Connie Frances Murphy

A funeral service celebrating the life of Connie Frances Murphy, 69, will be held at 2:00 PM, Saturday, December 3, 2022, at Social Springs Baptist Church in the Social Springs Community with Bro. James Hester officiating. Interment will follow in the church cemetery. The family will receive friends from 11:00 AM prior to service time. The services will be under the direction of Kilpatrick’s Rose-Neath Funeral Home.

Connie was born on May 29, 1953, in Shelbyville, Indiana to Herschel and Edna Pearl Ferguson Jones and passed away on November 28, 2022, in Coushatta, LA.  She enjoyed spending time with her grandson, reading, and Christmas time. She loved the outdoors and will be missed by all who knew and loved her.

Connie was preceded in death by her parents; sister, Dianna Jones; and brother, Michael Jones. Left to cherish her memory are her husband of 38 years, Ernest Murphy; son, Steven Murphy; grandson, Shaun Murphy; sisters, Mary Elizabeth Strunk and Nancy Childress; brothers, Dennis Jones, Johnny Jones, and Dwight Wayne Jones; and a special niece, Tonya Streeval.

Basketball Season Is Underway

Both local schools are getting into their basketball seasons.  Get out and see some great games and support local athletes.

Coming up Thursday, Red River’s boys and girls teams travel to play the Cavaliers at Calvary Baptist.  On Saturday, the boys are in the Carroll Shootout at Carroll.  Game time TBA.

Riverdale has Meet the Rebels rescheduled to Thursday.  There will be red vs. white games beginning at 4:00 pm. On Saturday the Rebels are at home for JV boys, varsity girls and varsity boys games with Prairie View Academy.

Luncheon Series During Advent

Advent Lunches begin today.  First Methodist Coushatta issued an invitation to the community. 

Come join us for this season of Advent each Wednesday starting Nov. 30 through Dec. 21. A light lunch will be served at noon, and a speaker will bring us a short devotional message to remind us that this is a season of waiting for the birth of our Savior.

The luncheons will take place at First Methodist Church in Coushatta in McLemore Hall. Everyone is welcome to attend.

What Will You Read In 2023?

 By Teddy Allen 

Time for our annual Best Books of the Year list. Read a lot of good books but failed to score a five-star read, unlike last year when I couldn’t turn around without running into something that hit me just right. 

So it goes in the Reading World. You win some, you lose some, but you show up and read and if a book’s no good, chunk it and, guilt-free, pick up another one. 

Still, much enjoyment this year from reading, and hopefully you will get a charge out of at least one or two of the titles below, or something will jog your memory and help you pick out a just-right Christmas gift for someone.  

If nothing else, we can be grateful we are past all the pandemic-related bestsellers like LOCKDOWN!: Your Place or Mine?or everyone’s least-favorite companion reads, Why Masks Work and the sequel, Why Masks Haven’t Even Ever THOUGHT About Working, Ever Ever Never

Mercy on all that … And now on to the bookmobile. 

Batting leadoff is All About Me! My Remarkable Life in Show Business, by Mel Brooks, my favorite of a lot of biographies. Others that were really good, if you’re interested in these people, are The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man by Paul Newman, A Life in Parts by actor Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Home Work by Julie Andrews (had a crush on her since Mary Poppins as I was an impressionable youngster), Miracle and Wonder by Malcolm Gladwell about singer-songwriter-stud Paul Simon (you have to listen to this one for the conversations with Simon and his occasional singing), My House of Memories by Merle Haggard because, well, Merle Haggard, and finally, Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story, by Rick Bragg. 

A quick aside about Jerry Lee Lewis: he was nothing short of a keyboard genius. Any piano player from Elton John to Ray Stevens will tell you that nobody should be able to play that fast and that well and sing at the same time. A prodigy and bona-fide genius. 

More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell was released in 1987 and reads as a short (128 pages) research document about the historical Jesus and is much worth your time if, like me, you’d missed it all these years. 

Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli by Mark Seal is about the “tumultuous” making ofThe Godfather and was my second-favorite book of the year. If you like the movie, you’ll enjoy it. How the picture got made is semi-miraculous.  

Speaking of movies, The Church of Baseball by Ron Shelton is about the making of Bull Durham, which he wrote and directed; it’s a baseball thing. 

Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen is funny and good, as you’d expect from Carl Hiaasen. Speaking of fiction, if you’ve never read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson or The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells, as I hadn’t until this year, you could probably skip those. Didn’t happen for me. But … it’s always wise to consider the similar themes of those two books, which is how the bad part of our nature, which is the main part, runs wild if unchecked, even if that wasn’t our intention. 

Churchill’s Band of Brothers by Damien Lewis was good but a better suggestion would be Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose, which I’ve read three times, about E Company with the 101st in World War II. The British equivalent is interesting but not nearly as rich. 

Also, you will feel a lot better after reading either Everybody Always or Love Doesby Bob Goff, or both. Check him out if you haven’t already. 

Books in my on-deck circle for 2023 include You Are Looking Live! How the NFL Today Revolutionized Sports Broadcasting, by Rich Podolsky, When the Garden was Eden by Harvey Araton, about the glory days of the New York Knicks (they were good and fun when I was a boy, believe it or not), Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley because I haven’t read him and have meant to, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, and Prayer by Tim Keller because I really like Tim Keller and because you need the prayers and Lord knows I need the practice. 

Let me know if you come across anything good. Read on! 

Contact Teddy at

Rebels Open Basketball Season Strong

By Molly Seales

On Friday, November 18, the Riverdale Academy Rebels and Lady Rebels traveled to Claiborne Academy to open their regular basketball season. Under the direction of new coach Cliff New, the Rebels and Lady Rebels came away with 3 out of 4 wins. In the first game of the evening, the JV Lady Rebels defeated Claiborne 28-21. Makayla Pickett led the team in scoring with 9 points and rebounds with 8 boards. Mary Claire Jones had 5 points, 4 deflections, and 3 assists. Ally Kate Hillman and Kynnedi Taylor had 4 points each, with Hillman having 3 boards and Taylor having 7 boards. Charity Williamson and Emma Giddings had 2 points and 3 rebounds each. Williamson had 2 steals and Giddings had 2 blocked shots. Madelyn Chamberlin and Kaleigh Pickett each chipped in a free throw to round out the scoring, and each of them had 2 rebounds. In JV boys action, Claiborne defeated Riverdale 50-22. Tanner Carlisle led the team with 7 points and also had 5 boards. Colin Bates added 5 points. Ashton Almond and Cannon Breedlove each had 4 points and 2 rebounds. Zane Givens had 2 points and led the team in rebounds with 7 and in steals with 5. 7th graders Hayden Cason, Jackson Hillman, and Kaden McNeely gave the Rebels some valuable minutes with Cason having 2 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 deflections, while Hillman had 3 boards and 2 steals. McNeely had 2 steals and a rebound.

Both varsity games were great spectators’ games. The Lady Rebels defeated Claiborne 45-42 in an overtime thriller. With Claiborne ahead by 2, freshman Hanna Huddleston grabbed an offensive rebound and laid it up for 2 points and got fouled on the shot. She made the free throw to put Riverdale up by one. Next trip down the court, junior Madison Chamberlin pulled down a rebound and was fouled. With the Rebels in the bonus, Chamberlin calmly went to the free throw line and drained both shots to seal the deal at 45-42. Freshman Makayla Pickett started off her high school career with a double-double, scoring 16 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. She also had 3 deflections, 2 steals, and a blocked shot. Freshman Mary Claire Jones scored 10 points, grabbed 5 rebounds, 3 deflections, a blocked shot, and led the team in assists with 3 and steals with 4. Georgia Carlisle added 8 points, including 2 3-pointers. Huddleston had 7 points and 6 rebounds. Chamberlin had 2 points, 6 rebounds, and led the team in deflections with 4. Sophomore Jadyn King had 2 points, 6 rebounds, a steal, and 3 deflections.

The varsity boys’ game was back and forth the entire game, but at the end Riverdale turned it up and pulled away to win 51-44. Senior Thad Bates led the team in scoring with 13 points and in deflections with 3. He also pulled down 8 rebounds. Senior Jace Wilhite was also in double figures with 11 points. Junior Kyle Guillory had 8 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists, while junior Ryder Huddleston had 8 points and led the team in rebounds with 9 and deflections with 3. Senior Mason Murray had 7 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals. Senior guard Ben Almond had 4 points and led the team in assists with 7 and steals with 6.

