Parish Journals Now Available in 9 Parishes, Links to Each Included

Parish Journals are the fast, easy, and free way to access local Parish news, sports and information. Want to stay in the know about what’s going on in a neighboring parish? Sign up to receive that parish’s Journal in your email inbox. It’s simple and free!

The following is a list of the Journals (in alphabetical order) that are currently publishing with links to sign up:

The Parish Journals team is constantly working on adding parishes to this list so check back soon to see which parish has been the latest to become part of the Parish Journals family.

Autism Indicator Now Available on Louisiana Driver’s Licenses

Eligible Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles customers can now request to have an “Autism” indicator added to their driver’s license. Qualified applicants include any person diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder by a qualified medical or mental health professional. The autism indicator will appear under the customer’s picture on the license.

The autism indicator is optional and can be removed from a credential at any time, as requested by the applicant. The “Autism” designation can be displayed on any class driver’s license, including the TIP, but may not be placed on Class I (Identification Card) or Class H (Handicap Identification Card) credentials. Applicable fees are required for driver’s license processing if adding or removing the Autism indicator.

Applicants must provide one of the following documents to the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles in order to have the designation added:

  • Medical Examiner’s Certification of Autism Spectrum Disorder form completed by the medical or mental health professional
  • A statement from a qualified mental health professional licensed in Louisiana or any other state or territory of the United States verifying the applicant’s disability.

A driver’s license with an Autism indicator cannot include the “Veteran,” “I’m a Cajun” or “100% DAV” indicators. The Autism indicator can only be combined with the “Needs Accommodation” indicator. If the driver’s license indicates “Autism,” but not “Needs Accommodation,” a puzzle piece symbol will appear on the license with the autism designation below the picture. If the driver’s license indicates both “Autism” and “Needs Accommodation,” the autism designation will appear below the picture in addition to “AN” above the picture.

LA Wallet users can display the Autism indicator on their license in the LA Wallet app. If an applicable license is currently linked in LA Wallet, simply unlink the license in the menu and add it back to get the updated image.

To Miss a Chance Like That

“…and this is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket, and lying in a manger.” –  Luke 2:12

“Only God could have thought of giving us Christmas,” the pilgrim told me.

“I no longer wonder why the world turns again every year to the Babe born in the innkeeper’s cattle shed,” he said. “A baby bundled tightly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger. Simple enough to be new every year, miraculous enough to be eternal, tender enough to be personal. Only God would have done it that way.”

“No official proclamation. No fuss. No Madison Avenue ad campaign. If man had done it he would have made a great production. But God did it the way God does so many things in the world. The coming of dawn and the setting of the sun are quiet things. Sleep needs no trumpets to announce it. Flowers bloom in silence. Falling snow makes no more sound than the cat’s paw. And so it was with the coming of the Savior of the World. Just the whimper of a baby, asleep on the hay.

“That’s just like God,” the pilgrim said.

“Bethlehem tells us that the loveliness in life is not in the things that we possess, the titles and checkbook balances and plaques on the wall. Bethlehem tells us that the loveliness in life is in our relationships. ‘Come see the baby. Come spend time with us, and come spend time with the baby…’

“That long ago Judean night when Heaven dipped down to Earth, there were no costly jewels, no golden streets, but instead a place where God was at home in a stable…a place where shepherds were as welcome as wise men…a place where, for a moment, nothing in Creation was more important than a donkey who bore on his back a suffering woman, a woman of God’s favor, a woman who stepped into a barn on the brink of the Fullness of Time and into a place where a stable filled with animals was a temple fit for a king.

“That’s so like God. To send his one and only son into a place humble, a place where voices joined in chorus with the first cry of a newborn. There is nothing in the world so new as Christmas, and nothing in the world so old.

“Bethlehem tells us that God is awake while most all the world sleeps. It was while the world lay in darkness that God chose to come down to Earth. He came into a world of darkness then, He comes into a world of darkness now. Isn’t it comforting to know that in a time of darkness and despair, God is always awake, is alive, and is still ruling the universe?

“Christmas asks us to follow the star, to look for the light, and to listen for the baby. Where there is light, there can be no dark, and so it was into the night that the baby came.

“The gift in the manger reminds us that the joy and truth of Christmas can be recaptured. There is nothing in the world like a baby. The whole silly world stops when a baby is born. God, a baby at Bethlehem…

“The wonder of it all…

“There is nothing as tragic as missing something of great importance when there was no reason to have missed it at all. Such was the experience of those who missed the first Christmas and the experience of those who miss Christmas today. One of those was the innkeeper in Bethlehem. He should not have missed it, because he was so close to it. He missed the Greatest and the Most Important Birth in all of history, right in his own backyard. This child of prophecy, this baby sent to restore and to redeem, born right under his nose. But he was so preoccupied with business, with noise and crowds and himself that he missed the first Christmas in history. He had no room.

“What a tragedy, to miss a chance like that.”

Contact Teddy at

Originally Published: December 2009

Remember This? Disguised To Be Recognized

By: Brad Dison

On Friday morning, December 23, 1927, a gang comprised of ex-convicts Henry Helms, Marshall Ratliff, Robert Hill, and a fourth man who had no criminal record, Louis Davis, headed to the First National Bank of Cisco, Texas. Davis was a last-minute addition to the gang. While the other robbers dressed in casual everyday attire that would allow them to blend in perfectly with the other customers, Davis wore a flashy suit that stood out like a sore thumb. Davis wanted to disguise his identity. This was his first foray into crime and he wanted everyone’s attention on him while the other three robbed the bank. The gang was unconcerned that the Banker’s Association had recently posted a $5,000 reward which could only be redeemed for dead bank robbers.

