Motorcyclist chased by HPD crashes in Sibley

By Bonnie Culverhouse

In a pursuit that began in Bossier Parish, Haughton Police chased a motorcycle driven by 33-year-old Robby Lerille into south Webster Parish early Friday morning.

Haughton Police Chief Todd Gibson said the pursuit began as a routine traffic stop on Hwy. 157 in Haughton just after midnight.

“The reason for the stop was no license plate on the motorcycle,” Gibson said. “Nor did it have any license plate lights, nor did it have any rear signals. It was routine, but the subject decided he wasn’t going to stop.”

According to Gibson, the motorcycle turned south on Highway 371, onto Nursery Road south of Sibley where it crashed.

“We believe talking to residents in that area, with the assistance of the Webster Sheriff’s Office and Louisiana State Police, he just took that road to evade capture,” Gibson said. “We do not have any belief that he had any ties to the Sibley area or Nursery Road.”

The suspect reportedly laid down the cycle and fled on foot, where he ran in front of a Haughton Police unit.

He was treated for non-life-threatening injuries and the officer was not injured.

“He was transported to a local hospital – they released him – they usually notify us, but for some reason this time they didn’t. An officer was with him at one point but the officer left. It is unclear why he left and why we weren’t notified, ” Gibson said. “Obviously his injuries were very, very minor.”

The chief said Lerille is from the Monroe area but also has ties to New Orleans.

“There are arrest warrants for him,” Gibson said. “Charges will be for possession of methamphetamine – 4 grams, aggravated flight from an officer and resisting an officer.”

This information has been provided by a law enforcement agency as public information. Persons named as suspects in a criminal investigation, or arrested and charged with a crime, have not been convicted of any criminal offense and are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.


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Dixie Inn to benefit from GUMBO program

By Paige Nash

Representatives from AT&T met with police jurors and a group of interested citizens from Webster Parish on Tuesday, January 24.  

AT&T signed a grant agreement for a project area within Webster Parish on November 21 of this past year. The program helping with the cost of this project is the Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities (GUMBO) grant program.  

Louisiana State Director with AT&T Stephanie Doiron said, “We are officially starting our design and engineering process. The GUMBO program is helping us with the construction cost. We are bringing our own dollars to that to build it out, but it will also require ongoing maintenance and upgrades over time.” 

Over the last three years AT&T has spent $1.1 billion in Louisiana in both wireline and wireless networks. 

“We are not new to fiber connectivity,” said Doiron. “A residential type build in this area will be new to us in terms of building in that particular area but we have over 420,000 locations here in Louisiana that have our fiber services.” 

This will be a fiber network from end to end with the fiber coming from the central office to residents and businesses within this project area allowing them access to high-speed internet up to 5 gigabytes.  

The project area that was approved by GUMBO is in Dixie Inn, roughly between McIntyre Road and Newt Brown Road. There are an estimated 250 locations within this project area.  

There is an Affordable Connectivity Program available for households at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines. Residents could also take advantage of this program if they participate in federal assistance programs such as SNAP, WIC, Medicaid or if they have received a Federal Pell Grant in the current award year. A resident or someone within your household must only meet one of the criteria to be eligible.  

For only $30 a month eligible households will receive internet with speeds up to 100 megabytes per second, unlimited data, free installation, in-home Wi-Fi access. Households will not be required to sign an annual contract, put down a deposit or pay for equipment fees.  

Gerald Long serves as the point person for broadband expansion for Senator Bill Cassidy’s office attended the meeting and expressed his excitement for this project.  

“This is going to be a game changer in our rural parishes. It is going to be extremely important,” said Long. “We have approximately 350,000 residents in Louisiana who have qualified for the Affordable Connectivity Program. One of the things we are finding is there are more people who qualify for this than they realize. When I last looked at Webster Parish, perhaps as high as 50 percent of families would qualify.” 

The AT&T Representatives stressed the importance of having cooperation and close collaboration from the governing bodies on a local level in the parish. 

Webster Parish Police Jury President Jim Bonsall said, “We will do whatever we can to make sure it is easy on you. The people in the parish need this badly. You don’t know how often we talk about this issue. We do wish it were a bigger area, but we are happy to get this started.”  

AT&T is currently in the engineering phase of this project, but the build out is expected to be completed within at least 36 months. 


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Land O’ Goshen

We’re still curious about the destiny of a couple of parcels of land in our town; one of which has been cleared but whose future remains partly cloudy, and another that has been deundergrowthed but remains in a slightly primitive state.  

Property on both sides of Sheppard Street at the intersection of Fort St., with signage showing ownership by a local church, hasn’t been enhanced since all trees were removed last year. From the time equipment began deforestation until this week, speculation continues. We’ve heard the owning church intends to build a new worship complex; some say a residential (i.e., rent assisted housing) project is on the drawing board; others contend a commercial development is being planned. 

It’s not unusual for owners/developers/entrepreneurs to keep things close to the vest, and the fact that so little information has been forthcoming might only be fodder for the invariably curious (including your Rocker). But after many weeks, the future of parcels on both sides of the road make for good speculation and conspiracy theorization. 

For those who navigate Sheppard practically every day, perhaps the owner might erect an “Area 51” sign to pique our interest even more.

On the western end of Sheppard, east of Lee, north of the scenic drainage ditch and behind our town’s civic center/city hall complex, lies some 11 or so acres of Miller Quarters. Located just off the historic downtown area, much of the site has been dusted off nicely with significant undergrowth removed and overgrowth trimmed to some degree.

A facade, as in a small (very small) part of the property now includes a picnic area and swing sets, parking spaces for food trucks, a seating area for entertainment and a couple of other playground-friendly items. A new entrance gate tagged Miller Quarters has also been erected. That leaves about 10 acres to be put to some sort of use.

We hear the spot will likely serve as a venue for outdoor events such as festivals, arts and crafts fairs, concerts and other types of entertainment. Minden does play host to a number of festivals and we understand Miller Quarters is being considered as future home or, perhaps, additional space for some of those. But there’s lots of work ahead before Miller is either primary or accessory.

From what we’ve read, the annual Scottish Tartan Festival will be trading its out-in-the-country site for Miller Quarters. That particular pastoral place was similar to Miller sizewise, but there’s quite a difference in elevation drop. 

Date of that kilt gala is the latter part of April or, as we say in the Golden Triangle, just around the corner. Unless there are plans for the Scottishers to be their celebratory selves in rustic surroundings, somebody’s got a lot of work to do and a short time to get’er done. Weather permitting.

When the Webster Parish Convention and Visitors Commission announced its purchase of the former Miller-Inabnett property, much was made of its potential to draw boocoodles visitors to our town. We were skeptical, primarily because we were also led to believe we would experience a tourism stampede after a certain HGTV reality show featured us (well, some of us). Same folks, same prediction. Saying it’s so doesn’t make it so, my grandpa said. 

After discussing the shortfall of expectations on that tourism subject, we learned that rocking your chair on the wrong cat’s tail will get you treated like the feller who breaks into a home for the visually impaired and rearranges furniture. But what the heck. Differences of opinion encourage debate.

We see a potential for something good at Miller Quarters, but somebody needs to get off the pot. If there are plans in the works, give us a few details. Meetings of the WPCVC have shed little light on what, when and how much, and the clock’s ticking. 

Here’s hoping all goes well. We need it, especially when considering economic growth and the fuel that feeds that fire. If we build it and they do come, that’ll be cool. Even a cynic likes good news.

