Fighting the Good Fight

By Reba Phelps

Twice a year, whether I want to not, I get the distinct pleasure of visiting with my family physician.

As luck would have it, I do adore her as a person and enjoy seeing her. The downside is that I find myself getting significantly anxious a few days ahead of our designated meeting time. I have even been known to reschedule our visit multiple times.

It starts with me stressing over what I weighed on our previous visit. I never can remember the exact number. Or, maybe I just block it out after I hear it. I weigh every day on my bathroom scales but somehow her scales hate me and add weight that I did not bring with me.

One would think that after so many visits, and no surprises, that I would be cool as a cucumber because the routine never varies.

I sign in. Dread the scales. Visit with friendly staff. Dread the scales. Pay co-pay. Dread the scales. Wait in the lobby with a magazine and…..dread the scales. When they finally call my government name I immediately begin to sweat profusely. Like a lamb being led to the slaughter, my heart races and all of my unhealthy eating habits suddenly flash before my eyes.

Why did I eat that second cupcake? I know better.

When the nurse asks me to step on the scales I immediately remove every item of clothing and jewelry that may weigh more than an ounce. I can shuck shoes, practically undress and drop a purse before the nurse even comes around to start sliding the balance beam scale.

On this particular visit the scale was teetering between a five and six, within a particular number group. (The third digit, not the first digit) Trying to help the nurse out with her vision, I quickly solved the problem for her. It was a five. That one pound held every bit of my self confidence for the day. I am not sure if she could feel me internally begging and pleading for it to be a five, but she agreed.

She is my soul sister. She knows what’s up.

After we made our way to the exam room and she asked her myriad of questions I asked her to tell me what I weighed on my last visit. She told me I weighed the exact same today as I did last time. When she said those words, it was as if the room lit up brightly and I could hear heavenly angels singing. Heaven was rejoicing for me that I did not gain a pound.

Pure joy overtook my heart as I waited on the doctor to enter the room. I was celebrating myself for holding it steady and I could not wait to see the look on the good doctor’s face when she found out my good news. She has never judged me or made me feel bad for being overweight but I know she has a job to do. She has to share with me all of the risks and potential things that can wrong while being thick.

I have always looked at her more as a partner than anything else. She shares healthy tips with me, she roots for me and encourages me. She offers workable solutions. On the occasions where the scales have actually went up, I have truly felt like a child who brought home a failing grade. She was disappointed but yet still hopeful. She doesn’t give up on me.

When I heard her tap on the door announcing her entrance, I sat up straight… people who maintain their weight always have wonderful posture. I was literally about to burst, I needed her to acknowledge the non-movement of the scales.

I am fairly certain she could tell that I was looking extra slim and I was winning the battle with my weight. As soon as she asked all of her pertinent questions she did the weight comparison and a sudden look of delight came over her face.

She asked what changes have occurred in my routine because whatever I was doing was working. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I probably lost the same five pounds three different times in the last six months. But, nonetheless, she was happy and I was happy. As we were wrapping up our visit she looked me with the most sincere look and said, “Keep fighting the good fight and look for the little wins.”

It tickled me. It truly made me smile. But, my inner Negative Nancy voice thought that she had possibly given up on me. The more I overthought it, my Positive Polly came away with the conclusion. She was happy for me!

The thing I don’t understand is why my self confidence was so tied to the number on the scale. Is there not more to our lives that what we weigh? This may be not a Biblical fact but I am quite sure we can add this to the list of things that went wrong when Eve ate the forbidden fruit.

The more we focus on our imperfections it takes valuable time and precious energy away from our true intended purpose in our lives. I know that we are loved immeasurably by a father who is accepting of us at any size.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” – Psalm 139:14

Clerk of Court announces promotions

Natchitoches Parish Clerk of Court David Stamey announces three promotions in the Clerk’s office.

Amy Vercher has been an employee at the Clerk’s Office since 1986. She has spent most of her career as a Criminal Deputy. She will oversee the four person Criminal Department.

Katrina Johnson started at the Clerk’s office in 2003 and has been in the Civil Department since then. She will manage the five person Civil Department.

