Louisiana shows improvement on latest fall reading report

BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana Department of Education released its Fall 2022 Reading Report today that shows how public school students in grades K-3 scored on a literacy screener given during the first 30 days of the current school year. Louisiana’s overall score improved and students in grades 1-3 grew for the second consecutive year, while kindergarten scores saw a decline. This year’s third graders earned their highest score since 2018.
“It’s good to see the continued reading progress for our students,” said Dr. Cade Brumley, Louisiana’s Superintendent of Education. “Ensuring children can read must remain a fundamental priority in every school across our state”

The Fall 2022 Reading Report includes state, school system, and school data for public school students in grades K-3. School systems can choose among four research-based screening assessments to administer. Students who take a screener earn either “On or Above Benchmark” or “Below Benchmark.” In August, Louisiana adopted the state’s first K-2 accountability plan. This plan will include a uniform literacy screener for students in these early grades.

“Louisiana’s comprehensive literacy plan is building momentum across the state, and we are beginning to see the impact of this foundational shift in how we teach children to read,” said Deputy Superintendent Dr. Jenna Chiasson. “Our youngest learners were the most impacted by the disruptions of the past few years. We have the support in place to keep our students in grades 1-3 on the right track and to accelerate the progress for our new kindergarten children.”

While scores for students in grades 1-3 increased for the second consecutive year, scores declined for students entering kindergarten. These literacy screeners are given to students during the first 30 days of the school year and capture a snapshot of a child’s reading ability as they enter a new grade.

This is the latest data to show the continued progress of Louisiana students following unprecedented classroom disruptions caused by hurricanes and the pandemic. Earlier this month, Louisiana’s statewide performance score returned to its pre-pandemic level. In October, the Nation’s Report Card showed that Louisiana students avoided some of the most dramatic learning loss seen across the nation. In August, the Department released 2021-22 LEAP scores that showed Mastery rates improved in ELA and math for students in grades 3-8. 

About the annual Louisiana Fall Reading Report:Louisiana law and Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) policy require that  school systems administer a literacy screener not later than thirty days after the beginning of each school year to all students in kindergarten through grade 3. Annual screening is vital for ensuring that all students are on the right track to become proficient readers by the end of third grade. School systems can choose among four research-based screening assessments. The screening assessments measure a particular skill or skills that are typically predictive of later reading success. The skills build upon each other from one grade level to the next and are appropriately matched to children’s ages and developmental stages.

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My battle with Melanoma continues

My battle with Melanoma continues, and for those that are new to this column, I’ll backtrack. In June of this year, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Class C Melanoma. It all started back in 2021 with a small spot on my upper left ear — a spot that after a limb fell across my ear, opened a dot the size of a BB. Several weeks later, it just would not heal properly.

After a routine visit to my dermatologist, we started treating the area with a chemo crème. This treatment worked for a short period, but the spot came back this past March. We treated the spot again with chemo crème, but this time it did not have the same healing effect as before.

I was scheduled to meet with my dermatologist again the first week of May, but the appointment got canceled and they rescheduled me for late June. It was during this eight-week period that it ulcerated and turned into my worst nightmare. After my dermatologist removed the spot and overnighted it to Birmingham for evaluation, the results came back positive for Melanoma.

These are words you never want to hear! Next, surgery was scheduled at LSU Ochsner in Shreveport to take off one inch of my left ear and remove four lymph nodes, two of which tested positive. I had two PET scans and one brain MRI and up till now, all my scans have been negative for Melanoma anywhere else in my body. Hopefully, that will continue to be the case.

It was at this point that I was advised by my Melanoma team at MD Anderson to undergo immunotherapy treatments with a drug called OPDIVO. This is a drug that boosts your immune system and attacks any cancer cells that might be present anywhere in the body. Well, your first question might be, “I thought you said your scans were negative?” It’s true, they were, but one thing I learned at MD Anderson is how Melanoma can hide in different places in your body and go undetected.

That’s why my monthly immunotherapy treatments will go on for at least one year with scans periodically every three months. I did ask the doctor at MD Anderson how long it would be before they would declare me cancer free. His response was, “It would be at least five years, as long as all your scans are negative.”

The treatments have been a little rough, especially my last two, for some reason. My first injection was great with no problems or side effects, but my last two have been another story. About halfway through injection treatments two and three, I’ve had severe pain that starts out at the tailbone, spreads into the hips, and progresses up toward the chest. Not sure why, but everyone responds differently to these treatments. We’re still trying to figure out why I’m having this pain. They’ve had to give me Ativan and Demerol to help subside the pain and make me relax in order to get me through the treatment.

Hopefully soon, we’ll get a better grip on how to take these treatments. My point of this update is to remind you about being diligent when it comes to wearing proper clothing and sunscreen. Don’t take your health for granted! I never thought I would be THAT guy who had to deal with this. Even my fishing buddies who I’m closest with are shocked that I got this because I have been very consistent with sunscreen and wearing long-sleeve shirts with built-in sunscreen, wearing the wide-brim hat and long pants — and I still got it.

