Police seek info on robbery suspect

Please contact Minden Police if you have any information concerning this person or the vehicle he was driving.

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Minden Police are searching for a young black male who robbed Terry’s Rings & Things on Homer Road around 3:30 Thursday afternoon.

Chief Steve Cropper said the man, who is around 5’8” tall and 170 pounds, left the scene with several thousand dollars worth of jewelry. He was driving a 10- to 12-year-old silver Jeep Compass. He was wearing gray pants, black hoodie, black face mask and a New York Yankees ball cap.

“The suspect came in the store two times prior to the robbery Thursday,” Cropper said. “He brought in a watch to have the crystal repaired or replaced. He left the watch and a phone number. The third time he came in to check on the watch, he asked to see a white gold diamond wedding ring set and a diamond bracelet.”

Cropper said when the sales clerk took the jewelry out of the case and placed it on the counter, the suspect sprayed her with mace, grabbed the jewelry and left.

Detectives spent the afternoon viewing video from the store, as well as on Homer Road and Hwy. 531.

“We know he went toward 531 and turned toward I-20, but we don’t know which direction he took after he got to I-20,” said the chief. “Of course, we called the phone number and it came back to Jackson Hewitt (tax business) in Shreveport. We’re following up on that. There’s just not a lot to go on.”

The clerk was taken to Minden Medical Center where she was treated for the mace attack.

If anyone has information on the robbery or the whereabouts or identity of the suspect, please call Minden Police Department at 318-371-4226 and ask for a detective.

Job Fair and Career Expo upcoming

By Bonnie Culverhouse

It takes a village to help someone find that perfect job. That’s why Greater Minden Chamber of Commerce, Northwest Louisiana Technical Community College, City of Minden and Louisiana Workforce Commission have joined to ensure that happens.

Job Fair and Career Expo 2022 will take place from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. March 29 at NLTCC, 9500 Industrial Drive, Minden. 

According to Chamber CEO Jana Morgan, there are still spots available for businesses that want to be a hiring voice.

“There will be no charge to attendees of the job fair who are seeking employment,” Morgan said. “There is a nominal fee for prospective employers. Chamber members are $25 and future Chamber members pay $35.”

Job Fair registration forms are available on the Greater Minden Chamber website. Spaces are on a first-come, first-served basis.

This event is open to the public. Professionals of all levels and fields are highly encouraged to attend and participate. 

DAR February News 

Members of Dorcheat-Bistineau Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution attended the Regional Patriotic Luncheon at East Ridge Country Club in Shreveport. This year, the luncheon was hosted by Dorcheat-Bistineau, Claiborne Parish, and Bon Chasse chapters. Northwood High School Junior ROTC served as Color Guard. The program was led by Dorcheat-Bistineau Chapter Regent Kathy Johnson. Our special guest was Olivia Stringham of North Caddo Magnet High School. She won the regional DAR Good Citizens Essay Contest, and her essay will be sent to the state level. Our speaker was LTC Byron Lafield who presented the history of Junior ROTC. 

Members of our chapter attended the Northwest Louisiana Veterans Cemetery’s burial service for 13 Unaccompanied Veterans. The Caddo Coroner’s office and Veterans Service Officers worked diligently for years to locate the families of these veterans, but none were found. The veterans were buried with military honors, and members of the Ark-La-Tex area were invited attend because no veteran should be buried alone. Hundreds of people were in attendance at the outdoor ceremony on a rainy day.

Spencer Creech, son of our chapter registrar Donna Sutton, was elected to serve as a state officer in Louisiana Society Children of the American Revolution. This organization is for youth under the age of 22 who are descendants of patriots of the American Revolution.   C.A.R. develops leaders, trains good citizens, and promotes love of the United States and its heritage.

We are excited to welcome Laura McFarland as a new member of our chapter! Her father is a new member of Galvez Chapter Sons of the American Revolution in Shreveport, and Laura joined DAR on his lineage. Their patriot ancestor is John McFarland who was born in Ireland around 1750. John married Nancy Menees in 1783 in Fort Nashborough, which would later become Nashville, Tennessee. He was paid for services rendered during the Revolution, and the payment is recorded in North Carolina Revolutionary Army Accounts. He died on 24 May 1824 in Wilson County, Tennessee.

Any woman 18 years or older, regardless of race, religion, or ethnic background, who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution (1775-1783) is eligible to join DAR. For more information, please visit dar.org and our Facebook page: Daughters of the American Revolution – Dorcheat-Bistineau Chapter. 

