Cassidy hosts rural community funding summit in Leesville

Published 4:32 pm Tuesday, April 25, 2023

 Special to the News Leader

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, and his office hosted a rural community funding summit in Leesville this week, together with USDA Rural Development, the Louisiana Housing Corporation and the Louisiana Municipal Association.

Officials and community leaders throughout Central Louisiana were present to learn more about Cassidy’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), and what it can do for their towns and villages.

“The dollars in the infrastructure law will improve water and sewer and provide broadband from Leesville to Marksville,” Cassidy said. “It is an investment in our children and grandchildren’s future in central Louisiana. Together, we can do an enormous amount of good here.”

Cassidy was welcomed to Leesville by the mayor, Rick Allen, who stressed the importance of connecting area officials to those responsible for awarding IIJA grants.

“It is important that we inform our community leaders on how they can access the funds that are available to them,” Allen said. “Many do not have a grant writer or person they can dedicate to wading through these very complicated applications to research and receive funding.”

Among other provisions, the IIJA authorized the I-14 corridor, a highway that will run from Georgia to Texas with stops in Leesville and Alexandria. The flow of commuters through Central Louisiana will provide a major boost for area economies.

Additionally, grants were announced early this month to improve natural gas distribution systems in Alexandria and Woodworth, in order to prevent leaks and explosions. Last January, the state announced that bridge funds from the IIJA would support LA 121 over the Calcasieu River in Rapides Parish.

Over $3.9 million has been allocated to the Alexandria International Airport, including runway rehabilitation and air traffic control equipment replacement. Finally, over $670,000 has been granted to the airport in Leesville, including to add onto their existing taxi lane.