Early Voting – as of 06-25-20

Early Voting for the July 11, 2020 Election as of the Close-Of-Business on Thursday, June 25, 2020

TOTALS In Person Mail In
1,492 883 609

752 694 46

  • As reported by the Secretary of State

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If You Give a Girl a Margarita

By Reba Phelps

One of my favorite books to read to my girls when they were younger was, “If you give a mouse a cookie.” Thanks to semi-annual Scholastic Book Fairs, grandparents with extra cash, and book hoarding daughters, the collection quickly grew to include all of the books in this series.

To be honest, I am fairly certain that I enjoyed this circular tale more than my children did. It tells the story of what happens when you give a mouse a cookie. He will then need milk. He will need a straw. He will need a mirror to keep the milk mustache away. You see where this is going. It offered hours and hours of giggles. It was a far fetched tale but oh so entertaining.

This is the only analogy that I can use to compare my love for margaritas and my personal choice to limit my intake of them.

If you give a girl a margarita, she cannot drink just one. They are an economical choice when they marketed as two for one. Why would I order a margarita and not drink its mate that is actually free? Two by two…Just like the animals who entered the ark in pairs, they belong together.

If you give a girl a margarita, she will not want the second one to go to waste. Dave Ramsey would be so disappointed if she was wasteful. His envelope system clearly covers all of the categories where a margarita could be included. Restaurants. Personal. Entertainment. Gifts. Yes, margaritas are a gift.

He totally wants us to enjoy that second margarita.

If you give a girl a margarita it will cause her to lose her dietary inhibitions. The chips and salsa become calorie-fee and there is always an endless supply. When the margaritas kick in and start doing what too many margaritas do…Multitudes of calories are consumed and they are typically shaped like tacos and tamales.

If you give a girl three margaritas it may as well be four. Two by two, see above. They should be consumed in pairs. Unless you are consuming the twenty-dollar margaritas at a popular place in Shreveport…then it’s only one and not purchased in pairs or fours.

If you give a girl four margaritas then surely she will lose her ability to make good decisions and will need a ride home. The drinks will also cause a girl to get louder and possibly annoying to those around her.These four drinks on a Saturday night will make the face puffy and the crows feet deep. So, you might as well skip Sunday morning worship all together.

You can see how my single and innocent margarita can quickly turn into a whole weekend of bad decisions and skipping time with the Lord. Am I blaming alcohol? No, I am blaming my weakness and not knowing when to stop. I really truly believe in my own soul that God does not frown upon the consumption and moderation of alcohol.

I just had problems with the moderation part.

This is where my Catholic, Non-denominational, and Baptist roots would all collide. Having a diverse spiritual background does cause you a certain amount of angst and can create the perfect cocktail of guilt for many different reasons. Do I drink or not drink? Do I eat meat on Fridays during Lenten Season or not?

All of the rules just seemed so burdensome, especially when there are so many to follow. I came to a point where I had to start fully trusting the words I was reading in the Bible for myself. Trying to be perfect and holy is a full-time job with no overtime pay.

Since my commitment to have a better relationship with Christ, it was not a tough decision to make to greatly reduce the amount of lime juice, Tequila and Triple Sec that was allowed in my diet. I was consuming the massive amounts for all of the wrong reasons. I used it as a way to forget my troubles and enjoy the moment. I did not want to think about what tomorrow held.

The more I fall in love with our maker, I know that he holds our tomorrow, he orders our steps and he equips us with every single thing we need to make it through the day.

“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your path straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

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By Pastor Tommy Rush, First Baptist Church

Most people enjoy being around positive people more than those who are mostly negative. Personally, I’ve come to treasure friends and neighbors who focus on finding the good in situations. It can be a challenge to spend time with a person who stays constantly focused on everything that’s bad. We’ve all heard that it takes twice as many face muscles to frown as it does to smile. I confess that sometimes it’s easy to fall into the griping and complaining mode. I’m grateful for my wife, who has the gift of calling me out when that happens. She loves to say, “Build a bridge and get over it.” She also reminds me and my grandchildren that God wants us to “rise and shine” everyday, not “rise and whine.”

It can be difficult sometimes maintaining a positive attitude. It helps when we have positive people in our life to challenge and inspire us. A young boy came home from school one day and told his mother, “Mama, I think I failed my math test today.” His mother tried to encourage him to be more positive. She said, “Son, you’ve got to stop being so negative and think positively.” He replied. “Ok, I’m positive I failed my math test today.” Negative people are whipped before they ever start something because they only see the problems. People who are always negative usually look for something to be negative about. They see the difficulty in every opportunity and the dark cloud in every silver lining.

