Record-breaking Christmas tree structure located in DeSoto Parish

Photo credit: Gavin Rivers

STONEWALL, La. – DeSoto Parish took home the title of the having the world’s tallest Christmas tree structure. Over 500 vehicles arrived at the DeSoto Parish Sheriff’s Office to watch fireworks, drink hot cocoa, and get their pictures taken with Santa Claus all with the “Spirit of DeSoto Tree” in the background.

The DeSoto Parish Sheriff’s Office added 10,250 LED lights to its 300-foot tall communications tower behind Stonewall Government Plaza.

“It went from a cool idea to we’re going to have the largest tree in the world,” Sheriff Jayson Richardson said.

Everything associated with transforming the tower into a Christmas tree is privately sponsored. Richardson credits businessman Perry Thompson, who is building his own Lumiere Christmas Experience in Stonewall, with doing most of the leg work on the project, from engineering to building the light setups.

Lights will stream down from the 28-story tower and spread out into the shape of a Christmas tree.

While there won’t be an official designation of the tower-turned-tree being the “current” tallest in the world, a quick Google search shows DeSoto’s will dwarf one in Indianapolis, Ind., that’s 284 feet tall. The title of tallest in the world at one time went to Brazil, which in 2009 had a Christmas tree structure standing 400 feet. But it was only a one-season attraction.

Various sponsors and donors have made the project possible. Richardson emphasized no public money has been spent on it.

The tree will be lit from dark til 10:30pm each night until the first week of January.

Source: KTBS

DeSoto Students of the Year announced

The Students of the Year Awards Program recognizes outstanding students who have demonstrated excellence in leadership, service, citizenship, academic and/or career and technical achievement. 

The 2023-2024 DeSoto Parish District Students of the Year are Maci Wagner, Katelyn Allen and Madison Magee.

Wagner is a fifth grader at North DeSoto Upper Elementary. Allen is an eighth grade student at North DeSoto Middle School. Magee is in her senior year at Logansport High School.

The school system commended the young ladies for their “unwavering commitment to service, exemplary leadership, and outstanding achievement truly exemplify the core values of making a difference and high performance in your schools!”

The students will represent DeSoto Parish at the zone level of the Student of the Year competition. 

NSU hires Division III head coach, former LSU player McCorkle as coach

HEADING TO NSU:  Blaine McCorkle guided a dormant Belhaven football program to a conference championship and NCAA playoff appearance, and will try to do the same for Northwestern State. (Photo courtesy Belhaven Athletics/Northwestern State)

By DOUG IRELAND, Journal Sports

New Northwestern State football coach Blaine McCorkle is unknown to virtually everybody invested in Demon football, except for one of NSU’s greatest players.

Former NFL quarterback Craig Nall couldn’t be more excited that his former LSU teammate has been hired to take over the program in Natchitoches.

McCorkle, 47, and his family will be introduced to supporters and the media at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the Stroud Room, located in the Donald G. Kelly Athletic Complex. He replaces Brad Laird, one of NSU’s all-time great players, who resigned Oct. 26 as NSU curtailed its 2023 season by cancelling its final four games in the aftermath of the shooting death of junior safety Ronnie Caldwell Jr.

Northwestern has not had a winning season in football since 2008, a 7-5 record. There have been two 6-6 finishes, and two winless seasons, in 2009 and this fall (0-6). Last year Laird’s team had a 4-2 Southland Conference record.

Nall, who earned a degree from NSU after leading the Demons to the FCS playoffs with a record-shattering 2001 season, is a good friend of McCorkle – who has been in coaching for 26 years, the last six bringing a championship to a downtrodden Division III program at Belhaven College in Jackson, Miss.

He took the Blazers from a two-win team the year ahead of his arrival to a nine-win season in 2023, with  an outright USA South Conference championship – the first such title in Belhaven program history – and the program’s first berth in the NCAA Division III playoffs.

In his final three seasons, McCorkle led the Blazers to a 24-7 overall record. The 17-4 mark across the 2022-23 seasons marked the most wins in a two-year span in program history and helped McCorkle earn three American Southwest Conference/USA South Coach of the Year awards, including the 2023 honor.

McCorkle inherited a program that had not won more than three games in a season since 2013.

McCorkle has been an assistant coach as an offensive line coach at six FCS institutions – Delaware, Richmond, Liberty, Tennessee Tech, Chattanooga and UT Martin. Twenty of his 26 seasons as a coach have come at those FCS programs.

“The opportunity to be back at the FCS level where I’ve spent the majority of my career is something I’ve wanted for a long time,” said McCorkle. “It is a pure level of college football that plays for the right reasons. I’m excited to be back at that level. I’m also excited for the challenge of rebuilding – not building – Northwestern State because Northwestern State has been there before. The campus has a lot to offer. The town has a lot to offer. I’m honored and humbled to have the opportunity to restore a program a lot of people take a lot of pride in.”

McCorkle interviewed for the McNeese coaching vacancy two years ago, when the Cowboys replaced current LSU assistant Frank Wilson with Valdosta State coach Gary Goff. Nall said McCorkle was eager to apply for the NSU job six years ago when Laird was promoted from within to replace Jay Thomas.

“I’m really happy and excited, not only for him and his family but for the university. Northwestern State’s getting a good guy,” said Nall, who lives in the Dallas area and operates a nationwide business tutoring high school and junior high quarterbacks.

McCorkle was a walk-on deep snapper on Gerry DiNardo’s LSU teams when Nall arrived as a highly recruited quarterback from Alexandria Senior High. Nall became involved in a three-way battle for the starting job at LSU with Josh Booty and Rohan Davey, weathered the Tigers’ coaching transition from DiNardo to Nick Saban and ultimately transferred to his parents’ alma mater, Northwestern, to play his senior season.

