Farm Bureau: Meet Alex Rodriguez

Hi, I’m Alex Rodriguez and I am the newest agent at Farm Bureau Insurance in Natchitoches. Just so you know a little bit about me, I ride road bikes, mountain bikes, BMX bikes and pretty much all bikes. I love working out, but I also love the food around here. Health and fitness has been a passion of mine for the past 6 years and it will always have a place in my life. I love the outdoors from the woods to the beach to the mountains. I have been blessed to travel all around the world, and more blessed to return, to this great country, safely. A lot of people I talk to think that I smile too much, but I’ve got a lot to smile about. I have an amazing and beautiful girlfriend, Eden Price, who is a fantastic history teacher at Natchitoches Central. I grew up in a family of 11 here in Natchitoches, and family is everything to me. I do not yet have children of my own, but when you are the oldest of 9, there is still responsibility. I am proud of my younger siblings and excited to see them grow up. I’m proud of my parents too. Both of my parents and my Dad’s mother are doctors in town, and they taught me the importance of community, service and hard work. It is my goal, working with Farm Bureau, to provide for my family and give others the ability to provide for their families even in their darkest times.

I graduated from Northwestern State University in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. NSU gave me some of the best years of my life and I will always support my university. I am currently working toward my Master’s degree in Health Promotion. I got to work at Brookshire’s as a 16 year old and I have not quit working jobs around town since then. I’ve mowed grass, put out water slides, read water meters, tutored and taught classes at NSU, planned events with the City of Natchitoches and a lot more. My favorite part of all of these jobs was helping people. I see anyone I am helping as friends and family more than customers. This job is a perfect fit for me and I am so blessed to be given the opportunity. Many people are not certain of their coverages until it is too late and I have seen this too many times with my friends and family. That is enough about me, I’d love a chance to meet you!

I am thrilled to work with the amazing staff here in the Natchitoches office! Lance Lopez, Abe Ackel, Kyndal Harrell and Donald Brown are all great agents and role models for me to learn from. I am beyond ready to serve this fantastic community through Farm Bureau.

After reviewing Video Evidence, Judge denies Temporary Relief – Videos Attached

The hearing was called to order by Judge Bruce Bolin, Judge ad hoc, appointed by the Louisiana Supreme Court. The hearing on August 13, 2019 was scheduled pursuant to the request for temporary restraining order and permanent injunction filed by local resident and taxpayer, Alan McMurtry, who filed suit against the Natchitoches Parish Government and Rick Nowlin as the president of the Natchitoches Parish Government.

McMurtry alleged in his Petition that Rick Nowlin as Parish President, had violated the Home Rule Charter and local ordinances passed by the Parish Council by declaring “emergencies” and circumventing the Parish Council regarding budgetary matters.

Judge Bolin, after considering the pleadings that were filed into evidence as well as exhibits filed into evidence by counsel for Alan McMurtry, Geoff Westmoreland, and counsel for the Natchitoches Parish Government, Steve Mansour, denied Mr. McMurtry’s request for a temporary restraining order as of the hearing date, but held open the option for the court to issue a TRO or injunction at a later date, if necessary.  Judge Bolin indicated that the matter would be set for trial at some point soon in the future on the permanent injunction issue. The trial date has not been scheduled at this time.

McMurtry presented evidence that included his pleadings, ordinances of the Natchitoches Parish Government which limit the Parish President’s authority to spend funds, and two (2) Emergency Declarations by Rick Nowlin as Parish President, declaring emergencies on the 25th day of March 2019, and on the 29th day of May 2019, together with five videos from the June Parish Council meeting.

Judge Bolin viewed the video evidence presented by counsel for McMurtry that documented public comments made by both President Rick Nowlin and Director of Public Works, John Richmond, admitting that there were no “emergency” conditions that led to one or both of the emergency declarations. One of the videos presented to the Court documents the admissions of Nowlin and Richmond that no emergencies existed. (The videos introduced into evidence are attached for the public to view).

