Derailment at Keatchie

About 10:30 pm last Friday night multiple rail cars went off the track in Keatchie.  Hazardous materials spilled.  Evacuations were ordered within a mile, later expanded to a mile and a half.

Law enforcement went door to door telling residents to get out of the area.  Numerous updates were published by the sheriff’s department to inform residents of the situation

Saturday night an update was issued providing more information.  Here is that update:

“It is important to note that all leaks from the two train cars in question have been stopped. The primary area of impact has been: How much was spilled, what impact it could have on the public/environment and cleaning up the spill. Air quality has been monitored throughout last night and day today. Levels detected earlier in the day were low in comparison to what is considered “action level” or in laymen’s terms deemed a serious concern. As of 6PM there remains no detection or concerns outside of the main impact area.”

Highway 5 and other roads had been closed shortly after evacuation orders were issued.  The reopening was posted January 29, 2023 at 11:00:58 AM CST

“As of 11am today (Jan 29) all of La Hwy 5 will return to normal traffic, including the section between Keatchie and Kickapoo. The evacuation has been lifted except for Depot Rd.  There are no other road closures to report.”

Seeking the cause of the derailment and site cleanup continue.

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Fun Day for Seniors

By LaBetha Casey

The quarterly Senior Fun Day sponsored by the DeSoto Parish Council on Aging and the DeSoto Parish Sheriff’s Office was back in full swing Wednesday, January 25, after being restricted from activities for the past couple of years.  The event was held at the DPSO Training Facility near Grand Cane.  There were about 80 in attendance besides vendors and sponsors.  This number was down from the usual number of just more than a hundred who attended the fun days in the past. 

Among the speakers was Tiffany Lafall with DPCOA who gave information about influenza, RSV, and COVID.  Then Laura Gauthier, LPC, who is the program director for  Alzheimer’s & Dementia Resource Center with The Bridge in Shreveport, shared information about their organization.  There are about 6 million persons in the United States who are affected with memory issues, and 85,000 live within 75 miles of Shreveport.  Because of donations and grants, they are able to provide free services for not only the patients but for the caregivers.  Included among the services offered by The Bridge are memory screening, counseling, workshops for caregivers and activities for the patients.  At present there are ten caregiver support groups and hopefully twice that many groups will be available by the end of the year.  Their office serves persons in several parishes in the Shreveport area.

Brian Williams, who is the training officer for DeSoto Parish Fire District #8, stated that their fire district responded to about 1700 calls in 2022. The other fire districts in the parish have also had an increase in calls. Among the calls were fires related to citizens using their stove for keeping warm during cold weather.  Open flames that could catch other items on fire, and carbon monoxide poisoning are among risks.  Free smoke alarms are available through state funds to those who can’t afford them.  Whether one buys their own smoke detectors or acquires them from the fire department, the fire department personnel are available to properly install them in homes.  Other warnings given were against plugging heavy duty appliances and even electric heaters into power strips which could overheat and catch fire.  Also, charging cell phones while in bed could cause an explosive fire if the lithium battery were to overheat and explode.

DPSO Public Relations Deputy, Mark Pierce, explained the phone app available with the sheriff’s office and offered to help the seniors download this app onto their phones.  The app offers information such as severe weather alerts, road closures from accidents or storms, and alerts for missing children among other helpful information related to the sheriff’s office.

Matthew McKee, who is a representative from Congressman Mike Johnson’s office, advised the fun day attendees that they could contact the congressman’s office for help in resolving issues with federal government agencies.

Richard Fuller gave an inspirational message and a lively presentation using puppets with some songs.

Scattered through the morning, door prizes were awarded, and prizes were given for the winners of bingo and other games.  Handouts and other freebies were made available by the vendors in attendance.

At the end of the activities, a tasty lunch was provided by DPSO.  Roast beef, chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls, macaroni and cheese, various desserts, tea and lemonade were on the menu.

Photo credit DeSoto Sheriffs social media

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Police Jury – Sandbags Available

From Michael Norton, Parish Administrator

Due to the recent rains and in anticipation of any further weather activity, sandbags are available to DeSoto Parish residents at the Police Jury road department located at 424 Liberty Lane, Grand Cane, LA 71032. Each household will be limited to 20 sandbags. Identification as a resident will be required as there is a limited number of sandbags available. 

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Where were you when we seemed Lost in Space? 

By Teddy Allen  

Nationally shared moments come along and you’re pretty sure that you, along with a good chunk of humanity, will remember where you were When You Heard Something Had Happened.  

