WEST BATON ROUGE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - A popular gun club in Port Allen that was tied up in a lease war now has a new owner with big plans for the property.
The gates are open. The clays are flying high. The shooters are lined up at the newly-renovated Bridgeview Gun Club. Shooter, Steve Webb, is back for a charity event.
"The new digs look great. They've done some remodeling and the lodge, the entire grounds, have been kept really well," Webb said.
The property, which is owned by the West Baton Rouge Law Enforcement District, closed at the end of last year when Sheriff Mike Cazes informed the former owner of what was then Hunter's Run Gun Club, Ron Duplessis, that he wanted to end the lease and put it out for bids. Despite a lucrative proposal by Duplessis, the sheriff accepted a bid from Keith Morris with Sugar West, a land company.
Duplessis filed a lawsuit to stop the sheriff from moving forward with the lease agreement with Morris. A judge ordered that the property be advertised for bids. Morris was the only bidder. This spring he entered a lease agreement with WBR.
"Shooting is my passion and it's always been and the people involved in it are just incredible people," Morris said.
Morris said he has replaced the equipment on the property and is in the process of rebuilding the traps and drainage. He has already overhauled the club house and said he plans to add an outdoor kitchen an offer a full menu. Some of those things were part of the lease agreement. Morris said he is also working on a few new things to keep people coming back.
Bridgeview has around 300 members. Morris said he is shooting for a thousand.
"We're having benefits for so many different functions that come in and we want to make it comfortable," Morris said.
"You can definitely see the changes. Everything I promised the people I would do is being done," Cazes said.
But not everything is settled. The sheriff and Morris are both named in a federal lawsuit alleging they conspired to take the gun club away from Duplessis. Sheriff cases said, that is simply not true.
"I'd rather take that battle to the court and let the judge make a decision," Cazes said.
Morris said, for now, he is focused on building his business bigger and better.
"Fun is really what we want. This is our optimal goal," Morris said.
Duplessis said he plans to open Hunter's Run Gun Club in its new location off of Highway 30 in the next six to eight weeks.