Truck pulling hot tubs engulfed in flames

Natchitoches Parish Sheriffs Deputies and Natchitoches Parish Fire Protection District #7 responded to the scene of a vehicle fire on March 22 around 9:25 am on I-49 near milepost #155 Southbound at Ajax. A pickup truck pulling a trailer loaded with hot tubs was engulfed in flames. There were no reported injuries.

Fire in IP storage yard covers Campti area in smoke

Natchitoches Parish Fire Protection District #9, Natchitoches Parish Fire Protection District #3 and International Paper Fire Personnel responded to a fire on March 21 around 3:28 pm involving paper bales in an exterior storage yard at the mill north of Campti a.
Smoke was heavy in the area on Hwy. 480. Deputies assisted with traffic traveling through the area. Natchitoches Parish Fire District #6 was on stand-by for assistance.

Department of Education announces Teacher, Principal of the Year semifinalists

Congratulations to Michelle Shirley at NSU Middle Lab School on being named a semifinalist for the Louisiana Department of Education’s 2024 Teacher of the Year! The Teacher and Principal of the Year semifinalists and New Teacher of the Year finalists were announced on March 21. These 57 teachers and principals represent schools and systems across the state.

“Schools across Louisiana are beginning to make significant gains thanks to the commitment of our teachers and principals to remain focused on what matters most – improving academic outcomes,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley. “Congratulations to Louisiana’s Teacher and Principal of the Year semifinalists and our New Teacher of the Year finalists. They represent the many dedicated professionals leading our Louisiana Comeback.”

All Teacher and Principal of the Year semifinalists and New Teacher of the Year finalists will be honored at the 17th Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Awards Gala, which will be held at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans on the evening of July 22. This exciting event is co-sponsored by Dream Teachers.

Twenty-four teachers and 24 principals have been named Teacher and Principal of the Year semifinalists. Nine teachers have been named New Teacher of the Year finalists. A full list is available below.

Louisiana Teacher of the Year Semifinalists

Ascension Parish: Kelly Landry
Avoyelles Parish: Dannon Dauzat
Bossier Parish: Cory Craig
Bricolage Academy: Ronnika Allen
Caddo Parish: Janet McCrevan
City of Monroe School District: Kody Chase
East Baton Rouge Parish: Kylie Altier
Evangeline Parish: Timothy Comeaux
Franklin Parish: Jessica Parker
Grant Parish: Erin Melton
Iberia Parish: Bernadette Fruge
Iberville Parish: Devante Williams
Jefferson Davis Parish: Aerial Storer
Lake Charles Charter Academy: Kayla Hebert
Natchitoches Parish: Michelle Shirley
Ouachita Parish: Brittany Ellis
St. John the Baptist Parish: Tariane Placide
St. Mary Parish: Chasity Toups
St. Tammany Parish: Kellee McClain
Tangipahoa Parish: Dennis Pevey
Vernon Parish: Christopher Deon
Warren Easton Charter: Ryan Gilbert
The Willow School: Richard Martin
Zachary Community School District: Sandra Saye-Foucqueteau

Louisiana Principal of the Year Semifinalists

Allen Parish: Jennifer Doucet
Ascension Parish: Marvin Evans
Beauregard Parish: Mark Weldon
Bienville Parish: Scott Canady
Bossier Parish: Michael Pedrotty
Calcasieu Parish: Jose Cobian
Cameron Parish: Lindsey Fontenot
DeSoto Parish : Barry Carter
Jefferson Parish: Monya Criddle
Lafayette Parish: Tia Trahan
Lafourche Parish: Ragan Lorraine
Lincoln Parish: Jennifer Martin
Lincoln Preparatory School: Gordan Ford
Livingston Parish: Jason St. Pierre
Plaquemines Parish: John H. Vanison, Jr.
Rapides Parish: Tracy Vorrice
St. Charles Parish: Shannon Diodene
St. James Parish: Angie Poche
St. Landry Parish: Mitchell Fontenot
St. Martin Parish: Wanda Phillips
Terrebonne Parish: Blaise Pellegrin
Vermilion Parish: Sonya Louviere
West Baton Rouge Parish: Taya Loupe
West Feliciana Parish: Karolyn Taylor

Louisiana New Teacher of the Year Finalists

Bossier Parish: Camille Cole
Livingston Parish: Payton Onellion
St. Landry Parish: Rebecca Spears


Livingston Parish: Phoenix LeBlanc
Plaquemines Parish: Emily Barker
Zachary Community School District: Tristan George


Bossier Parish: Brad Winstead
Calcasieu Parish: Spencer Butts
West Baton Rouge Parish: Anthony Felder

The LDOE recognizes that great teachers and school leaders are critical to student success. Annually, the Department, in partnership with Dream Teachers and the Louisiana Association of Principals, recognizes and celebrates some of the state’s most exceptional educators through the Teacher and Principal of the Year programs. This is the second year of the state’s New Teacher of the Year program, which recognizes the outstanding contributions of first-year classroom teachers.

These programs provide an opportunity to acknowledge those teachers and leaders who are making exceptional gains with students. Their commitment to student success exemplifies Louisiana’s education profession. School systems from across the state submitted nominations for the state-level Teacher, Principal and New Teacher of the Year process. Additional information about these awards programs is available on the LDOE website.

Demons break out early, cruise past LSU-Alexandria

The Northwestern State baseball team ended its longest homestand of the season with a near letter-perfect victory.