It was (an impossible, it seems) 37 years ago last Friday — January 28, 1986 — that the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster happened, 46,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida Coast at Cape Canaveral. It was 10:30 CST, a cold-for-Florida (36 degrees) and clear Tuesday, and classrooms across America, maybe the world, were tuned in because this mission carried Christa McAuliffe, a social studies teacher from New Hampshire and the first teacher in space.  

So millions at the same time were trying to process what they were seeing when Challengerbasically exploded just more than a minute after takeoff, everyone on the ground looking up and so many more looking at televisions that seemed to show a giant white expanding ginger root punching in different directions through the bright blue sky.  

Where were you that morning? 

I asked a new friend named Dan that this weekend — he was on a service call and hooking a piece of equipment to my television to transform it from a Dumb TV to a Smart TV — and he looked at me liked I’d asked him where he was during the Battle of the Bulge. “I wasn’t born yet,” he said. 

Oh. Yeah … Well … 

I asked him if he could hook a piece of equipment to me to turn me from Dumb to Smart. 

“I wish,” he said. 


Dude’s like 26, or my age when the Challenger Disaster happened. I was one of the last Americans to know, is probably why I remember so well. I’d worked really late as usual at the newspaper, stumbled into 222 Lake Street in Shreveport a couple hours after noon. Lots of Space Shuttle news on the televisions, I thought. And then … Ohhhhhh… 

Terrible day. 

The tragedy’s cause — excuse this over-simplification — was that these things called O-Rings hadn’t properly sealed, due to their imperfections and the cold weather, and gas had escaped and there you go. 

Awful. And yes, a lot of people got in trouble. 

Now, this next one, more of you can get in on the Where Were You? game, (even young Dan).  

It was 20 years ago — February 1, 2003 — that a space tragedy happened much closer to home when the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated as it reentered the atmosphere over East Texas and, well, over us. The crew of seven was lost. A piece of foam that broke off during ascent and hit and damaged the thermal protection system tiles on the shuttle’s left wing was the cause of the disaster when the spacecraft tried to return home. 


February 1, 2003 was a Saturday, another gorgeous winter day, clear skies. I went the paper about 8:30 to do a little work. Just tie up some loose ends. (I was conscientious back then.) Had a tee time at 10:30. Perfect day. 

Until it wasn’t. 

The disaster began to unfold around 8 a.m. our time, but the Internet and all that was a thing still getting its footing. When I walked in, a couple of friends were already working on rumors. We had one computer that was hooked to the Internet — and NOT the Internet you know today. 

All the TVs were on but things were still sketchy. Hard to believe 20 years later that the world then did not have instant information but … it didn’t.  

Compared to now, it was archaic. But the feelings were the same. The finding out. The discoveries. The slow unfolding. Talking to people who had found things that had fallen from the sky.  

Head-shaking day. 

You remember? Remember where you were? 

Long day and heartsick. Hope today is memorable, but for much better reasons.  

Contact Teddy at or Twitter @MamaLuvsManning

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Coroner Comes to Coffee

DeSoto’s newly appointed Coroner, Dr. Stacey Henderson, came to coffee to meet the group.  She currently is an Emergency Room Doctor at LSU in Shreveport and is looking forward to exploring this different side of medicine.  Her official election will be held in March and the main election is on November’s ballot.  She is going to be a great asset to DeSoto Parish and is looking forward to modernizing the department and making it more internet accessible.  Dr. Henderson is the Wife of our local popular Veterinarian, Dr. Neil Henderson, and Mother of 4 children.  Dr. Henderson is pictured flanked by coffee group members Dudley Glenn (retired Farm Bureau Agent) on the left and Asst. D.A. Lisa Lobrano Bursen (candidate for Clerk of Court) on the right in the Mansfield Female College Museum’s Genealogy Library where the coffee group meets for breakfast on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  If any other candidates would like to stop by and talk with the group mark those mornings from 7 to 9-ish. 

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Mansfield Lions Club

The guest speaker at the Lions Club last week was Ronald “Bubba” Fletcher the Executive Director of Think First of the Ark-La-Tex.  Since 1996 they have been trying to teach youth and young adults about actions they can take to prevent injuries.  He spoke to the group about the importance of not driving under the influence or while distracted.  He delivered his poignant message from a wheelchair and detailed his own personal tragedy caused by distracted driving. 

Fellow Lion, Judge Nick Gaspar, noted that DeSoto Parish has had three recent fatal crashes that were the direct result of distracted driving.  Almost everyone at the luncheon knew or had been affected by these types of accidents.  There was a big lump in everyone’s throat before the presentation ended.  You can reach Bubba at

The Lions meet every second and fourth Tuesday for a catered lunch at the Clista A. Calhoun Center.  The next meeting will be on February 14 at noon, and you are welcome to come by.

