In the beginning: Camp Minden’s Youth Challenge Program

The first graduates of Camp Minden’s Youth Challenge Program.

By Marilyn Miller 

(This is the first of a two-part series focusing on the funding, construction and operation of Louisiana’s third Youth Challenge Program (YCP) at Camp Minden in Webster Parish. Part 1 tells the story of the two people who pushed to make it happen. Part 2 will focus on the Youth Challenge Program itself, including facilities, staffing, graduate percentages, economic impact, and the mentoring program) 


“I was elected (as Representative for the 10th District, Bossier and Webster Parishes) and I was invited to attend the Youth Challenge Program graduation ceremony at the Louisiana National Guard’s Camp Beauregard,” said Minden’s Jean Doerge, recalling a January 2001 trip to Carville, La., near Pineville.  “I just remember how amazed I was at how the cadets sat looking straight ahead. They were so quiet and focused.” 

Though a State Representative, Doerge’s efforts to get more information on the program were unsuccessful at that time. But she was determined to learn more about the YCP. She returned to Minden and went to the man who she trusted to have the answers – Colonel Carl Thompson.  And they planned a trip back to Camp Beauregard to acquire firsthand knowledge. 

This time she got to see the cadets in their YCP/military environment, marching to all classes, meals, and even the “Confidence Course” (obstacle course). She talked to the teenagers and found them to be positive and excited about their futures. She became aware that the program was “a saving thing for them.” 

Back in November of 2000, Louisiana National Guard Colonel Carl Thompson had come to LAAP (now Camp Minden) to work on getting the decommissioned ammunition plant transferred from Federal to State ownership. Since it was in her district, Rep. Doerge played a key role in the transfer. But there was a bump in the road. 

That bump was the Super Fund program administered by the  Environmental Protection Agency  (EPA). The program was designed in the 1980’s to investigate and clean up Federal sites contaminated with hazardous substances. LAAP was one of those sites. 

“We were afraid that if we (the State) took over ownership of LAAP, we would be stuck paying the bill for the clean-up,” Rep.  Doerge said. 

In February of 2001, Dr. Doerge traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu concerning the LAAP transfer debate. She also took the opportunity to bring up the Youth Challenge Program. 

“Sen. Landrieu said It wouldn’t happen…Louisiana already has two programs, Beauregard and Gillis Long (below Baton Rouge)…funding will never be approved for another YCP,” Rep. Doerge recalled. She reminded the Senator that Louisiana had the highest drop-out rate in the nation. But she argued to no avail. “I left there thinking ‘Well, I just bombed out,’” 

Senator Landrieu did, however, put Rep. Doerge in touch with another man who she thought might help. “But he was negative, too. He was just so negative.” 

At that point, she started talking to everyone. “When you care about something, you put everything into it. And I did. I kept at Mary, too,” Rep. Doerge remembered. 


It’s been more than 20 years since Louisiana National Guard Major General Bennett Landreneau assigned Col. Carl Thompson to the Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant (LAAP) “to get it transferred from Federal to State ownership.” The colonel remembers his arrival at the decommissioned site that November of 2000 like it was yesterday. 

“The main gate was closed and there was one guy working by himself — Kennedy was his name…he was so glad to see me,” Col. Thompson recalled. Having come from Camp Beauregard, a virtual city, the darkness and desolation of the one-time thriving ammunitions plant struck a chord with him. The weeds were high, the road was full of potholes, and there were “vines growing up the sides of the buildings.” 

“It was dark, and it was depressing,” Col. Thompson offered. Right then, he determined to do something about it. That challenge wasn’t helped by the archaic computer system at the plant.

“We still had dial-up internet service that was routed through Barksdale,” he said. But he soon put together a slide presentation focusing on military training, and he presented it to the Minden South Webster Chamber of Commerce, the City of Minden and the Webster Parish Police Jury.

“Every time I’d leave (a meeting), I’d say to myself ‘there goes another 30 minutes wasted,’” Col. Thompson lamented. 

His last visit was to State Representative Jean Doerge’s office on Main Street in Minden. He asked if he could show her a presentation, and she told him — “in that very soft voice,” – “Let’s just have a talk.” And he talked to her about his vision for military training at the LAAP. They discussed who to talk to next and came up with U.S. Rep. Jim McCrery, U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu and/or U.S Senator John Breaux. 

Their meeting concluded, Col. Thompson was stepping out of the door when Rep. Doerge signaled to him and asked, “What about the Youth Challenge Program?” 


Sen. Mary Landrieu was the keynote speaker for the LA National Guard Officers’ Annual Convention in Alexandria in April of 2001.

“Most of her speech was political,” Col. Thompson recalled. “But half-way through her talk, she made an announcement. She said that she had ‘procured initial two-year funding for a third Youth Challenge Program to be located in north Louisiana.’” 

“After her speech, Major General Landreneau jumped off the stage…and ran to the back of the room where I was sitting. He said, ‘Carl, I need you to help me with a plan for YCP!’” And Col. Thompson replied, “General, don’t worry, I already have a proposal for the YCP footprint,” and he told him about his ideas for barracks, classrooms, mess hall, offices, medical clinic, etc. 

That same April of 2001, while Rep. Doerge was driving to Baton Rouge, she got a phone call. It was Hunt Downer calling for Major General Landreneau. When the General got on the line, he simply said, “Your program has been approved.” The YCP had been funded for $5 million for two years. 

“I thought I’d have a wreck,” Rep. Doerge recalled. 


In July of 2001, construction began on the various buildings that would be used by YCP. Simultaneously, the recruiting and interviewing of potential cadets took place. And after the final selection of cadets, the first YCP Camp Minden class became a reality on Jan. 20, 2002. 

“If it had not been for Jean Doerge, there would be no Youth Challenge Program on Camp Minden,” Col. Thompson pointed out. 

“They (the cadets) come from environments we can’t even imagine,” he continued. “The YCP gives them a chance at the American Dream – an education, a good job, good benefits, good salaries.” 

Rep. Doerge agrees. “So many come from broken homes. Some live on the streets. The YCP gives them the opportunity to learn values. There is NO substitute for values. This program is one of the best at helping young people. It changes them – they see a future. The Youth Challenge Program is one of the most wonderful programs in the State of Louisiana!” 

(Part 2 will focus on the economic impact, the support facilities, staffing, graduate percentages, and the mentoring program for the Camp Minden Youth Challenge Program.) 

Former state Rep. Jean Doerge (left) and Retired Col. Carl Thompson.

Deputies investigate meth sales in Dixie Inn

By Bonnie Culverhouse

A Facebook post on Friday that reported a male selling methamphetamine in Dixie Inn was apparently a one-shot deal.

The post claims the person was going door to door at 5 a.m. that day.

