Musical Show Next Month

BackAlley Community Theatre is proud to announce two night performances of ‘Mike Smith and Friends’ on Friday and Saturday, August 25 and 26, at 7:00 pm. Come listen to Mike Smith tell his story of his musical career that has lasted 40 years in DeSoto Parish. This concert will take us from Mike’s early days in music to the forming of The Dolet Hills Band, who played over 20 years in the Ark-La-Tex. The songs chosen for this concert have special meanings in Mike’s life and have always been favorite country classics.

Mike Smith is laying the guitar down, and BackAlley is the one place he chose to show his appreciation to all of his fans throughout the years. With the help of local country music star, Dennis Bell, they have put together an amazing group of musicians to bring you a show you won’t forget. It’s gonna’ be fun! Come see Mike Smith’s Last Rodeo!

Tickets will be available to purchase online at beginning Monday, July 31, for $15. Excitement for these two performances is spreading through our community and tickets will move quickly, so purchase your ticket(s) early. If you have questions, call our box office at 318-461-0202 and leave a message, but we will have limited hours.

Stop and Go Traffic

By Brad Dison

In 1923, Garrett Morgan was driving along the busy streets of Cleveland, Ohio.  By the age of 43, he had achieved the American dream which was characterized in the 1920s as the pursuit of material success, social status, and personal freedom.  Garrett was the owner and editor of the Cleveland Call newspaper, but he came from humble beginnings.  Garrett was born in rural Kentucky in 1877.  His parents were former slaves who survived on the crops they grew.  By the time Garrett turned 14, he realized he wanted more than to eke out an existence on the farm.

In 1891, the 14-year-old left Kentucky and moved to Cincinnati, Ohio to look for work.  His sights were not set too high.  Garrett initially worked as a handyman.  He had a mechanical mind and could build and repair any machine, even ones he had never seen before.  Within a few years, Garrett left Cincinnati and moved to Cleveland.  His ability to quickly repair machines enabled him to secure a position as a sewing machine repairman.  By 1907, Garrett had saved enough money and opened his own sewing machine repair shop.  Garrett’s reputation grew quickly based on the quality of his work and the speed at which he completed repairs.  His business thrived.  Two years later, Garrett added a garment shop to his business.  In 1920, Garrett started the newspaper, the Cleveland Call, from scratch.  Like his sewing machine repair shop and garment shop, the Cleveland Call was a huge success.

In 1923, when a lot of people in Cleveland still traveled by horse-drawn vehicles, bicycles, and streetcars, Garrett’s successes enabled him to purchase an automobile.  One day in 1923, Garrett shared the busy road with all manner of vehicles including many other automobiles.  At each major intersection, a policeman manually moved levers which raised and lowered metal signs.  Painted on the signs were the words “GO,” or “STOP.”  This type of traffic signal had been in use for decades and had saved countless lives.

As Garrett neared one of these major intersections, the policeman moved the levers and the signs changed.  Specific details of the accident that followed vary depending on the source.  Some sources assert that the collision was between a horse-drawn wagon and a car, and other sources claim that two cars were involved.  What we know for sure is that there was a horrible collision which resulted in at least one person’s death, and Garrett witnessed the whole thing.  Gruesome images of the collision replayed over and over in his mind.  At night, he had nightmares of the collision.  After a few days, Garrett began to take a different view of the collision.  He began to analyze what he had witnessed to try to determine what had caused the collision.  The traffic signals had worked as designed.  The policeman moved the levers and one lane of traffic’s signal changed from “Go” to “STOP,” and, at the same moment, the signal from the crossing traffic changed from “STOP” to “GO.”  Garrett found what he thought would solve the issue and, on November 20,1923, he received a patent for it.  He eventually sold the rights to his invention to General Electric for $40,000.00, an enormous sum at the time.

Garrett’s invention evolved into something that we all still see and use today.  Rather than slowing traffic down, Garrett’s invention makes most drivers want to increase their speed.  Garrett’s invention added a “WARNING” sign to the two-sign traffic signal to warn drivers that the stop signal would soon change from “GO” to “STOP.”  Garrett’s invention evolved into the yellow caution signal on traffic lights.

Source:, “Garrett Morgan Patents Three-Position Traffic Signal.” HISTORY, 13 Dec. 2018,

Summer Science Program

Sci-Port presented a GSK Science in the Summer Program at Logansport Library.  The “Be a Physicist” program encourages young scientist to solve “real-world problems.”

The children were given 3 scenarios involving the fields of Sound Engineer, Accident Investigator, and Power Plant Engineer.  They worked in teams to create hypothesis’ to solve the problems. 

The Logansport Branch said, “Thank you parents for bringing your children to DeSoto Parish Library!!  Thank you Sci-Port for making science fun!  Sci-Port Discovery Center The Franklin Institute.”

Cheating Rocks Pro Bass Fishing….Again

By Steve Graf

And the saga continues, once again anglers are taking advantage or blatantly ignoring the rules of their sport. Major League Fishing has brought to light a controversy that took place at the Stage 6 tournament on Lake Cayuga, NY. Four anglers have been under investigation for alleged cheating by not following the rules for “sight fishing”.

On Wednesday June 21st, Major League Fishing (MLF) announced that they were investigating accusations that four anglers may have violated sight fishing rules. For those that have no idea what sight fishing is, it’s a technique where anglers visually see a bass sitting on a bed looking to spawn and will try and entice these bass into biting their lure. But one very important rule must be followed. If you are sight fishing, you are required to hook the fish inside the mouth. If the fish is hooked outside the mouth, the fish is considered an unofficial catch and must be returned to the water immediately. This rule is in place so that anglers don’t go out trying to catch fish by snagging them.

Some analysts think it’s immoral or unethical to fish for bass on beds but it’s not that big an issue since the MLF Bass Pro Tour is a catch and release format. Meaning, as each fish is caught, they are weighed, recorded and released immediately.

