New ordinance will help fill vacant buildings

By Bonnie Culverhouse

As part of his job, Economic Development Director Phillip Smart works to bring new businesses to town, but while he is concerned about property for new construction,  he is also concerned with the many vacant buildings here.

“We have people with downtown structures that are vacant,” Smart said. “I don’t even know off the top of my head how many there are. The owners don’t want to sell them; they don’t want to lease them. They just sit there.”

So in order to move things along, Smart has created a Vacant Structure Ordinance, which he presented to the mayor and four members of the Minden City Council during an agenda workshop Friday.

“If you have a vacant structure and you’re not doing anything with it, within six months if it’s still vacant, you have to file it with the city and notify them that you have a vacant structure,” Smart said. “You have to have an overall projection of what you are going to do within the next six months.”

Whether the owner inherited from a death in the family and doesn’t yet know what will become of the property, or if they plan to renovate it to lease or sell, the owner will be required to let the city know, he said.

“Basically, it lets us put it on a list that says, ‘OK, this is available,’” Smart said. “Whether it’s for sale or for lease, you tell us all the information. Who it’s listed with, project manager or property manner. So, we have that contact information.”

The owner must also prove insurance on the property – a liability policy, he said, for safety’s sake.

After the six-month period, if the property isn’t sold or rented, a penalty will be assessed.

“And if it’s not marketed at fair value, you have to pay a penalty,” he said. “Fair market value is determined from the City of Minden, Webster Parish Assessor and the property owner.”

Rental works the same way.

“If it’s over the rental square-foot amount, you will be penalized,” he said.

The concern over vacant buildings includes more than just downtown Minden, as there are darkened doors on Homer Road and other parts of town.

“If it’s zoned business or commercial, it is part of it (proposed ordinance),” Smart said.

And in an effort to bring more pride to the business community, Smart said the buildings cannot have plywood on the windows.

“If you do, you can only have it for 30 days or you’re penalized,” he said.

Smart cited two businesses that recently wanted to lease buildings downtown, and rent was so high or the property owner didn’t want to lease or sell it, neither business owner could relocate to Minden.

District A Councilman Wayne Edwards expressed concern about the extensiveness of the proposed ordinance.

“What do you think will be the position of the people who own buildings downtown?” Edwards asked Smart during the workshop. “This (ordinance) is pretty extensive on what has to be done. It’s going to force people to sell their buildings. Is this what we want?”

Smart replied the hope is that owners will upgrade or sell their buildings, so they will no longer be vacant, overgrown and boarded.

Edwards agreed with a proposal by District E Councilwoman Pam Bloxom that would mean hosting a town hall meeting that will include all business owners – those present and the ones that do not live in town, so the ordinance can be explained in full to all.

A date and time have not yet been set.

Minden All-Star teams win big in weekend tourneys

By Josh Beavers

All-Star teams were in action over the weekend, and Minden squads did well in competition.

The Pony Tails took first place in the district tournament over the weekend in Ruston.

Lila Huddleston, Izzy McMillon, and Sariyah Gill were lights out for the Pony Tails during the competition. Addison Chandler, Ameila Lott, Kynzie Smith, and Lainey Gates were also dynamic for the team in winning the competition.

Coach Cody James said the girls were looking forward to state action, but he wanted to make a special comment about three girls. Aynslea Maus, Tatum Oliver, and Gracen Sparks were all told they were too old to play in the all-stars competition just a couple of days before play began. Instead of sulking, the girls were on hand all tournament long and provided moral support for the girls playing.

“They were the biggest supporters you could ask for,” James told the Journal.


The 11 and under boys team, skippered by Chris Williams, took the runner-up spot in the tournament this past weekend.

“We only were able to practice together for about two weeks,” Williams told the Journal Monday morning. “I’ve never seen more ‘fight back’ in a team I’ve coached.”

Williams said there are some small things to fix during practice, but the team has a great chance to gel and challenge at the state level.

The team defeated Bossier 6-5 on the strength of awesome play by Chris Whitehead, Tristan Grigsby, Kaleb Rolen, Hayden Williams and Colton Jellum. Whether it was timely hits or power on the pitcher’s mound, the Minden team powered its way to a place in the state tournament later this summer.

Against Shreveport, the team had several standouts including Bryson Finley and Riley Lott in addition to other players. Jake Ogelsby and Luke Stanford provide key offense and defense as well as Peyton Campbell.

The state tournament is July 9-11 in Tioga.


The Sweetees took second place in the weekend tournament and will play July 9 in the state tournament set for Alexandria.

Laikyn Lewis had an inside-the-park home run that scored two runs. Other big performers for the Sweetees included Lexie Perryman, Aubrey Chandler, Laikyn Hollingsworth, Harper Barnette and Marley Bogues.


