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

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.


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.

Emergency Election Plan Passes

Louisiana’s emergency election plan has passed the Legislature on a mail ballot, but it was not unanimous among local lawmakers.  The plan is to change the voting method for the spring elections.  Those elections were postponed from March and April to July and August.

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said,  “This is a great result for Louisiana’s voters and election workers, especially those most susceptible to the COVID-19 virus. I want to thank President Cortez, Speaker Schexnayder, Chairwoman Hewitt, and Chairman Dwight as well as the Attorney General and the Governor for the strong partnership in developing this emergency election plan. Our plan serves as a pragmatic and temporary response to the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging our nation. I am grateful the legislature has approved this plan, which will have immediate and positive outcomes for Louisiana voters and residents.”

One member of the area delegation objected to the plan.  District 22 Representative Gabe Firment voted “no” on the question.  In a message to constituents Firment explained his vote, “Citizens of District 22 please be advised that I voted NO on the Emergency Election Plan.  Mail-in voting has a HUGE potential for fraud and could destroy the integrity of our elections.”

Senator Louis Bernard said, “Louisiana will not be a mail-in state.  This is a temporary plan that is not applicable to the fall (Presidential) election.”  Bernard told The Journal that the plan had been worked out with the Louisiana Attorney General and others and it does not make any drastic changes to the election system.

Bernard said, “We have to accommodate those who have the disease, those who are caring for them, and those under quarantine.”

Thoughts on Your Family’s New Normal

By Bro. James Hester, Social Springs Baptist Church

Parents, establish the priorities for your families now before we “return to normal.”

Insist upon a new normal where the things of God have preeminence; where sporting events on Sunday are not an option, where ball practice, shooting sports, etc. must take a backseat to Wednesday night youth group, Bible Study, and family devotion time.

You are programming your children as to what matters most. What will it be for you and your household?

God is the One who has called you and charged you to lead your family, and the only One to whom you will give an account.  Raise children who will change the world rather than conforming to it, to the glory of God.

Time to Sign Up For Football

The fall football season seems like a long way away, especially with the upset of daily routines due to the pandemic.  But this is the time of year the high school coaches are planning to next season.

Red River High posted that the coaches are putting the team together.  Attention any incoming Freshmen or current RRHS students interested in Bulldog Football, including returning players.  See the graphic below.

This is important Information for Current and future football players at Red River High School.

Cowboy Church Suspends Search

The Elders of Red River Cowboy Church have decided to postpone the search for a new pastor.  They have notified the church Family. 

Due to the circumstances stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, we have had to post-pone the process of selecting a Full-Time Pastor until we can complete all of the steps of the process. Despite these circumstances, the elders at Red River Cowboy Church have been praying about the options moving forward.

After much prayer and consideration, the elders of Red River Cowboy Church have offered Randall Beason a position as Interim Pastor of Red River Cowboy Church. Randall has graciously accepted the position and will begin the six-month term as interim pastor this Sunday. 

We are excited to be working with Randall and to see what God has in store for the future of Red River Cowboy Church. Please join us in praying for Randall, his family, and the other leaders at RRCC, as they work together to lead our church through these times.  We hope to see you all soon. 

The letter was signed by the Red River Cowboy Church Elders Johnny King, Monty Arthur, and Brad Woodel.

Bro. Clyde Miley resigned as Pastor in early January.  He had lead Red River Cowboy Church since it was founded a decade ago.

Have You Seen Them?

Pass by Red River High.  The Seniors in Baseball and Softball are being honored.  School is not in session and spring sports have been cancelled.  However the high school is still going to honor senior players.

The large senior banners have been posted to the fence in front of the high school.  Graduates are honored for everyone to see.

Baseball has one senior, Lance Soles.

There are five seniors on the Softball team.  They are Schelby Narvez, Savanna Campbell, Danielle Burton, Kaylee Creighton, and Morgan Payne.

Ceremony Delayed Until August

Red River High has posted an update on the Junior Ring Ceremony:

Juniors as you know we will not be having your ceremony in May, but we have rescheduled it for August 25th.  

This is not ideal, but you deserved to be recognized for this special milestone in your lives.  If you ordered your ring from the school please make sure you have paid the balance off before May 4th.  

We are having all the rings that have been paid for delivered to the school on May 5th.  On May 6th you may come to the school to pick up your senior ring.  We want you to be able to get your rings and be able to show them off, take senior pictures, and be proud of this achievement.



