Pack Today and Distribute Monday

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This morning volunteers will pack up to 1,000 backpacks at the gym of Red River High. The packing party is from 8:30 am until noon. They are preparing for the second annual Back to School Bash.

Superintendent Alison Hughes issued this statement on the Monday event:

“We are very excited to announce that we will be hosting our 2nd annual Back To School Bash at Red River High School on Monday, July 30th at 5:30.

“We will be offering backpacks filled with supplies for grades Pre-K thru 8. Student’s grades 9-12 will be receiving bags filled with the supplies they need for the upcoming school year.

“We will also be very excited to offer free haircuts, school uniforms, access to community agencies and vendors, as well as a hot dog dinner and other fun activities.

“Last year this event was attended by over 1200 students, parents, and community members. Let’s make this year even bigger as we start our new school year of ensuring that every student has what they need to be successful.”


United Way Contributes to Back to School BASH

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United Way of Northwest Louisiana will help hundreds of families in Red River Parish by offering free backpacks and school supplies. The United Way ALICE study of financial hardship says 54 percent of children living in Red River Parish are unprepared for kindergarten and 48 percent of third graders are scoring below grade level – both decreased numbers from the previous year. It is the goal of United Way NWLA to help children become prepared for school so they can focus on learning once inside the classroom.

United Way NWLA will also celebrate the first full year since the launch of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Red River Parish. Since the programs introductory year, more than 100 children have had access to brand new, age-appropriate books at no cost to them. Through the program, a child receives a new book every month until their fifth birthday in preparation for kindergarten. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is sponsored by BHP in Red River Parish.

United Way’s 2nd Annual Back to School Bash will distribute more than 1,000 backpacks with school supplies to ensure Red River Parish Public School students are prepared to learn. There will also be community resource vendors plus food and games for families. The event will be held Monday, July 30, 2018 from 5:30 – 8pm.

Weather is Hot But Don’t Burn

RRPJ-Burn Ban Updated-18Jul27

There is some relief from the heat coming in the next few days according to the National Weather Service. However our area remains very dry causing many parishes and counties to issue bans on outdoor burning.

The Red River Parish burn ban was issued Monday morning. Red River was the first parish in northwest Louisiana to issue the ban on burning. Shortly after 9:00 am Monday The Journal was notified of the ban by the fire department. The statement from Fire Chief Shane Felts said that no outdoor burning of any kind would be permitted in the parish until further notice.

By Monday afternoon Caddo Parish was added to the list of parishes and counties with a ban in effect. The updated map from the National Weather Service on Thursday shows the burn ban is spreading like wildfire.

There has been very little rain in recent days and the “Fire Danger” signs have been set on “extreme” as a reminder of the danger of wildfires. The regional forecast includes only a slight chance of rain in our region over the next few days. And it will continue to be very hot. Heat advisories have been posted nearly every day this week, including into Friday.

Fun Day Tomorrow

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From Pastor Larry Sales and Chris Hoppock.
On July 28th the Pentecostals of Martin will be hosting a Kids/Youth Fun Day. Everyone is invited to come out to the church, located at 159 Kellogg Road, and enjoy a day of food, fun and fellowship. Though this event is being hosted for the children of the community, all are invited to come out and enjoy the fun.

The church will provide food and games for the children and youth. There will also be inflatable water slides. It is asked of anyone planning to enjoy the water slides that they please dress modestly, as this is an event sponsored by a Christian church.

The following morning, after Sunday morning service, the church will be passing out assorted school supplies for all school-aged children. The child must be present in order to receive school supplies. The Pentecostals of Martin is an Apostolic church with services packed with powerful anointed singing and passionate revival preaching. All are invited to join us at any regular service as we gather to enter into the presence of God.

Church contact information:
Pastor Larry Sales
Facebook: The Pentecostals of Martin

RRPJ-Pentecostals of Martin BOTTOM-18Jul27

ETC… for July 27th


The Louisiana Department of Health reminds us to take precautions dealing with the extreme heat we are getting this summer. Among their suggestions are drink plenty of liquids, wear loose fitting clothing, and stay out of the heat and do not engage in physical activities in the heat of the day. They also suggest you check on your neighbors, especially those who are elderly and those living along.

