May collections up over last year for Tourist Office

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Agenda items at the Tourist Commission meeting Tuesday evening, June 28 were routine as Director Arlene Gould discussed financials and visitor numbers. The Hotel and Motel Tax Collections for May were $38,647. With administrative fees at $1,159, the net was $37,487. This is 15 percent above last year’s collections and $6,221 over the projected budget of $31,266. Net collections for the year to date are $150,936, which is 8.8 percent over for the fiscal year.

The P&L Report for May showed a total income of $55,160 with expenses at $37,030 for a net income of $18,130. Gould said the office’s expenses were right in line with what was budgeted for the month. Year to date, the office is $12,611 below budget for its income with $183,375 spent of the $188,499 budgeted amount. Gould said they’re trying to control expenses since the income isn’t there.

There were 492 visitors from Louisiana in May, 270 from Texas, 81 international visitors and 301 from other states. The year to date visitor total is 4,370. The plantations received 3,471 visitors, which included a lot of school groups. The Fort had 1,897 visitors, the museum had 1,297, the Grand Ecore Visitors Center had 801 and the Fish Hatchery had 355.

Art Guild puts out ‘Call to Art’

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The Natchitoches Art Guild and Gallery’s 23rd Annual Juried Art Competition and Exhibition will be held in August. Christine Bailey, owner/curator of Norsworthy Fine Art Gallery in Shreveport, will be juror for the event.

Artworks may be 2D (painting, drawing), 3D (sculpture, basketry, gourds, etc.), or photography. The deadline for entries is July 8 at 5p.m. Artists may visit the Gallery at 584 Front St. or call 318-352-1626 for entry information.

Accepted artworks will be displayed in the Gallery during August. On August 6, there will be a reception at 5p.m., followed by the Awards Ceremony at 6p.m. Both are open to the public.

According to Jo Lapeyrouse, Natchitoches Art Guild President, this annual event is a wonderful time for our community to celebrate art in Natchitoches. She urges artists and art friends alike to join in the festivities.

Northwestern State triple jumper Aaron Williams to compete at U.S. Olympic Trials

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Northwestern State jumper Aaron Williams admitted he was disappointed to not cap an outstanding collegiate career with a trip to the NCAA Outdoors Track and Field Championships in early June.

But Williams won’t end his track and field career without gracing the runways of Eugene, Ore.

The Duson native qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the triple jump with his personal best of 16.10 meters (52-10) launched at NSU’s Leon Johnson Invitational this past April.

Williams, one of 24 triple jumpers, will compete July 7 in the opening round, hoping to be one of nine jumpers to make the July 9 final.

“I didn’t get to end my NSU season like I wanted, but I was sitting around (at the NCAA Regionals), and (coach Wes Miller) said I had a good chance to qualify for the Olympic Trials,” Williams said. “I told him I would love to take that opportunity to compete, and we had to wait and see if my mark would be in the top 24 (finished tied for 23rd).

“Everything was confirmed in the middle of last week, and I just don’t have the words to describe the blessing that is to be able to make it. I’m excited, happy and a little nervous.”

A maximum of three triple jumpers can represent the U.S. in the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro provided they meet the Olympic standard (16.66m).
Williams is nearly halfway to his fundraising goal of $3,000 (raised $1,315 by Monday evening), and the jumper is humbly asking for financial support.

“It’s been a dream of mine to compete at the Olympics, and it would mean a lot to me for people to continue to support so I can make it to the Olympic Trials,” Williams said. “It’s all I’ve thought about since I started progressing my athletics ability at NSU, and I would greatly appreciate any help people can give.

Truck goes up in flames near interstate

A Despino’s service truck caught on fire Tuesday morning, June 28, on University Parkway near Interstate 49. The driver told responders that the two side-by-side tanks store approximately 32 gallons of propane to fuel the vehicle. A large jet of flames shot out the back of the truck as a pressure release valve released pressure as the tanks were under extreme heat.

Responders evacuated the nearby restaurants and blocked off traffic in case one of the tanks exploded before they could get the fire under control.

