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Central, Louisiana
Motto(s): 
"A community that cares"
Location of Central in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana.
Location of Central in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana.
Location of Louisiana in the United States
Location of Louisiana in the United States
Country  United States
State  Louisiana
Parish East Baton Rouge
Area
 • Total 62.53 sq mi (161.95 km2)
 • Land 62.26 sq mi (161.24 km2)
 • Water 0.27 sq mi (0.71 km2)
Elevation
66 ft (20 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total 29,565
 • Density 472.81/sq mi (182.556/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
Area code(s) 225
FIPS code 22-13960

Central is a city in the U.S. state of Louisiana, second largest city in East Baton Rouge Parish, and part of the Baton Rouge metropolitan statistical area. The state's newest incorporated city in April 2005, Central had a 2020 census population of 29,565.

History

Long an unincorporated suburb of Baton Rouge, the citizens of Central voted to incorporate as a city on April 23, 2005, despite opposition from the parish. The U.S. Postal Service allows residents to use "Central, LA" with their current ZIP code.

Businessperson Russell Starns stated that the incorporation of Central, which took place in 2005, was a byproduct of the area's desire to establish a school system separate from East Baton Rouge Parish's; the Louisiana State Legislature allowed Central to operate a separate school system only after the city incorporated; Starns was the person who headed the incorporation movement.

It had about 25,000 residents when it incorporated. Former Central High School principal Shelton "Mac" Watts became the temporary mayor upon the incorporation of the city. Formal elections were held on April 1, 2006, in which voters chose incumbent Watts with 86 percent of the 18,000 votes cast.

In November 2006, the voters of the state passed a constitutional amendment authorizing the creation of the Central Community School District. The amendment authorized Central to govern its own public school system. Central operates its own police and fire departments. Other services, such as water, sewerage and trash, are still operated by the city-parish. Utilities are provided by DEMCO and Entergy.

On January 9, 2007, Governor Kathleen Blanco appointed the interim members of the new Central Community School Board. The board appointed Mike Faulk as the first superintendent. The new school system began operation on July 1, 2007.

By 2015 the city had about 28,000 residents.

Geography

Central is located in the east-central part of East Baton Rouge. The eastern boundary follows the Amite River, which forms the border with Livingston Parish.

Louisiana Highway 408 passes through the center of Central, leading west 7 miles (11 km) to Interstate 110 in the northern part of Baton Rouge. Downtown Baton Route is 13 miles (21 km) southwest of Central. Louisiana Highway 37 passes through the eastern part of Central, leading northeast 30 miles (48 km) to Greensburg, southwest 8 miles (13 km) to Monticello, and southwest 18 miles (29 km) to Baton Rouge.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the total area of Central is 62.5 square miles (161.9 km2), of which 62.2 square miles (161.2 km2) is land and 0.3 square miles (0.7 km2), or 0.44%, is water.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
2010 26,864
2020 29,565 10.1%
U.S. Decennial Census

The 2020 census tabulated a population of 29,565. At the 2019 American Community Survey, the racial and ethnic makeup of the city was 86.9% non-Hispanic white, 8.5% Black and African American, 0.8% Asian, 0.1% some other race, 1.1% two or more races, and 2.7% Hispanic and Latin American of any race. The median age among its population was 39.5, and there was a median income of $80,015, making Central one of the most wealthy communities in the Baton Rouge metropolitan area.

Education

Primary and secondary schools

Public schools

Residents are zoned to the Central Community School District.

The city's public schools are:

  • Bellingrath Hills Elementary
  • Tanglewood Elementary
  • Central Intermediate
  • Central Middle School
  • Central High School

The schools were acquired from the East Baton Rouge Parish Public Schools in 2007.

Prior to the acquisition:

  • Bellingrath Hills Elementary School served a section of eastern Central. Tanglewood Elementary School served a section of western Central. Other schools serving Central included Greenbrier Elementary School, Northeast Elementary School, and White Hills Elementary School.
  • Central Middle School served a large section of central Central, but other portions were zoned to other schools, including Glen Oaks Middle School and Northeast Middle School.
  • Most of Central was zoned to Central High School.

Private schools

Private schools within Central's School District boundaries include:

  • Central Christian Academy
  • Central Private School
  • St. Alphonsus Catholic School of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge, in Greenwell Springs - Established in 1963, its initial enrollment was 131. It now is a full K-8 school though initially it had grades 1–4.
  • MTI School of Ministry
  • Galilee Baptist Academy

Public libraries

East Baton Rouge Parish Library operates the Central Branch Library. Central's first library opened in the W.R. Edwards Store in 1940. The store needed room for expansion, so the library closed in 1944. It restarted activities in a permanent building in November of the following year. The library moved to a 2,604-square-foot (241.9 m2) leased building on April 10, 1972. The library purchased that building in 1982. The current library, with 18,263 square feet (1,696.7 m2) of space, opened in June 2002.

The Greenwell Springs Regional Branch Library is in nearby Monticello.

Notable persons

  • Barry Ivey, member of the Louisiana House of Representatives
  • Tony Spell, pastor of Life Tabernacle Church in Central; during the COVID-19 pandemic, defied efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus and continued to hold church services for hundreds of the faithful; charged with six counts of violating the Governor's Executive Order barring large gatherings; charged with aggravated assault for allegedly attempting to run over a protestor with a bus
  • Mack A. "Bodi" White, Jr., member of the Louisiana State Senate
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