Red River Schools Get Education Department Grants

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Red River Schools has been approved for two programs through the Louisiana Department of Education. Approval came from the Education Department last week. They total $99,599.00.

The Education Department approved plays submitted by 44 school systems, including Red River Parish, for improving persistently struggling schools. The news release from the Education Department said, “The grants are a key component of the state’s renewed approach to school turnaround in the era of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).”

State Superintendent John White said, “The process of improving persistently struggling schools will take time, but the plans we have seen are inspiring. It is great to see so many of our school leaders thinking boldly on behalf of the students who need it most. We look forward to the progress that will follow.”

One of the grants to Red River schools is for $94,243.00 and the other is for $5,356.00 for a total of $99,599.00. Approval by the state Department of Education came after the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) voted on June 20th to approve nearly $15,000,000.00 in funding for grants to 44 school systems in Louisiana.

Red River Students Attend Boys and Girls State

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Each year the local American Legion unit sends area students to participate in Boys State and Girls State. This year’s event is being held at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches.

Rhoda Bethard is the Boys and Girls State Rep for Post 118 of the American Legion and Auxiliary. Bethard said “This summer the post is sending Kyle Cason from Riverdale and Logan Smith from Central School to Boys State. The Auxiliary is sending Charli Williams and Teana Eason, both students at Red River High School, to Girls State. One additional participant was selected, however they were unable to attend.”

Louisiana Boys and Louisiana Girls State programs are held June 24-30. It is a summer leadership and citizenship program sponsored by the American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary for high school students between their junior and senior year. The programs are being held concurrently on the NSU campus.

Participants – called citizens — in each program are divided into groups and elect mock municipal officials and representative to a mock state legislature. They also elect state officials who meet to hold elections and pass bills in a manner similar to the actual Louisiana legislature. The program is intended to teach high-achieving students to be informed citizens while developing a sense of community, service and responsibility. More than 1,000 students, along with about 80 counselors and junior counselors and dozens of Legion and Auxiliary staff participate in each program.

An American Legion Post, local business or a community-based organization sponsors delegates. Bethard said “The Bank of Coushatta sponsored one Boy’s State and one Girl’s State participant. Other local sponsors sending one delegate each are Bethard and Bethard Attorneys at Law, Ed Lester Farms, Les Gray at American Bank and Trust Company, and Ray and Connie Mabile at Mabile’s Pharmacy.”

Unlike most other sponsoring American Legion Posts, the Coushatta post and auxiliary pay all of the expenses for the students it sends to Boys and Girls State. In addition the local sponsors provide a banquet and reception honoring the participants after school resumes in the fall.”

ETC… for June 27th


This week Martin Baptist Church is holding Vacation Bible School. They are meeting nightly through June 29th from 5:30 to 8:30. Classes are for kids in Kindergarten through grade 6.

Amazing Grace Baptist Church notified The Journal that they are holding Vacation Bible School July 18th through 20th. This year’s theme is Hero Central. There will be a fun day on July 21st and the program on Sunday, July 22nd.

Residents of Red River Parish who qualify can get food boxes from Pine Belt, located at the Fairgrounds. Qualification is based upon size of household and income. But everyone has to recertify at this time of year. Call Pine Belt at 932-3639 for more information.

Defiance Energy Resources has opened a Coushatta office on Ringgold Avenue. They are currently seeking qualified truck drivers.

The State Board of Regents has approved a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance at Northwestern State University. The new program will begin this fall and is the only one of its kind at a public university in Louisiana.

Here Comes The Back To School Bash

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Returning back to school can be a stressful time for parents and children. Between finding new outfits and supplies the costs add up. However, the Red River School Board is trying to help diminish the cost through their Back to School Bash on July 30.

Items are supplied to all Red River Parish Students free of charge.

“It’s a joint effort, we have local business members who are our community partners and we have local churches who are doing supply drives,” said Superintendent Alison Hughes.

The Back to School Bash will also feature food, haircuts and other activities. Hughes is expecting roughly 1,500 individuals to attend, an increase from 1,200 last year.

Junior High Attends National Beta Convention

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Beta Club members from Red River Junior High have just returned from the National Junior BETA Club national convention in Savannah, Georgia. This report is from Mike Peter, Principal of the Junior High.

