The Emptiness in Our Culture

Joe Cunningham, III

Joe Cunningham, III

Secularism is a fascinating study. You watch devout secularists worship at the altar of man and, after they are victorious in their pursuits, they still claim to feel empty. They need more.

This happened after the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage. Several news outlets interviewed gay rights activists who were happy about the ruling, but didn’t quite know how to handle being “mainstream” now. They had nothing left to fight for. They are no longer counter-culture.

In Chattanooga, Tennessee, a young man who was by all accounts a normal guy picked up a deadly weapon and killed several Marines. His purpose, given all the information that’s coming out, is pretty clear: He was doing it in the name of militant Islam. He wanted something more than his amateur UFC competitions and earthly life.

Both of these examples have something in common – this devotion to secularism leaves one unfulfilled. The gay rights activist struggles to find something else to fight for. The militant Islamist finds himself craving something more fulfilling than what is here on Earth and turns to a religion. Because we have such a nationalized hostility toward Christianity, those looking for something else turn to other religions.

Hence the flight from the U.S. to the Middle East by Westerners. In the cultural void, they find something worth achieving. Something that is beyond here. They see a movement, filled with motivated warriors, who fight for something that is beyond here and beyond themselves. They see a chance to completely remake themselves into something better – and they take it.

That the culture is outward hostile to Christianity is not the whole problem, however. Christianity is simply not fighting back. Membership at church is dwindling across the board. As Christians, we have to do better about fighting back. There are many ways to do it, but it doesn’t start with overseas mission trips. It starts here, at home.

This is not so much a religious call to arms as it is a social and cultural one, but our morals as a nation have largely been dictated by Christian morality. Every time one of those morals is eradicated, the culture loses its way, going further and further into some cataclysmic void. We lose brothers, fathers, sisters, mothers, and more to other cultures that promise something we apparently no longer can. It’s entirely preventable, but it starts with our churches, and it starts in our backyard.

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


H6PL_R_Nowlin_Pic150X150Natchitoches Parish President Rick Nowlin has declared a State of Emergency due to the failure of the underground electric feeder circuit that serves the courthouse, old courthouse and the Live Oak Building on Sunday, July 19, 2015.

The declaration was issued because the loss of power is deemed a critical situation for the vital services provided by agencies located within these Parish facilities. They include, but are not limited to, the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office, the 911 Communications Center, the Coroner’s Office, the 10th Judicial District Court and the Clerk of Court.

Electrical service was restored using a temporary overhead circuit installed by the City of Natchitoches Utility Department. Mr. Nowlin expressed his appreciation to the City for its assistance in getting the temporary service installed. Steps are being taken to construct a new underground feeder circuit. Thereafter, the temporary service will be removed.

Rick Nowlin

Parish President

NPD’s Crime Suppression Unit (CSU) Make Arrest in Gun Theft Case

Leandrew EvansOn July 20, 2015 the owner of Jeff’s Guns, Jeff Guilliams, 1580 Texas St. contacted the Natchitoches Police Department in reference to a gun theft. Mr. Guilliams informed the responding officers that two black male subjects along with a black female entered his business and he added that store personnel were distracted by one of the male subjects and the female while the other male reached behind the counter and took two pistols.

Members of the Natchitoches Police Department’s, Criminal Suppression Unit (CSU) responded along with an officer of the Traffic and Patrol Division. During the course of the officers’ investigation into the offense officers were able to review store video and obtain a vehicle description along with suspect information. A BOLO or ‘be on lookout’ for the suspect vehicle was issued. Members of CSU then located the suspect vehicle resulting in a felony traffic stop due to the potential of one or more of the suspects possibly being armed with firearms.

Members of CSU were then able to apprehend the primary suspect, Leandrew Evans, age 26, black, male, of 117 Tjoe St., Natchitoches, LA. Leandrew Evans was arrested one count of LA RS 40:1238.1 Possession of Legend Drug without Prescription, LA RS 40:982 Second or Subsequent Offenses, LA RS 14:67.15 Theft of a Firearm, and LA RS 14:95.1 Possession of Firearm by a Person Convicted of Certain Felonies. Evans was later transported to the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center where he awaits bond.

The case was later forward to the Natchitoches Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division for further investigation more arrests may follow. If anyone has information in reference to the gun theft(s) you’re urged to please contact Detective John Greely of the Natchitoches Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division at (318) 357-3811 or you may contact the Natchitoches Police Department directly at (318) 352-8101. All calls shall be kept confidential.

The Natchitoches Police Department’s, Criminal Suppression Unit (CSU) is a specialized unit initiated by Chief of Police, Micky Dove to target problematic areas throughout the city in which citizens have reported increased criminal activity or quality of life violations.


