Minden All-Star teams win big in weekend tourneys

By Josh Beavers

All-Star teams were in action over the weekend, and Minden squads did well in competition.

The Pony Tails took first place in the district tournament over the weekend in Ruston.

Lila Huddleston, Izzy McMillon, and Sariyah Gill were lights out for the Pony Tails during the competition. Addison Chandler, Ameila Lott, Kynzie Smith, and Lainey Gates were also dynamic for the team in winning the competition.

Coach Cody James said the girls were looking forward to state action, but he wanted to make a special comment about three girls. Aynslea Maus, Tatum Oliver, and Gracen Sparks were all told they were too old to play in the all-stars competition just a couple of days before play began. Instead of sulking, the girls were on hand all tournament long and provided moral support for the girls playing.

“They were the biggest supporters you could ask for,” James told the Journal.


The 11 and under boys team, skippered by Chris Williams, took the runner-up spot in the tournament this past weekend.

“We only were able to practice together for about two weeks,” Williams told the Journal Monday morning. “I’ve never seen more ‘fight back’ in a team I’ve coached.”

Williams said there are some small things to fix during practice, but the team has a great chance to gel and challenge at the state level.

The team defeated Bossier 6-5 on the strength of awesome play by Chris Whitehead, Tristan Grigsby, Kaleb Rolen, Hayden Williams and Colton Jellum. Whether it was timely hits or power on the pitcher’s mound, the Minden team powered its way to a place in the state tournament later this summer.

Against Shreveport, the team had several standouts including Bryson Finley and Riley Lott in addition to other players. Jake Ogelsby and Luke Stanford provide key offense and defense as well as Peyton Campbell.

The state tournament is July 9-11 in Tioga.


The Sweetees took second place in the weekend tournament and will play July 9 in the state tournament set for Alexandria.

Laikyn Lewis had an inside-the-park home run that scored two runs. Other big performers for the Sweetees included Lexie Perryman, Aubrey Chandler, Laikyn Hollingsworth, Harper Barnette and Marley Bogues.


The 7 and under all-stars will play in the Haughton tournament in July following a strong showing over the weekend.

Players who made an impact include Grayson Crawford, Jamison Russell, Beau Monday, Warren Johnson, Gavin and Gunner Sparks and Rendrick McClendon.

“They all did a great job and got good hits,” Coach Justin Crawford told the Journal. “I could lose 100 games and be happy so long as I had the hard work that those players gave this weekend.

PHOTO CAPTION: The 11 and under all-stars were one of several Minden teams to do well over the weekend.

Register now for July 10 ACT Practice Event

Webster Parish Libraries will host an ACT Practice Event on July 10 from 10 AM – 2:30 PM. Students will have the opportunity to take a full-length ACT practice test online with one of our popular databases Homework Louisiana along with test-taking tips. The test will mimic a real testing environment in that it will be timed as if students were taking the actual test. Once the test results are submitted, students get an instant score and review results showing how close they came to reaching their target scores.

Students are encouraged to take advantage of this free resource before their big test day.
*Seating is limited, so please call (318) 371-3080 or stop by the library to register! *
Lunch, snacks, and drinks are provided to students taking the test!

Female head coaches at Lakeside setting a trend

By Josh Beavers

Hidden down on the south end of the parish is an athletic gem carved out of the Piney Woods. It’s Lakeside, a small school that is home to something unique in local school sports. There are four separate teams helmed by female head coaches. That’s a remarkable achievement at any level much less a school with a high school enrollment of less than 300.

The Journal will publish a pair of Q&A stories this summer posing questions to these women about the importance of sports programs and the unique difference between a male coach and a female coach when it comes to mentoring young women in athletic competitions.

First up is LHS softball coach Roo Johnson and junior high softball coach Emily Maness.

The Journal: What made you want to coach at Lakeside?

Johnson: The family atmosphere and the competitive spirit from faculty and administration. The opportunity to continue mentoring female athletes to reach their full potential.

Maness: I honestly love the kids the most. I know we have some of the best kids in Webster Parish, and I love seeing their love and drive for sports and education. I have also created some of the best memories with kids from Lakeside.

The Journal: What is your hope for the athletic programs in the future?

Johnson: My hope is to continue to build from a strong program and develop talent and grow young women into strong, confident, successful women, while trying to compete for a state title.

Maness: My hope for the athletic programs is that we continue to grow and become better each year. I also hope that we learn to evolve each year and not think that we have to keep doing the same things over and over.

The Journal: Lakeside is unique in the fact you are a small school but have several female coaches. Do you think female athletes relate better to you than they would a male coach? Why?

Johnson: I love the uniqueness of Lakeside with the small size. It makes it feel like a family. I think that it’s important for any young female or male to have strong role models. I’m excited for my young boys to have strong male role models at Lakeside, as I am sure parents can be excited to have strong female role models for their daughters’ lives. Whether we are coaches or teachers, it’s a blessing to have so many wonderful individuals for our youth to look up to.

