Q&A: Mayor Tommy Chandler speaks on Bossier City going into 2022
BOSSIER CITY, La. (KSLA) - Following his first few months in office, Bossier City Mayor Tommy Chandler spoke with KSLA News 12 about how 2021 was for him and the city, as well as looking forward to 2022.
Question: Can you describe how 2021 and your first few months in office have been?
Answer: “I got me a new police chief and he is doing great. I got a new financial adviser, Angela Williamson. Got a new CAO, and I am getting all my people in place right now. We’ve been here six months, we are starting to work together and it’s getting smooth. It’s been a lot of work getting stuff together, getting to know everybody and getting where people work together. It’s so much smoother now than it was first starting out.”
Q: Can you talk about those first few months, especially learning to work with the City Council?
A: “When I first started working here, I was doing three or four different jobs. I was the mayor, I was doing my CAO work, and our PIO was sick, and everyone still needs to keep Traci Ponder in their prayers. But I was signing 150 sheets of paper a day on different documents, and that was time-consuming. Me and the City Council didn’t really fight; it was just getting different ideas together and working together.”
Q: Recently, it was announced that Police Chief Shane McWilliams is retiring from the Bossier City Police Department. Can you talk about what’s next for BCPD?
A: “I want to say I appreciate Shane McWilliams and all that he did here for 29 years. He did a lot for the city and he worked hard and he retired. Now we have an interim chief and I am looking for a chief. The Police Department is strong, and I am so happy to have all of our public safety people in the city. The Fire Department is great. (Fire) Chief Brad Zagone has his group of people and they are really good. Chris [Estess] is leading the Police Department. All of our police and fire are doing great.”
Q: Has Substitute Chief Chris Estess expressed interest in filling that role permanently?
A: “He is going to take the test. I know he will pass and we will see how it goes from there.”
Q: Tomorrow (Tuesday, Jan. 11) there will be a special meeting to discuss SporTran potentially expanding into south Bossier. Can you talk updates? Have you spoken with SporTran ahead of this meeting?
A: “No, ma’am; and to tell you the truth, I only talked to him [SporTran CEO Dinero Washington] about 30 minutes the first time I met him. That’s all we talked, nothing from way back talking or nothing like that. Tomorrow is going to be a workshop, but I haven’t talked to him since.”
RELATED VIDEO>>> So is SporTran expanding into south Bossier City or not?
Q: Speaking with City Council President Don Williams, he says after speaking to residents of south Bossier, it’s [SporTran] not something that they need or want down there. Have you heard the same sentiment from south Bossier residents?
A: “Basically, yes ma’am, I have too. There’s really not that many people who ride the bus anymore. Even our city attorney rode the bus the other day, and he says there were only two other people on the bus during his hour and a half ride.”
Q: How do you see the future of SporTran in Bossier City going?
A: “I guess we need to sit down and talk to the council members and find out which way we want to go. We have to do what’s best for Bossier City. It’s a lot of money we pay for just a few people to ride.”
Q: When it comes to economic development, several residents have spoken up about how they would like to see things come to the northern and southern parts of the city. Can you discuss any plans that may be in motion going into this year?
A: “The [Walter O. Bigby] Carriageway is going to help make the north and south a whole lot easier to travel to. We will be working on the bridge pretty soon. It’s not going to be done this year, but that’s going to help north and south Bossier. We have a lot going down in the east bank. There are some things that I cannot talk about right now, but will be opening up down there. I want to talk about BeauxJax down there. They have done a really great job, have expanded and are the heart and soul of the east bank. Everyone down there is great and are doing a great job. Down in south Bossier, there will be several restaurants that will be built down there this year. I know for a fact that’s going to happen, and it’s going to be breaking ground real soon. Hopefully, some more ideas are going to be happening around Brookshire’s. Brad with Brookshire’s and everything they’ve done for the city, opening up a store up north and the Brookshire’s Grocery Arena that he supplies stuff for. He’s done really great down there too with all the different shows and volleyball that will be happening again at Brookshire’s Grocery Arena. North Bossier is growing and so much stuff is going that way that we need more houses. There’s another 500 houses we have built down in south Bossier. I don’t really classify it as north or south; it’s all Bossier City to me.”
Q: So this year, we can expect announcements for the east bank as well as south Bossier?
A: “Yes. They’ve already released that Red River Brewery is going to be coming down to the east bank, but there are some other things that we are looking at now on how to use the property we have the best we can.”
Q: Are there any other big projects you are looking forward to this year?
A: “LTRI (Louisiana Tech Research Institute) is opening in May, I believe. Louisiana Downs has a new owner. Kevin Preston is putting a lot of money into that and is going to make it similar to Hot Springs. A lot of things are going to be going on over there. The ribbon cutting for Tinsley Baseball Park will be Jan. 29. That will be complete and we will be ready for all the teams to come play in February. A lot of travel ball will be coming for that. Not only that, I want travel ball with a lot of different sports, like soccer and pickleball.”
Q: What’s the latest with DiamondJacks?
A: “Hopefully, that’s going to be opening up. They are working on it now. I would like to see it opening back up again. I would like for us to be able to use that and make some money out of that and get that thing back to going. They are working on trying to get it back going.”
Q: What do you want Bossier City residents to know going into 2022?
A: “In 2022, Bossier City should feel safer. We are also working on cleaning these streets. I know it don’t look like we clean them, but I do hope people will be more considerate with their trash and not throw things out of their cars and trucks. But we are working on it. We have a new street sweeper coming. Wash Rich [director of Bossier City Public Works] has been doing a great job since he has been on board with that department. We are slowly but surely cleaning the streets. I-20, the bid got thrown out of it, but we started clearing up I-20 at one time. Hopefully, we can get back on that and the bids come up on that again. I also want to clean up 220. I want everyone to be proud of the city and the streets and how clean the city is. I also want to brag on the City Council. They gave all employees a 2% raise, which will be starting this month. The Surge Entertainment Center by Drew Brees is going to be opening up pretty soon over here at the Bossier mall. When that opens up, it’s going to bring new life into the Bossier mall.”
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