“…and Bears, Oh My!” The Winn Parish Bear Hunt is On!

The past few days have seen an explosion of the bear and other animal populations in our area. Keen-eyed hunters of all ages can spot bears and other stuffed creatures in every part of the parish. No need to call out Animal Control; however, the Bear Hunt has been organized to help keep youngsters occupied while school is out during the Corona situation.

Local State Farm Agent Laurinda Crenshaw added another layer of fun by posting about her businesses bear on her personal Facebook page: “Go by Laurinda Crenshaw Agency! Post a pic and pm me your address and I will send you a backpack! Let’s have fun!!!!”

This delightful idea has spread all over the country, and other nations, as people place stuffed bears and other animals in their windows for passing children to “hunt” as they go outside with their parents. It is an excellent way for the whole family to have fun together while being safe.

The Winn Parish Journal gave it a try and spotted several bears as well as birds, several Easter bunnies, and a few hogs ready for decorating. The bear hunts are a beautiful example of our community coming together in trying times.

Winn Parish Medical Center Reports First Case of COVID-19

The Winn Parish Medical Center in Winnfield announced a positive case of COVID-19 via a Facebook post last night.

The post stated: In alignment with the assurances we made to each of you as our community members, friends, and family to keep you informed at all points of this journey, we want you to know that we have received confirmation of our first positive Coronavirus patient. In our obligation to our healthcare providers, patients, staff and our community, our infection preventionist first notified the Office of Public Health, then the provider who cared for the patient, at which point that provider notified the patient. We are currently notifying all caregivers and personnel who may have come in contact with this patient during their visit at Winn Parish Medical Center. The patient was screened on an outpatient service and sent home to self-quarantine. All personal protective equipment guidelines as well as isolation precautions from the CDC were followed as prescribed. We will continue to keep you updated throughout this process as our community members are one of our top priorities. We appreciate your cooperation and teamwork as we continue to provide healthcare in a calm and well informed spirit. Thank you for helping us keep our community healthy and reducing public fear and anxiety.


City of Winnfield Declares State of Emergency – Expands Juvenile Curfew

At a Special City Council Meeting held Thursday, March 27, 2020, the city council passed an expansion of the Juvenile Curfew Ordinance. The curfew for juveniles will now start at 9 PM and end at 7 AM Monday – Sunday starting last night at 9 PM. The previous time parameters were 11 PM – 6 AM.

The City of Winnfield Code of Ordinances
Article V.  Curfew for Juveniles
Sec. 14-101 (a) states: any person under the age of 17 may not remain in a public place or on the premises of an establishment between the hours of  9 PM and 7 AM Monday through Sunday.

(b) A custodian may not permit or by insufficient control allow a juvenile under the custodian’s care or custody to violate this section.

(c) A person, firm or corporation operating or in charge of a place of amusement, entertainment, refreshment or other business which caters to or permits the presence of minors in its normal course of operation may not permit any juvenile at or on his or its premises to violate this section.

Sec. 14-104 (a) states: A custodian or other person, other than a juvenile, found in violation shall be subject to the jurisdiction of the city court and shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars ($500.00) or sentenced to not more than sixty (60) days in jail or both. For appropriate cases, the court may suspend the fine and the sentence and, as a condition of such suspension order or require the performance of up to sixty (60) hours of community service. As part of or in lieu of any other penalty that may be imposed under this section, a custodian may be required by the court to obtain counseling or to attend classes or programs to improve parenting and child rearing skills.

(b) A juvenile violating this article, his/her custodian(s), or any other member of his/her family may be subject of a complaint under Title VII of the Children’s Code (Families in Need of Services) and subject to the jurisdiction of the juvenile court.

In a press conference following the Special City Council Meeting Mayor, George Moss announced that the City of Winnfield has officially declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19. According to Moss, the declaration was necessary to qualify for federal assistance.

Winn Food Pantry Remains Open with Modifications at First Presbyterian Church

The Winn Food Pantry, operated out of the First Presbyterian Church by volunteers, continues to serve the community every Thursday from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. even during these stressful times, it was confirmed today.

A few changes in the food distribution process were initiated at the March 26 distribution that will ease concerns for both recipients and volunteers about the Governor’s mandates concerning health and safety issues at public gatherings and “social space.”

When the local resident arrives at the Food Pantry during these operating hours on their assigned week:

(1) Remain in your car.
(2) Bring your Food Pantry ID card with you.
(3) A volunteer will come out to your car to get your name and view your ID.
(4) Another volunteer will bring your food allocation to you.
(5) Included is a bag of groceries, 3 pre-selected Lagniappe items plus (new) 3 meat items and 1 dozen eggs.
(6) It’s that simple. You say “Thanks,” drive away and Be Safe.

