UCAP needs week of Nov. 27

United Christian Assistance Program has the following needs:

Food: Canned meats, fruit, green beans, corn, 

cereal, biscuit and cornbread mix

Clothing: Men’s shoes (9 and up), men’s socks 

Household goods: towels, king and queen sheets, pots,

pans, skillets

Toiletries:  deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap

Monetary donations

Thank you for supporting UCAP!

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

Upcoming Events

Send non-profit calendar events to wpjnewsla@gmail.com .

Dec. 2

2 p.m. Christmas Movie “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Spring Theatre, Springhill. Admission: $5.

Dec. 3

2 until 5 p.m. Christmas Tour of Homes, Springhill. Tickets: $10. Tickets may be purchased at any of the following homes: Ms. Mara Davis, 203 Mill Pond Rd., Springhill; Mr. & Mrs. Robert Smith, 800 Sherry Lane, Springhill; Mr. & Mrs. Lane Knighten, 400 Columbia Rd. 245, Taylor, Ark.; Mr. & Mrs. Jimmy Jennings, 25459 Hwy. 157, Shongaloo; and Mr. & Mrs. Charles Cole, 125 Rural Rd., Sarepta.

4 p.m. Christmas event at Brushwood Methodist Church. All Strings for Granted – a quartet of 2 violins, 1 cello and 1 viola – will be playing Christmas classics. This is a professional string quartet that has provided music for special events all of over the Ark-La-Tex. Brushwood Church is located at 6320 Brushwood Dr., Dubberly. Doors open at 3:30 p.m. All are welcome to come and enjoy.

6 p.m. The Sounds of Christmas, an instrumental concert. First Minden, 301 Pennsylvania Ave.

Dec. 4

5:30 p.m. Doors open for ‘Prepare Him Room,’ First Methodist Church, 903 Broadway Minden. Program begins at 6 p.m. Worship with Rachel Chapman. Program by Prof. Kristi McLelland.

Dec. 8

2 until 4 p.m., Cookies with Mrs. Santa, Germantown Colony Museum, 200 Museum Road, Minden. Bring your camera.

Christmas in Minden:

5:30 p.m. – Tree Lighting Ceremony, Minden Civic Center;

6 p.m. Rehab Reindeer Run, Ridgewood Subdivision; and,

6 p.m. Holiday Trail of Lights Hayride, Minden Civic Center.

Dec. 9

8 a.m. Community Prayer Breakfast, Pine Grove Methodist Church, 4549 La. Hwy. 159.

2 until 4 p.m., Cookies with Santa, Germantown Colony Museum, 200 Museum Road, Minden. Bring your camera.

4 until 6 p.m. Santa in Sibley

Christmas in Minden:

9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Christmas Brunch at Geaux Fresh;

Noon until 3 p.m. Kids Ornament Crafting, Dorcheat Museum, Pearl Street, Minden;

4 p.m. Christmas Parade;

5 p.m. Entertainment, downtown stage; and,

7:30 p.m. Fireworks, downtown Minden.

Dec. 13-14

3 until 4 p.m. Mini Sundancer Camp, Pre-K through 6th grade. Performance at Dec. 15 Glenbrook basketball game.

Dec. 15

6 p.m. Fireworks Celebration at Sibley Town Hall.

Saving Rebecca

Just before Thanksgiving each year, a turkey receives a presidential pardon in a ceremony at the White House called the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation.  Beginning in the 1870s, Rhode Island poultry dealer Horace Vose began sending turkeys to the White House for Thanksgiving dinner.  Following Horace’s death in December of 1913, other poulterers sent turkeys to the White House and the tradition has continued.  In the 1960s and 1970s, presidents occasionally pardoned a Thanksgiving turkey, but the presidential pardoning ceremony became a yearly tradition in 1984 when Ronal Reagan pardoned a 53-pound turkey called R.J., which was short for “Robust and Juicy.”

On November 26, 1926, Vinney Joyce of Nitta Yuma, Mississippi, sent his Thanksgiving “table delicacy” eventually named Rebecca to the White House chef.  President Calvin Coolidge considered his thanksgiving meal as he eyed Rebecca.  After a little consideration, Calvin decided to pardon Rebecca.  At first, Rebecca was kept in a crate in the White House’s warm cellar.  For some reason, Calvin was unable to stop thinking about the intended Thanksgiving entree.  Within a short time, Calvin moved her from the cellar up to the living quarters of the White House.  First Lady Grace Coolidge took to Rebecca as well.  They found Rebecca to be tame, lively, cunning, and friendly. 

Rebecca quickly became an official presidential pet.  While the first family had dogs and a cat which were kept in the White House kennel, Rebecca had pens inside the White House and on the south lawn of the White House.  The president, first lady, and Rebecca were almost inseparable.  In the 1920s, radio was the most popular form of home entertainment.  As the president sat listening to his favorite radio shows by the fireside, Rebecca sat comfortably on his lap.  Within a couple of weeks, the president and first lady had trained Rebecca to walk on a leash.  On her collar was inscribed, “Rebecca.”  Calvin took Rebecca for daily walks.  Grace took Rebecca to numerous events, especially where children were present to show off the pet.  On Easter Sunday, 1927, the first lady took Rebecca to the annual Easter Egg Roll.  The crowd of 30,000 shrieking children and clicking of the photographers’ cameras were too much for Rebecca, and she clawed at the first lady and a couple of the children.  Once she was returned to the White House, Rebecca returned to her normally calm nature.  Rebecca often accompanied the president and first lady in their limousine on rides throughout the capital.  Rebecca even appeared in the president’s 1926 Christmas photo.

Having Rebecca as a presidential pet was sometimes trying.  The White House staff nicknamed Rebecca “Houdini” due to her ability to escape any enclosure.  Rebecca often scratched and damaged curtains, rugs, carpets, and furniture in the White House.  On June 7, 1927, Rebecca was left unattended in her pen on the White House lawn.  While no one was looking, Rebecca escaped and spent two hours stealthily exploring the neighborhood around the White House while attachés desperately searched for her.  Finally, they located Rebecca hiding in a tree.  They tried to coax her down from the tree, but Rebecca refused.  Finally, a local electrician climbed the tree and retrieved Rebecca.  Despite a few naughty incidents, Rebecca was still considered to be the president’s “most amiable pet,” and on those matters the smitten president remained true to his moniker, “Silent Cal.”   

It is unlikely that we will ever see a White House pet that could capture national interest such as Rebecca did in the late 1920s.  Unfortunately, laws in the District of Columbia prevent animals such as Rebecca from being kept as pets, even presidential pets.  Rebecca, the intended Thanksgiving entrée which was pardoned by President Calvin Coolidge and became a beloved presidential pet, was not a turkey, but a raccoon.     Happy Thanksgiving!!!


