Winn Parish District Judge Request Additional Funds to Keep Court Operating

In a letter to the Winn Parish Police Jury (Jury) dated May 27th, 2020, Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Jacque Derr (Court) asked the Jury to commit to paying court expenses the Court cannot pay after June. 

In a Special Called Meeting of the Jury held on June 23rd, 2020, the Court provided a detailed list of its monthly expenses, monthly income ,and its deficiency for June. 

Net Payroll (4 Employees, does not include secretary
court reporter, court attendants)
Health Insurance Liability$4,143.56
Payroll Tax Liability (Federal)$1872.24
Unemployment Tax Liability$59.79
Retirement Liability$2519.38
La Dept of Revenue Liability$430.02
Verizon Wireless$140.00
AT&T (one line and one fax line)$220.38
Suddenlink (internet)$152.45
Office Supplies$333.65
Library (paperback books necessary for court)$300.00
Dues and Registration$81.25
Total Monthly Expenses$18,708.61
Monthly Expenses for Court (does not include employees paid by Jury)
Secretary’ Voucher$5013.72
Bench Warrant Recall Fees$525.00
2% Bond Fee$976.50
Civil Filing Fees$230.00
Settlement of Fines$690.00
Court’s Estimated Income Based on Most Recent Collections

The monthly income for the Court varies from month to month depending on the civil filing fees collected by the Winn Parish Clerk of Court, criminal fines and court costs collected, bench warrant recall fees collected, and 2% bond fee collected by the Winn Parish Sheriff. The secretary’s voucher remains the same each month, provided funds are available. According to the minutes of the meeting, the Court’s other revenue source is the Criminal Court Fund, which is the settlement of fines paid to the Sheriff’s office. The Sheriff’s office and District Attorney’s office each get 12%, with 76% going to the Police Jury for the Criminal Court Fund. That fund is shared by the Judge and the District Attorney. Per Louisiana Revised Statutes, the Jury also pays the following expenses not included in the tables above: court reporter, juror & witness fees, and court attendants (bailiffs & clerks) totaling $75,501 per year. Those items are in addition to providing an office in the Courthouse, a Courtroom accessible to the public, equipment, furniture, and janitorial services pursuant to statute. 

Monthly Expenses for the Court$18,702.36
Estimated Monthly Income for Court Based on
Most Recent Collections (could increase or decrease)
Amount Court Request from Jury$11,267.14
Recap of Expenses, Estimated Income and Amount Request

In the recording of the 23rd meeting Judge Derr stated “I just want y’all to understand that if you can’t fund me the Court is fixing to shut down and the jail is fixing to fill up” he went on to say “that’s not a threat, that’s just what’s fixing to happen.” “It’s going to be a mess, but I don’t intend to work my head off trying to keep the court running with one employee, I can’t do that.” Jury President Josh McAllister pointed out that $11,267.14 is more than the Jury pays their entire staff per month and that the jury had to layoff people when they took office to save on expenses. McAllister then asked the Judge, “does it have to be $11,267.14, or that’s it?” The Judge responded, “If I can’t have some assurance that I’m going to be able to pay my people, then I’m going to have to send them home. And, if I can’t have them, there’s not going to be any court.” Juror Author Robinson asked the Judge if during the time the court has been shut down, did your people work, did they not work, and draw a full salary, or were they laid off and drew unemployment? The Judge responded, “we worked, they worked…we only worked three days a week because of the fact we couldn’t have court, but we worked at the same salaries that we had.” The judge warned the Jury “I’m just telling you that if we can’t operate the court, we can’t convict people, we can’t get them off of you due to the jail situation, and it could possibly end up that if we can’t operate, criminals will be released because of our failure to prosecute. I’m not threatening, I’m just telling you what you may end up looking at and depending on who’s listening you may end up getting blamed for… I’ll wait for your decision. I think I know what it is and that’s most unfortunate…I just hate to be put in a position to sue like I did the other time.”

McAllister responded, “…We respect you and your court our problem is finding the money. That’s just not sustainable for us. Our legal counsel has advised that we have met our obligation. The Legislative Auditor has projected that the Jury will lose $200,000 this year and $400,000 next year, so it may be a case of who goes bankrupt us or you or all of us.”

