2018 St. Augustine Creole Festival: A Celebration of a Unique Louisiana Culture

By Kevin Shannahan

Augustine-2018 (3)


Several thousand people came to visit the St Augustine Creole Celebration held at the historic St. Augustine Church in Isle Brevelle Oct. 12-14. The popular event is a celebration of Creole Culture and is something of a family reunion as descendants of the area’s families come home from all over the United States and abroad. The festival also transforms the St. Augustine parish hall into what is arguably the finest restaurant in the state as the hardworking cooks serve homemade meatpies, tamales, red beans and, of course, their signature gumbo.

There were games for the children in addition to music and dancing. The Calico Belles conducted tours of the historic St. Augustine Church and cemetery. The St. Augustine Creole Festival is a long standing tradition of many years and is a celebration of one of the many unique cultures that make Louisiana a special place. The Natchitoches Parish Journal is looking forward to next year!

NPD Investigates Early Morning Shootings

Ms. Annie Hicks

During the early morning hours of Saturday, October 13, 2018, the Natchitoches Police Department responded to a call at 515 Fairgrounds Rd., Apt. #23, due to the caller, Ms. Annie Hicks stating that she had shot someone. Officers immediately responded to the area where they located Ms. Hicks and spoke with her about what had happened. During this time officers on the scene were contacted by an officer at the Natchitoches Regional Medical Center and informed that a nineteen year old female, Kylie Renee Descant, of 125 Edgewood Dr., Frierson, LA had been shot while on Fairgrounds Rd.

As a result of the information officers had obtained the Criminal Investigations Division of the Natchitoches Police Department was contacted and began an investigation. Based on information and evidence obtained from the scene detectives arrested Annie L. Hicks, 69 years of age, Black, Female on one count of Attempted Second Degree Murder. Ms. Hicks was later transported out to the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center.

If anyone has information in reference to the shooting you’re urged to please contact the Natchitoches Police Department directly at (318) 352-8101 or you may contact Detective Bobby Beard of the Natchitoches Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division at (318) 238-3914. All calls shall be kept confidential.

2018 N-Side View

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This Saturday, October 13, saw Northwestern State University hosting a record number of prospective students and their families as over 1,100 guests visited our university for a day of fun and learning about the many opportunities afforded by NSU. The busy day featured tours of living facilities, presentations on financial aid, a browse in which the visiting students and their families met with representatives of the various student organizations at NSU and learned of the myriad of opportunities they offer. Representatives from the university’s academic departments were on hand at the student union ballroom to answer questions concerning their areas of study. The day ended with NSU treating the future Demons to free admission to the football game against Sam Houston University.

The Natchitoches Parish Journal wishes to congratulate Ms. Jana Lucky and her staff on the fruits of their hard work. We are looking forward to seeing this new generation of students come to NSU and do great things with their lives!

Fall Pilgrimage features historical homes across Natchitoches Parish

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The Association for Preservation of Historic Natchitoches (APHN) packed 14 historic properties into a three-day Fall Pilgrimage across Natchitoches Parish Oct. 12-14.

The candlelight tour Friday evening gave visitors a sneak peak into some of the buildings on the Northwestern campus including the President’s Home, Russell Hall, Varnado Hall, and Nelson Hall, which house the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT). A special “Cane River Ladies” play by APHN member Dr. Vicki Parrish was performed in the Varnado Hall Ballroom.

Saturday featured homes in the historic district including the Lemee House, Prudhomme-Roquier House, Cunningham Law Office, LA Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum and Hill Haven.

A series of speakers at the Lemee House by Dr. Cissy Picou, Eliza Brittain Behrendsen, Dr. Bill Bryant and Dr. Susan Dollar informed visitors of some of the area’s history.

Saturday and Sunday features a walk through the Cane River National Heritage Area with Cherokee Plantation, Oakland Plantation, the Badin-Roque House, Melrose Plantation and St. Augustine Church.

