Royal Family Kids of Minden – A mission of love

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Royal Family Kids Camp of Minden is a mission – a mission for the director, a mission for the counselors, a mission for the campers – a mission of love.

In an undisclosed area near Minden since 2016, the week-long annual camp for foster kids ages 6-12 gives them something most have never experienced.

“I tell people it’s a mission field in our own backyard,” Volunteer Director Sandra Samuel said.

The kids register in town and then travel by bus to the camp.

“The first year I met the bus, I was overwhelmed,” Samuel said. “I know what these kids have been through, and I know what they are about to get, and I know it’s going to change their lives.”

All the kids receive gifts, and all of the gifts are meaningful, she said.

“The blanket is for security, the duffle bag is because most kids bring their things in trash bag,” she said. “Then they get a T-shirt when they arrive and another when they leave. The water bottle is just because we want them to stay hydrated.”

Most importantly, each receives a Bible because this is a faith-based initiative. One of the gift items includes a lesson book to ensure all campers learn about Jesus Christ. 

Each day is scheduled to have time learning about Christ, then adventures with a volunteer who takes the kids fishing, swimming, treats and snacks. There are wood-working classes, and new this year – a banquet.

“We are looking for dresses for the girls – we have a few,” Samuel said. “And we are trying to figure out a way to rent tuxes for the boys. I think this will be so special – an opportunity for them to dress up, probably for the first time in their lives.”

Samuel said there must be one volunteer counselor per two children. The youngest age is 16, but there’s no ceiling on the age limit. She said there are some they call Grandma and Grandpa.

Counselors are all volunteers, but they never pay – nor do families of any of the children.

“It’s a life-changing experience for the counselors, too,” Samuel said. “Some of them have moved away from the area, yet still come back just for this.”

Samuel said cost is around $700 per person, which includes insurance, food and lodging, entertainment and all the gift items for the kids.

“While removing a child from abuse and placing them in a safe environment may be necessary, it is hardly ever easy on a child – most times it is very painful,” Samuel said. “Can you just imagine what this one week can do for a child?”

All potential volunteers are required to fill out an application, background check, attend an interview and take 12 hours of training.

Donations and volunteers are vital. There are volunteer applications on the camp’s Facebook page.

To donate, please write your check to Minden Royal Family Kids Camp, 301 Pennsylvania Ave., Minden, LA 71055.


The Tree 

There is a tree that you can see in all of its beauty as you sit at the Broken Bean coffee shop looking toward the Methodist church. I am not sure how old it is, but it has been there awhile. There is just something about it that speaks to my heart. It reminds me of the trees in the Garden of Eden. It reminds me of Psalm 1:3 and Jeremiah 17:8 about being planted by streams of water and bearing fruit. It reminds me of the Scripture in Ephesians 3 that speaks to us about being rooted and grounded in love. It reminds of God as the Gardner, Jesus, the True Vine, and we are the branches. 

As I sat on one of the benches recently, watching the traffic go by, listening to the sounds around me, and feeling peaceful and refreshed under the covering of the branches, I picked up my journal and these words just fell on the page. 

The beautiful tree stands tall and deeply rooted.
Its branches reach out wide and shade the area below. 

The benches under the tree offer a place to rest.
The tree seems to invite you to come and sit awhile. 

O, what this tree has witnessed.
The stories it would have to share.
Those who came seeking refuge and rest.
They came sharing their laughter, tears, prayers, and presence. The rain, the sunshine, the storms and at times even snow. The warm and cold of the seasons.
It has seen it all. It has felt it all. 

The tree is much like our God, witnessing everything in our lives. He offers a place of quiet and stillness.
His arms stretch wide and deep with His love, grace, and mercy. In His presence we find rest and refreshment for our weary souls. In His presence we are nourished and renewed. 

He invites us to come and share our laughter, tears, joys, and prayers.
He sees it all and feels it all.
O, the stories God shares with us and we share with Him.
The journey He invites us to travel with Him now and forevermore into eternity. A beautiful tree; a beautiful life; our beautiful God. 

Your fellow sojourner, Jennifer Thomas 


All washed up

We’ve all been there, up Mildew Creek without a paddle.

Such is life when your clothes-washing machine goes 10 toes up.

It didn’t really die as much as it went on strike or was just terrible at its job. If my old clothes-washing machine were a football team, it would be the Dallas Cowboys, a mind-numbing imposter.

We inherited a “water and energy efficient” washing machine; it came with the house, same as the den and kitchen sink. And it looked like a washing machine, a little white cube with knobs and buttons and a big bin.

True to its branding, it was very efficient with water — but only because it hardly used any. And if you really think about it, water is one of the main things you need to wash clothes properly. So, the trouble was, this “pretend washer” wasn’t efficient at all in getting clothes clean. You know you’re in trouble when the clothes smell worse after they’re washed than before.

You know how a wet dog smells? There’s a charm to that smell if it’s on your dog from time to time. The smell loses its sentimentality if it’s coming from your blouse or blue jeans.

Ode to a Dried-up Washer

 When your washing machine

Is all washed up,

It’s a dirty shame.

You’re out of luck

And in deep poo.

(You smell bad too.)

Even your friends and family want little to do with you if it’s 9 a.m., you’re working a desk job and you smell like old eggs or last week’s trash.

“Honey, something stinks in here.”

“Yeah, sorry; I just washed a load of clothes.”

