LSMSA to rename gymnasium after visionary of education, Dr. Robert Alost

He’s recognized as a mastermind, a visionary, a Natchitoches treasure, and the founding father of a preeminent residential high school, which offers students one of the most transformative educational experiences in Louisiana.

The Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts (LSMSA) was the brainchild of Dr. Robert Alost, who spent three years researching and dreaming before opening its doors in 1983. With help from community members and elected officials the necessary funding and facilities was secured and the initial legislation to create the school was passed. Dr. Alost then embarked on a statewide campaign to recruit the very first group of students and served as the school’s first Executive Director until 1986.

“He was dedicated to education and making sure students in Louisiana have an opportunity to grow,” said Dr. Alost’s wife Yvonne Alost. “You can see what’s happened with LSMSA as a result of his hard work.”

With competitive admissions for high-achieving, highly-motivated students, LSMSA fosters lifelong growth in young scholars toward reaching individual potentials and finding places of work and service in a global society through the examination and exchange of ideas in a community of learners.

“We can not begin to count the number of students and families positively impacted by Dr. Alost’s work in education,” said Dr. Steve Horton, LSMSA executive director. “He was a visionary beyond measure.”

Since LSMSA’s curriculum would mirror that of a college program, Dr. Alost felt the best place to start a search to staff the school was in colleges and universities throughout the nation.

More than 1,400 applications came in for only a handful of positions. It wasn’t hard to sell the school, even though there was very little to show– a dilapidated high school building under renovation, three run-down residence halls being updated for the purposing of classroom, faculty and administrative spaces, and a living community for teeenagers.

It all began with around 30 students. In the next sixth months the faculty Dr. Alost hired would be working with 200 of the brightest students in Louisiana. Since then, many faculty have walked the halls of the High School Building.

The Louisiana School recently announced it will honor its founder by renaming the school’s gymnasium for him. The announcement was made at the school’s 36th Commencement Ceremony on Aug. 9. Dr. Alost’s family was presented with an honorary LSMSA diploma.

“The family is very proud,” said Yvonne. “Robert wanted to give gifted students the opportunity to excel. There wasn’t a school at that time for students to get the education they’re getting now at LSMSA.”

Dr. Alost also served as president of Northwestern State University from where he created the Louisiana Scholars College. Because LSMSA is located on NSU’s campus, Dr. Alost was able to keep an eye on his beloved school, which he continued to do until his death on April 17, 2020.

“The unique community and advanced curriculum designed by Dr. Alost are what make LSMSA truly special,” said Dr. Horton. “Because of his dream, thoughtful, creative students from across Louisiana are able to access the state’s most rigorous preparation for college and the workforce when they attend LSMSA.”

When the state reaches Phase 4 and health and safety guidelines permit, LSMSA will hold a formal dedication ceremony to rename the gym the Robert A. Alost Gymnasium.

“This season has been a difficult one at LSMSA, and the loss of our visionary founder feels very heavy,” said Director of Academic Services Dr. Kristi Pope Key. “But as our tradition-rich community faces unprecedented challenges, it’s wonderful to remember that we can draw comfort and encouragement from the vision and dedication of those who wrestled this school into being nearly forty years ago.”

At the end of the day Dr. Alost knew education was the key.

“He worked very hard to get LSMSA up and going,” said Yvonne. “He deserves this recognition and he would be very proud today of how the school has grown.”

Dr. Alost was also active in numerous professional, civic and religious organizations, Alost was past president of the Natchitoches Parish Chamber of Commerce and served on the Board of Directors of the Natchitoches Tourist Commission. He was named Natchitoches’ Man of the Year in 1987. He was named to a 46-member NCAA Council Board of Directors in 1992.

Alost was inducted into the Northwestern Alumni Hall of Distinction, the Long Purple Line, in 2005 and was named a Natchitoches Treasure in 2018. He was also inducted into the Mrs. H.D. Dear Sr. and Alice E. D. Dear School of Creative and Performing Arts Hall of Fame in 2019.

Port Allen native Rhett Hart (’85), a member of LSMSA’s first graduating class, has perhaps put into words the feelings of many students and educators who had the opportunity to know Dr. Alost.

“Dr. Alost changed my life considerably for the better — academically, physically, mentally, and emotionally,” said Hart, currently a financial services professional in Dallas. “He thought I was fulfilling his dream, but instead, he was fulfilling a dream that I didn’t even know could exist.”

Notice of Death – October 20, 2020

Brent Druien Thompson
October 04, 1930 – October 19, 2020
Service: Saturday, October 24 at 2 pm in the chapel of Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home

Ken Babers
October 15, 2020
Service: Saturday, October 24 at 11 am in the Winnfield Memorial Funeral Home Chapel, located at 318 North Street in Natchitoches

Billie Hayes
October 14, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Martin Luther Howard Sr.
November 7, 1920 – October 1, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Vanilla Hardy
May 11, 1970 – September 23, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Alexander Vert Tait, III
June 03, 1955 – October 17, 2020
Service: Thursday, October 22 at 2 pm in the Mt. Zion Cemetery of Wheeling

Genevieve Ozelle Adams
November 10, 1927 – October 17, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office held Day of Remembrance for Domestic Violence Victims, Survivors

Sabine Parish Sheriff Aaron Mitchell and staff along with Project Celebration, Inc held a Day of Remembrance on Oct. 15 for survivors and those who lost their lives as a result of domestic violence. Everyone took turns reading the first name and age of 50 victims who died of domestic violence in Louisiana within the last year. 50 candles were also lit in remembrance of these victims. Sheriff Mitchell gave statistics of domestic violence in Sabine Parish over the last few years. Mitzi Harris, Executive Director of PCI, also stated how important it is for the Sheriff’s Office, PCI and the District Attorney’s Office to work together to investigate cases, assist victims and prosecute offenders of domestic violence. A lunch was provided for everyone by PCI.

