The Washington Parish Tourism Commission was created by Washington Parish Police Jury (now Parish Council) Ordinance #46 on May 26, 1992. All tourism commissions were officially established by Acts of the Louisiana legislature. The mission of the Washington Parish Tourism Commission is to promote Washington Parish attractions and events in order to encourage visitors to our area; to increase knowledge of the resources available throughout our community, region, and state; to create an awareness of the impact of tourism on the local, regional, and state economy. The second largest industry in Louisiana is the travel and tourism industry.

The Washington Parish Tourism Commission business office is located at 1950 Washington Street in Franklinton. The office is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 am until 4 pm. Washington Parish holidays are observed. The phone numbers are local: 985-839-5228; toll-free: 1-888-827-7118; fax: 985-839-7950. E-mail address is wptour@bellsouth.net. Our web site is www.washingtonparishtourism.com. On the Home page you will find links to Tourism Facebook and Twitter Pages and blog site.

The tourism office maintains brochures, flyers, maps, and other informational items from the local area, as well as surrounding parishes and state-wide information such as literature from the Louisiana Office of State Parks, the Louisiana Office of Tourism, etc. Examples of these are Louisiana State highway maps, Washington Parish maps, the official Louisiana Tour Guide, and our own locally-produced Washington Parish magazine. Tourism information is also available at the Bogalusa Chamber of Commerce 608 Willis Avenue, and on weekends at the Varnado Store Museum 936 Pearl Street in Franklinton. Through these cooperative agreements, tourism information is available seven days a week in the parish. However, it is the long-range plan of the Tourism Commission to have our own full-service, full-time visitor’s center in the future.

The WP Tourism Commission meets on the third Thursday of each month at 5:00 pm. The public is welcome to attend. In Franklinton the meetings are held at the office on Washington Street. Variation in place and/or time of the tourism commission meetings will be noted. The Tourism Commission makes an effort to convene at other locations around the parish in order to allow attendance by those members of the public who may not be able to travel to Franklinton, and to allow the Tourism Commission to become knowledgeable regarding our local attractions, events, and hospitality-related businesses. As a public body, the State-defined open meeting law must be observed.

Tourism Commissioners are appointed by the Washington Parish Council for three-year terms. Below is a list of the current Tourism Commission, their offices, term expiration dates, and brief biographical remarks.

Marilyn Bateman, President Term Expires December 31, 2019

Mrs. Bateman is Executive Director of the Bogalusa Chamber of Commerce, is a past president of the Bogalusa Rotary organization, and also serves on the Zachary Taylor Parkway Commission. She has overseen the Chamber’s Festival in the Park for many years and has represented the event at the LAFF (Louisiana Association of Fairs and Festivals) annual meeting.

Henry Harrison, Vice President Term expires December 31, 2018

Mr. Harrison is semi-retired from the LSU/Southern AgCenter as the county agent and Parish Administrator for the Washington Parish AgCenter office. He also served as president of the Franklinton Area Economic Development Foundation, and is active in the WP Fair, frequently assisting the Ag Building and its exhibit. He also participates in the Washington Parish Watermelon Festival and local Farmers Market organizations and grower cooperatives.

Cynthia August, Treasurer Term expires December 31, 2018

Mrs. August is employed by the Bogalusa City School system. She also serves as Commissioner and Secretary for the Washington Parish Communications Emergency 911 district. She also serves on the Stage committee of the WP Fair Association, the Franklinton MLK Celebration committee, and is active in many other women’s-, church- and youth-related groups in the community.

Ella Rose Bickham, Commissioner Term expires December 31, 2019

Mrs. Bickham retired from the Washington Parish School system following 37 years of service as a classroom teacher, faculty assistant, and literacy coach. She is a member and officer of the Washington Parish Retired Teachers Association, the Franklinton Zoning Commission, the Help Center of Churches, and Franklinton Kiwanis organization.

Mark Irvine, Commissioner Term expires December 31, 2019

Mr. Irvine is the owner of Irvine Media & Business Consulting in Bogalusa, which operates the Washington Parish Weather Now website and telephone Time & Temperature answering service. He is also a Technical Engineer Contractor for Genco Distributing, has extensive retail and management experience, and continues to provide consulting services to retail businesses. He is also a member of the Bogalusa Planning and Zoning Commission.

David Miller, Commissioner Term expires December 31, 2017

Mr. Miller is the owner of Mt. Hermon WebTV. Mt. Hermon WebTV presents many locally produced programs including political forums and interviews, as well as broadcasts of most municipal and parish meetings. He and his wife Jo Ann also support the Museums of Cassidy Park, and video many events around the parish, producing programs for others to enjoy.

Phyllis Sampere, Commissioner Term expires December 31, 2018

Mrs. Sampere is the owner of The Cottage Guesthouse Bed and Breakfast in Bogalusa. Prior to retirement, she worked in public relations and advertising. She is an avid traveler herself, and enjoys her bridge club, MCCA activities and the Lagniappe Krewe.

Former members of the Commission include Renee Givens, Levi Lewis, Sr., John Gallaspy, Lou Ann Thomas, Cidette Rayburn, Walter W. Smith, Richard Jenkins, Anthony Marange, and the late Tammy Richardson, Aline K. Smith, Rev. James Cyrus, Hoyt L.“Chick” Boyd,  and J. C. Simmons.