The Judge concluded the meeting by telling the Jury “what I’m hearing is that y’all are not going to have the money to do it, I don’t know what else to say, but I’ve got to know something by July 1st because July 1st everyone’s going to go home and the Court’s going to shut down because I can’t operate.”

Juror Author Robinson asked the Judge if he could “cut his crew” the Judge responded, “no, I cannot…no…no…like I said, I feel like I’ve cut everything I can and everything that I intend to, I’m not going to apologize for salaries. I work for the people; they actually elected me.”

The Jury recessed and then resumed the meeting. This time, including the Jury’s legal counsel Chris Nevils. After much discussion and in agreement with their legal counsel, the Jury decided to decline the Court’s request for additional funds. McAllister concluded the meeting by stating that he feels like the Jury has met it’s obligations already.

Winn Parish Arrest Report

Winn Parish Sheriff’s Office
Name: Cornelius Prelow
Date: 6-19-20
Age: 71
Gender: Male
Race: Black

Name: William John Watkins
Date: 6-23-20
Age: 33
Gender: Male
Race: White

Name: Andrew D. Smith
Date: 6-23-20
Age: 37
Gender: Male
Race: Black

Name: Charlene M. Harper
Date: 6-24-20
Age: 36
Gender: White
Race: Female

Name: Jacob Procell
Date: 6-24-20
Age: 31
Gender: Male
Race: White

Name: Dakota J. Corley
Date: 6-25-20
Age: 28
Gender: Male
Race: White

Name: Darren Ray Johnson
Date: 6-25-20
Age: 50
Gender: Male
Race: Black

Census Update: Every Response Counts

The results of this once-a-decade count determine the number of seats each state has in the House of Representatives. They are also used to draw congressional and state legislative districts.

Over the next decade, lawmakers, business owners, and many others will use 2020 Census data to make critical decisions. The results will show where communities need new schools, new clinics, new roads, and more services for families, older adults, and children.

The results will also inform how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding are allocated to more than 100 programs, including Medicaid, Head Start, block grants for community mental health services, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP.

The national response rate for the Census is currently 60.6%. Louisiana’s response rate is 61.7%. Winn Parish has improved it’s response rate to 43.3% but is still lagging behind the national and state response rates. Local Winn Parish communities are:

Atlanta 37.5%
Calvin 25.7%
Dodson 29.4%
Sikes 25.0%
Winnfield 46.2%

The most important thing you can do is respond online, by phone, or by mail when you receive your invitation. Responding now will minimize the need for the Census Bureau to send census takers out into communities to follow up. Please check this page for regular updates.

Go online to to fill out yours today!

Spring Honor’s List at Northwestern State Announced

Nine hundred thirty-three undergraduates were named to Northwestern State University’s Honor List for the Spring 2019 semester. Students on the Honor List must be enrolled full-time and have a grade point average of between 3.0 and 3.49. For questions about the honor lists, contact the University Registrar at (318) 357-6171, toll-free at (800) 807-8849 or

Students listed by hometown (in Natchitoches and surrounding areas) are as follows.

Alexandria – Grayson Barbe, Ariyanna Bonton, Mya Brown, Alyssa Carpenter, Angel Christophe, Katylyn Cox, Samantha Dauzat, Zoria Davion, Maria Ford, Mallory Halford, Leslie Katz, Hannah Lemoine, Dean Mayeux, Ceerah McNeal Jalyn McNeal, Shannon Metoyer, Tanner Moran, Lauryn Moreau, Sydney Nolan, Taylor O’Bannon, Deasheneire Payne, Sadae Polk, TamiJo Ray, Jabari Reed, Zachary Roberts, Brianna Robinson, Htet Htet Rodgers, Mckenzie Seastrunk, Kara Grace Schwartz, Shakera Shorts, Kizzy Slaughter, Ryan Spahn, Maylea Joselle Torres, Arianna Venson, Alysha Walker, Christopher Warren, Abigail West, Elana Wright, Nicholas Zona;

Atlanta – Deanna Guidry, Trinity McLaughlin;

Ball – Abbie Atwood, Kaitlyn Humphries, Aaron Malone, Brenda Mercer;

