Remembering Mary E. Cook Hays

Mrs. Mary E. Cook Hays, affectionately known by many as “Mrs. Wayne,” age 79, died on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at home in Shreveport, LA. She was lovingly surrounded by her closest family and friends as she peacefully passed from this life into the arms of her Heavenly Father for her promised eternity.

Mrs. Hays was born in Marianna, FL. At the age of 16, she met, and then married, the love of her life in Brewton, AL on August 25, 1960. Together, they solidified their Earthly walk with the Lord by being jointly saved in 1966 at a small Baptist church in Summit, MS. In 1969, after moving to Coushatta, LA, Mrs. Mary and Mr. Wayne Hays decided to make their residence permanent and opened their successful and well-known business, “Wayne’s Welding Service,” located on historic Front Street, where they were proud to provide services to the citizens of Coushatta and surrounding areas for more than 30 years. Over the last 20 years, she has been a faithful member of Hickory Grove Baptist Church, located in Hickory Grove, LA, where she has served as special song leader, a Sunday school teacher, and assumed any other role she has been asked or called to fill as a faithful servant and Child of God. Albeit a gifted woman, a selfish one she was not, openly sharing both her gifts in the kitchen and behind a microphone with anyone who graced the threshold of her church or home. She ministered vocally across the region where she sang solely with the desire to glorify God and in doing so, inevitably shared her musical talents for the joy of everyone at local area churches, revivals, weddings, nursing homes, funerals, and business openings, just to name a few. In addition to her service through Christ in church, Mrs. Mary found ways to give back to her community by also serving as the Commissioner in Charge of voting ward 5, precinct 2 for over a decade to facilitate many successful elections across Red River Parish.

Mrs. Mary was a truly wonderful daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend. She was honest and loyal to a fault. She will be remembered as a true ray of light and beacon of hope. Her faith was unwavering, and her inner beauty radiated through the sparkle in her blue eyes when she smiled. It is no doubt that she fulfilled her true calling and anointing on Earth serving as a caregiver, in all capacities, to not only her husband and 4 children, but also through the special relationship she cultivated with her father-in-law and brother-in-law, both of whom she happily cared for through the end of their life while running a bustling home. She loved her Lord, church, and family unconditionally.

Family welcoming Mary healed and pain-free, into the arms of her Lord and Savior include: Francis Virginia Keith, mother; James Franklin Cook, father; Doris Rose Cook, stepmother; John Wayne Hays, Jr., son; Kenneth Wayne Sewell, “bonus son”-in-law; William Percy Hays, father-in-law; Pinkie Jackson Craven Hays, mother-in-law; Carl Cook, brother; W.H. Hays, brother-in-law; and Angel Rose Maddox, sister.

Those left to honor and cherish her beautiful memory include: John Wayne Hays, Sr., her loving husband of 62 years; Jo Ann Wheeler, daughter and “bonus son”-in-law, Darrell; Ronda Kay Webb, daughter and “bonus son”-in-law, Nolan; Susan Marie Sewell, daughter; Dawn Odom, “bonus daughter”-in-law; as well as numerous grandchildren, a host of great-grandchildren, other relatives, and many friends.

Pallbearers will be Nolan Webb, Darrell Wheeler, Nolan Jared Webb, Chesley Gibbons, Jeffrey Garbert, Dugen Hays, and Tony Monroig.  Honorary pallbearers will be her great-grandsons.

Visitation will be held Thursday, June 1, 2023, from 5:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. at Rose Neath Funeral Home in Coushatta, LA.  Funeral services will be held Friday, June 2, 2023, at 2:00 P.M. at Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Coushatta, LA with Pastor Mike Fort officiating. Burial will follow funeral services at Hand Cemetery in Coushatta, LA.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations to honor Mrs. Mary be made to the “John Wayne Hays, Jr. Bible Fund, Hickory Grove Baptist Church” and mailed to 1911 Sigler Street Coushatta, LA 71019.

Rose Neath Funeral Home is in charge of all funeral arrangements.

