First Swimming Pool Meeting Held: July 30, 2018

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The long-awaited Swimming Pool Meeting was held last night at the Natchitoches Arts Center located at 716 Second Street.   Don Barker, organizer of the meeting, opened to a standing-room-only crowd of swimming pool supporters.

Upon completion of opening remarks and a short presentation by Barker, the crowd was asked to break up in 7 small groups to discuss the seven questions listed below.  Once the small groups were finished, the leader from each group gave their findings to the questions:

What kind of indoor facility will we build?

  • 25-yard pool
  • 8 lanes
  • One side 6 feet deep
  • Other side 15 feet deep
  • ADA access
  • Blocks for diving
  • Adequate parking
  • A secondary pool for water aerobics and hydro therapy
  • Showers and locker rooms

How much will it cost?

  • Build Costs were estimated at $315.00 per foot
  • Operating/Maintenance costs are estimated at $25.00 per foot on an ongoing basis.

How will it be paid for?

  • Federal Grants
  • Waterway Commission
  • Community Health Grants
  • Private Funding
  • Council on Aging
  • Insurance Companies
  • Membership Fees
  • Rural Development
  • YMCA organization

Where will it be built?

  • On the NSU campus
  • The old Recreational/Golf site
  • The NEW City/NSU Recreation site on Hwy 6
  • Renovate and Cover the outdoor pool currently located at the Rec. Complex

What organizations should be involved in Planning the facility?  What organizations should be involved in the construction of the facility? (#5 & #6 were combined)

  • City of Natchitoches
  • Parish of Natchitoches
  • State of Louisiana
  • Local Doctors
  • NRMC
  • NSU
  • Boys & Girls Club
  • NCHS Swim team and coach
  • NSU Swim team and coach

What organization(s) will operate and maintain the facility?

  • Who will operate and maintain the facility will be determined greatly by who and how it is paid for. We must make sure that once building costs are met, there must be enough money to operate and maintain the facility over its useful life.   Don’t build and then defer maintenance for 30 years!

The next public meeting to form committees will be held on August 27, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.  The public is invited; seating is limited.  Contact Don Barker at 318-357-1590 for more information.

You may watch the meeting and review the pictures below.


Parish Council Special Called Meeting: July 30

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The Parish Council held a special called meeting July 30 to approve a few agenda items that required haste.

Introduce ordinance to amend 2018 proposed budget revision submitted on July 23, requesting a transfer not to exceed $30,000 from the special projects line item in the Highway Fund 101 to a new fund for the Odra Levee Project. The FWS is covering the entirety of the cash match because the Parish is providing the engineering services for the project.

Introduce ordinance to create Sales tax District No. 2. Because of the date the upcoming election falls on, the introduction of this ordinance needed to fall on July 30. This is only a 1/2 cent sales tax, which would generate about $1 million a year (excluding the city and the town of Campti). Council member Doug de Graffried said he thinks it’s lunacy to have both the sales tax and the proposed Road District property tax on the upcoming ballot. Parish President Rick Nowlin said only half the people in the Parish pay property taxes. A sales tax would allow everyone, particularly visitors who travel the roads, to participate in the funding of road improvements. He hopes the voters approve both the proposed sales and property taxes at the November election.

Adopt resolution authorizing Parish President to enter into an agreement with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the FHWA-Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division in connection with the Odra Levee Road Project

Submit a letter of support to the Louisiana Department of Economic Development in connection with the proposed expansion of the Roy O. Martin timber mill located in Chopin. Roy O. Martin is planning an expansion of its mill, which will be an estimated $8 million project with an additional 14 jobs. In order to get on the agenda for a LED meeting in August, the company must show support from the taxing authorities in the parish where they operate.

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Martco Announces $8 Million Upgrade To Chopin Wood Products Facility

Roy O Martin

CHOPIN — Gov. John Bel Edwards and RoyOMartin President and CEO Roy O. Martin III announced July 30 that the company will invest $8 million at its Chopin plywood and solid wood plant to install a new dry kiln designed to increase timber production. Additionally, the company will connect to natural gas pipelines, increase log in-feed and out-feed capacity, and expand the facility’s shipping and finishing area. With the new investment, the company will create 14 new direct jobs, with an average annual salary of more than $46,800, plus benefits. The company will retain 680 existing jobs at the site, and Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will result in 40 new indirect jobs, for a total of more than 50 new jobs in the region.

RoyOMartin, headquartered in Alexandria, Louisiana, is the trade name of Martco LLC, which operates the Chopin plant. The company’s modernization efforts in Chopin will include upgrades to scanning software and hardware, and upgrades to automated systems, including programmable linear controls and motor variable-frequency drives.

