Cheers to a New Year

By Corey Poole

New Years is right around the corner and whether you’re drinking to celebrate the upcoming year or forget the last one, there’s never a lack of choices.

Let’s face it, there are a lot of people who are completely unhappy with 2016 and are ready for it to finally be over. We lost a lot of talented people including Carrie Fisher, David Bowie, Prince, Zsa Zsa Gabor, George Michael, Florence Henderson, Leon Russell and Alan Rickman. Harry Potter and Star Wars fans are devastated.

Let’s not even get into the Presidential Election. There’s plenty of other headline stories that made 2016 a year to hate including the Disney gator attack, the death of Harambe at the Cincinnati Zoo, the Orlando nightclub shooting, the Bastille Day terrorist attack in France, police shootings across the country and many more.

As a journalist I try to stay up-to-date on everything that happens in our country and international events abroad. With the amount of negativity in our news feeds, I thought it would be appropriate to offer up some libation suggestions in case you’re looking to try something new to ring in 2017.

For those of you, like myself, who aren’t champagne fans here’s a few options:

My personal favorite, this Cabernet Sauvignon is big and bold in style. With the motto “Devour Life,” this wine offers intense, dark fruit aromas and a deep inky color. Be prepared for stained lips and tongue. Not to be gruesome, but its color and thickness can be likened to blood.

A plush, velvety mouthfeel frames rich flavors of dark berries, coffee, mocha and toasted oak, all backed by a distinctive smoothness and a lingering, silky finish.

19 Crimes:
A friend of mine introduced me to this Red Blends a few nights ago. Nineteen crimes turned criminals into colonists. Upon conviction British rogues guilty of at least one of the 19 crimes were sentenced to live in Australia, rather than death. This punishment by “transportation” began in 1783 and many of the lawless died at sea. For the rough-hewn prisoners who made it to shore, a new world awaited. As pioneers in a frontier penal colony, they forged a new country and new lives, brick by brick.

This wine celebrates the rules they broke and the culture they built. It bears the same traits as those banished to Australia. Defiant by nature, bold in character. Always uncompromising. It’s a taste you’ll never forget.


Kung Fu Girl Riesling:
While I’m not a fan of white wines, this Riesling stood out to me. I first tried it while on vacation in California two summers ago with my children and my parents. My father and I picked a random bottle of wine off the menu at a restaurant. We were looking for something to compliment the superb clam chowder the restaurant served. When I traveled down south to see my family for Thanksgiving this year, my father had a bottle of Kung Fu Girl Riesling for us to share.

This wine has flavors of white stone fruit, white peach and apricot with a cool and delicious aroma. Think Fuji apple, shiro plum, lime leaves, with a very long, minerally finish.


Acting NSU President discusses his new role and future of university

chris-maggioDr. Chris Maggio will officially step into his appointment as Acting President of Northwestern State University Jan. 1.

“I look forward to continuing and expanding the interaction that I have maintained over the years with our outstanding and creative students,” he said as he prepares for the start of a new semester. “It’s extremely rewarding to see students succeed in the classroom and in numerous other activities that reflect their passions and talents.”

Maggio says he takes great pleasure in the academic achievements of NSU students and in their accomplishments in student government, Creative and Performing Arts, Athletics, academic competition in speech, debate, computer information systems, student research and numerous other activities that enrich their experience at the university.

“It will be especially exciting to collaborate and work more closely with the university’s extraordinary faculty and staff,” said Maggio. “The commitment of Northwestern’s faculty members to the academic success of students is exceptional and is the very foundation for the strength and stability of the university.”

Northwestern has dedicated, highly-skilled staff members in every facet of the school’s operations, and Maggio looks forward to working with them, striving to make the university even greater in the months ahead.

A major initiative during the Spring semester will be continuing preparations for a visit to the campus in March by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges. All universities must seek reaffirmation of accreditation every 10 years, and NSU’s reaffirmation visit will be in the spring semester.

“A number of faculty and staff members have been engaged in preparations for this visit for months now,” said Maggio. “They have paved the way for what we expect to be a very successful reaffirmation process.”

The university is also finalizing its Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) that focuses on its overall improvement. The plan will emphasize Experiential Learning through research and special projects, internships, artistic performances and other experiences that enhance educational opportunities for undergraduate students.

