Local store helping with Back to School uniform needs

By Josh Beavers

A local non-profit will hold a giveaway Saturday to help economically disadvantaged students with their school uniform needs.

Mercy’s Closet, located at 609 Sibley Road, will host its third annual Back to School event. The event will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“All uniforms will be free to anyone who shows up – while supplies last,” said Diana Sanders, owner of Mercy’s Closet. “We have both new and gently used uniforms. No qualifying necessary.”

Sanders said anyone who shows up can get free uniforms.

“We don’t really limit quantity but do ask that people only take what they absolutely need so there will be enough for everyone who needs uniforms,” she said. “We will show a movie and have popcorn throughout the day outside for kids.”

Sizes range from toddler up to adult 3XL. Last year, Mercy’s Closet gave away nearly 700 uniform pieces.

“This giveaway is hugely important because there is tremendous need in our area,” Sanders told The Journal via Facebook interview. “We have had calls all summer from people asking when our giveaway will be.”

Mercy’s Closet’s mission statement is “helping underprivileged people climb out of the enslavement of poverty, with grace and dignity, one piece of clothing at a time.” Sanders said, “the goal of our uniform giveaway is to help children not feel like I did as a child.” She said she was teased about the clothes she wore because her family didn’t have much money.

“The dollar store tennis shoes I got in August (that were torn up by September) were the same shoes I was wearing in May, no matter how much my feet grew or how bad of shape they were in,” she said. “Not an exaggeration. I don’t want kids to feel like I felt.”

Superintendent talks masks, gives challenge to school employees

By Josh Beavers

Superintendent of Schools Johnny Rowland discussed the new state mask mandate during Monday’s regularly scheduled meeting of the Webster Parish School Board.

The mask mandate applies to all schools grades k-12 and begins Wednesday. It may be lifted on Sept 1, but Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said the temporary order could be extended.

Superintendent Rowland told board members the district has followed the guidelines outlined by the governor as well as the Louisiana Department of Education and the Region Seven Health Department. He said that will continue as Louisiana remains No. 1 nationwide for the number of new COVID-19 cases per capita.

Rowland said the district’s Covid response team was already scheduled to meet before the governor made his announcement. The team will continue with its regularly scheduled Wednesday meeting and announce specific guidelines to parents, students, faculty, and staff soon.

“We went through this last year, and we have a much better idea of how to handle things,” Rowland told the board. “We do not have as much to fear because of our experiences last year.”

He continued:

“Our mission is to work harder than ever to make up for gaps,” Rowland said regarding instructional time missed last year due to Covid. “We can’t take the attitude that whatever happened just happened because our children will be behind for the rest of their lives.”

He dubbed the 2021-2022 school year “the year of the intervention.” He went on to explain it is up to the district to build on the success of summer programs to shore up gaps in learning.

“We did well this summer,” he said. “But my challenge to each employee of this school system, no matter what position you hold, is to ask yourself what can I do? What can I do from the position I hold to make things better for the whole student?”

Other business:

Ursula Hullaby, safe schools coordinator and community liaison, gave the board an update on the upcoming Back to School Bash as well as the recently completed Pack the Bus initiative.

She said the Webster Parish School System is partnering with the LSU Health and Science Center to offer free Covid vaccines to children ages 12 and up during the annual Back to School Bash on August 9.

LSUHC will be providing free Pfizer vaccines for students (ages 12 and up) from 9 am to 2 pm at the NWHS Library in Springhill and at the front entrance of the J. E. Harper Pathways to Excellence Center in Minden (Germantown Road).

A parent must be present in order for the child to receive the vaccine.

Minden takes third at Dixie World Series

By Josh Beavers

The storybook run has come to an end as our Minden SweeTees lost last night in the Dixie World Series.

The team took third place in the tournament but couldn’t get past a tough Tennessee state champion team. Final score from Monday’s elimination game: Tennessee 16 – SweeTees 15.

This was the second time in as many games the Tennessee team defeated Minden, but the local girls went down to the final swing as they fought back and looked to move on in the tournament.

The 6u Sweetees X-play won 11-7 against Ward10 in their first game.

Logan Hollingsworth is the head coach. Assistant coaches are Tyler Lewis, Laura Perryman and Paige Chanler.