The town of Cisco was bustling with activity. With cheerful smiles, the citizens wished each other a “Merry Christmas.” Miss Ella Andress, head of the Spanish department at the Cisco High School, went into the bank in Cisco to cash a check. Once her transaction was completed, Miss Andress walked away from the counter and out the bank’s door. There, she met the man in the flashy suit as he was entering the bank. He brushed up against Ms. Andress and left small bits of cotton on her coat. She glanced at the guy wearing the flashy suit, gave him a smile, and kept walking. She was anxious to get home to start her Christmas holiday. Mrs. B.P. Blasengame and her daughter followed the man in the flashy suit into the bank. She needed to cash a check as well.

The man in the flashy suit did not approach the counter but stood by the door. The other three bank robbers casually entered the bank and pulled their pistols. Thinking quickly, Mrs. Blasengame grabbed her daughter and ran from the bank. As they ran, they yelled to everyone within earshot that the bank was being robbed.

While the three men went nearly unnoticed in the bank, everyone noticed and instantly recognized the man in the flashy suit. They could describe his every feature and could even call him by name.

The four bank robbers walked out of the bank with $12,200 in cash and $150,000 in securities. Had Mrs. Blasengame not escaped, the robbery might have been successful. A hail of gunfire erupted between the heavily-armed bank robbers and police chief G.E. Bedford and officer George Carmichael. Stray bullets flew everywhere. Within seconds, injured people, including innocent bystanders, started falling. Wounded in the gun battle was the man in the flashy suit, gang member Marshall Ratliff, police chief Bedford and officer Carmichael, and innocent bystanders Marion Olson, Brady Boggs, Pete Rutherford, R.L. Day, Oscar Cliett and Alex Spears.

The man in the flashy suit lay on the sidewalk, too injured to make an escape. His three co-conspirators, including the wounded Ratliff, dropped their loot, grabbed two girls whom they used as shields, and fled from the scene in a car. Their plan had failed miserably. Once the bank robbers were at a safe distance, they released the girls. The girls told Young county officers that one of the robbers had been shot and another had blood on his face. The bank robbers drove north trailed by several police officers. Officers surrounded the men who had run on foot into a wooded area near Ivan, Texas, about forty miles northeast of Cisco.

The three remaining bank robbers were eventually captured. Marshall Ratliff was lynched by an angry mob. Henry Helms was executed by the State of Texas. Robert Hill was sentenced to life in prison, but was eventually paroled. The man in the flashy suit, in his first venture into a life of crime, died where he fell. Even today, nearly one hundred years later, the citizenry of Cisco reminisces about the bank robber and call him by name. Only people who have studied the failed bank robbery know the name Louis Davis, the man in the flashy suit. Everyone else just remembers the time the bank was almost robbed by… Santa Claus.

1. El Paso Herald (El Paso, Texas), December 27, 1927, p.1.
2. The Austin American (Austin, Texas), December 28, 1927, p.8.
3. El Paso Herald (El Paso, Texas), December 27, 1927, p.1.
4. Abilene Reporter-News (Abilene, Texas), June 29, 1962, p.2.
5. Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Minnesota), September 17, 1972, p.81.

My Opinion – Nonsense in New York: NYC Lets Non-Citizens Vote

By: Royal Alexander

The City Council in New York City recently approved legislation that would allow approximately 800,000 non-citizens to vote in local elections.  One of the several problems with this bill (which will become law because NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he won’t veto it) is that it is clearly unconstitutional as to both the New York state constitution as well as our U.S. Constitution.  It is highly likely the law will be immediately enjoined and then litigated in court where I believe it will be struck down.

The New York State Constitution guarantees citizens the right to vote.  In fact, the Second Article of New York State’s Constitution ensures that “every citizen shall be entitled to vote at every election for all officers elected by the people … provided that such citizen is [18] years of age or over and shall have been a resident of this state, … county, city, or village for [30] days next preceding an election.” (Emphasis added).

Supporters of this measure have argued that because this language does not expressly exclude non-citizens, New York City can allow them to vote.  This is ludicrous.  This constitutional language does clearly exclude from voting those who are not citizens by expressly requiring that voters be citizens.  This law is also backwards and has no limiting principle.  It is easy to imagine it being manipulated.  At a minimum, the brief 30-day residency by non-citizen voters would allow a non-citizen to live in NYC for the duration of a particular job or project, making them eligible to vote, after which they return to their native country.  This would easily allow outside influences to impact New Y0rk City elections.

As writer, commentator and former Asst. U.S. Attorney, Andrew McCarthy, has stated, “…when noncitizens vote, it dilutes the votes of citizens, because the concept that the votes of citizens count is a bedrock of constitutional democracy.  Also fundamental is the concept of citizenship, to which singular allegiance to the nation and its laws is basic.”  That is why, McCarthy continued, “if citizenship is eviscerated, so are our ties to the nation and to the ideal that we are a unified political community.  This is why citizenship has always been a prerequisite to voting.  To be a citizen is not merely to have the rights but also the obligations of being an American. Citizenship implies a commitment to the nation and its principles, which is what makes the country work, and makes us a unique national community.”

It is unquestionable that the hallmark of a legitimately functioning democracy in a free society is the honest exercise of the voting franchise by its citizens.  Period.  If people become convinced that their vote—the most powerful tool they possess to express themselves, their policy preferences, and to participate in our civic life—is not valued and protected, the rule of law will crumble.  And when the rule of law is gone what results is chaos, anarchy, and the law of the mob.  Many people in this country already feel powerless and disconnected and if the hope and faith they place in their vote—their voice—is corrupted and destroyed, our nation cannot endure.

As Thomas Paine said, the right of citizens to vote “is the primary right by which all other rights are protected.”  We must recall that in the history of the world, the right of a citizenry to choose its leaders—in this great American experiment in Democracy, as Lincoln articulated it—is a narrow historical exception to rule by a king or czar or mullah or dictator or tyrant. 