“I also plan to devote increased attention to capital projects and improvement of the physical plant on the main campus at Natchitoches and other campuses,” said Maggio. “Some are already under way, and others are in planning stages.”

Projects include:

Renovating Varnado Hall, which is a priority, because the university needs additional housing to continue growth in enrollment

A new coffee shop for the Shreveport campus

Maggio plans to lead discussions on the development of a new academic building to replace Kyser Hall, which has become inadequate to meet the university’s academic and technology needs.

In his two years as president of NSU Dr. Jim Henderson helped create an atmosphere of optimism and excitement through new and enhanced academic programs, expanded experiences for students, improvements in the physical plant and other advancements.

“Everyone associated with the university is indebted to him for his vision and energy in revitalizing the school,” said Maggio. “We look forward to working with him in his new role as president of the University of Louisiana System which governs NSU and eight other universities. Dr. Henderson was at the forefront of the development of a Strategic Plan here that focuses on Academic Excellence, Athletic Prominence, Market Responsiveness, the Student Experience, and Community Enrichment. That plan will serve as a blueprint for the university’s future growth and development. His goal was to make NSU the nation’s premier regional university, and I look forward to leading efforts with faculty and staff, students, alumni, business and industry, community partners and other stakeholders to achieve that goal.”

Natchitoches Entergy customers among Parishes slated to receive refund, rate reduction in January


Natchitoches Parish is one of many in Louisiana in which Entergy customers will receive over $70 million in refunds on their January bill and an ongoing $9.4 million rate reduction as part of an agreement involving the cost to replace steam generators at the Waterford 3 nuclear plant.

The Louisiana Public Service Commission approved the agreement at its Dec. 21 meeting held in Kenner.

Although Entergy Louisiana and Entergy Gulf States Louisiana combined to form a single utility in 2015, only customers living in areas that were served by the former Entergy Louisiana company will receive a one-time refund and ongoing rate reduction. Typical residential customers using 1,000 kWh per month will receive a one-time refund of $37.73 on their January bill as well as an ongoing rate reduction of $0.43 per month.

“This settlement represents good news for our customers and resolves a long-standing issue for our company,” said Phillip May, president and CEO of Entergy Louisiana.

All Entergy Louisiana customers living in the following parishes will receive the refund and rate reduction: Assumption, Avoyelles, Bienville, Bossier, Caldwell, Catahoula, Claiborne, Concordia, East Carroll, Franklin, Grant, Jackson, Jefferson, LaSalle, Lafourche, Lincoln, Livingston, Madison, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Plaquemines, Red River, Richland, Sabine, St. John the Baptist, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Tensas, Terrebonne, Union, Vernon, Washington, Webster, West Carroll and Winn.

St. Mary’s student to air on America’s Funniest Videos


St. Mary’s student Katelyn Yopp and Jason Parker, her uncle/dance partner, will be featured on America’s Funniest Videos Sunday night, Jan. 1 at 6 p.m.
Katelyn and Jason won first place at the school’s “Dancing With The Tigers 2016” fundraising event. They put in many hours of practice and hard work preparing for that competition. Katelyn was born to dance, but it is safe to say she did not inherit those dancing abilities from her Uncle Jason. While Katelyn was teaching him some smooth moves, a video was made of some bloopers and flops… so to speak. The video was sent to America’s Funniest Videos, and will be aired Sunday. Tiger fans can tune in and see Katelyn “flip” her way into stardom with a lot of help from her uncle Jason!!!!!

‘Rising Star’ lawyers recognized by national publication


Michael Antoon and his wife Alyson Vamvoras-Antoon were nominated and chosen as 2017 “Rising Stars.” by Louisiana Super Lawyers. Only 5 percent of attorneys in Louisiana receive this honor.

“I am honored to be designated as a Rising Star in the legal community by Super Lawyers,” said Michael. “I am even more proud that Super Lawyers also bestowed this honor on my wife, Alyson. We appreciate those colleagues who nominated us for the selection process.”

Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from over 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Super Lawyers requires two nominations from colleagues, independent research and evaluation based on relevant metrics, and is peer reviewed. The result is a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of exceptional attorneys.

“Practicing law is a means to help others and to effect needed positive societal changes,” said Michael. “I’m not sure that I would be happy in any other line of work.”

