Arcadia Lady Hornets are going to the Marsh Madness semi-finals

Final score of the quarterfinal game against Homer.

By Paige Nash

The Arcadia Lady Hornets are going to the LHSAA’s Marsh Madness semi-finals after winning their game against the Homer Pelicans last night, 56-42. The semi-finals will kick off on February 27 at the University Center in Hammond, La. The Lady Hornets will be going head to head with the Oakdale Mustangs who won their quarterfinal game yesterday evening against White Castle, 54-31.

Also, advancing to the Division IV (Non-select) semi-finals are the Oak Grove Tigers who beat LaSalle in their quarterfinal game, 35-26. They will be playing the winner of the East Beauregard vs. Lakeview game. 

It was a fight to the finish battling for the Division V (Non-select) title, the Gibsland-Coleman Lady Bulldogs fell short by one point of advancing to the semi-finals. They lost their game last night against Florien, 53-52. 

All five Bienville Parish boys’ teams will be playing their bi-district match ups tonight. 

Saline will be playing their bi-district match for the LHSAA Boy’s Basketball Play-off Division V (Non-Select) against Quitman High School. The game will begin at 6 p.m. at Jonesboro-Hodge High School. 

Also playing for the Division V title, the Castor Tigers will be going up against Hornbeck High School at Hornbeck at 6:30 p.m.

The Gibsland-Coleman Bulldogs earned a bye week and will be playing the winner of Holden vs. Bell City at Regionals to be held on February 28th. 

Competing for the Division IV (Non-select) title, the Arcadia Hornets will play Kentwood High School at Home tonight at 6:30 p.m.

The Ringgold Redskins will be taking on the Block Bears at Home at 6 p.m. Faculty and staff are asking for students to show support for their fellow classmates by paying $1 to wear red and camouflage the day of the game. 

Bienville Lumber hosting job fair

In mid 2021 the Hunt Forest Products and Tolko Industries Ltd. (Tolko) announced that they would be building a $240 million, state-of-the art Sawmill in Bienville Parish, near Taylor, La. Construction began in early 2022. They are expecting to begin operations this year.

The sawmill will employ approximately 60 people at first and then approximately 130 when it begins operating at full capacity.

They are currently in the process of starting the hiring process for the new plant. They will be hosting a job fair on March 7 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Northwest Louisiana Technical Community College- Minden Campus.

Hiring representatives will be present to conduct onsite interviews for job seekers. They are asking that you please bring a resume to the fair.

Careers being hired for include administrative, maintenance and mill positions at all levels. They are looking to fill positions for electricians, millwrights, operators, technicians, mechanics, supervisors and more.

The sawmill will consume:

  • 1.3 Million Metric tons of logs annually
  • 40,000 loads of logs annually
  • 800 loads of logs per week
  • 80-90 loads of residuals per week

The forest resource surrounding Taylor, LA is primarily comprised of southern yellow pine, with a smaller component of oak/hickory and oak/gum/cypress types.  Southern yellow pine forest types cover 53% of the total timberland area while hardwood and mixed hardwood-conifer forest types cover the remaining 47%.

Facts about the new sawmill:

  • Location:  1643 Highway 80, Gibsland, LA; site of the former Weyerhaeuser Taylor Sawmill
  • Acreage: 255 acres, including the existing Taylor sawmill site and adjacent timber land
  • Construction Start: First Quarter of 2022
  • Estimated Completion and Operation: Second Quarter of 2023
  • Cost: Approximately $240 million
  • Employees: 60 at initial operation; 130 at full operation
  • Indirect Jobs: 300+during construction
  • Average wage: Close to $20 per hour
  • Production Capacity: 320 million board feet annually
  • Timber Requirements: 1.3 million tons annually
  • Log Dimensions: Maximum butt diameter: 20 inches, Minimum tip diameter: 6 inches. Maximum log length: 65 feet, Minimum log length: 20 feet.
  • Workforce Training: Louisiana Department of Economic Development FastStart workforce development program, in coordination with Bossier Parish Community College
  • Ownership: 50/50 joint ownership between Hunt Forest Products of Ruston, LA, and Tolko Industries Ltd. of Vernon, British Columbia.  Hunt will manage and operate the mill day-to-day.

High School Seniors Encouraged to apply for Bienville Parish Sheriff’s Scholarship

The Louisiana Sheriff’s Scholarship Program for Academic Year 2022-2023 is now underway.

Bienville Parish Sheriff John Ballance will award one $1,000 scholarship to a deserving Bienville Parish student who has displayed excellence in education. Applicants must be permanent residents of the parish to be eligible. 

The scholarship must be utilized at an institution for higher learning within the state of Louisiana. Applicants must plan to enroll as a full time, undergraduate student.

Applications are available at any high school counselor’s office and at the Bienville Parish Sheriff’s Office. Applications must be submitted to the Sheriff’s Office by April 1, 2023 to be eligible for consideration. The winner will be announced on May 1, 2023. 


CHS St. Jude Math-a-thon

By Paige Nash

Castor High School just wrapped up their annual St. Jude Math-a-Thon. This year students from grades Kindergarten to eighth grade raised a total of $2,037.00 for the children at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“We have had several students and children from our community that have been diagnosed with cancer and were treated at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital,” said CHS teacher and St. Jude Math-a-Thon Coordinator Charlene Hammett. “We at Castor High School work hard each year to raise as much money as we can to help support this hospital.”

The students participate by working on math problems in a ‘Funbook’ and get sponsors and donations for the problems that they solve. This year the students were able to gather donations from February 6- 23.

“The students that worked as a team to raise the most money were Jane Austin and Caroline Hand. These sisters worked extra hard to help raise money for the children and St. Jude,” said Hammett.

Together the pair were able to raise $555.00.

Mrs. Hammett would like to thank everyone from the Castor community and beyond who helped support these 12 participating students and this worthy cause.

Crawford Elementary Black History Celebration event today

Crawford Elementary School will be hosting their annual Black History Celebration today at 9:30 a.m. in the Crawford Gymnasium.

Arcadia Movers and Shakers- Mayor O’landis Millican, Bienville Parish Superintendent William Wysinger and Chief of Police Cierra Murphy will be hosting the event. Students will be making presentations.

“The students will make presentations on the local history makers and other African American who have contributed to our black history,” said Crawford Elementary School Principal Edwin Mason.

Parents are encouraged to attend the event, but if you are not able to attend in person you can tune in to the live stream on the Crawford Elementary Facebook page.

LDWF: Best to leave suspected injured or orphaned birds undisturbed

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) wants to remind the public to leave suspected injured and orphaned birds alone and undisturbed.

It is best to refrain from intervening in the normal fledgling process and become familiar with common behaviors of fledgling birds, young birds who have grown too large for the nest and need room to stretch/flap their wings and practice flight.

Each year LDWF receives calls from concerned citizens who have found what they believe to be abandoned birds. It is against the law to capture, transport or possess birds listed on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Migratory Bird Treaty Act list and other wildlife. Generally, birds and other wildlife are better off left where they are found.

It is not uncommon to find young birds away from their nests during the spring and summer as they learn to fly. Young birds can be found hopping on the ground or in shrubs, fluttering their wings and may appear to be in distress. In reality, the young bird is continuing to be fed by its parents and is simply practicing for flight. If left undisturbed, adult birds will call and wait for a response from their young and provide the necessary care for the fledging during this process.

