Community love for Jake Chapman – 2021 Man of the Year

Editor’s Note: This is the introduction given by Scotty Blackwell as he announced Jake Chapman as the 2021 Minden Man of the Year. The Journal featured the Woman of the Year in Tuesday’s update.

Well thank you! What a joy, privilege and honor it is to be with you all this evening. As Tracey said, I’m Scotty Blackwell and I am the Minister of Music at Minden’s First Baptist Church. As “one year” residents of Minden, my wife Jessica and I would like to offer our thanks to this wonderful community for welcoming us with open arms. We look forward to raising our family here.

I have been asked to introduce to you this year’s “Man of the Year”!

When I think of the heading “Minden Man of the Year” a few things come to mind:

First, wow! What a title! Right!? I mean, being recognized as the “Man of the Year” should swell a guy’s heart with pride knowing that his peers have chosen to honor him as being the exceptional stand out amongst the rest of the field of candidates. I’m confident that many names were enthusiastically submitted and much deliberation went into this decision and this particular man rose to the top with a general consensus that he is very well deserved.

Secondly, I think of extraordinary & observable qualities. The Man of the Year for a city must been seen. Although he may (and does) love his home life and time with family, he’s most certainly needed to be involved in numerous functions and events for people to notice his hard work and dedication. So naturally, this means that he is a champion of his town. I know personally, in this individual, there is a deep love for his neighbor and he is very much loved by his friends and acquaintances.

The third thing that comes to mind would be the word community. This year’s Minden Man of the Year absolutely loves his community. If it’s happening in Minden, this guy is usually right in the midst of it. Being a community-focused man gives evidence on where the man’s heart really lies. He takes great pride in his city, its friendliness and cleanliness. He wants the best for his community and it shows in more than his words but also his actions.

Now, onto who this Man of the Year actually is.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve only been here for a year, which means I equally know each of you for maximum, one year! However, with this guy, I feel like we go back decades.

He is a very well deserving man with a servants’ heart. He’s the father of three awesome children that are all very active in their church’s children and youth groups, which is reflective of his leadership in the home. He is a committed and devoted husband. He’s a deacon at the First Baptist Church here in Minden and when you consider the Biblical qualities found in a deacon, he embodies the very description.

Let me take a moment and read it to you:
1 Tim 3:8-13 “Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. The men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach…Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households. For those who served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.”

This man is also an outstanding musician and vocalist serving the church weekly, without fail, as a vital member of its music ministry, of which I am very grateful.

He loves the city of Minden and has served her in many ways. He’s a former Lion’s Club president, a member of the Webster Parish “Top 15 under 40”, was involved with the “Next Generation of Minden”, serves the Chamber of Commerce and very involved in the planning and function of city-wide events.

He has served as Emcee for several events including the St Jude 5&10K’s, various tournaments, and other Main Street functions. In addition to all of that, he has attended several ribbon cuttings, performed the National Anthem and the list continues. He invests not only his money but his time and energy into many programs that benefit the City of Minden. He is well-deserving.

This man BLEEDS “crimson and white” (this is slightly hard for me to say but, Roll Tide!)! He’s an avid donor and booster for Minden High School and Minden High School Athletics. He worked with a close friend to compile an Athletics Record book for Minden High that spans from its inception to today. He’s also the color commentator for Minden High Football having called more than 100 games.

These past two years have been difficult ones, to put it mildly, and his role in the workplace was challenged, but our Man of the Year rose to the task. He was charged with the oversight of the Paycheck Protection Program also known as PPP that helped an enormous amount of people retain their businesses and livelihoods. His success in this endeavor was so great that it resulted in his promotion to a Vice Presidential role at Gibsland Bank & Trust.

This is but a small, condensed list of the accomplishments, leadership skills and work ethics he possesses. So when you mention Minden’s Man of the Year, for many people, their minds go to one man, and I’ll repeat once more, he is well-deserving.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you this year’s Man of the Year, Jake Chapman!

New office envisions eliminating the digital divide

By Bonnie Culverhouse

The next time you wonder what we did before we had Internet, remember there are many residents in Webster, Claiborne and Bienville parishes who still don’t have it.

“There are a lot of needs in this state – roads, bridges – but most people will tell you: ‘connect me to the Internet, so I can function and so my kids don’t have to go somewhere else to connect to the Internet,” said former state Sen. Gerald Long. “That’s what we are doing.”

A newly-created state office of Broadband Development and Connectivity has made it a mission to eliminate the digital divide by 2029, ensuring anyone who wants Internet will have access.

Executive Director Veneeth Iyengar told a room of interested public officials from the three parishes and Internet representatives that his new office is looking at unserved and underserved.

“There are three important points,” he said. “Infrastructure/access, affordability and digital literacy.”

According to Iyengar’s numbers, 86 percent of Bienville Parish residents are without Broadband access. Almost half of Claiborne Parish is without and around 25 percent of Webster Parish residents have no connectivity.

In order to take on the infrastructure/access pillar of broadband, the Louisiana Office of Broadband Development and Connectivity is providing grants to private providers of broadband services to facilitate the areas with no Internet access, providing transmission speeds of at least 25 Megabits per second download and 3 Mbps upload.

“This is a federal program, with a total of $177 million to bring fiber to the home,” Iyengar said. “The first application deadline for $90-to $95,000 is November 1 through December 31. The next deadline will be mid-March with awarding from June to July.

“We want to have all $177 million committed by this time in 2024 and reduce the numbers of unserved and underserved by half in the next five years,” he continued.

