First Baptist Church Children’s Musical

By Faerie Sledge

The children’s choir of the First Baptist Church Coushatta presented its annual Christmas musical on Sunday night, December 6, 2020, in the sanctuary. The musical was Straight Outta Bethlehem by Christy and Daniel Semsen. It is the story of Christ’s birth from the outlook of several orphans of Bethlehem. As the story line by the Semsens goes, “God sent his Son straight outta Bethlehem—an unlikely place in an unlikely time.”

The orphans were played by Michael Allen, Adyson Barrett, Cannon Breedlove, McKinley Davis, Reagan Davis, Julia Mills, and Hannah Murray. Summer Rushing was the innkeeper. The Disco Angels were Dally Bell and Hope Mills. Cast as the Disco Shepherds were Bella Allen, Layla Allen, Carter Breedlove, and Ryder Shaver.

Three months old Keagan McCarthy made a special appearance as baby Jesus. Mary was played by Sarah Garrett and Joseph by Dr. Hunter Brown.

Animal choir members included Zachary Garrett and Micah Webb as the chickens along with Ebony Brown, Ivory Brown, Jillian Shaver, and Hardee Waters as the sheep. Cast as the donkeys were Trevor Bell, Morgan Moseley, Sam Murray, and Landon Webb. The cows were played by Dally Bell and Hope Mills. Rounding out the animal cast were Levi Brown and Jett Waters as the cats.

The sixth graders appearing in their final children’s choir performance were Summer Rushing and Cannon Breedlove.

Julie Page is choir director. She was assisted on the musical by Melanie Davis, Jennifer Moseley, and Lindsay Waters. Helping out on lighting and sound were Kara Mitchell and Nicole Webb. Dr. Nathan Davis is pastor.

Back – Adyson Barrett, Julia Mills, Summer Rushing, McKinley Davis & Hannah Murray
Front – Reagan Davis, Cannonb Breedlove & Michael Allen
Sixth Graders – Summer Rushing & Cannon Breedlove
The Angels – Dally Bell & Hope Mills
The Shepherds – Carter Breedlove, Layla Allen, Bells Allen & Ryder Shaver.
The Sheep – Hardee Waters, Ebony Brown, Jilian Shaver & Ivory Brown
The Cats – Jett Waters & Levi Brown
The Donkeys – Morgan Moseley, Trevor Bell, Landon Webb & Sam Murray
The Cows – Dally Bell and Hope Mills
The Chickens – Zachary Garrett & Micah Webb
Mary & Joseph – Sarah Garrett & Dr. Hunter Brown
Keegan McCarthy as Baby Jesus

Calvary Prevails

The Calvary Baptist Academy Cavaliers took control early and never let the Bulldogs get command of the game Monday night.  Final score was the Cavaliers 67 and Red River 51.

Calvary is a well-coached team and despite moments of sloppy play, they out maneuvered Red River all the way.  And whatever you do, don’t let Daniel Ortiz or Labree Williams, Jr. get to the foul line.

The Dawgs got good production from the starting five.  Trey Smith and Antron Williams each had 10 points, Marcus Brewer 8, Brandon Harris 12, and D’Evan McDonald 9.  However it was not enough to overcome an early Calvary lead that held up through the game.

There is an old saying that you don’t learn anything playing a weak team.  But you do when you play a highly skilled team.  Calvary is the team to learn from.  They have defeated teams this fall by 15 to 60 points.

The Journal wants to thank Brady Williams of TBW Photography for the great game photos.

Who Wants the Last $100?

The Journal asks if you want to be our next, and final winner of $100 in the Christmas Holiday Giveaway?  If you do, register today.  Here is the link to register:

Our final winner will be announced in Friday’s edition.

Pictured with this article are our winners from Christmas week.  They are Charles Frye and Nelda Fields.  Each received a $50 gift card to Rivertown Market and a $50 gift card to York Chop.

The winner in this edition of The Journal is Bridget Denise Cole of Coushatta.  She works at International Paper in Campti.  She also wins $100 in gift cards.

One more winner will be named in Friday’s edition.  If you have not registered, do so today. 

Two Riverdale Football Players on MSAIS All-Star Team

By Molly Seales

Each year for football and other sports, the MSAIS coaches select outstanding seniors to play in the all-star game.  It is a high honor to be chosen for this team because players are chosen from all classes from 1A-6A.  This year Riverdale Academy had two players chosen for the team:  Parker Almond and Paul Messenger.

Both of these players put up outstanding performances this season on offense and on defense. During this Cinderella season, #2 Parker Almond had 40 receptions for 969 yards and 13 touchdowns.  He had 3 punt returns for touchdowns.  He had a total of 1,327 total yards for the year.  #4 Paul Messenger had 169 carries for 1183 yards and 15 touchdowns. He had a total of 1,224 total yards for the year. Both of them did their part on defense as well.  Parker had 42 total tackles, including 5 tackles for loss and 1 sack.  He had 5 interceptions, and he returned 3 of them for touchdowns.  He also had 6 pass deflections, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 fumble recovery.  Paul had a total of 87 tackles, including 14 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and 1 interception.