McCorkle finished playing in 1999 and began his coaching career at LSU as a student assistant, earning his degree in 2000 before Nall left. They have remained friends since.

“Blaine has done a great job rebuilding the program that he’s been at, really turned it around and established a winning culture there,” said Nall.

“He’s fully aware of the challenge that’s going to be in front of him. He cares about his players. He’s an awesome coach and he does things the right way.”

McCorkle has no other apparent connections to Northwestern but from his days at LSU and during his time at Belhaven, he’s very familiar with the lay of the land in Louisiana and its football network. Belhaven had 13 Louisiana natives on its roster this fall. Two of his assistants recruited central Louisiana and another recruited south Louisiana.

“He knows the state, knows it well. I think recruiting-wise, he’ll do good. It will take some time but if there’s anybody who can do it, he will. He’ll get in there, roll his sleeves up, and get to work reestablishing a culture of winning,” said Nall.

“(Coming back to Louisiana) played a huge part in it,” McCorkle said. “I’ve wanted to be a Division I head coach in Louisiana for 30 years now. I came here in August 1995 and fell in love with the people, the culture and the passion that is the state of Louisiana. A big part of that culture is college football.

“We’re in a great high school football state that has great areas to pull talent from. One thing I know about the people of Louisiana is you always know where you stand with them. I want to give the people of Natchitoches what they want, earn their trust and build something special for them.”

Contact Doug at


By Doug De Graffenried

I need to talk with my fellow Walmart shoppers.

First, I wish to commend those of you who shop online and sit in your car with your trunks up, waiting. You are my heroes! I have tried to figure out how to do that, and I have failed on multiple occasions. I gave up. However, you need to go inside and see what happens with all those employees shopping for you. There are multiple employees filling multiple orders simultaneously. Rule number one of Walmart shopping, you don’t get in their way! They can’t see you. They are super busy and moving fast. Always yield to the employees pushing the multi-basket blue carts. I will tell you a secret, these people know where everything is. If you can’t find something, ask them; but ask politely and quickly. They are in a hurry because someone is in the parking lot with the trunk open, waiting patiently.

Now, for our talk. I’m a guy. I shop like a guy. If I have three items to purchase, I’m going to shop quickly and efficiently. If I go into the store for dog treats, I am not going to go visit the hair care product section. When I check out, I have all the codes turned the right way so I can scan quickly. I like to shop and check out quickly. I don’t want to keep the family behind me waiting.

In the past couple of weeks, I have shopped for Thanksgiving. I have been sent with lists of specific items. Some of the food items are hard to find this time of year. Here is what I want to say to my fellow Walmart shoppers. It is hard to look for an item squirreled away on a top shelf, with some of you guys in the store.
Don’t go to Walmart to read. If you are a label reader, go online and read the labels there. C’mon people, there is no significant difference between Libby’s corn and Delmonte corn. Grab the corn and go. If you grabbed the wrong corn and it has too much sodium, well that is why God created colanders and rinse water. If you are reading labels on the vitamin aisle, you are abominable. The vitamins will not restore your hair, fix your joints, restore your hearing, or make you look twenty-five again. You have been duped, move on! There is nothing worse than two people with full carts standing back-to-back reading labels. We are waiting for you to finish so we can move past you.

Walmart is not the place to have your family reunion. I know that some of you have not seen each other for two weeks but having a family reunion at the end cap on the baking row is not pleasing to anyone. You are causing a traffic jam. The people wanting to turn on that aisle can’t. The people wanting to leave that aisle can’t. My friend is waiting for groceries in the parking lot, and you are holding up the Walmart shoppers. Say hi and move on! Agree to meet in the laundry basket section, no one ever shops there. You can talk all day. You can swap recipes and your list of ailments there.

Sorry to grouse, but you guys need to keep your heads down, grab your items, and go. Walmart is not the place for reading, reunions, catching up, or trying to decide. In Greek, Walmart means “grab it and go!” It is a place of commerce not communion.

The next time, I’m in Walmart waiting on all the people not heeding this great article. I’m going to smile and remember that we have entered the season of Advent. It is the church season of waiting. We are waiting for our Christ. I promise, now that I have groused, that I will be smiling knowing that you help me learn patience while waiting for Bethlehem’s baby.

Remembering Bobby Wayne Averitt

Funeral services celebrating the life of Bobby Wayne Averitt, 87, of Mansfield, Louisiana will be held 10:00 a.m., Wednesday, November 29, 2023, at Kilpatrick’s Rose-Neath Chapel, 943 Polk Street, Mansfield, Louisiana. Officiating the service will be Rev. Thomas Tuck, and Rev. Archie Owens. Interment will follow at Barber Cemetery, Mansfield, Louisiana. A visitation will be held on Tuesday, November 28, 2023, from 5:00 p.m. till 7:00 p.m. at the funeral home.

Bobby was born October 23, 1936, in Shreveport, Louisiana to Jeff and Bertie Averitt and entered into rest on Monday, November 27, 2023, in Mansfield, Louisiana.

Bobby was an ordained minister and enjoyed spreading God’s word. He was a retired school bus driver for DeSoto Parish for 10 years. He also worked at Brown and Root as a painter. He loved to fish and hunt, he loved to vacation with his wife in the Rockies. He was well known in his hometown of Mansfield as the Man in Black. Bobby was a member of the Trenton Pentecost Church where he worshipped when he could. He will be missed by all that knew him.