The best advice I can give you is to see a dermatologist on a regular basis and if you have a suspicious spot anywhere on your body, get it looked at. If you don’t have a dermatologist, FIND ONE!  The absolute worst thing you can do is ignore these spots! Catch it early and you might be lucky like me.

‘Til next time, good luck, good fishing, and don’t forget your sunscreen. 

Contact Steve at sgraf26@gmail.com

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Is anything worth dying for?

There are mass protests in the streets of China. Iranians are openly defying the oppressive theology ruling their Sun-scorched land. Thousands are being murdered for civil disobedience. They are standing. They are dying. All for something larger than themselves.

So I ask: what principle are you willing to die for? I don’t mean self defense or protecting your family. I’m talking about something you believe in.

Would you denounce your faith if someone put a gun to your head? What about if someone just made you feel uncomfortable? Would you pull a Peter and deny three times? Would you give up your arms if government storm troopers were going door to door? What if it was less than that? How about government buy back? Say $5,000 per weapon? $1,000 $50?

I don’t know. People talk big on the internet and in real life, but if it came right down to it, would you give up essential freedoms for the charms of a comfortable life?

I’m sad to say it, but we already have. The Patriot Act was sold to us on the promise of security. The listening device in your pocket masquerading as a phone was sold to us on the promise of making life easier and so much more fun. Now you can barely function in the world without that tracker recording every move and word.  I’ve tried to go without one. I can’t. My entire personal and professional life is tied to a device. I gave up my privacy long ago for bread and circuses.

So I say all that to say this. I’ve realized I’m just a reed in the storm a lot of times. The reed survives the storm. The proud Oak breaks. In other words, those who just go along are the ones who survive. They may even prosper. Those who stand for something get cut down.

We’re taught from the time we’re young to be reeds. Do what you’re told. Don’t rock the boat. Go to college, get married, have 2.5 kids, buy a house, cars, things and distractions. Work. Don’t look to your sides because side quests are pointless to the overall story, aren’t they?

Be good because Santa is coming to town and he’s got a list that he’s checking twice to see who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. From day 1, we are conditioned not to take risks at any level because it might upset our comfort levels.

In the big picture, you’re punished if you stand up against problems in the world. You get sued, you get cancelled, you get black listed. In the recent past these kind of troublemakers were beaten or killed or both for standing up for simple concepts like labor reform, civil rights, and just asking for common human decency. American hands of the past are just as bloody as Chinese hands of the present.

We used to be a place where 55 men signed a piece of paper of high treason. If we lost the Revolution, those signers would have been killed as would their families. They did it anyway. Nowadays we just go on, are taught to keep our heads down, get by. They tell us to play the game and to turn your nose brown for the right people. The concept leaves me feeling dirty. A politician doesn’t have to be an elected official. A politician is just someone who does what’s easy rather than what’s right.

And the sick part? The older I get the more of a politician I become. Some say it’s inevitable. They say things like pick your battles. I’ve found myself saying the same when dealing with the difficulties of people and when facing the doom and darkness descending around us. Because in truth, what’s in the hearts of Chinese and Iranian leaders can be found in the hearts of many in the elite group of Americans that live above us all. Watched a movie the other day – sci-fi – where a woman from our time went forward to facist year 2100. When she asked how did this happen, she was simply told 80 years is a long time.

How long does it take? How long does kicking the can down the road last before it’s too late? 80 years? 50? 1?

Questions like those are too big. So I pick my battles knowing full well I’m still going to lose the war. I do it because questioning causes discomfort, and each time I know less and less of what I’d be willing to stand for. I hope there’s something out there. But again, what do I know? I’m just a reed trying to weather the storm. Just a reed in a nation of more than 300 million others.

Just remember that fear is the weakest of motivators. Powerful only in the short term. Shame, however, is the most potent deterrent to moving forward.

Being frightened is human. It’s ok. Remaining afraid is shameful and weak. And that’s not ok.

Fear is used to make us seek the line. Our own shame keeps us there. 

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Notice of Death – December 1, 2022


Jared Riley
November 28, 2022
Service: Saturday, December 3 at 1 pm at St. Augustine Catholic Church 
Peggy Woodel Sanderson
May 11, 1957 – November 29, 2022
Service: Tuesday, December 6 at 12 pm at Central Baptist Church in Robeline 
Lynwood Ray Powell, Sr.
October 4, 1935 – November 28, 2022
Service: Friday, December 2 at 11 am at Blanchard St. Denis Funeral Home


Rex Wright
June 19, 1955 – November 26, 2022
Service: Saturday, December 3 at 2 pm at First Baptist Church of Many

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Jingle and Mingle

Sabine Parish Tourist and Recreation Commission will hold a Jingle & Mingle Holiday Open House on Wednesday, Dec. 14 from 9:30-11:30 am at the Tourist Commission, located at 1601 Texas Hwy. in Many.

