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 LEDbiz@la.gov 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 SBA.gov/Disaster 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 — OpportunityLouisiana.com/covid19 — 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 — OpportunityLouisiana.com/covid19 — 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 OpportunityLouisiana.com.

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 brossette@nsula.edu 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 http://www.nsula.edu 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

Louisiana Department of Health Updates for 3/29/2020

March 29, 2020

The Louisiana Department of Health has updated its website to reflect the latest number of positives and will continue to update its website at noon each day.

As of noon on March 29, the Department reported 225 additional cases since yesterday, bringing the total to 3,540 positive cases.

The Department confirms an additional 220 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized since yesterday’s update. Of those, an additional 44 patients require ventilation. A total of 1,127 COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized; of those, 380 patients require ventilation.

Long-term care facilities
The Department of Health has identified COVID-19 clusters in 20 long-term care facilities in the state.

Long-term care facilities with 2 or more COVID-19 cases (among residents or staff)

Chateau de Notre Dame
Chateau D’Ville
Chateau St. James
Good Samaritan, New Orleans
Guesthouse of Slidell Nursing Home
Jo Ellen Smith Living Center
Lakeview Manor Nursing Home
Lambeth House
Luling Living Center
Marrero Health Care Center
Montclair Park Assisted Living Shreveport
Nouveau Marc
River Palms Nursing and Rehab
Riverbend Nursing and Rehab
St. James Place
St. Joseph of Harahan
St. Jude’s Nnursing Home
St. Martin’s Manor
Southeast Louisiana War Veterans Home
Vista Shores

A cluster is identified as two or more cases that appear to be connected.
Because of the sheer volume of cases, we will be sharing the updated number of clusters every day at noon. We will rely on facilities for reporting on the most-up-to-date information. The Department continues to work with nursing homes to minimize the spread of the illness and protect residents and staff.


The Department reports an additional 14 deaths since yesterday, bringing the total to 151 deaths. Deaths are listed on the LDH dashboard by parish under the by parish tab and information by age can be found on the by age group tab.

Medical volunteers interested in volunteering should register with Louisiana Volunteers in Action at http://www.lava.dhh.louisiana.gov. Medical and non-medical volunteers 18 years of age and older are welcome.

Louisiana Department of Health Updates for 3/28/2020

March 28, 2020

The Louisiana Department of Health has updated its website to reflect the latest number of positives and will continue to update its website at noon each day.

As of noon on March 28, the Department reported 569 additional cases since yesterday, bringing the total to 3,315 positive cases.

Yesterday, 773 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized. Of those, 270 required ventilation. Today, 927 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized. Of those, 336 require ventilation.

Nursing homes/independent living/assisted living facilities
The Department of Health has identified COVID-19 clusters in 11 nursing homes/independent living/assisted living facilities in the state: Chateau De Notre Dame; Chateau D’Ville; Chateau St. James; Good Samaritan, New Orleans; Lambeth House; Luling Living Center; Nouveau Marc; River Palms Nursing and Rehab; St. James Place; St. Joseph of Harahan; and Vista Shores.

A cluster is identified as two or more cases that appear to be connected.

Because of the sheer volume of cases, we will be sharing the updated number of clusters every day at noon. We will rely on facilities for reporting on the most-up-to-date information. The fact that someone has died at a nursing home/independent living/assisted living facility has less to do with the facility and more to do with the individual.

The Department continues to work with nursing homes to minimize the spread of the illness and protect residents and staff.

The Department reports an additional 18 deaths since yesterday, bringing the total to 137 deaths. Deaths are listed on the LDH dashboard by parish under the by parish tab and information by age can be found on the by age group tab.

Medical volunteers interested in volunteering must register with Louisiana Volunteers in Action at www.lava.dhh.louisiana.gov. Medical and non-medical volunteers 18 years of age and older are welcome.

Louisiana Department of Health Updates for 3/26/2020

Baton Rouge, La. (March 26, 2020) — The Louisiana Department of Health has updated its website to reflect the latest number of positives and will continue to update its website at noon each day.