Maness: I believe that female athletes relate better to me than they do a male coach because I understand what it’s like to be in their position. I know what it’s like to be a female athlete, so I can understand some of their needs more than a male coach can. I can relate to them more.

The Journal: Why do you love coaching in general? What made you want to become a coach?

Johnson: I love coaching because I love watching a kid struggle at something and keep striving to focus on the process and eventually have success. To see the pride and confidence gained in a young person when they complete a task that they once weren’t able to do is so amazing. It is what fuels me. I have always loved building relationships with kids and families. I have lasting friendships from coaching. And what made me want to be a coach was having so many strong coaches in my life that helped shape me into the person I am today. And I wanted to be that to someone.

Maness: I love coaching because I love softball. I want to instill that love for softball into my players. When I played softball in high school, I knew that I would come back and coach one day. I knew that softball was something that I was good at, and I wanted to know everything about it. I worked hard every time I stepped on that field and by senior year I was awarded the “Gotta Love It” Award which to me was the highest award I could ever receive. Ever since I graduated, I have wanted to get back on the field, and that’s exactly what coaching allows me to do. It’s even better now because I get to watch girls learn and grow and fall in love with the same sport that I love so much.

PHOTO: Lakeside Jr. High School softball coach Emily Maness is one of four female head coaches at Lakeside. That is unique in local sports.

Cancer survivor learning ways of the Doctor during summer

By Josh Beavers

Jake Chumley is one of ten Webster Parish high school students making it AHEC of a summer as he learns the ropes of becoming a medical professional during training at Minden Medical Center.

However, what separates Jake from his fellow classmates is that the Lakeside incoming senior spent a sizable portion of sophomore and junior years in a Memphis hospital bed receiving treatment for an aggressive form of cancer.

A survivor and a fighter, the former St. Jude patient is now working to become a doctor to help others in need. The first step on that journey is the AHEC program at MMC.

“I’ve been looking to explore my passion,” Jake told the Journal after beginning AHEC training. “And what better field to explore than the one that saves lives?”

AHEC, which stands for Area Health Education Centers program, is a federally funded program established in the United States in 1972 “to improve the supply, distribution, retention and quality of primary care and other health practitioners in medically underserved areas.”

AHEC provides high school students with an unforgettable experience in the medical field. Students job shadow throughout the hospital, physician clinics, a local veterinary clinic, and a chiropractic clinic. Students spend three weeks of their summer learning about medical careers that will prepare them for their future.

The program also provides the students with 100 community service hours as well as a half unit of elective credit on their transcript. MMC will provide the 2021 students with opportunities in areas such as orthopedics, respiratory therapy, women’s health, phlebotomy, surgery and cardiology. They will also earn CPR certification.

Crystal Chumley, Jake’s mother, made one specific comment during Jake’s suture practice, which is pictured along with this story.

“I completely forgot about that part of the AHEC program, and I also had forgotten about his fingertip issues,” she said. “During St Jude-AT (After Treatment), he was tested in his March check-up. He still had nerve damage from chemo in 2-3 fingertips on each hand. He couldn’t feel the fishing line or tie it. It was a problem for him in his high school state fishing tournament back in April, but he said he didn’t have any problem at AHEC.”

She was excited by this development because she said it appears Jake’s nerve damage is correcting. “I’m so proud of how much he’s overcome in just one year,” she told the Journal. “A year ago he was in ICU fighting for his life with fluid around his heart as a side effect from doxorubicin and ANC numbers at zero. And this week he got to serve a rotation in the ICU and become CPR certified to learn how to help save a life.”

The program will continue through July 2.

There are more than 300 AHEC programs nationwide.

ATM robbers leave behind large sum of cash

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Law enforcement officers from all over the state are looking for a group of individuals that are breaking into Automated Teller Machines and stealing the cash.

Minden Police Chief Steve Cropper said last week, the Houston-based ring broke into two ATMs in Minden – Carter Federal Credit Union and Citizens National Bank, both located on Homer Road.

“What we believe they are doing is stealing a vehicle in Houston, driving to their destination, stealing a second vehicle, robbing the ATMs and then using a third vehicle to get away,” Cropper said.

“They are tying chains to a truck to pull off the front of the ATM,” the chief added. “But they left a drawer in the back of the stolen truck – which was from Houston – and it had a large sum of money in it.”

Cropper said the group has hit ATMs across the state, including Bossier and Shreveport.

“We do have some leads,” he said. “But this a big ring from Houston, and they’ve done this all over the state.”

Arrest Report

Dakota W. Capps, no age available, of the 500 block of Dogwood Trail, Minden, was arrested on a warrant for theft. He was transported from Red River Parish to Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center.

Elbert Henderson, aka “Sweet,” no age available, of Heflin, was arrested by Webster Parish Sheriff’s deputies for simple battery.

Maria Palmisano, 38, of Arcadia, was arrested by Bienville Parish deputies for failure to appear. She was transported to the Webster Parish Jail for housing. Her bond is $50,000.

