East Natchitoches Elementary students compete at state science fair

East Natchitoches Elementary School had two students that competed in the state science fair. Due to COVID-19, the competition was conducted virtually. 6th grader, Lathan Johnson was a second place winner in Environmental Engineering. His project “I’m a Survivor” had previously been selected as the overall winner at the regional fair at LSUA.

A’niya Paige also had her project on Slime Viscosity judged in the Materials Science division.


In times of past crisis, we’ve always risen to the challenge as a nation: growing victory gardens during WWII, raising flags after 9/11, stacking sandbags during floods, sending supplies after Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.

We are again facing such a crisis, and while we worry about our own futures, we must not forget the people in our community who are already struggling with the financial effects of COVID-19.

A few weeks ago, United Way of Northwest Louisiana shared 5 United Way Programs to Help You Amid COVID-19. This week we wanted to share five things you can do to fight in the face of COVID-19.

As we move into social distancing and self-quarantine, it’s natural to feel isolated. Staying away from other people, though necessary, doesn’t fulfill our need to take action, to do something in the face of this crisis.

Fortunately, even in isolation, you can help the most vulnerable among us. We ask you now to step up, to embody the community spirit manifest in this country for more than two centuries.
Here are five things you can do to fight in the face of COVID-19:

Donate to the UNITED NWLA Fund. Workers are losing wages and tips due to event cancellations and business closures. Food pantries and other community resources are inundated with individuals needing help. United Way started the United NWLA Fund by allocating $10,000 to address both the short and long-term needs of those affected by COVID-19, but we need your help, too! The fund is donation-driven and will be used to serve ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed) community members in our ten-parish region.

Direct people to 211. Louisiana 211 is working on the front lines of the pandemic. Expert 211 specialists provide real-time information on social services and other resources to those in need. If you know someone who is struggling, or just looking for a source of reliable information, tell them to dial 211 or text LACOVID to 898-211.

Spare something for the food pantries. As stores run out of bulk food and toilet paper, food pantries are struggling to fill their shelves, especially as more people are coming in for help. Consider donating what you can spare, especially non-perishable food and toiletry items.
Volunteer from home. Did you know that loneliness is as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day? Even during isolation, modern technology allows us to stay connected. Visit https://unitedwaynwla.org/volunteer-form/ to sign up as a United Way Virtual Volunteer Reader. Volunteers will record themselves reading a children’s book, and we will post it on our social media and websites to put a smile on a child’s face.

Take care of your mental health. If you’re stuck at home, keep busy with hobbies, try out arts and crafts, pick up an old musical instrument, organize family game nights, and step outside for fresh air and exercise. You can’t take care of others unless you take care of yourself.

Even in these uncertain times, no one is powerless to make a difference. Small acts, taken together across the country, can change the course of the pandemic, bolster those facing economic challenges, and protect the most vulnerable.

Statement from Senator Louie Bernard

Dear Friends,

As most of you know, the Senate and the House met today for about three hours. March 31st was the deadline to read bills into the record that were not “pre-filed.” Upon completing this, and in an effort to comply with Governor Edwards’ emergency proclamation, both bodies adjourned until further notice by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House. In the last election, 19 new members to the Senate were elected and 55 new members to the House of Representatives. EVERY ONE of these men and women thought that, by now, we would have been knee deep in discussions of the important issues facing Louisiana.

Who would ever have dreamed that something called “Covid 19” would have so shattered that routine? It has drastically altered the schedule of both House and Senate. But far more importantly, it has caused anguish and economic uncertainty to countless friends and neighbors who, despite long odds, are trying their best to cope. Both small and large businesses have been impacted, not to mention our entire education community. The people of Louisiana have weathered storms before, but fighting an unseen enemy is one of the biggest challenges we have ever faced.

We are working day and night to monitor this unprecedented health crisis in our state and respond in a positive way. We will work hard to accomplish those items mandated by our Constitution, and we will do everything in our power to be a partner with you through this unparalleled disaster.