Another area of focus is affordability.

“Typically a broadband Internet service package will cost a consumer between $50 and $75 per month, not including cable or phone service,” Iyengar said. “For some families that level of cost can be burdensome, and there is no point in having Internet if you can’t afford it.”

Lastly, Digital Literacy is a focus to ensure when residents have the Internet, they know how to use it.

“Our office estimates that as many as 462,000 Louisiana residents ages 18-64 may lack the digital literacy skills necessary to take full advantage of broadband,” he added. “This is where your library and Chamber of Commerce, as well as your community college come in to play.”

In order to apply for a grant, entities should go to for pertaining information. Residents who would like to know their Internet speed can go to the same site and click on the appropriate box.

Photo by Bonnie Culverhouse: Veneeth Iyengar, executive director of Louisiana Office of Broadband Development and Connectivity, talks with a group at the Greater Minden Chamber of Commerce office.

Col. Carl Thompson; Humble, but not retired

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Every morning, Col. Carl Thompson rises before the sun and spends an hour and a half in prayer with his Lord.

“I guess I’m starting off my day right,” he said.

He is humble, and the word “retirement” is not in his vocabulary.

Recently, Col. Thompson was honored with the Louisiana Legion of Merit, a high honor with the Louisiana State Guard.

He enlisted in U.S. Air Force Reserve in June 1965. He retired as State Forester in 1994, then he retired from Louisiana Army National Guard in February 2001.

Every time he has retired from one position, another door opens. He served in the Louisiana State Guard from February 2001 until July 2021 as Commander, 5th Area Command. He was promoted to the position of Deputy Commander at that time.

“The governor is our Commander in Chief,” Col. Thompson explained about the Louisiana State Guard. “When I was in Louisiana National Guard, the President was my Commander in Chief.”

Many people may not know the State Guard exists, he said. It was created in 1942 by a revised statute, and it is totally volunteer-driven.

“All states were authorized to form this Guard, but not all did,” he said. “Of the Area Commands, the 5th Area is the only one still active (in Louisiana).”

It’s grown from five members to around 30. They activate to aid the Louisiana National Guard and to support Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC).

During his retirement, Col. Thompson works for Denise Edwards, Webster Parish Assessor. He was hired by her predecessor Morris Guin. He attends every community meeting possible, representing her office.

“He’s my voice when I can’t be there,” Edwards said. “I’m so glad to have him.”

Col. Thompson has been married to Diane Cramer 36 years. They grew up only three miles apart in Claiborne Parish, and Thompson remembers when she was born. They have two daughters and three grandsons.

He’s a Godly man; a family man; a patriot and volunteer. Something else Col. Thompson would like you to know: “I’m no hero. I was given the opportunity to serve this nation and serve with the greatest, most dedicated and patriotic men and women who are citizens of this nation.

“I initially joined the Air Force with the intention of serving my four years and then getting out, but I discovered that I valued and enjoyed being in the company of soldiers who are America’s heroes,” Col. Thompson said. “I valued and enjoyed the military culture, camaraderie, the structure, the discipline and the life-long friendships that are cherished forever.

“That’s why I continued in the Air Force and the Air Force Reserve and the Louisiana Army National Guard for almost 36 years,” he continued. “And it’s the reason I continue to serve our Great Christian Nation and State of Louisiana in the Louisiana State Guard.”

Photo: Col. Carl Thompson (left) and Col. Gene Barattini receive awards at the 165th Combat Service Battalion headquarters in Bossier City. Thompson and Barattini are being transferred from the 5th Area Command to Headquarters Louisiana State Guard. Barattini will serve as the Chief of Staff with Thompson in the Headquarters Louisiana State Guard.

Shaggy Chic opens doors

Shaggy Chic owner Amy Huddleston is joined by local officials at a ribbon cutting for her new Grooming Salon for dogs. Address is 617 Sibley Rd., Minden.

Call 318-578-0191 for an appointment.

North Webster readies for talented Jonesboro-Hodge

The North Webster Knights are focused on snapping a 2-game skid Friday night at Baucum-Farrar Stadium.

The opponent coming in is another good one in the Jonesboro-Hodge Tigers. The Tigers are a 22-20 loss away from being undefeated but come in an impressive 3-1.

The Knights are coming off a disappointing loss to one of Class 3A’s strongest schools, the Jena Giants. The Knights had a chance to take the lead late in that game, but turned the ball over near the goal line. The final score came to rest at 27-13.

Limiting turnovers will be key in North Webster taking care of business this Friday against the Tigers.

Also of importance is getting the offense back in gear. Do-it-all athlete Jamarcus Stephens was held in check for most of last week and running back Cooper Sanders was injured early. The Knights will turn to signal-caller Collin McKenzie to engineer the offense to the type of numbers they put up in weeks 1-3.

The North Webster defense will have to contend with a talent-laiden Jonesboro-Hodge offense featuring a talented signal-caller in 6-foot-4 quarterback Tydre Malone, 6-foot-1 receiver Devontae Mozee and running back Brantrel Thompson.

The Knights, 2-2, will have the home crowd behind them for the second straight week, with two more home games to follow in the weeks to come.

Now is the time for North Webster to seize momentum and start the wheels turning towards a run at the district title and playoff push.

North Webster currently sits at No. 20 in Class 3A. Jonesboro-Hodge is No. 13 in Class 2A.

Crimson Tide on road again, heading south to Leesville

By Whitman McGee

Week 4 was not very kind to the Minden Crimson Tide as they suffered their second loss of the season.