But here’s what the accusations are; some anglers were not following  protocol when they swing their catch on board the boat. Anglers who are sight fishing are required to show their on-board Marshall (an observer who weighs and monitors each fish caught; making sure anglers follow the rules) that the fish is hooked inside the mouth. If not, it must be released and is considered an unofficial catch. But in this event, some anglers were being discreet and hiding their fish as they brought them on board the boat so that the cameras nor the Marshall could see how the fish was hooked. They would just unhook the bass and proceed to weigh it without confirmation it was hooked inside the mouth.

The next issue from this event, was that some anglers were catching the same fish more than once during the day. The rule states that an angler cannot catch and weigh the same fish more than once in a day.

They can return and catch that same fish the following day if they choose. After video reviews 16 anglers were called in and subjected to a polygraph test. Out of the sixteen, one failed.

MLF officials have been hard at work reviewing video footage of the anglers in question in order to make sure all the rules were followed. If they find rules have been violated, MLF officials will have to decide to what extent they should be punished. This is where things could get a little weird and revealing. MLF has got to come down hard on this if they find violations were made. No longer is a slap on the wrist a strong enough punishment for violating the rules. MLF’s reputation and integrity are at stake with these rulings. 

Extensive punishment like suspension for the next event or even worse…. suspension for a full season. The best way anglers will get the message that cheating will not be tolerated, is to hit them in their checkbook. But disqualifying their days catch and dropping them in the standings a few places is not strong enough. A message needs to be sent that will make anglers think twice about cheating. Yes, I said cheating! Since its inception, MLF has basically turned a blind eye to certain violations. Just like NASCAR, drivers are always trying to push the envelope and dabble in the grey area of the rules. Bass tournaments are no different as anglers are always looking for an advantage over their competitors by looking for loopholes in the rules.

Due to the amount of money involved in today’s bass tournament world with thousands of dollars up for grabs, anglers are thinking outside the box and looking for ways to get around the rules in order to be successful or gain an advantage. But now the time has finally come for anglers to be held accountable for their actions. While 98% of the anglers do a great job of self-reporting and holding each other accountable, it’s the other 2% that need to be made an example of. With the increase in live prime time TV coverage and national exposure, it’s important to preserve the integrity of the sport and show the anglers and their fans that rule violators will not be tolerated.

I hope MLF officials will come down hard on the angler or anglers if rules were violated. Nothing will bring the sport down faster than anglers who insist on cheating. Till next time, good luck, good fishing and always read and follow the rules for any tournament you’re competing in.

Vacation Bible School at St. Ann’s

St. Ann’s Catholic Church said, “Another Great Year in the books for St Ann’s VBS. In Jesus the Victory’s WON. Thanks Chiro Care for the yummy Pizza tonight and Diane Ward for the delicious cookies every night.

“We raised over $800 for medcamp. So proud of our Blue and Red Knights. Thanks to all the kids, parents, youth and adult volunteers that made it such a huge success.”

Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2023 enjoys some R and R –relationships and reactions

The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2023 (front row L to R) Paul Mainieri, Ron Washington, Lori Lyons, Walter Imahara and Bruce Brown. (Back row) Paul Byrd, M.L. Woodruff, Walter Davis, Matt Forte, Alana Beard and Wendell Davis. (Photo by Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services, for the LSWA)

By JASON PUGH, Special to the Journal

NATCHITOCHES – Thursday afternoon was about “R and R” for 11 members of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2023.

This “R and R” session, however, was not about rest and relaxation. Instead, the focus of the annual induction press conference inside the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum was on the inductees’ reactions to their moment in the sun and the relationships that drove them to or were created along the way in their Hall of Fame careers.

Some of those kinships even had a direct tie to Hall of Fame weekend itself, such as the case with 2023 inductee Paul Mainieri and his college coach, New Orleans’ Ron Maestri, a Class of 1994 inductee.

“I thought about that when (Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Foundation President) Ronnie (Rantz) and (Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Chairman Doug Ireland) called me,” said Mainieri, who led LSU to the 2009 College World Series championship and five CWS appearances in his 15 years atop the Tiger program. “I had flown down from South Bend, Indiana, because Mase was being inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, and I wanted to be here to honor him. I learned so much from Mase in my two years of playing for him – about handling players, promoting your team in the community, about what it took effort wise. At that point in my life, and to this day, he is probably the second-most important male figure in my life as far as guiding me through my baseball career and coaching career.”

Mainieri is one of five members of the Class of 2023 with ties to LSU, joining fellow Tiger baseball players Paul Byrd and M.L. Woodruff, standout football receiver Wendell Davis and Olympic jumper Walter Davis.

Although Mainieri’s relationship with Maestri began roughly an hour east of Baton Rouge, his tie to Woodruff was formed in the LSU baseball locker room long before the Tigers were among the nation’s elite.

Woodruff and Mainieri came into LSU as freshmen together before making their mark as baseball coaches.

Mainieri has the 2009 national title to his name, but it was Woodruff who made winning championships an art form, skippering Parkview Baptist to a remarkable 11 state championships in a 23-year span from 1986-2009.

“After the announcement, Paul was so gracious,” Woodruff said. “He came up to me after the pairing party for the golf tournament and said, ‘M.L., we’re in the locker room at Alex Box Stadium, and someone says, ‘Two of you guys are going into the Hall of Fame.’ He says, ‘Do you think they would have picked us?’ Absolutely not.”

Although not related, Walter and Wendell Davis played into sharing a last name.

“First of all, give it up for my brother, Walter” Wendell Davis said after following Walter’s speech before reflecting on his record-setting career that came in a time that long predated the current pass-happy era of college football.

