Natchitoches Parish Solid Waste Holiday


 Natchitoches Parish President Rick Nowlin announces that all Parish solid waste facilities, including the Parish Landfill located at 4597 Hwy. 1 North, will be closed on Thursday, November 26, 2015, in observance of the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

All Parish solid waste facilities will re-open at their normal operating times on Friday, November 27.

Questions about Natchitoches Parish solid waste operations may be directed to the Solid Waste Department at (318) 238-3704.

Christmas and Fireworks in Natchitoches, Louisiana – it’s almost time!

The 89th Annual Christmas Festival Season in downtown Natchitoches, Louisiana the weekend of December 4, 2015.    Make your plans today!

Click Here to make your Plans

The 89th Annual season begins on November 21st, 2015 with our Holiday Open House. December 5th is our Christmas Festival, fireworks are held every Saturday throughout the Season as well as events to be enjoy by every age. Our Season ends on January 6th, 2016.

The Natchitoches Christmas Season has been listed as a “Top 100 Events in North America” by the American Bus Association for numerous years and has also been honored as one of the “Top 20 Events” for December on six occasions by the Southeast Tourism Society. In 2013 we were ranked 3rd “Best Holiday Light Show” behind the Rockefeller Center and Disney World in the nation by

Video Courtesy of: Brad Ferguson and the HDBA



Nettles Brown





Lesh Nettles Brown has been named a member of the 2015 Chairman’s Council of New York Life today. Members of the elite Chairman’s Council rank in the top three percent of New York Life’s elite sales force of more than 12,000 licensed agents in sales achievement.

Mr. Brown has been a New York Life agent since 2001, and is associated with New York Life’s Shreveport General Office in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Nettles is a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and Long-Term Care Professional (LTCP) and a member of the Natchitoches Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. He is a member of Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) qualifying with 9 years of membership. Nettles is an AARP Authorized to Offer agent.

Mr. Brown has a B S and a MBA degree from Northwestern State University, Natchitoches, Louisiana. He is currently President of the Natchitoches Parish Port Commission, Vice-Chair of the United Methodist Foundation of Louisiana, and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the First United Methodist Church in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Nettles is a Past International President of Kiwanis International.

Nettles is married to Glenelle Pearce Brown and is the father of Lesh Nettles Brown, Jr. and Breanna Brown Shumpert. The Browns have 3 grandsons.

New York Life Insurance Company, a Fortune 100 company founded in 1845, is the largest mutual life insurance company in the United States* and one of the largest life insurers in the world. New York Life has the highest possible financial strength ratings currently awarded to any life insurer from all four of the major credit rating agencies: A.M. Best (A++), Fitch (AAA), Moody’s Investors Service (Aaa), Standard & Poor’s (AA+).** Headquartered in New York City, New York Life’s family of companies offers life insurance, retirement income, investments and long-term care insurance. New York Life Investments*** provides institutional asset management. Other New York Life affiliates provide an array of securities products and services, as well as retail mutual funds.

Please visit New York Life’s Web site at for more information.

* Based on revenue as reported by “Fortune 500, ranked within Industries, Insurance: Life, Health (Mutual),” Fortune magazine, June 15, 2015. See

** Individual independent rating agency commentary as of 8/11/15.

*** New York Life Investments is a service mark used by New York Life Investment Management Holdings LLC and its subsidiary, New York Life Investment Management LLC.

CAPA readying for 27th annual Gala


Northwestern State University’s School of Creative and Performing Arts will stage its most popular holiday production in Natchitoches.  The 27th annual Christmas Gala, a perennial holiday favorite in Natchitoches, will be presented Dec. 2-4 in A.A. Fredericks Auditorium.  Show times are 7 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with an additional 9 p.m. show on Friday. Matinee performances are also presented for area schools at 9:30 a.m. and noon Dec. 2-3 and 9:30 a.m. Dec. 4.

For many, the Christmas Gala has been a tradition to kick-off Festival weekend

“More than 12,000 see the gala in Natchitoches each year, and it is met with enthusiasm from all audiences. The school-age students particularly love the show, and we are hoping to bring together all of the audience favorites for this year’s production,” said Dr. Greg Handel, director of the School of Creative and Performing Arts.

Tickets to are $10 and can be purchased through the university website. Tickets can be purchased at the box office prior to each performance, but advance ticket purchases are recommended as the shows sell out quickly.  Northwestern State, BPCC@NSU and Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts students are admitted free with a current student ID.

Admission for the children’s show is $3. Those planning to bring groups to the children’s show should make reservations by calling at (318) 357-4483.

Each area of the School of Creative and Performing Arts will be part of the Gala including music, theatre and dance and fine + graphic arts, as well as new media, journalism and communication arts. The Gala will feature the Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony Orchestra, the NSU choirs, Northwestern State Department of Theatre and Dance, The NSU Jazz Orchestra, NSU Rockettes, NSU Percussion Ensemble, The Out-on-a-Limb Improv Troupe, and video and visual art provided by Northwestern State Department of Fine + Graphic Arts.