Chief Micky Dove

Natchitoches Police Department                                                             Release Date:      July 21, 2015

Growing Green: It’s Cultural

Judy in her gardenHistoric Preservation is not only about saving old buildings that create a sense of place, it is also about saving our rich cultural heritage and best practices that have survived the test of time so that we can build on them for a better tomorrow.

When I moved to Natchitoches Parish four years ago it was because I was instructing LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) workshops for the National Center for Preservation, Technology and Training. At that time my entire focus was on the built environment and saving the historic buildings while also ensuring that they were resource-efficient and healthy. The more research I did on the rich cultural heritage in the area, the more I realized how interdependent the built environment was with the natural environment. Agriculture served as the economic engine for the community and as agricultural trends changed, so did the built environment. As farming became mechanized, the size of farms grew, the number of small farms diminished, jobs on the farm decreased and people had to move to the city to seek employment. This devastated our rural communities. Natchitoches is by no means exceptional in this. This trend impacted communities all over the country and the world. Many times we devise intricate plans to address our problems when the solution lies in quite simply returning to our roots. Many of the residents in Natchitoches Parish are only one and at most two generations away from the soil.

Case in point, Judy Allen. You may know Judy for her creole creations, custom jewelry sold at her store Natchitoches Beads on Texas Street. What you may not know is that Judy is an avid gardener. Judy grew up in Cloutierville with her parents and nine brothers and sisters. She recalls her father sharecropping in two different areas. He farmed with a mule and a plow from sun-up to sun-down. Looking back she acknowledges that, “We were poor, but we were a typical family. Everybody was poor. We were never hungry because everybody grew something and we traded.” She began to recite the crops that her father grew. “Chickens, pigs, cows, corn, peanuts, cotton, popcorn, turnips, irish and sweet potatoes, every green you can think of, cabbage, eggplant, lettuce, carrots, radish, cantaloupe, watermelon, pumpkins, beans, pinto, red and yellow snap, cucumbers, onions, peaches, plums, pecans, figs, pears,” she goes on and on. She mentioned that her aunt had the geese, ducks and guineas and another relative raised goats.

Now that she has retired after a successful career as a teacher in Michigan she has returned home to Natchitoches. When she returned, her mom was still growing a garden. The memories of having fresh produce flooded back and once again she is putting her hands in the soil. She asked her husband to build her some raised beds and her nephews helped put down the newspaper, fill them with compost and then pile on the mulch to help reduce weeds. Her hands are back in the soil and her bounty is being shared with family and friends. Most importantly, she is passing on her love of gardening to the next generation.

Judy does not grow her fruits and vegetables to sell but more and more people are realizing there is money to be made through the production of organic fruits and vegetables. You don’t need a lot of space to be successful either. Virginia State University is using the 43,560 project to educate beginning farmers and touts it as one of their more successful programs. Yes, that is grossing $43,560 from an acre of land or more specifically $1 per square foot.  This is one of the programs Campti Field of Dreams will emulate at the Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Farm to educate beginning farmers, ranchers and value-added producers.

Campti Field of Dreams is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in rural communities through economic development. In addition to operating the Campti Historic Museum, we manage the Campti and Jackson Square Community Gardens and Marketplaces, and promote local artists with our artist showcase. The Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Farm is our newest initiative to facilitate local food production and agri-businesses in the Red River area. The timing is right! In the July edition of Southern SAWG (Sustainable Agriculture Working Group) it noted that Louisiana passed two pieces of “Good Food Legislation.” Sitting on the governor’s desk for signature is SB 184 which increases the “small purchase threshold” from $25,000 to match the federal limit, facilitating more “Farm to School” sales. This opens a whole new channel to small farmers. The federal limit is currently $150,000 which means that farmers will not have to compete with large corporations in the formal bidding process to sell to schools. HB 761 Urban Ag Incentive Zone Bill creates incentives for landowners to facilitate local food production throughout Louisiana and supports many of the current initiatives to improve our food security and economy through agri-business.

If you are interested in learning more, join us for the upcoming USDA NRCS Conservation and Soil Health Field Day on July 27th from 4 – 8 pm at the Campti Historic Museum, 211 Edenborn Street, Campti, LA 71411. The event will feature Dr. Mike Lindsey, the State Soil Scientist, Chris Coreil, State Agronomist and Chris Ebel, Area Rangeland Management Specialist. You will learn about:

  • The best soil to grow your fruits, vegetables and flowers
  • Grass, legumes and forbs for grazing livestock
  • Conservation measures on cropland
  • Financial and technical support available through USDA Natural Resource and Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency

Refreshments for this event are being sponsored by the Louisiana Land Bank who will be on hand to share information on their programs including: YBS for Young, Beginning and Small Farmers. For more information, you may visit our website, or call Donna Isaacs, Executive Director, at 318-332-7791.

