Parade scheduled for Black History Month

Black History Month begins February 1.

Feb. 18

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

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

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

Thank you!


Upcoming Events

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

Jan. 20

1 p.m. Genealogy meeting at Webster Parish Libraries’ Minden Branch. For more information, contact Ginger at 318-371-3080 ext. 111.

Jan. 21

8 a.m. until noon Dorcheat Soil and Water Conservation District annual seedling sale, 216B Broadway, Minden.

Jan. 24

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

Jan. 26

5 until 7:15 p.m. Adult Paint Night, Minden Main Branch, Webster Parish Libraries. For more information, call 318-371-3080 ext. 123.

Jan. 31

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

Feb. 4

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

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

Feb. 11

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

April 26

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

• Scottish Highland dancing

• Storytelling, living history exhibitions 

• Food and merchant vendors, including Great Raft beer 

• Traditional music and Celtic Rock 

• Scottish Highland cattle petting area 

• Broadsword demonstrations and Highland Games exhibitions 

• Clan tent exhibits and the March of the Clans 


Notice of Death – Jan. 19, 2023

Hugh Dwayne Mize

Sept. 8, 1945 – Jan. 18, 2023

Springhill, La.

Visitation: 5 until 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20, 2023, Bailey Funeral Home, Springhill.

Funeral service: 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, Bailey Funeral Home.

Burial: Slack Memorial Cemetery, Springhill, under the direction of Bailey Funeral Home.

Sherry Branton Teutsch

July 27, 1939 – Jan. 16, 2023

Shongaloo, La.

Graveside service: 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, Union Springs Cemetery, Shongaloo, La.

Betty Jane Thompson Peterson

Dec. 22, 1935 – Jan. 12, 2023

Private Inurnment

Visitation: 10 a.m. Saturday, January 21, 2023, Rose-Neath Funeral Home, Airline Drive, Bossier City, La.

Memorial service: 11 a.m. Saturday, January 21, 2023, Rose-Neath Funeral Home. 

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


The cool mom

I have to brag this once. I am the cool mom this week. Yea, you heard that right… The COOL mom.  

What got me this most glorious, envied and short-lived title every mom longs for? 

I fed my daughter cereal for supper.  

As I poured her fruity pebbles into a disposable bowl, twisted the cap off the milk and handed her the also disposable plastic spoon, she looked up at me and said, “You’re the coolest mom ever.” 

Heck yes, I am! 

What she did not know was that I had not slept the night before because said kid did not want to sleep in her own bed and as she sawed logs all night, I was wide awake with a foot in my back.  

She did not know that I had just endured the longest day of my life that began with an alarm going off that I accidentally set for an hour later than what I was supposed to set it for. She also did not know that I had to rush through every other thing I had to do that day because of that mistake either.  

She did not know that as she cried going into school because she did not want to leave her mommy after a much needed and relaxing three-day weekend, that I also cried. 

She did not know that I missed my exit on the way to work. She did not know that I spilled my coffee trying to unlock the door once I finally made it there and had to change into a wrinkled shirt that I luckily found stuck in the back of my car.  

She did not know about the never-ending list of things I had to get done that day.  

She did not know that I had to eat a hot dog as I was driving down the road on my way to pick her up from school because I did not have time to sit down and eat today. She also did not know that finally picking her up and seeing her sweet face was the best part of my entire day.  

She did not know that I recommended cereal for supper because I was utterly exhausted, and it was going to take the last bit of energy that I had left to open that jug of milk.  

She did not know that I would stay awake hours after she fell asleep, in my bed again, thanking God for her.

Our kids do not understand what we go through mentally, physically or spiritually in a day and they shouldn’t, but they somehow know when we need to hear that we are doing a decent job at this whole parenting gig.  

That one sentence from her turned the worst day I have had in a while, into one of the best days of my parenting career, right behind the days they were born of course.  

I am a cool mom.  

That will probably change in the morning as I am waking her up for another day of school. She may look at me furiously with her hair standing on end and sleep in her eyes. She may whisper, “You’re the worst mom ever,” as she knocks me over with her rank morning breath.  

That will be okay. I will still be reveling in being the coolest mom alive as I slip on my kitty sweater, holey sweatpants and fuzzy slippers before heading out the door to drop her off.  

Yea, I am still cool, right?

(Paige Nash is a wife, digital journalist for Webster Parish Journal, publisher of Bienville Parish Journal and the COOLEST MOM EVER!)


Parishes schedule meeting to study detention solutions

By Bonnie Culverhouse

(Editor’s Note: This is the second of two parts concerning juvenile crime and lack of detention space in north Louisiana parishes. See Tuesday’s Webster Parish Journal for the first part.)

If the group learned anything at last week’s meeting concerning juvenile pre-adjudication detention, it was the problem is much bigger than just Webster Parish.

“To find a solution, we need to engage with all the other parishes who send juveniles to Ware (Youth Center),” said City Judge Sherb Sentell.

Ware serves the parishes of Bossier, Webster, Red River, Natchitoches, DeSoto and Sabine. Bienville and Claiborne Parish police juries opted out of the program that requires them pay a portion to house juveniles at Ware.

However, the folks who gathered last week – members of parish and city law enforcement (sheriff, police, city marshal and Probation & Parole) a representative from Webster and Bossier Parish police juries, Bossier-Webster district attorney, city officials, school officials, State Sen. Robert Mills and State Rep. Wayne McMahen – agreed Bienville and Claiborne should be included in the discussions.

“Lincoln Parish has also said they would like to be included,” Sentell said.

“We also need to find a way to raise the hourly wages of Ware detention officers because they are having difficulty now filling their positions at the current hourly wage rate and under the current administrative restrictions,” Sentell said. “So the solution must involve funding the construction cost, include additional revenue for detention officer wage increases, and hopefully reduce or remove some of the restrictions imposed on juvenile detention officers.”

Most persons present at the meeting agreed the problem has been increased since the legislature dropped the juvenile age to 17. There are legal restrictions for housing 17-year-olds with younger children.

“We have three or four 17-year-olds at Ware now,” said Staci Scott, executive director at Ware. “They could be housed together but not with younger kids. There are no older youth at Ware.”

