City Council Agenda May 23 Meeting – Tonight

Notice is hereby given that a Public Hearing on the City of Natchitoches BUDGET for the fiscal year 

June 1, 2022 through May 31, 2023 will be held on Monday, May 23 at 4:30 PM, at the Natchitoches City Council Chambers, 716 Second Street, Natchitoches, LA 71457.

PUBLIC NOTICE

Any Citizen that wishes to observe the City Council meeting live may do so at:

https://www.facebook.com/NPJNatLa

Natchitoches City Council will have a pre-council meeting beginning at 5:00 p.m. and ending at 5:30 p.m. to discuss non-agenda items. The City Council meeting will begin promptly at 5:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Monday of each month and will be reserved to only items on the Agenda.  The public is invited to both the pre-council meetings and council meetings with the understanding that items not on the agenda will not be discussed at the scheduled council meetings, but the public is welcome to discuss any topic at the pre-council meetings.  The City Council Meetings are held at the Natchitoches City Council Chambers located at 716 Second Street, Natchitoches, Louisiana. 

A G E N D A

1. CALL TO ORDER
2. INVOCATION
3. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
4. READING AND APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES OF MAY 9, 2022.
5. PROCLAMATIONS:

#043  Smith​Proclamation Declaring May, 2022 As Mental Health Month In The City Of Natchitoches, Louisiana.

6. PLANNING & ZONING –  FINAL:

#033​Petite​​Ordinance Amending Ordinance No. 64 Of 2001 By Changing  

Zoning Classification Of Property Described As Follows:

Lot East Side Of Jefferson Street, North By Jordan, East By Cane River, South By Pauline Johnson. (Kristen & Ronald Simpson

– 403 Jefferson St.)

7. ORDINANCES – FINAL:

#026   Harrington​Ordinance Adopting The Budget For The City Of Natchitoches For The Fiscal Year June 1, 2022 Through May 31, 2023.

#032    Nielsen​Ordinance Authorizing The Mayor Of The City Of Natchitoches, Ronnie Williams, Jr., To Execute A Third Lease Amendment To Water Tower Option And Lease Agreement With New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC, To Increase The Size Of The Lease Premises (“New Premises Area”) To Tenant To Include A 4’ X 10’ Area To Accommodate Tenant’s Needs For The Installation Of A Generator.

#034   Smith​Ordinance  Authorizing  The Mayor Of The City Of Natchitoches, Louisiana, To Enter Into A Memorandum Of Understanding With The Natchitoches Economic Development Alliance, Inc., Which Said Memorandum Provides For Services To Be Provided By The Natchitoches Economic Development Alliance, Inc., Providing For A One Year Term,  Providing For Advertising, Further Providing For Severability, And Further Providing For A Repealer And Effective Date Of Ordinance.

8. ORDINANCES –  INTRODUCTION:

#035   Nielsen​Ordinance Authorizing The Issuance By The City Of Natchitoches, State Of Louisiana Of Its Taxable Utilities Revenue Bonds, Series 2022, In An Amount Not To Exceed Nine Hundred Thirty-Five Thousand Dollars ($935,000), Prescribing The Form, Terms And Conditions Of Said Bond;  Providing For The Payment Thereof; Entering Into Certain Other Covenants And Agreement In Connection With The Security And Payment Of Said Bonds; Selling Said Bonds To The Clean Water State Revolving Fund;  Authorizing The Execution Of A Loan And Pledge Agreement And Other Loan Documents With The Louisiana Department Of Environmental Quality;  Providing For The Delivery Of The Bonds To Said Department; And Providing For Other Matter In Connection Therewith.

#036   Smith​Ordinance To Designate Funds From The American Rescue Plan For Use By The City Of Natchitoches To Provide Assistance To Households In Maintaining Housing Stability And To Otherwise Provide With Respect Thereto.

9. RESOLUTIONS:

#044  Elie​Resolution Authorizing The Mayor To Advertise And Accept Bids For West Natchitoches Water Main Replacement, Phase I (Bid No. 0648)

#045  Petite​Resolution Authorizing The Mayor To Execute Change Order No. 1 For The Purchase Of A Forklift/Telehandler For The Purchasing Warehouse (Bid No. 0638)

#046  Harrington​Resolution Authorizing The Execution Of A Legal Services Agreement With Baron & Budd, P.C., Cossich, Sumich, Parsiola & Taylor, LLC, And Washington & Wells, Attorneys At Law, And To Otherwise Provide With Respect Thereto.

 #047   Elie​ Resolution Authorizing The Mayor To Execute Change Order No. 1 To The Contract Between The City Of Natchitoches And Williams Equipment Services, LLC, For FY 2021-22 Phase 1 Street Rehabilitation. (Bid No. 0641)

10. FINANCIAL REPORT:    Clarissa Smith – Brown
11. ANNOUNCEMENTS:
• The next scheduled City Council meeting will be Monday, June 13, 2022.
• The offices of the City of Natchitoches will be closed on Monday, May 30, 2022 for Memorial Day.

NPSO, NPFD# 4 AND EMS RESPOND TO BELLWOOD STRUCTURE FIRE

(Bellwood)-Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Deputies, Natchitoches Parish Fire Protection District #4 and Natchitoches Regional Medical Center EMS responded on May 19 around 10:12 pm to NATCOM 911 Center reports of a structure fire in the 400 block of Bellwood Church Road in Bellwood according to the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office.

