Coushatta Man Killed in Dump Truck Rollover Crash

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Around 11:00 a.m. today, Louisiana State Police Troop G responded to a one-vehicle crash on LA 1, about 1 mile south of US 84 that claimed the life of a Coushatta man.

The preliminary investigation revealed a 2017 Peterbilt dump truck driven by 61-year-old Dennis R. Williams of Coushatta was traveling south on LA 1, about one mile south of US 84 in Red River Parish. Due to suspected tire failure, the loaded dump truck ran off the road and overturned.

Williams was ejected during the crash. He sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene by the Red River Parish Coroner’s Office. Impairment is not suspected. The crash remains under investigation. A toxicology sample was obtained and will be submitted for analysis.

Louisiana State Troopers wish to remind motorists that while not all crashes are survivable, statistics show that the chances of surviving a crash rise significantly when properly restrained. In 2017, Troop G has investigated 28 crashes resulting in 32 deaths.



Looking Back at 2017

Looking Back at 2017


It was a year to remember in Red River Parish. In a quiet sleepy community where folks will say not much ever happens, it’s been one heck of a year. There were changes all over the place.

This was the first year for the Red River Parish Journal. Our first issue was February 7th. In the first issue we reported on a nail-biter finish as the Lady Bulldogs won another match on their way to the playoffs, negotiations were underway to find a buyer for Fred’s Pharmacy, and The Journal introduced you to Red River’s youngest mechanic.

Here is a look back at some of the events that took place in 2017.


A Rough Start Leads to an Historic Finish

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Back in the spring the Red River Parish School Board announced that they were seeking a new head football coach for the Red River Bulldogs. The search lasted a month or so before a hometown man was selected.

Scott Hale, who had recently coached in Texas, was named new Bulldog head coach. He was introduced to the community at the school gym. Details were published in The Journal’s May 5th edition.

Scott Hale


Hale told the crowd that he was pleased to have been selected and was glad to be back in Coushatta. He went to work with the team and lead practices throughout the summer.

Then in July Hale suddenly turned in his resignation to the school board office. Superintendent Alison Hughes was on vacation with her family at the time. The Journal contacted her and she told us that John Bachman had been hired.

Hughes said, “We are very excited that John Bachman is our new head coach.” Bachman had been considered for the head coaching job at the time Scott Hale was selected as head coach. Hughes said, “It was an almost exact tie, and that is why we recruited him for the Assistant Coach position after we hired Scott Hale.” She added, “He has a wealth of experience and a wealth of success and I think we are going to be just fine.”

Bachman met with the team and took over the program just a short time before the first scrimmage in August.

Bachman With Team


Followers of local sports know how the story went. The Bulldogs lost only one district game (to Many). During the season John Bachman racked up his 100th win as a head coach and the Bulldogs kept winning. They won the first and second round of the playoffs before a season ending defeat by Ferriday.

In December, the school board recognized the football team’s efforts and accomplishments this past season. Coaches and team members were saluted during the school board meeting. It was noted that this had been the first time a Red River High School football team had made it this far in the playoffs. The former Coushatta High Choctaws had won the state championship back in 1992.


Auto Wreck is a Triple Tragedy



On April 26th The Journal reported on two deaths in an auto accident and the passing of a 10 year old boy that shook the community. Here is that report.

The community is uniting in support of several families who suffered loss this past week. Ten-year-old Sheldon “SJ” Hallman passed away Saturday morning. A few hours later his cousin was injured and two other men were killed in a traffic accident on the Red Oak Road.

Hallman was injured four years ago while on a school outing to the State Fair in Shreveport. A ride malfunction trapped the boy. John Hallman, the boy’s grandfather, says the Wake will be Friday evening at Will of God Church and the funeral will be at noon Saturday in the gym of the old Elementary School on East Carroll Street.

Details of the auto accident that injured one person and claimed two lives were furnished to the Journal by State Police Troop G:
On Saturday, April 22, 2017, at 11:10 a.m., Louisiana State Police Troop G responded to one vehicle crash on Louisiana Highway 480 just south of US Highway 84 that claimed the lives of two people and left one severely injured.

The preliminary investigation revealed a 2008 Ford Crown Victoria operated by 20-year-old Cedric Lewis of Coushatta was traveling north on LA 480. He failed to negotiate a curve, exited the left side of the roadway, overturned, and struck a large group of trees.

Lewis as well as his passengers, 43-year-old Ronnie Allen of Coushatta and 19-year-old Tyquinton Winn also of Coushatta was not wearing seat belts at the time of the crash. Lewis sustained serious injuries during the crash and was transported to University Health in Shreveport for treatment. Allen and Winn were partially ejected during the crash and sustained fatal injuries. Both Allen and Winn were pronounced dead at the scene by the Red River Parish Coroner.

State police reported that speed and restraint use are factors in this crash, but impairment is not suspected.

