Status of Parish Sales Tax fund in question

NPJ received a copy of a letter to Parish Council members regarding concerns that the 1 cent sales tax that supports both the Parish’s solid waste and highway departments will expire in just over a month. According to the Secretary of State’s website, Parish residents passed the tax proposition on October 2, 2010 with 56% of voters in favor of renewing the tax. At the time of its passing, the anticipated annual revenue of $1.83 million.

The first opportunity to put a proposition on the ballot is April 24th but the window of opportunity is quickly closing as the proposition must first be approved by the State Bond Commission. According to their website, all applications for the April election must be received by January 19, 2021. According to the Home Rule Charter, tax propositions must be approved by Ordinance, which must lay over at least four weeks from the date of introduction.

If the Parish cannot get a proposition on the April 24 ballot, the next opportunity is October 9 unless the Parish petitions to hold a special-called election. Should the Parish choose this route, it will bear the burden of paying for all costs associated with the election.

With the current tax expiring, any proposition put forth by the Parish to the voters will be for a new source of revenue. The Parish has not had any success in implementing a new tax in the last 10 years. There have been four attempts to pass a sales tax; the most recent one put forth in March of 2019, which was for a ½% sales tax for 20 years. The voters defeated the proposition by 58%.

How much does the Expiring Sales Tax bring in?

CURRENT TAX:
Effective Date: January 1, 2011
Expiration Date: December 31, 2020
Term: 10 Years
Use: Solid Waste/Garbage/Road Maintenance
Estimated Dollars to Collect: $1,830,000 per year
Total Estimated to Collect over the life of the tax: $18,300,000.00

How much will the Expiring Sales Tax bring in AFTER January 1, 2021?

WITH NO RENEWAL:
Effective Date: NONE
Expiration Date: NONE
Term: NONE
Use: Solid Waste/Garbage/Road Maintenance
Estimated Dollars to Collect: ZERO
Total Estimated to Collect over the life of the tax: ZERO

BACKGROUND

Here is the Proposition as it appeared on October 2, 2010 and Approved by the Voters:

Sales Tax District No.1 – 1% S&U – PJ – 10 years
(Renewal)

Shall Sales Tax District No. 1 of the Parish of Natchitoches, State of Louisiana (all of Natchitoches Parish outside of the City of Natchitoches) (the “District”), under the provisions of Article VI, Section 30 of the Louisiana Constitution of 1974, and other constitutional and statutory authority, be authorized to continue to levy and collect a sales and use tax of one percent (1%), for an additional ten (10) years, effective January 1, 2011, in the manner and to the extent provided by La. R.S. 33:2721.6, et seq., and other constitutional and statutory authority (the “Tax”) (an estimated $1,830,000 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the tax for an entire year), which, after paying the costs of collecting and administering the Tax shall be used for the purposes of (i) maintaining and operating a Solid Waste Collection and Disposal System for Natchitoches Parish (outside of the City of Natchitoches) and (ii) for the improvement of roads in the Natchitoches Parish Road System?

See Full Proposition at SOS Site – Click Here:
https://voterportal.sos.la.gov/PropositionText/PropositionText/Detail?referendumId=8159

Here is the Final Vote for the Proposition as of October 2, 2010:

See Election Results for October 2, 2010 – Click Here:
https://voterportal.sos.la.gov/graphical
Actual Tax Vote
October 2, 2010
Parish: Natchitoches
Bottom of the page


Here is a copy of the letter received by the NPJ:


Service League collects items for local DCFS Geaux Bags

Throughout November, the Service League of Natchitoches collected critically needed items used by the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to fill Geaux Bags for local foster children. Geaux Bags is a non-profit, statewide initiative created to change the way kids enter foster care, and to make that initial transition period a little easier for everyone involved.

Children of many different ages and sizes enter state custody from DCFS at all hours of the day and night. Many arrive from situations of abuse and neglect with only the clothes on their backs.  The first 24-48 hours after receiving a child can be extremely stressful, and foster parents often feel ill-prepared. A Geaux Bag provides essential clothing and toiletries, as well as gives the child a sense of having something of their own in a foreign place.  

