AgCenter Estimates Ag, Forestry Losses From Hurricane Laura Exceed $1.6 Billion

A photo taken with a drone shows downed trees in the Vernon Unit of the Kisatchie National Forest. The LSU AgCenter estimates that timber damage from Hurricane Laura totaled $1.1 billion. Photo by U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service

Hurricane Laura caused $525.4 million in damage to Louisiana farmers and $1.1 billion to the Louisiana timber industry, according to preliminary estimates by the LSU AgCenter.

Laura devastated 757,538 acres of timber from the southwest to northeast parts of the state, according to a report by AgCenter economist Kurt Guidry and AgCenter forestry specialist Michael Blazier.

In comparison, agricultural losses — including forestry, crops and fisheries — from hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 totaled $1.5 billion.

Laura’s $1.6 billion total in losses for Louisiana agriculture will likely increase when damage estimates for the fisheries industry are completed by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

The damage in 2005 and this year are different, Guidry said. Laura was more of a wind event, while Katrina and Rita brought flooding along coastal Louisiana. Infrastructure damaged by wind was the big factor this year, and crops were not as affected this year as in 2005.

So was Laura the costliest storm for Louisiana agriculture?

“It’s going to be up there as one of the highest we’ve ever had,” Guidry said. “Based on the amount of infrastructure damage that occurred and the losses associated with timber, the total economic impact to the food and fiber sector from Hurricane Laura will be as large as or larger than any storm that I have developed estimates for since my time with the AgCenter.”

But the storm’s impact on crop production and farm revenues across all commodities has been surpassed by other storms or weather events like droughts that have resulted in more widespread and larger production impacts.

However, from a timber standpoint, Blazier said, Laura appears to be the most devastating storm to hit Louisiana, even more destructive than Katrina and Rita combined. “It’s demoralizing. I checked and checked and rechecked the figures, and if anything, it’s conservative,” he said.

Using data from aerial surveys by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Vernon Parish was estimated to have the largest economic loss of timber at $360 million on 160,416 acres, followed by Rapides, Beauregard, Grant and Allen parishes, all estimated to have timber damage exceeding $100 million.

Calcasieu Parish had the highest forestry acreage damage total of 188,292 acres, but the lost timber value was estimated at $76.7 million.

The damage estimate includes national forests as well as privately owned land. Many landowners use timber revenue to supplement their retirement income, and this storm will affect people throughout the state, Blazier said. As an example, he said, one landowner with 42 acres of commercial timber estimated that half of their trees were destroyed.

The heaviest damage tracked the path of the storm’s eye as it went almost all the way to Arkansas as a hurricane. Anecdotal evidence suggests the worst damage occurred in forests that had been thinned recently. “There was just more wind that could come through those stands,” Blazier said.

The AgCenter report determined that only 10% of the downed pine trees can be salvaged and that none of the damaged hardwood trees are salvageable. Blazier said market demand for hardwood pulp is low.

Downed trees in Louisiana’s environment must be salvaged quickly because the wood deteriorates rapidly. “We have a very short window, maybe less than a month,” he said.

In addition, the report says Laura will have long-term effects on the timber industry, with increased debris resulting in more disease and insect pressure on surviving timber. Also, the debris will worsen the potential for wildfire outbreaks and increase the costs of establishing new tree growth.

The timber report considered only impacts from forest landowners’ standpoint, but mills and loggers also suffered infrastructure damage.

Most of the agricultural losses involve infrastructure damage, according to an agronomic crops report by Guidry. That report broke down the impacts on farmers into five categories:

  • Reduced production resulted in losses, $48.4 million.
  • Stored commodity losses, $6.9 million.
  • Livestock losses and forced liquidation, $1.4 million.
  • Increased crop production costs, $6.7 million
  • Infrastructure damage, $462 million.

The report says most damage was caused by wind. “Unlike other storms that resulted in widespread and prolonged flooding, Hurricane Laura moved quickly through the state with flooding being generally confined to tidal surge along the coast. However, excessive winds throughout Laura’s entire path through the state caused significant infrastructure damage.”

Wind caused row crops to lodge, or be blown over.


The state’s rice crop suffered most, the report says, with 74,000 acres affected for an economic impact of $28.5 million. Yield losses for the first and second crops are estimated at 1.7 million hundredweight, with average losses of 38% for the first crop and 37% for the second crop. Stored rice losses total $6 million. Electricity needed to power drying systems in storage bins was lost throughout southwest Louisiana, and some storage bins were damaged by winds. Increased harvest costs are projected at $1.3 million.

