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.

Little Free Lending Libraries are in Many at long last!

Book Boxes_2339

The first four book nooks were installed early last week in Many’s Cultural District. The remaining eight were expected to be installed before the end of the week.

The book nooks are loaded with free books for the residents of Many. One shelf contains books for adults, while the lower shelf is stacked with children’s books.

A year-long project of the Many Cultural District Advisory Committee, Mayor Ken Freeman, and the Town of Many, the book nooks are designed to encourage people, especally children, to read more.

“We are so pleased that the book nooks are now ready for our citizens. This ambitious project not only helps beautify our town, but it encourages something very important…it encourages reading,” Many Mayor Ken Freeman said.

Many Book Nooks are a cooperative endeavor of the Many Cultural District Advisory Committee and other agencies, businesses and individuals around Many.

Twelve businesses and individuals stepped up to fund the cost of the book nooks. Each individual business or individual donated $200 to fund the cost of building one book nook. Their names are inscribed on plaques on the roofs of the book nooks.

Nancy Richard, a retired college English professor from New Orleans and Lafayette who lives in Many and is a member of the Cultural District Advisory Committee , coordinated the year long project. Interstate Lumber and Building Supplies provided the lumber and other materials at a substantial discount. Sabine Association for Retarded Citizens (SARC)carpenters constructed the free lending libraries. Artists at the Depot Art Guild decorated and painted the book nooks with different literary themes. Crews from the Town of Many installed the book nooks. People from all around the area generously donated books to stock them.

The twelve book nooks are located all around town. They can be found in such locations as next door to the Many Police Station, just behind Judge Elizabeth Pickett’s office, in front of the Sabine Parish Courthouse, in front of the agriculture center next to the Many Post Office, at two churches located on Martin Luther King Drive, behind the First Methodist Church, in front of the old post office (now the Sabine State Bank offices) on San Antonio, in front of the Many Historic Depot Museum, in front of Lou’s Candles and Gifts, and other locations.

Many Cultural District Advisory Committee chairperson Mary Brocato said, “It’s fun to look for the different locations…kind of like a treasure hunt. You can find the book nooks, see what books are in them, take a book, leave a book, and then check out some of the other book nooks to see what books are there.”

She continued, ” I want to thank Nancy Richard, our sponsors and everyone else who worked so hard on this project. We believe it’s going to be a real asset to our town and our citizens.”

People are encouraged to stop at a book nook, and not only take a book, but leave books for others to read. Sharing books among everyone in the community is a cooperative effort for all.

Freeman hopes Many residents and citizens will cooperate by taking care of the book nooks so they can provide both beauty to Many, but also knowledge. ”

“Let’s treasure these little libraries and let’s take really good care of them. Lots of people worked hard to make them a reality,” Freeman concluded.


Poche Bass Tournament


The third annual Dylan Kyle Poche Memorial Bass Tournament will take place on Toledo Bend Lake on Saturday, March 24. First prize is $7,000. The event will also include raffles, DJ, bounce house for children, food and more. Funds raised will support the Dylan Kyle Poche Memorial Foundation, which awards a scholarship to Northwestern State University students who are members of the NSU Fishing Team.

Anglers can register by accessing a printable entry form at dylankylepoche.com and mailing the form to Dylan Kyle Poche Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 74, Natchitoches, LA 71458. Mail-in registration must be received by March 22. On-site registration will take place from 2-6 p.m. Friday, March 23 at Toledo Town and Tackle and from 4:30-6:30 a.m. Saturday, March 24 at the Cypress Bend Boat Launch. Fishing starts at 7 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. March 24. Rules and regulations are printed on the entry form.

Contact Burt Poche at (318) 652-3176 or (318) 652-7192 for more information.

The deadline to apply for the Dylan Kyle Poche Fishing Scholarship is April 15. Scholarships will be presented to two freshmen from Natchitoches, Sabine, Rapides, Caddo, Bossier, Winn, Grant or DeSoto parishes who join the NSU Fishing Team with preference given to those who participate in the Dylan Kyle Poche Memorial Fishing Tournament.

The NSU Fishing Team is open to all students and taps into the growing popularity of organized competitive bass fishing. The team competes in FLW, B.A.S.S. and Collegiate Bass circuits.

Poche was born March 10, 1997, and was an avid outdoorsman who joined the Natchitoches Central High School Fishing Team and was an accomplished angler. After graduating from NCHS with honors in 2015, he enrolled at NSU to pursue a bachelor’s degree and joined the fishing team in the hopes of eventually becoming a professional angler. Poche tragically lost his life on Jan. 31, 2016.

