"I've always had a good working relationship with our parish president (J. Mitchell Ourso), and he provided the heavy equipment for the project," he said. "The city doesn't have big equipment – just a backhoe."

Efforts by Plaquemine Mayor Edwin Reeves to provide a more aesthetically pleasing entrance into Plaquemine brought an early Christmas gift to the city.

A demolition job Dec. 18 brought down the building that once housed Kyle's Grocery, among other businesses over a span of more than seven decades.

Reeves got a little help from a friend to complete the project.

"I've always had a good working relationship with our parish president (J. Mitchell Ourso), and he provided the heavy equipment for the project," he said. "The city doesn't have big equipment – just a backhoe."

The parish provided a backhoe and operator to take apart the building.

"We're thankful to the parish for that," Reeves said.

The area around the now-razed building – which served as Dickies's Grocery and Sportsman Shop, and a Rambler dealership decades earlier – will eventually serve as a landscaped parking lot and covered area along the railroad tracks.

The city may eventually relocate the weekend farmer's market to the site, Reeves said.

The $100,000 purchase of the property from owner Kyle White put the wheels in motion for the demolition.

The demolition is only one piece of the puzzle in the beautification project that Reeves targeted when he became mayor.

The project also includes Phase 3 of the Mark A. "Tony" Gulotta Waterfront Park. Work crews have already installed half of the sprinkler system, and will soon move forward on a fully equipped kitchen.

The kitchen will be used with the Henry Nadler Community Center – named after the founder of the Nadler Foundries, which opened in the 1880s and closed in 2001.

The 2020 budget includes $1 million for the project, Reeves said.

The city has already received three requests for weddings at the facility, he said.

In addition, a $1 million grant tied in with the state Department of Transportation and Development will pave the way for a trail from North Plaquemine to the Fort area.

A playground will be open in January. The city will also have money in place by spring for a basketball park at the site, Reeves said.

"The reason we're doing that is because they have to cross two major highways to get to City Park, and that's too dangerous," he said.

"It's a great time for our city," Reeves said. "We have some great things going on."