Sean receives Blue Bayou Water Park Tickets – Happy Birthday

20150624_081758I want to wish my sweet friend, Sean Stewart, a very Happy 10th Birthday! Sean is on the Autism spectrum, super smart, has the memory of an elephant, and on several occasions has helped me with my Mary Kay business because he has memorized the product info. Really!

I met Sean a little over a year ago and at that time knew next to nothing about Autism.  I have learned so much in the past year, the brain is an amazing organ and I’m astounded by its complexity. I also have a new appreciation of the term “spectrum.” No two people on the spectrum are alike. Sean refers to them as Snowflakes. Each one is beautiful but completely different.

One of Sean’s favorite things is to receive mail. He loves card, letters, and postcards. The ladies at the post office are always excited to see him coming. They have a special box for his hundreds of pieces of mail, yes! I said hundreds.  If you would like to participate in the Sean’s Snowflakes movement, please drop him at card at:

Sean Stewart, PO Box 359, Natchitoches, Louisiana 71458

If you have a child or family member on the spectrum, I’d love to hear from you and feature your child, their interests and challenges, here at the Natchitoches Parish Journal.  Just email me at the address shown below.

Georgia Hilton
NPJNatLa@gmail.com

Northwestern State adds JUCO All-American receiver

MafiGraphicWhether Southeastern Conference transfer Stephen Rivers or one of the five quarterbacks on campus this spring wins the Northwestern State starting job, the weapons cache got a little deeper this summer.

The Demons added receiver William Mafi II, who was selected to the All-American squad in the California Community College Football Coaches Association, of San Joaquin Delta College.

Mafi, who will have two seasons of eligibility after joining the Demons this summer, was Delta’s leading receiver as a freshman and sophomore.

The 6-foot-2 target, ranked as the No. 24 junior college receiver in the nation by Rivals.com writer Brad Hoiseth, caught 72 passes for 963 yards and six touchdowns in just nine games this past season.

“William is a very productive player, and he’ll bring needed size to the position,” said NSU coach Jay Thomas. “He’ll compete immediately for early playing time. He led all California junior colleges with eight catches per game as a sophomore.

“The best thing is that he’s a great character kid and is a really great fit for our program.”

The Stockton, California, native averaged 108 receiving yards per game and tallied four games over the 100-yard mark. Two breakout games included an 11-catch, 203-yard performance with a touchdown against Fresno City College. Mafi also recorded 169 yards and a touchdown against College of the Siskiyous.

As a freshman, Mafi collected 32 catches for 369 yards and a touchdown. The team MVP and team captain also ran track, clocking a 10.7 in the 100 meters. He leaves San Joaquin Delta with a 3.2 GPA and will major in criminal justice at NSU.

Mafi joins an NSU receiving corps that returns its top four pass catchers from this past season, but none of those returners are taller than 5-11.

The Demons coaching staff stumbled upon Mafi while recruiting the area, but NSU has had success scouring California junior colleges before.

Record-setting quarterback Zach Adkins came from Riverside City College, and receiver Bryant Mitchell (Southwestern Community College) provided Adkins a solid target. Offensive lineman Zach Schumann (Siskiyous) should also factor into the Demons’ rotation this season.

Fireworks over Cane River Friday night – June 26, 2015

Fireworks over caneriver

As part of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Weekend Celebration, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Foundation will host “Tailgating – Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Style” at the Landing Restaurant on Friday, June 26, 2015 from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. There will be fireworks over the Cane River Lake Friday night beginning at 9:15p.m.

In preparation for the fireworks show, the downtown riverbank will be closed to all vehicular traffic beginning at 6:00 a.m. on Friday, June 26, 2015.  The Church Street Bridge and Williams Avenue from Whitfield Drive to Henry Avenue will close to all traffic both pedestrian and vehicular at 8:45 p.m. The streets will remain closed until the conclusion of the fireworks show.

LOW INCOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE FUNDS FOR NATCHITOCHES PARISH

Parishgovseal Natchitoches Parish Office of Community Services (OCS) is announcing the availability of funds dedicated to assist low-income households with their energy payments in Natchitoches Parish. All applications are taken on a first come, first served basis. Appointments for applications will be given Thursday, July 2, 2015 starting at 8:15 A.M. by phone calls only.

Click Here for:

AVAILABILITY OF LOW INCOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE FUNDS FOR NATCHITOCHES PARISH

Road Closings – June 24, 2015

RoadClosureNPJAs of 7am, the following roads in Natchitoches Parish system are closed to traffic due to backwater flooding:
Powhatan Area
Hymes Road
Johnson Chute Road, between Johnson Chute Bridge and LA-485
Black/Clear/Saline Lake Areas
Mack Wall Road
Montgomery Camp Road
Oil Road 
Cross Lake
Other Areas
Tauzin Island Road ( closed from ARufus Morgan Road)
Good Hope Road, near I-49
Emmanuel Road, north of Bayou Barbue Bridge
Nid Aigie
Total Number of Flooded Roads at this time = 8
We will continue to provide updates as they become available.  For more information, please contact the Parish Highway Department at 357-2200.