McMurtry, through his counsel, argued that the Parish President had violated the Home Rule Charter and Ordinances adopted by the Parish Council which limit the capability of the Natchitoches Parish President and imposes spending restrictions on line-item budgetary matters. McMurtry requested that the court enter a restraining order to stop the practice of the Parish President acting through “Emergency” Orders, which are alleged to violate the Home Rule Charter. The parties stipulated that the emergency orders on their face had expired and that the expenditures under said emergency declarations had been exhausted.

The court, after considering the pleadings and exhibits, denied the request for temporary relief but did not dismiss the lawsuit and ordered the matter fixed for trial on the merits.

Council Member Doug de Graffenried to John Richmond

Council Member Doug de Graffenried to Rick Nowlin

Council Member Doug de Graffenried to ADA Steve Mansour

Council Member Russel Rachal to John Richmond

John Richmond speaks about the non-emergency

NOTE: The Video clips shown above were obtain by a written request to the McMurtry attorney. 


UL System launches Compete LA to re-engage adult learners

University of Louisiana System President and CEO Jim Henderson announced the launch of Compete LA, a program designed to re-engage the 653,000 Louisianians with some college credit but no degree. Henderson, former president of Northwestern State University, introduced the program during the monthly meeting of the Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce Wednesday.

“For Louisiana to be competitive in the economy of the future, we have to develop a more educated workforce,” Henderson said. “Compete LA is designed to cut through the red tape of returning to school and provide supports at every step of the student’s educational journey.”

The program features adult-friendly degree paths throughout the System’s nine member institutions. Each Compete LA student is matched with a free coach to assist in identifying the best path to degree completion, re-enrollment, and academic success.

“Louisianians can compete at the highest levels provided they have the educational foundation to adapt in this new technology-driven reality,” Henderson said. “The future of work offers boundless opportunities for the prepared, and Compete LA is a platform to assist our citizens in reaching their full potential.”

Northwestern State University is featuring 11 degree programs in Compete LA. Areas of study include accounting, addiction studies, allied health, business administration, computer information sciences, criminal justice, general studies, nursing, psychology and unified public safety administration.

“NSU offers a ‘fast track’ curriculum with eight- and 16-week courses,” said Dr. Darlene Williams, NSU’s vice president for Technology, Innovation and Economic Development. “This a great opportunity for students who are trying to complete degrees while working full time. NSU accepts credits from any other regionally accredited university, and students can also take advantage of prior learning assessment determined to be college level learning.”

“Northwestern State University has more than two decades of experience offering online programs,” said NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio. “Our dedicated team is focused on ways to enhance adult learning opportunities for the citizens of our state through quality academic programs and support services.”

The System has received more than 400 program applications through a three-month soft launch. Additionally, the System is reaching out to its own former students and has engaged more than 400 who have more than 120 course credits. The typical undergraduate degree only requires 124 credits for completion.


Natchitoches Parish DA elected as member of LDAA Board of Directors

The Louisiana District Attorneys Association announced that District Attorney Billy Joe Harrington has been elected as a member of the LDAA Board of Directors. As a board member, Harrington will work with LDAA President District Attorney John Belton, along with other board members to provide insight and direction on issues, legislation, and policy affecting criminal justice in Louisiana.

“I am honored to be elected to the Board of Directors. I look forward to working with my fellow district attorneys and staff to continue being an advocate for the pursuit of appropriate and fair justice for all in Louisiana,” said Harrington.

