Boat is defined as a hole in the water into which a person pours their money.
I was looking forward to storing the boat in the new storage building beyond Walmart. I called and reserved a space. After procrastinating for a couple of weeks, the day came to move the boat to its winter storage place.
As I pulled out of the driveway, I thought something was strange. The truck didn’t seem to have the usual pulling pep. It must be my imagination. As I arrived at my left turn, I thought I smelled rubber burning. I looked in the rearview mirror and saw smoke and sparks flying from the back of the boat trailer. Unless you live in Los Angeles and own one of those street rods, normality does not include smoke and sparks coming from your moving vehicle. I longed to be a layperson so I could say the proper ventilation word over the sparks and smoke.
The smoke and sparks were sure signs that I should return home. I limped back home. I backed the boat in the driveway by myself. I have learned to back the fool thing, but I need someone riding shotgun. The trailer was parked. I had only one near miss with a phone pole, but other than that; uneventful.
The left rear wheel was not turning and had rubbed a flat-bald spot into that tire. Of course by the time I got home the wheel was turning as well as a wheel worn flat on one side could. I don’t know what happened. I imagine that the proper discovery of what locked the wheel up will cost me some kind of boating repair housecall.
My luck continues, this particular trailer needs real tires. The trailer tires are actually larger than the tires on my wife’s Toyota golf cart car. I have spent a couple of hundred dollars buying a new tire and rim and having the destroyed tire replaced. It is not boating season, it is storage season. In theory, my wallet should get a nautical break. But oh no, I continue to pour money into that hole in the water known as a boat.
I did get an extra boat tire and a real car-jack out of this trailer adventure. If something is broken or needs fixing the proper response is always to purchase a new tool or two. I have a room full of tools that I have only used once, but I am prepared for the next bizarre disaster.
So if anyone knows about boat trailers, call me before I destroy another tire, or discover the hard way that I killed the brakes on that side of the trailer.
The trailer has four wheels;one not working shouldn’t be a big deal, right? Three were working one was watching. Have you seen that happen in life? Seventy-five percent was good enough to get the boat trailer home; I should be satisfied with that, right?
I want to say that we all have our weight to pull. We all have odious tasks to perform. We all have times and situations that stink, but we must show up. We must do our part. We must participate. Life is living only to the extent you are participating in it. Jesus said it like this, “Whoever would be my disciple must deny themselves take up their cross and follow me.”
Yeah, I’m talking to you!
The Cunningham Insurance Group has announced the opening of their newest property/casualty insurance agency, Wilkerson/Cunningham Insurance, in Alexandria, LA. This office joins with offices in Natchitoches and Mansfield, LA to give the group a regional presence in central- and northwest Louisiana.
Kris Wilkerson, a 13-year veteran of the insurance industry, will serve as a partner and lead producer for the Alexandria office. The agency will focus on small- to mid-size commercial lines prospects and personal lines packages in the Louisiana and East Texas area.
Joe Cunningham Jr., President of Cunningham Insurance Group said, “We have been
looking for a partner in central Louisiana for some time and we feel like Kris is the right person to help us establish a solid office there. Our goal is to grow our business to serve the needs of the small business community and families of central and north Louisiana and we will be actively looking for additional acquisitions in that market as well as East Texas.”
Cunningham Insurance Group is a member of the Northlake Insurance Group of agencies, one of the largest groups of independent insurance agencies in the southern United States.
There are times when you have to give politicians credit for thinking outside of the box and this is one of those times. Mayor Posey, the City Finance Director Pat Jones and Assistant Director Shawna Straub have done just that when coming up with a way to fund a new sports complex and fund some needed capital improvements without raising any new taxes. The City of Natchitoches has a one cent dedicated sales tax that has been on the books since the sixties that funds sewer and water projects that has served it’s purpose but has now built up a reserve. The Mayor would like to rededicate one half cent of this tax to fund a new sports complex and capital projects in streets, drainage, parks and recreation facilities, buildings, sewer and waterworks facilities. If approved by the City Council the rededication of this sales tax will be held on April 9th.