Library sponsors Teen Gardening Club

Webster Parish Library’s Minden branch is starting a Teen Gardening Club for young aspiring gardeners.

First meeting is 4 p.m. February 28, at the main branch, 521 East & West St., Minden.

The Teen Gardening Club will meet in the Stewart Center once a month to discuss gardening tips, favorite plants, helpful books and information. High on the list is the hope of starting a community gardening. There will be door prizes!

Call Aubrie at 318-371-3080, ext. 135 for details.

North Webster’s Ware brings home LHSAA gold 

North Webster High School’s Peyten Ware won the LHSAA Indoor Track and Field Division II girls pole vault state championship Saturday in Baton Rouge at LSU’s Carl Maddox Field House.

Ware, a Northwestern State signee, vaulted 11-1.75. She also finished fourth in the Division II long jump with a best of 16-7.25.

After Ware collected her gold medal and stepped off the awards podium, she crossed the track to hug her father, North Webster head football coach John Ware.

“He cried,” Peyten said of her father. “He probably won’t like me saying that, but he cried. This was my biggest dream, and his.”

Upcoming Events 

February 24

5:30 p.m. Council Chambers at Minden City Hall. Retail businesses and restaurants: Find out how national TV coverage may impact your business. 

February 26

9 a.m. until noon: Registration starts at 8:30 a.m. Buds and Blooms Gardening Seminar, sponsored by Piney Hills LA Master Gardeners, at First United Methodist Church. All proceeds go to support local student 4–H projects.

March 5

Jonquil Jubilee Garden Tour, Gibsland, La.

April 5

Greater Minden chamber’s Annual Awards Gala, celebrating 80 years. Presented by Minden Medical Center.

April 15-17

Spring Highway 80 sale between Minden and Dixie Inn.

May 7

9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Tradition with a Twist Quilt Show presented by Piney Needles Quilt Guild. South Main Mall, Springhill. Free admission.

  • If you have a non-profit event: church, school or community, please email it to wpjnewsla@gmail.com.* Webster Parish Journal reserves the right to determine if a calendar item is a paid advertisement.

Stonewall woman arrested in Webster Parish 

By Bonnie Culverhouse

A fugitive from Caddo Parish is in a Webster Parish jail on multiple charges.

Jessica Oberly Durbin, 39, of Stonewall, was arrested by Minden Police Saturday and is charged with obstruction of justice, possession of natural Marijuana and possession of a controlled dangerous substance in the presence of juveniles.

Chief Steve Cropper said Lt. Chris Hammontree, Sgt. Mitch Hacket and K-9 officer Tigo were dispatched to Homer Road in reference to a man who fell from a vehicle.

“Lt. Hammontree located the scene on Hwy. 531 almost 400 feet from Homer Road,” Cropper said. “A male subject was on the ground, bleeding profusely from his head.”

Witnesses reportedly told officers the subject exited a vehicle while it was traveling at a high rate of speed.

“The witnesses directed officers to the vehicle, which was occupied by Durbin in the driver’s seat,” said the chief. “Her juvenile daughter was in the backseat. A different witness told officers he saw Durbin hiding a large bag of Marijuana in the back of the vehicle before officers arrived on the scene.”

Officers mirandized Durbin. When she exited her vehicle, they reportedly observed a Glock handgun under the left side of the driver’s seat.

“Durbin told the officers she was a felon and the gun belonged to the male subject,” Cropper said. “She told them the two were having an argument on Homer Road headed south into Minden with the male driving the vehicle.

“She said the subject got out of the vehicle with the keys in his hand, but she had an extra set, so she got in the driver’s seat and pulled off,” the chief continued. “At some point, the man got back into the vehicle, then changed his mind and wanted out. When Durbin refused to stop, he jumped from the vehicle.”

When asked about the drugs, Durbin reportedly told officers they belonged to the male subject.

“Tigo was used to perform an open air sniff of the vehicle, and he alerted to the odor of illegal narcotics inside the vehicle,” Cropper said. “During a search, officers located a baggie containing 22.24 grams of natural Marijuana hidden in a radio box in the back cargo area. There was also a used pink Methamphetamine pipe in the driver’s side door pocket.”

The male subject was transported to Minden Medical Center but was then transferred to Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport with a skull fracture.

Shreveport man takes STEP to jail 

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Working the Safety Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) on Interstate 20 netted Minden Police a Shreveport man on drug charges.

Charles Asante Reynolds, 23, of Clay Street in Shreveport, was arrested Sunday afternoon and is charged with possession of natural Marijuana and possession of a firearm with a controlled dangerous substance.

