Avoyelleans impressed with Canadian ‘twin’

Bellechasse officials may visit here in 2018

Tourism officials from two similar but also differing communities took turns impressing each other during a day-long “twinning” event in Bellechasse, Quebec, July 17.

Avoyelles Parish Tourism Director Wilbert Carmouche and parish CODOFIL President Sheldon Roy represented the parish in the first ever county-level “twinning” agreement.

Police Jury President Charles Jones signed the agreement here so it could be carried to Bellechasse County to be signed there.

Carmouche said the agreement will allow the two rural communities to build a relationship that is likely to result in tourists from one area visiting the other.

In the future, he would like to see a form of “trade relations” between Avoyelles and Bellechasse that would allow items made here to be shipped and sold there, and vice versa.

“The day went very well,” Carmouche said.

The day began at 9 a.m. with presentations pointing out the best aspects of each community.

Carmouche said Bellechasse County has 20 mayors, compared to Avoyelles’ nine and officials of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe. Roy noted that none of the county’s towns is as large as Marksville.

The group traveled by bus and met with several of the towns’ officials.

Roy said one of the sights he was most impressed with on the bus tour was the county’s use of an abandoned rail line.

Instead of either tearing up the rails or letting them sit idle and be covered by vegetation, Bellechasse has converted the railroad into a bike path. Carmouche also commented on the inventive use, noting that the route is paved and connects several of the towns. He said bicycling is more popular in Bellechasse than it is in Avoyelles.

Another “re-purposing” project in Bellechasse involves several of the county’s churches.

“The congregations have gotten too small to support using the churches only as churches,” Carmouche said. “They are used as churches on Sunday, but are put to other uses during the week.”

The group had lunch at a marina on the St. Lawrence River, which was a scenic site. The day ended with the signing ceremony at 4 p.m., followed by a reception.

Carmouche said everything was over by about 5 p.m. Bellechasse officials have tentatively planned to visit Avoyelles next spring, but a firm date has not been set.


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