Webster Libraries line out upcoming events

By Josh Beavers

Summer is winding down and school is back in session today, but that doesn’t mean the Webster Parish Library is slowing down on its events for the public.

Below are events for the coming days across the parish.

Upcoming Events You Don’t Want to Miss
just a sample of what’s happening at Webster Parish Libraries

  • Minden
    • FRI AUG 20, Adult Book Club at 10 A.M.
    • THU AUG 26, Adult Craft at 10 A.M. (drop-in event)
  • Springhill
    • THU AUG 12,STEM Tie Dye Chemistry, 5:30 P.M. (registration required).
    • SAT AUG 14, Puzzle Club at 2 P.M.
    • TUE AUG 17, Adult Bingo at 2 P.M. (registration required)
  • Cotton Valley
    • WED AUG 18, Hoopla Storytime & Children’s Activities, 4:30-5:30 P.M.
    • WED AUG 25, Master Gardener Talk (Adult), 3:30-4:30 P.M.
  • Sibley
    • TUE AUG 24,Making Suncatchers, 3:30-4:30 P.M.
  • Doyline
    • TUE AUG 24, Book Club at 2 P.M.

News and notes from the Library

Cassidy Duck New Children’s Coordinator

If you see Cassidy, current children’s department director at Mack Memorial, be sure to congratulate her. She is now the Children’s Coordinator and will be providing programming for all branches.

Pick Up a Hobby at Your Library

As the busy school year approaches, we’d just like to remind you that WPLibraries is a great place to learn a new hobby. We have ukuleles in Minden along with instructional materials. We also have craft kits like metal jewelry stamping and knitting looms. Take some “me time” and explore new avenues at WPLibraries today.

That’s A Wrap on Springhill Adult SRP.

The adult SRP group at Mack Memorial branch painted clay pots and rocks to make creative flower arrangements. All through summer, they participated in book bingo, with the goal to get as many marks on their bingo boards while reading new genres, titles and authors.

Loaded Cookies.

Mack Memorial recently held their cookie decorating event. Kids let their imaginations run wild and created cookies worthy of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

We’re Temporarily Pausing Our VHS to DVD Service

In order to catch up with this popular service, we are temporarily halting VHS to DVD services while we get through current tapes. We’ll let you know as soon as we’re ready to resume submissions.

Outdoor Seating To Be Installed at Small Branches

Cotton Valley will soon have a canopy installed and outdoor seating is coming to the small branches soon.

Genealogy Club Returns

Mark your calendars. The Genealogy Club at Minden returns SEP 9 from 1-2 P.M. Guest speaker will be Cindy Walker, who will share about how she uses the Family Tree Notebook system.

Multi-Purpose Room Progress

The paint in the newly designated multi-purpose room is going up. What’s going into the multi-purpose room? Stay tuned to find out.

Happy Trails for Summer Reading at Mack Memorial

Springhill ended its fun and successful summer reading program with a pizza party and a bounce house.

WPLibraries Help Pack The Bus

We were happy for the opportunity to pack and distribute Webster Parish Library bags full of free school supplies to local students. Administrative Assistant, Ginger Ebarb and Community Liaison, Kim Sentell, represented us well.


Pre-bid Conference Yields More Questions Than Answers

Screenshot

By Bonnie Culverhouse

After a less than acceptable attempt to get bidders willing to operate the landfill, Webster Parish Police Jurors hosted a pre-bid meeting Wednesday to hopefully answer questions from potential buyers for the property.

Three interested persons attended the meeting, while others participated via Zoom.

“This is a non-mandatory pre-bid conference that we hope will be helpful in your analysis in whether or not to move forward with bid,” Parish Attorney Patrick Jackson said. “We may not have a lot of answers for you. We are really here to hear your questions and gather information to send back out to everyone.”

Jackson said those answers would likely be in the form of existing documents and make reference to public filings.

Some of the interested potential bidders include Madden Contracting Co. of Minden, Greenway Environmental Services, Republic Services and Live Oak Environmental, LLC.

Most of the questions, emailed and asked in person, centered around the current contract with Republic Services and what it will take for them to exit their contract, as well as the amount of tonnage the landfill accepts and the permits.

Some emailed questions covered a 10-year history of financials and waste tonnage by type.

While the police jury has owned the landfill for more than 25 years, they have not operated it since 1997. Since that time, it has always been operated by a private company.

Sealed bids will be opened at 2 p.m. Monday, August 30 in police jury room of the Webster Parish Courthouse annex. The public is invited to attend.


Grant Money Helps Minden Police Purchase Camera

CenterPoint Energy representative Chris Gray (center) with Mayor Terry Gardner (left) and Minden Police Lt. Chris Cheatham.

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Thanks to $2,500 in grant money provided by CenterPoint Energy, Minden Police will be able to purchase their own thermal imaging camera.