A positive person does not deny the reality of real problems. If you’re alive you know that no one is exempt from pain and problems in this world. The difference between the person who’s positive and the one who’s negative is in focus and choices. You can never see the sun rise by looking west. Make sure you are focused in the right direction. We can actually choose to see the bright side. We can choose to pursue what will bring successful results. We can choose solutions and options rather than focus on the problem. We can choose to speak a positive word, no matter how negative the circumstance.

A little girl walked into a church and saw a huge cross hanging on the wall. She told her Daddy that it was the biggest plus sign she had ever seen. Every christian knows that the cross is our best reminder to stay positive. Why? It’s where we all find grace and peace!

Goodness Gracious,

Pastor Tommy

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Dr. Michael Snowden selected as NSU’s VP of Diversity and Inclusion

Dr. Michael Snowden has been selected vice president for Diversity and Inclusion at Northwestern State University. Snowden’s appointment was approved by the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System on June 25.

A veteran administrator and student advocate in higher education with over 20 years of professional experience, Snowden will have a leadership role in creating and coordinating programs and initiatives that will lead to intensified recruitment of African American employees in prominent positions on the faculty and staff and minority students to provide expanded participation and leadership in student government and other organizations and activities at the university.

Snowden is passionate about providing quality leadership in the inclusion space and he has been embraced by senior leadership at Northwestern State.

“This is an exciting time for change in this country,” he said. “I want to remove visible and covert barriers to success, whether that is hosting events that show support for students, having the tough conversations about marginalization, privilege or bias and fostering support for faculty recruitment of underrepresented populations. One of the new terms that has been embraced by the inclusion community is belonging. I want the Center for Inclusion and Diversity to be the leader in ‘belonging.’”

“Northwestern State University established the position of vice president for Diversity and Inclusion as part of ongoing efforts to ensure fairness, inclusivity and equity in every aspect and endeavor of our university,” said NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio. “Dr. Snowden joins NSU with vast experience in fostering an inclusive campus environment, advocating for equity among students, faculty and staff and opening pathways for discussion, learning and understanding among diverse student populations.”

Snowden comes to NSU from McNeese State University where he served as chief diversity officer, ADA coordinator, Title IX coordinator and director of Office of Inclusive Excellence since 2011. In that role, he was responsible for establishing a strategic plan of operation for cultivating a campus culture that embraces diversity, enables inclusion and provides equity to all campus constituents. At McNeese Snowden managed the development and implementation of the affirmative action plan, provided leadership of the university’s equity and inclusion policies for employees with disabilities, anti-bullying, prohibition against retaliation, the Vets 100 report and other requirements related to Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) policies.

At McNeese, Snowden also managed Title IX administration and compliance with federal and state regulations, served as a diversity trainer for the campus, investigated complaints of discrimination and provided counsel to the president and upper administration. During his tenure he initiated a name change from Office of Equal Opportunity to Office of Inclusive Excellence and established equity and inclusion initiatives such as the Black Faculty Staff Council, Foundations Accounts for Black Faculty Staff Council Initiative, training partnership with DiversityEdu and Bias Incident Report Mechanism.

Snowden was a member of the 2019 University of Louisiana Management and Leadership Institute and the 2013 Leadership Southwest Louisiana Class.

Prior to joining the staff at McNeese, Snowden was director of Multicultural Affairs at Armstrong Atlantic State University (Georgia) from 1999-2011 where he promoted students’ understanding of culture and heritage, educated the campus community on issues of diversity and multiculturalism and created avenues for students to gain understanding of their own culture and heritage. He also implemented the Minority Student Leadership Summit and programs for history focus months, including African American and Native American history.

Snowden served as educational coordinator at University of Minnesota Morris from 1997-99 and was a graduate assistant in the Office of Disability Services at the University of Southern Mississippi from 1994-97.

Snowden earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with emphasis in human resources, a Master of Education in educational administration and leadership with an emphasis in higher education and a Doctor of Philosophy in education administration with an emphasis in higher education, all from the University of Southern Mississippi. His dissertation was titled “A Comparative Analysis: African American Students’ Perspectives on Collegial Experiences in Historically Black and Historically White Colleges and Universities in Mississippi.”

Snowden is certified in numerous standards and practices related to diversity in higher education, ADA compliance, investigating faculty misconduct and Title IX. Throughout his career he has been involved in service to universities by chairing and holding membership in advisory committees, task forces and review boards focused on retention of minority students, compliance for students with disabilities and promotion of multicultural affairs. He holds membership in numerous professional organizations that provide resources for access, equity and diversity in higher education, has published articles on related topics and presented at conferences around the country, most recently at the past two UL System “For Our Future” Conferences.

Snowden is married to LaRona Johnson Snowden, is dad to three children Carolyn, Jason and Alan and has a dog, Beaux. In his spare time, he lifts weights and listens to audio books.