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The Sky’s the Limit on Our $31.4 Trillion National Debt as Debt Ceiling Fight Looms

By Royal Alexander

Reckless borrowing and spending are what got us into this fiscal mess and more of the same won’t get us out.

 There is no sense in pointing fingers because both national parties have participated in the fiscal irresponsibility that has gotten us to this point.

However, now our nation’s leaders are going to have to stop kicking the can down the road and actually address this critical economic and national security issue.

Where are we?

Right now, our national debt is approximately $31.4 trillion.  The interest payment alone to support this monumental debt is $400 billion annually out of the American economy.  That’s merely to service the debt!   None of the principal is being paid down.  And this debt, which used to be justified with the feeble explanation that the debt “is just money we (U.S.) owe ourselves” is no longer true.   If we stay on the path we are on now, by the early 2030s a majority of these interest payments will be annually transferred to foreign debt holders.

As E.J. Antoni at the Heritage Foundation notes, these “exploding annual deficits and debt are the direct result of runaway spending by a profligate Congress and president with no regard for Americans’ financial security.”

He makes another critical point as well—“just to emphasize that the burgeoning debt is a spending problem and not a revenue problem, tax receipts are at a record high by any measure—in nominal terms, in real terms and as a percentage of gross domestic product.  The government has never collected more money, but is still managing to spend it all, and then some.” (Emphasis added).

That’s insane governmental malpractice, but that’s not all.

President Biden has demanded a “clean” debt ceiling increase with no conditions or requirements attached.  That’s mind boggling.  It’s also reckless and will increase, not lessen, as Biden claims, the economic pain of average Americans.

Every time we raise the debt ceiling, and an enormous gusher of new debt dollars pours into our national economy, we are increasing the level of inflation because way too many dollars are chasing way too few goods.

 However, as Daniel Heninger of the Wall Street Journal notes, this time the debt ceiling debate is different. 

“The pandemic put the federal government inside everyone’s head, and what the government did was spend, spend, spend, money, money, money. These spending rivers included a bipartisan Covid-relief bill of $2.2 trillion; the American Rescue Plan’s $1.9 trillion, and then a bipartisan infrastructure bill of $1 trillion. Mr. Biden’s 2023 budget proposal was for $5.7 trillion.  In December he signed a $1.7 trillion spending bill.”

It’s simply an ocean of federal debt spending.

But why is this time different?

Because now, Henninger observes, “…Americans have one other mega-detail on their minds: an inflation spike that can’t be separated from the spending spike.”

Most Americans don’t want to see the credit rating—as well as our international prestige—of the U.S. downgraded or weakened by the conclusion that America is going to default on its bills and obligations.  However, most Americans are suffering acutely at the gas pump, grocery store and in virtually every aspect of their lives with the governmentally self-inflicted hidden tax of inflation which has dramatically shrunk the purchasing power of their dollars.

So, if, and only if, the debt ceiling increase is agreed to, it must be linked to structural reforms which actually begin the process of reducing the national debt and the annual budget deficit so that the nation’s budget is placed on a trajectory such that in the not-too-distant future, tax revenues are balanced with spending outlays, as is the case with the budget of every American family.  

These reforms should include programmatic funding cuts as well as the very reasonable capping of discretionary spending at fiscal year 2022 levels while simultaneously implementing pro-growth policies that serve to offset the debt ceiling increase.  A great place to begin would be rescinding unspent Covid funds as well as the highly partisan trillion-dollar spending on Green New Deal “projects.”

What we are doing now—brazenly defying the fiscal laws of gravity—is utterly unsustainable.  On a bipartisan basis, we must quickly and permanently put our nation back on a path of fiscal responsibility by shrinking the size of the federal government and fostering an environment of economic freedom and growth.

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Kids Library Visit

Ms. Rena had some extra special guests at the Pelican Branch Library. Ms. Jill and Ms. Monica brought the PreK class from Pleasant Hill Elementary to the library for a tour, story hour, and a craft.  They enjoyed the story of Ninja Red Riding Hood and had some tasty popcorn and juice!

The kids and parents also learned about a lot of the great programs that the library offers. They can’t wait for their next visit.

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Pet Poisoning Investigated

On January 24th, Investigators with the DeSoto Parish Sheriff’s Office were made aware of a report of possible “animal poisoning” in the area of Stonehaven Drive in Frierson.  In the course of questioning multiple individuals and neighbors, investigators were able to determine that there could be a connection between the report and several recent others. 