1.      Buffalo Evening News, November 27, 1926, p.1.

2.     The Evening Sun (Baltimore, Maryland), November 27, 1926, p.9.

3.     Buffalo Evening News, December 1, 1926, p.1.

4.     Fort Worth Record-Telegram, December 25, 1926, p.7.

5.     The Brooklyn Daily Times, June 8, 1927, p.2.

6.     Betty C. Monkman, “Pardoning the Thanksgiving Turkey,” White House Historical Association, 2019. https://www.whitehousehistory.org/pardoning-the-thanksgiving-turkey.

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.

Nov. 20

Jeffery J. Mitchell, 30, of the 700 block of East Rd., Cullen, was arrested by Springhill Police for possession of narcotics with intent to distribute and racketeering. He was previously arrested Nov. 1 on 5 counts of distribution in a separate but related case.

Nov. 21

Samuel Richard Riley, 59, of the 400 block of Guy Miller Rd., Minden, was arrested by WPSO on active warrants for computer aided solicitation of a minor and indecent behavior with a minor.

Nov. 22

Bobby L. Mitchell, 63, of the 600 block of E. 2nd St., Homer, was arrested by LSP-G on US 79 south of La. 518. He is charged with driving while intoxicated (2nd offense), speeding (78 in a 55 mph zone) and driving under suspension.

Nov. 23

Ashley R. Adams, 36, of Percy Burns Rd., Springhill, was arrested by Springhill Police on an active warrant for failure to pay a fine.

Nov. 24

Lillie E. McEachern, 35, of the 2000 block of Dorcheat Rd., Minden, was arrested by WPSO on two active warrants. After transported to Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center, McEachern was found to have a small bag of crystal methamphetamine. Charges of introduction of contraband in a penal facility and possession of methamphetamine were added.

Randal D. Eason, 37, of Sarepta, was arrested by WPSO on a warrant for stalking.

Harley Ray Coile, 21, of Lindsey St., Cotton Valley, was arrested by Springhill Police for possession of methamphetamine.

Dock Antonio Odom, 62, of the 200 block of Goode Ave., Minden, was arrested by LSP-G for driving while intoxicated, driving with a suspended license and improper lane usage.

Nov. 25

Pamela S. Carden, 66, of the 9600 block of Hwy. 80, was arrested by WPSO for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.

Tyrone William Willis, 74, of the 500 block of Joel St., Minden, was arrested by MPD for committing an obscene in act in his neighbor’s yard.

Chester Muhammad Keyes, 27, of the 1100 block of Young St., Minden, was arrested by MPD for aggravated flight from an officer, resisting arrest with force, driving while intoxicated, driving under suspension while driving while intoxicated, open container and reckless operation of a motor vehicle.

Nov. 27

Randall Gene Lary, 43, of the 100 block of Forest Glades, Sibley, was arrested by WPSO for battery of a dating partner and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. While at BDCC, Lary was questioned by LSP-G concerning a same-day I-20 eastbound hit and run, reckless operation and failure to report an accident. Those charges were added.

Kenneth Ray Perry, 42, of Springhill, was arrested by Springhill Police for distribution of methamphetamine.

Devyn Malik Wilson, 24, of Irvine, Texas, was arrested by Springhill Police and WPSO on possession warrants for marjuana, methamphetamine (Ecstasy), Xanax with intent to distribute and drug paraphernalia.

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 – Nov. 27, 2023

Margie A. Chisholm

May 22, 1940 – Nov. 24, 2023

Minden, La.

Funeral service: 10 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023, First Baptist Church of Minden.

Burial: 11:15 a.m. Gardens of Memory under the direction of Rose-Neath Funeral Home, Minden.

William Eagan Kirkpatrick

August 2, 1944 – Nov. 25, 2023

Shongaloo, La.

Visitation: 5 until 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023, Bailey Funeral Home, Haynesville.

Graveside service: 1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023, Friendship Cemetery, Haynesville, under the direction of Bailey Funeral Home, Haynesville.

Donald Truett Harrison

March 6, 1963 – Nov. 22, 2023

Elm Grove/Springhill

Visitation: 2 until 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023, Bailey Funeral Home, Springhill.

Memorial service: 3 p.m. immediately following visitation.

William ‘Bill’ Francis Stanley Jr.

March 20, 1953 – Nov. 23, 2023

Minden, La.

Celebration of life to be announced at a later date.

Webster Parish Journal publishes paid complete obituaries – unlimited words and a photo, as well as unlimited access – $80. Contact your funeral provider or wpjnewsla@gmail.com . Must be paid in advance of publication. (Above death notices are no charge.)

Det. Sgt. Jason Smith: Promoting science to solve crime

Detective Sgt. Jason Smith, Minden Police Department

By Pat Culverhouse

Times are changing, and Detective Sgt. Jason Smith wants to help put the Minden Police Department on a path that changes the way crimes are solved and digs deeper into the ‘who’ and ‘why’ of those committing the offenses.

Smith is head of the MPD’s Criminal Investigation Division, supervising a group of detectives that has scored an impressive record of solving cases using a combination of technology and old-fashioned hard work. And, he says, it’s technology that will play a major role in the department’s success.

“We’re working towards fighting crime scientifically and with technology, coupled with good old-fashioned police work,” Smith said. “We have lots of new guys in CID. They’re young enough to know how technology works and how to solve crimes scientifically. That’s going to be our goal.”

Using technology as a major crimefighting tool is reflective of the world today, he said.

“Old fashioned police work is never going to go away, but in 2023 I can solve more crime with a laptop than somebody else can working 12 hours on the street. It’s the way the world works now.  We still have to do the leg work, but we will be seeing advancements we can’t imagine today,” he said. 

Some of those advancements may help Smith and the CID resolve a murder case that has stymied investigators for a little more than six years.

“We’re working on the Tyronne Sumlin  murder case, and we hope with the new information available and advancements we may be able to put handcuffs on a suspect,” Smith said. “These advancements may be opening doors that were not open in 2017.” Sumlin was shot and killed in September, 2017. To date, no arrests have been made.

Smith understands the importance of the new science in solving crime, but he also knows there’s a need to know the individuals who are committing the bad acts. A major tool in his investigative arsenal is his undergraduate degree in forensic psychology from Arizona State University. 

“Forensic psychology, I think, is a good mesh between criminal justice and psychology. A forensic psychologist is one who determines if someone is competent to stand trial … their mental capacity,” he explained. “I wanted to have a good foundation because mental health is a big issue in the country and in northwest Louisiana. A lot of crime is committed because of mental health issues.”

And, he’ll soon be seeking a post-grad degree in crime analysis.

“Crime analysis is a new program at ASU that takes analytical crime mapping and developing trends. It will focus on attacking sources of crime scientifically rather than just arresting someone,” Smith said.

