(Bellwood)-Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Deputies, Natchitoches Parish Fire Protection District #4 and Natchitoches Regional Medical Center EMS responded on May 19 around 10:12 pm to NATCOM 911 Center reports of a structure fire in the 400 block of Bellwood Church Road in Bellwood according to the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office.

According to NATCOM 911 Center, the residence owned by Daniel and Kayla Mathis was a total loss.

The cause of the fire is being determined by NPFD #4.

A fireman was treated at the scene for exhaustion by EMS and released without transport.

There were no injuries.

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NSU Slated to Receive $52 million in Capital Outlay funding

Among a group of bills given final legislative approval by the Louisiana House, House Bill No. 2 presents a comprehensive Capital Outlay budget. This bill has yet to be signed by Governor John Bel Edwards. Once the governor signs the legislation into law, the Section sends agencies letters notifying them of capital outlay appropriations and of the procedures required to initiate funded projects.

Health Performance Center, Planning and Construction – Payable from State General Fund (Direct) Non-Recurring Revenues


Renovation of Roy Hall, Planning and Construction – from General Obligation Bonds (Priority 5)


Replacement of John S. Kyser Hall, Planning and Construction – Payable from General Obligation Bonds

Priority 1 – $3,907,680
Priority 5 – $33,195,000
Total – $37,102,680

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Blessed: Graduation Season

The month of May boasts many memorable holidays and events. We honor our Mothers, we remember our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day, Cinco de Mayo, Teacher Appreciation Week and the Kentucky Derby. May, in the South, also indicates the end of the school year for most students.

Last, and certainly not least, May is graduation season.

Recently I was looking through my own senior book with all of my memorabilia. It is a book that recorded all of my future goals and dreams, photos of friends, copies of old prom invitations and tickets to concerts that were attended. It truly is fun to go back and chuckle at the differences in me now compared to thirty years ago. Most of it is a little on the embarrassing side, especially when I ran across my school transcript.

Looking at that old transcript always brings a sense of sadness and regret. As I mention to anyone that will listen to me, I simply was not a good student and I often want to apologize to my old teachers when I see them. I was more on the social pathway and not so much on the academic pathway. I try not to wonder how different my life would have looked had I really applied myself during those days. I also remember the deep seeded stress and worry not knowing if I would graduate.

Last week I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Lakeview High School graduation ceremony. Having worn my own Lakeview green cap and gown in 1992, I was thrilled at the chance to celebrate with this class and the administration.

As I made my way to the stage to sit with my fellow School Board members and dignitaries for the evening, I was overcome with a huge sense of unworthiness, humbleness and gratefulness. Here was this lowly ranked student, who struggled every day….preparing to go and shake the hands of these hard working graduates. My sense of not belonging quickly subsided as the Pomp and Circumstance Graduation March began to play.

As the song played, the crowd of parents, grandparents, siblings, neighbors and friends went wild clapping and cheering for their graduate. There were families with matching t-shirts, (my family never did this for me…just saying) signs and banners that declared their student’s name. I even saw huge signs with large face cut-outs of their students. I truly had chills of excitement and became teary eyed for these students as well as the love and pride that was being shown to the children.

This week I also was blessed to celebrate with the graduating class of Natchitoches Parish Technical and Career Center. It was a smaller class in size but definitely not in school spirit. I watched each one of these hard working students walk across the stage donning baby blue caps and gowns with such pride and happiness. There may have been a look or two of relief in there as well. If they were like me, they were certainly relieved!

Thursday night was Marthaville Junior High’s 8th grade graduation and the whole community showed up to support these amazing children as they make their way into high school.

Having shaken the hands of most of these graduates, all I could think of was the amount of praying, tutoring, fussing, juggling and sacrifices that all of these parents had to make in order for their child to graduate. It has been a beautiful week celebrating public education and we will continue celebrating with the Natchitoches Central Chiefs on Friday night.

It will always be the biggest blessing for me to have a front row seat, or any seat for that matter, to watch our students in Natchitoches Parish Public Schools graduate. Student achievement is why we do what we do. I cannot begin to imagine the pride that our teachers and staff must feel when they see their students outfitted in a cap and gown. Mission accomplished. These graduates will now enter into our workforce, enter into our colleges and begin their first steps to adulthood. Education is the backbone of our society and I think Natchitoches Parish produces some of the best and brightest young scholars this state has to offer.

Please always pray for our educators and school staff. It is an extremely hard but rewarding job shaping the minds of students and teaching them how to be successful, well rounded adults.

