Special presentation stirred emotions, memories

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Amid the pomp, ceremony and drama during last Saturday’s Northwestern State Homecoming football game at Turpin Stadium, a poignant presentation during a first-quarter timeout commemorated unforgettable memories.

NSU president Dr. Jim Henderson and Demon football four-year letterman Jack “Britt” Brittain Jr. took part in the brief, but especially for them, very emotional event.
It saluted not only the NSU football team’s stirring 30-27 triumph at Ruston in 2014 to knock off ancient rival Louisiana Tech, but memories of their fathers, teammates on the Bulldogs’ football teams after World War II.

It culminated a vision by Brittain during the winter of 2014, once he found out that NSU football coach Jay Thomas had the ball that kicker Chris Moore booted through the uprights for a game-winning 47-yard field goal as time expired. The game was the first meeting in 20 years between teams that first met in 1907 and collided for a half-century, through 1987, in the storied State Fair Classic battle in Shreveport.

NSU and Louisiana Tech had met only once since the State Fair Classic’s demise, that a close Bulldogs win in 1994 in Ruston. In 2014, the Demons scored 20 points in the fourth quarter to win.

Thomas had mulled options for the ball. He’d had supporters who wanted to pay a pretty price to buy it. He felt most likely, it should find a place on campus for all Demons to enjoy. Brittain came up with the best of both worlds.

“After discussing it, a donation was made with the condition that I would donate it back to the NSU family to be displayed so all can walk by and remember this epic battle,” said Brittain. “Everything came together so Dr. Henderson and I would honor the 2014 football team’s win over Louisiana Tech, while remembering all of those who played through the years in this great rivalry, including our dads.

“That 2014 Demon team never gave up,” said Brittain, “and we shall never forget.”

During the presentation, fans at Turpin Stadium were shown a photo from the 1947 State Fair Classic, showing Brittain’s father running at the goalline for a touchdown while Henderson’s father, Clem, in his No. 68 jersey, trailed the play after his blocking helped spring Brittain.

“We wanted to share that photo with everybody, because they were men who played for, and graduated from, Louisiana Tech, and loved their time there, but as their lives moved forward, both found their lives tied to Northwestern. Dad married my mother and moved here, raised his family here. Mr. Clem moved here when his wife, Mrs. Martha, came to work at NSU, and Jim graduated from here and ultimately became our president,” said Brittain.

“It was a very emotional moment for both of us, to be able to share the story of our dads and present that ball to Northwestern so Demon fans will always be able to treasure that great game in 2014, and future Demon teams will be inspired by it,” he said.

Thomas appreciated Brittain’s vision to make the presentation extra special.

“When Britt told me the story, there was no doubt. Case closed, that’s what we were going to do with the ball,” the coach said. “Their dads were great men, who made a difference in thousands of lives (Henderson was a career educator, Brittain an attorney and community leader), and they each became very supportive of Northwestern and their sons are Demons. Dr. Henderson and Britt have been so supportive of our football program, and everything at NSU. I can’t imagine this being any more fitting, or done any better.”

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Robeline-Marthaville Water System Addresses System Issues

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Robeline-Marthaville Water System, Inc. held its quarterly Board meeting this past Monday night at the First Baptist Church in Robeline to discuss numerous opportunities for improvement of the System.  Two of the five board members were not in attendance.  Several members of the System attended the meeting and heard presentations from the USDA; the Louisiana Rural Water Association; the System’s Engineer, Kenneth McManus of McManus Consulting Engineers; the System’s accountant, Nettles Brown of Waskom, Brown & Associates; and Natchitoches Parish President, Rick Nowlin.

The presentations provided that Robeline-Marthaville Water System, which is 38 years old,  is in need of critical maintenance to its structure and upgrades to its facilities.  The System is a member-owned non-profit organization.  The rates charged to customers for water are determined by the Board with assistance from La Rural Water and approved by the USDA.  Historically, the USDA (and formerly the La Public Service Commission) limited the rates that could be charged to customers to cover only cash expenses, note payments, required reserves, and a small contingency. There are no funds within the System to cover major acquisitions and/or repairs and maintenance.

Members of the System asked several pointed questions:

1.  How did the Board of Directors let the System get into this critical condition (apathy and/or not being informed by the prior system operator);

2. Why is the Board only meeting quarterly when there is a crisis that needs immediate attention;

3.  When can the System’s office begin using 21st century technology for payments and customer communications;

4.  Why does it take 3-1/2 people in the office to handle the business of 477 customers when Belmont Water System has 935 customers and they have only 1 part time office person;  and

5.  Is the System Engineer’s recommendation of a $3,000,000 upgrade to correct the System maintenance and facility deficiencies the right decision?