“We know someone went to one house and was acting suspicious,” Dixie Inn Mayor Donna Hoffoss said. “He asked the resident if he wanted to buy some meth. It was only one house.”

Hoffoss said the resident called the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office, and they investigated.

“We sent someone to check on it, but we couldn’t find anyone matching the description in the area,” Sheriff Jason Parker said. “I think we would’ve received multiple calls if someone was doing that at 5 a.m.”

Sibley FD fishing for more tournament anglers

By Paige Nash

The Sibley Volunteer Fire Department will be holding their 44th Annual Bass Tournament this year on March 25 and they are in high hopes that this tournament will be a much-needed success.  

After a couple of years battling with Covid, the Sibley Volunteer Fire Department had to cancel their annual bass tournament in 2020 and follow strict restrictions in 2021. Another issue they have been faced with is the fluctuating lake level.  

“Attendance has been down due to the lake being low just before tournament time,” said SFD Volunteer Robert Smart. “I don’t feel safe having people on the lake with it down. So, we have had to make some rapid decisions on holding the tournament or not and that has hurt us the last few years.” 

The proceeds raised from this tournament will benefit the fire department throughout the year. 

“We put this money in a special account to provide our elderly with Christmas baskets and the purchase of funeral flowers for our residence that pass,” said Smart. “We also purchase the Fireman’s Christmas Dinner out of this account. The reason for this account and why it does not go through the town is because you cannot use town funds for these purposes.” 

Registration will be at the Sibley Town Hall the Friday evening before the tournament, March 24, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. One member of the fishing team must be present at registration to receive their entry I.D. number and will serve to answer all questions regarding guidelines for the tournament.  

There is a $100 entry fee per team. 

All fishing must take place on Lake Bistineau. You can launch your boat at any public boat launch located on the lake, but you must get to the weigh in by boat.  

Weigh in will take place at Port’ O Bistineau at 3 p.m. 

For a complete list of the tournament guidelines, you can pick up a general information brochure and entry form at local stores, including Country Market or the Sibley Town Hall.  

You can turn in your entry form to any SFD member or mail forms with a check to Sibley Fire Department at P.O. Box 309 Sibley, La 71073. 

If you have any questions, you can reach out to Robert Smart at 318-540-4619, Joe David at 318-401-0245 or Richard Davis at 318-382-3333. 

Veterans deserve qualified health care

Dear Editor,

It has come to my attention that the Veterans Affairs department in Washington is considering loosening the standards for eye surgeries at VA hospitals by allowing optometrists – who are not MDs or trained surgeons – to perform eye surgery on our veterans. In my professional opinion, it is reckless and unsafe to allow anyone but ophthalmologists to perform surgery on veterans’ eyes.

As a military spouse, I spent many years working at the Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, NC. I served active-duty soldiers, as well as veterans. In the pharmacy, it was my job to ensure that our active-duty soldiers and veterans, were equipped with the correct medications. 

This experience informs my resolve to ensure that only qualified health professionals provide care to one of America’s most important assets: veterans.

The issue of allowing optometrists to perform eye surgery is no different than my experience at Fort Bragg, where only qualified pharmacists were allowed to package the medications for deployments. I respect all health professionals; however, we must ensure that professionals with the proper training are working within their scope, especially at the VA. Otherwise, it puts our veterans’ health and safety at risk. 

When it comes to eye surgery, that means leaving it to ophthalmologists, who have years of advanced medical education, hospital internship, and residencies that prepare them to perform delicate surgical procedures.

I strongly urge our elected officials – especially Senator Cassidy who serves on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and is himself a medical doctor – to ensure that the VA does not implement policies or changes that would allow optometrists to operate on our veterans. The risk is too high. Our veterans deserve the best care available. They protected us – now we need to protect them. 

Kathy Johnson

Glenbrook wins two out of three

Four RBI day for Turner McLelland spells victory for the Apaches over Neville’s Tigers

Turner McLelland was clutch at the plate with runners on base Saturday, driving in four of two hits to lead Glenbrook past Neville 17-4. McLelland drove in runs on a walk in the first, a double in the first and a walk in the third.

The Apaches secured the victory thanks to 11 runs in the first. Their offense in the inning was led by Landry Powell, McLelland, Hayden Harmon, Toby Haulmark, Seth Magnum and Jackson Waller, all driving in runs in the inning.

The Apaches got on the board in the first inning when Powell drew a walk, scoring a run.

Magnum got the win. The ace went two innings, allowing one run on one hit, striking out four and walking one. Cason Clemons threw one inning in relief out of the bullpen.

Haulmark started the game for Glenbrook. The hurler surrendered two runs on three hits over two innings, striking out two.

Glenbrook tallied 12 hits. Haulmark, McLelland and Easton Sanders collected multiple hits. Haulmark went 3 for 4 at the plate to lead the team.

Glenbrook clinches lead in seventh inning to defeat Kelly Catholic Bulldogs

Glenbrook stole the lead late in the game in a 5-4 victory over the Bulldogs Saturday. The game was tied at two with the Apaches batting in the top of the seventh when Maddox Mandino singled on a 1-1 count, scoring a run.

The Apaches got on the board in the first inning when they scored one run on a stolen base.

The Bulldogs evened things up at two in the bottom of the sixth.

Mandino got the win for Glenbrook. The pitcher went two innings, allowing two runs on three hits, striking out two and walking one. Easton Sanders threw one inning in relief out of the bullpen.

Turner McLelland started the game for the Apaches. The pitcher lasted four innings, allowing two hits and no runs while striking out five and walking one.

The Apaches racked up nine hits on the day. Mandino and McLelland all managed multiple hits. McLelland and Mandino each had two hits to lead the team. Mandino had four stolen bases, as they ran wild on the base paths with seven stolen bases total. The Apaches didn’t commit a single error in the field. Hayden Harmon had 10 chances in the field, the most on the team.

Glenbrook takes a tough blow from Barbe

Glenbrook Apaches had a tough time generating runs Friday, dropping their game with Barbe Buccaneers 11-1.

In the first inning, Glenbrook got their offense started when Easton Sanders doubled on a 0-1 count, scoring one run.

In the bottom of the first inning, Barbe tied things up at one. J.C. Vanek hit a solo homer.

Barbe pulled away for good with two runs in the second inning when Pressley Courville drew a walk, scoring a run.

The Buccaneers scored seven runs in the third inning. 

Hayden Harmon was on the mound for Glenbrook. The hurler allowed six hits and six runs over two innings, walking one. Preston Frye threw two and a third innings in relief.

Turner McLelland, Maddox Mandino and Sanders each collected one hit to lead Glenbrook. The Apaches were sure-handed in Sheffield and didn’t commit a single error. Toby Haulmark had the most chances in the field with four.

(“Powered by Narrative Science and GameChanger Media. Copyright 2023. All rights reserved.” Any reuse or republication of this story must include the preceding attribution.)

