Mask Mandate Temporarily Reinstated for Natchitoches Parish Schools

On Thursday, December 30, 2021, Governor John Bel Edwards, along with the Louisiana Department of Health, released updated Covid-19 guidelines as students prepare to return to school following the holiday break. Per Gov. Edwards’ recommendations, the Natchitoches Parish School Board has temporarily reinstated the mask mandate for all Natchitoches Parish Schools.

Starting on Monday, January 3, 2022, all faculty, staff, and students will be required to wear a mask when on school property. NPSB officials highly encourage those who can, to test before returning to school.

Click to view the full Covid-19 guidelines and quarantine guidance for Natchitoches Parish Schools:

Updated Covid-19 Guidance-12-31-21

Student safety is NPSB’s highest responsibility. In order to keep students and faculty safe, NPSB will continue to follow guidance set by the CDC and the Louisiana Department of Health.

The Natchitoches Parish School Board will update the community when the mask mandate is lifted. 


A birthday salute to a community leader – Nettles Brown

Kevin’s Gallery

It wasn’t unusual late Thursday afternoon when Nettles Brown got a call from his wife, Glenelle, telling him he needed to run by the First United Methodist Church on Second Street for a brief 5:30 meeting before they went out to supper with friends.

It wasn’t unusual that Brown showed up 15 minutes early.

It wasn’t unusual to see a few of his fellow FUMC members walking in, as he stood outside chatting.

But when a couple of his colleagues from his New York Life office arrived, well before 5:30, that was a bit perplexing.

Then he walked inside the building, trailing them into a darkened Bostick Hall. He was stopped in his tracks as he finally realized this was no church business gathering. “Whoa, look at this!” he exclaimed, to the delight of dozens of admirers gathered to celebrate Brown’s 80th birthday.

Calling him a pillar of the community is understating it. For decades, he has served Natchitoches in a variety of roles, officially and otherwise. Notably, he has been a cornerstone member of the local Kiwanis Club whose leadership skills and passion carried him to a term in the prestigious position of International President of the organization.

A native of Coushatta and holder of bachelor’s (1963) and master’s (1970) degrees from Northwestern State, Brown settled in Natchitoches in 1967. Brown has been supportive of countless local causes, local schools and NSU Athletics and other university activities and programs.

His impact, not only through his service to the Kiwanis Club, extends well past Natchitoches Parish. That was indicated by the range of out-of-town visitors at the surprise party, including business leaders, friends and family from Shreveport, Alexandria and smaller communities, along with a judge from Alexandria and a Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Deputy, among others from all age groups and all walks of life.

It was 90 minutes of fellowship celebrating a landmark birthday for a gentleman who is deservedly beloved for a lifetime of friendship and service to all.


Podcast: Kirk Soileau joins Billy West with a COVID Update

Kirk Soileau joins Billy West Live with a December 31, 2021 COVID Update

Kirk Soileau, CEO of NRMC joins Billy West Live and provides updated information about COVID testing, positivity rates and statistical projections for the expected penetration rates of COVID 19 for Natchitoches Parish. The information provided is current through December 31, 2021. Mr. Soileau will provide additional updated information and projections in a week to ten days.


A New Year’s Lesson from The Prayer Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

By Edwin Crayton/Opinion

I am almost certain it is no surprise to you that the history books tell us that on December 5, 1955, African Americans began a bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama that lasted a little more than a year. What these books often do not mention is that after about a year of the struggle, the leader, a very young Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. found himself sinking into a pit of despair. And why not? The boycott had taken a long time. The hard-hearted white power structure in Montgomery was not yielding to the demands of blacks who only sought equal seating with white people on the city’s public buses. Because of the boycott, people were having to walk torturous distances to work or any other place they went. (Imagine the scores of sore feet.) This was a war. Today the goal of simply allowing blacks to sit anywhere on a bus might seem ridiculously modest to most of us. But in the south in the year 1955 anything that challenged white supremacy was considered radical, was usually illegal and could often also be deadly. In fact, one particularly brutal day in 1956, King had received death threats. That night as the boycott dragged on, Dr. King found himself sitting alone in his kitchen. As he almost always did in times of frustration, sorrow or confusion, he opened up his heart to God in a sincere prayer. Like Moses had many ages before, he sought divine help with the burden of leading people against a cruel Egyptian like system designed to crush and destroy blacks physically, morally and spiritually. He reminded God that he was down here “trying to do your will”. He admitted he was losing his courage and becoming weak. He earnestly prayed for help and strength. King said he heard a response that reminded him that he was to stand up for justice and righteousness. In that moment, he found the strength to carry on. This incident has been retold many times. But what it reveals is how Dr. King relied on prayer to help make it through the challenges of leading a dangerous, bitter battle. It also showed that like all of us, he experienced times of weakness and vulnerability. The Bible says, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Martin Luther, the great German theologian was supposed to have said,” A god is that to which we look for all good and in which we find refuge in every time of need”. In his hour of despair, King turned to God Almighty. In time of need, who and what do you and I turn to?