A Shreveport-Fair Park High School product, Davis was recruited primarily by north Louisiana colleges – Northwestern State, then-Northeast Louisiana and Grambling State – before LSU came in “at the last minute.”

The marriage produced two All-American seasons for Davis, the 1987 SEC Player of the Year as a senior, a career built off a pairing of unsuspecting stars – Davis and his quarterback Tommy Hodson. Davis then produced a six-season NFL career with the Chicago Bears that was cut short because of an injury in Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium that still resonates.

“I look pretty unassuming – you wouldn’t think I played football if you met me on the streets – but Tommy was worse than that,” Wendell said. “Tommy was a skinny kid, great basketball player. You see him on the street, you wouldn’t think he was a player. He was highly recruited, and I thought, ‘I need to get to know him.’ As a redshirt freshman, Tommy and I would work out all the time. We’d lift weights, and we’d go to the field. We’d go up and down the field – I’m running routes and he’s throwing the ball. The hope was this chemistry would carry over into a game. Fortunately, it did. He gained confidence in me, and he knew where I would be on the field. He was very instrumental in me doing what I did.”

While Wendell Davis found success in a team sport, stepping away from basketball led the 6-foot-2 Walter Davis to a track and field career that took the native of Leonville to Barton County Community College in Kansas, back home to LSU and around the world with berths on the 2000 and 2004 U.S. Olympic Teams.

A prep basketball standout, Walter said the individual nature of track and field played a role – as did a coach who mentioned the plethora of 6-2 basketball players and the dearth of 6-2 basketball players who had his track and field ability – into pushing him onto his Hall of Fame path.

“One reason I left basketball was if someone missed an assignment or missed a layup, it was a hack on the team,” he said. “If I went to a track meet and I lost, I have to look in the mirror. That’s on you. That’s why I really stuck with track and field. I don’t have to depend on anyone but myself.”

Right-handed pitcher Paul Byrd, a 14-year major-league veteran, rounded out the LSU-tied contingent. Byrd’s relationship with the Hall of Fame goes right to the top as he was Tiger teammates with Rantz, who noted Byrd was his first former teammate he was able to honor as an inductee.

A school-record 17-game winner at LSU in 1990, Byrd grinded his way through more than a decade in the major leagues that included a 1999 All-Star selection that led him to mingling with National Baseball Hall of Famers at Fenway Park and a 2007 American League Division Series-clinching win against the New York Yankees.

Byrd remained humble throughout his time at the microphone, nearly speaking about fellow inductee Ron Washington as much as himself. Byrd, now a television analyst calling Atlanta Braves games, and Washington, Atlanta’s third base coach and gilded infield instructor, have developed a friendship that was clear from Byrd’s speech – although it started around the time Mainieri first visited Natchitoches.

“Ron Washington, where are you, buddy?” Byrd asked. “When I got called up to the big leagues in 1995, you don’t remember this. I was playing for the New York Mets. I’m not that good. I’m just trying to bob and weave and last as long as a I can. I’m always told I’m too short, and I don’t throw hard enough. I get called in the office and get told I’m going to the big leagues. All my teammates are hugging me and giving me five. Wash’s energy is unbelievable. He makes working hard fun.

“You don’t remember this, but you told me, ‘The big leagues can change you. Don’t let it happen to you. Stay humble and keep working hard.’ Ron Washington can handle success. All that he has accomplished has not changed him. Thank you for that.”

While Washington has remained the same since leaving New Orleans’ John McDonogh High School in 1970 to start a 10-year playing career, he has been a change agent and self-described “ambassador” for baseball. The Crescent City native said he always played above his age group while growing up, and it didn’t take long for him to have the Texas Rangers punching above their typical weight class in his first Major League Baseball managerial job.

Under Washington, the Rangers won at least 90 games in five seasons and reached the franchise’s first two World Series, capturing American League pennants in 2010 and 2011. Washington finally summitted the mountain in 2021, capturing a World Series title with Atlanta in his 51st season in professional baseball.

It was the relationships Washington built – and the vision he had – from Day One that built a budding dynasty in North Texas.

“When I arrived in Texas, my first meetings were with scouts, and out of the blue, I talked about winning a World Series,” Washington said. “They thought I was crazy. They did. I had the ring sizers, and I was sizing them up. I believe belief is powerful. When you believe and you can put action to that belief, you can get things done.”

Belief was a two-way street that led Matt Forte to the door of the NFL – one he kicked in and enjoyed a decade of top-tier performance with the Chicago Bears and New York Jets.

Forte, a Slidell native, was set on playing football in the SEC, but when the offers did not materialize, he followed his father Gene’s footsteps and signed with Tulane. Flashes of his potential were evident in his first three seasons, but a knee injury late in his junior year – and a coaching change – provided the impetus for a school-record 2,127 rushing-yard season as a senior that led him to become a second-round pick of the Bears.

Forte’s two-a-day workouts put him on a path to the Hall of Fame and to a fast friendship with the Davises, who were the targets of a good-natured shot from the former Green Wave standout.

“It means a lot, especially as a Tulane alumnus around all these LSU people,” Forte said. “Let y’all know, Tulane, we’re up here, too, especially y’all (Davis) brothers over there. When I got the call, I was honestly not expecting it. I was underrated my whole career. I didn’t consider myself underrated. I just think maybe overlooked, but it was God’s plan. Getting this honor at the end of a career was really sweet, because I feel my entire career, some people get their flowers while they’re playing or they come in with a lot of hype.

“I never bought into the hype. I’m glad I didn’t have a lot of hype around myself, because if you don’t turn out to be good the hype doesn’t mean anything. I’d rather be consistent. This was the cherry on top as far as the career I had.”

Consistency was a synonym for Alana Beard’s basketball career.

Four state championships at Shreveport’s Southwood High School led to an All-American career at Duke where she also won the Wade Trophy before playing professionally in the WNBA and overseas.