Early voting begins TODAY

Early voting begins today for the Nov. 3 Election. Early voting will run Friday, Oct. 16 through Tuesday, Oct. 27 from 8:30 am – 6 pm at the Registrar of Voters Office. The Courthouse is considered a polling location during early voting and NO electioneering will be permitted within 600 feet of the building.

When you go to the polls to cast your vote in an election, be sure to take one of the following:

a driver’s license,
a Louisiana Special ID,
LA Wallet digital driver’s license,
a United States military identification card that contains the applicant’s name and picture, or
some other generally recognized picture ID that contains your name and signature.
Voters who have no picture ID may complete and sign a Voter Identification Affidavit in order to vote; however, it is subject to challenge by law.

The deadline to request an absentee by mail ballot is Oct. 30 by 4:30 p.m. You can request an absentee by mail ballot online through our Voter Portal or in writing through your Registrar of Voters Office (other than military and overseas voters).

The deadline for a registrar of voters to receive a voted mail ballot is Nov. 2 by 4:30 p.m. (other than military and overseas voters).

PSC Endorses Campbell Plan to Let Electric Co-ops Offer Internet Service

Rural electric cooperatives serving 14 North Louisiana parishes were authorized today by the Louisiana Public Service Commission to enter the internet business and help bridge the digital divide.

“Today the Public Service Commission made a bold statement: we are for rural broadband,” said Foster Campbell, PSC member representing North Louisiana.

Meeting online because of the coronavirus, the five members of the PSC voted unanimously for Campbell’s plan to support internet initiatives by Claiborne Electric in Homer and Northeast Louisiana Power in Winnsboro. The two cooperatives will use federal grants and low-interest loans to offer high-speed internet in rural areas from Webster Parish eastward to the Mississippi River.

“Everyone wants internet service now,” Campbell said. “It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity.”

Campbell said rural electric cooperatives have for decades served rural residents and businesses, so it’s appropriate that they offer broadband as well.

“During the New Deal the big electric companies didn’t want to bring power to rural areas, so President Roosevelt created electric co-ops and the government helped them get established,” he said. The cooperatives paid back the government assistance and now offer some of the cheapest electricity in the country.

“We’re going to use that successful business model – targeted federal investment – to deliver broadband to areas that have few other options,” Campbell said.

Federal agencies are expected to distribute more than $600 million in Louisiana over the next 10 years as grants to expand high-speed internet service.

“These are our tax dollars,” Campbell said. “Few public needs are as vital now as broadband access, so we should capture these dollars for Louisiana and bring internet benefits to education, health care and business.”

The two Louisiana co-ops are part of a trend across the country of New Deal-era power cooperatives offering broadband. Campbell said North Louisiana has more areas without good internet service than many other regions.

The PSC vote means the two cooperatives can create internet subsidiaries that will seek government grants and low-interest loans to bring fiber-optic and wireless broadband service to members and non-members in their coverage areas. Commissioners said other co-ops in Louisiana may follow suit.


Coffee Club

By Reba Phelps

The sounds and smells of coffee percolating from my second-hand Keurig are the ingredients in the recipe for a perfect morning. Granted, during the weekdays, I do not get to linger and enjoy it for very long once the piping-hot brew hits my cup. Sometimes the weekday coffee has to be on-the-go and transported in a travel mug. Typically during the week I am all alone for these cups unless my oldest decides to join for a few brief moments before her classes or sometimes coffee is enjoyed while reading my daily devotions.

But, a cup of Joe on the weekends takes on a whole other life of its own. The smell is more profound. The sounds of the percolating second-hand Keurig seem to have a certain pep in their step. The weekend coffee is often enjoyed on a porch with friends as long as the weather permits. If the elements are not agreeable then we will find our way into someone’s home.

Somewhere along the way we affectionately started referring to our Saturday meetings as, “Coffee Club”. For research purposes I consulted one of our founding members, Brandy Tilley, to find out the exact date. She is our unofficial keeper of the records. If we want it to be an official club we should know when we were founded. After much deliberation she decided it was founded in 2014.

Although we would love to lay claim to this local tradition, it was not one created by me nor my immediate friend group. You could say that the Coffee Club model was patterned after a group of local men who we deeply respect and admire. We were lucky enough to have met them through our weekly Kiwanis Club meetings.

Week in and week out we would hear their friendly, and not so friendly, jabs at each other. The teasing and jeering these men could endure was astounding and very entertaining. We quickly learned two things. This witticism was normally spillover from their Coffee Club. And, these men could not offend each other. They were like brothers.

I never will forget the day that a few of us from the bank were invited to join the Coffee Club at their very own meeting location to hear all about their Christmas fundraiser. We were ecstatic. We were finally able to visit our friends at the infamous Coffee Club. While we were there we were completely blown away by the deep compassion and love they had for our community. These men were making a difference in people’s lives on a daily basis. It was a beautiful sight to take in.

The official name of the club was, “Walter P. Ledet Coffee Club” and they were founded in the early 1970’s. They met five days a week and would end each meeting with a coin toss to see who would foot the bill. They also would have a program every Wednesday of the week. I dare not to even guess how many projects they have completed during their time together but I can guarantee they enjoyed each other’s company while they did it.

As stated in their official proclamation, “Many great personalities from many walks of life have come and gone from this Club’s membership”… They welcomed everyone. It should also be noted, as they may not be aware, they have a whole host of imitators that hope their coffee club is as successful and meaningful as theirs. Hopefully, they know this is the sincerest form of flattery.

