Area businesses sponsor Grand Reopening of City Park this Saturday

City Park Sponsors
BOM, Alliance and Atmos are three sponsors of the City Park Grand Reopening set for Saturday, June 3 from 10 am – 1 pm.

The City of Natchitoches, Northwestern State University and the Natchitoches Parish Journal are co-hosting this event, which is free and open to the public. National Recording Artist Trini Triggs will be the event Emcee. There will be music in the City Park amphitheater, free food, T-shirt and prize raffles, activity booths, Zumba, face painting, inflatables and more.

Destination Downtown Natchitoches: Saturday, June 10

DD Natty Graphica

Visit Louisiana’s oldest City for its inaugural summer kick-off event, Destination Downtown Natchitoches Saturday, June 10 from 1-8:30 pm.

Schedule of Events:

Steel Magnolias House Tour
10am-1pm (Admission $5)
320 Jefferson Street
Tickets available at the door for purchase.

Prudhomme-Rouquier House Tour
10am-1pm (Admission $5)
446 Jefferson Street
Tickets available at the door for purchase.

Bloody Mary Tasting Event
Tickets go on sale at 11am and can be purchased by the stage in front of Exchange Bank on the North end of Front Street.
Tickets are $25 and will entitle you to a bloody mary served in a 12 oz cup from each of our 4 participating restaurants: Mayeaux’s, The Landing, Mama’s & The Pub

Live music starts at 2 pm.
Rivers Revue – 2-5 pm
Lisa Spann & Co. – 5:30-8:30 pm

Take advantage of face painting, lawn games (corn hole, jenga, etc.) and FREE inflatables for the kids!

Don’t forget your lawn chair!

Visit for a complete schedule of events.

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Family member reflects on closing business

By Jim Bob Key

Choates Closing

For many years, I soloed Ernest Charles’ piece, “When I Have Sung My Song I’ll Sing No More.” How true that statement rings for me as our family ends a near century of furniture, gifts, family, friends, and tradition as Choate’s Inc.

On Jan. 2, 1942, my father-in-law, L.J. Choate, opened Choate’s as a retail furniture store on the corner of North Street and College Avenue where the parking lot of Neebo stands today. His vision became our family’s mantra, and over the years expanded to include the largest collection of home interiors from the finest manufacturers. An extensive gift department and bridal and baby registry became of the trademarks of Choate’s; brides and mothers have made lifelong decisions that have passed generations of Natchitoches families and are now embedded seamlessly in tradition across the world.

Betty and I assumed the family tradition in 1970 when we moved the business to its current location on Highway 1 South, now South Drive. Our daughter, Pam, and now her son, Andrew, assumed the major part of the day-to-day operations following Betty’s death in 2008. Their vision transitioned Choate’s to reflect the choices of today’s young families. Also, I cannot forget Jimmy DeBlieux and Jane Johnson who both gave a significant part of their lives to the success of our business.

It has never been our desire to end this tradition. The long-term overhaul of South Drive did not position us to succeed. The proposed construction timeline was 12 months; it ultimately took 30 months to complete the job. We had no choice but to live through it. Though the roads look much better and are now better traveled, we were left without a navigable parking lot (a circle drive in the front), making it nearly impossible for our customers to patronize the store. We even struggle with deliveries.

We are indebted to our Natchitoches family, not to mention our families in the surrounding areas. You welcomed us into your homes, included us in your family celebrations, and you trusted us to make a home YOUR home. That feeling of accomplishment will travel with our family forever. Mr. and Mrs. Choate, Betty, Pam, Andrew and I thank you for that wonderful opportunity.

“…We’ve worked so hard to hold our dreams, just you and I. I could not share them again…”

I have sung my song, and I’ll sing no more.

Robinson Scholarship honors former head of Industrial Arts

Bill and Walter Robinson
A Sherman, Texas, orthodontist left a bequest to Northwestern State University to establish a scholarship named for his father, a long-time professor at NSU. Dr. William “Bill” Robinson, who graduated from NSU, established the Dr. Walter J. Robinson Endowed Memorial Scholarship that will be presented to a senior level student majoring in engineering technology who is selected on recommendation from department faculty. The scholarship honors Walter Robinson, who served on the faculty of the industrial arts department from 1945-1971, which included a time as department head.

Scott Robinson, grandson of Dr. Walter Robinson and son of Dr. Bill Robinson, said the ideal recipient would be “a student who shows the most promise, not necessarily the highest grade point average, because of their interest and motivation, coupled with a financial need for the scholarship.”

