Happy Thanksgiving

Five orange pumpkins sit in a row in front of a distressed, wooden background.


This is the time of the year to give thanks for what we have. History says the Pilgrims started the idea by setting a day aside to give thanks for their safe arrival and beginning a new life in America. But what do you say that Thanksgiving is?

For some, it is a day to watch football or basketball. Others eat too much. Some visit family and friends. There is hunting and fishing on many folks agenda. And a few take time to give thanks.

The Journal hopes you do all of the above, especially take time to give thanks. We’re taking a day off to spend with family. The Journal will not publish on Friday. This Wednesday edition is being put together in Memphis where we are visiting our grandson.

Come Friday afternoon The Journal will be on the road to Ferriday where the Red River Bulldogs will play Ferriday in the next round of the football playoffs. Red River defeated Rosepine last Friday night with an impressive 38-24 come from behind win.

Friday’s game will be streamed live on http://www.RedRiverParishJournal.com and http://www.Facebook.com/RedRiverParishJournal. The game will also be broadcast on KRRP 950.

Christmas Festival is December 7th

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The Red River/Coushatta Chamber of Commerce is planning the 2017 Christmas Festival for December 7th. Most of the events will be held on Front Street.

There will be the annual parade beginning at the ballpark. It will wind its way to Ringgold Avenue, cross the tracks and turn onto Front Street. The parade route will pass the newly renovated stage and Santa House. The parade will line up beginning at 3:30 pm on the 7th and the parade will begin about 4:30.

What would a Christmas Festival be without fireworks? There will be a great fireworks show that will take place at 6:00 pm along Front Street.

Vendors are being sought for this years festivities. There is a vendor application on the chamber website. Details are posted on the Chamber’s website http://www.redriverparish.org and on its Facebook page.

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Pro Start Student Honored

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A Red River High School student in the ProStart program has been awarded a National Certificate of Achievement. He is Bobby White, who studies under Wanda Lemoine at the school.

If you have attended any of the numerous events ProStart caters you have seen Bobby White with his tall white chef’s hat and equally large smile. His hard work has not gone unrecognized.

Rob Gifford of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation said White had “completed all requirements of the ProStart Program.” Gifford added, “He has demonstrated a strong foundation in the management and culinary skills considered critical by leaders in the restaurant and foodservice industry.”

Bobby White’s certificate of was awarded November 13th. He was recognized at this month’s school board meeting.

New Head Coach for NSU

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Brad Laird, one of Northwestern State’s greatest football players and most successful defensive coordinators, is the Demons’ new head football coach, athletics director Greg Burke announced Monday afternoon. Laird, 44, will be officially introduced as head coach early next week on campus. The university is currently on Thanksgiving break. Laird’s promotion from associate head coach and defensive coordinator, a position he assumed this past January, is pending approval of the University of Louisiana Board of Supervisors, which oversees nine state institutions including Northwestern State.

“While NSU has hired a great number of coaches and staff from around the country through the years who have had a high level of success, sometimes the best choice is right in your backyard. So with tremendous confidence, I’m announcing that Brad Laird will be the new football coach at Northwestern State University,” said Burke.

“Brad has a passion for NSU, as a former coach and administrator, and as one of the best players to ever wear a Demon uniform, that cannot be surpassed. He’s ready for this opportunity, he wants this opportunity, and he will make the best of this opportunity.”

He becomes the Demons’ 15th head football coach, succeeding Jay Thomas, whose contract was not renewed following five seasons in charge. The Demons finished 4-7 overall, 4-5 in Southland Conference play, this season, winning three of their last four games, capped by a 38-21 victory Saturday over Stephen F. Austin.

Courthouse Gets New Holiday Look

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There is a new holiday spirit at the Red River Parish Courthouse. Holiday decorations and lights are all new for 2017.

The Journal spotted crews putting up the new decorations this past week. For months there had been talk of removing the old lights that had been on the courthouse for years. An agreement between the police jury and the chamber made the new look possible.

