Update: Shreveport man arrested in connection to Bienville Parish school email threat

A Shreveport man was arrested Tuesday on a Bienville warrant in connection to a threatening email sent to a Ringgold school principal Friday. Shreveport Police arrested Derrick Lee Willis, 51, charging him with terrorizing.

“Bienville Sheriff’s Office investigators don’t believe the threat was creditble, but it is unlawful to make such threats, therefore the appropriate charge is terrorizing, which is a serious felony,” said Bienville Parish Sheriff John Ballance. “Willis will soon be transferred to Bienville parish for booking. All such illegal communications to school officials or students are top priority of the sheriff’s office and will be handled accordingly.”

Ballance said security was beefed up at the Ringgold School Complex Monday as a precaution while the investigation into the email continued.

The email was sent Friday, Sept. 22, stating that “someone was using the school telephone to prank their phone and that they wanted it to stop or they would start pranking the principal. It further stated that if it was not taken care of the damages would be a dead kid or teacher.”

BPSO contacted the Louisiana State Police Fusion Center, along with the Bienville Parish School Board’s IT department.

The following messages were sent to parents whose children attend the Ringgold School Complex over the weekend regarding the incident.

Sent Saturday, September 23:
“Good afternoon, due to issues at the Ringgold School Complex please do not go to the school this weekend. No students, faculty or staff are allowed at the school today and tomorrow. Thanks.”

Sent Sunday, September 24:

“Good evening. This is Superintendent William Wysinger of the Bienville Parish School Board. On Friday evening, September 22, 2023, an email threat was sent to one of our principals. The email stated that someone was using the school telephone to prank their phone and that they wanted it to stop or they would start pranking the principal. It further stated that if it was not taken care of the damages would be a
dead kid or teacher.

“Law enforcement was promptly notified and currently the Louisiana State Police, the FBI and the Bienville Parish Sheriff’s Office are investigating the authenticity of the threat. Student and employee safety has and will continue to be our number one priority. A heightened police presence will be visible at the two campuses involved tomorrow as we continue to investigate this threat.

“If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Central Office at 318-263-9416. Please visit your district’s web based Student Progress Center for more details.”

This information has been provided by a law enforcement agency as public information. Persons named as suspects in a criminal investigation, or arrested and charged with a crime, have not been convicted of any criminal offense and are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Arcadia remains undefeated after stinging Bolton Bears

By Shawn White (Under the Radar NWLA)

For the second consecutive year, the Arcadia Hornets have started the season at 4-0.  They moved to the 4-0 mark after a 44-6 thrashing of the Bolton Bears   

The Hornets compiled 282 yards of offense against the winless Bears.  Bratreviauntae Ferrell had 4 carries for 102 yards and three touchdowns.  Ian Fitzgerald added another rushing touchdown for Arcadia.  Rodtravious Jackson completed just one pass but made it count for six points with an 88-yard touchdown pass to Ratrevious Crawley.  Darrell Sneed added a special teams score to the total on a blocked punt.  

The defense dominated the Bears.  Dimitri Carr II had 9.5 tackles (5 solo, 9 assists).  Tyreun Fields added 7 tackles (2 solo, 10 assists) including a sack and tackle for loss.  Tayshaun Johnson, Kylon Clark, and Khalil Anney also snatched sacks and tackles for loss.  Jamen Davis had 5 tackles (1 solo, 8 assists).  Ryheem Abney snagged an interception.   Joseph Salvaterra had a blocked kick.

Ferrell gave the Hornets the first score with a 10-yard run.  Ferrell struck again in the first quarter with a 38-yard run to push the Arcadia lead to 16-0.  Ratrevious Crawley caught the 88-yard rocket from Rodtravious Jackson.  Arcadia had built a 22-0 lead heading into the second quarter.

Fitzgerald took his turn to reach the end zone on a 32-yard run.  Darrell Sneed Jr. blocked a kickoff returned for a 97-yard touchdown.  Arcadia was up 36-0 at halftime 

Ferrell scored his third touchdown and triggered the running clock in the third quarter for a 44-0 lead.  

Bolton managed to get in the end zone in the fourth quarter to stop the shutout but the Hornets took the 44-6 win.  

Arcadia will get their first district test next week as they host Glenbrook on Friday night.

DAR welcomes new members over tea

The September meeting of Dorcheat-Bistineau Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution was held at the home of chapter regent Cindy Madden and her husband Jerry Madden, President of Galvez Chapter SAR. Jerry gave a presentation in colonial costume to represent his ancestor, John Madden Jr. John’s father, John Madden Sr., hired George Washington to do a land survey for him when George was 19 years old, and John Jr. was 16 years old. This land survey is housed in the Library of Congress along with some of the 190 land surveys George Washington did in his youth. After John Madden Sr. passed away, John Madden Jr. sold all the family’s holdings and lived with his family in George Washingtons’ land survey office which still stands in Winchester, Virginia. Jerry and Cindy Madden visited this site several years ago.

Cindy Madden, in colonial costume, did a first-person presentation about Martha Custis Washington. At the age of 26, she was a wealthy widow with two children. She owned 17,000 acres and 5 farms. She met and married George Washington when she was 28. Many of the improvements to Mount Vernon were done using her wealth. George and Martha never had children of their own, but enjoyed her children and grandchildren. She defined the role of First Lady with her graciousness and hospitality.

Donna Sutton, who serves as State Chair of DAR Schools, gave a PowerPoint presentation about the history of Kate Duncan Smith DAR School. In the 1920s, DAR raised money to build schools in remote areas of the Appalachian Mountains. One of these schools was Kate Duncan Smith School. KDS provides a caring and quality education for underprivileged children. Donations help provide Blessings Bags for students who do not have access to adequate food over the weekends. To celebrate their 100 th anniversary, KDS is cleaning up a neglected area of campus around the historic bell tower, where walkways, seating, and landscaping will be installed. Donna is collecting $2.00 from each of the more than 2,500 DAR members in Louisiana to donate to this project. LSDAR’s name will be included on a permanent plaque at the project site.

We are excited to welcome four new members to our chapter! Judy Reese and her daughter Jamie Fortenberry are descendants of Revolutionary War patriot John Richardson who was born circa 1753. During the Revolution, he lived in North Carolina and served as Ensign in Gregory’s Company, 10th Regiment. Linnye Daily is descended from John Wimberley who was born October 1, 1755 in Bertie Co., NC. He was a Private and was given a land grant in Georgia as payment for his service. Diane Temple is descended from Samuel Bacot, born March 3, 1745 in Charleston. He served as a Lieutenant under General Francis Marion in 1782. Captured by the British, he devised an escape plan which resulted in his group gaining their freedom from their captors. The Florence, SC chapter of the DAR is named in his honor.

After the program, a High Tea was served to give our chapter members time to meet our new members and prospective members. They enjoyed petit fours made by Candy Monzingo, cucumber sandwiches, egg sandwiches and lemon ginger tea. Hostesses for the September meeting were Nancy Grantham, Cindy Madden, and Judy Reese.

Piney Hills Louisiana Master Gardners Graduation

By John Monzingo, Assistant County Agent

The Piney Hills Louisiana Master Gardeners, in conjunction with the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service in Webster Parish, offers the Louisiana Master Gardener Program yearly in the summer.

The program is offered one night a week over the course of twelve weeks. During this 12-week period, participants learn about botany, entomology, organic gardening, plant pathology, propagation, weed science, and other subjects related to horticulture.

