Bossier is many things to many people — home of Barksdale, a burgeoning technological and industrial capitol, a place for recreation, or a great location to raise a family, to name just a few.
And it's with that spirit of diversity we celebrate the myriad aspects everyone loves about Bossier by letting our readers choose their favorites with our Reader's Choice.
Below are just some of the interesting stories of businesses, people, schools, and locations that were chosen by you, our readers, as what help make Bossier great.
Favorite Place to Take Out of Town Guests
Ashley Davis, marketing manager for the Louisiana Boardwalk, was excited about taking home the title of Favorite Place to Take Out of Town Visitors.
“We know we have a big tourist following, and I think that's only going to grow in the future, especially with the addition of our new casino (Margaritaville) next door,” she said.
The outdoor mix of retail, dining, and entertainment set beside the Red River opened in May 2005. Since that time, it has become the number one tourist destination in north Louisiana, and one of the top spots in the state.
Her credit for the continued success and popularity of the Boardwalk is simple — they're good at what they do.
“We have a great product,” said Davis. “We've got entertainment, children's stores, adult shopping, restaurants, it's just a good mix.”
They are looking forward to the rest of 2013 with Maurice's clothing store opening this spring and more slated for the second and third quarters.
“Thank you to everyone who voted for us,” said Davis. “Thanks for trusting us as the destination to bring your guests.”
Favorite Healthcare Provider
Marily Joiner, director of marketing and public relations for Willis-Knighton Health System, said, “We at WK Bossier Health Center are grateful for the continued support we have received from residents in Bossier City, Bossier Parish and the surrounding area over the years. While we are the only full service hospitals in Bossier Parish, we do recognize that people have a choice in healthcare and that they can not only leave Bossier but the region as well for healthcare. Fortunately, more and more people are choosing to stay in Bossier to access the many health services offered here. In fact, we are attracting people from other parishes and even from counties in Arkansas who want to take advantage of the quality care we provide.”
She went on to say, “A large measure of our success comes from being part of the Willis-Knighton Health System that allows us to draw on the resources and expertise of a nationally-recognized healthcare provider. That, coupled with our skilled and dedicated physicians as well as caring employees, gives us big city sophistication with a small town personality.”
“We were excited this year to secure a robot for minimally invasive surgery at WK Bossier. Quite a few of our surgeons have undergone training and we are pleased that this technology is now offered right here for Bossier patients. Another addition this year will be a wound care center to make this service more convenient for patients in the Bossier area.
Over the past year Willis-Knignton has reinforced its commitment to the residents of Bossier Parish through the purchase of the former Bossier Medical Center complex which had become a real eyesore in our community. The health system has been renovating and repurposing the building to become a training center for the health system and will be relocating its educational services to here to the WK Innovation Center. Willis-Knighton’s Talbot Medical Museum will also relocate to this new location with new exhibits and artifacts on display,” she said.
The first IHOP market that was opened in the state of Louisiana was the Bossier City market in 1998. Since that time, IHOP has been selected for the Best Breakfast award making this their 14th year in a row to win.
“Fourteen great years in Bossier, 14 great wins, and being selected by the locals is the absolute crowning jewel!” said Wayne Court, Bossier IHOP franchisee.
He credits patrons and employees for the continued success.
“Our guests have always supported us and made us a part of the community from day one!” said Court.
“I cannot begin to express my appreciation to all our team members that have cooked the hundreds of thousands of breakfast, maybe millions of breakfast, over the past 14 years; our servers whom have poured the massive quantities of orange juice and brewed the hundreds of thousands of cups of fresh hot coffee to get our guests up and smiling day after day; the service staff that washes mountains of dishes daily and keeps our restrooms just a little cleaner; cashiers waiting to seat, great, and get everything started with a bright happy face and those wonderful cashiers who make sure everyone was satisfied and invites them back again,” he added.
Court was proud of the win and said even if his restaurants are not the only ones to win something of this magnitude, the others are few and far in between.
“The restaurant industry is not an easy job...but with hard work comes rewards, be happy with what you do, hold your head high, you may not realize how important you are to the success of our restaurants but I have never seen a restaurant yet that could operate much less be successful without several great faces behind the name,” he said. “I honestly do care about all 1,000 of our employees and I know you care by earning this award again today.”
Favorite Elementary, Middle, and High Schools
Bossier is known for its exceptional schools and our readers chose Apollo as their favorite Elementary, Cope as their favorite middle, and Airline as their favorite high schools.
Apollo Principal Julie Dupree was honored the community selected them as their favorite elementary school, saying it signifies their confirmation as a School of Excellence.
“Our success comes from the teamwork of students, parents, faculty and community working together to achieve our goals,” said Dupree.
Apollo was built in 1969 as a model school for the parish and state. It had no interior walls to divide the classrooms and installed state of the art equipment. During that time, the community has continued to recognize Apollo as one of the best elementary schools in our parish and state.
“We plan to continue 'Striving for Excellence' and to make Apollo Elementary the 'Best in Bossier',” said Dupree. “Thank you! We appreciate your support!”
Judy Grooms, principal of Cope Middle School, credited their success to students, families, and faculty all working together.