Tuesday night, November 29, is the annual Meet the Rebels game. On Saturday, December 3, PVA will travel to Riverdale with the JV boys game beginning at 4:00 p.m. followed by varsity girls and varsity boys. We wish the Rebels and Lady Rebels the best of luck this season.

There Aren’t Enough Beds

Sometimes when a juvenile commits a crime, it’s one and done. They may go into the courtroom where they attempt to place them in juvenile detention while awaiting adjudication. According to reports, there is a 70 percent chance once that child or teen spends a couple of nights at Ware Youth Center, they never want to see it again.

But Ware is full … a head in all 32 beds. Then what happens? The kids are returned to the streets, and what kind of signal does that send?

Ware Chief Operating Officer Kenneth said, “it tells the kids it’s OK to do what they did. There won’t be consequences for it.”

In 2014, Ware contracted with the state to fill vacant beds. At that time, DeSoto, Natchitoches, Sabine, Red River, and Webster parishes were under that plan, and at that time, Ware had 34 beds.

The state would pay a per diem to help keep the doors open. Then, the state Office of Juvenile Justice canceled the agreement and pulled state kids out of the facility, along with some of the funding.

“We asked the five parishes if they wanted to make up the difference and keep Ware open,” Loftin said. “They chose not to … said they didn’t have the money.”

At that point, Ware contracted with Bossier Parish, which had an outdated “antiquated” youth center.

“They moved their operation from Bossier City to Ware,” he said. “They contracted for 24 beds and we had 34, so we gave each parish 2 beds a piece.”

Loftin retired in 2015, and in 2019 Ware experienced 2 suicides.

“State licensure reduced the bed capacity from 34 beds to 32,” said Loftin, who returned to Ware to offer aid under extenuating circumstances. “Which, the math says, the parishes don’t have 2 beds anymore. But because Bossier doesn’t always use all those beds, others utilize those beds, and Bossier is fine with that.”

The cost to house a juvenile is around $128 per day. Natchitoches Parish Government pays if the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office or one of the smaller jurisdictions makes the arrest. According to a spokesperson, the smaller towns are asked to pay it, however, they most often call the sheriff’s department to make the arrest and Parish ends up with the tab.

That cost is going up because earlier in the year, 3 juveniles escaped Ware with the help of a staff member. Loftin said insurance for the facility is being canceled, and he is seeking coverage elsewhere. It will be expensive, although he is unsure how much more cost will be needed for each bed.

Loftin said he is aware that since the legislature raised the juvenile crime age to 17, all the parishes need beds.

“It’s horrible,” he said. “It’s the worst thing the legislature has ever done for juvenile corrections.”

Loftin said the 17-year-olds present a unique group of problems.

“It’s not necessarily the bed space. What happens is, with 15, 16, and 17s, once the juvenile is indicted as an adult, they are put back in the juvenile detention center,” he said. “Once they come back to juvenile detention, they know they’re an adult. They know they have a trial date in the adult court system.

“They could care less what they do to my staff, the facility or anybody else because nothing they do – besides killing somebody – is going to raise the charge they already have,” Loftin continued.

In 2011, the state took away mace and other defense tools detention centers once used.

“All we have are staff and room restrictions,” he said.

Loftin said he knows the judges see the limited bed space, but everyone’s hands are tied.

There is one light at the end of the juvenile bed space tunnel.

There is talk of building another facility on the Ware property in Coushatta that would allow the older juveniles to be separated from the younger ones.

Bossier Parish Police Jury (BPPJ) Administrator Butch Ford said the idea is in the “talking” stage.

“There were discussions earlier this year or late last year to build a new facility to hold 17-year-olds and isolate them from the younger ones,” Ford said. “The older, more violent crime juveniles are difficult to handle.”

Ford said Loftin approached BPPJ about the separate facility.

“We haven’t pulled the trigger on that,” said Ford. “They have enough beds for Bossier, and we are paying a good chunk of funds for them to house them for us.”

Having said that, Ford said BPPJ is willing to help other parishes, if the separate facility comes to fruition, however, the “ball is in Loftin’s court.”

Cookie Baking Contest

It’s time for Christmas Cookie Contests at 4-H Club meetings.  Find your school’s date below so you will know when to bring cookies.

Dig out your favorite Christmas Cookie recipe.  Bake at least a dozen.  Bring them to your 4-H club meeting in December.

