Panelists address state issues at Chamber Legislative Luncheon

Chamber Legislative Luncheon 2018 (2)

The Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce held a 2018 Legislative Issues Luncheon July 18 at the Natchitoches Regional Medical Center.

Louisiana Association of Business and Industry Stephen Waguespack moderated the panel. He began with a brief overview of the four legislative sessions held this spring. According to Waguespack the fiscal cliff Louisiana is facing dominated the sessions.

A special session held in February adjourned with a $994 million hole in the budget and without the legislature passing anything. The deficit dropped to $648 million by the regular session in March because of a federal tax cut passed by the president. This session too ended with no solution and no approved budget.

A second special session in May passed a budget. It also passed a bill creating louisianacheckbook.com, a website allowing the public to oversee the government’s spending. While a lot of debate revolved around a sales tax, the session ended with no funding solution. A third special session in June was called to address an anticipated $641 million revenue shortfall resulting from the expiration (June 30) of a temporary one penny sales tax. Passing a bill to renew .45 of one penny (generating $463 million for the state budget starting July 1), will fully fund TOPS, higher education and healthcare (with a two-year time stamp).

Luncheon sponsors were given he opportunity to ask questions of the three panelists: State Senators Gerald Long and Jay Luneau and State Representative Lance Harris.

Alliance Compressors asked the panelists what they see will be protected going forward regarding businesses and state taxes?

Long: Home utilities, prescription drugs and food aren’t taxed at the state level. Cumulatively, businesses and individuals receive $8.9 billion annually in exemptions and credits (like the $75,000 homestead exemption). Seventy percent of all businesses in the state fire 75 or fewer employees. We have to keep modeling what good practices look like to protect small businesses. Many of our exemptions/credits are 30-40 years on the books. We need to be better business mangers and better stewards of what we have.

Luneau: I think we could do away with 90 percent of the exemptions and credits we give across the state. Businesses need to know what their taxes are going to be from year to year. We need a fixed rate that’s lower. Louisiana has the highest amount of credit/deductions in the nation. We have too many. It’s gone too far. We need to be effective at attracting businesses but we can’t give away the farm. We need to be careful about how we do it.

Harris: We need to look at the exemptions that really add to our economy. The movie tax credit is the worst deal we have. We lose 82 cents of every dollar we spend.With MNE tax credits or other business incentives, companies will build brick and mortar plants. I’m in favor of these types of exemptions. We need to get out of the last 90 years of thought and look toward a future to attract business.

Exchange Bank knows that the Natchitoches is a college town and the Chamber has prioritized K-12 education. It’s questions was how does Louisiana achieve consistent, more robust funding for higher education?

Long: I think we spend far too little on education. It’s the driving force and what would Natchitoches be without Northwestern State University? This is an extremely poor state and if we’re gonna move it forward, we have to start with preK and Kindergarten. We need to figure out how to put more into it, so that it will produce future dividends.

Luneau: Facilities across the state are dealing with deferred maintenance and there’s a lot of issues they can’t afford to fix. We have created this system. NSU has old HVAC systems and Grambling had to close its library because of black mold. Some people say we have too many colleges and universities in the state and LSUA and NSU are at the top of the list for suggested closures. I don’t want to see them close. We have to balance our spending issues. We are one of the poorest, sickest states in the US, which is why we spend so much on LDH. Medicaid expansion created over 19,000 jobs, much like some of the jobs at the NRMC. I think it’s a good investment for what we do. The LDH is one of our biggest employers in central Louisiana.

Harris: We have to deal with the $3.2 billion in discretionary spending we have now. Some thought needs to be given to spending reform. K-12 and higher education are priorities. The way the budget is set up we have this thing called LDH (Louisiana Department of Health). A lot of the budget is being eaten up by Medicaid and it increases each year. We need to make sure the money the state receives is spent adequately on the right priorities. It’s critical we have health services, but it’s also critical we fully fund higher education.

