Opportunity: NPSB Assistant Principal

POSITION: ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL

SITE LOCATION: NATCHITOCHES CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL
SALARY: Starting salary: According to parish school salary schedule.

QUALIFICATIONS: Applicants must be certified or eligible at the time of the application according to Louisiana State Department of Education requirements and must have 5 years of teaching experience.

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

DEADLINE: Tuesday, June 22, 2021; 4:00 p.m.

APPLICATIONS: Application packet should consist of a letter of application, resume’, official transcripts from
institutions awarding degrees, a copy of Louisiana Teacher’s Certificate with principal/education leadership endorsement, three (3) letters of reference, (one being from your immediate supervisor).


NSU Tennis Coach delivers ace with first full recruiting class

Jonas Brobeck has delivered an ace with his first full recruiting class.

The second-year Northwestern State tennis coach’s three-player group has been named the No. 9 mid-major class in the country by TennisRecruiting.net.

The trio of NSU recruits include TRN’s No. 40 ranked player Tjasa Klevisar from Slovenia, Ayu Ishibashi of Japan who is ranked 411th among juniors by the ITF and Rozalie Dohnalova of the Czech Republic, who is the No. 2,061 player according to the WTT.

“We are extremely excited to add Tjasa, Rozalie and Ayu to the Lady Demon family,” Brobeck said. “They have all competed at the highest level and bring a wealth of experience both nationally and internationally. We always strive to compete for Southland titles every year, and we truly believe this recruiting class will help us do that for years to come”

TennisRecruiting.net ranked the top 25 mid-major recruiting classes in its annual survey. The Lady Demons were the lone Southland Conference and Louisiana team in the rankings, which were topped by Rice. This year’s selection marks the first time in program history for Northwestern State to be included in the top 25.

“A lot of people have helped in this process, and it’s truly a testament to the history and culture of this program that we can land such a quality recruiting class,” Brobeck said. “More importantly than their forehands and backhands, these girls are the type of people you want on your team and in your community. They have all the traits and characteristics that will make everyone around them grow and help this program reach the next level.”

Photo: Gary Hardamon/NSU Photographic Services


Pierce gets Lifetime Achievement Award

Jerry Pierce, NSU’s vice president for External Affairs, was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes one outstanding leader of our community each year whose long-term active engagement in the community has had a significant, positive economic impact locally. This is the third year the chamber has recognized an individual with a Lifetime Achievement Award. The inscription on the award reads “In recognition and appreciation for your significant contributions to the Natchitoches area.”

Pierce said, “Natchitoches and Northwestern are extraordinary places to live and work. Any contribution that I might have made to the community and region over the years is a reflection of my genuine appreciation for Natchitoches Parish and the people who make it so distinctive and exceptional. I am truly honored to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.”


Juneteenth in Natchitoches: a Worthy Day of Celebration

Kevin’s Gallery

Local community leaders of the “Unity in the Community” group came together to sponsor our area’s Juneteenth celebration at Natchitoches’ historic First Baptist Church on North Street Saturday, June 19. Juneteenth is the name given to the day on June 19, 1865, on which Union forces under General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas. One of the General’s first actions was to issue his famous General Order Number 3 which stated in part:

“…The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection therefore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer….”

This year’s Juneteenth Celebration, much like the original event 165 years ago, was a joyous celebration of freedom. The evening started at a blocked off area of North St. in front of the church. Several local businesses sponsored tents and displays along the street. They were joined by the National Park Service and Natchitoches Parish Library bookmobile both of which had educational activities for young and old alike.

The program itself was held inside the church. Ralph Wilson and Mildred D. Joseph emceed the event. There were several absolutely superb renditions of traditional spirituals from Mrs. Joy Cook, Mrs. Murphy Payne Reid, Mr. Charles Presley, and Mr. Jonathan Hicks. NSU’s Vice President for Inclusion & Diversity, Dr. Michael Snowden, demonstrated his skills extend beyond academia as he accompanied the incomparable horn player, Andrew Cofield, on the piano. Mr. Ed Ward spoke of local African American history. Natchitoches’ mayor, the Honorable Ronnie Williams, was the keynote speaker.