Our budding club has grown accustomed to meeting as often as we can. Just like this wonderful group of men, we would love to meet five days a week but sometimes work, family, ball games, travel and other obligations get in our way. But, we always find the time to connect over ground coffee beans and boiling water. We rotate house to house and we are working on building our own set of Bylaws that include a relaxed dress code, a make-up free face and It is automatically deemed a “no judgement zone”. We do not expect a clean house or well-behaved children when we arrive.

Coffee truly has a way of bringing people together.

Some might say it has never been about the coffee as much as it has been about the fellowship and sharing with friends. It has grown into an event where time slows down and nothing else matters except for the conversations had amongst friends. We were built for fellowship and not isolation from others. Quiet time is always good but fellowship with others is where we connect and show love to the people that God has put in our path.

We grow as humans when we connect with others on a deeper level.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35

NSU Football: Spring in the fall? Demons open fall workouts

In most years what transpired on the Turpin Stadium turf Wednesday afternoon and evening would be considered typical.

However, 2020 has been anything but typical, which is why more than 100 Northwestern State football players spent two-plus hours letting out months of pent-up feelings as they went through the first of 15 “fall ball” practices.

“It’s just good to be out here,” said third-year head coach Brad Laird. “The weather’s great. We have 110 guys who put a lot of focus and energy into day one. I’ve got to credit the players and coaches to have the opportunity to be out here doing what they love. It’s fall ball, but it’s not spring practice. It’s different.

“We’re used to practicing this time of year, but without competition on Saturday, it’s different, but you couldn’t tell that from our guys.”

The Demons went through 24 periods of workouts in soft shells, gathering as a group for a true practice for the first time since mid-March when the novel coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic short-circuited college athletics.

Northwestern State players reported for fall camp Aug. 4 before learning their fall schedule would be postponed until the spring. The Demons and six other Southland Conference schools will play a six-game conference schedule from Feb. 20-April 10.

That date was on Laird’s mind when he told the team after the workout, “everything we do is to make sure we are the best football team on Feb. 20.” The Demons open the spring season that day at Lamar.

The seven-month layoff erased fall camp and left NSU in an uncertain position, but it took just one day of practice to rekindle the players’ emotions.

“It felt more like a spring practice, because we haven’t been out on the field for so long,” said senior linebacker Blake Stephenson. “It felt good to be back, competing with a lot of energy. All around it was a good day.”

Stephenson missed the first eight games of the 2019 season after undergoing shoulder surgery, something that prepared him to deal with the pandemic-induced lack of practice.

“I don’t take this game for granted anymore,” he said. “It’s a blessing to be out here competing. We’ve got a good group of guys out here who are ready to play a football game. We haven’t been able to practice, so it’s good to be out here.”

The Demons will return to practice Friday at 2 p.m. and hold their third workout Sunday at 2 p.m. inside Turpin Stadium.

Much like a typical spring practice, there will be scrimmages mixed in among the 15 workouts.

While Stephenson said Wednesday’s workout had the feel of spring practice, at least one Demon disagreed.

“It felt like a fall practice, like we were in season,” said junior receiver Coby McGee.

McGee added the Demons have taken a positive approach to their unique situation.

“It’s a challenge, but maybe it’s a blessing in disguise,” he said. “We see it through a good lens. We have a love for football and a love for each other. We’re not playing in the fall, but we’ll get an opportunity to play in the spring.”

Photo: Offensive line coach J Pond watches his players during Wednesday’s workout at Turpin Stadium. Credit: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services

LWFC Chairman Pleased With Court Decision Barring California From Banning Sale of Louisiana Alligator Products

The chairman of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission (LWFC) praised a federal court’s ruling to enjoin California from enforcing the statutory ban on the importation, sale and possession of alligator and crocodile products in the state.

The California law criminalizes the sale and possession of alligator and crocodile parts in California. The ban would have had far-reaching, negative consequences for Louisiana’s huge alligator farming industry, estimated to be worth more than $100 million annually to the state’s economy.

“We are encouraged by the court’s decision. We know this is the first step and not the last. But it gives Louisiana’s vital alligator industry the ability to continue operating in California and beyond,” said Bill Hogan, chairman of the LWFC.

Judge Kimberly Mueller of the U.S. District Court for California’s Eastern District issued the ruling earlier this week, indicating that there are serious questions as to whether federal laws regulating the sale and importation of crocodilian species, preempts the California law, such that a preliminary injunction is warranted. The ruling also found that implementation of the law would cause significant and irreparable economic harm to Louisiana’s alligator industry.

California may appeal the decision.

The Louisiana Attorney General’s office, representing the LWFC, joined plaintiffs from the alligator industry in filing suit in December of 2019 challenging California’s ban, which had been scheduled to take effect on the first of this year. As a result of these law suits, the court issued a temporary restraining order on December 27, 2019 prohibiting enforcement of the California ban.

If the ban on alligator products had been imposed, Louisiana’s alligator industry would have lost California’s lucrative high-end fashion market for the sale of skins used for shoes, boots and handbags, which is a major source of revenue. It would have also deprived the industry from using California ports as a method of international distribution, specifically to Asia.

Louisiana’s alligator industry, under the guidance of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and its restoration programs, has brought the alligator population from near extinction to nearly 3 million alligators in the wild and on farms in Louisiana.

