Dr. Chris Maggio named interim Vice President for the Student Experience.

Chris MaggioDr. Chris Maggio has been named interim vice president for the student experience at Northwestern State University. The appointment has been approved by the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System and is effective July 1. Maggio will serve while a search is conducted to fill the position on a permanent basis.

Maggio will oversee the Offices of University Recruiting, Admissions and Financial Aid along with areas under the dean of students. For the past two years, Maggio has served as assistant vice president of external affairs for university advancement. He has been a staff member at Northwestern State since 1988. He was named Dean of Students and Assistant Provost for Student Success in 2007. Maggio was selected as Director of Alumni Affairs in 1999, Director of Alumni and Development in 2003 and Executive Director of the NSU Foundation in 2005.

Under Maggio’s leadership, the NSU Foundation completed its first capital campaign in Northwestern’s history, exceeding a campaign goal of $18.84 million and raising $31 million to support the university. He has also been a faculty member in the Department of Health and Human Performance for 19 years as an instructor, assistant professor and associate professor.

Maggio has co-authored publications on student achievement and retention, student media and student affairs for state and national professional publications. He has been a co-presenter at regional, state and national conferences on the university’s Summer Bridge program, advisor training, advising student media, student affairs and alumni affairs. Maggio has made numerous presentations about Northwestern State to a variety of local and regional groups.

During his career at NSU, Maggio also served as Director of Admissions and Recruiting and Director of Enrollment Services. He joined the staff at Northwestern State as women’s track and field coach.

Maggio, a 1985 summa cum laude graduate of Northwestern, earned his master’s of education at NSU.  He received a doctorate in developmental education from Grambling State University.

He is a member of the board of directors of Exchange Bank and Trust Company and is president of the Natchitoches Regional Medical Center Foundation Board. Maggio is a eucharistic minister at the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and a member of the Knights of Columbus. He served as a member of the City of Natchitoches’ Recreation Commission and Economic Development Commission.

Maggio is a member of professional organizations including the Council of Advancement and Support of Education, The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, SHAPE America, the Association of Louisiana Alumni Executives and Phi Delta Kappa International.

Word to the current Parish Council

The Natchitoches Parish Journal received this submission from LTC. Charles “Sandy” McNeely. The views and opinions expressed are those of Mr. McNeely and not necessarily those of the Natchitoches Parish Journal.  If you have an article for publishing consideration by the NPJ, please send it to NPJNatLa@gmail.com.

It bears repeating, the Parish Council, and ONLY the Parish Council, can decide to allow the voters to decide whether they want to tax themselves enough to pay for road maintenance by putting a proposition on the October ballot. The Parish President, Mr. Nowlin, has no say on that matter. If an increased tax proposal (sales or millage) does not get on the ballot, the parish roads will continue to worsen due to lack of funds. If the Parish Council refuses to put a tax proposal on the October ballot, I hope the individual Council members responsible are called to task by the parish voters.

Despite the current misinformation being dispensed by certain Parish Council members, there is simply NOT enough money taken in each year to resolve the current road problems. Nor can any tax revenues dedicated to other parish activities be reassigned to the road fund without going through a parish-wide vote or the Legislature in Baton Rouge. Any parish resident can review the annual budget and in particular, the detailed expenditures for road maintenance if they choose, by simply going to Mr. Nowlin’s office. Those records are available for public scrutiny, along with the history of how the previous form of government allowed the roads to deteriorate to their present condition.

Sandy McNeely

Public Meeting on South Drive – Roadway improvements for La. 1 Business


Mayor Posey and the City of Natchitoches will host a public meeting with an update to roadway improvements on La. 1 Business at the intersection of Royal Street on Monday, July 6, 2015 from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at Christ the King Lutheran Church, 305 Royal Street, Natchitoches, Louisiana. Representatives involved with the project will be present to provide updates and answer questions. This project will widen the northbound and southbound lane at Royal Street. Reconstruction of sewer/drainage lines is set to start the week of July 6th.

For more information, please call City Hall at (318) 352-2772.

Contact: Mayor Lee Posey, City of Natchitoches
Phone: (318) 352-2772
E-mail: cityhall@natchitochesla.gov

Road to Redemption?

DennisColemanThe Natchitoches Parish Journal received this submission from Dennis Coleman. The views and opinions expressed are those of Mr. Coleman and not necessarily those of the Natchitoches Parish Journal.  If you have an article for publishing consideration by the NPJ, please send it to NPJNatLa@gmail.com.