Also elected were:

President – John F. Belton, District Attorney (3rd JD)

First Vice President – Martin (Bo) Bofill Duhe’, District Attorney (16th JD)

Second Vice President – Kurt Wall, Assistant District Attorney (21st JD)

Immediate Past President – Charles J. Ballay, District Attorney (25th JD)

NDAA State Director – Bradley (Brad) R. Burget, District Attorney (7th JD)

Past President Member – Charles (Charlie) A. Riddle III, District Attorney (12th JD)

Board Member – Robert (Steve) S. Tew, District Attorney (4th JD)

Board Member – James (Jim) E. Paxton, District Attorney (6th JD)

Board Member – Norma DuBois, Assistant District Attorney (24th JD)

Board Member – Jason Dagate, Assistant District Attorney (32nd JD)

Board Member – Perry M. Nicosia, District Attorney (34th JD)

Board Member – James (Jimmy) R. Lestage, District Attorney (36th JD)

Board Member – Julie C. Jones, District Attorney (39th JD)

Board Member – Bridget A. Dinvaut, District Attorney (40th JD)

Board Member – Glenn Bourgeois, District Attorney Investigator (32nd JD)

The new officers begin their terms on August 15, 2019.

The Association is composed of District Attorneys, Assistant District Attorneys, District Attorney Investigators, and their staff in the State of Louisiana. It provides training and legal services across the State. The Association also develops and promotes legislation to strengthen the justice system. Its members are available for testimony before legislative committees. The association also focuses on public safety, crime victims’ assistance, promoting highway safety, child support enforcement, pre-trial diversion, domestic violence prevention, and juvenile justice initiatives.


St. Mary’s Principal visits with Rotary Club

St. Mary’s Principal Andrea Harrell was the guest speaker at the August 13 Rotary Club of Natchitoches meeting. She shared her educational background, the history of St. Mary’s and the school’s present-day educational and athletic activities.

Pictured from left are Rotarian with the Program Frank Fuller, Harrell, and Rotary President David Guillet (Photo by Dr. Ron McBride).


This Heat Wave is a Beast

By Joe Darby

Man. This heat! I don’t know where to begin.

You turn on your cold water faucet and the water comes out hot. Not warm, but hot. Who wants to brush their teeth in hot water.

You go outside in the afternoon and it’s like stepping into a sauna. I know people use that cliché a lot, but this time it’s really true. Just terribly uncomfortable outdoors.

Your car’s been sitting in the sun. You open the car door and the hot air comes blasting out. It feels like you’re standing in front of a furnace. You should hold the door open and wait a few seconds before getting in.

Then once you’re in the car you can hardly touch the steering wheel or gearshift knob without getting a second-degree burn. For the first block or so, you have to steer with your fingertips, just lightly touching the wheel.

At home, you open the back door fairly late at night to let the dog out and it’s still stifling out there. We were coming back from eating out last weekend, at 9 p.m. The time and temperature sign at the hospital said 92 degrees. At 9 p.m.! And that was pretty accurate because my car’s thermometer measured the outdoor heat at 93 at that time.

You don’t even think about cutting the grass until the sun is well down on the horizon and you’ll be somewhat protected by shadows from the houses and the trees.

The Shreveport TV weathermen are broadcasting that we’re in a Weather Red Alert because of the heat. That means that staying out in the sun or being in an un-airconditioned place is a hazard to your health.

The weathermen also tell us that in Natchitoches last weekend, the “feel-like” temperature, or heat index, was 107. And that’s in the shade. Add a bunch of degrees for standing in the sun.

I know that recent summers in this area have been terribly hot and that a year or two ago we had like 20 straight days of 100 plus degree temperatures. But this current heat wave seems, to me, just about the most uncomfortable heat I’ve ever experienced.

Maybe it’s because I’m getting old and my old frame just can’t take the heat like it used to. If I was a car, I’d say maybe my radiator is not working well, or my thermostat is on the blink. Something’s out of whack.

I’ve been in a hotter clime, but still never felt this uncomfortable. Years ago I accompanied an Air Force Reserve fighter squadron from New Orleans to Nellis Air Force Base, just outside of Las Vegas. The unit was there for combat competition against other similar Air Force squadrons.

My photographer and I were put up at a hotel in Vegas, on the strip. It was our first time there, so in addition to spending time out at the base to get our story, in our spare moments we walked up and down the strip, gawking like the tourists that we were. It wasn’t long before we noticed the heat. I believe the temp was something like 112 degrees. It was a dry heat, with very little or no humidity. But it was till darned hot.