– Pat Culverhouse

 


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Arm your children

Think back to when you were a kid – did you get into mischief?  Did you search for, and find, Christmas or birthday gifts your parents intended to give you as a surprise?  What about your parents’ stuff – ever rummage through their things – ever find something you wish you hadn’t – ever get into your dad’s case of Busch Light or your mom’s box of Franzia?  Well, I’m here to tell you, regardless how sweet and innocent you believe your precious baby boy or girl to be, your kids do (or will do) the same thing.

Most of the time this type of behavior is motivated purely by curiosity and is perfectly normal.  Usually, the worst thing that happens is dad gets embarrassed because his son found a stash of vintage Playboys, or mom wants to hide under a rock when little Johnny asks her what a “personal massager” is.  It doesn’t matter how well you hide things; a curious child will defeat a clever hiding place ten times out of ten.

If your kids can locate your unmentionables, you better believe they can, and will, locate your guns.  What’s more worrisome is that they will likely handle those guns – especially if guns are a mystery to them.  You can lock your guns in safes or closets, store them separately from ammunition, or take any other measures necessary to keep them beyond the reach of your children.  Those are all excellent options and will lead to you having a safer home for your kids and your guns.  However, “out of sight” doesn’t always mean “out of mind.”  Child-proofing your guns is a good thing and you should absolutely do that, but, when coupled with counter-meddling measures, gun-proofing your children is far more effective than any lock and key alone.

If you’re at all like me, curiosity can consume you – whether it be for an hour or a matter of months or years.  I read, I watch videos, I listen to various commentary, and if it’s something I can physically get my hands on – like a new gun – then I think about that thing until my curiosity, and ultimately my interest, is satisfied.  Currently, the possible release of a new NCAA Football video game has me all in a tizzy – but I digress.  If adults can become consumed by curiosity, just imagine what a powerful force curiosity is for a child or teenager.  If we’re honest with ourselves, we don’t have to imagine it – we can simply remember – even though as adults it’s unflattering to admit we ever acted like children.

Whether you own a single gun, an arsenal of weaponry, or no gun at all – I believe you should limit your children’s curiosity by exposing them to guns, and, more importantly, to the responsibilities associated with gun ownership and gun handling.  If you’re not a gun owner, you’re probably not worried about your kids encountering a gun in your home – but what about their friends’ homes?  You can’t control the safety practices of other people, and your kids need to know how to avoid danger when you’re not around.  

Start early in your child’s life with age-appropriate lessons and interactions.  For example, when my daughter was a toddler and a case of ammunition would arrive at our door, she’d help me transfer the freedom seeds from the original packaging into an ammo can.  She was downright eager to dump 1,000-2,000 bullets from one container to another – 50 rounds at a time.  While we worked, we talked, and she began committing my lessons to memory.  I have the most amazing video of my then 4-year-old daughter sitting in front of a disassembled AK-47, saying “We clean the Kalashnikov!” when I asked her “What do we do during quarantine?”  Brings a tear of joy to my eye every time.

You know your own children and their maturity levels.  It’s up to you as a parent to determine, based on their capacity to learn and ability to behave, what they are and are not capable of doing.  What you might not realize, or may choose to ignore, are areas where you are deficient.  I can tell by watching someone lift a gun off of a table if they’re an amateur or an experienced practitioner of gun safety.  Your children cannot.  When you come home from hunting, how do you carry your rifle when you stroll through the house?  Do you put your duck gun in the cab of your truck muzzle first with your child already seated inside?

Kids don’t always listen, but they ALWAYS watch.  Are you setting for them an example that will keep them safe or one that might cause them harm?  When paraphrasing Proverbs 22:6, Charles Spurgeon said, “Train up a child in the way he should go – but be sure you go that way yourself.”  If you’re unsure about the gun safety example you’re setting, refer to the only legitimate litmus test available – the four universal firearm safety rules.  Are you adhering to them AT ALL TIMES, or just when it’s convenient?  In case you’re unfamiliar with these rules, I’ve included them at the end of the article.

Some common BS excuses following an unintended shooting are “I was cleaning it.”  “I thought it was unloaded.”  “I didn’t see them there.”  Or my newest favorite – “So, you never pulled the trigger?” “No, no, no, no, no!”  “I would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger at them.”  If someone tries to feed you one of these lines when explaining how something or someone was wrongfully shot, you can bet your sweet ass they’re trying to avoid humiliation or criminal / civil liability.  Please understand that the term “accidental discharge” or “A-D,” is a complete fallacy.  Any time a gun goes off, it’s either intentional or negligent – there is no gray area.  If you have a negligent discharge, you are responsible for the consequences.  If your minor child has an “N-D,” you are responsible for that too.  

In order to gun-proof your kids, you have to be squared away.  You have to teach them early and often, and you have to be the example.  If you don’t teach them, someone else will.  They’ll learn from some other kid, a video game, or a movie.  When it comes to the safety of your children, who do you trust most?  Yourself, I’m sure.  Are you worthy of your own trust, or do you need to be better?  Don’t deceive yourself answering that question – it could be the difference between life and death.  So, arm your kids – not with guns, but with knowledge – so that when they find their way to a gun (or vice versa) they won’t become a statistic.  Someday, they’ll be a shining example for their own children because you instilled an enduring sense of safety and responsibility.

Consider this – do your children see you handling guns properly or do they just see you handling guns?  

Avoid what you can.  Defeat what you can’t.

-Ryan 

Please submit your questions to Ryan via email at Ryan@9and1tactical.com

(Ryan Barnette is not a licensed attorney or a medical provider, and no information provided in “Slicing the Pie,” or any other publication authored by Ryan Barnette should be construed, in any way, as official legal or medical advice.)

  1. Treat all guns as if they’re always loaded.
  2. Never point a gun at anything unless you’re willing to destroy that thing.
  3. Know you’re target and what’s beyond it.
  4. Keep your finger off the trigger, until your sights are on the target, and you’ve made the decision to fire.


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Two Webster Parish educators to counsel new teachers as part of statewide initiative

Lakeside Jr./Sr. High School English Teacher Josh Beavers and Minden High School English Teacher John Dillon were selected to be part of a new statewide initiative to help new teachers with issues they may face in the classroom. The New Teacher Experience is a pilot program in Louisiana that has a goal to retain teachers.

“The state saw the need that basically a lot of the support that they need … They don’t know how to handle a classroom as far as what to do in their curriculum,” said Josh Beavers. “They have issues, and administrators are extraordinarily busy with all of the things they have to do. Other teachers are very, very busy. They have their grading. They have their home life, so some teachers are just left in the wilderness.”

“When you start off, you take everything personally. Everything the kids do or say that’s disruptive, that’s insulting,” said John Dillon. “You start to realize all the problems the kids live with and deal with, sometimes on a day-to-day basis. Then, you realize that if you were made to do this job, you’re going to change who you are, change how you approach the kids and change how you approach everything in the classroom.”

Teachers who were interested in becoming mentors had to apply with the state. They were selected to take part in this pilot program. 

The inaugural group consists of about two dozen veteran teachers from all over Louisiana. Each teacher will work with a number of new teachers each month. The group will hold virtual meetings, so they can all share their experiences and solutions to cope with challenges. The first meetings will be held this month.

Louisiana education leaders hope that this program will help build the confidence in new teachers and improve their students’ achievements. The program is also designed to retain new teachers, so they do not leave after just a few years in the classroom. 

For more information on the state’s New Teacher Experience program, visit louisianabelieves.com/academics/new-teacher-experience.


