Mine Layoffs Update

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The Journal reported on Friday November 30th that Swepco’s Dolet Hills Oxbow mine would reduce operations and lay off almost half of its workers next year. This is coupled with the Cleco Dolet Hills Power Station transitioning from full time power generation to seasonal operations. In a joint statement from Swepco and Cleco issued to The Journal, the companies claim this move is a good thing for consumers.

Here is the text of that statement:

“Per our conversation, below is the joint Cleco-SWEPCO message:

Changing operations at the Dolet Hills Power Station and the Oxbow lignite mine that supplies its fuel will save Cleco and SWEPCO customers an estimated $85 million by the end of 2020.

The low market price of power, coupled with the cost of lignite mined at Oxbow is contributing to the plant being less competitive.

As a result, Dolet Hills Power Station will begin to generate electricity only during the warmest summer months, generally from June through September, or when requested by regional transmission organizations.

Employees of Dolet Hills Lignite Company, a subsidiary of SWEPCO, who are working at the Oxbow mine will continue to mine lignite year-round but with just one drag line, beginning in 2019, down from three last year. As such, these changes will reduce the SWEPCO workforce at the Oxbow mine to approximately 140 from 274 by the end of 2019. Approximately 55 contractor positions also will be eliminated in 2019.

Dolet Hills Power Station employs approximately 100 Cleco workers, and will see no reduction in the current workforce as a result of these changes.

Cleco operates the Dolet Hills Power Station, which is co-owned by SWEPCO and Cleco.

The Dolet Hills Lignite Co., operates the Oxbow mine and is a subsidiary of SWEPCO.

SWEPCO and Cleco jointly own the Oxbow mine.

Jennifer Cahill

Manager, Corporate Communications”

The Journal asked Cahill what work the employees of the Dolet Hills Power Station would be doing when the plant is not generating electricity? We asked would the plant be doing

anything else, or taking on a new role? And we asked about converting the power station to natural gas to make it able to generate power at a competitive price? Cahill said she would research these questions.

The Journal earlier asked Swepco spokesperson Peter Main if the Oxbow Mine was looking for other customers for the lignite it mines. We asked about selling lignite to the ADA plant located in the area. And The Journal asked what factors caused the price of lignite to increase. Main said he had no information on these issues.


Get on the Bus

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Red River Parish Schools got on the bus for the Coushatta Christmas Parade and drove home the big winner. The judges selected the holiday decorated school bus as the top entry in the parade.

School Board President Richard Cannon and Superintendent Alison Hughes road on the bus’ hood while Santa and several elves rode on top. And there was Rudolph and other reindeer too. Members of the central office threw candy and trinkets out the windows.

Second place entry came from Red River Pre-K. Their entry was a Hawaiian Christmas. Several teachers donned grass skirts and the performed a Hula Dance on the float.

Third place honors went to the first and second grades at Red River Elementary. They embraced this year’s parade theme, “Christmas around the World.” Their float featured Christmas customs from many countries.

The 2018 parade featured marching groups, bands, the color guard and drill team from the high school JROTC program. There were floats entered by local businesses. And Red Giddens was there driving his customized old pickup.

There will be more on the parade in next Wednesday’s issue. And a picture gallery of floats and marching groups.


New Graduates Join Sheriff’s Office

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Red River Parish Sheriff Glen Edwards is pleased to announce the addition of four deputies to his patrol staff. On December 3, 2018 John Griffith, Trevyn Ogden, Melvin Reliford Jr., and Ethan Sarpy successfully completed the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office Regional Training Academy, each earning Level 1 Certification for Basic Law Enforcement Peace Officers. The graduating class was comprised of twenty-seven cadets representing nine area agencies.

Throughout the training, all four deputies represented our agency and community with determination, pride, and professionalism. During each academy graduation ceremony, five awards are presented to cadets who excelled in specific areas of training. The Red River Parish Sheriff’s Office was the only agency to receive two awards. Deputy John Griffith received the Academic Achievement Award for highest grade point average while Deputy Ethan Sarpy was awarded the Firearms or “Top Gun” Award for his excellent marksmanship.

Under the direction of Captain Steven Joe, the academy consisted of sixteen weeks of intense training. Topics covered included Criminal and Civil Law, Search and Seizure, Criminal Investigations, Firearms Proficiency, Ground Fighting, High-Intensity Weapons Training, First Aid and CPR, Domestic Violence, Report Writing, Terrorism, Officer Survival, DWI Enforcement, Special Weaponry, Knife Defense Strategies, Drug Interdiction Strategies, School Violence Response Techniques, and Physical Fitness which culminated with a grueling fourteen mile run.

In our world, training is of the utmost importance for law enforcement officers. Our goal is to continually build upon the foundation that all of our deputies have received in the training academy to ensure that we do our jobs professionally and safely while striving to serve our community.
Congratulations to our new deputies and welcome to the team!


Christmas Turkey On Us

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The Red River Parish Journal is giving our readers an opportunity to win their Christmas Dinner. We are supplying the ingredients for your turkey, dressing, side dishes and cranberry sauce. The winner will be selected on Thursday, December 20th and announced in The Journal’s issue of Friday, December 21st.

Full details, contest rules, and entry method is posted on our social media pages. We will also share updates as the entry deadline approaches.

Christmas is only a couple of weeks away, so enter today.

You could be our lucky winner. Turkey and all the fixings is the prize in The Journal’s first Christmas Dinner Giveaway. Good luck!


Coushatta Gets Grant for Water System Rework

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The USDA has approved $4,174,000.00 in a grant to the Town of Coushatta for water system improvements. Congressman Mike Johnson announced the grant was in a package of $18+ million dollars for northwest Louisiana. The USDA said the money would be to help rebuild and improve rural waster infrastructure.

