Recreation Board considers providing assistance at Caney Lake

When the news was presented it caught even several of the Recreation Board members by surprise. Despite being by far the biggest recreation draw in Jackson Parish there is no money alloted to Caney Lake through the Recreation District. 

This was brought to the forefront by Jackson Parish Watershed Commission (JPWC) Vice President, Gary Joyner, during the regularly scheduled meeting of the Recreation Board that was held at the Jackson Parish Golf Course on Tuesday. Joyner made a request for the panel members to agree to contribute $12,000.00 to the JPWC to help with the costs associated maintaining the lake. 

“We (JPWC) do not receive any funding from the state and are asking for your help in our effort to continue to make Caney Lake a premier recreation option not only in our parish but in the state as well,” said Joyner. 

In his very informational presentation, Joyner pointed out that Caney Lake is easily the most recognized lake in the state. This was evidenced by his meeting with state of Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser, who in his capacity oversees all state parks and tourism in the state.

“When I mentioned that I was from Jackson Parish, Nungessner gave a big smile and started bragging about how important Caney Lake was to the states tourism industry,” said Joyner. 

Joyner went on to say that according to records, over 55,000 people visited Jimmie Davis State Park and that the JPWC had collected roughly 4,200 envelopes containing boat launch fees at the public boat ramps.

“We would like to do away with collecting boat launch fees to better enhance the experience for visitors to the lake,” continued Joyner. “At present this is the primary way the JPWC generates money to pay us pay for the work we do at the lake but it is not enough.”

Joyner stated that in 2021, $11,060.00 was received in boat launch fees and another $2,500.00 was generated through the sale of permits. This came to a total of $13,560.00 but the JPWC had over $17,000.00 in expenses in maintaining the lake and adjacent areas. 

“If you would assist us with this funding, you would not only be doing our commission a great service but local residents and visitors that use the lake, as we wouldn’t have to ask people to pay for launching their boats,” said Joyner. 

Joyneer further stated that the lake deserves to have money from the Recreation Board allocated to it.

“You apply funds to the Golf Course and the Sports Complex, which is understandable,” said Joyner. “Yet the lake brings in the most revenue for the parish, by far has the most people use it and doesn’t get anything. It is easily the most valuable part of the recreation options in the parish and deserves to have money applied toward it.”

Recreation Board member Jeff Hairston, said he was surprised when he first learned that the Rec Board didn’t provide money to the lake. 

“When I first got on the board, I was amazed when I learned we didn’t put any money toward the lake.”

After further discussion the general consensus was that the board would be in agreement to work with the JPWC but a formal application for a Co-Operative Endeavor Agreement neeed to be submitted. 

The meeting opened with Bruce Thomas addressing the panel of Ricky Cash, Brandon Lamkin, Hairston, Chris Womack, Rod Potts and Sullivan Stevens asking for a progress report on the new nine holes that is planned to be built at the Golf Course. JPRD Director Tommy Davis stated that as part of the five year plan, the first three years involve the cutting and removal of timber which is continuing. It was further stated that the Board is continuing to look at ways to finance the expected 3.2 million dollars it would take to complete the long term project.

Additional discusssion centered on the audit that was presented last month. Questions were raised to further clarify why their was such a drop in revenue in concessions and why there wasn’t better records to identify the loss. Suggestions were also made to have better accounting and recording of point of sale items. 

The meeting ended with no action taken on the requests made by the villages of East Hodge and North Hodge, citing more information needed to be learned before any action could be taken. 

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