City of Plaquemine Activity Center
The rich history of the City of Plaquemine Activity Center (COPAC) is a fine example of government reinventing the old for new community purposes. The facility, the former Plaquemine High School, was built in 1931, with the attached gymnasium added in 1937. The original two-story Art Deco Building was built under the Works Progress Administration (WPA) Program. The gymnasium was designed for boxing matches, for which Plaquemine hosted many champions during the 1950s. The football stadium was built as a fall-out shelter. It served as the public high school facility in Plaquemine until 1993, when a new high school was completed.
Eight individual buildings are located on the site, with complete educational and athletic amenities. This beautifully landscaped property, located in the heart of the city, is completely fenced and encompasses an entire city block in a primarily residential section.
Site Donation & Restoration
In 1995, Plaquemine Mayor Mark A. "Tony" Gulotta and the Board of Selectmen became interested in the "Old Plaquemine High School" when it was realized that the Iberville Parish School Board had no future plans for this site. It had been abandoned for over two years when new facilities were constructed. The City of Plaquemine asked the Iberville Parish School Board to donate the site and facilities to the city, and that donation was complete in January 1996. The city first reconditioned the grass track and football field and added lighting, and a blacktop walking track. Teams to use as a practice field for football, soccer and baseball, and the walking track is used by residents daily.
The gymnasium was restored under the watchful eye of Mayor Mark A. "Tony" Gulotta, with roof repairs, painting, bathroom reconstruction, and drainage added. It is now used on a regular basis by a variety of basketball teams for practices, games and tournaments.
Some local schools enjoy the availability of COPAC's facilities when their team populations overflow their school capacity use, but COPAC also hosts basketball practices, tournaments and World Games for Biddy Basketball, a national organization. The Plaquemine Renegades, a local team of the Riverside Independent Football League and the Baton Rouge Riverboat Bandits of the Southern American Football League (semi-pro-team) are regular users of COPAC field facilities. The gym and grounds have been made accessible for FEMA Hurricane Katrina relief workers and operations, and a movie, "The Badge," was shot at the site in 2002-2003 featuring actors:
- Billy Bob Thorton
- Sela Ward
- Patricia Arquette
- Jena Malone
- Julie Hagerty
The gym is open by appointment only and must be scheduled during business hours. All events must be open to the public. No private events (private parties, bridal/baby showers, teen dances, reunions, repasses) can be scheduled.
COPAC groups also host community events such as Relay for Life, Gopsel Fest, and Holly Jolly Christmas Festival. During Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike, the site served as a temporary housing unit for military and governmental units. This site is also used by the Louisiana Film and Entertainment Industry as a base camp for film production in the Plaquemine area.
Day Youth Camps
COPAC Day Youth Camps were held from 1993 to 2008. The City won the Louisiana Municipal Association's Community Achievement Award in 1997 for COPAC. In addition, the COPAC Camp received the Louisiana Attorney General's Criminal Justice Award in 1998, and was cited by the Attorney General Richard Leyoub as the "most innovative" youth program in the state.