NPD makes Narcotics and Illegal Firearms arrest in East Natchitoches

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Natchitoches Police Department officers performed a traffic stop on a suspicious vehicle in the area of St. Clair Avenue and Williams Avenue Feb. 24 just after 2 am. Officers observed suspected methamphetamine in plain view inside the vehicle. The driver, Darrell Jordan (D.O.B. 6/20/1980, B/M) fled from officers after being advised that he was under arrest. After a brief foot chase, Jordan was apprehended. It was later determined that Jordan was in possession of two firearms inside his vehicle, one of which was stolen recently in the Natchitoches area. It was also determined that Jordan was a convicted felon.

Jordan was charged with possession of Schedule II, possession of drug paraphernalia, resisting an officer, resisting an officer with force/violence, possession of firearm by convicted felon, – 2 counts possession of firearm in Presence of CDS , 2 counts battery of a police officer, – 2 counts Illegal possession of stolen firearms.

Jordan was placed in Natchitoches Parish Detention Center, where he awaits bond.

Library’s Friends to hold Annual Book Sale

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Some say there is no greater time to be had than with a good book… now imagine how great a time you could have with 10, 20, or even 30! The Friends of the Natchitoches Parish Library’s (FONPL) annual book sale will be held at the Natchitoches Arts Center at 716 Second St. on March 2-4. The hours for the book sale will be Thursday and Friday, 11am-6pm and Saturday, 9am-2pm.

Shoppers can expect to find thousands of books for sale, including children’s books, adult fiction, cookbooks, and books about travel, religion, business, arts and crafts, music and more. The Book Sale is the FONPL’s most important fundraiser of the year, and proceeds will help to provide many cultural, educational, and entertaining programs to benefit the community. Last year’s book sale was a big success, raising more than $3,200, and more importantly, getting thousands of books into the hands of community members.

The FONPL is a 501(c)(3) organization that works to support and enrich the capabilities, resources, and services of the Natchitoches Parish Library (NPL) through fundraising and advocacy efforts that benefit the community. The FONPL is dedicated to enhancing the programs and resources of our libraries. Funds raised by the FONPL are used to meet library needs not met through the traditional Natchitoches Parish Library budget. Funding support includes, but is not limited to, the purchase of special equipment and sponsorship of special, thematic library programs.

For more information about the book sale or other library programming or services, please contact the Natchitoches Parish Library’s Outreach Services Coordinator at 318-238-9236 or alan@natlib.org.

Krewe of Wag-uns Parade rolled Saturday

The Natchitoches Human Society held its annual Krewe of Wag-uns Saturday in Historic Downtown Natchitoches.

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Kevin’s Gallery

Her Royal Highness, Queen Mutt-A-Gras 2017: LUCY, owned by Sarah and Leigh Jackson
His Royal Majesty, King REX RUFUS 2017: HENRY “Longtail” Hammilton, owned by Scott Hamilton

The Royal Court consisted of all the Natchitoches Humane Society adoptable dogs from Happy TAILS including Duchess Sasha, Duchess Foxy, Duchess Dalila, Duchess Violet, Duchess Brownie, Duchess Rhineheart, Duchess Nola, Duchess Panda, Duke Jimmi, Duke Brody and Duke Berry.

Children’s Costume Contest:

1st Place – Josie Andrews – daughter of Klie Frye and stepfather Mitch Heer, grandmother Loura Frye, styled by Amanda Frye
2nd Place – Christal Sellers – parent, Malia Sellers
3rd Place- Lilyasta Laning – parents, Pia Wyatt and Rick Laning

Float Contest:

1st Place– Christal Sellers daughter of Malia Sellers 149
2nd Place– Hillary and Jeremy Bennett with Huggers 143
3rd Place– Winston (canine), owners Rick Lanning, Pia Wyatt, Axel, Lilyasta Laning

Dog Costume Contest:

1st Best in Show Pet – Buckley (a miniature horse) owned by Terry, Lanell, Laura and Emma Sklar
2nd Place Dog Costume – Ursula owned by Mary Hattaway
2nd Place Dog Costume – Huggers owned by Hillary and Jeremy Bennett
3rd Place Dog Costume – Snow owned by Braddox, Ashlea, Bayley and Hendrix Johnso

Their Mission:

To provide care and treatment for homeless animals in need;
To find them suitable homes;
To help guide the public in education regarding the health and care of animals; and
To raise awareness of the importance of heartworm prevention, spaying/neutering, vaccinations and the overall health and well being of animals.

Why Natchitoches Parish needs a Consolidated Government.