One option that was discussed was the purchase of the Ajax Beulah Water System and connecting the two systems, which would be a first step in correcting the poor water quality that currently exists for the System’s customers.  The purchase would cost $600,000 and would be funded via a loan through the USDA.

Other suggestions for improving the System included changing the Board meetings to monthly or semi-monthly to formulate and follow a written plan of action; obtain a second opinion from another qualified engineer (may reduce the cost of project as well as provide a better solution); and/or connect the System to the Belmont Water System thereby bringing 3 systems together to further reduce cost and provide quality water to all of the customers.

The members/customers of the Robeline-Marthaville Water System have taken the first step in asking for accountability and action by the Board.  We encourage them to continue to be a positive force to improve the System and the communities they represent.

NCHS FFA Agronomy Team Wins National Championship

By Aaron Beaubouef, FFA faculty sponsor

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Four members of the Natchitoches Central FFA Chapter accomplished what no team from Louisiana has ever done: finish first in a National FFA Career Development Event. They placed first overall at the National FFA Agronomy contest at the 89th National FFA Convention Oct. 19-22 in Indianapolis, Ind.

“Their achievement is the result of a year of training. They practiced every day during school hours and five days a week after school, dating back to last November,” said NCHS Agriscience teacher and FFA Advisor Aaron Beaubouef. “The team also practiced during the summer months and attended research field days hosted by the LSU AgCenter to learn more about modern crop production. The team of Preston Tibbett, Bradley Scott, Dylan Daniels and Brooklyn Hampton are one of only 16 teams from Louisiana to ever place in the top four of a National FFA Contest and one of only five teams from Natchitoches Parish to achieve such an honor.”

Students competing in the Agronomy contest must identify over 100 plant and seed samples, 75 pieces of equipment, 35 insects and how to diagnose plant diseases. They must become proficient in grain grading, seed analysis, soil fertility recommendations, plant diagnostics, commodity evaluation and must be able to answer any question about crop production on a written exam. The Agronomy contest is the most comprehensive agricultural competition offered by the National FFA Organization.

Preston Tibbett was first place individually, followed by teammates Bradley Scott (second place individual), Dylan Daniels (fourth place individual) and Brooklyn Hampton (seventh place individual). All four members finished in the top 7 out of 152 students competing from all across the nation. Such an achievement places them in the top 5 percent of all students that competed. Each member earned a $1,000 scholarship.

“The accomplishments that NCHS FFA members have at the national level are even more impressive when you consider how much of a disadvantage they are at when preparing for the contest,” Beaubouef said. “The students from the Midwestern states that traditionally do well in the Agronomy competition are typically students that live on farms or whose parents are crop scouts, agronomists, plant pathologists, etc. Many other states have professional agronomists come in and train their teams. The students at Natchitoches Central typically have no such advantage; they start with zero background knowledge about row crop agriculture and out work their competition to achieve success. Also, Natchitoches Central’s team had only their FFA advisors to train them whereas every other successful team in the national contest has a professional in the field of agronomy or a faculty member with no teaching responsibilities coaching the team. No group of high school students in the country learned more about agriculture or trained harder for this competition than Preston, Bradley, Dylan and Brooklyn this year.”

NCHS FFA Champs from left are Bradley Scott, Preston Tibbett, Brooklyn Hampton and Dylan Daniels, with their Advisor Aaron Beaubouef.

Louisiana OMV will no longer accept cash effective Nov. 1

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Effective Nov. 1, the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles will not accept cash for transactions. Acceptable forms of payment for transactions will be as follows:

Driver’s Licenses, Identification Cards, & Mobility Impaired Hang Tag Transactions:
Debit cards, credit cards, checks, money orders, and cashier checks

Reinstatement Transactions
Debit cards, credit cards, money orders, and cashier checks

Vehicle Transactions
Debit cards, credit cards, checks, money orders, and cashier checks

This policy will also apply when business partners purchase items from the Office of Motor Vehicles.

All information regarding this policy is posted on OMV’s website at www.expresslane.org. Citizens are also encouraged to take advantage of the OMV online services offered at www.expresslane.org.

NSU Hall of Fame sprinter Billy Hudson gives back 70 years later

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Billy Hudson made a name for himself running very fast laps for the Northwestern State track and field team shortly after serving in World War II.

He also shaped his future. At age 94, he wanted to brighten the future of fellow Demons, and so this fall, he decided to endow a scholarship through NSU’s Perpetually Purple program.

