Magnolia Minute:  Halie Errington – St. Mary’s

Watch today’s Magnolia Minute:  Halie Errington – St. Mary’s


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The Magnolia Minute
Natchitoches Parish Journal
318-354-4000 #6


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Notice of Death – January 24, 2019



Bobby Ray Shoemaker
May 4, 1941 – January 23, 2019
Service: Friday, January 25 at 2 pm at Hickory Grove Congregational Methodist Church in Robeline
Interment: Lambert Town Cemetery in Shamrock

Eugene Brown
March 3, 1933 – January 23, 2019
Visitation: Friday, January 25 after 4 pm at Galbraith Church of God in Marco
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

Trial date set for tragic baby burning case: Smith pleads not guilty

By Edwin Crayton


It’s a case that has put Natchitoches in the news from Miami to London, but not in the usual good way the town attracts national or international notice. This much darker news involves the burning murder of an infant on July 17, 2018. On Thursday, January 24, 2019, trial dates were set in an arraignment presided over by Judge Desiree Dyess. The case is State of Louisiana versus Felicia Nicole Smith. Ms Smith, age 26, is fighting a murder charge that alleges she burned to death, a seven-month old baby, Levi Cole Ellerbe. The child’s mother Hannah Nicole Barker,( then age 22) has also been arrested and indicted in connection with the crime. At the arraignment, Ms. Smith pled not guilty. The trial has been set for March, 2020, some fourteen months away. There will be another judicial procedure in April of 2019, but details could not be learned and confirmed by press time and information will be possibly be hard to attain as the court has sealed records relating to this case.

Judge Dyess read the charges which allege that on the night of July 17, 2018, Smith took the baby from Barker’s home in Mayberry Trailer Park. It is also alleged she then took him to Myrtle Street and in an area outside, poured gasoline on him, set him on fire and left him there and went to work. The child was burned on 90% of his body. Despite efforts of emergency personnel and hospital staff and no doubt, prayers of many, the child died the next day, on July 18, 2018. The highly emotional story has attracted wide regional, national and international news media. It was even reported in the Daily Mail, a British Newspaper.


The District Attorney for the 10th Judicial Court, Natchitoches, Louisiana (petitioner) prays that the defendant, MOZELLA JEANETTER BELL, be duly cited and served with a copy of this petition; and that:

1. A hearing be held not more than twenty (20) days from the service on the
defendant herein;

2. That after due proceedings be had there be Judgment herein declaring defendant, MOZELLA JEANETTER BELL, disqualified from holding the office of Mayor of the Town of Campti;

3. That the Office of Mayor of the Town of Campti, which is currently held by the defendant, MOZELLA JEANETTER BELL, be declared vacant;

4. There be judgment herein ordering that the vacancy be filled in accordance with provisions of Louisiana Revised Statute and the Lawrason Act;

5. That there be judgment assessing all cost and fees associated with these proceedings against the defendant, MOZELLA JEANETTER BELL; and,

6. That defendant be ordered to answer the attached Interrogatories and Request for Production within a shorten period of time to be fixed for the Court.


Superintendent speaks out regarding alleged threat at NSU Middle Lab

The NPJ received a copy of a letter issued by the principal of NSU Middle Lab regarding an incident that occurred on Jan. 17 (SEE DOCUMENT BELOW). Some parents were upset that they had to hear about the incident on the street first, and that the letter was so vague in its explanation. They were also upset that the letter was issued (Jan. 23) so long after the incident occurred (Jan. 17).

The NPJ began looking into it and learned that the alleged incident was an alleged threat made by a student to shoot up the school. Superintendent Dale Skinner said a student made a statement, but it couldn’t be interpreted as a bonafide threat. The principal followed policy and interviewed several students and notified the School Board’s Child Welfare and Attendance employee. No students made a statement regarding a threat being issued.

The school handled the whole situation in-house. Skinner found out about the incident on Jan. 23 and school board members started hearing about in on Jan. 24.

Nothing regarding the incident was reported to the NSU Police Department or the Sheriff’s Office. The School Resource Officer in charge of monitoring Middle Lab was informed this week when parents began to complain about the vague letter they received from the school.