Casey Harris has been named Chief Deputy. Casey has been with the Clerk’s office for over eight years. She started in the Conveyance and Recording Department and for the last three years has served as Office Manager, bookkeeper and Human Resource Manager as well as election specialist.

The Clerk of Court is the parish recorder and chief election official for the parish. The Clerk is the custodian of the land records, marriage licenses, civil, criminal and probate records. We also are the local outlet for birth certificates and passports.

The Clerk of Court’s office is almost completely self sufficient and operates from the statutory fees it collects, not from taxes. Our office at the courthouse and utilities are furnished by the parish.

If you have questions about the Clerk’s office or our services, please feel free to call us at (318) 352-8152.

Come Ready to Work Hard, Learn – And Get Ahead!

The Central Louisiana Technical Community College in Natchitoches hosted a group of young men and women and their families for its Manufacturing Open House Thursday, February 27 . The Open House showcased a unique partnership designed to address the changing workforce needs of area manufactures while providing an amazing opportunity to young men and women willing to work hard.

Northwestern State University, The Central Louisiana Technical Community College and several area manufacturing plants have joined forces to offer the two year Advanced Manufacturing Technician program, This program, now in its fourth year, offers students an opportunity to earn an Associate’s Degree in Engineering Technology from NSU as well as a certificate as an Advanced Manufacturing Technician from CLTCC.

One of the many attractive features of the program is receiving hands on training with a salary, currently a minimum of $12.00 per hour, from one of the participating area manufactures. In two years, the student will have earned an associate’s degree, a nationally recognized certificate as an Advanced Manufacturing Technician and two years of relevant work experience all while having earned a salary while in school! Starting salaries for the students once they graduate average between $20 and $25 dollars an hour, an impressive start that will only get better as the new employee gains more experience and skills.

This superb opportunity is the result of a collaboration between the Natchitoches Community Alliance, Northwestern State University, Central Louisiana Technical Community College and several area manufacturing firms seeing a critical need and working together to address it. This program is currently the only one of its kind in the state of Louisiana. To make it an even better opportunity, a student entering the program with at least a 20 ACT score with at least a 19 on the math section will have their tuition paid for at NSU.

Bye, Y’all. It’s Been Great.

Back in the 1980s, I believe, when Dandy Don Meredith was a broadcaster for Monday Night Football, he would sing a neat song when the game got out of hand and was essentially over. The party’s over, he would sing, ending with “all good things must come to an end.”

And so, my friends must this column. I’ve been writing for the public since 1963, when I was a part-time reporter for the Associated Press in the summer between my junior and senior year at LSU. That’s 57 years ago now. And I think it’s time to put my “pen” down so to speak.

After graduation and a brief stint in the military reserves, I worked for the Zachary Plainsman newspaper for a while then began working for the New Orleans Times-Picayune in 1965. That was my sole employer until I retired at the end of 2005 and then moved to Natchitoches.

After I retired up here I began writing a column, similar to the one I have been doing for the Natchitoches Parish Journal, for a monthly publication in Jefferson Parish called the West Bank Beacon. Then, for a while I wrote for the Natchitoches Times and finally settled in at the NPJ, for which I have been writing for several years now.

The whole ride has been a great experience. I’ve covered everything from hurricanes in Louisiana to earthquakes in Central America, to murder trials to presidential visits in New Orleans to interviews with movie stars and, gosh, just a host of other neat events. I have landed on US Navy aircraft carriers, ridden in the back seat of Navy Blue Angel and Air Force Thunderbird demonstration team jet fighters, was tear gassed at civil rights marches in the 1960s and witnessed the aftermaths of plane crashes and auto fatalities.

When I started in journalism, I used manual typewriters, with carbon papers to make copies for the editors. Computers in the newsroom were completely unheard of. My starting pay in 1965 was $100 a week — $2.50 an hour. And, I could live on that!

But now, as you know if you have read much of what I have written for the NPJ, I’m now a full fledged geezer and I think it’s time to really retire from the craft of journalism.