This new sports complex will be a joint endeavor between Northwestern State University and the City of Natchitoches that will provide a sports facility that will meet the needs of intramural activities at Northwestern and give the City of Natchitoches a top notch recreational complex that will give the City the ability to draw events from all over the state and beyond. This project will be done in phases and, when completed, will be a multi faceted complex that will provide a wide ranging recreational experience for all the citizens of Natchitoches.
When looking at how the Mayor and his team looked beyond a tax increase to get things done for Natchitoches, now is the time for citizens to start asking how we can apply this same technique to all governmental bodies in Natchitoches Parish; how they are funded, and if we can rededicate some of these tax dollars to more essential uses. The citizens of Natchitoches fund several governmental agencies that receive millions in local taxpayers dollars that have built up huge reserves over the years. In this time where the taxpayers of Natchitoches Parish are at their limit, we need to look at all these agencies to see if we can still afford them or downsize them. None of these governmental bodies should be off limits to review and we are not saying that they are not well run but here are just a few of the taxing bodies for example to consider: the Ambulance service, Cane River Waterway Commission, Library, Council on Aging and Natchitoches Parish Port. Again, when the taxpaying citizens are being asked to dig deep and pay more taxes to support government at all levels is it too much to ask that government at all levels make sure that our tax dollars are spent efficiently and wisely.
At the beginning of this long and annoying process, we were told Jeb Bush’s nomination was inevitable. He even made the bold statement that he would be willing to lose the primary to win the general. And then, Donald Trump happened.
Jeb fell. Scott Walker fell. Everyone realized it will come down to Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Those two had several jabs back and forth about records and amnesty and experience. And then Donald Trump happened.
Now, Ted Cruz is seen as inevitable. He is rocking the conservative base. He is the standard bearer for conservatism. But, it appears that, once again, Donald Trump is happening.
There are multiple reports that the GOP Establishment of Washington D.C. are flirting with the Trump camp and making overtures that could turn into support down the road. Donald is openly bragging about the Establishment seeking him out and supporting him. Could their power combined with Trump’s star power topple Cruz?
Unlikely. Polls suggest that Trump’s unfavorable rating is continuing to rise. The Establishment backing any candidate will eventually backfire on that candidate. Ted Cruz, in not attacking Donald Trump, has avoided the firing back from Trump others received. When Trump did attack Cruz, he was booed at his own rallies.
Cruz is positioning himself as The Outsider. Bush, Rubio, and even Trump now are all seen as potential pawns of the Establishment, the professional political class of Washington D.C., and the more he harps on that, the more he can win the people who are increasingly disgruntled at the status quo of Washington D.C.
To quote Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of The Joker in the original Batman movie, “This town needs and enema,” and Ted Cruz is setting himself up to give it one.
I would easily vote for Cruz, because I know I can trust him to be conservative. He connects well on issues. On a personal level, it is tougher to connect, but public appearance is his thing, and he does it well. How will the GOP react to a Cruz nomination, though?
Who knows? But it’ll be an interesting year.
A critical component of the mission of the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office is to provide quality community services to the citizens which benefits the entire parish. The Community Services Division’s programs support, inform, and engage with citizens and families in our community. These services in turn help build a stronger and safer Natchitoches Parish.
We offer the “Are You Ok” program for senior citizens, which is an automated phone service that checks on the safety of senior citizens by contacting them each day at a designated time. If the call is not answered after repeating the attempt to reach the senior citizen, we dispatch a patrol deputy to the residence to conduct a welfare check of the senior citizen. This program is a free service that is open all seniors in Natchitoches Parish. We also work closely with the Patrol Division to receive reports and feedback from their daily operations to identify potential service needs for any citizen throughout the parish.
Our division also administers the Families in Need of Services (FINS) program which serves over 200 families a year by providing mental health referrals, medical service referrals, clothing and food assistance. Additionally, we provide useful training classes to help foster stable and positive family atmospheres at home. We offer parenting classes, personal financial education, anger management, substance addiction awareness classes just to name a few.
We also support victims of domestic violence through our Crime Victims Assistance program. These free services include individual and group support for domestic violence, personal safety, health and personal care, life skills and personal education.
We all know of the impact drugs have on any community and probably know someone who has been affected directly by drug addiction, whether it’s their own personal experience or a member of their family.
