DARE Graduates 65 Elementary Students

From the Red River Parish Sheriff’s Office

On March 25, 2021, sixty-five Red River Elementary School (RRES) students were presented graduation certificates for successfully completing the requirements of the DARE program. Due to Covid-19 precautions, attendance was limited to fifth grade students, select RRES faculty/administration and sheriff’s office staff. Red River Parish Sheriff’s Deputy/DARE Officer Michael Longino officiated the ceremony.

DARE, which stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, is a program designed to teach students the dangers of using drugs, alcohol and tobacco as well as “how to say no” using DARE’s five resistance strategies. Topics covered include communication skills, peer pressure, stress and bullying along with facts and health effects of using drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Students also learn the DARE Decision Making Model which is designed to help them make safe and responsible choices throughout their lives.

While all the students did a great job, every year one member of each fifth grade class is selected as a workbook winner while another is recognized for writing the best DARE essay. This year’s workbook winners were Ceryniti Taylor, Ashlee Procell, Brody Tong and Jada Gary. DARE essay winners were Gabby Flores, Gabi Bounds, Christopher Griffith and Elizabeth Thomas. Ashlee Procell was also presented with a special DARE Officer’s award by Deputy Longino. Great job everyone!

During the service Sheriff Glen Edwards, Red River Parish School Superintendent Alison Hughes and Principal  Mike Beck spoke to the students about the importance of making wise decisions, setting good examples and being a role model for others as they are the future leaders of our parish.

It is clear that the pandemic, along with several unusual weather events, brought its share of challenges and interruptions to this year’s DARE program which began last September. Sheriff Edwards would like to thank the Red River Parish School Board, RRES faculty/administration and Deputy Longino for working together to ensure that the DARE program was made available and successfully completed.

Deputy Longino would like to thank fifth grade teachers Kayla Terrell, Tammy Sutton, Megan Inman and Ashley Fisher as well as Counselor Crystal Williams for their continued support. He would also like to express his thanks to the fifth grade students for their hard work and dedication and to the parents for entrusting their children to us!

Local Athlete is National Qualifier

March 27th is a day that Desmand Bryant will remember for a long time.  Last Saturday, Bryant qualified for the NJCAA National Meet in the 400 meter dash.  His former track coach at Red River High is Brian Nash.  He recalls Bryant’s winning attitude and approach to the sport.

During his high school days, Bryant won the state title three years in a row.  And Nash said he almost won in his freshman year as well.  Nash said, “I want him to get the recognition he deserves.  I just want people to know his accomplishments and realize that even if you’re from a small town like Coushatta or live on Catfish Bend Road that you can achieve great things.

Bryant now runs for Bossier Parish Community College.  Saturday he became the first Cavalier track and field athlete in program history to qualify for the NJCAA National Meet. Bryant met the national qualifying standard in the 400 meters with an outstanding time of 48.10 seconds in the Dan Veach Invitational held at Southern Arkansas University’s Track Complex.

Bryant, a sophomore from Coushatta, La., finished third overall behind SAU’s Jordan Johnson (47.62) and Woyn Chatman (48.08), who was running unattached. The Red River High School product also competes in the 200 meters but that event was cancelled due to weather-related issues.

The NJCAA National Track & Field Meet is scheduled for May 11-13, 2021, at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas.


Red River Industries Garage Sale

A big garage sale begins today to benefit Red River Industries.  It begins with a pre-sale on social media.  Red River Industries Director Teal Lowring filled in the details.

Days of Sale:

Wed., March 31st  ~ Pre-Sale on Facebook

Thur., April 1st  and Monday April 5th will be sale days at RRI and Red River Storage on US 71 south of Coushatta. Then on Tue., April 6th will be the Final Sale Day at RRI Everything 50% OFF

Also, the sale hours will be 8:30-1:30.

Sale Items include Seasonal Décor, Toys/Games, Baby Bedding, Men, Women, & Kids Shoes and Clothes, Sports,

Fashion Accessories, Books, DVD/VHS, Educational Supplies, Outdoor, Lawn Care, Lawn Décor, Furniture, Tiki Bar, and Prayer Wall. 

