CASA Angel Tree bringing Christmas to local foster children

By Michelle Bates

This Christmas, foster children in the area will receive gifts thanks to the generosity of the communities in Bienville, Claiborne and Jackson parishes.

Each year, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) decorate a Christmas tree – an angel tree – with the ages, clothing sizes and names of little boy or a little girl in the area’s foster care system. By adopting an angel from the tree, participants choose a foster child to purchase unwrapped pajamas and other gifts for them. Deadline to submit the pajamas and gifts is Dec. 4.

This year’s tree is located at The Gathering Place General Store. For those who wish to purchase gifts (unwrapped), drop them off at The Gathering Place General Store, located at 1982 N. Railroad Ave., for the CASA closet. Stockings (and gifts for them), socks and gloves are also greatly appreciated.

Please call Deanna Curtis or McKenzie Turner at 318-263-2292 for all of the details about buying for a CASA Christmas angel.

“We appreciate everyone’s support of CASA,” Curtis said. “By donating these gifts, children in our foster care system will receive the Christmas they should have.”

The Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program utilizes volunteers who are appointed by a judge and assigned to a case, to advocate and speak up for the best interest of abused and neglected children in court that have been placed into the foster care system. The CASA volunteer does this by gathering information regarding the child and speaking to all parties involved with the case. The volunteer then appears in court and makes recommendations as to what is in the best interest of the child. The goal is to ensure that the child is placed in a safe, permanent home as quickly as possible.

Agents cite Bienville Parish man for harvesting deer at night

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents cited a subject for alleged deer hunting violations on Nov. 25 in Bienville Parish.

Agents cited Christopher Havard, 33, of Castor, for taking deer during illegal hours.

Agents investigated a complaint about a deer shot at night on Nov. 25 near Castor in Bienville Parish.  Through the investigation agents learned that Havard shot an 11-point buck around 7 p.m. with the use of a rifle and night vision scope.

Agents seized the deer, rifle and night vision scope.

Taking deer during illegal hours brings a $900 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail.  Havard will also be assessed civil restitution totaling $2,024 for the replacement value of the illegally taken deer.

Agents participating in the case are Sgt. Charles Dison, Sgt. Patrick Staggs, Corporal John Blalock, Corporal Emily Sexton and Agent Zachery Funderburk.

Bienville Parish Basketball Week 3 & 4

It’s been a couple of weeks but the action in Week 4, Turkey week, was limited so we decided to combine the two week   Oh what a lot happened in those two weeks.    

Castor Lady Tigers (6-0) remained undefeated for the past two weeks.   Although they only played one game over the past two weeks.   Ambree Collinsworth had the high top performance with 22 points over Calvin.    

Talking about a marathon of games, the Arcadia Lady Hornets played 6 games in 7 days over the holiday break winning the Lakeside Tournament an going a perfect 7-0 over the two weeks.   

Ringgold boys (5-1) also caused some damage in the Lakeside tournament taking the title over Week 3 taking wins over Camden, AR, Arcadia, and demolishing Magnolia Charter in the finals.  The Redskins lost their first game in a road game against Captain Shreve but bounced back  against Stanley. 

Saline boys (7-3) rolled through their tournament with a perfec 3-0 record with wins over D’Arbonne Woods, Simsboro, and Jonesboro-Hodge.   Saline is currently on a 6-game win streak. 

Ratravious Crawley making an impact with the Arcadia Hornets capturing the high top performance of the week.   Arcadia (2-1) took wins over Summerfield and Minden over the past week.  

We’ll make the bites more manageable next week but stay with us to keep up with the Bienville Parish basketball schedule weekly. 


Tuesday, November 14

Arcadia 61, Summerfield 44

Castor 47, Calvin 38

Ringgold 69, Simsboro 49

Saline 67, Cedar Creek 61

Wednesday, November 15

Arcadia 61, Minden 57

Thursday, November 16

Parkway 63, Castor 36

Ringgold 56, Camden AR 38

Saline 62, D’Arbonne Woods 43

Friday, November 17

Ringgold 53, Arcadia 39

Saline 70, Simsboro 64

Saturday, November 18

Ringgold 71, Magnolia SOE 31

Saline 43, Jonesboro-Hodge 28

Monday, November 20

D’Arbonne Woods 73, Castor 56

Captain Shreve 59, Ringgold 34

Tuesday, November 21

Minden 73, Gibsland-Coleman 64

Ringgold 40, Stanley 25


Tuesday, November 14

Arcadia 73, Summerfield 44

Castor 62, Calvin 57

Simsboro 35, Ringgold 33

Gibsland Coleman 2, Union Parish 0 (forfeit)

Cedar Creek 55, Saline 53

Wednesday, November 15

Arcadia 55, North Webster 17

Thursday, November 16

Arcadia 53, North Desoto 29 (Lakeside Tourn)