The Piney Hills Louisiana Master Gardeners recently completed the program and are pleased to announce this year’s 2023 graduating class. Back row from left to right are Sybil McClesky, Becky Guillory, Briggette Ketchell, Cynthia Page, Gwen Voltz, Randy Leonard, Regina Brunson, and Ken Robinson. Front row from left to right Leslie Nallin and Emily Galindo.

Jonquil and daffodil bulbs for sale

The Gibsland Jonquil Festival Committee is currently selling jonquil and daffodil bulbs.
They are available for purchase Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Gibsland Bank Operations office at 2484 Main St. in Gibsland. The door to the office remains locked at all times, so if you are stopping by to pick up bulbs, please knock on the door and someone will assist you.
Each bag contains 25 bulbs for $30 each or 4 bags that can be purchased for $100. 
They will also be having a sidewalk sale this coming Saturday, September 30 from 9 a.m. to noon, next to Gibsland Grill on Main Street. 
The committee will be accepting cash, check or Zelle. For those paying by check, please make them payable to Jonquil Jubilee. 
For questions, reach out to Holly at 318-843-6228 or Susan at 318-245-7509.
Bulbs can be reserved by paying in advance by check or Zelle. 


It was a hot July day in Nashville, Tennessee.  Bill Dees and his friend Kelton were at Kelton’s home trying to write a song.  They needed a melody, a clever phrase, a catchy guitar riff, or anything else that could spark an idea.  They played anything that came to mind on their guitars, discussed several phrases, but they were unimpressed with the results.  They kept at it.  At one point, Kelton’s wife walked into the room.  Bill and Kelton’s attention immediately shifted from their task at hand to Kelton’s wife.  She was a knockout.  Bill and Kelton’s gaze shifted to her yellow skirt and red shoes.  Anytime Bill saw a woman he thought was pretty, he exclaimed, “Mercy!”  Like the involuntary actions of our bodies such as blinking our eyelids or breathing, Bill exclaimed “Mercy!” before he could stop himself.  Bill shifted his gaze from Kelton’s wife to Kelton.  Kelton was smiling.  He looked back and Kelton’s wife was smiling as well. 

The three of them chatted briefly and Kelton’s wife said she was going to a nearby store to buy something.  Kelton, ever the gentleman, asked if she needed any money.  Before Kelton’s wife had a chance to respond, Bill spoke up and said, “a pretty woman never needs any money.”  They all smiled.  Kelton’s wife turned and walked away.  As she walked out of the house and onto the sidewalk, Bill heard her red high heels clicking on the pavement.  Click! Click! Click! Click!  Bill tapped his finger on his guitar to the same tempo as the sound of Kelton’s wife’s clicking shoes.  Before the sound of Kelton’s wife’s clicking heels had faded, Kelton came up with a fitting guitar riff.  Lyrics came next as if they had been there all along just waiting to be written down.  By the time Kelton’s wife returned, about 40 minutes later, Bill and Kelton had finished the song. 

A week later, on August 1, Bill and Kelton went into the studio to record the song.  Once again, Bill tapped his finger to the tempo he remembered of Kelton’s wife walking away in her red high-heeled shoes.  Click! Click! Click! Click!  The studio drummer played this tempo on his snare drum, Kelton’s guitar riff was added, and finally, Kelton sang lead and Bill sang harmony.  In one point in the song, Kelton said there was something missing.  He needed to say something short, just a word or two.  He remembered what Bill said upon seeing his wife the previous week.  He sang one more word, “mercy,” and the song was finished.  Bill and Kelton were pleased with the song.

On August 15, 1964, Bill and Kelton’s song was released.  Less than two weeks later, their song entered the charts at number 49.  By early September, newspapers all over the world predicted that the song would sell well.  On September 6, the number one song in the country was “House of the Rising Sun” by the Animals.  Bill and Kelton’s song reached number 13.  A week later, September 13, Bill and Kelton’s song was at number 2 just behind “House of the Rising Sun.”  A week after that, on September 20, Bill and Kelton’s song had replaced “House of the Rising Sun” in the number one spot.  “In a 68-week period that began on August 8, 1963,” during the British Invasion, Kelton “was the only American artist to have a number one single in Britain.”  In addition to reaching number one in the United States and the United Kingdom, Bill and Kelton’s song reached the top spot in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Switzerland, and West Germany.  Mercy!   

When Bill and Kelton’s songwriting session was interrupted on that hot July day in 1964, none of them could have realized the impact of Kelton’s wife walking into and out of the room.  Kelton’s wife’s name was Claudette.  The name of the Bill and Kelton’s song came directly from Bill’s comment that “a pretty woman never needs any money.”  For almost fifty years now, you and I have heard Bill and Kelton sing “Oh, Pretty Woman.”  Kelton is the middle name of Roy Orbison.  Mercy!


1.  The Paducah Sun, August 28, 1964, p.10.

2.  Valley Morning Star, September 6, 1964, p.3.

3.  Omaha World-Herald, September 20, 1964, p.100.

4.  Rock, The History of, and Roll. n.d. “Roy Orbison (1936-1988) | the History of Rock and Roll Radio Show.” Accessed September 24, 2023. https://thehistoryofrockandroll.net/roy-orbison-1936-1988/.

5.  NPR. 2008. “Mercy: Behind Roy Orbison’s ‘Pretty Woman.’” NPR. December 6, 2008. https://www.npr.org/2008/12/06/97826285/mercy-behind-roy-orbisons-pretty-woman.

6.  “ShieldSquare Captcha.” www.songfacts.comhttps://www.songfacts.com/facts/roy-orbison/oh-pretty-woman.

Italian Sausage Sandwiches

The easiest to throw together and even served on hot dog buns. These are GOOD and even heat up well in the air fryer for leftovers. Mozzarella pearls and sliced pepperoncini peppers set the bar high with this yummy sandwich!

– 1 package Italian sausage
– 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
– 1 tablespoon pesto
– 2 garlic cloves, minced
– S&P to taste
– 1 teaspoon sugar
– 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
– 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
– 2 tablespoons melted butter
– 1 1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese
– Mozzarella pearls
– Sliced pepperoncini peppers
– Hot dog buns

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook sausage in a large skillet, crumbling as you cook. Drain. Add back to skillet and add marinara, pesto, garlic, S&P, sugar, onion powder, and red pepper flakes. Let simmer while you prepare the buns. Brush melted butter on inside of buns. Toast in oven for a few minutes. Remove from oven and add shredded cheese to buns. Fill with sausage mixture. Add mozzarella pearls and peppers on top. Sprinkle with more shredded cheese. Bake 10-15 minutes.

(Ashley Madden is a wife, mother and published cookbook author from Minden, La.)

How ‘sweet’ it is

So it all comes back to Skittles.

Who knew?

Let us explain …

Between 2011 and 2014, Trey Hadnot was a seven-time All-America sprinter at Louisiana Tech, won 16 conference championships and was All-Western Athletic Conference 24 times.

It’s a ridiculous number of trophies and medals that his mom religiously dusts to this day in her Ruston home.

Now she has another trophy to shine since her boy and six other Tech standouts were inducted into the University’s Athletics Hall of Fame September 15.