Angela Marie Shepard, 38, of Doyline, was arrested by Webster Parish Sheriff’s deputies on two outstanding warrants. She is being held at BDCC on bonds totaling $50,000.

James A. Shepard, 36, of Doyline, was arrested by WPSO deputies on three outstanding warrants.

Neketorry Rochelle, 36, of Arcadia, was arrested on outstanding warrants for failure to appear. She is currently housed in the Webster Parish Jail.

George B. Puffer, 54, of the 1100 block of Shreveport Rd., Minden, was arrested by Minden Police on three outstanding bench warrants for two counts of theft and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Marty Allen Jones, 31, of Heflin, was arrested by WPSO deputies for violation of probation.

Jules Steven Gilcrease, 38, of Heflin, was arrested by WPSO deputies on warrants that include speeding, license plate lights and no driver’s license.

John R. Nugent 65, of Doyline, was arrested on two active warrants.

Robert Peyton, Moody, 30, of the 300 block of 6th St., NW, Springhill, was arrested on two charges of contempt of court by WPSO deputies.

Joshua Lane Kestle, 39, of Horseshoe Loop, Doyline, was arrested by WPSO deputies on three outstanding warrants, one each for no insurance, driving under suspension and speeding.

David Charles Kock, no age available, of Taylor, Ark., was arrested by Louisiana State Police for driving while intoxicated, speeding, improper lane usage and failure to use a turn signal.

John Harrah, 38, of the 1300 block of Sheppard St., Minden, was arrested for hit and run by Minden Police.

Ronnie Hemphill Jr., 32, of the 600 block of Cadillac St., Minden, was arrested by Minden Police on three active bench warrants.

Conflicting reports result in stabbing arrest

By Bonnie Culverhouse

A she said/she said incident has resulted in stabbing injuries to one of the subjects involved.

Jessica Williams, 31, of the 500 block of Moore St., Minden, was arrested Sunday by Minden Police and charged with simple criminal damage to property and aggravated second-degree battery.

Chief Steve Cropper said Det. Shane Griffith answered the call to a second Moore Street residence.

“Upon his arrival, he made contact with Lt. Chris Hammontree, who told him the victim had been transported to Minden Medical Center, and Williams was at police headquarters,” Cropper said.  “Lt. Hammontree said Williams admitted placing the knife in a drainage ditch behind her residence. It was secured as evidence.”

Cropper said Det. Griffith proceeded to MMC to interview the victim, who said Williams became angry because the victim reportedly gave money to Williams’ sons.

“The victim told the detective that she and Williams had a verbal confrontation that became physical,” said the chief. “She also said some other subjects at the second Moore Street address broke up the two.”

A short time later, Williams reportedly returned to that location and retrieved the victim’s purse from under the carport.

“The victim said Williams removed her cell phone and slammed it on the concrete, destroying it,” Cropper said. “Then she said Williams took her knife from her purse and began stabbing her. Det. Griffith noted stab wounds to the victim’s right bicep, left thigh and abdomen.”

Griffith reportedly returned to police headquarters to interview Williams. Cropper said the suspect told the detective that she became enraged when the victim brought up a sexual battery involving her children.

“Williams stated the two fought and the victim produced the knife and put it on a chair beside her purse,” Cropper said. “Williams stated she retrieved the knife after the victim attached her a second time and began stabbing her. She stated she then ran to her backyard to hide the knife.”

Minden’s Lou Dunbar gleefully enters Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame

NATCHITOCHES – Delayed but not denied, the 2020 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame induction class finally took center stage Saturday night inside the Natchitoches Events Center.

And despite the two years between induction ceremonies, little changed during the 61st induction ceremony.

The 11-person induction class lived up to its billing of a diverse group from different sports and eras, but the themes that permeated their presentations and induction speeches were generally similar.

From family members or coaches or teammates or co-workers – and of course, their Louisiana roots — the feelings of gratitude remained as consistent as they were before the COVID-19 pandemic, which twice delayed the group’s official entry into the state’s sports shrine.

Whether it was the self-professed “city boy” from New Orleans like Kerry Kittles, the Duck Commander himself (Phil Robertson), or the sweet, smooth shooting small-town girl from Bienville Parish (Lady Techster basketball great Angela Turner Johnson), those Louisiana roots run deep.

“Growing up in Shady Grove, it was such a small community, but we had a sense of family,” Turner-Johnson said “If someone did something wrong, our parents knew before we got home because everybody cared about everybody. Mr. Edward Mason, our principal, instilled in us to be the best we can be. He wanted us to not let our humble beginnings get in the way of us dreaming big.”

The members of the long-awaited Class of 2020 dreamed big and delivered even bigger for the Sportsman’s Paradise.

None has had the continuing impact of Minden native “Sweet Lou” Dunbar, an All-American at the University of Houston who became basketball’s Clown Prince with the Harlem Globetrotters. Dunbar led Webster High School to the 1971 Class AA state championship game, was named Louisiana’s “Mr. Basketball” after earning MVP honors in the state All-Star Game, and was a prized recruit for the University of Houston.