There will also be a bake sale featuring the delicious cakes and cookies baked by Red River Industries.

Easter Celebrations

Most churches in the parish are planning special services for Easter Sunday.  Others are planning special events during this week.

The pastor of First Methodist and Wesley Chapel United Methodist Churches is conducting a daily devotional each day at 8:00 am on social media.  Rev. Curtis Carroll said each day will concentrate on the scripture for that day in Holy Week.  Sunday services will be at the regular worship times for both churches.

Maundy Thursday Service will be held on April 1st at First United Methodist Church at 6:00 pm.

Social Springs Baptist Church will have its annual Good Friday Cross Walk at 10am Friday, April 2, walking from The HUB in Hall Summit to the church. We will have a time of praise, prayer, and fellowship at our special Fireside Friday that evening at 6pm, followed by an outdoor viewing of The Passion of the Christ.

A Good Friday worship will be held April 2nd at 6:00 pm at Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church.

Two sunrise services are planned.  You are invited to Grand Bayou for a 6:30 am service.  Bro Matt Endris will bring the message.  Then at 7:30 you are invited to Abbie Lane Retreat for a prayer walk to three of their prayer gardens.  Speakers will be Charles Gibbs at Gethsemane, Ashanti Cole at Calvary and James Hester at the Empty Tomb.

Martin Baptist Church will have one service on Sunday.  Bro. Richard Kaufman said they will meet Easter morning outside at 7:30 am for their Easter Service.

First Baptist Church will have Easter Worship at 11:00 am.  Hickory Grove Baptist Church will also have Easter Worship at 11:00 am.

Red River Cowboy Church will hold an Easter Sunrise Service beginning at 7:00 am Sunday morning.

Abundant Life said, “Every Easter is special but Easter 2021 at ALWC will be extra.  We would love to worship with you on Resurrection Sunday!!”

Social Springs Baptist Church will begin Revival services at 11am Easter Sunday with Bro. Richard Kaufman. Music will be led by Bro. Price Harris. We will have also have evening service at 6pm Easter Sunday, continuing nightly through Saturday, April 10, and again at 11am and 6pm Sunday, April 11.

Parish Easter Egg Hunts

Martin Baptist Church is holding an Easter Egg Hunt tonight Wednesday March 31st).  Bro. Richard Kaufman said the hunt will begin at 6:00 pm at the church.

First Baptist Church is hosting a community wide Easter Egg “Freeze” Hunt at 5:00 pm on Good Friday.  Everyone is invited for the egg hunt plus hotdogs, games, and inflatables.  It will be held in the field next to the playground.

On Saturday, April 3rd, is the Fairview Family Picnic at the Fairview Ballpark from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm.  There will be live music, hot air balloon rides, games and an egg hunt.

Abundant Life Worship Center Kids Ministry invites you to a “Easter Party.”  Bring your basket with 12 plastic eggs.  Kids ages 3-12 are invited.  There will be fellowship, snacks & games 10:30 am -till end of service. Come celebrate our risen King with us.

Blood Drive April 8th at High School

Correction:  The blood drive is April 8th.

There is a Lifeshare blood drive at Red River High on April 8th.  Lifeshare spokesman Philip Maxfield said, “This is a  drive open to the public.   A bus will be parked in the front parking lot.  People are urged to sign up in advance for the blood drive.

There is an ice bucket challenge at Red River.  If 24 units are collected an ice-bath will be enjoyed by both the Lifeshare representative and JROTC unit commander Col. Mark Duffield.  School Principal JC Dickey will also be given an ice bath if the school record of 33 units of blood is broken.

Other recent blood drives have been successful for Lifeshare.  Maxfield said, “We had a great blood drive recently at Riverdale Academy. Thank you for all of the students, staff, and the community for supporting Riverdale Academy’s blood drive. We collected 21 units of blood which matches the school’s record.”

