“Cherokee Plantation on the Cane River” Book Signing Held at Cammie G. Henry Research Center

NSU’s Cammie G. Henry Research Center was the scene of a well attended book signing for “Cherokee Plantation on the Cane River” Thursday December 12. The book traces the history of Cherokee Plantation, its restoration and the people associated with the home over the years. The plantation, scene of Louisiana’s last legal “affair of honor”, or duel, in 1839 between Generals Bossier and Gaiennie, has been only owned by two families since its construction in 1837, a remarkable continuity. The book is written by Thomas Whitehead and Diny Nolan Landen with photography by well known Lafayette photographer, Philip Gould. Ms. Landen is the great-great granddaughter of Rupert Calvert Murphy who purchased the plantation in 1891.

The plantation and grounds are a stop on the Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches’ annual Fall Tour of Homes, held each year on the second weekend in October. “Cherokee Plantation on the Cane River”may be purchased at Georgia’s Gifts or the Melrose Plantation gift shop.

The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols Performed at Trinity Episcopal Church

Natchitoches’ Trinity Episcopal Church continued a beloved community tradition of over 25 years with its annual Lessons and Carols Thursday, Dec. 12. A group of superb brass players were joined by a choir consisting of NSU students, alumni, and Trinity congregation members who filled the church with a variety of sacred music in between Bible readings. The Reverend Suzanne Wolfenbarger led the service while Dr. Kristine Coreil conducted the choir.

The night’s service “The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols” was first presented at Cambridge University’s Chapel of King’s College shortly after the end of the First World War in 1918. The service has been broadcasted each year since 1928 by the British Broadcasting Corporation. During the Second World War, there was no heat in the church and the stained glass windows had been removed to protect them from Nazi bombs. The service continued nonetheless, an example of “the long continuity of our institutions” that Sir Winston Churchill spoke of in 1940, as well as an affirmation of faith in the ultimate victory over Hitler. While many variations of the service have been performed over the years since the end of the First World War, the essential message of the service remains unchanged.

The service’s roots in the aftermath of World War I can be seen in this famous passage from the original Bidding Prayer that opens the service: “Let us remember before God and all those who rejoice with us, but upon another shore and in a greater light, that multitude which no man can number, whose hope was in the Words made flesh, and with whom we for evermore are one.” Lessons and Carols is a truly wonderful part of the Christmas season.

Spirit of Northwestern Marching Band names 2020-21 drum majors

The Spirit of Northwestern Marching Band has named Chloe Farrar of Shreveport, Abigail Kent of Benton and Jacob St. Pierre of LaPlace as drum majors for the 2020-21 academic year.

“Our drum majors are an integral part of the Spirit of Northwestern,” said Assistant Director of Bands Daniel McDonald. “They hold the top student leadership position in the entire band. Throughout the year, they work very closely with the directors on building the band through leadership training, recruitment, the band handbook, our visual training and a whole plethora of other activities. They are constantly in front of the band and are the students that best represent the qualities we strive for in our band program.”

Farrar, a sophomore biology major with a biomedical concentration and a minor in chemistry, is a graduate of Airline High School. She plays flute and piccolo and has been the piccolo section leader for the past year. Farrar serves as the current executive vice president of the Theta Nu chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi, a band service fraternity.

“Ultimately, the position of drum major is one of service,” said Farrar. “Being who I am and being in a service fraternity, I am always looking for more ways to serve the band program that I love. The Spirit of Northwestern has brought me amazing experiences, so many friends, and a second family. I wanted to pour back into the program that has poured so much into me.”

Farrar said the Spirit of Northwestern is what brought her to the university.

“I chose NSU because of the outstanding band program,” said Farrar. “All of my band directors from middle school and high school were NSU alumni, so I was introduced to the program fairly early. I then saw The Spirit of Northwestern perform at an exhibition at Parkway High School’s Marching Contest, fell in love with the band and knew from that moment that I was going to be in the band at NSU someday.”

Kent is a junior music education major, who is a graduate of Benton High School. She plays tuba and is in a leadership role in the band for the first time.