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Forgiveness means love

Last night, well every night really, was a struggle getting my 4-year-old to bed at a decent hour. Like most kids her age they will do about anything to avoid laying their heads down on the pillow because they know more than likely that as soon as they do, they will be out within minutes.  

Our usual nighttime routine consists of supper, baths, reading our daily devotions, saying our prayers, then hugs and kisses of course. But that all is usually followed by: needing to get up to use the restroom even though she just went, a drink of water, picking out just the right stuffed animal to sleep with and then a lengthy line of questions and stories from the day that she just miraculously happened to remember at exactly 8:59 p.m. 

Last night one of her stories was about how a kid in her class accidentally spilled milk on her during lunch and she needed to bring extra clothes to school in case it happens again. I nodded and said, “Okay, no problem. Goodnight. I love you.” 

She then proceeds to tell me, “It needs to be weather appropriate.” 

I could not help but giggle listening to such a big word come out of her mouth, but all right, weather appropriate. Again, not a problem. I assumed she had heard her teacher say this or that her teacher told her to remind me to send extra clothes, but I asked her anyway.  

She said, “Oh, I just know everything.” 

This is how she gets away with staying up past her bedtime because I am amused and invested at this point.  

So, I began to ask her the meaning of some of my favorite really big words. According to Ashton Elaine preposterous means “really good book.” Instantaneous means “everything is a bird.” Transcendent means “that you are really hungry.” Disillusioned means “that you made a mistake” and quintessential means that “the ceiling fan is going too fast.” 

For some reason as I was coming to the end of my list of words, the word “forgiveness” just popped into my head. So, I asked her what she thought that “forgiveness” means.  

Her response was, “Forgiveness means that you love someone.”  

For once in my life, I was speechless. I still really cannot even put into words exactly how I felt at that moment. Just…wow.  

She may have gotten the meaning of every other single word that I mentioned incorrect, but she really hit the nail on the head with that last one. She may even have had a better understanding of the word than I did, come to think of it.  

When I think of the word “forgiveness” I think of letting go of some past resentment, showing mercy to someone who has hurt you or pardoning someone when they have stepped over a line. That may all be true and accurate, but really forgiveness means love.  

Luke 7:47 says, “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” According to this scripture forgiveness is a pathway to love.  

God forgives us because He loves us. It is through His forgiveness that He shows His love for us and teaches us to forgive and love one another.  

When you really dive deep and try to understand the sacrifice Jesus made and how much God must love us, to forgive us of our sins so that we may spend eternity in Heaven with Him, you can see how gracious He is. He expects us as Christians to pay it forward and that is how our faith is illustrated – in the way we forgive others and sometimes in the way we forgive ourselves. 

So yes, forgiveness means that you love someone.  

Another lesson for me provided by the perspicacious (that means insightful) Ashton Elaine.

(Paige Nash is a wife, mom who knows some really big words, digital journalist for Webster Parish Journal and publisher of Bienville Parish Journal.)


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Nominations open for Man of the Year

Deadline for nominating outstanding man for Minden Man of the Year Award are open between now and 11:59 p.m. Feb. 22, 2023.

Don’t let service and dedication to our community go unrecognized. Nominate an outstanding man for the Minden Man of the Year Award, sponsored by the Minden Lions Club. The winner will be announced during the Chamber Awards Gala on March 28, 2023. 

Click here to nominate someone! https://tinyurl.com/yad48hna


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Historically Speaking: Long Springs

Long Springs

By Jessica Gorman

Located north of Minden, west of Dorcheat Road, Long Springs was named for Joseph Davis Long who moved his family from Virginia to Louisiana in the late 1830s. They made their home near the sulphur springs that became a popular destination even before the existence of the hotel. It was after the deaths of both Mr. and Mrs. Long that the hotel, referred to in a local paper as The White House, was built in the early 1880s by a group of investors. The resort remained popular for nearly twenty years before going out of business. It was then purchased by A.L. Cox and became the private residence of the Cox family until it burned in 1927. 

Webster Tribune, 20 September 1883

“Minden is the only town in Louisiana that has a fashionable resort. Long Springs, situated four miles northwest, has properties in its waters that cure everything. It has a large hotel, and a band of music that plays before meals to assist the water in getting up a first-class appetite. The band also plays after meals to assist in digestion.

(Jessica Gorman is the Assistant Director and Archivist for the Dorcheat Historical Association Museum in Minden and is an avid genealogist.)

Long Springs’ Construction


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Spice up your salad

Check out these helpful tips to spice up your next salad!

Try new protein options. Add one of these fun choices:

  • Hard-boiled egg, chopped
  • Beans: kidney, black, or pinto
  • Canned tuna fish (or make tuna cakes)
  • Cooked shrimp or fish
  • Pulled pork 
  • Edamame (vegetable-type soybeans)

Color your plate. Add some color to your creation! Top your salad with these enticing ingredients:

  • Edible flowers
  • Orange slices
  • Dried cranberries
  • Pomegranate arils
  • Corn kernels
  • Red, yellow, or orange bell peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Shredded purple cabbage
  • Olives
  • Roasted red pepper

Kick up the Crunch. Every salad needs a little crunch! Try these additions:

  • Roasted sunflower seeds
  • Almonds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Wonton strips
  • Pita chips
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Tortilla chips
  • Crackers

Dress the Salad. Try or make a new salad dressing that interests you or skip the dressing and use one of these choices instead:

  • Salsa
  • Squeeze a lime, lemon, or orange over your greens
  • Roasted cherry tomatoes (the juices will moisten the salad)
  • Guacamole
  • Hummus

Give it some green. Don’t limit yourself to iceberg lettuce. There are many options when it comes to salad greens. The darker the green, the more nutrients they contain. Build your salad with some of these greens:

  • Kale
  • Butter lettuce
  • Romaine
  • Arugula
  • Spinach
  • Red or green leaf lettuce
  • Watercress
  • Micro greens
  • Mint leaves 

The LSU AgCenter and LSU provide equal opportunities in programs and employment.

(Shakera Williams, M.P.H. is Assistant Nutrition Extension Agent- FCS for Webster/Claiborne parishes. Contact her at (318) 371-1371.)


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UCAP needs week of Jan. 30

United Christian Assistance Program needs the following items:

Food: Cereal, crackers, powdered milk, biscuit mix, cornbread mix

Clothing: Men’s shoes/tennis shoes (9 and larger)

Household goods: towels, twin and queen sheets, pots and pans, plates and bowls

Toiletries: toothpaste, deodorant

Thank you for supporting UCAP!

UCAP is open from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays at 204 Miller Street, Minden, for food, utility and rent assistance. Clothing is dispersed on Wednesdays only.


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Send events to WPJ

Black History Month begins February 1.

Feb. 18

11 a.m. 2023 Martin Luther King/Black History Parade & Youth Rally. Downtown Minden. Parade contests, Battle of the Bands, scholarship winners announced, area vendors.

Will your church or non-profit organization be hosting an event? Email Webster Parish Journal at wpjnewsla@gmail.com, and we will post it in a list of Black History Month programs and events.

Events will run throughout February, but the sooner you send it, the longer and more often it will run and the better the chances of it being seen.

Thank you!


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Weekly Filings

The following civil suits were filed with the Webster Parish Clerk of Court the week of January 20:

Jan. 20

Philip Jake Killgore vs. Valarie Wilson Killgore, divorce w/children.

Jan. 23

Sterling Jewelers Inc. vs. Michael E. Williams, judgment executory & garnishment.