There is a blood drive scheduled in a couple of weeks at Social Springs Baptist Church.  Maxfield said, “This drive is on April 11 from 9a to 1p and it’s to benefit Aaliyah Alford who’s fighting leukemia at St. Jude’s in Memphis. For each unit of blood collected, LifeShare Blood Center will donate $15 to the Alford family to help cover Aaliyah’s medical/travel expenses. Pastor James Hester is leading the drive for the church.”

The Unsinkable Ship

By Brad Dison

It was the largest ship afloat.  At over 800 feet in length, nearly three football fields long, it was a floating city.  Its engineers used cutting edge technology in every facet of its design.  It was considered to be the fastest and safest ship afloat.  Each officer aboard the ship was hand-picked based on his prior service record and on a rigid seamanship examination which focused on sea currents, tides, geography, and wind.  Its crew was also hand-picked based on the strictest of criteria.  The ship boasted two brass bands, two orchestras, and a theatrical company.  It had a company of physicians and fireman in case of emergencies.  

Engineers designed the ship with nineteen water-tight compartments which could be closed in thirty seconds by simply turning a single lever.  Engineers designed the doors of the water-tight compartments in such a way that they would close automatically if they came into contact with rushing water.  The ship could stay afloat even if as many as nine of the nineteen compartments flooded.  Many people, including its designers, builders, and owners, considered the ship to be unsinkable. 

Engineers designed the ship specifically for passenger traffic with every known convenience and comfort imaginable.  Every possible amenity was made available to first-class passengers, fewer amenities for second-class passengers, and even fewer for third-class. The likelihood of the ship being destroyed by fire was unimaginable because the ship would not transport combustible cargo.  Due to all of the ship’s safety features which rendered it practically unsinkable, the ship carried only twenty-four lifeboats, the number required by law.  Cumbersome lifeboats detracted from the travelers’ views of the ocean.  Similarly, the ship carried only the number of cork lifejackets required by law.  Only about two dozen circular life-buoys decorated the decks of the ship.  The buoys were almost considered decorations rather than life-saving devices. 

Engineers determined that the ship was safest when traveling at full speed whether in calm waters, in fog, or during storms, for at least four reasons.  First, if the ship struck another vessel, the force of the impact would be distributed over a larger area if it was traveling at full speed.  Due to the strength of the ship’s construction, the other vessel would sustain the brunt of the damage.  Second, due to the ship’s speed, weight, and construction, it would almost certainly destroy the other vessel, probably cut it in two, if traveling at full speed while only receiving damages that could be easily remedied with a paint brush.  Traveling at only half speed, the ship would sustain more damages to its bows.  Third, at full speed the ship could more easily steer itself out of danger than at half speed.  Forth, in case of striking an iceberg, the ships bows would only be crushed in a few feet further at full speed than at half speed.  At most, only three of the water-tight compartments would flood, which left six to spare before the ship was in danger of sinking.     

On a cold, April night, the ship sailed at full speed in a dense fog in the North Atlantic Ocean.  In the bowels of the great ship, members of the black gang, crewmen who garnered the nickname because they were covered with sweat and coal dust, moved coal by shovel and cart into one of the numerous furnaces. The passengers, oblivious to the workers toiling away below, enjoyed a variety of music, food, and other forms of entertainment.  Some passengers sat in steamer chairs along the decks in the chilly, salty air.  

In the crow’s nest, the highest lookout point on the ship, a single crewman struggled to spot any sign of danger in the thick fog.  Most of the passengers were well asleep by this point.  “All’s well,” the crewman shouted from the crow’s nest at exactly 1 a.m.  At 2 a.m., the crewman in the crow’s nest called out “All’s well,” again.  He yelled the same at 3 a.m.  A few minutes after 3 a.m., the crewman in the crow’s nest yelled that there was something ahead that he was unable to make out.  In the thick fog, the crewman could only make out the faintest outline.  He yelled to officers below that it must be another ship.  The crewmen tried to turn the ship to avoid a collision, but it was too late.  Then the crewmen saw that it was not another ship but a large iceberg.  The ship made only a slight shudder when it struck the iceberg.  Most of the passengers were unaware that they had struck anything.  The ship’s crew was only slightly concerned because the ship was unsinkable.

