Parish President Rick Nowlin has announced his intention to make an appointment to the Parish Library Board of Control. Persons interested in serving on the Parish Library Board of Control may submit their name and contact information by mailing it to the Office of the President, P. O. Box 799, 200 Church Street, Natchitoches 71458-0779; by calling Mrs. Lynda Vance, Executive Assistant to the President at (318) 352-2714; or by sending an email to Mrs. Vance will provide all interested persons the application instructions.



Natchitoches Veteran’s Park – A Year End Note

Veterans Park

Out next Park meeting will be Thursday Jan 14 at 3:00 in the Board Room of the Downtown City Bank – we have a full agenda which includes an update on recently completed work and planning for final park projects.

As we close the year, I would like to offer all of our members a very heartfelt “thank you” for all you do for out Natchitoches Veterans community, their families, and friends.

My holiday wish for you:  This holiday season is rich with love from your family and friends, you continue to gain from the satisfaction of helping others and that 2016 is a great year for you and your family.

Thanks and God Bless.

Bob Gillan

True Faith and Allegiance


by Kevin Shannahan

This past Friday, I had the privilege of being a guest at Northwestern State University’s Army ROTC Commissioning ceremony. NSU joined colleges from across the country as men and women of every race and background “…do solemnly swear that I will defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same…” Witnessing a Commissioning ceremony is a sure cure for cynicism and a celebration of America at its best.

The ceremony and oath are short and simple, a rite of passage as old as America that will continue as long as our Nation endures; each generation taking its place in the hard, dangerous-and necessary-work of the defense of our country. The oath is suited to those who would lead an Army protecting a society of free men and women. This isn’t the 1934 Wehrmacht swearing allegiance to Hitler rather than to the German government. The oath is to the Constitution, not to an individual.

Of the thousands of officers commissioned through ROTC, most will serve as reservists; some will go on full time active duty. Others, like General and Secretary of State Colin Powell, will go on to great things from a humble beginning. Most will return to civilian life in a few years, their lives enriched by their service. Located in colleges across the country, ROTC is a huge force for social mobility.

When I stood and saluted during the National Anthem and watched the ceremony, the years melted away. It was once again a fine summer’s day in “…this eighth day of June in the year of our Lord, one thousand nine hundred and eighty-five, and of the Independence of the United States of America, the two-hundred and ninth…” at a small college in Georgia where I was commissioned in the Air Force. The subsequent thirty years have been quite an adventure. I have no idea where my college diploma is, but my commissioning certificate is framed and hanging in my den. Many thanks to the commander for inviting me, and Godspeed Lieutenants Cespedes and Hearne!

NPJ Profile: Dr. William A. “Bill” Ball, Jr., MD

 Dr. Ball graduated from Louisiana State University Medical School in Shreveport, Louisiana. He performed his Internship and Residency in General Surgery at The Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, Georgia. He is the founder of Cane River Surgery Center in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Dr. Ball is affiliated with Natchitoches Regional Medical Center, Louisiana Extended Health Care, and Northwestern Louisiana Cancer Center. He is Board Certified by The American College of Surgeons.

Dr. Ball is a Diplomat of the American Board of Surgery and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He is a member of the Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons. He is a member of the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons and the Society of General Surgeons. He is a member of the American Medical Association, Natchitoches Parish Medical Society, Louisiana Medical Society and many other professional organizations.

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Treated by the best ad-first robot 12-15





Demon fans make big Christmas gift to local kids

12-21-15 toy donation

Northwestern State basketball fans who enjoyed Saturday afternoon’s doubleheader sweep at Prather Coliseum by the Demons and Lady Demons also helped spread the joy of Christmas to many children in Natchitoches Parish.

Many of the 1,244 attending Saturday’s games brought toys to donate to the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office Toys for Tots program. Monday, NSU Athletics officials delivered over 1,000 toys to the NPSO.

Associate athletics director Adam Jonson (at left, above) and director of marketing and promotions Josh McDaniel (at right) delivered the toys, accepted by Carolyn Essex of the sheriff’s office.

