Bulletproof the Blue participants get an inside peek into law enforcement

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The Natchitoches Rotary Club held its Bulletproof the Blue event at Dark Woods April 29. This event was held in order to raise money for new bulletproof vests for Natchitoches Police Department and to promote understanding of the difficult, split second decisions that police have to make while on the job.

”What we’re doing here is getting the public to experience high stress situations that police experience,” SWAT Team member Jesse Taitano said.

The SWAT Team and divers from the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office displayed some of their equipment at the event and explained the ins and outs of their jobs to guests.
Participants went through a mini police academy training session and were equipped with a police issue glock with nonlethal simunition rounds, handcuffs and a police duty belt.

Four scenarios were set up for the participants, and each one was designed to encourage quick thinking and action. The scenarios included a fight call, a domestic violence situation, a traffic stop and an active shooter situation.

Participants were given a partner and completed each scenario with their partner. After the completion of each scenario, participants were given the opportunity to ask officers about what they experienced and about other ways in which they could have handled the situation.

”This was our first year holding this event, and it worked out pretty well,” Taitano said. ”We’re really grateful to Dark Woods for letting us host the event here.”

Because this event was so successful, the Natchitoches Rotary Club and the Natchitoches Police Department are considering hosting the event annually and are thinking of ways to make Bulletproof the Blue even better next year.

First Baptist Sponsors Color for Honduras Run to Support Medical Missions

By Kevin Shannahan

ColorRun2017 FBC

Kevin’s Gallery

Natchitoches’ First Baptist Church on Second St. introduced a new twist to its long statnding support of the mission field with a Color Run for Hondutas April 29. Over 140 runners enjoyed a 5k run with a fun twist-runners passed stations where volunteers showered them with paint powder. The runners enjoyed music and a BBQ Burger lunch after the run. Today’s event is expected to raise over $4,000 to be used to support the 18 person team going to do mission work in Honduras under the Baptist Medical and Dental Missions, International.

The Natchitoches Parish Journal is donating its event photography. Photo protection is off and downloads are enabled. If you do see a photo you like, please consider a donation to First Baptist Church Missions.

Track & Field reunion brings past and present Wilkins together

5_8 Joshua Wilkins_by SLC

Over 30 years, the Northwestern State track and field program has gone from one Wilkins to another.

Just like track, life has a way of coming full circle sometimes.

When Demon alumnus Ronald Wilkins departs from Bowie, Maryland, for the gathering of NSU’s 1987 Conference Championship team on Saturday at the Leon Johnson NSU Invitational, his reunion will be two-fold.

Not only will he get to reconvene with some former teammates and coaches, but it also gives him the opportunity to see another Wilkins compete on the same track he did, 30 years ago.

His son, Joshua Wilkins, is a junior on the NSU team, and just like his father, is a standout on the Demons distance corps.

Joshua has posted one win and five top-four individual finishes this spring, and his first-place time of 3:52.39 last Saturday at the LSU Alumni Gold is the Southland’s sixth-ranked mark in the 1500 meter run.

“He’s only seen me compete collegiately a handful of times,” Joshua said. “So it will be great for him to be at the meet and get to see me race.”

The elder Wilkins, who was one of the strongest competitors for NSU from 1984-1988, made sure to pass down everything he learned from the great Leon Johnson, who will also be celebrated Saturday for his upcoming induction into the Southland Conference “Hall of Honor.”

That recognition, and introductions of the former competitors, is set for 12:30 at the Walter P. Ledet Track Complex. Field events begin at 10 with racing starting at 1, involving 11 schools, including rivals Lamar, McNeese, Southeastern Louisiana, UL Lafayette and Louisiana Tech.

While Ronald is eagerly anticipating watching his son run, he’s almost as pleased to see his former coach.

“I would not be where I am today without coach Johnson. He provided me the opportunity to come run at a great organization and a place that made a lifelong impact on me,” he said. “Coach wanted your best every day, and that is something I wanted to pass down to Joshua, which is why he is doing what he is doing at Northwestern State.”

Through the lessons instilled in him from coach Johnson, Ronald has been prepping his son for track and field success since Joshua first started the sport in the sixth grade.

“I was able to learn from such great coaches during my time at NSU, so I instilled that knowledge in Joshua,” he said. “From junior high through high school, he learned everything I knew and that helped him be track ready going into college.”

For the younger Wilkins, track was not always his first pick, even though he was aware of his father’s success in the sport.

“I didn’t have a choice but to know about his success! You know how dads are, he was always telling me the same stories over and over, but I still wanted to play basketball,” Joshua said. “It wasn’t until I was 13 or 14 that I started to really like track. I was competing in the larger races and hanging with the big boys at the top, so that is when I knew there was a future for me in the sport. I can’t blame him now, because things have turned out pretty good so far.”