To be honest, it was getting more and more difficult to come up with a good topic week after week after week. I did my best. You’ve read everything from tales of my boyhood to my opinions on present day politics. (I still think Trump is obnoxious and that the Democratic slate of candidates is made up of complete losers. But this is the last time you will see me write that.)

The thing is, there are only so many things an old guy can come up with every week of the year to keep his readers interested. And so, my friends, I will say goodbye. I sincerely hope you have somewhat enjoyed what I have written in these spaces, even if you disagreed with my politics. But it seems everybody is disagreeing with everybody else’s politics these days, doesn’t it?

I’ll still be around, of course, so if you see me on the street, say hello, if you wish. Till then, so long, adios, au revoir. Have a good one, as they say these days.

Ponderings with Doug – February 28, 2020

I write this on Ash Wednesday. It is a beautiful day. The sun is shining brightly. The temperature is coolish. The wind is howling.

On Ash Wednesday, many churches impose ashes on the foreheads of members. There are two phrases we use while imposing the ashes. “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” The other one is “Repent and believe in the gospel.” You should take both phrases seriously, ashes or not!

Ash Wednesday reminds us that we are mortal. It is a call to observe a Holy Lent as we prepare to celebrate Easter. That explains the people you saw on Wednesday who had crosses on their foreheads. Some people had smudges. We are reminding ourselves that we will all end up as dust. That is why the resurrection of Jesus brings such hope. Dust will rise again!

I don’t “doctor” my ashes. There is a recipe for ashes that involves making them darker and more prominent on the forehead. It creates an “ash paste.” I take the ashes from the place where the palm fronds were burned and apply those to the foreheads. In most cases, my cross looks like a smudge.

We did “drive by” ashes this morning from seven until eight. I made a discovery this morning.

One couple from the church stopped by to have ashes imposed. I placed the ashes on their foreheads, speaking the proper words. I, of course, noticed their dog in their back seat. I walked out of the church to go pet the dog. I petted her on the head, and we had a moment.

I thanked the couple for coming and then walked back into the church.

I had carried the ashes to the car with me. I had them on a very flat plate.

Shall we review. Ashes on a flat plate in howling wind. When I got back in the church I looked down at my empty plate. The weather has never been an Ash Wednesday problem. It was a glorious day to impose ashes today. However, Lake Advisory wind and ashes don’t mix. My first load of Ash Wednesday ashes are blowing in the wind.

Luckily, I am so antsy about ashes, I have enough to impose ashes on the entire population of the parish. I reloaded my plate and continued with the Imposition of Ashes. I was circumspect with the ashes and avoided getting too close to the opened doors.

We are disciples of Jesus Christ. As a disciple we are always learning, always growing in our faith as we follow Him.

If you are not growing into and learning of Christ, you are like those ashes, blowing in the wind.

NSU Calendar of Events

NSU– Here is a look at the week of March 1-7 at Northwestern State University.

March 1 – Baseball vs. Eastern Illinois, Brown-Stroud Field

March 3 – New Media Showcase Reception, Varnado Hall Ballroom, 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.

March 3 – Guest artist Lindsay Strand-Polyak with Dennette McDermott and Doug Bakenhus, Magale Recital Hall, 7:30 p.m.

March 4 – Men’s basketball vs. New Orleans, Prather Coliseum, 6:30 p.m.

March 4 –NSU Wind Ensemble, Magale Recital Hall, 7:30 p.m.

March 5 –Fredericks and Magale Concert Bands, Magale Recital Hall, 7:30 p.m.

March 6 – Softball vs. Sam Houston, Lady Demon Diamond

March 6 – Baseball vs. Eastern Abilene Christian, Brown-Stroud Field

March 7 – Softball vs. Sam Houston, Lady Demon Diamond

March 7 – Baseball vs. Eastern Abilene Christian, Brown-Stroud Field

Swing dance class Feb. 29

Northwestern State University’s Dance Organization of Students will host a swing dance workshop from 5-6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 29 in A.A. Fredericks Auditorium.

Admission is $5 per person. Proceeds will support NSU dance students who plan to attend the American College Dance Association’s annual conference at Florida State University.

