Wattsville Center is a convenience store/museum located just outside the Village of Calvin, in the heart of what used to be known as Wattsville.
Owned and operated by Kenneth Bates, the store has recently become a hub of political activity. Bates has taken it upon himself to contact local politicians to request that they come to his store to speak to people about their concerns. “People congregate here, and we talk about different issues, so I thought it would be best if we brought the issues to the people that can actually do something about it,” said Bates.
Bates schedules his guest for 7 AM when most of his regular customers are at the store talking politics and drinking coffee. Local politicians that have stopped by to discuss people’s concerns include District 4 Police Juror Tammy Griffin, Police Jury President Josh McAllister, Winn Parish District Attorney Chris Nevils, Gum Springs Ranger Brad Cooper and District 13 State Representative Jack McFarland.
During the most recent Winn Parish Police Jury meeting, McAllister mentioned his visit to Wattsville Center, commenting that he wished more districts would host small group talks like the one he, Griffin and Nevils attended at Wattsville Center. “I think meetings like that are a huge benefit to the community. It lets us explain to people what we’ve accomplished and what issues we face as a parish. It helps people better understand what the jury is doing.” stated McAllister.
“I’m just trying to make this place a benefit to the community,” stated Bates. Speaking of benefits to the community, Wattsville Center also serves as a museum of sorts. Bates collects and showcases local and military history artifacts. He has a catalog of military veterans from Wattsville, including pictures and service records, doors from the original Calvin High School, photographs of the Wattsville School dating back to 1910 and much more.
If you’re ever driving north on Highway 501 from the Village of Calvin, stop by Wattsville Center, grab a drink and a snack, view some local history and just maybe run into a local politician.