Simsboro 46, Ringgold 37 (Lakeside Tourn)

Saline 43, D’Arbonne Woods (Saline Tourn)

Friday, November 17

Arcadia 51, Minden 45 (Lakeside Tourn)

Walker 82, Gibsland-Coleman 29 (Walker Tourn)

Saline 44, Quitman 38 (Saline Tourn)

Saturday, November 18

Arcadia 40, Simsboro 17 (Lakeside Tourn)

RInggold 57, North Caddo (Lakeside Tourn)

Lakeview 44, Saline 32 (Saline Tourn)

Monday, November 20

Arcadia 59, Ferriday 15 (Wossman Tourn)

Tuesday, November 21

Arcadia 54, West Monroe 18 (Wossman Tourn)

Ringgold 44, Stanley 42

Starting 5 – Boys

Ratravious Crawley, Arcadia

Deveryuan Moore, Gibsland-Coleman

DeAvery Durham, Gibsland-Coleman

Gavon Dailey, Saline

Eli Ferguson, Saline

Next 5 – Boys

Jordyn Wilson, Ringgold

Antwon Bolyer, Castor

Trent Ledbetter, Saline

Johnathan Warren, Castor

J’bari Adams, Ringgold

Starting 5 – Girls

Ambree Collinsworth, Castor

Sky McMullan, Castor

Alana Gray, Saline

Justice Young, Arcadia

Alaya Gray, Saline

Next 5 – Girls

Kacidy Sims, Saline

DeAsia Alexander, Arcadia

Arianna Williams, Arcadia

Rhyanna Abney, Arcadia

Avery Jordan, Castor (tie)

Timeria Gray, Saline (tie)

Baleigh Haulcy, Gibsland-Coleman (tie)

Donshayla Rushing, Gibsland-Coleman (tie)

CaRiya Lewis, Gibsland-Coleman (tie)

Top Performances

Ratravious Crawlye, Arcadia, 27 pts. , vs. Minden

Gavon Dailey, Saline, 25 pts.  vs. Cedar Creek

Eli Ferguson, Saline, 23 pts.  vs. Jonesboro-Hodge

Eli Ferguson, Saline, 22 pts. v.  Simsboro

Gavon Dailey, Saline  22 pts. v D’Arbonne Woods

Ratravious Crawley, Arcadia, 22 pts.  v. Ringgold

Deveryuan Moore, Gibsland-Coleman, 20 pts., v. Minden

DeAvery Durham, Gibsland-Coleman, 19 pts. v. Minden

J’bari Adams, Ringgold, 19 pts.,  vs. Simsboro

Jordyn WIlson, Ringgold, 19 pts., v.  Arcadia

Gavon Dailey, Saline, 17 pts. v. Simsboro

J’bari Adams, Ringgold, 17 pts. v.  Magnolia SOE

Trent Ledbetter, Saline, 16 pts. v. Cedar Creek

Eli Ferguson, Saline, 15 pts. v. D’Arbonne Woods

Trent Ledbetter, Saline, 15 pts. v. Simsboro

Ratravious Crawley, Arcadia, 15 pts. v. Summerfield

Top Performances – Girls

Ambree Collinsworth, Castor, 22 pts, vs Calvin

Alaya Gray, Saline, 20 pts., vs. Cedar Creek

Kacidy Sims, Saline 20 pts., vs. Cedar Creek

DeAsia Alexander, Arcadia, 19 pts. vs. Summerfield

Sky McMulan, Castor, 18 pts. ,  vs. Calvin

Alana Gray, Saline, 17 pts., vs. D’Arbonne Woods

Rhyanna Abney, Arcadia, 17 pts., vs. Ferriday

Arianna Williams,Arcadia, 17 pts. vs. West Monroe

DeAsia Alexander, Arcadia, 17 pts., vs. North Webster

Justice Young, Arcadia, 17 pts., vs. Simsboro

Arianna Williams, Arcadia , 16 pts. v. Minden

DeAsia Alexander, Arcadia, 16 pts. v. West Monroe

Justice Young, Arcadia, 16 pts. v. North Desoto

Alaya Gray, Saline, 15 pts.  v. Quitman

Justice Young, Arcadia, 15 pts.  v. North Webster

Town of Arcadia kickstarts the holiday season

By Melisa Rudd

Arcadia’s “elves” have been hard at work most of November adorning lamp posts with garland, hanging lights and getting decorations ready in Henderson Jordan Park. On Tuesday, November 28, Mayor O’Landis Millican welcomed citizens and visitors to the annual lighting of the Christmas tree. He along with Councilman Edwin Mason welcomed the evening’s performers.