Remembering Deborah Anne Johnson

Known to most everyone as “Mimi,” “Aunt Deb,” or “Mrs. Debbie;” Deborah Anne Johnson, in her home in Martin, Louisiana, passed away with a smile on her face as she greeted her Lord and Savior to take her home on Sunday, May 28, 2023. Born in Pasadena, Texas on September 15, 1958 (though momma will swear it’s on the 21st – long story) Debbie was a young, feisty, and sassy 64-year-old who was the daughter of the late Martha and Kenneth Ivy; and left behind two siblings, Brenda Rushing, husband Michael Rushing; and Jimmy Ivy, wife Janis Ivy; two daughters, Leah and Leslie Johnson; and only grandson, the pride and joy (her favorite, though Leah will try to argue it), Joseph “Kyle” Guillory. She was also an aunt to Colby and Jenna Rushing, Tabitha and Johnny King, James and Kelsey Ivy, and Elise Ivy. Debbie also had a great-nephew and several great-nieces: Chance, Summer, Bailee, Jadyn, and Jessica (“Jessi”).

Debbie graduated from Martin High School where she was both a cheerleader and basketball player. She always told her girls that she hated school, but ironically enough, became an elementary school teacher. For approximately 25 years, Debbie taught at Mauriceville Elementary and Middle School as a PE teacher who made her students exercise by dancing to line dances such as the electric slide, the macarena, and the tootsie roll; but was also the middle school volleyball and basketball coach. The relationships that she built with her colleagues, students, and parents of students created forever friendships and memories. Then she moved to Beaumont ISD where she would retire from Jones Clark Elementary School with well over 30 years of educational experience.

Of course, her journey to be completely retired did not last long as she found herself coming out of retirement in order to work at Riverdale Academy as the Kindergarten teacher out in the “little red schoolhouse.” Her short three-and-a-half years teaching at Riverdale Academy created even more life-long friendships and bonds, so much so that they became family. She cherished the community, the one in which she grew up, and loved the fact that her grandson attended the same school in which she taught.

Anyone who met her would easily tell you that she had a smile that would brighten a room and warm one’s soul. Not only was that smile the first thing people commented on, but she also had such a loving, and tender spirit. There was never a time when Debbie would not reach out for a hug, wave excitedly across a room/field/gym, nor not talk with you about anything you wanted. She was a phenomenal listener and could be caught most times talking on the phone or sharing a cup of coffee with family and friends.

Besides her love for traveling to watch Kyle and the Rebels/Lady Rebels ballgames, you could usually find her chasing the dogs (unruly animals, so Leslie would say) out in the front pasture because they had zero recall, working in her yard trying to find more places to put flowers and plants even though there were already plenty, watching TV shows that her girls watched so she could have those special moments with each of them, or playing card games with her family that became sometimes vicious (Kyle may or may not have lost his life on one or more occasions). The one bond that she cherished more than anything was that with her grandson, Kyle. One could find “Mimi” spending time getting the school gossip or sharing secrets with Kyle and them holding a full conversation by stealing glances across the dinner table or living room.

Ultimately, these memories are ones that the family cherishes, but the truly inspirational piece to Debbie’s story was that with her battle against not just one, but two cancers; Ovarian and Acute Myeloid Leukemia. The past five years of her life were filled with so many storms, but to watch her fight, her will to stay positive even in the darkness, is one that touched many lives, young and old. The additional friends who became family, the community rallying together for the fight, and the community support provided to her girls and grandson, was one that she cherished deeply. That drive and will also resonated in her faith and belief that all things were in God’s hands. She never wanted this to be the thing that beat her, but in the end, Debbie, as a final act of defiance, made it home to be surrounded by loved ones as family and friends visited to share their stories with her and her daughters.

A celebration of life/memorial service will be forthcoming and posted on Leah’s social media pages. 

Alderman Sworn In

The Village of Martin announced their newly appointed Alderman, Kevin Robinette. Kevin will finish the term of an alderman who moved out of state. 

Robinette was sworn in Tuesday, May 30th by Red River Parish Clerk of Court Stuart Shaw. 

The village posted, “We know he will be a great asset to the Village.”

Availability Of Low-Income Energy Assistance Funds (LIHEAP)

The DeSoto Parish Police Jury Office of Community Services is announcing the availability of funds dedicated to assist eligible low-income households in Red River Parish. This call is for non-crisis assistance. Please call 318-872-0880 or 1-800-872-0889 on June 7, 2023.  Our office will be accepting calls at 8:00 A.M. No calls will be accepted before 8:00 A.M.  You will receive an appointment letter in the mail with detailed information in reference to your LIHEAP appointment.  Funding is limited and appointments are first come first serve.

To schedule an appointment, you may call: 318-872-0880 or 1-800-872-0889.

