Blanchard St. Denis Funeral Home merges with Legacy Funeral Group

Mike Murphy will turn 70 in September and wants to spend more time with his family, and especially his grandkids. He made the decision to merge his family business, Blanchard St. Denis Funeral Home, with a friend’s company who has other funeral homes throughout Louisiana. Michael Soper has agreed to keep all employees in place and Murphy will stay involved as a consultant for the next two years. This will provide employees with increased benefits and resources.

“I would like all of our clients to rest assured that their pre-need contracts will continue to be honored,” said Murphy.


Legacy Funeral Group:

Legacy Funeral Group owns and operates funeral homes and cemeteries across the country, and their employees operate their locations independently.  Legacy Funeral Group is now one of the premiere names in the funeral home and cemetery industry—and one of its fastest-growing companies. Though Legacy manages funeral homes across the country, we take pride in retaining that family-owned funeral home feel in every single community we serve.

 
Blanchard St. Denis:
 
For more than 80 years, Blanchard-St. Denis has been serving the families of Natchitoches Parish. We take pride in the fact that we are Natchitoches’s oldest continuously owned and operated funeral home.  


Sales tax sees steady increase

Hotel and Motel Tax collections were up for 2022 at $575,661 over $434,480 for 2021. Over $350,000 has been collected so far for 2023. Similarly, Motor Vehicle Sales for 2022 were $3,594,933 compared to $3,821,099 – down $226,166.

Total Sales Tax Collections for 2021 totaled $40,195,555 versus a total of $45,151,953 collected for 2022. 


Deputies arrest Provencal man on felony drug charges

Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Deputies arrested a Provencal man on felony drug charges following a traffic stop on Sunday evening according to the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office.

NPSO Patrol Operations Bureau deputies were patrolling on La. Hwy 6 West just west of Natchitoches on Jan. 23 around 8 pm when they stopped a 2009 Ford Mustang for a traffic violation. Deputies say upon coming in contact with two occupants of the vehicle, they smelled a strong marijuana odor coming from within the vehicle.

The passenger identified as 54-year-old Ronald Lee Holman of Provencal admitted that he had recently smoked marijuana just prior to picking up the other occupant who he allowed to drive the vehicle.

Holman has a prior narcotics arrest history. Based on probable cause and suspected criminal activity, deputies conducted a search of the vehicle. During the search, deputies seized metal container containing approximately 28-grams or 1 ounce of suspected crystal methamphetamine, a digital weighing scale, a glass smoking pipe, baggies, and other drug paraphernalia.

Both occupants of the vehicle were transported to the Natchitoches Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Task Force Office for questioning. Drug Task Force Agents responded to assist. While interviewing both suspects pursuant to miranda warnings, Holman confessed to ownership of the recovered seized evidence.

Agents released the other occupant without criminal charges. Holman was transported to the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center and while being searched by corrections deputies he informed them that he had additional narcotics on his person.

Deputies say Holman handed them a cellophane bag containing approximately 3-grams of suspected crystal methamphetamine hidden on his person. The seized evidence will be submitted to the crime lab for narcotics analysis.

Ronald Lee Holman, 54 of Provencal, was booked into the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center charged with Possession of CDS Schedule II Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute, 2nd or Subsequent Offenses, Introduction of Contraband into a Penal Institution and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Holman remains in the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center according to jail records with bond set at $21,000 by a 10th Judicial District Judge. Deputy Cpl. C. Halliburton made the arrest assisted by NMJDTF Agents.

“All Persons are Presumed Innocent Until Proven Guilty in Court or Administrative Process.”

If you suspect criminal activity in your community, contact the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office at 352-6432 or 357-7851.
Please attempt to identify the descriptions of vehicles and persons when reporting suspicious activity.


Natchitoches March for Life – This Saturday

The Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Church and St. Mary’s Catholic School will host the second annual Natchitoches March for Life on Saturday, Jan. 28.  The keynote speaker for the event will be Abby Johnson, an outspoken pro-life advocate and author of the book, Unplanned.  The Josh Blakesley Band will perform prior to the Rally and March.  The day will begin at 10:00am on the riverbank stage in downtown Natchitoches.  “We’re excited about the opportunity to celebrate the gift of life with our Natchitoches community and look forward to a joyful event,” said Fr. Irion St. Romain, Pastor of The Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Church and Chancellor of St. Mary’s Catholic School.  

The national March for Life began in Washington, D.C. in January, 1974.  Every year, tens of thousands of pro-life supporters, march in support of life.  This has become the largest human rights demonstration in the world.  The national March for Life “is an inspiring, peaceful, vibrant, and joy-filled rally of women, men, young people, and children from all across the country.” (See www.marchforlife.org).  Together, they “gather to celebrate life, from the moment of conception, to the moment of natural death, and every moment in between.” (See www.marchforlife.org).

Local marches began to occur in cities throughout our nation to further expand this celebration of life into our communities.  In Louisiana, rallies occur in major cities during the month of January.  This is the second year for Natchitoches to host a Pro-Life Rally and March.  More detailed information will be announced as plans develop.  “The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching. In our society, human life is under direct attack from abortion and euthanasia. The value of human life is being threatened by cloning embryonic stem cell research, and the use of the death penalty. The intentional targeting of civilians in war or terrorist attacks is always wrong.  Catholic teaching also calls on us to work to avoid war. Nations must protect the right to life by finding increasingly effective ways to prevent conflicts and resolve them by peaceful means.  We believe that every person is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person.” Source: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Washington, D.C.
 