December 5 – Red River Academic Academy and At Large Club (at 4-H Office).  Magnolia Bend members will join the At Large Club.

December 6 – Red River Elementary School

December 7 – Riverdale Academy

December 14 – Red River High and Junior High Schools

December 15 – Country Day Montessori School

Come prepared to answer some questions about your cookies.

Call the office, 932-4342 or email if you have any questions.

Photo credit:  Renee Comet, the Food Network

AG Appointment of Special Counsel Against Trump is Clearly a Political Vendetta

By Royal Alexader

The decision of Attorney General Merrick Garland a few days ago to appoint a special counsel in the investigations of Donald Trump will provide to millions of Americans only, yet another, example of the highly politicized, weaponized nature of the Department of Justice and the FBI.  This assignment specifically includes a probe of both the Mar-a-Lago documents case and whether President Trump “unlawfully interfered with the transfer of power” after the 2020 election or with the Electoral College vote count.

Garland’s announcement of the special counsel states: “based on recent developments, including the former president’s announcement that he is a candidate for president in the next election, and the sitting president’s stated intention to be a candidate as well, I have concluded that it is in the public interest to appoint a special counsel.”  He closed by contending that “such an appointment underscores the Department’s commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters.”

Unsurprisingly, a spokesman for Pres. Trump immediately responded, “this is a totally expected political stunt by a feckless, politicized, weaponized Biden Department of Justice.”  The Trump statement continued by pointing out that “Robert Mueller, the Russia collusion special counsel, staffed his investigation with partisan Democrats and his probe turned into a debacle.”

As though Jan. 6th has not been investigated enough.  As though the documents at Mar A Lago contained any “secrets” when it’s the president himself who decides what’s classified or unclassified; regardless, when there is a dispute regarding presidential documents it is resolved between the former president’s attorneys and government attorneys.  At the very most a subpoena can be issued.

However, right on the heels of President Trump announcing his candidacy for the presidency, we have the Biden Administration’s politically compromised Attorney General Garland, announcing the appointment of a special counsel.  It is both naïve and nonsensical to assume the attorney general is not coordinating with the Biden White House about this.

It’s all politically motivated because the Biden Administration and its highly politicized Department of Justice fear a second Trump presidency. Nothing else.

Are we really supposed to be this stupid or naive?  The Jan. 6th investigation has been going on for nearly two years—including lengthy hearings and an impeachment effort—while the Mar-a-Lago investigation has been going on for close to a year.  However, as soon as President Trump announces he’s running for president this all fires up?  Does the appointment of a special counsel even matter anyway, given the special counsel reports to AG Garland and AG Garland reports to President Biden.

But let’s recall only now, supposedly, the Department of Justice and the FBI—which covered up and held on to the Hunter Biden laptop for some two years—is taking any steps to investigate or prosecute the laptop or the Biden crime family generally.  There clearly exists in the public record substantial incriminating evidence to do so.   In fact, much of the damaging information contained in those emails has already been corroborated.

Recall that Big Tech, including Facebook, Twitter and many other Left leaning social media platforms successfully suppressed and censored the Hunter Biden laptop story just before the 2020 election.  Following the election, a full 16% of voters polled stated that they would not have voted for Joe Biden had they known prior to the election of the information contained on the laptop. The very reason it was censored!   And so, the voice of the people was silenced and the trajectory of American history was forever changed.

As the Wall Street Journal notes, “the prosecution of a former President, especially one running against Mr. Biden, had better be for serious offenses.  The evidence should be so compelling that it persuades fair-minded Republicans, not merely MSNBC or CNN anchors.”

We simply don’t have that context here and this latest so-called “investigation” of President Trump is, therefore, undermined and compromised from the start.  So will be any judgment it renders.

As Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) noted, “this is Trump derangement syndrome but this time with a gun and badge.”

All Americans should be fearful of the totalitarian state that America is in the process of becoming.

Processing Gifts for Children

No Black Friday shopping For this group.   These volunteers went to the Operation Christmas Child Processing Center in Dallas Texas instead of fighting the crowds shopping on Black Friday.

Marshall Robinson, Jr., Mary Tom  Cowser and  Dovie Beard from Martin Baptist Church along with Sigrid Hayes(not pictured due to illness) from East Point Mount Zion Baptist Church  volunteered at the OCC processing center November 25 and 26.

