McCutcheon Honors Recital to be presented Jan. 29

The Mrs. H.D. Dear Sr. and Alice E. Dear School of Creative and Performing Arts at Northwestern State University will present the annual McCutcheon Honors Recital on Tuesday, Jan. 29 at 7:30 p.m. in Magale Recital Hall. Admission is free and open to the public. A reception will follow the recital.

Each year student winners are chosen from each musical area for the most outstanding undergraduate fall jury performance. These students represent the following areas: woodwinds, brass, strings, piano, percussion and voice.

This year’s performers include: Jorge Ojeda Munoz, clarinet, Ramon Barralaga, piano, Adam Trupp, percussion, Alejandro Restrepo, cello, Justin Garretson, tuba and Michael Martin, voice.

The recital was established to honor Jim McCutcheon, a retired band teacher, who was active in instrument repair at NSU. McCutcheon wanted to do something to recognize outstanding student performance at Northwestern State and began offering a financial prize to those students selected to perform in the recital. After his death, his wife, Jo Lapeyrouse, chose to continue this tradition and has funded a scholarship in his name.

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Jumps and sprints on display at Pittsburg State Invitational

PITTSBURG, Kansas – Northwestern State got wins from long jumper LaRon James, Tremayne Flagler in the 60 meter hurdles and Lady Demon star sprinter Natashia Jackson, making her 2019 debut in the 400 meter dash, Saturday at the Pittsburg State Invitational indoor track and field meet.

Recording seven podium appearances and 16 top five finishes, NSU athletes lined up against 1,200 competitors from 40 schools over four collegiate divisions.

Highlighting the Demons in the field events was the win by James, a senior transfer who upped his season best by half a foot to 24-7 ¾, claiming gold for the first time this season while beating out 37 others.

Flagler continued his successful indoor season with a time of 7.97. The Atlanta native won the event for a second straight week after topping everyone at the OU Sooner challenge last Saturday.

The Lady Demons’ Jackson, early in her junior season, had an outstanding day, beating out 49 runners with a 55.11 clocking to claim victory in her first appearance in the 400 this season.

Jackson was part of the second-place 4×100 relay team alongside Diana Granados, Kimani Evans, and Kori Levingston in 3:47.98.

Evans posted a pair of third-place dash finishes in the 60 (7.60) and the 200 (24.80).

The young duo of Reagan Darbonne and Annemarie Broussard continued their impressive start to the indoor season in the pole vault. Darbonne’s second-place 12-11 ¾ mark gives her the school’s top-two vault performances ever after breaking her own record earlier this year. Broussard, in only three meets out of high school, catapulted herself to a height of 12-4, good for third in school history and fourth in the meet.

Outdoor All-America sprinter Micah Larkins snagged a couple of fourth places in the 60 (6.69) and 200 (21.45).

Cody Robinson represented the distance group well with a fourth-place 9:02.00 time in the section one finals for the men’s 3,000.

Fifth place finishes for NSU came from Lady Demons Ariel Watson (triple jump, 38-11 ¾) and Jayla Fields (200, 25.00).

Up next is the first of two trips to Baton Rouge. NSU competes at the LSU Bayou Bengal meet next Friday and the LSU Twilight meet on Feb. 15. In between is a trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas for the UA Tyson Invitational on Feb. 8th.

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Notice of Death – January 27, 2019


Tom E Foshee
Visitation: Tuesday, January 29 from 5-8 pm at Blanchard St Denis Funeral Home in Natchitoches
Service: Wednesday, January 30 at 2 pmat Blanchard St Denis Funeral Home
Interment: Memory Lawn Cemetery

Jo Evelyn Dison Honeycutt
Visitation: Monday, January 28 from 9:30-11 am at the First United Methodist Church of Natchitoches
Service: Monday, January 28 at 11 am at the First United Methodist Church of Natchitoches Oak Grove Methodist Cemetery in Natchitoches


Alvin Robert Michiels
October 29, 1940 – January 26, 2019
Service: Monday, January 28 at 10 am at St. Rita Catholic Church
Interment: Alexandria Memorial Gardens


Raymond Griffin Jr.
December 19, 1939 – January 24, 2019
Service: Monday at 11:30 am at Forest Lawn Cemetery

Longtime NSU team doctor Chris Rich to be laid to rest Saturday

Dr. Chris Rich was relentlessly dedicated to assuring top-quality care for injured student-athletes at Northwestern State and throughout central Louisiana.