First the old lights, and all the glue that made them stick to the building was removed. Recently new lights were mounted. There is also new garland ringing the columns out front.


Holiday Express Train to Stop in Coushatta

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Save the date, December 5th. The KCS Holiday Express Train is coming to Coushatta. It will be open for tours and to thrill kids young and old beginning at 4:00 pm. The train will stop on Front Street.

From the company’s website is this description of the Holiday Express:
The KCS Holiday Express is a festive, six-car train that brings Santa Claus and his elves to communities throughout the company’s U.S. rail network. Guests to the train can visit with Santa Claus and walk through three cars filled with holiday displays. Each event is free, open to the public and no tickets are required.

In addition, at each scheduled stop, a charitable contribution is made to the local Salvation Army to provide warm clothes and other necessities for children in need.
The Holiday Express was created in 2001 as volunteers dedicated more than 8,000 hours to transform retired rail cars. Today, these cars feature a smiling tank car named Rudy; a flatcar carrying Santa’s sleigh, reindeer and a miniature village; a gingerbread boxcar; the elves’ workshop; a reindeer stable; and a little red caboose.

Riverdale Academy DARE Graduation

By: Lt. Troy Murray (DARE Officer)



On November 15, 2017, after successfully completing the requirements of the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program, twelve fifth grade students from Riverdale Academy received their graduation certificates.

In a ceremony held in the school auditorium, those in attendance learned a brief history of the DARE program, watched the students perform skits and heard the reading of the winning DARE report. The skits, which demonstrated the five DARE resistance strategies, were the highlight of the afternoon!

Students recognized for exceptional DARE reports were Chance Rushing (1st place), Chloe Cason (2nd place), and Connor Straight (3rd place). Following the ceremony, a reception was held in the lunchroom for the graduates and their guests.

While there is no way to truly measure the impact of the DARE program, there should be no question that it equips our children with tools that can be helpful throughout their lifetimes. In addition to educating students on the dangers associated with drugs and alcohol, the DARE program covers much more. This includes responsible decision making, resistance strategies, peer pressure, stress, effective communication, bullying, and establishing a help network.

Sheriff Edwards would like to extend his appreciation to the school board and administration for allowing the Sheriff’s Office the opportunity to present the program. Thanks also go to fifth grade teacher Mrs. Kelly Azlin, parents, and others who helped make this year and graduation ceremony special for the students.
Great job Riverdale DARE Class of 2017! Always remember to be SAFE and RESPONSIBLE!

ETC… for November 22nd


School is out this week. Classes resume on Monday for Red River schools and
Riverdale Academy. Area colleges including NSU are also closed for Thanksgiving.
For some Northwestern State University students, the devastation in Puerto Rico
caused by Hurricane Maria was personal. They decided to do what they could to aid
the island’s recovery efforts.

A fundraiser, Demons Dance for Puerto Rico, will be held Tuesday, Nov. 28 from 4
p.m. – 7 p.m. in the Alumni Plaza. The event will feature live music, salsa dancing
lessons and food. Various groups will perform in a dance showcase that will include
salsa, tap and stepping.

Friday is the date to pick up sweet potatoes. If you bought boxes of sweet potatoes
from the 4-H this fall, November 24 th is your pickup day. Distribution will be all day
at the fairgrounds.

Green Meadow Haven has an angel tree for their residents this Christmas. You are
asked to come by and select an angel to buy a present for. Or you may call 932-5202
and ask for Mary Tom or Holly. Help assure the residents have a present under the
tree Christmas morning.

Christmas will be here soon. The Journal would like to publicize your church or
groups holiday programs, food and gift distributions, and all you do for our area.
Please send information to The Journal at TheRRJournal@gmail.com. We would like
to salute all that you do.

Are you decorating your home for Christmas? Send The Journal a picture. We’d like
to see your artwork and your decorations.

NSU will not retain head football coach Jay Thomas after 5 seasons; home game Saturday will be his last


After five seasons, Jay Thomas will coach the Northwestern State football team for the last time when the Demons host Stephen F. Austin Nov. 18 in a 3 p.m. Southland Conference contest in Turpin Stadium.