The Demons’ 12-3 win against LSU-Alexandria on Tuesday night could not have followed seventh-year head coach Bobby Barbier’s plan any better.

Six Northwestern State (13-7) pitchers combined to limit the visiting Generals to five hits, and the Demons extended an early lead as NSU finished its season-long homestand with a 7-1 record.

“We’ve pitched it well in the early part of the season,” Barbier said. “When you do that, starters go deep in games, and you get some relievers who get hot and you rely on them when the games are tight. We’ve had a lot of that. It was good to see some of those guys go out and compete.”

Before Tuesday night’s designated short start by Ethan Francis (1-0), a Northwestern State starting pitcher had worked five innings or more 17 times in the Demons’ first 19 games.

Francis went two innings Tuesday night, allowing one run and striking out three to earn his first win of the season. The senior right-hander from Miscouche, Prince Edward Island, Canada, started a parade of NSU pitchers who limited the Generals to one run in the second, fourth and fifth innings.

The NSU offense held up its end of the bargain, putting together four multi-run innings including a three-run fourth and a four-run fifth that put the game out of reach. That performance stood in stark contrast to the teams’ earlier meeting this season when the Demons scored one run in five different innings and held on for a 5-4 win on Feb. 21.

“We extended the lead, which was good to see,” Barbier said.

Freshman Michael Dattalo helped key the early surge, collecting his first career four-hit game and driving in three runs in his first four at-bats.

Dattalo singled home Daunte Stuart, whose first-inning triple scored Jeffrey Elkins, to cap a two-run first inning. He led off the Demons’ two-run third with a double and scored on Jake Haze’s bases-loaded walk.

Dattalo again played run producer in the fourth and fifth innings, doubling home Stuart in the fourth and singling home Elkins in the fifth. Through the first 20 games of his NSU career, Dattalo has racked up 32 hits and leads the Demons with a .427 average and 18 RBIs.

“Mikey was fantastic,” Barbier said. “He’s been as mature a hitter at his age or any other age since he’s been here. When we’re down, he gets us going. We had a few bad at-bats there in a row, and he got us going with the double to start the third.”

Dattalo and Stuart (3-for-5, 2 RBIs) combined for half of the Demons’ 14 hits while 12 different NSU batters reached base.

The Demons had four players make their NSU debuts Tuesday night – all in the seventh inning. Left-hander Tim O’Connor struck out two in a scoreless top of the seventh while James Starnes singled home a run in his first career at-bat in the bottom half. Both AJ Bailey and Jardy Montgomery also saw their first action in a Demon uniform.

Northwestern State returns to action Friday when they travel to Eugene, Oregon, for their first matchup with Oregon. First pitch in the opener of the four-game series at PK Park is set for 6:05 p.m. Central Daylight Time.

Northwestern State 12, LSU-Alexandria 3

LSUA     010 110 000 – 3 5 0

NSU       202 340 10x – 12 14 0

W – Ethan Francis (1-0). L – Cameron Daigle. 2B – NSU, Michael Dattalo 2, Bo Willis, Cole Horton. 3B – NSU, Daunte Stuart. HR – LSUA, Blaise Foote. Highlights: LSUA, Dominic Thibodeaux 2-4. NSU, Stuart 3-5, 2 RBIs; Dattalo 4-5, 2 2Bs, 3 RBIs.

Records: LSU-Alexandria 15-13; Northwestern State 13-7.

Latino Living podcast features Gipson

New Media, Journalism and Communication Arts students at Northwestern State University have released the latest episode of “Latino Living,” a monthly podcast that highlights various aspects of Hispanic life, culture and issues facing Hispanic students who attend Northwestern State. The goal of the podcast is to share open conversations and ideas with a worldwide audience. 

This segment, recorded before the end of NSU’s basketball season, highlights head men’s basketball Coach Corey Gipson, who announced his resignation from NSU on March 12 to take a job as head coach of his alma mater, Austin Peay.

During the podcast Gipson discusses the importance of winning and succeeding off the court and in the game of life. He also shares his appreciation of working with international students as both assistant coaching staff and players.

“Latino Living” is produced by members of NSU’s Hispanic Student Journalist Association under advisement of faculty from the Department of New Media, Journalism, and Communication Arts. “Latino Living” is produced in the NMJCA Podcast Studio by Lia Portillo Cantarero, producer; Laura Cabarcas Vargas, technical director, and Naydu Daza Maya, host. 

Episodio 2 can be accessed at:



Dr. Nick Taylor, assistant professor, is advisor to the group.  Information on NSU’s Department of New Media, Journalism and Communications Arts can be found at

NSU STEM Center hosts outreach for rural youth, has plans for kid and adult programming

Northwestern State University’s Region 6 LaSTEM Network Center partnered with Regions 3 and 8 to host the first RECIPE for Rural STEM Day, a collaborative GUMBO (Geographically United for Making Better Opportunities) on March 9.  LSU-Alexandria allowed the Region LaSTEM Centers to host the event at the Alexandria Mega Shelter with more than 655 fifth grade students from Grant, Concordia, LaSalle, Lincoln, Rapides, Vernon and Winn parishes in attendance.  

