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


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


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


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.


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 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


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.


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


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


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 or Go to the district website ( 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


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

Farm Bureau meeting set for March 4


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


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 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


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

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

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

To reserve a spot for Spring N-Side View, go to 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

Ponderings with Doug – February 24, 2017

We were in Lake Charles this week. We were there for a dental appointment and to see if we could sneak in some grandparent time. Our grandparent request was looked upon favorably by the parental units. As part of the grandparenting negotiations, we had agreed to install child safety latches in the kitchen. It seems our grandson likes opening the drawers in the kitchen and putting the contents on the floor. He is particularly fond of the bottom drawer where the bucket of bubble gum and the doggy treats reside. The dog and Emerson have become partners of drawer opening crime. His backup drawer contains glass pitchers and serving dishes. Emerson is at that busy exploring stage of infancy.

Since we had grandson time, we agreed to install the drawer latches. Grandparents will use any excuse to see the grandchild. Parents of infants should be warned!

It didn’t take me long to discover the first challenge. The latches were made in China and the instructions were written by a Swedish engineer who spoke English as a second language. The pictures were likely created by someone from lower Trinidad who had never seen the latches. The other problem that presented itself was the floor. Installation would require full body contact with the floor. Getting to the floor is no problem, getting up is the issue.

The position I had to achieve in order to install these devices should not be attempted by anyone over the age of twenty-five. I was upside down with my head inside a drawer trying to see something five inches from my face. I use several invectives while installing the devices. I didn’t accomplish the whole job, but installed the safety devices on the most interesting drawers. That would certainly slow down Emerson.

Later in the evening we received a picture of Emerson in the kitchen on his evening drawer safari. The baby beta test of the first latch proved successful. He was stopped in his attempt to open the bubble gum drawer. Being a normal human being he simply opened the drawer above. My efforts at thwarting the curiosity of my grandson were thwarted by the curiosity of my grandson. There is a big life lesson here that could go several ways.

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

I looked at the picture and laughed.

When a door shuts, God opens a window. That might look really good on some gift from the Hallmark store, but it is lousy theology. Sometimes God shuts the door and wants you to quit heading in that direction. Sometimes our curiosity gets us into trouble. We are being inquisitive human beings, right?

Jesus put it this way, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.”

From Emerson we might learn, be careful which drawer you open.

67th Demon Battalion to host Military Ball


Through a collaborative effort, the Northwestern State University Demon Regiment and NSU’s Department of Military Science will host the 67th Demon Battalion Military Ball in March on the campus of Northwestern State University. The event will be held in the Friedman Student Union Ballroom and feature prestigious guests, cadets and cadre.

The ball will open with the battalion honoring cadets who will commission this May with the Arch of Steel. Later, Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Charles “Sandy” McNeely and Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Truman Maynard, who will serve as the guest speaker, will be inducted in the Demon Regiment Hall of Fame. Other honored guests include Acting President of Northwestern State Dr. Chris Maggio and Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Vickie Gentry.

The purpose of the military ball is to instill Army traditions while teaching organizational and leadership skills. It allows for essential interaction between cadets and university and community leadership. The ball enables cadets to exchange ideas and build relationships that are vital to ROTC’s recruiting efforts. Lieutenant Colonel Katherine Carlson, the professor of Military Science, also holds the honor of serving as the 22nd Colonel of the Demon Regiment. The Senior Military Instructor is Master Sergeant Randy Angel.

Honorary Colonel of the Demon Regiment Lieutenant General (Retired) Joseph Cosumano, Jr., invites the community to join enjoy the evening with the battalion. The ball will begin with social hour followed by dinner and dancing. The cost is $40 per person, and menu selections include Prime Rib, Chicken Opelousas or Eggplant Parmigiana. For additional information or reservations, please contact Ed Kelly at or (318) 357-5157. The dress is formal.