The Class 1A-3A All Star Game was held on December 4 at 2:00 p.m. at Jackson Prep in Jackson, Mississippi.  Due to basketball practice and an upcoming tournament, Parker opted out of playing in the all-star game to focus on basketball, where he is a starting guard and leader of the team. Paul reported to Jackson on Wednesday, December 2, to begin preparing for the game.  His parents, Clay and Ashlie Messenger, and Grandmother Mary Almond made the trip on Friday to cheer him on.  Paul was on the white team and wore #8 for the game.  His coaches chose him for the honor of being defensive captain of his team for the 1A-3A all-star game.  His coach Jared Smelser said, “Coaches have called me telling me it was a pleasure to coach him and how great of a kid he is.” During the game, Paul played many quality minutes at middle linebacker and full back.  His stellar senior season ended in one final win, as the white team defeated the blue team in a thrilling 13-9 victory. 

After the All-Star Game Paul’s mother Ashlie posted on Facebook,  “White team wins 13-9! What a way to wrap up Paul’s senior year of football. He was the defensive captain for his team and played quite a bit of offense too.  As we walked away one of his teammates called out, ‘See ya in basketball!’ and just like that, they’ll be opponents again.  He’ll never forget this experience, nor will we.  So thankful!”

The Riverdale Rebel fans will really miss watching Paul and Parker, as well as seniors Witt Almond and Brennan Edie, on the field next year. Congratulations to all four of these seniors on a spectacular final season of high school football.


Dipper’s New Year’s Celebration

By Brad Dison

“Happy New Year!” Everyone in New Orleans, it seemed, was out in the streets celebrating the passing of the old year, 1912, and was welcoming in the new, 1913.  Brass bands paraded through the neighborhoods playing Dixieland jazz by torch light.  People with expendable incomes shot off Roman candles and other fireworks, while others celebrated by making as much noise as possible with whatever they could find.  People banged on pots and pans, scrap pieces of metal and tin, anything that would make a noise.  Another popular form of ringing in the new year was firing guns into the air, which was and is illegal in most cities and towns.  They accompanied whatever noise they could make by yelling, “Happy New Year!” 

Eleven-year-old Dipper had no money for frivolities such as fireworks.  He grew up in one of the most impoverished and dangerous neighborhoods in New Orleans.  His father had left when he was just a few years old and his mother worked odd jobs to keep Dipper and his sister fed.  Dipper had several “stepfathers” through the years, some of which were good for Dipper’s family, but most were not.

Dipper took odd jobs to help his mother buy food for the family.  Even at the young age of eleven, he realized he needed to do his part for his family’s survival.  He hustled newspapers, coal, and anything else he could get his hands upon legally.  He and three of his friends became street performers and formed a singing quartet.  Dipper and his friends walked down street after street singing the popular hits of the day.  If someone liked their singing and had some spare change, they motioned for the quartet to sing a few songs for them.  Afterword, the customer gave them some spare change, which the quartet divided up.  Dipper gave his earnings to his mother. 

On December 31, 1912, Dipper and his four friends wandered through the streets looking for a customer with some spare change.  Dipper was well prepared to ring in the new year.  Earlier in the evening, he went into his mother’s trunk and found his stepfather’s .38 caliber revolver pistol.  He stealthily removed the pistol from the trunk and slipped it into his pocket.  He had found his noisemaker.

Dipper and the other members of the quartet were enjoying themselves on this New Year’s Eve.  They sang, laughed, joked around, and sang some more.  As they were walking and singing on Rampart Street, they were interrupted by six shots from a small caliber pistol.  “dy-dy-dy-dy-dy-dy.”  Someone yelled, “Happy New Year!”  Dipper heard what a pathetic sound the small caliber pistol made and motioned to his friends.  He pulled the .38 caliber pistol from his pocket, aimed it toward the sky, and fired.  POW!   POW!   POW!   POW!   POW!   POW!  “Happy New Year!”  People all around them laughed. 

After the laughter died down, Dipper pocketed the pistol and the quartet continued down Rampart Street singing for tips.  A little while later, Dipper reloaded the pistol, aimed it toward the sky, and fired six more shots.  POW!   POW!   POW!   POW!   POW!   POW!  Just then, Dipper felt two strong hands grab him from behind.  His friends ran.  For Dipper, there was no escape.  The two strong hands belonged to a New Orleans detective.  He begged, cried, and pleaded for the detective to allow him to go home, but the detective disregarded his pleas and took him to jail.

Dipper was scared.  He had never been arrested and wondered what would become of him.  The next morning, a juvenile court judge sentence him to spend an undetermined length of time in the Waifs’ Home for Boys.  A policeman transported Dipper and several other boys to the Waifs’ Home in a prison cart led by two horses.     