The area folks on this year’s mission trip have arrived. Bro James Hester posted, “Feet on the ground in Honduras. Hands reaching out to serve. Lips proclaiming the Gospel. Names written down in glory. The first three things we an do. Only God can do the last one. When we do what we can, He is faithful to do what only He can. It works at home too.”

First Methodist Church invites men in the community to join them for breakfast Monday, July 30th. Breakfast will be served at the Parsonage next to the church beginning at 6:30 am.

Lunch Price Going Up

RRPJ-COA Meeting-18Jul25

The price of a meal at the Red River Council on Aging will increase on September 1st. For the past fifteen years the daily meal contribution has been $3.00. The COA Board voted July 17th to make the increase to $4.00.

Letters are being distributed to patrons having lunch at the Depot Diner on Front Street and to recipients of the Meals on Wheels lunches. The letters explain that the actual cost of serving a hot meal in the diner is $11.60 and the cost of providing the meal to home bound participants is actually $17.48.

At the Board meeting Executive Director Liz Cannon explained the financial situation facing the Council on Aging. Cannon said during the past 12 months 13,706 meals were served in the diner and an additional 11,783 meals were delivered to homes. The total is 25,489 hot meals served to persons 60 and over.

Cannon said she had reviewed minutes from board meetings going back about fifteen years and the meal donation had always been $3.00. “It is going to put a strain on some people, I know,” Cannon added “If donations don’t increase we will have to make a change in the meals program.”

Reviewing the budget situation, Cannon said, “Donations are down. Our money is the tightest it has ever been. I feel like we need to go up on the means to a $4.00 contribution.” She added, Some people receiving the meals at home are not making the $3.00 donation. I feel that some families that receive the meals could afford to pay for the meals, but they don’t make the donation,” added Cannon.

Celia Ann Norman made the motion for the meal contribution increase to $4.00 and Dianne Slatten seconded it. The board approved the motion with no dissenting votes. Nutrition Director Michael Braswell sent out the notices to patrons of the meals program. He noted, “A portion of this cost is partially funded through the Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs. The funding, however, does not meet the full cost of the program. That is why your contributions are so important.”

Four School Board Members Face Opposition

RRPJ-Local Elections-18Jul25

The final list of qualifiers for local elections this fall show four of the seven Red River Parish School Board members facing opposition. The other three had no challengers.

District 1 member Gene Longino, District 2 member Ricky Cannon, and District 3 member Gary Giddens did not get an opponent. That means they are in effect elected to another term.

In District 4, Incumbent Cleve Miller faces a challenge from John Lewis. Kasandria White, member from District 5 will run against Donald Everett. Valeria Cox, the representative from District 6 is being challenged by Andre’ Cole. And to represent District 7, Susan Taylor will face Chandra Wilson. The current school board with Superintendent Alison Hughes is pictured below.

The other local race is for Mayor of Hall Summit. Current Mayor William Lary Wimberly is being challenged by Danny Rex Scott. All other officials of Hall Summit face no opposition. Police Chief Charles Loftin is unopposed as are the three Aldermen Babara Perrin, Kathleen J. Quick and Antony Thomas.

Only one person qualified for the position of Constable Justice of the Peace District C. Sharon Moore Bradley was the only person to qualify.

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Band Camp a Success

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For the past two weeks members of the Red River High School Bulldog band have been meeting every day for their annual camp. Here is the story from Band Director Yasmine Jason.

The band completed a successful Band camp on July 20, 2018. The band had camp for two weeks, every day, from 8am-5pm. The band was pushed to learn the songs that they will play this year for football season and what they will perform in competitions.

Band members this year had to be more flexible in rehearsal space due to the construction being done at Red River. The normal band hall was unavailable due to electricity being turned off for construction safety. Band members had to be versatile and rehearse in numerous different areas on campus, including high school classrooms.

