Drive Through COVID-19 Community Screening and Testing Opens in Natchitoches

Fever, cough, shortness of breath? If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 also known as the Coronavirus, beginning March 31, drive through community testing and screenings will be available in Natchitoches. This community health service will be offered from 10 a.m. to 12 noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the parking lot of Central Louisiana Technical College (CLTCC) at 6587 Highway 1 in Natchitoches.

Professionals from Natchitoches Regional Medical Center will be conducting the screenings and testing. Community members who have been exposed to the virus or who believe they may have symptoms will be asked to remain in their cars as they receive screening. If after the screening, the professionals recommend testing, the NRMC Associates will do so at a testing station as part of the drive through process and test results will be available in approximately 4 days. All participants must bring a valid photo ID and their insurance card. All insurances including Medicaid, Medicare, and commercial insurance are accepted.

“Our goal is to make screening and testing safely and conveniently located in our parish,” explained Kirk Soileau. “As a community, we need to diagnose cases of this virus, so that people can get the care they need and also protect those who would otherwise be in close contact with them. In most cases, individuals can overcome this illness at home, but they need to self-isolate, so they do not expose others. For those with more serious cases, additional medical care may be necessary.”

Special thanks to City of Natchitoches Mayor Lee Posey, Parish President John Richmond, Senator Louie Bernard, Natchitoches Chief of Police Mickey Dove and Captain Brad Walker, Natchitoches Sheriff Victor Jones, Northwestern State University Police Chief Craig Vercher, Homeland Security Officer Mary Jones, Natchitoches Fire Department Chief John Wynn, Campus Dean of CLTCC Laurie Morrow, and many volunteers.

Texas institutes roadway screenings, 14 day quarantine for travelers from Louisiana

Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a new Executive Order mandating roadway screenings for anyone traveling from Louisiana into Texas, with a 14-day quarantine (SEE DOCUMENT BELOW).

Every person who enters the State of Texas through roadways from Louisiana, or from any other state as may be proclaimed hereafter, shall be subject to mandatory self-quarantine for a period of 14 days from the time of entry into Texas or the duration of the person’s presence in Texas, whichever is shorter. This order to self-quarantine shall not apply to people traveling in connection with commercial activity, military service, emergency response, health response, or critical-infrastructure functions, as may be determined by the Texas Division of Emergency Management. Each person covered by this order to self-quarantine shall be responsible for all associated costs, including transportation, lodging, food, and medical care.

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) shall enforce this executive order along the Texas-Louisiana border. Using a form to be prescribed by DPS, each covered person shall designate a quarantine location in Texas, such as a residence or a hotel, and provide a full name, date of birth, home address, telephone number, and driver license or passport information. DPS Troopers, or other approved peace officers, will collect a completed form from a covered person and verify it against the person’s driver license or passport. Providing false information on this form is a criminal offense under Section 37.10 of the Texas Penal Code. Questions about this form should be directed to DPS by calling (800) 525-5555.

A covered person shall proceed directly to the designated quarantine location entered on the DPS form. Any covered person exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 shall be escorted to the designated quarantine location by a DPS Trooper.

A covered person shall remain in the designated quarantine location for a period of 14 days or the duration of the person’s presence in Texas, whichever is shorter, leaving only to seek medical care or to depart from Texas. During that period, a covered person shall not allow visitors into or out of the designated quarantine location, other than a health department employee, physician, or health care provider, and shall not visit any public spaces.

DPS Special Agents will conduct unannounced visits to designated quarantine locations to verify compliance by confirming the physical presence of covered persons. Any failure to comply with this order to self-quarantine shall be a criminal offense punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000, confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days, or both.

The Prayer Vigil at Natchitoches Regional Medical Center-America at its Best

by Kevin Shannahan

Our community came together Sunday, March 29, in a moving prayer service held in the packed parking lot of the Natchitoches Regional Medical Center. The service was held to lift up in prayer, love and support the men and women working in every area of the hospital as well as our first responders. In order to maintain social distancing, people stayed in their cars and listened to the service with the windows rolled down.

The service was put together over the course of a few days by a group of local men and women who saw the need and quickly put the service together. Bro. Mike McGrath of First Baptist Church gave an inspired opening prayer after which DJ Leonard Sarpy played a variety of Christian music for the service. Ms. Christie Price gave the closing prayer. As the crowd drove away, the air was filled with horns as the congregation let the people of NRMC, law enforcement and fire service that they were loved and appreciated.