Our right to vote is a sacred right that wasn’t given to us by politicians, journalists, priests or rabbis.  It is a precious right given to us by the Founders who pledged “our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor”  in commitment to the principle of  individual freedom and with an understanding that freedom is not free; and also given to us by 1.1 million American service men and women since the Revolutionary War up to the present day who have given the “last full measure of devotion” to grant and protect citizens’ right to form and sustain a “government by consent of the governed.”  NYC dishonors those who gave their lives to give us the right to vote.

Our fundamental right to vote is truly preservative of all our other rights and citizenship has always been the only moral and credible place to draw the line regarding this sacred right.  And it must so remain.

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 is of their opinion and is not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

LDWF Thanks State Deer Hunters For CWD Sampling Participation, Encourages More Testing

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) would like to thank state deer hunters for participating in statewide chronic wasting disease (CWD) sampling and continues to encourage hunters to have their harvest tested for CWD, free of charge.

The sampling assistance from hunters is one of LDWF’s best tools in monitoring for the disease. CWD has not been detected in Louisiana but has been found in deer in Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas.

A 2.5 year-old female white-tailed deer in Union County, Arkansas, 7.5 miles north of the Louisiana-Arkansas border, was found to have the disease last month. LDWF has implemented its CWD Response Plan and has increased ongoing CWD surveillance in Morehouse and Union parishes due to their proximity to the CWD detection. LDWF has collected slightly more than two-thirds of its sampling goal within these parishes.

“Louisiana hunters understand how valuable the natural resources are here in the Sportsman’s Paradise,’’ said State Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Jim LaCour. “We’re very pleased with the cooperation from hunters in our sampling effort. It’s key that we sample as many deer as possible so we continue to ask for their assistance.’’

The test also provides reliable assurance to hunters that CWD was not detected in the animals they harvested.

Hunters who would like to have their harvested deer tested for CWD are encouraged to visit our CWD testing website and follow the steps outlined on that page so a sample can be submitted to the nearest LDWF Field Office, or simply call their nearest LDWF Field Office for assistance

LDWF aims for a complete turnaround of two weeks, allowing hunters to obtain their results in time to enjoy their venison. 

To begin the sampling process, hunters can:

  • Record the GPS location of where the deer was harvested.
  • Remove the head about five inches below the ear.
  • Deer heads may be caped with antlers and skull cap removed.
  • Do not freeze. Samples should be refrigerated or saved on ice.
  • Complete the online information gathering form and print the email received after completing that form.
  • Contact the nearest LDWF Field Office to arrange submission of the specimen.

Here are the LDWF Field Offices and contact info:

Baton Rouge Office  225-765-5030          2000 Quail Dr, Baton Rouge;

Hammond Office      985-543-4777          42371 Phyllis Ann Dr, Hammond;

Lafayette Office        337-262-2080          200 Dulles Dr, Lafayette;

Lake Charles Office 337-491-2575          1213 North Lakeshore Dr, Lake Charles;

Minden Office           318-371-3050           9961 Hwy 80, Minden;

Monroe Office           318-343-4044          368 Century Link Dr, Monroe;

Pineville Office         318-487-5885          1995 Shreveport Hwy, Pineville.

CWD is a neurodegenerative disease found in most deer species, including Louisiana’s native white-tailed deer. It is infectious, always fatal, and there is no treatment. It’s part of a group of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) and is similar to BSE (mad cow disease) in cattle and scrapie in sheep. These diseases cause irreversible damage to brain tissue, which leads to excessive salivation, neurological symptoms, emaciation, and death of the animal.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no evidence that CWD has infected humans. However, the CDC recommends caution in handling venison in infected regions, and that deer be tested for CWD before consuming. CWD positive deer should not be consumed by people.

CWD has been documented in 26 states and three Canadian provinces.

LDWF has been sampling for CWD since 2002. To date, over 12,000 samples have been tested and CWD has not been detected in Louisiana.

Detailed instructions and more information can be found at

For more information on CWD, go to

Notice of Death December 21, 2021

Vikkie Lynn (VanHoozen) LaFollette
January 25, 1967 – December 19, 2021
Service: Wednesday, December 22 at 11 am in the Chapel of Kinner & Stevens Funeral Home

Carolyn Kay Kerry
January 6, 1950 – December 18, 2021
Service: Wednesday December 22 at 2 pm at The Family Church in Winnfield

Roy Cagle, Sr.
December 3, 1941 – December 21, 2021
Service: Tuesday, December 28 at 2 pm at Jennings Chapel Congregational Methodist Church in Marthaville

Dr. Susan Dollar
December 19, 1959 – December 20,  2021
Arrangements TBA

Charles Dwight Vienne, Sr.
March 29, 1939 – December 19, 2021
Service: Thursday, December 23 at 11 am at The Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

Agents Cite Two Subjects for Deer Hunting Violations in Winn Parish

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents cited two subjects for alleged deer hunting violations in Winn Parish on Dec. 8.

Agents cited Michael C. Jordan, 25, of Dodson, and Bailey A. Harvey, 23, of Dodson, for failing to comply with deer tagging requirements.  Agents also cited Jordan for intentional concealment of wildlife and Harvey for failing to comply with civil restitution payment requirements.

Agents were notified about an illegally taken deer that was hid in the woods to be picked up later.  Agents set up surveillance and made contact with Jordan near the area.  Jordan was found in possession of an untagged antlered deer in his truck that was picked up from the woods.  Jordan also admitted to agents that he took another antlered deer earlier in the season that he did not tag.

Agents also discovered information about Harvey harvesting a deer earlier in the season even though she was under license revocation for failing to pay restitution on an illegally harvested deer the previous hunting season.  Agents made contact with Harvey and she admitted to taking an antlered deer on Nov. 1 while knowing she was under license revocation.

