese and for all these projects. We got everything that we asked for.”

The Port of Lake Charles was allocated money for three projects, including $5 million for an access road.

Westlake and Vinton were both allocated money for street improvements, while $9 million was set aside for the relocation of the Lake Charles Wildlife and Fisheries office.

There was $300,000 allocated for the National Hurricane Museum and Science Center and $1.05 million for a new city hall in DeQuincy.

In Vernon Parish, $9.04 million was allocated toward the Fort Polk Thoroughfare.

The bond commission approved more than $179 million in state construction projects.

Members of the commission, including lawmakers, leaders in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration and statewide elected officials, questioned little of the spending Thursday.

Among the handful of inquiries, Treasurer John Kennedy asked why the state was spending money on new mental health clinic space in New Orleans after shutting down a state-run mental hospital in the city.

“Why wouldn’t we, rather than build new ones, move the mental health facilities in the old one?” Kennedy said.

Jindal’s top budget adviser, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols, said the construction plans are for smaller mental health clinics, with outpatient beds.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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