The child was suspended for three days and is set to return to school on Jan. 25.

“No one said ‘I’ll shoot up the school.’ Actions will be taken to keep our students safe,” said Skinner. “If anyone makes a threat of that nature, kidding or not, we’re going to take appropriate action. We do everything in our power to make sure our students are safe. If anyone thinks they have information or proof I ask that they bring it directly to me.”

Rotary Club learns about SWAT, clocks

Two presentations were given to Rotary Club of Natchitoches members at the Jan. 22 meeting. The first featured Deputy Garrett Murchison with the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team and Corporal Trent Perritt, Natchitoches Police Department SWAT Team Leader. Rotary Club of Natchitoches is sponsoring Bulletproof the Blue, so the SWAT Team can purchase much-needed updated equipment. The second presentation was about clock-making and clock-cleaning presented by Ron Mayfield. The inner workings of clocks were shown and discussed. Pictured from left are Murchison, Perritt, President-elect Josh Axsom, and Mayfield (Photo by Dr. Ron McBride).

Gateway Brass to perform at NSU on Jan. 31

Gateway Brass, the brass ensemble from the United States Air Force Band of the West, will perform at Northwestern State University on Thursday, Jan. 31 at 7:30 p.m. in Magale Recital Hall. Admission is free and open to the public.

Gateway Brass is a brass quintet with percussion which showcases military professionalism at Department of Defense ceremonies and concerts throughout the Gulf Coast region on behalf of the Air Force. The virtuoso group of active duty airman musicians performs a range of musical styles spanning five decades.

The ensemble is a component of the USAF Band of the West located at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, where Air Education & Training Command conducts basic military training for over 30,000 young men and women each year. Because all enlisted airmen must first pass through JBSA-Lackland, it is known as “The Gateway to the Air Force,” which became the inspiration for the group’s name.

Louisiana Association of Nurse Anesthetists CRNA Week

For patients undergoing surgery, having a baby, or needing emergency treatment following a traumatic incident, odds are the hands-on anesthesia care essential to their comfort and safety will be provided by a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). In recognition of the 20th annual National CRNA Week Jan. 20-26, 2019, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) and the Louisiana Association of Nurse Anesthetists (LANA) want to let anesthesia patients in on a few lesser known facts about the 53,000 nurse anesthetists who safely deliver more than 45 million anesthetics to patients each year in the United States.

History: Nurse anesthetists have been providing anesthesia care to patients in the United States for more than 150 years. The first anesthesia provided by nurses was on the battlefields of the American Civil War. During WWI, nurse anesthetists became the predominant providers of anesthesia care to wounded soldiers on the front lines; today, CRNAs continue to be the primary providers of anesthesia care to U.S. military personnel on front lines, navy ships, and aircraft evacuation teams around the globe.

Access to Care: CRNAs practice in every setting in which anesthesia is delivered—traditional hospital surgical suites and obstetrical delivery rooms; critical access hospitals; ambulatory surgical centers; the offices of dentists, podiatrists, ophthalmologists, plastic surgeons, and pain management specialists; and U.S. military, Public Health Services, and Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare facilities. They are the primary providers of anesthesia care in rural America, enabling healthcare facilities in these medically underserved areas to offer obstetrical, surgical, pain management and trauma stabilization services. In some states, CRNAs are the sole providers in nearly 100 percent of the rural hospitals.

Anesthesia Safety: According to a 1999 report from the Institute of Medicine (now the National Academy of Medicine), anesthesia care is nearly 50 times safer than it was in the early 1980s. Numerous outcomes studies have demonstrated that there is no difference in the quality of care provided by CRNAs and anesthesiologists.

Cost-Efficiency: The cost-efficiency of CRNAs helps control escalating healthcare costs. A landmark 2016 study published in Nursing Economic$ shows that a CRNA working as the sole anesthesia provider is at least 25 percent more cost-effective than any anesthesia delivery model involving an anesthesiologist.