“The continued investment by RoyOMartin in Central Louisiana is a demonstration of the tremendous success that can be found in our state,” Gov. Edwards said. “With a highly skilled workforce and an abundance of natural resources, RoyOMartin has become a leader in the timber industry and a major economic driver for Louisiana. We are proud that this company continues to invest in our state, build on its leadership role, and create great new jobs for our people.”

RoyOMartin’s plywood and solid wood facility opened in 1996 with 330 employees. Today, the site employs 680 workers and uses 1.1 million tons of Louisiana pine timber annually. The facility also employs 25 foresters and technicians at its district office on-site.

“Since 1996, the Chopin, Louisiana, plywood facility has continued to grow, through moving into new product lines and doubling employment to approximately 700,” Roy O. Martin III said. “Throughout the past 21 years, with the help of Natchitoches Parish officials and five Louisiana administrations, the facility has prospered, turning sustainable Louisiana timber into products shipped nationwide.”

One of the largest independent lumber companies in the South, RoyOMartin operates plywood and oriented strand board, or OSB, facilities in Chopin and Oakdale, Louisiana. The company operates a Corrigan, Texas, subsidiary that also produces OSB. In May 2013, LED and RoyOMartin announced a company investment of $20 million to upgrade drying equipment at its Chopin facility, add a production line, and create new jobs.

“RoyOMartin and its plant in Chopin are major contributors to the economic well-being of our parish,” said Natchitoches Parish President Rick Nowlin. “We are very pleased to learn of the company’s plans for a further expansion of its production capability there. The result will be more good jobs, both direct and indirect, and additional economic growth for our area.”

To secure the project, the State of Louisiana provided a competitive incentive package that includes a performance-based, forgivable loan of $350,000 from the state’s Economic Development Award Program. Additionally, RoyOMartin is expected to participate in the state’s Enterprise Zone and Industrial Tax Exemption programs.

“RoyOMartin represents a cornerstone of Central Louisiana’s economy,” said Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance President and CEO Jim Clinton. “Their Chopin plant is one of the most advanced manufacturing facilities of its kind in the world. CLEDA offers its congratulations to RoyOMartin and to all our partners in Chopin and Natchitoches Parish.”

Don’t miss the Back to School Expo

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The Natchitoches Parish School Board invites all parents and students to attend its Back to School Expo Thursday, Aug. 2 from 4-6 pm at the Events Center. Representatives from schools and community organizations will answer questions and hand out information on school activities, after school programs, uniform codes, transportation, school supplies. A backpack and school supplies will be handed out to the first 300 students that walk in the door.

Natchitoches teacher receives Service Award at LDOE Gala

Lisa Wiggins

The winner of the 2018 H. Norman Saurage III Service Award is Lisa Lukowski Wiggins, of Northwestern Elementary Lab School in Natchitoches Parish.

The Louisiana Department of Education held its 12th Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Awards Gala July 27. Spencer Kiper, of Elm Grove Middle School in Bossier Parish, was named the 2019 State Teacher of the Year, and Dr. Eric Davis, of Wossman High School in the City of Monroe School District, was named the 2019 State Principal of the Year.

“The Saurage family’s support for educators and students continues to bless our children across the country,” said Wiggins. “Receiving this award is a true honor and testament to our community. My heart is full and I accept this recognition with humility as I have the privilege of living out my dream each and every day. I would like to extend a special thank you out to the Saurage family and the Dream Teacher organization for working so hard to celebrate the work of our fine educators.”

Dream Teachers is a non profit that recognizes and rewards educators who model instructional excellence and dedication to serve the needs of children. The H. Norman Saurage III Service Award goes to a Louisiana public school teacher who has demonstrated not only outstanding instructional skills, but has made an exceptional personal contribution outside of the classroom to student enrichment, professional leadership, or community service. The award can recognize the achievement of a single outstanding event, or continuous dedicated service over a period of time.

Cane River NHA to Host August Lunch and Learn at Grand Ecore Visitor Center

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Cane River National Heritage Area, Inc. (CRNHA) will host a brown bag lunch and learn lecture entitled, “Red River Legends and Folklore” on Saturday, Aug. 11 at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Grand Ecore Visitor Center.

All along the banks of the mischievous Red River from Natchitoches north to Shreveport, the historical culture has produced compelling stories that come from everyday life. The echoes of these are heard yet today.