“There were also significant acres of rice that was in the flowering stage of its development,” the report says. “High winds during that time is expected to lead to reduced pollination and reduced overall production.”


A 3.2% yield reduction is projected for the 182,000 affected acres for a total loss of 50 million pounds valued at $8.2 million. Replanting is needed on 1,224 acres, costing almost $700,000 and bringing the total economic impact estimated to $8.8 million.


Yield on 153,000 affected acres is projected to be decreased by 9.6%, or 828,000 bushels, costing more than $8 million. Increased harvest costs from downed soybeans is expected to cost farmers $1.3 million, bringing the total losses to $9.4 million.


The total impact amount of $6.5 million results from an 11.2% yield decrease of 7.8 million pounds on almost 60,000 affected acres for a $5 million loss. The total includes an additional $1.5 million from increased harvest costs.


The estimate concludes that 5,000 acres of crawfish ponds are affected, with an estimated loss of 75%, or 2 million pounds, for a total impact of $2.7 million.


The report says almost 17,000 affected acres will have a 15% yield loss of 526,000 bushels, and an increased harvest cost of $124,155 for a total of $2 million in losses.

Other commodities

The report says 10,750 acres of hay production was affected, with a 32% yield loss and more than $800,000 in storage losses that will cost almost $1.5 million.

The loss of grazing days on 703,400 acres is expected to cost $1.4 million.

Pecan losses totaling $745,240 are figured with a 34% yield reduction on 3,904 acres for a crop reduction of 573,262 pounds.

The storm had minimal impact on sweet potatoes, with losses estimated at about $30,000.

Grain sorghum losses are estimated at almost $43,000.


The total livestock economic impact is estimated at $1.8 million.

Most of that is from the economic impact on cattle producers, estimated at $1.2 million. The report bases that figure on 130 cattle deaths, costing $88,400; 5,775 animals liquidated, costing $785,400; and 36,675 head evacuated, costing $324,000.

In poultry, the estimated loss of 101,000 birds is projected to cost $545,400. Much of that resulted from power outages that shut down cooling systems needed to control temperatures in chicken houses.

A dozen horses died from the storm, and 530 were evacuated, bringing the total impact to $38,575.

Losses for sheep, hogs and goat were less than $1,000.


Buildings and facilities carried the biggest part of Louisiana’s agricultural damage estimate with a value of $403.2 million. The report estimates that the storm damaged a third of the ag-related buildings and other structures across 13 parishes.

Also, the storm damaged 5,100 miles of fencing that will cost $58.8 million to repair or replace, according to the report.

Guidry said several aid programs are available through the Farm Service Agency.

“Also, for those parishes designated as disaster areas, emergency farm loans are typically made available,” he said.

Federal legislative action would be required for additional assistance.“In other storm events, there have been programs that have been made available,” Guidry said.

My Opinion – My 9-11 Reflection

By Royal Alexander/Opinion

Tuesday, September 11, 2001. When friends and family have asked me over the years to recount for them that day and week (I was stranded in our nation’s capital because no commercial airlines were allowed to fly after 9-11) I spent in DC, I still struggle to fully describe what I saw and felt that day. It was unlike any other day of my life and I’m certain I’ll always feel that way.

On 9/11, I was in Washington, D.C. with the late Clyde C. Holloway, former U.S. Congressman and Louisiana Public Service Commissioner. We were there to try to build support from members of Congress we knew, and raise funds, for our campaign for Congress. The day began uneventfully. We spent the night at a hotel in Crystal City, Virginia which was only a few hundred yards from the Pentagon. That day we woke, had coffee and Mr. Holloway left for the first meeting of the day while I stayed behind.

Sometime in the next 10-15 minutes or so, I heard a roar. The sound startled me. I walked out to the parking lot of the hotel and looked across the way and saw black smoke billowing from a corner of the Pentagon. Shortly thereafter, there was an exodus of terrified-looking people from the Pentagon into Crystal City. After this panic, D.C. was locked down. (D.C. was so eerily still, so dead, that I have imagined we would have to go back to our nation’s founders and their horse-drawn carriages to find a time the City was so silent and unmoving). All I saw was black military helicopters circling in different places over the City and fighter planes circling high above. There were black suburbans with black-clad men holding serious looking weaponry out of the windows.

I was numb; unnerved and disconcerted. I struggled to comprehend what had happened so near me and across America that day. I had also been stressed and nerve-wracked to know that my older brother, Tom, who worked for U.S. Senator Jon Kyl at the time, worked in the Senate Hart Office Building and, had the Capitol sustained a direct hit as I think was the plan, he would have been in danger.