Preceding Bobby in death are his parents, Jeff and Bertie Averitt and brother, Douglas Averitt.
He is survived by his loving wife of 66 years, Lacy Averitt; son, William Averitt and wife Alice of Stonewall, Louisiana; daughter, Patricia Weaver and husband Ralph of Martin, Louisiana; sister, Dorothy Bailey of Bossier City, Louisiana; and granddaughter, Clare Averitt of Shreveport, Louisiana.

Honoring Bobby as pallbearers will be Mark Long, Eric Long, Albert Houston, Johnny Hasty, Lonnie Bloxom, and Colton Giles.

Tomato pre-order

The DeSoto Parish Extension Office will get more tomatoes this week from the NW Region Red River Research Station. They are taking pre-orders via email or phone. Please call 318-872-0533 or email with your order.  Tomatoes are $12 per 5 lb boat. 


By: Glynn Harris

Louisiana is in the throes of a major drought that has reduced palatable browse for deer; they are having to depend on less desirable food sources to survive. Forty-three-year-old Daniel Colvin, Bernice, is offering a 4 ½ acre smorgasbord of wheat, clover and turnips that virtually guarantee that when he sits on his stand, it’s almost a sure thing that he’ll see deer.

Colvin is an entrepreneur who has a variety of professions. He deals in real estate buying and selling, is a commercial fisherman, has a lawn service and is a consultant to property owners who want to provide the best opportunity for attracting and holding deer.

He has converted his own 1300 acres in Union Parish to a haven for deer and as a result, he has been successful in growing some impressive bucks. Colvin keeps cameras out year-round, provides minerals all year and improves the land by controlled burning and thinning where needed. He knows and keep records on virtually every buck on the property but there was one that provided a bit of a mystery.

“I’m really not sure if I knew about this particular buck,” Colvin said. “I knew I had a big one on the property and had a photo of one back in July in velvet before his rack fully developed, I knew was going to be special. Then he just disappeared, and I never had a picture of this particular buck after that.”

As dry as things have been, it had rained the night of October 29 and continued on into the next morning, finally ceasing on Monday October 30.

“I knew the deer would be moving after the rain and bucks were starting to make scrapes and chase does. At 3:30, I got in my box stand overlooking the food plot and actually ran off a doe and yearling as I got to the stand. Soon after getting settled in the stand, several small bucks showed up and were starting to harass does that had also arrived,” said Colvin.

Around 5:00 that afternoon, Colvin noticed one particular small buck had his eyes fixed on the adjacent woods. Suddenly, the buck bolted and ran from the food plot.

“I knew there had to be a bigger buck that had spooked this little buck, so I kept my eyes on the direction the buck was looking. Then I saw a big rack and then the body of an impressive buck as it stepped out. I knew it was a shooter for sure, so I got my 25.06 Remington up and five seconds later, I hit the trigger. The buck ran about twenty yards before falling at the edge of the food plot,” Colvin continued.

The buck sported an impressive rack of 11 points, had an inside spread of 19 2/8 inches, impressive main beams of 24 and 25 inches and 5-inch bases. He was determined to be 5 ½ years old and weighed in at 190 pounds.

Colvin took him to Greg Hicks, official Buckmaster scorer, and the tape came to 154 4/8 inches.
Although Colvin has a record of just about every deer on the property, this one, never actually identified, was a bit of a mystery that ended successfully.

LSU AgCenter shares mulching advice

Just say no to “Volcano Mulching.”

Mulch should never be piled up in a mound around the base of the trunk. This can lead to problems for the tree. Piling the mulch deeply around the base of the trunk exposes the trunk to dark, moist conditions. Decay organisms can take advantage and invade the trunk.

When mulching trees, the mulch should be spread out in a flat disk about 2 to 4 inches deep and pulled back slightly from the trunk. As the mulch thins out and decays, add more mulch as necessary.

Not only does this protect trees from string trimmers, but keeping the area mulched and free from grass encourages faster growth on young trees. Research indicates that in some cases, trees that were mulched grew twice as fast as trees that were not.

Source: LSU AgCenter Facebook page

This & That…Wednesday, December 29, 2023

Plan to have Breakfast with Santa on December 2 from 8-10am at the Clista Calhoun Center, 515 Louisiana Street in Mansfield. Bring your camera to capture the special moment. Contact Terry Byrd at 780-3775 for more information. 

Grand Cane will celebrate Christmas on Da Bayou with a Christmas parade and market on Saturday, December 2 from 8am to 2pm. The parade will start at 11am. Vendors are needed. Email for more information.

Tickets for the Grand Cane Tour of Homes are now available at Grand Cane Village Hall, Progressive National Bank, DeSoto Chamber/Tourist Office or any HGCA Board member. The tour is December 2 from 1-4pm. Cost is $20. 

The Pelican Library invites the public to their Open House on December 7 at 2pm. Door prizes, fun games, delicious food and an ugly Christmas sweater contest are planned.

Logansport quarterback Holloway transitioned from vicious linebacker to patient signal caller 

Logansport coach Kevin Magee puts his hand on quarterback/linebacker Steven Holloway. The senior, an all-state linebacker who has successfully transitioned to quarterback, has had to learn to tone down his defensive intensity when under center.
CREDIT: Hayley Farmer/Logansport High

By Matt Vines, The DeSoto Parish Journal 

LOGANSPORT – Steven Holloway has the look, and the feel, of a typical middle linebacker. The two-time all-stater is part hype man, part wrecking ball for the Logansport defense. 

