Celebrate America’s Independence Next Week

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Most Americans, especially school children can tell you that America’s birthday is July 4th. And since 1776 we have celebrated the fourth. But is that really the right day?

The Continental Congress was meeting in Philadelphia in the summer of 1776. The thirteen colonies had sent delegates because of the unhappiness with British rule and heavy taxes placed on them by the king. But not everyone was unanimous. Many supported remaining a British colony.

War had broken out in April 1775 and there had been skirmishes with British troops known as Red Coats, for the color of their uniform. So why do we not celebrate our independence every April?

By June of 1776 the colonies met in the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia. It was Richard Henry Lee who made the motion for independence on June 7th, 1776. So why not celebrate June 7th?

After much debate the Continental Congress adopted a declaration claiming that the colonies should be free. That was on July 2nd, 1776. Delegate John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail that July 2 “will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival” and that the celebration should include “Pomp and Parade…Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other. “ Adams was so passionate about July 2nd that the rest of his life he refused to take part in July 4th events. So why not celebrate July 2nd?

It was Thomas Jefferson who is credited with drafting the Declaration of Independence. His document was adopted and signed by the delegates to the Continental Congress on July 4th, 1776. The New York delegation did not sign on that day, but later did sign. John Hancock signed first in great big bold letters. He is quoted as saying “There, I guess King George will be able to read that without his spectacles!” So why not celebrate July 4th?

It took the country until 1870 to make July 4th an official federal holiday. And it was not until 1941 that Congress granted a paid holiday on July 4th for all federal employees.

On July 4th, 2017 we will celebrate the 241st anniversary of the actual signing of the Declaration of Independence. Around here, John Adams’ idea of a celebration will be expanded to include grilling, boating, and other forms of relaxation. The Journal hopes you will celebrate, have fun, see some old friends, and most of all have a safe Fourth of July!

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Are You A Grill Master?

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Can you celebrate the Fourth of July without a cook-out? Most people would probably say “no!” So if there are going to be cook-outs, the LSU Ag Center offers some advice to help you become a “Grill Master.”

A true “Grill Master” always knows to clean, separate, cook and chill to ensure a pleasant cookout for all.

Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.

Always marinate foods in the refrigerator, not on the counter or outdoors. Don’t use sauce that was used to marinate raw meat or poultry on cooked food. Boil used marinade before applying to cooked food or reserve a portion of the unused marinade to use as a sauce.

When grilling foods, preheat the coals on your grill for 20 or 30 minutes, or until the coals are lightly coated with ash.

If you partially cook food in the microwave, oven or stove to reduce grilling time, do so immediately before the food goes on the hot grill.

When it’s time to grill the food, cook it to a safe internal temperature. Use a food thermometer to be sure. The food thermometer should be placed in the thickest part of the meat and should not be touching bone, fat, or gristle. Check the temperature in several places to make sure the food is evenly heated.

Beef, veal and lamb steaks and roasts: 145 °F for medium rare and 160 °F for medium.
Ground pork and ground beef: 160 °F.
Poultry: to at least 165 °F.
Fin fish: 145 °F or until the flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork.
Shrimp, lobster and crabs: The meat should be pearly and opaque.
Clams, oysters and mussels: Until the shells are open.

Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs. Be sure to have plenty of clean utensils and platters on hand.
Grilled food can be kept hot until serving by moving it to the side of the grill rack, just away from the coals to avoid overcooking.

Never let raw meat, poultry, eggs, cooked food or cut fresh fruits or vegetables sit at room temperature for more than two hours before putting them in the refrigerator or freezer (one hour when the temperature is above 90 °F).

If you have more questions or concerns about food safety, contact:
LSU AgCenter Area Nutrition Agent, Diane Uzzle, 318-263-7400 or email duzzle@agcenter.lsu.edu

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The 38th annual Natchitoches-Northwestern Folk Festival will be held July 14-15 in Prather Coliseum on the Northwestern State University campus


The 38th annual Natchitoches-Northwestern Folk Festival will be held July 14-15 in Prather Coliseum on the Northwestern State University campus. Festival hours are 4:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Friday and 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Saturday. Here is everything you want to know about the festival and its many events courtesy of NSU.