The Marguerite and Billy Hudson Scholarship honors his late wife, who passed last year after a 67-year marriage. They were both career educators who met at Northwestern in 1947.

Hudson’s college career was interrupted by the war. After basic training in San Antonio, he wound up in Oklahoma, then shipped overseas to Burma. His group furnished fuel to Gen. Claire Chenault’s fabled Flying Tigers. When the war ended in 1945, Hudson headed home, uncertain about his future.

“When I was younger, my high school coach had recommended I go to Northwestern, where I’d be a big fish in a small pond. When I came back from the war, I remembered,” said Hudson.

Hudson was a great fit at Northwestern, running for a coach who became legendary, Walter Ledet. Hudson never lost a quarter-mile race in high school, college or the military. As a Demon, he set school and conference records that held up for 23 years.

Hudson was himself a successful coach at Ouachita Parish and Haynesville before spending the last 14 years of his education career in administration, working with another Northwestern legend, John McConathy, with the Bossier Parish School Board. He retired in 1984 and was enshrined in the N-Club Hall of Fame in 2004.

Hudson’s $20,000 gift is the latest to NSU Athletics as part of the Perpetually Purple endowed giving program managed by the Demons Unlimited Foundation.

The goal is to grow the endowment over the next five years from the current $1.7 million level to over $5 million. The program is separate from the efforts to supplement the annual budget for the athletics program with donations, corporate partnerships and special fund-raising events.

A minimum of $10,000 is required to create an endowment fund. Information is available on the NSUDemons.com website.

NSU presents Business Awards

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Northwestern State University’s College of Business and Technology honored two businesses, Crest Industries and Alliance Compressors, with Outstanding Business Awards in thanks for their partnership and support of NSU students and academic programs.

From left are Dr. Margaret Kilcoyne, interim dean of the College; Kenny Robison, Crest Industries CEO; Robert Brinkerhoff, Crest Industries CFO; Scott Robison, Crest vice president; Alliance Compressors Human Resource Manager Michelle Brundidge and Alliance Plant Manager Ken Gardner with NSU President Dr. Jim Henderson.

Businesses were nominated by faculty based on their efforts in coordinating internships, mentoring students, funding scholarships, hiring graduates and providing input on industry needs.

Grammy award winning ensemble Chanticleer to perform at NSU Nov. 1

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Grammy-award winning ensemble Chanticleer will perform at Northwestern State University Tuesday, Nov. 1 at 7:30 p.m. in Magale Recital Hall. Admission is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. For ticket information, contact the School of Creative and Performing Arts at (318) 357-4522 or Director of Choral Activities Nicholaus Cummins at cumminsn@nsula.edu.
Called “the world’s reigning male chorus” by the New Yorker, the San Francisco based Chanticleer celebrates its 39th season in 2016-17, performing 52 concerts in 24 of the United States, 27 in the San Francisco Bay Area, and 15 in Ireland, Germany, Austria, France, Czech Republic, Hungary and Russia. Praised by the San Francisco Chronicle for their “tonal luxuriance and crisply etched clarity,” Chanticleer is known around the world as “an orchestra of voices” for the seamless blend of its 12 male voices ranging from soprano to bass and its original interpretations of vocal literature, from Renaissance to jazz and popular genres, as well as contemporary composition.

Named for the “clear-singing” rooster in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Chanticleer was founded in 1978 by tenor Louis A. Botto, who sang in the Ensemble until 1989 and served as artistic director until his death in 1997. Chanticleer was named Ensemble of the Year by Musical America in 2008, and inducted in the American Classical Music Hall of Fame the same year. William Fred Scott began his tenure as Chanticleer’s fifth music director in 2015. A native of Georgia, Scott is the former assistant conductor to Robert Shaw at the Atlanta Symphony, former artistic director of the Atlanta Opera, an organist and choir director.

Since Chanticleer began releasing recordings in 1981, the group has sold well over a million albums and won two Grammy® awards. Chanticleer’s recordings are distributed by Chanticleer Records, Naxos, ArkivMusic, Amazon, and iTunes among others, and are available on Chanticleer’s website chanticleer.org. Chanticleer will release a live recording of My Secret Heart on its Chanticleer Live in Concert (CLIC) series.