Art and Soul

I met a kind woman when I was about 22 years old or so. That’s funny. All my stories seem to begin when I was in my early 20s. I guess that’s the way people are as they get on into middle age and then their senior years. It takes time to reflect on those events, those people, that helped shape you into the person you become.

Chris Broussard is one such person. She was that lady I met over 20 years ago. She came to Gleason Street because there was an issue with the higher ups in the ink and paper business. I was caught in the middle a lot of times in those early days. I didn’t know what was going on, but everybody thought I did, and I became a target for misdirected ire. Heck, I was still just a kid who was more concerned about the quality of the next Lord of the Rings movie than I was about chambers of commerce and tax millages and arrest reports and squabbling between police juries and the sheriff and all those stuffy adult things that guys in neckties worry about.

 In a lot of ways, I’m still that guy, but I digress. Neck ties are voluntary nooses. Moving on.

So, Mrs. Broussard comes in and we talk. I don’t remember what the issue was. Way too many winters have passed since then, but I quickly came away with the impression this woman was a lot like me. In fact, I said, that’s me in a few years. 

I was wrong. I have a lot of the same beliefs, but I have never come close to making the lasting impact on young people and their communities as Chris Broussard has. 

I’m writing about her today because she’s got an art show going on right now at City Art Works in Downtown Minden. Dubbed “Art and Soul,” the event features a lifetime of art from Chris and her late husband Rick. 

Anyone who knows Chris, knows how much she and Rick loved one another. Their social media pages have given a glimpse into the lives of a couple who never moved out of the honeymoon stage. They never stopped dating. And I like to think Rick still referred to Chris as his “bride” rather than just his wife. Point of fact, fellas – if you always think of the lady in your life as your “bride” rather than your wife, it’s much easier to keep the love and romance alive. 

They traveled. She painted. He took pictures. They captured the world through their art. They told stories in frozen moments on strips of film and strokes from a brush.

They lived. They laughed. They loved. They lived the marriage story we all want to live. 

In the years during all of this, Rick worked as an engineer and Chris worked as a savior of souls. I don’t mean she was in the pulpit on Sunday mornings. Rather she helped spread her passion for art via the founding of Cultural Crossroads, the opening of The Farm, the overseeing of the annual Spring Arts Festival, and the hundreds – nay, thousands – of hours she invested in introducing art to the young and rekindling the love of the arts in the hearts of adults of all ages.  That’s what I mean by saving souls. God is art. God is creativity. God is the original and greatest artist. To create is to give life.

I fell out of touch with her for quite a while only for us to reconnect at a low point in my life. You see,  I just couldn’t create. For a long, long time I just couldn’t do what an artist is born to do. 

And then Chris spoke to me one random day. Not in person. Digitally. Just as good in today’s world. Maybe even better sometimes. I’m not going to share what she said to me, but it was exactly what I needed to hear exactly when I needed to hear it. 

And then I could create once more. And I haven’t stopped since.

That’s what Chris Broussard does. She touches the hearts of the young and the old. She makes a difference even when she has no idea she’s doing so. 

And the world is a much better place for having her in it.

There’s a reception for her art show on Wednesday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The show hours are from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and from 10 to 4 on Saturdays.

If you get a chance, go up to City Art Works in Downtown Minden at some point before the show closes on March 31. See what a lifetime of art looks like. I like to think that’s what Heaven is. Not streets of gold or rivers of milk and honey. No clouds or cherubs playing the harp. Just art. Creation. Love. Kindness.

To me, that is God. To me, that is Heaven.

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

Deuces wild for Minden, Southwood in Game 1 Monday

Five RBI day for Brody Bower spells out victory for Minden Crimson Tide  over Southwood 18-6

Brody Bower was clutch at the plate with runners on base Monday, driving in five on two hits to lead Minden Crimson Tide past Southwood 18-6 on Monday. Bower drove in runs on a single in the first, a groundout in the first, and a single in the second.

The Tide collected 11 hits and Southwood had five in the high-scoring affair.

The team got on the board in the first inning. Bower singled on a 1-2 count, scoring two runs.

Jakobe Jackson took the win for the Tide. The pitcher surrendered two runs on two hits over two innings, striking out two. Landon Brewer threw three innings in relief out of the bullpen.

Wallace took the loss for Southwood. The hurler allowed eight runs on three hits.

Minden Crimson Tide  tallied 11 hits in the game. Brewer, Hudson Brown, and Bower all had multiple hits for Minden Crimson Tide. Brewer went 3-for-3 at the plate to lead Minden Crimson Tide  in hits. The Crimson Tide didn’t commit a single error in the field. Brown had four chances in the field, the most on the team.

Minden Crimson Tide slides into blow-out win over Southwood 8-2 in Game 2

Minden Crimson Tide easily did away with Southwood 8-2 Monday in the second game of a doubleheader.

Southwood got things started in the first inning when Snelgrove’s sac fly scored one run for Southwood.

Minden Crimson Tide pulled away for good with three runs in the third inning when Landon Brewer singled on a 1-2 count, scoring one run and the Tide scored one run on a stolen base.

The Tide scored three runs in the sixth inning on a single by Brandon Winston.

Jaxon Smith was the winning pitcher for Minden. The righty lasted seven innings, allowing four hits and two runs while striking out nine and walking one.

Zander Rowell, Elliott Sheppard, Jakobe Jackson, Winston, Brewer and Landyn Huddleston each managed one hit to lead Minden Crimson Tide.

With Brody On The Mound, Minden Crimson Tide  Shuts Out Marshall, Texas

Brody Bower threw a gem Saturday for the Minden Crimson Tide, allowing zero runs and besting Marshall, Texas by a score of 3-0.

The pitching was strong on both sides. Bower struck out eight, while Bryce Alexander sat down two.

Minden Crimson Tide fired up the offense in the first inning. Bower homered on a 1-0 count, scoring two runs.

A single by Eli Emery in the third inning was a positive for Marshall.

Bower was the winning pitcher for the Tide. The righty lasted seven innings, allowing one hit and zero runs while striking out eight.

Alexander took the loss for Marshall. The hurler allowed four hits and three runs over seven innings, striking out two.

The Crimson Tide tallied one home run on the day. Bower had a long ball in the first inning.

Jaxon Smith, Bower, Parker Salas, and Landyn Huddleston all had one hit to lead the Tide.  The team didn’t commit a single error in the field. Hudson Brown had the most chances in the field with eight.

Emery went 1-for-2 at the plate to lead Marshall in hits.

Minden Crimson Tide defeats Ouachita Christian in pitcher’s duel

Both teams were strong on the hill Thursday, but Minden Crimson Tide defeated Ouachita Christian 2-1. Zander Rowell allowed just eight hits to Ouachita Christian.

Minden opened up scoring in the second inning, when Landyn Huddleston grounded out, scoring one run.