Though last week’s Mansfield loss may seem like one to forget, the Tide (2-2) are focused on recognizing mistakes and growing as the season carries on.

A critical part of growing is realizing what areas need attention. In Minden’s case, the young secondary will be the focal point for improvement.

Tide Head Coach Spencer Heard said, “It’s not a lack of talent. The talent is there; they just haven’t had enough reps.”

Heard told his secondary, “It’s time to allow your athleticism to come out, but at the same time make sure you are paying attention to what the coaches are telling you.”

Minden will need to be clicking in all facets of the game come Friday night, as Leesville (2-2) will surely be well motivated after a devastating 3-point loss to Pineville last week.

Coach Heard thinks highly of the Wampus Cats, saying, “They’re solid in all phases of the game. It’s going to take a good effort.

He continued, “I think it’s going to be a very competitive game and one in which we can win if we go in with the right mindset.”

Minden leads the overall series against the Wumpus Cats (2-1).

This week, Heard spotlighted the play of Senior TE/WR Kameron Talley who caught the ball 3 times for 34 yards in last week’s matchup with Mansfield. “I thought he played a good game. Hopefully, he can keep that up and improve while making some plays for us down the stretch.”

Doubt the Tide all you want but they won’t let that bother them. Grit and determination are the two words that best describe this 2021 Minden Crimson Tide roster. No matter the mountain they may be faced with climbing, they’ll always give it their all. That’s why you can never truly rule them out.

If you can’t make it out to Leesville this week, tune in to 1240 KASO or 104.5 KBEF for radio coverage of the game.

Apaches on road quest to sink the Mariners of Magnolia School of Excellence

After their upset bid fell just short last Friday vs Homer, the Glenbrook Apaches hope to right the ship vs the Mariners at Independence Stadium in Shreveport.

The Mariners will feature a bruising presence in senior RB/LB Meciah Butler (6’0 230lbs), who rushed for over 1,000 yards during his junior season.

The Apache defense will be without a pair of starters due to injury and will look to juniors Dayton Sims and Trey Yetman to fill the void.

While the Mariner defense has been very charitable throughout the first four games, giving up a total of 175 points (44 ppg), they did manage to secure their first victory last week as they bested Ringgold with a score of 30-26.

The Apache offense will hope it picks up where it left off in the 2nd half last week as they were able to put 21 points on the board while pulling within 7 points of Homer in the final minutes of the game.

In order for the Apache offense to have success, they will need Luke Vining, Cade Vining, Jackson Lott, Spencer Brantley, and Garrett Brown to play well on the offensive line.

The Mariners are currently in their 3rd year of varsity football with a record of 2-23.

“They get after it, they have some quality players. They just don’t have 25 quality players but have good ones and we are going to try to attack the ones that aren’t that good,” said Coach David Feaster.

Kick off will be 7 p.m. at Independence Stadium in Shreveport.

Warriors looking to rebound on road trip to Beekman Charter

By Josh Beavers

The Lakeside Warriors will be looking to rebound this Friday night following their first loss of the season.

The team went over to West Ouachita and were handed a 40-point loss against the 5A Chiefs. Coach Mike Santelices spoke to The Journal Wednesday morning and said the film showed just too many mistakes on Lakeside’s part.

“I’m not saying we would have won, but it would have been closer if we hadn’t made as many mistakes as we did,” Coach Sant said. “After watching the film, the team’s spirits were lifted and they realized it’s always just a matter of us doing the things we need to do to get better.”

Moving on to this week, Lakeside will be on the road once again. This time, the Warriors will travel two hours to the Northeast to take on Beekman Charter. The Tigers are winless on the season (0-4) and lost 44-6 last week against Lincoln Prep.

Santelices said Beekman poses potential problems because they run a non-traditional four quarterback system. Each signal caller presents unique problems, the Lakeside coach told The Journal.

Beekman Charter is located about 15 miles north of Bastrop.

Daughter arrested for cruelty to mother

By Bonnie Culverhouse

A local woman was arrested by Minden Police for cruelty to her mother.

Kasondra Lynn Voohries, 54, of the 800 block of Claiborne Ave., has been charged with cruelty to persons with infirmities and simple criminal damage to property.

Chief Steve Cropper said Lt. Chris Hammontree went to the Claiborne Ave. residence Tuesday, Sept. 28 where he made contact with Voohries.

“He asked to speak with her mother,” Cropper said. “When he did, the officer noticed a bloody abrasion to her left forearm. It had been cleaned and bandaged, but the blood had soaked through.”

Hammontree reports the victim told him her daughter, Voohries, had become angry with her when officers came to the house earlier in the day.

“Voohries grabbed her mother by the arm, and when her mother tried to pull away, the skin on her arm tore and bled,” Cropper said. “Also, after the argument, Voohries somehow gained possession of her mother’s glasses. She bent the legs and bridge of the glasses, making them unusable.”

The victim reportedly said her daughter refused to let her eat, blocking her access to the kitchen.

Hammontree reports the victim did not wish to press criminal charges originally but did not wish to stay in the residence. Officers made arrangements for her to stay at a local motel.

Cropper said the following day, officers made contact with the victim and another family members at the Claiborne Ave. residence, so she could retrieve personal items and return to Alabama.

“Ofc. Shawn Griffith was on the scene and noticed more bruising to the victim’s face, arms and shoulder,” said the chief. “The mother said the injuries happened the day before but bruising did not show until morning.”