On the first Juneteenth, a little over two months after the surrender of Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox doomed the Confederacy, General Granger and his troops fulfilled the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. The Stars and Stripes once more flew from every corner of this nation. The Confederacy was crushed and the evil of slavery driven from our country. It is indeed a day worthy of remembrance and celebration!

The Natchitoches Parish Journal would like to commend all of the men and women who worked diligently to bring about this celebration. It was a delightful evening, and we are looking forward to next year’s event!


Notice of Death – June 21, 2021

NATCHITOCHES
Mildred DeLois Lauw Moore
May 12, 1941 – June 20, 2021
Service: Wednesday, June 23 at 2 pm in the chapel of Blanchard St. Denis Funeral Home in Natchitoches

Lisa Kay Sanders
March 10, 1964 – June 17, 2021
Service: Tuesday, June 29 at 1 pm at Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home in Natchitoches

Arnetta McPhearson Hyams
August 14, 1941 – September 23, 2020
Memorial Mass: Saturday, June 26 at 9 am at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church
Graveside Interment Service: Saturday, June 26 at 10 am at the American Cemetery in Natchitoches. All are welcome to attend.

Sarah Jolene Gourdon
September 02, 1971 – June 16, 2021
Service: Thursday, June 24 at 10 am at Clearlake Cemetery in Goldonna

Bobby Ray Thomas
September 14, 1931 – June 16, 2021
Service: Wednesday, June 23 at 2 pm at L. C. Weaver Cemetery in Campti

Cynita Nash
June 16, 2021
Arrangements TBA

Edward Sewell, Sr.
June 16, 2021
Service: Saturday, June 26 at 2 pm in the Winnfield Memorial Funeral Home Chapel, located at 318 North Street in Natchitoches

Freddie Lee Jackson
June 01, 2021
Arrangements TBA

SABINE:
William Conrad Craft Sr.
June 6, 1941 – June 18, 2021
Service: Tuesday, June 22 at 11 am at Beckom Cemetery in Hornbeck

WINN:
Bobby Joe Brewton
September 28, 1936 – June 18, 2021
Service: Wednesday, June 23 at 10 am at Antioch Community Cemetery in Brewton’s Mill

Richard Irwin Bagwell

April 27, 1948 – June 18, 2021
Service: Wednesday, June 23 at 10 am at Southern Funeral Home in Winnfield

Twilla Dell Evans Parker
November 20, 1934 – June 16, 2021
Service: Wednesday, June 23 at 2 pm in the Southern Funeral Home Chapel


Natchitoches Man Arrested for Narcotics Charges

Deputies assigned to the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office “IMPACT” team conducted a traffic stop on June 16 at 5 pm on a vehicle for equipment violations.

Upon stopping the vehicle, the driver was identified as Martrevious Lard, 30, of the 100 block of Maria Lane, Natchitoches Louisiana. After identifying Lard, Deputies were able to determine that he was driving under suspension.

While speaking with Lard, Deputies noticed suspected marijuana gleanings on his shirt. Due to the presence of suspected narcotics, Deputies searched Lard’s vehicle for additional contraband. During the search of the vehicle, Deputies located one suspected marijuana blunt, and 44 suspected ecstasy tablets.

Upon completing the search of the vehicle, Deputies transported Lard to the Natchitoches Parish Detention center where he was booked for the following charges:

• Possession of CDS I (marijuana)
• Possession of CDS I (ecstasy)
• Obstruction of Justice.
• Driving under suspension.
• Obstruction of driver’s view.
Lard was booked into the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center awaiting a bond.


Clarence Man Arrested for Narcotics Charges

NPSO Deputies assigned to the “IMPACT” team conducted a traffic stop on June 17 on a truck near the intersection of Hwy 1226 and US 84. Upon stopping the vehicle, Deputies came in contact with the driver, Jarrett Winslow, 23, of the 100 block of Bayou Dr. Clarence, La. During the course of the investigation, Deputies detected the odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle. Winslow admitted to having a small amount of marijuana inside the vehicle.