Intentional concealment of wildlife brings up to a $950 fine and 120 days in jail.  Failing to comply with restitution payment requirements carries up to a $500 fine and 90 days in jail.  Failing to comply with deer tagging requirements brings up to a $350 fine.

Jordan may also face civil restitution totaling $3,249 for the replacement value of the deer.  Harvey may also face civil restitution totaling $1,624 for the replacement value of the deer.

Agents involved in the case are Corporal Joshua DiBenedetto and Senior Agent Raymond Davis.

NSU Awards Diplomas to Fall, Summer 2021 Graduates

Northwestern State University awarded 662 degrees to 656 graduates during Fall 2021 Commencement exercises with four ceremonies held over two days, Dec. 15-16. NSU also awarded 412 degrees to 409 Summer 2021 graduates. It was the first commencement program presided over by Dr. Marcus Jones, who was named NSU’s 20th president in November.

Fall graduates are listed by hometown (in Natchitoches and surrounding areas) below, followed by the list of Summer graduates.

Alexandria –LaChandra Daigle, Ragan Huff, Happiness Johnson, Latisha White, Associate of Science in Nursing; Grayson Barbe, Associate Degree; Diana Azua, Carmen Rachal, Joshua Wells, Associate of General Studies; Sarah Hagan, Martavius King, Bachelor of Arts; Jordan Johnson, Elyssa Joly, Bachelor of Fine Arts; Maslin Gillett, Bachelor of General Studies; Jasmine Johnson, Bachelor of Music Education; Hunter Lewis, Justin Mundy, Hattie O’Steen, Maranda Pelkey, Alexander Trotter, Anthony White, Madison Willis, Bachelor of Science; Ruth Mesquita, Brandi Stalnaker, Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Mydacia Conaler, Brittany White, Bachelor of Social Work; Amie Clark, Selena Elmore, Jason Mercer, Rebecca Verdin, Master of Arts; Holly Carbo, Master of Education;

Benton – Jennifer Jackson, Associate of Science in Nursing; Megan Russell, Associate Degree; Steven Evans, Bachelor of General Studies; Bobbie Manchester, Jackson Mathews, Megan Russell, Bachelor of Science; Angela Cameron, Stacy Ebarb, Dena McWilliams, Kathryn Watts, Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Larry Arant, Master of Science;

Bossier City – Chloe Levins, Associate of Science in Nursing; David Breedlove, Morgan Buxton, Darion Caillier, Catherine Carter, Kirk Weaver, Bachelor of Science; Amanda Billue, McKenzie Davidson, Elizabeth Davis, Geovanna Garza, Jodi Hill, Kristen Johnson, Beatrice Kipruto, Mary Mclendon, Andrew Robinson, Brianna Smith, Keyeria Smith, Kelllie Toms, Madison Wyatt, Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Jerona Washington, Master of Arts; Douglas Smith, Master of Arts in Teaching;

Boyce – Katelyn Brister, Brandon Horne, Associate of Science in Nursing; Kelsie Arceneaux, Associate of General Studies; Sydney Yerby, Bachelor of Science; Anna Lacombe, Kaitlyn Miller, Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Joseph Welch, Master of Education;

Campti – Madelynne Greer, Bachelor of Science in Nursing;

Clarence – Lorraine Joseph, Associate of General Studies;

Converse – Kelli Rutherford, Bachelor of Applied Science; Ashley Sims, Bachelor of Arts; Haleigh Sharrow, Bachelor of Science in Nursing;

Coushatta – Victoria Rivers, Associate of General Studies; Shelly Isaacs, Bachelor of Applied Science; Kori Allen, Bachelor of General Studies; Faith Cason, La’Zaria Clark, Tawanda Johnson, Bachelor of Science; Savanah Caldwell, Brandon Gay, Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Sydney Guin, Master of Arts in Teaching;

Florien – Annetra Gordon, Magon Pickett, Bachelor of General Studies; Caroline Chandler, Master of Education;

Fort Polk – Brianna Benfer, Martha Petitt, Associate of Science in Nursing; Steven LaPira, Associate of General Studies; Ashley Smock, Bachelor of General Studies; Alhaji Vandy, Bachelor of Science; Karen Da Silva, Bachelor of Science in Nursing;

Leesville – Jasmine Gonzales, Brandon Seaman, Autumn Sorensen, Kasey Tijerina, Associate of Science in Nursing; Kelsey Corley, Shannon Goody, Amber Johnson, Associate of General Studies; Samantha LaMonte, Constance McManus, Bachelor of General Studies; Gracyn Bruno, Erika Gilcrease, Brianna Harperhoward, Julie Lawrence, Ashley McKellar, Marquerita Moffett, Winter Pitts, Bachelor of Science; Morgan Campbell, Bachelor of Science in Nursing;

Lena – Antoinette Baker, Bachelor of Science;

Mansfield – Madison Welborn, Bachelor of Science;

Many – Kristle Cary, Associate of Science in Nursing; Anne Boyens, Darien McMillian, Associate of General Studies; Lesli Leach, Bachelor of General Studies; Brayden McMillian, Chas Pilcher, Anna Porterfield, Bachelor of Science; Jaleah Lee, Mayci Self, Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Brianna Miller, Bachelor of Social Work;

Marthaville – Madeline Procell, Bachelor of Science; Bridgette Phelps, Hannah Sattler, Bachelor of Science in Nursing;

Natchez – Dalton Dark, Associate of Science; Joseph Bayonne, Morgan Slaughter, Bachelor of Science;

