Public invited to attend school board candidate forum


The A+ Coalition will hold a School Board Candidate Forum, to take place at the Natchitoches Arts Center Building at 716 2nd Street on Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 6 pm. Candidates will each be given three minutes to speak.

The Forum will be live streamed on the Natchitoches Parish Journal.

The Chamber does not endorse any candidates but does support policies that align with A+ Coalition Goals, outlined below. By the end of the 2025-2026 school year:

Zero C, D or F schools in the district
50% mastery or better on 3-8 assessments
More than 50% of students should graduate with some form of dual enrollment credit
District ACT score ≥ 21
95% graduation rate

For more information about the A+ Coalition and how you can get involved, visit

Chamber luncheon speakers talk healthcare in Natchitoches Parish

Chamber Luncheon_0401.JPG
The Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce held its monthly luncheon Oct. 17, which provided a comprehensive update on healthcare in Natchitoches. Speakers included Kirk Soileau, CEO of the Natchitoches Regional Medical Center; Tom Matuschka, VP of Business Development and Philanthropy for NRMC; and Sarah Stewart, Radiation Oncology Administrator for the Northwestern Louisiana Cancer Center.

NRMC’s Organizational goals include:

  • Be recognized by Press Ganey in the TOP 5% of Hospital Customer Satisfaction nationally, which is judged on how the hospital’s patients rate it and recommend it
  • Be a top 100 Hospital in the US
  • Earn the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award within 5 year

The hospital’s organizational focus includes:

  • Zero patient harm
  • Exceed quality goals and benchmarks
  • Move to become a TOP 100 Hospital
  • Become an organization where people want to join the team
  • Not accept anything but an exceptional patient and family experience

Core Purpose: Care for the Natchitoches community

Mission: Excellence Everyday

Vision: Making the hospital people’s first choice for care

NRMC achieved the prestigious Pathway to Excellence designation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The ANCC Pathway to Excellence Program recognizes health care organizations that have the essential elements of an ideal nursing practice environment. There are currently 166 Pathway Organizations worldwide with only two in Louisiana.

The NRMC Wound Care Center has won three national awards in a row from Healogics, the nation’s largest provider of advanced wound care services. With four hyperbaric oxygen therapy chambers and a well trained team, NRMC’s Comprehensive Wound Care Center provides specialized treatment for chronic or non-healing wounds. The experienced team offers an effective means to promote healing, thereby helping to restore healthy tissue and skin.

Planned hospital expansion for the 2019 final year includes:

Revenue bonds under approval for growth and infrastructure projects (9 million)

Completion of the HVAC replacement authorized by the hospital board 7 years ago for 3.5 million (this project is 70% complete)

Reimbursement of the Rite Aid Building Property purchase and its renovation (12 month process) for healthcare use (4 million)

Expansion of the Comprehensive Wound Care Center through a new construction project and ED/Ambulance renovation (13 month project for 2.2 million)

Renovation project to open a Breast Center with 4D Digital Mammography, which should be completed under 90 days once a contractor has been selected after bids (500,000)

Tom Matuschka spoke about a Community Health Needs Assessment the hospital performed.

Sarah Stewart talked about the Cancer Center and its role in the Natchitoches community. It offers radiation oncology services including CT scanner for CT simulation, Monaco Treatment Planning System, Dual Energy Linear Accelerator for state-of-the-art radiation therapy, and Board Certified Medical Physicists and Dosimetrists. Medical oncology services provided include clinical trials, medical oncology, medical hematology and non-chemo and chemotherapy infusions. The Center is also able to offer new services including endocrinology and diabetes and thyroid management.

The Center averages 110 patients per year. Top Diagnoses (51% of total volume) include breast, lung, and prostate cancer. Patients come from all over Natchitoches, Sabine, Winn and Red River Parishes and more.

Cane River Brewery owners speak to Rotary Club

Cane River Brewer Rotary Meeting 10_16_18

Drake Owens of the Natchitoches Rotary Club introduced the speakers for the meeting, Justin Krouse and Cade Gentry from the Cane River Brewing Company. They discussed how original class projects in a restaurant management class at Northwestern led to an idea to create, plan and construct the Cane River Brewing Company. They shared the history of the business, location, products, and brewing process. They noted the facility will be open to the public in the near future to sample and purchase their beers.

