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Vidalian THE

January 2017

Pattie Jones: Sending love to our soldiers with Operation G.R.I.T.S.


“Riverpark Medical Center-the center for medical excellence.” Multi-Specialty & Specialists Ambulatory Surgery Center Digital Imaging Center Sports Medicine & Physical Therapy

RIVERPARK

MEDICAL CENTER 107 FRONT ST., VIDALIA Telephone: 318-336-2222 Toll Free: 866-416-8500


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lthough it should come as no real surprise, it is amazing to me when I consider that it’s already 2017 and that means it’s been nearly a year since we launched The Vidalian in February of 2016.

THE CITY OF VIDALIA Mayor’s Office Mayor Buz Craft 318-336-5206 200 Vernon Stevens Blvd.

ALDERMEN AND CITY COUNCIL Robert Gardner, Jr. - Alderman 601-807-3874 Sabrina Dore’- Alderman 601-807-9995 Jon Betts - Alderman 318-336-5976 Tommy Probst- Alderman 318-336-7723 Triand McCoy - Alderman 318-336-3583

cityofvidaliala@gmail.com

www.cityofvidaliala.com

January The Vidalian

What an amazing year 2016 was! I’m sure that we all remember how this time last year we were keeping a watchful eye on the rising Mississippi River to see whether or not we would experience flooding like we had back in 2011. Thankfully, we were spared, but 2016 will go down in history for reasons well beyond the threat of encroaching water that we witnessed at the beginning of the year. 2016 was a time of great change. Here in Vidalia, we saw a shake-up in city government with three new members of the Board of Alderman taking their seats and a longtime mayor, Hyram Copeland, being replaced by Mayor Buz Craft. Nationally there was also a shake-up, and this month the country gets a new president with the Republicans taking the helm at both the executive and legislative branches of government since the early days of President George W. Bush’s administration. It’s going to be interesting to watch what happens. As we start off 2017, it promises to be a banner year for growth in Vidalia. There are lots of exciting things happening, but above all we are anxiously waiting for the Mississippi River port currently under construction to open. The new port facility at the Vidalia Industrial Park will initially help local businesses retain around 300 jobs, but the economic growth it promises to eventually bring to the Miss-Lou will be felt for generations. Again, it will be interesting to watch what happens. I, for one, can’t wait to see the opening of the Jack McLemore Jr. Technology Center. Vidalia has much to be proud of as we welcome 2017! Remember, If you know of anyone who you would like to see as a Vidalian of the Month, please let me know and maybe that person can be featured in this magazine. You can always reach me by e-mail at thevidalian@gmail.com or by calling (318) 719-5603.

@VidaliaLA

Visit City of Vidalia on Facebook!

Happy New Year!

Thomas Bonnette Publisher

Watch Vidalia’s YouTube Channel!

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THE VIDALIAN

JANUARY 2017

CO NTEN TS 9 See the young ladies who will be competing to be crowned as Miss Vidalia this year! The pageant will be Jan. 21 at the Vidalia Convention Center.

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Pattie Jones works hard every Christmas and Mardi Gras season to send packages with the charity she started, Operation G.R.I.T.S. (Gifts Raised in the South).

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Riverland Medical Center has provided great healthcare to the Miss-Lou for decades. Learn about the new state-of-the-art hospital they are planning!


January The Vidalian

MAYOR’S MESSAGE Dear Friends, For the first issue of The Vidalian for 2017 I'm happy to bring good news. The five city commissions and committees that have been defunct for years are now restored. The 2017 Committees and Commissions are: Board of Adjustment: Melvin Demby, Patricia Anderson, Joey Ainsworth and Kathy Banks. Vidalia Riverfront Authority: Pat Biglane, Danny Grayson, Malcolm Barlow, Renard Chatman and Bobby Shell. Planning Commission: Pat Galloway, Ray Ainsworth, Dr. Brenda Moore, Cassandra Lynch and Mary Ann Carter. Riverfront Development Committee: Corinne Randazzo, Randy Hoggatt, Trippy Shields, Art Verdel and Georgia Allen. Vidalia Port Commission: Steve Weeks, Freddie Marks, David Yates, Brannon Arthur, Catherine Cartwright, Richard Young and Randy Maxwell. In order to restore the committees we first reached out to former members to ask if they were willing to serve. We also had people contact City Hall and volunteer to serve. Now that the names have been approved, we want to make sure the volunteers receive training to do the job, determine responsibilities, get meetings scheduled, and hopefully get to work as soon as possible. This is a great way to start the New Year. I believe we have good working committees made up of people who want to do the job. I am truly excited to see what 2017 has in store for Vidalia.

