What’s This in the Mail?

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Soon Red River Parish residents may be getting notices that they owe tax on purchases they thought were tax free. Notices may come by mail or to your email. You could be taxed on purchases made online or from catalogs. These purchases have traditionally been free of Louisiana sales taxes.

The Legislature in 2016 passed a law to require “remote retailers” to notify purchasers that Louisiana Use Tax may be due. This is the time those notices are being sent to purchasers.

The Journal asked Elaine Moore of the Red River Parish Sales Tax agency about the use tax. She told us it is the same as sales tax and is tax on purchases on which no sales tax had been collected at the time of purchase. Moore said her office did not have a break down of how much of the sales tax they collect resulted from online or catalog sales.

Individuals receiving such notices of tax due should file it with their Louisiana income tax return or a Consumer Use Tax Return form R-1035. And include payment with other taxes due the state. The forms are available from the state revenue department at http://www.revenue.louisiana.gov/forms.

The legislature acted in 2016 due to the shift in buying patterns away from traditional brick-and-mortar stores toward online purchases. Today online purchases are a significant portion of retail purchases. And many people began buying online because of the tax savings. Louisiana’s state sales tax is 4 percent plus the local sales tax could add another 7 percent depending upon where the purchase is made. On a $1,000 purchase, sales tax of 11 percent represents an additional $110 the buyer has to pay.


Family Fun Day at Head Start

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Parents and children had a great time on Monday at the Pine Belt Head Start center. It was Family Fun Activity Day. The children opened the program with songs, the prayer and the Pledge lead by Kentrell Williams of the 4-year old class.

Head start Director Jackie Williams welcomed the group and introduced the kids and parents to games and challenges. Williams encouraged one parent from each class at the center to put together a child’s puzzle the quickest. Somehow I got “encouraged” into the competition to represent the community. I found it amazingly difficult to assemble one of those puzzles with big wooden pieces.

Williams announced that their Mr. and Mrs. Valentines party would be after Easter. The date is April 12th. She also encouraged the parents to sign their kids up for free books through Dolly Parton’s Learning Library. The program is available to residents of the parish.

The Pine Belt Head Start Center in Coushatta is operated by the Pine Belt Multi-Purpose Agency out of Jonesboro. The local center can accommodate 50 students per school year. They follow the same school calendar as Red River Public Schools.


Benefit for Fire Victims

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There is a benefit event planned Saturday, February 3rd for Gary Pimberton and Gail Tomerlin Warrenburg. They lost their home in a fire recently, and funds raised will help them with their loss.

The event will be held at Beard’s Automotive where Gary works. A BBQ lunch will be sold beginning at 10:30. The price is $8 for chicken and sausage and all the trimmings. There will be a live auction at 1:00 pm. And a raffle will be held for a $400 gift card to Nichols. Raffle tickets are $2.

The event promises a great lunch, some fun and games, great prizes, and it is all for a worthy cause.


Rummage Sale at the HUB

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Preparations are being made for this year’s mission trip to Honduras. Social Springs Baptist Church sends members each year and it is time to begin the fundraising for the trip. Bill Davis sent The Journal details of their first event.

There will be a Rummage/Garage Sale on Friday, February 2nd and Saturday, February 3rd at the HUB/Old Gospel Music Center in Hall Summit. The sale will be held from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm both days.

Davis said that donations of items for sale are still being accepted. For information and pick-up call Judy at 318-932-3213 or 318-471-0972.

The Honduras trip is a medical missionary trip each summer. Members of several churches in this area take part.


Mark Your Calendar



Put a note on your wall calendar, or post to the door of your refrigerator, or note these dates in your phone. Here are the dates of the public meetings of interest in Red River Parish.

Monday, February 5th is both the Red River Parish Police Jury and the Red River Parish School Board. The Police Jury meets on the third floor of the courthouse. The committee meeting will be at 6:00 pm followed by the board meeting at 7:00 pm. The agenda will be posted online at the police jury site the Friday before the meeting.

The School Board will also meet on February 5th at 6:30 pm at the Administration Building on Alonzo Street. The school board normally meets the second Monday of each month, however the February meeting was moved up a week due to Winter Break February 12th through 16th. Meeting agenda is posted on the front door of the Administration Building the Friday before the meeting and on their website http://www.rrbulldogs.com.