Saturday in his adopted hometown of Alexandria, the man who served NSU Athletics for well over two decades will be laid to rest after a courageous fight with liver cancer.

Visitation is 10 a.m. until the 1 p.m. funeral at Calvary Baptist Church on Jackson Street, under the direction of John Kramer & Son Funeral Home.

Dr. Rich, 62, passed away at home last Saturday surrounded by his family: his wife Vickie, their three children, Jeffrey, Margaret and Stacie, and more loved ones.

He served as NSU’s director of sports medicine and head team physician from 1990-2010, and remained involved in sports medicine care for Northwestern athletes for several more years.

Last October, he was presented the Distinguished Service Award from NSU Athletics at the annual N-Club Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and though physically diminished by his illness, delivered a heartfelt set of remarks about his service to NSU and his profession.

“Number one is our priority, from my perspective, was always to be an advocate for the athlete. We did our work and had a huge group of consulting physicians. It was an enjoyable time for me.

“We had some remarkable results, a 99 percent return rate to sport (competition) for athletes we did surgery on. We did everything we could to facilitate improving sports medicine care,” he said.

Dr. Rich formed a close bond with NSU head athletic trainer Ed Evans, and the two worked shoulder-to-shoulder for 22 years.

“The rewarding part, across the board, are the relationships you build with players and coaches, and working with the athletic training staff,” said Dr. Rich. “My good friend Ed Evans, who became a fixture here, all the way through his student athletic trainers here as undergrads, we were able to instill a philosophy that they were here for the athletes and nothing else.

“Ed and I immediately discussed philosophies, and I knew where he stood from the get-go. From the outset, we made a good team. I considered him my mentor, I considered him my peer. He taught me as much about collegiate athletics as any of my training. Our relationship has been as rewarding a thing as I can think of.”

Evans retired in 2012 and his assistant, Jason Drury, was promoted to replace him. Drury initially settled in Natchitoches working for Mid-State Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Center, the Alexandria-based sports medicine firm Dr. Rich developed to serve central Louisiana.

“Dr. Rich and Ed gave me such great guidance. Working for Dr. Rich was a wonderful experience. He made sure you understood the best interests of the athlete always came first and foremost. I was lucky to have him as one of my mentors,” said Drury.

Rich, a native of San Antonio, was a three-year football letterman as an offensive lineman at LSU from 1976-78, part of the Tigers’ fabled “Root Hogs” group that helped College Football Hall of Fame running back Charles Alexander set numerous school and Southeastern Conference records. Rich was a two-time Academic All-SEC selection in 1977-78.

From 1988-2011, Dr. Rich was managing partner of Mid-State Orthopaedic. In 1990, he became NSU Athletics’ Director of Sports Medicine and Head Team Physician, a role he handled through 2010.

More recently, he served in a voluntary consulting role with NSU team physicians, the sports medicine staff and the Demons’ athletic administration, monitoring medical and health-related issues which have become impactful in intercollegiate athletics.

Dr. Rich also played a key role in promoting best practices and evidence-based medicine, as well as stewardship of financial resources related to medical care for NSU Athletics.

Under his leadership, Mid-State Orthopaedic launched an annual program providing physical exams for area high school football teams. Last year, Mid-State renamed the event in his honor as “Chris Rich High School Physical Day.”

“That’s a big part of his legacy. Dr. Rich was determined to assure that every high school football team in central Louisiana could get the proper preseason screening for its athletes,” said Drury.

His practice specialized in sports medicine, arthroscopy of the knee and shoulder, and knee reconstruction. During his tenure as the chief physician for NSU Athletics, over 500 student-athletes sustained an injury requiring surgery, with an incredible rate of return to competition of 99 percent.

During his career with Mid-State, the firm was twice (2004, 2007) designated as the top firm in Louisiana for orthopaedics by HealthGrades, the “Healthcare Quality Experts.”

Dr. Rich was inducted in the Louisiana Athletic Trainers Hall of Fame in 2005, and in 2013 received the Outstanding Leadership Award from the Louisiana Orthopaedic Association.