NPSO Deputies and LSP arrest Natchitoches man after he allegedly fires shotgun several times

Ricky_Anthony_CulbertResidents in Cedar Grove Sub-Division near Natchitoches were alarmed Monday evening when they observed a man walking in the in the area with a shotgun and then heard several shots fired according to the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office.

On Monday afternoon June 22nd at approximately 6:52pm, Deputies assigned to the NPSO Patrol Division and Louisiana State Police responded to reports of a man walking in the Pecan Court area of Cedar Grove Sub-Division, south of Natchitoches, La. allegedly firing a shotgun.

Deputies were provided with a description of the suspect.

Deputies and LSP canvassed the area and took the suspect into custody without incident on Vienna Parkway Drive after they observed him fire an additional round into some bushes.

Deputies report there were no injuries.

Deputies arrested:

Ricky Anthony Culbert, 54 of the 100 block of Pecan Court, Natchitoches, La., was transported and booked into the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center charged with 1-count of Illegal Use of a Firearm.

Deputies report smelling a alcoholic beverage odor about Culbert’s person during his arrest.

Culbert remains in the Natchitoches Detention Center awaiting bond.

Sheriff Jones stated he is pleased the arrest ended peacefully and innocent people were not injured by the fired rounds.

Job Opening – Mosquito Sprayers

MosquitoSprayParish of Natchitoches is accepting applications for part-time temporary Mosquito Sprayers. Applications and Job Description may be picked up from the Parish of Natchitoches, Room 212 of the Natchitoches Parish Courthouse; 8:00 a.m. thru 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Parish of Natchitoches is an equal opportunity employer and a drug-free workplace. THE DEADLINE FOR RECEIPT OF APPLICATIONS IS JULY 6, 2015. All selected applicants are subject to a background check, pre-employment drug screening, and physical examination.

NPSO Deputies Attempting to Identify “Persons of Interest” Throwing Rocks


Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Deputies are attempting to identify  “persons of interest” responsible for throwing rocks off of the railroad tracks just south of the Chevron station on La. Hwy 1-South in the  South Town area according to the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Several  weeks ago, NPSO Deputies in a marked patrol unit were traveling northbound on La. Hwy 1 just south of the Chevron, when a group of individuals threw a large rock striking the patrol unit.

The unit’s in-car mobile video camera was able to capture some of the incident.

After throwing the rock, the individuals ran into the nearby sub-divison.   Deputies were unable to locate them while canvassing the area.

On Saturday evening between 9pm & 10pm, a female and her family were traveling southbound on La. Hwy 1 in the same area when someone threw a rock striking her vehicle shattering her window sending glass into her vehicle.

According to the complaint, she was so frightened she thought someone had fired a weapon at her.

Natchitoches Police Department responded to the scene.

NPSO Deputies and Natchitoches Police are investigating both incidents.

If you have any information regarding these incidents, please contact Captain Tony Moran at 357-7830,  Sgt. Shane LaCaze at 352-6432 or Asst. Chief of Investigations Reginald Turner at 357-7830.   Your information will be kept confidential.

OPINION: You ARE being taxed!

RoadDistrictTaxThe 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.

 

Just this week, I was confronted by the tax that is forced on every driver who braves the Parish roads of Natchitoches Parish.  No, I’m not talking about some millage or sales tax or any other tax that may be imposed or levied on the citizens of the Parish. What I’m talking about is a much broader tax than that. One part of the tax is that fee that every driver pays in increased repairs for front-end alignments, broken shocks or struts, broken cv joints and on and on–what some people call “Wear and Tear.”  It doesn’t matter where you live, where you vote or where you own property if you drive on these roads, YOU ARE BEING TAXED. Additionally, when that wear and tear catches up with you sooner rather than later and you decide it’s time to trade-in your car, don’t expect too sweet a deal. That car dealer will pick your car apart; it’ll seem like they deduct for every pothole that you did not miss. And your road-worn car won’t bring much…you pay that TAX again.

I’ll agree that, due to the recent heavy rains, the roads have taken a beating, but the roads were just as bad 30 or more years ago. Thirty years, that’s a long time. Well, since then some of my friends and family have voted against every proposed road tax that has been placed on the ballot and voted them down   A couple of them even brag about it. They like to bitch about the roads, bitch about the road workers, bitch about the road supervisor, bitch about the engineer, bitch about the old ‘Police Jury’ and bitch about the Home Rule Charter. They really just like to bitch. They have the mistaken idea that by finding fault with everything that is now or has ever been a part of the Parish road system will, somehow, fix it. Can anyone name a single endeavor where that has ever happened?

These old roads are like old blue jeans that have run out of places to be patched. When you start ‘patching the patches’ it’s time get rid of the old and get some new. But, as some shyster once said, if you like your old worn out road, you can keep it.  You don’t have to do anything, and that will only mean that the taxes will remain right where they are. You’ll still pay the same to the tax collector. The only question is how much will you be paying to auto repairman.

Dennis Coleman

City Council Meeting – June 22, 2015

City Council June 22, 2015

City Council June 22, 2015

The Natchitoches City Council opened their meeting with prayer and the pledge. All were in attendance with the exception of Larry Payne.

