Jennings Mayor, Terry Duhon

Kerri Cooke Thursday, March 16, 2017 Comments Off on Jennings Mayor, Terry Duhon
Jennings Mayor, Terry Duhon

As A Mayor And Citizen, He’s Made A Lifelong Commitment To His Community

By Kerri Cooke

Jennings, a small Southwest Louisiana town right off I-10, is a beacon of local culture. It’s home to the Gator Chateau, the Strand Theatre, the Zigler Museum and the Oil and Gas Park.

Jennings continues to establish its significance in Louisiana even after the oil boom. The city is continually expanding its reach and improving its quality.

But this year, it’s facing the end of an era and beginning a new one. Terry Duhon, mayor of Jennings for the past 14 years, is retiring on June 30. He has done many great things for the city while acting with honesty and integrity. So his exit will be felt deeply by the entire community.

Mayor Duhon has been working for the City of Jennings for more than 30 years. When asked what originally made him decide to run for mayor, he said that he had been working with the city for many years already, and had done a lot of work with the previous mayor.

Duhon was considered a good candidate because he had lots of inside knowledge about the city of Jennings already. His predecessor spoke with him and convinced him to run.

Another reason the decision to run for mayor was easy was that Duhon was born and raised in Jennings. His children, grandchildren and friends all live there. He loves his town and wanted to help it continue to grow and expand with each opportunity.

Overall, Duhon says, Jennings is full of wonderful people who love their community.

Another hardship of being mayor is limited resources. The budget is shrinking every year, with the state of Louisiana in a financial bind. Also, tax revenues have been falling. So it can be difficult to do what needs to be done. Duhon says you have to prioritize and can’t always do some of the things you want. But you have to do the most you can with what you have.

He says it’s a hard thing to do because you can’t always give raises to the people you want to give raises to or do that project you desperately want to do. The most necessary things have to be done first and foremost, then whatever money is leftover can be used to fund other things. Duhon says people don’t share your vision every time, but sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith.

Duhon has some favorites among the things he’s accomplished over the 14 years he’s been mayor. He’s proud of one project that’s just beginning. It’s called the North Jennings Development Plan, and it was brought to life a few years ago. Recently, the city was able to connect state Highways 26 and 102 while three-laning the stretch. A continuation of the project, which Duhon won’t be in office to see, will be the creation of a northern bypass where the road will run west to east and connect Highway 26 to Highway 102 to Highway 97. This will allow property to be opened up for development on the north side of the city.

Another project Duhon is proud of is the new Jennings City Hall. The new city hall is housed in an old building that was remodeled in the heart of Main Street. It would’ve been too expensive to fix all the problems the old building had. It was cheaper, and in the best interests of everyone, to move to a new location.

The Duhon Family
Seated: Mayor Terry W. Duhon with wife Judy H. Duhon and father-in-law
Elry (Bud) Hearod. Standing: Son Jake with wife Elisha, granddaughters
Elyse and Ellen, grandson Jude and son Kyle.

Duhon believes the health of a city is judged by its Main Street, so he’s very proud that the city hall offices are now located in a prime position in Jennings. The new building also holds the Zigler Museum.

Duhon says Jennings businesses thrive when they’re next to I-10. But the city is trying to reinvest in Main Street in hopes that people will stop and enjoy the city instead of it just being a rest stop for interstate travelers. Jennings is trying to encourage the growth of businesses within the town and not just on the outskirts. Although Duhon won’t be in office to see many of these improvements, he believes someone has to plant the seeds so the trees will grow.

Another proud moment for Duhon is the new Sowela Technical College campus that will soon be open to students and will allow people to get an education locally.

Some other accomplishments Duhon has on his record are the remodeling of the city library, which was originally built by the Andrew Carnegie Foundation. The City Court was also rebuilt.

Jennings retained its class 3 fire rating; tennis courts and restrooms were added to city parks; and there were road, drainage and sewer improvements.

Words of advice Duhon would give to the incoming mayor: keep your mind open. He says, “You have to listen to people and wade through what they are saying. Don’t just dismiss it.”

He also advises the new mayor to spend tax dollars as wisely as possible and stay fiscally responsible. Duhon says it’s easy to ask for votes, but it’s hard to keep peoples’ trust once you’re in office. You have to keep your word. And if people see you care about the community and you do what you say you’re going to do, then you have a good chance of being re-elected.

Duhon is leaving behind a stream of great work. He is a much-loved mayor. Anyone who has worked for the city for 30 years and been mayor for 14 years is dedicated to his home. His re-elections are testament to the fact that he is a man who has the trust of his people.

He has brought Jennings to a new standard of living. If you just look around the city of Jennings, you’ll be able to see some of Duhon’s many accomplishments. He is in the fabric of the city, and his work and legacy will be carried on into the future.

Duhon’s main wish is to see Jennings continue to grow and expand and become a healthier city. Improvement, growth and adaptability are essential to the survival of a city.

Duhon hopes to see some of the plans that were put into action while he was in office completed in time for him to see them. But if he isn’t here to see everything, he’s confident he did his best work and had a major part in ensuring the successful future of Jennings.

Duhon would like to thank his staff, department heads, city councilmen, family and the people of Jennings, whom he will continue to serve. He says Jennings is a great place to live with great people. His message to Jennings is that he hopes, “God continues to shine on us.”

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