A failure to launch

It isn’t as rare as sighting Haley’s Comet, but it was very unusual Thursday morning when Journal readers checked e-mail and didn’t find the normal 6:55 a.m. edition of your free local news source.

In fact, it’s the first time in over a decade of operating Journals around north Louisiana that happened.

Our e-mail distribution portal is operated by Constant Contact, which had a significant system disruption early Thursday. It was systemwide for them – a much bigger problem that goes far beyond our Journal community.

Fortunately, the problem was resolved mid-morning, and your Journal e-mail arrived about 10 a.m., three hours late. We apologize for the delay. It’s a first for us.

All Journal content was published as normal Thursday morning and is available through our websites and our social media pages that are specific to each Journal.

The folks at Constant Contact believe the problem is resolved, but just in case a snag happens again, Journal Services has a plan in place. Subscribers will quickly get an e-mail sharing different pathways to access the daily content that many need to get their day started just right.

That is always available by accessing our content through our websites, or social media.

The web addresses:







E-mail subscribers to these Journals were impacted by the Thursday morning issue..

All our Journals have corresponding Facebook pages, except for the South Caddo Parish Journal, whose content all is housed on the Shreveport-Bossier Journal Facebook site.

We appreciate your patience dealing with this major disruption – similar to a power outage or the systemic problem United Airlines encountered a couple of days ago, but unprecedented in Journal Services’ existence that goes back well over a decade.

LSHOF Round Table Luncheon July 29 will provide up-close, memorable moments

The “youngest” event during next weekend’s Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Celebration is the most exclusive, yet casual, opportunity for the public to enjoy hearing from the Class of 2023 inductees.

It’s the LSHOF Round Table Luncheon on Saturday, July 29, at noon in The Venue at 530 Front Street in Natchitoches. There’s still time to be among the 200 guests for the fifth annual Round Table Luncheon presented by the Tiger Athletic Foundation.

Registration is available for that event and all other activities during the Induction Celebration beginning next Thursday, July 27, by visiting LaSportsHall.com, or by calling 318-238-4255.

Festivities begin next Thursday evening at 5 with the free of charge La Capitol Federal Credit Union Welcome Reception open to all, no registration necessary, at the Hall of Fame museum facing the traffic circle at 800 Front Street.

Next Saturday’s Round Table Luncheon starts with tremendous Louisiana cuisine and quickly kicks into gear with Fox Sports announcer (and 2020 LSHOF inductee) Tim Brando interviewing small groups of inductees on stage in a very informal and fast-moving setting.

While there are some logical pairings for the interviews, like former Chicago Bears players Wendell Davis and Matt Forte, and former LSU baseball teammates and much more accomplished coaches Paul Mainieri and M.L. Woodruff, other groups will fall together in fun and unpredictable fashion.

Two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning will certainly be an entertaining interview for Brando. .Manning created the faux character Chad Powers and took part in a hysterical tryout for Penn State football last summer. He also shares the platform with his older brother Peyton in the popular and off-the-wall “ManningCast” on ESPN2 during Monday Night Football games, and is in a new beer commercial with Snoop Dogg. It will be interesting to see who shares the spotlight with Eli.

Former Texas Rangers manager and current Atlanta Braves third base coach Ron Washington is one of the more beloved and funny people in Major League Baseball. He was a prominent character in the award-winning major motion picture “Moneyball”—which earned Brad Pitt an Academy Award nomination — chronicling the success of the Oakland Athletics due to groundbreaking use of analytics in the early 1990s, while he was third base coach with the A’s.

Washington could be paired with LSU pitching great Paul Byrd, who had a 14-year MLB career and has since become a colorful member of the Braves’ TV announcing crew.

Duke All-American and WNBA All-Star Alana Beard might be matched up with Walter Davis, the two-time USA Track and Field Olympian who was a basketball star at Beau Chene High School near his hometown of Arnaudville. Beard has local roots, with her parents from Cloutierville and Bermuda, and plenty of relatives still in south Natchitoches Parish along Cane River.

A poignant scene at the 2019 luncheon unfolded before the program when Peyton Manning stopped by to greet LSU legend Johnny Robinson, who was inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame two months later.

It all combines to provide a memorable 90 minutes with guests in close proximity to the living legends.

The Hall of Fame Round Table Luncheon shapes up as a highly entertaining opportunity for guests to have a up-close-and-personal experience and be entertained and well fed in a casual setting.

Coming right up! Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Celebration is July 27-29

The biggest, most celebrity, and fun-filled party of every summer in Natchitoches and for miles around is coming your way a bit later than normal, at the end of this month.

Three days of festivities are right around the corner, Thursday, July 27 through Saturday, July 29, with the 2023 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Celebration.

Two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning Joins four-time WNBA All-Star Alana Beard (whose parents are from Natchitoches Parish) and College World Series champion LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri in a star-studded 12-member induction class.

The LSHOF Class of 2023 also includes New Orleans native Ron Washington, who managed the Texas Rangers to a pair of World Series appearances and in 2021 helped the Atlanta Braves win the world’s championship; two-time LSU track and field USA Olympian and world champion Walter Davis; and Slidell native, Tulane great and Chicago Bears two-time Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte.

Also elected for induction are All-American LSU pitcher Paul Byrd, a 14-year Major League Baseball veteran who made the 1999 All-Star Game; Shreveport native Wendell Davis, who shattered LSU football receiving records before heading to the NFL; multiple national champion and world-class weightlifter Walter Imahara, a UL-Lafayette legend; and retired Baton Rouge-Parkview Baptist baseball coach M.L. Woodruff, whose teams claimed 11 state championships.