In 2014, Chorus America conferred the inaugural Brazeal Wayne Dennard Award on Chanticleer’s Music Director Emeritus Joseph H. Jennings to acknowledge his contribution to the African-American choral tradition during his 25-year (1983-2009) tenure as a singer and music director with Chanticleer. The hundred plus arrangements of African-American gospel, spirituals and jazz made by Jennings for Chanticleer have been given thousands of performances worldwide—live and on broadcast—and have been recorded by Chanticleer for Warner Classics and Chanticleer Records.

Chanticleer’s long-standing commitment to commissioning and performing new works was honored in 2008 by the inaugural Dale Warland/Chorus America Commissioning Award and the ASCAP/Chorus America Award for Adventurous Programming.

Shreveport nursing students participate in Buddy Walk

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Level 1 nursing students from Northwestern State University participated in Shreveport’s annual Up with Downs Buddy Walk, raising $500 for local and national efforts to promote Down Syndrome Awareness month. Up with Downs is a non-profit support group for families and individuals with Down Syndrome.

“Our students had the opportunity to allocate service learning hours and volunteer for the annual Buddy Walk on October 8,” said Jolene Mateo, a nursing major from Shreveport. “My favorite part of the event was the interaction with such bright, happy, loving souls. I was carrying kids up ladders, sending them down slides and jumping hand-in-hand in bounce houses. It was a blast.”

Jennifer Goff, president of Up with Downs, presented a recognition medal to the group. The students found the experience rewarding.

“It was required this year, but next year I hope to be more involved without requirement and hope to raise more for such a wonderful organization,” said Alexis Leslie of Shreveport.

“The event was truly a wonderful highlight for a worthy cause,” said Wesley Caston of Mansfield.

“The smiles on so many wonderful children’s faces is something I will cherish and look back on fondly,” said Tricia Malone of Princeton. “I’m looking forward to many more years of ear-to-ear grins.”

Early Voting – over 3,000 have voted as of 10/28/16

Early Voting

Natchitoches Pairsh Early Voting 2016

Friday 10/28/16
WARD WHITE BLACK OTHER TOTAL      %
1 399 191 15 605 79.08%
2 39 11 2 52 6.79%
3 38 6 1 45 5.90%
4 41 14 8 63 8.23%
517 222 26 765 100%
Totals-To-Date
WHITE BLACK OTHER TOTAL
1,950 987 128 3,065
  • As reported by the Louisiana Secretary of State.  Shows In-Person and Absentee.

Natchitoches couple celebrates two special anniversaries 

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Dinner Party Photos

Justin Normand and Gary Cathey celebrated two special anniversaries in October at their home on Jefferson Street. J.H. Williams Sr. purchased the Soldini House in 1916, which was built in 1847 by Soldini and Triscini in the Italian Renaissance Revival style.

“Our family is fortunate to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of our family owning the Soldini House,” said Justin.

H. Williams Sr. deeded the home to his daughter Henri D. Alcock upon her engagement to Walter Alcock. The Alcocks lived in the home till their death when it passed to their daughter Ruth Estelle Normand.  It then passed to her grandson Justin Normand and Gary Cathey.

The other special anniversary was the owners’ 25-year anniversary of their commitment to one another.

Justin and Gary met in 1991 and married in a personal and spiritual ceremony in Atlanta.

“It meant a great deal to us,” said Justin. “It was not something that we even discussed with family and friends because of the climate surrounding gay issues in this conservative area.”

In 2011 Justin and Gary were looking at ways to celebrate their 20th Anniversary when marriage equality was approved by the New York legislature.  Since Gary had lived in NYC for 5 years in the early 80s, the couple decided to be in NYC the first day gay marriages were performed and become legally married.

“At the time, our marriage was only recognized by the state of New York and the few other states that also had passed marriage equality at the time,” said Gary.

Now, in 2016, they’re celebrating the 5-year anniversary of their New York wedding, as well as their 25-year anniversary of commitment to each other.

“We hope our honesty about our relationship, the way we honor our commitment, and the way we work for the betterment of our community will help erase the bigotry and hate still directed at the LGBTQ community so that same-sex couples marrying now will feel no need to ‘quietly’ celebrate their 25th anniversary in the years to come,” the couple said.

The Soldini House has been “home” to Justin in every possible way. A list of colorful kin and friends have owned or resided there, including: James Henry Williams Sr., Walter E. and Henri D Williams Alcock, Ruth Estelle Alcock Normand, Lucia Alcock Creighton, Walter E. Alcock Jr., Edna Gloria Alcock, Mr. and Mrs. McKean, Rev. and Mrs. Schutz and family, Miss Helen Long, Harry and Mary Creighton, Gloria Jean Normand, Mary Ann Normand, Jason Johnson, Caine and Shana Hernandez, Tim Hernandez, Heidi Hernandez Greene, Ray Hernandez, Natalie and Danny Kellogg, and more.