Citibank NA vs. Albert A. Greene, monies due.

Citibank NA vs. Melba D. Vaughan, monies due.

Citibank NA vs. Jamin G. Perkins, monies due.

Jan. 24

Sapphire E. Jones vs. Sean W.E. Jones, custody.


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Upcoming Events

Send non-profit calendar events to wpjnewsla@gmail.com .

Jan. 26

9 a.m. until 2 p.m. LifeShare Blood Center “Extra Ordinary” blood drive at Minden campus of Northwest Louisiana Technical Community College.

5 until 7:15 p.m. Adult Paint Night, Minden Main Branch, Webster Parish Libraries. For more information, call 318-371-3080 ext. 123.

Jan. 31

11:30 a.m. Ribbon Cutting at Women’s Wellness of Minden.

11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Minden Presbyterian Church Bible Study with free lunch. The public is invited to attend.

Feb. 2

10 a.m. Minden Planning Commission, Pelican Room, Minden City Hall. Agenda: request from Webster Land Corporation for preliminary approval of a lot split on property owned by them on Recreation Drive. The public is invited to attend.

Feb. 4

11 a.m. Springhill Main Street Mardi Gras Parade.

5 p.m. Minden Mardi Gras Parade through downtown Minden.

Feb. 11

6 p.m. ArkLaTex Mega Star Search. Poets, rappers, singers, instruments.  Sign up early. Call 318-562-3664.

Feb. 13

W.H.O. of North Webster’s 8th Annual Chili Supper Since 2015, we have had the honor to bless a family every year with proceeds from the sales of chili dinner! W.H.O. Members do everything—sell tickets, make chili, create homemade desserts, and bring right out to your car. This year’s event will benefit Brooke Malone, a dear North Webster mom fighting endometrial cancer. Tickets are available now. Contact any W.H.O. Member to purchase!

6 p.m. Doors open. Piney Woods Jamboree at Frank Anthony Community Activities Center (CAC Building),  301 West Church St., Springhill, La. Show begins at 7 p.m., with Josey Hargis performing. Tickets are $10 per person; $5 for children 5 years to 12 years. Sold at the door.

Feb. 21

11 a.m. Ribbon Cutting at Shields Storage Center.

Feb. 25

8:30 a.m. registration; 9 a.m. until noon lectures for Buds & Blooms 2023, sponsored by Piney Hills Louisiana Master Gardners. First United Methodist Church, 903 Broadway, Minden. Topic: Landscaping for birds. Tickets: $15. All proceeds go to 4-H Youth Gardening Contest and 4-H Scholarships.

March 4

6 p.m. LaMa Bingo, Springhill Civic Center, 101 Machen Dr., Springhill.

March 24

Today is the deadline for vendors to register for 2023 Wings and Wheels Fly-in and Car Show at Minden Airport. Please make all checks payable to Parker Still and mail them to 100 Aviation Drive, Minden, LA 71055. Checks or cash may also be delivered in person to the Minden Airport seven days a week from 8-5. AirRunners Aviation will not be providing chairs so please bring your own. No more than 2 people per booth. Completed Registration forms must be mailed to 100 Aviation Drive, Minden, LA 71055, emailed to airrunnersaviation@yahoo.com, faxed to 318.377.6789, or delivered in person to the Minden Airport no later than March 24.

March 28

Greater Minden Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Gala. Call 377-4240 for more information.

April 1

AirRunners Aviation is seeking vendors to participate in the 2023 Wings and Wheels Fly-in and Car Show at Minden Airport.

April 26

10 a.m. until 6 p.m., Scottish Tartan Festival, Miller Quarters, 198 Gleason St., Minden, La.

• Scottish Highland dancing

• Storytelling, living history exhibitions 

• Food and merchant vendors, including Great Raft beer 

• Traditional music and Celtic Rock 

• Scottish Highland cattle petting area 

• Broadsword demonstrations and Highland Games exhibitions 

• Clan tent exhibits and the March of the Clans 


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Notice of Death – Jan. 25, 2023

Brayden Lee Pruett

Jan. 23, 2023 – Jan. 23, 2023

Springhill, La.

Funeral service: 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023 at Bailey Funeral Home, Springhill, La.

Burial: Springhill Cemetery, Springhill, La., under the direction of Bailey Funeral Home.

Stephanie Sharp Watts

Oct. 24, 1989 – Jan. 21, 2023

Ringgold, La.

Visitation: 1 p .m. until time of service, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, First Baptist Church, Ringgold, La.

Funeral service: 2:30 p.m. following visitation.

Dennis Lamar Davis

Jan. 26, 1964 – Jan. 18, 2023

Springhill, La.

Private family service scheduled for a later date.

Charles “Charlie” Augustus Lee Fields

June 21, 1933 – Jan. 14, 2023

Visitation: 6:30 until 7:30 p.m. Thursday Jan, 26, 2023, Rose-Neath Funeral Home, 2201 Airline Dr., Bossier City, La.

Memorial service: 2 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, 2023, Northwest Louisiana Veterans Cemetery, Keithville, La.

Donald Dean Stillwell

Jan. 13, 1948 – Jan. 19, 2023

Visitation: 10 a.m. until time of service Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023 at Cornerstone Ministries Cowboy Church, 494 Bethel Rd., Logansport, La.

Memorial service: 11 a.m. following visitation.

Webster Parish Journal publishes paid complete obituaries – unlimited words and a photo, as well as unlimited access – $80. Contact your funeral provider or wpjnewsla@gmail.com . Must be paid in advance of publication. (Above death notices are free of charge.)


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For the Kids: An interview with Mrs. Rita Bates

Mrs. Rita Bates takes a photo with a trio of her baseball boys a few years ago. Mrs. Rita is instrumental to the Lakeside baseball program.

By Josh Beavers

Note: This is the second in my new series of stories about people who go above and beyond to help our local schools.

This week: Mrs. Rita Bates of Lakeside baseball

Famed soccer manager Pep Guardiola has a slogan adorning one baby blue wall of his sparse Manchester office in England. It simply states, “Some are born here, some drawn here but we all call it home.”

That’s how Mrs. Rita Bates feels about being a part of the Lakeside baseball team.

“Lakeside is an extension of Sibley High,” Bates told me. “We are family! We work together for the good of the students, and I believe the goal of the adults here is to help our kids be the best they can possibly be.”

Bates attended Sibley in the 1960s and told me she found a report card from her grammar schoolteacher, Mrs. Gladys Shipp, just the other day when she was looking through keepsakes for this article. She’s been married to Jerry Bates for almost 44 years.  “We have/had two sons-Christopher Lee and Jason Neil. Chris was killed in a car wreck in 1994.  Jason has two daughters who went to school at Lakeside, Paige, and Kallie Bates,” she said. “Jason and Jessica, the girl’s mom, also worked closely with the staff at Lakeside.”

While she’s always had Sibley/Lakeside in her heart, what she’s likely best known for is her steadfast commitment to Warrior baseball.

“Jason played baseball, and when he lost interest, I did not,” she said.  “I said I would like to stay, and Coach Bob Gray was a happy coach!  It’s a team effort for the adults to run a successful baseball program, and I like to think we have been successful as an adult team.”

With baseball, she has kept the books, paid the bills, and run the concession stand since 1995.