“I’m extremely thankful for the administration here at the high school for being so flexible and helpful in making sure Band Camp was a success for the students,” says Band Director Yasmine Jason, “Canceling the camp was simply not an option and the kids did a truly amazing job.”

You can see the Red River High School Bulldog Band at every football game and at parades throughout the community.


NSU Program Rated Tops in the Nation

RRPJ-Essay Contest-18Mar9

Northwestern State University’s Bachelor of Science degree in Unified Public Safety Administration was named the best overall law enforcement program in the nation and the second most affordable by The Masters of Arts in Art was ranked fourth by and fifth by The Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems was ranked eighth in the country by the

The degree program in Unified Public Safety Administration prepares students for professional careers in fire and emergency medical service administration, law enforcement administration, emergency management administration and related public safety careers.

“We are proud and honored by this ranking,” said Unified Public Safety Administration Coordinator Jack Atherton. “Graduates of this program make significant contributions to the field of public safety in Louisiana and beyond.”

ETC… for July 25th


Here is an item for your August calendar. Antioch Missionary Baptist Church is having Homecoming on August 26th. Sunday School will be at 9:45, Service at 11:00 with a lunch after. Todd Pickard will be the visiting preacher for the homecoming observance.

The start of school is upon us. Teachers go back and preparatory work begins as early as July 30th for some. First day for children is August 7th.

Football jamborees will be held soon. The first game for Riverdale Academy is August 17th. Red River’s first game is August 31st.

Also in August will be these public meetings:
The Police Jury is Monday August 6th at 6:00 pm at the courthouse.
The School Board meets Monday August 13th at 6:30 at the school Administration building on Alonzo Street.
Coushatta Town Council meets at Town Hall on Tuesday August 14th at 5:30.

Burning Ban

RRPJ-Area Burn Bans-18Jul23

Red River Parish is now under a burn ban. Shortly after 9:00 am this morning The Journal was notified of the ban by the fire department. The statement from Fire Chief Shane Felts said that no outdoor burning of any kind would be permitted in the parish until further notice.

This afternoon Caddo Parish was added to the list of parishes and counties with a burn ban in effect. That happened shortly after the map accompanying this article was updated by the weather service.

There has been very little rain in recent days and the “Fire Danger” signs have been set on “extreme” as a reminder of the danger of wildfires. And not much is in the forecast for the next few days.

Attorney General Probes 911 District

RRPJ-911 AG Prove-18Jul20

The Louisiana Attorney General is investigating the former Administrator of the Red River Parish Communications District. The AG’s office has received the report of the Louisiana Legislative Auditor that the former Administrator issued herself 10 extra paychecks amounting to over $17,000 in 2017.

Red River Parish District Attorney Julie Jones told The Journal they are working with the Attorney General on the matter. Jones said, “They will review the audit. They will make a thorough investigation of the results.” Jones said, “I will meet with them and review their findings and then take appropriate action.”

Jones said she has worked closely with the Legislative Auditor and Attorney General’s office. “I am very pleased with the help from the state agencies in the matter.”

Former Administrator Jennifer Mahfouz was terminated on April 8th after the Communication District’s contract auditor found irregularities in district payroll records. The CPA turned the matter over to the Legislative Auditor on March first. The report issued this week found that at lest 10 paychecks totaling over $17,000 were issued early by Mahfouz and that electronic accounting records had been altered in an attempt to cover up the discrepancies. Mahfouz told the auditors she did not realize she received extra paychecks and does not know how she overpaid herself.

Last Day to Qualify for Fall Elections

RRPJ-Election Qualifying-18Jul20

There will be a local election for members of the Red River Parish School Board and officials of the Village of Hall Summit on November 11th. But today is the last day to qualify for those races.

All seven members of the school board have qualified to run for reelection. Three of them have opponents. Anyone wishing to get into the school board race or other local contests have until 4:30 pm today to qualify. Go to the Clerk of Court’s office in the courthouse to fill out qualifying paperwork.