Dr. Walter Robinson and his wife Marguerite lived on Williams Avenue and Scott Robinson said he has many fond memories of visiting Natchitoches as a child, swimming in the Natatorium during the summer and enjoying the Christmas lights on Cane River. Members of First Baptist Church, Dr. Walter Robinson was chairman of the deacons, a Sunday school teacher and a member of the choir. He was also a 32nd Degree Mason, a Shriner and district governor of Lions International. In 1990, Dr. and Mrs. Walter Robinson moved to Sherman, Texas, to live closer to Dr. Bill Robinson, their only child. Dr. Walter Robinson passed away in 1999.

After completing his undergraduate degree at Northwestern, Dr. Bill Robinson graduated from Baylor University College of Dentistry in 1961 and served in the U.S. Army Dental Corps for three years. Afterwards he completed an orthodontic residency at St. Louis University and began a 37-year career as an orthodontist in Sherman, Texas. He received numerous professional awards and was a frequent guest instructor at the Baylor Department of Orthodontics. He was also involved with church and community and enjoyed supporting Christian ministry. He moved to Dallas in 2014 to live closer to his son and passed away Nov. 21, 2016.

“My Dad played the piano, the trumpet and enjoyed singing in choirs, mostly church choirs,” Scott Robinson said. “His mother, was a music educator and gave private piano lessons in her home. He was a member of the NSU band while he was a student. Being an only child, he was very close to his parents and as a NSU alum, wanted to remember his father who led the Industrial Arts department for many years.”

“On behalf of the NSU Foundation and the students we serve, I thank the Robinson family for celebrating their family’s legacy of service and education by giving back to NSU,” said. NSU Development Officer Jill Bankston. “This gift is also timely for our Department of Engineering Technology, a program that has shown strong growth in recent years and fills workforce needs for regional industry.”

For more information on supporting the NSU Foundation through scholarships or professorships, contact Bankston at (318) 357-4414 or email Information is also available at

Chapter 12 – Doctor Scruggs Arrives At Johnson Plantation

A fictional story by Junior Johnson


Deputy Moran decided to ride into Cloutierville and send a telegram to Sheriff Jones in Mississippi informing him that Captain John Winston was seen in Louisiana and was probably still in the area.

After the Battle of Monett’s Ferry during the War of Northern Aggression, the area had become a known haven for thieves, murderers, and outlaws of all description. Winston fit all of these categories.

It was well known in the area that there was a deep cave into the bank of Cane River simply known as Robbers Roost, and this was where the lowlife individuals would hold up while passing through. More than likely this was where Captain Winston and his group of thugs would hold up for the time being.

Pete had told Abslom and Levy of the snake when he made his break for freedom, so it was assumed that the old drunkard Doctor at Monett’s Ferry was where Winston would head to for treatment.

After he had sent his telegraph to Sheriff Jones, Deputy Moran planned to make arrangements with law enforcement officials in Cloutierville to come up with a plan to apprehend Captain John.

While they waited for Dylan to return with Doctor Scruggs, Aiden told his story of almost being hung for a crime that he did not commit before his brother Dylan had come to his rescue in heroic fashion. Pete and Noah were spellbound as Aiden told his story. His arm was feeling much better after being taken care of by the Lodrigue sisters.

Reverend Cryer’s fever had subsided somewhat since Grandpa Tony Lodrigue had treated him with his herbs and salve. He still had not regained consciousness, but his condition had not worsened. All everyone at the Johnson and Lodrigue compounds could do was pray and hope Dylan would soon arrive with Doctor Scruggs.

Meanwhile in the dingy old building at Monett’s Ferry, the Doctor had just finished explaining to Captain John Winston that he had a choice to make. Allow him to remove the leg or die. Winston did not like either option and asked for another bottle of whiskey.

Knowing there was nothing that he could do until Winston made his decision, the Doctor complied with his request. Time was a factor and a decision had to be made soon or he would die. Perhaps the whiskey would help make the decision easier.

It was mid afternoon when Dylan arrived with Doctor Scruggs. He was immediately brought to the room were Reverend Cryer was. He appeared to be resting comfortably which the Doctor was happy to see.

Doctor Scruggs began to lay out his tools to be sterilized before he began surgery to remove the bullet. This was going to be a tricky surgery because it was lodged near the heart.

As he finally began to work on Reverend Cryer, everyone moved away and only came forward when the good Doctor needed fresh towels and bandages. The others stood by silently in prayer.