Like all of us, King prayed asking for help. But he did something else that we can all learn from: he yielded to God to make the final decision. In other words, he was willing to allow God to lead and to have his way. Jesus himself prayed this way. He prayed “Not my will, but your will be done.” If Jesus, being son of God can do this, certainly we must do it too. In fact, it is a requirement he made of us. In the prayer he gave us, it says, “thy will be done” (Matthew Chapter 6).

One more incident from King’s life displays this spirit of surrendering to God’s will. One year during the movement as Easter approached, he was leading a protest. If he continued, he would miss the opportunity to preach the Easter sermon at his church. A big event for any pastor. Advisors urged him to halt the protest and get back to church. But according to one account I have heard, King quietly slipped away from his advisors and entered another room of his hotel suite and emerged wearing blue jeans—a sign that he was going to skip the service and continue the protest. No one really knows what happened inside that room. But I believe he was praying in there. And that he let God decide. Hence, he emerged wearing the garment of protest: jeans.

This concept of letting God decide for us is foreign to many of us today. We love and crave control. Our technology, our media and our world promise to keep us in charge of every step of the way. Yet, a key characteristic of the Christian character is the ability to humbly submit to the will of God over our own will. As we enter the new year and celebrate King’s birthday, this is something to keep in mind. And I would like to suggest a little of a challenge here for each of us. What if we were to for at least one year, yield to God’s will? At the very least at the end of each and every prayer.

One year of surrender. About like a strong diet. Except we’d be fasting not from food, but from having things our way all the time. One year of praying every prayer by ending each saying as Jesus prayed, “Not my will, but thine (your) will be done. Asking that God’s will be done does not mean we will never get what we want. But what it does do is show trust in his ability to decide what is best. This father really does know best.

Dr. King did it. At his weakest, most human points. With all his human flaws. And yet, the world is the better for that choice. Why would it be any different for the rest of us?

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6


Christmas Anomaly

With the precise strokes of an artist’s brush you can be transported to places never seen with the natural eye. A talented artist can breath life and imagination into any canvas with simple acrylics, pencils, pens or watercolors. The medium that an artist chooses can leave you spellbound by their skills and creativeness.

This is exactly what the intensely talented, Natchitoches native, Trevor Lucas, accomplished with his entry for the 42nd Annual Natchitoches Christmas Festival Poster.

Karen Terrell, Natchitoches Arts Council, had lots to say about this years winner.

“His artwork is a fresh perspective of downtown and the Festival. When his poster was chosen, I had no idea he was from Natchitoches and that I know many of his family members. He was a joy to work with and his message of overcoming life’s obstacles is a powerful one.”

At the constant requests, nagging and friendly bullying from his friends and family Mr Lucas decided to answer the call and make his official entry into the poster contest. It took Mr. Lucas only about five days for his full vision to come to life utilizing the medium of digital art on his Wacom tablet.

While he admits that his childhood memories are a bit foggy, one thing that is clear as a bell is the joy he feels when he thinks of the Christmas Festival. It automatically reminds him of the larger than life parade and being on Front Street catching loads of candy.

“There is something about the experience of watching the bands and seeing the smiles on people’s faces. The thought of the parade makes me so happy and it was definitely my inspiration for the poster,” shared Mr. Lucas.

The poster affectionately gives a nod to the beginning of the parade featuring the Northwestern State University marching band as well as Santa Claus at the end of the parade.

While having an unwavering faith he has never forgotten all of the broken and winding roads that life has forced him to ride. The intense pain of losing his mother at the young age of twelve was the propellant that drove him to seek an outlet for his emotions. He wrote poems and traced his cousins artwork, who he admired so much, and pretended it was his own. It did not take him long to realize that he had talent of his own and he also drew inspiration from Bob Ross.