By Nicholas Wright/Opinion

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Government is the problem. The words of the late Ronald Reagan should resound loudly with Natchitoches Parish Government. It is in political science and not administration that this argument resides. A better form of home rule charter should exist for Natchitoches Parish. The parish, a tourist hotspot,should not have a deteriorating transportation infrastructure that affects revenue projections. Several reasons exist that support a parish-city consolidation:

The National League of Cities lists several of them. Consolidations produce cost savings (in the long-term), increase efficiency (overlapping or duplicated city and county services can be eliminated), improve resource base (increased legal powers, revenue sources, and jurisdiction), and enhance planning capacity (greater cooperation with the private sector may be fostered).

One can think of it as a President Trump solution.

Most importantly the National League of Cities says consolidations improve accountability. They say a consolidated entities responsibility for services can no longer be in dispute as it may have been between separate governments. This can be expanded on the political science track. A consolidated entity eliminates bureaucratic politicians. No longer will city districts dictate for parish decisions and vice versa. Therefore, a significant improvement is that the composition of taxes is evolving in the right direction.

Over the years, the argument for consolidation has shifted from one based on public administration (that is, seeking efficiency and effectiveness, productivity) to one based on political science (that is, seeking accountability). Consolidated metropolitan servicesare more accountable than fragmented services. Citizens can access consolidated services without trying to figure out whether X is a county service or a city service. The largest effects would most likely be seen in economic development, planning, and fire protection; three areas that the parish and city are mutual. In fact, the first consolidated government in America was New Orleans and Orleans Parish in 1805.

It should be noted that a consolidated government does not have to eliminate executive leadership for the parish. Two distinct service districts may also be created, with one to provide services for the urban population and another for the rural population. The current council-president model allows legislative participation, which has its political underpinnings. A consolidated parish-city will act like a council-manager model. It is not necessary for government to be synonymous with gridlock.

Generally, a consolidated parish-city government willsave a total of $30,000 to $110,000 that would otherwise pay for politician’s salaries. That is enough money to pave a two-lane road a mile. A mile of pavement is certainly enough to eliminate the pothole problem. This is a plan for Rural Access.

The $80,000 Parish President salary is exactly for the purpose of bringing in such a talented individual (as is the $6,000 per district council member). In fact, an early version of the HRCrequired for the Parish President to be “a graduate of an accredited university with a four year degree”.This is not unusual but for the lack of talent that the politicians are being paid for.That is because the current Parish President is an engineer, not a professional administrator. The disposition is known as Putt’s Law. It states that technocracy is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand. Therefore, every technocratic hierarchy, in time, develops a competence inversion.

Sundry may think that Natchitoches Parish is too small for a parish-city consolidation. However, there are many small consolidations, specifically the capitals of Nevada and Alaska. Being Louisiana’s oldest city, Natchitoches is very applicable to these scenarios. A consolidation would create greater citizen buy-in of public programs, saving fire districts and insurance. A consolidation would make programs more efficiently administered to make the tax dollar go further, saving Robeline-Marthaville a water system.

It is unusual that Natchitoches’s public officials are paid so much for such little talent. Two dollars from every resident to the Parish President. Compare this to the POTUS salary of $400,000 for a population over 300 million. New Mexican legislatures receive no salary. On balance, many of these positions are unnecessary and duplicative of other jurisdictions.

Finally, there is a unique form of government used in the State of Georgia. It is known as a sole commissioner model.This model eliminates the politics of a legislative council. The Parish President would then be the executive and legislature in governance. In theory, this model could be enacted with a two council member vote to amend the home rule charter. The Parish Council could ask to eliminate the Parish Council itself.

Otherwise, there is no Vox Populi and no one benefits.

Nicholas Wright holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and is currently attending graduate school for Public Administration.

The Natchitoches Parish Journal received this letter. The views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Natchitoches Parish Journal.  If you have an article or story of interest for publishing consideration by the NPJ, please send it to NPJNatLa@gmail.com.

Two LSMSA students make National Merit finalist list

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Two seniors from LSMSA are among approximately 15,000 finalists in the 62nd annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

They are Bethany Jenkins of Ville Platte and Mathew Weick of Baton Rouge. Both were recognized as National Merit semifinalists in September.

To become a finalist, these students and their high school submitted a detailed scholarship application, in which they provided information about their academic records, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment and honors and awards received.

Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin or religious preference.

Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2017. Every finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2,500 scholarships that will be awarded on a state representational basis. About 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by approximately 240 corporations and business organizations for finalists who meet their specified criteria, such as children of the grantor’s employees or residents of communities where sponsor plants or offices are located. In addition, about 200 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,500 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.

