Huffman Management to address planning commission February 3 for second time

Grace Estate, 1114 Broadway.

By Bonnie Culverhouse

A second meeting of the Minden Planning Commission that addresses a zoning variance request may have a different outcome from the first.

During the January 6 meeting, a request by Huffman Management, LLC, option holder for the Grace Estate property at 1114 Broadway, was denied the request by a 3-2 vote. Commission members voting against granting the variance were Morris Busby, Joeann McWoodson and Steve Wilson. Those voting in favor were Michael Davis and commission Chairperson Sarah Haynes.

Emily Hunt who, along with her family, lives behind Grace Estate on Pennsylvania Ave., is concerned about the variance.

“The original request was to turn Grace Estate into a bed and breakfast, event center and lounge,” Hunt said. “I attended the last meeting to express my concern about the event center and bar because the current owner has operated it as an event center in the past, and it has been very disturbing.”

Hunt said the outside events, such as weddings, would often get “rowdy, and people would get arrested.”

Live bands late at night also were a problem. The ordinance currently in place states “There shall be no emission of vibrations, noises, odors, dust, smoke, or other pollution detectable outside the dwelling by the sense of normal human beings.”

The newest variance proposal, which will be discussed February 3, reads the same as the last but without the wording “bar” or “lounge” included.

A similar variance was put in place for Grace Estate, however, Building Official Brent Cooley said when the property changes hands, that variance “goes away.”

“In the first request, Huffman wanted to put in a bar or lounge, so he could get it zoned and licensed and cater his own parties and sell alcohol to his patrons,” Cooley said. “That was voted down by the planning commission, but he has revised his request, and he’s not asking to put a bar in there.”

Cooley said Huffman Management, LLC wants a bed and breakfast plus an apartment, so a family member can live on the premises at all times.

“He’s going to remodel the house and use several bedrooms for the bed and breakfast,” Cooley said. “It is the same variance Jimmy Hall (owner of Grace Estate) had.

“Variances are very specific to that person for use of that property,” he continued. “It doesn’t get transferred. So, when he sells the property, it reverts back to single family residential only. Mr. Huffman has to apply for the same variance.”

Hunt said one of her concerns, if Huffman’s request is granted, is that he will add the bar or lounge at a later date.

Cooley said that cannot happen unless a zoning change is approved.

“He will not be able to do that,” Cooley said, “It will still be residential property for all practical purposes, and you cannot get an alcohol license at a residential property.

“It would require a zoning change that would allow some type of commercial use,” he continued. “But that’s not what he’s asking for.”

James Huffman, who lives at Huffman House two doors down from Grace Estate, said this is all about family and community.

“I live in Minden – I’ve lived here for seven years,” Huffman said. “My daughter went to Minden High School.

“Up until this point, there’s always been liquor served at Grace Estate, just not by the establishment,” Huffman, who has been in the hospitality business for close to 40 years, said. “What happened with the average event that had alcohol … guests were allowed to bring in their own alcohol and serve themselves.”

Huffman said when that happens there is one thing that always holds true. “If you allow individuals to bring their own alcohol and serve themselves, no one keeps tabs on them.”

Dram Shop insurance was the purpose behind the alcohol discussion, he said.

“That’s insurance that covers the building, the ownership, the individual who serves the drinks and the individual who leaves intoxicated and covers the person they hit, if they do,” Huffman said. “We wanted to have control over the alcohol and how much people were drinking. It horrifies me to think of a drunk driver leaving the establishment who’s had no one to monitor them.”

It was never about a commercial bar business open to the general public, he pointed out.

“The original thought process was to have less than 10 seats in it. We were going to have four bar stools, a table with a couple of chairs and a loveseat,” he said. “It was to serve guests of the bed and breakfast and guests of guests. At no time was it going to be an open disco bar.”

Huffman said the language in the variance request was easy to remove, “because it was never about making money. Just to be responsible to my community. The community didn’t want it, so we removed it.”

In the past, Grace Estate operated as a restaurant as well as a bed and breakfast, but Huffman has no plans to utilize any of the commercial  equipment to run a restaurant. It will be a bed and breakfast and single family residence, he said.

“I want this to be a positive for our community,” he said.

Minden Planning Commission’s decisions are final, unless an appeal is made to the Minden City Council.

Librarian retires from job but not her passion

Sheila Phenix in her happy place – among the books at the Webster Parish Library.

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Books are her life, helping people is her passion. Now, after 28 years of working at the Webster Parish Library, Sheila Phenix is ready to channel that passion into a new adventure.

“I have other things I want to do,” Phenix said. “I helped a lot of people along the way – school teachers, students.”

Some of her favorite times have been when schools assigned science and social study fairs, as well as papers written about Black History Month.

“Kids would come in, you find out what they need, and you start pulling out the books,” she said. “We’ve had teachers from Minden High School walk their students to the library, and they were teaching the kids how to use reference books. Those were the good old days.”

One of the biggest changes Phenix has seen over the years is technology.

“Everything is on the computer now,” she said. “I miss those days when the kids actually had to come in the library and use books.”

Phenix says she began her career in circulation in 1993, when Director Eddie Hammontree hired her to take her sister’s place temporarily. However, her time with books really started when she was 11 years old as a library helper at J.A. Middle School. Then, as the years passed, she worked in the summers at Jones Memorial Library before replacing her sister with Webster Parish Libraries – a job that eventually became permanent.

Phenix worked at the reference desk before becoming branch manager over 11 employees in 2001.

“What I like to do the most is getting out in the shelves and make sure the books are in order,” she said. “Every once in a while I catch myself doing that, and I have to remind myself to let the staff do their jobs.”

But, again, her passion is helping people.

“This is a ministry, too,” she said. “I tell my staff all the time to smile at people when they come in the door. Encourage them and treat everybody the same. You never know what that person might be going through and maybe they just need to see a friendly face.”

Phenix already knows how she will funnel that passion after she says goodbye to the world of books.

“I plan to take care packages to the nursing homes, because you know some of those people don’t have anyone to visit them,” she said. “I can play BINGO with them, and I can cook meals once a week for the people who are alone.”

Since 2017, Phenix has worked under Savannah Jones’ directorship. But Jones remembers Phenix from her own time as a young person.

“Shelia was the first librarian I ever met as a child,” Jones said. “I grew up coming to the library after school, and I always felt comfortable coming to her for absolutely anything. I believe she has made many others feel the same way. Shelia is genuine, caring, and always puts the needs of others before herself. She is not just an employee; she is a friend and a part of our library family. She will be missed greatly.”

Jones said Phenix is leaving some big shoes to fill.

“You can’t teach her personality,” Jones said. “You have it or you don’t, and this is what Sheila has brought to the table since Day One.”