Team members include:

Laikyn Hollingsworth #13

Harper Barnette #18

Laikyn Lewis #9

Aubrey Chanler #33

Marley Bogues #2

Willow Still #6

Conleigh Jernigan #50

Lexie Perryman #24

Stella Perryman #8

Olivia Crawford #14

Annabel Sunderland #17

Adley Igo #1

Walkout shuts down Minden City Council meeting

By Bonnie Culverhouse

A move that shut down Monday’s meeting of the city council, could shut down the City of Minden in the near future.

Less than halfway through the agenda, District A Councilman Wayne Edwards abruptly left the meeting, followed shortly by District C Councilman Vincen Bradford. District B Councilwoman Terika Williams-Walker was not present, so the departure of Edwards and Bradford left the meeting without a quorum forcing Mayor Terry Gardner, by law, to adjourn.

“There were some important things on the agenda we had to approve, so we could continue to have a relationship with Centerpoint Energy,” Gardner said, after the meeting was stopped. “Also, we were adopting our millage rates tonight, a purchase agreement with another city that wanted surplus property, so they could provide power. We can’t help one of the cities in our own state.”

Possibly more important was the inability to pass the 2021/2022 operating budget for the city.

“If we don’t have a budget, then, by law, we kick back to operating at 50 percent of the last year’s budget,” Gardner said.

Acting City Clerk Michael Fluhr agreed levying taxes of 5.46 mills on all taxable property and the $39 million budget were extremely important items on the agenda.

“The milage rates for property taxes need to be set and the most important thing for me, personally, was the budget,” he said. “I think it’s disrespectful to the people who worked on the budget for so many months to put some figures together that made sense.”

District E Councilwoman Pam Bloxom said the last few months, more of her fellow councilpersons were attending meetings and workshops, whereas attendance has been a problem in the past.

“Minden, I’m here to tell you, you better get worried,” Bloxom said, even though all cameras were stopped when the meeting adjourned. “The mayor has made proposals that would do wonders for the future of Minden, and anything that comes out of his mouth is shut down by three council people. I’m just telling you how it is, so if you want a voice in how Minden lives after tonight, you better start taking notice and making phone calls.”

Bloxom said the deadline for passing the budget is the end of October.

“If we are operating at 50 percent of last year’s budget, when that money is gone, the city shuts down,” she said. “That’s personnel, that’s payroll, that’s electricity, water, everything.”

Edwards said he was unaware Bradford also left the meeting.

“There are five councilmen, and they all deserve an equal amount of respect,” Edwards said. “That’s the kind of team we need to work toward. That’s it.”

Edwards said he wants public discussions as a team.

“I don’t feel like that was happening,” he said. “The mayor has to call for another meeting.”

Bradford offered little explanation as to why he left the meeting early.

“We didn’t have all the council there,” he said. “Let’s just leave it at that.”

Arrest Report

Timothy M. Grim, 46, of the 900 block of East St., Minden, was arrested at Minden Medical Center by Minden Police for disturbing the peace (language).

Latravion D. Minix, 29, of the 600 block of Chestnut St., Minden, was arrested by Webster Parish Sheriff’s deputies on a warrant for speeding.

Harley Ray Coile, 19, of Cotton Valley, was arrested by Cotton Valley Police on two active warrants.

Davaris James Taran Moore, 29, of the 16,000 block of Hwy. 80, Minden, was arrested by Minden Police for theft by shoplifting.

Mary Sue Smith, 52, of Shongaloo, was arrested by Webster Parish Sheriff’s deputies for Possession of Sch. II Methamphetamine, possession of a controlled dangerous substance in the presence of a firearm and possession of Sch. II Alprazolem.

Cruz Mecenas, 22, of Lancaster, Texas, was arrested by Minden Police for public intoxication and as a fugitive from Brazos County Texas.

Mariah E. Bullock, 39, of Athens, was arrested for disturbing the peace and criminal mischief.

Christina Commander, 37, of Sarepta, was arrested for unauthorized use of food stamps.

Talking the truth about trash

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Webster Parish Police Jury President Jim Bonsall wants to ensure local residents understand the truth about trash.

The jury has owned the landfill, which covers around 420 acres – for more than 25 years, and recently they have entertained the idea of selling it.

“There is a 25-year operating contract, starting with USA Waste, then Allied and Republic most recently,” Bonsall said. “There may have been another company in there somewhere.”

Republic bought Allied and with it, the contract, which Bonsall describes as “terrible.”

