View Big Boy No. 4014 as it passes through Natchitoches – TODAY!

The Big Boy No. 4014, the world’s largest steam locomotive, is rolling out on tour August 5, 2021 through 10 states, beginning in Cheyenne, Wyoming!

The Big Boy weighs 1.2 million pounds and rode the rails from 1941-1961, going more than one million miles.

You can see this amazing steam locomotive in person as it passes through Natchitoches. A short stop is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 23 from 1:30-2:15 pm at the Trudeau Street crossing. Scheduled stops are subject to change.

TIME CHANGE:  Now Estimated to arrive at 3:00pm

Share the adventure with us August 22, 2021, as we trace the route of Missouri Pacific’s iconic Louisiana Daylight and Louisiana Limited train service, north along the Mississippi River from New Orleans, LA, and over the historic Huey P. Long bridge on heritage passenger equipment pulled by Union Pacific’s steam locomotive “Big Boy,” No. 4014.

This excursion is the annual gala fundraiser for the Union Pacific Museum, a 501 c 3 organization, and passengers must be 18 years or older to ride. This is a rare opportunity for the public to travel behind this historic locomotive.
Big Boy No. 4014 was delivered to Union Pacific in December 1941. The locomotive was retired in December 1961, having traveled 1,031,205 miles in its 20 years in service. Union Pacific reacquired No. 4014 from the RailGiants Museum in Pomona, California, in 2013, and relocated it back to Cheyenne to begin a multi-year restoration process. It returned to service in May 2019 to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad’s Completion.

Full Schedule:

LASHOF & NWLA History Museum Our Mammy’s program this Saturday

Join us at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum as Gaynell Brady, founder/educator of Our Mammy’s, shares the stories of African Americans in Louisiana through the lens of her ancestors. The Perseverance Wagon program explores the lives of African Americans in Louisiana during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Participants will learn about education on plantations, the ways enslaved people sought freedom, and the things free people did after their emancipation through hands-on activities. This educational program is geared for families and children ages six and older and accompanied by an adult.

State regulations regarding masks and physical distancing will be followed.

Please visit our website or call (318) 357-2492 for more information.

Free and open to the public.

This project was supported through funding provided by Cane River National Heritage Area, Inc. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of Cane River National Heritage Area, Inc.

Event: Our Mammy’s Perseverance Wagon:

The first program in a three-part series

Date: Saturday, August 21, 2021

Time: 2:00-3:30 pm

Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum
800 Front Street
Natchitoches, LA 71457

The Demons’ Second Scrimmage: Hard Work, Dedication and Preparation!

The NSU Football Team has been relentlessly focused on a singular goal, victory, since their first day reporting back to campus. This Sunday, August 22, marked their second scrimmage. The Demons came out 99 men strong to learn, prepare and get better under fourth year Coach Brad Laird and his staff. The team played game scenarios under “live” conditions, with the situation unfolding as it may, with officials calling as in an actual game. 

The Demon football team has been putting forth a tremendous amount of effort into preparing for the upcoming season. In the weight room, team meetings and in the brutal heat of the summer sun beating on Turpin Stadium’s AstroTurf, the players are putting in the work necessary to succeed. 

The Demons’ first game will be in Denton, Texas vs. the University of North Texas. Their home opener will be Saturday, September 18 at 6:00 against the University of Texas at Martin. Come on out and enjoy some hard-hitting Division I football, all in our local area. It is an amazing opportunity not every community enjoys. Take advantage of it!

The Natchitoches Parish Journal wishes to extend its best wishes to the Demons for a safe and successful season. Fork ’em Demons!

Kids can play with the stars at LSHOF’s Junior Training Camp

Kids who dream of playing in the pros – or, kids who just love to play – can get registered now for the free Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Junior Training Camp next Saturday morning.

Parents can visit the website, or call 318-238-4255, to complete a registration and waiver form for the JTC, which provides two hours of full throttle fun alongside Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame members and NSU coaches.

The camp runs from 9-11 a.m., starting with registration between 8-9 a.m. at the Webb Wellness and Recreation Center (WRAC) gymnasium. At 9 a.m., campers get introduced to the sports stars who will be coaching them for the next two hours, inside focusing on basketball skills, and outside at Turpin Stadium, with football instruction.

Kids ages 7-17 are welcomed. The registration and waiver form should be filled out before next Saturday. The camp is open until filled to 300 capacity and anyone who registers after capacity is reached will be on a waiting list.