Mr. Stamey presented an ordinance  allowing the Mayor to award the bid for the 2015 City Street Project to the lowest bidder, T.L. Construction at $1,068,119.60. The ordinance passed.

Mr. Nielson proposed authorizing the Mayor to enter into an MOU with The Natchitoches Community Alliance Foundation. The ordinance passed.
Ms. Morrow presented an ordinance authorizing  an agreement to remove junked or wrecked automobiles from the City of Natchitoches. No local businesses could be found that would agree to remove the vehicles so the search was extended to neighboring cities.
Mr. Mims proposed to convey a surplus inoperable fire truck to the Town of Campti. Passed
A resolution authorizing the Mayor to execute a change order to complete the renovations of the city pool at a total cost of $232,251.80. Mayor Posey said he appreciates the Council’s support in renovating the pool. Mr. Stamey said, “It’s in great condition.” Passed
The last resolution was to authorize the Mayor to bid for the Riverbank ADA access ramp project. Passed
City offices will be closed Friday, July 3rd.
Ms. Morrow added that she had observed and been told of children playing in the streets because basketbball goals were located near there. She cautioned all members to patrol their district and alert police for the safety of the children.
The next City Council Meeting will be July 13, 2015.

CTCYM Clears Land for Outdoor Classroom

CTCYM Group PicCampti Field of Dreams hosted 3 teams from the United Methodist Church’s Central Texas Conference Youth in Mission (CTCYM). On Friday, June 19th, 2015, approximately 30 teens and their adult chaperones gathered at the Campti Historic Museum to labor for the Lord. The mission at hand was to assist with clearing a wooded area to serve as an Outdoor Classroom but it began with a tour of the museum and the flooded Campti Community Garden.

A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Campti Field of Dreams (DREAMS) is dedicated to improving quality of life in underserved communities. They do this by developing and implementing programs in four areas: cultural heritage, green rehabilitation, sustainable entrepreneurship and local food production. It is the local food production initiative which brought CTCYM to their site. For the past two years DREAMS has operated both the Jackson Square and Campti Community Gardens and last year they added a marketplace to each site with the sole intention of making affordable fresh fruits and vegetables accessible in low-income neighborhoods. Due to the heavy rains and subsequent flooding, neither garden is operational so the help to get the 25-acre Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Farm (SAgFarm) going was greatly appreciated. It is on high ground in Campti and they hope to get a late summer/early fall crop in.

“There are no coincidences, only divine providence” said DREAMS executive director, Donna Isaacs. “I am not a regular Walmart shopper, but it was a brief encounter there that I learned about these missionaries coming to Natchitoches.” After a few calls she was able to get in touch with the program coordinator and get on their schedule. Given a choice between working in the community garden in Natchitoches and clearing land in Campti, she was surprised they were interested in taking on the more arduous task. Having had the pleasure of meeting the students and learning more about the program she understands the depth of their commitment to service. Each participant had to pay $100 and then fundraise an additional $250 for the privilege of coming on this trip. They prepared for a year to come and serve. They worked willingly and cheerfully, taking on the mammoth task and when they were done, the SAgFarm had an outdoor classroom. To her amazement, even though they were hot and sweaty, several of the teens came up to her and thanked her for the opportunity to be of service.

“Words cannot express our appreciation as this area will serve as a focal point on the farm and facilitate formal classes and informal discussions on anything from growing your own healthy food to starting an agri-business,” said Ms. Isaacs. DREAMS also works with ex-offenders, mentoring them through the transition period needed to become productive citizens once again. She points out that the program is designed on the systems approach that God has given us. There is no waste in nature. Just as the dung beetle can bury 250 times its weight in dung in one night, we can help those who society has marginalized by teaching them how to produce organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed meats and value-added products, for-profit, thereby reintegrating them into society. A fellow volunteer recently reminded her that, “God opens doors that no man can close.” She counts this as one of those doors and is glad that He has found her worthy of this mission.

For more information on Campti Field of Dreams or to get involved, you may visit their website: http://www.camptifieldofdreams.org or call 318-332-7791.

A big Thank You to the First United Methodist Church of Natchitoches for hosting this great group of youth in mission.

J. Q. Collectif

Land Clearing 5 Land Clearing 4 CTCYM 3 Teams Unloading at SAgFarm

Celebrate the life of John D. Howell

3200784_mA service to celebrate the life of John Howell will be 2 pm Sunday, June 21, 2015 at the First Baptist Church of Natchitoches with Bro. Tommy Rush officiating. Interment will follow at Coldwater Cemetery, Hagewood, LA. The family will receive friends from 5 pm until 8 pm on Saturday June 20, 2015 at First Baptist Church of Natchitoches.

John, 44 years of age, passed away Thursday, June 18, 2015. He was born October 22, 1970 in Houston, Texas to Don and Regina Howell. He was a 1988 graduate of St. Mary’s Catholic School. He played basketball for St. Mary’s and earned an invitation to play in the Louisiana High School All-Star game. He earned a scholarship to play basketball for Panola Junior College. He returned and earned a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern State University. Since 2000 he owned John Howell Allstate agency. He was very active with The First Baptist Church of Natchitoches, serving as an ordained Deacon, and was an instrumental part of the Upward Basketball Program. He served as a basketball coach for the St. Mary’s Varsity boys basketball team in 2013-14. He was very active in his son’s lives, coaching Dixie youth, travel baseball, and Bossier Parks and Recreation basketball league. His lively spirit and towering presence will be sorely missed.