“I don’t think this job is easy, but, I welcome the challenge of being a transformational figure in the ‘New Normal’ of inclusion, equity and diversity,” Snowden said. “In closing, Fork ‘Em Demons.”

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Rhodes Realty continues to expand with new office location in Monroe

Rhodes Realty is excited to announce its expansion into North Louisiana by opening a new office in Monroe.

After joining the Rhodes team near the end of 2019, the Monroe office’s Team Leader, Stacy Wright, said she’s excited about this new start for her and this new journey she’s taking with Rhodes Realty and the agents she’s working with.

Stacy started her career in real estate over 15 years ago. Her background includes a degree in Business Management, Tax Advisory, Decorative Design, Art, Organization Skills and Residential Contractor/Construction Services.

Stacy is passionate about redefining real estate by offering a superior level of service, innovative marketing and a highly personalized, business-style experience to her clientele.

“Rhodes has given me the ability to grow my knowledge within the real estate industry even more,” she said. “I can then use that knowledge to help the community and home buyers.”

Born and raised in Monroe, Stacy is committed to the philosophies of honesty, integrity and professionalism. In her free time she enjoys family activities and being a mother, wife and grandmother. She also enjoys art, volunteering with local communities helping children, horseback riding and fitness.

“Monroe offers a lot to me,” she said. “It’s got that great Southern friendliness Louisiana is known for. Everything Monroe has going for it from the colleges and jobs, to the wonderful small business opportunities, makes selling a home here so much easier.”

And the city is still growing, as is the Rhodes Realty team. What started with one agent has grown to four and they’re still looking to add to the team.

“Expanding is in our DNA at Rhodes Realty, and we look forward to serving the Monroe community on a larger scale with our new brick and mortar location,” said Rhodes Realty CEO Rodrick McIntosh. “With strong Team Leaders like Stacy it really helps make this process seamless! We couldn’t do it without our strong Team Leads and Agents who make it all possible.”

The Monroe location will hold a grand opening celebration in the near future. Their doors however, are always open to anyone looking to join the Rhodes team or purchase a property.

“We’re very dedicated to taking care of our agents and maintaining their success so they can achieve their future goals,” said Stacy. “We want to make sure our agents grow. It’s not just about the dollar. It’s about making sure everyone is happy including our agents, their families and our clients. It’s not one of us. It’s all of us.”

The Monroe office is located at 1900 Auburn Avenue, Suite H in Monroe. For more information call 318-238-3733. Other Rhodes Realty locations include Natchitoches, Shreveport, Lafayette, Alexandria, Pineville and Ruston.

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I am writing this letter to express my disappointment in Rep. Schamerhorn’s vote on Wednesday against House Bill 71.

HB 71 provides a one-time death benefit to the surviving spouse and children of a healthcare worker who died prior to June 5, 2020 because of Covid-19. The benefit is limited to three times the yearly salary of the healthcare worker or $150,000, whichever is less.

Doctors and nurses all across our State are putting their life at risk to go to work during this pandemic in order to treat people in our community. Many of these healthcare workers were forced to go to work without adequate personal protective equipment. Tragically, some of those healthcare workers sacrificed their life to do their job. The very least we can do to honor those healthcare workers who gave the ultimate sacrifice to our State is to try and ease, even a little, the financial impact on their families due to their death.

34 members of the Louisiana House of Representatives voted against HB 71. It is embarrassing that one of those Representatives represents part of Natchitoches Parish. On the other hand, I was proud of Representative Firment’s vote in favor of HB 71.

Just last month, Rep. Schamerhorn voted to give over $100 million in tax relief to oil and gas companies in Louisiana because of the impact Covid-19 on the oil and gas industry. I am not suggesting our State should not help the oil and gas industry get through this difficult situation. But if we can find the money to give the Chevron’s and Exxon’s of the world a tax cut of over $100 million, surely we can find $150,000 for the children and surviving spouses of healthcare workers who lost their life fighting this terrible virus.

Jared Dunahoe

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Public Notice: Cane River Lake Fireworks

There will be fireworks held on Cane River Lake on July 4, 2020 at about 9:00 pm

During restricted times for fireworks no boats will be permitted to park and/or operate within the safety zone area. Yellow buoys mark the safety zone area. For more information about Cane River Lake laws visit http://www.caneriverwaterway.com. On the home page click on the Commission tab, in the drop down box click ordinances. Please follow all enforcement request.

Cane River Lake is now at 98.0 MSL (pool stage)

Contact Betty Fuller 318-617-3235 for more information. Remember to boat safe, sober, and always wear your life jackets.

Betty Fuller
CRWC Administrator

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Effective July 1, 2020, the Parish Landfill will only accept payments via check, money order, and credit or debit card. All major cards will be accepted. No cash will be accepted for dumping of non-household refuse. Parish residents will still be able to dump household trash at the landfill free of charge.

