A delegation from Fort Polk Progress recently traveled to Washington, D.C. for a series of meetings concerning Fort Polk and the surrounding region.


A delegation from Fort Polk Progress recently traveled to Washington, D.C. for a series of meetings concerning Fort Polk and the surrounding region.
A coalition of the six geographic parishes surrounding Fort Polk, Fort Polk Progress seeks to be the force that will help keep the growth in Vernon Parish and the surrounding region coordinated, keep the lines of communication open among the various entities working toward the same goal and be a liaison between Fort Polk and the communities.
On April 13, the group met at the Pentagon, with an introduction and overview by former Fort Polk Commander Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero.
Barbero provided the group with a tour of the Pentagon and then spoke at a luncheon in the Pentagon dining room. The group also heard from experts on military housing and barracks and received briefings on Fort Polk's stance in the Army.
Later that evening, Joseph F. Calcara, deputy assistant Secretary of the Army (Installations, Housing and Partnerships) Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Installations and Environment) and Tim Ford, CEO Association of Defense Communities were set to be the guest speakers.
On April 14, the Washington visitors will meet with the Louisiana 2011 Congressional delegation: Senator David Vitter, Senator Mary Landrieu, Congressman John Fleming and Congressman Rodney Alexander.
The Greater Vernon Parish Chamber of Commerce's Fort Polk Progress Committee, headed by Mike Reese, recently received its bylaws, said Eddie Wise, executive director of the Vernon Chamber of Commerce.
"Soon the committee will spin off into its own entity," he added, the second committee to do so since the chamber came into existence. The Vernon Parish Tourism Commission had its beginnings as a chamber committee as well.
Wise said that the City of Leesville has pledged $25,000 to Fort Polk Progress, while the Vernon Parish Police Jury has committed $30,000.
Traveling to Washington D.C. were: Paul Sawyer, director of Federal Programs, Louisiana Department of Economic Development; Avon Knowlton Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance; Robert Rose, mayor, City of Leesville; Michael Reese, president, Fort Polk Progress; Haley Blakeman, project manager, Center for Planning Excellence; Jackie Self, superintendent, Vernon Parish School System; Mike Perkins board member, Vernon Parish School Board; Eddie Wise, executive director, Vernon Chamber of Commerce; Jim Tuck, president, Vernon Parish Police Jury; Jon Grafton, executive director, England Airpark Authority; Brady Baudin, director of economic development, Cleco Power Company; Ranelle Birmingham, president, Vernon Parish Chamber of Commerce; Lee Birmingham, ERA Sarver Real Estate/Vernon Beauregard MLS; Rhonda Plummer, treasurer, Vernon Parish Police Jury; Jim Merritt, president, Beauregard Chamber of Commerce; Melvin Haymon, Vernon Parish Police Jury; Mack Patel, owner, Holiday Inn Express, Leesville; George Swift, president and CEO of the SWLA Economic Development Alliance; Leroy Cooley, mayor, Town of Anacoco; Rick Ranson, vice president and director of Economic Development, Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce; Ron Roberts, mayor, City of DeRidder.