BREAKING NEWS: Arrests made in connection to human remains discovered in Ringgold last week

Photos courtesy of the Bienville Parish Sheriff’s Office.

By Paige Nash

The Bienville Parish Sheriff’s Department has made four arrests and seized twenty-six dogs from 2747 Pine Street in Ringgold, in connection to the human remains discovered in a wooded area at the end of the street last Friday evening, October 27. 

The remains were sent for forensic autopsy, but according to Bienville Parish Sheriff John Ballance there was enough evidence on scene to confirm that it was recently reported missing person, Donovan Brooks, 40, of Ringgold.

According to Ballance, a billfold was found on the scene in a pair of shorts near the remains that indicated that Brooks was the owner. Brooks is believed to have fallen victim to a gruesome dog attack which resulted in his death. This marks two attacks on Pine Street over the course of the last month. 

A long list of interviews and questioning yesterday evening and into the night, resulted in warrants for the arrest of Charlotte Hubbard, 77; Shawn Hubbard, 32; Gerald Miller, 51, on charges of negligent homicide and obstruction of justice; and Cameron Kelly, 21, for accessory after the fact. All were booked into the Bienville Parish Jail. 

The Hubbard’s own the dogs that were responsible for the hospitalization of Davyta Gray, 30, of Ringgold, in late September after he was viciously attacked and now is believed to have possibly murdered Brooks who was discovered at the end of the Pine Street last week.

Following the attack on Gray that took place on Sept. 27, the dogs were to be placed under a 10-day quarantine at the residence and the owners were summoned to court. 

It is believed now that Brooks was actually the first victim to suffer from an attack. He was reportedly last seen by his family on Sept. 26. Investigators have reason to believe that the remains have been there since that date. 

According to Ballance, deputies along with two veterinarians and an animal control officer from Webster Parish arrived at the residence early Tuesday afternoon to make the arrests, armed with dart guns.

“We were going in there under the impression that these dogs were vicious,” said Ballance. 

Nine large breed dogs, 17 small breeds and 4 puppies were seized from the property. They were transported to a holding facility until a judge decides their fate in the coming days.  

Ballance said a large black trash bag, believed to contain the remains of a larger breed dog, was also discovered in the woods near the property. 

Following the recent tragic events, Town of Ringgold Mayor Milton Vining is asking for continued prayers for the community and families affected. A community-wide prayer meeting is scheduled for Saturday, November 4 at 2:30 p.m. at the Ringgold Ball Park located across from the Town Hall. 

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.

BREAKING NEWS: Investigation underway following discovery of human remains in Ringgold

By Paige Nash

The Bienville Parish Sheriff’s Office (BPSO) is currently conducting an investigation following the discovery of human remains in Ringgold yesterday evening, October 27, around 8:30 p.m. 

According to Bienville Parish Sheriff John Ballance, the BPSO was summoned by request of the Ringgold Police Department to Pine Street last night. 

Human remains along with assorted clothing and other items were found in a wooded area at the end of the street. The Bienville Parish corner collected the remains and has submitted them to a forensic pathologist to determine a positive identification and cause of death. 

A 40-year-old Ringgold resident by the name of Donavan Damon Brooks has been missing since late September and was officially reported missing by his family on October 19. Local authorities investigating this missing person’s case have not said whether or not Brooks could be connected to this new case. 

During a separate investigation into the missing person, the family reported that he was last seen going into the neighborhood on Pine Street around October 9. In a news release, Ringold Police Department (RPD) Chief Freddie Peterson said Brooks had allegedly been bitten by dogs that reside at a home along the street, but that information has yet to be confirmed. 

On September 27, 30-year-old Davytav Gray also of Ringgold, was allegedly viciously attacked by about 10 dogs that reside on Pine Street. The attack resulted in serious injury with approximately 130 bites all over his body. He was transported to LSU in Shreveport and underwent multiple surgeries. Gray is still recovering. As of October 6, RPD Chief Peterson confirmed that the owner of the dogs had been summoned to court and the dogs were placed under a 10-day quarantine at the residence until the Health Department decided next steps. 

Missing person Donovan Brooks is approximately 150 pounds, 5’7″ and was last seen wearing a white t-shirt, blue jean shorts and white tennis shoes. For anyone who has any other information pertaining to either case, you are encouraged to call the Bienville Parish Sheriff’s Office at 318-263-2302. 

Free estate planning workshop coming to Ringold Library

A free estate planning presentation—“Who Gets My Land When I Die? And What Can I Do About It?”– will be offered on November 2, 2023, at the Ringgold Library in Ringgold, Louisiana. Attorney Paul Spillers will provide valuable information on wills and trusts, asset protection, tax consequences, property ownership, and estate planning tools.

Mr. Spillers is senior counsel at the Law Offices of Theus, Grisham, Davis & Leigh in Monroe, Louisiana. He specializes in estate planning and probate; litigation; oil, gas, and mineral law; taxation, and timber law.

This workshop is sponsored by Trailblazer RC&D.

There is no charge to attend this educational presentation. Doors will open at the Ringgold Library, 2078 Hall Street, Ringgold, Louisiana, on November 2, 2023, at 5:00 p.m. The presentation will begin at 5:30 p.m. and conclude at 7:00 p.m. To register to attend, call or text (318) 237-8350 and provide your contact information and the name of the workshop you would like to attend. Persons with disabilities who anticipate needing reasonable accommodation or who have questions about physical access should contact Trailblazer RC&D at (318) 255-3554 or prior to the meeting or event.

Free registration for this presentation is made possible by the support of Drax; Hunt Forest Products, LLC; Mudd & Holland Consulting Foresters, LLC; Canfor Southern Pine; Burnham Construction; LSU AgCenter; Louisiana Forestry Association; Louisiana Sustainable Forestry Initiative, and Trailblazer RC&D.

Contact Trailblazer RC&D regarding event sponsorship opportunities at (318) 237-8350. Trailblazer RC&D is a nonprofit organization that provides leadership, coordination, partnership development, and technical assistance projects to encourage strong communities, sustainable agriculture, and a healthy environment. 

Under the Radar NWLA app now available

By Paige Nash

Shawn White began Under The Radar NWLA in September 2019, covering sports from Class 2A-C along with some minor league local teams such as the Shreveport Mudbugs, Shreveport Mavericks and the Shreveport United. 

His motto, “Telling the Untold Stories,” rings true with White giving coverage to smaller and unfortunately more forgotten schools like Gibsland-Coleman, Doyline, Haynesville, Homer and Castor, over the years.

“Helping out with these publications, I saw a need with the small schools,”  White said.  “They needed coverage. It wasn’t a lack of interest just that there wasn’t enough people around to tell the stories. I saw my website as the outlet for that chance.”

White has written sports since 2014 with various publications in the Shreveport Times, Minden Press-Herald, Bossier Parish Tribune and The Advocare in New Orleans and Shreveport.

It has not come without setbacks though. Over the summer White discovered that his website views were down. Although that is not unusual for summer, he had people reaching out that a “blank screen” would come up whenever they attempted to access his website.

“I believed that a new algorithm had blocked my content on Facebook, my main source of access.  Other things happened with other social media, as well,” said White. “I decided that I needed a new avenue to get these stories out without social media.”

White was still writing for other papers and media pages, but his content along with the schools were not getting the attention they deserved.

White almost gave up.

“I sent messages to coaches that I was done and was seriously giving it up. I got the ‘thank you’ text and all, but I decided on one of my night owl sessions on my computer, I looked and found the ‘APPMYSITE’ website,” said White. “This was exactly my way to get around.  How cool to have my own app?”