Think it was about a decade ago that I attended a funeral at Rocky  Mount …out west of Robeline. The hearse turned off La 120 onto Post Mill Road, eventually winding up at Rocky Mount. The parish road (Post Mill) was pothole after pothole. Though driving slowly and being careful the hearse driver, unfamiliar with the road, hit several potholes and one bad one in particular. It looked like the whole car ‘pancaked.’ We made it to the church and the pallbearers unloaded the hearse and carried the coffin inside the church. I remember hearing the funeral director say, ” … closed casket.”  There was concern about what the pothole may have undone and as it turned out it was a ‘closed casket’ funeral….Have those potholes been ‘patched’ since then? Of course they have, but a PATCH is a temporary measure and only  puts off what must ultimately be done. Like a worn out pair of jeans, there’s only a certain number of times they can be ‘patched’ before the patches need patches, etc. etc.. Ultimately a new pair of jeans must be bought. Some would say there are a lot of roads in Natchitoches Parish that have reached that point. It’s time to rip it up and put down new. Now we have a road full of potholes, even a parish full of potholes, and no funds to fix them with. Hopefully,  a plan which offers a way out of this place with the Third World Country roads and into the 21st Century of Natchitoches Parish will be forthcoming.

The Advisory Commission ably points out that Road District 40 millages have not changed since 1985. In other words, we have been asking our Parish road administrators and  crews to build, maintain and repair these roads with the same funding that was present in 1985. Who could do that? By comparison, the minimum wage in 1985 was $3.35 per hour.  The tax rates have remained the same while all expenditures have increased significantly.

The Advisory Commission has delivered its report. The detractors of the report can and will begin their attacks on the report; ”it didn’t allow for this” and “it didn’t provide for that.”  This is nothing new; there are those who purport to be Christian and at the same time find fault with God’s creativity.  Sadly, there are some who “serve” in positions of leadership who seem to do whatever is necessary to impede progress, instead of embracing an opportunity for progress.  For what reason would anyone oppose moving the parish forward?

In the political arena, reports, bulletins and briefings are commonplace, and they often give off more heat than light.  The Advisory Commission’s report is the rare exception. It is thorough, it is insightful and it could not be more timely.The report submitted by the Advisory Commission offers a road map out of the current quagmire, but as realistic as it is, there are no guarantees it will be acted upon. The Parish Council, of course, has the responsibility to endorse or reject any or all of the commission’s report. It is the Council and the Council alone which must either act to move Natchitoches Parish forward or do nothing and keep the parish roads in this failing state they are now in.

Will the roads of the Parish “Rise up like a Phoenix from the flames,” or will they receive a pauper’s burial in a ‘Potter’s Field’ with the service being “Closed Casket?”

Parish Solid Waste facilities will observe Independence Day.

Natchitoches Parish President Rick Nowlin announces that all Parish Solid Waste facilities will observe Independence Day, and all facilities will be closed,  including the Parish Landfill located at 4597 Highway 1 North, on Saturday, July 4th, 2015.  The Solid Waste office will be closed on Friday, July 3rd.

All Parish solid waste facilities will be open during their regular operating hours on Monday, July 6.
Citizens may contact the Natchitoches Parish Solid Waste Department at (318) 238-3704 with any questions.Parishgovseal

“Heritage, Not Hate”

NPJ - CunninghamOnce upon a time, there was a terrible war. Fathers went to war against their sons, sons against fathers, brothers against brothers, and so on. It was all centered around a deeply divisive issue, but at the same time was portrayed as being centered around something only tangentially related. I am, of course, referring to the Civil War, but what was it really about?

In a large sense, yes, the war was over the issue of slavery. However, it wasn’t a matter of the South wanting to keep black slaves in oppressive conditions forever. Rather, it was an issue of state rights versus federal rights, an argument that we are actually having once again in our Supreme Courts now (wait for my next column for that). The states that would eventually form the Confederacy had two problems. The first problem is that completely abolishing slavery would hurt their economy, as the economic driver of the south was the plantation. The second problem was that states felt it was a state issue as to whether or not to force slavery to be illegal.

I’m omitting a lot there in recapping the events leading up to the Civil War, but history is not the point of this column – it’s the censorship and removal of history from modern culture.

That’s why, in the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen the push to remove what is commonly referred to as the Confederate Flag from all visible locations in society. In Charleston, South Carolina, a young man by the name of Dylann Storm Roof walked into a predominantly black church and shot many people to death. His aim was to start a race war, and photos emerged of him with the Confederate Flag. Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina, called for the Confederate Flag to be removed from its position over the state house.

And Haley is absolutely right – the flag is a symbol of something the state is no longer a part of. It belongs, as Professor Jones would say, in a museum. However, it didn’t stop there. Calls from activist groups came to completely remove the flag from society grew. Amazon, Walmart, and Ebay, just to name a few, stopped selling anything with the Confederate Flag on it. The issue is now about how the flag is interpreted. And, to be honest, the common interpretation is about race. There are not very many people out there who would hang that flag from their front porch as anything other than a sign that black folks aren’t very welcome there. It’s a sad fact, but it is true in many, many places. Certainly, we should not fly that flag over state houses and government buildings. It is wrong to do so, because it alienates people from the government that is supposed to represent them.