In the meantime, I strongly urge you to observe the directives of social distancing. Wash your hands frequently during the day and avoid leaving your home for anything that is not absolutely necessary. WE ALL SALUTE THE HEALTH CARE HEROES who get up each day and show such compassion and professionalism on our behalf. Please pray for these angels on our shoulders.

If I can help you, please call my office and speak with me or my Legislative Assistant, Mrs. Connie Melder, at 318-357-3116.

If God brings us TO it..God will bring us THROUGH it!

Louie Bernard,
Senator-District 31

Demon alumni dealing with alternate spring reality

PHOENIX, HOUSTON, BATON ROUGE, DALLAS – They should be together in Scottsdale, Surprise and Peoria, Arizona, or in Port Saint Lucie, Florida, learning where they would begin the 2020 Minor League Baseball season.

Instead, seven former Northwestern State baseball players are like the rest of us – coming to terms with a new normal brought on by the novel coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.

A relatively abrupt stop to spring training brought on a wave of emotions and questions for a group that featured three players – Nathan Jones, Austin Reich and Caleb Ricca — who were in their first spring trainings and another (Adam Oller) who was in his first with a new team.

“It will be one everyone remembers for sure,” said Jones, who spent most of his offseason at the New York Mets’ spring training complex.

Jones’ NSU classmate, Austin Reich, spent a few days at the San Francisco Giants spring training complex before things changed. He echoed and enhanced Jones’ comments on the unexpected halt to the national pastime.

“This is something they make movies about,” Reich said. “I get to tell my kids I was at the spring training where they shut baseball down.”

At least Jones and Reich were able to say they were at spring training.

Ricca never made it out to Arizona for his first spring training with the Seattle Mariners. A 23rd-round draft pick in June, Ricca had boarded a plane bound for Arizona when he got word spring training activities were canceled.

“I was with my friend who plays for the Padres (Robbie Podorsky’s) parents,” Ricca said. “Reeves Martin, who played at UNO, texts me and said, ‘They’re sending us home.’ I said, ‘I’m getting off this plane.’ My luggage was actually sent to Arizona. I got off the plane and told (Podorsky’s parents), ‘We aren’t going.’”

After the Kansas City Royals and Milwaukee Brewers met at American Family Fields of Phoenix on Feb. 27, Royals outfielder Nick Heath and Milwaukee catcher David Fry were able to catch up in person and posed for a photo behind home plate.

Fifteen days later, neither Heath nor Fry had another spring training game to play. Fifteen days before Major League Baseball’s opening day, baseball joined the ever-growing list of American sports to shut down among the growing spread of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19.

It made the rain that fell in Arizona the second-oddest occurrence of that day.

“It was raining, and we were catching pens in the indoor cages,” Fry said. “We looked over and a bunch of our video guys were back there running the Trackman and video stuff. They all looked at their phones, and all the pitching coaches took off inside. It was the day after (Utah Jazz center) Rudy Gobert found out he tested positive and the NBA shut down.

“Guys had been talking about it being a thing for us. We all looked around and said, ‘Oh shoot, are we done?’ They weren’t allowed to tell us anything, but we knew something was up. We had a meeting three days from then. My family and friends just got into town that Thursday, so I figured I’ll just hang out with them. We got a text the next day, and they told us we were flying home. It was extremely weird.”

While Heath and Fry came across each other in game action, Reich and outfielder Kwan Adkins shared the same camp as part of the San Francisco Giants organization, checking in on each other when time and schedules permitted.

Both Giants prospects are back in the Baton Rouge area and have been able to stay in touch and keep each other focused and ready for whenever baseball resumes.

“It’s helping both of us,” Reich said. “I’m throwing against him, letting him see live pitching. It’s helping me face him. I’m not having to face high school guys or just someone who can stand in the box for me. I have someone to train with. It’s easier to train with somebody than by yourself, because you’re pushing yourself off what they’re doing.”

Jones and Adam Oller keenly are aware of that importance as well.

Rejoined as organization mates after the New York Mets drafted Oller in the Triple-A phase of December’s Rule V Draft, the right-handers have resumed a friendship that began in their one season together as Demons in 2016. That year, Oller was a second-team All-American and Jones was a freshman closer, who saved Oller’s win at eventual College World Series runner-up Arizona that season.