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
1 Timothy 4:12

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Road trip to Tensas doesn’t disappoint

Two years ago when I visited the Tensas National Wildlife Refuge in Madison Parish for the first time, I hoped to see a bear. It didn’t happen but I saw enough and triggered the interest in my wife sufficiently that she wanted to go see this remarkable place.

A year later, it all came together when we were invited by my friend and regular Tensas visitor, Dr. Terry Jones, for the trip over to tour the refuge which touches parts of three parishes, Madison, Tensas and Franklin.

This special part of our state has a fascinating history. Founded in 1980 to preserve one of the largest privately owned tracts of bottomland hardwoods remaining in the Mississippi River delta, the refuge encompasses some 80,000 acres of pure swampy bottomland hardwood majesty. This type of habitat once covered 25 million acres, the majority of which over the years was cleared to make way for farmland, the rich soils being the major attraction.

Today, these same rich soils support some 400 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. The largest population of the threatened Louisiana black bears live here. Tantalizing too is the fact that the last verified sighting of the Ivory Billed Woodpecker, now believed to be extinct, was in 1940 on the area that now makes up the Tensas National Wildlife Refuge.

With that bit of history laid out, now back to this past Monday when we drove over to see what Tensas would show us. She didn’t disappoint.

First, Jones led us to the check station where mandatory forms were completed so refuge managers can keep count of the number of visitors. Then we headed down Mill Road where Jones and I had seen alligators on our previous visit. While not as many as we had seen on our

last visit, they were there; we watched five gators paddling easily over the waters of a borrow pit with the largest being maybe 10 feet long.

After photographing the alligators, we reversed course, drove back to the check station where Jones suggested I lead out on a slow drive down Quebec Road, telling us to keep an eye out for “critters.”

“We have sometimes seen bears along this drive,” Jones said as we motored away.

A mile or so down the road, something caught my eye. There was a bear in the roadside ditch maybe 10 feet from the car. She ascended the shallow bank and stopped next to a large tree. My wife and watched spellbound as two tiny bear cubs followed her up the bank. Our cameras and those of Jones, who had pulled to a stop behind me, were busy photographing the bear and her little ones.

They remained in the same spot as we drove off down the road talking about how fortunate we were to see such a sight. Turning around half an hour later and returning to the spot, lo and behold, the trio of bears was still there.

We got to watch one of the little guys climb a few yards up the tree for a better look, with our cameras snapping away and disrupting their afternoon of doing whatever they were doing when we spotted them.

Finally, mama bear had had enough of all the attention. She glared at us sitting in our vehicles 20 steps away from her, then rushed forward a few feet making a “huff, huff” sound.

We got the message. We had gotten to witness what we came to see and drove away leaving the bears to themselves but left with memories we won’t soon forget.

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Northwestern State places 15 entries into the NCAA East Preliminaries

NATCHITOCHES – The Northwestern State track and field programs are returning to their pre-pandemic level of qualifiers in the NCAA East Preliminaries, even though marks and time nationwide improved significantly this season.

Twelve different student-athletes have 15 event entries in the preliminaries at Indiana University, which will host the event from May 25-28.

The target is to land in the top 12 individuals or relays to punch a ticket to the NCAA Championships at the University of Oregon.

NSU’s program record of 21 entries was set in 2016, but this season’s 15 entries was accomplished in a more difficult national landscape with more “super seniors” – fifth and sixth-year student-athletes because of extra eligibility from the COVID-19 pandemic – supplying better times and marks.

“This is a testament to the athletes and coaches we have to make sure that we were still able to qualify as many as we did, but most of the credit goes to the athletes,” said NSU coach Mike Heimerman. “They are getting it done.

“The faster times across the nation can be attributed to more competitors who are in their fifth and sixth seasons. It was incredibly tough across the board this year.”

To qualify for the NCAA East Preliminaries, athletes had to finish in the top 48 in the East in their individual event or among the top 24 relays.

The Demons will have 12 entries with the Lady Demons compiling three entries.

The men start the four-day competition Wednesday with finals on Friday while the women will do the same Thursday and Saturday.

Three throwers account for five of those entries, which are the first NSU male throwers to qualify since 2018.

Sophomore Djimon Gumbs ranks ninth in the discus (NSU record 193-3) to lead an NSU trio that includes freshman Tarajh Hudson (27th, 186-6) and sophomore Diamante Gumbs (35th, 182-7).