The 7 and under all-stars will play in the Haughton tournament in July following a strong showing over the weekend.

Players who made an impact include Grayson Crawford, Jamison Russell, Beau Monday, Warren Johnson, Gavin and Gunner Sparks and Rendrick McClendon.

“They all did a great job and got good hits,” Coach Justin Crawford told the Journal. “I could lose 100 games and be happy so long as I had the hard work that those players gave this weekend.

PHOTO CAPTION: The 11 and under all-stars were one of several Minden teams to do well over the weekend.

Register now for July 10 ACT Practice Event

Webster Parish Libraries will host an ACT Practice Event on July 10 from 10 AM – 2:30 PM. Students will have the opportunity to take a full-length ACT practice test online with one of our popular databases Homework Louisiana along with test-taking tips. The test will mimic a real testing environment in that it will be timed as if students were taking the actual test. Once the test results are submitted, students get an instant score and review results showing how close they came to reaching their target scores.

Students are encouraged to take advantage of this free resource before their big test day.
*Seating is limited, so please call (318) 371-3080 or stop by the library to register! *
Lunch, snacks, and drinks are provided to students taking the test!

Female head coaches at Lakeside setting a trend

By Josh Beavers

Hidden down on the south end of the parish is an athletic gem carved out of the Piney Woods. It’s Lakeside, a small school that is home to something unique in local school sports. There are four separate teams helmed by female head coaches. That’s a remarkable achievement at any level much less a school with a high school enrollment of less than 300.

The Journal will publish a pair of Q&A stories this summer posing questions to these women about the importance of sports programs and the unique difference between a male coach and a female coach when it comes to mentoring young women in athletic competitions.

First up is LHS softball coach Roo Johnson and junior high softball coach Emily Maness.

The Journal: What made you want to coach at Lakeside?

Johnson: The family atmosphere and the competitive spirit from faculty and administration. The opportunity to continue mentoring female athletes to reach their full potential.

Maness: I honestly love the kids the most. I know we have some of the best kids in Webster Parish, and I love seeing their love and drive for sports and education. I have also created some of the best memories with kids from Lakeside.

The Journal: What is your hope for the athletic programs in the future?

Johnson: My hope is to continue to build from a strong program and develop talent and grow young women into strong, confident, successful women, while trying to compete for a state title.

Maness: My hope for the athletic programs is that we continue to grow and become better each year. I also hope that we learn to evolve each year and not think that we have to keep doing the same things over and over.

The Journal: Lakeside is unique in the fact you are a small school but have several female coaches. Do you think female athletes relate better to you than they would a male coach? Why?

Johnson: I love the uniqueness of Lakeside with the small size. It makes it feel like a family. I think that it’s important for any young female or male to have strong role models. I’m excited for my young boys to have strong male role models at Lakeside, as I am sure parents can be excited to have strong female role models for their daughters’ lives. Whether we are coaches or teachers, it’s a blessing to have so many wonderful individuals for our youth to look up to.

Maness: I believe that female athletes relate better to me than they do a male coach because I understand what it’s like to be in their position. I know what it’s like to be a female athlete, so I can understand some of their needs more than a male coach can. I can relate to them more.

The Journal: Why do you love coaching in general? What made you want to become a coach?

Johnson: I love coaching because I love watching a kid struggle at something and keep striving to focus on the process and eventually have success. To see the pride and confidence gained in a young person when they complete a task that they once weren’t able to do is so amazing. It is what fuels me. I have always loved building relationships with kids and families. I have lasting friendships from coaching. And what made me want to be a coach was having so many strong coaches in my life that helped shape me into the person I am today. And I wanted to be that to someone.

Maness: I love coaching because I love softball. I want to instill that love for softball into my players. When I played softball in high school, I knew that I would come back and coach one day. I knew that softball was something that I was good at, and I wanted to know everything about it. I worked hard every time I stepped on that field and by senior year I was awarded the “Gotta Love It” Award which to me was the highest award I could ever receive. Ever since I graduated, I have wanted to get back on the field, and that’s exactly what coaching allows me to do. It’s even better now because I get to watch girls learn and grow and fall in love with the same sport that I love so much.

PHOTO: Lakeside Jr. High School softball coach Emily Maness is one of four female head coaches at Lakeside. That is unique in local sports.

Cancer survivor learning ways of the Doctor during summer

By Josh Beavers

Jake Chumley is one of ten Webster Parish high school students making it AHEC of a summer as he learns the ropes of becoming a medical professional during training at Minden Medical Center.