It was actually during his childhood drawings that he thought he may possibly have a color vision deficiency. He drew a rose for a friend and she asked him why the rose was dead. He shaded it brown and did not realize it.

At 17 years old his grandmother signed him in as a troubled teen with the US Navy. While serving a short time he decided that he truly wanted to be a Navy Seal. Life threw him another curve ball, he miserably failed his color exam and he was diagnosed as being color blind. While it wasn’t God’s plan for him to be a Seal, he did have many other plans for Trevor Lucas. He went on to be a father, a husband, a successful businessman, TV personality, and an art therapist for at risk children.

Trevor Lucas is a 1997 graduate of Natchitoches Central High School where he took art classes under Mrs. Gianforte. He wants art students to know to always be your true authentic self.

“If all the characters in a movie were the same, it would be a boring movie. God wouldn’t have created you if you didn’t have your own purpose,” shared Lucas.

Lucas is a firm believer in God’s timing and God’s purpose for our lives. When he started his own art studio, he named his business Anomaly. It wasn’t until many years later that he found out his visual disorder was called, “Deuteranomaly”. God named his gift before he named his disorder. Lucas is 42 years old and it was the 42nd Annual Christmas Festival Poster. He acknowledges this was no accident.

He also feels it was no accident that he was able to come back to Louisiana to visit with his stepfather who is terminal. Although their relationship was strained as a child, his stepfather was able to share with him how proud he is of his success. Even though he lives in Virginia he says he will always consider Natchitoches his home.

If you were able to meet Trevor Lucas when he visited in the Fall then you would be familiar with is humble and gracious nature. When you compliment him, he gives all glory to God. When asked his he ever thought about writing a book, or even suggesting that his story would make a good movie, he simply replied, “I feel like I made it out of a burning house and every so often I run back in to pull someone out who has had the same struggles as me, by sharing my story. As long as I have this testimony then I am able to help others.”

When I asked Mr. Lucas to share his favorite scripture with me, he did not hesitate to let me know it was Psalm 18:29.

“It’s my favorite because it gives me confidence to do any and everything without fear because my father in heaven has given me the strength and the power to accomplish amazing things. This verse makes me feel like a super hero with God as my source.”

Lucas went on to say, “It keeps me confident of my gifting but also keeps me humble because I know it’s not me but through him. Watch and marvel at the great things I do with God at my side. I live by this level of faith because it’s been proven time and time again. Nothing will stand in the way of God’s work. I believe I am his work and I,m doing his will. I give him the glory for this assignment”.

“For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall.” – Psalm 18:29


NPSO DETECTIVES INVESTIGATING HOMICIDE NEAR NATCHITOCHES

Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Detectives are actively investigating a homicide near Natchitoches according to Natchitoches Parish Sheriff Stuart Wright.

On Wednesday evening , December 29, at approximately 6:00pm, Deputies assigned to the NPSO Patrol Bureau responded to a missing person report in the 100 block of Levee Road, off of Hargis Road near the Grand Ecore area of Natchitoches, La.

Deputies arrived on scene and spoke with a visually impaired lady that reported that she had not heard from her husband since Tuesday around 3pm which was unusual.

She identified her husband as William (Bob) R. Lang Jr., 76, of Natchitoches, La.

Deputies then began to ask the complainant, questions for an offense report and noticed that all of Mr. Lang’s vehicles were parked at the residence.

The responding deputy observed a broken window glass on the residence and requested permission to enter the home to look for Mr. Lang.

Deputies entered the home and while walking in the area where the broken glass was observed, they discovered a deceased male lying in a bed identified as 76-year-old William R. Lang Jr. suffering from gunshot wounds to the body.

Detectives assigned to the NPSO Criminal Investigations Bureau responded to process the crime scene which included collecting evidence and taking photographs.

The crime scene was taped off until approximately 3:00am with special lighting equipment brought in by deputies.

Lang was pronounced dead at the scene by Natchitoches Parish Asst. Coroner Steven Clanton.

The body has been transported for an autopsy.

The cause of death has been ruled as a homicide.

Detectives also executed a search warrant on the residence signed by a Tenth Judicial District Court to search for any pertinent evidence in the investigation.

On Thursday, detectives worked throughout the day interviewing family and friends of Mr. Lang and canvassed the area residences and businesses for surveillance video that may assist in the investigation according to Sheriff Stuart Wright.