Both Gumbs qualified in the shot put as Djimon sits in 18th (61-11) and Diamante 43rd (58-1).

Staying in the field, pole vaulter Annemarie Broussard will attempt to be the second-ever Lady Demon vaulter to make the NCAAs as the junior enters in 17th with a program record 13-9.75.

Nikaoli Williams is the only NSU athlete to compete in the field and on the track as he is slated for three events after not competing in a fourth for which he qualified (triple jump).

The sophomore will take off in the long jump in 18th place (25-8), run in the 100 meters (45th, 10.24) and run a leg of the 4×100 (12th, 39.35).

Williams will be joined on the relay by seniors Kie’Ave Harry and Tre’Darius Carr, who each ran a leg of the 2018 relay that finished seventh in the NCAA Championship finals.

Others who could run a relay leg include seniors Evan Nafe or Javin Arrington or freshman Simon Wulff.

Harry leads NSU’s 100 meters contingent ranked 10th with a 10.10.

Lynell Washington will make her first regional appearance in the 100 meters, entering in 44th place with an 11.44.

The Demons will be represented in the 200 and 400 meters range.

Wulff and sophomore Dylan Swain will take swings in the 200 as each ran their qualifying time at the NSU Leon Johnson Invitational. Wulff ranks 31st (20.61) and Swain is 35th (20.63).

Junior Destine Scott will take a crack at the 400 meters with his 46.38, which ranks 31st in the field.

Hurdler Janiel Moore returns to regionals in the 400 hurdles ranked 25th with a 58.59, which she clocked in the Demon Last Chance Meet this past week.

Moore, who shaved more than a second off her previous best of 59.71, needed the new PR as her old mark would have fallen .02 seconds short.

Photo: Erik Williams, Southland Conference

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FARMERS MARKET – This Saturday

The City of Natchitoches will kick-off the Natchitoches Farmers Market tomorrow (Saturday) and will be open every Saturday every Saturday from now until July 23, 2022.

The Natchitoches Farmers Market will be downtown on the riverbank from 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

May 21, 2022 – “Battle of the Badges”
May 28, 2022 – “Signs of Summer”
June 4, 2022 – “The Chicken or The Egg?”
June 11, 2022 – “Mini Makers Day”
June 18, 2022 – “Blue Grass Day”
June 25, 2022 – “Contest on the Cane!!!”
July 2, 2022 – “4-H Day”
July 9, 2022 – “Blending for Health”
July 16, 2022 – “One Mans Treasure!!”
July 23, 2022 – “Farming on the Cane”

For more information, please contact the Farmers Market at (318) 663-5190 or (318) 214-7911.

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Demons’ hot start not enough to corral Colonels in tournament

LAKE CHARLES – The Northwestern State baseball team picked up where it left off in its most recent visit to Joe Miller Ballpark on Thursday.

The Demons broke quickly in their first-round Southland Conference Baseball Tournament game against No. 4 seed Nicholls but were unable to sustain that success against the Colonels bullpen.

That relief work allowed Nicholls to claw back from a trio of early deficits and edge fifth-seeded Northwestern State, 7-6, and send the Demons to Friday’s 1 p.m. elimination game against the loser of Thursday’s matchup between No. 1 seed McNeese and eighth-seeded Incarnate Word.

“When their reliever (Chase Gearing) came in, he settled the game down for them,” sixth-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “We’ve got to be able to adjust our at-bats. We had a really good game plan for the starter (Devin Desandro), which we executed well. We have to do a better job of when they bring somebody else in to extend the lead with the wind blowing out.”

The Demons (25-28) took advantage of a blustery day, connecting on a two-run home run in each of the first two innings against Desandro, who tossed six shutout innings against Northwestern State in an 8-2 Nicholls win on April 14 in Thibodaux.

Jeffrey Elkins connected on his 13th home run of the season in the opening inning, moving him into a tie for sixth on NSU’s single-season home run list and into an eighth-place tie in career home runs with his 24th.

The Colonels (26-23) had an answer for Elkins’ homer as they took advantage of some soft contact in the first inning against Demon left-hander Cal Carver (4-5), scoring runs on a groundout and an infield single.

The 2-all tie was short-lived as Austin Kirkpatrick drilled a two-run home run off Desandro in the second inning to regain the lead for Northwestern State and allow Carver to settle in.

Carver, a second-team All-Southland Conference selection, retired nine straight from the first through fourth innings before the Colonels touched him for three runs in the fifth.