Once the Mets informed their players of the cancelation, it was Oller’s turn to offer relief to Jones.

“When this was going down, he asked, ‘Do you mind if I live with you?’” Oller said. “I told him absolutely. It makes the best of the situation for both of us. The best part is I always have someone to throw with. I have someone to talk to, someone who wants to do the same thing.”

That built-in camaraderie and support looms ever larger as the break from baseball extends to an unknown date, which poses another conundrum for the seven former Demons.

Every February like clockwork, spring training arrives, allowing professional baseball players to plan their offseason workouts to the most minute detail. Now comes a break of an undetermined length of time.

“The best thing we can do is keep our same routine,” Adkins said. “If you work out in the morning and throw in the afternoon, keep doing that. We’re just making sure we can come back in the same shape we left in. It’s impossible to come back in 100 percent the same shape we were in, but it’s what we’re working toward.”

While each former NSU standout had plenty to gain during spring training, none stood to benefit more than Heath, a member of Kansas City’s 40-man roster who was projected to make his Major League Baseball debut at some point in the 2020 season.

A 2016 Royals draftee, Heath played winter ball in the Dominican Republic and was building on that momentum when baseball came to a halt less than three weeks ago.

Heath said his biggest challenge has been maintaining his routine.

“I would probably say the mental side (has been the biggest challenge),” he said. “During the season, you’re in a solidified routine from when you wake up in the morning to when you come to the ballpark to the music you listen to. The toughest part was getting out of my routine. That really helps me during the season, so now I’m building a different routine so when we get back rolling, I’ll be as prepared as I can be.”

Photo: Former NSU baseball players Nick Heath (left) and David Fry pose for a photo after Heath’s Royals and Fry’s Brewers met in a spring training game in Phoenix on Feb. 27. Credit: Jason Hanna/Kansas City Royals

Notice of Death – April 1, 2020

Please note that the State Law limits number of people during the visitation period and attendance at the service to ten (10) or less and that social distancing be observed! This must be strictly enforced! Thank you in advance for your cooperation. It is designed for the safety of the family, our staff and the general public.

Dr. Archie F. Breazeale, MD
October 3, 1925 – March 26, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Mary Isaac
March 31, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Lula B. Scott
March 26, 2020
Visitation: Saturday, April 4 from 9:30-11 am at the First Baptist Church, located at 1116 Amulet Street in Natchitoches
Service: Saturday, April 4 at 11 am at the First Baptist Church with limited attendance
Interment: Lawrence Serenity Sanctum

Florida Mae Brown
September 2, 1944 – March 19, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Ivory Butler
July 30, 1958 – March 19, 2020
Service: Friday, April 3 at 11 am at New Zion Baptist Church in Winnfield

Mildred Thaxton
December 16, 1919 – March 29, 2020
Service: Thursday, April 2 at 2 pm in the Belah Cemetery of the Belah Community



If you, your business or a member of your non-profit organization would like to appear on The Magnolia Minute, then contact us at the email or number below!

The Magnolia Minute
Natchitoches Parish Journal
318-354-4000 #6

Cell phone data shows if residents are adhering to quarantine

According to the World Health Organization and the CDC, social distancing is currently the most effective way to slow the spread of COVID-19. A company called Unacast created an interactive Scoreboard, updated daily, to empower organizations to measure and understand the efficacy of social distancing initiatives at the local level.

Unacast is building a future where precise and verified human mobility data helps organizations do well and do good. From driving business strategies to tracking infectious diseases, the company aligns itself to the goals of its clients for the shared benefit of the global community.

The Scoreboard grades states and parishes within in each state with letter grades from A-F based on data collected by tracking cellphone GPS data. This shows in residents are truly sheltering in place, or if they’re travel patterns indicate otherwise.

St. Bernard Parish
East Baton Rouge Parish
Jefferson Parish
Sabine Parish

Natchitoches Parish
St. Martin Parish
Winn Parish
Claiborne Parish


NSU Recruiters to future students: We are here for you

Northwestern State University recruiters are finding innovative ways to stay in touch with prospective students despite social distancing.