Smith began his MPD career in 2018 as a patrol officer. He swapped uniforms to come to Minden, serving 15 years in the U.S. Army as a counter intelligence agent and national security crime investigator. During his time in the Army, he was also an investigations and surveillance instructor at the national counterintelligence academy.

With his experience at the national level, why come to Minden to continue a law enforcement career?

“I’m from here. This is where I think I can have the most impact,” Smith said. “And, we have a good group of people working well together…the pay has been increased so we can be more selective, more competitive. We have better people better suited to the needs of Minden and Webster Parish.”

Funding for the department in both personnel and advanced technology has improved, thanks in part to fundraisers and the state’s Safety Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP).  Smith also attributes growth and improvement to MPD leadership.

“Under the visionary leadership of our Chief Jared McIver and assistant chiefs Chris Cheatham and Tokia Harrison, we have put the right people in the right place to do the right job,” Smith said. “I’m successful because I have a great team surrounding me. We work all cases together. If I don’t have an answer, someone else will.”

Public perception of police officers has changed dramatically in a short time, and it hasn’t been for the better. Smith said one goal is to get officers into the public where they can interact and be seen as individuals no different than those they serve.

“Being a police officer is not the noble profession it was once perceived to be,” he said. “Incidents like Brianna Taylor and George Floyd and the way the media portrayed them, the police are now seen as the bad guys. We want to put police officers in the public in uniform so kids can associate the uniform with something positive. Most times we see people on the worst days of their lives. We want to be seen actually helping someone.”

Smith said being a police officer is a matter of multitasking, and it’s often a matter of just doing the best possible in a bad situation.

“Cops are a pastor, an attorney, a mental health expert, a marriage counselor…we’re expected to help. If we can go on a call and not make an arrest, and everyone is happy and safe, we’ve done our job,” he said. “I don’t look at arrest stats as the making of a good police officer.”

Efforts to neutralize crime scientifically and with technology are top priorities for Smith and the officers in the department. But, he said, there are a couple of very important things that sit atop his priority list.

“I only care about two things—the safety and security of the citizens of Minden and the health and welfare of the officers in our department,” Smith said.

(Editor’s note: During his interview, Smith reflects on the impact of juvenile crime on Minden. Please see next Wednesday’s edition of the Webster Parish Journal.)

Perryman replaces Campbell on WPCVC

By Paige Nash

Webster Parish Convention and Visitors Commission (WPCVC) has added a fresh face to the table and with that, hopefully, some fresh ideas and perspective.

When one commissioner leaves, another is recommended.

Following Commissioner Tracy Campbell’s announcement at their September meeting that he will be rolling after serving six years, Campbell made a recommendation on who could take his seat. The Webster Parish Police Jury approved that recommendation earlier this month and Brandon Perryman was welcomed to the WPCVC.  

“I’m really excited about it,” said Perryman. “There are some really great people on this board that are doing an excellent job and I’m honored to have been asked to be on it with them.” 

Perryman also currently serves on the Greater Minden Chamber and their Minden Steering Committee. He recently joined the Recreation Center’s Sports Committee and is the Vice-President of Dixie Overland Waterworks and owner of Perryman Welding and Construction. Perryman and his wife Laura are also part owners of Dorcheat Bayou Rentals. 

When asked if he had any ideas or immediate plans that he would like to execute upon joining WPCVC, he said, “Right now I would say my plans starting off is to see what plans or ideas are in place for this coming up year and what their goals are and see if I can help with that.” 

WPCVC Executive Director Serena Gray is excited to get Perryman on board.  

She said, “Brandon Perryman will make an excellent addition to our board of commissioners. He has been an active partner in our efforts promoting outdoor recreation for Webster Parish for two and a half years and truly has a heart to make our community a better place. I am filled with anticipation as we prepare to enter the new year and I’m ready to hear more about the vision he has for tourism in Webster Parish.” 

The commission will meet again after the new year but have plenty of upcoming events scheduled to finish off 2023. Check out their website https://www.visitwebster.net/ for more information.

Choosing Gratitude

You may know some or all this story but reading it again brings new meaning to me each Thanksgiving season. In the summer of 1620, a group of English Separatists planned to travel to the New World to escape religious persecution and begin new lives. They were not “wild-eyed fanatics” bent on endangering themselves and their families, in fact they had a very sound plan for survival. They would leave England and travel on two ships, the Speedwell and the Mayflower. With about 100 in their group plus the crew, the two ships would accommodate them well. They would leave in the summer to avoid the brutal Atlantic storms of the fall and land in sunny Virginia with plans to plant and harvest a crop of food well before winter. What could possibly go wrong? 

They left England on August 5, 1620, but as the journey began, the Speedwell leaked badly, and they had to turn back to port. After an attempt at repair and another departure, the Speedwell’s leaks sent them back again. Now the Mayflower was their only option, and they were far behind schedule. On September 5, they finally sailed for Virginia, but the storms of the Atlantic were already blowing, causing damage to the ship and blowing them off course to the north. When they reached land in November, they were near Cape Cod, not Virginia, but the damaged ship and lack of food and water forced them to make landfall at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts.

That first winter with rationed food and disease rampant, more than half of the settlers died and were buried in unmarked graves to hide their depleted numbers. Winter passed and with the spring came a new friend, a Pokanoket tribal member named Tisquantum or “Squanto”. Because he had been kidnapped and had lived in England, he knew their language. They learned how to plant and cultivate crops from Squanto and harvested their first crop. 

When November came with the anniversary of their landing and survival at sea. Most wanted to have several days of mourning and fasting to honor those, nearly half of them, who died from hunger and disease. But Governor William Bradford had the faith to suggest a feast of thanksgiving to God who had brought them through the ordeal and blessed them with a harvest. One eyewitness said of that decision, “Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week.” Those birds included waterfowl and probably wild turkey. Edward Winslow also wrote, “many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deer, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governor.” (Edward Winslow, “Mourts Relation”, 1620)

Thanksgiving Day reminds us that we make choices every day, to live our lives in regret and grief or to remember that God has provided for us each day; the air that we breathe, the health we enjoy, the ability to work and produce, the strength to live and the opportunities to provide for ourselves and our families. May this Thanksgiving season reflect your good choice to live in gratitude not remorse! 

 (Steve Berger is pastor of First Methodist Church Minden, a Global Methodist Church. He is the husband of Dianne, his partner in ministry, they have two adult sons, a dachshund, and love living in Minden.)

WPJ wishes readers Happy Thanksgiving

Webster Parish Journal will NOT be publishing Thursday, November 23, in recognition of Thanksgiving. We will be joining our families in giving thanks, and we hope you will be doing the same.