But to call for its removal from all walks of life runs dangerous risk of obliterating what it really meant (“Heritage, Not Hate”) and rewriting history. If we were to do rewrite the meaning of the Civil War there, what will we rewrite next?

Joe Cunningham is a conservative commentator, Front Page Editor at RedState.com, and a teacher in south Louisiana. You can find him on Twitter at @joec_esquire.

McDonogh 35 Wins Inaugural 7v7 Football State Championship

From the Sports Desk with Adam Bosworth

Gonzales, Louisiana was the host of the 2015 Airo 7v7 State Championships sponsored by Adidas. The event was held at Spartan Stadium and was hosted by East Ascension. The two day tournament included 29 top high school football teams from Louisiana.2015-06-28 12.58.59

The event kicked off Friday, June 26th with rounds of pool play to determine who the best team was in each group. The teams played for high seeds on the championship bracket. At the end of day one, group winners were St. Paul’s A, Landry Walker, Lutcher, West St. John, St. Paul’s B, and Port Allen. But the final standings meant nothing heading into Saturday, June 28th.

On day two, teams were winning and teams were being eliminated. The final four was eventually set up and it featured top seeded West St. John vs. a surprising McDonogh 35 team, and John Ehret vs. Landry Walker. The first semifinal was shocking as ,top team fell 19-10. The Roneagles of McDonogh 35 punched their ticket to the finals. That was West St. John’s first loss of the tournament. The second semifinal was equally as good as the first, if not better. John Ehret edged high seeded Landry Walker 24-22. An unpredicted final featured two low teams with a lot of heart as John Ehret battled McDonogh 35. The Roneagles continued their Cinderella run through the tournament as they blasted the Patriots 26-4. The victory comes with a very big relief because the past few seasons have not been that great. Their coach Wayne Reese Sr. exclaimed the victory “Was a very exciting thing I witnessed. I’m very proud of those guys.”

The top four teams advance to the Regional Championships in Valdosta, Georgia on July 17th-18th. They will be playing the top teams from both Georgia and Florida.

If you have a sports story or need a sporting event covered in Natchitoches Parish – Just email Adam Bosworth 

Funeral Service for Vaughn Shirley

Vaughn ShirleyFuneral service for Vaughn Shirley will be at 10 am Monday, June 29, 2015 at Blanchard St. Denis Funeral Home of Natchitoches. Burial will follow at Calvary Baptist Church Cemetery in the Oak Grove Community of Natchitoches. The family will receive friends from 5 pm until 9 pm on Sunday, June 28, 2015 at Blanchard St. Denis Funeral Home.

Vaughn Robert “Poppy” Shirley, born on September 7, 1964, to Ronald Robert Shirley and Ethel Marie Thomas Shirley went home to be with our Lord Friday, June 26, 2015. Vaughn loved life, hunting, fishing, good music and good friends, but most of all he loved his family. Vaughn married his childhood sweetheart, Karen Leigh Brown Shirley April 9, 1983, and became father to three wonderful beautiful children, Timothy Christopher Shirley, Rachel Madelyn Shirley, and Brooke Ashleigh Shirley Cole and father-in-law to Nicholas Cole, and “Poppy” to amazing grandchildren Gavin, Anna Leigh, and Maddie. Vaughn is preceded in death by his mother Ethel, his step-mother, Katie Elizabeth Dean Shirley, his paternal grandparents, Robert William Shirley and Vera Marie Ammons Shirley, his maternal grandparents, John Wesley “Daddy Red” and “Granny” Annie Thomas as well as Clifford Chelsey and Billie Joy Dean.

Vaughn is survived by his wife of 32 years, Karen, his son Timothy, his daughters Rachel and her other half Jeff Scaife, Brooke and son-in-law Nicholas, his precious grandchildren, Gavin Lyle, Anna Leigh, Madelyn Alyce, and Mikayla Rose, his father Ronald Robert and step-mother Odene Shirley, brothers Darius Dean Shirley and wife Nicke, Richard Ryan Shirley and wife Jamie, Jonathan Tate and his wife Katherine, Benjamin Tate and wife Larah, his sisters, Virginia Richmon and husband Kerby, Brandy Williams and husband Rick, and Victoria Schleben and husband Jon. He is also survived by his in-laws, Garland and Sybil Brown, sisters- & brothers-in-law, Donna Brown, Cheryl and Jackie Guin, Robin and Leman “Boogie” Wadkins along with children by love T J Mitcham and Chase Williams and a host of aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews.