As of noon on March 26, the Department reported 510 additional cases since yesterday, bringing the total to 2,305 positive cases. Important to note are the increases in Caddo Parish (additional 22 cases, bringing the total to 115) and Bossier Parish (additional 25 cases, bringing the total to 32), which the Department and Governor’s Office are monitoring closely.

To further combat the spread of COVID-19 in Louisiana, Governor John Bel Edwards issued a Stay at Home Order on March 22, directing all Louisiana residents to shelter at home and limit movements outside of their homes beyond essential needs.

Click here for the governor’s official order.

Yesterday, 491 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized. Of those, 163 patients required ventilation. Today, 676 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized. Of those, 239 require ventilation. If Louisiana’s growth continues this way and the State is unable to flatten the curve, the New Orleans area could run out of vents by the first week of April.

Nursing homes
The Department of Health has identified COVID-19 clusters in six nursing homes in the state. The five the Department can identify are Chateau D’Ville, Chateau De Notre Dame, Lambeth House, St. James Place and Vista Shores. A cluster is identified as two or more cases that appear to be connected. With the involvement of hospitals and multiple providers and the growth in cases of nursing home residents, going forward the Department will require a lag time in its reporting on specific clusters. The Department aims to be a source of reliable information and needs to be able to allow its epidemiological team time to do its job in notifying providers and patients. Going forward, the Department will report the current number of clusters every day at noon, but will only share names of facilities once the proper notifications have taken place. The Department continues to work with nursing homes to minimize the spread of the illness and protect residents and staff.

The Department reports an additional 18 deaths since yesterday, bringing the total of 83 deaths. 

Guidance for providers
All guidance memos issued can be found on the Department of Health website: http://www.ldh.la.gov/coronavirus.

About the Louisiana Department of Health
The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state residents. The Louisiana Department of Health includes the Office of Public Health, Office of Aging & Adult Services, Office of Behavioral Health, Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities, and Healthy Louisiana (Medicaid). To learn more, visit http://www.ldh.la.gov or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or our blog.

Congratulations to the NSU Class of 2020!

While out Bear Hunting, the Natchitoches Parish Journal came across a reminder that the Coronavirus has not totally stopped the rhythm of life in our community. Soon to be NSU alumna Ms. Izzy Melhado was with a few friends taking her senior photos on campus. Ms. Melhado hails from Slidell, LA and earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology with a concentration in forensics as well as a minor in anthropology.

The Natchitoches Parish Journal wishes Ms. Izzy Melhado and her fellow 2020 graduates all the best in their future endeavors. Godspeed as you move on the next part of your life’s adventure!

Don’t fall for Coronavirus scams

Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous people who will prey on good citizens during a time of crisis. We are hearing stories in other cities of scammers taking advantage of people’s fears and anxiety related to Conroavirus.

Therefore, we must all be vigilant to protect ourselves and our family members to Coronavirus Scams.

Here are some examples of potential scams to be aware of and what you can do to protect yourself.

1) Phone solicitations for donations from unfamiliar groups. If someone is claiming to be from a reputable organization is pressuring you to make a donation, that should be a signal to you that they are not legitimate. Do not talk to them or answer any questions. Never give out your social security number or banking information. If you want to make a charitable donation to a charity you are comfortable with, seek them out by visiting their official website.

2) Robocalls – Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from scam Coronavirus treatments to selling protective gear. Hang up the phone immediately. Do not press any buttons.

3) Emails and online ads about Coronavirus vaccines: Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. There currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure Coronavirus.

4) Know who you’re buying from. Online sellers may claim to have in-demand products, like cleaning, household, and health and medical supplies when, in fact, they don’t. Or, they may be charging exorbitant pricing. We anticipate the supply chains for these products to normalize soon and you will be able to buy these products in Natchitoches Parish from your trusted local businesses.