Michael attended Law School at Southern University Law Center from 2007-2010 where he received his juris doctor. He currently works as a trial attorney practicing with Vamvoras, Schwartzberg & Associates LLC in Lake Charles. Alyson is a solo-practitioner at Antoon Law Firm LLC in Lake Charles. She handles a variety of cases including child custody, criminal defense, personal injury and animal-related cases. She is also a certified family and divorce mediator.

Michael was born and raised in Natchitoches.  He attended Natchitoches Central High School and graduated in 2002. He attended Northwestern State University from 2002-2007 where he obtained a bachelors in business administration. Both of his parents, Johnny and Merle Antoon, and his sister, Danielle Cobb, are graduates of NSU.

“Natchitoches is truly a special place,” he said. “My Facebook newsfeed is routinely inundated with posts of pictures of old friends returning with their significant others and new-born children to enjoy the Christmas lights, fireworks, and other various festivities that occur throughout the year. Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to stay in Natchitoches after high school or college but those that leave do so carrying the fondest of memories and experiences that serve as the cornerstones of their character. Also, you just can’t beat the people.”


Folk Festival gets NEA grant

folk-fest-2017Northwestern State University’s Louisiana Folklife Center will receive a $10,000 Challenge America grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support the 38th annual event.  The NEA approved more than $30 million in grants as part of the group’s first major funding announcement for fiscal year 2017. The Challenge America category supports primarily small and mid-sized organizations for projects that extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations—those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics or disability.

“We are deeply honored that the Festival has received a Challenge America award from the National Endowment for the Arts,” said Dr. Shane Rasmussen, director of the Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival. “This year’s Festival will be a fun filled, educational event that will highlight some of the finest folk music, food, crafts and cultural traditions in Louisiana.”

“The arts are for all of us, and by supporting organizations such as Northwestern State University’s Louisiana Folklife Center, the National Endowment for the Arts is providing more opportunities for the public to engage with the arts,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Whether in a theater, a town square, a museum or a hospital, the arts are everywhere and make our lives richer.”

The 38th annual Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival will be held on July 14-15, 2017 in air-conditioned Prather Coliseum on the Northwestern State University campus in Natchitoches, Louisiana. The 2017 Festival theme is “Keeping Tradition Alive!” In addition to the annual Louisiana State Fiddle Championship which will be held in the Magale Recital Hall on the afternoon of July 15, performers will present a variety of styles of music ranging from country, Cajun, zydeco, gospel, bluegrass and blues.

Artists will include Cajun music with Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys and Ray Abshire and Friends, Zydeco with Geno Delafose and French Rockin’ Boogie and Gerard Delafose and the Zydeco Gators, Texas Swing with the Caddo Creek Band, traditional mariachi music with Mariachi Jalisco US, blues with Hezekiah Early and the Houserockers and the Wayne “Blue” Burns Band, a traditional Easter Rock celebration, country with Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue, Natchitoches favorite Ed Huey, bluegrass with the Clancey Ferguson Band, French Creole la la music with Goldman Thibodeaux and the Lawtell Playboys and many more.

The 2017 Festival will also include a Cajun accordion workshop led by Ray Abshire and Steve Riley. With three music stages, Cajun dance lessons, narrative sessions, folk foods, traditional crafts persons and exhibits and Kidfest, the Festival audience will be greatly edified, enlightened and entertained at the 38th annual Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival, Rasmussen said.

The Louisiana Folklife Center was established at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana to identify, document, and present Louisiana’s cultural and folk traditions and to provide public access to this material via the Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival.

For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, visit For more information contact, call (318) 357-4332, or check out the Louisiana Folklife Center on Facebook.

Recreation Dept. seeks participation in ‘Own Your Own Health’ Challenge

The City of Natchitoches Recreation and Parks Department is participating in the Own Your Own Health fitness challenge and are asking businesses, community groups, schools, and residents to join in.  The Own Your Own Health Challenge is a 3-month competition that encourages Louisianans to develop healthy activity and eating habits.  The challenge takes place Jan. 23 – April 23.

Participants are encouraged to form teams of up to 10 people, or they can participate as individuals.  Kids and teens may have as many team members as they like.  Teams will compete locally against other teams from the Natchitoches area, and Natchitoches teams will then challenge other teams statewide.

“The challenge is a physical activity and weight loss challenge that is mostly team based,” said Chris Laurence, City of Natchitoches Recreation and Parks Director.  “I think this will be a fun and free way to get people competing and get them moving. We want everyone to grab their friends, family, and co-workers and let’s get healthy.”

