NSU hires new police officers


Northwestern State University introduced four new campus police officers to the university community this week. The new patrol officers are Officer Macy Coleman, Officer Rachel Head, Officer Sunni Nelson and Officer Desireé Robinson.

Coleman is a native of Brewton’s Mill. She graduated from Calvin High School where she was involved in art and Future Business Leaders of America. She received a President Honor’s Scholarship and an Opportunity Scholarship to attend Northwestern State where she majored in criminal justice and minored in English. She was involved with the Criminal Justice Club and was awarded two more criminal justice scholarships, the Marion T. Loftin Scholarship and the Doyle and Barbara Bailey Criminal Justice Scholarship. She graduated in May.

“I wanted to choose a career for myself that I could be proud of, that meant something to other people and a community,” Coleman said. “I have always felt passionate about our nation’s law enforcement, and I wanted to be apart of this movement to help better lives.”

Nelson was born in Lafayette and moved to Natchitoches five years ago to pursue a master’s degree. After graduation, she worked for the university while taking more classes and began a career in law enforcement at the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office where she “found a passion for helping others and serving the community,” she said. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s in clinical psychology.

Head is a native of Sikes and enjoys reading and outdoor activities.

“I fell in love with Natchitoches for its beautiful simplicity and Northwestern for its small and beautiful campus community,” she said. “I moved here and started school within a year of coming here. I became a police officer to help an entire community one individual at a time, for problem-solving and a strong determination to uphold the law.”

Robinson, 22, was born in Germany where her father, now with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Department, was stationed in the military and she grew up in Baton Rouge. She went to work with NSU Police in April, shortly before graduating with a degree in criminal justice. She intends to pursue a master’s degree in homeland security and would eventually like to work for the FBI.

“These officers, along with the rest of the NSU Police Department, are committed to serving students and maintaining a safe, secure environment for the entire university community,” said NSU Police Chief Jon Caliste. “Our first priority is the safety of every person who steps foot on campus and these officers are joining a well-trained team.”

New Police Officers:
The Northwestern State University Police Department hired four new patrol officers. They are, from left, Officer Sunni Nelson, Officer Rachel Head, Officer Macy Coleman and Officer Desireé Robinson.

Clubs team up to support children in Natchitoches



The Boys and Girls Club of El Camino Real is a statistically proven, outcome driven program servicing youth in the Natchitoches area. Partnering with the club, the Natchitoches Kiwanis Club hosts and sponsors an end-of-the-year party.

Eliza Behrendsen, chief executive officer, spoke to the Kiwanis Club at its meeting Thursday, July 28. She shared the following statistics collected from 2015:

  • Over 861 children served, which is up from 626 in 2014
  • 121 children served daily
  • 15,428 plus meals served
  • 5,812 plus snacks served
  • Two paid staff members
  • Six NSU work service staff
  • Five LSMSA work service staff
  • Two NSU interns
  • 22 volunteer board members
  • 9,221 plus volunteer hours
  • Over 121 volunteers annually
  • 97 percent funding from donations and local grants
  • $200,000 plus in in-kind services
  • .023 percent government income
  • Over 38 free field trips for club members

“We care about every kid exactly the same,” she said.

Magnet gets fresh start for new school year, NSU athletes help move books

Magnet Move 1

Magnet finished moving boxes from the old building on University Parkway, to its new location in the building formerly housing Parks Elementary. Student athletes from Northwestern State University baseball and basketball teams helped move library books, which lined the hallway with a wall of boxes.

Now teachers are organizing their supplies and getting their rooms ready for new students when school begins Aug. 10. The school will host a Back-to-School Bash Aug. 4 at 6 p.m. to welcome students and parents tot he new facility.

First grade is located in one wing of the building, second and third grades in the following wing and fourth and fifth grades in the last wing. A block of rooms in the main building will house junior high grades and elective classes.

“I think we performed very well where we were,” said Secretary Kristen Procell. “I truly believe we’ll perform at higher standards now. I know I feel better just coming in this building. It’s a fresh start.”



When you see a wrong, please speak up

There have been two more atrocities this week, the shootings in Munich and the slitting of a priest’s throat in a church in Rouen, France as he said Mass.
Hate reigned for much of the week and the killing of the priest, 86-year-old Pere Jacques Hamel, was just sickening.

But I’m not going to go on about the violence this week. Enough is enough. Yet neither am I going to write the type of column that I most enjoy, a light hearted romp about the good old days or a look at the often strange ways of modern life.