The family requests that memorial gifts be made to the Christopher Rich Scholar Athlete Foundation in care of Red River Bank, Attention: Ann B. Silver, 1412 Centre Court Drive, Suite 101, Alexandria, LA 71301. Online condolences can be made through the website.

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Strong work highlights opening day of practice for Demons


Groundhog Day does not come for another eight days, but it arrived – in a sense – for the Northwestern State baseball team Friday.

The Demons held their first full-squad workout of the spring, three weeks ahead of the Feb. 15 season opener at Houston. Northwestern State opened its preseason preparation with an eight-inning intrasquad scrimmage on a cloudless day at Brown-Stroud Field.

The workout came after a couple of weeks of individual workouts that began when the team reported back to campus for the Jan. 14 start of the spring semester.

“We try so hard to make it be Groundhog Day,” third-year head coach Bobby Barbier said with a laugh. “We try so hard make the work from the first two weeks of school carry over, because that’s how the season goes. You have to be a consistent team, and you can’t be a consistent team without having consistent practice.”

Eight pitchers worked two innings apiece, tossing about 30 pitches each. Senior outfielder J.P. Lagreco connected on a home run late in the scrimmage, highlighting a good day of work from the Demons’ hitters.

“Our at-bats were further along than I thought we would be,” Barbier said. “They were mature at-bats. That’s something this team can have. We have some mature hitters, some mature guys on the mound. Today was a product of them being mature and taking care of their business outside of this week in their individual work.”

Maturity should not be an issue with a roster stacked with 14 seniors. That, coupled with a strong finish that carried Northwestern State to its first Southland Conference Tournament title in May, isn’t a guarantee for success in 2019.

“Just because you’re old doesn’t mean you’re good,” Barbier said. “It almost can go the opposite for you sometimes. Older guys who have done a lot, they forget what it took to get them here – the work it took to get to that point. This group has done a good job of that and sticking to the work. That’s what we talk about, the work is what matters.”

The Demons return to practice at 11 a.m. Saturday before their second intrasquad scrimmage of the spring early Saturday afternoon.

Photo Credit: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services

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Commissioner of Higher Education visits NSU


Dr. Kim Hunter Reed, Commissioner of Higher Education for the state of Louisiana, visited Northwestern State University Friday for briefings with administrators, tours of facilities and to meet with students where she encouraged dialogue about their challenges and triumphs navigating university life. Other guests included Marty Chabert, a member of the Louisiana Board of Regents, and Lola Dunahoe and Joe Salter, members of the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors. Reed was named the state higher education chief in April 2018. The commissioner and the Board of Regents oversee boards that run the LSU, Southern, University of Louisiana and Louisiana Community and Technical College systems.

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Sports Hall of Fame unveils Special Exhibit from National WWII Museum


Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser and the Louisiana State Museum will unveil a new special exhibition at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum on Feb. 1 called The Pelican State Goes to War: Louisiana in World War II. Produced by The National WWII Museum, the exhibition will feature artifacts, photographs and oral histories that highlight Louisiana’s extraordinary contribution to America’s war efforts during World War II. The exhibition opens with a reception from 5 – 8 p.m. on Friday, February 1, and a special performance by the Victory Belles. The public is invited to this free opening event.

“Louisiana, played a pivotal role in World War II, especially in the early stages of the war before the Pearl Harbor attack,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. “President Eisenhower and General Patton met at the Hotel Bentley in Alexandria, LA, to plan the Fort Polk training exercises, called the Louisiana Maneuvers, and the Higgins boats that were used in the D-Day invasion were built in New Orleans. Our state played a tremendous role, and we are excited to partner with The National WWII Museum for this exhibit.”

“Nearly 280,000 citizens of Louisiana contributed to victory in World War II on the battlefield,” said Stephen J. Watson, President & CEO of The National WWII Museum. “The Pelican State Goes to War shares the courageous stories of these individuals, along with those who contributed here on the Louisiana Home Front – from the great mobilization efforts of Higgins Industries, to first grader Billy Michal’s scrap collection for school. We’re thrilled to have this exhibit on display at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame & Northwest Louisiana History Museum, so we can share these special stories with expanded audiences in Natchitoches and beyond.”