It took Doctor Scruggs almost three hours before he was finally able to retrieve the bullet lodged near Reverend Cryer’s heart, and to stitch and dress the wound. All they could do now was wait, and Pray.

Since the events of the past two days had taken a toll on everyone, the Lodrigue women decided to make a good dinner with the food prepared for the homecoming of the Mississippi family.

Everyone sat around tables heaped with food and iced tea. Abslom Johnson offered a Prayer of Blessing for the food and a special request for the recovery of Reverend Cryer.

By the time he had finished the bottle of whiskey, Captain John Winston, in a very drunken state, told the Doctor to take his damn leg, but if he died, instructions were given his men to kill the Doctor.

With shaking hands the Doctor cut into Winston’s leg at mid thigh.

Notice of Death – June 1, 2107

Notice of Death 2017

Geneva Bell
Service: Saturday, June 3 at 1 pm at St. Peter Cemetery in Pelican
Interment: St. Peter Cemetery

Pamela Whorton
Visitation: Friday, June 2 from 6-7 pm at Faltine Baptist Church
Service: Saturday June 3 at 11 am at Faltine Baptist Church in Gloster. Remains will lie in state from 10-11 am
Interment: Faltine Cemetery

Demontre’ J. Lewis
Visitation: Friday, June 2 from 12-6 pm at Jenkins Funeral Home in Mansfield
Service: Saturday, June 3 at 2 pm at Higher Ground Ministries in Mansfield. Remains will lie in state from 1-2 pm

James Jackson
Visitation: Friday, June 2 from 12-6 pm at Jenkins Funeral Home in Mansfield
Service: Saturday, June 3 at 2 pm at Shady Grove United Methodist Church in Mansfield. Remains will lie in state from 1-2 pm
Interment: Shady Grove Cemetery in Mansfield

Charles Carroll
Visitation: Friday, June 2 from 6-7 pm at Jenkins Funeral Home in Mansfield
Service: Saturday, June 3 at 2 pm at St. Mark Baptist Church in Holly
Interment: St. Mark Cemetery in Holly

Betty Thomas
Visitation: Friday, June 2 from 7-8 pm at Jenkins Funeral Home in Mansfield
Service: Saturday, June 3 at 1 pm at the Memorial Seventh Day Adventist Church in Mansfield
Interment: Community Cemetery in Grand Cane

Elsie Greer
Visitation: Friday, June 2 from 8-9 pm at Jenkins Funeral Home in Mansfield
Service: Saturday, June 3 at 11 am at Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Mansfield
Interment: Williams Cemetery in Mansfield

Betty Jo LaCaze Wallace
April 17, 1947 – May 27, 2017
Visitation: Thursday, June 1 from 5-9 pm at Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home
Service Friday, June 2 at 1 pm at Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home
Interment: Weaver Cemetery in Flora

Clara Wood Suggs
July 21, 1950 – May 28, 2017
Service: Thursday, June 1 at 10 am at Rockett-Nettles Funeral Home Chapel
Interment: Bethany Cemetery

Samuel Brown Mangham, Jr
March 19, 1930 – May 8, 2017
Service: Saturday, June 3 at 11 am at Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church
Interment: Wesley Chapel Cemetery

Sis. Linda Gail King
February 19, 1951 – May 23, 2017
Service: Saturday, June 3 at 11 am at the Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church, Hwy. 1226 in Clarence
Interment: Winnfield City Cemetery in Winnfield

Jean Marie Bauer
August 27, 1930 – May 24, 2017
Service: Saturday, June 10 at 11 am at The Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Natchitoches with a praying of the rosary prior to the mass at 10:30 am

Zula Bradley Lathon
February 15, 1928 – May 27, 2017
Arrangements TBA

Frankie D. West
July 18, 1950 – May 23, 2017
Visitation: Thursday, June 1 from 1-2:30 pm
Service: Thursday, June 1 at 2:30 pm at Winnfield Memorial Funeral Home Chapel

Eula Moody
May 24, 2017
Visitation: Saturday, June 3 from 9-11 am at the Winnfield Memorial Funeral Home
Service: Saturday, June 3 at 11 am at the Winnfield Memorial Funeral Home Chapel
Interment: Lawrence Serenity Sanctum.