And Phenix admits she will miss the library, but there is another coming along – a six-year-old child whose grandmother intends to teach her about the library and the wonderful world of books.

A community-wide retirement reception is planned in Phenix’s honor from 2 until 3 p.m. Monday, January 31. The celebration is open to the public and will be held at the library’s main branch on East & West St.

Ponderings from the comfort of the rockin’ chair

We’ve become a big fan of televised editions of our local city council meetings. Even the reruns give cause to grin, especially the votes of a couple of our seat occupiers. As we’ve mentioned numerous times, seat occupiers Williams-Walker and Bradford give us headscratching moments with several votes on what should be easy issues.

Chief among the laughables is the consistency with which this pair says “no” to approving minutes of previous minutes. Not sure, but the current streak could be record-breaking for any public body. Awaiting word from Guinness World Records. Your favorite rocker wondered if a “no” vote also required an explanation. Curiosity got the best of us.

A check with a legal counsel who knows volumes about municipalities and their public bodies uncovered interest worthy info. According to counsel, if there is no ordinance requiring them to articulate their objection to minutes, the answer is generally no. But, our information handler pointed out, office holder should be prepared to undergo media and public scrutiny for their negative vote.

Although counselor did not say so, those office holders should also be ready to get their feathers ruffled by a rockin’ chair curmudgeon. 

Also, in the opinion of this legal eagle, if a council member votes no on such an innocuous matter (a previously used rocker term), people will question why. Remaining silent on the “why” is bad practice, even if it isn’t illegal. Rocker will add, even if it’s not illegal it should be necessary.

But, one has become accustomed to a lack of reason from some on our council. Rocker’s sources still say there’s animosity among certain members (plus their string puller) and Hizzonner the Bumpmeister. Evidence, such as continuous no votes on practically any matter Hizzonner brings to the council, supports that assertion.

Rocker would like to offer another theory, one put forth by Robert J. Hanlon who allegedly submitted this gem to a joke book. Called Hanlon’s Razor, the philosophical pearl postulates, “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” Presented as a joke, it exposes a joke that is increasingly without humor. 

Another ponderable item: Rocker read with interest a piece about Minden city police officers taking some folks along on patrol so people could see exactly what their $13.75 an hour is buying. Individuals who tagged along weren’t named, but our pigeons tell us the bunch included Hizzonner and a pair of city council members.

We’re told these officers performed only their regular duties, and that included patrolling neighborhoods that have been subjected to drive-by shootings and random acts where shots reportedly were fired into the air. One of those drive-by incidents resulted in the death of a three-year-old child.

One might think each of our city leaders would be interested to see exactly what’s going on from the viewpoint of both citizens and cops, but one would have misthought. A source said emails were sent to all five council members. Two responded affirmatively to the invitation; no response from three. 

Apparently three-fifths of our city council isn’t concerned about what’s going on and what can be done to help fight crime here. Apparently two of that group thinks the police are doing great with what they’ve got since that was the number who recently voted against hiring another officer. Fortunately three members agreed one more might make a difference. 

We’re told invitations have gone out to the council more than once. More than once, some did not bother to respond. If memory is correct, when an invitation was offered at a council meeting, one non-attendee didn’t have time; one was silently disinterested; one claimed a ride-along was unnecessary because he had law enforcement experience. A source said that experience reportedly came from watching the Andy Griffith episode when Gomer makes a citizen’s arrest.  Cool.

We wonder just how that apparent lack of concern will look to constituents when November (election day) rolls around. With qualifying for this year’s races scheduled for July, it might behoove some to decide right now if the interest is in moving Minden ahead or stopping this administration in its tracks. 

We’ll know how serious some are about continuing to “serve” the people by the actions of the next few months. If critical issues continue to appear unimportant, the great unwashed might just give someone a reason to ignore an email about a city problem or opportunity. Those emails will only be forwarded to office holders. Not observers.


Upcoming Events

Current until February 19

Minden Recreation Center. Baseball/softball registration. $45 per child.

January 22

9 a.m. Trapper Education Workshop, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Minden field office.

10 a.m. Toddler Paint and Play. Children ages 18 months to 3 years. Webster Parish Library. Minden Main Branch.

January 27

Noon: Shakera Williams, Assistant Nutrition Agent for LSU AgCenter will present a free virtual program on how to make better choices when stocking your pantry, fridge and freezer.

January 28

Senior cap and gown pictures at Lakeside. Contact Mr. Beavers or Ms. Culpepper with questions.

January 31

2 until 3 p.m. Retirement reception for Sheila Phenix at the Webster Parish Library’s main branch on East & West. The public is invited to attend.

February 1, 8, 15, 22

1 p.m. Break Up With Salt by the LSUAg Center, offered at the Webster Parish Library’s main branch. For more information, call 318-371-1371.

February 5

1 p.m. Springhill Parade and Tailgate Party. Springhill Main Street.

5 p.m. Webster Parish Fasching Carnival and Parade. Downtown Minden.

February 10-13

Annual Minden St. Jude Auction at the Minden Civic Center.

* If you have a non-profit event: church, school or community, please email it to* Webster Parish Journal reserves the right to determine if a calendar item is a paid advertisement.

Monthly update from the mayor

Our community just celebrated the most wonderful time of the year, and even though Christmas has come and gone, there is so much to look forward to in Minden. Our annual St. Jude Auction is right around the corner, and we will speak more about that in next month’s update. But now it’s Mardi Gras season, and the biggest parade in town is ready to roll.

The 24th annual Minden Mardi Gras Parade will be held on Saturday, February 5. The parade route will cover a 3.3-mile stretch of Minden streets. We will begin at the intersection of Germantown Road and Elm Street and wind through the Minden Historic District, downtown and back to Germantown Road.

There will be so many family-friendly activities taking place, and we encourage all of Minden to turnout to tailgate, catch some beads, and have a wholesome time with friends. Events like our Mardi Gras parade make Minden unique. It’s one of those times when we can all come together and put aside those things that divide us as we watch children smile and adults laugh and enjoy each other’s company. 

While you watch all the floats roll by also take notice of the positive strides we have made in our downtown. From new restaurants and businesses to new Bed and Breakfast locations and the downtown renovation of the Imperial Hotel, Minden is on the move and making progress even during a pandemic.

As for the pandemic, we want to encourage everyone to attend and have a great time but also to be mindful. While enjoying all the outside activities we should remember to practice social distancing. It is also up to the individual if they would like to wear a mask while shopping or near others. We have noticed a slight increase in Covid cases in the parish, but if we practice good common sense these numbers should level out.

As we have always done, the residents of Minden will work through any difficulties that may come our way. We continue to prove we will not allow the pandemic to keep us down as we make wonderful strides to move Minden forward.

