Parish Council shuts down creation of Road Tax Districts


Parish Council members Rodney Bedgood, Russell Rachal and Chris Paige shut down the creation of road tax districts 1-4 at a special called meeting Oct. 29. Each ordinance died for lack of a second (Patsy Ward Hoover was Absent and Doug de Graffenried gave the motion for each).

The Council did pass an ordinance to create a sales tax district 2 containing all of the Parish except the City of Natchitoches and the Town of Campti because they are at their max for sales tax. Sales tax is something everyone pays.

Rachal said the only fair tax is a sales tax and Nowlin agreed because then everyone would have some skin in the game. However, Nowlin said a sales tax is also a regressive tax because it disproportionately impacts low income people.

Paige seemed uninterested in the road tax districts. “This is you guys’ thing as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “You know where I stand…I’ve been sitting here [Parish Council] 8 years where we went from one-point-something million dollars to half-a-million dollars now and no work has been done [in Payne Subdivision]. It doesn’t take that long to do the little work we have done out there. I have talked till I’m blue in the face over Payne Subdivision.”

“You also have people around Sibley Lake waiting for us to pass this,” said de Graffenried. “The City is waiting to see what we’re gonna do with Ward 1 because they want to suck up Sibley Lake into the City limits.”

“You can’t stop that anyway,” said Paige. Doug’s response was, “You fix their roads.” Doug suggested the Council perform an experiment and at least create Road District 1, which would have the best chance of passing.

“Let’s let the voters speak,” he said.

Paige said he won’t vote against the people in his district. “You [de Graffenried] sit and vote against Head Start and I’m always gonna have a problem with you and I don’t know if it’s from a racist standpoint or what, but it’s a serious problem.” This statement was in reference to de Graffenried voting against the submission of an application for Head Start. Doug told the NPJ that he voted no because he believes it would be better for the children if the Head Start was managed by an entity with more educational experience.

“I care about the kids,” said Doug at Monday night’s meeting. To which Paige responded, “I see you do. That’s why you voted against it. This clannish attitude is what you have to deal with down here.”

In reference to Payne Subdivision, Parish President Rick Nowlin said funding for has bounced around over the last several years, totally due to actions by the state of Louisiana and its Capital Outlay Program. It had nothing to do with the Parish of Natchitoches or anyone working for the Parish. Nowlin has been corresponding with people in Baton Rouge over the last two weeks to get this thing moved forward. There is $500,000 committed. Of that, $200,000 is Priority 1 money and $300,000 is Priority 5 money, which won’t be available until after July 1, 2019. The Parish could go to construction on the project and wait to be reimbursed by the state when it gets the $300,000. However, if the Parish moves forward and spends all the money ($300,000 plus the Parish’s approximate $167,000 project match) and doesn’t get reimbursed, it’s just spent the money it would need for road maintenance in the second half of the year. “I don’t think we have the funds to take the risk,” said Nowlin.


Early Voting
Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin is reminding all eligible voters to take advantage of early voting. The last day of early voting will be TODAY – Tuesday, Oct. 30 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“Many Louisianians have already cast their ballot during early voting ahead of Election Day,” said Secretary Ardoin. “These are important mid-term elections, and I encourage all Louisianians to exercise their right to vote.”

Voters should utilize Louisiana’s award-winning smartphone app, GeauxVote Mobile, to find out where to early vote as well as what’s on their ballot. Voters can also access this information in our Voter Portal by visiting Across the state, ballot items include candidate races, constitutional amendments and local and parish propositions.

Citizens who want to vote early may do so in person at the parish Registrar of Voters Office or at other designated locations. For a complete listing of early voting locations, visit

In addition to a Louisiana driver’s license, a Louisiana Special ID or a generally recognized ID with picture and signature, voters may now use LA Wallet, the new smartphone app by the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles. Poll commissioners have received training regarding the digital license as an acceptable form of picture ID.

Election Day for the open general/congressional/special primary is Saturday, Dec. 8.

Local Filé Legend recognized as Honorary Louisiana Tradition Bearer

Filee Legend (3).jpg

John Oswald Colson was honored by the Louisiana Department of Culture Recreation and Tourism as an Honorary Louisiana Tradition Bearer Oct. 27 at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest History Museum. Dr. Shane Rasmussen, Louisiana Folklife Ambassador for the Louisiana Folklife Commission, opened the program by presenting Colson with the state Proclamation on behalf of Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser.

Anthropologist Dustin Fuqua, Colson’s long time apprentice, delivered a slideshow presentation which highlighted the process of making Filé. He explained the traditional ecological knowledge and sensitivity involved in the beloved Cane River tradition.