That three-run inning came on the heels of an extended top of the fifth that saw Nicholls coach Mike Silva ejected from the game after a controversial walk drawn by Elkins.

After Daunte Stuart and Gabe Colaianni drew back-to-back, one-out walks off Desandro, Nicholls called on Gearing in relief. The right-hander fell behind 2-0 on Elkins and delivered a 2-1 pitch near the outside corner that was called a strike. One pitch later, Elkins was awarded first base after some confusion regarding the count, loading the bases with one out.

The Demons managed only a run in the top of the fifth – on Larson Fontenot’s bases-loaded hit by pitch – before Nicholls answered with Xane Washington’s two-run home run and a bases-loaded hit by pitch to tie the game.

Gearing kept the Demons at bay as Nicholls took the lead on a run-scoring double play in the sixth and a two-out RBI triple by shortstop Parker Coddou in the seventh.

Coddou’s hit came after Austin Cain walked on a full-count pitch with two outs and nobody aboard and proved to be a key insurance run as Kirkpatrick connected for his second home run of the game – a high-arcing shot inside the left-field foul pole – in the eighth for the only run Gearing allowed in his 4 2-3 innings of relief.

“We have to understand quicker what (Gearing) is trying to do,” Barbier said. “Early, he was locating that ball away pretty good, and we never made an adjustment. (Kirkpatrick) put a couple of good swings on balls. Today was a day where if you hit the ball hard in the air, it was going to do something good.”

The Demons made one final push against Gearing as Colaianni doubled into the right-field corner with two outs and Elkins walked to put the go-ahead run on base before Coddou ranged far to his left to gobble up Bo Willis ground ball and throw him out to seal Nicholls’ win.

Nicholls 7, Northwestern State 6
NSU 220 010 010 – 6 9 0
Nicholls 200 031 10x – 7 11 0

W – Chase Gearing (5-3). L – Cal Carver (4-5). 2B – NSU, Gabe Colaianni. NICH, Dane Simon, Xane Washington. 3B – NICH, Parker Coddou. HR – NSU, Austin Kirkpatrick 2 (4), Jeffrey Elkins (13). Nicholls, Washington (9). Highlights: NSU, Kirkpatrick 2-4, 2 HRs, 3 RBIs. NICH, Simon 3-5, 2B; Washington 3-5, 2B, HR, 2 RBIs.
Records: Northwestern State 25-28, Nicholls 26-23.

Photo: Leighton Chamblee/McNeese Athletics

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“This year’s operating and capital outlay budgets represent the largest investment in our work in more than 15 years. Through their investment in our faculty, our research and innovation, and our campus infrastructure, our state policymakers sent a clear message that they understand the importance of our nine member institutions to the future of our state’s economy. We are grateful to our governor and our legislature for this monumental investment. For your future. For our future.”

Dr. Jim Henderson
President and CEO

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Drawdown for Saline Lake (Natchitoches and Winn Parishes)

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has scheduled a drawdown of Saline Lake (Natchitoches and Winn Parishes) for giant salvinia management, reduction of organic muck, and fish habitat improvement. The drawdown is designed to reduce the further expansion of salvinia as summertime temperatures promote maximum growth.

The water control structure is scheduled to open on June 1, 2022, and the lake should dewater at a rate of 4 inches per day. The water level will be lowered to a maximum drawdown level of 8 feet below normal pool stage, depending on Red River Pool 3 water level. The Saline Lake control gates are scheduled for closure on October 3, 2022, to allow the lake to refill for fall, winter and early-spring recreational activities.

During the drawdown, an estimated 2,500-3,000 acres of water will remain in the lake. Boaters may still access the main waterbody from the Mulligan Inn Boat Ramp with small craft, but caution is advised. Caution is also advised when on the water, as numerous obstructions that are normally not seen are present.

This action is a necessary component of LDWF’s integrated plan to manage overabundant aquatic vegetation and to improve access for recreational activities. An annual cycle of high and low water fluctuation can provide beneficial effects similar to a natural overflow lake system.

For additional information regarding the drawdown, contact Villis Dowden, LDWF Biologist, at (318) 357-3214.

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Stormy Waters II

By Steve Graf

Bass fishermen are weather fanatics! We are constantly looking at the forecast and what to expect for our next event. We are so enthralled with the weather that we will look at the forecast 10 days in advance so we can start planning our fishing strategy. But nothing gets an angler’s attention quicker than stormy skies. During my 32 years as a tournament angler, there have been a couple of situations that really made me nervous.

