Power in Purple: Relay for Life Kickoff 

By Larry E. Ross

2017 Relay Event 1

Cancer. It is the scariest 6-letter word anyone could potentially hear in their lifetime. Luckily, there are ways to find support and healthcare to help those who are battling and for those helping friends or family fight the battle. The American Cancer Society (ACS) is there to help people find information on treatments, diagnosis, and even cancer itself.

ACS is a non-profit organization that raises money to help offer programs to those in this fight. There are several events every year to help raise this money and to show the community’s support of those who have fought and won, are still fighting, and those who have lost the fight but are there in spirit to help those who fight.

Relay for Life is one of the many events to help raise money. It is the largest world-wide fundraising events with approximately 4 million participants. This year Natchitoches Parish is stepping up its fight against cancer. This year, 15 people will wear purple, in some form or fashion, every day for the next month to help raise money. This campaign is called “Power in Purple.”

There was a kick-off party for the Relay season tonight at a local restaurant March 25. Attendees included a few the participants of Power in Purple and Mitzi LaSalle, the senior manager of ACS in Natchitoches and Alexandria, among other cities in Louisiana.

“When I heard this challenge back in the fall of last year, I thought ‘I don’t really wear purple that much, but this would be a very interesting challenge to take on,’” said Craig Caskey. “I slid Danielle a piece of paper during a meeting that said ‘I want to do this.’”

“We met over lunch and discussed the plan and who we could get involved,” Danielle Antoon said. Antoon is the local ACS representative for DeSoto, Winn, and Natchitoches Parishes.

The Participants of Power in Purple are:
Craig Caskey and Don Butler – Alliance Compressors
Rev. Steve McAllister – Westside Baptist Church
Dr. Martin Aviles – Natchitoches Women’s Care
Mace Morris – Natural Springs Garden Center
Dr. Mark Melder, Vanner Erikson, and Frank Hall – Northwestern State University
Keith Ducote – Gulf Coast Chemical
Reinnette Foster – USDA Rural Development
Chelsea McQuillin – Bank of Montgomery
Jason Edwards – Durham Bus Services
Amy Edwards – Fit-In-Time
Dr. Lakyn Baker – Walmart Pharmacy

There are over 20 teams participating in this year’s Relay for Life. The event will be held at the NSU Tailgate Field on April 28. It will begin at 6pm and will roll through the night until 2am on April 29. Prior to that, there will be a Survivors’ Dinner at 4:30pm.

For more information on Relay for Life visit: acsevents.org. If you or anyone you know is in need of any information on cancer, diagnosis, or treatment options please call: 1-800-227-2345 or visit: cancer.org. These lines are open 24/7. They are there for you. You will always have their support as well as many other people in your community, including myself. Fight and fight hard.

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Does Natchitoches Parish need a SPARC program?

By Nicholas Wright/Opinion

letters to the editor295Let me just start by mentioning that during the March 20th Parish Council Meeting, Parish President Nowlin stated that we need to update millage renewals because they are outdated. This is five days before Election Day, and yet nothing happened of it. All this while the Library sits on hundreds of thousands of dollars because they want a capital project that should otherwise be funded through capital campaigns like any good library. Weighted average and specific identification is in order. Hoover-gate is another matter altogether. Anyhow…

Growing up between Branson, MO and Natchitoches, LA gave me a unique southern experience. One I would not trade for the world. There is actually a lot of similarities between the two areas. It is almost eerie. I would be the first to argue that our Middle America has the best history compared to the 13 colonies or anywhere else. Getting straight to the point, Springfield, MO and Alexandria, LA have top-notch, one-of-a-kind, urban planning departments. You may have heard of these programs known by the acronym SPARC. These are not regular sports and recreation departments. These newer ones tie-in urban planning and development.

You have your typical sports and recreation programs, your social welfare programs, and the newer urban planning programs. There are also a whole slew of other ‘types’ that would exhaust the subject. A cursory search through the 50 states only produced the two of the type that I am expounding about. It would be wonderful to have this in Natchitoches. I understand neo-liberal development models may seem chilling, but let’s take a look.