Our WPJ staff will also be giving thanks for all our readers and advertisers. Without you, there would be no Webster Parish Journal. Happy Thanksgiving! And don’t eat too much!

Springhill Police arrest 2 men for stealing checks

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Springhill Police arrested two north Webster men for attempting to cash a stolen check that belonged to a deceased Claiborne Parish man.

Colton Brian Waller, 25, and Tony Taylor, 22, of N. Arkansas St., Springhill, are charged with monetary instrument abuse.

Police Chief Will Lynd said Waller and Taylor were attempting to leave a bank parking lot when law enforcement arrived.

“We apprehended the two men,” Lynd said. “Mr. Taylor had in his possession the stolen payroll check and on the passenger side of the vehicle, where Mr. Waller was located, several other checks were located and identified as belonging to the late Mr. Marty Estep of Haynesville.”

Once transported to Springhill Police Department, Taylor reportedly admitted to stealing the checks from Estep’s business in Haynesville.

“He said Mr. Waller was with him at the time of the incident,” Lynd said. “Then he said Waller filled out the check and named 3 other suspects that have received checks from him, filled them out and cashed them.”

Estep died in June 2021. He owned and operated a bookkeeping service in Haynesville.

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.

Minden Police, K-9 officer arrest man with drugs, firearms

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Minden Police K-9 officer Brams, his handler and another officer made quick work of taking a man with drugs and firearms off local streets .

Stephen Shawn Johnson, 28, of the 1200 block of Shreveport Rd., Minden, is charged as a felon in possession of a firearm, possession of methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia, possession of a firearm in the presence of a controlled dangerous substance and illegal window tint.

Police Chief Jared McIver said Officer Kendale Booker conducted a traffic stop for illegal window tint around 11 p.m. Saturday on Shreveport Road.

“The driver was identified as Johnson,” McIver said. “Lt. (Brandon) Curry had K-9 Brams conduct a sniff on the vehicle, and Brams alerted on the vehicle, leading to a legal search.”

During the search, a Raven Arms .25 caliber handgun was recovered.

“A search of John’s criminal history revealed a conviction for methamphetamine in 2020,” said the chief. “A search warrant was signed on Johnson’s motel room, and that search turned up several items.”

Located were a Bodyguard 380 caliber handgun, clear baggie with methamphetamines, two digital scales, a box of sandwich bags, plastic baggies with multiple small zip baggies, multiple bags of syringes and a box of Blazer 380 caliber rounds.

Johnson was booked at Minden Police Department and transferred to Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center.

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.

Wright going to court for making wrong move

By Bonnie Culverhouse

A Tennessee man is testing his luck in 26th Judicial District Court on attempted murder charges.

Eric L. Wright, 19, of Memphis, was arrested by WPSO for attempted second degree murder Oct. 27, 2022. At the time of his arrest, Wright was jailed at Bossier Maximum Prison.

According to reports, Wright will stand trial in Judge Parker Self’s courtroom on December 11. Assistant District Attorney Jimbo Yocom will try the case, while Attorney Eric Johnson will represent Wright.

Wright allegedly made this wrong move Jan. 16, 2022.

This information has been provided by a law enforcement agency and court records 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.

Aunt Ethel’s Go-To Holiday Diet Plan  

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Wrote this in 2010 to help get you and me and our digestive systems through the holidays safely. The Worldwide Chocolate Shortage predicted back then did not, thank goodness, come to pass. So … pass the chocolate.)

These are the times that try men’s … colons?

Even the most casual eater, wandering aimlessly through The Land of the Leftover, has got to be heads-up in these post-Thanksgiving days. Cheese dip here. Sausage ball there. Week-old giblets, ripe for the taking. 

Food jitters.

For some reason, we are robotically drawn to seasonal foods, even though there are plenty of holiday experiences available that should cause us to lose our appetites. If you can’t relate, then you’ve never been hugged right before a holiday meal by a great aunt. With a goatee. Who’s dipping snuff. 

Welcome to my world.

(I have a friend who once lost 15 pounds during December. She didn’t mean to. But right before one Thanksgiving dinner, her uncle said to her, table-side, “Honey, I wonder why God took all the hair off my head and put it on my back?” She was able to eat solid food again, but not until somewhere around Valentine’s Day.)

Another dietary issue this time of year: stadium food. Close to Football Bowl season. Pressure’s on. So we eat either to relieve the stress of a stretch run or to keep from being bored stiff because our team IS a stiff.  I have yet another friend who shared with me his digestive system misgivings after Saturday’s joyous time in a football stadium occupied by a team that’s more up and down than a prairie dog. “My most painful lesson from the weekend,” he said, “was that pre-prandial and post-prandial reflections on a stadium corn dog are two very different realities.”

Prandial means “of or relating to a meal.” It’s from the rural Latin “prandium,” meaning, “I should not have ate that.” As you have surmised, to use those kinds of high-dollar words, my friend is pretty smart – but not smart enough to call time out in the corn dog line. You do not toy with a mass-produced corn dog in a competitive atmosphere far, far from your home locker room. You don’t do it.

Let this be a lesson to us all: your digestive system doesn’t know you have a high IQ. Faulty plumbing due to pilot error puts us all — the prince and the pauper, the duke (excuse my French) and the serf — right there on the same page.

 The corn dog on a stick I ate was more than just inviting.

Too bad I didn’t think that later it would do the biting.

  • From Fourth and Long, a work in progress 

Food jits.

If our own lack of self-control and the overpowering temptations of the season weren’t enough, the food world and Mother Nature herself might be conspiring against us. My own personal mother, of all people, alerted me to this tragedy.

The Nature Conservation Research Council, which sounds like an important thing, forecasts a chocolate shortage. Because African farmers are ditching their cocoa farms for other easier-to-grow crops, chocolate might either disappear or increase drastically in price. This means that in 20 years, a Baby Ruth could well be out of my price range. My mother’s grandchildren call her “Sweeter,” so you can imagine how this is affecting my family. Let’s hold hands and …

Chocolate Lamentations

No Twix? No Bliss? No Hershey’s Kiss,

No chocolate dip fondue?

The question we must pray is

“What would Willie Wonka do?”

Contact Teddy at teddy@latech.edu

‘Walk’ focuses on Alzheimer’s, Walter Anderson

By Paige Nash

Sibley will be hosting their very first “Walk to End Alzheimer’s” on Saturday, December 9, on the track behind Sibley Town Hall. 

This event is being put on by the Anderson Family, of Sibley, who were deeply and personally affected by this disease. 

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions. It causes brain cell connection and the cells themselves to degenerate and die. Memory loss and confusion are the main symptoms. Currently no cure exists.  