Education: The minimum education and experience required to become a CRNA equals 7-8 ½ years resulting in a master’s or doctoral degree. Graduates of nurse anesthesia educational programs attain an average of 9,369 hours of clinical experience. There are currently 121 accredited nurse anesthesia educational programs in the United States and Puerto Rico. While a minimum of one year of acute-care nursing experience is required to enter a nurse anesthesia educational program, the average amount of experience prior to entry is 2.9 years.

Locally here in Natchitoches, your anesthesia needs are met by a full-time staff of 3 CRNAs who have a combined 45 years of clinical-anesthesia experience. Natchitoches Anesthesia Associates, LLC is the sole anesthesia provider at Natchitoches Regional Medical Center. NRMC has been an all-CRNA facility for over 35 years, back when former Mayor Wayne McCullen was at the helm of the anesthesia group.

The managing partners of NAA are David O’Con, CRNA and Katrina O’Con, CRNA. They along with Paul Errington, CRNA, provide anesthesia coverage 24-hours a day, 365 days a year to surgical and obstetrical patients, and have been doing so for almost 13 years. This CRNA group provides anesthesia for all types of surgery and has developed a state of the art pain management program for acute surgical pain in addition to an enhanced recovery protocol for surgery patients in an attempt to decrease the amounts of opioids patients receive during and after their surgical experience.

NRMC has the distinction of having the only all-CRNA, all-doctorate prepared full-time staff in the state of Louisiana.

For more information about anesthesia, or becoming a CRNA, the public is invited to an information session featuring Dr. Katrina O’Con, CRNA, APRN on Monday, January 18, 2019, at Fournet Hall on the NSU Campus, located at 334 Caspari Street, Room 113 at 4:30 pm.

Library Encourages Patrons’ Giving

During the months of November and December, the Natchitoches Parish Library (NPL) offered its “Fine ForGIVING” program for the first time.The NPL waived most types of fines from patron accounts to honor the patrons that gave so much back to the community.Donations of all sorts were accepted for distribution: canned goods, dog and cat food, toys, coats, costumes, and even blood. Donated items were then distributed with partner organizationswithin the parish.

“If you missed this opportunity and have fines on your account, don’t let that stop you from using the library,” says Jessica McGrath, NPL Director. “Lots of our services and all of our programming can still be accessed, and as long as your fines total less than $5, you can still check out materials!”

For more information regarding NPL programming and services, you may contact Alan Niette, Community Outreach Coordinator, at or 318-238-9236.

Is Natchitoches Really the Oldest Settlement in Louisiana?

By Joe Darby

Is Natchitoches, in fact, the oldest continual settlement in Louisiana — indeed in all of the Louisiana Purchase, as we have heard for so many years?

Maybe it is. And maybe it isn’t. It probably all depends on how one takes the meaning of “oldest continual settlement.”

This question has arisen because of a new book, “Bayou St. John, 1708-2018: Gateway to New Orleans,” by the late Mary Louise Christovich and others, produced by the Louisiana Landmarks Society and published by the UL Press at ULL.

As we all know, Natchitoches was founded by Louis Juchereau de St. Denis in 1714, four years before New Orleans was laid out in 1718. This new book documents the fact that in the spring of 1708, Bienville handed out several land grants along Bayou St. John to some Canadian friends.

Bayou St. John is in the Mid City area of New Orleans and runs from Lake Pontchartrain, alongside City Park and ends a little south of Esplanade Avenue. It provided a crucial shortcut from the earlier French settlements around Biloxi and Mobile to the site where Bienville would lay out New Orleans, today’s French Quarter. Rather than trying to work their way up past the powerful Mississippi River currents in their sailing ships, the French could just cut through Lakes Borgne and Pontchartrain, enter Bayou St. John and then end up very near the Mississippi River.

Bienville wanted the future New Orleans to be located where it is and he obviously felt that populating the short cut of Bayou St. John would help lead to that end result.

Today, the bayou is the site of many beautiful old homes, dating back to the late 18th century and which are illustrated in this handsome new book. The book itself does not specifically lay a claim to Bayou St. John being the oldest settlement in Louisiana, taking the place of Natchitoches as the senior settlement.