Upon searching the vehicle, Deputies located an opaque prescription pill bottle that contained approximately 1.8 grams of high grade marijuana. As Deputies continued the search, they located another opaque prescription pill bottled that had approximately 151 multi-colored suspected ecstasy tablets.

Winslow was transported to the NPDC, where he was booked and charged with the following:

• Possession w/intent CDS I (ecstasy)
• Possession of CDS I (marijuana)
• Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
• Auxiliary lighting
• Failure to yield for a stop sign
• Open container.


More than a Sculpture-a Monument to Love and Strength

Kevin’s Gallery

Natchitoches’ Trinity Baptist Church was filled Saturday, June 19 for a very special occasion. A cross honoring Lisa Chesser Borders, a longtime member of the church who passed away due to cancer in 2018, was unveiled. The cross was crafted by her husband, James Borders, a local sculptor and former visiting art professor at NSU. The piece, entitled “Faith”, stands in front of the church his wife loved and is the only “monumental contemporary sculpture” in Natchitoches according to its creator.

The sculpture took almost a year to create and is dedicated to “Three Strong Women”, his wife Lisa Chesser Borders, Margaret P. Chesser, and Avis Borders Fletcher. The sculpture is a cross with symbolism representing the Trinity incorporated into its design.

Before the sculpture Faith’s unveiling, Lisa Chesser Borders was remembered and honored by friends and family in a moving ceremony held inside the filled sanctuary. Pastor Aaron McGuffee, Trinity’s current leader, opened the program and was followed by Rev Ron Thompson, who held that post at the time of her passing. Several of Ms. Borders’ friends shared poetry and writings from this remarkable woman of faith. Judge Desiree Dyess spoke in a moving tribute of her long-time employee, clerk, and friend. Lastly, her husband James Borders spoke of his wife. Her strong faith, faithful service to her church and family and willingness to put her shoulder to any task needed, were common themes throughout the service.

A scholarship in her name for students majoring in Art is being established at Northwestern State University. Helping future generations achieve their dreams is a fitting remembrance indeed.

“It’s ok. I am at peace. I know where I am going.” That statement, inscribed upon a plaque at the base of her monument, is an apt summary of a life well lived.

The Natchitoches Parish Journal is donating the event photography. The album is unlocked, and anyone may download any photos they wish. If you do see a photo you like, please consider a donation to the scholarship fund in lieu of payment.


LSHOF week is here, ending with a new event and then, the big show

It’s game week for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020 Induction Celebration, beginning Thursday and culminating Saturday evening with the Induction Warmup Reception and Induction Ceremony.

The Induction Ceremony, of course, is the focal event of the weekend, when the 11 people in the Class of 2020 officially are enshrined.

The Warmup Reception is a new event limited to those who have purchased tickets or tables for the Induction Ceremony. The reception begins at 5 in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum, and lasts until 6:45. The ceremony kicks off promptly at 7 at the Natchitoches Events Center, as it has for years.

For tickets, and more information about the inductees and other events, visit LaSportsHall.com or call 318-238-4255. Purchases for Saturday’s events will be open through Friday.

The new reception at the museum was conceived last fall as LSHOF officials dealt with pandemic restrictions while trying to stage the 2020 Induction in mid-December. That was ultimately postponed, but the concept’s merits moved forward.

In past years, too many guests who came in only for the Induction Ceremony never saw the widely-acclaimed museum since it opened in 2013. The local museum staff opened the doors all day on Sunday, and will again this year, but many Induction Ceremony patrons headed home Saturday night or early Sunday and never saw the New Inductee Exhibit or all the other fascinating material in the two-story, 27,000-square foot museum just a couple hundred feet away from the Events Center.

When the fall pandemic protocols limited the size of the crowd able to attend the Induction Ceremony, one simple way to maximize that number was to eliminate serving a meal at the Events Center. That provided several dozen more seats for guests while capacity was limited to 250.

