Jim Beam column: Cast your vote for recreation

Published 6:22 am Wednesday, April 24, 2024

One morning some time ago, I drove to the Lake Charles-Ward 3 Recreation Center on Power Centre Parkway where I exercise six days a week. The parking lot was loaded with vehicles and when I walked inside the attendant told me the indoor track where I walk was closed.

A kids basketball tournament was taking place in both courts in the gymnasium, which explained why there were so many vehicles there. I called my daughter who walks with me and we decided to go to the Enos Derbonne center on Lake Street.

Before I got all the way there, she called me to say to forget it. Another tournament was underway there and there were people everywhere. So we both just gave up and went home.

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Go to the Power Center Parkway multi-sports recreation center on most Saturdays this time of year, and an unbelievable number of vehicles are constantly coming and going all morning long. Soccer has become a major event and the center is a great family gathering place.

I tell these stories for an extremely important reason. The Ward 3 Recreation District has a $30 million bond proposition on Saturday’s election ballot. If the people who have been jamming the local centers make a special  effort to cast a vote for the proposition Saturday, it would be overwhelmingly approved.

Voters in all 62 Ward 3 (300-numbered) precincts will be participating. The property tax millage rate to pay off those bonds over a 15-year period will be lower than the millage taxpayers have been paying for the last 10 years.

The old tax rate has been 8.8 mills. The new rate would be 8.5 mills. The owner of a $100,000 home has been paying $22.01 annually and the new rate would be $21.25 annually.

Kip Texada, executive director of the LC-Ward 3 Recreation District, summed up his job well.

“We have been able to offer many programs for seniors, as well as for middle age and youth,” Texada said. “We are basically able to cover the entire family.”

The $30 million bond issue will finance renovations and new construction at all 12 of its centers. The place where I exercise will have new tennis court bleacher awnings, a coffee bar, turf and lights for soccer fields, a storage room, an outdoor skating rink and renovations to the Adventure Cove/Splash Pad.

Enos Derbonne will have a swimming pool and pickleball courts. Major renovation work will take place at Cougar Stadium and at the other recreation centers. Plans are also in the works for opening an additional multi-purpose complex at a location to be decided.

Residents of Ward 4 of Calcasieu Parish have had excellent recreation centers for many years, and Ward 3 is catching up with them quickly.

I have written in the past about the great friendships I have made at the Power Centre Parkway location for over 10 years. If you had said I would be playing bean bag baseball a few years ago, I might have said you were crazy. Now, we play twice a week and compete during the senior games every March, winning second place this year.

Come out to see people doing chair exercises during the week and their numbers will amaze you. There are so many other classes of different kinds, I can’t name them all.

Anytime you miss a few days of recreation, you can bet there will be people there when you get back, asking where you’ve been. One of the first friends I made there 10 years ago has had some serious health issues and everyone was happy to see him when he got back there last Thursday.

Exercise has paid great dividends for my overall health and the recreation friendships have enhanced my personal life beyond measure.

Every time I see those packed parking lots at the rec center, I always hope those who drove them there with their families will cast a “yes” vote on that Saturday bond proposition. All the citizens of Lake Charles and Ward 3 will be the beneficiaries.


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