Ready to Learn About CASA: Awareness Social set for April 19

CASA Awareness Social

 

Have you been hearing the word CASA recently? Do you know a CASA? Would you like to know more about how you can help CASA? Well, now you have the perfect chance! The Annual “CASA AWARENESS SOCIAL” is scheduled for Thursday, April 19 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Natchitoches.

Once a year, CASA of Central Louisiana presents a powerful program filled with a celebration of success stories, a silent auction, great food and fun and this year is even better – it has two former foster youth miracles telling their stories for all to hear!

The mission of CASA of Central Louisiana is to ensure that every child in foster care in Natchitoches, Red River and Sabine Parishes finds safe, permanent homes in which they can thrive as quickly as possible. CASA of Central Louisiana is a nonprofit organization created so the children in these parishes have a voice in court by educating and training competent Volunteer Advocates to appear on their behalf. CASA volunteers are the voice for abused and neglected children. The work is simply life changing for all involved!

Come join CASA on April 19 from 6-9 pm and learn about the organization. You will be moved and motivated to help once you hear from former CASA kids, advocates, legal representatives all while eating and sharing fellowship with a wonderful group of volunteers!

For more information about the event, call 318-238-2446. Tickets are available in advance or at the door. Visit CASA online at www.casanat.org or Text 2Help to 21000.

Help a child in need — When you give, you give an abused child a voice!

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More Storms Forecast Tonight

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Another round of severe storms, some possibly containing tornadoes, is forecast for a wide area, including Red River Parish. There will be a cold front moving through that may spawn storms, and the weather service says there is also the possibility of storm cells developing in advance of the front.

The Journal sat in on the local meeting of the Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Committee Thursday morning. Part of that meeting was a presentation by the National Weather Service. The weather service said, “Heavy rain and a flood potential may ramp up Friday afternoon and the threat will last from Friday evening to early Saturday morning.”

The weather service briefing also said, “The possibility for strong, long track tornadoes exists across a 4-state area served by the Shreveport weather service office. These may be worse in some areas than weather seen last Friday.” And the briefing added, “Cells will form during the day (Friday) ahead of the line (a cold front) and will be super cellular with a larger threat of producing tornadoes and hail.”

As you can see on the forecast map, Red River is included in the area of highest rainfall at four inches. We are also in the highest potential for severe storm and flash flood development.

The weather service briefing concluded, “This is a significant severe weather threat. The Storm Prediction Center is confident that this will develop in the northwest Louisiana area. The threat level may be upgraded further.” Note: The forecast is for a large area in orange on the map, not just for Red River Parish.

The meeting also discussed the storm that passed through on April 6th. Director of the parish Office of Emergency Preparedness, Shane Hubbard said, “If the storm path had not changed we could have had a mass casualty situation, if the storm had gone through the (Jones Street) housing projects.”

Representatives of various emergency agencies in the parish discussed the current level of preparedness. Sheriff Glen Edwards said, “I think our parish is better prepared than we have ever been. When the situation got worse (last Friday) our deputies came. And the city police and police jury employees reported to work.” Edwards added, “We have better equipment and more personnel than in the past.”

Theresa King from Christus Coushatta discussed the hospital’s readiness to deal with injuries in the event of a disaster. King said they have a back-up generator that powers the entire hospital. And she said their greatest challenge would be getting in touch with staff to call them in to work in the event electricity and phone service in the town were interrupted.
Late in the day Thursday Red River Parish Superintendent of Schools Alison Hughes sent out a notice to parents that the school day today may be cut short in the event severe weather develops. Here is the statement from Hughes:

“We have been alerted by the National Weather Service that there will be severe storms moving into our area tomorrow midday which could possibly produce tornadoes and damaging winds. I will be working with the Department of Homeland Security throughout the evening to determine if it will be necessary to dismiss school early to avoid any danger for our students. I will have more information tomorrow morning and will make a decision at the earliest possible time about school dismissal. In the event that it is necessary to dismiss school early, we will send out another message to ensure that you are duly informed.”