For more information about USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, contact Dexter Sapp, (318) 473-7688.

Conservation and Soil Health Field Day FULL PAGE FLYER

USDA NRCS Conservation and Soil Health Field Day Press Release

Veggies from the garden Judy Allens GardenJudy Allen in front of her childhood home

Parish Council Meeting – July 20, 2015

ParishCouncil072015-Senator Long was unable to attend.

-The council approved entering into a Multi-Jurisdictional Consortium Agreement through the workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

A public hearing was held to hear any comments or objections relative to the adoption of:

  1. The Council tabled the submission of an application for funding under the State of LA FY 2016/2017 LCDBG Program. Funding can be used for projects regarding: Sewer improvements ($1 million max), Water improvements ($800,000 max), Street improvements ($600,000 max), and Fire protection ($500,000 max). Projects will take place in low income areas in the parish.
  2. The Council approved the Ordinance 06-2015 to request the judges in the 10th to implement a $10.00 fee on every defendant who is convicted after trial or pleads guilty. (excludes traffic violations)

-The Council approved the adoption of the resolution confirming reappointment to the following boards.

  1. Mr. William R. Zeigler for Natchitoches Parish Tourism Commission
  2. Mr. Ludlow McNeely for appointment to Natchitoches Waterworks District 2 Board.
  3. Mr. Henry Kinberger for the Natchitoches Parish Planning and Zoning Boards.

-The council approved the Ordinance 07-2015 to remove Parish Road 343-A known as Bud Boyd road located in Campti from the Parish Road Systems.

-The Council approved the Parish President to execute a revised Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with the State of LA Office of Facility Planning and Control for the Coco Bend Road Project in association with the additional right- of way that will be required for proper construction of the road. $280,000 worth of State funds are being used to complete this construction. Local services have to match these funds with $93,000.

-The Council approved the President to enter into contracts as needed for the required action to be taken to complete the required right-of-way for this project.

-The council approved the Parish President to contract for the sale of timber removed from the newly purchased Parish property located at the intersection of LA-117 and LA-478.

-The Council approved for the Parish President to solicit proposals for the repair of voids on the north abutment bridge on the Johnson Chute Road and to execute a contract. Questions about Posey Road came from Veronica Hargrove as well as a petition from frequent travelers of Posey Road, asking the council to take action to repair the road. The funding and the equipment to make improvements is not available at this time.

-The Council approved the Parish President to execute an “Act of Transfer and Acceptance” between the Parish of Natchitoches and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development for the transfer Parish of the DOTD right-of-way in the bypassed state route LA. 9, as described in the Act of Transfer and the Resolution Adopted by the Natchitoches Police Jury on Sept. 20th, 2006.

Report from the Advisory Commission on Parish Roads:

Commission members presented the report beginning with a short disclaimer. The evaluation by the board was made with the date made available to them and their evaluation is not the only/ best solution.

90% of the 977 parish roads are in poor condition. A majority of the road operations are centralized in Natchitoches. The commission suggested two finance scenarios based on the conclusion that there needs to be and asset management approach and a maintenance plan needs to be created. There needs to be a system to monitor accountability of what is being done and what is being paid for and how. It was strongly suggested that road funds be placed in a restricted account and any use of the funds should be published. A website can be created for monitoring and transparency to keep the public informed of what is taking place and being worked on.

Some funding solution suggestions:

  1. Add funds for maintenance personnel.
  2. Reconstruct financing for equipment.
  3. .5% sales tax parish wide
  4. Add property value/ mileage tax
  5. Enforce .5% tax for 5 years then phase in other tax

They hope to give voters the opportunity to decide.

-The council discussed the proposed Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with the Campti Field of Dreams organization with the use of three tracts of Parish property for its Agri-business operations. This is an economic development project that has provided fresh fruit and vegetables to low income communities. They would like to expand and help support small business in sustainable agriculture want to utilize sites in Campti, Robeline, Coulterville, as centers for agriculture in that area.

-The Council approved the intro. Of ordinance #08-2015 a budget amendment for the 2015 Operation Budget. Basically a budget alignment. Council has a month to contact Mrs. Miley with questions.

-The approved holding an election in Fire Protection District 4 of the Parish of Natchitoches on November 21st, 2015, to authorize the renewal of a special tax there in.


  1. Public works- There is a currently a shortage of inmates available to do outside work. A new group should be coming in soon.
  2. OCS/Head Start- the program is on target according to program specialist. There are 259 children enrolled in the program. The summer feeding program started June 1st and is currently feeding 451 children breakfast and 522 children lunch.
  3. Treasurer- There are currently 104 inmates. Council received quarterly budget report.

Weaver Pre-K Registration

WeaverWeaver Pre-K Registration will be held on July 29th at 8AM and last until 3pm at Weaver Elementary.