Conditions on the ship quickly spiraled out of control.  Water quickly filled one water-tight compartment after another.  The ship began to list.  Passengers were awakened by the numerous sounds of plates, glasses, and a host of other items as they crashed to the floor.  They scurried to the ship’s decks to see what had happened.  Few passengers donned life jackets, and even fewer made it into the less-than-adequate number of lifeboats.  The ship sank slowly into the frigid waters of the North Atlantic Ocean.  Most of the passengers and crew perished in the sinking of the unsinkable ship.       

People around the world know the story of the Titanic, and how the ship sank after it struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean with an enormous loss of life.  However, the story you read above was a work of fiction, a novella by Morgan Robertson.  The name of the ship in Robertson’s novella was not the Titanic.  The fictional ship he created was called the Titan.  His book, originally entitled Futility, seemingly recounted the events of the wreck of the Titanic.  However, Robertson’s Futility was published … in 1898, fourteen years before the Titanic sank.  


Source:    Robertson, Morgan. Futility. Rahway, N.J.: The Quinn and Boden Co. Press, 1898.

Red River Principal Named a Principal of the Year Semi-Finalist

JC Dickey, Principal of Red River High School is a semi-finalist for Principal of the Year.  He is among 24 principals statewide who are in the competition.

The Louisiana Department of Education is proud to announce the 2022 Teacher and Principal of the Year Semifinalists. These educators are making exceptional gains with students, guiding them to achieve at the highest levels in the state. Their commitment to student success exemplifies Louisiana’s teaching profession.

All Teacher and Principal of the Year Semifinalists will be honored at the 15th Annual Excellent Educators Awards Gala that will be held virtually on the evening of July 16, 2021.

ADVANCE Program For High School Scholars

Northwestern State University will host the 33rd session of the ADVANCE Program for Young Scholars (ADVANCE) July 4 – 24. ADVANCE is a three-week residential program that academically challenges and socially engages gifted, honors or talented students who are currently in 7-11th grades. ADVANCE will be held on campus and will follow COVID-19 protocols throughout the program.

All applicants must provide a copy of their most recent report card and state standardized test scores. If scores have been misplaced, many schools provide that information on school transcripts, and transcripts may be submitted to ADVANCE. If applicants have taken an ACT or SAT, those scores may be submitted with their applications. 

Course offerings include humanities, mathematics, natural sciences with laboratory components, and computer programming. By working with carefully selected instructors and teaching assistants (TAs), and limiting class enrollment to 15 students, each student is given the opportunity to attain maximum academic growth. 

While the academic program at ADVANCE is top-notch, the residential program sets ADVANCE apart from other similar summer programs. The residential assistants (RAs) offer a wide variety of social and recreational activities to assist students in forming lasting friendships, strengthen the ADVANCE community, and help all students have a great time.

Applications are now being accepted. For further information visit advance.nsula.edu/call (318) 357-4500, or email palmerh@nsula.edu.

2nd Amendment, Gun Rights Poised to Return to Supreme Court

By Royal Alexander 

The latest legal challenge concerns a New York law governing licenses to carry concealed handguns in public but there are potentially a host of others as well

The U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to strengthen and expand 2nd Amendment rights after a decade of no action on the issue. The Court has several current opportunities to further address the scope of its Heller decision that generally pose one legal question: how far may states go in restricting the individual right to carry guns outside a home.

These various legal challenges have worked their way up to the Supreme Court and now require at least four members of the Court to vote to grant the application to hear the cases.  These challenges include the New York law as well as multiple other cases nationally presenting distinct legal issues.

The Supreme Court has not directly addressed the issue of gun rights since its landmark rulings in 2008 and 2010.  The 2008 Heller decision held that the right to keep and bear arms was both a collective (military and law enforcement) right as well as an individual right. The 2010 McDonald decision simply held that the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment extended to the states and municipalities the 2nd Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms. 