For more information, contact Sarah Talbot at

CITY OF NATCHITOCHES: Information Systems Technician

POSITION: Information Systems Technician

DESCRIPTION: Assists the Information Services Manager for all computer support, software, hardware, and networking City wide.

SKILLS: Have the knowledge of proper operation, use, and application of a variety of client computer systems and technologies such as MS Windows and AS400; Understand the principles of computer technology, hardware operating systems, client-server technologies and local area networks; Have the skill to back-up and restore, participate and apply PC security, antivirus, client imaging, and performance monitoring applications. CompTIA A+ or MCTS desirable.

CONTACT: Human Resources Department at 1400 Sabine Street or Post Office Box 37, Natchitoches, LA 71458-0037.

Applications may also be picked up upstairs at City Hall located at 700 Second Street, Natchitoches, LA, or may be downloaded at

Applications will be accepted through March 12, 2020.


Energetic Demons open spring practice

The energy and enthusiasm the Northwestern State football team brought to the opening workout of spring practice impressed head coach Brad Laird.

The Demons went through a 22-period workout Thursday afternoon, the first of 15 spring practices and scrimmages that will culminate with the 31st annual Joe Delaney Bowl on March 21.

“It was good to be out here,” said Laird, whose third season at the helm of his alma mater begins Sept. 3 at home against Incarnate Word. “Being able to get out here and put a helmet on and put a football in their hands is what it’s about. The guys had a lot of good enthusiasm for the first day. It’s about being consistent through 22 periods.”

Northwestern State’s first workout of the spring lasted a little more than an hour and a half as it turns its attention to the 2020 season.

The Demons worked out in helmets and shorts as they will Friday before entering the first workout in pads Saturday morning.

After the workout, Laird reiterated the importance of consistency to his squad.

“That’s the thing we want to see as a staff,” he said. “We want to identify the starters, identify the depth in all three phases. We need to be consistent with what we do. When we look at the film, we’ll not only look at the Xs and Os, we’ll look to make sure the effort is there through 22 periods.

“As we look at the things we did well and we look at the mistakes we made, we’ll move forward to continue to correct those mistakes, because install two will be here (Friday), and we don’t want to be left behind.”

Northwestern State returns to practice at 2:45 p.m. Friday before a 10 a.m. Saturday workout completes the first week of spring practice.

Photo Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services

Kiwanis recognizes Terrific Kids at L.P. Vaughn

Students in grades PreK-K at L.P. Vaughn received Terrific Kid certificates from the Natchitoches Kiwanis Club for the month of February recognizing them for their character development, self-esteem and perseverance.

Pictured on front row from left are Lyndell Brumfield, Zoe Edwards, Alyssa Haskett, Mackenzie Bernstine, Madison Pier, Brian Powell, A’mari Evans, Elkys Arriola, Terianna Moses, Zy’Marreon Willis, Brandon Chelette, Selena Durousseau, Gracyi Llorance, Tristian Law, Ke’zyiah King, Morgan Johnson, Honestie Williams, Kennedy Morrisette, and Bailee Meziere. Not pictured are Cadence Finley and Kayden Calvin. Pictured with them are Kiwanian Heather Martin and Clarissa Davis.

CLTCC Launches Fishing Team as Club Sport, Competes in First Tournament

The inaugural Central Louisiana Technical Community College (CLTCC) Fishing Team recently made its debut by competing in the Bass Pro Shops Collegiate Series challenge at Lake Sam Rayburn in Jasper, Texas.

A total of 202 anglers competed in the event, with the three participating CLTCC members finishing in 25 , 40 and 55 place.

Michelle Ducote, team coordinator, said the team was created after several students with fishing team experience in high school or other schools asked if a team could be created. “CLTCC does not offer sports, but we wanted to give students who want that true college experience another option,” Ducote said. “We have our SkillsUSA competitions and the Student Government Association, and now we have a fishing team as a club sport option for students.”