The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office recognizes drug addiction as the root cause for the breakdown of any community and is committed to helping people overcome their addictions in order to become productive citizens again.For over 10 years now, we have managed the Adult Drug Court with the 10th Judicial District Court. The court selects non-violent drug offenders who want to participate in a structured program as an alternative to the standard judicial sentencing. Each drug court client participates in mandatory drug addiction counseling, job assistance training, and random drug screening to ensure they are drug free during their participation. They can complete the program when they successfully meet all requirements of the court and continue to remain drug free.
The Juvenile Drug Court is also a successful program that utilizes the Community Services Division for drug screening and group counseling sessions for juveniles selected for the program. In addition to drug counseling, juveniles receive counseling to deal with teen issues such as peer pressure, teen pregnancy, truancy, and school related violence prevention.
The Community Services Division continues to support the overall goal of the NPSO of serving and protecting our community.If you would like to join us in participating in any of our community based programs or activities, contact our office at (318) 238-7550.
By Natalie Covher
I don’t want to hear anyone say, “There is nothing to do.” Celebrate, support and discover Natchitoches Parish by exploring these events.
Head down river this Saturday to celebrate Zydeco Heritage Day January 23rd at St. Augustine Catholic Church. The event will begin at 4 p.m. with guided tours. Father Charlie Ray will lead Mass at 5 p.m. The celebration marks the completion of the Save the Tomb Campaign. The St. Augustine Historical Society acquired over $25,000 in donations from over 1,000 people to restore “Grandpere” Nicolas AugustinMetoyer’s tomb and place a historical marker that will be unveiled and blessed at 6 p.m. The celebration will give appreciation to everyone who helped. The event will fall one day after Grandpere’s birthday. After the unveiling an Appreciation Reception will be held in the Parish Hall. The party starts at 8 p.m. with Rusty Metoyer and The Zydeco Krush, $10 donations will be accepted. This young, energetic Zydeco band from Lake Charles plays everything from traditional Creole French songs to nouveau Zydeco music. They promise to offer a great show that is suitable for all ages and have been known to make a crowd move. Staying true to his roots, Rusty learned to play the accordion through the traditional style of French music and he is passionate about keeping his Creole heritage alive. Rusty is self taught on other instruments as well, including drums, guitar, scrub board and bass. He has performed with various musicians such as Lil Wayne & Same Ol’ 2 Step and CoretLedet. They create a nice blend between old and new Zydeco music. Rusty Metoyer and The Zydeco Krush are sure to have their audience dancing and passin’ a good time!
Get information and sign up to help kick cancer at Relay for Life’s Kick Off Party on Thursday, January 28th at 5:30 p.m. at the Student Union Ballroom at NSU. Relay for Life was able to provide free services to 40 cancer patients in Natchitoches Parish last year. Help beat that goal by signing up. Anyone can come and learn how to make a difference in the fight against cancer. Relay for Life of Natchitoches Parish will be held April 22 at 6 p.m. at the NSU tailgating field.
Enter to be a chef or show up to taste some chili at the inaugural Johnny Antoon Memorial Battle for the Paddle Chili Cook-off on Saturday, January 30 at 2 p.m. at Prather Coliseum at NSU. The Deadline to enter as a chef is January 22nd. It is free to enter and each team needs five members. Teams need to be prepared to serve 100 people by 2 p.m. after the Women’s basketball game. Three judges will give awards for first, second and third place as well as a peoples choice award. Donations for Peoples Choice will benefit the American Cancer Society. Help raises money for Relay for Life while supporting NSU as they take on Southeastern in a double header. To become a chef and enter a team email Tori Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hear vocalist Dr. Corey Trahan and friends perform in concert with Julian Jones on piano at Come Fly With Me on Sunday, January 31st at 3 p.m. at Magale Recital Hall at NSU. There are no excuses to miss this treat since it is free and open to the public.
Let the people know where to go, what to do, and how to have fun in Natchitoches Parish! Send in events to NPJNatLa@gmail.com
Northwestern State University’s Shreveport Nursing Education Center hosted a ribbon-cuttingFriday to thank donors who contributed to improvements on the campus at 1800 Line Avenue in Shreveport. Students and faculty from NSU’s College of Nursing and School of Allied Health publicly acknowledged the Alta and John Franks Foundation, Willis-Knighton Health System and CEO James K. Elrod, The Committee of 100, Past President Patrick Harrison and members Roy Griggs, John George, Glenn Kinsey, George Fritze and Steve Skrivanos for their assistance in funding new lighting, security cameras and cosmetic improvements.
