Cloyd Benjamin Jr. appointed First Assistant District Attorney 

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Natchitoches Parish District Attorney Billy Joe Harrington announced the appointment of Cloyd Benjamin Jr. as first assistant district attorney.

Harrington said, “Cloyd has served the citizens of Natchitoches Parish as an assistant DA honorably for 10 years. His trial court experience, vast knowledge of the law and his leadership within our office qualifies him to serve in this critical role.”

“Cloyd shares my commitment to fight and to deter crime by prosecuting criminals and seeking justice for their acts,” said Harrington.

Harrington also said Benjamin will assist him in management of the office caseload to continue to serve the needs of crime victims in the parish. Additionally, Benjamin will continue prosecuting crimes as first assistant.

“It is a great honor to serve in this capacity to continue working with the people of our great parish. I will work diligently to represent victims and to seek fair and appropriate justice for all. I am hopeful that I can assist District Attorney Harrington in helping people with everyday problems. This I believe is the highest form of service, this is helping people,” said Benjamin.

In addition to his experience as a criminal prosecutor, Benjamin previously served as former deputy for the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office and federal corrections officer for the United States Department of Justice.

Benjamin is also actively involved in building a stronger community. He is the founder of Dreams Inc., which sponsors an annual Christmas party that provides toys to kids and scholarships to high school students.

Benjamin replaces Jimmy Long Jr., who returned to part-time status in the DA’s office to allow him to focus on his private law practice.

Join National Park Staff to Witness an Eclipse Over Cane River

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While the path of total eclipse stretches from Oregon to South Carolina, a partial solar eclipse can be enjoyed at Cane River Creole National Historical Park. Please join us at Magnolia Plantation on Aug. 21 from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. for our solar eclipse event! Take part in ranger talks, citizen science, and other eclipse activities. You can make a pinhole projector and a limited number of safe solar glasses will be available. Please feel free to bring your own NASA approved solar viewers, blanket and/or chair, snacks and experience the eclipse across America.

Due to the nature of this event, weather can impede our eclipse viewing. If the weather is a concern on the day of the event, please check the park Facebook page or contact us at 318-352-0383, ext. 316 for an update.

There is no entrance fee at Magnolia Plantation.  All tours and activities are free.   Magnolia Plantation is located at 5549 Highway 119, Cloutiersville/Derry La 71456. To reach Magnolia Plantation, take I-49 to Exit 119 Derry. Head east on LA Highway 119.  Cross over LA Highway 1 and proceed two miles. The grounds of Magnolia Plantation are on the right.  For more information call 318- 352-0383 ext. 200.

City Bank & Trust supports high school athletics

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City Bank donated over 250 mini footballs to Natchitoches Central High School, St. Mary’s Catholic School and Lakeview High School. The cheerleaders will throw them at all of the home football games. Be sure and cheer them on this year. The NCHS cheerleaders include Morgan Howard, Madison Brown, Maggie Dupree, Sara DeMattie, Callie Owsley, Makenzie Waxley, Natalle Sers, Karianna Lazard, Emily Bumgardner, Alaysia Smith, Mary Katherine Dawson, Hannah Branam, Alyssa Palmer, and Mali Simmons. Also shown is Josh Pierson and Jenny McElwee, both City Bank employees and graduates of Natchitoches Central High School. The cheerleaders are sponsored by Jessica Odom.

St. Mary’s cheerleaders pictured on first row are Jolee Fair, Anna Kate Jackson, KD Creamer, Erin Seaman, Anna Peluso, Abigail Guillet, Caroline Godfrey and Anna McClung. On second row are Madison Lester, Izzy Peluso, Elizabeth deVargas, Mary Scruggs, Jensen Parker, Abby Williams, Jessi Lucky and City Bank Lender David Guillet. On third row are Lexie Brossett, Katie Aldredge, Maggie Gilmore, Lauren Vienne, Mackenzie Methvin, Emily Maggio, Bailey McConnell, Maggie Wheat and Carissa Kautz.

Lakeview cheerleaders include Mallory Yount, Jada Aldredge, Kristen Breedlove, and Alexis Smith. Pictured with them are Liz LaBorde and Angie Cole.

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VITA Program Saves Natchitoches Households $264,076 in 2017

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United Way of Northwest Louisiana, in partnership with the Internal Revenue Service, reports that during this most recent tax filing season, 6,279 households throughout Northwest Louisiana were served through the Volunteer Tax Assistance Program (VITA). Those filings resulted in $8.4 million in refunds to local residents, up six percent from what was filed in the previous filing year.

The VITA Program allows any household of one or more persons, with a total income of $54,000 or less to have their tax returns prepared by certified volunteers at no charge. This year, eleven VITA sites operated throughout Caddo, Bossier, Webster and Natchitoches Parish.

