Reception held for Bernard, Cockrell and Dowden


The mood was light and festive on the first floor of the courthouse on the afternoon of May 26 as the departments gathered to wish a fond farewell to three long-time public servants from the Clerk of Court office. Chief Deputy Clerk Linda Cockrell, who’s been with the Clerk’s office for over 40 years, and Deputly Clerk Machelle Walker Dowden, who has served for over 35 years, will be retiring at the end of June when current Clerk of Court, Louie Bernard, completes his final term in office. The reception was hosted by the Clerk of Court staff and Sheriff Victor Jones emceed.

NRMC Flag Pole Dedication Ceremony


Despite the rain, the NRMC was able to hold their flag pole dedication ceremony this morning honoring the men and women of Natchitoches Parish who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

Special thanks to the Lakeview High School Air Force JROTC Color Guard for their participation. The team consists of Javonte Mims, Ladarrion Winslow, Lucas Ferrier and Taylor Ferrier.  Buzz Scott  offered the invocation, Roger Williams lead the Pledge of Allegiance, Dr. Bryan Picou sang the National Anthem and Parish President Rick Nowlin addressed to the crowd.

2016 NSU Freshman Connection

By Kevin Shannahan


 Kevin’s Gallery

Over four hundred new Northwestern State University students from all over Louisiana and several other states received their first taste of college life at NSU’s Freshman Connection Thursday and Friday. This session is one of four to be held on the Natchitoches campus along with one in Leesville and one in Shreveport. The freshmen got their schedules, dorm rooms and met with financial aid counselors in addition to campus tours and an introduction to student life groups. It was not all work however. After a full day of activities Thursday, the 30 NSU students who serve as Freshman Connectors met at the Iberville Commons with their groups for some fun and games. They had been divided into teams led by Freshman Connectors since their arrival that morning and it was time to see who the best competitors were. The color themed teams battled in a tug of war and relay races. The games concluded as five thousand ping-pong balls were dropped on the crowd by an airplane. The teams then raced to collect the most amount of ping-pong balls. It was a fun and informative introduction to their future college life and success at Northwestern State University.

Ponderings with Doug – May 27, 2016



Doug De Graffenried – First United Methodist Church, Natchitoches, Louisiana

How do you know what you believe?

The scientific answer is that you have a confirmation bias. You have decided what you believe and you don’t accept any information that contradicts that which you believe. In church life our confirmation bias causes us to point to the Bible. All of our Christian beliefs come from the Bible. Right?

Here are some things we believe and practice that are not in the Bible.

The Bible never says, “God helps those who help themselves.”

Scripture never says, “God will not give us more than we can handle.” Nor does scripture teach, “Everything happens for a reason.” One preacher said, “A sinner can repent but stupid is eternal.” I was thinking about all those things that happened after the phrase, “Hey Bubba watch this!”

Advent and Lent are not found in the Bible. There is no evidence that Jesus was born in the winter. Actually the church “stole” Christmas from the Romans, I’ll let you Google that. Wise men and shepherds don’t show up at the same time. There could have been dozens of wise men, do you know why we only picture three?

Why do we worship on Sunday rather than Saturday?

There is no overwhelming evidence that Jesus was poor. There is also no evidence he was a carpenter that comes from the inaccurate translation of the Greek word “tekton.”

There is no prohibition against saying four letter words. Although preachers are cursed at times that we can’t curse at times. I like to have laypeople play golf with me, that way I can call on them for “ventilation language.”

Most of what you believe about heaven, hell, the devil and angels comes not from scripture but from Milton’s Paradise Lost. Have you found the passage that says the devil has horns?

When you die, you don’t become an angel. There is also no evidence that angels have wings. You can’t find halos in the Bible.

“Cleanliness is next to Godliness,” is not in the Bible.

The first ministers of the church were not ordained, they were laypersons.

God call us to be “our brother’s keeper.” Read the passage in Genesis, it was asked as a question by a human not stated by God.

The apple in the Garden of Eden is not there. The bible mentions fruit. It became an apple because of some confusion with the Latin words for “evil” and “apple” which look and sound similar.

Jesus uttering the word, “grace.”

Discipleship has been mishandled in translation and usage. The Greek word is slanted more toward “student.” Think about that, Jesus calls us to be life-long students. Notice how some groups have militarized the concept by focusing more on discipline than learning.