Requirements:  Child must be 4 years of age by September 30, 2015.
Must have Birth Certificate, Shot Record, Social Security Card and a Utility Bill with you.

You may also sign up at the Natchitoches Parish School Board Monday through Thursday 8AM until 3PM starting on July 27, 2015

NPSO Deputies intercept 1.1 pounds of High Grade Marijuana headed to Winn Parish during Traffic Stop on La. Hwy 6 West

Demario_Cortez_GilbertNatchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Deputies intercepted a Winn Parish man transporting approximately 1.1 pounds of suspected high grade marijuana traveling from Houston to Winnfield during a traffic stop on La. Hwy 6 West on Sunday evening according to Natchitoches Parish Sheriff Victor Jones Jr.

On Sunday evening July 19th at approximately 11:40pm, Deputies assigned to the NPSO Patrol Division were patrolling on La. Hwy  6 West near Hagewood, La., when they stopped a 2005 Chevrolet pickup truck for a traffic violation.

Deputies identified the driver of the vehicle as Demario Cortez Gilbert, 26, of the 900 block of Neil Wagoner Road, Winnfield, La.

Deputies say during the traffic stop,  Gilbert did not give his full name and they learned he did not have a drivers license.

Gilbert also appeared to very nervous and gave conflicting stories that lead them to believe criminal activity existed.

Deputies obtained permission to search Gilbert and the vehicle, discovering a duffle bag in the vehicle containing approximately 1.1 pounds of suspected high grade marijuana commonly called “kush” with a potential street value of over $8000.


Natchitoches Multi-jurisdictional Drug Task Force Agents also responded to the scene to assist.

As a result of the investigation, deputies arrested:

Demario Cortez Gilbert, 26 of the 900 block of Neil Wagoner Road, Winnfield, La., transported and booked into the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center charged with Possession of CDS Schedule I Marijuana with Intent to Distribute, No Drivers License, and traffic offenses.

Gilbert remains in the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center awaiting bond.

Sheriff Jones stated NPSO Deputies will continue to enforce traffic laws in Natchitoches Parish that may lead to the detection of illegal narcotics, weapons, and wanted person traveling through Natchitoches Parish.

A Task Force official believes the illegal narcotics was intended for distribution in Winn Parish.

A local wrecker impounded the vehicle.

Deputies J. Axsom and T. Pledger were assisted by Natchitoches Multi-jurisdictional Drug Task Force agents and deputies assigned to the NPSO Patrol Division.

NSU Robotics Camp 2015

RoboticsCamp1Youngsters ages 7-12 spent Monday building robots and learning how to program them during Robotics Camp sponsored by Northwestern State University’s Department of Engineering Technology.  Instructor Curtis Desselles gave pointers to Glen Rainey, Wyatt Adair, Cameron Brunson and Hayden Bell whose robot is programmed to follow marked black lines.  The camp continues on Tuesday.  On Wednesday and Thursday, Desselles and ET faculty will host sessions for students age 13 and up.

Natchitoches Parish in Heat Advisory Area

HeatAdvisoryThe National Weather Service in Shreveport, La. has issued a Heat Advisory until 7PM this evening.



H6PL_R_Nowlin_Pic150X150Over the past two months, the Parish of Natchitoches has experienced severe flooding due to the high level of the Red River. Much of the flood damage and citizen displacement from their homes has been the result of backwater flooding caused by the inability of certain bayous and creeks to drain into the Red River.

The Red River actually had two different flood peaks during this period. The first in late May was due to the heavy rains across Oklahoma, north Texas, southwest Arkansas and northwest Louisiana during the spring. These rains caused many of the reservoirs upstream from us to fill and eventually spill over into the Red River. The peak at Grand Ecore was approximately 9 feet above normal flood stage, leading to the widespread inundation of timber and crop land and the flooding of a number of homes. The second peak river stage occurred around the first of July. Although the high water mark was not as high as the first one, it also created problems for our citizens. This peak was made worse by the 10 to 15 inches of rain that fell when tropical storm Bill passed through the area in June. The reservoirs to the north of us that had been releasing water slowly to prevent damage downstream, had to suddenly release more water than planned.

As many of you are aware, there were approximately 25 different Parish roads and several State roads that were under water during this period. For some, it was just the inconvenience of having to take long detours to get where they needed to go. For others, it meant having to use a boat to get to their homes.

In anticipation of the river flooding, your Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness started meeting with the other Parish and State officials to coordinate actions before the first river peak occurred. Sand bags were provided to many families and some were assisted with the relocation of their livestock by the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office.

We have continued to work with the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in order to coordinate our activities during the disaster recovery.