Our investigators are working tirelessly in an effort to arrest the individual or individuals involved in the murder of Mr. Lang”.

We extend our sympathy to the Lang family.

If you have any information contact the NPSO Criminal Investigations Division at 318-357-7830.

Case Agents:
Captain Darrel Winder and Detective Amber Shirley are being assisted by Detective Sgt. Jared Kilpatrick and Detective Sgt. Craig LaCour.


GOODNESS GRACIOUS

By Tommy Rush

Tonight people from all over the world will participate in the New Year’s Eve tradition of counting down the seconds until the clock strikes midnight. Millions of people will celebrate the start of 2022 but my eyes will probably be closed by 9 p.m. It’s not that I’m not excited about the new year, I just have a hard time staying awake late at night. I shared that yesterday with a friend in the grocery store and he said, “I’m not a late night person either but I think I’ll stay up to midnight this year just to make sure 2021 is completely gone!”

2021 has been a difficult year for many. Actually the past two years have been a struggle. But even through the struggles, we have much to be grateful for. We encounter good and bad in every year and if we stop long enough to reflect, we’ll probably find a lot more good than bad. This reminds me of another New Year’s Eve tradition, the tradition of gathering with friends and singing, “Auld Lang Syne.” This song is often referred to as “the song nobody really knows or understands.”

Robert Burns, a Scottish poet published his version of the poem in 1788. He said that he wrote the words down on paper after conversing with an old man about days gone by. The title of the song, “Auld Lang Syne” is actually old Scottish and it means “days gone by” or “for old times sake.” The poem was given the tune in 1799 and it will be sung by people everywhere tonight at the stroke of midnight. If you hear me singing it, it will be because I’m singing in my sleep!

Even though most who attempt to sing the song tonight will not understand what they are singing, it does present a good challenge to us. The song begins with a rhetorical question, “Should old acquaintances be forgot and never brought to mind?” Of course not! Burns seems to be challenging us as we reflect on the days gone by. There are problems and pains that we should leave behind in the old year. No one needs to bring past failures and disappointments into a new year, but we should definitely bring the memories and blessings of old friendships with us into the new one.

I’ve never understood the song but I can definitely agree with the message. The Bible even has a lot to say about forgetting those things in our past that have kept us from being who God created us to be. We need to say goodbye to old habits and hurts that have caused deep wounds to our life. But we should never forget the people who have walked with us and encouraged us along the way.

So if you are singing the song tonight and you have no idea what you’re singing, just remember to give thanks for the people in your life who have been with you through the good and bad in the days gone by. It’s a great way to start the new year!


Obit: Lester H. Lee Sr.

October 11, 1943 – December 28, 2021

Lester H. Lee, Sr., passed away December 28, 2021 in Baton Rouge, LA with his family by his side.

He was born in Natchitoches on October 11, 1943, to parents Eleanor Hughes Lee Wertelaers and Edmond Anderson Lee.

He was a selfless, kind-hearted, genuine man with a charismatic personality and an amazing smile. His family was his greatest joy and he loved spending time with his wife, children and grandchildren. Lester loved the St. Louis Cardinals and enjoyed traveling to St. Louis and Houston with his family to watch the Cardinals play.

He graduated in 1961 from St. Mary’s High School where he participated in multiple sports. He went on to attend Northwestern State University where he received a basketball scholarship his last three years and was recently named a member of the “Fantastic 50” on NSU’s All-Century Demon Basketball Team. He earned his degree in Education with a minor in Kinesiology and later earned his Master’s +30.

Known by many as Coach Lee, he was a principal, teacher and high school basketball coach at many high schools in and around Natchitoches Parish for over 30 years. He retired from the school system and accepted a position as Human Resource Manager at the Louisiana Co-op Electric Member, Valley Electric, where he enjoyed serving the public and made life-long friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents and sister, Ann Lee Alford.

Lester is survived by his lifelong sweetheart and wife of 55 years, Marietta Baker Lee; children, Tracy Lee Daily and husband, David; Lester H. Lee, Jr. and wife, Kelly; Jennifer Lee Coburn and husband, Chad; Michael J. Lee and wife, Erin, Stephen A. Lee and wife, Jessica; grandchildren, Drayton Daily, Drake Daily, Katelyn Coburn, Annabelle Daily, Emily Coburn, Mary Kate Lee, Matthew Lee, Luke Lee, Paige Lee and Ava Lee; brothers, Edmond Lee and wife, Henriellen; Randy Lee and wife, Lydia; sisters-in-laws, Anne Baker and Ellen Baker; brother-in-law Sandy McNeely; as well as many nieces, nephews and cousins.