Dipper was terrified when they reached the Waifs’ Home.  He and the other boys were stripped of their clothes, forced into showers, were checked for lice, and received ill-fitting uniforms.  One of the keepers led the newcomers into the mess hall where other inmates sat eating “white beans without rice out of tin plates.”  For three days, Dipper was too afraid to eat.  The keepers and other inmates mocked Dipper for not eating, but he gave no response.  On the fourth day, his hunger was too strong for him to ignore.

In addition to scrubbing floors, making beds, and a myriad of other undesirable but necessary chores, the keepers at the Waifs’ Home taught Dipper and the other boys various skills.  Mr. Jones drilled the boys every morning and taught them the proper way to use rifles in formation with wooden rifles.  Mr. Alexander taught carpentry and gardening.  Mr. Davis gave the boys other vocational training, which included music.  One of the only choices the boys had in the Waifs’ Home was their selection of vocation.  Dipper had always been drawn to music and naturally gravitated towards Mr. Davis’s orchestra.  For the first six months, Mr. Davis refused to allow Dipper to actually play any instrument, and Dipper had been too afraid to ask.  Finally, Mr. Davis asked Dipper if he wanted to play in the band.  Dipper was excited.  Rather than hand him a cornet, the instrument Dipper had dreamed of playing, Mr. Davis handed him a tambourine.  Although disappointed, Dipper played the tambourine with such unique style that Mr. Davis immediately made him the drummer in their marching brass band.  Within a short time, Mr. Davis, pleased at Dipper’s quick progress with the drums, taught him how to play an alto saxophone.  Dipper was a quick student and progressed quickly.  Dipper became the bugler for the Waifs’ Home, which was a coveted position because the bugler was excused from most of the undesirable chores required of the other boys.  Dipper had so impressed Mr. Davis that he made Dipper the leader of the brass band and taught him how to play the cornet.  Dipper “was in seventh heaven.”  Dipper practiced the cornet faithfully and impressed everyone who heard his unique style. 

He was eventually freed from the Waifs’ Home.  For years, Dipper worked at manual labor during the day and played his cornet at night.  He eventually became world-famous for his unique playing and singing abilities.  Had it not been for Dipper’s arrest on New Year’s Eve and his incarceration at the Waifs’ Home for Boys, we may never have heard the musical talents of a man who went by many nicknames including Dipper, Dippermouth, Pops, and Satchmo (short for Satchel Mouth).  Dipper’s real name was Louis Armstrong.


Armstrong, Louis. Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans. New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1986.      

4H Nutrition

Here is a suggestion from the Red River 4-H office.  Join us for A New Year, An Improved You, a virtual lesson that provides tips to have a healthier new year. This FREE lesson is offered on January 12 and January 22.

Nutrition agents will discuss ways to build a balanced meal, consuming calories wisely, be physically active without going to a gym, and how to do it all at a reasonable cost. Ditch the “all or nothing” approach to new year dieting and join us for approachable ways to improve your overall health. 

To sign-up, copy this link in your browser.

Electoral College Process Allows For Principled Objections

By Royal Alexander

Votes not ‘regularly given’ or an elector not ‘lawfully certified’ include objections to individual electoral votes or to state returns as a whole

Polling indicates that as much as 54% of the country feels the presidential election was not fairly and honestly conducted and, therefore, that the outcome is illegitimate.  So, at this point, what can be done about that?

Short of the U.S. Supreme Court deciding to hear a case that challenges the voting procedures in the contested states, the only likely constitutional and/or statutory path left is an objection in the Joint Session.  The objection would have to be based on the allegation that an electoral vote was “not regularly given” or that an elector was “not lawfully certified.”  (3 U.S.C. § 15).  These two grounds are considered by legal scholars to include objections to individual electoral votes or to state returns as whole.

The specific procedure for making objections to the counting of electoral votes is as follows:  The objection must be presented in writing and must be signed by at least one Senator and one Representative.  The objection must state clearly and concisely, and without argument, the grounds for the objection.  When an objection is properly made in writing and endorsed by at least one Senator and one Representative, the joint session is suspended, and each house then meets separately to consider the objection.

So, the House meets alone and the Senate withdraws from the House chamber to also separately consider and debate the objection for no more than two hours and then vote whether to count the electoral vote (s).  If both houses then vote separately and, by a simple majority, don’t each agree to the objection, the objection fails and those electoral vote (s) are counted.

Of course, the reason the electors are so important is because the Electoral College is the formal body that actually elects the President and VP.  Each state has as many “electors” in the Electoral College as it has Representatives and Senators in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate. (LA. has 8).  So, when voters vote in a Presidential election, they are actually voting for a slate of electors who vow to cast their ballots for that ticket in the Electoral College.

