Blessed – Screen Time

By Reba Phelps

The notification arrives every single Sunday morning at 9:00am Central Standard Time. Its arrival is never late, never early and is delivered as if I had paid a hefty premium for this service. The bell toned sound completely jars me every time. My heart starts to beat a little faster and my anxiety rises a notch or two. Sometimes I will ignore it for a while as if it will merely disappear.

If you have an iPhone then you are aware of the weekly Screen Time report that gives a detailed and unaltered report of how much time you have spent with your phone in your hand. Every social media site that you visit is itemized by minutes spent on each one. Your choice of streaming services is detailed out minute per minute. Our phones even record how many times you pick it up on a daily basis.

I was astonished that in one I day I had picked up my phone one hundred and forty-nine times. What is wrong with me?

The judgmental report also discloses the amount of time that you were “productive”. I am not sure how they can assess that but they do.

The Screen Time report also never fails to deliver a healthy does of condemnation that produces so much lingering guilt. Never enough guilt to alter my ways though.

On this particular day the guilt hit a little different. I just stared at the screen and could not believe that I had wasted so many hours with my phone in my hand. I always tried to justify my screen time. The hours texting was mainly my children and clients. The social media was typically just keeping up with constituents, fielding questions about school related matters, and sharing informational articles.

As my thirteen year old loves to say….I was “sitting on a throne of lies”.

The truth was I spending hours watching TikTok videos. If you watch one TikTok it quickly multiplies to fifty videos in the blink of an eye. I was Snap chatting friends and reading an overabundance of ridiculous drama on Facebook that will never be resolved on a public platform. At this point, I really had to take a good inventory of where I was spending my time and how I was feeling after participating in so much screen time and so very little face to face time with the people who live with me.

Keep in mind that their faces are buried in their screens constantly as well. They are not blameless. My younger one loves TikTok and has quarantined her way through almost 10 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. My oldest lives a double life as a blonde avatar on SnapChat and could honestly become a personal shopper for the rich and famous as much time as she spends browsing boutique pages on Instagram.

We all have our issues here. We all guilty.

It was becoming evident to me that once I came home in the evenings, completed my household duties and made a meal that our faces were completely spellbound by some sort of screen time. Before we knew it, bedtime was looming and we had not had a lot of conversation about our day. We were losing authentic face to face time and page time. We were barely even reading paper pages of a book anymore.

Our screen time is where our heart is. When we scroll mindlessly and judge every single comment we see, or post that does not align with our own thoughts and beliefs… it steals a little of our peace and our heart. It steals our hope. It was stealing my hope to only see the good in people. I was freely sacrificing my peace of mind at the altar of social media.

It was simply not working for me anymore.

In times like this, with so much turmoil and unrest in the world, it is so easy to fix our eyes on a temporary distraction that may cause a moment of joy or entertainment. As for me and my house we will always struggle with our screen time. But, deep down we do know that we when fix our eyes on something more eternal than our screens there is a multitude of peace, joy and comfort to be found.

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Hebrews 12:2-3


The Winnfield City Prosecutor today qualified for City Judge in Winnfield. J. Keith Gates, Winnfield City Prosecutor since 2014, was accompanied by his fiancé Amber Leder as he filed the paperwork necessary to run in this fall’s election for City Court Judge.

After qualifying, Gates stated: “I am grateful to qualify as a candidate for Winnfield City Court Judge. I am proud of my record as City Prosecutor and look forward to using that experience to serve the citizens of Winn Parish as City Judge. Having served as City Prosecutor for many years, I have a first-hand view of City Court operations and am familiar with the needs of the City Court and the citizens who appear before the City Judge. I promise to bring experience, integrity, impartiality, and service to the Court.”