“A good name is more desirable than great wealth. Respect is better than silver or gold.” Proverbs 22:1 When you hear the name John Howell you think of a man who soared above the rest. His witty humor, his gentle smile, and the love and admiration he had for Amy and his boys was beautiful to watch. He left a lasting impression on our hearts and on our community. He left his good name and to Amy and his boys that is the most amazing gift. In keeping with John’s loving and generous spirit, it was his decision to donate life so that others may live.

He is survived by his wife of 20 years, Amy White Howell; his sons, John Aaron Howell and Thomas Jackson Howell; father, Hugh Don Howell; and mother-in-law, Linda White and an extended family that loved him very much.

He was preceded in death by his mother, Regina Howell; his grandparents, Elmore and Gloria Howell and Regis and Ruth Schmerheim; and father-in-law, Dr. Eddie White.

Those honored to serve as pallbearers include: Tommy Mathis, Brian Shelton, Warren Massia, Eric Gilmore, Boyd White, John Lohrengel, Elliott Guidroz, and Dakota Rivers.

In lieu of flowers donations in John’s name may be made to First Baptist Church of Natchitoches and/or the St. Mary’s Athletic Department.

 

Jessica Choate McGrath and her family are glad to be home.

McGrath_headshot After 10 years, six moves, two children and a mountain of memories, McGrath has returned to the Natchitoches community as director of the Natchitoches Parish Library as of June 1.

“So much can happen in ten years and yet, the yearning to come home remains strong,” McGrath said after finishing up her first two weeks at the library. “I know that this opportunity is one that my husband and I could not have orchestrated if we had tried.”

During her senior year at Mansfield High School, where she graduated as valedictorian, McGrath, who earned her degree in education in 2005, decided to follow in her parents’ footsteps and attend NSU. Her mother, Jerrie Ammons Choate (1974), was a part of the first women’s basketball team, while her father, Dennis Choate (1975) is a 1990 inductee into the Graduate “N” Club Hall of Fame for his time spent pitching for the Demon baseball team. Her brother Denney Choate (2009) and sister-in-law Cary Bruno Choate (2009, 2012) were also a part of Demon athletics. While her side of the family covers NSU sports, her husband Mike McGrath (2004) and sister-in-law Mandy McGrath (2010) were both members of the Spirit of Northwestern Demon Marching band.

“NSU is our family’s school, no doubt. My entire immediate family and a large portion of my extended family are all Demons,” she said.  “I think the Demon pride in my family began with my paternal grandmother and her days spent working in the Iberville cafeteria. Purple and orange run deep.”

So deep, that in 2011 the family established an endowed scholarship at NSU. The Jerrie and Dennis Choate Endowed Scholarship is a two-year award that benefits a DeSoto Parish student pursuing a degree in education.

McGrath’s greatest memories during her time at Northwestern State come from her involvement with the Baptist Collegiate Ministry. She jumped in with both feet her first semester and immediately auditioned for Inner Peace, the BCM’s singing group that raised money for summer missions. She was soon fully involved in all that the BCM had to offer NSU students: Bible studies, intramural sports, praise band, mission trips and lifelong friends. BCM is also where she met her husband of 10 years, Mike McGrath.

“It’s funny, I can look back and see how my time spent at the BCM shaped my future,” she said. “BCM Directors Bill and Phyllis Collins made such an impact on my family. Bro. Bill married us, he led Mike to his first ministry position, and they have encouraged and supported us all along the way.”

McGrath was also a member of Northwestern’s honor society, Phi Kappa Phi, and graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in elementary education. After graduating, she and her husband moved to Fort Worth, Texas, for him to complete his seminary degree. She was unable to find a teaching position, so decided grad school was the only option. McGrath admits that being a librarian was something she just fell into.

“I researched numerous graduate degree programs and landed on library science.”

She began her library career at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, while working on her M.L.S. at Texas Women’s University. After completing her degree, she and her husband moved to Arkansas where she worked as the Young Adult Librarian and eventually the Head of Adult Services at the Saline County Library. After their oldest daughter was born, the McGraths had the opportunity to move to Louisiana where Jessica was able to continue working with the public at both the DeSoto Parish and Red River Parish libraries. Their return to Arkansas was prompted by her husband’s desire to begin work as a hospital chaplain. Jessica joined the State Library staff in Arkansas as a reference librarian but quickly moved to the newly created outreach position. Although she enjoyed working at the State Library, her heart was in the public library. When the Director’s position opened up in Natchitoches, it was the chance of a lifetime.

The McGraths, along with their two daughters Addison and Norah, are glad to call Natchitoches home.

“Natchitoches provides the slower pace in life that our family enjoys,” she said. “Northwestern adds the cultural flair that bigger cities offer. It’s the best of both worlds.”