On Jan 3, 2021, the new Congress will be sworn in.  On Jan. 6, 2021, at 1:00 pm, the new Congress counts the electoral votes at a joint session of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House in the U.S. House chamber.  The President of the Senate, Vice President Mike Pence, presides over the joint session.  This process usually certifies a winner of the presidential election.

We will see whether it does this time.  Even if the outcome of the election is not changed, making objections that must be separately heard and voted upon is a highly visible—and highly principled—manner by which to formally declare on the record whether this election was conducted in a way that deserves the faith in, and support of, millions of American voters.

(P.S.  As an aside, I offer again that the State Legislatures in each of the disputed states—Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Pennsylvania—clearly possess the plenary (complete) constitutional authority to decide which electors to certify.  Recall that because the new Congress doesn’t meet until Jan. 3rd, electoral votes are not counted until Jan. 6, and a new president is not inaugurated until Jan. 20th, any certification that has been made—remember Dec. 8th and Dec. 14th are statutory deadlines not constitutional ones—can still be rescinded and a correct certification of electors made by each legislature.  It is the state legislatures that must act).

Notice of Death – December 30, 2020

Mary Lucille Williams

August 26, 1955 to December 25, 2020

Dorothy Norred

April 24, 1934 to December 28, 2020

Paul Avery Blakesley

October 3, 1956 to December 28, 2020

Ruth Ethylene Carney McLaren

August 18, 1938 to December 29, 2020


ETC… for Wednesday, December 30th

Red River is getting a new Judge.  Luke Mitchell will be sworn in Friday, January 1st.  Mitchell told The Journal the swearing in will take place at 1:00 pm at the Courthouse.

Here are a couple of upcoming events from Red River Cowboy Church.  In the arena, the 4th playday of the series is Saturday, January 2nd!!  Exhibition barrels from 9-10:30. Playday begins at 11:00.

The following Sunday at Cowboy Church, Brother Daily with Wild Horse Ministries will be bringing the Sunday Message Jan 10th. Come out and be a part of it.

Riverdale basketball has been on holiday for the past couple of weeks.  They are scheduled to resume Saturday afternoon.  Riverfield Academy is scheduled to be in town. There will be JV games starting at 2:00 pm.  The varsity games will begin about 4:00.  Journal Sports is planning on broadcasting the varsity games live.  Here is the link to listen:

Ruth Ethylene Carney McLaren

Funeral services for Ruth Ethylene Carney McLaren, 82, of Fairview Alpha, LA will be held at 10 A.M. Thursday, December 31, 2020 at Davis Springs Southern Methodist Church Activities Building with her husband, Bro. Olan McLaren officiating and Bro. Robert Frederick assisting.  Interment will follow in Davis Springs Cemetery.  Visitation will be held from 6 P.M. until 8 P.M. Wednesday, December 30, 2020 at Davis Springs Southern Methodist Church Activities Building.  Funeral services under the direction of Rockett-Nettles Funeral Home, Coushatta, LA.

Ms. Ethylene was born August 18, 1938 in Coushatta, LA and passed away December 29, 2020.

Ms. Ethylene, known as “Mamaw” or “Aunt Nene” to most everyone, married her high school sweetheart Dec. 27, 1955, during their senior year.  They graduated in May of 1956. 

She was a homemaker until 1969 when she went to work at Fairview Alpha High School as secretary.  She retired after serving 36 years.  She was a member of Davis Springs Southern Methodist Church where she taught Sunday School and kept the nursery for over 50 years. There was a mutual love between her and her “children”, even though she disciplined them when necessary.

She was a devoted mother and mamaw to the Fairview Alpha Community.  She loved to cook and was known for her fried fish, tomato gravy, purple hull peas and blueberry crunch.  She always had an open door to everyone and no one ever left hungry. 

She loved country music and made many trips to Branson, always seeing her favorite entertainer Mickey Gilley. 

She served her family, her church and her community.  She made over 300 tied blankets and gave away each one. She was a hard worker and had the heart of a servant. She will be dearly missed by all who knew her.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Roy and Nettie Carney; in-laws, Olan N. “Mac” and Buena McLaren; brother, Roy Lynn “Pistol” Carney; and son-in-law, Mark Riggs.

Ms. Ethylene is survived by her husband of 65 years, Olan D. McLaren; children, Barbara Holland and husband Terry, Phillip McLaren and wife Cindy, Ken McLaren and wife Theresa, and Melissa Frye and husband Henry; grandchildren: Jennifer Morrow and husband Rick, Jeremy Riggs and wife Joni, Torri Tonahill and husband Jesse, Cassie Tena and husband Edward, Erin McLaren, Emily Wiggins and husband Mitch, Tyler McLaren, Joshua McKerley and wife Katie, Madison McLaren, and Jace Miley; great-grandchildren: Jaylee Wyatt and husband Colby, Jackson Riggs, Jammeson McIntyre, Julia Grace Riggs, Kipten Tonahill, Jack Tena, Beau Tena, Keeli Tonahill, Amari Moore, Keegan Tonahill, Benjamin Wiggins, Levi McKerley, and Kendall McLaren; great-great grandson, Elijah Wyatt and great-great granddaughter on the way, Marlee Kate Wyatt; brother, George “Cogger” Carney; sisters, Laura Ables, JoAnn Vaughan and husband Skip, and Nelda Corley; and sister-in-law, Betty Carney.