On December 8, 1941, just one day after the Pearl Harbor attacks, the United States officially entered World War II; Louisiana, however, was already front and center in the country’s defense preparations. From 1940 to 1945, the state hosted the largest maneuvers in U.S. military history, witnessed massive changes to its industrial base, and saw its citizens become enthusiastic contributors to what President Franklin Delano Roosevelt deemed “The Arsenal of Democracy.

“World War II provided new, previously unimaginable opportunities to Louisiana’s residents,” said the exhibit’s curator, James Linn. “This exhibit will highlight the heroic stories of people like Claire Chennault, who created an early warning system to help protect China’s air force against Japanese attacks; and Richard English, who served in the African American 761st Tank Battalion and later became an advocate for civil rights. These unique wartime experiences, which were born in Louisiana, also helped lay the groundwork for sweeping economic changes in the postwar world.”

During World War II, many citizens of Louisiana contributed to victory on the battlefield with nearly 280,000 individuals from the state serving in the armed forces. The Pelican State Goes to War will share the courageous stories of Louisiana’s six Medal of Honor recipients, which represent sacrifice and devotion. The exhibition will also explore tales from Louisiana’s home front, ranging from the great mobilization efforts of Higgins Industries to first grader Billy Michal’s efforts to collect scrap metal for his school.

“The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum is a great arena in which all manner of great accomplishments by residents of our state are celebrated,” said Steven Maklansky, Interim Director of the Louisiana State Museum. “The Pelican State Goes to War documents how many great Louisianans were part of the greatest generation and the winning team of the greatest conflict of the 20th century.”

The Pelican State Goes to War will be on display through March 15, 2019, in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum located at 800 Front Street, Natchitoches, LA.

The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame celebrates Louisiana athletes, coaches and sports stars in a dazzling museum complex, while the Northwest Louisiana History Museum brings 3,000 years of history forward to the unique cultural traditions that survive and thrive in the region today. Admission to the museum is $5 for adults, $4 for students, seniors and active military, and free for children 6 and under. More information about the museum can be found

The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world and considers why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today so that future generations will know the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America’s National WWII Museum, it celebrates the American spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifices of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and served on the home front. The 2017 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice™ awards ranks the museum No. 2 in the world and No. 2 in the nation. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-528-1944 or

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Vintage clothing exhibit celebrates local families, book by NSU author

As part of the Northwestern State University’s School of Creative and Performing Arts’ 30th anniversary, the Orville Hanchey Art Gallery will present an exhibit of vintage garments from the book, “Forties and Fifties Fashion for the Stage” by Jessica Parr, professor costume design.

A reception and book signing will be held from 4-6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1 in the Gallery. The exhibition will continue through Feb. 22.

Parr was inspired to write the book by two generous vintage clothing donations from the Hogg and Luster families. The collection of Becky Bill Page Luster spans the 1940s and 1950s while the collection of Thelma Louise Firestone Hogg includes garments from the 50s through the 70s.

“Each of these collections is a treasure in fabric,” Parr said. “From the moment these collections hit the costume shop, I knew they contained a book waiting to be written. It is rare to receive such large and complete donations from these eras especially from a single individual. Each of these family matriarchs dressed to the nines; their style and flare can be seen throughout the exhibit.”

Parr noted it was difficult to choose which garments to include in the book.

“Each is beautiful and uniquely detailed.”

Many garments were made by Thelma Louise Firestone Hogg’s mother, a talented Atlanta dressmaker. Many of these dresses continue to be worn by family and friends for special occasions. Great granddaughter Sophia Hogg will wear one such gown for the reception.

In addition to charming dresses, the exhibit features hats on loan from the Hogg and Luster family’s private collections.

Parr’s research for “Forties and Fifties Fashion for the Stage” lead her to the University’s yearbook, The Potpourri. Many of The Potpourri’s photographs are displayed in the exhibit and throughout the book. Each of these photographs depicts real people wearing real outfits to real events. Parr was excited to find so much valuable research from a local source.

“It’s a costume historian’s dream. It was fascinating to see how Northwestern embraced the war effort in the 40s and blossomed in the 50s as the GI Bill enabled veterans to attend college.”

This exhibit coincides with the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame & Northwest Louisiana History Museum’s exhibit on Louisiana’s role in World War II – The Pelican State Goes to War. History buffs can enjoy both receptions February 1 at 4 p.m. at the Hanchey Gallery and the Sports Hall of Fame from 5-8 p.m.

