Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Plain Dealing's New Town Hall

Plain Dealing Municipal Complex, 1979. Johnnie Parham Collection: 2002.004.078.

Forty-one years ago today, Plain Dealing’s new town hall was officially opened, with some 200 residents, local officials, and well-wishers on hand for the ceremony. During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Mayor Leon Sanders stated, “We’re very proud of this building. It’s been a long time in the making, and I know the people of Plain Dealing can be especially proud when they walk in this building because it’s paid for.”

When the town council voted to build the new town hall in 1976, they were hoping to receive help with funding for the new building from the federal Economic Development Administration and constructed within a year. When they learned there would not be funding help from the federal program, Mayor Sander’s declared, “we’re going to build it one way or the other.” A bond issue did not fund the project; instead, funding came through the town’s budget, funds accrued from sales tax and water sales, and 40,000 revenue sharing monies.

Flag-raising ceremony, 2 Dec. 1979
Part of the ceremonies included a flag-raising. The Roach Strayhan Holland Post of the American Legion and the Wykes-Strange Veterans of Foreign Wars donated the flag pole. The local veterans that performed the flag-raising ceremony were World War I veterans Carter McKinney, Clyde Allum, and Sid Weeks; Viet Nam veteran Frank Bradley, and William Arnold, a veteran of the Korean Conflict. Plain Dealing’s ex-mayor, Doug McKellar, a World War I veteran, also participated in the flag-raising ceremony.

Plain Dealing’s Board of Aldermen - Mrs. Tommie B. Nance, Billy Weeks, Vernon Malone, David Malone, and Earl Peters served on the opening’s officiating committee. “Other dignitaries present at the opening ceremony were Bossier City Mayor Marving Anding, Bossier Parish School Superintendent John McConathy, Bossier Parish Clerk of Court Wilna Mabry, Benton Mayor George Forrest and Senator Foster Cambell.”

Mayor Sanders used the ceremony as an opportunity to honor 21 Plain Dealing residents, who were members of the volunteer ambulance service. These men and women were Julia Budwah, Sallie Chandler, Angela Cox, Barbara Cox, Mary Elizabeth Crawford, Charles Dibbler, Jeanette Dibbler, James Foster, Velma Hightower, Rebecca Lewis, Ann Lusk, Vernon Malone, Jeanette McCalmon, Ava Merrill, Thomas Merrill, Dianne Nuckolls, Rhonda Singletary, Arthur Turnley, Marion Turnley, Billy Weeks and Caroline Wilson.

Leon Sanders c. 1939, Flow Whittington
Bigby Price Collection: 1998.046.113.
Sanders explained to the crowd that each of these men and women “completed 81-hours of training to be certified as emergency medical technicians.” He also stated, “The volunteers provide 24-hour-a-day staffing for the ambulance which the town recently received through a grant.”

The new town hall building, located on the corner of Arkansas and Palmetto Streets, offered 5,500 square feet of space and “was constructed at a cost of just under $250,000.” Providing a large town meeting room, offices for all town officials, including the police and fire chiefs, the water department, town marshall, and the volunteer emergency ambulance service.

When Sanders passed away in 2004, the then-current Plain Dealing Mayor David Smith wrote about how Leon Sanders left his mark on Plain Dealing. As Plain Dealing’s mayor for 40-years, Sander’s had a lot to be proud of, including building this new municipal complex. In

Smith’s article, he states, “It will be named the Leon Sanders, Jr. Municipal Complex in 2005 in his memory.” Though the name did not change in 2005, it was not long before the resolution became a reality.

By: Amy Robertson

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