Bossier/Webster District Attorney Schuyler Marvin pointed out that often legislators are approached for money and legislation to help, but they want to know what the governmental entities in a parish will do.

“Bossier Parish began putting back $50,000 a year to build a detention center,” Marvin said. “If you go to the legislature, already having some money, it might make these guys’ jobs a little bit easier than just saying we need some capital outlay money.”

Marvin suggested even a lower amount than $50,000 would be beneficial.

“We are 15,000-dollared to death,” said Webster Parish Police Jury President Jim Bonsall. “I know it’s a problem, but I don’t know how much longer the local people can keep funding the state’s mandates.”

Sen. Robert Mills put the ball back in the parish’s court.

“Mister, these are your children,” Mills said. “They are not the state’s children.”

“But it’s your rules,” Bonsall said. “So, what can we do?”

“This is a crime issue, and it’s all over the state,” City Marshal Dan Weaver added.

“The governor is much aware of the problem,” Mills said, “and much motivated to do something about it. He probably just doesn’t realize the extent of North Louisiana’s problems.”

Mills added that he and Rep. Wayne McMahen need to “get in front of the governor and DCFS (Department of Children & Family Services) as a group and get something done.”

There are 32 beds at Ware. Scott said if they exceed that number without special exemption, DCFS could fine Ware $600 per day.

Next to Bossier and Webster parishes, Natchitoches Parish has one of the largest instances of juvenile crime in the north to central Louisiana.

“Natchitoches has a kid – I want to say he was 15 when he committed a murder,” Scott said. “He’s being charged as an adult. We’ve had him at Ware about 450 days, still waiting on him to go to trial. That bogs us down.

“We keep calling asking when he’s going to court,” she continued. “That’s a problem because he is being charged as an adult, but because of his age, he’s being left in detention.”

Bienville Parish Sheriff John Ballance said juvenile crime is up in his parish, also.

“We’ve been having so many problems with juveniles,” Ballance said. “We had one case where two juveniles broke into a house and stole some things. I looked all weekend for a place to house them – Mississippi, Texas, Ware. We couldn’t find the mother on one child, and we had to put him in an interview room at the office and have one of the deputies sit with him until we could find the mother the next morning.”

Ballance said that while the police jury opted out of using Ware for his parish, he intends to encourage at least a couple of members to attend the next meeting.

There are 8 detention centers in Louisiana, however, Caddo Parish’s numbers are so high, they do not accept any juveniles outside their parish.

Courses of action to make progress on addressing these issues include:

1. Request a letter from Jim Bonsall on behalf of the WPPJ not to house any juveniles at Ware who are 18 or older (not currently an issue but a good practice);

2. Contact our counterparts (Sheriffs, Police Jurors, State Representatives and Senators, School Board Superintendent and Board Members, Police Chiefs, Marshals, District Attorneys, and juvenile Judges) in the other six parishes who send juveniles to Ware to get them on board with our initiative and hopefully get them to attend our next meeting; 

3.  Ask Patrick Jackson if a collaborative endeavor agreement would be possible between all entities having equity in resolving this conflict so that Cities, Parish Police Juries, Sheriff’s Departments, School Boards, etc. could divide and share the financial costs required to see this project succeed;  

4. Staci Scott and Sherb Sentell were asked to send a list of recommendations they think may have merit in alleviating the current problem.  Ms. Scott and I have compiled a tentative list of recommendations.  See attached.  This list can be modified as additional ideas are submitted and/or this list is edited and vetted.   

5. Block out the date of Thursday, March 9 at 2 p.m. to tentatively meet again to discuss this issue with counterparts from the other parishes.  Location of meeting to be determined.  


Fundamentals

Training methodologies vary tremendously among instructors, training schools, and professional institutions.  No two training curriculums are the same even when it comes to the basics.  When I teach students “how to shoot” a handgun, I focus on five crucial fundamentals.  Before we dig in, allow me to preface my teaching strategy with this caveat – I don’t teach people how to pass a qualification test – I teach people how to use their guns to defend innocent life.  I teach gunfighting – not how to score more points than the dude shooting beside you at the range.

Proper grip – If you grip your pistol properly, the rest of your body will naturally fall in line without much further instruction.  A proper firing grip is conducive to establishing one’s natural point of aim.  Former US Army Special Forces operator, Pat McNamara, defines natural point of aim as “Comfortably on target, without muscular input.”  

A proper grip on a semi-automatic handgun involves getting the “web” between the thumb and forefinger of your dominant hand high into the tang of the pistol.  The tang is the area at the top of the backstrap, just below the slide.  The fingers and palm of the dominant hand should apply pressure to the front-strap and back-strap of the pistol grip, respectively.  The fingers and palm of the support hand should apply pressure to the sides of the pistol grip, and the thumbs should both be pointed the same direction as the muzzle – on the support side of the pistol – with the dominant thumb on top of the support hand thumb.  Lastly, squeeze the hell out of it – especially with the support hand. 

Proper sight alignment – Sight alignment is rather self-explanatory – simply line up the front sight with the rear sight.  Doing this properly, with a traditional notch & post sight system, calls for “equal height and equal light” when looking at the front sight post through the rear sight notch.  Basically, center the front sight within the rear sight and keep them level across the top.

Sight picture – Sight picture is what you see when you line up the sights and impose them over the intended target.  The human eye can only focus on one thing at a time.  Therefore, when generating a proper sight picture, your focus should be on the front sight – not the target.  So, if the target appears fuzzy when you aim, that’s normal.  We shouldn’t be aiming guns at anything or anyone we unless we’ve already determined that person or thing to be a threat.  

Trigger control – There are generally two schools of thought when it comes to proper trigger control with a semi-automatic pistol – trigger reset and constant contact.  I’m a proponent of using trigger reset, although the constant contact method certainly has some favorable applications.  On a semi-automatic pistol, when the gun is fired the trigger doesn’t have to be fully released or allowed to travel all the way back to its original position for a subsequent shot to be fired.  

Simply learning to control the trigger back to the point of reset – which can be heard and felt – will enable the shooter to perform faster and more accurate follow-up shots.  If you never master the trigger reset, at least maintain constant contact with the trigger until it’s time to stop firing.  A universal firearm safety rule tells us to keep our finger off the trigger until our sights are on the target and we have made the decision to fire.  However, once the decision to fire has been made, your finger should stay on the trigger until it’s safe and necessary to stop shooting.

