School Status Update

From the Desk of Alison Hughes, Superintendent of Red River Parish School District 

April 29, 2020

Good Afternoon Parents and Staff:

This week Governor Edwards extended the stay at home order for our state.  This announcement has impacted many of the immediate plans for Senior Students at Red River High School and the faculty and staff of our schools. Although our plans are being altered, as we have stated our commitment to the students of Red River Parish is the top priority.  

Senior Students of Red River Parish, I want to once again relay the regret we feel that your final year of high school has been so rudely interrupted.  This was to be your year.  We are tentatively planning a graduation ceremony for you for July 24, 2020.  This is of course contingent on what the Governor announces in the next few weeks.   You will be notified in the coming weeks as to the official date and time. 

Seniors,  You do need to pick up your cap and gown.  On May 5th from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm you may drive up in front of Red River High and someone will bring out your Senior packet.  If you have not paid in full, you will need $81.80.  You need to bring the exact amount.  We will not provide change.  

Juniors, we also know that your Senior Ring celebration has been postponed.  We will have a formal ring ceremony when school begins in the fall but you can pick up your rings now.  If you purchased a Senior ring through the school, you may drive up in front of the High School on May 6th from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm.  Someone will bring out your ring.  Make sure that you have either already paid the entire balance of your ring or you bring the exact amount that you owe.  

We have also been busy completing our plans for ending this school year for all students in grades PK-11.   Final grades have been calculated.  In Grades 1-8, We have used the highest 9 weeks grade of the year as the 4th nine weeks grade.  High School students have their first half of the semester grade as their final grade for the semester.    Teachers are reaching out to all students and parents to discuss your child’s report card and possible opportunities to make up failing grades.  You will have the opportunity to discuss with your teacher or Principal the individual needs of your child by May 15, 2020.   Special Education teachers and counselors will reach out to parents to discuss IEP goals and completed objectives for the year.  

If the school does not have an up to date telephone number for your child, call 318-932-4081 and leave a detailed message.  

We will be sending out a third packet of materials next week.  In that packet, there will be a final report card, another three weeks of supplemental materials, and information for our plans to continue education for all students in the coming months.  If you need to ask any questions or to have a director or principal call you, please call 318-932-4081 option 6.  Leave a detailed message and we will return your call.  

One last reminder, if you have not signed up for the meal delivery service, please do so immediately. You will find the link to the short application on http://www.rrbulldogs.com.

We pray for health and safety for all you.  We are here to help with any of your school questions or needs.  

Alison Hughes, Superintendent


Jimmy Ray “Joe” Bass

A funeral service celebrating the life of Jimmy Ray “Joe” Bass, 86, will be held at 2:00 PM Thursday, April 30, 2020 at First Baptist Church of Coushatta with Dr. Nathan Davis officiating. Interment will follow in Zion’s Rest Cemetery in the Wallace community near Pleasant Hill, LA. The family will receive friends from 12:00 PM until service time at the church. Due to current policy, friends will be limited to small groups during visitation, and those waiting to pay their respects are asked to wait in their vehicles until directed by funeral staff.

Joe was born June 26, 1933 in Pelican, LA to Peyton L. Bass, Sr. and Armalee Reed Bass. He passed away April 28, 2020 in Coushatta. Joe was an avid outdoorsman, and enjoyed duck hunting, fishing, and golf. He played minor league baseball in his early years and in the Navy. He loved collecting arrowheads, guns, and attending gun shows. He had an extraordinary collection of military rifles. Joe enjoyed family and church gatherings, fellowship, and food.

Preceding him in death are his parents; ex-wife Shirley Bass Fry; brother Robert Reed Bass; sister Barbara Jean Hamilton; grandson Peyton Joseph Bass; nephew Steve Hamilton, and “favorite” nephew Sam Bass. Left to cherish Joe’s memory are his sons, Denny and Daryl Bass; daughters, Joni Bass and Jenni Bass Walker (Robert); brothers, Billy Burton Bass and Peyton L. “June” Bass, Jr. (Monty); grandchildren, Sydney Bass, Samantha Bass, Dawson Bass, Logan Bates, Jesseca Korn (Patrick), Ryan Tomerlin, Carson Walker, Avery Walker, Breanne Dupree (Kevin), and Chad Shirley (Kellie); special nieces Shelia, Shelly, Sharon, Deanna, Danielle, and Susannah; and seven great-grandchildren.