Members participated in club activities, club dances, watched presentations and performances by other member from all over the US. When they were not in session, members got to experience some of the fun things in east Georgia. We went to the Atlanta Zoo, The World of Coca-Cola, Georgia Aquarium, CNN Studio Tours, a water park, and lastly, the National MLK Center in Atlanta.

The students and chaperones also participated in a zombie 5K at the BETA convention. Many networking opportunities were formed as well as lessons learned from the field trips.

Next years National BETA club convention will be in Oklahoma City, OK. Anyone interested in pictures of the national BETA scene can google #betacon18.

Vacation Bible School at the Nursing Home

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It has been said that one is never too old to learn. And never too old to have fun. Senior citizens residing in the local nursing home had an opportunity to do both this week. This is the week for Vacation Bible School at Green Meadow Haven.

Most folks remember going to VBS as a child. There are many children in our parish enjoying VBS this summer. They are making crafts, singing songs, hearing inspiring Bible stories, eating snacks and having a great time with their friends. Even after 50 or 60 years or more time has passed, vacation Bible school still evokes fond memories.

Back in 2010, parish resident Sharon Adkins came up with the idea of turning those great memories into a real experience. As Yogi Berra would say “It’s déjà vu all over again.” Adkins has been helping residents relive those great memories every year since. For the 2018 edition, Adkins received the assistance of members of several area churches including Crossroads Methodist, First Methodist, First Baptist, and Wesley Chapel.

On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week it is Vacation Bible School for Green Meadow Haven residents. They meet in the dining room about 1:30 and sing familiar old hymns. This year Adkins has added what she calls “some silly songs.” They are songs that kids sing like “This Little Light of Mine” that are not in todays hymnal.

There were Bible stories told after the singing. They brought great inspiration and a laugh or two.

On Wednesday, ladies from the Sewing God’s Love house came to help residents with their arts and crafts project. They made and decorated visors to keep the sun out of the residents’ eyes when they would go outside. Or just to cut down the glare from some of the bright ceiling lights.

And of course there were sweet treats. Lots of cookies and other goodies were passed out to be enjoyed with a cup of coffee from the home’s never empty coffee pot.

The Bible school sessions only lasted a couple of hours. The memories made having fund with friends will last much longer than that.

School Land Purchase

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Red River High School will be seeing new updates to its athletic facilities within the next year. At the June meeting, the school board approved the purchase of nearly 28 acres behind the high school to build a new baseball, softball, seven track and field complexes, as well as a football practice field.

The purchase will cost the district roughly $161,000 for the land and the lumber on the property. The land is located behind the current football stadium and will benefit the junior high school as well.

The land is expected to come into their possession sometime within the next few weeks and bids will begin to come in to the board in July for the baseball and softball complexes. Groundbreaking would begin in August.

Meanwhile, the move of temporary buildings is almost complete. The T-buildings that housed classes for sixth graders are being moved from the west side of the campus to the old tennis courts behind the cafeteria. That is where sixth graders will go to school while a new sixth grade academy is being constructed.

Folk Festival Scheduled Next Month

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The 39th Annual Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival will be held on July 20-21 in air conditioned Prather Coliseum located at 220 South Jefferson Street on the Northwestern State University campus in Natchitoches. The Festival will be on Friday, July 20 from 4:30 p.m. until 10:15 p.m. and on Saturday, July 21 from 8 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. The family-oriented festival is wheelchair accessible.

Pictured are the Louisiana Czech Heritage Dancers. Photo by David Holocombe.

Children 12 and under are admitted free. Tickets are $13 for a two-day pass, available in advance only, or $10 at the door for all events on Saturday or $6 for a one-time evening pass to all events after 5 p.m. For advance tickets or more information, call (318) 357-4332, email, or go to

The 2018 Festival theme is Celebrating Louisiana’s Folk Roots. “This year’s theme acknowledges 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 festival and NSU’s Louisiana Folklife Center. “Louisiana’s folkways are not just of the past, but also of the present, and the voices of these artists emerge as a clarion call, reminding us of the vibrancy of traditional culture.”

Friday evening is a dance, featuring free Cajun dance lessons, traditional Cajun music by Donny Broussard and the Louisiana Stars and the Jambalaya Cajun Band, blues with Hardrick Rivers and the Rivers Revue and Celtic music by Smithfield Fair.