In the race for the school board, here is the list of candidates as of late Thursday:
District 1 – Gene Longino. He is unopposed.
District 2 – Richard “Ricky” Cannon. He is unopposed.
District 3 – Gary Giddens. He is unopposed
District 4 – Two candidates. Incumbent Cleve Miller has qualified. And John Lewis has filed for the seat also.
District 5 – Two candidates. Incumbent Kasandria White has qualified. And Donald Everett has also qualified.
District 6 – Valerie Cox. She is unopposed.
District 7 – Two candidates. Incumbent Susan Taylor has qualified. And she is opposed by Chandra Wilson.

There are positions to be filled in the Village of Hall Summit. Here are the qualifiers:
Mayor – Danny Rex Scott. He is unopposed.
Chief of Police – Charles Loftin. He is unopposed.
Aldermen – Three to be elected. Only two people have qualified so far. They are Barbara Perrin and Antony Thomas.

Also on the local ballot will be Constable Justice of the Peace District C. No one has qualified as of late Thursday. There is one statewide office up for election. So far A.G. Crowe and Renee Fontenot Free have qualified for Secretary of State. And there will be a Congressional election. All members of the U.S. House of Representatives run every two years.

This information was obtained from the Secretary of State’s office in Baton Rouge. It is unofficial until after qualifying closes.


Lady Chops Puts on a Great Show

The meeting room at the Red River Parish Library was crowded Monday afternoon with excited, expectant children and parents. Lady Chops was coming to town. They were not disappointed.

Lady Chops is Elizabeth Vidos. She hails from Morgan City but now lives in Ruston. She entertained by getting all of the children involved in the show. Everything was preceded by a drum roll (patting your thighs with both hands) and a symbol crash.

Vidos explained that Chops means doing what you do the best you can. Lady Chops has been a drummer since grade school. And she was part of “Stomp” the off Broadway and touring troop for ten years. She can create music with just about anything, including drumming on arms, legs, and chest.

Check out the video of the kids making their own band. You won’t be disappointed.

The program included almost every percussion instrument you can think of. There were a couple of new ones thrown in. Lady Chops got the children involved in making music. There was instruction on how to play the various instruments, then the opportunity for the kids to try it for themselves. And that lead to the band you see performing on the video.

Lady Chops started her library touring last summer here in Coushatta. She told The Journal that this summer she is bringing her show to 90 libraries across the state. It is part of the local library’s summer reading program.

See the K-9s Next Monday

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There are some incredible canine officers working with the Red River Parish Sheriff’s Office. And there are some incredible canines as well.

The RPSO’s K-9s will be at the Library on Monday afternoon at 2:00 pm. Their handlers will put these talented dogs through their paces. Children and their parents and children are invited to see what they can do. These dogs are on duty with the sheriff’s office to help and protect the citizens of the parish.

This will be the concluding program of the Red River Parish Library’s Summer Reading Program. This summer we’ve heard stories from wonderful storyteller Sylvia Davis. We have been mystified by Great Scott Illusions. A large crowd gathered under a big shade tree in the library back yard for the Jubilee Discovery Zoo. Harvey Rabbit and Friends made a return visit on June 25th. Kids were entertained by the Red River High Band. And last week the show was all about percussion with Lady Chops.

Children’s Librarian Kala Sims is already working on the line-up for 2019. Drop by the library and let her know which shows you enjoyed and offer suggestions for next summer.

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Harrington in the Hall

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Long time Natchitoches musician, songwriter and philanthropist Rodney Harrington, singer for Johnny Earthquake and the Moondogs, will be inducted into the Louisiana Folklife Hall of Master Folk Artists at the 39th Annual Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival which will be held on July 20-21 in Prather Coliseum on the Northwestern State University campus.

In addition to being inducted into the Hall of Master Folk Artists, Harrington will perform at the Festival. On the evening of July 21 Harrington will appear along with Rock & Roll Hall of Famer guitarist James Burton, Estelle Brown of the Sweet Inspirations and Grammy winner and Cajun folk artist Jo-El Sonnier, as guests of Johnny Earthquake and The Moondogs in the Festival’s grand finale concert. The concert will include a tribute to Elvis Presley featuring a recreation of the King’s Vegas-style show.