While collecting her belongings, the victim reportedly noticed her medicine bag, containing a 90-day supply of diabetes medicine, was missing. When asked about the medicine, Voohries reportedly refused to answer.

“The victim returned to Alabama with family,” Cropper said. “While en-route, she decided to pursue criminal action against her daughter.”

Lt. Chris Cheatham reportedly alerted officers to a felony warrant for Voorhies. Officer Hopkins and Sgt. Hackett took her into custody.

Arrest Report

Carissa K. Ferguson, 32, of Heflin, was arrested by Louisiana State Police Troop G for driving while intoxicated, second offense and improper lane usage.

Plez Anthony Childress, 43, of Doyline, was arrested by Webster Parish Sheriff’s deputies as a fugitive from Oklahoma.

Erica L. White, 50, of Haynesville, was arrested by Haynesville PD as a fugitive from Texas.

LeAnn Henning, 39, of Monroe, had her bond revoked for a failed drug test.

You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover – The Amazing North Louisiana Military Museum

The North Louisiana Military Museum is a perfect example of the old adage that you can’t judge a book by its cover. The first impression a visitor has of the museum is of a deceptively small steel building. Judging the museum by its nondescript exterior would be a mistake, however. The interior is simply superb. The museum has an incredible range of artifacts from the Civil War through WWI, WWII to Vietnam and the wars in the Middle East.

The museum was founded in 1995 and is now operated by the City of Ruston. The museum has over 10,000 artifacts in its two stories and 4,000 square feet. Many of the artifacts were donated by area veterans which gives the collection a more personal feel. While the museum has a wide range of uniforms and weapons, it also has items not usually found in collections such as a Vietnamese language guide for soldiers and a WWI guide to France.

The North Louisiana Military Museum is a delight for not just history buffs, but anyone interested in our nation’s military heritage. That heritage is much more than weapons and uniforms, it is the collective story of the men and women who served our nation in difficult and dangerous circumstances. The North Louisiana Military Museum tells those stories well. It is a fascinating place.

The North Louisiana Military Museum is located at 201 Memorial Drive, Ruston, LA, 318-251-5099. There is no charge for admission and the museum’s hours are Wednesday Noon to 4:00 pm and Thursday-Saturday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. The museum director recommends calling ahead and will promptly return all calls.

The General Plot

By Brad Dison

In 1945, General inherited a large multilevel house which was in disrepair. The wooden structure was in danger of collapsing and the masonry was crumbling. The floors creaked and swayed, especially when walked on. The light fixtures in the lower rooms swayed when someone walked on the floors above. One light fixture in the house seemed to be lower with each passing day. General referred to the creaking and moaning of the house’s rotting timbers as ghosts. General had an architect inspect the house who remarked that “the beams [in the house] are staying up there from force of habit only.” The house was in danger of collapsing. The last straw came in June of 1948 when a leg of a piano crashed through an upper floor and through the ceiling of the dining room. In November of 1949, General moved into a residence nearby so that the house he inherited could be reconstructed. The house had too much sentimental value for it to be demolished.
Not everyone liked General. In fact, some people wanted to kill General and he knew it. For this reason, General surrounded himself with bodyguards, some of which were police officers.

At about 2:15 on the afternoon of November 1, 1950, two men, Griselio Torresola and Oscar Collazo, set a plan into motion to murder General. They had learned that General had moved into the temporary residence. Griselio approached the residence from the west side, while Oscar approached from the east. Police officer Donald Birdzell stood on the front steps of the residence. Oscar, with pistol in hand, snuck up behind the Birdzell and pulled the trigger. Snap!!! Oscar had forgotten to chamber a round in his pistol. Birdzell turned as Oscar chambered a round. Oscar fired the pistol and struck Birdzell in his right knee. As Oscar approached the steps which led to the front door, another bodyguard stepped out of the residence and shot Oscar in the chest. Oscar collapsed and writhed in pain at the foot of the steps.

Meanwhile, on the west side of the residence, Griselio shot police officer Leslie Coffelt four times at close range. He turned his pistol on policeman Joseph Downs and shot him three times. Griselio shot officer Birdzell in his other knee. Griselio had no more rounds in the gun and stopped to reload. General, who had been taking a nap on the second floor, peered out of a window directly over the front door to see what the commotion was. General was a First World War combat veteran and was not frightened by the gunfire. People yelled for General to get away from the window. He obeyed their command. At that moment, Coffelt, though severely injured, fired a single shot at Griselio before falling to the ground unconscious. The bullet from Coffelt’s pistol struck Griselio in the head and killed him instantly.

When the shooting was over, three guards were wounded including 40-year-old Leslie Coffelt, who died later that evening during surgery. Oscar survived and spent the next 29 years in prison. In an interview with Time magazine about the murder plot, General calmly said, “the only thing you have to worry about is bad luck.” General grinned and said, “I never have bad luck.” General remarked that he was unafraid because he “had been shot at by professionals” during the First World War.

Although the shooting lasted less than a minute, General survived a murder attempt in what was described as “the biggest gunfight in Secret Service history.” You see, the house General inherited was the White House. General was the Secret Service’s code name for… President Harry Truman.

1. The Philadelphia Inquirer, November 2, 1950, p.1.
2. Mahan, Sydney. “66 Years Ago Today, President Truman Survived an Assassination Attempt at Blair House.” Washingtonian. November 1, 2016.