That career, which began with Beard playing against her older brothers as the only girl, led her to play in 27 countries. It was her relationship with her prep coach, Steve McDowell, she credited with being the linchpin for her globe-spanning career.

“Those Southwood years simply defined who I became,” Beard said. “I decided to play organized basketball in the seventh grade – I was too shy to do so in the sixth grade. That became my journey. That became my love especially when I understood that I had the opportunity to take a burden off my parents’ shoulders. Basketball could be the vehicle to take me where I eventually wanted to go. It wouldn’t have happened without my parents and the foundation they instilled in me, but also with Steve McDowell, the legendary coach at Southwood. I knew I wanted to play for him because he had a championship culture already there, and I had a desire to be a champion.

“I knew choosing Southwood would be hard. I knew the players there were better than me, but that motivated me to want to be one of the best. Any time I think about my success, Steve McDowell is synonymous with that because he taught me the fundamentals of the game. He taught me respect. He taught me discipline. I’ve carried that with me throughout my life.”

While the other eight competitive-ballot inductees carried competitive scars from outcomes that didn’t go their way, world champion weightlifter Walter Imahara’s career was forged in a different setting.

A Japanese-American, Imahara and his family spent three-and-a-half years in a World War II internment camp in California. Instead of a jaded worldview, Imahara took his pleasant disposition – and dogged dedication – to then-Southwestern Louisiana Institute and helped the Bulldogs win an NCAA national championship.

More importantly, Imahara, now 86 years old, found a longtime home among a group of people who treated him like one of their own.

“I was born in California, but I’ve lived in Louisiana for more than 80 years – Louisiana is my home,” said Imahara, who graduated from Baton Rouge’s Istrouma High School in 1955. “When I went to Southwestern, you have to remember, I was like the only Japanese-American on campus. People there were not prejudiced. They were of a Cajun background. How could they be prejudiced?”

Those relationships simultaneously define Acadiana and its 2023 Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism honoree Bruce Brown.

A longtime fixture at the Daily Advertiser, Brown was a staple at Lafayette-area sporting events – community-wide or ones with a national focus. In addition to being a talented on-deadline writer, Brown said he enjoyed focusing on sports that didn’t always draw the eye of the greater public.

And while he made Lafayette his home, he had a perfectly pithy response to his honor.

“I think the full quote was ‘Get out of town,’’ Brown said of learning of his DSA selection. “It was unexpected. You don’t live for such a moment, but you take them when they come that’s for sure. I don’t write for the acclaim. I write for the athlete, for the kid. That’s the way I always approached it.”

While Brown wrote about barrier breakers, his fellow DSA honoree broke them herself.

Lori Lyons climbed the ladder at the New Orleans Times-Picayune, starting as a clerk in 1986 before becoming a two-time Louisiana Sports Writers Association Prep Writer of the Year and the second female LSWA President.

During her time as the Times-Picayune’s prep sports reporter in the River Parishes, Lyons chronicled numerous Louisiana Sports Hall of Famers, including 2017 inductee Ed Reed. Now her name – and biography – stands alongside Reed and the other statewide legends in Natchitoches.

“I have been coming to this event for 30 years,” Lyons said. “I have sat in the audience and cried while people like you stood on that stage and tried to explain what it means or how it feels and what an honor it is. Now it’s my turn, and as good as I am with words, I don’t have the words to do it.

“It is humbling. It is surreal. When I punched my name in that computer database and saw my name and my picture … I saw Walter Davis and said, ‘Come here. You have to do this.’ Then I saw his face. Then I saw Wendell Davis and said, ‘Come here. You have to do this.’ That is the most amazing experience so far of this whole thing.”

The 12th inductee, football great Eli Manning of New Orleans, is arriving Friday to join the festivities.

Notice of Death – July 28, 2023

Arlene Marion Pierce

Funeral will be held on Friday, July 28, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. in the chapel at Rose-Neath Southside.

Lois Taylor

11/21/1926 – 7/22/2023

Service: Saturday, July 29, 2023 @ 12:00 Noon at Mt. Mariah Baptist Church.

Mamie Bennett-Williams

8/8/1952 – 7/22/2023

Service: Saturday, July 29, 2023 @ 1:00 P. M. Jenkins Funeral Home Chapel.

Ora L. Brown

9/24/1925 – 7/17/2023

Graveside Services were held on Thursday, July 27, 2023 at Community Cemetery in Logansport, LA.

Cornell Wade, Jr.

9/7/1988 – 7/15/2023

Service: Saturday, July 29, 2023 @ 12:00 Noon at Shady Grove #2 Baptist Church in Shreveport, LA.

The DeSoto Parish Journal publishes “Remembrances of Loved Ones” with unlimited words and a photo, as well as unlimited access – $70. The Remembrance will be included in the emails sent to subscribers.  Contact your funeral provider or Must be paid in advance of publication.

ETC… For Friday July 28, 2023

Northwestern State University’s Office of Electronic and Continuing Education will offer a Pick Up Your Brush painting class on Monday, August 14 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on the second floor of South Hall. The fee is $45.

Mansfield High School this week announced that 𝐉𝐑𝐎𝐓𝐂 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐮𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐭 𝐌𝐇𝐒, an amazing opportunity for our students. Join the Award-winning Wolverine Battalion. Don’t miss this chance to make your high school experience memorable.

At the Stonewall Branch Library today from 1:00 to 4:00 pm ScPort will be doing activities with the children.  And later, from 5:30 to 7:00 pm there will be a Back to School Bash with food and games.

Carter Named Principal of Year

Local educator Barry Carter has been selected a Louisiana Principal of the Year.  The selection was revealed during the annual gala recognizing education excellence.  The gala was held in Baton Rouge.  Carter is the Principal at North DeSoto Middle School.

The Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) celebrated some of the state’s most outstanding teachers and leaders tonight at the 17th Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Awards Gala. Produced in partnership with Dream Teachers, this event was highlighted by the announcement of the Louisiana Teacher and Principal of the Year, Louisiana Early Childhood Teacher and Leader of the Year, and Louisiana New Teacher of the Year.

2024 Overall State Honorees:

Louisiana Teacher of the Year: Kylie Altier | East Baton Rouge Parish Schools

Louisiana Principal of the Year: Tia Mechelle Trahan | Lafayette Parish

Louisiana Early Childhood Teacher of the Year: Phedra Jackson | Lafourche Parish

Louisiana Early Childhood Leader of the Year: Arielle Hughes | Jefferson Parish

Louisiana New Teacher of the Year: Phoenix Morel LeBlanc | Livingston Parish Public Schools

“Tonight we celebrate the remarkable dedication and unwavering commitment of Louisiana’s finest teachers and leaders,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley. “Their resilience, passion, and tireless efforts have transformed lives and paved the way for our Louisiana comeback.”

Louisiana Teacher of the Year

Kylie Altier is the overall Louisiana Teacher of the Year. Altier teaches first grade at Buchanan Elementary in East Baton Rouge Parish Public Schools. She has won over $13,000 in grants to enrich the educational experiences of students and the whole school community. Altier brought life to a garden focused on agriculture, created a mobile kitchen where students cook fresh vegetables they harvest, and designed a curriculum employing virtual reality headsets to boost experiential learning.

The following educators were named division-level Louisiana Teacher of the Year

Elementary: Sandra Saye-Foucqueteau | Zachary Community School District

Middle: Cory Joy Craig | Bossier Parish Schools

High: Dennis “DJ” Pevey | Tangipahoa Parish School System

Louisiana Principal of the Year

Tia Mechelle Trahan is the overall Louisiana Principal of the Year. Trahan leads Lafayette Middle in the Lafayette Parish School System. A National Board Certified Teacher, she was the Lafayette Parish School System Teacher of the Year in 2007. Trahan was part of the first cohort of Louisiana leaders to complete the National Institute for School Leaders.

The following educators were named division-level Louisiana Principal of the Year

Elementary: Dr. Monya Thomas-Criddle | Jefferson Parish Schools

Middle: Barry Carter | DeSoto Parish Schools

High: Marvin Evans | Ascension Public Schools

Louisiana Early Childhood Teacher of the Year

Phedra Jackson is the overall Louisiana Early Childhood Teacher of the Year. Jackson teaches at Lafourche Head Start in Lafourche Parish. Jackson has more than 10 years of experience working and serving children and families in Louisiana.

Louisiana Early Childhood Leader of the Year

Arielle Hughes is the overall Louisiana Early Childhood Leader of the Year. Hughes leads Carousel Preschool in Jefferson Parish. Hughes has over 10 years of combined experience in both leading and teaching in Early Learning centers.

Louisiana New Teacher of the Year

Phoenix Morel LeBlanc is the overall Louisiana New Teacher of the Year. LeBlanc teaches at Albany Middle in the Livingston Parish Public School System. Recognizing excellence during the first year in the classroom, this is the second year of this awards program.

The 17th Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Awards Gala was held at the World War II Museum in New Orleans. During the event, the Department announced the 2024 State Elementary, Middle, and High School Teacher and Principal of the Year honorees, the 2024 New Teacher of the Year, the 2024 Early Childhood Leader and Teacher of the Year.

Watch Which Emails You Click On

The Sheriff’s Office said, “We have received several reports from residents getting emails like the one pictured. It was reported a while back that there was a data breach of personal information through the OMV, that is correct. It also appears to be true that the state of Louisiana is informing citizens of this breach to those they could find an email address for. They appear to be offering 12 months of free credit monitoring through LifeLock to those affected.  Here are our thoughts:  Go to the state website on your own and locate this offer, just to be extra careful.

Here’s why:

Always be careful what unsolicited emails/texts you open with links to click on. While the state is sending out these notices with information to call, or a web link to click, we also received a secondary email claiming the same thing and we cannot confirm it came directly from the state. So please just make sure that if you choose to take the offer, you are doing so through the official state website ( before you go turning over any information willingly.

The Sheriff’s Office said to be smart and stay vigilant.

Gifts from an Absent Friend

By Teddy Allen


I learned life the hard way, I took all my knocks and lumps

But when I look back down the road at where I’ve been,

I can see that all the things I’ve done in this ol’ life have been more fun

’Cause I shared them with someone who was a friend.


 —  “A Friend,” written and recorded by Jerry Reed (and featured in the movie W.W. and the Dixie Dance Kings, which you should watch ASAP)


Few people if any enjoyed being themselves as much as Jack Brittain loved being Jack Brittain, or “Britt” as his friends called him, and he had more of those than you can find grains of sand and beer bottle tops at the Redneck Riviera.


This is the biggest weekend of the year for locals in my line of work; it’s the annual Louisiana Sports Writers Convention and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Celebration in Natchitoches, where Britt has served as unofficial mayor for decades. You can find out more about the weekend and how you can enjoy it at You can find out more about Britt by asking anyone in Natchitoches or in the LSWA.


A piece of work and then some, this guy.


So, it was a profound and unwelcome sadness when Britt, our LSWA brother, died two weeks ago at age 67 after a short and surprising illness.


He was the red on the candy cane, the helium in the balloon, the sunshine through any cloud.


His attachment to the LSWA was solid and eternal, even though Britt was a lawyer and financial planner. He didn’t write any stories. He was the story. 


He was so good at St. Mary’s that he’s in the high school’s Hall of Fame, then he lettered four years in football at Northwestern State before law school, but shoot, lots of people could do that. What set him apart was a heart and smile big as centerfield, his uncanny ability to see the best in people and the brightest side of things virtually all the time. He went around lettering every day in life, a seed-sower of joy and laughter and earthy charisma. 