 
Tentative schedule of events:
**Please note that the schedule may alter slightly the day of the March. This is a tentative timeline and will be adjusted as necessary for the flow of events**
10:00am – Welcome and Prayer
Josh Blakesley Band
11:00am – Guest speakers from Community Organizations
11:30am – Guest speaker, Abby Johnson
(Abby will begin speaking between 11:30 and
11:45).
1:00pm – March begins and ends at riverbank stage
1:40pm – Closing Prayer
Food trucks available on the riverbank:
BBQ
Cane River Pizza Co.
Casa Del Taco
Girline’s
 
Please contact Jessica Spear (jspear@smstigers.org) or Lisa Guillet (lisaguillet@yahoo.com) for more information.


Northwestern State will host Flavor of Louisiana March 17

Northwestern State University will host Flavor of Louisiana, the university’s most popular fund raiser, Friday, March 17 in Prather Coliseum.  

Flavor of Louisiana is presented in partnership with the Louisiana Seafood Board and the NSU Foundation and showcases specialty seafood dishes prepared by restaurateurs, chefs and caterers from around the state, along with specialty cocktails, craft beers, desserts and options for non-seafood eaters. The event also features live music, dancing, raffles, silent auctions and more.  

“After a COVID-induced hiatus, last year’s return of Flavor of Louisiana was one of most popular events that took place at NSU and we are thrilled to be hosting the 2023 event,” said Cristy Bernard, assistant director of Donor Relations.  “Guests can expect great food, good people and lots of fun on March 17.  It’s a celebration of the Demon family, donors, supporters, students, alumni and friends.”  

Doors will open at 6 p.m.  Tickets are $85 per individual and $135 per couple. Sponsorships are available at the Magnolia ($1,000), Bayou ($2,500) and Louisiana ($5,000) levels and come with signage, reserved seating, admission to a sponsor’s only cocktail pre-party, special gifts and other corresponding perks. The sponsorship deadline is Friday, March 1.  

To purchase tickets or for information on sponsorships or participating as a chef, visit  

https://northwesternstatealumni.com/flavor-of-louisiana/ or call the Office of University Advancement (318) 357-4292.  


The ugly side of professional bass fishing

Recently, I watched a great You Tube video by Elite Series Pro Chris Zaldain. He and his wife, Trait, host a You Tube/Podcast show called “Zaldaingerous,” and I came across a 1:44-long video edition in which they dove deep into some of the issues facing professional bass fishing. 

This episode featured Elite Series Pro Matt Herron, who happens to be a good friend of mine and is never short on words. If you want the truth and perspective of a guy who has made a great career for himself, then Matt is the right choice. He will not sugar coat the issues and has sound advice on how these issues should be handled.  

In this particular episode, Matt breaks down some of the problems and situations pertaining to professional bass fishing. Matt, Chris, and Trait talk about rules, sponsorship dollars, polygraph testing, the 2019 split, the new open series, and the Tony Christian scandal. 

If you’re an up-and-coming young man and want to know how to be a pro angler, you better make the time to sit down with Matt Herron. He will not lead you to believe that being a full-time professional angler is easy. If anything, he may have you second-guessing yourself before you walk away. He’ll probably ask you, “Are you sure you want to do this for a living?” 

The first topic they discuss is the fight over sponsorship dollars and how the pool has shrunk. He referred to his days of starting on the FLW (Forrest L. Wood) Tour (2003) and how FLW ruined and burned so many non-indemnity sponsors like Tide, Walmart, Gastrol Oil, Land-of-Lakes, Kellogg’s, and many more. FLW did not deliver the exposure they promised all these major sponsors. When FLW folded, all these potentially great sponsors dropped out of the professional fishing market and left, probably never to return. 

The market of companies out there looking to provide assistance to an angler has shrunk dramatically. Matt points out that today, it’s almost impossible for an angler to make it on his own without solid financial backing. He makes light of how mommas, daddies, or grandparents with deep pockets are footing the bill for these young anglers to try and make it. They do OK for the first couple of years, which is all they are guaranteed. Then, the 70 percent that don’t make it leave the sport with thousands of dollars of debt — up to their eyeballs!    

Next, Matt, Chris, and Trait talk about polygraph issues. He and Chris both would like to see more anglers polygraphed after an event and have some of the questions be revamped. Matt talks about how he personally knew an FBI investigator and how the FBI conducts a polygraph test. He talks about how the wording of questions is critical to catching a cheater. 

They brought up the Tony Christian scandal that rocked the professional bass fishing world when Tony was caught cheating in an FLW Tournament after his “honey hole” was discovered and investigated. It was discovered that he had made a special basket, put it in the water, and stocked it with bass. The basket allowed for his bait to enter the basket, catch a bass, and exit while the lid closed as the fish came out of the basket, retaining all other bass waiting to be caught. Tony was eventually banned for life from fishing as a professional angler and has virtually disappeared. 