Teams and individual participants can compete in the Physical Activity Challenge, Weight Loss Challenge, or both.  The Physical Activity Challenge tracks how many steps/miles you walk, while the Weight Loss Challenge tracks how much weight you lose.

Participants will have chances to win prizes and incentives each week of the competition and will receive activity, nutrition and recipe tips via email.  Participants will also have access to a personalized online dashboard to track progress, team leader boards, personalized meal plans and customized workouts.  “Everything is tracked online and teams can compare themselves and see how they are doing against other teams,” added Laurence.

Registration for the Own Your Own Health Challenge can be completed online at | WebSite |.  Those interested can also receive more information by emailing or call (866) 562-9015.

Ponderings with Doug – December 30, 2016

It was the math equation of the year.



It looks very simple doesn’t it? Whether it is old math or the new math, I am certain you can do the math and arrive at the correct answer to the equation. Of course most of you saw this equation in the spring of this year when it was running around on the Internet.

Everything looks simple until you try it yourself.

One of my Christmas gifts was a mini-drone. It is not one of those high priced ones with GPS homing devices. My drone flies and that’s about it. A mini-drone is safe for indoor use. Before I flew it indoors, I wanted a couple of practice runs outside. I plan to use it inside for canine control!

Doug Drone Test Flight one. The drone took off. Zoom! I successfully managed to make the drone hover for just a second or two and then off into the wild blue yonder it went. Higher and higher it flew until it was a little speck in the sky. I had mastered up, now the trick was to figure out down. I looked at the controller and hit the correct button and from its height the drone came down, quickly! It “landed” in the middle of the field behind the house. The challenge was to find the mini-drone in the field.

Playing golf is a valuable resource in locating mini-drones in the field. Finding a lost golf ball and a lost mini drone requires the same skill set. Pay attention to the flight path, have a visual marker and go search. It works with golf balls it worked with the drone.

Doug Drone Test Flight two. I read the booklet that came with the drone so I could be more adept at control. Improvement would be measured by landing the mini-drone closer to my location. I launched the mini-drone with the goal of keeping it close. I used some of the other joysticks on the controller. To my chagrin the drone zoomed away. It developed a ballistic trajectory. It was climbing higher and moving away quickly. It headed toward the oak trees at the end of the field and highest drone speed.

Flying a mini-drone and playing golf are very similar. I have hit similar golf shots. I have watched them climb higher while moving further away and watched helplessly as the shot soared toward the trees. When playing golf I usually speak a ministerial invective over the golf-ball. It is never my fault that the golf-ball heads in the wrong direction. It is always the fault of the golf ball.

I did the only thing I could think of doing as my drone headed toward the top of the oaks. I hit the power button. I hoped the drone would fall before it arrived at the oaks.

You might not know this but seeing a mini drone against the background of oak trees is impossible. I had marked the general direction of the drone. I began walking and laughing.

I was certain I would not find the drone. I would have to explain how I lost my drone after only 45 seconds of total flight time. I was thinking that I could claim a buzzard swooped down on it. It was sucked into the engine of a larger Christmas gift drone. I was more worried about explaining my stupidity than losing the drone. I was having a good laugh making up creative ways to explain losing a Christmas present after only two short flights.

The Christmas miracle happened. I found the mini-drone. Cutting the power kept the drone out of the trees. I know you won’t tell on me because my family doesn’t know. I also have not flown the drone since! I need a drone instructor or mentor. I need someone with drone experience.

Flying a drone looks easy until you try it yourself. Doing a math equation looks easy until you put pencil to paper.

In 2017 I want you to remember “life is a contact sport” and is rarely easy. I need someone to show me the “way, the truth, and the life.” I need Jesus to mentor my steps. Or do you think I’m making it too hard?

What is the answer?

Why wait when you’re sick? Velocity Care has you covered


Why wait weeks for an opening at the doctor’s office or sit for hours in an emergency room? Velocity Care Urgent Treatment Center has one goal: to help people in the Natchitoches community.

Velocity is a one-stop shop for a variety of ailments. If the whole family has the sniffles, bring them in. Velocity can run all the necessary tests in-house. The center is open 7 days a week from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. No 24-hour pharmacies in Natchitoches? No problem. Velocity offers first dose antibiotics to get you back on your feet faster.