Pictured above, from left are Richard White, club president, Cade Gentry and Justin Krouse, Cane River Brewing Company, and Drake Owens, Natchitoches Rotary Club.

Pumpkins will light up the night at Pumpkin Glow

Pumpkin Glow

The Historic District Business Association will hold its 6th Annual Pumpkin Glow Thursday, Oct. 25 at the Rue Beauport Riverbank from 5:30-8:30 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.

All ages are encouraged to attend and are welcome to participate in the pumpkin decorating contest. Cash prizes will be given away in both carved and painted categories. Pumpkin drop off will take place Thursday, Oct. 25 from 3-5 pm at the Rue Beauport Stage.

Live entertainment throughout the evening will be provided by local school orchestras, community groups, and cheer\dance groups.

Hot dogs, popcorn, caramel apples and various treats will be available for purchase.

For more information, contact Dawn Wells at 318.729.8282 or Jill Leo at 318.652.7078.

NSU will honor longtime team physician Dr. Chris Rich at homecoming with N-Club Distinguished Service Award

Rich_graphic _N-Club
Dr. Chris Rich, an integral part of the Northwestern State sports medicine program for over three decades, will be presented the Distinguished Service Award by the university’s athletic letterwinners association on Saturday, Oct. 27, at the annual N-Club Hall of Fame ceremony.

Rich, an Alexandria orthopaedic surgeon and businessman, will be among 10 people honored during the 10 a.m. event open to the public in Prather Coliseum.

All-Americans Latrell Frederick and Jermaine Jones, NFL standout Floyd Turner, softball slugger Brandy Kenney, tennis star Barbara Tons and basketball professional Larry Terry will be inducted in the Hall, along with former softball and volleyball coach Rickey McCalister and retired athletic trainer Ed Evans. Becoming the second-ever recipient of the N-Club’s Leadership Award will be venerable NSU vice president Jerry Pierce.

Enshrinement in the N-Club Hall of Fame is the highest honor Northwestern bestows on its former competitors and staff. Those receiving N-Club Hall of Fame recognition are showcased in the brand-new N-Club display in Prather Coliseum.

The 2018 honorees will also be recognized that evening in Turpin Stadium during the Demon football team’s homecoming game against Houston Baptist.

Greg Burke, NSU’s director of athletics since 1996, praised Rich for his far-reaching impact and for his approach to his role with the department.

“Dr. Rich made an indelible mark on the sports medicine profile of the NSU athletic program for many years. Most noteworthy about his partnership with NSU Athletics was his unwavering commitment to the welfare of the student-athlete. He always found a way to work through hurdles with that mindset at the forefront of his thought process,” said Burke.

“To say that I, as an administrator, enjoyed and valued the working relationship I had with Dr. Rich would be an understatement. He is most deserving of this honor based on the contributions he made, in so many ways, to the NSU athletic program and to the field of sports medicine.”

Rich, a native of San Antonio, was a three-year football letterman as an offensive lineman at LSU from 1976-78, part of the Tigers’ fabled “Root Hogs” group that helped College Football Hall of Fame running back Charles Alexander set numerous school and Southeastern Conference records. Rich was a two-time Academic All-SEC selection in 1977-78.

From 1988-2011, Rich was managing partner of Mid State Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Center in Alexandria. In 1990, he became NSU Athletics’ Director of Sports Medicine and Head Team Physician, a role he handled through 2010.

More recently, he has served in a voluntary consulting role with NSU team physicians, the sports medicine staff and the Demons’ athletic administration, monitoring medical and health-related issues which have become impactful in intercollegiate athletics.

Rich also played a key role in promoting best practices and evidence-based medicine, as well as stewardship of financial resources related to medical care for NSU Athletics.

His practice specialized in sports medicine, arthroscopy of the knee and shoulder, and knee reconstruction. During his tenure as the chief physician for NSU Athletics, over 500 student-athletes sustained an injury requiring surgery, with an incredible rate of return to competition of 99 percent.

During his career with Mid State, the firm was twice (2004, 2007) designated as the top firm in Louisiana for orthopaedics by HealthGrades, the “Healthcare Quality Experts.”