The event is presented by the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office and Natchitoches Regional Medical Center. Every camper gets a free T-shirt and a coupon for a meal at Raisin’ Canes. Photos from the camp will be posted on the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Facebook page.

The goals of the JTC are simple – a fun, and thrilling, experience for the kids, free of charge; skills instruction from some of the best to ever play, or coach, the games; and promotion of health lifestyles and positive life choices.

The campers are separated into two groups. One stays inside for the first hour for basketball instruction, while the other is next door at Turpin Stadium, having football fun and getting individual skill instruction. The groups switch locations in the second half of the camp.

The kids will enjoy a star-studded lineup of celebrity coaches, including:

New Orleans Saints all-time receiving leader Marcus Colston;

The most decorated defensive player in LSU football history, Glenn Dorsey, a nine-year NFL veteran;

Major League Baseball All-Star infielder Rickie Weeks, the college baseball player of the year for the Southern Jaguars before 14 big league seasons;

LSU basketball All-American and NBA sharpshooter Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, formerly Chris Jackson during his college days with the Tigers;

36-time NCAA championship-winning track and field coach Pat Henry, who built LSU’s powerhouse program;

One of the 11 greatest pitchers in college softball history, Courtney Blades Rogers.

Several past Hall of Fame inductees are also expected to be there.

Parents are welcome to watch, and take photos and video.

The website has the full schedule for the Induction Celebration next Thursday through Saturday night.

Presidential Search Committee will meet Aug. 24

The Board of Supervisors of the Louisiana System have appointed a Presidential Search Committee for Northwestern State University that will host a meeting and public forum at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 24 in Magale Recital Hall.

The agenda will include roll call and introductions, charge to the committee, discussion of the search process and tentative timeline and discussion of advertisement.

The meeting is open to the NSU community and the public and will be streamed live on the UL System YouTube Channel.

UL System President and CEO Jim Henderson, a former Northwestern State president, will chair the committee as a non-voting member. The committee includes select System Board members and the Northwestern State Faculty Senate president as voting members as well as non-voting community members to serve in an advisory capacity.

The Presidential Search Committee is made up of the following members:

Dr. Jim Henderson, Search Committee Chair and University of Louisiana System President, non-voting
James Carter, UL System Board Chair
Liz Pierre, UL System Board Vice Chair
Dr. Jimmy Clarke, UL System Board Parliamentarian
L’Oreal Williams, UL System Student Board Member
Barry Busada, UL System Board Member
Lola Dunahoe, UL System Board Member
Alejandro Perkins, UL System Board Member
Joe Salter, UL System Board Member
Dr. John Dunn, NSU Faculty Senate President
William Brent, Retired Dean of NSU Creative & Performing Arts, non-voting
Dr. Nikki Ceasar-Small, NSU Alumni Association, non-voting
Tja’h Edwards, NSU SGA President, non-voting
Patricia Hrapmann, NSU Alumni Association President, non-voting
Mike Knotts, NSU Foundation, non-voting
John Manno, Jr., NSU Foundation President, non-voting
Information regarding the search will be housed on the System’s website at

President Chris Maggio retired June 1, 2021. He served as president since January 2017 and has been a member of NSU’s faculty, staff and administration for 33 years. Marcus Jones is serving as interim president.

The University of Louisiana System is the largest higher education system in Louisiana enrolling more than 92,000 students at Grambling State University, Louisiana Tech University, McNeese State University, Nicholls State University, Northwestern State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the University of Louisiana at Monroe and the University of New Orleans.

Sabine Parish Experiences Largest Increase in Active Cases Since Beginning of Pandemic

Sabine Parish has officially hit a grim milestone in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a weekly report made by the Sabine Parish Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness to show the trends in active cases and vaccinations, the numbers displayed that the parish has shown its largest increase in active cases since the start of the pandemic. 

The parish has been showing an increase of anywhere from 1 to 25 cases weekly, however, as of this week, the COIVD-19 cases are reported to be up by 219 cases from last week as of August 18th. The report can be seen below. 

Sabine Parish COVID-19 Report 8-18-21
Total Deaths-67 (up 3)
Total Vaccinated-7608 (up 466)
Total Residence percent-32%
Active Cases-351 (up219)
Many leaders of the town have continued to encourage the vaccination,  social distancing, and staying at home if there is any onset of symptoms. 