Honoring Joe as pallbearers will be Chad Shirley, Dawson Bass, Ryan Tomerlin, Robert Walker, Richard Meylain, and Rayburn Covington. Honorary pallbearers are the Hope Sunday School class of FBC and Jerry Glover.


Governor Extends Stay Home Order

Saying Louisiana does not meet the White House criteria for entering Phase One of reopening the economy, on Monday Governor John Bel Edwards said he is going to extend his order for Louisianians to stay at home.  Edwards said he will issue a new proclamation extending the date to May 11th.

Overall the state is trending down on new cases and hospitalizations from COVID-19.  That certainly has been the case in northwest Louisiana.  But not in all regions.  Edwards said, “Unfortunately, we still have a little work to do before we meet the criteria to safely move to the next phase of reopening, so I will extend the state’s Stay at Home order until May 15, with a few minor changes.”  Edwards added, “While this is not the announcement I want to make, I am hopeful, and all of Louisiana should be hopeful, that we will enter into the next phase of reopening soon, in mid-May. I am anxious to get all areas of our economy reopened, but if we accelerate too quickly, we may have to slam on the brakes. That will be bad for public health and for businesses, bad for our people and bad for our state.”

There are three changes to the Governor’s order concerning businesses:

  1. Malls will remain closed to the public, but stores may open for curbside delivery.
  2. Restaurants will be allowed to open their outside areas for patrons to eat meals only, without tableside service.
  3. All employees of a business who have contact with the public must wear a mask.

Additionally, both the CDC and the Louisiana Department of Health strongly urge everyone to wear masks when in public.  “Wearing cloth masks or protective face coverings is part of the new normal,” Gov. Edwards said. “Wearing a mask is being a good neighbor and in Louisiana, we pride ourselves on being good neighbors. Your mask protects me, and other people and my mask protects you.”

Looking around Red River Parish the three changes should have little impact on the way business is done, with one exception.  Expect to see all workers in all businesses that are open wearing masks while on the job.  And if everyone adheres to the Governor’s order expect to see more people wearing masks in public.

It does not appear from hearing the Governor on Monday that many businesses in the parish that are now closed will be allowed to open between now and May 15th.  The barber and beauty shops and other entities that had been ordered to close are still on the “closed list.”  Some restaurants may add an outdoor dining area however they would not be able to offer table service.

It also appears that the order would not change the way the town and parish conduct their business.  And it does not appear to have an impact on the way churches are conducting worship services.


Response to Extending “Stay Home”

“I am disappointed,” said State Senator Louis Bernard, “I had hoped this would be an avenue to start businesses back to work.”  Bernard and Representative Gabe Firment would have preferred a different decision from the Governor.

Bernard said, “The Governor is taking the advice of the medical community.  The medical team preaches still maintaining distancing to keep the numbers down.  Businesses are significantly hurting, and many may not come back from this.”  Bernard added the current situation is really tough and it is causing a lot of stress among business owners and their employees.

Firment said he had hoped the Governor would have implemented Phase 1 of President Trump’s Guidelines for Reopening America on a regional or parish by parish basis. Firment said, “A little perspective: Grant/LaSalle – 33 positive cases per LDH (Louisiana Department of Health). Orleans/Jefferson – 12,469 positive cases. But the Stay at Home Order was arbitrarily applied to the entire state.”  Firment added, “More food for thought: We can pack hundreds of people into Lowes or Home Depot, but we are not allowed to worship in church one day a week. You can get an abortion, but you can’t get a haircut….

District 23 Representative Kenny Cox is concerned with opening up too quickly and the possibility of a resurgence of COVID-19.  Cox said the Governor acted based upon the numbers of cases.  Cox said, “What we’re seeing from the rural population, there is an uptick in Natchitoches and DeSoto parishes.”

Representative Cox is concerned with the economy.  “Everyone wants to put folks back to work, but you have to follow the rules.  If you make the wrong decision you could cost people their lives.”

Cox also is concerned with so many unknowns.  He said, “No one can tell me you can’t be reinfected.  My grandson told me ‘If you have the money and you are sick or die, what good is it?’ and that’s so.”  Cox added, “Two weeks delay may not seem like a lot, but if you have a resurgence of the virus, then what.”

Bernard said there has been “a tsunami of applications coming in.  It has clogged the system.  The federal and state governments had nothing in place to handle the volume of applications.”  Bernard told The Journal he has been working with local banks and they cannot get applications they have received into the system.

