Sarepta fire claims life of 8-year-old boy

By Paige Nash

An 8-year-old boy has passed away due to a mobile home fire in Sarepta that occurred early Monday morning, January 30.  

The Sarepta Fire District 5 responded to a call at approximately 1:30 a.m. at the 700 block of Church Street. Two adults and three children were sleeping in the home when the two adults were awakened by a strong smell of smoke.  The adults were able to escape from a side door with the two youngest children. The 8-year-old was in his bedroom that was located at the opposite end of the home, where the fire is believed to have started.  

Following a preliminary investigation of the scene and collecting witness statements, the State Fire Marshall deputies determined the fire was started by a space heater that was left running in the room that was possibly too close to the child’s bedding and caught fire.  

The two adults and younger children who were able to escape safely only suffered minor smoke inhalation.  

The child’s mother on Facebook Monday asked for prayers for the family and the two younger siblings of the victim.  

“This is the second space heater-related fire death from the past few days and both losses of life are of vulnerable individuals,” said State Fire Marshal Dan Wallis, “We not only have to educate ourselves about safe home heating practices, but we need to be sure every member of our household knows how to stay warm safely and understands why it’s important to follow safe home heating tips.” 

The second incident took place in Ponchatoula on Friday, January 27. A 77-year-old man who was bedridden passed away in a house fire that was also caused by a space heater being left unattended too close to bedding or clothing.  

The wife was able to get her husband into a wheelchair and out of the house, but he later passed away from his injuries at a nearby hospital.  

A Go Fund Me page has been established to help with funeral expenses.

Scheduled training will bring law enforcement to town

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Those passing First Baptist Church of Minden Thursday may be alarmed over the number of law enforcement vehicles on site.

Webster Parish Sheriff Jason Parker wants everyone to know those vehicles are there for a good reason.

“We are hosting a training day and are expecting more than 150 law enforcement officers from 28 agencies all the way from south Arkansas to Breaux Bridge, Louisiana,” Parker said. 

Parker has a number of deputies registered, and Minden Police Chief Jared McIver said he has five officers planning to attend.

“It’s an all-day training session that will focus on at least three things,” Parker said. “Those things include bias-based diversity training, use of force and situational awareness.”

Despite recent national events, Parker said the local training session has been “in the works” since October 2022.

“We are serious about training at the sheriff’s office,” he added. “We are allowing these other agencies to come in free of charge, and a meal will be provided by First Baptist.”

Bossier Parish deputy Jeremy Haas from the BP academy, will conduct the training.

“He is a master instructor in POST certification with the state,” Parker said.  “He’s testified in court many times on these subjects – he’s very well qualified for this training because he knows the laws specific to our state.

“This will be good for the parish, the department and hopefully law enforcement officers around the area,” he continued.

Training will take place from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Thursday, February 2.

Calvert steps down from tourism board

By Paige Nash

Karen Calvert has decided to immediately step down from her position on the Webster Parish Convention and Tourism Commission, making the January 25 meeting her last one. 

“I am stepping down, but I have just loved being on the board,” said Calvert. “I just don’t feel like I am as involved as I should be. We are not here a lot, and we are about to be gone even more. The thing I am going to miss is all of you. We work so well together.” 

Calvert said after having a discussion with District 3 police juror Daniel Thomas, they decided this would be the best option. 

Calvert had a recommendation on who to appoint to fill her now open seat, but nothing has been decided at this time. This will be discussed further and decided at a later date.  

That now leaves two open seats on the commission since the position previously occupied by Nick Cox as a representative for the Police Jury remains vacant.

At the meeting, the board approved to host the Archery Shooter’s Association Reception that will be held Friday, April 21, before the tournament kicks off the following weekend on April 27-30.  

“We did this last year,” said Commissioner Ty Pendergrass. “I think it was well received and well attended.” 

The WPCVC also approved an advertising grant in the amount of $2,000 for Piney Hills LA Master Gardeners. The funds will be used for their Trails and Trellises Garden Tour to be held on May 20.