But it’s been Holloway’s ability to mold into a calm and steady quarterback in his final high school season that’s boosted the Tigers to the Division IV Non-Select quarterfinals, where No. 1 seed Logansport (10-1) will host No. 8 Welsh (9-3) on Friday. 

“His biggest improvement is the mental and emotional aspect of playing quarterback,” said Logansport coach Kevin Magee, a prized quarterback who led Logansport to the 1995 state title. “When he transitioned to quarterback this spring, he still had that emotion he played with on defense. 

“There are a lot of quarterbacks who understand the position but can’t handle the emotions that come with this position. The guy who takes the snaps needs to be an even-keel leader, a steady voice in the huddle that his team believes in. That’s what being a quarterback is about instead of just playing the position.” 

The transition to the even-keeled offensive leader has been a process, but Magee said Holloway has slowly fit that mold. 

Early in the season, Holloway would go to the sidelines on defensive third downs or miss defensive series all together in an attempt to rein in his emotions. 

“It was a rough transition to begin with,” Magee said. “We were playing him about half the time, and then we’d sub him out on third downs so he could take a breath. 

“But lately, he’s handled that transition flawlessly. That emotion as a linebacker is what gets his motor going – he’s a competitive guy. He can still be that emotional leader on defense, and then he can switch to the calming and stable mindset as a quarterback on offense.” 

Reading a defense and making correct decisions has been a plus. 

Holloway feasted on the Franklin defense in a 58-12 second-round win by completing 15-of-18 passes for 296 yards and four touchdowns. 

Five different receivers caught passes this past week with Dakamden Flemon leading the way with four receptions with 121 yards and a touchdown. D’avery Robinson added two touchdown catches with Jakerrion Wilson supplying another. 

“He’s made more progress in the last three months than any kid I’ve ever tutored,” Magee said. “His buy-in is where it starts. 

“He’s mature, and you can count on him to make the right reads and check the ball down when he needs to. His putting our receivers in positions to get yards after the catch, and he’s been especially good on third down. That’s an area where we haven’t been as good in the past.” 

On the Welsh sideline, quarterback Jonavon Begnaud is the focal point as a passer and a runner. 

Running back Hayden Van Ness balances the Greyhound offense. 

“They are steady – not really explosive but they don’t solely rely on the run or pass,” Magee said. “They can throw it in certain situations that can put you in a bind.  

“There’s a lot of motion and eye candy with their offense, and they’ll use multiple formations. They have shovel passes and throwbacks and laterals, so we really have to pay attention on who is lined up where.”  





Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 for information that leads to the arrest of the attached suspect. Tips can be made anonymously. We don’t need your name, just your information. You can provide law enforcement with a tip by visiting, by calling 1-800-505-7867, or by filling out the Submit A Tip form in the “Forms & Tips” section of the DeSoto Parish Sheriff App. All suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

DPS names Executive Master Teacher of Student Learning

DeSoto Parish Schools announced the appointment of Mrs. Lainee Cosby as Executive Master Teacher of Student Learning.

As an educator for twenty-two years, nineteen in Desoto Parish, Mrs. Cosby has had the opportunity to impact the growth of teachers and students directly. She served DeSoto students as a math teacher at North DeSoto Middle School and became a TAP Mentor teacher in the first year of implementation in DeSoto Parish. After eleven years of serving as a Mentor, Mrs. Cosby moved into the Master teacher role. She continued her work with students and teachers at NDMS, which allowed her to serve on an Instructional Leadership Team as a school leader for sixteen years. Mrs. Cosby also recently worked to help create the LDOE Accelerate Math Curriculum, which is used to aid in closing learning gaps for students across the state.

Mrs. Cosby is married to Matt Cosby, and they have three daughters, Lori Cosby Bearden, Kylee Cosby, and Ella Cosby, all of whom are products of the DeSoto Parish school system.

Mrs. Cosby is ready to step into this role and continue the DeSoto mission of growing students: “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with educators in all DeSoto schools to continue to help grow and impact students.”

Saving Rebecca

Just before Thanksgiving each year, a turkey receives a presidential pardon in a ceremony at the White House called the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation.  Beginning in the 1870s, Rhode Island poultry dealer Horace Vose began sending turkeys to the White House for Thanksgiving dinner.  Following Horace’s death in December of 1913, other poulterers sent turkeys to the White House and the tradition has continued.  In the 1960s and 1970s, presidents occasionally pardoned a Thanksgiving turkey, but the presidential pardoning ceremony became a yearly tradition in 1984 when Ronal Reagan pardoned a 53-pound turkey called R.J., which was short for “Robust and Juicy.”

On November 26, 1926, Vinney Joyce of Nitta Yuma, Mississippi, sent his Thanksgiving “table delicacy” eventually named Rebecca to the White House chef.  President Calvin Coolidge considered his thanksgiving meal as he eyed Rebecca.  After a little consideration, Calvin decided to pardon Rebecca.  At first, Rebecca was kept in a crate in the White House’s warm cellar.  For some reason, Calvin was unable to stop thinking about the intended Thanksgiving entree.  Within a short time, Calvin moved her from the cellar up to the living quarters of the White House.  First Lady Grace Coolidge took to Rebecca as well.  They found Rebecca to be tame, lively, cunning, and friendly. 

