Record Early Voting Turnout

Red River voters took part in early voting in record numbers.  Twenty-six percent of the registered voters cast ballots in person over the past ten days.

“It was a good ten days,” said Registrar of Voters Debra Jones, “It has gone very well.  My staff was a little tired from ten days of 12 hours each, but we were fired up today, the last day of early voting.”  The slowest day saw 116 people vote.  Early voting ended on a strong note with 255 people coming to vote on Tuesday.

When The Journal went by late Tuesday, Jones was entering voter information at her desk.  Staff members were checking in voters and assisting them to the voting stations.  They also took care of sanitizing the area between voters to assure their safety.

In addition to the record turnout, Jones said several hundred new voters had registered in the past few months.  Jones said, “We are up to 5936 registered voters.  The rolls had dropped down to near 5,000 in the recent past.  And many of the newly registered voters turned out and cast their ballots during early voting.”

Jones was thankful for all who had made early voting a success.  She thanked Sheriff Glen Edwards for loaning them the old fire station.  Jones said, “It was a much larger space with room for everyone.  We had three voting stations.  And it was especially good for people with physical challenges.”

The final count, after the polls closed Tuesday night, showed that 1546 people voted in person.    That is an increase of 300+ voters compared to the 1203 who voted early in the 2016 Presidential election.

Services Set For Shooting Victim

Red River High School will be the site Saturday of a homegoing celebration for Kier Jackson.  He died last Wednesday of gunshot wound suffered during a neighborhood basketball game.

A balloon release was held Saturday night in Kier Jackson’s neighborhood, where the shooting took place.  Friends and neighbors gathered.  Many spoke of the promising young man whose life was ended.  And a local minister admonished parents to do a better job of keeping up with their kids to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Large blue mylar balloons spelling K-I-E-R along with dozens of red balloons were released as the gathering ended.

The sheriff’s department continues to investigate the shooting.  Chief Deputy Greg Moore told The Journal on Tuesday that they are still investigating what happened and there was no more information that they could make public at this time.  Earlier the department confirmed the shooting but did not say if it was accidental.

Services for Kier Jackson will be held at Red River High, where he was scheduled to graduate next spring.  There will be visitation from 9:00 until 11:00 am.  The Funeral service begins at 11:00.

Photo courtesy of Reporter Timmy Lane

Trick or Treat at Stevens Tractor

Toy Story – That’s our theme this year… Kids can also get their picture taken with characters if they’d like.  The staff of Stevens Tractor invites children to enjoy Trick or Treat in a safe, friendly environment.  Come Trick or Treat on Friday, October 30th from 11:00 am until 5:00 pm.

Owner Tanya Cormier said, “Since COVID-19 has hindered the children of Red River Parish to go out trick or treating, we thought it’d be fun to have a safe, fun event here at Stevens Tractor for kids to come for candy. I would like to encourage other business to participate.”

Stephanie Heiken, their Graphic Designer said, “We will be practicing safety by wearing our masks and disinfecting after every child.  However, If kids would like to take photos, we can take off our masks (depending on the circumstance and the child). 

Stevens Tractor is located about five miles north of Coushatta on US 71.


Bulldogs Bite Tigers at Homecoming.

By Hayley Loe with photos by Gracie Price

Friday, October 23rd, the Red River Bulldogs whipped the Winnfield Tigers 28-7. The touchdowns of the night were scored by Stanley Maxie #4 and Jonnie Maxie #7, with all of the extra points being kicked by Ryder Hogan #36. 

First score, pictured above, is Stanley Maxie completing a two-yard run to put the ball in the endzone and put the Bulldogs on the scoreboard first.  Also in the first quarter, his brother Johnny Maxie scored on a 20 yard play.  Ryder Hogan made both extra points.

In the third quarter, Stanley Maxie scored again on a 28-yard carry for the Dogs third score.  Stanley’s hat trick came in the final quarter on a 10-yard run for another TD.  Winnfield scored once on a 30 yard run by Colton Mathis.

Final score was Red River 28 and Winnfield 21.  Red River went to 4 and 1 overall and 2 and 1 in district play.  

Along with the game Friday night, the RRHS Homecoming Court was presented at halftime.  Arianna Johnson was crowned Homecoming Queen and the Homecoming King was BJ Palmer for the 2020/2021 school year.

Friday, October 30th the Red River Bulldogs will play their last home game against Holy Savior Menard. This game will also be senior night for the RRHS Bulldogs.

The school announced Tuesday that all tickets for the Menard game have been sold.  Also there will be no tickets sold at the gate.  Journal Sports will stream the game live beginning at 6:45 pm.