The limitations have long since been scaled back and capacity at the Events Center is no longer a concern. But the merits of showcasing the museum have led to the decision to serve patrons at the reception an abundant array of top-shelf hors d’oeuvres in lieu of a sit-down meal, accompanied by all the other amenities including refreshments, bar service and music.

The doors to the Events Center for the Induction Ceremony will open at 6. For guests who don’t attend the reception at the museum, there will be some light appetizers such as mini-meat pies, along with refreshments, bar service and the opportunity to view and bid on an impressive collection of auction items and experiences benefitting the LSHOF Foundation.

Cox Sports Television will go live from the Events Center at 6, and precisely an hour later, as the clock strikes 7, the Induction Ceremony tips off with the always stirring Walk of Legends, followed immediately by the inductions of each of the 11 honored guests.

Saturday evening’s reception and ceremony are the only two events during the Induction Celebration with an upscale dress code – coat and tie, or at least a blazer and open collar, is requested of the gentlemen, with corresponding-level dresses or pantsuits for the ladies.

Along with the inductees, dozens of past inductees are expected to attend. The opportunity to star-gaze is there, especially at the receptions at the museum and in the Events Center leading up to 7 o’clock Saturday night. Who knows? The 2019 guests were treated to a group shot of the LSHOF’s three father-son combinations: Billy Hardin, representing himself and his late father Slats; Archie and Peyton Manning; and Bert and Dub Jones.

There are sure to be some memorable sights and sounds Saturday night at this Hall of Fame induction.


Northwestern State hires former national champion to take over program

Former national champion Stuart Gore will take the reins of the Northwestern State soccer program, director of athletics Greg Burke announced Friday.

Gore accepted the Lady Demons head coaching job after building Northwestern Ohio into a perennial national NAIA power, winning a national championship in 2016 and advancing to four straight Final Fours.

The hire must be approved by the Louisiana Board of Supervisors, of which NSU is a member, as well as pass through other University human resource processes.

“It is exciting to have a national coach of the year, with a national championship on his resume, leading an NSU soccer program which has repositioned itself over the past few seasons with a high level of success,” Burke said. “Stu’s background, from competing and coaching on the professional level to coaching at different levels collegiately, will benefit our team on all levels of the game – physically, mentally and strategically.

“His ability to relate to the players while still motivating them will create a solid environment of competitiveness and camaraderie within the program. While the timeline from now to preseason practice is short, Stu’s experience has prepared him to expedite the necessary details which will make the transition as seamless as possible.”

Gore, who was the NAIA Coach of the Year in 2016, was Northwestern Ohio’s first coach in program history, amassing a 100-15-5 in five seasons from 2013-17.

The native Englander built Northwestern Ohio from the ground level, but he said the Lady Demons track record of success along with its cadre of returning players was attractive.

“This is a great chance to take over a program that’s had success over the past couple of years and build on that,” Gore said. “These girls have gone from one end of the Southland Conference to the other in a positive way, but what struck me most is that they weren’t content with that.

“They want to win trophies and be the top dog in the conference, and that’s just fine with me. Pair that with meeting great people from the administration like Greg Burke and Dr. Haley Taitano to other coaches and a fantastic search committee that was super invested — it’s a great opportunity for me.”

Gore had immediate success at Northwestern Ohio, going 15-5-1 in his first season while guiding the Racers to the national championship game in just his second season, which started the string of four straight Final Fours.

With four of five All-Southland Conference players returning as well as eight of nine Lady Demons who scored a point during the 2021 spring season, NSU should be in the mix for a conference title.

“The three cornerstones of our athletic department align perfectly with what Stuart Gore is all about – academic achievement, personal responsibility and competitive success,” said Taitano, NSU’s deputy athletics director and senior women’s administrator. “We can’t wait to get him here and continue building upon an already solid soccer program packed full of talented, hard-working young women who are eager to win championships and excel on and off the field.”

The Lady Demons finished second and a tie for second in the SLC standings in the past two seasons, advancing to the 2019 SLC Tournament Championship game under co-head coaches Jess and Anna Jobe.

