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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

BATON ROUGE (AP)

NSU student-athletes set new school record with 3.13 cumulative GPA in fall

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Every one of Northwestern State’s student-athletes is a record-setter.

For the fourth time in five semesters, the nearly 400 competitors in 14 NCAA Division I sports have combined to post a record-high grade point average, 3.13, during the recently completed Fall 2016 semester.

The figure is a significant jump over the previous high mark, 3.06, recorded during Fall 2015, said director of athletics Greg Burke. It also gave NSU Athletics a cumulative 3.089 GPA for the 2016 calendar year.

“Continuing to set grade point average records reinforces the importance NSU Athletics places on academic achievement every single day,” said Burke. “This accomplishment is a combination of the tone which is set as it relates to being academically successful, the support which is in place for our student-athletes to excel in the classroom, and ultimately, the determination on the part of every student-athlete to make academics a priority in their very busy and challenging lives. Congratulations to all – coaches, staff, student-athletes – involved in this success story.”

Women’s sports led the way. Lady Demon tennis posted a cumulative 3.76 GPA this fall, followed by softball (3.49) and soccer (3.37), said Jasmine Chievous, assistant athletic director for student-athlete development.

The Demon baseball team set an all-time high mark for NSU men’s sports with a 3.36 semester GPA. Also finishing above a cumulative 3.0 were Lady Demon basketball (3.23) and Lady Demon track and field/cross country (3.02).

Men’s track and field/cross country notched a 2.92 cumulative GPA, with Demon basketball at 2.90 and NSU football completing the list with a 2.89 by its 115 competitors.

The 3.13 cumulative GPA included 60 student-athletes posting a perfect 4.0 average, with 95 more at 3.0 or better, said Chievous.

The accomplishment came despite significant change in NSU Athletics’ academic support staff. Longtime assistant AD for student-athlete development Carrie Greene and her lead assistant, Kelee Roddy, both moved away in late spring. Betsy Nohavitza was promoted to academic coordinator with Alexis Guess named to replace her as assistant coordinator, and Chievous was hired to replace Greene.

“With quite a bit of transition in the student-athlete development office, it just goes to show that our student-athletes continue to keep their academics a high priority,” said Chievous. “Let us not forget the coaches we have, who all have a great passion to recruit great students who make our jobs that much more delightful. It is our hope to continue to keep this wheel turning in the upward direction.”

Nearly 100 student-athletes graduated in the spring and fall 2016 commencement exercises, including Demon basketball star Jalan West, selected to represent the spring graduates by introducing their commencement speaker, La. Gov. John Bel Edwards. NSU continued trending strongly positive on annual NCAA academic reports, and women’s tennis senior Natalya Krutova won Academic All-America honors, becoming the 14th student-athlete in school history to earn that prestigious award.

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All he wanted for Christmas was mail

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Jennifer Hill-Robertson’s son Sean, is an 11-years-old who loves getting mail. Sean has requested that he receive 25,000 Christmas cards and mail this year.

Sean wants to thank everyone from Natchitoches and all around the world for sending him cards, letters, and notes. He has over 700 cards so far. While he might not be able to reach his goal, there still is time!

Students at the Natchitoches Jr. High-Frankie Ray Jackson got involved and made cards for Sean.

Sean has Autism Spectrum Disorder, Bilateral Sensorineural hearing loss, and hypoparathyroidism. Because of his exceptionality and difficulty with social skills and pragmatics, Sean is often the target of bullying and is picked on by students at his school.

His goal last year was 1,000 cards. He received over 10,000 cards and pieces of mail. It was truly amazing!

“I started this for him because he has been the object of teasing, bullying, and being picked on by his peers at school,” said Jennifer. “Since an incident occurred where he was hit in the face with rocks and broken pencils, he has asked me to help him get mail. It’s very hard for him to understand why children are so cruel. I want him to know that there are good people out there and not everyone is mean.”

Sean reads every letter and card. With his mother’s help he takes the stamps and the stickers and puts them in an album. He loves Mickey Mouse, anything Disney, the Avengers, art, music, stickers, stamps, geography, history, science, the Saints, and the LSU Tigers.

Anyone interested in sending mail can mail it to: Sean Stewart, P.O. Box 359, Natchitoches, Louisiana 71458.

CRCNHP has job opening for student trainee

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Cane River Creole National Historical Park is hiring a student trainee. This is a part time park guide position in the division of interpretation. If you are a student or know a student who would be interested in working at the park go online to this link: https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/PrintPreview/460361600

The position closes January 3, 2017. For more information call Barbara at 318-352-0383, ext. 200.