However, what separates Jake from his fellow classmates is that the Lakeside incoming senior spent a sizable portion of sophomore and junior years in a Memphis hospital bed receiving treatment for an aggressive form of cancer.

A survivor and a fighter, the former St. Jude patient is now working to become a doctor to help others in need. The first step on that journey is the AHEC program at MMC.

“I’ve been looking to explore my passion,” Jake told the Journal after beginning AHEC training. “And what better field to explore than the one that saves lives?”

AHEC, which stands for Area Health Education Centers program, is a federally funded program established in the United States in 1972 “to improve the supply, distribution, retention and quality of primary care and other health practitioners in medically underserved areas.”

AHEC provides high school students with an unforgettable experience in the medical field. Students job shadow throughout the hospital, physician clinics, a local veterinary clinic, and a chiropractic clinic. Students spend three weeks of their summer learning about medical careers that will prepare them for their future.

The program also provides the students with 100 community service hours as well as a half unit of elective credit on their transcript. MMC will provide the 2021 students with opportunities in areas such as orthopedics, respiratory therapy, women’s health, phlebotomy, surgery and cardiology. They will also earn CPR certification.

Crystal Chumley, Jake’s mother, made one specific comment during Jake’s suture practice, which is pictured along with this story.

“I completely forgot about that part of the AHEC program, and I also had forgotten about his fingertip issues,” she said. “During St Jude-AT (After Treatment), he was tested in his March check-up. He still had nerve damage from chemo in 2-3 fingertips on each hand. He couldn’t feel the fishing line or tie it. It was a problem for him in his high school state fishing tournament back in April, but he said he didn’t have any problem at AHEC.”

She was excited by this development because she said it appears Jake’s nerve damage is correcting. “I’m so proud of how much he’s overcome in just one year,” she told the Journal. “A year ago he was in ICU fighting for his life with fluid around his heart as a side effect from doxorubicin and ANC numbers at zero. And this week he got to serve a rotation in the ICU and become CPR certified to learn how to help save a life.”

The program will continue through July 2.

There are more than 300 AHEC programs nationwide.

ATM robbers leave behind large sum of cash

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Law enforcement officers from all over the state are looking for a group of individuals that are breaking into Automated Teller Machines and stealing the cash.

Minden Police Chief Steve Cropper said last week, the Houston-based ring broke into two ATMs in Minden – Carter Federal Credit Union and Citizens National Bank, both located on Homer Road.

“What we believe they are doing is stealing a vehicle in Houston, driving to their destination, stealing a second vehicle, robbing the ATMs and then using a third vehicle to get away,” Cropper said.

“They are tying chains to a truck to pull off the front of the ATM,” the chief added. “But they left a drawer in the back of the stolen truck – which was from Houston – and it had a large sum of money in it.”

Cropper said the group has hit ATMs across the state, including Bossier and Shreveport.

“We do have some leads,” he said. “But this a big ring from Houston, and they’ve done this all over the state.”

Arrest Report

Dakota W. Capps, no age available, of the 500 block of Dogwood Trail, Minden, was arrested on a warrant for theft. He was transported from Red River Parish to Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center.

Elbert Henderson, aka “Sweet,” no age available, of Heflin, was arrested by Webster Parish Sheriff’s deputies for simple battery.

Maria Palmisano, 38, of Arcadia, was arrested by Bienville Parish deputies for failure to appear. She was transported to the Webster Parish Jail for housing. Her bond is $50,000.

Angela Marie Shepard, 38, of Doyline, was arrested by Webster Parish Sheriff’s deputies on two outstanding warrants. She is being held at BDCC on bonds totaling $50,000.

James A. Shepard, 36, of Doyline, was arrested by WPSO deputies on three outstanding warrants.

Neketorry Rochelle, 36, of Arcadia, was arrested on outstanding warrants for failure to appear. She is currently housed in the Webster Parish Jail.

George B. Puffer, 54, of the 1100 block of Shreveport Rd., Minden, was arrested by Minden Police on three outstanding bench warrants for two counts of theft and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Marty Allen Jones, 31, of Heflin, was arrested by WPSO deputies for violation of probation.

Jules Steven Gilcrease, 38, of Heflin, was arrested by WPSO deputies on warrants that include speeding, license plate lights and no driver’s license.

John R. Nugent 65, of Doyline, was arrested on two active warrants.

Robert Peyton, Moody, 30, of the 300 block of 6th St., NW, Springhill, was arrested on two charges of contempt of court by WPSO deputies.

Joshua Lane Kestle, 39, of Horseshoe Loop, Doyline, was arrested by WPSO deputies on three outstanding warrants, one each for no insurance, driving under suspension and speeding.