Photo: The entrance to General’s temporary residence (1) where one of the would-be assassins was wounded. The other tumbled into bushes (2), fatally shot. Shots were fired from sentry box (3) at the gunmen while two guards were wounded in the other box (4). A guard on duty at the entrance steps was wounded and stumbled into the street (5). General appeared at window (6).

If this is community, here’s your sign

Loosely defined, satire is the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

It’s this method of observation that your favorite occupant of the all-seeing rockin’ chair has chosen to discuss the follies foisted on the citizenry of this fair city. This time, satire just isn’t enough.

A week or so ago, we heard about a “community” meeting planned around the premise of uncovering the “truth” of what’s going on at city hall and with the city council, and the why’s and why nots behind failure to adopt a city budget. Featured information sources were a pair of city seat occupants.

Turns out, the meeting wasn’t truly a community conclave but more an elitist exclusion exercise. We saw one high ranking city official (Hizzoner the Mayor) denied entry to the meeting with the admonition, “You aren’t a part of this community.”

Another city council member who attended the gathering allegedly “just to listen” was told to leave. The ejectee said he didn’t want a quorum of the council present. When the quorum question was quizzed, ejectee said something to the effect, “This is my building and that’s my opinion.” Very Attorney Generalish.

This little castout was both silly and ironic. Silly because someone apparently has decided Minden isn’t one community and exclusivity is decided by demagoguery. Ironic because the exclusion occurred in a building that bears the name of a man (B.F. Martin) who preached tolerance and unity among all citizens of this town.

Someone missed the obvious. If there’s a problem with the man in the big office (Mayor), seems like he should be put in front of the constituency and confronted with questions. Refusing him entry to a public gathering where (allegedly) city problems would be discussed is raising questions rather than generating answers.

Maybe the organizers of the “community” meeting were less interested in solutions and more inclined to flame fanning.

Another rather amusing note: The self-appointed moderator suggested that litigation could be forthcoming over the ridiculous spat that occurred following the last council meeting. Victim of the incident is said to be considering legal action (some say with a little prompting) against Hizzonner, a police officer who vocalized his disgust and any others who allegedly didn’t try to stop the comic revue.

Our legal consultant, Willie Fleecem, says the only charges he can imagine are improper use of buttocks (a.k.a., chair bumping), voicing an opinion in public to someone who is concerned the opinion may be fact, and obsessive bemusement (too stunned by the sheer idiocy to respond).

Whatever the decision, litigant might want to get in line. From the chair, we hear a couple of city employees might be seeking counsel for the purpose of making the city live up to a promise. And another courtly episode could be in the future for folks who think laws don’t apply to them.

Laws like performing the duties to which one was elected, obeying court orders, passing a balanced budget by the state mandated deadline and fulfilling an oath of office. Litigation works both ways.

Notice of Death – September 29, 2021

Betty J. Kobs
October 4, 1936 – September 9, 2021
Services: Sunday, October 3, 2021 at the home of James and Betty Kobs.

Ronald Ray O’Daniel
July 16, 1955 – September 22, 2021
Services and Visitation: Still Pending 
Burial: September 30, 2021

Robert Shelton Bayles
October 11, 1975 – September 27, 2021
visitation will be held from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Service:  Sunday, October 3, 2021 at 3:00 p.m. at Rose-Neath Funeral Home, 943 Polk Street, Mansfield

Community love for Tokia Whiting Harrison – 2021 Woman of the Year

Editor’s Note: This is the text of the speech given by Dr. Rebecca Wison, Minden High principal, last week as she announced Tokia Whiting Harrirson as 2021 Minden Woman of the Year. We will feature Man of the Year Jake Chapman on Thursday.

Some of the people in this room tonight have many things going for them. For some of you, you may have had the right parents. Perhaps, you lived in the right part of town. Maybe, you got the right kind of education. Or even you were given the right kind of job. You have the right kind of friends. The right kind of family. The right kind of career. And you will probably have a pretty right life.

You see there are some people who have simply been given this right kind of life. This is at no fault or of no doing of that person. Things just seemed to happen for them.

And then there are other people in this room tonight who have continually fought for something better than what they have been given. Not only have they fought for themselves, but they fight for others.

The 2021 Young Women’s Service Club Woman of the Year is this kind of person. She is a fighter. She fights not only for herself and her family, but she fights for others.

Please listen to some of the statements made by people in our community:

She is one of the most selfless people I have ever met.
She has an infectious smile and a heart made of gold.
She sacrifices herself for the betterment of others.
She is an amazing role model for people of all ages.
She fights to make a difference for our city.

These comments about her were repeated by so many people because they simply reflect who she is.

As a single mother, she worked 3-4 jobs at a time. She fought to ensure her child was given every opportunity to be successful.

As a female in a male dominated profession, she frequently had to fight to prove herself…… and prove herself she did.

She is a trailblazer in her career as she has fought to overcome deep-rooted misconceptions.
And through it all, her fight has developed her character.

Her character is displayed in her hard work, her dedication, and her love for others and her community.

She once stated that she cannot pinpoint a favorite memory from her career because she loves what she does. She said, “Every day is my new favorite memory.”

As she patrols the streets and walks the halls of schools, she understands her calling. The calling to fight for others, to change lives, and to make a difference.

She recently told a student: “Don’t let failure or fear stop you from pursuing your dreams.” She went on to tell him, “No one is perfect. You are going to make mistakes. Others will make mistakes too. Show them the same grace that you want to be shown.”

It’s that mentality that has spurred on her fight to keep doing good.

She fights for everyone to have a chance to be better.