One of the major thrusts of our efforts was to get the President to declare the flood damage a national disaster and we met with Senator David Vitter and the State staff of Senator Bill Cassidy to enlist their support. Our Parish was one of the first parishes to declare the flood disaster on the local level and Governor Jindal quickly followed suit. We are pleased to report that the President has now issued the disaster declaration.

This is very important to Natchitoches Parish. Without the federal declaration, the total cost of repairs to our roads and bridges would have to be borne by the Parish. Based upon our preliminary assessments, that would have had a significant negative impact on our ability to maintain our roads for the rest of 2015 and well into 2016. With the declaration, we can go forward with the knowledge that the federal government will share in the costs of these repairs.

One word of caution is warranted. Our Public Works Department, Treasurer and other staff are working on the project data documents required to justify federal funds to be reimbursed to the Parish. Some of the damages may not be known until the passage of weeks or even months following the flood. Until we know the full scope of the damages and FEMA reviews and evaluates our submittals, we cannot be certain of the exact amount of funds we will be receiving.

While the President’s declaration included Natchitoches Parish in the list of Parishes eligible for assistance for public damage recovery, it did not include individual damage cases. It remains to be seen whether there will be enough damage to individual residences for those in the Parish to receive financial assistance. At this point, it does not look promising.

A call for Action in Louisiana Tattooing


The Natchitoches Parish Journal received this submission from Max Tucker. The views and opinions expressed are those of Mr. Tucker and not necessarily those of the Natchitoches Parish Journal.  If you have an article for publishing consideration by the NPJ, please send it to

Professional tattoo artists across the state are feeling disappointed by a system of laws that are ineffective when it comes to regulating illegal tattooing and unethical amateurs. The real public threat lies in the fact that it is all too easy to find the location of a cheap tattoo artist working out of some seedy and creepy basement or kitchen that’s neither clean nor sterile, that’s the real public threat. If the Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals (DHH) refuses to do anything about unlicensed tattooers, they’re only succeeding in keeping the professionals honest.
“You have to maintain a professional license and all that implies, and yet the DHH offers no protections for those licenses,” said Max Tucker, owner of Nakatosh Tattoo Co. in Natchitoches. This means they will not and cannot go after the non-professionals, because the statutes as they stand have little or no penalties attached to them.
The only criminal offense in the statues is LA RS 14:93.2, which states if an artist tattoos or pierces a minor without parental consent, and even then, the complaint must be initiated by the parent.
A misdemeanor offense, this gives law enforcement the ability to make an arrest on those committing the offense; however, this is the only law governing tattooing. Tattooing that is not licensed or sanctioned should be illegal due to the numerous implications that this action causes. For instance, the health hazards associated with “in home” tattooing are astronomical.

The only other recourse available to the DHH is injunctive relief, a ban leveled by the DHH against a tattooer who refuses to comply with the regulations. Enforced for the first time last year and only against shops that were late on renewal fees, the length and consistency of this legal process makes its use as a regulating tool useless.
Micah Harold of Red Handed Tattoo Parlor in Shreveport agrees that the problem in the State is the DHH’s lack of action against illegal tattooers. “The professionals are heavily scrutinized by the state, while they let scratchers run rampant like rats.”

Harold said, “The message is clear. If you want to do anything you need money. They’re not concerned about public health. They prioritize profits over the concern for the health of its citizens.”

“You go to anybody in this world and if they don’t do the job you don’t pay them. Why am I paying this money,” asks Tucker. Coming from Oklahoma, where tattooing regulations require accountability and law enforcement is able to administer consequences, Tucker sees a need for change in Louisiana’s tattooing laws. The requirements to become a licensed tattoo artist include: going through the Red Cross to receive a certificate in first aid, CPR and blood born pathogens, pay a fee and provide a copy of a valid ID. This license encompasses tattooing, permanent cosmetics and body piercing. “These are three separate and wholly independent industries and it’s all just thrown into one little mixing pot,” said Tucker. “That aside, anybody can get licensed. There’s nothing that they ask for that proves you are a professional tattooer.”
Tucker explains how medical fields, electricians, ironworkers and pipe fitters have review boards to answer to, while none of it exists for tattooing, yet artists are required to maintain a license. “If having a license is what the state classifies as a ‘professional tattoo artist,’ then what does that mean for non-professionals,” asks Tucker.

A tattooer must have to have an apprentice license just to train in Louisiana. For people looking for a quick solution to replace years of training, tattoo schools like the one in Shreveport, trains unlicensed people and sends them out into the public. Training consists of four classes a year with approximately 18 students. “That’s a verified 72 people allowed to tattoo illegally, with no apprentice license, and the state and local law enforcement powerless to act. Now, take that number and guess how many are doing it from their homes with eBay kits,” said Tucker.
Inspections are also supposed to be done yearly. “In the eight years I’ve been tattooing in the Natchitoches and Shreveport areas I’ve had four health inspections,” said Tucker and fellow artist Ash Moore agrees. “In the five years I’ve been in Louisiana I’ve seen a health inspector in a shop three times and not once did they inspect” he said. “They’re not doing anything. They’re not providing a service, so what are we paying them for?”