David Charles Kock, no age available, of Taylor, Ark., was arrested by Louisiana State Police for driving while intoxicated, speeding, improper lane usage and failure to use a turn signal.

John Harrah, 38, of the 1300 block of Sheppard St., Minden, was arrested for hit and run by Minden Police.

Ronnie Hemphill Jr., 32, of the 600 block of Cadillac St., Minden, was arrested by Minden Police on three active bench warrants.

Conflicting reports result in stabbing arrest

By Bonnie Culverhouse

A she said/she said incident has resulted in stabbing injuries to one of the subjects involved.

Jessica Williams, 31, of the 500 block of Moore St., Minden, was arrested Sunday by Minden Police and charged with simple criminal damage to property and aggravated second-degree battery.

Chief Steve Cropper said Det. Shane Griffith answered the call to a second Moore Street residence.

“Upon his arrival, he made contact with Lt. Chris Hammontree, who told him the victim had been transported to Minden Medical Center, and Williams was at police headquarters,” Cropper said.  “Lt. Hammontree said Williams admitted placing the knife in a drainage ditch behind her residence. It was secured as evidence.”

Cropper said Det. Griffith proceeded to MMC to interview the victim, who said Williams became angry because the victim reportedly gave money to Williams’ sons.

“The victim told the detective that she and Williams had a verbal confrontation that became physical,” said the chief. “She also said some other subjects at the second Moore Street address broke up the two.”

A short time later, Williams reportedly returned to that location and retrieved the victim’s purse from under the carport.

“The victim said Williams removed her cell phone and slammed it on the concrete, destroying it,” Cropper said. “Then she said Williams took her knife from her purse and began stabbing her. Det. Griffith noted stab wounds to the victim’s right bicep, left thigh and abdomen.”

Griffith reportedly returned to police headquarters to interview Williams. Cropper said the suspect told the detective that she became enraged when the victim brought up a sexual battery involving her children.

“Williams stated the two fought and the victim produced the knife and put it on a chair beside her purse,” Cropper said. “Williams stated she retrieved the knife after the victim attached her a second time and began stabbing her. She stated she then ran to her backyard to hide the knife.”

Minden’s Lou Dunbar gleefully enters Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame

NATCHITOCHES – Delayed but not denied, the 2020 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame induction class finally took center stage Saturday night inside the Natchitoches Events Center.

And despite the two years between induction ceremonies, little changed during the 61st induction ceremony.

The 11-person induction class lived up to its billing of a diverse group from different sports and eras, but the themes that permeated their presentations and induction speeches were generally similar.

From family members or coaches or teammates or co-workers – and of course, their Louisiana roots — the feelings of gratitude remained as consistent as they were before the COVID-19 pandemic, which twice delayed the group’s official entry into the state’s sports shrine.

Whether it was the self-professed “city boy” from New Orleans like Kerry Kittles, the Duck Commander himself (Phil Robertson), or the sweet, smooth shooting small-town girl from Bienville Parish (Lady Techster basketball great Angela Turner Johnson), those Louisiana roots run deep.

“Growing up in Shady Grove, it was such a small community, but we had a sense of family,” Turner-Johnson said “If someone did something wrong, our parents knew before we got home because everybody cared about everybody. Mr. Edward Mason, our principal, instilled in us to be the best we can be. He wanted us to not let our humble beginnings get in the way of us dreaming big.”

The members of the long-awaited Class of 2020 dreamed big and delivered even bigger for the Sportsman’s Paradise.

None has had the continuing impact of Minden native “Sweet Lou” Dunbar, an All-American at the University of Houston who became basketball’s Clown Prince with the Harlem Globetrotters. Dunbar led Webster High School to the 1971 Class AA state championship game, was named Louisiana’s “Mr. Basketball” after earning MVP honors in the state All-Star Game, and was a prized recruit for the University of Houston.

Despite his All-American credentials at Houston, Dunbar didn’t explode on the NBA scene. He spurned a substandard contract offer from Philadelphia and spent a couple seasons playing professionally in Switzerland before starting a still-ongoing six-decade career with the Globetrotters as a player and an administrator or coach. He took a break from training camp in Atlanta to make it to Natchitoches for enshrinement.

“I’ve been to over 90 countries,” Dunbar said. “Coming out of Minden, Louisiana, who would have thought that? I met Pope John Paul II, the 75th pope. We gave him a jersey with the No. 75. I’ll touch y’all later. I’ve been anointed.”

Along with his connection to the very top of the Catholic church, Dunbar long had been putting smiles on people’s faces during his times on the court with the Globetrotters.