Follow through – In terms of shooting, follow through equates to maintaining a good sight picture and front sight focus during and after each shot.  For every round you fire, you should acquire an additional sight picture before you take your weapon off target.  For example, if you fire a string of five rounds, you should have six sight pictures.  Always establish another sight picture before disengaging a threat and assessing your target.

Notice I didn’t mention anything about stance or breath control.  I really don’t care what your feet are doing when you shoot your gun.  If your stance is good, that means you’re not moving enough or using cover correctly.  What stance are you in if you’re on your knees, or if you get knocked flat on your keister?  After all, the ground is a likely place to wind up in a fight.  

It’s great to breathe slowly and press the trigger at the bottom of an exhale – when your body is at a natural point of rest.  You’ll certainly be steadier when you bust caps following this method.  However, I’m not talking about zeroing a deer rifle, or taking a 500-yard sniper shot.  I’m talking about putting multiple rounds on target in an instant, when your heart rate is 180 BPM, you have tunnel vision, and there’s a stain in your shorts.  The last thing you have time for in that moment is focused breathing.

When it comes to fighting with a gun, marksmanship is important, but it’s far from the MOST important aspect.  Learning to move and becoming proficient at manipulating your firearm are far more valuable skills than being able to take a head shot at any substantial distance.  Furthermore, marksmanship is the easiest part of gun handling to learn.  I can teach anyone with at least one arm, one hand, and one eye to shoot a handgun and hit their intended target – assuming they’re willing and able to learn.  Teaching someone to win a gunfight is another animal entirely.  

Albert Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”  Fundamentals, by definition, are basic and should not be complicated.  If you want to be a good marksman, train with firearms instructor.  If you want to be better prepared to defend innocent life with a gun, train with a gunfighting instructor.  That’s about as simply as I can explain it.

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

-Ryan  

Please submit your questions to Ryan via email at Ryan@9and1tactical.com

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


Police arrest local man after threatening girlfriend

By Bonnie Culverhouse

A local man drew a flag from Minden Police after a scuffle following Monday’s NFL game.

Danny Allen, 62, of the 400 block of Winford St., Minden, was arrested for simple assault and three active warrants.

Chief Jared McIver said that following the Dallas-Tampa Bay game, the complainant contacted police saying her boyfriend threatened to kill her.

“The female and Allen, her live-in boyfriend, made a bet on the football game,” McIver said. “After the game, she went into the bathroom to run bath water. Allen told her the water was too hot and she was trying to ‘scald’ him.”

Allen was reportedly angry and the complainant threatened to call police.

“Allen told her this would be the ‘last time you call the police, I will kill you, this is a good night to die,’” the chief said. “The complainant became afraid, left the residence and went to the back porch of an abandoned residence where she sat for about 45 minutes before calling us.”

McIver said Sgt. Jason Smith answered the call and arrested Allen.

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.


UCAP needs week of Jan. 23

United Christian Assistance Program has the following needs:

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

Clothing: Men’s pants (34 waist) and shoes/tennis shoes (9 and larger)

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

Toiletries: toothpaste, deodorant

Thank you for supporting UCAP!

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


Feaster has left the building

T-Bubba talks with Coach David Feaster.

By T-Bubba Edwards

Glenbrook Head Coach David Feaster has packed his bags and will be going to Louisiana Christian University (formerly Louisiana College) in Pineville to be the Offensive Coordinator for the Wildcats next season. Coach Feaster has had coaching stints at D’Arbonne Woods, Parkway, Minden, Many and Leesville. 

Who will fill the massive void that Coach Feaster will leave? That will be up to the Glenbrook administration and Athletic Director James Thurman. I was told that Nick Saban has NOT been contacted by Glenbrook. 

When asked what his favorite memory from being at Glenbrook was seeing the Seniors from 7th and 8th graders into the talented group they are today.

Coach Feaster stated coaching college football hadn’t really been a dream but mostly a “backseat dream.” Feaster said the main reason for not perusing a college job was because college coaches do not really get to see their families that much. Coach Feaster’s oldest son, Sammy will be a Junior Wide Receiver at LCU next season, and I am sure will be something that the entire Feaster family will be excited about. Coach Feaster’s youngest son, Ty will be attending another high school for his senior year. Coach Feaster said they are not sure which school that will be, but Ty would have to go out and compete for the starting QB position no matter where he goes. That will mean that one of the returning pieces for the Apaches next season will need to be replaced as well.

(T-Bubba Edwards is a student at Glenbrook School and a columnist for Webster Parish Journal. Listen live to T-Bubba’s Sports Talk at 6:05 p.m. Mondays on KASO AM 1240 and kbef.com.)
 

Ty Feaster and T-Bubba

Cayla Cox to fill husband’s unexpired term as police juror

Nick Cox holds the Bible as his wife Cayla (left) takes the Oath of Office from Webster Parish Clerk of Court Holli Vining.

By Paige Nash

Cayla Cox was sworn into office by Webster Parish Clerk of Court Holli Vining on Tuesday, January 17. She is now officially the new police juror for District #8.  

Cox said, “I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve District #8 as their police juror. It is an honor to have been appointed and I will do all I can to serve the citizens.” 

This is following an approved appointment made by the Webster Parish Police Jury at a special meeting that took place on January 10. The jury approved Cayla to fill the unexpired term of her husband Nick Cox, who had to resign from the jury prior to swearing in as the new Mayor of Minden.  

Cayla could not be in attendance at the January 10 meeting due to receiving her first round of chemo following a recent breast cancer diagnosis. 

Mayor Cox recommended his wife to fill the remainder of his term. 

“I recommended Cayla to fill the remainder of my term, but the decision was totally up to the jury,” said Mayor Cox. “I have had this recommendation in place since 2016, when I first became a juror. I have many reasons for recommending Cayla. She knows what a juror does, she knows what the jury is working on, she knows all the other jurors and they know her, and she is extremely hardworking and dedicated to everything she does.” 