NMSC, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 440 business organizations and higher education institutions that share NMSC’s goals of honoring the nation’s scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.

About 1.5 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2014 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants.

PARISH ROAD TAX RENEWAL ELECTION – MARCH 25, 2017

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The ballot for the election to be held on March 25, 2017 includes the following four (4) very important tax renewals:

a. Road District 40 Ad Valorem tax
b. Parish Health Unit Ad Valorem tax
c. Parish Buildings Ad Valorem tax
d. Parish Library Ad Valorem tax

While all 4 taxes impact large segments of the population in the Parish, the Road District 40 tax is the one that impacts virtually everyone. The amount of the tax is 5 mills and it generates a little more than $1,000,000 per year for the highway department. This amount represents almost 40% of the total annual revenues the department receives from all sources.

We all know the problems we have in trying to maintain our Parish roads with the funds we have now. Just consider how much harder it will be if we lose 40% of our funds for operations. If that happens, there a major reduction in the amount of work we can do.

There are approximately 1000 roads in the Parish road maintenance inventory. The department has a total of 18 employees, including field workers, shop mechanics and office staff. In the 1980s, the highway department had over 100 employees to maintain basically the same mileage of roads. As costs increased faster than revenues, the Police Jury reduced the size of the department.

It is a common misconception that the Parish has a lot of money for road work and that it must be going somewhere else. If you check the highway department budget, you will find that it receives the $1,000,000 from the road tax, and about $1,600,000 from a number of other sources. The other sources include about $800,000 from state and federal sources, $500,000 from Parish sales tax and various other smaller amounts.

This appears to be a lot of money and it is, if one were building a house or an office building. Constructing and repairing roads takes a lot more money. For instance, to build or reconstruct a road base and overlay it with asphalt typically costs about $250,000 to $300,000 per mile of road. Similarly, the construction of a gravel road could cost about $60,000 to $70,000 per mile.

The problem has been that highway funds have remained fairly steady over the years while the costs to run the department have increased dramatically. The fastest growing cost contributor has been the cost of health insurance for employees and retirees. Other costs (such as fuel, tires and rock) have risen faster than the funds needed to purchase them. When costs outrun revenues, the highway department has to cut expenditures to keep a balanced budget. That means cutting road maintenance.

We understand the frustration of Parish residents over the poor condition of most of our roads. No one likes a bumpy ride or having to make frequent repairs to their vehicles. Choosing to express one’s frustration by voting against the renewal of a tax, however, is not going to help the situation. In fact, it will only make things worse.

On March 25, 2017, the people of the Parish will have the opportunity to choose between two paths. One is to support the highway department efforts by voting to renew the tax. The other is to withdraw a major funding source of the department by defeating the tax renewal. If that happens, it will accelerate the decline in our roads and the quality of life of our people.

The choice belongs to the voters. We can only hope that they will appreciate the importance of their votes on the future of our Parish.

2/27/17 City Council Agenda and meeting notice

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FEBRUARY 27, 2017
5:30 P.M.

A G E N D A

1. CALL TO ORDER

2. INVOCATION

3. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

4. READING AND APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES OF FEBRUARY 13, 2017

5. ORDINANCES – FINAL:
#009 Mims Ordinance Revoking The Dedication Of A Portion Of St. Denis Street, A Portion Of Sibley Street, And A Portion Of Lafayette Street, Being A Portion Of Each Right Of Way Beginning At Their Intersection With The Eastern Right Of Way Of The Union Pacific Railroad And Running Back To The East For A Distance, Declaring That Said Portions Of St. Denis Street, Sibley Street And Lafayette Street Are Abandoned And The Dedications Revoked, Retaining An Easement Across The Former Street For Public Utility Purposes, Providing For An Effective Date Of The Ordinance, And Savings Clause.

6. ORDINANCES – INTRODUCTION:
#010 Batiste Ordinance Authorizing The Mayor Of The City Of Natchitoches To Award The Bid For Christmas Lighting Supplies.
(Bid No. 0594)

#011 Harrington Ordinance Approving The Acquisition Of A 0.256 Acre Tract Of Ground Located In Section 81, Township 9 North, Range 7 West, From Grand Havens, L.L.C., For The Cash Consideration Of Twelve Thousand Five Hundred Dollars, Authorizing The Mayor Of The City Of Natchitoches, Lee Posey, To Execute A Cash Sale Deed On Behalf Of The City For The Acquisition Of The Tract And To Execute Any And All Other Related Documents That Might Be Necessary And Proper, To Provide For Advertising, And A Savings Clause.