As the day wore on and the sun began to set I was able to walk some distance closer to the Pentagon. The gaping hole in the building burned brightly and would for days. When night came, and as the emotion of the day weighed heavily on me–and the stench and the smell of the foul night air bombarded my senses and burned my eyes–I was reminded of images from Dante’s Inferno.

9/11 is indelibly imprinted in my memory both because of the evil that is reflected in such an act–and the over 3000 American lives tragically lost–and because of the powerful sense of patriotism and unity that can exist in our great country when we stand together. On this day, and on Veterans Day and Memorial Day, I say a simple prayer in gratitude for those who have suffered and died on our behalf–and remind myself to strive to be worthy of their sacrifice. I include in my prayer the hope that we may find a way—without a tragedy—to be as united as we were then.

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.

Tomorrow September 17th is Constitution Day

Citizens of the United States have celebrated Independence Day and Presidents’ Day since the 1870s, and in 2005, the nation began to celebrate Constitution Day. Also know as Citizenship Day, Constitution Day is an American holiday honoring the day 39 delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the United States Constitution. This historic date was September 17, 1787.

“I Am an American Day”

In 1939, the New York City news tycoon William Randolph Hearst suggested the creation of a holiday to celebrate American citizenship. Not only did Hearst have a wide readership of his many daily newspapers, but he had significant political connections, and in 1940, Congress designated the third Sunday in May as “I am an American Day.” President Harry Truman present the resolution, setting aside this date in honor of the American people, especially those who had recently become citizens of the United States.

The holiday quickly gained support and popularity through the efforts of the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service. Additionally, in 1944, Hearst sponsored a 16 minute film titled I Am an American, which was featured in American theaters, and subsequently became a top news story. It was an immediate hit. Within 5 years, the governors of the existing forty-eight states had issued state proclamations in agreement with the national holiday.

One of the most significant individuals in the development of the holiday was a Louisville, Ohio resident named Olga T. Weber. In 1952, she petitioned the leaders of the municipality to change the date of the holiday to correspond with the anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution. Once they agreed to it, she didn’t stop there, and took her requests to the State, who also approved. In 1953, Olga went to United States Congress, and both the Senate and the House of Representatives approved her requests. The original resolution was overturned and a new law took its place. After Dwight D. Eisenhower signed it, the “I am an American Day” observation became “Citizenship Day” and moved to September 17.

Louisville, Ohio was the first city in the United States to celebrate Citizenship Day on September 17, 1952.

Louise Leigh and Constitution Day

Another important figure in the creation of Constitution Day is Louise Leigh. Leigh, after taking a course in Constitutional History with the National Center for Constitutional Studies, was inspired to spread her newfound love of the Constitution throughout the country. In 1997, she founded a nonprofit organization called Constitution Day, Inc. to help encourage recognition of the importance of this national holiday.

Through her efforts, Constitution Day became an official holiday alongside Citizenship Day in 2004 when, with the help of support from Senator Robert Byrd, the “Constitution Day” amendment to the Omnibus Spending Bill passed. In May 2005, the United States Department of Education backed the law when it announced that it would apply to any school receiving federal funds of any kind.

The two allowances of the law were that the head of every federal agency provide each employee with educational materials concerning the Constitution on 17th of September and that each educational institution which receives Federal funds should hold a program for students every Constitution Day.

Constitution Day, along with Independence Day and Presidents’ Day, is an important part of the cultural heritage of the United States of America, because it recognizes the value of the American experiment, and the success of a nation of free people whose rights and liberties are protected by a written Constitution.

The Founding Fathers:

Baldwin, Abraham, GA
Bassett, Richard, DE
Bedford, Gunning, Jr., DE
Blair, John, VA
Blount, William, NC
Brearley, David, NJ
Broom, Jacob, DE
Butler, Pierce, SC
Carroll, Daniel, MD
Clymer, George, PA
Dayton, Jonathan, NJ
Dickinson, John, DE
Few, William, GA
Fitzsimons, Thomas, PA
Franklin, Benjamin, PA
Gilman, Nicholas, NH
Gorham, Nathaniel, MA
Hamilton, Alexander, NY
Ingersoll, Jared, PA
Jefferson, Thomas, VA
Jenifer, Daniel St Thomas, MD
Johnson, William Samuel, CT
King, Rufus, MA
Langdon, John, NH
Livingston, William, NJ
Madison, James, VA
McHenry, James, MD
Mifflin, Thomas, PA
Morris, Gouverneur, PA
Morris, Robert, PA
Paterson, William, NJ
Pinckney, C. Cotesworth, SC
Pinckney, Charles, SC
Read, George, DE
Rutledge, John, SC
Sherman, Roger, CT
Spaight, Richard Dobbs, NC
Washington, George, VA
Williamson, Hugh, NC
Wilson, James, PA