Despite his All-American credentials at Houston, Dunbar didn’t explode on the NBA scene. He spurned a substandard contract offer from Philadelphia and spent a couple seasons playing professionally in Switzerland before starting a still-ongoing six-decade career with the Globetrotters as a player and an administrator or coach. He took a break from training camp in Atlanta to make it to Natchitoches for enshrinement.

“I’ve been to over 90 countries,” Dunbar said. “Coming out of Minden, Louisiana, who would have thought that? I met Pope John Paul II, the 75th pope. We gave him a jersey with the No. 75. I’ll touch y’all later. I’ve been anointed.”

Along with his connection to the very top of the Catholic church, Dunbar long had been putting smiles on people’s faces during his times on the court with the Globetrotters.

“He took a cowboy hat from this guy, and the guy ran him around the gym about 20 times,” said current Globetrotter Hi-Lite Bruton. “I was a rookie, and I was laughing so hard. Everyone in the crowd, we were on the floor dying.”
As a player for Webster High and in college, “Sweet Lou” was no joke. He became world famous joking around with basketball’s traveling fun show, the Harlem Globetrotters, and it earned him a permanent place among Louisiana’s greatest sports figures.

PHOTO: A group shot of the 2020 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame induction class. Photo by Chris Reich/NSU, for the Louisiana Sports Writers Association

Public awaits answers on Goex explosion

By Bonnie Culverhouse

As of Monday afternoon, there were still no answers as to why the Goex black power manufacturing plant exploded on the campus of Camp Minden last week.

Louisiana Troop G Public Information Officer Jonathan Odom, said the state’s Hazmat Unit was awaiting a cooling off period before they attempted to access the site.

““At this point, we don’t know what caused it. They (hazmat) were told there were no injuries and all the employees involved were evacuated safely,” Odom said. “There were no additional evacuations necessary.”

The blast took place around mid-morning Friday.

“We received some calls from some residents in the Camp Minden area this morning,” Webster Parish Sheriff Jason Parker said.  “I guess it vibrated their houses.”

When he arrived on the scene, Parker said fire and emergency personnel were already on the scene.

“The fire was completely out around 11:30,” he added. “It’s at least a 24 to 48 hour waiting period before anyone can go in there to determine a cause.”

This is not the first time a Goex building has exploded. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, this is at least the seventh explosion since the company located at Camp Minden in mid-1997.

Authorities release name of deceased accident victim

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Louisiana State Police have revised the ages and confirmed the identity of a boy killed in a utility terrain vehicle accident Sunday afternoon.

The crash claimed the life of 11-year-old Morris Naron on Plain Dealing. His 14-year-old sister was driving, according to authorities.

Webster Parish Sheriff Jason Parker said the one-vehicle accident took place on Bistineau Terrace Road near Grant Circle, south of Doyline.

“There were two people on the side-by-side,” Parker said. “The sister was driving and her brother, the passenger, was ejected off the side-by-side and is deceased.”

Troop G Public Information Officer Jonathan Odom said the boy was not wearing a seatbelt.

He said the initial investigation showed a 2011 Polaris UTV, driven by the female, traveling northbound on Grant Circle.
“As she made a left turn onto Bistineau Terrace Road, she lost control of the vehicle, causing it to overturn,” Odom said. “She was treated for minor injuries at a local hospital.”

Teachers, students working through summer to make up for lost time due to Covid

By Josh Beavers

A quick Google search about learning during the Covid pandemic will return bundles of articles negatively portraying student achievement and setbacks caused by closed campuses and frequent interruptions in learning. And while it would be easy for school officials and parents to hold out their hands in exasperation and ask departments of education to “just pass the kids,” in Webster Parish, administrators, teachers, and central office personnel care deeply about their young people and are taking extra steps to get our kids up to speed following the time lost to Covid.

“Summer Connection is an intervention program designed to provide targeted instruction based on student data,” said Dusty Rangel, who serves as curriculum and instruction supervisor for Webster Parish Schools. “Traditionally, summer school has focused on LEAP 2025 remediation. This program is geared toward addressing specific skill gaps to prepare students for the next academic year.”

Students from all over the parish are working this summer with our teachers at base schools that include Browning Elementary, North Webster High School, Lakeside High School, J. A. Phillips Elementary and Webster Jr. High. Students targeted range in grades from PreK through the eighth grade.

Rangel said Summer Connection is vital to helping Webster Parish students.

“The Covid19 pandemic created a large group of students who are unprepared for their academic future,” she told The Journal. “Our goal is to work toward narrowing some of these gaps. Much effort was put into the selection of staff and curriculum for this program. Our focus is to start where they are and bring them to where they need to be.”

Curt Allen, a 13-year-educator, teaches fifth grade English Language Arts (ELA) at The Doyline High School. He is one of the teachers working tirelessly through his summer break to help students bridge any gaps caused by Covid absences.

