MidSouth Bank: A Community-First Bank

MidSouth Bank_NPJ-SPJ-Aditorial-560x392
After spending more than 30 years working to define what it truly means to be a “community bank,” MidSouth Bank understands that it can only be as successful as the communities it serves. That’s why we’re more committed than ever to meeting the financial needs of customers throughout the Natchitoches and Sabine markets.

That’s especially true of the small business and commercial clients we serve in these areas – those companies that are the backbone of the local economy because they are the primary job creators. In 2017 alone, we loaned over $32 million dollars to local businesses involved in timber, farming, commercial real estate, oilfield services, construction, and manufacturing operations.

We’re continually investing in new technology to ensure our customers’ success allowing them to bank wherever they are. Many of our business customers utilize our accounts receivable financing, litigation financing, insurance premium financing, working capital lines of credit, and cash management products. All our customers find our eBanking options such as online and mobile banking, goDeposit, and smart phone payment options to be helpful during their busy days at home, work, or at their kids’ sporting events.

We decided long ago to invest in the Natchitoches and Sabine markets, and every day we better understand that there is untapped potential here. Our employees have decades of experience and knowledge of the two markets’ business communities and want to share in the success of the region. Our Regional President, Rhonda Jones, has 36 years of banking expertise — the last five years spent serving customers right here in our community.

In fact, under Rhonda’s leadership, we are accelerating our commitment to the area by reinvesting more resources into worthwhile projects throughout the community. Last year, we donated thousands of dollars to local organizations, secured numerous grants for low-income homeowners and provided attractive funding programs for multi-family affordable housing.

In short, we are committed to these markets, and we want you to bank with us!

NSU names six alumni to Long Purple Line

LongPurple 2018


Northwestern State University will honor six graduates by inducting them into the University’s alumni hall of distinction, the Long Purple Line. The 2018 inductees are Monty Chicola of Alexandria, Dr. Philip Cole of Shreveport, Linda Day of Baton Rouge, Justice James T. Genovese of Opelousas, the late Col. Randall D. Keator Sr. formerly of Shreveport and Darryl Willis of Houston.

Honorees will be honored at a luncheon on March 23 at noon in the Friedman Student Union Ballroom. Tickets are $20. For more information, call (318) 357-4415 or e-mail ericksonv@nsula.edu.

Since 1990, 125 NSU alumni have been named to the Long Purple Line.

Chicola is president of Real Vision Software based in Alexandria, a company he founded in 1992 after working as a programmer for 12 years. His company’s big break came when IBM saw the advantage of having Real Vision Software’s product along with IBM’s product covering mid-range businesses. They were later expanded to small businesses for IBM in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and Central America.

The company sells to businesses including banks, insurance companies, service bureaus, hospitals, government agencies, casinos, trucking firms, investment firms, manufacturers and utility companies.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and accounting at NSU in 1980. Chicola was a member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity where he served as president. He was a member of NSU gymnastics team and the Northwestern band. Chicola is president of the NSU Alumni Association and was an advisory, non-voting member of the search committee which selected Dr. Chris Maggio to be Northwestern’s president.

Cole graduated from Martin High School in Red River Parish then earned a bachelor’s from Northwestern in chemistry and biology. He went own to earn his M.D. from LSU Medical School in New Orleans. Cole received a master’s of health care management from the Harvard School of Public Health. He did his internship in general surgery residency and a colon and rectal surgical fellowship at LSU Health Science Center. Cole has 36 years of private and academic surgical practice. He is professor of surgery and public health and general surgery program director for LSUHSC and previously served as chief medical officer for Christus Health in Louisiana and Southeast Texas. Cole has served as president, vice president and secretary of the Louisiana chapter of the American College of Surgery.

In his career, Cole has published more than 40 national and international presentations of academic papers and book chapters. He serves as a deacon and member of the board of directors at Broadmoor Baptist Church. Cole was a member of the board of directors for LSU Health Science Center Foundation and chairman of the Investment Committee, the board of directors of Christus Health, Louisiana and the Juvenile Justice Committee for Caddo Parish. He is a Harvard University admissions committee interviewer and is on the LSU Medical School Admissions Committee. Cole has made more than 30 international medical mission trips.