Professor Cheryl White, Associate Professor of History at Louisiana State University at Shreveport, will explore some of the folklore surrounding the Red River and its historical basis. “The Red River is full of myths and many of them have been researched and preserved in the works by Dr. White.” remarked CRNHA Heritage Ranger Michael Mumaugh.

The presentation and Q&A will be approximately an hour and half and held at the Grand Ecore Visitor Center on August 11th from 11 am – 12:30 pm. The lecture is free and open to the public. Copies of Dr. White’s book, “A Haunted History of Louisiana Plantations,” will be available for purchase and signing. The books cost $20 and cash or check are accepted. Guests are encouraged to bring their own brown bag lunch. For questions, contact Michael Mumaugh at 318-356-5555.

Campti resident graduates from Delta Leadership Institute

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Donna Isaacs, executive director at the Campti Field of Dreams, along with 47 other participants graduated from the Delta Leadership Institute 2017-2018 Executive Academy July 27. These graduates now have the tools to support DRA’s efforts to create jobs, build communities, and improve lives across the Mississippi River Delta region and the Black Belt of Alabama.

The 48 graduates completed the year-long DLI Executive Academy, a training program that brings together small business owners, economic development professionals, elected officials, educators, faith leaders, non-profit leaders and doctors from each of the eight states served by DRA. The program equips participants with the tools, experiences and networks that will help them create new economic opportunities in Delta communities as well as support the growth of the region’s economy.

“DLI is an important tool to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of economic development efforts in the Delta region,” DRA Chairman Chris Caldwell said. “We are investing in local leaders who are ready to help us and our partners contribute to job growth for Delta residents.”

The graduates participated in six training sessions over the past year to educate them on the regional and local economic development tools that are working for Delta communities to spark ideas that can be implemented in their own communities.

DLI fellows learn from local, regional and national experts in infrastructure and transportation, small business and entrepreneurship, workforce training, public health and other fields necessary for economic growth in the Delta region.

Since 2005, DLI’s Executive Academy has enhanced the leadership skills, policy knowledge and networks of community members in the Delta region. After graduation, DLI graduates become members of the Delta Leadership Network, which includes more than 500 community leaders who understand the importance of regional collaboration, resource sharing and innovative thinking.

Donna said the past 10 months were amazing. “I am indebted to the faculty, staff, DLN members and all of my classmates for making this an exceptional experience,” said Donna. “Now, as a member of the Delta Leadership Network, I look forward to using what I have learned to improve the quality of life in our community.”

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Knights donate to Boys and Girls Club

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The Knights of Columbus of Natchitoches presented a donation to board members of the Boys and Girls Club thanks to the loyal supporters of their weekly charity bingo. Pictured are some of the 110 children who attended the club’s summer program. On front row are Shetoka Waldrup, Serenity Miles, Samaya McNeal, Jayda Llorence, Miracle Waldrup, and Ty’lillie Holbrook. On middle row are Jessica Coleman, Mariah Largent, Mr. Nick Jackson, Mrs. Susie Winston, Danajae Coleman, Zainaba Coleman, Jamarion Clark, Naiemah Wille, and Ms. Joy Dove. On back row are Darryl Anderson, Jeremiah Calhoun, Alvin Cassey, Kenyon Charles, and Michael Yankowski of the Knights of Columbus.

Notice of Death – July 30, 2018

Notice of Death 2017



Jewel Mathis
July 29, 2018
Arrangements TBA


William Wesley May
April 20, 1947 – July 26, 2018
Service: Thursday, August 2 at 2 pm in the chapel of John Kramer & Son Funeral Home
Visitation: Thursday, August 2 from 12-2 pm at the John Kramer & Son Funeral Home

Louisiana FFA leaders attend state convention

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The annual Louisiana FFA State Convention was held June 4-7. Hundreds of FFA members, including the State Officers that represent the Louisiana FFA Association, shared their time, dedication, and servant leadership qualities to the revamping and beautification of downtown Alexandria. Friday morning, Area II President and member of the Natchitoches Central FFA chapter, Jadyn’ Durr and Area II Secretary and member of the Lakeview FFA chapter, Salem Johnson stopped by to make sure grasses were green and flowers were blooming. This project could not have been possible without Alexandria Economic Development Authority (GAEDA) Executive Director Clifford Moller, the Alexandria/Pineville Area CVB Sherry Ellington, the CVB Director of Sales Julie Bayone, and the Riverfront Center Facility Director Mark Jones, and most importantly the National FFA organization for providing the funds to make this project a success.




The meeting to discuss the possibility of planning and building an indoor swimming pool for Natchitoches has been moved to the Natchitoches Art Center, 716 Second Street. It will be held on Monday, July 30th at 5:30 p.m. The public is invited. For more information, contact Don Barker at 318-357-1590.


