Family Seeks Information in Missing Persons Case

A $4,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the verified location and return of Timothy “Timmy” Lee Northcutt.

Northcutt has been missing since July 2nd at approximately 2:30 AM. If you have any information regarding the whereabouts of Northcutt contact Candy Northcutt at 225-290-9306 or Officer David Loftin at the Winnfield Police Department at 318-628-3511.

Name: Timothy Lee Northcutt
Age: 52
Hair Color: Brown Mostly Gray
Weight: 170 +/-
Height: 5’10”
Last Seen: At Lil Brown Bag headed toward Mt. Grace in Winnfield, LA around 2:30 AM


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Winnfield Police Department Arrest Report

Date: 5-17-22
Name: Darrion Simmons
Address: Campti, LA
Race: Black
Sex: Male
Age: 20
Charge: Theft of motor vehicle. Criminal trespassing, Criminal conspiracy

Date: 5-18-22
Name: Cameron C Joe
Address: Hodge, LA
Race: Black
Sex: Male
Age: 18
Charge: 1st Degree Murder

Date: 5-20-22
Name: James B Hanson
Address: Tullos, LA
Race: White
Sex: Male
Age: 42
Charge: Unauthorized entry into a dwelling

Date:5-21-22
Name: Kandice Wise
Address: Dodson, LA
Race: White
Sex: Female
Age: 43
Charge: Theft (1,000)

THIS INFORMATION HAS BEEN PROVIDED BY A LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY AS PUBLIC INFORMATION. PERSONS NAMED OR SHOWN IN PHOTOGRAPHS OR VIDEO AS SUSPECTS IN A CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION, OR ARRESTED AND CHARGED WITH A CRIME, HAVE NOT BEEN CONVICTED OF ANY CRIMINAL OFFENSE AND ARE PRESUMED INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY IN A COURT OF LAW.


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Niki Etheridge Speaks to Rotary

Rotarian of the day, Jennifer Vidrine, invited one of her favorite entrepreneurs in Winnfield to speak to Winnfield Rotary Club on May 18, 2022, Niki Etheridge. Ms. Etheridge is a native of Winnfield and currently the owner of Pretty Baked on West Court Street, with big plans for the future!

Niki began her career in the consumer services industry during her high school years when she transformed her love of baking into a business by baking cakes for friends and neighbors to make extra
money. She also worked at Kids’ World.

After graduation from high school, Ms. Etheredge obtained her degree in Consumer Services from Northwestern State University. Then she worked with her father-in-law at Mama D’s, following which she once again worked with children at First Baptist’s child care program. In her spare time, she baked cakes for special occasions.

In 2018, Niki took the plunge into the consumer service industry by opening her current business, Pretty Baked, located in the little red building on West Court Street. At first, she served cupcakes and coffee, gradually expanding the menu, and then in January 2020, she began serving lunches. Unfortunately, COVID-19 hit that year causing the shutdown of nonessential businesses, and the coffee, cupcake and lunch businesses closed. Ms. Etheridge modified her business, preparing meals to be taken home to feed families.

Eventually, she was able to reopen the Pretty Baked coffee and lunch business to the public, with various sandwich and lunch specialties including her hot chicken lunch. Recently, she has partnered with the mobile flower company, the Pink Petal, to provide special Mother’s Day treats, and presented an educational session on coffee, teaching about different coffee beans and roasting methods, and different brewing methods, such as cold brew, espresso, and others. Currently, Pretty Baked is open from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. five days a week, and from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. two nights a week.

Niki has plans to grow the business in the future and has already begun seeing those plans blossom. She and her husband have purchased the old bulk depot building on Crawford Street behind Town & Country, and are planning to open an 85-seat restaurant with a full bar, back patio and game area. They will specialize in providing a nice farm-to-table dinner for couples, with all foods sourced locally. Initially, they may have to purchase produce in Ruston but they will have a garden at the depot from which to gather fresh produce for the restaurant right there on the premises.

Pretty Baked will continue to serve the community but will move to the Depot. The dinner restaurant will offer the same items that are now on the Pretty Baked menu, adding to the supper menu, along with steak, fish and pasta dishes. The menu will change every four to five months, depending on seasonal availability and preferences. Ms. Etheridge anticipates the depot building will be ready to open the restaurant by March 2023.

Rotary adjourned its meeting with its motto, “Service above self!”