Sheriff Victor Jones and his staff have managed a Christmas toy drive for many years to assist families in the parish so that children can enjoy the magic of the season.

The NSU women topped Jackson State 59-54 before the Demons thrashed Missouri Valley 105-79 in the last games for both NSU squads before Christmas. The Lady Demons resume their schedule at home Tuesday evening, Dec. 29 against Xavier while the Demons play the same night in Shreveport at Centenary.

Both teams begin Southland Conference play at home Saturday, Jan. 2, with an afternoon doubleheader against Houston Baptist. Another doubleheader follows Monday evening, Jan. 4, against Sam Houston State with NSU Athletics conducting its popular annual “Chili Cookoff” event that evening.

Renaming of Events Center Exhibit Hall and Meeting Rooms

McCullen Hall

Natchitoches Event Center

On December 14, the City of Natchitoches unveiled the naming for the exhibit hall, board room, and meeting rooms at the Natchitoches Events Center.  A reception was held in conjunction to honor Wayne McCullen for being instrumental in establishing the Natchitoches Events Center by renaming the main exhibit hall, McCullen Hall.  As previous mayor, his commitment contributed to many significant improvements in the City of Natchitoches and for that the City is truly grateful. The three meeting rooms located on the east wing of the Events Center were named the following: Melrose, Oakland, and Magnolia, with the board room named Fort Claiborne.  Mayor Posey stated, “The renaming adds a unique touch to the Events Center when compared to other convention centers across the state.”  When visiting or booking the Natchitoches Events Center these names will now become a conversation piece to explain the rich history around which this community is centered.

NSU student-athletes make a difference in Jaycees’ toy drive

2015 Football-MASH2015 Volleyball-MASH

Before wrapping up final exams and heading home for the holidays, Northwestern State student-athletes took time to make a difference in the lives of local children and their families while continuing NSU Athletics’ remarkable community service tradition.

Led by their Student-Athlete Advisory Committee members representing all 14 NCAA Division I sports, NSU competitors contributed time and energy to help the Natchitoches Area Jaycees donate nearly $24,000 worth of toys to more than 540 children in and around Natchitoches.

The effort Dec. 10-12 included 90 NSU student-athletes who spent more than 11 hours helping solicit donations and sort toys, said David Greene, president of the Natchitoches Area Jaycees, who help coordinate the RADIO M*A*S*H (Make A Smile Happen) initiative with Elite Radio Group.

About $3,500 in cash donations were specifically generated by the student-athletes, he said. Demon football players led the way by raising almost $1,000. A total cash amount of $7,627 coupled with more than $16,000 worth of toys donated in the three-day effort.

Jaycee Alan Pasch, the Jaycees coordinator of this year’s event, said the involvement of NSU student-athletes was a key factor in one of the most successful RADIO M*A*S*H toy drive to date.

“We have never had the outpouring of support from the community like we did this year,” he said. “The athletes took it upon themselves to compete with each other on who could collect the most money at the drive.  It was great seeing them use some friendly competition to support a great cause.  The athletes’ direct impact on the drive was around $3,500 collected at the doors.  We then used that money to shop for more toys to supplement some of the bags.

“Not only did they raise money, but they also were able to really interact with the community.  I saw many of them stopping and talking with shoppers, a few taking photos with children of the shoppers, and some of them even helping folks get buggies to their cars,” said Pasch. “It was a great team effort.”

The RADIO M*A*S*H event is a longstanding partnership between the Jaycees and Elite Broadcasting of Natchitoches and is staged in the parking lot of the local Walmart Super Store, a high traffic area for area consumers.

Student-athletes from all of NSU’s 14 sports were involved, along with coaches and staff members, said assistant athletic director for student-athlete development Carrie Greene, who is the advisor for NSU’s SAAC. A total of 123 hours of community service was performed, she said.

For several years, NSU Athletics has provided over 5,000 hours of community service annually assisting local, area, national and international causes. Last spring, Northwestern State won the inaugural #SouthlandStrong Community Service Award presented to the Southland Conference member whose student-athletes compile the most service hours, with NSU competitors more than doubling the second-place total.