Group member Dovie Beard said “It is an awesome experience to go to the center and be a part of sending these boxes to the different countries and to be able to inspect the boxes for items not allowed to be sent.  We prayed over the boxes and we know that maybe the child that receives that box may come to have faith in Jesus Christ because of the love and prayers put into that box is an amazing feeling.”

The crates that were packed while we were there were being shipped to Honduras. If you don’t know about OCC shoeboxes or would like to be involved in packing boxes for the year 2023, please contact Dovie Beard and get more information.

Let’s Go See the Mudbugs

Members of the various parish 4-H clubs in northwest Louisiana are going to see the Mudbugs January 13th.  The Mudbugs will host the Oklahoma Warriors in Shreveport.

4-H is offering members a special event package for $20, however the sign-up deadline is December 9th.  The 4-Hers will enjoy skating before the game, a meal, and the game.  And members will have the opportunity to ride on the Zamboni and participate in games during intermissions.

They went to see the Mudbugs last January and had a great time.  4-H members may sign up at their parish 4-H office for this year’s game.

Weekly Arrest Report

Report from the Red River Sheriff’s Office for November 18-25, 2022.

This information has been provided by a law enforcement agency as public information. Persons named or shown in photographs or video as suspects in a criminal investigation, or arrested and charged with a crime, have not been convicted of any criminal offense and are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

ETC… For Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Riverdale’s Meet The Rebels has been rescheduled to Thursday December 1 at 4:00 pm.

Several Red River Volleyball players made the All-District Selections.  The high school congratulated Charity Ashton for her selection to the Second Team All-District. 

Leigha Christen and Jolene Jones were selected as Honorable Mention.

The threat of bad weather caused several school districts in northwest Louisiana to close early on Tuesday.  In Red River, Riverdale Academy dismissed early.  Around us NSU, Sabine, and Natchitoches also let out early.

The Coushatta Christmas Parade is about a week away.  The Chamber of Commerce Is still accepting vendor applications.  See the application on their social media pages.

Hickory Grove Baptist Church has scheduled a return of the Southern Plainsmen for December 11th.  They will perform at the 10:30 am service.

Weekly Arrest Report

Report from the Red River Sheriff’s Office for November 18-25, 2022.

This information has been provided by a law enforcement agency as public information. Persons named or shown in photographs or video as suspects in a criminal investigation, or arrested and charged with a crime, have not been convicted of any criminal offense and are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Hall Summit House Heavily Damaged, Two Firefighters Injured

From Red River Fire Chief John Woodfin

On Wednesday, units from the Red River Parish Fire Protection District responded to a structure fire in Hall Summit.  The house was about 50 percent involved when firefighters arrived.

During efforts to extinguish the blaze, two Firefighters were injured.  A beam on the porch collapsed on them while making entry into the structure.  Identities of the firefighters and their condition was not made public.

Woodfin said, “Firefighters made an excellent stop on the fire.”

One Makes All-Academic Football Team

One local football player has made the 2022-23 All-Academic Boys Football Team.  The rankings were published by LHSAA.

Elijah Harper, the Quarterback of the Red River Bulldogs made the list.  Harper is a senior and has a 4.0 academic average.  The Bulldogs play non-select in Division 3.

Below is the complete ranking published by LHSAA so sports fans can check out other area players and how they ranked.

More Organization and More Community Service

The newly organized Red River Kiwanis club met Monday at First Methodist Church.  They continue getting the club organized.  And they are already at work helping with several community projects.

Kiwanians continue to expand their first project, to collect socks and underwear for elementary school children.  More drop off locations are planned as well as deliveries of the socks and underwear to the schools in the parish.

Another project involving local schools is Terrific Kids.  Members volunteered to be the liaison with various schools to get the program going.

Upcoming on December 12th, Red River schools will hold an open house at the new Administration Building and other facilities at the Coushatta campus on East Carroll Street.  Kiwanis members will provide hot chocolate and coffee to visitors to the Administration building all day.

Other projects Red River Kiwanis is exploring is a coat drive to benefit local children and help with the third annual Christmas Giveaway to be held on Saturday December 10th.

The Kiwanis Club meets on the third Monday of each month at 5:00 pm at First Methodist Church.  Prospective members are invited to attend the December meeting and discover what Kiwanis is all about.