There are cases where intervention may be beneficial. Individuals who encounter displaced nestlings, birds which are mostly featherless, may immediately return the bird to its nest if at all possible and then leave the area.

Birds do not recognize human scent and will not abandon a nestling because of it.  If you are unable to locate the nearby nest, you can create and return the nestling to a false nest attached to the nearest tree or shrub where the bird was found. Instructions for false nests can be found on LDWF’s wildlife rehabilitation webpage at Remember-IF YOU CARE, LEAVE IT THERE!

Individuals who believe they have encountered an injured bird, should leave it alone and contact a biologist at their nearest LDWF Regional Office or an LDWF licensed wildlife rehabilitator.  A list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators can be found on the Department’s website at

Anyone interested in LDWF’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Program should contact Melissa Collins at 985-543-4777.

In defense of young people

To our more seasoned readers. Tell me if the following statement hits the nail on the head.
“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”
If that’s how you feel about young folk, you’re not alone. You’re not even original. The quote above came from Socrates, and he said it 2,400 years ago.
Older generations have always had negative views of those who come after.
I read an article in a Life magazine from the 1930s. The writer called the youth of the day “lazy” and “shiftless” and opined they would spell the doom of the Great American Experiment. Those lazy and shiftless kids went on to be dubbed as the Greatest Generation.
Another great fella once said: “I used to be with ‘it’, but then they changed what ‘it’ was. Now what I’m with isn’t ‘it’ anymore and what’s ‘it’ seems weird and scary. It’ll happen to you!”
So why does the same refrain echo throughout eternity? For one, our brains change as we age. With more years, our ability to distinguish chords of music diminishes. It’s why all new music sounds “like noise” to older people.
Lack of exposure also plays a part. I don’t know when I went from the person who fixed the tech issues at home and work, but now I’m nothing more than a “turn it on, turn it off” guy and then send an email if that doesn’t work. I let my skill diminish. I failed to continue learning. It’s now difficult and irritates me. I’ve become the one who needs the help.
The world changes. That’s as true as you shouldn’t lend money to friends and you shouldn’t ask a man why he’s digging a hole. Don’t build a structure with a flat roof either. Just asking for trouble.  
Young people don’t necessarily know more than older people. They just know more about a modern world that is run by computers where fame and fortunes are made over an Ethernet connection or Wi-Fi signal. There was similar sentiment at the invention of the railroad, the car, the washing machine, the dishwasher, the airplane, emails, text messages. The inventors of those were hard workers.  They were entrepreneurs. They were young. You see young people work just as hard as older people. They just do it differently. Kids learn differently now. Their brains are wired in a way that is foreign to those of us who knew a world before the internet. It’s why I can’t teach the way I was taught. Attention spans are toast nowadays. I had to change as well.
Values change. Political beliefs change. Society changes. It happened from my grandfather’s world to my fathers. It happened from my fathers to mine. And it’ll happen from mine to my daughters.  
Facebook memes tell us “these kids today” are the problem with the world, but the same story persists throughout time.
In reality, probably one of the biggest problems America has is that when you get old, a lot of us simply forget what it’s like to be young.
Maybe it’s because I’m around them all day everyday, but I feel protective of and and defensive for younger generations. They help keep me young. They remind me of what it’s like to be a kid. I’ve seen good ones who will go on to do great things. And I’ve seen ones who I know will amount to very little when the real world comes calling. In other words, they are just like all the rest of us. Like every generation to ever exist all the way back to Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel.
So, I’m not one of those who believes we’d never survive a war with millennials calling the shots and Gen Zers filling the ranks. Because the wars that will come to America in the future likely won’t be waged with bullets. They’ll be waged with keyboards and Wi-Fi connections.

(Josh Beavers is a teacher and a writer. He has been recognized five times for excellence in opinion writing by the Louisiana Press Association.)


Ashy and Honest: A review of my first Ash Wednesday

Wednesday was my very first Ash Wednesday service. Being exceedingly new to the Episcopalian religion, there is no question I have a lot to learn when it comes to the church seasons and traditions. Keep this in mind.

First, let us touch on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, also known as Fat Tuesday, also known as Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake Day.  

No matter what you call the day, it serves as the last day before the first day of Lent where you can use up those eggs and fats before beginning the Lenten Fast. What better way to use up those ingredients than making a ton of buttery, flaky pancakes? 

At this feast the ones in attendance will perform the “burning of the palms.” When I first heard of this ritual, I was wholly confused to say the least. I was utterly flabbergasted to be honest, thinking to myself that there was no way I was going to burn my palms and what in the world I had gotten myself involved in.  

Thankfully my priest was able to clarify that there would be no burning of my hands, but that they would be burning the palms (a plant) that are usually distributed during the previous year’s Palm Sunday liturgies to make the ashes that will be used during the services held on the very next day, which brings me to Ash Wednesday.  

As I entered the church that day with a friend, I saw her dip her fingers in a bowl. Having flashbacks of the weeklong inner ponderings regarding my palms being burnt, nonetheless I followed suit, dipping my fingers, as well. She proceeded to inform me that it was holy water. Ok, I need all the holy water I can get.  

I looked around, not knowing anyone, since I was just visiting this church with my friend. I noticed an elderly lady dressed completely in black with a veil covering her head, which made sense considering this first day of Lent is supposed to mark a 40-day period of remembering the events leading up to and including the death of Jesus Christ.  

The service was very solemn, silent and beautiful. During the priest’s homily, he reminded the congregation that if this day and the rest of the 40 days of this season were all we had to remember, what a somber day it would be indeed, but we have better days ahead to look forward to after this season of repentance and reflection.  

We have Maudy Thursday, a day to commemorate the day before Jesus died, which leads us to Good Friday, the day we remember Jesus’ death and sacrifice for our sins. Next comes the joyful celebration of His resurrection from the tomb, rising from the dead, allowing us an opportunity of eternal life – Easter Sunday. All of these days are meant to prepare our hearts and minds for this glorious day.  

I’m not going to lie, it is a lot to try to learn and keep up with, but understanding the days and acts of the Lenten season deepens my experience and it is supposed to be a very personal experience. A time which begins with a public declaration that you are indeed a sinner and a work in progress, but the inner work should be just that … inner and honest. A time where we can remove the façade and attempt to justify our sins and through that tough work, we can dispose of the mask we have been living behind and see things through a new clarity.  

Although, this is a personal experience you can rely on your community of believers for support if you need it and to answer any questions you may have during this season because if you are like me, you will have plenty.

Oh, and I almost forgot that I am supposed to be giving something up for 40 days. Was that supposed to begin the morning of Ash Wednesday or after I have been ashed? I may already be failing in that department.

(Paige Nash is a wife, mom, digital journalist for Webster Parish Journal and publisher of Bienville Parish Journal.)

Cop Talk

I have struggled over the notion of directly addressing my chosen profession through these articles.  It’s no secret that policing in America is a polarizing issue in today’s society.  That alone makes discussing cops and how they operate a source of contention, no matter how you broach the topic.  Anyone, especially a cop, writing about cop related things is going to pour sand in the craw of at least 50% of the population.  Therefore, instead of trying to write something that pleases cop lovers or cop haters, I’ll offer something that is likely to inflame folks on both ends of the spectrum.  I mean, it’s only fair, right?