“Unlike most college drum majors, I have yet to have any drum major experience even from high school. However, it has always been a position I have had interest in,” said Kent. “I believe with my work ethic and respect from the Spirit of Northwestern and for the Spirit of Northwestern, I could join a team of three that would be able to lead the band with everything we have to give, and I am beyond excited to get started.”

Kent’s father, Jim Kent and her band director, Evan McCormick and both former members of the SON and that influenced her to attend Northwestern State.

“I wanted to attend NSU after hearing stories from my father and high school band director about their experiences,” she said. “In high school, I was still unsure of my major, but I knew for a fact I wanted to be a member of the SON no matter what.”

St. Pierre is a junior music education major and graduate of Archbishop Rummel High School in Metairie. He plays trombone and been a section leader for the past two years.

“When doing my college search, I learned about NSU’s fantastic music education program. I heard about the ‘Best Sounding Band in the Land’ and I knew I wanted to be a part of this band,” said St. Pierre. “While working this summer at the NSU drum major camp, I realized how much I missed being drum major in high school and wanted to do it again for SON.”

The first gameday performance for St. Pierre as a drum major is nine months away, but he is already thinking about it.

“I am looking forward to participating in the Spirit of Northwestern’s drum major tradition of leading pregame, which is one of the most public features of the drum majors that the public sees,” said St. Pierre.

The new drum majors see their roles as both leadership and service.

“An effective drum major should be a servant and an example setter in the band,” said Farrar. Members of the band should be able to look at the drum major as an example of what they’re supposed to do and a source of encouragement. As drum major, I also plan to be approachable and hope that my peers feel comfortable coming to me with their problems so that they feel comfortable and accepted in our band program.”

And Kent believes that service can take place in a number of ways.

“An effective drum major will serve the band to the highest ability,” said Kent. “Anything from conducting on the podium, teaching leadership classes and camps, to helping organize events the SON is involved in are all examples of the responsibilities of a SON drum major. Therefore, we must be diligent, organized, respectful, selfless and prepared for anything.”

Farrar also recognizes the importance of upholding the tradition of Northwestern State’s band program, which is widely recognized as one of the top bands in the nation.

“Without our leaders, drum majors and section leaders, our band program would not be able to flourish like it has, because our leaders have such a large role in achieving our goals,” said Farrar. I hope that our alumni will always be able to look at our current program and feel that we have held true to our traditions and who we are as The Spirit of Northwestern.”

Weyerhaeuser Foundation continues support of NSU Athletics

For the better part of two decades, the Weyerhaeuser Foundation has provided periodic support of Northwestern State athletics.

The two paired up again recently as the Weyerhaeuser Foundation provided an $8,000 grant to the Demons Unlimited Foundation for use in completing the Brown-Stroud Field renovation project.

The Weyerhaeuser Foundation annually supports U.S. and Canadian communities where it has a significant presence or business interest. Community sizes range from rural to metropolitan and the grants, provided through Weyerhaeuser’s employee-advised Giving Fund, are distributed after developing funding priorities within four focus areas in the communities Weyerhaeuser serves.

“Support for the NSU athletic program by the Weyerhaeuser Foundation continues to result in a win-win partnership,” said NSU Director of Athletics Greg Burke. “The impact NSU Athletics has on the region in terms of economic impact, quality of life and an enhanced work force is complemented by the generosity of the Weyerhaeuser Foundation to give back to its communities and, in this case, to help NSU continue to grow and prosper. The NSU-LSU baseball game, for example, last spring drew a crowd of over 3,000 fans, provided an exciting and affordable venue for families and sports fans who came from miles away to enjoy the game in an upgraded and updated facility.”

The Brown-Stroud Field renovation features nearly $600,000 worth of improvements to the longtime home of Demon baseball. Included in the work have been the addition of chairback seating to the entire grandstand area, the addition of a freestanding concession stand, expansion of restroom facilities and the installation of two suites. The additions and expansions have been fully funded with private support.

