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Miss Louisiana brings sunshine, COVID awareness to Franklin



LOUISIANA— Main Street saw rain Saturday morning, but all eyes were on Miss Louisiana 2020 Courtney Hammons, who was on a tour of the area advocating for COVID-19 awareness.

Hammons is a native of Choudrant, just outside of Ruston. Part of her duties include serving on the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Health.

She said her social impact initiative using the hashtag “feed the food bank” is a means for “advocating for one in six individuals in Louisiana and one in four children who do not know where their next meal is coming from.”

“I am also concerned about senior citizens because the state also boasts the unfortunate title of having the second highest rate in the nation of food insecurity among senior citizens.”

Hammons explained that COVID-19 has caused layoffs, and placed strains on budgets, particularly among COVID-19 caregivers.

“Volunteer, donate on line, make a social media post — whatever you can do, do your part to end hunger in our state. Many people who lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19, do not qualify for food stamps, so they need help,” she said.

“Furthermore, many have to choose between paying their light bills, medical bills and eating.”

Hammons bumped into Dr. Patricia Jones-Muse, who is the director of the Wanda Hilliard Food Pantry, which distributes food monthly in St. Mary Parish.

“Hunger is real,” Jones-Muse said. “We serve over 600 clients per month with the giveaway in addition to delivering food to 200 more clients.

“Because of COVID-19 the elderly can’t get out, they can’t socialize so the need is great.”

Hammons was also in town to appear at the Franklin Downtown Merchants’ April Bayou to Main Street Shopping event.

Around 11 a.m., the sun finally broke out on Main Street, so many of the vendors were able to begin selling, like Lisa Josey from Duson, who said she wouldn’t miss it, and regularly attends.

The day also gave the city an opportunity to use its pocket park by holding two mini-music sets inside the space that once was the city’s history Center Theatre.

Although the pocket park is still under construction, Franklin planning, zoning and special projects director Glen Todd, said the space was ripe to create foot traffic for the Main Street area, as a part of the continuing while continuing the revitalization of Franklin.

The park will feature an open air art space and stage and a fountain to honor Franklin natives who have succumbed to senseless gun violence.

The entrance features wrought iron gates donated by Hangriff Machine Shop and parish president David Hanagriff.

Bricks are still being sold to personalize a living time capsule inside the park. Those interested may buy a brick on line at

Ed Verdin, public relations director for the city, said the park will further enhance the quality of life and increase economic development in Franklin.

“Together, we are seeing the power and energy of a community that has come together to create a 100 percent community funded project.”