Waguespack asked the panelists what their perceptions are of how the state manages the growing Medicaid program?

Harris: A legislative audit report said the program is being run in a “willy nilly” fashion. That’s scary for a $14 million department. The Medicaid program is expanding too fast for the economy to keep up with. Let’s deal with it in the most efficient way we can and keep looking at reforms to try and change it. The program will continue to grow and eat our state general funds. That’s the No. 1 problem we’ll face in the future.

Luneau: I serve in the Louisiana Adult Advisory Council and the Health and Welfare Committee. A federal audit said we’re third in the nation. It’s interesting that Louisiana’s chief auditor said the state is in a horrible position after a bill failed that would’ve given him more power. There’s fraud on the provider and recipient side of healthcare. The federal government told us the level of fraud is within the realm of what is acceptable. The question is then, what do we do?

Harris: CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) estimate Louisiana had $1.5 million in fraud.

Long: This program is benefitting so many people that have no chance. However, we need to control the cost of everything. The original funding for TOPS was $60 million. We spend almost 7 times that today. Many people in Natchitoches are receiving quality healthcare. We have a moral responsibility as a state to protect our people.

Lyft asked the panelists if they will vote to allow the expansion of access to ride-sharing services next year after it didn’t make it through this years sessions. Each panelist said they would as long as some issues were addressed. The companies want legislation that gives them a lot of protection. Panelists believe companies like Uber and Lyft are seeking special treatment while trying to skirt rules and regulations for taxi cab operators, who are regulated by the Public Service Commission.

If you could pass one bill with a magic wand what would it be?

Long: Something that would allow us to look at a new constitution. Since it was revisited in 1975 we’ve made 250 amendments. There’s some issues we need to address if we’re going to move forward as a state.

Luneau: Tax reform.

Harris: A spending limit bill for the state budget. We cannot sustain the level of spending we’ve had in the past because the private sector and public economy cannot pay to keep up with it.

NRMC President and CEO Kirk Soileau asked the panelists what efforts the legislature will make to improve public discourse and the divide between parties?

Long: I don’t want Baton Rouge to look like Washington DC. Unfortunately, it’s begun to look more like it. I believe in balance. We can pick and chose the items we believe in. If all I have is an “R” behind my name, I was put there for the wrong reason. It’s imperative we find common ground. We’re not there because of who we are but because the people thought we could be the best representatives for them.

Luneau: I detest partisan politics. I vote on issues the way I think my constituents want me to vote. A lot of times the votes are more philosophical, like minimum wage. If we don’t stop partisan politics we’ll soon find ourselves in a serious situation.

Harris: Partisan is something the press just loves to drum up. I see it as two philosophies at work. We get to Baton Rouge to duke it our very transparently. Look at criminal justice reform. That was non-partisan voting. Partisan voting gets brought up when I refuse to roll over and vote for someone’s bill. I’m being true to what I was elected for. It all gets resolved in the end. Maw Maw doesn’t get kicked out of the nursing home and we have college football because of legislative debate.

Other representatives present at the luncheon included:

Stephanie Mackenzie from US Senator Bill Cassidy’s office
John Barr from US Senator John Kennedy’s office
Lee Turner from US Senator Mike Johnson’s office
Mayor Lee Posey
Parish President Rick Nowlin

Chamber Legislative Luncheon 2018 (1)

Louisiana reports first human West Nile virus cases for 2018

Westnile-2018

The Louisiana Department of Health today reported the first human cases of West Nile virus for this year. These initial cases are listed in this year’s first weekly Arboviral Report and shows six WNV infections, distributed as follows:

Three cases of neuroinvasive disease: one case each in DeSoto, St. Tammany and Livingston parishes,

*The NID case previously reported to be in Tangipahoa parish has been changed to Livingston Parish. The case resides in a rural area very close to the border between the two parishes.