Shavarash and the Trolleybus

Brad Dison

The morning of September 16, 1976 was chilly in Yerevan, Armenia.  The streets were busy with commuters heading to work and other various destinations.  The city used trolleybuses powered by electric lines above the highway to transport the masses of people to their destinations.  Windows wrapped around the entirety of the upper half of the trolleybuses to allow for better visibility.  As it was a chilly morning, all the windows were closed to keep the cold air out.  One such trolleybus was loaded with 91 people and its driver.  As the trolleybus neared Yerevan Lake, something happened.  Some people claimed the passengers and the driver got into a physical altercation, while others argued that the driver had a medical emergency, probably a heart attack.  Regardless of the cause, the trolleybus veered off the roadway.  The arms connecting the trolleybus to the electric wires snapped.  Although the trolleybus had lost its power source, it rolled on its wheels down an embankment and straight into the frigid waters of Yerevan Lake.   One witness said the sound was “so loud, as if a bomb went off.”  Within seconds, the trolleybus was completely submerged.

Sometimes it seems like the right people are in the right place at the right time.  23-year-old Shavarash Karapetyan and his brother Kamo were nearby, heard the crash, and rushed to the water’s edge.  Both Shavarash and Kamo were finswimming champions, a sport in which the swimmers wear fins to increase their speed in the water.  At the time, Shavarash had won 37 gold medals and held nine world records for finswimming.  He had earned nicknames such as “Goldfish” and “Amphibian.”  On this day, however, neither Shavarash nor Kamo had their fins.  Without hesitation, Shavarash sprang into action.  As they ran, Shavarash told Kamo to help him from the shore. 

Shavarash dove into the frigid water and swam to the spot where the trolleybus sank.  He swam down 33 feet where the trolleybus rested on the lake floor.  Shavarash tried to look into the windows of the trolleybus but, at that depth, all he saw was darkness.  Shavarash knocked out one of the trolleybus’s windows.  Air rushed out of the trolleybus.  The change in air pressure by the broken glass forced shards of glass into Shavarash’s skin.  Nine of the passengers exited through the window and swam to the surface. 

Shavarash swam in through the trolleybus’s broken window and used his hands to feel around for passengers in the darkness.  When his hands felt something, he clutched it, swam to the surface, and handed the person off to Kamo.  Then, he dove down again and repeated the process.  Each dive took Shavarash about 25 seconds.  Although he was a champion swimmer, Shavarash was quickly losing strength.  He would not give up.  He could not give up.  Shavarash dove down 38 times before his body could go no further.  He almost drowned several times but somehow barely made it to the surface in time, gasping for air.  On his last dive, Shavarash felt around inside the trolleybus for a passenger, clutched something, and swam up.  On the surface, Shavarash was horrified to learn that, rather than a victim, he was grasping one of the trolleybus’s seat cushions.    

Shavarash could swim no more.  His body was exhausted.  His lungs were injured and he could hardly breath.  Shavarash wanted to go back down but Kamo pulled him from the water.  He could do no more.  In all, Shavarash helped get 46 people to the surface—nine escaped when Shavarash broke the trolleybus’s window, and he pulled 37 people to the surface. 

Within minutes of the crash, doctors from a nearby hospital rushed to the scene to render what aid they could right there on the shore.  Once Shavarash’s strength gave out and Kamo pulled him from the water, the doctors struggled to save his life as well.  Ambulances loaded with survivors raced to the hospital and returned to the shore to transport more survivors, one of them being Shavarash.  Of the passengers Shavarash pulled to the surface, 20 survived.  Shavarash spent over a month in the hospital.  He was diagnosed with septic fever, double-sided pneumonia, and nervous prostration. 

Shavarash survived the trolleybus accident, but it haunts him to this day.  Shavarash nearly drowned several times.  He said later, “I could imagine the agony of those 92 people and I knew how they would die.  I had nightmares about that cushion for a long time.  I could have saved someone else’s life.  In difficult moments like this, your love for fellow humans grows even stronger.”

Shavarash returned to swimming upon his release from the hospital, but he would never be the same.  Swimming underwater was physically and mentally painful.  True to form, however, Shavarash would not give up.  Just a few months after the trolleybus accident, Shavarash competed in a finswimming championship.  Knowing how he was struggling, Kamo ran alongside the pool just in case Shavarash lost consciousness.  But Shavarash did not lose consciousness.  He came in first place and set another world record.  Following this win, Shavarash retired from the sport he so dearly loved.  He could no longer bear to be underwater.

