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Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Mayor Arceneaux Goes to Washington

Amtrak, violence and jobs

Shreveport Mayor Tom Arceneaux joined some of his colleagues from across north Louisiana and Mississippi for a recent trip to Washington, D.C., to garner support for a proposed passenger rail service from Dallas to Atlanta.

“We had a very successful trip,” Arceneaux said. “We had a list of things we wanted to accomplish, and we think we accomplished all of them.”

Arceneaux traveled with Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker, Monroe Mayor Friday Ellis and Vicksburg, Miss., Mayor George Flaggs Jr. to Capitol Hill to speak with lawmakers, Amtrak officials and others about a federal grant to build terminals in those cities along the proposed route. The mayors and Amtrak both were interested in applying for the grant.

“We are joining Amtrak in its application, so instead of competing we are joining in that proposal,” Arceneaux said.

Amtrak already has passenger rail service from Meridian, Miss., to Atlanta and other cities on the East Coast, as well as from Marshall, Texas, to Dallas. The proposal would connect those rail lines with service across north Louisiana and Mississippi.

“We met with congressmen across the whole corridor from Dallas to Meridian,” the mayor said. “We received indications of support from every congressman on the route, as well as Sen. (Bill) Cassidy and Mississippi Sen. (Roger) Wicker. We got letters of support from Reps. Mike Johnson and Julia Letlow.”

Arceneaux said the delegation also met with Amtrak executives to further coordinate efforts. He said Amtrak is very much in favor of this long-distance route, which would be its first expansion of service in decades.

The mayors were accompanied on the trip by executives from Canadian Pacific Kansas City, the new company recently formed by the merger of Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern railroads.

“One of the the things you have to have is support from the freight railroads because you use their track,” Arceneaux said. “They are very supportive. That’s a positive development for us.”

After several days of meetings, Amtrak submitted the grant application on April 21 to the Federal Railroad Administration, along with the letter of support and other materials.

Arceneaux is excited about the prospect of receiving the grant.

“It’s hard for me to believe there would be a better application than ours,” he said. “I am very optimistic.”

Addressing violence

Arceneaux continues to address violence in the community, including recent officerinvolved shootings.

On April 23, Shreveport Police officers were conducting a traffic stop at Valley View Drive and Mansfield Road. During the traffic stop, officers struggled with Joseph Dewayne Taylor, 33, who was armed. A struggle ensued, and an officer fired. Taylor later died at Ochsner LSU Health.

Louisiana State Police are investigating that shooting and another officer-involved shooting that took place April 25.

“In line with this administration’s commitment to transparency and the agreement between the Shreveport Police Department and the Louisiana State Police, SPD immediately notified LSP of the incident, and LSP took over the investigation of it,” Arceneaux said in a statement after the April 23 shooting.

“Any event that results in a fatal shooting by a police officer is a serious and sensitive matter. The family of Mr. Taylor, the officers involved and our entire community deserve a meticulous investigation. The city and SPD will cooperate fully with LSP in their review of this matter.

“LSP has directed that all communications about the incident come to and from LSP. The mayor’s office will comply with that directive so as not to jeopardize the investigation or its independence. Any inquiries prior to the conclusion of the investigation should be directed to LSP.”

Jobs news

Arceneaux recently attended Prolec GE USA’s announcement that it will invest up to $28.5 million to expand its electrical transformers manufacturing facility in west Shreveport. The company will add a third production line and expects to create 153 new jobs.

“That is about a 50 percent increase in capacity,” Arceneaux said. “Those are outstanding jobs. This is really good news. They will be starting construction in June and expect to have the new line online by June of next year. It’s a relatively short window.”

In other news

Two key roles in the Arceneaux administration were filled permanently on April 25 when the Shreveport City Council confirmed the appointees.

Tom Dark was confirmed as chief administrative officer, and Sherricka Fields Jones was confirmed as chief financial officer. Each served in their position on an interim basis before being confirmed.

“That’s very significant,” Arceneaux said. “I am very pleased with that. Those are both outstanding administrators. I look forward to working with them.”


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