He decided to give it one more shot. Although fall sports were almost lost, on October 11 the Android App launched.  A week later the iPhone app was released.

“I gave sneak peaks to some of the coaches and they seemed excited,” White said. 

The app is now available on the App Store for iPhones and Google Play for Android.  

“I’m very proud of it. It’s been a family affair with the support of my wife to pursue my passions for these schools and my writing,” White said. “The logo and artwork you see is from my neice’s boyfriend, David Gramman, who owns a tattoo shop in Leesville and currently works in Clarksville, Tennessee.”

The sports coverage in the area has grown tremendously over the last few years and White is happy to see that and proud to be a part of.

He said, “If it helps one student athlete get noticed, the app has done its job. Hopefully this makes it more accessible to college and university to find that diamond that may be Under The Radar.”

Assessor candidate Tyler Nutt asking for community support

As we approach the runoff election, I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for the prayers and support shown to me the last few months. Meeting new faces, attending community events, and speaking at public forums has been a wonderful and humbling experience. We are continuing our community involvement throughout and beyond the final month of the election, and I hope to interact with as many residents of the parish as possible.

I am asking for your support on November 18th as I continue the pursuit of the position of Tax Assessor to further my work in the office I have cherished for the last 6 years, working under current Assessor Carol Brown.

During my time at the Assessor’s Office, I have become a Certified Louisiana Deputy Assessor, learning the skills and procedures to prepare me for a higher position within the office. I am confident in my abilities to provide for the people of our parish, through both ensuring fair and equitable assessments and making it a priority to keep the entirety of Bienville Parish well-informed on matters that affect them.

I am excited at the opportunity to continue to serve Bienville Parish like others in my family have for over 60 years. Please continue to pray for our parish that I am proud to call home, and please exercise your right to vote this November!

Mt. Lebanon’s Fall Festival happening Nov. 4

The Mt. Lebanon Historical Society invites you to join us on Saturday, November 4, 2023 for the Mt. Lebanon Fall Festival. Activities are from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, and include a silent auction, a cakewalk with DJ John Cole, cake auction with homemade cakes, and a quilt raffle.

The raffle features a beautiful Harvest Spice quilt, hand-made and donated by Emma Kidd. Quilt raffle tickets are $1.00 each, and the drawing will be at 3:00 p.m. You do not need to be present to win. Tickets can be purchased from Gibsland Grill, Gibsland Bank in Gibsland, Melinda Kidd at State Farm Insurance in Arcadia, any board member, or on site the day of the festival.

The Country Store will serve lunch from 11:00 am until 2:45 pm. Menu: gourmet hot dogs with all trimmings, chips, desserts, and a drink (tea, soft drink, or water). Make plans to attend! If you are unable to attend, please consider making a donation to our museum. This is a fun day, and an important fundraiser for our museum.

Proposed Black Bear Season Creates Controversy

I saw my first black bear in Louisiana several years ago when I was on a deer hunt in Madison Parish. My host had dropped me off at my deer stand for an afternoon hunt when we looked down the foot plot and saw a bear.

Grabbing my camera, we slowly walked in his direction and as we closed the distance to about 100 yards, the bear stood up, checked us out giving me the opportunity to snap a couple of photos before he turned and ambled away into the thicket.

Two years ago, my wife and I were visiting the Tensas National Wildlife Refuge as we spotted a female bear and two cubs a few yards from our car. I was able to snap a few photos before they disappeared into the woods.

Seldom does a day go by that I don’t read on Facebook and see photos of bears all around north Louisiana, mostly bears captured on trail cameras as they take advantage of deer feeders, often dragging them to the ground and destroying them.

Property owners and those who deer hunt in the Tensas and Madison Parish area often see their hunting camps broken into as bears search for food. Many have long called for a hunting season for bears and are hopeful that the recent news coming out of Baton Rouge will reach fruition.

The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission is expected to vote in its November meeting on the possibility of establishing a bear season for 2024 – 2025.

The situation regarding the growing number of bears has created spirited discussions from those who can’t wait for a season to curtail the numbers of bears that are showing up all across north Louisiana along with others who are opposed to the idea.

Is the possibility of a bear season something new for Louisiana? I found a listing of hunting seasons for Louisiana for the 1939-40 season that includes bears that could be hunted from November 1 through January 1 with a daily limit of one; season limit of five.

Reading comments by some in response has been interesting. One respondent wrote…”My family has had land on the Tensas River in Madison Parish since the 1930s and there were always bears there and they were always a nuisance.” Another wrote…”I grew up along the Tensas River and there have always been bears there. They are protected, they breed and they spread out.”

The protection of bears in our state has to do with the assumption that Louisiana black bears we have are a sub-species. Some argue that the DNA of our bears is the same as those in other states. A black bear is a black bear, they contend.

We know that we have had bears as early as 1902 when President Teddy Roosevelt came on a bear hunt to Mississippi and Louisiana. In order for the President’s hunt to be successful, a bear was cornered and tied to a tree so he would have an easy target. He refused the offer, news spread and as a result, the warm cuddly stuffed animal, the Teddy Bear, was named in honor of the President.

Will Louisiana once again have a bear hunting season? Will everybody be happy should the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission approve? Some for sure will be happy but there are others who believe bears should forever be protected.

Next week we’ll discuss preparing bear for the table, processing the meat and hide, comments from some who love it; some who gag at the thought of eating bear meat.

Stay tuned.

The random ‘I love you’

Sometimes, actually a lot of the time, I am randomly hit with the sudden urge to just tell my kids, “I love you.”  

We may be driving down the road in the car, sitting around in the living room, eating out at a restaurant or doing homework at the kitchen table. This voice will pop up in my head, (not sure if it’s my own voice or someone else’s) saying, “Tell them you love them.”  

And I will. 

Almost always, I am met with, “I love you, too.” 

I am not sure if I get this urge because they need to hear it, or because I need to hear it back, but probably a mixture of both.  

And we go on about whatever it is we are doing at the moment. 

This particular “I love you” is different from the “I love you” that I say when I am dropping them off at school or right before bedtime. Even though, I mean it just as much on those occasions. Sometimes those get lost in the hectic morning drop-offs or at the end of the day when we are all spent from school, work, chores, etc.  

Those random reassurances are needed on both ends.  

We are human and whether it is a romantic relationship, friendship or parentship, we need to hear it more than just once in a blue moon or in those moments where you are “supposed” to say it or when it is expected I should say.  

I never ignore this voice when it overtakes my mind, and my mom never did either.  

She was the same way, we would be driving down the road and she would look at my sisters and me in the rearview mirror and say, “I love you.” We may have been singing along to a song or sitting in complete silence, but she wouldn’t hesitate to turn the radio down or break that silence to utter those words.  

And I never ignored her. “I love you too, mom,” would leave my mouth and my heart would swell. I hope it is the same for my girls. 

I think it is because now they randomly tell me, too.  

I have now been a mother for almost a whole decade, and I cannot think of a day that has passed without me letting them know that I love them. I say it when I am frustrated with them, when I am happy with them and every chance I get in between. 

And sometimes it is tough love. 

On the days when they get in trouble for whatever reason and I must lecture them or punish them, I truly believe they understand that I am doing it out of love and because I want them to do better and be better. That’s my sole purpose as a mother after all.  

It is just as important (if not more important) that they hear “I love you” during those hard days – the days that they are grounded, the days they don’t make the team, the days where they make an “F” on a school project, the days when they fail. It will never be a question.  

