Holiday Express makes stop Sunday

The 2023 Holiday Express train is set to return. Santa Claus and his elves will be visiting 20 communities in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi. This festive six-car train will continue its charitable tradition with The Salvation Army this year.

The Holiday Express resumes its free public stops, allowing visitors to meet Santa and explore the festively adorned train cars. Donations for the 2023 campaign are welcomed!

The Holiday Express will visit Coushatta on Sunday, December 3 from 4-8pm.

Castor’s Annual Reindeer Run slated for December 11

The 6th Annual Castor High School Reindeer Run is slated for Monday, December 11, 2023. The Reindeer Run is a fun event for the community and school. It is hosted by the CHS Cross Country, Track and Softball team.

The run will have the following divisions:
6:00pm  Dancer’s Dash: 1/4 mile fun run for students in grades 3 and below
6:10pm  Rudolph’s Rush: 1/4 mile run for students in grades 4 -6
6:20pm  Blixen’s Blitz: 1/4 mile dash for the serious runner grades 7 and up (including any community runners)
6:30pm  Santa’s Stroll: 1 lap to enjoy the lights

Included with admission fee ($15) is an event long sleeve shirt, reindeer antlers, and access to all the fun Christmas activities. Santa will be available for pictures. There will be a Santa letter writing station, places for fun photos, a Christmas movie playing, games, and other fun holiday activities. 

All participates MUST wear the 2023 Reindeer Run event shirt to enter. Shirts are on sale this week only. Cost is $15. All orders are due Friday, December 1. Contact the school to order (318) 544-7271.

If you would like to be a Reindeer Run sponsor complete the form online at Sponsorships are also due by Friday, December 1. Sponsor names are featured on the back of the event shirt according to the level of sponsorship chosen.

The event helps the track and cross country programs attend state meet, purchase uniforms, and buy equipment. Both programs have enjoyed great success. The boys cross country team just finished 8th in the state at the Division V State Meet and the girls finished in the top ten as well with an individual runner medaling in the top 10 on the track. The track teams have won a combined total of four LHSAA State Runner-Up titles since 2017, have won numerous district and regional titles, and have had many individual podium and state champion winners at state meet.

97th Annual Christmas Festival

Saturday, December 2, celebrate the Christmas season in Louisiana’s oldest city. Enjoy the daylong festival filled with music, entertainment, arts and crafts, food vendors, and the famous firework show choreographed to holiday music over the Cane River Lake. 

Admission to the Festival area is $10 beginning at 6am. Ages 6 and under are free.

Saturday’s Schedule of Events:
7am-7pm  Mistletoe Market (City Bank parking lots on Second Street)
1pm           Festival of Lights Parade
6pm           Fireworks over Cane River Lake

Music on Riverbank Stage
2:30pm      Pete & Paul Band
5pm           Johnny Earthquake & the Moondogs



By: Glynn Harris

Louisiana is in the throes of a major drought that has reduced palatable browse for deer; they are having to depend on less desirable food sources to survive. Forty-three-year-old Daniel Colvin, Bernice, is offering a 4 ½ acre smorgasbord of wheat, clover and turnips that virtually guarantee that when he sits on his stand, it’s almost a sure thing that he’ll see deer.

Colvin is an entrepreneur who has a variety of professions. He deals in real estate buying and selling, is a commercial fisherman, has a lawn service and is a consultant to property owners who want to provide the best opportunity for attracting and holding deer.

He has converted his own 1300 acres in Union Parish to a haven for deer and as a result, he has been successful in growing some impressive bucks. Colvin keeps cameras out year-round, provides minerals all year and improves the land by controlled burning and thinning where needed. He knows and keep records on virtually every buck on the property but there was one that provided a bit of a mystery.

“I’m really not sure if I knew about this particular buck,” Colvin said. “I knew I had a big one on the property and had a photo of one back in July in velvet before his rack fully developed, I knew was going to be special. Then he just disappeared, and I never had a picture of this particular buck after that.”

As dry as things have been, it had rained the night of October 29 and continued on into the next morning, finally ceasing on Monday October 30.

“I knew the deer would be moving after the rain and bucks were starting to make scrapes and chase does. At 3:30, I got in my box stand overlooking the food plot and actually ran off a doe and yearling as I got to the stand. Soon after getting settled in the stand, several small bucks showed up and were starting to harass does that had also arrived,” said Colvin.

Around 5:00 that afternoon, Colvin noticed one particular small buck had his eyes fixed on the adjacent woods. Suddenly, the buck bolted and ran from the food plot.