More information about Poche and the tournament is available at dylankylepoche.com. Information the NSU Fishing Team is available at beademon.com/fishing. To apply for a scholarship through the NSU Foundation, visit northwesternalumni.com/form or contact Kelly Krouse at kayk@nsula.edu or (318) 357-4248.

A Valentine’s Day to Remember

By Reba Phelps

Valentine's Day


Valentine’s Day is supposed to be filled with love, roses, chocolates, romantic dinners, and larger than life gestures to make up for a year’s worth of possible wrongs or minor neglects. UNLESS…you’re going through the throws of a divorce.

Divorce after 22 years of marriage, two amazingly resilient and beautiful daughters, and one questionable Jack Russell Terrier is enough to make even the purest of hearts a little faint.

Having barely made it through the first round of holidays since the separation with the help of good friends, lots of bible study, a few bottles of wine, and more tears than I care to admit I’d completely forgotten about the beast named “Valentine’s Day.” During a conversation with a friend I admitted that I hated the holiday.

As soon as the words left my mouth I questioned why I’d blame this innocent holiday for my present situation or even have ill will towards anyone enjoying the most needless day of the February calendar. My friend reminded me that maybe I just haven’t had a good experience on Valentine’s Day.

With the sharp memory of any woman scorned I scoured the past 22 years of Valentine’s Days. There were good, bad and funny memories, like the year we bought each other the same greeting card.

I didn’t want to live the rest of my adult life with hate in my heart for this holiday, so I went on a one woman mission to have a positive experience for Valentine’s Day. Should I send flowers to myself or buy myself an expensive purse I can ill afford with one daughter in college and another who spends all of our earthly treasures buying slime making supplies? Do I buy my own card and tell myself how special I am? I couldn’t begin to imagine any of these ideas garnering the miraculous results I was looking for.

Thinking outside the box I decided to put others before myself and see how “the other side” enjoys this holiday. In my mind “the other side” is the happily married, soon to be married, or the blissfully dating (blissfully unaware stage).

I offered to help my friend Nicole Ezernack, owner of Nicole’s Creative Flowers, during this “Super Bowl” of floral events.

We made several deliveries through the parish. Each recipient was ecstatic to receive a delivery, but there was one that completely stole my heart.

I arrived at a local nursing home and announced the name for my delivery. The receptionist’s face lit up with excitement, so I assumed she was the lucky lady. However, she sent me down the hall to deliver the goodies. Excitement was building with each step I took.

When I reached the right room and announced the lady’s name she threw her bed covers back, sat straight up in bed and said, “Who are these from? I don’t have my glasses, read it for me!”

I’m not sure who was more excited. Me or her? Fumbling around I opened her card and read a loving message from her son. Tears filled her eyes as she proclaimed, “That’s my son, he loves his mom very much.”

I could feel the pure joy and love she had for her son and I couldn’t control my pwn tears.

While there was a lot of whining and complaining on my part about this holiday I realized that Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be all about romantic love. It can be the love shared between parents and children. It can be shared with best friends and coworkers. Valentine’s Day can even be enjoyed while going through the worst life change imaginable.

Hebrews 13:16 also reminds us, “Do not forget to do good and share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” We can never go wrong when we step outside of our own pain and think of others first.

March is John Wayne Movie Month at Many Community Center

JOhn WaYNe True Grit1

John Wayne is an icon as a beloved American actor. And the Many Community Center is featuring his movies in the month of March.

The Quiet Man is the feature film on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17.

“We’re celebrating not only John Wayne, but also St. Patrick’s Day by showing this much loved film,” Mary Brocato, chairperson of the Many Cultural District Advisory Committee. “Many of us in the Many area have Irish ancestors, and we thought everyone would enjoy seeing The Quiet Man.

The classic movie was filmed in the Irish countryside with John Wayne and Irish actress Maureen O’Hara starring in it. The story goes something like this:

After accidentally killing an opponent in the ring, boxer Sean Thornton (John Wayne) leaves America and returns to his native village of Innisfree, Ireland, hoping to buy his family’s homestead and live in peace. In doing so, he runs afoul of Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen), who long coveted the property. Spitefully, Will objects when his fiery sister, Mary Kate (Maureen O’Hara), begins a romance with Sean, and refuses to hand over her dowry. Mary Kate refuses to consummate the marriage until Sean retrieves the money.