There is no prohibition against gambling. The Hebrews would determine the will of God by “casting lots,” which is basically shooting dice.

I hope are you reaching for your Bible.

Do you know why we celebrate Memorial Day? You might be surprised by that too.

Keep thinking, studying and growing in your beliefs!

Water Works #1 Distribution System is issuing a BOIL ADVISORY

Natchitoches Water System
PWS ID# 1069007
Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana

Boil Order

Johnson Chute Area within the Natchitoches Water Works #1 Distribution System is experiencing low pressure problems in the Johnson Chute Area of the water supply system. This drop in system pressure below 15 pounds has been caused by contractor damage to our service lines.

Because of this drop in system pressure, the water within our water distribution system is of questionable microbiological quality.

Therefore, as a precaution, the Water Works #1 Distribution System is issuing a BOIL ADVISORY effective immediately for Johnson Chute Area only.  This BOIL ADVISORY is to remain in effect until rescinded by the Water System.

It is recommended that all consumers along  Paul Jordan Road,  St. Luke Church Road, and Posey Road from Johnson Chute to I-49 disinfect their water before consuming it (including fountain drinks), making ice, brushing teeth, or using it for food preparation or rinsing of foods by the following means:

Boil water for one (1) full minute in a clean container.  The one minute starts after the water has been brought to a rolling boil.  (The flat taste can be eliminated by shaking the water in a clean bottle or pouring it from one clean container to another, or by adding a pinch of salt to each quart of water that is boiled.)

Again, please be sure to disinfect your own water prior to consumption until you have been advised otherwise.

Guidelines for food service establishments are attached.

Upon notification from the Office of Public Health’s State Regional Laboratory that the samples collected from our water supply have been found to be safe, the State Health Department will notify the water supply of the sample results.  Upon such notification, the Water System will then rescind the Boil Advisory and notify its customers that the water has been found to be safe.

This Boil advisory does not affect the City of Natchitoches Water Distribution System.

Water Supply Representative: _Bryan Wimberly
Title: _Utility Director

Natchitoches Police investigate two unrelated shootings

Kimaneshia Richards

The Natchitoches Police Department is investigating two unrelated shootings that took place Tuesday evening.

On May 24, 2016 around 8:09 p.m., Officers with the Natchitoches Police Department responded to 500 North Street (J.W. Thomas Apartments) in reference to multiple gunshots in the area. Upon Officers arrival they spoke with several witnesses who saw Kimaneshia Richards, the suspect, (B/F, 26 y.o.a. of Natchitoches) fire numerous gunshots that caused damage to three parked vehicles.

Later that same evening around 10:30 p.m. Officers responded to the 800 block of Clarence Drive in reference to another report of gunshots being fired. Upon Officers arrival they noticed a residence with the front door open and saw several drops of blood on the ground. While Officers were preparing to enter the residence they were advised that a black female had arrived to the Natchitoches Regional Medical Center with a gunshot wound to the left arm. The victim told Officers that she was watching television when she heard gunshots in her backyard and realized that she had been struck by a stray bullet. She was released from the hospital the same night with non-life threatening injuries.

If you have seen Kimaneshia Richards or have any information about these two shootings please contact the Natchitoches Police Department at (318) 352-8101 or Detective John Greely at (318) 357-3811. Do not attempt to apprehend or detain this individual by yourself.
Remember all information given shall remain confidential.

Chief Micky Dove
Natchitoches Police Department

Nicest Place in the South: May 2016



Natchitoches, Louisiana

Bienvenue a Natchitoches! Nestled in the heart of Cane River Country, this Southern gem is Louisiana’s oldest permanent settlement—giving it ample time to learn how to do things (Christmas lights, meat pie, alligators, you name it) just right. From the Old World elegance of its nationally renowned downtown to the toe-tapping bon temps of the annual Zydeco festival, Natchitoches has a little something for everyone. Come on down, we think you’ll find it’s the perfect blend of European grace, Creole flavor, and Southern charm, making it—undoubtedly—one of the Nicest Places in the South.

CarolineDormonCaroline Dormon and the Wilds of Louisiana
Briarwood, Louisiana

Who would have guessed? The little nature-loving girl from tiny Briarwood grew up not only to become botanist, horticulturist, ornithologist, historian, and naturalist, but Louisiana’s premier preservationist and the first woman forester in the nation.