International Paper Foundation through the Mansfield Mill donates $18,000 to CLTCC’s Sabine Parish Campuses

Alexandria– International Paper Foundation, through the Mansfield Mill, has donated $9,000 to the Central Louisiana Technical Community College (CLTCC) Natchitoches and $9,000 to the Sabine Valley Campus.

Thanks to the generous ongoing support of the International Paper Foundation, students enrolled in CLTCC’s Industrial Manufacturing Technology and Electrician Technology programs will have access to state-of-the-art precision tools and trainers, which will very closely simulate that used in local business and industry. These new tools and trainers will provide for hands-on, practical learning experiences.

“The collaboration with IP is vital to the success of the programs offered at CLTCC. IP serves an integral role in helping to develop courses that are relevant to today’s jobs. With machinery rapidly evolving, this type of deeper engagement with industry partners is critical to address workforce needs and opportunities,” said CLTCC Chancellor Dr. Jimmy Sawtelle.

“We are extremely grateful to receive such a generous donation from IP,” said Natchitoches Campus Dean Laurie Morrow. “IP is a strong partner and friend to technical education and continues to support our students with their finances, time, and business expertise.”

Sabine Valley Campus Dean Gwen Fontenot added, “With the help of IP, we are able to purchase highly programmed electronic equipment for the training lab that resembles what is seen in many industrial firms in the region. Students practice troubleshooting, repairing, and maintaining various parts needed to keep the machine running smoothly and effectively, as well as enhance their communication and writing skills. We are proud to provide IP with a talent pool of graduates who are ready to succeed in the workforce.”

According to Morrow, IP has hired CLTCC Manufacturing and Electrician Technology students, served on the advisory committee for various campus programs, and conducted mock interviews to help prepare students for real job interviews.

“Our hope is that these precision tools will enhance the overall learning experience for CLTCC students,” said Michael Stewart, manager, Balance of the Plant, Mansfield. “We

understand the importance of providing students workplace-based learning to prepare them to enter the workforce.”

CLTCC offers the Advanced Manufacturing Technician program at its Natchitoches Campus along with support programs such as Air Conditioning/Refrigeration and Welding. CLTCC Sabine Valley offers Electrician Technology and Welding.

For information about enrollment at CLTCC, visit For more information, contact the school via email at or call 800-278-9855.

Pictured: CLTCC Chancellor, Dr. Jimmy Sawtelle, Sabine Valley Campus Dean Gwen Fontenot, International Paper Balance of Plant Supervisor Mike Stewart.

Drivers in Sabine Parish are Reminded to Follow All Traffic Laws Near School Buses to Keep Kids Safe

Sheriff Aaron Mitchell warned drivers to pay close attention to the traffic laws regarding school buses now that the school year has started. Obeying traffic laws as they relate to school zones and school buses protect more than just other drivers, laws like these exist to protect the children both on and off the school bus. 
According to Stanford Children’s Health, “Children can be injured when riding the bus, getting on or off the bus, or standing near the bus. More than 40 percent of school bus injuries are caused by vehicular accidents, according to a 2006 report by the Center for Innovation in Pediatric Practice (CIPP) in Columbus, Ohio.” While a large percentage of these accidents involve children while still on the bus, Stanford Children’s Health notes that “about 24 percent of injuries involve getting on or off the school bus, according to the CIPP report. Although an average of seven school-age passengers are killed in school bus crashes each year, 19 are killed getting on and off the bus, according to School Transportation News.”
Though the school year has just started, the Sheriff’s Office has already had to make a post to their social media to urge drivers to use extreme caution and follow all traffic laws. The post stated; 
“The Sabine Parish School Board and the Sheriff’s Office have received several complaints already this school year of motorists disobeying school bus warning signs and signals. When a school bus displays yellow warning lights, you are required to slow down and come to a stop. You are required to remained stopped until the buses red warning lights and stop signs are deactivated. School bus drivers and other witnesses will be obtaining vehicle descriptions and license plate numbers of anyone violating these warning signals. Sheriff Aaron Mitchell and his staff will do what it takes to keep your kids safe this school year.” 
The students of Sabine Parish that make up the population of bus riders range in age from kindergarten to seniors in high school. Each and every child deserves to both feel and be completely safe while traveling to and from school. Drivers can do their part by paying close attention to traffic laws, watching for children near schools and in neighborhoods, and respecting the buses as they transport these kids to and from school. 
SOURCE: SPSO & Stanford Children’s Health 

BESE Meeting Adjourned After Audience Refuses to Wear Masks- Video Attached

On Wednesday morning, the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education met to discuss multiple items including a discussion on whether school systems could make their own decision pertaining to the masking of students.

