Globetrotter TV – United Kingdom Celebrate, Discover and Explore Natchitoches

39A67FAD-

Natchitoches welcomed film crew members from the Globetrotter TV – United Kingdom March 24, to film and photograph sites around the city. Globetrotter TV is a brand new online and TV channel for passionate travel and tourism enthusiasts. Globetrotter TV is a new channel that will launch this month on Sky channel 261 with an estimated audience of 900,000 monthly.

Crew members included John Plaskett and Ellen Coughlan, who are in the midst of filming a travel documentary of the south, are venturing on a 6-day Louisiana Road Trip through New Orleans,Plantation Country, Baton Rouge, St. Martin, Lafayette, Alexandria, Natchitoches and Shreveport.

In Natchitoches, the film crew met CVB staff members Arlene Gould, Executive Director, and Stephanie Rabb, Marketing & Communications Coordinator for lunch at Lasyone’s Meat Pie Kitchen, discovered Fort St. Jean Baptiste, explored the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum and ended their brief stay by touring Beau Jardin and shopping along historic Front Street before heading up to Shreveport. Tomorrow, the crew will head to Texas.

For more information on Globetrotter TV, visit http://www.globetrottertv.com/.

Pictured from left are Stephanie Rabb, Ellen Coughlan, John Plaskett and Arlene Gould.

Flute, piano recital set for April 4

LillianPearson

Flutist Susan Milan and pianist Lillian Buss Pearson will perform at Northwestern State University Tuesday, April 4 at 7:30 p.m. in Magale Recital Hall. Admission is free and open to the public.

The program will feature works by Richard Rodney Bennett, Ph. Gaubert, Bohuslav Martinu, Edward German, Olivier Messiaen and Claude Debussy.

Milan has forged a career as orchestra principal, chamber musician, recitalist, soloist and recording artist and has performed in festivals, music clubs and as soloist and principal flute with all the major orchestras in the United Kingdom She continues to perform in Europe, the U.S., South Africa, Russia, Australia and East Asia. She has given numerous world and UK premieres and has inspired contemporary composers to write for her, among them Richard Rodney Bennett, Antal Dorati, Carl Davis, Jindrich Feld, Edwin Roxburgh, Robert Saxton, Ole Schmidt, Robert Simpson, Keith Gates, Cecilia McDowall, Brian Lock and recently Douglas Weiland. This year, Milan will record concertos by Richard Rodney Bennett, Robert Simpson and Carl Davis with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra to be released on the Divine Art label.
Milan is regularly heard on BBC and Classic FM radio and has recorded most of the mainstream repertoire on the Chandos, Hyperion, Upbeat, Da Capo, Omega, Denon, Cala, Divine Art and Metier labels. In the academic field, she has researched and published 19th century repertoire for Boosey & Hawkes and she is currently researching and revising “6 Sonatinas” by W. Popp for Spartan Press. She is also restoring and processing for CD her collection of historic 78 recordings of flautists 1910-1945.

Milan is a professor and fellow of the Royal College of Music, London, where she was herself a scholar at the age of 16, and she is also professor of flute at Trinitylaban Conservatory, London. She enjoys giving master classes internationally and has been a member of numerous competition juries. As director and founder of the British Isles Music Festival, she masterminds an annual international summer chamber music and master class course for outstanding young musicians exploring works with woodwind, strings, piano, harp and voice.

Pearson has appeared throughout the continental United States and England as a soloist and collaborative artist. She is associate professor of music and coordinator for keyboard studies at Western Carolina University. Pearson holds degrees from Florida State University and the University of Illinois,

Her interest in historically informed performance practice has led her to study harpsichord and fortepiano. In 199,7 she spent seven months in England performing and working intensively with Nelly Ben-Or of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, studying piano and the Alexander Technique. During this time she also spent considerable time examining and playing historical keyboard instruments, especially nineteenth-century pianos.

Pearson has appeared as soloist, twice with the Asheville Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, the Breckenridge Festival Orchestra, the Western Carolina Civic Orchestra, the National Chamber Players and the Brandenburg Ensemble. This past summer she was a pianist at the International Flute Festival of Costa Rica. For many years she was a regular performer in the Breckenridge Music Festival and also performed in the Cullowhee Summer Music Festival. Pearson has served as an official accompanist for the International Horn Workshop, the International Double-Reed Society, the International Trumpet Guild, the Southeastern Horn Workshop, the Southeastern Composers League Forum, and Wildacres Flute and Chamber Music Symposium, the British Isles Music Festival, as well as performing for the National Flute Association, the Florida Flute Fair, the Music Teachers National Association Collegiate Artist Competition and the Bodky Competition.