“He took a cowboy hat from this guy, and the guy ran him around the gym about 20 times,” said current Globetrotter Hi-Lite Bruton. “I was a rookie, and I was laughing so hard. Everyone in the crowd, we were on the floor dying.”
As a player for Webster High and in college, “Sweet Lou” was no joke. He became world famous joking around with basketball’s traveling fun show, the Harlem Globetrotters, and it earned him a permanent place among Louisiana’s greatest sports figures.

PHOTO: A group shot of the 2020 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame induction class. Photo by Chris Reich/NSU, for the Louisiana Sports Writers Association

Podcast: Edwin W. Edwards joins Billy West Live

Ninety-three-year-old former Governor Edwin W. Edwards joins Billy West Live and provides his thoughts on Donald Trump, the news media of today and social media’s impact on politics. Governor Edwards talks about his tenure as the only four-time elected Governor of the State of Louisiana, race relations and voter suppression issues that dominate the news.

Next week Governor Edwin Edwards joins Billy West Live and discusses teacher pay, the value of funding higher education and his relationship with former Governor Dave Treen as well as his thoughts on Governor Jon Bel Edwards. Governor Edwards also discusses his race against former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke.

Billy West Live Profile

Billy West has been a practicing attorney in Louisiana for 32 years with an active practice in all areas of civil and criminal law. Continue reading

Notice of Death June 28, 2021

Gerald Palmer
April 13, 1954 – June 21, 2021
Visitation will be 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. on Friday, July 2nd, 2021 at Rose-Neath Funeral Home in Bossier City
Services:  11:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 3, 2021 at Rose-Neath Bossier Chapel.
Interment:   Will follow the services at Doyline Cemetery. 

Antoinette Vines Jones
November 3, 1946 – June 22, 2021
Service:   Friday, July 2, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. at her home with Dr. Richie Bell, Jr. officiating

Malcom E Rainey, Jr
May 24, 1946 – June 24, 2021
Visitation: Friday July 2nd from 9:00 a.m. until service time.
Service:  11:00 a.m. Friday, July 2, 2021 at Rose-Neath Funeral Home, 705 S. Spruce Street, Vivian, LA.
Interment:   will follow in Salem Cemetery in Bloomburg, TX.

Sam Joseph Peters
April 12, 1985 – June 26, 2021
Visitation:  Rose-Neath Bossier Chapel from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, June 30, 2021
Service:  July 1, 2021, at 2:00 p.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church.
Cemetery:  Hill Crest Memorial Park will follow. 

All safe in Clement Industries fire

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Clement Industries personnel took care of their own when a fire broke out Thursday afternoon in one of their paint booth areas.

According to District 10 Fire Chief Daniel Davidson, City of Minden Fire Department was dispatched as automatic mutual aid when they received the call around 3:25 p.m. Then fire districts representing Sibley, Dixie Inn and Dubberly arrived on scene, all requested for manpower and water.

Davidson said they were met by Clement President Greg Leong.

“He said they had done an emergency accountability during the evacuation and done a follow-up thorough head count,” Davidson said. “They ensured everyone was accounted for and safe. Most employee personnel were sent home afterward.”

When firefighters arrived, they were reportedly met with heavy black smoke from the metal building, however, Davidson said the fire was quickly “knocked down” and contained to a paint booth area and a break room that shared a common wall with the paint booth.

“Fire crews continued fighting, having to cut into metal walls to access fire that had extended into them,” Davidson said.

According to eyewitnesses, the fire began in the down-draft ventilation system of the paint booth. Leong said that fans pull fumes downward and then through channels in the wall and out the roof.

“Clement employees used fire extinguishers to attempt to put out the fire but were not able to,” Davidson said. “So, they began evacuation procedures.”

Pafford EMS was requested as standby only and to provide rehab if needed, the fire chief said.

“There were no injuries sustained for Clement employees or fire department personnel,” he said.

Five trailers were reportedly in the building at the time of the fire. Davidson said it appears that at least two trailers are a complete loss. The other three were affected by smoke, but it is unknown at this time if they were physically damaged by the fire.

Davidson said the building that housed the paint booth suffered severe damage to the exterior wall and roof area directly around the paint booth. The adjacent break room was completely destroyed.

“I am very thankful for not only our firefighters, but our neighboring departments for their assistance during this large event,” Davidson said. “The quick action of these men and women prevented the damage from being any worse.”

Highway 371, south of Interstate 20, was closed to one lane during the fire. Minden Police and the Webster Parish Sheriff’s deputies assisted with traffic control. Davidson said all units cleared the scene by 5:20 p.m.

Clement Industries has been building trailers since 1950.

Clement Industries’ fire in paint bay

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Firefighters from Dubberly, District 10, Sibley and Minden fire departments were instrumental in dousing a fire Thursday afternoon at Clement Industries near Interstate 20.