Kids Day set for Dec. 28 for youth ages 6-13

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The City of Natchitoches is offering a half day program for youth ages 6-13 Dec. 28. The program will be held at the MLK Recreation Center from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Breakfast and lunch will be served, students will rotate through art, skills and recreation activities. Registration will be held at the MLK Recreation Center. The cost is $5 per child.

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NSU awards doctorates to first DNP class

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The first class of graduates of Northwestern State University’s Doctor of Nursing practice degree were hooded during NSU commencement Friday. Provided through NSU’s College of Nursing and School of Allied Health, the program provides a clinical doctorate for master’s prepared registered nurses.

On the front row from left are Susan Brown, Detries Morris, Allison Turner, Aimee Sandifer, Jennifer Cameron, Tammy Harris and LaToya Gipson. On the back row are Dr. Dana Clawson, dean of the College of Nursing and School of Allied Health, Alice Fanning, Beatrice Launius, Cheryl Adair, Julie Gayle, Billy Morales and Dr. Connie Hale, faculty.

Fire District 1 faced with allegations of negligence and unresponsiveness

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James Edwards spoke before the Parish Council at its meeting Dec. 19 about concerns he has regarding Fire District 1 in Cloutierville.

On Sept. 9 a fire at his lumber facility burned 20 percent of his inventory, which he said was due to a breakdown in the responsiveness and reliability of FD 1. He claimed that when he called the chairman of the board for FD 1, the chief and assistant chief they were all unresponsive. According to Edwards, a Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s deputy called other fire districts in the area, who also failed to respond. The deputy had to call his superiors, who then made the fire districts respond to the fire.

Edwards also claimed that none of the members of FD 1 have the required 12 hours of training. When he got a group of people interested in becoming volunteer firefighters for FD 1, he was told by the training department at LSU that they’ve been unable to reach anyone from FD1 to get them to participate in the training.

Edwards claimed he has a long list of people willing to volunteer, but only after the leadership is changed.

Chris Posey, a former district chief, asked the Council to expunge the old members on the FD 1 Board and remove them effective immediately.

“The oldest ones that have been down there the longest are the ones breaking the rules,” said Edwards.

Other accusations include:

Unlike other fire districts, FD 1 has a rule where any interested person has to interview before they can join.

Keep fire trucks sitting at personal residences

Accused Edwards and others of trespassing when they tried to put a donated water tank at the station in Cloutierville because they “didn’t want the tank there,” according to Edwards

Failure to file and send fire reports to Baton Rouge (FD 1 hasn’t made a report in almost 2 years according to Edwards)

One of the worst FD ratings in the state, which inflates insurance rates and can prevent area schools from receiving grants

Out of 14 trucks between 6 stations, only 3 will start

The decision was made to build a bathroom, an $8,500 project, when there’s fire trucks that don’t run

Beepers alerting FD 1 members of a fire during a fish fry held last year were ignored. According to Edwards, the fire was at the assistant chief’s neighbor’s house. “This is the reason why other districts are mad. They aren’t going to their own fires,” said Edwards.

Joseph C. Prothro, of FD 1, wrecked one of the district’s brand new fire trucks in September, 2015, which he was driving in Rapides Parish. Prothro was cited for careless operation of the fire truck.

No bids taken for buying trucks, simply using the same guy they always do

Parish President Rick Nowlin said they’ve replaced five of the seven board members for FD 1, primarily for the reasons Edwards mentioned at the meeting.

“He’s right about a lot of what he’s saying and it’s a problem,” said Nowlin. “There are some significant problems down there. We’re working with the new board members and since we’ve been advised there’s still problems, we need to seek more improvement quickly or we’ll have to take appropriate action. I may have recommendations at our next meeting.”

Christmas Eve Services at FUMC: Families gather together

By Kevin Shannahan

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Kevin’s Gallery

A standing room only gathering of worshipers came to First United Methodist Church of Natchitoches’ traditional candlelight Christmas Eve Services. FUMC Choir Director Dr. Nicholaus Cummins was joined by soloist Leanny Munoz. Munoz is a recent graduate of the Louisiana Scholars’ College, and is currently earning her master’s degree in musicology at LSU. She was a three year member of the church’s traditional choir while a student at NSU and returned to perform a beautiful solo performance of “O Holy Night.”

The services, always an occasion for family reunions, had an international flair this year. Eileen Riedel, a former NCHS exchange student from Hockenheim, Germany now back home for her final year of high school, returned to Natchitoches to visit her host family for the holidays.