Barksdale, AFB – Sarah Lake

Benton – Milla Gonzalez, William Hine, Audrey Trujillo, Gaylin White;

Blanchard – Ashlynn Hartley;

Bossier City – Gavin Acor, Brittany Batchelor, Quintin Braley, Kayli Brewer, Courtney Brooks, Kendall Caple, Megan Cathey, Marga David, Cameron Davis, Kenny Do, Jonathan Edie, Alaina Freeman, Javier Garcia, Kaden Graves, Jada Grigsby, Nia Harvey, Tangy Helbling, Joshua Hensel, Tricia Hightower, Jacob Hill, Chantel Johnson, Kijah Johnson, Shane Kaiser, Emily Larosee, Mikayla Lehane, Jasmine Lynch, Kaylee McDuff, Alexa Montgomery, Julie Montgomery, Anthony Mulrenin, Cameron Parikh, Laura Reddinger, Kyle Scott, Kaylee Stewart, Taylor Stoker, Makayla Strother, Debra Struckman, Bobby Trichel, Lakendrick White, Dominique Wineglass,;

Boyce – Hannah Fowler, Stephen Juneau, Rilee Nichols, Ashley Smith;

Campti – Laura Alford, Kristen Breedlove, Joseph Gallien, Grayson George, Brittany Sullivan,

Cheneyville – Fontana Mitchell;

Clarence – Quintarious Coleman;

Converse – Zachary Faircloth, Skyler Laroux, Jared Lum;

Coushatta – Alanna Anderson, Alexis Babers, Savanah Caldwell, Jameson Campbell, Precious Drake, Ashley Guye, Abby Hubbard, Kaylee Merry;

Dodson – Brendan Thomas;

Eros – Alecia Smith;

Florien – Whitney Byles, Madison Holmes, Faith Hopkins, Shellie Miller, Frances Parrie, Cherish Wilson;

Forest Hill – Vanessa Galvan;

Fort Polk – Martha Petitt, Tanya Correa, Jamie Curtis, Karen Da Silva, Andrea Marquez, Hannah McGrew, Chelisse Rosario, Klifton Scroggins;

Glenmora – Kerstyn Johnson, Faith Lawrence, Anna Robinson, Derrick Welch;

Leesville – Patricia Adamson, Bonnie Anderson, Jessamine Benoit, Jocelyn Benoit, Angie Culbert, Cameron Davis, Ernesto Diaz, Baylor Dillon, Caryllann Fermato, Beatrice Green, Kaitlyn Hudnall, Casey Lewis, Sierra Martin, Emily Moore, Amari Mullins, Jennifer Olivieri, Chloe Reagan, Elizabeth Rios, Brandy Sherman, Devin Toups, Kiara Turner, Ashley Vincent, Erin White, Cheyene Wise, Dara Woods;

Lena – Cortland Smith;

Mansfield – Madylin Sullivan, Alyssa Welborn, Kathleen Yarbrough;

Many – Chelsea Beasley, Alyssa Duchesne, Kyle Elliott, Jeffery Frazier, Tiarra Frazier, Shelbie Martinez, Darien McMillian, Mary Melder, Kasey Moore, Sara Morton, Carina Myers, Jasmine Sweet, Alan Warfield, Hannah Webb, Tobias Williams;

Marthaville – Dylan Daniels, Shelton Powell, Madeline Procell;

Montgomery – Tabatha Bowlin, Jace Bullock, Tyler Cotton, Laryn Graves, Lacey Lewis, Kayla Linzay, Teri Ogorek, Hailee Skains, Michael Waxley;

Natchez – Christopher Cayer, Tanner Delphin, Walker Jackson;