Natchitoches – Christine Fuller, Charlotte Preylo, Associate of Science in Nursing; Rachel Formeller, Associate Degree; Kimberly Benjamin, Ruth Chatman, Griffianna Paige, Jairon Pitts, Mary Queen, Associate of General Studies; Eboni Phidd, Bachelor of Applied Science; Leanna Coy, Sheridan Douglas, Trenton Downs, Joshua Ellis, Melvin James, Cierra Johnson, Shawn Perry, Hannah Pettus, James Stanfield, Bachelor of Arts; Omari Irchirl, Bachelor of Fine Arts; Ian Belsha, Taylor Garland, Jonathan Roberts, Chandler Sarpy, Madison Thompson, Lindsey Vascocu, Rebecca Wilson, Bachelor of General Studies; Adam Trupp, Bachelor of Music; Michael Austin, Shenita Braxton, Wesley Carnahan, Destinee Christie, Leyla Fetweis, Ashley Flounnory, Rachel Formeller, Abbie Gandy, Diana Granados, Terrence Green, Jasmine Howard, Cayman Howell, Shastidy Hughes, Cierra Johnson, Karrington Johnson, Malachi Lester, Anna Marsha, Lamarr McGaskey, Quinton Mitchell, JeBreanne Morgan, Katelyn Murphy, Julie Nelson, Jay Oliphant, Kenneth Penrod, Meredith Phelps, Marissa Rogers, Christopher Sanders, Austin Simoneaux, Hannah Thomas, Ellise Vice, Melody Woodard, Bachelor of Science; Natalie Aguirre, Dylan Bennett, Kacy Bonds, Amanda Boudreaux, Keyana Brown, Ladiamond Burrell, John Howell, Kobe Jackson, Kristin McQuillin, Sydney Normand, Jasmine Richardson, William Torent, Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Jasmine Dauzart, Bachelor of Social Work; Misty Lester, Doctor of Nursing Practice; Emilie King, Educational Specialist; Herbert de Launay, Emily Duet, Mary-Katherine Horton, Edgar Lopez, Ashley Mitchell, Master of Arts; Bergen Oge, Master of Education; Matthew Armand, Master of Music; Taylor Aucoin, Kyle Jobe, Master of Science; Krislyn Chenevert, Master of Science in Nursing;

Oak Grove –Anisha Blansett, Master of Arts in Teaching;

Pineville – Helen Casey, Natalie Jones, Joycelynn Sampson-Lewis, Maria Speights, Associate of General Studies; Casey Floyd,Bachelor of Applied Science; Brooke Leger, Bachelor of Fine Arts; Eriana Magee, Ashley Phillips, Bachelor of General Studies; Madison Evers, Katelynn Frost Hagan, Alissa Joseph, Henry Martin, Bachelor of Science; Alexis Dennis, Cecilia Shader, Christopher Wells, Bachelor of Science in Nursing;

Pleasant Hill – Shunterika Fields, Bachelor of Science;

Ringgold – Carly Chandler, Bachelor of Arts, Kayla Hullaby, Master of Arts;

Robeline – Marley Lester, Terra Schulze, Associate of General Studies; Chad Berly, Kaitlin Hatten, Rachel Head, Morgan Neugent, Bachelor of Science; Jessica Clark, Bachelor of Social Work;

Saline – Bayli Quick, Bachelor of Arts; Madison Alexander, Bachelor of Science; Lillie Williams, Master of Arts in Teaching;

Shreveport – Shakelvia Braden, Alyse Kirkaldy, Neidra Nash, ShaTavia Robinson, Cheria Scott,Andrew Watts, Associate of Science in Nursing; Tracy Clark, Yolanda Hendricks, Darniesha Wright, Associate of General Studies; Shaglenda Ary, Bachelor of Applied Science; Hannah Angell, Jackson Driggers, Noel Holmes, Makayla Joiner, Cristina Peterson, Savannah Phipps, Bachelor of Arts; Darika Kirkendol, Troy Winslow, Bachelor of General Studies; Leta Broome, Kendrick Dias, Meghan Fry, Deaveon Jones, Sierra Prelow, Kristen Reutlinger, Carmen Varnell, LaShonda Watkins, Kristy Wilson, Bachelor of Science; Erin Batts, Coral Bonts, Lura Brezina, Kaylan Campbell, Kesherion Collins, Carla Drain, Stephanie Dykes, Jenna Fielder, Peyton Gamble, Jaimee Henderson, Tremeka Henderson, Emily Herzog, Meghan Jelks, Kimiko Jones Davis, Emily Juarez, Ebony Leftridge, Alexis Leslie, Jessica Miller, Mary Murray, Kayla Petteway, Kalyn Phillips, Mikayla Phillips, Melinda Sampson, Devonne Seelig, Joanna Sims, Anne Tibbit, Maleaca Vincent, Brittany Ward, Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Latari Fleming, Master of Arts; Catherine Victory, Master of Arts in Teaching; Melissa Edwards, Master of Education;

Courtney Dehart, Malory Jeter, Master of Science;

Springhill – Stephanie Daniel, Associate of Science in Nursing;

Winnfield – LaTerrion Green, Bachelor of Arts; Lana Knotts, Lauralyn Thompson, Bachelor of General Studies; Avonna Wilson, Bachelor of Science; Kassidy Grantadams, Elizabeth Parker, Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Tenisha Phillips, Fatima Rodriguez, Bachelor of Social Work;

Summer 2021 graduates:

Alexandria – Shelby Socia, Associate Degree; Victoria Burns, Dusting Constante, Matthew Cureington, Lamonae James, Claudine McGlory, Associate of General Studies; Andrea Aaron, Morgan Brame, Breanna Bryan, Kayla Busby, Brikeysha Duskin, Marlayna Fontenot, Sailor Reed, Tammy Reed-Belsha, KaWonda Williams, Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Tasia Traylor, Bachelor of Social Work; Amanda Iles, Master of Education;

Benton – Savannah Elliott, Associate of General Studies; Morgan Andrews, Victoria Berry, Bridget Miller, Jadyn Sepulvado, Audrey Trujillo, Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Sarah Baker, Post Baccalaureate Certificate;

Blanchard – Alyssa Ainsworth, Associate of General Studies;