Back in 2015 on Toledo Bend was one such day, as the forecast was for clear skies with light and variable winds out of the south at 10 to 15 MPH. But you must first understand that a south wind on Toledo Bend means it’s coming right down the pipe. It’s a lake where even a small amount of wind out of the north or the south can make navigation difficult. The problem with Toledo Bend is that you must run the boat roads which puts you out in the middle of the lake most of the time. To compare, Sam Rayburn has no boat roads, and you can run closer to the bank and get out of the wind most of the time.

But on this one occasion in 2015, the tournament was out of Fin & Feather Resort on the far south end of Toledo Bend. This resort is located on the south bank of what is called Six Mile Bay. A south wind has no impact on this area and is an area you can fish without much of a problem. But as my number was called for takeoff and I headed for the main lake to make a run north and across the lake to Negreet Creek, I was met with 20 plus MPH winds and four-foot rollers (waves). One thing about driving a boat, it’s a lot easier to go against the waves rather than go with them. As I made the turn north in this rough water, it was apparent rather quickly that my run to Negreet Creek was not going to happen.

After riding four-foot waves for about three miles and beating my co- angler and myself to death, I finally came to a pocket on the west side I could pull into and possibly fish. After we gained our composure and dried off from our soaking short run, I told my co-angler to settle in for the day because we were not going to go out and fight that kind of rough water until time to go back for the weigh-in.

Another problem with running in this kind of rough water is the wear and tear on your boat and equipment. I’ve seen anglers come in with trolling motors hanging off or their electronic fish sonars no longer on the boat after a rough ride in. Boat hulls have sustained major damage and anglers have been hurt fighting waves and trying to stay in the boat on these long runs back. At some point as an angler you must ask yourself, “Is it worth tearing up all my equipment for a few pounds of fish?”

The answer for me is a resounding “NO,” as I must not only worry about myself, but I have a co-angler that I’m responsible for getting back safely. After a long day of fishing, we headed back with south winds now exceeding 25 MPH. We were over three miles from the boat ramp, and I knew it was going to take at least an hour to go that distance in that kind of water. So, we left at 2:00 for a 3:00 weigh-in time. It was a good thing we did as I was never able to put the boat on a plane and run. We literally idled the entire three miles back to Six Mile Bay and made our check in time with only two minutes to spare. I’ve only kissed the ground twice in my life, once on Sam Rayburn and this day on Toledo Bend.

Again, anglers face all kinds of weather every season, but nothing affects us or our decisions more than wind. The first question I always ask myself when a decision must be made, “Is it worth it?” Most of the time, the answer is “no” and will always be “no” when it comes to the safety of my co-angler and myself. Until next time, good luck, good fishing and don’t forget to set the hook!

Steve Graf – Owner/Co-host
Hook’N Up & Track’N Down Show & Tackle Talk Live

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Main Stage

1:00 – 2:00          Klockwork Band (Rhythm & Blues) 

2:15 – 3:45          The Chase Tyler Band (High-energy Country)

4:00 – 5:00          Johnny Earthquake & The Moondogs (High-energy variety show band)

5:05 – 5:20          James Burton (Guitar Legend) 

5:25 – 5:55          Marty Haggard (Country – “Tribute to Merle”) 

5:55 – 6:25          Deshawn Washington (R&B vocalist)

6:50 – 8:20          Resurrection (Journey tribute)

8:45 – 10:15     The Commodores (Presented by Natchitoches Regional Medical Center and the Cane River Waterway Commission)

The Venue on Front Street Jazz Stage

12:00 – 1:00        Dave Duplissey’s Sax in the Corner Band (Smooth Jazz) 

1:15 – 2:15          The Nakatosh Rhythm Chiefs (Gypsy Jazz)

2:30 – 3:30          The Nakatosh Rhythm Chiefs (Gypsy Jazz)

3:45 – 4:45          Forsyth Jazz Collective (Jazz) 

Roque House Stage

12:00 – 1:00        LA Sweet T (Latin Rhythms)

1:10 – 2:10          The Kelli Roberts Band (Rock & Roll variety)

2:20 – 3:20          The Sundown Band (Rock & Country)

3:30 – 4:30          Armadillo Jackal Band (Americana/Folk) 

​4:45 – 5-45          Jesse Cole (Alternative Rock) 

6:00 – 7:00          Josh Hyde and The Lost Parish (Original NOLA-Style Blues)  

Fleur De Lis Stage

12:00 – 1:00        The Turn-Ups (Classic Rock)

1:10 – 2:10          Snake Doctors (Americana/Blues/Folk)

2:20 – 3:20          50 Man Machine (Celtic/Americana)

3:30 – 4:30          The Comeback Kids (Classic Rock & Country)

4:45 – 5:45          Cane River Soul (Classic Rock/R&B/Funk) 

6:00 – 7:00          B Cam and The Zydeco Young Bucks (High-energy Zydeco) 

Purchase tickets here:


*No umbrellas, ice chests or chairs are allowed*

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NSU calendar for May 22-28

Here is a look at the week of May 22-28 at Northwestern State University.