Our parade is geared to celebrate the community. After more than 20 years of growth, Minden’s celebration of Mardi Gras proves that we can grow so long as we continue to come together to celebrate those things that unite us rather than those that divide us.

Saying ‘I do?’ Let us help get out the word

The Webster Parish Journal “WPJ” publishes paid engagement and wedding announcements, as well as anniversaries, for couples who reside in the parish, who have relatives in the parish or who are getting married in the parish. (Fees apply.)

This move by the Journal allows couples to showcase their announcement. 

Information for engagement announcements include: 

Digital photograph of the couple 

The couple’s names 

The couple’s hometowns 

High school and/or college of the couple 

Parents’ names and/or grandparents’ names 

Ties to the parish 

Wedding time, date, and place 

An interesting fact about the couple 

Information for the wedding announcements include: 

Digital photograph of the couple 

The couple’s names 

The couple’s hometowns 

High school and/or college of the couple 

Parents’ names and/or grandparents’ names 



Ties to the parish 

Wedding time, date, and place 

For engagement and wedding announcement fees and/or to submit information for publication, please email 

The cops who didn’t come home

While many Americans celebrated the holidays with their families in the final week of 2021, law enforcement kept working. And, tragically, four officers didn’t make it home to their loved ones that week. They were murdered while doing their job keeping others safe.

Baltimore Police Officer Keona Holley, ambushed while alone in her car, died on Christmas Eve. Five days later in Illinois, Wayne County Sheriff’s Deputy Sean Riley was killed during a call for assistance. On Dec. 30, also in Illinois, Bradley Police Department Sgt. Marlene Rittmanic was shot while attempting to locate the owner of dogs left in a car. And on New Year’s Eve, Cleveland Police Officer Shane Bartek was killed in an attempted carjacking.

These four murders brought the total number of officers feloniously killed in the line of duty in 2021 to 73, the highest annual number since the 9/11 attacks. That’s the equivalent of one officer murdered every five days. In a year when homicides and violent crime reached distressing levels, this 20-year high hasn’t received the attention it deserves.

Especially troubling is that a record number of officers killed—nearly half—had no engagement with their assailant before the attack. Each story is heartbreaking: A 30-year Florida deputy murdered one shift shy of retirement; an officer ambushed on his first day on the job, leaving behind a wife and 6-month-old son; a combat veteran and his police dog killed while serving together.

At the Federal Bureau of Investigation, we experienced loss in 2021, too. Special Agents Laura Schwartzenberger and Daniel Alfin were murdered while doing the difficult job investigating crimes against children. FBI Task Force Officer Greg Ferency of the Terre Haute, Ind., Police Department was ambushed and killed outside an FBI office.

When I started as FBI director, I made it my practice to call the chief or sheriff of every officer intentionally killed in the line of duty. I have now made more than 200 such calls. Each conversation reminds me that behind the uniform, the badge, and, yes, sometimes the flashing lights in your rearview mirror, there are real people. With each call, I think about the families and friends who lost someone they loved, the children who will grow up without a parent, and the communities deprived of a public servant.

We owe it to them to redouble our efforts to take the most violent offenders off the streets and to make sure officers have the resources, equipment and training they need to do their jobs safely. Even more, we need to ensure the brave men and women know that the communities they serve have their backs.

Every day, officers willingly put themselves at risk not knowing what dangerous situation or traumatic event they might encounter. I won’t pretend every person who carries a badge is beyond reproach, but the overwhelming majority do the job with the professionalism and commitment to equal justice citizens rightly expect.

I meet frequently with chiefs and sheriffs across the country, and they are concerned about morale and the challenges of recruiting the next generation of officers. They understand that trust and transparency are vital to safety, and they are committed to finding ways to improve interactions. And while respect must be earned, if we are going to recruit and retain the kind of people willing to put their lives on the line to protect others, we have to show that we value their sacrifices.

Civic and business leaders, government officials and responsible citizens need to consider how we talk about engaging with law enforcement. When police are miscast as lacking humanity—devoid of empathy and compassion—everyone suffers. Departments lose good officers who are hard to replace, and communities are less safe.

As we reflect on 2021, let’s honor the memories of those who lost their lives protecting others. Let’s commit to making communities safer, finding ways to improve interactions between law enforcement and those they serve, holding everyone to the high standards befitting men and women in uniform, and valuing those who do their jobs with honor.

(Mr. Wray is FBI director.)

Arrest Reports

January 14

Cedric DeWayne Taylor, 35, of the 500 block of Art Camp Rd., Heflin, was arrested by Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office for aggravated assault.

January 15

Rodney O. Stinson, 56, of the 400 block of Service Rd., Springhill, was arrested by Springhill Police for possession of Methamphetamine and speeding.

Tamara Renee Woodard, 49, of the 100 block of White Trail, Doyline, was arrested by Doyline Police for driving while intoxicated (first offense) and running a stop sign.

Courtney Rose Hanvy, 33, of the 27,000 block of Hwy. 157, Shongaloo, was arrested by WPSO on an outstanding bench warrant for driving under suspension and speeding.

Teyomas F. Hawkins, 40, of the 900 block of Dogwood Dr., Minden, was arrested by WPSO on an outstanding bench warrant for failure to appear.

January 16

Timothy Grim, 52, of the 100 block of Eagle Bend, Shreveport, was arrested by Minden Police for public intimidation.

January 17

Christopher Richard, 49, of the 1300 block of Shamrock St., Bossier City, was arrested by WPSO on warrants from Sibley Police for drug paraphernalia and reckless operation of a motor vehicle.

Alex Tarenza Odom, 35, of the 700 block of Plum St., Minden, was arrested by WPSO on a warrant for criminal neglect of family.

January 18

Jason Lewis Warner, 49, of the 6600 block of Hwy. 159, Minden, was arrested by Louisiana State Police as a fugitive from Caddo Parish, driving under suspension and crossing center line. Other charges by WPSO include careless operation of a motor vehicle, unregistered vehicle and improper plates.

Justin H. McCaleb, 27, of the 100 block of Katie Lane, Minden, was arrested by Minden Police on 3 active bench warrants.

January 19

Ashley Everleen Standokes, 22, of the 200 block of Lewis Loop, Cotton Valley, was arrested by Cotton Valley Police on a warrant for theft.

Eric Hedgeman, 43, of the 300 block of Green Rd., Homer, was arrested by WPSO for domestic abuse with child endangerment, remaining after forbidden and simple criminal damage to property.

Webster Parish Journal publishes obituaries

When the unthinkable happens, and we lose a loved one, everyone wants the support that comes from contact with friends and family.