The festival offers three stages of music on Saturday with free zydeco dancing lessons, Cajun music by the Choupique Cajun Band and the Huval-Fusilier Trio, zydeco by Joe Hall and the Cane Cutters, blues by Lil’ Buck Sinegal, rockabilly by Jim Oertling, and French Creole la la music by Goldman Thibodeaux and the Lawtell Playboys. There will also be traditional Americana music by Sabra and the Get Rights, a Hank Williams tribute by Hugh Harris and the Drifting Cowboys, a demonstration by the Louisiana Czech Heritage Dancers, and swamp pop by Johnny Earthquake and the Moondogs with special guests James Burton, Estelle Brown and Jo-El Sonnier. Friday and Saturday will also feature acoustic open jam sessions, as well as numerous food vendors. Saturday’s outdoor activities include demonstrations of traditional blacksmithing and black pot cooking.

The Annual Louisiana State Fiddle Championship will also be part of the Festival. The Fiddle Championship will be held July 21 at 1 p.m. in Magale Recital Hall. There will be a non-championship class and a championship class. Registration is at noon in the first floor foyer outside Magale Recital Hall. The Fiddle Championship winner will perform on the main stage in Prather Coliseum at 5 p.m.

The Festival includes several opportunities for patrons to engage directly with Louisiana folk culture. On Saturday, July 21, fiddlers Gina Forsyth, David Greely and Terry Huval will conduct a Cajun fiddler workshop. Participants in this interactive workshop will learn and trade tricks, techniques and theories with these master artists. Participation in the Cajun fiddle workshop will be free for members of the Festival audience.

“The Festival attempts to bridge the distance between artists and the Festival patrons, thus breaking the artificial barriers between artists and audience,” said Rasmussen. “Rather than watching from the sidelines, everyone who takes part in these activities will share and engage in Louisiana’s rich culture.”

Narrative sessions will include programs on the legacy of folk artist Clementine Hunter, traditional crafts such as bousillage and coopering, folk stories and family history, blues music, Cajun music, zydeco music and music informances by John de Chiaro and Smithfield Fair. Saturday will also feature a guitar Q&A with James Burton, and “Memories of the King” with Estelle Brown of the Sweet Sensations and Burton recalling their time performing with Elvis Presley.

More than 70 crafts vendors have been invited to display their traditional work on Saturday and discuss their work with those attending the Festival. Craftspeople are expected to display beadwork, baskets, music instruments, Pysanky eggs and pottery. Other expected craftspeople will display filé making, needlework, wood carvings, handmade toys and dolls, paintings, sculpture, homemade lye soap, spinning & weaving, white oak baskets, master accordion maker, handmade dream catchers, handcrafted knives, handmade wooden furniture, walking sticks, folk art quilts and more.

KidFest will once again be available on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Kidfest is an area dedicated to child-friendly activities and is a fun way for children to examine their own cultural and family traditions as well as those from around the state.

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

Truck Load of Paper Leaves the Road

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Early Wednesday morning an 18-wheeler loaded with rolls of paper ended up in a ditch on LA 1 just south of the Caddo Parish line. It took a good part of the day to get everything cleaned up.

Sheriff’s Deputies directed traffic around the wreckers from the towing company out of Minden that was called in. One of the workers said that the paper rolls had to be unloaded from the overturned trailer, then loaded onto a flatbed trailer and carried away.

Then the overturned truck could be righted and moved from the scene.

The accident was said to have occurred about 6:00 am Wednesday morning. State police investigated he accident.

ETC… for June 22nd


There is only about a week left to recertify for the food boxes from Pine Belt. Call 932-3639 for details.

Saturday there is a fish fry fundraiser put on by the Riverdale cheer group. Fish and all the trimmings at $10 per plate. They will be in the parking lot by the glass shop across from the Chevron station.

A Prayer Chain is forming for this weekend at Abundant Life. Details on their Facebook post. The chain is from 7:00 pm Saturday June 30th until 10:30 am on Sunday.

Next Monday Harvey Rabbit and Friends will be at the Red River Parish Library. They are a returning act from last summer. It’s all part of the library’s summer reading program for kids.