This year, the Christmas Gala will also be staged at Shreveport’s historic Strand Theatre with performances at 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12.  Tickets are $10 general admission.  Tickets for NSU and BPCC students are free, but students must RSVP by Dec. 7. To purchase tickets or RSVP, go to and click on Gala.

Saturday’s Choice


Joe Cunningham, III

So, on Saturday, I’ll be in Natchitoches, chaperoning a school group that will be touring the area as part of a statewide STEM tour. As I type this, I’m sitting in a hotel room in New Orleans, listening to some of the kids from the group talking very loudly. In all likelihood, I’ll take breaks in writing this column in order to go tell them to calm down.

It will be weird coming to Natchitoches as a tourist and not as a returning as someone visiting my hometown and my family. I will be visiting the places I went to on field trips as a kid: the Fish Hatchery, Melrose Plantation, and Ft. St. Jean Baptiste. I’ll be, God help us all, in charge of kids. How messed up is that?!

The school I teach at in south Louisiana is a STEM magnet school. It is part of Lafayette’s Schools of Choice program, where schools have specialized pathways that students can attend, even if the school is not their base school. It is based on a lottery system, and our school in particular is growing like crazy because it’s not just a school with career pathways, but it’s a magnet school.

It is the very embodiment of one of the many ways we in Louisiana can promote school choice.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that you need to vote for David Vitter, that David Vitter is the best choice for Louisiana, that David Vitter is the only way to save Louisiana. I’m not going to sit here and tell you to overlook his past indiscretions. That is going to be a monumental task for a lot of you.

But, I am going to ask you to take a look at our children. The ones in school. The ones who could use something better. There are not enough secondary schools in Natchitoches to create the same system we have here in Lafayette, but there are things that can be done to allow for school choice. If a school is failing your child (and yes, even as a teacher, I believe that it is very much possible for a school to do harm to your child’s education), you as a parent deserve a right to place them somewhere else where they can learn.

John Bel Edwards hates school choice.

He uses the fact that his wife is a public school teacher to tout how much he respects education. It’s an obvious play against Bobby Jindal, who is still greatly disliked for his education policies. But, Edwards has taken a ton of money from teachers’ unions, who are (as organizations) very much against the idea of school choice. They want the power to remain in the hands of teachers, and not in the hands of parents.

He has written anti-school choice legislation. He is going to implement education policies that will hurt your child’s chance to get a good education.

I’m not going to tell you to vote for David Vitter on Saturday. But, I beg of you, do not vote for John Bell Edwards.

Joe Cunningham is a conservative commentator, Front Page Editor at, contributor to The Hayride, and a teacher in south Louisiana. You can find him on Twitter at @JoePCunningham and on Facebook at

Funeral for Dr. Randall J. Webb to be held Monday

Webb 2015

NATCHITOCHES – Funeral services for former Northwestern State University President Dr. Randall J. Webb will be Monday at 10 a.m. in Prather Coliseum on the NSU campus with State Sen. Gerald Long and Rev. Thomas Rush officiating. Visitation will be Sunday from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. in the Prather Coliseum arena. Arrangements are by Blanchard St. Denis Funeral Home of Natchitoches.

Webb, 72, died Wednesday in Shreveport after a lengthy illness. He was the longest-serving president in the history of Northwestern State, holding the position for more than 18 years.

Under Webb’s leadership, Northwestern State received unprecedented national and international attention for its academic programs and student accomplishments. University facilities were renovated to better serve students and two record-setting capital campaigns took place.

He was honored with the title of President Emeritus in May 2015. Northwestern State had the largest graduating classes in the university’s history during Webb’s tenure. Webb expanded the university’s outreach by spearheading the development at NSU of the largest electronic education network of any university in Louisiana and oversaw the first two capital campaigns at NSU, which raised more than $65 million to enhance the university. He was named to the Southland Conference Hall of Honor earlier this year.

He is survived by his wife, Brenda Webb of Shreveport, his daughters, Tamara Gatewood and husband Reggie of McKinney, Texas and Lauren Simokaitis and husband Nick of Crestwood, Missouri, grandchildren, Tyler Joseph Gatewood, Ava Michelle Gatewood, Nicholas Adam Simokaitis, and Benjamin Webb Simokaitis; his mother-in-law, Louise Williams and brother-in-law Joel Williams and wife Sylvia.

In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to the Dr. Randall and Brenda Webb Endowed Scholarship, Office of University Advancement, 535 University Parkway, Natchitoches, LA 71497.

Northwestern State students will hold a candlelight vigil celebrating Webb’s life today (Thursday) at 5:30 p.m. near the Columns.