Tapped-tober taps into success for its first festival

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The riverbank was crowded with festival goers Oct. 13 as they enjoyed a beautiful day at the inaugural Tapped-tober event, the first craft beer and wine festival of its kind in Natchitoches. Beer samples were passed out in the tasting tent and at the opposite end of Rue Beauport, children played the day away on inflatables. An array of food trucks offered delicious meals and live music from Southern Roots and Cody Cooke filled the air. A larger than life TV screen showed the LSU vs. Georgia game, and kids played video games in the CenLa VR Game Truck. A light sprinkle later in the evening chased a few people off, but many stayed to watch the fireworks display and hear a few songs from the main band, A Thousand Horses. For a first-time festival it was a humongous success! And the best part, proceeds raised at the event will benefit the Northwestern Cancer Center in Natchitoches so it can purchase a van to help its patients with transportation. It will also help the Natchitoches Regional Medical Center purchase a new 3D mammography machine for early cancer detection.

TappedTober Bottom 2018

2018 Public Square Rosary Rally Held at Immaculate Conception

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A group of over 25 people gathered on the front lawn of the church office of Natchitoches’ Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception for a Public Square Rosary Rally Saturday, October 13th. The rally, in its third year at the church, is one of over 20,000 held across the United States. This year’s rally fell on the 101st anniversary of the miracle of the sun at Fatima.

The rallies are held every year on the Saturday nearest the anniversary of the appearance of Mary at the town of Fatima in Portugal in 1917 and are sponsored by “America Needs Fatima”. The participants at the rallies pray for their country and their church and for God’s grace and guidance to return to the correct path.

Engineering Technology Symposium Oct. 17

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Northwestern State University’s Department of Engineering Technology will present an Engineering Technology Symposium from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17 in the NSU Student Union Ballroom.

The event is intended to educate participants on advanced manufacturing and its impact on the regional economy. Topics will include automation and robotics, advanced materials and techniques for CubeSat applications, workforce competencies for the 21st century, smart factories, advances in the lumber and timber industries, STEAM education and its importance on the success of the youth community, additive manufacturing and nanotechnology and advanced manufacturing.

The event is supported by the Natchitoches Community Alliance Foundation. To register, visit engrtech.nsula.edu and click on the symposium link. For more information, contact Dr. Jafar Al-Sharab at jafar@nsula.edu or (318) 357-6751.

LSMSA Senior Lecturer Sanjeetha Peters leads Technology Camp in Sweden



During the summer, many teachers spend their time relaxing or vacationing, but Sanjeetha Peters, senior lecturer of Math and Computer Science at the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts’s (LSMSA), travelled for a much different reason this past summer: to provide a technology camp for displaced refugees in Sweden.

For two weeks in July, Peters, alongside her son David, a sophomore at LSMSA, and Benjamin Walker, a senior computer science student, prepared and hosted a technology program for displaced refugees in Malmö, Sweden. Participants included citizens from the countries of Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Morocco, and Sudan.

According to Peters, the idea for the camp came in 2016, when she travelled to Denmark to assist with a similar summer camp. Peters stopped in Malmö for a day trip, and it was during this time that the refugee crisis in Sweden was at its peak.

“In 2016, Sweden was the hub for taking in refugees,” recalled Peters. “Many of them were separated from their families, and many of them were seeking political or religious asylum.

“I saw them dragging their suitcases, not knowing where they were going; just walking, sleeping in parks on benches. These were all highly educated people—lawyers and engineers—who were completely displaced. I felt totally helpless to the situation.”

She felt a need to offer a solution, but having no ties to the community, she was unsure how to go about implementing one. The following year, she found out that a close friend, Theresa, moved to the city of Malmö for work.

Her friend, who was also interested in helping out the city’s displaced population, assisted in forming the necessary partnerships to make the camp work.

“My friend Theresa was associated with a 200-year-old church in Malmö that had a very strong connection with the refugee community,” said Peters. “They offered food and helped with job placement, so we thought it would be the perfect location for the camp.”