Since Republic’s contract expires next year, it seemed a good time to consider selling the landfill, as it is costing the jury money. Bonsall said the jury has been negotiating a new contract with Republic for almost three years, and the company has been transparent and working with them has been easy.

“We negotiated and negotiated, but I don’t think they are offering us enough money to renew the contract,” he said. “We are at a standstill.”

The jury receives a royalty of 5 percent of Republic’s gross receipts at the landfill, which includes the Sarepta receiving station, although Bonsall said the people living in that area haul their trash to that location and do not pay a fee. In fact, no residents pay fees at any location – only businesses with a certain amount of tonnage.

“I don’t believe they are offering us enough royalties, or I would be in favor of renewing the contract,” Bonsall said. “That’s the only hang-up I’ve got. If we do work out a contract with them, it will be for a lot shorter period.”

Parish attorney Patrick Jackson suggested the jury check with other operating companies before selling the landfill.

“We went through the process, and we did not get one offer for an operating contract,” Bonsall said. “So, that makes Republic even less anxious to negotiate.”

However, the company is anxious for the jury to make a decision.

Bonsall said if the jury were to go with another company or sell the landfill, it will take Republic a year to close all their open sales and fulfill their permits.

But their attorney warned the jury about making hasty decisions.

When the jury was approached by someone with investors that were possibly interested in purchasing the landfill, they began to look differently at the issue.

“In the past, we actually made a little money – maybe $100,000 a year – off the landfill,” Bonsall said. “The last few years, it’s probably cost us $30-$50,000 a year to operate it. We paid the permits we have to pay by this contract. After Republic bought Allied, they came in and started buying some of the permits that they said Allied should’ve been buying all along.”

Bonsall said after looking at the numbers from the last few years, “with what Republic offered us in a contract, and we look at the tonnage the landfill has received and Republic’s gross receipts, I think we might make $50-$60,000 a year at today’s tonnage.”

Bonsall’s numbers show that even if the jury is making $100,000 a year from the landfill, it will take 100 years to get $10 million, which is the number the jury agreed upon as a minimum bid to sell.

Anything the jury makes on the landfill goes back into maintaining Landfill Road, which they will continue to do whether they own the property or sell it.

There are reasons not to sell it, Bonsall said.

“If we feel like the people of Webster Parish are not going to be served like we think they should be – no matter what is offered – then we would not do this deal,” Bonsall. “If someone offered $10 million for it, and if they were going to operate the landfill in a manner that I think they will, I cannot see why we would not take that money and use it for things we need it for.”

The jury would also be relieved of what Bonsall described as a “tremendous amount of liability.”

Bids on the sale landfill are scheduled to be opened in a public meeting on August 20. There will be a pre-bid conference at 10 a.m. Wednesday, August 4 in the Webster Parish meeting room in the courthouse annex.

Springhill police arrest local man on multiple drug charges

By Bonnie Culverhouse

A Springhill man is behind bars on multiple drug charges.

Springhill Police reportedly arrested LaJarvis Cortez White, 39, while conducting a traffic patrol operation.

Sgt. C. Causey observed a silver 2007 Chevy HHR driving with a turn signal on for an extended period of time. As he got closer to the vehicle, Causey said he noticed the license plate was expired. He executed a traffic stop.

Det. D. Silvers reportedly arrived on scene and observed the scent of alcohol impurities on White’s breath. A field test was conducted and White allegedly performed poorly. He was arrested, and Sgt. Causey utilized his K9 officer “Dink,” who alerted on the vehicle.

According to reports, officer searched the vehicle and located a pill bottle with three suspected crack cocaine rocks and a razor blade inside and a clear plastic bag containing five pink pills identified as Oxycodone. A search of White found him to be in possession of a clear plastic bag containing suspected Marijuana.

White was booked at. Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center on charges of possession of Sch. II crack cocaine, possession of Sch. II Oxycodone, possession of Sch. I Marijuana, expired driver’s license and expired license plate.

UCAP lists needs for this week

United Christian Assistance Program needs the following items for the week of August 2:
Food: crackers, biscuit mix, cornbread mix
Clothing: men’s large short sleeve shirts, men’s large socks
Household Goods: king and queen sheets, towels

UCAP is open Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. for food, utility and rent assistance. We give out clothing on Wednesdays only.

Thanks to the community for your support!