Those honored to serve as pallbearers include: Anthony Shirley, Reed Stephens, Ron Jones, Nicholas Cole, Jeff Scaife, and Greg Moran.

Same-Sex marriage licenses to be delayed in Natchitoches Parish.


According to Baton Rouge newspaper The Advocate, Natchitoches Parish Clerk of Court Louie Bernard stated “We were advised by our legal counsel through our Association that there’s a 25-day hearing process that the Supreme Court has,”   Mr. Bernard went on to say that Natchitoches Parish isn’t issuing same-sex marriage licenses at this time.


JuvenilleCAMPTI-A thirteen year old Campti juvenile has been arrested in connection with shooting a BB gun at motorists on La. Hwy 9 near Campti according to Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office.
On Sunday evening June 21st, between the hours of 10pm-11pm, Deputies assigned to the NPSO Patrol Division responded to reports from motorists traveling on La. Hwy 9 near US-71 in Campti, La., that someone had apparently shot at their vehicles shattering the passenger side door glass on a 2001 Ford F-150 pickup truck and a 2001 Honda Civic passenger car.
The reported damages to the vehicles was approximately $500.

During the initial stages of the investigation, deputies believed the damages were caused by someone shooting a BB gun at the vehicles.

Deputies interviewed the victims, photographed the vehicles, collected information for offense reports and checked the area for possible suspects but were unable to locate anyone at the time.

The investigative file was turned over to the NPSO Criminal Investigations Division for an follow-up investigation.
During the week, detectives assigned to the NPSO Criminal Investigations began speaking to residents near the crime scene.

Detectives say during those knock and talks they were able to collect valuable information from residents in the area willing to help that led to a juvenile suspect according to Chief Investigator Greg Dunn.

On Thursday June 25th, detectives interviewed the juvenile at the NPSO Criminal Investigations Division after reporting with a parent.

During the interview, detectives say the juvenile confessed to shooting at the vehicles with a BB gun.

The BB gun was collected and seized for evidence.

As a result of the investigation, detectives arrested:
13 year old Campti juvenile, booked at the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office and charged with 2-counts of Criminal Damage to Property.

The juvenile’s name which is not being released because of juvenile justice laws was released into the custody of a parent pending court appearance.

Sheriff Victor Jones Jr., expresses his thanks and appreciation to the residents of Campti that were willing to help and assist detectives in this investigation which led to an arrest. We are also pleased that no one was seriously injured or a traffic accident did not occur as a result these incidents.
Detective Darrel Winder investigated the case.

Kilcoyne named interim Dean of the College of Business and Technology

DrKMargaret Kilcoyne has agreed to serve as the interim Dean of the College of Business and Technology. With a major grant award pending in CIS, several partnerships blossoming with business entities, and a number of economic development announcements in the works, we must have a college focused on securing a leadership role for NSU and our graduates by developing synergies among our business programs, technology programs, and engineering programs. Our academic leadership will be meeting with faculty and other stakeholders to develop a profile of the desired candidate. A committee of faculty will lead the search process.

Congrats to Dr. Kilcoyne… named as interim
Dean of Bus & Technology!
Jim Henderson – twitter                     

Tennis – Northwestern State adds pair of transfers

The defending Southland Conference Tournament champion Northwestern State women’s tennis team picked up an influx of experienced talent, announcing the addition a pair of transfers Friday.TennisTransfers

Joining second-year coach Olga Bazhanova’s program are Ilijana Ivic, who comes to Northwestern State from Laredo Junior College, and Virginia Commonwealth transfer Alžbeta Veverkova.

“We are very excited for the new girls to join our team,” Bazhanova said. “They are all good students and hard-working athletes.”

Ivic was a top-15 junior player in Croatia and held a top-20 ranking in Germany before coming to Laredo. During her time in junior college, she was the No. 12 ranked player in the national junior college rankings.

Ivic, a native of Split, Croatia, graduated with a 3.6 grade-point average. She had a pair of second-place regional tournament finishes and won the consolation bracket of the national tournament.

“Ilijana played the No. 1 position at Laredo Junior College, one of the top junior college tennis programs in the country,” Bazhanova said. “She is ready to take the next step in her career and compete at a stronger Division I program. She has heavy groundstrokes and can control points from the baseline. She wants to improve and be the best she can be. She also is a very good student.”

Veverkova was part of the Atlantic-10 champion VCU program before deciding to transfer to Northwestern State following her freshman season. A native of Martin, Slovakia, Veverkova played three sports in high school, lettering in tennis, track and badminton.

She was ranked in the top three in Slovakian juniors and in the top 23 nationally in women’s tennis.