May 22-28 – Registration for summer, fall semesters

May 23-24 — Phi Beta Delta Annual International Conference online

May 25-26 – Freshman Connection, Natchitoches campus

May 27 — “Seussical the Musical,” Theatre West, 7 p.m.

May 28 — “Seussical the Musical,” Theatre West, 2 p.m., 7 p.m.

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Notice of Death – May 19, 2022

Benedict “Bubba” LaCour, Jr.
December 1, 1945 – May 4, 2022
Service: Saturday, May 21 at 11 am at St. Augustine Catholic Church in Isle Brevelle

Bobbie May Harper
August 4, 1936 – May 18, 2022
Service: Saturday, May 21 at 2 pm at Warren Meadows Funeral Home Chapel

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CHOPIN – Two men were recently arrested in connection with the theft of copper from RoyOMartin Plywood Plant in south Natchitoches Parish according to Natchitoches Sheriff Stuart Wright.

Sammy D. Smith, 48, of the 2300 block of La. Hwy 486, Campti, La. was booked into the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center on Monday afternoon, May 16, charged with Felony Theft.

Elisha Jonas Barrow, 20, of Shasta Lake, California was also booked into the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center on Monday afternoon, charged with Felony Theft, Possession of CDS I Marijuana and Criminal Trespassing.

The investigation began on Monday morning, May 16, at approximately 9:33am, when supervisors with RoyOMartin Plywood Plant located in the 1600 block of La. Hwy 490 in Chopin contacted the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office reporting an individual trespassing on the property where copper wiring and other metal items are stored.

Deputies have investigated prior copper thefts at the plant.

Shortly after the complaint, a deputy working security and supervisors detained a male identified as Elisha Barrow trespassing on the property.

Sammy Smith was also found near the railroad tracks nearby and detained.

Additional deputies responded to assist including a NPSO detective.

As the investigation progressed, and while interviewing both suspects, detectives learned the vehicle a black 2008 Dodge Avenger bearing a California license plate, they were traveling in was parked on the Emmanuel Road near Chopin.

Deputies located the vehicle.

Deputies say while looking at the vehicle, they observed a small bag of suspected marijuana in plain view in the vehicle.

During a search of the vehicle, deputies discovered and seized the bag of suspected marijuana observed in plain view, and a large bundle of stripped gauge copper wire in the truck valued over $750.00 dollars.

A local towing service was contacted to store the vehicle.

Detectives returned to crime scene and recovered wire strippers and a large duffel bag.

Both suspects remain in the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center.

This is the third time, Smith has been arrested in connection with Copper thefts at RoyOMartin Plywood in the past couple of years.

Deputies say both suspects are not employees of the company.

The investigation is continuing.

If you have any information, contact Detective Amber Shirley at 357-7830.

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District Attorney Announces Guilty Plea and Sentencing in Armed Robbery Case

District Attorney Billy Joe Harrington announced today the guilty plea and sentencing
in an armed robbery and attempted murder case.

Tyler Charles, 23, of Natchitoches, pleaded guilty in the 10th Judicial District Court to
armed robbery and attempted 2nd degree murder.

The conviction is the result of a 2020 incident in which Charles admitted to robbing Tommy’s Grocery in Natchitoches and stabbing the store employee during the robbery.

Judge Lala Sylvester sentenced Mobley to 30 years of imprisonment at hard labor without the benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence.

Special Prosecutor Clifford R. Strider, III prosecuted the case.


LANE CLOSURE: LA 119 over Unnamed Creek

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD), advises the public that on Friday, May 20, 2022 from 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM, weather permitting, Bridge# 083501180300511 on LA 119 over UNNAMED CREEK will be reduced to one lane for routine bridge inspection. The bridge is located 0.5 MI. NORTH OF GORUM.

Permit/Detour section
No detour will be needed as one lane will be open at all times.