The LSHOF’s Class of 2023 will be enshrined Saturday, July 29, at the Hall of Fame’s home in Natchitoches to culminate the 64th Induction Celebration.

The 2023 Induction Celebration will kick off Thursday, July 27, with the La Capitol Federal Credit Union Welcome Reception from 5-7 p.m., free to the public at the Hall of Fame museum.

The Friday, July 28 schedule begins with the Celebrity Bowling Bash presented by BOM at Four Seasons Bowling Center in Alexandria. The 2023 Rockin’ River Fest, a free concert on the downtown riverbank stage, begins at 6 p.m. and runs until 10:30. In conjunction with the Rockin’ River Fest is the VIP Taste of Tailgating party presented by Hancock Whitney.

The slate on Saturday, July 29 kicks off with the free LSHOF Junior Training Camp led by community relations personnel from the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans, on the NSU campus at the Webb Wellness and Recreation Center and Turpin Stadium. Kids ages 7-17 do need to register in advance at the LaSportsHall.com website, but there is no charge to participate.

At noon Saturday, the Round Table Luncheon presented by the Tiger Athletic Foundation is held at The Venue on Front Street.

Festivities culminate Saturday evening with the Induction Reception at the LSHOF museum beginning at 5, followed at 7 by the Induction Ceremony at the Natchitoches Events Center. Northwestern State University and State Farm Agents of Louisiana are presenting sponsors Saturday evening.

The VIP Taste of Tailgating, the Bowling Bash, the Round Table Luncheon and the Induction Reception and Ceremony are ticketed events requiring purchase in advance through LaSportsHall.com or by calling 318-238-4255, and those events could become sellouts.

The Thursday reception, the Friday evening River Fest and the Junior Training Camp are free. As noted above, camp participants must register online in advance.

The 2023 Induction Celebration will be hosted by the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Foundation, the support organization for the Hall of Fame. The LSHOF Foundation was established as a 501 c 3 non-profit entity in 1975 and is governed by a statewide board of directors. For information on sponsorship opportunities and other participation, contact Foundation President/CEO Ronnie Rantz at 225-802-6040 or RonnieRantz@LaSportsHall.com, or Greg Burke, Director of Business Development and Public Relations, at 318-663-5459 or GregBurke@LaSportsHall.com.

We all know right from wrong – It’s time we enforce it!

LCCM Policy Solutions is a non-profit established to advocate and educate legislators and the public on public policy based on conservative principles.

By utilizing a myriad of scholars, policy wonks, pollsters, and activists, we help craft and promote top conservative policy priorities for Louisiana.

From fiscal issues to social issues and everything in between, LCCM Policy Solutions is a beacon for those interested in advancing Louisiana to a more conservative run government.

Paid Content by LCCM Policy Solutions

THIS WEEKEND: 26th Annual Natchitoches Jazz/R&B Festival

Don’t miss out! Limited tickets are available for the Natchitoches Jazz Fest featuring Mark Chesnutt, Cupid, Tracy Byrd, and more!

Buy now and enter to win a luxurious Steel Magnolias Getaway! Affordable prices, unforgettable experience!

How to enter:

It’s simple! Buy your Natchitoches Jazz R&B Festival tickets, and you’re automatically entered into the giveaway! The more tickets you purchase, the more chances to win, with VIP tickets counting even more!

The Giveaway Prize Package includes:

2-night stay at the iconic Steel Magnolias House B&B where several scenes from the movie were actually filmed!

$100 gift certificate for Merci Beaucoup Restaurant in downtown Natchitoches just a few blocks from the Steel Magnolias House!

$100 gift certificate for Mayeaux’s Steak House within easy walking distance from the Steel Magnolias House!

Dinner for two at Mariner’s Restaurant on Sibley Lake which offers spectacular sunset views over the lake and fine dining!

Scenic cruise on the Cane River Queen, Natchitoches’ own riverboat!

$100 gift certificate to Plantation Treasures Gift Shop!

$100 gift certificate to Magnolia Spa Wellness & Boutique.

The approximate value of the package is over $1,000!

Get your tickets and enter the giveaway today:


For more information on the full line-up, head to:


WPJ Political Poll – November 8, 2022

  • Election Day
    November 8, 2022

    Webster Parish Journal is giving our readers the opportunity to participate in an online poll for parish and city candidates.

    In order to get accurate results, please vote only for candidates in your district.

    The poll will run in all WPJ publications until 4 p.m. Wednesday, November 2 when the link will no longer be active. Results will be posted in Webster Parish Journal’s Thursday, November 3 publication.

    As always, we recommend you go to the polls November 8 and exercise your right to vote.

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WPJ Political Poll – November 8, 2022

  • Election Day
    November 8, 2022

    Webster Parish Journal is giving our readers the opportunity to participate in an online poll for parish and city candidates.

    In order to get accurate results, please vote only for candidates in your district.

    The poll will run in all WPJ publications until 4 p.m. Wednesday, November 2 when the link will no longer be active. Results will be posted in Webster Parish Journal’s Thursday, November 3 publication.

    As always, we recommend you go to the polls November 8 and exercise your right to vote.