Are cops good or bad?  I’ll spare you the overused soundbite about bad people being present in every profession.  In short, the overwhelming majority of cops are good.  Even bad cops usually have the noblest of intentions.  However, cops can start off good and turn like milk, becoming sour and jaded.  Bad cops, in all stages of their careers, do exist – but VERY few are bad right out of the gate.  Most bad cops (which are the great minority of the cop population) didn’t start their careers as a dumpster fire of a human being – they ended up like that over time – some more quickly than others, and for a multitude of possible reasons.

The elephant in the room is use of force.  That seems to be the only standard by which people determine if they’re pro-cop or anti-cop.  If you don’t assess police actions on a case-by-case basis and simply lump all cops into one giant pool of corruption, then you’re ate slap up with the dumb-ass.  If you think all cops are bullies, they’re not.  If you think cops use too much force too often, they don’t.  If you think qualified immunity is an archaic mechanism that should be abolished, you either need to quit using LSD or start using it – whichever makes you more enlightened.  The idea of eliminating qualified immunity for law enforcement is absolutely the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.  That’s “more stupider” than “defund the police.”  I felt my IQ drop just by typing “eliminating qualified immunity.”  Damn it, I did it again.  Moving on…  On the other hand, if you believe cops are always professional, always above reproach, never use too much force, and should be given absolute reign to purge society of all perceived scum bags – or if you think that building more prisons for the purpose of generating revenue is a prudent financial plan – to paraphrase a popular redneck comedian, “You might be a communist.”   

Society fails law enforcement by buying into all the negativity surrounding cops in the media.  Bad stories make attractive headlines.  Good stories don’t sell papers or ad space.  People seem to have lost the ability for critical thinking where cops are concerned, because they’ve been force-fed negativity for so long that they’ve developed an indirect form of Stockholm Syndrome and have begun to sympathize with their captors – the cop hating media.

Non-cop readers, I want you to hear this too, but know the rest of this article is directed to my blue compatriots.  

Cops, are you actively working to change the narrative surrounding our beloved profession?  I get it, we’re vastly outnumbered – but since when does that stop us?  Wouldn’t you rush headlong into a fight with three guys twice your size to try and rescue a child from captivity?  Wouldn’t you sprint into the absolute terror of an active shooter situation to smite evil in its tracks and save innocent people?  Since when is fighting an uphill battle not exactly what we signed up for?  If the narrative needs to change, and it certainly does, why aren’t more of us working to change it?

Do you have all the training you need to do your job well – to be as safe as possible, to communicate professionally and effectively with a wide range of people – to write, to fight, to shoot, to drive, to understand the laws you enforce?  What would the general public think if they knew just how abysmal the annual training / continued education standard truly is – or that you can get 12 of the mandatory minimum 20 hours of annual “training” by watching videos online?  If a stranger asked you what training requirements are mandatory for cops in your state or agency, would you have to use your “verbal judo” or embellish your response to keep from being utterly embarrassed?  Could you say honestly that you and / or your agency go above and beyond what’s required, for training?  

To improve the way cops are perceived by the public, make yourself a better cop – rather than depending on your agency to do it for you.  Don’t be the lowest common denominator when it comes to training.  It sucks to spend your own money, time, vacation, fuel, and energy to get good training.  Believe me, I know.  I’m not suggesting you spend your career being a “certificate chaser” – the world doesn’t need more of those.  I also understand that much of the training available to us through law enforcement is really good!  But is the mandatory minimum sufficient?  Not even close – regardless how long you’ve been on the job.  Take it upon yourself to get training that’s recent, relevant, and realistic, whether or not your agency will foot the bill.  The world needs more well-trained cops, but the world will never have them if we depend on bureaucrats and people with political agendas to set the standard of “sufficient training,” because it’s far cheaper to bury you and / or pay liability insurance premiums than it is to adequately train you for the duration of your career.  

I’ve been fortunate throughout my career, especially in my current position, working for and having worked for supervisors and department heads, who value(d) training and know the importance of elevating officers’ confidence and competence – but we, the rank and file hired hands, have to take some initiative too.  Once, in 15 years on the job, have I been denied training that I requested.  Most cops aren’t as fortunate as I have been.  Therefore, a lot of cops sit and wait for someone with more rank to give them training directives that never come, rather than seeking out education for themselves – and that behavior needs to change.   

We’ll never be able to curb the stupidity pandemic among the staunchest of cop haters but we must do our part to reduce the effectiveness of their overgrown mouths – without the use of a PR-24 – as tempting as that notion sometimes is.  The only actions you can control are your own.  Hold yourselves to the high standard that’s required of us, and rather than keeping up with the times, let’s get ahead of the current state of affairs, by being proactive, not reactive, where our training is concerned – because you are the only person that can make you a better cop.

Avoid what you can.  Defeat what you can’t.


 (Ryan Barnette is not a licensed attorney or a medical provider, and no information provided in “Slicing the Pie,” or any other publication authored by Ryan Barnette should be construed, in any way, as official legal or medical advice.)

A wax will

In 1877, Thomas Edison’s engineers worked on a machine that would transcribe messages sent over telegraph lines.  Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone just one year prior, but it would be years before it became commonplace.  As Edison and his engineers pondered over the different uses for this invention, Edison speculated that an audio message could be recorded in a similar fashion.  This is one of the earliest known mentions of an answering machine or, in the cell phone era, a voicemail recorder.  Edison proposed a sketch of this invention to mechanic John Kruesi, who built a working model within 30 hours.  Edison tested the machine by reciting “Mary had a little lamb.”  The machine recorded the recitation on a hollow cylinder made of tin foil.  He was astonished to hear his own words played back to him.  On Christmas Eve, 1877, Edison filed the patent for the phonograph.  On January 24, 1878, Edison created the Edison Speaking Phonograph Company.  Due to the sound being recorded on fragile tin foil, the phonograph was viewed only as a novelty because the tin foil only allowed the recording to be played back a few times.  Edison’s work on the incandescent light bulb drew his and his engineer’s time away from further developments on the phonograph.     

Alexander Graham Bell and his team of engineers made improvements on Edison’s phonograph, most notably of which was the replacement of the tin foil with a wax cylinder.  Bell and his team patented what they called the graphophone, and approached Edison to discuss a collaborative effort to make further improvements.  Edison refused and made improvements on his phonograph which included Bell’s wax cylinder.  Edison called it his New Phonograph.   In October 1887, Edison formed a new company to market the machine.  One advertisement pictured Edison standing alongside his newest model with the quote, “I want a phonograph in every home.”

In 1906, Hodson Burton, a wealthy, elderly resident of Buchanan, Michigan, revised his last will and testament.  Burton’s will specified the distribution of some but not all of his property.  Among other information, his will included the statement that he had buried a large sum of gold in a secret location.  He recorded the location of the gold on a phonograph cylinder which was to be kept in his attorney’s safe until he had been dead five years. 

In the spring of 1906, shortly after completing his will and phonograph recording, Hodson Burton died.  For five long years, Burton’s heirs puzzled over the location of the hidden gold.  Despite their requests, the attorney was resolute in honoring Burton’s will.  Finally, on Saturday, April 1, 1911, all of the heirs gathered in the front parlor of the home of Burton’s son, Luke Burton, to finally play the phonograph cylinder and learn the location of the hidden gold.  While they anxiously awaited the arrival of the attorney, they imagined what they could purchase with the gold such as “automobiles, mansions, and aeroplanes.” 