Jess Jobe accepted the men’s head coaching position at Dallas Baptist, where he had previously served as a women’s soccer assistant.

Returners include SLC Goalkeeper of the Year Acelya Aydogmus and two-time SLC Defender of the Year Nicole Henry from a defense that ranked eighth nationally with a .41 goals against average. Henry also was picked to the United Soccer Coaches All-Midwest Region Team twice.

Gore has spent the past three seasons as NCAA Division I associate head coach, spending two campaigns at James Madison after being a finalist for its head coaching vacancy and this past season at North Dakota.

JMU won the Colonial Athletic Association regular season title in Gore’s first season and posted an 11-5-2 league record in Gore’s two seasons.

“Being in the head coaching role is familiar to me, and getting back to the role and putting my blueprint on things is super exciting,” Gore said. “But NSU is a program where you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

“We’ll improve on things where we think we can, but I’m not coming down and trying to change massive amounts of things. We’ll try to tweak things to get to the next level.”

The NSU soccer season begins Aug. 19 at Oral Roberts with Gore’s first home game coming Sept. 1 against in-state rival Louisiana Tech.

Gore also has professional coaching and playing experience.

He was the head coach of the Women’s Professional Soccer League’s Philadelphia Fever for a season after spending three years on the Washington United Club and helping the Philadelphia Independence transition to professional soccer.

As a player, he competed for two seasons with UD Lorca of the Spanish Second Division after a college career at Division II Montevallo.

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING ABOUT STUART GORE:

“Coach Gore had a huge impact on our team. He would take time to sit down with us for as long as was needed to help us improve. He taught us how to better play the game. You can call any of my JMU teammates and you will hear the same thing.”

Ginger Deel, James Madison University leading scorer 2020-21 (Gore coached Deel in 2018 and 2019)

“You can’t go wrong hiring Stu. He’s a really good coach. He has a great balance, knowing when to demand more of a player and when to offer encouragement. He is very pragmatic and flexible.”

Josh Walters, Head Coach, James Madison University

“Stu knows the game inside and out. He just has an innate knowledge of the game. He also has a special knack for developing relationships with this era of student-athletes. The team always believed in his practice and game strategy.”

Jen Dervarics, Head Coach (assistant coach under Stuart Gore for five years)

University of Northwestern Ohio,

“Stuart is incredible. He has won a national championship as a head coach, possesses recruiting connections that have resulted in his programs obtaining Division I All-Americans, cares greatly about his athletes, and places great emphasis on academic success. He has the second-highest coaching license in the world, and from working with him, it is obvious why as he’s simply a fantastic coach.”

Chris Logan, Head Coach, University of North Dakota

“Stu is a very good coach. He will make the program relevant. He is a pure-bred soccer guy.”

Chris Adams, Athletic Director, University of Northwestern Ohio


Natchitoches Junior High Jag representatives talk to East Natchitoches students

Dr. LaFollette, Ms. LaKesha Walker, Coach Brown, She’Kinya Pipkin and Jacquelyn Rainwater attended a Meet and Greet with the 6th grade students at East Natchitoches Elementary where they introduced themselves and talked about their respective program or club at the Natchitoches Junior High.

She’Kinya Pipkin was the spokesperson for Jobs for America’s Graduates. She’Kinya’s persona embodies all that JAG stands for. Graciously, she spoke about her experience within the JAG program “JAG is an educational program that prepares you for adulthood. It teaches one how to be an effective communicator and life skills. With JAG on your side, you will be able to do things you didn’t understand and weren’t able to do.

Pictured are Principal Charles LaFollette, She’Kinya Pipkin, Jag Specialist Jacquelyn Rainwater and Coach Donald Brown. Not pictured is Counselor LaKesha Walker.


OPPORTUNITY: DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC WORKS

POSITION: Director of Public Works

DESCRIPTION: Performs complex supervisory, administrative and professional work in planning, organizing, directing, and supervising the Public Works Department, including environmental, streets, drainage, grass cutting and other public works projects and programs.