There is a far frozen field

I began to write this last week. Back when the cold was at my toes and the ice would be on my nose if I was outside too long. Back when one of my students honked at me around 7:15 Thursday morning as I was taking a picture on the side of the road. She’s a good driver and only honked. I’m glad I didn’t distract her out there and she careen into me. After all, I was just taking a pic of that far frozen field.

I’ve written about this field before. Back in the summer, I wrote a column about the far green of that field. Even though the ice is there in January (it’s just muck now), the halo of orange still hangs there just above the horizon as the green (now frozen) gives way to piney woods.

It is the sight of this field that brings me quiet contentment every weekday morning that rolls. So long as the time is right, and the earth is not wearing its black veil, I am privileged to see the best of my Father’s world.

McGraw said it when he wrote of living where the green grass grows. Babcock said it when he wrote “in the rustling grass I hear Him pass.”

And I write of it when I say I hear His poetry in the wind over the meadow. I feel it as if it were something tangible. I feel it when I roll down my window and slow to as much of a crawl as traffic will allow. I can smell the dirt and nearly feel the touch of dew. The trees move and their inhabitants go about His business.

And the clouds move over, breaking only to let the sunshine in. There are streams somewhere beyond that horizon, further past, on up ahead of what I can see. The green gives way to make room for more wonders. Rivers and mountains lie far beyond. And then a vast blue sea. And beyond more that is green and more that brings me hope. They all tell me the Earth is good.

And I have turned off the radio and I dare not speak because my voice, the voice of a man, pales in its significance to the mastery and beauty of my Father’s world.

So I move on. Into man’s world. Into the negotiations of the day and the hubris of all our best-laid plans. That world is an ugly one. It is dark and gray and pitiless. It is tiring, and it makes me sad.

I pass the field again, many hours later, but it no longer holds the same promise. The orange glow has left it abandoned. I see the brown now. If the ice is melted, the field is dull and the sun has begun its retreat on the other side.

We’ve all lived our days, dealt with their difficulties, and are left to ponder the point of it all. The hurry. The rat race. The problems. All of it is man’s creation. All of it is man’s world.

But it’s ok. Because we move on to family. On to smiles. On to Our world. We enjoy that time. And I know I get to see the far green (now frozen) field once more a few hours later, but I realize I’m just as happy looking out at that splendor as I am here surrounded by these walls.

Because not only is that My world but so too is it my Father’s World.

And that’s all right by me.

(Josh Beavers is a teacher and a writer. He has been recognized five times for excellence in opinion writing by the Louisiana Press Association.)

One in jail on home improvement scam charge

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Promising one thing and delivering another landed a Bossier City man in a Webster Parish prison.

Fabio Cantu, 69, was recently transferred from a Bossier Parish prison to Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center by Webster Parish Sheriff’s deputies for home improvement fraud on a 2021 case.

According to reports, Fabio Cantu’s son, Steven Cantu with Artistic Backyard Creations quoted more than $5,500 to replace a swimming pool liner at a Webster Parish residence. A deposit was reportedly made for more than $4,100 on June 10, 2021, and the resident was told a crew would take out the liner and measure it.

“A week later, she reached out to Fabio Cantu,” the report reads.

On June 22, the homeowner signed a contract with Fabio Cantu. Two days later, a crew arrived and removed the liner. On July 9, 2021, the homeowner contacted Steven Cantu and was told her liner was on order and would take 4 to 6 weeks.

When the homeowner saw on social media that Fabio Cantu was arrested, she reached out to Steven Cantu to follow up with her order.

“Steven told her he did not know why Fabio had done the things he did,” the report continues.

On July 13, 2021, the homeowner reportedly told deputies Steven Cantu had texted her the day before, asking her to drop any charges, placed blame on his father and said he would return her money. According to reports, the money was not returned, however, Steven Cantu has not been arrested to date.

Webster Parish Sheriff Jason Parker said scams like this one are still an issue.

“Homeowners like this one just want to have their homes fixed up nicely, and there are people in this world like the Cantus who take advantage of them,” Parker said. “Anyone who has a feeling that a construction company does not have their best interests at heart should call us right away.”

