Lois Ryals Merrill

Graveside services for Lois Ryals Merrill, 95, of Coushatta, LA were held at 2 P.M. Thursday, April 2, 2020 at Old Chapel Cemetery with Bro. Rick McDonald officiating.  A memorial service will be held at a later date. 

Mrs. Merrill was born October 22, 1924 in Choudrant, LA and passed away March 30, 2020.  She loved her family, church, flowers and clothes.  She will be dearly missed by all those who knew and loved her.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Jodie Bell Merrill; son, Arvin Jodie Merrill; grandson, Keith Howard Sisson; and parents, Otis and Luddie Ryals.

Mrs. Merrill is survived by two sons, Larry Merrill and wife, Mary of Coushatta, LA and Billy Wayne Merrill and wife, Linda of Conroe, TX; two daughters, Dorothy Gorman and husband, Dale of Murphy, NC and Jeanette Sisson and husband, David of Vicksburg, MS; daughter-in-law, Nelva Ann Merrill of Marshall, TX; ten grandchildren; numerous great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

Honorary pallbearers were Brett Gorman, Rance Gorman, Kirk Merrill, Allen Merrill, and Andy Merrill.

Curfew Imposed on Coushatta

The Town of Coushatta is under a night-time curfew beginning tonight.  The town is ordering everyone off the streets and in their homes from 8:00 pm until 6:00 am.

Mayor Johnny Cox said, “This is to comply with the Governor’s mandate to stay home.  We want everyone in their homes at night.”

Notice of the curfew was sent to area media, however it was not posted on the door of the Town Hall or Police Department.  Both Town Hall and the Police Department have been closed to visitors since the middle of March with business done by appointment or online.

City Police will enforce the curfew beginning Friday night.  But Mayor Cox said, It is effective immediately.

Are You Staying Home?

An Editorial by John Brewer

Governor John Bel Edwards and numerous local officials across the state are urging residents to stay off the streets and avoid gatherings.  Only necessary travel is exempt from the Governor’s Executive Order to stay home.  Eliminating contact between individuals will stop the spread of COVID-19.

On Tuesday, Edwards said, “I am extending the order to at least April 30th.  The proclamation on that will be due by the end of the week.”  Edwards said he acted “because there is no evidence that we are flattening the curve.”  Flattening the curve is government-speak for slowing the rate of spread of the virus.

The Journal asks everyone are you complying?  Are you only traveling when it is necessary?  Governor Edwards said we aren’t taking this virus seriously.  Similar language came from President Donald Trump and a plethora of federal, and state officials.

Law enforcement departments in nearby Shreveport are telling the public that they are considering enforcing the executive order.  Should there be more strict policing of the Governor’s order right here in Red River Parish?

Many commercial activities are exempt.  Essential businesses can stay open.  And it seems the general public would rather interpret the meaning of what is essential rather liberally.

Are only the truly essential places in town remaining open?  And should some police agency have to enforce the Governor’s orders?

Look around our town.  There are many vehicles on the streets every day.  Perhaps not as many as two months ago, however it seems that there are still plenty of people moving and mixing and potentially exposing each other to the COVID-19.

I will be first to say some of my travels could be saved for later.  I travel to gather the news, but usually stay in my vehicle.  I go to the store, but did I really have to go for screws for a home project on Monday?  I am going to do a better job of policing my own activities.

Here are my suggestions, which I will try to adhere to:

Save up trips to the grocery store, gas station, post office, etc. and make fewer trips.  Make a list, get more items, but do it less often.  And if the parking lot is full, wait until another time.  I will patronize local stores and restaurants but go to the drive-thru or use take-out after calling ahead.  I will try to cut down on personal contact and maintain the six foot distance when I encounter someone.

Governor Edwards again today repeated his appeal to the public to obey the letter and spirit of the executive order.  Is that enough?  Or are we going to be forced to stay home and are businesses going to be forced to close?  I guess it is up to each of us, not just the other guy.

Readers may comment on this editorial at RedRiverParishJournal@gmail.com.  Your comments may be published in a subsequent issue.  Responsible responses will be accepted and considered if submitted along with your name and contact information.

Drive Thru Testing

Our area has two drive thru testing locations.  The Louisiana Department of Health website offers one in Shreveport.  We are located in district seven and the drive thru testing location and requirements are:

Patients are asked to please call: 318-935-9626 if experiencing fever AND any of the following symptoms: cough, sore throat, shortness of breath. A virtual visit with a provider will be completed, after which patients will be directed to drive through the facility parking lot to be swabbed. Please bring photo ID and insurance card.

Location is HealthCARE Express Urgent Care at 4526 Northport Blvd, Shreveport.  Hours are 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday thru Friday and 8:00 am to 4:00 pm Saturday and Sunday.

Local screening is available in Natchitoches.  This information is from the Natchitoches Parish Journal.

Fever, cough, shortness of breath? If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 also known as the Coronavirus, beginning March 31, drive through community testing and screenings will be available in Natchitoches. This community health service will be offered from 10 a.m. to 12 noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the parking lot of Central Louisiana Technical College (CLTCC) at 6587 Highway 1 in Natchitoches.