Questions about the new Landfill payment policy can be directed to the Solid Waste Department at (318) 238-3704.

New concentration for Doctor of Nursing Practice program approved

Northwestern State University has received approval from the Louisiana State Board of Nursing to add of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Nurse Anesthesia concentration to NSU’s current DNP program.

“The DNP-Nurse Anesthesia concentration was created in response to a request from our numerous community partners who said ‘we need CRNAs, can you please help?,’’’ said Dean of the College of Nursing and School of Allied Health Dr. Dana Clawson. “We began working to make this concentration a reality. It was a team effort between our talented faculty and committed community partners.”

Clawson said NSU and its clinical partners have invested over $4 million into the BSN to DNP-NA program, the first in the University of Louisiana System, to better serve northern and central Louisiana’s healthcare needs, and to keep the best and brightest BSN graduates from leaving Louisiana to attend out-of-state colleges to obtain this degree.

“Throughout its history, Northwestern State’s nursing program has played a leadership role on the state and national level,” said Northwestern State President Dr. Chris Maggio. “Our nursing faculty have always sought ways to better serve the health care needs of north and central Louisiana. This innovative BSN to DNP-NA program will provide new opportunities for our students and allow us to meet the needs of our partners throughout the region.”

The BSN to DNP Nurse Anesthesia concentration will provide baccalaureate prepared registered nurses doctorate-level education focused on the advanced practice role of nurse anesthetist. The BSN to DNP program admission cycle is now open with the deadline for completed applications is August 1, according to Dr. Aimee Badeaux, director of doctoral studies and nurse anesthesia program coordinator.

The BSN to DNP program is nine semesters in length and the first two semesters are delivered completely online, allowing the student to remain in practice as a nurse during program enrollment.

For more than 70 years, NSU has been a leader in partnering with clinical agencies to meet healthcare and workforce needs. In 1950, NSU took several failing hospital diploma nursing programs in northwest Louisiana and moved them into the collegiate setting, where they thrived. Today, according to Badeaux, Northwestern State is providing doctorate nursing programs that produce healthcare professionals who are educationally prepared at the highest practice level to care for Louisiana’s citizens.

The BSN to DNP Nurse Anesthesia concentration is currently under eligibility review by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA) and will undergo an onsite accreditation visit in October 2020.

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Guidance outlines how systems can safely serve Louisiana’s children
amid various phases of COVID-19 pandemic

BATON ROUGE, La. — In partnership with the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) and the Resilient Louisiana Commission, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) released guidance today for how schools across the state can reopen for the 2020-2021 school year by taking actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

While each district will ultimately decide how schools will operate, the guidelines offer best practices that encourage districts to prepare for three possible reopening scenarios: traditional, hybrid or distance/remote learning. In addition, they explain how health requirements will change based on the three reopening phases. The resource offers an outline for what to expect and how to respond to a COVID-19 positive or presumptive positive case on campus.

“We developed this guidance by engaging experts on the virus – public health officials – and experts on what this guidance looks like when put into practice – school leaders and educators,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley. “We understand next year will be a new challenge for all of us as we educate through COVID-19. I have confidence in our collective talents to overcome these challenges. We will depend on each other for innovative ideas, best practices and the promise of a quality education for every child.”

Strong Start 2020: Guidelines and Resources for School Reopening (link to the guidelines here) is available now on the LDOE website and includes a number of guidelines and best practices for districts including the following:

Bus capacity and student group size
Student symptom monitoring
Face coverings
Food prep and meal service

The LDH memorandum outlines baseline health and safety requirements for schools to follow when reopening facilities to students. The LDOE offers supportive guidance and resources for schools as they implement these health guidelines, as well as best practices for academic instruction. The resource also includes planning templates and reopening checklists for district leaders. The Department will also publish a running list of frequently asked questions and additional best practices on its website.

“Ensuring a strong start for students and educators this fall means equipping school districts with the resources they need to develop a solid reopening strategy,” said Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education President Sandy Holloway. “The tools and guidance released today, created in partnership with state health officials, will help school systems expand their existing academic plans to accommodate the operational changes necessitated by COVID-19 and strengthen the foundation for continuous learning going forward.”

Collaborative Process
The LDOE and LDH collaborated over the past month to develop these public health guidelines and best practices to support school reopening, building from previously released guidance for safely operating summer schools and camps. They earned approval from the Resilient Louisiana Commission and the LDH state health officer and assistant secretary.

Guidance for Safely Operating

The guidelines were developed with input from public health officials, education leaders, and other key stakeholders. That collaboration includes consultation with the Southern Regional Education Board, a superintendent’s advisory group of 13 district leaders from across the state, and a 20-member public health response team of medical professionals, public health officials and education leaders.

District and School Supports
Along with the resources released today, schools and districts will have access to additional support. The LDOE previewed the guidance for system leaders yesterday and will offer another similar webinar next week.