According to NATCOM 911 Center, the residence owned by Daniel and Kayla Mathis was a total loss.

The cause of the fire is being determined by NPFD #4.

A fireman was treated at the scene for exhaustion by EMS and released without transport.

There were no injuries.


The 2022 Silver Celebration Natchitoches Jazz/R&B Festival is a Resounding Success!

Natchitoches’ downtown riverbank was transformed into a packed, standing room only musical powerhouse by the annual Natchitoches Jazz and R&B Festival, Saturday, May 21. This year’s event, in its 25th year of musical excellence, featured 26 bands and singers on several stages playing everything from Zydeco to Jazz, Country, and Rock throughout the day to a delighted crowd.

The festival continued its tradition of featuring a wide variety of musical styles as well as encouraging local talent. The 50 Man Machine returned with what may very well be the only bagpipers and Celtic dancers ever to grace a Natchitoches stage, showing once again that bagpipes make everything better! The locally grown acts of The Snake Doctors, The Nakatosh Rhythm Chiefs and Forsyth Jazz Collective as well as the Kelli Roberts Band were just a sampling of the musical entertainment available to festivalgoers.

The main stage was opened by Houston’s Klockwork band, featuring several members who are NCHS Alumni. Their return home was celebrated by the NCHS Class of 1975 who came out wearing “NCHS Class of ‘75” t-shirts to support their classmates. The group’s superb R&B tunes were followed by the Chase Tyler Band’s Country and Swamp Pop.

Mother Nature threw a wrench into the works with a brief shower and a series of lightning strikes, necessitating shutting down the sound systems for about an hour. In the best “The show must go on” tradition, emcee and 94.9 The River radio personality, Trini Triggs introduced local singing sensation Deshawn Washington who treated the audience to several of his well-known hits sang a cappella. This wonderful bit of impromptu lagniappe delighted the audience.

The lightning delay was handled with aplomb by festival officials who juggled the schedule in order to keep things moving. Johnny Earthquake and the Moondogs, a perennial fixture of the local musical scene, graciously ceded most of their playing time. The group played a few songs along with guitar legend James Burton.  Marty Haggard, son of the legendary Country star, played a set of his father’s many hits.

In addition, here was also a short ceremony at which the James Burton Foundation, dedicated to promoting music education for young people, donated eight guitars to the Natchitoches Boy’s & Girl’s Club.

The legendary Grammy winning group The Commodores delighted the festivalgoers with their well known hits from a almost 50 years of making music. Their eagerly awaited performance was moved up to insure they would not be hindered by the possibility of the storm returning. Luckily, the storm did not return and the Journey tribute band Resurrection returned for a second year to Natchitoches, closing out the evening with a superb performance that kept the good times rolling. The musicians in this year’s festival once again gave the audience their money’s worth and then some.


Northwestern State adds San Jose State transfer forward for eighth signee of class

The Northwestern State men’s basketball program added its eighth signee of this recruiting class in San Jose State transfer Majok Kuath.

The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 7.4 points and five rebounds per game with 65 percent shooting in his five appearances this past season.

All five appearances occurred consecutively in the month of February, which included one start.

“Majok is a high-motor forward that can really impact the game with his intensity and pace,” said NSU coach Corey Gipson. “He’s a great rim protector, an athletic finisher and a high-level defender.

“He’ll be a guy that’s asked to guard every square inch of the floor and guard multiple positions. He’s a defensive catalyst.”

The rising junior produced a season-high 13 points, six rebounds and two blocks against Wyoming.

Kuath played two seasons at Hutchinson Community College (Kan.), averaging 13 points and 6.6 rebounds as a sophomore while shooting 61 percent.

He primarily came off the bench as a freshman but still managed 12.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, which included a 34-point, 15-rebound effort in which he shot 13-15 from the field.

Kuath prepped at Kearns High in Salt Lake City, Utah, averaging 17.3 points and 9.6 rebounds per game with 14 double doubles as a senior.


Demons season ends as comeback against UIW falls short

LAKE CHARLES – The Northwestern State baseball team’s season came to an end in a flurry of home runs.

Incarnate Word’s Alec Carr hit three of his team’s Southland Conference Tournament-record-tying six home runs – three of which came leading off innings – giving the Cardinals enough of a cushion to withstand a furious Demon rally and hold off for a 14-10 elimination-game win at Joe Miller Ballpark on Friday afternoon.

“We fought hard,” sixth-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “There were a couple of plays in the game – we lose the ball with the bases loaded on a pop up to left field and we get hit with a ball with the bases loaded – if those two plays go the way they go 90 percent of the time, we’re looking to extend the lead in the ninth. We just didn’t play well enough to win.”

The Demons (25-29) trailed by 11 entering the seventh inning after Carr’s third home run of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning and appeared headed for a second straight run-rule loss in an elimination game.

A flurry of pinch hitters kept Northwestern State alive.

Bryce Holmes led off the seventh with a single to center before Cameron Parikh connected on a pinch-hit, two-run home run – the Demons’ first pinch-hit blast since Austin Stegall connected on a solo home run off the bench at New Orleans on May 19, 2018.

Parikh’s second home run of the season was good for NSU’s first multi-run inning of the game after scratching out single runs in the first, third and fourth innings.

