Parish Council holds brief meeting, appoints residents to boards

The majority of agenda items for Monday night’s Parish Council meeting on Jan. 28 were the fllowing board appointments and re-appointments:

Monty Trichel, Troy Gardner, and Cecil Wade Ebert to the Natchitoches Parish Fire District 9 Board
Doris Kochinsky, Dallas Russell, and Ramona Guin to the Children and Youth Planning Board
Gary Conlay to the Northwest Louisiana Human Services District
Ricky LaCour to the Natchitoches Parish Tourist Commission
James Anthony to the Water Works District 2 Board
Ronald Payne to the Natchitoches Parish Planning Commission

Council member Patsy Ward Hoover objected to the appointment of John Morgan to the Fire District 1 Board. She said there were two other applicants (Chris Posey and Brian Benefield) who turned their applications in December of last year (Morgan turned in his application at a later date). Hoover’s reasoning was that the applications that were turned in first should have been considered before Morgan. However, Parish President Rick Nowlin chooses an applicant to nominate to the Council based on their qualifications.

Rodney Bedgood abstained from the vote and Hoover and Chris Paige voted No to appointing Morgan. After some debate Russell Rachal made a motion to bring the appointment back up. The Council revoted with the same outcome, so the Parish President will work to bring forward another nomination at the February meeting.

In other business, an ordinance was introduced to remove Benjie Colvin Road from the parish road system.

Other agenda items included:

Approve permanent change in polling place from the Kisatchie Community Center to the Kisatchie Baptist Church

Approve resolution to hold an election in Fire Protection District No. 1 on May 4 to authorize the levy of a parcel fee therein

Advertise for public bids for the first phase of the Payne Subdivision Street Improvement Project upon receipt of authorization to advertise from the State of Louisiana Facility Planning and Control

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City Council meeting short, “value added” fee discussed

 

There was only one item on the agenda for Monday night’s City Council meeting on Jan. 28. It was to execute a change order to the contract between the City and Regional Construction LLC for the 2017-208 Street Rehabilitation Program, Phase 2.

Before the meeting was adjourned Council member Eddie Harrington asked for an update regarding a resolution from a November meeting requesting the Natchitoches Tax Collector Jerry McWherter provide a written explanation on taxes owed by Chateau St. Denis:

Why sales occupation on a TIF tax were not collected on a period of November 18, 2016 through June 31, 2018.
If taxes are determined to be owed to provide a plan for payment of the amount due or negotiate a settlement of the amount due.

The Natchitoches Parish Tourist Commission made a public records request for certain information from the Natchitoches Tax Commission on Jan. 4.

The attorney for the Tax Commission stated in a response to the Tourist Commission that when McWherter was first made aware of the hotel’s “value added” package fee he contacted other jurisdictions like New Orleans. Through his research he determined whether or not the fee was taxable or not. His conclusion at the time was that the fee was not subject to sales and use tax.

He later, based on added information including an opinion from the Attorney General’s Office, changed his mind and in June of 2018 he advised the hotel that the fee was taxable and they should start collecting taxes. The attorney also advised McWherter that to try and reclaim any of the back taxes wouldn’t be prudent considering he originally told the hotel they didn’t have to collect taxes on their “value added” fee.

The next City Council meeting will be Monday, Feb. 11.

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West to Chair State Public Relations Association Board of Directors

 

Kelli West, the Director of Marketing & Communications for the Natchitoches Convention & Visitors Bureau, is the 2019 President of the Public Relations Association of Louisiana (PRAL).

Statewide membership in PRAL consists of nearly 300 public relations students and professionals who work at all levels in many industries, from small businesses and major corporations to government agencies, educational institutions, nonprofits and public relations firms. There are five regional chapters of the state organization including New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Acadiana (Lafayette), Central (Alexandria), and Northwest (Shreveport).

PRAL membership also includes membership in the Southern Public Relations Federation (SPRF), which brings Louisiana public relations practitioners together with professionals in Alabama, Mississippi, and the Emerald Coast of the Florida Panhandle.

PRAL is managed by a volunteer board of directors with representatives from each of the five member chapters. The board meets quarterly to plan activities and give strategic direction to the organization based on member feedback. From the board, five representatives also sit on the SPRF board. As president, West is one of the five to serve on the SPRF Board for 2019.

West served on the local board of the Central Chapter since 2012, and on the state board since 2014. On the local level, West served as Programming Chair, Membership Chair, Vice President, President, and Past President. On the state level, West served as Chapter President Rep, Vice President of Awards and Student Services for 4 years, President-Elect, and now President.