William Richard Green
April 05, 1955 – May 23, 2017
Arrangements TBA

Mary Casson
May 29, 2017
Arrangements TBA

Betty Raymond
May 30, 2017
Arrangements TBA

A Memorial Day storm to remember: Linemen work to restore power in Parish

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Restoring power after a catastrophic storm requires more work than simply flipping a switch. SWEPCO has restored power to approximately 10,938 customers in the Valley Area as of May 30 at 4 pm , down from a peak of 24,000 customers after Sunday’s storm, May 28. Approximately 6,295 customers remain without power in Natchitoches Parish, including Goldonna.

The NPJ visited the Goldonna area to check on residents and document storm damage. Don Wells said the storm ripped the roof right off of the Goldonna Baptist Church. It also damaged Goldonna Elementary and Jr. High School.

The estimated restoration times for the Natchitoches Parish area is Thursday, June 1 by 5 pm. Power may be restored prior to this. While some people may question why it’s taking so long, there’s simply that much damage. There were around 15 downed utility poles just within a few mile radius of Goldonna.

Sunday night’s storm packed winds of up to 60 miles per hour and downed power lines and trees across SWEPCO’s East Texas and Louisiana service territory. Two EF-1 tornados were confirmed by the NWS in the Longview area. Almost 800 men and women, including 501 line and 287 tree personnel, are working to restore power to SWEPCO customers.

SWEPCO has restored the main circuits from its substations. Now it is tackling the tough distribution lines along streets, in neighborhoods, alleys and backyards where crews can see major damage on poles, wires, cross arms and transformers.

Goldonna Mayor Verna Bedgood said it was scary. “It was a Memorial Day to remember,” she said. “When I came out of my house Monday morning all I could see was trees blocking the roads.” She and her husband, Parish Councilman Rodney Bedgood, said they’re blessed there was no damage to their house.

Sign up for SWEPCO Alerts to get personalized email or text message updates about an outage at your home or business. Enroll at

Girl Scouts Rescued from Saline Bayou

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Search and rescue crews rescued nine kayakers from Saline Bayou on May 29 in Natchitoches Parish.

Search and rescue crews from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), U.S. Forest Service, Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office, Natchitoches Parish Fire Department and Winn Parish Sheriff’s Office (WPSO) were alerted around 9 p.m. on May 28 about the missing kayakers.  The crews searched throughout the night when they found the nine kayakers along the banks of Saline Bayou before daybreak on May 29.

The kayakers consisted of a Girl Scout group from Dallas, Texas with three adults and six juveniles.  After leaving the Hwy. 126 boat launch on the Winn and Natchitoches Parish line, the kayakers encountered a strong thunderstorm.  After failing to arrive at their destination at Cloud Crossing Campground in Natchitoches Parish, friends and family members alerted authorities for assistance.

The kayakers were found by LDWF agents on foot with the assistance of a citizen on an all-terrain vehicle around 3:30 a.m.  The kayakers were found using their kayaks for cover from the elements.  LDWF agents were able to walk them out of the woods along the bank and to the Cloud Crossing Campground that was less than a mile away.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana’s abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at To receive email alerts, signup at

Pierson and Mallet Park Grand Reopening

Mallet Park Reopen 2017 (1)

Kevin’s Gallery

The extensively remodeled and improved Pierson and Mallet park, located on Fifth St., behind the fire station, hosted a grand reopening Saturday, May 27th. Sparky the Firedog was joined by his police counterpart McGruff the Crime Dog in entertaining the approximately 35 children and families at the event. The fire department, assisted by master griller City Marshal Randy Williams, cooked hot dogs for the crowd and passed out water. The parish library staff contributed to the festive air with their face painting booth, long a favorite of young readers and future readers.

The park has over $250,000.00 worth of improvements according to keynote speaker Mayor Lee Posey. There are 5 pods, each with a different piece of equipment designed to exercise young bodies as they climb, crawl and swing. The pods are connected by a “Reading Trail”, a pathway that features a children’s book. Each pod has a passage from the book and a related activity. The first book is Johnette Downing’s “Petit Pierre and the Floating Marsh”. Ms. Downing was the featured entertainer at the park’s reopening. She read from her book and led the children in songs and dances. This park is the first of several to be opened around the city.

Mallet Park Reopen 2017 (2)Mallet Park Reopen 2017 (3)

NSU, NLEP hold roundtable on workforce development

NLEP meeting 2017


Northwestern State University hosted executives from North Louisiana Economic Partnership for a round table meeting to discuss the university’s role in economic development and opportunities for collaboration to improve workforce development initiatives.  NLEP provides economic development services to 14 parishes in north Louisiana and represents the interests of the region to ensure that north Louisiana’s economic development potential is realized.