“Alžbeta joins us from a very good tennis program,” Bazhanova said. “She has strong groundstrokes and is very consistent. She is physically strong, competitive and hard working. Alžbeta is a solid student who will study pre-medicine.”

Services for James Debon Lasyone

LasyoneThe sun has set on a legend in our community of Natchitoches, Louisiana – James Lasyone passed away on Wednesday, June 25, 2015. He was 84 years old.

Services for James Debon Lasyone will be held at 2:00 pm Sunday, June 28, 2015 at Blanchard-St-Denis Funeral Home in Natchitoches, LA. Interment will follow at Memory Lawn Cemetery in Natchitoches, LA. A visitation will be held Saturday, June 27, 2015 at Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home from 6:00 – 8:00 pm.

James grew up as a sharecropper’s son in Dodson, a village in Winn Parish, Louisiana and enjoyed meat pies from street vendors when his family came to town in Natchitoches. He could never have imagined back then that he would single handedly put the famous “Lasyone’s Meat Pie” on the map worldwide. In the 1960’s, James Lasyone was running a little butcher shop in town and selling meat to the ladies that were making meat pies at home, which was the only way to get them back in the day. In the mid-1960’s he began experimenting with recipes to make his own pies and began selling some over the butcher’s counter at the store – the Live Oak Grocery. In 1967, he opened his restaurant in a small retail space near the meat market. It has over time and to this day become a southern food landmark now owned and operated by his daughters, Angela and Tina.

No food in Louisiana is more famous than the Lasyone’s Meat Pie of Natchitoches. When the Spanish settled Natchitoches, they brought with them the empanada, the forefather of the meat pie. But its transformation from humble hand-held food to a leading menu item in restaurants, catering venues and sports arenas worldwide could not have been possible without the vision of James Lasyone.

There is no other place in Natchitoches that can boast of more celebrity sightings, TV and magazine exposure, grueling bridge card games, business deals made over breakfast or lunch, family memory making at the tables of this standard blue-collar Southern diner and as the New York Times states, “….the best reason to visit Natchitoches is the meat pies – and the best ones in town can be found at Lasyone’s Meat Pie Kitchen and Restaurant.” James and his wife, JoAnn, can be credited as the original trailblazers for the tourism industry in Natchitoches. People from all over the world have stopped in to try one of their meat pies, as a result of the magazine and book articles, national and international newspapers features, radio and television highlights including Southern Living, The New Yorker, Gourmet Magazine, Calvin Trillin’s Third Helpings book, The Houston Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, papers from France, Italy and Spain and On the Road with Charles Kuralt and Good Morning America just to name a few. Starting in 1967 with a used Garland stove at a small location on Second Street in Natchitoches, James could never have imagined how his life would impact so many.

He was generous chef and his generosity extended far beyond the kitchen. James was an amazing father who’s influence on his daughters, Angela and Tina, continues today as they bring the family business to even greater success, mass producing meat pies for major clients and delivering the highly recommended fares of red beans and sausage, dirty rice, southern fried catfish, bread pudding and of course, the famous meat pie in the original restaurant started by their dad so many years ago.

James is survived by his daughter Angela, his daughter Tina Smith and her husband Dwight. He has one surviving brother, Buddy Lasyone, who resides in Beaumont, Texas. He is preceded in death by his loving wife, JoAnn, his parents Mattie Lou Worsham and J.D. Lasyone.

James has been a longtime resident of The Courtyard of Natchitoches and the family wishes to thank the special caretakers who have aided in his care: Nanette Bienveue and all her staff for the past ten plus years.

In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the NSU Foundation for Lasyone’s . This will benefit a Culinary Arts student’s education at NSU.


Home Grown Grows Green$$$

Campti Field of Dreams Hosts USDA NRCS Conservation
Field Day for Farmers, Ranchers and Value-Added Producers

Churchman FamilyCampti Field of Dreams is excited to announce its USDA NRCS Conservation Field Day, July 27th from 4:00 – 8:00 pm to promote sustainable agriculture, agri-business and agri-tourism in the Red River area.

12 year old Cameron Churchman is not new to farming. His parents, Ryder and Hope Churchman farm 1,000 acres in corn and soybean.  Cameron can operate the 200 horsepower tractor, 1000 bushel grain cart, and often loads the big truck with grain. He did not plan to start an agri business either.  He just wanted to earn enough money to purchase an Xbox.  His mom suggested that he grow some vegetables and sell them from a farm stand.  Cameron was given a small area near the road to start his vegetable garden.  He tilled the soil, hoed the grass, picked produce and sold it at the farm stand with a little help from his sister, mom and dad.  His stand consisted of a small table and his radio flyer wagon filled with squash. At the end of the summer, Cameron had earned enough money to buy his Xbox, “and then some,” he says with a big grin.  An agribusiness entrepreneur was born.  Encouraged by the response to home grown vegetables, his mom helped him expand the garden the following year and added a tent.  Now into its third year, they have quadrupled the vegetable farm to a total of 2 acres and added a permanent produce stand with a container which they plan to convert to a refrigerated unit.   Under the new Cottage Food Law (HB1270 August 1st, 2014), Hope can also sell up to $20,000 per year of a wide variety of products including candies, jams and jellies, preserves, baked goods, sauces, seasonings, spices, and honey to name a few without a license from the health department.