Recently, when given a compliment, she humbly blew it off. Her co-worker said to her, “Quit dimming your own light.”

Her response was that she is simply not good at receiving compliments because and I quote, “I want to please God. I don’t want the glory. I just want to live my life for God.”

You see, her fight to do good is because her desire is to reflect God.

She is truly a fighter and a role model who I want to be more like.

It is an honor and privilege to announce that our 2021 Woman of the Year is Lieutenant Tokia Whiting Harrison.

Two career firefighters retire from ‘The greatest job in the world’

By Bonnie Culverhouse

They describe it as “the greatest job in the world” – two retired Minden firefighters and assistant chiefs who have devoted their entire adult lives to fighting fires and saving lives. And even in their retirement, they still volunteer.

Collectively, John Tucker and Tommy John Hughes have been on the job for 80 years. Tucker took the civil service test before high school graduation; Hughes came onboard after realizing the grocery store business was not a career for him.

“If it weren’t for this man,” Hughes said, pointing to Tucker, “I would not have this job. He’s the one who convinced me to go to (Fire Chief T.C.) Bloxom and apply.”

Tucker trained in Hazmat; Hughes in fire origin.

The two remember two Kerr McGee (now Calumet) fires in the 1980s as a couple of the worst fires they fought.

“One of the tanks blew up and killed some folks,” Tucker recalled. “Felix Taylor and I had inch-and-a-halfs (hose), and we were putting out this little fire. This lead tank right beside us blew straight up a couple of miles, and it was so loud, it knocked us down. We jumped right up and ran straight into each other.”

Hughes said the Cotton Valley-based plant exploded a second time while employees were doing maintenance work.

“They think when they cranked up their saws, a spark ignited that tank and blew it up and killed three people,” Hughes said.

While they retrieved the deceased, they did not know them. It’s the ones they knew that continue to haunt them. They see their faces everywhere.

“The people you deal with that you know are the hardest,” Hughes said. “Some impact you more than others. We all deal with it in different ways. Some people don’t say anything, they just carry it with them.”

In addition to saving human lives, the two have pulled many animals out of the fire – some with a good outcome, others not so much.

“He did CPR on a cat and a dog,” Hughes said, pointing to Tucker.

“You find them in the house full of smoke and pull them out,” Tucker added. “Open their mouths and blow in them, turn them on their side give them CPR. I got dog slobber all over me.”

He remembers every one of them.

A fire department is a community, they said.

“We will argue and fight with each other, and that’s fine,” Hughes said. “But if somebody from the outside comes in here and fights you, well, you’ve got to fight all of us.”

Now that the two have retired, there are fewer practical jokes at Fire Station No. 1. Tucker was best known as perpetrator of most of those. He now drives a tour bus for Red River Tours in Shreveport.

Hughes prefers to relax in his off time and create things in his wood-working shop.

They have many great memories and stories, especially of Chief Bloxom and working in his hayfields to make ends meet. But George Mourad was their favorite fire captain.

“George was the same, no matter what,” Hughes said. “And he would do anything for you.”

Tucker said Chief Kip Mourad is like his dad.

“These guys are my best friends,” Mourad said. “When they came to me and told me they were going to retire on a certain date, I told them, ‘ok, you might be going to retire from full time, but you’re still going to be a volunteer.’”

Mourad said he and his friends are now past the age of gearing up and fighting fires. That’s for the next generation. But Tucker and Hughes still have so much to give to the department.

“Both of them have wisdom to impart on the younger ones,” Mourad said. “They can teach the young people. What you learn in your training, it’s from a book, but you get on a scene and follow either one of them, they can tell you things and teach you things you’ll never learn in a book.

“They both still love it and, like me, wish they could still do it,” he continued. “Not everybody loves it. If you do, you hate not to be able to do it anymore.”

And any given day, when Tucker is in town and Hughes isn’t busy relaxing, you can find them at Fire Station No. 1, sitting at the table Hughes made from a giant spool and a fire hydrant. They will share a cup of coffee and stories too numerous and lengthy to relate here, while reliving the best times of their lives.

Two city employees consider lawsuits

By Bonnie Culverhouse

As the Minden City Council continues to struggle to pass a budget – using words such as “compromise” and “transparency” as reasons – two persons sit on the sidelines, yet in the line of fire.

Economic Development Director Phillip Smart and Human Resources Director April Aguilar were promised raises – which they have received – when they were hired by Mayor Terry Gardner. Those raises are reflected in the proposed budget.

“The economic developer in the past was making $72,000 a year,” Gardner said. “The economic developer I hired is making $42,000 a year.”

According to the hiring agreement, once the employee, Smart, brought in a business with 10 full-time employees, he would get a $6,000 increase, bringing his salary to $48,000.

Augilar manages 200 employees at $50,000 a year.


“If you look at other municipalities, her salary should’ve been $80,000,” Gardner said. “I told her after she built the department and proved herself with the added responsibilities, I don’t think a $5,000 increase from $50- to $55,000 a year is excessive.”

Smart and Aguilar were given the raises once they satisfied the descriptions of their jobs.

District B Councilwoman Terika Williams-Walker, at a previous council meeting, admitted she did not vote for the budget because of the raises for the Economic Development director and the Human Resources director.

“There’s some things in there (budget) that need to be ironed out,” Walker said, as her reason for voting against it. “And the mayor’s aware of it. There are some employees that have not been here for a long period of time that are getting raises. That’s an issue.”

Walker and District C Councilman Vincen Bradford have maintained through the budget discussion that Gardner should not have promised raises to the persons in those positions.