Professionals from Natchitoches Regional Medical Center will be conducting the screenings and testing. Community members who have been exposed to the virus or who believe they may have symptoms will be asked to remain in their cars as they receive screening. If after the screening, the professionals recommend testing, the NRMC Associates will do so at a testing station as part of the drive through process and test results will be available in approximately 4 days. All participants must bring a valid photo ID and their insurance card. All insurances including Medicaid, Medicare, and commercial insurance are accepted.

“Our goal is to make screening and testing safely and conveniently located in our parish,” explained Kirk Soileau. “As a community, we need to diagnose cases of this virus, so that people can get the care they need and also protect those who would otherwise be in close contact with them. In most cases, individuals can overcome this illness at home, but they need to self-isolate, so they do not expose others. For those with more serious cases, additional medical care may be necessary.”

Special thanks to City of Natchitoches Mayor Lee Posey, Parish President John Richmond, Senator Louie Bernard, Natchitoches Chief of Police Mickey Dove and Captain Brad Walker, Natchitoches Sheriff Victor Jones, Northwestern State University Police Chief Craig Vercher, Homeland Security Officer Mary Jones, Natchitoches Fire Department Chief John Wynn, Campus Dean of CLTCC Laurie Morrow, and many volunteers.

Bulldogs Selected to All-State Team

The Louisiana Sports Writers Association has selected the All-State basketball teams for the 2019-2020 season.  Five players from Red River High made the list for Class 2-A

The Lady Bulldogs had three players make the list.  Selected to the Girls 2-A first team was Ma’Kaila Lewis.  Named Honorable Mention were Morgyn Payne and Kaitlyn Antilley.  Lewis and Payne are graduating seniors.

Two Bulldogs made the list.  Jalen “J-Mac” McDonald made the Class 2-A second team.  Kenneth Bradley received Honorable Mention.

Three’s A Crowd

By Brad Dison

In 1958, Joseph Yule, Jr. married his fifth wife, Barbara Ann Thomason, in Mexico.  Unsure of the legality of their Mexican marriage, they renewed their vows in Los Angeles two years later.  By 1966, Joseph and Barbara had four children, but their marriage was falling apart.  Barbara began having an affair with a soon-to-be-divorced Yugoslavian actor, stunt double, and bodyguard named Milos Milosevic.  Joseph also worked in movies and was away from home for long periods of time.  When he returned home from the Philippines in December 1965, he was shocked to learn that Milos had been living in their home for a significant period of time.  Milos even went so far as to claim that Joseph’s and Barbara’s home was his legal residence on official documents.  On January 28, 1966, Joseph filed for divorce and petitioned the Superior Court of California for custody of their four minor children. 

Since his return to the United States, Joseph had been a patient at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, California, and was receiving treatment for a gastrointestinal tract infection.  Joseph really did not want to divorce Barbara and tried to convince her to give their marriage another chance.  On Sunday night, January 30, 1966, two days after Joseph filed for divorce, Barbara visited him in the hospital.  Joseph and Barbara discussed their marriage, and Joseph told friends that they were close to reconciliation.  Joseph was unaware that Barbara had hired a private detective to help her record their conversation.  Barbara succumbed to his persuasive reasoning and agreed to stop seeing Milos.

Barbara and the private detective returned home and were met by Milos, Wilma Catania, who was staying at Barbara’s house, another female friend, and her attorney.  Barbara explained to Milos that their friendship could not continue and played the tape recording of her conversation with Joseph.  Milos sat quietly as he listened to the recording.  Once the recording ended, Milos asked to speak with her privately.  At about 8:30 p.m., Barbara and Milos entered the master bedroom and locked the door.  Wilma decided to go to dinner an hour later.  She knocked on the bedroom door, got no answer, and left for dinner.  The other guests left as well.  Wilma returned at about 2:30 a.m. to find the home exactly as she had left it.  The lights were still on, the master bedroom door was still locked.  Not wanting to disturb what she suspected was a touchy conversation, Wilma turned the lights off in the rest of the house and went to bed.

Wilma awoke around noon and found that the master bedroom door was still locked.  The maid had not seen Barbara all morning.  They unlocked the master bedroom and found that the bed was still made.  Wilma then opened the bathroom door.  Barbara’s lifeless body lay face up on the bathroom floor.  She was still wearing the same tan capris and flowered blouse from the day before.  A single .38 caliber bullet had entered her jaw.  Milos’s lifeless body was sprawled over Barbara.  He was still wearing the same black pants and white shirt that he wore the day before.  A single .38 caliber bullet had entered his temple.  The pistol, which belonged to Joseph, lay on the floor next to the bodies.

Police theorized that Milos, distraught that their affair was ending, murdered Barbara then committed suicide shortly after they left their guests and entered the master bedroom.  None of Barbara’s guests heard the gunshots because the thick walls and doors muffled the sound. 