5) Don’t respond to texts and emails about money from the government. Anyone who tells you they can get you your refund or stimulus money is a scammer. Information regarding financial assistance from the federal government will be communicated to you by mail from the US Treasury.

6) Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying they have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the http://ldh.la.gov/Coronavirus/.

If someone has attempted to solicit you as described above, please forward the information to NPDA@10jda.org. We will follow up if needed. If you feel you are a victim of a scam, please call (318) 357-2214.

Thank you for helping us prevent crisis-related scams.
District Attorney Billy Joe Harrington

“…and Bears, Oh My!” The Natchitoches Bear Hunt is On!

The past few days have seen an explosion of the bear and other animal populations in our area. Bears have been spotted by keen eyed hunters of all ages in every part of the city. No need to call out Animal Control however, the Bear Hunt has been organized to help keep youngsters occupied while schools are closed during the Corona situation.

This delightful idea has spread all over the country, and other nations, as people place stuffed bears and other animals in their windows for passing children to “hunt” as they go outside with their parents. It is a great way for the whole family to have fun together while being safe.

The Natchitoches Parish Journal gave it a try and spotted a number of bears as well as a rooster, several Easter bunnies and a few stuffed pigs. The bear hunts are a wonderful example of a community coming together in trying times.

Blessed….or Lucky?

By Reba Phelps

“As luck would have it”, is a phrase that I have mindlessly used many times. Or sometimes, if I am being dramatic I will say, “As fate would have it.” But, either of the two phrases that I choose to use at the given time are not being true to my deep spiritual roots.

The formal definition of luck is; the success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions. Force that brings good fortune or adversity. This, to me, sounds too random to be a good thing.

The key word in that definition that caused me to raise an eyebrow was the word, “apparently”. That word itself gives no guarantee.

With the events that have occurred in my own life, have always had me leaning towards the belief in divine intervention. Divine intervention and luck are horses of two different colors.

I truly believe that Google said it best. “Being blessed means there are people who care about you. Being lucky means you are controlled not cared for. Being blessed means handwork through out the life. Being lucky means you don’t know how to work hard to achieve things”.

Blessings and luck will be always be debated depending upon where your faith lies. I always find it humorous when people post on Facebook about being “lucky”… it takes three milli-seconds for a well-meaning but sassy Christian to come back with a spiritual correction. You are, “blessed”, and not “lucky”.

The more time I spend studying the Bible and growing spiritually I realize that for me, there is no such thing as luck. Luck is the most random thing that can happen to you. You didn’t earn it, you are not favored and pure luck can happen to anyone. In my eyes it is almost admitting that God is not in charge of our daily lives and does not have his hand on every single event that may or may not befall us.

There is no way that luck brought me two of the most healthy and amazing daughters that someone could ask for. There is no way luck would bring me a career that has been completely fulfilling. Then, place me in a position where I can comfortably take care of my daughters as a single mom. Luck doesn’t favor me so deeply that I am still able to give of my time, talent and occasionally, money to the less fortunate or charity.

Luck did not grant my family twenty additional years with my mom after her health took a sharp turn for the worse. Luck didn’t save and redeem my father when he was headed for a life of crime and poverty. Luck didn’t place my dad in a rural church with a small congregation that would support him and his family for 30 years.

Luck doesn’t care that much. Luck is not that invested in you. No ones luck can be that consistent day in and day out.

But….my God is that consistent.

Whether you choose to feel blessed or you choose to feel lucky, you will always get back what you put into this world. If you sow seeds of generosity, joy, peace and happiness you, and your children, will surely receive that back. If you choose to sow seeds of greed, sadness, despair and discontentment then you, and your children, will surely receive that right back, multiplied.

But, as for me and my house we will always choose to be blessed over being lucky.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.” – Jeremiah 17:7

Doctors and staff strive to maintain community health in safe ways

During the Coronavirus outbreak, staff at Barnum Internal Medicine at the Natchitoches Medical Specialists building on Keyser Avenue created a drive thru testing area to see patients outside the office. Louisiana is projected to be the next New York when it comes to the current coronavirus outbreak. However, Louisiana’s patient demographic is completely different. Being mostly rural, residents don’t have access to care like in NYC or other large cities.