“I knew there had to be a bigger buck that had spooked this little buck, so I kept my eyes on the direction the buck was looking. Then I saw a big rack and then the body of an impressive buck as it stepped out. I knew it was a shooter for sure, so I got my 25.06 Remington up and five seconds later, I hit the trigger. The buck ran about twenty yards before falling at the edge of the food plot,” Colvin continued.

The buck sported an impressive rack of 11 points, had an inside spread of 19 2/8 inches, impressive main beams of 24 and 25 inches and 5 inch bases. He was determined to be 5 ½ years old and weighed in at 190 pounds.

Colvin took him to Greg Hicks, official Buckmaster scorer, and the tape came to 154 4/8 inches.
Although Colvin has a record of just about every deer on the property, this one, never actually identified, was a bit of a mystery that ended successfully.

Jazz for Pups concert to benefit local animal rescue agency

The NSU Jazz Combos will present their annual Jazz for Pups concert on Monday, Dec 4 at 7:30 p.m. in Magale Recital Hall. A live stream of the concert will be available at

The concert is a benefit performance in partnership with Friends All United for Natchitoches Animals (FAUNA). Admission is free but donations are accepted for FAUNA including dog food, treats and toys. Cash donations will also be accepted as well as checks through Venmo. Representatives from FAUNA will be at the concert to accept donations.

The NSU Jazz Combos will perform Christmas tunes as well as some jazz standards by Herbie Hancock, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker and more.

For more information contact NSU Professor of Saxophone Paul J. Forsyth at


Remembering Bobby Wayne Averitt

Funeral services celebrating the life of Bobby Wayne Averitt, 87, of Mansfield, Louisiana will be held 10:00 a.m., Wednesday, November 29, 2023, at Kilpatrick’s Rose-Neath Chapel, 943 Polk Street, Mansfield, Louisiana. Officiating the service will be Rev. Thomas Tuck, and Rev. Archie Owens. Interment will follow at Barber Cemetery, Mansfield, Louisiana. A visitation will be held on Tuesday, November 28, 2023, from 5:00 p.m. till 7:00 p.m. at the funeral home.

Bobby was born October 23, 1936, in Shreveport, Louisiana to Jeff and Bertie Averitt and entered into rest on Monday, November 27, 2023, in Mansfield, Louisiana.

Bobby was an ordained minister and enjoyed spreading God’s word. He was a retired school bus driver for DeSoto Parish for 10 years. He also worked at Brown and Root as a painter. He loved to fish and hunt, he loved to vacation with his wife in the Rockies. He was well known in his hometown of Mansfield as the Man in Black. Bobby was a member of the Trenton Pentecost Church where he worshipped when he could. He will be missed by all that knew him.

Preceding Bobby in death are his parents, Jeff and Bertie Averitt and brother, Douglas Averitt.
He is survived by his loving wife of 66 years, Lacy Averitt; son, William Averitt and wife Alice of Stonewall, Louisiana; daughter, Patricia Weaver and husband Ralph of Martin, Louisiana; sister, Dorothy Bailey of Bossier City, Louisiana; and granddaughter, Clare Averitt of Shreveport, Louisiana.

Honoring Bobby as pallbearers will be Mark Long, Eric Long, Albert Houston, Johnny Hasty, Lonnie Bloxom, and Colton Giles.

4-Hers invited to STEM Day

All Red River Parish 4-H members in grades 4-12 grade are invited to STEM Day at the Red River High School Vocational Center this Saturday, December 2 from 10am until 2pm.

This is a great service project!

Come and paint a picture for someone at the nursing home!

If you have any questions, call the 4-H office at 932-4342.

NSU hires Division III head coach, former LSU player McCorkle as coach

HEADING TO NSU:  Blaine McCorkle guided a dormant Belhaven football program to a conference championship and NCAA playoff appearance, and will try to do the same for Northwestern State. (Photo courtesy Belhaven Athletics/Northwestern State)

By DOUG IRELAND, Journal Sports

New Northwestern State football coach Blaine McCorkle is unknown to virtually everybody invested in Demon football, except for one of NSU’s greatest players.

Former NFL quarterback Craig Nall couldn’t be more excited that his former LSU teammate has been hired to take over the program in Natchitoches.

McCorkle, 47, and his family will be introduced to supporters and the media at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the Stroud Room, located in the Donald G. Kelly Athletic Complex. He replaces Brad Laird, one of NSU’s all-time great players, who resigned Oct. 26 as NSU curtailed its 2023 season by cancelling its final four games in the aftermath of the shooting death of junior safety Ronnie Caldwell Jr.