Something’s rotten in Denmark. Not optimal.

People could never have had this type of problem before the invention of clothes. You wore leaves. They got dirty or smelly, you threw them in the compost pile and picked yourself some new leaves, either in the yard or off the rack at The Leaves Store — “Got something in a Fig or a Palm? Size 16? Petite?”

But then some nitwit invented the snap brim hat, which led to cottage industries of neckties, pants, dresses, ascots, two-tone shoes and eventually, the clothes-washing machine.

Sigh … It was a simpler time.

It’s been a while since I’ve bought an appliance. Maybe a toaster 10 years ago. This was different. This was Big Game Hunting, a safari.

Yet it proved as easy as studying online, then showing the nice man at the store a picture. He hit F4 and maybe a Shift, typed in the model number, looked up and said, “There’s one on the truck that just pulled up outside.”

If you ain’t got timing, you ain’t got nothin’.

Quick as he could say “Twelve months same as cash,” the deal was done. The delivery guys showed up two days later, unhooked the old and hooked up the new, did it all in maybe eight minutes, could not have been nicer and hauled my old “washer that wasn’t really a washer” away for just $30.

“You’ll take this heavy piece of junk away from my house for just 30 bucks? When otherwise I’d have to borrow a friend and a truck and lift it and haul it myself? Glory!”

Would have paid twice that. Even three times, and I’m broke as that machine was.

For another $10, he said I could buy a “nice” plot in the Appliance Cemetery, between a busted coffee pot and a Frigidaire and he’d bury her there. I told him I was good, to dump it in a ditch if he wanted. I’m a sentimental softie, but not in this case.

We are so spoiled, all of us. Used to, clothes-washing machines never broke down. Back then they were called “our grandmothers,” have a wash tub and washboard will travel.

Laundromats took off after World War II — talk about a lot of laundry to do — and in-house washing machines became less bulky and more affordable and, thankfully, ran on electricity and not on steam. Now they’re common as a ketchup or coffee stain.

Thank goodness for that. Especially when they actually work. I don’t look any better since getting a new washer, but I smell fresh as $736.06, plus tax.

Contact Teddy at teddy@latech.edu


Flowers to speak at noon Lions Club meeting 

Dr. Gayle Flowers will serve as guest speaker for the Thursday, January 20 noon meeting of the Minden Lions Club. Her topic will be, “Building the Economy through Government Contracting.” 

Dr. Flowers is the Director of the Northwest Louisiana Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), which is a federally-funded program serving 10 northwest Louisiana parishes. PTAC provides counseling, education and connections to help businesses secure federal, state and local government contracts, which builds the economy and allows businesses to create and retain jobs. 

Before PTAC, Dr. Flowers served five years as the Vice Chancellor for Economic and Workforce Development at Bossier Parish Community College. She led the college’s mission to provide customized and relevant education and training to individuals and companies. Previous work experience includes Director of Career, Adult and Alternative Education for Caddo Parish Public Schools and Principal of the nationally recognized Caddo Career and Technology Center.  

The success of Northwest Louisiana’s workforce and economy has always been at the center of Dr. Flowers’ career; however, her contributions extend beyond her employment. She has invested her knowledge and leadership by serving on many local, state and national boards. Dr. Flowers earned her three degrees from LSU-Shreveport. Worth noting is that she was the first graduate to earn LSUS’ Doctorate in Leadership. 

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


It’s good work if you can get a hobby

By Robert St. John

My 45-year working career has been varied and full. The first official paying job I held (after three years of mowing lawns) was in the summer of my 15th year when I worked as a janitor at my school stripping and waxing floors. That fall I started working full time as a disc jockey at a radio station. I also spun records at frat parties, high school dances and in a local discotheque. After flunking out of college, I started working in restaurants and fell in love with the industry. I loved it so much that I took a job managing one restaurant during the day and waiting tables at another at night. I couldn’t get enough.

My dictionary defines the verb “work,” this way— “…be engaged in physical or mental activity to achieve a goal.” But it’s never felt like work.

I eventually returned to college to finish my degree in Hospitality Management, though I still worked full-time waiting tables. Every spare moment I was in the library reading restaurant trade magazines or staying up until early in the morning designing floorplans, kitchens and menus. I was “eat up” with the restaurant biz (pun intended).

In 1987, I borrowed $25,000 and opened the first restaurant. In the early days I worked as a chef behind the line, after four years I moved to the front of the house and eventually into the restaurant office. Since then, my work career has branched out from restaurant and bar ownership to newspaper columnist, book author, tour leader, television host, television producer, documentary film producer and the founder of a couple of non-profits.

Though, as of today, I can now add theater owner and bowling alley owner to my jack-of-a-few-trades-and-master-of-none list. I have been a fan of movies all my life and — conservatively — have spent more than 10,000 hours sitting in a movie theater watching films over the course of my 60 years. During that time, there are probably periods in my youth when I dreamed of owning a movie theater, but I never really thought that would happen.

Many would scoff at that many hours over the course of six decades spent in a dark theater. My friends would probably never vocalize it, but I am sure many feel that such a practice is a total waste of time. But I don’t really hunt. I rarely fish, and I never play golf. I have friends who have spent way more time on golf courses than I have in movie theaters.

Unlike the time I have spent in movie theaters, I have rarely bowled. I certainly never expected to be the owner of a bowling alley, yet here I am. Also, in addition to the five restaurants and two bars we currently own, we’re about to add another restaurant and bar to the list.

