Sunday morning fire claims life of Natchitoches man


A joint investigation by the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office and La. State Fire Marshal is being conducted into a fire that claimed the life of a Natchitoches man early Sunday morning, Jan. 29 at 4:19 a.m., according to Natchitoches Parish Sheriff Victor Jones.

NPSO Patrol Division deputies and Natchitoches Parish Fire District #7 responded to reports of a structure fire in the 7500 block of La. Hwy 6, west of Natchitoches.

Deputies say while firefighters from NPFD# 7 were extinguishing the fire, they received information that the structure, a 8×32 fifth-wheel travel trailer was possibly occupied.

A search of the burned travel trailer led to the discovery of a body inside.

The Natchitoches Parish Coroner’s Office positively identified the body as that of Mr. Theron E. Starnes Jr., 55, of 7568 Hwy 6, Natchitoches.

Starnes reportedly lived in the trailer for two years.

Investigators located a space heater in the living room area of the trailer that sustained heavy fire damage.

NPSO Deputies say while speaking with State Fire Marshal investigators today, the space heater is believed, but not confirmed, to be the source of the fire.

The remains were sent for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

State Fire Marshal investigators say the preliminary investigation results states Starnes succumbed to smoke inhalation as the cause of death.

There were no smoke detectors in the trailer.

The investigation is continuing by the La. State Fire Marshal’s Office, Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office and Natchitoches Parish Fire District #7 although at this time the fire appears to be accidental.

Fire Marshal investigators requested that we urge the public to install smoke detectors in every room of the home, and at least one in travel trailers.

Press Release and PHOTO: NPSO

Alliance donates to Sports HOF


Alliance Compressors made a donation in support of the LSHOF Foundation. Presenting a generous donation to Ronnie Rantz are Michelle Brundige, Alliance HR Manager, Laura Gorum, Employee Relations Manager, and Ken Gardner, Plant Manager.

INTERSTATE RE-OPENED I-49; Northbound; Natchitoches Parish

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD), advises the public that I-49 Northbound between Exits 132 & 138, is NOW OPEN TO ALL TRAFFIC.

Project Contact
Dale Craig; District Traffic Engineer
(318) 561-5105

I-49 Northbound; Natchitoches Parish

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD), advises the public that I-49 Northbound between Exits 132 & 138, is closed to all traffic due to an accident.

Permit/Detour Section
Traffic is being diverted onto LA 478; Exit 132.

Safety Reminder
DOTD appreciates your patience and reminds you to please drive with caution through the construction site and be on the lookout for work crews and their equipment.

Additional Information
Call (318) 561-5100 or (800) 542-3509 or 511 or visit for additional information. Motorists may also monitor the LA DOTD website @, by selecting MYDOTD, the Way to Geaux Application for iPhone or Android devices, the DOTD Facebook page or the LA DOTD Twitter page, @Alex_Traffic for further information and details.

Project Contact
Dale Craig; District Traffic Engineer
(318) 561-5105

EMERGENCY CLOSURE** I-49; Northbound; Natchitoches Parish


Tuesday, January 31, 2017 10:03 AM
I-49 Northbound; Natchitoches Parish

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD), advises the public that I-49 Northbound between Exits 132 & 138, is closed to all traffic due to an accident.

Permit/Detour Section
Traffic is being diverted onto LA 478; Exit 132.

Safety Reminder
DOTD appreciates your patience and reminds you to please drive with caution through the construction site and be on the lookout for work crews and their equipment.

Additional Information
Call (318) 561-5100 or (800) 542-3509 or 511 or visit for additional information. Motorists may also monitor the LA DOTD website @, by selecting MYDOTD, the Way to Geaux Application for iPhone or Android devices, the DOTD Facebook page or the LA DOTD Twitter page, @Alex_Traffic for further information and details.