The items provided in a typical Geaux Bag are tailored for the child’s age and size and generally include the following:

Pajamas
Pillow/Blanket
Underwear
Diapers/Wipes
Shirts
Pacifiers
Socks
Baby Bottles/Sippy Cups
Shampoo/Soap/Deodorant
Baby Formula
Toothbrush/Toothpaste
Snacks/Water
Hairbrush
Therapeutic/Comfort Item      

Megan Goff, a Child Welfare Supervisor at the Natchitoches DCFS office, reached out to the Service League due to a shortage of the critically needed items used to assemble the bags.  The Service League immediately answered the call and deemed its November Service Project as donations for Geaux Bags under the direction of Service Coordinator, Karen Lee.

Geaux Bags can only be provided to Natchitoches Parish foster children through the generosity of donations from individuals  and organizations in our community.  If you are interested in donating, please call (318) 357-3128 or drop off items at Natchitoches DCFS, 106 Charlene Street, Natchitoches, Louisiana 71457.


Cookies with Santa at the Prudhomme-Rouquier House

Jolly Old Saint Nickolas himself was in town Saturday, November 28 to share cookies, crafts and Christmas wishes with groups of delighted children at the “Cookies with Santa” event held at Natchitoches’ historic Prudhomme-Rouquier house.

The ladies of the Service League of Natchitoches volunteered to act as Santa’s helpers, ushering in families and setting up tables with crafts and treats for the visiting children. The event was sponsored by the Historic Downtown Business Association (HDBA).

To ensure safety and social distancing, each family had its own table with cookies and craft projects for the children to make their own ornaments. There was also a mailbox for children to send their letters directly to the North Pole. Santa went from table to table and spoke to each child. Family friendly events such as these are part and parcel of what makes Christmastime in our community so special.


The 15th Annual Fleur De Lis Christmas Craft Fair was a Crowd pleaser

Every available space at the Natchitoches Event Center was filled by 80 vendors from around Louisiana and surrounding states as the Fleur De Lis Christmas Craft Fair took place Nov. 28. The popular fair, a community tradition since 2005, joined other activities downtown as part of the prelude to the Christmas Festival weekend. Several thousand visitors stopped by the day long event and browsed through booths filled with handmade craft items and foods. Natchitoches’ Hope for Paws was on hand selling delicious treats for both people and pets as well as raising awareness of animal adoption.


Demons can’t answer Louisiana Tech’s second-half run

The Northwestern State men’s basketball team and Louisiana Tech spent the first 20-plus minutes of Sunday’s matchup in the Louisiana Tech Classic exchanging small bursts of scoring.

The Bulldogs, however, became the first team to put together some semblance of a run, using a second-half push to pull away from the Demons 91-77 despite a career-best day from NSU’s Jamaure Gregg.

“There were some bright spots,” said 22nd-year head coach Mike McConathy, who coached his fourth game at his alma mater. “I felt like we competed throughout. We made a run at the end. Jovan Zelenbaba cuts it to nine with the layup on the right side. We fell into their mind-set where we walked the ball up the floor where we needed to keep up the pressure and keep the foot on the gas.”

That final Demon run came long after the Bulldogs (2-0) used a 15-4 run midway through the second half to turn a four-point game into a 15-point lead with 8:14 to play.

Northwestern State (0-3) whittled the lead to nine on Zelenbaba’s baseline drive that he turned into a three-point play with 3:34 to play. However, Louisiana Tech went back inside to freshman Kenneth Lofton Jr. for a bucket that started an 11-6 Bulldogs push across the final three-plus minutes.

Gregg kept the Demons close throughout the second half, tallying 19 of his career-high 21 points in the final 20 minutes, sinking 8 of 13 shots from the field, including a pair of 3-pointers.

“In the first half, he started kind of slow, but he had five rebounds,” McConathy said. “He started making shots, doing a nice job of catching and taking what was available.”

While Gregg carried the Demons offensively, Lofton Jr. did the same for Louisiana Tech, scoring 12 of his 16 points in the second half.

Each team rode a different player offensively in a back-and-forth first half that ended with Tech holding a five-point lead in a period where the largest run for either team was six points.