Chief Steve Cropper said Off. Jared McIver was working I-20 when he initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle traveling 84 miles per hour in a 70-mph-zone.

“Upon contact with the driver, Off. McIver noticed the odor of Marijuana,” Cropper said. “Lt. Chris Hammontree and Off. Ben Sparks arrived on scene to assist and they also noticed the odor. The driver, Reynolds, provided Off. McIver with an ashtray full of burnt Marijuana cigars. He also advised officers there was a firearm in the glove box.”

McIver reportedly secured the firearm, a Taurus 9MM loaded with five rounds of ammunition.

“Lt. Hammontree received consent to search the vehicle and he located a baggie of natural Marijuana – 22.15 grams – in the sunglasses holder in the headliner of the vehicle,” said the chief. “Reynolds told officers he had purchased the Marijuana four days ago and forgotten about it. He was arrested and the vehicle was released to a female passenger.”

Arrest Reports 

February 20

Robert Ray Owen, 55, of the 500 block of 5th St. SE, Springhill, was arrested by Webster Parish Sheriff’s deputies for theft and trespassing.

February 21

Jacqueline S. Ellis, 22, of the 700 block of Moore St., Minden, was arrested by Minden Police for obstruction of justice.

Dustin W. Vincent, 28, of the 100 block of Hickory Hollow, Doyline, wa arrested Webster Parish Sheriff’s deputies on 4 counts of aggravated assault and simple battery.

Curtis Rabb, 28, of the 600 block of Constable St., Minden, was arrested for aggravated flight, no brake lights, possession of Marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of Sched. IV and possession of a firearm in presence of controlled dangerous substance.

February 22

Meiyko Kaquan Williams, 27, of the 400 block of Lee St., Cullen, was arrested by Webster Parish Sheriff’s deputies on an outstanding bench warrant.

February 23

Teadrien Burris, 24, of the 800 block of Peach St., Minden, was arrested by WPSO on an active bench warrant.

Ashley N. Faulk, 36, of Minden, was arrested by WPSO for disturbing the peace.

Laura M. Faulk 28, of Shongaloo, was arrested by WPSO for disturbing the peace.

Notice of Death – February 23, 2022 

Josie P. Kilgore

Oct. 16, 1933 – Feb, 21, 2022

Visitation: noon until 1 p.m. Friday, Feb. 25, 2022 at Anchor of Hope Church, Springhill

Funeral: 2 p.m. at the church

Burial: Cotton Valley Cemetery, Cotton Valley, La.


Albert Austin Wise

Nov. 1, 1934 – Feb. 22, 2022

Visitation: 10-11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022, New Era United Methodist Church, Emerson, Ark.

Funeral: 11 a.m. at the church, following visitation


Lillie Manervia Chisholm Harper

May 25, 1928 – Feb. 18, 2022

Graveside service: 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022 at Old Town Cemetery, intersection of La. 534 and Triplet Rd., Haynesville, La.

Thursday meeting for retailers of all types

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Retailers, restaurant owners and hostelers may want to be involved in a meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

Greater Minden Chamber of Commerce and Webster Parish Tourism officials will be on hand, along with other community officials, to talk about the expected upcoming onslaught of tourists following HGTV’s airing of Hometown Kickstart, featuring Minden.

“We don’t want to see local businesses run out of merchandise and have to close,” Mayor Terry Gardner said. “We want community leaders like at the Chamber of Commerce, Tourism, the museum, places like that to have spin off meetings with downtown merchants.”

Gardner said he spoke with the mayor of Wetumpka, Ala., where HGTV had a similar project last year. 

“He said they were not ready for what would happen after the series aired,” Gardner said. “Tourism increased 600 percent and sales taxes were up 300 percent.”

Thursday’s meeting will take place in council chambers at Minden City Hall.

Retired sheriff tries new procedure 

Sheriff Gary Sexton, now retired, speaks from the Webster Parish Courthouse steps while he was in office. 

By Linnea Allen, KTBS-3

Retired Webster Parish Sheriff Gary Sexton found that he was slowing down. Usually spry and full of energy, Sexton was told it was his heart.

“I had just got to where I just didn’t have any energy, and was diagnosed about three years ago with a blockage in what I call the widowmaker, the main artery of the heart,” Sexton said.

He had stents put in. But after a few years his cardiologist, Dr. Jimmy Smith, told him he needed heart bypass surgery.

“I wasn’t really crazy about the open heart surgery,” Sexton said. “I’m a very active person and wasn’t crazy about them opening my chest.”

His surgeon, Dr. Timothy Danish, with Christus Shreveport-Bossier Health had an offer.