Outbursts from the crowd were frequent as board members reminded the audience that the meeting would only continue if it could be done in an orderly manner and only if the audience complied with the governor’s mask mandate.  Each reminder was met with yells from the audience.

Audience members yelled for the board members to remove their masks so the audience could understand them.  The board reminded the audience that they were required to follow the governor’s mandate.  One member of the audience argued that the board was not wearing proper mask but thin pieces of cloth.

After it was clear that the audience was not going to comply with their requests to wear masks during the meeting, the board made a motion to adjourn the meeting.  Some audience members yelled in opposition to the motion.  The board took a roll call vote to adjourn the meeting.  The vote was 8 for and 2 against, and the motion to adjourn passed.   

As the board members stood to leave and the video began to fade out, one audience member repeatedly yelled, “You work for us!”

The last five minutes of the video show the dialogue which led up to the abrupt adjournment.

Movie in Many Scheduled for August 21st Cancelled Due to COVID

This weeks showing in the Movies in Many event, Spiderman:Far from Home, has now been cancelled. This free movie, which was originally scheduled for Saturday, August 21st ,was just one of the many movies the town has planned to show in the old Sabine Theater for families in the parish.  This is a precaution the town is taking to try and help keep its residents safe. 
It is unclear at this point whether or not future movies will need to be cancelled as cases of COVID-19 in the area continue to rise at an alarming rate. 
The Sabine Parish Journal will post any updates regarding the future schedule of the Movies in Many series as we receive word of the decisions made. 

LDWF Cancels National Hunting and Fishing Day Events

Responding to the state’s COVID-19 situation, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has canceled National Hunting and Fishing Day (NHFD) events scheduled for September 25 across Louisiana.

“This was a tough decision, but we think the right decision,” said LDWF Secretary Jack Montoucet. “Like so many others, I looked forward to attending the events and watching families, especially young people, learn about hunting, fishing, shooting, and other outdoor activities. But, the risk to the public’s health to hold the NHFD events was too great.”

NHFD is a national event celebrated in all 50 states on the fourth Saturday in September. It was created in 1972 when Congress passed two bills establishing a specific day to celebrate the conservation contributions of the nation’s hunters and anglers.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana’s abundant natural resources. Help us protect your hunting and fishing heritage while preserving habitat, wildlife, and aquatic resources by purchasing your license at

Cane River National Heritage Area Announces New Headquarters and Development of Discovery Center

Cane River National Heritage Area, Inc. (CRNHA), a regional non-profit organization focused on heritage conservation and economic development, announced on Aug. 18 its acquisition of the former Hancock-Whitney Bank building located at 4115 University Parkway. The property will serve as the new headquarters for the organization and future home of the Cane River Discovery Center.

Currently located at 1115 Washington Street, the Cane River NHA team will relocate to the new headquarters by the end of 2021. “Since its creation in 1994, this organization has focused on creating partnerships and programs that leverage preservation, enhance education and drive economic development primarily through heritage tourism in the Cane River region,” remarked Board Chairman David Dollar. “In more than just a symbolic way, we’re returning to the pre-colonial route of the El Camino Real corridor which connected the Spanish, French, Native Americans, and Africans to Natchitoches, and in doing so, we will become part of the recent and future tourism developments along the Hwy. 6 corridor,” continued Dollar.

Positioned near the newly developed Parc Natchitoches recreation complex, the Grady Erwin Nature Preserve, and the Dark Woods Adventure Park, the new headquarters location will strengthen visibility for the Cane River National Heritage Area and its projects. “The opportunity for CRNHA to acquire, renovate and repurpose this property comes at a strategic time for us. As we look to the future of the heritage tourism industry in the Natchitoches area, it’s important that we identify new markets and potential products we can help develop to expand tourism in the region as well as enable our organization’s growth,” remarked Rebecca Blankenbaker, CRNHA Executive Director. “Public history, cultural conservation, and historic preservation will always be cornerstones of our work, and with this new facility, we will be able to showcase that work better as well as execute our vision of expanding outdoor recreation and conservation in the region.”

“We are delighted that this new space will also allow us to design and introduce a unique and authentic- to-Cane-River, Discovery Center — a “go-to” destination where people living in or visiting Natchitoches — can spark their imaginations about our rich history, unique cultures, and outdoor recreation,” said Blankenbaker. “With this new property, we are even better positioned to work with partners to develop and offer new options, including an even more textured, enjoyable, and memorable experience of the Cane River region.”