“Before this project, we had a dark parking lot with no security,” said Dr. Dana Clawson, dean of the College of Nursing and School of Allied Health. “There is no question we are safe. We appreciate the difference you made and we hope you see the benefits of what you’ve done in the community.”
Willis-Knighton has long been a partner to Northwestern State’s College of Nursing and School of Allied Health through endowments that support student scholarships and professorships that enable faculty research, teaching and public service. Willis-Knighton also provides facilities for clinical experience for students in a simulated patient care environment. The Alta and John Franks Foundation is a Shreveport charitable non-profit that supports numerous philanthropic causes.
The Committee of 100 is a nonpolitical, nonprofit membership group organized as an education, civic and charitable organization whose members are the highest-ranking local executives of business and professional enterprises in northwest Louisiana. The Committee works to mobilize the business community to improve Shreveport, Bossier City and the surrounding areas maintaining active interests in regional economic development, education and community relations.
“The Committee of 100 gets grants from different organizations and finds ways to contribute to areas of the community,” Harrison said. “We look for specific projects that really make a difference. This one was perfect. It is beneficial to both higher education and healthcare. NSU’s College of Nursing has always been an asset to Shreveport. In this day and age you want to keep your students safe. We were glad we could help.”
NSU’s Shreveport Nursing Education Center provides the educational environment for approximately 1,000 nursing and radiologic sciences majors enrolled in general academic or clinical courses. The Center consists of the Line Avenue School, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as the Library Building, Faculty Tower and Warrington Building.
For information on Northwestern State’s College of Nursing and School of Allied Health, visit nursing.nsula.edu.
Northwestern State supporters are invited to hear Demon football coach Jay Thomas and his staff, along with Lady Demon soccer coach George Van Linder, discuss their 2015-16 recruiting results during NSU’s annual National Signing Day luncheon Wednesday, Feb. 3, on the practice court at Prather Coliseum.
A buffet-style lunch costing $20 will be served beginning at 11:45 with the program expected to start about20 minutes later. Reservations are not necessary. The event has attracted up to 200 people in prior years.
Video packages on each football signee will be shown at the event, presented by NSU Athletics and the Demons Unlimited Foundation. Guests will receive biographical sketches with career highlights of all football and soccer signees.
Guests will also get an update on the plans to slightly adjust the reserved seating configuration at Turpin Stadium for the 2016 season. New chairback seating will be installed thanks to a $500,000 gift by former Demon football player Bryant Lewis and his wife Heloise. The enhanced seats will require a limited number of seat relocations, said associate athletics director Adam Jonson.
Northwestern State’s winless start to Southland Conference play continued Tuesday night, but while falling 89-79 to league unbeaten Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, the Demons hardly looked lost.
NSU played frenetically and didn’t let the veteran-laden Islanders (14-3 overall, 5-0 in the Southland) cruise home. The Demons (3-13, 0-6) led for much of the first half, and kept making runs at A&MCC to stay within striking distance, getting as close as 77-73 with 2:05 to go.
But in a matchup of two of the NCAA’s best free throw shooting teams, neither lived up to their top 10 averages, and NSU’s bid for an upset was spoiled in part by 69 percent aim at the line, including going just 2-for-4 after climbing within four points.
“We played an excellent team, a very well-coached team with eight seniors, and they made more plays coming down the stretch than we did,” said Demons’ coach Mike McConathy. “We cut a 16-point deficit down to four and had chances to get even closer, but our missed free throws, missed assignments and untimely missed shots helped them hold us off.
“But I’m really pleased with the effort and the willingness to be coached. A lot of teams with our record would be fragmenting, but these guys are pulling closer together,” he said. “I think we’re a lot better than 3-13 and 0-6 today, and we were Saturday at Lamar. Prior to that, I don’t know. We’re getting better, and we’re going to continue to improve with continuous buy-in from all of our players. Some who didn’t get into the game much, if at all, tonight, have to continue to get better so they can help us when they’re called upon. In our system, everybody matters.”