Christy Scothorn, of Atomic Heart Tattoo in Lake Charles, started tattooing 15 years ago. She claims that the retired sanitation workers inspecting tattoo shops don’t have a lot of knowledge when it comes to tattooing. She sees the need for law enforcement’s involvement because illegal tattooing should carry a criminal offense. She also said that getting advice from established tattooers would be beneficial to the DHH when it comes in inspections and for the general public when it comes to stopping the spread of diseases due to unsanitary tattooing conditions.
“Getting someone sick is unethical,” said Scothorn. “There are two types of tattooers: Licensed ethical tattooers and scratchers.”

“I’ve always gone against illegal tattooing. I’ve been very outspoken about it and tried to get it to stop. I’ve repeatedly called Baton Rouge showing them hard evidence and trying to point them in the right direction and no one ever does anything,” said Tucker.

Another issue tattoo artists face is the consistent business of cover-ups. Tattooing since 2000, Harold said the sheer number of people doing horrible tattoos without any regulations is so overshadowing that it’s caused him anxiety. “Cover ups account for a large number of business, even if I can’t stand them,” Harold states. “When it comes to the public’s health and wellbeing no one deserves to get sick if they’re ignorant about going to a professional tattoo shop.”
Tucker has amassed thousands of photos of illegal and poorly executed tattoos within Natchitoches parish, all of which needed cover-ups. Each one testifies to the immense scale of illegal work being done within miles of his shop location. Now multiply that by 64 parishes across the state and the point is brought home. Add to that, the DHH’s own statistics, which rank Louisiana number three in the nation for HIV, and shows approximately 4.4 million cases of Hepatitis C. These numbers clearly make non-professional tattooing an immediate threat to public health and safety.

Harold describes his experience with the state as less than admirable, comparing lobbyists to car salesmen on the hunt for money. “It shouldn’t be about the money,” he said. “The motivation for us is to do the right thing.”
“The DHH offers no recourse to the plethora of illegal tattooing going on out there,” said Tucker. “As a tattooer I am a 100 times more likely to end up with a communicable disease. If I do everything I can to prevent myself from contamination, my clients have zero risk. I go above and beyond to uphold Louisiana’s sanitary codes. That being said, we have great statues on the books, but the only ones who come under condemnation are the ethical shops when it’s time to pay, not the hundreds who will never pay; the ones who hand out business cards and advertise on YouTube. “Why aren’t they actually protecting the public health and safety,” asks Tucker.

“If the DHH isn’t willing to go after people tattooing out of their homes then it needs to concede that it has no business regulating professional tattooers,” said Harold.
“We are not against the DHH or it’s workers,” said Tucker. “In fact we are their strongest supporters. We want to know that when we pay our yearly fees, that money is being used to properly regulate Tattooing in Louisiana. We want the statutes reexamined by the DHH, state officials and professional tattooers. We want local and Parish law enforcement, as well as the DHH, to have the ability to act against illegal activity. We should be consulted as to what is right and wrong and what changes should be made. Above all we want the state to take action in regards to illegal tattooing and if they’re unable to do so, they need to make is so that it can be handled on a local and parish level with the states guidance.”

For questions and comments feel free to contact:

Max Tucker
Nakatosh Tattoo Co
119 St. Denis
Natchitoches, La
318-238-6824 work
318-609-2008 cell

Cane River Green Market – On the Riverbank

Cane River Green MarketCane River Green Market is Natchitoches’ only farmers market. Open Saturdays on the downtown riverbank 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. during the spring and fall seasons.

The Cane River Green Market opens in 30 minutes! Come and see us! Fresh fruits, vegetables, bread, eggs, milk, and salsa plus handmade jewelry and crafts.

We Love Natchitoches!

4-H enrollment for the upcoming school year will open mid-August

Natchitoches Parish 4-H members attending 4-H University at LSU this summer were: (front row) Jordan Rodriguez, Karmel Davenport, Jill Wiltz, Abigail Gardener, Mikalynn Burns. (second row) Danielle Settle, William LaCaze, Kate Dickson, Rachel Rachal, Corey Gallion. (back row) Gwen Fontenot, 4-H Agent; Fredda Burns, adult volunteer; Randall Mallette, County Agent, and Connie Gallion, adult volunteer. Jill Wiltz, Natchitoches Central High School student, was named as a National 4-H Conference Delegate and elected as State 4-H Vice President for the upcoming school year. Jordan Rodriguez, also a student at Natchitoches Central High School, was named to the Food and Fitness Board, and Kate Dickson, from St. Mary's, was named to the Science, Engineering, and Technology Board.