Several months ago, the Court considered a different prohibition by New York City that kept gun owners from transporting firearms to ranges or second homes outside of the city but then decided not to hear the case after NY City officials repealed that prohibition, rendering that case moot.

During its 10-year break, the Court’s inactivity allowed a number of questionable gun laws and regulations to be passed and then remain law.  These included, for example, a suburban Chicago ban on semi-automatic weapons, a variety of prohibitions across the country against carrying guns in public, age limits for carrying guns in Texas and requiring citizens to disable or lock up guns when not in use in San Francisco.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, as a federal appeals court judge, dissented from a 2019 opinion that banned convicted felons from owning a gun.  That Kanter case involved a man, Rickey Kanter, who had pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud. Judge Barrett wrote in her dissent that the gun ban went too far because it was being applied to someone who had not been convicted of a violent crime, only mail fraud. 

In her dissent, then-judge Barrett wrote that “history is consistent with common sense: It demonstrates that legislatures have the power to prohibit dangerous people from possessing guns. But that power extends only to people who are dangerous. Founding-era legislatures did not strip felons of the right to bear arms simply because of their status as felons.”

Still other gun rights issues now pending before the Supreme Court involve a Pennsylvania man who pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in 2005 who is challenging the ban on purchasing or owning a gun.  In another, a Pennsylvania woman who pleaded guilty to making a false statement on her tax returns sued over the ban.  Also, the frequently reversed U.S. 9th Circuit recently upheld a Hawaii gun regulation that limits the ability of citizens to openly carry guns in public.

Further, in yet another New York State case, two residents sought a license to carry guns outside their home but were denied because they supposedly didn’t meet the state’s requirement that they have a “special need for self-protection” above and beyond what’s required by the general public. (That standard is so broad I doubt many of us could meet it but undoubtedly our right to self-defense is a “special need” for millions of us!).

Our Constitutional rights are rights that are “fundamental to the Nation’s scheme of ordered liberty and deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.”  None of those rights are more important than the 2nd Amendment and the Court should strive to further enshrine and protect it. 

Rebels Have Busy Week in Sports

By Molly Seales

March 22-29 was a big week for the athletes of Riverdale Academy.  The Rebels baseball team faced Tallulah Academy, who is ranked #1 in the Impact Sports Coach’s Poll.  They didn’t win any of the three games, but they did a much better job of putting the bat on the ball. On March 23, the Rebels traveled to Vicksburg, MS to take on the Tallulah Trojans. Matthew Seales and Denver Williams were each 1 for 2 in hitting, as was 8th grader Colton Caskey, who picked up his first varsity hit. When the Trojans came to Riverdale for a double header on Friday, March 26, Matthew Seales was 1 for 2 and Aston Hester was 1 for 1 in the first game, and Seales and Denver Williams each picked up a stolen base. In the second game, The Rebels had their best game of the week.  Brennan Edie was 1 for 1 at the plate and scored a run. Denver Williams was 1 for 2 and scored a run.  Matthew Seales hit a double to the fence, picking up an RBI as Edie scored. Aston Hester was also 1 for 2 and picked up an RBI as Williams scored. Paul Messenger and Jace Wilhite both reached base on balls.  Messenger stole 2 bases and Wilhite stole 1 base. PVA comes to East Point on Friday, April 2, for a double header beginning at 2:00 p.m. Come out and support the Rebels Friday!

The Riverdale golf team traveled to Minden, LA, to the Pine Hills Country Club to a tournament hosted by Glenbrook School.  The Rebels pulled out 2nd place in their 2nd tournament of the year. They will host the next tournament at the Coushatta Country Club on Monday, April /5, beginning at 10:00 a.m. The varsity track team travelled to Lakeside High School on Thursday, March 25.  Several track team members placed, but the results were unavailable.