Notice of Death – October 15, 2020

Daniel John Dupree
May 05, 1957 – October 10, 2020
Service: Saturday, October 17 at 11 am at the St Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, located at 911 5th Street in Natchitoches

Ken Babers
October 15, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Billie Hayes
October 14, 2020
Arrangements TBA

David Wayne Hicks
March 27, 1959 – October 08, 2020
Service: Saturday, October 17 at 2 pm at Coldwater Baptist Church in the Hagewood community

Jeannie Rachal
October 6, 2020
Service: Saturday, October 17 at 11 am in the Winnfield Memorial Funeral Home Chapel, located at 318 North Street in Natchitoches

Martin Luther Howard Sr.
November 7, 1920 – October 1, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Vanilla Hardy
May 11, 1970 – September 23, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Dwight Alton Callender
June 30, 1939 – October 13, 2020
Service: Friday, October 16 at 11 am at First Baptist Church of Winnfield

Douglas Ladrell Taylor
October 11, 1978 – October 9, 2020
Service: Saturday, October 17 at 2 pm in the Winnfield Memorial Funeral Home Chapel, located at 117 MLK Drive in Winnfield

Ida “Beth” Elizabeth Swanson
May 11, 1939 – October 11, 2020
Service: Friday, October 16 at 2 pm at the Garden of Memories Cemetery in Winnfield

Lawrence Ralph Joyner
February 10, 1946 – October 14, 2020
Service: Saturday, October 17 at 1 pm at Mr. Joyner’s residence (893 Morgan Quick Road, Ashland, LA 71002)

Myrle Ike Carlisle
April 13, 1940 – October 14, 2020
Service: Sunday, October 18 at 2 pm at Rockett-Nettles Funeral Home Chapel


There are seven (7) constitutional amendments to the Louisiana Constitution that will be on the ballot for the November 3, 2020 election. Listed below are each amendment and an explanation of what a yes (for) or no (against) vote means.

Amendment 1 “Do you support an amendment declaring that, to
protect human life, a right to abortion and the funding of abortion
shall not be found in the Louisiana Constitution?”

State that nothing in the Constitution protects a right to abortion.
Leave the Constitution with no specific language on abortion.

Amendment 2 “Do you support an amendment to permit the
presence or production of oil or gas to be included in the methodology
used to determine the fair market value of an oil or gas well for the
purpose of property assessment?”

Allow for a well’s oil and gas production when valuing it for property tax assessment.
Keep the current methods of oil and gas well assessment.

Amendment 3 “Do you support an amendment to allow for the
use of the Budget Stabilization Fund, also known as the Rainy Day
Fund, for state costs associated with a disaster declared by the
federal government?”

Allow the Budget Stabilization Fund to be tapped when there is a federally declared disaster.
Continue to restrict use of the Budget Stabilization Fund to revenue shortfalls.

Amendment 4 “Do you support an amendment to limit the
growth of the expenditure limit for the state general fund and
dedicated funds and to remove the calculation of its growth factor
from the Constitution?”

Create a new state budget spending limit with probable slower growth.
Continue the current method for an expenditure limit.

Amendment 5 “Do you support an amendment to authorize local
governments to enter into cooperative endeavor ad valorem tax
exemption agreements with new or expanding manufacturing
establishments for payments in lieu of taxes?”

Provide new options for manufacturers and local governments to schedule payments instead of property taxes for industrial expansions.
Leave the current system as the only set of options for property taxes, payments or exemptions for manufacturers.

Amendment 6 “Do you support an amendment to increase the
maximum amount of income a person may receive and still qualify
for the special assessment level for residential property receiving
the homestead exemption?”

Allow homeowners with higher incomes to qualify for the property tax assessment freeze.
Keep the current income threshold for property tax freezes.

Amendment 7 “Do you support an amendment to create the
Louisiana Unclaimed Property Permanent Trust Fund to preserve the
money that remains unclaimed by its owner or owners?”

Protect unclaimed property money in a new trust fund.
Keep the current program that benefits the state general fund.

Proposition Shall sports wagering activities and operations be
permitted in the parish of Winn?

Permit sports wagering in the voter’s parish.
Forbid sports wagering in the voter’s parish.

For an independent, non-partisan review of the amendments click below to read the Public Affairs Research Council’s PAR Guide to the 2020
Constitutional Amendments.

Ian’s Intervention

By Brad Dison

In March of 1974, 26-year-old Ian Ball hatched a terrible plan. He rented a white Ford Escort under the name of John Williams, a most common name, and collected four sets of handcuffs, Valium tranquilizers, a large caliber revolver pistol, a small caliber revolver pistol, spare ammunition, and a pair of gloves. Owning firearms in England required special permits and licenses which Ian did not possess. He prepared a rambling ransom note in which he ultimately requested £2 million in £5bills. The demand specified that the money was to be delivered in 400,000 £5 bills. He demanded that the money be placed in twenty suitcases and put on a specific airplane for Switzerland. In addition to the money, he requested that Queen Elizabeth II appear on the plane in person to sign some paperwork which he deemed necessary. Ian was unaware that the Queen was in Indonesia on a State visit. Ian Ball was mentally ill.

Shortly before 8 p.m. on March 20, 1974, newlyweds Mark and his wife Anne, along with Alexander, James, and Georgina, were returning to Anne’s mother’s home from a nearby movie theater. About 200 yards from her Anne’s mother’s home, a white Ford Escort sped past them. Suddenly, the driver of the Ford Escort slammed on the brakes and swerved the car in front of them. Alexander had only a split second to respond. He slammed on the brakes and brought their car to a screeching halt just inches from the Ford Escort.

A young man with light red hair and matching beard exited the Ford Escort and walked toward their car with a pistol in each hand. It was Ian Ball. James exited the car under the assumption that something Alexander had done while driving had upset the driver of the Ford Escort. James’s plan was to try to diffuse the situation. James held his hands in front of Ian to show that he was not a threat and tried to speak with Ian. From a distance of about six feet, Ian shot James in his right shoulder. James, who had the proper licensing to possess and carry a gun, returned fire. James was right-handed and the gunshot to his right shoulder weakened his grip. His shot missed Ian. James’s weakened grip caused his automatic pistol to jam.