The LDOE is also partnering with Children’s Hospital New Orleans to offer a hotline and regular town hall webinars for educators. The hotline will be staffed by skilled nurses who can advise school staff on medical questions about students and team members related to COVID-19. School nurses and other school administrators can call 504-837-7760 weekdays from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and weekends from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

In the town hall webinars, experts will discuss topics like COVID-19 transmission basics, preventative measures and sanitation best practices, and additional tips for guideline implementation. There will also be an opportunity for open Q&A. These will be offered every two weeks starting in July. While the hotline and town hall webinars are for education professionals, Children’s Hospital New Orleans currently offers online COVID-19 resources for families and is developing additional family supports.

This is the latest resource the Department has provided districts to help ensure a Strong Start to the 2020-2021 school year for every student. A suite of resources were released in May, which ranged from diagnostic assessments and mental health supports to services for diverse learners and teacher training.

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Campbell Awards $1.2 Million in Grants to Area Governments

Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell is awarding more than $1.2 million in grants to local governments and parish school systems in Northwest Louisiana to promote energy efficiency.

Energy upgrades funded by the grants include high-efficiency LED lights in buildings operated by local public agencies.

“These improvements will lower electric bills by thousands of dollars for these public institutions,” Campbell said.

The LPSC Energy Efficiency program for public entities and political subdivisions is an offshoot of the commission’s “Quick Start” Energy Efficiency program, which since 2013 has helped residential and commercial utility customers lower their electricity consumption across Louisiana. Participating utilities are SWEPCO, Entergy and CLECO.

“Energy Efficiency is a cost-effective way to reduce energy costs, improve building comfort and preserve our environment,” Campbell said. “Every dollar that our local governments and public bodies save on their electric bills is a dollar that can help them improve service to the public in other ways.”

The recipients of Campbell’s 2020 efficiency grants for Northwest Louisiana public institutions are:

· Caddo Parish School Board: $455,250
· Town of Vivian: $39,893
· Town of Oil City: $25,855
· City of Bossier City: $350,000
· The Port of Caddo-Bossier: $85,000
· Town of Logansport: $14,186
· Town of Stonewall: $67,290
· Village of Pleasant Hill: $9,919
· Caddo Parish Fire District 8: $60,348
· Village of Converse: $2,500
· Village of Natchez: $75,000
· Village of Ida: $19,941
· Village of Hosston: $3,702

Funding for the LPSC Energy Efficiency program for public entities comes from a surcharge on electric bills paid by cities, parishes and other political subdivisions served by SWEPCO, Entergy and CLECO. Campbell announced $1 million in 2020 efficiency grants to Northeast Louisiana local governments on Monday in Monroe.

The next round of LPSC District 5 grants will be awarded in 2021. The deadline for applying is January 31, 2021.

For more information, contact Gary Hobbs in Campbell’s LPSC District 5 office in Shreveport, 318-676-7464.

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Rain reschedules annual Cane River sign delivery day

Weather interrupted Thursday’s Vic The Demon Ride Around and Yard Sign Delivery Day necessitating a new date for the Northwestern State Athletic Department’s annual Cane River Lake sign delivery tour.

NSU coaches and staff members now will make their annual sojourn down the river Tuesday, June 30, beginning at 2 p.m. An additional trip for season-ticket holders who live along Sibley Lake also is scheduled the same day.

The group will take several boats down Cane River Lake distributing ALL IN yard signs along with NSU season-ticket holder yard signs, alerting fans to the Sept. 3 start of the 2020 football season. Northwestern State hosts Southland Conference foe Incarnate Word that night in Turpin Stadium.

If you are an NSU football season-ticket holder who lives on Cane River or on Sibley Lake and would like a yard sign placed in your yard, contact Deputy Athletic Director Dr. Haley Taitano at 318-357-4278.

In addition to the ALL IN signs, season-ticket holder yard signs for those not participating in Tuesday’s drop-off day are available and can be secured at the NSU Athletics Fieldhouse upon renewal of a season-ticket purchase. Contact Mike Jacklich for season-ticket packages at 318-357-4268.

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Notice of Death – June 25, 2020

Rosa L. Baker
June 20, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Dorothy White Lindsey
February 16, 1926 to June 23, 2020
Service: will be held at Blanchard St. Denis Funeral Home on Saturday June 27, 2020.
Visitation: 1:00 PM with services beginning at 2:00 PM. Reverend Tommy Rush will officiate. A graveside service will follow at Liberty Baptist Cemetery in Martin, Louisiana.

Rev. James Wright Simons
March 22, 1925 – June 22, 2020
Service: Saturday, June 27 at 10 am at Hebron Baptist Church in Sikes

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Natchitoches Parish School District shares information on its Covid protocol

Because of numerous positive Covid cases around the state relating to students participating in summer activities on school campuses the Natchitoches Parish School Board felt the need to share some information with the Natchitoches community concerning its Covid protocol.