Riverdale’s tennis team has been very busy in practice and play, and their hard work is paying off. The team traveled to Providence Classical Academy on Monday, March 29, and won matches.  Emma Clemons won her singles match, while the girls doubles’ teams of Jadyn King/Lilly Guillot and Pacey Lindsey/Charity Williamson also won their matches. The mixed doubles teams of Brennan Edie/Emma Clemons, Luke Greer/Lilly Guillot, and Paul Messenger/Mary Claire Jones won their matches. Will Jones and Paul Messenger won their boys’ doubles match.  Mary Claire Jones and Jadyn King played a team of boys and won their match. The tennis team will be back in action against Tensas twice this week: Wednesday they will play at the Coushatta Country Club at 2:00 p.m. and Thursday they will play at Kiroli Park in Monroe at 2:00 p.m. Come out Wednesday and support the Rebel tennis team!

Riverdale Garden Project

4-H clubs in the parish are preparing spring gardens.  The club at Riverdale Academy is off and running.

Teacher, Amanda Cason said, “I’m so proud of these students! I even heard one today say how proud he is of one of the planters. Finally making progress on these. More pictures of the garden to come April 14th – planting day!

The school said, “Mrs. Mancil’s third graders had so much fun with this project! Thank you Red River Parish 4-H!”  4-H said, “We enjoyed helping these 3rd graders get their seeds ready for transplanting into the garden.”

Meanwhile the Riverdale Booster Club is expressing appreciation to several parents.  They said, “Daylilies, Gerber daises and a couple of petunias were planted for the RA kindergarten building entrance. We are so thankful for our RA parents who are so willing to share their talents.”

Petting Zoo Comes to Head Start

This school year no off campus activities have been allowed due to the pandemic.  So if you can’t go to the farm you do the next best thing… Bring the Farm to you.   Intercession Fridays have been renamed Funtastic Fridays and are living up to the name.  Friday March 26th Red River Elementary Head Start PK3 and PK4 were treated to a mobile petting farm. 

The students had studied about farm animals and needed some up close and personal experience. Jubilee Zoo brought their mobile petting farm to the school. Children had the chance to pet a pony, donkey, sheep, goats, a tortoise, bunnies, a micro cow, and an alpaca. Squeals of excitement mixed with a few nervous cries were heard as the kids enjoyed themselves.  Teachers discussed with students the jobs on the farm, the things needed to care for the animals, and items we get from the animals. Children petting the animals, made friends with them, overcame some fears and talked about their favorite

animal of the day. 

The next Funtastic Friday event will have the children learning about plants, insects and planting a variety of items. We can’t wait to do this project. 

Story by Christy Suggs, Red River Parish Head Start Director

Abundant Life Celebration

This past weekend Abundant Life Worship Center celebrated the 10th anniversary of pastor William Hall.  He posted, “Just a little glimpse into my weekend.  It was so much more than I can explain.  

Hall expressed his appreciation to all the wonderful people of Abundant Life Worship Center Coushatta, “Your love and support was overwhelming.  To all my family and friends that traveled to come be a part of our celebration, I’m more grateful and humbled than you can imagine.  This was an incredible and momentous milestone but it’s not the finish line.  We are just getting started.”

ETC… for Wednesday, March 31st

Saturday is the Men’s Conference at Red River Cowboy Church at Lake End.  Registration is at 8:00 am and the conference begins at 9:00.

There is something new under the sun.  Rivertown Market is now offering Rotisserie Chicken.

The Hotter ‘N Hell Collegiate Art Exhibition entry deadline has been extended to April 30th.  Northwestern State University’s Hotter ‘N Hell Collegiate juried art exhibition will feature all art forms that use fire and heat as part of the creative process, which includes ceramics, glass-blowing, welded sculpture, poured metals, wood-burning, metalsmithing, burned textiles, fireworks and more.  To enter, visit artist.callforentry.org/festivals_unique_info.php?ID=8246

“Good news!” said Red River Cowboy Church. We will have our awards ceremony on Sunday, April 25th at 4:00. This will be held in the arena so bring your lawn chairs if you would like. Please pass the word on to your friends who may have made 3 shows during the series. If you have any questions PM us on here or call/text 318-652-2553. Thank you for patiently waiting on awards to arrive!