Rowell was the winning pitcher for the Tide. The lefty allowed eight hits and one run over seven innings, striking out one and walking one.

Tucker Stutts took the loss for Ouachita Christian. The bulldog allowed one hit and two runs over four and two-thirds innings, striking out four.

Brody Bower, Jakobe Jackson, and Brandon Winston each managed one hit to lead Minden Crimson Tide. The Tide didn’t commit a single error in the field. Huddleston had five chances in the field, the most on the team.

(“Powered by Narrative Science and GameChanger Media. Copyright 2023. All rights reserved.” Any reuse or republication of this story must include the preceding attribution.)

Tide ladies take game over Summerfield in blow-out victory 14-2

Minden Tiders coasted to an easy victory over Summerfield 14-2 Monday.

In the first inning, the lady Tiders got their offense started. Leigha K-Gilbert hit a solo homer.

The Tide put up six runs in the fourth inning. Kylie Ryan, Taryn Tinsley, Gabby Morrison, Brooklyn Edwards, and K-Gilbert powered the big inning with RBIs.

Ryan earned the victory in the pitcher’s circle for the Crimson Tide. Ryan surrendered two runs on three hits over five innings, striking out ten.

Minden smacked three home runs on the day.  Jacey Adams had a homer in the first inning. K-Gilbert went deep in the first inning. Ryan had a dinger in the second inning.

The Tide racked up five hits on the day. K-Gilbert and Ryan all managed multiple hits. Ryan and K-Gilbert all had two hits to lead the team.

Minden Tide ladies defeat Saline on heels of Ryan’s no-hitter

Kylie Ryan was brilliant in the pitcher’s circle Thursday, as Ryan threw a no-hitter to lead The Minden Crimson Tide ladies past Saline 21-1.

The Crimson Tide was boosted by Leigha K-Gilbert who went 4-for-4 at the plate. K-Gilbert singled in the first, tripled in the first, homered in the second and doubled in the third.

Ryan got the win for the Tide. The fireballer allowed zero hits and one run over three innings, striking out six.

Minden hit two home runs on the day. K-Gilbert went for the long ball in the second inning. Ryan had a four bagger in the first inning.

Minden Lady Tiders tallied 15 hits. K-Gilbert, Ryan, Lindsay Ryan, Jacey Adams, and Brooklyn Edwards all managed multiple hits for Minden Tiders. K-Gilbert went 4-for-4 at the plate to lead Minden Tiders  in hits.

Minden Crimson Tide’s two pitchers work together in no-hitter to defeat Saline

Minden’s two pitchers didn’t allow a single hit, as the lady Tiders  defeated Saline 21-1 in a second game Thursday.

Leigha K-Gilbert led Minden Tiders to victory by driving in four runs. K-Gilbert went 2-for-3 at the plate. K-Gilbert drove in runs on a walk in the second, a single in the fourth, and a triple in the fourth.

Saline opened up scoring in the first inning. #5 was hit by a pitch, driving in a run.

Minden pulled away for good with six runs in the second inning. In the second Brooklyn Edwards drew a walk, scoring one run, K-Gilbert drew a walk, scoring one run, Lindsay Ryan was struck by a pitch, driving in a run, Jacey Adams drew a walk, scoring one run, and an error scored one run for Minden.

The team tallied 13 runs in the fourth inning. Annabelle Toland, Taryn Tinsley, Edwards, K-Gilbert, Ryan, and Gabby Morrison each had RBIs in the frame.

Kylie Ryan got the win. The ace lasted three innings, allowing zero hits and zero runs while striking out five and walking one.

Ryan started the game for Minden. The hurler lasted one inning, allowing zero hits and one run while striking out three #20 started the game for Saline. The hurler went one and two-thirds innings, allowing six runs on zero hits and striking out one

Minden Tiders scattered eight hits in the game. K-Gilbert and Morrison each racked up multiple hits for Minden Tiders. Morrison and K-Gilbert all had two hits to lead Minden Tiders .

#5 went 0-for-1 at the plate as #5 led the team with one run batted in.

(“Powered by Narrative Science and GameChanger Media. Copyright 2023. All rights reserved.” Any reuse or republication of this story must include the preceding attribution.)

Journal seeks account executive

Do you enjoy meeting new people and greeting old friends?

You may be perfect for an account executive’s position with the Webster Parish Journal. You don’t have to fit a particular profile, you just need to be as passionate about spreading the news as those with whom you will be working.

WPJ subscriptions are – and always will be – free. We depend on businesses and advertising to help us meet our goals and keep the public informed. That’s where you may be able to help. We need an outgoing individual to sell advertising for WPJ – the fastest growing publication in Webster Parish.

Contact us at, if this describes you.

Lakeside takes one over weekend

Lakeside blows out Anacoco Indians 12-1

Lakeside Warriors sailed to an easy victory over Anacoco 12-1 Saturday.

The Warriors got things moving in the first inning when they scored one run on a Bradley Dick single.

Lakeside scored five runs in the sixth inning. The offensive onslaught by the Warriors was led by Dick, Peyton Gray, Eli Campbell and Eli Musgraves, all driving in runs in the frame.

Cooper Chase got the start for Lakeside. The pitcher went six innings, allowing one run on six hits and striking out nine.

The Warriors launched one home run on the day. Dick went for the long ball in the sixth inning.

Lakeside racked up eight hits on the day. Musgraves and Dick had multiple hits, each collecting three to lead the team. The Warriors stole 13 bases during the game as four players stole more than one. Cade Boley led the way with three.

Many bests Lakeside 0-3 in close game 

Both teams were strong on the pitcher’s mound Sunday, but Many was just a little bit stronger at the plate in a Tigers’ victory over Lakeside Warriors.

Bradley Dick started the game for Lakeside and recorded 15 outs.

A single by Jon Jon Dick in the first inning was a positive for the Warriors.

Dick started the game for Lakeside, going five innings, allowing three runs on four hits and striking out four. Hunter Sutton threw one inning out of the bullpen.

Dick and Cade Boley collected one hit to lead Lakeside.

Lakeside Warriors defeated by Converse Wildcats 4-1

Lakeside Warriors got things moving in the first inning Thursday when Cade Boley drove in one on a single.

Converse Wildcats pulled away for good with four runs in the fourth inning.

Jordan Isbell took the loss for Lakeside. Isbell surrendered four runs on eight hits over five innings, striking out four.

Bradley Dick led Lakeside with two hits in three at-bats. The Warriors didn’t commit a single error in the field. Jon Jon Dick had the most chances in the field with five.

(“Powered by Narrative Science and GameChanger Media. Copyright 2023. All rights reserved.” Any reuse or republication of this story must include the preceding attribution.)