Along with Cayla, the jury also approved the appointment of Adam Lee to serve out the remainder of Benjamin “Ed” Jordan’s term for District #12. 

The two new faces will join the rest of the jury at the next scheduled meeting on February 7 in the meeting room of the Courthouse Annex at 10:30 a.m. The meeting is open to the public.  


Arkansas man allegedly attempts to strangle youth

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Cullen Police have arrested a Magnolia, Ark. man for attempting to strangle a 13-year-old girl.

Jessie Terrell Radford, 39, of the 1300 block of Mallard St., is charged with domestic abuse by strangulation.

According to police reports, the victim’s mother signed an affidavit stating Radford struck and strangled her daughter after accusing the youth of stealing money from his mother’s CashApp account on her cell phone.

When Radford attempted to remove the phone from the teen, she refused to give it to him, and he allegedly struck and strangled her around the neck.

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.


Historically Speaking: The marriage of Miss Almedia Hill

By Jessica Gorman

The claim that Miss Almedia Hill, mentioned in a letter written by Pike Reynolds in 1873, was the original builder of the Felix Drake, Sr. house on Broadway, currently the Cavalier home, brought Miss Hill to my attention and made me wonder who she was. While it seems unlikely that she was the builder of this house, I have learned much about Miss Almedia Hill. One of the most interesting things is the circumstances of her marriage to James Wesley McDonald. Their marriage is recorded in Catahoula Parish on 6 February 1841. 

A quick Google search returned a result referencing letters between James H. Fairchild and Mary Fletcher Kellogg during their courtship. These letters are held by the Oberlin College Archives. In a letter dated 8 February 1841, Miss Kellogg tells of the marriage of Miss Hill to Mr. McDonald.

“We have today heard of the marriage of Miss Hill of whom I have often written you as my only friend. She has been spending 6 or 8 weeks in New Orleans. Her stepfather went for her and found her married the day before he got there. She did not see him at all. Her parents had previously opposed Mr. McDonald (the gentleman that was sick so long here last summer) and were not aware of an engagement and long correspondence between them. Her home is filled with mourning and desolation. She was an only child. 

I would call upon the mother but am afraid my company would not be acceptable. She must suspect that I have been an accessory. James, you will not censure me for encouraging a friend to act in such a case contrary to the known wishes of her parents? She has long tried to please them till she has been convinced that her own taste and judgment can never go with theirs. She loves with an ardor that I have never before seen in anyone. Perhaps it is increased by the difficulties she has surmounted. Her parents are zealous and I might say bigoted Methodists. She is not a professor of religion. Poor girl, I pity her, and at the same time rejoice with her, for her husband is a paragon of excellence.

The young men of Minden wear their badges of mourning for Miss Almedia, Southern Romance. I, too, lament her loss for I am deprived of a valuable friend and associate. They will probably spend the summer in Minden, at least I hope they will. That will depend upon the reconciliation of the parents.”

It would seem that reconciliation must have occurred as the McDonalds made their home in Minden. They are buried in the old section of the Minden Cemetery near her mother and step-father. 

This column is intended to share snippets of Webster Parish history. Please direct any questions or suggestions to dorcheatmuseum@yahoo.com or visit us at the museum. 

Photo from FindAGrave Memorial for Almedia Hill McDonald

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


Job Opportunity: sales with WPJ

Do you enjoy meeting new people and greeting old friends?

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

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

Contact us at wpjnewsla@gmail.com, if this describes you.

‘Break Up with Salt’ through the AgCenter

Interested in learning how to manage blood pressure levels through lifestyle changes? Join us for “Break Up with Salt,” a four-part virtual lesson series aimed to help adults at risk for or with hypertension (high blood pressure) manage blood pressure levels through goal setting, diet, nutrition label reading, portion control, and cooking. This series will be held at noon February 14, 21, 28 and March 7. This lesson is virtual, meaning you can tune in from your own personal computer, phone, or tablet device. The program will be held by Shakera Williams nutrition agent with the LSU AgCenter.

Lessons include:

February 14: Detect, Correct, and Protect

February 21: DASH Diet and Label Reading

February 28: Virtual Grocery Store Tour

March 7: Mastering Meals with Flavor

This program is free and open to the public. Participants should make every effort to attend each lesson. For more information and to register for the program, please contact Shakera Williams at sswilliams@agcenter.lsu.edu. Registration closes on February 10.

 


Upcoming Events

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

Jan. 21

8 a.m. until noon Dorcheat Soil and Water Conservation District annual seedling sale, 216B Broadway, Minden.

Jan. 24

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

Jan. 26

5 until 7:15 p.m. Adult Paint Night, Minden Main Branch, Webster Parish Libraries. For more information, call 318-371-3080 ext. 123.

Jan. 31

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

Feb. 4

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

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

Feb. 11

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

April 26

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

• Scottish Highland dancing

• Storytelling, living history exhibitions 

• Food and merchant vendors, including Great Raft beer 

• Traditional music and Celtic Rock 

• Scottish Highland cattle petting area 

• Broadsword demonstrations and Highland Games exhibitions 

• Clan tent exhibits and the March of the Clans 


Weekly Filings

The following civil suits were filed with the Webster Parish Clerk of Court the week of January 12:

Jan. 12

Amerihome Mortgage Company LLC vs. Chad Darst, Leah Darst, executory process

Carisa Jordan Loud vs. Kendrick Deshaun Loud, divorce

Jan. 13

PNC Bank National Association vs. Bobby McKay Jr., executory process

Marena A. Burroughs vs. Matthew J. Jeter, protective order.

Jan. 17

Synchrony Bank vs. Mikhael S. Trammell, monies due

Shavon Dean Anderson and Adrian Jamaal Anderson vs. Sarah Shavon Keener, custody

Citibank NA vs. Taylor O’Rear, monies due

Capital One NA vs. Harold Robinson, monies due

Harley Davidson Credit Corporation vs. Bennie Olen Patterson and Melanie Kay Sayers, executory process

Ebony Harris individually and on behalf of Deziyah Harris vs. Ted Everett and Sate Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., damages

State of Louisiana/Department of Transportation and Development vs. Sandra L. Daniels, damages


Notice of Death – Jan. 18, 2023

Rodney Earl Byram

Nov. 11, 1964 – Jan. 16, 2023

Sarepta, La.