Membership on the team is open to students at all eight CLTCC campuses. To date, six students have signed up to compete, four from the Alexandria campus, one from the Natchitoches campus and one from Leesville. The ages of team members range from 19 to 41, with most members being in their 20s.

Matthew Guillory, an electrical program student and the youngest member, is also the team captain. Guillory was a member of a fishing team in high school at Holy Savior Menard Central High School. “I have a love for it and fish whenever I get the chance,” he said.

The team is coached by Brad Moyers, a retired Army veteran and instructor in the Outdoor Power Equipment program at the Lamar Salter Campus in Leesville. When asked how he was selected to be the coach, Moyers noted, “I have a bass boat and a love for fishing.” But it was much more than that for Moyers. “I have a love for teaching students how to fish and how to work on motors – I have a love for teaching young people anything.”

As a start-up program, the team is seeking sponsors and donations. They team has already received local support, with Holloway Outdoors donating some equipment and Bill Lewis Lures offering to donate lures for the students to use.

Moyers said the team’s next scheduled competition will be March 7 at Indian Creek. That will not be a collegiate competition, yet rather the event is a fundraiser for a Pitkin young lady with medical concerns. “We will compete in as many events as possible,” Moyers said.

Ultimately, Moyers would like to see enough competitors from each of the system’s eight campuses that they could have a tournament pitting each campus against the others to determine an overall CLTCC championship campus.

And, in a nod to the Trace Adkins country music song “She Thinks We’re Just Fishin’,” Moyers noted there is much more to the fishing team than learning how to fish. “I spent 21 years and three months in the military, and I saw a lot of 19 and 20-year-olds in the unit,” Moyers said. “These young people are way ahead of their peers in terms of morals, work ethic, and values. Developing a hobby like fishing and hunting keeps them out of trouble getting into something else.”

Caption for attached photo: The Central Louisiana Technical Community College (CLTCC) Fishing Team recently competed in its first Bass Pro Shops Collegiate Fishing Series event at Lake Sam Rayburn in Jasper, Texas. Inaugural team members include (from left) team captain Matthew Guillory, Ethan Price, coach Brad Moyers and Nathan Orlando.

Central Louisiana Technical Community College (CLTCC) is a two-year technical and community college offering associate degrees, technical diplomas, industry certificates, and customized training in more than 20 disciplines to support local workforce development and prepare students for good-paying jobs. CLTCC serves 10 parishes in Central Louisiana through its eight campuses and provides instruction in three state prisons and two federal correctional institutions. For more information, visit

Notice of Death – February 27, 2020

Lorraine Martin Dorris
December 28, 1948 – February 24, 2020
Visitation: Saturday, February 29 from 10-11 am at Summerfield Baptist Church located at 171 Summerfield Road, Summerfield Community
Service: Saturday, February 29 at 2 pm at Summerfield Baptist Church near Colfax

Jerry Larpenter
August 13, 1930 – February 21, 2020
Service: Tuesday, March 3 at 2 pm at Friendship Church of the Nazarene in Robeline

Will Smith
March 26, 1951 – February 21, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Crawford Ficklin, Jr.
February 23, 2020
Service: Saturday, February 29 at 11 am at the First United Methodist Church, located at 411 Second Street in Natchitoches

Mary Jane Jackson Parker
February 22, 2020
Service: Saturday, February 29 at 9 am at Winnfield Memorial Funeral Home Chapel, located at 318 North Street in Natchitoches

Anna Lou Evans Beasley
February 7, 1918 – February 18, 2020
Service: Saturday, February 29 at 2 pm at Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home in Natchitoches
Interment: Weaver Cemetery in Flora

Cleveland Lewis
February 15, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Robert Glen Taylor
June 28, 1964 – February 23, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Dr. William “Bill” Robertson
November 13, 1952 – February 24, 2020
Service: Friday, February 28, 2020 at 10:00AM at the church under direction of Kinner & Stevens Funeral Home

James Cecil “Gabby” Freeman Sr.
August 13, 1930 – February 24, 2020
Visitation: Friday, February 28 from 10-11 am at Northside Baptist Church in Montgomery
Service: Friday, February 28 at 11 am at Northside Baptist Church