Day served as executive director of the Louisiana Association of Educators for four years. She was a teacher in Caddo Parish. Day served as director of Louisiana Drug Policy and the Office of Drug Policy in the office of Louisiana Attorney General Richard Ieyoub.

Day served as commissioner to the Education Commission of the States, received the LAE’s Human and Civil Rights Trailblazer Award and was one of 76 delegates from the United States to attend the World Confederation of the Teaching Profession in Stockholm, Sweden. She was elected vice president of the National Council of State Education Associations in 1993.

Day earned her bachelor’s and master’s at NSU. She did additional graduate work at NSU, LSU, Centenary and Southern University.

Genovese has been an associate justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court since 2017. He was a practicing attorney for 21 years before serving as a judge in the 27th Judicial District from 1995-2004 and a member of the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal from 2005-16.

A 1971 graduate of Northwestern State, Genovese has been a panelist, speaker and lecturer at conferences and continuing education seminars on recent updates, professionalism, ethics, summary judgment, writs and appeals, practices and procedures of the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeals and judicial review in the Louisiana Supreme Court.

Genovese served on the Louisiana Supreme Court’s Judicial Council Appellate Court Work Point Values Working Group and the Trial Court Committee to Review the Need for Judgeships and as chairman of its Long-Term Subcommittee. He was the Supreme Court’s Appointee to the Juvenile Justice Reform Act Implementation Commission. Genovese is a board member of the Supreme Court of Louisiana Historical Society.

Keator, a highly decorated World War II veteran, earned his degree in 1939. The next year he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and after pilot training was assigned to the Philippines.

On Dec. 8, 1941, Keator and other members of the squadron intercepted Japanese fighter aircraft enroute to the Philippines. In the ensuing battle, he scored the first aerial victory in the battle of the Philippines, a feat which, along with another confirmed and a third probable kill, earned him the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second highest honor.

Life Magazine chronicled the exploits in its first issue following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the Louisiana Legislature passed a resolution honoring Keator for conspicuous gallantry in action. The next year he experienced a forced landing in the Pacific, a rescue by island natives and a last minute escape from Bataan in the face of advancing Japanese forces.

After the war, he pursued an illustrious career spanning 28 years and four continents. As an engineer in Air Force laboratories, he pioneered numerous systems used in military aircraft. He rose to the rank of colonel, commanding a 200-engineer organization providing support to the operational fleet at the time of his retirement from the military. Keator passed away in 1981.

Willis is an accomplished global senior executive with exceptional achievements leading businesses in the oil and gas industry. He has a proven track record of delivering growth and improving profitability for enterprises ranging in size from $1B to $5B in the United States, Russia, Asia and Africa. He has earned the reputation as an inspiring leader who develops people and builds high-performing teams. His leadership style, passion and deep knowledge of issues make his talents transferable to companies of various size, in early or mature stage, or reorganizing with new leadership.

He was selected to lead the Deepwater Horizon claims process for BP, became spokesperson for the company and provided expert testimony before Congress and state legislatures in Florida and Louisiana.

Willis served most recently as president and chief executive officer of BP Angola. Previously, he served as senior vice president and deputy head of subsurface for BP. In his distinguished 25-year career, his global technical and management experience includes subsurface, commercial, operations, strategy, safety, ethics and compliance, public affairs, supply chain, drilling, crisis management and technology across North America, United Kingdom, Russia, West Africa and Southeast Asia.

Willis earned a Master of Science in Management from Stanford University with concentrations in Managing Global Businesses and Social Responsibility, a Master of Science in Geology and Geophysics from the University of New Orleans and a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry & Literature from the Louisiana Scholars College at Northwestern State.

Divine Coincidences

By Reba


If you already know me this may not come as a complete shock to you, I love people. I mean, I really love people. Put me in a long grocery store line, or a crowded waiting room and I will leave with a new Facebook friend and possibly an invite to a family BBQ.

I’m fairly certain I was like this as an adolescent. It carried over into my high school years where I spent numerous hours in Vice Principal Shirtee Evans’ office asking for repentance for my social sins. Little did I know that all of those interpersonal and leadership skills would lead to my future career.

Lucky me, there are career paths that actually encourage you to be social, network and make new connections without having to report to the Principal’s office. In the insurance industry you have the potential to meet hundreds of people in a years time…between customers, referrals, seminars and networking. It’s very rare to thrive in this world as a wall flower.