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Softball Team Headed to the Playoffs

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Red River High’s Lady Bulldogs are headed to the playoffs. Brackets released Thursday by the LHSAA seeds Red River number 32 in class 2-A.

The Journal talked to Coach Zachary Thrasher after their final regular season game on Tuesday. He said they were looking forward to a playoff slot. “The season is over but we’re going to be at practice tomorrow,” said Thrasher.

The Lady Bulldogs first playoff game will be in Many. Coach Thrasher posted Thursday night that the game would be played Monday afternoon at 4:00 pm. The Many Lady Tigers finished their season as the number one seed in class 2-A.

Following the game on Tuesday evening, the seniors were recognized. There are three members of the team graduating this year. A fourth teammate is a foreign exchange student from Sweden and she will be returning home at the end of the school year.

Those recognized were number 4 Sierra Ochoa, number 8 Tiana Rock, number 9 Siri Karjalainen, and number 21 Karla Asaworth. Ochoa has played since a freshman. The ladies were presented gifts, balloons, and other tokens of appreciation for their hard work. And all team members and coaches enjoyed lots of pizza in front of their home team dugout.

HEART Team at Health Fair

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Coushatta’s Community Health Fair is coming April 26th presented by the Red River Council on Aging. This spring the MLK Health Center and Pharmacy is joining the council to provide valuable health information to the community.

The MLK Health Center’s HEART Team or Health Education Awareness Response Team will provide B.M.I. or Body Mass Index tests. The BMI is a simple test to determine if a person is underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese based on their height/weight ratio.

One of the major health problems facing many residents of Red River Parish is obesity. The HEART Team will have their registered dietitian at the health fair to provide educational counseling on obesity.

The HEART Program is here to help you get healthy and stay healthy. Join the HEART Team at the Community Health Fair April 26th. The hours are 8:30 am to noon. The health fair will be held at the Council On Aging at 1824 Front Street. The HEART Team reminds you “together we can build healthier communities.”

Mark your calendar for Thursday April 26th. The Community Health Fair will be held from 8:30 am until noon.

Painting Day May 5th

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The buildings on Front Street are getting a new coat of paint. Coushatta Mayor Johnny Cox announced at Town Council meeting Tuesday night that May 5th will be painting day.

The mayor said that property owners will select their own color. Cox said, “The town didn’t have to put any money into this project. We’re getting assistance from United Way, the Chamber and Tourism programs. And I will allocate several of my pay checks as mayor to the project.”

Also planned is a cleaning of the bricks and sidewalks. Mayor Cox thanked the council for their help. He said it is an ongoing community effort to refurbish Front Street.

Coushatta Man Charged with Rape of 11 Year Old Boy

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Coushatta resident Joseph Hull faces first degree rape charges in Natchitoches. He is being held in the Natchitoches Detention Center along with Michael Anthony Wills of Powhatan. Wills faces similar charges.

The Natchitoches Police Department’s, Criminal Investigations Division obtained information from a concerned citizen which led to the arrest of Michael Anthony Willis, black male, 36 years of age, of 337 Railroad St. in Powhatan. Willis was booked on one count of (Felony) 1st Degree Rape and transported out to the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center where he is currently awaiting a bond.

Willis’ arrest was the result of a complaint the Natchitoches Police Department received on March 22 in which a female subject reported to the Natchitoches Police Department that a 20-year-old white male, Joseph Hull and a 36-year-old black male, Michael Willis had raped her 11-year-old, juvenile, son.

The Natchitoches Police Department’s, Criminal Investigations Division was then alerted and responded. Detectives later gathered evidence which led to the arrest of Joseph L. Hull, white male, 20 years of age, of 100 Rolling Hills Loop in Coushatta. Hull was arrested and booked on one count of (Felony) 1st Degree Rape. Hull was later transported to the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center where a bond was later set at $500,000.

