City sales tax remains flat


While the City’s sales tax collections were up 1.27 percent from December of last year, they’re only up .17 percent year-to-date. Finance Director Pat Jones said the flat sales tax over the last two years means the City hasn’t experienced any growth.

Jones said the City would like to see some growth because it would show tax collections are increasing. However, with the Christmas Festival being rained out and cold, Jones said he’s anticipating red in the sales tax on January’s report. Collections on December’s report reflect taxes collected in November and January’s report will reflect the taxes collected in December.

On the bright side, Jones said that while being flat is normally not good, Natchitoches is blessed compared to other cities across the state.

For the TIF collections, the City was 27.71 percent over December of last year. However, the year-to-date collections were down 13.20 percent. However, Jones said the City didn’t budget to spend everything it was budgeted to take in because it’s trying to build up funds to take care of some infrastructure needs in the TIF areas. The decrease from last year’s numbers means there’s less money for the City to put toward those projects.

See the full finance report below


Erath hunter drills huge 172-inch Natchitoches Parish 9-point

By Patrick Bonin
Article and photo courtesy of

chris-louviere-9ptChris Louviere shot his first buck ever — a 6-point — last November on his 550-acre lease near Lena in Natchitoches Parish.

That was exciting, but the 34-year-old Erath electrician’s second buck just two weeks later — nicknamed “Mr. Crabs” — was in a whole different league.

On an afternoon hunt on Dec. 6 at the 5-Shot Hunting Club, Louviere dropped a hammer 9-point that measured a whopping 172 ⅞ inches, which currently sits in first place in the 9-point category at Simmons’ Sporting Goods in Bastrop.

“I was sitting on the stand playing on my phone, and I heard some duck hunters down the road that started shooting like crazy,” said Louviere, who was in a ladder stand overlooking a field with a tree line 80 yards away. “So I looked to my right and when I looked up, he was looking to his right at what was going on.

“It was perfect. It gave me enough time to put my phone down and pick up my rifle.”

Within about 30 seconds, Louviere had sighted in the big buck standing 80 yards away and squeezed the trigger on his .30-06.

That started what would be an anxious next hour or so for the hunter — one filled with doubt, despair and then finally relief.

“I thought I missed at first because I saw the dirt fly and he didn’t move,” Louviere said. “He just stood there, turned my way and then jumped in the briars heading to the tree line. I sat in the stand for about 20 minutes thinking I missed him, so I grabbed my phone and texted my stepdad who was hunting in the stand next to me and told him they had a big boy coming his way.”

Louviere eventually went down to check for blood where the big buck had stood — and got more bad news.

“There was nothing on the ground,” he said. “So I got discouraged. I was going to go sit on the Mule until it was time to go in.”

That’s when things instantly improved. Just 10 yards further up, Louviere found what he was looking for.

“There were pieces of lung on the ground,” he said. “Once I saw that, I called everybody to give me a hand.”

His stepdad and a buddy came to help, and just 50 yards away on a solid blood trail, they found the big buck piled up short of the tree line.

“He was hiding right behind a big patch of briars,” Louviere said. “We walked in front of him three or four times and never saw him …. All I could do was jump all over everybody. I didn’t even know what to say. That was a special feeling to find that.”

Special indeed: Louviere’s 9-point had an 18 ¾-inch inside spread, with massive 6 ½-inch bases. The big buck was aged at 5 ½ years, tipped the scales at 195 pounds and green-scored 172 ⅞ inches.

He had gotten only one nighttime picture of the buck early in the season, but another hunter on the lease had been seeing the deer on camera regularly for two years.

Now, Mr. Crabs will grace his living room wall in Erath.

“I told my wife she was moving all the pictures off the wall and I’m putting him right dead center,” Louviere said with a chuckle. “I told her my first big buck is going in the front room. She said she’s letting me put one — but she’s not letting me put another.”

Planning is underway for the 43rd annual Melrose Arts and Crafts Festival


Members of the Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches’ Steering Committee met recently to continue planning for the 43rd annual Melrose Arts and Crafts Festival set for April 22-23 at Melrose Plantation. Over 100 vendors from a four-state area will make available beautiful original works of art and crafts representing many and varied talents. The festival is always looking for new vendors; those interested may visit to submit a vendor application by April 1. For additional information call 318-379-0055. Pictured from left are Event Chairman Harry Thompson, Cheryl Rambin, Gayle Howell, Molly Dickerson, Anita Pierce and Virginia Crossno.