You may not recognize the names Milos Milosevic, Barbara Ann Thomason, and Joseph Yule, Jr.  The three of them adopted stage names?  Milos Milosevic went by a shortened version of his name, Milos Milos, and appeared in just two films.  Barbara Ann Thomason, better known as Carolyn Mitchell, was a beauty queen who was crowned “Miss Venus,” “Queen of the Championships of Southern California,” “Miss Muscle Beach,” “Miss Surf Festival,” and many, many more.  She became a model where she met Joseph.  She appeared in just three films.  Joseph’s movie career, however, spanned nine decades.  He appeared in just over 340 productions including notable movies such as “Babes in Arms” (1939), “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961), “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” (1963), and more recently in “Night at the Museum” (2006), and “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” (2014).  Joseph Yule, Jr. is better known by his stage name, Mickey Rooney.


Long Beach Independent, January 29, 1966, p. 6.
San Rafael Daily Independent Journal, February 1, 1966, P. 13.
Long Beach Independent, January 29, 1966, p. 6.
San Rafael Daily Independent Journal, February 1, 1966, P. 13.
San Bernardino County Sun, September 11, 1966. P. 3.
San Rafael Daily Independent Journal, December 24, 1966, P. 7.

There Is No One There

School is closed due to the COVID-19 virus.  We all drive by those buildings, now vacant, and wonder when the children will return.  Red River High Principal JC Dickey was in town one day last week.  Here are his observations.

I drove to school today and made sure everything was still ok.  As I sat in the parking lot when the 3rd bell was supposed to ring and the kids were supposed to go to lunch, I was sadden by the silence.  I sat there and pictured kids heading to the cafeteria, the courtyard, and lining up for the concession stand.  I pictured their faces and could see most of them sitting and standing in the same spots they normally do.  

I could imagine what their conversation where like and could see them laughing, cutting up (climbing on my tables), talking about class, what was happening after school, or the next athletic competition.  I could see you talking about your dual enrollment course, the next trail ride, work, or who was having the next party.  

Man I miss my Red River High students so much.  Bulldogs I want you to know I am praying for you daily, and I can’t wait to see you all again soon.  Stay safe and when this is all over we will be stronger for it.  Love you all Bulldogs.  #BulldogsForever

Bulldogs are better together:

Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part.
1 Corinthians 12:14

But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.
1 Corinthians 12:18

What To Do?

Students are out of school due to the Stay Home order of the Governor.  The school has sent home lessons for students, however many may find themselves with some extra time.

Red River 4-H asked their Junior Leaders, “What are some good activities for 4-Hers to do right now?”  This is what they had to say… go build a treehouse, walk, write, read, garden, and draw some stuff in record book.  4-H said, “If you’d like to add to it, go to this link:  https://www.menti.com/jdc9wrt8r8 and tell us what YOU think!”

Old Map Shows???

Every child loves digging through old stuff.  Looking through grandma’s attic is a national pastime.  You can find some interesting things hidden away and forgotten. 

Such is the case recently at Clara Springs Camp.  Someone found a map, an old map from the 1950’s.  The camp asked for help.  They posted, “Can you help us out?  Is it a treasure map, scavenger hunt, or locations of the best places to hide at Camp?  We need your help in discovering what this lost map from 1954 is trying to show us.

Responses on social media were varied.  One interesting one was that the numbers could mark trees that were to be removed, or conversely, trees that were to be retained.

So what do you remember?  Or what do you think?

Overwhelming Response From Volunteers

On March 12, Louisiana’s 211 network began answering calls about COVID-19.  As of March 30, Louisiana 211 has received approximately 30,000 calls for help and as many messages from individuals texting for information.  This surge in activity led to an increased need for volunteers to assist in answering these calls.  United Way of Northwest Louisiana requested volunteers from the community and received an overwhelming response from citizens volunteering to help answer calls to the Louisiana 211 Helpline. As a result of this response, additional volunteers are no longer needed to handle the increase in calls at this time.

“We appreciate the overwhelming interest of the community to volunteer at this time,” said Louise Droddy, Director of 211 for United Way of Northwest Louisiana. “United Way of Northwest Louisiana will continue to collect names in case more volunteers are needed in the future.”

While priority will be given to those who have already registered to volunteer with 211, individuals interested in volunteering should continue to visit www.unitedwaynwla.org/volunteer-form to learn more about other volunteer opportunities currently available. This will allow those interested in community services to be deployed as needs and other opportunities arise.

In addition to volunteering, there are other ways to support our community at this time. “When we feel the most helpless, we actually have the power to do the most good,” says Dr. Bruce Willson, President and CEO of United Way of Northwest Louisiana.  “We encourage people to give to the United for NWLA Fund.  Gifts to this fund support families struggling in Northwest Louisiana after they have exhausted resources they were connected to through 211.”

For more tips on additional ways the community can help, United Way also shared 5 Things You Can Do to Fight the COVID-19 Crisis.

Thank you to everyone helping our community during this difficult time through volunteering or contributing to the United for NWLA Fund. We are all in this together, and United Way is here to help!