If you want to hear the undisclosed side of the professional bass fishing world, check out the episode yourself. Go to youtube.com and search “Zaldaingerous.”   

The husband/wife Zaldain team interviews anglers who fish the Bassmaster Elite Series. They do a fantastic job of introducing their fans to the harsh reality of being a professional angler. There’s no topic or subject that’s out of bounds as Chris and Trait are excellent hosts with a wealth of experience themselves as professional bass anglers.  

Until next time, good luck, good fishing and don’t forget your sunscreen. Also make sure to schedule regular dermatologist appointments. If you don’t have a dermatologist, find one! 

Contact Steve at sgraf26@yahoo.com


Lady Demons lock down Huskies

NSU 22 Joelle Johnson HCU 13 Lauryn Mapusua

Northwestern State spent a large portion of its practice time this week working on defense. That focus paid major dividends in a 59-48 win over Houston Christian on Thursday night in Prather Coliseum.

The Lady Demons (8-10, 4-4) held HCU to a 26 percent shooting effort from the field, the lowest by a Division I opponent since the 2010-11 season. Candice Parramore’s career-high 24 points led the charge on the offensive end to get NSU back in the win column.

“The girls had a really good week of practice where we worked on our defense a lot,” head coach Anna Nimz said. “We shored up some areas there during the week, still had some mishaps tonight, but they did a really good job from start to finish. They handled the offense, played their scout and played with intensity.”

NSU came out with the defensive intensity Nimz wanted to see from opening tip, the thing that was missing from the previous two outings on the road.

Neither team was able to find the bucket for nearly the first four minutes of the game, combining to got just 2-for-13 from the field through the first six minutes of the night.

Parramore hit the first of her career high four 3-point shots to answer HCU’s break through bucket with 6:11 left in the first quarter. She dropped in a jumper with under a minute to go to put NSU on top, a lead it held the rest of the game, and Bengisu Alper capped the low-scoring opening quarter with a corner 3 to make it 13-9.

“The coaches have really been helping me gain confidence in my shot,” Parramore said. “It really is just a confidence thing for me when it comes to 3s now. I know how people are going to play me, so I’ve been working on gaining that confidence to take those long shots.”

The NSU defense cranked up the effort in the second holding HCU to just two made free throws through the first four and a half minutes of the second quarter and just one field goal in over eight minutes of game time. The Huskies finished 2-for-11 from the field in the second quarter.

It forced five turnovers in the first quarter, upping that to six in the second and took a 26-22 lead into the half.

The Demons held off the best HCU run of the night midway through the third quarter where the Huskies pulled within a pair thank to an 8-2 stretch. Three turnovers on its three possessions following the final bucket opened the door for the Demons to burst through and take control of the game.

Parramore started a 9-0 run with a layup on an inbound play and the Demons back-to-back key baskets from Joelle Johnson to push the lead to double-digits with two minutes to go in the quarter.

All eight of Johnson’s points came in the second half at seemingly the most opportune times.

“I think she (Johnson) stepped in big,” Parramore said. “I talked to her at halftime and told her to not get frustrated, because she definitely was frustrated in the first half. I told her they were going to go in, in the second half and I think that helped her confidence to shoot and do what she does.”

The Demons forced four of the five third-quarter HCU turnovers in the final four minutes of the quarter and did not allow a made field goal during that stretch.

HCU closed the gap to single-digits on four different occasions in the fourth quarter but each time the Demons found an answer on the offensive end, and found the final push down the stretch defensively to shut the door on the game.

Like it did to end the third quarter, NSU held the Huskies without a field goal, or point for the final three and a half minutes, sealing the game with four free throws in the final 40 seconds.

“I was happy to see them have success after two frustrating road games,” Nimz said. “Happy to get back into Prather and win a game in front of our fans and happy for the girls to get that confidence back. They did a good job all week and always good when you see that come to fruition.”

Credit: Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services


Black’s record-setting night paces Demons’ blowout of HCU

Ja’Monta Black hosted quite a 22nd birthday party Thursday night in Prather Coliseum.

Northwestern State’s sharpshooting senior guard celebrated turning another year older by establishing one school record and tying another, leading the Demons to an 82-63 Southland Conference victory against Houston Christian.

Black, a 6-foot-4, 205-pounder, tied NSU’s single-game 3-point record, connecting on nine long-range shots that lifted his single-season total to 88 – two clear of Jalan West’s mark set in the 2014-15 season.

“I have the best teammates in America,” said Black, who entered the game third nationally in made 3-pointers. “I couldn’t do anything I do it without them. I couldn’t do anything I do without my teammates, my brothers.”

The reigning Southland Conference Player of the Week, Black had 14 of his game-high 31 points in the first half and hit five of his nine 3s in the second half. After tying Kenny McMilllon’s mark he set against Texas-San Antonio on Feb. 20, 1993 with a pullup 3 with 9:54 to play, Black had two potential record-breaking 3-pointers rattle out.

Black’s hot shooting helped the Demons (13-8, 5-3) build a nine-point lead with 8:18 to play in the first half before Houston Christian (7-14, 4-4) tied the game at 26 on a pair of Bonke Maring free throws.

The tie lasted less than a minute as Emareyon McDonald buried 3-pointers on consecutive possessions 37 seconds apart to give the Demons a lead they never relinquished.