Project Contact
Dale Craig; District Traffic Engineer
(318) 561-5105

Phi Mu Alpha offering Valentine serenades


Northwestern State University’s chapter of Phi Mu Alpha will perform Valentine serenades on and off campus through Valentine’s Day, Tuesday Feb. 14. Members will perform from 2-8 p.m. in Hanchey Gallery and a traveling group will perform from 6-8 p.m. on Front Street.

“What better way to spend your Valentine’s Day than getting your loved one serenaded by the men of Phi Mu Alpha?” Chapter Treasurer Logan Turner asked.  “For $10 you come to us and we will serenade you and your loved one at Hanchey Gallery or Front Street and for $20 we will come to you. All serenades come with a single rose.”

Phi Mu Alpha is a social fraternity for men with a special interest in music.

“We will also have a table in the Creative and Performing Arts Building the week of January 30-February 3 and will be in the Student Union the week of February 6-February 10,” Turner said.

For more information or to book a serenade, contact Turner at (318) 507-8261 or or visit the Phi Mu Alpha table at the times listed.

Water boils at RMWS meeting as customers demand board cut costs

high_water_billrmws013017Things got hot enough to boil water at the Robeline-Marthaville Water System meeting Monday night, Jan. 30. After getting water service up and running right before Christmas, the customer-owned system is looking at ways to cut costs and get things back on track.

Representatives from the government and state organizations were on hand to continue helping the board find solutions to its problems.

They included:
·      Knox Ross: president of Coordinating Development Corporation in Shreveport
·      Reinette Foster: area director for USDA Rural Development
·      Clarence Beebe and Rusty Reeves: Louisiana Rural Water Association
·      Randy Byrd: Water System operator
·      Leslie Durham: Governor’s designee for the Delta Regional Authority

The Water System residents said they’re putting out unnecessary money and demanded the board take action to correct the system’s financial problems. The board voted to let go of the one part time employee it has within 30 days. It will no longer provide health insurance for any of its employees within 30 days. This could potentially be $40,000 per year in savings, although it was stated that around $60,000 in cuts needs to be made.

Residents said they believed the cuts could be made in personnel, saying that other systems have one employee doing the same work of the R-MV System’s employees.

In other news, two new board members were announced: Don Perez and Johnny Ledet.

After the meeting ended, Tommy O’Con informed the NPJ that he tendered his resignation last night from the Robeline-Marthaville Water System.

See below for the Financials Provided


Resisting only makes it worse


I read an article about the Louisiana’s Blue Lives Matter bill, which Governor John Bel Edwards signed into law before Trump took office. Louisiana is the first state to enact such a law.

If someone is arrested for stealing a piece of candy (a misdemeanor) but resists arrest, they will be charged with a felony hate crime. This is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Even if someone is wrongfully arrested and resists that arrest, they can receive the same punishment.

While it seems preposterous or outrageous, I’d like to try and look at this situation logically.

When does it benefit someone to resist arrest? If they’re guilty of a crime, resisting will only worsen their sentence. If they’re innocent, resisting will get them a sentence they wouldn’t have received otherwise. If the officer is corrupt, resisting will only worsen the situation.

This made me think of an old FB video rant that I watched last year of Amiri King, an ex-con turned YouTube star, who defended police against people who resist arrest.

He says, “When a cop says stop, I stop. When a cop says let me see you hands, guess what, I show him my hands. If a cop says put your leg in, put your leg out, put your leg in and shake it all about, well I’ll be doing the hokey pokey then won’t I.”

You can let the police do their job or cause yourself a bigger headache. The choice is yours.

Tickets are on sale for APHN Luncheon Feb. 11


The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches will kick off 2017 with its Annual APHN Luncheon. It’s a wonderful way for the community to show its support for ongoing and upcoming preservation efforts alongside APHN team members, volunteers, and people who care about preserving the rich history of the Cane River area.

