March 12, 2007
Reported by: Britney Glaser
With a population creeping below the 10,000 mark, the city of DeRidder is facing a situation where it needs to expand in order to attract more businesses and residents. The city of DeRidder's plan to raise the population has become controversial and ignited hundreds of opinions of the residents living on the outskirts of the city limits.
Ruthelma Rummel, who lives in rural Beauregard Parish, says, "It's just a nice way to live. I've always lived in the country and I would never want to live in the city."
When you talk about country life, these rural residents seem to light up. Joanne Cooke lives outside of DeRidder. She says, "I grew up here. I grew up less than two miles from where we live now."
But, in living in a close proximity to a city, many Beauregard Parish residents have their property being looked at against their will. Jerry DeWitt with the City of DeRidder is heading up the annexation process in conjunction with Mayor Ron Roberts. DeWitt says, "Over time, they would receive all of the benefits of the city infrastructure, the city services that anyone else would have."
Rural area residents, though, say they already have everything they need. Ricky Franklin says, "There's nothing the city could offer me other than taxes that I don't already have." Cooke adds, "We have all the services we need. I wouldn't even know what to ask for!"
In rural areas, restrictions differ significantly from the city. "Hunting or fishing or riding my four-wheelers," says Franklin, "things like that, that I grew doing and I'm raising my boys to do now."
As part of the city's plan for annexation, they could possibly allow for livestock, burn piles and the use of firearms. Still, this isn't enough to put some residents at peace with the idea of annexation. Lawrence Jarrell, who lives outside of DeRidder's city limits, says, "I was abhorred at the city coming this far out into the country." Sherman Franklin says, "I think the city might as well just pick up and ride on."
While annexation remains on the city's agenda, it cannot be pushed on the residents without approval. DeWitt says, "They are the deciding factor. There is absolutely no way in Louisiana for a person to be annexed without a say."