Parker said sometimes advanced research will keep the homeowner out of trouble, however, “Most scam artists know how to get around that, too,” he added.

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

Sisters selling shirts for St. Jude support

Sharity and Jacie Brent

By Paige Nash

To show support for the upcoming Minden St. Jude Auction, Miss Minden 2023 Jacie Brent is selling tee shirts. The images on the back of the tee shirt include various locations across the city. It was designed and hand drawn by her sister and former Miss Minden Sharity Brent. Sharity received a patent on the design and was granted permission from the late Mayor Terry Gardner to use the city logo on the front of the shirt.  

Jacie said, “I think it is a great shirt and it really shows off so many places that make Minden special and unique. It is a visual symbol of the pride we all have to be living in the ‘Friendliest City in the South.'” 

The locations depicted on the back of the shirt include Academy Park, the Civic Center, Coca Cola Bottling Company, the Farm and Cultural Crossroads, Minden Press-Herald, Turner’s Pond and the iconic Minden water tower.  

In 2019 her sister, Sharity, first sold these shirts in support of Children’s Miracle Network. The fundraiser was a tremendous success and brought in about $1,400. Since then, she would get asked occasionally when she would be selling the shirts again.  

Jacie said, “When I was crowned Miss Minden 2023, I knew that would be something I would like to bring back.”

She has set a goal to sell at least 150 of these shirts. So far, she has sold a little more than 80. All proceeds will be donated to St. Jude Children’s Center with a check being presented at the auction next month.  

“The Minden community and I both have a huge heart for St. Jude, and it is very special to me to be able to present a check as Miss Minden. I have been going to this auction since I was a little girl and I have also participated in the 5k for the past 6 years,” she said. “While attending Louisiana Tech, I became a Tri Delta and our philanthropy was St. Jude, so I have been raising money for St. Jude in some capacity for years.” 

These shirts are for presale only and will not be available for sale at the auction. They are only $20, and range in sizes from youth XS up to adult 4XL. They are available in gold, midnight blue, lavender, royal blue and black.  

“The love and support this amazing community has shown me since I was crowned Miss Minden is huge and I am so grateful to those who have already purchased shirts or donated money,” said Jacie. “The fundraiser has been a success for far and it is all because of the huge hearts everyone in this community has for St. Jude.” 

To order a shirt, please visit this website: 

Snickerdoodle Skillet Cookie

Oh, yall.  You know I have big heart eyes for a skillet cookie and this one topped with some Bluebell Butter Crunch Ice Cream was just too dang good.  Like sit in your sweat pants in front of the fire and beg someone to get you a second bowl good.  

I’m pretty sure you have everything in your pantry to make this.  Just don’t forget the ice cream!  Report back.  I need reviews. 


  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon


Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Spray a 10” skillet with cooking spray.

Cream the butter and sugars until light and creamy.  Add in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla.

Whisk the dry ingredients together and mix into the butter mixture.  

Spread into skillet.  Mix the topping ingredients together and shake over evenly.  Bake 25 minutes. 

(Ashley Madden Rowton is a wife, mom and published cookbook author who lives in Minden, La.)

2 Parades to honor Black History

Black History Month begins February 1.

Feb. 11

 1 p.m. City of Springhill North Webster 12th Annual Black History Parade. Sign up to participate is Feb. 6. Contact Sheila Aubrey, 318-470-5156; Mara Davis, 318-268-6882; Nivea McDaniel, 318-216-7041; Robinette Thomas, 870-202-0636; Debbie Thomas, 318-465-9983; Kalinda Hawthorne, 318-578-4439; D. Nicole Frazier, 318-578-1884; or Kimbery Schleppenbach, 318-470-5520.

Feb. 18

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

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

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

Thank you!

Johnnye Kennon graduates from Certified Travel Specialist

Johnnye Kennon, second from left.

Louisiana Travel Association (LTA) celebrated the graduation of Johnnye Kennon, Administrative Assistant of the Webster Parish Convention & Visitors Commission from the 2022 class of Louisiana’s “Certified Travel Specialists” (CTS) at the association’s 2023 Annual Meeting in New Orleans.  

