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.

Parish road work update

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Parish President Rick Nowlin and Director of Public Works Nick Verret the updated the Parish Council at its last meeting December 19 on road work and FEMA reimbursements.

All PW’s for repairs resulting from the March disaster event have been completed by FEMA. To date, payments totaling $274,284 have been processed by FEMA to the Parish.

Parish forces completed repairs to the Coal Kiln Creek Bridge on Robeline-Provencal Road and reopened in Dec. 9 with a 5-ton posted load limit. In other bridge news, the LA DOTD issued a letter to all local bridge owners advising that no new bridge replacement projects will be programmed until such time as additional funding is made available for the Federal Off-System Bridge Replacement Program. This won’t affect projects previously programmed. This includes the following bridges in Natchitoches Parish: Clark Road over Bayou Bourbeaux, Robeline-Provencal Road over Coal Kiln Creek and Good Hope Road over an unnamed drain.

The proposed resurfacing of Orda Levee Road through the Federal Lands Access Program will add 6 inches of crushed stone aggregate surface course to the entire 4.9 mile length of the road at an estimated cost od $473,211. The application was finalized for submittal by the Dec. 16 deadline. Because the road accesses a National Wildlife Refuge, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to pay $65,400 of the required 20 percent local match, with the Parish to provide the remaining $29,242. If the project is approved for FLAP funding, the Parish will prepare plans and specs, and the LA DOTD will handle the bid letting.

Nowlin gave updates on Capital Outlay work in the Parish, which received the executed 2nd Amendment to the Cooperative Endeavor Agreement from the FP&C. The Parish will request permission to begin project design and construction. The state funding remains at $280,000.

The Parish received an amended Cooperative Endeavor Agreement from FP&C that reduced the funding of Phase I from $500,000 to $200,000 for improvements to Payne Subdivision. Adding the $66,667 Parish matching funds brings the total project budget to $266,667. Because of the State funding reduction, the scope of Phase I must be reduced to the replacement of the bridge on Miller Drive and a very limited amount of street repairs. The amendment was executed by the Parish and returned to FP&C for its final execution.

In other news, the proposed renewal of the 5 mill Parish Road District 40 property tax will be on the ballot March 25. The District includes the entire Parish except for the City of Natchitoches. The renewal of this existing tax is critical to the continued operation of the Parish highway department. If it fails to be approved by voters, there will be major reductions in the highway department and its ability to keep the roads passable.

Verret also provided a report detailing the work accomplishments in each district for the month of November. It included 158 jobs totaling 564,488 feet (106.911 miles) of work for a total amount of $99,058. This included $44,089 in equipment, $33,988 in materials and $20,981 in labor. (SEE PHOTOS BELOW)

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NCHS FFA students tour LSU

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Members of Natchitoches Central High School’s FFA chapter toured LSU and the College of Ag today. Four are members of the national 1st place Agronomy Team – the first team in the state to ever place first in a National FFA Career Development event. The students got a behind-the-scenes tour of Tiger Stadium with LSU’s Global Ag Ambassadors.

Members of the FFA first place Agronomy Team are Brad Scott, Brooklyn Hampton, Dylan Daniels and Preston Tibbett. They are pictured with Assistant Dean Dr. Leslie Blanchard and Dean Richardson. They each received a scholarship from the college.

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Cookies with Santa event was a success

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With over 100 children attending the Cookies with Santa event, the Natchitoches Christmas Angels organization said it was a very successful event. The kids enjoyed making their own ornaments, candy cane reindeer, coloring and other projects. Cookies by the dozens were eaten with milk on the side. Santa knows all the kids’ Christmas wishes and took plenty of pictures. The Christmas Angels would like to thank everyone that came and participated at the Phi Mu sorority house on the NSU campus. The girls are all looking forward to making the Christmas donation to a charity.

Local Family and Friends Host NSU International Students For Christmas

By Kevin Shannahan

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Natchitoches residents Johnny and Audrey Broussard were joined by California physician and longtime friend, Dr. Jessica Laursen and her daughter Zoe, in hosting 20 international NSU students for a holiday dinner and fireworks on the Cane River Friday, Dec. 23. The group decided to forgo Christmas gift exchanges and to do something for others instead. Hosting a dinner for NSU’s foreign students in conjunction with NSU’s Wesley Center and its director Clair Carter came to mind.