According to Dist. 10 Fire Chief Daniel Davidson, the fire started in a paint bay.

Minden Police and Webster Parish Sheriff’s deputies helped with traffic control.

EMS was on the scene, but Davidson said no one was injured. Flame marks and some smoke remain visible on the outside and between buildings.

Clement Industries is a leading manufacturer of dump trailers. It was founded in 1950.

School Resource Officer Saves Life of Man Threatening to Jump Off Ledge

The Minden Police Department received a call on June 16 at 11 pm reporting a suicidal man on the LA 371 overpass of I-20. The man was threatening to jump off the ledge. SGT Hackett and OFC Smith were the first to the scene. Other MPD Officers briefly closed I-20 East in order to prevent injury.

SGT Hackett and OFC Smith saw the suicidal man straddling the concrete barrier yelling that he wanted to kill himself. They were able to convince the man to pull one leg back over the barrier. However, the man refused to move any further until he talked to LT Tokia Whiting-Harrison. Officers called LT Harrison, who was off duty at the time. She arrived on scene in less than 10 minutes. She was able to calm the suicidal man down and convince him to move away from the edge. The suicidal man then received medical care.

LT Whiting-Harrison is a well known and admired School Resource Officer. She regularly goes above and beyond the call of duty for the citizens of Minden. In doing so, she saved a man’s life.

Law Enforcement Takes STEP Toward Slowing Speeders

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Minden Police officers are taking a giant step toward slowing speeders from I-20 through a program called STEP.

Safety Traffic Enforcement Program is set up inside the parish limits of the interstate, according to Minden Police Chief Steve Cropper.

“Speeding ticket fines are set up to be split among the City of Minden, the judges’ office, Minden Police Department and the Ward Marshal’s Office,” Cropper said.

“It’s a deterrent for speeders coming from Shreveport,” he continued. “We’ve had a ton of them come from Shreveport or Bossier to our stores and steal. If they see those units sitting out there, they might just keep going.”

There is the additional benefit of just slowing drivers.

“They are flying through there,” Cropper said.

MPD purchased two “ghost” Dodge Chargers as their STEP units. The department’s logo is painted on the side of the vehicle but then covered in white paint, so it is not readily visible.

Cropper said one is on the road while the other is awaiting installation of electronics.

“We are getting electronic license readers,” he said. “It will eliminate the time frame it takes for the officer to write the ticket. They swipe the driver’s license and print out the ticket.”

There is one benefit to the ticketholder, the chief said.

“If they pay their ticket before the court date, it doesn’t go on their record,” he said. “These people are getting a ticket and an hour later, they’re stopping at a phone somewhere, going online and paying it.”

When the program was less than a week old, Cropper said around $10,000 in fines had been paid.

“So far, 98 percent of the tickets are out of town … out of state drivers,” he said. “That’s what the program is designed for – not to get the local people.”

Local Teacher, Spouse Launching Summer Camp for Children in Foster Care System

By Josh Beavers

Logan Cammack, a Lakeside history teacher, is continuing his work with children this summer, but these days he finds his educational setting out in the sunshine rather than in the classroom.

Cammack is working as a counselor for Royal Family Kids Camp, a mentorship camp for children in the foster care system. And in even bigger news, he and his wife will launch their own camp later this summer.

“I was a counselor for RFKC two years ago, and it was a life changing experience,” said Brittany Cammack, Logan’s spouse. “Since that time we have decided to bring the teenage version of that camp to our area so that campers can continue to have the experience as long as they’re in foster care. Logan really wanted to have a chance to see this camp in person and help share hope with the kids in our area, too.”

Logan wasn’t available to speak to the Journal Tuesday evening, but Brittany went on to tell us that the Cammacks will be starting the first teen camp in the area this summer and “we cannot wait.” She said their camp – Teen Reach Adventure Camp Shreveport – and RFKC are vital for kids in foster care because they “often feel forgotten.”

“We get the amazing opportunity to show them how valuable they are, and that they can lead successful lives no matter what they’ve been through,” she said. “These two programs are just two links in a chain that works to fix a broken system.”

Dates for Teen Reach Adventure Camp are July 8-10 and July 22-24.

When a kid goes to an RFK camp they receive the attention and encouragement of an adult camp counselor and his/her “buddy camper.” In addition, each camper is also exposed to a variety of fun activities, designed for their success and to build self-esteem. According to the official RFK website, for most of these children, it’s the best week of the year – a special time when they can focus on having fun and enjoy being a kid.

Some activities include: hiking, swimming, fishing, woodworking, fun games, sports, zip lines, costumes, inner tubing, horseback riding, songs & skits, tea parties and more.