Preacher Pounds on Potholes

This morning, Doug de Graffenried, met with the Walter P. Ledt Coffee Club as Natchitoches Parish Council District three councilman.  The topic of his talk was a method for funding road improvements in Natchitoches Parish.  de Graffenried proposed to place two questions before the Parish voters. The plan would divide the Parish into four separate road districts. Each district would be presented with a proposed ad valorem tax to fund road repairs for that district.  Below are Doug de Graffenried’s proposal and tax map.

NPG-PreacherPoundsPotholes 03-2017

I once led a church that built a big new sanctuary years before I arrived. The preacher told the church they could build a huge sanctuary and they wouldn’t have to give much money. He convinced them they were all going to be rich because of the Tuscaloosa Trend. That was the name of a shale oil field from late 1970’s that ran across the Florida Parishes. The shale oil leases never showed up. The church did pay for the sanctuary. It was sixteen years later that the debt was paid. The church paid big money for their big sanctuary. Even in church work, nothing is free.

I think about the “Tuscaloosa Trend” money every time I listen to people complain about their roads. I want to ask them a question. “Where do we get the money to fix your road?” Yeah, the Road District 40 tax passed. That generates $1,076,000 a year. It is not enough money to fix your road! Your road is not the only road in this Parish. We need a little clarity of thought. Mathematically we don’t have enough income from all sources to begin to fix the road problem. You are experiencing 40 years of road neglect. Fixing the neglect will take money, time, and patience. It will also take a cogent plan.

To give you an idea of the size of the Parish road system, if you got on Interstate 10 at the Texas state line and drove west all the way across the state of Texas on Interstate 10 that is roughly the same number of miles of roads we have in the Parish Road system. That is over 800 miles, folks. Take your potholes and multiply it by 800 miles and you see the enormity of the problem. 90% of the Parish roads are “failed” roads. A failed road has more hole than road.
How, I wondered could we begin to honestly address the pitiful conditions of the roads in the Parish?

Simply put I propose that the Parish is divided into four new road districts. You would need to vote on this proposal.

I propose a 16 mill ad valorem road tax for each road district. You would need to vote on this proposal too.

If your district passes the 16 mill property tax the revenue raised in your district is spent on the roads in your road district, exclusively. This money is spent on roads only. No equipment. No shenanigans, roads only! You will have access to this information and you can hold government accountable.

If your district fails to pass the 16 mill property tax, you can observe as the districts that passed the tax have their roads fixed. The boundaries of these new districts have nothing to do with the political boundaries of the Parish Council. These road districts are about roads, nothing else. I can explain to you how the size and shape was determined, but you will quit reading.

It would be a 10 year tax. You would see the results of passing this tax, quickly.
There are many steps before this idea is fully formed. There are other things we need to do in conjunction with this tax idea. This is my idea, do you have an idea? Not a theory, but a bona fide, idea.

Talk among yourselves….

Call Doug with your input and ideas:  318-357-8296

Doug’s Proposed Tax Districts Map

109_66

 

Things remain flat, but Parish begins receiving Amazon sales tax collections

Tax Comission 2

As of Jan. 1, Amazon is charging and collecting sales tax for online purchases made in Louisiana. The taxes, both state and local, are distributed according to the recipient’s address.

Natchitoches Tax Commission Administrator Jerry McWherter said his agreement with Amazon is comprised of 15 companies that registered with the online retailer. February, the first recordable month of sales, saw online sales for Natchitoches Parish totaling $51,460. This generated $2,333 in sales tax. Over $8 million in sales were recorded statewide.

Of this, the City district, which includes the school board, City and Sheriff’s Office, had $33,743 in sales. This generated $1,687 in taxes. The City’s tax rate is 50 percent, which means they received $843.50 of the total taxes collected.

Amazon sales in the Parish totaled $16,034, generating $561.19 in taxes. Amazon sales in Clarence totaled $80, generating $3.60.  Amazon sales in Natchez totaled $446, generating $20.07.  Amazon sales in Campti totaled $955, generating $52.53.  Amazon sales in Robeline totaled $201, generating $9.05.

While these numbers may not seem like a lot of money, McWherter said it’s money the Parish has never had. While January and February aren’t always big sales months, McWherter says there will be a push in income tax returns. Sales should pick up in March, however, there’s no historical data to project trends with these tax collections.

See the March Tax Report below, which reports on taxes remitted in February, which are from January sales.