Demons’ freshman center Ishmael Lane had a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
“I’m really proud of how aggressive he was, and how he cashed in when the other guys did a good job getting him the ball,” said McConathy after Lane made 7-of-10 shots from the floor and snagged three offensive rebounds.
Zeek Woodley and Sabri Thompson each scored 17, with Thompson getting all but three in the second-half surges, and adding seven rebounds.
The Islanders got a game-high 26 points and 9 rebounds by Ehab Amin off the bench, with Brandon Pye pumping in 17 as they won their seventh straight.
By halftime, the Demons were besieged by a familiar frustration – a stellar shooting performance from behind the 3-point arc by a Southland foe. Entering league play, NSU ranked among national leaders by limiting 10 foes, including five Power 5 conference teams, to 29 percent aim on 3-pointers. But Southland teams had poured in 43 percent in the first five league games, and A&MCC bettered that.
The Islanders were better behind the arc than in front of it while opening a 44-35 lead. They sank 8 of 18 on 3-pointers, just 7 of 18 closer in.
But with an intense defensive effort and scrambling play, the Demons had the edge for a while, before the visitors pitched in three treys and went on a 15-5 run in under five minutes to climb ahead 30-25 with 6:19 showing in the half.
NSU closed within 33-31 with 3:54 left on a Thompson 3, but in character, the Islanders answered against the shot clock on their next possession with a trey from Pye and started an 11-4 spurt to close the half.
Pye posted 15 points by then, making 3 of 5 behind the arc. The visitors’ 44 percent aim from distance was 11 percentage points above their season average.
When NSU opened the second half missing four of its first five shots, A&MCC stretched the lead to 53-38.
Behind Thompson and Lane, the Demons battled back within 55-48 but another Islanders’ 3, and a steal and layup immediately following, rebuilt the spread in a 7-0 burst into a 14-point advantage midway through the second half.
But the plucky Demons weren’t done just yet, showing resolve as they cut what grew to a 16-point spread back to 68-60 with just over seven minutes showing.
NSU’s biggest problem was the caliber of the opponent. The Islanders, who have lost only to Texas, Texas A&M and Wisconsin, mounted a 7-1 spurt to go up 75-61 and withstood a final frantic Demon surge down the stretch.
The Demons hit the road again for two more Southland games, Saturday at McNeese and Monday at Nicholls, before opening a three-game homestand Jan. 30 against Southeastern Louisiana.
Williams Avenue residents John and Sarah Luster and Bray and Jamie Williams hit the pavement trying to rally support before the January 25th City Council meeting, where the council will revisit Ordinance #65. At the last meeting, the City Council tabled the ordinance that would authorize Mayor Lee Posey to execute an option to purchase the property at 1128 Williams Avenue for a period of nine months. The purchase option puts the City one step closer to building a bridge from 1128 Williams Avenue across Cane River Lake connecting at the old auto dealership building at Washington Street and Highland Park Drive.
The City is looking at this option because the Church Street Bridge requires repairs. In an effort to prevent bottlenecking the town during construction, the Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) and City Council are considering a temporary or permanent bridge at 1128 Williams Avenue. While Williams Avenue residents recognize that the Church Street Bridge must be improved, they fear that this location will be destructive to the neighborhood and all of North East Natchitoches. They petition that the Ordinance not be passed and the option of a lane remaining open during the construction of the Church Street Bridge be chosen.
“We have really pushed our luck on the Church Street Bridge,” said Councilman Dale Nielson. “We are trying to encourage the DOTD to get the project going to fix it. We fear the Church Street Bridge will get shut down and strangle the town.” Nielson explained that, because of how the DOTD funds projects, the City can’t dictate exactly how the repairs will be done. “I really don’t want to disrupt the neighborhood,” said Nielson. “I want the Bypass, but I’m not opposed to a temporary bridge if that is how the DOTD wants to do it. I would love to see sidewalks and bike lanes on Williams Avenue. Everything we are doing now with the DOTD we are trying to put in bike lanes. It is a hard balance between preservation and progress when you live in a town like Natchitoches.”