Homecoming Royalty

The 2020 Homecoming Court was presented at half time last Friday night.  Sports photographer Gracie Price took some great pictures as the ladies and their escorts were announced at half time.

Above is Homecoming Queen Arianna Johnson escorted by Homecoming King B.J. Palmer.  Johnson was surprised when announced as queen after all members of the court had been presented.

Here is a photo album of the maids and sweethearts.


Riverdale Gets Huge Win in Mississippi

By Molly Seales with photos by Kelly Azlin

On Friday October 23, the Riverdale Rebels traveled to Mississippi to play the Mississippi School of the Deaf at their homecoming game.  The Rebels took the win with the final score of  62 to 0. 

As always, the offense played their hardest and it showed in this game.  Paul Messenger had 6 carries for 98 yards and 3 touchdowns.  Brennan Edie had 3 carries for 119 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Kyle Guillory had 6 carries for 49 yards. Ty Jones had 2 carries for 33 yards and 1 touchdown.  Witt Almond was 2/2 in passing, passing for 73 yards and 2 touchdowns. Receiving the ball was Witt’s cousin Parker Almond who had 2 receptions for 73 yards for 2 touchdowns.

Riverdale’s defense is also looking good going into the playoffs.  Parker Almond had 1 solo tackle and 1 assist (2 TFL).  Parker also had 1 fumble recovery.  Paul Messenger had 1 solo tackle and 5 assists.  Jake Messenger showed that he was out there to play defense obtaining 7 solo tackles and having 4 assists. Kyle Guillory had 2 solo tackles and 2 assists.  Ryder Huddleston also was not playing around whenever it came to defense by having 2 solo tackles and 7 assists (4 TFL).  Ryder also had 1 interception.  Ty Jones had 1 solo tackle and 4 assists (1 TFL).  James Wagoner had 4 assists (1 TFL).  Brennan Edie had 3 solo tackles (2 TFL) and 1 fumble recovery.  Denver Williams had 1 solo tackle and 5 assists (2 TFL).  Jaxon Gates had 1 solo tackle.  Tyler Parker had 1 solo tackle and 4 assists.  Hayden Hillman had 1 solo tackle and 3 assists. 7th grader Ashton Almond was allowed to play in his first varsity game this year since we didn’t play a MAIS team and had 1 assist.  The defense held Mississippi to 0/5 in passing with 0 yards and 1 interception.  Mississippi had only 87 yards for the game.

Riverdale is now 7-3 on the season and got the #3 seed based on power point rankings.  This earned them a bye for the first week of playoffs.  They are working hard for their next game, a home playoff game on November 6 against the winner of Delta Streets and Hebron Christian.  Come out and support the Rebels on the 6th or follow the game live on Journal Sports.

Quilts of Valor

Quilts were presented to three veterans last Friday at the high school.  The State Coordinator for Quilts of Valor, Gayla Boyd was assisted by Rhonda Lenain and Debbie Edwards in making the presentations to two members of the high school staff and one member of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary.  The quilts are handmade by members of Quilts of Valor.

Recipients of the quilts were Billy Henry, Sr., his son Billy Lee Henry, and Susanne Wastlund.  The Henrys were in the Marine Corps and the Air Force.  Wastlund served in the Navy.  Billy Henry, Sr. is a member of VFW Post 7287 and Wastlund is a member of Auxiliary 7287.

The High School issued a statement on the event:  On Friday, October 23rd, 2020, two of our special education teachers, Billy Henry, Sr., and Billy Henry, Jr., were honored by the Quilt of Valor Foundation in front of the school. Billy Henry, Sr.’s son, Joshua, was also honored posthumously. The Henry family’s military service stretches over 100 years. The three have served in the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force and have all been “touched by war”. Red River High School is extremely blessed to have these men on our campus, and we are grateful and excited to honor those who have served and are still serving. It is truly a blessing to bring back our men and women in service and then have them decide to teach our children. Their experiences and values offer life lessons that students may not get anywhere else. We love them, honor them, and are truly blessed to have them teaching at Red River High School. Thank you to the entire Henry family who have dedicated their lives to serving and protecting others.

Billy Henry, Sr. said, “I thank God and thank all of you for your support.  I give God the praise and thank Quilts of Valor for these special gifts that we will cherish.”

Wastlund said, “To have this is a true blessing.  Thank you for the quilt and the pillow case.”