“The way we introduce students to STEM in cities like Baton Rouge, Lake Charles and New Orleans is very different when it comes to our rural communities,” said Jennifer DePriest, director of Region 6 LaSTEM Center, CenlaSTEM. “The Directors of the nine LaSTEM Centers were asked to choose a statewide initiative.  RECIPE for Rural STEM is mine. I believe STEM should be Relevant, Educational, Career Minded, Impactful, Purposeful and Engaging. What better way to do this in Louisiana, then by creating a collaborative GUMBO?  Having events like this will allow us to truly be Geographically United for Making Better Opportunities.” 

Participating organizations represented business and industry, healthcare and education that included 4-H, the Alexandria Zoo, Cabrini Hospital, Central Louisiana Advanced Healthcare Education Center (AHEC), Central Louisiana Technical Community College Cloud Computing, Crest Industries, David Sproles Electronic Workshops, Holy Savior Menard Robotics, KALB, KidWind, KLAX, Learning Blade, Louisiana Delta Community College, Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts, LSU-A, M&M Sound, Northeast Louisiana Children’s Museum, Northern Louisiana Medical Center, Rapides General, Rapides Parish Library, USDA Forest Service and RoyOMartin, who provided decorations. 

NSU was represented by the School of Biological and Physical Sciences, Educators Rising, College of Nursing and the Department of Engineering Technology.  

“Students had the opportunity to explore STEM in fun and engaging way. This incredible event would not have been possible without the support of these amazing organizations,” DePriest said.  

DePriest said she received positive feedback from teachers and participants. 

“They loved it!! Some even said it was the best field trip they had ever been on. They just wished it was longer.” 

DePriest is organizing upcoming events for kids and adults to familiarize them with STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) concepts that integrate problem solving, creativity and critical analysis. 

This Saturday, March 25, Youth Challenge Program – Girls STEM will launch at Camp Beauregard with the goal of eventually launching the program at facilities at Gillis W. Long and Minden. 

Coming up on April 15 she has teamed up with meteorologists Tom Konvicka and Nick Mikulas to present a Grownup STEM Day at the Region 6 STEM Center for “A Morning with Meteorologists” that will focus on tornadoes.  That program will be from 9 a.m.-noon.  DePriest said that hosting programs for adults increases the pool of volunteers with knowledge to help with programming for children and youth.   

The new Region 6 STEM Center in Alexandria is hosted by Northwestern State at 1410 Neel Kearby Blvd. in Alexandria. The STEM Center’s focus is to provide regional opportunities for PK-16 faculty and students and STEM partners to engage in activities that promote STEM culture and literacy, experiential learning and prepare a STEM workforce for the future. 

“Northwestern is proud to host the Region 6 STEM Center established by the LaSTEM Advisory Council.  The goal of the Region 6 STEM Center is to build strong foundations for STEM literacy while increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM,” Laurie Morrow, NSU’s Executive Director for Economic Development, Innovation, and Outreach.  

Information on CenlaSTEM is available at

City of Natchitoches Awarded Affordable Connectivity Outreach Grant

The City of Natchitoches has been awarded $100,000 in grant funding from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for the Affordable Connectivity Outreach Grant Program (ACP Outreach Grant Program). 

In August 2022, the FCC adopted an order establishing the ACP Outreach Grant Program to facilitate the promotion and awareness of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) among eligible households. The ACP continues to play an integral role in helping to bridge the broadband affordability gap. 

The FCC is enlisting partners nationwide to serve as trusted community messengers and providing those partners with the funding and resources needed to implement innovative strategies to reach historically underserved and unserved communities. The ACP is an FCC benefit program that helps ensure households can afford the broadband they need for work, school, healthcare and more.

The benefit provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.

“The City of Natchitoches is poised to be a trusted community messenger,” stated Mayor Williams. “We want to ensure the residents of Natchitoches are no longer an underserved population and are made aware of all the resources available to help them. Continuing to aggressively pursue funding for these initiatives ensures Natchitoches can compete with the growing technological capabilities of surrounding cities.”

The City’s Community Outreach and Grants Manager, Nicole Gray, identified and successfully applied for the ACP Outreach Grant. Her continued efforts to win grants for the City of Natchitoches help to enhance the quality of life for all residents.

Village of Natchez receives trash receptacles through Keep Louisiana Beautiful grant

The Village of Natchez was selected as one of 98 recipients of the 2023 Keep Louisiana Beautiful trash receptacle grant program made possible with funding from the State of Louisiana and the Office of the Lieutenant Governor. The Village of Natchez will install nine trash receptacles in the East, West, South and North neighborhoods. 

Through the 2023 trash receptacle grant program, Keep Louisiana Beautiful distributed 879 receptacles to 98 organizations in 40 Louisiana parishes. 

As part of the requirements of this grant, The Village of Natchez will perform a post installation litter scan and compare the data collected to preliminary scan results. Data will be shared with the public once available. 

“Litter is hurting our quality of life in Natchez,” said Mayor Patsy Hoover. “With these new receptacles installed, we will be able to reduce litter and keep our community clean and beautiful.”

“Recent data collected by Keep Louisiana Beautiful shows a reduction of litter by 56 percent in areas where trash receptacles are properly installed and maintained,” said Susan Russell, KLB Executive Director. “One of our organization’s key initiatives is to help build infrastructure that supports clean, beautiful communities. Funding trash receptacles is one way we do that. Congratulations to the Village of Natchez for being selected as a 2023 grant recipient.”