“In a society that enjoys immediate results, we don’t have time to be sick,” said Clinical Director Lyssa Jeane. “We want to do whatever we can do to help our patients feel better faster.”

Lyssa Jeane is an NSU graduate and worked in several Cardiac Cath labs. Her experience in emergency medicine made the transition to an urgent care facility easy. She is a Nachitoches resident who was office manager at the Bossier City Velocity Care.  She was eager to manage the Natchitoches location when the owners decided to open the center on Keyser Avenue.

“We wanted to invest in the community,” she said. “It makes a difference when the staff is genuine and truly enjoys taking care of people.”

Providers at Velocity include Physicians Assistants John Messier and Aaron Chauvin. All the providers are emergency trained because Velocity wants them prepared for when an emergency situation arises.

What separates Velocity from corporate run businesses is that it’s physician owned and operated. Dr. John Soud and Dr. John McLean opened the Natchitoches location to better serve the people of Nachitoches. Excellent patient care and customer service are the top priorities for the owners and local staff.

The providers at Velocity Care are also able to refer you to a specialist if you require follow up treatment.  If necessary, they are able to transfer you to the emergency room if you have a more serious issue or life threatening illness.

With their electronic charting, your medical history, medications and information is instantly saved in the system, creating an easier and faster flow for your visit. At Velocity, their close knit family environment is extended to the patients. The building boasts wood floors, mason jar lights, flat screen TVs and a coffee bar in the lobby to create an inviting atmosphere that helps patients relax when they’re feeling under the weather.

A wide array of services ensures the maximum number of patients can be seen and treated in a timely manner. Services include EKG, IV therapy, IV antibiotics, skin tag removal, cryotherapy, laceration repair, stitches, staples, pelvic exams, swabs and cultures for STD panels and more.

After a trip to Velocity Care, one customer, Lesa T., had this to say about Velocity Natchitoches: “The staff is super friendly, the waiting area is beautiful, and there’s even a TV in the exam room to keep you occupied if you should have to wait. I got in and out – in record time, and I definitely recommend this place without hesitation.”

For more information on Velocity and the extensive list of services it offers find them on Facebook, go online to | Website |, or call the Keyser Avenue location at 318-352-5221.


LSMSA yearbook staff members learn tips from representative


Natchitoches, LA – Members of the yearbook staff at the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts learned pointers on how to produce the 2016-17 yearbook on Wednesday, Dec. 7, in the Center for Performance and Technology. Lisa Leopard, a representative from Balfour, demonstrated short cuts and offered tips on how to lay out the book. Pictured are, from left, Karly Brown, a senior from Baton Rouge, Johnneisha White, a senior from Church Point, Amy Liu, a junior from Alexandria, Angela Fang, a junior from Mandeville, Hannah Miller, a junior from Baton Rouge, Caitlyn Morrison, a junior from Gloster, and Leopard.

Recruiting Spotlight: OL/DL Behrend Behrendsen, St. Mary’s High School

By Jace LeJeune
Article courtesy of


St. Mary’s High School in Natchitoches isn’t one of the biggest football programs in the state, but they had some great seasons in the past such as making the state championship two years ago. Since it’s not one of the biggest teams and that this is a 1A football team, a lot of players have to play on both sides of the football. One of these guys that have to serve that role is OL/DL Behrend Behrendsen.

Behrendsen was one of the tough leaders for the Tigers. What they say is that the game is won at the line of scrimmage and at 6’3, 280 pounds, Behrendsen anchors both lines of scrimmage and sets the tone. He is one of those players that is unselfish and does whatever it takes to help his football team out. He is smart and can adjust to the game as it goes.

Some coach is going to want a guy like Behrend Behrendsen on their football team and that is somebody who is mentally and physically tough. Louisiana Football Magazine Editor and T.V. Host Lee Brecheen had this to say about the talented lineman from St. Mary’s.

“Sometimes colleges make mistakes by not actually going to high school games to scout linemen in 1A or 2A football that are under 6-4 in height,” Brecheen said. “I did see this kid play in person in 2015 and came away impressed with his toughness, strength, moves well  and high effort. This is the type of kid that doesn’t take a IAA offer or D2 or even D3. I think in two years, he would get on the field with the right D-I college because of his effort, quickness and football ability.