Gates graduated from Northwestern State University in 2004 with a Bachelor of Business Administration and the Louisiana State University in 2007 with both a Bachelor of Civil Law and a Juris Doctor Degree. After law school, Gates had the honor of holding a clerkship at the Louisiana Supreme Court, one of four law school graduates chosen that year for the prestigious position. Gates also worked in Washington, D.C. where he and three other attorneys started a law center committed to government transparency and accountability. After his work in D.C., Gates moved home to open his own firm where he has served the citizens of Winn Parish and the surrounding communities. Gates is licensed to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, and all Louisiana State Courts. He has appeared and argued in most of the Louisiana Courts of Appeal as well as district courts across Louisiana.

Gates currently represents the attorneys of Winn Parish on the House of Delegates of the Louisiana State Bar Association, the association of all attorneys in Louisiana.

Gates is also active in the community currently serving as President of the Winn Parish Chamber of Commerce and Tourism. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Women’s Resource Center in Natchitoches which is a PRO-LIFE pregnancy center. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Louisiana FFA Foundation, having himself served as a state FFA officer and earning the American FFA Degree. He also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Louisiana Masonic Learning Center, a non-profit organization supporting dyslexia training throughout Louisiana.

Gates is active in the Masonic Lodge, including the O.K. Allen Lodge in Winnfield. He is a member of several Masonic organizations, including Shriners International where he supports their work at the world-renowned Shriners’ Hospitals, the Scottish Rite where he supports their Speech and Learning Clinics, the York Rite and the Eastern Star.

Gates is also a past President of the Dugdemona High-12 Club, past Captain and King of the Krewe of Kingfish Mardi Gras Krewe, and is a member of the Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs. Gates is a member of Goldonna Baptist Church where he serves as Pianist and has served on various committees of the North Central Baptist Association.

All citizens in Winn Parish, except those in the Dodson/Sikes area, are within the jurisdiction of the City Court and can vote in the City Judge election on November 3, 2020.

Notice of Death July 23, 2020

Maurice Lee Nix
July 02, 1939 – July 21, 2020
Service: Friday, July 24 at 11 am in the Coulee Methodist Church Cemetery

Frankie Simons Boswell
April 29, 1936 – July 18, 2020
Service: Saturday, July 25 at 12 pm at Hebron Baptist Church of Sikes

Luther Williams
July 22, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Lorraine Coutee
July 22, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Jerry Lambert Clayton
July 22, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Franklin D. Beavers Jr.
July 21, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Judy Ebarb
June 24, 1951 – July 21, 2020
Service: Friday, July 24 at 10 am at St. Joseph Catholic Church Cemetery

Mable Masters Dowden Grafton
August 30, 1930 – July 22, 2020
Service: Saturday, July 25 at 3 pm at Prewitt’s Chapel Baptist Church

Gladys Marie Williams
January 12, 1943 – July 21, 2020
Service: Friday, July 24 at 10 am at Liberty Cemetery

Join and Win $100 Visa Gift Card Drawing – We Have A Winner!

The WPJ is excited to announce that Mrs. Tremelda Pattain is the week three winner of our July Subscribe and Win contest. Tremelda has won a $100 Visa gift card. 

Subscribe today for your chance to win a $100 Visa gift card next week. The winner will be selected from new subscribers from the weeks prior. Enter once, and your eligible to win all month long. Winners will be randomly selected on Monday, announced in the WPJ on Wednesday, and the gift card will be presented to the winner on Friday of the same week. 

You can subscribe here: Subscribe to Win!

You can also text WINNJOURNAL to 22828 to subscribe.

Qualifying for 2020 Open Primary & 2020 General Election Starts Today

The qualifying period for the November 3, 2020 Primary Election and December 5, 2020 General Election is July 22nd – 24th. In order to become a candidate in an election, you must qualify for the office you are seeking. The qualifying period for congressional, state and local candidates is a three-day period set by law.

Local candidates qualify at the parish Clerk of Court’s Office located in the Winn Parish Courthouse at 119 W Main St #103, Winnfield, LA. Congressional and state candidates qualify at the Secretary of State’s Office at 8585 Archives Ave., Baton Rouge, LA 70809. Candidates may qualify for office by paying a qualifying fee or by filing a nominating petition. Nominating petition forms are available for download and print here. View the number of signatures required on nominating petitions for all offices.