Crisis funding is available for Red River Parish residents.  Residents with a disconnect notice (Crisis) should call 318-872-0880 or 1-800-872-0889 while funding is available to schedule a crisis appointment.

An eligible household is one whose total income is at or below the levels listed in the table below.

Green Meadow Haven Celebrates National Nursing Home Week

By Molly Seales

On May 15-19, residents and employees of Green Meadow Haven celebrated National Nursing Home Week with fun themed days and activities. Monday’s dress theme was spring attire. Residents were treated to vanilla wafers and lemonade under the pavilion, where they got to also enjoy the beautiful sunny weather. Tuesday’s dress theme was decade’s day. Treats for the day were throw-back refreshments-Dunk-A-Roo cookies and Hi C drink boxes. Everyone also enjoyed regular Tuesday afternoon bingo.

Wednesday was pajama day, and the residents were treated to freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. They also had their usual Wednesday noon church service with Bro. Olan McLaren from Davis Springs Southern Methodist Church and Caleb Willis from Fairview Baptist Church. Thursday was wacky and tacky day. This seemed to be the resident’s favorite day! They enjoyed an afternoon of “The Price is Right.” Unlike real tv, “hostesses” Katie, Destiny, and Mary Tom made sure everyone was a winner!

The week concluded with Patriotic Day on Friday. The employees and residents enjoyed boiled crawfish, but another treat was in store for them after lunch. Pey-Pey’s Ice Cream Truck came by, and everyone was treated to an ice-cream snack. Thanks to Wesley Chapel Church for making this happen. The day ended with Mrs. Sharon Adkins’s usual Friday afternoon Bible study.

The activities department would like to say a big thank you to everyone who participated and made it a fabulous week for the residents.

Photo credit Mary Cowser

End of The Cereal Sagas

By Teddy Allen

Two of the past three weeks, we’ve traded love notes about one of the Major Food Groups.

Been a good run, our time with cereal.

And it doesn’t have to end — not in real life. Not as long as the amber waves of grain are a thing.

But it does have to end here. Time to move on to other Foods, other Friends, other Things.

As an exclamation point, we’ll do something I used to do semi-regularly but we haven’t done yet in the SBJ. Today, a few of you take the wheel and share some Very Personal Stories. Had to leave out so many, including a favorite from a friend who loves cereal so much, he uses many of his favorites in his various passwords. Thank you to all who took the time to bear their Cereal Souls.

From Donnie Golfgame: There was a time in my life I was torn between Quisp, which I’m proud you mentioned, and Quake – which was like a sister cereal to Quisp, although instead of a sister there was a picture on the box of a miner with a light on his hardhat. As George Herbert Walker Bush would say, Quisp was a “kinder, gentler” form of Cap’n Crunch, which we all know is like having a mouthful of thumbtacks in your mouth. Quake, however, was Cap’n Crunch’s evil uncle as far as texture. Eat a bowl of Quake and you weren’t eating — couldn’t eat — anything else that day. Gum carnage.

I noticed when my kids were little that Sugar Crisp had suddenly become Honey Crisp and then later on it was just Crisp on the box. Same thing with Sugar Pops, which became Corn Pops and I think today it might just be Pops. Sugar has gotten a bad rap.

My Top 10, starting at the top:

  1. Cap’n Crunch
  2. Raisin Bran
  3. 40 Percent Bran Flakes, (which now are just Bran Flakes; I always wondered why they didn’t call themselves 60-Percent-Of-Whatever-Else-Was-In-The-Box Flakes).
  4. Rice Krispies; (are they just Krispies now? Is rice wrong?)
  5. Fruit Loops
  6. Corn Flakes, (or is it just Flakes?)
  7. Sugar Pops
  8. Honey Comb
  9. Cap’n Crunch with Crunch Berries
  10. Quaker Oats Oatmeal; (when I was a kid, there was a glass dish inside the oats).

From Duke of Don: There’s nothing more numerous than different people’s sense of humorous, right? I sent your Cereal Piece to a nephew in England. He responded, “Sadly nearly every cereal mentioned is not known to me; here we have our own which are the same as yours only under a different name. My breakfasts are not usually cereal-based but are instead …

1: Muesli (our own make barley flakes, rolled oats, porridge oats, oat bran, every kind of nut crushed up, mixed seeds, and raw cacao pieces plus milk); keeps you going through the day.

2: Croissants with lashings of extra butter, (Sundays only).