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Sheriff’s office seeks owner of firearm found in roadway

The Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office was notified of a firearm found in the roadway on Benton Road near Jamison Road in Pleasant Hill on the evening of Nov. 28.
Sabine Parish Sheriff Deputies took possession of the gun.
If this firearm belongs to you, please contact Patrol Lieutenant Jason Heard at 318-256-9241 option 6.
You will be required to provide the identifying information of the gun.

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Sabine Parish Assessor’s Office: Property Tax Update

There has been a lot of concern regarding not receiving tax bills yet. The 2022 property tax bills are estimated to go out possibly the second week of December. You are not able to view or pay them online at this time. We ask for your patience and would like to give reassurance they will be sent out soon by the Sheriff’s Office.

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What will you read in 2023?

Time for our annual Best Books of the Year list. Read a lot of good books but failed to score a five-star read, unlike last year when I couldn’t turn around without running into something that hit me just right. 

So it goes in the Reading World. You win some, you lose some, but you show up and read and if a book’s no good, chunk it and, guilt-free, pick up another one. 

Still, much enjoyment this year from reading, and hopefully you will get a charge out of at least one or two of the titles below, or something will jog your memory and help you pick out a just-right Christmas gift for someone.  

If nothing else, we can be grateful we are past all the pandemic-related bestsellers like LOCKDOWN!: Your Place or Mine?, or everyone’s least-favorite companion reads, Why Masks Work and the sequel, Why Masks Haven’t Even Ever THOUGHT About Working, Ever Ever Never. 

Mercy on all that … And now on to the bookmobile. 

Batting leadoff is All About Me! My Remarkable Life in Show Business, by Mel Brooks, my favorite of a lot of biographies. Others that were really good, if you’re interested in these people, are The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man by Paul Newman, A Life in Parts by actor Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Home Work by Julie Andrews (had a crush on her since Mary Poppins as I was an impressionable youngster), Miracle and Wonder by Malcolm Gladwell about singer-songwriter-stud Paul Simon (you have to listen to this one for the conversations with Simon and his occasional singing), My House of Memories by Merle Haggard because, well, Merle Haggard, and finally, Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story, by Rick Bragg. 

A quick aside about Jerry Lee Lewis: he was nothing short of a keyboard genius. Any piano player from Elton John to Ray Stevens will tell you that nobody should be able to play that fast and that well and sing at the same time. A prodigy and bona-fide genius. 

More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell was released in 1987 and reads as a short (128 pages) research document about the historical Jesus and is much worth your time if, like me, you’d missed it all these years. 

Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli by Mark Seal is about the “tumultuous” making of The Godfather and was my second-favorite book of the year. If you like the movie, you’ll enjoy it. How the picture got made is semi-miraculous.  

Speaking of movies, The Church of Baseball by Ron Shelton is about the making of Bull Durham, which he wrote and directed; it’s a baseball thing. 

Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen is funny and good, as you’d expect from Carl Hiaasen. Speaking of fiction, if you’ve never read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson or The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells, as I hadn’t until this year, you could probably skip those. Didn’t happen for me. But … it’s always wise to consider the similar themes of those two books, which is how the bad part of our nature, which is the main part, runs wild if unchecked, even if that wasn’t our intention. 

Churchill’s Band of Brothers by Damien Lewis was good but a better suggestion would be Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose, which I’ve read three times, about E Company with the 101st in World War II. The British equivalent is interesting but not nearly as rich. 

Also, you will feel a lot better after reading either Everybody Always or Love Does by Bob Goff, or both. Check him out if you haven’t already. 

Books in my on-deck circle for 2023 include You Are Looking Live! How the NFL Today Revolutionized Sports Broadcasting, by Rich Podolsky, When the Garden was Eden by Harvey Araton, about the glory days of the New York Knicks (they were good and fun when I was a boy, believe it or not), Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley because I haven’t read him and have meant to, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, and Prayer by Tim Keller because I really like Tim Keller and because you need the prayers and Lord knows I need the practice. 

Let me know if you come across anything good. Read on! 

Contact Teddy at teddy@latech.edu 

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Two fourth-quarter Many touchdowns lift Tigers to quarters win at Rosepine 


ROSEPINE – Many had its backs against the playoff wall Friday after Rosepine intercepted a Tackett Curtis pass with 10 minutes remaining and the Eagles clinging to a 7-0 lead. 

But the Tigers didn’t panic. 

All the previous playoff experience and winning paid off in the fourth quarter as Many’s defense held three times and the Tigers mustered a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns in a 14-7 quarterfinals win in the Division III Non-Select playoffs. 

Many (11-0) trailed for the first time in the second half all season, but the Tigers secured their seventh straight trip to the semifinals with the comeback. 

“Our experience in big games helped us pull through,” said Many coach Jess Curtis. “We know in the playoffs, it’s tough to win on the road. I was proud they found a way.” 

The defensive-minded game on a muddy field took shape as No. 9 seed Rosepine (10-3) ate up nearly the entire first quarter that ended with an eight-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jake Smith to give the Eagles a 7-0 edge. 