While the Demons waited to tally a multi-run inning, the Cardinals (20-30) did so on three occasions, blowing the game open with consecutive four-run innings in the fourth and fifth.

The bases-loaded swing plays Barbier referenced came in those innings.

With two outs in the fourth, Gus Collins relieved Cameron Taylor and got a high pop fly to shallow left off the bat of Daniel Calabrese that fell between a pair of Demon defenders, scoring all three runs and giving the Cardinals a 9-3 lead.

Northwestern State was in position to answer in the fifth, driving starter Chandler David from the game after three walks loaded the bases with two outs.

Cam Sibley’s hard-hit grounder to the right side off reliever Kaddin Mikulik (1-1) appeared headed for right field to score at least one run and maybe two. However, the ball hit a Demon base runner, ending the inning and keeping UIW in control.

The Cardinals built their lead on the strength of six home runs in the first six innings – three by Carr, who tied the tournament’s single-game individual record.

UIW led off the first three innings with home runs against right-hander Johnathan Harmon (5-6), who lasted 2 1-3 innings, surrendering nine hits and five runs.

After Parikh kept the game alive, the Demons were efficient in a four-run eighth, scoring their runs on an RBI single by Gabe Colaianni — who enjoyed a career-best four-hit day, driving in three runs – a bases-loaded hit by pitch by Larson Fontenot and a two-run single by Miguel Vega.

Dawson Flowers stranded the bases loaded in the eighth, giving the Demons a last gasp in the ninth.

Senior shortstop Cam Sibley drew a leadoff walk before Jake Haze singled. Sibley scored on Coalainni’s second RBI single of the game before reliever Steve Hayward retired the final two Demons to give UIW its fourth win against NSU this season.

“The last one’s always hard,” Barbier said. “We appreciate the seniors. They’ve done a lot for this program in their time here – some of them an extended time because of COVID. The game, right now that it’s over, needs to be about them and what they’ve done for our school.”

Incarnate Word 14, Northwestern State 10
NSU 101 100 241 – 10 14 0
UIW 131 441 00x – 14 17 0
W – Kaddin Mikulik (1-1). L – Johnathan Harmon (5-6). 2B – NSU, Gabe Colaianni 2, Jeffrey Elkins. UIW, Nixon Brannon, Daniel Calabrese. HR – NSU, Cameron Parikh (2). UIW, Ridge Rogers (6), Alec Carr 3 (8), Roberto Gonzalez (5), Hernan Yanez (4). Highlights: NSU, Jake Haze 2-4; Gabe Colaianni 4-6, 2 2Bs, 3 RBIs; Cam Sibley 2-3. UIW, Carr 4-5, 3 HRs, 4 RBIs; Gonzalez 2-3, HR, RBI; Yanez 3-4, HR, 3 RBIs; Brannan 2-5, 2B, 2 RBIs; Calabrese 2-5, 2B, 3 RBIs.
Records: Northwestern State 25-29, Incarnate Word 20-30.

Photo: Leighton Chamblee/McNeese Athletics


The Natchitoches Farmer’s Market Hosts the Annual Battle of the Badges Cooking Contest

There was no shortage of family fun to be had in Natchitoches Saturday, May 21. The Natchitoches Farmer’s Market hosted the annual “Battle of the Badges” cookoff between the Natchitoches Fire, Police and Sheriff’s Departments. The contest featured chefs from the three departments cooking steaks and shrimp donated by Trotter Meats and Pineville Farm Stand. The first responder chefs then roamed the farmer’s market looking for ingredients and sides from the many vendors at the market. It was a hard-fought contest worthy of a hit cooking show as firefighters, deputies and police officers worked furiously to complete their meal before the clock ran out.

The judges had a hard time indeed picking a winner from three sets of superbly cooked steak and shrimp dishes with some really innovative touches (the Fire Department’s made from scratch honey butter was culinary genius.) After some debate and extensive tasting, the judges named the Natchitoches Sheriff’s Department the champion chefs, breaking a two-year streak by the Natchitoches Fire Department. The winners received $100.00 and possession of the competition’s travelling trophy.


Natchitoches Police welcome three new officers

Natchitoches Police welcome three new officers after graduating from the Alexandria Regional Police Academy

The Natchitoches Police Department has three new officers that graduated from the Alexandria Regional Police Academy earlier today. The three new officers are Jonathan Severance, Justin Hall and Gavin Watson.

The new officers spent several grueling months at the Alexandria Regional Police Academy and will participate in the Natchitoches Police Department’s field training program to gain more experience.

Officer Jonathan Severance also served as class president of the police academy.

If you would like to report suspicious activity please contact the Natchitoches Police Department at (318) 352-8101. Remember all information given shall remain confidential.

How to report an anonymous tip via Natchitoches Crime Stoppers:

You can also report a tip anonymously by downloading the P3 Tips app on your smart phone or by calling Natchitoches Crime Stoppers at (318) 238-2388. All tips remain confidential and the caller can receive a cash reward up to $2,000 for the arrest of an offender.


Friends of the Library Mini Book Sale

The Friends of the Natchitoches Parish Library (FONPL) will be having a mini book sale at the Natchitoches Parish Library (NPL), beginning Monday, May 23. Thousands of items will be available for purchase including movies, tv shows, paperbacks, hardbacks, and audiobooks. All proceeds will go to the FONPL to help support future NPL programming.