Press Release

Ponderings with Doug – June 19, 2015

dougthumb                This article is way past the deadline. Honestly, I don’t know if I’m tired, uninspired or simply lazy. I have been gazing at this blank screen since Monday. Nothing! No inspiration has flowed my way. I have looked everywhere for a muse to lead me. “Looked everywhere” is what I claim when I can’t find something that I have misplaced. In truth, none of us look everywhere.

How do you look at life, through which viewer?

Some folks look at life microscopically. Their focus is narrow. Most of us were introduced to the microscope in a High School biology class. Do you remember looking into that microscope how something small loomed so large, how something benign looked sinister? In my case, I went through High School looking at the same blasted air bubble. I never could prepare slides! In the microscopic world, that which is small appears large.

You see the microscope people all of the time. Their life is boiled down to what is in their hand. Their world is held in the palm of their hand and through that device they are connected to other like-minded microscope people. While our smart devices open up the world to us, they have limited our abilities to have real interactions and conversations. I am suspicious of those who claim to have authentic cyber relationships. There is too much that you can’t experience through a device. You can’t experience inflection, tone, or body language. Some of these microscopic persons are successful, savvy, and cutting edge, yet their whole life experience is reduced to the size of a smart device. Even the device shrinks as some are enthralled by one of the apps on the device. Some folks are held captive by Facebook. I have actually comforted those who were upset that their lives were not as fairy tale happy as their Facebook friends. I wonder if people on Facebook exaggerate. Do you think they might?

There are other microscopic vision people whose lives are controlled as very small things loom large for them. Their lives are measured by the opening of a bottle of booze, the end of a needle, a pill or any other addiction that holds sway over their daily joy. Microscopic vision happens as something very small looms large over a person’s view and vision of life.

You have also noticed periscope people. These people are floating along under the surface of life. You know they are there because you have experienced their periscope in your life. Think about the people in your life who “don’t get it.” Maybe in your office there is a terrorist. The person who has no regard for the feelings of others yet is hurt when it is pointed out that their behavior is hurtful to others. Periscope people often have foot in mouth disease leaving folks reeling from their insensitivity. I guarantee that family member you don’t want showing up for a holiday event is a periscope person.

Periscope people are often afraid. They will look into another way of being or living, but they lack the courage of conviction to make changes. They don’t follow their calling or refuse to take a chance. They are so busy counting the cost that life passes them by. They see the whole big glorious ocean of life around them, but they won’t surface and leave the safety of their existential submarine.

On my desk I have a kaleidoscope. They are fun to look through. The colors are beautiful and always changing. The colors are influenced by the quality and quantity of light entering the kaleidoscope. The possibilities of what one will see are infinite. In truth, what one sees through a kaleidoscope is not real. I’m going to suggest the utopians among us look through kaleidoscopes. They believe that some entity is going to right wrongs and bring justice to an unjust world. Kaleidoscope vision leads to the belief that we are one educational program, one regulation, one legislative or one world view away from utopia.

Most of us look through life with all three of these metaphorical ontological viewing devices. I will confess my viewing problems if you will confess yours.

Jesus said, “That is why I use these parables, For they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.”

Can you see what He was saying?

John Howell – Dead at 44. St. Mary’s lost a great supporter today and Natchitoches lost a wonderful person.

11218091_762171570568743_526344166658342195_oJohn Howell, SM alum and parent to current students Thomas and Aaron, passed away very suddenly this afternoon. He was 44 years of age.

John was a basketball player while in high school at St. Mary’s and generously donated his time to help coach the varsity boys’ team in the recent past. His lively spirit and towering presence will be sorely missed.

Please pray for this family – wife Amy and boys, and John’s dad Donald Howell.

Out of respect for this family, and for Coach John, the girls’ basketball Team Camp that was scheduled for tomorrow has been cancelled, as has the boy’s basketball participation in the NSU Camp this weekend.

St. Mary’s continues to be a community that rallies support, especially for one of its own. Again, please ask God’s Peace and understanding for his family, and for all those friends and family that will miss John.

It’s not the Brady Bunch – Twelve Arrested, 3 on the Run.

NPSO - 12A two-month investigation by Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Deputies concluded this week into a series of vacant residential burglaries in west Natchitoches Parish has to the arrests of twelve people and three are still on the run according to Natchitoches Parish Sheriff Victor Jones Jr.

The investigation began back on March 24th-April 25th, 2015 when the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office received several reports of vacant residential burglaries on Everett Rawls Road and Buster Lewis Road near Marthaville, La., Robert Rawls Loop near Robeline, La., and in the 500 block of La. Hwy 3191 near Natchitoches, La.

Deputies assigned to the NPSO Patrol Division responded to each burglary, in which they spoke with a complainant, processed the crime scene, collected physical evidence, photographed the scene, and completed offense reports.

NPSO Detectives also responded to assist patrol deputies in most of the reported burglaries.

Nine burglaries occurred in Natchitoches Parish.