  • Should be Empty:

WPJ Political Poll – November 8, 2022

  • Election Day
    November 8, 2022

    Webster Parish Journal is giving our readers the opportunity to participate in an online poll for parish and city candidates.

    In order to get accurate results, please vote only for candidates in your district.

    The poll will run in all WPJ publications until 4 p.m. Wednesday, November 2 when the link will no longer be active. Results will be posted in Webster Parish Journal’s Thursday, November 3 publication.

    As always, we recommend you go to the polls November 8 and exercise your right to vote.

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Former NSU hoops coach McConathy considering state Senate run

A DIFFERENT ARENA? Former Northwestern State basketball coach Mike McConathy, a Bossier City native, is considering entering politics as a candidate for revamped state Senate District 31.

When he left Northwestern State In March as the winningest college basketball coach in state history, Bossier City native Mike McConathy wasn’t sure what the future held.

Three months later, he’s considering scratching an old itch. McConathy, who counts Louisiana Political Hall of Famer and longtime influential state legislator Billy Montgomery of Haughton among his primary mentors, is considering running for the state Senate in a redesigned district spanning parts of 10 parishes in northwest Louisiana.

With the anticipated revamp of Senate District 31, incumbent Sen. Louie Bernard of Natchitoches announced last week he will not seek a second term. Bernard previously served 24 years as Natchitoches Parish Clerk of Court and after over 40 years of public service, the still energetic 71-year-old said he’s going to serve out his term until 2023 and enjoy family life.

McConathy grew up with a first-hand perspective on public service. His father, John McConathy, was the Bossier Parish Superintendent of Schools for 20 years and later was a key collaborator in the development of the modern Bossier Parish Community College campus between U.S. 80 and I-20 in Bossier City.

Among his accolades, the former NSU coach is enshrined in the university’s Hall of Distinguished Educators for his service as a faculty member at Northwestern, and in 2012 he earned an elite Pillar of Education award from the National Association of Basketball Coaches for leading the Demons’ program into continuing educational outreach in area schools. His program was noted for its wide-ranging community service endeavors, and its academic performance – a remarkable 90 percent of his players earned degrees at NSU.

“This is something that has been on the back of my mind for quite some time, because I’ve known people who have served and are serving in Baton Rouge who have made a tremendously positive impact for the people they represented, and for the entire state, for that matter,” said McConathy.

“When Louie made his announcement, I had quite a few friends suggest I ought to consider this. I’m now in the process of visiting with people who have a real understanding of political life and public service,” he said, “along with many dear friends and most of all, my family members, so I can make the best possible decision for all concerned.”

The new District 31 has roughly 70 percent of its population located in Bossier, Caddo, Natchitoches and Sabine parishes, with portions of Webster, Bienville, DeSoto, Red River, Rapides and Winn included. That fits the geographic footprint which was the base of McConathy’s recruiting area and team rosters from 1999-2022 at NSU and for 16 years previously at Bossier Parish Community College.

“Some people might wonder how my career in coaching would translate to serving in Baton Rouge in a legislative body, in the political arena. In coaching, to succeed you have to nurture relationships with a variety of people from high school and college students, to colleagues and opponents, throughout a campus community and a fan base with avid alumni of all ages and backgrounds. You have to listen, you have to be responsive, you have to collaborate, and at the same time, you cannot compromise your values and your integrity.

“We all know politics can be a tough business to navigate, now more than ever. Heck, I’ve spent over 40 years trying to find middle ground with the referees,” he laughed. “As long as we understand each other, we can find paths to the best possible outcomes.”

McConathy said if he runs, he would do so as an independent, not affiliated with a political party. The only announced candidate so far is Shreveport Republican state Rep. Alan Seabaugh, who has served in the state House since 2010 but is term limited there.

Photo by CHRIS REICH, Northwestern State

Journal offering three $3,000 scholarships at NSU for undecided 2022-23 students

Students who aren’t sure where they’ll go to college this fall are encouraged to apply for the Journal Services NSU Scholarships, which will award three new Northwestern State University students up to $3,000 in the next school year.

Applications are being accepted beginning today through midnight June 8. A link to a simple online application form is available at the bottom of this story.

The scholarships are designed to assist Class of 2022 high school students who haven’t settled on a college choice, as well as students currently enrolled at other higher-education institutions who are considering transferring to NSU in Natchitoches.

They are being provided by Journal Services, LLC, the business that serves local and area residents by providing the framework for the Webster Parish Journal. Journal Services, LLC, is based in Natchitoches and supports 12 journals covering north central and northwest Louisiana.

“We know there are students who haven’t decided yet where they’ll go to college this fall. We know that in many cases, money is a key factor in making college accessible,” said Bill Vance, general manager of Journal Services, LLC. “We are providing three game-changing scholarships bringing eager students to NSU to take advantage of the excellent academic programs here, and to live in a community where there are plenty of opportunities to find part-time jobs and to have a great student experience.”

A successful applicant from Webster Parish will join 187 other local students who attend Northwestern. Among the university’s 81,000 alumni, 626 currently live in Webster Parish.

Applicants are asked to provide their high school GPA (and college GPA if applicable), and also, report their ACT score along with listing honors, extracurricular activities and other relevant information on the form. That information will provide a basis for selecting the three winners.

The scholarship awards are for $1,500 cash per semester in the 2022-23 academic year. To renew the scholarship for the Spring 2023 semester, winners must post at least a 2.7 Fall semester GPA at NSU.