The luncheon will be held at Mariner’s Restaurant Saturday, Feb. 11 at 11:30 a.m. Tom Whitehead, the guest presenter, will be available after the luncheon to sign copies of his books, “Clementine Hunter: The African House Murals,” and the Hunter biography, “Clementine Hunter: Her Life and Art.” Tickets are $28 per person and include lunch, a dessert buffet, as well as presentations and updates from the APHN.
The APHN has another exciting year ahead in restoring and preserving Melrose Plantation, and its historic outbuildings. To accomplish this goal, financial support is needed.

These properties help generate tourism to Natchitoches, benefiting the entire community.

Tickets can be purchased online at Melrose Plantation’s gift shop at

Hoops – Pack Prather event Saturday has plenty of incentives

Excitement is building and tickets are going fast for the 2017 Pack Prather promotion Saturday, aiming to fill Prather Coliseum for Northwestern State’s Southland Conference basketball doubleheader against rival Stephen F. Austin.

The women’s game between the schools starts at 1. The men’s contest follows at 3:30. The first 500 fans in the arena will receive NSU rally towels.

The NSU Alumni Association is hosting a tailgating party in the front of Prather Coliseum. For $10, guests can enjoy a bottomless buffet of hamburgers, hot dogs, sausage, chips and drinks and live entertainment by Beaux Atkins.

It’s NSU Faculty/Staff Appreciation Day, sponsored by CP-Tel, which is providing two free tickets for each NSU faculty and staff member – provided they are picked up by 5 p.m. Friday at the NSU Athletic Fieldhouse’s ticket office. The university employees will be treated to free food at the Alumni Association tailgate.

Fans can donate 10 canned goods to the NSU Student-Athlete Advisory Council’s Hunger Drive in advance and receive a coupon to purchase a $5 general admission ticket. NSU students will get a free T-shirt for participating. Items most needed: canned meats (chicken, tuna), peanut butter, cereals and breakfast bars, and bottled water.

Donations are being accepted this week at the Johnny Emmons Academic Study Center in the fieldhouse, and SAAC will have a donation table set up in front of Prather Coliseum on game day.

NSU student-athletes who earned a letter last year will be presented their letter jackets during the afternoon by members of the N-Club, the association of former athletic letterwinners. Male letterwinners will receive their letterjackets at halftime of the Lady Demons’ game, and the female letterwinners will be honored at halftime of the men’s contest.

Just over 600 tickets remained available Monday evening at 3,400-seat Prather Coliseum for the doubleheader Saturday.

Natchitoches Lions Club seeks applications for summer camp


Many youth with physical and mental disabilities from the Natchitoches area have attended camp throughout the years at no cost to the families. One such camper is Faith Megan Clark, daughter of Mickey and Kathy Clark and granddaughter of Louie and Carol O’Quinn. Faith loved her camp experience. The counselors made her feel at home immediately and she didn’t get upset when her family left. She was so proud of the award she received for “most popular camper” during the closing ceremony. She is anxious to return. Her sister Jessica was so impressed with Faith’s first year at the camp, she wants to be a counselor this summer.

The Louisiana Lions Camp, located north of Leesville, will open May 28. There will be a one week session for youth with pulmonary disorders, two one-week sessions for the mild mentally challenged ages 8-19, two one-week sessions for youth with diabetes ages 6-14 and two one-week session for visual, hearing and orthopedically impaired youth ages 7-19.

This summer marks the beginning of the 60th year of operation. The camp held its first session July 9, 1961. To date over 24,150 children have attended camp.

Club members from Natchitoches attend one of the summer camp sessions to provide campers with a meal of meat pies and dirty rice. Natchitoches’ LEO Club helps with Carnival Night at the camp. The camp is always seeking new campers ages 6-19 depending on their disability.