Northwestern has not had a winning season in football since 2008, a 7-5 record. There have been two 6-6 finishes, and two winless seasons, in 2009 and this fall (0-6). Last year Laird’s team had a 4-2 Southland Conference record.

Nall, who earned a degree from NSU after leading the Demons to the FCS playoffs with a record-shattering 2001 season, is a good friend of McCorkle – who has been in coaching for 26 years, the last six bringing a championship to a downtrodden Division III program at Belhaven College in Jackson, Miss.

He took the Blazers from a two-win team the year ahead of his arrival to a nine-win season in 2023, with  an outright USA South Conference championship – the first such title in Belhaven program history – and the program’s first berth in the NCAA Division III playoffs.

In his final three seasons, McCorkle led the Blazers to a 24-7 overall record. The 17-4 mark across the 2022-23 seasons marked the most wins in a two-year span in program history and helped McCorkle earn three American Southwest Conference/USA South Coach of the Year awards, including the 2023 honor.

McCorkle inherited a program that had not won more than three games in a season since 2013.

McCorkle has been an assistant coach as an offensive line coach at six FCS institutions – Delaware, Richmond, Liberty, Tennessee Tech, Chattanooga and UT Martin. Twenty of his 26 seasons as a coach have come at those FCS programs.

“The opportunity to be back at the FCS level where I’ve spent the majority of my career is something I’ve wanted for a long time,” said McCorkle. “It is a pure level of college football that plays for the right reasons. I’m excited to be back at that level. I’m also excited for the challenge of rebuilding – not building – Northwestern State because Northwestern State has been there before. The campus has a lot to offer. The town has a lot to offer. I’m honored and humbled to have the opportunity to restore a program a lot of people take a lot of pride in.”

McCorkle interviewed for the McNeese coaching vacancy two years ago, when the Cowboys replaced current LSU assistant Frank Wilson with Valdosta State coach Gary Goff. Nall said McCorkle was eager to apply for the NSU job six years ago when Laird was promoted from within to replace Jay Thomas.

“I’m really happy and excited, not only for him and his family but for the university. Northwestern State’s getting a good guy,” said Nall, who lives in the Dallas area and operates a nationwide business tutoring high school and junior high quarterbacks.

McCorkle was a walk-on deep snapper on Gerry DiNardo’s LSU teams when Nall arrived as a highly recruited quarterback from Alexandria Senior High. Nall became involved in a three-way battle for the starting job at LSU with Josh Booty and Rohan Davey, weathered the Tigers’ coaching transition from DiNardo to Nick Saban and ultimately transferred to his parents’ alma mater, Northwestern, to play his senior season.

McCorkle finished playing in 1999 and began his coaching career at LSU as a student assistant, earning his degree in 2000 before Nall left. They have remained friends since.

“Blaine has done a great job rebuilding the program that he’s been at, really turned it around and established a winning culture there,” said Nall.

“He’s fully aware of the challenge that’s going to be in front of him. He cares about his players. He’s an awesome coach and he does things the right way.”

McCorkle has no other apparent connections to Northwestern but from his days at LSU and during his time at Belhaven, he’s very familiar with the lay of the land in Louisiana and its football network. Belhaven had 13 Louisiana natives on its roster this fall. Two of his assistants recruited central Louisiana and another recruited south Louisiana.

“He knows the state, knows it well. I think recruiting-wise, he’ll do good. It will take some time but if there’s anybody who can do it, he will. He’ll get in there, roll his sleeves up, and get to work reestablishing a culture of winning,” said Nall.

“(Coming back to Louisiana) played a huge part in it,” McCorkle said. “I’ve wanted to be a Division I head coach in Louisiana for 30 years now. I came here in August 1995 and fell in love with the people, the culture and the passion that is the state of Louisiana. A big part of that culture is college football.

“We’re in a great high school football state that has great areas to pull talent from. One thing I know about the people of Louisiana is you always know where you stand with them. I want to give the people of Natchitoches what they want, earn their trust and build something special for them.”

Contact Doug at


By Doug De Graffenried

I need to talk with my fellow Walmart shoppers.

First, I wish to commend those of you who shop online and sit in your car with your trunks up, waiting. You are my heroes! I have tried to figure out how to do that, and I have failed on multiple occasions. I gave up. However, you need to go inside and see what happens with all those employees shopping for you. There are multiple employees filling multiple orders simultaneously. Rule number one of Walmart shopping, you don’t get in their way! They can’t see you. They are super busy and moving fast. Always yield to the employees pushing the multi-basket blue carts. I will tell you a secret, these people know where everything is. If you can’t find something, ask them; but ask politely and quickly. They are in a hurry because someone is in the parking lot with the trunk open, waiting patiently.