To learn more about Keep Louisiana Beautiful grant opportunities, visit 

Rotary Club learns about Cane River Children’s Services

The professionals from the Cane River Children’s Services spoke to the Rotarians on March 21 and shared their vision, purpose, and Mission Statement: Cane River Children’s Services provides trauma informed care and hope for children and families with mental health or behavioral health needs stemming from adverse childhood experiences in order to build healthier family systems. Pictured from left are Child Advocate Joy Dove-Cook, Quality Assurance and Child Advocacy Program Manager Jasmine Dilworth, Youth Care Worker Samantha Lacour, Rotarian Joe Sers, and Recreation Supervisor Holly Ellerbe (Photo by Dr. Ron McBride).

Notice of Death – March 21, 2023

Mary Oma Brister
August 1, 1937 – March 17, 2023
Service: Thursday, March 23 at 11 am at Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home 

Ollie “Dean” Harrington Maley

July 5, 1941 – March 16, 2023
Service: Wednesday, March 22 at 11 am at Blanchard St. Denis Funeral Home

Angie B. Washington

March 17, 2023
Arrangements TBA
Natchitoches Parish Journal publishes paid obituaries – unlimited words and a photo, as well as unlimited access – $80. Contact your funeral provider or . Must be paid in advance of publication. (Notice of Death shown above are FREE of charge. You may email them to

Parish Council tables creation of four Economic Development Districts, will vote at April meeting

The Natchitoches Parish Council tabled an agenda item at its March 20 meeting that would establish four economic development districts in different areas throughout the Parish. The item was tabled so the wording in the ordinance itself could be straightened out and so the Council members could have more time to study maps for the districts. The ordinances for the four districts will come back before the Council at its April 17 meeting.

There’s been a tremendous amount of economic growth in the southeastern United States and companies are looking for areas with less density, lower cost of living, and enhanced quality of life offerings. Communities are competing for jobs and economic growth, so Parishes like Natchitoches have to distinguish themselves from other communities. It’s not only about what the parish has to offer, but how it’s presented to potential companies. Time is money, so it’s important to make is as easy as possible for these companies to notice the significant benefits and advantages Natchitoches Parish has to offer.

The Parish purposefully went in and excluded residences from the Economic Development Districts. These four districts are focused on unoccupied land.

CLICK HERE to see the proposed map

What are Economic Development Districts?

They’re a targeted approach to spurring development in a particular area. Parishes that have property adjacent to an interstate could target retail development. If there’s land adjacent to water, recreational and residential economic development would be the target. For large plots of land, advanced industries like RoyOMartin would be the target.

The overall goal is to attract new businesses and jobs with custom and targeted incentives. It’s also important to allow for increased investment in infrastructure to support these additional businesses and jobs. This also adds a spotlight on the community.

How does an Economic Development District work?

Once the district is created and the Parish Council votes to approve its creation, the Parish will enter into a cooperative endeavor agreement with the Natchitoches Economic Development Alliance (NEDA). From that point, they can institute an economic development levy in the districts. NEDA, along with the Parish, can market the new economic development district to potential businesses. The existence of these economic development districts are a big selling point to companies.

One of two approaches can be utilized to attract new businesses and jobs:

Approach A – Provide direct incentive to an identified company

Once an interested company is identified, NEDA can work with the company and the Parish to determine if a customized incentive package is necessary and justified in order to attract the company. 

Approach B – Utilize funds generated in the districts to enhance infrastructure vital to attracting new businesses and serving existing businesses

NEDA will work with the Parish to identify infrastructure improvements in the districts necessary to better market the Parish to new businesses and better allow existing businesses to grow. This would be based on feedback from the business companies throughout the country.

Additional Benefits:

The money used for incentives and infrastructure is generated as a result of the economic growth and/or improvement of the districts. If there is growth, there will be funding available. If there is no growth, it doesn’t cost the Parish a penny. This also helps to increase confidence in government through transparency.

The Parish can also resurrect the Industrial Development Board of the Parish of Natchitoches, which would help to spur development by providing economic development financing to businesses. It would also provide a layer of local control and oversight for economic development projects. 

Louisiana’s constitution and related statues exempt Industrial Development Boards from ad valorem property taxes and sale and use taxes, in most instances. The property must be owned by the Industrial Development Board so there would need to a transfer of ownership for a set period (tax exemption attaches), then a Capital “PILOT” lease of the property back to the private entity. Finally, upon termination of the lease, ownership of the property reverts back to private entity. Lease allows private entities to forgo future tax abatements and reclaim ownership of the property at any time. Private entities retain critical benefits of ownership.

Three primary tools would be used to provide financing:

Ad valorem property tax abatement for economic development projects using a payment in lieu of tax agreement 

Sales and Use tax abatement for construction and equipment costs using a payment in lieu of tax agreement

Bond financing

Structuring abatement:

In exchange for a tax abatement, the private entities will pay an agreed upon payment in lieu of the tax (PILOT). THe level of the tax abatement and corresponding PILOT payments can be structured in a variety of ways to best ensure the desired economic benefit for the community. The flexibility allowed under the PILOT structure invites a true economic development analysis by the local community. The result is an incentive package that is only as generous as necessary to attract the project.

Other agenda items included:

Approve the reappointment of Mrs. Peggy Braxton to the Natchitoches Parish Housing Authority Board.

Approve the appointment of Mr. Cory Cason to the Northwest Louisiana Game and Fish Preserve Board.

Approve the re-appointment of Mrs. Gloria Waldrup Davis to the Natchitoches Parish Library Board.