Bossier City – Fofana Atkins, Associate of General Studies; Kristin Erskine, Bachelor of Applied Science; Javin Hatter, Bachelor of Arts; Heather LaFlame, Mallory Welch, Bachelor of Science; Brittany Batchelor, Marga David, Yolanda Dawkins, Jada Grigsby, Tricia Hightower, Caragan Lee, David McInnis, Oria McMillian, Daniel Morris, Lindsay Nuckolls, Megan Rainwater, Taylor Stoker, Stephenie Taylor, Logan Tucker, Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Gabrielle Gatlin, Bachelor of Social Work; Janella Greene, Master of Arts;

Boyce – Kaitlyn Carlock, Associate of General Studies;

Cloutierville – Glenda Metoyer, Bachelor of Science in Nursing;

Converse – Mallory Mitchell, Bachelor of Science in Nursing;

Florien – Elizabeth Squillini, Bachelor of Science in Nursing;

Fort Polk – Zachary Layug, Rodrick McGrew, Associate of General Studies; Ana Murray, Kevin Zingwa Nkafu, Bachelor of Science; Amanda Dhondt, Bachelor of Science in Nursing;

Goldonna – Princesa Day, Associate of General Studies; Kevin Norman, Bachelor of Science;

Leesville – Kaylee Busby, Terrence Carter, Zoe Curtis, Hannah Hartley, Nautica Joyce, Gabriel Smith, Amy Sporer, Chloe Wilbanks, Presley Youngblood, Associate of General Studies; Kristy Willis, Associate of Science; Victoria Carbaugh, Paula Dease, Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Sharia Ashley, Walker Dillon, Master of Arts in Teaching;

Lena – Kamryn Glenn, Bachelor of Science in Nursing;

Mansfield — James Sowell, Brianna Sudds, Associate of General Studies; Emily Welborn, Bachelor of General Studies; Frita Bristo, Post Baccalaureate Certificate;

Many – Charles LaFollette, Master of Science;

Natchez – Christopher Cayer, Associate of General Studies, Bachelor of Arts;

Natchitoches – Michael Austin, Andrea Chen, Jennifer Johnson, Mary Long, David Peters, Margaret Wheat, Stephen Wheat, Associate of General Studies; Rachel Chimeno, Bachelor of Arts; Steven Wimberly, Bachelor of Music; Mike Alukunyang, Alexis Deville, Mckenna Reed, Bachelor of Science; Taneka Dunn, Karoline Guidry, Austin Nichols, Elizabeth Scott, Alexis Stewart, Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Candice Davis, Bachelor of Social Work; Casey Hendricks, Traci Norris, Doctor of Education; Tracy Maricle, Master of Arts; Christian Broussard, Taylor Pullig, Samuel Wright, Master of Arts in Teaching; Cassandra Kuizin, April Trowbridge, Christian VanBuren, Master of Science;

Pineville – Isabelle Aycock, Latasha Cain, Mari Beth Dewitt, Kaitlyn Edwards, Alaina Herron, Ironda Miles, Victoria Nunez Cardenas, Hannah Shaver, Erin Tracy, Associate of General Studies; Elizabeth Cammack, Lorali Hebert, Allaina Tellis, Bachelor of Science; Latasha Cain, Starlette Cram, LaShundra Duncan-Williamsk, Megan Gypin, Emily Litton, Brook Malone, Bachelor of Science in Nursing; April Negrete, Bachelor of Social Work;

Pleasant Hill – Jacory Jones, Associate of General Studies;

Ringgold – Tyreika Weathers, Bachelor of Science in Nursing;

Robeline – Alyssa Maley, Morgan Miller, Bachelor of Science in Nursing;

Saline – Kiley Hough, Julia McManus, Associate of General Studies;

Shreveport – Alexandra Bowden, LaTravia Brown, Monica Greene, Keydran Little, Kristen Massinburg, Justin Morgan, Noah Moser, Kendall Murray, Kendall Sneed, Sara Sutton, Morgan Washington, Associate of General Studies; Troy Davis, Associate of Science; Gregory Below, Angelica Yelverton, Bachelor of General Studies; William Farris, Gabrielle Foreman, Frank Powell, KeAndrea Samuel, Magen Tucker, Bachelor of Science; DayJah Alexander, Naomi Alexander, Micayla Bryan, Divina Ann Cinco, Chenara Dredden, Jennifer Elliott, Heather Ferguson, Jameala Ghazawneh, Karina Goodnight, Anna Green, Alexandra Hahn, Matthew Haltom, Ricci Haltom, Jennifer Harey, Caylin Head, Rhonda Hinton, Mikayla Johnson, Brett Kessel, Sarah Lake, Emily Lawrence, Erin Mabry, Hunter Martin, Myles Mitchell, Stephanie Montgomery, Sarah Payne, Valerie Perdue, Zachary Person, Kevin Poole, Shelby Rawls, Adrien Ridout, Tonya Salinas-Ceron, Drew Sears, Sha’Mondra Smith, Kendall Sneed, Danielyle Thomas, Tiffany Tidwell, Brandon Williams, India Wright, Bachelor of Science in Nursing;

Winnfield – Ashlyn Duck, Associate of General Studies; Caroline Womack, Bachelor of Science in Nursing;

Superintendent of Schools Al Simmons Speaks at Kiwanis Club Meeting

Al Simmons, Superintendent of Schools, spoke to the Kiwanis Club, Tuesday, December 14, 2021. Simmons said we have a very good educational system here. We have been known for excellence for many years. He attended school in Winnfield, graduated in 1986 and then graduated from LSU. He followed a tradition of a family involved in education with his grandparents and great-grandparents being involved in the educational system in Winn Parish. He taught and coached at Crowley High School for 3 years and returned to Winnfield in the mid 90’s to be close to family. He was Assistant Principal at the Kindergarten school, then was Assistant Principal and Principal at the Intermediate school. In 2007 he became the Personnel and Transportation officer at the Central Office.