Office Titles up for re-election in Winn Parish are:

Office TitlesYears of TermBeginning of TermExpiration of TermDistricts
President/Vice President
U.S. Senator61/3/20211/3/2027
U.S. Representative21/3/20211/3/20235
Public Service Commissioner61/1/202112/31/20265
District Judge61/1/202112/31/20268th JDC
District Attorney61/11/20211/10/20278th JDC
Justices of the Peace61/1/202112/31/2026All
Constables (Justice of the Peace Courts)61/1/202112/31/2026All
Atlanta: Mayor41/1/202112/31/2024
Atlanta: Chief of Police41/1/202112/31/2024
Atlanta: Alderman41/1/202112/31/2024All
Sikes: Mayor41/1/202112/31/2024
Sikes: Aldermen41/1/202112/31/2024All
Winnfield: City Judge61/1/202112/31/2026
Winnfield: City Court Marshal61/1/202112/31/2026

For more information about qualifying visit the Louisiana Secretary of State’s website.

Rural Internet Access

By Gabe Firment, State Representative District 22

Since taking office in January of 2020 I have spoken with numerous technology companies, state and local officials, and the general public about bringing reliable high speed internet to our homes, businesses, and schools across District 22. The legislature recently passed 2 bills critical to expanding access to high speed internet in rural parts of the state such as District 22.

House Bill 69 by Rep. Daryl Deshotel provides a tax rebate on fiber-optic cable for companies that win bids in the federal government’s $20 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction, meant to promote internet access in currently unserved areas. Senate Bill 10 by Sen. Beth Mizell calls for electricity cooperatives to partner with broadband providers using the co-op’s existing infrastructure.

Taken together, the two measures are meant to help Louisiana compete for a healthy share of the federal funding, hopefully leading to high-speed internet access in areas of the state that don’t currently have it. Louisiana is in line to receive an estimated $600 million in federal government aid over the next 10 years to expand internet service to “unserved and underserved” rural areas. The FCC has allocated $20.4 billion to be spent nationwide over the next 10 years, with the first phase beginning in October of this year.

As Louisiana students and parents await answers on returning to the classroom this fall, the issue of broadband availability is at the front of many of their minds. The Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) recently released its 2020 Distance Learning Survey for Louisiana, which reports only 66 percent of students in the state have home internet access. The northern, more rural parishes of Louisiana report lower rates of home connectivity, and the trend continues with students’ access to a computer or tablet at home.

So, how do we connect more students? If we want the necessary investment in broadband infrastructure to occur in rural areas, regulatory barriers restricting progress must come down. Fortunately, the Louisiana legislature recently passed a bill that will break down barriers to rural broadband access, and that legislation was signed by Governor John Bel Edwards last Wednesday. Even though this proposal was signed into law, however, more barriers still stand in the way of connectivity.  Until these barriers are gone and investment flows in, thousands of rural Louisiana residents will continue waiting for relief. In the meantime, one thing remains abundantly clear. If we want to put Louisiana students on track to succeed both in and out of the classroom, we must expand broadband internet access in rural communities. 

I want to hear from you about this critical issue. Please let me know if you currently have access to reliable internet service, and let me know how important high speed internet is to your family, business, school, and church. Working together we can bring CHANGE to Red River, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches, and Winn parishes!

Gov. Edwards Will Extend Current Phase Two Order, with Current Mask Mandate, Gathering Size Limit and Bar Restrictions

Gov. John Bel Edwards on Tuesday announced that he will extend Louisiana’s current Phase Two order, which also includes a statewide mask mandate, limits indoor social gatherings to 50 people and prohibits on-premises consumption of alcohol at bars for another two weeks, as COVID-19 incidence remains high across the state and hospitalizations continue to rise.  All of the latest restrictions outlined in the Phase Two order are in keeping with recommendations from the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

The order is set to expire on the morning of Friday, July 24. The new order, which will be issued later this week, will run through August 7. The Governor added the mask mandate and other restrictions to an order that went into effect July 13.