Just five days later, the University honored its six Pro Football and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductees, a once-in-a-lifetime sort of event with all six live and in person for a short Q&A ceremony before the unveiling of their individual statues in the new Sarah and A.L. Williams Champions Plaza in the northeast corner of Joe Aillet Stadium.

You can read about both events here and here. It was quite a lot to digest in the span of 120 hours. Wall-to-wall athletic gold. Star-spangled doubleheader for a school of any size, especially a mid-major.

And consider one Naismith inductee, former Bulldog player Leon Barmore (his jersey is retired) and Lady Techster coach, was in attendance for the statue unveiling but didn’t participate in the ceremony because he already has a statue (yawn…) over by the Thomas Assembly Center.

Hard not to be impressed.

All these stars included hometown hero Hadnot, who holds all 10 of the Tech program’s Top 10 indoor 200m records, including the No.1 time of 20.48, which is moving about as briskly as a human can. (The world record is 19.92, so …20.48 defines “moving.”)

Naturally, one would want to know the secret of Hadnot’s swift success. Pregame meal of bananas and baked chicken? An hour of stretching? Prayer?

“Skittles,” he said, with an honest little-boy smile that kids wear when they’re getting away with something.

Skittles? Is that a track-and-field word for a special kind of loosening-up scissor-kick? Another word for special spikes?

Negative. It’s the candy.

“Always ate Skittles before a race,” he said. “And water. Drank lots and lots of water.”

And there you have it. Skittles. Although something tells me that diet only works if you’re Trey Hadnot.

Funny, but he started out running cross country. His coach took him and some other long-distance wannabes several miles from the school, dropped them off, told them to run back, and drove away. It wasn’t but a few minutes before the others had run off and left Hadnot, who had no real idea where he was.

Bewildered and with no Skittles to save him, Hadnot decided sprints might be his future. At least he’d never get lost.

Another quick story. A linebacker out of tiny Clinton, Glenell Sanders became a three-time All-American at Tech. With tears on his face, he introduced his family — Gwen, his wife of 30 years; Genaye, a senior at the University of Houston where she’s a bio-medical engineering major on a full soccer scholarship; and soon-to-be Captain Geraud Sanders, a 2020 Air Force graduate and fighter instructor pilot who was at the controls of one of four T-38 jets that performed the flyover Saturday at Memorial Stadium before the Tech-Nebraska football game.

“All this started,” Sanders said quietly, “because of faith in God, and because some men believed in me, and gave me a chance.”

Theirs were just two of many stories from ordinary people who managed to exceed beyond their imaginations through developing their talent and believing what a coach or parent or friend believed about them and fed into them, a couple of sweet reminders that we can make it — if we all stick together, and coach each other up.

Contact Teddy at teddy@latech.edu

Today in History

1779 – John Adams was elected to negotiate with the British over the American Revolutionary War peace terms.

1825 – George Stephenson operated the first locomotive that hauled a passenger train.

1894 – The Aqueduct Race Track opened in New York City, NY.

1928 – The U.S. announced that it would recognize the Nationalist Chinese Government.

1938 – The League of Nations branded the Japanese as aggressors in China.

1939 – After 19 days of resistance, Warsaw, Poland, surrendered to the Germans after being invaded by the Nazis and the Soviet Union during World War II.

1940 – The Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Axis was set up. The military and economic pact was for 10 years between Germany, Italy and Japan.

1954 – The “Tonight!” show made its debut on NBC-TV with Steve Allen as host.

1962 – The U.S. sold Hawk anti-aircraft missiles to Israel.

1968 – The U.K.’s entry into the European Common Market was barred by France.

1970 – “The Original Amateur Hour” aired for the last time on CBS. It had been on television for 22 years.

1973 – U.S. Vice President Spiro Agnew said he would not resign after he pled “no contest” to a charge of tax evasion. He did resign on October 10th.

1979 – The Department of Education became the 13th Cabinet in U.S. history after the final approval from Congress.

1982 – Italian and French soldiers entered the Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps in Beirut. The move was made by the members of a multinational force due to hundreds of Palestinians being massacred by Christian militiamen.

1983 – Larry Bird signed a seven-year contract with the Boston Celtics worth $15 million. The contract made him the highest paid Celtic in history.

1986 – The U.S. Senate approved federal tax code changes that were the most sweeping since World War II.

1989 – Columbia Pictures Entertainment agreed to buyout Sony Corporation for $3.4 billion.

1989 – Two men went over the 176-foot-high Niagara Falls in a barrel. Jeffrey Petkovich and Peter Debernardi were the first to ever survive the Horshoe Falls.

1990 – The deposed emir of Kuwait addressed the U.N. General Assembly and denounced the “rape, destruction and terror” that Iraq had inflicted upon his country.

1991 – U.S. President George H.W. Bush eliminated all land-based tactical nuclear arms and removed all short-range nuclear arms from ships and submarines around the world. Bush then called on the Soviet Union to do the same.

1994 – More than 350 Republican congressional candidates signed the Contract with America. It was a 10-point platform they pledged to enact if voters sent a GOP majority to the House.

1995 – The U.S. government unveiled the redesigned $100 bill. The bill featured a larger, off-center portrait of Benjamin Franklin.

1998 – In Germany, Social Democrat Gerhard Schroeder was elected chancellor. The election ended 16 years of conservative rule.

1998 – Mark McGwire (St. Louis Cardinals) set a major league baseball record when he hit his 70th home run of the season.

2004 – North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Su Hon announced that North Korea had turned plutonium from 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods into nuclear weapons. He also said that the weapons were to serve as a deterrent against increasing U.S. nuclear threats and to prevent nuclear war in northeast Asia. The U.S. State Department noted that the U.S. has repeatedly said that the U.S. has no plans to attack North Korea.

2015 – The space probe Dawn was launched by NASA. Dawn entered orbit around protoplanet Vesta on July 16, 2011 and entered orbit around Ceres on March 6, 2015.

Upcoming Events

Please submit all non-profit calendar events to bpjnewsla@gmail.com

September 28 (7 – 10 a.m.)

Lion’s Club Pancake Breakfast

September 28 (6 p.m.)

Arcadia High School’s Literacy Night

September 30 (8:30 a.m.)

Crawford Elementary Eagle Invitational (Grades K – 6) – Bonnie and Clyde Trade Days and RV Park

September 30 (9 – 12 p.m.)

The Gibsland Jonquil Festival Committee will be selling jonquil and daffodil bulbs  next to Gibsland Grill

September 30 

Pine Beetle Pageant – Castor High School Gymnasium

October 1 – November 22

Christmas Sock and Footie Drive – Drop off donations at your local Bienville Parish Library

October 3 (6 – 8 p.m.)

Arcadia Police Department’s National Night Out 2023 Block Party 

North Railroad Avenue in Arcadia

October 18 (6 – 8 p.m.)

Church Community Fall Festival – Arcadia Events Center

October 21 (8 a.m. – 2 p.m.)

CASA’s 13th Annual Car Show – 1952 N. Railroad Ave. in Arcadia

October 31 (6- 9 p.m.)

Town of Arcadia’s Fall Festival

Arrest Reports

The following arrests were made by local law enforcement agencies.


Jason Howell of Castor was arrested for forgery.

Tamomthus Venzant of Helfin was arrested for operating a vehicle with a suspended license/no license issued. 

Christopher Brown of Ringgold was arrested for simple criminal damage to property.

Claudia Michel of Arcadia was arrested for failure to appear. 