The Louisiana School for Math, Science, and The Arts in Natchitoches – Top 25 Best Public Schools in America


A great education doesn’t have to cost a fortune — especially in high school.

Niche, a company that researches and compiles information on schools, just released its 2016 rankings of the best public high schools in the country and The Louisiana School for Math, Science & The Arts in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana ranks number 9 in the United States!

The ranking looked at over 100,000 schools based on 27 million reviews from more than 300,000 students and parents. They rated schools in areas like academics, teachers, student culture and diversity, and resources and facilities.

Academics: A+
Student culture & diversity: B+
Teachers: A+
Resources & facilities: A+

Louisiana School for Math, Science & The Arts is a public, magnet, alternative school in Natchitoches, Louisiana. It has 298 students in grades 10-12. According to state standards, 95% of students at this school are considered proficient in math and/or reading.

715 University Parkway
Natchitoches, LA 71457
(318) 357-3174



Men’s Basketball & Baseball — Northwestern State signs versatile forward, two-sport star


Versatility describes Northwestern State’s recruiting haul Wednesday, the final day of the early signing period.

The Demons inked 6-foot-9 forward Tanner Hamilton (Texarkana, Ark.) and two-sport standout Tyree Thompson (New Orleans).

Hamilton averaged 29 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks per game during his junior season at Hooks High School in Hooks, Texas.

“Every time we’ve seen Tanner, he gets better,” McConathy said about the 205-pound Hamilton, who garnered All-State, All-Region and District MVP honors. “He has unlimited potential within our program. He is a gym rat that has made himself a great shooter.

“His ability to shoot behind the arc and attack the rim off the dribble will allow him to play four positions for us offensively. He is long and athletic, which really fits into our fast-paced style of Demon basketball.

Thompson starred on the basketball court and baseball diamond at Edna Karr High School.

In baseball, Thompson compiled an 8-4 record as a pitcher with a 1.75 ERA as a junior. Thompson struck out 101 batters in 84 innings. He’s used 319 career strikeouts to aid his five career no hitters and one perfect game. Thompson won the first 11 starts of his sophomore season with the help of a fastball that’s touched 93 miles per hour.

At the plate, Thompson batted .600 with seven home runs and 34 RBIs to garner all-district player of the year honors and an all-metro selection as a junior.

“Tyree has a skill set that you just can’t teach,” said NSU baseball coach Lane Burroughs. “His arm really turns and is extremely quick.

“He really knows how to spin the baseball, and he already has a feel for plus secondary pitches. We haven’t even touched on his extreme athleticism for a big man, and I want to congratulate the basketball coaching staff for finding a real gem and helping us with a true diamond in the rough.”

Hamilton will finish his career at Trinity Christian in Texarkana, Ark., after leading Hooks High to a 30-2 record.

“Defensively, he has the ability to block shots and impact shots as well with his length and athleticism. He can defend multiple positions, which fits into our philosophy defensively. Tanner is a young senior (just turned 17), so he has a frame that can be added to that will only enhance his abilities.”

McConathy had no shortage of praise for Thompson, either. NSU freshman Colby Koontz will also pitch for the baseball team, and McConathy doesn’t shy away from athletes who wish to pursue multiple sports.

Thompson averaged 10 points and six assists for a Karr squad that went 24-9. Thompson enters his third season as a varsity basketball starter this season.

“We have addressed an obvious need by signing point guard Tyree Thompson, and we are confident that his dynamic play-making ability, athleticism and versatility will fit extremely well with our style,” said NSU basketball coach Mike McConathy. “He understands pace and space and can facilitate an offense to help his teammates get easy shots or create for himself.

“Tyree has played with and against several Division I players in high school and AAU, and we are certain he will make the transition to college basketball with success as a freshman.”

Sons of Confederate Veterans’ Commander – LIVE on KNOC this Friday

Join Pastor Steve Harris and Thomas E. Taylor this Friday for a conversation regarding the festival parade and the City of Natchitoches.

RADIO – Natchitoches    7:15AM on My92.3 KNOC. & 1450 AM

Harrisand Taylor


On Saturday, November 7, I received word that our application to the parade was rejected for no reason at all. I called the mayor and he said that he changed his mind after “relentless pressure” from the concerned citizens.  I told him then that neither he nor the citizens were correct in their demand that the original Confederate flag be used and he agreed that none of them probably knew what they were talking about but he was making this decision anyway.

In making this decision the mayor has bypassed the wishes of the Historical District Business Association since changes to the parade structure is made by a vote of Front Street merchants. They were never consulted and a vote of them was never taken.  The mayor just arbitrarily made this decision on his own.  Political correctness ruled the day.

