June 13, 2018
Chennault International Airport recently dedicated its boardroom to the former Lake Charles Mayor Ed Watson, a man whose advocacy was instrumental to the creation of modern-day Chennault.
During his four years in office from 1985-1989, Watson successfully campaigned for the former Air Force base to reopen as an industrial airpark, making his case before both Congress and the state Legislature.
“Had it not been for Ed, I doubt if we’d be sitting here today,” said former Mayor Randy Roach at the dedication ceremony.
Watson is also credited with convincing Boeing to open an aircraft maintenance facility at Chennault. His advocacy helped lead Lake Charles out of the 1980s recession into what it is today: one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the nation.
He passed away in 2016 at 73. His wife Becky was given the honor of unveiling a placard at the boardroom’s entrance bearing his name. Family members were also given a tour of the facility so they could see the impact of Watson’s legacy firsthand.
Board President Charles Dalgleish said the former mayor’s fighting spirit continues to inspire commissioners as they work toward Chennault’s mission of creating jobs and economic development in Southwest Louisiana.
“As leaders of Chennault we stand on the shoulders of people like Ed Watson who believed in our future at a time when few did,” said Executive Director Kevin Melton, who joined the airport this spring. “We feel fortunate to have the honor of dedicating our boardroom to such a great supporter and a great man.”
Chennault International Airport is a major industrial airport in Lake Charles, La., founded in 1986. The airport and its tenants employ some 1,500 persons and account for $300 million in annual economic impact. It was recently honored as Louisiana Airport of the Year by the Federal Aviation Administration.