Pallbearers will be Jeremy Riggs, Tyler McLaren, Joshua McKerley, Jace Miley, Jackson Riggs, and Jammeson McIntyre.

The family wishes to express a special thanks to Hospice of Natchitoches, especially Haley Roberts and Dorcas Bernstein.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or the charity of your choice.

“Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.” Proverbs 31:30

Paul Avery Blakesley

Graveside services for Paul Avery Blakesley, 64, of Fairview Alpha, LA will be held at 12 Noon, Saturday, January 2, 2021 at Baker Cemetery with Bro. Marvin “Blackie” Burkett officiating.  Visitation will be held from 10 A.M. until 11 A.M. on Saturday, January 2, 2021 at Rockett-Nettles Funeral Home.

Mr. Blakesley was born October 3, 1956 in Shreveport, LA and passed away December 28, 2020.

He was preceded in death by his mother, Mary Shelton.

Mr. Blakesley is survived by two brothers, Ralph Yount and wife, Vicky of Fairview Alpha, LA and Rick Shelton of Bossier City, LA; one sister, Judy Cox of Coushatta, LA; numerous nieces and nephews; special friend, Cindy Harveston; and special niece, Kimberly Pfotenhauer.

Pallbearers will be Jimmy Adams, Dennis Pfotehnauer, Colt Jackson, Randy Jackson, Christopher Rivet, and J. D. Philyaw.  Honorary pallbearer will be Brooks Baker.

Mary Lucille Williams

Graveside services for Mary Lucille Williams, 65, of Coushatta, LA will be held at 2 P.M. Wednesday, December 30, 2020 at Bethany Cemetery.  Visitation will be held from 11 A.M. until 1 P.M. Wednesday, December 30, 2020 at Rockett-Nettles Funeral Home.

Mrs. Williams was born August 26, 1955 in Shreveport, LA and passed away December 25, 2020.  Lucille was a lady that had a heart of gold.  She was always providing for others and wanted to be sure that their needs were taken care of.  She enjoyed spending time daily at the Council on Aging with her friends who were like family to her.  Lucille also had a deep love for her own family.  She will always be remembered and missed by all those who knew her and loved her.

She was preceded in death by her fathers, Leslie Roser and Charley Cox; mother, Jewel Cox; and sister, Leola Hugg.

Mrs. Williams is survived by her son, John Vinzant and wife, Joett; daughter, Denica Vinzant; one brother, Billy Mangham; four grandchildren, Makenzie Vinzant, Dusty, Katie Young, and Hevin Tilley; one great-granddaughter, Piper Young; and two expected great-grandchildren; niece, Debbie Rutan; nephew, Billy Yount; and special aunt, Betty Carney.

Dorothy Norred

Celebration of life and home going service for Dorothy Norred will be held 10:00 AM Wednesday, December 30, 2020 in Social Springs Baptist Church with Rev. James Hester officiating.  Burial will follow in Social Springs Cemetery in the Social Springs Community, LA.  Visitation will be held from 5:00 PM until 8:00 PM Tuesday, December 29, 2020 at the church.

Mrs. Norred, 86, of Social Springs Community went to be with her Lord and Savior Monday, December 28, 2020 in Coushatta, LA.

Mrs. Norred was a native of Social Springs Community.  She was born April 24, 1934 in Lena, LA to  parents, Clarence and Ophelia Adams Rachal and later adopted by Clevin and Clarice Woodard Rachal.  Mrs. Norred was a wonderful mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

Preceding her in death are her adoptive parents; biological parents; husband, Jasper Norred; brother, Glen Rachal, and grandson, Kyle Norred.

Those left to cherish her memory are her sisters, Juanita Dodd and Vera Bamburg; son, Kenneth J. Norred and wife, Kay; daughter, Stephanie Hinds and husband, Ricky; four grandchildren, Clay Hinds and wife Cassy, Kane Norred and wife Kari, Cole Hinds and wife Natalie, and Katy Ley; five great-grandchildren, Ava Norred, Jackson Norred, Ella Norred, Vivian Norred, and Walker Hinds and numerous friends, relatives, nieces and nephews.

Honoring her as pallbearers will be Clay Hinds, Kane Norred, Cole Hinds, Kevin Guice, Joe Giddens, and Rodney Griffin.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Social Springs Baptist Church Building Fund.

Merry Christmas???

We greet each other with “Merry Christmas” this time of year.  And we end conversations with the same greeting.  But why?  Why say this and do we mean it?