#012 Nielsen Ordinance Accepting And Approving The Final Second Amended And Restated Power Supply Agreement Between Cleco Power LLC And The City Of Natchitoches, Dated January 1, 2017, In Order To Extend The Power Supply Contract Between Cleco Power LLC And The City Of Natchitoches Dated April 1, 2010, As Extended By Agreement Dated June 1, 2014, For The Continued Sale Of Power And Energy Between Cleco Power LLC And The City Of Natchitoches, Louisiana And Authorizing The Mayor, Lee Posey, To Execute The Amended And Restated Power Supply Agreement.

7. RESOLUTIONS:
#014 Morrow Resolution Authorizing The Mayor To Execute Change Order No. 4 To The Contract Between The City Of Natchitoches And Regional Construction, LLC. For The City Park Walking Track And Parking Project. (Bid No. 0576)

#015 Mims Resolution Approving An Assignment Of That Agreement Dated March 1, 1996, Entered Into By And Between Cedar Grove Limited Partnership And The City Of Natchitoches From Cedar Grove Limited Partnership To Southwood Utilities, Inc., And Authorizing The Mayor Of The City Of Natchitoches, Louisiana, Lee Posey, To Execute Documents Required Or Necessary To Evidence That The City Of Natchitoches Approves The Assignment Of The Agreement.
8. REPORTS: Pat Jones – Financial Report

9. ANNOUNCEMENTS:

10. ADJOURNMENT

• The next scheduled City Council meeting will be Monday, March 13, 2017.

Program helps students ASCEND

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Rho Beta Omega and Eta Chi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority Inc. NSULA hosted the ASCEND Youth Enrichment Program at Northwestern State University Feb. 21. ASCEND is a free youth enrichment program designed to motivate, engage, and assist high school students in reaching their maximum potential in their journey to college or vocational employment.

ASCEND focuses on the following key areas: Achievement, Self-Awareness, Communication, Engagement, Networking, Developmental Skills.

The event allowed high school students to fellowship, network and seek advice from both AKA chapters. The next ASCEND meeting will be held in March.

Vardanian earns NSU’s second-straight SLC Player of the Week award

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Sophomore Iryna Vardanian kept the Southland Conference Women’s Tennis Player of the Week honors in Natchitoches for the second week in a row as her 3-1 overall record for the week earned the most votes in the conference.

Vardanian’s award follows on the heels of freshman Emilija Dancetovic’s conference-best performance a week ago.

The sophomore from Kiev, Ukraine posted three wins against two former Southland Conference members in Texas State and Texas San Antonio.

Vardanian extended her team-best singles win streak to six matches with a pair of wins over the weekend. She overcame Texas State’s Pippa Carr with a 6-3, 7-5 win on Saturday. She followed her strong performance with a 6-3, 6-1 rolling against the Roadrunners’ Denisa Ibrahimovic on Sunday. Vardanian has played every match of the season in the No. 2 singles position.

Vardanian’s first victory of the weekend came against Texas State’s Eva Dench and Alex Jones in a 6-1 win in doubles with sophomore Polina Mutel on Saturday.

Northwestern State takes a weekend off before squaring off against Grambling State and LSU-Alexandria on Wednesday, March 1. The Lady Demons will then turn around and travel to Sam Houston State on Saturday and Lamar on Sunday to open SLC competition.

Follow updates all season on Twitter @NSUdemonsWTN.

Ten LSMSA students enter Poetry Out Loud contest: Three to represent school at state competition

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Ten students from LSMSA competed in the Poetry Out Loud contest held Thursday, Feb. 9, in the recital hall of the Center for Performance and Technology.

Competitors were Sydney McCollough, a junior from Mansfield; Caitlynn Sengchiam, a sophomore from New Iberia; Ian Crochet, a sophomore from New Iberia; Anne-Marie Higginbotham, a sophomore from Lafayette; Rosemarie Skillman, a sophomore from Denham Springs; Cydnie Andrepont, a sophomore from Crowley; Lauren Tuggle, a senior from Benton; Dakota Trim, a sophomore from Baton Rouge; Nautica Jones, a junior from St. Martinville; and Gavin Jones, a senior from Shreveport.

Each contestant recited two poems from memory. Their presentations were judged by a panel of three former LSMSA English teachers – Dr. Nahla Beier, Dr. Rodney Allen and Dr. Art Williams.

Anne-Marie Higginbotham placed first in the event. She recited “Domestic Situation” by Ernest Hilbert and “I Am Learning to Abandon the World” by Linda Pastan.

