50 Things You Should Know About Central, Especially if You Live Here!

Do you live, go to school, or work in Central? Do you have family here? Are you thinking of starting a business in Central? Or do you just want to understand more about the City of Central and its 28,000 people?
Then here are 50 things you should know:
When did Europeans first explore what is now the City of Central?
No one knows
for sure. However, the Comite River first began appearing on maps in Europe around 1720, meaning that someone had to explore and map the region before that.
What flags have flown over Central?
Six flags have flown over what is now the City of Central. We were part of the French colony of Louisiana before 1765 (although the area was very sparsely populated); British West Florida from 1765 to 1779; Spanish West Florida from 1779 to 1810; the Republic of West Florida in 1810; the United States from 1810 to 1861; the Confederate States during parts of the Civil War, and again the United States after the Civil War.
What was West Florida?
Your American history books taught you that at the time of the American Revolution there were 13 British colonies in America. But they were wrong! There were 15, including British East Florida and British West Florida. West Florida began at the Apalachicola River in today’s Florida and included the panhandle of Florida, the Gulf coast of Alabama and Mississippi, and the southeastern part of Louisiana north of Lake Pontchartrain, including the area we now call the City of Central. Even today, Southeast Louisiana is called the Florida parishes.
British West Florida had English common law and an elected Assembly — the first democratically elected body in Louisiana. The Assembly sat at varying times in Pensacola, Mobile, Biloxi, and Baton Rouge. In 1776, British East Florida and British West Florida were so far removed from the war that information about the Revolution and communication with the other colonies was extremely slow or nonexistent. However, in 1779, the Spanish in New Orleans joined with some of the Americans living in Baton Rouge to storm British Fort Richmond. It was occupied mainly by German mercenary soldiers who ultimately surrendered.
After the Spanish victory, West Florida became a Spanish colony, separate and distinct from Spanish Louisiana. In 1803, Spanish Louisiana was sold from Spain to France to the United States. However, West Florida remained a Spanish colony until the West Florida revolution in 1810, when the people living here rose up and overthrew the Spanish garrison at Fort San Carlos. They established an independent country, the Republic of West Florida. Today, many land titles in Central originate from land grants from the crown during the existence of British West Florida or Spanish West Florida.
What is Central’s connection to Mexico?
In the late 1700’s, Mexico, California, Texas, Louisiana, and West Florida — which included present-day Central — were all Spanish colonies. El Camino Real, or the Royal Road, was a series of roads maintained by the Spanish government that began in Mexico City and fanned out to all the colonies. Dr. Jesse L. Fairchild, Jr., author of A Historical Sketch of Greenwell Springs, 1850-1950, maintained that a branch of El Camino Real came to West Baton Rouge, continued on the east side of the river through Baton Rouge and then out Greenwell Springs Road. It ended, he said, on the banks of the Comite River where there was a trading post. El Camino Real would have effectively ended in Louisiana in 1803 at the time of the Louisiana Purchase but the portion here probably was used by the Spanish governor of West Florida until the West Florida revolution of 1810.
What is the oldest structure in Central?
The oldest structure and the oldest home we have been able to find in Central is a log cabin built around 1803. It has been partially preserved and integrated into the home of Dr. Nunnally on Greenwell Springs Road south of Hooper.
Why is Central’s water aquifer so good?
Central is part of the Southern Hills aquifer that includes all of Southeast Louisiana. It is the same as the water in Kentwood and Abita Springs. The water in the aquifer is “almost exclusively a soft, sodium bicarbonate type with an average dissolved-solids concentration of about 220 milligrams per liter.” One report showed more than 1,000 water wells in Central. The water quality of the aquifer should not be confused with problems the water company has with its delivery system.
Why do some people say that, historically, Central was a point, not a community?
For decades, “Central” referred only to the corner of Hooper and Sullivan roads where the school was located — not to the larger area.
How did Greenwell Springs get its name?