Orville Hanchey Gallery hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 9 a.m.-noon Friday. For more information, contact Parr at

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Library Celebrates 80 Years with Local Student Contest


As part of the Natchitoches Parish Library’s (NPL) 80th anniversary celebration during 2019, we are holding an Art & Poetry Contest for students in grades K-12. Winning pieces will be featured in the Reading Trail at Pierson and Mallett Park (behind the Fire Station on E. 5th in Natchitoches). The Reading Trail is a joint effort of the NPL, City of Natchitoches, and Cane River National Heritage Area.

Students choosing to enter have a choice of topic for their artwork and poem from one of the following Louisiana state symbols: green tree frog, brown pelican, crawfish, gumbo, Catahoula leopard dog, beignet, milk, magnolia, strawberry, honeybee, Louisiana black bear, Natchitoches meat pie, Cajun accordion, alligator, fleur de lis, bald cypress, sweet potato, Louisiana iris, or pirogue. After choosing a topic, students will write a poem focusing on that state symbol. Then, a visual art piece must be created, such as a drawing, painting, or a photo, to go along with their poem and topic. Both pieces can then be submitted to the NPL digitally at, or in person or mailed to the NPL at 450 Second St., Natchitoches, LA. The deadline for a complete submission (must include both a poem and artwork) is May 31, 2019.

“Our goal is to make this an annual contest,” says Jessica McGrath, NPL Director, “so that local students might be featured in the Reading Trail each year!”

Original items or files may be requested for printing purposes. All submissions must include the artists full name, a parent or guardian’s name, and contact information.

If you have any questions, about this or any other NPL activities, you may call (318-357-3280) or message the NPL on its Facebook page (Natchitoches Parish Library).

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Notice of Death – January 25, 2019


Edna LeMay Rhymes
Visitation: Saturday, January 28 from 5-8 pm at Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home
Service: Sunday, January 26 at 2:30 pm at Creston Baptist Church
Internment: Goldonna Cemetery in Goldonna

Jo Evelyn Dison Honeycutt
Visitation: Monday, January 28 from 9:30-11 am at the First United Methodist Church of Natchitoches
Service: Monday, January 28 at 11 am at the First United Methodist Church of Natchitoches Oak Grove Methodist Cemetery in Natchitoches

Eugene Brown
March 3, 1933 – January 23, 2019
Service: Saturday, January 26 at 1 pm, at Galbraith Church of God
Interment: Oak Grove Baptist Church Cemetery in Bentley

Sherice Robinson
January 20, 2019
Arrangements TBA


Tammi L. Henderson Howell
Visitation: Saturday, January 26 from 5-8 pm at Winnfield Assembly of God
Service: Sunday, January 27 at 3 pm at North Hodge Assembly of God on Sunday, January 27 at 3pm

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District Attorney Billy Joe Harrington announced today the guilty plea of Ebone Shirley Wilson to the charge of vehicular homicide. Wilson, 37, of Clarence, pleaded guilty just prior to jury selection for trial in the November 2016 vehicular homicide of Derrick Williams. The death was the result of an automobile crash on Hwy 6 in Natchitoches in which Wilson was intoxicated while driving and stuck Williams’ vehicle head-on.
As part of the guilty plea, Wilson was sentenced to 18 years of imprisonment at hard labor.

10th Judicial District Court Judge Desiree Dyess presided over the case.
Assistant District Attorneys Amanda McClung and Cloyd Benjamin Jr. prosecuted the case.

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Chamber celebrates 100 years, recognizes businesses at Awards banquet

The Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated excellence in business within the Natchitoches community and its own 100th Anniversary at the Awards Banquet Jan. 24.

“One-hundred years in business is no small feat,” said Chamber President Laura Lyles. “And it’s because of invaluable members like all of you here tonight that our Chamber is able to celebrate another year.”

After recognizing dignitaries and banquet sponsors, Laura recognized the real VIPs of the evening: the Chamber Ambassadors, which included Barbara Leach, JoAnna Washington, Michele Waskom, Micah Fishee, Sarah Stewart, Felicia Murphy, Liz LaBorde, Rebecca Salter, Kim Gallow, Luke Lucky, Kelvin Porter, Candice JeanSonne, Emily Breedlove, Heather Montoya, and Jacob Murchison. Ambassadors not present were Blaise Lacour, Melissa Tucker, Brooke Latham, Trudy Williamson, and Lance Nelson.

