Thank you, Mr. President

Jan. 14 marks the end of Terrebonne Parish President Don Schwab’s four-year term.

He’ll relinquish his seat to Houma businessman Michel Claudet during an inauguration ceremony at the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center.

In 2004, Schwab took the helm of an ailing parish. One of his first acts was slashing the payroll to take the strain off the cash-strapped government. Seventeen percent of the jobs were cut. It was, to this day, what Schwab calls his toughest stretch on the job.

While 2005 will be remembered for many in south Louisiana as a life-changing year, it did bring much-needed economic growth to Terrebonne Parish.

GO Zone monies, federal aid and – finally – offshore oil and gas revenues, teamed with hefty hikes in sales tax dollars have the parish in black. And Terrebonne, with the help of the parish’s Economic Development Authority, is learning to diversify.

Instead of relying solely on the oil and gas industry for its survival, the parish is quickly becoming a retail hub. As the New Orleans area continues to struggle to rebuild, Terrebonne Parish is among the area’s to prosper from businesses looking for thriving markets to call home.

During Schwab’s tenure, the parish also finally saw Congress OK the Water Resources Development Act, a multi-million dollar package that includes the much-need lock system for the Houma-Navigation Canal.

Schwab’s term may have had a bumpy beginning, but the former coach excelled in unifying the troops and staying true to the game plan. For a job well done, we say thank you, Mr. President.