Tuesday, February 13th is the Town Council meeting. It will be at 5:30 pm in the meeting room at Town Hall on East Carroll Street. The agenda will be posted on the Town Hall front door the day prior to the meeting.

Thursday, February 15th is the monthly meeting of the Coushatta/Red River Chamber of Commerce. They meet at noon in the police jury meeting room on the third floor of the courthouse.



ETC… for January 31st

Free Flu Shots today! The Red River Parish Health Unit is offering no cost flu vaccinations today from 1:00 to 4:30 pm. No appointment is necessary and there is no cost to the patient. Bring your Medicaid, Medicare or private insurance card. The free flu shots are a project of the Louisiana Department of Health.

Just curious! How many people who made New Year’s Resolutions are still on track. The Journal would like to know what your resolutions were and how you are holding up. Send details to TheRRJournal@gmail.com.

Met a most interesting individual the other day at the Field House. He’s Ronnie Alexander who is joining the Red River Football coaching staff as an assistant to coach John Bachman, Sr. The two coached together at football powerhouses Evangel and Calvary in Shreveport.

Did you pay your property taxes on time? The Journal noticed the other day that several people are getting late notice on property taxes. They were due at the end of 2017.

Send The Journal to family and friends. They can get local hometown news at no cost with a subscription to the Red River Parish Journal. It’s great for kids away at college, in the military, or working out of town or in another state. You are always connected to your hometown when you get timely reports of what is going on. All you have to do is go to The Journal’s home page and click on the “Subscribe” button. The website is http://www.RedRiverParishJournal.com.



LouisCBenard 2018

Citing 24 years of public service as former Natchitoches Parish Clerk of Court, Louie Bernard announced today his intention to seek the District 31 Senate seat in October of 2019. The six-parish district includes all or parts of Natchitoches, Sabine, Red River, Winn, Grant and Rapides Parishes.

“For the past twenty-four years, it has been a privilege to serve the citizens of Natchitoches Parish as Clerk of Court. As a member of the Louisiana Clerks of Court Association, I established relationships with many citizens and community leaders throughout our region. I became acutely aware of the concerns many folks have with state government and how we can be better stewards of the tax dollars we are sending to Baton Rouge,” said Bernard.

“We must foster a positive economic climate that will attract businesses to our region. We can’t do that unless we have a skilled and trained workforce that potential employers will find beneficial to their specific needs. We should continue to invest in job skills training, our technical colleges and NSU to deliver a job-ready workforce right here in Disctrict 31”

“The State that we love so much has many solutions to find, not the least of which is developing a process to plan and approve a State budget without staring every year over what has come to be called, the ‘Fiscal Cliff.’ It is irresponsible to continue with temporary fixes to a permanent and systemic problem. I will be the first to tell you that I don’t have the ‘magic’ answer to this and other issues we face. I will tell you that I will bring a common-sense style of addressing those issues and, more importantly, I will work with anyone who is ready to roll up their sleeves to help Louisiana fix them once and for all. The ability to connect with people is important to accomplishment, not just on the campaign trail, but also in working with the other elected officials in Baton Rouge with whom your elected Senator will serve.”

Bernard is a life-long member of the First United Methodist Church in Natchitoches and a proud graduate of Northwestern State University. He has been married for the past forty-four years to Gayle Haworth Bernard. They have three children and four wonderful grandchildren

“I hope to meet as many of you as is possible on the very long campaign trail ahead. Perhaps we will not agree on every issue, but you can be assured of one thing… I will always… ALWAYS… take time to listen to what you have to say on any matter that is concerning to you. I ask for your support and your prayers in this endeavor.”

The election for Senate District 31 will be held in October of 2019. Bernard is seeking the office currently held by Senator Gerald Long who is term limited.


Red River Industries has King Cakes

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Joe Gambino’s Bakery in New Orleans calls their cakes “The King of King Cakes.” They are world famous and that great Mardi Gras tradition is now available here in Red River Parish.

Red River Industries has received their limited supply of Gambino’s King Cakes. They are now on sale for $25. Add that special touch to your Mardi Gras celebration, or just have one for desert.

Here is a little bit of history and tradition from New Orleans Showcase website:
“Mardi Gras season begins on January 6, of each year and ends on Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent. One of the wonderful traditions of Mardi Gras, and probably the most delicious, is the King Cake.