Seated are NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio and NLEP President Scott Martinez.  Standing are Sheena Black, NLEP vice president for business development strategy; Liz Pierre, NLEP senior vice president for legal and research;  Angie White, NLEP senior vice president for workforce strategy and administration; Dr. Darlene Williams, NSU’s vice president for technology, innovation and economic development; Ashley Busada, NLEP vice president for government relations and business development;  Christine Rambo, NLEP senior vice president of communications and marketing; Dr. Margaret Kilcoyne, interim dean of NSU’s College of Business and Technology, and Curtis Penrod, coordinator of NSU’s computer information systems program.

Summer Time is Heating Up!

By Gary A. McCollum

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It’s officially “Summertime” and one of my favorite times of year to fish. It can be a difficult time to spend the entire day on the water when temperatures can easily get into triple digits. One hazard many fishermen (women) think about is heat related illness.

Your body is amazing! A body normally cools itself through sweat evaporation. In other words, your body produces sweat through your pores and a heat transfer takes place as the sweat evaporates cooling your body. In Louisiana, we have unusually high humidity levels that can prevent that evaporation and make a person feel even hotter. Dehydration can occur rather quickly resulting in a very bad day.

Your body temperature can rise to dangerous levels and you can develop a heat illness. Most heat related illnesses occur from staying out in the heat/sun for too long. Age and physical condition will play a major factor. Older adults, young children and those who aren’t quite at their physical peak are the most at risk.

To identify a heat illness or the oncoming of a heat related illness isn’t very difficult if you know what to look for. Symptoms include: Heavy sweating, flushed face, heat rash (bumps), muscle cramps and or spasms, rapid breathing and a fast/weak pulse. These symptoms are telling you to get the boat on plane, cool off immediately and get into some shade or A/C. Give the affected person plenty of water.

In extreme cases this can evolve into a life-threatening situation leading to heat stroke. Symptoms of heat stroke include a lack of sweating, dry skin, flushed face, rapid strong pulse and dizziness. A person’s body temperature can increase to exceed 106° in a matter of no time.

Just like everything in our hobby/passion, proper planning can lead to a successful day on the water. Here are a few things that we can do to avoid a heat related illness while on the water:

1. Avoid alcoholic beverages the evening prior to going after your next wall hanger
2. Use a good sunblock and avoid sunburn
3. Wear a breathable hat
4. Drink plenty of fluids. 1 beverage with electrolytes to 4 bottles of water
5. Drink water every 15 minutes (even if you’re not thirsty)
6. Wear loose fitting, lightweight, light colored clothing (some have a great sun blocking capability)
7. If your taking medications, take extra precautions (contact your physician)
8. Avoid hot spots
9. Attempt to allow your body to acclimate to higher temperatures (especially if you have AC addictions)

It’s especially important to keep an eye on yourself and how you feel if fishing solo. If you have a partner fishing with you, keep an eye out on each other. It’s also interesting to note that once a person develops a heat related illness, they are more susceptible to a repeat of the incident.

Summer fishing can be extremely rewarding with extended hours of sunlight. We can catch the fish of our dreams on the very next cast. Just do some planning and prevention and we can all ensure we have plenty more casts to make.

Stay Safe and Tight Lines

Sewage leak closes Cane River Lake until further notice 


The Cane River Waterway Commission issued a public notice May 30 after it received notification of a sewer line break that will affect Cane River Lake.

Please don’t swim in the water

As a precaution swimming, water skiing, or any in-water activity is prohibited until further notice. The area is marked by two hazard buoys; one buoy is located at the beginning of the affective area downtown Natchitoches and the second buoy is located at the end of the affective area at Parkway Drive.

Person(s) that choose to get in the water in that area do so at their own risk.  For more information and updates contact Betty Fuller @ 318-617-3235.

The leak occurred when a 16-inch force main pipe running under Amulet Street cracked. Since there’s not enough elevation in the City for the sewer system to gravity flow, sewage is pushed through the force main pipe by pumps. This caused the sewage to bubble up into the street at the Amulet and Second Street intersection, where it flowed into storm drains which empty into Cane River.

City Utility Director Charles Brossette said the 2-3 foot crack in the pipe is unprecedented. It was roughly 3 hours before a crew could fix the problem. The City then contacted DEQ. Samples of the water in Cane River will be taken Wednesday morning, May 31, and will be sent to a lab for analysis.