Chreene collects four hits as Lakeside ladies defeat Castor

Lakeside Lady Warriors 20, Castor 9

McKenna Chreene gave Castor fits as she bagged four hits in the Lakeside Lady Warriors’ 20-9 victory Thursday. Chreene singled in the second, singled twice in the third and doubled in the fourth.

There was plenty of action on the bases as the ladies collected seven hits and Castor had eight.

Castor fired up the offense in the first inning when an error scored one run.

Lady Warriors pulled away for good with 12 runs in the third inning. Laiklyn Squyres grounded out, scoring a run; Chreene singled on a 2-2 count, scoring a run; Lillian Jolly drew a walk, scoring a ru;, Paiton Levesque drew a walk, scoring a run; Maggie Mandino singled on a 0-1 count, scoring 2 runs; Mackenzie McCoy drew a walk, scoring a run; Hallie Sutton singled on the first pitch of the at-bat, scoring a run; Chreene singled on a 2-1 count, scoring 2 runs; and Karrigan Davis singled on a 2-1 count, scoring 2 runs.

Chreene led things off in the circle for the Warriors. The ace went four and two-thirds innings, allowing nine runs on eight hits, striking out eight and walking one.

Chreene led the Lady Warriors with four hits in four at-bats. Davis led with four of 17 stolen bases.

(“Powered by Narrative Science and GameChanger Media. Copyright 2023. All rights reserved.” Any reuse or republication of this story must include the preceding attribution.)

Vanilla Pudding Cake 

A million and one more star for this easy, delish cake!  Seriously so dang yummy.  Every time I walked by it I snagged another square and another.  

You will start by making an easy sauce on the stove, pour it into the pan and spoon the batter over the sauce.  If you are a vanilla fan, this one is FOR YOU! My boys do not care for frosting, so this was a huge hit with them as well.


  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, divided
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted & slightly cooled
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8” baking pan.  

To make the sauce put the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of milk in a sauce pan.  Stir until thoroughly combined.  Add remaining milk, sugar, vanilla and salt.  Heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture comes to a simmer.  

Pour the sauce into the greased pan and set aside while you make the cake.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  In a separate bowl whisk the milk, melted butter, egg and vanilla.  Add flour mixture to milk mixture and stir just until combined.  Spoon or slowly pour the batter over the sauce mixture.  

Bake 35-40 minutes.  The top should be golden brown and the sauce will bubble around the edges.  Cool 15 minutes before serving.  Serve warm.

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

Fewer hits still spells win for Lakeside against North Webster Lady Knights softball 6-5

North Webster Lady Knights Softball out-hit Lakeside six to five, but it wasn’t enough in a 6-5 loss Monday.

Chreene led Lakeside to victory on the rubber. The hurler surrendered five runs on six hits over seven innings, striking out 14.

Emma Newsom took the loss for North Webster Lady Knights Softball. Newsom surrendered four runs on two hits over four innings, striking out three.

Anekah Coleman led North Webster Lady Knights Softball with two hits in three at bats.

Chreene went 2-for-2 at the plate to lead Lakeside in hits.

“Powered by Narrative Science and GameChanger Media. Copyright 2023. All rights reserved.” Any reuse or republication of this story must include the preceding attribution.

North Webster sweeps North Caddo

North Webster holds off North Caddo as 5-run deficit is nearly erased

North Webster Knights built a five-run lead in the fourth inning and then held off North Caddo (Vivian)’s charge for a 6-4 victory Saturday. North Caddo scored three runs in the failed comeback on a single in the six and two singles in the seventh.

Collin McKenzie took the win for the Knights. The pitcher surrendered two runs on six hits over six innings, striking out seven and walking one.

Nathan Bernard and Cooper Sanders entered the game out of the bullpen and helped close out the game in relief. Sanders recorded the last out to earn the save for North Webster.

Sanders went 2 for 3 at the plate to lead the team in hits. The Knights stole five bases during the game as two players stole more than one. Dajuan Coleman led the way with three.

North Webster defeats North Caddo despite allowing 5-run inning

Even though North Webster Knights gave up five runs in the third inning, they still defeated North Caddo 11-7 Saturday.

Jackson Bynum, Jon Austin, Waylon Womack and Nathan Byod each drove in runs during the inning.

Both offenses were strong at the plate as the Knights collected nine hits and North Caddo had 10.

North Webster opened up scoring in the the first inning, when Cooper Sanders drew a walk, scoring a run.

They pulled away for good with two runs in the fourth inning when Collin McKenzie doubled on the first pitch of the at-bat, scoring a run. An error scored another run for North Webster.

Sawyer Wages earned the win for North Webster. Wages surrendered no runs on two hits over three and a third innings, striking out two and walking none.

Dakota Davison started the game for the Knights. The righty surrendered seven runs on eight hits over three and two-thirds innings, striking out three.

The Knights totaled nine hits. Nathan Bernard, Kyle Dinkins and McKenzie collected multiple hits. Bernard went 3 for 4 at the plate to lead.

North Webster Knights claims lead in 8th inning to defeat North Caddo (Vivian)

North Webster Knights took the lead late in the game in an 8-6 victory over North Caddo Thursday. The game was tied at six with the Knights batting in the top of the eighth. Nathan Bernard singled on a 1-0 count, scoring one run.

North Webster collected five hits and North Caddo had six in the high-scoring affair.

The Knights got on the board in the first inning when Collin McKenzie doubled on the first pitch of the at-bat, scoring one run.

North Webster evened things up at six in the top of the seventh. Jace Wesson drew a walk, scoring one run.

After the Knights scored one run in the top of the fifth, North Caddo answered with one of their own. The Knights scored when McKenzie grounded out, scoring a run. North Caddo then answered when Brooks Bailey singled on a 3-0 count, scoring a run.

Cooper Sanders was the winning pitcher for North Webster. He lasted three innings, allowing two hits and no runs, while striking out four and walking one.

McKenzie went 2 for 5 at the plate to lead the Knights in hits.

(“Powered by Narrative Science and GameChanger Media. Copyright 2023. All rights reserved.” Any reuse or republication of this story must include the preceding attribution.)

Upcoming Events

Send non-profit calendar events to .

Feb. 28

6:30 p.m. Civitan Clergy Banquet, First United Methodist Church. Clergy should call Steve Bryan at 318-426-1612 to register.

March 1

Boys/Belles registration begins at Minden Recreation Center.

March 4

Special celebration of Minden High, Louisiana Tech graduate and Super Bowl winner L’Jarius Sneed. Parade more details coming.

2023 Jonquil Jubilee Homes and Garden Tour, Gibsland, La.

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

March 17

6:30 p.m. St. Patrick’s Day Pickle Ball Round Robin Tournament at Pine Hills Country Club. Entry fee: $20. Burger plates: $10 with all proceeds going to PHCC.

March 24

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.

March 31

8 a.m. Registration for Webster Parish Sheriff Scramble at Pine Hills Country Club.