Part of that was because of Black’s third 31-point game of the season and second in the past three while another key was slowing the Huskies’ inside attack, led by Maring, who had 15 first-half points.

Maring finished with 21 points after managing just five field goal attempts in the second half as the Demons made a more concentrated effort to pressure the perimeter and eliminate passes to the HCU center.

“We always tell our guys, ‘When you communicate, you’re faster,’” head coach Corey Gipson said. “The communication was unbelievable. That allowed our guys to make sure they were assignment correct on the defensive side of the ball. We were flying around. We were talking. We were touching and taking. Those type of things make a difference.”

The Demons limited Houston Christian to 36 percent shooting from the field, more than 10 percentage points below their season average of 46.9 percent, which led the Southland entering the game.

The Huskies kept things close in the first half by sinking 11 of 14 free throws, part of a 25-for-37 night at the line. Northwestern State held the Huskies to 9-for-25 shooting from the field in each half.

Highlighted by Black’s record-setting 3 at the 12:03 mark, the Demons broke from halftime with a 24-9 run across the first 9:14 of the second half to effectively put the game away. The Demons’ lead grew to as much as 25 on Cedric Garrett’s 3-pointer with 6:10 to play.

Black’s hot shooting put the Demons in position to rest their rotation players as several NSU players earned or tied season highs in minutes.

Among them was Hansel Enmanuel, who added to his growing highlight reel with a pair of dunks including a backside follow slam off a DeMarcus Sharp miss with 12:33 to play.

Enmanuel finished with four points, three rebounds and a block in 17 minutes of action, more than doubling his previous career high of eight.

“I had to keep working,” Enmanuel said. “I had to take care of my teammates. We are a family. They are helping me get better and keep going.”

Enmanuel’s second dunk came off a beautiful feed from Harrison Black, who later scored his first career points off a pass from Enmanuel.

Harrison Black joined Karlin Hardy as Demon reserves who equaled their season high in minutes played. Harrison Black’s bucket, a free-throw line jumper, drew almost as much of a response from the NSU bench as Ja’Monta Black’s parade of 3-pointers.

“We’ve got a great group of guys, great leaders,” Harrison Black said. “Ja’Monta, Sharp, they’ve been great leaders since Day One. Them supporting us when we’re out there like we support them, you can’t be any better than that.”

The Demons return to action Saturday, hosting Lamar. Tipoff is set for 3:30 p.m. inside Prather Coliseum.

Credit: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services


Lady Demons picked third in poll, land five on preseason all-conference

Northwestern State softball landed five players on the 2023 Preseason All-Southland Conference squad and was picked to finish third at season’s end, the league office announced on Thursday. 

The Lady Demons collected 91 points in the poll of the league’s coaches and sports information directors, placing them behind McNeese, who received 128 points and 16 first-place votes, and Southeastern with 113 points and two first-place votes. 

For the second straight season the top three teams in the preseason poll all hail from Louisiana. 

Players from the trio of NSU, McNeese and Southeastern also make up the entire first-team preseason squad and were members of the 2022 all-conference teams. 

Outfielder Laney Roos and pitcher Bronte Rhoden earn the first preseason first-team selections of their careers. Tristin Court, Makenzie Chaffin and Bailie Ragsdale also picked up their first preseason selections with spots on the second team. 

The five total for the Demons matches Southeastern for the second most overall, behind McNeese’s seven. 

Roos led the Demon offense a year ago in nearly every category slashing .365/.431/.547 with six home runs, 11 doubles and 32 RBI. Ragsdale was second on team in batting with a .311 average while Chaffin finished fourth at .270, behind all-conference snub from a year ago Keely Dubois who hit a tick below .300 and led the team in RBI. 

Seven of the eight position players from a season ago, including all four preseason selections, are returning for the Demons in 2023. 

Rhoden leads a now more experienced pitching staff into the season with her preseason honor following a career 2022 campaign. 

The Plano, Texas, native had bests in ERA, wins, strikeouts and opponent batting averages and allowed a team-best nine extra base hits during the season including no home runs allowed. 

Rhoden and redshirt sophomore Maggie Darr had two of the top three lowest overall ERAs during the 2022 season with all four pitchers that saw action a season ago ranked in the top 10 – Darr (1), Rhoden (3), Sage Hoover (6) and Kenzie Seely (9). 

NSU opens its season in Huntsville, Texas at the Bearkat Invitational hosted by Sam Houston State on Feb. 10. The first home game of the season comes two weeks later on Feb. 22 against Grambling. 


Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, Annual Doll Drive Nets over 70 Dolls 

Members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, Mu Omega Zeta Chapter and Zeta Amicae of Natchitoches Auxiliary continue to uphold the founding principles of the sorority by giving back to the community providing service through various projects under the International Service Initiative: Z-Hope: Zetas Helping Other People Excel. Z- HOPE is an interactive, holistic, and multidimensional outreach service initiative designed to enhance, cultivate, and empower participants to develop health promoting lifestyle choices across the lifespan. It builds on the Sorority’s legacy of service by offering a service initiative that addresses the mission-critical needs of a shifting population.