It has now been determined that at least 4 dogs have been affected, and at least 2 have died so far from what has been determined by a Veterinarian as anti-freeze poisoning.  It is not yet determined if the poisoning was done maliciously, or whether the animals may have gotten into something in the neighborhood that was left out by mistake. 

Sheriff’s investigators are seeking out anyone in the area who may have recently had an outside pet fall ill, or die, suddenly.  If you have information, or know information that may assist investigators, please contact our office at 318-872-3956 and ask to speak with an investigator.

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Notice of Death – February 1, 2023

Christopher Alan Gray

June 13, 1987 to January 25, 2023

View full obituary here:

Gerald Dallas Prudhomme (Jerry)

August 22, 1934 to January 27, 2023

Nancy Anderson Zawodnik

June 17, 1945 to January 30, 2023

View full obituary here:

The DeSoto Parish Journal publishes paid obituaries – unlimited words and a photo, as well as unlimited access – $70. The obituary will be included in the emails sent to subscribers.  Contact your funeral provider or Must be paid in advance of publication. (Notice of Death shown above with no link to the obituary are FREE of charge.)

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ETC… for Wednesday, February 1, 2023

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning in effect through 12:00 pm Wednesday for the western East TX, Southeast OK, and portions of Southwest AR. A Winter Weather Advisory is also in effect for portions of East TX, Southwest AR, and North LA. Additional ice accumulations of 1/10 – 1/4″ are expected.  NOTE: the latest winter warnings stop at South Caddo and Bossier parishes.  Monitor the news media in the event these warnings are extended into our area.

From North DeSoto High, the Boys soccer team will play in Round 1 of the playoffs today (Wednesday) at 5:00 pm at St. Thomas Moore High School. 

Balloons over DeSoto posted recently that their festival is coming back July 16th.  Details to come.

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Nancy Anderson Zawodnik

Funeral services honoring the life of Nancy Kay Zawodnik will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, February 2, 2023, at Kilpatrick’s Rose-Neath Chapel, 943 Polk St., Mansfield, Louisiana. Reverend Dean Register and Reverend Tim Roberson will be officiating the service. Burial will follow at Cool Springs Cemetery in Logansport, Louisiana. A visitation will be held at the chapel from 10:00 a.m. until the time of service.

Nancy was born on June 17, 1945, in Canton, Mississippi, to Dennis and Kathleen McDaniel Anderson and entered into rest on Monday, January 30, 2023, in Mansfield, Louisiana. She worked as a Paraprofessional at Logansport High School. She was heavily involved with the River City Fest Committee, Logansport Chamber of Commerce, and a big part of the Krewe of Aquarius in Logansport.

Left to cherish her memory are her sons, Lance C. Swarthout and wife, Beatrice, Brady Zawodnik and wife, Jenee, and Daniel Zawodnik; brother, Jimmy Anderson; and nephews, Shane Anderson, and Chad Anderson. She is preceded in death by her husband, John Zawodnik; parents; and brother, Dennis Anderson, Jr.

Honoring Nancy as pallbearers will be Jimmy Anderson, Chad Anderson, Rodney Stephens, and Rusty Morris.

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Saturday Night Update On Train Derailment

January 28, 2023 at 8:11:42 PM CST

Press Release

January 28, 2023 @ 8:00pm

Sheriff Jayson Richardson

DeSoto Parish Sheriff’s Office

Dozens of workers from Union Pacific, EPA, Sheriff, Fire, EMS, and State Hazmat have been working around the clock to assess the current situation, move train cars, address the spill, test levels, control traffic and determine a forward course of action for those residents who have been evacuated.


It is important to note that all leaks from the two train cars in question have been stopped. The primary area of impact has been: How much was spilled, what impact it could have on the public/environment and cleaning up the spill. Air quality has been monitored throughout last night and day today. Levels detected earlier in the day were low in comparison to what is considered “action level” or in laymen’s terms deemed a serious concern. As of 6PM there remains no detection or concerns outside of the main impact area.


A briefing was held by all agencies at 6:00PM today, it has been determined that the evacuation radius can be shortened at this time, with many being able to return to their homes. Highway 5 between Kickapoo and Keatchie will remain closed at this time. Anyone living outside of the Primary Concern area may return home at this time. Those returning home need to find alternative routes by 789, LA172, and LA5 on the South end. Smyrna Road will be closed between 3015 and Hwy 5, with exception for residential traffic, which will be allowed through.


If you have a residence within the “Primary Area of Concern” depicted in the image, there will be a meeting at the District #2 / EMS Station at 9896 Highway 5, on Sunday, January 29 at 9am. This meeting is only sharing information to those residents within the area that remains closed.