What would you like the world to know about your loved one? We publish obituaries at the Webster Parish Journal. Ask your funeral director for information, but if you wish, contact us at .

There is a fee of $80 for unlimited words with a photo, and payment is due before the obituary runs. Funeral announcements (date of birth and death, as well as funeral arrangements) are free.

Again, check with your funeral director as you are making arrangements, or contact us. We hope you don’t need us, but we are here for you.

Notice of Death – January 19, 2022 

Mark Fletcher

August 4, 1952 – December 3, 2021

Memorial Service: 2 p.m. Saturday, January 22, 2022, Haughton United Methodist Church, 215 E. McKinley Ave., Haughton.

Leland Sparrow Adams Jr.

March 10, 1931 – January 12, 2022

Memorial Gathering: 4 until 6 p.m. Thursday, January 20, 2022, at Rose-Neath Funeral Home, 2201 Airline Drive, Bossier City

Hervey Carl Shewmake

December 11, 1930 – January 15, 2022

Graveside Service: 10 a.m. Thursday, January 20, 2022 at Northwest Louisiana Veterans Cemetery, 7970 Mike Clark Rd., Keithville

Royal Family Kids of Minden – A mission of love

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Royal Family Kids Camp of Minden is a mission – a mission for the director, a mission for the counselors, a mission for the campers – a mission of love.

In an undisclosed area near Minden since 2016, the week-long annual camp for foster kids ages 6-12 gives them something most have never experienced.

“I tell people it’s a mission field in our own backyard,” Volunteer Director Sandra Samuel said.

The kids register in town and then travel by bus to the camp.

“The first year I met the bus, I was overwhelmed,” Samuel said. “I know what these kids have been through, and I know what they are about to get, and I know it’s going to change their lives.”

All the kids receive gifts, and all of the gifts are meaningful, she said.

“The blanket is for security, the duffle bag is because most kids bring their things in trash bag,” she said. “Then they get a T-shirt when they arrive and another when they leave. The water bottle is just because we want them to stay hydrated.”

Most importantly, each receives a Bible because this is a faith-based initiative. One of the gift items includes a lesson book to ensure all campers learn about Jesus Christ. 

Each day is scheduled to have time learning about Christ, then adventures with a volunteer who takes the kids fishing, swimming, treats and snacks. There are wood-working classes, and new this year – a banquet.

“We are looking for dresses for the girls – we have a few,” Samuel said. “And we are trying to figure out a way to rent tuxes for the boys. I think this will be so special – an opportunity for them to dress up, probably for the first time in their lives.”

Samuel said there must be one volunteer counselor per two children. The youngest age is 16, but there’s no ceiling on the age limit. She said there are some they call Grandma and Grandpa.

Counselors are all volunteers, but they never pay – nor do families of any of the children.

“It’s a life-changing experience for the counselors, too,” Samuel said. “Some of them have moved away from the area, yet still come back just for this.”

Samuel said cost is around $700 per person, which includes insurance, food and lodging, entertainment and all the gift items for the kids.

“While removing a child from abuse and placing them in a safe environment may be necessary, it is hardly ever easy on a child – most times it is very painful,” Samuel said. “Can you just imagine what this one week can do for a child?”

All potential volunteers are required to fill out an application, background check, attend an interview and take 12 hours of training.

Donations and volunteers are vital. There are volunteer applications on the camp’s Facebook page.

To donate, please write your check to Minden Royal Family Kids Camp, 301 Pennsylvania Ave., Minden, LA 71055.

The Tree 

There is a tree that you can see in all of its beauty as you sit at the Broken Bean coffee shop looking toward the Methodist church. I am not sure how old it is, but it has been there awhile. There is just something about it that speaks to my heart. It reminds me of the trees in the Garden of Eden. It reminds me of Psalm 1:3 and Jeremiah 17:8 about being planted by streams of water and bearing fruit. It reminds me of the Scripture in Ephesians 3 that speaks to us about being rooted and grounded in love. It reminds of God as the Gardner, Jesus, the True Vine, and we are the branches. 

As I sat on one of the benches recently, watching the traffic go by, listening to the sounds around me, and feeling peaceful and refreshed under the covering of the branches, I picked up my journal and these words just fell on the page. 

The beautiful tree stands tall and deeply rooted.
Its branches reach out wide and shade the area below. 

The benches under the tree offer a place to rest.
The tree seems to invite you to come and sit awhile. 

O, what this tree has witnessed.
The stories it would have to share.
Those who came seeking refuge and rest.
They came sharing their laughter, tears, prayers, and presence. The rain, the sunshine, the storms and at times even snow. The warm and cold of the seasons.
It has seen it all. It has felt it all. 

The tree is much like our God, witnessing everything in our lives. He offers a place of quiet and stillness.
His arms stretch wide and deep with His love, grace, and mercy. In His presence we find rest and refreshment for our weary souls. In His presence we are nourished and renewed. 

He invites us to come and share our laughter, tears, joys, and prayers.
He sees it all and feels it all.
O, the stories God shares with us and we share with Him.
The journey He invites us to travel with Him now and forevermore into eternity. A beautiful tree; a beautiful life; our beautiful God. 

Your fellow sojourner, Jennifer Thomas 

All washed up

We’ve all been there, up Mildew Creek without a paddle.

Such is life when your clothes-washing machine goes 10 toes up.

It didn’t really die as much as it went on strike or was just terrible at its job. If my old clothes-washing machine were a football team, it would be the Dallas Cowboys, a mind-numbing imposter.

We inherited a “water and energy efficient” washing machine; it came with the house, same as the den and kitchen sink. And it looked like a washing machine, a little white cube with knobs and buttons and a big bin.

True to its branding, it was very efficient with water — but only because it hardly used any. And if you really think about it, water is one of the main things you need to wash clothes properly. So, the trouble was, this “pretend washer” wasn’t efficient at all in getting clothes clean. You know you’re in trouble when the clothes smell worse after they’re washed than before.

You know how a wet dog smells? There’s a charm to that smell if it’s on your dog from time to time. The smell loses its sentimentality if it’s coming from your blouse or blue jeans.

Ode to a Dried-up Washer

 When your washing machine

Is all washed up,

It’s a dirty shame.

You’re out of luck

And in deep poo.

(You smell bad too.)

Even your friends and family want little to do with you if it’s 9 a.m., you’re working a desk job and you smell like old eggs or last week’s trash.

“Honey, something stinks in here.”

“Yeah, sorry; I just washed a load of clothes.”

Something’s rotten in Denmark. Not optimal.

People could never have had this type of problem before the invention of clothes. You wore leaves. They got dirty or smelly, you threw them in the compost pile and picked yourself some new leaves, either in the yard or off the rack at The Leaves Store — “Got something in a Fig or a Palm? Size 16? Petite?”