A meeting to discuss the possibility of planning and building an indoor swimming pool for Natchitoches will be held on Monday, July 30th at 5:30 p.m. at the old Chamber of Commerce office, 560 Second Street, next door to the Central Fire Station.

The public is invited; seating is limited.Contact Don Barker at 318-357-1590 for more information.

Networking: From teachable moments to tap rooms

By Corey Poole

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I was excited to garner some wisdom and advice from a bevy of speakers at the Louisiana Young Professionals Conference, held in my hometown of Natchitoches on July 28. The conference was hosted by the Natchitoches Young Professionals and the Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce with the support of many area sponsors.

The day began with keynote speaker Jay Toups of Lafayette, who spoke about the keys to becoming a high performer. Grit (courage and resolve; strength of character) can take you far in the workplace.

There were several breakout sessions to choose from that offered a variety of topics from business owners and community leaders.

  • Jet Ainsworth spoke about the difference a positive outlook can have on your life and career. His advice was to “get excited.”
  • Steve McAlister told participants how their personal mission statement can define their careers
  • Carley McCord talked about learning to push through rejection, forget the haters, and attain your goals.
  • Dr. Chris Maggio discussed the traits of successful people.
  • Tony Davis spoke on how education is the core of a community’s success.
  • Ed Walsh discussed the importance of networking.
  • Skyra Rideaux talked about becoming a superconductor by using the power of social capital to network and create opportunities for yourself.

The session I was most excited to attend was the one titled “Don’t Do What I Did” featuring Bayou Teche Brewing President Karlos Knott. I was biased to begin with. I bartended for several years and I consider myself a bit of a beer buff. Karlos talked about his experience as an Army Veteran (seeing the world and drinking beer) and how that led to him brewing beer in Louisiana.

After being deployed in West Germany for several years, Karlos wanted to brew beer that complimented Louisiana’s Cajun cuisine. Local independent breweries are fast becoming the rage throughout the country and Louisiana is quickly amassing a collection of its own. While the ingredients in beer are pretty standard, what sets these breweries apart is the quality and the unique flavors they offer. These craft beers are part of a growing industry called “beer tourism” and Karlos said Bayou Teche gets its fair share of international visitors as they travel throughout the state.

After soaking up all the information I heard at the conference, the one thing that stood out to me was the power of networking. I’ve always been a firm believer in networking and it’s worked for me on numerous occasions, opening doors for new opportunities to grow my skill set.

On a trip to Lafayette on July 29 with Maggie Harris, who also attended the Louisiana Young Professionals Conference, we realized how close the Bayou Teche Brewery was (18 miles away in Arnaudville). At the conference, Karlos had encouraged everyone in his sessions to stop by for a visit, so for Maggie and I it seemed we were fated to take a spontaneous side trip.

We walked up to an outdoor patio area filled with the sounds of an accordion and a Cajun-French serenade. We went into the taproom to say hello to Karlos. He took us on a quick tour of the brewery and we tried some great beers.

It was an interesting experience to attend a conference on Saturday and then network with one of the speakers on Sunday. It’s important to make these kinds of connections, engage with people you’ve met and take time to appreciate what they’re doing in their communities. You never know what’s around the corner, when opportunities may arise, or how you may be able to help people unless you get outside yourself and network.

JOB OPENING: LSMSA Media Services Assistant (Opened Until Filled)

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LSMSA seeks applicants for a part time position to provide press and media coverage of LSMSA stories and events.

Duties of the LSMSA Media Services Assistant include writing and disseminating press releases that highlight the LSMSA experience in accordance with the school’s Strategic Plan; assisting in theimplementation of a comprehensive and integrated communications strategy; and maintaining a consistent presence of unique stories. This person will need to collaborate professionally with administration, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and guests to develop and disseminate well-written news stories for print publications as well as new media. Superior grammar, spelling and copy-editing skills are a must.

The successful candidate should communicate exceptionally well both orally and in writing; be creative; show initiative, have the ability to work independently and on a deadline; handle multiple projects at once; be organized and articulate; and possess excellent news judgment.

While this person will primarily focus on developing news content, experience in new media, reporting/writing, marketing, advertising, photography, and/or design is desired.

Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. Please send a standard application, cover letter, resume, contact information for three references, and a work sample to

In accordance with state and school policy, the LSMSA Media Services Assistant will need to successfully pass a background check and drug screening before working with students.

The Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts is a public, residential high school for high- performing, highly motivated sophomores, juniors and seniors. Consistently ranked among the highest in the nation, the school offers a unique living-learning environment for 360 students from across Louisiana.