3: Porridge

4: Bacon Sandwich

5: Cold meats and cheese when in Europe

6: Crumpets

7: Toast

8: Lashings of coffee

9: Weetabix with warm milk but not very often

10: Corn flakes but only with a gun pointed at my head

From JayVee, Team Captain: First, a resounding NO to Trix, or any cereal with colors, and also to Grape Nuts (who in the world thinks this is really human food?! And why ruin the good name “Grape” by associating it with this product?)

  1. Raisin Bran Crunch
  2. Frosted Mini Wheats

3 and 4. Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios (tie game)

  1. Frosted Flakes
  2. Sugar Crisp (as in — add music — “Can’t get enough of them Sugar Crisp.” It’s a different name now — heaven forbid we actually put “sugar” in a name anymore. Gotta eat ’em fast; if soggy it’s a different ballgame.
  3. Sugar pops, (ditto previous comment).
  4. Raisin Bran

From The Skynman: My go-to is Honey Nut Cheerios. I have ditched the rest. I can do both ways. With milk or without. A handful of HNC for a quick snack is a pick-me-up. And on long trips there is a box in the seat next to me to munch on while I drive and listen to my book on tape.

From Train: If a team of cereal played ball, here’s my batting order:

  1. Fruity Pebbles
  2. Frosted Flakes
  3. Honey Nut Cheerios
  4. Lucky Charms
  5. Cinnamon Toast Crunch
  6. Cocoa Puffs
  7. Cap’n Crunch
  8. Raisin Bran
  9. Count Chocula

Naturally, a bowl would coach first, a spoon third, and milk would be the manager.

Contact Teddy at

Opportunity:  Reading Specialist/Interventionist

The River Parish School Board is accepting applications for the following position:

Reading Specialist/Interventionist (salary starting at 60K including supplements)


Minimum of 3 effective years of experience as a certified ELA teacher. Teaching experience in 6-12 grade level. Proven results when working with struggling readers. Strong knowledge of how children learn to read. Knowledge and experience working with high-quality reading curriculum.

Certified in the following areas:

Secondary Grades 6-12

Reading Specialist 1-12

Louisiana Trained Mentor Teacher

Submit applications at the Red River Parish School Board and at under “Employment”. Deadline for submission is June 2, 2023.

For more information, you may contact Nicole Eason by email or 318-271-3150.

Nicole M. Eason

Red River Parish School Board

Human Resources Department

Staffer Adoption Time

Our 2023 Summer Staffers began arriving this week to start Staffer Training at Clara Springs Baptist Camp. The camp asked, “Pray for our Summer Ministry Team as we serve the Lord.”

The annual staff support program is beginning.  Would you consider adopting a staffer? This is a special program at Clara Springs to help encourage the team during the long summer through prayer and little gifts/cards of encouragement you send.

You can click this link to sign up:

Sheriff Reports Scam

Recently the Red River Sheriff’s Office received reports of people receiving calls from a person falsely identifying himself as a Red River Parish Sheriff’s Deputy. They were advised that a recent law change to the sex offender registry requires offenders to re-register and that they are late on their registration.

They are then told such things as they have a warrant for their arrest and, to avoid being arrested, must make a payment using a series of barcodes that they would be provided.

This is a scam! Do not make any payments if you receive a similar call!

Please contact the Sheriff’s Office directly at 318-932-4221 if you are a target of this scam or receive others calls that appear to be from someone impersonating a RRPSO deputy.

Federal  Censorship Case Highlights the Collusion Between the Feds and Facebook

By Royal Alexander

Recall, a civil suit was brought several months ago by a number of states including Louisiana, by Louisiana Attorney General, Jeff Landry, in federal court in Monroe, Louisiana.  The gist of the lawsuit is the relationship between the federal government and Big Tech—here, Facebook.

The next hearing on this matter takes place at the end of this month in federal court in Monroe and the legal argument will be made by Liz Murrill, AG Landry’s top litigator.  (I am quite impressed with Mrs. Murrill who has defended Louisiana before the U.S. Supreme Court 5 separate times).

Most recently, U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty issued an order allowing the amending of the lawsuit to include class-action allegations.  Certifying a class action is a procedural decision and does not address the merits of the case itself, but if successful on the merits it could allow a wider group of people to share in a future damages award.

The legal question is one regarding freedom of speech and how these enormous social media sites choose to “moderate”—in fact, censor—the content of speech and whether, either by their own doing or as a result of pressure from the federal government, or both, the tech giants are suppressing certain speech which is virtually always conservative speech.