Buz Craft

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January The Vidalian

adoptable animals This month we are proud to present three great dogs looking for a forever home, presented by Concordia PAWS--Bianca, Callie and Faith! Bianca is an all white cur mix with beautiful blue eyes. She is very sweet natured and gets along well with other dogs. She has had her shots and is spayed. She would be a great family pet. Callie is a dalmation mix. She would be a perfect family pet or house dog. She is very sweet and behaves very well. She has had her shots and is spayed. Faith is a retriever mix. She is very sweet and well trained. She was a house pet, but her owners moved away and could not take her with them. She gets along great with other dogs and is very gentle. She has had her shots and is spayed.

Bianca

For more information about adopting any of these animals, please call 318-719-0940 or simply stop by the shelter at 1212 First Street in Ferriday!

Faith

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Callie


History Happenings

January The Vidalian

by Stanley Nelson

Concordia's effort to finance the Civil War In 1862, Concordia, like other parishes in Louisiana, was in a state of emergency. Many local men prepared to join the military companies being formed to fight for the Confederacy as the Civil War broke out. But questions arose. How would the parish financially support these local companies and what about the women and children left behind? At the time, the South was among the lowest taxed regions in the world. Getting the Confederacy off the ground was a big undertaking and there was not a government already in place as existed in the North. How would the Confederacy finance the war? Many avenues were taken, but the states were depended upon to help finance their own needs and their own defenses. Parishes and counties were expected to take care of their own, too, especially in the beginning. On Monday, March 10, 1862, the Police Jury called a special meeting in Vidalia. George Green was the president. The remaining eight jurors were listed by last name: Alexander, Lum, Scott, Oswalt, Williams, Sugg, Hoover and McDonald. At the session, the Jury voted to ask "Mr. Peebles" of Vidalia to provide any military volunteers in town "subsistence with board and lodging" at the expense of the parish "not to exceed $1 per day and for no longer than one week." Jurors met twice over the next two days to sort through the situation before deciding to do the following: • Provide "a $100 bounty ... to every volunteer who may join the companies now being raised by Dr. W.J. Miller, Matthew Carr and S.C. Scott on their being fully organized and mustered into the Confederate service for the war." • Assure that upon the applications of John Ker and William Beard for aid to raise one company each of volunteers in Catahoula Parish for military service in the Confederacy that the parish (Concordia) would pay "to each soldier of such company when duly received and mustered into the service a bounty of $50." • Provide that $50,000 in eight percent, 12-month bonds be appropriated to pay for the bounties and raise the companies and to provide "relief to the families needing assistance of these volunteers who may join and be mustered into the Confederate service in the companies" now being raised. • Issue warrants, or bonds, with the following denominations and numbers: -- 10,000 at 25 cents each totaling $2,500. -- 10,000 at 50 cents totaling $5,000. -- 7,500 at $1 each totaling $7,500. -- 5,000 at $2 each totaling $10,000. -- 5,000 at $3 each totaling $15,000. -- 2,000 at $5 each totaling $10,000. -- 39,500 totaling $50,000. • Pay 8 percent interest on the bonds and to finance the money through a "special war tax" on property totaling threefourths of one-percent. Needless to say, the bonds are worthless today. At least three Concordia families possess some of those original historical documents. The late Fred Falkenheiner of Vidalia, a longtime Police Jury member who served as president for a number of years, had several $2 bonds in his possession. This column appears courtesy of The Concordia Sentinel. For more history of the Miss-Lou from Stanely Nelson, subscribe to The Concordia Sentinel today!


January The Vidalian

By Johnny A. Trust

Editor’s note: Johnny A. Trust, a Vidalia native, is a columnist who lives in Pensacola, FL.

Christmas in Germany has much to offer... but it's not home sweet home.