The FONPL has previously helped sponsor such programs as the NPL’s monthly adult fitness series (which has included line dancing, meditation, Zumba, and a walking club), children’s yoga, the teen anime club, and the annual summer reading program, among others.

Several shelves will be available for browsing in the third-floor meeting room at the NPL, with new items being stocked each day. All items are being offered for 50 cents each. The sale will run during regular business hours, Monday, May 23- Saturday, June 4.

No credit or debit card payments are possible, and change cannot be made by library staff. 


LSMSA Class of 2022 celebrates 38th commencement ceremony

Ninety-four seniors from the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts (LSMSA) graduated during the school’s 38th Commencement Ceremony on May 21 in Prather Coliseum on the campus of Northwestern State University.

“The Louisiana School is a continuum with a strong past and a hopeful future, said Executive Director Dr. Steve Horton. “As you celebrate this significant milestone in your life, I encourage you to keep in mind the support and encouragement you received during this journey.” He expressed appreciation to everyone who makes the Louisiana School possible, including citizens throughout the state, legislators, elected officials, alumni, families, faculty, staff and students.

LSMSA’s commencement began in Prather in 1985 with 172 members of the first graduating class. Horton began the 38th commencement by recognizing some of the senior administration who have helped make the school’s success possible, including Chief of Staff and Director of Administration Dr. John Allen (’98); Director of Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Kristi Pope Key; Director of Enrollment Management and Institutional Research Emily Shumate; and Director of Support Services Ro Slutsky.

Ha-Ya Davis of Hammond spoke to looking forward as she delivered the senior address.

“We have endured many challenges,” she said. “These challenges were not setbacks, disappointments, or disadvantages. To paraphrase Michelle Obama, ‘They were experiences in facing and overcoming adversity…’ We have developed the durability and maturity that we need to pick ourselves up and keep moving forward. We must keep looking forward.”

Dr. Claire Norris, Vice President for Advancement at the University of Louisiana System, was the keynote speaker.

Speaking to the graduating class she said, “This accomplishment could not be achieved without you trying, even when you were afraid; without you persisting, even when you felt insecure; without you achieving, even after you failed.”

She gave students some revolutionary, timeless advice that’s priceless:

  • Doing the right thing is not easy, but it’s worth it to you and the larger public good
    Be intentional in life’s journey and understanding your place in it, for you only have a minute
  • Have a team, but make sure that team is diverse
  • Don’t fake it, ask for help, you have a village

Of those students moving on to the next stage of their lives, 67 percent will attend 13 colleges and universities in Louisiana while 33 percent are headed to 25 different universities throughout the U.S. and abroad. Collectively, the LSMSA Class of 2022 has been awarded over $20 million in merit-based scholarships. This is in addition to more than 1,650 hours of college credit through articulation agreements and dual enrollment credits, which over 60 percent of students took advantage of.

“With LSMSA as your alma mater, know that we hope we have given you what you need to thrive in your next steps in life,” he said. “You will continue to bring esteem and distinction to your alma mater as all of our graduates have done for nearly four decades as you serve you serve your communities, country, and humanity in various and diverse careers and professions. It’s your responsibility.”


OPPORTUNITY: Meter Reader

JOB TITLE:  ​Meter Reader

DEPARTMENT:  ​Utility

ESSENTIAL DUTIES:  ​Will be required to read all types of water and electric meters both electronically and visually. Ability to effectively communicate verbally and in writing. Responsible for connecting and disconnecting utility services. Must be able to learn how to operate various electronic meter reading equipment and software. Basic math skills are required.

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS:

​High School diploma, or GED Equivalent.

CONTACT:  ​City of Natchitoches, Human Resources Department located at 1400 Sabine St., or P.O. Box 37, Natchitoches LA 71458-0037. Applications may also be picked up upstairs at City Hall located at 700 Second St. or may be downloaded at www.natchitochesla.gov

Applications will be accepted through: June 6, 2022

THE CITY OF NATCHITOCHES IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER.


Kiwanis with the K-Kids Club at NSU E-Lab

The Kiwanis Club of Natchitoches spent the afternoon of Monday, May 16th planting 3 rose bushes, 2 pear trees, and 1 peach tree with the K-Kids club at NSU E-Lab. This sustainability project was done in honor of Arbor Day and brought approximately 50 kids outside to plant, water, and weed in the beautiful E-Lab garden.

The Kiwanis Club of Natchitoches sponsors several Service Leadership Clubs in the area. K-Kids is the largest service organization for elementary school students with more than 36,000 members worldwide. It is a student-led community service organization that operates under school regulations and draws its members from the student body. Currently, the Kiwanis Club sponsors active K-Kids clubs at NSU E-Lab and NSU Elementary Magnet. The local Kiwanis Club also sponsors two Builders Clubs, one at NSU Middle Lab and the other at Natchitoches Middle Magnet. Builders Club is the largest service organization for middle school and junior high students, with more than 45,000 members worldwide.


St. Mary’s Commencement Ceremony Celebrates the Class of 2022

Thirty students representing the Class of 2022 recently graduated from St. Mary’s Catholic School during the one hundred and thirty third Commencement ceremony for the school.  Bishop Robert Marshall and Superintendent Tommy Roque were in attendance representing the Catholic Diocese of Alexandria.  Father Blake Deshautelle, Chancellor, Principal Jason Lachica, along with the faculty and staff of St. Mary’s, were also present for the evening.