Judge Doughty previously ruled that full discovery requires the disclosure of additional email and other communication between Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, and several of the public affairs staff at the Department of Health and Human Services.

These initial communications appeared to involve active coordination between Facebook, the largest social media company in the world, and U.S. government officials, including high-ranking White House officials.

In one example, after Pres. Biden claimed that social media sites and “Covid misinformation” were resulting in “killing people,” a senior staffer at Meta (a Facebook spinoff) sent an email to U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, which stated “it’s not great to be accused of killing people” but Meta was committed to finding “a way to deescalate and work together collaboratively.”

A week later that same Meta official sent another email to Murthy stating that “I wanted to make sure you saw the steps we took just this past week to adjust policies on what we are removing with respect to misinformation.” The email concludes “…you (Surgeon General) have identified 4 specific recommendations for improvement and we want to make sure to keep you informed of our work on each.”

This is all much too cozy.

This incestuous relationship between the federal government and Facebook and Big Tech creates a toxic coordination between government and huge social media sites to suppress critical information millions of people need to make good, well-informed personal decisions.  That’s irrefutable censorship of free speech.

Facebook’s presence in American society is so widespread and prevalent as to bear all the trappings of a government entity—a public utility.  These emails clearly establish that Facebook is functioning as an arm of the government, a “state actor” in legal parlance, and as the functional equivalent of the Thought Police of the State.  Therefore, it should be held to the same prohibitions on censorship as the government.

Facebook pretends that it is a neutral arbiter operating an information exchange platform.  In fact, in March of 2020, Mark Zuckerberg stated that “I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online…. Private companies probably shouldn’t be, especially these platform companies, shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.”

But they are and do.

While our 1st Amendment prohibits the suppression of speech by local, state, and federal governments, government censorship is not the only kind.  Private sector suppression of speech is just as threatening and chilling.  This is particularly true where Big Tech platforms become news editors and make common cause with the Deep State and the National Democrat Party.

In truth, social media has become our modern-day public forum.  It’s also true that the greatest virtue of free thought and free speech is that all kinds of ideas are thrust into the rough and tumble of the marketplace of ideas where the best idea prevails.  It is this collision of, this testing of, speech and thought in a free and open exchange that produces the best results—and leads the nation to wise and popular policy results on challenging national issues.

I look forward to this litigation continuing.

NSU Releases Honor Rolls


The President’s List, the Dean’s List and Honor List for the spring semester have been published by Northwestern State University.  Many local students are high academic achievers and have earned a spot on one of the lists.

Five hundred fifty-seven students were named to the Honor List at Northwestern State University for the Spring 2023 semester.  Students on the Honor List must be enrolled full-time at Northwestern and have a grade point average of between 3.0 and 3.49.

Students from Coushatta are Chloe Boulas, Ethan Cole-Morgan, Meagan Corley, Hailey Holley, Reagan Huddleston, Elizabeth Hughes, Madelyn Lawson, Hayley Loe, James Lowring, Nolan Mabile, and Farrah Mckissack.

Seven hundred and twenty-seven undergraduate students were named to the Spring 2023 Dean’s List at Northwestern State University. Students on the Dean’s List must be enrolled full time and earn a grade point average of between 3.5 and 3.99. 

Those named to the Dean’s List from Coushatta are

Alexia Adams, William Almond, Claire Endris, Kaylee Merry, Abby Williams, and Waylon Washington.

From Hall Summit is Jamie Quick.

Five hundred twenty-nine students were named to the President’s List at Northwestern State University for the Spring 2023 semester. Students on the President’s List must be enrolled full-time at Northwestern and have a grade point average of 4.0.

From Coushatta, Kyle Hargrove and Heidi Murray achieved a 4.0.

Weekly Arrest Report

Report from the Red River Sheriff’s Office for May 19-26,  2023

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.

Notice of Death – May 31, 2023

Vida R. Blue, Jr

July 28, 1949 to May 6, 2023

Celebration of Life Thursday June 1, 2023 at 11:00 am at Mary Evergreen Baptist Church in Grand Cane.

The Red River Parish Journal publishes “Remembrances” – unlimited words and a photo, as well as unlimited access – $70. The obituary will be included in the emails sent to subscribers.  Contact your funeral provider or Must be paid in advance of publication.