Tycorus Haulcy of Arcadia was arrested for domestic abuse battery.

Reubin Edwards of Ringgold was arrested for domestic abuse battery.


Kabronica Madden of Ringgold was arrested for battery of a dating partner.

Demarcus Pearson of Arcadia was arrested for battery of a dating partner (pregnant victim) and simple criminal damage to property. 

James Hayden Blythe of Solomon Loop, Dubberly, was arrested by the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office as a fugitive from Bienville Parish. Bond was set at $100,000.


James Blythe of Dubbery was arrested for theft.

Marvin Crane of Ruston was arrested for distribution of marijuana, possession of marijuana, first offense possession of synthetic cannabinoid, possession of drug paraphernalia and distribution/manufacture of crack cocaine. 


Nichlas Harvey of Castor was arrested as a fugitive and for operating a vehicle with a suspended license/other offenses. 


Kami Dodge, 33, of Gibsland was arrested by the Minden Probation and Parole for a probation violation by testing positive for marijuana. Dodge is alleged to be five months pregnant.

This information has been provided by a law enforcement agency as public information. Persons named as suspects in a criminal investigation, or arrested and charged with a crime, have not been convicted of any criminal offense and are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Notice of Death – September 26

Notice of Death – September 26, 2023

Michael Allen Sanders

May 27, 1965 – Sept. 21, 2023

Arcadia, La.

Celebration of Life: 5 – 7 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, Riverside Coney Island

Keldrick Kiez Dunn

June 24, 1997 – Sept. 24, 2023

Homer, La. 

Visitation: 1 – 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 29, 2023, Memorial Funeral Home, Homer. Wake to follow

Funeral: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023, Homer High School Auditorium

Ruth Ann Critton

Feb. 26, 1952 – Sept. 25, 2023

Homer, La.

Visitation: 2- 6 p.m., Friday, Sept. 29, 2023, Memorial Funeral Home, Homer

Funeral: 2:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023, Friendship Baptist Church, Haynesville. Interment to follow

Etta Jo New McCullough

July 5, 1937 – Sept. 16, 2023

Homer/Minden, La.

Reception/visitation: Following graveside service.

Graveside service: 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, Mt. Mariah Church and Cemetery, 2 miles north of Arcadia on Highway 9.

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

Email threat sent to school principal being investigated

The Bienville Parish Sheriff’s Office (BPSO), Louisiana State Police (LSP) and the FBI are investigating an alleged threat affecting students and faculty of Ringgold School Complex. The threat was reportedly sent to a school principal by email this past Friday, September 22. 

“We have contacted the LSP Fusion Center regarding the email,” said Bienville Parish Sheriff John Ballance. “Bienville Parish School Board’s IT people are looking into the veracity of the email, utilizing investigative tools available to us.”

According to Ballance they have acquired the IP address that the threat was sent from, but they must obtain a search warrant for it and that could take a couple of days. 

The following are two messages sent out from the Bienville Parish School Board to parents of children who attend Ringgold School Complex. 

Sent Saturday, September 23:

“Good afternoon, due to issues at the Ringgold School Complex please do not go to the school this weekend. No students, faculty or staff are allowed at the school today and tomorrow. Thanks.”

Sent Sunday, September 24:

“Good evening. This is Superintendent William Wysinger of the Bienville Parish School Board. On Friday evening, September 22, 2023, an email threat was sent to one of our principals. The email stated that someone was using the school telephone to prank their phone and that they wanted it to stop or they would start pranking the principal. It further stated that if it was not taken care of the damages would be a dead kid or teacher. 

Law enforcement was promptly notified and currently the Louisiana State Police, the FBI and the Bienville Parish Sheriff’s Office are investigating the authenticity of the threat. Student and employee safety has and will continue to be our number one priority. A heightened police presence will be visible at the two campuses involved tomorrow as we continue to investigate this threat. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Central Office at 318-263-9416. Please visit your district’s web based Student Progress Center for more details.”

The Bienville Parish Journal will be updating this story as more details become available.

Ringgold’s Most Wanted: Greg Lawson back in custody after 3 decades on the run

By Paige Nash

A tip received by the FBI – New Orleans division has led to the arrest of Greg Lawson, 63, of Ringgold, after three decades on the run. 

Deputies with the Bienville Parish Sheriff’s Office traveled to Houston, Texas Wednesday afternoon, September 20, to pick Lawson up and book him into the Claiborne Parish Detention Center. According to Bienville Parish Sheriff John Ballance, FBI agents arrested Lawson in Mexico.

The Shreveport Times reported in April of 1990 that Lawson, then age 30, was in an altercation with Seth Garlington, then age 21, also of Ringgold, when a “shoot-out” occurred outside of Clayborn’s Grocery Store along Highway 154 in Ringgold on April 24. Garlington suffered four gunshot wounds, including one to the hand and two other superficial wounds. He was transported to Schumpert Medical Center’s intensive-care unit and later released. 

Lawson was booked on a charge of attempted second-degree murder, but was soon released on a bond of $50,000.

The following month, May 1990, the Shreveport Times reported that Lawson was indicted on 12 charges by a Bienville Parish Grand Jury, including aggravated assault, aggravated criminal damage, attempted second-degree murder, criminal damage to motor vehicles, attempted manslaughter, battery with a dangerous weapon, illegal use of a firearm and disturbing the peace. Lawson pleaded innocent and was released on a bond of $175,000.

The trial was moved to Claiborne District Court in Homer due to pretrial publicity in Bienville Parish.

It only took the 12-person jury half an hour to find Greg Max Lawson guilty, but Lawson was nowhere to be found. According to reports, while the jury was deliberating, Lawson who was free on bond simply walked out of the courtroom. Bienville Parish authorities began seeking to re-arrest Lawson on the 12 charges. Bienville Parish Sheriff at the time, Joe Storey, told the Times, “Once we knew he was indicted, we couldn’t find him anywhere.”

Judge Robert Y. Butler issued a bench warrant for his arrest. Lawson was facing up to 50 years in prison.

Lawson became a fugitive. In 2007, the FBI offered a $10,000 reward for any new information that may lead to his arrest. Over the span of three decades, there have been numerous reported sightings of Lawson with some tips putting him in foreign countries.  

Lawson’s mother, Naomi Lawson, passed away in 2012. In her obituary, it stated that Lawson was residing in Sao Paulo, Brazil. 

This arrest can largely be attributed to the coordinating work by the FBI’s New Orleans and Shreveport divisions, Mexican immigration and Bienville Parish Sheriff’s Office. 

Arcadia council addresses town’s dogs at large; predatory issue

By Michelle Bates

Dog biting is becoming an issue in Arcadia, and the legal process by which aggressive dogs are handled has come up for discussion.

District 5 Councilman Timothy Williams brought up the issue in September’s monthly meeting, asking Chief of Police Ciera Murphy what could be done. While he didn’t elaborate on the specifics of the dog biting, Williams said he was concerned about dogs at large biting people.

“We’ve been having a lot of dog biting and some constituents were asking about the process regarding dogs not on a leash,” Williams said. “If a dog bites an individual, what’s the process after they contact the police?”

Murphy explained that if they can identify the dog’s owner, then the owner is cited. If a dog owner is cited, it is a $100 fine, she said.

“If the dog needs to be tested for rabies, we make the necessary arrangements for that,” she said. “We advise the individual to go to their doctor to make sure there’s no rabies, and if it’s an aggressive enough dog, we’ll take it into custody.”