That’s the only score Many would surrender as they held stud running back Grant Ducote to 55 yards on 22 carries. 

Perhaps the most important stand the defense made was forcing a Rosepine three-and-out after Smith intercepted Curtis early in the fourth quarter. 

But the Tigers’ D stonewalled the Eagles and kept Rosepine from going on any more of their time-consuming drives. 

“Our defense has been lights out all year, and on (Rosepine’s) first drive, we had a couple of penalties to keep their drive going. And then they hit the big throw on fourth down.” 

Many’s own rushing game never got fully churning against a stout Rosepine defense, but the Tigers weathered penalties and turnovers to put together two scoring drives in the fourth quarter. 

Jamarlyn Garner, who lost a fumble in the first half, scored on a six-yard run as Many tied the game on an extra point from kicker Deacon Lafollette at the 6:57 mark in the fourth quarter. 

The touchdown was set up by a 53-yard jaunt from running back Jeremiah James, who led all rushers with 103 yards on 11 carries. 

“No penalties and no turnovers – that was the difference late,” Curtis said. “I’m proud of them for digging deep after Rosepine did a good job of playing keep away. When we had the ball, we shot ourselves in the foot.” 

Many’s defense answered the bell again with another three-and-out, setting up Many’s go-ahead touchdown. 

After a couple of strong Trent Williams’ runs, Many grabbed the lead with a Tackett Curtis 1-yard plunge to go up 14-7 with 1:51 remaining. 

Rosepine attempted one last gasp, but Many shut the Eagles down on four plays to end the game. 

It’s the second straight year in which Many topped Rosepine in the semifinals, although this past season’s 50-12 win lacked the drama of Friday’s nailbiter. 

Now Many will return home to face a hot No. 4 seed St. James squad that whipped No. 5 Avoyelles 48-24. 

Scoring Summary 

First Quarter 

2:12 R Jake Smith 8 yard TD pass, kick good 7-0 

Fourth Quarter 

6:57 M Jamarlyn Garner 6 yard TD run, Deacon Lafollette kick 7-7 

1:51 N Tackett Curtis 1 yard TD run, Lafollette kick 14-7 


M Curtis 1-3-12, 1 Int 

R Smith 3-9-19, 1 TD 


M James 11-103, Aldredge 8-31, Williams 6-43, Curtis 6-21, Garner 3-6, Mitcham 1-(-3) 

R Ducote 22-55 


M Aldredge 1-12 

R 3-19 


Williams 8, Curtis 8, Carheel 6. 

PHOTO CREDIT: Kevin Shannahan/Journal Sports 

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Celebrate the holidays this Saturday at Zwolle Christmas Festival

The 15th Annual Zwolle Christmas Festival will take place Saturday, Dec. 3 at the Zwolle Festival Grounds. Festivities start at 10 am with Bicycle Registration. Vendors will start selling their wares at 12 pm. Opening Ceremonies are set for 2 pm. The Noble Sons will hold a Bicycle Giveaway at 3 pm. There will be fireworks at 6 pm. THis event is hosted ny the Town of Zwolle and the Noble Sons Riding Club. FOr more information contact Torrie Sepulvado at 318-315-1241.

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An Ugly Duckling

By Brad Dison

1939 was a hard year for Bob May, his wife Evelyn, and their four-year-old daughter Barbara. For the past two years, Evelyn had been fighting a losing battle with cancer and was now bedridden. Bob’s ambition had been to be a novelist, but, so far, his talents had only gotten him as far as creating catalogue copy for Montgomery Ward. Bob said many years later, “Instead of writing the great American novel, as I’d always hoped, I was describing men’s white shirts.”

Montgomery Ward’s salary was a steady, much needed paycheck. Evelyn’s medical expenses took all of Bob’s earnings and more. Bob was nearing bankruptcy. He was also exhausted. Day in and day out, he took care of the many needs of his wife and little Barbara while working a full-time job. Bob never once complained, but put on a brave, cheerful face for his wife and daughter.

One day in early 1939, Bob’s boss came to him with a project that seemed to fit Bob’s talent and his situation perfectly. In previous years, Montgomery Ward had purchased coloring books to give away to children during the Christmas season. The coloring books cost the company a substantial amount of money. To cut down on costs, the company decided that they wanted to create their own children’s book to give away during the 1939 Christmas season. The project fit Bob’s situation in that it allowed him to work from home so he could be available for his wife and daughter.

The company wanted the story to be a cheery tale in poem-form about an animal who was an “ugly duckling,” a misfit. Bob had a difficult time writing the cheery tale because of his concern for his wife. He could see that Evelyn was growing weaker with each passing day. Each time he finished a draft of the story, he read it to little Barbara and watched carefully for her response. In this way, he tweaked and reworked the story.