Laura also announced that a familiar face will return to the Chamber: Maggie Harris will rejoin the Chamber staff next month as Event Coordinator.

Incoming Chairman of the Chamber Board of Directors John Richmond presented outgoing Chairman Ryan Todtenbier with a plaque recognizing the tremendous effort he put into his tenure. Ryan also handed the gavel to John after a quick rap on the podium and well wishes.

“Natchitoches is poised to do some amazing things in the next 5, 10, and 15 years,” said John. “As the Chamber, we want to take advantage of the momentum we’ve built in 2018 with the A+ Coalition and the NYP and really go wild with it.”

Ryan said he is extremely proud of the work the Chamber did in his year as Chairman. “We were able to introduce some new programs that were very successful,” he said.

John then announced an exciting initiative the Chamber will introduce in 2019 called the Natchitoches Leadership Institute (NaLI for short). This institute will work on the local level to bring together a diverse group of Natchitoches Parish leaders over the course of the year to learn all about the Parish, the good, the bad and the ugly, in eight broad categories that are specific to Natchitoches. With that information, each cohort of graduates will discuss and act on ways to advance the Parish forward. In the coming year, the Chamber will finalize the details of the program and recruit its first class in the fall.

“We think this will be a game changer for the underlying dynamics of our Parish,” said John.

The 2019 Board of Directors includes: Chairman John Richmond, Post-Chair Ryan Todtenbier, Vice-Chair Tom Matuschka, Treasurer Josh Manuel, Katrice Below, Melissa Collier, Haley Taitano, Nicole Ezernack, Van Erikson, JoAnna Washington, Brad McCormick, Mario Fox, Stewart Carnline, and NYP Chairman Sean Baylor.

The Chamber presented NYP’s 4 Under 40 Awards to the following:

Micah Foshee- Marketing Assistant at BOM
Rodrick McIntosh- CEO of Rhodes Realty
Randee Knapp- Human Resources Department at Natchitoches Regional Medical Center
Ryan Todtenbier- Partner at Thomas, Cunningham, Broadway and Todtenbier CPAs

The following Chamber Awards were presented:

Ambassador of the Year: Barbara Leach
Lifetime Achievement: Richard Gill
Town Favorite: BOM
Non-Profit of the Year: Outpatient Medical Center
New Business of the Year: Rhodes Realty
Small Business of the Year: Northwestern Louisiana Cancer Center
Mid-Size Business of the Year: Ivan Smith Furniture & Appliances
Large Business of the Year: Southern Scripts


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Recital and Master Class – More Opportunities for NSU Music Students

By Kevin Shannahan

University of Arkansas Professor of Horn Dr. Tim Thompson presented a guest concert of the French horn at NSU’s Magale Recital Hall Wednesday, Jan 23rd. An audience of over 50 community members, faculty and students listened to Dr. Thompson play a variety of pieces and explain their background. Dr. Thompson also conducted a masterclass for NSU horn students on Thursday, Jan 23rd. The class featured expert instruction and a chance for the students to learn advanced topics from a well known musician.

Recitals and a chance to meet, and learn from, experts in their fields are an integral part of the musical education experience at NSU’s School of Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA). As a regional university, NSU’s mission is to take the students of our predominately rural area, educate them, show them what is possible and equip them to take advantage of opportunities they did not know existed. NSU’s CAPA is fulfilling that mission superbly.

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Ponderings with Doug – January 25, 2019

I love driving on I-49. I enjoy the scenery that is not obstructed by billboards trying to sell me something. On any given day, you can watch a helicopter lifting something, a crop duster dusting, crops growing, pipes being hauled, and you can wave at your favorite Desoto Parish law enforcement officer.

The other day I saw a chair in the median of I-49. It was a nice leather chair at one time.
The bottom cushion was about five miles north of the rest of the chair. The rest of the chair looked like it had been struck by a 1995 Peterbuilt hauling at least three long green pipes. There was not much left of the main part of the chair. It appeared as though the cushion did escape the vehicle first and was saved from total destruction.