The movie was released in August, 1952, and was a huge success in the United States. It offered viewers a glimpse of the gentle beauty of Ireland and the spirit of the Irish people. It also won the Academy Award for Best Director (John Ford) and numerous other film academy awards.

The modest family home that Thornton purchased in the movie still stands today and is a major tourist attraction for visitors to Ireland.

Admission to The Quiet Man is free. Concessions are only $1 each. Donations are always welcome to help defray the cost of operating the Many Community Center.

Although the film has been out for more than 50 years, it remains a favorite because of the actors, the dreamy landscapes of Ireland, and the love story it presents.

The Town of Many, Mayor Ken Freeman and the Many Cultural District Advisory Committee are sponsoring the free movie on March 17.

Mark your calendar for Happy Hours Photography Classes

Sabine Photography Classes


Talented professional photographer Teresa Hunter is the instructor for the Happy Hours photography classes that will begin at the Many Depot Museum on Saturday, March 3.

Hunter, who lives in Leesville, is widely recognized for her creative approach to photography. She especially likes to photograph animals, landscapes and people for portraits.

Hunter will teach four classes. The first is on March 3. The other three classes are on April 7, May 5, and June 2. The classes, sponsored by the Many Cultural District, Mayor Ken Freeman, and the Depot Art Guild, will meet at the depot and will last from 1-4 p.m

Classes are $25 per class. However, if a student enrolls for all four classes and pays in full at the March 3 class, the cost goes down to $80 for all classes. Hunter is encouraging photography students to sign up for all four classes because as she says, “Each class builds on the previous class, and you’ll get so much more if you take all of the classes.”

Here is the schedule for each class.

Lesson 1: March 3

History of photography
Basic camera fundamentals
Kinds of photography
Seeing for photography
Assignment for next lesson
Bring one example of photography that you love.
Bring one example of a photo taken using things learned in Lesson
Lesson 2: April 7

Learning the basics
ISO, F-Stop and shutter speeds
Camera settings
File types and sizes
Assignment for Lesson 3
Bring examples of photography using High and Low ISO, High and Low
F-Stop, examples of fast and low shutter speed
Lesson 3: May 5

Basic Rules of Composition
Backgrounds. What’s in Your Shot?
Posing and working with people
Assignmentfor Lesson 4
Bring example of one photo using at least one rule of composition
Bring an example of one photo with someone posed and explain why you posed them the way you did
Lesson 4: June 2

Overview of Entire Course
Class Show of Your Best Work
Interested students should call Hunter at 337-396-6750 for more information and to reserve a place in the classes.

Hunter moved with her family to Leesville when her husband was stationed at Ft. Polk. Upon his retirement from the Army, the family had put down roots and decided to live in Leesville permanently.

Hunter became interested in photography when an uncle from her home state of Florida encouraged her to go for her dream of becoming a professional photographer. He also gave her a comprehensive set of cameras and lenses and added more to her collection over the years. It was his belief in her talent and his encouragement throughout her formative years that gave her the strength and will to advance her photography skills into a career.

The Cultural District Advisory Committee members and the Art Guild are excited to add photography as a Happy Hours Class and think it will make a strong addition to the curriculum With the addition of photography, Happy Hours creative classes are taught the first, second, third and fourth weekends of each month.

Summit ObGyn of Natchitoches: Break Free from heavy periods


Get lasting relief from heavy periods caused by abnormal uterine bleeding

Her Option® is a safe and effective treatment that uses sub-zero temperatures to destroy the tissue lining the uterus (endometrium).

It is this tissue that sheds during your period that causes bleeding. By destroying most or all of this lining, your periods will be reduced or eliminatd.

Is your menstrual bleeding excessive?
Bleeding that soaks through one or more sanitary pads or tampons every hour for several consecutive hours.
Bleeding so heavy you need to double up on sanitary protection. Bleeding that causes you to change protection during the night. A period lasting longer than seven days.

Menstual flow containing large blood clots.

Heavy periods that interfere with your regular lifestyle
(i.e. physical activities, sexual intimacy, career, recreation, self-confidence)

Constant pain in your lower abdomen during your period. Severe cramps or headaches during your period.

Irregular periods.

Tiredness, fatigue or shortness of breath (symptoms of anemia). Depression or moodiness during your period.

If you’ve experienced one or more of these symptoms, your heavy periods could be the result of a condition called abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB) or Menorrhagia.
You do not need to live with heavy periods and the limitations associated with AUB.

