Worth Living For

By Virgie Rose

When John Brewer approached me about writing an article about mental health, mental illness and suicide, he was unaware that my daughter had called me that very morning to let me know that one of her childhood friends had taken her own life last week.  Last year, on World Suicide Prevention Day, one of my granddaughter’s friends also took her life.  This is a subject that many people are uncomfortable talking about – but it is critical that we do.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.  The first full week of September is National Suicide Prevention Week with September 10 being World Suicide Prevention Day.  Mental Illness Awareness Week takes place every year during the first full week of October.  46% of people who die by suicide had a diagnosed mental health condition.  90% of people who die by suicide had shown symptoms of a mental health condition, according to interviews with family, friends and medical professionals.

Mental health conditions include anxiety disorder, ADHD, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder and depression.  Some warning signs are excessive worrying, confused thinking, problems concentrating and learning, extreme mood changes and avoiding friends and social activities. 

1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year.  1 in 25 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year.  50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14 and 75% by age 24.  Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34 and the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.  The overall suicide rate in the U.S. has increased by 31% since 2001.  A large percentage of people experiencing homelessness, incarceration, the juvenile justice system and veterans have a serious mental health condition.  Worldwide 800,000 people die by suicide each year.  For each death, there are an additional 25 attempts.

These are disturbing statistics!!!   The theme “Worth Living For” was inspired by the conviction that together we can remind ourselves and each other that there is so much worth living for.

That is what we do in a program called CELEBRATE RECOVERY (CR).  CR is a Christ-centered 12-step program for hurts, habits and hang-ups (i.e., anxiety, grief, depression, drugs, gambling, anger, sexual addiction, alcohol).   We meet every Thursday evening at Open Door Fellowship Church, 285 Esperanza Rd., Coushatta.  Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we can no longer serve a meal but bring a “brown bag” and join us for dessert, coffee, tea and fellowship at 5:30 p.m.  Large group meets at 6:00 p.m. and small group at 7:00 p.m.  For more information, contact Justin Wiley (318-471-7889) or Virgie Rose (318-218-5853). 

4H Junior Leaders Meet

There was a good turnout of 4-H members last week for the Junior Leader meeting.  Jacque Fontenot, Red River 4-H Agent, posted, “It was so exciting to have 22 junior leaders at our meeting.  They brought donations toward goodie bags for special needs students in our parish.  

During the meeting the students decorated pumpkins for the nursing home patients.  

Fontenot said, “It’s not too late to enroll in 4-H by going to the following link:  http://lsuagcenter.com/4henroll
To enroll in one of our project clubs, call 932-4342 or email jfontenot@agcenter.lsu.edu.”

Fire Department Calls

Here are the Red River Fire Department calls made in recent days:

09-13-2020 @ 6:29 pm. Toned out to 155 Jenny Lane for a fire alarm. No smoke or fire found.

09-12-2020 @ 10:57 pm. Toned out to 139 Arlington Street for a fire alarm. No smoke or fire found.

09-15-2020 @ 2:15 pm. Toned out to1624 Ringgold Avenue for a fire alarm. Arrived to find no smoke or flames found. Dust from construction work being done set the alarm off.

09-21-2020 @ 1:05 pm. Received a phone call needing assistance at 233 East Carroll Street.

09-19-2020 @ 7:24 pm. Toned out to 146 Brushy Creek Road for a tree on fire. Arrived to find a control burn still under control.

09-23-2020 @ 6:01 am. Toned out to the Hwy 507 end of WPA Road for a power line catching a tree on fire.

09-22-2020 @ 9:08 pm. Toned out to a single vehicle MVC on Hwy 1 just north of Harmon Curve.

09-23-2020 @ 9:54 pm. Received a call from RRSO about a snake in an apartment at 1910 Jones Street. Firefighters arrived and got the snake out of the apartment and relocated the snake to another area.