Plans for the Discovery Center are in the beginning stages, with projected completion by Winter 2023. “This is legacy work that we’re doing,” said Dollar, “and the Cane River Discovery Center is a legacy project that the people of Natchitoches will be able to enjoy and take pride in for generations to come.”

Congress created the Cane River National Heritage Area in 1994 to recognize and protect the region’s diverse and nationally significant heritage. Since that time, the Heritage Area team has used a grassroots, community-driven approach to further heritage conservation and economic development in the Natchitoches area. By cultivating public-private partnerships, the Cane River National Heritage Area has invested more than $5.9 million in funding to support 375 projects in the region in critical areas, including Historic Preservation, Cultural Conservation, Outdoor Recreation & Conservation, Capacity Building, and Heritage Tourism.

Communication keys new receivers’ successful transition

Stanley King is a long way from his hometown of Camden, New Jersey – in more ways than one. Jay Griffin IV is back closer to his hometown of Huntsville, Texas.

Despite their disparate backgrounds, the two transfer receivers have bonded over something that has linked Northwestern State’s preseason football camps for years – the heat.

“I feel comfortable,” said King, a transfer from Rutgers. “It’s been a smooth transition with everything but the heat. I’m getting adjusted to everything. I’m in the rotation. I’ve just got to get used to the heat, and we’ll see what it is at the end.”

Despite his status as a Texas native, Griffin IV has taken some time to reacclimate himself to the South’s heavy humidity after spending five years at the University of New Mexico as both a receiver and a conference champion sprinter.

“At first, there was a little adjustment getting used to the weather,” he said. “Albuquerque isn’t as humid. Other than that, I feel we’re adjusting to the offense well. We’re getting up to speed to do great things this year.”

The pair of FBS transfers entered a wide receiver group that is adjusting to a new position coach in Rashad Jackson, who joined the Demon staff in July.

The trio is learning about and from one another as well about and from an eclectic mix of receivers that includes sixth-year seniors Gavin Landry and Kendrick Price, who have played key roles in helping all three feel more comfortable at NSU.

“To be able to have older guys like Gavin and KP in the room is great,” Jackson said. “There aren’t a lot of seniors, which is good. You have a couple of voices guys are already listening to. They’re not hearing it from seven guys. They’re hearing it from those two – this is how we do things. For those young guys and the new guys alike, they’ve followed right behind them. It’s been great to see that transition with the new faces and the older guys coming together as one group.”

Added Griffin: “Gavin and I play the same position. He’s been very welcoming and helpful after every play, telling me what I’ve done well and what I could have done better. That’s elevating me every day, and I’m grateful for that.”

While Landry and Price have helped pave the way for Griffin and King to acclimate themselves quickly within the receiver room, Jackson’s and King’s transition was smoothed even more from various points across the roster and coaching staff.

“I’ve had guys like Eddie (Godina), (Ja’Quay) Pough and Race (Moser),” said Jackson, who coached the trio at Trinity Valley Community College in Texas. “That made it a little easier transition. I already had a relationship with (offensive coordinator Brad) Smiley as well.”

For King, he picked up an assist from the opposite side of the ball that had little to do with football and much more to do with geography.

“(Defensive coordinator Mike) Lucas comes in every morning talking about the (Philadelphia) Phillies,” King said of his fellow New Jersey native. “There was a point during his speech in our family meeting the other night where I could really relate to him.”

As the Demons continue their preparations for Saturday’s second scrimmage of fall camp and for the Sept. 4 season opener at North Texas, the new arrivals seem to have meshed quickly.

“We have our rights and our wrongs,” King said. “We talk it out. It’s all about communication. That’s the thing that’s getting us through. We have the communication down. We keep doing that and we’ll be fine. No matter who comes in the room – if it’s a transfer or a walk-on or whoever – everybody will be together as long as we keep communicating.”