Two cases of fever: one each in East Baton Rouge and Ouachita parishes, and
One asymptomatic case in East Baton Rouge Parish that was diagnosed because of a blood donation.

West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease – This is the most serious type, infecting the brain and spinal cord. Neuroinvasive disease can lead to death, paralysis and brain damage.

West Nile Fever – A milder viral infection in which people experience flu-like symptoms.

Asymptomatic – The majority of people who contract West Nile will be asymptomatic, which means they show no symptoms. These cases are typically detected through blood donations or in the course of other routine medical tests.
In comparison, the department reported seven West Nile virus cases at this time last year.

Each week, the department will update and post the Arboviral Report with more detailed information about West Nile virus infections in Louisiana. The reports are available here.

Protect Yourself for Mosquitos

If you will be outside, you should wear a mosquito repellent containing DEET. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that repellents should contain no more than 30% DEET when used on children. Insect repellents also are not recommended for children younger than two months. CDC recommends that you always follow the recommendations appearing on the product label when using repellent.

Apply repellent on exposed skin and clothing. Do not apply under your clothes or on broken skin.
to apply repellent to your face, spray on your hands and then rub on your face.
Adults should always apply repellent to children.
Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors for long periods of time.
Avoid perfumes and colognes when outdoors for extended periods of time.
Make sure that your house had tight-fitting windows and doors, and that all screens are free of holes.

Eliminate Mosquito Breeding Grounds

Reduce the mosquito population by eliminating standing water around your home, which is where mosquitoes breed.

Dispose of tin cans, ceramic pots and other unnecessary containers that have accumulated on your property. Turn over wheelbarrows, plastic wading pools, buckets, trash cans, children’s toys or anything that could collect water.
Drill holes in the bottom of outdoor recycling containers. Drainage holes that are located on the container sides collected enough water for mosquitoes to breed.
Check and clean roof gutters routinely. They are often overlooked, but can produce millions of mosquitoes each season.
Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish. Water gardens can become major mosquito producers if they are allowed to stagnate.
Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used. A swimming pool that is left untended by a family for a month can produce enough mosquitoes to result in neighborhood-wide complaints. Be aware that mosquitoes may even breed in the water that collects on swimming pool covers.

Natchitoches Christmas Festival announces Christmas Season Entertainment

Natchitoches Christmas Logo TM FINAL

The Natchitoches Historic District Business Association and the City of Natchitoches will kick off the 2018 Natchitoches Christmas Season on November 17 as they officially “Turn on the Holidays.”

Louisiana native, Wayne Toups, will headline the entertainment for the 92nd Annual Natchitoches Christmas Festival on Dec. 1. Also featured throughout the season will be Maggie Rose, Chicken on the Bone, Jaryd Lane, 92Twenty, and Johnny Earthquake and The Moondogs. Many local favorites will accompany these bands each week.

Musical entertainment will begin each weekend at 4:30 p.m. on the rue Beauport Stage with the exception of Festival weekend with a starting time of 2:45 p.m.

November 17 – Cane River Soul & 92Twenty

November 24 – LaCour Trio & Chicken on the Bone

December 1 – Louisiana Sidemen & Wayne Toups

December 8 – Mike McKenzie Band & Maggie Rose

December 15 – Southbound 71 & Jaryd Lane

December 22 – Paul & Pete Band & Johnny Earthquake & The Moondogs

For more information on the 92nd Annual Natchitoches Christmas Festival, please visit www.NatchitochesChristmas.com.

Southern Scripts employee recognized at LA Pharmacies Association Convention

By Catherine J. Burke

Christina LaRochelle - SouthernScripts (1)Hard work and perseverance are two words that only begin to describe Christina LaRochelle.

LaRochelle’s dedication to helping people was recognized at the Louisiana Pharmacists Association’s 136th annual convention and trade show. She received the Pharmacy Technician of the Year award, given to one outstanding CPhT in the state who goes above and beyond.