While Joshua has had his fair share of success on the track, the friendly rivalry between him and his father will forever serve as extra motivation while his time is spent as a Demon.

“It seems like every time I meet someone in town that knows (my father), I always hear new things about him,” he said. “Whether it was about him being a good person, or his achievements on the track, it’s always something. His teammates have talked to me, and told me stories, and that makes me want to be better, especially if I hear about a record in an event, I want to top it.”

Ronald knows his days as the family record holder are numbered, and as fathers do, wants the best for his son.

“I want Joshua to far exceed everything I’ve ever done. He has the most awesome confidence of a young athlete I’ve ever seen, and he never fears competing at the next level,” Ronald said. “I know he has probably looked at my old times and wants to break them, but he would never tell me that. I think I still have him beat in one event, but Joshua has smashed all the other times I set.”

While NSU’s only home meet of the spring provides the ideal setting, Ronald is still flattered his alma mater is recognizing the championship teams of 1957 and 1987.

“The big thing for me is that the University remembers,” Ronald Wilkins said. “To honor us this weekend, brings all those memories back together. For them to reach out, to say ‘we thank you, we appreciate you, and we haven’t forgotten about you,’ means everything.”

Children’s Book Week to be Magical at the Library

The Natchitoches Parish Library (NPL) will be taking part in the longest-running national celebration of books for young people and the joy of reading this week with Children’s Book Week celebrations on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at 9:30 am! The NPL will be hosting magician David Scott, a past favorite performer, following a tour of the Children’s Department. Attendees will also hear about the upcoming Summer Reading Program and when and where early sign-ups will be taking place. Library staff will also be “in character” as someone from a favorite book on Wednesday.

“We hope that the tours make children, and their parents, comfortable with using the library,” says Community Outreach Coordinator, Alan Niette. “The library is here to serve the community, and if we can start doing that in childhood, we can create a love of learning that will enrich a child’s life for many years to come. And I believe the library is the perfect space to do that in. All of our employees strive to make the library a welcoming place to everyone, so please come by and see what we have to offer!”

The public is encouraged to attend and help increase childhood literacy at their local library during this special week dedicated to learning. Over 650 libraries, schools, and bookstores will host Children’s Book Week events the week of May 1 in all 50 states.

Kindergarten Round Up


Natchitoches Parish Schools announces the following dates and times for Kindergarten Round Up for the 2017-18 school year.  Parents are asked to report to the office of their zoned school with appropriate documentation listed below on the following dates.  Students do not need to attend. 

 Natchitoches Parish School System will conduct Kindergarten Round-up on:

Tuesday, May 9 from 8:00 a.m. to noon

Friday, May 12 from 8:00 a.m. to noon

You must register at the school in your child’s attendance zone.

Students do not come to Kindergarten Round Up.


School Principal Phone #
Cloutierville Elementary Sandy Irchirl 379-2577
Fairview Alpha Elementary Brooke Williams 476-4616
Goldonna Elementary Kendria Sanders 727-9449
Marthaville Elementary Jacquetta Tanner 472-6141
L. P. Vaughn Elementary Kristi Irchirl 352-2369
George L. Parks Elementary Shaneika Brown 352-2764
Provencal Elementary Mary Yount 472-6174
M. R. Weaver Elementary Micah Nicholson 352-3623

Please bring the following information with you:


  • Your child’s official birth certificate
  • Your child’s immunization record
  • Your child’s Social Security Card
  • Proof of residency (Utility bill)
  • You do not have to bring your child



Sign up for a Master Gardener Class

By Marné Deranger


Do you think 10 people will read this? Ten people who want to learn more about Louisiana-specific gardening in a relaxed environment? Ten people who want to become Master Gardeners?

Are you one of those 10 people?

According to LSU AgCenter’s website, “the Louisiana Master Gardener Program is a volunteer development program offered by the LSU AgCenter. Master Gardener volunteers are highly trained and provide proven, research-based educational programs to Louisiana residents.” Becoming a Master Gardener begins at the Master Gardener class.

The LSU Ag Center plans to start a Master Gardener class in Natchitoches on June 5…if 10 people sign up. The 10-week course will be held on Mondays from 4-7pm at the Farm Bureau and costs $150 per student. For that fee, each student receives a stack of valuable reference material covering everything from soil to trees, bugs to berries, landscaping to disease diagnosis. Presenters are experts from across the state, and they don’t just teach. They become part of your network of advisors.

The only catch? We must have 10 people signed up (not just “interested,” but actually signed up) by May 15 to start the class on June 5. Are you one of the 10? If so, swing by your friendly Parish Extension office at 624 Second Street, sign up for the course, and take the first step to becoming a Master Gardener.