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Kiwanis April 2022 Terrific Kids

The Winnfield Kiwanis Club recently presented its Terrific Kid awards to students around Winn Parish.

Terrific Kids is a student-recognition program that promotes character development, self-esteem and perseverance. “Terrific” is an acronym for Thoughtful, Enthusiastic, Respectful, Responsible, Inclusive, Friendly, Inquisitive and Capable.

Students work with their classroom teacher to establish goals to improve behavior, peer relationships, attendance or schoolwork. All students who achieve their goals after a specified time are recognized as Terrific Kids. Recognition includes being pinned as a Terrific Kid; a pizza, ice cream or other food-themed party; and presentation of certificates and other giveaways.

Atlanta

Left to right: Macey Ray, Korbyn Wise, Harmonie Sapp, Lovince Solet, Demontrez Sapp.
Principal Wendy Miller, Kiwanian Les Michie

Winnfield Primary School

Kindergarten
Left to right: Della Etheridge, Denver Bostick, Bae Smith, Elliotte Ford.
Administrative Assistant Resa Johnson, Kiwanian Joe Evans, Principal Tiffany Martin.

Grade 1
Left to right: Keegan O’Bryan, Marcie Vidrine, Jourdan Guillory, Vivian Costanza.
Administrative Assistant Resa Johnson, Kiwanian Joe Evans, Principal Tiffany Martin.

Grade 2
Left to right: Ayden Abels, Scarlett Admire, Nevaeh Whitaker. Administrative Assistant Resa Johnson, Kiwanian Joe Evans, Principal Tiffany Martin.

Grade 3
Left to right: Krystal Adams, Skylar Hollingsworth, Brandon Marvel.
Administrative Assistant Resa Johnson, Kiwanian Joe Evans, Principal Tiffany Martin.

Grade 4
Left to right: Anna Huckaby, Kingston McGuire, Atalia Parker. Administrative Assistant Resa Johnson, Kiwanian Joe Evans, Principal Tiffany Martin


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WPSB Committee Meetings Tonight

The Winn Parish School Board Committees will meet in a special called meeting Monday, May 23, 2022, at 5:00 PM in the meeting room of the Winn Parish School Board.

WINN PARISH SCHOOL BOARD
Committee Meeting Agenda
May 23, 2022

Academics and Instruction – Carpenter, Clingan, Howell, Long, McManus
1. Professional Development

Finance and Budget – Long, Harrell, Howell, Martin, Scott
1. Property Tax Information
2. Insurance Renewals

Personnel and Salary – Harrell, Browning, Carpenter, Martin, Riffe
1. Staffing 2022-23

Insurance Claim Review – Martin, Clingan, McManus
1. Wokers’ Comp Settlement

Executive – Walton, Carpenter, Martin
1. Set Agenda


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LDWF Enforcement Division Participating in “Safe Boating Week” May 21-27

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division will be participating in “Safe Boating Week” from May 21-27, which signifies the beginning of the spring and summer boating season.

LDWF will again be reminding all boaters to be safe, responsible and knowledgeable while on the water during this safe boating week.  Safe Boating Week is a time for all boaters to inspect their vessels to ensure that all required safety equipment is on board and that vessels are in good working condition.

LDWF agents will be out in full force as always during the week to perform boating safety checks that includes making sure all personal flotation device (PFD) regulations are being followed and that each vessel has a sober operator.

“Safe boating week is a good time to make sure your boat and all of your safety equipment is ready to go,” said Major Clay Marques, the state’s safe boating law administrator.  “We want to people to have fun on the water, but to do it in a safe and responsible manner.  That starts with wearing a personal flotation device and having a sober operator.”

In 2021, Louisiana reported 26 boating fatalities of which 19 of the fatalities were not wearing a personal flotation device.  So far, in 2022 Louisiana has reported 10 fatalities.

Each vessel should have enough PFDs on board for all occupants.  LDWF regulations also state that anyone 16 years of age and younger must wear a PFD while underway in vessels less than 26-foot long.  For more boating and PFD regulations, please visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov and click on the “Boating” tab.

Alcohol use is one of the leading causes of boating crash incidents and fatalities on the water.  Alcohol consumption impairs a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time.  The penalties for operating or driving a vessel while intoxicated (DWI) are the same as driving a vehicle.  Anyone cited for a DWI on the water or on the road will lose his or her driver’s license and boating privileges for the specified time ordered by the judge in the case.