He opened the floor for questions. A question about enrollment told us that there was a 7% drop in enrollment 2 years ago. The average drop is ¾ to 1 point. There are just under 2000 students in the parish schools. We have about 30 – 40 home school students. They are not part of the parish school system and if they are not enrolled in a home school program they will not receive a high school diploma but will have to test for GED.

He said there is a push from state and national agencies to produce a product in the school system. This product is people ready to go to college. In a little history on education, Simmons said that public education began to teach people to read so they could read their Bible and live good lives. Educated people are required for a self-sustaining government. In Louisiana early education was Catholic. The schools were associated with Catholic churches.

Children who are learning remotely to do learn as well as those who are under a classroom teacher. Because of remote learning many children are behind in their learning.

In a joint project of the La. Dept of Health and LSU Health Sciences 40 – 50 students are checked each week for Covid. This program is all over the state and is a volunteer program. Parents sign to have their children checked and the same children are checked every week.

The question was asked about year round school. This is called the balanced calendar with quarterly breaks. This is not something that will happen here any time soon.

The school board has the responsibility for the number of schools. The general fund budget is the struggle because 75% is salaries and related benefits. The budget has been balance for the past several years and will be balanced this year.  The more schools you have the more teachers are required.

It is difficult to get teachers in our area. It is even difficult to get student teachers. La. Tech is the #1 teacher education program in North Louisiana and they pass many schools before they get to Winn parish. Northwestern is graduating less education students now than in the past.

Cross-contaminated Christmas

This week we celebrated a monumental family milestone. My oldest daughter graduated with her Bachelors of Science in Hospitality Management and Tourism with a 3.5 GPA.

Northwestern State University was a true blessing to her and our family. They offered so many opportunities that possibly would not have been afforded anywhere else. She was honored to volunteer with the American Country Music Awards in Las Vegas. She traveled abroad to Toulon, France where she was able to complete research for NSU and attended a world renowned hospitality institute and participated in a culinary class.

Lucky for mom, she would always share the tidbits of information that were collected along the way from her experiences and from her Professor, Connie Jones.

This is where I learned that my centerpieces were entirely too high for the Christmas table. They did not offer a warm conversational area that was inviting to my guests because they were taller than ten inches. All this time, I have been doing it wrong.

She also taught me that I should be using a spoon for each pot that I stir while cooking. This could cause cross-contamination and someone could die a slow and painful death due to the act of mixing foods at different stages of being cooked thoroughly.

I was also made aware that I was not cooking with fresh ingredients. I should be making my bread from scratch. My pasta should be hand-made for maximum taste, freshness and nutrition. How dare I make biscuits from a can? I must not love my family very much if I do not churn my own butter.

While my cooking and hostessing skills have taken a beating for the last few years I am forever grateful for the skills learned from my daughter. My Christmas hosting may need to be polished and shined. My Christmas may, on occasion, be cross-contaminated but my understanding of the true meaning of Christmas has never wavered.

My Christmases may not be perfect. But….

Our Christmases today, compared to the very first Christmas over 2,000 years ago, are very different. In the eyes the world, Jesus was born in a lowly manger under the light of a star because there were no rooms available in a hotel. He was surrounded by animals, his family and a few angels. He was born of virgin mother who was unwed. By all accounts, the King of kings was born into simplicity and humbleness.

It was the most perfect Christmas.

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”
Luke 2:6-7

The Two Sides of Tournament Fishing

The sport of tournament fishing offers many options of trails that an angler may participate in. But to fish more than one tournament trail is very draining, both mentally and physically. Most people think that bass fishing is a very relaxing sport. This might be true for the weekend warrior or all the crappie fishermen, but not for anglers that compete on a high level. There are times that tournaments seem to take all the fun out of fishing, as it turns into work. To be successful on any tournament trail, local or regional, you must be committed to time on the water. It’s just like any other sport…those that put in the extra time, are the ones that will be the most successful.

Tournament fishing takes a big toll on the body, especially after the age of 60. Based on my experience, it takes a little longer to recover from 5 or 6 straight days on the water. Even in good weather conditions with little to no wind, boat rides take their toll on the body. Some lakes are worse than others and present a big challenge even for the youngest of anglers. Lakes like Toledo Bend, Sam Rayburn or Texoma (north of Dallas) take boating to a whole other level. Each lake is laid out differently, but for Toledo Bend a wind straight out of the south or north means 3- and 4-foot waves. At Toledo Bend we call this “right down the pipe,” a direction you don’t want to see, especially on tournament day. For Sam Rayburn, high winds out the southeast or northwest mean a rough ride and can be very hard on a boat. I’ve seen waves so bad that anglers have had their trolling motors or electronic units knocked completely off the bow. I’ve seen anglers break bones and dislocate joints, not to mention the number of back injuries I’ve seen. Shoulder and knee surgeries, inflamed elbows and wrist issues are just a few of injuries that are common among anglers.

Now let’s talk about the mental side of tournament fishing, which can be even tougher than the physical side. A lot of preparation goes into getting ready for an event. The internet has really created a great shortcut for information that’s important for each body of water. You can find previous tournament results, old and new fishing reports, and maps, not to mention the amount of info you can gain from YouTube videos. No one likes to brag more about their catch than bass fishermen and that’s where Google Earth, Facebook and YouTube videos will take your research to another level. Once on the water, you must apply what you’ve learned, but you can’t totally rely on this information to put you on the winning stringer. You must take this info and apply it to what you learn each day during your practice time. Very seldom can an angler repeat what another angler did to win an event. That’s why the sport is so mentally draining; you can’t always do what someone else has done. What the fish bite today, will not necessarily be what they’re biting tomorrow. Every day is a new day when it comes to bass fishing, but that’s what makes tournament fishing such a great sport. Most of the time, it’s unpredictable!