Mrs. Jocelyn Alford and the Crawford Elementary Honor Society students sang songs of the season. When asked what his favorite part of the evening was, honor student Mason Murphy said, “singing” while sipping his hot chocolate. The students filled the crowd with the holiday spirit. Tonika Pruitt said, “you can feel warmth and joy in the air”.

Gibsland Bank & Trust, Willow Ridge and Bienville Medical Center served hot chocolate, cookies and seasonal refreshments. Jacqueline Crawford felt the event was “getting us in the Christmas spirit”. The employees of Kenny’s Place observed the night was “a very nice gathering of family and friends”.

Spectators were able to participate in a 360 degree photo booth and take family photos on the stage after the lighting. Councilman Timothy Williams summed up the evening best.

He said, “As Councilman for District 5, standing amidst the timeless charm of Historic Downtown Arcadia during our Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, I felt the crisp cool air carry with it the warmth of community spirit. In the glow of festive lights, I witnessed the true magic of the Christmas season—a tapestry of love and camaraderie woven by the hearts of our residents. Together, we illuminated the spirit of unity that makes our town a beacon of holiday joy. May this season’s festivities bring lasting memories and strengthen the bonds that make Arcadia extraordinary.”

The Bienville Parish Journal would be happy to highlight any other upcoming holiday events in the parish. Please let us know what your town, organization, business, school or church has in the works. You can send details to

Who is the dominant basketball team in Bienville Parish?

The annual Bienville Parish Basketball Tournament will be played at Ringgold High School from Thursday through the finals on Saturday night, Nov. 30 – Dec. 2.

Here is the schedule for the tournament:


5:00 PM   –  Gibsland-Coleman v. Castor (Girls)

6:15 PM   –  Gibsland-Coleman v. Castor (Boys)

7:30 PM  –   Ringgold v. Arcadia (Girls)



5:00 PM  –  Gibsland-Coleman/Castor Winner v. Saline (Girls)

6:15 PM –   Gibsland-Coleman/Castor winner v. Saline (Boys)

7:00 PM  –  Ringgold v. Arcadia (Boys)



6:00 PM    Girls Finals

7:00 PM    Boys Finals

Admission for the tournament is $7.   NO OUT PASSES.   If you leave, you must pay to re-enter.   Players are allowed in for free throughout the tournament even if eliminated.  Players must be identified by a coach or principal. 

Road closure rescheduled for 1-20 at Bear Creek Bridge

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development advises motorists that the following inside (left) lane closures on I-20 westbound in Bienville Parish have been rescheduled for the purpose of guardrail repair. The new dates are as follows:

  • *UPDATE* – Thursday, November 30th: I-20 westbound at the Bear Creek Relief Bridge, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • *UPDATE* – Friday, December 1st: I-20 westbound at the Bear Creek Bridge, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

These bridges are located just east of the Ada Taylor (US 80) interchange.

Restrictions/Permits: Vehicles 16 feet or smaller will be allowed to pass through the work zone.

Alternate Route: N/A

This work will be performed WEATHER PERMITTING.

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, 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, 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

Woodrow’s Father

Charles Voyde is considered by some to be a legend in Texas because of his high-profile criminal history.  Charles was a carpet salesman, professional gambler, and a convicted contract killer, a hitman.  Charles was born in 1938 in Lovelady, Texas.  His criminal career began sometime in the late 1950s and escalated from petty crimes to murder.    

Charles had a wife and two children, the oldest of which was Woodrow.  In 1968, when Woodrow was seven years old, Charles was arrested for the murder of Alan Harry Berg, also a carpet salesman.  Woodrow’s father disappeared from his life.  While awaiting trial, Charles and two others were charged with the murder of wealthy grain broker Sam Degelia near McAllen, Texas.  In September 1970, Charles was acquitted of murdering Berg.  After the first trial for Sam Degelia’s murder ended in a deadlocked jury, Charles was convicted in 1973 and sentenced to 15 years in prison.  According to trial testimony, Charles was paid just $2,000 to murder Degelia.  In 1978, after serving five years of his sentence, Charles was released for good behavior.

Like Charles, Jamiel “Jimmy” Chagra was a carpet salesman and a professional gambler.  Jimmy was also a drug trafficker operating out of Las Vegas, Nevada and El Paso, Texas. In February 1979, Jimmy was indicted by a federal grand jury on cocaine and marijuana smuggling charges in Midland, Texas, and the case was assigned to Federal Judge “Maximum” John Wood.  The judge earned the nickname “Maximum” for his tough treatment of drug dealers and smugglers.  Jimmy tried back channels, and, when that failed, threatened Judge Wood, but he refused to step down as the presiding judge in Jimmy’s case.  Jimmy decided to hire a hitman.