Dr. Pete Gregory, renowned NSULA Professor of Anthropology and Curator of the Williamson Museum, led a discussion of the Native American pille and pilon, mortar and pestle, which Colson uses to prepare gumbo Filé.

The Art of Filé Making was part of the Louisiana Folklife Month cultural programs, sponsored by the Louisiana Folklife Center at NSULA. Special thanks to the LA Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest History Museum for hosting the event. Dr. Rasmussen further announced that Colson will be inducted into the LA Folk Masters Hall of Fame at the 40th Natchitoches-NSU Folklife Festival July 20, 2019.

Honorary Captains for NSU’s Homecoming Game

Guest Captains Homecoming 2018

Northwestern State University recognized two individuals by naming them Honorary Captains for the Oct. 27 Homecoming football game.

Colonel Eric Sweeney, U.S. Army Retired, served 26 years in the Army Corps of Engineers. In 2000, he completed a peacekeeping mission to Bosnia just before deploying to Afghanistan as part of the U.S. initial entry forces in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Colonel Sweeney immediately deployed again with initial entry forces in 2002 – 2003, this time to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Colonel Sweeney is a 1986 NSU alumnus. He commanded the ROTC Black Knights Drill Team, was a Distinguished Military Graduate, the President of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity and selected for Who’s Who among College Students.

Colonel Sweeney’s hometown is Bossier City, and he now serves as the JROTC Director of Army Instruction for Caddo Parish Schools.

Captain Justin Thompson holds a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, and Master of Science degrees from Northwestern. He was the Kappa Alpha Psi Theta Lambda Chapter President, vice president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council and African American Caucus, Class Senator for the Student Government Association and treasurer for NAACP.

In 2010, he commissioned in the Military Intelligence Corps through NSU’s ROTC program and has served 12 years in the Army, including a deployment to Afghanistan.

Captain Thompson’s hometown is Shreveport. He is currently assigned as a Sustainment Observer Coach with JROTC Operations Group at Fort Polk.

Northwestern State has a tradition of honoring those who served in the military prior to all home football and basketball games.

Church Street Bridge will close Friday for inspection

Bridge Inspection_Church Street

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD), advises the public that Bridge number 053-04-1463-1 on LA 1X over Cane River Lake, Church Street will be closed for bridge inspection.

Permit/Detour Section

The structure will be from 9:00am -2:00pm on November 2, 2018. The detour will be LA 494 at the intersection with LA 1X to LA 6X.

Safety Reminder

DOTD appreciates your patience and reminds you to please drive with caution through the construction site and be on the lookout for work crews and their equipment.

Additional Information

Call (318) 561-5100 or (800) 542-3509 or 511 or visit for additional information.

Notice of Death – October 29, 2018

Notice of Death 2017



Charles Cloud
October 29, 2018
Arrangements TBA

Charlie Vascocu
June 14, 1971 – October 21, 2018
Visitation: Wednesday, October 31 from 8:30-9:30 am at Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home
Service: Wednesday, October 31 at 10 am at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Natchitoches. Interment: Weaver Cemetery in Flora

Joshua Lynn Desadier
March 10, 2018 – October 28, 2018
Visitation: Tuesday, October 30 after 5 pm at Christian Harmony Baptist Church in the Trichel Community
Service: Wednesday, October 31 at 2 pm at Christian Harmony Baptist Church
Interment: St. Maurice Cemetery

Conna Cloutier
October 24, 2018
Arrangements TBA

John Jones Jr.
October 24, 2018
Service: Saturday, November 3 at 11 am at the Winnfield Memorial Funeral Home Chapel in Natchitoches
Interment: St. Davis Baptist Church Cemetery in Cloutierville


Carolyn Fay Hudson Phillips
August 24, 1943 – October 27, 2018
Arrangements TBA

Robert Neil “Bob” Smith
September 8, 1936 – October 18, 2018
Service: Saturday, November 3 at 1 p.m. at the Garden of Memories Cemetery in Winnfield


Janice Ann Treese
January 27, 1933 – October 28, 2018
Visitation: Wednesday October 31 at 5 pm at Warren Meadows in Many
Service: Thursday November 1 at 10 am at the Warren Meadows Funeral Home Chapel in Many
Interment: Prospect Cemetery in Florien

Bill Dean Zuel
July 7, 1955 – October 25, 2018
Service: Wednesday, October 31 at 1 pm at Spring Ridge Cemetery

Janet Eason
July 16, 1939 – October 26, 2018
Service: Saturday, November 3 at 11 am at McCormick Cemetery in Many