There is no doubt that I have been helped in a major way along the course of this hodgepodge of a career. Sometimes it was a friend or mentor with a loan, other times it was good timing, many times it was providence. I am grateful for all of it.

Work is my pastime. Work is my fun. Someone once said, “When passion meets work, work becomes a hobby.” My knee-jerk reaction to that quote was to state that there was probably a time in my life when work seemed like work. Though I think I would have to go all the way back to mowing yards and waxing floors. Actually, there were two summers in which I worked on a landscape crew laying sod and on a construction crew installing insulation in attics. That was work. Hard work. So technically, I haven’t really “worked” since the summer of 1982.

The new restaurant, bar, bowling alley and theater are all set to open in Jackson this week. Opening a restaurant is stressful. The first two weeks are filled with thousands of moving parts, any of which can go wrong at any minute. The key to success in this business is management, management, management, whether it’s during a honeymoon period, or 34 years into a restaurant’s run. As stressful as openings are, they are also an opportunity to see a dream come true. When a restaurant, or bar, or theater, or bowling alley for that matter, opens, it’s a vision actualized and brought to life.

And it’s the vison of dozens of people. And it’s the hard work of hundreds of people. I’m typically the guy out front doing the dog-and-pony show, but there are scores of others making the wheels turn.

It’s funny how life takes us in directions we never thought we would head once we let go and let life happen. I have made thousands of mistakes in my life, maybe tens of thousands. Though one of the things I feel I have gotten right is that I have been open to opportunity when it came knocking.

When I speak to students, I always try to reserve most of the time to field questions. I am almost always asked some form of the question, “What is the key to success?” After 40 years in this business and given some time and space with which to reflect, it seems the key to success in business — at least in my case — is simple: Support your co-workers. Do everything you can to delight your guests/customers/clients. Find every opportunity to say, “Yes.” Serve your community. Don’t screw anyone over. Take less of a deal if you must, but make the deal. Foster others’ successes. Surround yourself with people who are smarter and more talented, set the course, steer the ship, get out of their way and give credit where credit is due. Finally, find something you’re passionate about and make it your career.

Oh, and one last thing, keep moving forward, learn from past mistakes, but don’t dwell on them. I like to sum that concept up in one word…

Onward.

Hoisin Glazed Chicken Wings

1 gallon water

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup sugar

2 Tbl kosher salt

1 1/2 Tbl crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 cup white vinegar

2 Tbl fresh ginger, minced

3# fresh chicken wings

2-7 ounce jars hoisin sauce

1/4  cups sugar

1/4 cup water

1 Tbl fresh jalapenos, small dice

2 tsp minced garlic

1 Tbl fresh lime juice

1 Tbl Hot sauce

You can grill the wings and save this step. In a large stock pot, combine the water, soy sauce, sugar, salt, red pepper flakes, vinegar and ginger. Bring this mixture to a simmer and allow it to cook for 10 minutes. Place the chicken wings into the simmering mixture. Once the water returns to simmer, cook the wings for 20 minutes.

Using a large colander, strain and discard the liquid. Allow the chicken wings to cool in the refrigerator for one hour. This step may be done 1-2 days in advance.

Preheat oven to 250

Line a large baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the hoisin sauce, sugar, water, jalapeños, garlic, lime juice and hot sauce. Remove half of this mixture for later use.

Toss the pre-cooked wings in the mixing bowl, coating them well with the sauce. Arrange them on the foil lined baking sheet and cover them completely with another sheet of aluminum foil. Bake for 50 minutes. Remove the foil and place the remaining sauce in to a large mixing bowl. Gently place the wings in the bowl, and toss them with the sauce. Return the wings to the baking sheet. Turn the oven up to 275 and return the wings to the oven, uncovered. Bake for 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and serve.

Yield: Eight to ten servings

(Robert St. John is a chef, restaurateur and cookbook author.)

 


Break up with Salt

Do you have Hypertension or have been told you have High Blood Pressure?  Are you not sure exactly what you should eat or what in your diet affects your blood pressure?  Break up With Salt, a program to help adults at risk or with Hypertension/High Blood Pressure learn about managing their condition through goal setting, diet, label reading, portion control and cooking. The four-part educational series will be held on February 1, 8, 15, and 22 from 1 until 2:30 p.m. at the Minden Main Branch Library located at 521 East and West Street in Minden. The program should last 1-1/2 hours each session.

The program will be conducted by Shakera Williams, MPH, Assistant Extension Nutrition Agent, with the LSU AgCenter. Participants will receive all information discussed at each class and the opportunity to sample healthy recipes. This program is not intended to provide individual prescriptions for Hypertension/Cardiovascular disease, and it is not intended to replace Medical Nutrition Therapy by a Registered Dietitian.

This program is open to the public and there is a cost to attend the series. There are only 10 spots available. You should attend all four classes to get all the information presented as each class is a different topic. Please call 318-371-1371 for more information or to sign up please use the link here https://forms.office.com/r/JhKtn30dL1  to register by Tuesday, January 25.

February 1 – Session 1 – Detect, Correct and Protect  

February 8 – Session 2 – DASH Diet and Label Reading

February 15 – Session 3 – Grocery Store Tour, Location, TBA

February 22  – Session 4 – Mastering Meals with Flavor and Less Sodium

Consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the LSU AgCenter will make reasonable accommodations to enable persons with disabilities to engage in programs offered. Should you need an ADA accommodation, please contact Shakera Williams at 318 – 371- 1371 no later than 1 week before your accommodation is needed.