Winn Parish Arrest Report – UPDATED

Winn Parish Sheriff’s Office
Date: 09-01-2020
Age: 39
Address: DODSON, LA
Gender: MALE

Date: 09-05-2020
Age: 35
Gender: FEMALE

Date: 09-05-2020
Age: 18
Gender: MALE

Date: 09-08-2020
Age: 30
Gender: BLACK
Race: MALE

Date: 09-09-2020
Age: 38
Gender: MALE

Date: 09-10-2020
Age: 33
Gender: MALE

Date: 09-11-2020
Age: 19
Gender: MALE

Date: 09-11-2020
Age: 23
Gender: MALE

Date: 09-11-2020
Age: 30
Address: MIDLAND, TX
Gender: MALE

Date: 09-13-2020
Age: 49
Gender: MALE

Date: 09-10-2020
Age: 27
Address: HARVEY, LA
Gender: MALE

Date: 09-12-2020
Age: 28
Gender: FEMALE

Remember This? Dr. Pemberton’s Potions

Dr. John Pemberton was a successful chemist in Columbus, Georgia.  His business of selling tonics, homemade concoctions, and medicines prospered in the 1850s, but events in the Civil War threatened his business.  Columbus had become the second largest Confederate supply center in the South, second only to Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy.  In 1863, 33-year-old Dr. Pemberton enlisted in the Georgia cavalry’s home guard “for local defense.”  As part of the home guard, Dr. Pemberton’s unit was responsible for the protection of Columbus’s manufacturing facilities, homes, and businesses, which included Dr. Pemberton’s drug store.  For Dr. Pemberton’s nearly two years in the home guard, Columbus had not been directly threatened by Union troops.  However, Columbus would not survive the Civil War unscathed.  

With the fall of Richmond on April 2, 1865, Columbus became the largest surviving manufacturing and military supply hub in the south.  The city’s factories produced a vast array of war supplies.  Located on the Chattahoochee River, Columbus also had a naval construction facility.  The city’s location enabled the transportation of war supplies by river, rail, and land.         

Following the Union victory in the Battle of Nashville on December 16, 1864, Union General George Thomas sent General James Wilson and his men to destroy major confederate supply centers at Selma, Alabama, and Columbus, Georgia.  General Wilson marched his 13,000 men some 300 miles south to Selma, a trek which took just over three months.  On March 22, 1865, General Wilson’s men clashed at Selma with the Confederate army led by General Nathan Bedford Forrest.  General Forrest’s men inflicted heavy casualties, but General Wilson’s men captured and looted Selma, and destroyed the town’s manufacturing facilities.  With little time for rest, General Wilson and his men began the 140-mile march east to Columbus, a town on the Alabama-Georgia border.

During General Wilson’s march, several key events took place which should have ended their trip to Columbus.  On April 2, 1865, Confederate soldiers could no longer protect Richmond from Union troops, and the Army of Virginia and the Confederate government abandoned the capital of the Confederacy.  On April 9, 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses Grant, which officially ended the Civil War.  Five days later, a despondent actor, John Wilkes Booth, assassinated President Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.  General Wilson and his men were marching from Selma to Columbus, and had not received the news that the war had ended or that Lincoln had been assassinated.  They stayed the course.

After three weeks of marching, General Wilson’s men neared Columbus and gathered on the Alabama side of the Chattahoochee River.  Two timber bridges spanned the mighty river, the upper bridge and the lower bridge.  Confederate General Howell Cobb only had about 3,500 men, most of which were home guard units and civilian volunteers, compared to General Wilson’s 13,000 trained soldiers.  Rather than splitting up his men to defend both bridges, General Cobb set a trap.  Civilian volunteers coated the bridges’ support beams with turpentine, a highly-flammable liquid, and placed cotton bails around the support posts.  They removed some of the planks near the east side of the lower bridge to prevent union soldiers from completing the crossing. 

General Wilson weighed his options.  He learned that the upper bridge was more heavily guarded than the lower bridge, and ordered his men to cross the lower bridge.  Once the bridge was full of union soldiers, a few civilian volunteers lit the cotton bails, which quickly engulfed the turpentine-covered lower bridge.  General Wilson’s men had no choice but to retreat.