Representative Firment added, “Please know that myself and other conservative legislators in the state hear you loud and clear and are working to move our state forward in accordance with President Trump’s phased approach to reopening.”

Then there is the issue of payback.  This has not been addressed at the state or federal level.  Senator Bernard reminded us, “We will have to consider paying it back.  It was almost unanimous in Congress that this had to be done.  And I think we’ve learned a lot and to be better prepared next time.”


The Red River Numbers

As of noon Tuesday the Louisiana Department of Health reported that there had been five deaths in Red River Parish.  There are a total of 23 cases confirmed in the parish.  And so far 185 COVID-19 tests have been conducted in the parish.

The state health department updates these numbers at noon every day.  So far it would appear that Red River Parish is doing well.

From Data USA the parish had 8,723 people as of 2018.  Therefore, only 2.12% of our people have been tested for COVID-19.  Statistically only .26% have the disease.  And the death rate is .0573%.

The figures have been slowly creeping up as each day’s report comes from the health department.   


Three In A Row

From Red River Elementary School Principal Shenelle Deville

I am glad to announce that you are a CKH National Showcase School again (Capturing Kids Hearts) – 3 YEARS IN ROW!  This year, I had to write a 500 word essay about growth of someone or a student.  After pondering, I decided to write about me and my experience and growth at RRES.  I can honestly say that all good and not so happy moments were not in vain. What occurred these past 4 years only prepared me to be better in my next role(s). And, I owe it all to you. 

This 2019-2020 year was definitely a test, not only for me but all of you.  We had some situations that caused us to push harder in the classroom and among leadership. We had some Awesome Bulldog Staff who left our earthly home and are in a higher place with God.  We also had many who had family issues that needed much attention.  Despite all of these challenges, you all continued to stay the course.  That is what makes RED RIVER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL the epitome of a NATIONAL SHOWCASE SCHOOL!

I had the pleasure of working with all of you. I worked with some more than others. However, time spent does not define the value of each of you.  I have always observed and noticed each individual.  I know that if RRES was a game, and everyone had the same position (abilities or talents) or made the same moves, then we would never grow. I have observed each of your God-Given gifts and talents. I learned what worried you and what made you feel at ease. All of your different personalities and drives is what positions your school for continuous growth. So, to all of you- Thank You and Celebrate Your Accomplishment!

Editor’s Note:  Principal Deville and Assistant Principal Danny Rester will be leaving Red River Elementary at the end of the current school year.  The School Board is currently advertising for applications for those and other administrative jobs within the school system.


Fagan’s Visit

By Brad Dison

Michael Fagan was thirty-one-years-old, married, and had four children between the ages of three and ten.  Michael was an insomniac.  To combat his insomnia, he often wandered around town in the early morning hours.  When his wife or other family members asked where he had been, he always replied with a sly grin: “I’ve been to see my girlfriend.”  No one took Michael’s explanation seriously.  Michael was not having an affair.  He had a different interest.  

Michael liked to break into a house, the same house, have a look around, and usually left no clues that he had been there.  He broke into the same house no less than a dozen times.  Rather than breaking in, which implies that he damaged property to get it, Michael always entered through unlocked windows.  Michael was no thief.  The only thing Michael ever took was what amounted to about half a bottle of cheap wine.  Michael just liked being inside this particular house.

At about 6:45 a.m. on July 9, 1982, Michael, exhausted and depressed from lack of sleep, climbed over the railing to the house, walked over to an unlocked window, and climbed in.  Uninterested in what he found in that room, rather than going out of the door into the hall, Michael exited the same window he had entered.  Michaels craving was not quenched.  Outside, Michael climbed a drainpipe to the roof.  He removed his sandals and socks for reasons he never revealed.  He crossed a narrow ledge and found another unlocked window.  In he went. 

Michael spent time looking at various pictures on the walls in the hallway, which led him to a doorway.  He entered the room and spent a few minutes looking around.  Michael broke a glass ash tray with the intent of slashing his wrists.  He picked up a shard of the glass and, rather than continuing with his plan, he saw a door in the room and decided to explore what was on the other side.  

At about 7:15 a.m., Michael entered the room.  Unable to see well in the dimly lit room, Michael opened the curtains to get a better look.  As the morning sunlight shone into the room, he found himself staring into the eyes of the lady of the house.  Neither Michael nor the lady showed their surprise.  They began to talk as if they were old friends although they had never met.  