He was a man of faith and devout Catholic. He was a lifelong Parishioner of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church where he served as Director of RCIA and CCD, Lector, Eucharistic Minister, and a member of the Knights of Columbus.

Special thanks to the staff and nurses at Magnolia Brook in Baton Rouge, LA.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 2 pm Monday, January 3, 2021 at the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church with Rev. Louis Sklar serving as celebrant. Burial will follow at Catholic Cemetery in Natchitoches. The family will receive friends from 11 am until 1:40 pm on January the 3rd at Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home.

Those honored to serve as pallbearers include Lester Lee, Jr., Michael Lee, Stephen Lee, Matthew Lee, David Daily, Drayton Daily, Drake Daily, and Chad Coburn. Honorary pallbearers will be Buddy Giering, Edmond Lee, Randy Lee, Francis Vienne, Jessie Hoffpauer, Daine Wirt, and Sandy McNeely.


The Natchitoches City Council held a Special Called meeting on Dec. 28

Items Approved:

Resolution Addressing Administrative Aspects Of The Proposed Application Assistance For Grant Submitted For Funding To The Love Louisiana Outdoors Grant Program.

Execute A Cooperative Endeavor Agreement Between The State Of Louisiana And The City Of Natchitoches, Louisiana For The Texas Street Corridor Improvement, Planning And Construction (FP&C Project #50-Mk9-21-01)


FDA authorizes first anti-viral pills for COVID-19

Louisiana has very limited number of pills available at independent pharmacies

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently issued an Emergency Use Authorization for Pfizer’s Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir tablets and ritonavir tablets) – the first oral treatment for COVID-19.

The pill can be used to treat mild-to-moderate coronavirus disease in adults and pediatric patients who are 12 years of age and older weighing at least 40 kilograms (about 88 pounds) who test positive for COVID and are at high risk of hospitalization or death.

Paxlovid is available by prescription only and should be initiated as soon as possible after testing positive for COVID and within 5 days of symptom onset.

Prescribers should be aware of the potential for significant drug interactions and contraindications for use with certain drugs. In addition, Paxlovid is not recommended in patients with severe kidney or severe liver impairment. In patients with moderate renal impairment, a reduced Paxlovid dose is needed.

Louisiana has received a very limited number of Paxlovid regimens. These pills have been allocated to a small number of independent pharmacies across the state. If you feel you may be a good candidate for the treatment, contact your provider or medical professional.


Natchitoches Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Task Force Agents seize multiple illegally possessed firearms

According to a Task Force official, the Natchitoches Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Task Force seized over 35 illegally possessed firearms within the last several months of 2021. Several of the seized firearms were confirmed stolen from different areas in Natchitoches Parish and surrounding jurisdictions.
Many of the firearms were seized during several Uniformed Tactical Operations (UTO) where numerous offenders were arrested. Uniformed Tactical Operations are grant funded selective enforcement operations that are supervised by Task Force personnel aimed at the disruption quality of life violations and open air distribution of narcotics within the communities of the Natchitoches Parish.

The Natchitoches Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Task Force along with local and federal law enforcement agencies will continue to work diligently in an effort to reduce gun violence in Natchitoches Parish.

The Natchitoches Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Task Force would like to thank the Citizens of Natchitoches for their support. Many times an investigation begins with a simple phone call or tip from a concerned citizen. For this reason the Task Force encourages all citizens to report any crimes in their neighborhoods anonymously by calling 318-357-2248, The Natchitoches Police Department, or the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office.


The Division of Professional Bass Fishing

In my lifetime, I can’t remember there being such division among the American people. Whether it’s a moral or political point of view, we just can’t seem to come to common ground. Likewise, three years ago there was a split in the professional bass fishing ranks. Bass Anglers Sportsman’s Society known as B.A.S.S. and its members (professional anglers) had a parting of ways due to differences of opinion on several topics. The powers that be at B.A.S.S. have done things a certain way since the beginning of time and were not willing to compromise on many of these topics. I’ll now give you my perspective as to what happened and what gave birth to an organization now known as MLF or Major League Fishing.