“We actually lease a thermal imaging camera from the government and have for three or four years,” Police Chief Steve Cropper said. “This grant will allow us to purchase our own, rather than leasing one for $300 annually.”

Cropper said his officers use this type of camera frequently.

“It helps locate somebody that’s hiding in the dark,” he said. “This thing will pick them up.”

The camera is handheld – about the size of a hand – said the chief. However, it has rails so it can be mounted on a helmet.

“It’s lightweight and relatively small,” he said. “The one we are ordering is about 7.4 ounces.

“We really appreciate Centerpoint for extending this to us and helping us with our department,” he continued. “It means a lot.”


Firefighters Receive Promotions Before Council Walkout

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Two Minden firefighters were granted promotions by the Minden City Council during an abbreviated meeting Monday night.

With District B Councilwoman Terika Williams-Walker absent, the council voted unanimously to promote Capt. Ronnie Chreene to Assistant Chief and Firefighter/operator Adam Bradley to Captain.

“With the retirement of Assistant Chief Tommy John Hughs with 40 years and seven months, I am asking for the promotion of Capt. Ronnie Chreene to Assistant Chief with 31 years and Adam Bradley to Fire Captain with eight years’ experience,” Fire Chief Kip Mourad said. “They’ve passed the Civil Service test.”

The council also passed unanimously, the following items:

  • Audit presentation for fiscal year 2019/2020;
  • Minutes of the last regular meeting, as well as special session;
  • Condemned properties; and,
  • Final plat for lot split of property owned by Green Properties of Minden, located at the corner of Tillman Drive and Marshall Street, District A Councilman Wayne Edwards left the meeting before that final vote. Afterward, District C Councilman Vincen Bradford walked out, leaving the meeting without a quorum.

The following items were left on the table:

  • Adopt ordinance for agreement with Centerpoint Energy granting them the right to construct, install, operate and maintain facilities for the transportation, distribution and sale of gas in the municipality;
  • Adopt ordinance of tax mills for the year 2021;
  • Adopt resolution adopting the City of Minden 2021/2022 budget;
  • Adopt resolution declaring certain City of Minden property as surplus and fixing the terms of sale;
  • Adopt resolution authorizing the execution of cooperative endeavor/purchase agreement with the City of Morgan City for one electric transformer;
  • Budget/Financial report for June; and,
  • Police report for June.

WPSO Deputies Arrest One on Multiple Charges

By Bonnie Culverhouse

A Minden man has been arrested by Webster Parish Sheriff’s deputies on multiple drug and abuse charges.

Shaviairrie Juwan Murray, 23, of the 300 block of Shane Drive, has been charged with domestic abuse battery with child endangerment, illegal carrying of weapons with a controlled dangerous substance, criminal damage to property, simple possession of Sch. I CDS and a fugitive from Claiborne Parish.

Sheriff Jason Parker said his deputy, Anthony Eli Hay, was dispatched to the Shane Drive location for a report of a domestic altercation.

“When he arrived, Deputy Hay made contact with a victim who said her baby’s father, with whom she lives, had just left the area,” Parker said. “Minden PD stopped the vehicle at Pine and Main streets and the driver was identified as Murray.”

The deputy spoke with Murray and read him his rights. He reportedly told the deputy he had struck the victim with his elbow and pushed her off the bed, causing her to fall on their one-year-old child.

“Murray also admitted that he threw the victim’s phone twice,” said the sheriff. “Deputy Ben Allen was on scene with the victim, and her statement was consistent with what Murray told Deputy Hay.”

During Murray’s traffic stop, suspected synthetic Marijuana was reportedly found, being 23.1g.

“Murray had this contraband in his underwear on his person,” Parker said. “Also, in Murray’s front right pockets was a Glock 22 that was loaded with 12 rounds of ammunition.

Murray was booked into Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center.


Arrest Reports

Adrian Villarreal, 59, of Haskell, Texas, was arrested by Minden Police for criminal mischief.

Arnolodo Garcia, 52, of Brownsville, Texas, was arrested by MPD for criminal mischief.

Angela Reeves Cox, 63, of Minden, was arrested by Webster Parish Sheriff’s deputies for driving while intoxicated (first offense) and reckless operation of a motor vehicle.

Crystal Dawn Maness, 38, of Cotton Valley, was arrested by WPSO on two active warrants.

Patrick D. Jackson, 46, of Minden, was arrested by Troop G for DWI (first offense).

Nicole Martin, 43, of the 800 block of Firepower Rd., Shongaloo, was arrested by WPSO on an active warrant for possession of CDS Sch. II Methamphetamine.


Rockin’ Chair

Amazing, the things a person can see and hear just sittin’ on the front porch in the ol’ rockin’ chair. This child can see for miles and the rhythmic rockin’ often offers a different perspective and can set one to wonderin’.