With James no longer a threat, Ian turned his attention to the occupants of the car. He went to the rear door on the driver’s side and tried to open it. Mark and Anne struggled to hold the door closed. Ian ordered, “Open, or I’ll shoot!” Georgina opened the rear passenger door and ran from the car. James, unable to clear his jammed pistol, jumped into the car through the door Georgina had opened. He saw Ian raise the pistol toward the window and instinctively jumped in between the gunman and Mark and Anne. Ian fired into the car. The bullet shattered the window and struck James in the hand. Ian fired another shot into the car which struck James and knocked him back out of the passenger side rear door. Alexander exited from the driving position of the car to confront Ian. Ian shot Alexander in the chest. Alexander fell back into the driver’s seat. Ian turned back to the two remaining uninjured occupants of the car, Mark and Anne.

Ian opened the rear driver’s side door, grabbed Anne’s forearm, and began pulling. Mark grabbed her wrist and pulled in the opposite direction. Ian was paying little attention to Mark. He said to Anne, “Please, come out. You’ve got to come.” Anne replied, “Not bloody likely.” Ian persisted but Anne was determined not to exit the car. During Ian’s and Mark’s tug-of-war over Anne, her dress split down the back. Rather than panicking, Anne had “a very irritating conversation” with Ian.

Police constable Michael Hills was patrolling on foot nearby and heard the screeching tires and the gunshots. He was the first officer on the scene. Assuming that the quarrel was over a traffic accident, the unarmed officer approached Ian. He touched Ian’s shoulder and Ian shot P.C. Hills in the stomach. Before collapsing onto the pavement, P.C. Hills radioed into the station that he had been shot.

The gunshots got the attention of everyone in the area. Ronald Russell, a 6’4” former boxer, was driving home from work when he saw Ian shoot P.C. Hills. He pulled his vehicle to the side of the road and walked to the scene. Meanwhile, Glenmore Martin positioned his car in front of Ian’s car to prevent him from escaping in it. Glenmore exited the car and tried to approach Ian, but Ian aimed a pistol at him. John McConnell, a journalist for the Daily Mail, approached and tried to reason with Ian. John said “Don’t be silly, old boy. Put the gun down.” Ian shot him. The journalist fell to the pavement. As Ian turned his attention back to Anne, Ronald stealthily approached Ian from behind. The former boxer punched Ian in the back of the head. Stunned, Ian lost his grip on Anne.

Anne quickly backed out of the passenger side of the car. Ian escaped Ronald’s grasp and ran around the car to get to Anne. Anne quickly jumped back into the car with Mark and shut the door. Ian struggled to open the door. He noticed that more policemen had arrived and realized his plan had failed. Anne watched as Ian nervously scanned the area for an escape route. When Anne noticed that Ian had spotted a clear route away from the scene, she yelled through the window, “Go on. Now’s your chance.” Ian ran. Policeman Peter Edmonds heard P.C. Hills’s radio call for help and arrived in time to see Ian fleeing the scene. He took chase and quickly tackled Ian in what one witness called “a splendid rugby tackle.” While searching Ian’s rented car they found the handcuffs, tranquilizers, and ransom note.

Ian eventually pled guilty to attempted murder and kidnapping charges, and received a life sentence in a mental health facility. Nine years later, Ian wrote a letter to a member of the British Parliament in which he claimed that the whole incident had been a hoax. Ian also claimed that he had been framed. Ian remains in a mental health facility.

The Queen awarded medals to the people who protected the would-be kidnap victims. James Beaton received the George Cross, the highest award for courage. P.C. Hills and Ronald Russell received the George Medal, the second-highest civilian award for bravery. P.C. Edmonds, John McConnell and Alexander Callender received the Queen’s Gallantry Medals, the third-highest civilian award for bravery. She awarded Glenmore Martin with the Queen’s Commendation for Brave Conduct. During the ceremony, as the Queen presented Ronald Russell with the George Cross medal, she said, “This medal is from the Queen of England, the thank you is from Anne’s Mother.” Anne, Princess Anne, is Queen Elizabeth II’s only daughter. The Queen’s home, Buckingham Palace, was the group’s destination when Ian intervened.

1. The Guardian (London, England), March 21, 1974, p.1.
2. Social Security Administration. “Top 5 Names in Each of the Last 100 Years.” Accessed October 2, 2020.
3. Hagen, Carrie. “The Bloody Attempt to Kidnap a British Princess.” Smithsonian Magazine. Accessed October 2, 2020.


Judge Barrett Faces Anti-Christian Bigotry

By Royal Alexander/Opinion

The cesspool of our American culture is not the result of too much God, faith, or religion, but too little.

With the pending confirmation hearing of nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, it is appropriate to review what our Constitution says about religion.

The first two religious safeguards are contained in the First Amendment: “Congress (i.e. government) shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion … or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

American history makes clear that what the Framers of our Constitution meant by prohibiting an “establishment of religion” was only that there was to be no formal state religion to which all citizens were forced to conform and adhere. That’s it. However, what we see in our country today is a brazen and reflexive hostility to any notion of religion, particularly Christianity. This is a perverse distortion of the Framers’ intent.
The second safeguard prohibits government from limiting or inhibiting our “free exercise” of religion, as well as the freedom not to worship.
The third religious safeguard is less well known but specifically relevant to the confirmation hearing of Judge Barrett. It is contained in Article VI. “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” This also means no religious test may be used as a disqualification of an individual, either!