Last year Hope invited a group of students to tour the farm.  The tour began with each student getting a bottle of water.  They used some to plant a seed on the farm and consumed the rest while on tour.  Hope explained that the bottle was still usable.  She had the students cut off the top of the bottle, gave them soil and seeds and explained that each of them now had their own plant to nurture. Hope had gone beyond agribusiness to agritourism. Agritourism is a business venture located on a working farm, ranch, or agricultural enterprise that provides an “experience” for visitors while generating supplemental income for the owner.  Agritourism ventures feature:

  • Something to see
  • Something to do
  • Something to buy

Agritourism is growing in our state according to Dora Ann Hatch, agritourism coordinator for the LSU AgCenter. “The latest statistics compiled by the Agriculture Census, showed that agritourism in Louisiana more than doubled from 2007 to 2012,” said Hatch. Some farmers and ranchers are hesitant to bring visitors on their farm due to the increased risk and liability.  However, the state of Louisiana has enacted the Agritourism Limited Liability law which provides liability insurance to farmers.  “Many agritourism operators in Louisiana are not taking advantage of the agritourism limited liability law passed in 2008 by the Louisiana Legislature which limits the liability of an agritourism professional for injuries that occur through no fault of their own,” said Hatch.

“It is not easy to get into conventional farming,” Ryder points out, and “The uncertainty of next year is the worst thing about farming today because we tie millions of dollars up in these crops quickly. Technology assisted farming is different. Now we have combines that drive themselves and drones to monitor crops but not knowing how you are going to come out at the end of the year is stressful.” Given all of that he admits, “I don’t know of anything else I would want to do. The labor is the love.”

To attract female, minority and families with limited resources there has been an emphasis on growing “specialty-crops” such as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture) as well as serving niche markets such as certified organic fruits and vegetables and grass-fed meat and poultry. Sustainable agriculture utilizes a systems approach which fosters crop diversity and when farmers sell directly to the consumers they can generate a larger profit-margin making this a viable option for beginning farmers or ranchers with limited resources.

“Home Grown fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, dairy and value-added products provide supplemental income, create jobs and help to build our local economy,” explained Donna Isaacs, executive director of Campti Field of Dreams.  “By partnering with USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service we can help to educate farmers, ranchers and value-added producers about the financial and technical assistance available to improve productivity and grow their agribusiness. If you are interested in starting or growing an agribusiness then this is the event for you. The conservation field day will begin at the Campti Historic Museum, 211 Edenborn Street, Campti, Louisiana on July 27th at 4 pm.  After a presentation on Soil Health by Dr. Michael Lindsey, State Soil Scientist, participants will tour the farm at 681 Campti Bayou Road with State Agronomist, Chris Coreil and Area Rangeland Specialist, Chris Ebel. Dr. Lindsey will perform a rainfall simulation and discuss soil impact.  The event is FREE and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

The Churchman Farm Stand: Seasonal Hours

Oaklawn Plantation, 2888 Highway 494, Natchitoches, LA 71457

For more information about the conservation field day, visit www.camptifieldofdreams.org or contact Donna Isaacs, (318) 332-7791, donna@camptifieldofdreams.org.

For more information about USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, contact Dexter Sapp, (318) 473-7688, dexter.sapp@la.usda.gov

To learn more about the agritourism law contact Dora Ann Hatch at (318) 927-9654 x 229 or email dhatch@agcenter.lsu.edu

Conservation Field Day Flyer

Tomatoes and Pickles Honey and Sun Flowers Pickles and Preserves

Ponderings with Doug – June 26, 2015

By request:

I’m wondering why the milk is always in the back of the grocery store. It turns out the milk is often located in connection with the large storage refrigeration of that particular grocery store.  If you will look, you will notice that most milk coolers are backless. The answer is milk is really near the refrigerated storage and/or the loading dock. I was hoping for a more conspiratorial answer since I too grow weary of walking to the back of the store when all I need is milk.dougthumb

That imponderable was posited while I was standing in the line of Brookshire’s. I started thinking of other imponderables.

If a fine is a tax for doing wrong, is a tax a fine for doing well?

