west monroe, LA (Lafayette, Swartz, Many: appointed, lawyers, homes)
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Aw Let The Monroeurban Boy Tell U, Monroe Is On The Rize And Is Welcoming All Forms Of Career, The Current Mayor Has Put The City In Its Best Financial State Ever With Over 10 Million Dollars In The Surplus. So Many Building Are Finally Up For Grabs Downtown, Businesses Are Flocking Here And The City Has A New Attitude, New Race Car Track Coming, College Growing Fast And Population. They Are Throwing Up Homes And Apartments Ever Where In West Monroe, And Northern Monroe We Would Love To Have U Here!!!!
Im From Monore, And I Love It. Im Moving To Oklahoma Soon Though To Mature As A Person Outside Of Louisiana. I Agree With Wendy G, Monroe/westmonroe Is So Great And Had A Great Atmosphere, But For Some Reason We Cannot Get Over That Hump As Far As Progressing To The Next Level, We Are Closer Now Than Ever Though. You Will Find It Very Easy Here, And Will Like West Monroe, But U May Wanna Ask About The Paper Mill, Haha, I Wont Say Though!!!
As to why paper mills stink to high hell? It's because of the use of sulfuric acid in the burning process of wood products. Also, the wood naturally holds sulfur compounds. Sulfurs are notoriously bad smelling (recall high school chem lab), so there ya go. Does it hurt real estate? I feel it does, it'd be discouraged to live anywhere downwind from a paper mill, you're just going to hate life.
You can smell the paper mill EVERYWHERE. Even in Monroe itself. You're just used to the smell after a while of being here. My husband and I went to visit family in California for a week. When we stepped out of the Monroe airport... we smelled papermill. When he first moved here from California, we got in the car after the airport, and he said, "Why does your town smell like a fart?". :/
i abosolutely cannot smell the paper mill in Monroe at all, until i cross the bridge to West Monroe around the area of the paper mill. I been here all my life and you cant get use to that smell at all(i admit it stinks), but I never had too cuz i dont live anywhere near it. I always stayed in the central part of town and I never notice the smell until I and within 2 miles of the mill. I go to college, shop, club, go out to eat, pay bills, relax, go to festivals and all................the odor has not ever been a problem unless im in the near vicinity of it.
I lived in Monroe/West Monroe for 12 years. Grew up there. It is, by far, the worst possible place to live and raise a family aside from DMZ-like downtown areas of major cities. While there are wonderful memories I have of it, I HATED living there. And when I lived there, it was 100 times better than it is now. It's extremely crime-ridden, poverty-ridden, racist and so backwards, I don't even know where to start.
The drug problem, specifically Crystal Meth and marijuana, is indicative of the majority of its population: trashy and poor. Not to say that there are not wonderful, educated people there. There certainly are. However, most educated people leave on the first multi-wheeled vehicle that can get them out of there. I sincerely admire those who are able to stay and tolerate its ancient mentality. For one, it's geologically segregated.
Much of Monroe is one race, while West Monroe is another, geographically separated by the river. Jobs are almost non-existent and the leadership in the area isn't cohesive or forward-thinking enough to change that. Zoning is non-existant, so you have trashy businesses and homes next to nice ones.
There is NO growth. Every decent business has migrated to the Interstate while the CORE of residential Monroe/West Monroe has DIED. My last visit a couple of months ago stunned me with its ghost-town atmosphere.
The thought process of many of its residents is rooted in old-time Southern beliefs. Much of the "money" exists only in a few of the key families still remaining. As a result, not much legitimately gets done in terms of equal-opportunity. Wages/salaries are extremely low, because they can be - corporations that DO exist in Monroe/West Monroe KNOW they can control that since they are the only game in town, and taxes are extremely high, because they can be. Nice housing is comparable to similar housing in Texas, only there are a plethora of jobs, growth and no state income or food tax in Texas. The paper mill odor alone is enough to drive away most people.
There are no professional sports, very little in terms of museums or arts. Again, those who continue to provide such things are to be GREATLY admired since it is many times, a losing battle. The university has some amazing people running it, which is really a highlight of the area. The landscape is beautiful the further west one goes, but you have to hold your nose and, frankly, be independently wealthy so as not to be aware that you are being screwed financially by job wages and taxes. Many of those I know who stayed, did so because of family, which is understandable to an extent. However, schools have become very bad overall and since eating is more important than NOT eating, it's becoming more and more of a trend that even those who stay for family have to agree that their opportunities are much more plentiful and financially beneficial in Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, etc. It's not that those of us who lived there don't care, it's just a very pointless battle much of the time and when taking care of your family is your priority, one can only go so far in that town. I, personally, was making $12,000 a year working in Monroe when I left. I now make more than 15 times that, with no state income tax, professional sports, an international airport, lots of arts-related amenties, better schools, better shopping and a much larger intellectually-based and non-racist-based population in Texas. It's just not worth it to move my family back "home." Home is where you make it. And one can't make much of a home in Monroe/West Monroe anymore.