While there is no designated animal control officer, Mayor O’Landis Millican said Arcadia does have a place to house dogs in custody on Jonesboro Road.

“Once the pens fill up, then we take them to Homer and let the vet decide what to do with them,” he said. “We feed and house them, and once it fills up, we take them to Homer and let them take care of it. Sometimes, if it’s a stray dog, we give the person time to claim ownership.”

District 2 Councilwoman Melanie Monroe said she walks in the morning and being approached by an unleashed dog is one of her worst fears.

“There are a lot of stray dogs around my house, and I wake up in the morning, and I’ve had a dog laying on my front porch,” she said.

“The only time we get involved is when we’re called about an aggressive dog,” Murphy said. “I have the same issue. I come out of my house in the morning and there’s a pack of dogs. And most people won’t take ownership of the dog, because they know it comes along with a citation.”

She said this is an issue that she will be investigating closer as the department receives many calls about stray or aggressive dogs.

A Bright Future for Arcadia: Embracing Positive Change

Dear fellow Arcadians,

I hope this message finds you in good health and high spirits. As your councilman, I wanted to take a moment to share some exciting news and reaffirm our commitment to making Arcadia an even better place to live, work, and play. Positive changes are happening in our beloved city, and I am thrilled to share them with you.

1. Investing in Our Infrastructure:

Our city is embarking on a journey of infrastructure revitalization. We understand that well-maintained roads, bridges, and public facilities are essential for the growth and prosperity of our community. We are securing funding for several key projects that will enhance roads, public facilities such as all the parks, and improve the overall quality of life for our residents.

2. Environmental Sustainability:

Arcadia is embracing a cleaner and eye-catching initiatives to protect our environment and preserve our natural beauty. We are actively working on programs to reduce litter, increase green spaces, and promote renewable energy sources. Together, we can ensure that Arcadia remains a sustainable and eco-friendly place for generations to come.

3. Supporting Local Businesses:

Our local businesses are the backbone of our community, and we are committed to supporting their growth. We are working to streamline regulations and provide incentives to help entrepreneurs thrive. By fostering a strong business environment, we can create more jobs and stimulate economic development.

4. Community Engagement:

Your input is invaluable to us. We are expanding opportunities for community engagement through town hall meetings, online forums, committees, and surveys. Your feedback helps us shape policies and projects that reflect your needs and desires.

5. Public Safety and Community Policing:

The safety of our residents is a top priority. We are enhancing public safety measures and promoting community policing initiatives to build trust and strengthen the bond between law enforcement and our community.

6. Education and Youth Programs:

Our children are our future, and we are investing in their education and well-being. We are collaborating with schools and organizations to expand after-school programs, scholarships, and extracurricular activities. By empowering our youth, we ensure a bright future for Arcadia.

7. Cultural and Recreational Opportunities:

Arcadia is a city of rich culture and diverse interests. We are working to expand cultural and recreational opportunities for ALL residents, from art exhibitions and music festivals to parks and sports facilities. These initiatives will help foster a sense of unity and belonging in our community.

These are just a few examples of the positive changes happening in Arcadia. We are committed to a bright and prosperous future for our city, and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve you as your councilman.

I encourage all of you to stay engaged, participate in community events, and share your ideas with us. Together, we can continue to make Arcadia a place we are proud to call home.

Thank you for your trust and support, and let’s look forward to the exciting journey ahead.

Timothy Williams
Arcadia City Councilman

REOPENED: US Highway 80 in Ada

(UPDATE 9/20/2023):

DOTD advises motorists that US 80 in Ada, Bienville Parish has been REOPENED following a train derailment that occurred on September 1st.

One lane is closed near the derailment site but through traffic can now travel on US 80. Please be cautious of railroad crews and equipment that may still be accessing the area for continued clean up operations.

(UPDATE 9/6/2023 4:00 p.m.):

US 80 in Ada remains closed at this time to allow for the continued mobilization and clean-up efforts of the railroad company following a train derailment that occured on Friday, September 1, 2023.

The road closure is anticipated to remain in place for the remainder of the week and possibly into the week of September 11, 2023.

DOTD will issue another update when additional information becomes available.

(Original notification 9/1/2023 7:30 p.m.):

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development advises motorists that, effective immediately, US 80 from Oscar Kilpatrick Road to Martin Road in Ada, Bienville Parish is closed due to a train derailment.

This road closure is necessary in order to allow the railroad company to mobilize equipment in order to begin clean-up operations.

Access to Oscar Kilpatrick Road and Martin Road will be maintained during the closure. At this time, there is no estimated time frame for reopening the roadway.

The train was not carrying hazardous material so no evacuations are necessary, though DOTD urges motorists to drive with caution through the area.

Restrictions/Permits: Total road closure at the specified location.

Alternate Route: Eastbound through traffic on US 80 will need to utilize Exit 61 (Gibsland).

Safety reminder:

DOTD appreciates your patience and reminds you to please drive with caution through the construction site and be on the lookout for work crews and their equipment.

Area residents should exercise caution when driving, walking, or biking near an active construction zone.

Additional information:

Call 511, visit www.511la.org, or download the Louisiana 511 mobile app for additional information. Out-of-state travelers may call 1-888-ROAD-511 (1-888-762-3511). Motorists may also monitor the LA DOTD website at www.dotd.la.gov, by selecting MyDOTD, or by visiting the DOTD Facebook and Twitter pages.

Contact Information:

Erin Buchanan
Public Information Officer
Shreveport-Bossier District
(318) 549-8402

BOM provides financial literacy resources to local schools and community

BOM is bringing financial literacy education to students and residents in several parishes in Louisiana.

Students at 12 schools and the surrounding community have free access to Banzai, an award-winning online program and content library that allows users to practice real-world finance from the safety of their home or classroom using any internet- enabled device. At a time when a solid foundation of practical financial knowledge is critical, these resources will make a huge impact on users.

Through the Banzai online courses, students try out managing a budget, saving for a goal, and dealing with unexpected financial pitfalls. Teachers are able to easily monitor and grade student progress remotely. Other resources, which include articles, calculators, and personalizable Coach sessions, explain everything from the basics of filing your taxes to how health insurance works. These resources are available at bofm.teachbanzai.com/wellness.

“Thanks to BOM, area students will now have access to a wide array of courses and resources designed to help prepare them for our increasingly complex world,” says Morgan Vandagriff, co- founder of Banzai. “We wouldn’t be able to provide these tools without their support.”

BOM is working with Banzai to build financial literacy in the community by investing time, money, industry experience, and a variety of bank resources. Now, they’re taking their commitment to education a step further. Through their help, students have access to Banzai learning tools, virtual or in-classroom presentations from a BOM expert, and even class visits to a branch to see it all in person.

Banzai resources are used by over 100,000 teachers across the U.S. These educational tools align with Louisiana’s state curriculum requirements, making the program a fun way for students to gain vital skills and an ideal way for anyone in the community to increase their financial literacy. After finishing the Banzai courses, users will know how to track where their money is and what it’s for, recognize financial trade-offs, and plan for a financially sound future.

Teachers interested in using Banzai can visit bofm.teachbanzai.com or call 888-8-BANZAI.