“He said, ‘I want you to think about something.’ And I said okay, and he sat down and he explained to me about the robotic bypass surgery. I had never heard of it. And he said, ‘It’s never been done in the Shreveport Bossier area.’ He said it’s been done. But he said we hadn’t done it over here,” Sexton said.

Danish told Sexton to go home and think about it.

“I’d never left his office and I told him, I said, ‘Doc, If it’ll keep you from opening my chest,’ I said, ‘there’s no thinking about it,” he said. “Let’s do the robotic bypass.’”

So, Sexton became the first patient in our area to undergo a robotic coronary artery single vessel bypass graft.

“The bypass itself is performed through a very small cut that’s between the ribs,” explained Danish. “And so, they avoid the open chest essentially, that’s the biggest part of it.”

Robotic surgery does not mean a machine performs the surgery.

“I’m the one that controls every single detail of what the robot does,” Danish said. “The way that the robot helps me is that the camera is extremely high quality. It actually gives us 3D vision inside someone’s body.”

The robot is actually an extension of the surgeon’s arms. It’s a high-tech tool that highly magnifies the surgical field so surgeons see better. It also eliminates surgeon fatigue and is more precise.

“With a robotic approach, the whole goal is to get them back to normal,” Danish said. “So back to work in just a few weeks, and back to their normal life.”

Sexton had the surgery on a Thursday and went home Sunday.

“And within a week’s time I was back, cutting and splitting firewood,” Sexton said. “It was just amazing how quick the recovery was.”

“The procedure went very well. He’s made an amazing recovery. In fact, we saw him a couple weeks ago in clinic and we had trouble even finding his incisions on his chest,” Danish said. “It a really cool thing for us to see. We were very excited about that. He healed very well.”

Sexton says before the surgery, he would get tired and have to sit down after walking about 50 yards on his farm. Now he’s walking two miles with no problem.

Danish says right now, heart bypass operations are the only ones they are doing robotically. But, he expects they’ll soon be doing valve surgeries, as well.

(Republished with permission from KTBS.)

Dr. Timothy Danish

The MVPs of Mardi Gras 

How we made it through Mardi Gras parades without them, only our excretory systems know for sure.

Those were archaic and tawdry times.

Today, we are more civilized out there on the parade highways and byways, all thanks to the upright and rectangular 3-D miracles of translucent roofs and vents, and the miraculous pairing of high-density aluminum and polyethylene.

They are no question the MVPs of the Mardi Gras parade season.

Most Valuable Potties.

Look at them, will you? Admire them. Lay flowers and rolls of toilet paper at their feet, which is probably a worn spot in the grass where quick-stepping, over-served revelers hurried to take advantage of their favors.

They are the figurative port in the storm. Or the literal Port-O-Let in the storm.

A mere few feet off the parade route, they stand there as silent sentries, loyal soldiers, dutiful and dependable, ready if called upon, available but not obvious.

On the streets and in our ’hood they go by names like “Honey Bucket” or “Porta-Loo” or “Johnny-on-the-Spot.” The business community that makes a living renting, servicing and supplying these crucial devices to the Great Unwashed call them portable toilets or chemical toilets.

But the way most of us first came to appreciate them was when we heard the phrase “Port-o-Let” or “Port-a-Jon” or “Porta Potty.” It should come as no surprise that each starts with a “P.”

Poetic justice is served.

Hemingway said once that Paris is “a moveable feast.” Had the outhouse of his day been mobile, he’d have said the same thing of the Port-o-Let.

The street where I live is perpendicular to the four-lane that marks the end of the route of Shreveport-Bossier’s two largest parades. By largest, I mean a quarter-million of our closest friends turn out to enjoy what krewes have worked (and played) all year to assemble. There are smaller parades in town and in the area, but these two pulled in the most bladders.

Thus, the Potty Patrol is needed. Down that otherwise unassuming street that marks the parades’ end, these portable must-haves stand stately for a quarter mile, maybe a bit more. They are rented by people who have reserved “spots” along the route, and the envied contraptions will be picked up next week. But right now, they are assurance and insurance for the renters, who can sleep well, knowing that on The Big Day, help will be just one opening of a plastic door away.

If you didn’t rent one and you need to “go,” well, you’ll find out who your friends are come parade time. You think you’re No. 1 and might just find out that you’re No. 2.

Sad, but such is the human condition. There will come a time when relief is demanded for the laboring kidney, the anxious bladder, the suspect colon. Those who fail to prepare are prepared to fail, and this is the kind of failure that does not go quietly into that dark night.