In 1853, Robert Greenwell purchased the land where the springs are located. He owned the land for only a year or so before selling it to a developer who opened the springs to the public and built the Greenwell Springs Hotel. However, in the short time he owned the springs, it became known as Mr. Greenwell’s Springs. The name stuck and remains to this day as Greenwell Springs. Robert Greenwell is buried in a small cemetery on Denham Road just before Denham
meets Greenwell Springs Road.
Why hasn’t Central’s potential for tourism as a Civil War site been developed?
Central was the scene of some important events during the Civil War. There were several skirmishes in present day Central. However, the most interesting part of our history occurred at the site of the village of Greenwell Springs, where there was a resort and hotel centered around the natural springs there. In late July and early August 1862, Brig. Gen. John Breckinridge, former Vice President of the United States, planned a surprise attack on Baton Rouge, which had fallen to the Union earlier in the year. The plan was to time the attack to the arrival of the powerful Confederate ironclad, the Arkansas. More than 2,600 poorly armed soldiers marched rapidly from Amite down the Greenwell Springs Road, stopping to rest briefly at the Comite River on Monday afternoon, Aug. 4, 1862. The battle occurred early the next morning. The Southern soldiers drove the Union troops to the river but had to retreat because of shelling from Union warships. The Arkansas had engine problems and had to be scuttled and could not neutralize the Union vessels. After the battle, Breckinridge’s men camped at the Greenwell Springs resort. The hotel was used as a hospital for both Confederate and Union soldiers. The Union men who died there were buried on the property near a grove of beech trees but the exact location has been lost to history. The hotel burned mysteriously before the end of the war and the last building was torn down in August 1865. It was the end for a time of an interesting and beautiful little community carefully laid out according to plan.
In modern times, little has been done to preserve the site of the Greenwell Springs Hotel and resort. It was used for decades by the State of Louisiana as a mental institution. BREC developed plans to create an historic site and recreational area there but never did anything. The property has recently been transferred to the Central Community School Board. The village of Greenwell Springs could be restored and made into quite a tourist attraction.
How did people come from Baton Rouge and New Orleans to the resort at Greenwell Springs?
Stage coaches! During the height of the Greenwell Springs resort era in the 1850’s, there were many regular stage coach runs from Baton Rouge to carry people to and from the resort. In 1854, Hutchinson’s Livery Stable was running omnibuses and stages at a cost of $1 one-way or $1.50 round trip. In 1855, three other companies began providing daily service, carrying passengers and supplies. In 1856, John Pleasant had wagons hauling freight and furniture to the resort.
What was the appeal of the springs?
There were 10 or 12 separate springs, each flowing to the surface from a different depth beneath the ground. The water from one spring was good for drinking, another for bathing, another for hot baths, still another for dipping pets, and so on. A concrete structure the size of a very large swimming pool was built over the springs, so that the water from each spring flowed into a vertical tub where a person could be immersed. The water quality was analyzed, and chemists declared that it had the best mineral content of virtually any spring in the United States. Bottled water was shipped to New Orleans. Tourists came from across the country.
What was the grandest night in the history of Central?
Perhaps the evening of June 1, 1854, which celebrated the opening of the Greenwell Springs Hotel, the Spring House, and cottages. Nearly 400 people, many from Baton Rouge, attended. They “barbecued among the pine trees and danced at the Spring House to the music of a brass band.”
What was the Spring House?
During the 1850’s, a beautiful gazebo was built above the springs suitable for dancing or political speech making. Stories abound as to the beauty of the spring house. Greenwell Springs historian Dr. Jesse Fairchild said, “If the site is turned into a tourist attraction, the top buildings for reconstruction would be the Spring
House and after that the hotel.”
What was the greatest musical performance in the history of Central?
Perhaps it was one Saturday night in 1855 when the Army band from the federal garrison in Baton Rouge came to play at the Spring House. Dr. Jesse Fairchild wrote, “Night events at Greenwell Springs were always held in truly spectacular settings. The main approach to the hotel from the Greenwell Springs Road (probably Magnolia Street) and the road from the hotel to the Spring House were brilliantly illuminated by bonfires on elevated platforms. Pine-knot fires lighted the other streets and tallow candles provided light in the cabins. Many individual cabins had their own bonfires.”