But the facts of the land grants do raise the question. Interestingly, one of the recipients of a Bayou St. John land grant in 1708 was none other than our very own St. Denis, who was a nephew by marriage to Iberville, Bienville’s older brother. It sometimes seems that St. Denis was everywhere during the first years of Louisiana’s founding.

Anyway, the book goes on to say — and this is crucial, perhaps — that all of the original land grantees had moved on by 1718 and that one man had bought them all out. “Between 1718 and 1721, Antoine Rivard Lavigne had acquired all land granted within the initial concessions…”

Dr. Susan Dollar, a professor of history at NSU and a specialist in Louisiana history, questions whether Lavigne’s sole ownership of the bayou-side land constitutes a true continuing occupation of that area. “Would you call one landowner a settlement?” she asked.

She told me that she feels Natchitoches’ claim to being the oldest continuous settlement is still solid because, beginning in 1714, Natchitoches became a true settlement, being home to a number of men, with the early fort and other structures being built here.

Dr. Dollar did find the revelations in the book interesting, however. “It looks like Bienville was taking care to set up his Canadian friends with the land grants,” she said. “I’d never seen (the land grant documents) but I’m glad to see that scholarship is continuing in that area of studies.”

In any case, nothing can take away Natchitoches’ fascinating early history and the impact that this old town has had on our whole region. It will continue to be recognized, no doubt, as the oldest settlement. The Chamber of Commerce and the Tourist Commission are not about to start claiming to be the “second-oldest settlement.”

And just as surely, history, a most fascinating topic to me and many others, will continue to challenge our thoughts and beliefs with new discoveries and revelations as scholars continue to pore over ancient documents.

NSU faculty to present recital Jan. 31

Chialing Hsieh Paul Christopher

Cellist Paul Christopher and pianist Chialing Hsieh will present a recital on Thursday, Jan. 31 at 6 p.m. at the Louisiana School for Math Science and the Arts Recital Hall. Admission is free and open to the public.

Christopher and Hsieh are members of the faculty at Northwestern State University. They will perform works by Jacques Ibert, Mark Prince Lee and Beethoven.

Christopher is an associate professor of music theory and low strings. He has appeared as a soloist with orchestras in Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas and Panama. Christopher performed guest artist recitals in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Tennessee and Texas. He has been a guest artist internationally in Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama and South Korea. Christopher has presented and performed at conferences in Alabama, Louisiana, New Mexico, North Carolina and Ohio. His articles have been published in the Jacques Offenbach Society Newsletter, Strings, American String Teacher and Bass World. He has recorded the cello duos of Offenbach with seven CDs available at

An avid performer of contemporary music, Hsieh is devoted to promoting new piano solo and chamber works. Hsieh has been a featured pianist on seven CDs for the Centaur, Innova, Enharmonic and Ballpark labels. She joined NSU’s faculty in 2019 as an assistant professor of collaborative piano. In the summer, she is the piano instructor at the Lutheran Summer Music Festival and Academy and the Sounds of Summer Institute. Hsieh earned her bachelor’s degree from the National Taipei University of the Arts and a master’s and doctorate in piano performance at the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music.

KKPsi, TBS support alumna whose home burned

Northwestern State University’s chapters of Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma raised funds and supplies to come to the aid of an alumna whose home burned. Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma are honorary service organizations whose purposes include serving college and university band programs. On Jan. 7, Yasmine Jason and her husband lost their home and belongings in a fire. Jason was a member of Tau Beta Sigma and president of the Eta Pi chapter for two years. Members of Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma presented Jason with a check for $1,600, along with blankets, towels and clothing. From left are Dean L. Mayeaux, Kappa Kappa Psi President Kyle Siddle, Nick Ezernack, Jason, Tau Beta Sigma President Ciara Gibbs and Corbin Fontenot.

Nominations open for 2019 Hall of Distinguished Educator

Northwestern State University’s Gallaspy College of Education and Human Development Alumni Advisory Board is seeking nominations for the Hall of Distinguished Educators for 2019.