The chair in the median reminded me of something I once did. Our daughter who lived in Baton Rouge needed a recliner. We were living in Lake Charles and owned an extra Lazy-Z-Boy recliner. It was a very nice overstuffed recliner that was rather formal looking. It had only been used by a preacher holding his remote control. The chair had never endured cigarette smoke, beer spillage, or dog shedding. The only problem with the chair was it ate a remote control occasionally.

We decided to give the chair to our daughter who needed a chair. I remember the Friday. I loaded the chair on the back of our Ford Ranger and grabbed the passenger seat. Tamara, my wife, asked if we needed to tie the chair down. Since aviation is my hobby, I explained the basics of aerodynamic lift to her. I told her that the chair had the gliding angle of a brick, and since it was close to the cab, it would not get airborne. You see it coming don’t you?

Well, some place on I-10 between 68 and 72 m.p.h. the chair reached a velocity that allowed to become airborne momentarily. We are not sure where or when the chair departed. I remember Tamara looking in the rearview mirror and being able to see the cars behind us because the chair had departed the truck. We had a moment, of wondering if we should go back and claim the recliner, probably sitting in the middle of the road. If our recliner had caused traffic mayhem, we were not sure we wanted to find it. It had not!!

We never found the recliner! It flew away, freed to be found by someone who looks for recliners on the side of the Interstate. Now when I haul it is always tied down, even bricks!

I’m glad God loves preachers who don’t tie down recliners! He loves you as well.

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United Way NWLA Establishes Fund Workers Impacted by Shutdown

Shreveport – United Way of Northwest Louisiana (UWNWLA) in partnership with SWEPCO announced today that it has established base funding for the United for NWLA Fund to benefit local federal workers, contractors and others who may be impacted by the ongoing government shutdown.

The initial fund of $5,000 established by UWNWLA and SWEPCO will be managed by Salvation Army to provide assistance for utility help. UWNWLA will serve as the underwriter for these funds. Furloughed federal workers will be required to provide proof of employment with each request for help.

As UWNWLA secures more funding, furloughed federal workers may also receive help with immediate needs such as food, medication and gas cards. UWNWLA is calling on corporate partners, local businesses and individual donors to help by contributing to this fund.

“United Way exists to help those in crises and crisis is what we are seeing across our Northwest Louisiana communities right now,” said Bruce Willson, President and CEO of United Way of Northwest Louisiana. “There are thousands of local federal workers with immediate needs who are struggling and we are working to leverage our partnerships to provide relief.”

UWNWLA also has a free 24/7 help line, 2-1-1, which serves as a central hub for local and government resources. By dialing 2-1-1, anyone can be connected to a trained, live operator who will direct calls to assistance. Individuals in need or who are looking for information for someone else can call 2-1-1 from a cell phone or landline. United Way supports and provides 2-1-1 services in most communities across the U.S.

The United for NWLA Fund is a local extension of the United for U.S. Fund established by United Way Worldwide, launched this month to bring together corporate partners, organized labor, the United Way network and other nonprofits to assist furloughed federal workers. Since the government shutdown on Dec. 22, United Way has received an increasing number of inquiries from members of the public, nonprofits and other companies eager to help.

With a network covering 94 percent of communities across the U.S., United Way is well-positioned to marshal and mobilize resources to reach those who are in crisis due to the shutdown and get them the help they need with basic needs.

Those who would like to donate are encouraged to visit

To receive utility help, call Salvation Army at (318) 424-3200 ext. 11

FAQs United for NWLA Fund

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NSU, NRMC agreement supports funding for nursing faculty

Northwestern State University, Natchitoches Regional Medical Center and the NRMC Foundation formalized a memorandum of understanding that will fund a faculty position in NSU’s College of Nursing for five years. Administrators say the venture will help NRMC recruit and employ NSU nursing graduates within their service area and meet nursing shortage demands.

“Funding a professorship leads to our mission of healthcare. We consider NSU a partner and we look at this as an investment – not an expense – but an investment in our community,” said Kirk Soileau, NRMC chief executive officer.

“We are blessed to be able to do this,” said Sidney Evans, president of the NRMC Foundation. “Our donors make it possible to impact our community through attendance at Foundation events, donations and support.”