Funeral service: 2 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023,Bailey Funeral Home, Springhill, La.

Burial: Spring Branch Cemetery, Springhill.

Frances Clement

March 30, 1941 – Jan. 15, 2023

Minden, La.

Funeral service: Pending under the direction of Rose-Neath Funeral Home, Minden, La.

Dollie Melissa Duck

April 18, 1959 – Jan. 14, 2023

Sarepta, La.

Funeral service: Pending, under the direction of Bailey Funeral Home, Springhill, La.

Betty Jane Thompson Peterson

Dec. 22, 1935 – Jan. 12, 2023

Private Inurnment

Visitation: 10 a.m. Saturday, January 21, 2023, Rose-Neath Funeral Home, Airline Drive, Bossier City, La.

Memorial service: 11 a.m. Saturday, January 21, 2023, Rose-Neath Funeral Home. 

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


For the Kids: An interview with John Bradford

Coach John Bradford takes a seat surrounded by young men he is mentoring to be better athletes and better human beings. I love telling this story. Read on for more information about the mission of Mr. Bradford.

By Josh Beavers

Note: This is the first in my new series of stories about people who go above and beyond to help our local schools.

I put out a message last week looking for suggestions on deserving individuals who needed a little recognition for working tirelessly behind the scenes without financial incentive to help our local schools. In other words, these folks don’t make any money. Instead their payment comes from the success they help young men and women achieve in and out of the classroom. On tests and on athletic fields. In school and later in life.

I was given so many names, so this is going to be a nice series that could span many months so long as the names keep on coming. But one really stood out among the other in this first batch of nominations.

One message of many: “John Bradford (JB) would be the one I would do a story on. He is such an inspiration. He loves our young boys in Minden. It goes beyond weight training and getting them ready for football. He talks to them and encourages them in every aspect of their lives. He CARES about them. He pushes them to do their best in school before anything else. He is there for them if they need to talk about anything. He is their biggest fan on and off the field. He helps these kids stay away from the violence and gang life in Minden. He is an awesome role model. He is a Godly man and is a mentor for these kids here in Minden. He is Uncle JB to these kids. He is family to us and always there for anything.”

I was intrigued and immediately reached out to Uncle JB for an interview.

Jonathan Bradford was born and raised in Minden and is married to Lashanta Love Bradford. He is the father of three children, the oldest of which is 23 and a resident of Baltimore. His other two children currently attend Minden High where they participate in school sports programs.

He has done right by his kids and his wife, and he now realizes that he has had a chance to do so much more for his community through such simple means.

“I started coaching youth league football 16 years ago at Minden Rec, and that’s when I realized God was using me to reach young people through sports,” Bradford told me. “After three years of going undefeated in youth football, I bumped into Mr. Butch Williams.”

Williams, who has since passed away, was the superintendent of Webster Parish schools at the time. He asked Bradford if he would be interested in helping the freshman football team at Minden High.

“I was speechless but accepted the offer,” he said. “For eight years I coached freshman football and youth league until my role on the Minden High coaching staff increased with the hiring of head coach Spencer Heard.”

Bradford said the two bonded from Day 1.

“I’m going into year 12 with the Crimson Tide as an assistant defensive coach under coach Alan Ensminger,” he said. “He has been a great mentor to me all 11 years. Also, Coach Greg Williams and Mrs. Robin Tucker played a big role in my transition to high school sports.”

Bradford said in his youth, he always dreamed of playing football for the Crimson Tide. That became a reality under head coach Ronnie Whatley.

“After the sudden death of my mother my sophomore year, my family relocated to Grambling where my brother and I lived with our sister,” he said. 

Bradford and his brother both became All-state football players for the Grambling Lab kittens. It was there he met Coach Greg Williams, who served as a surrogate father figure for the young Bradford.

But even though he was a Grambling man, Minden High never left his heart.

“I will never forget the two guys that made me better as a person as well as an athlete, coach Elliott Gilbert and coach Stephret Williams,” he said. “Those guys are the reason I enjoy helping all the young people in our Minden community.”

Bradford said he uses football to build relationships with young people while talking about life and overcoming adversity. 

“I train athletes in the off season and mentor year around hoping to help young boys become productive young men,” he said.

As for a most memorable moment as a coach, he said it would be the last play against Benton in a district championship game.

“We could kick a field goal to tie or go for 2 to win it,” he said. “In front on a sold-out crowd, Coach Heard decided to go for two, and Toay Rivette threw a pass to Tarvaris Edward to win the game.”

As for a memory he cherishes as a player, he said it would be playing Southwood when he hauled in 9 passes from quarterback Christopher Johnson for over 150 yards.

Bradford has mentored many young people over the past 12 years, and he looks forward to the opportunity to help so many more. He sees his role as one given to him by God and that he wishes he could go back and have someone talk to him when he was a teenager the same way he helps these young people now.

“For the Kids” is a series of regular feature stories published in the Webster Parish Journal. If you have a recommendation of someone who needs to be recognized for their work with our local school children, please reach out to Josh Beavers either through Facebook or email at joshwbeavers@gmail.com.


St. Jude patient Chumley wants to be there for others

Lloyd ‘Jake’ Chumley (far right) and family

By Paige Nash

On May 13, 2020, at the age of 15, Lloyd “Jake” Chumley was diagnosed with stage 4B Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and additionally with what presented to be a baseball size Ewing’s sarcoma in his right pelvis. 

The news hit him and his parents like a tidal wave, but they were comforted by the fact that they knew God was in control and they had a large community supporting their family during this challenging time. 

Llyod’s mother Chrystal Chumley said, “It was unreal the outpouring of love and people we had praying for my son. We had so many people there for us and we never could have made it without all the prayers and love.” 

During the time of his treatment Lloyd took a total of 34 sessions of chemo (6 different kinds), 17 treatments of Proton radiation, 90 doses of steroids, 180 Lovenox shots that were administered by his mother in the stomach and countless other daily meds. 

Lloyd just celebrated his two-year cancer-free milestone with his family this past Thanksgiving, but he still has check-ups every 6 months at the local St. Jude affiliate location in Shreveport. He also has a yearly check-up in Memphis and is currently the subject of 6 ongoing research studies. 