Now, for our talk. I’m a guy. I shop like a guy. If I have three items to purchase, I’m going to shop quickly and efficiently. If I go into the store for dog treats, I am not going to go visit the hair care product section. When I check out, I have all the codes turned the right way so I can scan quickly. I like to shop and check out quickly. I don’t want to keep the family behind me waiting.

In the past couple of weeks, I have shopped for Thanksgiving. I have been sent with lists of specific items. Some of the food items are hard to find this time of year. Here is what I want to say to my fellow Walmart shoppers. It is hard to look for an item squirreled away on a top shelf, with some of you guys in the store.
Don’t go to Walmart to read. If you are a label reader, go online and read the labels there. C’mon people, there is no significant difference between Libby’s corn and Delmonte corn. Grab the corn and go. If you grabbed the wrong corn and it has too much sodium, well that is why God created colanders and rinse water. If you are reading labels on the vitamin aisle, you are abominable. The vitamins will not restore your hair, fix your joints, restore your hearing, or make you look twenty-five again. You have been duped, move on! There is nothing worse than two people with full carts standing back-to-back reading labels. We are waiting for you to finish so we can move past you.

Walmart is not the place to have your family reunion. I know that some of you have not seen each other for two weeks but having a family reunion at the end cap on the baking row is not pleasing to anyone. You are causing a traffic jam. The people wanting to turn on that aisle can’t. The people wanting to leave that aisle can’t. My friend is waiting for groceries in the parking lot, and you are holding up the Walmart shoppers. Say hi and move on! Agree to meet in the laundry basket section, no one ever shops there. You can talk all day. You can swap recipes and your list of ailments there.

Sorry to grouse, but you guys need to keep your heads down, grab your items, and go. Walmart is not the place for reading, reunions, catching up, or trying to decide. In Greek, Walmart means “grab it and go!” It is a place of commerce not communion.

The next time, I’m in Walmart waiting on all the people not heeding this great article. I’m going to smile and remember that we have entered the season of Advent. It is the church season of waiting. We are waiting for our Christ. I promise, now that I have groused, that I will be smiling knowing that you help me learn patience while waiting for Bethlehem’s baby.

This & That…Wednesday, November 29

Today from 2-4pm the Coca-Cola Caravan will be at Shop-A-Lott #4, 620 South Drive, Natchitoches. Santa and his trusty polar bear will be on hand for photos. 

The Zwolle Christmas Festival presents the Holly Jolly Holiday Run Saturday, December 2 at Zwolle Festival Grounds. Entry is $25 that includes shirt. Registration is at 7am. 1 mile fun run starts at 7:30am and the 5K run/walk at 8am. Awards will be given at 9:30am. More information contact Torrie Sepulvado 318.315.1241.

Red River 4-H invites all members to enter the Christmas Cookie Contest. Dig out your favorite Christmas cookie recipe, make it, and bring at least a dozen to your 4-H Club meeting. Meetings will take place on the following days:
Dec 4-Magnolia Bend, Red River Junior High, At Large
Dec 5-Red River Elementary
Dec 6-Red River High
Dec 7-Riverdale
Dec 12-Country Day & Red River Academic Academy date 

Arcadia’s Hometown Parade will be Saturday, December 9, 2023 at 5:30pm. Starting Point is at Arcadia’s Event Center and rolls through Historic Downtown Arcadia. From 1pm to 5pm there will be tailgating, vendors, music, performers, and much more. 

Notice of Death – November 28, 2023

Bobby Wayne Averitt
October 23, 1936 — November 27, 2023
Service: Wednesday, November 29 at 10am at Rose Neath Funeral Homes – Mansfield
Interment at Barber Cemetery, Hamilton Road, Mansfield 

Joe L. “Tunu” Franklin
Visitation: Friday, December 1 from 2-6pm at Jenkins Funeral Home, Mansfield
Service: Saturday, December 2 at 1pm at Will of God Ministries, Coushatta.
Interment at New Mary Magdalene, Gahagan. Repast will follow at the Coushatta Event Center. 

Road Trippin–Savannah Style

Karen Taylor Squires

I had the pleasure of heading to Savannah, GA, for a conference in November. I cannot say it was an uneventful trip. In fact, just getting to Savannah was a journey of patience and endurance.