The Louisiana Pharmacists Association, established in 1882, strives to promote the interests of all pharmacists of the State of Louisiana. Their annual conference this year was held July 12-14 in Lafayette.

Christina LaRochelle has worked as a certified pharmacy technician for CRx, Southern Scripts’ in-house pharmacy, since the company was founded. LaRochelle is married with 3 children. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time outdoors with her family and raising and showing goats.

“My primary goal (is) patient health comes first,” LaRochelle said. “It’s my focus.”

She also said she feels honored to receive this award. LaRochelle’s coworkers describe her as dedicated, attentive, kind and an absolute asset in the workplace. CRx and Southern Scripts are tremendously proud of Christina and cannot wait to see what she continues to accomplish.

“The work does not stop here,” she continued. “There is always a patient or member out there in need of help, and I look forward to continuing to help out everyone I can.”

Christina LaRochelle - SouthernScripts (2)

Area youth participate in NSU Robotics Camps

Robotics Camp 2018 (4)

The Department of Engineering Technology at NSU completed four summer robotics camps ranging from beginners and intermediate, to advanced levels. Sixty-two children from the area participated in these camps, learning basic electronics and how to assemble and program robots.

All sessions were given safety tips and a tour of the department facilities and labs. Examples from senior design projects related to radio-controlled devices were also demonstrated to participants.
The purpose of these camps is to engage students and attract them to STEM related fields. Robots are a great STEM tool since they combine hardware and software components. The camp tries to enhance teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking, and presentation skills of participants. Students were asked to draw their future robot and summarize its tasks. At the end of the camp students did a short presentation regarding what they learned and shared what they would like to do in the future. Each student was presented with certificate of participation. Three students of the ET department who are also members of the IEEE Chapter at NSU helped in leading different camp activities.

The annual robotics camps are sponsored by the ET Department at NSU and Natchitoches Chamber Education Fund. For more information about Engineering Technology and STEM related activities, contact ET Department Head, Dr. Jafar F. Al-Sharab at jafar@nsula.edu.

Kiwanis Club of Natchitoches Annual School Uniform Drive

kiwanuniformdrive2017

It’s that time again, SCHOOL TIME, and the Kiwanis Club of Natchitoches is hosting its annual School Uniform drive. The Club is collecting new and/or slightly used (in good condition) school uniforms for local children in need. The uniforms will be distributed to children in Natchitoches Parish through the Natchitoches Parish School Board. The club would like to have all donations delivered by Aug. 7, however, it will continue to collect uniforms through the end of August.

Collection sites are set up at Waskom, Brown & Associates, BOM, & MidSouth Bank.

Upward Bound graduates eight students

By Samantha Maiette

Upward Bound 1

 

With the intention of helping local area students, from low income families, Upward Bound has partnered with Southern University and Natchitoches Central High School to help students become better students and achieve their goals. On July 11, the program graduated eight students and recognized the achievements of others.

Upward Bound is a federally funded program which assist high school students with school work, ACT prep, college preparedness, social skills, time and anger management and helping students graduate from high school.

“I’ve seen [students] go from single digit ACT scores to double digits and having the ACT score to get into the college of their choice,” said Betty Fagbeyiro, executive director of the program in Natchitoches.

Fagbeyiro describes students when they first enter the program as shy, unfocused and “not taking their education seriously.” However, as the students progress through the program there are visible changes. However, she is not the only person who has noticed a difference in those who attend the program, parents have as well.

“I’m glad she’s in this program,” said Markeish White, a parent whose daughter started the program this summer. “It’s helped her during the school year and today is a wonderful achievement for her.”

On top of increasing their ACT scores, students are also able to obtain college credit which is funded by a scholarship; students were also exposed to guest speakers.

The program has been run by Southern University for the last 25 years. However, there was a time when the funding for the program was cut and the program was placed on hold until funding was restored.