As of July 15, all regions of Louisiana had a 7-day average positivity of new tests that was greater than 10 percent and the overall statewide positivity rate was 15.46 percent. The state’s aim is for this rate to be below 10 percent.

“We are seeing a high percent of new tests coming back as positive, increased hospitalizations over the past 14 days and a high incidence rate across the state, which means Louisiana is not ready to move to Phase Three,” Gov. Edwards said. “We will continue with our current restrictions to see if we can slow the spread in Louisiana over the next two weeks. I believe in the people of Louisiana, who have already been able to flatten the curve once, and who I know can do it again. Please wear your face mask when you are in public, wash your hands frequently, stay 6 feet away from others and stay home when you are sick. Additionally, federal surge testing is going on in key areas of the state. If you have access to this free testing, please take the opportunity to get tested. You can pre-register at”

Click here to view regional data about hospitalizations, new cases and COVID-like illness, which was discussed at today’s press conference.

Remember This? Magnificent Mayor Stubbs

Just over one hundred miles north of Anchorage, Alaska, sits the small, picturesque, historic town of Talkeetna.  It is a small town with a population of about 900 residents.  Talkeetna is the last stop for tourists and climbers destined for North America’s tallest peak, Mount McKinley.  Much of the village’s income comes from tourist who visit for hiking, mountain biking, camping, fishing, hunting, rafting, and flightseeing.  Local artists, craftsmen, and musicians sell the products of their crafts in shops throughout the town.   

The candidates for the 1997 Talkeetna mayoral race were not popular with the villagers.  They longed for a good, honest candidate.  One of the villagers suggested they nominate a well-liked villager nicknamed Stubbs.  Secretly, the residents spread the word that on election day they would write in their vote for their preferred candidate.  Stubbs made no political speeches, never asked the people to vote for him, nor did he do anything other than his normal day-to-day routine.  One supporter proudly told anyone who would listen that “He’s everybody’s guy.”  Without do so much as a handshake to gain a vote, Stubbs became mayor.    

Stubbs spent most of his time, not in a stuffy office away from the public, but in Nagley’s General Store where he mingled with locals and tourists alike.  Well-wishers who were unable to find Mayor Stubbs at the General Store only had to look next door at the West Rib Pub and Cafe where he always had his choice of seats and drank water from a wine or margarita glass.  Mayor Stubbs never drank alcohol.  Mayor Stubbs loved socializing with tourists and hammed it up for cameras.  Everyone who met him said “He’s got a great personality.” 

Shortly after becoming mayor, word spread beyond Talkeetna of his charisma and charm.  His popularity grew into fame when newspapers around the nation reported on his vibrant personality.  People flocked to the town to meet Mayor Stubbs and have their picture taken with him.  Mayor Stubbs was always happy to oblige them. 

Mayor Stubbs always oversaw but never participated in the yearly Wilderness Woman and Bachelor Auction and Ball.  During this charity event, local bachelors were auctioned off to the highest bidders and spent an evening with the winning bidders.  Not to be left out of the festivities, they held a wilderness woman contest which consisted of several tests of strength and endurance “to show these bachelors what women are made of…Alaskan grit!”  As always, Mayor Stubbs socialized with everyone present.  Local residents could not have been happier with Mayor Stubbs.  When a reporter asked Geoff Pfeiffer, waiter at the West Rib Pub and Café, how he liked the mayor, Geoff replied, “We all love him.”  He explained that he and his coworkers vied for their chance to wait on the mayor. 