LDWF also wants to remind anybody born after Jan. 1, 1984 that they are required to successfully complete a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) boating education course to operate a motorboat over 10 horsepower.  Since the safe boating course’s inception in 2003, over 140,000 boaters have been certified in Louisiana.

LDWF offers these classes free of charge statewide.  For more information and to schedule a safe boating course, please visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/boater-education.


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Drawdown for Saline Lake (Natchitoches and Winn Parishes)

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has scheduled a drawdown of Saline Lake (Natchitoches and Winn Parishes) for giant salvinia management, reduction of organic muck, and fish habitat improvement. The drawdown is designed to reduce the further expansion of salvinia as summertime temperatures promote maximum growth.

The water control structure is scheduled to open on June 1, 2022, and the lake should dewater at a rate of 4 inches per day. The water level will be lowered to a maximum drawdown level of 8 feet below normal pool stage, depending on Red River Pool 3 water level. The Saline Lake control gates are scheduled for closure on October 3, 2022, to allow the lake to refill for fall, winter and early-spring recreational activities.

During the drawdown, an estimated 2,500-3,000 acres of water will remain in the lake. Boaters may still access the main waterbody from the Mulligan Inn Boat Ramp with small craft, but caution is advised. Caution is also advised when on the water, as numerous obstructions that are normally not seen are present.

This action is a necessary component of LDWF’s integrated plan to manage overabundant aquatic vegetation and to improve access for recreational activities. An annual cycle of high and low water fluctuation can provide beneficial effects similar to a natural overflow lake system.

For additional information regarding the drawdown, contact Villis Dowden, LDWF Biologist, at (318) 357-3214.


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Put Hope Within Reach! Sponsor a Student at Louisiana Adult & Teen Challenge – Meet Laura F.

Meet Laura F.

Louisiana Adult & Teen Challenge exists to provide men and women with an effective residential, biblically-based solution to life-controlling problems. Our purpose is to produce graduates who function responsibly and productively in society, and who have healthy relationships in the workplace, family, church and community.

Adult & Teen Challenge is one of the largest and most successful accredited programs of its kind with over 1000 residential locations worldwide. Louisiana Adult & Teen Challenge was founded by Greg and Abigail Dill in 1987. Over the last 35 years, we have grown to 8 campuses statewide, with the ability to accommodate men, women, and women with their children.

WHAT IS STUDENT SPONSORSHIP?

Students often come into Louisiana Adult & Teen Challenge with little or no hope in life. They have burned every bridge and lost almost everything due to drug abuse and other crimes. Most times, they have little outside help supporting them during this time; therefore, we do not charge a monthly tuition. If you would like to help offset these costs, you can sponsor a student for as little as $35 a month. You can also sponsor a child that is enrolled here with their mother for an additional $15 per child. Your sponsorship means that they have someone who cares and is invested in their success!

As a monthly sponsor, you can expect:

  • A packet with information about your student
  • Monthly updates
  • The opportunity to write letters to your student
  • The opportunity to send care packages to your student
  • You can pray for them
  • You will receive a personal invitation to attend their Graduation Ceremony

For more information about becoming a sponsor visit https://www.louisianateenchallenge.com/sponsorship/


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Winn 4-H Outdoors Skills Banquet June 4th

The Winn 4-H/Outdoor Skills Banquest is Saturday, June 4, 2022, at the Winnfield Civic Center. Social time begins at 5 PM and dinner begins at 6:30 PM.

Ticket prices are $35 for individuals and $60 for a couple. Eight-person sponsor tables are available for $350.

Included with the ticket price is dinner, silent auction, live auction, door prizes, raffles, games and more.

All proceeds will benefit the Winn Parish 4-H and Shooting Sports programs.


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Angler’s Perspective – Stormy Waters II

By Steve Graf

Bass fishermen are weather fanatics! We are constantly looking at the forecast and what to expect for our next event. We are so enthralled with the weather that we will look at the forecast 10 days in advance so we can start planning our fishing strategy. But nothing gets an angler’s attention quicker than stormy skies. During my 32 years as a tournament angler, there have been a couple of situations that really made me nervous.