“We are trying to address these needs,” said Dr. Meg Barnum “We have moved quickly to react and adjust to meet the medical needs of the community in this crisis. I am all about community health.”

One way Dr. Barnum’s office is protecting community health is with Telehealth virtual office visits through Aledade, which started offering a comprehensive telehealth solution on March 20 so physicians across the nation can offer patients timely telehealth visits. In just three days, more than 150 practices implemented the platform.

“We’ve done a few FaceTime appointments already,” said Dr. Barnum. “We’re calling people who are scheduled for visits and utilizing the telehealth platform to keep them at home if possible. We want to minimize the spread of this virus to our healthcare professionals and our patients.”

Clinical Pathology Laboratories, located in the Natchitoches Medical Specialists building, has been instrumental with the COVID 19 swabbing.

This is all totally new territory for those in the health care industry.

“There’s a big difference in how we’re viewing health care now,” said Registered Nurse Dana Cox. LPN TyCianna Caldwell agreed. “It’s scary how fast it’s spreading. Several weeks ago we started to hear about the coronavirus in other parts of the world and then, bam, it’s here.”

The office staff and doctors are also trying to stay up-to-date on all information pertaining to the virus. “I listen to the President’s press conferences and podcasts that discuss breaking news in the world and US,” said Dr. Barnum. “I also tell patients besides not touching their nose and eyes, they should call their pharmacy and get a 90 day supply of their routine meds. They can fill them early. 80% of all generics come from China and India and now India is in a countrywide lockdown.”

A side effect of the outbreak is a lack of supplies, particularly face masks. The office has face shields ordered, but they won’t be in soon enough.

“Through all of this our main goal is helping maintain the health of our community,” said Dr. Barnum.

If you’re exhibiting symptoms and want to schedule a drive up test call 318-352-9880.


A young lady from Powhatan suffered moderate injuries in a single-vehicle crash on La. Hwy 480 north of Campti on Thursday morning according to the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office.

This morning at approximately 11:17am, Deputies assigned to the NPSO Patrol Division, Louisiana State Police and Natchitoches Regional Medical Center EMS responded to a single-vehicle crash with injury in the 5300 block of La. Hwy 480 north of Campti, La.

Deputies say 23-year-old Donna Raye Hughes, of Powhatan operating a 2002 Acura was traveling westbound on La. Hwy 480 when she apparently lost control of the vehicle leaving the roadway on the right side striking a culvert, then a utility pole causing the vehicle to overturn in the ditch.

SWEPCO responded to the scene to replace and repair the utility pole and lines.

Hughes was transported from the scene to LSU Health Shreveport with moderate non-life threatening injuries.

Troopers assigned to LSP Troop-E Alexandria worked the crash.

Ponderings with Doug – March 26, 2020

My life is in a box.

I’m not referring to a psychological block or an emotional downturn. I’m speaking literally.

The process of relocating to north Louisiana is in full box packing mode. The worse kind of moves are those where one does not fully pack. There is no moving company in my future for this move. No one to pack the boxes, lift the boxes or transport them. It is complicated further in that we are moving from a spacious house to the camp in Gibsland. The other complicating factor is the house was remodeled for two and now has three. We even downsized the doggy herd. Hazel is very happy in her new home!

A box is packed in Natchitoches and then arrives in Gibsland and the race is on to find a place for that box. It has become a maddening experience. The process has even invaded the office. I have the luxury of tons of bookshelf space at the church here. My new home has limited bookshelf space. Books are stuffed in every nook and cranny of the house. It looks like people are living in a library. I know we live in the world of Google, but I still want to hold a book and mark on the pages of the book. I am hanging on “to the way it used to be.” I have a zillion books that weigh tons. I will move every one of them.

I have checked to see how long the Corona can live on a box. My boxes are not practicing social distancing, but they are in quarantine. I have no place to move them yet. I have attached a picture of the books that will reside at the new church office.