Springfield, MO’s SPARC stands for School-Parks are Reaching Communities and was started in August of 1998 by McBride Elementary. It is a sort of greening form of development but also has its sports and recreation. Alexandria, LA’s SPARC stands for Special Planned Activity Redevelopment Corridors and was started in the late 2000’s by Mayor Roy. It is strictly urban development, with sports facilities and parks attached. These programs have been very successful in what they do. Alexandria also has a college coming into town under the program.

What sets Natchitoches apart from other places is that it is the heart of Sportsman’s Paradise. Our roads are a part of this Paradise. I would much rather get around in my truck and go hunting, hiking, camping, or fishing than visit a museum. If you are in a car, forget it. I think the majority would agree on that observation. A SPARC in Natchitoches would sound like Sportsman’s Paradise Access Rural Communities or Structurally Planned Access for Rural Communities. It should just get the consumer to the product without any issue. Natchitoches Parish should be the standard for a deteriorating national infrastructure.

As to funding, it should have been coming from millage. I think the majority would agree on that observation. I received a lot of great feedback on my last article about consolidation. It was not so much that citizens wanted consolidation, but that they (y’all) were in want of ideas. I do not think ideas will help until we have better leadership. We certainly have all of the ideas we could ever need, leadership is only a matter of time and not luck.

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 submission. 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.

Lions Club sponsors 4-H Fundraiser, member receives pin for his service

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The Natchitoches Lions Club gave a sponsorship check to Sunny Arceneaux for the Natchitoches Parish Friends of 4-H Foundation’s Fundraising Banquet, which will be held Thursday, March 30 at Westside Baptist Church. Tickets are on sale for $35 per person or $60 per couple. There will be a live and silent auction at the event.

Lions Club President Tina Ragan presented Brandon McKee with a special 100-year commemorative pin to celebrate his service to the club.

Don’t forget to contact a Lions Club member to purchase tickets for the club’s upcoming Fish Fry Fundraiser set for Friday, April 7 from 11 am – 1 pm. Meals are $10.

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2nd Annual Dylan Poche Memorial Bass Tournament – Official Standings

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Dylan Poche Memorial Bass Tournament
Cypress Bend Park
March 27, 2017

CONTACT: Burt Poche
PHONE: 1-318-652-3176
eMail: lutherpoche@yahoo.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TOLEDO BEND – The 2nd Annual Dylan Kyle Poche Memorial Bass Tournament was a great success. Held on the Toledo Bend Lake on March 25, 2017. Juddy Hamous and Christian Cain Hamous took home 1st place prize of $5000, weighing in at 21.79. Other payouts were given up to 12th place, along with numerous prizes.

Official Standings of the 2nd Annual Dylan Kyle Poche Memorial Tournament for Top 12 Winners out of 87 boats:
1st Cain Hamous and Juddy Hamous – 21.97
2nd Joseph and Dimple Clevinger – 19.39
3rd Dustin Boyt and Russell Sistrunk – 18.28
4th Michael Bedgood and Jerry Hester – 17.48
5th Chris Gordon and Allen Gordon – 14.71
6th Randy Despino and Robert Despino – 14.11
7th Daniel Campbell and Kaitlyn Campbell – 13.98
8th Kevin Harris and Billy Bonds – 13.97
9th Brad Hensley and Michael Kotz – 12.62
10th Craig Lewis and Cason Lewis – 12.30
11th Nicholas Ezernack and Evan Ezernack – 11.37
12th Lance Fontenot and Archie Dore II – 11.26
Big Bass – Juddy Hamous – 7.50

“We are so very thankful for all of the support we have received from everyone. I know Dylan was right there with us all today.”  – Dylan Poche Family

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Attend Priscilla Shrier Simulcast

Priscilla Shrier

Robeline First Baptist Church invites women in Natchitoches and surrounding Parishes to attend a GLOBAL, one day simulcast under the teaching of well known Christian author and speaker Priscilla Shrier, with worship by Anthony Evans. This conference focuses on the power of prayer and learning to study God’s Word.