CaneRiverCottonPlantationCane River Cotton and the Old Oakland Plantation
Natchitoches, Louisiana

Two and a quarter centuries ago, one of America’s earliest cotton plantations set up shop near Natchitoches on the Cane River, and it thrives today as the South’s most authentic example of French Creole plantation life.

NatMeatPieSavory and Southern: The Natchitoches Meat Pie
Natchitoches, Louisiana

North Louisiana has been filling up on these flaky and flavorful crescent-shaped wonders for well over two centuries, and now the whole world comes to Natchitoches each September to join in the fun.

DownTownNatAlligators and Architecture: You Don’t Know Natchitoches
Natchitoches, Louisiana

Natchitoches may be the oldest permanent settlement in Louisiana Territory, but that doesn’t preclude it from the right to a few surprises.

MelroseHouseFrom a Few Humble Acres: The Many Incarnations of Melrose Plantation
Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana

Settled beneath the weighted shadows of centuries-old oaks in Natchitoches, Louisiana, Melrose Plantation hums with the collective pulse of 230 years of history, legend, and lore.

ClementineHunterClementine Hunter: Painting Memories of a Louisiana Plantation

The daughter of freed slaves on an isolated Louisiana plantation, Clementine Hunter rose to become one of the South’s most prolific folk artists.

See Original Story:

We love the South. We grew up here and we live here. We have been educated here and we know Southern literature. We know the heat and humidity of summer, football in autumn, and planting in spring. We know the blues, country, country and western, and rock and roll – heck, they all sprouted right here. Let’s dance. is paean to life in the South. True stories of joyful praise.
Southern life is rich and lived with a drawl. Yeah, we have problems like everyone else, but that is not our concern. Let’s have some iced tea and talk about the other night. Wasn’t that fun?

Come visit us and let us tell you a good story about our place. The South.

And bring the whole family.

 Is He a Blogger or a Columnist?

By Joe Darby

Joe DarbyNPJ

Well, here I am, writing for the Natchitoches Parish Journal — online, no less.
Does this make me a blogger instead of a columnist?  I don’t know but I prefer to think of myself as a columnist.

I can tell you this, for sure.  When I first started writing for the New Orleans Times-Picayune on Jan. 8, 1965, if someone had told me that in 2016 I might be called a blogger I would have been quite mystified — and concerned.

First of all, I suppose I would have been glad to know that I’d still be alive and kicking in 2016 but I think I would have wondered if a blogger was not some sort of criminal.  Maybe like a burglar, perhaps, or someone who carried out other nefarious deeds in the dead of night.

Anyway, just call me a columnist, if you will.  I’ve always tended to prefer slightly old fashioned terms anyway.  Again, when I began my career as a writer, I considered myself a newspaperman, or at least a reporter.  A journalist, perhaps?  Nah, that smacked too much of the effete.

I was just a regular newspaper man, who was often sent out at 11 p.m. into the mean streets of the Big Easy to cover a murder, or a nasty automobile fatality, ready and able to telephone in the story to the rewrite man back in the newsroom, right on deadline.

After work, we drank beer with other newspaper men and with cops, bookies, hustlers and other assorted creatures of the night.

The Times-Picayune was then located on Lafayette Square, right in the middle of the old New Orleans business district.  It was surrounded by bars such as Curley’s Corner, a tavern that catered to broken down boxers and, again, newspaper men who could afford and enjoy a good 25-cent beer.

Let me give you a flavor of the neighborhood by telling you what happened to me on the day I went for my interview with the TP managing editor.  I was walking up to the TP building on Lafayette Street when a rough-looking character approached me and informed me that he had just gotten out of Angola and that he needed a little money.

I can’t exactly say it was a robbery, but I sure as heck felt intimidated.  I didn’t have but a few dollars on me, but I felt compelled to give some of the cash to the newly released con.  I think I kept enough to buy me a hamburger and a Coke for lunch — which probably cost about a dollar.

Well, I got the job and although the paper stayed in that questionable location for another two years before moving to a new building out by the expressway, I never again encountered an ex-con who demanded money.  Lots of winos, as we politically incorrectly called street alcoholics at the time,  would humbly approach and ask for a handout, but that we could handle.

We all looked forward to the move, though.  The wooden floor of the old building was scarred with the black remains of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of stamped out cigarette butts.  The newsroom still had the air of the time when it had been built, in the 1920s.