Telling your kids that you love them is important. Yes, they are just words, but they are very much needed along with all the cuddles, care and affection. So, do not shy away from that random voice in your head. It is there for a reason. Say it often and show that you mean it just as much.

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

Be a student of weapons-craft

Miyamito Musashi, perhaps the most famous and revered Samurai who ever lived, said “A warrior should not have a favorite weapon.”  On its face that might seem like a contradictory statement coming from a Samurai, because it’s a known fact that the preferred weapon of any Samurai was the katana.  However, I think people familiar with Musashi and his teachings understand that what he meant was, he didn’t need his katana.  Furthermore, the katana, while the preferred weapon of the Samurai, was not the only weapon with which they were proficient.  To put Musashi’s words into more modern terms, Clint Smith, founder, and CEO of Thunder Ranch, tells his patrons to be “students of weapons-craft.”

What does it mean to be “a student of weapons-craft?  For starters, you must come to the realization that you could be in a gunfight with a gun that isn’t yours.  If that’s a real possibility, which it is, wouldn’t it behoove you to have a working knowledge of other weapons besides the ones you own?

Did you know that roughly one in five (20%) of all guns in all the world are some variation of a Kalashnikov rifle?  For those of you not fluent in Russian surnames, Kalashnikov is probably the most important one you’ll ever need to know.  Mikhail Kalashnikov is the creator of the AK-47 rifle.  Today, his rifle platform is manufactured all over the globe, in multiple calibers – not just the original 7.62×39.  However, of the approximately 100,000,000 AK rifles in existence, an estimated 75% of them are chambered in the original caliber.  Having hit the battlefield in 1947, it’s a weapon that has clearly stood the test of time and since its inception has impacted modern warfare more than any other standard infantry weapon.  What I’m getting at here is, wouldn’t it be a good idea for you to know how to operate and fire the most prolific firearm in the history of the world?

As globally popular as the AK has become, here in America, the AR-15 holds the top spot as our nation’s most popular weapon – with an estimated 44,000,000 of them being privately owned in this country alone.  #MERICA!  Invented by Eugene Stoner in the 1950s, the Armalite Rifle (AR) has been going head-to-head with the Kalashnikov in combat zones all over the world.  If you’re an avid reader of this article, you might own one or more of these rifles yourself.  If not, AR platform rifles would be very high on the priority list of weapons you should know how to operate.

When I teach classes, I often ask the ladies attending “How many guns are in your home that you don’t know how to operate?”  The number is usually pretty high because their husbands, or other men in their lives have multiple guns that the ladies have never been taught to use.  I’m not picking on the ladies – it just tends to be the norm – probably because husbands and boyfriends are awful teachers, and their women would rather avoid their incessant yelling and extreme lack of patience.  The men buy a bunch of guns (many without their wife’s knowledge) and use them (or don’t) for a variety of different things.  My follow-up question is usually something like, “If your gun (the obligatory 5-shot snubby or .380 your gun-dumb husband bought for you) isn’t immediately accessible, and one of your husband’s guns was the closest to you when you’re home alone and someone kicked in your door, what would you do?”  The responses can sometimes be rather comical, but what I’ve never heard is, “I’d figure out how to use my husband’s gun,” because they know that’s not a realistic response in that scenario.

Hey, it’s not just women.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen cops (full-grown men) come across various types of firearms during traffic stops, house searches, or other day-to-day activities in law enforcement, and have NO IDEA how to clear (unload) the weapon.  Many times, other cops have handed me a gun and asked me to clear it because they have no idea how it works.  It’s a little sad and rather unnerving.

Here in the American south, to say we have a plethora of firearms common to our region, would be a major understatement.  Below, I’ll list some of the various guns that are most common and suggest that if you’re unfamiliar with them, you should absolutely research how to use them.  Because as previously stated, you might not be fighting with your gun.

  1. AR platform rifles.
  2. AK platform rifles.
  3. Polymer framed, striker fired handguns, i.e., Glocks, Caniks, S&W M&Ps, Sig Sauer P320, etc.
  4. Pump action shotguns, i.e., Remington 870s, and Mossberg 500s.
  5. Semi-automatic shotguns, i.e., Remington 1100s, Benellis, and Berettas.
  6. Single-shot and double barrel shotguns.
  7. Bolt action rifles.
  8. Lever action rifles.
  9. Semi-automatic rifles other than numbers 1 and 2 on this list.
  10. Double action revolvers.
  11. Single action revolvers.
  12. Single / Double action semi-automatic pistols, i.e., the Beretta model 92.
  13. The 1911.  Yeah, I included it, but I made sure it was unlucky #13 on the list.  You should know how they work, but you shouldn’t buy one for personal or home defense – unless you intend to use it as an impact weapon and beat an intruder to death with it.

You have no way of knowing when or where your fight will take place, and you don’t know what weaponry might be available to you at the time.  Even if you’re already armed with your everyday carry gun, if there’s an AK or an 870 nearby, wouldn’t you much rather have one of those in your hand?  If you’re not sure how to answer that question, let me help you out… YES!  You don’t have to buy every model of firearm on the planet to have a working knowledge of the ones you’re most likely to encounter, but you can do your homework, and make yourself 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 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.)

On U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson’s Election as U.S. House Speaker

Mike Johnson’s election today as U.S. House Speaker marks the culmination of a meteoric rise in the U.S House of Representatives, the result of his diligent but often low-key work advancing conservative constitutional principles and doing so in a respectful and inoffensive manner.

In a highly partisan, if not often toxic, U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Johnson first spearheaded the introduction of a “Commitment to Civility” resolution and he has remained committed to maintaining civil and courteous interaction among members of Congress, often in the face of heated policy and political disagreement.  His demeanor and comportment certainly contributed to his gaining the support for Speaker of his fellow members of the often-rambunctious House Republican Conference.

He has now entered into an office the responsibilities and obligations of which are nothing less than monumental.  And, while it is impossible to quantify the benefit his service as Speaker will provide Louisiana, it would be difficult to overstate the positive impact. 

All of this is to say nothing of the fact that the Speaker post is second in the line of presidential succession.  If the president dies or becomes incapacitated, the VP is first and then the Speaker of the House.

I am convinced that the same skills and ability that brought Rep. Johnson to this point—accompanied by his deep faith—will see him through.  I offer him my congratulations and my prayers. 

(Shreveport attorney, Royal Alexander, worked in D.C. in the U.S. House of Representatives for nearly 8 years for two different Members of Congress from Louisiana.  He has witnessed up close several Speaker races.)

Tuscan Sun

BARBERINO-TAVERNELLE, TUSCANY— I first came to this part of the world in 2011 on a three-week stopover with my wife and kids during a six-month family jaunt through Europe. What struck me within the first few days I arrived in Tuscany was that it felt a lot like the American South.

It’s not a hard conclusion to reach. It’s an agrarian society, but instead of soybeans and cotton, they grow grapes and olives. One is as likely to get stuck behind a tractor on the tight roads of the Via Roma as to lag behind a slow moving combine on US 49 in the Mississippi Delta. The difference, of course, is that the Via Roma is a 2,000+ year-old road. It’s the road that Michelangelo used to travel from Rome to Florence. It’s so old that when Jesus was walking in Jerusalem, someone was walking on the Via Roma, the road that bisects my Tuscan homebase of Barberino-Tavernelle.

The people here are friendly. There is no sign of European haughtiness with the Tuscans. There is a certain uneasiness Americans experience in French restaurants and shops. A lot that is brought on by Americans. But not always.