“I do my best to support the coaches and the players,” she said.  “While being involved in baseball at both schools, I have been a church secretary, worked in medical records for about 15 years, and then went to work at Youth Challenge Program for several years after that.  There were many rewards with the students there. It’s good to see kids want to better themselves and to be able to help them achieve that goal. I’ve been retired for, goodness, probably 10 years.”

So, why do you do what you do, Mrs. Rita?

“I love working with the kids, and hopefully being a positive influence on these players,” she said. “We all need somebody to listen and encourage us, and that’s what I try to do with these guys. ‘Miss Rita’ comes to the rescue with Band-Aids, safety pins for buttons or zippers that broke, even a belt or socks occasionally (don’t tell coach!) and with food and drink!  Seriously, my goal and the reason I am still with Lakeside baseball is to make a difference in their lives, and if I accomplish that with just one player, it’s all worth it. And the kids keep me young at heart!”

I then asked her why she loves the baseball team?

“I think it all goes back to one thing – loving and supporting the kids” she said. “I love the outdoors and I love the sport, but I’m still here because of the kids.  There have been hundreds of kids to come through this program, and even today a lot of them are Facebook friends, and more than that, the guys that have come through here are now working with us as their own kids are playing for Lakeside. I still have guys who are in their 40s talking to ‘Miss Rita’ and sharing their memories of their baseball days.”

And now comes the time when she didn’t know how to proceed. I asked what her favorite memory was, and she said she couldn’t just name one. So go ahead, Mrs. Rita, let’s hear as many as you’d like to share.

Memory 1:

Years ago our first tournament of the season was in Abbeville. We made this trip for several years. This was the end of January-beginning of February.  That trip and those games were so much fun.  I’ve heard many parents, and now players who are parents, say they would love to go back.

Memory 2:

One of the last times, if not the last time, we went to Abbeville, the players and coaches stayed in a duck camp. They were all hyped up-until they saw the camp.  Coach Bob passed it by, not recognizing it for what it was supposed to be and had to go back to it.  It was a rainy weekend, the camp, which if I remember correctly, was some sort of camper, leaked INSIDE so the guys got wet. It was a memorable weekend but not one of their greatest weekends.

Memory 3:

I remember state playoffs the year Jason Mizell and I believe Will Gray graduated.  Jason missed a ball. We lost that game, but Jason came up to Coach and said, “If I had just lifted that one last weight!”

Memory 4:

We had a Chevy mini-van, and we loaded kids up and took off to games.  I told Coach Gray that I didn’t have seat belts for all of them-they were sitting in the floor and really scrunched in together.  Coach said, “If you pack them in tight enough, they won’t need one.”  Those were the days!

Memory 5:

You know how boys’ feet sweat and stink?  Well, yep, we had one with smelly feet.  The guys would be packed into that van and here he would come out of his shoes.  It would take a few minutes, but Jerry Bates would get a whiff of stinky feet. “___________, put your shoes back on.”  And __________ would say, “Yes sir, Mr. Jerry.” (We have blanks for names because I wouldn’t dare throw one of my kids under the bus. But I bet he laughs if he reads this!)

Memory 6:

Lakeside Baseball Field has not always looked like it does today, not by a long shot.  In the winter before our first season, Mr. Pete Brunson, our longest running supporter as far as I know, got busy on the concession stand. Now, Coach Gray had been told to wait a couple of years and the schoolboard would build the concession stand. But coach knew that our concession stand was an integral part of our program.  So, we built the concession stand.  I say we because I was part of that, too.  I don’t know that I did much building, but I was there to do what they needed or asked me to do.  Camaraderie was built during that time, as well as the concession stand, we have now.

Memory 7:

You notice our restrooms aren’t attached to the concession stand.  For the first 3 or 4 years, maybe longer, we didn’t have restrooms.  We had Port-a-Lets.  No, it wasn’t ideal, but it was what we had.  Nobody really likes one of those things, but let’s face it-when you got to go, it’s a good thing to have.  The booster clue paid that bill monthly during the time we had them.  We were proud to see our dressing room/restroom facilities being built.

Memory 8:

We lost one of our biggest, constant fans this month.  The mother of Coach Bob and grandmother of Coach Will left this world to meet Jesus.  “Miss Mary Lane” was at every game, except on Wednesday nights because that was church night if she was able to go.  Home games, or away games, she was there, rooting our guys on and offering encouragement to both the players and the coaches.  “Throw the wiffer” will be forever etched in my mind.

(“For the Kids” is a series of regular feature stories published in the Webster Parish Journal. If you have a recommendation of someone who needs to be recognized for their work with our local school children, please reach out to Josh Beavers either through Facebook or email at joshwbeavers@gmail.com.)

 


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Registration is open for Minden Run for St. Jude

By Tina Montgomery

It’s almost time to lace up your sneakers for a popular fundraising event in support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The 15th annual Minden Run for St. Jude is happening on Saturday, February 11. The 2023 Run will include a 10K, 5K, a Virtual Run (10K or 5K), a Kids’ Half Mile Fun Run, and Sleep in Supporter (entry is for a race sweatshirt only). The Kids’ Fun Run kicks everything off at 8 a.m. 

The 2022 Minden Run raised $98,000 with 1220 runners registered. Over 500 runners have registered so far and there are still many spots open for the 10K and Kids’ Run. A few changes have been made to this year’s run: There will not be a half marathon nor a color run and the Kids’ Fun Run will be a timed half mile.  The race shirt this year is a hoodie sweatshirt.

Race Director Erin Ramsey posted the following on the Facebook: 

“Let’s talk about my favorite part of Minden Run for St. Jude…the Kids’ Fun Run! This is for kids that are 10 and under. Each kid gets a medal at the finish line! It doesn’t get any better than this race. And if you haven’t ever stood near the finish line and watched this…you’ve missed out. Each age will have a first place winner prize. We can’t wait to get these littles up on the podium this year!”

Registration for the race ends at noon February 10, so you still have time to enter. Entry fee for the 10K and 5K races is $45 plus $3.70 sign-up fee. The Kids’ Half Mile Fun Run and the Sleep in Supporter fee is $35 plus $3.10 sign-up fee. Registration for the Virtual Run is now closed. Runners can register online at Minden Run for St. Jude.

So far, the Minden Run for St. Jude has received more than $52,000 in sponsorships. 2023 sponsors include:

Title Sponsor: B1 Bank, Minden Family Medicine Clinic, Merrill Lynch, Wimberly Agency, Sierra Frac Sand LLC, and Fairway Carts

First Place Podium: Minden Family Dental

Second Place Podium and Platinum Sponsor: The Copper Whisk

Platinum Sponsor: Southern Classic Chicken and Querbes & Nelson

Gold Sponsor: Louisiana Bowhunter, Milbar Hydro-Test Inc., Tri-State Vacuum & Rental LLC, Home Federal Bank, and Ted’s Pharmacy

Silver Sponsor: Fluid Disposal and Jan Frye & Associates Century 21

Additional race information can be found at Minden Run for St. Jude . Questions can be emailed to Erin Ramsey at eramsey@maddencontracting.com .


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Webster work release inmate walks off job in Arcadia

By Bonnie Culverhouse

A Webster Parish inmate on work release in Arcadia has been arrested after walking off the job.

Harvey Major reportedly walked away from House of Raeford Farms, a Bienville Parish chicken plant early last week.

Minden Police aided Webster Parish Sheriff’s deputies in re-arresting Major, 48, this time for simple escape. He was found on Marion Street in Minden.

“It took a day, but we found him in some apartments in Minden,” said Sheriff Jason Parker.

Major was arrested around 9 p.m.