We sincerely thank the public for their patience, and all agencies involved who have been working day and night in an attempt to make this process as painless as possible for our area.

Photo credit DeSoto Sheriff & La. State Police

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Michael Ray Barton

Michael Ray Barton entered into eternal rest on January 27, 2023, at the age of 63.

Mike was born to Herschel and Dorothy Barton in Mansfield, Louisiana on April 11, 1959. He was a self-taught carpenter and craftsman of many trades. Anyone that knew Mike knew that he was a hard worker, working up until his last days. If you asked him for help, he not only was going to help you, he was going to show you and teach you, with great detail, how to fix the problem. He took pride in his work, and he loved his family hard. Mike was the baby of the family, but his presence was big, his personality was big, his laughter was big, his heart even bigger. You could hear his laugh from the other room, and he was always going to crack a joke to make light of any situation even in his last moments he wanted to make everyone laugh and that’s exactly what he did. The list to describe Mike is too great but a few stand out; philosopher, crafty, stern but gentle, God fearing, teacher, kind, tender hearted, sensitive, respected, lover of all animals, giving, wise, accident prone (if you know, you know) and so much more and He left this earth way too soon.

He is preceded in death by his parents, wife Dana Barton and brother Kerry Barton.

Left behind to cherish his memory, his son Michael Barton (Adriene), daughters Mathilda Demorest, Dawn Burch (Stephen), Johnette Bourdon, Michelle Weeks, Jamie Lee McClellan (Matt), Annemarie Walker, sisters Lynda Binning Laffitte (Stuart “Boogie”), Kathy Broadway (Travis) Grandchildren Trey, Dakota, Luke, Austin, Jayda, Carissa, Samaira, Genesis, Derik, Fallyn, Isaac, Karsyn,Ace, Braelyn, Joey, Jonathon, Michael Beck, Victoria, Kayden, Alexandria, Noah, 7 great grands and fur babies George, Lil Bit, Lucy, Marty McFly, Speckles, and Duke and a host of family and friends.

Visitation will be Monday, January 30, 2023 at 1:00 pm and service will follow at 2:00 pm at Rose-Neath Funeral Home in Mansfield, La.

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Christopher Alan Gray

Funeral services celebrating the life of Christopher Alan Gray, 35, of Gloster, Louisiana will be at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 1, 2023, at Kilpatrick’s Rose-Neath Chapel, 943 Polk Street, Mansfield, Louisiana. Reverend Dean Register will be officiating the service. Burial will follow at O.E. Price Memorial Cemetery, in Logansport, Louisiana. Visitation will be held from 1:00 p.m. until the time of service.

Christopher passed away on Wednesday, January 25, 2023, in Benson, Louisiana. He was born on June 13, 1987, in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.

Left to cherish his memory is his fiancé, Stephanie Knight; Baby Gunner (arriving in June); son, Hayden; father, Thomas Gray; father, Connor McLaughlin; mother, Joy McLaughlin and fiancé, Dennis Chambers; sisters, Tiffany Poirier and husband, Jaque, and their children, Tanner, Cooper, Beckham, and Averie, Amber Whatley and husband, Josh,  and their children, Corbin, Ryann, and Miller; brothers, Michael Gray and fiancé, Lauren Armentor,  and their children, Adison, Blaze, Theresa, and Raemi; Connor “Lil Connor” McLaughlin and wife, Deanna, and their daughter, Neevah, Kevin McLaughlin; Great Aunt Nina, and the girls; and a host of aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews.

He is preceded in death by his paternal grandparents, Albert Jerry Gray and Susan Lee Gray, and maternal grandmother, Marilyn Scott.

Honoring Christopher as pallbearers will be Michael Knight, Brayden Knight, Colton Knight, Jason Finch, Tanner Poirier, Beckham Poirier, Cooper Poirier, and Blaze Gray.

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Evacuation at Keatchie

From DeSoto Sheriff’s Office:  As of 6:26AM we have just concluded a debrief with LSP Hazmat, Union Pacific, and Hazmat contractors. Preliminary inspection indicates that 16 cars derailed. Of those, 2 derailed tank cars are leaking an acid related product. The particular acids react to moisture/water releasing vapor which has occurred. Air monitoring devices are currently arriving on site to give a more specific determination of affected areas that will allow better determination of continued areas of evacuation.
For those that are displaced we will continue to offer shelter at the Stonewall Community center. We will have more information and will attempt to have a timeline in another update later this morning.




Update issued January 28, 2023 at 1:58:26 AM CST by the Sheriff’s Office.

Our office has been informed that the State Police Hazmat has now issued a MANDATORY EVACUATION of a 1.5 Mile radius of the Railroad Crossing in KEATCHIE. Residents need to get out now. Please see our previous posts on the Stonewall Community Center as a place to go if you have none.