On November 14, I headed out for Georgia at about 7:00 am but was stopped in my tracks by a call from our first cousin. Her voice told me that something was wrong. She indicated that she had fallen and quite possibly had broken her leg. I turned around and headed to her house. Sure enough, when I got there, it indeed looked broken. Hours later, we would learn that it wasn’t broken but badly bruised. We headed to the emergency room at Highland Hospital. The trip to Shreveport was smooth, and after meeting her daughter at the hospital and getting her settled in the ER, I was once again ready to head to GA.

But, no, that was not in cards. I got back in my brand-new minivan and tried to start it. Not one spark or burst of energy. Confusion filled my brain. I could not imagine what could possibly have happened in the twenty minutes I was in the hospital. I beat on it, said ugly things to it, and jerked on the steering wheel. I got out and kicked the tires. I called the dealer. They told me a couple of things to try, but nothing. I resigned to get a tow truck to take me to the dealer. I am now for sure going to be leaving later. Luckily, I had given myself an extra day of sightseeing before the conference.

After waiting 90 minutes for a tow truck, I realized that my good friends, Francy and Greg Davis, were at the hospital. What luck. I’m not sure if everyone knows this, but Greg Davis can fix anything. Greg walked out to the parking lot and immediately said, “Your tires are turned.” I agreed but couldn’t figure out what difference that would make. He got in my car and jerked the steering wheel even harder than I ever thought to do. Miracles of miracles, the dang car started right up for him. He shrugged his shoulders and smiled. “It was just in a bind.” I looked embarrassed but thoroughly relieved. Again, Greg garnered hero status from me.

I headed out on my trip once again. Just 4 hours later than before. This meant that there would be no leisurely drive. I would need to push myself to complete the 13 ½ hours as quickly as possible. I rolled into Savannah at 1 a.m. and fell into my bed. I stopped only twice on the ride, for 14 minutes each time. It was only time to fill up the van and rush through a pit stop.

Although getting to Savannah had been a task, being in Savannah was a joy. If you haven’t experienced this city’s beauty and simplicity, you must visit. This city is made up of neighborhood squares, each with its own central park. Trees are everywhere, and the Savannah River is just east of this. All through all of this are the restaurants, shops, and nightlife. On my first day, I decided to experience all of them. Breakfast was in a local bakery. The French toast was mouth-watering. I strolled through the historical sites and walked the riverbank shops. I stopped for lunch in a local pub, grilled oysters, and crab cakes. Jiminy cricket, they were fine! More walking and shopping, the guided trolley tour, and spending the day enveloped in history. Dinner was in a local Italian restaurant a block from my hotel. The bread was a mythical experience.

The next day, the conference started. I had been invited to give the keynote address to the State of Georgia’s Council of Administrators of Special Education (G-CASE). I was honored to tell this group of over 500 people about the transformation of Red River Parish Schools and how this administration has taken a school system of little hope to a system with two “A” schools and an elementary school climbing the mountain to success. I love to tell the story. I love to give shout-outs to the outstanding teachers, vocational staff, administrators, and Directors who initiated this work and continue to push each day for the betterment of every child in this parish. This day was filled with teaching and learning and using the time to network with people from all over Georgia.

The next day was travel home day. I started early, 4:30 a.m. Of course, I would gain an hour by crossing into central time. This time, I had time to stop and see some sights. I decided that I would take the back roads. Very little interstate, if possible. My first stop was Tuskegee. Butler Chapel and Tuskegee Airmen historical sites were the mission. I then traveled through Selma, Alabama. I stopped at the bridge there. I wanted to take in the historical atmosphere of the place. I also stopped once for a little bit of picking. It is hard for me to pass a good flea market when it is right by the roadside. Another Christmas present was checked off the list.

The trip home was 15 ½ hours in length. I did not mind. I like the slow pace. I like to see places I have read about but never visited. It makes me feel a connection to the history of this country. It is not always a pretty history and certainly not always easy to experience, but it is our history and needs to be acknowledge.

Concern over new feature in Apple iOS 17

Several PSAs are being shared on social media platforms about a new feature in the latest Apple iOS 17 update for iPhones (and Apple watches) raising potential safety concerns over the new feature, known as NameDrop. Some social media users have expressed concerns that it even has the potential to put women and children at physical risk.

According to the Apple website, NameDrop is like AirDrop but for your phone number. The website explains: “Hold your iPhone near someone else’s iPhone or Apple Watch to use NameDrop. You’ll both be able to choose the specific phone numbers or email addresses you want to share, and you can share them along with your Contact Poster instantly” (more information on how to use the feature is available here).