Traffic stop nets stolen firearm 

By Bonnie Culverhouse

A routine traffic stop netted Minden Police a local man on a firearm’s charge.

Tadrion Smith, 20, of the 900 block of Sibley Road, Minden, was arrested for illegal possession of a stolen firearm and no brake lights.

Police Chief Steve Cropper said OFC. Chris Cayer was patrolling East Street when he saw a red GMC Sierra at a stop sign.

“The vehicle did not have functioning brake lights,” Cropper said. “The officer initiated a traffic stop as the vehicle pulled away from the stop sign. It turned right onto Columbia Street and stopped.”

OFC. Cayer reportedly made contact with the driver, Tadrion Smith. There was a female subject in the passenger seat and an infant child in the back seat.

“The officer said he could smell a strong odor of possible Marijuana coming from the vehicle,” said the chief. “As Lt. Chris Hammontree arrived on scene, OFC. Cayer had Smith step to the front of his patrol unit. Smith stated he understood his rights, and the officer asked if he had any controlled dangerous substances or firearms in the vehicle.”

Smith reportedly said his sister’s gun was under the backseat and gave consent to search the vehicle.

“Lt. Hammontree secured the firearm and ran it through dispatch,” Cropper said. “Dispatch confirmed the firearm was stolen. Smith was arrested. Further search of the vehicle showed no controlled dangerous substances nor any other firearms.”

The vehicle was reportedly turned over to the registered owner, and Smith was transported to a holding cell at Minden Police Department.

“The firearm a Glock 22, was stolen from Minden,” said the chief. “Det. Shane Griffith placed a hold on Smith, and the firearm was logged and placed into evidence.”


Upcoming Events

Current until February 19

Minden Recreation Center. Baseball/softball registration. $45 per child.

January 22

9 a.m. Trapper Education Workshop, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Minden field office.

10 a.m. Toddler Paint and Play. Children ages 18 months to 3 years. Webster Parish Library. Minden Main Branch.

January 27

Noon: Shakera Williams, Assistant Nutrition Agent for LSU AgCenter will present a free virtual program on how to make better choices when stocking your pantry, fridge and freezer.

January 28

Senior cap and gown pictures at Lakeside. Contact Mr. Beavers or Ms. Culpepper with questions.

January 31

2 until 3 p.m. Retirement reception for Sheila Phenix at the Webster Parish Library’s main branch on East & West. The public is invited to attend.

February 1, 8, 15, 22

1 p.m. Break Up With Salt by the LSUAg Center, offered at the Webster Parish Library’s main branch. For more information, call 318-371-1371.

February 5

1 p.m. Springhill Parade and Tailgate Party. Springhill Main Street.

5 p.m. Webster Parish Fasching Carnival and Parade. Downtown Minden.

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


The forgotten impact of FLW

If there’s one thing that’s becoming apparent, it’s the impact the FLW (Forest L. Wood, founder of Ranger Boats) organization had on the bass fishing landscape. Today we’ll look at what made FLW so special and helped lay the ground swelling that occurred during the 1990’s up till now. FLW made bass fishing more popular than ever before with their approach and commitment to sponsors who were not really associated with the outdoors. Let’s first start with what it was like to fish tournaments in the 1990’s. 

Tournaments back then were events, or usually benefits, for someone or something. Most of these were annual events that drew anywhere from 40 to 60 boats. There were only a couple of high-level fishing circuits like B.A.S.S. and the Red Man Tournament Trail (which was one step below B.A.S.S.). Available too, were Fishers of Men, and a few American Bass Angler (ABA) events. Another pro/am circuit, known as Angler’s Choice, was also a popular tour and even had a team trail you could follow. Then there was the FLW tournament trail that was making headway and growing in popularity at a rapid rate. 

Of all these organizations I’ve mentioned, FLW was the one that changed the landscape in the late 90’s and has led us to where we are today. For years, B.A.S.S. (The Bassmaster Elite Series) was, and still is, THE place and the goal of every angler in America.  They set the standard that all tournament organizations wanted to be and FLW opened the door and gave anglers another option to pursue their dreams of fishing professionally. FLW took sponsors to a whole other level with boat and truck wraps of major sponsors like Wal-Mart, Land of Lakes, Castrol Oil, Tide, M&M’s, Kellogg’s Cereal, and Folgers Coffee, to name a few. They brought in sponsors that were not necessarily associated with the outdoors and promoted them the same way NASCAR did it. 

This was probably the best thing that ever happened for professional bass fishing! FLW decided to attack and establish a grass roots following by setting up a progression of tournament trails. That ladder started with the BFL’s (Bass Fishing League), a series of one-day events all across the country, designed as pro/am events for the working man or weekend warrior. If you did well on that level, you could then advance to fish a multi-day tournament trail called the Everstart Series which was similar to the B.A.S.S. Open Series.  Then after this, if you were really good, there was the FLW Series, which was one step below fishing as a full-time pro. Success in that series would lead anglers to the pinnacle of the organization…. the FLW Tour. 