As America faces this time of trial, people all over the country are rising to the challenge. Masks are being sewn by thousands of individuals who saw a need and got to work. Face shields are being produced in factories all over the country. One design being used came from an engineer in Wisconsin whose wife, an anesthesiologist, tried on prototypes and helped with advice on infection control and other medical aspects. The University of Wisconsin Hospital now has the face shields they needed and the design is openly available for use by others. I have no doubt that a vaccine will be invented for this disease soon. There are a lot of hard working, smart people working tirelessly on it.

The nation’s character is also revealed in the many acts of kindness and regard for community we see every day. From bear hunts to entertain children to people buying meals for tired truck drivers making deliveries, all of these thousands of acts of unsolicited volunteerism show a side of America that is still very much present in our land.

As I looked at the people in their cars at the service, I saw people of every race and circumstance. They were from every denomination, and probably a few from none. Rich and poor, Black and White, from different faiths-none of that mattered, They had gathered together to pray for the men and women who come to work every day to keep our community safe. This night was America at its finest. President Eisenhower put it best “There is nothing wrong with America that faith, love of freedom, intelligence, and energy of her citizens cannot cure.”

Natchitoches resident asks community to participate in Trash Tuesday and help clean up city

Natchitoches resident Danie Habig is starting an initiative to get the community involved in beautifying the City and surrounding areas during the coronavirus outbreak.

Activities like walking, biking, running, and boating are considered safe as long as residents practice social distancing. It’s Danie’s hope that everyone can come together for Trash Tuesdays and pick up litter along the route they take. If everyone participates, each bit of effort will go toward a sense of community while they’re all locked away in their homes.

Danie came up with this idea while boating on Cane River. She saw the amount of trash on the water and on the banks. Her plan is to get people to rally together to do something about it while they have the time.

“Let’s make Natchitoches pretty,” she said.

During this time the trash will be collected more frequently at the Washington Street and Shell Beach Boat Launches if you’d rather not bring the trash you collect back home with you. Please set the bag of trash you’ve picked up near a bin on site. This setup is only for people who are participating in the Trash Tuesday initiative. Please do not leave any personal trash at these locations.

Also, with the donation of trash bags by Red’s Ribs, Danie has them on hand when needed. Call her at 318-228-3910 to schedule a pick up at Cane River Kitchenware. The store is closed during the outbreak, but Danie will be there daily from 11 am – 4 pm renovating floors.

Post a picture as you collect trash and use the following hashtags:

#alonetogether, #trashtuesday, #natchitochesstrong, #gonatchitoches. #golocal

Trump extends voluntary shutdown through April 30

According to an Associated Press article, President Donald Trump is extending the voluntary national shutdown, which expires today (March 30) through April 30.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said the U.S. could experience more than 100,000 deaths and millions of infections from the pandemic. The U.S. had more than 137,000 COVID-19 cases reported by late Sunday afternoon, with more than 2,400 deaths.

Rhodes Properties & Development, Rhodes Realty keep moving forward during Covid-19 outbreak

Rhodes Properties & Development and Rhodes Realty is doing everything they can to make sure deals are closing during the Coronavirus outbreak. All office locations are closed in accordance with the Governor’s order.

“They will remain closed until the Governor advises us differently,” said Justin Rhodes. “We are finding different ways to work through this while making sure our clients aren’t left in the dark. At the end of the day our utmost priority is our clients and the safety of our entire team.”

Rhodes is dedicated to its clients and will make every effort to fulfill commitments, while keeping in close contact with its lenders, title companies, and all parties involved.

“We have outfitted all of our team members, agents, associates, and brokers with remote capabilities and they are working as they can to progress construction activities, and serve clients looking to buy or sell a home,” he said.

Rhodes is also working with professionals and officials locally, regionally, and state-wide to develop plans for the immediate needs of the property development and real estate industries, as well as looking toward the future.

“We are committed to this industry,” said Justin. “We are committed to this economy. We are committed to keeping it alive. We are committed to making it thrive. We are making progress everyday and will see it through.”

Rhodes urges all members of the community to take this time to care for their families and ensure their safety.