Moshood Olatinwo, M.D.
617 Bienville Street, Suite A
Natchitoches, Louisiana 71457


Paid Advertising

Guatemala — An Amazing Country of Color and Contrasts


Imagine that you’re standing on the steps of a Catholic church built in 1545. All around you are devout descendants of the famed Maya Indians, slowly ascending the steps on their knees, with wisps of smoke from their incense filling the air. They are almost certainly praying both to the Christian Blessed Virgin and to their ancient ancestral gods.

Where would one find a scene of such contrasting worship, an exotic scene not likely to be duplicated in many other places on our planet? The answer is — the small, fascinating Central American country of Guatemala.

I can’t conceive of two countries, both of which are in what we call Latin America, more different than Guatemala and Argentina, the South American nation that I’ve written about over the last two weeks. About the only thing they have in common is the fact that they were colonized by the Spanish centuries ago.

I visited both nations way back in the 1970s on “press junkets” for travel writers, in which the host countries, airlines and hotels pick up the tab and the writers then return home to reveal the highlights of their trip for their readers. ( I also visited Guatemala in 1976 to cover the effects of a devastating earthquake, but that’s another story for next week.)

Argentina is modern, sophisticated and European-oriented, while Guatemala is much more traditional, with most of the population being either pure-blooded Mayans or of mixed Spanish and Mayan ancestry.

Guatemala City, the capital, certainly has a modern appearance, with luxurious hotels, restaurants and night clubs. But to get a sense of the country, one needs to hit the road.

I don’t know how modern the country’s highways are now, but in 1974, when I first went there, the only way to get to the “real” Guatemala out in the countryside was via vehicle on narrow, twisting two-lane highways in the mountains, with lots of blind hairpin turns and sheer drop-offs on one side of the road.

The village where the Mayans mix Christianity and their own ancient religions is called Chichicastenango. Yes, it’s pronounced just like it’s spelled. Spanish priests worked to convert the natives to Christianity but their efforts were only partly successful. As I said, they have formed a blend of two religions and once they have reached the top of the church steps, they continue on their knees toward the ancient altar, where they pray to more than one deity.

Chichi, as it’s known for short, is also home to what has to be one of the most colorful markets in the world. The bright clothes put on display and sale by the Mayans are a kaleidoscope of color. You can buy everything from a wicked machete to a fantastically colored cape. And they expect you to bargain. I bought a beautiful golden cape for the asking price of $10 and the seller looked at me like I was crazy for not bargaining him down to a lower price.

Another site of ancient Guatemala, though very different, is Antiqua Guatemala, which was a thriving Spanish settlement until hit by a terrible earthquake in the 1700s. The old colonial ruins, especially the church, are a wonder to see.

And speaking of wonders, let me tell you about Lake Atitlan. This achingly beautiful lake is in a volcano crater and surrounded by other lovely peaks. It is one of the most relaxing and serene places I have ever been.

Unfortunately, my group of writers was not taken to any of the famed Mayan ruins, because at that time they were quite remote and difficult to get to.

Should you check out this very, very different destination? The country has a history of dictatorships and a violent opposition, not unlike Argentina, which has led to guerilla warfare. But Guatemala is supposedly safe to travel these days. If you’re looking for something exotic and off the beaten path, you may want to consider a trip there.

Next week: a look at a much more tragic Guatemala, when it was hit by a huge earthquake more than 40 years ago.


Happy Hours Arts and Craft classes

SABINE-Craft Classes (2)

Happy Hours means different things to different folks.

For Many, Sabine Parish, and surrounding area residents , it can mean taking interactive classes at the Many Depot Art Guild for a few hours on Saturday afternoons.

Class participants can take photography, painting, arts and crafts, and jewelry design/making classes which are offered on four Saturday afternoons each month from 1-4 p.m.

The Many Cultural District Advisory Committee, Many Mayor Ken Freeman, and the Many Town Council agreed that folks in the area needed more activities and events so they would not have to travel but could stay at home for special events, musical concerts, free movies, art shows, and now…Happy Hours classes.

The Cultural District committee and the Depot Art Guild have worked together to create a schedule of hands-on creative classes taught by talented, often professional instructors.

The schedule looks like this for the months of March through June.