When Mardi Gras in our area was new, in pre-Port-o-Let days of yore, the make-believe portable potty was a shrub, a shadowed tree, the side of an unassuming garage.

That was rural fare. Tacky. We’ve since come a long way.

Who could have known then that instead of going to the bathroom, the bathroom would one day come to us. And usually, not a second too soon.

Contact Teddy at teddy@latech.edu

Leavings and Longings 

Our lives are filled with leavings and longings. We all experience them at some point in our lives. We leave our jobs. We leave to move to another city. We leave relationships. We leave places we love and leave behind people we love. Sometimes we are asked to leave and sometimes other people leave for various reasons unknown to us.

But, in the leaving, what is left behind is often a longing. We long for the place we used to live. We long for relationships that were lost. We long for answers as to why all this happened. We long for the places and people we had to leave behind to walk a new path. These leavings and longings uproot our lives. It changes things and it changes us.

In Mark 4:35-41, we find the familiar story of Jesus calming the storm. In my own leavings and longings, I found myself meditating on the beginning of this story in verses 35-36a. Jesus says to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind , they took him along, just as he was in the boat. They went to the other side and Jesus went with them.

I recently experienced my own leaving. Jesus led me to leave behind a place and people I dearly loved. It had become a place, of what I like to call, comfortable chaos. It had become so familiar to me for the past three years, I just settled in and got comfortable there. I knew for awhile I was being led by the Spirit to go to the “other side.” I knew that being comfortable, especially in chaos, was not where God wanted me to be. So eventually, I left the crowd behind and went with Jesus to the other side. Even though I had to leave, my heart still longs for the place where I once was.

I find myself now still in the boat on the shore, not quite ready to get out. I am still grieving and longing, but Jesus is with me offering me hope, peace, and rest. The lessons in the leavings and longings are hard and good all at the same time. I am grateful in my grief for those lessons. Soon I will be ready to get out of the boat and when I do, Jesus is with me and goes before me.

I leave you with this question to ponder. Are you being called to the “other side” by Jesus? He patiently waits for you to be ready and when you are, He will be with you in your leavings and longings and every place in between.

Your fellow sojourner, Jennifer Thomas

Breakfast meal prep tips 

By Shakera Williams, M.P.H., Assistant FCS Nutrition Extension Agent – General & SNAP- ED, Webster/Claiborne Parish

Breakfast doesn’t have to be limited to breakfast foods! Choose healthy foods you like, even if you prefer foods in the morning that aren’t typically eaten at breakfast. Try one of these easy tips below!

Breakfast Tip # 1: For quick breakfasts on-the go, keep Greek yogurt and fruit in the refrigerator, whole grain English muffins in the freezer, and oats in the pantry. When you don’t have time to meal prep, you have several other breakfast options.

Breakfast Tip # 2: Pick one weekend day and designate a few hours to meal plan, grocery shop, and meal prep. If you can’t do it all at once split up the process over several days. Plan ahead and schedule time to plan your week.

Breakfast Tip # 3: Spend an afternoon making a large batch of breakfast sandwiches or burritos and freeze them individually. On busy mornings, thaw, and heat in the microwave. 

Breakfast Tip # 4: Make a large batch of smoothies over the weekend and freeze them in individual portions. Each night, thaw one in the refrigerator and enjoy the next morning! note: may require additional thawing in microwave in the morning.

The Notebook 

By Robert St. John

It doesn’t take much to make me happy these days. My wife might argue with that statement, but it’s true. It’s not that I have reached some state of self-actualization and have rocketed up to the summit of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs or anything like that. It’s just that— surprisingly— monetary and material things have taken a backseat to the spiritual and relational things in my life over the past several years. It’s a good place to be.

There was a time in my life in which I was a major consumer of everything and the race to achieve more things— money, power, and stuff— was a very high priority. I really don’t need much of anything these days. If I have my family, friends, work relationships, and a creative outlet to let me do the things I enjoy most— such as open and operate restaurants and travel with others turning them on to things I have discovered over the years— I’m good to go.

That makes today all that more special. This morning I received one of the greatest gifts I have received in years.

But first, a little back story is warranted. Linda Nance Roderick is the former executive chef of the Purple Parrot Cafe. She and I have worked together in various capacities over the last 20 years. For many of those years we worked together creating exciting menus and experiences in a fine-dining environment. We have also worked together on several cookbooks. If you look in the front section of the first four or five cookbooks I wrote you will see that the very first name listed under the thank-you section is Linda. She has been a chief recipe tester from day one.