“We are honored to induct Rodney Harrington into the Hall of Master Folk Artists,” said Dr. Shane Rasmussen, director of the Louisiana Folklife Center and the Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival. “He is not only a great musician, but his philanthropic efforts have benefited so many throughout the state. Audiences throughout the South respond so powerfully to the music of the Moondogs because of the band’s love for Louisiana culture and music. As leader of the Moondogs, Rodney has been a phenomenal cultural ambassador for Natchitoches and Louisiana.”

Harrington has been involved in music his entire life and has been an active part of the Natchitoches and Louisiana music scene for more than 30 years. During that time, Harrington’s contribution to Louisiana’s regional roots and original music have been in his various capacities as a performer, song writer, producer, attorney, concert and festival promoter and organizer, philanthropist and radio host.

Harrington helped form a popular Natchitoches group in the late 1980s called Dick Dante and the Infernos which performed for several years. In 1995, Harrington and some friends formed the group Johnny Earthquake and the Moondogs. Over their nearly 25 years of existence, the Moondogs have become a popular band not only in the Natchitoches area, but across the South. Under Harrington’s leadership, the Moondogs have managed to constantly change members (over 60 musicians have been members of the band over the years) while steadily increasing in popularity. The Moondogs have garnered numerous awards and been called by City Lights Entertainment Magazine “Quite simply Louisiana’s best show band.” Offbeat Magazine of New Orleans, a Louisiana roots magazine, in its review of one of the Moondogs’ critically acclaimed albums has observed “Tradition never sounded so good.”

Harrington has written and recorded several Louisiana and Natchitoches flavored original songs. One of them, Cane River Blues, was featured in a Hollywood movie. Various compilation albums include his songs, such as “Hey Santa” which was featured on the recent The Very Best of Louisiana Christmas, a compilation released by the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, with songs by Fats Domino, Aaron Neville, Dr. John, Brittney Spears and other Louisiana artists.

Harrington’s music related philanthropic activities have been numerous. He helped organize and for several years has served on the board of the James Burton Foundation which has provided hundreds of guitars for school children, veterans and their families and ailing children in hospitals. The Foundation has also started music programs in schools that would not otherwise have them. Harrington has also served on the board of The Friends of the Municipal Auditorium, which worked on the preservation of that historic venue and on the Board for the Ark La Tex Music Heritage Foundation, which raises money to purchase musical instruments for schools. For several years, Harrington has served as the chairman of the board for the Natchitoches Jazz and R&B Festival. Under Harrington’s leadership, the Festival has grown over the years to become one of the more popular music festivals in Louisiana and the South.

Harrington has often helped raise money for the Northwestern State University Department of Music. When the Natchitoches Central High School Orchestra needed funds to go to Carnegie Hall, Harrington organized and produced a fundraising concert which raised thousands of dollars for the trip which made it possible for many students to make the trip who otherwise would not have been able to. When Natchitoches blues artist Hardrick Rivers needed a prosthetic leg, Harrington came up with an idea for a concert called HardrickFest, which he organized and produced to raise money to purchase a prosthetic leg for Hardrick.

For the past 20 years, Harrington has hosted the syndicated radio show “Jammin’ With Johnny—The Johnny Earthquake Show.” The show, which is broadcast over much of Louisiana and into East Texas, has been rated number one in its timeslot. In addition to spotlighting and promoting area community cultural events, the show often features interviews with artists and live music in the studio featuring local and area artists. “Jammin With Johnny” is believed to be the only radio program in North and Central Louisiana that features live music on a regular basis.

The Festival will be held in air-conditioned Prather Coliseum located at 220 South Jefferson Street on the NSU campus in Natchitoches. The Festival will be held Friday, July 20 from 4:30 p.m. until 10:15 p.m. and all day on Saturday July 21 from 8 a.m. until 10:00 p.m.. The family-oriented festival is wheelchair accessible. Children 12 and under are admitted free of charge. For a full schedule of events, to purchase tickets or for more information call (318) 357-4332, send an email to, or go to

Support for the Fiddle Championship and the Festival is provided by grants from the Cane River National Heritage Area, Inc., the Louisiana Division of the Arts Decentralized Arts Fund Program, the Louisiana Office of Tourism, 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.