9 a.m. Tee off

11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m. Pickle ball Clinic at Pine Hills Country Club

3:30 p.m. Round Robin play after 1-2 clinic, Email for sign up information.

April 1

10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Wings and Wheels Fly-In and Car Show. Aircraft, cars on display, food, live music, pilot competitions, pilot meet and greets, car show as well as vendor booths from local businesses. Minden Airport, 100 Aviation, Drive, Minden, La.

April 22

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 

Never trust an angler

One thing I’ve learned over my many years of fishing bass tournaments…never to trust another angler! Now, why would someone say such a thing? Because it’s a fact! Today we’ll look at a situation where you’ll understand why this is a true statement.

No group of people on planet Earth is less trustworthy than bass fishermen. They will lie in a heartbeat to keep other anglers at bay when it comes to where and how they are catching bass. They will sell their firstborn for crucial information if it will help them win a tournament. That’s why it’s so important to bond with a couple of guys who are your true friends so that you can discuss what you’re doing and how you’re catching bass without the threat of one of them revealing your secrets. Trust is a word very few anglers use because the pool of people you can trust is small and almost non-existent.

A good friend of mine, who is a legendary angler from East Texas, told me one time that he was through fishing Pro/Am events. Pro/Am events are tournaments where you have a boater/Pro who runs the boat and the trolling motor while he’s paired up with an Amateur/Co-angler for the day. The biggest problem in these types of events is that the Pro/boater spends all his hard-earned money and time finding fish for an event while the Am/Co-angler benefits from all that hard work without ever wetting a hook in practice or burning any gas. When you take a Co-angler to your best spots, you hope and pray that he won’t go tell all his buddies where these spots are and how you’re catching them.

So many times, I’ve asked co-anglers nicely to please not tell anyone where and how we caught our fish for that day. But no matter how much they promise they will keep everything a secret, they’re lying! This happened to me last year on Sam Rayburn in which I had a good crankbait bite early off one spot. We both had our limits in the first thirty minutes of the tournament. I had over 16 pounds in the live well and my co-angler had his three fish limits of almost 10 pounds. I specifically asked the young man to please not share this spot with anyone else as I had another tournament coming up the next weekend. He reassured me that he does not share other anglers’ spots or information with anyone.

So, feeling good about the rapport and connection we had made, I felt this guy was trustworthy. Well, guess what? Once again, my faith in humanity and trusting another angler was lost when I returned the following Thursday to scout for my next event on Rayburn. Just after daylight, I ran to my starting spot from the week before where I had caught 16 pounds in thirty minutes. As I approached the spot, I noticed a boat was fishing almost directly in the same location. So, I pulled up and lowered my trolling motor trolling in his direction. Once within in speaking range, I asked the angler if he had caught anything off this spot. He said “yes” with enthusiasm as he set the hook on a 4 pounder! While smoke and blood began to ooze from my ears, he commented that the area was loaded with some really good quality fish that his son had caught with a guy last weekend. I told him, “Yeah, I’m that guy!” I could see the look on his face when he said, “Uh oh!”  He knew immediately that his son was not supposed to have told him about the spot. Once again, I politely asked the dad if he would lay off these fish until after my tournament on Saturday. He obliged and apologetically pulled up his trolling motor and left.

While I understand that I really don’t have the right to claim this or any spot as off-limits to anyone, it’s just the ethical part among other tournament fishermen to honor another angler’s spot or area. Now if another angler had found those same fish as I did, then it’s a matter of who gets there first. This is all a part of the unwritten rules of tournament fishing that so many anglers today refuse to observe. Ethics have been thrown out the window in today’s bass tournament world. It has now become every man for himself with little to no regard for anyone else.

If the ethical part of tournament fishing does not return, there will be some bad consequences for anglers down the road, especially the up-and-coming high school and college anglers who are not being taught these unwritten rules. Till next time, good luck, good fishing, and don’t forget to wear sunscreen. Melanoma is real and can be deadly if not caught early. Early detection is critical to overcoming this form of cancer.

Steve Graf

Angler’s Perspective

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.

Feb. 20

Andrew C. Gibbs, 41 of the 400 block of Audleman Rd., Doyline, was arrested by WPSO for resisting an officer and two active warrants – failure to appear and criminal trespass.

Feb. 21

Aaron Joe Hickingbottom, 29, the 100 block of White Trail, Doyline, was arrested by WPSO for driving under suspension.

Feb. 22

Ronny Paul Dunn, 45, of the 4600 block of Dorcheat Rd., Minden, was arrested by WPSO on an outstanding warrant for careless operation of a motor vehicle.

Feb. 23

Martin Arcos Jr., 26, of Riverview Florida, was arrested by LSP-G on a traffic violation. Arcos had an active NCIC warrant through Hillsborough Country, Fla.

Bobby J.  Allen, 61, of the 5500 block of Hwy. 2, Sarepta, was arrested by WPSO on an active warrant for theft.

Todd Butler, 45, of the 800 block of Doc Steed Rd., Minden, was arrested by WPS on two active warrants – one for failure to appear for driving under suspension and one for failure to appear on a seat belt charge.

Jayden Trotter, 19, of the 900 block of Louisiana Ave., was arrested by MPD for simple criminal damage to property and simple assault.

Bakiyah Alexander, 28, of the 300 block of McArthur Loop, Cotton Valley, was arrested by probation and parole for parole violation, possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.

Stephanie Jude Taylor, 29, of the 100 block of N. Main St., Sarepta, was arrested by WPSO for possession of a controlled dangerous substance.

Feb. 24

Lisa M. Hill, 26, of the 2100 block of Delaware St., Texarkana, was arrested by WPSO for contempt of court.

Feb. 25

James Barnes, 45, of the 2100 block of Reynolds St., Cullen, La., was arrested by Springhill Police for battery of a dating partner with child endangerment.

Feb. 26

Isiah Jeshun Johnson, 19, of the 200 block of Mullins St., Cotton Valley, was arrested by Cotton Valley police for resisting an officer.

Charles Ethan Berry, 19, of the 100 block of Mouser Lane, Minden, was arrested by LSP-G for driving while intoxicated and careless operation of a motor vehicle.

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 – Feb. 27, 2023

Ivy Lee Buford

July 14, 1944 – Feb. 25, 2023

Sarepta, La.

Visitation: 5 until 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, Bailey Funeral Home, Springhill, La.

No funeral service is planned.

Alicia R. Miller

June 16, 1963 – Feb. 25, 2023

Minden, La.

Funeral service: pending with Rose-Neath Funeral Home, Minden.

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.)

Town of Sibley receives clean audit report

By Paige Nash

Travis Morehart, CPA with Cook and Morehart of Shreveport was in attendance Monday evening at Sibley’s Town Hall meeting. Morehart presented the 2021-2022 audit report where he announced the town had zero findings. A zero-finding report speaks volumes on how well the town has held each dollar accountable in recent years.  