At 7:18 a.m., the lady calmly picked up the telephone and alerted the police.  Michael did not react.  He could have attacked the lady or he could have run from the room.  He waited until the lady hung up the phone and continued his conversation with her.  At 7:24 a.m., the lady, astounded that officers had not yet arrived, called the police a second time.  As with the first call, Michael made no reaction.  During their discussion, Michael asked her for a cigarette.  She explained that the cigarettes were in a nearby pantry.  As they reached the pantry, help finally arrived.  Police arrested Michael and transported him to jail.  Rather than spending time in jail for his “visit,” Michael spent six months in a psychiatric hospital.   

The house Michael had broken into in the early morning hours of July 9 was originally known as Bucking House, but is now known as Buckingham Palace.  The lady with whom Michael had a conversation with was Queen Elizabeth II of England.

Sources:

The London Observer, July 11, 1982, p.1.

The London Guardian, July 13, 1982, p.1.

The London Guardian, July 22, 1982, p.2.

 


Bakery Delivers Treats

Georgia Hensley owns a bakery on Front Street.  It is Georgie Girl Cakery and their specialty is wedding cakes.  But business is way off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  What is she to do?

Hensley has partnered with area venues to spread appreciation and cheer to first responders and first line health care workers. The Journal caught up with Hensley in front of her store.  She had just loaded a batch of cupcakes in her truck and was headed to Mabile’s Pharmacy.

Hensley said, “We are taking them to the pharmacy today.  Earlier baskets of cupcakes had been delivered to the hospital and we took some to the courthouse.  My area venues helped me show appreciation to those workers.”

You can contact Georgia Hensley at Georgie Girl Cakery, 318-775-4097.


Constitution Does Not Disappear In a Crisis

By Royal Alexander

Our state and country have been, understandably, so focused on the health emergency that it is easy to lose sight of one important fact.  Our fundamental rights and freedoms not only do not disappear during a crisis, they actually come to the fore in a more concrete and conspicuous way than in normal times.  In fact, our rights are most important in times like these.

There is no doubt that the virus deserves–and has been given–our country’s full medical, health and safety attention.  However, perhaps for the first time in our nation’s history, we have quarantined and largely immobilized healthy people.  The fact is that our citizens, in huge numbers, have lost their liberty—their religious freedom, their freedom of expressive activity – including freedom of association, freedom of movement and mobility, and freedom to peacefully assemble and petition their government for a redress of grievances (i.e. including the small demonstrations we are beginning to see across the country). 

Further, we may also be losing our right to be free from “unreasonable searches and seizures” as well: for example, if law enforcement or other government entity comes, uninvited and without a warrant and probable cause, onto private property, or, if government undertakes covert surveillance of us through our cell phones to see, for example, whether we are abiding by the stay at home orders, these trespasses amount to an erosion of private property rights and an invasion of privacy.  Broadly speaking, such government conduct contravenes the 5th and 14th Amendment guarantees that we cannot be denied our rights to life, liberty and property without due process of law. 

For these reasons, our current status cannot exist indefinitely.  Our U.S. Constitution trumps state law and state emergency/crisis orders. There is no exception or exemption in the Constitution for a health crisis.  It also doesn’t yield to any other body of law.  It is the supreme and final authority and, while it is designed to insure that the states and the people retain the majority of power in our free society, the specific enumerated rights that are exclusively the province of the Constitution include protecting from government suppression the freedoms of press, free exercise of religion, expressive activities, protection of private property rights and privacy, and numerous others.  

We will, undoubtedly, continue to do everything we possibly can to protect those who suffer from, or are most susceptible to, the virus.  However, that is not the only consideration in this critical balancing of interests. The large majority of 330 million Americans are having their lives, including their jobs–and, thereby, their families–damaged if not destroyed.  This cannot be allowed to happen. 

While the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized a nuanced need to allow government to modify the behavior of citizens during a crisis, these allowances are supposed to present a compelling government interest and be narrow, specific and limited; no more extensive than the threat reasonably demands.  Hence, while government should move with greater urgency and efficiency to exercise the powers it legitimately possesses, it may not assume greater power simply because we are in a crisis.  If we don’t see these rights protected by our government, the small demonstrations across the country we are beginning to witness will become much louder, larger and more widespread.