The Festival is also supported by generous sponsorships from Acme Refrigeration of Baton Rouge, Dr. James Arceneaux, Bank of Montgomery, Louie Bernard, City Bank, the City of Natchitoches, Cleco, John Conine; Corkern, Crews, Johnson & Guillet; CP-Tel, Delta Car Wash, Dan and Desirée Dyess,Georgia’s Gift Shop, La Capitol FCU, the Harrington Law Firm, Billy Joe Harrington, Jeanne’s Country Garden, Maglieaux’s Riverfront Restaurant, the Natchitoches Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Natchitoches Wood Preserving, Inc., NSU Men’s Basketball, Page Builders, LLC, Sabine State Bank, R.V. Byles Enterprises, UniFirst, Dr. Michael Vienne, David and Shirley Walker, Waste Connections and Young Estate LLC.


Training for the Worst

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If you passed by Red River High School last week you may have noticed that the parking lot was full of vehicles from the sheriff’s department. There was no emergency, however deputies were making preparations for the unthinkable.

The week of July 9, 2018 thirty-one Red River Parish Sheriff’s deputies and one Coushatta police officer participated in Active Shooter Response training. Certified instructors with the Shreveport City Marshal’s Office conducted the training, with civilian volunteers assisting as perpetrators and victims. The activities took place on the Red River Senior/Junior High campus while school was not in session.

The purpose of the exercise was to provide scenario-based training to our law enforcement officers in a simulated critical incident/active shooter environment. The hands-on training was intense and exposed officers to realistic scenarios while utilizing non-lethal training ammunition.

The exercises were designed to instill, enhance and reinforce instinctive officer survival skills by implementing fast paced tactical techniques. The objective is to locate and eliminate threats as quickly as possible in order to protect potential victims, while reducing law enforcement injuries and/or deaths.

In today’s world, preparation and training for these unthinkable events are critical. Sheriff Edwards would like to thank the Shreveport City Marshal’s Office for leading the training, the volunteers for their participation and Red River Parish School Superintendent Alison Hughes and staff for use of school facilities.

ETC… for July 20th


A reminder that the US 84 Bridge at Coushatta will be inspected by the state highway department tomorrow, July 21st. Traffic will be reduced to one lane, so expect some delay.

The Journal congratulates the new slate off officers of the Red River Council on Aging. Jessie Davis was elected President. Celia A. Norman was elected Vice President. Dianne Slatten was elected to her second term as Treasurer. And Barbara Brister was elected Secretary. They were elected at the COA annual meeting earlier this week.

Band Camp is wrapping up today at Red River High School. The band, dance line and others have been practicing for two weeks. You can see the results of their labors at the first home football game August 31st. The Bulldogs open at home against Lincoln Preparatory School.

These days are especially hot summer days. Everyone is warning about the dangers of too much exposure to the heat. Below is the advice from the National Weather Service in Shreveport.


Former Administrator Issued Herself Extra Paychecks


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Former Administrator Jennifer Mahfouz of the Red River Parish Communications District issued herself extra paychecks totaling $17,112.00 and may have violated state laws and the Louisiana Constitution. Those are the findings of the Louisiana Legislative Auditor in a report released this week. (SEE AUDIT LINK BELOW)

Mahfouz was dismissed as Administrator on April 8th of this year. Possible improprieties came to light during the annual audit of the Communications District by a private accounting firm. Information the firm developed was turned over to the Legislative Auditor.

The audit’s Executive Summary states “District records indicate that from January 2015 to December 2017 Ms Mahfouz consistently issued herself paychecks prior to the end of the District’s pay periods and appears to have altered the District’s electronic accounting records to conceal her actions.” The summary said these actions “may have violated state laws.” In addition the summary said, “Further, by issuing herself checks before the end of the pay periods, Ms Mahfouz appears to have loaned District funds to herself in possible violation of the Louisiana Constitution.