Edward Marion Scallion

Funeral services for Edward Marion Scallion, 77, of Creston, LA will be held at 1 P.M. Wednesday, March 31, 2021 at Rockett-Nettles Funeral Home Chapel with Ken Roberts officiating..  Interment will follow in Weaver Cemetery.  Visitation will be held from 11 A.M. until service time on Wednesday at the funeral home.

Doris Marian Powell Driever

Doris Marian Powell Driever, age 95, passed away peacefully in her sleep at home in Hanna, La on March 27, 2021. A celebration of life will be held at the First United Methodist Church in Coushatta, La, Tuesday March 30, 2021. Visitation will be held at 10 a.m. with services to follow at 11 a.m. with Rev. Dr. Paul “Curtis” Carroll, Jr. officiating.  Interment will be held immediately following at Springville Cemetery in Coushatta.

Federal Money and Sales Tax Collection Among Issues Facing Lawmakers

Should Louisiana adopt a centralized system of collecting sales taxes, especially on purchases made on internet purchases?  How do we effectively spend federal funds the state is getting as part of various COVID relief packages?  And what changes ae needed to deal with how property insurance is handled in the state?  Those are some of the issues District 22 Representative Gabe Firment sees as top issues when the Louisiana Legislature convenes in a fiscal session next month.

Firment spoke with The Journal about these issues.  He noted that Louisiana is one of only a few states that do not have centralized sales tax collection.  He said this is a top priority of House Speaker Clay Schexnayder.  Firment said, “We are behind and desperately in need of reform of sales tax collection.  I don’t know if the speaker can pull it together to get it passed.”  Firment added that the speaker and the Senate President Page Cortez of Lafayette worked together last year on tort reform bills.  And he hopes they can work on together on sales tax collections.

“There are some concerns about centralizing the collection of sales taxes,” said Firment.  He added, “Some sheriffs and school boards are concerned about administrative costs of doing it.  And some are worried that they might miss out on some tax revenue.”

In the case of South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc, the US Supreme Court ruled that a state may charge tax on purchases made from out-of-state sellers.  There has been discussion of the feasibility of each parish being able to collect sales tax on internet transactions or would the collection have to be done by a centralized agency.  Firment told The Journal, “Right now Louisiana and one other state do not have centralized collection.  Other states are doing it.”

Federal stimulus and COVID recovery bills will send billions of dollars into Louisiana.  Firment said, “The state will be getting about 3-billion dollars and the local governments will get another 2-billion dollars.  I don’t favor the federal government spending as much as they are.” Firment added, “But if we get it, we should spend it wisely, and not spend it on recurring expenses.  One time money should be spend on infrastructure repairs or building up the Unemployment Trust Fund.  That was depleted with all of our citizens out of work due to the COVID outbreak and business shutdown.  We borrowed from the federal government to keep the fund afloat.  We also have some 1-billion in debt left over from the state borrowing federal money for Katrina recovery.  We could pay off that.”

Firment said, “We have a unique opportunity to take care of some of these things.  I and other conservative legislators feel that when tough decisions have to be made, we need to make the fiscally responsible decision.”

He is drafting bills dealing with property insurance.  Firment said, “I was an insurance claims adjuster for over 20 years.  We had problems after Hurricane Laura with a shortage of claims adjusters.  Many have been forced out because the insurance companies did not want to pay.”

Firment said, “The companies attempt to deny or drag out claims as long as possible.  They want to hold onto premium money because they invest it.  If they can give people who had losses the run-around or low-ball the estimate of damage it delays paying a claim.  This gives the insurance company longer to earn interest on that money.”  The Journal asked what the answer is.  Firment said, “We have to give the companies an incentive to do what’s right.”

The Legislature will convene on Monday April 21st.  The session will run until Thursday, June 10th.

Christus Coushatta Gets Children’s Miracle Network Grant

During its recent Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH) grant event, CHRISTUS Foundation Shreveport-Bossier announced the award of $144,800 to CHRISTUS Coushatta Health Care Center to provide new equipment throughout its facilities for pediatric-focused care. Donations to CMNH programs at CHRISTUS Shreveport-Bossier Health System made the grants possible.