The camp is designed for the following campers:
Physically challenged youth: age 7-19
Mentally challenged youth: age 8-19
Youth with diabetes: age 6-14
Youth with pulmonary disorders: age 5-15

For more information contact Lions Club member Tina Ragan at 318-663-6782 or go online to

An upcoming 5K/1 mile event will benefit the Lions Camp. Kasey’s Heart and Soul: Run Walk and Roll will be held Saturday, March 11. It will begin at the NSU Collins Pavilion on the NSU Campus. Race day registration begins at 6:45 a.m. The 1 mile walk/run begins at 8 a.m. The 5K ROAR Challenge begins at 8:30 a.m. The 5K walk/run begins at 8:45 a.m. There will be music, food and fun for everyone. The event will offer a new option on top of the 5K and 1 mile run. The 5K ROAR Challenge Course is an option for those looking for some fun and excitement along the race. This event will include endurance detours and other obstacles to complete along the course. Are you brave enough?

Entry Fees:                Pre-Registration                     Day of Registration
1 mile Walk/Run                  $20                                        $25
5K Walk/Run                         $30                                        $35
5K ROAR Challenge             $35                                         $40
Virtual Runner                     $20                                        $20

Virtual Runner is an option for those who do not wish to walk/run, but still want to participate by donating to a great cause. Both 5K events are chip timed by SPORTSPECTRUM. Pre-register by Feb. 24 to be guaranteed a race T-shirt and goodie bag.

For more information contact Kristi Fredieu at 337-384-9791 or email




On Monday morning January 30th at approximately 8:03am, Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Deputies and Natchitoches Regional Medical Center EMS responded to a two-vehicle injury crash on US-71 within the City Limits of Campti, La.

Deputies say the preliminary investigation revealed that thirty-two year old Martino D. Telstead of Campti was operating a 2008 GMC pickup truck traveling northbound on US-71 when for unknown reasons at this time drifted across the center-line striking a southbound 2004 Peterbilt eighteen wheeler.

Telstead was transported from the scene by EMS to Natchitoches Regional Medical Center with what is believed to be non-life threatening injuries.

Traffic charges are pending.

The crash is being investigated by Deputy N. Brown assigned to the NPSO Patrol Division.

Photo: NPSO

NJH finishes off basketball season with success

The Lady Indians and Indians Basketball Teams at Natchitoches Jr. High-Frankie Ray Jackson finished off the basketball season with the Lady Indians being the 2016-17 Middle School State Champions while the boy’s team brought home second place. Coach Velverlon Holden and Coach Corey Deans and all of the coaching staff led the students in a great athletic program this year.


NSU excels at Pittsburg State

The Northwestern State track and field teams left the Pittsburg State Invitational with a slew of top performances, and coach Adam Pennington took note as the Demons and Lady Demons effort resulted in a combined 12-medal stand finishes, including seven-second places.

“Excluding competing for a conference championship, this was the best meet we’ve had in the last two years,” Pennington said.

Lady Demon Daeshon Gordon winning the women’s 60-meter hurdles and contributing to the Lady Demons’ victory in the 4×400 relay highlighted the meet, along with the Demons’ Micah Larkinscontinuing to charge up the world rankings in the 60-meter sprints.

Gordon, a junior out of Pompano Beach, FL, nabbed her second straight win in the hurdles with a time of 8.27 after previously winning at the UAB Vulcan Invite. Her performance in the 60-meter hurdles now ranks top-25 nationally. In the relay, she teamed with Tamara Styles, Natashia Jackson and De’Shalyn Jones for a first-place time of 3:45.37.

In sprints, the Lady Demons now are tops in the Southland Conference in every event.  Jermeka McBrideand Natashia Jackson both medaled in the 200-meter dash, as McBride took silver (24.28) and Jackson claimed bronze (24.56). Jackson, a standout freshman from Houston, Texas, also took home a second-place finish in the 400-meters (55.78.).

Others contributing for the Lady Demons were Jasmyn Steels, Destiney Myers and Gerianna Lyons.

Steels, who is fresh off a win in the long jump at the UAB Vulcan, once again found the podium after leaping 19-05.25 this week to claim silver.

Lyons and Myers each had their best performance of the year in the weight throw and shot put, respectively. Lyons a junior from Baldwin, finished second with a toss of 54-07.50, while Myers’ shot put of 46-00.00 found her in third place.