For more information about Banzai visit banzai.org
For more information about BOM visit bofm.com

Caution urged for hunters in deer stands

There’s something about the deer we hunt. They’re sharper than we are and the blink of an eye or a slap at a mosquito may be all it takes to cause a deer to turn tail and run. As a result, it’s more to the hunter’s advantage to hunt from elevated positions as deer usually are looking for danger at eye level or lower. Sitting 16 feet up a tree gives the hunter an advantage and when it comes to waylaying a wily buck, we need all the advantages we can get.

When I started deer hunting years ago, there were no tree stands on the market. If you hunted from an elevated position, it meant gathering up a bunch of two-by-fours, hammer, nails and saw to construct something that would keep you above a deer’s line of vision.

Some of the first ones I constructed were not only weird looking contraptions, they were also unsafe. Switching your Red Man from one jaw to the other was often all that was needed to flip you out and send you to the ground.

Years later as climbing stands and ladder stands came on the market, these proved safer than the man-made contraptions. Because they were so heavily used, news began filtering in of accidents resulting in falling out of stands.

Dr. Bobby Dale, a life-long hunter, is also an emergency room physician who practices medicine in his hometown of Tupelo, Mississippi. Visiting with Dr. Dale at the annual conference of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association in Johnson City, TN several years ago, we had occasion to talk about what is more likely to injure hunters while hunting. Dale noted that contrary to what many believe, it’s not the older and more fragile hunter who is more apt to be injured; it’s the strong, virile, younger guy.

“From what I’ve observed from patients I have seen in the ER where I practice, it’s the younger one more prone to suffer serious injuries while hunting. This is particularly true concerning falls from elevated deer stands. In fact,” Dale said, “I recently read a report that revealed the majority of bow hunters who fall from tree stands are in their 20s and 30s. Also, about 10% of these injuries are alcohol-related.

“While it is true that guys in their 50s and 60s and older have bones that are more easily broken, I don’t see nearly as many injuries from falling from a stand from this older group. It’s just a fact that the older guy is more cautious,” he added.

Dr. Dale noted that a fall, even one from just a few feet, can result in serious injury. Obviously, the further you fall, the more serious injuries become, he said.

“I’ve seen victims who fell from stands come to the ER with everything from closed head injuries, bleeding on the brain, spinal fractures with paralysis, broken arms, legs and ribs, collapsed lungs, ruptured spleens in addition to profuse external bleeding,” Dale said.

While mishaps using home-made deer stands are more likely to result in serious injuries, manufactured stands can also cause falls if not used properly.

“Manufactured stands have to meet a safety code and the vast majority of these stands are safe when properly used. However, they still have to be secured to the tree in the proper manner to be completely safe. Climbing stands are quite safe but when care is not taken in using them, they can result in twisting or slipping when not correctly secured to the tree. The result can be disastrous,” he added.

With deer season rapidly approaching – archery season begins October 1 – make sure your tree stands are in top notch working order and that you practice all the safety rules having to do with elevated deer stands. It takes only one moment of lapse in judgement or one misstep to make looking for a big buck the least of your concerns.

‘Bug Out Bags’

Bug out bag – go bag -survival bag – I’ve heard several different terms for a pre-packed bag that one might keep handy in the event they need to up and leave their current situation in a hurry. If you ask the most hard-core prepper, all the different labels have specific meanings, but I’m not that guy – I tend to use all the terms interchangeably, which is probably wrong, but unless we’re having the “clip vs magazine” debate, I try not to get wrapped around the axel about vernacular.

So, what is a “bug out bag?” Simply put, it’s a satchel of some kind that is ready to go at a moment’s notice. I keep one of these kits with me most of the time, and I would encourage others to do the same. They need not be extravagant, although you can certainly sink a lot of money into them. I’ve found over the years that it’s actually pretty easy to rack up a hefty tab when trying to put one of these kits together, even though spending a fortune isn’t necessarily necessary. See what I did there?

Anyway, let’s talk bag packing specifics.

First, let’s discuss the bag itself. My personal recommendation is that you don’t skimp on this item. Invest in a quality bag. Buy once cry once. This thing needs to be sturdy. It’s likely going to get tossed around a lot even if you never use it in an emergency. So, it can’t be a wimpy thing. It also needs to be comfortable to carry because you might be toting this thing a long way. Having your back and shoulders on fire within the first mile of an emergency trek is not good. Contrary to popular belief, size isn’t everything. You don’t have to have the biggest pack, as long as it’ll perform when you need it most.

Although the bag itself is a highly important part of the kit, you should buy it last. Buy everything you need / want to go in the bag first and pile it all up on your wife’s dining table. Look at the size of the pile, marvel at your survival prowess for a moment, and then go buy a bag sized for the contents you selected. Otherwise, you’ll end up overfilling whatever bag you purchase, causing it to resemble a Sumo wrestler in skinny jeans. If you over-stuff the bag, then it won’t be functional.

Some of the items in your bag will, and should, be situationally dependent. Whatever environment you’re in, or that you’re heading into, will determine some of your needs. Urban environment or wilderness? Desert or mountains? Hot climate or cold? Pack your bag accordingly and change it up when circumstances dictate new necessities. The less you know about where you’re going, or where you might end up, the more options you need to prepare for.

When I pack a bug out bag, I pack a bag I can live out of for 48 hours. Professional preppers would tell me that means I’ll die in the 49 th hour, but I don’t usually traverse very far outside a known area. I’m not suggesting you follow my example – it’s just what I choose to do. That said, let’s discuss some items that are necessary, regardless of geographical location, and see what we can… unpack. Oh, how I love a good pun.

1.) Water. Water is heavy. You likely can’t carry much of it over any long distance but without it, you’ll die, like so fast. I generally pack two, 20oz bottles of water. It’s not “enough,” but I could survive off that for two days if I had to. A water filtration device is a good option, especially if you might be away from civilization for a long time, or if you need to hydrate a fellow “bugger outer.” A quality, water filtration straw would be an invaluable piece of kit if you’re near any fresh water source.

2.) Fire. No matter where you are on planet earth, fire and the ability to make fire is crucial for survival. Fire offers warmth, light, and will help you dry out wet clothing. Fire allows you to sterilize things, including water, and allows you to signal other people who might be trying to find you. I recommend having no less than three fire making devices in your bag, and at least two of them need to be waterproof.

3.) Light. I believe in the old adage that “two is one and one is none – but three is better.” When it comes to illuminating devices, you should have multiple. Lights are another thing you shouldn’t buy cheaply. Invest in at least one quality flashlight – bright but not big. A small keychain light could also be useful, as you won’t always need a lot of illumination. Consider making one of your lights a headlamp because it will allow you to work hands-free. A tinted light that won’t ruin your night vision (red or green) would be helpful in certain applications too. Having extra batteries for any battery powered device in your pack is just plain smart. The trade off here is that batteries get heavier the bigger they get. Consider carrying devices that accept smaller batteries, and perhaps use devices that all take the same size batteries. Continuity can make things easier.

4.) A jacket – preferably one that’s hooded and water repellent. Because you might get rained on, duh. A survival poncho or two wouldn’t hurt either. They’re super light, compact, and can also work as a makeshift, temporary shelter if you opt not to pack a whole tarp.

5.) A knife. Nay, two knives – a big hearty one and a small one. The big one is for big jobs like hacking, chopping, and digging – the small one is for more tedious tasks. The role of a quality knife in any survival situation cannot be overstated.

6.) Medical gear! A trauma kit is an absolute must have!