Class Valedictorians reflected on lessons learned, values taught and class bonds during their years at St. Mary’s.  Valedictorians maintaining a 4.0 grade point average, while taking honors and dual enrollment courses, were Camille Ball, Emma Broadway, John Henry Ingrish, Anna Kate Jackson, William Mayeux, Abigail Ramian and Cal Sukurek. 

In addition, the following awards were presented during the ceremony: 

The American Legion Patriotism Award was given to Graeme Fidelak by the Gordon Peters Post of Natchitoches. This award is given to one male student who has set an example of patriotism, loyalty, and leadership. 

The American Legion Auxiliary Award was presented to Emma Stewart.  This award is given to a graduating senior girl who has demonstrated outstanding characteristics in Americanism, leadership and citizenship, all of which have been utilized in serving her school, community and church. The recipient also must have participated in Louisiana Girls State.

The Susan Satriano Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Sheridan Pesnell and Will deVargas.  This scholarship was set up for high school seniors that have had to deal with the hardships, emotional scars, and devastation of seeing a parent battling and unfortunately succumbing to cancer.  The recipients have stayed faithful to the importance of education during the roughest of times. 

The St. Mary’s recipient of the Lion’s Club Scholarship was presented to Cameron Bienvenu.  The Natchitoches Chapter of the Lions Club awards scholarships to seniors who have excelled academically, who serve others, who are respected by their peers and who exemplify good moral character.  The scholarship is awarded to a student who plans to attend Northwestern State University.

The Louisiana Sheriff’s Honorary Membership Program recognized Emma Broadway as an alternate for their scholarship. The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office is an affiliate of the Honorary Membership Program. 

The Larry Wayne Cole Memorial Scholarship was presented to Chloe Nash.  The scholarship recipient for this award is selected on the basis of moral and ethical character, service to others, demonstrated academic and extra-curricular achievement and the promise of continued academic achievement at an accredited institution of higher learning. 

The Mayor’s Award was presented to Anna Kate Jackson.  This award is given to a senior who demonstrates outstanding leadership and community service to St. Mary’s, the City of Natchitoches, and the State of Louisiana.

The Superintendent’s Award was presented to Sarah Thibodaux.  In 2012, Mr. Thomas Roque established the Superintendent’s Award which is given each year to a graduating senior who has exhibited resilience and perseverance. 

The Kelli Sampson Agency and Shelter Insurance Foundation scholarship was presented to Lily Anna Sklar.  The recipients of this award are selected based upon scholastic achievement as well as reputation for good citizenship and good moral character.

The John and Jason McCain Memorial Scholarship was presented to Aiden Evans.  This award is given annually to a senior boy or girl who most exemplifies the characteristics of both John and Jason McCain and the spirit of St. Mary’s. This scholarship is awarded to a student who plans to attend Northwestern State University.

The Maggio Family Scholarship was presented to Cameron Bienvenu.  Sister Ann Carmel Maggio and the Maggio family established a scholarship in honor of their parents, Sam and Carmelite Maggio, whose eleven children attended St. Mary’s. The student who receives this award every year has his or her name added to a plaque that is hung in the hallway at the school.

The Michael Andrews Memorial Scholarship was presented to Cameron Bienvenu.  This award is given by the Andrews family in memory of their son who graduated from St. Mary’s. The recipient of this scholarship should possess similar characteristics of Michael:  perseverance, drive, and dedication to the all around educational experience obtained at St. Mary’s. 

The Mr. and Miss SMS award was presented to Graeme Fidelak and Emma Grace Haecker.  This award is given to the male and female students selected by the faculty and administration to represent the best of the St. Mary’s student body.  The selected students are thoroughly involved and represent St. Mary’s Catholic School by their virtues of integrity, courage, compassion, service, and humility, both inside and outside of the school.

The Bishop Martin Award was presented to Lily Anna Sklar.  This award is given to students that have led by example, attempted to maintain and exhibit Catholic Christian values, and have taken advantage of the religious foundation offered at St. Mary’s to reach their full potential spiritually, academically, and physically.

This group of students had a class average ACT composite score of 23, and were given the  opportunity to earn twenty four hours of college credit through dual enrollment courses.  The class as a whole was offered and accepted over $1.3 million in scholarships, including TOPS, over a total of 4 years.

St. Mary’s is a Catholic, co-educational college preparatory school that educates students from preschool through twelfth grade.  It is a ministry of the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Church.

 St. Mary’s Catholic School graduates pictured with Father Blake Deshautelle are (Front row, l-r): Lily Anna Sklar, Sophia Brossett, Kadence Creamer, Anna Kate Jackson, Abigail Ramian, Camille Ball, Chloe Nash and Emma Broadway.  Second row:  Sheridan Pesnell, Emma Grace Haecker, Emma Stewart, Abby Guillet and Sarah Thibodaux.  Third row:  Matthew Johnson, William Mayeux, Kelsee Bienvenu, Cameron Bienvenu, Gracie Chasteen and Hunter Willis.  Fourth row:  John Henry Ingrish, Will deVargas, Cole Fisher, Gavin LaGrange and Graeme Fidelak.  Fifth row:  Jaydyn Jackson, Cal Sukurek, Parker Byles, Daniel Johnson and Aiden Evans.  Not pictured:  Kylie Bennett.