In keeping with the need for all of us to try to make this a better world, I’m going to relate a couple of incidents in which I should have spoken up for good but remained silent, to my lasting shame. I say lasting shame, because they still bother me today, even though both happened more than 50 years ago. I’ve never talked about these incidents, but as they say, confession is good for the soul.

At Catholic High School in Baton Rouge there was a student, I’ll call him Johnny, who was delicately built and shy. He didn’t seem to have many friends but he got good grades and was obviously a smart youngster.

I wasn’t really close to him but I’d give him a nod and ask how things were going.
There was another student, who I’ll call Greg. Greg could not have been more different from Johnny. Greg was good looking and well built and was a leader of a little pack on campus. He wasn’t a bad kid, though, and he also got good grades.

Greg maintained his alpha male lifestyle as an adult. He became a pilot and I remember he attended our 20th class reunion driving a sports car and accompanied by a beautiful girl who looked like a model.

But, getting back to the school days, whenever he saw Johnny he bullied the smaller boy. I remember one time he came up behind Johnny, put his arms around him and lifted Johnny off the ground, saying, “How’s the little fruit today?”

Johnny didn’t say a word but the humiliation and pain were plain to see on his face. I have no idea whether Johnny was gay or not. He wasn’t particularly effeminate, and certainly didn’t come on to any of the guys.

My shame results from not saying a word when this happened. I should have told Greg, “Hey, man this is BS. Johnny’s never done anything to you. Why don’t you leave him alone?” If I had done so, Greg may have in fact left Johnny alone. Or he may have beaten me up. He outweighed me by a good bit.

Another memory is just as painful to me. When I worked the night shift as a reporter with the New Orleans Times-Picayune in the 1960s, an elderly lady would call the news desk on stormy nights, asking us how bad the weather was going to get. She obviously lived alone and was afraid.

If I answered the phone, I’d be patient with her and try to assure her that it wasn’t going to get too bad. There was another reporter, “Rob,” however, who would pick up the same extension and make the sound of a fierce storm blowing. That was probably very unsettling to the caller. But, for some stupid reason I never told Rob to knock it off and behave himself.

I imagine most of us have memories in which we should have spoken up or taken some action but failed to do so. But in today’s world, let’s try to make sure we do so the next time we need to. Let’s do our own little part to make this a happier world. Thank you, my friends.

Noted NSU faculty member Julie Kane to retire

Julie Kane office
Julie Kane is turning a page in her career as the professor of English at Northwestern State University is retiring Friday after 17 years on the faculty.

Kane has brought national attention to Northwestern State through her poetry. She has written five books of poetry, “Paper Bullets” written in 2013, “Jazz Funeral,” “Rhythm and Booze,” “Body and Soul” and “The Bartender Poems.”

Kane won the Donald Justice Poetry Prize for “Jazz Funeral.” A former Fulbright Scholar, Kane was a winner of the National Poetry Series Open Competition for “Rhythm & Booze.” She was a finalist for one of the major prizes in American poetry, The Poets’ Prize for the Best Collection of American Poetry, and a judge for the 2005 National Book Award in Poetry. Northwestern State honored her with the 2004 Mildred Hart Bailey Research Award.

She served as Louisiana’s poet laureate from 2011-13. Her work has been featured twice on “The Writer’s Almanac” on NPR. Kane frequently gives poetry readings around the country.

“I’m lucky to be a poet and not a fiction writer because I can work on a poem for a few hours whenever I have the time and at least get a first draft done,” said Kane. “I look forward to being able to focus on my writing.”

Kane is working on a series of poems relating to Irish-Americans. Kane, who is of Irish heritage, is going back to an area she first started working on in college.

“I’m going to look at women in the culture, how they were shaped in the culture and the choices they made,” she said.

Kane came to NSU in 1999 and only planned to stay for a year. She quickly began to love the university and city of Natchitoches.

Kane quickly found she could be an effective teacher of creative writing. She found other activities at the university outside of the classroom to be rewarding. For he past six years, she advised the Brainy Acts Poetry Society, a group of Northwestern State students with an interest in writing and presenting poetry. She has been faculty advisor for Argus, the campus literary magazine for 13 years. In that period, Argus has been ranked among the top campus literary magazines in the country.

“I came here on a one-year appointment as a visiting assistant professor. I had just received my Ph.D. and the department head Ray Wallace was looking to expand the department’s creative writing offerings,” said Kane. “I was going to spend the year getting teaching experience and looking for a permanent job. I really liked it here and it seemed like a good fit for me. My colleagues seemed to like me. A position came open and I was able to get a permanent job. I have enjoyed it here because it is a wonderful atmosphere. The students are friendly and my colleagues are helpful and enjoyable to be around.”