Janice Renell Hardy
August 12, 1951 – October 28, 2018
Visitation: Tuesday, October 30 at 11:30 am at The Life Church in Many
Service: Tuesday, October 30 at 3 pm at The Life Church
Interment: Cedar Grove Cemetery

Gwendolyn Gail Johnson
July 4, 1947 – October 25, 2018
Service: Wednesday, October 31 at 11 am at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Florien


Floyd Hathman Jordan, Jr.
December 10, 1967 – October 27, 2018
Visitation: Tuesday, October 30 from 6-8 pm at Rockett-Nettles Funeral Home
Service: Wednesday, October 31 at 1 pm at Pentecostals of Martin Church
Interment: Mt. Zion Cemetery

Early Voting – as of October 27, 2018



Natchitoches Pairsh Early Voting

Saturday 10-27-18 (Only)
1 122 74 6 202 82.98%
2 6 6 2 14 5.83%
3 4  3  0 7 2.38%
4 11 8  2 21 8.81%
143 91 10 244 100%
Totals 10-23-18 through 10-27-18
1276 517 70 1863
  • As reported by the Louisiana Secretary of State.  Shows In-Person and Absentee.


Election Day is November 6, 2018

Friday’s Early Voting – as of October 26, 2018

Thursday’s Early Voting – as of October 25, 2018

Wednesday’s Early Vote – 10/24/18

Tuesday’s Early Vote – 10/23/18

Letter to the Editor: Sharplin responds to Chateau St. Denis

letters to the editor295

Oct 28, 2018

Dear Natchitoches Taxpayer:

Upon reading Chateau St Denis responds to Sharplin, I feel it necessary to respond to Warren Reuther, the owner of the Chateau St. Denis Hotel. First, I stand by everything revealed in the letter Dear Natchitoches Taxpayer dated October 15, 2018.

I am pleased to read Chateau St Denis ownership will be paying taxes owed from July 1, 2018 to present. Luckily for the Natchitoches Taxpayer, this failure to collect taxes was exposed and now the Chateau St Denis property management system has been corrected. If not brought to light, this “computer glitch” would have cost our city and CVB thousands of tax dollars over time.

In the letter Chateau St. Denis responds to Sharplin, Reuther proclaims the Chateau St Denis Hotel “has the desire of being a good neighbor and member the of business community.” Mr. Reuther, you want to be a good neighbor? I have a few suggestions…Start by paying the back taxes. Second, drop the resort/value-add fee at Chateau St Denis. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand, a resort/value-add fee annoys guests. For the reader who doesn’t know what a resort fee is, here you go: Why-do-hotels-charge-resort-fees.

In Chateau St. Denis responds to Sharplin, Mr. Reuther is quoted, “Willful and intentional underpayment of taxes is not what happened here. As far as the upcoming opinion from the Louisiana Attorney General, we welcome the opportunity to address with him and the CVB the multiple sales tax audits where this fee was ruled non-taxable. In addition, the Natchitoches Parish Tax Administrator ruled that this tax was prospective in nature; therefore, there are no other monies owed by the Chateau St. Denis Hotel.”

I disagree with Reuther’s statement. Monies are owed by the Chateau St Denis hotel… and according to opinion 18-0098 from the Office of Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, the AG disagrees with Mr. Reuther’s assertions as well. Please see the attached opinion.

I commend the Natchitoches Convention and Visitors Bureau for asking the tough questions that some were not willing to ask in our community. The AG’s opinion validates the CVB asking for the collections that we as hoteliers are all required to collect. This is Natchitoches; Not New Orleans.

I, like most, just want a fair playing field for all businesses in our community. Natchitoches will never attract serious industry if the perception, and hopefully not reality, that some businesses are getting preferential treatment from local government officials.

Residents of Natchitoches, now is time to watch with vigilance on how aggressive local government leadership will pursue this much needed revenue for our cash strapped city/parish. Others may be watching as well…

Thank you my friends,

Jay Sharplin
Sharpco Hotels Group
Natchitoches, LA

READ THE AG OPINION HERE -> AG Opinion Letter 10-22-18

2018 Trunk or Treat

By Kevin Shannahan

Trunk or Treat 2018 (1)

Several hundred area ghosts, ghouls, goblins, superheros and their parents were able to enjoy Halloween treats and a meal at Trunk or Treat events Sunday October 28th at First United Methodist Church and First Baptist Church, 2nd St., both of Natchitoches.