Minden man tries unsuccessfully to outrun law officers

By Bonnie Culverhouse

A Minden man who couldn’t outrun police in his vehicle, gave it a second and third try on foot before he was taken into custody for a final time.

Dylan Turk, 23, of the 1100 block of Millard Fuller Road, has been charged with no brake light, running a stop sign, resisting an officer by flight, resisting an officer with force or violence, probation and parole hold, obstruction of justice, attempted simple escape, simple escape and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Minden Police Chief Steve Cropper said Lt. Kenneth James was in pursuit of Turk, who was on Pine St. driving at a high rate of speed with a missing taillight.

“Officer First Class Anthony Miller and Officer Jason Lee were in stationary vehicles at the corner of Pine and Ash streets,” Cropper said. “When contacted by Lt. James, they fell into pursuit of the red Nissan, which was headed toward Bayou Ave.”

Ofc. Miller reportedly observed a gray car at the stop sign at Goodwill Street and Bayou Ave.

“The red Nissan crossed the center into the other lane, running the stop sign and driving into an embankment on Bayou Ave. across from Goodwill,” said the chief. “The driver, Turk, exited the vehicle and ran toward Miller St. Ofc.

Miller pursued him on foot, reporting it over his radio. He could tell Turk had his hands in front of his body, as if he were holding something. When Turk turned back toward Miller, the officer observed a firearm in his hand.”

Ofc. Miller reportedly unholstered his weapon and pointed it toward Turk, giving a loud verbal command to show his hands. According to reports, Turk tossed the firearm over a wood fence.

He was placed into handcuffs, and during a criminal history check, officers, including Lt. Chris McClaran, learned he was convicted of a felony in 2019 for possession with intent to distribute Sch. II and sentenced to five years hard labor.

“Once Turk was escorted to the patrol unit, he refused to sit inside, resisting officers’ efforts to secure him in the vehicle,” Cropper said. “Once he was inside the unit, he attempted to escape custody before the door was closed.”

During this attempt, Turk reportedly kicked Deputy Ward Marshal Joe Cornelius on his left elbow. Once Turk was being removed from the patrol unit at the Minden Police Department, he reportedly escaped Off. Lee’s custody by pulling away and fleeing on foot.

“After a short foot pursuit, he was taken back into custody and shackled,” said the chief.

Mayor uninterested in shutting down Minden during latest COVID surge

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Minden Mayor Terry Gardner is concerned about COVID-19’s new Delta Variant Strain, but he in not yet ready to implement any rules that will strangle his community.

“On a local level, I still encourage people if they’re in a crowd or attend a church where they are going to be in close proximity to others besides their family, to wear a mask,” Gardner said. “Or if they are going to events, move them to larger facilities where you can sit farther apart.”

It’s a matter of using common sense, he said.

“Don’t touch your face, wash your hands frequently, have things at your house, if you go to a restaurant, don’t huddle up close to people,” he advised. “I don’t want to be known as the mayor that shut his city down again.”

According to the Louisiana Department of Health, Gov. John Bel Edwards and LDH are recommending – but not mandating – that everyone wear a mask for the duration of the latest surge in COVID.

Some local retail businesses are offering masks to customers but not requiring them.

Assessor announces freeze on homestead exemption to eligible tax payers

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Some Webster Parish residents with homestead exemption have the opportunity now to freeze the amount the level.
Webster Parish Assessor Denise Edwards said eligible taxpayers may apply for special assessment levels or “freezes.”
“The special assessment level will ‘freeze’ the taxpayer’s primary residence at its current assessed value, if the homeowner remains eligible,” Edwards said.

Qualifying circumstances include a certain adjusted gross income and one of the following:

• Senior Citizens Freeze – At least one owner of the home must be 65 or older;
• Disabled Veterans Freeze – At least one owner must be a veteran with a service-connected disability with a 50 percent or higher disability rating;
• Disability Freeze – at least one owner of the home must be permanently and totally disabled; and,
• MIA/POW for a period exceeding 90 days.

Edwards said in 2020 a Constitutional Amendment was passed that raised the income requirement to have a combined adjusted gross income of $100,000 or less.

“The documents required to freeze your assessment are your driver’s license or birth certificate, federal tax return and disability awards letter if applying for disability freeze,” she said.