Peters, her son David, and Walker travelled over with little more than an idea of how the camp would work.

“We went into this cold-turkey, without knowing the kinds of resources we had,” said Peters. “The generosity of the city, as well as some of the members of the refugee community, made the camp work like a well-oiled machine.”

The church and church-goers loaned their laptops for the camp. A small of refugees, who did not want to participate in the camp but wanted to offer assistance, made sure church doors were open at the start of camps and provided fresh-cooked meals for campers.

Over the course of the program, Peters and Walker led simultaneous computer-application workshops with camp participants, while Peters’ son provided troubleshooting and hands-on assistance to campers. The camp offered beginner, intermediate, and advanced computer concepts for camp participants, including everything from setting up a Google Calendar and Gmail account to web design and mobile app development. The workshops were split by age-groups and learning levels, with participants ranging from 13- to 75-years of age.

Peters hosted the camp as a means of providing the participants useful and practical skills for job placement.

“One of the ways Sweden assists refugees is that they give the displaced citizens two years,” started Peters. “You learn the language, you get a skill, and you get a job in those two years. The purpose of the camp was to give them that skill, like, ‘Hey, here are the tools. I can help you get started, and you will be able to continue after I leave.’”

Next year, Peters intends to host another Technology Camp in the city of Berlin.

The Math and Computer Science Department at LSMSA is full of highly accredited lecturers and instructors. For a list of faculty and course offerings, visit www.LSMSA.edu/math.

Foundation with Missing $19,500 Doesn’t Let Public Give Input Until After Decisions Are Made

By Edwin Crayton

If you’ve ever attended a public meeting for any organization that serves the public, you probably know that as decisions are being discussed, usually citizens are given an opportunity to ask questions and share input before the decision makers vote on the issue at hand. It’s this way all over the country and I’ve lived in about four states so far on both coasts. It’s called democracy and the only time I’ve seen it truly ignored consistently is at meetings of the Natchitoches Community Improvement Foundation (NCIF). The way it works at NCIF is the public is not allowed to ask questions about anything or even comment until after decisions are made or agenda items are voted on. I am sure you realize of course, that means the public is therefore not able to participate in decisions that affect its interest. To see what I mean, look at the copy of the agenda that is attached to this article (please forgive the stains, it was raining that night). See that section at the very bottom before closing? That is called the public comment section by NCIF and it is the only time the public is allowed to say anything in the entire meeting. And I mean anything. If a member of the public has a question about a funding issue or needs clarity or even just wants to make a brief comment, Chairman Leo Walker will cut them off sternly and remind them that they can only comment at the very end.

I mentioned this disturbing problem at the October 9, 2018 quarterly NCIF Board Meeting. I told the board that any public meeting should allow the public to have an opportunity to ask questions and briefly comment before decisions are made. I mentioned that making people wait until after all decisions have been made basically nullifies the influence of the public. I pointed out that it is pointless to allow public comment only after the organization or board has already decided on a course of action. I then suggested they alter the agenda slightly to include public comment with time limits before each vote, or at least allow questions at earlier points in the meetings so the public can influence decisions. That is the way City Council does it and as far as I know, it’s the policy of every other organization that serves the public. After all, I told them, it is a public meeting. This suggestion was rejected by the board. To further amplify their apparent low regard for public input, Secretary Mildred Joseph actually walked out as I was speaking. That matters because her function as secretary of NCIF is to record the entire meeting, including public comments. How can she do that if she leaves? And she did not ask anyone to fill in for her. So how do public comments get put in the minutes if the secretary leaves before hearing them?