With the lower bridge out of commission, General Wilson’s only way across the Chattahoochee River was the heavily guarded upper bridge.  At about 8 p.m., after the sun had set, General Wilson’s men attacked General Cobb’s men at the entrance of the upper bridge.  After a volley of gunfire, the nighttime battle quickly turned into hand-to-hand combat.  The soldiers punched, kicked, kneed, bit, and stabbed and sliced with their bayonets and sabers.  During the fray, Dr. Pemberton received a severe saber wound to his chest.  He fell from his horse and lay among the wounded and dead. 

By 10 p.m., General Cobb’s men were no longer able to fend off the Union soldiers.  A mixture of retreating Confederates and charging Union soldiers filled the bridge.  Confederate soldiers stationed on the east side of the bridge were unable to differentiate between friendly and enemy soldiers in the darkness, and held their fire.  Civilian volunteers stationed at the base of the bridge failed to ignite the upper bridge because they feared injuring confederate soldiers.  General Wilson’s large army overran General Cobb’s small number of men.  Union soldiers completely destroyed all military manufacturing facilities in the area, including the unfinished CSS Muscogee, an ironclad warship, which was docked at the naval construction facility at Columbus.  Both sides suffered large numbers of casualties in a battle fought after the war had officially ended.  Battlefield doctors treated the wounded by lamp light.  They treated Dr. Pemberton’s chest wound and gave him morphine to ease the pain. 

A few days after the Battle of Columbus, both sides learned that the war had ended.  The survivors of the conflict tried to return to the lives they once lived.  Dr. Pemberton’s wound was slow to heal and he continued his steady regimen of morphine.  By the time his wound had healed, Dr. Pemberton was addicted to the pain killer.  The drug was readily available to him because of his profession as a chemist.  Dr. Pemberton tried different concoctions and pain killers which were morphine-free, but he was unable to wean himself off of the drug.  When he failed to find a suitable replacement, he began experimenting to create his own.

In 1884, Dr. Pemberton ran an advertisement campaign for a drink he had created called Dr. Pemberton’s Lemon Juice Cordial.  “This Cordial,” the advertisement explained, “is made from the pure juice of lemons, oranges, and limes, combined with pure rock candy syrup, and is the most delicious refreshing and cooling of all known beverages, far superior to lemonade, soda water, lager beer, etc.”  Dr. Pemberton claimed that his cordial “purifies and cools the blood, prevents and cures biliousness, …has wonderful curative powers in all inflammatory diseases, rheumatism, gout, neuralgia, etc.”  Dr. Pemberton advertised his new drink as a great-tasting cure-all, but it failed to cure his addiction to morphine.  He continued to search for the right combination of chemicals.

In the following year, Dr. Pemberton invented another new drink which he claimed was a “great and sure remedy for all nervous disorders such as mental and physical depression, neuralgia, loss of memory, sleeplessness,” and a host of other ailments.  Pemberton’s French Wine Coca was advertised as “the great restorer of health to body and mind.  Millions of our people are in a condition requiring no other remedy.”  Like his Lemon Juice Cordial, the French Wine Coca tasted good.  The ad boasted that the drink was “a wonderful tonic and invigorant” which “is health and joy in every bottle.” 

Dr. Pemberton’s French Wine Coca sold well.  He experimented with different chemicals and eventually produced a nonalcoholic version of his tonic.  It sold even better.  Dr. Pemberton advertised it as a great-tasting patent medicine.  Dr. Pemberton never overcame his addiction to morphine, but in searching for a cure, he created a product that is still sold all over the world.  You know it as Coca-Cola.  Sources:

  1. Chicago Tribune, April 4, 1865, p.1.
  2. Wyoming Democrat, April 12, 1865, p.3.
  3. The Evening Star, April 15, 1865, p.1.
  4. 4. The Carroll Free Press, October 28, 1884, p.4.
  5. 5. The Atlanta Constitution, May 26, 1885, p.2.
  6. 6. The Atlanta Constitution, August 17, 1888, p.4.
  7. “Georgia, Civil War Correspondence, 1861–1865.” Accessed August 31, 2020. https://www.findagra

Notice of Death September 15, 2020

Lynn Rhymes
February 08, 1938 – September 11, 2020
Service: Friday, September 18 at 12 pm at Southern Funeral Home in Winnfield