When in France I’ve found if one says “bonjour” in a friendly manner, and at least tries to communicate in their language, most French people will respond with a degree of politeness. Most, but not all. Many Tuscans seem embarrassed— and are often apologetic— if they can’t speak English well (a majority can). But it’s their country and their language, they have no reason to apologize.

Another reason Tuscany struck me as the South’s counterkin cousin is that they are so welcoming and hospitable. Mississippi is known as the “Hospitality State” of America because its people are so warm and inviting. Possibly not the case for our entire history, but in this columnist’s opinion, it’s most certainly the case today. Tuscany welcomed me with open arms the minute I set foot in this area. These days I feel like an adopted son of Tuscany.

The Tuscan people are family oriented. It matters here. As with many Asian cultures, they take care of their elders. They value and prioritize family just as we do.

Tuscans love to share a meal with friends and family. Meals in this part of the world can drag on longer than a Friday lunch at Galitoire’s. They’re rarely in a hurry.

Lately, I’ve been spending approximately 10 weeks a year here. I host groups of 25 Americans for weeklong deep dives into local Tuscan culture. As a part-timer, I feel as if I have assimilated into this culture. If I totaled up the time I have spent in this area over the past 12 years— from that initial visit, to vacationing with friends and family, to my work hosting Americans— I’ve probably spent close to 18 months here in total. I’ve made friends. True friends. Lifelong friends. People say, “Buongiorno, Robert,” when I walk into a store or restaurant. They smile. They’re always smiling over here. I only wish my Italian was half as good as their English.

My grandparents lived on the Upper East Side of Manhattan during the entire decade of the 1960s. My mother, brother, and I visited several times. As a six-year-old I can remember being puzzled after saying, “Hi,” to random people on the streets and not having it reciprocated. That’s not a dig against New York. I love that city. People are too busy, and the place is too crowded to spend time reciprocating pleasantries to a first grader on Park and 77th. But I’ll bet any Tuscan, on any day, would respond with a smile and a “Ciao,” to a six-year old who spoke to them on the streets of Florence. I know Mississippians— even on their worst day— would respond to a child’s greeting.

Though what I am feeling grateful for today are the friendships I’ve made over here. In the first few years I came here, I never gave it much thought. I was in town unintentionally assimilating into the culture. A few years ago, it hit me. I have made several solid and meaningful relationships here. I feel as close to many of these people as I do to my friends back home.

Last year Dario Cecchini told a group of my guests, “Robert St. John is a spiritual; member of our family.” I don’t know if I’ve ever heard anything on this continent that has made me happier— or prouder— than that. Last week, Paolo Cresti, owner of Caffe Degli Amici, the local restaurant I frequent the most, told my guests, “Robert is a part of our family.” I feel as if he meant it. I certainly feel that way about him. These people make me feel like a true Tuscan son.

In the fall of 2021, after cancelling the fourth tour group over here due to Covid, my wife and I hopped on a jet and flew over anyway. I wanted to let the people I work with over here, and my friends, know that we were coming back with more Americans as soon as we could.

On that original trip I turned 50-years-old here. In 2021 I celebrated my 60th birthday in the same villa I celebrated the 50th. The difference is on that second celebration it was filled with friends I have made over here. Annagloria and Enzo were there. They were the first people I met here. Our go-to tour guide and part-time co-host Marina was there with her boyfriend, Marco. Our friend Jesse— also a fellow tour guide for Spain, Sicily, and others— took the train up from Rome. Our friends Barbara and Alberto drove down from Milan. Toby and Susan from my favorite bakery in town came and brought the birthday cake. Marco and Cristina from the sheep farm just down the road brought a huge wheel of pecorino. Massimo and Cecilia two local restaurateurs who also host my pasta-making classes were there. Our Florence tour guides Ricardo and Cynthia left the city and drove out into the Tuscan countryside for the night. And Nadia and Rosanna, two of the finest Italian home cooks I know, prepared dinner. Annagloria and Enzo’s daughters, Gemma and Bianca served the meal. After dinner Annagloria and Marina arranged for ex-pat Brit, and former MTV Europe VJ, Rick Hutton and his band to perform for the group. It was a very special evening.

Our tours resumed in the spring of ‘22 with five groups and we’ve been working here spring and fall ever since. There seems to be no end to people wanting to join me overseas. For that I am grateful. Our recent trips to Sicily, England/Scotland, and Spain sold out in under 15 minutes. I’d love to sit here— let my ego do the typing— and take credit for the popularity of these tours I host. But I’m afraid it’s the locals who make the experience memorable and keep people returning on subsequent trips to new locales.

In Tuscany one can’t discount the familiarity southerners feel when they encounter the local citizenry. Good food, good times, and good people are always a winning combination whether one is in the Deep South of America or the Olive groves of Tuscany.


Bucatini al Amatriciana

This classic Italian dish comes from the town of Amatrice in the Lazio Region— which includes Rome— and Pecorino romano is the cheese that is used in this dish. Period. They are serious about that. It’s not Amatriciana with any other cheese.

1 lb. Dry bucatini pasta
1 gallon Water
¼ cup Kosher salt
2 TB Extra virgin olive oil
¼ lb. Guanciale (cured pork cheek) or pancetta, medium diced
2 cups San Marzano tomatoes, canned, crushed
¾ cups Yellow onion, small diced
1 TB Garlic, minced
½ tsp Crushed red pepper
Grated Pecorino Romano as needed

Cook the bucatini following the directions on the package.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta, stirring frequently so as not to burn, until cooked, about 6-8 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and continue until the onions are soft, not browned, about 5 minutes. Add marinara and crushed red pepper and stir until sauce is hot.
Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the hot bucatini pasta and combine thoroughly.

Divide among six serving bowls. Finish each with the grated cheese as needed.

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

Remembering Bobby Eugene Johnson

Mr. Bobby Eugene Johnson passed away at his residence in Bienville Parish on Tuesday, October 24, 2023. He was 90 years old.  Bobby was born in Holly Ridge, Louisiana and graduated from Rayville High School.

He was a retired auto assembly line worker and owned his own milk delivery business. Bobby loved camping with his family and fishing.  He was passionate about playing dominoes and card games and he loved to tell jokes. Bobby was an avid New Orleans Saints fan and coached football and Little League baseball. Bobby had an extreme “sweet tooth” and appreciated his desserts.  He loved traveling and watching his grandson, Hoss play soccer and football.

Bobby is survived by his children, Carolyn Cannady (Jimmy), Barbara Dickinson (Red), Connie Knotts (Larry), Cindy Johnson, David Johnson, and Tommy Dean Smith; 14 grandchildren; 23 great-grandchildren; and 1 great-great-grandchild.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Dorothy Johnson; parents, Mittie and Henry Johnson; sisters, Mavis Crawford and Merlene Bailey; and brother, Royce Johnson.

There will be no public visitation. A public graveside service will be held at 2:00 PM at Garden of Memories in Jonesboro, Louisiana on Sunday, October 29, 2023 with Bro. Keith Thomas officiating.

Serving the family as pallbearers will be Snapper Dickinson, Eddie Knotts, Jimmy Lauderdale, Hoss Dickinson, Jonathan Lauderdale, Chuck Johnson, Jimmy Lauderdale, Jr. (Honorary), and Coley May (Honorary).

Upcoming Events

Please send all non-profit calendar events to

October 23 – 27

Red Ribbon Week 

October 28 

Pine Beetle Festival hosts Gumbo Cook Off, Cupcake Wars & Pie Bake Off

October 29 (10 a.m.)

Breast Cancer Awareness Sunday with Guest Speaker Christell Evans Hicks – Mt. Calvary Baptist Church

October 30

Pine Beetle Treasure Hunt Begins – Check their Facebook page for updates and details.