Rebecca quickly became an official presidential pet.  While the first family had dogs and a cat which were kept in the White House kennel, Rebecca had pens inside the White House and on the south lawn of the White House.  The president, first lady, and Rebecca were almost inseparable.  In the 1920s, radio was the most popular form of home entertainment.  As the president sat listening to his favorite radio shows by the fireside, Rebecca sat comfortably on his lap.  Within a couple of weeks, the president and first lady had trained Rebecca to walk on a leash.  On her collar was inscribed, “Rebecca.”  Calvin took Rebecca for daily walks.  Grace took Rebecca to numerous events, especially where children were present to show off the pet.  On Easter Sunday, 1927, the first lady took Rebecca to the annual Easter Egg Roll.  The crowd of 30,000 shrieking children and clicking of the photographers’ cameras were too much for Rebecca, and she clawed at the first lady and a couple of the children.  Once she was returned to the White House, Rebecca returned to her normally calm nature.  Rebecca often accompanied the president and first lady in their limousine on rides throughout the capital.  Rebecca even appeared in the president’s 1926 Christmas photo.

Having Rebecca as a presidential pet was sometimes trying.  The White House staff nicknamed Rebecca “Houdini” due to her ability to escape any enclosure.  Rebecca often scratched and damaged curtains, rugs, carpets, and furniture in the White House.  On June 7, 1927, Rebecca was left unattended in her pen on the White House lawn.  While no one was looking, Rebecca escaped and spent two hours stealthily exploring the neighborhood around the White House while attachés desperately searched for her.  Finally, they located Rebecca hiding in a tree.  They tried to coax her down from the tree, but Rebecca refused.  Finally, a local electrician climbed the tree and retrieved Rebecca.  Despite a few naughty incidents, Rebecca was still considered to be the president’s “most amiable pet,” and on those matters the smitten president remained true to his moniker, “Silent Cal.”   

It is unlikely that we will ever see a White House pet that could capture national interest such as Rebecca did in the late 1920s.  Unfortunately, laws in the District of Columbia prevent animals such as Rebecca from being kept as pets, even presidential pets.  Rebecca, the intended Thanksgiving entrée which was pardoned by President Calvin Coolidge and became a beloved presidential pet, was not a turkey, but a raccoon.     

Happy Thanksgiving!!!


1.      Buffalo Evening News, November 27, 1926, p.1.

2.     The Evening Sun (Baltimore, Maryland), November 27, 1926, p.9.

3.     Buffalo Evening News, December 1, 1926, p.1.

4.     Fort Worth Record-Telegram, December 25, 1926, p.7.

5.     The Brooklyn Daily Times, June 8, 1927, p.2.

6.     Betty C. Monkman, “Pardoning the Thanksgiving Turkey,” White House Historical Association, 2019.

Treasure hunting at Mansfield park

Have you ever wanted to go treasure hunting Geocaching style? Now you can! Head on over to the Mansfield State Historic Site and give it a try.

Geocaching is a worldwide scavenger hunt where you use GPS to find ‘caches’ around the world. That means the only tool you really need is your cell phone. Some caches are very cleverly hidden. They can be large or small.

To get started you will need to download the Geocaching app then head over to the park. Once there,  (there is an admission fee) you will get the coordinates from the park rangers and then you’re off to find treasures. Happy Hunting!



Catching up on non-football fall sports in DeSoto Parish 

By Matt Vines, The DeSoto Parish Journal 

Football isn’t the only sport going on in DeSoto Parish. 

Here are some highlights from the start of basketball season along with other fall sports. 

Class B and Class C schools, which don’t play football, are nearly a month into their basketball seasons. 

The Stanley boys (3-7) recorded their most dominant win yet when they handled Dodson 56-25 on the final day of the Weston Tournament.  

The Stanley girls (2-8) also recorded their biggest win of the season in a 63-23 victory against Dodson on the final day of the Weston Tournament. 

The North DeSoto girls are 2-2 in the early going after dismantling Shreveport foes Byrd (52-13) and Calvary Baptist (58-15). The Lady Griffins lost to Arcadia and an out-of-state opponent in their last two contests. 

The Mansfield boys are still looking for their first win after a challenging early schedule. The Wolverines dropped the opener to Southwood before falling to Barbe and Pineville in the Natchitoches City of Lights Tournament earlier this week. 

The Mansfield girls are in the same boat, starting 0-4 in a daunting slate in the Parkway and Natchitoches Central tournaments. The Lady Wolverines nearly knocked off Ruston in its closest loss. 

The Logansport girls dropped its season-opener to Converse, 61-56. 

North DeSoto soccer have winning records early

The North DeSoto boys started the season 2-1 with wins against Grace Christian (3-2 score) and South Beauregard (3-0). 

The Griffins host West Monroe on Nov. 28 before hosting its own tournament with North Caddo and Union Parish on the docket on Dec. 2. 

On the girls side, North DeSoto is off to a 2-1-1 start through four games. 

The Lady Griffins disposed of Grace Christian and St. Frederick by scores of 1-0, tied Neville 1-1 and dropped a 3-0 decision to Evangel. 

Mansfield volleyball makes playoffs 

Mansfield volleyball was the only DeSoto Parish squad to make the playoffs, earning the No. 27 seed in Division IV. 

The Lady Wolverines lost in the opening round to No. 6 seed Pope John Paul II earlier this month. 

Mansfield finished with an 8-13 record. 

Do you have any storylines, stats or rosters from DeSoto Parish sports? Send Matt Vines an email at

A Letter to Heaven

Blessed does not even begin to describe how fortunate I have been during my lifetime. Not everyone gets the opportunities I was given to grow up in an East Texas community like Mt. Pleasant. My journey has been one of love, challenges, and commitment from a couple who, unable to have children of their own, decided to take on the role of being parents to a young boy who had all kinds of issues. I was a child trying to overcome so many learning deficiencies like Dyslexia and an attention span that was beyond the word short. But every successful person has someone who laid the foundation that allowed them to have success. For me that was Laverne and Loyd Graf, Jr.