Scholarship winners must live in Natchitoches Parish during the upcoming school year. They are also required to have in-person, face-to-face instruction for 75 percent of their classes in 2022-23.

Students who have already accepted financial aid awards from Northwestern are not eligible to apply.

APPLICATION:  To Apply – Click Here



Hannah Barker, 26 of Montgomery, was sentenced today, May 4, in a Natchitoches Parish courtroom as part of a plea agreement with the state in the burning death of her 6-month old son Levi Ellerbe. She was sentenced to 30 years for conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and 10 years for manslaughter.

The sentences will run concurrent and Barker will receive credit for the time she’s already served since her arrest in July of 2018.

An independent defense attorney explained that Barker will likely end up serving 6 years of her sentence with the opportunity to knock even more time off her sentence by participating in life enrichment programs while in prison. Barker’s defense stressed that the sentences were non violent for the purpose of sentencing under the Department of Corrections.

Levi Ellerbe was six months old in July 2018 when Barker initially told police he disappeared when two men confronted her at her home and pepper-sprayed her in the face. She said she escaped the confrontation and when she returned to her home, Levi was missing. The child was found a few miles away with severe burns over 90% of his body. He died several hours later in a Shreveport hospital.

Barker’s girlfriend, Felicia Marie-Nicole Smith, 29 of Natchitoches, admitted to committing the homicide.

The sentencing was done under an Alford plea for Barker. This plea allows a defendant to claim to be innocent without taking the risk of going to trial.

Barker’s attorney J. Dhu Thompson issued the following statement:
This case is an absolute tragedy on so many levels. One is the horrific manner in which baby Levi was killed by Felicia Smith. Second is what my client has also had to endure throughout this process. She’s lost her only child to the horrible and unimaginable actions of Felicia Smith, and while having to grieve and mourn her baby boy, she’s had to do so while losing years of her life and her freedom in the process. Faced with he resources of the state against her, the emotions of the case in front of a jury and the risk of a sentence that would incarcerate her for the rest of her life, my client had to make the decision to choose what was in her best interest and to accept a plea that will allow her to get out of jail in a few years while also maintaining her innocence. This was the basis of the Alford plea done today, which as the case law provides, allows a person to accept a best interest plea under protestation of innocence.

Immediately after Barker left the courtroom, her co-defendant Felicia Smith was led in after a request was made to move her sentencing to May 4 while the deceased families were already in attendance. She was sentenced to 40 years for manslaughter, 30 years for conspiracy to commit murder, and 10 years for cruelty to juveniles.

The sentences are consecutive and Smith will receive credit for the time she’s already served since her arrest.

Both defendants’ sentences were made without the opportunity for probation or suspension of the sentence.

Kathy Ellerbe, Levi’s paternal grandmother, provided an impact statement during the court proceeding to both defendants.

“The loss of my grandson and knowing how he was murdered has been devastating. For the past three years, our hearts have been broken and there will always be a void in our lives because of this evil. I will never forget the joy Levi brought to us in his short life. I want to remember him in a happy way and not have to relive all of this again during a trial,” said Ellerbe prior to the hearing.

Billy Ellerbe, Levi’s father, thanked Natchitoches City Police Lieutenant Jeff Townson and the first responders for their compassion in the case.

District Attorney Billy Joe Harrington and Special Prosecutor Clifford R. Strider, III prosecuted the cases.

“We were able to secure convictions on both defendants, despite the lack of physical evidence on Barker, who enlisted Smith to carry out the crime. We could not allow the mother, who planned to have her baby killed, to not be held responsible for her actions,” said District Attorney Harrington.

“Both defendants are culpable in this horrible crime and today Hanna Barker admitted as such when she pleaded guilty to avoid putting her fate in the hands of a jury,” said Strider.

“In my experience prosecuting cases throughout Louisiana, this case ranks as one of the most heinous and callous acts of cruelty I have ever seen,” said Strider, who has over 40 years experience in prosecuting capital cases and violent crimes.

“After numerous meetings and extensive input from the family of the victim, we agree that today’s guilty plea and prison sentences at hard labor for both defendants will begin to bring some sense of closure to the family,” said Strider.

Harrington commended the dedicated work of the Louisiana Fire Marshal’s Office, the Natchitoches Police Department, and the Natchitoches Fire Department. Their commitment to justice was indispensable in obtaining these convictions. Harrington specifically noted the tireless and professional assistance rendered by Lt. Jeff Townson of the Natchitoches Police Department.

“Our prosecution team spent thousands of hours in developing this case. Every minute was worth it to secure guilty pleas from the mother who devised an evil plan to have her son killed and from Barker’s girlfriend who carried out Barker’s plan. In Barker’s case, there was little physical evidence to implicate her in the murder of Levi, but substantial circumstantial evidence was developed by law enforcement. Apparently, the threat of testimony by Smith, coupled with the circumstantial evidence, motivated Barker to accept responsibility for her actions. We were fortunate to obtain Barker’s guilty plea considering the nature of this crime and lack of physical evidence,” said Harrington.

Notice of Death – November 8, 2021

Marion Wyatt Bevill
March 31, 1935 – October 14, 2021
Interment: Whitehall Cemetery in Leton, LA, Saturday, November, 13, 2021, at 2:00 p.m

Lisa Kay Berridge Pearson
August 17, 1959 – October 23, 2021
Services: Saturday, November 13, 2021 at 3:00 p.m. It will be held at First Christian Church, 2205 Shed Road in Bossier City, LA. 