The event also served as Northwestern State’s effort in the Southland Conference’s “Southland Gives Back” community service initiative, annually commemorated around the end of each year.

Public Deems Council Unworthy of Pay Raise; Council Unanimously Withdraws Ordinance

Bedgood 12-21-15

Rodney Bedgood

With a proposed pay increase of 140% on the Agenda, the final Parish Council meeting for the year, and the last one for outgoing Council members Aaron Johnson and Ricky Lacour, was almost guaranteed to have fireworks on par with those held on Christmas Festival day.  While Mr. Lacour was not present for the meeting, the three incoming Council members were and it certainly was an entertaining send off for the first Parish Council under the Home Rule Charter.

After approving the Minutes for the November meeting and giving the floor over to any visitors at the meeting, the Council went into a Public Hearing to discuss the proposed Ordinance to amend the 2015 budget. There were no comments from the public on that matter so that Public Hearing was closed and the Public Hearing on the proposed pay raise for the Council members was opened.  While the number of residents in attendance for the meeting was relatively small, they did not hesitate to voice their opposition to the pay increase. The common theme of the opinions expressed is that the Council members should not look at their elected positions as a source of income but as compensation for any expenses they may incur as legislators for the Parish. Once the public voiced their opinion, Mr. Bedgood, who was the one who brought up the pay increase at the November meeting and was the Council member who made the motion to introduce the Ordinance stated that he never requested that their pay be increased to $1,200 and suggested that the figure had been fabricated by the media and exacerbated by folks on Facebook. This statement drew ire from the media that were present as they insisted that the figure was indeed requested by Mr. Bedgood and that it is the figure that was printed in the Official Minutes that the Parish must publish in the public notice section of the Natchitoches Times. To resolve the issue, the Minute book was brought into the meeting and the Council Clerk read that section of the November meeting. Incoming Council member Doug de Graffenried waited patiently for Mr. Bedgood to finish speaking and then pointed out that the Council members were now pointing fingers at each other and refusing to claim responsibility for introducing the Ordinance.  In exasperation, Mr. de Graffenried asked, “Is this how Parish business transacted?” to which Mr. Bedgood responded, “Most of the time.”  Mr. de Graffenried could only answer, “Oh, my Lord!”  Another resident approached the podium and asked Mr. Bedgood what he was so angry about. After a few more minutes of discussion, Mr. Bedgood asked if the people would like for him to withdraw the Ordinance, to which the attendees responded with a resounding “YES.”  A motion was made to come out of the Public Hearing and then a motion was made to withdraw the Ordinance for consideration.  The motion passed unanimously and the crowd erupted in applause.

The rest of the meeting included voting to submit an LGAP grant application for additional full-depth asphalt patching work on roads throughout the Parish; awarding bid contracts for the 2016 fiscal year; authorizing the Parish President to enter into a new lease for the compactor station located on Eight Mile Loop; and authorizing the Parish President to enter into Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with the Natchitoches Genealogical & Historical Association to relocate their library from the second floor of the Old Courthouse to the first floor.

Due to the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, the January Council meeting will be held on January 11, 2016 after the swearing in ceremony for the new Council members.

The Right Coach


Joe Cunningham, III

In teaching, you get asked to do a lot of things and you get to volunteer to do a lot of things. Here recently, I was asked if I wanted to help with my school’s basketball team. Given how much I like a lot of the kids on both the high school and middle school boys teams and, given how much I enjoy spending time with the coaches of those teams, I jumped at the opportunity.

The reason I enjoy hanging out with the coaches at my school is because there is something you can learn watching how different coaches approach the sport they are involved in. I’ve seen a lot of coaches both through various jobs in journalism and my job as a teacher. The best coaches, inevitably, are the ones who do three things and do them sometimes at the expense of victory.

The first thing every good coach does is establish a relationship with a player that goes beyond just being a coach. He or she is involved with your education, making sure you are focusing on your grades and communicating with both your parents and your teachers when there is a problem. They are as much a teacher as a coach, making sure you are getting the important things done before you step onto the court. If a player isn’t taking care of his grades, a good coach won’t try to get the grade fixed, but will keep them off the court in order to motivate them.