Sarah Clark
September 13, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Patricia Ardison
September 13, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Isaac N. Carter
September 22, 1931 – September 11, 2020
Service: Saturday, September 19 at 2 pm at Warren Meadows Funeral Home Chapel

Donnie Foster Walker
August 23, 1947 – September 13, 2020
Service: Wednesday, September 16 at 2 pm at Beulah Cemetery in Many

Winn Parish Arrest Report

Winn Parish Sheriff’s Office
Date: 09-08-2020
Age: 30
Gender: BLACK
Race: MALE

Date: 09-10-2020
Age: 33
Gender: MALE

Generator and Chainsaw Reimbursement for Hurricane Laura Survivors

Survivors who purchased or rented a generator and/or chainsaw as a result of Hurricane Laura may be able to receive FEMA reimbursement.

FEMA cannot reimburse equipment paid for by another source, such as homeowner’s, flood, or other types of insurance. Duplicate payments or reimbursements for assistance provided by insurance or any other source are prohibited by law.

Survivors interested in generator and/or chainsaw reimbursement from FEMA must first register. They may do so by going online to, downloading the FEMA mobile app or calling the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585. Multilingual operators are available. Those who use 711 or Video Relay Service may call 800-621-3362.

Applicants who purchase or rent a generator and/or chainsaw within 30 days after the incident start date of Aug. 22, may be eligible to receive financial assistance for reimbursement if:

• The applicant meets the general eligibility requirements for FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program.
• The home is the applicant’s primary residence and is located in a parish designated for the Individuals and Households Program. As of Sept. 8, designated parishes are Acadia, Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Grant, Jackson, Jefferson Davis, Lincoln, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Rapides, Sabine, Union, Vermilion, Vernon and Winn.
• The generator was purchased or rented due to a disruption in electrical utility service caused by Hurricane Laura.
• Proof-of-purchase or rental receipts for the items are submitted by the applicant.

Price Limits
• FEMA may reimburse applicants up to $449 for generators and up to $179.99 for chainsaws.

Generator Safety
• Survivors should never use a generator inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Keep these devices outdoors, away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
Other Reimbursable Items

• FEMA may also reimburse applicants for the following items: carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, dehumidifiers, humidifiers and weather radios.

Notice of Death September 13, 2020

Bill Worsham, Jr.
May 14, 1954 – September 11, 2020
Service: Monday, September 14 at 11 am at Southern Funeral Home

Ronnie Lynn Walker
January 18, 1972 – September 09, 2020
Service: Tuesday, September 15 at 3 pm at Hurricane Grove Baptist Church, located at 337 Hurricane Grove Rd. in Sikes

Daniel Roberson
March 25, 1957 – September 12, 2020
Arrangement TBA

Paula Yvette Willis 
September 12, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Explaining Phase Three

The announcement that Louisiana was moving to Phase Three of reopening was made by Governor Edwards this week. On Friday, Edwards’ office released details of the reasoning behind the change.

Here is that Media Release:

Gov. John Bel Edwards has released details of his proclamation moving Louisiana’s response to COVID-19 to Phase 3. Some businesses will be able to increase their occupancy, and bars may reopen subject to certain restrictions, only in parishes that do not have high incidence of illness and only if local governments choose to opt in.

“We have seen some improvement in decreased COVID-like illness, new COVID cases and hospitalizations in recent weeks, as our strong mitigation measures are working. That said, I want the people of Louisiana to know that moving into Phase 3 does not mean that COVID is no longer a problem for us because in fact it is. That’s why it is incumbent upon all Louisianans to follow the guidance, wear their masks and avoid going out when they are showing symptoms,” Gov. Edwards said. “We all want to see a return to normalcy, but it is going to take all of us working together to get us there. There are still some looming factors that could come to bear on the fragile gains that we have made including students returning to schools at all levels, the outcome of the Labor Day weekend and the displacement of thousands of residents by Hurricane Laura from an area that had among the highest case counts in the state. If we see a spike in cases, we may be forced to go back to a more restrictive Phase 2.”

“I also want people to be realistic, as Phase 3, with perhaps some relatively minor modifications, is likely where we stay until a vaccine is widely available,” Gov. Edwards said. “That doesn’t mean that there won’t be minor changes, but we are going to see things like the statewide mask mandate and crowd size limits in place for quite some time in our state and also across the nation.”

The new order will be in place for 28 days, expiring on October 9. In it, restaurants, churches, salons, spas, gyms and other businesses will be able to open at a maximum of 75 percent of their occupancy, with social distancing in place.