“We are very appreciative to receive this grant,” NSU baseball coach Bobby Barbier said. “Because of Weyerhaeuser’s generous support, we are able to continue to enhance the gameday experience for our fans and improve our facilities for our student-athletes.”

Across the past two decades, numerous Northwestern State programs and facilities have benefited from grants from the Weyerhaeuser Foundation. Those grants also have doubled to improve the quality of life for Natchitoches area residents.

“Weyerhaeuser is truly grateful to be able to help support Northwestern State,” Weyerhaeuser Winnfield Area Manager Peyton Weeks said. “Through our Giving Fund, we can help support local communities. Supporting our community benefits everyone and helps ensure our company’s long-term success. These grants seek to help cultivate growing minds and bodies, promote sustainable communities, and nurture quality of life in Weyerhaeuser communities.”

Pictured above: Weyerhaeuser Winnfield Area Manager Peyton Weeks (second from left) presents a check from the Weyerhaeuser Foundation to (from left) Northwestern State head baseball coach Bobby Barbier, NSU Director of Athletics Greg Burke and NSU Associate Athletics Director for External Affairs Dr. Haley Taitano. Credit: NSU Athletics

NSU Calendar of Events

NSU– Here is a look at the week of Dec. 15-21 at Northwestern State University.

Dec. 15 – Jan. 12, 2020 – Registration for spring semester through NSUConnect

Dec. 18 – Women’s basketball vs. Sam Houston, Prather Coliseum, 3 p.m.

Dec. 20 – Fall Commencement Exercises, Prather Coliseum, 10 a.m., 3 p.m.

Dec. 21 – Men’s basketball vs. Lamar, Prather Coliseum, 3 p.m.

Natchitoches Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority presents 'Winter Wonderland' this Saturday

The Natchitoches Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated presents its first annual Winter Wonderland Saturday, Dec. 14 at 6 pm at the Ben D. Johnson Auditorium. The event will feature young ladies within the Natchitoches Community. The Contestants are:

Olivia Below who is the daughter of Jermaine and Tefanie Below.  She is a member of St. Anthony Catholic Church (Natchitoches). Her escort is Nathaniel Below Jr who is the son of Nathaniel Below Sr. and Shonteisha Charles.

Shona Moses who is the daughter of Justin Brown and Matreka Moses.  She is a member of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church (Bermuda). Her escort is Brian Shields the son of Brian and Sam Shields.

Ja’Niya Hendricks who is the daughter of Roger “Mickey” and Kathy Clark.  She is a member of Mallard Hill Church of God in Christ (Robeline). Her escort is Naiim Helaire the son of Taji and Shonekia Helaire.

Ponderings with Doug – December 13, 2019

I have co-authored a dozen reports with my friend Serena. Co-authored today means you send emails back and forth. Serena is a fiend for the Oxford comma. I can take them or leave them.

If you read “Bob, a DJ and a clown” on a guest list, are three people coming to the party, or only one? That depends on whether you’re for or against the Oxford comma — perhaps the most hotly contested punctuation mark of all time. The “Oxford comma” is an optional comma before the word “and” at the end of a list. The following is an example of the use of an Oxford comma.

We sing songs, hymns, and choruses.

The question for those of us who write is whether or not to use the Oxford comma. If you will read back over these tomes you will find that some days I am in the mood to use it and on other days I leave it out. Some editors send out style guidelines in which they articulate the use or non-use of the comma. Serena always catches my omission of the comma and inserts it. I have learned with her it is not a stylistic choice, it is a lifestyle.

You may need that extra comma for clarification.

This is probably an apocryphal book dedication but it shows what happens when the Oxford comma is omitted.

“This book is dedicated to my parents, Amy Rand and God.”

The omitted comma has given theological import to the sentence. Your eyes might fix it and your brain knows that Amy Rand and God are not the parents of the author. From a grammatical point of view the sentence is correct, but the meaning is muddy or heretical depending on your perspective.

Perhaps you are discovering that small things make a big difference. I always love this time of year in our town. I am reminded to be patient with those who don’t know how to navigate the East end of the Church Street bridge. I am extra careful driving on Front Street because someone might open a huge SUV door and require a quick stop. Eating downtown involves an appetizer called waiting to be seated. It is all a wonderful warm up to Christmas.