A good coach isn’t just a player’s coach when it comes to a sport, but when it comes to life. Teaching the kids not just how to shoot a basketball or carry a football down the field isn’t enough. They also teach life skills. One of the most interesting things about my school’s team is that all the kids are talented, but none of them are the type of person whose attitude stinks but you keep around because they are so good.

I’ve worked with several of our school’s athletes in studying for tests, editing papers, and just giving them a place to work quietly after school, and in interacting with them, it’s very obvious each of them is determined to succeed outside of the court or field. This is a testament to the coaching staff we have at our school, as well as schools across the state.

The final thing that good coaches do is make sacrifices when the situation calls for it. If an athlete has a poor grade or a bad attitude, then a good coach will bench them no matter how good they are. It could lead to a loss if you have to bench your best player, but this makes it clear to athletes that being good at sports can be a temporary part of life, but being a successful person can last a lifetime. The right coaching is focused entirely on making a kid a better person.

If a coach does all of this, then the final product (whether it’s a season of wins or losses) will be kids who are prepared to handle life, not just handle a ball.

Ponderings with Doug – December 18, 2015

dougthumbSunday I was preaching. For some reason, which eludes me now, I made reference to seeing a truck on the Interstate. It was a very specific truck which I followed all the way to Alexandria. I was in hopes the truck would exit in Alexandria and I could continue my pursuit. The truck was a Blue Bell ice cream truck.

I have missed Blue Bell for all these weeks. I had friends who had stored up the ice cream and even they had run out of their private supply of Blue Bell. One of the important Christmas traditions around my house involves Blue Bell Peppermint Ice cream. I am still hoping the tradition will happen this year.

There have been whispers of a map that reveals when various regions of the southern United States will be supplied with the heavenly ice cream treat. I have consulted the maps.

I followed the truck in hopes that there was some early distribution of the holy ice cream. No such luck. That truck blew through Alexandria completely.

For some reason this seemed germane to the sermon on Sunday. Actually it works for this article too. We are living in that anticipation time. I am waiting for Blue Bell to arrive in the grocery stores of Natchitoches.

Children are awaiting the arrival of Santa and the goodies he will bring. Adults are awaiting the arrival of Christmas family guests especially those grandchildren. Methodist preachers are anticipating Christmas Eve services at five and seven, because the church is filled with Children of God bathed in candlelight. The world is awaiting redemption. The only way things will get better in our world is Jesus. Jesus living in the lives of His children. Jesus returning to bring history to a conclusion. We are told that even creation is groaning for the day of redemption. Jesus is the antidote to the darkness in our world.

We are all waiting on something.

So the Blue Bell ice cream truck reminded me of anticipation and I mentioned following it in the sermon on Sunday. When the sermon was over, we had a couple of worship songs before the benediction. As we were singing a little boy walked down the aisle and stood beside me. He had a question.

“Preacher, do you know when the Blue Bell ice cream truck is coming here?” It was the best part of a really great Sunday morning.

That is a great theological question. It is a question of anticipation and hope. Are you feeling anticipation and hope? Is the excitement of Christmas anticipation building for you?

The Blue Bell ice cream truck will be in Natchitoches on December 21st.

Merry Christmas.

Kiwanis Club Shoe pick-up

Shoe drive

Heather Martin, Mike Fox, LaCarsha Babers and Annette Sterling-Roque

Saturday, December 12, 2015 the Kiwanis Club of Natchitoches, LA, Inc. delivered 74 bags of shoes (1,850 pairs) to be sent to Third World Countries.  Thanks to the citizens of Natchitoches, NSU Middle Lab School, and Natchitoches Central Key Club who collected and donated shoes for this service project.

We still have more shoes to collect as we need an additional 26 bags of shoes (650 pairs) to complete the service project.

As we continue in the Holiday Season we ask that you search your closet for new and/or slightly worn shoes that you could contribute to this service project and drop them off at Waskom Brown & Associates, Bank of Montgomery, City Bank and Trust Co or Sabine State Bank.