AEP has a team dedicated to helping small business customers apply for federal relief programs and make payment arrangements. Business customers can reach a solutions specialist at 1-888-710-4237 and learn more at


SWEPCO understands the critical need for reliable electric service and we are committed to the health and safety of our customers, communities and employees. We have updated our emergency response plans for the COVID-19 pandemic and don’t anticipate COVID-19 will disrupt our ability to provide electric service for our customers.

SWEPCO has received approval in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas for essential employees and contractors to be able to continue to perform critical job functions to keep the lights on. We have also worked to make sure that equipment suppliers and support industries essential to our business can continue to provide necessary equipment and services.

Multiple severe storms caused extensive damage to SWEPCO’s electric system across three states in recent weeks, leaving thousands of customers without power. Our company and contractor crews and support personnel worked through the additional pandemic-related challenges to restore power as safely and quickly as possible.


We have taken significant steps to keep our employees safe and healthy.

  • Our line workers and other employees critical to maintaining service are working in smaller teams, adjusting work schedules, practicing physical distancing, wearing facial coverings when physical distancing is not possible, monitoring themselves for symptoms and taking other prevention measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • All employees who can are working from home to help prevent the spread of the virus.
  • We are monitoring any coronavirus tests, diagnoses and exposures of our employees and their household members, as well as personal international travel and international visitors staying in their homes. Team members are asked to self-monitor or self-quarantine depending upon their exposure.
  • We have restricted outside visitors to all of our facilities (with the exception of delivery trucks), restricted all business travel that is not business critical and restricted participation in face-to-face meetings – both internal and those hosted by outside groups.
  • We are following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and continually reviewing our responses and the guidance we are providing to our employees.


Help utility crews stay safe and healthy while working to maintain the electric system and restore your power during outages. Please keep at least six feet of physical distance between yourself and SWEPCO field personnel as we all play a crucial role in preventing the spread of coronavirus.


We have temporarily suspended all service disconnections for non-payment to help our customers who are currently facing financial hardships. We urge customers to try to keep their accounts current. If a customer is having trouble paying their bill, they should contact us by phone at 1-888-216-3523 or through Facebook or Twitter to discuss payment options.


SWEPCO customers may see more scam attempts with the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic. This is a particularly vulnerable time for many people including senior citizens, low-income residents and understaffed small businesses. For more information, visit

A Day At Scholars College

The Louisiana Scholars’ College at Northwestern State University will host Virtual Scholars’ Day from 1-3 p.m. Thursday, April 30.  Participants will be able to participate in a Scholars’ College class, explore options on majors, take a virtual tour, chat with professors and ask questions about scholarships and financial aid.

“Northwestern State’s Recruiting Office continues to adjust to the new norm and feels that by providing a virtual experience of the Louisiana Scholars’ College, we can give our future students an opportunity to connect with faculty and staff and still provide an authentic NSU and LSC experience,” said Forrest Middlebrook, assistant director of recruiting for the Louisiana Scholars’ College.

Established in 1987 as the state’s designated honors college, the Louisiana Scholars’ College offers students the opportunity to pursue their academic and personal goals in a supportive atmosphere.  The core curriculum combines great books-based courses with courses in mathematics and sciences to provide students with a strong foundation for their more focused study in one the College’s concentrations or in a traditional major.

To register, visit  For more information, contact Middlebrook at or call (318) 663-0134. Information on the Louisiana Scholars’ College is available at

ETC… for Wednesday, April 29th

Social Springs Cemetery Memorial scheduled for May 2 will not be held his year due to COVID-19.  Donations may be sent to Social Springs Cemetery, c/o Ashley Davis, 161 Woods Road, Castor, LA 71016.

This is for Red River Seniors waiting on their cap and gown.  Seniors if you did not pick up your cap and gown prior to school closing, then the school will be open on May 5th from 9 to 12pm for you to pick it up. If you have not paid for this yet, the cost is $81.80. Please have correct change.

The Coushatta Red River Chamber’s annual Car Show has been cancelled due to the virus pandemic.  The date was May 2nd.  No word from the chamber if it will be rescheduled.

From the Riverdale Academy Booster Club:  At Riverdale, we have some of the most kind, amazing, willing to do whatever parents that I know! I know this makes our teachers so happy to see how appreciative parents are during this time. This isn’t easy for any of us, but we are all in it together for the children!