However, as I’ve said, the desert heat was not as oppressive as this current heat wave we’re having now. So I’m staying inside as much as I can, thanking heavens that my air conditioner is working just fine. (Gosh, I hope I don’t jinx it by writing this!)

By the time you read this, it may have rained and reduced the temps somewhat. But in the meantime, all I can say is, be cool, my friends.


Season Ticket Pickup Party set for Thursday; Super 1 Fan Day to follow Friday

The out-of-town portion of the 2019 Northwestern State Victory Tour ended in late July, but there remains one stop along the annual season preview caravan.

Thursday night’s annual Football Season Ticket Pickup Party will double as the 10th and final stop along the Victory Tour.

The event begins at 6 p.m. in the Stroud Room in the NSU Athletics Fieldhouse. There will be hamburgers, hot dogs, bratwurst and drinks provided before second-year head coach Brad Laird addresses the crowd at approximately 6:45 p.m. Attendees are welcome to stay and watch the Demons go through their second night-time workout of fall camp, which is scheduled to begin at approximately 7:15.

The ticket pickup party starts a busy couple of days for Demons fans as Friday will be Super 1 Foods Fan Day. Northwestern State athletics personnel, cheerleaders and members of the Purple Pizazz Pom Line will be at both Natchitoches Super 1 locations handing out posters, schedule cards and more NSU giveaways from 3-7 p.m.

There will be $5 tickets for the Demons’ Sept. 7 home opener against Midwestern State as well as discounted season-ticket packages on sale at 5696 Hwy. 1 Bypass and at 318 Dixie Plaza. Additionally, those who show up wearing purple will be entered to win a free mini NSU football helmet.

Parents also will be able to sign up their children for Vic’s Kids Club for the 2019-2020 athletic year. The cost is $30 and Kids Club members are granted free admission to all Northwestern State athletic events throughout the year.

For more information on either event, call Mike Jacklich at 318-357-4268.


Outstanding faculty recognized for Excellence in Teaching

Outstanding faculty from each college at Northwestern State University were recognized with Excellence in Teaching Awards during the school’s annual Fall Faculty Institute. From left are Dr. Keith Dromm, professor of philosophy and Study Away director in the Louisiana Scholars’ College; Dr. Melissa Aldredge, instructor in the College of Business and Technology; Dr. Malena McLaren, associate professor and coordinator of the Music Department in the College of Arts and Sciences; Dr. Michelle Fazio Brunson, professor of early childhood education in the Gallaspy Family College of Education and Human Development, and Patty Akins, assistant professor in the College of Nursing and School of Allied Health. They were congratulated by Dr. Greg Handel, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs.


NSU Soccer: Northwestern State’s depth, competitiveness shining in camp

With a week of camp under their belt and preparing for Saturday’s exhibition contest against Little Rock, the depth of the Northwestern State soccer team and the competitiveness have once again been emphasized by the coaches.

“We’re going to have some good depth,” co-head coach Jess Jobe said. “We can only start 11, but we’ll have some players who will be good options to come right in and make a difference off the bench. We’re seeing excitement and competitiveness and a lot of good battles out there. It’s been overwhelmingly positive right now.”

Northwestern State is one of the youngest teams in the country, having only five juniors and seniors combined. Half the team is new and 13 of the 14 newcomers are freshmen, and have battled for spots in the regular rotation, if not be a starter.

Mixing in the new players in addition to the nine returning sophomores will be key. One of those sophomores is forward Jalen Donaldson, and she is the leading returning goal scorer (along with Kylee Dominy and Norma Trejo). She has been impressed with how the freshmen have stepped up as well.

“A lot of freshmen have stepped up and carved a role on the team,” Donaldson said. “I know (freshman forward) Jayme Haynes has been scoring a lot of goals in practice, so she’s been stepping up. (Freshman midfielder) Olivia Mattsson in the middle has created a lot of opportunities for everyone.”