I was born on March 7,1961, in Richmond, Texas just south of Houston, to a mother who had just remarried and had a history of not being very responsible. My biological dad (who I never met) had nothing to do with me and never attempted to reach out and make a connection. By the age of five, I was literally running the streets till all hours of the day and night. Everyone knows or has a kid that’s the so-called neighborhood “brat.” I was that annoying kid who had zero accountability as I ran foot loose and fancy free.

After struggling through the first grade and basically failing the first half of the year, my Aunt Laverne and Uncle Jr. entered my life and completely turned my life around. Below is a letter to Heaven I’m writing to acknowledge how thankful I am for their love and support which has led to my success as a person and as an athlete. By the age of ten, they legally became Mom and Dad. Here’s my letter to them….

Dear Mom & Dad,

I don’t even know where to start other than from the very beginning when you and Dad decided to make a difference by taking on a huge challenge of a young boy who had all kinds of issues. My issues ran deep as a lost young boy, but you felt I was worth saving and took on the huge unselfish and challenging responsibility of turning my life around.

Your guidance and direction were very much needed, but more importantly was the love you gave me. This was a love I had never felt before but knew was something I truly needed. You helped me become a more confident young man and to believe in my abilities in order to have success in life. You saw at an early age that God had blessed me with a special gift athletically and did everything you could to help me develop that talent.

Mom and Dad, just recently I was inducted into the Mt. Pleasant High School ISD Hall of Fame. As much as I wanted you to be there, a few tears fell that night as I felt your presence. Without both of you, this great honor never would have been possible. You sacrificed your time and money to support me and my dreams. There were. the many hours and days of taking me to a practice and sitting in a parking lot waiting for me to get through or driving all across the state of Texas following and encouraging me and my teammates to be the best we could be. Many times, you humbled me and brought me back down to earth when I got the big head. Mom, you especially had a way of making me realize that I was not any bigger or better than anyone of my teammates.

You both taught me the value of hard work and good work ethics. If you want to achieve your dreams, you must put in the time. To both of you I say thank you! Thank you for taking on the challenge of adopting and raising a young boy who faced so many obstacles. Any award or honor I have received is an honor and an award for both of you!

From the bottom of my heart, thank you and I look forward to the day we will once again be together chasing our Heavenly dreams. I love both of you and I’m so thankful for the day you drove to Houston in 1968 and picked up a young boy looking for hope and someone who cared.

Love and miss you!

It’s amazing what can be accomplished by anyone who has the blessing of being raised by good parents who love and support their children. If you have parents of this caliber, be thankful as you’re truly blessed. This is such a special time of year with Thanksgiving approaching and is the perfect time to reflect on the blessings that have come your way. I would like to wish and thank each and every one of those who take the time to read my articles each week a happy Thanksgiving!

Steve Graf

LSU Vet Med wants to remind pet owners to be mindful about holiday hazards.


Keep your pets healthy and safe during the holidays

BATON ROUGE—Holidays bring families and friends together, but can also mean potential hazards for pets. Table foods, ornaments, and other holiday items can be harmful to cats and dogs. Every year veterinarians at the LSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital see an increase in a variety of digestive diseases during the holiday season.

The holidays are a great time to cook with and enjoy chocolate; however, chocolate is very toxic to pets and can cause gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and neurologic disease including vomiting, rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, overexcitation, and seizures. If you think your dog may have ingested chocolate, signs to watch for include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, agitation, increased thirst, an elevated heart rate and in severe cases, seizures

Table food can cause dogs to suffer from acute gastroenteritis (an inflammation of the stomach and intestines) or pancreatitis. In both diseases, dogs experience severe vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and listlessness. Bones may lead to obstructions in the esophagus, the stomach, or the intestine and lead to severe digestive signs. Furthermore, grapes, raisins and onions are foods that dogs and cats should not receive. They are toxic to pets and can cause potentially fatal diseases, such as acute kidney failure, anemia, or seizures. Most ornamental plants (e.g., poinsettias, mistletoes, holly, etc.) can cause stomach upset.

Decorating your home is a lot of fun, but not if you pets consume any of it. Many decorations usually involve electrical cords, so please check to make sure that your pets are not chewing on them, as electric shock may have devastating consequences. Also, some pets may try to eat batteries, so please make sure that they are put away safely.

The weather in December and January can be quite chilly even in Louisiana. So, please remember to bring your outside pets inside overnight if a hard freeze is forecast.

If your pet becomes sick or if you think that it may have ingested something harmful, contact your veterinarian immediately. Delays in seeking veterinary help may seriously complicate the problem. If your pet requires medical care after-hours, you can bring your pet to the LSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital on Skip Bertman Drive; the hospital is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and remains open even during holidays. Please call 225-578-9600 or go to for more information about the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

Other good resources are the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control at or the Pet Poison Helpline Help is available through these websites and their respective phone numbers 24 hours a day.

Consider gifting your pet with pet insurance this holiday season. There are a variety of options that suit many different family situations: Please help make this a safe and happy holiday season for all of the members of your family.

About LSU Vet Med: Bettering lives through education, public service, and discovery

The LSU School of Veterinary Medicine is one of only 33 veterinary schools in the U.S. and the only one in Louisiana. LSU Vet Med is dedicated to improving and protecting the lives of animals and people through superior education, transformational research, and compassionate care. We teach. We heal. We discover. We protect. 

Media Contact

Ginger Guttner, APR

Communications Manager

LSU School of Veterinary Medicine


A Thanksgiving Reflection

As we enter Thanksgiving week it may benefit us to take a deep breath and realize that although this past year was at times difficult, we have made it. We have persevered through another year and that is commendable, in and of itself.