“This program is absolutely great for kids who missed a few skills,” Allen told us. “We are helping to close a gap very well. I have been so impressed with the work our content coaches and others have done to find just the right things that these kids needed. They chose just the right groups of kids to receive this instruction. This is important for the kids on the bubble to ‘jump’ to the next level.”

Rangel said what she has seen so far during the Summer Connection program is encouraging and a testament to the quality of young people as well as educators in the Webster Parish School System.

“We are excited about the energy and enthusiasm of the staff and students,” she told us. “Engagement is high on all of our campuses which we hope transfers into high achievement.”

Photo: Webster Parish teacher Shameka Cooper is one of the local educators working through the summer to help students make up lost time due to Covid

MMC/local schools partnering to train doctors of tomorrow

By Josh Beavers

Ten Webster Parish high school students are making it AHEC of a summer as they begin to learn the ropes of becoming a medical professional during training at Minden Medical Center.

“This is going to be a great summer,” Wendy Fields told us on the first day of the program last week.

Fields, who is a science teacher at Minden High School, serves as program coordinator with the school system. AHEC, which stands for Area Health Education Centers program, is a federally funded program established in the United States in 1972 “to improve the supply, distribution, retention and quality of primary care and other health practitioners in medically underserved areas.” That quote comes from the official AHEC homepage and sounds kinda stale. The reality is much more dynamic, Fields said.

“[So far students have] learned important HIPPA information and organ donation,” Fields told The Journal on the second day of training. “The first half of the day was CPR training and after lunch we started our bacteria projects.”

Minden Medical Center personnel including CEO Jim Williams have spoken with the young people about the importance of the program and encouraged them to continue in their medical career pursuits.

“AHEC provides high school students with an unforgettable experience in the medical field,” he told the Journal. “Students job shadow throughout the hospital, physician clinics, a local veterinary clinic, and a chiropractic clinic.”

Williams said students spend three weeks of their summer learning about medical careers that will prepare them for their future.

“The program also provides the students with 100 community service hours as well as a half unit of elective credit on their transcript,” he said. “MMC will provide the 2021 students with opportunities in areas such as orthopedics, respiratory therapy, women’s health, phlebotomy, surgery and cardiology. They will also earn CPR certification.”

Students have also been working through rotations, learning the proper way to take vital signs with machines as well as manually. Students have also practiced suturing on specially designed models.

The program will continue through July 2.

There are more than 300 AHEC programs nationwide.

Students from Minden High, Lakeside, and Glenbrook are participating this year.

Photo: Brianna Davis and Emalyn Anders are two of the ten Webster Parish students enrolled in this year’s AHEC of a Summer program at Minden Medical Center

How Lou Dunbar became “Sweet,” on the road to the Hall of Fame


 Written for the Louisiana Sports Writers Association

Lou Dunbar wasn’t known as “Sweet” while he was raised in Minden, became the state’s best basketball player while at Webster High School, or when he starred from 1973-75 for the University of Houston Cougars.

But after a pair of pathways to the NBA fizzled, a door opened that carried Dunbar to the “Sweet” life as the clown prince of the internationally-beloved Harlem Globetrotters.

His No. 41 jersey is one of only eight ever retired by the ‘Trotters. Since he hung it up, he’s been working in management and coaching one of their four traveling teams, living in Houston in between tours. The team is currently training to resume entertaining kids 8 to 80 all over the world in the near future.

But first, owing primarily to the fame he’s accumulated as a basketball showman, but with his significant competitive hoops credentials as a complement, he’s about to enter the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

Induction activities begin Thursday in Natchitoches, move to Shreveport Friday for the BOM Bowling Bash at All-Star Lanes at midday, then settle in Louisiana’s most historic town Friday night for a free riverbank concert and a Saturday slate brimming with events.

For participation opportunities and more info, visit LaSportsHall.com or call 318-238-4255.

While playing point guard – standing 6-foot-9 — at UH, Dunbar made all the area all-star teams in 1973-75 and was a third-team All-American selection in ’75. The Philadelphia 76ers then made him a fourth-round NBA Draft pick (59th overall).

But Lou never reported to camp; he felt the team never made him a solid contract offer. So he headed to Switzerland to play pro ball for two years (helping his team to one national title).

He returned to Houston and was working at a jewelry store when he got another NBA shot — a Los Angeles summer-league tryout with the Rockets.

Again, it did not take. But a Globetrotters’ scout saw what he liked, made an offer … and it was showtime.

“I just don’t think the NBA was ready for that [the big point guard],” Dunbar said, looking back in a 1992 Shreveport Times story by John James Marshall before a ‘Trotters appearance in Shreveport. “People my size were supposed to play inside. I was a fluke. Now if I had come along a little later …”

In that story, Marshall wrote: The one thing that Dunbar has always had is the personality. That smile. That chatter. “It was probably meant for me,” he says [of his ‘Trotters’ role]. “Performing has always come natural.”

Not too long into his Globetrotters career, his charisma made him an understudy to legendary Meadowlark Lemon, whose playing days were nearing an end. Dunbar had already been tabbed “Sweet Lou” in ‘Trotters’ parlance, something that didn’t surprise his college coach.