Louisiana Tech was able to pull away in a five-minute stretch of the second half where Lofton had six points in the run.

“They went to their high-low, and we had no answer for that,” McConathy said. “We didn’t do a good job with it. We need to take a look at that.”

While Gregg carried the Demons offensively in the second half, Jairus Roberson did so in the opening half, scoring 12 points as Northwestern State found its 3-point stroke.

NSU shot 63.6 percent from the 3-point line, sinking 7 of 11 from long distance in the half. Roberson connected on a pair of 3s as did LaTerrance Reed, who finished with a season-high 11 points in less than 14 minutes of action.

“It really gives us a shot in the arm,” McConathy said. “He comes in and knows what to do. One thing that hurt us was we couldn’t get good defensive matchups. They had three 6-foot-6 guys in there at once, so we couldn’t go small with our shooters. It kept us from getting into a defensive rhythm.”

While the Demons put three players in double figures, the Bulldogs had four, led by Kalob Ledoux’s game-high 23 points. Isaiah Crawford (19) and Exavian Christon (14) also reached double figures for the Bulldogs, who shot 51.7 percent (30-for-58) from the field for the game.

The Demons return to action Thursday when they travel to TCU. Tip-off against the Horned Frogs is set for 7 p.m.

Photo: Dalin Williams (35) goes up for a rebound during Sunday’s game at Louisiana Tech. Credit: Tom Morris/Louisiana Tech Media Relations


Women’s Basketball — NSU women’s basketball to pause team activities

The Northwestern State women’s basketball program has temporarily suspended team activities because of precautionary reasons resulting from COVID-19 concerns.

The team’s season opener at Ole Miss was canceled and its Nov. 27 game at Baylor was rescheduled for Dec. 18, both as preventive COVID-19 measures.

Because of additional concerns related to the virus, team activities will remain on hold for at least 14 days and will resume when deemed safe by medical professionals and the NSU athletic training staff.

The Lady Demons will not compete before Dec. 12 and any schedule adjustments will be announced at a later date.


SWEPCO ranked highest in segment for customer satisfaction by J.D. Power

For the first time, Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO), an American Electric Power (Nasdaq: AEP) company, ranks No. 1 among midsize utilities in the South in the J.D. Power 2020 Electric Utility Business Customer Satisfaction StudySM.

“From delivering safe, reliable and affordable electricity to helping businesses save energy and money, the SWEPCO Team is proud to be part of the strong and vibrant communities it serves. This award demonstrates our progress in pursuit of excellent customer service,” said Malcolm Smoak, SWEPCO president and chief operating officer. “SWEPCO employees are committed to meeting customers’ expectations, especially with the challenges everyone is facing during the pandemic.”

SWEPCO scored highest in the midsize South segment of business customers for power quality and reliability; billing and payment; and customer contact. The J.D. Power study examines overall business customer satisfaction across six factors: power quality and reliability; corporate citizenship; price; billing and payment; communications; and customer contact.

“We’ve made customer satisfaction a priority, and we work hard at it every day,” Smoak said. “We’ve added customer-focused tools that take advantage of technology, improved our outage and storm communications, managed operating costs, and invested in facilities for a stronger and more reliable electric system. We put these tools to work when the pandemic limited our ability to interact with customers and the community and we faced unprecedented damage from Hurricanes Laura and Delta.”

To support our small business customers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, SWEPCO created a web-based resource center with information on federal aid made available to our customers. In addition, call center representatives provided dedicated support for small businesses that want to apply for federal Small Business Administration (SBA) programs.

The 2020 Electric Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study, now in its 22nd year, measures satisfaction among business customers of 86 targeted U.S. electric utilities, each of which serves more than 40,000 business customers. In aggregate, these utilities provide electricity to more than 12 million customers.

The study is based on responses from 18,457 online interviews of business customers in decision-making roles related to their utility company. The study was fielded from February through October 2020.

 


Online shoppers can help NSU Foundation through AmazonSmile

AmazonSmile is now available for online shoppers who wish to assist the Northwestern State University Foundation. Upon choosing to support NSU Foundation through Amazon, 0.5% of the purchase price for eligible items during checkout will be donated to the NSU Foundation for the betterment and advancement of the university.