09-23-2020 @ 12:18 pm. Received a call of a smell of smoke inside the building at 5036 Cutoff Road. After searching, firefighters found a water heater shorting out.

NSU Promotions

Scott Burrell has been named director of The Mrs. H.D. Dear Sr. and Alice E. Dear School of Creative and Performing Arts at Northwestern State University. Brian Gabriel will remain as interim head of the Department of New Media, Journalism and Communication Arts and Terrie Sanders has been named as interim head of the Department of Music. The appointments have been approved by the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System.

Burrell recently coordinated a $500,000 renovation to NSU’s  A.A. Fredricks Auditorium that will enhance the facility which hosts a variety of university and community events.

Before becoming Director, Burrell was the head of the NSU Theatre and Dance program for 12 years. Burrell has been a member of the theatre faculty since 1998. Under his guidance the theatre/dance program grew its enrollment by 30%, established a BFA in Dance, four faculty lines were created and over $300,000 in grant funds were awarded.  

Burrell has graduated a number of successful students who have moved into all areas of professional theatre and dance. Before the pandemic, there were five NSU Theatre/Dance alum on Broadway. His educational background includes a B.A in Theatre from Catawba College and an M.F.A. in Directing from Virginia Commonwealth University.

He has served in a number of leadership roles at Northwestern including the University Registrar Search Committee Chair, Grievance Committee Chair, Vice President of the Faculty Senate, and many other committee memberships. He was also awarded the NSU Faculty Advisor of the Year in 2017. Burrell is a member of the University of Louisiana System’s Management and Leadership Institute. Institute participants include faculty and staff members from each of the System’s nine member institutions who have exhibited upper management potential and a desire for leadership development. 

Gabrial served as interim department head in 2019-20. Over the past year, Students and faculty in the department were awarded a Bronze Telly Award in the Non-Broadcast Educational Institution category for a March 19 NSU-TV Newscast. Gabrial served as executive advisor for the newscast. He joined NSU’s faculty two years ago as the Erbon and Marie Wise Endowed Chair in Journalism. Gabrial serves as chair of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee.

He was a member of the journalism faculty at Concordia University from 2004 to 2018. Gabrial was the Mitchell V. Charnley Visiting Professor of Journalism at the University of Minnesota in 2011-12.

Gabrial was a news producer at RFD-TV, KETV-TV in Omaha, Nebraska, and at KSTP-TV and KARE-TV in Minneapolis. He was also a research project manager for the Minneapolis-based National Jury Project.  He earned a bachelor’s degree at Creighton University and a master’s and doctorate at the University of Minnesota.

 Gabrial was the recipient of the Hazel Dicken-Garcia Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Journalism History, presented at the Symposium on the 19th-century press, the Civil War, and Free Expression, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. He is the author of the book “The Press and Slavery in America, 1791-1859: The Melancholy Effect of Popular Excitement” published by the University of South Carolina Press. He has published four peer reviewed journal articles, two co-authored articles and seven book chapters along with book reviews and more than two dozen professional presentations along with participating in panels at professional conferences.

Sanders has been a member of NSU’s faculty since 1992, teaching voice and vocal pedagogy.She holds degrees from Emmanuel College, Lee University and Northwestern State University.  She also holds a certification with the McClosky Institute of Voice and is a Master Teacher for that organization.  Sanders is a doctoral student at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Sanders is an active performer and lecturer. As a soloist, some of her Oratorio appearances include Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” Handel’s “Messiah,” Poulenc’s “Gloria,” Brahms’ “German Requiem,” Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Requiem,” Haydn’s “Nelson Mass,” Bach’s “Magnificat,” Mozart’s “Requiem,” Vaughn Williams’ “Hodie,” Mendelsohn’s “Elijah” and Honegger’s “King David.” Her opera performances include Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi” and “La Bohѐme,” Menotti’s “The Telephone” and Warren Martin’s “The True Story of Cinderella.”