Jay Anderson’s father, Walter Anderson, passed away on Christmas Eve of 2019 after suffering a long battle with Alzheimer’s. He was the third youngest of 14 kids and joined the Air Force upon turning 18. After serving eight years and two tours in Thailand, he and his wife moved back to the states where he worked for TideCraft as a boat salesman for many years until they closed. He made do with odd jobs here and there until he was asked to join the team at Harper Motors.   

Jay described his father as having the “gift of gab,” which he thinks contributed to his success as a salesman. “He found his niche and did very well. Dad was always amazing with numbers. He did his math and deals usually in his head,” he said. 

It was when Walter could no longer perform this special feat that his family began to grow concerned that there was something else more serious going on with his health. 

“When we noticed he wasn’t able to run his numbers or having trouble, we knew something was wrong,” said Jay. “He retired from Harper Motors basically telling everyone he couldn’t keep up with the new technology coming out in the vehicles, and part of that was true. It got too much for him as he was never one to use a computer and that is basically what cars are nowadays.” 

Outside of work, Walter was well known for always being there when the people he knew, and sometimes did not know, needed him. He also helped coach baseball.  

“Not many folks know, when he managed the Minden RedBirds, he was the one that got that division across the country to hold the World Series in little Ol’ Minden. One of the stipulations was the field at Griffith Stadium needed some major upgrades,” said Jay.  

One big problem was the depth of the ballpark. The league required a certain distance in the outfield.  

Jay continued, “Well, since there wasn’t any more property behind the fence, he found a way around it and had the wall you see there now put up. That satisfied the league, and our little town was blessed to have teams from New York, Chicago and California come visit and play.” 

Walter was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016. 

Jay reflected on the hardest days after his father’s diagnosis. He said, “Alzheimer’s is a truly horrible disease. You watch your loved ones slowly regress forgetting more and more each day. The most disheartening feeling is when they fail to recognize you whether it’s their kids, grandkids or especially their spouse. Sadly, we experienced this firsthand with my dad. I watched my dad, a man that raised 3 men, revert to a 10-year-old.” 

This is why Jay felt strongly led to begin this “Walk to End Alzheimer’s” with hopes to make it an annual event. 

“I just feel the need to do what I can to raise awareness and money that will be used to continue research into finding a cure,” he said. 

They will begin registration at 9 a.m. with the walk beginning at 10 a.m. There will also be raffles and items for sale. For those interested in registering early, scan the QR code below.

It Takes a Village (or at least a dedicated team)

There are a lot of factors that go into the process of writing, testing, re-testing, editing, photographing, re-editing, styling, re-re-editing, publishing, marketing, and distributing a cookbook. It’s a process I’ve become quite familiar with over the past two decades. Though the word “factors” is slightly misleading. The correct terminology should be “people.”

My latest cookbook, “Mississippi Mornings” was released yesterday. It is my 13th book in the last 21 years. And whereas it has my name on the cover, it— like every book I’ve written before it— was a team effort. The true story of every cookbook, not just mine but anyone’s, is not on the cover, but on the acknowledgements page. It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child. Maybe so, but it definitely takes a great team to publish a cookbook.

From day one my business philosophy has been— take great care of the people who take care of you, and I have always believed in giving credit where credit is due. With Mississippi Mornings there’s a lot of credit to give.

My team is one that, at least when it comes to the culinary lineup, has been together since that first book 21 years ago. Chef Linda Roderick leads our recipe-testing team. The two of us have worked together—on and off—for more than 23 years. We’ve worked together for so long, and on so many projects, that we practice our own version of verbal kitchen shorthand and can communicate efficiently in partial sentences. She has an excellent palate, tons of wisdom, and loads of experience. Together we have more than three-quarters of a century in this business. Hers has been one of my favorite professional relationships, ever, and we are currently in the process of developing and testing the recipes for next year’s cookbook.

Chef Scott Strickland (we call him Scotty), served as Linda’s sous chef for recipe testing and photo shoots. He and I have also worked together for more than twenty years. He manned the stoves at the Purple Parrot for almost two decades and is now working his magic in the kitchen at The Midtowner. He, along with Linda, did the heavy lifting on the recipe testing. He has always been by my side, whether it’s for a new feature in the restaurant or an out-of-town cooking demonstration. His talents are numerous.

Kate Dearman shot all the photographs in the book and might be one of the hardest working women in the photography business. I have known her mother— my first-ever date to a concert when we were both six— all my life. Kate grew up in Hattiesburg and now works out of Nashville. She is a consummate professional and got some great food shots for the book. She also had the unenviable task of trying to secure a usable photograph of the author, which probably turned out to be a tougher task than making a plain bowl of grits look appealing.

 Martha Foose was still living between the Mississippi Delta and— what she quickly labeled the “Pine Belta” in— Hattiesburg when we shot the book. She is also a cookbook veteran and served as the primary food stylist for the photo shoot. In the middle of the photo shoot, I asked her to write the foreword. She nailed both assignments and kept everyone in stitches the entire time.

 Anthony Thaxton is possibly the most talented person I know. He is a man of many gifts who wears many hats. In addition to being my co-producer on numerous television shows and a couple of documentary projects, his is also my fellow co-founder— and the driving force— at our newly founded Institute of Southern Storytelling at Mississippi College. He handled the design and artistic direction for this project and did it well. This may be my best-looking book, ever.

 Simeon Williford is my assistant and keeper. She handles the publishing business and the travel business in addition to my schedule and most of the random things that pop up over the course of my days. She keeps me between the bumpers and in the bonus.

 To round out the team Laurel Rowell handles marketing, Maria Keyes covers accounting (and farm-fresh eggs), Chief Operating Officer, Jarred Patterson, holds down the forts. And while we’re speaking of the forts, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the 450 team members who are down in the daily trenches at New South Restaurant Group restaurants every day.

Jill St. John and Justin Jordan should receive special thanks for floral design, staging, and handling the props department. I never knew that turning our dining room into what looked like a temporary flea market could be so effective.

Four of the 13 books I have written were done so under national publishing contracts. One was a three-book deal with the national publisher 15 years ago. There were two books I wanted to do with that publisher when I signed the deal. One was a Christmas cookbook the other was a breakfast cookbook. They weren’t interested in doing a Christmas cookbook but said they could do a holiday cookbook. I passed and made a mental note to publish a Christmas book under my own imprint in the future. I ended up doing a grilling book instead of the breakfast book and was very proud of it. It was one of my better efforts. But the breakfast book has always been on the to-do list. That day has come.

Having worked in the self-publishing world for most of my books I’ve learned a lot. For a long time, I thought a book project wasn’t legit unless it came from a national publisher. And then I worked with two different national publishers and was surprised to learn that— at least when it comes to my work and my specific audience— I am more in touch with my base than the professionals on the Upper West Side. It’s around that time that I decided to use my own imprint for all future works.