Auto Wreck Triple Tragedy



Storms Impacted The Parish This Year


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Storms moved through Red River Parish on Sunday May 28th. There was widespread damage, including one person killed when a tree fell through her home.

From The Journal’s Special Report of May 29th: The victim was identified by family members as Clara Suggs. She was asleep on the couch in the living room of her mobile home on Esparanza Road when a large tree fell across it. Suggs’ mother Ellen Wood was in a bedroom of the home. She is reported to have suffered only a few scratches, according to family members. Suggs died at the scene. Her dog Pee Wee also perished in the house.

Sunrise found power out throughout Red River Parish. There was widespread damage including buildings blown over, signs down, many trees uprooted, and power lines down. Utilities have dispatched crews however damage is reported widespread throughout the northwest part of the state. Few businesses are open on generator power. Therefore gasoline is difficult to find. Stations in Coushatta and Armistead are closed.

Damaged House


In mid August a storm, thought by local residents to be a tornado, blew through the Westdale community on Highway One. From the Journal’s August 16th edition is this account:

Julia Pennington and her brother John Dixon are thankful for their lives following a weekend storm that hit at Westdale. They live on Bundrick Road, just off Highway 1 in north Red River Parish.

John Dixon told the Journal, “It was going too fast. A shower came up. I didn’t see other clouds. I was watching TV in the living room when the porch blew off first.” Dixon went on to explain, “Then the roof came off. Everything in the house was ruined by the water after the roof blew off.” Dixon’s roof landed in the yard next to the house. His porch blew from the east side of his house, over the house and over his sister’s house next door and landed to the west of her house.

Julia Pennington told the Journal. “The way a tree was damaged by the house, it was nothing but a tornado.” Pennington said there was steady lightning, some hail, and it was raining heavily. She added, “There was no warning. All at once we (Pennington and her daughter) heard a whoof! My daughter and I got in a closet and hit the floor. We were trying to pull a mattress over us but by then it was gone” Pennington’s mobile home suffered roof damage and the wind shifted it off the support blocks in the front.

fire station damage


The Red River Parish Fire Department’s substation at Westdale was damaged by the storm. And there was some damage to the farm located across Highway 1 at Bundrick Road.

Deputy Red River Fire Chief Mike Robinson said the doors were blown inward, then out and off. He said the north wall of the fire station was blown out by the storm this past weekend. Robinson told the Journal that the station is not operational and will be out of service until repairs are made. He also said that no dollar damage estimate is available yet.

Farm Damage


Across Highway 1 from the Westdale fire station trees were downed and three large grain bins were upended by the storm. There was minor damage to the main farm office. A farmer, who asked not to be identified, said the wind gage on the property recorded winds of 102 miles an hour.

The Journal contacted Meteorologist Travis Washington at the National Weather Service office in Shreveport. Washington said their records of the storm are that it was a severe thunderstorm with high winds in the 45 to 60 miles per hour range. He said NWS had no report of winds reaching 100 plus.

Hurricane Harvey blew through Red River Parish in late August. Wind and rain was what Hurricane or Tropical Storm Harvey brought. The storm also brought higher gas prices blamed on the shutdown of a refinery in the Houston area where damage and flooding was much more extensive.

Guard Picture


The local National Guard unit, C-Troop of the 108th Cav was called to active duty. Commander Captain Chad Ford told the Journal in our August 29th issue that they were on standby in the event they were needed for flood relief in south Louisiana.

The troops readied their equipment, including high wheeled vehicles that can go through flood water. They also practiced operating their inflatable boats on an area lake in the event they were needed. As it turned out the local guard unit was not needed this time and members were allowed to return home.


Record Breaking Football at Riverdale Academy


In 2017 the Riverdale Academy Football team had a perfect record in district play. It is a feat never achieved before by the Rebels.

Victory grew out of defeat in the first game of the season against Humphreys. Coach Jared Smelser said, “Now Riverdale is seeded number two and will enjoy home field advantage throughout the playoffs.” It did not look good for the Rebels back on August 18th with that loss to Humphreys. Things looked even worse with an injury to running back Payton Thornton the next week that threatened to end his year.

By the next week, August 25th, the team pulled together and defeated Franklin Academy 36 to 22. They never looked back, racking up an impressive 7-0 district record and an overall record of 8 wins and only one loss.

The first playoff game was played at the school on November 3rd. The opponent was North Sunflower Academy. It was a low scoring, tightly fought match that went down to the wire. Final score was Riverdale14, North Sunflower 12. The Rebels moved on to the second round of district play.

To advance, Riverdale would have to get by Briarfield Academy. They won their district game against Briarfield, but it was a tough battle. The teams met in the second round of the playoffs on November 10th and Briarfield Academy prevailed. Riverdale’s record setting season came to a close.