Upward Bound is currently limited to 60 students and Fagbeyiro mentioned that funding would need to be increased before any students on the waiting list are allowed to participate in the program.

Boil advisory issued – Goldonna

Boil Order

There is currently a boil advisory in Goldonna. The Advisory will continue into next week due to the replacement of old water valves. When the contractors complete their work and the water lines have been flushed, residents will then be advised as to the status of the boil advisory

There is a boil advisory issued for Goldonna until further notice.

Verna Bedgood 318-727-8770.
Eugean Garner 318-663-1148

UPDATE – INDOOR SWIMMING POOL MEETING SCHEDULED – LOCATION CHANGED

IndoorSwimmingPool

UPDATE:

The meeting to discuss the possibility of planning and building an indoor swimming pool for Natchitoches has been moved to the Natchitoches Art Center, 716 Second Street. It will be held on Monday, July 30th at 5:30 p.m. The public is invited. For more information, contact Don Barker at 318-357-1590.


 

A meeting to discuss the possibility of planning and building an indoor swimming pool for Natchitoches will be held on Monday, July 30th at 5:30 p.m. at the old Chamber of Commerce office, 560 Second Street, next door to the Central Fire Station.

The public is invited; seating is limited.Contact Don Barker at 318-357-1590 for more information.

NPSB Qualified Candidates as of July 18, 2018

Deputy Clerks 2018

Deputy Clerk’s of Court that worked the qualifying today. Mesha Jury, Casey Harris, Katherin Holden and Shelley Poche. Qualifying continues until Friday at 4:30.

Natchitoches Parish School Board Seats

As of 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 18, 2018

Qualifying Window will close on Friday at 4:30 p.m. 
Not FINAL



Member of School Board District 1 – ONE to be elected

Rhonda Guidroz FILED 071818

Rhonda Guidroz FILED 07/18/18. Incumbent



Member of School Board District 2 – ONE to be elected

Harry Graham FILED 071818

Harry Graham FILED 07/18/18 Incumbent

Tankeia Palmer FILED 071818

Tankeia Palmer FILED 07/18/18

Bernard Johnson FILED 071918

Bernard Johnson FILED 07/19/18



Member of School Board District 3 – ONE to be elected

Katrina Demars FILED 071818

Katrina Demars FILED 07/18/18

Dorothy McGaskey FILED 071818

Dorothy McGaskey FILED 07/18/18



Member of School Board District 4 – ONE to be elected

Man_silhouette

Phil Brown FILED 07/18/18



Member of School Board District 5 – ONE to be elected

Katrina Willis FILED 071818

Katrina Willis FILED 07/18/18 Incumbent



Member of School Board District 6 – ONE to be elected

Tommy Melder FILED 071818

Tommy Melder FILED 07/18/18 Incumbent

Reba Phelps FILED 071918

Reba Phelps FILED 07/19/18

Elvin Shields FILED 071918

Elvin Shields FILED 07/19/18



Member of School Board District 7 – ONE to be elected

Eugean Garner FILED 071918

Eugean Garner FILED 07-19-18

Kendria Sanders FILED 071918

Kendria Sanders FILED 07/19/18



Member of School Board District 8 – ONE to be elected

Steven Harris FILED 071818

Steven Harris FILED 07/18/18 Incumbent

Tom Collier FILED 071818

Tom Collier FILED 07/18/18



Member of School Board District 9 – ONE to be elected

Carroll Daniels FILED 071818

Carroll Daniels FILED 07/18/18 Incumbent

Beverly J. Broadway FILED 071918

Beverly Broadway FILED 071918



Member of School Board District 10 – ONE to be elected

Russ Danzy FILED 071818

Russ Danzy FILED 07/18/18 Incumbent



Member of School Board District 11 – ONE to be elected

Emile Metoyer FILED 071818

Emile Metoyer FILED 07/18/18 Incumbent

Notice of Death – July 18, 2018

Notice of Death 2017

 