But then some nitwit invented the snap brim hat, which led to cottage industries of neckties, pants, dresses, ascots, two-tone shoes and eventually, the clothes-washing machine.

Sigh … It was a simpler time.

It’s been a while since I’ve bought an appliance. Maybe a toaster 10 years ago. This was different. This was Big Game Hunting, a safari.

Yet it proved as easy as studying online, then showing the nice man at the store a picture. He hit F4 and maybe a Shift, typed in the model number, looked up and said, “There’s one on the truck that just pulled up outside.”

If you ain’t got timing, you ain’t got nothin’.

Quick as he could say “Twelve months same as cash,” the deal was done. The delivery guys showed up two days later, unhooked the old and hooked up the new, did it all in maybe eight minutes, could not have been nicer and hauled my old “washer that wasn’t really a washer” away for just $30.

“You’ll take this heavy piece of junk away from my house for just 30 bucks? When otherwise I’d have to borrow a friend and a truck and lift it and haul it myself? Glory!”

Would have paid twice that. Even three times, and I’m broke as that machine was.

For another $10, he said I could buy a “nice” plot in the Appliance Cemetery, between a busted coffee pot and a Frigidaire and he’d bury her there. I told him I was good, to dump it in a ditch if he wanted. I’m a sentimental softie, but not in this case.

We are so spoiled, all of us. Used to, clothes-washing machines never broke down. Back then they were called “our grandmothers,” have a wash tub and washboard will travel.

Laundromats took off after World War II — talk about a lot of laundry to do — and in-house washing machines became less bulky and more affordable and, thankfully, ran on electricity and not on steam. Now they’re common as a ketchup or coffee stain.

Thank goodness for that. Especially when they actually work. I don’t look any better since getting a new washer, but I smell fresh as $736.06, plus tax.

Contact Teddy at

Flowers to speak at noon Lions Club meeting 

Dr. Gayle Flowers will serve as guest speaker for the Thursday, January 20 noon meeting of the Minden Lions Club. Her topic will be, “Building the Economy through Government Contracting.” 

Dr. Flowers is the Director of the Northwest Louisiana Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), which is a federally-funded program serving 10 northwest Louisiana parishes. PTAC provides counseling, education and connections to help businesses secure federal, state and local government contracts, which builds the economy and allows businesses to create and retain jobs. 

Before PTAC, Dr. Flowers served five years as the Vice Chancellor for Economic and Workforce Development at Bossier Parish Community College. She led the college’s mission to provide customized and relevant education and training to individuals and companies. Previous work experience includes Director of Career, Adult and Alternative Education for Caddo Parish Public Schools and Principal of the nationally recognized Caddo Career and Technology Center.  

The success of Northwest Louisiana’s workforce and economy has always been at the center of Dr. Flowers’ career; however, her contributions extend beyond her employment. She has invested her knowledge and leadership by serving on many local, state and national boards. Dr. Flowers earned her three degrees from LSU-Shreveport. Worth noting is that she was the first graduate to earn LSUS’ Doctorate in Leadership. 

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

It’s good work if you can get a hobby

By Robert St. John

My 45-year working career has been varied and full. The first official paying job I held (after three years of mowing lawns) was in the summer of my 15th year when I worked as a janitor at my school stripping and waxing floors. That fall I started working full time as a disc jockey at a radio station. I also spun records at frat parties, high school dances and in a local discotheque. After flunking out of college, I started working in restaurants and fell in love with the industry. I loved it so much that I took a job managing one restaurant during the day and waiting tables at another at night. I couldn’t get enough.

My dictionary defines the verb “work,” this way— “…be engaged in physical or mental activity to achieve a goal.” But it’s never felt like work.

I eventually returned to college to finish my degree in Hospitality Management, though I still worked full-time waiting tables. Every spare moment I was in the library reading restaurant trade magazines or staying up until early in the morning designing floorplans, kitchens and menus. I was “eat up” with the restaurant biz (pun intended).

In 1987, I borrowed $25,000 and opened the first restaurant. In the early days I worked as a chef behind the line, after four years I moved to the front of the house and eventually into the restaurant office. Since then, my work career has branched out from restaurant and bar ownership to newspaper columnist, book author, tour leader, television host, television producer, documentary film producer and the founder of a couple of non-profits.

Though, as of today, I can now add theater owner and bowling alley owner to my jack-of-a-few-trades-and-master-of-none list. I have been a fan of movies all my life and — conservatively — have spent more than 10,000 hours sitting in a movie theater watching films over the course of my 60 years. During that time, there are probably periods in my youth when I dreamed of owning a movie theater, but I never really thought that would happen.

Many would scoff at that many hours over the course of six decades spent in a dark theater. My friends would probably never vocalize it, but I am sure many feel that such a practice is a total waste of time. But I don’t really hunt. I rarely fish, and I never play golf. I have friends who have spent way more time on golf courses than I have in movie theaters.

Unlike the time I have spent in movie theaters, I have rarely bowled. I certainly never expected to be the owner of a bowling alley, yet here I am. Also, in addition to the five restaurants and two bars we currently own, we’re about to add another restaurant and bar to the list.

There is no doubt that I have been helped in a major way along the course of this hodgepodge of a career. Sometimes it was a friend or mentor with a loan, other times it was good timing, many times it was providence. I am grateful for all of it.

Work is my pastime. Work is my fun. Someone once said, “When passion meets work, work becomes a hobby.” My knee-jerk reaction to that quote was to state that there was probably a time in my life when work seemed like work. Though I think I would have to go all the way back to mowing yards and waxing floors. Actually, there were two summers in which I worked on a landscape crew laying sod and on a construction crew installing insulation in attics. That was work. Hard work. So technically, I haven’t really “worked” since the summer of 1982.

The new restaurant, bar, bowling alley and theater are all set to open in Jackson this week. Opening a restaurant is stressful. The first two weeks are filled with thousands of moving parts, any of which can go wrong at any minute. The key to success in this business is management, management, management, whether it’s during a honeymoon period, or 34 years into a restaurant’s run. As stressful as openings are, they are also an opportunity to see a dream come true. When a restaurant, or bar, or theater, or bowling alley for that matter, opens, it’s a vision actualized and brought to life.

And it’s the vison of dozens of people. And it’s the hard work of hundreds of people. I’m typically the guy out front doing the dog-and-pony show, but there are scores of others making the wheels turn.

It’s funny how life takes us in directions we never thought we would head once we let go and let life happen. I have made thousands of mistakes in my life, maybe tens of thousands. Though one of the things I feel I have gotten right is that I have been open to opportunity when it came knocking.