“They’ll continue to follow me for the rest of my life to help chart research studies for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma,” said Lloyd.  

After riding out the most difficult wave of his life and having a doctor deliver the news that he possibly only had one month left to live, he has decided not to let one opportunity pass him by. After graduating high school, he enrolled at Louisiana Tech University where he was accepted into the Honors College and is studying Pre-Med. He just finished his first quarter on the Dean’s List.  

His time at St. Jude is what inspired him to study Pre-Med.  

“He never knew just what he wanted to do in life,” his mother Chrystal said. “He was good at many things and just always kept his grades up until he could figure it out. It wasn’t until his time up at St. Jude that he said he’d like to study oncology and come back to St. Jude to give back.” 

During Lloyd’s time at St. Jude a lot of the fun activities were shut down, but this allowed time for more one-on-one interactions with the doctors and nurses that cared for him.  

“The doctors and nurses answered my questions when I was receiving different treatments,” he said. “This allowed me to understand the science behind cancer treatments and therapies, greatly expanding my knowledge; henceforth allowing me to use this in my studies as a pre-med major.” 

Along with his already busy schedule keeping up with his schoolwork, Lloyd is also studying modeling and acting with The Michael Turner Agency in Shreveport. Last year he won the 2022 Fashion Runway Review and will be traveling to Hollywood in July to meet with different modeling and acting agencies. To help pay for his acting studies, he works part-time at Habacu’s Mexican Restaurant as a waiter.    

Even before learning he had cancer, Lloyd has always participated in the Minden St. Jude Auction and you better believe he will make time to be at the annual auction this year, too.  

“I’m certain I’ll be popping in to talk with Ms. Laura (Hollingsworth) on air a time or two,” said Lloyd. “It’s always a great time up there at the auction. It really brings our whole community together and I’m definitely grabbing a couple of those sweet t-shirts.” 

Last year the auction brought in a grand total of $2,415,317. The City of Minden along with surrounding contributing communities raise more money per capita than any other city in the entire United States.  

“The St. Jude Auction of Minden is so important and always will be,” Lloyd said. “I know everyone has heard this time and time again, but we cannot stress enough the fact that St. Jude never makes any family pay a dollar toward food, travel, and even the extremely expensive medicines and treatments.” 

These treatments along with ongoing care can reach a total of well over $1-2 million per patient. 

A patient undergoing treatment there currently is another local, Cole Benson, who was diagnosed with T lymphoblastic lymphoma in 2021.  

Lloyd and Cole have developed a friendship through the hardships.  

“When I was going through treatment Hutton Hays was that older guy there for me even though he was going through it at the same time, he was still older and someone I looked up to and could lean on and ask questions to,” said Lloyd. “When I met Cole, I just wanted to be that person for him. You know, pass it on. That’s all.”  

Lloyd’s mom has also been a source of comfort for Cole’s mother, Ashleigh.  

“For any new parent hearing the words for the first time that their child has cancer, I hope they take a deep breath and let it out slowly, finding some calm knowing they now have an answer after so many questions,” said Chrystal Chumley. “I pray a peace comes over them that God’s got this, and God has got them. They are in the best hands possible at St Jude.” 

She also has words of wisdom to bestow even on the parents who may not have to endure the news that their child has cancer. 

She said, “Take as many pictures as possible. Find joy in the silly little everyday things, in the spilled milk of morning rushes, and goodnight kisses because that is where everyday life and memories are. You might not be able to control life’s waves, but you can learn to surf them.”

 

This year’s event February 9-12 is themed “Wave Goodbye to Cancer.”

Can’t put a price on library love 

Shreve Memorial Library turns 100 this year, a celebratory occasion but bleak reminder that there could be a steep price to pay for that book you’ve been meaning to take back since 1926. 

Part of my feeble life has been marked by library intrigue. The smell of the books. The intent of its visitors, heads down in learning repose at neat and sturdy tables. That unique library quietness — not a still quietness like the cemetery but a very alive and purposeful quietness.  

Love the library. 

When it came to hero worship, while other first and second graders were locked in on their sports idols and television stars, I wanted nothing more than to meet Captain Kangaroo (another story for another time), Charley Pride, and Dewey Decimal. 

Mainly Dewey Decimal. 

I was a weird kid. 

But something about the library fascinated me, from the card catalog right on through the little packet glued to the inside back book cover that held a card with all the information concerning where that book had been and when. You could look on the little card and see that Lee Ann Rozier had checked this book out before you did, which meant that she had held it in her precious little second grade hands, and all you had to do was read it and you’d have a conversation starter next time you were lucky enough to sit by her in the lunch room. 

Who knows when I first heard the term “Dewey Decimal System,” but the alliteration alone must have made my tiny head spin. This meant that one day a guy sat down and figured out how to put All This Stuff in order, that General Works would go in the 000 section, Philosophy and Psychology would go in the 100s, and on like that. 

Must have took him a while. 

Investigation revealed that “Dewey” had figured out where all these books would go, and that his name wasn’t Dewey Decimal at all, but Melvil Dewey, a New York native born in 1851, lifelong librarian and founding member of the American Library Association (ALA). The Dewster could hit .300 while reading a Victorian novel and straightening up with Biographies section, (which is in the 900s, just for the record).  

Turns out Dewey was one of those books you can’t judge by its cover. He actually had to resign in 1905 from the ALA he helped found, due to allegations of sexual harassment and other things people in charge of the card catalog won’t allow. 

So, my library idol turned out to be a dud. Rascal could catalog a book though; you’ve got to give him that. You just didn’t want to share a study nook with him. Well, you didn’t even want to be in the same library branch with him. 

We haven’t come too far in improving human nature during the past century, but we sure have improved the library. Dewey wouldn’t even recognize the libraries he’d get thrown out of today. 

There are tutoring programs. Ways to look up your ancestry; (hope you aren’t kin to Dewey). Ebooks and audio books to check out. CDs. TV shows and music to stream. And some of these things you check-out digitally automatically check themselves back in. Correct: the library material is smarter than we are. 

Last month I went to get a new library card. Cost one dollar to replace my old card. I got a pin number so I can do online books now for free, minus my initial one whole dollar investment.  