On the Christian calendar, the 12th day after Christmas is celebrated as the date that the gift-bearing Magi visited the baby Jesus. The celebration of this event has evolved over the centuries, with each culture adding its own unique rituals. The New Orleans tradition is believed to have begun in the 1870’s. As part of this celebration, it is now traditional to bake a cake in honor of the three kings – the King Cake. King Cakes are oval-shaped to symbolize the unity of faiths. Each cake is decorated in the traditional Mardi Gras colors – purple representing justice, green representing faith, and gold representing power. A small baby, symbolizing the baby Jesus, is traditionally hidden inside each King Cake.

The Journal purchased a King Cake from Red River Industries strictly for quality control reasons! Yum.  Nuf said! Oh, you have to insert the baby yourself.


Red River Schools Get Nearly $215,000 in Education Grants

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This was a good week for the Red River Parish School Board. They were awarded $214,757.00 in federal grants to help our schools. The Journal reported over the past year that the board was making application for the grants. This week they were awarded.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) voted on Wednesday to allocate Red River Parish $120,514.00 for a program to implement initiatives to improve the reading and writing skills of struggling students. The money comes from the Struggling Readers Comprehensive Literacy program. It is a three-year, $55,500.000.00 federal grant to the state. The money Red River was awarded comes from the first year allocation.

The other award was recently approved by the Louisiana Department of Education and is part of grants to 19 school systems in the state. The education department said they are for a renewed approach to school turnaround in the area of the Every Student Succeeds Act, a federal program. The grant of $94,243.00 to Red River Parish schools was part of an $8,000,000.00 funding package approved by the BESE board at it’s meeting this week.


Can’t Go to The Game? Listen Live

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Both Red River and Riverdale Academy basketball teams are having a great year. And you can be court-side even if you cannot attend the games. Listen on Journal Sports and hear the games as they are played.

Friday night both schools are playing. Red River has boys and girls district games against Lakeview. The game will be played at Lakeview. Riverdale will be at home Friday hosting district games against Central School.

Saturday Riverdale Academy is at home. They host Northeast Baptist School from West Monroe. Riverdale was victorious when the teams met earlier in the season. Saturday’s games begin with JV playing at 2:00 and varsity games to follow.

Tuesday evening, January 30th Riverdale will be at home playing Tensas Academy. They went to Tensas earlier in the season. Those are district games. Also Tuesday Red River will be at home for games against Calvary Baptist. Varsity games begin at 6:00 pm.

Get your sports live instead of the next week. Journal Sports provides live coverage of both Riverdale Academy and Red River High basketball games. Jared Smelser provides the play-by-play for Riverdale games and John Brewer will bring you the Red River games. A link and game notification will be posted on Facebook/RedRiverParishJournal before each contest.   You can also go to http://www.RedRiverParishJournal.com and choose your game – Red River Basketball or Riverdale Basketball.


Real ID Deadline Extended

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If you have not updated your driver’s license, the deadline for converted to a “Real ID” has been extended. The new deadline is in October.

In a news release, The Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles reported:
Real ID credentials have been issued since October 3, 2016, and they are awaiting official confirmation from DHS that we are in full compliance. Louisiana has been in continuous contact with DHS, who has confirmed that the determination of compliance has been forwarded to the Secretary for official approval.

Although Louisiana is awaiting approval, DHS is in recognition of the coming enforcement deadline therefore has used there delegate authority to immediately grant an extension which will be valid through October 10, 2018. This means Louisiana citizens will still be allowed to use a non-expired Louisiana driver’s license or identification card for domestic air travel even if it has not been marked with a Real ID symbol.


ETC… for Jan 26th



A reminder that the Food for Seniors distribution of food boxes will take place on Monday, January 29th from 8: 30 to 11:00 am. Look at The Journal’s January 19th issue for details on re-certifying or signing up for the COA’s Food for Seniors Program.

Northwestern State was tops among the Louisiana institutions and third overall with 101 student-athletes qualifying for the Fall 2017 Southland Conference Commission’s Honor Roll recognizing outstanding academic achievement. The Fall Commissioner’s Honor Roll recognizes student-athletes in the sports of men’s cross-country, women’s cross country, football, soccer and volleyball who maintain at least a 3.00 grade point average in the semester of their sport.

The full audit of the Red River Parish School Board is now available on the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s web page. Go to http://www.lla.la.gov if you would like to review the latest audit of the board. See The Journal’s January 12th edition for details.