The residents had many concerns pertaining to the 1128 Williams Avenue bridge options. One of which was the excess of traffic on Williams Avenue. At the last City Council Meeting, Councilman David Stamey noted that the DOTD predicted 2,000 vehicles could use the bridge at 1128 Williams Avenue a day. The residents fear that the weight of more traffic would exacerbate road deterioration. They also fear for the safety of walkers, joggers, bikers and children who frequent the avenue; citing the speed limit and the lack of sidewalks, lighting and shoulders as additional potential hazards. This could effect more than Williams Avenue residents. The avenue is regularly chosen for community walk/runs for charity and exercise.
Residents claim that the bridge would compromise the cultural and quiet neighborhood, disturb the peace on the recreational Cane River Lake and create privacy concerns. They are worried about property values decreasing along Cane River Lake as it may become a less desirable place to live due to excess traffic, noise and access to and from residences.
Preservation is also a concern of the residents. They seek a preservation plan for the historic landscape of the oak alley before any decisions are made. The plan to preserve the oak alley would be beneficial to the whole town because it is a tourist attraction that is visited and photographed often. The oak alley was made iconic when it was portrayed in the film Steel Magnolias. The residents fear the oak alley will be endangered by truck traffic brought on by the bridge. The residents also cited cost, funding and lack of opportunity for public response as concerns.
“I would hate for the City Council to make this decision before all the options are put out for the public,” said Stamey. “There are options of a temporary bridge at 1128 Williams Avenue, a permanent bridge at 1128 Williams Avenue and the option of keeping one lane open with a temporary bridge right next to the Church Street Bridge. The last option is what we did with the Keyser bridge. Why would we want to interrupt the neighborhood and fill it with traffic when we have such a great option that would work the same way as the successful Keyser Avenue Bridge conversion. I favor a three lane bridge at Church Street. The Keyser Avenue Bridge moves a lot more traffic with three lanes than it did two. I think we could see the same type of success at the Church Street Bridge if we chose the third option. After the Church Street Bridge repairs, I think we should focus on a bypass with a new bridge coming in near the north dam. I think this would be a real boom for Natchitoches.It could possibly open up areas for new neighborhoods and new commercial opportunities. We should encourage the State to help us move forward with the bypass. We need something that will connect Washington Street to Keyser Avenue. I feel that this is something that is very important that we need to encourage the State to get behind immediately.”
Let your voice be heard before the City Council meeting Monday, January 25th at 5:30 p.m. at the Arts Center. Those who wish to address the City Council should attend the pre-meeting at 5:00 p.m. In order to speak at the pre-meeting, you must fill out a form when you arrive. Citizens are also able to speak at the regular meeting when the agenda item is introduced.
by Kevin Shannahan
This past Saturday night, the Centenary Choir presented a variety of sacred and popular music at First United Methodist Church, Natchitoches under the direction of Dr. David Hobson. The Choir, first organized in 1941, has toured throughout the United States as well as around the world, performing at the Vatican, Sydney Opera House and Radio City Music Hall to name just a few of their venues. Alto Zoe Blanchard, a former St. Mary’s student, got to perform for her family and hometown while 1959 Alumni Bill Bryant rejoined his Choir for their traditional rendition of Tenebrae Factae Sunt.
While appearing on a local radio talk show this past week, Lee Posey, Mayor of the City of Natchitoches, discussed the City’s plan to put a new tax initiative on the ballot this Spring. The proposed ad valorem tax, if passed, will fund a new recreational complex that will be built on property owned – and made available for use – by Northwestern State University. According to Mayor Posey, the complex will offer playing fields for sporting events as well as walking trails. The Mayor anticipates that the complex will draw numerous tournaments to the area.
Mayor Posey, it is time to prioritize our issues in the City and Parish of Natchitoches. The most important tax to be renewed this Spring is the Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Sales Tax – this is a MUST!
The second priority would be for the voters to support and approve a transportation fund tax dedicated to the proper maintenance and repair of all the roads – both City and Parish.
Finally, the proposed recreation complex is a worthy endeavor and funding for it should be sought in Baton Rouge before we ask the voters to place it on a higher priority than our law enforcement and streets & roads!
According to the City of Natchitoches website, the City will hold a public hearing on Monday, January 25th at 5:30 p.m. to consider adopting a resolution that would put the ad valorem tax on the ballot. The public is encouraged to attend to voice their opinion. The meeting will be held at the Arts Center located at 716 Second St. in Natchitoches.