Items reported stolen were televisions, furniture, porcelain items, a safe containing approximately $2500 dollars in pennies, buffalo nickels, silver dollars circa 1800, Masonic gold pin, oxygen-acetylene gauges and hoses, skeet thrower, tools, Marlin .22 caliber rifle, Remington 12-gauge shotgun, Winchester 12-gauge shotgun, handguns, air compressors, Murray push lawn mower, Dell computer, HP computer monitor, Elgin male and female watch, Yahama guitar, clocks, Xbox, rocking chair, white desk, pots, CD and cassette changers, lamps, power outlets, cases of water and paper towels all valued over $50,000.00 according to Chief of Investigations Greg Dunn.

NPSO Detectives during that time also learned of other burglaries in Sabine Parish on Cedar Grove, Riley Moore and Big N Ranch Roads.

The cases were forwarded to the NPSO Criminal Investigations Division for follow-up investigations.

During the investigation, detectives began receiving information that led them to several persons of interest.

As the investigation progressed, NPSO Detectives began interviewing persons of interest executing fourteen search warrants in Natchitoches Parish and five consensual searches in Sabine Parish which led to the recovery of stolen merchandise.

Detectives say evidence collected during the execution of the search warrants kept them moving to other target locations in Natchitoches and Sabine Parishes.

Some of the stolen merchandise had been sold in the Natchitoches and Bossier City areas.

As a result of the investigation, detectives established sufficient evidence and probable cause to obtain criminal arrest warrants signed by a Tenth Judicial District Court Judge on fifteen suspects involved in the burglaries.

Detectives have arrested:

*Jeremy Wade Graves, 30, of the 100 block of Sherwood Road, Converse, La., booked into the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center charged with 7-counts of Simple Burglary of Inhabited Dwelling and 1-count of Accessory after the Fact.

*Tiffany Dianne Jackson, 35, of the 1300 block of Robert Rawls Loop, Robeline, La., booked into the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center charged with 2-counts of Simple Burglary and 1-count of Accessory after the Fact.

*Eric Wayne McPherson, 35, 100 block of Robert Rawls Loop, Robeline, La., booked into the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center charged with 1-count of Simple Burglary of an Inhabited Dwelling, 4-counts of Illegal Possession of Stolen Things, and 3-counts of Accessory after the Fact.

*Tasha Evon Stewart, 31, of the 200 block of Robeline-Provencal Road, Provencal, La., booked into the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center charged with 1-count of Principal to Simple Burglary of an Inhabited Dwelling, 1-count of Accessory after the Fact.

*Frederick Scotty Perleburg, 34, of the 4300 block of North Blvd., Provencal, La., booked into the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center charged with 1-count of Simple Burglary of an Inhabited Dwelling and 1-count of Accessory after the Fact.

*Calvin Dewayne Obrien, 35, of the 9100 block of La. Hwy 120, Robeline, La., booked into the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center charged with 1-count of Simple Burglary of an Inhabited Dwelling and 1-count of Accessory after the Fact.

*Kimberly Danielle Oliver, 26, of the 400 block of La. Hwy 3191, Natchitoches, La., booked into the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center charged with 1-count of Simple Burglary an Inhabited Dwelling.

*Michael Joseph “Bo” Orsborn, 21, of the 300 block of Franklin Lane, Natchitoches, La., booked into the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center charged with 1-count of Simple Burglary of an Inhabited Dwelling.

*Bobby Ray Bufkin, 33 of the 400 block of Shamrock Loop, Robeline, La., booked into the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center charged with 4-counts of Accessory after the Fact to Simple Burglary of an Inhabited Dwelling.

*Jonnie Melissa Taylor, 27, of the 9100 block of La. Hwy 120, Robeline, La. currently being held in the Sabine Parish Detention on Natchitoches Parish charges of 7-counts of Simple Burglary of an Inhabited Dwelling.

*Troy Jackson, 60, of the 1300 block of Robert Rawls Loop, Robeline, La. issued a citation for Letting a Disorderly Place by allowing stolen items into his home and allowing others to conspire to commit burglaries in Natchitoches Parish.

* Sharon Ann Taylor, 51 of 9100 block of La. Hwy 120, Robeline, La. issued a citation for Letting a Disorderly Place by allowing stolen items into her home and allowing others to conspire to commit burglaries in Natchitoches Parish.

Deputies are currently looking for the following suspects still on the run:

*Sharon Nicole Taylor, 26, Hgt/506, Wgt/140, Hair/Bro, Eyes/Blue, of the 400 block of John Banks Road, Robeline, La., wanted for 1-count of Accessory after the Fact to Simple Burglary of an Inhabited Dwelling.

*Bronson Dewayne Smith, 36, Hgt/600, Wgt/186, Hair/Brown, Eyes/Brown, of the 102 Many Street, Robeline, La., wanted for 1-count of Accessory after the Fact to Simple Burglary of an Inhabited Dwelling.

*Brandi Stewart, aka/Brandi Mitchell, 35, Hgt/506, Wgt/110, Hair/Blonde, Eyes/Green, of 102 Many Street, Robeline, La. wanted for 2-counts of Simple Burglary of an Inhabited Dwelling.

Bronson Smith and Brandi Smith may be traveling in blue 1999 Chevrolet Astro van. They have ties to Marthaville and Kisatchie areas of Natchitoches Parish.

Tiffany Jackson and Calvin Obrien have been released on bond.

Most of the stolen items have been recovered.