The School Board can neither confirm nor deny whether any of its staff members have tested positive for Covid due to HIPPA’s Privacy rule. In the event it does happen, the employee would report his/her positive case/symptoms to their principal. The principal would then immediately call School Board Human Resources Director Linda Paige, who is the point of contact for all Covid matters. Paige would then call the Office of Public Health who would ask a series of questions and make the determination to the School Board as to who gets quarantined and who doesn’t based on if people were wearing PPE, social distancing, etc…

Superintendent Grant Eloi assures that they’ve had numerous meetings and sent out numerous emails with guidance for the proper protocol and preventative measures. All school leaders are aware of the situation and have made staff members still working at the schools aware of it as well. Eloi said the central office has been rigid with staff members about the procedure for if/when a positive case is identified.

“We want to be very transparent,” he said. “We want our policy to be followed by everybody. We are having daily conversations about this to keep it at the forefront of people’s minds.”

Superintendent Grant Eloi has issued an administrative directive regarding protocol for positive Covid-19 test results. Due to the presence of Covid-19, each employee of the Natchitoches Parish School Board will be required to follow set guidelines for reporting positive Covid-19 test results.

If I have tested positive for Covid-19, what should I do?
If an employee tests positive for Covid-19, they shall report their test results immediately to their immediate supervisor.

If an employee reports to me with positive test results, what should I do?
If an employee reports to you with positive results, you will immediately report to the Central Office HR personnel. The Central Office HR personnel will then notify the Department of Health.

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On behalf of the City of Natchitoches, Mayor Lee Posey would like to announce a McAlister’s Deli preferred developer is under contract to acquire and develop one of the outparcels at the Hobby Lobby development site.

Earlier this week, Mayor Posey confirmed to news media outlets Whataburger had signed a contract as well for a Natchitoches location adjacent to the Hobby Lobby site.

Mayor Posey stated, “This is just another step towards progress and the exciting things happening in the City Natchitoches. Natchitoches is on the map when it comes to site selectors and we hope more restaurants and retail businesses developers will invest and expand in the Natchitoches community.”

The City continues to be proactive in its efforts to further economic development in a growing community focused on our citizens’ futures.

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Whataburger comes to Natchitoches!

It’s official!!! The NPJ confirmed that a Whataburger is coming to Natchitoches. It will be located in front of the new Hobby Lobby, which is being constructed on Keyser Avenue, next to Chili’s and Ivan Smith Furniture.

Whataburger is an American privately held, regional fast food restaurant chain, headquartered and based in San Antonio, Texas, that specializes in hamburgers. The company, founded by Harmon Dobson and Paul Burton, opened its first restaurant in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1950.

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Health Department reports 1,356 new COVID-19 cases

The Louisiana Department of Health reports 1,356 COVID-19 cases reported to the state since June 22, bringing the total to 51,595 cases. Louisiana had the third largest single-week increase in cases last week, beaten only by the first two weeks of April during the upswing.

The vast majority (95%) of today’s increase in case growth is tied to community spread rather than congregate settings like nursing homes.

In terms of timeline, the specimen collection date of 97% of these cases ranges from June 15 to June 23, i.e., today’s big increase is not tied to a backlog.

The percent positivity of test results reported to the state is 7.6%; the federal goal is to keep this figure below 10%.

Unfortunately, LDH also reports an additional 17 COVID-19 deaths, bringing the state’s total to 3,021 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

“We are quite concerned by today’s COVID-19 numbers and the overall direction we are moving in,” said Dr. Alex Billioux, Assistant Secretary of the Office of Public Health. “What we are seeing appears to be connected to increased movement, a lot of which is probably related to further reopening of the economy and at least some individuals not adhering to recommended precautions. We are seeing significant COVID-19 spread related to people congregating in groups with little to no social distancing or masking. The largest increase in cases is among young adults.”

“We know many Louisianans are doing the right thing – and we thank them for it. As the Governor said yesterday, this is a deadly, highly contagious virus. It does not take many of us slipping up to spread quickly,” said Dr. Courtney Phillips, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health.

“Just because we are in Phase 2 does not mean there is no risk involved when we go out in public.

As more businesses open and more people leave their homes, it is more important now than ever to protect ourselves and others by masking up and staying 6 feet apart,” said Kimberly Robinson, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Revenue. “If you are walking into a business and you see others who are not wearing masks, you should walk right back out. From the person who collects the state’s money, I’m telling you to let your wallet talk.”

Employees are required to wear masks to protect patrons. LDH recommends against going to establishments where staff are not masking and advises patrons to wear masks to protect staff.