“We have strong academic programs with Algebra I, honors ELA and math, foreign language with Spanish, and additional curricular programs in gifted and talented education, art, band, choir, drama, MathCounts, Robotics, Destination Imagination, and StarBase learning,” said Grooms. “We have very competitive sports programs in archery, basketball, cross-country running, football, softball, and track. We have school clubs that meet monthly that each student belongs to and each faculty member sponsors along with Jr. Beta, 4-H, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes that meet on our campus, too.”
The school has big plans for 2013 and will continue to focus on the whole child’s growth — academically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.
“We will continue to implement Common Core State Standards and the state’s transitional curriculum in all content areas. Every classroom focuses on technology implementation with Promethean ActiveBoards, projectors, document cameras, and classroom/lab computers to enable our students to stay on the cutting edge of technology usage. We have recently added an iPAD lab and more Neo2 stations,” said Grooms.
Principal of Airline Jason Rowland said the school was honored and very appreciative to have been chosen as the favorite high school.
“We strive to be a positive beacon for our community and hope that we are enhancing the public we serve,” he said. “Our success is due to the community effort that reflects our vision to be a successful product of our homes, our churches, and our feeder schools. The culminating summation of all these stakeholders allows us to reveal the excellence that has become our tradition.”
As one of the fastest growing schools in north Louisiana, the next school year is expecting to be home to 1,800 Airline Vikings.
“While this appears to be overwhelming, we are proactively preparing for a great 2013-2014,” said Rowland. “We are in the initial stages of planning for an enhanced curriculum and additional classroom space. We are currently in discussions with district leadership as to how to manage and provide a first class education to an ever evolving school community.”
Favorite Principal and Teacher
Rowland was also chosen as favorite principal.
“It is an honor to be selected by the public that we serve. We try not to take for granted the honor that is attached to being the principal at AHS. Our community is vital to our success and our vision is based around embracing this element of the school community,” said Rowland.
In his third year as principal and 12th as an administrator, Rowland has been a Bossier Parish employee since 1995 and thoroughly feel this is the best system in north Louisiana.
“We feel Airline is a reflection of the community and we strive everyday to provide the professional touch that our community demands,” said Rowland. “We cannot achieve success without the support of this community and stakeholders. We continue to strive to embrace our community in new and innovative measures. For our forward progress we will need to continue the partnership with the citizens of Bossier Parish to allow for this system to move to the next level.”
Kayla Miller was proud to have been chosen as favorite teacher.
“At Cope I have been honored to teach with the best and to teach the best,” she said. “There are several reasons for my success as a teacher. First, I teach at an awesome school with the best administration, staff, faculty, students, and parents around. I also have a wonderful family that supports me and all the hours I give to teaching. Finally, I come from an extended family of educators who taught me how important it is to touch the lives of others in a positive manner.”
In her 27th year of teaching, this year's winner taught at Benton Elementary before spending three years teaching at Bellaire Elementary. The rest of her career has been spent at Cope Middle School.
“During 2013, I will continue to work hard to provide a variety of learning experiences for my students that will enrich their lives. These experiences range from those inside the classroom to those outside of the classroom-such as visiting local cemeteries, New Orleans, Washington DC, and New York City-that allow me the opportunity to share my love of reading and learning in very unique ways.”
Jason Smith, executive Vice President of Citizens National Bank, expressed his delight at being chose as the favorite bank of Bossier.
I like to think we have been Bossier’s Bank since we opened in 1985. We have the privilege of being Bossier largest Bank and try everyday to earn the community’s trust and maintain our customer’s confidence,” he said. “The Stockholders, Directors and Employees of Citizens National Bank are honored and humbled by our community’s support for the Bank. It is our commitment to the community to continue to provide the service they deserve and be 'Your Kind of Bank.'”
He says their success is due to working in the “best community in the South.”
“We have a strong local economy, inspired local government leadership and a staff that is commitment to providing our customers and community with the highest quality financial services available,” said Smith.
Opening in 1985 with a single location on Benton Road, Citizens National Bank was founded by a group of local business leaders who wanted to their city to grow. Since then, they have expanded into four other parishes (Caddo, Claiborne, DeSoto and Webster) and expanded the product we offer to include Brokerage and Mortgage Services.
“Our Bank is poised to partner with our customers and community leadership to position our area for the knowledge based renaissance that is taking place,” said Smith.
Favorite Gift Shop and Favorite Entertainment Venue
Liz Ferguson, owner of Chinaberry's Florist & Boutique, said she was very blessed to be voted as the reader's favorite gift shop.
Opened in 2004, Ferguson said Chinaberry's started with a tractor.
“We were going to buy a tractor, but we ended up buying the whole nursery. One thing led to another and the rest is history,” she said. “Everyone loved the gifts so much that we ended the nursery business and focused on the gift and floral business – all because of a tractor.”
Bernadette Chandler, owner of Party Central, is excited to be chosen as the readers' favorite entertainment venue.
“There are a lot of places to choose from, but they picked us,” said Chandler. “We pretty much have everything fun that a kid wants to do. We do everything from birthday parties to corporate parties – there are kids of all ages that come through here. I also credit our friendly staff, who work hard and provide great customer service to our guests.
She said the venue has made a habit of not limiting itself to anything and is looking forward to seeing what can be done this year.
“We just want to thank everyone for voting and for supporting us through the last 13 years. We hope to continue serving and helping the community with their family fun needs,” said Chandler.