Natchitoches – Sharvel Addison, Rayshaughn Armant, TaKameria Barnes, Sedrick Cole, Jose Arrieta Cuesta, Thomas Balthazar, Parker Bankston, Jayla Barfield, Jordan Bevill, Ladacia Bolton, Adrianna Brown, Trenton Brownlee, Quindarius Bush, Kezia Butler, Anna Coffey, Christian Cunningham, Jasmine Dauzart, Trenton Downs, Meagan Farmer, Akilah Farris, Mary Fletcher, Alexis Fowler, Taylor Garland, Christopher Gistarb, Fernando Gonzalez, Denetria Green, Kalen Green, Julian Guerrero Acevedo, Rafael Hernandez, Charizma Hill, Brandon Holley, Tyler Hortman, Omari Irchirl, Khari Jenkins, Austin Jordan, Alexis Kitishian, Megan Lacey, Christofer Larcarte, Karlee Laurence, Savannah Leach, Emily Leone, Dylan Lorenz, Michael McClung, Bailey McConnell, Diana Marcela Mercado Garcia, Tori Morgan, Taylor Nation, Christian Owens, Grace Penrod, Savanna Pharris, Dara Pressley, Alyssa Price, Tytiauna Reed, Madelyn Ruiz, Jasmine Richardson, Chandler Sarpy, Emily Scott, MacKenzie Settle, Jonathan Simmons, Morgan Simmons, Cassidy Smith, Ladarius Smith, Lastaria Smith, Rachel Smith, Kerrie Spillman, Preston Starnes, Alexandra Tamburo, David Thibodaux, Harrison Thomas, Margarita Trichel, Elizabeth Vienne, Rian Villalobos, Huey Virece, Catrice Wafer, Lauren Waldrip, Savannah Walter, Jaron Washington, Lawrence Washington, Terry Wilson, Sharice Woods;

Pineville – Sharenthia Chew, Korey Cleveland, Katherine Cohenour, Madison Evers, Corbin Farris, Zachary Forest, Brook Gongre, Mekenzie Gordon, Marissa Greer, Megan Gypin, Megan Jacks, Alissa Joseph, Sydney Lewis, Hannah Mackey, Eriana Magee, Ashlee Mitchell, Justin Mundy, Paige Nichols, Ashley Phillips, Rileigh Roberts, Tyler Robinson, Alana Ryder, Elizabeth Shuler, Elizabeth Smith, Rhett Thiels, Gage Ulrich, Madeline Wright;

Pleasant Hill – Mickayla Brown, Yasmine Maxie;

Provencal – Mason Pitts, Taylor Trichel;

Ringgold – Caleb Vining, Daniel Woodfork;

Robeline – Abbie Baker, Jonathan Comeaux, Kelsy Elkins, Mallary Lester, Lakiyiah Lindsey, Richard McCollum, George Prince, Brooke Warren;

Saline – Grace Mathews, Baylie Quick;

Shreveport – Joshua Abner, John Austin, Dhajja Baugh, Kevin Branch, Jerry Bowman, Jacori Broadway, Camille Broudy, Brian Capers, Kathryn Carroll, Neely Caudle, Taylar Christopher, Shatericka Christor, Karissa Cook, Nakia Cooper, Naterria Davis, Troy Davis, Dionte Dean, Tristan Dotson, Miya Douglas, Jackson Driggers, Daja Easter, Nitasha Edwards, Alana Ester, Zaria Francis, Eric Gallion, Savon Gipson, Chelsea Girard, Claire Guin, Lakeisha Hall, Matthew Haltom, Regyne Hardy, Eric Harper, Kierra Jackson, Brittany Jefferson, Shamya Johnson, Cassandra Jones, Deaveon Jones, Andrew Jordan, Miranda Keller, Bethany Kendall, Tra’Kyrin Lemons, Samantha Lyons, Kenya Mahoney, Ashley Mason, Sharon McIntyre, Marshall Merritt, Brittney Neal, Akaiyah Parish, John-Alex Perkins, Zachary Person, Lindsey Ray, Sha’Neque Roane, Anderson Roblow, Heather Rodriguez, Breanna Samuel, Keyarah Samuels, Tierra Sanders, Drew Sears, Morgan Shaver, Carlina Shields, Fredriona Smallwood, Kayla Smith, Sha’Mondra Smith, Tricia Smith, Morgan Strickland, Hailey Thomas, Shaterica Thomas, Jessica Ursua, Carmen Varnell, Khamaria Vaughn, Makensie Vienne, Savannah Walston, Brittany Ward, Charity Wesley, Yasheria Wheeler, Destiney Williams, Jenaya Williams, Lajayda Williams, Chad Wilson, Cortney Young, Gabrielle Young;