McWherter said everything is flat and it’s not going away, however Natchitoches is holding its own.

NTC-March 2017 Report

Are we ready to face the truth?

Chamber-LABI 2017

Stephen Waguespack, President of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI), gave Chamber members an update on state level business issues relevant to the businesses of the Natchitoches Area at the Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce’s luncheon March 28.  He discussed what issues LABI will be concerned with in the upcoming Legislative Session, asking the question: “Are we ready to face the truth?”

Four Big Issues to be Focused On:
·      Fiscal Reform
·      Criminal Justice
·      Litigation and Legal Reform
·      Infrastructure

Louisiana is a cool place to live. It’s got a certain Joie de Vivre (Joy of Living). But is it still enough? Stephen said that for 90 plus years the culture, history, cuisine and community in Louisiana has been enough. The question we must ask ourselves is, “Is Louisiana wasting its potential?”

Either way Stephen said it’s time for change. We can see a renewed focus on jobs and growth at the federal level, including tax reform, regulatory reduction, legal reform and innovation in schools and workforce. However it’s a different story on the state level, which has a persistent focus on the public sector including tax increases, new employer mandates, state-led litigation and status quo for schools and workforce.

“We have to budget according to what the economy can handle,” said Stephen. Louisiana spends $5,599 per person annually when the SEC average is $4,010. Louisiana spent more than its peer states before $1 billion plus in tax increases in the 2017 fiscal year.

“Where’s the money going,” he questioned. “Why are we always broke?

Retirement costs (around $2 billion) are an ever-growing burden on the budget. State Medicaid spending increases ranks #1, even before expansion, which doubled the spending rate from 2014-15. The Louisiana economy is contracting. Around 25,000 jobs were lost in the last two years.

“The spending isn’t matching the performance,” said Stephen. “We have to turn around the state’s employment numbers, but policies aren’t changing.”

LABI has a multi-pronged approach to the state’s budget challenges:

·      Overhaul tax code and budget
·      Address spending
·      Fix the economy

“It may sound complicated,” he said. “But we’ll always be in this annual fight for budget deficit, economy and workforce. There’s no short cut to the big change we all want. Louisiana is ready. No one rallies like Louisiana. We are surrounded by adversity and we need to rally now.”

Candidates announced for NSU’s Presidential Search

NSU-Presidential Search_Candidates Announced

The candidate materials for Northwestern State University’s Presidential Search were sent to the Search Committee March 27, according to University of Louisiana System President Dr. Jim Henderson. The Committee will meet in Baton Rouge April 3 to review applicant materials and to select semifinalists from the following candidates:
Neal Barlow (Dean, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Arkansas Tech University)

Larry Gracie (former Vice President of Instructional Services/Chief Academic Officer, Pamlico Community College)

Kumara Jayasuriya (Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of Mathematics, West Virginia State University)

Richard Lucas, Jr. (Vice President and Adjunct Instructor, Bowie State University)

Chris Maggio (Acting President and Vice President for the Student Experience, Northwestern State University)

Scott McKay (Dean, College of Science & Engineering and Professor of Chemistry, Southern Arkansas University)

Gautum Pillay (Associate Vice President for Research & Sponsored Programs, West Chester University of Pennsylvania)

Timothy Quinnan (Vice President for Student Affairs, University of Texas at Arlington)

James Strong (former Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, California State University, Stanislaus)

William Wainwright (Chancellor, Northshore Technical Community College)

Michael Wiggins (former Executive Vice President of Learning, North Arkansas College)
More information on each candidate can be read online at CLICK HERE

Drug Task Force arrests Gorum man for narcotics related charges

Carter arrest

Natchitoches Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Task Force agents arrested Brandon Carter, 30, on narcotics charges at his residence located at 254 Mora Gorum Road in Gorum March 21. Agents received a complaint that Carter was growing suspected marijuana plants at the residence.

NMJDTF agents obtained a search warrant for the residence and located a clandestine lab in a room where 10 suspected marijuana plants were being grown. Agents also seized paraphernalia used to cultivate marijuana plants.

Brandon Carter was placed in NPDC and charged with the following charges:

– Manufacturing CDS I Marijuana

– Creation of a clandestine lab

– Possession of drug paraphernalia

Carter’s bond was set at $21,000.

The Natchitoches Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Task Force would like to thank the Citizens of Natchitoches for their support. Many times an investigation begins with a simple phone call or tip from a concerned citizen. For this reason the Task Force encourages all citizens to report any crimes in their neighborhoods anonymously by calling 318-357-2248, The Natchitoches Police Department, or the Natchitoches Parish Sheriffs Office.