Shavarash was awarded the Medal “For the Salvation of the Drowning” and the Order of the Badge of Honor. What was Shavarash doing just before the trolleybus accident you wonder?  What was he doing just before he dove down to a depth of 33 feet 38 times and helped 47 people from the sunken trolleybus?  You see, Shavarash was already exhausted when he entered the water.  Shavarash had just completed the final portion of that morning’s rigorous training event, a 12-mile run.

Source: “Twenty-Five Seconds per Life.” Accessed November 21, 2022.

First Celebration of the Year

The Red River Junior High PBIS team (positive behavior intervention & supports) had its first big celebration of the school year last week. Students used their Classcraft points to purchase specific items.

There were many games that were set up such as PAC-Man, Connect 4, air hockey, darts, Twister, and ping pong.

The Junior High said, “We are super proud of our kids for their hard work and great behavior.

Another First Place

Teacher Amanda Cason at Riverdale Academy reported another top achievement playing the stock market.  Cason said, “I heard from New York today that Riverdale Academy got first place in our region for the stock market game.”  Riverdale also got first place last year.

“It was no easy task, said Cason.  She said “The stock market was up and down during the entire session. Congratulations Georgia and Emily. I am so proud of you both..”

Oh, the Shame of Zeroing

By Steve Graf

It doesn’t matter how good you think you are or how many tournaments you have won, there will come a time when you just can’t figure the fish out and you come to the scales with nothing. This is the number one fear amongst all anglers who fish in tournaments. Anglers will literally wake up in a cold sweat at night when they have this nightmare. But let’s take a deeper look at the psyche of what goes through an angler’s mind as the day unfolds and they come in with no fish in the live well.

Very few times an angler left the ramp on tournament day because he did not feel good about his game plan. Most anglers usually have a good idea about what and how they’ll catch them on that particular day. But as the day unfolds and the clock is ticking, if an angler does not have fish in the live well by 10:00 AM, at some point he starts to second guess his game plan. He starts thinking (which is usually not a good thing) about how he should have started out deep rather than shallow, how he should have thrown a topwater bait early instead of a worm. Maybe he should have run up the lake instead of staying on the south end or how he should have fished the grass instead of the bushes. But no matter what, pressure starts to build especially when the clock strikes one o’clock with no fish in the box and a weigh-in time of three o’clock. For me, I tell myself, “If I’m going to catch them, I’ve only got two hours to figure them out!”

The next thing you know it’s two o’clock and you still have nothing to show for all the casts you’ve made. It’s at this point most anglers start to panic and start to visualize coming to the weigh-in with a big fat zero. You start to fish too fast and make bad casts, you get hung up more often and have to go and retrieve your bait in places you can’t get to. So, then you end up breaking off whatever bait you’re throwing, with the internal clock in your head moving faster, as you waste even more time looking for another bait and having to re-rig. It’s during these high-pressure times that you backlash a reel so bad that you have to put it away so that you can cut the backlash out when you get home. Then with only minutes to go, you hook the fish of a lifetime, only to watch it come off and swim away right before you get ready to swing it into the boat. A fitting end to a very frustrating day!

Then it’s time to head for the weigh-in and you hope everyone is gone by the time you get there…but that’s never the case. It’s funny how when you have twenty pounds of fish in the live well, no one ever asks how you did. But when you have zero, it seems everyone in the tournament, including their grandma, wants to know what you’ve got. But oh, the shame and embarrassment of having to say, “Zero!” It just doesn’t get any worse than that! So, it’s at this time you head straight for the boat ramp, load your boat, tuck your tail between your legs, pull your cap down low so maybe no one recognizes you, and head home. If you want to see who did not catch fish that day, watch the parking lot at the ramp and see just how fast an angler can load his boat and get out of there.

Hope you enjoyed hearing about the misery of what an angler goes through on those days when he just doesn’t catch them. But the thing that’s great about the end of a tournament is it means there’s an opportunity for redemption at the next event. Forget it and move on because that tournament is over and there’s nothing you can do to change the outcome of that event.  Till next time, good luck, good fishing and don’t forget your sunscreen.