The new building was gleaming and sparkling clean.  After only a few years in the new location, smoking was banned and we switched from manual to electric typewriters and then to word processors.  Finally, primitive computers came along.  The times and the Times-Picayune were a changing.

After the paper made the move, its old neighborhood was pretty much revitalized.  Poydras Street was widened and modernized, with handsome new skyscrapers being built on the sites of the old wino bars.  Now, the “new” building is abandoned, as the TP is concentrating on its online site and no longer offers full seven-day a week home delivery.  Dozens of reporters have lost their jobs in recent years, not just at the New Orleans paper, but all over the country.

So, I suppose online is where it’s at these days.

For you readers who have been used to seeing my column in the local newspaper here, please note that the NPJ is my new journalistic home.  I will continue to write my Slice of Life column on Thursdays.

Some of you may have been surprised to see my first effort for the NPJ, a political rant 11 days ago about the poor choice we have in this country’s presidential candidates.  It was a column nothing at all like my usual fare of nostalgic memories and quirky observations of everyday life.  But I had to vent and the editors of the NPJ have given me latitude to occasionally write about  topics of special interest to me — and hopefully to you.

However, my regular Thursday columns, like this one, will be more like what you are accustomed to seeing from me.  For all of you who have read me in print, let’s continue our relationship and to you who are seeing me for the first time on NPJ, I hope you find these scribblings worth a few moments of your busy time.

NSU Rowing Team to take part in National Championship Regatta

Rowing Team

Northwestern State University will have two boats competing in the American Collegiate Rowing Association National Championship Regatta May 28-29 on Lake Lanier in Gainesville, Georgia.

Competitors include the Women’s Varsity 4+ boat with rowers Jami LeBlanc of Jennings, Melissa Pesacreta of Lafayette, Glory Deaton of Pineville, Holly Smith of Baton Rouge, and coxed by Nicole Plunkett of New Orleans. The Men’s Varsity 4+ boat consists of rowers Derek Donald of San Antonio, Anthony Hunter of Morgan City, Terran Turner and Branden Savell of Shreveport, LA and coxed by Jennifer Simmons of Stonewall.

The Women’s Varsity 4+ is coming off a win at the Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association Conference Championships, NSU’s first conference championship in rowing.

“As with any national competition, it is an honor that we had rowers make it this far and be competitive,” said rowing coach Jason Stelly. “The sport demands a lot and I am very proud of the team this year. To compete against the schools we compete against and still beat them is very impressive and reflects the work and dedication that these students have.”

More than 300 entries from 64 colleges and universities will compete in the regatta over the course used for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

“It’s exciting to know you are racing over the same course used for the Olympics,” said LeBlanc. “It’s a beautiful course with a tower that includes the five Olympic rings. You feel like you are on an elite course.”

The crew members have given up a month of summer vacation to compete in the national championships. The squads have gone through two-a-day workouts to prepare for their toughest regatta of the year.

“The extra work has benefitted us a lot,” said LeBlanc. “Since classes are out, it has helped us in terms of being able to schedule workouts. We have been able on focus on rowing. We are learning how to get past the threshold we need to. Rowing is hard and you have to push yourself when you are at your limit.”

This is the first time Northwestern State has competed in the National Championship Regatta since 2012.

“Our coaches deserve a lot of credit,” said LeBlanc. “They have put in a great deal of time and effort to help us improve. I think some of the techniques they have developed will help us drop our times.”

All participants in the National Championship Regatta are club sports.

Teams to compete in Cookin’ on the Cane June 3-4



The Natchitoches Area Jaycees will hold the Cookin’ on the Cane Barbeque Festival June 3-4 on the downtown riverbank in Natchitoches, with live music by Beau Atkins and Kopacetic. There are $5,500 in cash prizes and awards will be given to first, second and third place and grand champion.

Eric Upchurch’s team Beards and Berber-Q will compete this year. This is Eric’s second year competing. He previously served on the event committee. His family also has a team call Hair of the Hog BBQ, which has competed for the last few years.

One tip Eric shared is to not overwork the meat.

“Many people flip the meat too much and open the lid of the grill too much,” he said. “Especially when smoking meat, heat escaping from an open lid increases cook time which can lead to the meat drying out.”