Tickets are $13 for an advance all-events pass through July 11. Advance tickets are free for children 12 and under. Tickets are available at the door for $6 for Friday night, $10 for all day Saturday or $6 for Saturday after 5 p.m.

“The 2017 Festival theme ‘Keeping Tradition Alive!’ celebrates the ways in which so many outstanding artists young and old are tapping into the power and artistry of the old ways, revitalizing and reimagining tradition as they make it their own,” said Dr. Shane Rasmussen, director of the Folk Festival and the Louisiana Folklife Festival at NSU. “As the artists taking part in the 2017 Festival demonstrate, Louisiana folk culture is vibrant and diverse.”

The Southeast Tourism Society has named the 38th annual Natchitoches-Northwestern State University Folk Festival one of the STS Top 20 Events in the Southeast for July 2017.

The folk music of many culture groups will be featured, with Cajun music by Ray Abshire and Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, French Creole la la music by Goldman Thibodeaux and the Lawtell Playboys, Zydeco by Gerard Delafose and the Zydeco Gators and Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience, traditional Delta tunes by the Back Porch Band, bluegrass by the Clancey Ferguson Band, Texas swing by the Caddo Creek Band, and blues by Hezekiah and the Houserockers, the Wayne “Blue” Burns Band and Ed Huey.

Saturday’s activities include three stages of live music, Cajun dance lessons, dancing, narrative sessions, KidFest, a Cajun accordion workshop, and traditional crafts. Outside demonstrations include blacksmithing, working cattle dogs and horseshoeing. Traditional crafts such as woodcarving, Czech Pysanky eggs, Spanish moss dolls, pine needle baskets and handmade furniture will be exhibited on Saturday only, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. in Prather Coliseum.

Narrative sessions will be held throughout the day in the N-Club Room in Prather Coliseum covering topics including St. Joseph altars, country music in the Delta, the cajun accordion, Choctaw-Apache foodways, Choctaw wedding traditions in the Delta, blues in the Delta, preserving Delta material culture and zydeco traditions.

The Annual Louisiana State Fiddle Championship will be on Saturday, July 15 starting at 1 p.m. in Magale Recital Hall on the NSU campus. Late registration will be at noon. Fiddlers from around the state will compete for cash prizes in the championship and non-championship divisions.

Support for the Festival is provided by grants from the Cane River National Heritage Area, Inc., the Louisiana Division of the Arts Decentralized Arts Fund Program, the Natchitoches Historic District Development Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lower Mississippi Delta Initiative of the National Park Service, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and Foundation, the Shreveport Regional Arts Council, the City of Natchitoches, the Natchitoches Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and Cleco.

For more information about the Festival or the Louisiana State Fiddle Championship, contact the Louisiana Folklife Center at folklife@nsula.edu or (318) 357-4332. For more information about Natchitoches, contact the Natchitoches Convention & Visitors Bureau at (800) 259-1714.

TAG Salutes Red River’s Outstanding Students


Red River Parish Schools (RRPS) held a 2-week Talented and Gifted (TAG) program. During the 2-week program, students had the opportunity to participate in enriching academic and art classes taught by Mrs. Tiffany Williams and Mr. Jeff Edwards. The theme was “Wetlands,” a curriculum provided by Ms. Terry Foster’s 4H Program. Students made art artifacts, developed PowerPoints, websites, and created their own T-shirts. The also visited Gators and Friends in Greenwood, LA. They shared their work during the TAG Culminating activity on Thursday, June 29 at Red River Elementary School Gymnasium.