FRJSTC Announces Name Change and Important School Information


Frankie Ray Jackson, Sr. Technical Center will open the 2018-19 school year as the Natchitoches Parish Technical and Career Center. According to Principal Bobby Benjamin, the name change has been in the works for years.

“We first introduced the idea of changing the name of our school a few years ago,” he said. “This is the name that was chosen during that time through a survey given to parents, students, and teachers. To us, it represents our purpose in the Natchitoches Parish School System.”

With an annual increase in School Performance Scores (SPS), a graduation ceremony, and an increase in the number of courses offered at the school, NPTCC is here to serve the students of the community.

NPTCC will be open for registration on Aug. 1-6 from 10 am – 3 pm. School administration is asking that parents be patient during this process as students will be asked to take a brief test, which will be used to help increase their potential for academic success. The school will also host its Open House and Ice Cream Social on Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018 from 5 pm to 6:30 pm. For more information call (318)357-9410.

Notice of Death – July 29, 2018

Notice of Death 2017



Jewel Mathis
July 29, 2018
Arrangements TBA


Tommy Ray Crouse
September 16, 1964 – July 27, 2018
Visitation: Monday, July 30 from 8-11 am
Service: Monday, July 30 at 11 am at Southern Funeral Home
Interment: Old Union Cemetery in Joyce


William Wesley May
April 20, 1947 – July 26, 2018
Service: Thursday, August 2 at 2 pm in the chapel of John Kramer & Son Funeral Home
Visitation: Thursday, August 2 from 12-2 pm at the John Kramer & Son Funeral Home


Laura Jane Partridge
January 30, 1940 – July 28, 2018
Graveside Service: Sunday, July 29 at 3 pm at Thomas-Wren Cemetery

Family honors its heritage during reunion at Oakland Plantation

Helaire Reunion 2018

The Helaire family gathered at Oakland Plantation July 21 for a reunion. Family members came from across Louisiana and the US. They also celebrated their matriarch Elvira Helaire Davis’s 103rd birthday.

Ancestry: Hilario was a young African who was captured and brought to the Americas by Longlois, a plantation owner near Cloutierville. Hilario met Jeanne, the property of John Pierre Emmanuel Prud’homme at Bermuda Plantation. By 1809 Hilario and Jeanne had a son named Hilaire, who was the first of many generations of Helaires to be born on Bermuda Plantation. The Helaire roots through Jeanne probably go back to the very founding of the plantation itself. Hilaire married Felis and they went on to have seven children. The family remained enslaved at Oakland until the end of the Civil War. Bermuda Plantation was renamed Oakland Plantation after the Civil War. The last Helaires left the plantation in the early 60s.

Terrance Helaire has come to the reunions, held every two years, since 1984. He loves seeing the growth in the family, from the children to the grandchildren. He also loves keeping in touch with everyone.

“Before Facebook and Instagram, these reunions are what’s kept us close,” he said.

Henry and Berneda Smith have traveled from Indiana ever since the Helaire family reunion was held at St. Matthews. Henry’s great grandfather was Felix Heliare. In the 50s Henry, who was born in Bermuda, said his family would come to Oakland Plantation all the time. He even got vaccinated there. Now he brings his grandchildren to visit the plantation during the reunions.

“I want to keep the tradition and family ancestry going when I’m gone so the generations after me will have a story to tell,” he said.

Yokota Strong said the younger generations are just starting to learn about their heritage. The reunion allows them to connect and come together to embrace and learn more about their family’s history.

He’s thankful that the National Park Service, which operates Oakland Plantation, has maintained what they could of the Helaire family’s heritage.

“The National Park Service understands the importance of preserving everyone’s history,” said Chief of Interpretation Barbara Justice. “It’s always an honor meeting descendants of these families and it’s an honor to share their stories with the American people. We also hope they’ll share their stories with us during these reunions so the National Park Service can learn even more about their history.”

Ivan Smith Furniture in Natchitoches fulfills area teacher’s wish list

Ivan Smith Adopt a teacher 2018

Ivan Smith Furniture in Natchitoches is proud to take part in the Adopt-a-Teacher Program. Dane Terrell presented Mrs. Lawanda Smith with her “Wish List” of school supplies for her classroom. Lawanda is a second grade teacher at Provencal Elementary.

“Lawanda makes a difference in the lives of children in our community,” said Terrell. “We want to be there to support her throughout the school year.”

If you, or your business, is interested in adopting a teacher in Natchitoches Parish call 318-352-5889.