“You see that there are no findings in here and I don’t think you had any findings last year or the year before either,” said Morehart. “For a town this size and trust me we have 10-15 towns that we do, you have a good staff and workers and that matters.” 

The general fund for the Town of Sibley has increased by $48,000. 

“Increasing your general fund, that is big. Keep it up.” said Morehart.  

Mayor Jimmy Williams mentioned the sales tax in the town has also increased.  

“Our sales tax this year has gone up tremendously,” said Williams. “I think we are in better shape than most.” 

Morehart made note that the town just about broke even on cash flow and operating expenses right at $7,283 on the water and sewer section of the audit.  

Williams said the state has changed protocol on administering a yearly rate study. 

“Every year now, it used to be only when you received a grant, the town must pay for rate study to be done by an engineer,” said Williams. 

After conducting the rate study, the state will announce a minimum rate that the town must charge for water and sewer. They calculate the rate by many aspects, including how many users are on the system and the production.  

Williams is hoping that by consolidating with Saltworks Water System and accumulating more overall customers, it will lessen the minimum rate required by the state. 

In 2020, the town had a rate study completed and said they should be charging a minimum rate of $25. 

“We are trying to go up gradually on people’s water, but if the state comes in and says we have to charge $50, then that is what it has to be and the town council has no say over it,” said Williams.  

The Town of Sibley is also in the process of installing radio remote water meters. By doing so this will cut down on the time it takes town employees to read the meters. Instead of having an employee get out and read each meter manually, they will have a truck that drives by and reads the meter remotely. This new addition will also help ensure the safety of those employees who must get out among the traffic to read the meters once a month.  

As of now, the town has installed radio remote readers on about 200 of the approximately 600 total meters. The town recently received word they will be receiving a water sector grant and will complete installation of the new meters throughout the Town of Sibley and on the Saltworks Water System once the funds are awarded.  

2-vehicle wreck injuries 1

By Bonnie Culverhouse

A 2-vehicle accident at the intersection of Homer and Fincher roads Wednesday afternoon sent one man to the hospital.

Minden Police Chief Jared McIver said a red Chevrolet sedan, traveling south on Homer Road (toward Brookshire’s) struck a grey Suburban which was crossing to Fincher Road.

“Both drivers claimed their light was green,” McIver said. “We talked to persons at the gas stations on either side of Homer Road, but there were no witnesses.”

Driver of the SUV had to be extracted by Minden Fire Department’s Rescue Unit.

“His door was damaged and he couldn’t crawl out due to back surgery a few years ago,” said the chief. “He was transported to Minden Medical Center.”

His injuries did not seem life threatening. According to McIver, the SUV driver was cited for no insurance and no driver’s license.

“Since we don’t know exactly what happened, the accident is still under investigation as to who was at fault,” he said. “Anyone who observed the accident is encouraged to call the police department.”

The accident occurred around 3 p.m. It was the second time Wednesday the rescue unit was dispatched.

The first incident, between a vehicle and a tractor-trailer rig, was on Homer Road (Hwy. 79), north of the intersection with Hwy. 531. Troop G State Police Public Information Officer Jonathan Odom said around 10:30 a.m. troopers responded to a 2-vehicle crash near Old Arcadia Road.

“A southbound 2019 Lincoln SUV crossed the center line and struck a northbound 1999 Peterbilt truck,” Odom said. “The truck ran off the road after the impact.”

Odom said the driver of the Lincoln was transported to a local hospital and treated for non life-threatening injuries.

Move on or move over

In 1849, the French critic, journalist and novelist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr said, “Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.” Roughly translated, that’s “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

With apologies to Monsieur Karr, “the more we wish things were as they were, the more those who don’t give a damn what we want will force their ideas of change on us.” And it will be for our own good, of course. 

Not long ago, your favorite chair occupant was rockin’ peacefully on the front porch late in the evening. Stars were shining brilliantly in the clear night sky when reality flashed like a comet. Rocker was observing the same celestial bodies that had been viewed by Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and so many others of all races and creeds whose effort and sacrifice made this nation great.

Now, those diamonds in the sky that once shone on brilliance are brilliantly beaming down on mediocrity of epic proportions. Our forefathers/persons gazed with wonder at what a loving God had created. Our current group of influencers view them, Him and us, with disdain. 

Little could our history makers guess that in a relatively short span, a new generation of “leaders” would look past the heavens and demand to know how we are climate changing ourselves into extinction, how fossil fuels are fueling our demise, how certain social issues and groups are so important that opposition must not be tolerated. 

We are asked to pray for our country and for its leadership. Our prayer can be very simple. O God, please take control. Grant us not the lesser of evils, but protect us from the evil of lessers.

– Pat Culverhouse

Former Mr. Lakeside excelling in Air Force, keeping up his running ways

By Josh Beavers and Mary Bowers

I was impressed. That was the first thought. But then I realized the subject of the email and just smiled and said not surprised. 

A1C Mary Bowers emailed me a couple weeks back about the amazing exploits of Lakeside graduate Jairo Vazquez Aguinaga. Last year’s Mr. Lakeside and now an Airman 1st Class with the  341st Force Support Squadron, Jairo recently challenged himself by running 19 miles on the base track for his 19th birthday.  

Mary crafts a beautiful feature of Jairo in the following story. We’re thrilled to see Webster Parish graduates doing awesome things after high school.

For most people, birthdays are a day to take it easy or treat yourself, but for one Montana Airman, his birthday was a day to challenge and push himself.

Jairo woke up at 3 a.m. on the morning of January 28 to put on his running shoes, jacket and hydration pack before braving the frigid four-degree weather and heading to the outdoor track on base.

His breath clouded in front of his face as he trekked from his dormitory to the obsidian-colored track to begin a 19-mile run in celebration of his 19th birthday.

By mile two, both his balaclava and hydration pack were frozen. Rather than be deterred by the discomfort and inconvenience, he pushed through for another 17 miles.

The quiet patter of footsteps continued for three hours as Vazquez ran around the track for a total of 76 laps. By the time he finished, the sun was creeping over the horizon to mark the official start of his day.

“The first six to 10 miles were easy, but after that it was a struggle,” Jairo described of his inner turmoil as he grew weary. “I kept wondering, ‘Should I stop midway?’ But then I reached 15 miles and figured I could do the last four.

“Bible verse Deuteronomy 31:6 was going through my head too: ‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you.’” 

Jairo’s feat of perseverance showcased not only the training he was used to for the past five years of his life, but a sense of determination he was forced to have as a child.

The avid runner was born with a cleft palate which subjected his childhood to be burdened by 15 reconstructive surgeries throughout 17 years. His spirit could not be dimmed, though, and he pushed himself beyond the boundaries others often tried placing on him. 