Congressman Johnson said, “Rebuilding, maintaining and improving water infrastructure across Louisiana’s Fourth District is critical for our communities and our local economies. This investment will help mitigate years of neglect in infrastructure updates and ensure Louisianians have access to clean water and reliable systems for many years to come.”

Louisiana Senator John Kennedy also commented on the grant to the Town of Coushatta. Kennedy said, ““These grants and loans are investments into communities across Louisiana.” He added, “Mostly aimed at water programs, these investments help revitalize and protect our small towns that contribute to our economy and the character of the state.”

On September 14th the Journal reported, “The Town Council approved a resolution at the meeting Tuesday night (September 11th) concerning a loan for water system improvements. It is a project that has taken many years so far and work has not yet begun. Mayor Johnny Cox thanked the council for sticking with it all these years.

“Cox said, “We have tried for almost 10 years. We have been funded $7,000,000 to redo the water system for the entire town of Coushatta.” He added, “We have had to submit and resubmit paperwork. We stuck with it and we got the funds.”

Money for the water system refurbish will come from the US Department of Agriculture. Work is expected to start within the next nine months. “It is a huge undertaking, awesome infrastructure repair,” said Cox.”

At the time the Town Council was told by the Mayor that the city would have to sell bonds to get the funds to make the repairs. The Mayor said the money from the bonds would be spent first, then the money from the grant could be spent. The Town Council passed a resolution to begin the process of selling the bonds.


Coushatta-native Natalie Anderson selected for Carnegie-Knight News21 Fellowship

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LSU Manship School of Mass Communication senior Natalie Anderson is one of 35 students chosen from 18 universities around the world to participate in the prestigious Carnegie-Knight News21multimedia reporting initiative, which will investigate federal disaster relief. The Coushatta, La., native will travel to Tempe, Ariz., this summer to research and report for the program. This is the third consecutive year that a Manship School student has been selected for the elite News21 Fellowship.

The 10-week News21 program was established by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to demonstrate that college journalism students can produce innovative, in-depth multimedia projects on a national scale.

Anderson currently serves as editor-in-chief at The Daily Reveille, LSU’s student newspaper, and worked in several reporting and management roles at The Daily Reveille before transitioning to the role of editor. She has covered in-depth political stories as part of the Manship School’s Statehouse Bureau, and has reported for both The Advocate and The Natchitoches Times. Anderson also interned for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, Calif., in the summer of 2018.

“Natalie has taken advantage of every opportunity that the Manship School offers to build her skills,” Manship School professional-in-residence Christopher Drew said. He directs the school’s experiential journalism program. “Besides working her way up to run The Daily Reveille, she has covered the Capitol for the school’s Statehouse Bureau and had great internships at newspapers. We’re not surprised that the News21 program snapped her up.”

All News21 students are participating in a spring semester seminar in which they are conducting research, interviewing experts and beginning their reporting. This year students will research and report on how the federal government has handled natural disasters, ranging from hurricanes to wildfires, over the past several decades.

The participating universities are Appalachian State University, DePauw University, Dublin City (Ireland) University, Elon University, George Washington University, Kent State University, LSU, St. Bonaventure University, Syracuse University, University of British Columbia, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Iowa, University of Minnesota,

University of North Texas, University of Oklahoma, University of Puerto Rico, University of Tennessee at Knoxville and the University of Texas at Austin.

Over the past nine years, Carnegie-Knight News21 projects have included investigations into U.S.-based hate crimes, voting rights, post-9/11 veterans, marijuana laws and guns in America, among other topics. The projects have won numerous awards, including four EPPY Awards from Editor & Publisher magazine, the Student Edward R. Murrow Award for video excellence, and a host of honors from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Hearst Awards Program, considered the Pulitzer Prizes of collegiate journalism.

The Carnegie-Knight News 21 program is headquartered at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication ranks among the strongest collegiate communication programs in the country, with its robust emphasis on media and public affairs. It offers undergraduate degrees in public relations, journalism, political communication, digital advertising and pre-law, along with four graduate degree programs: master of mass communication, Ph.D. in media and public affairs, certificate of strategic communication, and dual MMC/law degree. Its public relations students were recently ranked the #1 team in the nation, and its digital advertising and student media teams frequently earn national recognition.


ETC… for Friday December 8th

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The Journal thanks everyone for going to our website and social media pages and viewing the annual Coushatta Christmas Parade and Firework Show live last evening.

Saturday night is the monthly Senior Dance at the Council on Aging on Front Street. Admission is $6.00. The Playmates will play beginning at 7:00 pm.

The Rebels and Lady Rebels basketball teams will play tonight in Bossier City vs. Providence Classical Academy. Steven Bryant will provide the play-by-play of the games on The Journal’s website and social media pages beginning about 6:00 pm.

Red River’s Lady Bulldogs are in the Benton Tournament and the Bulldogs are in the Doyline Tournament. Check social media for dates and times of the broadcast of the games.


Most Valuable Players Recognized at Elementary School

RRPJ-Elem MVP Young TOP-18Dec5By Red River Elementary School Principal, Shenell Deville:

For the 2018-2019 school year, Red River Elementary School (RRES) has adopted the theme “Game On Team.” Every month, we are recognizing staff members as our “Most Valuable Players” MVP. These faculty members are recognized for their attendance, positive spirit, team effort, and their motivation to do above and beyond.

For the month of November our MVP Staff are Enisha Young- PreK, Milton Monroe- 4th Grade, Rachel Covington- 2nd Grade, and Tracy Jones- Cusotdian.

RRES Staff Recognition Committee awarded the staff with a treat bag with their favorite snacks, a duty free lunch, a certificate, and picture on the MVP spotlight bulletin board. In addition, our our wonderful PAW Parents presented them with a basket of cookies from Red River Industries.