BOM Welcomes Grady Martin

BOM would like to welcome Grady Martin as the Branch Manager and Lender at our Montgomery location. Grady has 29 years of banking experience with 21 of those years as a manager. He and his wife, Jean, have been married for 29 years. They have three children: Melaina, Michael, and Marshal. Grady graduated from Ashland High School in 1981, and he received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Northwestern State University in 1985. He attends Westside Baptist Church where he serves as a deacon and a member of the choir. Outside of work, Grady enjoys spending time with family, traveling and watching sports. Grady is currently attending the Louisiana Bankers Association Leadership School. Welcome, Grady!


Will Schools Get Letter Grades This Year?

Action at the state level would block the grading of schools in the state with a letter, A to F.  This policy of issuing letter grades has been in place for a number of years, yet the BESE Board hopes to withhold the grades from the public for the 2020-21 school year.

That decision did not sit well with Red River High Principal JC Dickey.  He said, “While I do understand this position, I really hope my school, Red River High gets released.”  Dickey added, “We worked really hard, and I want everyone to know what we accomplished.  At least give us a choice to show the community what we were able to do.”

KTBS TV reported that Louisiana’s top school board Monday voted to ask federal officials for permission to shelve the issuance of public school letter grades because of classroom upheaval sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education agreed to the request without dissent.

The U. S. Department of Education is expected to approve the proposal and has already signed off on waiver requests from 45 or so other states, officials said.

The grades and school performance scores are traditionally announced in November and spell out how schools fared in the previous school year.

State officials announced earlier this month that math, English, science and social studies tests students took in the spring — called LEAP 2025 — plummeted in virtually every school district in the state.


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Well, sort of

The Goldonna Christmas in the Park Committee is in the beginning stages of soliciting sponsors and door prizes for the 2021 Christmas Festival. The committee also has room for more volunteers. If you want to get involved and help spread Christmas cheer please reach out to the Mayor, Jennifer Smith.

One of the most popular festival fundraisers is the Annual Fish Fry which will be held October 3rd at Town Hall. Rumor has it that School Board Member, Eugene Garner, and friends will be fishing for the good of community again this year. You do not want to miss out on this delectable dinner of fish, slaw, fries, hushpuppies, dessert and drink, all for the low price of $9 per plate.

The Goldonna Town Hall will hold a public hearing dedicated to the review of the seven ordinances that were announced last week. The meeting will be Thursday September 9th at 6:00pm. The guest speaker, Dan Dansby, will be present at the September 13th meeting to discuss assistance for water bills that may be related to leaks.

COVI-19 vaccines will be given away at the Winfield campus of CLTCC on Thursday August 19 beginning at 12:00pm and ending at 4:00pm. The second dose will be given on Thursday September 9th at the same times. The sponsor for this event is Albertson’s and appointments can be made at www.mhealthsystem.com/CLTCC

Be on the lookout for more information regarding a medical training for the community called, “Stop the Bleed”. A free training will be offered outlining the three quick actions that could save lives.

If you have news to include please email Reba Phelps at jreba.phelps@gmail.com


Demons enjoy solid first day of camp

The heat was back, and so were the Demons.

Northwestern State started its truncated fall 2021 football camp Friday morning with a nearly two-hour workout inside a sun-splashed Turpin Stadium, mixing in newcomers and veterans for the first time.

“It was good to see,” fourth-year head coach Brad Laird said. “OTAs in July and 11-on-11 practice in fall camp is different. Our guys realize that. The bullets fly a little faster in camp. It was good to see them in that type of atmosphere. Not just the new guys, but some of the veterans – we wanted to see the leadership and the improvement they’ve made from last spring to this fall.”

Those veterans were joined by a handful of newcomers, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

While quarterback Mark Salazar (San Diego State) and wide receivers Jay Griffin IV (New Mexico) and Stanley King (Rutgers) went through their first workouts as Demons, the trio had been able to work together throughout July, leading to an easier transition on the field Friday morning.

“That summer period is crucial for building team chemistry,” Salazar said. “We were grinding together through workouts and bonding. I’m looking forward to the rest of call camp, being able to throw a football around. I’m excited to get to work with these guys.”

Griffin echoed Salazar’s thoughts.

“It was very important,” he said. “It allowed us to get to know each other and build chemistry with the quarterbacks. It helped us a lot on this first day of camp. We had run routes with them. The more reps we can get, the more we can be around each other is important.”

The value of the July workouts for the newcomers straddled each side of the line.

“I was able to learn how everything goes, learn how the coaches are,” said linebacker Kwame Sarkodie, a transfer from Navarro College. “I feel like we’re a family already.”

While Laird was excited to see his charges back on the field after a relatively short time away – the six-game spring season led to a much shorter-than-normal offseason – the first day of practice was a typical one.

To a man, the trio of Sarkodie, Salazar and Griffin said there were plenty of chances for the Demons to improve going forward during the eight-day fall camp, which concludes Aug. 14 with the first preseason scrimmage. Northwestern State students report to campus for fall classes beginning Aug. 16.

The attitude of improvement has funneled from the top of the coaching staff down to the players.