Natchitoches Parish 4-H members attending 4-H University at LSU this summer were:
(front row) Jordan Rodriguez, Karmel Davenport, Jill Wiltz, Abigail Gardener, Mikalynn Burns.
(second row) Danielle Settle, William LaCaze, Kate Dickson, Rachel Rachal, Corey Gallion.
(back row) Gwen Fontenot, 4-H Agent; Fredda Burns, adult volunteer; Randall Mallette, County Agent,
and Connie Gallion, adult volunteer. Jill Wiltz, Natchitoches Central High School student, was named
as a National 4-H Conference Delegate and elected as State 4-H Vice President for the
upcoming school year. Jordan Rodriguez, also a student at Natchitoches Central High School,
was named to the Food and Fitness Board, and Kate Dickson, from St. Mary’s, was named
to the Science, Engineering, and Technology Board.

Since the early 1900’s 4-H Record Books have been judged annually. Initially, competitions have focused on project skill development, primarily in agricultural areas. Now, 4-H Record Book competitions evaluate members’ leadership, development, citizenship activities and personal growth as well as project proficiency. 4-H members also are provided an incentive such as cash prizes or educational awards trips if their record book is selected first place. Recently, NSU Middle Lab School 4-H member, Katie Anderson, won the state 4-H 6th Grade Achievement Award for her record book and a cash prize of $50.

If there is one thing that is evident about Natchitoches parish 4-H, it is that there is something for everyone. With 445 members enrolled last year, and 15 in school clubs Fontenot was busy managing over 140 adult volunteers that help implement programs and make the it successful. “Volunteers are the key to our youth participating. I’m only one person, and definitely cannot do it all. I’m basically the program manager, and volunteers teach youth, attend camps, and help youth with their project work,” Fontenot states.

4-H enrollment for the upcoming school year will open mid-August. Youth are encouraged to join through their school club, however an option to join as a member-at-large directly through the 4-H office is available. Natchitoches parish dues are set at $7.00 for the 2015-2016 school year, and school clubs usually tack on an additional fee so their club can have funds to conduct their own projects. Once a youth joins 4-H they have the opportunity to participate in any 4-H activity that is offered statewide. For more information about the Natchitoches parish 4-H program contact Gwen Fontenot, 4-H Associate Extension Agent, at the local LSU AgCenter Extension Office 624 Second Street Natchitoches, Louisiana 71457
(318) 357-2224.

Kiwanis Club of Natchitoches Annual School Uniform Drive – 2015


It is that time again, SCHOOL TIME, and the Kiwanis Club of Natchitoches is hosting their annual “School Uniform” drive.  The drive began July 13, and will continue through the rest of the summer.   Kiwanis is collecting new and/or slightly used (in good condition) school uniforms for local children in need.  The uniforms will be distributed to children in Natchitoches Parish.  Collection sites are set up at Waskom, Brown & Associates, Bank of Montgomery and Sabine State Bank.

The Tour de la Rivière Rouge will come through Natchitoches Parish

TDTstageThis September, two of the longest and toughest races for kayaks and canoes in the United States will come through Natchitoches Parish. The Tour de la Rivière Rouge goes from Shreveport-Bossier City to Port Barre in St. Landry Parish, 275 miles via the Red and Atchafalaya rivers. There, some of those racers will join the Tour du Teche 135 for a three-day staged race to Berwick in St. Mary Parish. Those elite paddlers, coming from all over the nation and beyond, will be in the 419 de Louisiane, traveling by sheer muscle power in a week’s time from the top to the bottom of the state.

We are proud of the fact that we’re linking 12 parishes together. As we have done with the four-parish Tour du Teche 135 over the past five years, we would like to display the official flags from all 12 parishes at the starts, finish lines and awards ceremonies. (See the attached photo and information packet.)
If you have a parish flag, and you can give us one, we would greatly appreciate it. Or if we can buy one, that would be fine. If you don’t have an actual flag but you have an image you can email us, we’ll have one made.
Our interest is in having our participants and spectators understand the how many political subdivisions the race crosses.

The Rest of the Story

Please email me or call me at (337) 394-6232 to let us know what we can do to ensure your parish is represented.

Ken Grissom, Tour du Teche

Ponderings with Doug – July 17, 2015


John Killinger wrote, “Old age is haunted territory. The ghosts of all our experiences converge upon us, drifting in and out like merry wraiths at a convention of specters. The older we become, the more of these ghosts there are and the more easily they appear to come and go. Some days we can’t get anything done for watching and listening to them.”

