Representatives from Ruston and Louisiana Tech came together in a forum to exchange ideas on how to build the relationship between the two.
“I am pleased to say that I feel we have the best relationship ever, at least in the 45 years that I’ve lived here,” said Dan Hollingsworth, mayor of Ruston. “After all we are a university-based community, and I feel that anything the mind can conceive, there’s a possibility when you live in Ruston and have Louisiana Tech.”
Hollingsworth joined three other community leaders in the second “Future of Ruston” forum Thursday, April 18, in University Hall Auditorium hosted by the University Senate.
Larry Jarrell, Tech’s University Senate president, served as the moderator for the forum.
“The University Senate feels it is important to have on-going dialogues between Louisiana Tech University and the city of Ruston,” Jarrell said. “The forum is an opportunity for sharing information between two entities and to address questions from all who attend. Through our collaboration, the university and city of Ruston can forge a bond that is beneficial to all involved.”
The mayor was the first to take the stage, and said he was heppy to address any problems those in attendance had.
“I thought the rain may have scared some away, but I still feel that we shared useful information to our community of Ruston and are continuing to move forward in a positive manner,” he said.
Hollingsworth said he wanted to use his time to inform the attendees on steps being taken to better the community of Ruston.
“We are working to give Railroad Park a facelift,” Hollingsworth said. “Those of you who have been there in July realize that it’s like sitting in a frying pan. There’s not much shade so we plan to buy some new 30 foot oak trees to jumpstart that process.”
There have also been some changes to the fire and police departments, Hollingsworth said.
“It’s ridiculous for us to have a dispatch department for both the fire and police departments,” Hollingsworth said. “When we built the police department it was built to accommodate more people in capacity in the dispatch area so we are now centrally dispatching from the police department.”
There is one problem that Hollingsworth said he cannot resolve.
“I don’t know how you can allow a train to come through your city limits at 50 to 60 miles per hour and not blow the horn,” Hollingsworth said. “That’s a safety issue I’m not sure we can get past.”
On Hollingsworth’s closing remarks, he stated that Ruston has no greater priority or a greater economic partner than Tech.
Hollingsworth said that a few years ago the community recognized that fiber optics might be the utility of the future.
“Since that time we’ve been slowly building a high-speed cable network within the city and are able to offer those services to business customers,” Hollingsworth said. “State law prohibits the city from offering these services to consumers directly; we’d have to have a city wide referendum to gain permission to do so.”
Sabrina Smith, a Ruston community member who was in attendance, said she was pleased with how informative the forum was.
“Although the rain almost kept me from coming, I’m glad that I did because a lot of my questions pertaining to the community that I live in were answered.”
Email comments to phh...@latech.edu.