The church in Natchitoches should soon know who the new pastor will be. Our official start date at the new church is July 1. Those of us who are moving this year are wondering if we will move and our new church will be closed for Sunday morning worship still. I used to have that nightmare, now it could be reality. You and I are living through something that is new for all of us.

Each time I walk in my office or into the house here, I am reminded that my life is in a box. We are moving. It is a sad time but an exciting time. My bride is already working toward house breaking me again. It is a painful process of folding things and putting them away. I will make it. The new church has three services. I am used to that. Two of the services happen at the same time. I wonder if I can learn rollerskates?

We are all experiencing the box. We are boxed out of our normal habits. We are confined to our homes. We are not sure how we feel about this virus-imposed box, but it is necessary to protect human life. The virus is about to meet a Louisiana summer and I know who will win that battle. As the writer of Ecclesiastes should have said, “This too shall pass.”

We will unpack, modify some of our social customs and be about life again.
In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy Natchitoches and will pack another box or two. Next week, I’m shoving my computer in a box. This will be my final installment of this article. I have enjoyed it! You have taught me way more than I gave to you. Because of the cross connections between Bienville, Lincoln and Natchitoches Parishes, I can almost guarantee you that I will be back.

Northwestern State adds Schwager as director of strength and conditioning

After spending more than four years at Newberry College, Eric Schwager has joined the Northwestern State Athletic Department as its director of strength and conditioning.

Schwager comes to NSU after serving as the director of strength, conditioning and athletic performance at Newberry College where he helped the Wolves capture the 2016 Southern Atlantic Conference football championship.

At Newberry, Schwager was in charge of a 22-sport program and directly designed and implemented all facets of strength and conditioning for the Wolves’ football, women’s soccer and softball programs while managing a staff of three assistants.

Schwager’s hire is subject to approval of the Board of Supervisors of the University of Louisiana System, of which Northwestern State is a member.

“What I like most about Erik, among his many qualities, is the fact he wants to be here, and he is hitting the ground running,” said Director of Athletics Greg Burke. “His social media posts outlining ‘Stay at Home’ workout concepts reflect the level of dedication he has and will continue to have when our student-athletes return to campus. We all look forward to having Erik and his wife, Ashley, join the NSU Demon family.”

Schwager comes to Natchitoches with a varied background that includes stops at Hartford, where he worked with Major League Baseball first-round selection Sean Newcomb, Limestone College and with the Batavia Muckdogs, a Class A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.

He also has experience at Princeton, Michigan State and South Florida and was the owner and director of H.I.T. Advanced Training, LLC.

“There was a sense of a family atmosphere,” Schwager said. “Mr. Burke and everyone has been so helpful. I heard great things about the program and the direction of the school. It intrigued me to come down here.

“(Former director of strength and conditioning Jared Myatt) told me I would love it. He said they have great athletic programs, and his experience here was amazing. Thus far, it’s lived up to the hype even if I’m not on campus. The kids and coaches are great. I can’t wait to get them in the weight room.”

Schwager’s background made him an attractive replacement for Myatt, who is now at Texas Tech.

“The versatility of his background and obvious passion for strength and conditioning will be contagious with our student-athletes in every sport,” said Burke, who noted the committee included a member of the athletic training staff as well as a male and female student-athlete. “He articulated a solid, but flexible, approach to sports performance that made a very positive impression on the hiring committee for this position.”

Schwager is a 2009 graduate of Lock Haven University and earned his master’s from California University of Pennsylvania in 2012.

He is a National Strength and Conditioning Association certified strength and conditioning specialist, a National Speed and Explosion Association certified speed specialist and the NASE state director for Connecticut, a National Academy of Sports Medicine PES certified performance enhancement specialist and is CPR/AED certified.

