Troops plan August surge of service to Ferriday

By BEN HILLYER | The Natchez Democrat, Miss. | Published: January 30, 2013

FERRIDAY — Come August, the U.S. Army will be occupying Ferriday.

The town is the recipient of a grant from the Innovate Readiness program, in which a branch of the U.S. military enters a community and provides some kind of service that will benefit the community and help keep the military personnel’s training up-to-date.

In Ferriday’s case, a U.S. Army Reserve unit from Georgia will be coming to the area Aug. 6 through 19 to provide free general medical, dentistry and small veterinary services. The town worked with the Concordia Parish Economic and Industrial Development District to receive the grant.

“This grant is not actual dollars, it’s service,” CPEIDD Director Heather Malone said. “What this program does is provide medical, transportation or engineering services, and when we did it, it was too hard to come up with a project that could coincide with when they could come. We went with medical care, because we knew that was something that was definitely needed.”

While the unit is in the area, anyone can go to the facility for the services they will provide, Malone said.

Tuesday, representatives with the program met in Ferriday to scout locations for the program sites. Ferriday Mayor Gene Allen said the town will be looking to provide the locations and that one had possibly been located so all of the Army unit’s services will be performed in a central area. The mayor declined to say where the central location was because it has not been finalized.

“This is going to be a great service for our people that is well needed and it won’t interfere with our health providers in our area,” Allen said. “This is something that we need and we are going to do it.”

Ben Hillyer | The Natchez Democrat — Soldiers soldiers took pictures and notes of the various available space in the building.

Malone said the group also met with local medical service providers — including Riverland Medical Center and the Department of Health and Hospitals — to create a partnership and refer patients for follow-ups.

“They met to talk about the population (the hospital and DHH) serve here, to introduce the project to them and make sure they know (the Army is) not here to conflict or compete in any way,” Malone said.

The grant was awarded based on information about the area’s demographics and needs, she said.

“We sold Ferriday because it is central to our parish but it is also central to Catahoula Parish and Adams County,” Malone said. “There are four parishes or counties with easy access to it.”

Allen said Ferriday will serve as a pilot location for the program.

“This is the first time they have done this program, and once they have implemented it here and if it works, they will take it to other areas,” he said.

Malone said that if the grant is well received in the area, an application for participation will be made every year.


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