Northwestern State’s nursing degree was the first baccalaureate program in Louisiana and is consistently ranked as one of the best in the country with a 100 percent pass rate on the NCLEX, the national licensure examination that each state board uses to determine whether a candidate is prepared for entry-level nursing practice. In addition to its nursing campus in Shreveport, NSU offers clinicals in Natchitoches, Alexandria and Leesville.

“We have the best nursing school in the state and our faculty is nationally recognized,” said NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio. “There is a need for nurses and, through our partnerships, we have been able to expand and make our programs even more robust. We appreciate Natchitoches Regional Medical Center and the NRMC Foundation for stepping forward in enhancing our university and our community.”

Dr. Dana Clawson, dean of NSU’s College of Nursing and School of Allied Health, said that not only are NSU nursing graduates prepared academically, they are also trained to interact with patients and families in a caring and compassionate manner and are required to develop teambuilding and mentoring skills before they graduate.

“Since our university is no longer primarily state-funded, we are supported by our community partnerships which are essential to make growth possible,” Clawson said.

The NRMC Foundation was established in 1987 to support the hospital’s mission of providing a continuum of care from newborns to centennials. Since its inception, the NRMC Foundation has provided over $400,000 in financial assistance to students in the fields of nursing, radiology, laboratory sciences and pharmacology who have returned to work in the health care field at NRMC.

Last year, NRMC’s nurses achieved the prestigious Pathway to Excellence designation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. NRMC was one of 162 organizations nationwide and one of two in Louisiana to earn the designation, which recognizes healthcare organizations that demonstrate the essential elements of an ideal nursing practice environment.

“The heart of the Foundation is to address the nursing shortage,” said Tom Matuschka, NRMC’s vice president of business development and philanthropy. “This partnership will help us hire excellent nurses, meet the needs we have and support our Pathway to Excellence designation.”

In 2018, NRMC was ranked 49th nationally on the Top 100 SafeCare Hospitals list for its efforts in outcome, quality, safety and resource utilization. Only about 2 percent of all U.S. hospitals earn the distinction with the top 50 representing the top 1 percent in performance.

“At the end of the day, we provide amazing care, but what makes the difference is the personal relationships we have with patients and their families” Soileau said.

“From the CNO [Chief Nursing Officer] perspective, it’s all about the patient connection,” said Julie Klymas, NRMC’s vice president of clinical services and chief nursing executive. “At the core you have to have a passion for the sick.”

NSU’s College of Nursing and School of Allied Health offers degree programs in nursing and radiologic science at the associate, bachelor’s master’s and doctoral levels, as well as post-baccalaureate and post-master’s certificate programs. NSU has agreements in place with other institutions around the state that allow for credit transfers and is developing more programs to facilitate career mobility for healthcare professionals and those seeking a career in healthcare, Clawson said.

More information about NSU’s College of Nursing and School of Allied Health is available at Information on Natchitoches Regional Medical Center is available at

Pictured: Northwestern State University and Natchitoches Regional Medical Center signed an agreement in which the NRMC Foundation will fund a nursing faculty position for the next five years. Seated from left are Dr. Dana Clawson, dean of NSU’s College of Nursing and School of Allied Health; NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio, NRMC Chief Executive Officer Kirk Soileau and Sidney Evans, president of the NRMC Foundation. Standing are Julie Klymas, vice president of clinical services/CNE at NRMC; Drake Owens, executive director of the NSU Foundation, Tom Matuschka, vice president of business development and philanthropy at NRMC, and NSU Development Officer Jill Bankston, CFRE.

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Natchitoches Tourism represented at LTA Annual Meeting

Rebecca Blankenbaker, Executive Director of the Cane River National Heritage Area; Heather Lockwood and Anne Cummins, travel counselors at the Natchitoches Convention & Visitors Bureau; Lauryn Sharplin, owner/operator with Sharpco Hotels Group; Jan Frederick, Natchitoches CVB Board member; Kelli West, Natchitoches CVB Director of Marketing & Communications; Candice JeanSonne, General Manager of the Best Western of Natchitoches; and Jill Leo, Director of Festivals and Events at the Natchitoches Historic District Business Association attended the Louisiana Travel Association Annual Meeting in Alexandria on Thursday, Jan. 24. Sharplin and Leo were announced as members of the 2019 class of the Louisiana Tourism Leadership Academy.

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