Church St Bridge



The Louisiana Department and Transportation and Development
(DOTD) in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration
(FHWA) is conducting a public meeting for the proposed
replacement of Cane River Bridge on Church Street Route LA 1-X
located in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana. The purpose of the
public meeting is to provide information to the public and to obtain
input on the proposed project.

The meeting will follow an open house format. There will be a
continuous multi-media presentation about the project. Additional
project exhibits will be available for viewing. Representatives from
DOTD and its consultants will be at the open house to answer
questions and discuss issues related to the project. Comments
and suggestions will be invited from all interested parties to help
ensure that the study team addressed the full range of
environmental issues during the Environmental Assessment
process. Verbal comments can be recorded and written statements
can be submitted at the meeting. Written statements can also be
mailed to the address shown below, postmarked no later than
December 18, 2017, to be included in the meeting transcript.

The public meeting has been scheduled as follows:

Thursday, December 7, 2017
4:00 PM – 7:00 pm

Natchitoches Events Center, McCullen Hall B
750 2nd Street
Natchitoches, LA 71457

Should you require special assistance due to a disability in order
to participate in this public meeting, please contact DOTD
Environmental Section by telephone at (225) 242-4508, or at the
address above, at least five (5) working days prior to the public
meeting date.

Louisiana Department of Transportation
Environmental Engineer Administrator, Section 28
P.O. Box 94245
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9245


ULS Board to meet at NSU Friday


The Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System will hold its December meeting at Northwestern State University Friday, Dec. 1 at 1:30 p.m. in Magale Recital Hall.

The Board is the management body for nine higher education institutions: Grambling State University, Louisiana Tech University, McNeese State University, Nicholls State University, Northwestern State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, University of Louisiana at Monroe and University of New Orleans.

Members of the Board of Supervisors are Chair Alejandro “Al” Perkins, Vice Chair Mark Romero, James Carter, Dr. John Condos, Edward J. Crawford III, Lola Dunahoe, Pamela Egan, Thomas Kitchen, Jimmie “Beau” Martin Jr., Johnny McFerren, Shawn Murphy, Elizabeth Pierre, Benjamin Rice, Virgil Robinson, Robert Shreve and Winfred Sibille.

Northwestern State will have several items on the agenda for consideration including the appointment of a dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and a dean of the College of the Gallaspy College of Education and Human Development, a letter of intent for a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and a proposal to enter into a Grounds and Facilities Lease Agreement with the NSU Foundation.


Twelfth Annual Red Mass held in Natchitoches

red mass 2017 pic

The Natchitoches Parish Bar Association sponsored the Twelfth Annual Red Mass at the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Church Basilica Nov. 21. Father Blake Deshautelle and Deacon John L. Whitehead officiated. Members of the Natchitoches Parish Association were involved with the mass. Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office assisted in the posting of the flags First responders from the State Police, Sheriff’s Office, Natchitoches City Police, Northwestern State Police, and the Natchitoches Fire Department presented their hats on the altar and received a special prayer. Judges and lawyers from around the State participated in the Red Mass.

Judges pictured and in attendance are:

Judge John Whitaker, Retired

Judge C. Wendell Manning, President District Judges Association

Deacon John L. Whitehead

Judge Desiree Duhon Dyess

Judge John Lee

Father Blake Deshautelle

Judge Glenn Fallin

Justice E. Joesph Bleich, Retired

Judge Fred Gahagan

Judge George Metoyer

Judge Anastasia Wiley

Judge David Deshotels

Judge Lala Brittain Sylvester

Judge Byron Hebert, Retired

Judge Eric R. Harrington, Retired

Judge Daniel J. Ellender

History of the Red Mass

The Red Mass is a service celebrated annually in the church for judges, prosecutors, attorneys, law school professors and students, and government officials. The Mass requests guidance from the Holy Spirit for all who seek justice, and offers the opportunity to reflect on what Christians believe is the God-given responsibility of all in the legal profession.