The 12 members of the CTS class spent all of 2022 developing their skills through four educational sessions.  The graduates learned about customer service, heard from leaders in the state travel industry, explored their personal growth process, learned how to navigate Louisiana tourism resources and connected their jobs with their community. 

“I’m excited to graduate as a Louisiana ‘Certified Travel Specialist’ (CTS),” Kennon said. “I was exposed to a lot of new ideas and learned so much from established leaders in the tourism industry. I believe I will benefit from this program for years to come.”

The graduating class of CTS also includes: John Adams, with Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou; Kacy Young, with Natchitoches Convention & Visitors Bureau; Stevie Robinson, with Acadia Convention & Visitors Commission; Katelyn Romero, with Mcllhenney Co. – Tabasco; Kathleen Abels, with Livingston Parish Convention & Visitors Bureau; Pam Strickel, with Ruston-Lincoln Convention & Visitors Bureau; Christine Friedman, with Atchafalaya Basin Landing; Melissa Trahan, with Visit Lake Charles; Bailey Vidrine, with Iberville Parish; Victoria Leger, with Alexandria/Pineville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau; and Evon J. Rodgers, with Alexandria/Pineville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. 

“CTS has been a tremendous opportunity for those interested in learning more about Louisiana’s tourism industry, and we are proud of the 2022 graduating class,” said Kim Dodd Boasso, LTA President and CEO. “Through our partnership with the Louisiana Office of Tourism, we are able to train our state and regional travel counselors, as well as our front-line employees in hotels, attractions and restaurants.” 

UCAP needs for week of Jan. 30

United Christian Assistance Program needs the following items:

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

Clothing: Men’s pants (32 and 34 waist), men’s shoes (9 and larger)

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

Toiletries: toothpaste, deodorant

Thank you for supporting UCAP!

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

Annual Jonquil festival to bloom March 4

The house through the flowers is the home of Beth and Steve Fontenot – Evergreen Farm. Their yard and gardens are part of the Jonquil Jubilee tour.
Since moving there, they have planted more than 17,000 bulbs. 

By Paige Nash 

The Town of Gibsland has announced the festival dates for their annual Jonquil Jubilee Homes and Garden Tour. The festival will be held on March 4 this year.  

Tickets are only $10 and will be available the day of the festival. With the purchase of a ticket, you will receive an armband, a map and a complete list with information about each stop and activity that day.

The events of the day will kick off with the Gibsland Lions Club breakfast to be held at 8 a.m. Every stop and activity will be open all day.  

An exciting addition to the tour this year is the Sylvan Retreat. The house was built in 1848 in Bienville Parish by William and Missouri Walker. The original location was on a 2,000-acre plantation near the present I-20 exit 61 but was later deconstructed and re-assembled in Gibsland in 1884. The home now belongs to Sally and Lestar Martin. They moved into the home in 1978 with their daughters; Marguerite, Sarah, Christine and Charlotte. Marguerite’s grandson, Gabriel, represents “the ninth generation to have lived or slept in Sylvan Retreat.” 

Key speaker, Greg Grant, is scheduled to hold a presentation at 11 a.m. at the First Baptist Church. Grant is from Arcadia, Texas and is an award-winning horticulturist, conservationist, farmer and writer.  

He has introduced several successful plants to the Southern nursery industry including Blue Princess verbena, dwarf pink Mexican petunia, Gold Star Esperanza, Laura Bush Petunia, John Fanick phlox, Stars and Stripes pentas, Pam’s Pink honeysuckle, Lecompte and Flora Ann vitex, Henry and Augusta Duelberg sages, Big Momma and Pam Puryear Turk’s Cap, Peppermint Flare hibiscus, and the Marie Daly and Nacogdoches (Grandma’s Yellow) roses.  

Grant has received many acknowledgements from his many contributions. He was presented the lifetime membership award from the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association, the Superior Service Award by the Texas Agricultural Extension Service, the Lynn Lowrey Memorial Award by the Native Plant Society of Texas, and the Lone Star Land Steward Award by Texas Parks and Wildlife. Heirloom Gardening in the South was also a Garden Writers Association Silver Award recipient. 