Photo:  Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services

My Unforgettable Co-Anglers….Part II

August 20, 2021
            This week, we continue our series on “My Unforgettable Co-Anglers” with another one of my worst nightmares. The thing I enjoy the most about fishing Pro/Am events is the amount of diversity among anglers. I’ve fished with guys from our region like Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, and from as far away as New York, Florida, Georgia and Alabama, to name a few. Each of them had their own little quirks and different ways of doing things, but I’ve learned something from just about every angler that’s ever gotten into my boat. Just because they are fishing the co-angler side does not mean they don’t know how to fish. Some are really good anglers that fish as a co-angler simply because they can’t or won’t take the time off to scout for a tournament. Some don’t want to pay the higher entry fees to fish the Pro/boater side.
            Let me set the stage for this event. It was the FLW BFL Regional Tournament with a full field of 200 boats on my home body of water…the mighty Red River. This particular event went out of the Red River South Marina just south of Bossier City… an absolutely awesome facility that has hosted several national events including the Bassmaster Classic twice. It was a two-day event with the top 5 earning a trip to the prestigious FLW All-American, the pinnacle of BFL anglers all across the country.
Now after day one I was sitting in 3rd place with a golden opportunity to make it to the All- American until I drew “Crack Head Joe” who was strung out so bad that he bit his tongue four times because he was talking faster than his mouth could move. “Joe” was an angler in his mid 50’s from the great state of Tennessee. This guy was a real treat who ran all over my boat like a rat on crack during an eight-hour period. Hyper does not even begin to describe his demeanor. He literally got into my boat shaking before takeoff that morning. I think he must have had twenty cups of coffee with a pound of sugar to boost his energy level past extreme!  Now as I have noted, I like an angler or someone in my boat that I can carry on a good conversation with…an angler I can get to know on a personal level. Some have even become good friends of mine over the years. But this man from the Volunteer State has, nor will ever be on my Christmas card list.
As “Joe” and I headed out on day 2, I had a particular spot that I could catch a couple of good fish really early on my way to my main starting spot. On my first flip, I caught a 3 ½ pounder and as I was boating this fish, Joe decided to flip into the same spot in front of the boat (which is against the rules). Co-anglers are not supposed to cast past the boater/pro in front of the boat. Needless to say, I was not a happy angler and I made sure I reiterated the rule of not throwing past the front of the boat. But he was very apologetic as he hooked up and boated a 4 pounder out of the same hole where I just caught my 3 ½ pounder! So already frustrated, I pulled the trolling motor up and headed to another area I had further down the river. On my next stop and about four casts later, I set the hook on another 3 pounder. Well as I was reeling this fish in, I called for him to get the net for me, as he made another cast to the same spot! Once again, I scolded him and promptly reminded him about the rule of casting past the front of the boat. But I could tell that he was not hearing a word I said as he once again apologized and dropped another 2 pound in the live well. Now Joe was also a dancer of some kind because after every fish he boated, he would break out into some sort of Tennessee dance to the tune of “Rocky Top” on the back deck of my boat.
Now that “Joe” has my full attention and I’m so mad I could eat a fried shoe sole, I proceeded down a rock jetty flipping old pilings with a worm. Just a short time later (30 minutes) I set the hook on another good fish and once again ask for him to get the net. While I was fighting this fish, he threw a spinnerbait right by my ear and directly in front of the boat. Now I’m mad and so after I boated another keeper fish, I reach up and grabbed his fishing line and bit it into. He was shocked and the look on his face was priceless. He could not believe I just bit his line into! I told him that he had two choices the rest of the day. Either follow the rules and fish where he was supposed to or continue to break the rules and then I would make sure not to sign his weigh slip at the weigh-in which would have disqualified him from the competition. I WAS NO LONGER GOING TO BE A NICE GUY THE REST OF THIS DAY. FOLLOW THE RULES OR GET OUT OF MY BOAT! Needless to say, Joe straightened up with little to say the rest of the day, much to my pleasure. Now I’m not sure if me biting his line was the reason for his change in demeanor, or if the caffeine just finally wore off. But whatever the reason, he was a lot calmer.
To wrap up, I finished in 7th place and just missed the All-American by less than a pound. While it was still a great tournament and I was proud of how I fished, sometimes things just don’t always go as planned. Even with all the distractions of  “Crack Head Joe” I maintained my composure and kept my head down and fished hard. In pro/am style events, you have no control over the co-angler you’ll be paired with. It’s simply the luck of the draw and sometimes you get a really good co-angler and sometimes you get one that you wish you could have left at the ramp. But it’s all good and it’s what makes pro/am tournaments so interesting. Till next time, good luck, good fishing and don’t forget to set the hook!
Steve Graf
Hook’N Up & Track’N Down Show    

And Tackle Talk Live

NSU calendar for August 22-28

Here is a look at the week of August 22-28 at Northwestern State University.