"Be somebody, who makes everybody feel like a somebody".... that was the phrase that was told to me after meeting this young Egyptian woman on the local train station in Stuttgart during my recent travels. She, along with many other people, sights, foods and the city itself, are part of a lasting memory of Germany that I hope to carry all the remaining days of my life. The city of Stuttgart, during this time of year, is well lit with many lights and revelry in celebration of the holiday season. There are Christmas markets throughout the city and they offer a wide array of not only Christmas-related gifts, but also cakes, nuts, cookies and warm wine to take the edge off the frigid air. As you walk through the streets and the Christmas markets, the aromas of the freshly baked goods overwhelm the senses. Looking around, one can see why, in spite of the chilly weather, everyone is so filled with happiness and glee. One can only imagine how much of that situation is due to the warm wine and mead. Throughout my time there, I noticed that the people love to dress up. An amazing observation I found is that in doing so, most of the colors that they wear are basic black and gray. But in the shops, with their lights, there is an abundance of color splashed throughout. The window gazing and shopping is a sight to behold. There seems to be an unspoken competition to see who has the most decadent and colorfully dynamic window. The restaurants offered many varying menus chalked with delectable and mouth-watering German dishes. I would list some of them but I could neither pronounce nor be able to spell them. You will just have to trust me and/or check my Facebook page for some of the pictures for proof. While working in Germany for a two week period, I met many Americans who came for one reason or another and decided to stay. Many stayed because of the job opportunities, but many others have stayed because they say that Germany offers many things that America does not, such as a much better education and healthcare system. Those are excellent reasons to make Germany a new home, but not enough for me. The communities are very quaint in nature; but like most things European, rather small and too closely compacted. The roads are very confusing and if not for Google maps, I might still be lost there. Unlike America, you cannot just simply go to the faucet and run some water to drink, you have to buy it in a bottle....if you want water in a restaurant, it is not free. It will cost you roughly $2-$3 per bottle. When you go to the grocery store, each bag that you need to carry your items costs you. Depending on the store, they can run up to 50-cents each. Being a Southern boy, I could not deal with the winter weather. Teeth chattering, wet, cold weather is not my thing. I was told that they do not have air conditioning units because, for the most part, it is not as hot or humid as it is in the South. Temperatures do get up in the 100's, however, and people have to just grin and bear it. Altogether, Germany is a great place to visit. It has a lot to offer in historical sights and landmarks. The foods are excellent and the locals that we met were all very kind and sincere. I am just going to steal a line from the popular movie, "The Wizard of Oz," and tell you that "There is no place like home" and all that it has to offer. 8


January

The Vidalian

The Vidalia Women's Club has announced this year's contestants for the Miss Vidalia Pageant. Here are the young ladies who will be vying for the crown this year. The 2017 Miss Vidalia Pageant will be held at the Vidalia Convention Center on Jan. 21., with the ladies taking the stage at 6:30 p.m.

Maecee Alexandra Thornton Daughter of Cindy Peterman and Wade Thornton.

Katlyn Rae McCarver Daughter of Wesley and Kerry McCarver.

Mary Kaitlin Dooley Daughter of Keri Arnold and Dewey Arnold.

Kathryn Carol Strong Daughter of Chris and Michelle Strong

Destiny Chance Turner Daughter of Dustin Turner and Crissie Turner.

Alexis J. L. Tyler Daughter of Alice D. Smith.

Dymonne Lee Daughter of Kristie and Johnny Allen.

Caylee Marie Couie Daughter of William (Chris) and Cindy Couie.

Madison Corean Johnston Daughter of Jackie and Darla Johnston.

Kathryn Elise Kammerdeiner Daughter of John and Sheri Kammerdeiner.

Allye Madelyn Braley Daughter of Todd Braley and Kellye Braley.

Jaley Rayanna Havard Daughter of Lisa Freeman and Jason Havard.

Bre�Honor Harris Daughter of Brenda Harris and Christopher Hagans.

Brittany Stanley Daughter of Jason Stanley and Diana Stanley.