One of those ‘girls want to ride in his boat, boys want to be his best buddy’ kind of dudes.


It’s hard to describe the impact he had on the LSWA and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame because we don’t have anything to compare him to. He was just always there, a part of, a calm in a sometimes-stormy sea of egos and chaos, a smile to calm the tide.


In 2017, Britt was the recipient of the LSWA’s most prized honor, the Mac Russo Award, given to an individual who “contributes to the progress and ideals of the LSWA.” It was my lucky and treasured honor to present it to him. If memory serves, I said something clever like, “Here Britt; sorry it took us so long. We’d give you a half-dozen of these if we could — and you’d deserve everyone.”


“Think where man’s glory most begins and ends,

And say my glory was I had such friends.” — W. B. Yeats


Contact Teddy at

Back to School Celebrated At Pelican Library

Last Saturday there was a “Back 2 School” picnic at the Pelican Branch Library.  There was so much fun for the kids.

Everyone enjoyed playing the glow in the dark games with Ms. Angelica.  Ms. Rena made ooey gooey slime.

The Library said, “Thanks to everyone that came out and enjoy those Splash Kingdom tickets before school starts back.”

Mansfield Rotary Club

The Club heard from fellow Rotarian and new Club V.P. Lisa Lobrano Burson about the prosecution side of the second Brian Horne murder trial. From jury selection and choosing among the many personality types, the challenges of sequestering all the selected members, to the “business of the trial”. 

Fascinating stuff especially since in attendance at the meeting were Rotary members and Judge at the first Horne murder trial, Robert Burgess, and lead Investigator on the case, Robbo Davidson.  It was fascinating to hear these three discuss the different challenges that arose in the trial and the fortunate way the Prosecution was able to use them.  We are all proud of the guilty conviction that the Jury arrived at after only a few minutes! 

The next Rotary meeting is 8/02/23 at the Genealogical Library in the Mansfield Female College for lunch.  They would love to have you join them!

A Scouting Report On Louisiana Sports Hall Of Fame Induction Celebration Fun

It’s almost showtime for the 2023 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Celebration Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in Natchitoches (except for Friday’s BOM Celebrity Bowling Bash in Alexandria), so it’s time to plan to take in as much fun as you can.

The most-asked question — can I still get tickets for the Saturday evening Induction Reception (from 5-6:30 at the Hall of Fame museum) and Ceremony (at 7 in the Natchitoches Events Center)?

YES. While the usual big turnout is coming, there is still time to go online at to purchase admission to the signature event. But don’t delay – it could sell out.

The reception provides an array of food stations with fare from not only local restaurants, but some from around the state, along with refreshments and music. It’s a chance to see new exhibits (the Kim Mulkey showcase, for example), new display items to celebrate the museum’s 10th anniversary, the just-installed Class of 2023 display cases, and to meet all of the new inductees and perhaps snap a selfie.

The Induction Ceremony at the neighboring Events Center kicks off promptly at 7 with the National Anthem, followed by the stirring Walk of Legends showcasing past Hall of Fame members returning, then introducing the Class of ’23, set to music from The Natural. The 12 inductions begin immediately after, featuring compelling video introductions followed by on-stage conversations with inductees – producing lots of laughter and some misty-eyed moments certain to create lasting memories.

Saturday evening is the only “dress up” event of the Induction Celebration. Blazers for the men and cocktail dress-style attire for the women are requested.

Otherwise, it’s casual for the rest of the festivities, starting with the free, open to everyone Thursday evening Welcome Reception from 5-7 at the museum. La Capitol Federal Credit Union will mark its 20th year presenting that signature event – again with food, refreshments and music, and the new inductees and their families having traveled in some cases almost 2,000 miles to celebrate the occasion.

There’s still room for bowlers to join in Friday’s BOM Celebrity Bowling Bash at Four Seasons Bowling Center in Alexandria. The doors open at 11:30 with lunch provided by Walk On’s, plenty of warm up bowling and music, and more mingling with inductees, their families, and other sports celebrities before they’re introduced and “competition” begins at 1. Again – sign up at

The biggest free event is Friday evening on the downtown Natchitoches riverbank stage – the Rockin’ River Fest Concert, from 6-10:30.

It’s family friendly. A free interactive kids zone presented by Louisiana Propane Dealers will include basketball, football, golf and science games for all ages to enjoy.

Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. & the Zydeco Twisters are back as the headline act. Dopsie has played the White House to the Jazz Fest, boogied with James Brown and John Fogerty, and wowed crowds all over, described as “Mick Jagger of the marsh” as “a party seems to break out whenever and wherever Dopsie and his band show up.”

The opening act is Jason Ashley & The Hot Sauce Band, featuring the Alexandria native and regional country music star playing hits from yesterday and today, an act popular around the Gulf Coast and all the way to Nashville.

If you want to beat the summer heat and enjoy a tasty collection of Louisiana foods and specialty refreshments, you can visit to snap up some of the few remaining $100 tickets to the VIP Taste of Tailgating presented by Hancock Whitney.

That party runs from 7-10 p.m. in the air-conditioned comfort of Mama’s Oyster House and Blues Room that will provide exclusive access to the 12-member 2023 Induction Class. They will also be introduced on stage at 9:15, just before a 10-minute fireworks show set to sports-themed music.

Saturday morning’s Junior Training Camp hosted by the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans at NSU’s Webb Wellness and Recreation Center has only a handful of free spots left for kids 7-17. Advance registration is required at

There’s no more room for Saturday’s Round Table Lunch downtown at The Venue. It’s sold out.