But have you ever stopped to wonder where the phrase “Merry Christmas” actually comes from? After all, for most other holidays, we use the word “happy.” In a world where “Happy Easter” and “Happy Birthday” are the norm, that “merry” part of “Merry Christmas” is unique—to say the least.

No one is entirely certain of the answer, but there are several interesting theories.

A scan of the internet brings up these interesting thoughts:

For starters, it’s important to note that “Happy Christmas” hasn’t faded completely—it’s still widely used in England. This is believed to be because “happy” took on a higher class connotation than “merry,” which was associated with the rowdiness of the lower classes. The royal family adopted “Happy Christmas” as their preferred greeting, and others took note. (In fact, each year, Queen Elizabeth continues to wish her citizens a “Happy Christmas,” rather than a merry one.)

From Wonderopolis:

Historians and linguists can’t pinpoint for sure exactly why we tend to use Merry Christmas. The greeting dates back to at least 1534 in London, when it was written in a letter sent to Henry VIII’s chief minister Thomas Cromwell from bishop John Fisher. Scholars also note the phrase was used in the 16th century English carol “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

From NBC News:

Today, however, the practice of using “Merry Christmas” is a fraught one. The choice between sticking with the traditional salutation or the more politically correct “Happy Holidays” is riven by differences in ideology, age, geography and gender. The person most likely to insist on “Merry Christmas” would be a Republican man over 60 who lives in the Midwest; the archetypal “Happy Holidays” proponent is a young (18 to 29) female Democrat living in the Northeast.

The political gap can be particularly large: A 2016 Public Religion Research Institute survey found, for example, that in response to the question, “Do you think stores and businesses should greet their customers with ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Seasons Greetings’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas’ out of respect for people of different faiths, or not?” 67 percent of Republicans said “No” and 66 percent of Democrats said “Yes.”

After thinking all this over and putting aside all the “political correctness” one may choose to follow, Merry Christmas is the preferred greeting of many folks in our area.  Underlying there may be a desire to acknowledge the birth of Jesus or Immanuel.  After all the angels announced to the shepherds that cold night that “I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:  to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 1:10-11 NRSV).”

And that is the reason we celebrate.  MERRY CHRISTMAS!

We’ll Stay In Phase Two Through Mid-January

From The Center Square

Gov. John Bel Edwards on Tuesday said he would not change any of the regulations currently in place to control the spread of COVID-19, keeping the state in a modified version of “Phase 2” of the White House-approved mandates through January 13.

The staged rollout of COVID-19 vaccines brings hope that the pandemic will end at some point next year. But Louisiana remains in a precarious situation as the death toll and number of people who are hospitalized continues to climb, officials said while urging residents not to hold large holiday gatherings with people from different households.

“We’re too close to the finish line to make mistakes now, mistakes that are permanent and can’t be undone,” Edwards said.

Restaurants, gyms, barbers, salons, theaters and most retail businesses will continue to be limited to half of their normal indoor capacity. Places of worship will remain at a maximum of 75 percent of their capacity or the number of people who can physically distance with at least six feet between each immediate household.

For bars in parishes where the positivity rate (the proportion of COVID-19 tests that come back positive) is above 5 percent, barrooms are closed to indoor sales and consumption but can still serve up to 50 people outside. Indoor gatherings at event centers and sporting events are limited to 25 percent capacity, while outdoor gatherings where maintaining physical distance is not possible are limited to 25% capacity or up to 150 individuals.

Gifts of the Magi

On Saturday December 19th twelve Coushatta families received early Christmas presents through the Gifts of the Magi Program sponsored by St. George Catholic Church in Coushatta, Mary Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Bossier and the St. Vincent de Paul Program.

Fifty children received 2 presents each and each family received a family game, a food box, fresh fruit and a frozen chicken. This is an annual event that Ms. Iverson from Red River Elementary assists in. This year due to Covid, it was a drive through event, which didn’t dampen the many smiles and warm wishes for a Merry Christmas!

St. George Catholic Church is on the Ashland Road, 3076 Highway 155.

“An All-American Christmas”

By Molly Seales

On Friday morning, December 18, the students of Riverdale Academy presented the musical “An All-American Christmas” for their friends and family.  They practiced hard for a couple of weeks before the presentation and did a wonderful presentation.  Principal and former music teacher Danny Rester led the students as they sang about American Christmas traditions and how they came to be.

The program began as the 3rd and 4th graders sang, “An All-American Christmas,” with narration by Trevor Bell, Hasty Davis, Porter Eaves, Brylee Halbmaier, Ellie Reese Hillman, and William McCoy. Next the 7th and 8th graders sang “Roots.”  Then the 5th and 6th graders sang, “We Gather Together,” with narration by Madalynn Baxley, Kenna Coleman, Brooklyn Giddings, Jackson Hillman, Kaden McNeely, Ryder Shaver, and Isabella Stephens. The 5th and 6th graders also sang, “Over the River,” with narration by Cannon Breedlove and Kaleigh Pickett.