Earlier a One mile area was ordered evacuated.


January 28, 2023 at 1:22:31 AM CST

After further assessment, it has been determined to evacuate all residents within a one mile radius of the railroad track crossing on highway in Keatchie.  There is believed to be a hazardous leak which could pose a danger to the surrounding public. At this time, first responders remain on scene and knocking door-to-door informing residents of the evacuation. As a reminder, if you do not have anywhere to go, the Stonewall Community Center has been opened, which is located across from Salem Baptist Church on Stonewall Frierson Road.

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One Killed, Three Injured in DeSoto Parish Crash

On Wednesday, January 25, 2023, just before 3:30 p.m., Troopers assigned to Louisiana State Police Troop G began investigating a three-vehicle fatality crash on U.S. Hwy 171 near WPA Road.  This crash claimed the life of 35-year-old Christopher Gray of Lake Charles.

The initial investigation revealed that a 2021 International (empty log truck), driven by 42-year-old Charles Barker of Florien, was traveling south on U.S. Hwy 171.  At the same time, two Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) vehicles were stopped in the right lane of U.S. Hwy 171 as work crews made road surface improvements.  Barker’s vehicle struck the first DOTD vehicle, which was a 2018 Dodge Ram truck, causing it to leave the roadway.  After the initial impact, the International struck the second DOTD vehicle, which was a 2015 Ford dump truck.  Gray was standing behind the Ford and was also struck.  An additional DOTD worker was standing in the bed of the Ford and was ejected from the vehicle.

Gray suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead on the scene by the DeSoto Parish Coroner’s Office.  Barker and two other DOTD workers were transported to local hospitals with moderate injuries. 

Impairment is not suspected to be a factor in this crash; however, routine toxicology samples were taken and submitted for analysis.  The crash remains under investigation.

Troopers would like to remind all motorists to make good decisions, such as buckling your seat belt, obeying all posted speed limits, and avoiding all distractions while driving.  By remaining attentive to the roadway, motorists give themselves much needed time to react to changing road conditions ahead of them.

In 2023, Troop G has investigated two fatal crashes, resulting in two deaths.

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Academic, Facility And Safety Improvements at DeSoto Schools

School Superintendent Clay Corley pointed to improvements to educational facilities in the parish in remarks before the DeSoto Chamber this month. He also expressed delight in academic progress parish schools are making.

Corley thanked community members as well as school staff and parents for the progress made.  Corley said, “I want to thank you for your work that impacts the school system. We’re now ranked the number six school system in the state in academics.  We are a growing system in enrollment, academics and in capital  facilities.”

Among improvements underway, Corley said, “We will see over the next twelve to eighteen months new projects at Stanley High and Mansfield High schools.  And hopefully we will be in our new administration building by October or so.”

Security upgrades and improvements are underway at all campuses.  Corley said they will enhance student and faculty safety.  Working with the Sheriff’s Office they are improving their security partnerships.  Resource Officers on campus are working with kids and influencing their lives.  And that means a lot.

Corley spoke at the January meeting of the DeSoto Chamber of Commmerce.

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A Great Season to Celebrate

The North Desoto Football Team is making preparations to celebrate their historic State Championship Appearance as they have their annual end of the season banquet. It will be held on Thursday, February 2, 2023 at the American Legion Post 14 on 5315 South Lakeshore Drive in Shreveport.

The players’ tickets are being provided by the North DeSoto Quarterback Club. Tickets for others wishing to attend are being sold via Eventbrite for $20 per person.

The Guest Speaker for the Banquet is Phillip Deas, former All-American Quarterback from Evangel. Today Mr. Deas serves as the Pastor of North Point Community Church and is a Life Coach and Consultant.

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The Chinatown Revelation

Brad Dison

John Joseph was born in Neptune City, New Jersey on April 22, 1937.  He was raised by his parents, Ethel May and John, and sisters June and Lorraine.  June was 18 years his senior, and Lorraine was 15 years his senior.  June aspired to become a famous entertainer.  In the 1930s, June Nilson, as she was known professionally, began her dancing career under the tutelage of dancing teacher Eddie King.  She danced in several performances and was featured in the opening of a club called the Pic and Pat club in New York City.  She also appeared in several off-Broadway productions.  On New Year’s Eve in 1935, she was featured as a specialty tap dancer in Earl Carrol’s Palm Island club in Miami, Florida.  Earl Carrol was a controversial figure because his showgirls were usually scantily clad.  He was known as “the troubadour of the nude.”  At some point, June returned to the family home.  In 1941, when John was four years old, June moved again to Miami, Florida to work for Earl Carrol.  Her aspirations eventually led her to Hollywood, California.