“He’s absolutely the greatest kid,” UH’s Guy Lewis said in 1973. “He keeps our team loose. I’m sure he’s the most popular guy on our team. He’s one of the great guys to coach I’ve had and not just because of his ability.”

Sweet Lou, before the Globetrotters’ No. 41 jersey-retirement  ceremony in 2019 in Houston, said he was proud that “my family gets a chance to see it here, and I hope I don’t cry.”

But he did. Just as he remembers crying after Webster High’s only loss in his senior season.

Consider this — he hasn’t had to cry after a Globetrotters’ game. In case you have not heard or noticed, the ‘Trotters never lose.

And they never fail to leave fans entertained. 

“I just want people to remember that when they came to see Lou Dunbar play the game,” he said in that 1992 homecoming, “they left there with a smile on their face.”

FUMC Minden prepares to welcome new pastor

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Fourteen years ago, when Ashley Cockburn married Robert McGuire in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church in Minden, she had no idea that someday she would return as pastor of that church.

“To think I am going to be able to preach in the same sanctuary where that wonderful event happened is an exciting thing,” Rev. Ashley McGuire said.

Having served FUMC in Alexandria since 2016, it is hard for the young family to leave a place they’ve loved and where they are loved.

“At the same time, we are excited to get to know the people in the area closer to where I grew up and where Rob spent a good portion of time – in the Shreveport/Bossier area,” she said.

Rev. McGuire knows she is following Brian Mercer, Fred Wideman and Jack O’Dell. She said she applauds their enthusiasm and commitment to the community.

“I know that he (Brian) was big on reaching out to the community, and that’s a love of mine,” she said. “I love to help people discover a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, and I hope we can continue – not just building the church but building the Kingdom of God together.”

Comparing Brian Mercer and Fred Wideman, she believes she is “kind of in the middle” when it comes to personality.

“I am extremely enthusiastic when it comes to the Lord and God’s people,” she said. “I preach with passion … I don’t say that to boast … I feel it because the Holy Spirit takes over in those moments.”

She doesn’t believe being a female pastor brings many challenges.

“Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve been a female pastor, and I’ve been the first,” she said, with a smile in her voice. “It’s always been a blessing for myself and for my family, and the church has said when we leave every time, that we’ve been a blessing to them, too. So, I’m taking their word on it.”

A graduate of Duke University in 2003 with a degree in Biomedical/ Electrical Engineering and a minor in Chemistry, Rev. McGuire now considers herself a pastor, a wife, a mother, a musician, a scholar, a friend and a lover of sunsets.

In 2005, she answered the call to ministry, beginning her first appointment at Bethel UMC where she spent her seminary years in 2006.

In 2009, she graduated Perkins School of Theology at SMU and spent the next five years serving as Associate Pastor at FUMC Bossier, the church she attended as a child. 

The couple has two sons – Danny (6th grade) and Drew (4th grade). 

“I love music, sunsets, spending time with friends and family, reading, playing the drums and at the guitar, watching a good movie and helping someone discover a deeper relationship with Jesus,” she concluded.

Her first day at FUMC will be July 1, while her first Sunday in the pulpit will be July 4.

Minden football schedule loaded in 2021

By Josh Beavers

There will be zero gimme games this season for the Minden High Crimson Tide.

“Everyone is a challenge,” ninth-year head coach Spencer Heard told the Journal on Monday morning. “But that’s the way you want it. We’ve got to be focused every week because of the level of competition we are facing each game.”

Minden’s schedule:

9/3 at Parkway

9/10 Green Oaks

9/17 North Webster

9/24 at Mansfield

10/1 at Leesville

10/8 North DeSoto*

10/15 Neville*

10/22 at Bastrop*

10/29 Huntington*

11/5 at Franklin Parish*

* denotes district game

The Minden High Crimson Tide enters the 2021 season riding the momentum of a run in the LHSAA 4A playoffs. The Tide compiled a 7-3 record including several heart-stopping last-second victories before running up against perennial power Neville in the third round of the playoffs.

Up first for the Tide is Class 5A Parkway on the road.

“Playing a school in a larger classification gets you in the right frame of mind right off the bat,” Heard said. Minden coaches have seen a little bit of Parkway in action during 7-on-7 events this summer. “They will be a challenge to play,” Heard said.

Green Oaks is next for the Tide. Heard said they present a different set of challenges compared to last year’s second-week opponent Haynesville.

“Green Oaks is wide open whereas Haynesville runs the Wing-T. Both are good programs,” he told the Journal.

The third opponent is 3A North Webster, which is a game that renews the Webster Parish rivalry that goes back to the old Springhill Lumberjack days.

“Coach John Ware does a good job defensively taking away what you are trying to do,” Heard said. “This is always a very physical game. Our kids always play hard, but I think they take it up a notch when North Webster is on the field.”