Dr. Fairchild wrote, “To view the resort from the Greenwell Springs Road at night was to behold awesome beauty. The dazzling displays of swirling smoke among the tall pine trees and the flickering shadows of blazing bonfires and torches created a grand spectacle.”
On this particular evening, both officers and men of the federal Army had been invited to the barbecue and dancing. By midnight, “the field band was unable to break up the dance, even with the playing of sacred music. Merriment abounded.” The event continued, as they sometimes did, long into the night. In the morning, many awoke just in time to catch their stage coach back to Baton Rouge.
Why did the Greenwell Springs Hotel close? Are the springs still flowing?
The first Greenwell Springs Hotel, built in the 1850’s, was a popular resort, and the spring waters drew travelers from far and wide. However, the Civil War brought a time of great economic hardship and crisis. No one was travelling for pleasure. Ultimately, in 1865, the hotel burned and was not immediately rebuilt. Then in 1910, there were new owners with an influx of capital. A new hotel was built and began operations. However, this time the spring waters were much weaker, and the spring could not support the activity at the resort. It soon closed. Around 1920, the vacant hotel burned. Today the springs are still flowing but the flow is very weak.
Where did the people of Central come from?
Before 1765, the area was basically unoccupied. After the area became the British colony of West Florida in 1765, some pro-British Americans, or Tories, began to move to West Florida. Some settled in the area now known as Central. In the 1790’s a wave of Americans from the Carolinas and Virginia began arriving, often in covered wagons.
After the West Florida revolution and the founding of the Republic of West Florida in 1810, the area was incorporated into the United States, and more settlers began to arrive. In 1839, some Louisianians of French origin moved from Iberville Parish to Frenchtown Road.
From the 1910’s to the 1960’s, some people moved to Central so they would be close to their jobs at Exxon and other plants. Many of them came from Mississippi or the Florida parishes of Louisiana.
In the 70’s and 80’s, some people moved to Central seeking better schools. Since the founding of the Central school system in 2007, a large number of families have moved here from Livingston Parish. Many are former Central residents who went to Livingston for the schools but moved back to Central when the schools here improved.

What is known about black history Central?
Prior to the Civil War, most black people were slaves and lived on large plantations devoted to cotton and other cash crops. But the soil in what is now Central would not support cotton plantations. As a result, there were few if any slaves in Central. In 2007, the Central City News interviewed Mrs. Mary Fisher, who had just had her 106th birthday. An African American and lifelong resident of Central, she said there had been no slaves in Central. She said most black people lived near St. Luke’s Methodist Church on Greenwell Springs Road, which was founded in 1867 by “free people of color.”
In 1866, Congress passed the Post Office Act, listing the post offices in every community across the nation. The area now known as Central had two post offices. What were they?
Greenwell Springs, LA, and Magnolia Springs, LA.
Why is it called Central?
In the 1880’s, the people living in area now known as “Central” lived in a sparsely-populated rural area that was not viewed as a community but several different communities, such as Frenchtown Road, Magnolia, Greenwell Springs, and Fred. Each area had its own one-room school house. Because transportation was so slow, the people in one community did not know the people in other nearby communities. Nevertheless, they had a mutual desire to build a high school for the children in the area. Representatives of the various communities met but could not agree on a location. Finally, Mr. William S. Edwards agreed to donate 30 acres on the southeast corner of Canal (now Hooper) Road and Settlement (now Sullivan) Road to build a school. That settled the matter, and the new school was built there!
It was called the “Central” school, because it was centrally-located among the various one-room school houses. By the 1930’s, some people had begun referring to the area as the “Central community.” However, it was probably the 1950’s or 1960’s before the name really took hold. Until incorporation, many people in Greenwell Springs considered themselves part of the Greenwell Springs community, rather than “Central.”
The group which has had the most difficulty referring to the city as the “City of Central” is probably the U.S. Post Office, which still has not allocated Central its own zip code. People in various parts of the city may find their address to be Baton Rouge, Greenwell Springs, Pride, Baker, or Zachary. However, the Post Office does allow residents to send and receive mail listing their city as Central so long as they use the correct zip code.