Perhaps, his sister’s ambitions rubbed off on John.  In 1954, John, then 17 years old, moved in with June in Hollywood.  John found a job as an office boy in MGM Studios’ animated cartoon department.  While at work one day, a producer noticed something special in John.  It may have been the way he carried himself, the way he said a certain sentence or phrase, or the way he smiled.  At the producer’s recommendation, John began taking acting classes.  In 1956, John received his first acting credit for his performance in one episode of a television series called Matinee Theatre.  In 1958, he performed in the film The Cry Baby Killer.  John’s career as an entertainer had been slow in the late 1950s.  In 1960, however, John’s career “took off.”  In that year alone, John appeared in four films and two television series.  Unlike June, whose Hollywood career never came to fruition, John’s career flourished for the next five decades.   

It was through his acting career that John learned a secret.  John was scheduled to be interviewed about one of his upcoming films by a writer from Time magazine.  As part of the preparation process for the interview, researchers from the magazine began exploring John’s background.  It was then that they uncovered John’s family’s secret.  Rather than revealing this during the interview, a representative from the magazine revealed the secret to John in a telephone call.  John sat in stunned silence while the magazine representative revealed that June and Lorraine were not his sisters, and John and Ethel May were not his parents.  The evidence provided made the claims undeniable.  John’s family had kept a secret from him his entire life.  John and Ethel May died without ever revealing that they were not his parents, as John had always been told, but his grandparents.  Lorraine, whom John thought was his sister, was actually his aunt.  John’s mother was June.  According to the researcher, John’s father was Don Furcillo-Rose.  June had gotten pregnant out of wedlock, which would have reflected badly on the whole family in that era.  After careful consideration, the family agreed to keep John’s true parentage a secret.  They hoped it would remain a secret forever.

John needed to confirm this for himself.  John and Ethel May were long dead, and June died in 1963.  The only person left alive who could verify or deny the claims of the Time magazine researcher was Lorraine.  He called and spoke with Lorraine’s husband whom he affectionately called Short.  “A guy calls me on the phone, and says that my father is still alive, and that Ethel May wasn’t really my mother, that June was my mother.”  Shorty was in disbelief and handed the phone to Lorraine.  John repeated the information.  After a moment of silence, Lorraine confirmed that the story was true although she was unaware of the identity of his real father.

John described the discovery as being “a pretty dramatic event, but it wasn’t what I’d call traumatizing.  After all, by the time I found out who my mother was, I was pretty well psychologically formed.”  He added, “I was very impressed by their ability to keep the secret, if nothing else.”  John jokingly referred to June as his “sister-mother.”

John is considered by many to be one of the greatest actors of all time.  He has won 3 Oscars and a host of other awards for films such as Terms of Endearment, As Good As It Gets, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  The film for which he was being interviewed when he learned his family’s secret was called Chinatown.  You and I know John Joseph Nicholson as Jack Nicholson.


  1. Asbury Park Press, January 2, 1936, P. 15.
  2. Trey Taylor, “Jack Nicholson Grew Up Believing His Mom Was His Sister,” August 6,
  3. Swapnil Dhruv Bose, “When Jack Nicholson discovered that his sister was actually his mother,” April 6, 2022.
  4. Aaron Homer, “How Jack Nicholson Discovered His Sister Was His Mother,” July 18,

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Two Individuals Sought For Questioning

An ongoing investigation has been taking place that involves two individuals in regard to a burglary at the U-Store It business in Stonewall.  While investigators are still combing footage and evidence to piece together further details, we are sharing the following screenshots now in hopes that the public may be able to help identify the vehicle and/or subjects pictured.  These subjects are currently being sought for questioning by investigators with the DeSoto Parish Sheriff’s Office.  If you have information to provide, here is how you can do so:

  1. In the DeSoto Sheriff App under “Forms & Tips” you can use the Crime Stoppers Tip feature to send info to investigators, and you can do so anonymously.
  2. You may visit to also submit your tip anonymously.
  3. You may call 1-800-505-7867 to speak with a dispatcher who will take your information but does not need your name.
  4. You may call our office at 318-872-3956 and ask to speak with an investigator regarding this post.

Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 for any tip that leads to the identification or arrest of one or both of the individuals responsible for this burglary.

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Anybody Out There?

Join us at BackAlley Community Theatre as we present our first production of 2023, Anybody Out There? A farce comedy and one of John Patrick’s fastest and funniest plays. This play deals with the metamorphosis of a shy little milksop into a fearless hero after he has been told that he has only six months to live. The action spins zanily on, finding its way to a happy and hilarious conclusion.