“The recruiters are still working their territories reaching out to each student providing virtual tours, Zoom sessions and, as always, being their primary resource at NSU,” said Ashlee Hewitt, director of recruiting. “Their communication efforts are email, texts, phone calls, Zoom and social media.”

Earlier in March, Hewitt recorded a video message to reassure next year’s freshmen that she and her staff are always available to answer questions and offer assistance.

“We are continuing to explore opportunities to engage with interested students and will roll those out as they become available. We know your high schools and current institutions are not fully operational. Don’t stress about final transcripts. We are going to work with you on this,” she said.

Students who have not applied for admission are encouraged to do so. Students who completed the admissions process can apply for housing and register for Freshman Connection. Paperwork can be sent electronically, and staff can be reached easily by phone or email. Names, photos and contact information for the recruiting staff is available at www.nsula.edu/futurestudents where prospective students can also take a virtual tour of campus,

Staff who are working remotely will continue to answer emails and take phone calls during business hours and are planning to participate in Louisiana’s first-ever virtual college fair in April.

Hewitt said that because of the coronavirus pandemic, June ACT scores can qualify a student for TOPS funds for the fall.

Registration for the fall semester is underway and will continue though Aug. 16. Fall classes will begin Aug. 17.

“All of our staff are continuing to make sure your transition to attend Northwestern State is a smooth one,” Hewitt said. “We are continuing to work hard for you.”

Engage FCU Offers Members

Engage Federal Credit Union (EFCU) is offering its members a new hassle-free way to buy a car without the burdensome task of searching dealerships for the right car at the best price. EFCU has partnered with Auto Link™, powered by TrueCar® to offer this exclusive benefit that takes care of all of the legwork that comes with searching for a new car.

How does it work?

Simply call us at 318-238-7762, visit our branch, or go to Engage online http://www.engagefcu.org to complete an auto loan preapproval application. Once pre-approved, you will know how much car you can afford. Select options online including make, model, and details for your next car. TrueCar® will find you the lowest price for the car you want with the options you selected. TrueCar® even allows you to research vehicles, find local dealers, take virtual test drives and more.

“Purchasing a new car has never been easier,” says Kathy Deloney, CEO of EFCU. “Not only can we help you find your car and take care of all the paperwork – we can finance your new or used vehicle purchase at a great low rate”, adds Kathy.

In addition to the convenient and money-saving Auto Buying Service, those who finance auto loans through the credit union will receive the added value of a three-year membership to myEZCarCare® which includes the following member benefits:

Auto Maintenance and Travel Discounts

Auto discounts on repair, service, and maintenance at over 10,000 locations nationwide
Travel discounts at over 75,000 premium hotels and resorts
Discounts on Avis and Budget rental cars
Discounts on Six Flags and Sea World
TripBeat discounted vacation resorts — over 2,000 resorts in 90 countries
Electronic Glovebox® and Mobile App

Service and payment reminders via email/mobile app
Updating of service records by some service providers
Digital tools to view and print service history
Recall notices and safety information at your fingertips

Not an EFCU member?

That’s easy to remedy. Become a member for $5 and when you apply for a loan or open a new checking account and ask us about our Auto Buying Service! Sign up today to start reaping the rewards of membership.

Call us at 318-238-7762 or visit us at 256 HWY 3175 or, go to Engage Online, at www.engagefcu.org for more information.

Louisiana Department of Health Updates for 3/31/2020

Baton Rouge, La. (March 31, 2020) — The Louisiana Department of Health has updated its website to reflect the latest number of positives and will continue to update its website at noon each day.

As of noon on March 31, the Department reported 1,212 additional cases since yesterday, bringing the total to 5,237 positive cases. This is a 30% increase since yesterday.

A total of 1,355 COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized; of those, 438 patients require ventilation.

The Department reports an additional 54 deaths since yesterday, bringing the total to 239 deaths. This is a 29% increase since yesterday. Deaths are listed on the LDH dashboard by parish under the by parish tab and information by age can be found on the by age group tab. The ages of all deaths can be found here.