The following students participated in the Summer 2017 TAG program are Tylan Beavers, Adrianna Bradford, Rodney Bradley, Kane Burleson, Hanna Cannon, Ty Cole, Micah Davis, Hayden Dowden, Moriah Eason, Caitlyn Jones, Cameron Jones, Kinya Gray, Laniyah Latson, Aiden Mangham, Jomello McDonald, Makilah Murphy, Kendric Patterson, Rafe Suggs, Madilynn Vangundy, Jayden Wells, Hannah Worsham, and Anyla Young.

Students were screened and invited to participate from a pool of teacher referrals, meeting specific academic, behavior, and artistic criteria. To qualify as gifted, Louisiana students must score very well on tests of math, reading and general intellectual abilities. Talented students must excel on an array of tests, auditions and interviews based on their artistic specialty according to the Louisiana Department of Education website: https://www.louisianabelieves.com/academics/gifted-and-talented-students .

Principal, Shenell Deville stated that RRPS has a vision to identify more students as either being “academically gifted” or “talented” (in music, art, and/or theatre). During the 2016-2017 school year, 11 students have been identified as academically gifted in the elementary grades. The screening process (for talented and gifted) will continue this upcoming year and will include all grade levels.

For more information regarding the referral process, please contact Michelle Deville, Director of Special Education for grades 6-12 and Shenell Deville, Principal at Red River Elementary School for grades K-5.

“I Don’t Know”

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All Harvey Rabbit had to say was “I don’t know” when asked questions by Mr. Tim. Harvey and friends starred at the Red River Parish Library’s Monday session of their summer reading program. Soon the uncooperative rabbit had the children who lined the floor joining in his chant. The program theme is “Build a Better World.” And before the day was over, Harvey had the crowd of children cheering, “Build a Better World” in unison.

Mr. Tim and Miss Laura entertained about 65 children and a standing-room-only crowd of parents for over an hour Monday afternoon. The program featured several magic tricks performed by Mr. Tim and conversations with Harvey Rabbit, T-Boy the Alligator and Cecil the Orangutan (who are all hand puppets) operated by Miss Laura the ventriloquist. There was singing, and dancing, and a lot of good humored foolishness all to the delight of the kids who participated.

Children’s Librarian Kayla Sims awarded T-Shirts, books and other prizes to several of the children in attendance. Sims says the crowds taking part this summer are larger than in past years. However, there is room for your children also. The program is free to children of all ages. Come to the library Mondays at 2:00 pm. Or call the library at 932-5614 for more information.

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Next Half-Price Hook-Up is July 5th

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The Red River Parish Journal joined the Half-Price HookUp to save our readers 50% or more on meals at local restaurants. Who wouldn’t want to save half?

On Wednesday, July 5th we will open the Half Price HookUp store to offer more bargains. We will have $10 cards from the York Chop, Dairy Queen, and the Lakewood Inn. We have a new offering, a $5 card from Country Market’s Deli. They make a great burger! The cards are all priced at HALF PRICE or less.

If you would like to receive half price meal offers from area restaurants, send a text message “hphc” to 779-48. Then you will get notifications of which restaurants are offering the Half-Price Hook-Up. The notice goes out next Wednesday morning.

You may make your purchases from the online store. Just go to this link: https://goo.gl/9qolU4

Don’t miss out. There are a limited number of cards offered by each merchant.

Red River Schools to Benefit From Teacher Preparation Program


The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is funding a program to help students in Red River and other rural parishes in Northwest Louisiana. Northwestern State University’s Gallaspy College of Education and Human Development was one of 13 Louisiana teacher preparation programs to receive a Believe and Prepare grant from BESE. This round of grants focuses specifically on classrooms that serve students with disabilities and those in rural areas of Louisiana.

The $415,000 grant will enable faculty in NSU’s College of Education to recruit educators to work in rural schools in DeSoto, Grant, Natchitoches, Red River, Sabine and West Carroll parishes. In addition to tapping community members who are interested in teaching but are not yet certified, the program plans to partner with several districts to engage high school juniors and seniors. The initiatives are called Providing Opportunities for Rural Teachers (PORT) and Providing Opportunities for Rural Students (PORS).