The attorney had taken every precaution to ensure the fragile wax cylinder and phonograph machine remained safe.  The attorney arrived through the rear of the house and went to the kitchen.  On the kitchen table, he carefully unwrapped the phonograph and the wax cylinder.  After five long years, the attorney was ready to rid himself of the responsibility of keeping it safe.  He placed the cylinder on the phonograph and carefully lifted it off the table.  With a deep breath, he slowly carried the phonograph from the kitchen, over the threshold to the parlor where a table had been cleared for the device.  The attorney glanced back and forth between the phonograph and the table as he walked.  As the attorney entered the parlor, he tripped over a footstool and the wax cylinder shattered into countless tiny pieces as it struck the floor, forever concealing the location of Burton’s hidden gold.



2.     The South Bend Tribune, April 3, 1911, p.10.

How Bayou State basketball is bouncing towards March Madness

ICYMI, around Division I college basketball in the piney woods and bayous, as March Madness approaches, here is my version of Cliff’s Notes. Let’s call this Duggie Nuggets. On second thought, let’s don’t. How about Bayou Basketball Bites?

Just like most of our state’s basketball teams, we can do better.

Now that college baseball and softball is underway, with spring football right behind, it’s fair to say the generally tepid interest level in college hoops is fading fast in all but a few locales. But the Big Dance and its brackets are inevitably captivating, and you may find yourself with a rooting (or at least betting) interest.

At LSU, the extremes are mind-blowing. Nobody saw Kim Mulkey’s (Lady) Tigers with only one loss this season, but it’s likely they’ll sail into the SEC Tournament with just that. Nobody saw Matt McMahon’s men with a 14-game losing streak in conference competition, although anyone who expected close to a .500 SEC record was also holding out hope for a Saints playoff run.

Going anything less than unbeaten against a cupcake non-conference schedule would have been disappointing for Mulkey’s squad. They did not disappoint. They haven’t since, either. They’re not quite Final Four caliber, but that will change when Parkway’s Mikayla Williams and her signing class saddle up in Baton Rouge.

As for the LSU men, they’re a recruiting class away, in the new age of the transfer portal, from merely treading water in the SEC. McMahon is a good human and a solid coach, but can he recruit on a Power 5 level? That was the question when he was brought in to clean up the Will Wade cesspool. He’s done that much. Now, to upgrade the talent level and begin notching some Dale Brown-style upsets to make his program relevant.

From off the 318 radar, Tulane requires attention. It’s not just a football school (insert chortle). Be advised, the following may shock you. The men are 17-7, second behind Houston in the American Athletic Conference, and NCAA Tournament-bound. On the women’s side, Greenies coach Lisa Stockton just surpassed legendary Leon Barmore, the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Lady Techsters’ coach, as the state’s winningest women’s college coach.

In her 29th Tulane campaign, Stockton has averaged 20 wins and at 16-11 this winter, is near that pace. She notched her 577th victory last Saturday, is trending toward her 21st postseason appearance and hoping for a 12th NCAA Tournament trip. None of that or her commendable career winning percentage scratches the surface of Barmore’s resume’, but it’s pretty salty in its own right. I’m not tuned into Tulane, but while the court-naming talk is still buzzing ….

Speaking of under the radar, UL-Lafayette’s men are 21-7, tied for third in the Sun Belt, headed to unscheduled action in March.

Wish it was a Bayou Blast Tournament. That would be fun and moderately interesting. Tulane, ULL, Grambling (18-8) and Northwestern State (19-9) all have postseason legs, but lack statewide appeal. Any of them could win their conference tournaments. All may have consolation opportunities if they don’t.

There’s the NIT, fit for regular-season champs that don’t cash in at conference tourneys (Grambling and NSU still might fit that description). Then trickle down to the pay-to-play alternatives, the College Basketball Invitational and (maybe) The Basketball Classic (it’s hard to tell online if it survived to 2023).

On the women’s side, there’s a slim chance of extra play for anyone other than LSU and Tulane. Best longshot: Louisiana Tech (16-10), which has battled injuries and inconsistencies, but Brooke Stoehr has an excellent conference tournament track record. Give her the squad that started the season and the Lady Techsters could threaten in the Conference USA Tournament.

That’s Bayou Bracketology, hopefully more useful than beads on Ash Wednesday.

Contact Doug at

Never trust an angler

One thing I’ve learned over my many years of fishing bass tournaments…never to trust another angler! Now, why would someone say such a thing? Because it’s a fact! Today we’ll look at a situation where you’ll understand why this is a true statement.
No group of people on planet Earth is less trustworthy than bass fishermen. They will lie in a heartbeat to keep other anglers at bay when it comes to where and how they are catching bass. They will sell their firstborn for crucial information if it will help them win a tournament. That’s why it’s so important to bond with a couple of guys who are your true friends so that you can discuss what you’re doing and how you’re catching bass without the threat of one of them revealing your secrets. Trust is a word very few anglers use because the pool of people you can trust is small and almost non-existent.
A good friend of mine, who is a legendary angler from East Texas, told me one time that he was through fishing Pro/Am events. Pro/Am events are tournaments where you have a boater/Pro who runs the boat and the trolling motor while he’s paired up with an Amateur/Co-angler for the day. The biggest problem in these types of events is that the Pro/boater spends all his hard-earned money and time finding fish for an event while the Am/Co-angler benefits from all that hard work without ever wetting a hook in practice or burning any gas. When you take a Co-angler to your best spots, you hope and pray that he won’t go tell all his buddies where these spots are and how you’re catching them.
So many times, I’ve asked co-anglers nicely to please not tell anyone where and how we caught our fish for that day. But no matter how much they promise they will keep everything a secret, they’re lying! This happened to me last year on Sam Rayburn in which I had a good crankbait bite early off one spot. We both had our limits in the first thirty minutes of the tournament. I had over 16 pounds in the live well and my co-angler had his three fish limits of almost 10 pounds. I specifically asked the young man to please not share this spot with anyone else as I had another tournament coming up the next weekend. He reassured me that he does not share other anglers’ spots or information with anyone.
So, feeling good about the rapport and connection we had made, I felt this guy was trustworthy. Well, guess what? Once again, my faith in humanity and trusting another angler was lost when I returned the following Thursday to scout for my next event on Rayburn. Just after daylight, I ran to my starting spot from the week before where I had caught 16 pounds in thirty minutes. As I approached the spot, I noticed a boat was fishing almost directly in the same location. So, I pulled up and lowered my trolling motor trolling in his direction. Once within in speaking range, I asked the angler if he had caught anything off this spot. He said “yes” with enthusiasm as he set the hook on a 4 pounder! While smoke and blood began to ooze from my ears, he commented that the area was loaded with some really good quality fish that his son had caught with a guy last weekend. I told him, “Yeah, I’m that guy!” I could see the look on his face when he said, “Uh oh!”  He knew immediately that his son was not supposed to have told him about the spot. Once again, I politely asked the dad if he would lay off these fish until after my tournament on Saturday. He obliged and apologetically pulled up his trolling motor and left.
While I understand that I really don’t have the right to claim this or any spot as off-limits to anyone, it’s just the ethical part among other tournament fishermen to honor another angler’s spot or area. Now if another angler had found those same fish as I did, then it’s a matter of who gets there first. This is all a part of the unwritten rules of tournament fishing that so many anglers today refuse to observe. Ethics have been thrown out the window in today’s bass tournament world. It has now become every man for himself with little to no regard for anyone else.
If the ethical part of tournament fishing does not return, there will be some bad consequences for anglers down the road, especially the up-and-coming high school and college anglers who are not being taught these unwritten rules. Till next time, good luck, good fishing, and don’t forget to wear sunscreen. Melanoma is real and can be deadly if not caught early. Early detection is critical to overcoming this form of cancer.
Steve Graf

Angler’s Perspective

Today in History – February 24

1803 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled itself to be the final interpreter of all constitutional issues.