Rebels Team BOTTOM


Back to school bash

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“Wow!” exclaimed School Superintendent Alison Hughes, “We never expected the turnout. We’re so appreciative of the community coming together to support it.” Hughes overlooked an overflowing crowd of parish residents filling the Red River High Gym on Monday afternoon, July 31st.

The occasion was the first Back To School Bash held for public school students and parents in the parish. It was a one-stop event that supplied students with uniforms, backpacks packed with school supplies, free hot dogs and haircuts, and a big bounce castle. The line formed early at the gym doors and stretched all the way behind the high school building.

United Way gave 1,500 backpacks full of needed supplies to students attending Red River public schools. Their summary of the event said, “The Bash is the largest program that offers school supplies to students in the parish. According to the ALICE (Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed) Study of Financial Hardship, 40 percent of that population (the parish) is struggling to afford basic needs. The annual Back to School Bash is helping to fight and reverse this statistic.”

Jennifer Martin, Vice President of Resource Development at UWNWLA, “Of all ten parishes United Way serves, research has shown that Red River Parish has the highest need for these resources.”

Superintendent Hughes said, “Over 1,500 people signed in to participate. I want to thank our corporate sponsors like the Bank of Coushatta and Nichols: Rivertown Market supplied the food and the sheriff brought his grill and did the cooking; and local barbers and beauticians came to give the kids free haircuts. There were many businesses and individuals who joined in and made this possible. And thanks to the United Way for bringing it all together.” As for the future, the Journal asked Hughes if they would do it again. She said, “Yes, and next year will be bigger and better!”





Our U. S Representative Visited Coushatta

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Congressman Mike Johnson and his staff held a Town Hall meeting at the Library in Coushatta on Wednesday, August 2nd. He reviewed actions taken by the US House since the current term began in January. And Johnson took questions from area residents in attendance.

Discussing issues affecting Red River Parish most directly, Johnson said, “I’m in there advocating for improvements in the state. I want to strengthen the role of Barksdale (Air Force Base) and Fort Polk. I also want to see reforms of the Veterans Administration.

Johnson said the most pressing issue facing the country is the national debt, which is now at 20 Trillion dollars (that is 9+ zeroes or $20,000,000,000.00). His list of priorities for controlling spending is reforming health care, the tax code, and reducing government regulations on business.

On health care reform, Johnson said, “Four to six percent of the people have chronic illnesses and they incur most of the costs of health care. If we are to cover pre-existing conditions the problem is how to pay for it.” Johnson wants to create an “invisible” risk sharing pool for chronically ill patients. He said this would allow premiums and costs for the other 94-96 percent to decrease, to become affordable. Johnson says to pay for the high-risk pool there would be a small surcharge on insurance policies.

At the town hall, the Journal asked Congressman Johnson to comment on proposed changes to retirement benefits that affect military retirees, the unemployability disability benefit. The proposal is to stop the disability benefit when the recipient reaches the age of retirement in favor of that person receiving social security. Johnson said some people say that benefit is a windfall. Johnson disagrees, “We have to protect those, including veterans, who depend upon that disability income.”



New Public Facilities in the Parish


Fire Station Groundbreaking

During 2017 there were three stories involving public facilities. A new fire station was begun. The voting machines were moved to a new warehouse. And repairs were made to the post office after an auto accident. From the Journal’s issue of March 31st comes the story of the groundbreaking at the new fire station.

Fire Chief Shane Felts is excited. Construction of the department’s new fire station is underway with workers on scene daily. On Wednesday, they held their official groundbreaking ceremony.

They actually held two groundbreakings to accommodate the schedules of firefighters, local officials and fire district board members. Felts says the new fire station will be large enough to park all of the department’s vehicles inside the large bay on the north side of the building. There are accommodations for firefighters on duty plus offices and kitchen on the south side of the building.

Special guest at the evening groundbreaking was Chief Bobby Hayes of DeSoto Fire District 9. Hayes loaned the plans for his station in DeSoto parish to Red River after Chief Felts saw and liked the design of Hayes’ station.

The new fire station is under construction on US 71 north of Coushatta at the intersection with US 371. Felts said the total price tag on the new station is $3,000,000.

Voting Machine Move In


That same issue, March 31st, featured the story on moving day at the new voting machine warehouse.

Thursday was moving day for the parish voting machines. All 32 machines were loaded up at the old warehouse on US 71 South and moved to the new warehouse beside Dairy Queen on US 71 North.

The machines were unloaded and rolled into the new, more spacious warehouse by Election Technician John Perkins and Toby Trichel. Perkins is employed by the Secretary of State and Trechel works for Trichel Enterprises, a bonded moving company.

The warehouse is maintained by the Louisiana Secretary of State, the agency overseeing elections in the state. Perkins said, “There are 32 voting machines in the warehouse. Eighteen machines are used on Election Day, with the rest of them are for back up. “

Post Office Damage


The Coushatta Post Office has been repaired. Back in mid-August a motorist failed to stop in the parking lot and drove through the east wall of the building. Damage was all structural and no mail or mailboxes were damaged. See the August 16th issue of The Journal for the original story.