Its traditional name, the Red Mass, is derived from the color of the vestments that may be worn by the celebrants of the service and traditional scarlet robes of the attending judges.

The exact date of the first Red Mass is uncertain. The tradition of celebrating this service goes back many centuries in the ecclesiastical courts of the Roman Catholic Church in Rome. During the reign of Louis IX, a chapel was designed for and dedicated to the celebration of the Red Mass in 1245. In England, the custom of judges and lawyers attending the Red Mass annually in Westminster Cathedral began in 1310 and continued even during World War II.

The Red Mass came to the United States in 1928 in New York City. In the District of Columbia, Justice of the highest courts in the land gather for the observance of the Red Mass at the Washington Cathedral. At this special celebration, persons of all faiths and from all branches of government, foreign diplomats and other distinguished guests join together to ask God’s help in their roles as administrators of justice.

The first Red Mass in Louisiana was offered in New Orleans’ St. Louis Cathedral on October 5, 1953. The tradition spread throughout the state, including Shreveport, where the first Red Mass there was held in 1993.

We felt it was important to ask God’s guidance and blessings for the work of the judges and lawyers living and working in Natchitoches Parish and the surrounding communities, so the Mass was brought to Natchitoches in 2006, and celebrated. Since then, Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and Trinity Episcopal Church have alternated hosting the Red Mass and have included others who work in public service.


NSU to introduce Brad Laird as head football coach Thursday, public invited

Brad Laird Headshot

Northwestern State president Dr. Chris Maggio and athletics director Greg Burke will officially introduce Brad Laird as the Demons’ new head football coach Thursday afternoon at 1:30 in the ballroom of the Friedman Student Union in the middle of the university campus.

The public is invited to attend the event as Laird, 44, a 1996 NSU graduate and the Demons’ all-time passing leader, is formally recognized as head coach. He was named Nov. 20, on the first day of the university’s Thanksgiving holiday.

Since classes have resumed at the university, members of the NSU football team will be able to attend, a compelling reason why the introduction was not held last week.

Laird has been defensive coordinator for a total of seven seasons under three different head coaches at NSU – Scott Stoker, Bradley Dale Peveto and Jay Thomas. He was head coach from 2013-16 at his alma mater, Ruston High School, leading the Bearcats to some of their finest achievements in the past two decades since he was their quarterback.

In 1990, he was the quarterback as Ruston was an unbeaten state champion voted the nation’s No. 1 team in the USA Today Top 25 poll ranking high school squads around the country.

After his remarkable playing career with the Demons, Laird coached at some of the region’s most successful high school programs – Longview (Texas), Nashville (Ark.), Ouachita (Monroe) and West Monroe – as an assistant before joining Stoker’s staff in 2003. His defenses at NSU have set school, Southland Conference and NCAA FCS records.


Education is the Foundation: Outpatient Medical Center Inc. announces opening of School Based Health Center at LP Vaughn and NJH

OMC Education 2017 (3).png

Outpatient Medical Center Inc. (OMC Inc.) is excited to announce the opening of our School Based Health Center, at L.P. Vaughn Elementary and Natchitoches Junior High School.

School Based Health Centers (SBHC) are like a doctor’s office within a school and provide a great benefit to students and school staff. Research shows that SBHCs can help a student manage his/her illness at school and, therefore, decrease absenteeism from school and parents’ time away from work as well as fewer hospitalizations and trips to the emergency room. A student that is healthy and shows up to class is better equipped for academic success.

SBHCs provide three primary services in a school: primary care and preventive health services, first aid care to all students and school staff, and urgent care to anyone in need on school premises.

This SBHC will cover L.P. Vaughn Elementary and Natchitoches Junior High School as an extension of Outpatient Medical Center Inc’s Natchitoches Health Center. This project is funded in part by a Healthcare Access grant from The Rapides Foundation.

