Bailes to keynote Winter ’19 Commencement

Sonja Bailes, Public Relations Liaison for Bossier Parish schools, former TV reporter and anchor, and member of Louisiana Tech’s Class of 1992, will serve as the keynote speaker for the University’s winter commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, February 23, in the Thomas Assembly Center (TAC) on the Tech campus. 

Bailes’ family includes Randy Bain, news director for KTBS-TV Shreveport-Bossier, and their son Jackson. 

A graduate of Airline High in Bossier City, Bailes was awarded her BA in journalism from Tech in Winter Quarter 1992. Her advisor when she worked at KLPI, Tech’s radio station, was Tech Hall of Fame play-by-play broadcaster Dave Nitz. 

“And the legendary journalist Wiley Hilburn was my advisor when I was editor of The Tech Talk,” she said. “I was blessed to learn from two of the very best.” 

After graduation from Tech, Bailes was a familiar face to the area as a reporter and anchor, first for three years at KNOE-TV in Monroe, and then for KTBS-TV until 2011, when she accepted her current position with the Bossier Parish School Board. 

“My years spent at Louisiana Tech were some of the happiest of my life,” she said. “I formed lifelong friendships there, memories that still make me smile and shaped and molded me into the person I am today. I could never have asked for better professors and advisers — particularly in the Journalism Department — who made me into the writer I am today. They mentored, encouraged, and instilled confidence in me, and for that, I am forever grateful.” 

Her short address explores the theme of “Living Out Your Story,” a spinoff, she said, of the convocation speech she gave the freshman class in September 2013. “It was based on the Tenets of Tech and the book This I Believe,” she said, “which really resonated with me when I was asked to read it and speak about it.” 

Published in 2006, the book was a common read assignment to each freshman as part of the First Year Experience. This I Believe is a collection of the personal philosophies of a diverse group of 80 accomplished men and women. 

Winter commencement officially marks the end of the winter quarter at Louisiana Tech. Spring classes are scheduled to begin March 12.

ETC… for Friday, January 30th

Students looking for help paying for college? Check out Riverdale Academy’s Facebook page. The school has posted a number of scholarships. Their application deadline is during February. 

Here is an interesting event parents may wish to attend with their children. Northwestern State University’s Office of Electronic and Continuing Education will offer a Pick Up Your Brush painting class on Saturday, Feb. 2 from 9 a.m. to noon on the second floor of South Hall. 

In the class, participants will learn the art of painting using step-by-step instructions to create a masterpiece. No special or prior skills are required. Students will take home a completed painting at the end of every class. Children ages 7 – 12 years old are allowed to enroll, but a parent must accompany the child the entire class. The parent does not have to enroll unless they participate. All supplies are included. In the class, the students will paint lovebirds. 

For more information on NSU non-credit programs, go to or call (800) 376-2422 or (318) 357-6355. To register for classes, go to To learn more about NSU’s online non-credit courses visit or 

Winter Break for students is February 11th through 15th. As a result of the break, the Red River Parish School Board is delaying its regular February meeting one week. The board will meet February 18th at 6:30 pm at the school board office. 

Gateway Brass, the brass ensemble from the United States Air Force Band of the West, will perform at Northwestern State University on Thursday, Jan. 31 at 7:30 p.m. in Magale Recital Hall. Admission is free and open to the public. 

CLECO notes: Unusually low temperatures are expected across Louisiana bringing with it the possibility for ice and snow. This weather event has the potential to lead to an increase in the demand for electricity, as well as the potential for hazardous conditions. 

“The lower the temperature is outside, the harder a heating system has to work, and the more energy it requires to keep your home warm,” said Hammad Chaudhry, Cleco Power Wise™ program manager. “During the winter months, customers should set their thermostats no higher than 68 degrees, if their comfort allows, for maximum efficiency.” 

In addition to lowering the thermostat, customers also can conserve energy by checking the temperature on water heaters. Experts recommend setting the water heater’s 

thermostat at 120 degrees Fahrenheit and wrapping electric water heaters and all exposed pipes. 

“With lower temperatures, customers often resort to using space heaters in an effort to warm their homes,” said John Melancon, Cleco manager of corporate safety. “If you’re using a space heater, make sure the plug isn’t frayed or torn, as it could start a fire. Also, keep the heater away from anything that can burn, including papers, clothing and rugs.” 

For more conservation and safety tips, follow Cleco on Facebook at @ClecoPower. Cleco customers can also find energy-saving solutions by visiting and taking advantage of the utility’s energy efficiency program, Power Wise™.

Young Writers at Red River Elementary

From Shenille Deville, Principal 

Red River Elementary School (RRES) is proud of the 13 students from Mrs. Ranette Smith-Crockett’s homeroom class who have been chosen to have their writings published. Mrs. Smith-Crockett submitted entries for all students in her class, and 13 were chosen to be published in Young Writers’ Spooky Sagas – Authors From America. Young Writers encourages reading, writing, and the enjoyment of poetry as well as creative writing. 

Over 12,000 entries were submitted from many states based on perception, imagination and creativity, expression, originality, and use of language. Students were challenged to write a mini saga, a story in just 100 words. They were to create spine-tingling tales that uses atmosphere and suspense, from things that go bump in the night to Halloween pranks, creating tales that will make you scream. 

Prizes will be awarded to the school with the best set of entries, and that school will receive “The Young Writers’ Award of Excellence,” and the best published writer will receive an iPad and a trophy. Also, one runner-up will receive a $50 Amazon gift card. Winners will be announced in April 2019. RRES will receive a complimentary copy of the book. In addition, the book will be sent to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. to provide a lasting record of our students’ achievement. Our school name will be published as Red River Elementary. 