October 31 (6- 9 p.m.)

Town of Arcadia’s Fall Festival

November 1 (6 p.m.)

Pine Beetle Community Prayer Service – Festival Pavillon 

Music provided by Doris Rasbury with a message by Allen Upshaw

November 2 (10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.)

The Circle of Bienville Medical Center’s Lunch & Learn – Arcadia Event Center

November 2 (5:30 – 7 p.m.)

“Who Gets My Land When I Die? And What Can I Do About It?” Trailblazer Workshop with Special Guest Speaker Attorney Paul Spillers – Ringgold Branch Library

November 3 (6 p.m.)

Pine Beetle Karaoke Contest – Festival Pavillon

November 4 (9 a.m.)

Pine Beetle Festival Day

November 4 (10 – 11 a.m.)

Mt. Lebanon Fire Station Open House 

November 4 (11 – 3 p.m.)

Mt. Lebanon Fall Festival 

November 4 (7 – 11 p.m.)

Bonnie & Clyde Ambush Museum – Locked and Loaded Paranormal Investigations


Notice of Death – October 26

Notice of Death – October 26, 2023

Shirley Ramey

Sept. 17, 1962 – Oct. 19, 2023

Homer, La. 

Visitation: 1 – 6 p.m., Friday, October, 27, 2023, Memorial Funeral Home in Homer

Funeral service: 11 a.m., Saturday, October 28, 2023, Memorial Funeral Home in Homer

Interment: Following service at Antioch Cemetery.

Bobby Eugene Johnson

Oct. 02, 1933 – Oct. 24, 2023

Jonesboro, La.

Graveside service: 2 p.m., Sunday, October 29, 2023, Garden of Memories in Jonesboro, La. 

Thomas McDonald

Dec. 06, 1950 – Oct. 21, 2023

Homer, La.

Visitation: 11a.m. – 1 p.m., Wednesday, November 1, 2023, Calvary Baptist Church of Homer

Memorial Service: Immediately following visitation

Juan Buggs

Oct. 27, 1951 – Oct. 24, 2023

Homer, La. 

Visitation: 1 – 6 p.m., Friday, November 03, 2023, Memorial Funeral Home in Homer

Funeral Service: 2:30 p.m., November 04, 2023, Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Summerfield

Interment to follow.

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 no charge.)

High-speed chase takes law enforcement through three parishes

By Pat Culverhouse

Authorities from multiple jurisdictions are reportedly searching a heavily wooded area in Claiborne Parish, looking for individuals who led officers on a high speed chase that began in Bienville Parish and ended when the suspects’ vehicle was found abandoned on Clear Creek Rd. off U.S. Hwy. 79 south of Homer.

Webster Parish Sheriff Jason Parker said parish deputies joined Bienville Parish units around 2:55 a.m. Sunday in a pursuit that began on Interstate 20 and wound through streets of Minden before heading northeast on U.S. 79 into Claiborne Parish.

“The vehicle exited I-20 onto U.S. 80 and headed toward Minden at speeds of up to 105 miles per hour,” Parker said. “We joined the pursuit when the vehicle crossed into Webster and they took us through the city pretty quickly before heading out the Homer Road.”

Parker said the chase again reached speeds in excess of 100 miles-per-hour entering Claiborne Parish before officers lost sight of the vehicle. Officers found the abandoned vehicle just before 3:30 a.m. Sunday while searching area roads, but no suspects were located.

“They’re getting dogs from Wade to help search for the suspects,” Parker said.

Arcadia Falls to Homer at Home

By Shawn C.White

Under The Radar NWLA

Arcadia (5-3. 1-3) can say the road for the last four weeks has not been easy.  Besides a win over Ringgold, the Hornets have had the gauntlet of Haynesville, Glenbrook, and last week Homer (6-2, 4-0).  The Hornets have lost the last three out of four games in the toughest district in Class A.  The tough schedule can only benefit them as they prepare for the playoff and prepare to outdo the quarterfinal appearance from last year. 

Arcadia’s two scores came from Ian Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald had 21 carries for 89 yards.  Fitzgerald also connected with Rodtravious Jackson on a touchdown reception.  The Hornet defense swarmed around Homer.   Tayshaun Johnson had 9.5 tackles (5 solo, 9 assist).  Omareion Carr and Braylon Roberson  added 5.5 tackles (4 solo,

The Pels burst through with 421 yards of offense for the night.  Zyan Warren was 16 for 25 with 221 yards passing and two touchdowns.  Warren also had a quarterback keeper.   Freshman Raymond Castro showed a little of Homer’s future with two touchdowns.  Spencer Dunn and Gregory Williams also scored for Homer.  Jermaurion Pickens kept the Homer defense rolling with 6.5 tackles (6 solo, 1 assist).  Tymarrion Knowles also kept the Hornets back with 6 tackles (4 solo, 4 assist).

Warren found an opening and jetted on a 35-yard quarterback keeper for the Pels.  Homer led 6-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Arcadia reached the red zone and Fitzgerald finished the drive rumbling in the end zone on a 4-yard run to tie at 6-6.  Greg Williams gave the Pels the lead back with a 7-yard run.  Castro added another Homer touchdown with a 20-yard run.  Homer carried a 22-6 lead into halftime. 

Castro scored again in the third quarter.  Warren connected with Brandon Williams one more time as Homer had a commanding 36-6 lead.  

Warren hit Spencer Dunn for one last Pelicans score for a 44-12 final.

Homer will test their undefeated district record as they host Glenbrook.  Arcadia will host the Magnolia School of Excellence out of Shreveport. 

Town of Arcadia receives ‘Keep Louisiana Beautiful Greener Grounds Grant’

ARCADIA, LA—Keep Louisiana Beautiful (KLB) has chosen the Town of Arcadia to receive a Greener Grounds Grant to support their Christmas Festival 2023 litter prevention and waste management practices. Mayor O’Landis Millican announced today that Keep Louisiana Beautiful has awarded the $5,000 grant to help create and execute a plan focused on waste reduction. This grant award represents an active partnership with KLB that will help our event organizers uphold their responsibility to do the right thing for the environment while we give our attendees all the fun and festivities the Town of Arcadia Christmas Festival offers.

Mayor Millican said he is thrilled that the town’s application was selected and is looking forward to an ongoing partnership with KLB. KLB’s Executive Director, Susan Russell explains that Greener Grounds is more than just a cleanup supplies grant, endeavoring to improve litter prevention and waste management practices at large, outdoor Louisiana events such as fairs, festivals, parades and concerts. KLB partnered with French Quarter Festivals, Inc. to create the Greener Grounds Guidebook and Workbook to provide practical ways that event organizers can plan to manage and reduce waste, increase recycling and prevent litter at their events. The grant supports the implementation of the best practices outlined in the guidebook.

“Louisiana is home to more than 400 festivals and events annually attended by locals and tourists who come together to celebrate the state’s vibrant offerings of food, music, history, and culture. With these events often comes a completely avoidable and solvable issue – LITTER. While we all love to laissez les bons temps rouler, we must ensure the waste inevitably created by outdoor events does not threaten our environment. Keeping event sites clean not only enhances the attendees’ experience, but also helps stop the detrimental cycle of mismanaged waste becoming litter that will clog storm drains or enter waterways – an issue that harms the state’s coastline, wildlife and water quality.”

Made possible with funding from the State of Louisiana and the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, 25 Greener Grounds Grants totaling over $140,000 were awarded to eligible organizations including Louisiana non-profits, municipalities and parishes that organize events of 1,000 attendees per day.