Vera Weaver
June 29, 1938 – November 1, 2021
A joint graveside services for Vera Weaver and her husband, Tommy Drew Weaver, will be held at Bistineau Baptist Cemetery at Bistineau Baptist Church in Heflin, Louisiana on Saturday, November 20, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. They were married for 64 years and wanted to be buried together on the same date.

Leonard Wallace
November 30, 2021 – October 18, 2021
A Celebration of Life service will be held Saturday, November 13, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. at Camp Harris in Minden, Louisiana.

It’s basketball season in Doyline

The Doyline Panthers and Lady Panthers began their seasons last night with jamboree action. The Ladies beat Simsboro, and the boys beat both Castor and Simsboro. Both teams are looking to earn championship glory. We spoke to a few of the players and the coach about the new season and the new gym at Doyline.

Wrapping Up 2021 Fishing Season

Each year during the months of October and November, anglers sit down and look at all the different schedules for the many bass tournament trails that exist. There are so many circuits today that fishermen have to choose what they are going pursue the next year. Anglers today are pulled in so many different directions that it’s almost impossible to fish everything going on. You have a great selection of team circuits (two anglers in a boat) like Bass Champs, The Texas Tournament Trail and now the Pro Texas Team Trail. The other pro/am tours that are on an angler’s radar for the next season, include the ABA (American Bass Anglers) Open Series, The ABA Solo Top 150, Major League Fishing BFL (Bass Fishing League) and the MLF’s Toyota Series. Each of these has a consistent following and each represent different levels of fishing competition. Many of the same anglers follow at least two of these and a few follows three. The Toyota Series is the best of the best and has some anglers actually make a living following this circuit.

For me, at some point in my career, I have followed each of these, but the two that I focus on now are with American Bass Anglers (ABA). For the last few years, I have fished the Open Series and now the new Solo Top 150 that started this year. The ABA Tour has what they call the Ray Scott National Championship. This is, and continues to be, a great event with anywhere from 175 to 200 pros and co-anglers from all over the country. I have qualified for this event 5 of the last 6 years including next year’s 2022 at Lake Eufaula. ABA does a great job of keeping the cost down on all their tours while trying to accommodate the weekend warriors (working man). Their new Solo 150 Pro Tour is a prime example of that with a $600 entry fee for a two-day event with the chance to win $20,000 dollars. No other circuit offers a better payback than ABA does.

For me, it’s been the tale of two seasons. The first half of the year was not anything special, but I kept myself in contention with hopes of a better second half. At one point, I thought that my season was doomed. But I had a strong finish in the last two ABA Open Series events with a 2nd place finish at Sam Rayburn and a 7th place finish at the ABA Two-Day Championship on Lake Texoma. This landed me a 5th place overall in the Angler of the Year standing for 2021 and qualified me for the Ray Scott National Championship at Lake Eufaula Alabama. This is an event I’m really looking forward to next April!

I’m still currently fishing the new TTO Pro Team Tour with one more event left for 2021 at Lake Sam Rayburn on November 20th & 21st. Even though my tournaments are coming to an end, I will use this time to experiment and learn new techniques or maybe get better at finesse fishing. But one thing is for certain, I do not worry about winterizing my boat as I continue to fish all through the winter months and prepare for 2022. So, this fall, enjoy the fall feeding frenzy and get ready for some of the best bass fishing action of the year! Good luck, good fishing and don’t forget to set the hook!

Steve Graf, Co-Host
Hook’N Up & Track’N Down Show
And Tackle Talk Live

Notice of Death – October 22, 2021

Peggy Ann Byers
August 1, 2021 – October 11, 2021
Services: Wednesday, October 27, 2021 at 2:00 p.m., at Rose-Neath Funeral Home, 1815 Marshall Street, Shreveport, Louisiana. 

Nicolas Dan Smith
April 14, 1992 – October 13, 2021
Services: Saturday, October 23, 2021 at Ye Olde Baptist Church, 1370 Linton Road, Benton, Louisiana 71006. 

Joe D. Bauldree
May 15, 1936 – October 14, 2021
Graveside Services: Sunday, October 24, 2021, at 2:00 p.m. at Arlington Cemetery in Homer, LA.

Susan Ann Cook Logan
April 18, 1950 – October 16, 2021
Visitation: Saturday, October 23, at 9 a.m. until 11 a.m., at  Kilpatrick Rose-Neath Funeral Home in Minden, LA, on .
Service: Saturday, October 23, at 11 a.m.
Interment: At the Bistineau Baptist Church Cemetery. (All are invited to the following reception at the Bistineau Baptist Church Reception Hall.)

Mildred Ebarb Madison
November 21, 1933 – October 18, 2021
Visitation: Saturday, October 23, 2021 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at Rose-Neath Funeral Home, 2500 Southside Dr., Shreveport, Louisiana.
Gaveside service: Saturday, October 23, 2021 at 11:30 a.m. at Forest Park West Cemetery, 4000 Meriwether Rd., Shreveport, Louisiana.  

Mayor pledges to better communicate with council, move city past turmoil

By Bonnie Culverhouse

In efforts to compromise over recent turmoil in city government, Minden Mayor Terry Gardner met with District A Councilman Wayne Edwards to discuss transparency and ways the mayor and the council can take steps to move the city forward.