But there are plenty of other chances to see the Class of 2023:  Eli Manning, Alana Beard, Paul Mainieri, Matt Forte, Wendell Davis, Paul Byrd, Walter Davis, Ron Washington, Walter Imahara, M.L. Woodruff, and sports journalists Bruce Brown and Lori Lyons.

You’re invited to join the fun, starting Thursday evening in Natchitoches.

Sound of Freedom Powerfully Exposes Child Trafficking in the U.S.

By Royal Alexander

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

Edmund Burke

It’s not often we witness a jarring cultural phenomenon in our country.  The new documentary thriller, Sound of Freedom, is just that.

Actor Jim Caviezel—who first pricked our conscience with his graphic and riveting portrayal of Christ’s suffering in The Passion of the Christ—plays the lead role and was part of the team that pushed through many obstacles to produce the film five years ago, and ultimately to distribute it to theatres.   

“Sound of Freedom” is based on the true story of Tim Ballard and his mission to save children from the underground sex slave trade.   After working as a special agent for years at the Department of Homeland Security, Ballard quit his job and embarked on a mission to save child-trafficking victims.  Today, he runs the organization Operation Underground Railroad working with law enforcement to rescue children from some of the darkest recesses of our world.

The story involves the account of two young children—a brother and a sister—whose trusting father allows them to participate in a supposed “modeling” and “acting” opportunity during which the children are kidnapped and sold into child sex slavery.

The production marks the first dramatic crime story for Angel Studios which up till now has generally sponsored only Bible-based stories.  

Sadly, Ballard has stated that the United States has the number-one demand for child exploitation material and is the number one consumer of child sex in the world.   As such, “we’re thrilled that we have an opportunity to shine a light on what is the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the world,” he said.  $150 billion is made every year off the backs of slaves, including millions of children who are enslaved.  We’ve ranked in the top three for destination countries,” he added. “It’s the economy of pedophilia.”  (Fox News, Katie Pavlich on Jesse Watters Primetime, July 9, 2023).

It must sting for the major studios to realize that—none of them would agree to produce it—the film posted an impressive $40 million after six days of release and has now soared to over $100 million. 

But it wasn’t just rejected by Hollywood and the Left, it’s been smeared by it as a “dangerous conspiracy theory.”   In response to this, Ballard states, “pedophiles are salivating’ at media outlets ripping ‘Sound of Freedom’.”

The fact that Disney will release a movie about a girl getting pregnant by the devil in a one-night stand but Disney, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime all have refused to stream Sound of Freedom, should tell us everything we need to know.

Actor Dean Cain has asked “why is the movie being suppressed.”   He reasoned that the movie is receiving pushback from the mainstream press because “it’s ugly. People don’t want to talk about something that’s really ugly.  The idea that there are children who are sex slaves is crazy — and that are trafficked, that’s insane.  The idea that you know people just want to bury that, ‘I don’t want to see that, it doesn’t exist.’ Well, it’s here. It’s all over the United States. It’s all over worldwide.  It’s a multi-billion-dollar business.” (Newsmax, July 19, 2023).

Referencing America’s porous southern border as a major part of the problem, Caviezel stated that “when you don’t have a south border you don’t have a county; … a sovereign country has to have borders.”   Even the New York Times has reported that 85,000 unaccompanied minors have crossed our wide-open southern border and are now lost and unaccounted for somewhere in America.

How is this trafficking done?

Social media is the wide-open frontier for pedophiles. 

For example, Instagram, a hugely popular platform, uses algorithms that connect and promote the pedophile network.  How so? Because “the platform and its system of fostering communities with sets of narrow interests has helped guide users to illegal child sex content.”  (Wall Street Journal, 6/8/2023).

This is not a Republican or Democrat issue; it’s not a liberal or conservative position and it’s much more than simply a matter of perversion and immorality.  This is a matter of good and evil.

I encourage you to see the movie which concludes with the powerful admonition that “God’s children are not for sale.”

We all have an obligation to stand up and speak out about this heinous reality of American culture.

University Women Assist Uniform Giveaway

The Mansfield Branch of the National Association of University Women recently helped with a local giveaway of school uniforms.

The group posted, “We truly enjoyed working with United Methodist Share again for their annual uniform giveaway. It’s a blessing to be a blessing to so many families in our community.”

Men of Prayer August Meeting

The next meeting of Men of Prayer will be August 3rd at 6:30 pm at the Stonewall Community Center in Stonewall, Louisiana. 

Pastor Lovie Hunter, Senseless Favor Ministries in Mansfield, LA will be the guest speaker.  A local catering company will be cooking up something special.  Men of all ages welcome.  Food, Fellowship and God.

Get Back to School with 4-H

DeSoto Parish 4-H has planned a back to school event for August 19th.  It will be held at the David Means 4-H barn in Grand Cane beginning at 1:00 pm.

4-H office said, “We are so excited to kick off the groovy school year. Come by groovy school year for an ice cream social.”

Calls For Service

The DeSoto Sheriff’s Office is now issuing weekly listings of Dispatch Calls for Service.  These calls were received over the 7 day period July 14 through 21, 2023.  Total Calls 457.

Remembering Arlene Marion Pierce

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Arlene Marion Pierce, a beloved sister, wife, mother, aunt and grandmother.  Arlene peacefully departed this world on July 22, 2023, surrounded by her loving family.

Preceding her in death were her parents, Thena and Louie Peters; husband, Paul Pierce Sr.; daughter, Paula Suzanne Pierce and grandson, Chance Gregory.  She is survived by daughter, Carla Lucero and husband, Ronnie; son, Paul Pierce Jr. and wife, Mary; grandchildren, Landon Lucero, Jackson Pierce, and Molly Pierce, and numerous nieces, nephews and other relatives.

Born on December 23, 1946 in Pleasant Hill, LA, Arlene was the epitome of kindness, love and generosity.  She lived a life devoted to her family and brightened the lives of all who knew her. Arlene’s warmth and compassion extended far beyond the walls of her home, touching the lives of countless friends and acquaintances who were fortunate enough to cross paths with her.