There was a plywood patch in the wall for weeks. And then workers were rebuilding and repairing the wall.

Today there is little trace of the damage. The only giveaway would be the fresh mortar between the bricks, the brightly painted interior and an area of new floor tiles.

Repaired P.O.


The Sun Was Darkened

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The talk of the area in late August was the eclipse of the sun. It was visible from a wide path across North America. In Red River Parish we got only a partial eclipse, however that did not damper anyone’s excitement. Here is the Journal’s report from August 23rd.

Right on time, the Moon moved between the Earth and the Sun on Monday afternoon. Coushatta was included in the spectacular show. Students at Red River High and Junior High filed out into the courtyard to take it all in.

Principal Mike Peter of the Junior High furnished his students with a goodie bag containing sun viewing glasses, a Moon Pie, Sunny D, Sun Chips…(you get the idea). The goodies were packed by two hard working members of the WOW, Brenda Jones and C’Ann Norman.

The use of a pinhole to project the sun’s image on a piece of paper was demonstrated. And several students brought welder’s helmets to view the eclipse. As you can tell from the photos accompanying this story, a great time was had by all.
The photo of the eclipse was taken about half way through the event, when the clouds parted to let the sun shine through. The photo is compliments of Dominique Burton, a senior at Red River High.

Eclipse Bottom



College Athletic Scholarships


Four athletes from Red River Parish signed scholarships during 2017. The first was reported in the March 8th edition of The Journal.


Greg Wallace

Family, coaches and friends packed he Red River High School Library Friday to witness Greg Wallace signing on with Louisiana College. Wallace said he chose LC “because it feels like home.”

Wallace is anxious to get on the field at Louisiana College. “I am looking to bring pressure in the middle of the defense as an inside linebacker” said Wallace.
Before the signing took place there was a lunch and a huge cake declaring “Congratulations Greg”. Afterward there were media interviews and more congrats from fellow teammates and coaches.

Wallace’s head coach, Reginald Prelow described him as “a good ballplayer, outstanding young man of good character who works hard on the field and in the classroom.” Wallace says of Prelow “I learned how to be disciplined. Coach stayed on me, reminding me that you have to work hard to go anywhere.”

Dez Bryant


On Friday, April 28th Dezmond Bryant made history. He is the first athlete signed to a track scholarship from Red River Parish. Bryant was surrounded by parents, teammates, friends and coaches at a celebration held in the Red River High School Library.

Bryant signed with Western Texas College located at Snyder, Texas. He will be a member of their track team and he proudly wore a school shirt during the event.
The signing took place with Track Coach Billy Henry, Jr. at his side. Bryant graciously signed again and again with family members, with friends, with School Superintendent Alison Hughes and other officials, and with many well-wishers.
A huge cake congratulating the senior was prepared, as were sandwiches and snacks served by students of the school Pro Start program.

The Journal spoke with Bryant about the signing. He said, “I am just humbled. I thank God for everything.” Bryant added, “I want to keep my mind focused and I hope to add other first place finishes at the state track meet.” Bryant will compete in the 400 meter, 200 meter and 4-by-200 events at the state track meet scheduled Friday May 5th in Baton Rouge.

Superintendent Alison Hughes remarked, “If you ever see Dez run it’s beautiful. We had to bring in another table to hold all the medals he won at Red River High. We’re looking forward to him winning many more.”

Track Coach Billy Henry, Jr. said, “Dez is the first to get a traditional scholarship in track from Red River Parish. No one has more state titles than Bryant.”

Bryant’s very proud father, Terrell Brown told the Journal “I’m very proud of him. He always has a good attitude in everything he does.

Jaylee Riggs


Then in the May 17th edition The Journal reported on a Riverdale Academy senior who signed with Centenary to play softball.

Surrounded by Mom, Dad and her coach, and backed up by members of the Riverdale Academy Softball Team, Jaylee Riggs signed on to play ball for Centenary College in Shreveport. Riggs said, “I got my number one choice.”
Riverdale Principal Jamie Lawrence said, “I believe Riggs is the first Riverdale student to ever sign a college scholarship to play softball. Her team supports her and we do to.”

Riggs described her emotional state as “nervous but excited to play softball for Centenary. I’m ready to play.” She said she will major in biology and then go to physical therapy school after graduation.

Her coach, Debbie Guidry said, “I am proud for the opportunity to coach Jaylee. How proud we are of her. We wish her the best. Go show Centenary all the good things she can do with a bat.”

Lakeya Lewis


In Late July, family, friends, coaches and school officials looked on and cheered for Lakeya Lewis. She signed to play basketball for the Pratt Community College Beavers of Pratt, Kansas. The signing ceremony took place in the school library.