There was one downside. Pam, the gracious librarian, looked at me like the doctor looks at you right before he says he’ll have to amputate your leg. 

“You do owe a fine,” she said. “Overdue book.” 

Me: “Oh lord. I’m sorry. How mu…?”  

Pam: “It’s from 2006.” 

Me: (Weak-kneed, calculating what I’ll have to sell to pay the fine on a book 17 years overdue…

Pam: “That’ll be a dollar and thirty cents.”

Me: “Can you break a two?”

I love the library. 

Contact Teddy at teddy@latech.edu 


‘TIDE KILLERS’ – Part One

Over the past several weeks, I’ve gone through the process of highlighting the all-time greats at Minden High.  What started off as a campaign to ensure current players received their proper due, turned into a celebration of players from all eras of Minden football.  Perhaps you played with some of those guys or merely heard stories.  I hope it brought back fond memories or jogged that foggy memory of folks you had forgotten.  My real hope is that after that memory is jogged, you will keep it alive in the community. 

I’m afraid this one isn’t going to be fun for those jogged memories.  For all the great games the Tide has played, there have also been some stinkers that made Minden fans don brown paper sacks.  Sometimes it was plain ol’ bad play by the Tide.  Other times the opponent was far superior at all phases of the game, and all you can do is (almost) admire their handiwork.  So, here’s a requiem to the Tide that was rolled.  

The earliest evidence of the Tide getting smoked came in 1915 to the tune of 33 to zip at Homer. The Shreveport Times sportswriter put it this way, “The Homer goal was never endangered by the Minden eleven.” Yeesh.   

Once again in 1915 the Tide was dealt another shellacking by Shreveport High (Byrd) in the final game of the season.  Another gem from the Shreveport Times, “The Webster Parish squad was outplayed at every angle of the game and the visitors made first down only four times.  The play left the Minden team floundering about the field.”

As for blowouts in general, the then Minden “Greenies” took a 71-0 roundhouse kick to the face from El Dorado High (Ark.) in 1933.  That’s a record, obviously.  In 1928, the “Greenies” were outscored 227 to 7 in a six-game losing streak with most of scoring done by Haynesville (47-0), Byrd (58-0), and Monroe (Neville) (57-0).  In 1945, the Tide was blanked by the Neville Tigers again, 53-0.  Ruston smashed the Tide at The Pit 51-0 in 1998.  I played in that one.  What a night. (sarcasm)

Historically there are several teams that have had, and continue to have, the Tide’s number.  Out of all the Tide’s frequent foes, the dadgum Neville Tigers reign supreme.  The Tide owns a 6-35-2 record versus the Monrovians and have been outscored 366 to 1,072.  With the series beginning in 1917 and splitting two matches that year, Minden played Neville often though 1960, and then sparingly from then on.  It certainly would be easier to list the wins in order against Neville.  Since 2001 versus Neville, the Tide is only 1-13.  The lone win in that subset was a thrilling come-from-behind upset in the Quarterfinals of the playoffs in 2006.  

What’s interesting is that the Tide has played Neville multiple times in one season on four separate occasions.  Apart from 1917, the Tide faced the Tigers in the regular season and the playoffs in 2002, 2020, and 2021.  What’s more bizarre, in 2002 the two teams squared off in successive games to end the Tide’s season.  In just three seasons from 2019-2021, the Tide played Neville five times.  Perhaps, the Tigers should change their mascot to the “Bucks” because they have stopped the Tide more than any other school in the playoffs – 6 times (1959, 1960, 2002, 2011, 2020 and 2021). 

Staying with the more frequent opponents of the Tide, and after the Neville Tigers of course, is the Golden Tornado of Haynesville.  Minden has only won 32% of its fifty-five games (16-36-3) against Haynesville.  In their century-long relationship, the Tide began playing the Tors in 1919, but have not faced them since 2019.  Though happening well over 60 years ago, Neville and Haynesville share the longest winning streak against the Tide with 13 wins respectively.  While Neville holds the best winning percentage against the Tide, they are second in victories with 35.  Haynesville is the vilest of foe with 36.  

After Haynesville is heated rival, the Haughton Buccaneers.  Minden didn’t begin playing Haughton until 1966 but has a record of 17-29 (37% win pct) versus their Hwy 80 West neighbors.  The Bucs have scored the third most points against the Tide (1,048) behind Neville.  

The most frequent of Minden rivals is Bossier with Minden holding the edge with a 34-32-2 record. Bossier has scored the most points against Minden (1,129), but that’s to be expected when you face an opponent sixty-eight (and counting) times.  From the series inception in 1932, Minden met Bossier forty-four CONSECUTIVE years until 1978 with only a gap from 1943 to 1945 due to World War II.  

Homer is Minden’s oldest rival on record.  Originally, Minden’s earliest game of record was thought to be against Homer in 1914.  However, it was discovered that the two teams squared off in 1909.  In addition to Homer in 1915, Minden began playing Ruston, Winnfield, and Shreveport High (Byrd).  

Minden has also played a few college teams in its day.  Minden lost its only two games versus Louisiana Normal School (Northwestern State University) in 1916 and 1917.  Minden traveled via train to Shreveport to wallop the Centenary Gents 46-0, also in 1917.  Minden took another team train to New Orleans in 1925 to lose to the Tulane University Freshman team 27-0.  Minden’s college transcripts ended in 1926 with a narrow 7-6 victory over Magnolia Agriculture College (Southern Arkansas University).  

Here’s a bit more lagniappe.  Minden has faced six teams more than fifty times in their history:  Bossier (68), Springhill (not including North Webster) (64), Homer (58), Haynesville (55), North Caddo (Vivian) (55) and Ruston (52).  Except for Bossier, all those rivalries began in the 1910’s.  

Look at the title again – this is only part one, folks.  The beating isn’t over. Next week I’ll delve a little further into specific Tide Killers.


Laskey Lecture Series with Dr. Sandra Richter

Trinity United Methodist Church of Ruston is finding new ways to reach the community in regard to how the congregation serves and how members spread the word of God. One way this church reaches the community is through different lecture series each year. This year’s offering, which the church is opening to the public, is the Laskey Lecture Series with Dr. Sandra Richter.