Pretty much all sports have people that think they know a better way to do things. Professional athletes just might have the biggest egos on the planet. Professional bass fishermen are no different, as egos abound, and many think they are the next greatest angler to ever grace the front deck of a boat. Not all professional anglers have one of these super egos, but there are many that do and some of these guys have their own idea as to how an organization should be run. Basically, what happened three years ago is that tour anglers got together (semi-unionized) and decided to approach B.A.S.S. with their ideas on what changes they would like to see made to accommodate the pro’s better.

Over the years, B.A.S.S. has set the schedule and determined when and where the anglers would fish. They set the rules and regulations for all B.A.S.S. events. Professional anglers wanted a bigger say, especially when it came to the scheduled dates. B.A.S.S. over the years has never taken into consideration special dates like Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Fourth of July, or any other holidays. They said when and where the events were set and expected all anglers to be there no matter what. It was not negotiable! Anglers also wanted more input in some of the rules and how they were applied… like the “no information” rule which is where anglers can’t seek, barter, or retrieve information about a body of water during the dead water period. This has been a controversial topic for years with all professional bass fishing circuits.

So, after the anglers met with B.A.S.S. officials, it was determined that the officials were not willing to give the anglers a say on scheduling events, nor were they receptive to any other suggestions the anglers had. Therefore, 80 anglers decided to venture out and start their own tournament organization where they had a say as to how things were done. They would determine the schedule, set the dates, and make the rules for what they thought would work better. This is what we know today as MLF or Major League Fishing. This idea had actually been in the works for two or three years prior to 80 anglers leaving B.A.S.S. to be a part of the MLF Pro Tour. Now this was a blow for B.A.S.S., but in truth has not really phased B.A.S.S. at all. They are, and have been, the leader in tournament bass fishing since its inception back in the late 1960’s. B.A.S.S. is also home to the greatest tournament in the world….The Bassmaster Classic! This is the biggest tournament in the world and it is all anglers dream to win this event. Professional football players have the Super Bowl, baseball has the World Series and bass fishing has the Bassmaster Classic.

So, for the last three years MLF has waged their own war in the bass fishing world and appears to be fairly strong at this time, but there have been a few signs that things may not be as kosher as MLF wants us to think. Each of the last three years, highly popular anglers have left MLF only to return to B.A.S.S. These have included top name pros like Brandon Palaniuk, Gerald Swindle, Jacob Powroznik, Mike Iaconelli, Jason Christie, John Cox, Justin Adkins and Louisiana’s Greg Hackney…guys who have made a name for themselves and are considered some of the best anglers in the world. If this exodus continues, MLF may not survive. They can’t continue to lose top name anglers to B.A.S.S.

In actuality, professional bass fishing needs this organization to be successful. There too many anglers trying to make a living professionally and having only one organization to accommodate them is just not enough. Major League Fishing is also something new and different when it comes to their format of catching as many bass as you can in a day, rather than just your best 5, which has been the standard for all tournament trails since the 1990’s. MLF requires a little different mindset versus going out and catching 5 big ones. Furthermore, it makes for great TV coverage when every fish counts. This is what MLF promised the anglers who left B.A.S.S., more TV exposure not only for themselves, but their sponsors as well.

The jury is still out on MLF, but hopefully they will continue to enhance and attract more anglers who are looking to fish this style of event. While B.A.S.S continues to be the standard that all anglers hope to reach, MLF for now will have to try and keep as many top name pros as they can if they want to survive. Till next time, good luck, good fishing and don’t forget to set the hook!

Steve Graf


NSU’s Wesley, Hoang earn All-Louisiana Team spots

Northwestern State’s Symone Wesley and Haley Hoang were honored with selections on the Louisiana Sports Writers All-Louisiana volleyball team, announced on Thursday.

In her first year as a Lady Demon, Wesley was selected to the All-Louisiana Second Team while Hoang received an Honorable Mention position, one of just three liberos honored in the state.

Wesley, the Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year, led the team in kills (292), kills per set (2.68), points (324.5) and points per set (2.98) and ranked in the top 10 in the conference in each of those categories as well.

A true six-rotation player, Wesley finished second on the team in digs (308) and digs per set (2.83). She had nine kill-dig double-doubles on the season including a team-best 31 digs against UT Arlington. She reached double figures in kills in 18 different matches.