Suppose you’re not part of the Winn Food Pantry system but would like some help. The Food Pantry wants to help you. It’s simple. First-timers should also remain in their car and tell the volunteer that they wish to sign-up. You will receive your grocery allocation that same day. The volunteer will tell you what information you need to bring with you when you return the following month. Participants in this local Food Pantry program are eligible to come back once a month to receive a new allocation. That first time you come in, you will be assigned which Thursday of each you may return.

Suppose you are already part of the Food Pantry program but, because of all the uncertainties during these health warnings weeks, you think you’ve missed your “turn.” If you missed your assigned week during March, the Food Pantry invites you to come next Thursday, bring your Food Pantry ID card and we’ll fix you up.

Louisiana Loggers Self Insured Fund Donates Medical Supplies to Winn Parish Medical Center

During these unprecedented events with constant headlines of shortages of medical supplies swirling around everyone, its refreshing to learn that local businesses are stepping up when they can.

The Louisiana Loggers Self Insured Fund (LLSIF) donated 36 pairs of safety glasses to the Winn Medical Parish Medical Center (Medical Center) this week. 

According to Mark Files, Safety Engineer at LLSIF, he recently received a call from his wife, Ashley Files, who works in human resources at the Medical Center, asking if they might have any safety glasses. Files told the WPJ that when he contacted LLSIF Office Manager Jeanie Gaar, she responded, “we’d do anything to help out the community, especially at a time like this.”

The LLSIF, located in Winnfield, was created and authorized in 1994 as an innovative alternative market for worker’s compensation coverage. Their primary objective is to offer reasonable premiums, loss control services, and superior claims management for their members.  

Capital Briefing From District 22 State Rep. Gabe Firment

Much has changed in the world since the last edition of the Capitol Briefing ran on March 11, 2020. The first case of the Coronavirus in Louisiana was reported in New Orleans on March 9th, and by March 24th that number had risen to 1,388 confirmed cases with 46 deaths and officials warning that we should expect the virus to continue to spread throughout the state with the possibility that our healthcare system could be stretched to the breaking point by this unprecedented viral outbreak. In response to the rapid growth of the virus Gov. Edwards has issued multiple emergency proclamations, including a “Stay at Home” Order on March 22nd effectively requiring all citizens to shelter in place at home and closing or restricting all non-essential businesses.

As I began contemplating how to cram all of the relevant facts, figures, dates, projections, and potential impacts of the Coronavirus into this short little article, I was struck with my first case of “writer’s block” and was momentarily overwhelmed by the apparent immensity of the crisis we are facing. In my frustration I backed away from the keyboard and looked out my office window to see the morning sun peaking above the treetops and its soft rays beginning to burn through the fog that had drifted in during the dark of night.

The radiance of the sunlight piercing the morning fog also served to burn away the haze that I had allowed to temporarily cloud my mind, and I immediately recalled that there are certain absolute truths that guide us throughout life’s ups and downs. The rising of the sun reminded me of a beautiful passage of scripture from Isaiah 45:6-7, “The words of the prophet Isaiah – that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the Lord, who does all these things.

These are uncertain and anxious times we are living in, but we can take comfort in knowing that God is on His throne, and that for those who love God all things work together for good. I have been encouraged and inspired to see how our communities have come together to help one another over the past couple of weeks, and it is my hope and prayer that this spirit of unity will continue once the virus abates and life returns to normal. Please join me in doing what we can to minister to the needs of those most vulnerable to the Coronavirus, and together we can emerge from this momentary crisis stronger and more united than ever before.

My office located at 181 Barron Road in Pollock is still open, although we have temporarily decreased our hours to comply with the governor’s recommendations. If you need assistance or have questions about the Coronavirus crisis or any other issue please call the office at (318)765-9606 or call/text my personal cell at (318)201-6769. I am providing COVID-19 updates multiple times per day on my Facebook page @GabeFirment22, and there is a great deal of information available from the state at http://ldh.la.gov/Coronavirus/. Thank you and God Bless!

Clergy Corner with Pastor Tommel Hamms

Greetings in the name of our Savior and Lord,

It is my honor and privilege to share with you in this edition of the Clergy Corner. I certainly know and admit that we are indeed in challenging times currently globally, nationally, and locally. We are all experiencing something that is unprecedented. However, I remain confident that our loving Father will sustain us and cause us to prevail even through this difficulty. As I reflect upon this moment in history, the Word of God in Romans 8:28 comes to mind. In this passage the apostle Paul declares, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” In this season beloved, we must trust that every circumstance is being used to give God glory in our lives. Keep in mind that Paul does not say that all things will be good. He says that all things will be worked and brought together for good. In order for us to be the believer God has called us to be, we must be able to endure difficult times as well as simplistic times. Our development rests upon our ability to maintain our walk with God in “valley experiences” as well as the “mountaintop moments.”

