Bastrop officials were elated when the city won first place Community Achievement Award for Outstanding Community Improvement in Basic Services at the Louisiana Municipal Association's Conference held in Lake Charles from July 31 to August 2.

These awards are given to municipalities that have outstanding projects encouraging advances in municipal services. The entries fall into one of three categories: basic services, community services, and economic development.

Bastrop's win in the basic services category was thanks in no small part to its Blights out Bastrop program. This program, created thanks in part to former Director of Community Development Jay-Blackmon-Williams, was put in place to help rid the town of blight that is a danger to the public and causes increased rates of vandalism and crime.

The program deals with issues such as unsafe structures in need of maintenance or assistance, high weeds and grass that need mowing, cleaning up garbage, removing abandoned vehicles, and clearing up fallen trees. Its goal is to clean up old and overgrown property to cut down on animal infestations and get rid of any run-down places that may be a haven for criminal activity. Anyone with blighted property or who has noticed blighted property can call in to report it.

As a result it is hoped the city will see such things as better living conditions, less disease, less crime, and increased community pride. City officials hope this program will give Bastrop a better, more welcoming appearance.

Mayor Cotton is proud of Bastrop's accomplishment and thinks it is very deserving of such an award and program. “It was exhilarating to win because the people of Bastrop deserve it,” he said. “They deserve a program that can clear overgrown lots and get rid of hazards like rats and snakes.”

The city asks for support in fighting the blight in the area. Contact Ashley D. Barfield at abarfield@cityofbastrop.com or (318) 283-3308 with any questions, concerns, or complaints.