With their approach, FLW had created an avenue for amateur anglers to pursue their dreams of fishing as a professional. The awesome boat and truck wraps drew visual attention and made it cool to be a bass angler.  It invigorated young boys and girls to want to be a pro angler. FLW then started the College Series that caught fire nationwide as colleges and universities created fishing teams and some even offered scholarships. Then they went even further and started high school bass fishing which has gone viral and insured that there will be future generations to pursue a career as a professional bass fisherman.

The sad part of all of this is that FLW no longer exists, as Major League Fishing (MLF) purchased FLW in 2020. This was sad to see, as I personally had fished several levels with FLW and enjoyed all of them. The downfall of FLW was poor financial management. Anglers also started to figure out the payback for their events was not up to par with other organizations. Entry fees went up and the payback for certain tournaments was less than 60 percent. MLF is trying to re-establish these tours once again, but the payback is still an issue, especially for the BFL tour which has the lowest payback of any tournament trail of this level. Hopefully, the powers that be at MLF will recognize this and correct it because we will always need at least two major fishing organizations that give anglers an option. Remember, competition between organizations makes everything better for all anglers. Till next time, good luck, good fishing and don’t forget to set the hook!!!

 Steve Graf      


Guardian Angels

The belief in guardian angels goes back thousands of years.  The Bible mentions several instances in which God sent angels to protect or deliver people from danger.  Guardian angels are believed to be able to take on any form and can embody any person at any time.  Believers contend that guardian angels are all around us although they are usually unaware that they are guardian angels.    

On December 9, 2021, Muskogee, Oklahoma had at least two known cases where a guardian angel stepped in to help.  It happened first at an elementary school.  A seventh-grade boy was standing by a water fountain holding a water bottle.  Wishing to refill his bottle, the boy pushed the button to turn the water on while he held the bottle in his other hand.  Rather than releasing the button to remove the lid, he removed the cap with his teeth.  When he inhaled, the bottle cap slid down and lodged in his throat.  In a panic, he stumbled into the nearest classroom and mouthed the words, “I’m choking.  I’m choking.”  

It could have been his last breath, but his guardian angel was waiting.  The guardian angel sprang into action as if he were placed in the moment for that very purpose.  He got behind the seventh-grader and performed the Heimlich Maneuver in a manner that would have impressed most doctors.  His only experience with the life-saving technique was what he had seen on YouTube.  With a couple of thrusts, the bottle cap shot out of the panic-stricken boy’s mouth.  The boy took several deep breaths and thanked his guardian angel.  Rather than glorifying the fact that he had saved someone’s life, he humbly returned to what he had been doing before the choking boy staggered into his classroom. 

 

Later that day, a fire broke out in the back of a house in Muskogee.  As if by divine providence, a guardian angel was on his way to church with a family member when he noticed smoke and flames coming from the house.  He ran from the car toward the home.  He knocked on the door and yelled to those inside that the house was on fire.  Several people ran from the home while the guardian angel ran into the house.  A disabled woman who required a walker to get around, slowly made her way toward the front of the house.  Unfortunately, the fire was spreading more quickly than she could move.  She was gasping for breath and struggling to walk.  The guardian ran to her, put his arms around her, and quickly helped her escape from the flames.  The guardian angel remained completely calm through the whole ordeal, which could have claimed his life as well.  Had he been a few seconds later, the woman probably would have been consumed by the flames.  Once he made sure the woman was safe, he returned to his car and continued on to church.  

On a single December day in Muskogee, Oklahoma, the same guardian angel saved the lives of a choking boy and a disabled woman from a house fire.  People referred to him as a hero, but he just replied that “it was the right thing to do.”  For his life-saving deeds, the Muskogee Police Department and Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office named him an honorary member of their forces.  He was also recognized by the Muskogee Public Schools Board of Education during their December board meeting.  ‘I don’t want everyone to pay attention to me,” he said.  “I kind of did what I was supposed to do.”  This guardian angel was Davyon Johnson, an 11-year-old boy. 

 

1.  Medina, Eduardo. “A 6th Grader Saves the Lives of Two People On the Same Day.” The New York Times. December 26, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/26/us/davyon-johnson-student-saves-classmate-fire.html.

2.  Crane, Emily. “11-year-old Boy Saves Choking Classmate, Woman from Burning Home — All in One Day.” New York Post. December 23, 2021. https://nypost.com/2021/12/23/oklahoma-boy-saves-choking-classmate-woman-from-burning-home/.


Notice of Death – January 18, 2022

Elmore Mitchell ‘Mac’ Magee Jr.

April 12, 1931 – January 13, 2022

Visitation: 5 until 7 p.m. Wednesday, January 19, 2022, at Rose-Neath Funeral Home, 2201 Airline Dr., Bossier City.

Graveside Service: 10 a.m. Thursday, January 20, 2022 at Rose-Neath Cemetery, 5185 Airline Dr., Bossier City

Leland Sparrow Adams Jr.

March 10, 1931 – January 12, 2022

Memorial Gathering: 4 until 6 p.m. Thursday, January 20, 2022, at Rose-Neath Funeral Home, 2201 Airline Drive, Bossier City

Lee Ann Smith Holcomb

July 13, 1956 – January 16, 2022

Funeral Service: 2 p.m. Wednesday, January 19, 2022, at Rose-Neath Funeral Home, 705 S. Sprite St., Vivian

Hervey Carl Shewmake

December 11, 1930 – January 15, 2022

Graveside Service: 10 a.m. Thursday, January 20, 2022 at Northwest Louisiana Veterans Cemetery, 7970 Mike Clark Rd., Keithville


Board renews Advanced contract

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Webster Parish has been operating with only one ambulance service for the past few weeks, however, following a public hearing last week and a board vote, Advanced EMS’ contract with E911 has been renewed.