After this, Mr. Rester’s 10th Grade religion class presented a Christmas Eve service featuring the lighting of the advent candles.  3rd grade teacher Brittney Mancil gave the invocation before they began. Students participating in this were Ben Almond, Emma Clemons, Jessie Kate Cobb, Luke Greer, Emily Kirkland, Mason Murray, Tyler Parker, Molly Seales, and James Wagoner. During the Christmas Eve service, students and guests sang “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” “Away in a Manger,” “The First Noel,” and “Joy to the World.”

After the Christmas Eve service, there was a narration entitled “Babe of Bethlehem.”  Readers were Darcey Bohannon, Destiney Bohannon, Preston Eaves, Ally Kate Hillman, Krista Mancil, Lexi Mancil, Alaina  Boyd, Hanna Catherine Huddleston, Mary Claire Jones, Ayla Knotts, Makayla Pickett, and Gracie Stephens. After the narration, the 1st and 2nd graders sang “We Three Kings” and “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.” 

As students neared the end of the program, a “Santa Underscore” was played and accompanied by narration from Shirley Boyd, Kacie Harper, Jadyn King, and Matthew Seales.  PreK and Kindergarten wowed the crowd as they sang (and a couple danced) to “Must Be Santa.”  For the finale, students in grades PreK-8th sang “Yankee Doodle Santa,” and, following a narration by Brennan Edie, also sang “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

I think that everyone in attendance really enjoyed the program.  Afterwards, students were dismissed to their class Christmas parties and then went home to begin their much- anticipated Christmas Break.  The teachers then enjoyed a pot luck luncheon where they revealed their Secret Santa’s.  On behalf of everyone at Riverdale Academy, I’d like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and blessed year in 2021.  Remember-Jesus is the Reason for the Season!

Christmas Giveaway

By Tangela Smith Maxwell

Red River Restoration Center LLC along with Red River Community Center Inc. held its first annual Christmas Giveaway on 12-19-2020. Red River Restoration Center is an organization which works towards rescuing, restoring and revamping lives.

Red River Community Center is a federally 501 (c) (3) non- profit organization whose mission statement is capturing the imagination of individuals and turning their most memorable moments into existence.

Services provided will include 

After school torturing, substance Abuse groups, parenting classes, job ready and interview prep, Summer programs, providing food and clothing to those in need, conflict resolution, problem solving skills. And counseling.

Both organizations are founded by Tangela Smith Maxwell.

The Christmas Give Away was based on income and applicants had to be a resident of Red River Parish. Ages included were 0-17

Some items given away included 

Tablets, bicycles, power wheels, kids razors, baby dolls, gift cards, kids kitchen sets, blankets, board games, lots of other toys, books, car seats, shoes, purses and clothes. 

Special thanks to Katherine Smith- RRP School Board Homeless Liaison

Brenda Iverson-RRP Elem School Counselor

Red River Restoration Center LLC and Red River Community Center Inc. Would like to thank our sponsors and volunteers:

Mayor Johnny Cox and wife Valerie

Derrick peoples

Coushatta Police Department

Stuart & Kylie Shaw

Willie Wilson- On The Spot Washing Services

Chandra Wilson- Chandra Wilson Home Group

Jay Q. Thomas

Wanda Denise

Tray and Connie Murray- State Farm

Danny and Debbie Lewis- D&D fun Jump Rental

Anthony and Enisha Young

Jessie Davis

Sheriff Glen Edwards and wife Angela

Vergie Smith

Justin Maxwell- Grand Bayou Transport LLC

Ben and Anita Taylor- Ben Taylor Enterprise 

Dell and Savanah Smith

Jermaine and Monica Lewis

James and Nancy Taylor

Jasmine Taylor- A Sista’s Touch

Jeffery and Crystal Jones 

Stacy and Sharon Taylor and family

Bobby and Angela White

Micheal and Bridget Smith

Robert and Robin Owens 

Charmaine Madison and family

Marcus and Patrice Willis

Chedez Kinchen and family

Desiree Perot

Shirts by: Smith’s Sport’s 

NOTE: All public officials who donated gave from their personal accounts. No public funds were donated.

All is Calm…All is Bright

By Reba Phelps

There is nothing more joyous to the soul than the beautiful sights and sounds of a Christmas morning with young children. The energy seeping from their pores can be felt from the opposite end of the house, even before they wake. The happy faces while they are ripping open packages combined with the losing of batteries and parts, the mountain of torn up paper and the comparing of gifts with neighborhood kids all make for the perfect pictures and stories to be handed down for generations to come. 

I do not remember a Christmas morning that did not include picking our way through a garbage can looking for something inadvertently thrown away. 