“We want everyone to know about these programs, what they do, and how people can get involved to help kids and teens in foster care,” Brittany Cammack said.

She said help is always needed and anyone interested in helping can contact her or her husband for more information. Information can also be located on the Teen Reach Adventure Camp Shreveport Facebook page.

JLFP Summer Feeding Program Takes Care of the Tummy and the Soul

Staff Report

To date, more than 600 tummies of local children have been filled by the Joe LeBlanc Food Pantry’s new Summer Feeding Program.

The program, run by Katie Lange, began June 7 and will run from 11 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday until August 6, according to JLFP Executive Director Jessica Lewis.

“On those days, parents or guardians of any Webster Parish child can pickup grab-and-go meals at 814 Constable Street,” Lewis said.

They are also offering delivery to apartments and homes within Minden city limits. Parents must call 318-299-6375 and request the food be brought to a specific address. Currently deliveries are going to Chateau Normandy, Hillside Apartments, The Minden Recreation Dept. and several private residents.

“We decided to pickup deliveries this year because there are so many kids left at home during the Summer, and they aren’t able or don’t have an adult around to get out and pickup food for them.

For safety reasons, drivers always deliver in a vehicle marked “JLFP Summer Feeding Program.”

“During our first week we were able to fill 596 bellies of local children,” Lewis said. “Last year we acted as a distribution site for another non profit’s Summer Feeding Program. They did everything for us and it was free to us.”

However, that meant the program had to dole out what they were provided.

“The meals weren’t well liked by kids, most likely because they had strict guidelines and nutritional values they had to hit,” Lewis said. “Mrs. Katie has worked very hard to put together a well-rounded menu that still offers lots of protein and nutrition with a strong focus on what kids will actually eat, and it has been a hit so far.”

Venturing out on their own – without any partnerships or grants – means JLFP accepts the full cost of the meals.

“This isn’t food that we can get from the (Northwest Louisiana) food bank,” Lewis said. “We are actually making several trips a week to local stores to purchase food at full cost.”

Donations are greatly appreciated if anyone feels like they would like to invest in this program. Their PayPal address is or a check can be mailed to 814 Constable Street Minden, LA 71055. Also anyone interested in volunteering either in person or for deliveries can see available days by checking out the link on their Facebook page.

Minden High Grad Honored with Scholarship

(Melinda Boyce is presented the 2021 George E. French III Scholarship by French, right, and MMC CEO Jim Williams)

Melinda Boyce, a 2021 graduate of Minden High School, has been named recipient of the 2021 George E. French III Scholarship.

“Melinda is the perfect choice for this scholarship,” Minden Principal Becky Wilson told the Journal. “Like George French, she exemplifies servant leadership and a servant’s heart. She is a special student that I admire.”

The scholarship is open to high school seniors who are residents of Webster Parish and plan to major in nursing. A prerequisite is they are working to become a registered nurse by attending an accredited two or four-year institution on a full-time basis.

French was Minden Medical Center’s CEO for 34 years – from 1982 until retirement in 2016. Current CEO Jim Williams said French was a dedicated, loyal and humble servant leader.

“We are happy that George’s dedication and commitment to healthcare will continue to be recognized and honored through the George E. French III Scholarship,” Williams said. “This scholarship will be presented annually to a deserving senior of Webster Parish who is pursuing a career as a Registered Nurse.”

Melinda said she loves to help people and knew she wanted to be a nurse.

“Through my AHEC experience at Minden Medical Center, I discovered I wanted to be a neonatal RN,” she said.

She will enroll at Northwestern State University this fall where she will work toward a Bachelor of Science in nursing and specialize in neonatology.

You Asked and We Are Answering!

Webster Parish Libraries has had several requests to start a digital art club for kids, they’re taking a dive into digital!

The new Digital Art Club is open to kids ages 10 and up who enjoy creating digital art and have their own tablet.

A meeting will be held on Thursday, August 12 from 4:30-5:30 in the Minden branch’s main meeting room.

Bring your tablet and your favorite tips to share with others and get ready for some digital art fun!

Fishing High is New Low for Local Pair

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Two individuals who were fishing high were the catch of the day for Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries last weekend.

William Robert Gordon, 25, of the 100 block of Sheryl Rd., Minden, was arrested by LDWF Agents Lt. Kenny Balkom and Sgt. Jared McIver and charged with illegal possession of Marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Gordon was reportedly fish with Michael James Augustin, 25, of the 6600 block of Hwy. 527, Doyline. Augustin was charged with possession of Sch. II Methamphetamine, possession of Sch. I Marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and failure to comply with PFD requirements.