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January The Vidalian

Vidalian of the MONTH Pattie Jones

Pattie Jones cooks a pot of chili for her family on a cold winter's night. Jones says that Operation G.R.I.T.S., the charity she started to send gifts to soldiers serving overseas, has been a great way to teach the younger members of her family the true meaning of Christmas. 10


January

T

The Vidalian

he way that many Vietnam War-era soldiers were spat upon, literally and figuratively, as they came home remains a national disgrace.

Pattie Jones, who remembers well her mother calling her in from playing to watch troops returning at the end of the war in 1975 on television, still has a hard time wrapping her mind around why some would ever disrespect people she considers to be heroes. “I remember how badly they were treated and I couldn’t understand why,” she said. “I still don’t understand it.” She always wanted to find a way to show those who sacrifice so much to keep our country free and safe how much they are appreciated. Jones eventually got the chance when a mistake made while working to send gifts to a solider stationed in Iraq help point the way toward her creation of Operation G.R.I.T.S, a Vidalia-based charity that works to deliver bundles of gratitude to hundreds of troops stationed overseas every year. It all started back in 2010 when Jones tried to send a small package to a friend in the Army who was serving in the Middle East in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Pattie Jones packs boxes filled with treats and necessities at the Pentecostals of the Miss-Lou in Ferriday for Operation G.R.I.T.S.

The following year the Army Nation Guard 1086th of Bunkie was deployed to Afghanistan. The unit, which was originally based in Vidalia, includes many soldiers from Concordia Parish and the surrounding area. As a result, over twice as many packages were filled locally by volunteers working with Operation G.R.I.T.S. The organization has sent at least 500 boxes for soldiers serving overseas every Christmas since and started shipping king cakes to troops three years ago with the Operation G.R.I.T.S. “Taste of Home” campaign.

“I went online to the Post Office to see what I needed to do and I found out that you could order boxes for free, so I decided that I would get about 10 boxes to have them on-hand to be able to send him things every so often,” Jones said. Jones misunderstood exactly what she was ordering online and sent out an order of 10 cases—a total of 250 boxes. “About two weeks later the Post Office got my boxes in and called to ask me if I really meant to order so many boxes. I said that I had ordered 10 and they told me that they had 10 cases for me,” Jones said. Since Jones was left with more boxes than she thought she could every fill alone, she begin to ask others to help her fill them with goodies and needed items to be sent and dispersed by her Army friend to his fellow soldiers for Christmas. Before the group was done, more than 250 packages were filled, with an extra 125 added for the troops, and Operation G.R.I.T.S. (Gifts Raised in the South) was born.

Custom Orders Available

Vidalia, La. I 318-336-5044 I Mon - Fri 8:30 - 5:30 I Sat 9:00 - 2:00

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Pattie Jones reads to two of her grandchildren, 10 year-old Ethan Keith (on her right) and 7 year-old Andy Keith.

Altogether, volunteers with the organization have mailed over 5,000 packages, costing more than $40,000 in postage, since its creation to show troops how much they mean to a grateful nation. “What we do is look for a local connection, since that’s kind of how it started,” Jones said. “A brother, uncle or relative who is deployed overseas—especially in a war zone.” The person with a local connection is sent a shipment of boxes, which is passed out to his fellow soldiers. Boxes are provided free of charge from the United States Postal, but donations of $16.75 per-package are needed to ship them. Included in the list of items most requested are coffee, beef jerky, hygienic products, trail mixes, powered drink mixes and toiletries. Items that are prohibited from being sent include pork products, alcohol, liquid sanitizer and aerosol cans. Jones encourages people to add a card or picture to give packages more of personal-touch. “Soldiers are very appreciative and very surprised when they get a box. It shows how much we really do support them and a lot of them are overwhelmed with gratitude,” Jones said, remembering a call she got from a grateful soldier in Iraq that lasted more than three hours. 12

“He kept telling me how much it meant to him. He had a wife and three children back home whom he tried to send all of his money to and he had to pay $10 for a tooth brush on base. A box with a bundle of washrags in it made him very happy; he had left home with just one.” The community has really come together to help make Operation G.R.I.T.S a success. The organization, which accepts monetary donations as well as items , needs help from anyone willing to contribute some “elbow grease” at one of its “boxing parties." Operation G.R.I.T.S. is aided in its efforts by many local businesses, churches and schools. Jones, a life-long resident of Vidalia, is proud that she comes from such a patriotic town that’s always ready to lend a hand to show support for our troops. “Vidalia is a very generous community and a very patriotic community; that’s why I felt that this would be successful,” she said. “I’ve heard stories about soldiers who get the boxes and tell the person who gave them what a great town they must be from. They say that it’s the kind of town they would like to live in—I think that Operation G.R.I.T.S. is a very good ambassador for our community.” The organization has also been a way for Jones’ family to pass on the true meaning of Christmas to her grandchildren.