New Business:

Introduce Ordinance 005-2023 to repeal Ordinance 28-2017 a professional services agreement with Archon Information Systems, L.L.C., D/B/A Civic Source for the administration of an online auction and sale of adjudicated properties program.

Introduce Ordinance 006-2023 to amend the Personnel Manual to add Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) and Juneteenth to the Natchitoches Parish Government observed holidays to be uniformed with the other entities in the Courthouse on State Holiday Closures.

Introduce Ordinance 009-2023 to amend the Personnel Manual to amend wording to the Employees Pay Scale if there’s an increase in the minimum wages.

Introduce Ordinance 007-2023 of the Parish Council creating an Economic Development District within the Parish of Natchitoches to be named the “Economic Development District I, Parish of Natchitoches” (THE “DISTRICT”); defining the Boundaries thereof from which certain area local and potentially State sales defining the boundaries thereof from which certain area local and potentially state sales and use tax increments will be determined and used to Finance Economic Development projects within the District, all as authorized by Part II of Chapter 27 of title 33 of the Louisiana revised statutes of 1950, as amended (The Act) and providing for other matters in connection with the foregoing.

Introduce Ordinance 008-2023 An Ordinance to provide for sale for adjudicated properties; and further providing with respect thereto.


Approve a Resolution to continue to qualify for FEMA fundings by adopting the Natchitoches Parish Hazard Mitigation Plan Update.

Other Agenda Items:

Approve to authorize the Parish President to sign the CEA with E&P Consulting to be effective upon the repeal of Ordinance 28-2017.

Approve the Board of Commerce and Industry Approval Notice (“Notice”) Tax Exemption Application #20210507-ITE – $39,810, 384 investment for Alliance Compressors.

Approve the Alliance Compressors Board of Commerce and Industry Approval Notice (“Notice”) Tax Exemption Application #20180503-ITE – $2,281,841 investment for Alliance Compressors.

Approve the Natchitoches Times as the parish official journal.

Approve Natchitoches Parish Government to enter in agreement for a Bin Site with Dan Roque at 280 Highway 491 in Cloutierville.

Approve the distribution of an RFQ for the selection of a firm to complete load ratings and repair plans for Parish bridges over a period of 3 years. The purpose of this RFQ is to ensure that a contractual agreement is in place to expedite bridge repair plans and specifications as needed, and minimize the time associated with these repair projects.

Natchitoches Parish Government: A Summary of 2022

In accordance with the requirements of Article IlI, Section 3-10.3. of Natchitoches Home Rule Charter, Parish President John Richmond submitted the following 2022 Summary to the Parish Council at its March 20 meeting. Its purpose is to provide a summary report of major administrative activities for the year 2022, and a forward-looking statement for the year 2023.

2022 was a year with many challenges, and opportunities for the good people of Natchitoches Parish. The COVID19 pandemic that dominated 2021 lessened greatly, and the threats of infection also diminished as reported cases declined. Through it all the good people of Natchitoches Parish continued to work hard, stay safe, care for friends, neighbors, and visitors, and pray for wisdom in a world that is very different.

That “very different” world for the Natchitoches Parish Government and all it’s citizens meant higher prices (caused by both inflation and supply chain issues) at every turn. We have all had to deal with rapidly rising costs in every aspect of life. From skyrocketing housing, utility and food costs to greatly increased costs (and delivery lead times) for durable goods and equipment. And like our citizens, the Natchitoches Parish Government has continued to live within our means; incurring no long term debt; always looking for ways to “stretch” our funding further through partnerships at the local, State, and Federal levels; and working every day to stabilize costs in toda’s unstable economy.

While I am sure we can all agree there is a great deal of work to do; changes to be made; and work to accomplish in our parish; let’s take a moment to look at a few of the things that defined our collective character this vear:

Actions taken to improve Parish Roads:

Since taking office in 2020 I have continued to investigate all avenues for additional funding to improve our parish road system. During this effort in 2022 it was discovered that for nearly the last 20 years a portion of Parish Government Sales tax has gone uncollected. This matter is being corrected by our Natchitoches Tax Commission and will begin being collected in April. As we look forward to this increased revenue, our plan for these additional funds (and any other additional recurring infrastructure funds the voters of Natchitoches Parish may vote in favor of) will be used to improve our road, bridge, and drainage infrastructure. A summary of this plan is shown below:

Road, Bridge, and Drainage Improvement Plan: 

Despite the greatly increased costs of road aggregate material and equipment, we remain committed to work towards a better maintained road system. And while it is disappointing that the currently available funds for our roads has not increased significantly in decades, we choose to not be defeated. Instead, we look at each day as a challenge to find new ways to be more efficient and partner with other entities like the Cane River Waterway Commission to better our roads.

As we have discussed before, the bettering of our roads is a marathon, not a sprint.

With approximately 450 miles of asphalt parish roads (nearly all beyond their useful life), and nearly as many miles of greatly neglected gravel/dirt roads (due to lack of available funding over the years), it is obvious to all parties that system wide improvement will take a great deal of time and funding. In 2022 alone more than 24,000 TONS of road base materials were placed on our Parish Roads to improve them and help keep them passable!

Long-term plan for road maintenance & improvement: 

Our first priority will always be to do what is possible to keep our parish roads passable for all vehicles who properly use them. Therefore, we are instituting a more robust permitting system for heavy haul commercial vehicles that details the “who/when/where/ and how long” for all heavy haul routes and projects. The goal of this new permitting system is to work more closely with residents and business ventures that use our fragile parish roads to ensure avoidance of road damage where possible and improve response time for road repairs.