“We’ve been able to add on to our staff,” said Advanced EMS owner Gary Jones. “We can be up and running by January 17.”

The Webster Parish Police Jury and 911 board have been receiving complaints of noncompliance – primarily from Fire District 11 in the northern part of the parish – concerning Advanced EMS since September 2020.

“We received complaints that Advanced EMS was sending basic life support trained crews to calls,” 911 Director Angie Chapman said. “The ordinance requires that any response to a 911 call has to be an ALS truck.”

According to the ordinance, (ALS) Advanced life support means advanced prehospital emergency medical care rendered by personnel certified at the EMT-intermediate and EMT-paramedic level and working under direct orders from physicians at a resource hospital.

(BLS) Basic life support means noninvasive prehospital emergency medical care rendered by personnel certified at the EMT-basic level.

“The complaints were that Advanced EMS was consistently sending trucks with BLS capabilities only,” Chapman said. “Springhill (Fire district 11) at that time ran first responders or EMR, which are Emergency Medical Responders. Some of those firemen were trained as paramedic or advanced EMT or above.

“What happens on a call is you get there and if the patient requires advanced life support then they cannot release that patient to someone who is not also advanced life support,” she continued. “When you have a basic truck going to a call that is already receiving advanced life support intervention, they can’t release that patient to them.”

Each time that occurred, Springhill firemen were required to ride to the hospital on the ambulance, taking them away from any fire duties. The other option was to await another ambulance carrying ALS crew members.

“It was problematic for the personnel and the patients,” Chapman said.

After several complaints, as well as unfulfilled promises from Jones to correct the situation, the board chose not to renew his contract application in November 2021.

Allen Mosley, FNP, and coroner for Webster Parish, told the 911 board members that he had paramedics working in Minden Medical Center’s emergency room because of lack of medical staff at this time.

“We don’t need to be without two (ambulance) companies in this parish,” he said.

Pafford EMS owner Greg Pafford agreed, saying it had been a hardship for his paramedics over the past two months. They have no BLS units answering calls, he said, only ALS.

“It’s been tough,” Pafford said. “We’ve been here 20 years, and we have good working relations with Advanced.”

Chapman said EMS personnel and paramedics are difficult to find at this time. Many more are needed.

The 911 board voted to renew Advanced’s contract for 60 days however, they will review the situation at the next board meeting.


It was quite a ride

There’s an adage that urges us to not judge an individual until we’ve walked a mile in their shoes. That could be changed slightly to consider withholding opinions until we’ve spent some time with those individuals, even if it’s just five hours. 

Five hours may not seem very long in the overall scheme of things, but those can be very educational hours when one on joins a Minden Police Department officer for a Friday night ride-along. 

From 7 p.m. until midnight, Officer Reece Tewell and Officer First Class Jason Smith patrolled the streets of Minden with a citizen observer, monitoring radio traffic and stopping occasionally to check traffic flow. The officers were making sure drivers obeyed speed limits and stop signs, especially in residential areas.

“We’re not here to create problems for people, but we do want them to know that there’s a police presence,” Officer Tewell said. “We want to be visible. It’s important for them to know we’re doing our job.”

Doing the job doesn’t always result in what some might consider “punishment” for a violation. During the five hours with both officers, seven traffic stops were conducted. No tickets were issued in six. One ticket was written when a driver failed to stop for a traffic violation, continuing to drive despite blue lights and siren.

“We don’t have to hand out tickets to get the message across,” Officer Tewell said. “A lot depends on the circumstance and the attitude of the individuals we stop. A brief reminder of what it means to drive safely and avoid dangerous consequences can be enough.”

OFC Smith agreed that attitude plays a big part in what happens when a police officer must interact with the public, whether it’s a traffic stop or something more serious.

“We are always aware that circumstances, something we may not be aware of, can play a big part in the attitude of someone we have to deal with,” Smith said. “We try very hard to be courteous and respectful to everyone.  We don’t want to make it worse if we can help it. All we ask is for their cooperation. A bad or aggressive attitude doesn’t help anyone.” 

Officers also responded to a pair of domestic disturbance calls during the evening, one at a local motel and the other at a residence. Both were resolved without incident, but one report was filed that could lead to a future arrest. 

“These are the kind of calls we have to approach with caution because there’s already a certain amount of tension,” OFC Smith said. “We have to be both police officer and social worker. We have to be sure a potentially bad situation doesn’t escalate, especially when children are present.”

A major concern expressed by both officers centered on the recent spate of drive-by shootings and the frequent reports of shots fired in city neighborhoods. Chief among the concerns is the lack of information coming from residents.

“We know we could do something about stopping these shootings if we could get information from the public,” Tewell said. “We’ve already lost a child to a drive-by and that’s a tragedy, and a bullet barely missed another youngster in another incident. We know there’s someone in our community who can identify the people who are doing this and it’s hard to understand why they won’t come forward.”

Tewell said officers and the department’s administration are trying hard to establish a bond between residents and their men and women in uniform.

“Every chance I get, I’ll stop and just talk with people on the street while I’m on patrol,” he said. “We want them to know us as people, not as the cop that’s looking for a reason to jam them up. If we can establish a trust, I believe we can solve a lot of the crimes we’re seeing.”