Yes, I did reject the demand to carry a historically incorrect flag in the parade. I did offer to carry other governmental flags but was told that any flag containing the Saint Andrew’s Cross was unacceptable no matter how correct it would be.  So you see?  The mayor cares not what is correct or even right, only that he appease a vocal group with an agenda.  That is what weak, uninformed and politically correct people do and I’m afraid that this decision will negatively affect the City of Natchitoches this year for sure and possibly for years to come.


Thomas E. Taylor
Commander, Louisiana Division
Sons of Confederate Veterans


Former president Dr. Randall J. Webb passes away at 72

Dr. Randall Webb


NATCHITOCHES – Former Northwestern State University President Dr. Randall J. Webb died Wednesday in Shreveport after a lengthy illness.

Webb, who was 72, was the longest-serving president in the history of Northwestern State, holding the position from July 1, 1996 to Dec. 31, 2014.

Northwestern President Dr. Jim Henderson said, “Tonia and I and the entire Northwestern family of students, faculty, staff and alumni extend to Dr. Webb’s wife Brenda, his daughters, grandchildren and other loved ones our heartfelt sympathy in this time of grief.”

He said, “We also express our deepest appreciation and gratitude for Dr. Webb’s service, leadership and meaningful and beneficial influence on the university throughout his lifetime.”

Henderson, who succeeded Webb as NSU’s president in January of 2015, said, “Dr. Webb’s legacy will be as a giant in the history of the university that he loved and as a prominent figure over two decades in state and national higher education circles.”

Calling Webb “an icon in the long history of Northwestern State University and the Natchitoches community,” Henderson noted that the University of Louisiana System honored Webb when he retired “with the prestigious designation of President Emeritus of Northwestern.”  He said NSU is considering other ways “to memorialize and perpetuate his permanent and positive impact on the university.”

Henderson said, “No president served Northwestern longer or with greater distinction than Randy Webb.  In his 18 years as head of the university, he expanded and enhanced academic and athletic programs, spearheaded the most successful fund-raising campaigns in the history of the school and was at the forefront of dramatic growth in enrollment and expansion and improvement of physical facilities.”

Jimmy Long of Natchitoches, a member of the University of Louisiana System that serves as Northwestern’s governing board, said Webb “guided Northwestern effectively and capably for nearly two decades, and his leadership enhanced and enriched the university.”

Long said Webb was “a successful president at Northwestern not just because of his experience and skills as a higher education administrator but also because of his deep love for the university and the long and close connection between NSU and so many members of the Webb family that graduated from the school through the years.

“State Sen. Gerald Long of Natchitoches praised Webb’s dedication to the university.

“I have never known a person more passionate about his calling in life,” said Sen. Long. “He was devoted to his school and was Northwestern State’s most loyal supporter. The level of leadership he provided Northwestern State can never be measured.”

Gerald Long met Webb when both were undergraduates at NSU and maintained a friendship for more than 50 years.

“I never had a greater friendship. It was deep, abiding and based on personal respect,” said Sen. Long.

Under Webb’s leadership, Northwestern State received unprecedented national and international attention for its academic programs and student accomplishments. University facilities were renovated to better serve students and two record-setting capital campaigns took place.

Enrollment reached record levels during Webb’s tenure as president and exceeded 10,500 for the first time in history in the fall of 2004.  Webb led NSU toward higher admission standards, which has resulted in students at the university having greater academic potential and aptitude. During Webb’s tenure, Northwestern State had the largest graduating classes in the university’s history.

Webb has also expanded the university’s outreach by spearheading the development at NSU of the largest electronic education network of any university in Louisiana.

Millions were obtained during Webb’s presidency for new and renovated facilities.  The new facilities include the Wellness, Recreation and Activity Center, Student Services Center and University Place I and II. Morrison Hall, the Family and Consumer Sciences Building, Williamson Hall, Russell Hall and Caspari Hall were completely renovated and restored.

A 1965 graduate of Northwestern in mathematics and business education, Webb earned a master of science degree in mathematics from NSU in 1966.  He received a doctorate in education from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1971 with a concentration in mathematics and research.

Webb was a member of the faculty of Longwood College in Farmville, Virginia, from 1966 until 1974.  He served as Director of Higher Education and Teacher Certification in the Louisiana Department of Education from 1974 through 1976.  He moved to Southeastern Louisiana University in 1976 and in 13 years there held positions as director of institutional research, EEO officer, registrar and member of the mathematics faculty.

He became Dean of Instruction and Graduate Studies and professor of mathematics at Northwestern in 1989.  In that position, he was responsible for campus-wide policy development, planning, advancement and review of both graduate and undergraduate programs.  Among his other duties were chairing the steering committee for NSU’s Self Study for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

He was active in the community as a member of the board of directors of the Natchitoches Chamber of Commerce and as a member of the Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches, the Natchitoches Historic Foundation, the Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony Society, Rotary Club and the First Baptist Church.