The CHRISTUS Coushatta Radiology department received the most significant gift: $100,000 to purchase a new ultrasound unit with pediatric probes to assist in diagnosing and caring for the youngest patients.

CHRISTUS Coushatta Dental clinic is putting $41,000 to use in room upgrades, a new dental chair and new equipment including: a Sirolaser Blue diode laser for use in dental procedures and oral surgeries, KAVO hand pieces and a Quattro cleaning unit for dental tools.

The CHRISTUS Coushatta Emergency department is adding infant, pediatric and standing scales for use in the ER. The CHRISTUS Coushatta Medical and Surgical team also received $1,300 for uNight lights for nursing staff and a portable Pulse Oximetry device.

“CHRISTUS Coushatta is grateful for the generosity shown to our ministry, our community, and the patients we serve. With these generous Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals funds, we are able to purchase equipment to greatly enhance our ability to serve our community’s pediatric patients,” said Brandon Hillman, Administrator, CHRISTUS Coushatta Health Care Center.

CMNH partners like Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club, Panda Express, RE/MAX Real Estate Services, Valvoline, Love’s Truck Stops, Barksdale Federal Credit Union and Take 5 Instant Oil collect donations throughout the year in various fundraising campaigns. Event sponsorships from community partners like Hand Construction, Crothall Healthcare and Despino Tires, as well as gifts from individual donors, further support the health system’s CMNH programs.

“So far in 2021, we’ve been able to grant nearly $400,000 that was raised a dollar at a time – thanks to our committed partners and a generous community,” said Margo Clendenin, Program Director of Children’s Miracle Network Hospital Programs, CHRISTUS Shreveport-Bossier Health System. “The best part is the incredible work our compassionate clinicians will be able to achieve in helping kids.”

Nearly half of the CMNH grants announced by the CHRISTUS Foundation – Shreveport Bossier will go to the CHRISTUS Coushatta ministry and community.

“These funds are available to us because of the generosity of our CMNH partners and everyone who selflessly gives to this worthy cause to help local friends, family and neighbors,” said Hillman.

Campbell Awards $2.5 Million in Energy-efficiency Grants

The Red River Parish School Board will receive over $165,000 in grants from the Louisiana Public Service Commission.  It is part of Commissioner Foster Campbell’s award of nearly $2.5 million in grants to local governments and parish school systems in Northwest Louisiana to promote energy efficiency.

Energy upgrades funded by the grants include high-efficiency LED lights in buildings operated by local public agencies.  “These improvements will lower electric bills by thousands of dollars for these public institutions,” Campbell said.

The LPSC Energy Efficiency program for public entities and political subdivisions is an offshoot of the commission’s “Quick Start” Energy Efficiency program, which since 2013 has helped residential and commercial utility customers lower their electricity consumption across Louisiana.  Participating utilities are SWEPCO, Entergy and CLECO.

“Energy Efficiency is a cost-effective way to reduce energy costs, improve building comfort and preserve our environment,” Campbell said.  “Every dollar that our local governments and public bodies save on their electric bills is a dollar that can help them improve service to the public in other ways.”

The recipients of Campbell’s 2021 efficiency grants for Northwest Louisiana public institutions are:

  • Bienville Parish School Board: $296,330.00
  • De Soto Parish Police Jury: $220,893.00
  • Red River Parish School Board: $165,947.00
  • Webster Parish School Board: $385,000.00
  • City of Shreveport: $250,000.00
  • Caddo Parish Fire District 8: $50,000.00
  • Winn Parish School Board: $57,571.00
  • Town of Greenwood: $17,837.00
  • De Soto Parish School Board: $913,632.00
  • Bossier Parish Community College: $500,000.00

The next round of LPSC District 5 grants will be awarded in 2022.  The deadline for applying is January 31, 2022.  For more information, contact Gary Hobbs in Campbell’s LPSC District 5 office in Shreveport, 318-676-7464 or gary.hobbs@la.gov.