As you can see, tournament fishing is tough, but it can also be very rewarding, financially and emotionally. Nothing like the feeling of beating some of the best anglers in your region! Tournament fishermen are like a small cult or a band of gypsies…a group of anglers that have great respect for each other but can’t wait to kick the other’s butt at the next event. It’s a brotherhood of anglers who are stubborn, quirky, and intelligent, but most of all….competitive. To all my angling buddies, I look forward to the 2022 bass fishing season. Happy holidays everyone!

Steve Graf  


During the summer, Dr. Calvin Phelps fell at his home and broke several ribs. He thought he was okay, but a few weeks later, he began to feel as if he might faint. He went to NRMC’s emergency room, and the ER physician listened to his lungs and did a chest X-ray. Dr. Phelps had a buildup of blood around his lungs related to the fall and his treatment with blood thinners.

The ER physician on duty called Dr. Warren Botnick with NRMC Pulmonology Associates to the ER to see Dr. Phelps. After examining Dr. Phelps, Dr. Botnick, a board-certified pulmonologist, tried to find his patient a bed at a hospital with a thoracic surgeon, but none of the hospitals he contacted had any availability due to the surge in COVID cases. So, Dr. Botnick consulted with a colleague in Shreveport, a thoracic surgeon, about Dr. Phelps’ needs. In agreement for the next steps, Dr. Botnick made arrangements for his new patient to remain at NRMC. He began treating him, removing over 2.5 gallons of blood from around his lungs over the course of several days while also giving him blood transfusions and medicines to prevent infections.

“When I went to the ER at NRMC, I knew right away that I was in good hands,” Dr. Phelps said. “I could not have asked for better care or treatment. They were wonderful, and I will never go to another ER or hospital again. When Dr. Botnick came into the ER and took over my case, he explained everything to me. The hospital was full, and so they kept me in the ER most of that first day, and then I had the treatments done in Same Day Surgery. Everyone was so nice and did such a good job. I am so very grateful to each of them.”

Dr. Phelps explained that Dr. Botnick has become not just his doctor but a friend. “Now, I look forward to going to his office for checkups. It is just a happy time when I see him. He correctly and appropriately assessed what had happened and made sure I came out of it. Even though the hospital was full with all the COVID, and he was the pulmonologist helping so many people, he treated me like I was the only one there. I don’t want to think about what could have been the outcome had I gone somewhere else. I will always go to NRMC from here on.”

Obituary for Marion LaFay Polk

Services for Marion LaFay Polk will be held 12:00 PM on Saturday, December 18, 2021, in the chapel of John Kramer & Son Funeral Home with Rev. Ricky Vines officiating. Interment will follow in Alexandria Memorial Gardens.

Visitation will be held from 4:00 PM until 7:00 PM on Friday, December 17, 2021, and resume from 10:00 AM until the time of service on Saturday, December 18, 2021.

Past National Commander Marion Polk passed away on December 6, 2021, in Alexandria, LA after a brief illness.

Marion was born in Winnsboro, graduated from Pearl River Central High School in 1967, and entered the U.S. Coast Guard.

Marion retired from the U.S. Coast Guard as a Chief Petty Officer in 1989 after 20 years of service. His service in the Coast Guard included the command of his own unit as well as service as executive officer in four different Coast Guard units. After his military career, he worked as a support enforcement officer for the state of Louisiana until he retired.

Marion became a dedicated veterans advocate and begin working closely with AMVETS Post 7-LA. He was elected AMVETS National Commander at the 73rd national convention in Norfolk, VA in August 2017. He served as commander of the 250,000-member organization for one year. PNC Polk served in command position at every AMVETS echelon.

Marion served three terms as Commander of the AMVETS National District III, an area that included Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. He was recognized as both AMVETS Recruiter of the Year and AMVETS Commander of the Year.

As AMVETS National Commander, he led the entire organization through the high profile #PleaseStand campaign raising awareness of the importance of patriotism. He testified March 6, 2018, before the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees.

PNC Polk was a frequent presence at Post 7-LA, his home post. His leadership and love for his post was well-known among its members.

Marion enjoyed working with his hands and woodworking, he was a great cook in both competition and enjoyed cooking for his friends and family. He loved NASCAR and one of his biggest thrills was being able to attend races and his friendship with NASCAR driver Clay Greenfield. Marion loved his country and helping his fellow servicemen and women. He was married to Beverly, his best friend for over 20 years. He loved spending time with his grandchildren and spoiling them. Marion was a selfless person, always willing to put others before himself.

Marion is preceded in death by his parents, Charles Benjamin Polk and Helen June Hill Polk, and twin brother, Charles Ray Polk, Sr.

Those left to cherish his memory include his wife, Beverly Leavines Polk; brother, Thomas V. “Tommy” Polk (Luci); sisters, Judy Lynn Polk Fullerton (Greg), Linda Arlene Polk Vines (Ricky), and Patricia Ann Polk Murphy (John); his children, Toby Polk, Ronnie Polk, Sabrina Whaley, Mary Rogge (Matt), Melissa Isaac (Chris); grandchildren, Tristan Whaley, Brandy, Eric Townsend, Christopher Lloyd Jr., Layla Dupuy, Kait Burns (Zachary), Jeremy “JJ” Dupuy Jr., Alexis Clark, and Maddison Rogge; great-grandchildren, Hadley Burns, Benjamin Burns, and Riley Burns; along with numerous nephews, nieces, countless cousins, and many other family members, including his AMVETS family of Post 7-LA.

Pallbearers honored to serve will be Christopher Lloyd Jr., Jeremy “JJ” Dupuy Jr., Jeremy Vines, Jeremy Kelly, Kenny Baxley, and Kelly McFarlain.

In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made to AMVETS Post 7-LA, 3409 England Dr, Alexandria, LA 71303.