Thomas told his players Friday evening that the SFA game will be his final one as their coach. His contract expires after the season and will not be renewed, said NSU athletics director Greg Burke.

“Coaching transition is never easy and that is especially the case when it involves a first-class person like Jay Thomas. I am certain that many others share my appreciation for how well Jay has represented Demon football, NSU Athletics, Natchitoches and NSU throughout his five-year tenure,” said Burke. “I wish him and his family all the best going forward.

“The foundation of Demon football has been enhanced under Jay’s leadership on many levels. Most notably, the academic profile of our football program – as evidenced by NCAA Academic Progress Rate numbers and related honors – has improved significantly and to the point that the multi-year score is well above the minimum benchmark and keeps NSU well-positioned to be eligible for postseason competition,” said Burke, who also pointed to Thomas’ involvement and visibility in the community and the Coaches Cabinet Association fundraising group Thomas established as positives.

Thomas and his staff organized and hosted one of the largest one-day, on-campus summer camps in the region this summer, with over 500 high school competitors visiting Turpin Stadium and NSU’s practice facilities for expert instruction.

The NSU football program had the best APR score, 975 of a possible 1,000, among the 11 Southland Conference football teams for 2015-16. The program’s four-year APR under Thomas is 957.

An impressive total of 91 players have earned undergraduate degrees since the end of the 2014 season and over a dozen of the 17 seniors playing their final home game Saturday will graduate this year or have already graduated.

As he prepared to give his players the news Friday evening, Thomas said he was completely focused on the 3 o’clock Saturday afternoon home game against Stephen F. Austin.

“I think these guys will take it the right way, rally up and we’ll be ready to play. We have game tomorrow, that’s the most important thing. We’re playing for our 17 seniors and we’re playing for Chief Caddo, the biggest trophy in sports,” he said.

“I’d like to thank the administration for the opportunity to be the head coach here at Northwestern State. It’s been a pleasure and an honor,” said Thomas. “This is a great university with a lot of great things going on. (New president Chris) Dr. Maggio is going to do a fantastic job, and there are bigger and better things to come here.

“To the fans and the alumni, and the student body, I want to say thank you for all of the support. Now is the time for everyone to rally together. It’s not just about the football program, it’s about the entire university. That’s what I would like to see, the Demon family have success. I’m always going to be a Demons fan. I’m going to be one of the biggest supporters.

“I want to thank our players, past and present, for all their hard work and dedication. We didn’t win all our battles out there, but we gave everything we had. I’m very proud of the way they represented the university on and off the field for five years,” he said. “And I can’t wait to go out there at Turpin Stadium one more time with them.”

Thomas, 57, has a 20-36 record with the Demons, 14-27 in Southland Conference play. Adding in six seasons (2004-09) as head coach at Nicholls, he has a 47-71 career mark in 11 seasons.

The Demons opened with a pair of 6-6 seasons under Thomas in 2013 and 2014, including a 2014 victory at Heart of Dallas Bowl champion Louisiana Tech, two blowout wins over in-state rival Southern, and a 2014 homecoming win over highly-ranked Southland Conference power Sam Houston State. But NSU dipped to 4-7 in 2015 and 1-10 in 2016, and stands 3-7 overall heading into Saturday’s season finale.

Since Thomas took over, the Demons have suffered 11 losses decided in the closing minutes, seven in the past two seasons, including bitter defeats this year to a pair of nationally-ranked Southland Conference opponents, Nicholls and Sam Houston State, in which they led nearly the entire contests.

“There have been so many close losses over the past two to three seasons that have resulted in the program’s win-loss record not being at a desirable level,” said Burke. “Thus, the decision has been made to move in a different direction with the program leadership in hopes of providing for our fans, former players and supporters more success that ultimately leads to championships and postseason appearances.”

Burke said Saturday’s NSU-SFA contest is the sole focus for him now, but consideration of options for choosing a new head coach is underway and will intensify Sunday.

Maggio, Coach T, 9-20-142014 fall FB AM grads