It has put the two employees in an unwanted spotlight.

“If the only way they can pass the budget is that the mayor has to take the contract pay increases out, then of course, that opens up for litigation,” Smart said. “If the pay increases come out, it’s a breach of contract and would leave them open to a lawsuit.”

Smart went on to say that would include a loss of wages, humiliation and slander.

“I’ve had emails and phone calls from people saying I’m holding up the budget and it’s because of me,” Smart said. “Not only that, but it puts my family in a weird position. My wife hears it about it all the time.

“I heard my name and my title mentioned at the last council meeting more than 30 times,” he continued, adding he is now on anxiety medication.

Gardner said since he was hired, Smart has brought 58 new businesses to the area, 219 jobs and $20M in bricks and mortar.

“And I dumped the occupational license on him and did not give him an increase,” Gardner said. “It was not in his job description.”

Smart and Aguilar moved their families to Minden when they took these positions. Aguilar said she is also considering a lawsuit, if the contract is breached.

“It was a contract, and I’m happy to be here, knowing that increase would happen,” Aguilar said. “I’ve done a lot to build that department and help the City of Minden to stay in compliance.”

Aguilar said she has not received the same negativity from the public as Smart.

“There have been a few naysayers, some saying I’m just a pencil pusher, but they aren’t here every day and don’t know what I do,” she said. “The positive and the affirmation is what reminds me I’m doing a good job.”

Her job includes working with retirees, new hires, compliance laws and reworking a handbook that was created in the 1900s, ensuring it is legal. She meets with department heads to discuss the rules and how they are working. “And that’s not even half of what I do,” she added.

City attorney Jimbo Yocum rendered an opinion on the negotiations among Gardner, Smart and Aguilar. It reads in part:

“As Mayor, you act as the “CEO” for the City’s business and thus you are an “Agent” for the City and are tasked with conducting its day-to-day affairs and operations. Consequently, this responsibility includes hiring employees and performing any negotiations attached to their hiring. As an Agent of the City, the City is bound by the decisions and agreements which you enter into in your capacity as Mayor.”

Preferred Recovery Solutions makes the vehicle a reflection of the owner

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Vehicles are an investment of the owner, and Michael Stewart knows how to make each one a beautiful reflection of the person.

Working on vehicles from the time he was a child growing up in Dubberly, it was a natural move for Stewart to start his own business – Preferred Recovery Solutions.

“We have complete car care,” Stewart said. “This is the car detail and paint restoration side of the business. We are also authorized to handle Penske Truck Rentals.”

Preferred has been at its current address of 1839 Hwy. 531, Minden for one year.

Stewart owned a trucking company for the past 10 years, but decided he wanted to be “home” the last half of his life.

First came the Penske contract. Then Stewart found the spot just south of Interstate 20 on 531.

“We lease from Kary Bryce, and he’s helped us a tremendous amount,” Stewart said. “He’s been instrumental in us getting everything going for us.”

The property has a shop, so it was a natural progression for Stewart to return to the work he

“We’ve been doing the detail work and paint restoration for going on a year now,” he said.

Recently, Stewart made a trek to San Diego for training with Ceramic Pro, another company he brought to Minden.

“Ceramic Pro is the largest ceramic coating company in the world,” he said. “We spent a week there because I wanted to make sure I knew everything. We work on a lot of expensive cars and a lot of dealership cars.”

Now, Preferred Recovery also offers window tinting and ceramic coating on anything on a vehicle, whether it’s seats, carpet, glass, paint – “we have something to protect it,” Stewart said.

With the help of dedicated employees, their detail work is top notch, high-end.

Preferred Recovery Solutions takes a vehicle and applies detail work:
*Headlight Restoration
*Paint Restoration
*CeramicPro Coating
*Pick up/Delivery Available
*Like us on facebook for more information on our full line of services
*Learn more at

Stewart is also invested in the Minden community. He donates money/free services to the Minden St. Jude Auction, Local Rodeos, Local Churches as well as Local School Fundraisers. During the 2021 ice storm, his busines was closed but he wanted to help the community; and offered his Jeep Wrangler to transport essential medical employees from their homes to the jobs at local nursing homes and hospitals. This included taking an Oncology Registered Nurse to WK North and picking up a Respiratory Therapist at Ocshner LSU in Shreveport at no charge.

For more information about Preferred Recovery Solutions, call 318-268-6144.

Sheriff to address Minden Lions

This Thursday’s speaker for Minden Lions Club will be their own Lion Past President Jason Parker, Webster Parish Sheriff. Sheriff Parker will provide updates on several parish projects and initiatives, including a women’s detention facility and animal control.

The Minden Lions Club meets Thursdays at noon at the American Legion Memorial Home, located at 119 W. Pine St. in Minden.

Pitman named Glenbrook Homecoming Queen

Emma Pitman has been named Homecoming Queen for Glenbrook School.

The Webster Parish Journal will have the bios of all court members as well as an interview with Emma in the coming weeks.

Other court members are:

Reese Hanson

Football Sweetheart
Sarah Mosley

Spirit Princess
Anna Claire Lemoine

Senior Maid
Mary-Evelyn King

Junior Maid
Olivia Blackwelder

Sophomore Maid
Kalyn Williams

Freshman Maids
Hallie Harmon
Caroline Thurman

Glenbrook plays Plain Dealing for homecoming. There will be a week of festivities culminating in the Oct. 15 crowning of the queen.