“He must have had someone waiting on him with a vehicle,” said Minden Police Chief Jared McIver. “It’s the only way he could’ve gotten back to Minden so quickly.”

Parker said there are around 75 or 80 inmates in the program and 80 to 90 percent of those will benefit from it.

“This one – Major – only had a couple of weeks left on his sentence, but after this, he won’t ever have another chance,” Parker said. “In fact, he will be shipped out; he won’t go back to Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center.

“We try to give the prisoners who meet the criteria the chance to work a job and possibly have a job when they get out prison,” he said.

This information has been provided by a law enforcement agency as public information. Persons named as suspects in a criminal investigation, or arrested and charged with a crime, have not been convicted of any criminal offense and are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.


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‘Tide Killers’ Part 2

Undoubtedly, when you get around your old football-playing buddies and reminisce on the good ol’ glory days, you might recall an opponent that cleaned your clock or put on a show in front of the Tide faithful.  All former athletes take some sort of pride knowing they played against ol’ so-and-so.  I know my wife groans and rolls her eyes when we’re watching football, and I say (for the 57th time), “I played against that guy.”  Like I’m sharing his achievement for making it that far in his football career.  This week we’ll look at those guys – specific “Tide Killers.” 

We’ll highlight some early attention-getters and record-setters and follow with current record holders in each category.  To shake things up a bit, “the first shall be last, and the last shall be first.”

Kickers:  In 1923, “Toots” Womack (Marshall, TX) drilled a 40-yard FG to defeat the Tide 3-0 in the season opener.  Although matched in 1924, 1971, and 1990, “Toots’” 40-yarder would be the standard bearer for 79 years until 2002 when Nick Presley (Neville) blasted a 51-yarder to claim the top spot.  Parkway’s Alex Christ came close by nailing two 47-yard FGs (2009, 2010), but 51 remains unbeaten.

Punters:  Benoit from Shreveport High uncorked a 60-yard punt in 1915.  Then in 1932, “Little” Jay Ambrose (Bossier) blasted a 74-yarder!  Just six years later in 1938, Bob Votieu flipped the field in favor of Opelousas with a whopping 85-yard punt in the State Championship game versus Minden.  It didn’t help his team win the State Championship, but it safely landed for the longest punt against the Tide. 

Special Teams:  In 1923, Mason (Homer), and an unnamed Monroe player in 1927, each returned a punt for a TD for their respective teams, but from undisclosed distances.  (Remember what I said about unreported information?)  However, in 1937, Bossier’s J. Thibodeaux outraced the Tide post-punt from 90 yards out for a Bearkat TD.  That record still stands today.

The first kick-off return TD on record versus the Tide was in 1951 when Jonesboro’s Joe Harveston sliced and diced his way to glory from 85 yards away.  Then in 1955, Wayne Banks (Homer) got as close as one could get from returning the kick-off the full length of the field with a 99-yarder for paydirt.  In 2013, current Buffalo Bill and former Northwood Falcon, Marquez Stevenson, tied Banks’ long kick return TD of 99 yards in a 67-34 drubbing of the Tide.  A 100-yard kick-off return is technically possible if the returner is standing 1” from the goal line, but it may still be scored as a 99-yarder due to any part of the ball or returner crosses the goal line, it’s ruled a touchback. 

However, that rule doesn’t apply to interception (INT) returns.  The rarer INT return TD against Minden first occurred in 1922 with Murphey (Marshall, TX) phoning home from 50 yards away.  That record distance was pushed several times over the next several decades but was officially pushed to the limit in 1970 when another Northwood Falcon, Larry Griffin, tested his 100-yard dash time after snagging an errant Minden pass.  Huntington’s Cecil Tuiel duplicated the feat in 1993 aiding his Raiders to a season-opening shutout of the Tide.  

Sticking with INTs, Joe “Polly” Phelps from Shreveport High was the first Tide foe to swipe two INTs in a game in 1924.  Seventy-four Minden adversaries have accomplished this same task, but only seven have intercepted three in a game.  The earliest to do so was Monroe’s Godwin in 1928.  However, it wouldn’t be until 1981 that that number was repeated by yet another Neville Tiger, Johnny Ray Ambrose.  Comedy comes in threes, folks.  The most recent to have 3 INTs versus the Tide is Myron Elam in 2020… from Neville.    

Receiving:  Monroe High’s Sawyer was the first to log two receiving TDs in 1926.  This record would only stand two years after another Monroe Tiger, Buddy Maxwell, grabbed three TDs.  However, two players have received four TDs versus the Tide – Malcom Williams (Northwood – 2013) and Donovan Thomas (Bolton – 2014).  Donovan Thomas also has the second-most receiving yards in a game with 216.  Thomas is second to Former New York Giant and Wossman Wildcat, Odessa Turner, who put on a show at The Pit snatching 248 yards and two TDs on just 9 catches in 1981.  

Two North DeSoto Griffins hold the top spots for longest opposing receiving TDs.  Kyler Radford hit Damien Boone for a 98-yard TD pass in 2013, then Jaden Procell synced up with Delmonte Hall for one yard more in 2016.  

Rushing:  The Stamps, AR crew did their share of “stamping” in 1926 with initial record-setting long TD runs by Huffman (60-yds) and Wells (70-yds) en route to a 21-0 shutout of the “Greenies”.  The longest TD run against Minden was set in 1964 by Jim West (Airline) when he ran 98 yards towards daylight.  

A pair of Byrd backs solidified their place in the Minden record book when Joe Almokary (1928) and Lee Stokes (1931) set the high-water mark for rushing TDs in a game with five.  Since then, five other opposing running backs have matched that mark – the most recent being Leesville Wompus Kat, Caleb Galleshaw in 2021.  

George Hubbard from Ruston had the earliest dominant rushing attack against the Tide with 250 yards in 1929.  West Ouachita’s Mark Henderson matched the 250-spot, in 1996, but the rushing record wouldn’t be broken until a Covid-induced impromptu matchup with Cedar Creek in 2020 when Bryson Fields ran roughshod over the Tide D with 288 yards.  

This fun fact has nothing to do with dominant performances, but the running back group dominates the nickname game: “Bootsy” Watson (Menard, 1957), “Jabbo” Stell (Byrd, 1934), “Lefty” Leonardos (Fair Park, 1942), Don “Moon” Mullins (Fair Park, 1955), Gene “Red” Knight (Bossier, 1942), and Erick “The Red” Kilpatrick (Airline, 1966)

Passing:  The aforementioned, George Hubbard (Ruston), found his way into the Minden record books in the passing department as well.  Completing only nine passes, Hubbard managed to set the early record for passing yards with 300.  This all happened in the same game he set the record for rushing yards. Hubbard had the most dominant performance ever recorded against the “Greenies” or Crimson Tide:  650 total yards and 6 TDs.  

Hubbard’s passing record would stand until 2001 when Gary Cooper (BTW) slung it for 345 yards.  Of course, in the era of pass-happy offenses, the numbers kept climbing: 355 – Jerrick Peterson (Northwood, 2013), 370 – Regginald Williams (Bolton, 2014), and 403 – Logan DuBois (Tioga, 2015).    DuBois also set the record for most pass attempts in his 403-yard performance (58). 

Just when you think 403 could never be touched, it got demolished this past 2022 season.  Huntington’s Kamron Evans put on a passing masterclass with 491 yards and SEVEN passing TDs!  He only threw two incompletions in the effort.  Until Evans’s seven, five passing TDs was the previous record with five players sharing it.  