Signing up is an easy four steps. Shoppers can visit smile.amazon.com, sign into their Amazon account and search for Northwestern State University in the search bar. Select Northwestern State University and start shopping with donations towards the NSU Foundation providing support for scholarships, renovations, academic programs, campus beautification, recruiting and retention, and more.

“This program is not just for the holidays. It will continue after the Christmas season but with many supporters shopping online for holiday gifts, we are pleased to provide this opportunity to help the Foundation,” said Erin Dupree, assistant director of donor relations.

To learn more about the NSU Foundation or to make a separate gift, please visit https://www.northwesternstatealumni.com/nsufoundation/.

 


Three Pi Kappa Phi members named to 2020 NSU Homecoming Honor Court

Three members of the Beta Omicron Chapter of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity were among the 22 undergraduates named to the 2020 Northwestern State University Homecoming Honor Court.

Colton Campbell, Alphonse Engram, and Terran Turner were selected by a vote of students.

Campbell, of Coushatta, is the son of Timothy and Jackie Campbell. He is a senior business administration major. Campbell is a 2020 Freshman Connector, 2020 Social Media Ambassador, Senator of the Student Government Association, a member of the University Programming Council, President of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity and was selected to the Order of Omega Greek Honor Society.

Engram, of DeRidder, is the son of Pam Breaud and is a senior dance major. He a member of Pi Kappa Phi, Dance Organization of Students, African American Caucus, Demon VIP, the Demon Dazzler Danceline, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Student Government Association and the NSU Dance Company.

Turner, of Shreveport, is the son of Debra Banks and Terry Johnson. He is a senior general studies major. Turner is a member of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity.


Notice of Death – November 29, 2020

NATCHITOCHES:
Joe Allen
July 01, 1956 – November 25, 2020
Service: Monday, November 30 at 2 pm at St Patrick Catholic Church, located at 624 Rowena St in Montgomery

SABINE:
Michael Alan Rivers
September 9, 1963 – November 26, 2020
Service: Monday, November 30 at 10 am at St. Joseph Catholic Church

RED RIVER:
Gladys “Happy” Friday
March 05, 1956 – November 28, 2020
Service: Tuesday, December 1 at 1 pm at Rockett-Nettles Funeral Home Chapel


Fleur de Lis Christmas Craft Mall is coming to TOMORROW!

The Fleur de Lis Christmas Craft Mall will celebrate its 15th year in operation on Saturday, Nov. 28 from 9 am – 4:30 pm at the Natchitoches Events Center, located at 750 Second Street in Natchitoches. This event is free and open to the public.

There will be gifts for the whole family, from adults to children. Over 75 vendors from a four-state area will come to Natchitoches to sell their wares.

“The best part is everything offered at our craft market is handmade,” said organizer Cheryl Gianforte.

Following State Fire Marshal recommendations, 10-foot aisles will separate vendors, giving guests room to browse. A counter will be stationed at the door so the facility doesn’t become crowded. There will be one entrance and one exit (although all exits will be accessible). There will also be sanitizing stations throughout the space. Masks are recommended.


GOODNESS GRACIOUS

By Tommy Rush

I have always loved short stories, especially the ones that teach a good lesson. Like the story of the two flies buzzing around a messy kitchen counter that had the remains of a recently prepared bologna sandwich. The knife that was used to slice the bologna was covered with little particles of meat. The two flies started at the tip of the knife and ate their way to the end of the handle. They flew away only to become dizzy and fall to the floor – dead! The moral of the story: Don’t fly off the handle when your full of bologna.

I’ve shared that goofy little story a thousand times with people who were angry and upset. I like sharing it because it tends to break the tension and put a smile into the situation. You know we all get angry at times, but not everyone handles their anger in the same way. It’s been said that when your anger gets the best of you, people see the worst in you!

Another reason I enjoy sharing the story is because my Dad was a bologna salesman for 58 years. He worked for Ziegler Meats his entire life. He began with the company at age 17 working in the stock yards and retired at 75 after being the head of Customer Relations. The majority of his years, he worked as a salesman or sales manager for the company.