For more information, call the assessor’s office at 318-377-9311 or bring the required documents to 103 S. Monroe St., Minden between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

“It is important to note that the special assessment levels do not freeze millage rates,” Edwards said. “However, taxing districts can still adjust tax rates on these properties.”

Webster Parish Police Jury to hear auditor findings at meeting Tuesday

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Audit financials are on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting of the Webster Parish Police Jury. The meeting begins at 11 a.m. in the Webster Parish Courthouse.

Other items on the agenda follow:

• Approve invoices for payment pending;
• Hear the 2020 audit financials;
• Adopt millage rates for 2021;
• Approve resolutions authorizing the filing of an application to Louisiana Dept. of Transportation and Development for grants for the Webster Parish Office of Community Services;
• Amend ordinance for livestock at large;
• Approve board appointments for Evergreen Fire Protection District; and,
• Approve sale of adjudicated property to adjuring landowner for taxes owed.

Prior to the regular meeting, committee meetings will take place, beginning at 9 a.m. They include Road Committee, Economic Development Committee, Environmental Committee and Finance Committee.

The public is invited to attend all meetings, however, seating is limited.

City of Minden budget hearing is at the top of city council’s agenda

By Bonnie Culverhouse

A public hearing, for the proposed 2021/2022 City of Minden budget will kick off Monday’s meeting of the Minden City Council, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Immediately following, will be the regular meeting.

The following items are on the agenda:

• Audit presentation for fiscal year 2019/2020;
• Fire Department promotions;
• Condemned properties;
• Approval of final plat for lot split of property owned by Green Properties of Minden, located at the corner of Tillman Drive and Marshall Street;
• 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

All city council meetings are held in Council Chambers at Minden City Hall. The public is invited to attend, although seating is. limited.

Gardner announces re-election bid for Minden mayor

By Josh Beavers

Minden Mayor Terry Gardner announced his bid for reelection during a fundraiser held last week.

Gardner, a republican, has been Minden’s Mayor since 2018 and a member of the Minden business community since 1978. The election will be held in 2022.

“My passion for Minden is monumental,” Gardner told The Journal. “I want to continue the progress we have started, and I want to continue to grow and continue to improve our infrastructure.

He added: “I want to continue to work toward achieving unity in our community so we can all move forward together.”

Gardner outlined improvements in the community under his watch including making City Hall more “Progressive, transparent, and modernized.” His campaign paraphernalia listed accomplishments including new communication methods, economic development initiatives including 21 new businesses, overlays on streets and at the Minden Airport, restoration of Ewell Park, enhancements at the Minden Rec Complex, street light LED conversion, a community cleanup and beautification effort as well as a push for more unity in the community. Upcoming plans he listed include a solar farm and fiber optics. 

Look for more coverage of local political races in the months to come.

Picture above: Minden Mayor Terry Gardner, right, speaks with local businessman James Madden during Gardner’s reelection campaign kickoff event last week. 

Drone class launched at Lakeside

By Josh Beavers

Lakeside Jr./Sr. High School is home to a unique class that was first offered before the Covid pandemic struck. But now the world is returning to “normal,” it is the hope of the course instructor that the Lakeside Drone Class will begin flying high once again.

“The Lakeside drone class is a highly-interactive educational opportunity that teaches students how to safely and effectively operate drones for commercial use,” said Logan Cammack, Lakeside’s American History teacher and drone instructor. “Students are taught aeronautical physics, drone maintenance, airspace, and the operational and safety procedures of airports and pilots.”

Cammack is one of two Lakeside teachers who attended a week-long training in the summer of 2020 where they learned all the safety rules and regulations as well as the ins and outs of flying Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). They then passed a test with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in order to instruct others. The test earned them FAA drone licenses.

When asked what he hopes students get out of the class, Cammack said, “This class aims to not only teach students about operating drones but also to open their eyes to career opportunities in the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) industry.”

Cammack said the job market for the skills taught in this class are growing each year. “The military, oil and gas industry, wedding industry, and media outlets (among many others) are looking to hire employees with training and experience flying drones,” he continued. “While in this class students can earn FAA certification to fly drones commercially at the age of 16.”

Cammack said the class is not considered extra-curricular but part of a Jump Start pathway. The Journal has extensively covered the Jump Start initiative launched by the state in previous updates and has more coverage coming in the weeks ahead. As part of this path, students earn high school credit while simultaneously becoming certified to fly drones.