ETC… For Wednesday May 31, 2023

First Methodist Coushatta has announced plans for Vacation Bible School.  The 2023 theme is “Stellar Shine Jesus’ Light.”  VBS Time is June 19-22 from 5:30-8:00 pm each night.  A Meal will be provided nightly.  VBS is for ages 4 years old through 5th grade.

Springhill Baptist Church will hold VBS Monday – Friday, June 5th-9th, from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm. Supper will be served at 5:15 pm. There will be classes for all ages, including Youth and Adults. Nursery will be available to adults attending VBS.

Last Friday evening Martin Baptist Church cooked and served 312 people at Clara Spring Camp’s May Fourth Friday Fish Fry.

Weekly Arrest Report

Report from the Red River Sheriff’s Office for May 19-25,  2023

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.

First Baptist Honors Grads

By Faerie L. Sledge

On May 21, 2023, First Baptist Church Coushatta honored its two high school seniors during Sunday morning services at the church.  The graduates, Makayla Mills and Benjamin Almond were introduced by their Sunday School teacher and Youth Leader, Randy Thomas, Jr.

Makayla, a home schooler, is the daughter of Mandi and Bubba Mills of Pelican and plans to attend Louisiana Christian University (formerly Louisiana College) in Pineville. 

Ben, a Riverdale Academy graduate, is the son of Heather and Will Almond of Coushatta. He plans to attend Northwestern State University in Natchitoches.

The congregation enjoyed a slide presentation of the graduates as they were growing up. Makayla and Ben were presented New King James Version Study Bibles by Thomas. Church pastor is Dr. Philip Caples.

Riverdale Academy Holds Academic/Athletic Banquet

By Molly Seales

On Tuesday, May 9, Riverdale Academy held its annual Academic and Athletic Banquet at Davis Springs Southern Methodist Church. Teachers presented academic awards, and coaches recognized the players that had earned honors such as all-district, all stars, and all MAIS teams. Articles featuring sports have already been written in the journal. The amazing meal of fried fish, chicken strips, and jambalaya was provided by Hudd’s Catering.

Coach Jared Smelser presented history awards to senior Jessie Kate Cobb and sophomore Haylee Smith for outstanding achievement in their history classes. Dr. Hunter Brown presented the high school science award to junior Madison Chamberlin for her superior performance in chemistry this year. Mrs. Kristi Spradley had academic excellence awards for students in her classes who had the highest overall GPA for the year and outstanding student awards for students who were determined, hard working, and always on top of their school work. Her academic excellence awards went to Makayla Pickett for English I, Haylee Smith for English II, Madison Chamberlin for English III, and Baylee Whittington for English IV. Her outstanding student awards went to Alaina Boyd for English I, Shirley Boyd for English II, Will Jones for English III, and Jessie Kate Cobb for English IV. Sky McMullan received an outstanding student award for ACT Prep. Mrs. Spradley also taught Algebra III this year, and Jessie Kate Cobb received the academic excellence award and Tyler Parker received the outstanding student award. Math teacher, Amanda Cason, presented math academic excellence and outstanding student awards as well. Math awards for the highest GPA went to Julia Grace Riggs for Algebra I, Makayla Pickett for geometry, Madison Chamberlin for Algebra II, and Mason Murray and Molly Seales for advanced math. Outstanding student awards went to Haylee Guthrie for Algebra I, Charity Williamson for geometry, Will Jones for Algebra II, and Emma Clemons for advanced math.

Mrs. Cason also presented Beta service hours awards to the top two students this school year. Charity Williamson was first with 62 volunteer hours, and Shirley Boyd was second with 53.5 volunteer hours. Stock Market 1st place winners, Georgia Carlisle and Emily Nettles, were also recognized. They won 1st place out of over 60 teams competing. KREB News awards were given to Most Dedicated Ryder Huddleston, Best Reporter Hayden Hillman, and Best News Personality Will Jones.

Counselor Robin Carter presented awards to students who made a composite score of at least 20 on their ACT and maintained a 4.0 GPA for the entire school year. ACT award winners were Georgia Carlisle, Madison Chamberlin, Luke Greer, Kacie Harper, Collin Hesson, Hayden Hillman, Chloe Jordan, Emily Kirkland, Sky McMullan, Mason Murray, Molly Seales, and Sarah Kate York. 4.0 honor roll awards were presented to Madison Chamberlin, Luke Greer, Collin Hesson, Will Jones, Mason Murray, Makayla Pickett, Molly Seales, Haylee Smith, Maddie Whittington, Charity Williamson, and Sarah Kate York.