Were there cattle drives in Central?
Yes, in the period 1900-1910, Dr. Jesse Fairchild’s father organized two cattle drives every year. He drove hundreds of head of cattle down Greenwell Springs Road to Baton Rouge. Then they headed west on North Street to the river. From there, the cattle were ferried to the Port Allen side and then herded to their winter pastures in the Atchafalaya Basin. The next spring, they came back here the same way.
Central is so beautiful! Why has it never developed like other parts of East Baton Rouge Parish?
Quite simply, because it floods!
Central lies between two rivers, the Comite and Amite, which flood every few years. Old timers understood that it floods and didn’t build. Modern folks know a lot more than the old timers. They build… then it floods… and they wonder why! It’s a low-lying area between two rivers that have no levees.
How did people cross the Amite River and Comite rivers in 1800’s?
On the Amite, there were toll bridges at Magnolia and at Burlington. On the Comite, there were bridges at various times but they frequently washed away. People had to wade or cross on horseback or by wagon. When a rain storm or a flood came, people might have to wait hours or days until the river was shallow enough and calm enough to cross. It was common for travelers from the area to stay over with people living along Greenwell Springs Road.
How did people in what is now Central make a living in the 1800’s?
People had to travel by foot, horseback, or wagon. Roads were poor, and travel was slow. Getting to Baton Rouge could take two or three hours on horseback or by wagon. As a result, people were not able to commute to work like they do today. There were no large plantations or farming operations. Most families in the sparsely-populated area that is now Central were small farmers. They raised enough to feed their own family and perhaps sell a little on the market. One of the things they did was clump gardening, where they planted in clumps rather than rows.
What crops were important to small farmers in Central?
There were the typical crops we have in gardens today with one major exception: Sugar cane. While sugar cane is grown commercially in West Baton Rouge Parish today, one never sees it in East Baton Rouge Parish. But in those days, everyone in Central raised sugar cane as part of their farming. There were several “sugar mills” in Central which consisted of a horse or mule driven cane grinder. The mill owner kept a portion of the cane juice for doing the grinding and gave the rest to the farmer who could use it to make sugar or syrup.
If you lived in Central in the early 1900’s and were hacked, what would have happened to you?
A. You were the victim of a very, very early computer fraud scheme.
B. You lost some fingers while chopping wood.
C. You were injured at karate school.
D. You were bused to school by horse-drawn wagon.
Well, it wasn’t A or C, because there weren’t any computers or karate schools in Central in the early 1900’s. It could have been B, if you weren’t careful, but we are thinking of D. In the early 1900’s, children in Central were carried to school by horse-drawn school buses called hacks!
When did telephone service come to Central?
It came in the 1930’s. The Baton Rouge phone directory of 1938 listed 45 homes and businesses in what is now Central. The lines ran from Baton Rouge up Greenwell Springs Road. One line divided and went up Joor to Hooper. Another divided at Sullivan and went up to Hooper. The Greenwell Springs Hospital also had phone service, but its service came from Denham Springs and across the Amite. The businesses with phones were:
• George Denham, gravel
• Magnolia Sand and Gravel
• W. D. Edwards store on Sullivan Road
• Red & White store on Hooper and another on Greenwell Springs Road
• Mrs. D.D. Smith grocer on Greenwell Springs Road
• Sam Sabella grocer, also on Greenwell Springs Road
Who was the most influential man in the history of Central?
Probably J. A. Smith, the principal of Central High School from 1937-1967 and Central Private School from 1967-1978. His strict discipline and devotion to
academics changed an uneducated rural population into the leaders of a community were education and scholarship were highly valued.
Does Central have a railroad?
Yes it does! The Illinois Central railroad (now Canadian National) crosses the lower part of Central. The Natalbany Railroad was built in the 1920’s connecting Greenwell Springs with Natalbany in Tangipahoa Parish to haul timber from Central to the saw mill. It ran east-west through the property formerly known as Wanetiri Lakes east of Greenwell Springs Road and south of Hooper.