Photo above: Lakeside drone instructor Logan Cammack launches the school’s UAV before a football game last year. The drone class was offered in the spring of 2020, but the Covid pandemic halted its success. 

Town Hall meeting today to discuss Vacant Structure Ordinance

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Those interested in a possible ordinance to control vacant business properties can hear and be heard at a City of Minden Town Hall meeting that will take place from 5 to 6 p.m. today (Tuesday, July 27) at the Minden Civic Center.

During a workshop in June, Economic Development Director Phillip Smart proposed a Vacant Structure Ordinance that he hopes will be a positive thing for the city.

“If you have a vacant structure and you’re not doing anything with it, within six months if it’s still vacant, you have to file it with the city and notify them that you have a vacant structure,” Smart said. “You have to have an overall projection of what you are going to do within the next six months.”

Whether the owner inherited from a death in the family and doesn’t yet know what will become of the property, or if they plan to renovate it to lease or sell, the owner will be required to let the city know, he said.

“Basically, it lets us put it on a list that says, ‘OK, this is available,’” Smart said. “Whether it’s for sale or for lease, you tell us all the information. Who it’s listed with, project manager or property manner. So, we have that contact information.”
The owner must also prove insurance on the property – a liability policy, he said, for safety’s sake.

After the six-month period, if the property isn’t sold or rented, a penalty will be assessed.

District A Councilman Wayne Edwards expressed concern about the extensiveness of the proposed ordinance.
“What do you think will be the position of the people who own buildings downtown?” Edwards asked Smart during the workshop. “This (ordinance) is pretty extensive on what has to be done. It’s going to force people to sell their buildings. Is this what we want?”

Smart replied the hope is that owners will upgrade or sell their buildings, so they will no longer be vacant, overgrown and boarded.

Dixie Inn looks at raising sewer rates to help with grant funding

By Bonnie Culverhouse

If the Village of Dixie Inn wants grant money for future projects, they will have to come up with some of their own money. That could mean a rather tough decision on the part of local government.

“We’ve applied for a grant for $260,000,” Dixie Inn Alderwoman Donna Hoffoss said. “What we need is a new tank for our sewer system, which is located at the treatment plant.”

Hoffoss said it is money from the federal government that will be doled out through the state. In order to get the grant money, they will have to raise sewer rates.

“The Louisiana Rural Water Association has to do a study on our sewer rates,” Hoffoss said. “They are not going to be able to do that for a while because they have several projects coming up. It might be September before we know anything.”

Hoffoss said water and sewer rates in Dixie Inn were raised in 2019 from $9.50 base to $30 base on 2,000 gallons. She said there are just over 200 meters in the village limits.

Hoffoss also said the LRWA representative wants the village to make a profit of around $1,000 per month.
“Right now, at the end of the year, we will have about $9,000 in reserve,” she said. “That’s at our rates right now.”
The village’s fiscal year runs from July to June, so they are already in the new fiscal year.

Dixie Inn is scheduled to receive $50,000 this year and next year from the American Recovery Act.

“That can be used on roads, water and sewer,” she said. “You can’t just get it and spend it.”
A portion of that money could be used for the new tank, however, grant funding stipulations have changed over the years.

“In the past, they would give you all the grant money you needed to do your project,” Hoffoss said. “Now, the town has to come up with a certain percentage of that money.”

Case in point, one of Dixie Inn’s projects is $256,000.

“We’ve got to come up with $99,000,” she said. “Which we will take out of our general fund.”

Hoffoss said the recent Minden vote to sell alcohol has affected their sales tax revenue stream. In August, they will lose one of the liquor stores that has been one of the larger sales tax contributors.

“It’s (sales tax) down between 10 and 12 percent right now,” she said.

Hoffoss, along with Mayor Kay Hallmark Stratton and her two fellow aldermen Lance Milligan and Judy McKenzie, have been in office since 2016.

UCAP Needs for Week of July 26

United Christian Assistance Program, 204 Miller St., Minden, has released this week’s needs for the community.
Food: crackers, lunch meat/spam, biscuit mix, cornbread mix
Household Goods: king and queen sheets, towels
UCAP is open Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. for food, utility and rent assistance. They give out clothing on Wednesdays only.
Thanks to the community for your support!

Arrest Report

Caleb Taylor Thompson, 24, of Haughton, was arrested on two counts of contempt of court.