When I speak to students, I always try to reserve most of the time to field questions. I am almost always asked some form of the question, “What is the key to success?” After 40 years in this business and given some time and space with which to reflect, it seems the key to success in business — at least in my case — is simple: Support your co-workers. Do everything you can to delight your guests/customers/clients. Find every opportunity to say, “Yes.” Serve your community. Don’t screw anyone over. Take less of a deal if you must, but make the deal. Foster others’ successes. Surround yourself with people who are smarter and more talented, set the course, steer the ship, get out of their way and give credit where credit is due. Finally, find something you’re passionate about and make it your career.

Oh, and one last thing, keep moving forward, learn from past mistakes, but don’t dwell on them. I like to sum that concept up in one word…


Hoisin Glazed Chicken Wings

1 gallon water

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup sugar

2 Tbl kosher salt

1 1/2 Tbl crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 cup white vinegar

2 Tbl fresh ginger, minced

3# fresh chicken wings

2-7 ounce jars hoisin sauce

1/4  cups sugar

1/4 cup water

1 Tbl fresh jalapenos, small dice

2 tsp minced garlic

1 Tbl fresh lime juice

1 Tbl Hot sauce

You can grill the wings and save this step. In a large stock pot, combine the water, soy sauce, sugar, salt, red pepper flakes, vinegar and ginger. Bring this mixture to a simmer and allow it to cook for 10 minutes. Place the chicken wings into the simmering mixture. Once the water returns to simmer, cook the wings for 20 minutes.

Using a large colander, strain and discard the liquid. Allow the chicken wings to cool in the refrigerator for one hour. This step may be done 1-2 days in advance.

Preheat oven to 250

Line a large baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the hoisin sauce, sugar, water, jalapeños, garlic, lime juice and hot sauce. Remove half of this mixture for later use.

Toss the pre-cooked wings in the mixing bowl, coating them well with the sauce. Arrange them on the foil lined baking sheet and cover them completely with another sheet of aluminum foil. Bake for 50 minutes. Remove the foil and place the remaining sauce in to a large mixing bowl. Gently place the wings in the bowl, and toss them with the sauce. Return the wings to the baking sheet. Turn the oven up to 275 and return the wings to the oven, uncovered. Bake for 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and serve.

Yield: Eight to ten servings

(Robert St. John is a chef, restaurateur and cookbook author.)


Break up with Salt

Do you have Hypertension or have been told you have High Blood Pressure?  Are you not sure exactly what you should eat or what in your diet affects your blood pressure?  Break up With Salt, a program to help adults at risk or with Hypertension/High Blood Pressure learn about managing their condition through goal setting, diet, label reading, portion control and cooking. The four-part educational series will be held on February 1, 8, 15, and 22 from 1 until 2:30 p.m. at the Minden Main Branch Library located at 521 East and West Street in Minden. The program should last 1-1/2 hours each session.

The program will be conducted by Shakera Williams, MPH, Assistant Extension Nutrition Agent, with the LSU AgCenter. Participants will receive all information discussed at each class and the opportunity to sample healthy recipes. This program is not intended to provide individual prescriptions for Hypertension/Cardiovascular disease, and it is not intended to replace Medical Nutrition Therapy by a Registered Dietitian.

This program is open to the public and there is a cost to attend the series. There are only 10 spots available. You should attend all four classes to get all the information presented as each class is a different topic. Please call 318-371-1371 for more information or to sign up please use the link here  to register by Tuesday, January 25.

February 1 – Session 1 – Detect, Correct and Protect  

February 8 – Session 2 – DASH Diet and Label Reading

February 15 – Session 3 – Grocery Store Tour, Location, TBA

February 22  – Session 4 – Mastering Meals with Flavor and Less Sodium

Consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the LSU AgCenter will make reasonable accommodations to enable persons with disabilities to engage in programs offered. Should you need an ADA accommodation, please contact Shakera Williams at 318 – 371- 1371 no later than 1 week before your accommodation is needed.

Traffic stop nets stolen firearm 

By Bonnie Culverhouse

A routine traffic stop netted Minden Police a local man on a firearm’s charge.

Tadrion Smith, 20, of the 900 block of Sibley Road, Minden, was arrested for illegal possession of a stolen firearm and no brake lights.

Police Chief Steve Cropper said OFC. Chris Cayer was patrolling East Street when he saw a red GMC Sierra at a stop sign.

“The vehicle did not have functioning brake lights,” Cropper said. “The officer initiated a traffic stop as the vehicle pulled away from the stop sign. It turned right onto Columbia Street and stopped.”

OFC. Cayer reportedly made contact with the driver, Tadrion Smith. There was a female subject in the passenger seat and an infant child in the back seat.

“The officer said he could smell a strong odor of possible Marijuana coming from the vehicle,” said the chief. “As Lt. Chris Hammontree arrived on scene, OFC. Cayer had Smith step to the front of his patrol unit. Smith stated he understood his rights, and the officer asked if he had any controlled dangerous substances or firearms in the vehicle.”

Smith reportedly said his sister’s gun was under the backseat and gave consent to search the vehicle.

“Lt. Hammontree secured the firearm and ran it through dispatch,” Cropper said. “Dispatch confirmed the firearm was stolen. Smith was arrested. Further search of the vehicle showed no controlled dangerous substances nor any other firearms.”

The vehicle was reportedly turned over to the registered owner, and Smith was transported to a holding cell at Minden Police Department.

“The firearm a Glock 22, was stolen from Minden,” said the chief. “Det. Shane Griffith placed a hold on Smith, and the firearm was logged and placed into evidence.”

Upcoming Events

Current until February 19

Minden Recreation Center. Baseball/softball registration. $45 per child.

January 22

9 a.m. Trapper Education Workshop, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Minden field office.

10 a.m. Toddler Paint and Play. Children ages 18 months to 3 years. Webster Parish Library. Minden Main Branch.

January 27

Noon: Shakera Williams, Assistant Nutrition Agent for LSU AgCenter will present a free virtual program on how to make better choices when stocking your pantry, fridge and freezer.

January 28

Senior cap and gown pictures at Lakeside. Contact Mr. Beavers or Ms. Culpepper with questions.

January 31

2 until 3 p.m. Retirement reception for Sheila Phenix at the Webster Parish Library’s main branch on East & West. The public is invited to attend.

February 1, 8, 15, 22

1 p.m. Break Up With Salt by the LSUAg Center, offered at the Webster Parish Library’s main branch. For more information, call 318-371-1371.

February 5

1 p.m. Springhill Parade and Tailgate Party. Springhill Main Street.

5 p.m. Webster Parish Fasching Carnival and Parade. Downtown Minden.

* If you have a non-profit event: church, school or community, please email it to* Webster Parish Journal reserves the right to determine if a calendar item is a paid advertisement.