Up next for the Tide is Mansfield. Heard said this would be a special game because he’ll be coaching against his alma mater. He graduated from Mansfield in 1992 and says it’s a surreal feeling to be coaching on the field where he played so many games.

The next opponent for the Tide will be Leesville who will be looking to avenge their second-round playoff loss to the Tide last season. Following a last-second touchdown to tie the game in regulation, the Tide went on to beat Leesville in overtime.

“They are going to be very motivated to play us,” Heard said. “They are going to have a chip on their shoulder and we are going down there. They will be hyped.”

North DeSoto comes to the Pit the next week. Just like Leesville, the Griffins will be looking to avenge a close loss to the Tide from last season. “Coach [Dennis] Dunn is an excellent coach and will have his team ready and motivated for us,” Heard said. “Last season was a barn burner.” The Tide beat North DeSoto 34-27 in 2020.

The following week Minden will host perennial powerhouse Neville. Minden played the Tigers twice in 2020. Both of those games were defeats for the Tide including bowing out of the playoffs over in Monroe.

“Neville is loaded to the gills,” Heard said. “They were very junior heavy last year and many are picking them to either win or at least make it to the state championship game.”

Minden will make a trip to Morehouse Parish the next week to play Bastrop. “They are a very physical and athletic team,” Heard said. “Last year’s game was hard-fought.” The 2020 game was another one of the last-second victories for the Tide as they beat the Rams 27-26 in overtime.

Rounding out the schedule are Huntington and Franklin Parish. Both of those games were canceled last year due to Covid. Heard said both schools are going in a positive direction and he will be interested to watch them on film as the season nears.

Arrest Report

John David Outlaw, aka Crazy Bones, 36, of the 100 block of Green Park, Doyline, was arrested by Webster Parish Sheriff’s deputies on two warrants.

Meiycko Williams, 26, of Irving, Texas, was arrested by WPSO deputies on two warrants as a fugitive from Texas.

Jeffrey E. Duck, 45, who refused to give his address, was arrested by Dixie Inn Police for possession of Controlled Dangerous Substance Sch. II Methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia. Duck was booked at Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center on bonds totaling $1,500.

Bruce Marshall, 45, of the 200 block of Chrysler St., Minden, was arrested by Minden Police for distribution of CDS Sch I Natural Marijuana. He is incarcerated at BDCC on a bond of $10,000.

Amanda L. Fish, 45, of Shongaloo, was arrested by Springhill Police for possession of Sch. II Methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia and criminal trespassing.

Scott Richardson, 36, of Doyline, was arrested by WPSO deputies for cruelty of a juvenile.

Cody Dewayne Rogers, 31, of Springhill, was arrested by Probation and Parole for a parole violation.

Derrick D. Dickens, no age available, of Monroe, was arrested by WPSO deputies for contempt of court and three counts of resisting arrest with force.

Amanda S. Baxter, 41, of Springhill, was arrested by probation and parole on an active warrant by LSP Troop G for insurance fraud.

Willie L. Miller, 33, of the 700 block of Cherry St.,  Minden, was arrested by WPSO deputies at Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center where he was incarcerated. A BDCC officer noticed a burnt paper smell coming from Miller’s cell. Searching the room, deputies found a suspected synthetic Marijuana cigarette. Miller is charged with possession of Marijuana and introducing contraband into a correctional center.

Santana L. Smith, 22 of Shreveport, was arrested and charged as one of several BDCC inmates in the above incident.

Sylvester T. Coleman, 28, of the 400 block of Front St., Minden, was arrested and charged as one of several BDCC inmates in the above Miller incident.

Craig Knoll, 44, of Bossier City, was arrested and charged as one of several BDCC inmates in the above Miller incident.

Justin Daniel Cook, 26, fo the 200 block of Shane Dr., Minden, was arrested at BDCC for simple assault, domestic abuse battery and resisting an officer.

Search warrant yields drugs, arrest

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Minden Police Officers, serving a search warrant, were able to arrest a local man on multiple charges.

Kenny Wayne France Jr., 35, of the 900 block of Devereaux Street, Minden, was arrested on warrants for aggravated assault with a firearm and domestic abuse battery, as well as possession of Controlled Dangerous Substance Sch I Synthetic Marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of drug paraphernalia and as a fugitive from the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Minden Police Chief Steve Cropper said his officers went to the Devereaux Street address where they knocked on the door with no success.

“Officer made entry into the residence and located France in a bedroom and Brittania Bailey in the bathroom,” Cropper said. “Both were detained.”

During a search of the residence, officers located a small baggie with Synthetic Marijuana and a Winchester box with .22 caliber ammunition and loose tobacco on a table next to a 25 automatic handgun in the bedroom where France was located.

“Also found in the bedroom were two larger bags of Synthetic Marijuana and a baggie of Methamphetamines,” said the chief. “On the floor, they found a copper scrub pad – commonly used for smoking illegal narcotics – and one spent 9MM brass.”

A digital scale was reportedly located on the bed. In the bedroom closet, officers said they found a box of gallon size plastic storage bags, a box of sandwich bags, a loaded magazine with 9MM rounds. A 30-30 lever action Winchester rifle was reportedly located in the kitchen.