For now, bars will remain closed to on-premises consumption in parishes with high incidence of COVID as evidenced by their test positivity rate, which is a continued recommendation of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, as cases among young people and in college towns continue to grow.

Gov. Edwards’ order also outlines how bars may begin to re-open for on-premises consumption in Louisiana in Phase 3, based on the percent positivity of the parish for a two-week period. Parishes with a positivity rate of 5 percent or lower for two consecutive weeks may opt-in to open bars for on premises consumption, under the restrictions in the Governor’s order.

This two-week percent positivity will be updated every two weeks by the Louisiana Department of Health, with the next update scheduled for September 16.

When re-opened, bars will be able to open at 25 percent capacity, up to 50 people, indoors for customers seated for tableside service. They may have no more than 50 customers outdoors, socially distanced, seated for tableside service. No live music will be allowed. All drinks must be ordered at the table and delivered by bar staff to the table. Sale and service of alcohol at bars, when they reopen, must end at 10 p.m., with all patrons cleared from the building by 11 p.m. When re-opened, no one under the age of 21 is permitted in any bar.

Phase 3 also prohibits the sale or service of alcohol for on premises consumption at all establishments, including restaurants and casinos, after 10 p.m.

The statewide mask mandate will stay in place under the new order. Masks have proven to be a key mitigation measure in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. The more Louisianans who wear masks, the more Louisiana businesses can stay open.

The order continues to recommend those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 stay at home unless they must leave for an essential activity, such as getting food or medical care. People with higher risk include those with compromised immune systems, those 65 and older and those with conditions like diabetes, hypertension, heart or kidney disease and obesity. Consult the CDC guidance on high risk conditions for more information.

Indoor social gatherings, like weddings or receptions, will be limited to the lesser of 250 people or 50 percent capacity of the facility. Outdoors, crowd sizes are limited to 50 percent capacity, up to 250 people, if people will be in close proximity and social distancing is not possible. Casinos will stay at 50 percent capacity and 75 percent of their gaming positions under the new order. Sporting events, like college football games, will operate at a lesser capacity of 25 percent and without alcohol sales.

Nursing home visitation will be prohibited in Phase 3, but the Louisiana Department of Health is working on a pilot program to begin to allow visitation at nursing homes with no new cases for 14 days and in parishes without high numbers of COVID-19. LDH will release details in the coming days.

Letter to the Editor – United for Infrastructure Week

Dear Editor,

Infrastructure is a critical aspect of everyday life. It supports our transportation system and stimulates economic growth for the country. At the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD), we are committed to enhancing the quality of life for our residents through our transportation systems.

The week of September 14 marks the beginning of United for Infrastructure: A Week to Champion America’s Infrastructure, a week dedicated to bringing transportation organizations from across the country together to advocate and provide education on the nation’s infrastructure. This year’s theme is fitting as DOTD continues to need more resources and funding to support Louisiana’s motorists. In order to continue preserving our existing roadways and building new roadway systems, we must have a reliable and steady revenue stream. The state relies on a 20-cent gas tax to address infrastructure needs, though more than four cents is dedicated to the TIMED program. After this, remaining revenue goes to the Transportation Trust Fund to address our current needs which has lost more than 50 percent of its value since it hasn’t changed since the 1980s.

Since Governor Edwards took office in January 2016, more than $3.6 billion has been invested toward infrastructure projects throughout the state, totaling to 1,452 projects and nearly 5,000 miles.  In Central Louisiana, over $213 million totaling 141 projects and more than 534 miles has been invested in the form of maintenance and new construction. Some of those projects include the US 71 Railroad overpass replacement project, addition of the Motorist Assistance Patrol service that provides a valuable resource to stranded drivers in most of the state’s metropolitan areas, and two roundabouts to improve traffic congestion and safety at busy intersections in both Alexandria and Pineville.

This fiscal year alone, we will invest an estimated $50 million in multimodal needs, which include critical projects such as the Mississippi River Deepening Project. While significant, this investment pales in comparison to the needs in our state. DOTD has demonstrated it can produce major projects across the state such as the critical investments in roadway safety in the form of several roundabouts in the Central Louisiana (Alexandria) region. The Leesville roundabout at the intersection of LA 184 and LA 468 began in 2018 at a cost of $2.2 million, replacing the traditional 4-leg intersection with a single lane roundabout. Based on crash history, this intersection was a prime candidate for a roundabout to vastly improve safety.