Sanders has been a member of the Summer Seminar Faculty for the McClosky Institute of Voice based in Boston since 2005. She has presented at state, regional and international conferences including the International Congress of Voice Teachers (2012 and 2017) and the Southern Region Conference for the National Association of Teachers of Singing (2014).  She regularly presents master classes and lectures throughout the state and region on alignment, relaxation and breathing techniques for the singer.

Sanders has served as coordinator of academic advising activities for the School of Creative and Performing Arts and the program coordinator for the BM degrees.  She was chair of the Music Curriculum Committee.  Sanders is the Danny and Lenn Dohmann Endowed Professor for 2020-21. She is a two-time recipient of the Donald F. Derby Endowed Professorship and was the 2017 recipient of the Joanna Magale Endowed Professorship, which funded an invitation to present at the 2017 International Congress of Voice Teachers in Stockholm, Sweden.

Scott Burrell

Brian Gabrial

Terrie Sanders

Reminder to Wash Hands Correctly

We have all heard to wash your hands often to prevent COVID-19 and other diseases.  It is worth this reminder that was posted by Red River schools:

Remember Bulldogs, one of the easiest ways to stop the spread of the Coronavirus is to wash your hands. The CDC recommends these five easy steps to washing your hands…
Keep those paws clean and have a great rest of the week!

Editor’s Note:  The grandkids sing “My A-B-Cs” twice to make sure they have washed long enough.

Blood Drive Update

The blood supply is still critically low in northwest Louisiana.  Lifeshare is scheduling blood drives around the area to receive donations.

The Lifeshare Bus will be at Martin Baptist Church Sunday September 27th from 9:00 am until Noon for their blood drive.

Martin Baptist Church sign up link:https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdxRFQnOwGL_oTswbdVMbQkyGyYi5TuZaa3h6WF7L4bgRLCEA/viewform

Riverdale Academy is having its Fall blood drive October 8 from 8:30a to 12:00p. The area’s blood supply is still needing your help to meet the hospital’s demand.

Riverdale sign up link:https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScDGTN447Wi2XfqLnLVt06hO1qD_ZmMNCuIFgIBN91fd-qNZQ/viewform

If you are able to donate blood or plasma, you may call Lifeshare or go online to schedule an appointment.

Your Lifeshare contact is Philip Maxfield.  Reach him at 318-935-9838.


ETC… for Friday, September 25th

Tryouts are today for boys wishing to play basketball on the Red River Junior High team.  They will be held in the high school gym from 4:00 to 6:00 pm.  Get there about 3:30 for temperature scans and wear a face mask.  You will also need proper shoes, gym shorts and a t-shirt.

Red River 4-H reminds students the Sate Fair BB gun Contest is October 31 in Shreveport.  It is for ALL youth, ages 9-19.  Details were posted on social media by Red River 4-H.

Today is the deadline to sign up for the ACT October testing cycle.  Test dates are October 10th, 17th, 24th and 25th.

The Spirit of Northwestern Marching Band may not be performing on Saturday nights this fall, but the band’s directors remain active working with students and raising the profile and reputation of the program.  Director of Bands Dr. Jeffrey C. Mathews was recently appointed Louisiana state chair for the National Band Association. The National Band Association is the largest professional organization for bands in the world. It was organized for the purpose of promoting the musical and educational significance of bands and is dedicated to the attainment of a high level of excellence for bands and band music.

Don’t forget to get your mums ordered from 4-H! They’ll be here the 2nd week of October. Call this week to make sure you can get your favorite colors!  Mums are $15.  The 4-H office number is 932-4342.

Plea Accepted in Slaying of Coushatta Man

A Ringgold man accused of a firearm murder in Red River Parish in 2017 has agreed to plead guilty to manslaughter, leaving his father facing related charges.

Daniel Waites, 37, faced second-degree murder charges in the shooting death of Earl Moore, 25, within the Red River Estate Apartments in Coushatta in 2017. Waites’ father, Carrel Waites, 63, was charged with principal to second-degree murder. The Waiteses were arrested on March 30, 2017.