The complete report from the Legislative Auditor is included at the bottom of this article.

Mahfouz was the only employee of the district and was responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the district, including paying bills and issuing pay checks. The audit says the issuing of extra paychecks was discovered by the district’s external CPA during the annual audit. The CPA notified the Legislative Auditor on March 1st. Mahfouz was terminated on April 8th.

The Legislative Auditor found that “Mahfouz routinely issued herself paychecks before the end of the District’s pay periods on at least 67 occasions. Some of these checks cleared the bank prior to the dates on the checks. According to the District’s accounting system records, Ms Mahfouz appears to have altered the dates that the checks were issued in order to match the appropriate biweekly pay periods.”

The auditors reported, “Ms Mahfouz told us that she did not realize she received extra paychecks and does not know how she overpaid herself.” She told auditors that she made some mistakes in writing checks and she tried to correct them. The audit said, “she received checks early because she was trying to change her pay schedule to alternate with her husband’s pay schedule. She further stated that on other occasions she received checks early because she knew she would be out of the office on the regular payroll date.”

The Legislative Auditor recommended the District consult with legal counsel to determine appropriate actions to take including recovery of funds improperly paid to the former District Administrator. The audit also recommended “the District revise policies and procedures to assure the same person is not responsible for issuing, approving, authorizing, and recording accounting transactions.”

Communications District Audit

Coushatta Infant Dies in Auto Crash

RRPJ-Coushatta Infant Dies-18Jul18Tragedy struck a Coushatta family this week due to an automobile crash near Colfax. A two-month-old Coushatta infant passed away last Wednesday evening following a one-vehicle car crash. The child, Kalani Moody, will be buried this morning in Coushatta.

State Police Troop F reported the accident happened on US 71 about 7:20 am Wednesday July 11th. The report says Aaron Tillman of Leesville drove the vehicle. Passengers were Cecily Moody and their infant twins Kalani and Kingston.

Their vehicle was traveling southbound on US 71, ran off the right side of the road into a ditch then hit a tree. Kalani Moody suffered severe injuries while Tillman and Cecily Moody suffered minor injuries. Kingston Moody was not injured. All were transported to Rapides General hospital. Kalani Moody passed away later Wednesday night.

The State Police report stated that all Tillman and Cecily Moody were wearing seat belts and the two infants were properly restrained in rear-facing car seat at the time of the accident.

Heavenly Gates Funeral Home in Shreveport handled arrangements. Here is the obituary from their website:

Graveside services for Infant Kalani Moody, 2 months, will be 10 a.m., Wednesday, July 18, 2018 at St Paul Cemetery, Coushatta, La. Pastor Robert Moody of Holy Way Ministries Family Worship Cemetery, officiating.
Infant Moody entered into eternal rest on July 11, 2018 after an automobile accident.
She is survived by her parents; Cecily Moody and Aaron Tillmon, sister; Saniyah Moody, brother; Kingston Moody, grandmothers; Betty Moody and Miranda Davis, aunts, uncles, cousins other relatives and friends.

Hunter In Hall of Master Folk Artists

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Legendary artist Clementine Hunter (1887-1988) will be posthumously inducted into the Louisiana Folklife Center Hall of Master Folk Artists during the 39th Annual Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival, which will be held on July 20-21 in Prather Coliseum on the Northwestern State University campus. Hunter’s vast body of paintings documents daily life at Melrose Plantation and along Cane River, where she worked and painted for most of the last century.

Born Clémence Rubin on Hidden Hill Plantation near Cloutierville, she came to live at Melrose Plantation when she was 12 years old. Initially a field hand, it was while working as a housekeeper and cook in the plantation’s “Big House” that Hunter first picked up a brush and paints left behind by a visiting artist. Although illiterate, Clementine Hunter taught herself to paint.

Before the age of mechanization, plantation labor was physically grueling. Hunter’s images conveyed workers toiling as they planted, plowed and picked cotton by hand. Her themes were not limited to scenes of labor. She also recalled, in vivid colors, the spiritual life of her community: the weddings, baptisms, wakes and funerals. For more than 50 years, Hunter painted her memories of family life and recreation along the banks of Cane River.