The recipe testing process is a joint effort between the cookbook author and the team assigned to help with the recipe testing. I have a new breakfast cookbook coming out this fall. The recipe testing for that book started several weeks ago. I sat down with Linda and former Purple Parrot Sous Chef Scott Strickland, passed out recipes, and talked them through the required ingredients, and the processes needed for those recipes. We also covered the recipe testing schedule. All the testing for this cookbook will be done at the Midtowner, our breakfast-lunch restaurant, because we can go in after hours and do everything that needs to be done without getting in the way of a fully operating and busy restaurant.

There is a drawer in my desk that holds all my original recipes from as far back as 1987. It includes the very first recipe I ever developed, and all the recipes created in the first 10 years of my restaurant career. Most of the recipes were handwritten on yellow legal pads or typed out on the typewriter we used to keep in the office. All those early recipes were created before I owned a computer. Some were on notecards. Many are the paper copies that our prep cooks used that are almost stained beyond legibility. After three or four years I was able to afford a laminating machine and after that all our recipes were laminated.

That drawer has basically been my recipe junk drawer for over three decades. I knew enough to hold on to those recipes. But there was no rhyme, reason, or organization. I just kept throwing recipes in on top of other recipes. They have long since been entered into the computer in the restaurant office and on a separate hard drive for safekeeping. But the originals are still in my drawer. Some are typed but most are in my handwriting which in my late twenties was much better than it is today.

As Linda and I were discussing various recipes she was also doing some side work costing out the menus at all the restaurants. She needed a few original recipes before they had been tweaked over the years. I looked down in the drawer that holds all those original recipes and grabbed several handfuls and put them in a box. I hated to add to her workload, but it would have to be done if a detailed costing of the menu was going to be completed. Then we moved on to recipe testing for the breakfast cookbook.

This morning I got a call from Linda, and she said, “Are you going to be in the office today?”

“Yes,” I said.

“I have something for you,” she said.

As I pulled up to the office, she got out of her car carrying a massive three-binder notebook probably five-inches thick. She handed it to me, and it included all the recipes I had given her from the early days out of the recipe junk drawer. They were all categorized by salads, seasonings, sauces, lamb, pork, soup, veggies, bread, desserts, etc., all laminated and all notated.

Linda’s mother, Bernice, had spent the last several weeks doing this. I can’t think when I have received a more meaningful gift. It is my early career organized, and in one place. Many of the recipes are still stained from those early days before we could afford a laminator. Most people would throw something like that away. To me they are precious documents and a reminder of those days when I was working 90 hours a week in the kitchen, paying myself $250 a week before taxes, and loving every minute of it.

I love creating and developing restaurants there’s nothing more exciting, exhilarating, tiring, and stressful than opening a new restaurant. I just completed the 22nd opening of my career. As with the rest it was exciting and stressful. Though there is something about that first restaurant. I’ve had this discussion with several restaurateurs. Over the years budgets grow larger, equipment is more extensive, menu items are more complicated and creative, but there is something unique about that first time.

When I opened that first restaurant in 1987 the people who were hired were all around my age. We were a tight group of friends and coworkers. These days I am older than most of our team members parents. It doesn’t make them any less important or less special, every one of the 400 people who work for New South Restaurant Group are vital to our daily survival. But that original group— when I opened a restaurant along with two other guys with a $25,000 stake I gained from selling a piece of land my grandfather left me— were the most unique. There’s only one first time, ever.

So, I now have a notebook that memorializes those days. That initial restaurant started out at 6000 square feet. We just wanted to open one white tablecloth restaurant. Eventually we opened a New Orleans-themed restaurant, and a neighborhood bar next to each other in the same building. Today those entities have grown into a 15,000 square foot building, and— at the core— there is little of the original restaurant that remains. The one thing that does remain are the recipes and memories in this notebook that a special lady took the time, under her own volition, to organize and document. It is a physical embodiment of how I got started in this career that has given me so much pleasure, enjoyment, and fulfillment. If there’s ever a fire in my office, I will grab a few legal documents in my desk drawer, a couple of photographs of my kids, and this notebook. I don’t know if my children or grandchildren or great grandchildren will ever be interested in it. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t, but to me, it is priceless.


Dirty Rice Cakes with Crawfish Mardi Gras Mix

The rice cakes can be made two days in advance, the topping one day in advance. After you have browned the dirt rice cakes, you can hold them in the refrigerator for up to two days.

3 cups dirty rice, cooled

1 /4 cup green onion, chopped

2 Tbl parsley, chopped

2 eggs, beaten

1 /4 cup coarse bread crumbs

1 cup Italian bread crumbs

1 /4 cup unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350.