Retiring Assistant Chief of Police creates multiple positions and promotions

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Assistant Chief Cary Hargrove, who began employment with the City of Natchitoches Police Department in 1989, is retiring and as a result has opened up a chain of positions and promotions.

Chief of Police Micky Dove and his command staff upon evaluating the potential promotional and positional changes is pleased to announce the following:

Captain Harman Winters has been promoted from Captain over Administration to Assistant Chief of Police. Captain Christopher Payne, formerly the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Investigator, has been reassigned to Captain of Administration. Sergeant Keith McDonald has been promoted to Lieutenant and will assume the duties of shift commander on Shift A. Sergeant Jessica Williams, formerly the Juvenile Investigator, has been promoted to Lieutenant and will assume the duties of Internal Affairs Investigator.

Corporal Bill Connell has been promoted to Sergeant and will assume the duties of the Juvenile Investigator. Corporal Victor Pinkney and Corporal Bobby Beard have been promoted to Sergeant and will remain in the Criminal Investigative Division. Officer Brian Olliff has been reassigned to the Investigative Division and will start his new assignment immediately.

Chief Dove commends the hard work of the men and women of the Natchitoches Police Department and feels that these changes and promotions will continue our forward progress.

Pictured from left are Sgt. Bobby Beard, Capt. Brad Walker, Lt. Keith McDonald, Chief Micky Dove, Asst. Chief Harmon Winters, Lt. Jessica Williams, Sgt. Victor Pinkney, Sgt. Bill Connell and Capt. Christopher Payne.

NSU slates Signing Day luncheon Wednesday at Prather Coliseum


Other than game days, there’s no bigger event in college football each year than National Signing Day, coming up next Wednesday, Feb. 1.

Northwestern State fans can get the first look at the Demons’ 2017 recruiting class and enjoy lunch at Prather Coliseum Wednesday for $20. Video highlights of each of the NSU football signees will be shown while head coach Jay Thomas and coaching staff members discuss the class.

Season tickets for NSU’s five home games in 2017 will go on sale at the event. The Demons have five Southland Conference home dates, including FCS playoff team Central Arkansas for homecoming on Oct. 21.

The annual NSU Signing Day Luncheon will also feature insight into the Lady Demon soccer recruiting class from head coach George Van Linder, the Louisiana Coach of the Year for 2016.

Each guest will get a package of credentials spotlighting each new NSU competitor. Door prizes will be awarded.

Food will be served beginning at 11:45. The program will start about 12:15 and should wrap up about 1.

The NSU football staff will be featured guests on the annual Signing Day Special Demon Huddle radio show from 4:30-6:30 on 100.7 FM KZBL, the flagship station of the Demon Sports Network. The show, co-hosted by Patrick Netherton and Dustin Cross, will originate from Cane River Grill in Natchitoches, with supporters welcome to attend.

Register for the Sweethearts for a Cure Pageant Feb. 18

The Sweethearts for a Cure Pageant will be held Saturday, Feb. 18. This pageant is a fundraiser for the Cure on the Cane Queens Relay team. All proceeds from the pageant will be given to the American Cancer Society. This is a great beginners pageant and a CROWN ALL event!

Entry Fee: $55 for the first contestant $30 for each additional sibling.
PayPal address:

Registration 8:30-9:30 a.m.
Competition 10 a.m.

0–12 months – Infant Miss 13-23 months – Baby Miss
2-3 years – Toddler Miss 4-5 years – Tiny Miss 6-7 years – Little Miss 8-9 years – Petite Miss 10-11 years – Deb Miss 12-13 years – Jr. Miss 14-16 years – Teen Miss 17-23 years – Miss 21 years – up (married/divorced/moms)

***Dresses do not have to be valentine colored or themed***
0 months – 9 years – Sunday Best (custom or off the rack)
10 years – up – Evening Wear (floor-length formal)
*No fake hair or fake teeth. 0-3 years (NO MAKEUP), 4 years and up (age appropriate hair and makeup)*

Queens: Each queen will receive a custom queen crown, queen banner, and goody bag (0-9 years) or bouquet (10-23 years).
All other contestants: Each contestant will receive a participation crown, goody bag (0-9 years) or bouquet (10-23 years).
Photogenic: Each photogenic winner will receive a photo frame.
Side Awards: *These will be given in each division.* Each side award winner will receive a custom certificate for most beautiful, prettiest hair, best fashion, and prettiest smile.