Mattsson is one of those freshman, and as a recruit from Finland, she has been able to find her way early on in the United States. She came in prepared, as she played professionally overseas, and has been a name to watch in camp.

“I think it has been a new experience for sure, and many new things to adjust to, but I think I have come in and been prepared,” Mattsson said.

Jobe is excited for the season and has liked what he has seen so far in camp.

“I am very pleased with what we’re seeing. Jobe said. “I think we’re seeing a group that is more competitive than last year. From top to bottom, I think we do a great job of getting after it every day in practice.

“We’re demanding a lot of them and asking a lot of them, but they’re rising to that challenge on a consistent basis, so we’re very pleased with that. We have a lot of competition at a lot of spots.”

The exhibition is Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Lady Demon Soccer Complex. The regular season gets underway Aug. 22 when the Lady Demons travel to Denton, Texas, to take on North Texas. They return home Sept. 1 following three road matches to begin the season, as NSU takes on Louisiana Tech.

Following the exhibition against Little Rock, there will be a free soccer kid’s clinic. Boys and girls ages 4-12 can learn from the Lady Demons. It will last about 45 minutes, and while the event is free, donations will be accepted.

Admission for all fans is free to the game thanks to the sponsorship of the Louisiana Army National Guard.

Pictured above: Sophomore forward Jalen Donaldson is one of the leading returning point scorers for the Lady Demons, and she leads them into action on Saturday against Little Rock in an exhibition

Photo Credit: Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services


Holli’ Conway to make Broadway debut in October

Holli´ Conway, Miss Louisiana 2018, will make her Broadway debut this fall in “Tina – The Tina Turner Musical” set to open in the Lunt Fontanne Theatre. Conway is listed in the cast list as an Ikette and member of the ensemble. She said it’s going to be a great musical.

“Who didn’t look up to Tina Turner?” she laughed, talking about singing along with her songs in the mirror.

Conway, a 2016 magna cum laude graduate of Northwestern State University, ended her reign as Miss Louisiana in June. She used her time holding the title to inspire others and said before that she didn’t think her goals were big enough when she first won the crown. Broadway has always been her dream. Conway majored in theater with an emphasis on musical theater at Northwestern State and previously acted as a playlist production vocalist for Carnival cruise lines. On the ship, she said, they played “Proud Mary” a lot and did lip sync battles among the employees.

Conway, who won the talent preliminary and was second runner-up in Miss America 2018, came home to Louisiana and started the audition process. She submitted a tape for the role last November and didn’t hear anything until May 12 when she got the call that she needed to continue the audition process. The cast list was announced in July.

Conway will be on stage with Tony-nominated Adrienne Warren playing Tina Turner. Daniel J. Watts is cast as Ike Turner.

Conway made the move to New York City and started costume fittings soon after she was cast.

The first preview will be Oct. 12. Opening night is set for Nov. 7.


Notice of Death – August 14, 2019

NATCHITOCHES PARISH:

Karl Sowell- “Chicken Bone” Helaire
November 1, 1949 – August 13, 2019
Arrangements TBA

Jessie Jefferson
August 13, 2019
Arrangements TBA

RAPIDES PARISH:

Fusako Kimura Dill
July 28, 1926 – August 10, 2019
Service: Saturday, August 17 at 1pm at John Kramer & Son Funeral Home
Interment: Greenwood Memorial Park

Wendy Antee James
February 27, 1953 – August 12, 2019
Visitation: Friday, August 16 from 10 am – 6 pm at Kramer of Colfax

Flora Mae Dyess Barnett
January 20, 1927 – August 9, 2019
Service: Saturday, August 17 at 11 am at Kramer Funeral Home

RED RIVER PARISH:

Catherine Thompson Hanna Cates
October 13, 1928 – August 13, 2019
Visitation: Friday, August 16 from 1-2 pm at the First United Methodist Church in Coushatta
Service: Friday, August 16 at 2 at the First United Methodist Church in Coushatta

SABINE PARISH:

George Truette Alford
October 11, 1940 – August 13, 2019
Service: Thursday, August 15 at 10 am at Warren Meadows Funeral Home Chapel
Interment: Antioch Cemetery

Evelyn M. Hopkins
January 10, 1945 – August 9, 2019
Visitation: Friday, August 16 at 5 pm at Warren Meadows Funeral Home in Many
Service: Saturday, August 17 at 10 am at St. Joseph Catholic Church
Interment: Oak Hill Cemetery

Robert Larry Salter
April 18, 1943 – August 10, 2019
Visitation: Saturday, August 17 at 1 pm at Warren Meadows Funeral Home in Many
Service: Saturday, August 17 at 3 pm at Warren Meadows Funeral Home Chapel
Interment: Zion Hill Cemetery

WINN PARISH:

James Elliot Love
March 03, 1937 – August 12, 2019
Service:Thursday, August 15 at 2 pm at Crossroads Baptist Church

Dalton Edward McQuillin
February 21, 1995 – August 12, 2019
Service: Friday, August 16 at 11 am at Hargis Baptist Church


Northwestern State linebackers excited about experience, quality, depth in 2019

As Northwestern State students prepare for classes starting next week, the Demon linebackers have had their noses buried deep in their defensive playbooks.

Because of more depth and quality at the inside and outside linebacker positions as NSU focused on getting faster, the Demons will put more linebackers on the field at the same time this season.

Outside linebackers coach Jake Olsen said this scheme transition has allowed the defense to cover more ground.

“That was our goal moving forward, to get more linebackers on the field because we had a lot of body types for it,” Olsen said. “We’ve got a lot of dynamic guys, and the depth in this group from the ones, twos and threes is really exciting.

“We saw a lot of guys play in (Saturday’s scrimmage) and be productive, which is what we want them to do.”

The linebackers’ ability to rush the passer stood out in NSU’s first scrimmage Saturday as the Demons racked up a total of six sacks.

Three sacks came from sophomore Jomard Valsin, who switched from defensive end to outside linebacker. Fellow sophomore Landon King also made the position switch.

Senior outside linebacker Quin Whitley, who played inside in 2018, said the group has benefitted from additional pass rushers.

“I think we were a little slow in the pass rush this spring, but these guys have come in and showed us some things,” Whitley said. “We’ve learned some techniques from those guys.

“I’m excited about moving outside and getting a chance to get in space and use my speed. I’m excited about getting more chances to cover guys and to blitz.”

Junior Kyle Moore played in every game this past season after transferring from Navarro College, and Moore entered camp as a starter opposite Valsin.

On the inside, senior Brice Borgeson and junior Isaiah Longino lead a group that has six upperclassmen in its three-deep.

Borgeson has 32 career appearances as he’s worked his way into a starting role as a fifth-year senior.

“We didn’t lose anybody in the linebacker group last year, and we’ve got a lot of younger guys mixed in with us, and we’ve got a really good group,” said Borgeson, who can focus more on the interior in the new scheme. “We’ve got 21 seniors this year, and that’s the most since I’ve been here.

“That strong senior leadership is one of the biggest parts of having a successful team, and we’ve mentored the younger guys because we’re going to need a lot of them to step up and play as well. We also brought in transfers Ja’Quay Pough and Adrion Robertson, and they’ve been big additions for us, too.”

Pough is a Texas Tech transfer who had a successful two seasons at Trinity Valley Community College. Robertson was an all-conference linebacker at Kilgore Junior College.

Longino entered camp as the starter alongside Borgeson on the inside after he finished sixth on the team with 48 tackles as a top reserve linebacker in 2018.

“We’re getting consistency out of this position because they know what to expect and know the calls and verbiage,” Olsen said. “We have continuity within the coaching staff, too.

“They’re hearing the same things and same messages from last year. The trust they’ve built within each other is huge for us.”

Pictured above: Linebacker Kyle Moore wraps up ball carrier Curtis Williams on Saturday at Northwestern State’s first scrimmage of fall camp.

Photo Credit: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services

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