Nominees must have earned an undergraduate, graduate or doctoral degree from an NSU teacher preparation program, have at least 30 years experience and must have made significant contributions to the field of education and/or the larger community at a local, state, national or international level. Nominees can be living or deceased.

Nominations are also open for Distinguished Young Professional in Education, an award that recognizes an outstanding young professional who has made contributions in Pre-K through higher education or to the profession of education through teaching, research or community service. Nominees must be 40 years old or younger, have at least 10 years of meritorious service to education and gained prominence in some areas of teaching, administrative achievement, contributions to research, leadership in professional associations, contributions to professional literature and outstanding community service. Nominees should be of high moral character whose contributions have most fully expressed the spirit of service the award represents.

Inductees will be honored during a brunch and induction ceremony at the Teacher Education Center during Homecoming festivities.

The deadline to submit nominations is July 26.

Anyone who would like to nominate an outstanding College of Education alumnus who has had a distinguished career in education should send the nominee’s resume and other documentation outlining the reason for the nomination to NSU Gallaspy College of Education and Human Development, Northwestern State University, Natchitoches, LA 71497.

Nomination forms and additional information are available by calling (318) 357-6278.

NSU’s Owens wins second competition in four months

Emily Owens, a graduate student in music performance at Northwestern State University, was the winner in the Young Artist Division of the Rapides Concerto Competition held this past weekend. Owens, a violinist, will perform with the Rapides Symphony on March 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center in Alexandria.

Owens won the competition performing the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s “Violin Concerto.”

“I was surprised when they announced that I had won,” said Owens, who is from Benton. “I heard a lot of the other competitors and they all sounded amazing. I am beyond grateful and so excited to play with the Rapides Symphony.”

Owens won the violin competition at the Louisiana Music Teachers National Association competition last October. She was a finalist in the 2013 Rapides Symphony Orchestra Concerto competition.

“I’ve played in a few competitions recently and having competitions scheduled really motivates me to push toward that end goal,” said Owens. “When the hard work leads to a win, it’s such a rewarding feeling.”

Owens is a student of Northwestern State Professor of Violin Dr. Andrej Kurti.

“I’m really thankful for my teacher, Dr. Andrej Kurti for being my teacher and mentor,” she said. “He really has been a great inspiration to me and has been so supportive.”

Job Opening: Clayton Homes of Natchitoches – Home Consultant

Clayton Homes of Natchitoches is looking for a Full-Time Home Consultant.

We will have an open job fair on Saturday, Jan. 26 starting at 10 am and going until the last person is interviewed.

Starting pay is $24,000 salary plus your commissions!!!  We offer paid time off and great benefits.   Also offered are all expense paid trips for top preforming home consultants. This includes you and a guest!! Some previous trips have been cruises, trips to Hawaii, Cabo, Curacao, Bahamas, etc. Must be willing to work Saturdays.

Bring in your resume and get interviewed on the spot!   Open interviews will require you to have a resume with you.

No appointments needed.

Clayton Homes of Natchitoches
5879 LA-1, Natchitoches, LA 71457

NSU’s Chick-fil-A opening Monday

The much-anticipated Chick-fil-A Express on University Parkway will hold an official grand opening at 9 a.m. Monday, Jan. 28. Students and administrators from Northwestern State University, Sodexo and the Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce will be on hand for a ribbon-cutting. The public and media are invited to attend.

The new restaurant is located at 912 University Parkway adjacent to the renovated campus NSU Marketplace bookstore that opened last fall and across the street from NSU’s Eugene P. Watson Memorial Library.

“The Chick-fil-A restaurant has received a lot of attention over the past few months and we are very excited to bring a new dining option to our NSU students and to the community,” said Drake Owens, executive director of the NSU Foundation, which owns the building where the Chick-fil-A Express is located.

Restaurant hours will be 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays. Students will be able to use their declining balance at Chick-fil-A.

The Chick-fil-A Express will offer a variety of breakfast and lunch items, chicken sandwiches, nuggets, sides and much more.