For more information contact Michelle Armstrong 318.652.1660 or Hillary Severin at 318.471.9449.

Ponderings with Doug – January 27, 2017

DougFUMCDo you have a drawer below your oven? What is in the drawer? Are you using the drawer for the proper purpose?

My mom used the drawer to store her cookie sheets and such not. Right demands that you do as your mother did. Who influences your decisions and moral choices? How do you determine what is the right thing to do? When is doing the same thing someone else did, wrong? Do you have the facts, or second hand information? How do you know when someone is spouting urban legend, or misleading you?

Do you know the truth about oven drawers?

There is an old African tale about a man and his lamb. He fed it by hand and played with it every day. When hard times came he was forced to take his pet lamb to market, to sell it.

Now there were three thieves who heard of the man’s plan and plotted to take the lamb from him in a unique way.

Early in the morning the man rose and put the lamb over his shoulders, to carry it to market. As he traveled down the road the first thief approached him and said, “Why are you carrying that dog on your shoulders?”

The man laughed, “This is not a dog. It is my pet lamb. I am taking it to market,” he said.

After he walked a bit further, the second thief crossed his path and said, “What a fine looking dog you have. Where are you taking it?”

Puzzled, the man took the lamb off his shoulders and looked carefully at it. “This is not a dog,” he said slowly. “It is a lamb and I am taking it to market.”

Shortly before he reached the market, the third thief met the man and said, “Sir, I don’t think that they will allow you to take your dog into the market.”

Completely confused, the man took the lamb off his shoulders and set it on the ground. “If three different people say that this is a dog, then surely it must be a dog,” he thought. He left the lamb behind and walked to the market. If he had bothered to turn around he would have seen the three thieves picking up the lamb and going toward their home.

Maternal peer pressure caused me never to consider other options for the drawer under the oven. I realized like the man with the lamb, I’m giving into peer pressure in deciding the possibilities for that drawer. It can’t be anything but what my mother said it was.

Let’s go back to your oven. If your oven is as old as mom’s oven, then you are correct in placing pots and pans in the storage drawer. However, some of the newer ovens come with a warming drawer.

So the purpose of that lower drawer has changed. It would be silly to try and warm your food in a storage drawer and it might be dangerous storing your plastic lids in a warming drawer.

It is not your mother’s oven!

I need a center that holds when the world is flying off in a thousand different directions. I need a source of spiritual wisdom when the world claims that darkness is light and vice versa. I need to follow one who is not influenced by the whims of trendiness. In the middle of the chaos of change, I need the unchangeable. I need a source of truth that won’t tell me the lamb is a dog for ulterior motives.

The place I am going is where I always end up; Jesus.



On Thursday afternoon January 26 at approximately 4:48pm, Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Deputies, Louisiana State Police and Natchitoches Regional Medical Center EMS responded to a single-vehicle injury crash in the 500 block of Shady Grove Road east of Robeline, La.

Three juveniles were reportedly in the 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer when it overturned.

A passenger was transported from the scene by EMS to Natchitoches Regional Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.

The crash is being investigated by Trooper D. Morvant assigned to LSP Troop-E Alexandria.


Robeline man captured during manhunt, background check reveals he’s a Missouri rape suspect

Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Deputies and Natchitoches Multi-jurisdictional Drug Task Force Agents captured a Missouri rape suspect after a brief manhunt near the Allen community on Thursday afternoon in west Natchitoches Parish according to Natchitoches Parish Sheriff Victor Jones.

NPSO Patrol Division deputies and NPSO Criminal Investigations Division detectives were working in the Allen community on a criminal investigation Jan. 26 at 12:26 p.m. when they observed three individuals walking on Hwy. 485.

They stopped to identify and interview the individuals. While requesting NCIC criminal background checks, one of the three identified as Ernest Calvin Meeks Jr., 23 of Robeline, fled into some woods on near Allen-Marthaville Road.

The NCIC database check revealed Meeks was wanted by the Kansas City, Missouri Police for Forcible Rape with a Gun since November 2016.

Additional NPSO Deputies and NMJDTF agents responded to the scene while LSP Air Support and Winn Correctional Center bloodhounds were deployed to the area to assist in the manhunt.