On July 28, 1939, Evelyn lost her battle with cancer. Bob and little Barbara were distraught. To ease Bob’s burden, his boss offered to transfer the project to another writer. Bob made it clear that it was his project, and he would complete it. Bob continued to write drafts and read them to little Barbara. Finally, one day in late August, Bob called little Barbara and her grandparents into the living room. He read the draft of the story and paid special attention to each of their faces. He said later, “in their eyes I could see that the story accomplished what I had hoped.” With the story completed, Bob turned it over to Montgomery Ward artist Denver Gillen for illustration.

During the holiday season of 1939, shoppers fell in love with the story. Montgomery Ward gave away 2.4 million copies that year and planned to give away at least that many the following year. With World War II on the horizon, the United States War Production Board rationed paper, which limited the number of books published in the country. Bob’s “ugly duckling” story could have fallen into obscurity.

Following the end of the war, Montgomery Ward decided to revive the book giveaway. In 1946, RCA Victor contacted Bob because they wanted to record a spoken version of Bob’s story. Unfortunately for Bob, Montgomery Ward, his employer, owned the rights to the story and declined RCA Victor’s request because they wanted to give the books away again that holiday season. That year, the company gave away 3.6 million copies of Bob’s story.

On January 1, 1947, Montgomery Ward president Sewell Avery did something shocking. Avery transferred the copyright of the story from Montgomery Ward to Bob, free and clear. Bob searched for a publisher, but none of the major publishing houses wanted to publish a story of which 6 million copies had been given away. Why, they asked, would anyone pay for a book that had previously been free. Finally, Bob spoke with Harry Elbaum, the head of Maxton Publishers in New York. Bob described Harry as being “a little guy with a big nose,” an ugly duckling of sorts. Harry printed 100,000 hardcover copies of the book for the Christmas season. The books were a success. RCA Victor also produced 45 rpm records of the story narrated by Paul Wing and music by George Kleinsinger. The spoken records were also successful. Johnny Marks turned Bob’s story into a hit record which has been recorded countless times by numerous artists. You and I know Bob’s story well. The “ugly duckling” that Bob created was not a duck, but a red-nosed reindeer named Rudolph.

1. Independent (Long Beach, California), November 19, 1939, p.13.
2. Battle Creek Enquirer, December 6, 1948, p.3.
3. Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 19, 1948, p.74.
4. “Evelyn Marks May (1905-1939)” Find a Grave, findagrave.com, accessed November 25, 2022, findagrave.com/memorial/9906088/evelyn-may.

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Notice of Death – November 29, 2022


Alexander Ryan Nobles Jr.
July 29, 1949 – October 31, 2022
Service: Wednesday, November 30 at 1 pm at Blanchard St. Denis funeral home in Natchitoches


Elaine Sepulvado Henderson
November 2, 1938 – November 28, 2022
Service: Wednesday, November 30 at 10 am at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Zwolle
Rex Wright
June 19, 1955 – November 26, 2022
Service: Saturday, December 3 at 2 pm at First Baptist Church of Many
Maude Vida Monnin
April 23, 1949 – November 27, 2022
Service: Thursday, December 1 at 11 am at Christian Fellowship Church


Osee Aston Dortlon
March 1, 1929 – November 28, 2022
Service: Friday, December 2 at 11 am at Rockett-Nettles Funeral Home Chapel 

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Arrest Made for Vehicle Burglaries

Sabine Parish Sheriff Aaron Mitchell announces an arrest made and charges pending in the vehicle burglaries on Highway 6 East of Many early Monday morning, Nov. 21.
Detectives Don Flores and Lamar Thomas determined Courtland Tremaine Walker (age-20), two 17-year-olds, a 16-year-old, and a 14-year-old, all of Natchitoches were the suspects in these crimes.
Walker has been charged with:
-Principal to Simple Burglary, Theft of a firearm, and Simple Criminal Damage to Property $1,000-$50,000.
-Principal to Theft < $1,000 and Criminal Trespass.
-Principal to Simple Burglary and Theft of a Firearm.
More charges are pending on Walker and the four juveniles will face the same charges.
Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office Detectives provided resources in this investigation.
Sheriff Mitchell credits Sabine Parish Sheriff Patrol Deputy Phillip Cutrer with his quick, initial response and collecting evidence at the scenes early that morning.
Sheriff Mitchell pointed out that home video surveillance systems also provided crucial evidence in the investigation of these crimes.

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Animal Control Reminder

The Town of Many reminds its citizens to please not interfere with Animal Control Officers. They’re doing their job and those who interrupt will be cited if caught. 

If a cat or dog is found in a trap, please do not let it out; instead call City Hall and they will send an officer to take care of them. Their traps have their name on them, and they do not leave them out overnight.

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Blessed: Cheater Cheater Pumpkin Eater

The Thanksgiving holidays have taken on a different look during this strange season of my life. Prior to my divorce they were affectionately stressful and full of chaos, trying to make sure we visited all of the places. Grandparents, in-laws, aunts and uncles, friends and neighbors. There was so much cooking, chopping, mincing, baking, freezing, brining and stuffing going on that I felt like I was running a small catering business for a week.