“My great-grandparents, Walter and Henri D Alcock, loved this old house very much, and kept it in top shape, for which we are grateful,” said Justin. “They did so with over 100 years of combined service from their two maids, Eva Richards and Elvira Comite, for whom the family holds great gratitude and affection. Birthdays, Thanksgivings, Christmases, Fourths of July, Anniversaries — all have been huge family events here for a century now.”

Around 135 of their friends and family joined them under a tent behind their home Oct. 15 for a meal and fellowship.

“It was wonderful to be able to join our 25-year anniversary celebration with the 100th year milestone of the family in Soldini House,” they said.

Symphony to perform Halloween concert Monday

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The Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony Orchestra will perform a special Halloween concert Monday, Oct. 31 at 7:30 p.m. in Magale Recital Hall.

Dr. Douglas Bakenhus is music director of the Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony. Guest conductors will be NSU Director of Bands Dr. Jeffrey Mathews and graduate assistant Jolie Gonzalez Masmela. Tickets are $10. Northwestern State University, BPCC@NSU and Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts students are admitted free with a current student I.D.

Featured soloists will be NSU faculty Dr. Kristine Coreil on horn, sopranos D’Nissa Hester and Terrie Sanders, baritone Dr. Corey Trahan and tenor Michael Rorex.

“This concert is a great opportunity to showcase many of our fine faculty soloists,” said Bakenhus. “I went to our voice faculty for ideas on works they could perform for a Halloween concert and they gave me some excellent suggestions.”

The orchestra will perform “Dead Elvis” by Michael Daugherty with Mathews conducting, “Harry Potter Symphonic Suite” by John Williams and arranged by Brubaker, “Serenade for Tenor Solo, Horn, and Strings” by Benjamin Britten featuring Coreil and Rorex, “Doll Aria” from “Tales of Hoffman” by Jacques Offenbach featuring Hester and “Night on Bald Mountain” by Modest Mussorgsky with Masmela conducting.

Also on the program are selections from “Phantom of the Opera” by Andrew Lloyd Weber and arranged by Calvin Custer, “The Black Swan” from “The Medium” by Gian Carlo Menotti featuring Sanders, “A Little Priest” from “Sweeney Todd” by Stephen Sondheim featuring Hester and Trahan and “Berceuse” and “Finale” from “The Firebird” by Igor Stravinsky.

Natchitoches Parish Honors the Blue

By Junior Johnson

keynote-speaker-dr-bill-ebarbThe American Legion Gordon Peters Post 10 and Veterans of Foreign Wars J. C. Keyser Post 1962 held the first of what is hoped to become an annual event Oct. 27 on the downtown riverfront stage overlooking beautiful Cane River Lake. The event was titled: “Natchitoches Parish Honors the Blue.”

It recognized the brave people who put a uniform on each morning to protect and serve the people of our Parish, not knowing if they will safely return home to their own families.

This was a day of recognition for Law Enforcement, Firemen, Volunteer Fire Department members and First Responders.  They all serve a vital part of our community and we depend on them every day of our lives. They do not always receive the credit that they deserve; however, this event brought out citizens to show their appreciation.

The program began with the Posting of Colors by the Natchitoches Central High School JROTC, followed by the National Anthem beautifully performed by the Lakeview High School Band.

Dr. Bill Ebarb was the keynote speaker and delivered a very emotional speech on the importance of these men and women to our community. He also gave credit to those beyond the first responders whose responsibilities are just as important in life saving situations.

The current VFW Commander Ted Fowler and his wife Dee, who is Commander of the American Legion, were organizers of this wonderful event, but I was told that Wayne Nelson, who is a past Commander of the VFW planted the seeds and the idea spread like wildfire.

Parish President Rick Nowlin read a beautifully worded proclamation that was presented to all organizations involved, acknowledging the appreciation of their bravery and professionalism in their respective fields.

Brother Steve Harris led all those present in the Invocation and Brother Weyland Gauntt closed with the Benediction.

The riverfront was filled with citizens from throughout our Parish who showed up to express their appreciation for these brave and dedicated individuals. They risk their lives daily so we can provide a safe environment for our own families. God Bless them for what they do.

This was the First Anniversary of what we pray will be many more for the individuals who put their lives on the line daily for all of us.

I would like to especially thank John and Donna Masson of the VFW and American Legion respectively for their kind assistance in helping me get access to the stage where this historic event was taking place.