MOREHOUSE PARISH -- Just north of Bastrop, you can see the signs of change.
"I believe in five years, people won't recognize Bastrop," said Kay King with the Morehouse Parish Economic Development Corporation.
A change that might help the city recover from the stigma of the paper mill closing in 2008.
"It does continue to combat this stigma that there's nothing going on," said King. "We're making a recovery, we're right on track with where we want to be."
All summer long, crews have been working to clear the land 12 miles north of Bastrop off Highway 425. It's for the new Drax Biomass wood pellet facility, meant to bring dozens of new jobs to the Bastrop and Morehouse parish area.
King says many people are even showing up to the site, eager to apply for jobs.
"I would ask that people be respectful to the company, we get a lot of sightseers and we have a lot of people going up there to apply for a job," said King, who added that people interested in applying for a job with the company should send their resume or seek more information through the Louisiana Workforce Commission at www.laworks.net.
Drax Biomass will ship wood pellets formed Morehouse Parish to a facility in the United Kingdom that generates renewable power.
The project will create nearly 150 jobs across the state, with 47 direct jobs in Bastrop.
King says this is a big change for a community where the mill was part of the skyline for so long.
"We live in this society where people think things are supposed to happen over night, and sometimes it doesn't," she said.
But even that stigma is about to change, with the old mill site being cleared off and market ready by the end of the year.
"I see this as a real opportunity, because that site has everything that we need," said King.
Ironically, changes this summer also include a new face at Bastrop city hall. New mayor Arthur Jones said he feels these pieces moving forward fits right in with his plans for the city.
"I'm hoping it won't be known as a dying paper mill town," Mayor Jones said. "If we can keep our young people here, there's no telling how far Bastrop will grow."
An official groundbreaking ceremony for the new wood pellet facility is expected around the start of September.
"I think we're right where I would expect we would be four and a half years out of a major closure," said King. "I think we're right on target with our redevelopment plan."
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