In the early 1850’s, a railroad called Major Raney’s Line was proposed that would have connected New Orleans to Jackson, MS. The proposed railroad was to run through Central just west of the Amite River. However, it was never built.
Who was the first Central High football player to win a football scholarship to LSU and actually play for the Tigers?
Dr. James Gardner, now a member of the Central Community School Board
During the 1980’s and 1990’s, local businesses organized the Central Area Business Association, or CABA, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce refused to allow CABA to affiliate as a Chamber of Commerce. Why?
Because Central was not a city.
Prior to 1974, the Louisiana Constitution had a provision forbidding the creation of any new cities in East Baton Rouge Parish besides Baton Rouge, Baker, and Zachary. As a result, incorporating the City of Central was a legal impossibility. How did the Constitution get changed and why?
I was then a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives and a delegate to the Louisiana Constitutional Convention of 1973. As a delegate, I offered a proposed amendment to allow the creation of additional cities in East Baton Rouge Parish, citing the desire of some residents of Scotlandville led by Acie Belton to form a new city and the possibility that Central may one day want to incorporate. Afraid much heated debate, the convention adopted the amendment, and it is now part of our State Constitution. Mayor President Woody Dumas was so angry that he threatened to oppose passage of the entire constitution if that provision were not taken out. However, Gov. Edwin Edwards and the delegates refused.
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Who led the effort to incorporate the City of Central?
Local businessman Russell Starns, who later served as president of the Central Community School Board. Legally speaking, he was the Incorporator of the City of Central.
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When was the City of Central founded?
The people of the proposed City of Central voted to incorporate on April 21, 2005. The first mayor, Mac Watts, police chief Doug Browning, and the first city council were sworn in on July 11, 2005, which is generally considered the date of incorporation. The first city officials were appointed by then-Gov. Kathleen Blanco.
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How many mayors has Central had?
Mayor Mac Watts (2005-2014) and Jr. Shelton (2014-present)
During the battle to incorporate the City of Central, some citizens suggested that a better name might be Greenwell Springs. “It sounds lovely!” one said. What other names were humorously proposed?
Because Central is located between two rivers, the Amite and the Comite, just as the Garden of Eden was located between the Tigres and Euphrates rivers, one writer in the Central City News suggested — tongue in cheek — that it be called, “New Mesopotamia”!
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Why doesn’t Central celebrate the 4th of July?
Prior to incorporation in 2005, Central did not have an organized 4th of July celebration. Rather, people attended the celebration on the levee in Baton Rouge. After Central was incorporated, some citizens wanted to have a special celebration of Central’s own Independence Day or Incorporation Day. Most celebrations have been held on July 11. This year, the Mayor decided to hold Central’s annual celebration, called the Central Birthday Bash, on July 4th, so that both holidays would be properly commemorated in Central. This year’s event will begin at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 4 at Wildcat Stadium with music and then fireworks at 9 p.m.
How is Central governed?
The City of Central (pop. 28,000) is governed in accordance with state law. The applicable statute is the Lawrason Act, which applies to all municipalities that have not adopted a city charter. Under the Lawrason Act, Central has a mayor-council form of government. There are currently five members of the City Council, all elected at-large from throughout the city. However, effective with the elections this fall, the City Council will be composed of seven with two elected at large and five from single-member districts.
The City Council passes all ordinances, approves the city budget, approves proposed taxes, has final say on planning and zoning matters, and approves the contract for city services. Because of its decision to privatize city government, the City of Central is unique in Louisiana and quite different from other Lawrason Act cities.
Central is Louisiana’s only privatized city, but what does that mean?
Historically, when a municipality was incorporated in Louisiana, it would start small and grow. The mayor and town council would levy taxes and hire city employees as needed. In many cities, this has led to a growing bureaucracy and often waste and inefficiencies.
When Central was incorporated in 2005, attorney Bob Raborn filed suit challenging the legality of the incorporation. While that suit was working its way through the court system, an unusual thing happened. Under Louisiana law, one governmental unit in a parish is designated the “sole tax collecting agency” for all governmental bodies in the parish. The City-Parish government is the designee in this parish.