After the divorce, visitation schedules set in and truly changed the way we celebrate the holidays. Once that part of my life seemed to be settling down my oldest daughter moved four states away. I never know if I should cook or how much I should cook. I am a holiday cooking victim of circumstance. One year I prepared way too much as if feeding a small army and ended up wasting most of it. One year I refused to cook and ended up eating fast food. It seems like I can never get it right.

This year while scrolling through Facebook I noticed that a friend of mine, who is a down right tasty southern cook, was selling pans of dressing, cheesecakes, and pumpkin rolls. Once I saw her post I felt like it was a message delivered directly from the Lord, giving me permission to purchase a Thanksgiving meal. I think he saw me toiling away in my kitchen for the past two decades and decided I needed a break this year.

I felt the peace of the Lord wash over me as soon as I messaged her with my order. If I had a few faces to feed, I would be prepared. If I were invited somewhere I would not show up empty handed. If I ended up being solo, I could freeze the extras. Grinning like a Cheshire cat, I kept scrolling through Facebook only to stumble upon some students who were selling hams, turkeys and hens for their Agriculture class fundraiser. Here I was killing two birds, no pun intended, with one stone. I order a fully smoked turkey while supporting students.

The Lord was at it again. He was blessing me during my holiday quandary. At this rate all I needed was rolls and a can of green beans. (Why go to all of the trouble of cooking a green bean casserole?)

I was on a roll. (Pun noted) As joyful as I was not having to cook a full meal, I somehow felt like I was cheating on some level. Cheater, cheater pumpkin eater.

Not long after I placed my orders I found myself in throes of a minor kitchen remodel that was becoming delayed. It was planned and long overdue. I was not sad to bid farewell to my formica countertops who overstayed their welcome a few years back. They were the base layer of many family meals, tons of junk mail, and lots of children who used them as a conversation area. With all of the constant love they were receiving, it was simply time. Little did I know that the counter top installation crew was not responsible for hooking up my faucet, sink and dishwasher once they were complete.

This lack of knowledge on my part left me sitting on a waiting list for my favorite local plumber. My plumbing business of choice is so popular that they were not available until after Thanksgiving.

When I found this out, it only made me grin again like that Cheshire cat. God made a way for me before I even knew I needed a way to worry less about cooking a Thanksgiving meal. He actually had me pre-arrange a Thanksgiving dinner for my little family that would not require loads of pots, pans and washing dishes. He knew this, I did not. He was caring for us before we even knew we needed him to intervene. I wasn’t a cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater.
I was actually being provided for by our heavenly father. Sure my kitchen looks like a wreckage pile right now and we are having to wash a few dishes in our laundry room but we are still making Thanksgiving memories while the Lord is providing the necessities. He truly carries about the smallest details of our lives.

Happy Thanksgiving!

“The Lord directs the steps of the Godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand” Psalm 37:23-25 NLT

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Oh, the Shame of Zeroing

By Steve Graf

It doesn’t matter how good you think you are or how many tournaments you have won, there will come a time when you just can’t figure the fish out and you come to the scales with nothing. This is the number one fear amongst all anglers who fish in tournaments. Anglers will literally wake up in a cold sweat at night when they have this nightmare. But let’s take a deeper look at the psyche of what goes through an angler’s mind as the day unfolds and they come in with no fish in the live well.

Very few times an angler left the ramp on tournament day because he did not feel good about his game plan. Most anglers usually have a good idea about what and how they’ll catch them on that particular day. But as the day unfolds and the clock is ticking, if an angler does not have fish in the live well by 10:00 AM, at some point he starts to second guess his game plan. He starts thinking (which is usually not a good thing) about how he should have started out deep rather than shallow, how he should have thrown a topwater bait early instead of a worm. Maybe he should have run up the lake instead of staying on the south end or how he should have fished the grass instead of the bushes. But no matter what, pressure starts to build especially when the clock strikes one o’clock with no fish in the box and a weigh-in time of three o’clock. For me, I tell myself, “If I’m going to catch them, I’ve only got two hours to figure them out!”

The next thing you know it’s two o’clock and you still have nothing to show for all the casts you’ve made. It’s at this point most anglers start to panic and start to visualize coming to the weigh-in with a big fat zero. You start to fish too fast and make bad casts, you get hung up more often and have to go and retrieve your bait in places you can’t get to. So, then you end up breaking off whatever bait you’re throwing, with the internal clock in your head moving faster, as you waste even more time looking for another bait and having to re-rig. It’s during these high-pressure times that you backlash a reel so bad that you have to put it away so that you can cut the backlash out when you get home. Then with only minutes to go, you hook the fish of a lifetime, only to watch it come off and swim away right before you get ready to swing it into the boat. A fitting end to a very frustrating day!