Robeline First Baptist Church will stream this simulcast locally on Saturday, April 8. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. with services beginning at 8:45 a.m. and concluding at 4:30 p.m. Entry is $20 per person, which includes goody bags, possible door prizes, snacks, refreshments and lunch. There will be no childcare available, but nursing mothers do have VIP access to the church’s nursery with live stream video footage of the conference when needed.

Parish Work – Rain Delay

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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With rain forecast for today, Natchitoches Parish President Rick Nowlin announces that the planned cross-drain replacement work on Morgan Quick Road will be rescheduled for a later date.

For additional information, please contact the Parish Highway Department at (318) 357-2200.

So, what was the message?

By Ida B. Torn

QuestionMarkMarch 25th offered the chance for a large segment of Natchitoches Parish residents to voice their opinion and only a paltry 14.8% of them seized the opportunity. I must admit that I was very surprised when the final election results showed that all four ad valorem tax initiatives passed with sizeable margins. So, I’m left to ask just what was the message being sent by the voters?

While it is painfully obvious that voter apathy continues to be a problem for our Parish, voter turnout actually increased over the last time the taxes were up for renewal on July 21, 2007, by about 60% across the board. Does the fact that I find those numbers impressive mean that my expectations are way too low?

In the span of 10 years, the support for the Library tax slipped from 81% to 67%. Does that mean that there was opposition in 2007 but no one cared enough to turn out to voice their opposition? Or did the overspending on the Campti branch start to tip the scale in the other direction? Or was it the campaign of the rural residents to have the taxes realigned between the Library and the road system that sparked the decline?

The Health Unit tax saw the biggest slide in support with a 16% decrease. Was the decrease due to the fact that most residents appeared not to know that the Health Unit tax has been supporting the expense of inmate housing for many years now or was it because there aren’t enough people in our Parish who understand just how vital the Health Unit is to our Parish?

The most hotly contested tax renewal on the ballot was for Road District 40, which saw a 13% decrease in support. It was the one tax that I felt most confident would fail considering all of the negative talk on social media. It just goes to show that, in order to accomplish a goal, you must be well organized and have a concentrated campaign. Clearly, the folks who wanted a realignment in the taxes were lacking in both and the majority of voters had less confidence in their plan than what they do the Parish Government.

In breaking down the 2017 election results and comparing them to the 2007 results, one message seems to come through loud and clear – the chasm between the “rural” Parish dwellers and the “urban” Parish dwellers is growing and the Parish Government needs to get to work on regaining the confidence of all Parish residents.

NSU’s Amir James wins national recognition from Hero Sports

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After a week of online voting, Northwestern State junior sprinter Amir James has been named this week’s Hero of the Week in Division I men’s track and field after his brilliant performance last weekend at TCU.

James, who will compete Saturday at the UTA Bobby Lane Invitational in Arlington, Texas, ran the nation’s best 200 meter time, 20.56, last Saturday at the TCU Invitational. He was also second in the 100 with a 10.30, fifth in the country two weeks into the outdoor season.

James ran a leg on the Demons’ 4×100 relay team that registered a 39.92 clocking, ninth nationally. He and the other members of that team – Micah Larkins, George Flaviano and Ty Shilling – earned All-America honors in the event last June with a 15th-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

Earlier this week, the Missouri City, Texas, product was voted by conference media relations personnel as the Southland Conference Men’s Track and Field Athlete of the Week.

Fan voting administered by Hero Sports picks top performers in NCAA sports weekly.

Natchitoches man arrested for narcotics related charges after citizen complaints

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Natchitoches Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Task Force received complaints from citizens in the Fairgrounds Area March 16 alleging that a male subject was selling suspected marijuana while in the presence of juveniles. Agents conducted an investigation into these complaints and were able to corroborate the information that was received. NMJDTF agents obtained a search warrant based on this information for a residence in the 100 block of Klaire Circle in Natchitoches.