Today remember the comma.

Small acts of kindness, hospitality and patience will make a positive impression on our out of town guests. Perhaps after you show kindness you will have the opportunity to talk to someone about why Christmas has a special meaning to you. You might hear a God story coming from a stranger. Something small could open the way to a bigger event.

God is always trying to sneak that Oxford comma into the grammar of our souls. He sends little blessings and reminders of His love for us. He moves in small ways that allow our hearts to experience His grace. We want God to speak big and boldly. We want fireworks! We want certainty. The essence of faith is to believe where we can’t clearly see. Believe that in those small commas that drop into your soul God is working His plan in your life.

Finally, the comma makes you pause. Read the previous comma examples out loud and hear your brain and voice pause for each comma. We need those pauses in our lives. We need time to just sit and be.

I received a note from a dear saint whom I pastored thirty years ago. The last line of her note encouraged me to “linger in His presence long enough to let God’s blessings happen.”

What a gracious and wise comma.

Creole Heritage Center open house Dec. 17

The Creole Heritage Center at Northwestern State University will host a Christmas open house from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17 in Kyser Hall Rooms 116 and 118.

“Vendors will be selling lots of handmade Christmas art and crafts, jewelry and other seasonal items,” said CHC Director Loletta Wynder. “In addition, the Creole Store will be open with genealogy information, publications, t-shirts and more to see and purchase.”

Wynder said the open house is an opportunity to thank the public for their patronage and support throughout the year. Guests are invited to browse through the center to see cultural treasures, models, donated artifacts, wall hangings and other relics. Refreshments will be served. Tickets for the annual CHC raffle will also be available.

For more information, contact the Creole Heritage Center at (318) 357-6685.

Education graduates recognized

Northwestern State University’s School of Education recognized graduating seniors who completed degrees in early childhood education, secondary education, music education and health and physical education during a program Dec. 9 in which the new teachers received apple pins and were congratulated by faculty, supporters and fellow students. On the front row from left are Amanda Crawford, Katherine Mitchell, Caroline Matthews, Jayden Wheeler, Alli Duiet, Shelby Ansley, Brittany Shackleford, Jessica Thompson, Elaina Richardson and Jorge Ojeda Munoz. On the back row are Francisco Ballestas-Sayas, Morgan Burris, Sarah Moore, Joy Newman, Tabitha Averitt, Carter Coriell, Jon Hester, Richard Clark, Luis Benecourt Osario, Fisher McLemore, Travis Carrell, Samantha Morris and Kyle Siddle.

School of Education graduates will be awarded degrees at 10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 20, along with individuals receiving graduate and undergraduate degrees from the Gallaspy Family College of Education and Human Development, undergraduate degrees from the Louisiana Scholars’ College, and graduate and undergraduate degrees from the College of Arts and Sciences with the exception of those receiving degrees in general studies and Engineering Technology. During a 3 p.m. ceremony, diplomas will be awarded to individuals receiving undergraduate degrees in General Studies and Engineering Technology from the College of Arts and Sciences, undergraduate degrees from the College of Business and Technology, and those receiving graduate and undergraduate degrees from the College of Nursing and School of Allied Health.

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A lawsuit challenging the validity of two emergency declarations issued by the Natchitoches Parish Government has been dismissed by a summary judgment ruling issued by the 10th Judicial District Court.

The Natchitoches Parish District Attorney’s Office, which represents Natchitoches Parish Government, petitioned the court to summarily dismiss the lawsuit filed by plaintiff Alan McMurtry.

Assistant District Attorney Steven P. Mansour argued before the court that there were no material factual disputes in the lawsuit and, therefore, as a matter of law the suit should be dismissed.

Ad Hoc Judge Bruce Bolin, of Bossier Parish, presided over the hearing. Bolin ruled from the bench with a summary judgment dismissing the suit.