Sorority members and members of the Natchitoches Amicae donated 71 dolls to the 7th Annual Dolled Up Doll Drive.  Mu Omega Zeta Sorority and Amicae have participated in this event for seven years.  Dolled Up promotes positive mentorships for girls.

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated is an international, historically black Greek-lettered sorority founded on January 16, 1920, on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C, by five women affectionately known as “The Five Pearls”. The five coeds chose the name Zeta Phi Beta. Phi Beta was taken from Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated to “seal and signify the relationship between the two organizations” thus making Our founding principles are Scholarship, Service, Sisterhood, and Finer Womanhood. Our motto is: A community-conscious, action-oriented organization. Our mission statement is to foster the ideas of service, charity, scholarship, civil and cultural endeavors, sisterhood, and finer womanhood. These ideals are reflected in the sorority’s national program for which its members and auxiliary groups provide voluntary service to staff, community outreach programs, fund scholarships, support organized charities, and promote legislation for social and civic change.

Zeta Amicae of Natchitoches was originally chartered in 1990, but due to unforeseen circumstances the auxiliary ceased to operate for several years and were reactivated in 2007. Since reactivation the members have been constantly on the move working hand in hand with the sorority and giving back to the community. Zeta Amicae Auxiliary, or “Friends of Zeta,” is comprised of non-degree women who have participated in and contributed to charitable and educational activities. The Zeta Amicae were the first national auxiliary of collegiate sorority. In the 1940’s, the graduate chapters of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated began to realize the importance, prestige, goodwill, and cooperation of women, who for various reasons did not have a college degree but believed in the ideals of Zeta. In 1947, under the administration of Lullelia Harrison, a member of Zeta Phi Beta, the first Amicae chapter was organized in Omaha, Nebraska, making Zeta the first sorority in the National Pan-Hellenic Council to organize an auxiliary group. Zeta Amicae are affiliated through local chapters.


OPPORTUNITY: Special Education Teacher

POSITION: Special Education Teacher

LOCATION: EAST NATCHITOCHES ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

QUALIFICATIONS: Certification according to State Department of Education as an Elementary Mild/Moderate Teacher.

SALARY: According to NPSB salary schedule.

DEADLINE: Thursday, February 9, 2023; 4:00 p.m.

WHERE TO APPLY:
Linda G. Page, Personnel Director
Natchitoches Parish School Board
P. O. Box 16
Natchitoches, LA 71458-0016
Phone: (318) 352-2358
Fax: (318) 352-8138

APPLICATION WEBSITE:
npsb.la

APPLICATION: Application packets should consist of a letter of application, resume’, transcript(s) from institutions awarding degrees, a copy of teaching certificate, and two letters of reference.


That time a ‘guy’ told me no one was thinking about me, and it was awesome

There’s an argument to be made, one bolstered by people’s behavior on social media, that those who live in the western world can be filtered into two camps.

Those who just want to be mad about something. And those who don’t.

I know this is a vast oversimplification. There is so much that goes into a person’s anger and hurt that none of us can ever hazard to begin to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. So as to not draw someone’s ire, I’ll just use myself as the example of today’s little bit of writing.

I have realized that at many times in my life I have just been a person who wanted to be mad. I didn’t want to be a victim. That’s an entirely different first-world fault we have. I just wanted to be angry at someone.

Social media was the worst thing to ever happen to younger me. Other people’s opinions, beliefs, words, political perspectives and so forth made me so mad. That’s the story of the modern world. I didn’t like people I perceived to be hypocrites even though I was one of the biggest myself. As Gandhi said, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians.” I was one of those he wouldn’t like.

I used to just want to be angry. That’s the bottom-line cause Stone Cold said so. Quiet was confused with arrogance when in actuality it was irritation. I had an issue with people because my perspectives shaped my life. It was a long-learned behavior. It made me not like the man I grew up to become. I was a hypocrite. I always told people to just look in the mirror and if you like what you see then you are doing ok. But I never really did. I didn’t like what was looking back.

But something changed a few years ago. I just started talking. I wasn’t talking to anyone in particular. I knew who I was and that person was not who I wanted to be. I didn’t like who I was but I felt encouraged because I wanted to change. Bad people didn’t want to change, right? I wanted to be better. So that had to count for something.

I started talking to no one in particular. And I know I looked crazy to anyone who may have seen me. I started to read. I started to write my thoughts down. I started to ask questions instead of making accusations and thinking I already knew everything. Why did I feel the way I did? I asked more. I didn’t try to tell. I didn’t ask questions I already knew the answers to.

It wasn’t until I started seeking that I started finding. And when I let the answers come, I stopped caring what others put on their social media feeds. I stopped caring who they voted for. So, what if you do bad things? So, do I. So, what if you bad-mouth others? I have done that from time to time as well. So, what if you stumble and fail and stay down sometimes only to cry and blame everyone else but yourself? Brother, I’ve been there.

I realized that God wasn’t religion. And in all that talk and all that reading, I came to find that God doesn’t want me to care what others think. He doesn’t want me to worry about what others have or the way others live their own life just like he doesn’t want them to care how I lead mine. Someone in all that talk of mine basically talked back. “No one’s thinking about you, Josh. No one cares what you think. No one cares if you don’t like them. They aren’t thinking of you.”

And then came the bombshell.

“Isn’t that so freeing? Doesn’t that change everything?”