Trainers gather at Library for Poke-Walk

By Javonti Thomas

image (3)

The Natchitoches Parish Library is now more than just a place to find your next book to read. The library is a Pokestop in the top selling cellphone app, Pokémon Go.
Pokémon Go is the last development from Nintendo that released in July. Since the release, the game has garnered over 74 million players and counting. Everyone from comedian Jimmy Fallon to Northwestern State University President Jim Henderson is on the hunt to find the next Pokémon.
Wednesday, July 27, the Natchitoches Parish Library hosted a Poke Walk at its location to provide information about the game to parents and give children the opportunity to play the game with free Wi-Fi.

Community Outreach Coordinator for the Natchitoches Parish Library, Alan Niette, said he created the event because it tied into the summer reading program’s commitment to fitness.

“It’s a way for parents to come with their children to the library. Being a Pokestop is a great way to promote library awareness,” he said.
Other staff members such as the Adult Programing Director Martha Uchino, participated in the event.

“It brought out lots of adults with their children. It’s a great way to get everyone out and moving,” she said.

For Jennifer Robinson the Poke Walk served as a chance for her son to interact with other children.

“A lot of people think that just because he has autism he can’t interact or play with other children. This app is really becoming a reason for us to leave the house and do things together as a family,” she said.

City Bank joins NSU Loyalty League


City Bank pledged $500 to the Northwestern State University Foundation to join the Loyalty League of the NSU Columns Fund. From left are Foundation Personnel Drake Owens, Brittany McConathy and Tiffany Chasteen with City Bank President and CEO John Ackel, Assistant Senior Vice President Selma Nelken, Banking Officer Heather Fredieu, Mortgage Lender Kenny Thomas, Assistant Vice President Kim Howell and Senior Vice President Brandon McKee. For more information on how to contribute to Northwestern State, contact the Office of University Advancement at (318) 357-4414.



City Marshal Randy Williams wanted to inform the following people that they have outstanding bench warrants through the Natchitoches City Marshal’s Office. The names on this list did not pay their fines in full nor did they return to court on the court date they were sentenced to by City Court Judge Gahagan. These individuals will need to clear up their fines and bench warrant fees at the City Marshal’s Office located at 373 Second St. to stop any further actions:

Leah Admire, 407 Robbins, Natch, La – No DL
Brittany Berguin, 824 Gentry Davis, Natch, La – Theft
Theresa Carter, 500 Lakeview Dr, Natch, La – Unlicensed Dr.
Quadarius Franklin, 127 Amanda Dr, Natch, La – DP
Ebony Helaire, 214 Johnson Loop, Natch, La – DP
Aquilla Howard, 1129 Hymes Rd, Natch, La – DP
Brittany Jones, 200 Lakeview Dr. Apt. 2501, Natch, La – Theft
Rogerick Kedley, 1318 Amulet St, Natch, La – No Vehicle Registration
Asia McGraw, 525 Myrtle Dr, Natch, La – Theft
Lasherica McVan, 205 Carver Ave, Natch, La – No Child Restraint
Calvin Newton, 728 4th St, Natch, La – Follow Too Close
Klaria Odom, 1124 Allen, Natch, La – No Child Restraint
Elahja Peace, 500 North St, Natch, La – Theft
Alvin Petite, 500 North St. Apt. J1, Natch, La – Theft
Annie Reliford, 535 Scarborough, Natch, La – Exp. MVI
William Robinson, 1011 Allen St, Natch, La – Remaining on Premises
Idella Santiago, 500 North St, Natch, La – DP
Tialesha Thompson, 243 Melle St, Natch, La – DP
Nicole Washington, 7546 Hwy 6, Natch, La – Theft

Trial (T):
Shawn Anthony, 9336 Hwy 1 South, Natch, La – SCDP
Amanda Bailes, 440 Stephens Ave, Natch, La – Domestic Abuse Battery
Latreyvon Durham, 1411 Dixie St, Natch, La – Theft
Vanity Roberson, 218 Rowena St, Natch, La – Theft
Richard Trotter, 515 Fairgrounds Rd. Lot 37, Natch, La – SCDP
Kendrick Frazier, 500 North St. Apt. K-3, Natch, La – SPOM

Red Hats celebrate members’ birthdays


The Red Hat Society held its July party to celebrate the birthdays of members Becky, Celidora and Wanda.

On front row from left are Alice Wall, Pete McCorkel, Lana Litton, Liz Durr, Becky Ham and Wanda St. Andre. On back row are Carol O’Quinn, Cheryl Lofton, Donna Masson and Betty Whitehead.

