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An Article from the Shreveport Times

Don Mason didn't initially plan to move to Bossier Parish to retire.

The former Maryland resident looked at retirement communities across the East Coast before deciding to move to Bossier Parish's Willow Lake adult community on Airline Drive with his wife.

The state tax incentives for retirees, the safe environment and the close-knit feel of the community were some of the factors that contributed to the decision, said Mason, who is originally from Springhill, a community 45 minutes north of Bossier City.

"We liked what we saw here," he said.

Over the past decade, the number of retirement-age residents in Bossier Parish has increased by 36 percent, according to the most recently released Census data.

Figures show residents 65 and older make up 12 percent of the parish's population, compared to 10 percent in 2000.

The majority of those retirement-age residents are between 65 and 69.

Bossier offers big-city amenities in a small-town atmosphere, said Renee Hall, the developer of Willow Lake.

The proximity to golf courses, lakes and shopping and dining options are some of the reasons people want to retire in Bossier, she said.
Bossier City is one of 11 certified retirement communities in Louisiana, according to the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, which initiated the
Livable Louisiana Retirement Ready program to build the state's standing as a retirement community,

The city became certified in 2009, Bossier City Special Projects Coordinator Pam Glorioso said.

She said the program transitioned into the Encore program, which identifies cities with the top 50 attractions in the state for residents 50 and older. The Louisiana Boardwalk is among the attractions.

The low cost of living and the safe environment are some of the reasons people choose Bossier City for retirement, Glorioso said.

Hall said future residents may also select the area for retirement simply to spend their golden years near family.

Leon Wells and his wife, Pearl, moved to Willow Lake five years ago from Baton Rouge to be closer to their daughter.

He said being nearby allows him to see her more often and he likes what the area has to offer.

"We have everything we need right here," he said during a Friday night potluck dinner at the Willow Lake clubhouse.

The event is one of several monthly activities residents can participate in at the adult community.

Barksdale Air Force Base is another draw for retirees who served in the military, said Kathi White, executive director of the Shreveport-Bossier City Military Affairs Council.

White, who retired to Bossier City after a long career in the Air Force, including several years at BAFB, said the ability for military retirees to use base facilities is a benefit that may draw them to the area.

Military retirees can get their medications on base and gain easy access to veterans' information, which a lot of them like, she said.

There are 3,679 military retirees and 473 widows of military retirees in Bossier Parish, according to the Barksdale Retiree Office.

The office covers a 70-mile radius of the base and has about 15,000 retirees and widows.

Tax breaks on income and property taxes are another attraction to moving to Bossier City, new residents say.

"The homestead exemption helped a lot because we were paying very high property taxes in Maryland, and we've seen an immediate savings with state income and property taxes," Mason said.

Glorioso anticipates Bossier City will only continue to grow as a retirement community, particularly as more residents reach the age to begin planning retirement.

"I think as (residents) reach that age and begin to look into their own retirement, they'll realize they don't need to move away; all the things they would want in Florida or somewhere else are right here in their own backyard," she said.

He said being nearby allows him to see her more often and he likes what the area has to offer.

"We have everything we need right here," he said during a Friday night potluck dinner at the Willow Lake clubhouse.

The event is one of several monthly activities residents can participate in at the adult community.

Barksdale Air Force Base is another draw for retirees who served in the military, said Kathi White, executive director of the Shreveport-Bossier City Military Affairs Council.

White, who retired to Bossier City after a long career in the Air Force, including several years at BAFB, said the ability for military retirees to use base facilities is a benefit that may draw them to the area.

Military retirees can get their medications on base and gain easy access to veterans' information, which a lot of them like, she said.

There are 3,679 military retirees and 473 widows of military retirees in Bossier Parish, according to the Barksdale Retiree Office.

The office covers a 70-mile radius of the base and has about 15,000 retirees and widows.

Tax breaks on income and property taxes are another attraction to moving to Bossier City, new residents say.

"The homestead exemption helped a lot because we were paying very high property taxes in Maryland, and we've seen an immediate savings with state income and property taxes," Mason said.

Glorioso anticipates Bossier City will only continue to grow as a retirement community, particularly as more residents reach the age to begin planning retirement.

"I think as (residents) reach that age and begin to look into their own retirement, they'll realize they don't need to move away; all the things they would want in Florida or somewhere else are right here in their own backyard," she said.

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