Agents were reportedly patrolling Lake Bistineau at Clark’s Bayou, when they approached the subjects’ small aluminum boat and detected the odor of Marijuana.

When asked, Augustin reportedly admitted to Marijuana and handed agents a small partially-burned Marijuana cigarette from inside a tackle box.

Minden Mourns Loss of Mike McCoy – a Friend to All

By Josh Beavers

A common misconception about purpose in life is that one needs fame and fortune and force to be a success in our time on Earth. But the truth is, all one needs to make a positive mark and make a difference in this world is to have friends. And when you are gone, the measure of your impact on those around you can be appraised by the words of those companions you leave behind.

William “Mike” McCoy, affectionately nicknamed Dawg by all those who knew him, had friends, many friends, and when he tragically left this mortal plane on June 21, the response, the kind words, the remembrances of the impact he made in his 56 years was remarkable and indicated he was a man who made an impact on all those lucky enough to call him friend.

A selection of the dozens of messages left on Mike’s Facebook page:

“Dawg’s home page reads, ‘Live everyday like it’s your last, be happy…’. I’ve never met another man that lived that mantra the way he did. He loved life. He loved his friends. He loved his family. He loved God. I count myself very fortunate for his friendship. This one hurts,” William Fox.

“To know him was to love him. You’ll never meet a man with a bigger heart than he. He was a friend to all. No one could tell a story and make you laugh like this man could. He was a God-fearing man that loved his family and friends BIG. He was the absolute most loyal of friends. We were blessed to know him,” Leigh Anne Wiliams.

“I hope you know how much you were loved and what a light you shine…….,” Brenda Nave Haynes.

“He was my role model as he fought epilepsy since he was a teen and would give me pep talks when I was sick. He was loved by many and could take on any food eating challenge around like it was nothing! Rest easy my brother. Our tears are selfish because you are reunited with your mama and our elders, right where you longed to be,” Rachel Nunez.

“My heart is heavy with a sadness I can’t explain; 30 years ago I met this man. He was a giant among men. Fly high Dawg up on those streets of gold. Forever loved. Forever missed,” Becca Holder.

“It’s such a sad day for us folks from Minden La. He was known by MANY… We have lost a special soul, a great friend of our family. His stories were the best. He could get you laughing so fast and easily to where you would forget your own troubles,” Tracy Ray.

Funeral services for Mike were to be held today (Thursday, June 24) at 2 p.m. at Rose-Neath Funeral Home Chapel in Minden with Bro. Barry Carter officiating. Interment will follow at Whispering Pines Cemetery in Minden.

Mike was born June 28, 1964 in Shreveport and entered into rest June 21, 2021 in Minden. It was one week shy of his 57th birthday. Mike was a salesman with Minden Athletic, a life- long member of Whispering Pines Missionary Baptist Church, and coached Little League Baseball for 25 years. He loved the Minden Crimson Tide and the Dallas Cowboys.

He is survived by his wife, Lisa Bridges McCoy; daughter, Morgan McCoy; sister, Carlene McCoy Miller; brothers, Scotty McCoy and wife Belinda and Jason Salsburg and wife Samantha all of Minden; granddaughter, Kennedy Lewis and a number of nieces and nephews.

Mike’s last Facebook post came on June 10th at 10:30 in the morning. He was asking for prayers for a missing boy in North Carolina. That’s the kind of person Mike was. His heart was huge, and he made an impact on those around him. As pointed out earlier in the story, Mike’s Facebook page states: “Enjoy everyday like it’s your last, and be happy….”

William “Mike” McCoy, known as Dawg by those lucky enough to call him friend, lived each day like it was his last. He was happy and made others happy.

He accomplished more good for the world than many CEOs and people of power. He left a mark on the world and exited it having made it a little bit better place.

Lions Club learns about WHO

Jennifer Rader spoke to the Minden Lions Club at its meeting last week about the amazing things the non-profit WHO of North Webster is doing to help those in need. WHO is an acronym for Women Helping Others. Jennifer said the WHO has distributed an estimated half a million dollars to those who have experienced catastrophic disasters, life-threatening illnesses and through donations to offset funeral expenses. Thanks, WHO, for all that you do!

Jennifer was introduced by Lion Marvin Garrett. Joining her was WHO member Brandy White.

Minden Medical Center Job Opening – Marketing Coordinator

Minden Medical Center is seeking to hire a full-time 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐤𝐞𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐂𝐨𝐨𝐫𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐨𝐫.

Two years of Marketing, Communications or Public Relations experience, or a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing, Communication or Public Relations preferred; one year of experience in healthcare also preferred.

To learn more and apply online, visit

If this sounds like the opportunity for you, apply today! Contact Melissa Dauer, Recruiter at 318-371-5627.