Propane is an alternative fuel for vehicles that is cheaper than gas and diesel. There is a natural gas filling station on the Hwy. 6 Bypass. No comment was available from Despino’s at the time, as they’re currently working through the situation. A restaurant employee submitted the video.

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The City Council meeting Monday night, June 27, was over in record time, as there were a small number of items on the agenda.

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Final:
• Ordinance amendment changing zoning classification of property at 226 Keyser Avenue for the opening of a car wash

• Ordinance to amend Code Of Ordinances to provide for the waiver of the prohibition of a jury trial in accordance with Louisiana Revised Statute 13:5105

Introduction:
• Ordinance to convey a lawnmower, which is considered movable surplus property to the Village of Natchez

• Ordinance to lease a portion of 560 Second St. to Van Kyzar for 3rd Circuit for $250 a month

• Resolution appointing William “Bill” Finical to fill the unexpired term of Mr. Joe Cunningham Sr. as a member of the Natchitoches Fire And Police Civil Service Board.

NSU alum Barbier grateful for chance to skipper Demons

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NSU president Dr. Jim Henderson, Kody Barbier, Landry Barbier, Bobby Barbier and NSU athletics director Greg Burke

Bobby Barbier said his path to the Northwestern State head baseball coaching position started when he stepped on campus 14 years ago.

In introducing Barbier as NSU baseball’s 12th coach in program history Monday, NSU Director of Athletics Greg Burke showed the assembled crowd in the Stroud Room proof of Barbier’s commitment to landing the position.

“Last week when Bobby and I talked, I was in Indianapolis at an NCAA meeting, and I told him what we wanted to do,” Burke said. “I reminded him four years ago when we were looking for a baseball coach, he called me and said, ‘Hey, I want to talk to you about the job.’ (Barbier’s wife) Kody was with us, and we sat in my office for about an hour and talked about that job.”

Burke then produced a bound “blueprint of success” with a purple cover page and Barbier’s name.

“This wasn’t something Bobby gave me last week,” Burke said. “This is something he gave me four years ago. This is how much he loves this university. This is how much he has prepared himself for this job. This is Bobby Barbier’s blueprint on how he will lead Demon baseball to greater heights than have already be achieved.”

With his wife, his daughter, his parents and his paternal grandparents seated in front of him, Barbier joined Burke in holding up a No. 30 purple pinstriped Demons baseball uniform top before thanking his assembled family – both genealogical and baseball-related.

At times fighting to hold back tears, Barbier thanked his parents, even as he struggled to focus on them.

“We’re bringing in a guy that bleeds purple to lead the B-Stro Boys,” NSU President Dr. Jim Henderson said. “He led them to one of the greatest ERA seasons in our history this year, ranking ninth in the country. He has helped build a team, build a program into something we can be proud of, and he’s done it the right way.

“In the 18th months I’ve been at Northwestern State, I don’t know that I’ve been prouder to bring someone to this new level of serving this university. We understand what those three columns represent. When you can bring a guy like Bobby Barbier to be the head coach of Northwestern State baseball, it’s a great day to be a Demon.”

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NPSO, LSP and EMS respond to Hwy. 486 crash, power outages in area

CamptiWreck2016Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Deputies, State Police and Natchitoches Regional Medical Center EMS Paramedics responded to a single-vehicle crash June 27 at 5:39 p.m. on Hwy. 486 (Campti Cutoff) near Campti.

The operator of the 2013 Freightliner truck transporting US Mail left the roadway for unknown reasons at this time, striking an Entergy utility pole.

Deputies report power outages outside the city limits of Campti and in the Fairview and Black Lake areas due to the crash.

SWEPCO’s website reported 1, 264 power outages in Natchitoches Parish at 9:07 p.m.

Troopers assigned to LSP Troop-E are investigating the crash.

NSU SID office wins four LSWA awards

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Northwestern State staffers Doug Ireland, Jason Pugh and Tony Taglavore picked up honors Sunday in the annual Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s awards announcements capping the LSWA’s convention and the 2016 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Celebration.

In the sports information subdivision of the annual LSWA awards for excellence in writing, publications and broadcasting around the state, NSU captured four awards.Ireland, SID since 1989, won a first-place award for editing the Demons’ 2015-16 men’s basketball media guide, which featured design work by assistant SID Jason Pugh and content by graduate assistant SID Matt Vines.