She plans to visit all five regional chapters this year and work with the Vice President of Student Services and Awards to establish a statewide awards program for all five chapters to participate.

 

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St. Mary’s Powerlifitng Update

 

The St. Mary’s Powerlifting team joined 240 lifters at Leesville High School this weekend, Jan. 26-27, for an invitational meet. Despite going up against several 5A schools, two freshmen out lifted the competition.

AK Jackson may be a Freshman, but this is her second year lifting with the Tigers. Last year as an 8th grader, she placed 4th at the state level! In this meet, she earned another 3rd place medal, beating out a 5A competitor by 35 pounds.

Following in her fierce footsteps is fellow Freshman Chloe Nash. Chloe has only been lifting for two months, but has already proved that strong things come in tiny packages! She placed 2nd in her weight class at this meet, and you will see her on the podium again.

Every single lifter (six girls, four boys) had at least one personal record (PR) on Saturday. As the team begins their preparation for the Regional meet, things are looking great for St Mary’s Powerlifting teams.

Mark your calendars. The Regional meet is Feb 22 (girls) and 23 (boys) as Bolton High School in Alexandria. The State meet will be held in the Rapids Parish Coliseum, also in Alexandria. The girls will compete on March 15th and the boys on the 16th.

Pictured on first row from left are Chloe Nash and Kylie Bennett. On second row are Coach Hannah Whatley and Hannah Deranger. On third row are Anna Kate Jackson, Chloe Cremeans and Sarah Thibodaux. On fourth row are Jace Miley, Thomas Watkins, Will deVargas and Cole Fisher.

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ULL Reps visit with students at Lakeview

 

Representatives from the University of Louisiana, Lafayette (ULL) visited with students today to tell them all about what their university has to offer. Students were given valuable information regarding housing, scholarships, financial aid, campus life and they were invited to tour the campus.

Pictured on front row from left are Ke’Aira Thomas, LaTia Beavers, Stephani Bradley, Jaylon Lewis (ULL), Nicole Nillette (ULL) Salem Johnson, Anna Smith, Emily Windham, Julie Baldwin, Shalynn Matthews, Hunter Thomas, and Zarious Lewis. On back row are ShaQuera Reliford, Dillon Longino, Jalen Benn, Joe Gallien, Nicholas Wiggins, Zack Favela, Karmen Jarriett , SherMarcus Page, Jaquan Bobb, Devin Ballard, and Joshua Long.

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Chick-fil-A opens with ribbon cutting

A crowd of students and representatives from Northwestern State University, Sodexo, the Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce, the city of Natchitoches and Chick-fil-A Inc. gathered for the long-anticipated grand opening of the new Chick-fil-A Express located at 912 University Parkway Monday, Jan. 28. The restaurant is adjacent to the NSU Marketplace bookstore across from NSU’s Eugene P. Watson Memorial Library. Restaurant hours are 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays. Students are able to use their declining balance at Chick-fil-A. The Chick-fil-A Express offers a variety of breakfast and lunch items, chicken sandwiches, nuggets, sides and more.

Chamber President Laura Lyles expressed her excitement that both students and community members will be able to access and enjoy Chick-fil-A at it’s convienient location.

NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio said the students wanted more food options and while it wasn’t decided through a scientific survey, Chick-fil-A rose to the top. The university put a lot of partners together to make this happen including auxiliaries, food service, Nsu Foundation and more. The project soon expanded to improving book store services with a new campus marketplace next door.

“This is where history meets the progress of NSU,” he said. “We’ll continue to develop this corridor as we continue to expand our services at Northwestern.”

Chick-fil-A Rep Ken Miller said the company is looking forward to the opportunity to be a part of such an exciting time for NSU and the Natchitoches community.

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Notice of Death – January 28, 2019

NATCHITOCHES PARISH:

Thomas “Tom” Erwin Foshee
January 1, 1948 – January 26, 2019
Visitation: Tuesday, January 29 from 5-8 pm at Blanchard St Denis Funeral Home in Natchitoches
Service: Wednesday, January 30 at 2 pm at Blanchard St Denis Funeral Home
Interment: Memory Lawn Cemetery

RAPIDES PARISH:

Barbara D Wildman
March 27, 1932 – January 26, 2019
Service: Sunday, February 3 at 2 pm in the chapel of John Kramer & Son Funeral Home

WINN PARISH:

Emma Jo Jenkins Carpenter
January 3, 1930 – January 27, 2019
Service: Thursday, January 31 at 11 am in the chapel of Southern Funeral Home of Winnfield

Chamber Announces New Events Coordinator

 

The Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce that Maggie Harris, former Director of Membership Experience, is returning to join the staff as the Events Coordinator. In her new role, Harris will be responsible for planning and marketing all events and meetings.