OFC Smith said the involvement of the people of Minden is as critical to public safety as a professional police department.

“Community involvement and commitment is important when you’re talking about community policing,” he said. “We’re on the street all day, every day, but we can’t be everywhere. We want to establish relationships with all the people we’re sworn to serve. That’s important to us. We all love our jobs. All we ask is for the public to be a part of the solution.”

 


Local pageant crowns new royalty 

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Four young women will be representing Minden in upcoming events, parades and pageants.

At Minden High School Saturday, Anna Claire Lemoine was crowned Miss Minden 2022. Courtney Patterson took the crown as 2022 Miss Spirit of Fasching.

Also representing Minden will be Miss Minden’s Outstanding Teen Olivia Blackwelder and Miss Spirit of Fishing’s Outstanding Teen Isabella Gray.

Relinquishing their titles and crowns were Joy Davis (Miss Minden 2021), Grace Powell (Miss Spirit of Fasching 2021) and Adeline Phillips (Miss Minden Outstanding Teen 2021).

Toddler Miss Minden Kristlyn Carter, Junior Miss Minden Isabel Sifuentez and Little Miss Minden Kenzie Pamintuan took top honors at the Junior Miss Minden and Little Miss Minden pageants, along with Baby Miss Minden Madilyn Crawford, Petite Miss Minden Tessa Adams and Pre-Teen Miss Minden Landry Edwards.

Minden Mayor Terry Gardner gives the ceremonial key to the city to Miss Louisiana Julia Claire Williams, emcee for the Miss Minden Pageant Saturday.

Police add new officer to roster 

Human Resources Director April Aguilar (left) observes while new police officer Ben Sparks signs on the dotted line.

By Bonnie Culverhouse

The City of Minden lost a police officer to another job earlier this week, but thanks to a unanimous 4-0 vote of the Minden City Council, a new officer has been hired.

In a special-called council meeting Thursday morning, Benjamin Sparks of Minden became the city’s newest hire.

“Are you aware of the police salary,” District B councilwoman Terika Williams-Walker asked Sparks. “Is that an issue for you?”

Sparks, a Master electrician and gunsmith, indicated he can supplement his salary by contracting jobs on his days off.

“The benefits seem to be good,” Sparks said. “I think that will change one day. But it’s not about the money.”

Currently, the starting salary for a Minden Police Officer is $13.75 an hour.

Sparks said he wants to make his son proud.

“Ben had an excellent Civil Service test score of 95 percent,” said Chief Steve Cropper. “I think with us adding him to the police department, he would be a big asset.”

Earlier this month, the council voted 3-2 to rehire officer Lita Hopkins.

Wednesday was the last day with Minden Police for Patrol Supervisor Sergeant Donald Brice. Brice reportedly is not retiring from law enforcement, but he is going to another department that is willing to pay significantly more. 

Cropper said he now has 28 officers.

District A councilman Wayne Edwards was the only council member missing from the special session.


Former Minden Police Sgt. Donald Brice signs off on his last day on the job.

BG Sentell represents Army Reserve at Battle of New Orleans

Brigadier General Sherb Sentell (far right in picture above) had the honor of representing the United States Army Reserve at a wreath laying ceremony commemorating the 207th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans.  Also in the picture are fellow General Officers from the Louisiana National Guard, namely BG (Ret) Rodney Painting (far left), BG Thomas Friloux (Director of the Joint Staff-Louisiana National Guard), and BG (Ret) John Dunlap (wearing the American uniform of 1812). 

Brigadier General Sherb Sentell from Minden, La. represented the United States Army Reserve at a wreath laying ceremony on Saturday, January 8, 2022 at the Chalmette Battlefield just outside of New Orleans.  Brigadier Sentell is the Deputy Commanding General of the 377th Theater Sustainment Command (TSC), which is commanded by Major General Susan Henderson.  The 377th TSC which is headquartered in New Orleans is the largest two-star military unit in the United States having over 31,000 personnel.  

The battle of New Orleans took place on January 8, 1815 about 5 miles outside of the French Quarter in Chalmette.  Major General Andrew Jackson’s army along with a very diverse group of attachments, which included pirate Jean Lafitte’s experienced gunners soundly defeated a much larger British army.  In the bloody Battle of New Orleans, future President Andrew Jackson and a motley assortment of militia fighters, frontiersmen, black soldiers both enslaved and free, Indians and even pirates weathered a frontal assault by a superior British force, inflicting devastating casualties along the way.  The Battle of New Orleans is considered by many to be the greatest land victory of the War of 1812 and launched Andrew Jackson to the Presidency in 1828.  The Americans suffered only about 70 casualties compared to the British who suffered over 2,000.  


UCAP lists needs, year-end report

United Christian Assistance Program has the following needs for the week January 17:

Food: Vienna sausage, crackers, powdered milk

Clothing: men’s pants (32 and 34 waist)

Household goods: queen and king sheets

Many thanks for supporting UCAP!

UCAP is open Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. for food, utility and rent assistance. Clothing is dispersed Wednesdays only.