1835 – “Siwinowe Kesibwi” (The Shawnee Sun) was issued as the first Indian language monthly publication in the U.S.

1839 – Mr. William S. Otis received a patent for the steam shovel.

1857 – The Los Angeles Vinyard Society was organized.

1857 – The first shipment of perforated postage stamps was received by the U.S. Government.

1863 – Arizona was organized as a territory.

1866 – In Washington, DC, an American flag made entirely of American bunting was displayed for the first time.

1868 – The U.S. House of Representatives impeached President Andrew Johnson due to his attempt to dismiss Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. The U.S. Senate later acquitted Johnson.

1886 – Thomas Edison and Mina Miller were married.

1900 – New York City Mayor Van Wyck signed the contract to begin work on New York’s first rapid transit tunnel. The tunnel would link Manhattan and Brooklyn. The ground breaking ceremony was on March 24, 1900.

1903 – In Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, an area was leased to the U.S. for a naval base.

1925 – A thermit was used for the first time. It was used to break up a 250,000-ton ice jam that had clogged the St. Lawrence River near Waddington, NY.

1938 – The first nylon bristle toothbrush was made. It was the first time that nylon yarn had been used commercially.

1942 – The U.S. Government stopped shipments of all 12-gauge shotguns for sporting use for the wartime effort.

1942 – The Voice of America (VOA) aired for the first time.

1945 – During World War II, the Philippine capital of Manilla, was liberated by U.S. soldiers.

1946 – Juan Peron was elected president of Argentina.

1956 – The city of Cleveland invoked a 1931 law that barred people under the age of 18 from dancing in public without an adult guardian.

1980 – NBC premiered the TV movie “Harper Valley P.T.A.”

1981 – Buckingham Palace announced the engagement of Britain’s Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer.

1983 – The Dow Jones industrial average closed above the 1100 mark for the first time.

1983 – A U.S.congressional commission released a report that condemned the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

1987 – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, of the Los Angeles Lakers, got his first three-point shot in the NBA.

1987 – An exploding supernova was discovered in the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy.

1988 – The U.S. Supreme Court overturned a $200,000 award to Rev. Jerry Falwell that had been won against “Hustler” magazine. The ruling expanded legal protections for parody and satire.

1989 – Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini sentenced Salman Rushdie to death for his novel “The Satanic Verses”. A bounty of one to three-million-dollars was also put on Rushidie’s head.

1989 – A United Airlines 747 jet rips open in flight killing 9 people. The flight was from Honolulu to New Zealand.

1992 – “Wayne’s World” opened in U.S. theaters.

1992 – Tracy Gold began working on the set of “Growing Pains” again. She had left the show due to anorexia.

1994 – In Los Angeles, Garrett Morris was shot during a robbery attempt. He eventually recovered from his injury.

1997 – The U.S. The Food and Drug Administration named six brands of birth control as safe and effective “morning-after” pills for preventing pregnancy.

1997 – Dick Enberg received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

1999 – In southeast China, a domestic airliner crashed killing all 64 passengers.

2007 – The Virginia General Assembly passed a resolution expressing “profound regret” for the state’s role in slavery.

2008 – Cuba’s parliament named Raul Castro president. His brother Fidel had ruled for nearly 50 years.

Upcoming Events

Please send all non-profit calendar events to

February 24 (9:30 a.m.)

Black History Celebration- Arcadia Movers and Shakers with special guest: Local History Makers

Crawford Gymnasium

February 26 (3 p.m.)

2nd Annual Black History Makers Speaker Series with guest speaker: The Honorable Cedric B. Glover

Holland Grove Baptist Church, 3105 Felts Road, Arcadia, La. 

February 26 (5:30 p.m.)

Arcadia Without Walls Ministry presents “A Black History Moment from our Local Youth.”

Arcadia Event Center, 630 Factory Outlet Drive Arcadia, La.

February 27 (5 p.m.)

Bienville Parish Chamber of Commerce After Hours Networking Event and Grand Opening of MSR Steel Roofing

163 Sharp Davis Road Arcadia, La

February 28 

2023 Master Cattleman Course – LSU AgCenter Lincoln Parish Ext. Office

307 North Homer Street #101 Ruston, La

March 4 (10 a.m.)

Auction with Auctioneer: Wayman Barham – King’s Court United Pentecostal Church 

2401 South Service Road, West Ruston, La

March 4 (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.)

Jonquil Jubilee – Downtown Gibsland

March 7 (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.)

Bienville Lumber Job Fair

Northwest Louisiana Technical Community College, 9500 Industrial Drive in Minden, La

March 11 (12:30 p.m.)

Michael Ryder Memorial Blood Drive – Backwoods Venue in Brewton’s Mills, La.

March 16 (6:30 p.m.)

Alumni Basketball Games – Mt. Olive Christian School

March 18 (1 – 3 p.m.)

Town-Wide Clean Up Day

Meet at Ringgold High School Softball Field

March 24-25 

Kingsway Baptist Church Annual 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament

Southland Camp Gym, 3555 Hwy 371 in Ringgold, La

$25 per team to register and includes tournament shirt for each player.

Contact: 418-453-8154 to sign-up. 

Notice of Death – February 23

Notice of Death – Feb. 23, 2023

Irone H. Perot

March 15, 1940 – Feb. 22, 2023

Ringgold, La.

Funeral service: 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24, 2023, Rockett Funeral Home Chapel, Ringgold, La.

Burial: Old Ramah Cemetery, Ashland, La.

Francis Edward Kennon Jr.

August 31, 1938 – Feb. 14, 2023

Minden, La.

Visitation: 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, First United Methodist Church, 903 Broadway, Minden.

Funeral service: 2 p.m. immediately following visitation.

Lois Suzanne Maryman

Nov. 19, 1953 – Feb. 19, 2023

Springhill, La.

Funeral service: 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, Walnut Cemetery, Bradley, Ark., under the direction of Rose-Neath Funeral Home.

Aubrey Jade “B.B.” Perkins

Feb. 3, 2006 – Feb. 20, 2023

Haynesville, La.

Visitation: Noon until 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, Harmony Cemetery, 4463 Hwy. 160, Magnolia, Ark.

Graveside: 1 p.m. immediately following visitation.

Ruby Bernice Cannon Bamburg

Oct. 16, 1920 – Feb. 19, 2023

Coushatta, La.

Visitation: 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, Liberty Baptist Church, Coushatta, La.

Funeral service: 11 a.m., immediately following visitation.

Burial: Liberty Cemetery.

Betty Weeks Elliott

Sept. 14, 1943 – Feb. 17, 2023

Black Lake, La.

Memorial service: 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26, 2023

Burial: later date at Bethlehem Cemetery in Winn Parish.

Walter L. Asseff, M.D.

Sept. 15, 1935 – Feb. 21, 2023

Mansfield, La.