Again, thank you for your support of this Kiwanis Club of Natchitoches, LA, Inc. Service Project.

shoesNSU Middle Lab


Demon basketball advance

12_20 Zeek Woodley.jpg

After a break for final exams, the Northwestern State Demons basketball team has its own final fall test Saturday afternoon when Missouri Valley’s Vikings visit Prather Coliseum for a  2 p.m. contest that is the back end of a doubleheader with the Lady Demons hosting Jackson State at noon.

Fans can get a $5 general admission ticket if they bring an unwrapped toy to donate to the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office Toys for Tots program.

The doubleheader is the last competition for both teams until Dec. 29, when the Lady Demons host Xavier while the Demons go to Centenary. That’s the last non-conference action of the season for the NSU squads, who open Southland Conference play at home Jan. 2 in an afternoon doubleheader against Houston Baptist.

The Demons haven’t played since a 75-62 loss last Tuesday (Dec. 8) at No. 16-ranked Baylor, a game that showcased significant progress for a squad that played six times in 15 days following the shocking loss of senior point guard Jalan West to a knee injury in the Nov. 13 season opener at Ole Miss.

“We’ve had time, between final exams, to have individual workouts and also practice as a team, and work on the areas of defense and rebounding that we have to improve upon,” said veteran coach Mike McConathy. “We’re making progress. We have a lot of ground to cover, but we’ve gotten good work done this month since we got back from Arkansas (a Dec. 1 loss).”

The Demons have the nation’s eighth-ranked scorer, junior swingman Zeek Woodley, who is averaging 23.8 points per game. Freshman center Ishmael Lane is scoring 12.4 per game while junior guard Sabri Thompson has a 10.0 average.

NSU (1-7), with losses to nationally-ranked Arizona and Baylor, Auburn, Arkansas and Ole Miss in a demanding early slate, rank fourth nationally with their 78.5 percent team free throw shooting rate. Woodley leads the way at 91.3 percent (42-46), 18th in the country.

Missouri Valley (5-6) visits Natchitoches for the sixth time since 2009. The Demons beat the Vikings 87-76 last Nov. 29. NSU assistant coach Jeff Moore is a Missouri Valley College alumnus.

NSU ROTC commissions new officers

Northwestern State University’s Department of Military Science commissioned two graduating ROTC cadets as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army Friday in conjunction with fall commencement.  Alejandro M. Cespedes of Fort Polk and Coleman Hearne of Bossier City were recognized during a ceremony that included the administration of oaths, a pinning ceremony, first salutes and the presentation of gifts.

Cespedes was commissioned as an Army Aviation Officer.  He graduated from NSU with two degrees, a Bachelor of Arts in history and a Bachelor of Science in general studies, with an overall grade point average of 3.95. He plans to pursue a Master of Science degree in homeland security at NSU.

Cespedes enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve in 2011 and joined the Demon Battalion in 2014.  He became a contracted cadet through the Simultaneous Membership Program where he served with the 303rd Quartermaster Company in Lake Charles.  While at NSU, he served as the Cadet Company Commander and participated in the 2015 Ranger Challenge.

Hearne commissioned as an officer in the Louisiana National Guard and will serve as a military policeman.  He graduated from NSU with a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice and plans to pursue a Master of Science degree in homeland security and a career in law enforcement.

Hearne is a native of Blanchard and enlisted in the Louisiana National Guard in 2009 and joined the Demon Battalion in 2011.  In 2011, he was nominated for Soldier of the Year for the 773rd Military Police Battalion.  In 2012, he reclassified as a military policeman.  While in the ROTC program, he served as the Battalion Signal and Communications Officer.

Colonel Brian P. Sullivan, Chief of Staff of the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, was guest speaker at the commissioning ceremony.

Commissioned Officers

ROTC Cadets Coleman Hearne of Bossier City and Alejandro Cespedes of Fort Polk were commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army in conjunction with fall commencement ceremonies at Northwestern State University Friday. The new officers plan to pursue graduate degrees through NSU’s homeland security program.