I no longer have the desire to have my books in stores from coast to coast. Been there, done that. These days my interest is in those who follow my work in the Southeastern United States. I also only work with local independent bookstores and gift shops. That’s one change I made a couple of books ago. My books were being sold in all the big box retailers, but the backbone of my support was in independent bookstores and gift shops. I am a huge proponent of people eating in local restaurants and not dining in national chains and it struck me one day why would I work against independent booksellers and small gift shops who are on the front lines of the book business.  I need to practice what I preach and support those who have supported me and my work.

As I head out on a brief book-signing tour throughout Mississippi, I’ll be fueled by an overwhelming sense of gratitude and indebtedness for those independent retailers who sell my books, to those who take time out of their day to come to a book signing to purchase one of my books, the robertstjohn.com online followers who live out of state and order books, and especially those who have helped me produce these books for the past two decades.

 As always, it’s the people. Thank you from the deepest recesses of my overworked heart.


Sweet Potato Pancakes

I ate my first sweet potato pancake during my only visit to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. My family, along with another couple and their young children rented a cabin in the mountains during spring break. I woke every morning and headed into town for breakfast. I would imagine Gatlinburg has more pancake houses per capita than any place on the planet. My problem is that I never found a good-tasting pancake until I happened across sweet potato pancakes at one of the pancake houses.

 We serve a version of this recipe at The Midtowner. The Cinnamon Cream Syrup is a must.

Yield: 10-14 pancakes

Preheat oven to 200 degrees for holding pancakes

1 2/3  cups All Purpose Flour

1 TBSP Baking Powder

½ tsp Baking Soda

½ tsp Kosher Salt

½ tsp Nutmeg

1 ½ tsp  Cinnamon

 1 ½ cups Cooked and mashed sweet potato (approximately two medium sweet potatoes)

3 Large Eggs

¼ cup Sour Cream

1 ½ cups Milk

¼ cup Maple Syrup

¼ cup Unsalted Butter, melted

1 TBSP Pure Vanilla Extract 

 Melted butter or non-stick spray for cooking 

 Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon in a medium sized bowl. In a separate mixing bowl whisk together the sweet potato puree eggs, sour cream, milk, maple syrup, melted butter and vanilla extract. Whisk the sweet potato mixture into the flour mixture, do not overmix. A few lumps is fine.

 Allow batter to sit 10-15 minutes before cooking pancakes.

 To cook the pancakes, heat a non-stick griddle to 325-350 degrees (models vary, so test your griddle with a small bit of batter to assure you have the heat adjusted correctly). Brush griddle with melted butter or spray with non-stick spray. Form pancakes by using a one-third cup measuring cup. Cook until surface of pancakes has some bubbles and a few have burst, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip pancakes and cook for an additional two minutes. If holding pancakes in oven before serving, place them on a wire rack in preheated oven.

 Serve with Cinnamon Cream Syrup

Cinnamon Cream Syrup

 This pairs perfectly with Sweet Potato Pancakes. It may be better than the pancakes themselves (and they’re great). But try this recipe on regular pancakes, waffles, and French toast.

Yield: approximately 2 cups

1-14 ounce can Sweetened Condensed Milk

¼ cup + 2 TBSP Maple Syrup

1 ½ tsp Cinnamon

1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract

Pinch Salt

Set up a small sauce pot to act as a double boiler. Combine all ingredients in a small stainless-steel bowl and place over double boiler on medium-high heat. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and serve.

The cooled syrup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for one week.

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

With public’s help, ’Civitan Santa’ makes appearance again this year

The spirit of Christmas is here year ‘round, but never more than in the upcoming weeks.

Sponsoring clubs of events that make Christmas special for less fortunate children need help. Minden Civitan Club is just one of those organizations that is providing toys for local children with its annual toy donation program “Civitan Santa.”

This year, as in the past, “Civitan Santa” will be a joint project of Minden Civitan Club and Young Women’s Service Club.

Toy Chairman Ed LaBruyere said Civitans try to provide at least one new toy for each of the children who have nothing.

“It is only with your generous contributions that this program can provide this wonderful service for our local children,” he said.

Minden Police Department, also in a collaborative effort with Civitans and YWSC, is now accepting applications for “Civitan Santa,” (this program was formerly Toys for Tots). Apply in person at the Minden Police Department or online at http://www.mindenpolice.org –Click the Red Button

A valid ID number is required for online applications. Only children living at the address listed on the application are allowed.

Last year, the program provided toys for more than 450 children in more than 150 families in the Minden-South Webster Parish area.

“We were able to run this program due to the generosity of local businesses and individuals who donated money, as well as hundreds of dollars worth of new toys for the children,” LaBruyere said. “We ask the public to please consider us again this year. Without your help, several hundred children will think no one cares.”

Contributions may be sent to Minden Civitans, P. O. Box 95, Minden, La. 71058 or given to any member of Civilians or Young Women’s Service Club. Please make checks payable to the Civitan International Foundation, Federal ID #23-7407941.

Handling Thanksgiving leftovers

Often when people cook for the Thanksgiving holiday there are likely to be plenty of leftovers. To ensure that leftovers are safe to eat make sure the food is cooked to a safe internal temperature and refrigerate the leftovers promptly within two hours after they are removed from an appliance. Bacteria grows rapidly between the temperatures of 40° F and 140° F. After food is safely cooked, hot food must be kept hot at 140° F or warmer to prevent bacterial growth. Cooking food at an unsafe temperature and leaving food out for longer than two hours are the two main causes of foodborne illness. Foodborne illness is caused by food or beverages that are contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites, or toxins. Safe handling of leftovers is particularly important in reducing foodborne illness. 

Follow these 7 tips below to ensure your Thanksgiving leftovers are safe to consume.

  1. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers within two hours of preparation to reduce the possibility of bacteria growing. Any food sitting out at room temperature for longer than two hours should be discarded. 
  2. When storing meat leftovers cut large items of food into smaller portions to cool. For whole roasts or hams slice or cut them into smaller pieces. Cut turkey into smaller pieces and refrigerate. Slice breast meat, legs and wings may be left whole.
  3. It is important to get the temperature of the leftovers down quickly to prevent any type of bacterial growth. To speed up the cooling process, try separating massive quantities of leftovers into smaller containers. Leave hot foods partially uncovered while cooling, and then cover them completely once they reach 40º F or freeze.
  4. Hot food can be placed directly in the refrigerator or be rapidly chilled in an ice or cold-water bath before refrigerating. Leftovers can also be immediately frozen for reheating later. While freezing stops the growth of bacteria, food quality can suffer if stored too long in the freezer.
  5. When reheating leftovers, make sure the internal temperature of the food reaches at least 165º F before eating it. If using a microwave, stir the food occasionally to help promote even reheating.
  6. Properly handled leftovers can usually be kept in the refrigerator for three to four days, while frozen leftovers can last up to three or four months. If not eaten within that time, they should be discarded.
  7. When covering leftovers, wrap them in airtight packaging, or seal them in storage containers. These practices help keep bacteria out, retain moisture, and prevent leftovers from picking up odors from other food in the refrigerator. 