On the men’s side, sophomore Larkins continued to show why he is one of the premier sprinter in the Southland Conference. His time of 6.68 in the 60-meter final resulted in a second-place finish. But more importantly, it placed him in the top-20 nationally, and in the top-50 worldwide.

Amir James, another top performer for the Demons, finished third in the 200-meter dash with his time of 21.34, while also helping the 4×400 relay team of George Flaviano, Larkins and Charlie Milton to a silver medal with a time of 3:13.72.

Distance runner Josh Wilkins continued his dominance, running a one-mile time of 4:19.88, which resulted in a second-place finish.

NSU track and field will head back to one of the nation’s best facilities in Pittsburg State, as they are set to return for the second annual Indoor Gorilla Classic on Feb. 10.

Creole Heritage Day filled with friends and fun

Photos by Marla Jones


In spite of the threatening weather, about 250 people attended the tour, dinner, and Zydeco dance at the Cane River Creole Heritage Day and Party event Jan. 21. Most came from all over Louisiana and from Texas. St. Augustine Historical Society President Dr. Mark Guidry said, “What an honor it is to be a part of a community that is so giving. Many thanks to all those who donated their time, treasure, labor, wisdom, and prayers to make this Creole Heritage Day and Party the best ever!”

Become Certified4Success with RoyOMartin-Plywood


RoyOMartin-Plywood is seeking committed, hard-working, and self-motivated employees to join its team. The company is now recruiting for its “Certified4Success” paid training program for production team members. A Certified4Success: A Hiring Event informational session will be held Tuesday, Jan. 31 from 3-5 p.m., at the Best Western Conference Hall in Natchitoches.

Candidates selected for the Certified4Success program will earn $12 per hour and receive customized, hands-on training on the skills needed to succeed in a fast-paced manufacturing environment where employees are encouraged to learn and grow. Training is scheduled to begin in March 2017 and will consist of classroom and hands-on instruction at the Chopin plywood plant and Central Louisiana Technical Community College’s Alexandria campus. Graduates of Certified4Success training can earn full-time employment as production team members at RoyOMartin’s plywood-manufacturing plant.

To be considered for Certified4Success, candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent and at least one year of continuous employment in an active, process-based work environment. Additionally, candidates must be drug free and able to come to work as scheduled.

For more information go online to

Musical “Next to Normal” to open Feb. 15


Northwestern State University Theatre and Dance will present the musical “Next to Normal” Feb. 15-19 and 21-24 in Theatre West. Show time is 7:30 p.m. except on Feb. 19 when there will be a matinee performance at 2 p.m. Pia Wyatt is the director.

Tickets to each show are $15, $12 for children and seniors. Northwestern State, BPCC@NSU and Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts students are admitted free with a current student I.D. Reservations are required and can be made by calling (318) 357-4483.

“Next to Normal”with book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey and music by Tom Kitt, takes an unflinching look how one suburban household struggles with crisis and mental illness. It is an emotional powerhouse that addresses a grieving loss, ethics in modern psychiatry and coping with suburban life.

The cast is Jessi Miller of Mansfield as Diana, Luke Matherne of Monroe as Dan, Marissa McMickens of Pineville as Natalie, Michael Carrier of Lafayette as Gabe, Denzel Dawson of Gray as Dr. Fine/Madden and Thomas Hadzeriga of Edmond, Oklahoma as Henry.

Annie Wright of Belle Chasse is stage manager. Assistant stage managers are Addison Hinson and Jade Duthu of Marrero and Nicholas Hebert of Larose.

NSU Alumni Spotlight: Brandi Brammer | Class of 1998

brandi-brammerBrandi Brammer is a 1998 graduate of Northwestern and currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee; where she is the Human Resources Business Partner at the leading entertainment and sports agency, Creative Artists Agency. CAA represents many of the most successful professionals working in film, television, music, video games, sports, theatre and digital content, and provides a range of strategic marketing and consulting services to corporate clients. They are one of the most progressive entertainment companies in the business.