The Jonquil Jubilee will also have many displays and vendors including Geraldine Zelinsky, founder of the Northwest Louisiana Basket Makers, who will be demonstrating the craft of coiled basketry. She will have baskets on display with some available for purchase.  

A complete list of stops, vendors and events will be available to the public in the coming weeks.  

Upcoming Events

Send non-profit calendar events to .

Jan. 31

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

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

Feb. 2

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

Feb. 4

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

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

Feb. 11

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

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

Feb. 13

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

Feb. 21

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

Feb. 25

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

March 4

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

March 24

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

March 28

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

April 1

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

April 26

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

• Scottish Highland dancing

• Storytelling, living history exhibitions 

• Food and merchant vendors, including Great Raft beer 

• Traditional music and Celtic Rock 

• Scottish Highland cattle petting area 

• Broadsword demonstrations and Highland Games exhibitions 

• Clan tent exhibits and the March of the Clans 

Arrest Reports


The following arrests were made by local law enforcement agencies. Minden Police Department (MPD), Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office (WPSO), Louisiana State Police (LSP) and others which are named.

Jan. 25

Willie Moore, 41, of the 500 block of Penal Farm Rd., Minden, was arrested by WPSO for domestic abuse battery.

Sylvester Thomas Coleman, 29, of the 600 block of Columbia St., Minden, was arrested by MPD for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia and public drunkenness.

Terry Deshun Douglas, 30, of the 200 block of Ward St., Doyline, was arrested by WPSO on a warrant for failure to appear (in court).

Jan. 26

James R. Roton Jr., 50, of the 600 block of Doc Steed Rd., Minden, was arrested by WPSO on a warrant from Probation & Parole.

Mary Allred Gray, 72, of the 1600 block of Dorcheat Rd., Minden, was arrested by MPD for disturbing the peace and resisting with force.

Sherrie Harris, 39, of the 600 block of Stone St., Minden, was arrested by MPD on 2 active bench warrants.

Kenneth Dan Wyatt, 55, of the 100 block of Skip Rd., Cotton Valley, was arrested by WPSO as a fugitive from Caldwell Parish.

Jan. 28

Rothell Megan Davenport, 28, of the 300 block of Pershing Ave., Monroe, La., was arrested by WPSO for battery of a dating partner and cruelty to juveniles.

Jan. 29

Devon Michael Stiles, 22, of the 100 block of NE 1st, Sibley, was arrested by WPSO for theft of a motor vehicle.

Cory Joe Davis Oglee, 40, of the 100 block of Bobby Davis Rd., Shongaloo, was arrested by WPSO on two active warrants.

Dehkobe Christian Debose, 22, of the 1400 block of Lewisville Rd., Minden, was arrested by WPSO on three active warrants.

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

Notice of Death – Jan. 30, 2023

Donald Rowe Lee

August 15, 1941 – Jan. 28, 2023

Cotton Valley

Visitation: 10 until 11 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, Eastwood Baptist Church, Haughton.

Funeral service: 11 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023 immediately following visitation.

Burial: Cotton Valley Cemetery, Cotton Valley, La.

Pamela June Dees

Feb. 17, 1959 – Jan. 27, 2023

Graveside service: 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, Western Cemetery, Emerson, Ark., under the direction of Bailey Funeral Home.

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

Motorcyclist chased by HPD crashes in Sibley

By Bonnie Culverhouse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dixie Inn to benefit from GUMBO program

By Paige Nash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Land O’ Goshen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Pat Culverhouse


Arm your children

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Please submit your questions to Ryan via email at

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information on the state’s New Teacher Experience program, visit

Forgiveness means love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So yes, forgiveness means that you love someone.  

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

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

Nominations open for Man of the Year

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

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

Click here to nominate someone!

Historically Speaking: Long Springs

Long Springs

By Jessica Gorman

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

Webster Tribune, 20 September 1883

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

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

Long Springs’ Construction

Spice up your salad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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