Deputies set-up a perimeter of the area and continued sightings of the suspect as he ran in the woods attempting to evade arrest.

At 1:02 p.m., Meeks was taken into custody without incident.

Meeks was transported to the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center, where he was booked, and charged with being a Fugitive from Missouri for Forcible Rape with a Gun.
He is expected to be extradited to Missouri at a later date.

Sheriff Jones said that he is extremely pleased that the NPSO has taken a rape suspect off of the streets in Natchitoches Parish; and saved others from possible harm from this individual who belongs incarcerated until he is brought before the court of law.

NPD catches Natchitoches businesses selling to underage persons

The Natchitoches Police Department conducted a vender compliance check on Jan. 25 from 5-7 p.m.

Officers used underage persons to attempt to purchase tobacco and alcohol at several locations in Natchitoches. During this operation two subjects were arrested for unlawful sales to underage persons.

The Natchitoches Police Department will be conducting more of this type of crime prevention in the near future.

City assures residents time capsule is in good hands


Inquiring minds wanted to know what would happen to the time capsule built into the Fleur de Lis stage on the downtown riverbank. When construction began earlier this month on the Rue Beauport Riverbank Renovation Project, some residents were concerned about the time capsule’s fate once the stage was demolished.

According to information provided by the City of Natchitoches, knowing the stage would be demolished early on in the project, crews opened up the enclosure for the time capsule Jan. 11 while work crews were setting up. The plaque describing the 275th anniversary of Natchitoches and the placement of the time capsule were carefully removed, as was the time capsule. Both are carefully stored, ready to be placed back in a designated area of the new stage.

Rick and Carolyn Harrington were the chairs of Natchitoches’ 275th anniversary celebration in 1989 when the time capsule was placed underneath the stage. Sam and Charlsie Cocker were vice chairs. When Rick heard about the construction and the upcoming demolition of the stage he wrote a letter to Mayor Lee Posey asking that it and the tile floor of the stage be taken care of. The floor depicts the Louisiana Purchase. Both the floor and the time capsule are considered significant pieces of Natchitoches’ history.

The 100 year time capsule is due to be opened in 2089 and is filled with items that a committee thought citizens of the future would find of interest. Items inside include a letter from Mayor Joe Sampite to the citizens of the future, a letter from the 275th anniversary celebration chairs, and other artifacts of 1989.

Force for Kylie: Star Wars helps young girl cope with organ transplants


Members of the La 501st Star Wars Legion, many from the Natchitoches area, will help a young girl out in a big way. Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Kylo Ren, Storm troopers and Scout troopers will be present at the “Force for Kylie” fundraiser event Feb. 4 at 10 a.m. at the TREE house children’s museum in Alexandria.

Kylie is currently in Omaha, Neb. receiving three organ transplants: liver, pancreas and small bowel. This transplant came after 6 years of waiting. She is only 10 and she will be in recovery for nearly a year. She is a huge Star Wars fan and is in need of the force!

Natchitoches members of the 501st Zack and Josh Dyess met Kylie in October. Zack did some “force training” with her (light saber fighting). They realized they wanted to do something to send some relief from the Empire.

Kylie’s story of perseverance has spread and the gofundme account set up in her name has collected over $15,000 of its $20,000 goal in 32 months.

Kylie’s mother, Joan Catherine Broussard‎ said, “Kylie’s journey forever changed our lives 10 years ago. I am so blessed the Lord picked me to be her mommy. My goal is for my baby to have healthy, happy lives. One day at a time, one step at a time.”

Kylie is from Alexandria, but Natchitoches 501st members are putting on the event after her sister reached out to them because she is such a big Star Wars fan. The TREE house children’s museum got together with the 501st with an idea to help raise money for her family’s medical and travel expenses.

For the ‘Force for Kylie’ event, the museum will be open for kids to meet some of their favorite characters from the Star Wars universe, and to give hope through the force to Kylie! There is a $10 all day admission to the museum and 100 percent will go to Kylie. The event includes a meet and greet with the premiere Lucasfilm Star Wars costuming group (the 501st Legion), activities, a craft and more.

“The 501st Legion strives to make a difference in the lives of children in need,” said Natchitoches member Eddie Harrington. “Of course, as members we are Star Wars freaks and we get to share that passion with kids like Kylie by visiting them in the hospital, being part of special days for them such as their last day of chemo treatment, or helping raise funds on their behalf. If even for only a minute we can take their minds off of their pain and struggles by meeting Darth Vader or any of their other favorite characters, then it was all worth it. We are bad guys just trying to do good!”

