- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 31, 2016

ALEXANDRIA, La. (AP) - Joe McPherson is joining the England Authority, an entity his legislation helped create more than two decades ago when he was a state senator.

The Town Talk reports (https://townta.lk/2c2IE22) Mayor Jacques Roy appointed McPherson to serve as a city representative on the England Authority, which oversees operations of England Airpark.

His first meeting will come Wednesday when the panel meets at noon in a special session.

“I was asked if I would be willing to serve, and I thought it was a great opportunity to contribute to what I feel passionate about, and that’s the excellent development within the community,” McPherson said.

McPherson served six terms as a state senator for District 29, from 1984 to 1996 and from 2000 to 2012. His cousin, Jay Luneau, of Alexandria, is the current senator for the district.

McPherson authored legislation creating England Airpark, but he is quick to give credit to Jim Meyer, considered the driving force behind establishing the airpark, and others for their vision in the endeavor.

Creation of England Airpark “was probably the greatest example of the community really coming together facing the challenge,” McPherson said.

The Alexandria City Council voted 5-2 to approve McPherson’s appointment. Councilmen Ed Larvadain III and Jules Green voted against the appointment. Both men said they believed the appointee should live in Alexandria. McPherson lives in Woodworth.

Councilman Harry Silver, on the other hand, said, “Central Louisiana is Central Louisiana.” Not being a resident of Alexandria shouldn’t prevent appointment of a person to a board if he or she can do a good job, he said.

Roy said there is precedence for appointing non-Alexandrians to represent the city on boards. He also said McPherson’s track record as a senator showed that he worked hard on behalf of Alexandria’s interests.

McPherson said the legislation creating England Airpark did not place residence restrictions on board members.

“A lot of good thought went into the formulation of that legislation, and it wasn’t by accident - it was deliberate - that the membership was not parochial. In other words, you didn’t have to live within the confines of an electoral district or a boundary of a political subdivision,” McPherson said.

He said he appreciates the mayor appointing him and the council approving the appointment. As for the approval not being unanimous, he said he understands “there’s always a little bit of parochialism” in such matters, but he’s looking ahead and welcomes the chance to serve the community.

England Airpark was created in 1992 at the site of England Air Force Base, which closed in December of that year. It has been hailed nationally as a prime example of how to reuse a closed military base.

England Airpark is home to Alexandria International Airport, a military staging base, a staging facility for deportation of immigration detainees, a hotel, restaurant, golf course, residences and businesses.


Information from: Alexandria Daily Town Talk, https://www.thetowntalk.com

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