When Central voted to incorporate, Kip Holden was Mayor-President and he controlled the collection of sales taxes in Central. He said that since the incorporation was being challenged in court, there was a chance that the incorporation would be declared illegal. If that happened, the City-Parish could conceivably be sued to get the taxes back. So he refused to remit the taxes collected to the City of Central. Finally, a compromise was reached. Holden agreed that the City-Parish would continue to provide all the governmental services it had previously provided in return for 90 percent of the taxes collected. The City-Parish would remit 10 percent to the City of Central for administrative purposes. Central Mayor Mac Watts and the Central City Council reluctantly agreed.
For two years, the City-Parish provided the services it promised. In effect, the providing of government services had been contracted out to the City-Parish! This got Mayor Watts and the Council thinking. Why couldn’t a private company do the same things the City-Parish was doing but do them better and for less money?
The mayor and Council read about cities that had been privatized, and Mayor Watts even visited Sandy Springs, GA, the largest privatized city in the country. He returned with glowing reports and said it could work here!
Under privatization, a city contracts out some or even most city services for an annual fee. The privatization contract can have many
options and unique provisions.
Once the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld the legality of Central’s incorporation, the Central City Council issued a request for proposals, inviting companies to
apply to be Central’s contractor.
Ultimately, the contract was awarded to CH2MHill, a multi-billion dollar company based in Colorado.
When the contract with CH2MHill expired in 2010, it went out for bid again. This time IBTS won the contract. That was renewed in 2013 and again in 2016.
In Central, the private contractor handles public works, including roads and drainage; planning; building permits; code enforcement, and staffing of City Council and Planning and Zoning commissions. It does not administer City Hall or the Police Department.
Is privatization good or bad?
The Central City News has always supported privatization in Central but has recognized that it does have its flaws. On the one hand, it can allow the city government to operate more like a business, rather than a bureaucracy. But there are dangers to guard against.
For example, all governmental bodies are subject to the public bid law, which means that governmental contracts are issued through an open, public bidding process. Then the contract is awarded to the lowest responsible bidder. However, when a company has the master contract for a privatized city, it can contract out work to other vendors without going through the process of public bidding. This leaves room for favoritism and the awarding contracts to the friends of the politicians who awarded the original contract.
Similarly, local government employees are subject to Civil Service laws and protection. Most government jobs must be filled from among the top applicants. In addition, Civil Service employees cannot be fired without good cause. However, employees of a private contractor can be hired and fired at will. This enables the contractor to easily fire bad employees, but it also allows local politicians to lobby for the contractor to hire their friends and relatives.
One of the keys to making privatization work is making sure the master contractor is subject to the public records law so that the public is aware of contracts entered into by the master contractor and the hiring and firing of employees.
How does privatization work in Central, compared to ordinary cities its size.
A good comparison is the City of Hammond, LA (pop. 20,000) It has 325 city employees and a city budget of over $32 million a year. It continuously fights deficits. Most of those 325 city employees will someday retire at taxpayer expense. On the other hand, the City of Central (pop. 28,000) has three or four city employees and a city budget of $7.4 million. It runs regular surpluses and has roughly $40 million in the bank. Only a couple of Central city employees could potentially retire at taxpayer expense. All city services are provided by IBTS employees.
While it would be very difficult if not impossible to change a traditional city to a privatized city (for political reasons), a new city government should consider privatization as the 21st century model, instead of the traditional 18th century model for cities.
Who is responsible for roads and bridges in Central?
Basically, there are three types of roads in Central — state roads, parish roads, and city streets. The Louisiana Department of Transportation is responsible for state roads, such as Greenwell Springs Road, Hooper Road, Wax Road, Hwy. 64, Joor south of Hooper, and Sullivan from Hooper to Wax. The parish Department of Public Works is responsible for the Central Thruway, Joor north of Hooper, Sullivan from Greenwell Springs Road to Wax and north of Hooper, Comite west of Blackwater, and Dyer west of Blackwater. The City of Central is responsible for all other roads in Central — roughly 130 miles of roads.