The forgotten impact of FLW

If there’s one thing that’s becoming apparent, it’s the impact the FLW (Forest L. Wood, founder of Ranger Boats) organization had on the bass fishing landscape. Today we’ll look at what made FLW so special and helped lay the ground swelling that occurred during the 1990’s up till now. FLW made bass fishing more popular than ever before with their approach and commitment to sponsors who were not really associated with the outdoors. Let’s first start with what it was like to fish tournaments in the 1990’s. 

Tournaments back then were events, or usually benefits, for someone or something. Most of these were annual events that drew anywhere from 40 to 60 boats. There were only a couple of high-level fishing circuits like B.A.S.S. and the Red Man Tournament Trail (which was one step below B.A.S.S.). Available too, were Fishers of Men, and a few American Bass Angler (ABA) events. Another pro/am circuit, known as Angler’s Choice, was also a popular tour and even had a team trail you could follow. Then there was the FLW tournament trail that was making headway and growing in popularity at a rapid rate. 

Of all these organizations I’ve mentioned, FLW was the one that changed the landscape in the late 90’s and has led us to where we are today. For years, B.A.S.S. (The Bassmaster Elite Series) was, and still is, THE place and the goal of every angler in America.  They set the standard that all tournament organizations wanted to be and FLW opened the door and gave anglers another option to pursue their dreams of fishing professionally. FLW took sponsors to a whole other level with boat and truck wraps of major sponsors like Wal-Mart, Land of Lakes, Castrol Oil, Tide, M&M’s, Kellogg’s Cereal, and Folgers Coffee, to name a few. They brought in sponsors that were not necessarily associated with the outdoors and promoted them the same way NASCAR did it. 

This was probably the best thing that ever happened for professional bass fishing! FLW decided to attack and establish a grass roots following by setting up a progression of tournament trails. That ladder started with the BFL’s (Bass Fishing League), a series of one-day events all across the country, designed as pro/am events for the working man or weekend warrior. If you did well on that level, you could then advance to fish a multi-day tournament trail called the Everstart Series which was similar to the B.A.S.S. Open Series.  Then after this, if you were really good, there was the FLW Series, which was one step below fishing as a full-time pro. Success in that series would lead anglers to the pinnacle of the organization…. the FLW Tour. 

With their approach, FLW had created an avenue for amateur anglers to pursue their dreams of fishing as a professional. The awesome boat and truck wraps drew visual attention and made it cool to be a bass angler.  It invigorated young boys and girls to want to be a pro angler. FLW then started the College Series that caught fire nationwide as colleges and universities created fishing teams and some even offered scholarships. Then they went even further and started high school bass fishing which has gone viral and insured that there will be future generations to pursue a career as a professional bass fisherman.

The sad part of all of this is that FLW no longer exists, as Major League Fishing (MLF) purchased FLW in 2020. This was sad to see, as I personally had fished several levels with FLW and enjoyed all of them. The downfall of FLW was poor financial management. Anglers also started to figure out the payback for their events was not up to par with other organizations. Entry fees went up and the payback for certain tournaments was less than 60 percent. MLF is trying to re-establish these tours once again, but the payback is still an issue, especially for the BFL tour which has the lowest payback of any tournament trail of this level. Hopefully, the powers that be at MLF will recognize this and correct it because we will always need at least two major fishing organizations that give anglers an option. Remember, competition between organizations makes everything better for all anglers. Till next time, good luck, good fishing and don’t forget to set the hook!!!

 Steve Graf      

Guardian Angels

The belief in guardian angels goes back thousands of years.  The Bible mentions several instances in which God sent angels to protect or deliver people from danger.  Guardian angels are believed to be able to take on any form and can embody any person at any time.  Believers contend that guardian angels are all around us although they are usually unaware that they are guardian angels.    

On December 9, 2021, Muskogee, Oklahoma had at least two known cases where a guardian angel stepped in to help.  It happened first at an elementary school.  A seventh-grade boy was standing by a water fountain holding a water bottle.  Wishing to refill his bottle, the boy pushed the button to turn the water on while he held the bottle in his other hand.  Rather than releasing the button to remove the lid, he removed the cap with his teeth.  When he inhaled, the bottle cap slid down and lodged in his throat.  In a panic, he stumbled into the nearest classroom and mouthed the words, “I’m choking.  I’m choking.”  

It could have been his last breath, but his guardian angel was waiting.  The guardian angel sprang into action as if he were placed in the moment for that very purpose.  He got behind the seventh-grader and performed the Heimlich Maneuver in a manner that would have impressed most doctors.  His only experience with the life-saving technique was what he had seen on YouTube.  With a couple of thrusts, the bottle cap shot out of the panic-stricken boy’s mouth.  The boy took several deep breaths and thanked his guardian angel.  Rather than glorifying the fact that he had saved someone’s life, he humbly returned to what he had been doing before the choking boy staggered into his classroom. 


Later that day, a fire broke out in the back of a house in Muskogee.  As if by divine providence, a guardian angel was on his way to church with a family member when he noticed smoke and flames coming from the house.  He ran from the car toward the home.  He knocked on the door and yelled to those inside that the house was on fire.  Several people ran from the home while the guardian angel ran into the house.  A disabled woman who required a walker to get around, slowly made her way toward the front of the house.  Unfortunately, the fire was spreading more quickly than she could move.  She was gasping for breath and struggling to walk.  The guardian ran to her, put his arms around her, and quickly helped her escape from the flames.  The guardian angel remained completely calm through the whole ordeal, which could have claimed his life as well.  Had he been a few seconds later, the woman probably would have been consumed by the flames.  Once he made sure the woman was safe, he returned to his car and continued on to church.  

On a single December day in Muskogee, Oklahoma, the same guardian angel saved the lives of a choking boy and a disabled woman from a house fire.  People referred to him as a hero, but he just replied that “it was the right thing to do.”  For his life-saving deeds, the Muskogee Police Department and Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office named him an honorary member of their forces.  He was also recognized by the Muskogee Public Schools Board of Education during their December board meeting.  ‘I don’t want everyone to pay attention to me,” he said.  “I kind of did what I was supposed to do.”  This guardian angel was Davyon Johnson, an 11-year-old boy. 


1.  Medina, Eduardo. “A 6th Grader Saves the Lives of Two People On the Same Day.” The New York Times. December 26, 2021.

2.  Crane, Emily. “11-year-old Boy Saves Choking Classmate, Woman from Burning Home — All in One Day.” New York Post. December 23, 2021.

Notice of Death – January 18, 2022

Elmore Mitchell ‘Mac’ Magee Jr.