Thursday, September 17, 2020, Red River Parish District Attorney Julie C. Jones and Assistant District Attorney George Winston III accepted a plea deal that allows Daniel Waites to plead guilty to manslaughter. Waites is scheduled to be sentenced in November, pending a sentencing hearing in which the Moore family will present victim impact statements. Judge John Robinson, appointed to the cases by the Louisiana Supreme Court, will sentence Daniel Waites to an agreed term of 20 to 40 years in prison.

Carrel Waites, who is free on a $1 million cash bond, is awaiting trial.

The original arrest report from the Red River Sheriff’s Office is pictured below.

Virus Decreases in Red River; Nursing Home Taking Visitors

The state health department is out with new figures on the percentage of people testing positive for the COVID-19 virus.  And the federal guidelines that shut down visitation at all nursing homes and adult long care facilities are easing.  The local nursing home is now allowing family members to visit residents, with some restrictions.

The Journal has three reports dealing with the impact on nursing homes and on facilities taking care of our veterans.  We begin with the changes in virus positivity here in Red River Parish.

The Tuesday report from Louisiana Department of Health shows a dramatic change in the percent of persons testing positive.  The rate of positive tests was at 14.7% the last week of August.  The rate dropped 40.82% during the week of September 3 through 9.  As of the most recent report 354 cases have been confirmed of 4,149 tests administered. 

The parish death count is at 21.  We have gone more than a week without an additional death attributed to the virus.

At Green Meadow Haven family members are now allowed to visit their relatives who reside there.  Administrator Gabe Reynolds told The Journal, “We are allowing one family member per visit and the visits are outside.  We will allow more family members on future visits.”

Reynolds said, “We will have to go 14 days with no new cases before we can offer inside visits.  We had no positives last week and we were tested today (Tuesday).  If those tests are all clear, we hope to meet the 14-day requirement by next week.”

To schedule a visit, family members are asked to call Pat Woodall for an appointment.  The number is 318-932-5202.

Easing Nursing Home Visitation Rules

Louisiana will move to quickly implement new guidance from the federal government easing restrictions on visits to nursing homes during the COVID pandemic, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Friday. 

The new guidance issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) late Thursday allows nursing homes to conduct outdoor visitation with social distancing. Nursing homes located in parishes with no more than 10 percent test positivity and without any new onset of COVID cases in the last 14 days can allow indoor visitation. CMS does recommend a number of mitigation measures, including that nursing homes limit how many visitors a resident can have at one time, as well as limiting the number of visitors that can be in the facility at once. The guidance also says face coverings, social distancing of at least six feet between people should be adhered to at all times and that all visitors must be screened for symptoms of COVID-19, including fever.

CMS imposed restrictions on nursing home visitation in March in an effort to control outbreaks of the coronavirus and protect one of our most vulnerable populations.  

“Recognizing the impact of isolation and the importance of connectedness, Louisiana’s Department of Health was slated to release details today of a nursing home visitation pilot in our state; instead, we will move quickly today to implement this new federal guidance,” Gov. Edwards said. “We know these past several months have been tough, especially for our nursing home residents and their loved ones. It’s time for us to do something. At the same time, we are still in the middle of a pandemic and these residents are among our most vulnerable. We all must do our part to make sure this new policy is successful. That means wearing our masks and staying six feet away from others, including when we visit our loved ones in nursing homes.” 

“I want to thank the Louisiana Department of Health and the Louisiana Nursing Home Association for their collaboration on this issue and the nursing homes across Louisiana that have worked to manage the health of their residents in a very difficult time.” 

To date, a total of 2,225 nursing home deaths have been identified in Louisiana. These deaths make up 43.4% of the all COVID-19-associated deaths in Louisiana. Nursing homes in Louisiana have reported more than 10,000 COVID-19 cases among residents and staff. Nearly every nursing home in the state has had at least one COVID-19 case among residents or staff.