Sounds convenient, efficient, and even great for networking. However, there could be many reasons why women and children would not want to swap personal information with complete strangers.

In a recent article, Cosmopolitan spoke to an expert to find out everything you need to know before downloading the new operating system including how the feature works and is it really safe.

Luckily, experts assure users that you should never have any accidental exchanges and both iPhones must be unlocked before the feature works. The devices then need to be held within an inch of each other, establish a connection and you choose to either share or decline to transfer content.

Charlotte Hooper, Helpline Manager for The Cyber Helpline, explains: “Apple has put some safeguards in place with NameDrop. One of the most important things to note is that the sender has to press a button to share their details before the recipient can receive them. Therefore, as far as we can tell with the feature as it exists, someone couldn’t hold their phone close to another and take their details without them consenting to it first. However, I use consent loosely here, as just pressing a button to agree to share your details doesn’t necessarily mean you consent.”

In case you didn’t know: NameDrop will be turned on by default, according to Hooper. Even with the safeguards, you may want to disable this feature.

Fortunately, there’s an easy enough way to opt out of the NameDrop feature and disable it entirely. To switch it off, simply go to Settings > General > AirDrop > Bringing Devices Together. Then toggle it to the off position.

The expert advises: “A good practice is to go through all your settings and understand what you are sharing, who you are sharing it with and think about why it is being shared. Apple has some good features that allow this to be done relatively easily, such as seeing all the apps you share your location with.”

She adds: “Unsafe settings are often on by default, and security settings (such as two-factor authentication) are often off by default. So, reviewing all settings is essential to understanding your privacy and security.”

USPS Operation Santa

To any parent struggling to afford Christmas this year, all you have to do is write a letter!

If your child writes a letter to Santa and mails it to the address below USPS will post it to the Operation Santa website. Someone will then anonymously adopt your letter and buy the gift(s) requested, then it will be shipped to your house from “Santa”.

Make sure to include their name, age, favorite color, clothes size, shoe size and anything they might want or need. Make sure you put your exact mailing address on the envelope when you mail it so that way the person who adopts your letter to play Santa can ship the gifts.

SANTA’S ADDRESS: 123 Elf Rd, North Pole, 88888

For everyone who is wondering “WHY GIVE YOUR KIDS ADDRESS OUT?” The answer is you don’t! All personal information is removed from the adoption list. It’s replaced with a QR Code which the adoptee must take to the post office when they are ready to ship the gifts. The post office then prints the shipping label from their database and places it on the packaging after the adoptee has left, so no one will see your address or children’s names except the post office employees.

Since the letter writer’s personal information is protected — including their address — the QR Code sent to your email account must be taken to the Post Office when you’re ready to ship the gift. The postal clerk will retrieve the information and will place the shipping label (with the letter writer’s address) on the package without you seeing it.

❗️If you would like anymore information go to
❗️You can check out this link for templates to print for your children’s letters.
❗️If you or your company wants to adopt a family for the holidays, click the link below!

All gifts must be shipped by December 18 to ensure arrival by Christmas.

There is no guarantee that every letter is adopted.

LSU AgCenter shares mulching advice

Just say no to “Volcano Mulching.”

Mulch should never be piled up in a mound around the base of the trunk. This can lead to problems for the tree. Piling the mulch deeply around the base of the trunk exposes the trunk to dark, moist conditions. Decay organisms can take advantage and invade the trunk.

When mulching trees, the mulch should be spread out in a flat disk about 2 to 4 inches deep and pulled back slightly from the trunk. As the mulch thins out and decays, add more mulch as necessary.

Not only does this protect trees from string trimmers, but keeping the area mulched and free from grass encourages faster growth on young trees. Research indicates that in some cases, trees that were mulched grew twice as fast as trees that were not.

Source: LSU AgCenter Facebook page

Calling all artists

In honor of the Whooping Crane Project at White Lake Wetlands Conservation area in Louisiana, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation invites you to join the “WHOOPING CRANE ART SHOW AND CONTEST” at

The last wild Louisiana Whooping crane died in 1950, and we have had no cranes on our Louisiana landscape for over 60 years. But in 2011, the first cohort of Whooping Cranes were released into southwest Louisiana. Now, as these cranes have reproduced and new cranes have continued to be released into the wild, there are about 80 wild cranes.

The deadline to enter in and submit a digital photo of your artwork is January 6, 2024.

Judging and prizes:
1st prize: $500 + Crane release experience at White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area, Spring 2024
2nd prize: $250 + Crane release experience at White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area, Spring 2024
3rd prize: $100 + Crane release experience at White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area, Spring 2024

Winners will be announced at the private gala on February 17, 2024.