In his oral ruling, Bolin gave weight to the fact the two emergency declarations were for 30 day periods and made a finding that both have expired. The court was satisfied that the parish president did have the authority to purchase, without council approval, materials for a lesser cost than was approved. The court further stated that because the original material, Winnrock, was not available and could not be supplied, there was no public harm for the Parish to purchase another road material from an alternate approved vendor for a lesser amount.

Bolin also stated the two emergency declarations issued by the parish government were essentially a public statement by the parish president describing his proposed actions. Therefore, the emergency declarations, which were the basis of the lawsuit, are moot.

CFS students collect supplies for Women's Resource Center

Students in the child and family studies program at Northwestern State University collected about $3,000 worth of supplies for the Women’s Resource Center, an organization that provides education and support for women who plan to carry their pregnancy to term.

The Women’s Resource Center provides free one-on-one childbirth and breastfeeding instruction, material assistance for mothers and newborns, community referrals and information on adoptions. WRC also provides counseling, free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and other resources.

An important component of child and family studies is community sustainability, according to Dr. Rania Salman, CFS professor and program coordinator.

“Working with our community partner organizations gives our students experience in how families and children participate in the community and opens up opportunities for internship and volunteering with a local impact,” she said.

WRC provided a list of items needed for pregnant women, infants and new parents such as diapers, bottles, baby wash, wipes, pacifiers and new or gently used infant clothing and equipment as well as paper goods and supplies for the center. Most items are inexpensive and easy for the NSU students to purchase.

“Every semester, Dr. Salman gives us an opportunity to collect items to help people in need or fill a need in the community,” said Dajha White, a CFS major from Natchitoches. “I like finding a way to give back to the community, which is what DFS is all about, helping and uplifting those in the community.”

Women’s Resource Center Office Manager Danette Westfall said the center serves 350-400 women each year and relies on support from churches and community groups for help with supplies.

“This is by far the biggest collection and stocks us up for next semester,” Westfall said as she and students loaded a truck full of boxes.

In addition to education and supplies, WRC has a rewards program for clients who keep appointments and complete educational programming. Clients can earn coupons to exchange for items in the WRC baby boutique.

“For each young woman who comes to the center, we hope to impart to her skills and education to empower her to make life-affirming choices to lead healthier lives, experience healthy pregnancies, and deliver healthy babies. Along with that, we provide material assistance throughout her pregnancy and for the first year after the baby is born. All of our services are free and open to anyone in the community,” Westfall said. “We greatly appreciate Dr. Salman’s effort to organize this drive for the past few semesters. The items donated has been such a blessing to our Center.”

CFS prepares graduates to work in a variety of fields, but all are aimed at improving the lives of individuals, families and communities. CFS has been called the ideal “helping” profession, because those in the field are ultimately concerned with meeting the needs of children and families in a variety of contexts. In addition to a focus on infant and toddler development, family systems and human ecology, FCS also includes coursework in nutrition, parenting, educational psychology and early childhood education.

CFS is part of the Department of Teaching, Leadership and Counseling within NSU’s Gallaspy College of Education and Human Development. Information on the CFS is available by contacting Salman at (318) 357-4202.

Information on the Women’s Resource Center is available by calling (318) 357-8888.

Pictured above: Students in NSU’s child and family studies program loaded a truck full of items and supplies collected for the Women’s Resource Center in Natchitoches. From left are Chelsea Parrie of Zwolle, A’lexus Johnson of Winnsboro, Danette Westfall, office manager at WRC; Dajha White of Natchitoches, Dr. Rania Salman, CFS coordinator; Inda Gurley of Logansport, Madeline Taylor of Natchitoches and Holly Penta of Slidell.

Notice of Death – December 12, 2019

Mike McQueen
April 14, 1969 – December 10, 2019
Service: Saturday, December 14 at 11 am at Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home

Betty Rae Gonzaque Coutee
July 17, 1934 – December 09, 2019
Service: Saturday, December 14 at 9 am at St. Augustine Catholic Church in Isle Brevelle

Roosevelt Robinson
December 06, 2019
Service: Saturday, December 14 at 2 pm in the Winnfield Memorial Funeral Home Chapel in Natchitoches