A busy day for Red River firefighters Tuesday of this week. Chief Shane Felts says there were 3 calls. One was to a brush fire on Social Springs road around the gravel pit. Also Louisiana Forestry was doing a control burn on St. Mary Church Road, which resulted in lots of smoke around neighboring homes.

Firefighters and EMS were called to a two-vehicle wreck on US 71 south between Conoco and the Country Market. State Police report no injuries in that accident. It did back up traffic for a while until the damaged vehicles could be cleared.


Railroad Repairs to Disrupt Traffic Through Monday

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The state Department of Transportation has announced road closings in Red River Parish for repair work by the Union Pacific Railroad. The UP has been replacing the crossties and is making repairs to grade crossings along Highway 1 for the past two weeks. Repairs to the major crossings in the parish will be made over the next week.

Tomorrow, Jan 25th repairs will be made to the crossing on US 371 at Armistead. Friday Jan 26th the crossing on Highway 177 going to Evelyn will be made. The crossing on US 84 headed to Mansfield will be repaired on Saturday. And next Monday the UP will repair the crossing in the curve on Highway 1 at Armistead.

Here are the details from DOTD concerning each crossing effected:

CLOSURE: Union Pacific RR crossing on US 371 in Red River Parish:

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development advises motorists that on Thursday, January 25, 2018, the at-grade Union Pacific railroad crossing on US 371 in Red River Parish will be closed for repairs.

This closure is scheduled to last from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and will be performed weather permitting.

Alternate Route: Total road closure. ALL traffic will be detoured to LA 1 to LA 177

ROAD CLOSURE: Union Pacific RR crossing on LA 177 in Red River Parish

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development advises motorists that on Friday, January 26, 2018, the at-grade Union Pacific railroad crossing on LA 177 in Red River Parish will be closed for repairs.

This closure is scheduled to last from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and will be performed weather permitting.

Alternate Route: Total road closure. ALL traffic will be detoured to LA 1 to US 371.

ROAD CLOSURE: Union Pacific RR crossing on US 84 in Red River Parish

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development advises motorists that on Saturday, January 27, 2018, the at-grade Union Pacific railroad crossing on US 84 in Red River Parish will be closed for repairs.

This closure is scheduled to last from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and will be performed weather permitting.

Alternate Route: Total road closure. ALL traffic will be detoured to LA 509 to I-49.

ROAD CLOSURE: Union Pacific RR crossing on LA 1 in Red River Parish

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development advises motorists that on Monday, January 29, 2018, the at-grade Union Pacific railroad crossing on LA 1 in Red River Parish will be closed for repairs.

This closure is scheduled to last from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and will be performed weather permitting.

Alternate Route: Total road closure. ALL traffic will be detoured to LA 174 to I-49.


Flu Outbreak Highest Since 2008-09 Outbreak

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The occurrence of the flu in Red River Parish is as severe as in other parts of the state and nation. However an official of the Department of Public Health says it is not any less either.

Dr. Martha White is Regional Medical Director of 9 northwest Louisiana parishes, including Red River. She told The Journal, “About 11 percent of Doctors and Hospital Visits are due to the flu. It has not been that high since the H1N1 flu outbreak in 2008-09.”

“Louisiana is on track to have 600 to 700 deaths by the end of the flu season,” said Dr. White. “We’re not there yet, that is just a projection.” She added, “Many of the deaths that occur are the result of a complication in the form of pneumonia or other disease.”

About the current flu vaccine, Dr. White said, “The flu shot is 30 to 60 percent effective. Getting the shot will decrease the length of the illness and lessens the severity of the attack. A person who received the flu vaccine is less likely to get a secondary infection.”

Note: Red River Parish is in La region 7. The state health department report our region is as hard hit as any region in the state. The graphs published with this article show the rates of flu outbreak throughout the US. The Journal did not find a chart displaying only Louisiana data, however information reviewed leads to the conclusion that a similar rate of cases is occurring in this state.

Recently The Journal reported that the Red River Parish Health Unit has flu vaccine available for qualified recipients. Check with your physician or pharmacy concerning flu vaccine availability.


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Library Board to Demolish Old Houses

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The Library Board of Control voted this week to move forward with demolition of two old houses located on property recently purchased. One house is behind the library on Alonzo Street. The other is beside the library on East Carroll Street.