Record-breaking Christmas tree structure located in DeSoto Parish

Photo credit: Gavin Rivers

STONEWALL, La. – DeSoto Parish took home the title of the having the world’s tallest Christmas tree structure. Over 500 vehicles arrived at the DeSoto Parish Sheriff’s Office to watch fireworks, drink hot cocoa, and get their pictures taken with Santa Claus all with the “Spirit of DeSoto Tree” in the background.

The DeSoto Parish Sheriff’s Office added 10,250 LED lights to its 300-foot tall communications tower behind Stonewall Government Plaza.

“It went from a cool idea to we’re going to have the largest tree in the world,” Sheriff Jayson Richardson said.

Everything associated with transforming the tower into a Christmas tree is privately sponsored. Richardson credits businessman Perry Thompson, who is building his own Lumiere Christmas Experience in Stonewall, with doing most of the leg work on the project, from engineering to building the light setups.

Lights will stream down from the 28-story tower and spread out into the shape of a Christmas tree.

While there won’t be an official designation of the tower-turned-tree being the “current” tallest in the world, a quick Google search shows DeSoto’s will dwarf one in Indianapolis, Ind., that’s 284 feet tall. The title of tallest in the world at one time went to Brazil, which in 2009 had a Christmas tree structure standing 400 feet. But it was only a one-season attraction.

Various sponsors and donors have made the project possible. Richardson emphasized no public money has been spent on it.

The tree will be lit from dark til 10:30pm each night until the first week of January.

Source: KTBS

Weekly Arrests 11/17-11/23


60 W M 11/17/2023 11/17/2023

41 B M 11/17/2023 11/17/2023

43 W M 11/18/2023 11/21/2023

52 B M 11/19/2023 11/20/2023

27 B M 11/23/2023 INCARCERATED

48 B M 11/23/2023 INCARCERATED

This & That…Monday, November 27, 2023

CBS Home Express will host Gifts & Grillin’ Party with Santa on Saturday, December 2 at 11am. Visit with Santa, enjoy warm chocolate chip cookies right off the Traeger grill, create a Christmas ornament, shop for gifts and enter to win door prizes.

Cypress Bend Park, 3462 Cypress Bend Drive in Many would like to invite everyone to come out and enjoy Winder Wonderland of Lights. Every Thursday-Sunday until December 23 from 5-9pm. $10 per car load.

The Alexandra Zoo is hosting Holiday Light Safari select dates in December from 5:30-9pm. Admission for Adults & Teens (Ages 13+) $10; Children (Ages 2-12) $8. Learn more:

Let’s try small business Saturday this year

As Black Friday rolls around each year, the urge to rush out and save a few dollars excites everyone. But what if everyone saved the gas and aggravation of fighting the crowds and decided to shop at hometown stores? What could possibly be fun in that? Making a point of shopping at local stores and vendors means that the community in which we live is enriched. Not only does the store owner reap benefits, but taxes also stay home, and the community feels a sense of pride.

Here in Coushatta, there are several places to purchase gifts for everyone on your list. Just to name the obvious, Mabile’s Corner Pharmacy is loaded with fashion, decor, and gifts, not to mention a sweet smile from Mrs. Connie, which brightens everyone’s day. Deen and Co. has all the gifts, decor, T-shirts, and a one-of-a-kind selection of Linnie Jane Inspired gifts; Nichols is a one-stop shop for everything. They carry things on everyone’s wish list: hunting, clothing, shoes, home goods, and beautiful Christmas decorations. Don’t pass up CBS Home Express without stopping. One trip inside, shoppers see all the tools for home/work needs, appliances, gifts, decor, and outdoor decorating. Don’t pass up Front Street without checking out Song’s Beauty Supply. This store has bows for girls, hair products, t-shirts, socks, jewelry, and more.

But what about the not-so-obvious Christmas wish list items? Guys will be happy to open gifts from NAPA Auto Parts-Beard’s automotive. Shoppers have another option in town with Bumper to Bumper. Good stocking stuffers and practical gifts can be found in both places. Randy’s Hardware is also a guy’s friend to everything fixer upper. Both the ladies and the guys would appreciate something from Quality Outdoor. Mowers, trailers, cars, lawn equipment, and more are available there. For the farmers, maybe something from one of the Feed stores in the parish would brighten the day.