If you’re not careful you run an unusually high risk of not taking the time to smell the roses, so to speak. Some connections happen for a purpose and when we are so caught up in our own ambitions we can miss them.

One day I received a text from a colleague advising she had shared my contact information with a potential customer from South Louisiana and asked if I’d be willing to accommodate. Without hesitation I offered my services and called the referral. We went through the business motions like normal and it didn’t take me long to realize that this was a divine connection.

She was very business minded and intelligent and at the same time had this completely infectious joy about her that was indescribable. We hit if off immediately and I anticipated meeting her in person. The day before our meeting I couldn’t help but tell her that she had this special joy and peaceful spirit.

Being the extrovert that I am I didn’t hesitate to let her know how I feIt. I’ll never forget her exact words to me. She said, “Reba, you would never believe that tomorrow will be one year since I lost my precious son and God has been so good to me I have nothing to complain about.”

Her words hit me like a freight train because no mother wants to hear this story. No mother wants to live this story. If you didn’t know how great God was you may have even been a little confused or taken aback at the peace and confidence in her voice.

She went on to tell me about his beautiful life and how she always confessed positive things over his life even when he didn’t act in a positive manner. She spoke of his testimony and how he was blessed with his dream job prior to his untimely death.

We met in person the very next day and by this time I felt as if I were meeting a best friend I’d known for years. We had shared joy, sadness, and a common bond of motherly love. As if that weren’t enough, we even shared the same iPhone with the exact same matching cover!

Being in the insurance business for almost 25 years I choose not to lose sleep over the many overlooked divine coincidences. Instead I choose to cherish and recognize each and every new divine opportunity that comes my way.

Like Hebrews 13:1-2 tells us, “Let love of brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”

Memories of a Tragic Earthquake in Central America

By Joe Darby



I’ve experienced a number of hurricanes but being in the middle of an earthquake — even an aftershock — is pretty scary.

When a strong earthquake hit the picturesque country of Guatemala in February, 1976, the New Orleans Times-Picayune decided to cover the disaster because a good number of Central Americans lived in New Orleans. I quickly volunteered for the assignment because I’d visited Guatemala two years previously, on a junket for travel writers, and was familiar with the country. (I told you about that trip last week.)

The quake was centered about 100 miles northwest of Guatemala City and the death count would be a staggering 27,000 by the time all of the aftershocks were over. More than 90,000 were injured.

When I and a photographer checked into our Guatemala City hotel, we quickly realized the extent of the damage. The elevators were out so we had to walk up to our sixth floor room. Between the stairway and our room, a huge crack in the corridor wall, more than a foot wide, was open to the air. You could look out and see the street six stories below.

Our room was in a bit of a shambles and we couldn’t use the bathtub because the plaster ceiling had collapsed and filled the tub with debris. The restaurant was not serving and frequent aftershocks kept shaking the building, making it almost impossible to sleep.

We heard the worst destruction was in the smaller towns up in the mountains so we hired a car and driver and headed to a village, perhaps 20 or 30 miles outside of the capital.

When we arrived at our destination — and I regret I cannot remember the name of the town — devastation was everywhere. Almost all of the structures were built of adobe, which made them particularly vulnerable to the vicious quakes. One of the first things we saw as a man was searching through the ruins, calling for his missing wife, “Lydia, Lydia.” I can remember the poor fellow’s voice to this day.

The photographer and I climbed on top of a huge pile of rubble that used to be a house, in order to get a better view. Just after we had safely climbed down, a severe aftershock began shaking the ground beneath us, almost knocking us off our feet. I’m sure that if we had still been on the rubble pile we would have taken a nasty fall. But we had to explore more of the area, observing and using our driver as an interpreter for interviews.

The village church was roofless and as I peered inside, I saw a sight I’ll never forget. A statute of Christ still stood, but it had been decapitated

We were in the village for a couple of hours, gathering information and images, but we had to return to Guatemala City to wire the story and the photos back to New Orleans. On the way back to the capital, we came to a point on the road that had suffered a huge landslide, obviously caused by the aftershock. We barely had enough room to drive around the fallen rocks, just avoiding the edge of a cliff.