1st weekend in the month photography classes

2nd weekend in the month painting classes

3rd weekend in the month arts and craft classes

4th weekend in the month jewelry design/jewelry making classes

Students pay a minimal fee of $20 or $25 per class directly to the instructor. This amount pays for supplies and materials, as well as the teacher’s expertise and knowledge. Paint, canvasses, beads, special supplies are the kinds of items the enrollment fee covers. At the end of the three hour class, students may take home their creations. Painting and arts and crafts classes are $20 each. Jewelry design/jewelry making and the photography classes are $25 each.

The four photography classes will meet on the first Saturday of March, April, May, and June. Because the classes build on each other, if a student signs up and pays for all four classes on March 3, the cost is only $80 for all of the classes. For single classes, the fee is $25.

Kimberley Remedies, a talented. professional artist, will teach the art class. It is her second year to teach the Happy Hours art class on the second Saturday of each month. She has also taught painting at Hodges Gardens, at the Sabine Council on Aging and various other organizations in the area.

Shanna Dees Gaspard, president of the Depot Art Guild and a member of the Cultural District Advisory Committee, teaches the arts and craft class on the third Saturday of each month. She is a talented artist and crafts person and enjoys seeing her students use their creative skills to create unique artisan projects for their homes or gifts. She says many grandmothers like to bring their grandchildren to take her classes. Gaspard has a granddaughter of her own and often takes Victoria’s advice when she is searching for a creative project for her crafts classes. “I want to be sure I select a project that grownups and children will all enjoy making,” Gaspard said.

Cheryl Pearsall, a talented jewelry designer who retired to this area from Florida, is teaching jewelry making and design on the fourth Saturday afternoon of each month. This is her first year to teach at the Depot Museum Art Gallery. Pearsall has sold her creations at the Depot Art Gallery and they are fast sellers. Now Pearsall is sharing her talent with her Saturday afternoon students. Her class is a popular one, so students need to sign up quickly.

The newest creative instructor is Teresa Hunter from Leesville. A professional photographer, she is teaching photography lessons on the first Saturday afternoon of each month. Her work can be seen on her Facebook page under the name Teresa Hunter Photography. Hunter is excited about teaching the photography course and plans to teach an in-depth photography class that highlights the mechanics of using a camera as well as landscape, animals, and portrait photography. Passionate about photography, Hunter says “I really like sharing my skills with people who want to learn how to be a good photographer and take pictures that will make good memories for their family and friends.”

Schedules for the Happy Hours Creative Arts classes are available at Many City Hall, the Many Community Center (old Sabine Theatre), the Depot Art Guild, and the Sabine Parish Library. Schedules are also posted on the Town of Many Facebook page, Save the Date Facebook page,and Mary Brocato’s Facebook page, and shared throughout social media.

The schedules cover the classes for the months of March through June. They also give the contact information for each of the instructors so students can call to reserve the classes they wish to take.

Happy Hours Creative Classes at the Many Depot are fast becoming favorite weekend activities for both creative and not-so-creative people who like to spend time with both old and new friends, learn something new, and take home their projects.


Movies in Many: Message in a Bottle



Movies in Many will wrap up Valentine’s Month with Message in a Bottle, a touching love story, on Saturday, Feb. 17.

The romantic movie goes something like this: A woman finds a romantic letter in a bottle washed ashore and tracks down the author, a widowed shipbuilder whose wife died tragically early. As a deep and mutual attraction blossoms, the man struggles to make peace with his past so that he can move on and find happiness.
Message in a Bottle’ is a tearjerker that strolls from crisis to crisis. It’s curiously muted, as if it fears that passion would tear its delicate fabric; even the fights are more in sorrow than in anger. It’s a beautiful story that is both sad and uplifting at the same time. And as the shipbuilder struggles with choosing to live in the past and opening up to the present and possibly a future with someone else, it does have a happy ending.

The movie stars romantic hero Kevin Costner as the brokenhearted shipbuilder, Robin Wright as the researcher who finds the washed up bottle with its message, and the late Paul Newman in one of his last movies.

A perfect Valentine love story, it is sure to please the audience during the Many Cultural District’s Valentine month movie.

The movie is free admission and is hosted by the Town of Many Cultural District Advisory Committee, Many Mayor Ken Freeman, and the Many City Council. Popcorn and soft drinks are only $1.00 each.

Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival receives NEA grant

NSO-Folk Fest NEA Grant


NSU – The Louisiana Folklife Center at Northwestern State University has received a $10,000 Challenge America grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for the 2018 Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival.

The Challenge America category features NEA support for projects that extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations—those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics or disability.