Capitol Briefing: Gabe Firment

Much has changed in the world since the last edition of the Capitol Briefing ran on March 11, 2020. The first case of the Coronavirus in Louisiana was reported in New Orleans on March 9th, and by March 24th that number had risen to 1,388 confirmed cases with 46 deaths and officials warning that we should expect the virus to continue to spread throughout the state with the possibility that our healthcare system could be stretched to the breaking point by this unprecedented viral outbreak. In response to the rapid growth of the virus Gov. Edwards has issued multiple emergency proclamations, including a “Stay at Home” Order on March 22nd effectively requiring all citizens to shelter in place at home and closing or restricting all non-essential businesses.

As I began contemplating how to cram all of the relevant facts, figures, dates, projections, and potential impacts of the Coronavirus into this short little article, I was struck with my first case of “writer’s block” and was momentarily overwhelmed by the apparent immensity of the crisis we are facing. In my frustration I backed away from the keyboard and looked out my office window to see the morning sun peaking above the treetops and its soft rays beginning to burn through the fog that had drifted in during the dark of night.

The radiance of the sunlight piercing the morning fog also served to burn away the haze that I had allowed to temporarily cloud my mind, and I immediately recalled that there are certain absolute truths that guide us throughout life’s ups and downs. The rising of the sun reminded me of a beautiful passage of scripture from Isaiah 45:6-7, “The words of the prophet Isaiah – that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the Lord, who does all these things.

These are uncertain and anxious times we are living in, but we can take comfort in knowing that God is on His throne, and that for those who love God all things work together for good. I have been encouraged and inspired to see how our communities have come together to help one another over the past couple of weeks, and it is my hope and prayer that this spirit of unity will continue once the virus abates and life returns to normal. Please join me in doing what we can to minister to the needs of those most vulnerable to the Coronavirus, and together we can emerge from this momentary crisis stronger and more united than ever before.

My office located at 181 Barron Road in Pollock is still open, although we have temporarily decreased our hours to comply with the governor’s recommendations. If you need assistance or have questions about the Coronavirus crisis or any other issue please call the office at (318)765-9606 or call/text my personal cell at (318)201-6769. I am providing COVID-19 updates multiple times per day on my Facebook page @GabeFirment22, and there is a great deal of information available from the state at http://ldh.la.gov/Coronavirus/. Thank you and God Bless!

NSU business professor wins award for research on student-faculty communication

Dr. Eddie Horton, assistant professor in Northwestern State University’s Department of Computer Information Systems, won the Distinguished Paper Award

presented at the Association of Business Information Systems/Federation of Business Disciplines. Horton collected the award at the FBD conference in San Antonio earlier this month prior to social distancing.

“My paper focused on the issues students and faculty have in communication and what are some things that can be done,” he explained. “Essentially, findings are that faculty still prefer face to face and phone conversations where students overwhelmingly prefer email or some other form of asynchronous communication.”

Horton holds the deVargas, LaCaze and Pierson Endowed Professorship of Business at NSU and is vice president of the Association of Business Information Systems.

Current events brought the topic into sharp relevance as NSU will operate with online and alternate coursework delivery for the remainder of the semester amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Horton said students and faculty will be forced to be more flexible and the university could consider a policy in which students and faculty respond to emails within a specified time period.

“Faculty have to be more diligent in emails and students have to increase other methods of communication,” he said. “In light of all the recent events, I’d like to conduct the study again in about a year, and see if this forced online time changed any perceptions,” Horton said.

NSU’s Computer Information Systems program offers curricula leading to the Bachelor of Science degree in CIS. The program is offered on-campus in Natchitoches, online and in a competency-based format through Electronic and Continuing Education. CIS classes are also streamed to the Leesville/Fort Polk, Alexandria and Barksdale campus each semester.

For information on CIS at Northwestern State, visit https://www.nsula.edu/computer-information-systems/.

Notice of Death – March 26, 2020

McKinner Dixon
July 25, 1943 – March 19, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Samuel Lowdermilk
May 04, 1920 – March 19, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Loy Russell Gaar
April 29, 1925 – March 22, 2020
Service: Saturday, March 28 at 11:30 am at New Hope Cemetery