April 12, 1931 – January 13, 2022

Visitation: 5 until 7 p.m. Wednesday, January 19, 2022, at Rose-Neath Funeral Home, 2201 Airline Dr., Bossier City.

Graveside Service: 10 a.m. Thursday, January 20, 2022 at Rose-Neath Cemetery, 5185 Airline Dr., Bossier City

Leland Sparrow Adams Jr.

March 10, 1931 – January 12, 2022

Memorial Gathering: 4 until 6 p.m. Thursday, January 20, 2022, at Rose-Neath Funeral Home, 2201 Airline Drive, Bossier City

Lee Ann Smith Holcomb

July 13, 1956 – January 16, 2022

Funeral Service: 2 p.m. Wednesday, January 19, 2022, at Rose-Neath Funeral Home, 705 S. Sprite St., Vivian

Hervey Carl Shewmake

December 11, 1930 – January 15, 2022

Graveside Service: 10 a.m. Thursday, January 20, 2022 at Northwest Louisiana Veterans Cemetery, 7970 Mike Clark Rd., Keithville

Board renews Advanced contract

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Webster Parish has been operating with only one ambulance service for the past few weeks, however, following a public hearing last week and a board vote, Advanced EMS’ contract with E911 has been renewed.

“We’ve been able to add on to our staff,” said Advanced EMS owner Gary Jones. “We can be up and running by January 17.”

The Webster Parish Police Jury and 911 board have been receiving complaints of noncompliance – primarily from Fire District 11 in the northern part of the parish – concerning Advanced EMS since September 2020.

“We received complaints that Advanced EMS was sending basic life support trained crews to calls,” 911 Director Angie Chapman said. “The ordinance requires that any response to a 911 call has to be an ALS truck.”

According to the ordinance, (ALS) Advanced life support means advanced prehospital emergency medical care rendered by personnel certified at the EMT-intermediate and EMT-paramedic level and working under direct orders from physicians at a resource hospital.

(BLS) Basic life support means noninvasive prehospital emergency medical care rendered by personnel certified at the EMT-basic level.

“The complaints were that Advanced EMS was consistently sending trucks with BLS capabilities only,” Chapman said. “Springhill (Fire district 11) at that time ran first responders or EMR, which are Emergency Medical Responders. Some of those firemen were trained as paramedic or advanced EMT or above.

“What happens on a call is you get there and if the patient requires advanced life support then they cannot release that patient to someone who is not also advanced life support,” she continued. “When you have a basic truck going to a call that is already receiving advanced life support intervention, they can’t release that patient to them.”

Each time that occurred, Springhill firemen were required to ride to the hospital on the ambulance, taking them away from any fire duties. The other option was to await another ambulance carrying ALS crew members.

“It was problematic for the personnel and the patients,” Chapman said.

After several complaints, as well as unfulfilled promises from Jones to correct the situation, the board chose not to renew his contract application in November 2021.

Allen Mosley, FNP, and coroner for Webster Parish, told the 911 board members that he had paramedics working in Minden Medical Center’s emergency room because of lack of medical staff at this time.

“We don’t need to be without two (ambulance) companies in this parish,” he said.

Pafford EMS owner Greg Pafford agreed, saying it had been a hardship for his paramedics over the past two months. They have no BLS units answering calls, he said, only ALS.

“It’s been tough,” Pafford said. “We’ve been here 20 years, and we have good working relations with Advanced.”

Chapman said EMS personnel and paramedics are difficult to find at this time. Many more are needed.

The 911 board voted to renew Advanced’s contract for 60 days however, they will review the situation at the next board meeting.

It was quite a ride

There’s an adage that urges us to not judge an individual until we’ve walked a mile in their shoes. That could be changed slightly to consider withholding opinions until we’ve spent some time with those individuals, even if it’s just five hours. 

Five hours may not seem very long in the overall scheme of things, but those can be very educational hours when one on joins a Minden Police Department officer for a Friday night ride-along. 

From 7 p.m. until midnight, Officer Reece Tewell and Officer First Class Jason Smith patrolled the streets of Minden with a citizen observer, monitoring radio traffic and stopping occasionally to check traffic flow. The officers were making sure drivers obeyed speed limits and stop signs, especially in residential areas.

“We’re not here to create problems for people, but we do want them to know that there’s a police presence,” Officer Tewell said. “We want to be visible. It’s important for them to know we’re doing our job.”

Doing the job doesn’t always result in what some might consider “punishment” for a violation. During the five hours with both officers, seven traffic stops were conducted. No tickets were issued in six. One ticket was written when a driver failed to stop for a traffic violation, continuing to drive despite blue lights and siren.

“We don’t have to hand out tickets to get the message across,” Officer Tewell said. “A lot depends on the circumstance and the attitude of the individuals we stop. A brief reminder of what it means to drive safely and avoid dangerous consequences can be enough.”

OFC Smith agreed that attitude plays a big part in what happens when a police officer must interact with the public, whether it’s a traffic stop or something more serious.

“We are always aware that circumstances, something we may not be aware of, can play a big part in the attitude of someone we have to deal with,” Smith said. “We try very hard to be courteous and respectful to everyone.  We don’t want to make it worse if we can help it. All we ask is for their cooperation. A bad or aggressive attitude doesn’t help anyone.” 

Officers also responded to a pair of domestic disturbance calls during the evening, one at a local motel and the other at a residence. Both were resolved without incident, but one report was filed that could lead to a future arrest. 

“These are the kind of calls we have to approach with caution because there’s already a certain amount of tension,” OFC Smith said. “We have to be both police officer and social worker. We have to be sure a potentially bad situation doesn’t escalate, especially when children are present.”

A major concern expressed by both officers centered on the recent spate of drive-by shootings and the frequent reports of shots fired in city neighborhoods. Chief among the concerns is the lack of information coming from residents.

“We know we could do something about stopping these shootings if we could get information from the public,” Tewell said. “We’ve already lost a child to a drive-by and that’s a tragedy, and a bullet barely missed another youngster in another incident. We know there’s someone in our community who can identify the people who are doing this and it’s hard to understand why they won’t come forward.”

Tewell said officers and the department’s administration are trying hard to establish a bond between residents and their men and women in uniform.

“Every chance I get, I’ll stop and just talk with people on the street while I’m on patrol,” he said. “We want them to know us as people, not as the cop that’s looking for a reason to jam them up. If we can establish a trust, I believe we can solve a lot of the crimes we’re seeing.”

OFC Smith said the involvement of the people of Minden is as critical to public safety as a professional police department.

“Community involvement and commitment is important when you’re talking about community policing,” he said. “We’re on the street all day, every day, but we can’t be everywhere. We want to establish relationships with all the people we’re sworn to serve. That’s important to us. We all love our jobs. All we ask is for the public to be a part of the solution.”