January The Vidalian “It’s a lot of fun and very rewarding. I love seeing my boys get involved in helping other people. I want them to know that Christmas is about more than just them; it’s really about Jesus and showing his love to other people and we do that through this,” said Jones’ daughter, Mandie Keith, who helped her mother pack boxes with her two sons, Ethan, 10, and Andy, 7, for the Operation G.R.I.T.S. Christmas Drive in December.

King cakes will be sent along with coffee and condiments, hot chocolate and other items. All it takes is a $15 donation to help a solider receive a package.

While Christmas has passed, Operation G.R.I.T.S. is busy collecting donations and items to be sent overseas for the Mardi Gras season in the “Taste of Home” campaign.

For more information about the project and how you can donate or help out, just call Patti Jones at 601-807-6470 or 318-336-5202.

2 J TWO-J RANCH

C R U S H E D

L I M E STO N E

EASY TO SET UP • LONG LASTING

Big or small projects • Driveways, flowerbeds, ponds and lake banks or use it to fill holes.

707 LEVEE RD, VIDALIA • 318-336-4707 SCALE HOUSE • 318-336-8567

Monetary donations or donations of items can be made at Reed Insurance at 107 Carter Street in Vidalia or 201 Louisiana Ave. in Ferriday. The organization also has a website that accepts PayPal donations: www.operationgrits.com.


January The Vidalian

Concordia Parish Library presents

Concordia Parish Library presents

iPhone: How To Use All The Features Operate, Update, Organize & Store Photos, FaceTime, Text & Instagram, Facebook and other Apps!

with Stephen Collins Saturday

Thursday February 2, 2017 6 PM Vidalia Library Free & Open!

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January 28, 2017 9-—11:30 am Ferriday Library Be sure to register: 318-757-3550 Free & Open to the Public


January

The Vidalian


January The Vidalian local culture and quality of life.

Joining together for a stronger region

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magine yourself as a manufacturing business owner wanting to expand to North America, and you have chosen to locate your new facility in the Southeast. You will employ 250 workers, and you will invest $300 Million in the area you choose to locate. Requests for proposals have been returned from many states throughout the southeast, and you have narrowed down your site selection to 3 sites. Their characteristics are: Site 1 offers: -Emerging port facility and industrial park -Award winning public schools with STEM K-12 education in Magnet and Charter School and a Technical College. -Population of 20, 100 and a labor force of 7,160 -Low crime rate -Recreational opportunities -8.6% unemployment -Available existing industrial building Site 2 offers: -Developed river port with rail on site and industrial park with rail and port access -Private and parochial K12 education opportunities. Community college and higher education opportunities available. -Population of 31,200 and a labor force of 11,600 -Low crime rates -Unique local culture and quality of life. -8.1% unemployment -Available existing industrial buildings and properties Site 3 offers: -Award winning public schools, private and parochial school options. STEM K-12 curriculum available. -2 Community college and post secondary education opportunities -Population of 51,300 and a labor force of 18,760 -Port development of both sides of the river, one with on site rail. -Multiple industrial parks offering various transportation options and incentives. -8.3% unemployment -Low crime rates -Available existing industrial buildings -Abundant recreational opportunities for all ages with unique 16

Which one would you ultimately choose? If you chose site 1 you would have chosen Vidalia and Concordia Parish. If you chose site 2, you would have chosen Natchez and Adams County. If you chose site 3 you chose the Miss-Lou region of Adams County and Concordia Parish. Presenting our region as one is not a new development. Many years ago the MissLou Regional Steering Committee was formed with the purpose of working together to improve community and economic development. This group consisted of local business leaders, economic developers, chambers of commerce officials and elected officials from both sides of the river. With much discussion over time, it was strongly suggested to work towards having one economic development organization for our community. Natchez, Inc. welcomed the City of Vidalia and Heather Malone to the organization in 2016. By way of a professional services agreement, Natchez, Inc. will provide economic development services for the Town of Vidalia and its utility service district. Vidalia now joins with these organizations to support the economic development efforts of our region. So what does this mean to our area? Find out in part two of this series on economic news in the Miss-Lou from Natchez, Inc. in next month's issue of The Vidalian.