Visitation: 9:30 a.m. until time of service Friday, Feb. 24, 2023

Funeral service: 11 a.m. at Kilpatrick’s Rose-Neath Chapel, Mansfield, La.

Burial: Highland Cemetery, Mansfield.

Bienville Parish Journal publishes paid complete obituaries – unlimited words and a photo, as well as unlimited access – $80. Contact your funeral provider or . Must be paid in advance of publication. (Above death notices are free of charge.)

Arcadia Lady Hornets and Gibsland-Coleman Lady Bulldogs going to the quarterfinals

Final score of Arcadia vs. South Plaquemines game.

By Paige Nash

The Arcadia Lady Hornets dominated the court Monday evening where they went up against South Plaquemines High School in their second round play-off game. The Lady Hornets won the game 55-20, advancing them to the Division IV (Non-Select) Quarterfinals. They will be going up against Homer tomorrow, February 23rd. The game will begin at 6 p.m. in the Arcadia High School Gymnasium.

Battling for the Division V (Non-select) title, the Gibsland-Coleman Lady Bulldogs are staying alive. After a bye week, the Lady Bulldogs pulled a close win against Holden High School with a final score of 44-40. They advanced to the quarterfinals and will be playing Florien at Home at 6 p.m. tomorrow, February 23rd. Faculty and staff are asking to “white out” the gym and that supporters wear white and show up early. The gates will open at 5:15 p.m.

Both the Saline Lady Bobcats and the Castor Lady Tigers came up short in their bi-division playoff games. The Lady Bobcats lost to the Hicks Lady Pirates. 66-27. The Castor Lady Tigers fell just short, losing 46-43 to Phoenix High.

Five Bienville Parish boy’s teams heading to the playoffs

The Saline Bobcats after their win against Atlanta.

By Paige Nash

The Saline High School Bobcats won a nail-biting tiebreaker against Atlanta on Saturday, February 18, with a final score of 44-43. Both Saline and Atlanta held a district record of 8-2. 

Scoring for the Bobcats included Dailey with 11 points, Staggs with 6, Dison with 9, Ridley with 2 and Jones with 2, as well. 

Saline will be playing their bi-district match for the LHSAA Boy’s Basketball Play-off Division V (Non-Select) against Quitman High School. The game will be this Friday, February 24th at 6 p.m. at Jonesboro-Hodge High School. 

Also playing for the Division V title, the Castor Tigers will be going up against Hornbeck High School at Hornbeck at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.

The Gibsland-Coleman Bulldogs earned a bye week and will be playing the winner of Holden vs. Bell City at Regionals to be held on February 28th. 

Competing for the Division IV (Non-select) title, the Arcadia Hornets will play Kentwood High School at Home on Friday at 6:30 p.m. The Ringgold Redskins will be taking on the Block Bears at Home on Friday at 6 p.m. Faculty and staff are asking for students to show support for their fellow classmates by paying $1 to wear red and camouflage the day of the game. 

Cheering for Gibsland-Coleman Cheerleaders

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Gibsland Coleman Bulldog Cheerleaders took home a first place trophy this year in Minden’s Black History Month parade.

The group won Most Spirited Group after performing in front of a panel of judges at Minden’s Civic Center.

Black History Month 2023 continues, but the parade and awards Saturday were for the books.

Food trucks, vendors and a Battle of the Bands were enough to put smiles on faces on a cold but beautiful day.

Retired City Attorney L. Charles Minefield served as this year’s Grand Marshall.  Parade entries competed for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Place in the following categories:  Best Decorated Car/Truck, Best Decorated Float, Best Band Performance and Most Spirited Group.   The judges had a tough job in deciding winners.  This year’s winners are:

Best Decorated Car/Truck:

1st Place – Tiny Miss North Webster Lower Elementary

2nd Place – Jamaria “Juicy” Clark, “Mr. 3000”

3rd Place – Trail Babes & Bandits

Best Decorated Float:

1st Place – Abdul Temple #94

2nd Place – Academy of Pearls, Alpha Kappa Alpha

3rd Place – Louisiana Panthers

Best Band Performance

1st Place – Huntington High School Juke Box Band

2nd Place – Minden High School Band of Pride

3rd Place – Bastrop High School Band

Most Spirited Group

1st Place – Gibsland Coleman Bulldog Cheerleaders

2nd Place – Rare Breed Motorcycle Club

3rd Place – Lee Lodge #221

Outstanding Participation

Huntington High School

At the conclusion of the 35+ entry parade, a crowd pleaser, the Annual Battle of the Bands  featured Minden High School, Bastrop High School and Huntington High School competing for bragging rights as winner.

Following the Parade and Battle Bands, the Annual Youth Rally featured the honoring of local Trail Blazers who have made historical accomplishments and/or service to our community.  

This year’s honorees were Cassandra Swan -Health Care, Rev. Billy J. Hawkins – Ministerial, Frankie Mitchell – Education, Joe Cornelius – Community Service, Walter Morgan, Jr. -Entrepreneurship, Jamria “Juicy” Clark – Mr. 3000, High school Career Points scored, and L’Jarius Sneed – Super Bowl LVII Championship.

The Endow A Dream Scholarship recipients were announced. This year scholarship winners are Brelyn Winzer, Jackson, Jasmine Sneed, and Alex Martin

 “Kay O” of  Rare Breed Motorcycle Club of Houston, Texas motivated the young people to be the best they can be and never give up no matter what they face in life.

Local Vendors were on hand offering various food options, crafts, sweet treats, and important information regarding health insurance.  

Ringgold High School student heading to state power-lifting competition

Pictured from left to right: Zyon Bell, Cynye Smith, Lily Plunkett and Leanne Barnard.

By Paige Nash

Ringgold High School junior Zyon Bell will be competing at the Louisiana State Power-lifting meet in Lafayette next month. 

This is a great feat considering this is only the third year that RHS has had a participating team. Bell alone made up the entire team up until the current year.

Team coach Latoya Davis Bell said, “This year we were glad to have three more young ladies join and push themselves to do something outside of the norm. The coaches are striving to build this team and these young ladies are continually amazing us with all that they are willing to do. I am just proud of them all.” 

Joining Coach Bell are coaches Courtney Allums, Sherman Simon, Anthony Hullaby and Anton Calloway.

This past Saturday, February 18, Bell along with two freshmen Lily Plunkett and Cynye Smith participated in the North Regional Power-lifting meet at Ruston High School. Sophomore Leanne Barnard is also a member of the RHS team, but did not participate in the regional meet this year. 

Bell began participating with the Ringgold High School Power-lifting team her eighth grade year, but competed for her first time at a regional meet her sophomore year. Last year she earned 6th in her weight division and 10th for all regions, advancing to the state meet where she finished in 8th place. 

At this year’s North Regional Power-lifting meet Bell was able to earn a 2nd place finish in Division V – 220 weight class with a 4th overall standing for state. Her squat was 225 pounds, 125 pound bench-press and a dead-lift of 295 pounds. Her total weight lifted was 695 pounds on Saturday. 

The Louisiana State meet will kick-off March 21st and run through the 25th in the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. 

Arcadia Parks and Recreation: Tee-ball coaches needed

The Arcadia Parks and Recreation is looking for volunteers to coach this year’s up and coming tee-ball players. 

The success of these leagues relies on devoted volunteers to ensure that this organization strives and continues for years to come. Anyone can apply to become a volunteer coach, whether you are a parent, grandparent, sibling, retiree, community leader, friend or neighbor. 