CONTACT: City of Natchitoches, Human Resources Department located at 1400 Sabine St. or P.O. Box 37, Natchitoches LA 71458-0037. Applications may also be picked up upstairs at City Hall located at 700 Second St. or you can download an application on line at http://www.natchitochesla.gov

QUALIFICATIONS: A registered Civil Engineer with at least two years related experience in a responsible managerial or administrative position OR shall have at least 5 years of related public works experience in a responsible managerial or administrative position OR any equivalent combination of education and experience.

DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS: Applications will be accepted through June 28, 2021

THE CITY OF NATCHITOCHES IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER


BOM Welcomes Raven Gray

BOM would like to welcome Raven Gray to the team at our University Parkway location as a teller. Raven grew up in Natchitoches Parish in Robeline. She is a graduate of the 2020 class at Many High School. She is also a church member at Bethel Fellowship Assembly of God in Many, LA. In her spare time, she loves spending quality time with her family and friends and making memories with them that she will cherish forever. Raven said, “I am very excited to be a part of the BOM family and I am looking forward to serving all customers at BOM and getting involved in our community!” Welcome, Raven!


Top Five: Week ending June 19, 2021

Top Five (5) Stories on the Natchitoches Parish Journal for the week of June 13, 2021 to June 19, 2021.

If you missed any of these, take a moment to read them now.   If you are not receiving this on your social media of choice, then sign up for the morning update delivered each morning, Monday through Friday, to your inbox.


Letter to the Community from Goldonna Principal, Cori Beth Manuel


What? Yes, a burger


NPSB Announces New Principal at Natchitoches Junior High – Frankie Ray Jackson School


NSU scholarship honors Ackel family members


Ain’t No Mountain High Enough


Notice of Death – June 20, 2021

NATCHITOCHES:
Arnetta McPhearson Hyams
August 14, 1941 – September 23, 2020
Memorial Mass: Saturday, June 26 at 9 am at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church
Graveside Interment Service: Saturday, June 26 at 10 am at the American Cemetery in Natchitoches. 

In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Arnetta may be made to the American Lung Association, the Owl Research Institute, The Natchitoches Genealogical and Historical Association, Po Box 1349, Natchitoches, La 71458 or any charity of your choice.

Sarah Jolene Gourdon
September 02, 1971 – June 16, 2021
Service: Thursday, June 24 at 10 am at Clearlake Cemetery in Goldonna

Bobby Ray Thomas
September 14, 1931 – June 16, 2021
Service: Wednesday, June 23 at 2 pm at L. C. Weaver Cemetery in Campti

Cynita Nash
June 16, 2021
Arrangements TBA

Edward Sewell, Sr.
June 16, 2021
Service: Saturday, June 26 at 2 pm in the Winnfield Memorial Funeral Home Chapel, located at 318 North Street in Natchitoches

Freddie Lee Jackson
June 01, 2021
Arrangements TBA

SABINE:
Dickie Joseph Remedies
March 16, 1961 – June 17, 2021
Service: Saturday, June 19 at 10 am at St. John’s Catholic Church

WINN:
Jerald Wayne Bamburg
September 13, 1940 – June 17, 2021
Service: Sunday, June 20 at 3 pm at the First Baptist Church of Winnfield

Twilla Dell Evans Parker
November 20, 1934 – June 16, 2021
Service: Wednesday, June 23 at 2 pm in the Southern Funeral Home Chapel

RED RIVER:
Odra F. White
January 03, 1933 – June 17, 2021
Service: Monday, June 21 at 11 am at Martin Baptist Church


Local and State Closings to observe holiday

Local and State Office closures to observe Juneteenth Holiday following Governor John Bel Edward’s Proclamation “Legal State Holiday – Juneteenth Day.” (attached below)

Closing at Noon on Friday

10th Judicial District (A & B) Natchitoches Parish
Natchitoches Parish District Attorney’s Office
Natchitoches Parish Clerk of Court
Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office
Registrar of Voters – Natchitoches Parish
Natchitoches City Court
Natchitoches Parish Tax Assessor’s Office

All State Office for the State of Louisiana
The Louisiana Supreme Court
Note: The Louisiana Supreme Court Clerk of Court’s office, however, will remain open with reduced staff until 5:00 pm to receive filings.