“One thing we talked about (Thursday) night was making every day count,” Laird said. “These days of fall camp, there’s a lot going on, and we only have eight practices before school starts. I thought coach (Rashad) Jackson in our special teams meeting had a great saying. He said, ‘Be 1-0 every play.’ We always talk about being 1-0 every week, but it made sense. We’re going to make mistakes. I’m going to make mistakes. Our players will make mistakes, but we’ll do it full speed, learn from our mistakes and get better.”

The Demons continue fall camp Saturday morning with a 9:15 workout at Turpin Stadium as they continue to prepare for the Sept. 4 season opener at North Texas.

Photo Credit: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services


Graduating ROTC cadet makes history as NSU’s first female to commission as Armor branch officer

Northwestern State University ROTC Cadet Meya Morse was commissioned Friday, Aug. 5 as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army and is NSU’s first female cadet to be selected to serve on active duty in the Army’s Armor branch. Morse is a native of Morgan City and completed a bachelor’s degree at the close of NSU’s summer session in computer information systems with a concentration in web development and a minor in military science.

“Finding out that I would branch as an Armor officer was a surprise yet satisfaction to my eyes,” Morse said. “Not only will I be active duty in the armed forces, but I will be a part of a combat arms — the battlefield — branch. My role as an Armor officer is to lead in different operations and lead in combat operations pertaining to tanks and cavalry reconnaissance.”

“Meya has made history here in the Demon Battalion by being our first female cadet to commission as an Armor officer. Let that sink in a minute, our first female cadet in history to commission as an Armor officer,” said LTC Joshua R. Blake, professor of military science. “We are fortunate to witness this historic event as she is the first in what will be a long line of courageous women who take advantage of the new opportunities to serve.”

Infantry and Armor branches of the military were closed to women until 2016 when all military occupations and positions were opened to women who qualify and meet specific standards.

“As an Infantry officer, I can tell you firsthand that the Armor and Infantry branches are at the tip of the spear,” Drake said. “These branches are the hammer that close with and destroy our nation’s adversaries with decisive action and firepower. If you haven’t seen an M1 Abrams shoot its 120mm main gun, it’s an amazing demonstration of the Army’s strength.”

Morse is also the first female from her hometown to commission into a combat branch. Although unsure where she will be stationed, she will first head to Fort Benning, Georgia, for Basic Officer Leaders Course.

Morse graduated from Morgan City High School in 2016. While in high school, she was involved in many organizations, including National Beta Club and JROTC where she was the Battalion Commander of Morgan City High School.

“Before Battalion Commander, I went to JROTC Cadet Leadership Training Course, which is a week of leadership training. There, I was the top cadet in the entire camp out of over 600 cadets. Being Battalion Commander I did over 30 service events, and I led over 40 cadets in the Battalion,” Morse said.

In high school, Morse was also in the gifted program for acting, singing and drawing and was part of Morgan City’s women’s basketball and track teams. As a basketball player, she was named All-State for four years and was team captain. In track, she went to Regionals in 2015 for the 300 hurdles. She was also MC for school pep rallies and Homecoming Queen in 2015.

Arriving at NSU in 2016, Morse was president of Juice Athletics, part of Lifted Voices choir and dance and joined African America Caucus participating in Wild n Out for three years. She also did community service and intramural sports and was named All Star and MVP for flag football and basketball. Her name is on several flags hanging in the WRAC representing five championships in intramural sports. She is an Honor Roll student.

“I joined the Northwestern State Demon Battalion in 2019 because I wanted to further my military outlook. From there, I held various positions such as S-1, president of the Black Knights, president of the Cadet Funds and executive officer. I volunteered at the nursing home, animal shelter, summer program for kids back in Morgan City and service events. I also attended Operation Agile Leader to commission as an officer in the Army,” she said.

Morse currently serves in the Army Reserves and has been serving in the military for four years as a specialist. Her MOS was an 88M (Transportation Specialist) for the 441st Transportation Company in New Orleans.

Pictured: Meya Morse of Morgan City, right, made history at Northwestern State University as being the first female ROTC cadet to commission in the Armor branch of the U.S. Army, an opportunity that was closed to women until 2016. Morse earned a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems with a concentration in web development and a minor in military science. LTC Joshua Drake, left, administered the oath of office as Morse was commissioned as a second lieutenant during an Aug. 6 ceremony.


Podcast: Marcus Jones joins Billy West LIVE

PART ONE
Marcus Jones joins Billy West Live and discusses his Interim Appointment as President of Northwestern State University.

The interview includes Marcus’ educational background and experiences teaching and in administration of higher education.

Marcus answers questions about his vision for the immediate future of NSU and increasing on-campus enrollment for Students in Natchitoches.

PART TWO

Marcus Jones answers questions related to his commitment to higher education in general and specifically related to keeping NSU competitive in Division 1 Athletics, especially football.

Marcus also discusses the position of permanent President of NSU and whether or not he will be a candidate for that position. Marcus also discusses his views on whether a terminal degree is necessary or required to be the permanent President of NSU.


Election Postponed

Local elections scheduled for April and May have been delayed due to the Coronavirus spread.  Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin just moments ago revealed the plans at a news conference in Baton Rouge. 

This announcement delays the April 4th election until Saturday, June 20th and the May 9th runoff election to Saturday, July 25th.  

The delay of the local elections means that Early Voting will not begin on Saturday, March 21st as originally scheduled.

More details on the election delay will be forthcoming from state and local election officials.