Winnfield – Annalise Austin, Keaton Burnum, Jonah Chandler, D’Tyria Duncan, Madisyn Hubbard, Lauren Layton, Michaela Maloy, Selena Villalobos;

Zwolle – Dayton Craig, Savannah Garcie, Mercedes Johnson, Larisa Malmay, Karley Parrie, Marcelina Remedies;

League of Women Voters – Tell Your U.S. Senators to Pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act

Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby v. Holder, voter suppression and discrimination have been allowed to run rampant and without remedy in our nation. As the 2020 general election approaches, we face a once-in-a-lifetime election and a year with massive implications for the census and redistricting. It is imperative that we ensure our democratic processes remain fair and equitable. The success of our election, census, and redistricting depends on each other, and our democracy cannot function at its best when we don’t protect the very things that hold it up.

The protections outlined in the Voting Rights Advancement Act will:

• Re-establish pre-clearance coverage for states and localities with a history and pattern of discrimination in voting that relies on up-to-date information.
• Provide pre-clearance nationwide for political subdivisions with substantial minority populations for a limited number of voting changes that historically have been found to be discriminatory, such as changes in methods of election and cuts in polling locations.
• Create greater transparency and public notice for late-breaking voting changes just before an election, changes in polling resources, and demographic and electoral data.

It is an unfortunate fact that discrimination in voting against racial, ethnic, and language minorities continues to go unchecked and unremedied in America. Building a future with better policy outcomes means making sure our election rules and processes remain secure. This should be unacceptable in a nation that takes pride in its democratic values. Reform has passed the U.S. House and now it waits in the Senate. It’s time we call on our Senators to act on the Voting Rights Advancement Act and put an end to voter suppression in this country.

CLTCC Announces New Associate of Applied Science in Practical Nursing

Students working toward a diploma in Practical Nursing will have a new option this fall as Central Louisiana Technical Community College (CLTCC) is adding a new Associate of Applied Science degree in Practical Nursing.

“This new program provides increased educational opportunities for students,” noted
William Tulak, Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs. “This gets them one step closer to their next degree, for example if they want to go on and work toward a Registered Nursing degree.”

Mignonne Ater, Dean of Nursing and Allied Health, added, “this will make the students more employable because they will have already taken that next step. Practical nursing is a ladder approach to RN.”

Practical nursing students who wish to earn the new Associate of Applied Science in Practical Nursing degree will typically spend an additional semester beyond the coursework for the current 5-semester, 18-month Practical Nursing credential. In addition to the standard Practical Nursing courses, students will also take general education coursework like that required for a Bachelor’s degree.

“It is a very flexible program,” Tulak said. “Students can do the general coursework before they do their Practical Nursing classes or after.” Ater noted students can even complete the current Practical Nursing curriculum and go to work and still take the remaining classes on a part-time basis to earn the Associate degree. Ater also noted the additional classes will transfer to RN coursework should students decide to pursue that option.

CLTCC offers Practical Nursing classes at 7 campuses – Alexandria, Ferriday, Huey P. Long in Winnfield, Rod Brady in Jena, Natchitoches, Lamar Salter in Leesville and Ward H. Nash- Avoyelles in Cottonport – and the new program will be offered at each of those campuses as well.

Tulak stressed the new program is an option, not a requirement for current students. “This is not a barrier for Practical Nursing students. This is something new there for those who want it. We are continuing to offer the current Practical Nursing program as well.”

Ater said there are typically more than 400 students in the Practical Nursing program and she expects the number to increase with the addition of the Associate degree program. “I expect a great response to it, I really do,” she said.

Enrollment for the Summer and Fall sessions is ongoing. For more information, contact the school at 800-278-9855.

Notice of Death June 28, 2020

Nita D. Reeves
May 15, 1932 – June 26, 2020
Service: Monday, June 29 at 10 am at the East Winnfield Baptist Church in Joyce

Linda M. Greer
July 27, 1953 – June 26, 2020
Service: Monday, June 29 at 2 pm at Bethsadia Baptist Church

Marvin Powell
June 21, 1952 – June 25, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Winn Parish Fire District #3 Board Strips Personnel of Promotion and Pay Increase

At their monthly meeting on June 8, 2020, the Winn Parish Fire District #3 Board (The Board) passed a motion that eliminated promotions and pay raises received almost two years ago for three full-time personnel.