MRC Media Group: Celebrate, Discover and Explore Natchitoches

MRC Fam Tour Photo

The Natchitoches Convention and Visitors Bureau hosted several Mississippi River Country (MRC) travel writers from Japan as part of the Mississippi River Country FAM Tour March 28. Participants included Saeko Okuya, Sachiko Minowa, Michiki Ono, Kana Sugiyama, Naco Ohta Sasho, MRC Japan Office Escort for Connect Worldwide and Alan Hamari, MRC Driver/Escort.

Upon arriving to Natchitoches, the group joined Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Arlene Gould and Marketing and Communications Coordinator Stephanie Rabb for a tour of Melrose Plantation. Writers learned about the Downtown Historic District during a walking tour provided by Logan Schlatre from the Cane River National Heritage Area. After lunch the group toured the Grand Ecore Visitor Center before departing for Vicksburg, Miss.

ASHLAND PREPARES FOR ITS ANNUAL SPRING FESTIVAL

AshlandPic1
Ashland Mayor Gahagan Lee said the town is getting everything ready for their 27th annual Spring Festival. With more events planned than in years past.

The dates are April 7th and 8th. Vendor reservations are now being accepted. Call Ashland village hall at 318-544-0044 to reserve a booth.

There will be arts and crafts booths, also plenty of food vendors. And Mayor Lee adds there will be a parade starting at 10:00 am on Saturday. Activities include a cake walk, fishing rod casting and archery contests.

The Spring Festival will have live entertainment all day Saturday in Ashland. And Saturday night there will be a dance with Kevin Crawford and Highway 9. The dance begins at 7:00 pm.

Remember the dates, April 7th and 8th in the Village of Ashland.

Mark your calendars for the Native American Spring Festival at the Fort

Tribe of LouisianaThe Natchitoches Tribe of Louisiana will host its inaugural Spring Festival in conjunction with Fort St. Jean Baptiste’s spring encampment Saturday, April 1 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. The staff at the fort and the festival committee will be dressed in colonial and Native American period attire. There will be Native American vendors, dancers, drums, story tellers, face painting, food, music, games and much more. All tribal members are invited to attend and meet your family. Admission to the Fort is $6.
 

Schedule of Events and Activities:

· Speak and interact with tribal elders

· Hear story telling of ancient tribes

· Observe colorful Native American Attire

· Taste authentic Native American Foods

· Explore the “Trail of Ancestors”

· Hear presentations on the history of the Natchitoches Indians.

· Purchase Native American high-quality crafts

· Traditional and contemporary Native American music

The celebration continues into the night in Campti with a Dance and music by the Playmate Band at the Fellowship Hall of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church. For information call 318-282-3559.

NSU Athletics co-hosts annual Kids Health Fest

2017 Kids Health Fair - track

Local sixth graders pose with Northwestern State track and field competitors De’Shalyn Jones, Taishia Holt and Jacorious Jeter Friday morning at the Walter P. Ledet Track Complex during the 11th Annual Kids’ Health Fest presented by the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office. About 600 students participated.

Deputy Merry Byers, the NPSO Community Services Division head, coordinated the event through the NPSO Youth Services Division. Some of the other agencies participating included the Natchitoches Fire Department, Natchitoches City Police, the NPSO S.W.A.T. team, Louisiana State Police, and NSU University Police, along with Natchitoches Regional Medical Center and other health care agencies and professionals.

Activities included the 15th Annual Fun Run sponsored by the NPSO, a tour of exhibits supported by local law enforcement agencies and area health providers. Students went through health screenings and played games, viewed safety demonstrations, and received prizes and snacks.

Northwestern State sets pair of camp dates in July

NSU-TeamForks2017

As part of its program-wide commitment to spreading the sport throughout the area, the Northwestern State volleyball coaching staff has announced a pair of camps that will take place in July.

NSU will host an All-Skills Camp from July 17-19 and a high school Team Camp from July 20-22. Both events will take place inside Prather Coliseum.

The All-Skills Camp is open to girls ages 12 to 18. The cost for the three-day camp is $200 for a commuter and $275 for a residential camper.

The All-Skills Camp is for players who are either new to volleyball or are experienced players who want to improve all facets of their game. Campers will learn about all aspects of volleyball, breaking down each skill and receiving a large number of repetitions. Campers will be grouped by age and skill level.

Lunch will be provided for all campers and residential campers need to bring sheets, pillows, blankets, towels and toiletries with them.