NSU Slated to Receive $52 million in Capital Outlay funding

Among a group of bills given final legislative approval by the Louisiana House, House Bill No. 2 presents a comprehensive Capital Outlay budget. This bill has yet to be signed by Governor John Bel Edwards. Once the governor signs the legislation into law, the Section sends agencies letters notifying them of capital outlay appropriations and of the procedures required to initiate funded projects.

Health Performance Center, Planning and Construction – Payable from State General Fund (Direct) Non-Recurring Revenues

$5,000,000

Renovation of Roy Hall, Planning and Construction – from General Obligation Bonds (Priority 5)

$9,765,000

Replacement of John S. Kyser Hall, Planning and Construction – Payable from General Obligation Bonds

Priority 1 – $3,907,680
Priority 5 – $33,195,000
Total – $37,102,680


Blessed: Graduation Season

The month of May boasts many memorable holidays and events. We honor our Mothers, we remember our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day, Cinco de Mayo, Teacher Appreciation Week and the Kentucky Derby. May, in the South, also indicates the end of the school year for most students.

Last, and certainly not least, May is graduation season.

Recently I was looking through my own senior book with all of my memorabilia. It is a book that recorded all of my future goals and dreams, photos of friends, copies of old prom invitations and tickets to concerts that were attended. It truly is fun to go back and chuckle at the differences in me now compared to thirty years ago. Most of it is a little on the embarrassing side, especially when I ran across my school transcript.

Looking at that old transcript always brings a sense of sadness and regret. As I mention to anyone that will listen to me, I simply was not a good student and I often want to apologize to my old teachers when I see them. I was more on the social pathway and not so much on the academic pathway. I try not to wonder how different my life would have looked had I really applied myself during those days. I also remember the deep seeded stress and worry not knowing if I would graduate.

Last week I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Lakeview High School graduation ceremony. Having worn my own Lakeview green cap and gown in 1992, I was thrilled at the chance to celebrate with this class and the administration.

As I made my way to the stage to sit with my fellow School Board members and dignitaries for the evening, I was overcome with a huge sense of unworthiness, humbleness and gratefulness. Here was this lowly ranked student, who struggled every day….preparing to go and shake the hands of these hard working graduates. My sense of not belonging quickly subsided as the Pomp and Circumstance Graduation March began to play.

As the song played, the crowd of parents, grandparents, siblings, neighbors and friends went wild clapping and cheering for their graduate. There were families with matching t-shirts, (my family never did this for me…just saying) signs and banners that declared their student’s name. I even saw huge signs with large face cut-outs of their students. I truly had chills of excitement and became teary eyed for these students as well as the love and pride that was being shown to the children.

This week I also was blessed to celebrate with the graduating class of Natchitoches Parish Technical and Career Center. It was a smaller class in size but definitely not in school spirit. I watched each one of these hard working students walk across the stage donning baby blue caps and gowns with such pride and happiness. There may have been a look or two of relief in there as well. If they were like me, they were certainly relieved!

Thursday night was Marthaville Junior High’s 8th grade graduation and the whole community showed up to support these amazing children as they make their way into high school.

Having shaken the hands of most of these graduates, all I could think of was the amount of praying, tutoring, fussing, juggling and sacrifices that all of these parents had to make in order for their child to graduate. It has been a beautiful week celebrating public education and we will continue celebrating with the Natchitoches Central Chiefs on Friday night.

It will always be the biggest blessing for me to have a front row seat, or any seat for that matter, to watch our students in Natchitoches Parish Public Schools graduate. Student achievement is why we do what we do. I cannot begin to imagine the pride that our teachers and staff must feel when they see their students outfitted in a cap and gown. Mission accomplished. These graduates will now enter into our workforce, enter into our colleges and begin their first steps to adulthood. Education is the backbone of our society and I think Natchitoches Parish produces some of the best and brightest young scholars this state has to offer.

Please always pray for our educators and school staff. It is an extremely hard but rewarding job shaping the minds of students and teaching them how to be successful, well rounded adults.

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
1 Timothy 4:12


Road trip to Tensas doesn’t disappoint

Two years ago when I visited the Tensas National Wildlife Refuge in Madison Parish for the first time, I hoped to see a bear. It didn’t happen but I saw enough and triggered the interest in my wife sufficiently that she wanted to go see this remarkable place.

A year later, it all came together when we were invited by my friend and regular Tensas visitor, Dr. Terry Jones, for the trip over to tour the refuge which touches parts of three parishes, Madison, Tensas and Franklin.

This special part of our state has a fascinating history. Founded in 1980 to preserve one of the largest privately owned tracts of bottomland hardwoods remaining in the Mississippi River delta, the refuge encompasses some 80,000 acres of pure swampy bottomland hardwood majesty. This type of habitat once covered 25 million acres, the majority of which over the years was cleared to make way for farmland, the rich soils being the major attraction.

Today, these same rich soils support some 400 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. The largest population of the threatened Louisiana black bears live here. Tantalizing too is the fact that the last verified sighting of the Ivory Billed Woodpecker, now believed to be extinct, was in 1940 on the area that now makes up the Tensas National Wildlife Refuge.