Wow. When I had this realization, I legitimately said out loud “Wow,” and a little old lady by the vitamins in Walmart lowered her spectacles (I like that word – spectacles) to wonder if I was a malcontent or rabble-rouser.

I realized God wanted me to be all His all the time. He doesn’t want me leaning on others. He doesn’t want me to be self-reliant. He wants me to rely on Him. I am walking a tightrope. So are you. So are we all. Our security rests in Him and not in our best-laid plans. Our best-laid plans are folly. They suck. They are laughable. We walk that tightrope and it is He alone who helps us stay standing. Not people. Not circumstance. It is He who we must go to for prayer, for answers. I said I didn’t know who I was talking to earlier. But I do now. I was talking to the one above all. I was talking to the one beckoning me —one step at a time.

“Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, can separate you from My loving Presence,” I read once and now I know it to be true.

So too is this: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Josh Beavers is a teacher and a writer. He has been recognized five times for excellence in opinion writing by the Louisiana Press Association.


It all started with cousin Doug

Back in the day — I’m talking eight decades or so ago — kids raised out on the rural route did it differently. When it came to entertaining yourself, there were no wi-fi gadgets; no cell phone; no video games. Why? It takes electricity for these things to work and it was years before the wires were strung and lights came on in Goldonna. 

I grew up in a four-room house my daddy built – a living room, kitchen and two bedrooms. Bathroom? Forget about it; it took water piped into the house to make it work. Our bored well, bucket, pulley and rope in the back yard was the water supply. Indoor plumbing consisted of what some folks called a thunder mug or slop jar. The serious stuff took place down a path out back that led to the outhouse.

My brother, Tom, was two years younger than me and we, just the two of us, would no doubt have run out of outdoorsy things to do had it not been for our first cousins, Doug and Sambo who lived on the next hill over from us. Doug and Sambo were like brothers to Tom and me and we did virtually everything together. I was the oldest, Doug a year younger than me, Tom a year younger than Doug and Sambo bringing up the rear, a year younger than Tom.

What did kids do for entertainment way back then before electricity and such came to us? If youngsters growing up today had been deprived of all the gadgets and widgets available now, chaos would no doubt ensue. Not for the four Harris boys; none of the other kids growing up in the community had anything modern either, so we didn’t miss what we never had.

What we did have was the tank pond lying adjacent to the L&A railroad track that furnished water for the steam engines that chugged and labored up Oshkosh Hill after filling tanks.  Just over the track was Molido (pronounced Molly-dough) Creek that coursed through the woods half a mile in back of our house. We learned to swim in the tank pond. Molido with its resident red perch, goggle eye, bass, jackfish and mud cat population was the perfect training ground for boys just learning to fish.

The passage of time has a way of changing things. We all grew up, married, had kids and lived in homes with electricity and indoor plumbing and all the amenities these afforded. Tom and I moved away while Doug and Sambo remained in the little town where we grew up. It’s sad but it’s true; when the realities of life separate you from those who were once so important to you, you grow apart, not because of problems but that’s just the reality of life.

Several years ago, I got a call from Doug. He had retired from a successful career in the petroleum industry, had purchased land and constructed a nice pond near his home and he stocked it with bluegills and bass. Like me, he had missed the times the four Harris boys had growing up and he suggested that we meet on his pond, catch, clean and cook fish and relive some of the special times we had growing up.

On June 29, 2007, the four of us met up on the pond, did those things he suggested, had so much fun and enjoyment we decided we would meet together every year and do it all over again. The Cuz’n Fish Fest was born on that day 15 years ago and has continued ever since.

Changes are inevitable with the passage of time and eight Aprils ago, my brother Tom passed away. That left the three of us to continue what Doug started in 2007. We continued to meet and it became obvious that Doug’s health was in a slow decline.

On January 11, I drove to Goldonna to attend the funeral of Doug, the one who started it all. This leaves just Sambo and me, the oldest and youngest of the four Harris boys, to pick up the pieces of our childhood. Will we continue the tradition? I suppose time will tell.  

Contact Glynn at glynnharris37@gmail.com


BOM SUPPORTS NATCHITOCHES REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER

BOM is continuing our support of the Natchitoches Regional Medical Center Partners in Excellence program. This donation supports their yearly fundraisers including their Steel Magnolia Run, Gala, Halloween Golf Classic and TappedTober. Pictured left to right: BOMFS’ Brian Ohnoutka, BOM’s Katrice Below, Blaise LaCour and Carrie Hough, NRMC Foundation Development Director Halie Errington, BOM’s Emily Breedlove and BOMFS’ Donovan Ohnoutka.


NSU calendar for Jan. 29 – Feb. 4

Here is a look at the week of Jan. 29 – Feb. 4 at Northwestern State University. 

Jan. 17 – Feb. 21 – Michael Yankowski retrospective exhibition. Orville Hanchey Gallery, Hours are Monday – Thursday 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. until noon. 

Jan. 31 – Freedom Brass, Magale Recital Hall, 7:30 p.m. 

Feb. 2 – Julie Kane: “An Evening of Poems and Stories,” Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum. 800 Front St., 6 p.m. 