Rich was inducted in the Louisiana Athletic Trainers Hall of Fame in 2005, and in 2013 received the Outstanding Leadership Award from the Louisiana Orthopaedic Association.

Briarwood added to Old Growth Forest Network

Briarwood 10-2018 (1)
Briarwood Nature Preserve was added into the Old Growth Forest Network Oct. 17, joining such greats as Yosemite National Forest and the Albright Grove – Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

When we look at a forest, very little appears to change from year to year, but change is happening slowly. Forests, like humans, can be classified as young, mature or old. Because of past disturbances old forests are the rarest. Sometimes the disturbance has come in the form of a tornado, an insect, or an intense fire; but most often the disturbance has been from logging. As a result only a few percent of the western forests are old-growth, and only a few tenths of a percent of the eastern forests are old-growth. The amount of old-growth forest has declined every year since European settlement on this continent. As a result old-growth forests have important ecological and cultural attributes that are not being fulfilled as they should be. We need a clear vision and a strong resolve to reverse the decline. If we are able to accomplish this we will be the first generation to have done so.

If you would like to learn more about the Old Growth Forest Network visit their website at:

Some Fond Memories of an Old Library Building and Some of the Books Therein

By Joe Darby


Earlier this week we had to go to Alexandria so, as we usually do, we drove down La. 1 to La 120, which quickly connects with I-49. That route, as opposed to going all the way out Hwy. 6 to the “main” Natchitoches exit on the interstate, saves us a lot of time.

Anyway, parked right there on the side of the lot of the service station at La. 1 and La. 120, was a parish bookmobile. I was glad to see it. I don’t know if anybody was inside choosing some great books to read, but I hope so.

If you’ve read more than a couple of my columns, I’m sure you know that books are a major part of my life and I want to say that I always enjoy seeing another person with book in hand, as well. But seeing the bookmobile brought back some nice memories.

I would occasionally use the East Baton Rouge Parish bookmobile when I was a youngster. I enjoyed poring over the shelves in the back of the vehicle, but I always thought something like, “Well, this is fine, but there’s not a whole lot to choose from here.”

I mean, the problem was, with the need to satisfy all of its potential readers, the librarians had to fit the more popular books in the bookmobile. Best seller novels likely took up most of the room, as well as books on gardening, fishing and hunting, etc. There was not a lot of room left for books on space travel and the history of baseball, I can tell you.

But there was at the great old main library building downtown on Laurel Street. The building still exists, but it’s been many years since the library moved out to some more modern location. And when I walked into that classic old structure, I could find just about anything in the world that I wanted to read.

Space travel? Yes, you bet. There was one color=illustrated book that I checked out several times, because once was just not enough. It was written in the early 1950s and it had great artist renditions of what our space ships and space stations would look like. It turns out that the predictions were pretty far off the mark.

The space station shown was a giant wheeled structure that must have served as inspiration for the space station in the movie, “2001: A Space Odyssey.” They looked just alike. (I still can’t hear the Blue Danube without picturing the scene from the movie in which a spacecraft docks with the space station. If you saw it, you know what I mean).

Anyway, I would read the book and stare at the pictures for hours, imagining myself as an astronaut, until I knew every nook and cranny of the (cutaway illustrated) space vehicles. And even if I didn’t check that book out, I would sit down at a table in the library and look it over until Mother came to pick me up.

Then there were the books on baseball history. There was at least one book on the history of almost every Major League Baseball team. Of course, there were only 16 such teams at the time. And the histories were much shorter then, too. After all, the American League began in 1903, so we’re talking about a history of 50 or so seasons, not more than 100 as it would be now.

So I read all of those books, even the histories of the teams I didn’t like. I was a Yankee fan, so I didn’t like the Cleveland Indians or the Chicago White Sox, who were the Yanks’ biggest American League rivals in the 1950s. But I read about them because I was actually learning about the great players of all time, such as Indians pitcher Bob Feller or Shoeless Joe Jackson of the White Sox. It got so that I could name all of the World Series winners and losers. I didn’t go around spouting off with that knowledge, but it was indeed secure in my head.