Brenda Wise Lane, no age available, of Homer, was arrested as a fugitive from Claiborne Parish.

Jada M. Spencer, 27, of the 700 block of Jackson St., Minden, was arrested by Webster Parish Sheriff’s deputies for simple criminal damage to property, resisting an officer, as a fugitive from Minden Police and two outstanding warrants.

Teresa McCoy, 52, of Jamestown, was arrested for possession of a weapon with controlled danger substances, possession of drug parapheranalia, possession of Sch. I, II and IV.

Tameshia Nicole Patterson, 21, of Homer, was arrested as a fugitive from Claiborne Parish.

LaCarlus D. Fuller, 59, of Millon Fuller Dr., Minden, was arrested on a parole violation.

Howard Stirgus, 33, of Metairie, was arrested at Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center for introducing contraband into a correctional facility and possession of Sch. I (felony).

Kevin Slaughter, 20, of Alexandria, was arrested at Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center for introducing contraband into a correctional facility and possession of Sch. I (felony).

Geron Parker, 38, of LaPlace, was arrested at Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center for introducing contraband into a correctional facility and possession of Sch. I (felony).

Tron Collier, 41, of Metairie, was arrested at Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center for introducing contraband into a correctional facility and possession of Sch. I (felony).

Eric Chapman, 32, of Sulphur, was arrested at Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center for introducing contraband into a correctional facility and possession of Sch. I (felony), resisting an officer and obstruction of justice.

Calvin Mitchell, 23, of Baton Rouge, was arrested at Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center for introducing contraband into a correctional facility and possession of Sch. I (felony).

Tyrie Burton, 29, of Baton Rouge, was arrested at Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center for introducing contraband into a correctional facility and possession of Sch. I (felony).

Brandon Michael Huey, 28, of the 6100 block of Hwy. 531, Dubberly, was arrested by WPSO deputies for aggravated battery.

Terri Bumgardner, 43, of Jamestown, was arrested by Minden Police for possession of Sch. II Methamphetamine and two counts as a fugitive from Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Drug induced man leads law enforcement on foot chase

By Bonnie Culverhouse

A Minden man is behind bars, but it took several law enforcement officers to make his arrest, thanks to the amount of drugs reportedly in his system.

Cecil Anderson, 47, of the 1400 block of Webster Street, was arrested by Minden Police, with the aid of Webster Parish Sheriff’s deputies, for obstructing public passages, resisting with force or violence and criminal damage to property.
Minden Police Chief Steve Cropper said officers received a call to return to the police department Saturday because Anderson was there, reportedly trying to force his way into dispatch.

“Anderson left the lobby prior to officers arriving,” Cropper said. “Officers located him on Broadway, near the city light department. He was walking in front of vehicles, blocking their passage.”

Sgt. Mitch Hackett, OFC. Jason Smith and Lt. Chris Hammontree followed Anderson as he ran across the parking lot of a local bank.

“Sgt. Hackett cut him off in the parking lot,” Cropper said. “Anderson was yelling about getting a bad batch of Methamphetamine. He was ordered to the ground several times, but he refused, with his fists clenched in agitation.”
Sgt. Hackett reportedly deployed his pepper gun, but two bursts were ineffective.

“Officers chased Anderson across Main Street, causing passage to be blocked as Anderson was almost git by several vehicles,” the chief continued. “They then chased him down Pearl Street to Green Street, west on Green for several blocks to the sheriff’s office.”

Cropper said several deputies were standing outside their office, and Anderson then stopped.

“Once officers caught up with Anderson, they attempted to place him into handcuffs, and he began to actively fight them,” Cropper said. “In his drug induced rage, it took five officers to get Anderson into handcuffs. He was taken back to the police department where he continued to be combative in a holding cell. He punched out the light and ripped the mattress apart.”

Shootings inside city limits are up, but numbers may be deceiving

By Bonnie Culverhouse

With the recent death of Ty’quan Morris, reported shootings are on the rise inside the Minden city limits. Since Jan. 1, 2021, there have been a minimum of 85 reports with local police.

However, a shooting does not necessarily mean a person was shot, said Minden Det. Chris Cheatham.
“Most of the shootings are from the same group,” Cheatham said. “And the 85 shots fired is not 85 people being shot. It’s just reported shots fired. It is 85 separate incidents of shootings – but, again, not 85 people being shot.”
In fact, he said those 85 shootings are probably 500 rounds of bullets.