When they arrived at the residence they detained one Tyland Braden (B/M/28) and conducted a search of his person. Agents recovered from Braden’s person a large cellophane bag that contained several smaller cellophane bags which contained suspected marijuana. The bags had an approximate weight of 74 grams (2.7 ounces).

After searching Braden, Agents searched the residence. Agents located one large bag that contained 4 smaller bags of suspected marijuana which weighed approximately 106 grams (3.78 ounces). Agents located another bag that contained several smaller bags of suspected marijuana which weighed approximately 50 grams (1.78 ounces). Agents recovered drug paraphernalia from the residence as well.

A total of approximately 230 grams (8.2 ounces) of suspected marijuana was seized from Braden’s residence.

As result of the recovery of evidence and the information provided by Braden and Braden’s girlfriend; Braden was placed under arrest for the following charges: R.S. 40:966A Possession with intent to distribute CDS I (Marijuana); R.S. 40:1023 possession of drug paraphernalia; and 14:91.13 Possession of CDS in the presence of juvenile. Braden was transported to the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center and booked.

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.

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Rowing teams returning to Cane River and Natchitoches

UT rowers

The calming waters and scenic views of Cane River Lake don’t just benefit local boaters looking to soak up the sun.

For more than two decades, college rowing teams have made Natchitoches a spring break destination and a training ground as squads gear up for conference and national championships in April and May.

Five schools visited Natchitoches this year, including LSU, Texas, Wichita State, Oklahoma City and Central Oklahoma.

“Cane River Lake is a natural haven for rowing teams, especially for spring break,” said Jason Stelly, NSU’s rowing coach. “Teams can build up their speed and focus on rowing technique in the calm water.

“It’s a great setup because the city is willing to work with these teams. They don’t charge fees for using the river, and they can get deals on food and hotels, so it’s affordable.”

Texas coach Peter Rosberg says limited boat traffic on the 36-mile oxbow lake offers an ideal training location.

“I love it because you can go so long in one direction,” Rosberg said. “There’s so many miles, and you’re protected from the wind.

“I also love the setting with houses on the bank. Everybody is really friendly on the river and will wave at you. It’s really special. For the money we spend, it’s best deal I’ve encountered.”

Rowing teams are beginning to flock back to Natchitoches after water levels on Cane River Lake are becoming more consistent.

A combination of flooding and drought caused rowing teams to cancel in the last several years, and the uncertainty has impacted a decrease from the lake’s heyday with double-digit teams.

But the Cane River Waterway Commission is expected to complete a project by the end of the year which pumps water from Hampton Lake into Bayou Possiant, which flows into Cane River Lake. The project will help stabilize water levels.

Consistent water levels will bring a steady stream of tourism dollars from college rowing teams each spring.

Most schools bring a men’s and women’s team, which totals 50-65 rowers.

Natchitoches mayor Lee Posey introduced himself to a group of seven Longhorn rowers in a restaurant, and he said the city’s relationship with the college rowing community is an important one.

“They thought Natchitoches had a wow factor as a town, and they said it’s one of the best practice venues they’ve ever been to,” Posey said. “For us, it’s one of the neat pieces to our (tourism) puzzle.

“I’ve met people who visited as college rowers years ago that bring their families back to Natchitoches for trips.”

Constant access to the ideal practice venue benefits Northwestern State rowing.

Stelly said most college rowers come in with little or no experience, and the steady waters are a tremendous teaching tool.

“You get great, clean strokes, and you can teach proper technique,” Stelly said. “We have to adjust when we get on rough water with wind like Lake Lanier in Georgia where the national championships were held this past year.

“But we get a great start here on Cane River Lake.”

The NSU women won their first conference championship and finished second at the national championships this past season.

The conference consists of 66 schools ranging from Virginia to Florida to Texas.

Stelly credits Cane River Lake as an important part of that success.