How do we pay for the City of Central?
Unlike the City of Baton Rouge and most other cities, the City of Central does not levy a property tax. It is funded by a 2-1/2 cent sales tax — the same as was levied before incorporation — plus franchise fees on utilities such as Entergy and Cox and state and federal grants. The city has not raised taxes since it was created in 2005. More than half the revenue of the City
of Central comes from Wal-Mart.
What project was identified by the BRAC, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, as the most needed in East Baton Rouge Parish?
According to the BRAC study, the most needed project in the parish is a bridge across the Amite River extending Hooper Road to Watson. Projections show it would accommodate 25,000 cars a day and remove that traffic from I-12, Florida Boulevard, and Magnolia Bridge. The Hooper Road bridge has been a priority for Central since 1954 when a group of concerned business owners met with Gov. Robert Kennon to ask that the project be built.
When was the Central Community School System created?
The Central school system was created as a result of a constitutional amendment authored by then-Rep. Bodi White (R-Central). It was approved by two-thirds’ vote of the both house of the Louisiana Legislature and then ratified by the voters of the State of Louisiana, the Parish of East Baton Rouge, and the City of Central in November 2006. The governor appointed the seven members of the school board in January 2007. They hired as their first employee, Supt. Mike Faulk, who began to hire personnel and create a new school system where none had existed before.
The Central school board officially took control of the four schools which existed at that time — Bellingrath Hills Elementary, Tanglewood Elementary, Central Middle School, and Central High School — on July 1, 2007. Because of growing enrollment and the extremely poor condition of some of the schools, the school board proposed a capital improvements tax and bond election to build new schools. As a result of that election, many improvements were made to the existing schools and a new school, Central Intermediate, was created. The school board used some of the funds to build a state-of-the-art facility called the Central School Complex. It was completed and occupied in 2013 and now includes Central Intermediate School and Central Middle School.
How is the Central school system doing?
In a word, great! After leaving the East Baton Rouge Parish school system, which was ranked No. 58 in the state, Central has progressed and is now ranked No. 2 in the state in most categories behind No. 1 ranked Zachary. Overall, Central residents express a high level of satisfaction with the Central school system.
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What are the politics of Central?
Central is politically very conservative. The vast majority of voters are Christian, conservative and Republican. There are 35 churches serving a city of 28,000 people living in 66 square miles. They often — but not always — agree on the candidate. In national elections, the Republican may well beat the Democrat 90-10 or close to it. However, at the city level, there are often serious differences of opinion. One difference that sometimes arises is between those “born and bred” in Central and “newcomers.” Differences also sometimes arise based on whether they favor “no growth” or “slow growth.”
What was Central High’s best-ever football team? The Wildcats only state football championship was in 1967.
Who was Central’s only All-Pro NFL star?
Central High graduate and sports legend Todd McClure played 14 seasons as the starting center for the Atlanta Falcons and was chosen an All-Pro and played in the Pro Bowl.
Central High had a baseball dynasty in the 1990’s. How many State Championships did they win?
Four straight years, 1992, 1993, 1994, and 1995. All four teams, which were coached by Randy Blanchard, have been inducted into the Central High Hall of Fame. Coach Hutchinson coached Mike Forbes, the coach of Central High School teams that won State Championships in 2017 and 2018.
A Central High player was named the MVP in this year’s State Championship baseball series in Sulphur. Who was it and what did he do to win the honor?
Dalton Aspholm, who won the semi-final game against Barbe in relief and had the game-winning hit in the State Championship game against Sulphur.
Why was the worst natural disaster in the history of Central?
Undoubtedly, it is the Great Flood of August 2016 when more than 80 percent of the homes in Central flooded. The estimated loss to the people of Central was $100,000 per home for 9,000 homes, with the total loss exceeding $9 billion. Nevertheless, over the past two years, the people of Central have made an amazing recovery.
NOTE: Woody Jenkins is editor of the Central City News. He served in the Louisiana House of Representatives for 28 years. His email is woodyjenkins@hotmail.com.
A Historical Sketch of Greenwell Springs is at Central Library.

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