In September of 2018, The Board approved the creation of a lieutenant positions including the job description, the standard operating procedure(SOP), pay scale and guidelines for promotion. Winn Parish Fire District #3 (District) Fire Chief Harry Foster then promoted full-time employees Benjamin Murphy, Nicholas Carpenter, and Dustin Parker to the rank of lieutenant with the approved increase in pay.

During the June 8 meeting, board members asked, “why do we have three lieutenants that we never voted on?” and then stated that they approved the SOP and pay scale but never promoted anyone to the position.

In the recording of the June 8 meeting at large appointee and President of The Board, Mark Johns, stated, “We may need to make arrangements for Ben and Nick to reimburse their pay raises.” Chief Foster responded, “If that’s where you want to go, I’ll repay it, I’ll pay every penny of it.” At large board member, Brad Cooper commented: “I don’t think there is anything to take from them from the past, let’s go forward now. We only want two lieutenants.” Village of Sikes board appointee William “Buddy” King replied, “I don’t think we need any.” Johns chimed back in to say, “We don’t need someone with a title other than Harry.” Village of Calvin board appointee Ronald O’Bryan joined the conversation at this point “I think it should go back to how it used to be, everybody make the same money, and everybody be part-time and full-time. It’s less problems and less headaches. I think everyone should all make the same. It’s less complicated; everyone should make the same thing. O’Bryan then made a motion that eliminated the previously Board approved lieutenant position. The motion carried with three yeas, and two abstains. The roll call vote was as follows:

Gene Cain (at large appointee) – Abstain
Ronald O’Bryan (Village of Calvin appointee) – Yea
Buddy King (Village of Sikes appointee) – Yea
John Holden(Village of Dodson appointee) – Yea
Brad Cooper (at large appointee) – Abstain

The decision to eliminate rank and structure from the department could negatively affect the District’s Property Insurance Association of Louisiana (PIAL) Fire Rating, which would then increase parish citizen’s homeowner’s insurance rates.

The District fell from a ranking of 5 to 6 during their last evaluation. The PIAL ranks departments 1 – 10, 1 being the best. According to PIAL’s website, personnel is one of the criteria with most point value. Personnel items that affect the rating include on-duty manpower, training, and certifications. The previously approved lieutenant position pay scale outlined a plan to incentivize additional certifications.

“I was trying to create a more professional department to provide the people of the parish with better service. Good equipment, good people, and trained personnel,” said Chief Foster.

The Winn Parish Police Jury (WPPJ) is the governing agency of the District. The three “at large” positions on The Board are appointed by the WPPJ. The other four board positions are appointed by the mayor and alderman of each parish village, Calvin, Dodson, Atlanta and, Sikes. Atlanta’s position is currently open. 

Any concerns about the actions of The Board and its possible future effects on homeowner’s insurance rates can be directed to your district fire board representative listed above as well as your WPPJ Juror.

District 1 – Phillip Evans
District 2 – Deionne Carpenter
District 3 – Josh McAllister – President
District 4 – Tammy Griffin
District 5 – Kirk Miles
District 6 – Author Robinson
District 7 – Allen Michale McCartney – Vice President

Winn Parish Detention Center Inmate Found Dead in Cell

Mary Morgan Ramirez Picture from Facebook

At approximately 8:00 AM yesterday, the Winn Parish Coroner’s Office responded to a call from the Winn Parish Detention Center regarding a female inmate that was found deceased in her cell, according to Deputy Coroner Matt Miller.  

Mary Morgan Ramirez, 36 years old from Jackson Parish, was booked into the Winn Parish Detention Center on June 15th on charges of Failure to Appear.

The cause of death is unknown at this time. Ramirez’s remains were sent to Little Rock, AR, for autopsy per Louisiana state law. Toxicology and autopsy results are pending and usually take approximately two months to receive, according to Miller. 

A Go Fund Me has been set up to raise funds for funeral and Memorials for Ramirez.

The Winn Parish Journal will follow this story as it develops. 