The Team Camp will focus on building competitive team skills, including offensive and defensive systems, transition situations and competitive scenarios.

There will be scrimmages and a camp tournament that will match up teams of comparable standing. There is a minimum of six and a maximum of 12 players per team.

There is an $80 non-refundable deposit for team registration as well as a $45 cost for each commuter camper and $90 for residential campers. Lunch is provided for each camper and residential campers need to bring sheets, pillows, blankets, towels and toiletries with them.

For more information or to register, log onto www.nsudemons.com and follow the links to the NSU Volleyball Camps page or call associate head coach Alicia Roth at (248) 860-1622.

Good news for Natchitoches: Infrastructure improvements and Amazon taxes

City Counil 03-27-17

While there were only two items on the City Council agenda Monday night, March 27, there are plenty of improvements underway in Natchitoches.

The City is working on three different water system improvements according to Purchasing Director Edd Lee. Workers are getting ready to rebuild and relocate the Sewer Master Lift Station.

There’s also preliminary work underway to put more equipment in the Bypass and Hwy. 1 South sub stations to get a loop around the City for electrical services. Once the loop is completed the City will be able to supply power instead of sections of the town being cut off when a vehicle or a strong storm takes out a utility pole.

“The rededication of a tax allowed us to put more of that money to work,” said Lee. The electricity work is a new project that will add to and increase the reliability for customers. The infrastructure work is replacing older water and sewer systems.

Work on 2016 City Streets Rehabilitation Project is 75 percent completed. Mayor Lee Posey said he expects all the work to be done within the next 3 weeks. Streets being worked on include Howard, Younger Blvd., Whitfield Drive, St. Maurice Lane, Ragan Street, Martin Drive, Oakland Drive, Jason Lane, Royal Street, Beau Fort Blvd., Bienville Street, North Street, Julia Street, Lake Street, Dixie Street, Berry Street, Northern Street, Westcourt Drive and Nolley Drive.

“I want to keep this going,” said Posey. “We hope to get more streets done in the next budget year.”

When Director of Finance Pat Jones delivered his budget report, he said there was $8 million reported that the state collected in January from sales taxes collected through Amazon. For the month, the City received $843.58.

“This is encouraging that it was finally worked out,” he said.

The General Fund and Utility Fund are both within their budgeted expenditures. The City sales tax collections were down 5.79 percent for February, but up 1.05 percent year-to-date. Jones said everything is flat compared to last fiscal year. The City TIF is down 6.03 percent from last February and down 10.97 percent year-to-date. Motor vehicle sales are up 3.74 percent for February and down 3.70 percent year-to-date.

Agenda items included:
·      Revoke dedication of a potion of Graham Street, declaring it abandoned and retaining an easement for public utility purposes
·      Introduction of ordinance adopting the millage rate for the 2017 tax year. The following millages are hereby levied on all property subject to taxation by the City: Public Safety Tax (9.730 mills), General Alimony Tax (6.840 mills), Total Millage (16.570 mills).

The next City Council meeting will be held April 10. The City offices will be closed Friday, April 14 for Good Friday. A public meeting will be held April 10 at 5:30 pm at the Arts Center on Second Street for the purpose of adopting the millage rate for the 2017 tax year.

NWS Shreveport confirms EF-1 tornado March 24 near Hagewood 

2017 Tornado-1

The National Weather Service in Shreveport conformed that an EF-1 tornado touched down near Hagewood March 24.

Rating: EF-1
Estimated Peak Wind: 105-115 MPH
Path Length /Statute/: 9.03 Miles
Path Width /Maximum/: 1.4 Miles
Fatalities: 0
Injuries: 0

Start Date: Mar 24 2017
Start Time: 11 pm CDT
Start Location: 4 NNW of Provencal
Start Lat/Lon: 31.7063 / -93.2166
End Date: Mar 24 2017
End Time: 11:09 pm CDT
End Location: 4 NNW of Natchitoches
End Lat/Lon: 31.8027 / -93.1265

Survey Summary: An EF1 tornado touched down on the southwest side of Hagewood, just west of Highway 117. Although the primary damage was snapped trees, two businesses at the intersection of Highway117 and Highway 6 sustained some damage. The first was a metal warehouse that lost some siding. Across the street, a pool supply business sustained some roof damage. There was also an I-beam structure behind the pool business that had several I-beams knocked down, including one that was blown over that had been attached to the concrete base. Several homes had minor roof damage, including one that had a corner of the roof lift enough for the ceiling to cave in. Several outbuildings were damaged or destroyed.

2017 Tornado-22017 Tornado-3