I always try to remind myself of something I heard years ago (I don’t recall the author) regarding our blessings as Americans. When asked how he was doing, this man replied “well, I was born in America, and I have my health, so I feel like I’ve already won the lottery.”

I thought it was a great response and perspective!

Our recently passed Veterans Day makes me grateful not only for our current military heroes but also for those who were grievously wounded and those 1.1 million American service men and women since the Revolutionary War to the present day who died defending America, placing on the altar of freedom that “last full measure of devotion.”

And for what was this enormous sacrifice made?

For the defense and preservation of the freedom and liberties we often take for granted. These fundamental rights include the ability to speak out and peacefully express our opinions—to one another and to our government; to defend ourselves in court when we are accused of a crime; to arm ourselves under the 2nd Amendment so we may protect ourselves and our families against crime—and even, according to our Founders’ intent, from an unjust U.S. government; and to pray and gather as millions of us will do with our loved ones on Thanksgiving Day.

We are thankful that our Declaration of Independence remains the “promise” of America and that through our Constitution, as simple as it is profound, we as a Nation also remain dedicated to the continued “fulfillment of the promise” of America. The Declaration’s transcendent recognition of both our intrinsic human value and that our rights come not from government but from God: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights and that among them are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

It’s true America must continue to grapple with and solve many challenges that face our country. We will need to overcome the self-inflicted economic pain and international vulnerabilities directly caused by our government’s breathtakingly poor policy choices, along with other struggles. Yet, I am encouraged at the thought of the tremendous talent and ingenuity of the American entrepreneur and the stunning ability of the free market and free people to adapt to tough times, as we have so many times in American history.

In his Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789, President George Washington declared:

“…it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor … I recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.” (

In both his first and second Thanksgiving Day addresses, President Reagan echoed Washington’s beliefs.

In his 1981 Thanksgiving Day Address to the American people, President Reagan, for whom my brother Tom worked in the White House at this time, reminded all Americans that God, not government, is the source of the multitude of national blessings bestowed upon all Americans, and that charity toward one another is engrained upon our national soul.

President Reagan pointed out that “Long before there was a government welfare program, this spirit of voluntary giving was ingrained in the American character.”

In his second Thanksgiving Day message in 1982, President Reagan said that “I have always believed that this anointed land was set apart in an uncommon way, that a divine plan placed this great continent here between the oceans to be found by people from every corner of the Earth who had a special love of faith and freedom.”

This week I hope we are able to unplug from social media and other distractions and reconnect ourselves with our families, our faith, and personally and publicly reaffirm what should be our enormous gratitude for the abundant blessings that all Americans have received from above.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Stonewall Branch Library Receives Technology Upgrades from Southwestern Energy

November 22, 2023
Paul Pratt, 318-540-9282

STONEWALL, LA – Much-needed technology upgrades arrived at the DeSoto Parish’s Stonewall Branch Library thanks to a generous donation from Southwestern Energy (NYSE: SWN), the organizations announced today. Two-dozen 24-inch monitors monitor upgrades will replace the current 12-inch monitors, providing users with access to enhanced internet and technologies.

“This is the second donation that SWN has made to provide our local communities with access to upgraded technology and it is just as rewarding the second time around,” said Sean Burke, SWN’s Haynesville Area Director. “The DeSoto Parish Library offers so many services across multiple communities and being able to give back in this way is allowing us to have an impact on so many Louisiana residents.”

The DeSoto Parish Library offers a variety of services to community members, including many that rely on available updated technology. These include computer courses, exam proctoring, public meeting rooms and more.

“We’re grateful to have received this generous donation from Southwestern Energy and know it will allow us to serve our residents for years to come. Providing this access to new monitors for residents creates a new excitement to learning and expanding their education or research and is something we’re excited to provide them,” said Bill Smith, DeSoto Parish Library Public Service Administrator.


About Southwestern Energy

Southwestern Energy Company (NYSE: SWN) is a leading U.S. producer of natural gas and natural gas liquids focused on responsibly developing large-scale energy assets in the nation’s most prolific shale gas basins. SWN’s returns-driven strategy strives to create sustainable value for its stakeholders by leveraging its scale, financial strength and operational execution. For additional information, please visit

About DeSoto Parish Library

The DeSoto Parish Library is a service institution which seeks to inform, educate, entertain and culturally enrich the lives of all people, from early childhood to senior citizens, through the use of books and other materials, technological innovations, facilities and professional services. For additional information, please visit

This & That…Friday, November 24, 2023

Tonight is the night to help make history! Head to Stonewall for the lighting of the World’s largest Christmas tree structure at 6:30pm. It will take place at Stonewall Government Plaza, 1746 US-171. 

Ducks Unlimited Banquet will be held Thursday, December 7 at the Clista A Calhoun Center in Mansfield. Doors open at 6pm. Contact Cody Love for tickets at 318.617.6541.

Enjoy a visit to downtown Logansport this Christmas season during the Holiday Stroll on December 14. All the shops are decorated for the holidays as a backdrop to all the amazing lights in Logansport. Most of them carry locally made salsa, jams & jellies and so much more. Perfect Christmas gifts. Come shop until 8:30pm and stroll down to the riverbank to enjoy the beautiful Christmas lights along the Sabine River.