Below is what we know about the underlying conditions among COVID-19 deaths to date, as of March 29:

Pulmonary (12%)
Cardiac (21%)
Diabetes (40%)
Chronic Kidney Disease (23%)
Chronic Liver Disease (2%)
Immunocompromised (4%)
Neurological (6%)
Obesity (25%)
No Underlying Conditions (3%)
Long-term care facilities
The Department of Health has identified COVID-19 clusters in 40 long-term care facilities in the state. For context, there are a total of 436 nursing homes and adult residential care facilities in Louisiana.

Below is the current list of confirmed clusters. These facilities have been notified by the Department of Health.

Region 1
Bayside Health
Chateau de Notre Dame
Good Samaritan Rehab and Nursing Center
Inspired Living Kenner
Jefferson Healthcare
Jo Ellen Smith Living Center
John Berchmans
Lambeth House
Marrero Health Care Center
Nouveau Marc
Poydras Home
River Palm Nursing and Rehab
Riverbend Nursing and Rehab
St. Jude’s Nursing Home
St. Martin’s Manor
St. Anthony’s Nursing Home
St. Francis Villa Assisted Living
St. Joseph of Harahan
The Suites at Algiers Point
Vista Shores Assisted Living

Region 2
Chateau D’Ville Rehab and Retirement
Flannery Oaks Guest House
Lakeview Manor Nursing Home
Legacy Nursing and Rehabilitation of Port Allen
Ollie Steele Burden Manor Nursing Home
St. James Place – Highland Court Nursing Home

Region 3
Chateau Saint James
Luling Living Center
Ormond Nursing and Care Center
South East Louisiana Veterans Home

Region 6
Colonial Nursing Home

Region 7
Brookdale Shreveport Assisted Living
Montclair Park Assisted Living Center
Vivian Healthcare Center

Region 9
Belle Maison
Forest Manor
Green Briar Community Care
Guesthouse of Slidell Nursing Home
Pontchartrain Health Care
St. Anthony’s Gardens

A cluster is identified as two or more cases that appear to be connected.

Because of the sheer volume of cases, we will be sharing the updated number of clusters every day at noon. We will rely on facilities for reporting on the most up-to-date information. The Department continues to work with facilities to minimize the spread of the illness and protect residents and staff.

The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state residents. The Louisiana Department of Health includes the Office of Public Health, Office of Aging & Adult Services, Office of Behavioral Health, Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities, and Healthy Louisiana (Medicaid). 

According to Kris: Birthday Isolation

By Kris James

Birthdays are special. Not only do they mark the passing of another fabulous trip around the sun, but they’re also one of the best ways to gather your friends and family for all the festive desserts, cute cocktails, and whimsical decor your heart desires. The thought of sitting at home by yourself instead of having a bash with all your best friends probably wouldn’t have sounded ideal just a few weeks ago. This year will be different. During this time of social distancing, as a result of COVID-19, get-togethers both small and large have been called off, leaving many spring babies like myself to celebrate at home.

April is a big month for me, not only is it my birth month but next week According to Kris turns one. Of course, canceling plans had me feeling defeated but it was a conversation with a friend of mine whose birthday is just a few days ahead of mine that gave me hope. As I sat there listing to my friend tell me how he wasn’t going to let this situation get the best of him I got inspired. He told me, “Since I’m a photographer, this year I had the big idea to have my party in a huge photo studio, have a DJ, games, and a fun photo set going on.” Despite canceling his original party, my friend is moving forward with a digital gathering for all his friends, and he’s not alone.

While you may not be able to throw the party you had planned, there’s no reason to skip the celebration altogether. If you or someone you love has a birthday coming up, plan one of these virtual birthday party ideas you can do at home. From sending your friend a delivery of champagne to hosting a party via video chat, there are plenty of ways to make the birthday girl or boy feel loved on their special day. And when this pandemic ends, and it will end, you’ll have every excuse to throw the biggest, baddest birthday party of all time.