January The Vidalian This home is a must see at 145 Cresent Drive in Ferriday on two lovely lots at the end of a cul-de-sac in the Woodland neighborhood. The home is spacious with a formal living room and family room, an eat-in kitchen, three bedrooms and two baths. Beautiful new hardwood floors have been installed through much of the house. Please call Melanie for a showing at (601) 431-5212.

601-442-2768 • paulgreenrealtor.com

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January The Vidalian

VIKING of the

MONTH D

estiny Banks is a seventeen year old high school senior who attends Vidalia High School.

She is top of her class and is a member of NSHSS. In school, she participates in FCCLA, Color Guard, and Yearbook.

By Cassie Johnson She is also the yearbook's editor.

"I joined these clubs and teams because I wanted to be more involved in school," she said.

Go Vikings!

Destiny Banks Destiny's hobbies include reading and singing. According to Destiny, her best achievements are: getting a 27 on the ACT, being ranked number one in her class, and being accepted into every college to which she applied. Her goals after high school is to study neonatology. She is currently torn between University of Louisiana at Monroe and Southern University in Baton Rouge. She plans to major in biology and pre-med and to eventually become a neonatologist. The church she attends is Union Baptist Church and her grandmother is Eva Banks. Destiny's outside activities are singing in her church choir, helping her church in missionary work and volunteering at local nursing homes.

®

Proud to support the home team.

Sabrina Doré

1636 Carter St • Vidalia, LA

318-336-9625

SPatrickDore@ShelterInsurance.com 19


January The Vidalian

Sponsor

SPOTLIGHT Riverland Medical Center employees stand in front of the 53 year-old hospital in Ferriday on EE Wallace Blvd. A new hosptial is being planned on the Ferriday-Vidalia Highway and is expected to open by the end of 2019. Pictured left to right are Trinicia Champ, Keisha Smith, Mary Rose Welch, Rose Taylor, RMC Administrator Billy Rucker, Spencer Holder, Shirley Brown, Debra Gordon and Donnie Lewis.

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January The Vidalian

L

aunching Concordia Parish healthcare into the 21st Century is top priority as the Riverland Medical Center administrative team works toward construction of a new state-of-the-art critical access hospital on the Ferriday-Vidalia Highway. To do this, it helps to think “outside-of-the-box,” according to Riverland Medical Administrator Billy Rucker. “The medical industry is changing every day and we have to stay prepared. It is time for an upgrade and our board is looking down the road to the next generation to give them something that will serve them well for the next 50 years,” said Rucker. Hospital officials are busy reviewing preliminary drawings for the new facility that will move RMC east from its currentlocation on EE Wallace Blvd. in Ferriday to a 20-acre tract of land next to Marsala Beverage. The hospital is being designed by GraceHebert Architects, a Baton Rouge firm, with assistance from Curtis Group Architects of Dallas. The two architectural firms specialize in rural hospital upgrades and are currently building a replacement facility for West Feliciana Critical Access Hospital in St. Francisville.

A drawing of West Feliciana Critical Access Hospital in St. Fancisville. The hospital is under construction and is scheduled to open in April. The new Riveland Medical Center, being planned by the same architectural firms, GraceHebert Architects and the Curtis Group Architects, might look similar.

“The new Riverland will probably be about the same size, but better organized than the hospital that we have now,” Rucker said. “It will be a modern design and we are shooting for an outpatient clinic setting so we can have our doctors outside of the hospital and have all our procedures done around the hospital.” Market shifts in recent decades all point toward continued growth in the direction of the Mississippi River, according to findings of feasibility studies that need to be followed to secure a loan from USDA Rural Development to finance construction of the new hospital. (continued next page).

