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Army moving forward with land purchase program, Fleming speaks on issue

Read our latest story on this issue HERE.

BY RYAN KEETON

VERNON PARISH -- A potential storm of controversy is brewing over a proposed expansion to the Peason Ridge training area of Fort Polk.
According to Shane Demmer, chief of the Real Estate Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth Region, the Army is seeking to expand Fort Polk and part of that expansion is the acquisition of up to 100,000 acres of land near and around Fort Polk.
However, people live on some of that property.
Demmer said the Corps of Engineers is currently on the first step of a six-step process to acquire the land in question. The process included an April 8 meeting with land owners in the area to discuss the process and inform them of what's to come.
However, Brannon Edwards, a home owner in the area that the Army is looking to acquire, told a different story of the meeting.
“They basically told us that they were going to be coming to our homes and trying to give us estimates for fair market value for our homes and they are going to offer us that,” Edwards said.
He also said that the Corps of Engineers had expressed to him that they would be willing to use eminent domain if homeowners are unwilling to negotiate.
Congressman John Fleming, R-La., gave words of warning at a town hall meeting Tuesday in New Llano regarding the land acquisition, saying that resisting could have an economic impact on the area.
“There are real jobs, real lives and real families that are going to hurt severely if we're not careful with this,” Fleming said during the meeting.
Fleming said similar resistance to land expansion in Colorado had motivated the Army to reassign money that was going to Fort Carson to Fort Polk. He said the area could be economically impacted by resistance to the expansion.
The West Central News Center will be following up on this story in the days and weeks to come. We would like to speak to landowners who stand to be impacted. Email thoughts to reporter@kvvp.com.

The following documents were provided to the West Central News Center by the Corps of Engineers. Click on the links to view. The following has been distributed to residents who stand to be impacted.

Acquisition brochure

Relocation brochure


The following map was also provided by the Corps of Engineers:

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