Hoang received the second All-Louisiana nod of her career after earning Libero of the Year following the spring season.

She finished the season ranked fourth in conference play with a 4.82 dig per set average with four 20-dig matches during league play and nine overall. She was second in the conference in total digs this season setting a new career high with 474.

Her season total placed her in the top 10 all-time in single-season digs at NSU.

She turned in her first double-double of the season against UIW with 11 assists to go along with her 23 digs. She also had 15 aces during league play, good enough for a top five position in aces per set.

After two full seasons and a COVID and injury shortened year, Hoang has collected 875 career digs placing her 16th all-time in NSU history. Her 3.60 dig per set average is currently the fourth best for a career.

Graphic: Brad Welborn


Notice of Death – December 30, 2021

NATCHITOCHES:
Lester H. Lee, Sr.
October 11, 1943 – December 28, 2021
Service: Monday, January 3 at 2 pm at the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

SABINE:
Forrest O’Neil Rothwell
August 20, 1976 – December 29, 2021
Service: Friday, December 31 at 1 pm at Warren Meadows Funeral Home Chapel

James E. Neugent
August 9, 1949 – December 30, 2021
Service: Sunday, January 2 at 11 am at Lambert Town Cemetery


WINN:
Harvey Phillip Cheek, Sr.
April 1, 1933 – December 28, 2021
Service: Thursday, December 30 at 12 pm at Welcome Home Cemetery

Jessie Nell Grigg
October 16, 1930 – December 3, 2021
Service: Saturday, January 8 at 2 pm at the First Baptist Church of Winnfield

RED RIVER:
Holly Norred Opperman
June 25, 1971 – December 28, 2021
Service: Friday, December 31 at 10 am at Mt. Zion Cemetery


Hazardous Weather Outlook

Showers and thunderstorms are currently expanding across the
region, with some strong to severe storms capable of producing hail, damaging
winds, and isolated tornadoes.

.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN… today through Tuesday…

A round of severe weather will be possible from Friday
evening into Saturday mainly across the I-30 corridor into south-
central Arkansas and north Louisiana along a frontal boundary.
Conditions forecast to improve on Saturday afternoon with much
colder temperatures expected. Overnight lows on Sunday morning
forecast to range from the teens across southeast Oklahoma to near
freezing across north Louisiana.


COVID drive through testing available at NRMC Walk in Clinic – FREE

The COVID-19 drive thru testing at the Natchitoches Regional Medical Center’s Walk in Clinic is completely FREE to the public and a much faster avenue to getting tested than the hospital’s Emergency Room. Please help hospital staff keep the ER for true emergencies.

COVID Drive Thru Testing | Mondays & Thursdays | NRMC Walk in Clinic | 1:00pm-5:00pm | 740 Keyser Avenue | No Appointment Necessary!


St. Mary’s sweeps Converse, hosts Loyola tonight; NCHS also home

After sweeping an afternoon doubleheader at home Wednesday, the St. Mary’s basketball teams are home again tonight against Loyola Prep in a 6 p.m. twinbill.

The Tigers and Lady Tigers put away Converse Wednesday after splitting games Tuesday at Rapides, with the Tigers pulling off the road win.

Against Converse, the SMHS girls got 17 points from Kelsee Bienvenu while twin sister Cameron Bienvenu notched a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Their efforts, on their 18th birthday, sparked a closing 32-14 run to a 46-37 victory.

The Tigers cruised by the Converse boys, never trailing. They started hot with a 9-2 lead and never looked back in a 50-35 triumph. Payne Williams led the way with 18 points.

NATCHITOCHES CENTRAL – The Chiefs come out of the holiday break, playing at home tonight against Homer. NCHS smashed Tioga 67-31 last Thursday.


Sharp increase in Omicron cases across Louisiana

Proportion of Omicron cases is 88.5%

December 29, 2021

The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) estimates the proportion of Omicron cases in our state is 88.5% for the week ending December 25.*

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates the proportion of Omicron in HHS Region 6 (which includes Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas) is 86.7%. Furthermore, 95% of parishes are at the 2 highest levels of community transmission.

*NOTE: LDH’s estimate for the Omicron proportion is preliminary and subject to change as more sequencing data are reported.

LDH Guidance:
COVID-19 cases, emergency department visits and hospitalizations are sharply increasing throughout Louisiana. These alarming increases are attributable to the Omicron variant, which spreads faster than other variants and is now the dominant strain in our state.