“I am going to try and do a better job of keeping the public better informed,” the mayor said. “Mr. Edwards wants me to do this at the council meetings. He wants me to keep the information flowing to them, rather than just saying ‘I have an open-door policy – come see me.’”

The mayor said he will now be increasing emails, flyers, announcements and other engagements of city activities. Each councilperson has a desk in a large room located at City Hall.

“I am now putting hard copies of everything on their desks,” Gardner said. “I am going to be more transparent and give them more updates on everything happening at the city. I will be as upfront and transparent as humanly possible, and I hope we can put all of this behind us and move forward for the betterment of all in the city.”

Gardner said the council would also like to be part of running City Hall on a day-to-day basis.

“They’re requesting that in addition to the employee manual, they want to know when I hire people, what kind of salaries – what the position will pay,” he said. “They don’t want this to be seen as interference. They want to help me do my job.

“And I respect that,” he said.

Unfortunately, he said, the third request from Edwards is something that would require the mayor to go back on his word. Human Resources Manager April Aguilar was promised a $5,000 raise when she has been at City Hall one year.

“Mr. Edwards wants me to give April a six percent raise on her anniversary, which is $3,000,” Gardner said. “Then down the road, they would have conversation about giving her an additional $2,000 increase in accordance with current business practices.”

This remains a sticking point, the mayor said, and one from which he won’t back down.

Gardner feels, with the help of his staff, he has moved the city forward during COVID. He pointed out new jobs and 58 new businesses have come to town during his time in office.

The mayor said he is always willing to speak at meetings, whether it be garden or book clubs and class reunions.

“They just need to call me, and if my schedule permits, I’ll be there,” he said.

In other city news, the mayor said the City of Minden has been showcased recently with the annual Webster Parish Fair and class reunions, bringing untold numbers of persons to town.

“The first part of the week, we had the fair parade, and the whole community came out for it,” Minden Mayor Terry Gardner said. “Opening night of the fair was the largest in the history of the Webster Parish event.”

Gardner said what he enjoys about the fair is the people that make it happen.

“It’s just like the people that make your community,” he said. “The Civitans were out there, American Legion was selling hamburgers, the Lions Club … the whole community working together.”

His favorite part, he said, is talking to the senior citizens.

“Bingo was very well attended, and everyone had a good time,” he said. You learn so much history.”

With homecoming for several schools taking place the same week, the mayor said 75 percent of the event centers downtown were booked.

“I spoke to the class of 1981,” he said. “I reflected on what’s happened in Minden over the last 40 years.”

Those reflections included new restaurants and businesses that were once pipe dreams of progressive people.

“Who would’ve thought 40 years ago that your two largest churches downtown would be razed and rebuilt in the same location?” he said. “Who would’ve thought there would be five event centers in Minden?

“You can go into the downtown area of any of the surrounding cities and tell the strength of them by their downtown,” Gardner continued. “And our city is strong.”

The mayor went on to point out the “amazing sales tax base” that has done nothing but grow the last two and a half years. He believes a lot of that is through the transparency he has created at the city.

When Gardner was running for mayor, he said he wanted to bring City Hall to the 21st century by using social media and keeping the public informed.

“I think I’ve done a good job with that with Will Gerding, our IT specialist,” Gardner said. “He keeps our TVs updated, so when people come in City Hall, they can see what’s going on. He does a Facebook post of what’s happening in our city on a regular basis, and he does emergency posting, keeping the public informed when there are problems, road closures or weather emergencies.”

Gardner described Gerding and himself as “boots on the ground” when there is a storm, making constant updates and keeping the city council informed through text messages.

Other departments have public Facebook pages – Minden Main Street and Economic Development, to name a couple. Human Resources constantly updates job openings.

“Communication is key to me,” Gardner said.


Schools being renovated, improved, upgraded all over the parish

By Josh Beavers

You may have noticed a lot of recent renovations and additions to schools across the parish. That’s because the Webster Parish School System was hard at work before the end of last school year, over the summer, and continuing into this year to improve its institutes of learning parish-wide.

The Journal spoke with Jeff Franklin, Supervisor of Transportation, Maintenance, and Security for the district, about all of the improvements made to our school campuses.

As follows is the lengthy list of recent upgrades made across Webster Parish Schools:

Richardson and Jones building remodels – This project consisted of reroofing both schools, replacing all the HVAC equipment at both, new windows and exterior doors at both, new staff restrooms at both, replacement of sewer mains at both, electrical upgrades, and a new intercom system at both.

Doyline gym remodel – This project consisted of a complete gutting of the present gym and rebuilding of the bleachers, concession areas, spectator restrooms, player locker rooms, new LED lighting, new ceiling and paint, and a new gym floor.

Lakeside and Central parking lot upgrades and resurfacing – This project included much needed additional parking at both schools, a turning lane at Lakeside, a car staging area for student pick-up at Central, upgraded drainage at both schools, relocation of driveways at Central, and the complete resurfacing of all asphalt areas at both schools.

Central gym remodel- This project consisted of new “skin” on the exterior of the building, new ceiling, paint, LED lighting, and bleachers, and a complete refinish of the gym floor.

North Webster Junior High football stadium lights – This project consisted of new LED stadium lights which is the first part of a larger stadium upgrade project.

North Webster High School football stadium lights – This project consisted of new state-of-the-art LED lighting for the football field, track, and parking lot area. This project was funded by a grant from the LA Public Service Commission.