Lewis has an infectious smile and it was on display as she spoke with the Journal. She said, “The coach at Pratt told me I was fast enough and a good shooter. After I work hard he would recommend me to a four year college. And perhaps someday to the WNBA.” Lewis added, “The advice he had was for me to be dedicated and work hard and put in the number of hours it takes to build up my skills.”

Lewis’ coach Missy Antilley said, “I think she will be picked up by a D-1 school next year.” Lewis has been considering several schools this spring and summer. “She made a very good decision (to go to Pratt)” added Antilley.


A Year of Parades and Festivals

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We love celebrations. And in 2017 we took plenty of time to celebrate. The top two reasons to celebrate were the Fair Parade in October and the Christmas Festival in December.

Fair Parade 1

The annual Fair Parade rolled out of the Fairgrounds about 5:00 pm Thursday afternoon, October 5th. There were many floats and entries by schools and local businesses.
The parade was led by the Sheriff’s Department and Red River High’s Air Force JROTC carrying the colors. It was to have been lead by units of the fire and EMS services, however there was a truck wreck on US 71 shortly before parade time, so those vehicles went on the call.
The parade route was lined with excited spectators, especially the children. They shouted “throw me something” and hurried to add another piece of candy or trinket to their bag of goodies.

Look back at the Journal’s October 11th issue to see all of the pictures of the floats entered in the Fair Parade.

Fair Parade 2

The 2017 Christmas Festival was truly spectacular. The events were made even greater as over 2,200 folks turned out on December 5th to see and tour the KCS Holiday Express.


The Holiday Express train was created by workers for Kansas City Southern railroad. They used retired rail cars and a lot of ingenuity to create a holiday spectacular. Santa’s reindeer rode on a flatcar. There was a boxcar formed into a stable for the reindeer (actually holding the generator for the display).

Everyone entered the caboose and wound their way from car to car. Santa was seated in a big rocker awaiting the opportunity to hear a child’s Christmas wish or have a photo made by an excited parent.

Christmas Fest 2

The Christmas Parade and Fireworks Spectacular was held on Thursday, December 7th. Front Street was decked out in holiday finery and featured many improvements being made by the town council.

The overall winner of the Christmas Parade was a school bus decorated with Santa, Elves and a huge tree. This was the last entry in the parade and made a huge impression on the large crowd gathered on Front Street.

This year’s parade featured 20 floats and entries, a marching band, spirit groups and dancers. The Grand Marshall was Dr. Greg Bell and the Community Leader was C’Ann Norman.

Christmas Fest 1

Despite a winter chill in the air, the crowd stayed around for a fabulous fireworks display. The show lasted at least half an hour and rocket after rocket blasted skyward from across the railroad tracks behind the Council on Aging’s Depot Diner.




Christmas Decorations 1

Around town Christmas lights were ablaze throughout the holiday season. Businesses, utility poles, public buildings, and homes were decorated with lights and yard displays. Our parish courthouse sported new decorations for 2017. The Police Jury and Chamber of Commerce redecorated with garland and lights around the columns out front. And new lights were strung to outline the historic building.

Christmas Decorations 2

There are more pictures from the Christmas Festival. Look back at the Journal in early December for photos of the Holiday Express Train, the Christmas Festival Parade, the Fireworks Spectacular and the lights about town.



Recognition for Delegates to Boys State and Girls State



American Legion Post 118 and Auxiliary celebrated another successful year at Boys State and Girls State. The events are sponsored by the American Legion and Auxiliary and are held each summer at Northwestern State University.

In August, the delegates, their parents, friends and members of the American Legion gathered in the fellowship hall of First Baptist Church to celebrate. Peggy Ray introduced the delegates saying they were there “to recognize outstanding students in 11th grade who had a week-long experience in government.” Ray added their biggest complaint: “Not enough sleep!”

Girls State delegates were Gracie Almond and Adriana Bradley from Riverdale Academy and Tianna Rock from Red River High School. Almond and Bradley had other engagements and were not at the celebration. Rock spoke on their behalf thanking the American Legion for sending them. Rock said, “My time was wonderful because of late night working on speeches. If you work hard for something you will succeed.” Rock said her friends she met at Girls State helped her “bring myself up and build my confidence. All of the girls were so supportive.”

Boys State delegates were Brandon Gay, Reagan Prosperie and Payton Thornton all of Riverdale Academy. Brandon Gay spoke first “It was a life changing experience and I met a lot of new friends.” Gay echoed other delegates talking about late night sessions, writing and making speeches. “I have a new respect for government and how it works,” he added. Gay was elected Senator from Tensas Parish. One of his roommates went on to Boys Nation in Washington, DC and got to meet President Donald Trump.

Delegate Reagan Prosperie said, “It is an experience I will never forget. I ran for state representative. I had to write many bills.” Prosperie added, “It was a fun job and thanks for sending me.”