An electrocardiogram gives a person a record or display of a person’s heartbeat. If the lines are up and down continuously, then that reflects normal heartbeat or life. If the lines are straight continuously, then the heart is not beating and there is no life. Understand that the ups and downs, the ebbs and flows of your existence simply reflect life. Trust in the providence of God to protect and preserve you regardless of the circumstances. Just as the flat keys and sharp keys work together to form beautiful music on a piano, I pray that God uses every circumstance in your life to bring you promotion, power, and peace. Remember that it’s working together for good! May God bless you and keep you in perfect peace.

Humbly submitted,
G. Tomell Hamms
New Zion Missionary Baptist Church
Winnfield, La

State Colleges and Universities Seek Students, Retired and Active Healthcare Volunteers to Help Combat COVID-19

Healthcare students, healthcare workers and retired healthcare workers have an opportunity to join the fight against COVID-19 by volunteering to help the state and the healthcare system. Louisiana Volunteers is a partnership of all higher education institutions in Louisiana, led by the University of Louisiana System and Louisiana State University, to mobilize students and graduates in healthcare professions.

Volunteers from across Louisiana’s universities and community colleges with backgrounds in medicine, nursing, allied health professions, dentistry, pharmacy, counseling, mental/behavioral health and laboratory science, among others, are encouraged to become involved.

The purpose of the http://www.COVID-19LAVolunteers.org website is to primarily mobilize healthcare students and graduates from universities and colleges throughout Louisiana to volunteer their time and talents, serving as force-multipliers to the existing healthcare workforce that is quickly getting stretched thin.

The website is also available to active members or retirees of Louisiana’s healthcare workforce who are willing and able to assist in this statewide workforce augmentation effort.

“It is our goal to leverage these volunteers as case managers and care coordinators to remotely and safely work with individuals with COVID-19 positive diagnoses, and to monitor patient conditions while under self-quarantine, said Dr. Ramesh Kolluru, chief innovation officer for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and vice president for research, innovation and economic development at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. “Using COVID-19 protocols from CMS and the Louisiana Department of Health, and in coordination with the healthcare systems, these volunteers will direct patients to specific hospitals in their communities, if and only when needed. We expect this will limit the number of patients showing up at hospitals/ERs, causing a significant burden on the healthcare system, while relieving patients and their families the burden of shopping around for hospitals with beds, staff, resources, and the ability to take in COVID-19 patients.”

Ramesh said this collaboration is a tool for purposeful service, student engagement and volunteerism that exemplifies the spirit of Louisiana and undergirds Louisianians’ innate ability to recover from disasters and adversity.

“We believe that more than 9,000 of healthcare students from our universities and colleges are willing and able to join hands (figuratively speaking) with our amazing healthcare workers on the frontlines to help the state through this crisis,” Kolluru said.


Blessed….or Lucky?

By Reba Phelps

“As luck would have it”, is a phrase that I have mindlessly used many times. Or sometimes, if I am being dramatic I will say, “As fate would have it.” But, either of the two phrases that I choose to use at the given time are not being true to my deep spiritual roots.

The formal definition of luck is; the success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions. Force that brings good fortune or adversity. This, to me, sounds too random to be a good thing.

The key word in that definition that caused me to raise an eyebrow was the word, “apparently”. That word itself gives no guarantee.

With the events that have occurred in my own life, have always had me leaning towards the belief in divine intervention. Divine intervention and luck are horses of two different colors.

I truly believe that Google said it best. “Being blessed means there are people who care about you. Being lucky means you are controlled not cared for. Being blessed means handwork through out the life. Being lucky means you don’t know how to work hard to achieve things”.

Blessings and luck will be always be debated depending upon where your faith lies. I always find it humorous when people post on Facebook about being “lucky”… it takes three milli-seconds for a well-meaning but sassy Christian to come back with a spiritual correction. You are, “blessed”, and not “lucky”.

The more time I spend studying the Bible and growing spiritually I realize that for me, there is no such thing as luck. Luck is the most random thing that can happen to you. You didn’t earn it, you are not favored and pure luck can happen to anyone. In my eyes it is almost admitting that God is not in charge of our daily lives and does not have his hand on every single event that may or may not befall us.

There is no way that luck brought me two of the most healthy and amazing daughters that someone could ask for. There is no way luck would bring me a career that has been completely fulfilling. Then, place me in a position where I can comfortably take care of my daughters as a single mom. Luck doesn’t favor me so deeply that I am still able to give of my time, talent and occasionally, money to the less fortunate or charity.