Louisiana Forest Festival Announces Cancellation of 2020 Festival

With Governor John Bel Edwards extending Phase 2 opening for another 28 days, The Louisiana Forest Festival Board of Directors came to the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Festival.

The LFF board greatly appreciates the public, our volunteers, members, and sponsors for their continued support. We will be working on refunding all of the 2020 LFF t-shirt purchases as quickly and efficiently as possible, but please be patient with us.

2020 has come with its many obstacles and we are all trying to navigate these uncharted waters as best we can! Please be on the lookout for the amazing events and entertainment that will be a part of the 2021 Louisiana Forest Festival!!

For all updates and questions please message us on the Louisiana Forest Festival Facebook page or email us at

Josh McAllister, President
Kelley Skains, Secretary/Treasurer

District 22 State Rep Gabe Firment Signs Petition to Override Governor’s Emergency Proclamation

In a Facebook post posted late last night District 22 State Representative Gabe Firment announced, “I would like the citizens of District 22 to know that I have signed a petition that would override the governor’s emergency proclamations that have restricted our Constitutional freedoms to earn a living, provide for our families, and worship as we see fit. We are a free people who have the right to make our own decisions regarding our health, families, and livelihoods. We need signatures from 53 representatives to override the governor’s Order and reclaim our personal liberties and independence.”

Edwards announced on Monday that Louisiana was not ready to move into the next phase of lifting business restrictions under the White House-approved guidelines because the state does not meet federal criteria. Those factors include decreasing reports of COVID-like illness, decreasing new case counts, decreases in the percentage of tests administered that come back positive, and decreasing hospitalizations.


Blessed – If You Give a Girl a Margarita

By Reba Phelps

One of my favorite books to read to my girls when they were younger was, “If you give a mouse a cookie.” Thanks to semi-annual Scholastic Book Fairs, grandparents with extra cash, and book hoarding daughters, the collection quickly grew to include all of the books in this series.

To be honest, I am fairly certain that I enjoyed this circular tale more than my children did. It tells the story of what happens when you give a mouse a cookie. He will then need milk. He will need a straw. He will need a mirror to keep the milk mustache away. You see where this is going. It offered hours and hours of giggles. It was a far fetched tale but oh so entertaining.

This is the only analogy that I can use to compare my love for margaritas and my personal choice to limit my intake of them.

If you give a girl a margarita, she cannot drink just one. They are an economical choice when they marketed as two for one. Why would I order a margarita and not drink its mate that is actually free? Two by two…Just like the animals who entered the ark in pairs, they belong together.

If you give a girl a margarita, she will not want the second one to go to waste. Dave Ramsey would be so disappointed if she was wasteful. His envelope system clearly covers all of the categories where a margarita could be included. Restaurants. Personal. Entertainment. Gifts. Yes, margaritas are a gift.

He totally wants us to enjoy that second margarita.

If you give a girl a margarita it will cause her to lose her dietary inhibitions. The chips and salsa become calorie-fee and there is always an endless supply. When the margaritas kick in and start doing what too many margaritas do…Multitudes of calories are consumed and they are typically shaped like tacos and tamales.

If you give a girl three margaritas it may as well be four. Two by two, see above. They should be consumed in pairs. Unless you are consuming the twenty-dollar margaritas at a popular place in Shreveport…then it’s only one and not purchased in pairs or fours.

If you give a girl four margaritas then surely she will lose her ability to make good decisions and will need a ride home. The drinks will also cause a girl to get louder and possibly annoying to those around her.These four drinks on a Saturday night will make the face puffy and the crows feet deep. So, you might as well skip Sunday morning worship all together.

You can see how my single and innocent margarita can quickly turn into a whole weekend of bad decisions and skipping time with the Lord. Am I blaming alcohol? No, I am blaming my weakness and not knowing when to stop. I really truly believe in my own soul that God does not frown upon the consumption and moderation of alcohol.

I just had problems with the moderation part.

This is where my Catholic, Non-denominational, and Baptist roots would all collide. Having a diverse spiritual background does cause you a certain amount of angst and can create the perfect cocktail of guilt for many different reasons. Do I drink or not drink? Do I eat meat on Fridays during Lenten Season or not?