Detectives say during the investigation they learned the suspects targeted vacant homes. They would pull up to a residence and blow the vehicle horn. If no one answered they would go to the rear door and gain entry. If they thought someone was near they acted as if their vehicle was disabled and needed assistance.

Lead Detective Jonatahn Byles was assisted by other detectives, NPSO High Tech Crime Unit detectives, NPSO Patrol Deputies and Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office.

The investigation is ongoing in Sabine Parish.

Detectives also determined that four other vacant homes in Natchitoches Parish were burglarized being the Dixie Berry residence located in the 100 block of Buster Lewis Road, Marthaville, La., a building owned by Jerry Baxter of Haughton, La. on Buster Lewis Road, Frank Cypers residence at 9045 Hwy 120, Robeline, La. and a brick home on Preston Hayes Road near Marthaville but have been unable to make contact with an keyholder.

Sheriff Victor Jones commended Detective Byles for his dedication and hard work on this case which led to several arrests. Detective Byles has cleared several major criminal cases in the past year in Natchitoches Parish. We are proud to have him as a part of our team.

Sheriff Jones also reminds citizens to conduct periodic checks of family members vacant homes to make sure they have not been tampered with or burglarized.

Contact the NPSO and we will conduct patrol checks of these vacant homes.

Press Release: NPSO
06-18-15

ADVISORY COMMISSION ON PARISH ROADS SCHEDULES MEETING

imagesG69IN74DThe ad hoc Advisory Commission on Parish Roads will hold a meeting on Thursday, June 25, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. The meeting will be held in Room 211 on the 2nd floor of the Parish Courthouse, located at 200 Church St., Natchitoches. The meeting is open to the public.

Remember, you are entitled to receive a copy of the Agenda for all Parish Council Public Meetings!   To have the agenda emailed to you, please send your request to the Clerk of the Council:   SEND EMAIL NOW.  

Make sure you have the agenda BEFORE any meeting.

City of Natchitoches to Enforce Fines for Illegal Dumping and Litter

Items Not Disposed of Properly at Recycling CenterThe City of Natchitoches is reminding residents to dispose of trash, household items, and recycling correctly. The illegal dumping of mattresses, refrigerators, household appliances, and litter in general is strictly prohibited and may result in fines. Per City Ordinance Section 10-78:

“No person, firm, or corporation shall intentionally dump, leave or deposit any glass or metallic objects, trash, refuse, or garbage on any property without permission of the owner of such property, or on any highway, street, alley, park, or other public property, or any lands adjacent thereto. Once it is established that dumped, left or deposited litter was possessed by a particular person, firm or corporation immediately before the act of dumping, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the possessor committed the act of dumping, leaving or depositing.”

“We have seen an increase in illegal dumping of mattresses and appliances along roads such as Blanchard and Lake Street,” stated Edd Lee, City of Natchitoches Chief of Staff. “This will not be tolerated and the persons found to be dumping illegally will be held accountable. Collecting illegally dumped furniture and appliances takes the time of our Public Works employees who could be using that time to work on other projects.”

All garbage should be disposed of properly by placing in the green trash bins provided while large, bulky items such as mattresses, furniture and appliances should be left curbside for pick up by Progressive Waste Solutions. No garbage of any type should be dumped alongside roads, highways or vacant lots.

Persons found to be in violation of this ordinance shall be fined up to $300 or be ordered to pick up trash for up to 40 hours for first offense; fined up to $400 or ordered to pick up trash for up to 200 hours or both for second offenses; and fined up to $500 or ordered to pick up trash for up to 200 hours or both for third offenses.

In addition, the City of Natchitoches is reminding residents that the Recycling Center located on Mill Street is to be used for recyclable materials only. Paper, plastic and aluminum items such as newspaper, corrugated boxes, cardboard, magazines, mail, office paper, telephone books, shopping catalogues, aluminum cans, steel cans, plastic drink bottles, plastic milk jugs and detergent bottles. All recyclables should be placed in the recycling bins available.

Garbage and household items are strictly prohibited and are not to be deposited at the Recycling Center. This includes items such as food waste, yard waste, glass bottles, furniture, appliances, tires, toys, automobile parts, garden hoses, paint buckets, batteries, construction materials, aerosol spray cans, wood, rocks, brick or dirt.

The City of Natchitoches appreciates the public’s cooperation and attention to this matter.  For further information or questions, please contact City Hall at (318) 352-2772.

OPINION: Our Representative Republic At Work….. or Not

ClifHartI was recently excited to have an article published in Natchitoches Parish Journal about the continually declining state of the roads in Natchitoches Parish and have received many wonderful replies to it. Thanks to all of you for your kind words of encouragement.

In that article and one afterwards, I mentioned the importance of the public attending the Parish Council meetings and giving their input so that the Council would know where the public stands on issues. Since they are employees of yours, they need to know how you think they are doing as well as what they should be doing better.

I have personally attended several now and it’s slowly dawning on me how business is being done in this parish. Some of you will remember the comments I made concerning the old Police Jury System versus the new Home Rule Charter and how I thought the HRC was the better way to go for a variety of reasons.