On the night of September 7, 2013, a vicious dog attacked Mayor Stubbs as he was taking an evening stroll through town.  After what must have seemed like an eternity, Mayor Stubbs escaped from the dog’s clutches.  Mayor Stubbs suffered a punctured lung, a long deep gash on his side, and several bruises.  Bleeding and weak, a local resident loaded Mayor Stubbs into his vehicle and drove an hour to the nearest hospital.  Staff at the hospital were afraid that Mayor Stubbs would not survive what turned out to be a three-hour surgery.  Word quickly spread of the vicious attack on Mayor Stubbs.  People from all over the world wished him a speedy recovery on his Facebook and Twitter pages.  Many of them sent donations to help pay his exorbitant hospital bills.  The residents of Talkeetna did their part as well.  Mayor Stubbs’s donation jar at the general store soon overflowed with coins and folding money.  To their relief, Mayor Stubbs made a full recovery.

As soon as his health returned, Mayor Stubbs returned to his position in Talkeetna.  Once again, he spent most of his time making pleasantries with locals and tourists.  Mayor Stubbs held the office of mayor until he died in his sleep on July 22, 2017.  People all over the world mourned his death and posted letters of condolence on his Facebook page.  Mourners also shared pictures of themselves with the beloved mayor.  They noted that for him to have been mayor at all was an amazing achievement.  Normally, a candidate had to be eighteen years of age to run for office, but the overwhelming support for Stubbs made officials take drastic action.  You see, Mayor Stubbs was elected when he was just sixteen years old.  Mayor Stubbs was also…a cat.


  1. Decatur Herald and Review, September 4, 2013, p.22.
  2. The Gazette (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) September 7, 2013, p.2.

The “Remember This” book is now available for preorder online at

Hunting Rules and Regulations For 2020-21 Season Now Available

The hunting rules and regulations for the 2020-21 season are now available on the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LWDF) website. Go to to see this year’s hunting seasons, rules and regulations.

The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission (LWFC) approved notices of intent for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 hunting seasons, 2020-21 general and Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) hunting seasons and rules and regulations, 2021 general and WMA turkey hunting season and rules and regulations, and 2020-21 migratory bird hunting season and rules and regulations at its May meeting.

The LDWF hunting regulation pamphlet is expected to be available in late August.

Please contact your local LDWF Field Office for any assistance or clarification of seasons, rules or regulations.

Winn Parish Medical Center to Receive Portion of $224 Million in CARES Funding for LA Hospitals

U S Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, released the following statement regarding the $223,580,330 in funding from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help 47 hospitals respond to the coronavirus outbreak in Louisiana.  Kennedy listed Winn Parish Medical Center as getting $1,900,000 from the funding package.

“Medical professionals have gone above and beyond to mitigate this pandemic, and this $224 million in CARES Act funding will help give health care providers resources to continue saving lives in Louisiana,” said Kennedy.

These payments are part of HHS’s delivery of $10 billion to hospitals with more than 161 coronavirus admissions between January 1 and June 10, 2020. These funds are provided under the authority of the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act.

The Cancel Culture

By Royal Alexander

Though I disagree with what you say, I will defend with my life your right to say it  

(attribution: Voltaire)

“Cancel Culture.” A cancerous outgrowth of Political Correctness that demands that anyone with the courage to share a thought that doesn’t conform to Leftist Group Think be shouted down, silenced; cancelled.  It is occurring daily at every level in our society. 

Think of Robert Unanue, CEO of Goya Foods, who praised and thanked President Trump at the White House for the economic policies that have allowed his company to thrive and prosper.  Heavily criticized for the remarks, he’s courageously said he’s not apologizing for them.  

Think of the cowardly New York Times and its decision regarding U.S. Senator Tom Cotton’s article, “Send In the Troops.”  Sen. Cotton merely argued that, during the protesting, rioting, and looting after the death of George Floyd, the Insurrection Act could be invoked to deploy the military across the country to assist local law enforcement.  The article ran in the NYT online version but caused such controversy among Times staffers that it was not run in the print version as had been planned.  Cotton’s article was not printed because he had an idea, shared by millions of Americans, that offended the Leftist sensitivities of younger NYT staff.