Still, it’s more in the past six months than he remembers in the same time frame since he has been a police officer.
“If someone calls in a ‘shots fired,’ officers go to the area,” Cheatham said. “If they find evidence of shots fired, they generate a report. We’ve had 85 confirmed, where brass shell casings, bullets, damage to property were found.”
A person was shot in very few of the cases, he said. “It’s a lot less than 10 percent. That would be eight people, and we haven’t had eight people shot.”

Most of the shootings have taken place in the same area of town – an area where Chief Steve Cropper has ordered more patrolling for those reasons.

“We’ve got Carolina, Cherry, Joel, Peach, Plum streets,” Cheatham said. “Old projects, new projects.”
Persons who are pulling the triggers were mostly born and reared in Minden, he said, but perhaps more disturbing, the higher percentage are juveniles.

“They have no home training, no father in their house … they weren’t raised right,” Cheatham said. “It starts in the house, and by the time they get to us, it’s too late. They’re in the system; they’re going to jail. If their parents would quit letting them run the streets at two, three or four o’clock in the morning … to be out on the street at those times, you’re up to no good.”

So, where are these young people getting their weapons?

“Laws only affect good people,” the detective continued. “A criminal doesn’t care if it’s legal or illegal to carry concealed. They are stealing these weapons. People leave their cars unlocked.”

Some firearms come from the criminals’ ties to bigger cities.

“They get guns from cousins, friends of other people,” he said.

The number of shootings could be lowered if people would be proactive, Cheatham said.

“Nobody’s doing anything,” he said. “Our biggest problem: people see and hear things out there more than we hear and see, but they have zero regard to help us put these people behind bars.”

More officers on the street would help, too.

“We’re hiring; we’re short plenty of folks,” Cheatham said. “If I can put five men or women on a shift instead of three, that’s five I can have on the streets in the areas. A cop driving up and down the street will deter crime more than no cops in the area.”

At a glance: Glenbrook School Apaches football

This is the first of a set of brief looks at Webster Parish’s four high school football teams. The Glenbrook Apaches are the new kids on the block – not new to football, but new to the LHSAA ranks.

SUMMER WORKOUTS – 8-10 a.m., Monday-Friday

PRESEASON PRACTICES – Begin next Monday, August 2

SCRIMMAGE – vs. Parkers Chapel, August 20 at Glenbrook, 7 p.m.

JAMBOREE — August 27 at NSU Jamboree vs. Natchitoches Central JV

FIRST GAME — September 3, home vs River Oaks

NOTES: David Feaster begins his second season as Glenbrook’s head coach, and the Apaches’ first in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association after many years in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools … Glenbrook expects to have only two seniors on the 2021 squad as it plays in the state’s largest Class A district, 1-1A, with nine teams … the Apaches are ineligible for postseason play this fall due to the transition period into the LHSAA … Feaster expects his roster to be in the range of 20-25 players, but won’t know for certain until players report to start preseason practice next week … the former Minden HS coach (2003-07) had his greatest success at Parkway High and owns an overall 169-75 record at six different Louisiana high schools.

North Webster Cheer excels at Florida competition

By Josh Beavers

The summer has been busy for local cheer teams across the parish.

The North Webster Knight squad traveled to Panama City, Florida, for a camp last week and took home a whole host of honors for their performances.

Honors earned are as follows:

All-American Award: They tried out in front of the whole camp and UCA staff. Only about 25 from the whole camp made it.

-Chloe Ray

-Cloey Rhea

-Chase McKenzie

Pin It Forward Award: The UCA staff gives a pin to 10 cheerleaders that stand out for their leadership and kindness on day 1. Then on the last day the ones who have the pin “pin it forward” to someone on another team that they thought showed the same characteristics.

-Chloe Ray

-Cloey Rhea

-Chase McKenzie

-Haley Roath

Team Awards: Throughout the week the team learned new dances, cheers, and chants. On the last day of camp they performed what they learned and were judged by the UCA staff.

-3rd place in Cheer

-1st place in Game Day Performance

-1st place in Camp Routine

All-American Mascot & Spirit Award: This was the mascot’s first year at camp and he won the 2 biggest awards.


North Webster also won the Banana Spirit Stick, which is long-standing and important UCA tradition