IBCA Competition

  • Check-In: All cooks must be on-site by 6 p.m. Friday, June 3. Cooks will hold a meeting at 6 p.m.
  • All meats must be cooked on-site without pre-cooking or marinating. The promoters will advise contestants of official start times. Meat is subject to inspection upon arrival. No meat may be removed from cook-off site after check-in.
  • IBCA recognizes only one entry (one chief cook) on a given pit. Contestants must be 18 years of age to participate.
  • Pit Requirements: commercial or homemade pit or smoker normally used for competitive barbeque and using wood or wood products only; electricity and gas cannot be used to complete cooking.
  • The following meat categories will be included: Beef Brisket, Pork Spare Ribs, & Chicken.
  • Promoter and/or Head Judge will advise all cooks of the quantities and cuts of meats that will be placed in the judging trays; garnishments and condiments prohibited; meats may be cooked with sauces, but once cooking is complete, sauces cannot be added before placed in judging tray.
  • Recommended amounts: Brisket-(7)full slices approx. ¼ to 3/8 in thick; Spare Ribs-(7) individual cut ribs (bone-in); Chicken-1/2 fully jointed (to include wing, breast, leg, thigh)
  • Turn-in time shall be pre-set; there will be a turn-in window of 10 minutes before and after. Judging order: Chicken, Ribs, Brisket. Judging will begin at 12 p.m. June 6.
  • Cook-off area is paved, stakes of any kind may not be driven into the pavement. Please enter riverbank from the south entrance.
  • Each team will be limited to one vehicle per space. Motor homes and travel trailers will count as one vehicle. Space is limited at our event. We will try to accommodate everyone’s needs.
  • On site propane has to be in an approved container secured properly and accompanied by a fire extinguisher.

For more information on IBCA visit:

Kids Que BBQ Pork Chop Competition:

  • Check-in time: Friday evening or no later than 8 a.m. Saturday, June 4.
  • Meat must be cooked on-site without precooking or marinating.
  • Meat is subject to inspection upon arrival. No meat may be removed from cook-site after check-in.
  • Age Requirements: Children ages 5-16 allowed to compete. Children must be accompanied by an adult over 18 years of age. Although assistance from an adult is encouraged, the child must do the cooking and turn-in the box to the judging tent.
  • Pit Requirements: commercial or homemade pit or smoker normally used for competitive barbeque and using wood or wood products only; electricity and gas cannot be used to complete cooking.
  • On site propane has to be in an approved container secured properly and accompanied by a fire extinguisher.

People’s Choice Competition:

  • Check-in time: Friday, June 3 at 6 p.m.
  • Meat must be cooked on-site with no pre-cooking or marinating. Please prepare enough meat for 250 plus samples.
  • Meat is subject to inspection upon arrival. No meat may be removed from cook-site after check-in.
  • Pit Requirements: commercial or homemade pit or smoker normally used for competitive barbeque and using wood or wood products only; electricity and gas cannot be used to complete cooking.
  • The following meat categories will be included: Pulled Pork. Voting and tasting will be from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 4th.
  • Cooks must have cooked pork butt ready for staff pickup by 11:15 a.m.
  • Cooks may choose to provide sauce to add to pork butt once pulled apart by staff or may do so on their own.
  • On site propane has to be in an approved container secured properly and accompanied by a fire extinguisher.

For more information contact Jason Stelly at 357-5341 or go online to


Sheriff Jones announces new addition to NPSO High Tech Crime Unit


Sheriff Jones announced the transfer and addition of Detective Amber Shirley to the NPSO High Tech Crime Unit.

Detective Shirley will now assist Detectives Carey Etheredge and Victor Kay in the specialized unit, which includes investigations of cyber crimes, child pornography, bank fraud cases and more.

Detective Shirley was previously assigned to the NPSO Patrol Division.
The NPSO High Tech Crime Unit is under the direct supervision of the NPSO Criminal Investigations Division commanded by Chief of Investigations Greg Dunn and Asst. Chief of Investigations Reginald Turner.

First United Methodist Church Summer Programs

VBS2016_Logo_ColorFirst United Methodist Church in Natchitoches will hold its Pre-K Summit June 27-July 1 from 8 a.m. – noon. PreK students will enjoy a morning of yoga, dance, painting, crafts, Bible stories and more.

The Church will hold Vacation Bible School June 6-10 from 8 a.m. – noon for PreK-5th grade students. The theme is “Walk this Way” and participants will travel around the world to learn more about God and Jesus Christ.

To register contact the church office at 357-8296 or go to and click on “PreK Summit.”