The board voted to get costs of demolition and also get cost estimates on building a wrought iron fence around the library’s property. Discussion at the board’s meeting centered on the desire of board members to build a fence similar to the one erected by First Baptist Church on lots nearby.

It was decided to offer the fire department the two houses for training purposes. Almost a year ago the fire department burned the old Thomas house on Baptist church property across Alonzo Street from the library.

Librarian Trey Lewis conducted a tour of the two houses for board members following their meeting. Lewis pointed out that the houses had been gutted with cabinets, bathroom fixtures, water heaters, ceiling lights, and other items removed.

Once costs for the demolition and fence are obtained they will be presented to the library board at a future meeting.


More Changes Coming to Education

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For the last few years there have been many changes to the education landscape in the state. And more are on the way. An official of the state education department presented the latest update at this month’s board meeting.

Dana Tally is a Network Leader with the Louisiana Department of Education. She works with the local board on curriculum and testing standards. At the meeting Tally told the board, “There have been a lot of changes in the last few years. The department has implemented new standards and created new assessments. And there are new curriculum resources available.”

Tally said, “The final step is a change in how we measure districts and schools.” She referred to the old accountability system that considered a school an “A” school if a majority of students scored BASIC on the LEAP tests. Tally told the board, “We are redefining an ‘A’ school. It is now a school I which the majority of students score MASTERY on LEAP. This means that the students are ready to go on to the next level.”

The changes assign less points to Basic and Mastery and more points to Advanced. Tally said, “The emphasis in now on how many students are growing. Progress indexes will now show where schools are plus what letter grade they get for growth.”

“Expect a decline in scores of local schools because of the changes the state education department has made to the formula.” Tally reassured the board that standards are now consistent and assessments are stable. She added “OK now let’s see what growth we have now that we are measuring apples to apples.”


A Scam of a Scam

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Every once in a while a person has to ask themselves “Who would fall for this?” Unfortunately the answer is “Lots of people!” It has come to The Journal’s attention that a new scam being floated by email pretends that it will reward you as the victim of a scam!

The body of the message goes like this:
“Attention E-mail Address Owner,

“Sequel to the meeting held today with Federal Bureau of Investigation, The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is compensating all the scam victims and your name and email address was found in the scam victims list.

“However, we have concluded to effect your payment through Western Union Money Transfer, $5,000 daily until the total sum of your compensation fund is transferred to you.”

Keep reading your email and you will find the return address is Plot 1261 in the Republic of Benin. Could the address be a cemetery plot? Google Benin and you’ll find it to be a west African nation that is the birthplace of vodun religion. That’s voodoo!

It gets even better. The contact person is Sir Innocent Johnson, Director of Western Union Money Transfer Head office Benin Republic.

Quite creative. A scan that declares you are a scam victim and you have money coming! $5,000 a day! Wow, I’ll be rich!



Meet the newest member of the Louisiana Tech family: Tech XXII

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Saturday, Louisiana Tech University introduced the newest member of its family: Tech XXII. The son of Tech XXI, Tech XXII is 14 months old and weighs 36 pounds, a healthy, sweet, friendly, energetic English Bulldog.

“We have a long history of having distinguished live mascots to represent Louisiana Tech,” said President Les Guice. “Tech XXII will continue that legacy and represent the best qualities of our current students and alumni. His presence at games and University events will enrich our experiences and create lasting memories.”

Tech XXII closely resembles his father and will share the spotlight with Champ, the University’s costumed mascot. He will live with a local family with strong ties to Louisiana Tech.


ETC… for January 24th



Here is something uplifting and entertaining to do tonight. – The duo of Willis Deloney and Adam Unsworth will perform at Northwestern State University Wednesday, Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m. in Magale Recital Hall. Admission is free and open to the public.

Winter Break is coming. Schools will be out February 12th through 16th. The school board is moving the date of its February meeting from the 12th to February 5th. The meeting will be held at the School Board Central Office on Alonzo Street beginning at 6:30 pm. The meeting is open to the public.

The library suffered a computer and phone outage on Monday. The library posted on social media that a computer hack took down service at mid-morning. In the afternoon the library posted that things were back to normal. However, The Journal checked and as of Tuesday morning the phones were working but computer service had not been restored. Call the library at 932-5614 to check their status.

The Red River Parish School Board is accepting applications for several teaching positions. Check out their Facebook page or contact the Central Office for more details.