Be careful what you post.  The Journal saw on social media that a lady posted a picture of herself on the high school track, or it appears that she was on the track.  Must have missed the banners at both entrances that say the facilities are closed to all.  A word to the wise is “don’t post the evidence that could convict.”

The Journal’s lineup on “Fear Not” for the rest of the week is Joey Miller of Victorious Life Ministries on Thursday and Matt Endris of Fairview Baptist Church on Friday.  This inspirational program airs live on Facebook weekday mornings at 8:00 am.  All programs are archived so you can view them again and share with your friends.  If your minister has not appeared on the program, email name and contact information to

Oops!  The Journal missed a senior being saluted this spring by Red River 4-H.  She is Tachandra Brown and she is a 4-H member at Red River High.

Stay Home Until May 15

Today, April 27, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced he will extend Louisiana’s Stay at Home order until May 15 to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19. Louisiana does not currently meet the White House criteria for entering Phase One of reopening.
While Louisiana has seen positive, improving trends statewide in terms of new case growth and new hospitalizations, in several regions across the state, new cases and hospitalizations continue to increase or to plateau, according to data from the Louisiana Department of Health. The White House criteria calls for declining numbers of new cases and hospitalizations, among other things.

“Thanks to the commitment of the people of Louisiana, our state has made progress in flattening the curve and reducing the spread of the novel coronavirus. 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,” Gov. Edwards said. “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.”

Gov. Edwards’ decision is based on regional data that shows that while overall new cases and hospitalizations have decreased, this is not the case in several regions. In the Baton Rouge and Monroe regions, both new cases and new hospitalizations have increased. Some increases are also being seen in terms of new cases in Acadiana and a plateau for hospitalizations in Southwest Louisiana and a plateau of new cases on the Northshore.

Laura Jean Smith Duco

A private service celebrating the life of Laura Jean Smith Duco, 90, was held Friday, April 24, 2020 at 2:00pm at First Baptist Church of Coushatta with Dr. Nathan Davis officiating.  Interment followed at Springville Cemetery under the direction of Rose Neath Funeral Home.

Laura Jean passed away Monday, April 20, 2020 at Willis-Knighton Bossier Health Center following a short illness due to complications from heart disease.

She was the oldest child born to William Wimberly “Rod” Smith and Pluma Stevens Smith on January 11, 1930 on the family farm in Red River Parish. Laura graduated from Coushatta High School in 1946 at the age of 16, as there were only 11 grades at that time. Laura Jean’s mother was a teacher and education was an integral part of their daily lives. She continued her education at Northwestern State University, where she was a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority, earning a BA in Business Education in 3 years, graduating in 1949 at age 19. Immediately after graduating, she began her work career as a social worker at the Red River Parish Welfare Office.  She continued in this office working her way through the ranks to the position of Office Administrator for the Department of Family Services, retiring after 35 years.

Laura married the love of her life, John Duco, Jr. on August 5, 1950 enjoying 67 years together.  They were blessed with two loving daughters, Diana and Laura.  She and Johnny built a life around devotion to family and friends, hard work and a mutual respect for each other. She enjoyed reading, watching the sun set at their camp on Black Lake and she never missed a Riverdale Academy basketball or football game that involved her girls. She was also a dedicated member of the American Legion Ladies’ Auxiliary. Laura Jean and Johnny were also blessed with two devoted son-in-laws, John Eberhard and Lewis Sams.  Known as “Granny” to her four grandchildren, she cherished her time with them and instilled strong values that helped shape their lives today.

After retiring, she and Johnny enjoyed many adventures traveling with her sister and brother-in-law, Betty Lou and Harry Moore. Holidays were always a celebration revolving around food and family, with many memories of July 4th at the lake, Thanksgiving and Christmas. She adored her grandchildren and great grandson, nieces and nephews.

Laura came to know the Lord later in life and was a devoted member of First Baptist Church of Coushatta. She loved her church family and was a loyal member of her Sunday School Class.

From our hearts, the family would like to thank Dr. Wyche T. Coleman for a lifetime of love and friendship along with her caring neighbors, friends and sitters.

She is preceded in death by her husband, John Duco, Jr.; brother-in-laws, Harry B. Moore, Eugene Booth Duco, and sister-in-law, Ann Ruthledge Duco; and nephew, Eugene B. Duco, Jr.