In a food processor, pulse 1 1 /2  cups of the dirty rice (Do not make a paste, the rice should just begin to resemble coarse bread crumbs).

Place pureed rice in a mixing bowl with the remaining rice, green onions, parsley, eggs and plain bread crumbs crumbs. Mix well.

Form into 1 1 /2-inch round patties approximately 3 /4-inch thick. Gently bread the cakes using the Italian bread crumbs.

In a large sauté pan, melt butter over medium heat and brown cakes on both sides. Place browned cakes on a baking sheet.

Bake the cakes for 8-10 minutes.

Top warm rice cakes with crawfish mixture and heat for 5 more minutes.

Place on serving dish and top with a small dollop of red-pepper aioli.

Yield: 20 cakes

Crawfish Mardi Gras Mix

1 Tbl olive oil

1 /2 cup red onion, minced

1 /4 cup red pepper, diced

1 /4 cup green pepper, diced

1 tsp garlic, minced

1 tsp salt

1 tsp creole seasoning

1 /4 pound cleaned crawfish tails, chopped fine

2 Tbl sour cream

1 Tbl parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat> Add onion, peppers, garlic, salt, and creole seasoning and cook 4-5 minutes. Let cool. Combine cooled vegetables, crawfish, sour cream and parmesan cheese.

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

Flournoy to speak to Lions

Guest speaker for Thursday’s noon meeting of the Minden Lions Club will be Dr. Robert W. Flournoy of Ruston. Dr. Flournoy has spent the past 50 years as a medical/environmental toxicologist. His topic will be how various vitamins, minerals and dietary supplements benefit our physical and metal well-being.

Dr. Flournoy was invited and will be introduced by Lion Dr. Richard Campbell, who was a pharmacology student under Dr. Flournoy while at Louisiana Tech.

The Prospector’s pen 

Sam was born in Missouri in 1835, the sixth of seven children.  His father, John, was an attorney and judge in Hannibal during Sam’s childhood.  In 1847, when Sam was 11-years-old, his father died “after a protracted and painful illness,” which was later revealed as pneumonia.  In the following year, Sam quit school and went to work for the Hannibal Journal, a newspaper owned by his older brother Orion.

Beginning in 1859, newspapers reported the discovery of the Comstock Lode, a rich gold and silver ore deposit located in the Virginia mountain range in Virginia city, Nevada.  The Comstock Lode was the first major discovery of silver ore in the United States.  News of the find quickly spread across America and beyond.  It created an excitement reminiscence of the California Gold Rush ten years earlier.  Droves of prospectors flocked to Virginia City to make their fortune.  The population quickly rose from a few hundred and peaked at around 25,000 residents.  Businesses in Virginia City flourished and new businesses opened seemingly overnight with much success. 

In March of 1861, during a two-hour Executive session, the Senate confirmed numerous nominations for office including Orion’s nomination as the Secretary of the Nevada Territory.  Orion’s appointment required him to move to Nevada.  Rather than going alone, Orion and Sam decided to move to Nevada together.  As Secretary, Orion would work under Nevada’s governor, James W. Nye, and Sam planned to make his fortune as a prospector in the gold and silver mines.  It would be an adventure. 

Sam and Orion gathered their belongings and began the journey to Nevada.  For more than two weeks, Orion and Sam rode in a dusty, bumpy, and swaying Concord stagecoach.  Rather than a hard iron suspension, the Concord stagecoach had an improved suspension system which employed leather straps to produce a swinging motion when the coach was in motion.  Sam later described the ride on the Concord stagecoach as being like “a cradle on wheels.”  Another Concord stagecoach traveler described a “ride [which] will always live in my memory – but not for its beauty spots.”  He and the other passengers were “jammed like sardines on the hard seats.”  When traveling over rough terrain which required the stagecoach to creep along at a snail’s pace, the passengers would get out of the coach and “foot it” for relaxation.   The coachman made frequent stops to exchange horses with fresh ones and the closer they got to Nevada, the more stories they heard about minors becoming wealthy.  They trekked over 1700 miles from the Great Plains, over the Rocky Mountains, through Salt Lake City, and eventually arrived at the boomtown of Virginia City. 