We are excited of the high writing standards our students have demonstrated. As the principal, I will make sure each student who has his/her work published, receives a copy of the book, and I will reward the entire class with a celebration honoring their effort and achievement. 

For more information on Young Writers, you can visit their website at 

Pictured from left to right, first row: 

ZyQuayvious Smith, Fa’Dasia Demery, Demarche Newton, Johnny Meshell, Cedric Moody, Jr., Collin Stafford, Tamija Gant, and teacher, Mrs. Ranette Smith-Crockett 

Pictured from left to right, second row: 

Rihanna Washington, Bri’Aunna Taylor, Makilah Murphy, Brodrick Winn, Skylar Roberson, and Jaskyla Williams (absent)

House Fire on Highway 480

A fire Friday evening, January 25th heavily damaged a single family dwelling on Highway 480 south of Coushatta. Deputy Fire Chief Mike Robinson said firefighters observed smoke coming from the attic of the structure when they arrived. 

Robinson said, “There was heavy fire in the attic and we knocked it down fairly quickly.” Robinson says the occupants of the house had heard noises and investigated. They found the fire and reported it. He said the house was equipped with smoke alarms. 

The structure suffered heat, smoke and water damage. “It appears the cause was electrical from a light socket,” said Robinson.

Coffee for Missions

The 2019 medial mission trip to Honduras is approaching. One fundraiser they are conducting is the sale of coffee from Honduras. Bro. James Hester posted on Facebook: 

“Is coffee a regular item on your grocery list? Are you willing to pay a little more for superior quality? What if I told you that when you buy, you will not only be getting better coffee, but that a full 70% of your purchase goes directly to spreading the Gospel? Buy a bag. Drink a cup. Spread the Gospel.” 

Editor’s Note: I purchased a bag and have made several pots of this special coffee. It is a milder blend than I am accustomed to, however it has a good flavor, especially when it is made in the old fashioned drip pot. 

Here is the link if you wish to order coffee:

Governor Appoints Three to Grand Bayou Board

The January list of the Governor’s appointments to various boards and commissions includes these for the John K. Kelly Grand Bayou Reservoir District: 

The John K. Kelly Grand Bayou Reservoir District was established to develop the wealth and natural resources of the district by the conservation of soil and water for agricultural, recreational, commercial, industrial, and sanitary purposes. The district is composed of the area comprising all of Red River Parish. Commissioners of the district are statutorily required to be qualified electors of Red River Parish residing within and owning property within the district. 

N. Thomas Jones, of Coushatta, was appointed to the John K. Kelly Grand Bayou Reservoir District. Jones is the owner and Chief Executive Officer of Tom Jones Consulting, LLC. and is a veteran of the United States Air Force. 

Antony D. Thomas, of Hall Summit, was reappointed to the John K. Kelly Grand Bayou Reservoir District. Thomas works in inside sales with Motion Industry. 

Anita S. Hinds, of Coushatta, was reappointed to the John K. Kelly Grand Bayou Reservoir District. Hinds is the office manager of Alexander Industrial Maintenance.

Congressman Johnson Selected to Important House Post

House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Doug Collins (GA-09) announced U.S. Representative Mike Johnson (LA-04) as the ranking member for the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. 


“With more than 20 years of experience in constitutional law, I am grateful for the opportunity to lead the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. It is imperative we uphold and defend our most fundamental rights, and this subcommittee has direct jurisdiction over so many issues that help define who we are as Americans. “Of course, the Judiciary Committee will play an important role in the 116th Congress, as Democrats plan to use our committee as a vehicle to relentlessly investigate the president. My Republican colleagues and I stand ready to defend the truth and advance legislation and initiatives that serve the best interests of our country.” 


The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties has jurisdiction over the following subject matters: constitutional rights, constitutional amend-ments, federal civil rights, claims against the United States, non-immigration private claims bills, ethics in government, tort liability including medical malpractice and product liability, legal reform generally, other appropriate matters as referred by the chairman and relevant oversight. 

Johnson was appointed to both the House Judiciary Committee as well as the House Committee on Natural Resources for the 116th Congress.

Jones Named Shreveport Airport Director


Recently elected Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins has appointed Lt. General (Retired) Tom Jones interim Director of Airports. Jones previously served as Vice Commander of US Air Forces in Europe and Africa, as well as interim Aviation Director for the City of San Antonio where he managed day-to-day operations at San Antonio International and Stinson Municipal Airport. Jones is a graduate of the US Air Force Academy, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and the Naval War College. 

“Lt. Gen. Jones brings over 35 years of senior military leadership and management experience to Shreveport Airports,” Mayor Perkins said. “He reorganized San Antonio’s Aviation Department to better reflect the City’s strategic plan, and he is going to help Shreveport through this transition period. Tom will also work alongside the Airport Authority Board to identify a qualified permanent replacement that shares the objectives outlined by myself and the City Council,” Perkins concluded. 

Jones told The Journal, “I’m an interim guy while the Mayor searches for a permanent solution. I am offering short term help due to the resignation of the previous airport director.” And Jones added, “Because of other obligations I have no intentions of staying there full time.”

Doctors Degree Earned by Coushatta Student

From Rhoda Bethard 

On December 7, 2018, Kara Rae Bethard graduated with her Doctor of Clinical Science in Speech-Language Pathology from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions. Her doctorate degree program focused on evidence-based clinical research in order for Kara to advance her clinical knowledge and skills to better serve her patients with communication and swallowing disorders. Presently, Kara uses her Speech and Language Pathologist skills to serve the elderly population. 

Kara is the daughter of Robert and Roberta Bethard and currently resides in New Orleans, Louisiana.