A Fake Farce

By Brad Dison

On the morning of February 20, 2005, Mike Bolesta and his son Christopher visited a Best Buy in Lutherville, Maryland, about twenty minutes north of Baltimore.  They were shopping for a cd player for Christopher’s car.  The carefully considered the pros and cons of each model until they finally decided on just the right one.  The technician assured Mike that the cd player would fit perfectly in Christopher’s dashboard without any alterations.  Mike agreed to pay a $114 installation fee in addition to the cd player once it was installed.  After a while, the technician returned with bad news.  The cd player would not fit but Best Buy had another model which would fit, and it was $67 cheaper.  Mike and Christopher were disappointed, but the technician’s offer to waive the $114 installation fee was too good to pass up.  Mike had the technician install the cd player.  After the technician completed the installation, Mike paid the cashier for the cd player and said he would be glad to pay the installation fee.  The cashier was aware of the technician’s offer and did not charge him for installation.  Mike and Christopher left the store pleased with their purchase.

As the old saying goes, “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”  The following day, a representative from Best Buy called Mike and threatened to call the police unless he returns to the store and pays the $114 installation fee.  Mike mentioned that the technician had waived the installation fee because of their inability to install the cd player they had originally chosen.  The Best Buy representative stood his ground.  Mike agreed to come in the following day to settle up.

On the following day, Mike returned to the Best Buy to pay the installation fee.  He handed the cashier $114 in cash.  The cashier noticed that some of the ink on the bills was smeared.  She suspected the bills were counterfeit.  She pointed out the smearing to Mike and said, “I don’t have to take these if I don’t want to.”  Mike replied, “If you don’t, I’m leaving.  I’ve tried to pay my bill twice.  You don’t want these bills, you can sue me.”   The cashier took the money and checked each of them with an anticounterfeit pen.  The ink showed that the bills were real but the cashier was still uncertain.  Other employees became curious and inspected the bills.  “Are these real?” they asked.  “Of course, they are,” Mike contended, “They’re legal tender.”  They too suspected the bills were counterfeit.  One of the employees discreetly called the police.    

Within minutes, police arrived and inspected the bills.  One officer noticed that, in addition to the smearing, the bills ran in sequential order.  One of the officers asked where he got the bills and Mike replied that he got them from his bank.  “You got a problem, call the bank.”  By this time, all of the customers and employees in the area were gawking at Mike.  He later said, “I am 6 feet 5 inches tall, and I felt like 8 inches high.  It was humiliating.”  Like the Best Buy employees, the officers concluded that the money was counterfeit.  One of the officers handcuffed Mike and told him, “We have to do this until we get it straightened out.”  Mike retorted, “I can’t believe you’re doing this.  I’m paying with legal American money.”  The officers were unyielding.

One of the officers transported him to the county police lockup in Cockeysville, about 10 minutes north of the Best Buy.  They walked Mike into a jail cell which had a metal pole attached to the floor and ceiling in the center of the room.  Next to the pole was a single chair.  An officer sat Mike in the chair and uncuffed one hand.  Mike assumed he would remove the handcuffs.  Instead, the officer handcuffed Mike to the pole.  Mike was even more shocked when the officer shackled his legs to the pole.  Mike said, “at this point, I’m a mass murderer.”  Mike sat and waited.

Three hours after being handcuffed and shackled to the pole, United States Secret Service agent Leigh Turner arrived at the jail.  She examined each bill for size, thickness, weight, tested the paper’s ink, and paid close attention to the sequential numbers.  She concluded that the bills were absolutely real, legitimate American currency.  She had the final say in the matter.  In her report, agent Turner noted that “sometimes ink on money can smear.”  Officers released Mike and apologized for the inconvenience.

A few days later, Mike’s son asked him for some money.  Mike pulled his wallet from his back pocket and pulled out a few bills.  Mike’s son suddenly remembered the story of Mike being arrested and decided that he no longer needed the money.  Why were the Best Buy employees and officers confused about Mike’s form of payment?  Why was he arrested?  Mike paid the cashier the $114 cd player installation fee in fifty-seven crisp, real… $2 bills.     


The Baltimore Sun, March 8, 2005, p.B1.

A Tale of Two Americas

By Royal Alexander

This election provides us with a choice as profound as it is clear: do we want America to remain America?

Do we wish to remain a nation that is governed by a constitution and adheres to a rule of law? Should we fight for and cling to the numerous, and rare, individual rights and liberties guaranteed to us; Do we continue to protect freedom of speech and freedom of religion and religious expression; do we really believe in the 2nd Amendment and the individual right to keep and bear arms; do we still believe that our life, liberty and property cannot be denied us without due process of law—while we are presumed innocent.

Should we citizens defer to government, or is government supposed to be responsive to us; do we preserve a limited federal government with specific, enumerated powers that governs only with our consent, or a socialist model of the kind we’ve seen fail throughout history in so many places; do we believe we know best how to run—and are better at running—our lives, as well as our families and our children’s lives than the government is, or do we cede those rights of self-determination to government bureaucrats, social engineers and the ever-encroaching tentacles of the “nanny” state.