After seeing and hearing over the past few days, this rocker’s occupant is wonderin’ why our local city governing body is making such a fuss over unoccupied buildings when maybe some special attention might be paid to other unoccupied things.

There’s been a public hearing about a possible ordinance to shape up vacant properties, and one might suppose that’s good. One surely would rather see a bustling business district with lots of occupants than hear a rustling of feathers from pigeons roosting in empty buildings.

While city officials wrestle with brick and mortar, maybe they should also tackle this empty furniture problem, as in the vacant chairs at city council meetings. Don’t know if there’s a comfort problem or if there’s just something uncomfortable about being asked to reasonably govern.

From our vantage point on the porch, it seems one council chair is vacant about as much as it’s occupied. Could be there’s a scheduling conflict and that chair’s unoccupant simply has too many irons in the fire. Why heck. Everybody knows how tough it is to make time for one sitdown a month. And, who said anything about overtime stuff like special meetings and public hearings.

Me’n the chair noticed a couple of other vacancies seem to occur on special (?) occasions. We’re still tryin’ to figger why a pair of councilgents disappeared from their seats like smoke in the wind. One minute they were comfortable, but suddenly itchy feet (or an itchier area about two feet higher) struck and the empties outnumbered the occupieds.

Both left without comment, without harrumph, without notice. We thought it might be a nature break, but turns out it was just a breakout. From our point of view, it was more a walkoff than a walkout. But, as a wise man said, having to make an intelligent decision often makes dunces of us all.

Often, vacancies occur when the item in question becomes useless. People who create vacancies can also become useless. This child loves the ol’ rockin’ chair but if he doesn’t particularly want to sit in it, he finds another place to light. Wonder if it might be wise for a few alleged public servants to find another landing spot.

But, who said anything about anyone being wise.


Drive By Shooting in Minden Claims the Life of a Small Child

A three-year-old child died last night of a gunshot wound.
Multiple rounds of ammunition were fired at this house in the 700 block of Plum St., striking the child once.
Please read the submission below by Minden Police Association.

According to the Minden Police Association, a small child has died as the result of a drive by shooting.

The sound of gunfire in Minden is becoming so common that people are not reporting it. This all changed tonight when a drive by shooting claimed the life of an innocent, small child. The shooter(s) fired multiple rounds at the residence. One round struck the small child. The parent of the child rushed him to Minden Medical Center where he was pronounced deceased.

Further details are not being released at this time due to the ongoing investigation.

If anyone has information regarding this tragic crime please call the Minden Police Department at (318) 371-4226.

It is time for the community to step up and take action. Short staffed MPD Officers patrol high crime areas, but are only as successful as their staffing limitations allow. They need the public to speak out and report these dangerous criminals. They need qualified individuals to fill their ranks.

As others try and minimize the gunfire in this once peaceful community, MPD Officers go from violent call to violent call. They know the seriousness of the pain and suffering these dangerous criminals inflict.

The short staffed Minden Police Department came when called. Every detective employed by the police department went to the multiple crime scenes to ensure the victim received the investigation that he deserved.

Prayers and deepest condolences to the family of the victim.

Again, if you would like to make an anonymous tip, please call the Minden Police Department at (318) 371-4226.


Citizens Bring Concerns of Vacant Structure Ordinance to Town Hall Meeting

By Bonnie Culverhouse

The City of Minden hosted a well-attended town hall meeting Tuesday that was intended to help citizens see the goal of an ordinance for blighted commercial buildings.

City attorney Jimbo Yocum and Economic Development Director Phillip Smart drafted the ordinance but presented it with the understanding that it is a work in progress.

‘If there is any way, we can keep our businesses full of life, that’s what we want to do,” Yocum said. “This ordinance was done in an effort to cause people to utilize their property. What we don’t want is a vacant structure being empty for years and years and dragging property values down of adjacent properties, leaving our downtown buildings, especially, vacant for sometimes 10 years.”

Yocum said the proposed ordinance has “manageable restrictions and defined expectation of what we as a community expect from our property owners.”

“The ordinance allows us to step in before a property gets to the point of condemnation,” he said. “If the property is grown up and the building is in bad shape, that affects your neighbor’s property value.”

Part of the ordinance requests property owners have $1million worth of insurance, a concern of some persons who say they may not be able to afford it.

“We originally had it at $100,000, but Councilwoman (Terika) Walker wanted it changed to $1 million,” Yocum said.

The proposed ordinance focuses on buildings that have been vacant for more than a year and have owners that may not live near Minden, thus, ignoring upkeep. It does not apply to residential buildings – only commercial, Yocum stressed.

“If the building has been damaged by a tornado or something, there are provisions in this ordinance that provide for that,” Yocum said. “If you are making a good faith effort, and the property is listed at a fair market price, then all that’s taken into account.”

Yocum said there will be steps taken to notify the property owner if the building is under scrutiny. Owners will receive a letter giving them 30 days to bring the property up to speed or contact the city with a game plan. A second letter will be sent explaining the ordinance and penalties.