Then there were the regular history books. I discovered a wonderful series of books on the history of World War I, written, I think, in the 1920s or early ’30s. Of course the ’20s and ’30s were already ancient history to this 10-year-old, but the photographs of the war were fascinating and I would sit down and look at them for hours.

It’s interesting to look back and realize that at that time I was only 35 years or so from the end of World War I, equivalent to about 1983 now. And 1983 doesn’t seem all that terribly long ago. Different perspectives on time can be intriguing.

But, I digress and my column has grown just about long enough. I’ve truly enjoyed sharing these memories with you. If you’re a book lover, you may have enjoyed reading this. If not, thanks for your patience in sticking with me so far. And may I suggest, next time you pass by our fine library building on Second Street, or see the bookmobile out and about — check ’em out.


Church St Bridge




The Louisiana Department and Transportation and Development (DOTD) in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is conducting a public meeting for the proposed replacement of Cane River Bridge on Church Street Route LA 1-X located in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana. The purpose of the public meeting is to provide information to the public and to obtain input on the proposed project.

The meeting will follow an open house format. There will be a continuous multi-media presentation about the project. Additional project exhibits will be available for viewing. Representatives from DOTD and its consultants will be at the open house to answer questions and discuss issues related to the project. Comments and suggestions will be invited from all interested parties to help ensure that the study team addressed the full range of environmental issues during the Environmental Assessment process. Verbal comments can be recorded and written statements can be submitted at the meeting. Written statements can also be mailed to the address shown below, postmarked no later than November 12, 2018 to be included in the meeting transcript. The public meeting has been scheduled as follows:

Thursday, November 1, 2018
4:00 PM – 7:00 pm
Natchitoches Events Center, McCullen Hall B
750 2nd Street
Natchitoches, LA 71457

Should you require special assistance due to a disability in order to participate in this public meeting, please contact DOTD Environmental Section by telephone at (225) 242-4508, or at the address below, at least five (5) working days prior to the public meeting date.

Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development

Lakeview FFA Chapter beautifies downtown Campti

Lakeview-Campti Beautify (4)

Lakeview FFA Chapter Officers began a beautification project in downtown Campti for the upcoming Smoking on the Red festival, which will be held Oct. 27. Students constructed a planter box with plants that were grown in the Lakeview greenhouse. Students also planted mixed containers of coleus and sweet potato vine. The officers are looking forward for more opportunities to serve the community!

Notice of Death – October 17, 2018

Notice of Death 2017



Marie Stewart Lee
September 30, 1924 – October 14, 2018
Service: Thursday, October 18 at 11 am at Cenchrea Nazarene Church
Interment: Mt. Carmel Cemetery

Earl Anders
September 9, 1943 – October 14, 2018
Visitation: Friday, October 19 at 5 pm at Warren Meadows Funeral Home in Many
Service: Saturday, October 20 at 2 pm at Cedar Grove Baptist Church

Interment: Cedar Grove Cemetery

Parish President Issues Statement Regarding Planning & Zone Department

PRESS RELEASE: October 17, 2018




In September 2018, the Parish Treasurer’s office presented me the results of an internal investigation into deficiencies that were occurring within the Office of Planning & Zoning. The director, Mr. Greg Lemoine, was informed of the investigation. The result was as follows:

1. Violations involving the issuance of permits
2. Waiving of fees on certain permits
3. Lack of inspections and inspection reports.

After presenting this information to the director, he admitted to not charging fees on certain permits and that he did not have the authority to waive the fees in question.

As a result of the investigation, and after consultation with the Office of the District Attorney, the director was informed that he could no longer work in Parish government. At this time, the director chose to retire.

At the Parish Council meeting on October 15, 2018, Mr. Lemoine claimed he was treated unfairly by the Parish. He again admitted to the violations but stated that they were “technical violations”. These “technical violations” have serious consequences for the Parish and the public.

1. The violations allowed for non-code construction to take place.
2. The failure to collect fees resulted in the loss of revenue to operate the planning department.
3. The failure to properly record inspections in the Parish system results in incomplete and misleading records.

Mr. Lemoine’s situation is the direct result of his actions.