National media and the cultural elite often mock and ridicule Americans who worship and strive to live out their faith. They view faith, religion, and the worship of God in much the same way the atheist, communist Karl Marx did, as “the opiate of the masses.” The New York Times has admitted, in a rare and striking moment of candor, “we don’t get religion.”
But what about Judge Barrett’s right to free exercise of religion? What about her right not to have shoved in her face a secular, humanistic, and valueless cultural “establishment” that predominates among our national elite? What about her right not to be disqualified from a position on the Supreme Court as the Left applies a religious litmus test to oppose her simply because she is a devout Christian Catholic?

Judge Barrett is now accused of being an “extremist” because she has been a part of People of Praise, a closely-knit religious group that encourages its members to strive together for a greater holiness in their lives. Media has falsely stated that People of Praise was the basis of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.” It’s not but we will never see a retraction of this smear.
She’s also begun to be attacked for a comment she made in a speech she gave years ago that “a legal career is but a means to an end… and that end is building the Kingdom of God.” This is a typical, ordinary expression of a sincerely held religious belief that any believer—Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, or Muslim—would identify with as the purpose of their faith.
In short, the Left will try anything to make her appear “kooky” or “weird” in an attempt to justify opposition to her nomination, ignoring the fact she is a highly-qualified jurist and possesses a once-in-a-generation legal mind.

In her previous confirmation hearing to the appeals court Judge Barrett was grilled by one senator who stated about her deep faith “the dogma lives loudly within you”; another senator asked whether she was an “orthodox” Catholic, which means he actually wanted to know “how Catholic are you”; (Imagine the outrage if a senator asked a nominee of Jewish faith “how Jewish are you”? Or someone of Muslim faith “how Muslim are you”? However, it’s still perfectly acceptable to smear and scapegoat Christians).
For context, Sen. Kamala Harris also previously attacked a different nominee for being an “extremist” because he was a member of the Catholic religious group, Knights of Columbus, which closely follows Church teaching—meaning it opposes abortion and gay marriage.

Our religious freedoms and protections are as clear as they are fundamental and we should demand they be followed for Judge Barrett, or next it may be one of us, a neighbor, or a friend who is applying for a loan, seeking a job or applying to college who is discriminated against because of our faith.


The views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Sabine Parish Journal. If you have an article or story of interest for publishing consideration by the SPJ, please send it to

Notice of Death – October 13, 2020

David Wayne Hicks
March 27, 1959 – October 08, 2020
Service: Saturday, October 17 at 2 pm at Coldwater Baptist Church in the Hagewood community

Ann Gibson Duke
July 29, 1938 – October 12, 2020
Service: Thursday, October 15 at 10 am at the First United Methodist Church in Natchitoches

Jeannie Rachal
October 6, 2020
Service: Saturday, October 17 at 11 am in the Winnfield Memorial Funeral Home Chapel, located at 318 North Street in Natchitoches

Martin Luther Howard Sr.
November 7, 1920 – October 1, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Vanilla Hardy
May 11, 1970 – September 23, 2020
Arrangements TBA

A tropical storm and flash flood watch in effect

According to the National Weather Service in Shreveport, confidence is building in Hurricane Delta’s track.

A tropical storm and flash flood watch in effect for Natchitoches, Sabine, Grant, Winn, LaSalle and Caldwell Parishes.

Jackson, Lincoln, Union and Quachita Parishes are also listed in the flash flood watch.

Hurricane Delta is expected to be a Category 2 hurricane at landfall on Friday evening.

4-8 inches of heavy rainfall will be possible in the ArkLaMiss and central Louisiana late Thursday into Saturday. Localized amounts up to 10″ inches are possible in Grant and LaSalle Parishes.

2-4 inches of rainfall can be expected for northwest Louisiana, Deep East Texas and southwestern Arkansas with isolated heavier amounts possible.
A more westward track would increase rainfall amounts and the potential for flash flooding.

The strongest winds will move across central Louisiana and ArkLaMiss Friday night into early Saturday morning with the system quickly moving out of the area.

Winds of 30-40 mph with gusts up to 55 mph will lead to the possibility of uprooted trees and power outages by Saturday morning.
If the track shifts further west, downed trees and power outages will be a concern.

You still have time to prepare before the system arrives in our area.
Be prepared, have a game plan with a flashlight, batteries, food, water, important documents, medicine and other essential items readily available if needed.

Fuel your vehicles in case of power outages.

If you use a generator, do not use it indoors. Leave it in an open exterior area to prevent carbon monoxide positioning which can be deadly.

FSA Announces Hurricane Laura Assistance in Eligible Parishes

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Louisiana is accepting applications for the Emergency Conservation program (ECP) and Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP) to address damages from Hurricane Laura. The deadline to apply is Dec. 7, 2020.

“Documentation before and after a disaster is of utmost importance when applying for assistance. Taking photos and keeping good records of land, crops, livestock and equipment will help you recoup some of your losses,” said Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M.

FSA is accepting ECP applications in these eligible parishes: Acadia, Allen, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Calcasieu, Cameron, Catahoula, DeSoto, Evangeline, Franklin, Grant, Iberia, Jackson, Jeff Davis, Lincoln, Natchitoches, Rapides, Red River, Sabine, St. Landry, Union, Vernon, and Winn parishes.

ECP assists with the cost to restore damaged farmland to pre-disaster conditions.

FSA is also accepting EFRP applications in these eligible parishes: Allen, Beauregard, Bienville, Caddo, Calcasieu, Claiborne, Evangeline, Grant, Jackson, LaSalle, Lincoln, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Rapides, Red River, Sabine, Union, Vernon, Webster, and Winn parishes.

EFRP provides payments to eligible owners of nonindustrial private forest (NIPF) land to enable them to carry out emergency measures to restore land damaged by a natural disaster. Eligible forest restoration practices include debris removal, planting materials and labor to replant forest land.

For more information, visit or contact your local FSA office.