Feb. 2 – Celebration of Diversity Series: “Lift Every Voice,” Magale Recital Hall, 7:30 p.m. # 


Teens complete internship with The Coach De Foundation

Teen interns had an enlightening experience with The Coach De Foundation. Local teens were given the opportunity to engage with the community through an internship provided by the local nonprofit. The internship consisted of 4 volunteer positions for teens ages 13-17 years old. The program was piloted in 2022 by teenagers who previously volunteered with the organization. Throughout the year students assisted with the planning of events, marketing for events, and execution of events. The program provides local teens with easily accessible job-related programming. Natchitoches youth experience a lack of programming that helps them transition into the next phase of life. The program provided youth with exposure to job fields, a complete resume, and a letter of recommendation. While interning teens learned to better serve their community, and expectations of professional settings and experienced a workspace as an introduction to the workforce. Learning job skills in a setting that youth are familiar with allowed them to develop important skills in a comfortable environment. Providing an easily accessible opportunity also breaks the transportation barrier local teens face. All required activities were scheduled at public walkable locations such as Ben Johnson Park. This teen internship opportunity was funded in part by the Natchitoches Community Improvement Foundation.


Red River Waterway Commission welcomes new marketing director

The Red River Waterway Commission welcomes Dustin Hayes as its new Marketing Director. Dustin, a lifetime resident of Natchitoches, brings networking and public relations experience gained in the Oil & Gas and Financial Service Industries to the position.

Dustin can be reached at dustinhayes@redriverwaterway.com.

The Red River Waterway Commission represents Caddo, Bossier, Red River, Natchitoches, Grant, Rapides, and Avoyelles Parishes.


Hansel Enmanuel has arrived, with his best days of basketball ahead  

UNIQUELY GIFTED:  Northwestern freshman basketball player Hansel Enmanuel has reached levels of accomplishment and recognition few could have foreseen, even while playing sparingly this season. (Photo by KEVIN SHANNAHAN, Natchitoches Parish Journal)

By DOUG IRELAND, Journal Sports

It’s a process that requires patience.

That’s something that Northwestern State basketball coach Corey Gipson and the most famous player in school history, Hansel Enmanuel, understand, even if most others may not.

It’s a process for most freshmen to earn playing time in college sports. Enmanuel is unique, among freshmen or current college basketball players, because he has only one arm. At age 6 back home in the Dominican Republic, he lost his left arm in an accident.

Four other one-armed men have played college basketball previously, notably Kevin Laue, a 6-11 center at Manhattan College from 2009-12. Enmanuel, largely due to social media, is by far the best known.

Enmanuel is undeniably famous, and was before he arrived in Natchitoches late last summer. By then, he had been featured in a Gatorade commercial that aired during the 2022 NBA Finals. Now he’s added endorsement deals with T-Mobil and Adidas, has approximately 4.3 million social media followers, and has a Name, Image and Likeness valuation estimate of $1.5 million, according to On3.com analysis, which also places the NSU freshman eighth on a list of the most prized amateur American athletes, topped by Bronny James (son of NBA great LeBron) and Arch Manning.

His fame has rapidly paid great dividends for NSU. After Enmanuel’s first scoring began with a thunderous dunk at home Dec. 5 late in a blowout win over ULM, the resulting media coverage produced an estimated $89 million in “earned media” – the estimate of what it would cost to obtain the same exposure if paying for it – as his story was featured on many national and international media platforms, including a minute-long segment on ABC’s Good Morning America.

The latest will come this weekend, probably Sunday, during CBS Sports college basketball coverage. A CBS crew visited Natchitoches earlier this month for interviews. That’s never happened.

He moved to Florida to finish high school at Life Christian Academy, a private school in Kissimmee, and his talents earned opportunity to play on the summer AAU circuit, where he hit the national stage.

That’s the background. What’s ahead? Patience is required, he and Gipson agree.

Last Saturday at UNO, Enmanuel achieved another milestone, draining his first collegiate 3-pointer in the waning moments of another blowout win by the Demons (12-8 going into tonight’s home game with Houston Christian, before a Saturday afternoon contest in Prather Coliseum against Lamar). The 3-pointer didn’t gain a fraction of the national media traction that his spectacular slam did, but it energized the 1,093 at Lakefront Arena, including a couple waving the Dominican Republic flag in tribute, and it did move the internet needle.

Reality check: it was Enmanuel’s first game action since Dec. 18, and only his seventh appearance in 20 games this season. Only two other players, both freshmen, on NSU’s 14-man roster have played more infrequently.

Enmanuel has been in action for only 30 minutes, scoring 10 points and collecting five rebounds, making half of his eight shots, but just one of eight free throws. He’s had a steal, and an assist, and no turnovers.

“Any freshman is going to have a tough time at the beginning, because you have to work on your fundamentals and pay attention to detail,” said NSU co-captain Ja’Monta Black. “His growth from Day One to now is great. He’s gotten better at every aspect of the game. He’s going to play hard every time, every practice, every minute.”

“We felt he was somebody who could grow in our program, and those things were addressed on the front end (of recruitment),” said Gipson.

“I’ve learned a lot. I’ve been coachable,” Enmanuel said in an interview just after Christmas. “I’m getting better at my game, making the right decisions. I’ve improved in every area. I’m going to do what (coach) wants me to do.