Think of Gary Garrels, who until recently was a curator at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.  He resigned his position after museum employees accused him of racism and demanded he be fired.  His grave offense? He ended a presentation about diversifying the museum’s finances by saying, “don’t worry, we will definitely still continue to collect white artists.”

Think of Grant Napear, the longtime TV and radio talk show host of the Sacramento Kings.  He was swiftly fired by the Kings.  His offense? When asked by a former Kings player for his opinion of Black Lives Matter, he replied “All Lives Matter…Every Single One!!!”

Think of Emmanuel Cafferty, a Mexican American, fired from his position at San Diego Gas and Electric after a fellow driver took a picture of his arm hanging out of one of the company’s trucks.  He was accused of making a gesture with his fingers.  The gesture — made by forming a circle with the thumb and index finger — has supposedly been used in recent years by white supremacists to form the letters W and P.   However, it’s also been used for decades to convey that all is “Ok.”  Cafferty claims he was just cracking his knuckles. “When my supervisor said that I was being accused of doing a white supremacist gesture, that was baffling,” Cafferty said.  “I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to get over this, but to lose your dream job for playing with your fingers, that’s a hard pill to swallow,” Cafferty said. “It’s scary that you can be charged, tried and convicted on social media, without your permission, with no corroborating evidence, of any type.” 

Think of Tiffany Riley, a Vermont school principal, who was fired for merely expressing her opinion, on her own time and on her personal Facebook page, that she does not agree with Black Lives Matter.  Her post: 

“I do not think people should be made to feel they have to choose black race over human race.  While I understand the urgency to feel compelled to advocate for black lives, what about our fellow law enforcement? What about all others who advocate for and demand equity for all? Just because I don’t walk around with a BLM sign should not mean I am a racist.”

She was vilified.  What about tolerance of free speech? What about the right of people to support police reforms but not necessarily the BLM movement and its Marxist tactics or its wish to “…burn down this system” if BLM doesn’t get what it wants.  (Keep in mind, it is virtually always acceptable to attack and silence pro-life advocates and conservative speakers.)

Or, share the view that it’s reckless and dangerous to defund and neuter the police;  Or, that a virus with a 98.6% survival rate and ever-shifting medical rationales doesn’t justify destruction of the American economy and the millions of small businesses and families that desperately need their jobs.  

We don’t have to agree with any of this.  What we shouldn’t tolerate is having these views shouted down or cancelled simply because someone disagrees with them.  To do so endangers all speech.  This intolerance is imposed through hate, invective and violence.  It’s a new McCarthyism, demanding conformity to every dictate of the Thought Police, which believes in diversity in all things—except thought.  

What should be cancelled is this toxic intellectual virus now coursing through the political and media bloodstream so that the rich ferment of myriad political viewpoints, tested in the “marketplace of ideas”, will continue to flourish and to strengthen our Nation’s democratic institutions, reflecting what Lincoln referred to as the “better angels of our nature.” 

The views and opinions expressed in the My Opinion article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Winn Parish Journal. Any content provided by the authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

Notice of Death July 21, 2020

Melba Ray Bradford
December 17, 1934 – July 19, 2020
Service: Tuesday, July 28 at 2 pm at Pritchard Baptist Church of the Old River Community

Hattie Colbert
July 19, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Wanda Robinson
July 19, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Hazel Miller
March 13, 1929 – July 19, 2020
Service: Thursday, July 23 at 11 am at the Ft. Jesup Cemetery in Ft. Jesup

Joan Lynn Tucker Merten
November 18, 1941 – July 17, 2020
Service: Wednesday, July 22 at 10 am at Aimwell Cemetery in Zwolle

Betty L. Lewing
July 9, 1945 – July 16, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Phillip Daniel Meshell Sr.
July 22, 1951 – July 15, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Lori (LaLa) Vines
April 5, 1972 – July 16, 2020
Arrangements TBA