“I believe wholeheartedly in the mission of the Chamber, and in Laura Lyle’s vision for this organization. I am eager to begin helping to execute that mission and vision through coordinating a docket of valuable events,” says Harris.

“Maggie was a huge asset to the Chamber in her prior role, and we were ecstatic to welcome her back,” stated Laura Lyles, Chamber President. “The Chamber is an organization she knows and loves, and I’m excited to work with her to make our Chamber goals a reality.”

Harris is a graduate of Northwestern State University’s School of Business. She is involved with both Chamber and community organizations such as Natchitoches Young Professionals and the Kiwanis Club of Natchitoches. She is also a member of the Northwestern State University’s School of Business Executive Advisory Board.

The Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce helps foster a thriving community through transformative leadership, collaboration, and innovation. Learn more at natchitocheschamber.com.

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2019 Battle for the Paddle, Chili, Demon Basketball and Family Fun

By Kevin Shannahan

Kevin’s Gallery 

Northwestern State University’s Prather Coliseum was the place to be Jan. 26 as the NSU men’s and women’s basketball teams faced off against the Southeastern Louisiana University. The busy day featured basketball action, performing spirit groups, and a chili cookoff. The Lady Demons defeated the SLU Lions 58-47 in a hard fought, physical contest that kept the fans on their feet cheering. The Demon men fell to the Lions 69-53.

The Battle for the Paddle has become an eagerly awaited annual tradition in Natchitoches. The popular chili cookoff featured 10 teams this year, including several local businesses, the Natchitoches Police Department, community groups and The NSU football team’s offensive line. Hungry Demon fans thronged the hallways of Prather where they sampled the various teams’ chili and voted for their favorites. The event is a popular fundraiser for the Demons Unlimited Foundation. The Foundation assists the NSU Athletic Department in a number of ways, including financing athletic scholarships. This year’s competition was won by local author Harvis “Junior” Johnson, the NSU football team’s offensive line and City Bank also placing in the competition. The Natchitoches Parish Journal is donating the event’s photography. Copy protection is off and anyone may download any they wish. If you do see a photograph you like, please consider a donation to the Demons Unlimited Foundation. Let’s help a few young men and women get through college!

Winners:

Junior Johnson- Judge’s Choice

City Bank – People’s Choice Award

NSU Football O-Line – 2nd Runner Up
Maglieaux’s- 1st Runner Up

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Snow possible Monday night: Natchitoches under hazardous weather outlook

A Hazardous Weather Outlook was issued for portions of north central Louisiana and northwest

Louisiana, which includes Natchitoches Parish. The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development announces that personnel are prepared for the possibility of wintry precipitation moving into the north and central regions overnight on Monday, January 28.

Monday through Saturday:

Scattered showers will develop by mid to late afternoon Monday and become more numerous during the evening as they spread southeast, near and just behind an arctic cold front that will rapidly shift southeast through the region. Temperatures will fall quickly with the frontal passage Monday night, such that the rain will transition to a brief mixture of sleet and eventually over to snow across East Texas, North Louisiana, and Southwest Arkansas before ending just prior to daybreak Tuesday. Snowfall accumulations of an inch or less are possible late Monday evening through early Tuesday morning across mainly South central Arkansas and North central Louisiana. Patchy ice development is also possible as a result from any standing water on bridges, overpasses, and roadways, as temperatures fall below freezing. Any snow or patchy ice on roadways or elevated surfaces will melt by late morning Tuesday once temperatures climb back above freezing.

DOTD encourages motorists to use extra caution while driving during hazardous weather conditions, especially on bridges and overpasses, and to avoid driving if possible during a winter weather event.

District personnel will continue to monitor the forecast and make appropriate decisions to ensure the safety of the traveling public.

During winter weather conditions, motorists should adhere to the following driving safety tips:

• Drive slowly and carefully.
• Avoid driving while distracted.
• Always allow for extra driving time.
• Reduce speeds when visibility is low.
• Make sure there is plenty of room between vehicles.
• Be on the lookout for DOTD crews and their equipment.
• Remember that it’s unlawful and unsafe to drive around a road closed barricade for any reason.