NATCHITOCHES PARISH:

Rex Sutton Britt
May 25, 1949 – June 27, 2018
Service: Saturday, August 4 at 11 am at Trinity Baptist Church

Laverne Bayonne
May 20, 1930-July 11, 2018
Visitation: Friday, July 20 from 5-9 pm at Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home
Service: Saturday, July 21 at 10 am at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Natchitoches
Interment: St. John the Baptist Catholic Church Cemetery in Cloutierville

WINN PARISH:

Loyd Harry Murphy
September 29, 1938 – July 13, 2018
Visitation: Thursday, July 19 from 9-11 am at the First Assembly of God Church in Winnfield
Service: Thursday, July 19 at 11 am at the First Assembly of God Church in Winnfield

SABINE PARISH:

Davy F. LaGrange
September 20, 1973 – July 16, 2018
Visitation: Thursday, July 19 at 5 pm at Trinity Baptist Church
Service: Friday, July 20 at 2 pm at Trinity Baptist Church
Interment: Trinity Cemetery

Kidnapping leads to homicide

Baby Kidnapped

 

The Natchitoches Police Department received a 911 call July 17 at 9:10 pm in reference to a 6 month old baby being taken from a residence in Mayberry Trailer Park. Officers arrived and spoke with the mother of the child who advised that two unknown subjects came to her trailer and began beating on her door. She stated upon opening the door she was sprayed in the face with a substance she believed to be mace. She immediately fled the residence to get away from the attackers and upon circling back discovered the baby missing.

Officers began immediately searching the area and called in additional officers from the Natchitoches Police Department, Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s 0ffice, Louisiana State Police and Northwestern State University Police Department. Natchitoches Fire Department was called to the scene to check the mother out.

At approximately 10:20 p.m. NPD received a report of a fire near Breda Ave and upon arrival discovered a baby approximately 6 months of age with obvious burns about his body. The baby was transported to NRMC in critical condition. He was then airlifted to University Health where he later succumbed to his injuries.

This investigation is continuing, further information will be given at a later time.

Approved for release by Chief Dove Date:7/18/18

NOTE: (Not part of the Dove release) The mother’s employer and coworkers have started a go fund me account to show their support. Donations can be made online at: https://www.gofundme.com/jspjha-for-levi

School Board amends boundary lines, approves new name for Technical Center

NPSB-071718 TOP

A special called School Board meeting July 17 approved students from Natchez to attend Provencal Elementary/Jr. High School. It also approved the transportation and attendance lines as it relates to Cloutierville, Provencal and Natchitoches City schools.

Boundaries for the Natchitoches/Provencal school zones:

Into Natchitoches would include both sides of Hwy. 494 and up to (not including) Hwy. 119 in Natchez. Continuing down 494 to the Bermuda Bridge (East side only), picking up Cedar Bend, Riverview Drive, Lambre Gin. Coming back down Bermuda Road, picking up St. Pauls Church Road, Pratt Lane, Solomon Lane. Also to include Patrick Road, Mari Street, Melle Street and any streets off of them.

Going to Provencal would include 119 in Natchez, Sowell Street, Johnson Loop, Church Street, Robinson Street, Natchez Place and anything on the west side of Hwy. 494. Bermuda Road and anyone with a hardship in this area will be able to go to either Natchitoches or Provencal.

Items added to the agenda included:

Advertise for bids for online course content system. These funds will be spent in Title I on certain educational material. It was added to the agenda at this meeting to gain time to purchase the material before school starts.

A name change was approved for the Frankie Ray Jackson Senior Technical Center. The new name for this coeducational public alternative school will be “The Natchitoches Parish Technical and Career Center.”

Superintendent Dale Skinner said the students and faculty came up with the name last year. With the Natchitoches Jr. High-Frankie Ray Jackson, there were two schools sharing a common name. This lead to problems with testing scores and general public confusion.