The 501st legion, known as Vader’s Fist, is a world wide organization with thousands of members and is the premiere Lucasfilm Star Wars costuming group.

Each costume goes through a rigorous process of inspection to ensure it is truly movie quality. Only then can a member join and begin doing charitable work as an official Star Wars character.

Anyone who knows of a kid in need who loves Star Wars can contact the 501st at: For more information on the ‘Force for Kylie’ event contact or to make a donation email Eddie Harrington at or call 225-362-9835.

Rotarians receive recognition, Club learns about Happy Tails


Past President of Rotary of Natchitoches, Kendall Perkins presented a Rotary International Foundation Certificate at its last meeting Jan. 24 to Rotarians Jimmy Berry, Carolyn Roy, and Bridget Starnes Briley honoring their collaboration with the Rotary Club of Natchitoches in raising $1,000 for the financial support of the End Polio Now Project. Pictured from left are Berry, Roy, Briley and Perkins (photo by Dr. Ron McBride).


Juanita Murphy, president of the Natchitoches Humane Society and its rescue facility Happy Tails, spoke to the club about the many ways they support, care for, and provide good homes for animals. They are busy with the many tasks and appreciate any donations to support their worthy cause. Pictured from left are Rotary President Fred Terasa, Murphy and the Rotarian with the Program, Ron Mayfield.

Conday, Jones, Rhodes and Sharplin named to 2017 NYP 4 Under 40 Awards

The Natchitoches Young Professionals (NYP), a subdivision of the Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce, named four members to the 2017 top 4 Under 40 awards. The NYP 4 Under 40 award is awarded to four members who excel in community leadership and professional achievements while maintaining a consistent level of involvement with NYP.

Nominations for the NYP 4 Under 40 awards are accepted each year through an anonymous survey open to anyone wishing to vote for their NYP member of choice. This year, nearly 50 nominations were cast for over 20 different members of NYP.  A committee made of up three NYP Board and three Chamber of Commerce Board members made the final decision for this year’s cast of award winners: Howard Conday, Jr., Valencia Sarpy Jones, Justin Rhodes and Lauryn Sharplin.

Conday is owner and operator of a private law practice focusing on criminal defense/personal injury law within the State of Louisiana and sports/entertainment law within the State of New York. Born and raised in Natchez, Conday received his bachelor’s degree from LSU and his MBA and Juris Doctor degree from Howard University in Washington, DC. Conday said, “Of all the work I have done, servicing the kids in Natchitoches through the juvenile justice system has been the single most satisfying accomplishment of my life.”

Jones is a successful financial services professional with New York Life Insurance Company in Natchitoches and NYLIFE Securities LLC. Jones obtained her bachelor’s degree from LSU in 2005 and in August of 2016 she was appointed to the LSU Board of Supervisors. She also serves on the Natchitoches Jazz/R&B Festival Marketing Committee and is a new member of the NYP Board of Directors and of the Boys Scouts of America Norwela Council. When asked what it meant to be considered for this award, Jones said, “Community involvement in this amazing place we call home is my passion. My service as a member of various governing boards gives me a voice to affect positive change in the organization and in the community.”

Rhodes is owner of Rhodes Properties and Development, LLC. Rhodes Properties is a construction company rooted in Natchitoches, which has significantly expanded its reach in 2016 with over 50 new residential construction projects in Natchitoches, Ruston, Pineville, Alexandria, Toledo Bend, Coushatta and Marksville. Justin Rhodes is a member and past board member of both the Natchitoches Area Jaycees and NYP, and is also a member of the NSU Demons Unlimited Foundation Executive Board. He received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Mississippi State, but has adopted the demons as his hometown team. With all the success that Rhodes Properties has experienced this year, Rhodes is most proud of the fact that in 2016 Rhodes Properties sponsored over 25 community events and donated $50,000 back to the Natchitoches community that he is so proud to call home.