“Over 60 percent of teachers teach within 20 miles of where they went to high school,” said Ramona Wynder, principal investigator of the two NSU initiatives, citing Dan Brown, co-director of national network Educators Rising. “Therefore, PORT will be marketed to paraprofessionals, long-term substitutes and other aspiring teachers with deep roots in the community. And PORS will help encourage high school students to pursue careers in education in hopes they will return to their home communities to live and work.”

“This innovative work allows communities to assist in the recruitment and development of teachers to meet their current and future workforce needs,” said Dr. Kimberly McAlister, head of the Department of Teaching, Leadership and Counseling.

ETC…for June 30th


The United States won its freedom in conflict. Citizen soldiers grabbed their muzzleloaders and fought the British in the 1700s. And since then citizens have answered the call to duty over and over and over. Millions have served. Many did not return.

As the Marines Hymn goes “From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli” and all around the world American soldiers have fought for this country. In the end, always victorious.

Our enemies have tried to defeat us on our own soil, at Bunker Hill, Fort Ticonderoga, and the Chalmette Battlefield south of New Orleans. They could not conquer the American Soldier on Iwo Jima, at Pearl Harbor, Khe Sanh, Da Nang, or Kandahar and Baghdad.

We fought each other at Fort Sumpter, Bull Run, Gettysburg and Mansfield. Through the dark days of the Civil War and Reconstruction the United States survived.

With Americas’ resolve our enemies will not get the upper hand on land or sea, in space or cyberspace. With men and women willing to put on the uniform our future will be secure.

Take a few moments during your Independence Day celebrations and remember those who helped win our freedoms. The names of Red River Parish residents who answered the call and did not return are on a large plaque in the hall of the Courthouse. Go take a look and say a prayer of thanks. And teach your children of your great heritage so they may celebrate many more Fourths of July.

Some ramblings from your editor. Your comments are welcome at TheRRJournal@gmail.com.

Red River Veterans Recognized for Service to the Community



Several awards were presented to the local veterans service organization for their participation in programs that benefit the community. The presentations were made during the 86th annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of Louisiana.

Post Commander Barry McCoy received the award for the local VFW Post’s presentation of the Americanism Program in the local schools. The Americanism Program is conducted at the beginning of the school year. Students in kindergarten through 6th grade are asked to draw or color the American flag, draw a patriotic scene from American history, or write a brief patriotic essay.

Another award was presented to Post Adjutant David Fields. “The Commanders Award” was presented to Fields by VFW State Commander Ray Bass for Fields’ service to the local post and the VFW 12th District (Northwest Louisiana).

Post 7287 is active in the community with the Americanism Program in elementary schools in Red River and Bienville parish public and private schools. The post awards scholarships to middle school and high school students in Red River and Bienville parishes as well. During the 2016-17 school year almost $1,500.00 in scholarships were awarded to students.

Veterans are invited to join in service to fellow veterans, school children, and take part in other community service through the local VFW Post. Call 932-6557 or attend the next meeting at 7:00 pm on Thursday, July 20th. The Post is located just south of Coushatta on US 71 at Esperanza Road.


Wise Ones Working Completes Successful Year

By Celia A. Norman



The Red River Parish School Board is working with the Red River Sheriff’s Office’s Senior Outreach Program and bringing in volunteers. WOW is the Wise Ones Working group.

These volunteers work in all schools in the parish as well as the community. They do a variety of things in helping with events that are an essential part of the schools and our community.

Everyone is encouraged to become part of this group. For more information on Wise Ones Working (WOW) contact Celia Norman at the Sheriff’s Office, 318-932-4221.

Wise Ones Working will kick off their next year’s activities in August. The group will assist with registration at the public schools in the parish.

Photos accompanying this article at top show the WOW group. Below are photos of the group judging Christmas decorations at the Junior High, helping with arts and crafts at the nursing home, and working on a joint project with the Sheriff’s Office.