Based on both installments of the “Tide Killers”, I’d have to say the Neville Tigers hold the heavyweight title.   

Mercy, this one was long.  But sometimes those classic beatdowns seem they will never end.  So, I guess the length of this article was appropriate.  This concludes this season’s “For the Love of the Tide” segment.  I’ll see you closer to kickoff next season.  ROLL TIDE ROLL!

Historical Footnotes:  Monroe High = Neville High; Shreveport High = Byrd High.  If only a player’s last name was mentioned above, it was because that was all that was originally reported.  Also, Minden’s mascot was the Greenbacks (Greenies) until 1934.

 (Jake Chapman works with Mark Chreene on Friday nights in the fall to bring you the Minden High Crimson Tide games over the air on KASO/KBEF Radio.)

   


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Seeker Springs ministry founder speaks to Lions

Guest speaker for Thursday’s noon meeting of the Minden Lions Club will be Terry Slawson, founder/director of Ministry Development at Seeker Springs Ministry in Okaloosa, La.

Terry was serving as a youth minister in 1996 when he began to feel God was calling him to a different ministry. He saw a need to go deeper into the lives of those he served and minister not just to youth, but also to their families. On Sept. 10, 1996, after a period of seeking the Lord, he realized that the Lord was calling him to begin a ministry at the old Okaloosa Baptist Encampment. He shared this revelation with his family and several people at the church where he was serving, and there was confirmation after confirmation that this was the right direction.

The Northeast Baptist Association owned the property at the time but wanted to sell it to a church or a group of churches so that the ministry could be rekindled after being shut down for several years. Many people in the community caught the vision and gave generously to purchase the property. In January 1997, the property was purchased and dedicated to the Lord. 

The name Seeker Springs comes from Isaiah 55:1 & 6: “Come all you who are thirsty, come to the waters. Seek the Lord while He may be found, call on Him while He is still near.” It is named Seeker Springs “Ministry” because it was believed that the Lord would use it for more than a rental facility. Since the beginning this has proven true and Seeker Springs has continued to strive to use the tools God has given them to meet the needs of the community.


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Out with the ‘in’ crowd

“Sir, I’m sorry, but we don’t have you in our computer.”  

Can you hear worse news? 

You can — “Sorry, we’re out of bacon” — but it’s a short list.  

Such was the case this week when my friend Shine Broussard called a government entity about something governmental. 

“We don’t have you in our computer,” he was told. Cold words to hear in person, colder over the telephone. 

“Now I’m out here with the gnashing teeth bunch, out here where the sun doesn’t shine,” Shine told me. “No program. No starting lineups. No jersey numbers. ‘Not in our computer.’ I’m on an island with the lepers.”  

If you’re ‘not in our computer,’ you are a non-person, is what you are. These days, you have to be in the computer. In a lot of computers, actually. You might be in your dentist’s computer, which is good when a molar won’t behave, but being in your dentist’s computer won’t help you a lick if a kidney wants to opt out of his contract and become a free agent. Then you’d better be in your urologist’s computer. Now. Today.  

There was a time when you didn’t need to be “in our computer.” There was a time when people knew your voice on the telephone, or trusted to some extent that you were who you said you were. Those days vaporized with vaudeville.  

Then you had to be “in our files.” A lot of trees died for those files. If you wanted a Social Security check or a driver’s license renewal or a copy of your transcript, you had to be in the files.  

Now the files are “in our computer.” You are in our files and in our system if you are in our computer. And if our computer says you aren’t in there, well, you can’t argue with our computer. Forget that a computer is only as smart as its programmer, as energetic as its power source and as efficient as the person who typed you “in” to start with. 

It’s the computer, bud. Don’t argue with it. You might as well try to win a spat with Aunt Ethel about how to cook greens or shell peas or do the jitterbug or read your Bible. Good luck with that!  

So if you’re not In The Computer, you’re out of the loop. In a fix. Up a creek. Down the river. Out of luck. In a jam. Between a rock and a hard place. Out of the picture. Off the radar. 

“Sir, I’m sorry, but we don’t have you in our computer.” (That’s just one frantic, lonely step removed from the hazy “I’m sorry, but our system’s down” No-Man’s Land. If the system’s down, you might as well call in the general and tinkle on the fire because the game, my dear friend, is over.) 

I can imagine the computer people talking on their break. “Some poor guy called and wasn’t in the computer. I mean, come on! Idiot…Haha. Hahahahaha….!” 

Makes you jealous of people who are “in.” Things are easier for the in’s among us. But how did they get in, anyway? Being “not in” makes you feel like those people Hunter S. Thompson wrote about in the Gonzo Papers, people who chase something they’ll never so much as sniff. Missing. Back-ordered. No teng .Vaya con dios. Seeya! 

But do you really want to pay the price for ins-manship? First-born child? Life savings? Moe Bandy record collection? What do I have to give up? And here’s a question: What if you get in and you can’t get OUT? There’s you a pickle. 

Such are modern times. All the more reason to hope that when I meet St. Peter, I’m in the computer and the system’s not down. 

(Originally ran August of 2010, when all 

the computers seemed hot and angry … ) 

Contact Teddy at teddy@latech.edu 


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Passengers encouraged to speak up during National Passenger Safety Week

January 22-28, 2023, is National Passenger Safety Week. In 2019, vehicle passengers made up 62% of traffic fatalities nationwide according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. By empowering passengers to speak up for their safety when in a dangerous driving situation, we can reduce this number. Louisiana State Police and Destination Zero Deaths are working together to provide passengers with tools to make the roadways safer. Use these tips below to get the conversation started:

1)    Seat Belt Safety: Passengers can help ensure all occupants are properly restrained inside the vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported unrestrained rear seat passengers are two times more likely to be killed in a traffic crash. By confirming all occupants in the vehicle are buckled up, passengers can help keep everyone in the vehicle safe. Seatbelts should be used by front and back seat occupants no matter the time of day or distance of the journey.    

2)    Distracted Driving: Sometimes a break in conversation is the best way to be helpful to a driver. Although a driver may be looking at the roadway, listening and replying to a conversation can be a distraction. By limiting conversations, a passenger can help a driver fully concentrate on the roadway ahead. Passengers can also help reduce driver distractions by managing the radio or navigation systems and encouraging the driver to not use their phone.

3)    Extra Set of Eyes: Passengers can be an extra set of eyes for a driver to help everyone get to their destination safely. By scanning the roadway for potential hazards, passengers can help alert a driver to something they may have not seen.

4)    Speak Up: If a driver is partaking in risky behavior behind the wheel, passengers should not be hesitant to speak up. If a driver continues once the behavior is brought to their attention, passengers should make the choice to not ride with that person. No one should ever get into a vehicle with an impaired driver.

Passengers have the power to promote safe driving practices and to prevent unsafe ones by speaking up when their lives are in danger due to a reckless driver. By encouraging safe, focused, and sober driving, we can all work together to make Louisiana roadways a safer place to travel.


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It’s a tough job but somebody’s got to chew it

“A party without cake is just a meeting” –Julia Child

It started as a whim. It ended as a quest. A quest that probably added five percent to my total body mass index, an inch to my waistline, and almost put me in a diabetic coma. But it’s what I do. I eat for a living. When it comes to king cake, I took one for the home team.

We are a few weeks away from opening a bakery in Hattiesburg. It’s a project I’ve been working on for six years. It typically doesn’t take six years to develop a new concept, but I spent five and a half of those years begging pastry chef, and James Beard Award winner, Martha Foose, and her baker husband, Donald Bender, to move from the Delta down to my hometown of Hattiesburg to head up what will soon be known as Loblolly Bakery.