“In the front room, officers found three used syringes,” Cropper said. “Multiple holes  from gunshots were located in the bedroom walls.”

Cropper said Bailey was released from the scene, but France was booked at MPD and placed in a holding cell awaiting transport to Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center.

Chase ends in two arrests

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Two South Carolina residents, traveling across north Louisiana at a high rate of speed, are now cooling their jets in Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center.

Webster Parish Sheriff Jason Parker says his office was notified by Bienville Parish about a blue Volvo with a Georgia plate heading east on U.S. Highway 80.

“As it neared Minden, the Volvo turned into a private drive and crashed,” Parker said. “The two occupants – later identified as John B. Long and Keri R. Etheridge, then exited the vehicle and fled on foot.”

Following a search of the area that took several hours, the two suspects were taken into custody, however, neither reportedly admitted to any knowledge of the pursuit.

Once the vehicle was towed, Parker said a search warrant was obtained and approximately 29.5 pills, identified as a Sch. IV narcotic, along with a handwritten check to Long were confiscated.

“Narcotics officers separated Long and Etheridge to interview them,” Parker said. “Long denied any knowledge of any of the event and stated he did not understand what was going on.

“Etheridge stated they rented the vehicle in Alabama from an unknown person and picked it up at a dealership there,” the sheriff continued. “She went on to say she had no knowledge of the prescription medication that was found in a plastic baggie that was closed in a box on the passenger side of the vehicle.”

John B. Long, 35, and Keri R. Etheridge, 34, both of South Carolina, were arrested by WPSO Narcotics officers Lt. Joel Thomas, Dep. Chase Wimberly and Dep. Shawn Jenkins.

They are charged with possession of Sch. IV narcotics with intent to distribute.

Grilling on Main

People’s Choice Winners – Scotty Bryce – East Texas Smokers

Little Grillers – Jackson Cartwright 1st in Junior Division
Colton Jellum 2nd in Junior Division
Ethan Vallee 1st in Senior Division

Cornhole Tournament Winners –
1st Ethan Perot and Kurtis Jones
2nd Jacob White and Trace Francis
3rd Brian Smith and Jaxon Smith
4th Hunter Cavalier and Kevin Cavalier

Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office mourns loss of K9 Cyndi

It is with deep sadness that the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office announces the passing of K9 Cyndi. Cyndi passed away on June 12 surrounded by her beloved family, handler Maj. Robert Hayden and family. She was 14 years old.

Cyndi began her career with the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office in 2008. During her service Cyndi was instrumental in numerous drug seizures and arrests. In her later years Cyndi became the unofficial Office mascot and often participated in demonstrations at schools and community events. Please keep Maj. Hayden, his family and our entire Office in your thoughts and prayers as we mourn the loss of Cyndi.

Mayor to hire Assistant Public Works Director

By Bonnie Culverhouse

The City of Minden Personnel Committee has paved the way for Mayor Terry Gardner to hire an Assistant Public Works Director.

“We are not creating a new position within a department,” Gardner said. “It does not have to go before the council. I will hire the person for that position.”

At the Monday, June 7 meeting of the Minden City Council, members voted 3-2 to deny hiring a Public Works Director. At a prior agenda meeting, District A Councilman Wayne Edwards said he felt a candidate with more experience was necessary.

“I interviewed him and saw his resume, and I am of the opinion you need a much more experienced individual,” Edwards said of candidate Tyler Wallace. “I wish we had an assistant’s position to train him and then move him up to the next level.”

Edwards, District B’s Terika Walker and District C’s Vincen Bradford voted against Wallace, while District D Councilman Michael Roy and District E Councilwoman Pam Bloxom voted in favor.

Gardner said at the Personnel Committee meeting, members voted unanimously in favor of the Assistant Public Works Director position. The committee, which is comprised of city department heads and representatives, has no city council members on it.

“We took a job description that was not funded, and re-titled it Assistant Public Works Director,” Gardner said. “We are posting for that job, so people can apply. I can hire anyone that applies that agrees with the job description.”

Since there is no Public Works Director, Gardner has been acting in that capacity.

“The person who is hired will train under the Public Works Director, who is me,” Gardner said. “I act in that position until we hire one.”

Gardner pointed out that all department heads report directly to the Assistant Public Works Director.

Revising other job descriptions to show they will report to the assistant, was high on the priority list for the Personnel Committee.

 “We changed several job descriptions at the recommendation of our assistant city clerk Michael Fluhr to stay within state laws,” Gardner said.

The committee unanimously adopted the revisions to the job descriptions of Facilities Director, Downtown Development Director, Building Official, Human Resources Manager, Streets and Drainage Manager, Airport Manager, Water Distribution/Wastewater Collection Manager, Water and Wastewater Manager, Water Production Superintendent, Water Distribution/Wastewater Collection Superintendent and Wastewater Superintendent, changing those positions to salary positions, as presented.