UCAP 2021 End of Year Report

Financial Assistance:

Utilities $41,935

Emergency Lodging: $5,402 (includes $2,292 from 2020)

Rent $3,300

Food Purchased $43

Total Financial Assistance $8,890

Clothing Assistance – 896 men, women and children

Food Assistance – 743 individuals (346 families)


Animal rescue vaccinates dogs, cats

The Springhill Civic Center saw a flurry of activity on the morning of Saturday January 15. Despite gusting winds and steadily dropping temperatures, LaMa Animal Rescue offered a free vaccines clinic for both dogs and cats. 

Ten volunteers braved the cold to assist in making the vaccine process quick and simple.

LaMa Animal Rescue is a 501(c)(3) non-profit entity. They currently receive no government funding. Last year, contributions from citizens in Webster Parish and others enabled the rescue to send 500 abandoned pets to rescues in the North for placement with families. They currently have 90 animals in their care, placed with foster families all over the parish. Some are receiving treatment for heartworms, some are regaining strength after a long period of abandonment and some are on the waiting list with northern rescues, awaiting transportation or other services.

For more information, to donate, to volunteer, or to foster, please check our facebook page LaMa Animal Rescue. 


Upcoming Events 

Current until February 19

Minden Recreation Center. Baseball/softball registration. $45 per child.

January 18

 6 p.m. Women of Courage – Webster Parish. Free event. Speaker: Bethany Jones. Minden Civic Center. Worship service, dinner provided, door prizes, childcare available. 

January 22

9 a.m. Trapper Education Workshop, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Minden field office.

10 a.m. Toddler Paint and Play. Children ages 18 months to 3 years. Webster Parish Library. Minden Main Branch.

February 5

1 p.m. Springhill Parade and Tailgate Party. Springhill Main Street.

5 p.m. Webster Parish Fasching Carnival and Parade. Downtown Minden.

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


Springhill police arrest pair for drugs 

By Bonnie Culverhouse

An attempt to escape police failed a north Webster Parish man and woman last week.

Kevin Hart, 30, and Candice Hall, 55, both of Walnut Rd., Springhill, tried to climb through a bedroom window after police were reportedly called to the residence two days in a row to break up a fight.

On the second day, a warrant was served to search the residence for a firearm, and Hart and Hill reportedly attempted to flee the home.

Law enforcement noticed in plain view an unused hypodermic needle and a clear plastic capsule containing suspected Methamphetamine. Neither suspect would claim ownership.

They were arrested for possession of Methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.


Arrest Reports

January 10

Derrick Lewis, 48, of Claiborne St., Sibley, was arrested by WPSO on a warrant for criminal neglect of family.

January 12

Stephanie Keeton, 30, of Heflin, was arrested by Webster Parish Sheriff’s deputies for contempt of court.

Kevin C. Ferrell, 36, of Minden, was arrested by Louisiana State Police for driving while intoxicated (first offense), improper lane usage, traffic control signals, possession of Marijuana and Flight from an officer.

January 13

Kiara Simis, 22, of the 100 block of West St., Minden, was arrested by Minden police on 2 counts of simple battery.

Anthony W. Williams, 36, of the 600 block of Sibley Rd., Minden, was arrested by WPSO as a fugitive from Shreveport.

Derek Rice, 29, of the 400 block of Talton St., was arrested by MPD for disturbing the peace (language), resisting an officer and 3 counts as a fugitive from WPSO.


Notice of Death – January 17, 2022

Grace C. Tanner

October 12, 1942 – January 14, 2022

Visitation: 10 a.m. to service time Tuesday, January 18, 2022 at Rose-Neath Funeral Home Chapel, Minden, La.

Service: 11 a.m. Tuesday, January 18, 2022 at Rose-Neath Funeral Home Chapel, Minden, La.

Burial: Driskill Mountain Cemetery, Bienville

Mary Katherine Nielsen

May 18, 1944 – January 12, 2022

Memorial service: 11 a.m. Tuesday, January 18, 2022 at Frierson Baptist Church, Frierson, La.


Road rage leads to shooting 

By Bonnie Culverhouse

A road rage situation on Interstate 20 in the early hours Sunday ended in a shooting, a pursuit and a manhunt.

Webster Parish Sheriff Jason Parker said around 2 a.m., a Shreveport man and two men from Tennessee were traveling westbound on I-20, just west of the Bienville Parish line in Webster Parish.

“It was a rolling gun battle,” Parker said. “Apparently it stemmed from a road rage incident. Gunfire was exchanged between two vehicles.”

Parker said the Shreveport man was shot in the neck. He reportedly managed to pull over and call 911. He was transported to a medical facility. He has not been charged at this time.

“His injuries are serious, but he’s expected to make a full recovery,” said the sheriff. “Law enforcement pursued the second vehicle – the one carrying the men from Tennessee. We went over into Bossier Parish and Bossier City. State police deployed the spikes and were able to get the vehicle stopped.”

One of the men was taken into custody at the scene, while the other fled on foot.

“For a couple of hours, we were on a manhunt in Bossier City, but we caught the other one at the Shreveport bus station trying to leave town,” Parker said. “Both are in custody, but the investigation is ongoing at this point. We are going to need some help from the district attorney’s office on the charges.

“People need to understand, this isn’t the wild west,” the sheriff continued. “I understand the right to bear arms and defend yourself, but it’s best not to take things into your own hands. Pull over and call 911 or your local law enforcement to handle it.”

As of 11 a.m. Sunday, investigators were conducting interviews and the investigation was still ongoing.

“Both parties are saying the same thing – that the other guy shot first,” Parker said. “But we will get to the bottom of it.”