Back in 2015 on Toledo Bend was one such day, as the forecast was for clear skies with light and variable winds out of the south at 10 to 15 MPH. But you must first understand that a south wind on Toledo Bend means it’s coming right down the pipe. It’s a lake where even a small amount of wind out of the north or the south can make navigation difficult. The problem with Toledo Bend is that you must run the boat roads which puts you out in the middle of the lake most of the time. To compare, Sam Rayburn has no boat roads, and you can run closer to the bank and get out of the wind most of the time.

But on this one occasion in 2015, the tournament was out of Fin & Feather Resort on the far south end of Toledo Bend. This resort is located on the south bank of what is called Six Mile Bay. A south wind has no impact on this area and is an area you can fish without much of a problem. But as my number was called for takeoff and I headed for the main lake to make a run north and across the lake to Negreet Creek, I was met with 20 plus MPH winds and four-foot rollers (waves). One thing about driving a boat, it’s a lot easier to go against the waves rather than go with them. As I made the turn north in this rough water, it was apparent rather quickly that my run to Negreet Creek was not going to happen.

After riding four-foot waves for about three miles and beating my co-angler and myself to death, I finally came to a pocket on the west side I could pull into and possibly fish. After we gained our composure and dried off from our soaking short run, I told my co-angler to settle in for the day because we were not going to go out and fight that kind of rough water until time to go back for the weigh-in.

Another problem with running in this kind of rough water is the wear and tear on your boat and equipment. I’ve seen anglers come in with trolling motors hanging off or their electronic fish sonars no longer on the boat after a rough ride in. Boat hulls have sustained major damage and anglers have been hurt fighting waves and trying to stay in the boat on these long runs back. At some point as an angler, you must ask yourself, “Is it worth tearing up all my equipment for a few pounds of fish?”

The answer for me is a resounding “NO,” as I must not only worry about myself, but I have a co-angler that I’m responsible for getting back safely. After a long day of fishing, we headed back with south winds now exceeding 25 MPH. We were over three miles from the boat ramp, and I knew it was going to take at least an hour to go that distance in that kind of water. So, we left at 2:00 for a 3:00 weigh-in time. It was a good thing we did as I was never able to put the boat on a plane and run. We literally idled the entire three miles back to Six Mile Bay and made our check in time with only two minutes to spare. I’ve only kissed the ground twice in my life, once on Sam Rayburn and this day on Toledo Bend.

Again, anglers face all kinds of weather every season, but nothing affects us or our decisions more than wind. The first question I always ask myself when a decision must be made is, “Is it worth it?” Most of the time, the answer is “no” and will always be “no” when it comes to the safety of my co-angler and myself. Until next time, good luck, good fishing and don’t forget to set the hook!

Steve Graf – Owner/Co-host
Hook’N Up & Track’N Down Show & Tackle Talk Live


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Medical Minute – Act FAST and Save a Life

By: Dr. James Lee

Would you know the signs of stroke if someone you loved developed them? Would you know what to do if someone was having a stroke? May is Stroke Awareness Month and a good time to review the signs of stroke, what to do if you suspect someone is having a stroke, and what you can do to prevent a stroke.

Every year there are more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke. That is one person every 40 seconds. This results in 137,000 deaths in the US or 1 death every 3.5 minutes. Of these strokes, 185,000, nearly 1 in 4, are in people who have had previous strokes. In Louisiana, there were 2,566 deaths from stroke in 2020. Stroke is the leading cause of serious long-term disability and stroke related cost in the United States was $53 Billion between 2017 and 2018. Most importantly, 80% of strokes are preventable with lifestyle changes.

F.A.S.T is a pneumonic to help remember the warning signs of stroke. “F” stands for facial drooping. One side of the face loses muscle tone, resulting in the appearance of drooping eye and down-turned corner of the mouth. “A” stands for arm weakness. A stroke victim will not be able to raise and hold both arms at shoulder height. They also may have leg weakness on the same side as arm weakness, making it difficult to walk. “S” is for slurred speech or unintelligible speech. “T” stands for time to call 911. The more time it takes to recognize and get someone medical care, the more brain cells die and result in increased disability. Other symptoms include numbness on one side of the body, confusion, difficulty seeing in one or both eyes, and severe headache without a cause.