You should consider food items too – particularly stuff that has very high caloric content and that will stay fresh for months at a time – until you remember to go through your bag and rotate the inventory. Wireless battery packs for charging devices like cell phones and GPS units can be game changers. Just don’t forget a charging cable or the battery pack will be worthless. Some heavy-duty twine or 550 cord could prove helpful in an emergency and won’t add much weight to the kit. Cash? Sure, why not? That stuff could come in handy assuming society hasn’t collapsed. A spare magazine, OR TWO for your everyday carry pistol, which should already be on your person, not in your bag – or if you intend to bug out with a rifle because the commies are taking over, some extra ammo for that ol’ girl wouldn’t hurt either. Lastly, it probably wouldn’t hurt to have an extra pair of socks and plenty of band aids. Blisters are real, yo.

Look, I’m not a “survivalist” in the truest sense of the word, but I do have a good understanding of what the human body needs to survive. When packing your bag, pack for conditions that you’re most likely to encounter and make additions using common sense. Just be sure to leave empty space in your pack should you find something along your way that you need to carry with you. Ounces equal pounds and pounds equal pain. Treading the fine line between necessity and overkill can be tough. I’m still figuring it out myself. I challenge you to start somewhere, and if nothing else be a little more prepared tomorrow than you are today. Until next week…

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


Please submit your questions to Ryan via email at Ryan@9and1tactical.com

(Ryan Barnette is not a licensed attorney 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 advice.)

One lost kid and a handful of moms

We are now about a month into the new school year, which means things are in full swing around my house. Between daily homework, cheerleading, football games, homecomings, dances and festivals, there is not time for much else right now.  

I attended a football game last week, only to watch my oldest cheer, because I know nothing about football. It can be overwhelming with all the people, the noise, trying to watch what is going on plus keep up with the younger two, who cannot sit still for 5 minutes.  

I had a guy I know come up to me as I was following them around and make the comment, “You never sit down, do you?” Nope, no I do not.  

At every game, you can find young kids playing football, digging in the dirt beside the bleachers, making their way to the concession stand or groups of teenagers walking around staring at their phones.

Well as I was following my two around, I heard a little boy holler, “MOM!” 

Even though I knew my two were right within my eyesight, it was a natural reaction to spin my head around. It took seconds for me to realize it wasn’t one of mine, but as I looked around, I noticed about ten other women who were within earshot also quickly turned their heads to look in the direction of the little boy.  

I think it would be a fair assessment to say all these women are probably also mothers.  

But none of these moms were HIS mom and the little boy began panicking. I walked towards him along with a handful of the other mothers who heard him call out. I reached him first since I was already walking close by. He told me he couldn’t find his mom and asked if I knew her. He told me her name and it didn’t sound familiar, but luckily two of the other mothers who walked up, did know her. They asked if I could stay with him, while they walked around to try and find her. 

Of course, I stayed. He calmed down a little bit but was still upset. My motherly instincts kicked in and I tried my best to reassure him that the other two moms would find her.  

About five minutes later, she walked up followed by the two others who said they knew her. She had briefly walked away because her other son happened to be on the field playing in the game and was injured. So, in a frenzy she ran onto the field to make sure he was okay.  

I could tell she was stressed and worried. I felt for her and was completely sympathetic to her motherhood journey.  

Having multiple children involved in multiple things – it can be hard to keep up and you constantly feel as if you are getting pulled into 5,000 different directions at once. Even for mothers of only one child, trying to find a balance between motherhood, work and still having a personal life. It is not for the faint of heart.  

The mother hugged her son and thanked the three of us who helped him.  

I walked away grateful that it turned out well and also very appreciative of this community of moms. Even though we all did not know each other, and this was not our child – we are still moms. I feel as though it is natural to “mother,” especially in these types of situations when an unknown child is clearly distressed. It did not matter that he did not belong to me.

Sometimes I not only mother my own children, but I mother my sister’s kids, my neighbors’ kids, the lost kid and sometimes I even try to “mother” my own mother. (That usually does not end very well.) 

But sometimes we must help each other out. I surely hope that if my kid ever became separated from me, a fellow mom would come to the rescue.  

It most definitely takes a community to raise them, and we have to stick together.  

Stick around for next week’s column titled, “Mothering my own Mother.”

(Paige Nash is a wife, mother of three, digital journalist for the Webster Parish Journal and publisher for the Bienville and Claiborne Parish Journal.)


Everyone has a personal wonderland. When my brother visits a hardware store, a garden center, or a tackle shop he has hit peak existence as those places are his wonderland. When my wife is in an antique store it’s her little slice of heaven. Years ago, my mother loved art galleries and art supply stores. My friend Anthony’s wonderland is Disneyland (though that seems like cheating). For me it’s restaurant trade shows, and restaurant supply showrooms and stores.

A few weeks ago, I was in New Orleans and dropped by the Restaurant Depot to pick up a couple of items we needed at the bakery. For those who aren’t familiar with Restaurant Depot, just think Sam’s Club or Costco with wholesale prices— equipment, small wares, supplies, and a lot of food— exclusively for restaurateurs. My supposed 15 minute visit to shop for a couple of items turned into a two-hour browsing and purchasing session. Welcome to my Wonderland.

When I was a little kid, I could spend an hour on the small toy aisle in the Ben Franklin Five and Dime store. It probably consisted of three shelves and 12 linear feet. That was my five-year-old wonderland. Any type of restaurant supply store that has a showroom is going to grab my attention for several hours these days, and the National Restaurant Association trade show that I attend every year in Chicago captures my attention and sparks my imagination for several days.

I got to the Restaurant Depot that morning just after it opened and dozens of small independent restaurant operators from across the city were scampering through the aisles buying groceries and small wares to get them through the Sunday brunch/lunch service. It took me back to the early days when I was in the kitchen full time, and we were a struggling upstart restaurant doing everything we could to survive. It was 1987 and I was working 90 hours a week, living in a one-room apartment above a garage, paying myself $250.00 a week and loving every minute of it. Those are still some of the fondest days of my career.

As I passed the independents who were shopping for that day’s supplies it took me back to simpler times. Don’t get me wrong. I love where I am today. The volume we do wouldn’t allow anyone to go to the grocery store with any frequency anymore, and I’m grateful for that. Very grateful. But I also understand that— in those early days— I was the guy walking around the grocery store picking up supplemental products to make it through lunch to get to this point. I had to be that guy. Truthfully, I loved being that guy.

There’s joy in building a business and growing it from an idea, concept, simple thought, or a notion sketched on a cocktail napkin. The process of turning those thoughts and ideas into an actual brick-and-mortar concepts is my dream job. It’s what I have always done. It’s what I still do. I have a drawer full of notebooks and cocktail napkins with current, former, and future restaurants mapped out on them. It’s the most satisfying and gratifying part of my job.

Walking the aisles of the Restaurant Depot I wanted to pull every one of those restaurateurs aside— many of whom looked frustrated and stressed— and tell them, “These are the ‘good ‘ol days.’ You may not be able to see it now, but this was your dream and it’s come true. This is what you fought for. This what you saved money to do. You are doing it. You are living it. Trust me, one day you’re going to look back on the times you were just getting started— and were having to go to the store to buy your groceries for the day because you didn’t have enough money in the bank to put together a large order with one of the mainline suppliers— and remember them fondly. Just hang in there. It’s tough, but if it was easy everyone would do it, and everyone can’t do it. It’s the restaurant business. We have one of the highest mortality rates of all businesses. 80% of all independent restaurants close after the third year. But you’re still here. You’re doing it. Just keep following your passion. Do what it takes— whatever it takes— to make your restaurant successful. Give it all you’ve got. Change when you need to change, never stand still, and follow your passion because success always follows passion. Get a little bit better every day, and when you take a few steps backward just wake up the next day and keep pressing forward. Don’t worry about the criticism. You’ll never be criticized by someone doing more than you. You’ll only be criticized by someone doing less. Keep moving ever onward.”