Funding, Violence At Juvenile Facilities, And A Leader’s Resignation

The following report from The Center Square indicates the state juvenile justice system has problems at facilities statewide.  Recently the Ware Youth Center north of Coushatta has been in the news amid allegations of mistreatment of youth housed there.  See earlier items published by The Journal.

(The Center Square) – Louisiana’s deputy secretary of youth services has resigned amid struggles with violence and other issues at facilities across the state that youth justice reform advocates have blamed on a lack of funding.

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the Friday resignation of Deputy Secretary for Youth Services William Sommers, who will be replaced by Office of Juvenile Justice Assistant Secretary Ortha “Curtis” Nelson.

“I am grateful to Bill for his service to our state,” Edwards said. “He joined us during one of the most difficult periods in Louisiana’s history, leading OJJ through the COVID-19 pandemic and devastating natural disasters. Bill has also worked diligently to address the recent challenges within OJJ.”

Editor’s Note:  It was Governor Edwards who ordered an investigation into the Ware Youth Center shortly after the New York Times’ investigative story was published.

Sommers, who has led the agency since 2020, departs amid intense scrutiny of the state’s juvenile justice system, which faced multiple escapes and violent clashes at several facilities this summer. The problems prompted a plan to transfer some high-risk youth to the state’s infamous Angola State Penitentiary, an effort headed by Nelson.

Sommers’ resignation comes just days after he penned a letter with Nelson to state judges last week pleading for help to release some youth from OJJ facilities that are now at capacity.

“In the coming days, OJJ legal division will start filing motions to modify pursuant to LSA – CH. C. Article 898 (B) seeking your approval to modify the dispositions of the use at the agency believe can be safely reintegrated back into the community,” the letter read. “We are seeking the consideration to grant these motions as there are no other ways to remove youth from the local detention centers pending placement unless we, for safely, release those youth who qualify for community-based rehabilitation services.”

The request stemmed in part from youth destroying facilities, but Sommers also highlighted the agency’s struggles with staffing, noting in a March budget hearing that the position of an entry juvenile justice specialist has a turnover rate of 298%.

“We’re faced with a critical staff shortage, the scope of which was never anticipated or imagined,” Sommers said at the time.

Somers recommended changes in facility designs, attracting more hires to fill vacancies, and recruiting a more diverse staff, and he asked lawmakers for additional funding to make it happen. Edwards, the governor, requested a $9 million increase in the OJJ’s $150 million budget this year, which lawmakers obliged.

The OJJ budget peaked at $182.5 million in 2008-09, then faced steep cuts until it bottomed out at $111.3 million by 2013-14. The OJJ budget has slowly rebounded since to $150.3 million in 2021-22.

Many of the issues plaguing OJJ predated Sommers’ tenure, and they’ve contributed to the years-long controversy over how the state approaches juvenile justice. Louisiana officials have for years promised to have a more rehabilitative model for dealing with troubled youth, and Gina Womack, director of Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children, told The Advocate that Sommers’ departure is an opportunity to follow through with creating a gentler system.

“We are not surprised that Sommers has resigned, as the entire youth justice system is a sinking ship in Louisiana and is rife with failure,” she said. “We hope this is an opportunity for the state to shift its approach from a punitive system towards its overdue promise of a therapeutic model, and that shift starts with its leadership.”

Edwards praised Nelson for his dedication to the youth justice system throughout his 30-year career and expressed confidence he’s the right pick to lead the troubled agency moving forward.

“Curtis has decades of experience helping troubled youth and their families,” Edwards said. “He understands the issues and challenges facing our juvenile system, and I’m confident in his leadership and ability to help us address the problems within OJJ and make improvements.”

We Have A Tree!

When Woman Church meets in December there will be a Christmas Tree.  The thank you goes out to Mrs. Ann Anderson.

Woman Church posted, “We had a suggestion by someone that the ladies can bring an ornament the night of Woman Church and  put them on the tree.  If you have one that you would like to donate or let us borrow, it will be greatly appreciated.”

It costs us about $150-$200 to provide meals for Woman Church.  They are seeking an individual or church that would like to sponsor a whole meal or make a monetary donation toward a meal we would appreciate it.

For the December, they will be cooking taco soup.  Plan to join Woman Church for a meal and message at The Shop December 13th.  The message will be presented by the Co-Founder of Woman of Courage, Louisiana, Allie Hammitt.