She is survived by daughters Diana Duco Eberhard and husband John of Midland, Texas and Laura Duco Sams and husband Lewis of Coushatta, Louisiana, grandchildren, Erin Eberhard Erger and husband Rob of Spring, Texas, Rachel Eberhard of Dallas, Texas, Hanna Sams of Columbia, South Carolina, John Lewis Sams and wife Hannah Johnson Sams of Haughton, Louisiana, great grandson, Robby Erger of Spring, Texas.  She is also survived by sister, Betty Lou Moore of Shreveport, three nieces, Lydia Duco Baillio, Kay Lynn Duco, Melissa Moore Dellocono, nephew, Clay Moore and their spouses, children and grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be given to First Baptist Church of Coushatta, PO Box 465, Coushatta, LA  71019, the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home, 7200 Desiard Street, Monroe, LA  71203, Springville Cemetery Association, PO Box 1023, Coushatta, LA 71019.

Icing on the Cake

By Reba Phelps

When planning a wedding there are so many intricate details that take months, sometimes years to perfect and organize. There is also a fair amount of stress involved. Even the coolest and calmest of brides can let their emotions get the best of them in a moments notice. Therefore, brides must always plan ahead to fend off any potential last minute surprises. 

If the wedding venue is outdoors they will have a Plan B location simmering on the back-burner  just in case the weather is not agreeable. They may even have a backup photographer or stand in brides maids if one falls ill on the big day. Brides also take special care in the planning of the cake. When will it be delivered? When will it be set up? 

The cake is one detail that cannot fall through the cracks. The cake can either wow a crowd or leave them grumbling….cake and its icing must never disappoint the guests. 

But, how does a bride pre-plan around a worldwide pandemic that could possibly cancel events across the nation? 

My friend, Micah, and her fiancé’s wedding was a statistic of this very thing. They were to wed on March 28, 2020. Not even the most clear of crystal balls could see this one coming. Most brides would panic because all of the details were in the final stages of preparation. 

The sentimental, and delectable, caramel flavored wedding cake, baked by the groom’s sister, was already in transit. The cake was the one thing that could not be rescheduled. Many brides around the nation were met with this same reality. But, I am not sure they all handled it as well as our friend did. 

Micah isn’t one to let life’s circumstances stop her in her tracts nor is she the type to host a pity-party. Her mom and younger sister couldn’t agree more. 

Her mom tells me, “She was an independent and determined child, she was always the planner of the family. She was the one to put together birthdays and holidays. When she moved out she would always come back and get her brother and her sister to stay with her. She was a loving sister to them and helped raise them. She was such a good child that it failed to prepare me for defiant children. She is always there for everybody.”

It came as no surprise to Micah’s sister that she didn’t let the delayed wedding ruin her spirit. Mallie shared, “Micah is everything a big sister should be and has always filled my life with happiness and adventure. She is also like my mom and watches over me to make sure that I am on the right track. She isn’t afraid to call me out when I am not doing my best. From the time I was a little girl I always wanted to grow up to be just like her.”

As soon as Micah found out that her wedding would have to be rescheduled I recruited our tough as nails friend to assist with the “Feeding our Heroes” initiative in Natchitoches. FOH is local group of volunteers who are dedicated to providing meals or desserts to the heroes and essential workers of the COVID19 pandemic while utilizing local restaurants. 

Since she wouldn’t be honeymooning, I knew she would be the catalyst to bring it together with her mad marketing skills and “can do anything” spirit. I knew she would be the icing on the cake.  She was also the keeper of the spreadsheet that housed the groups that were fed and what restaurant was used. During the flurry of activity I noticed that she would add to the spreadsheet where a cake would be delivered and she would mention, “as soon as this cake is iced it will be delivered to…..”

It took all of us a few layers of cake to realize that Micah had donated her whole sentimental and delectable, caramel flavored wedding cake layer by layer to various heroes in Natchitoches. Being the lover of cake that we are, we gently hinted around that we were heroes as well and would love a slice of that cake. 

She never picked up the hints we were dropping….because, she always thinks of others before herself.

Sometimes God puts friends in your path that are much stronger than you are. They have been places that you have never been. They have seen things that you haven’t seen. They have experienced and survived more than the average human will in just one lifetime. It takes a lot to spook this kind of rock of a friend. 

These friends are sent to tell you to get your life together when you are being weak and dramatic. These are the friends who go out of their way to help you feel good about yourself and see yourself how God sees you. These are the friends who act as a mirror and will completely tell you about yourself…in the direct kind of way that you will not soon forget. 

If you are blessed enough to have one of these types of friends, they are the complete icing on the cake. 

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

Proverbs 27:17