But I didn’t pull anyone aside and say that. I wanted to, but I didn’t, because that would be weird and creepy, and most young restaurateurs can’t see the forest for the trees at this stage anyway. It’s not until one comes out on the other side of those early days that they realize how blessed they were to be able to start something from scratch and build it into a viable business that is creating jobs and opportunities for others.

It’s not brain surgery. I’ve learned if you put your nose to the grindstone, work hard, and dedicate yourself to a mission of quality and consistency great things happen. Will there be problems? Definitely. Almost daily. But business is problems. A successful business is problems well handled. If you can’t handle problems, it’s time to get out of business.

It’s not always a success. I’ve had failures. Plenty of them. But I’ve learned from every one of them. The expensive mistakes are the ones I’ve learned most from and have rarely repeated. I don’t consider myself a winner. I’m just a loser who’s never given up. Occasionally, you hit it on something and if you can keep a positive cashflow then everything works out and the world spins in greased grooves for a while.

If you are a restaurateur early in your career, keep your head down and keep moving forward. Treat people well and always try to do the right thing in every situation, whether it be life or business. Prioritize your spiritual self and your family before your business, but when it’s needed, hunker down, and do what it takes to make it through the challenging times. You’ve got this. And if you see me, wide-eyed and smiling while walking around a restaurant show, a wholesale warehouse. or a showroom, pull me aside. Let’s talk shop. You’ll be able to teach me something, too. After 42 years in this business, I’m learning new things every day.


Grilled and Chilled Asparagus with Dill Mayonnaise

For the asparagus

2 lbs Asparagus, fresh

3 Tbl  Olive oil

2 tsp Kosher Salt

1 tsp Black Pepper, freshly ground

Toss the asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange the asparagus on a medium-heat grill and cook for 5-7 minutes. Turn the asparagus often to prevent burning.

Remove from the grill and cool.

Note: Asparagus can be baked in an oven set to “broil.” Place on a cookie sheet, roll in olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and broil for five minutes or until al dente.

Dill Mayonnaise

 2 Egg Yolks

1 tsp Salt

1 /2 tsp Dijon Mustard

1 1 /2 tsp Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed

1 tsp White Vinegar

1 cup Canola Oil

1/4 cup Fresh Dill, chopped

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, salt, and mustard. When mixture becomes light in color, add lemon juice. Blend.

Drizzle oil slowly into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly. After adding half of the oil, stir in vinegar. Continue whisking and add remaining oil. Add fresh dill.

The mayonnaise may be held refrigerated for one week.

To serve, arrange the chilled asparagus on a serving platter. Serve the mayonnaise on the side for dipping.


6-8 servings

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

Today in History

1789 – The U.S. Congress authorized the office of Postmaster General.

1792 – The French Republic was proclaimed.

1862 – U.S. President Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. It stated that all slaves held within rebel states would be free as of January 1, 1863.

1903 – Italo Marchiony was granted a patent for the ice cream cone.

1914 – Three British cruisers were sunk by one German submarine in the North Sea. 1,400 British sailors were killed. This event alerted the British to the effectiveness of the submarine.

1927 – In Chicago, IL, Gene Tunney successfully defended his heavyweight boxing title against Jack Dempsey in the famous “long-count” fight.

1949 – The Soviet Union exploded its first atomic bomb successfully.

1955 – Commercial television began in Great Britain. The rules said that only six minutes of ads were allowed each hour and there was no Sunday morning TV permitted.

1961 – U.S. President John F. Kennedy signed a congressional act that established the Peace Corps.

1964 – “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” debuted on NBC-TV.

1966 – The U.S. lunar probe Surveyor 2 crashed into the moon.

1969 – Willie Mays hit his 600th career home run.

1980 – A border conflict between Iran and Iraq developed into a full-scale war.

1986 – U.S. President Ronald Reagan addressed the U.N. General Assembly and voiced a new hope for arms control. He also criticized the Soviet Union for arresting U.S. journalist Nicholas Daniloff.

1988 – Canada’s government apologized for the internment of Japanese-Canadian’s during World War II. They also promised compensation.

1990 – Saudi Arabia expelled most of the Yememin and Jordanian envoys in Riyadh. The Saudi accusations were unspecific.

1991 – An article in the London newspaper “The Mail” revealed that John Cairncross admitted to being the “fifth man” in the Soviet Union’s British spy ring.

1992 – The U.N. General Assembly expelled Yugoslavia for its role in the war between Bosnia and Herzegovina.

1994 – The U.S. upgraded its military control in Haiti.

1998 – The U.S. and Russia signed two agreements. One was to privatize Russia’s nuclear program and the other was to stop plutonium stockpiles and nuclear scientists from leaving the country.

1998 – U.S. President Clinton addressed the United Nations and told world leaders to “end all nuclear tests for all time”. He then sent the long-delayed global test-ban treaty to the U.S. Senate.

1998 – Keely Smith received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

2023 – Apple’s iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus were released.

Upcoming Events

Please send all non-profit calendar events to bpjnewsla@gmail.com

September 22 (10 a.m.)

Faulk Auction Company – Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting

1968 N. Railroad Ave in Arcadia

September 22

Ringgold High School Homecoming vs. Plain Dealing High School

September 23

38th Annual Slabtown Fall Festival

September 24 (3 p.m.)

Mt. Calvary Baptist Church Presents Youth Explosion

September 25 (6 p.m.)

Political Forum – Arcadia Events Center

September 28 (7 – 10 a.m.)

Lion’s Club Pancake Breakfast

September 28 (6 p.m.)

Arcadia High School’s Literacy Night

September 30 (8:30 a.m.)

Crawford Elementary Eagle Invitational (Grades K – 6) – Bonnie and Clyde Trade Days and RV Park

October 3 (6 – 8 p.m.)

Arcadia Police Department’s National Night Out 2023 Block Party 

North Railroad Avenue in Arcadia

October 18 (6 – 8 p.m.)

Church Community Fall Festival – Arcadia Events Center

October 21 (8 a.m. – 2 p.m.)

CASA’s 13th Annual Car Show – 1952 N. Railroad Ave. in Arcadia

Notice of Death – September 21

Notice of Death – September 21, 2023

Cora Edwards Powell

Jamestown, La.

Nov. 04, 1941 – Sept. 17, 2023

Graveside services: 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, Providence Cemetery in Ringgold, La. 

Philip Hudgins Kitchens

Minden, La. 

March 16, 1945 – Sept. 7, 2023

Graveside service: 11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, Gardens of Memory Cemetery, Minden, La.

Etta “Jo” New McCollough

July 5, 1937 – Sept. 16, 2023

Minden, La/Athens, La

Graveside Service: 1 p.m. Sunday, October 1, 2023, Mt. Mariah Church and Cemetery, 2 miles North of Arcadia along Highway 9

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