Water Group Leaves Fulton - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Water Group Leaves Fulton

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ALEXANDRIA, La. -- The Louisiana Rural Water Association is back in Alexandria for the 15th year. But this year, they've made a change.

The convention is being held at the Best Western instead of the Fulton hotel and Riverfront Center. Organizers say they had enough of the Fulton's maintenance problems.

News Channel Five's Brooke Buford talked to the group to hear more about why they made the move.

The week long convention brings in more than a thousand people and close to a million dollars. But, that money left downtown Alexandria this year because organizers say problems at their old hotel rained on their parade.  

Every year for the last 15 years, members of the Louisiana Rural Water Association have poured into Alexandria.

"It just makes it the perfect spot for people to come from all over the state," said P.M. Woods, who's on the board of directors.

The convention is an opportunity for the group to network, and draws an estimated 1,500 people into the area and has a hefty economic impact.

"Million dollar impact this week, at least," said Woods. "We've got people coming into town and the money they spend."

It's money that used to be spent at the city-owned Alexander Fulton hotel and Riverfront Center. But this year, it's being moved to the Best Western on MacArthur Drive.

The group says the Fulton hotel just kept having issues. They say elevators didn't work and A/C units were broken. They say although the city fixed the problems many times throughout the years, they say the hotel continued to have the same problems crop up. And when the Rural Water Association asked why, they say they didn't get their answer.

"We tried and we tried," said Woods. "Just no one would seem to answer that question. Nobody wanted to face it."

So, they moved venues. And, their new host says they're happy to accommodate.

"Booked? We're so jam packed it's not even funny," said Martha Turner, general manager of the Best Western. "We're even over at the Econolodge next door using their classrooms, also using classrooms at Cajun Landing. As you can see, we're busting at the seams. But, we're excited. We're so glad they're here and we want them to come back again."

And that's exactly what they plan to do. The Rural Water Association says although they changed hotels, they don't want to change cities.

"We just moved to a different location," said Woods. "We still like the location of Alexandria. It's the perfect location." 

We contacted Mayor Jacques Roy to get a comment on the issue. He did not respond to our request. The city's chief of operations chose not to give a statement.

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