Then it’s time to head for the weigh-in and you hope everyone is gone by the time you get there…but that’s never the case. It’s funny how when you have twenty pounds of fish in the live well, no one ever asks how you did. But when you have zero, it seems everyone in the tournament, including their grandma, wants to know what you’ve got. But oh, the shame and embarrassment of having to say, “Zero!” It just doesn’t get any worse than that! So, it’s at this time you head straight for the boat ramp, load your boat, tuck your tail between your legs, pull your cap down low so maybe no one recognizes you, and head home. If you want to see who did not catch fish that day, watch the parking lot at the ramp and see just how fast an angler can load his boat and get out of there.

Hope you enjoyed hearing about the misery of what an angler goes through on those days when he just doesn’t catch them. But the thing that’s great about the end of a tournament is it means there’s an opportunity for redemption at the next event. Forget it and move on because that tournament is over and there’s nothing you can do to change the outcome of that event. Till next time, good luck, good fishing and don’t forget your sunscreen.

Steve Graf
Hook’N Up & Track’N Down Show &
Tackle Talk Live

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Down Home Christmas Concert

The Stewart Family and Friends will hold a Christmas Concert on Saturday, Dec. 17 at 7 pm at the Many Community Center, located at 675 San Antonio Ave. in Many. Doors will be open at 6pm and admission is free.

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Notice of Death – November 24, 2022


Melba Jordan Cruse
March 18, 1947 – November 22, 2022
Service: Friday, November 25 at 2 pm at Jennings Chapel CMC near Marthaville
Leo “Jim” Llorens
January 29, 1938 – November 19, 2022
Service: Saturday, November 26 at 11 am at St. Augustine Catholic Church in Isle Brevelle

Alexander Ryan Nobles Jr.
July 29, 1949 – October 31, 2022
Service: Wednesday November 30 at 1 pm at Blanchard St. Denis funeral home in Natchitoches

Stephen Lane Stroud
October 26, 1959 – November 2, 2022
Service: Tuesday, November 29 at 10:30 am at Rosemary Beach Town Hall in Panama City Beach, FL


Shirley Ann Rivers
June 24, 1946 – November 20, 2022
Service: Saturday, November 26 at 10 am at St. Joseph Catholic Church

Ronald Lee Preston
April 7, 1954 – November 18, 2022
Service: Friday, November 25 at 2 pm at Welcome Home Baptist Church

Judy Fay Conerly
February 24, 1945 – November 22, 2022
Service: Friday, November 25 at 2 pm at Warren Meadows Funeral Home Chapel

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Over the river and through the ’hood, complaining away we go

With the Pilgrims held up as our example, we learned early to “be grateful.” 

As they dragged us to various in-laws’ in assorted neighborhoods for turkey and pumpkin pie and secondhand smoke, our parents reminded us that at the first Thanksgiving in 1621 (give or take), the settlers of the New World had it much tougher than we do. They had to eat outside. They didn’t have potatoes over here yet. The yeast rolls didn’t rise. William Bradford forgot to pick up a Marie Callender’s Apple Crumb Cobbler at the store, and the cable went out halfway through the Detroit Lions-Chicago Cardinals football game. 

“And they didn’t even complain,” our parents said. 

“Bet they got drunk then,” I said. 

“No, they most certainly did not!” 

The Pilgrims really WERE tough; I would have complained if there’d been no potatoes. Loud and clear. They could have heard me back over in England.  

But to hear our parents testify, no one 40 years ago ever complained about anything, especially on Thanksgiving. When you are spoiled like I am, that is setting the bar sort of high. But hey, I’m old school too and really not much of a complainer – as long as everything goes right. That’s just me. 

This week, complaining is a given. This week is about the pre-Thanksgiving misgivings about “where we’re going for Thanksgiving.” Do you know where you’re going yet? Or what you’re bringing? Or the order in which you’re going to whomever’s house when? Are we all on the same page? 

It can be dicey. 

“Are we going to grandmama’s?” 

“Not this year. But we’re not sure. We might.” 

“When will we know?” 

“I don’t know. Who are you, Dan Rather? We’ll know when we hear from everybody and decide.” 

“It’s Tuesday.” 

“Then good! Since Thanksgiving is on Thursday, as it usually is, that means we don’t have to know yet.” 

“We’re cutting it close.” 

“I’ll show you what cutting it close is, mister!” 

“I was just asking…” 

“Well just quit just asking, mister man. Your grandmother might meet us at Big Aunty’s. We might go there.” 

“Not to Big Aunty’s! Big Aunty can’t cook, momma. Big Aunty won’t have nothing even done until supper. We’ll starve.” 

“She most certainly will have and you most certainly will not starve. I’ll make you a pimento cheese to hold you over. We might just all bring different things.” 

“What do you mean, ‘we all?’ Who all is coming?” 

“Aunt Jean will bring the macaroni and cheese and we’ll bring the bean casserole and…” 

“Momma that means Uncle Lester is coming. He’s a professional smoker. We’ll all smell like something burnt. They’ll be ashes in the macaroni.” 

“No there will not!” 

“There was last year.” 

“You’ll think last year if you don’t shut up! Now I mean it!” 

“Can we just stay home and make hamburgers?” 