There may be a foodie in the family. Gift certificates can be purchased at York Chop, C&K BBQ, Dairy Queen, Shellies, BK, Pizza Hut, Papa John’s, Faustos, and our Mexican restaurants. If cooking is the game’s name, Rivertown Market also has a way to give gift cards. Sugar and Beans is a delightful place to pass the time and grab a gift. And A+ Donuts never disappoints. And for pick-me-ups during the shopping day, stop at one of the Tea shops.

Local Online boutiques are plentiful for embroidery, clothing, unique cups, and gifts. Remember, these are our neighbors, and they are always ready to fill our gift-giving needs.

National dollar store chains are also available in Coushatta and can fill anyone’s last-minute needs. One trip to Maxway, and most people are hooked. There are more places to stop and more places to meet neighbors.

The actual point of this article is to open the reader’s eyes to the bounty of possibilities in Coushatta for great gifts and giving. It might be that Small Business Saturday is much better than black Friday. It might be that keeping revenue in this area brings even more pleasure. Yes, shoppers might save a few dollars in the big city, but there is much to be said for a knowing smile, a warm handshake, and a quick conversation with neighbors. Priceless!


Introduction by Joe Taylor

In the early 1970’s the Citizen editor Gordon Nelson persuaded Judge Paul Stephens to write several articles about early Coushatta and his memories of growing up there. This is one of the Judge’s stories.

Paul Stephens was born in 1900 and lived in Coushatta his entire life. He was a local historian of renown, a writer of poetry, and he served as the district judge for Red River and Natchitoches parishes for 24 years. His father was Laurie Paul Stephens the founder of L. P. Stephens & Co. For many years it was the largest store in the Parish. (Ed note: Today the store is vacant and owned by the Town of Coushatta. It is the largest building on Front Street.)

These articles he wrote almost 50 years ago are invaluable to those wanting to learn about early Coushatta history. I find them interesting and will be publishing several of them in the Red River Parish Journal. In this story Judge Stephens writes about the little village located on the Red River.

So, why is the town not still on the river where it started in 1870? Because there was a great fire in 1918 that virtually burned down the entire town. Paul Stephens was a witness to it and in his article next month describes the cataclysmic event.

Here is Judge Stephens’ story.

If you could go back to the year 1910 in Coushatta, you would find a quiet town, with older people going about their daily task of making a living and the children going to school. Quiet too, because with a south bound and north bound passenger train each day as the only means of coming or going to or from the town, the population remained constant, with little or no excitement.

The steamboat had vanished from the river, driven out by the railroad, except for an occasional visit from the old snag boat, C. W. Howell, and this visit, rare as it was, always engendered some excitement, especially among the young people.

The days were very much like the days we have today, weatherwise, but otherwise you would see a great difference. There was no gas or gasoline, no electricity, no automobiles or radios or paved or graveled roads or side walks. The houses had coal oil lamps for lighting and only wood as a fuel for heating and cooking.

There were no supermarkets or markets, except Sam Law had a meat market and on certain days he would bring his wares to his customers on a large square board, covered with oilcloth, held up on one hand high above his head. His market burned in the great fire of 1918 along with many other homes and businesses on the riverfront.

There were no brick schoolhouses, no school buses, no school lunches, no Welfare or income taxes. Can you imagine such a community without all of these? With all of this, my recollection was that the people were independent and very happy. They took care of their own infirm and the Lord blessed them for it.

Editor’s note: The photo of the C. W. Howell was taken by photographer Ernie Deane in 1907 on Spirit Lake, Arkansas. It came from the Arkansas History Commission website.

Lady Rebels Kickoff Basketball Season

By: Chloe Spradley

These past months the Lady Rebel’s JV and Varsity teams have been working hard for the upcoming season. So far, the girls have played 5 games, Varsity winning all 5, and JV with a record of 2-3. For this season, we had two new coaches come in – Coach Ty Jones coaching the JV boys and Coach Trey Pittman coaching Varsity boys and girls.

Coach Pittman coached at Riverdale many years ago and is excited to be back! I had the chance to ask Coach Pittman a few questions about how he feels about Riverdale so far and his future goals for the team; this is what he had to say: “I love Riverdale and always have. It seems just like I stepped right back to where I left in 2004. The parents, students, faculty, and alumni are all very supportive of the basketball program. Everyone pulls in the same directions and it has helped us to some early season success. Our goals for the team are blue trophies, no matter which tournament we play in. Our boys and girls all work extremely hard, and it is my responsibility to guide them to where we need to be in February.”

Everyone has high hopes for Coach Pittman and are thrilled to have him as part of the Riverdale family.

Meet The Rebels will be held on November 28th. Everyone is invited to come participate in the raffles and support our Rebels!