Sharplin has spent the last six years managing the Comfort Suites hotel in Natchitoches, which has consecutively been an award winning and nationally ranked property. This week, Sharplin will represent Natchitoches at the 2017 Louisiana Travel Promotion Association Awards Banquet as an Accommodation of the Year finalist (winners to be announced Jan. 26). Sharplin received her bachelor’s degree from Northwestern State University in 2007 and is a founding member of NYP. As the NYP Philanthropy Chair, she has organized numerous events for the community such as city park clean-ups, food drives for the Cane River Food Pantry, Witch Way to Main Street activities, and most recently, spearheaded a city-wide campaign to collect items to donate and deliver to the Louisiana flood victims. Sharplin is also a member of Service League, the Natchitoches Parish Tourist Commission and the Coastal Conservation Association. Sharplin said, “I am committed to serving a community which has provided so much for me and my family. I hope to encourage community involvement and evolvement to ensure Natchitoches continues to thrive and provide a great quality of life.”

All four recipients will be recognized at the Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce Luncheon Thursday, Feb. 2.  For more information on the Natchitoches Young Professionals visit



City Marshal Randy Williams wanted to inform the following people that they have outstanding bench warrants through the Natchitoches City Marshal’s Office. The names on this list did not pay their fines in full nor did they return to court on the court date they were sentenced to by City Court Judge Gahagan. These individuals will need to clear up their fines and bench warrant fees at the City Marshal’s Office located at 373 Second St. to stop any further actions:

Early Antwine Jr., 1023 Berry Ave, Natch, La – Discharging Firearm
Terri Black, 4523 Tannehill LN, Shreveport, La – Exp MVI
Scotty Brisker, 2815 Red Oak Rd, Coushatta, La – DWI
Vivan Clark, 190 Sorgee Rd, Natch, La – DWI, No Brake Lights, NCR
Tai Evans, 815 Woodyard Dr, Natch, La – TBS
Samuel Futrell, 211 Dunn Rd, Natch, La – DWI
Krystle Gates, University Columns, Tarlton Dr #511, Natch, La – TBS
Connie Helaire, Lakeview Apts #4216, Natch, La –Telephone Harassment
Shelia Johnson, 1901 South Dr #985, Natch, La – TBS
Randy Lewis, 1025 Allen St, Natch, La – TBS
Kendrick Nicholas, 175 Lebrus St, Natch, La – DP, No DL
Yolanda Pitts, 618 Hwy 478, Natch, La – TBS
Latarie Robinson, 206 Miranda Loop #2, Natch, La – NSB
Jada Smith, 601 Pavie St, Natch, La – DP
Shendell Solitaire, 1901 South Dr Lot #835, Natch, La – SPOM
Kyshawn Stephens, 815 Woodyard Dr, Nat, La – Exp MVI
Travis Thompson, 146 Schoolhouse Rd, Cloutierville, La – NSB, Exp MVI
Timesha Walker, 440 Fairground Rd, Natch, La – NSB
Holly Borne, 112 B Amulet St, Natch, La – DP, NSB, DWI
Mary Bush, 120 Reba St, Natch, La – DP
Roshonda Young, 719 Brahma Dr, Natch, La – No MVI

Trial (T):
Alicia Glass, 1553 Grace St, Natch, La – TBS
Stacy Brown, 1425 Bonnie Davis, Natch, La – No DL
Ashley Croll, 1501 North 5th St, Natch, La – TBS
Henry Jackson, 100 Maria LN, Natch, La – No License Plate
Laerica Ellis, 1305 South 7th St, Monroe, La – SPOM
Selena Mitchell, 847 Ashland Rd, Coushatta, La – Theft

He Welcomes Scarlet to the Family

By Joe Darby

joedarbyShe’s low and sleek. She’s bright red and She’s going to have racing stripes. She has 305 horsepower and she’s mine!

At least for the next three years. Yes, dear reader, I’ve finally done it. After contemplating getting a sexy Dodge Challenger coupe for about a year, I’ve leased one.

Mary says that such a car may be a bit much for a 75-year-old man. But my 2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible was getting a little long in the tooth and if I had to get new wheels, why not get something that suited a guy who has been a car nut all of his life.

I’ve always named my cars and the Challenger has been christened Scarlet. Like Scarlet O’Hara, she’s young and brash and hard not to notice.

The PT Cruiser, for obvious reasons, was Petey. My classic 1939 Chrysler, being an Imperial, is known as the Empress. Even my first car ever, a 1951 Mercury that I started driving in 1957, was called Pig Iron, because it was so tough and rugged. (At least until the engine’s main bearings went out a couple of years later, after I’d put some hard mileage on it.)