Created by Virginia Laskey, the lecture series brings in dynamic speakers with a variety of topics including politics, spirituality, arts, the environment, and much more.

Three FREE sessions will be taught by Dr. Sandra Richter to speak on the bible’s Old Testament on Saturday, Jan. 21 beginning at 10 am until 4 pm. Dr. Richter is a leading expert on Old Testament knowledge. She will convey a complex understanding of culture, archeology, and language to the listeners in a way they can understand. She will address leadership and hope through examining the life of Debra in the Book of Judges.

Attendees will receive complimentary childcare services.

Other offerings to the community include regular Sunday worship and bible studies throughout the week. The congregation also invests in children and youth as they are the future. They also feed the community, which is a big part of the church’s mission because there is such a big need for feeding programs.

More recently, our outreach committee is exploring new and innovative ways we can fight hunger in the Ruston community and beyond

To find out more about the lecture series or to sign up for it, call (318) 251-0750 or go online to www.trinityruston.org/announcements/laskey-lecture-series.


Breakfast, routines and bacon

Table 19

Many of the business books I am familiar with go into great detail about how successful people commit to a rigid routine in their workday. A specific time is set aside for checking emails, another period is devoted to text responses. Some of these experts allot time— down to the minute— for phone calls, meetings, lunch and even the small tasks associated with a day’s work. I am not one of those devotees. Good or bad, I am not one that adheres to a tight schedule. I am always on-time and fairly organized but have no desire to lead such a structured existence, whether in my business, or personal, life.

One quick look at my phone shows 3,652 unanswered emails. I also have a backlog of voicemail messages that haven’t been answered. To be fair though, my outgoing voice message states, “I never check my voicemail messages, so please send a text.” I currently have zero text messages that need to be responded to because I communicate best that way, or through regular phone conversations.

I have never thought of myself as one who abides by routines and schedules, but one look at my daily patterns and I am most certainly a creature of habit when it comes to breakfast.

If I am in town, I am at The Midtowner, sitting in the same seat, at the same table, at 7:00 a.m. every morning. Whether I spent the night a few blocks away at my house, or 25 miles away at the lake, I am sitting at table 19 at 7:00 a.m. It’s almost a compulsion. I could probably count on one hand the times I have been in town and not eaten breakfast at The Midtowner since we opened, and those were probably four or five times when I was sick.

The routine is a carbon copy of the day before, and the day before that. I park in the same spot, enter the same kitchen door, say “good morning,” to the team members in the prep station and pot sink area, then say “good morning” as I pass the crew on the hot line getting ready for service, before walking out into the dining room to say, “good morning,” to the front-of-the-house crew. I take my usual seat at table 19 and start out with a glass of unsweetened iced tea and a glass of water.

From there it depends on what I have scheduled. I schedule most of the meeting requests I receive for 7:15 a.m. at table 19. I love knocking out business meetings over breakfast. The day is young, my brain is rested, and there is bacon. Occasionally friends will show up during the week. I love it when that happens because I enjoy visiting while sharing a meal. And, again, there’s bacon.

My friend Steve is a radiologist and occasionally must work the overnight shift at the hospital three blocks away. He gets off at 7 a.m. on those shifts and we get a nice visit in— usually talking about music or family… and eating bacon— before he heads home to get some rest. He also checks the quality level of our grits that day as we use his recipe, and his name is on the menu as the creator of those grits.

On alternating Saturdays and Sundays my childhood friends Carolyn and Mike join me. That is often the highlight of my week at table 19. My two children join me, occasionally. It doesn’t get any better than that. Sometimes I’ll have a surprise visit by a friend from out of town who happens to be visiting home for a couple of days. Those are always a treat as they are usually a surprise.

I also have a standing Friday morning breakfast meeting with the men’s accountability group I’ve been a member of for over 20 years.

I love mornings in a restaurant, whether the restaurant is opened or closed. Many times, I’ll spend time in the dining room of one of our restaurants that doesn’t open until lunch. I do some of my best, and most creative, thinking— alone— in that environment. There is a certain energy in the stillness of an unopened restaurant. It’s filled with the anticipation of a new day. Every day is different in the restaurant business. The guest make up is different, the menu offerings are different, and the shift unfolds in a different manner every time.

I think the ever-changing environment and guest interaction is what initially lured me into this industry during my first restaurant job on the opening crew of a small delicatessen over 40 years ago. I have never been cut out for a coat-and-tie nine-to-five gig. The ups and downs and highs and lows of the typical restaurant workday fit my style and taste.

There were dreams of opening a breakfast restaurant and a place that serves meat-and-three southern home cooking at least 10 years before I opened The Midtowner. One of my greatest concerns was finding a workforce that would be consistent and timely in getting to work to open a restaurant in the early morning hours. It’s been such a pleasant surprise that we rarely have any issues with people being late to work or calling in. I would venture to say that we have less of that in the breakfast place than we do with our concepts that are open for lunch and dinner.

There is so much that goes on behind the scenes in restaurants before they open and while they’re open. It takes a team, and we’ve been blessed with talented team members for over 35 years.

The routineness of my morning schedule continues even when I am out of town. Wherever I am I ask the front desk at the hotel where the best local breakfast joint is located? “I want to go where the old men are talking sports and politics over coffee and wheat toast.” One can learn a lot sitting in a breakfast café listening to the regulars as they solve the world’s problems. And there’s also bacon.

Onward.

Andouille Cheese Grits

1 tablespoon bacon fat or clarified butter

1/2 pound andouille sausage, medium dice

2 teaspoons garlic

4 cups milk

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons Hot Sauce

2 tablespoons Creole Seasoning

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 cup white grits, quick cooking (stone ground or regular grits can be used- adjust cooking time)

1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

In a large skillet, heat clarified butter until hot. Add andouille and garlic and sauté for 4–5 minutes. Remove from heat and drain off excess fat using a fine mesh strainer. Set the andouille and garlic aside.

In a large saucepan, bring the milk, seasonings, and butter to a boil. Slowly pour in grits while stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low. Continue to stir for 15 minutes. Add the sautéed andouille and garlic mix, and cheese. Serve immediately.

Yield: 8-10 servings

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