Arlene’s heart was captured by her beloved spouse, Paul, whom she shared 56 wonderful years of marriage with. Together, they built a strong and enduring bond, exemplifying the true meaning of love and partnership. Their love was an inspiration to everyone around them and a testament to the power of commitment and devotion.

As an excellent homemaker, Arlene’s nurturing spirit was evident in the welcoming environment she created for her family. Her home was a place of laughter and comfort.  She poured her heart and soul into preparing meals that brought joy and contentment to all who sat at her table.

Arlene will be deeply missed, but her legacy will live on in the hearts of all who were fortunate to know her. She leaves behind cherished memories and countless lives touched by her presence.

Arrangements have been made at Rose-Neath Southside, 2500 Southside Dr., Shreveport, LA. Visitation will be held Thursday, July 27, 2023 from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m.  Her funeral will be held on Friday, July 28, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. in the chapel at Rose-Neath Southside, with a graveside service to follow at Forest Park East Cemetery, 3700 St. Vincent Ave. in Shreveport, LA.

Though we grieve the loss of a remarkable woman, we take solace in knowing that Arlene is now at peace, reunited with loved ones who have gone before her.


There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…

Notice of Death – July 26, 2023

Arlene Marion Pierce

Funeral will be held on Friday, July 28, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. in the chapel at Rose-Neath Southside.

Kerry Ricardo Patton

June 12, 1973 to July 9, 2023

Services will be Wednesday July 26, 2023.

Margaret L. Harris

2/25/1944 – 7/13/2023

Service was held Saturday, July 22, 2023 at Mary Evergreen Baptist Church Grand Cane, LA.

Jacoby Young

7/20/1990 – 7/8/2023

Service was Saturday, July 22, 2023 at Union Spring B. C. Mansfield, LA

The DeSoto Parish Journal publishes “Remembrances of Loved Ones” with unlimited words and a photo, as well as unlimited access – $70. The Remembrance will be included in the emails sent to subscribers.  Contact your funeral provider or Must be paid in advance of publication.

Horn Gets Death Penalty

Statement from the Office of the District Attorney:

Today, our endeavor to seek Justice has taken another step forward.  Today, a jury of ordinary citizens, performing an extraordinary duty, has determined that Brian Horn deserves the ultimate punishment for his deliberate cruelty to Justin Bloxom, his deliberate killing of Justin Bloxom.  Brian Horn, while trying to satisfy his sadistic sexual perversion for children, methodically lured 12 year old Justin from the safety and security of his friend’s home, by pretending to be a 15 year old girl.  The evidence proved that Justin fought his attacker valiantly, only to be suffocated and killed by Horn.

The death penalty is appropriate and necessary for this criminal and this crime.  The depths of Brian Horn’s depravity cannot be overstated.  The harm he has inflicted upon this family, this community, and society in general has unequivocally and appropriately provoked a righteous anger.

St. Thomas Aquinas has noted that the presence of evil SHOULD provide a righteous anger, AND, moreover, the absence of righteous anger in the presence of evil, constitutes a sinful insensibility.

This trial has been orderly, professional, and reasonably directed toward seeking the vindication of the heinous death of Justin Bloxom, a vindication of the damage Brian Horn, has done to this family, this community, and our society, in order to restore peace and faith in our system of criminal justice.

Because we as prosecutors have responsibilities for preserving justice for the whole of our community, it sometimes becomes necessary to use force to obtain the ends of Justice.  We take these responsibilities solemnly, seriously, prudently, and deliberately.  This is our duty.

While we have taken another step towards Justice, Justice has not yet been fully served.

On behalf of this office, Justin’s family, and all of DeSoto Parish, I wish to thank the jurors for their devotion to their difficult and awesome responsibility; the court system and law enforcement in Vernon Parish; the DeSoto Parish Sheriff’s Department, all of the other law enforcement departments and individuals, and our own court staff for each of your roles in this endeavor to seek justice.

July Narcotics Roundup

From the DeSoto Sheriff’s Office:

In an effort to protect those in our community with a weakness for dangerous narcotics and out of safety for our DeSoto Parish children, Sheriff Jayson Richardson will continue lead the effort to seek out, arrest, and charge those responsible for trafficking dangerous drugs within and into DeSoto Parish.  Our Narcotics Agents have made great headway in ensuring that our Parish remains a safe place to live, and we are grateful for all the hard work they and our K9’s put in each and every day.  Thus far in July, Narcotics Agents have made several arrests regarding those who wish to attempt the distribution of illegal and dangerous substances within DeSoto Parish.  As with previous posts, some investigations are ongoing and will most certainly yield further arrests in the near future.  The following have been booked into the DeSoto Detention Center, and charges are listed as follows:

Ronald Segura

52yo W/M of Logansport, La arrested 7/14/23

Distribution of Schedule II (Meth) with Intent

Possession of a Firearm by Convicted Felon

Possession of a Firearm in Presence of CDS

Second or Subsequent Offense

Quadrick Jones

39yo B/M of Mansfield, La arrested 7/11/23

Manufacture and Distributing Schedule II (Crack)

Possession of Schedule I (Marijuana)

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

Illegal Use of CDS in Presence of a Minor

Terrance Crump

46yo B/M of Mansfield, La arrested 7/11/23

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

Denise Guilbeaux

50yo W/F of Mansfield, La arrested 7/11/23

Possession of Schedule II (Crack)

Michael Jones

59yo B/M of Mansfield, LA arrested 7/11/23

Possession of Schedule II (Crack)

Megan Temple

38yo W/F of Mansfield, La arrested 7/05/23

Possession of Schedule II (Meth)

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

*CDS = Controlled Dangerous Substance

**To Be Continued