“I chose these poems because they both discuss subjects that I feel are important,” said Higginbotham. “Also, by reciting these poems, I feel like their messages could impact and maybe even make people reconsider how they look at things in life for the better.”

Higginbotham said that at first reciting poetry in front of a crowd and judges seemed really intimidating.

“However, I considered how I have already had experience performing in front of an audience and the fact that I now know how to conquer stage fright, so I decided that I would participate.

“Poetry has always been a passion of mine, and when I realized that I could practice my passion in a comfortable environment for a special project, I had to pursue it.”

Rosemarie Skillman placed second in the competition. She recited “Truth” by Gwendolyn Brooks and “All This and More” by Mary Karr.

“I chose these poems because they are the type of poems I enjoy,” said Skillman.

Higginbotham, Skillman and Lauren Tuggle, who placed third, will represent LSMSA at the state competition set for Saturday, March 11, at the Capital Park Museum in Baton Rouge. The state competition is sponsored by the Arts Council of Baton Rouge, with assistance from the Louisiana Division of the Arts.

“I am so excited and honored to represent LSMSA at the state competition,” said Higginbotham. “I am also a little nervous, but I know that with all of the love and support I am already receiving from my family and friends, I will be confident when the day of the competition comes.”

CRWC marks beginning of Pump Station construction

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The Cane River Waterway Commission held a groundbreaking ceremony Feb. 23 to mark the beginning of construction for the Pumping Station Project. The pump station is the last stage in a larger project to transfer water from the Red River to Cane River Lake. CRWC Chairman James “Jim” Rhodes said they’re hoping the project will be finished by late summer. However, the pump, motor and filtration system for this one-of-a-kind project are being manufactured in California and Baton Rouge, which makes a definitive completion date hard to estimate.

Community members at the groundbreaking ceremony included Contractor James Womack and his son Camden, James Grantham, Mayor Lee Posey, Bill Robertson from Commissioner Foster Campbell’s Office, CRWC Vice-Chair Margaret Vienne, CRWC Chairman James “Jim” Rhodes, CRWC member Larry Paige, farmer Danny Methvin, Gerald Longlois, Tim Methvin, Bryant Collins and Cane River Patrol Officer Betty Fuller.

NOTICE TO CONSTRUCTION CONTRACTORS, LABOR UNIONS AND PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS

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The Northwestern State University intends to solicit help from the Louisiana Army National Guard under the Innovative Readiness Construction Assistance Program. The project will be for construction assistance with the Army ROTC Rappel Tower Project. The work will be performed during the Louisiana Army National Guard Fiscal Year 2017. No local funds are available to complete this project without National Guard assistance.

Local contractors, labor union organizations or private individuals who have questions or who wish to voice opposition of the National Guard’s assistance regarding this project may contact CPT John Welch at john.j.welch1.mil@mail.mil or 318-357-6020, no later than March 1, 2017 at 3:00 p.m.

Persons not filing comments within the timeframe noted will be considered to have waived their objections to the participation of the Louisiana Army National Guard in this project.

NCHS Soccer players receive LHSAA Academic All-State Award

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Three NCHS Lady Chief Soccer players received the LHSAA Academic All-State Award during halftime of the Division I State Championship Soccer game in New Orleans Feb. 23. To be eligible for this award you must have a 4.0 GPA for all four years of high school while playing soccer.

Pictured from left are Bailey Thompson, Carli Raupp and Cameron Owsley.

AREA AGENCIES FUNDED BY SPECIAL SESSION

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The just concluded special legislative session dealt with an estimated three hundred four million dollars shortfall in the state budget. Members of the area’s delegation had praise for the Governor’s handling of the current state budget shortfalls.

One of the big arguments was over withdrawing funds from the Rainy Day Fund. Some wanted to withdraw one hundred nineteen million dollars, some nothing, and the compromise was reached at ninety-nine million.

Area Representative Terry Brown said “my goal was to fund schools, hospitals, and infrastructure in the parishes in his district. We took care of the health unit and Natchitoches Parish Hospital.”

Senator Gerald Long says, “About two hundred five million dollars of the shortfall was absorbed through cuts in the Department of Health and Human Services. Long adds “most other state departments will have a 2 to 3 percent reduction.”

Funding for education, K-12 schools, state medical facilities and health units, and others providing state services were protected during the special session. Both Long and Brown had praise for Governor John Bel Edwards’ handling of the State’s finances. Long put it this way, “Governor Edwards was absolutely remarkable in dealing with the state budget situation.”