“We are deeply honored that the festival has received a Challenge America award from the National Endowment for the Arts,” said Dr. Shane Rasmussen, the director of the Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival. “This year’s festival will be a fun-filled, educational event that will highlight some of the finest folk music, food, crafts and cultural traditions in Louisiana.”

The grant was among more than $25 million awarded as part of the NEA’s first major funding announcement for fiscal year 2018.

“It is energizing to see the impact that the arts are making throughout the United States. These NEA-supported projects, such as this one to Northwestern State University’s Louisiana Folklife Center, are good examples of how the arts build stronger and more vibrant communities, improve well-being, prepare our children to succeed and increase the quality of our lives,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “At the National Endowment for the Arts, we believe that all people should have access to the joy, opportunities and connections the arts bring.”

The 39th annual Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival will be held on July 20-21 in air-conditioned Prather Coliseum on the Northwestern State University campus in Natchitoches. The 2018 festival theme is “Celebrating Louisiana’s Folk Roots.” The festival will include a wide variety of traditional crafts, folk foods, Kidfest, three stages with live music, narrative sessions, music informances and a Cajun fiddle workshop, which will be free for Festival attendees. In addition, the annual Louisiana State Fiddle Championship will be held in the Magale Recital Hall on the afternoon of July 21.

The 2018 festival will include classic country by Hugh Harris and the Drifting Cowboys with special guest Gina Forsyth, blues with Lil’ Buck Sinegal and Hardrick Rivers and the Rivers Revue Band, zydeco by Joe Hall and the Cane Cutters, French Creole la la music by Goldman Thibodeaux and the Lawtell Playboys, Cajun music by Donny Broussard and the Louisiana Stars, Jo-El Sonnier and the Jambalaya Cajun Band. There will also be traditional acoustic folk music by the Back Porch Band and Smithfield Fair, swamp pop with Johnny Earthquake and the Moondogs, rockabilly with Jim Oertling and Friends and special performances by Estelle Brown (of the Sweet Inspirations) and guitar legend James Burton.

The festival audience will be greatly edified, enlightened and entertained at the Folk Festival, Rasmussen said.

The Louisiana Folklife Center was established at Northwestern State to identify, document and present Louisiana’s cultural and folk traditions and to provide public access to this material via the Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival.

For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news. To learn about this year’s Folk Festival, go to louisianafolklife.nsula.edu/2018-natchitoches-nsu-folk-festival.

Give a child a voice: Become a CASA advocate

CASA_Aggie Babers

Each year through no fault of their own, thousands of Louisiana’s children enter into complex social welfare and juvenile court proceedings. They are the victims of abuse, neglect and/or abandonment. Helpless and scared, they belong to no one as they sit silently waiting for the courts to decide their futures.

According to Jack Duty, executive director of CASA if Central Louisiana, in December there were 15 children without advocates in CASA’s service area, which includes Natchitoches, Red River and Sabine Parishes.

“Becoming a CASA volunteer is an investment of time, energy and heart,” he said. “But many volunteers have told me they get just as much out of it themselves as the child they’re advocating for. They find it rewarding and eellike they’re helping to change that child’s situation.”

CASA if Central Louisiana will hold an Advocate Training Class Thursday, Feb. 15 from 5:30-8:30 pm at its office, located at 1200 Keyser Avenue, Suite B.

Aggie Babers worked as a CASA advocate in the Sabine Parish area from 2009-2015. Her goal was always to offer support and implement self esteem in the children she dealt with.

“As an advocate, you become a friend to them and help motivate them to become all they can be,” she said. “You help them focus, not on their temporary placement, but on their future achievements. I have a longing inside me to be engaged in the lives of our youth and I saw the need for CASA advocates, so I became one. I encourage anyone who has the time to get involved to become an advocate as well.”

CASA’s Advocate Training Class marks the beginning of the 30-hour course, which will be held over several weeks. There will be study material sent home, but volunteers will be asked to attend four more classes at the office. These classes will be scheduled on a weekly basis. At the end, there will be a 2-hour courtroom observation before volunteers are officially sworn in as advocates.

Become a CASA Advocate and help CASA of Central Louisiana ensure that every foster child has a caring competent volunteer in all judicial proceedings. If you are at least 21 years of age, respect the inherent rights of children to grow up with dignity in a safe environment, and would like to advocate for a child’s best interests in court, become a CASA Advocate today! For more information call (318) 238-2446.