“Right now, being coachable is the most important thing. Practicing hard. I have to keep working. I don’t know the future. I just know right now.”

Natchitoches is the smallest place he’s lived in his 19 years.

“People are good here. I’ve lived in Florida, New York and the DR. I’m here for a reason, and a small town is OK for me,” he said.

He loves fried food and fast food, especially burgers. He longs for dishes like what his grandmother fixed back home. But he’s very happy at NSU in his tight-knit basketball family.

Along with total immersion in basketball, they’ll play video games (Enmanuel’s favorite is “Call of Duty”), go out to eat, and do things typical college kids enjoy. The social media monster is especially fond of Tik-Tok because of his passion for music, starting with rap, but ranging across genres. Listening helps him improve speaking English, something that he knows is necessary.

Enmanuel hasn’t considered an academic major yet, not until he gets better command of the language here. He listens carefully and speaks cautiously, but capably, to those outside his small circle.

Coaches, teammates and staff members uniformly enjoy his personality and marvel at his athletic skill set and work ethic.

As for whatever the actual financial windfall is, it’s going to support his family, he said – although he gifted teammates with new adidas shoes in the holidays. He is planning on monetizing his basketball career professionally, ideally in the NBA but perhaps in smaller leagues. His father, Hansel Salvador, has been a pro star back home and has played overseas.

Enmanuel constantly cites his faith in God as directing and inspiring him, while he serves as an inspiration for untold millions around the world. He’s the rare athlete who may do anything other than warm up pregame at and at halftime, but even that makes the price of admission worthwhile.

“Hansel Enmanuel’s greatest talent, the rest of his life, will be his mental fortitude and resiliency. That affords the opportunity for him to be a great example,” said Gipson.

He already has been. Black shared a treasured snapshot of his young teammate, early in the season after a win in a tournament at Central Arkansas.

“I don’t think he played in either one of those games, but after we won, he was the happiest guy in the locker room. That just tells you about him. He’s not worried about his playing time. He’s just trying to get better every day. Any other person would be frustrated not getting in the game, but he got in that locker room and was dancing harder than everybody else, so that’s a moment I’ll always remember.”

Fans everywhere eagerly anticipate seeing him in action. There’s been no negativity, said Black.

“I don’t believe so. We wouldn’t tolerate that. Pretty much everybody in the stands cheers for him to get in the game. They want to see him play and I understand that.”

“It’s impossible not to cheer for Hansel Enmanuel,” said former CNN sports anchor Paul Craine. “Such an incredible, inspirational story.”

No matter whether or not he hits the court in a game, that’s true. At this point of his college career, just making it this far is simply remarkable.

What’s next? Patience could pay off. In any case, it’s worthy of admiration, the global community seems to agree.

Contact Doug at sbjdoug@gmail.com


Letter to the Editor: Why we need libraries

To the Editor:

I was confused when I heard that some of the Natchitoches Parish Council members thought it was a good idea to rededicate the Natchitoches Parish Library funds. I was completely shocked to find out that there is going to be a vote on April 29 on cutting funding to our library. I strongly encourage others to make the effort to get out and vote against this millage rededication.

“To ask why we need libraries at all, when there is so much information available elsewhere, is about as sensible as asking if roadmaps are necessary now that there are so very many roads.” -Jon Bing. 

I live on a parish road. It is a dirt road and I do not wish for a dime to be taken from the library to pay for its improvement. Parish residents already voted against new taxes for roads and voted for the renewal of the library tax.

The library is a huge resource for school aged children of the Parish. As a homeschooling mother of two I visit the library often to supplement my curriculum and attend STEAM programs. Many of the mothers in my homeschool group do the same. During my visits I’ve seen many public-school students utilizing the after school tutoring program while I am there. The library’s reach isn’t limited to the city’s schoolchildren. All students have access to the in-person or virtual homework help. They can even check out a Wifi hotspot to access the virtual tutoring if they do not have internet at home. The book mobile visits rural schools throughout the parish. I can only imagine how many children the library has helped to achieve academic success. Children are our future, so removing programs that keep them interested in learning hurts our community as a whole.

I have also routinely attended Library Story Time for years. It is a well utilized asset for young mothers in our Parish. It’s a place to meet other moms and for children to learn, interact and grow together. The library is one of the only indoor places Natchitoches has for children to go on a rainy day. Reading to children before they can read themselves supports cognitive development, improves language skills, promotes early literacy, and prepares them for academic success. The library also offers programs to stimulate the minds of toddlers through music, crafts and more.

The library and its programs for adults is a draw for those looking to move here to develop industry. The library is a natural partner in our local economic development efforts. It provides a variety of resources designed to develop workforce capacity including assistance with ACT/SAT practice testing, resume writing assistance, the tech talks series and small business development seminars.

The summer programs the library offers serve a very large portion of Natchitoches’ Youth. The library is a great place for the youth to be during the summers. Our Parish has double the number of children living in poverty than the rest of the United States. Poverty levels have a direct correlation with crime rates. Our Library offers our youth a place to be that is centered around learning. It is a respite from the pulls of the world.  

“Reading gives us a place to go when we have to stay where we are.” – Mason Cooley. 

Our Library gives us so much more than books. It gives us community.

-Natalie Covher