Secondly, we plan to increase efforts to improve drainage of our roadways. Our goal is to not just “clear ditches”, but to work to improve all aspects of road drainage: Raising road elevations where possible with nearby materials from drainage backslopes, and working with utility systems to relocate their systems that inhibit good drainage. This project will be a long term and part of the “marathon” mentality mentioned earlier.

Our next priority will be to continue to leverage additional one-time funds (via partnerships, grants, and the above-mentioned additional funding) for the rehabilitation of high traffic and increased population roads that connect at both ends to State highways. You have seen some of these projects already at Fish Hatchery Road and Bermuda Road, thanks to a partnering agreement with the Cane River Waterway Commission. In 2023 you will see more of these projects at Harmony Road and Hart Road as we use Federal Grant money for these projects.

Natchitoches Parish’s response to Aging Water Systems:

As our parish was continuing the long-term recovery from Hurricane Laura, January 2021 brought “back to back” winter storms that devastated our water systems parish wide. With frozen/broken lines draining our water systems, forcing boil advisories, and endangering the health and well being of our parish residents, your parish government set out to find a solution to help restore and improve our water systems. By partnering with rural water systems, and State government, we were able to bridge the funding gap of our rural water systems to secure grant funding for the improvement of 7 of our rural water systems. These systems serve more than 20% of our rural population in approximately 40% of our parish land areas. These improvements will result in better water quality, less service interruptions, and improved access to these water systems. All of this will be accomplished in the coming months with NO REQUIRED INCREASE IN PARISH TAXES!

In 2022 these proactive water system projects began! Projects are underway across our parish with some already nearing completion; like the Sandy Point Water System that now enjoys safe, clean, reliable drinking water thanks to new equipment and the drilling of new groundwater wells! It has been exciting to watch these projects take shape and move forward with much needed improvements. These efforts will not only improve the quality of life for current residents, but also make the rural parts of our parish more accessible to those desiring to relocate to these areas.

Solid Waste Bin Sites:

2022 saw the addition of new bin sites, relocation of other sites to more accessible locations, and we are now nearing completion on the change over from open/unsecure sites to fenced/controlled sites. I am proud of the improved safety and cleanliness of our controlled sites. Our landfill continues to operate efficiently and in compliance with all local, State, and Federal guidelines.

Other 2022 Items:

Grant Funding:

In a continued effort to search for, find, and secure additional funding for projects and services that will help our residents, and position Natchitoches Parish for growth, the Natchitoches Parish Government was successful in the receipt of $7,610,200 in grant funding in 2022.

Grant funding sources for 2022 included:

  • ARPA: (Road rehabilitation, Rural Water Systems, Drainage)      $3,705,872
  • LGAP: (Road Maintenance Equipment)                                        $78,000
  • CWEF: (Sandy Point 480 Water System)                                      $300,000
                 (Chestnut/Reidhimer Water System)                                $300,000
  • Local Assistance and Trible Consistency Funding                       $564,856
  • CRWC: (Fish Hatchery Road and Bermuda Road)                      $1,848,307
  • Senior Companion Program                                                         $220,148
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program                         $108,740
  • Community Cares Block Grant                                                   $211,960
  • CSBG Cares Funding                                                                  $272,317

As promised, our budgets continue to be transparent. Every expenditure is scrutinized, and cost management is done daily. Cost savings are achieved, any waste is removed, and budgeted funds are kept in check.

Forward-Looking Projects:

The East Natchitoches Drainage project engineering is complete, reviewed and approved! Acquisition of Right of Ways is now in progress. This project will be funded entirely with grant funding provided by the Louisiana Watershed Initiative.

Most importantly, it will mitigate flooding risk to East Natchitoches, and relieve runoff problems for parts of the Natchitoches Parish south of the City of Natchitoches.

  • Federal funding is still anticipated to assist in the installation of Rural Broadband Internet service. This funding was expected in 2021, but now is hopeful for 2023. We have continued to work closely with Federal, State, and other local entities to begin the installation of new high-speed internet throughout Natchitoches Parish.
  • In my 2021 end of year summary I stated,

“I am committed to working to continue to break down the ‘silos’ of the many stake holding entities of the Parish. We are many groups, cultures, and locales; but we are ‘One Natchitoches Parish.’ It is imperative that we work together as an entire parish to know the division of ‘city vs. rural’ only serves to weaken our appeal, and our future. With a near 50/50 split in population between the City of Natchitoches and the rural parts of Natchitoches Parish it is time to understand both City and Rural are better when they work together for infrastructure improvement, job growth, education, and health care. These cornerstones of a strong community depend on the strength of ‘unity with independence.’ I encourage all Natchitoches Parish residents to speak often with their village, town, city, parish, state, and federal representatives to demand unity. Together we are much stronger than any small group who stands alone.”

I am happy to report that in 2022 we made great progress in moving forward as an entire parish! We are nearly complete with a CITY & PARISH comprehensive plan than will help us focus jointly across the ENTIRE PARISH on issues like:

  • Improved increased housing
  • Improved transportation and Infrastructure
  • Coordinated (not fragmented) Economic Development
  • Coordinated efforts regarding Job Growth and Workforce Development
  • And much more!