July 1 – August 27 — Hotter ‘N Hell National Collegiate Art Exhibition, Orville Hanchey Art Gallery

August 22 – 24 – Late registration for fall semester

August 24 – NSU Presidential Search Committee Meeting, Magale Recital Hall, 1 p.m.

August 24 – Faculty recital featuring the music of composer Mark Mellits, Magale Recital Hall, 7:30 p.m. *

August 26 – NSU ROTC Activation Ceremony, Student Union Ballroom, 3:30 p.m.

August 27 – Closing reception for Hotter ‘N Hell National Collegiate Art Exhibition, Orville Hanchey Art Gallery, 5 p.m.

* Livestream available at

Super 60 Showcase rescheduled for Aug. 29

The NSU Super 60 Showcase that was postponed by inclement weather has been rescheduled for Aug. 29 at Brown-Stroud Field and Parc Natchitoches.

For those who registered for the original Aug. 14 date, those spots remained reserved and campers do not need to re-register.

The modified showcase will begin at 1 p.m. Aug. 29 and will consist of batting practice and a live scrimmage afterward.

Interested parties can visit to register for the camp, which is open to 2021-25 high school graduates and junior college freshmen and sophomores. Participants are asked to bring their own equipment, including a glove, bat, batting gloves, batting helmet, running or turf shoes and anything else they feel necessary.

For more information, contact assistant coach Dan Hlad at

Notice of Death – August 19, 2021

WINN:Cory Ray Austin
March 01, 1984 – August 16, 2021
Service: Friday, August 20 at 10 am in the Garden of Memories Cemetery

Mary Fuller Rowlan
August 27, 1946 – August 16, 2021
Service: Friday, August 20 at 2 pm at Hasley Cemetery

Shirley Carpenter
August 15, 2021
Service: Saturday, August 21 at 1 pm at the First Baptist Church, located at 1116 Amulet Street in Natchitoches

Melvin Walker
August 18, 2021
Arrangements TBA

Alice Williams
August 16, 2021
Arrangements TBA

Louise Cox Glover
February 13, 1927 – August 18, 2021
Service: Friday August 20 at 11 am at Springville Cemetery

Hall of Fame induction approaching Aug. 26-28 for Sabine realtor Bo Dowden

Photo courtesy Bassmasters.

Sabine Parish realtor Villis “Bo” Dowden is a legend in the pro bass fishing world.

He’ll soon officially become one of the state’s elite sports legends. Dowden, 80, will be inducted in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2021 being enshrined Saturday, Aug. 28 to cap the three-day Induction Celebration that kicks off Thursday, Aug. 26. Former Saints receiver Marques Colston headlines the class.

Induction festivities include a free welcome reception, a bowling party, the free Rockin’ River Fest concert Friday night, Aug. 27, featuring the popular country rock band Parish County Line, and a free youth training camp Saturday morning, Aug. 28. The final day culminates with a luncheon and the induction ceremony.

For registration for the youth camp and to make reservations for the ticketed events, and information on all events, visit or call 318-238-4255.

Dowden won bass fishing’s most prestigious event, the Bassmaster Classic, on the St. Lawrence River (N.Y.) in 1980, highlighting 14 appearances in that event. Dowden, longtime owner of Bo’s Marine in Natchitoches, has been a Sabine Parish realtor for over three decades. He had career winnings of $235,261.79 through Bassmaster events, not including earnings from various other trails.

In the late 1980s, Dowden was one of the top six earners among all anglers. His 1980 Bassmaster Classic victory was a “wire-to-wire” triumph over three days and received network television coverage from ABC-TV’s 20/20 news magazine in a segment hosted by Hugh Downs and Barbara Walters, providing a big boost for the sport and expanding the fan base considerably.

Topped by a 6-pound, 6-ounce bass he called “Queen Bee” caught on the final day, Dowden’s 54-pound, 10-ounce haul provided a 10-pound, 9-ounce winning margin that is the fourth-largest in Bassmasters Classic history 41 years later. The weight was second-best in the 10-year history of the event and ranked sixth in its first 30 years (13th now in 51 years).

His 1980 Bass Masters Classic win was worth $41,000 and was the first career win by the Northwestern State alumnus. It highlighted an impressive stretch in the sport’s focal event – Dowden was second in the 1976 Classic and third in 1977 and 1982.

Overall, he finished second in four tournaments, third five times and was in the top 10 of 25 tournaments. He was in the money in 57 percent of the tournaments he entered, including 99 of 241 on the BASS tour. His best years on the pro circuit were in 1977 when he was second, third and fifth in pro events, and in 1981 when he had two thirds and a second.