Parents, we are sending SBHC packets home. Please complete and return all SBHC enrollment authorization forms included in the packet to authorize your child to be treated at the SBHC.

We are focused and dedicated to keeping our children and our school administration healthy and whole. Because caring for you is what we do at Outpatient Medical Center Inc. Be well; be informed; be in touch and – be healthy.

Carl I. Walters II.

Chief Executive Officer

Outpatient Medical Center Inc.



SBHCs have been successful in addressing the health care needs of students from kindergarten through high school. In elementary school settings, SBHCs provide opportunities for preventive care, health maintenance, and the treatment of acute illnesses and injuries. As President of our Board of Directors, I am proud to support this effort in providing much needed health care resources to our precious loved ones.
– John Winston, President of Outpatient Medical Center, Inc, Board of Directors

I am proud to support OMC and it’s new leadership. I feel that we are addressing our mission of providing affordable comprehensive primary health care for all citizens both adults and children in our service areas. We are opening doors and promoting the general health of the communities we serve. As Vice President of Outpatient Medical Center’s Executive Board, I view this as a blessing for our communities, and I am elated to serve our citizens in the Natchitoches, Vernon, and Madison Parishes.
– Thomas Roque, OMC Board Vice President

I am very pleased and excited about the upcoming startup of the LP Vaughn School Based Health Center. This will be a great benefit to the students of LP Vaughn Elementary/Middle School and Natchitoches Junior High at Frankie Ray Jackson School that will ultimately have a tremendous positive impact across both campuses.
– Dale Skinner, Natchitoches Parish Superintendent

I am very excited about the opening of our school based health center! I think this will be a great asset to our school community as it will help provide our students and staff with health and dental services without having to miss many days of school to seek medical a en on.
– Kristie Irchirl, L.P. Vaughn Principal

As a former Chamber President, as a current economic development professional and as an elected member of the state’s school board, I’m delighted to see this initiative move forward through the cooperation of different en es in the community. It’s truly a team effort and will result in much be er health and educational outcomes for our students.
– Tony Davis, Natchitoches Community Alliance

This effort is a perfect example of community coming together to improve the health and well-being of our parish children. It took the collaborative support and vision of our Board of Directors; Mayor Posey; Natchitoches Parish Superintendent Dale Skinner, Mr. Tony Davis, President, Natchitoches Community Alliance; The Rapides Foundation; The Louisiana Primary Care Association; the Health Services and Resources Administration (HRSA) and countless other community stakeholders to bring this envisioned school-based health center to fruition. Students and staff of the L.P. Vaughn and Natchitoches Junior High School will now have on campus access to high-quality, medically-appropriate, cost-effective, personalized and professional healthcare services; a true commitment of our parish leaders to work together to improve the health and well-being of our valued parish school children and a huge community accomplishment we should support and be proud to have.
– Carl I. Walters II, OMC Chief Executive Officer

We are overjoyed to be able to offer this much needed service to our community students. We are confident that the addition of this School Based Health Center will promote the health of the faculty and students.
– Ruby Mitchell, Site Director

I am looking forward to providing care to the children and staff of L.P. Vaughn and Natchitoches Junior High School. The School Based Health Center’s goal is to keep our children healthy and to provide convenience for parents and staff while reducing absences from school and work.
– Mary Lancaster, Family Nurse Practitioner


Pick up the phone and call OMC today at:

Natchitoches Health Center: 1640 Breazeale Springs St., Natchitoches, LA 71457 1-800-268-5872
Leesville Health Center: 1603 B Boone St., Leesville, LA 71446 1-800-308-7569
Tallulah Health Center: 804 Beech St., Tallulah, LA 1-800-308-7566

OMC Education 2017 (1)OMC Education 2017 (2)

A Story of the Pearl Harbor Attack Hits Home

By Joe Darby


I recently watched a very heart-warming story on the Louisiana Public Broadcast system about a USS Arizona survivor whose family returned his ashes to the sunken ship at Pearl Harbor, where he will rest with his shipmates for eternity.