My Dad loved talking to people! He not only sold a lot of bologna, but he made tons of friends. He never met a stranger. It always amazed me how he could get into a conversation with anyone about anything. He loved to introduce me to people by saying, “This is my son, he’s a preacher of God’s Word. I just talk bologna.”

My Dad passed away six years ago right after Thanksgiving. The last time I sat at the dinner table with him was Thanksgiving Day 2014. Even though the dinner table was in the cafeteria of a Nursing Home, I’m grateful to God for the memory. I’m thankful for the blessing of a father who taught me how to love God and love people. I’m also grateful for the many years he faithfully went to work and provided for his family. I always eat a little bologna with a grateful heart on Thanksgiving!


Thanksgiving Everyday

The day of March 13, 2020 started out as any other regular ole day. Mostly. But, by the time the sun had set, the whole world started to change a little. Just after dark, as I sat on my porch with my daughters, we were trying to figure out exactly how a two-week shutdown would directly affect us. We watched local and national news from our phones and it appeared that worldwide panic was setting in with the worldwide pandemic.

We thought, we pondered, we joked and then we mildly worried about the COVID19 pandemic. Even though we joked and made light of the situation, we always went back to low-key worrying. Being a woman of faith, I knew better than to let our worry get the best of us. I knew the Lord’s mighty hand could be felt in any grave situation. We sat on our porch and each one of us took turns praying for our nation, praying for our leaders and then each one of us took turns praying individually.

When it came time for my oldest daughter to pray individually, she chose to pray for my friend, Lyn, who would soon be giving birth to her very first child. I was almost embarrassed that I had not considered my friend and what she must be feeling. Giving birth is a miraculous moment mixed with blessings and anxiety on a normal day. But, giving birth during a pandemic had to be accompanied by feelings of fear of the unknown.

As soon as we finished our prayers, I called my friend to let her know that Meredith chose to pray for her during our porch prayers. It made me feel slightly guilty that I had forgotten to include them. As a mom trying to raise thoughtful kids, it truly made my day that she wasn’t just thinking about herself or her own circumstances. She chose my dear friend to ask God to be with her during this uncertain time. After speaking with my friend, I could tell by the tone in her voice that she was calm and reassured.

She was so full of peace and she knew everything would be okay. She is also a praying woman.

Over the next couple of weeks my friend became well-versed in the changes that would accompany a COVID-19 childbirth. She could only have one person in the room with her. That one person could not be interchanged at any time. As soon as the baby was born, there would be no extra lingering around the hospital if there were no complications. There could be no visitors at all. This meant we could not invade her room as soon as he was born and shower them with affection.

As we would soon learn, we could not shower him with kisses at all. We could only admire him from afar. With no fanfare, or pomp and circumstance. Mr. Jalen made his quiet entrance into this world during a pandemic. He was healthy; he was just as beautiful as we imagined he would be; and we could only view him on Facetime. That was perfect for me; we wanted him to stay healthy.

Months had rolled by; I was only able to briefly hold him a couple of times and the anticipation of one-on-one time with him was building. On Halloween day I called my friend to let her know that I had a spooky present for him, it was just my luck they were in town and would be stopping by.

When they pulled in my driveway, I removed him from his car seat and I welcomed him to my home. All of my friends’ children refer to me as, “Auntie Reebs” so I need to start training Jalen of this very important nickname. As I was holding him and telling him where he was, I just became so overwhelmed with gratefulness. I was grateful to be holding him at my home. I was grateful he was healthy and I was grateful that I even had a home to welcome him into. I was grateful that I could afford to buy him a small gift for Halloween. I was grateful that my friend is now a mother. Words almost cannot explain the feeling of gratitude that had engulfed me. And, it was Halloween. It wasn’t even the worldly acceptable time to give thanks.

As we just celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday, I encourage you to find something to be grateful for every single day until the next Thanksgiving. Look for the small reasons to give thanks.

Even if you do not feel like you like you have anything to be grateful for, thank God as though you do. Your thankfulness will catch up with your circumstances one day, and when it does, your heart will be overflowing with gratefulness.

“Enter his gates with Thanksgiving and enter his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” – Psalm 100:4-5