Delegate Payton Thornton said, “Honestly I did not know what to expect upon arrival at NSU. People don’t understand. It is not just a bunch of crazy guys partying 24/7. We worked out butts off!” Thornton said he made lifelong friends. “We did everything together for a whole week. It was really a life-changing experience that made me a better man and a better citizen of Coushatta.” Thornton ran for Director of Finance for the city of Caddo in Atchafalaya Parish. He also ran for State Treasurer but lost in a runoff.

Local sponsorship for Boys State and Girls State came from Almond Brothers Lumber Company, American Bank and Trust, Bank of Coushatta, Bethard and Bethard, Ed Lester Farms and Mabile’s Pharmacy. Past Commander of the American Legion Post Joe Smith told the gathering, “We are the only post that sends their delegates to Boys State and Girls State. Delegates from other posts have to pay their own way. We are the only ones and it is a challenge to our sponsors to meet the needs of sending delegates.

Local Attorney Henry Bethard was a delegate the first Boys State held in Louisiana. Local delegates have been sent by the local post since 1946.


Beta Clubs Promote Academic Excellence

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National Beta is proud to announce Red River High School as a 2017-2018 National School of Distinction. This award is an honor for Beta Chapters striving towards academic achievement, exemplary character, demonstrated leadership and service to others. With an ongoing quest to instill these qualities in more students, the National Beta School of Distinction Award is designed to award those schools that show an increase in membership for the current school year.

“I am proud to see Red River High get recognized for the amazing things going on at our school academically. So often the only thing the public sees is how well we perform on the field or on the court. I am even more proud of the amazing academics and dedicated teachers we have at Red River High School. There are more great things ahead for this school and community.” Principal, J.C. Dickey III


This report from the Journal, September 13th. On Thursday afternoon the first Installation was held by the Junior Beta Club at Red River Elementary School. Officers were introduced and all members were inducted.

The Beta Club is sponsored by Kenotta Williams, Crystal Williams and Tiffany Williams of the elementary school staff. Tiffany Williams served as Master of Ceremonies at the induction ceremony.

Each club officer lit a colored candle signifying one of the qualities Beta Club strives for. And each officer gave brief remarks describing the particular attribute their candle represented.

The National Beta Club (often called “Beta Club” or simply “Beta”) is an organization for 4th through 12th grade students in the United States. Its purpose is “to promote the ideals of academic achievement, character, leadership and service among elementary and secondary school students.”

Riverdale Beta Club

The Senior Beta Club at Riverdale Academy has been active in our community and northwest Louisiana this year. Thanks to Mallory Warren for the pictures and information. See the December 22nd issue of the Journal.
Recently members made Christmas cards for nursing home residents. The cards were passed out at the Christmas party at Green Meadow Haven. Beta Club members also served dinner to residents. They plan on hosting the December birthday party at Green Meadow Haven on December 29th.
Other activities this past year included collecting donations for the Providence House. The club will be hosting a game night at Providence House in January.
Riverdale’s Beta Club will attend the state convention in February where members will compete in academic tests on language arts, science, social studies and agriculture. They will also compete in creative writing, visual arts, quiz bowl, robotics, advertising design, special talents, scrapbook, and other categories.
The Riverdale Academy Senior Beta Club has earned National School of Distinction for two years in a row. And last year at state convention Lewis Lawson placed first in sculpture.


ETC… 2017 Year in Review



This has been an exciting year, a rewarding year, a tragic year, and a year that most of us will never forget. The Journal has chronicled it all, “the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly!” Apologies to Clint Eastwood.

Just some of the other events and milestones we reported on included the acts of kindness of many of our citizens. It seems as if someone is always doing something to benefit the residents of the local nursing home. We are always helping a neighbor in their time of need, or loss, or sorrow.

There are many groups that take care of our citizens. There is the formalized programs offered by the Council on Aging, the Health Unit, the Sheriff’s Department and many church groups. Then there is the less formal work of the Wise Ones Working, the PAW Parents, Sewing God’s Love and the list seems endless.

This has been the Journal’s first year. After much debate and research, the Journal began in January making plans for the first issue. In early February 2017 it was published. Soon we discovered that there was much more happening in Red River Parish than would fit in just one issue on Wednesday. So we added a Friday edition.

Last fall we added Journal Sports and a cooperative agreement with local radio station KRRP to the list of services. We began by streaming and broadcasting Red River High School football games. What a great season the Bulldogs had.

When playoff season arrived, Journal Sports added coverage of Riverdale Academy playoff games. The Rebels had an impressive 7-0 district season and were 8-1 overall. Then basketball season began and Journal Sports was there broadcasting games of both Riverdale and Red River teams.

Thanks to you our readers we have expanded to emailing every issue to almost 1,200 people. On average we serve 8,870+ people each week. The Journal has become the primary source of news for residents of the parish as well as Red River Alumni. And we are truly grateful for you help and support.