Having low regard for public input is not just rude. It is simply unwise. The public has a perspective that is valuable because they are the ones for whom the organization was founded in the first place. The public can offer practical advice that may be otherwise overlooked. The public can provide vital information that may help the organization make smarter choices and even save money. That is true of all public service organizations and most understand this. On the other hand, when the public is treated like a stepchild, citizens tend to withdraw and not attend meetings because they begin to feel their opinion is not valued. Maybe some organizations actually want that to happen because they feel lack of public involvement gives them total control. It means they don’t have to be accountable to the public or to anyone if they are allowed to operate this way. But total control is a double-edged sword. It leads to arrogance, tunnel vison and bad decisions because those decisions are made in a vacuum. Before you know it, strong personalities are dominating decisions, intimidating others from giving opposing views and that can lead to corruption or mismanagement. In fact, had NCIF allowed more public input in the past, maybe it wouldn’t be in a situation where by its own admission it has not been able to account for what happened to $19,500 in public funds. NCIF meets quarterly on the second Tuesday of each month. The next meeting should be on January 8. Usually at 1st Baptist Amulet at 7pm. Check the local paper. Please let these people hear from you: NCIF board members are: Leo Walker, Oswald Taylor, Ed Ward Jr., Billye Sue Johnson, Brenda Milner, Shaniqua Hoover, Mildred Joseph, Estelle Braxton, James Below Jr., Catherine Hoover, Kelvin Porter, Renee Porter, Gwendolyn Williams, Diane Blake Jones and Gwen Hardison
“Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”–Lord Acton, 19th Century British Lord

“You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”–Jesus in the Book of John, Chapter 8, verse 32

NIC Foundation agenda for meeting 10-2018

Notice of Death – October 14, 2018

Notice of Death 2017



Gloria Joye Carter
March 3, 1936 – October 13, 2018
Visitation: Monday, October 15 from 9-10 am at Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home in Natchitoches
Service: Monday, October 15 at 11 am at Jonesboro Cemetery in Jonesboro

Mary Frances Brown
September 27, 1925 – October 10, 2018
Arrangements TBA


Mrs. Mary Ann Simms
August 7, 1925 – October 11, 2018
Visitation: Tuesday, October 16 from 9-11 am at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Pineville
Service: Tuesday, October 16 at 11 am at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church
Interment: Greenwood Memorial Park in Pineville

High School Football – Local Scoreboard 10/12/18


Natchitoches Central High School
Pineville Rebels 35
– Natchitoches Central’s Homecoming

* Score provided by Jessica Odom

St. Mary’s Catholic School
St Mary’s  12
Loyola College Prep 38
– Thursday night game
* Score provided by Angela Bundrick Eversull

Lakeview High School
Lakeview   0
Red River 48
* Score provided by 10-Yard Line Booster Club

The 2018 American Cemetery Tour Brings the Past to Life!

By Kevin Shannahan



Kevin’s Gallery

The Natchitoches Historical Foundation hosted a long standing and beloved community tradition at Natchitoches’ American Cemetery October 12th.  Over 150 history fans from around the area came to see some of the interesting and well known people buried in the cemetery brought to life by volunteers dressed in period costume. Notables ranging from Susan Harling, the real life inspiration for Steel Magnolias, Cammie Henry, Louis Juchereau de St. Denis and John Gideon Lewis, a pioneer of African American Freemasonry were just a few of the people buried in the American Cemetery brought to life.

Northwestern State University’s Department of Dance returned for a third year to present a hauntingly beautiful original dance piece in the cemetery. NSU Theater and Dance majors Adele Herbert, John Jefferson, Alphonse Engram, Mary Scott Pourciau, Vilma Castro Lopez, Anna Birbiglia and Jhalon Thomas are superb performers and choreographer Rebecca Morgan’s piece brought out their talents beautifully.

There were also stops along the tour in which “widows” dressed in black mourning costumes spoke about Victorian era customs surrounding death and mourning.
The last stop of the tour featured drinks and light snacks.

In keeping with the NHF’s mission of education as well as preservation and advocacy, over 200 students throughout Natchitoches Parish toured the cemetery prior to the evening’s tour. The groups learned about their community’s history, burial and mourning traditions.