Town Councilman, Timothy Williams, added, “We will use our grant to support our litter prevention initiatives during the 2023 Christmas Festival scheduled for Saturday, December 9th. The grant funds will be used to purchase trash receptacles, recycling receptacles, bags, litter grabbers, and t-shirts for volunteers. In an effort to promote awareness and support our goals toward securing a cleaner Arcadia, funds will also be used to purchase signage and banners displaying the importance of litter prevention, its effects on the environment, and the importance of recycling.

Keep Louisiana Beautiful’s mission is to promote personal, corporate, and community responsibility for a clean and beautiful Louisiana. Through their programs and statewide network of affiliates and partners, the organization provides the tools and resources to prevent litter, reduce waste, increase recycling, and beautify spaces. KLB is a non-profit organization dedicated to achieving a cleaner, greener Louisiana through litter reduction and beautification initiatives. For those who want to get involved, please visit

Preparations underway for annual Pine Beetle Festival

By Michelle Bates

CASTOR – The annual 2023 Pine Beetle Festival is just around the corner and will include a variety of activities, which will include hot air balloon rides during the afternoon and a balloon glow at dark.

Festival Day will be Saturday, Nov. 4, with the balloon rides during the afternoon. Rides are $20 each and will go up about 30 feet in the air. At dark, there will be four additional balloons inflated that will glow in the dark for about one hour. Rides will be on a first come, first served basis; there is no age limit but an adult must accompany every child that goes up. The rides will be on a cash only basis.

When plans were first being made for the 2023 Pine Beetle Festival, the one thing we wanted was to do something for the people of Bienville Parish that was different and that you all would always remember. After much discussion, we decided on an event that has never been brought to our area and promises to be spectacular!

On Saturday afternoon and evening, Castor, LA will be prepped and transformed into a magical place where five hot air balloons will put on a spectacular show. Mr. Pat Harwell, of American Escapes Aerosports, LLC, of Shreveport, will join us along with a group of balloonists that will be bringing a total of five hot air balloons for a spectacular show at dark. A little before dark, Mr. Harwell will use his balloon to
offer tethered hot air balloon rides to those interested in having the experience of a lifetime.

The actual balloon glow will take place in the vacant lot downtown next to Kepler Nutrition. There is no parking over there so we are asking people to either walk over from the festival site or just watch from the festival site.

The Pine Beetle Festival is extremely proud to bring this event to Castor, LA. We hope that you all really enjoy it and remember it for a long time to come.

A schedule of events is as follows:

On Saturday, Oct. 28, the food wars will take place at 6 p.m. at the Castor Community Center, which includes the gumbo war (chicken, sausage, seafood), Pie Wars (adults) and Cupcake Wars (ages 12 and below).

Gumbo Wars: The Gumbo Cook Off is Saturday, Oct. 28, at the Castor Community Center, located at 111 Lodge St. Entry fee is $5, and after the final judging, the public may purchase a meal ticket for $5. All entries must be in a crockpot. Registration is at 5:30 p.m., with the judging beginning at 6 p.m. Categories are chicken and sausage, seafood or wild game.

Pie Bake Off: The Pie Bake off will be Saturday, Oct. 28, at the Castor Community Center. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m. with the competition beginning at 6 p.m. This category is for ages 15 and up. Entry fee is $5.

Cupcake Wars: For ages up to 14 years old, registration begins at 5:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 28. The competition will begin at 6 p.m. Bring a dozen of your best, decorated cupcakes and see if you will be named this year’s Pine Beetle Cupcake Wars Champion. Entry fee is $5.

On Monday, Oct. 30, the treasure hunt begins. Follow the Pine Beetle Festival Facebook Page for updates and details.

On Wednesday, Nov. 1, will be the Community Prayer meeting at the Festival Pavilion. Beginning at 6 p.m., music will be provided by Doris Rasbury with the message from Allen Upshaw.

On Friday, Nov. 3, the Karaoke Contest will be at 6 p.m. at the Festival Pavilion. Categories include ages 12 and below, age 13 and above, duets/trios. Signup begins at 5:30 p.m. with a $10 entry fee.

On Festival Day, Saturday, Nov. 4, opening ceremonies will be at 9 a.m. at the Festival Pavilion with the parade at 10 a.m. Other activities include food, fun, vendors, silent auction, pet parade, goat drop bingo, tethered hot air balloon rides in the afternoon and the balloon glow at dark.

Some of the vendors that have signed up already include: FUMC Daycare, Lauren Giddens, Ashland Baptist Youth, Love Like Jesus Ministries, Papa D’s Wood Shop, Sugar Babies, Louisiana Home Health, Donna and Josie Griffin Schloer, Angelle Young, Jay Brunson ( Smackers Food Truck), Joe Grisham, Ora Bush, Diane Rushing Warren, Carolyn Shirley, Jessi Plunkett, Salter’s Sweets, RM Crowson Lodge #281,
and Jan Moore, Castor Library, and LA Dept of Forestry and Agriculture.

Please see the Pine Beetle Festival Facebook Page for more information on vendor and booth entry.

Please remember that this festival depends on the current restrictions/mandates that are in place at the time of the festival (including weather conditions) and may have to be postponed or cancelled. If this happens, your booth rental fee will be refunded or held over for the next festival date, whichever you prefer. Please remember that we have no control over it being cancelled or postponed. For more information on any events, go the Pine Beetle Festival Facebook Page or call Melanie Jordan at 318-268-0209.

Assessor Candidate shares extensive background

Dear Residents of Bienville Parish,

As the runoff election is in progress, I’d like to reintroduce myself. I am Catherine D. Perritt, I was born in Louisiana but raised in The Woodlands, Texas. My family’s legacy led me to Louisiana Tech University where I earned my GIS degree, in 2014. I then embarked on a fulfilling career as the GIS Coordinator for the Bienville Parish Assessor’s Office, thanks to Mr. Jimmie D. Smith’s trust.

Over the years, I’ve honed my skills under the guidance of Ms. Carol Brown, earning the distinction of a Certified Louisiana Deputy Assessor.

Not only am I a dedicated public servant, but I’m also a loving wife to Justin Perritt (the Blue Bell Man) and a devoted mother to Lucas Perritt. Our family proudly resides in Arcadia.

The Assessor’s office plays a crucial role in our community, we are responsible for the identification, listing, and fair valuation of all properties for ad valorem taxation. These duties are bound by the constitution of the state of Louisiana and the revised statutes enacted by our legislature.

My mission is clear: to ensure uniform and equitable property assessments, benefiting both our taxpayers and the essential taxing districts of Bienville Parish. With over nine years of experience, I’ve actively contributed to two reassessment cycles.

Should I be elected, rest assured that I recognize the importance of keeping our community well- informed. I pledge that our office will remain readily accessible for any questions or concerns you may have regarding your property.

I am fully dedicated to translating this mission into action. Therefore, I humbly ask for your confidence, support, and vote in the upcoming election on November 18th.

Catherine Perritt, CLDA

Candidate for Bienville Parish Assessor

Join Bienville Parish heroes on the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Team

By Greg Burke

Bienville Parish residents no doubt take immense pride in home grown athletes like Angela Turner, Lee Arthur Smith and Dub Jones, who have been recognized for their accomplishments through induction into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

For years, the only point of recognition for those honorees was in trophy cases at Northwestern State University’s Prather Coliseum. In 2013, recognition of Louisiana’s greatest athletes took a monumental step forward with construction of the state-funded 27,000 square foot Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum in Natchitoches’ downtown historic district.