  • Updates as provided


DISTRICT ATTORNEY HARRINGTON DISCUSSES CRIMINAL JUSTICE RELATED LEGISLATION AS 2021 SESSIONS ENDS

The 2021 Legislative Session adjourned last week in Baton Rouge, with over 1,600 pieces of legislation filed for consideration and debate. Throughout the session, which began in April, district attorneys and criminal justice advocates have worked diligently to review and to support or oppose over 100 criminal justice related bills.

District Attorney Billy Joe Harrington attended the Legislative Session to provide testimony on criminal justice legislation and to advocate for crime victims.

“This was an intense session, with many issues being discussed that impacted the lives of crime victims and their families. We heard emotional and passionate testimony from victims who would have been adversely affected by some the proposed bills. District attorneys and law enforcement leaders from throughout the state joined together protect crime victims in the pursuit of justice,” said Harrington.

One of the most debated bills in the House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice this year would weaken victims’ rights and provide new opportunities for convicted murderers to escape justice. The proposed legislation would allow killers who were under the age of 18 when committing the murder and were tried and convicted as an adult to gain parole eligibility after serving 25 years of a life sentence.
Crime victims and families attended the two-day committee meeting, sharing hours of gripping testimony of their first-hand accounts of the murders of their loved ones. Nathan Albritton, of Natchitoches Parish, joined District Attorney Harrington to share his personal testimony about his family. Albritton’s wife and son were murdered in 1993 in Natchitoches Parish.

Harrington said, “the compelling testimony from the victims who courageously shared their personal accounts of these violent crimes made an impact on the members of committee. As a result the bill will not move forward.”

District attorneys also opposed legislation that would have retroactively required retrying prior non-unanimous felony convictions. Since 2018, juries must reach a unanimous verdict in all felony cases. However, regarding previous convictions, the

United States Supreme Court ruled with a supermajority decision in May that the law does not apply retroactively.

“We opposed legislation that would require victims to retry their tragedy all over again, sometimes with cases over 30 years old with witnesses now deceased or unable to testify,” said Harrington.

In other legislation, district attorneys recognized the continuing battle to deter illegal narcotics by supporting SB145, which strengthened pre-trial drug testing requirements and set stronger conditions for those entering a drug court program. The law also provides for funding for drug courts and drug programs from any anticipated monies received from lawsuits against opioid manufacturers.

“We must continue to do everything we can to reduce, deter, and mitigate the flow of illegal narcotics into our community. We have a successful drug court in Natchitoches Parish, which has impacted and helped hundreds of citizens break the cycle of drug addiction. We will continue to educate our young people on the dangers of narcotics misuse and how it negatively affects their entire lives,” said Harrington.

District attorneys successfully opposed legislation that would have legalized the recreational use of marijuana in Louisiana. The Legislature did enact medical marijuana legislation, HB 391, to allow for patients who are clinically diagnosed as suffering from a debilitating medical condition to be prescribed marijuana by medical doctor.

“We strongly feel that the recreational use of marijuana, or any other controlled substance as defined in the law, should remain prohibited. The negative effects of drug misuse reaches all corners of our community and is not productive in any way.

“We will continue to work with our local legislative delegation to ensure that the voices of crime victims and allies are heard and our concerns are addressed,” said Harrington.


Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

By Reba Phelps

Summer vacation looked a little different for this single mom and her daughters this year. We traded in our accustomed relaxing sound of waves crashing onto a white sandy beach for the breathtaking snowcapped mountainous terrain, geysers, bison and crystal clear creeks.

As a family, we have never traveled west together. It truly was a monumental task for us to take the three day road journey, one-way, into land we have never seen. At times, it was intensely distracting to stay focused on the Interstate. The rocky mountainsides and the winding rivers were constantly vying for my attention. I had to fight the urge to let my 14 year old continue her driver’s education and get behind the wheel of the Buick….I clearly remember my parents letting me drive at that age but Kathryn wanted no part of it.