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Magee’s owner welcomes Chick-fil-A to University Parkway corridor

A business owner on and around the University Parkway corridor for 60 plus years, George Celles III opened Magee’s Patio Cafe/Cotton Patch in 1999 when it was still called College Avenue.

With the opening of Chick-fil-A, George is excited to see the area development, and yes that includes more dining options. A rising tide floats all boats and George understands this.

“I’m glad Chick-fil-A is here and I welcome them to the University Parkway corridor. We could use two or three more restaurants as far as I’m concerned,” said George. “You can’t eat chicken, hamburgers or BBQ every day, so we need to develop more places with the attitude of complimenting each other, not competing against each other. If we do this we can truly become a destination and all benefit from its prosperity.”

George first came to Natchitoches in 1956 to attend Northwestern State University. The Coca-Cola bottling plant was located where City Bank sits today. Before it was Magee’s, George ran several restaurants on the lot: Burger Chef, Steaming Hot and The Varsity in later years.

Sibley’s Grocery was located down the street where the Texaco is and the Washeteria used to be known as the Demon Grill.

The problem has always been the University Parkway corridor was overlooked by residents, college students and tourists as a destination for dining and shopping. Motorists were more likely to use University Parkway as a corridor to the Hwy. 1 Bypass and in later years I-49.

Foot traffic continued to decrease in the 90s and 2000s as more and more students were driving cars instead of biking or walking. And as the layout of the university changed, George said he started to see a drop in the foot traffic from students.

East Natchitoches soon became the booming destination point as many businesses chose to open locations on South Drive.

George started to see the tide turn with the opening of Pizza Inn in the early 2000s (where Sonic sits today). Then Dickey’s BBQ came along in 2014. Business at Magee’s rose 10% after it opened. This was the turning point for the corridor and for George. He began to believe that he and other business owners could make University Parkway the destination point he knew it could be.

“You can’t find a more beautiful campus or town anywhere in the state,” he said. “There’s just so much potential here.”

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Area business owner receives Lifetime Achievement Award

CP-Tel Owner and CEO, Richard Gill received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Banquet.

This award identifies a leader whose long-term active engagement in the Natchitoches community has had a significant, positive economic impact locally. A Lifetime Achievement Award winner is a successful leader in a company, industry and in a community. Further, the Lifetime Award recognizes a true pillar who will teach future generations by example. This award recognizes contributions over the entirety of a career, rather than, or in addition to, a single contribution.

Growing from a small independent telephone company providing service to the communities of Pleasant Hill and Campti, CP-TEL has become a progressive independent telecommunications company employing approximately 40 full time staff delivering internet, long distance, cloud computing, and video services with state-of-the-art facilities.

CP-TEL has continued to grow its business by investing in the Natchitoches community and parish. Its newest offerings are IT services, providing cloud computing capabilities, managed services, hosted applications and security solutions for residential and business customers.

The company has grown its fiber network with fiber-optic network expansions and upgrades throughout the parish, as well as increasing our electronics capabilities to be able to offer customers fiber-optic connectivity with fast Ethernet speeds up 1G with no data sharing or throttling.

CP-TEL’s innovative and state-of-the art business practices include aggressive deployment of fiber to the premises for both residential and business customers, enabling the fastest and most reliable Internet speeds in the community. It supports its customers with 24/7/365 customer service and tech support and in ‘code red’ critical situations it dispatches personnel to address critical customer situations at all hours of the day.

CP-TEL believes in supporting the community. It continues to be a sponsor of the Jazz Fest, Christmas Festival, Relay for Life, Kiwanis and many other community organizations and events. It also proudly supports both the Athletic and Performing Arts departments at Northwestern State University, as well as the Natchitoches Parish School System.

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Election Commissioner’s Certification School of Instruction

New persons interested in becoming certified as election commissioners are encouraged to attend the Election Commissioner’s Certification School of Instruction Tuesday, Jan. 29 at 5:30 pm in the 2nd Floor Courtroom inside the Natchitoches Parish Courthouse.

QUALIFICATIONS:

You must be a qualified voter who does not require assistance in voting

You must NOT be a candidate in the election or am immediate family member of a candidate at the precinct in which you serve

You must not have been convicted of an election offense

You must attend a course of instruction for commissioners

By attending this school, you would be eligible to be selected to work at one of the election precincts on Election Day. Day is $200 per election.