Jackson Street at Horseshoe Drive in Alexandria is now the home to a brand new single lane roundabout, at an investment of $1.8 million for the corridor. Construction began in 2019, replacing the stop-controlled intersection and moving traffic through the residential and commercial area with renewed mobility for both motorists and pedestrians.  In May 2020, work began on the $1 million Susek Drive/Edgewood Drive Roundabout in Pineville. The busy intersection was closed to traffic while the contractor transformed the stop-controlled configuration into a single-lane roundabout, opening the door for greatly improved traffic flow in front of Pineville Junior High School. The project was complete before the new school year began in August, providing reduced congestion through the corridor.  Without a steady revenue stream, new projects will be few and far between as the funding from the 1986 gas tax will be primarily used to maintain the system that is already in place.

Louisiana has four of the top five longest bridges in the United States. And there are more than 13,000 bridges in the state and more than 16,600 miles of roadway. Five Mississippi River ports carry 25 percent of U.S. waterborne commerce, 60 percent of the nation’s grain, and 20 percent of the nation’s coal.  Louisiana also moves goods over nearly 3,000 miles of rail line.  We should build on these resources as opposed to being limited by disinvestment.

Infrastructure matters to our country, economy, and communities, as this is the gateway to providing access to goods, services, and traveling needs. This department works hard to ensure that each vital transportation system is maintained to enhance business development and improve commuter convenience. 

Infrastructure is vital to our economy, our everyday travel, and lifestyle. We often take these benefits for granted as we go about our daily lives. But, as the needs continue to grow, and the funding continues to dwindle, it’s important to take this week to realize how important and impactful infrastructure is to our daily lives.

Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D

Secretary of Louisiana DOTD

Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D
Secretary of Louisiana DOTD

Mosquitoes Causing Problems for Livestock Owners

An increase in mosquitoes following Hurricane Laura is causing problems for livestock owners.

“What we are seeing are swarms of mosquitoes that are preying on exhausted and stressed livestock,” said Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M. “While parishes are spraying to mitigate the problem, I also urge livestock owners to spray their pastures or use products that can be applied to the animals,” added Strain.

Those products must be used according to label instructions. If used on a food-producing animal, it must be approved for that species. Nutritional supplements should be given under the direction of a veterinarian; and, the use of fans to keep the pests away is also beneficial.

Typically, mosquito-borne diseases such as Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus (WNV), which mostly impact horses, can be fought by vaccinating the animals. In this situation, it seems to be a number of factors. Swarms of mosquitoes, combined with environmentally stressed livestock that cannot escape the pests, are causing problems for livestock and their owners.

Today is Patriot Day

Today is Patriot Day, a day designated in 2001 to remember the surprise attacks on the United States by Arab terrorists.  Here is the background story from Encyclopedia Britannica:

Patriot Day,  holiday observed in the United States on September 11 to commemorate the lives of those who died in the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Virginia and those who perished when the hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania. The holiday also recognizes those who died attempting to rescue people trapped by the attacks.

By a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress on Dec. 18, 2001, September 11 was designated as Patriot Day. The resolution calls for the president of the United States to issue a yearly proclamation requesting that all U.S. flags be flown at half-staff.

Americans are asked to honour the dead with a moment of silence beginning at 8:46 AM, Eastern Standard Time, the time that the first airplane struck the World Trade Center, and to respect the ceremonies of remembrance when they are conducted.

Prior to passage of the resolution, several other names had been proposed for the day, such as the National Day of Remembrance and the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance. 

Steve Vines of Winnfield Selected to Receive Honorary American FFA Degree – Teacher

The award is given to those who advance agriculture education and FFA through outstanding personal commitment.

The National FFA Organization works to enhance the lives of youth through agriculture education. Without the efforts of highly dedicated individuals, thousands of young people would not be able to achieve success that, in turn, contributes directly to the overall well-being of the nation. The Honorary American FFA Degree is an opportunity to recognize those who have gone beyond the valuable daily contributions to make an extraordinary long-term difference in the lives of students, inspiring confidence in a new generation of agriculturists. Recipients in the teacher category are selected on the basis of their contributions in the following seven areas: classroom/laboratory instruction, experiential learning of students, National FFA Organization, building partnerships, agricultural education program marketing, agricultural education program development and evaluation and professional development of agricultural education teachers. 

In addition, teachers must have taught for a minimum of 10 years, and their agriculture education program must have 85 percent membership in the past year. Steve Vines taught agriculture education at Winnfield Senior High School for 49 years and almost every one of those years had 100% of his students as members of FFA. Steve was one of only 20 teachers in the country to receive this honor this year.