Cast members include Barry Larson, Linda Sibley, Bridget Flanders, Lance Ray, Shawn Fargerson, Hunter Tuck, Lauren Piazza, John Derbonne, Ken Murphy, Jim Griffith, and Martha Russell. Lisa Duty is Director and Barbie Larson is Stage Manager.

Show dates are Friday and Saturday, February 3 and 4 at 7:00 pm, Sunday, February 5 at 2:00 pm, and Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, February 9, 10, and 11 at 7:00 pm. Reservations are required.

CLICK HERE TO RESERVE YOUR TICKETS. Or you may go to our website to reserve your ticket, or text/call our box office at 318-461-0202. Tickets are $15.00, cash or check only if paying at the door. We offer sodas, coffee, popcorn, and cookies.

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The Ugly Side of Professional Bass Fishing

By Steve Graf

Recently, I watched a great YouTube video by Elite Series Pro Chris Zaldain. He and his wife, Trait, host a YouTube/Podcast show called “Zaldaingerous,” and I came across a 1 hour 44 min video in which they dove deep into some of the issues facing professional bass fishing. This episode featured Elite Series Pro, Matt Herron, who happens to be a good friend of mine and is never short on words. If you want the truth and perspective of a guy who has made a great career for himself, then Matt is the guy you want to talk with. He will not sugarcoat the issues and has sound advice on how these issues should be dealt with.

In this particular episode, Matt breaks down some of the problems and situations pertaining to professional bass fishing. Matt, Chris, and Trait talk about rules, sponsorship dollars, polygraph testing, the 2019 split, the new open series, and the Tony Christian scandal. If you’re an up-and-coming young man and want to know how to be a pro angler, you better make the time to sit down with Matt Herron. He will not lead you to believe that being a full-time professional angler is easy. If anything, he may have you second-guessing yourself before you walk away. He’ll probably ask you, “Are you sure you want to do this for a living?”

The first topic they discuss is the fight over sponsorship dollars and how the pool has shrunk. He referred to his days of starting on the FLW (Forrest L. Wood) Tour (2003) and how FLW ruined and burned so many non-indemnity sponsors like Tide, Walmart, Gastrol Oil, Land-of-Lakes, Kellogg’s, and many more. FLW did not deliver the exposure they promised all these major sponsors. When FLW folded, all these potentially great sponsors dropped out of the professional fishing market and left only never to return.

The market of companies out there looking to provide assistance to an angler has shrunk dramatically. Matt points out that today, it’s almost impossible for an angler to make it on his own without solid financial backing. He makes light of how mommas, daddies, or grandparents with deep pockets are footing the bill for these young anglers to try and make it. They do okay for the first couple of years, which is all they are guaranteed. Then, the 70% that don’t make it leave the sport with thousands of dollars of debt up to their eyeballs! 

Next, Matt, Chris, and Trait talk about polygraph issues. He and Chris both would like to see more anglers polygraphed after an event and have some of the questions revamped. Matt talks about how he personally knew an FBI investigator and how the FBI conducts a polygraph test. He talks about how the wording of questions is critical to catching a cheater. Then they brought up the Tony Christian scandal that rocked the professional bass fishing world when Tony was caught cheating in an FLW Tournament after his “honey hole” was discovered and investigated. It was discovered that he had made a special basket, put it in the water, and stocked it with bass. The basket allowed for his bait to enter the basket, catch a bass, and exit while the lid closed as the fish came out of the basket, retaining all other bass waiting to be caught. Tony was eventually banned for life from fishing as a professional angler and has virtually disappeared.

I could go into all the topics they discussed on this episode, but if you want to hear the undisclosed side of the professional bass fishing world, check out the episode yourself. Go to and search “Zaldaingerous.”  The husband/wife team of Chris and Trait Zaldain interview the anglers that fish the Bassmaster Elite Series. They do a fantastic job of introducing their fans to the harsh reality of being a professional angler. There’s no topic or subject that’s out of bounds as Chris and Trait are excellent hosts with a wealth of experience themselves as professional bass anglers.

Till next time, good luck, good fishing, and don’t forget your sunscreen. Also, make sure to schedule regular dermatologist appointments. If you don’t have a dermatologist, find one!

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Cheerleaders Earn National Acclaim

North DeSoto High sent congratulations to their Griffin Cheerleaders.  Recently they took part in a national cheer competition.

The school said, “They came home as 3rd in the nation in Novice Large Varsity Crowd Performance. They scored a 95.35 and Hit Zero with no deductions both days.”

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