“I can assure you we will recover from this,” said Justin. “This community, this state, and this country will prevail. Together we will emerge stronger on the other end.”

Campbell Says More Internet Service Coming to North Louisiana

More federal dollars have been set aside to pay for expansion of high-speed internet service in North Louisiana, and Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell is urging broadband providers to apply for the funding.

The “Rural Digital Opportunity Fund” of the Federal Communications Commission helps bring broadband service to rural, unserved, or underserved areas of the United States. The FCC has allocated $20.4 billion to be spent over the next 10 years, with the first phase beginning in 2020.

Phase 1 calls for 627,000 new internet access points in 45 states including 182,458 across Louisiana. Of the state’s allotment, more than 79,000 new spots will be in the 24 parishes of North Louisiana that comprise Campbell’s LPSC District 5.

“The addition of 79,000 new broadband access points will be welcome news for the residents and business owners in North Louisiana,” Campbell said. “Much of our education, health care, and commerce is conducted on-line, so reliable, fast and affordable internet service is needed in every household and every community.”

These new internet locations are in addition to the nearly 55,000 homes and businesses in North Louisiana made internet-accessible by the FCC in 2016-2020 as part of its “Connect America” program. That previous FCC effort, coming to an end this year, helped fiber, wireless and satellite internet providers meet the need for broadband service in unserved or underserved areas of America.

By the end of this year the Connect America expansion was to have made 54,580 homes and businesses in PSC District 5 eligible to receive high-speed internet service. Three providers — AT&T, CenturyLink and ViaSat – received FCC funding.

“I’m pleased that the FCC is continuing to reach out to places like North Louisiana, where we have more territory unserved by broadband than other parts of the nation,” Campbell said. “All of the 24 parishes in my district are seeing growth in broadband.

“This development should continue until every household, business and institution in North Louisiana can get affordable and reliable broadband.”

Connect America supported broadband service delivered by fiber, wireless and satellite technologies. The FCC requires that customers receive minimum download speeds of 10 megabytes per second and upload speeds of 1 mbps.

The FCC also mandates that rates are “reasonably comparable” to rates in urban areas. AT&T proposed a monthly charge as low as $60 for locations made possible with Connect America FCC support.


It has been two weeks since we had our last day of school. I am sure many have questions. There are answers to some but not all. We will have a graduation ceremony. The date is dependent on the current state of the coronavirus and how long it will take for the curve to flatten. That is when the number of new cases does not exceed the days previously recorded.

From the Guidance Department: Please check your Student Progress Center frequently. The NCHS Guidance department is still on the job. Just doing it from home. They can be reached thru email, and “Remember you are still their students and they are still your counselors.

Mrs. Spears has posted information regarding Yearbook orders. She asked me about this years Prom. I am hoping we are back in school before May 15. I have talked to Graduate Sales about items you have ordered. Donnie Johnson assured me that as soon as the Shelter in Place order is lifted he will be distributing your orders. The Senior ring ceremony that was scheduled after the class of 2020 leaves will be scheduled at some time before school starts if necessary.

Please remember to practice social distancing. There are many that this virus has attacked. I pray daily for this to come to a quick end and we are able to return to normal.


Bill Gordy

School Board issues COVID-19 Update regarding suspension of feeding program

Natchitoches Parish School Board, in compliance with Governor John Bel Edwards’ Statewide Stay-At-Home Order to further fight the spread of COVID-19 has temporarily suspended the current feeding sites until further notice. We are already in the process of providing meals in a more efficient way. Our goal is to safely offer food in more easily accessible locations and in smaller groups. Thank you for your patience during this time.

LED Opens COVID-19 Help Desk for Louisiana Businesses

BATON ROUGE — Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards and Secretary Don Pierson of Louisiana Economic Development announced the opening of an LED help desk that provides email and hotline support for Louisiana businesses impacted by COVID-19.

For COVID-19 business questions, LED may be reached at or via the toll-free hotline, (833) 457-0531. The COVID-19 hotline is staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Be aware that high call volumes might result in delays. Callers are encouraged to keep trying, leave a voice mail or contact LED via email.

For Louisiana businesses seeking federal financial assistance, they are encouraged first to contact the U.S. Small Business Administration at to apply for COVID-19 disaster aid. The SBA Customer Service Center may be reached at (800) 659-2955, with an additional TTY line for the hearing-impaired at (800) 877-8339.