Update #2: SWEPCO Urges Customers to Prepare for Hurricane Delta

Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO) urges customers to prepare for the possibility of multi-day power outages in the wake of Hurricane Delta.

Widespread, damaging wind gusts and heavy rains are forecast for Friday and Saturday in parts of Central and Northwest Louisiana and East Texas – the same areas battered by Hurricane Laura in August.

“If Hurricane Delta makes landfall with storm strength as predicted, it may take several days for electric service to be restored,” said Drew Seidel, SWEPCO vice president of Distribution Region Operations. “If you or a family member relies on uninterrupted electric service for health reasons, make a plan now in case there are extended outages.”

SWEPCO has called in 1,100 line, tree and support personnel from eight states to respond to outages. The company is preparing to set up two base camps in Central Louisiana to house approximately 800 workers. Additional workers will be lodged across the Ark-La-Tex.

“We’re implementing the lessons the SWEPCO Team learned from Hurricane Laura to ensure we restore power safely and quickly,” Seidel said.

How SWEPCO Restores Power

Immediately after the storm, field personnel will begin clearing downed power lines and other hazards and assessing damage. Report hazards by calling 1-888-218-3919. Treat all downed lines as dangerous and energized.

“Our first priority remains restoring power to essential public health and safety facilities such as hospitals and police and fire stations,” Seidel said.

As damage assessment proceeds, workers will repair major power lines that restore power to the largest number of customers in the shortest time. Crews will fix power lines and equipment that serve multiple customers, and then individual service lines to homes and businesses.

“You may see a truck stop briefly and then leave; this crew is usually assessing damage,” Seidel said. “Once damage is assessed, other crews will be dispatched to restore power. We appreciate your patience throughout this process.”

Five Storm Preparation Tips

1. All power lines should be considered energized and dangerous. Although a downed line may look harmless, it could be carrying electricity. Don’t touch anything in contact with the line, such as trees, fences, or water puddles. Stay away and keep children and pets away from downed lines. Report downed lines immediately to SWEPCO at 1-888-218-3919.

2. If you use a portable or RV generator, do not plug the generator into your circuit box. Portable generators can “backfeed” electricity up the line and risk the lives of repair workers and the public. Follow the manufacturers’ instructions carefully, and plug essential appliances directly into the generator.

3. Be extremely careful when using any alternate forms of cooling, heating, cooking and lighting.

4. During an outage, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep cold air inside. Check out sources of ice or dry ice, if needed. Food should stay frozen for 36 to 48 hours in a fully loaded freezer, 24 hours in a half-full freezer – if you keep the door closed.

5. Customers who are on life support systems or need uninterrupted electric service for health reasons should make alternate arrangements in preparation for potential power outages.

Working Safely

Workers are practicing social distancing and other measures to stay healthy and prevent the spread of coronavirus, making the recovery effort especially challenging.

Maintain at least six feet of physical distance between yourself and SWEPCO field personnel as we all play a crucial role in preventing the spread of coronavirus.

Also, be careful when driving or walking in all utility crew work zones.

More information on what do to prepare for an outage may be found at

Reporting and Tracking Outages

Use the SWEPCO app, available for download via the App Store or Google Play.

Log on to to report an outage and sign up for text and email updates, including an estimated time of restoration.

Visit to find detailed information without logging into your account

Call 1-888-218-3919 to report your outage. During and immediately after the storm, customers are asked to call the Customer Solution Center only to report downed power lines and other situations that could pose a safety threat.

Notice of Death – October 8, 2020

Olin Dean Dyes
April 8, 1941 – October 8, 2020
Service: Monday, October 12 at 2 pm at Old Pisgah Baptist Church

Brenda Elaine Devaney of Florien, Louisiana
January 5, 1943 – September 30, 2020
Service: Saturday October, 10 at 11 am at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church

Waverlyn Louise Maroney Wilson
May 14, 1947 – October 07, 2020
Service: Monday, October 12 at 12 pm at Beulah Methodist Church in Marthaville

John Sykes
April 18, 1945 – September 17, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Theresa Sykes
December 5, 1965 – October 3, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Janice “Jan” Anne Broderick
December 30, 1933 – October 05, 2020
Because of continuing COVID-19 restrictions, the family will hold a private memorial at a later date.

Jeannie Rachal
October 6, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Martin Luther Howard Sr.
November 7, 1920 – October 1, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Vanilla Hardy
May 11, 1970 – September 23, 2020
Arrangements TBA

James Jay McGuffee
April 06, 1958 – October 05, 2020
Service: Friday, October 9 at 1 pm at the Temple Baptist Church in Jena

The NO Zwolle Tamale Fiesta 2020

Even though there’s no Tamale Fiesta this year, you can still come to the Tamale Drive-Thru on Main Street in Zwolle, Saturday, October 10, 9am-3pm, to satisfy your tamale cravings & stock up for the holidays

Tamales are a perfect treat that can be frozen, steamed & even microwaved!! Come stock up for the holidays!

SPSO: Maintaining a close working releationship

This morning, Sheriff Mitchell and his Command Staff and Detectives had a meeting with all of the local Chiefs of Police. The meeting was to discuss crime in each city, among other issues, and what the Sheriff’s Office could do to help. Sheriff Mitchell’s goal is to keep a close working relationship with each police department in the parish and share information about crime, esp. narcotics activity. Project Celebration, Inc was also in attendance to discuss domestic violence and sexual assault protocols. They also provided brunch. A big thanks to everyone in attendance for coming together.

SPSO: Items found in field

Sheriff Mitchell reports that early this morning approximately 30 first responders, deputies, officers and cadaver dogs searched the wooded area and field between Many Walmart and Patrick-Miller Tractor Co. Leggings, believed to have been purchased at Walmart, shoes, a face-mask and a $5 bill were located scattered in the wooded area. These items are believed to belong to Taylor Nichols. Investigation is ongoing.