“NO! We can be thankful and not complain about gummy rice and ashes in the food and Jello with nuts in it and getting your picture taken. And if I hear one word, ONE MORE WORD….” 

Precious memories. And Happy Thanksgiving; I hope you get where you’re going. 

(Originally ran Nov. 20, 2009) 

Contact Teddy at teddy@latech.edu 

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Sheriff’s Office investigate string of burglaries

Sabine Parish Sheriff Aaron Mitchell reports Sabine Parish Sheriff Detectives are investigating burglaries which happened in the early morning hours of Nov. 21. Several residents on Hwy. 6, East of Many, reported their vehicles had been broken into and items were missing. Among the items are purses and firearms. There were also other items taken from a garage area of another residence in the Fort Jesup area.

Detectives have obtained photo/video evidence of possible suspects and a suspect vehicle. Detectives are also working with Natchitoches Parish Sheriff Detectives to follow-up with leads in the investigation.

Sheriff Mitchell encourages everyone to keep your vehicles locked and DO NOT leave any valuables inside.

If anyone has any information, please contact Sabine CID at 318-590-9475, or submit a tip through our Sabine Parish Sheriff App.

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Mayors Court: November 17



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Many football makes seventh straight quarters appearance in playoff rematch with Rosepine

ROSEPINE – Practicing on Thanksgiving Day. Balancing family and football. 

It’s something Many will do for the sixth straight season Friday when the No. 1 seed Tigers (10-0) head to No. 9 Rosepine (10-2) in the quarterfinals of the Division III Non-select playoffs. 

And for the second straight season, it’s Rosepine who is waiting to try and halt the Tigers in the quarters. 

Last year? Many won 50-12 as the Tigers marched to their third straight state championship game. 

But that was in the friendly confines of John W. Curtis Stadium. This year, Many heads south to the Vernon Parish town just north of DeRidder – a favorable road trip compared to some northern teams who are headed below Interstate 10. 

The Tigers don’t have to worry about scheduling walk-throughs at another stadium on Thanksgiving or loading up busses on the holiday. It’s about an hour south on Hwy 171. 

Many has posted a quarterfinals win in each of the last six seasons. 

“Practicing on Thanksgiving is a tradition here, and it’s expected,” said Many coach Jess Curtis. “So is walking into the Superdome. To us, it’s the next step on our journey to our goal. Rosepine is very well coached. They have a very good running back in (Grant) Ducote. We will have to be ready.” 

Rosepine’s Ducote sailed past 5,000 career rushing yards in the middle of this season and owns the program rushing record. 

But Many’s defense has a track record of frustrating star players, including the nation’s No. 1 quarterback recruit in Isidore Newman’s Arch Manning as the Tigers won 25-17. 

Haughton’ high-powered offense that scored 36 points in a first-round upset of District 1-5A champion Airline? The Bucs didn’t reach the end zone in a Week 3 trip to Many as the Tigers rolled 35-3. 

Many bottled up Ducote enough in the 2021 quarterfinals as Rosepine managed just 12 points, and the Tigers defense enters this quarterfinals matchup not having allowed a point since Oct. 14 (four straight games). 

Many blanked a Richwood offense 21-0 that had scored 34 points or in six different games. 

“The defense has been playing well,” Curtis said. “They haven’t given up a point since Oct. 14. We have very good cover guys and a physical box. A lot of good players have played in some big games. 

Rosepine’s offense scored at least 40 points in nine of their 10 regular season games, but in the playoffs, that’s slipped to 27 points per game. 

The Eagles gutted out a 20-13 win at No. 25 Westlake after thumping District 3-2A member Red River 34-6 in the first round. 

While Rosepine familiarized itself with Thanksgiving football this past season, 2021 is the Eagles only quarterfinals contest in its streak of six playoff appearances. 

Many has a winning streak of six straight quarterfinals games (not to mention three straight semifinals games), and the Tigers are coming off a bit of a test this past week against Class 3A Richwood. 

The Tigers might have grown accustomed to running clocks in District 3-2A play, but Many led 7-0 at halftime against Richwood and needed two long second-half touchdown plays to break away from a stingy Richwood defense. 

Quarterback Tackett Curtis had touchdown runs of 47 and 20 yards to tack on to Jeremiah James’ 52-yard touchdown sprint on the first drive of the game. 

“Richwood was very good up front – as good as we’ve seen,” Jess Curtis said. “They held Union Parish and Trey Holley to 21 points as well. Add on top of that, we were very sloppy (two fumbles). We got going and did what we needed to do to win.” 

Rosepine’s defense has posted impressive numbers, allowing less than 10 points per game after holding seven regular season opponents to 10 points or fewer. 

But the Eagles’ strength factor (5.60) is the second-lowest in Non-Select Division III. Many’s strength factor was a 7.67 by comparison, which ranks in the top half. 

Rosepine boasts an impressive win 42-22 against Class 1A power Logansport, but in its biggest test of the season, Avoyelles went wild in a 68-45 victory. 

PHOTO CREDIT: Kevin Shannahan/Journal Sports

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