“Louisiana has experienced the fastest rate of increase for confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world, and it is imperative that everyone in our state take part in the efforts to slow the spread of this disease,” Gov. Edwards said. “Businesses are making tremendous sacrifices to slow the spread, and resources are available to help businesses navigate this crisis. If your business has questions, please make use of the resources that Louisiana Economic Development has made available to you.”

“This LED help desk is the latest of our efforts to serve Louisiana businesses and to help them sustain operations through the challenges presented by COVID-19,” Secretary Pierson said. “At our website — — you’ll find many additional resources for COVID-19 business assistance. We encourage you to use them, and we thank our many partners across Louisiana for their dedicated support of our efforts.”

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Gov. Edwards issued proclamations meant to slow the spread of the disease. The health and safety of Louisiana residents is the utmost priority for the administration.

LED is working with all levels of government and the private sector to support Louisiana businesses and their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the LED website — — businesses may find workplace guidance from the Governor’s Stay At Home Order and other proclamations; COVID-19 public health recommendations; sources of COVID-19 financial aid; regional resources across the state; and links to information from business and industry trade associations.

About LED
Louisiana Economic Development is responsible for strengthening the state’s business environment and creating a more vibrant Louisiana economy. LED cultivates jobs and economic opportunity for the people of Louisiana, and promotes business opportunity for employers of all sizes. In 2019, LED attracted more than 80 new economic development projects representing 12,300 new jobs, 15,500 retained jobs and over $8.4 billion in new capital investment. LED’s Small Business Services team assisted more than 9,500 Louisiana small businesses and entrepreneurs in 2019. For more information, visit

NSU staff going above and beyond to accommodate students

While students were on spring break, most faculty and staff at Northwestern State University were busy preparing for a new normal when classes resume March 30. Many have been working remotely in accordance with government mandates to stay home to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“This is an unprecedented situation,” said NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio. “Northwestern is meeting these new challenges through the resourcefulness and resiliency of our faculty, staff and students.”

All of NSU’s academic programs will continue with online and other alternate delivery of classes. Administrators continue to iron out details about academic guidelines in a shifting environment. Students have access to the library, counseling, technical support and other services required for quality learning. Information technology personnel worked around the clock to provide assistance to faculty and staff and maintain current information on university websites. Offices that provide essential assistance to the university community and the public remain open with modified operations.

NSU’s residential students were strongly encouraged to return home, but for the few who could not, staff was available to assist them. Dining staff prepared take-out lunches and dinners, housing managers were on call to answer questions about credit balances for students moving home and University Police, counselors, nurses in Health Services and staff in student services and financial aid were available to assist students with questions and concerns.

Staff from NSU Child and Family Network partnered with Willis-Knighton Health System to provide childcare and activities for their employees who were fighting the coronavirus on the front lines.

The NSU Food Pantry remains open, manned by volunteers. Hours are 10 a.m.-noon Monday-Friday through April 3.

“We’ve had many donations from individuals, local groups, churches and Greek organizations,” said Scott Burrell, interim director of the School of Creative and Performing Arts who works volunteer shifts at the pantry. “We’ve had about 50-60 students access the pantry. All were quite happy to have such a wide range of items to choose. Not only food, but toiletries and cleaning supplies. We also keep the outside bin filled with ‘to-go’ bags that have pantry items in them like soup, ramen, cereal bars, mac and cheese and peanut butter. I would guess 40-50 bags have been picked up.

Current pantry needs include cleaning supplies, disinfectants, toilet paper, sodas, vegetable oil, jelly, and comfort foods like snacks, desserts, cake and cookie mixes.

“Big thanks to those students, faculty and staff who came to assist when the campus closed by volunteering keep the pantry open,” Burrell said.

Beginning March 30, nurses with Health Services will be available to see students at the clinic from 8 a.m.-noon and will be available by phone from noon-4 p.m. Students can call (318) 663-9263 with questions and concerns or to schedule a visit for the following day.

The Northwestern State University Foundation created an emergency fund to assist those in the NSU community who need assistance dealing with changes in operations due to COVID-19. The fund can be used to address housing and storage insecurity, travel expenses related to returning home, technology needs to ensure students can access virtual learning, loss of wages and other unforeseen financial challenges.