There are two types of strokes, Ischemic and hemorrhagic. Ischemic strokes are caused by a blockage that prevents blood flow to the brain, usually a clot. A few minutes of blockage can result in significant, long-lasting disabilities. 87% of strokes are ischemic. A TIA or transient ischemic attack, or “mini-stroke” are blockages that occur for a very short time with no long-term effects. TIA is a warning sign, and the symptoms are like a stroke, but go away quickly. Often, this is ignored, but it needs to be taken seriously and reported to your doctor because the risk of a serious stroke is higher in patients with TIA. Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when an artery in the brain ruptures. The resultant bleeding causes an increase in pressure on the brain cells causing damage. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for hemorrhagic stroke, but aneurysms, blood thinners, and trauma can all lead to hemorrhagic stroke.

Risk factors for stroke can be separated into those that can be changed or managed, and those that cannot. High blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, birth control pills, obesity, lack of exercise, high cholesterol and lipids, tobacco use, more than two drinks a day, and illegal drug use can all be avoided or managed to decrease the risk of stroke. Increasing age, African American race, prior history of stroke, and family history of strokes cannot be changed. Gender also plays a role; with a stroke occurring more often in men but resulting in death in more women than men. Interestingly, strokes are more common in the Southeastern United States than in other areas. It is thought that this may be due to regional differences in lifestyle, diet, race, and smoking habits. If you have any of these risk factors, you should be having a discussion with your doctor about what can be done to reduce your risk of stroke.

There is no cure for stroke once it has occurred. Ideally, treatment should be started within 60 minutes after arrival at the hospital. The sooner stroke is identified, and the patient gets to the hospital, the better the outcomes. Treatment is based on the type, cause, and severity of the stroke, as well as where it occurs in the brain. It also is dependent on the overall health and how a patient responds to therapy and medicine. Medications to treat stroke include clot-busting drugs, life support measures, and medications to reduce brain swelling. Surgery can be used to relieve pressure and remove clots from the brain or repair bleeding. Surgery can also be used as a preventative measure for strokes, such as blockages in the carotid artery, aneurysms in the brain, and holes in the heart from birth.

In summary, stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in the United States. Rapid recognition, including the F.A.S.T pneumonic, leads to quicker treatment and results in improved outcomes in patients who have had strokes. Identification of personal risk factors for stroke should prompt you to have a discussion with your doctor about strategies to reduce your risk of stroke. Finally, lifestyle changes should be made and include tobacco cessation, diet, and exercise, limiting alcohol intake, avoiding illegal drugs, and taking the medication your doctor prescribes for your medical conditions.

Dr. James Lee serves as the Coroner of Winn Parish. He is a General Surgeon and Surgical Oncologist who has been practicing in Winnfield for over ten years. Dr. Lee attended the University of Colorado for his medical degree. He completed his residency in Surgery at the University of Oklahoma before completing a fellowship in Surgical Oncology and Endoscopy at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY. Dr. Lee and his wife Scarlett live in Winnfield with their son and are active in the community.


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Blessed: Graduation Season

By: Reba Phelps

The month of May boasts many memorable holidays and events. We honor our Mothers, we remember our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day, Cinco de Mayo, Teacher Appreciation Week and the Kentucky Derby. May, in the South, also indicates the end of the school year for most students.

Last, and certainly not least, May is graduation season.

Recently I was looking through my own senior book with all of my memorabilia. It is a book that recorded all of my future goals and dreams, photos of friends, copies of old prom invitations and tickets to concerts that were attended. It truly is fun to go back and chuckle at the differences in me now compared to thirty years ago. Most of it is a little on the embarrassing side, especially when I ran across my school transcript.

Looking at that old transcript always brings a sense of sadness and regret. As I mention to anyone that will listen to me, I simply was not a good student and I often want to apologize to my old teachers when I see them. I was more on the social pathway and not so much on the academic pathway. I try not to wonder how different my life would have looked had I really applied myself during those days. I also remember the deep seeded stress and worry of not knowing if I would graduate.

Last week I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Lakeview High School graduation ceremony. Having worn my own Lakeview green cap and gown in 1992, I was thrilled at the chance to celebrate with this class and the administration.

As I made my way to the stage to sit with my fellow School Board members and dignitaries for the evening, I was overcome with a huge sense of unworthiness, humbleness and gratefulness. Here was this lowly ranked student, who struggled every day….preparing to go and shake the hands of these hard working graduates. My sense of not belonging quickly subsided as the Pomp and Circumstance Graduation March began to play.