Should we pay exorbitantly higher taxes to the federal government—a government that cannot even fully block robocalls—because if we do it will somehow be able to control the warming and cooling of the earth; do we allow abortion on demand, along with the violation of conscience entailed in using the tax dollars of we who are deeply opposed to the barbaric procedure, to pay for them; do we want a vigorous oil and gas industry—even as we continue to move toward renewable energy sources—so that we are not foolishly reliant on oil from hostile foreign governments. 

Do we believe that massive new taxes, regulation and a restricted, managed form of capitalism are necessary to provide our best life and society, or do we wish for a vibrant free-market economy where we may pursue our dreams of small business ownership; do we want the public schools to educate our children, or to indoctrinate them.

Do we want the best, highest-quality health care in the world, or do we turn the critical provision of health care over to government agencies and bureaucrats who are often more concerned with limiting and rationing care than with whether we are healed and cured; do we want to live under a government—as we’ve graphically witnessed this year—that defunds the police and tacitly condones violence, looting and destruction of property, or do we desire a society that is based upon law and order and a democratic process through which to seek lasting social change.  

Do we seek a society filled with free and robust speech, press, petition and peaceful assembly, or the kind of country in which Political Correctness and Groupthink get us shouted down and cowed by threats of one kind or another when we seek to express the truth and our beliefs in relation to it.

We repudiated and defeated communism in the last century.  It’s precursor, Socialism, is also a dark and hopeless ideology.  Today, desperate, freedom-seeking people all over the world continue to perilously strap themselves and their families onto “boats” consisting of broken boards and logs, buoyed by empty plastic milk jugs, risking their lives in the hope of reaching America.  They are fleeing Socialism.  Why would we even conceive of granting it a stronghold here?

Do we desire a country in which elites rule, or one in which any child, of any faith, background or upbringing may grow up to be president, or anything else they dream of, pray and work for?

Do we seek a society based upon “critical race theory” that has as its foundation the belief that every societal flaw stems from American sexism, racism or some other form of prejudice or “systemic bias”; or, one in which were are judged not “by the color of our skin but by the content of our character”? 

Do we want an admittedly imperfect country that never stops seeking to improve itself, or one in which social and cultural change is impossible because the ruling elite—our “government”—has arrogantly assumed it “knows better” than we, the unenlightened, the rubes, deplorables, or  “maggots” as Keith Olbermann said about Trump supporters.

We should pray and vote to have America remain America.

Softball Tryouts at Junior High

Softball Coach Cymantha Smelser is holding Softball tryouts November 9th and 10th (Monday & Tuesday) at the RRHS Girls softball field.  Time is 3:30-4:45.

All girls trying out MUST have a softball glove, tennis shoes or cleats (non-metal), water bottle, and proper dressing attire (shirt and shorts). All girls should arrive at the softball field dressed out and ready to tryout. To attend tryouts the student also have all paperwork and physical completed. 

All tryouts are closed. Only coaches and girls who are trying out are allowed at the field. 

We will be checking temperatures and maintain our social distancing during these tryouts. 

Please contact Junior High Head Coach Cymantha Smelser or High School Head Coach Zachary Thrasher if you have  any questions

Coach Smelser graduated from Ouachita Parish High School in 2009 and attended University of Louisiana at Monroe(ULM). While at Ouachita Parish, she played varsity softball where she pitched and played second base. She chose to not continue her softball career after high school because she wanted to start coaching. She is married to Jared Smelser (Riverdale Head Football Coach). 

She didn’t waste any time getting her coaching career started.  In 2009 white attending ULM she was the softball student coach, under the guidance of Head Coach Chris Eubanks, and Soccer student coach, under the guidance of Steven Dickman, at Ouachita Parish Junior High, as well as an assistant to a 10u travel softball team from 2009 – 2011. She was the student coach at Ouachita Parish High School, under the guidance of Head Coach Tim Whitman, from 2011 – 2015. From 2009 – 2016, she coached several rec league teams and took one little league team to the World Series in Delaware. In 2015, after graduating from ULM, she went back to Ouachita Parish Junior High School to teach and coach softball, under the guidance of Head Coach Chris Eubanks. In 2016, she took over as the head softball coach at Ouachita Parish Junior High School. In 2017, she transferred to East Ouachita Middle School (the sister school to Ouachita Parish Junior High School), where she was the head softball coach and the head soccer coach until she recently moved to Red River. She will be the Red River Junior High School head softball coach and Red River High School pitching coach. 

Smelser said “I enjoy challenging and pushing the kids beyond their comfort zone. Doing this takes their confidence to the next level. We may not be the best team on the field all the time, but when we take the field, we will think we are the best team! Confidence is everything!”