Also accompanying this madness is a deep feeling of exhaustion.There is normally a month long frenzy of various Christmas parties that turn into late nights. The months of holiday shopping can quickly morph into stressful last minute gifts. The nonstop eating of casseroles from Thanksgiving to Christmas can always cause countless issues for the waistline and scales. 

And, what is Christmas without the Christmas Eve church service. This is always my favorite church service of the year. It is simply beautiful with the carefully lit candles and carols being sung. All of this does help mentally prepare one for the manual labor that happens later that night while helping Santa land and unload the sleigh as well as having snacks prepared to serve him and the reindeer. 

After the Christmas breakfast is served it was always time to load up the car and head to a relatives house where the day would be spent cherishing the company of loved ones. By the time the sunset had set on Christmas Day it was as if we lived a lifetime in less than forty-eight hours. 

There is not much calm to speak of during the hustle and bustle of the holidays when your children are young and you have places to go. 

Year by year our Christmases naturally grew a little quieter and quieter. The early morning rambunctiousness was traded for sleeping in and enjoying coffee or hot chocolate with whoever made their way to the living room first. They take a little longer to open gifts and savor the moment. There is still a twinge of excitement, but it is overall just a calm excitement. Peaceful and quiet. 

This year, for reasons beyond all of our control our Christmas will even be more calm. There are not many places to go during the holidays this year. Office parties have been cancelled. Christmas concerts are being enjoyed virtually. School programs are either cancelled or moved to a virtual platform. Large family gatherings have been cancelled. Christmas Festival was greatly reduced. But, we still have the bright fireworks to light up the night sky. 

It is almost as if everything we would traditionally celebrate this year has been taken and replaced with simplicity. Authentic time in peaceful solitude with immediate families seems to be the common thread of all celebrations in 2020. 

Just like when Jesus was born. It was a small crowd in a humble and lowly barn. No modern luxuries to speak of or large crowds. Just a family surrounded by a few farm animals and one bright star to light up the sky. Much like the bright star we will be able to see next week for the first time in 800 years. We can always find a bright spot even in the most difficult of years. 

“When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.”

Mathew 2:10

A Christmas Reflection

By Royal Alexander

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, many of us will pause to reflect on this past year.  It has been a difficult one for sure, at times excruciating; perhaps the most difficult year many of us have ever experienced.  And, perhaps one of our most fervent wishes is that 2021 be nothing like it.  

There remains a heaviness across the nation; a sense that tensions in an already sharply divided country have only been exacerbated by a pandemic that has forced major changes in every aspect of our lives as well as enormous economic dislocation, civil unrest, multiple hurricanes, and a national election that many view as illegitimate.

However, on the bright side is the indisputable fact that Americans are, and America is, strong and resilient.  We are intrinsically hopeful and reflexively optimistic and much of that belief flows from our faith in God.  The rest of it stems from the fact that we realize we are blessed to live in the greatest country in the world—and that tomorrow will be better because there is no better place than America to make it so.  

I don’t know what will be necessary of us to begin to heal our country, but I am certain that it is going to require a power much greater than our own.  I hope for a time we can all slow our hectic paces and reflect on the most profound birth, and gift, the world has ever known.  From there may we, relying on what Lincoln referred to as the “better angels” of our nature, prayerfully and hopefully find a way to begin again. 

Riverdale Academy DARE Graduation

By: Lt. Troy Murray (DARE Officer)

On December 16, 2020, after successfully completing the requirements of the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program, ten fifth grade students from Riverdale Academy received graduation certificates in a ceremony held in their classroom. Hopes are to have a traditional graduation ceremony with guests, guest speakers and skits in the spring.

Each student took part in the activities which included opening and closing prayers, the Pledge of Allegiance, reading of the DARE vision and mission statements, recognition of the top three DARE essays and one student who shared what DARE meant to him. Students recognized for exceptional DARE reports were Madelyn Chamberlin (1st place), Chloe Spradley (2nd place) and Jax Hearold (3rd place).

At the conclusion of the program, each student anxiously emptied his/her Christmas stocking which had been filled with DARE goodies and enjoyed a piece of delicious chocolate cake to wrap things up.

While there is no way to truly measure the impact of the DARE program, there should be no question that it equips our children with tools that can be helpful throughout their lifetimes. In addition to educating students on the dangers associated with drugs and alcohol, the DARE program covers much more. This includes responsible decision making, resistance strategies, peer pressure, stress, effective communication, bullying, being a good citizen and establishing a help network.

Sheriff Edwards would like to extend his appreciation to the Riverdale Academy school board and administration for allowing the Red River Parish Sheriff’s Office the opportunity to present the program. Thanks also go to fifth grade teacher Katie Williamson for her help throughout the year as well as Tye and Amanda Adams for providing the refreshments for the students.

Great job Riverdale DARE Class of 2020! Always remember to be SAFE and RESPONSIBLE!

The essay winners are Chloe Spradley (2nd place), Madelyn Chamberlin (1st place) and Jax Hearold (3rd place).