Thank you Red River. The Journal promises there is more to come in 2018.



Sheriff’s Hunter Education Course

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Sheriff Glen Edwards would like to congratulate the thirty-two Red River Junior High students who recently completed the Louisiana Hunter’s Education Course! The training consisted of eight hours of classroom instruction, followed by a field day at the Red River Parish Sheriff’s Office firing range.

The course was led by Red River Parish Sheriff’s Office instructors Captain Tracy Scott, Lt. Roger Longino and Sgt. Johnny Tingle. This was the first time that the course was offered on the school campus.

The next course will be open to the public and is planned for fall of 2018. The specific dates and location have yet to be determined.


Red River Units Assist With Christmas Day Fire

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A family’s mobile home near Fairview Alpha was heavily damaged by a Christmas afternoon fire. The family escaped without injury. Units from Red River were called in to assist with fighting that blaze. Here is the report from the Natchitoches Sheriff’s Office.

At 4:42pm, Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Deputies, and Natchitoches Parish Fire District #9 along with mutual aid assistance from Red River Fire Units remain on the scene of a structure fire in the 1300 block of US-71 near Fairview according to the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office.

The NPSO 911 Center received the call at 3:24pm and fire units arrived on the scene within minutes at 3:29pm.

The residence owned by Travis Guin and rented by James & Cindy Wablington has received heavy fire damage.

There are no reported injuries.


A Fire to Clean Up a Fire

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When is a house fire not a fire? When it is a controlled burn.

Back on October 29th, Ken Mangham’s home on Highway 71 was severely damaged in a fire. The Red River Parish Fire Department extinguished the blaze. Mangham says they basically lost everything, although the structure was left partially standing.

Mangham conducted a controlled burn to get rid of the remains of his house. That was done on December 14th. The blaze created a large cloud of black smoke that was visible from most of Coushatta. The Journal captured the blaze in the photos accompanying this article.

Prior to setting the blaze, Mangham contacted the fire department and the sheriff to inform them of his planned actions. Mangham said when the blaze had consumed the wood; he planned to bury what remains on the property. He had not made a decision on rebuilding. Mangham said he was insured for the original fire.


Louisiana Tech Top College Value

RRPJ-Tech Best Value-17Dec27Kiplinger, the nation’s most recognized publisher of business forecasts and personal finance advice, ranked Louisiana Tech University first among Louisiana’s public colleges and universities in the magazine’s Best College Values 2018 report released today. This is the third year in a row that Kiplinger ranked the University first in the state.

Among public colleges in the United States, Louisiana Tech ranked No. 65 for in-state students and no. 52 for out-of-state students in the ranking. Tech is the only mid-size public university to be named a Kiplinger Best Value in the south-central region.

Two of Louisiana’s public universities made the Kiplinger list of 300 Best College Values for 2018. Louisiana Tech ranked at 189 in the nation and LSU at 270 when compared with public and private institutions on measures of academic quality and affordability.

“Louisiana Tech has built a national reputation for providing our students with a high quality education and college experience at an excellent value,” said Louisiana Tech President Les Guice. “The faculty and staff of Louisiana Tech have earned this and many more national accolades. Our University will continue to offer students the best academic and most innovative programs while ensuring the return on families’ educational investment is strong.”

The full rankings are available online and will appear in print in the February 2018 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. The magazine uses data on nearly 1,200 public and private four-year schools provided by Peterson’s and narrows the list based on measures of academic quality. Editors then rank each school using cost and financial aid measures. Quality criteria account for 55 percent of total points, and cost criteria account for 45 percent.

Louisiana Tech was recently ranked first in the state for student value by and second in the state on level of student loan debt by The Student Loan Report.

The University enrolled a record 12,873 students for Fall Quarter. And for the seventh consecutive year, in the mid-September release of U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 Best Colleges list, Tech was listed in the report’s highest tier of “National Universities.” Louisiana Tech is one of only two public institutions in the state to achieve the ranking.



Easier to Turn Left

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Motorists traveling south on Highway 1 at Armistead now have a left turn arrow at the traffic signal. This is a recent addition and it facilitates the left turn. Prior to the new signal, motorists had to wait to turn left until all of the oncoming traffic from I-49 had cleared.

This bottleneck was recognized by the Red River Parish Police Jury several months ago. The jury asked the highway department to put in the turn signal. Now in December the Journal noted that it had been accomplished.


ETC… for December 27th



It was a fabulous Christmas at our house. We hope yours was jolly and merry and bright. And as you start to put away the decorations for another season, we hope you remember the real reason for the celebration, which is the birth of the savior.

School is out and the children have another week to relax at home. Classes at public and private schools resume on Monday January 8th. On January 15th schools will be out for Martin Luther King Day. The next major break is February 12th through 16th when classes will dismiss for Winter Break.