In addition to being open to visitors and for group tours, the museum has hosted events such as the recent 50 th anniversary commemoration of singer Jim Croce’s untimely death after performing at NSU, wedding receptions and rehearsal dinners, meetings, and other functions.

The first-ever Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame “Join the Team” membership drive – which research shows is standard for most hall of fame museums – has been initiated to secure resources which can be used to update and upgrade the museum. State funding underwrites basic operating costs for the museum but there are often inadequate funds to enhance the museum, especially in this age of “bells and whistles” (aka “technology”). Log on to and click the “Join the Team” button or text LSHOFTEAM to 41444 to “Join the Team.” Checks can be mailed to 500 Front Street, Natchitoches, LA 71457.

While today’s technology comes at a cost, the “asking price” for Hall of Fame membership can be as little as $10 per month. Member benefits include official Hall of Fame team member gear, the opportunity to win monthly drawings, discounts on merchandise and other amenities. 2023 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame inductees Alana Beard – Shreveport (Southwood High School), Duke University, and 15-year WNBA standout – along with two-time LSU national champion and 14-year Major League Baseball pitcher Paul Byrd, are Honorary Co-Chairs of the inaugural membership campaign.

And if that isn’t attractive enough, members who sign up by December 31 of this year will be entered in a January 1 drawing for the “Ultimate 2024 Hall of Fame Weekend Experience,” which includes two tickets to all induction weekend events, a photo with your favorite 2024 Hall of Famer (Drew Brees…Seimone Agustus…Daniel Cormier…or another inductee…your choice!) and exclusive access to some events. The value of that package is close to $1,000!

The initial goal is a very conservative and surely attainable 100 members. This museum is our state’s pride and joy, a legacy locker room for its greatest athletes that celebrates excellence from all 64 parishes, from Ida to Grand Isle, from Lake Providence to Lake Charles. Statewide ownership will ensure that just as Louisiana athletes are among the best from coast to coast, the same can always be said about its Sports Hall of Fame Museum.

Greg Burke is Director of Business Development and Public Relations for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Foundation. He was formerly Director of Athletics at Northwestern State University for 26 years. Burke can be contacted at

Abraham’s Almost Forgotten Novel

American Journalist Christopher Hitchens once said, “Everyone has a book inside them, which is exactly where it should, I think, in most cases, remain.”  Abraham had published several books, but when he got to his seventh novel, most people thought it should have remained inside his own mind and not in print.

Abraham was the manager of the Lyceum theater in London’s West End.  As manager, Abraham held a position of prestige, but his salary as manager did not necessarily reflect his position.  To supplement his income, Abraham wrote reviews of plays and books.  He also published poetry, stories which were serialized in newspapers, and novels.  He had no aspirations to become famous, he wrote whatever he thought would sell well.  Most of his published works were in the romance genre.  His seventh novel, however, was something altogether different.

Despite many popular reviews, Abraham’s seventh novel was not the runaway success that he had hoped for.  He had spent years researching the book and had handwritten over 100 pages of notes on the project, but it sold poorly compared to some of his other published works.  When he died on April 20, 1912, he had made little income from his seventh novel, and it was no longer in print.  When newspapers in Europe published the news of his passing, the articles listed several of his popular novels but his seventh novel was rarely included among them.      

In 1927, Abraham’s seventh novel was used as the basis of a stage play which was better received than the novel had been.  Based on the play’s success, Universal Pictures purchased the rights to the book for $40,000.  Adjusted for inflation, $40,000 in 1930 would be almost $750,000 in today’s money.  Abraham’s widow, Florence Balcombe, made much more money from the seventh novel than her late husband had.  Universal Pictures took a giant risk with the film.  Production costs totaled nearly $400,000.  The film based on Abraham’s seventh novel was released on February 12, 1931.  Universal Pictures executives were relieved when, unlike the novel, the film became a hit.  Domestically, it earned more than $700,000, almost double its production cost.  The film added a new character into worldwide popular culture which is instantly recognizable.  The film also spawned new interest in Abraham’s seventh novel.  Since the film’s release, Abraham’s book has never been out of print, and it has become one of the most famous works of English Literature.  Abraham’s novel has been adapted for film more than 30 times so far, and his characters have appeared in all forms of media.  Abraham could never have imagined how popular his creation would become. 

We almost knew the title of Abraham’s seventh novel by a completely different name.  Just before the novel went to the publishers for printing, Abraham made a last-minute decision and changed the title of the novel from “The Un-Dead.”  You and I know Abraham “Bram” Stoker’s seventh, almost-forgotten, novel as “Dracula.” 

Happy Halloween!  


1.     London Daily News, May 27, 1897, p.6.

2.     The Pall Mall Gazette, June 1, 1897, p.11.      

3.     The Morning Post, June 3, 1897, p.2. 

4.     The Standard Union, April 22, 1912, p.3.

5.     The Daily Telegraph, April 22, 1912, p.6.

6.     The Sun, April 22, 1912, p. 9.

Sugar Cookie Golden Orea Funfetti Cake

We celebrated my mom’s 63rd “YPPAYH YRITDBHA” with this Sugar Cookie Golden Oreo Funfetti Cake.  Packed full of so many good things it was sure to be a crowd pleaser! (Candles and spelling brought to you by my 4 year old).

Layer with store bought sugar cookie dough, Golden Oreos and finish with Funfetti cake and frosting.  You can easily adapt this to any holiday or theme!


  • 2 packages pre-portioned sugar cookie dough, room temperature
  • Golden Oreos
  • Funfetti cake mix (plus ingredients called for on box)
  • Funfetti frosting
  • Sprinkles


Preheat oven to temperature called for on box.  Grease a 9×13 baking dish.  Press both packages of cookie dough onto the bottom of the pan evenly to make a crust.  Layer Golden Oreos on top with as many as will fit.  Mix cake mix according to package directions and pour batter over the Oreos.  Bake until done.  Cool.  Frost and sprinkle.

(Ashley Madden Rowton is a wife, mom and published cookbook author who lives in Minden, La.)

Please watch your language!!!

First, I would like to preface this article by saying please don’t judge me for how this article is written. I’m only trying to show the verbal nature of a particular co-angler I fished with a couple of years ago and that I do not condone the language she used. 

In a recent American Bass Anglers (ABA) regular season two-day championship on Lake Sam Rayburn.  What made this event unique was the fact that it was the final event in which ABA allowed co-anglers. Let’s define what the term co-angler means. This is an angler who fishes out of the back of the boat and is not allowed to fish off the front deck because it is strictly for the boater/pro. The co-angler is only fishing against other co-angers while the boater/pro is fishing against other boater/pros.

Over the years, I’ve had some co-anglers who were great anglers and I’ve had a few who had no clue what they were doing. Some get in the boat looking to learn while others are there to get your fishing locations so they can come back later and fish everything you showed them. This is a major no-no in the tournament fishing world and there are even rules in place to discourage co-anglers from such behavior. No co-angler is supposed to share the information they learned while fishing with the boater/pro. But there are no rules in place for language.  

In one particular event, I had a co-angler, who we shall call “Karen,” who threw me for a loop and tested my patience. Not because she talked too much, but rather how she talked. Over the years, I’ve only had a female co-angler maybe twice. But for this event, Karen would be my co-angler and would be one I’ll never forget.

On the Friday evening before an event, the ABA tournament director sends out who your partner will be the day of the tournament via a text message, along with their contact information so you can call them and make arrangements on where to meet on tournament morning. My very first conversation with Karen was one to remember. As I made the call to introduce myself, her response was, “Mr. Steve, how the F*** are you?” Well rather than continue to go over every conversation we had for our two days together, I’ll cut to the chase. Turns out, she was not able to complete a sentence without an “F” bomb or two thrown in to make her point clearer. 