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NSU gets sneak peek at Chick-fil-A

Northwestern State University President Dr. Chris Maggio, First Lady Jennifer Maggio, Student Government Association President Jacob Ellis and other guests got sneak peek inside the new Chick-fil-A at its soft opening Jan. 26. Chick-fil-A will hold a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday, Jan. 28 at 9 am at its location: 912 University Parkway.

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NATCHITOCHES BIKE/PED PLAN, BIKESHARE STUDY SEEKS COMMUNITY FEEDBACK

Natchitches— The Rapides Area Planning Commission and Bantam Strategy Group were hired several months ago to create a city-wide Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan and to study the feasibility and implementation of a bikeshare system serving Natchitoches and Northwestern University. Community feedback is imperative to this planning process and study so there are several ways to provide your input.

RAPC and Bantam Strategy Group are working through a process which includes several layers of quantitative and qualitative factors to determine the feasibility of a regional bikeshare system. Gathering input from local citizens is part of this effort. Citizens are encouraged to check out the interactive map at http://www.natchitochesbikeshare.com/community-input and place markers and notes regarding desired locations for potential bikeshare stations. They may also provide additional input using the online survey provided on the website.

Additionally, public outreach meetings will be held on Thursday, Jan. 31 at two locations.

Northwestern State University for students and faculty from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. in the Student Union Lobby
Public General Meeting for citizens of Natchitoches from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Natchitoches Municipal Building, 560 2nd St., Natchitoches, LA 71457

“The feedback from the residents of Natchitoches is an integral part of the bike/ped and bikeshare evaluation and we’d ideally like to capture voices from the citizens and students at-large,” said Lindsey G. West, President and CEO of Bantam Strategy Group. “Valuable input is collected using the interactive map, online survey and during the public meetings, the results of this information will be used and recorded in the final plans for this area.”

This study was made possible by a collaborative partnership between the City of Natchitoches, Northwestern State University, and Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD).

To learn more visit http://www.natchitochesbikeshare.com and follow the Natchitoches Bikeshare Facebook page @natchitochesbikeshare.

About RAPC:

The Rapides Area Planning Commission is a regional organization providing land use planning, development review, technical assistance, geographical information, and other planning and enforcement services for member governments as well as other partnered political subdivisions. RAPC is governed by a board of commissioners, which are appointed by the member jurisdictions. For more information, visit http://www.rapc.info.

About Bantam Strategy Group:

Bantam Strategy Group is the leading turn-key bikeshare consulting and implementation firm for small-medium size cities. Bantam currently consults or operates for 20+ communities and entities to make the bikeshare vision a reality, including several other Louisiana communities. Bantam has representing bikeshare on various national platforms and showcasing cycle-friendly communities. Bantam is a 100% women-owned business and headquartered in Baton Rouge, LA. For more information, visit http://www.bantamstrategygroup.com.

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Painting class to be held Feb. 2

Northwestern State University’s Office of Electronic and Continuing Education will offer a Pick Up Your Brush painting class on Saturday, Feb. 2 from 9 a.m. to noon on the second floor of South Hall.

In the class, participants will learn the art of painting using step-by-step instructions to create a masterpiece. No special or prior skills are required. Students will take home a completed painting at the end of every class. Children ages 7 – 12 years old are allowed to enroll, but a parent must accompany the child the entire class. The parent does not have to enroll unless they participate. All supplies are included. In the class, the students will paint lovebirds.

For more information on NSU non-credit programs, go to nsula.edu/ece/non-credit-programs/ or call (800) 376-2422 or (318) 357-6355. To register for classes, go to checkout.nsula.edu.

To learn more about NSU’s online non-credit courses visit gatlineducation.com/nsula or ed2go.com/nsu/.

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Indoor DigFest set for Feb. 9 in Prather Coliseum

NSU – Colder weather tends to set the stage for indoor competition.

As such, the annual Northwestern State Volleyball Indoor DigFest returns for its third year Feb. 9 inside the warm confines of Prather Coliseum.

The 4-on-4 tournament follows the same setup as the annual spring and fall DigFests. Teams may be composed of up to six people and one female player must be on the court at all times.

Registration for the event, which includes a chance to meet the NSU volleyball players, prizes, food and music, is open through Feb. 8, the day before the event.

The entry fee is $100 per team or $125 if you would like to add a Northwestern State player to your team. Proceeds from the event aid the NSU volleyball summer scholarship fund, team travel, locker room renovation and other program projects.

Registration is available at http://www.nsudemons.com/indoordigfest.

For more information, contact assistant coach Stacey DiFrancesco by phone at (832) 797-6855 or by email at sdifran3@gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services

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