Bastrop Mayor Betty Alford-Olive hosted a luncheon at the Visitor Center Tuesday to formally welcome the new school board superintendent Dr. George Noflin, while also reacquainting public officials with her Goals from the Economic Development Strategic Plan for Bastrop and Morehouse Parish.
“We’re trying to pay attention to the west end of town,” Alford-Olive said.
Alford-Olive said she “saluted” the Rev. Payne Montgomery for all the work he’s done on the west end of Bastrop with his non-profit organization the North Louisiana Community Enhancement Corporation.
“He’s really been a force on that side of town, but there’s some things he can’t address such as the sewer system. That sewer system is 60 plus years old,” she said. “I’ve written to several members of the legislature such as Senator [Mary] Landrieu and Rep. [Rodney] Alexander, asking for help.”
Alford-Olive said the town has also been in touch with property owners of abandoned homes on the west end of town.
“We’re working harder to encourage them to improve the property,” she said.
After Alford-Olive stated some of her ideas for improvements, she formally introduced Noflin.
Noflin said he “recognizes” and “appreciates” the “open arms everyone has presented him.”
He pointed out Goal 4 on the mayor’s Economic Development Strategic Plan. This goal states that the local educational system, from kindergarten through post-secondary schools, is rated the best in the state.
“There is room for improvement in our school system,” he said. “If we keep doing the same thing over and over again, we’re going to get the same results over and over again.”
Noflin said there will be several changes in the school system July 1, the day he will officially begin his new position as superintendent.
“There will be a lot going on and I plan to be in the mix of all of it,” he said.
At the end of the luncheon, guests were allowed to ask Noflin questions about changes and improvements with the school system.
Local businessman Ivory Smith said he had heard the Louisiana School Board had asked for a limit on parent presentation, meaning parents would be limited to the time they could speak during meetings.
Noflin answered, “I haven’t heard anything about that. The Louisiana School Board and the Morehouse Parish School Board are two different things.”
Director of Bastrop Mainstreet Marc Vereen asked if school facilities would receive more attention form its maintenance.
Noflin said a “crew” had gone through the schools and made some improvements.
“They may not be perfect, but they look a lot better,” he said.
Arnett Jewelry store owner Susan Arnett asked if parents could contribute to the schools’ maintenance.
Noflin answered: “Some parents are willing to do whatever it takes. Unfortunately, not all parents feel that way.”
Noflin ended the luncheon by saying he plans to work closely with everyone to keep communication open.
“If we have good news or bad news, we need to let the press know so that the truth about a situation can get out there,” he said “We have to tell our story before other people start telling different stories and put a spin on it.”
Noflin said he plans to use his experience within other school systems to make a difference in Morehouse Pairsh.
“I have a passion for what I do,” he said. “I’m glad to be here. I’m sure I’m at the right place at the right time.”