As for the future, the regular legislative session this spring will have to tackle what Senator Long terms “a weak economy, a decrease in oil and gas revenues, and the need for more economic growth.” Representative Brown says, “The Easter Bunny is not going to show up and pay the indebtedness of the State.” Brown says some of the spending priorities need to be changed in order to continue state services to all Louisianians who need them.

Program changes enable more working families to access child care assistance

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The Louisiana Department of Education changed eligibility requirements for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), which provides federal funds to help low-income families pay for child care while working or attending school or training. The changes enable more working families in Louisiana to access child care assistance.
The new eligibility requirements, which are effective immediately, state:

Families who work at least 20 hours a week are now eligible;
Students enrolled in school or job training full-time, regardless of total hours in class, are eligible; and Families of children with special needs who demonstrate 15 hours a week are eligible, as they often face more challenges in sustaining work hours due to the needs of their children.

“The eligibility requirements for an assistance program that provides quality care for children from low-income families must acknowledge the needs of working families,” said State Superintendent of Education John White. “These changes not only ensure more working families have access to the assistance they need; it also makes certain that more children are enrolled in programs that will prepare them to begin school.”

The policy changes are part of a broader effort by the Department, in collaboration with the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), child care providers, advocates and families, to unify the system of early childhood education and to prepare all children for kindergarten by increasing funding and access to child care statewide.

Previously, families who were working full-time but were not guaranteed 30 hours a week every week could not access child care assistance. That meant they often could not afford stable child care, making it more difficult to go to work or school.

Moreover, the CCAP stipend for most Louisiana families averaged only 28 percent of the amount provided for pre-K programs; low payments also led to low teacher pay, which made it difficult to attract and train trained educators; and families with children in child care would lose payments immediately if a parent lost a job.

“The child care industry is excited about these changes that we expect will allow our child care businesses to better serve Louisiana families in need, enabling parents to work and children to thrive in quality early learning centers,” said Jonathan Pearce, president of the Child Care Association of Louisiana.

The state’s unusually high eligibility requirements, which were among the most stringent in the nation, along with the reduced funding for the program led to a 60 percent decrease–from 25,000 children to 11,000 children–in the number of families receiving child care subsidy over a five-year period.

To combat this, in August 2015, BESE approved changes to increase the funding to providers and to reduce expensive out-of-pocket costs for working Louisiana families. The plan reduced out-of-pocket costs for families and increased the state’s payments to providers. The plan also allowed families to remain eligible for CCAP for at least one year, regardless of changes in work or school status.

The changes in funding, paired with the new eligibility policies, can help “reverse this trend,” said Melanie Bronfin, executive director of the Policy Institute and member of the statewide Early Childhood Advisory Council, “which means more young children will benefit from high quality care and education that prepares them for kindergarten.”

Currently, more than 10,000 Louisiana families receive assistance through the program. If the number of families who are eligible for and interested in child care assistance exceeds the number of spots available, as a result of the changes, the Department will establish a waitlist to prioritize families according to need.

NSWCD to hold Annual Tree Sale March 8-10

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The Natchitoches Soil & Water Conservation Tree and Shrub Sale, will be held March 8-10 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on the vacant lot at the corner of St. Clair and Williams Avenues in Natchitoches.

There will be a variety of bare root and potted trees and shrubs, including River Birch, Live Oak, Sawtooth Oak, Strawberry Bush, Chinquapin, White, pink and red Dogwood, Crape Myrtle, Fern, Azalea, Gardenia, Hydrangea, Indian Hawthorne, Sweet Olive, Sago Palm, Mayhaw, Apple, Peach, Pear, Plum, Blueberry, Fig, Pecans, Paw-Paw and others.
The tree sale is the NSWCD’s largest fundraiser of the year. All proceeds benefit the community through sponsoring area projects including: conservation essay, and soil and water stewardship week, conservation education programs, forestry awareness and restoration of wildlife habitats.

For more information call 357-8366, ext 3, or email benny.dobson@la.nacdnet.net or jd.cox@la.nacdnet.net. Go to the district website (www.nswcd.org) to print out a pre-order form and mail to 6949 Hwy. 1 Bypass, Natchitoches, LA 71457. There are a limited number of seedlings available, so for best selections come early.

Flavor of Louisiana, set for Friday, April 7

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A team of culinary arts students from Northwestern State University’s Department of Hospitality Management and Tourism will prepare delectable dishes for guests to enjoy during Flavor of Louisiana, the university’s spring fund raiser presented in partnership with the Louisiana Seafood Board. On the front row from left are NSU Development Officer Brittany McConathy, HMT Instructor Valerie Salter, students McKenna Opbroek, Laura Cornish, Kim Shirley, Terrian Marchand, Amber Norris and Development Officer Tiffany Chasteen. On the back row are Sierra Seemion, Kim Voorhies, Jeremy Aaron, Ebony Lee, Jeremy Vaughn and Leigh Ann Westfall.