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An Uncomfortable Decision

By Gary McCollum/Opinion

On Monday, May 25th of this year a horrible crime occurred. The very next day the world witnessed the horrible crime, as the video went viral globally. George Floyd, a man in handcuffs, on the ground had a criminal (Derek Chauvin) acting as a police officer kneel on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds causing his death. The entire nation saw this and was shocked and mortified.

By Tuesday, the Minneapolis police chief, Medaria Arradondo, fired all four officers involved. It must be noted that Chauvin was a police officer with the Minneapolis Police Department for nearly 19 years.

About Derek Chauvin: He was the subject of at least eighteen complaints and only two were “closed with discipline,” according to a department internal affairs public summary. Chauvin was also assigned as a training officer to at least one of the three other officers involved. He was also a veteran of the Army where he served as a military policeman.

About the remaining officers involved: J. Alexander Kueng, 26, joined the Minneapolis police department as a cadet in February of 2019. This was his third shift as a police officer. He had no prior complaints. Chauvin was his training officer. Thomas Lane, 37, joined the Minneapolis police department as a cadet in February of 2019. This was his fourth day as a police officer, he had no prior complaints. Tou Thao, 34, had been a Minneapolis police officer since 2012. He had six complaints filed, one was unresolved, the other five were closed with no discipline.

Derek Chauvin, who has been charged with second-degree murder, says he killed Floyd “without intent” in the course of committing assault in the third degree.

J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao were each charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

Bail was set for $1 million each. Second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree murder are punishable by up to 40 years in prison. Manslaughter and aiding and abetting manslaughter are punishable by up to 10 years in prison

George Floyd was accused of attempting to use a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill. He remained at the scene in his vehicle just around the corner. He was removed from his vehicle, and initially resisted being handcuffed. He then was walked to the police car. When they attempted to put him in the squad car, Floyd stated at this time he could not breathe and was claustrophobic. He resisted by falling to the ground while in handcuffs to avoid getting put into the squad car. At one point he was almost in the patrol car with the aid of the other officers on scene, but Chauvin pulled him back out and he fell face first on the ground. Chauvin then placed his knee on Floyd’s neck. He was heard stating he could not breathe multiple times. George Floyd’s record or life choices don’t need to be debated. He should be alive today.

All four officers were discharged the day after the murder of George Floyd, but it took four days for the City of Minneapolis to file charges against them.

Hundreds of protestors came out on Tuesday night, May 26, and some demonstrators vandalized police vehicles with graffiti and targeted the precinct where the four officers were assigned. The outrage continued and spread nationwide. While many protests were peaceful, many were co-opted by instigators from outside the areas and supposedly some were members of the group “Antifa,” which President Trump wants to label as a domestic terrorist group.

In frustration with the blatant police abuse in the George Floyd case, the people protested. They deserved to protest. They need to be heard. If a citizen has a grievance with local, state, or federal laws, protesting is one of the most effective ways to have their voices heard and grievances addressed. There have been hundreds of protests across the world. Unfortunately, many of them have been co-opted by other organizations. A protest should never turn to violence. The destruction of public and personal property, the assaults on many people, including Law Enforcement officers, needs to stop. It takes away from the message.

On Friday, June 12 a 27-year-old black man named Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed by Atlanta police. This continued to fuel the narrative of police brutality against people of color.

People are protesting and rioting daily and the messages are disappearing. It started with wanting police reform, then defunding the police, creating a mini country in Seattle called “CHAZ”, later changed to CHOP. St. John’s Episcopal Church, also known as the church of the presidents, was burned. We now see the continuation of statue removal and vandalism. It’s gotten to the point that people have vandalized Ulysses S. Grant’s statue. He was the General who defeated the south and later became president. He continued his fight against inequality while in office his two terms.

BLM was a movement started in 2013 by Opal Tometi with love for what many called a hate crime, the tragic death of Trayvon Martin. It was locally and federally investigated and found that it was in fact self-defense. Patrisse Cullors and Alicia Garza became leaders because the hashtag was a good name and a good call to action. Many of BLM’s protests issues were debunked. Still I believe it had an honorable start but was later co-opted by socialists and Marxists. The leaders are admittedly Marxists. In a 2015 interview Patrisse Cullors stated, “Myself and Alicia in particular are trained organizers. We are trained Marxists. We are super-versed on, sort of, ideological theories,” adding that the group’s founders sought to “build a movement that could be utilized by many, many black folk.”

The newest figure to appear in leadership is the often outspoken and charismatic figure Shaun King. King has been involved in many questionable activities regarding his fundraising efforts for victims of crimes and has also been involved in falsely accusing state troopers of raping a woman until body cams provided evidence to the contrary. King has done some good for others but is a very controversial person. His most recent comments regard the statuary of “White Jesus” in some churches. Kings Twitter account posted this: “Yes, I think the statues of the white European they claim is Jesus should also come down. They are a form of white supremacy…Always have been. In the Bible, when the family of Jesus wanted to hide, and blend in, guess where they went? EGYPT! Not Denmark. Tear them down!”