Minden High School multi-purpose building – This project began in February and has suffered many setbacks due to an usually wet spring and summer and difficult soil and groundwater conditions. When completed this building will house the Minden High Crimson Tide football team, the Minden High Jr. ROTC, provide an auxiliary gym, and additional classroom space. This project should be complete sometime next fall.

During our interview, The Journal asked Mr. Franklin if there was any one project that stands out.

“The Richardson and Jones School remodel stands out the most,” he told us. “This project has allowed us to provide much needed curb appeal to both buildings while replacing the very old HVAC systems and leaking roofs. I feel we are really getting a lot for our money invested at these two schools.”

He went on to thank the taxpayers of Webster Parish for allowing the system to provide upgrades to the district’s institutes of learning.

“All of these projects are much needed projects for our districts and are provided by funding from the gracious voters in the individual school districts that see a need for adequate educational and sport facilities for the students of Webster Parish,” he said. “Over the years, the residents of Webster Parish have done an outstanding job of approving the necessary funding to ensure our students can have the best possible schools and athletic facilities.”

City collects signatures to apply for sewer upgrade grant

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Two districts in the City of Minden are in dire need of sewer infrastructure updates, but getting the money may not be as easy as simply applying for it.

“We need 242 signatures from districts A and B in order to receive a $1.3 million sewer grant,” said Minden Mayor Terry Gardner. “It’s going to help so many people in those areas.”

The Coordinating & development Corporation (CDC) is assisting the City in the preparation and submission of the application for funding through the Louisiana Community Development Block Grant Program.

In accordance with the requirements of this U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funded program, the application for federal assistance must provide information regarding the number of persons who will benefit from the project, their estimated income and other related data.

“We are walking the two districts, trying to get residents to sign applications, so we can get this grant,” Gardner said. “We reached out to the council to help us with this.”

District A councilman Wayne Edwards acquired packets and is working to obtain signatures.

“Quite naturally we are encouraging people to do this,” Edwards said. “The first time the survey came out, I got 126 signatures. We didn’t have enough to complete the survey, but we’re in the process of doing it right now.”

The first time, to which he is referring, came at the beginning of the Covid pandemic when door to door interaction was discouraged. Edwards said those signatures can be added to the ones most recently collected.

“I get hundreds of phone calls and spend the majority of my time working for my district,” he added. “I’m concerned about my district, and I’m going to do my part to make sure this thing happens.”

Councilwoman Terika Williams-Walker was also contacted concerning the grant.

“I have no comment for you,” she said, when asked what she is doing to help residents in her district apply to upgrade their sewer system.

After three days of walking the areas and knocking on several hundred doors, Gardner and some participating city employees collected 28 additional signatures.

“This is not something that is going to help me or anybody that’s knocking on doors,” said the mayor. “This for the residents in District A and District B. The only way we can accomplish this is to have a total of 242 signatures. If we don’t get them, the sewers in these areas will not be improved. This is a free grant.”

Gardner said they have mailed applications to citizens in these districts but none have been returned.

“We will continue to walk and try to collect them that way,” he said.

Deadline to collect the signatures and submit the packet is January 6, 2022.

Food pantry collects donations for holiday meals

Joe LeBlanc Food Pantry is ensuring local families have a meal for which they can be thankful

“This is the ninth year we have run our Feed A Family program,” said JLFP Executive Director Jessica Lewis. “I feel like the success of it really speaks to the generosity of those in our community that really care about the well being of their neighbors.”

Since the beginning, she said, JLFP has set pretty lofty goals and are just blown away every single year.

“This year our goal is to have 600 families sponsored for Thanksgiving and 600 for Christmas,” she said. “We are currently two weeks into the season and are already more than half way to our Thanksgiving goal, which is mind blowing.”

Currently, 310/600 families are covered. Sponsorships are the same as last year: $25 covers everything from the turkey or ham to the dessert and all of the fixings in between.

“We try our best to get everything as cheaply as we can, and because of that, we watch sales at local grocery stores and buy as much as we can afford at one time,” Lewis said.

Shopping and packing for the Thanksgiving distribution will begin November 1. To sponsor a family donors can mail a check made out to JLFP to 814 Constable Street, Minden, LA 71055. Donate through PayPal at joeleblancfoodbank@yahoo.com or through Venmo at @Joe-LeBlanc-22.

All donations are tax deductible and donors will receive a tax receipt in January unless otherwise specified by the donor. The fundraiser will go through December 15.

“If we happen to go over our sponsorship goals, extra funds will be put into an account to fund our Summer Feeding program for local kids,” Lewis said.

Meals will be distributed on November 20 and December 18.

Volunteers are always needed for both packing and distribution. To get a group signed up to pack, Lewis can be reached on her cell at 318-465-6726 or at the office at 299-6375, or they can message JLFP’s Facebook page. To volunteer for distribution, those interested should show up at 814 Constable St by 8:45 a.m. on the above distribution dates.

MHS student looks back on Fair

By Braydon Gaston, Minden High School

The Webster Parish Fair was in town recently, and a whole new generation of children were able to make memories that will last a lifetime. We all have those childhood memories of playing games and riding rides at the fair, and it makes me smile to know that the youth of the community were able to do the same this year. Minden doesn’t always have a lot of recreation opportunities for young people, so when the fair comes to town the excitement level increases among the young and old alike. It does not matter if you are a parent who wants to take your child or teenagers who want to have some fun of their own, the fair promises everyone will have a good time.