Individuals not fully vaccinated account for 64% of new cases from December 16 through December 22. Furthermore, those not fully vaccinated account for 79% of COVID-19 hospitalizations on December 28.

LDH recommends getting vaccinated and boosted, masking indoors as well as outside when distancing is not possible, and limiting your exposure to those not in your household.

To learn about vaccination sites near you, call Louisiana’s vaccine hotline at 855-453-0774.

PHOTO: CDC


All Madden, all good

By Doug Ireland, Journal Services

Boom! Bam! Doink! Woosh!

No other way to start a piece about John Madden.

Once a Super Bowl champion football coach, Madden became a cultural icon after leaving the sidelines in 1978 and moving upstairs to the TV announcing booth. His everyman personality, candor and unabashed joy doing anything he did captivated us. Above all else, he was authentic, a man of the people, unpretentious.

His football commentary entertained and educated unlike any announcer in any sport ever had. It quickly made him a hot commodity for advertisers. His series of commercials for Miller Lite and Ace Hardware, among others, expanded his audience outside the sports world. If he liked something, we wanted it. Heck, he introduced turducken to the rest of the country after a Thanksgiving Day game in New Orleans.

That likeability brought him into the living rooms and mindsets of America. As his profile grew, a third dimension of his public life exploded: Madden NFL, the football video game launched in 1988 that provides gamers 8 to 85 with a realistic portrayal of pro football action offering actual playbooks, stunningly accurate player depictions, and commentary in the style of an NFL TV announcing crew. The founder of EA Sports came up with the idea in 1984 and pitched it to Madden, who wouldn’t lend his name to the project until it was strikingly accurate enough.

If you haven’t played Madden, your neighbor has. It’s one of the top 10 selling video games ever. Sales of well over $4 billion. More than half the guys playing in the NFL not only grew up playing Madden, but they continue to.

So much so that when a Philadelphia player walked into a hotel suite where Coach Madden was holding court in the runup to a game at San Francisco, he asked, “Where’s Madden?” Somebody said, “right over there.” The player responded, “no, the video game.”

When he passed away unexpectedly Tuesday at 85, a scant three days after an epic Fox Sports 90-minute special on him that aired Christmas Day, reaction rippled around the country far outside NFL territory.

The cascade of admiration for Madden is not about what he had done as much as who he was. That childlike wonderment, shared with all, about what he was seeing and doing. That ceaseless appreciation of the opportunities he encountered. Most of all, his eagerness to engage people from every walk of life, from the woman serving him Skyline Chili over the counter in Cincinnati (he’d walk out with a couple stains on his shirt), to the drivers at the truck stop in the middle of the night somewhere in Arizona, to the kids flipping Frisbees at the rest stop along I-20 in Mississippi, and everyone, anyone associated with the game he loved: football.

That’s why we’re hearing and reading tributes from the biggest names in and around the NFL, the Peyton Mannings and Sean Paytons and such, as well as those production assistants, those assistant coaches, those free agent signees, and everyone in between. And you, and me.

Two-time Super Bowl champion linebacker Gary Reasons, a Northwestern State graduate, was one of Madden’s favorites while playing for the powerhouse New York Giants. Wednesday, his wife Terri recalled the time in the late ‘80s when Madden invited their son Nic onto his “Madden Cruiser” tour bus, which he used to travel the country to avoid claustrophobia on airplanes. John and preschooler Nic shared a Coke on the bus, in the parking lot at Giants Stadium.

Nobody could tell who was having more fun.


Gov. Edwards’ Statement on La. State Rep. Ted James’ Federal Appointment As Regional Administrator for the SBA’s Region 6

Today, Dec. 29, Gov. John Bel Edwards issued the following statement on Pres. Joseph R. Biden’s appointment of Louisiana State Rep. Ted James as Regional Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator for Region 6, which includes Louisiana, Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Gov. Edwards said:

“Congratulations to my friend Ted James, who has been a fierce advocate for the people of Louisiana during his years of service as a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives. He has been a leader on many issues, especially criminal justice reform. He has been a strong partner, and he has challenged me at times. Ted is never afraid to speak up for what is right and work hard for those he represents, and that is why he is an excellent choice for this position. I will miss having him as a confidant in the State Capitol, but President Biden picked an experienced and accomplished Louisiana leader when he selected Ted for this job.”