All of the rules just seemed so burdensome, especially when there are so many to follow. I came to a point where I had to start fully trusting the words I was reading in the Bible for myself. Trying to be perfect and holy is a full-time job with no overtime pay.

Since my commitment to have a better relationship with Christ, it was not a tough decision to make to greatly reduce the amount of lime juice, Tequila and Triple Sec that was allowed in my diet. I was consuming the massive amounts for all of the wrong reasons. I used it as a way to forget my troubles and enjoy the moment. I did not want to think about what tomorrow held.

The more I fall in love with our maker, I know that he holds our tomorrow, he orders our steps and he equips us with every single thing we need to make it through the day.

“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your path straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6


Guidance outlines how systems can safely serve Louisiana’s children
amid various phases of COVID-19 pandemic

BATON ROUGE, La. — In partnership with the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) and the Resilient Louisiana Commission, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) released guidance today for how schools across the state can reopen for the 2020-2021 school year by taking actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

While each district will ultimately decide how schools will operate, the guidelines offer best practices that encourage districts to prepare for three possible reopening scenarios: traditional, hybrid or distance/remote learning. In addition, they explain how health requirements will change based on the three reopening phases. The resource offers an outline for what to expect and how to respond to a COVID-19 positive or presumptive positive case on campus.

“We developed this guidance by engaging experts on the virus – public health officials – and experts on what this guidance looks like when put into practice – school leaders and educators,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley. “We understand next year will be a new challenge for all of us as we educate through COVID-19. I have confidence in our collective talents to overcome these challenges. We will depend on each other for innovative ideas, best practices and the promise of a quality education for every child.”

Strong Start 2020: Guidelines and Resources for School Reopening  is available now on the LDOE website and includes a number of guidelines and best practices for districts including the following:

Bus capacity and student group size
Student symptom monitoring
Face coverings
Food prep and meal service

The LDH memorandum outlines baseline health and safety requirements for schools to follow when reopening facilities to students. The LDOE offers supportive guidance and resources for schools as they implement these health guidelines, as well as best practices for academic instruction. The resource also includes planning templates and reopening checklists for district leaders. The Department will also publish a running list of frequently asked questions and additional best practices on its website.

“Ensuring a strong start for students and educators this fall means equipping school districts with the resources they need to develop a solid reopening strategy,” said Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education President Sandy Holloway. “The tools and guidance released today, created in partnership with state health officials, will help school systems expand their existing academic plans to accommodate the operational changes necessitated by COVID-19 and strengthen the foundation for continuous learning going forward.”

Collaborative Process
The LDOE and LDH collaborated over the past month to develop these public health guidelines and best practices to support school reopening, building from previously released guidance for safely operating summer schools and camps. They earned approval from the Resilient Louisiana Commission and the LDH state health officer and assistant secretary.

Guidance for Safely Operating

The guidelines were developed with input from public health officials, education leaders, and other key stakeholders. That collaboration includes consultation with the Southern Regional Education Board, a superintendent’s advisory group of 13 district leaders from across the state, and a 20-member public health response team of medical professionals, public health officials and education leaders.

District and School Supports
Along with the resources released today, schools and districts will have access to additional support. The LDOE previewed the guidance for system leaders yesterday and will offer another similar webinar next week.

The LDOE is also partnering with Children’s Hospital New Orleans to offer a hotline and regular town hall webinars for educators. The hotline will be staffed by skilled nurses who can advise school staff on medical questions about students and team members related to COVID-19. School nurses and other school administrators can call 504-837-7760 weekdays from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and weekends from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

In the town hall webinars, experts will discuss topics like COVID-19 transmission basics, preventative measures and sanitation best practices, and additional tips for guideline implementation. There will also be an opportunity for open Q&A. These will be offered every two weeks starting in July. While the hotline and town hall webinars are for education professionals, Children’s Hospital New Orleans currently offers online COVID-19 resources for families and is developing additional family supports.

This is the latest resource the Department has provided districts to help ensure a Strong Start to the 2020-2021 school year for every student. A suite of resources were released in May, which ranged from diagnostic assessments and mental health supports to services for diverse learners and teacher training.