As of right now, big I-A programs such as Northwestern State and Louisiana Tech have shown interest in Behrend Behrendsen, but he is still looking at his options on where he wants to continue his football career. In today’s recruiting spotlight article, the longtime starter for the St. Mary’s Tigers reflects on his high school career, recruiting, and so much more!

For the full Q&A with Behrend go online to

Photos by Kevin Shannahan


Fishing tournament honors memory of Dylan Kyle Poche


Dylan Kyle Poche’s family is trying to turn his violent death into something positive.  They hold an annual memorial fishing tournament, which funds a scholarship set up in Dylan’s name through NSU.

Tragically, his life was cut short when Dylan was murdered at a Sibley Lake boat landing in Natchitoches on Jan. 31, 2016.  A night of fishing with his brother Kaleb and friends turned in to a horrific nightmare that changed many lives forever.

The second annual Dylan Kyle Poche Memorial Bass Tournament will be held Saturday, March 25 from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Cypress Bend Boat Launch on Toledo Bend Lake. All boats must weigh-in by 3 p.m. Scales will open at 2 p.m.

Dylan was born March 10, 1997, to Luther “Burt” Poche, Jr. and Misty Ott in Natchitoches. He had  two brothers: Kaleb and Brayden.  Later down the road, Shelley Delrie Poche came into their lives and became stepmother to the three boys. Family was a key part of Dylan’s life, and he enjoyed spending quality time with all of them.

Everyone knew that being outdoors is what Dylan loved.  Dylan’s joy for hunting and fishing began when his dad would take him and his brothers hunting and fishing in the pond behind their Pawpaw’s.  In high school Dylan focused on fishing, joining the Natchitoches Central High School fishing team.

That’s where Dylan knew he had found his niche.  In 2013, he placed 2nd in the TBF Louisiana High School Fishing State Championship on Caddo Lake.  He went on to fish in the High School World Finals in Pickwick Ala. in 2015, where he and his fishing partner, Reagan Maxey, placed 17th out of over 100 boats.

By fishing many tournaments throughout the state during his high school years, Dylan became such an accomplished angler.  Upon his graduation from NCHS in 2015 with honors, Dylan decided to attend Northwestern State University to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

Dylan’s dream and passion, however, was to become a professional angler one day.  He joined the NSU Fishing Team and partnered up with Cain Hamous. Dylan fished his first FLW Cowboy Division tournament on Toledo Bend Lake in 2016 and placed 4th, with his biggest weight ever of 22lbs 8oz.

First place at the fishing tournament will receive $5,000. Additional payouts will be made. Other activities include a DJ, raffles, a bounce house and food and fun for all ages. The entry fee is $150 (max two people per boat). There will be an optional Big Fish for $20 per boat.

Register by mail: Dylan Kyle Poche Memorial Fund, 471 Riverview Dr., Natchez, LA 71456. Mail-in registrations must be received by March 23. Register in person Friday, March 24 from 2-6 p.m. at Toledo Tackle or on the morning of the vent from 4:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. FORMS BELOW

For more information contact Burt Poche at 318-652-3176 or 318-652-7192.



Beware the Asian lady beetle

By Corey Poole

It may have been the most terrifying car ride I’ve ever been on. I was reminded of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 horror film, The Birds.

Last month I jumped in my car to go to the post office on Keyser Avenue. As I’m driving down the five-lane road, I noticed a ladybug crawling across my windshield. To my surprise it was on the inside. Then I noticed another one crawling across my dashboard. Glancing to my right, I was shocked to see my side-view mirror was swarming with the little red bugs.

When I parked at the post office and opened my door, lady bugs rained down on me. Only these weren’t the lady bugs I’m used to. They were more yellow than red and the majority of them were missing their spots. I inspected my car and realized there were lady bugs in every crevice of my car doors, in the air vents and pretty much every other nook and cranny.

It was like the saying, “I had sand in places I didn’t even know existed.” These innocent lady bugs had taken over my car. And not just mine, but my husband’s truck as well. We are still dealing with this infestation. I’m constantly having to roll down my car window, scoop a bug off my dashboard or windshield and throw it outside. They’re even encroaching on our home.

While scanning the internet for news today I came across an LSU AgCenter article written by Bruce Schultz. Schultz writes that an invasive insect species, the variegated Asian lady beetle, is now showing up in Louisiana.