Rick Nowlin

Dear Natchitoches Taxpayer:

Dear Taxpayer - Sharplin
Last night[Oct. 15], I spoke in opposition to an appointment to the Natchitoches CVB Tourism Board at the Natchitoches Parish Government meeting. As you may or may not know, the Natchitoches CVB Board is responsible for appropriating approximately $500,000 of collected tax money to promote Natchitoches Parish Tourism. The general manager of the Chateau St. Denis Hotel was recommended for one of the open positions on that board. Fortunately for Natchitoches Parish Taxpayers, the Parish Council did not agree and tabled the vote.

I made the Parish Council aware of the upcoming opinion from Attorney General Jeff Landry’s Office regarding unpaid and resort fee taxes arrearages from the Chateau St Denis Hotel. The Natchitoches CVB Board requested this opinion after Mr. Jerry McWherter of the Natchitoches Tax commission said he would do nothing in collecting those back-taxes, giving no reason other than he wants to move on.

Last night [Oct. 15] I spoke on these two valid points as opposition on placing the Chateau St Denis Hotel GM to the Natchitoches CVB Board

Ownership of Chateau St. Denis and/or any of its employees should not be allowed to make any decision regarding the tax collections in regards to the Natchitoches CVB’s money when there is an upcoming opinion from the Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, requested by the Natchitoches Parish CVB Board, to investigate potential money owed by Chateau St Denis Hotel.

Chateau St. Denis Hotel continues to avoid (according to attached hotel folios) collection of the tax on the mandatory resort fee, failing to collect it from its guests.

As brought to the attention in earlier correspondence, Chateau St Denis Hotel, as well as Jerry McWherter (Natchitoches Parish Tax Commissioner), claimed to now be collecting and paying taxes on the mandatory resort fee, as of July 1, 2018. According to my math, this appears to be untrue. I have receipts from a guest stay at the hotel on two separate occasions, in July and last week. Both times, according to Hotel receipts, the CSD was not collecting 50 cents at the detriment to the Natchitoches CVB and City of Natchitoches TIF tax rolls. The total hotel sales tax rate in Natchitoches is 14.95%. That is not what is being collected according to those guest receipts.

I stated to the Natchitoches Parish Government Board members as well as Parish President to be on notice and to understand they may be aiding to this tax evasion by allowing C.S.D Manager to this board. This whole situation feels like the adage, “the fox guarding the hen-house.” It is a blatant conflict of interest.

In conclusion this is not a pot shot at the CSD Manger or the hard working employees at Chateau St Denis. Some have worked for our company and I consider them friends. These people are just doing their jobs and are good folks. My issue is with upper management at Chateau St Denis taking advantage of our community and showing ZERO RESPECT to the tax paying populace. The days of turning a blind eye are over. We are watching. Please do the right thing!

You can watch the meeting replay here:

I have attached Guest receipts showing shortages of tax collections from the Chateau St Denis Hotel.


Jay Sharplin
Sharpco Hotels Group
Natchitoches, LA

The views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Natchitoches Parish Journal.  If you have an article or story of interest for publishing consideration by the NPJ, please send it to

St. Denis October 2018 (1)St. Denis July 2018

Legislative audit reveals Fire District No. 1 law violations

Audit Reports
In July 2017, Parish President Rick Nowlin requested the legislative auditor to investigate the financial operations of Fire District No. 1. This request was based upon an extensive review of the District records by the former board chairman.

The audit report was issued on September 19, 2018, and contained a number of violations of state law by certain board members and family members. The Natchitoches Parish Government requested the Office of the District Attorney to review the legislative auditor’s report and to advise of any legal actions that need to be taken. In the meantime, Nowlin will work with the Parish Council to obtain the removal of any present board members who may have been involved in any of the illegal activities.

Nowlin noted to the Council at the meeting on Oct. 15 that the violations cited in the report date from several years ago and some of the present board members were not involved in them. It is also possible that certain illegal actions were taken without any discussion and approval at a board meeting.

“In my opinion, it would be improper to remove all board members without evidence of their individual wrongdoing,” said Nowlin. “We are continuing to work with the District Attorney to take the appropriate actions.”

READ AUDIT HERE   Fire-District-1-Audit-Natchitoches