retired police officer
When did you first move to East New Orleans?
I built a house in Lake Bullard in 1994, and then I found an available lot in Lake Forest Estates and built another house in 1999. We are one block from Lake Forest Charter School, and you can see the lake from our den. At night, it has a calming effect. Life is good, and I really enjoy being home. When my wife and I first moved out here, it was simple and gorgeous; it was paradise. Everything you could imagine, you could find here.
How do you stay active in the East New Orleans community?
I started an all-male organization five years ago called Community Legion. It started when a group of guys got to thinking that we should encourage other men to take on more civic responsibility. We “adopted” Fannie C. Williams Charter School on Dwyer Road and Bullard Avenue.
Why do you focus your efforts on local schools?
When I was a police officer for Orleans Parish, I had a program which raised funds and rewarded kids for academic achievement. If first graders received an A grade in reading, writing and arithmetic, I gave them a financial stipend. They also received some money if they got perfect attendance and another stipend if they earned a A grade in conduct. Their principal would call me and tell me how many students received an award. We gave them money based on what they achieved — I wanted them to have a true return on their investment in education. It was successful. We saw an increase to 72 percent of parental involvement. I truly believe that to be successful, we have to focus on kids in primary school. I’m very interested in reaching kids from grades Kindergarten through sixth grade. At Fannie C. Williams, we did a dad-daughter donuts day, and we had over 160 family members participate.
What are the biggest selling points of East New Orleans?
For your money, it’s the best bargain as far as real estate. You get way more house for your money. We’re not landlocked, we have big yards — both backyards and front yards, not houses that sit right up on the sidewalks. East New Orleans has lots of land. There’s no comparison. We have people with financial means and considerable disposable income. East New Orleans has everything you want: rail, water, airports and easy access to the interstate. There’s no reason why business can’t do well here.
We also have good people here — like-minded people who want East New Orleans to succeed.
What recent developments in East New Orleans give you the most pride?
The high point for us was to get our hospital back. We also have the Joe Brown Park with an indoor pool and a track and baseball teams; it’s really a beautiful park. I know many of the people in the East New Orleans Business Development District (East NOLA BDD). They are very bright people who are diligent and committed to the community and want to attract businesses. I see the East NOLA BDD really having an impact in this area and impacting it quickly. The leaders are pillars of our community and are committed to making East New Orleans better. These people can live wherever they want, and they choose to live in New Orleans east and in this community.
What would a “dream development” in East New Orleans be for you?
I would love to see an IKEA out here or a large Bass Pro Shop. That would attract a lot of business and would have the ability to draw people from Mississippi, Florida, Alabama and beyond.