The students are from Mexico, Columbia and Hondoras and are majoring in a range of subjects from nursing to music and engineering. Several of the music students are also singers and muscians at First United Methodist Church in Natchitoches. They started the evening at FUMC and then drove to a boat launch to see the lights and fireworks from a barge on the Cane River. The group then returned to the church for a traditional Columbian dinner of roast arroz con pollo, pork medallions, empanapas and arroz con leche.

Demons star Zeek Woodley out 6-8 weeks with broken wrist

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Northwestern State senior swingman Zeek Woodley, the Demons’ leading scorer for the past three seasons, may be sidelined for 6-8 weeks due to a broken wrist suffered in the first half of Monday night’s 100-93 loss at Rice.

Demons’ head coach Mike McConathy said Woodley, a 6-2 senior who is 70 points away from becoming NSU’s all-time scoring leader, will have surgery Friday. Woodley hurt his right (shooting) wrist when fouled on a driving layup late in the first half, apparently landing on the wrist when knocked to the floor, but remained in the game and scored 10 second-half points in a 20-point outing, the 48th career 20-point outing for him.

Woodley is averaging 17.6 points this season and 19.2 in 101 career games, the seventh-best career scoring average in major college baskeball. The Pelican-All Saints product ranks fourth nationally in career scoring (1,940 points), 26th in field goal percentage (55.8), 41st in free throw aim (83.6) and has made 41 percent of his career 3-point shots with averaging 4.7 rebounds as a Demon.

The injury occurred in the 10th game of the season for NSU and Woodley, who is not eligible for a medical redshirt. That threshold was NSU’s ninth game.

NSU (5-5) plays its final non-conference game next Wednesday night at home against Louisiana College, then opens the 18-game Southland Conference season in Prather Coliseum next Saturday afternoon against McNeese.

Ponderings with Doug – December 23, 2016

DougFUMCAn usher was escorting visitors to a seat in the sanctuary. As they walked down the aisle the usher inquired, “Clapping or non-clapping?” You can stir up some hot mess debates about clapping in the church, especially when the clapping follows a musical selection. Congregations have been applauding children’s programs and Choir cantatas as we roll through this season. Applause breaks out every Christmas season, even in the most formal of congregations.

I think we should add applause to our Christmas celebrations.

A brief history of applause tells us that it became a more formalized cultural convention in the early days of the theater. Roman theater audiences, for example, were told “Valete et plaudite!” “Goodbye and applause” at the end of every performance, which was the ancient equivalent of today’s “Give it up for “Your NSU demons” by an announcer.

Given that the theater was the only place in those days where you could gather the bulk of the people, politicians also used applause as a form of early polling data, gauging the crowd’s reaction when they entered the venue and took their seats. Once, when the Roman emperor Caligula attended a performance, a certain actor received more applause upon his arrival than had the emperor himself when he arrived at the venue. The maniacal emperor Caligula reportedly muttered (while fingering his sword, no doubt), “I wish that the Roman people had one neck.” Whether it’s in an ancient theater or in a modern arena, the strength of applause is still the thing that can make or break a performer or a politician.

The Romans, in fact, had three categories of applause that further make its connection to the sounds of the material world. “Bricks” was the flat-handed clapping of polite applause, while “roof tiles” or the clapping of cupped hands meant that the audience liked you a lot. The best type of applause, however, was the sound of “bees” — a cacophonous buzz that included not only clapping hands, but shouting voices as well. Listen to a modern audience clapping and you can definitely tell the difference between the smattering applause that sounds like raindrops and the full-throated roar that sounds like thunder. In Europe especially, synchronized applause is common.

And applause is usually accompanied by vocal acclamation, i.e., cheering.

One part of the Christmas story reads: “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another,

“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

Merry Christmas

New pump gets water flowing in Robeline and Marthaville

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Work was completed at the Robeline Marthaville Water System well site Dec. 22. A new pump and pipes were installed. The old tank was removed. The Delta Regional Authority contributed $27,000 of emergency funding toward the project. DRA’s investment was matched by $5,000 in local funds to replace the 30-year-old water tank.