So anyway, Scarlet is the latest in a long line of many interesting cars I’ve driven in the last 60 years. I’d actually test driven a Challenger with the famed Hemi engine last week, which makes that model one of the most powerful and fastest American cars running.

But, being worried about my safety, Mary put her foot down (and I’m not talking about on the accelerator) on that one. A car with approximately 500 horsepower and a top speed of maybe upwards of 150 was definitely not for a geezer of my age, she said. She may — or may not — have been right. But in any case, I’ll be satisfied with Scarlet’s mere 305 horsepower. Probably enough horses to get me safely around a log truck on a two-lane road, I would imagine.

As I said, I’ve always loved cars. When I was quite a young lad, I discovered the Revell plastic car models. In those years they featured models of motoring’s early days. I built little plastic versions of a 1910 Model T Ford, a 1909 Stanley Steamer, and Fords and Cadillacs from 1903.

I still have a pretty good collection of miniature car models, these being precision models made of metal, with doors and hoods that open and with detailed engines under the hood.
I started reading car magazines when I was 12 1/2 and I’ve never really stopped. Today I subscribe to Hemmings Classic Cars and to Collectible Automobiles, as well as buying a fair number of classic car books every year.

I’ve always enjoyed driving something that’s relatively rare, something that you don’t see around every corner. Among my more scarce cars were a 1959 Morris Minor woody station wagon, a little British “estate wagon” as they call it, that was lot’s of fun. I also had a 1959 Simca Aronde sedan, a neat little French car, and a 1961 Sunbeam Alpine, a little white British sports car. The Alpine had the first set of racing stripes that I ever had, by the way.

I also enjoyed driving a very cute little 1968 Fiat 850 Spyder sports car, my very first brand new car. Also bright red, I drove that tiny little guy all the way to Washington DC and back, almost getting blown off the road by 18 wheelers, but it was great fun.

They only time I drove prosaic four-door sedans was when my girls were growing up and we needed a nice roomy car for family vacations. But as soon as they got older, I was the proud new owner of a 1994 Chrysler LeBaron convertible. Red, of course.

One thing about my new Challenger, unlike many of my earlier wheels. It won’t be rare. They are very popular in the Natchitoches area and you can’t hardly drive anywhere without seeing at least one. But that’s all right. Scarlet is ready to take her place in the community.

Community comes together with one goal: Clean up the aftermath of a tornado

A visit with Jim Rhodes, Chairman of the Cane River Waterway Commission.


Organizations in Natchitoches Parish joined forces to help clean up the aftermath of a confirmed EF-2 tornado that blew through the Natchez area on the evening of Jan. 22. The Cane River Waterway Commission reached out after an emergency meeting it held Jan. 24 to declare an emergency on Cane River Lake. The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office sent inmates to clean up debris along the bank and deputies took a boat in the water to perform a sonar scan. There was no hazardous debris under the surface of the water and Cane River was reopened to boating traffic.

The Parish Government sent one of its trucks to haul off the materials strewn around the homes on Hwy. 494. The City volunteered an excavation machine and manpower to remove heavy debris along the riverbank. Some areas were too steep for the machine to reach, so the CRWC hired a private contractor to finish the work. According to the CRWC Chairman Jim Rhodes, the work is expected to be finished Jan. 26.

“It was a joint effort,” said Rhodes. “It’s a really good feeling to see everyone come together to help our citizens and clean things up in an effort to do what it takes to get someone’s life back to as close to normal as if can be.”

Rhodes was referring to Howard Johnson Jr., whose trailer flipped over while he was asleep inside. Rhodes said he was thankful that there were people to help him.

“Everyone that came out to help were their neighbors and that’s what neighbors are supposed to do,” said Rhodes.

NSU, Natchitoches Parish will get BESE grant for teacher residencies


Northwestern State University and Natchitoches Parish Schools will receive grant dollars from the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to advance the state-wide shift to full-year residencies for all aspiring teachers.

Although final numbers are not available, NSU requested $85,000 of the $1 million allocated to universities and Natchitoches Parish Schools should receive $10,000 of the over $500,000 allocated to school districts, said Dr. Kimberly McAlister, head of NSU’s Department of Teaching, Leadership and Counseling.