Jesus wasn’t a Caucasian, he was Jewish with more than likely an olive complexion.

We’ve seen people first want to erase history with the removal of Confederate Statues. Then some groups wanted to tear down statues of our founding fathers. Even Columbus has been ostracized and his statue removal called for. Now King is calling not for the removal of statues of Jesus and his mother Mary, but for people to “tear them down.”

BLM was I believe originally founded with a pure purpose; I believe this has been taken over by Marxists who wish to tear down not only statuary but wish to tear apart America at any cost. They are telling us what they are planning. They are doing what they say. Is this about crimes against race or is it about control? We are being controlled by the media and they are saying we are divided. I agree with the proper enforcement of laws, judiciously. Equal rights for all. We know racism exists but we are the freest society in the world with the most opportunity. There have been policies put in place in the past that have assisted in creating wealth inequality. Even in the 40’s and 50’s under Jim Crow laws the African American community was building wealth much more than today. There are many issues we need to address and fortunately we are making continued strides to solve them.

Antifa, supposedly an anti-fascist movement has been identified in many of the riots rocking our nation. Involved in burning police cars, businesses, and tearing down statues. The problem is that they aren’t discriminant in which statues they wish to deface or remove. They have vandalized George Washington, Christopher Columbus and Ulysses S. Grant. A Texas Ranger Statue called “One Riot, One Ranger” was torn down in Dallas. They’ve vandalized a statue of Juan Ponce de Leon, even a statue of outspoken abolitionist Matthias Baldwin and John Greenleaf Whittier, who published the antislavery pamphlet “Justice and Expediency.” He was a founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society and signed the Anti-Slavery declaration of 1833. Some have considered this to be the climax to his life’s work. Even these have been defaced and damaged. So really, what is the agenda?

In a pair of statements, Attorney General William Barr described “antifa-like tactics” by out-of-state agitators and said Antifa was instigating violence and engaging in “domestic terrorism” and would be dealt with accordingly. Now Antifa frequently comes out during these protests and causes havoc and attempts to incite hatred. Funding is varied but many speculate billionaire George Soros is a primary source. In December of 2016, OCAD (organized communities against deportation) hosted a protest in Chicago to defund the police according to an article posted on the website of #not1more. Other activist groups participating in the protest were the “Black Youth Project,” “Fearless Leading the Youth,” “Palestinian Youth in Action,” “Centro Autonomo,” “Peoples Response Team,” and the “Chicago Religious Leadership Network.”

There have been sweeping changes in our country in part due to activists bringing issues to the forefront of our attention. Some of the changes recently are the “First Step Act” which shortens mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses. Beyond sentencing reform, the First Step Act includes provisions that will improve conditions for current prisoners and address several laws that increased racial disparities in the federal prison system from the “Crime Bill” enacted during the Clinton administration in 1994. Prior to the Covid-19 crisis, the USA had the lowest unemployment numbers in the history of our nation with wages climbing. There has also been historic funding for predominately black colleges.

It is time to stop the violence, it is time to stop the hate. Defunding or abolishing the police and ICE would have such a horrible effect on our society as a whole. It would send us back a 150 years. The people have been successful in their protests, but if it continues to go on they risk the loss of empathy they’ve gained from the world, let alone the politicians.

The President of the United States of America has heard the protesters. Municipal and state governments have heard the protesters. The White house has issued an executive order outlining many reforms, checks and balances and things that can help.

The issue with executive orders is the reforms asked for must be implemented at the local and state level. The federal government’s main function is to “ensure justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” (Source: Preamble of the Constitution of the United States of America)

Only the federal government can regulate interstate and foreign commerce, declare war and set taxing, spending and other national policies. These actions often start with legislation from Congress, made up of the 435-member House of Representatives and the 100-member U.S. Senate. The president or executive branch will sign legislation into law or can veto it. The President is also the Commander and Chief of the USA’s armed forces. The third branch of our government is the judicial and they are there to determine the constitutionality of laws.

I understand racism exists. It is an evil that should be called out on all sides. There is no magic pill to make it disappear. We can only strive together as brothers and sisters to overcome it. I love my town, I love my community. Love and peace are the strongest weapons we can use to affect change.

I wish to conclude by congratulating Natchitoches and all of Louisiana. You have shown the world that you can make your voices heard. You can effect change. You did it mostly with love and patience. Peace, love and blessings to all.

The views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Natchitoches Parish Journal.  If you have an article or story of interest for publishing consideration by the NPJ, please send it to NPJNatLa@gmail.com

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