“For every 30 days that you are in noncompliance, you will be issued a citation for $300 plus court costs,” he said. “That occurs every month. It becomes a very good motivator.”

Resident Kevin Mixon said he believes the ordinance will take Minden in the right direction, a place it hasn’t been in a while.

“I’m thinking about the Pizza Hut and taco buildings (Homer Road),” Mixon said. “Is anyone showing these buildings?

Smart said he has shown many of the vacant buildings to businesses that would like to come to Minden.

“But the owners don’t know how much they want for them,” he said. “Or they want too much.”

When questioned about the citations and penalties in the ordinance, Yocum said it is simple.

“This,” he said as he held up a copy of the proposed ordinance, “gives it teeth. If you don’t have penalties or restrictions, the property owner doesn’t have to do anything. He can leave it just like it is. It has to have teeth if we are going to enforce it.”

Once the council makes revisions, Yocum said the ordinance will be made available to the public before the final vote takes place.

The Minden City Council will vote on the ordinance, and Minden Planning Commission/Zoning Board will oversee it, talking with property owners on a case-by-case basis. The commission has a representative from each district, Sarah Haynes, Jo Ann McWoodson, Michael Davis, Morris Busby and Steve Wilson.


Friends Don’t Let Friends Steal Firearms

By Bonnie Culverhouse

A local man has been charged with stealing his friend’s firearm.

Ryan Bernard Jones, 28, of the 500 block of Joel St., was arrested by Minden Police after a friend reported her firearm stolen.

Chief Steve Cropper said the woman reported Jones was the only person with her when the Rugar LCP II .380 was stolen.

“A witness saw Jones with a firearm matching the stolen one,” Cropper said. “When the victim confronted Jones about stealing the gun, he denied it. He said he returned a jersey he had borrowed but denied knowledge of the gun.”

Lt. Chris Hammontree made contact with Jones as he was leaving the backyard of the residence.

“His mother came outside and consented to a search of the backyard,” Cropper said. “While back there, officers found an old truck with a strong odor of Marijuana nearby.”

Lt. Hammontree reportedly looked through a broken window and observed a shoe box with a large number of baggies inside. After consent to search was signed and a K9 alert on the vehicle, the officer searched it and reportedly located two large baggies of natural Marijuana totaling 78 grams, two different groups of packaging materials and a Ruger holster identical to the one stolen from the victim.

“Lt. Hammontree contacted Lt. Keith King to assist with the investigation, and a search warrant was obtained for the residence,” Cropper said. “During that search, officers found a pair of shoes matching the shoe box in the truck, 33 grams of natural Marijuana in several different packages and 67.5 grams of synthetic Marijuana, along with more packaging materials.”

Officers also reportedly located .4 grams of a white powder substance that has yet to be identified.


City Marshal and Employees Serve the People of Ward 1

By Bonnie Culverhouse

When you think of a public servant, how often do you think of the City Marshal? Many people don’t know the job of a City Marshal, much less how he helps the community.

Two years ago, Dan Weaver, a retired City of Minden police captain and detective, saw what his good friend Randy Shelley accomplished as City Marshal over the years. That’s when he decided, with Shelley retiring, he would like to take the reins of Ward 1.

“We serve evictions, all civil papers pertaining to Ward 1 in Webster Parish,” Weaver said. “We take care of City Court, which is all misdemeanor charges that come through Minden, Dixie Inn and Dubberly.”

His office also executes bench warrants if a subject is FTA (Failure to Appear) for court.

Ward 1 encompasses a large area, from around four miles south of Cotton Valley, across to Claiborne, Bienville and Bossier parishes.

“We have three full-time and two part-time employees,” he said. “It’s a large area for a few people to cover.”

Since taking office, Weaver has applied a program to serve bench warrants.

“Before we come and try to find you, we send you a courtesy notice to let you know you do have a warrant,” he said. “Seven days after, just in case maybe you forgot, that’s when we start looking for you.”

There are around 2,000 persons with warrants dating back to 2010 just from Minden Police alone. Weaver said he has been “shocked” at how many FTA’s have called or gone online to settle.

In order to give his office more visibility, Weaver has purchased uniforms and cars for his employees to use on the job.

The City Marshal’s office is funded by the City of Minden and Webster Parish Police Jury. He said the return on the investment for fuel, mailings, uniforms and cars has been good for the city, Weaver said.

“I work for the people of Ward 1,” Weaver said. “Any questions pertaining to my office, I am available. If you call the office, my cell number is available, and I will answer 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I feel like the marshal should work for the people and be accessible.”

One of Weaver’s other employees, Deputy Marshal Tina Douglas, was also a MPD police officer and Webster Parish Sheriff’s deputy.

She serves warrants and makes arrests as Weaver and the other deputy marshals. Her past experience in law enforcement is a benefit in this job.