4-H and cheer awards were also given, and student council members Jessie Kate Cobb, Emma Giddings, Luke Greer, Lilly Guillot, Hayden Hillman, Will Jones, Jadyn King, Emily Kirkland, and Makayla Pickett. Literary rally awards were presented by Dr. Brown, and senior received their honor cords and Beta stoles for graduation. The final award of the evening is the highest honor given to a male and female student athlete. This award, the A.L. Sigler Award, is named after Riverdale’s first principal who placed great emphasis on academic achievement for student athletes. The male and female senior athlete with the highest grade point average gets this award, and this year’s recipients were Luke Greer and Molly Seales.

It has been a great year for both academics and athletics at Riverdale. We wish our senior scholars and athletes the best of luck in the future, and we are excited about the 2023-2024 school year.

The Hippie Lawyer

By Brad Dison

Ronald Hughes was a novice California attorney whose first trial was approaching quickly.  He was defending a woman named Leslie Van Houten in a multiple murder trial.  Three other defendants had their own attorneys.  Ronald needed a good suit for the trial.  In May of 1970, Hollywood movie studio MGM decided to auction off movie props, many from the golden age of Hollywood, which they figured they would not need for future films.  The props had been kept in climate-controlled storage for decades.  Ronald watched as noteworthy items brought high prices and probably questioned whether he would be able to afford anything at all.  Finally, the lone item he had been waiting for was on the auction block.  It was a man’s suit worn by Spencer Tracy in the 1960 film Inherit the Wind.  The auctioneer opened the bids on the suit and the room fell silent.  As the auctioneer peered around the room, only one person in the audience seemed interested.  Ronald bid $5.00 on the suit and won it.  Ronald was uninterested that the suit was worn in a film, he was interested because the suit was cheap and in his size.

On July 15, 1970, the trial for which Ronald bought the $5 suit began.  The trial was fraught with disruptions from members of Leslie’s family, many of whom were eventually banned from the courtroom.  Due to Ronald’s flamboyant courtroom demeanor, his long hair, long beard, the admission of his squalid living conditions (Ronald lived in a garage with holes in the roof and slept on a mattress on the floor), admission that he wore a $5 suit he purchased at an auction, and his admission to having used hallucinogenic drugs in the past, the press nicknamed him the “Hippie Lawyer.”  The trial dragged on for months.  Finally, on November 16, 1970, after 23 weeks of presenting evidence, the State of California rested its case against Leslie.  It was time for the defense attorneys to present their evidence.

On November 19, the defense attorneys filed motions for the acquittal of the defendants on the grounds that the state had not presented sufficient evidence to convict them.  The state had presented more than 250 individual pieces of evidence, 73 photographs of the victims, and eyewitness testimony.    The judge rejected the motions for acquittal.  To everyone’s surprise, each of the defendant’s attorneys, including Ronald, stood in turn, and said, “the defense rests.”  The attorneys rested their case without calling a single witness in their defense.  Leslie and other members of her family yelled that they wanted to testify.  The prosecution and defense agreed to recess over the week of Thanksgiving to give both sides a chance to prepare closing arguments.  The trial was set to resume on Monday, November 30th.

When the trial resumed on that Monday morning, Ronald failed to show up.  After waiting an hour, the trial continued without Ronald.  He had been late before because he lacked proper transportation and was once arrested for outstanding traffic tickets.  When he failed to appear for court the following day, the judge ordered deputies to use all possible means to find Ronald and bring him to court.  The trial continued without him.  Deputies learned that Ronald had hitchhiked to the Los Padres National Forest for a Thanksgiving week camping trip.  Search parties scoured the area but found no trace of Ronald.  The defendants, including Ronald’s client Leslie, were eventually convicted of murder.  On March 29, the jury returned death penalty verdicts against Leslie and the other defendants.  On the same day, two trout fishermen found Ronald’s body in a knee-deep creek.  His head was wedged between two large rocks.  Conspiracy theorists and even some of Leslie’s family members concluded that the father of the family had Ronald killed although a cause of death was never determined.  Investigators speculated that Ronald drowned during a rainstorm which caused flash flooding.  However, the possibility that members of Leslie’s family had killed Ronald was not beyond the realm of belief.  You see, the family who disrupted the courtroom proceedings was referred to as the Manson family.  The father of the family was Charles Manson.         


