NEWS

We believe

DeRonTalley, Editor @DeRonTalley
Nancy Stitch, District Manager for Capital One Bank, and Donaldsonville Branch Manager, Tammy Dale stand in front of construction at the bank.

It’s no secret that doing good is contagious. For four businesses along Mississippi Street, they’ve caught the same spruce-it-up bug as they make renovations to lead the way in the beautification efforts of Donaldsonville.

Missy Jandura, Executive Director for Mainstreet Donaldsonville and the Donaldsonville Downtown Development District, said that’s what the Mainstreet program firmly believes, “make one good effort and others follow in tandem.”

“Just by beautifying and keeping up the energy and keeping the optimism and showing everyone that having pride in your community is a ripple affect and here we are now looking at four really nice sized projects on Mississippi Street,” Jandura said. “It’s so inspiring that everyone is understanding to take care of what they have and treasure what they have.”

David and Lydia Hambrick have been working nonstop to convert the old Ascension Bank building into a banquet and reception hall called, “The Columns on the River.” Soon after, Tammy Dale, branch manager at Capital One Bank, began the work to remodel the outside of the building. To continue the tandem, Jay Lemann and Lemann Farm Supply began some inside work on their building and investor Mark Anderson bought the old Belle House and began cleaning phases.

All of this comes after volunteers like Jandura and dozens more painted about 17 buildings’ insides and outsides, including the Donaldsonville Chief Office.

Jandura said the efforts just help the community as a whole.

“It’s amazing because all of these buildings were from the 1800’s, they’ve all seen the battle and are still standing,” Jandura said. “Here they are just coming back again just like a phoenix that just keeps coming up and rising up.”

“What I really appreciate is all of the owners and merchants inside are so excited about it. Everyone is excited and the enthusiasm behind it and saying ‘oh, look at how good this looks’,” Jandura said.

The Hambrick’s plan to open a hall in Donaldsonville was all Lydia’s idea David said. The couple bought the old bank in November of 2013 and is now only awaiting an approval from the Louisiana State Fire Marshall to officially open for business.

“People have already been beating the door down to schedule an event at the hall,” Lydia said.

Lydia said a wedding reception has already been booked for April 2015 and she is just thrilled at the outcome of their work. The Hambricks also bought the building adjacent the bank and plan to convert it into an inn that would have two bridal suites and eight rooms.

For Dale, who’s been at Capital One for 38 years, the renovation is her gift to her City of Donaldsonville.

“I wanted to give back to Mainstreet before I retired and my gift to the community and Mainstreet Donaldsonville is to have this building renovated,” Dale said.

“My dream has come true and has come to fruition,” Dale said. “The rehabilitation to the façade was to enhance the Donaldsonville Mainstreet and become a leader in its development.”

“Being one of the major properties reconstructing and in the center is so exciting,” Dale said. “It’s my gift to my community.”

Investor Mark Anderson recently bought the Belle House and said he doesn’t really have a plan for it at this time, but he knows he has 6,500 square feet of space and a whole lot of history within it.

“We really hadn’t started construction or anything like that, we’ve just been cleaning up,” Anderson said.

Anderson said as the process goes on he does plan to use the tax advantages of its history and that’s one of the reasons why he bought in the historic district.

“We knew there would be grant money that we could get,” Anderson said.

Anderson said he is hoping to paint a town mural on the blue water tank that sits in front of the house, “like a picture of the Fort.”

“That would really spruce up that area and we’d like to see how the public feels about that, what should be on the mural, what should be in the mural,” Anderson said.

Jandura said the DDD and Mainstreet are definitely looking to get more people on to the tax abatements and tax credits program like Anderson.

Another project Jandura’s programs are looking to get going is the National Parks Services grant for the levee-top. Also the City of Donaldsonville has a redevelopment grant that’s going to be essential for redoing Crescent Park, “which in effect help clean up that area more on Mississippi Street.”

Jandura added: “Our next really big thing is starting a marketing push now that the town is really coming back up that we can market it to new people coming in. The people of Donaldsonville know it’s a treasure, now we need to really become strong and have a presence outside of Donaldsonville to get new investors in to take care of some of these older buildings and love them just as much as the families have.”

“Here they are just coming back again just like a phoenix that just keeps coming up and rising up,” Jandura said.