“It helps me when I get ready to approach a house – some of the skills we’ve learned,” Douglas said. “You don’t just get out without inspecting your surroundings. Just knowing what to look for when you go to the house.”

All the deputy marshals and their boss carry radios, wear vests and have handcuffs.

“He (Weaver) has given us the tools we need, so when we go out, we can get it done,” she said. “He’s real accessible. We have our cell phones and can call if we are unsure if we even have the right house.”

Other dedicated employees of the Marshal’s Office include Joe Cornelius, Cynthia Smith-Hawkins and Billy Joe Hawkins.

To reach any of them, call 318-371-4210.


How You can Help our Children and ‘Pack the Bus’

By Josh Beavers

School bells will be ringing very soon, and the Webster Parish school system is helping parents ease any pinch on the pocketbook that may come with getting back to learning.

The annual “Pack the Bus” event will be held Friday and Saturday at the Minden and Springhill Walmart locations. As part of the event, the community is encouraged to donate school supplies whether by bringing them to the bus or going inside the store and purchasing them. Supplies can then be donated in an effort to “pack the bus” which will be stationed in the Walmart parking lot.

The bus will be open at both Minden and Springhill locations from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday and 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday. This event will be followed by the annual “Back to School Bash” slated for August 9 at the Harper Center for Excellence. More information about that event will be coming in next week’s updates of the Webster Parish Journal.

This is the 13th year of the “Pack the Bus” event, and the support from the local community has been overwhelming, says Webster Parish Safe Schools Coordinator Ursula Hullaby.

“This is an important part of the school year,” Hullaby told The Journal. “I want to thank our sponsors and encourage the community to help us ‘Pack the Bus’.”

Premium Premium Sponsors making donations of $1,000

  • Gary and Sarah Haynes
  • Saint Rest Baptist Church – Minden

Premium Sponsors $601.00 up

  • Valley Peace Church Cotton Valley, La
  • Sneed ’em Chili Dogs

Platinum Sponsors $450-$500

  • Walmart – Minden
  • Kevin and Debbie Washington
  • McDonald’s – Minden
  • Minden Family Dental
  • Barksdale Federal Credit Union
  • B1 Bank
  • James C. Rhymes Foundation

Silver Sponsors $200-$350

  • Kenneth and Sharon Duncan
  • Denise Edwards
  • Fleming Group
  • Carter Federal Credit Union
  • Sheriff Jason Parker
  • Living Word Church- Minden
  • Horseshoe Dental
  • Dale and Crevonne Odom
  • Speer Roofing
  • Fibrebond
  • Lynda Carmouche Psychotherapy
  • New Direction Church of Cotton Valley
  • Premier Family Clinic, LLC
  • Andre and Teresa Washington
  • New Bethel AME Church Springhill, Louisiana

Bronze Sponsors $100-$150

  • Jonathan and Latisher Ward
  • Linda Hudson
  • Minden Police Association
  • Mark and Becki Brown
  • McInnins Insurance
  • Cory and Melanie Lewing
  • Mike’s Spirits
  • Minden Floral
  • Storage Solutions – Germantown Storage
  • Rocketfast
  • Harper Motors
  • Mr. and Mrs. Larry Ferguson

Patrons

  • Ricky and Mary Wright
  • Carolyn Pickett
  • Yolanda Palmer
  • Daryl and Oreata Banks
  • Colonel & Diane Thompson
  • Ad Signs
  • Nathan Richardson

Minden Police Make Arrest, Confiscate Firearm

By Bonnie Culverhouse

One more firearm is out of commission with the recent arrest of the man carrying it.

Minden Police Officers arrested LaQuincy Warren, 35, of the 500 block of Cherry St., Minden for possession of a firearm by a felon, resisting an officer, illegal carrying of weapons, possession of drug paraphernalia and on a warrant for aggravated battery.

Police Chief Cropper said Sgt. Mitch Hackett, Lt. Chris Hammontree and Lt. Brandon Curry were dispatched to the 100 block of Abney St. in reference to a disturbance involving a handgun.

“When they arrived, they located Warren, who fit the description of the subject with the gun,”
Cropper said. “Warren turned away from officers and walked off, attempting to stuff something in his backpack. When officers told him to stop, he ran and they pursued on foot.”

Cropper said Lt. Curry located Warren and ordered him to the ground at gunpoint. Lt. Hammontree reported recovered the gun, a JS-9MM.

“Sgt. Hackett put Warren in handcuffs and mirandized him,” said the chief. “During a search of Warren’s person, Sgt. Hackett located multiple 9MM rounds and a meth pipe.”

Warren was booked at Minden PD and transported to Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center.


Minden High Grad Carter to Run College Track

By Josh Beavers

It’s been a busy summer for recent Minden High grads. Shakayla Carter is the latest in a string of former Tide athletes to accept a scholarship to play their sport at the collegiate level.