Art Contest Winners

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Three students from Red River schools were recognized for their entries I the Louisiana School Boards Association Artwork Contest. Superintendent Alison Hughes recognized them at the school board meeting this week. Hughes says they competed with students from across the state.

Forth grade student Kinya Gray represented Red River Elementary School and eighth grader Terry Jefferson represented Red River Junior High School. They presented their art to the school board. They were presented certificates of recognition. The representative of Red River High School is tenth grader Mallory Coleman. That certificate will be presented later.

ETC… for April 13th

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Don’t put your coats away just yet. The weather service is predicting more cold weather will follow expected heavy rain and storms that move through as our weekend gets underway. The cold snap is expected to be short lived.

Trey Lewis at the Red River Parish Library asked the Journal to pass along that Linette Culpepper, the SNAP Outreach Coordinator will be at the Library on April 27th. She will be there from 1:00 to 2:30 pm to offer assistance with applications, redeterminations, simplified report and budget sheets in connection with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

National Recognition is coming to Red River Elementary School. Principal Shenell Deville was at the school board meeting Monday night to discuss the school being named a “Capturing Kids Hearts National Showcase School.” A reduction in discipline referrals, an approval in attendance, and improvement in academics are among notable improvements. Superintendent Alison Hughes noted that Red River Elementary is the only school in the state of Louisiana to get this award.

Do you have family or friends who have Red River roots but no longer live in the parish. Send them a subscription to The Red River Parish Journal. It is FREE. All you have to do is go to our website www.RedRiverParishJournal.com and click the “subscribe” button then fill out their information. We will send The Journal to their email every Wednesday and Friday mornings at 5:55 am.

Tornado Blows Through Friday Night

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Friday afternoon was capped with storms across a wide swath of East Texas, Louisiana and into Mississippi. There were numerous watches and warnings issued by the weather service office in Shreveport. The storms came to Red River Parish after dark amid rain, high winds and some reports of hail.

At 7:11 pm a Tornado Warning was issued for most of Red River Parish. A few minutes later, at 7:26 pm the Tornado Warning was posted for Hall Summit and areas north in the parish. At 7:41 pm the weather service updated its Tornado Warning to say that people in the Coushatta, Hana, Edgefield and Evelyn areas should Take Shelter now. The warning stated, “We have a debris signature.”

These pictures tell the story of an F2 tornado that swept along a path from the hills on US 371 west, missing the ADA plant, grazing the service station at Armistead, and destroying a couple of buildings at the concrete plant along US 84. The tornado then crossed through the Lester Farm, jumped the Red River and touched down along Clark Street. It then touched down on US 71 & 84 across from the Esperanza Road before moving through the Springville community.

There were a few anxious minutes Friday night. An elderly couple were trapped in their home in Springville. A tree uprooted by the tornado fell on their house. They were trapped inside until rescued by law enforcement officers. Coushatta Police Chief Stafford reported to the Town Council on Tuesday night that the tornado had been an F2 storm 4 miles wide, with winds of 129 miles an hour. Stafford and Mayor Johnny Cox thanked citizens who joined the effort to clear streets and neighborhoods of downed trees and debris after the storm passed.

A large number of trees were snapped and twisted. Many were uprooted. The Red Cross Executive Director for northwest Louisiana surveyed the damage on Saturday. Michelle Davison described the scene for The Journal. “There is an awful lot of damage. I have been with the Red Cross for 22 years and I don’t think I have seen a tornado that felled so many trees and missed so many structures. There were no injuries or loss of life,” said Davison.

More of the Damage From the Tornado

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While Red River Parish residents took shelter Friday night in the midst of strong storms and numerous weather service warnings, we were pounded by hail, rain and strong winds. Area residents took the storm very seriously when the weather service warning said to take shelter, there is a debris signature on radar.

Along the path of a tornado that touched down in the parish there was a trail of destruction several miles long. Sheds, signs, power lines and many trees fell victim to the storm. Thankfully there was little heavy damaged, compared to the severity of the storm. And there were no injuries or loss of life.

These photos tell the story of Mother Nature at her worst.