If you need help on Thanksgiving Day, the Meat and Poultry Hotline is available from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern Time. You can contact the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) to talk to a food safety expert or chat live at  ask.usda.gov from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. 

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

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

Upcoming Events

Send non-profit calendar events to wpjnewsla@gmail.com .

Nov. 25

Shop Small Saturday in Minden. Brunch, 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Geaux Fresh, Breakfast with Santa, 9 a.m. until 10:30 a.m., and noon, The ParTea Room.

Nov. 27

Deadline to register for ‘Prepare Him Room,’ First Methodist Church, 903 Broadway, Minden. Call 377-1483.

Dec. 3

4 p.m. Christmas event at Brushwood Methodist Church. All Strings for Granted – a quartet of 2 violins, 1 cello and 1 viola – will be playing Christmas classics. This is a professional string quartet that has provided music for special events all of over the Ark-La-Tex. Brushwood Church is located at 6320 Brushwood Dr., Dubberly. Doors open at 3:30 p.m. All are welcome to come and enjoy.

6 p.m. The Sounds of Christmas, an instrumental concert. First Minden, 301 Pennsylvania Ave.

Dec. 4

5:30 p.m. Doors open for ‘Prepare Him Room,’ First Methodist Church, 903 Broadway Minden. Program begins at 6 p.m. Worship with Rachel Chapman. Program by Prof. Kristi McLelland.

Dec. 8

2 until 4 p.m., Cookies with Mrs. Santa, Germantown Colony Museum, 200 Museum Road, Minden. Bring your camera.

Christmas in Minden:

5:30 p.m. – Tree Lighting Ceremony, Minden Civic Center;

6 p.m. Rehab Reindeer Run, Ridgewood Subdivision; and,

6 p.m. Holiday Trail of Lights Hayride, Minden Civic Center.

Dec. 9

8 a.m. Community Prayer Breakfast, Pine Grove Methodist Church, 4549 La. Hwy. 159.

2 until 4 p.m., Cookies with Santa, Germantown Colony Museum, 200 Museum Road, Minden. Bring your camera.

Christmas in Minden:

9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Christmas Brunch at Geaux Fresh;

Noon until 3 p.m. Kids Ornament Crafting, Dorcheat Museum, Pearl Street, Minden;

4 p.m. Christmas Parade;

5 p.m. Entertainment, downtown stage; and,

7:30 p.m. Fireworks, downtown Minden.

A letter to Heaven

Blessed does not even begin to describe how fortunate I have been during my lifetime. Not everyone gets the opportunities I was given to grow up in an East Texas community like Mt. Pleasant. My journey has been one of love, challenges and commitment from a couple who unable to have children of their own, decided to take on the role of being parents to a young boy who had all kinds of issues. I was a child trying to overcome so many learning deficiencies like Dyslexia and my attention span was beyond the word short. But every successful person has someone who laid the foundation that allowed them to have success. For me that was Laverne and Loyd Graf Jr.

I was Born on March 7,1961 in Richmond, Texas just south of Houston, to a mother who had just remarried and had a history of not being very responsible. My biological dad (who I never met) had nothing to do with me and never attempted to reach out and make a connection. By the age of 5, I was literally running the streets till all hours of the day and night. Everyone knows or has a kid that’s the so-called neighborhood “brat.” I was that annoying kid who had zero accountability as I ran foot loose and fancy free.

After struggling through the first grade and basically failing the first half of the year, my Aunt Laverne and Uncle Jr. entered my life and completely turned my life around. Below is a letter to Heaven I’m writing to acknowledge how thankful I am for their love and support which has led to my success as a person and as an athlete. By the age of ten, they legally became Mom and Dad. Here’s my letter to them….


Dear Mom & Dad,

         I don’t even know where to start other than from the very beginning when you and Dad decided to make a difference by taking on a huge challenge of a young boy who had all kinds of issues. My issues ran deep as a lost young boy, but you felt I was worth saving and took on the huge unselfish and challenging responsibility of turning my life around.

Your guidance and direction were very much needed but more importantly was the love you gave me. A love I had never felt before but knew was something I truly needed. You helped me become a more confident young man and to believe in my abilities in order to have success in life. You saw at an early age that God had blessed me with a special gift athletically and did everything you could to help me develop that talent.

Mom and Dad, just recently I was inducted into the Mt. Pleasant High School ISD Hall of Fame. As much as I wanted you to be there, a few tears fell that night as I felt your presence. Without both of you, this great honor never would have been possible. You sacrificed your time and money in order to support me and my dreams. The many hours and days of taking me to a practice and sitting in a parking lot waiting for me to get through. Driving across the state of Texas following and encouraging me and my teammates to be the best we could be. Many times, you humbled me and brought me back down to earth when I got the big head. Mom, you especially had a way of making me realize that I was not any bigger or better than anyone of my teammates.

You both taught me the value of hard work and good work ethics. That if you want to achieve your dreams, you must put in the time. To both of you I say thank you! Thank you for taking on the challenge of adopting and raising a young boy who faced so many obstacles. Any award or honor I have received, is an honor and an award for both of you!

From the bottom of my heart, thank you and I look forward to the day we will once again be together chasing our Heavenly dreams. I love both of you and I’m so thankful for the day you drove to Houston in 1968 and picked up a young boy looking for hope and someone who cared.

Love and miss you! Steve     

It’s amazing what can be accomplished by anyone who has the blessing of being raised by good parents who love and support their children. If you have parents of this caliber, be thankful as you’re truly blessed. Because not everyone has been as fortunate as I have. Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!!!

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.

Nov. 20

Garret Burkhalter, 32, of LaPlace, La., was arrested by WPSO on a fugitive warrant through St. Charles Parish for contempt of court.

Michael Tyron Stevenson, 65, of the 200 block of Hale Camp Rd., Doyline, was arrested by WPSO, Dixie Inn Police and Springhill Police for possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, possession of  a firearm with a controlled dangerous substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and improper lane usage.

Derrick Jermaine Wilson, 60, of the 200 block of Winwood Dr., Sibley, was arrested by WPSO for simple battery and a fugitive through MPD.

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.

Weekly Filings

The following civil suits were filed with the Webster Parish Clerk of Court the week beginning Nov. 16. Civil suits are a matter of public record.

Nov. 16

Republic Finance LLC vs. Yolanda Y. Calloway, monies due.