If all the world is a stage, where is the audience sitting?

Isn’t Disney World a people trap operated by a mouse?

If cats like mice why can’t you buy mouse flavored cat food?

Doesn’t expecting the unexpected make the unexpected become the expected?

If you fail and succeed, which have you done?

If horrific means to make horrible, does terrific mean to make terrible?

Is there another word for synonym?

Why do women wear evening gowns to nightclubs? Shouldn’t they be wearing night gowns?

Why do croutons come in airtight packages? It’s just stale bread to begin with.

If you mixed vodka with orange juice and milk of magnesia, would you get a Philips Screwdriver?

Is Atheism a non-prophet organization?

If all is not lost, where is it?

Do Roman paramedics refer to IV’s as “4’s”?

Why is it that if someone tells you that there are 1 billion stars in the universe you will believe them, but if they tell you that a wall has wet paint you will have to touch it to be sure?

Did you know that dolphins are so intelligent that within only a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand at the very edge of the pool and throw fish at them?

How do you tell when you run out of invisible ink?

If quitters never win, and winners never quit, what fool came up with, “Quit while you’re ahead?!”

How much faith does it take to be an atheist?

So what’s the speed of dark?

After eating, do amphibians need to wait an hour before getting OUT of the water?

I hope you will find many things to smile about today.

Final Road Commission Meeting – June 25, 2015

RoadCommissionThe ad-hoc committee that was appointed by parish President Rick Nowlin met this evening at 5:00 in the Court House in Natchitoches at their last scheduled meeting to present their findings on how to improve the parish roads and the means with which to implement those changes.

The meeting was called to order by committee Chairman Mr. Roger Williams who then asked for a motion to approve the minutes of the last meeting. Motion was made and seconded to approve the minutes.

Then Mr. Williams called for old business and asked Ms. Donna Isaacs to give a brief summary of the final report which is attached to this synopsis. Ms. Isaacs explained that there were a couple of things that had changed since the last meeting and that they were the deletion of two methods of raising revenue from the proposal which were the fuel tax suggestion and the wheel tax suggestion. The reasons given were that the fuel tax is administered solely by the state and that the wheel tax is not utilized in the state of Louisiana. That leaves the parish residents with two options for raising revenue which are a sales tax and an ad valorem tax. It is estimated that a 1/2 % sales tax would generate approximately 3.1 million dollars annually. The biggest advantage is that revenue generated by this option would begin coming into the road/bridge budget within 90-120 days. In regards to the ad valorem (property) tax issue Ms. Isaacs said that an in depth study of adjoining parishes showed that on average those parishes collected 15-20 mills whereas Natchitoches was around 4.7 mills. The report says that if we raise the millage to 15 in Natchitoches parish that it would generate approximately 3.2 million dollars from the parish and approximately 1.2 million dollars from the city. The added benefit is that as property values rise so would the amount generated from the tax. The disadvantage is that this option will not even begin to generate revenue for one to two years into the future whereas the roads need attention now.

There was an added proposal which would solve both of these disadvantages is the generation of a hybrid tax. This would be a combination of the 1/2 % sales tax and an ad valorem tax. The 1/2 % sales tax would be voted in with a “sunset” provision which would phase it out after five years during which time the ad valorem taxes would have been implemented and money would be coming into the road fund from it. This is the proposal which the committee will be presenting to the parish President and from him to the parish Council to present to the voters hopefully to be put on the October ballot.

Then the committee Chairman called for public comments and there were two. Mr. Russell Rachal who is running for district five Councilman commended the committee for putting together such a comprehensive package. Then I stood and basically seconded Mr. Rachals points and thanked the committee for all their hard work and dedication to this project.

The final report is attached.

As a final word I would ask that ALL parish residents please read the attached report. I believe it to be a very good approach to the problems of the parish roads and a very real approach to helping bring new business and residents into the Natchitoches area.

Thanks for listening,

Clif Hart

Final Report – June 25 2015

Natchitoches Parish School Board Burglary

Title: NPD Seeking Information In Reference To School Board Burglary

BurglaryThe Natchitoches Police Department (NPD) is seeking information in-reference to a burglary located at the Natchitoches Parish School Board, 310 Royal St., Natchitoches, LA. Apparently suspect(s) entered into the School Board sometimes between Friday, June 19 and Sunday June 21, 2015. Once inside the School Board suspect(s) took approximately twenty-five (25) laptops with an estimated value of twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000.00). The stolen laptops are of various names brands and all were described as black with the word, METHODS, written on the top of each laptop.

The Natchitoches Police Department is requesting that if anyone has information about the School Board Burglary or the whereabouts of any of the stolen laptops they’re urged to contact the Natchitoches Police Department at (318) 352-8101 or you may contact Detective William Connell of the Natchitoches Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division at (318) 238-3911. All calls shall be kept confidential.