Brandi manages the operations of CAA’s offices throughout the Southeast which includes over 250 employees. She is the lead recruiter and hiring manager for these offices. She was also recently honored for the second year in a row with the Women in Music City Award by the Nashville Business Journal.

Brandi began her career at CAA in the Los Angeles office in 2000 working in the music department. She then went on to serve as the Director of Events at the Academy of Country Music for four years beginning in 2003, where she produced and managed the events surrounding the Academy of Country Music Awards. Brandi rejoined CAA in 2007 to lead the HR team in the Nashville office.

Before earning her degree in HMT at Northwestern, she was involved with KNWD as the Promotions and Publicity Director, Phi Mu Fraternity, Pom Pom line, and assisted with sound and lights for some Theatre productions. She participated in the Disney college program and also studied abroad at the University of Nijmegen, in The Netherlands.

Brandi is originally from Crowley, Louisiana and loves to travel to Louisiana as much as possible.

 Class teaching theatre students how to market themselves

Theatre and Dance students at Northwestern State University are learning some of the best methods to help them stand out when they begin looking for professional jobs.

A group of students are taking a class, “Branding the Artist,” taught by actor and director Joe M. Hernandez. The three-week class runs until Feb. 2.

“The course is designed to provide students the opportunity to have the tools to market themselves in the theatre industry,” said Hernandez. “Throughout the course, students are learning the proper way to structure a resume for both the theater industry and for jobs outside of our industry.”

Students in the class are being asked to build a website, create business cards and a cover letter and establish a social media presence. They are also researching prospective companies that they are interested in applying for and discussing taxes for an artist.

“The most important elements of the course they’re writing an artistic statement and manifesto,” said Hernandez. “These two assignments that I just mentioned are the foundation for what they will build their entire brand.”

Hernandez earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Mobile and an MFA at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Hernandez has taught master classes at a number of colleges and universities on some of the material in “Branding the Artist,” but this is the first time has developed a full course.

“My hope is that this course is allowing the students to ask themselves the hard questions that many artists are afraid to ask,” he said. “For instance, when they look at themselves in the mirror they ask the question ‘What do they see?’ They ask, ‘Who am I?’ Self reflection as an artist is vital to the development of success in our industry in my opinion. Most importantly, we have to know who we are, what we stand for and what sacrifices are we willing to make to be successful in this industry.”

Hernandez said hopes the students walk away prepared to embark on the next chapter of their lives and equipped to go into an interview or audition with the materials needed to be successful.

“I hope that they walk out of the course a little stronger, a little wiser and a little more confident in who they are as artist than they were when they walked into the course for the first time,” he said.

PHOTO: Visiting theatre faculty member Joe M. Fernandez leads a class, “Branding the Artist” at Northwestern State University.

AgCenter to hold Master Cattleman Classes

The LSU AgCenter will hold NW Louisiana Master Cattleman Classes from Feb. 6 – April 17 on Monday nights, excluding Feb. 13, from 6-9 p.m. at the Valley Farmers Co-Op on Rapides Drive in Natchitoches. Tuition is $125, which includes all classes, materials and evening meals.

The Louisiana Master Cattleman program began in 2004, and it includes 10 three-hour lectures on aspects of beef production. The program is a commodity-specific program to enhance the profitability of beef producers by equipping them with important beef cattle best management practices. It also allows participants further integration into farm management/marketing components related to beef production. Upon completion of the Master Cattleman program, participants should be better able to increase farm profitability while being environmentally sustainable. Registration fees are charged for the class which generally cover teaching materials, meals, certificates, and a metal farm sign.

To become a certified Louisiana Master Cattleman, one must complete 30 hours of instruction which includes the national Beef Quality Assurance Certification. The 30 hours consists of 10 three-hour blocks of instruction on:

•Animal Health
•Breeding & Selection
•Animal Handling
•Beef Quality Assurance
•Pasture Agronomy
•Weed Management
•Economics & Marketing
•End Product
For more information contact Randall Mallet at 318-357-2224 or email