“The water levels are much better now, and we’re seeing teams start to come back,” Stelly said. “In the past, teams have had to cancel at the last minute when water levels were really low or really high, and teams stop coming when that happens.

“We didn’t want to recruit teams back to Cane River Lake until we know water levels will be consistent.”

Sign kids up for Kids Day during Spring Break

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The City of Natchitoches and the Community Counseling Center at Cane River Children’s Services partnered to provide community youth with a Kids Day, a structured, positive activity set for Wednesday, March 29 from 7:30 am – 12:30 pm at the MLK Recreation Center.

Kids Day is open to all youth ages 6 – 13 and will include activities focused on art, skill building and recreation. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Registration is $5 per child.

For more information contact Dallas Russell at (318) 2378-7508 or drussell@natchitochesla.gov.

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Discover Your State: Toledo Bend

By Corey Poole

Discover Toledo Bend

Natchitoches – Louisiana/Texas state line
Miles: ~ 50-70 (depending on what section of the Reservoir you’re visiting)

With over 1,200 miles of shoreline, Toledo Bend Reservoir has a host of activities, accommodations and dining selections to choose from. Stay at a resort or a number of other lodgings including lakeside cottages, RV Sites, State Parks and campgrounds. It’s more than a body of water: it’s an adventure and no two trips will ever be the same.

Once part of a 5,000 square mile “No Man’s Land,” filled with outlaws, pirates and rebels, Toledo Bend Lake has grown into a renowned fishing destination. It was ranked the #1 Bass Fishing Lake in the Country in 2015 and 2016 by BASS Masters Magazine.

The seeds of a big dream, planted in 1955, grew to fruition in 1969 when the Toledo Bend Reservoir was completed. Built as a $70 million economic development project for the Sabine River Area, both in Texas and Louisiana, it’s an all-encompassing destination resort in a rural area.

Whether it’s a business meeting, training workshop, golf getaway, fishing trip or wedding Toledo Bend surrounds visitors with its beauty and tranquility. Overlooking an 18-hole championship golf course and serene views of Toledo Bend is Cypress Bend Resort.

The resort offers a world-class experience with friendly service; delicious dining options to satisfy every appetite; scenic nature trails through vibrant gardens, tranquil forests and the shimmering lake; fishing packages starting at $126 per person; and spa services including massages, facials and body wraps.

Toledo Bend Lake Country is also popular as a retirement destination because of its relaxing scenery, proximity to modern amenities and abundance of activities from historic trails and sites to scenic drives and gardens. And don’t forget about what it’s famous for: fishing!

Toledo Bend is one of the many attractions that can be found in Louisiana North, also known as Sportsman Paradise. The cities/parishes that comprise Louisiana North offer exciting activities like great cultural attractions, superb festivals, tantalizing local restaurants, and one-of-a-kind shopping adventures. Natchitoches Parish is a part of Louisiana North.

 

2nd Annual Dream Run Motorcycle Rally to Benefit Shriner’s Hospital For Children

By Kevin Shannahan

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Kevin’s Gallery

The Natchitoches Parish Fairground reverberated with the unmistakable roar of motorcycle engines Saturday, March 25th, as the Natchitoches Chapter of the Brother’s Keepers Motorcycle Club held it’s 2nd annual Dream Run Motorcycle Rally. Approximately 100 bikers, family and supporters attended the popular event.

Seventeen bikers and eight passengers took off from the fairgrounds for a scenic trip throughout the area. They returned to enjoy the sounds of local band Badd Apple and a grilled lunch prepared by the Brother’s Keepers. The event also featured a best bike contest in which the crowd voted for their favorite bike by filling a boot with tickets.

The Natchitoches chapter of the Brother’s Keepers Motorcycle Club is one of 38 Chapters worldwide. The club consists of career, volunteer and retired firefighters who all share a common love of motorcycling. Last year’s rally raised $7,500.00 for the Shriner’s Hospitals for Children and they hope to top that this year.