Shakayla signed with Wiley College of Marshal, Texas, on Tuesday. She will run track for the Wildcats and is interested in majoring in kinesiology. She wants to become an athletic trainer.

“I want to thank my family and coaches,” Shakayla told The Journal. “I couldn’t have gotten here without them. I’m excited about this.”

Shakayla qualified for the state track meet in the 200 meter sprint. Her best time was 24.49. She also ran the 100 meter with a best time of 12.71. At Minden she competed in the 100m and 200m as well as the 100, 200, and 400 meter relays.

She also was a skilled athlete on the basketball court. She was second team All-District and first team All-Area her senior year. She put up 14 points per game, five rebounds per game, and three steals per game last season.

Jacob Brown coached Shakayla in basketball. He said the school was proud of her on and off the court and track. “She’s a great person and athlete,” he told The Journal. “She’s a good role model for all the young athletes at our school.”

In addition to her coaches, Shakayla was joined by her friends, family, and Minden administrators Nathan Richardson and Tia Damond for Tuesday’s signing.


North Webster Fall Practice Begins Monday

By Josh Beavers

This is the second in a set of brief looks at Webster Parish’s four high school football teams. The North Webster Knights are looking to bounce back from a tough year full of injuries and heartbreak.

SUMMER WORKOUTS – The Knights had two opportunities to work out Monday, Tuesday and Thursday during the summer. Morning workouts were at 9 a.m. and afternoon workouts were at 5 p.m.

PRESEASON PRACTICES – Begin Monday, August 2. The Knights will have an abbreviated two-a-day work split with special teams work at 9 a.m and full practice at 6 p.m. This schedule will be for the first two days before once a day practice at 6 p.m.

SCRIMMAGE – At Mangham on August 20 at 6 p.m.

JAMBOREE — The Knights will be one of five teams participating in the annual jamboree. The other teams are Lakeside, Minden, Homer, and the host – Haynesville. The event will be held in Haynesville on August 27. Games begin at 7 p.m.

FIRST GAME — At home against Haynesville. September 3 at 7 p.m.

NOTES: Head Coach John Ware said the team can do well this year if the injury bug doesn’t bite once again like it has the past couple of seasons. He told The Journal that the starting lineups are solid but there is a lot of youth backing them up. There is a lot of development that will be necessary as the young players learn and grow in the sport. Ware said the team has numerous senior leaders and mentioned a few by name. “Jamarcus Stevens is one of our best athletes and he will play outside linebacker, running back, and some receiver.” Jaterion Robinson, who is a three-year starter, also plays linebacker and tight end/H-back on offense. Senior lineman Drew Hutchinson and Ty Modisette anchor the offense and will look to open holes for running backs throughout the season. “There’s a lot of questions we’ve got to answer,” Ware said. “It’s hard to tell from one year on to the next how the team will gel together. But if we can all stay healthy, I feel we will be competitive.”


Arrest Reports

Robert J. Scott, 30, of New Orleans, was arrested by Webster Parish Sheriff’s deputies as a fugitive from New Orleans Police.

Jeremy D. Monistare, 44, of the 1200 block of Shreveport Rd., was arrested by WPSO on three outstanding warrants and as a fugitive from Minden Police

Peggy Hudson, 39, of the 100 block of Shane Dr., Minden, was arrested by WPSO on three outstanding warrants.

Brandy Looney, 43, of Springhill, was arrested by Springhill Police for possession of Sch. II Methamphetamine and rug paraphernalia.

Justin Howard McCaleb, 27, of the 100 block of Katie Lane, Minden, was arrested by Minden PD on outstanding warrants for hit and run and running a stop sign.

Matthew Pyle, 25, of Dixie Inn, was arrested by Dixie Inn police for abuse battery with child endangerment and disturbing the peace.

Desstane Bryant, 32, of Springhill, was arrested by WPSO in Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center on a warrant for possession of Sch. II Methamphetamine.


Podcast: Marcus Jones joins Billy West LIVE

PART ONE

Marcus Jones joins Billy West Live and discusses his Interim Appointment as President of Northwestern State University.

The interview includes Marcus’ educational background and experiences teaching and in administration of higher education.

Marcus answers questions about his vision for the immediate future of NSU and increasing on-campus enrollment for Students in Natchitoches.

PART TWO

Marcus Jones answers questions related to his commitment to higher education in general and specifically related to keeping NSU competitive in Division 1 Athletics, especially football.

Marcus also discusses the position of permanent President of NSU and whether or not he will be a candidate for that position. Marcus also discusses his views on whether a terminal degree is necessary or required to be the permanent President of NSU.


Minden’s Fire Rating Suffers under PIAL Changes

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Every five years, fire departments all over the state are rated by Property Insurance Association of Louisiana (PIAL). It’s one of the few times where going up means going down.