To apply, requests should be mailed to or mailed to the NSU Foundation, 535 University Parkway, Natchitoches, LA. 71497 Attn: Coronavirus Assistance Fund. Applications should include a short bio of how applicants are associated with NSU, description of hardship with specific costs and details, including receipts if available, and the amount of the request. All requests will be granted based on committee recommendations and need as funds are available. To make a donation to support the coronavirus assistance fund, visit

An important component of preparing for the remainder of the semester has been to address the psychological impact of COVID-19 and the significant disruption it caused. Rebecca Boone, director of Counseling and Career Services, spent spring break earning certification in telemental counseling and will be taking appointments for counseling services via WebEx and FaceTime, which are secure and HIPPA compliant.

“It has been a fast-paced learning curve, but we want our students to be confident that we will continue to provide quality counseling services to them,” she said.

“NSU has been a trailblazer in creative educational concepts, including online learning,” Maggio said. “Our leadership in online education is serving us well now. Cutting edge education is one of the many important traditions that have evolved in Northwestern’s 136-year history. The traditions that we value most are exceptional quality and effectiveness of faculty and staff and our compassion for students and commitment to their wellbeing and overall success.”

Updated information will posted at and through the university’s social media channels.

Former Lady Demon Abboud named MVP

Former Northwestern State Lady Demon Shahd Abboud has been named Domestic MVP in the Isreali Female Basketball Premier League, the top league in the country, following the 2019-20 season.
The Nazareth, Israel native was named Domestic MVP as the best Israeli-born player in the league for her team Ramat Hasharon.

“It means a lot,” Abboud said. “I feel like I finally got the recognition and respect I have been working so hard for. It was a very rewarding moment for me because I work hard to be the best version of myself every day, and it paid off this season.”

Abboud played two seasons at NSU from 2015-17 and signed with Hapoel Petah Tikva and played two seasons there before joining Ramat Hasharon this past season.

The 5-foot-11 guard averaged 12.2 points per game, 2.3 rebounds per game and 2.9 assists per game this year.

“I believe the biggest factors in having the success I did this year was the work I did during the offseason and the confidence coach gave me,” Abboud said. “She believed in me and wanted me to lead and it gave me the confidence to go out there and perform for my team.”

Abboud appeared in all 61 Lady Demons games in her two seasons at NSU, starting 57 of those. She averaged 7.7 points per game, connecting on 65 3-pointers while helping lead the Lady Demons to the Southland Conference Tournament in each of her two seasons.

Abboud’s 8.4 points per game average in the 2016-17 season ranked third on the team.

“Winning MVP is always nice,” Abboud said. “But I know I still have a lot of work to do. It just motivates me to work even harder and keep setting the bar higher for myself.

“I will keep working on my game this offseason and improve in everything I need to improve on, make the best signing decision for next season and be ready to play.”

Photo courtesy of Shahd Abboud


To protect our personnel and preserve critical public safety services in an effort to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Natchitoches Parish 9-1-1 Communications District has announced that it will suspend routine processing of 9-1-1 address applications effective at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday March 24, 2020.

Willis Carter, Executive Director of the Natchitoches Parish Communications District, has said that address applications will continue to be accepted for those individuals wishing to apply for addresses (outside the city limits of Natchitoches) BY APPOINTMENT ONLY and at an outside area that has been set up near the main entrance to the NATCOM facility, located at 9-1-1 Public Safety Blvd. off Industrial Drive. Applicants must call 357-8300 to arrange an appointment. Applicants are reminded that addresses will not be issued until after application processing resumes. That work will remain on hold until after the risk of the COVID-19 Coronavirus spread has been downgraded.

Carter has said that both he and the Districts Address Coordinator will be working from home as well as the office, and they will respond promptly to voicemails and emails.

Notice of Death – March 29, 2020

Lula B. Scott
March 26, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Florida Mae Brown
September 2, 1944 – March 19, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Sam Braden
December 20, 1941 – March 02, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Minnie Anderson Martin
March 11, 1944 – March 26, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Sybil Kathlyn Wilbanks
September 1, 1926 – March 27, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Cleo Marie Walker
November 02, 1928 – March 28, 2020
Service: Tuesday, March 31 at 2 pm at Campti Baptist Cemetery