That special privilege is reserved for crewmen who survived the Japanese attacks on the Arizona, which was heavily damaged by the first wave of bombers on Dec. 7, 1941, 76 years ago next week.

But more than 1,000 of the crewmen went down with their ship and their remains have been on the stricken vessel since the day of the attack. Among those young men was a first cousin of my father.

I’d heard family stories over the years that we had a relative on the Arizona but I hadn’t known the exact connection to us or whether in fact the stories were true. I did remember the young man’s name, Ensign Walter Savage. .

Now I knew you could find just about anything on the internet so, sure enough, I looked up Walter Savage and I found the connection, including a family tree. He is also the subject of a special display at the USS Kidd Museum and Veterans Memorial in Baton Rouge.

Before I explain the connection, let me tell you a little bit about Walter. He was apparently an extraordinary young man. He was born in New Orleans in 1919 but grew up in Monroe. He finished high school at only 13 and after a couple of years of independent study, he went to LSU and graduated in 1938, when he was only 19.

He became the youngest CPA in Louisiana but had to wait until he was 21 to officially begin his career. Walter also loved music and was an accomplished musician.

But with war clouds gathering, he joined the Naval Reserve in June, 1941. He finished second in his class at the Naval Supply Officers’ School at Harvard University. The display at the naval museum in Baton Rouge speculates that if he had finished first or second, he may have survived but the second place finish slotted him for duty on the Arizona. He reported to that grand old ship on Oct. 27, 1941, just weeks before the Japanese attack. It also happened to be exactly one month before his little cousin once removed, yours truly, was born.

Walter was assigned as assistant paymaster aboard the ship and his duty station was in the decoding room. That space just happened to be next to the forward stack and when a Japanese bomb hit that stack and ended up detonating an enormous explosion, Walter was doubtlessly killed instantly.

The naval museum calls him the “first casualty of the war,” thus explaining the reason for the special display in his honor.

From his auspicious start in life, Walter would almost certainly have gone on to achieve much. But it was not to be. Like so many other young men of promise during World War II, he was never to return home.

Now, about that connection to us, which I had never known exactly until I looked him up on the internet.

It turns out that the connection was quite close. He was the son of Walter Savage Sr. and Theria (cq) Darby Savage. Theria and my father’s father, Joseph W. Darby Sr., were brother and sister. Thus, Daddy and Walter were first cousins. Daddy’s been gone for many years, but I certainly wish I’d asked him about any memories he may have had of Walter.

Who knows. under different circumstances, they could have been life-long buddies and I could have enjoyed listening to Cousin Walter’s tales of World War II. Maybe he would have given me a photo he took of the Arizona, as it was safely moored at Pearl Harbor.

As it is, without even knowing the details of Walter’s life or exactly how he was related to us, I have two small ship models of the Arizona. Now, when I look at them, they’ll be even more special to me.


Christmas Festival road closures

Christmas Road Closires


The following streets will close at the times listed for The Natchitoches Christmas Festival on Saturday, Dec. 2:

Front Street from Lafayette to Touline Street will close at 6:00 a.m.

Jefferson Street from Touline Street to Amulet will close at 6:00 a.m.

Jefferson Street from Amulet Street to university Parkway will close at 11:00 a.m.

Church Street Bridge will close to vehicles at 5:30 a.m.

Church Street Bridge will remain open to pedestrians until 4:30 p.m.

Church Street Bridge will close at 4:30 p.m.

Second Street from University Parkway to Lafayette Street will close at 11:00 a.m.

University Parkway from Boyd Street East to Rapides Drive @ Airport Road will close at 11:00 a.m.

Pine Street Bridge will close to vehicles at 11:00 a.m. but will remain open to pedestrians all day

Williams Avenue from Henry Avenue to St. Maurice Lane will close at 5:00 p.m. for fireworks