Luck did not grant my family twenty additional years with my mom after her health took a sharp turn for the worse. Luck didn’t save and redeem my father when he was headed for a life of crime and poverty. Luck didn’t place my dad in a rural church with a small congregation that would support him and his family for 30 years.

Luck doesn’t care that much. Luck is not that invested in you. No ones luck can be that consistent day in and day out.

But….my God is that consistent.

Whether you choose to feel blessed or you choose to feel lucky, you will always get back what you put into this world. If you sow seeds of generosity, joy, peace and happiness you, and your children, will surely receive that back. If you choose to sow seeds of greed, sadness, despair and discontentment then you, and your children, will surely receive that right back, multiplied.

But, as for me and my house we will always choose to be blessed over being lucky.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.”
Jeremiah 17:7

Bank of Winnfield Modifies Operations Due to COVID-19

As of Monday, March 23rd, Bank of Winnfield’s lobby will be closed to walk-in traffic. Bankers will be available by appointment only for loans, access to safe deposit boxes, and for new account services. Their regular and drive-in hours will be 7:30-5:00 Monday – Friday at their main office and Northside Branch. Their Northside drive-in will also be open on Saturday from 7:30-12:00 noon.

You may continue to use their two ATM locations, internet banking, mobile banking and even old fashioned telephone banking for your banking needs.

Bank of Winnfield has been in operation since 1901 and is an FDIC insured institution. They want to assure you that your money is safe and that they will continue to provide excellent service while taking care of all our customers, employees, and families.

Louisiana Department of Health Reports One Case of COVID-19 in Winn Parish

The Louisiana Department of Health’s most recent report updated at 12PM reports Winn Parish has one confirmed case of COVID-19.

Winn Parish Police Jury President, Josh McAllister addressed the report with a statement on his Facebook page stating, “We have our first confirmed case of COVID 19 in Winn Parish, which means it has already been here for several days. This is not a big surprise and we ask everyone to keep practicing social distancing and do not get out unless you have too.”

Bank of Winnfield Modifies Operations Due to COVID-19

As of Monday, March 23rd, Bank of Winnfield’s lobby will be closed to walk-in traffic. Bankers will be available by appointment only for loans, access to safe deposit boxes, and for new account services. Their regular and drive-in hours will be 7:30-5:00 Monday – Friday at their main office and Northside Branch. Their Northside drive-in will also be open on Saturday from 7:30-12:00 noon.

You may continue to use their two ATM locations, internet banking, mobile banking and even old fashioned telephone banking for your banking needs.

Bank of Winnfield has been in operation since 1901 and is an FDIC insured institution. They want to assure you that your money is safe and that they will continue to provide excellent service while taking care of all our customers, employees, and families.

Winn Parish Arrest Report

Winn Parish Sheriff’s Office
Name: Jose Ricardo Amaya
Date: 3-17-20
Time: 4:40 PM
Address: Homeless
Race: H
Sex: M
Age: 52
Charge: Simple Assault, Remaining on Premises After Forbidden
Bond: Released to ICE – Released on Citation

Name: Sun Rayven Kohlmann
Date: 3-24-20
Time: 4:19 PM
Address: Montgomery, LA
Race: W
Sex: F
Age: 18
Charge: Burglary of inhabited Dwelling, Possession of Stolen Things
Bond: Bond Not Listed

Name: Derek Coolmon
Date: 3-24-20
Time: 4:20 PM
Address: Montgomery, LA
Race: W
Sex: M
Age: 18
Charge: Burglary of inhabited Dwelling, Possession of Stolen Things
Bond: Bond Not Listed

Winnfield Police Department
Name: Ernest C. Smith
Date: 3-17-20
Time: 6:14 PM
Address: Winnfield, LA
Race: B
Sex: M
Age: 50
Charge: Unauthorized use of a Motor Vehicle, Unauthorized Entry of an Inhabited Dwelling, Possession of CDS I (Synthetic Marijuana)
Bond: $16,500 + Restrictions

Name: Stacy M. Thissell
Date: 3-19-20
Time: 12:45 PM
Address: Jonesboro, LA
Race: B
Sex: F
Age: 48
Charge: Theft of a Motor-vehicle
Bond: $7,500 + Restrictions

Name: Latasha S. Green
Date: 3-20-20
Time: 12:24 AM
Address: Winnfield, LA
Race: B
Sex: F
Age: 38
Charge: Aggravated Battery (Domestic Violence)
Bond: Bond not listed

Name: Vanessa R. Reeves
Date: 3-20-20
Time: 10:05 AM
Address: Unknown
Race: W
Sex: F
Age: 36
Charge: Entry on or Remaining in Places or on Land After Being Forbidden
Bond: Released with Summons