A look back, a look ahead for Webster football teams

Week 4 is in the books, and our Webster Parish football teams are already looking toward midseason and district competition.

But before our Thursday previews of this week’s games, let’s take one more look at Friday’s competition.


The Tide traveled to Mansfield on Friday night for a matchup with the Wolverines. Things didn’t go Minden’s way, however, as they lost by a final score of 46-25.

Mansfield (3-1) started with the ball but would eventually be forced to punt after a Tide defensive stand, topped off by an Isaviyon Emerson sack.

The offense was finding its rhythm until Mansfield defensive back Trey Dewitt intercepted an Andrew Cooper pass attempt to put the Wolverines in prime field position.

Four plays and eighteen yards later, wide-receiver DQuinton Robinson was in for the Mansfield score.

At half-time, the score was a respectable 24-13 with Mansfield holding the lead and the Tide set to receive the 2nd-half kick-off.

Any hopes of a Minden comeback took a massive hit after Mansfield secured their second of three onside kicks and scored shortly after, raising their lead to 19.

Minden will try to brush this one under the rug, as next week they take to the road once again, this time to match up with the (2-2) Leesville Wampus Cats, who come off of a heartbreaking 32-35 loss to Pineville.


Going into Friday night’s contest, the Glenbrook Apaches knew they would have their hands full with the number 6 ranked team in 1A, the Homer Pelicans. Homer, fresh off a semi final appearance last season, came to Minden with a 2-1 record and trying to stay perfect in district play.

The visiting Pelicans jumped out early in the first quarter on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Takeviuntae Kidd to Devante Champ. The two-point conversion was no good, and the Pelicans led 6-0.

Great defensive efforts by both teams kept the rest of the first quarter scoreless.

The Kidd to Champ combination struck for a second time on the night with 10:53 left in the second quarter from 18 yards out. Once again the Apache defense denied the two point attempt, and the Pelicans led 12-0.

With 7:12 left in the third quarter, Andravious Buggs added another Pelican score to the board as he ran off right tackle into the end zone from 8 yards out. Kidd added the two-point conversion, and the Pelicans led 20-6.

The Apaches went 81 yards in 9 plays as Ty Feaster threw his second touchdown pass on the night, this time an 8-yard fade route to Turner Mclelland. Feaster then found Cason Clemons in the back of the end zone for the two-point conversion to cut the lead to 28-14 with 2:42 left to play in the game.

Down two scores with less than three minutes left, the Apaches executed their second successful onside kick on the night and set up shop on the Pelican 44 yard line.

The Apaches dialed up a perfect double pass from 32 yards out as Turner Mclelland took the backwards pass from Feaster and found a wide open DJ Carter sprinting down the sideline for the touchdown. The extra point was good and the Apaches cut the lead to 28-21 with 1:51 left to play.

After an unsuccessful onside kick attempt, the Pelicans gained possession and scored another touchdown and two point conversion to put the game out of reach at 36-21.

The Apaches will be on the road next week as they take on Magnolia Charter School at Independence Stadium on Friday at 7 p.m.

North Webster

North Webster hosted Jena Friday night in a matchup of 3A teams with lofty playoff aspirations. In what was a close, low-scoring contest for most of the night, Jena pulled away late for a 27-13 win at Baucum-Farrar Stadium in Springhill.

North Webster could never find their offensive rhythm on the night while Jena’s offense ate up chunks of clock.

The only score of the first half came in the opening quarter on a methodical drive for the Giants. The halftime score was 6-0 Jena.

The Knights trailed 21-0 in the fourth quarter before senior Jacobreious Walker returned a kick 70 yards for a score.

The Knights would add a second touchdown on a short pass from quarterback Colin McKenzie to tight end Jatareon Robinson. The touchdown ended what was a rough night offensively on a positive note.

The task for North Webster (2-2) is to shake back and be ready to go against a dangerous Jonesboro-Hodge team in Week 5.

The Knights will remain home at Baucum-Farrar Stadium as they look to get back to their winning ways.


A long touchdown pass and a pick-6 on the opening drives of the game propelled the 5A West Ouachita Chiefs to a 47-7 victory over the visiting 2A Lakeside Warriors Friday night at A.R. Red Sims Stadium.

Lakeside senior Kris Redden registered a sack while the score was still 0-0, and the crowd that traveled over from Sibley thought something special might be in the works.

Those hopes were dashed a couple plays later when Chiefs quarterback Mason Cobb lobbed a 46-yard touchdown pass to senior Mike Hall.

Trailing 7-0, Lakeside faced a long conversion attempt. The Warrior quarterback’s pass went high and into the hands of Chiefs’ safety Corey Totson, who returned the interception 46 yards for a score and a 14-0 lead with 8:47 to play in the opening quarter.

Lakeside’s Cade Boley caught a 13-yard pass on the next Warrior drive, but a penalty made a fourth down try too risky. Instead, Lakeside elected to punt, and the Chiefs answered. Several short runs set up a long play-action pass from Cobb to senior Chief receiver Chase White. The ground covered was 45 yards and the result was a touchdown.

The Warriors got on the board thanks to a C.J. Watt fumble recovery in the endzone. Before that lone Warrior score, Koby Mangrum forced a fumble and Cade Boley recovered. A 40-yard pass to Taurio Grigsby was nullified due to a penalty.

Despite the final score, the Warriors never stopped fighting.

Next up for Lakeside (2-1) is another long road trip. Week 5 will see the Warriors playing north of Bastrop against Beekman Charter.