At one meeting I attended, the floor was opened to public discussion and there were several citizens who got up to speak and to voice their opinions. It was wonderful to get a variety of viewpoints as well as seeing how the Council members reacted to the citizens speaking out. At a couple of others I attended, there was very little, if any, public input at all. I dislike things political but realize that in today’s day and time it is now a necessity to become knowledgeable about what the Parish Council is doing.

This past Monday night, I attended the regular session of the Parish Council and came away with some rude awakenings. As did most others, I walked in and picked up a copy of the Agenda and some other handouts and took a seat. I glanced over the Agenda and other handouts and then the meeting started. The meeting was called to order, we had the prayer before opening (which I personally appreciate), then the pledge of allegiance. Then the Chairman, Mr. John Salter, called for public comments (none were offered at this time) and the meeting proceeded to take place with the discussions of the various topics on the Agenda. Myself and several others in the audience were all set to ask questions but the floor was never opened to public comments again. I said to myself—Self?? Something’s not right here. More agenda items were discussed and again myself and others were waiting to have questions answered but the floor was never opened up to public discussion again. This goes on for all agenda items and the next thing I know is that they are calling for an executive session and we are all being asked to leave the room. Several of us went downstairs and sat out on the steps wondering aloud if the meeting was going to be reopened and the public allowed to speak when we noticed others getting in their cars and leaving. I had seen several quietly get up and leave as the meeting progressed and the public wasn’t allowed to say anything and wondered why? Those of us out front finally left in disgust. On my way home I was wondering out loud as I was driving “isn’t that meeting considered to be a “public meeting” and isn’t it covered under the Louisiana Open Meetings laws???

When I got home I immediately pulled up a copy of the Louisiana Open Meetings Law (available on the State website) and started reading. Yes indeed, the Parish Council meeting was subject to the Open Meetings Laws. I was now thoroughly confused as to why public comments weren’t allowed. So I read further and found out that public discussions are required to be asked for but the law doesn’t stipulate at what point in the meeting the public comments are allowed. Ever have one of those “Eureka” moments where the light bulb comes on and it all becomes crystal clear??? Well, this ol’ country boy had his right then and there. With my copy of the agenda in hand I looked and indeed there it was. Right at the beginning of the agenda. “Public discussion”. First rattle out of the box. My mind asked my heart the question “How in the world are we supposed to comment on something when the item hasn’t even been proposed yet??” We haven’t even heard what the item is about much less been allowed to form an opinion and ask questions. I had been hearing from friends and relatives about how the old Police Jury did just about anything and everything they wanted and just bullied their way through meetings. Now I had the answer as to how. By only allowing public comments at the beginning of the meetings they filled the requirements of the Open Meetings Law but effectively strangled public discussion of the items on the agenda and basically ramrodded things down the public’s collective throats. No wonder people got tired of even trying or attending meetings. They had no input into what the Police Jury did so they just got disgusted as I was and quit even trying. The results speak for themselves each time I leave my driveway and you leave yours.

I wondered also why the Parish President didn’t step in and try to “do” something. Well, in my researching the HRC form of government the president isn’t a voting member and therefore is subject to the same rules you and I are. The meeting belongs to the Council members and since three of the five are old Police Jury members it seems as if the meetings are reverting back to business as usual. It goes without saying that it appears as if the Council members do not want any input from the public. Well, I’m sorry but you are on our payroll and if you don’t want to answer questions from the public then you don’t deserve to work for the public. You get your paycheck from every person in the parish (and I personally am tired of hearing at every meeting how small you think they are) and every person in the parish deserves to have their questions answered by you so that come election time they are aware of where you stand on important issues.

Which brings up another important issue (I think). At the last meeting in May there was an Assistant District Attorney there and it wound up to be an important thing. One of the Council persons started ranting and raving about a flyer that went out to the public that had his name in it and also had some comments about the old PPJ form of government. That particular Council person was asking everyone present if they had written the flyer and was wanting to sue someone because of the information contained in it about him personally. There was even a proposition proposed that the Council sue whoever wrote the flyer to which the ADA told the Council person that everything in the flyer was public information and advised him not to pursue the lawsuit. Needless to say that motion was retracted but one could tell the Council person was still hot under the collar. If the ADA hadn’t been there and lent their advice things might have gone differently and the Council may well have started their way down a rough road (similar to our Parish roads) that may well have ended up costing the taxpayers of the Parish some big bucks for a frivolous lawsuit. I’m not sure if it’s a requirement that a representative from the District Attorney’s office be at the meetings but I would strongly urge the District Attorney to have someone attend all of them just to help keep the Parish out of trouble.

I’ve said all of that to finally say this. If you truly want to know what goes on in our Parish, please try to attend the monthly Council meetings. Meet your Councilman in person and by your voice and questions let them know how you feel about the issues brought up. Yes, I was disgusted (that’s an understatement. I was livid.) but it hasn’t changed how I feel about attending the meetings. If anything, it has enforced in my mind the importance of everyone who possibly can to be there

Thank you for listening,

Clif Hart

Louisiana Attorney General Open Meeting Law Link

The Natchitoches Parish Journal received this submission from Clif Hart. The views and opinions expressed are those of Mr. Hart 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.