Wednesday, August 28, West Baton Rouge Parish President Riley “PeeWee” Berthelot gave his annual State of the Parish address during the WBR Chamber of Commerce’s regular monthly meeting at the Addis Community Center.
During the address, which garnered the largest crowd for a Chamber of Commerce monthly meeting in recent history, Berthelot said that the parish was in a “very good” state, pointing out spikes in tax revenue, expansion and growth.
He said that the parish showed spikes in tax revenue in 2000 after the opening of the Shin-Tech plant, in 2005/2006 after Hurricane Katrina, in 2007 and 2008 during a period where a lot of construction was taking place throughout the parish including the construction of the Criterion plant.
“We can see these spikes will continue to go up,” Berthelot said.
He also said that he expects the parish to have one of its best years in regards to building permits, which means homes and businesses are being built at a steady pace throughout the parish.
“This year, so far to date, we have 144 permits that we’ve sold. This is single family housing – not trailers,” he said during the address. “If you take an average, that’s 18 per month; we should end up around 220 or 216 this year if we continue.”
He said that the most building permits the parish has issued in recent history were 220 permits around 2006, the year following Hurricane Katrina.
Berthelot concluded his address by showing a 12-minute long video to the crowd – the same video he showed Louisiana’s Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) officials about the potential I-10/La. 415 connector project.
He said that DOTD is currently looking into “mega projects” to fund, and selected 19 separate projects from around the state to view presentations for the possibility of providing funding.
“When I got invited to make this presentation, I wanted to make people at DOTD, the people that makes the decisions on these kind of projects, remember our project,” Berthelot said. “I wanted them to say ‘wow.’”
Kevin Durbin, WBR Parish Planner, said, after the presentation at the Chamber’s luncheon meeting, that he believed the video made a great impact on the DOTD officials.
“People came to PeeWee and said it was one of the best presentations of the week,” Durbin said. “We’re getting some hopeful signs that our video is getting the state’s attention.”