Understand, I grew up in locker rooms and understand foul language. For some, it’s just how they were raised and that’s the only language they know. Hoping Karen would take a hint, I tried to steer the conversation by asking her what church she went to? Even though I already knew the answer, I was hoping it would bring light that I’m a Christian and attend church on a regular basis. Now I’m not a saint and have my own issues from time to time with a damn or hell occasionally, but she took foul language to a whole other level. It was by mid-morning on tournament day that I said to myself, “I wish she would shut up!”

Being paired up with someone like this makes for a long day on the water. It’s a true test of one’s patience as she continued with her obscene language all day long. To make this day even worse, we had a late weigh-in time of 4:00 rather than 3:00. So, the joy for me was knowing I had an EXTRA hour of “F” bombs! But it all came together when she told me how she was raised. Now off the top of my head, I was thinking she came from an abusive home life with maybe an alcoholic parent or maybe she spent time as a child in a juvenile detention center. No. Turns out that she grew up on a bull riding ranch in Texas. Ha! Now it all came together; she was raised by cowboys!

Rodeo cowboys are a species unto themselves and have their own language limitations. If you ever watched the hit TV series, “Yellowstone,” you’ll understand how cowboys communicate. There’s a reason someone wrote the song “Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.” Look, I realize it takes all kinds to make up this world, and I’m not one to judge, even though I do.

To wrap up my day with the queen of obscene language, Miss Foul Mouth ended with these comments as she decided that her fishing day was over. As she sat down in the passenger seat on my boat, she made this profound statement, ”Mr. Steve, I’m done and let me tell ya what I need right now. I need an F***ing cigarette, an F***ing beer and a F***”ng toilet, and not necessarily in that order!” I was now beyond the shock value of Karen’s statements but could not wait to get her out of my boat. Rather than make an issue out of what her most recent demands were, while shaking my head, I just decided to say, “Me too!” I pulled the trolling motor up and cranked my engine to head back for the weigh-in. This was something I’d never done before…come in from an event 30 minutes early.

Over the years, I’ve had some long days on the water, but none longer than this one. It just goes to show, you never know who or what kind of person you’re going to get in a Pro/Am tournament. You just hope and pray that Karen is not your partner for the day. Till next time good luck and good fishing! Please make sure to check out our Hook’N Up & Track’N Down Facebook page for all kinds of tips and tricks to help make you a better angler. Go to to learn more!

Steve Graf                                                                                                                                                                             

Angler’s Perspective

‘We just got beat by a better writer today …’ 

Just once I’d like to see the tables turned in a sports interview.  

I’d like to hear a sportswriter sort of look down and, not defeated but definitely dejected, mumble into the microphone after a poorly written game story, “I just didn’t have my good verbs today. No movement with my action verbs at all. I was missing early in the story with my helping verbs so I couldn’t really set up what’s been my bread-and-butter action verbs like ‘pitched’ and ‘hit.’ It is what it is, I guess…” 

Just once… 

Part of sports is that familiar give-and-take between players/managers and writers/broadcasters before and after games, familiar and routine as batting practice or pregame warmups. 

Monday night after a Game 7 rout by Texas in the American League Championship Series, baseball’s and Houston’s much beloved Dusty Baker, manager of the defending World Series champs but losers in Monday night’s series-deciding game, deftly dodged questions about some of his in-game decisions, decisions that landed somewhere between strange and bizarre, especially for a future Hall-of-Famer who played 19 seasons and has since managed teams to more than 2,000 wins. 

Dusty said something about fans having been “spoiled around here, as far as winning,” how the Astros have “nothing to be ashamed of,” how they were beaten “by a better team tonight.” And on like that. Which is fine. No excuses, but no real explanations either. 

Just to keep things even, writers should have to do the same now and then. Instead of hanging around the batting cage—let’s say we’re talking baseball here—maybe now and then the manager comes to the press box and says to the writer, “Your game story this morning, it seemed flat. Sally’s story in The Tribune, it was like reading music. Felt like I was at the game. What’s your evaluation of what happened?” 

Writer: “Look, Sally’s a good writer and she was the better typist last night,” the writer says, studying his shoes. “I had some opportunities in my lead and didn’t take advantage of those. As the story went on, I had decent command of my nouns, even the Proper Nouns, but my verbs were all over the place. I let that one adjective get away from me in — I think it was the third graph — and after that it seemed I couldn’t find my rhythm or my butt with both hands. 

“It’s like I told the staff after the paper came out, I’ve got to do my job, sure, but we’ve got to have good layout too, maybe a few graphics … it takes a team. This isn’t a one-man show. But the bottom line is I’ve got to do better. I can’t just throw my laptop out there and expect to win.” 

Coach: “Any thoughts on how home press box proved to be no advantage at all this series?” 

Writer: “That’s writing. That’s just writing. My splitting an infinitive and giving a clause away when I hung that preposition late didn’t help, but I think the fight was there: we just didn’t execute at the level we’re capable of.” 

Coach: “Your pronoun use has been a strong suit all year. Do you think you landed those today?” 

Writer: “My subjective pronouns were as good as they’ve been all year. But somewhere around the eighth sentence, my objective pronouns were flat as a crewcut and the one time I used a possessive case and then a nominative clause, well, those weren’t worth donating to the homeless. Anything else guys?” 

Coach: “Thanks, Writer. Good luck tomorrow.” 

Writer: “Thanks guys. I appreciate y’all. Just wasn’t our day. But we don’t have anything to be ashamed of. Outside of getting the final score wrong … Sorry about that. Wish I had that one back.” 

Contact Teddy at 

Remembering Edward Wayne Booth

Edward Wayne Booth, age 75, of Sibley, LA. passed away on October 13, 2023, in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. 

Wayne was a graduate of Sibley High School where he enjoyed playing basketball and baseball. He attended LA Tech University and LA Baptist Christian College where he also played baseball and earned a BA in Education. He served in active military duty in the Air Force from 1968-1972 as SSgt. in Laos and Udorn, Thailand. After returning home, he worked for Haynes International, and retired after 30 years, as Director of Human Resources. 

As an avid outdoors man, he loved to hunt and fish, spending most of his free time outdoors. He was a member of First Baptist Church of Minden where he served as a deacon, Sunday School teacher, and security detail. 

Mr. Booth was preceded in death by: his father, Jack E. Booth; sister-in-law, Regina Booth; and brother-in-law, Walter Hays. His memory will be cherished by: his wife of 56 years, Charlotte P. Booth; only daughter, Kimberly B. Stephens and husband Heath; grand-children and great grandchildren: Whitney Phillips and husband Bo, children – Emmi Blake and Case Michael, Tyler Perryman and wife Alora, Paige Lott, Sawyer Stephens and fiancé’ Tyler Furqueron, Gunner Stephens, wife Kaylie and son Witten, and Piper Stephens; his mother, Bobbie D. Booth; brothers, Robert, Larry, and Danny Booth; sister, Susan Noonan and husband Frank; as well as many nieces, nephews, and other family members. 

Services to celebrate his life will begin with a Visitation between 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM and followed by a Memorial Service at 2:00 PM, Tuesday, October 24, 2023, at First Baptist Church Minden, 301 Pennsylvania Ave, Minden, LA, with Brother Leland Crawford presiding.  

In lieu of flowers, please donate, in Mr. Booth’s honor, to First Baptist Church Minden – Building Fund, or St. Jude Children’s Hospital.