If you or someone you know are interested in playing a crucial role in this starting point on the road for greatness for local, young athletes you can apply by contacting Arcadia Parks and Recreation at 318-436-6662 or stop by the center located at 1819 South Railroad Avenue in Arcadia to register. 

Registration for tee-ball is still open. You can also contact Arcadia Park and Recreation to sign your children up to play.  


Louisiana Master Gardner class enrolling for 2023

Have you ever wondered; Am I planting the right plant for my area? Is this the right place? What kind of weed, insect or disease is affecting my plants and how do I control it? Or have you taken a soil sample and don’t completely know how to interpret the results? Therefore, making you wonder how to make your yard healthier and more eye appealing?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, The Piney Hills Master Gardener’s cordially invite you to take part in the Louisiana Master Gardener’s class.

The Louisiana Master Gardener program was developed by the LSU AgCenter to help plant and yard enthusiast have a better understanding of horticulture and horticultural practices.

The Louisiana Master Gardener class for 2023 is enrolling now.

Classes begin June 13 ending September 12 with a graduation program.

Classes are weekly on Tuesday evenings from 6-9pm. Classes will be taught at the Webster Parish extension office.

The class cost $165. If you enroll by May 1st , you will receive a $25 discount.

Enrollment ends June 1st.

For more information please contact John Monzingo 318-927-3110 or 318-371-1371.

Armadilloed and dangerous

I don’t want the ham and cheese. I just want out of the sandwich.
I just want to armadillo to leave me alone.
He could have money from my wallet if he had any use for it, the armored little strong-snouted nitwit of a troublemaker.
All I want is for him to leave my quite little family and law-abiding neighbors alone.
But he won’t. He’s playing hardball. Now, so am I.
And losing. Losing to a dirt-digging four-legged type so ugly the doctor slapped his mother when he was born.
Anyone who’s lived in northwest Louisiana for any length of time has encountered a possum or racoon or rabbit in their within-the-city-limits yard.
We are not in the “poor mountaineer barely kept his family fed” part of the world, but we’re not 100 percent urban either.
Most of us own trapping cages, mainly for the relocation of possums and racoons. These animals are around because there are woods everywhere but they stay in town mainly because … why do I have to write this? … people feed them. People think they are cute.
And they are cute — in the woods. But not in your garage or in your chimney or on the fence where the dogs can bark at them in the middle of the night.
My familiarity with the Broadmoor area of Shreveport spans more than 30 years, and I’ve lost track of my catches. Actually adopted our trespassing rabbit for a while; I remember he watched the Final Four with me, sitting in a little starter-kit recliner, I think in 2006.
But only one time in Broadmoor or even in the greater Shreveport-Bossier area have I seen an armadillo. Once. Of course, it was in my yard. And of course, he now lives under my house.
I know … I know. “It could be worse.” Yes.
But it could be better, too. He could be living in a cave or by a pond or under your house.
Maybe my experience will help you should you one day get the ’Dilla Curse. Four events have occurred.
First, I saw him in the side yard two months ago. Middle of the day. “Well isn’t that interesting?” I thought. “That’s a first for these parts.” I sort of sheep-dogged him toward the street.
Time passed before event No. 2.
There were holes in my yard. Ugly dents, like a drunk guy would make with a bent spade or a very tiny front-end loader. Different depths. Unsightly gashes and mounds.
Moles? Maybe. Could be an armadillo; they dig in the ground for bugs and worms with their offensive noses. But it can’t be that same armadillo …
Oh yes it could. Went to put a pizza box in the trash outside about 9 on a Friday night and there he was, in the driveway, and there he went, toward the crawl space and under the house.
I set a cage by the trap space. And two days later, on a wet Tuesday evening, I was typing and my little dog, napping inside and above that crawl space, started barking.
Event Three happened fast then as my doggie had heard the cage slam shut I bet and I walked outside in the rain and HELLO! his beady eyes locked with mine, me in the rain, him in the cage, Man vs. Beast and winner, winner, chicken dinner.
“Back in a few,” I said.
Case and cage closed.
Only it wasn’t. I returned to the scene of the crime 10 minutes later to an empty cage, a first in all my years of catching citified wildlife. Heart sinkage. In the rain. Defeated. By a varmit with a shoe-size IQ.
Morning light revealed the tough little guy had used his nose and neck and sheer willpower to make a “V” in the upper part of the cage so he could loose the latch and bust out. That, or he had a tiny hammer and pliers.
Angry? Yes. Impressed? Very. Had to beat the metal cage back into working order.
Three days passed with the re-set cage. Not a bite. Maybe he’d been scared off. I breathed easy.
Until last Friday night when he came running down the driveway, probably just to tease me, a battleship-gray varmint who reached 40 knots or so before running under a small opening on the other side of the house. Little dude can move.
The Armadillo Abatement Process has not been as easy as I’d hoped.
A cage is on that side of the house now, too. It has been a week. No movement. For all I know, this guy and some other armadillos are sitting around a small poker table under my house, smoking cigars and wearing reading glasses and playing cards like those dogs in the funny pictures.
Please tell me they haven’t invited girl armadillos over . . .
Contact Teddy at or Twitter @MamaLuvsManning

Easy Bake Memories

The year was1968. It was my 7th Christmas. Also, the first Christmas after my father died. The only thing I asked for that year was an Easy Bake Oven. When my mom took my brother and me to visit Santa Claus at the Maison Blanche department store in New Orleans (because that’s where the real Santa always was, those others in the stores back home were just helpers) I told the Big Guy that the Easy Bake was the only thing on my list, and all I wanted. When my older brother found out what I asked for he thought it was hilarious and wondered why I wanted a “girl toy.”

Boys didn’t cook back then. Maybe French chefs in fancy restaurants, or short-order cooks in diners and cafes, but that’s about it. There had never been a boy in one of the ads for Easy Bake Ovens. I’m sure I saw the ads while watching cartoons on Saturday morning, and it struck a chord deep inside me that I wouldn’t even truly discover until years later.

For those born after 1980, an Easy Bake Oven was a plastic toy oven that used a 100-watt lightbulb as the cooking element. It came in yellow or blue with a set of miniature pans, a few tiny utensils, and a couple of small samples of cake and cookie mix.

My grandmother was the main cooking influence in my life. It was probably the time I spent hanging out in her kitchen that made me want the toy oven. Cooking has always meant “love” to me.

I cherish the neighborhood I grew up in and have such strong and fond memories of all aspects of my life in those days. It’s almost unnatural to have such an adoration and strong attachment to a group of streets, houses, people, and memories. Growing up as the only kids in the neighborhood without a father could have had a real stigma attached to it. Fortunately, my father purchased lots with his childhood friends and they all built in the same area. They were all around the same age, so their kids were born around the same time. I didn’t have two parents, I had one step better— an entire neighborhood of parents.

It took me a long time to realize the primary reason that neighborhood, and those people, still hold such a special place in my heart. They took in a widow and her two young kids and wrapped their collective arms around them. In what should have been one of the most tumultuous periods in a young boy’s life— dealing with the aftereffects of a father’s death— there were a dozen loving and caring fathers, several mothers from another brother, and an overabundance of what would become lifelong friends with me on a daily basis. I have always believed I had a blessed and amazing childhood. I have my friends, and my parent’s friends, to thank for that. They were there when I needed them most. I hope I have been there for them as well.