When I was little, I was never interested in going outside to play, but every rule has its exception. I vividly remember that there were only two places that ever made me want to go outside and play. The first was Victory Park. The second, and more relevant, is the Webster Parish Fair. Every time I went to the fair as a kid, I was blown away by all there was to do, and I know that the children of today are just as enthralled as I was. I know they’re amazed by the bright lights, the diversity of rides, and the unique foods. I know that when the children of our community are told that they are going to the fair, they will put on a bright smile.

And more importantly, I know that when the kids get older, they will cherish the memories they made there. I very rarely call things beautiful, but the fact that I know the kids in our community made precious memories at the fair this year is unquestionably a beautiful thing.

Teddy Allen to speak at Minden Lions

Minden Lions are in for a special treat this Thursday, Oct. 12, as the guest speaker will be Teddy Allen.

Teddy is a Louisiana journalist who covered local sports for Shreveport, Monroe and New Orleans dailies from 1984 until 1990. He has written columns for the News-Star and The Times and Louisiana Gannett newspapers for more than 30 years.

A 1982 graduate of Louisiana Tech University’s journalism program, he earned his Master of English from the University in 1984. (This is after he flunked out of the school in 1979.) Teddy is currently the writer and editor for Tech’s University Communications; you can find his work at LATech.edu and LATechSports.com.

He is a broadcaster for the LA Tech Sports Network because he has the perfect face for radio and despite the fact that he has the perfect voice for newspaper.

The Lake View, S.C., native might be best known for giving the nickname “The Mailman” to Karl Malone when the NBA Hall of Famer was a sophomore at Louisiana Tech and Teddy was a graduate assistant in the Tech Sports Information Department in the 1980s.

Teddy is married to Linnea Fayard Allen. He has a son, Casey, and a daughter, Emily, who is married to Braden Hilton.

He and John James Marshall are co-founders of DesignatedWriters.com, a free site that covers everything from Why You Should Make a Grocery List to Why Baseball Matters.

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

Main To Main: 50 miles of food, fun and shopping

Mark November 5 and 6 on your calendar and join the folks in Webster Parish for the 22nd Annual Main to Main Trade Days. Whether you are an art lover, a bargain hunter, an antique shopper, a flea market and garage sale enthusiast or you just love the art of shopping; you won’t want to miss the Main to Main Trade Days experience!

The 50 mile route runs from Main Street in Springhil, then down Highway 371 south through the Main Streets of the small Webster Parish towns of Cullen, Sarepta, Cotton Valley, Couchwood to Dixie Inn onto Highway 80 on Shreveport Road, through downtown Minden then back south on 371 to the Sibley Road Flea Market and south through Sibley. The food, fun and shopping begins at dawn each day and runs through dusk.

The sidewalks of both Minden and Springhill Main Streets will be filled with vendors. The downtown shops also bring it “outside” and offer store specials and bargains galore. Vendors are many and varied.

One street corner may have homemade gumbo for sale by a local church group, while another has original handmade jewelry. You’ll find homemade pickles at one end of the street and original oil paintings on display on the other.

“Downtown Minden will feature food, art, and crafts,” said Mahala Hutto, Main Street Director for Minden. “A giant flea market will be located on the Sibley Road as you head south from Main Street with plenty of parking.”

“Plan at least one full day with us and two if you want to see everything along the route,” Linda McDaniel, Springhill Main Street Director, said. “The clock tower triangle in Springhill is a hot spot for a variety of treasures. Shoppers and vendors are welcome!”

We must thank the sponsors and the folks who help make this event possible:
Louisiana Main Street, Webster Parish Convention & Visitors Bureau, Springhill Chamber of Commerce and the Minden South Webster Chamber of Commerce. For more information, call Mahala at 318-371-4258 (Minden) or Linda at 318-539-5699 (Springhill).

We encourage all participants setting up a booth and all shoppers to follow the State and Local social distancing guidelines. Honor the 6-foot distance and if participants are sick please stay home. Please be safe and respectful and honor the local authorities if you are asked to move or not set up in an area.


Police arrest one on indecent behavior with juvenile charge

By Bonnie Culverhouse

A 911 hang-up call led Minden Police to the arrest of a man on charges affecting a juvenile.

Davaris Moore, 30, of the 16,000 block of Hwy. 80 east, was arrested Wednesday by Capt. Tim Morris and Deputy Ward Marshal Joe Cornelius for indecent behavior with juveniles.

Chief Steve Cropper said a female complainant at a Carolina Street address, where the hang-up call originated, told Capt. Morris that Moore had spoken to her 8-year-old niece on Evans St. in an inappropriate sexual manner.

“Deputy Ward Marshal Joe Cornelius handcuffed and detained Moore as Capt. Morris Mirandized him,” Cropper said. “Then Capt. Morris went to the Evans St. address and made contact with the child’s mother and the complainant.”

According to reports, the child’s aunt heard the suspects words to the child that were sexually explicit and then encouraged the child to “go with him.” The mother and complainant agreed to write out statements and file charges against Moore.

“When they arrived at the police station, Capt. Morris activated his body camera and interviewed Moore,” said the chief. “Moore indicated he had spoken to the child and described her to the officer. His recollection to the captain was that he was singing a Hip Hop song and couldn’t remember the exact words.”

Capt. Morris reportedly told Moore there were statements that described his words as indecent behavior with a juvenile. At that point, Moore indicated his desire for an attorney, concluding the interview.

Moore is currently incarcerated at Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center.