The event will be held at the NSU WRAC beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, April 7. Tickets to Flavor of Louisiana are $65 per person or $125 per couple. For more information, call (318) 357-4414 or visit northwesternalumni.com/fol.

Farm Bureau meeting set for March 4

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Members are invited to take part in the activities of the Natchitoches Parish Farm Bureau’s annual meeting Saturday, March 4 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Knight of Columbus Hall, located at 1105 East 5th St. in Natchitoches.

A catfish dinner will be provided for member and one guest only. Door prizes will be given away.

NSU honors Bill Bacle; veteran shares his story

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Northwestern State University recognized Urson S. “Bill” Bacle of Coushatta, who served in both the U.S. Army Corps during World War II and later with the U.S. Air Force, during the Feb. 16 basketball game, the university’s on-going effort to honor veterans. Bacle served in the U.S. Army Air Corps from June 26, 1943, to April 7, 1946. The Air Force recalled him to service on September 1, 1951, where he was a flight line mechanic and part-time engineer. He retired from the Air Force in April 1970 with the rank of Major.

The first-person account of his story, as told to Sid Hall, NSU’s Military Affairs Coordinator and ROTC Program Manager, is as follows.

“I started my World War II tour at Camp Beauregard. I had received a letter from President Roosevelt saying, ‘Your friends and neighbors have selected you to become a member of the armed forces.’ So, I was drafted and down about it. My grandfather sent a strongly worded letter of encouragement to me. He reminded me it was my duty to serve. I still have the letter and think of him often.

“In November 1942, the military decided troops would go where they were needed – not necessarily where they wanted to be, and that included the branch of service. I really didn’t want to be in the Navy. I couldn’t stand the thought of being stuck on a ship throughout the war. I just about had myself convinced that if I were picked for the Navy, I would probably go AWOL. Before I left, my father told me to listen closely to everything around me, otherwise, I might miss something important.

“When I signed in, I found myself in a twisting, turning line of about 400 new recruits. We had already turned in our civvies and were waiting for uniforms and orders. I saw a big, burly petty officer walk in and talk to the person in charge of us. He needed about 30 new seamen that day. I watched him point to the front of the line and tell the sergeant, ‘I’ll just take the first 30 there.’ I counted the heads in front of me – I was number 10! I quickly turned to a guy in the next line over and asked him to trade places with me. I told him I wanted to talk to a friend at the back of the line. I watched him march off hollering that he wasn’t in the right line, someone had traded with him! Yes, my daddy was right. ‘You really do need to pay close attention to what is going on around you.’

“I was sent to Aeronautical Trade School in Shreveport. I remember eating fish at a restaurant there one night. They had a sign that read, ‘Our fish is so fresh, it slept in the lake last night.’ When we left, it was raining cats and dogs. We came up on a car that had slipped into the ditch. As the window rolled down, I saw a clean cut fella in a crisp uniform. We had a rope in our car, so I told him to stay in the car, and we would pull him out. His name was CPT Fauntleroy, and he worked at Camp Beauregard. Still, in Shreveport, I had been on KP, stayed up all night long washing pots and pans.

“The next morning, I had to take a test for aviation cadets. Wouldn’t you know it; I failed it and was shipped off to Camp Beauregard. I didn’t know what kind of unit they were going put me in so I looked up CPT Fauntleroy. I reminded him who I was, and explained the situation. I really wanted to be in the Air Force, so he got to work. He took care of my paperwork and before I knew it, I was headed to Miami Beach for Air Force basic training – all because I helped someone who was stuck in the mud.

“Basic training at Miami Beach was pretty good. We drilled on the golf course and swam in the ocean in the evening. We had to start pulling guard duty because German saboteurs had just been caught in New York. One night while on guard duty, I heard rustling in the bushes. ‘Halt,’ I yelled, as I’d just been taught. I’d been given a 1903 Springfield Rifle and 5 rounds of ammunition. ‘Halt or I’ll shoot!’ The rustling continued, and I opened fire. At daylight, we went to check the area and found a sea turtle that had been peppered with bullets. We wrapped it up in a sheet and brought it to a nearby restaurant. The chef invited us back that night, and we downed that entire turtle in no time.