Foose and Bender have finally pulled up longstanding roots in the Mississippi Delta and are now firmly ensconced in the Pine Belt of South Mississippi and ready to start baking. They’ve traded the rich Delta soil for the taproot of Loblolly Pine.

We have been developing menus, laying out kitchen equipment, and battling with city planners, which has pushed us back from our December 2022 target opening date. We hoped to be neck deep in king cake sales at this point of the game, but fate pushed our target date a little farther down the road.

Nevertheless, Foose and Bender are baking trial-run king cakes and when we feel we’re ready we’ll start selling them out of our Creole concept Crescent City Grill. In the meantime, I wanted to grab a few king cakes in New Orleans to bring back as examples and to jump start the creative process. Seriously, that’s how it started. A simple task. I was just going to grab a couple of king cakes. But, as my wife often accuses, I overdid it, took it too far, chose excess over austerity and 32 king cakes later, I sit here writing this column with a sugar hangover of the first order.

I’m not sure when it switched from grabbing a couple king cakes, to sampling a several king cakes, to all-out competition of who makes the best king cake in New Orleans, but it did. It probably had something to do with the popularity of the much-lauded New Orleans East mainstay Dong Phoung Bakery, the feverish love and adoration poured out for their king cakes— and the frustration that came from trying to get my hands on one of them— that led me to buy as many king cakes as I could in one day to see if the Dong Phoung product lived up to the hype. Though there’s a slight chance that the entire exercise morphed into a mission to prove the masses wrong.

A few weeks ago I called the Dong Phoung Bakery to place an order for a couple of king cakes but was told they were sold out for the season. Not for the day, or the week, or even the month, but they had sold out every king cake they had made and were going to make this year in advance, before Twelfth Night! I am told that Goldbelly had them marked as sold out as early as October. That hardened my resolve. While talking to Justin Ferguson, our executive chef at Enzo in Ridgeland, he told me that Dong Phoung delivers to a handful of small stores in the area, and that the Adams Street Grocery was one of them.

I called Adams Street and was told that they get a Dong Phoung delivery five days a week. But that the cakes go quickly so I should get there early. I drove down from Hattiesburg last week and didn’t get there early enough.

This past weekend I decided to sample 30 king cakes to find the best king cake in New Orleans. My job was made easier by a place called the King Cake Hub. It’s a brilliant idea in its fourth year. King Cake Hub is a seasonal pop-up set up in a craft beer brewery that sells over two dozen varieties of king cakes by 15 local bakeries who deliver to that location every morning. It’s like a roadside fireworks stand for king cake.

I arrived at the King Cake Hub 30 minutes early and was third in line. By the time they opened the line stretched down the sidewalk past the beer garden. I had a list already prepared and asked a nice lady named Rachel to help me knock the list of 20 cakes, which we did in a matter of minutes. She also gave some “You want this one instead of that” advice along the way. After loading the backseat of my truck with the initial load I headed to Adams Street Grocery to wait in line for the elusive great white whale of king cakes— the Dong Phoung.

I passed Laurel Street Bakery on the way and popped in for one of their cakes.

I arrived at the tiny Adams Street Grocery 30 minutes before opening and was fourth in line. There is a certain comradery that develops between people standing in line in a light drizzle waiting for king cakes. It’s akin to being at a sperm bank— everyone is a little embarred about why they are there and what’s about to happen, but after all everyone is there for the same reason. There is also a nervous energy that is almost palpable the farther one is back in the line as the farther back one is, the less chance he or she will have to score the ultimate Mardi Gras score, a Dong Phong king cake.

There were more than 20 in line when the door opened and it was almost like the Soup Nazi episode of Seinfeld as we all proceeded, in a straight line— and with great reverence and caution— to the register. They had four varieties of Dong Phoung king cake behind the counter but were only allowing two per customer. The owner was gracious, and nothing like the Seinfeld character. I tried to pull the I-drove-all-of-the-way-from-Hattiesburg plea to see if I could get more than two, but my appeal fell flat and I didn’t want to upset the cream-cheese filled apple cart, so I paid my tab and considered myself fortunate to have scored two of the most sought-after, holy grail, toppermost of the poppermost king cakes to be found. But how could they ever live up to the prebilling?

I stopped by a few other bakeries in town and even drove over to the West Bank where I met Hope Liberto, a wonderful lady who owns Bae’s Bakery in Gretna and stopped by Antoine’s Bakery for one of their much-lauded king cakes. My truck smelled like a candy factory all the way home to Hattiesburg.

Which of the 32 king cakes would win the day? The list of king cakes, the results of the tasting, and the video accounts of the process can all be found on my social media accounts and at robertstjohn.com.

It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to chew it.

Onward.

KING CAKE BREAD PUDDING

2 cups milk

2 cups heavy whipping cream

3/4 cup sugar, divided

4 egg yolks

8 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

1/8 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 8-10” round cream cheese filled King Cake

Place the milk, cream and half of the sugar in a small sauce pot and place over medium heat. Bring this mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent the sugar from burning. While the milk mixture is heating, place the remaining sugar, egg yolks, whole eggs, vanilla and salt into a stainless-steel mixing bowl. Using a wire whisk, beat the egg mixture until it become light yellow in color. Slowly begin adding the hot milk to the beaten eggs, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from cooking.

Cut the King Cake into two-inch thick slices.

Pour half of the custard into a two-quart round Pyrex baking dish (nine-inch diameter).

Submerge the King cake slices into the custard. Pour the remaining custard over the top and cover the baking dish. Cover and refrigerate over night.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Remove the covering from the refrigerated bread pudding and gently press down the King Cake so that the custard completely covers the surface. Cover the bread pudding with a piece of parchment paper, and then cover the paper with a piece of aluminum foil.

In a roasting pan large enough to hold the Pyrex dish, place two inches of hot water. Place the Pyrex dish in the water and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and parchment paper and bake for 10 additional minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow the pudding to rest for one hour before serving.

Serve with Brandy Crème Anglaise

Yields 8-10 servings

Brandy Crème Anglaise

1cup cream

1/2 cup half and half

1/4 cup brandy

3/4 cup sugar, divided

4 egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla extract

In a stainless steel pot bring the cream, half and half, brandy, half of the sugar and to vanilla a simmer. While it is heating, combine the yolks and remaining sugar in a mixing bowl and whip until pale yellow in color.

Slowly begin adding the cream mixture into to yolks, stirring constantly until all the milk has cream mixture has been added. Pour the mixture back into the sauce pot and cook over a low-medium flame stirring constantly. Cook until the mixture becomes thick enough to coat a spoon or spatula.

Remove from the heat and cool down in an ice bath.

This sauce may be made two-three days in advance.

Yields : 8-10 servings

(Robert St. John is a chef, restaurateur and published cookbook author who lives in Hattiesburg, Miss.)


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Please send events

Black History Month begins February 1.

Feb. 18

11 a.m. 2023 Martin Luther King/Black History Parade & Youth Rally. Downtown Minden. Parade contests, Battle of the Bands, scholarship winners announced, area vendors.

Will your church or non-profit organization be hosting an event? Email Webster Parish Journal at wpjnewsla@gmail.com, and we will post it in a list of Black History Month programs and events.

Events will run throughout February, but the sooner you send it, the longer and more often it will run and the better the chances of it being seen.

Thank you!


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