Host a virtual birthday party on Zoom. If you’re not able to get out of your house and your friends are not able to come over either, you can still have a virtual birthday celebration, all thanks to technology. Call up some of your close ones while you cut your cake and have a different kind of birthday party.

Host a Netflix party. For all those introverts who hate going out even on their birthdays, now you can binge-watch your favorite shows. Sit at home, hoard your favorite snacks and relax as you watch your favorite movies and shows

Do a group workout. Instead of a virtual party, a group work-out would be a great stress reliever or maybe meditate.

Get glammed up. Even though you cannot get out of the house, you can still dress up and enjoy your day. Dress up in your favorite outfit and celebrate your birthday at home with your family and friends.

Decorate the house the night before. After everyone has gone to bed the night before their birthday, put up some birthday decorations that they get to wake to!

Treat yourself with a feast. Since it’s your day, you deserve a feast. Cook some of your favorite dishes from scratch at home. From appetizers to desserts, treat yourself with a scrumptious meal and drinks made at home. This can also be a way to bond with your family members and enjoy a meal together.

Heroes Feeding Heroes

On Monday, March 30, Natchitoches SWAT Team answered a different kind of call. There were a few sandwich trays donated by Subway that had to make their way to their chosen homes in the Campti area.

A local group called, “Feeding our Heroes”, has been utilizing every resource possible to bring warm meals to the essential workers who are still have to report everyday to ensure the health and well being of our Parish. When Assistant SWAT Commander, Jonathan Roberts read about the volunteer group he wanted to help and knew the team would want to help as well.

“After seeing the Facebook group pop up through my feed, I felt led to contribute to my community. I figured some of the SWAT guys would to help with whatever the group FOH needed,’ said Roberts.

At this time he reached out to one of the founders and developed a plan that would reach the North part of the Parish.

Roberts went on to say, “I think it’s really important in times of crisis that people do something positive, it makes you feel a bit calmer and more in control. I believe the act of giving just makes us feel better, it’s human nature.”

Feeding our Heroes has fed warm meals or desserts to seventeen locals groups that include; Firemen, City Police, Sheriff’s Department, Pharmacies, and various departments at Natchitoches Regional Medical Center.
“It feels as though we are a part of a collective effort, we are all in this together. In a profession where we often get thanks for being heroes, it’s nice to acknowledge other heroes, that sometimes get overlooked,” – Jonathan Roberts.

Feeding our Heroes is one hundred percent funded by donations. You can actually feed someone for as little as a ten dollar donation. The group is using local restaurants and businesses. For more information please visit their Facebook page or contact Reba Phelps at 318-581-0427.

FUMC’s New Pastor: Rev. Gary Willis

The Staff Parish committee of The First United Methodist Church – Natchitoches met with the District Superintendent on Sunday afternoon and accepted the appointment of Rev. Gary Willis as the new pastor of First United Methodist Church effective July 1, 2020.

Gary is the middle son of a Methodist minister (Terry) and his older brother (Ricky) is also a United Methodist minister.

He is a graduate of Louisiana Tech University in Mathematics (1986) and the Saint Paul’s School of Theology (1989). He is married to Amy and they have two children, Amanda who is 24 and Jason who is 16. Amanda is a graduate of Centenary College and sang in the choir. Jason is a sophomore at Ruston High School.

Gary is currently the District Superintendent of the Monroe District.

I know you will join me in praying for Gary, Amy, Amanda and Jason in this time of transition. 

God bless,

Doug de Graffenried
Senior Minister

Drive through testing begins at Natchitoches Regional Medical Center

The Natchitoches Regional Medical Center tested 37 residents on its drive through testing health service’s first day in operation, March 31. Testing and screenings will be available from 10 am – 12 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the parking lot of Central Louisiana Technical College (CLTCC) at 6587 Highway 1 in Natchitoches.

If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 also known as the Coronavirus, please stop by. Remain in your car as you receive screening. If after the screening, the professionals recommend testing, the NRMC Associates will do so at a testing station as part of the drive through process and test results will be available in approximately 4 days.

All participants must bring a valid photo ID and their insurance card. All insurances including Medicaid, Medicare, and commercial insurance are accepted.