Safety Reminder
DOTD appreciates your patience and reminds you to please drive with caution around the construction sites and be on the lookout for work crews and their equipment.

Additional Information
Motorists can access the latest updates on real-time traffic and road conditions using the 511 Traveler Information System by dialing 511 from their telephone and saying the route or region on which they are seeking information. Out-of-state travelers can call 1-888-ROAD-511 (1-888-762-3511).

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Street upgrades to Sam Sibley Drive begin today

Northwestern State University is in the beginning stages of an overlay project of Sam Sibley Drive. Regional Construction has begun mobilization and placed barricades in front of the Dr. Randall J. Webb Wellness, Recreation and Activities Center and Caspari Hall. The campus community can expect workers and construction equipment from the corner of Sam Sibley Drive and Caspari down the hill to the intersection with South Jefferson at Chaplin’s Lake.

The first stage of the project will include the removal of existing concrete in front of the WRAC and Caspari Hall, which will be redesigned with drainage considerations that will dictate the rest of the project. Access to the Caspari Hall parking lot and the front of Roy Hall will not be blocked.

Individuals on campus should not relocate or remove barricades. The upgrades should be completed before the start of the fall semester.

For more information, contact Jen Kelly, executive director of University Affairs, at (318) 357-4300.

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NSU dance students featured in new film

The abandoned Nesom Natatorium at Northwestern State University was recently the site for a new dance film, “Candy Apple” by BODYART.

Thirteen NSU dance students and three other dancers were featured in the film “that explores women’s self-realization through the context of media,” according to Director Leslie Scott. “Candy Apple” was inspired by Busby Berkeley and Niki Minaj, featuring overhead dream ballet sequences and gestures that explore gender normativity and the hypersexualization of the female body.

“I taught a dance + tech class during the pandemic for the dance students,” said Scott. “During this class one of the students shot her final film project in the Natatorium and I was immediately taken with the decayed space. I have a long history of working in abandoned spaces and was excited to create a work that was in direct response to the space and the lives that did, or now no longer, inhabit that space.”

Scott said the project was made in partnership with Brett Garfinkel, chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at NSU. Garfinkel is a former member of the BODYART Company and is a longtime collaborator with Scott.

“BODYART draws a lot inspiration from abandoned places,” said Scott. “In 2014, BODYART launched The Decay Project, a film residency program where BODYART collaborates with communities that have experienced economic or natural disaster. The Decay Project uses dance and movement practices to encourage residents to celebrate and reconcile their personal memories surrounding a place that has been destroyed, helping those most affected to move forward. The residency culminates with a dance film that captures the essence of a lost space and its impact on the community.”

First-year student Jillian Duggan of Shreveport was part of the cast and said the opportunity to be part of a film will help her as she pursues her dance degree.

“It was really challenging because the choreography and facial expressions were very specific,” said Duggan. “You must be focusing and thinking about what you’re doing the entire time. Being a dance major, this was the perfect opportunity to really start my resume. I got to dip my toes into the world of commercial dance, and it will definitely be a deciding factor in what type of dance career I want to pursue in the future.”

“Candy Apple” is the fifth dance film to come out of The Decay Project. It is the first in a series of films and performances that will investigate the hypersexualization of the female body. Scott plans to submit the film for consideration to be shown at film festivals.

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Natchitoches Jazz/R&B Festival THIS WEEKEND!

The Grammy winning Commodores are the big name headliner for this weekend’s Natchitoches Jazz R&B Festival but, according to Board Member Lisa Prudhomme, this year’s 25th Silver Celebration Festival offers much much more in the way of entertainment for the entire family.

“Sure, we are super excited about the Commodores,” said Prudhomme. “But at the end of the day, they are just one of 25 great bands who are going to be playing on the riverbank this weekend.” Prudhomme reminded that a Friday night show has been added featuring Zydeco great Gerard Delafose and the Zydeco Gators and 80’s hairband tribute act, LA Roxx. Tickets for Friday night’s show are only $10 with active duty military and children 12 and under admitted free.

Prudhomme said that there is a lot of buzz around the return of the Nashville based Journey tribute band Resurrection which will be returning to the festival by popular demand.

“Resurrection played in Prather Coliseum when we had to move the Festival there a few years ago” said Prudhomme. “A fairly small crowd attended because of the move but every person there was totally blown away with their re-creation of a Journey concert. We knew we had to get them back as soon as possible.”