FUMC started the fun, with their Trunk or Treat running from 3:00 to 5:00. Decorated cars and costumed church members handed out candy and set up games for the children. The United Methodist Men manned the grill and kept the hot dogs and fixings coming. An inflatable castle kept the youngsters happily occupied after they made the rounds of candy collection.

First Baptist Church 2nd St. started their Trunk or Treat a bit later in the afternoon, enabling dedicated Halloween connoisseurs to rake in candy at both events. In addition to the decorated cars, the First Baptist event featured a chili cookoff for the adults and a popular hayride for the children.

The Trunk or Treat events are a tradition at several area churches and are a great venue for safe family Halloween fun.

Politics vs. People

By Maggie E. Harris/Opinion

Maggie and Julie

A couple of years ago I attended the Women in Business Conference in Alexandria. As a young woman about to fully emerge into the business realm, I was excited to hear from a docket of successful professionals, and eager to be empowered by the stories of these women. The first night of the conference we had a diverse panel of women in politics. Each of the speakers had a unique perspective and set of life experiences, and they were all generous with their insight and wisdom.

One of those women was Representative Stokes. I was struck by Julie Stokes’ candor—she was both refreshingly forthright and knowledgeable. She spoke with a frank passion that made me put my little conference notebook aside—I found that I did not want to miss what she said. Though I had the privilege at the conference to listen to several great speakers, Representative Stokes stood out as one of the highlights of the conference.

Some time after the conference, I came across a video on social media that featured a Louisiana politician’s inappropriate use of satire at the capitol, satire that was very demeaning toward women. This video had been shared by a national media company.

It was disheartening to see that not only had this insulting incident occurred, but it had been seen by the world. However, towards the end of the video, Representative Stokes stood up and denounced the offensive behavior. She was bold and concise in her rebuke. My admiration for her no-nonsense approach to her work and life then evolved into a strong respect for her person.

During the recent homecoming festivities at the university I had the opportunity to shake hands with this same woman. It was a happy, unexpected meeting. I told her about being at the conference when she had spoken, and the impression she had made on me. She and I then spoke briefly, and she paid me some extraordinary compliments. Representative Stokes was just as impressive and dynamic face to face as she had been from afar. At the end of our conversation, she kindly agreed to take a picture with me.

It is almost taboo in today’s culture to like a politician. I feel that it is important to remember that politicians are people who fail, who triumph, who dream—who wake up with bad hair and bad breath just like everyone else. It is just as possible to like or admire someone you disagree with as it is to like someone you agree with. It is possible to even think that someone is a good leader and a good person and disagree with them.

Regardless of party affiliation, it is important to celebrate what we like about our neighbors, as well as the good in others. I did vote for Representative Stokes, because I believe she is the right person for the job. I also believe Representative Stokes is a good woman, and I am just simply a fan of her as an individual. I am so glad to have met her, and to have this picture with her.

2018 AKA Debutante Ball – Polished to Perfection!

By Kevin Shannahan

AKA Ball 2018 (2)

Kevin’s Gallery

Eight young ladies from Natchitoches parish participated in the 2018 Alpha Kappa Alpha Debutante Ball Sunday, October 28th at Northwestern State University’s Magale Recital Hall. The contestants were all high school seniors at various schools in the parish and were escorted for the evening by a young man in formal dress who was likewise an accomplished student in a parish school.

Each debutante and her escort was introduced to the audience and had a listing of their accomplishments in school and plans for the future listed. The debutantes’ parents were introduced as well. The evening’s entertainment featured a minuet dance with the debutantes and their fathers and a subsequent dance with the debutantes and their escorts. The NSU Demon Dazzlers also made an appearance with a high energy dance number. The entertainment closed out with a dance routine performed by the evening’s escorts that drew a standing ovation.

The evening closed with the crowning of royalty. Miss Raegan Washington was chosen as Miss AKA Debutante 2018. Miss Bre’Ana Williams was 1st Runner Up. Miss Mekaila Braxton was 2nd Runner Up. Miss Alaysia Smith was 3rd Runner Up and Miss Brittany Williams was chosen by her fellow debutantes as Miss Congeniality.

All of the debutantes in tonight’s event are superbly accomplished young women who have done well in high school and are more than ready to excel wherever life takes them. The debutante ball was marked by class, dignity and accomplishment. The Natchitoches Parish Journal is looking forward to seeing good things coming from them in future years!

The Natchitoches Parish Journal is donating the night’s photography. The album is not copy protected, anyone may download any they wish. If you do download a photo, please consider a donation to the AKA Debutante Scholarship at P.O. Box 1191 Natchitoches, LA 71457. Let’s help the ladies of AKA assist the young women of our community!