Almost immediately, Sam began working to unearth his fortune.  He toiled for months at the backbreaking labor but never found his fortune.  Unlike a lot of prospectors who continued searching in almost a maniacal fashion, Sam was smart enough to know that prospecting was not for him.  He needed a job.  His experience working for the newspaper owned by his brother enabled him to find employment at Virginia City’s Territorial Enterprise newspaper.  Two years later, in 1865, Sam had his first significant success as a writer when he published “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”  He wrote a book called “Roughing It” based on his experiences in the American West.  Sam is most well known for two books based on his own childhood entitled “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” and “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”  However, we know Sam under a different name.  It was in 1863, in Virginia City’s Territorial Enterprise, the job Sam took when his prospecting career failed, where Samuel Clemens first used his pen name, …Mark Twain.


1.  Palmyra Weekly Whig (Palmyra, Missouri), April 1, 1847, p.3.

2.  The Daily Exchange (Baltimore, Maryland), March 29, 1861, p.3.

3.  Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York), March 30, 1876, p.3.

4.  Reading Times (Reading, Pennsylvania), January 18, 1884, p.2.

Things anglers should or should never do 

All our lives we have heard of things we should “never do,” things like never play with matches, never kiss a girl on the first date, never ride in the back of a pickup truck, never run with a knife, never run at the pool… and the list goes on and on. Our parents took the time to teach us these, and many others, that you should and should not do. Now we did not always follow their teachings, but at least we were told. It was your own fault if you went against these teachings and got hurt. As we all know, it’s human nature to disregard the advice of our parents. It was more fun to be a rebel, no matter what the consequences were.  Bass fishermen are no different, and today we’ll go over a few things you should never do as an angler.

Let’s first start with launching the boat. This can be a circus to watch, as you know, if you’ve spent much time around a boat ramp. You could make some really funny YouTube blooper videos with some of the antics I’ve seen at a boat ramp. But the most important thing to remember…never block the boat ramp while launching your boat. I’ve seen this so many times; an angler backs his boat down to the ramp and then starts to put all of his gear in the boat!  Major no-no!!! Load your boat BEFORE you back it down to the ramp!!!!

Next, always wear your life jacket. This is a must, no matter how much experience you have. Unfortunately, this is something some people ignore. Just like driving a car and wearing your seatbelt, sometimes things happen beyond your control that can result in serious injury or even death.  Even the pro’s, who basically run a boat every day, wear their life jackets all the time. Too many deaths have occurred on our waterways due to people not wearing their life jackets. Today, there are more anglers on the water than ever before, many who are young and inexperienced. Don’t take a chance, put your life jacket on!

On a lighter note, never go fishing without snacks. This is a major no- no as well. Snacks can turn a bad day into a not-so-bad day, especially when the fish aren’t biting. Here are a few items I like to bring every time I hit the water. Number one for me is a turkey sandwich. Now I have a special bread I use for my turkey sandwiches. I really like the Hawaiian Bread sub rolls, along with either a good Hellman’s low-fat mayo or mustard. Most tournaments I’ll bring one for my co-angler and I’ve had several that have said they would like to marry me after they’ve eaten one of these. But I always tell them that I’m already married to the best lady on planet earth…. sorry!!!  If I don’t have any sub rolls, I’ll just take a sandwich bag full of smoked turkey or sliced Honey Baked Ham. But there’s one thing I will always have in the boat…beef jerky. This is a great filler food that will hold you over until you get back to the house.

Obviously, these are just a few of the thing’s anglers should never do. Of the three I’ve listed today, none is more important than wearing your life jacket and yet, there will be someone who will totally ignore what I’ve just written. Next week we’ll look at more things that anglers “should or should never do.” Till then, good luck, good fishing and don’t forget to set the hook! Make sure to check out Tackle Talk Live every Tuesday at 11:30 on our Facebook or You Tube channel.   

Steve Graf     

Upcoming Events 

February 24

5:30 p.m. Council Chambers at Minden City Hall. Retail businesses and restaurants: Find out how national TV coverage may impact your business. 

February 26

9 a.m. until noon: Registration starts at 8:30 a.m. Buds and Blooms Gardening Seminar, sponsored by Piney Hills LA Master Gardeners, at First United Methodist Church. All proceeds go to support local student 4–H projects.

March 5

Jonquil Jubilee Garden Tour, Gibsland, La.

April 5

Greater Minden chamber’s Annual Awards Gala, celebrating 80 years. Presented by Minden Medical Center.

April 15-17

Spring Highway 80 sale between Minden and Dixie Inn.

May 7

9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Tradition with a Twist Quilt Show presented by Piney Needles Quilt Guild. South Main Mall, Springhill. Free admission.

  • If you have a non-profit event: church, school or community, please email it to wpjnewsla@gmail.com.* Webster Parish Journal reserves the right to determine if a calendar item is a paid advertisement.