2018 brought about growth, along with inconvenience
BY HEATHER REGAN WHITE
Looking back, 2018 was a year of growth and growing pains for West Calcasieu.
The year was punctuated with the opening of several businesses, public service agencies, parks and memorials.
But bridge repairs and traffic delays also made their mark, plaguing motorists, particularly in the Maplewood section of Sulphur, where the Interstate 10 Bridge project exacerbated existing traffic congestion in both directions on Maplewood Drive from Cities Service Highway to Prater Road. The bridge repair project kicked off in February.
In March, city officials took matters into their own hands. City departments placed barricades and cones to re-direct traffic from entering Maplewood Drive eastbound off Cities Service Highway.
Luckily for motorists, the I-210 Prien Lake Bridge repair work, set to begin in the fall of 2018, was delayed until early 2019.
Open for business
In January, Soleil Café opened its doors at 645 Maple St. in Sulphur, and Holly Hill Nursing and Rehabilitation Center cut ribbon on The Cottage — A Courtyard Community wing, a 26-bed locked memory care facility. Down the road in Vinton, Cobblestone Inn and Suites opened the first hotel to locate in Vinton, at 2002 Corporate Drive.
In February, Vincent Settlement Elementary in Carlyss opened their long-awaited newly-remodeled library, which had not been updated in more than two decades.
In May, ribbon was cut on the T. J. Andrus Law Enforcement Center, 500 N. Huntington St. in Sulphur. The center houses a training coordinator and room, evidence officers and a 1,600 square foot evidence room, SPD detectives and state-of-the-art interrogation rooms. Ground was broken on the center in October of 2016.
Also in May, long-time Ward 7 Recreation District employee James “Cuz” Mc-Cardle was honored with a field dedicated to him at Ted Lyons Ball in Vinton upon his retirement.
In June, the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury approved the rezoning of more than 10,000 acres of property near Vinton for a mega site that could be home to various light-industrial development, including manufacturing and distribution plants.
Also in June, ground was broken at 2900 Westwood Road, for the Retreat at Westlake Apartments. The $30 million multi-family project is the first of a two-phase $100 million development, expected to be complete in May 2019. The second phase will be a commercial development.
In July, the Sulphur Senior Center at 601 Maple Street was rededicated as the Birdie Aikens Senior Center, in memory of the first principal of the first colored school in Sulphur, built on the property. Also that month, ribbon was cut on the $1.5 million Maplewood Commons Park — the latest in the Sulphur Parks and Recreation (SPAR) family.
In August, members of the Sulphur High School Community Impact Program, or SCIP, presented a Little Free Pantry, a small cabinet stocked with free non-perishable food items and personal hygiene products. There are four designated sites for pantries in Sulphur — OLS on Cypress St., Maplewood Church of Christ, on Beverly Place, Our Lady of LaSalette Catholic Church on N. Claiborne St., and First Baptist Church on S. Huntington.
Also in August, the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury reopened Alligator Park at 5316 Alligator Park Road, north of Starks. The park was damaged in the March 2016 flooding and was set to reopen in August 2017, but was again damaged by flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey. The CPPJ also broke ground on the Coach Williams Drive Extension, an $18.4 million, two-year project that includes a new roundabout — the first in West Calcasieu — at the intersection of Coach Williams Drive and Old Spanish Trail, as well as improvements to Houston River Road.
August also saw the groundbreaking for the Westlake Veteran’s Memorial Park and Butterfly Garden, located at 2901 Westwood Road, on 40 acres of land west of Pinderosa Park and the baseball complex. The month also marked the completion of the $1.3 million maintenance dredging project at the West Cal port’s west barge basin that removed more than 140,000 cubic yards of spoils over a 10-week period
In September, Sulphur saw the demolition of the site of many fond memories. LaFleur’s Roller Rink on Ruth St., which opened in 1958 was torn down and the site will soon be home to a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise. But the area gained a new grocery store that month when Donny Rouse, CEO, of Rouses Market cut ribbon on the newest store at 800 Carlyss Drive in Sulphur.
In October, CARC cut ribbon on the agency’s first donation drop off center at 3620 D Maplewood Drive. The center will serve as a collection site for donated items which will be sorted and sent to one of four CARC Treasure Chest thrift stores located in Lake Charles, Moss Bluff, Jennings and DeRidder.
Also in October, First Federal Bank of Louisiana opened a branch located at 1000 Center Street, in Vinton.
In December, Alex’s Barber Shop opened in Vinton at 13501/2 Horridge St.
FILE: The Sulphur Police Department and employees of the city of Sulphur set up cones to block the turn lane from Cities Service Highway onto Maplewood Drive in March of 2018 to alleviate severe traffic congestion due to an Interstate 10 bridge project.