After filing our article, we had quite a difficult time getting a flight out, because so many people were trying to flee the country. But after missing several flights, we managed to get aboard one and return to the states.

The memories and experiences of that tragedy will live with me forever. As terrible as hurricanes are, at least we know when they are coming. Earthquakes strike with no warning. And completely devastate countless lives.

Next week I’d like to tell you about a couple of much more pleasant trips, to the great nations of England and France.

Happy Hours Craft Class set for March 17

Mesh door wreath March 2018

The third Saturday of each month is Happy Hours for people who like to do crafts and make things to display in their homes.

Shanna Dees Gaspard, president of the Depot Art Guild, knows just what kinds of crafts make people happy. She will be teaching her students how to make mesh spring wreaths for their front doors on Saturday, March 17.

Her class is from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Depot Art Guild located in Many’s Historic Depot Museum. The cost for the class is $20 which is used to pay for the materials and supplies.

“Spring is here,”Gaspard says, “and we want something light and refreshing on our front doors…something that reminds us of spring. These wreaths, in several spring like colors are guaranteed to do just that.”

Gaspard says the Happy Hours creative classes are a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. She said,”Our students enjoy visiting with old friends and meeting new friends. It’s lots of fun for everyone, and best of all you take away something beautiful for your home.”

Happy Hours creative classes are offered the first four Saturday afternoons of every month. Students can take photography, painting, crafting, or jewelry making classes. Best of all, for the low class fee, they get to take their creations home with them.

The classes are sponsored by the Town of Many, Mayor Ken Freeman, the Many Cultural District Advisory Committee, and the Depot Art Guild.


GOHSEP’s Crisis Action Team Activated due to Threat of Severe Weather, River Concerns



The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) activated its Crisis Action Team (CAT) due to the ongoing threat of severe weather in some portions of the state and due to growing concerns about river levels caused by heavy rain in the region. Several inches of rain have already fallen this week in some locations. Louisiana is wrapping up the 2018 Severe Weather Awareness Week with our local, state and federal partners. We continue to urge the public to use the resources provided by emergency managers, the National Weather Service (NWS) and your local media to track possible severe weather this weekend. GOHSEP’s Crisis Action Team will monitor the conditions, provide situational reports to state and local leaders and help answer any calls for support from our local partners.

Here are NWS updates for each region:

NWS Shreveport:

Short Term:

Moderate to possibly heavy rainfall will be possible along and to the north of a warm front today. Additional rainfall amounts of one to three inches on the already saturated soils will result in rapid water runoff and possible flash flooding. A Flash Flood

Watch remains in effect through 6 PM Saturday.

Long Term:

An approaching upper level disturbance and associated cold front will bring additional rainfall for portions of the region on Saturday and Saturday night, and the threat for flash flooding will continue. Aside from the flooding potential, some of these thunderstorms will become strong or severe with damaging winds and tornadoes the primary threats. The severe and heavy rainfall threat will diminish from west to east late Saturday night into early Sunday.

Showers and thunderstorms will return Tuesday and linger through at least mid-week, possibly bringing more flash flooding, river flooding, and severe thunderstorms to our region.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) reports that nearly 1.2 million car crashes occur each year on wet pavement resulting in 5,700 deaths. AAA officials say if your vehicle shuts down while in standing water, do not try to restart it. That could cause more water to enter the engine and could cost thousands to repair. Also, if your vehicle stalls in a flooded area make sure that you abandon the vehicle.

Here are additional tips for driving on wet roads from AAA:

Check Tire Pressure: Make sure your tires have enough tread and are properly inflated. Worn tires with little tread are more likely to hydroplane. You can check this by inserting a quarter upside down into a tire groove. If you can see above Washington’s head it’s time for new tires.

Slow Down: Slowing down can be critical in stopping your car from hydroplaning. Drivers should reduce their speed to correspond to the amount of water on the roadway. Leave plenty of space between you and the car in front of you.

Avoid Cruise Control: The feature is great in dry conditions but when used when roads are wet it can cause you to lose control.

Low Visibility: Turn on your headlights to help you see better and allow motorists to better spot you. Avoid high beams because they may cause more distraction.

Visibility While Driving: If you can’t see the edges of the road or other vehicles at a safe distance pull off the road with your hazard lights on.