In 2004, ESPN Outdoors and BASS named him among the 35 greatest anglers of all-time.

For a feature-length profile of Bo Dowden, a Natchitoches native and NSU graduate, click on this link:

Years after hooking his sport’s biggest prize, Bo Dowden comes home to enter state hall

2020 Census Results – Sabine Parish Population Decreased

The Census Bureau released its 2020 Census results last Thursday. The data shows that Sabine Parish’s population decreased by 8.6% in the last 10 years from 24,233 in 2010 to 22,155 in 2020, a decrease of 2,078 people (208 people per year).

Possible effects of population decline are:

fewer schools, due to there being fewer children;
a drop in house prices because more homes are unoccupied;
fewer new homes being built;
less demand for rented accommodation;
fewer care facilities;
less turnover of product for shops and businesses;
fewer sports facilities;
fewer people going to the theatre, cinema or concerts, so these facilities are eventually cut back;
local residents have to travel further to reach the facilities they want.

To dive into more detail about Sabine Parish Census Data from the 2019 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, click the file below:

Population Changes Across the Country Since the 2010 Census

Yesterday’s release reveals changes in the size and distribution of the population across the United States. The population of U.S. metro areas grew by 9% from 2010 to 2020, resulting in 86% of the population living in U.S. metro areas in 2020, compared to 85% in 2010.

“Many counties within metro areas saw growth, especially those in the south and west. However, as we’ve seen in our annual population estimates, our nation is growing slower than it used to,” said Marc Perry, a senior demographer at the Census Bureau. “This decline is evident at the local level where around 52% of the counties in the United States saw their 2020 Census populations decrease from their 2010 Census populations.”

County and metro area highlights:

The largest county in the United States in 2020 remains Los Angeles County, with over 10 million people.
The largest city (incorporated place) in the United States in 2020 remains New York, with 8.8 million people.
312 of the 384 U.S. metro areas gained population between 2010 and 2020.
The fastest-growing U.S. metro area between the 2010 Census and 2020 Census was The Villages, FL, which grew 39% from about 93,000 people to about 130,000 people.
72 U.S. metro areas lost population from the 2010 Census to the 2020 Census. The U.S. metro areas with the most significant percentage declines were Pine Bluff, AR, and Danville, IL, at -12.5 percent and -9.1 percent, respectively. 

Louisiana Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics Strongly Endorses Universal Masking in Schools in Letter to Gov. Edwards

The Louisiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics sent a letter to Gov. John Bel Edwards on Aug. 16 stating that the 750 member organization strongly recommends universal masking while indoors in schools. Gov. Edwards’ temporary indoor mask mandate went into effect on August 2, 2021 and will remain in place for everyone age five and up until September 1, unless it becomes necessary to extend it. As the fourth surge of COVID-19 continues causing an alarming increase in cases and hospitalizations among adults and students alike, the mandate reflects the fact that no one under age 12 is able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as the school year gets underway.

“I’m very appreciative of the Louisiana AAP and its support,” said Gov. Edwards. “Pediatricians know first-hand how the Delta variant of COVID-19 is impacting our children unlike any other variant before. No child under age 12 is eligible to receive a vaccine, which is why universal masking is one of the best tools to help protect them, teachers and support staff as they all head back to school. Our children are among our most vulnerable, and keeping them safe while in school should be a priority for all of us. In-person learning is important for our children, and wearing masks indoors is critical to making certain our schools stay safe and open.”   

In the letter, the LAAP lists several reasons for supporting universal masking including:

  • A significant portion of the student population is not currently eligible for vaccination. 
  • Masking provides the best protection of unvaccinated students and teachers from COVID-19 and reduces transmission.
  • Many schools’ lack of a system to monitor vaccine status among students, teachers, and staff making policy based on vaccine status impractical.
  • Vaccination rates in Louisiana remain low and are inadequate to provide herd immunity at this time.
  • As the pandemic continues, there is growing concern that variants could emerge that could cause more severe disease. Masks remain an important mitigation strategy to reduce the likelihood of this occurring.
  • The Delta variant is eight times more contagious than the novel COVID-19.  

“As advocates for children, we are concerned about the health and well-being of every child. We know that vaccines, masking and social distancing are the best ways to protect them from COVID-19. We urge you to continue to support the health of all Louisiana citizens by requiring universal masking indoors for everyone in the school setting until such time as science and medical experts determine it safe to discontinue current policy…”