As the song played, the crowd of parents, grandparents, siblings, neighbors and friends went wild clapping and cheering for their graduate. There were families with matching t-shirts, (my family never did this for me…just saying) signs and banners that declared their student’s name. I even saw huge signs with large face cut-outs of their students. I truly had chills of excitement and became teary eyed for these students as well as the love and pride that was being shown to the children.

This week I also was blessed to celebrate with the graduating class of Natchitoches Parish Technical and Career Center. It was a smaller class in size but definitely not in school spirit. I watched each one of these hard working students walk across the stage donning baby blue caps and gowns with such pride and happiness. There may have been a look or two of relief in there as well. If they were like me, they were certainly relieved!

Thursday night was Marthaville Junior High’s 8th grade graduation and the whole community showed up to support these amazing children as they make their way into high school.

Having shaken the hands of most of these graduates, all I could think of was the amount of praying, tutoring, fussing, juggling and sacrifices that all of these parents had to make in order for their child to graduate. It has been a beautiful week celebrating public education and we will continue celebrating with the Natchitoches Central Chiefs on Friday night.

It will always be the biggest blessing for me to have a front row seat, or any seat for that matter, to watch our students in Natchitoches Parish Public Schools graduate. Student achievement is why we do what we do. I cannot begin to imagine the pride that our teachers and staff must feel when they see their students outfitted in a cap and gown. Mission accomplished. These graduates will now enter into our workforce, enter into our colleges and begin their first steps to adulthood. Education is the backbone of our society and I think Natchitoches Parish produces some of the best and brightest young scholars this state has to offer.

Please always pray for our educators and school staff. It is an extremely hard but rewarding job shaping the minds of students and teaching them how to be successful, well rounded adults.

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
1 Timothy 4:12


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Road Trip to Tensas Doesn’t Disappoint

By: Glynn Harris

Two years ago when I visited the Tensas National Wildlife Refuge in Madison Parish for the first time, I hoped to see a bear. It didn’t happen but I saw enough and triggered the interest in my wife sufficiently that she wanted to go see this remarkable place.

A year later, it all came together when we were invited by my friend and regular Tensas visitor, Dr. Terry Jones, for the trip over to tour the refuge which touches parts of three parishes, Madison, Tensas and Franklin.

This special part of our state has a fascinating history. Founded in 1980 to preserve one of the largest privately owned tracts of bottomland hardwoods remaining in the Mississippi River delta, the refuge encompasses some 80,000 acres of pure swampy bottomland hardwood majesty. This type of habitat once covered 25 million acres, the majority of which over the years was cleared to make way for farmland, the rich soils being the major attraction.

Today, these same rich soils support some 400 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. The largest population of the threatened Louisiana black bears live here. Tantalizing too is the fact that the last verified sighting of the Ivory Billed Woodpecker, now believed to be extinct, was in 1940 on the area that now makes up the Tensas National Wildlife Refuge.

With that bit of history laid out, now back to this past Monday when we drove over to see what Tensas would show us. She didn’t disappoint.

First, Jones led us to the check station where mandatory forms were completed so refuge managers can keep count of the number of visitors. Then we headed down Mill Road where Jones and I had seen alligators on our previous visit. While not as many as we had seen on our

last visit, they were there; we watched five gators paddling easily over the waters of a borrow pit with the largest being maybe 10 feet long.

After photographing the alligators, we reversed course, drove back to the check station where Jones suggested I lead out on a slow drive down Quebec Road, telling us to keep an eye out for “critters.”

“We have sometimes seen bears along this drive,” Jones said as we motored away.

A mile or so down the road, something caught my eye. There was a bear in the roadside ditch maybe 10 feet from the car. She ascended the shallow bank and stopped next to a large tree. My wife and watched spellbound as two tiny bear cubs followed her up the bank. Our cameras and those of Jones, who had pulled to a stop behind me, were busy photographing the bear and her little ones.

They remained in the same spot as we drove off down the road talking about how fortunate we were to see such a sight. Turning around half an hour later and returning to the spot, lo and behold, the trio of bears was still there.

We got to watch one of the little guys climb a few yards up the tree for a better look, with our cameras snapping away and disrupting their afternoon of doing whatever they were doing when we spotted them.

Finally, mama bear had had enough of all the attention. She glared at us sitting in our vehicles 20 steps away from her, then rushed forward a few feet making a “huff, huff” sound.

We got the message. We had gotten to witness what we came to see and drove away leaving the bears to themselves but left with memories we won’t soon forget.


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