With that bit of history laid out, now back to this past Monday when we drove over to see what Tensas would show us. She didn’t disappoint.

First, Jones led us to the check station where mandatory forms were completed so refuge managers can keep count of the number of visitors. Then we headed down Mill Road where Jones and I had seen alligators on our previous visit. While not as many as we had seen on our

last visit, they were there; we watched five gators paddling easily over the waters of a borrow pit with the largest being maybe 10 feet long.

After photographing the alligators, we reversed course, drove back to the check station where Jones suggested I lead out on a slow drive down Quebec Road, telling us to keep an eye out for “critters.”

“We have sometimes seen bears along this drive,” Jones said as we motored away.

A mile or so down the road, something caught my eye. There was a bear in the roadside ditch maybe 10 feet from the car. She ascended the shallow bank and stopped next to a large tree. My wife and watched spellbound as two tiny bear cubs followed her up the bank. Our cameras and those of Jones, who had pulled to a stop behind me, were busy photographing the bear and her little ones.

They remained in the same spot as we drove off down the road talking about how fortunate we were to see such a sight. Turning around half an hour later and returning to the spot, lo and behold, the trio of bears was still there.

We got to watch one of the little guys climb a few yards up the tree for a better look, with our cameras snapping away and disrupting their afternoon of doing whatever they were doing when we spotted them.

Finally, mama bear had had enough of all the attention. She glared at us sitting in our vehicles 20 steps away from her, then rushed forward a few feet making a “huff, huff” sound.

We got the message. We had gotten to witness what we came to see and drove away leaving the bears to themselves but left with memories we won’t soon forget.


Northwestern State places 15 entries into the NCAA East Preliminaries

NATCHITOCHES – The Northwestern State track and field programs are returning to their pre-pandemic level of qualifiers in the NCAA East Preliminaries, even though marks and time nationwide improved significantly this season.

Twelve different student-athletes have 15 event entries in the preliminaries at Indiana University, which will host the event from May 25-28.

The target is to land in the top 12 individuals or relays to punch a ticket to the NCAA Championships at the University of Oregon.

NSU’s program record of 21 entries was set in 2016, but this season’s 15 entries was accomplished in a more difficult national landscape with more “super seniors” – fifth and sixth-year student-athletes because of extra eligibility from the COVID-19 pandemic – supplying better times and marks.

“This is a testament to the athletes and coaches we have to make sure that we were still able to qualify as many as we did, but most of the credit goes to the athletes,” said NSU coach Mike Heimerman. “They are getting it done.

“The faster times across the nation can be attributed to more competitors who are in their fifth and sixth seasons. It was incredibly tough across the board this year.”

To qualify for the NCAA East Preliminaries, athletes had to finish in the top 48 in the East in their individual event or among the top 24 relays.

The Demons will have 12 entries with the Lady Demons compiling three entries.

The men start the four-day competition Wednesday with finals on Friday while the women will do the same Thursday and Saturday.

Three throwers account for five of those entries, which are the first NSU male throwers to qualify since 2018.

Sophomore Djimon Gumbs ranks ninth in the discus (NSU record 193-3) to lead an NSU trio that includes freshman Tarajh Hudson (27th, 186-6) and sophomore Diamante Gumbs (35th, 182-7).

Both Gumbs qualified in the shot put as Djimon sits in 18th (61-11) and Diamante 43rd (58-1).

Staying in the field, pole vaulter Annemarie Broussard will attempt to be the second-ever Lady Demon vaulter to make the NCAAs as the junior enters in 17th with a program record 13-9.75.

Nikaoli Williams is the only NSU athlete to compete in the field and on the track as he is slated for three events after not competing in a fourth for which he qualified (triple jump).

The sophomore will take off in the long jump in 18th place (25-8), run in the 100 meters (45th, 10.24) and run a leg of the 4×100 (12th, 39.35).

Williams will be joined on the relay by seniors Kie’Ave Harry and Tre’Darius Carr, who each ran a leg of the 2018 relay that finished seventh in the NCAA Championship finals.

Others who could run a relay leg include seniors Evan Nafe or Javin Arrington or freshman Simon Wulff.

Harry leads NSU’s 100 meters contingent ranked 10th with a 10.10.

Lynell Washington will make her first regional appearance in the 100 meters, entering in 44th place with an 11.44.

The Demons will be represented in the 200 and 400 meters range.

Wulff and sophomore Dylan Swain will take swings in the 200 as each ran their qualifying time at the NSU Leon Johnson Invitational. Wulff ranks 31st (20.61) and Swain is 35th (20.63).

Junior Destine Scott will take a crack at the 400 meters with his 46.38, which ranks 31st in the field.

Hurdler Janiel Moore returns to regionals in the 400 hurdles ranked 25th with a 58.59, which she clocked in the Demon Last Chance Meet this past week.

Moore, who shaved more than a second off her previous best of 59.71, needed the new PR as her old mark would have fallen .02 seconds short.

Photo: Erik Williams, Southland Conference


FARMERS MARKET – This Saturday

The City of Natchitoches will kick-off the Natchitoches Farmers Market tomorrow (Saturday) and will be open every Saturday every Saturday from now until July 23, 2022.