The free service saved local taxpayers an estimated $1.5 million in tax-preparation fees, assuming tax-filing companies charge an average of $250 per return. The breakdown of returns are as follows:

Caddo and Bossier Parish:
5,645 returns prepared = $7.6 million returned back to the community; $1,411,250 saved in preparation fees.

Natchitoches Parish:
213 returns prepared = $264,076 returned back to the community; 53,250 saved in tax preparation fees.

Webster Parish:
421 returns prepared = $521,777 returned back to the community; $105,250 saved in tax preparation fees.

“VITA is just one of the United Way programs that are imperative to helping ALICE families become more financially stable,” said Rashida Dawson, Financial Stability Program Director at UWNWLA. “We look forward to providing this service to the Northwest Louisiana community each year.”

ALICE, which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, are hardworking residents who are struggling to make ends meet, have little or no savings, and are one emergency away from falling into poverty. In Northwest Louisiana, 45% of all households are classified as ALICE.

A critical component of this program is the volunteers who to help execute VITA. United Way is seeking volunteers for next year’s tax season. If you are interested in learning more about this volunteer opportunity, contact United Way’s Community Engagement Coordinator, Jennifer Horton, at 318-677-2504 or volunteer@unitedwaynwla.org.

The savings keep getting better

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Lee’s Furniture Depot announced it’s sold the 1500 Texas Street location and all the inventory must go immediately, regardless of price, to vacate the premises and turn the building over to its new owners.

As the sale ramps up, all the inventory is now 20-50% off. This includes recliners, dining and living room sets, mattresses and so much more.

Business will continue as usual at the store’s 1216 Texas Street location, where Kevin Lee says they will continue to give customers the same great service they’ve had for the last 61 years. The store is full of one-of-a-kind merchandise that will be sold on a first come, first serve basis (no holds or lay-a-ways will be allowed).
All purchases must be picked up as soon as possible (delivery can be arranged for an extra fee). Sale prices do not apply to previous purchases and all sales are final. Shop now for the best selection because when it’s gone, it’s gone.

 

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NSU honors two with Advising Awards

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LeahAnn Young, assistant professor in Northwestern State University’s College of Nursing, and Scott Burrell, coordinator of Theatre and Dance in the School of Creative and Performing Arts, are the 2017 recipients of Northwestern State University’s Faculty Excellence in Academic Advising Awards.  The award, presented by the university’s Academic Advising Services office, recognizes faculty for their mentorship and commitment to student success.  Criteria include knowledge, helpfulness and accessibility.

“Now more than ever, faculty advisors will continue to advise our students across several time zones,” said Steve Hicks, executive director of NSU’s Academic Advising Services.  “One student noted her advisor coordinated phone calls during her advising sessions that had a 10-12 hour time difference.”

“To say Ms. Young went above and beyond would be a drastic understatement,” wrote the student in a nomination form.  “If not for her, I don’t know if I would be here today.  My advisor was more than willing to do some visits via phone, but most of our communication was over e-mail.  And she responded to all of my questions immediately, which was crucial given the time difference, half way around the world.”

Hicks said that in addition to non-traditional distance-advising, NSU faculty also work with traditional advising with entering freshmen.

“A traditional entering freshman, who now just finished her sophomore year stated, ‘Throughout these first two years of college my advisor has been more than simply an advisor for me.  He has helped me with my academics as well as my growth as a person.  It has been so nice to find a family here at NSU and he has been a huge part of that,’” Hicks said.

The Advisor Award selection committee requested all nominated faculty advisors provide a short personal philosophy of their advising.  Here are a couple segments/clips of their advising philosophies.

Young’s philosophy is, “You have my undivided attention; what can I do for you? And then I listen. After that, all I try to do is guide and empower the student.”

Burrell said that he witnesses change through the student’s academic journey.

“With a little nudge here, a small adjustment there, the student begins to become more sure-footed and the role of the advisor changes,” Burrell said. “Sure, there are still questions about curriculum, which classes to take, etc.  But decisions now are made about goals, career choices and philosophies, big canvas stuff.  More often than not, I’m there to encourage, to give the ‘voiced permission’ the student needs to risk and fail.  And sometimes, if I’m lucky, I’m there to inspire.  This solidifies my choice of being an educator.”

Academic Advising at NSU is regarded as an extension of the teaching function and is an important responsibility of faculty.  NSU’s professional team of advisors works closely with departmental faculty advisors and academic departments to help NSU students achieve their academic and professional goals.

This marks the 15th year that NSU had honored dedicated faculty with Academic Advising Awards.