The organizing board of the Great Texas Balloon Race is working with LeTourneau University researchers to calculate the economic impact of the event on East Texas. Race founder Bill Bussey, a Longview dentist, said nearly 500 volunteers helped to put on this year's race. The Great Texas Balloon Race will host the U.S. National Hot Air Balloon Championship in Longview for the next two years. Bussey says the board is considering bidding for the 2016 World Hot Air Balloon Championship.
The Willis-Knighton Health System has completed a $3.9 million assisted living expansion. The hospital system's Savannah at The Oaks community will nearly double in size to 52 apartments. Executive manager Janice Latvala says it fills a gap between independent living and a nursing home. She says the new units are nearly all leased, and she began taking contracts on them five months ago.
A California-based healthy vending machine company is spreading across Louisiana, with franchisees in Shreveport, Lafayette and now Alexandria. The owners of Cenla Healthy Vending, Graves and Anna Theus, launched their business earlier this summer by pitching the concept to local school principals. Two Rapides Parish high schools have signed on and will have vending machines with healthier snacks this school year.
A San Francisco consulting firm can take credit for making a flight school a reality in Natchitoches, La. Jane Zhang, president of Silk Wings Aviation, is helping forge a partnership between a Beijing aeronautics university, the city of Natchitoches, and Northwestern State University. Zhang estimates the flight school could enroll thousands of Chinese citizens a year once the program takes off.
A new flight school opens Aug. 2 at Natchitoches Regional Airport. The Flight Academy of New Orleans will move into the hangar formerly occupied by Northwestern State University's aviation program that closed about a year ago. Stanley Salter, chairman of the Airport Commission, say the arrangement includes a partnership with Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He says China is experiencing an aviation boom and its citizens often seek flight training in the United States. The open house event is from 4 - 6 p.m. at Natchitoches Regional Airport.