I am excited to see the progress we will make together in the coming years, and thankful for those who lead and participated in this effort. These efforts have already resulted in several meetings with businesses looking at Natchitoches Parish for possible relocation.

Your parish government will continue to work with the public and private sector on economic development projects to bring more employment to our parish. Natchitoches is a great place to live AND DO BUSINESS! With a great port, rail access, certified sites for industry, the resources of NSU and BCC, and a parish of hard working, qualified people, new industries and developers are looking at Natchitoches Parish as a possible place for their business and residential developments. Together we can bring these jobs, businesses, and homes to our communities.

Together, we WILL make tomorrow better than today,

John Richmond, Parish President

Parish Council reinstates Summer Youth Program, applications open April 1

The Natchitoches Parish Council approved an agenda item at its March 20 meeting to reinstate the Summer Youth Program. The program is for the parish youths to have a summer job when school is out to help them learn the value of working and earning income with two six-week sessions at $10 an hour for a total of 10 children (5 per session), choosing one from each District.

The first 5-week session will be held from May 24-June 27 with the second 5-week session running from June 28-Aug.8.

Applications will be accepted April 1-28. This will allow for screening of applicants and, if chosen, drug testing, which will be done by the Office of Human Resources.

Applications will be accepted online at and can be picked up at the Parish President’s Office (Room 210 in the Courthouse). Applications can also be dropped off at the Parish President’s Office.

Offices that are willing to accept workers include the Clerk of Court, the Health Unit, the Tax Assessor, the Office of Community Services, the Maintenance Department, the Parish President’s Administrative Office, the District Attorney’s Office, and the Highway Department.

Students will be filing, scanning, answering the telephones, and other assigned duties. One may assist the Courthouse’s in-house custodians with various activities related to building organization.

The work schedule will be 7.5 hours a day at $10 an hour. The first half hour of the day remains for department setup.

Demons host LSU-Alexandria to cap homestand

One month ago, Northwestern State welcomed LSU-Alexandria to Brown-Stroud Field to open the Demons’ 2023 home baseball schedule.

Plenty has changed in the 28 days since that matchup as the teams prepare to complete their two-game season series Tuesday night at 6 at Brown-Stroud Field. The game will air on ESPN+.

“I would hope so,” seventh-year head coach Bobby Barbier said of his Demons being in a better place than they were a month ago. “Just a better team, getting better as the season goes along like I hoped we would, and like I hope we are. I think both teams should be in a better spot.”

The Demons’ 5-4 Feb. 21 win showcased an NSU team that had played just three games before meeting a more seasoned Generals team that had played 13 games at that point.

Northwestern State (12-7) held off the hard-charging Generals (15-13), stranding the winning run on third base after a two-run LSUA rally in the ninth.

That started a run of four straight midweek wins for the Demons, who have seen Southland Conference Pitcher of the Week Chase Prestwich emerge as their mid-week starter. 

Prestwich allowed two runs in the first three hitters of the Feb. 21 matchup before settling in to spin five solid innings and allow the Demons to rally and take the lead.

“Chase pitched his tail off, which kept us in that game when things weren’t going well,” Barbier said. “I expect the same type of game, but we’re going to treat it a little differently on the mound – more of a staff day.”

Nineteen games into the season, the Demons have not had to answer many questions regarding their pitching staff as NSU’s four starters – Prestwich and the weekend rotation of Cal Carver, Alex Makarewich and Drayton Brown – have pitched at least five innings 17 times this season.

“We used Chase on the weekend and maneuvered him to be able to use him in more conference games,” Barbier said. “How do we react when that happens? How do we react to it, because we’ve had such good starts? We can almost count on our starter being there in the fifth or sixth inning. Now, it’s a different guy pitching and a different type of deal. Hopefully, we are mature enough to handle it.”

The Demon offense has matured since the first matchup with the Generals.

Northwestern State had endured a tough opening weekend at the South Alabama Jaguar Classic ahead of the first meeting with LSUA. The Demons have picked up the offense as the season has progressed.

During the first seven games of their current homestand, the Demons are averaging more than seven runs per game and have averaged more than three extra-base hits per contest.

“You could see it coming,” Barbier said of the improving offense. “At-bats getting better, not missing those 3-1 fastballs and fouling them straight back. It’s been nice to see. Can we take it and do it every day? I’m not naïve enough to think we’re going to play well every game, but can we come with the same intensity every day? Can we bring the same focus, the same intention, the same work? Can that be done every time and with great intention? We’ve shown as a team, we’ve set a great standard for that. Now can we keep and protect that standard?”

Elkins, Prestwich sweep Southland weekly honors

For the third straight week, the Southland Conference honored the Northwestern State baseball team.

This time, the league did it twice. Senior outfielder Jeffrey Elkins and sophomore right-hander Chase Prestwich were named the conference’s Hitter of the Week and Pitcher of the Week, respectively, in voting conducted by league sports information directors.

It is the first individual award for either player and marks the fourth time in the past three weeks a Demon player has been honored by the conference. Daunte Stuart was the conference’s Hitter of the Week on March 6 and Cal Carver was the SLC Pitcher of the Week one week ago.

Elkins, a Lafayette native, batted .588 in the Demons’ four games this week, recording a multi-hit game in all four contests. He delivered the first lead-off home run of his career in Friday’s win against Little Rock and moved into the top 10 in school career history in runs (120, T-9th), RBIs (113, T-10th) and total bases (281, 9th).