“I am pleased we had the opportunity to support the efforts of the Delta Regional Authority to make immediate assistance available to the communities in Robeline and Marthaville so that they will have drinkable water in time for the holidays,” said Gov. Edwards. “We are incredibly grateful for DRA’s help in making this critical and timely repair possible, given the tremendous challenge that small municipalities repeatedly face when it comes to affording the costs of maintaining a functional water system.”

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‘Cat Burglar Carolers’ strike Natchitoches neighborhoods, spread good will door to door

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Reba Phelps texted a few of her neighbors in the St. Claire Avenue and Whitfield Drive area to see if their children would be interested in caroling one night before Christmas.

“My only instruction for their behavior was to tip toe and whisper when we traveled through yards so they would be totally surprised, like cat burglars,” said Phelps. “We knew we wanted to make this an annual event.”

The night of caroling came and the group gathered at Phelps’ house. The kids were dressed in their warmest red and green attire. Some had on Christmas light necklaces and elf hats. They rang the first door bell at Ellen Tucker’s home and sang “Silent Night.”

“The kids sounded like absolute angels,” said Phelps. “There is no way to describe the unity and melody that came out of their mouths. It was beautiful. Once the kids sang, all of the parents were teary eyed and shocked at how good they sounded. Ellen gave the kids ring pops so they were thrilled and excited to visit the next spot.”

The kids were well received at each and every house. Some residents cried while they sang, some sang along with the carolers and some invited them in.

After it was said and done they decided to name the group “Cat Burglar Carolers.”

The Cat Burglar Carolers will return next year.

Kids who participated included Sydney Hicks; Kathryn Phelps; Gabriel, Teegan and Kyson McKnight, Cameron, Colby, Rannon and Allyson Jett; Emma Bain and Sophia Pleasant.

Emerson COO visits Alliance to present International Safety Award

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Emerson Chief Operating Officer Ed Purvis and a team of executives visited Alliance Compressors this week to officially present the 2016 International Safety Award to the plant team and visit and thank all employees for their diligence and hard work. Ed and team spent time touring the 400,000 square foot facility talking with employees one on one and culminating in a ceremony where he presented the award to plant manager Ken Gardner.

Ed spent additional time visiting with the Alliance Safety Steering Committee, which is the leadership arm of safety at the plant charged with delivering the continued emphasis and focus on safety as a Value of the business. Mayor Lee Posey, Chamber President Tony Davis, and Acting President of Northwestern State University Chris Maggio also attended a luncheon, spending time with Ed and the team to talk about the strong partnerships the plant has with the community.

During Ed’s presentation he pointed out the magnitude of the achievements among Emerson’s 500+ locations worldwide and among the over 100,000 employees that the Natchitoches facility has, which was one of the reasons it was chosen for this honor.

He said, “The award is certainly about posting great safety numbers such as incident rates but in the evaluation it’s also about the programs and culture in place. Alliance clearly demonstrated commitment by having several innovative programs that evidence a very strong safety culture. You (Alliance team) are now a benchmark for our other facilities who will be looking to you for example and leadership of how it is done.”

Plant manager Ken Gardner commented just how proud he is of the whole Alliance team and shared a quote that he thought was appropriate. “Good deeds should be done with intention, not for attention.”

Gardner said, “We set out to create a culture where there are zero accidents and our employees go home safely to their families at the end of the workday. It is gratifying to see recognition for great results but the focus remains on keeping our employees safe. Ed Purvis’ last comments and challenge to the team was to never stop working on safety because even with record safety numbers we can do better.”

Pictured is the Alliance Safety Steering committee with Ed Purvis. Kneeling on front row from left are Bill Fair, Michael Richard, Alvin Dixon, Michelle Brundige, and Daniel Urrutia. On middle row are Brian Brock, Richard Dove, Chad Waldrip, Priscilla Smith, Emerson COO Ed Purvis, Robin Ryder, Ken Gardner, Tony Johnson, Eddie Foster, David Chesal, and Emerson Corporate Manager of Safety and Health. On back row are Paul Grice, Craig Caskey, Emerson Vice President Global Human Resources Tim Volk, Emerson Corporate Profit Planner, Glen Reffke, Larry Cole, Don Butler, and Tom Frazier.