Minden Fire Chief Kip Mourad told members of the city council Tuesday that his department has gone from a Class 2 to a Class 3, a place where they haven’t been in quite a while.

“We were a 2 rating,” Mourad said. “Under the points system, we had an 82 that put us in Class 2. When we got our results back this time, we went down to a 3 with a 76.3. We contested it.”

A rating representative from PIAL met with Mourad to go over the results.

“We did not do anything different (from past years),” said the chief. “As a matter of fact, we did better, but they changed the criteria and the ratings two years ago. Because they changed the criteria, we didn’t get as many points.”

Mourad said as the representative looked over their scores again, they actually gained two points, taking them to a 78.

“It was not enough to get us that 80,” he said. “There was nothing else we can do right now.”

PIAL’s rating affects homeowners’ property insurance premiums, so Mourad said he talked with a local insurance agent.

“They told me you can’t say it’s going to affect them by $1 a person or $10 a person,” he said. “It all depends on the way that homeowner’s insurance is rated and set up for property.”

Some of the criteria changes include:

  • Credit for engine companies decreased from 10 points to 6 points;
  • Credit for reserve engine companies decreased from 1 point to 0.5 points;
  • Credit for pump capacity decreased from 5 points to 3 points;
  • Credit for ladder service decreased from 5 points to 4 points;
  • Credit for reserve ladder and service trucks decreased from 1 point to 0.5 points; and,
  • Credit for deployment analysis (formerly credit for distribution) increased from 4 points to 10 points.

Minden Fire Department has 15 full-time firefighters and 17 volunteer firefighters. The department is equipped with three pumpers, one ladder truck and one rescue truck that covers half the parish.

The Property Insurance Association of Louisiana (PIAL) is a private, non-profit association composed of all insurance companies licensed to write fire and certain coverages within the State of Louisiana. Founded by its member companies in 1888, PIAL has been in continuous operation for more than 130 years. To read more about the fire ratings, visit pial.org.


Council Votes to Demolish Dangerous Structure

By Bonnie Culverhouse

A house fire is never a welcome thing, and for Sullivan Street property owner Larry Davenport, when his house burned, it totally disrupted his life.

“I had hoped to move in this week,” Davenport said. “I made changes to the house. I had worked really hard on it. Now, there’s nothing left. I didn’t have any insurance on it.”

In fact, what’s left standing of the structure is totally unsalvageable and has been deemed dangerous to anyone who goes near it.

In a special meeting Tuesday, Minden City Council members voted unanimously to condemn the property and have the structure removed immediately. The Sullivan Street property is in District B, and District B Councilwoman Terika Williams-Walker was the only council member not attending.

Davenport said he has been in contact with Building Official Brent Cooley, who helped him get estimates for demolishing the house.

“The second story is the issue,” Cooley said. “(Fire) Chief (Kip Mourad) and I feel the second story undermines pretty drastically. We don’t want any neighbor kids or people or anything to be inside … a good storm you may have more of it coming down.”

Currently, the property is taped off and secured.

“So, we will move forward on demolition,” Davenport said.

Cooley said he feels they got a good deal at $5,000 to take it down and level the property. Local contractor David Peterson was low bidder.

After that, it is up to Davenport to keep it clean until he can make a decision about the property, as well as find a way to reimburse the city for demolition.

“I plan to auction the property off and give other people a chance to buy it because it’s in (or on the edge of) a historical neighborhood,” Davenport said. “I’m also raising funds from churches that are going to help us get the $5,000 to pay it back.”

Mayor Terry Gardner explained the process of reimbursing the city.

“We will have to put a property lien on your taxes,” Gardner said. “So, when your property is sold, it will go to pay it back.”

Cooley said Davenport will have the opportunity to raise funds.

“As soon as it’s done, we will get billed by the contractor,” Cooley said. “After that, we will bill you and you will have a short period to get that paid. If it doesn’t get paid timely, it gets moved into a tax lien.”

Mourad said the Fire Marshal is investigating. Davenport said he believes he knows how and why the house burned, but he has no proof.

“I do know it wasn’t electrical,” Davenport said. “I had recently had it completely rewired, and the electricity wasn’t even turned on. There was no power going to it.”


Sheriff Adds More Charges to Asphalt Scammer

By Bonnie Culverhouse

The Arkansas man who was arrested recently for scamming the elderly and infirmed by offering to fix their driveways, has had more charges added as people come forward.

Today, Wednesday, July 21, several complainants came forward, according to Webster Parish Sheriff Jason Parker.

“Added to the original charges are theft by fraud by residents of Lone Oak Drive and Crete Drive in Sibley and one of Syrup Mill Road,” Parker said.

Earlier this month, Parker said his chief deputy, Hank Haynes took Michael Morris Jeffery, 45, off the asphalt.