You know you live in a backwoods, old-school area when one is constantly corrected when one refers to the area as Monroe, when standing in West Monroe. What these narrow-minded people don't understand is that it is ALL the Monroe AREA. Jobs, tourism, etc. all look at the two cities as the same AREA and are all driven by the same economic factors. I guarantee when State Farm closed down their offices, people in West Monroe were happy because Monroe had lost an employer. It affected West Monroe just as badly as it did Monroe. And if businesses keep wanting to close down their shops in residential Monroe/West Monroe to migrate further west to the I-20 West Monroe area, guess what? Monroe residents aren't going to drive to Vicksburg to go shopping or eat. They are going to cross the river to eat and spend money in West Monroe. I live in a far north Dallas suburb, but I'm still a DALLAS resident. Where do I work? Dallas. Where is my professional sports team? Dallas. If Dallas blew up tomorrow, would it impact my suburb? YES! So just because I don't live in the Dallas city limits doesn't mean I'm not a Dallas area resident. Hearing West Monroe residents talk so poorly about Monroe is really comical. If they had ANY interest in their economy surviving, they would merge the towns or, at the very least, put on a unified front to help bring business to the area as a whole instead of using the river as a geological racial divide. It's truly sad and, unfortunately, getting worse. That is why many of the disenfranchised youths of the area resort to drugs, both using and selling. It's the only way to bring in money to many of them.
It's very easy to leave and spout why Monroe/West Monroe is a lousy place to live, and many current residents take great offense to such an accusation, but I see so many of them eventually leave and come to the same realization. It's not necessarily a happy realization, but it is an unfortunate fact. With the way things are (mis)managed in Northeast Louisiana, there is no future. The only way to even scratch the surface of change is to make REAL change.
Merge the cities and governments. Reintegrate and bring these towns into the 21st century. Push out the paper mills. Do EVERYTHING to encourage businesses to move to Monroe/West Monroe. Fight crime vigorously. Give the youth something to aspire to. Give current residents a reason to want to stay. Give former residents a reason to return. Stop allowing "old money" and religion to play such a large part in decision-making. And, most of all, understand your ROLE in the area. You won't ever be Dallas or Houston, or even Shreveport. You will be Northeastern Louisiana. Go beyond your city limits and CONQUER the entire region. Give tourists a reason to come or, at the very least, give them a reason to want to stop while passing through. Again, the paper mill alone pushes most people down the road to Ruston.
The first step is realizing that it is the 21st century and that instead of many little schools, your population has dwindled to the point where you need a couple of BIG ones. West Monroe high and Monroe high. That's it. Maybe 5 or 6 junior highs and 12 or so elementary schools. And colleges? You don't need ULM, LA Tech and the Community College. You need the Community College and one university from Alexandria, to Bastrop, and from Vicksburg to Arcadia. ONE university. And do that one university RIGHT.
Now, pay teachers at the fewer schools MORE money to attract the best and churn out better-prepared students.
Stop encouraging liquor stores, check-cashing places, payday loan places and pawn shops as your main residential businesses. That large number of poverty-based businesses make things WORSE by encouraging the use of such places that inevitably bring down the income-level of your residents. Designate an area of town (or OUT of town) for those kinds of places. Revitalize residential areas with businesses that will actually support the GROWTH and lifestyle, positively, for its residents.
The last thing Monroe/West Monroe has a lot of room for is competition. Put in the right mix of businesses that are modern enough for travelers, yet few enough to encourage the stability and ability for them to thrive. HEAVILY encourage more arts-centric activities. The Little Theater is fantastic! The public radio station is wonderful! There seem to be a lot of things done at the horse pavillion in West Monroe. Lots of nice hotels and restaurants too. Is there really a need for the Monroe Civic Center anymore? Build one nice theater for everyone, preferably at the University, and clear out the land to make better use of it.
Many of the remaining residents are quickly aging, yet the hospital system is HORRIBLE. Why isn't there just one, maybe two REALLY nice hospitals managed properly? I realize that is probably a bigger problem than just Monroe, but again, it's all economically-based, so if the residents aren't insured or not paying their bills, thus the hospitals are going under, fix the root problem, economy, jobs, etc., and those things improve.
The unfortunate thing is, as long as Monroe/West Monroe are racially and socially divided, so will be their economy and ability to grow. As long as they don't realize that they are much SMALLER now than they were 10, 20, 30 years ago. Since 1990, the population has decreased 9% while dropping 4% just since 2000. Even West Monroe, where residents will tell you things are BOOMING, has actually steadily dropped in population every year. While their population was 14,000+ in 1990, they are only at 12,000+ now. Yes, the drop is small in numbers, but that is a 14% drop! Especially when many residents believe the area is BOOMING.
For many of those living in Monroe/West Monroe, what is greatly missing is perspective. I know older residents in their 80s who have never traveled outside the state. I know residents in their 50s and 60s who heavily discourage their children from leaving the area completely discount FACTS when trying to talk their children into staying. The fact is, at its current state and direction, there is no future for its youth. The older citizens clinging onto the past will die, the middle aged who are there will probably be a 50% stay and those under 30 will continue to exit in large numbers as the overall economy begins to pick back up and the migration to areas where growth and the ability to flourish is. Those who stay (and aren't in jail) will be poor, will get poorer, and contribute very little to the future of the area, except for lawyers, doctors and politicians who are really the only "new money" that exist.
That is...unless REAL change happens.
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