Because of her refusal to drive I put her on critter patrol. She had to announce every critter she saw that was not on the normal list in Louisiana.

There was so much to see along the way. Historical markers, that included a stop on the Pony Express and one of the last stops on the Oregon Trail. Fields and fields chock full of elk and bison. We were in heaven. Oh, did I mention that the temperatures never reached above 75 and there was zero humidity? There was one point where Kathryn actually thought she was losing hair because her mane had suddenly become manageable and tame.

Our largest stop along the way was Pikes Peak. I did my Goggle research before taking the accent up the mountain so I was well aware of the steepness that was not guarded by guardrails and good sense. On our way into the park we were stopped by a Park Ranger. She showed me how use low gears for the descent, advised us to turn off the air conditioner, and just enjoy the road while paying attention to other drivers and critters that may spook us off of the road.

Once she instilled a little fear….we opened the sunroof and we were on our way in the little white Buick.

We stopped at a few places and took selfies to prove we were there. We stopped at the designated overlooks and just stared at God’s majestic work. It was truly indescribable beauty to behold. I refused to look down as I was driving up but I noticed that Kathryn had scooted to the middle of the car and Meredith was almost in my lap the higher we climbed while our ears constantly popped.

It was also noticeable that the cars coming down the mountain were hugging the yellow line and creeping over to my side. I could not understand why there was a sudden shift in the atmosphere. My daughters were scared and they were scrambling for a Christian radio station. For some reason, at point, I decided to look past the passenger’s side of the window and straight down all at the same time.

My eyes could not bear to see how far away we were from ground level. Suddenly, I was helping to locate that radio station to provide the comfort we needed. I knew I had not read of any deaths on this mountain, so people make it up and down all the time and live to tell about it. At this time I could feel my legs locking up and possibly shaking a bit. Being the adult in the car that my daughters looked up to, I had to get myself together. We all started singing the first song on Sirius XM, The Message, simultaneously.

“You, are still my God, you’re still my rock, my only hope Lord, you’re all I got, in every valley and mountaintop….I say Hallelujah, you’re still my God.”

At this point we were settling in for the last one thousand feet of driving and we had calmed down and felt certain that we were going to live. We pulled over at the final stopping point while still singing the song. We were giddy with excited and relief.

As other vehicles were pulling in at the same time, we instantly noticed that the vehicle next to us was singing the exact same song, evidently listening to the same radio station as well. We could not help but chuckle at each other when we exited our cars. The mother and her sons in the other car said, “You too?”

I simply replied, “Yes, we started praying and singing a few miles back.” It was a knowing glance between two moms who were very thankful to be in the presence of fellow believers witnessing the beauty that God created for his children to enjoy.

We were also thanking God for the perfect soundtrack he provided in the background to help cast out our fear and worry. But, doesn’t he have a sense of humor?

In every valley and mountain top…….You’re still my God.

“My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved my enemies.”
2 Samuel 22:3-4


CITY ANNOUCES OFFICE CLOSURE IN OBSERVANCE OF JUNETEENTH HOLIDAY

On Wednesday, Governor John Bel Edwards declared Juneteenth as a legal state holiday allowing all State offices to close at noon on June 18, 2021. In accordance with the Governor, Mayor Williams would like to notify the public, offices of the City of Natchitoches will close at noon on Friday, June 18th in observance of the Juneteenth holiday.

Juneteenth is a day commemorating June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger led Union soldiers to Galveston, Texas to bring news that the Civil War had ended and that President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all those who were enslaved.

Mayor Williams would also like to invite everyone to attend the annual Juneteenth celebration to be held in the parking lot of First Baptist Church – North Street on Friday, June 18, from 5:30 – 8:00 PM.
There will be activities and a parade the following day in Payne Subdivision & Cherry Loop Park from 2:00 – 8:00 PM.