“Haynes was traveling southbound on La. Hwy. 371 and saw asphalt equipment in the driveway of the residence located in the 22,000 block,” Parker said. “He stopped at the residence because he knew the owner – Mike’s Paving – was wanted on several outstanding warrants for low quality workmanship and overcharging elderly customers.”

Parker said there have been approximately seven complaints from parish residents regarding the quality of work and the “outrageous price they were forced into paying. I’m sure there are more victims, and it is not too late to file charges.”

The most recent charges bring the number to at least 10.

The sheriff also said Jeffery claimed to be with the Webster Parish Police Jury at one resident’s home.

Jeffery’s original charges include false impersonation, three counts of theft of assets of the aged, failure to obtain permit and cheating and swindling.

The charges were added while Jeffery is still incarcerated at Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center. His bonds now total more than $100,000.


Arrest Reports

Willie C. Watts, 53, of Homer, was arrested by Minden Police for resisting an officer, misrepresentation during booking and as a fugitive from Homer PD.

Jeremy Sherrod Shephard, 33, of the 700 block of Garrett Rd., Dubberly, was arrested by Webster Parish Sheriff’s deputies on an active warrant. He was transported to Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center, where he is held on a $75,000 bond.

Samuel Dance, 38, of Hwy. 371, Sibley, was arrested by Minden Police on four active bench warrants.

Learbury Shundrell Smith, 32, of Bradley, Ark., was arrested by Springhill Police for driving while intoxicated and first degree vehicular negligent injury.


Richardson Renovations to Help Student Growth

By Josh Beavers

Passersby this summer may have noticed work crews busy around Richardson Elementary since school let out in June.

The work is part of the bond issue local voters approved in 2019.

Improvements being made include a new HVAC system, as well as new windows and replacement of most doors. There is also a new roof going on as well as intercom replacement and electrical work. Restrooms are getting a makeover and safety upgrades are being made as well.

Principal Michelle Finley said all of the upgrades will be good for students because there will now be a more reliable heater and AC for Louisiana extreme temperature fluctuations and many other factors that will help students learn and grow.

“It will be a brighter campus for students,” Finley told The Journal. “This is about maintenance of a very old building and making the most of what we have and having a comfortable place for students to learn and grow.”

School begins soon, and we asked Finley what are some of the things she is looking forward to for the start of the new year.

“[We are looking forward to] more interaction with students and parents, working together to improve school climate and culture, an excitement for teaching and learning, helping students to achieve their absolute best and celebrate their achievements,” she said.

As for a message to the community, Finley said, “We are looking forward to the start of a great school year beginning August 12th for students. We have many exciting things happening in our district and are making plans for daily intervention and the implementation of our new school calendar. Having a strong relationship with our parents and community is essential in the success of E. S. Richardson Elementary and the students that we serve.”


Local Students Earn OSHA Certification, Other Valuable Credentials this Summer

Lakeside Ag teacher Josh Utley was one of the teachers who helped 20 students complete valuable training this summer as part of Jump Start Summer

By Josh Beavers

Twenty Webster Parish students earned valuable credentials this summer during training from local agriculture teachers as part of Jump Start Summer.

The Journal is publishing a series of stories over the coming updates to highlight the parish’s Jump Start Summer initiative. Jump Start empowers school districts, colleges, and businesses to collaborate in providing career courses and workplace experiences to high school students. Jump Start prepares students to continue their education after high school while certifying them for the career fields most likely to lead to high-wage jobs.

Today, we are focusing on the Welder’s Helper program.

“We had a huge success and maxed out our numbers,” Dr. Beverly Smith, the district’s Jump Start coordinator, told The Journal during a phone interview. “This is the first time we’ve had a full schedule all summer.”

Smith said all students had the opportunity to earn OSHA 10 certification as well as NCCER core. They all received Carnegie credit, and students at North Webster High School had the opportunity to earn first aid certification.

The term OSHA 10 refers to the OSHA Ten Hour Training that is part of the OSHA Outreach Training Program. Its purpose is to promote workplace safety and health. It is a tool that can be used to make workers more knowledgeable about their rights related to workplace safety and health and overall workplace hazards.

NCCER develops standardized construction and maintenance curriculum and assessments with portable credentials. These credentials are tracked through NCCER’s Registry System that allows organizations and companies to track the qualifications of their craft professionals and/or check the qualifications of possible new hires.

NCCER’s workforce development process of accreditation, instructor certification, standardized curriculum, registry, assessment and certification is a key component in the industry’s workforce development efforts.

Louisiana’s Jump Start is the new paradigm for career and technical education (CTE), requiring students to attain an industry-based credential in order to graduate high school. It is the state’s new program for school districts, colleges, and businesses to collaborate in providing career courses and workplace experiences to high school students. Students have the opportunity in high school to earn industry-valued, industry-promulgated credentials in the career fields most likely to lead to high-wage jobs, while preparing them to continue their post-secondary education in 2-year and 4-year colleges and career development.