“After gunnery school, I was shipped straight to the Pacific. Actually, I was shipped to the Pacific. It wasn’t straight at all. It took 26 days to get from Seattle to Honolulu because our ship broke down, again and again. Two days before we made it to Honolulu, we were out of drinking water and were down to only apples, cookies and grapefruit juice. A train track ran alongside the harbor, and when we pulled into port, I saw trains loaded with pineapples. You could smell the pineapples from miles away. I found a loose nut on the ship’s floor, tied a 5-dollar bill to it, and threw it to a man standing next to a stalled train. He took two pineapples and threw them to me like footballs. I can still taste that juicy, sweet pineapple. Within a few minutes, all the men were doing the same thing. Before you knew it, the entire deck was sticky with pineapple juice.

“I was a crew chief of C47s and C46s. My organization was air transportation command, and I served on Kwajalein in the Pacific. In our off-duty time, my buddies and I took our mattress covers down to the beach. If you waved them around, you could fill them with air, tie them off, and ride the waves. We had been doing that all morning and at chow time, we moved to the beach, threw the covers over our shoulders and turned for camp. A photographer ran over. He was out of breath when he asked us to ride the waves again so he could take a photo. We all went back in the water. Of course, we were skinny-dipping, so we had to hold the mattress covers close. My picture is in a five-volume series of the war. I was buck naked.”

“After speaking with Mr. Bacle for a while, I realized I laid my pen aside and just listened,” Hall said. “He did not mention wartime fighting, so I respected his privacy. Instead, he regaled me with story after story of the good times. He served at Barksdale Air Force Base and with Strategic Air Command in Salina, Kansas. In San Marcos, Texas, he taught Army pilots how to fly. He attended Munitions Officers School in Denver. While serving on Guam, he learned to scuba dive and caught an 11-pound langosta while night fishing. He also escorted a team of Japanese newspaper reporters who were trying to coax Japanese soldiers out of hiding. In 1955 while reading the Shreveport Times, he saw that on Guam, 17 Japanese soldiers turned themselves in.

“I knew they were out there,” he said. “I saw their tracks.”

At Edwards Air Force Base, he was the Operations Officer for the Air Police Squadron. At Vandenberg Air Base, he worked with the Minuteman Missile program.

“All of our Veterans, both young and old, have fascinating stories to tell. We simply need to take the time to listen,” Hall said.

To nominate a Veteran for recognition at an upcoming NSU event, please contact Hall, NSU’s Military Affairs Coordinator, at halls@nsula.edu or (318) 357-6951.

To view a video of last night’s presentation, click here:

NSU to hold Spring preview day for seniors March 4

spring-preview

Northwestern State University will hold its annual Spring N-Side View and Credit Connection Saturday, March 4.

Registration for Spring N-Side View and Credit Connection will begin at 8 a.m. in Magale Recital Hall and the programs start at 9 a.m.

As part of Spring N-Side View, representatives from each of Northwestern State’s colleges will be on hand to explain degree programs offered at NSU. Staff from the financial aid, housing and scholarship offices will also be available to answer questions. A student panel will give a unique perspective on the university. An orientation program for parents will also be held. Also as part of Spring N-Side View, prospective students will get to tour Northwestern State’s campus.

During Credit Connection, students can earn college credit by taking an advanced standing examination which can result in credit being posted on the student’s college transcript once they enroll at Northwestern State.

Tests for English 1010, English 1020, Spanish, Math 1020 or 1060 will be offered. Students can take up to two tests at no charge.

Students with ACT Math subscores below 19 or 460 on the SAT or English subscores below 18 on the ACT or 450 on the SAT can take ACCUPLACER, a college placement test that assists the university in evaluating students in writing and math for placement decisions. Passing the exams can result in students being able to register in college level courses instead of developmental courses. The cost for the exam is $15 for math or English or $25 for both.

All tests will be given in Kyser Hall on the NSU campus. To register, contact the NSU Testing Center at (318) 357-5246 or go to recruiting.nsula.edu/credit-connection-registration.

The first round of Credit Connection tests begins at 10 a.m. with the second round at 1 p.m.

Northwestern State offers a unique scholarship opportunity for students with strong leadership potential and provides them with a year long leadership program. The President’s Leadership Program is designed to promote active involvement in the campus community and provide opportunities for students to build leadership skills together. A PLP Emerging Leaders Day will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. A reservation is required in order to participate in the program. Those interested can sign up at nsula.edu/fye.

Lunch will be available at 12 p.m. for $10.

To reserve a spot for Spring N-Side View, go to nsula.edu/recruiting/preview-days. For more information on Spring N-Side View/Credit Connection, contact the Office of Admissions and Recruiting at (318) 357-4503 or (800) 327-1903 or go to nsula.edu/recruiting/preview-days.