A couple of weeks ago I was home in north Alabama. My brother and I had cemetery duty. In the family plot there is a tallish obelisk which was leaning dramatically. It is the marker of my grandfather’s first wife who died in childbirth a century ago. Every few years it has been my job to “straighten out Cleo’s marker.” As my brother and I were working on it, I was suddenly struck with the realization that I am related to more people in the ground than above ground. Talk about a perfect setting to be reminded of the ghosts of the past.

Certainly those family members we miss are some of the ghosts that figuratively roam in and out of our memory. The great family stories about those peculiar relatives we all have. The stories of the heroic actions of our patriarchs are always inspiring. In my family there are stories, many of them are the other kind. My great grandfather lost most of an entire county in Alabama in a poker game. Another great grandfather ran a broom factory. I grew up playing around broom parts, kerosene, old cars and houses with basements. I loved how and when I grew up. Our family gatherings were loud and crowded.

The other ghosts that pop in our minds are a pair of regret ghosts. Regret comes in two forms, things we did or said and things we failed to do or to say. Those lists grow daily don’t they? I’m trying to avoid that “left undone or left unsaid” ghost.

These ghosts grab our attention and we find ourselves trying to drive forward while looking in a rear-view mirror. They also keep us from experiencing the power of the present moment.

I’m trying a ghostbusting antidote that I read in the Bible. It might help you too!

“Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.” How are you and your ghosts running the race?

Promises, Elections and Disappointment…Natchitoches Parish Politics

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
In the history of the United States, the key transportation infrastructure projects include an era of canal building in the early 1800s, transcontinental railroads in the late 1800s and the national highway system in the 1900s. Every move reduced the cost and time for shipping goods and people around the country, from horse-drawn vehicles to inland waterways, then railroads and finally trucks and cars. While no single project can be responsible for America’s success, each new technology stimulated growth that cumulatively turned a nearly 10 million-square-kilometer rural expanse into the world’s dominant economy. In modern-day areas of the world marked by unpaved roads, no electrical grid, limited sewage and an unsafe water supply, an improvement in any of those areas holds the potential to boost economic growth and begin to create an environment that attracts business investment and supports local firms.

The above is from the referenced article provided by the U.S. Department of State. The article is somewhat lengthy, but definitely factual. (read more: CLICK HERE )   Those of us who grew up in Natchitoches Parish heard, from time to time, “If the shoe fits, wear it.” Well the above article contrasts the economic development of the United States with the rest of the world. A stark contrast it is. As for the ‘unpaved roads,’ well that’s directed right at Natchitoches Parish and many would say, “That shoe fits.”

For well over 100 years the population has remained flat. Other parishes have grown, the state has grown and the United States’ population has tripled. Some point to the fact that there are only two public high schools in the parish, but most cases that I have seen, the schools tend to follow the population, which follows the roads. Think about it, anywhere there has been a new school erected, the population was already there. And, conversely, the population will not develop where there is no
infrastructure (roads).

In the not too distant past, the police jury resorted to operating on what I call a “Daylight Savings Budget” that consisted of cutting a large slice off next year’s budget and utilizing it on the end of this year’s expenditures. Some call that “Robbing Peter to Pay Paul.” If not illegal, it certainly was a violation of the state’s rules for public entities.  Oh they were ‘cited’ in the annual audit, but they never completely stopped the creative bookkeeping. In fact they failed to balance their budget in 18 of the last 22 years of their existence.  Still, there seem to be those who remember fondly a little fast and loose ‘management’ back in the days of the police jury.

Since January, 2013, operating within the parish budget has had its challenges.  But, professional management met the challenges and when they were out of money, they were out of money. Just like you and me. The road fund has been grossly underfunded (some say neglected) for 30 years. It has nothing to do with what may have occurred in the past by the jurors or anyone else. It is time to start finding additional revenue somewhere. It is time to restore the roads and pick up that century that has been lost. It is time the Council had the intestinal fortitude to stand up for the citizens of Natchitoches Parish.  Will good roads increase property values?  Yes, but the pressing issue is one of safety. One person who does not get to the hospital in time, is a price most are unwilling to pay. Most would agree, the roads are on  ‘life support.’ The time has come for those in a position of leadership to accept the challenge and move forward. This ‘tin can’ has been kicked down the road far enough; the citizens of Natchitoches Parish deserve better.

Some say nothing much will happen until after the election. This is nothing new and, sadly, it wreaks of politics, as usual. There are some ‘players’ who began  their campaign before the Home Rule Charter (HRC) ever became law, and while interested in self promotion, they seem reluctant to advance the cause of better roads in Natchitoches Parish.  The HRC has a three term limit for its Council, but seeing the inactivity of this Council this term, perhaps it is time the citizens impose their own limits.

Do the roads matter to the people of Natchitoches Parish?  Apparently, only to some.