The Natchitoches Farmers Market will be downtown on the riverbank from 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

May 21, 2022 – “Battle of the Badges”
May 28, 2022 – “Signs of Summer”
June 4, 2022 – “The Chicken or The Egg?”
June 11, 2022 – “Mini Makers Day”
June 18, 2022 – “Blue Grass Day”
June 25, 2022 – “Contest on the Cane!!!”
July 2, 2022 – “4-H Day”
July 9, 2022 – “Blending for Health”
July 16, 2022 – “One Mans Treasure!!”
July 23, 2022 – “Farming on the Cane”

For more information, please contact the Farmers Market at (318) 663-5190 or (318) 214-7911.


Demons’ hot start not enough to corral Colonels in tournament

LAKE CHARLES – The Northwestern State baseball team picked up where it left off in its most recent visit to Joe Miller Ballpark on Thursday.

The Demons broke quickly in their first-round Southland Conference Baseball Tournament game against No. 4 seed Nicholls but were unable to sustain that success against the Colonels bullpen.

That relief work allowed Nicholls to claw back from a trio of early deficits and edge fifth-seeded Northwestern State, 7-6, and send the Demons to Friday’s 1 p.m. elimination game against the loser of Thursday’s matchup between No. 1 seed McNeese and eighth-seeded Incarnate Word.

“When their reliever (Chase Gearing) came in, he settled the game down for them,” sixth-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “We’ve got to be able to adjust our at-bats. We had a really good game plan for the starter (Devin Desandro), which we executed well. We have to do a better job of when they bring somebody else in to extend the lead with the wind blowing out.”

The Demons (25-28) took advantage of a blustery day, connecting on a two-run home run in each of the first two innings against Desandro, who tossed six shutout innings against Northwestern State in an 8-2 Nicholls win on April 14 in Thibodaux.

Jeffrey Elkins connected on his 13th home run of the season in the opening inning, moving him into a tie for sixth on NSU’s single-season home run list and into an eighth-place tie in career home runs with his 24th.

The Colonels (26-23) had an answer for Elkins’ homer as they took advantage of some soft contact in the first inning against Demon left-hander Cal Carver (4-5), scoring runs on a groundout and an infield single.

The 2-all tie was short-lived as Austin Kirkpatrick drilled a two-run home run off Desandro in the second inning to regain the lead for Northwestern State and allow Carver to settle in.

Carver, a second-team All-Southland Conference selection, retired nine straight from the first through fourth innings before the Colonels touched him for three runs in the fifth.

That three-run inning came on the heels of an extended top of the fifth that saw Nicholls coach Mike Silva ejected from the game after a controversial walk drawn by Elkins.

After Daunte Stuart and Gabe Colaianni drew back-to-back, one-out walks off Desandro, Nicholls called on Gearing in relief. The right-hander fell behind 2-0 on Elkins and delivered a 2-1 pitch near the outside corner that was called a strike. One pitch later, Elkins was awarded first base after some confusion regarding the count, loading the bases with one out.

The Demons managed only a run in the top of the fifth – on Larson Fontenot’s bases-loaded hit by pitch – before Nicholls answered with Xane Washington’s two-run home run and a bases-loaded hit by pitch to tie the game.

Gearing kept the Demons at bay as Nicholls took the lead on a run-scoring double play in the sixth and a two-out RBI triple by shortstop Parker Coddou in the seventh.

Coddou’s hit came after Austin Cain walked on a full-count pitch with two outs and nobody aboard and proved to be a key insurance run as Kirkpatrick connected for his second home run of the game – a high-arcing shot inside the left-field foul pole – in the eighth for the only run Gearing allowed in his 4 2-3 innings of relief.

“We have to understand quicker what (Gearing) is trying to do,” Barbier said. “Early, he was locating that ball away pretty good, and we never made an adjustment. (Kirkpatrick) put a couple of good swings on balls. Today was a day where if you hit the ball hard in the air, it was going to do something good.”

The Demons made one final push against Gearing as Colaianni doubled into the right-field corner with two outs and Elkins walked to put the go-ahead run on base before Coddou ranged far to his left to gobble up Bo Willis ground ball and throw him out to seal Nicholls’ win.

Nicholls 7, Northwestern State 6
NSU 220 010 010 – 6 9 0
Nicholls 200 031 10x – 7 11 0

W – Chase Gearing (5-3). L – Cal Carver (4-5). 2B – NSU, Gabe Colaianni. NICH, Dane Simon, Xane Washington. 3B – NICH, Parker Coddou. HR – NSU, Austin Kirkpatrick 2 (4), Jeffrey Elkins (13). Nicholls, Washington (9). Highlights: NSU, Kirkpatrick 2-4, 2 HRs, 3 RBIs. NICH, Simon 3-5, 2B; Washington 3-5, 2B, HR, 2 RBIs.
Records: Northwestern State 25-28, Nicholls 26-23.

Photo: Leighton Chamblee/McNeese Athletics


STATE’S BUDGET PRIORITIZES HIGHER EDUCATION

“This year’s operating and capital outlay budgets represent the largest investment in our work in more than 15 years. Through their investment in our faculty, our research and innovation, and our campus infrastructure, our state policymakers sent a clear message that they understand the importance of our nine member institutions to the future of our state’s economy. We are grateful to our governor and our legislature for this monumental investment. For your future. For our future.”

Dr. Jim Henderson
President and CEO