TRUST: The Bond between the Government and the Governed

John McAlpinThe Natchitoches Parish Journal received this submission from John McAlpin.  The views and opinions expressed are those of Mr. McAlpin and not necessarily those of the Natchitoches Parish Journal.  If you have an article for publishing consideration by the NPJ, please send it to NPJNatLa@gmail.com.

Trust: The definition of the word is firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. It is also something that is not usually easy to obtain, and if it is lost, can be very hard, if not impossible to obtain again.

This is the problem facing the leaders of Natchitoches parish. I know I am not alone in my thinking, In fact I have heard from several people who share the same ideas that I am about to present to you. I can not speak for every citizen in Natchitoches Parish, nor would I ever attempt to do so, but I know these feelings are there among several citizens.

Different people have different opinions of when the problems started. Some like to point out the problems that the police jury was having. In fact there seemed to be so much of a problem that the steps were taken to change the form of government in this parish. When it was brought before the voters of this parish, 57.58% of those who voted, chose to change the form of government. Just a little more than half. (Source: http://staticresults.sos.la.gov/10222011/10222011_35.html)

There are also citizens that thought things were going smoothly and did not think that a change was needed. They point out that things have gone downhill since the new government took over. Some have even stated how they would like to go back to the police jury form of government. Either way you look at it, you will find that there is a problem with trust of how the government is being run in this Parish. The problems did not happen overnight and it will not be fixed overnight.

I, among others on the Facebook page dedicated to the roads that I moderate, would like to see this system work. Personally, I think if we change the focus to changing the form of government, we will never see any improvement in the roads!! The problems have been going on for years and that covers both forms of government.

I will give the parish credit; they are at least attempting to look into the problem. However, since it has taken so long to even start that process, our roads have crumbled to the point simple repairs are not possible. There is no denying that the parish is broke and does not have the funds to maintain them, as they should be. The ad-valorem tax (Road District 40) has been the same since the late 80s. Several times, it was brought before the voters to attempt to raise it but each time it was voted down.

People in this parish pay a lot of taxes, as the economy has yet to pick up there is less money to go around. There is what on paper seems to be a simple answer to fix the roads of Natchitoches Parish, Raise the ad-valorem tax! However, that is not as simple as it seems. To get the money required, it would involve raising the tax from the current 4.87 mills to 15 mills. That means you would be paying three times as much. There is talk about a cap of $36 for Parish residents that I have not been able to clarify as of now; I do plan to try to find out more about it. I have spoken to several parish residents and it would not matter if they only wanted to raise it one mill, they are not in favor of it, reason being, TRUST. They do not trust the government in Natchitoches to spend it wisely. And I can say I understand

As I moderate the Facebook page, I see a lot of pictures being posted, pictures of “repairs” that the parish does that makes everyone scratch their heads. Potholes that are full of water being filled with the mix they use, and the hole is only halfway filled. One load of rock being dumped in a place that needs three. We understand that the parish has limited resources, but the quality of the work we are receiving for what we do pay in seems to be lacking just a bit. There are also reports of graders just driving by homes and not even attempting to work the road. In addition, I also see reports of roads that have been graded and it was worse than it was before, to the point where citizens are questioning the ability of the operator to do the work. We all saw how the picture taken of the grader man taking a “nap” spread like wildfire on social media. Granted that instance is now a dead subject, but things of that nature are the reason the citizens of this parish question the ability of the public works department to maintain the roads. Most residents feel the parish asking them to pay more in taxes is a slap in the face to them. They simply do not feel that the money would be used wisely. It is not the fact that it is needed; it is a trust issue that they will put the money to good use.

I personally have not seen enough information myself to endorse a tax, Is it needed? Yes, But I have been burnt enough times in my life by someone telling me they are going to do something and then they do the opposite. I would like to see the parish come up with a plan of attack on the road issue, something like a master plan, once I see how they plan to address the issue, as in prioritizing roads, drainage improvement plans, etc… and I see exactly what it is going to cost me, then I will determine how I wish to vote on such a proposed tax. There is not enough information for me to decide yet. I, among others, know it is needed, but simply do not trust the parish to spend it wisely. It’s not that we do not want the roads fixed; it is simply a matter of trust.TrustWordCloud

If the Trust issue is not addressed to the voter’s satisfaction, then any tax presented to the voters will fail. It is past time to put away our differences of the past and work together for a solution. Only if we do that, will we find a way to figure out the problem we are ALL facing!!. This should not be about how things got this way; it should be about finding a solution to the problem!

I for one, hope that the trust issue will be addressed for the betterment of all the citizens of Natchitoches Parish.

John McAlpin