Avoid Flooded Roads: There is no way to tell how deep standing water is on a flooded road. Roads with too much water may flood your engine, warp brake rotors, cause loss of power steering or shorts in electrical components.

Visit http://www.511la.org for road updates during an emergency. Keep your phones charged and near you while the threat continues in order to receive potential emergency messaging.

Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Training – Be Job Ready!

CDL Interest Meeting

The CDL program provides students with the necessary skills to begin driving a truck professionally. Students train on a state-of-the-art L3 Series truck driving simulator at the beginning of the course. After a few weeks of training on the simulator, students begin driving a real truck. The course is 240 hours.

Interest Meeting: March 8 at 5 p.m., 6587 Highway 1 Bypass, Natchitoches Campus

Requirements: 18-years-old or older, possess a valid current driver’s license, and pass a drug screen prior to enrollment.

For more information contact the Natchitoches Campus at 318-357-3162.

MidSouth Bank is once again “spreading the love”

Sabine Parish Journal-560x392_Spread the Love
MidSouth Bank is once again “spreading the love” on their Facebook page where each day in February they post about something they love. Several days throughout the month followers have had a chance (and still do) to take action for a chance to win a prize. So far, we have given away over 150 prizes including $100 to Girl Scout Troop 540 in Zwolle and $50 to the Sabine Parish 4-H, not to mention the many individual winners from all over Sabine Parish. If you want to have a chance to win upcoming prizes, like our page and watch for our daily Spread the Love posts for instructions. We have 4 more giveaways coming up.

Remember, banking is so much more than just making loans and taking deposits. We want you to think of much more when you see a MidSouth Bank sign or logo. We want you to think of the PEOPLE working each day who are not only your trusted banking partners, but also your neighbors, fellow committee members and community volunteers. Our commitment to our communities means so much to us; it’s why we are involved in business, social, civic and charitable initiatives, expanding our model of community involvement in ways big and small all year long.

“The Five Senses” to open Thursday

5 senses photo

NSU- Northwestern State University Theatre and Dance will present “The Five Senses” Feb. 22-25 and March 1-3 in Theatre West. Performance time is 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 22-24 and March 1-3 and a 2 p.m. matinee on Feb. 25.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for children and senior citizens. NSU, BPCC@NSU and Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts are admitted free with a current student I.D., but tickets must be reserved in advance in Room 108 of the Old Wing of the A.A. Fredericks Fine Arts Center. Tickets are limited. Reservations can be made by calling (318) 357-4218 or (318) 357-4483

The five senses (sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste) form the basis of an exploration in dance. The performance will delve into our senses, specifically how they can deceive our perceptions and how the absence of one makes the others stronger. Choreography is by Cher Anabo, Brett Alan Garfinkel, Kirstin Riehl and Rebecca Morgan.

Members of the cast of “The Five Senses” are Alphonse Engram of DeRidder, Luther Brooks and Adele Hebert of Lafayette, Dwight Robinette and Taylor Young of New Orleans, Lee Garrett of Haughton, Thomas Hadzeriga, Jayzen Boger and Asher Van Meter of Edmond, Oklahoma, Katherine Langlois of Baton Rouge, Elaina Guerrero of Shreveport, Maci Burt of Mandeville, Laura Guzman of Cartagena, Colombia, Skilynn Fontenot of Eunice and Vilma Castro of San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

Happy Hours Painting class

Purple Magnolia March18


Spring has almost sprung, and the Happy Hours painting class on Saturday, March 10, reflects that.

Purple Magnolia blossoms, a sure sign of spring, are the subject of the Saturday painting class at the Many Historic Depot Museum.

Artist Kimberley Remedies, who teaches the class, says purple magnolia blooms always symbolize spring for her and she thought her students would enjoy painting them.

The Happy Hours class is from 1 to 4 p.m. When the class is over, students will take home their paintings of the magnolia blooms.

Charge for the class is only $20 which covers the cost of materials and supplies. All the students have to bring is enthusiasm. To reserve a spot in the class, students should call Ms. Remedies at 337-424-6526.

Happy Hours Painting classes are taught on the second Saturday afternoon of each month at the Depot Art Guild located in Many’s Historic Depot Museum.