Elkins’ 26 home runs place him in a three-way tie for sixth in school history.

Prestwich continued his stellar start to his sophomore season, picking up a pair of wins this week.

A sophomore from Frederick, Colorado, Prestwich worked five innings of one-run ball Tuesday to defeat ULM before striking out six Little Rock hitters in two scoreless innings of relief to earn the win in relief in Saturday’s game.

Entering this week, Prestwich (4-0, 1.80) is tied for second nationally in wins, ranks 13th in strikeout-to-walk ratio (10.67), 41st in ERA and 94th in hits allowed per nine innings (6.12).

The Demons return to action Tuesday when they host LSU-Alexandria in the final game of an eight-game homestand. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. at Brown-Stroud Field.

Marthaville Elem./Jr. High announces 3rd  Nine weeks Honor Roll

3rd grade              

A Honor Roll

Zaden Belsha, Levi Cotton, Dominic Kay, Kinleigh Kilgore, Brilynn Landry, Adeline McLarty, Emersyn Remedies, Ava Strait

B Honor Roll

Preslee Brigmon, Elisa Gonzalez, Ella-Grace Jamison, Joesiah Jefferson,

Katherine Rains, Aubrey Richard, Ethan Trichel

4th grade

Principal’s List

Zoey Madison

A Honor Roll

Kaison Champagne, David Cole, Jessica Marlin, Karaline Mitchell, 

Landyn Mitchell, Natalia Soto, Landry Strahan

B Honor Roll

J’Sheen Belsha, Lily Boyler, Drake Holman, Aubrey Meshell, Jordan Scott, Taylor Shoemaker, Tripp Smith, Jazyiah Thompson

5th grade

Principal’s List

Jolina Willis

A honor Roll

Madeline Byles, Alanna Chism, Jesse Clark, Faith Marr, Jose Martinez, Janine Wells

B Honor Roll

Autumn Downs, Maekayla Howell, Hunter Jennings, Carsyn Johnson, Mattie Sattler, Riley Shoemaker, Eric Simmons, Taran Smith, Cayden Walker

6th grade

Principal’s List

Zachary Nelson, Landon Ouzts, Khloe Willis

A Honor Roll

Kellyn Mitchell, Kyleigh Greer

B Honor Roll

Mark Brock, Anna Rawls, Katie Simmons, Morgan Berry, Jaylea Brister, KJ Mitchell,          Weslyn Powell, Nathen Trichel

7th Grade

A Honor Roll

Kadance Champagne, Bella Clark, Gregory Trombley, Lilly Warner

B Honor Roll

Zayla Carlton, Gavin Clary, Lanie Clary, Ava Greer, Kevin Martinez, Lucas Miller, Jonah Roe, Isabela Soto

8th Grade

Principal’s List 

Kameryn Brigmon, Cassie Davis, Sarah Marbut

A Honor Roll

Elizabeth Howell, Adrian Martinez, 

B Honor Roll

Arista Cagle, Alyssa Sibley, Aleah Simmons

Words can not describe the emptiness

The Baldridge Dumas Communication Family, lost a long time friend and colleague, Christian Beyer who passed away unexpectedly on March 20 at Natchitoches Regional Medical Center.
Christian wore many hats at BDC from morning show host in Natchitoches on 97.5 KDBH and previously at the station in Winnfield 92.1 KVCL; as well as Cohosting the “Jammin’ With Johnny” biweekly music program, and as a sales team member.
Christian along with his big heart, booming baritone voice and bright smile will be deeply missed by his family, his many loyal fans, and everyone at BDC. Arrangements are pending. Please keep his family in your prayers.

The Residents of the Fourth Precinct

By Brad Dison

The residents of Washington Township’s Fourth Precinct in Ames, Iowa were unenthused about the upcoming 1972 presidential election.  The Democratic Party’s nominee was Senator George McGovern, who ran an anti-war campaign against the incumbent Republican President Richard Nixon.  The residents of the Fourth Precinct cared nothing for the campaign promises of either candidate.  In fact, because of a new redistricting plan, the residents of the Fourth Precinct showed no emotion at all about the upcoming election. 

In the spring of 1971, the Iowa Supreme Court drew up new legislative districts in an effort to produce House and Senate districts of equal size.  Iowa state law required all precincts to be of nearly equal population but the precincts could not cross legislative lines.  The law about legislative lines took precedent over the population provision.  In not so simple terms, a precinct had to be wholly contained within a legislative district.  No part of the precinct could extend into another legislative district.  As the Des Moines Tribune explained, “the precinct is bordered on the north by a legislative line, and on the other three sides by the City of Ames to which it cannot legally be attached for voting purposes.”  Therefore, the new redistricting plan created the Fourth Precinct.

On election day, Nixon won in a massive landslide and received nearly 18 million more votes than McGovern, the widest margin in presidential history, and all without the help of the Fourth Precinct.  Not a single resident of the Fourth Precinct visited the polls on election day.  Not one.  None of the residents of the Fourth Precinct gave an opinion on the presidential election before or after the election.  You see, due to the quirk in the Ohio State Legislature’s new redistricting plan, there was only a single building in the Fourth Precinct, a facility known as the Experimental Animal Production Area.  All of the residents of the Fourth Precinct were pigs.


1.      Des Moines Tribune, November 2, 1972, p.1.

2.     Sioux City Journal, November 3, 1972, p.15.