Natchitoches’ own Johnny Earthquake and the Moondogs are going to be quite busy as has been tradition with the band at this Festival. They will be joined by several guest performers including county star Marty Haggard, doing a tribute to his father Merle, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Elvis Presley’s guitarist James Burton, and Natchitoches native and former Voice contestant Deshawn Washington.

“The Natchitoches Jazz Fest is always one of our favorite events to play,” said Moondogs keyboardist Henry Reggans. “We feel like we have a great set this year and are really excited to be joined by those other great artists.”

Prudhomme emphasized that the event is family friendly with bouncy houses and other activities for the kids and that there will be lots of food and refreshments, including adult beverages.

She is also excited about the move of the Jazz Stage to the brand new Venue on Front Street.

“The Jazz Stage this year will be in the cool confines of the new Venue on Front Street, (formerly Jimbo’s and The Landing) and it will be a great place to take a few minutes to cool off, have a cool drink and listen to some smooth jazz. We think it is going to be a great addition to the Festival,” Prudhomme said. A festival armband will be required for attendance.

Finally, Prudhomme did point out that while attendees are encouraged to bring their chairs, chairs will not be allowed on the amphitheater or in the area immediately in front of or adjacent to the main stage. However, chairs will be allowed at the other three stages and at the very top of the hill, on the sidewalk and the edge of Front Street. Tickets are still on sale. For more information go to

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Demons set to open SLC Tournament against Nicholls

LAKE CHARLES – A new look for the Southland Conference Baseball Tournament awaits Northwestern State on Thursday.

The venue, however, will be familiar one.

For the second time in less than two weeks, the Demons travel to Joe Miller Ballpark on McNeese’s campus to start bracket play in the two-week conference tournament. The fifth-seeded Demons face No. 4 seed Nicholls in the opening game of the Lake Charles bracket of the tournament at 1 p.m.

The winners of the four-team brackets will meet May 26-28 at the home of the best remaining seed to determine the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Reegionals.

Thursday’s game can be seen on ESPN+ while free streaming audio is available through and the Northwestern State Athletics Mobile App, which can be downloaded free for Apple and Android devices.

Northwestern State (25-27, 12-12 Southland) won two of three games at McNeese from May 6-8, one of two Southland road series wins for the Demons.

“It’s good for us, being familiar with the field,” sixth-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “Sometimes, when you go to a place you’ve seen, you’re comfortable. You’ve seen how the ball flies. Your pitchers, those turf mounds can be tough. They’ve been on them. I think (playing there) can be an advantage for us.”

Perhaps no group is looking forward to a return trip to Lake Charles more than the Demon offense.

Northwestern State homered seven times in three games against the Cowboys, part of a season in which the Demons have already tied their high-water mark for home runs in the Barbier era with 50. Beginning with their May 6 win against the Cowboys, the Demons hit 15 home runs in their final eight regular-season games, including two Tuesday night at LSU.

“It flies there,” senior center fielder Larson Fontenot said of Joe Miller Ballpark. “We’ll go there having confidence and let it fly. It’s going to be fun, really fun.”

The Demons will send left-hander Cal Carver (4-4, 4.31) to the mound in a tournament opener for the second straight season.

Carver, a second-team All-Southland Conference selection, took a no-decision in the 2021 tournament opener, working 6 2-3 innings of one-run ball at Southeastern a year ago. He earned a win on May 6 as the Demons defeated McNeese, 16-12, allowed four earned runs in seven-plus innings.

“It definitely keeps our heads high and our momentum up, knowing we went down there a week or two ago and took two of three,” he said. “If we want to get to the championship, we’re probably going to have to go through the host team again.”

McNeese, the bracket host and No. 1 seed, faces No. 8 seed Incarnate Word in Thursday’s 6 p.m. game with the winners meeting at 6 p.m. Friday following a 1 p.m. elimination game.

As the Demons prepare to face a Nicholls (25-23, 12-12) team that took the April 14-16 series two games to one, there are two things Barbier is looking for as Northwestern State attempts to replicate its 2018 tournament run.

“It’s big to be healthy going in,” Barbier said. “We had a couple of pitchers who were down last week that look like they’re going to be OK. We just have to play fearless baseball. It will be a good weekend to hit, like it was a couple of weeks ago.

“We have to go down there and play like we’re capable of playing. Any of these eight teams can come out with a championship. We had six teams in contention for the league title the last weekend of the season. The team that plays most freely and easy and gets after it for a weekend gives themselves an opportunity to move forward.”

Photo: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services

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