Cheers to a New Year

By Corey Poole

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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:

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Carnivore:
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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.”

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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 arts.gov/news. For more information contact folklife@nsula.edu, call (318) 357-4332, or check out the Louisiana Folklife Center on Facebook.

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

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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 oyoh@la.gov or call (866) 562-9015.

Ponderings with Doug – December 30, 2016

It was the math equation of the year.

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9-3÷1/3+1

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

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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

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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 Lafootballmagazine.com

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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 http://lafootballmagazine.com/news/c48-recruiting/recruiting-spotlight-oldl-behrend-behrendsen-st-marys-high-school.

Photos by Kevin Shannahan

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