  1. The Los Angeles Times, May 4, 1970, p.4.
  2. The Sacramento Bee, November 17, 1970, p.6.
  3. Santa Cruz Sentinel, November 18, 1970, p.7.
  4. The Peninsula Times Tribune, November 19, 1970, p.1.
  5. Concord Transcript, November 30, 1970, p.2.
  6. The Hanford Sentinel, December 2, 1970, p.1.
  7. The Los Angeles Times, March 30, 1971, p.3.
  8. The Sacramento Bee, April 1, 1971, p.77.

4-H Goes on a Trip

Red River Junior High 4-H took a trip to LA Tech. The athletic department took them for a tour of the football facilities, then they were off on a campus tour.

After a nice lunch at Tech table, they completed their day at Lambright, using up some energy!  Thank you, Mrs. Grayson, for being a great 4-h club leader.

Lodge Award Presented

Jackie Baxley 2019 Achievement Award for his service as Worshipful Master at Ashland Lodge #196. Pictured with Roy Paul Wright DDGM.

Jackie has been in Lodge for over20 years and has served as worshipful master several times. It is a one year term and DDGM stands for District Deputy Grand Master. Jackie is from Martin.

Does He Have an Unfair Advantage?

By Steve Graf

Over the past couple of years, there’s been some controversy with a certain professional angler having an unfair advantage. Today we’ll look at this particular angler who is at the root of this controversy. He’s a guy who is not a cheater, but an angler who takes advantage of how the rules of the game are written. He’s an angler, fishing at the highest level with both B.A.S.S. and Major League Fishing, who has had a lot of success doing it his way.

The angler we’re talking about is Keith Poche. Keith was raised in Natchitoches, Louisiana, attended Natchitoches Central High School, and after graduation went on to play football at Troy State University. After a knee injury, Keith decided to walk away from football and pick up a rod and reel. Even though he grew up fishing the banks of Cane River, he decided to take his fishing to another level and pursue a career as a professional angler.

In 2014, Keith qualified to fish his first Bassmaster Classic, held on the Red River out of Shreveport, where he finished 3rd overall. To say Keith has had “a little success” is an understatement. He’s had 46 top 50 finishes, 21 top 20’s, and 7 top 10’s, with a few victories mixed in.

So, a few seasons ago, Keith made a decision to fish out of a custom-built aluminum boat that allowed him to get into areas that other anglers could not. He did not want the fully wrapped fiberglass boat that 98% of the professional anglers fish out of. But his competition was not happy with him having such an advantage with his custom boat. After several events, protests were made and there were many attempts to have him disqualified for the way he was accessing backwater areas. This special boat, built to his specifications, allowed him to gain access into backwater areas holding bass that had zero pressure and, in some cases, had never seen a bait before.

As I’ve illustrated in past articles, anglers are a fickle bunch and hate it when one guy figures something out they did not. Keith figured out quickly that this was his niche, and how he could have success without breaking any rules. Now he obviously pushes the envelope, but he never violates a written rule. Still, anglers and officials knew something had to be done to “level the playing field.” One rule implemented a couple of years ago was that whatever boat you start the season with, is the same boat you must fish out of in all the tournaments.

But here’s what is amazing…these same anglers complaining are not recognizing that Keith is at a huge disadvantage when tournaments are held on large bodies of water like the Great Lakes. His small custom boat with a 90-horsepower engine is not conducive for fishing the larger bodies of water, putting him at a distinct disadvantage. Keith is restricted on how far he can go compared to the guys running 20 to 21-foot boats with 250 horsepower engines. Now Keith has never complained about him being at a disadvantage when the tour reaches these massive lakes. He just puts his head down and tries to make the best of it. Not sure if it’s just a coincidence, but no one is complaining about Keith’s small aluminum boat unless he is at or near the top of the leaderboard. 

The most recent issue came last week at the Toledo Bend B.A.S.S. Open Series where Keith ran up the lake and gained access into an area other anglers could not go. He finished 29th in this event, but a protest was made on the area and how Keith gained access.

This is a continuing story that I will make sure to monitor as Keith and his lawyers, along with B.A.S.S. officials, are working together to try and come to a mutual agreement on what’s allowed and not allowed. One thing is for sure…look for some major rule changes at B.A.S.S for the upcoming 2024 season to take away Keith’s advantage. Till next week, good luck, good fishing and make sure to wear sunscreen and good protective clothing. No one is immune to skin cancer like Melanoma.