NRMC receives 4-star rating from CMS


Natchitoches Regional Medical Center was rated 4-stars based on hospital compare data compiled by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
“I congratulate our associates and medical staff for this milestone accomplishment on our organizational journey to zero patient harm,” said Chief Executive Officer Kirk Soileau. “Our progress over the past 3 years has been both challenging and impressive.”

Natchitoches Youth win Big at National Dance Competition


Dazzle Dance Center’s competition team attended the Kids Artistic Revue National Dance Competition in Biloxi, Miss. and came home with many trophies, special awards and $250 in cash prizes. The students received the following awards:

Brylee Guillory – Acro Primary Solo – First Award & 1st in Division
Halle Campbell – Tap Primary Solo – Elite Top First Award, 1st in Division, Highest scoring tap solo for 8 & Under solos, & 15th Overall for 8 & Under solos out of 58 solos

Cayla Anthony – Acro Primary Solo – Top First Award & 2nd in Division

Lora Cole – Musical Theater Primary Solo – Top First Award & 1st in Division

Jesse Foshee – Open Secondary Solo – Top First Award & 3rd in Division

Alyssa Palmer – Acro Secondary Solo – First Award & 1st in Division

Caitlin Hassan – Lyrical Secondary Solo – Top First Award & 2nd in Division

Kelsy Elkins – Jazz Secondary Solo – Top First Award, 3rd in Division, & 8th Overall for Secondary 15-19 yr olds Solos
Feeling Good Jazz Secondary Duet – Makenna Hassan & Erica DuBois – Top First Award, 2nd in Division, & 6th Overall
Little Bitty Pretty One – Jazz Primary Small Group -Top First Award, 2nd in Division, & 7th Overall for Primary Small Groups ages 9-11

Amazing Grace – Lyrical Primary Small Group – First Award & 2nd in Division

Beyonce – Hip Hop Primary Small Group – Top First Award, 1st in Division, Special Judge’s Little Divas Award, & 10th Overall for Primary Small Groups ages 9-11

Newsies – Musical Theater Large Primary Group – Top First Award, 1st in Division, Special Judge’s Broadway Bound Award, 2nd Overall Primary Large Groups ages 9-11, & $150 cash prize

Jungle – Jazz Secondary Small Group – Top First Award, 2nd in Division, & Special Judge’s Fun & Fierce Award

Is There Somewhere – Open Secondary Small Group – Top First Award & 1st in Division

Go Hard – Hip Hop Secondary Small Group – Elite Top First Award, 1st in Division, 5th Overall for Secondary Small Groups ages 12-14, & Qualified for the Star Showcase where they competed for the National Grand Championship and won $100 cash prize

Bank sponsors American Cancer Society event

BOM is a $500 sponsor of the American Cancer Society’s 8th Annual Seersucker, Sandals & Sundresses fundraiser Aug. 25 at the Natchitoches Events Center. The event will have delicious cuisine, live entertainment and a silent auction. From left are Reba Phelps, Jennifer Sims, Lorilee Broderson (Committee Member), Tara McKenney and Gina Banks.

Parish Councilman for District 3 Speaks to The Local League of Women Voters

By Kevin Shannahan


Doug deGraffenried, the Parish Councilman for District 3, spoke to the Natchitoches League of Women Voters Monday, July 25. He started out with a prepared speech, but it soon became apparent that questions from the audience were to be the order of the day. League members and guests asked about everyone’s favorite topic concerning the council-the condition of the Parish roads. DeGraffenried pointed out that there is an upcoming tax election in the parish for financing road work on the parish’s 800+ miles of roads. He also stated that more than 90% of the paved roads in the parish are “failed roads” that do not meet state standards. DeGraffenried stated “What you are seeing is 40 years of neglect”

He pointed out some of the structural problems contributing to the parish’s financial problems such as governmental bodies having funds from dedicated taxes. This leads to situations in which an agency or commission has a balance in its account that is larger than needed for its work, but cannot be used in more needed areas. DeGraffenried also spoke of one of the foremost problems facing the parish- a lack of trust in government. He pointed out that the previous 18 tax elections have all failed, a record that has greatly contributed to the present crisis. Building trust in the parish government is critical to everything from getting the roads fixed to the other functions of the parish government.

DeGraffenried also said that President Nowlin accounced he will hold a series of town hall meeting concerning the proposed new road tax to be held throughout the parish. DeGraffenried invited the audience to attend one of them and to bring a friend.