Laura Elizabeth Morado vs. Devin Dakota Sulzer, custody.

Putman Restoration vs. Lori Langford, monies due.

Michael Ramsey vs. Karen Lewis, divorce.

Nov. 17

Bonnie Jennifer Sherrard vs. Eric G. Johnson, damages.

First Tower Loan vs. Gerald L. Weathers, Catherine W. Weathers, monies due.

Harley-Davidson Credit Corp. vs. Mary Jiles, executory process.

Citibank vs. Clayton Hoyle, monies due.

JP Morgan Chase Bank vs. Brent A Dison, executory process.

Capital One vs. Ronald C. Edwards, monies due.

Nov. 20

Ivan Smith Furniture Co., vs. Alexis Chavez Garcia, monies due.

Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance vs. Earnest Ray Smith,  Cheryl W. Thomas, executory process.

Hailey Bolton vs. Eric Bolton, protective order.

Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance vs. Lenora Reeves, executory process.

Samantha Lard vs. John Burns, personal injury.

Business Capital Providers INC. vs. Siding Solutions LLC, judgment executory.

Nov. 21

Garold Loren Moon Jr., vs. Derek Wilbur Hall Jr., TY Energy Services LLC, National Union Fire Insurance Co., petition.

Notice of Death – Nov. 21, 2023

David Loughridge Murphy Jr.

Dec. 21, 1957 – Nov. 11, 2023

Minden, La.

Memorial service: 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Minden.

Jo Anne Shipman

Dec. 30, 1934 – Nov. 21, 2023

Sarepta, La.

Visitation: 5 until 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2023, Bailey Funeral Home, 304 First Street Northwest, Springhill, La.

Funeral service: 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, Bailey Funeral Home.

Burial: Springhill Cemetery.

Katherine ‘Kat’ Elaine Walker Bush

August 18, 1934 – Nov. 17, 2023

Bossier City, La./ Doyline, La.

Visitation: 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, Rose-Neath Funeral Home, Bossier City.

Funeral service: 11 a.m., immediately following visitation.

Burial: Doyline Cemetery, Doyline, La.

Webster Parish Journal publishes paid complete obituaries – unlimited words and a photo, as well as unlimited access – $80. Contact your funeral provider or wpjnewsla@gmail.com . Must be paid in advance of publication. (Above death notices are no charge.)

Does your dog bite? Council to study ordinances to stiffen penalties against owners

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Recent reports of dog attacks have prompted members of the Minden City Council to take a look at ordinances designed to keep safe residents, as well as canines.

District E Councilman Andy Pendergrass told fellow council members and officials during a November workshop that one of his constituents lived the dog attack nightmare.

“She just wanted to come here today and talk about ordinances and what we might do to change them,” Pendergrass said.

Kristen Utphall, of the 1100 block of Claiborne Avenue, told council members that in early October two of three pit bulls from her neighbor’s residence, apparently chewed through their wooden fence and entered her yard.

“I thought they’d gone back to their yard, so I went to the neighbor’s house and rang their doorbell to let them know their dogs were out,” Utphall said. “Two of the dogs circled around, pinned me on the front porch and attacked me.”

Police were called and Utphall was transported by ambulance to Minden Medical Center where she received 38 stitches in her left arm and chest.

“Both dogs lunged for my throat, and thank God I am a taller person,” she said. “If a shorter person or one of my kids rang that doorbell …”

No charges were filed against the dogs’ owners.

State ordinance 102.16 reads a dog may be seized if an officer is arresting the owner. Also, a dog determined to be vicious by the court would be humanely euthanized if it poses an immediate threat to public health and safety. (State Revised Statute 3:2773 defines vicious dogs.)

However, it may be up to city ordinance to ensure there are parameters the owners should keep that will avoid state law from coming into play.

Sec. 14-51 of the City of Minden’s code of ordinances reads Pit Bull and Rottweiler dogs specifically should be kept “effectively yarded” and controlled at all times when not accompanied by their owners and securely leashed and muzzled when out in public.

Confinements are specified as chain link fencing at least six feet in height and no closer than five feet from any property line and no closer than 20 feet from any neighboring home.

Owners of these specific breeds are required to obtain a license from the City of Minden Animal Control Department in order to own or keep more than three such adult (one year or older) dogs.

“I’m not villainizing the breed of dog by any means,” Utphall explained, “but these dogs were raised to be guard dogs and attack dogs, and that’s exactly what they did. When you have a dog you have weaponized in that manner, there has to be some way of ordaining that they are properly contained.”

Utphall said the emergency room physician told her family her wounds were Level 5 of 6 on *Dr. Ian Dunbar’s Dog Bite Scale. Level 5 reads the dog is “extremely dangerous and mutilates.” Euthanasia is recommended because “the quality of life is so poor for dogs that have to live out their lives in solitary confinement.”

Around the time of Utphall’s attack, Minden Animal Control was placed under authority of the police department.

Police Chief Jared McIver asked the council to research ordinances that may supersede state law.

“Our ordinances refer to state law for penalties,” McIver pointed out. “It would be good if we could look at stiffening our penalties.”

His plans are for officers to arrest owners on serious charges and to train animal control officers to write citations for less severe charges.

McIver said he is working with City Attorney Jimbo Yocom to produce a letter giving dog owners a time line to replace fencing.

“If you are going to weaponize a dog, you are going to have to take every precaution necessary unless someone is trying to break into that house,” he said. “The dogs were doing what they were trained to do, but the owners didn’t do what they should have done.”

Local veterinarian Joe Scroggs agrees with the chief, concerning the dogs’ training.

“There are certain dog breeds that have gained a bad reputation over the years,” Dr. Scroggs said. “These dogs are blamed for being aggressive, temperamental or simply mean. Chows, Rottweilers and Pit Bulls are a few examples of these breeds. With that being said, I honestly believe the main reason these dogs often bite is due to the way they have been handled and treated.”

Scroggs said even the smallest dogs can be vicious. But the larger breeds may seem more dangerous because of muscle mass, agility and jaw strength.

“I have seen the most ferocious Chihuahua in the exam room that needs to be muzzled, and then walk to the next room with the sweetest Pit Bull that wants nothing more than to lick you,” he said. “I never like to categorize dog breeds based on what I suspect their temperament will be. Unfortunately, we judge most of the breeds that have a bad reputation before we give them a chance to show us their real character and demeanor. I am not saying not to be cautious when encountering a dog that you do not know.”

McIver said changing the ordinances are a good place to start.

“We’re going to enforce whatever y’all give us,” the chief told council members. “But we really need to get on this pretty quick.”

After Utphall addressed the council, all those present said they had received calls of dog attacks in their districts.

*Dr. Ian Dunbar’s Dog Bite Scale is published by the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, Greenville, South Carolina.