Rucker said that RMC officials recently toured the new West Feliciana Critical Access Hospital, which is slated to be opened in April, and liked what they saw. "It is a beautiful facility. Their focus in the new hospital is mainly on outpatient procedures--MRIs, diagnostic testing and better mammograms," he said. Rucker would like to move RMC into a similar facility so the hospital can remain on the forefront of accommodateing patients’ needs and keep up with the technology advancement of an ever-evolving industry. Riverland Medical Center is a 25-bed Critical Access Hospital with an ICU, Medicare approved swing-bed program and a full-service emergency room. While the 68,000 square-foot building that houses RMC has served Concordia Parish and the surrounding area well over the last 53 years, the time has come to move. Rucker said he hopes that the building will eventually be turned into another business that will continue to benefit the people of Concordia Parish, such as an assisted-living or veteran's healthcare facility. 21


January The Vidalian Dr. Kevin Ingram, a Vidalia family medicine doctor who works with Riverland Medical Center, believes the planned upgrade is great news for healthcare in the Miss-Lou.

geon performs a wide range of laparascopic and minimally invasive procedures in Riverland's OR. Dr. Crace averages 67 cases per-month at RMC. Riverland Medical Center offers many out patient services including Ambulatory Infusion, an Intensive Out Patient Psychiatric Program, Digital Mammography, Diagnostic Imaging, Laboratory and Respiratory services. Family Medicine as well as specialty care such as Urology, Gynecology and Ophthalmology are also available at Riverland. Comprehensive Rehab, Riverland's out patient therapy department, will be reopening this month and will begin offering Physical and Speech Therapy. Riverland will also be partnering with Charla Knapp, FNPC at Living Well Family Clinic in January. The convenience of having all of these medical services close to home is the reason that so many people in the Miss-Lou have trusted their healthcare to Riverland Medical Center for decades.

“To better market our hospital we need to move east; the market is moving that way,” Rucker said. “In 1961, when the hospital was being planned, we had no four-lane highway and the hub of the parish was in Ferriday. These days more people are living on the lakes and the Monterey area is really booming. People go the short route to shop in Vidalia and Natchez instead of coming through Ferriday—all the studies show that we need the new location to better serve our community.” Rucker said he expects the Vidalia economy to expand further when the new Mississippi River port is opened. While Riverland's administration is looking forward to building a new facility, the hospital has first-rate healthcare services currently available to the residents of Concordia and surrounding parishes. These services include a 24/7 emergency room that treats an average of 700 patients per month, 25 inpatient beds, which are dual certified as Medicare swing beds, inpatient rehabilitation therapy, specialized wound care, and an ICU for critical care patients. Hospitalist services are provided by Dr. J. Kevin Ingram and Dr. Vikram Dulam. Dr. Phillip P. Crace, General Sur22

The new Riverland Medical Center is expected to keep more residents close to home to receive higher-quality healthcare in areas like X-rays, mammograms and CT scans. “We should be able to expand on all of these services. Because technology is changing so quickly, everything is digitally read these days. We are going to have all the latest equipment and will have a faster turn-around time as a result,” Rucker said. “My main objective is to have something great for young people who are coming up in our area that will draw them back to our community.” Dr. Ingram, a Vidalia family medicine physician who works with RMC, is looking forward to the new hospital. “It’s going to be a great thing for everybody. The ability to do more with the new technology that will be available will be an asset,” he said. “It will help grow some practices and help accrue new physicians. We need something that looks modern and has a little ‘wow factor’ to it and that’s what I am excited about," Dr. Ingram added. Construction of the new Riverland Medical Center is anticipated to begin in December of 2017, with the hospital expected to open by mid-2019.


Respiratory Therapy Outpatient services include: • Holter Moniter Placements • Pulmonary Function Studies • Arterial Gas Test (ABGs) a physician’s order is required

Front row (left to right) Penny Delaney, Marey Dobson, Dana Nelson Back row (left to right) Eddie Tarver, Chris Porter-Director, Meghan Smith, Kimberly Handjis

Riverland Medical Center 1700 N. E.E. Wallace Blvd., Ferriday www.riverlandmedical.com

Phone - 318.757.6551 Fax - 318.757.1144

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January vidalian