Ireland’s game notes package for the Demon football team’s contest against Stephen F. Austin won second place in that category. Patrick Walsh’s Louisiana Tech football game notes won the contest, with Pam Lafosse of McNeese and Alex Edwards of Louisiana- Monroe tying for third for their game notes.

Pugh, who is wrapping up his second year on staff at NSU, captured a third place award in the “best release” category for the second straight year. He won for his story “Emotions flow during advance screening of ESPN Delaney film,” the 30 For 30 documentary short “Delaney” that premiered last August about Demon great Joe Delaney.

Taglavore is a veteran announcer for the Demon Sports Network, which the NSU SID office helps coordinate. He earned third place for radio play-by-play broadcasting with his call of the Lady Demon basketball team’s Southland Conference Tournament game against Sam Houston State.

With the two awards he won Sunday, Ireland raised his collection of LSWA contest awards to 27 in the last 16 years.
The honors were announced at the annual LSWA Awards Brunch in Natchitoches, following the 2016 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Celebration, which is hosted in part by the NSU sports information office each year.

Museum opens “Hometown Teams” traveling exhibit

By Natalie Covher

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The “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America” traveling exhibition will be at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum for the next six weeks. The museum opened the exhibition Saturday, June 25 as a part of its Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies.Visit the museum to see how sports have reflected the trials and triumphs of the American experience and shaped the national character over the past 100 years. The exhibition was produced by the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program and is making its way across Louisiana for a yearlong tour that stops in six sites.

The museum has paired programs with the exhibit that are free and open to the public.

There will be a Panel Discussion Tuesday, June 28 at 6 p.m. on the recent vote to expand the Select/Non-Select playoff system used in football to other sports, including basketball. The event will include a moderated discussion of the topic with high school administrators and coaches about the new system.

Let the museum take the kids off your hands Saturday, July 9 from 5-10 p.m. for a craft and movie night. Children grades 3-8 can enjoy an evening of movies, crafts, popcorn, hot dogs and candy. Pre-registration is required, to register call (318) 357-2493 or email jbiddiscombe@crt.la.gov.

Attend a screening of 2013 LEH Documentary Film of the Year “T-Galop: A Louisiana Horse Story” Tuesday, July 12 at 6 p.m. followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Connie Castille. Tracing the history of Louisiana’s equine connections from the colonial period to the present day, the film pays special attention to traditions surrounding horses in the Cajun and Creole cultures.

Hang out with the Natchitoches Young Professionals Thursday, July 21 at 5 p.m. for an evening of Sports and History Trivia. Teams will compete for prizes while enjoying light refreshments sponsored by the Natchitoches Historic District Development Commission and FLASH with a cash bar. Members and non-members are welcome.

NSU Assistant Professor in Culinary Arts Valerie Salterwill host a Nutrition and Fitness Program Saturday, July 30 at 2 p.m. The program will include a Zumba demonstration to get everyone moving! The whole family is welcome to attend this informative and fun afternoon.

Youth work toward tobacco free community

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The “Tobacco Annihilators” Program at the Campti Field of Dreams organized a community awareness event: the Tobacco Free Jamboree.

The jamboree offered healthy menu items including BBQ chicken, a kale salad and a pasta salad. City Councilwoman Sylvia Morrow opened the celebration with Pastor Steven Harris. Community member Kendell Stiller shared his testimonial of how he quit smoking.

Area youth participated in the program, funded through the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco Free Living. They learned about the ways tobacco companies, that spend around $9.5 million yearly in advertising, target youth in America with deceptive ads to make smoking “cool.”

Nearly 3 million middle and high school students are current smokers. Around 5.6 million children under age 18 will die from smoking-related deiseases, unless current rates are reversed.