Her legacy includes thousands of paintings telling the story of plantation life from the African American workers’ perspective, a point of view minimally covered by historians of the time. By the time Melrose Plantation was named a National Historic Landmark in 1972, the lifestyle documented by Hunter had already disappeared.

Hunter never traveled far from her birthplace, but today she is recognized around the world. Her widely collected art hangs in private collections and prestigious galleries throughout the United States and abroad.

“It is truly an honor for Clementine Hunter to be inducted into the Louisiana Folklife Center Hall of Master Folk Artists,” said Tom Whitehead, professor emeritus at Northwestern State and the foremost scholar on Hunter’s life and art. “She is indeed a Louisiana treasure who deserves recognition for her contributions to our state and our nation.”

The Festival will be held in air-conditioned Prather Coliseum, 220 South Jefferson Street on the NSU campus in Natchitoches. The festival will be held Friday, July 20 from 4:30-10:15 p.m. and all day on Saturday July 21 from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. The family-oriented festival is wheelchair accessible. Children 12 and under are admitted free of charge. For a full schedule of events, to purchase tickets, or for more information call (318) 357-4332, send an email to or go to

Support for the Fiddle Championship and the Festival is provided by grants from the Cane River National Heritage Area, Inc., City Bank, 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.

The photo of Hunter is courtesy of the Cane River Art Corporation.

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Brothers keep bees in the family

James and Adams have turned their father’s passion for bee keeping into a family business.

“It’s in our family’s DNA from our father to our grand papa,” said Johnny Ray. “What started as a family hobby has turned into a full-fledge business for us. James and I are proud to work together and carry on the family tradition.”

Johnny Ray caught his first bee when he was 3-years-old with his father Johnny M. Adams. While he and James sold honey on the side of the road as children. They’re 4th generation bee keepers and Johnny has two daughters, a son, and a daughter-in-law that make up the 5th generation.

“As far as bee keeping goes, that’s the way it should be,” said James. The brothers are even in the process of merging their separate businesses into a single family adventure: Honey River Farms.

They’ve travelled the world and continue to work other jobs, but they’ll never give up their bees. “It’s always something we’ve done through the years,” said James. “It’s not just a job, it’s a passion.”

Removing a hive of bees from buildings, trees and other precarious places means the brothers have to be more than just bee keepers. They fill the role of carpenter, electrician, fabricator and more as each removal calls for a different set of skills.

They have to reach the hive first, which could mean a good bit of demolition if the hive is located inside a wall or other hard to reach space. Once they can remove the comb, they take the “brood,” which is the heart of the hive. They place it in a “brood frame,” which is put into a hive box. A “queen cage” is used to capture the queen bee.

Once the queen cage is placed inside the hive box, bees from the original hive start to migrate to the box. There’s also always bees that station themselves at the hive’s entrance to signal to the others where “home” is. By filling the air and the space around the original hive with smoke, James and Johnny coax the bees to gather in the new hive box.

And what about protective suits? Johnny Ray says some people like wearing suits and some don’t. His father and grand papa never wore any. Getting stung is just part of the job. “We’ve been stung from the tops of our heads to the tips of our toes, and everywhere in between,” he said with a laugh.

The brothers have a couple hundred hives between them. All the honey is harvested and sold locally. They’re also available to do educational lectures/visits. For more information call 318-332-1125 or 318-332-5372.

Bridge Inspection Planned

RRPJ-Bridge Inspection-18Jul18

The routine bridge inspection for US 84 Bridge over the Red River in Coushatta, Red River Parish has been rescheduled for Saturday, July 21, 2018 from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. It originally was scheduled for Sunday July 22nd.

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development advises motorists that one lane of the US 84 Bridge over Red River, approximately 1.5 miles East of LA 1, will be closed for routine bridge inspection.

Alternate Route: This closure will allow vehicles 14 feet wide or smaller to pass through the bridge inspection zone. Larger vehicles must detour using LA 1 to LA 511 to US 71.