The following is Schultz’s article:

This particular ladybug came to Louisiana in 1988, possibly from a shipping container.

“It is not a native species,” LSU AgCenter entomologist Chris Carlton said. “In Louisiana, we have at least 75 species of ladybugs, and most are native. No one really knows how it got here.”

By the early 1990s, Carlton said, the species was found throughout the U.S., and it displaced many native ladybugs.

The invasive species has 30-40 different color variations, with and without spots.

Most ladybugs prefer natural habitats, but this one prefers man-made structures for overwintering shelter, he said.

So far, efforts to predict the ladybug populations have been futile. “We have an extremely hard time predicting numbers of insects from one year to the next,” Carlton said.

And the occurrence is spotty. Carlton said he’s only seen one in his house in Baton Rouge, but he came upon thousands north of Baton Rouge.

The insect can bite, although it has no stinger or venom. They bite using sharp mouth parts that are used to pierce the skin of aphids, their preferred prey.

“They’re just probing,” Carlton said. “It’s like a microscopic needle prick.”

The ladybugs are active in winter during warm spells and are adapted to cold winters.

Houses can be protected against the insects by sealing homes, Carlton said, but he can’t recommend any chemical treatments.

Smashing the insects usually results in an unpleasant odor. Pest control companies could spray for the insect, but it’s probably not justifiable, Carlton said. “It’s not a harmful beast. It’s just an annoyance.”

 He Should Never Leave Home Without It –A Spare Hearing Aide Battery


Mary and I went out to lunch yesterday and not long after we ordered, my hearing aide battery died, going I suppose, to wherever good dead batteries go in their electric afterlife.

The restaurant in which we were eating is popular and somewhat noisy, so I knew I was in for a minor adventure for the rest of the meal.

The first confirmation of that came when Mary said something to me.  I thought she was talking about rain and I said, “Yeah, there’s a slight chance of it.”

“A slight chance of what?” she said.  It turns out she was talking about something having to do with her nose.  Now I realize nose does not sound anything at all like rain, but somewhere in her sentence or two, there was a sound that made me think she said rain.

Of course that wasn’t the only problem I had with my dead battery.  When the waitress came to our table I could never be sure whether she was asking if I wanted more tea or if I was ready for the check.  I’m not very good at lip reading at all, you see

About a year and a half ago, a more disastrous consequence followed after my battery went dead at a restaurant.  We were having lunch with Mary’s sister in Baton Rouge when the little voice warned “Battery!” and a couple of minutes later the poor old battery expended the last of its amps.

So, rather than leave a useless device in my ear, I put it in my pants pocket.  Then, as we were saying goodbye to sister-in-law in the parking lot I stuck my hand in my left pants pocket and began fiddling with the hearing aide.  When I got back to where we were staying, I went to remove the device from my pocket and it wasn’t there.

All I can figure out is that when I was messing with it in my pocket, it must have fallen out of the pocket when I withdrew my hand.   Of course I called the restaurant to see if anyone had found a hearing aide in the parking lot, or for that matter, anywhere else on the premises of the restaurant.  They hadn’t, of course.  And my confidence in their finding it was diminished when I heard the young man who answered the phone tell someone in the background, “These girls wouldn’t know a hearing aide if they saw one.”

Well!  He was probably right, though.  It does resemble some kind of bug more than anything else.

(Hey, maybe that’s the origin of the old saying, “Let me put a bug in your ear.”  Or, maybe not.)

Even when it has a good new battery in it, the device is not foolproof.  In a noisy environment, it picks up all the background noise, people chattering, music, TV dialogue or whatever, and that makes it often difficult for me to understand what someone is saying to me.  Even driving in the car, it picks up road and traffic noise so that I have to repeatedly ask Mary to speak up so I can understand her.

It works well in church or at the movies, however.  After I’d lost my first hearing aide in the incident described above and was waiting for a new one to come in, Mary and I went to a movie.  I had such trouble understanding the dialogue that I told Mary, who was enjoying the show, that I was going home and I’d pick her up later.  It was either that or endure growing frustration.  She understood and said, “I’ll see you later.”

Some voices are easier than others to understand.  If you have a resonant voice with clear pronunciation, I’ll catch every word you say.  But if you talk softly, or rapidly, I’ll miss a lot.

But, I’m better off with it than without it, obviously.  I wouldn’t want to consistently confuse a nose with rain, after all.