Local efforts include:

  • Regular meetings
  • Visit local convenience stores and examine outdoor tobacco advertisement
  • Participate in community awareness events
  • Travel to state capitol and advocate against tobacco company advertising tactics towards youth
  • Participate in rally on capitol steps
  • Meet State Rep. Kenny Cox and Terry Brown
  • Create poster to educate youth and adults
  • Share with school, community and faith-based groups

2016 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

By Kevin Shannahan

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The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame held its class of 2016 Induction Ceremony this Saturday evening before a capacity crowd at the Natchitoches Events Center. Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser joined Natchitoches Mayor Lee Posey in welcoming the inductees and well wishers while NSU basketball coach Mike McConathy delivered the invocation and Kayla Terrell sang the national anthem. Master of Ceremonies, Teddy Allen, kept the program moving along with humorous asides and jokes. This year’s class included 11 inductees, including Natchitoches native and former NSU football player Dr. Julian Bailes, Jr., the first neurosurgeon to be so honored.

NPSO Det. Tim Key retires with 32 years of service

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Detective Tim Key retired after 32 years of law enforcement service to the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office and Natchitoches Parish community.

He served in the Corrections, Communications, Warrants and Patrol and Criminal Investigations Divisions.

While in the patrol division, he was promoted to Lt. and served as Shift Commander.

Detective Key started his law enforcement career early, when he was initially hired as a Deputy Marshal under his father, the late Natchitoches City Marshal Tommy Key.

Since that time, he has served under the leadership of Sheriff Norm Fletcher, Sheriff Boyd B. Durr and Sheriff Victor E. Jones Jr.

Detective Key also received letters of commendation and a Life Saving Award.

“We are so thankful for his dedication to serving our community, and the contributions he has made to the NPSO and citizens of Natchitoches Parish,” said Jones. “Thank You Tim for your service and we wish you the very best in your retirement.”

From Austria to Romania, international tour operators visit Natchitoches

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Natchitoches was part of a Post FAM Tour June 24 with 17 international tour operators. The Natchitoches Convention and Visitors Bureau hosted a lunch for the operators and showcased the Historic District before leaving and heading to Shreveport. During lunch, Mayor Lee Posey and Arlene Gould, executive director of the NACVB, welcomed the group, while Katherine Johnson, NACVB groups and special events manager encouraged future tours of Natchitoches. The operators visited and mingled with Natchitoches City officials and listened to Rebecca Blackenbaker, director of communications with the Cane River National Heritage Area, present an overview of the history and cultural heritage of the region. Dustin Fuqua, chief of resource management, provided an synopsis of the Cane River Creole National Historical Park, Jeremy McCormick, interpretive ranger at Fort St Jean Baptiste discussed the history of the Fort; while lastly, Steven Fullen, director of interpretation at CRNHA, discussed the importance of the Grand Ecore Visitor Center.

Over 6,000 attendees from 73 countries convened in New Orleans for IPW 2016. International travel buyers and U.S. travel suppliers conducted a record number of business appointments, which will bring billions in future travel business to the U.S.—and further serve to keep America open and connected to the world. A special thanks to the premier partner, Brand USA, and our local hosts, the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau and Louisiana Office of Tourism, who helped make this an incredibly successful event.

Tour Operators on the FAM tour represented:

Anuj Bang – India
Arnaud Devanlay – France
Ruth Drynan – Canada
Chris Getley – USA
Ribanna Ginsberg – Germany
Lene Guldmann – Denmark
Sandra Hao – China
Iris Koepke – Germany
Ana Caroline Merida – Guatemala
Shane Nelson – Australia
George Nicolescu – Romania
Mihaela Nicolescu – Romania
Karin Ochenbauer – Austria
Hai Peng – China
Silvio Rebmann – Germany
Ed Smith – Australia
Horst Wurm – Austria

Midsummer Jam supports Jazz Fest

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Music lovers gathered near the traffic circle at the end of Front Street at a local restaurant for good food, multiple music performances, games and the chance to support the Natchitoches Jazz and R&B Festival. The community came out and, as the sun set, they danced in the late summer heat. No one let the heat keep them from having a good time!

A silent auction boasted a selection of music memorabilia and other items and a basketball goal offered challengers the chance to beat Rodney Harrington in a free-throw contest.

Music included Cane Mutiny, Billy O’Con and Badd Apple, The Kelli Roberts Band, The Goodlowe Brothers, The Snake Doctors, Jarrett Bridges, Luke Brouillette and more.