Mansfield State Historic Site will present Christmas On the Homefront December 16 from Taking a trip back to the holiday season during the American Civil War, visitors to Mansfield State Historic Site will learn about the Christmas traditions of the era and how families of Civil War soldiers celebrated the yuletide season with stories, songs, and food! Period holiday sweets such as gingerbread cookies, peppermint sticks, molasses taffy, hot chocolate, and chicory coffee will be available for sampling, as well as a demonstration of how these items were made in a 19th-century kitchen. Admission is $4.00 per person age 4-61; seniors 62 and over and children 3 and under are free. For more information, call (318) 872-1474 or (888) 677-6267, or visit our website at

Keatchie Heritage Foundation presents Christmas Musicale on December 17 at the Keatchie Presbyterian Church, 9548 Hwy 5, Keatchie at 6pm. Visit for more information. 

Burson wins Clerk’s office; other election results

In more than a decade, the DeSoto Parish Clerk of Court’s Office will have a new leader. Lisa Lobrano Burson defeated Jeremey Evans as Clerk of Court in the November 18 election. Burson secured 52% of the vote to Evans 48%. Voter turnout was a little over 34%.

Burson promised voters a commitment to bringing transparency and accountability to the clerk’s office ensuring all public records and office spending will be open for inspection to the citizens. She also assured voters that if elected, the job of the Clerk of Court will be to serve citizens, to perform the functions sworn to uphold, and to not be an obstructionist to transparency.

Burson was endorsed by many of the parish’s elected official, state lawmakers and fellow primary challengers. Bruson promised citizens, “As your next Clerk of Court, I will ensure that your rights as a public citizen will be honored and you will always be served with courtesy and respect.”

Evans’ campaign was marred by controversy stemming from his arrest for two counts of electioneering in connection with voting in nursing homes in October. He posted pictures on social media showing him at a local nursing home with campaign literature after a state-imposed deadline. 

Other races on the ballot included four Parish Police Jury seats. Winners are District 1B Bubba Clark, District 4B Jeri Burrell, District 4D Trina Boyd-Simpson, and District 6 Rodriguez Dale Ross. The Desoto Parish School Board had two bond proposals for additions and improvements, one for Logansport and the other in North DeSoto. Logansport’s passed while North DeSoto’s was defeated.

In a multi-parish race, Republican Stacey Melerine beat out Democrat Emma Shepard for District 4 BESE. The seat was left vacant by Melerine’s husband, Michael Melerine, who won a State Representative seat in October.

In statewide contests, Nancy Landry bested “Gwen” Collins-Greenup for Secretary of State. Liz Baker Murrill will take over as the new Louisiana Attorney General beating Lindsey Cheek. John Fleming handily beat Dustin Granger for State Treasurer. All amendments passed with the exception of Amendment 4.

I am committed to bringing TRANSPARENCY and ACCOUNTABILITY to this office. As they should be, all public records and office spending will be open for inspection to the citizens! We will not try to hide anything the public is allowed to view. The job of the Clerk of Court is to serve citizens, to perform the functions they are sworn to uphold, and not be an obstructionist to transparency.

DeSoto Parish School Board share bond election results

Voters residing in parts of DeSoto Parish participated in a November 18 election for two separate bond propositions. Districts 1 (Logansport) and 2 (North DeSoto) had questions on the ballot with proposals to modernize facilities, upgrade safety and security, and construct a new school to address rapid growth.

Voters in Logansport (District no. 1) approved a $23 million building bond proposal focused on the safety, security, and modernization of current facilities. Unofficial vote counts were 470 in favor and 430 against, with 900 total voters participating in the election.

Because the bond was approved, the plan can move forward to construct a central corridor with secure access points, provide updates to the stadium and gymnasium area, and add spaces that will eliminate the need for mobile classrooms and provide more effective and efficient spaces for programming.

The major renovation to the main concourse, known as Tiger Central will tie the buildings together in a modern and supportive environment that can be used by the community and create a sense of pride in the school. Funds will also be used to eliminate the need for mobile classrooms and improve safety, security, and preschool programming.

“This plan is really all about making necessary changes to our school facilities that will serve our students and provide safe and modern spaces for years to come,” said Superintendent Clay Corley. “Our community really came together around our students and showed their Tiger pride.”

Voters in North DeSoto (District no. 2) rejected a $130 million building bond proposal focused on providing a modern learning environment with small class sizes, future-focused programming, and space to accommodate the anticipated growth in the area. Unofficial vote counts were 873 in favor and 1,781 against, with 2,654 total voters participating in the election.

Because the bond was rejected, schools in District 2 will continue to face challenges due to space. Additions made in 2014 at the upper elementary and middle schools are now full, and because of spacing concerns, the district will be unable to implement the small class sizes that are seen in other parts of the parish.

NDHS was built in 1980 when the district had 1,028 students, with additional facilities added in subsequent years to accommodate a growing population. The four North DeSoto schools are currently serving more than 2,700 students, and the projected enrollment for 2027 expects nearly 1,000 additional students. Current facilities will be unable to accommodate this type of growth, so the next step is exploring other options.

“We are certainly disappointed in the outcome, but there is a common goal in the community of wanting what is best for our students,” said Superintendent Clay Corley. “As a public school system, we don’t turn students away and will continue to provide an amazing educational experience even with the challenges that our limited capacity in our facilities provides. We saw a lot of outdated and incorrect information being shared in the community, so we will continue our efforts to share the real story of our schools and the challenges we are facing.”

The Board will begin to work to review the reasons the plan was rejected and will work to develop another path forward to address the rapid growth in our community. Due to rising costs and projected inflation, the $130 million project would cost $140 million if started in 2026. Because of the need and scope of the plan, a proposal will be on a future ballot for voters to consider.

The DeSoto Parish School Board will continue to communicate and collaborate through the next steps in the process.