Hazardous Weather Outlook for as Hurricane Delta enters Gulf of Mexico

Wednesday through Monday…

The forecast track for Hurricane Delta has shifted westward over the last 24 hours, which may result in more impacts to the North Central Louisiana region. At this time, rainfall amounts of three to five inches, with isolated higher amounts, will be possible from Thursday through early Sunday morning, as the center of Delta moves just to the south and east. Although some isolated instances of flash flooding cannot be ruled out, widespread flash flooding is not expected at this time. Through the next couple of days if the trend of a more western track continues with Hurricane Delta, this would obviously result in higher rainfall totals and stronger winds. This will continue to be monitored through the week.

Letter to the Editor: Democracy and the Blending of Views

In the book Political Culture and Democracy in Developing Countries, edited by Larry Diamond, the authors explain that democracy is more than elections and voting and more than free speech and civil liberties. Democracy is first of all a blending of views that partially satisfies everyone.

To picture the operation of a single-party nation, imagine if the U.S. had only the Democratic party or only the Republican party–and the other was outlawed. Within single-party nations, a single party controls governmental plans and actions and might either jail opponents or end their professional career. Democratic nations have multiple parties and interest groups who propose policies and then conduct debate and compromise until a consensus is constructed. In this way, the views, priorities, and agenda of no single person or group can monopolize the goals and actions of the government. Much of daily politicking, including public statements and television ads, consists of the attempt to persuade a sufficient number of others that a specific action should be taken by the nation. This is often done by spreading a certain perception. It is said that in politics, perception is an important and powerful reality. The political process in the U.S. has become the science of getting one’s way. In recent decades, the majority party in the U.S. House and Senate have tried to limit the participation of the minority party in the legislative process. The majority hopes to get its way by taking us toward single party rule between elections.

Power within the federal government of the U.S. is spread among five hundred legislators and numerous judges along with the president. We learned the hard way through previous centuries that this blending of views and spreading of power was needed to avoid having a single person dictate policy and actions for his or her own benefit.

In The Power Game, Hedrick Smith explains that in the U.S. today, we vote for president as if we are voting for the person who can dictate all laws, policies, and actions, but the president has to convince the legislatures to agree. He recommends that we ask presidential candidates not only to state their goals but to also explain how the legislatures will be convinced to go along. The president can set the agenda and tone of the nation.
With each of the following statements about democratic culture, decide how well it describes the people of your nation. Citizens of a democratic culture have a tolerance for different views and lifestyles and believe in the right of dissent. Undemocratic citizens might instead accuse dissenters of being unpatriotic. Citizens of a monarchy have confidence in benevolent kings and queens and say “I don’t worry about unemployment figures or the price of food because the king and queen take care of those things for me.” In contrast, the members of a democracy distrust power and instead trust in the motives and intelligence of fellow citizens. Democratic citizens have an ever-watchful attitude toward authority rather than blind submission or a fatalistic acceptance of the actions of the leaders and the rules of the state. Citizens have an intelligent distrust of leadership but they are not hostile toward it. Authority must be questioned and challenged so that it does not become dictatorial, but it must also be supported or it will dissolve.

Democracy is most appropriate and durable in a nation whose citizens have a working knowledge of politics, participate in political affairs, form political opinions and then express them through participation in public debates and organizations, and have political beliefs and attitudes rather than apathy toward everything political. If 90% of citizens pay no attention to politics for fifty years then they might wake up and find themselves in a dictatorship. Citizens of a stable democracy have a belief in the legitimacy of the state rather than say “that person is not my leader.” Citizens of a stable democracy consider education for all to be beneficial to the nation as a whole, desire economic development, have interpersonal trust for the other members, do not view government as a caring and trusted parent or as an institution that has the divine right to rule, have goals for the nation, reject revolutionary change and instead use the existing system to make changes, want to cooperate and compromise rather than suffer civil war, and have trust in their mutually beneficial system and gain enough personal satisfaction from its existence to support it while it is temporarily performing poorly–for example, during an economic recession.

Restraining one’s ideology allows results to occur; otherwise, there is nothing but deadlock. It is undemocratic behavior for citizens to be uncompromising and demand that their own view be imposed on everyone else. When too many citizens believe that “only my way is right and I won’t compromise” then civil war might occur. Such extremes are being grown by TV and internet personalities that sensationalize stories to reap their own profit. Civil war ends when everyone becomes so tired of daily death and suffering that compromise is seen to be not so bad after all. Democracy limits not only the pace of change but its magnitude, too. Compromise makes all parties partial winners rather than having clear winners and clear losers.

Democratic citizens believe that the state is responsive to their requests, but they must participate in the debate before they can measure the responsiveness of their system. The more involved are the citizens, the stronger will be their democracy.

Citizens are their own bosses and critics. Citizen-critics loudly judge the performance of bureaucratic government in socialization, education, economic growth, social reform, the maintenance of law and order, its respect for the rules of the game, and its ability to govern invisibly and to achieve legitimacy.

The only form of government that seems natural to people is that in which they grew, whether it is a kingdom, dictatorship, theocracy, or democracy. For this reason, it takes one or two generations for a people to believe in a new type of government–force never works. Democracy can not be forced on to a people by simply telling them that today, you will have elections and free speech. Instead, democracy’s blending of views has to be part of the life and culture of a group of people.

How well do you rate the level of performance of your fellow citizens and government today? Our political leaders can explain to citizens that compromise makes democracy function but instead they take advice from political marketers who tell them to appear “committed and uncompromising.” This is actually undemocratic behavior.

Robert Dalling, Ph.D.