He decided to join his school’s cross-country and track teams in seventh grade and completed his first half marathon when he was 15. He continued with the sport through senior year, running an average of 50-60 miles every week.

His drive was only amplified when he began competing against as many as 300 students in the cross-country races he ran, and despite coming from a small school he was not deterred or nervous by the number of competitors. If anything, he thrived off it.

“The more people I saw, the more fun it would be,” he said. “The bigger the race the better, for sure.”

Jairo began considering the military as a career path during his high school years but ran into yet another obstacle: he was told the likelihood of him being able to enlist was less than 10% due to his medical history, which included a jaw surgery two years prior.

If blisters and broken toenails would not stop him, though, neither would a cleft palate.  

Following six months of determination and paperwork, the 18-year-old was finally on track to become an Airman.

Having led his cross-country team for three years, Jairo felt ready for basic military training. He used his prior leadership experience and contributed to his flight’s success, using two physical training days to help his brothers train and pass their PT tests.

Now stationed far from home and with only six months under his belt as an Airman, Jairo already has huge aspirations for his future: making the U.S. Air Force cross country team.

“Maybe someday,” he said. “I see the uniform and it’s like, that’s crazy. I would do that for free. I don’t even need to get paid for that. It’s my dream.”

Currently, he is in the process of training for his first-ever marathon coming up this summer. As part of that training, he virtually participated for the fifth year in a the St. Jude 5K.

“None of this would be possible without God,” he said, beaming. “I’m grateful for the strength and health God has given me.”

Cop Talk

I have struggled over the notion of directly addressing my chosen profession through these articles.  It’s no secret that policing in America is a polarizing issue in today’s society.  That alone makes discussing cops and how they operate a source of contention, no matter how you broach the topic.  Anyone, especially a cop, writing about cop related things is going to pour sand in the craw of at least 50% of the population.  Therefore, instead of trying to write something that pleases cop lovers or cop haters, I’ll offer something that is likely to inflame folks on both ends of the spectrum.  I mean, it’s only fair, right?

Are cops good or bad?  I’ll spare you the overused soundbite about bad people being present in every profession.  In short, the overwhelming majority of cops are good.  Even bad cops usually have the noblest of intentions.  However, cops can start off good and turn like milk, becoming sour and jaded.  Bad cops, in all stages of their careers, do exist – but VERY few are bad right out of the gate.  Most bad cops (which are the great minority of the cop population) didn’t start their careers as a dumpster fire of a human being – they ended up like that over time – some more quickly than others, and for a multitude of possible reasons.

The elephant in the room is use of force.  That seems to be the only standard by which people determine if they’re pro-cop or anti-cop.  If you don’t assess police actions on a case-by-case basis and simply lump all cops into one giant pool of corruption, then you’re ate slap up with the dumb-ass.  If you think all cops are bullies, they’re not.  If you think cops use too much force too often, they don’t.  If you think qualified immunity is an archaic mechanism that should be abolished, you either need to quit using LSD or start using it – whichever makes you more enlightened.  The idea of eliminating qualified immunity for law enforcement is absolutely the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.  That’s “more stupider” than “defund the police.”  I felt my IQ drop just by typing “eliminating qualified immunity.”  Damn it, I did it again.  Moving on…  On the other hand, if you believe cops are always professional, always above reproach, never use too much force, and should be given absolute reign to purge society of all perceived scum bags – or if you think that building more prisons for the purpose of generating revenue is a prudent financial plan – to paraphrase a popular redneck comedian, “You might be a communist.”   

Society fails law enforcement by buying into all the negativity surrounding cops in the media.  Bad stories make attractive headlines.  Good stories don’t sell papers or ad space.  People seem to have lost the ability for critical thinking where cops are concerned, because they’ve been force-fed negativity for so long that they’ve developed an indirect form of Stockholm Syndrome and have begun to sympathize with their captors – the cop hating media.

Non-cop readers, I want you to hear this too, but know the rest of this article is directed to my blue compatriots.  

Cops, are you actively working to change the narrative surrounding our beloved profession?  I get it, we’re vastly outnumbered – but since when does that stop us?  Wouldn’t you rush headlong into a fight with three guys twice your size to try and rescue a child from captivity?  Wouldn’t you sprint into the absolute terror of an active shooter situation to smite evil in its tracks and save innocent people?  Since when is fighting an uphill battle not exactly what we signed up for?  If the narrative needs to change, and it certainly does, why aren’t more of us working to change it?

Do you have all the training you need to do your job well – to be as safe as possible, to communicate professionally and effectively with a wide range of people – to write, to fight, to shoot, to drive, to understand the laws you enforce?  What would the general public think if they knew just how abysmal the annual training / continued education standard truly is – or that you can get 12 of the mandatory minimum 20 hours of annual “training” by watching videos online?  If a stranger asked you what training requirements are mandatory for cops in your state or agency, would you have to use your “verbal judo” or embellish your response to keep from being utterly embarrassed?  Could you say honestly that you and / or your agency go above and beyond what’s required, for training?  

To improve the way cops are perceived by the public, make yourself a better cop – rather than depending on your agency to do it for you.  Don’t be the lowest common denominator when it comes to training.  It sucks to spend your own money, time, vacation, fuel, and energy to get good training.  Believe me, I know.  I’m not suggesting you spend your career being a “certificate chaser” – the world doesn’t need more of those.  I also understand that much of the training available to us through law enforcement is really good!  But is the mandatory minimum sufficient?  Not even close – regardless how long you’ve been on the job.  Take it upon yourself to get training that’s recent, relevant, and realistic, whether or not your agency will foot the bill.  The world needs more well-trained cops, but the world will never have them if we depend on bureaucrats and people with political agendas to set the standard of “sufficient training,” because it’s far cheaper to bury you and / or pay liability insurance premiums than it is to adequately train you for the duration of your career.  

I’ve been fortunate throughout my career, especially in my current position, working for and having worked for supervisors and department heads, who value(d) training and know the importance of elevating officers’ confidence and competence – but we, the rank and file hired hands, have to take some initiative too.  Once, in 15 years on the job, have I been denied training that I requested.  Most cops aren’t as fortunate as I have been.  Therefore, a lot of cops sit and wait for someone with more rank to give them training directives that never come, rather than seeking out education for themselves – and that behavior needs to change.   

We’ll never be able to curb the stupidity pandemic among the staunchest of cop haters but we must do our part to reduce the effectiveness of their overgrown mouths – without the use of a PR-24 – as tempting as that notion sometimes is.  The only actions you can control are your own.  Hold yourselves to the high standard that’s required of us, and rather than keeping up with the times, let’s get ahead of the current state of affairs, by being proactive, not reactive, where our training is concerned – because you are the only person that can make you a better cop.

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


 (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.)