“NSU is completing its third pilot of having undergraduate early childhood and elementary education teacher candidates teach for an entire year in a single placement,” McAlister said. “Currently, we have teacher candidates completing a full year of residency at Weaver Elementary and Fairview Elementary. We are working to transition all undergraduate teacher education programs (secondary and K-12 programs) to this full year of residency.

Like many states across the nation, Louisiana’s schools have experienced staffing shortages and difficulty retaining excellent teachers. Last October, BESE adopted regulations to address these challenges, providing teacher candidates with a full-year classroom residency alongside an experienced mentor teacher, coupled with a competency-based curriculum that will provide them with the knowledge and skills needed for their first day of teaching. Teacher candidates admitted into programs in the 2018-19 year will be the first cohort to experience the required year-long residency and new competency-based models.

“The residency program is a key component to ensuring that new teachers enter the classroom ready on day one,” said BESE Vice President Dr. Holly Boffy. “This is an important initiative to further strengthen teaching in Louisiana. Great teachers pave the way for our students to excel academically and achieve their goals.”

The funding package, which draws from existing state and federal funds, is based on an approved funding formula that includes grant allocations for Louisiana universities with approved undergraduate teacher preparation programs, as well as 18 partnering school systems.

More than $1 million was awarded to universities to support staff costs related to the transition of preparation programs, and nearly $600,000 was awarded to school systems to provide 233 teacher candidates, or residents, completing year-long residencies and 228 mentor teachers hosting year-long residencies with $2,000 and $1,000 stipends, respectively.

Educators and preparation leaders alike cite clear benefits to the shift.

“We view the year-long residency as a positive move toward assuring our candidates are better prepared for the realities of today’s classrooms and the diverse student populations that occupy them,” McAlister said. “This extension to a year-long residency better connects theory with practice, making the experience more meaningful for candidates, and may improve both their preparation and retention in a Louisiana classroom.”

Pat Pierson and James Smith Reunion Day set for Feb. 25.

Like many of his coaching peers, Jordan Dupuy understands the importance of tradition.

In that vein, Dupuy was happy to announce Wednesday the date for the Pat Pierson and James Smith Reunion Day, which will take place at noon Feb. 25 in advance of Northwestern State’s Southland Conference basketball doubleheader with New Orleans.

For $10, Lady Demons alumni players, staff and coaches will receive two tickets to the 1 p.m. game against the Privateers, lunch and postgame gumbo. Additional tickets are available for $5 apiece.

Pierson compiled a 166-88 record across nine seasons (1979-87) as the Lady Demons head coach, winning three straight Gulf Star Conference titles and guiding Northwestern State to its first Division I postseason appearance, the 1986 National Women’s Invitational Tournament, where it reached the championship game.

Prior to becoming Northwestern State’s third head coach, Pierson was a four-year letter winner (1974-78) for the Lady Demons and was among the group of 13 women who became the first recipients of athletic scholarships to a Louisiana university.

Smith, who was hired by Pierson as an assistant coach in 1980, succeeded his mentor and became the program’s leader in career victories (340) across 17 seasons from 1987-2004. Smith’s resume included three Southland Conference championships and NCAA Tournament berths in 1989 and 2004. Smith also steered the Lady Demons to appearances in the 1995 NWIT and the 1999 Women’s NIT. The 1995 Lady Demons made the school’s second appearance in the NWIT finals.

In addition to the postseason appearances, Pierson and Smith led the Lady Demons to victories against Notre Dame, Duke, Louisville, Kansas, Florida, Oklahoma State and Iowa among their many notable wins.

“Coach Pierson and coach Smith helped bring our women’s basketball program to the forefront, not only on a state level, but a national level as well,” said Dupuy, who created a display in the Lady Demons locker room that six former players, including all-time great Joan Darbonne, signed following the Demons’ 113-65 win against Louisiana College on Dec. 20.

“Their legacy helped to create the tremendous opportunity I have today, and they did it the right way. The well-being of their players, both on and off the court, was first and foremost while they were graduating players and winning tons of games. This one day doesn’t come close to the credit and thanks they deserve, but it is a huge start. They are Lady Demon basketball.”

Following the game, the alumni in attendance are invited to add their names to the display in the locker room.

For more information or to RSVP to the event, contact Kelsey Martin at 318-357-5891 or via email at or Dupuy at Reservations also are being accepted at

PHOTO: File shot of former Northwestern State coaches Pat Pierson (left) and James Smith , who will be honored Feb. 25. NSU Photographic Services