Fire consumes vehicle on I-49


Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Deputies, Natchitoches Parish Fire District# 5 and La. Department of Transportation and Development responded to a vehicle fire on Interstate-49 (southbound) near milepost# 125 south of Cypress Dec. 28 at 12:57 p.m.

Natchitoches Police plan sobriety check point


The Natchitoches Police Department will conduct a sobriety checkpoint Thursday, Dec. 29 inside the city limits of Natchitoches.  Officers will be looking for intoxicated drivers in an effort to deter people from drinking and driving with the upcoming holiday.  Officers will also be watching for other violations including open containers of alcohol in vehicles, no seat belt use, no proof of insurance and any other infractions.  The checkpoint is funded by a grant from the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.

If you would like to report suspicious activity or an emergency please contact the Natchitoches Police Department at (318) 352-8101.

Remember all information given shall remain confidential.

A Lesson From My Dad

By Junior Johnson

dad-pic-2-junior-johnsonHarvis Johnson was the most honest and hard-working man I’ve ever known.  He loved his family and was admired in his community.  His word was his bond and everyone gave him the respect he deserved.  He was also my Father.

I learned many things from him through the years, but one story stays etched in my memory.

We lived in a sharecroppers house on CoCo Bed Road near Cloutierville.  Dad worked in the logging woods and raised cotton for the Estate we lived on.  During the farming season he’d scale back his logging activities to prepare the field and care for the cotton.

When logging, Dad had two workers.  One hauled logs to the sawmill and another helped cut trees.  The skidding of the logs to the loading area was done with Dad’s two big mules, Tom and Kit.  They were also used for plowing the field.

There was a huge black man, Mr. Mack, who raised his family nearby. I played with his two boys every day. Mack worked as a day laborer for the Estate and he and my Dad were good friends.

One night Dad invited Mack and his family over for supper.  He asked Mack if he’d be interested in working in the logging woods for $5 a day.  Mack eagerly accepted because he was only making $3 a day at the Estate.

The arrangement was productive for my Dad. Mack was almost seven feet tall and weighed probably 300 pounds.  He would man handle many aspects of the job meant for the mules. Dad was able to get an extra load of logs to the mill each day.

It didn’t take long before workers on the Estate learned he was making almost twice the amount of money they were.  Trouble began to brew.

An Estate Foreman showed up on our doorstep and told Dad he had to fire Mack because the Estate workers wanted more money and that just wasn’t going to happen.  The Estate owner, K.D. McCoy, wanted Dad to comply or move.

After much discussion, my Dad said he wouldn’t fire Mack.

Trying to compromise, Dad was offered a place for sale with almost 100 acres, complete with house, farm and pastureland, and a wooded parcel for $10,000, which was a lot of money in 1953.

Dad had $500 in savings. If McKoy financed the balance, he’d buy the property and move.

Dad told us later the Estate Manager replied, “Harvis I admire your courage, honesty, and loyalty to your family, however I hate to lose a good worker who has made us a lot of money. I will give you the money for your new home and wish you and your family the best of luck in the future.”

Dad paid the loan off in less than 10 years.

Our new home had running water and an indoor bathroom. It seemed like a mansion. Mack moved his family into a rent house nearby.

Our families remained close for years.  We shared meals at each other’s homes many times. Mack’s two boys and I grew up friends and playmates, but regretfully couldn’t attend school together.  That was a different place and time.  We didn’t recognize color as a difference.

This was just one of many lessons that I learned from Harvis Johnson as I grew to adulthood. He was a good man and I will see him again one day as he prepares a place for his loved ones. I love and miss you Dad.

Beginning January 1, 2017 Louisiana shoppers will pay sales tax on Amazon

Tax-free shopping on Amazon for Louisiana residents is ending.

The online retail giant will start charging sales taxes on all purchases shipped to destinations in Louisiana starting January 1, 2017.

According to area news sources a state revenue department spokesman confirmed Amazon will begin collecting both state and local sales taxes in Louisiana when the new year begins.

The process is the same for Louisiana retailers who also sell online. The tax collections are required in state law. For Louisiana’s shoppers, they’ll be paying the state’s 5 percent sales tax, along with any local sales taxes they normally pay when they shop in person at retail stores.

Louisiana has pushed online retailers like Amazon to collect and remit the required sales taxes. Amazon currently charges sales taxes in 29 states.