Basketball continues during the break. Riverdale Academy boys and girls are scheduled to play Rebul Academy on January 2nd and Tensas Academy on January 5th. Those games are scheduled at home if the new basketball floor is finished in time.

Red River Girls have an away game Thursday January 4th at Summerfield and home on Saturday January 6th hosting Minden. The Red River Boys are scheduled to play on January 9th after the break.

Journal Sports is making plans to broadcast as many home and away basketball games as possible. We will post on our Facebook page each game day notice of the broadcast time. We will also provide a link to hear the game from your phone or other favorite device. The Facebook address is You may also hear the broadcasts by going to the Journal’s web site which is

The Red River Soccer team has a game scheduled at Minden on Friday January 5th and at Tinsley Park in Bossier City on Saturday January 6th versus Bossier High.

Public bodies have meetings scheduled during January. On Tuesday the second the Police Jury will meet on the third floor of the courthouse. Their agenda should be posted a day or so ahead on their webpage. The meeting is on Tuesday because the first Monday in the month was New Year’s Day.

The School Board will meet the following week, on Monday January 8th at the central office on Alonzo Street. Their agenda is already out and among the items for consideration is the board will elect new board officers for 2018.

And the Town Council will meet on the second Tuesday in January which is January 9th. The meeting will be at Town Hall at 5:30 pm. Their agenda will be posted on the town office door the day before.

At this time of year we are looking back at the months just past while gazing into the future. Our Friday December 29th issue will be dedicated to the year 2017. What stories make the memories, which events made a difference in our lives, and which will we remember the most? That is coming Friday December 29th to the Red River Parish Journal.

Without a moment’s hesitation we’re moving toward a new year. May 2018 bring happiness, wellness and prosperity to you and your family. Happy New Year from The Red River Parish Journal.



Agencies Cooperate to Locate Victim in Loggy Bayou

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On December 19, 2017 at approximately 9:00 a.m. a motorist flagged down a Red River Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy in the vicinity of the Loggy Bayou bridge on U.S. 71 at the Red River/Bossier Parish Line. The driver reported that she observed a pedestrian near the middle of the bridge span disappear over the guard railing and fall into Loggy Bayou. An unattended vehicle was located on the southbound shoulder of U.S. 71 on the Bossier Parish end of the bridge.

Multiple Red River Parish Sheriff’s Office units, including marine and K-9 units, were dispatched to the scene. The Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office was also contacted and responded with multiple units and marine equipment. The incident appeared to originate/occur on the Bossier Parish side of Loggy Bayou, therefore, the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office assumed the lead in the investigation.

Search efforts continued throughout the day and included the use of the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office boat/sonar and dive team, Red River Parish Sheriff’s Office human detection K-9 and the South Bossier Fire Department boat/sonar. In addition to personnel associated with the listed agencies, representatives with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Bienville Parish Fire District were also on scene. The search was suspended as nightfall approached and resumed at 7:00 a.m. on the morning of December 20, 2017. The Bienville Parish Fire/Rescue Dive Team also joined recovery efforts.

The Red River Parish Sheriff’s Office K-9 “Cephira” alerted in an area near the bridge where the individual was reported to have entered the water. The location was searched by both Bienville and Bossier Parish divers throughout the day. The murky water limited visibility and heavy log/limb debris increased search difficulty.

The victim was located by divers within the search area and recovered from the water at approximately 3:00 p.m. on day two of the search. Investigation by Bossier Parish Sheriff’s detectives is ongoing and the victim’s name is being withheld at this time.

This incident details the efforts of several neighboring agencies working together in service to the citizens of their respective communities. The personnel searched tirelessly in an effort to provide closure for family members. Additionally, the importance of situational awareness and appropriate notification of authorities by the public was highlighted by this event. Had the motorist failed to notice the individual’s actions and/or failed to call 911, authorities would have eventually located the abandoned vehicle, but would not have known to search the bayou.


Prisoner’s Children Not Forgotten at Christmas

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The Methodist Men’s group from First Methodist and Wesley Chapel churches remembered the children of prisoners in the parish jail this Christmas. The men gathered gifts for each child and presented them to the jail warden in time for the holidays.

According to Captain Joey Wiggins, parish jail warden, there are 28 boys and girls whose fathers are incarcerated this Christmas season. The Methodist Men decided to buy gifts for each child. It is an effort to assure that no one gets forgotten.

This week Warden Wiggins and two trustees, Kevin Tate and Kelvin Demery came to First Methodist and took the gifts back to the jail. They will be available for the fathers to present to their children on visiting day. No matter what their circumstances, each dad will have something to give their child for Christmas. The goal was to remember the children.

The Methodist Men’s group is open to all men in the community. They are now planning for service projects for 2018. If you would like to join, contact First Methodist Church or come to the next Men’s Breakfast on January 29th from 6:30 to 7:30 am.