It’s probably why I live a few blocks from there still.

I believe that the Easy Bake Oven had the same connection and appeal. I wasn’t planning a career in the restaurant business at that point. But there must have been something deep inside me that was searching for something with which I could connect. I believe people are wired from birth with that thing that they were born to do. Unfortunately, many people never discover that thing. At 19, I knew what I wanted to do, what I was supposed to do, actually, what I was wired to do.

The cooking phase I went through with the Easy Bake Oven faded after we moved to the new neighborhood on Bellewood Drive. Twelve years after that move— when I was 19— I began working in restaurants and instantly fell in love with the industry. Seven years later I opened my first restaurant. When the chef was fired opening night, I ended up in the kitchen where I spent the next four years working 90 hours a week cooking in a professional kitchen. The extent of my cooking experience at that time had been the time I spent with that Easy Bake Oven 20 years earlier.

As strange as my brother thought it was that I ask for an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas, he never minded eating the little cakes, cookies, and pizzas that came from it. There was a certain smell that came from cooking with a 100-watt lightbulb. It’s nothing that I have encountered since. But I know if I ever smelled it again, it would take me back to my childhood room on 22nd Avenue during days when some type of comfort, or distraction was sorely needed for a seven-year-old boy.

Today my Easy Bake Oven is a part of the permanent collection at the Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience museum in Meridian, Mississippi (The Max). They asked for it and I was happy to donate it as a part of the exhibit that features me. I’m not sure what purpose it will serve there. Though, maybe there’s a young kid out there who has suffered a major loss in his or her early childhood who will connect with it as I did, and unknowingly discover a heretofore hidden passion for something he or she was born to do.


RSJ’s Italian Cream Cake
1 cup Butter, softened
2 cups Sugar
5 large Eggs, separated
2  1 /2 cups All-purpose flour
1 tsp Baking soda
1 cup Buttermilk
2 /3 cup pecans, finely chopped
1 tsp  Vanilla extract
1 can Flaked coconut (3 1 /2 oz.)
1 /2 tsp Cream of Tartar
3 Tbl Grand Marnier
1 recipe Cream Cheese Frosting

Grease and flour three nine-inch round cake pans.  Line pans with wax paper;
grease paper, and set aside. 

Beat butter at medium speed of an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well.  Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition.  Combine flour and baking soda.  Add buttermilk and flour alternately, beginning and ending with flour mixture.  Stir in pecans, vanilla, and coconut. 

Beat egg whites at high speed in a large bowl until foamy.  Add cream of tartar; beat until
stiff peaks form. Gently fold beaten egg whites into batter. Pour batter into prepared pans. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 or 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Let cool in pans 10 minutes, remove from pans; peel off wax paper; and let cool completely on wire racks.  Brush each cake layer with 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier.  Let stand 10 minutes.  Spread cream cheese frosting between layers and on sides and top of cake.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8 oz.) pkg Cream cheese, softened
1 (3 oz.) pkg Cream cheese, softened
3 /4 cup Butter, softened
1  1 /2 Powdered sugar, sifted
1 1 /2 cups Pecans, chopped
1 Tbl  Vanilla extract

Beat first three ingredients at medium speed of electric mixer until smooth.
Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until light and fluffy; stir in pecans
and vanilla.

(Robert St. John is a chef, restaurateur and published cookbook author who lives in Hattiesburg, Miss.)

Today in History – February 22

1630 – Quadequine introduced popcorn to English colonists at their first Thanksgiving dinner.

1784 – “Empress of China”, a U.S. merchant ship, left New York City for the Far East.

1819 – Spain ceded Florida to the United States.

1855 – The U.S. Congress voted to appropriate $200,000 for continuance of the work on the Washington Monument. The next morning the resolution was tabled and it would be 21 years before the Congress would vote on funds again. Work was continued by the Know-Nothing Party in charge of the project.

1859 – U.S. President Buchanan approved the Act of February 22, 1859, which incorporated the Washington National Monument Society “for the purpose of completing the erection now in progress of a great National Monument to the memory of Washington at the seat of the Federal Government.”

1860 – Organized baseball’s first game was played in San Francisco, CA.

1865 – In the U.S., Tennessee adopted a new constitution that abolished slavery.

1879 – In Utica, NY, Frank W. Woolworth opened his first 5 and 10-cent store.

1885 – The Washington Monument was officially dedicated in Washington, DC. It opened to the public in 1889.

1892 – “Lady Windermere’s Fan”, by Oscar Wilde, was first performed.

1920 – The first dog race track to use an imitation rabbit opened in Emeryville, CA.

1923 – The first successful chinchilla farm opened in Los Angeles, CA. It was the first farm of its kind in the U.S.

1924 – U.S. President Calvin Coolidge delivered the first presidential radio broadcast from the White House.

1954 – ABC radio’s popular “Breakfast Club” program was simulcast on TV for the first time.

1969 – Barbara Jo Rubin became the first woman to win a U.S. thoroughbred horse race.

1973 – The U.S. and Communist China agreed to establish liaison offices.

1984 – The U.S. Census Bureau statistics showed that the state of Alaska was the fastest growing state of the decade with an increase in population of 19.2 percent.

1994 – The U.S. Justice Department charged Aldrich Ames and his wife with selling national secrets to the Soviet Union. Ames was later convicted to life in prison. Ames’ wife received a 5-year prison term.

1997 – Scottish scientist Ian Wilmut and colleagues announced that an adult sheep had been successfully cloned. Dolly was actually born on July 5, 1996. Dolly was the first mammal to have been successfully cloned from an adult cell.

2002 – In the Philippines, An MH-47E Chinook helicopter crashed into the ocean. All 10 men aboard were killed.

2010 – A copy of “Action Comics #1” sold at auction for $1 million. The comic featured the introduction of Superman.

2010 – Walmart announced it was acquiring the video streaming company Vudu, Inc.

Upcoming Events

Please send all non-profit calendar events to

February 22 (3 – 10 p.m.)

Project4Hope Dine to Donate and Silent Auction

Texas Roadhouse – West Monroe

February 26 (3 p.m.)

2nd Annual Black History Makers Speaker Series with guest speaker: The Honorable Cedric B. Glover

Holland Grove Baptist Church, 3105 Felts Road, Arcadia, La. 

February 26 (5:30 p.m.)

Arcadia Without Walls Ministry presents “A Black History Moment from our Local Youth.”

Arcadia Event Center, 630 Factory Outlet Drive Arcadia, La.

February 27 (5 p.m.)

Bienville Parish Chamber of Commerce After Hours Networking Event and Grand Opening of MSR Steel Roofing

163 Sharp Davis Road Arcadia, La

February 28 

2023 Master Cattleman Course – LSU AgCenter Lincoln Parish Ext. Office

307 North Homer Street #101 Ruston, La

March 4 (10 a.m.)

Auction with Auctioneer: Wayman Barham – King’s Court United Pentecostal Church 

2401 South Service Road, West Ruston, La

March 4 (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.)

Jonquil Jubilee – Downtown Gibsland

March 11 (12:30 p.m.)

Michael Ryder Memorial Blood Drive – Backwoods Venue in Brewton’s Mills, La.

March 16 (6:30 p.m.)

Alumni Basketball Games – Mt. Olive Christian School

March 18 (1 – 3 p.m.)

Town-Wide Clean Up Day

Meet at Ringgold High School Softball Field