According to courtroom testimony, in April 1979, Jimmy Chagra met Charles and Jo Ann, Charles’ third wife, in Las Vegas.  At that meeting, Charles agreed to murder the federal judge for $250,000.  In the following month, Jo Ann, using the false name Fay King, bought a Weatherby rifle in a Dallas gun shop.  A few days later, May 29, 1979, Judge John Wood was standing outside his car at his home in San Antonio, purportedly looking at a flat tire on either his or his wife’s car.  A neighbor heard what he thought was a car backfiring and looked out of his window and saw the judge fall into his car.  He had been shot in the back.  He fell into and died in his wife’s lap.  In the following month, Teresa Starr Jasper, Charles’ stepdaughter, picked up a briefcase which contained $250,000 in Las Vegas from Elizabeth Chagra, Jimmy’s wife.

The murder of the federal judge prompted a massive investigation, and, in August 1979, Jimmy Chagra was convicted in absentia in federal court of continuing criminal activity and sentenced to 30 years without parole.  Five months later, Jimmy was captured in Las Vegas and sent to Leavenworth federal prison.  While in prison, Jimmy bragged to another inmate, Jerry Ray James, that he had Judge John Wood killed and provided some specific details.  Jerry Ray shared the information he learned with investigators.  In September 1980, Charles was arrested in Van Horn, Texas following a 10-hour cocaine-fueled standoff with police.  It was when news broke of the 10-hour standoff that Woodrow learned the whereabouts of his father whom he had not seen in over ten years. 

During interrogation, Charles admitted to killing Judge John Wood.  In all fairness, during the same interrogation he also claimed to have killed several other people including President John F. Kennedy.  In April 1982, a federal grand jury indicted Jimmy, Jimmy’s little brother Joe Chagra, Jimmy’s wife Elizabeth, along with Charles and Jo Ann for conspiracy and other charges in the John Wood murder case.  Joe Chagra made a plea-bargain for a lesser sentence.  Elizabeth Chagra was found guilty of conspiracy for delivering the $250,000 payment to Charles’ stepdaughter.  Jo Ann, who bought the rifle that killed Judge John Wood was sentenced to 25 years in prison for obstruction.  Charles, the hitman who admitted to killing the judge, was sentenced to serve two consecutive life sentences for the murder.  Jimmy was ultimately acquitted of hiring Charles to kill Judge John Wood but was found guilty on numerous drug trafficking charges.                

In the late 1980s, Charles and Woodrow grew closer.  Woodrow visited his father in prison at least once a year.  In 1985, Woodrow became a bartender and began helping his father to get a new trial.  In 1987, when Charles married his fourth wife by proxy, Woodrow stood in for his father during the ceremony.  Charles argued that his legal representation was not adequate in his 1979 trial.  “No matter what you did,” Charles said, “you have a right under that Constitution to a fair and impartial hearing of your peers, and I did not get that.”  In 1998, Woodrow told reporters that it was the “sad truth” that the legal system “seems to work a lot better for those who have enough money.”  Woodrow fought to get his father a new trial until March 21, 2007, when the 69-year-old contract killer died in prison of a heart attack.   

Woodrow once said the fight to get his father a new trial cost a lot of money, but his bartending job paid more than most bartending jobs.  You see, Woodrow, the son of a hit man, was a bartender at the Boston, Massachusetts bar “where everybody knows your name.”  The name of the fictional bar was Cheers.  Charles Voyde Harrelson was the father of actor Woodrow “Woody” Harrelson.


1.     El Paso Times, May 30, 1979, p.1.

2.     Fort Worth Star-Telegram, October 21, 1984, p.89.

3.     Fort Worth Star-Telegram, October 25, 1984, p.69.

4.     Tampa Bay Times, August 7, 1998, p.22.

5.     The Monitor (McAllen, Texas), July 16, 1999, p. 26.

6.     Austin American-Statesman, March 22, 2007, p.21.

Sheet Pan Pot Pie

A weeknight meal that could not be easier, more comforting and satisfying! Mix up this filling in no time by using a rotisserie chicken (or hey even leftover Thanksgiving turkey!) and top with premade pie crust. Sheet pan meals make life easier, and I am a fan of that! 


  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 handful baby carrots, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, cut up
  • Refrigerated pie crust


Melt butter in Dutch oven and add diced veggies.  Sauté.  Add chicken.  Sprinkle flour evenly over and stir.  Cook a few minutes stirring gently.  Pour in broth, stirring constantly.  Stir in bouillon and wine.  Pour in cream.  Stir.  Cook over low heat for 4 minutes.  The mixture will thicken.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour into greased jelly roll pan.  Cut pie crust into strips and crisscross over the top.  Bake until crust is golden.

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

U.S. Supreme Court to decided whether to accept appeals in Jan. 6 cases

The U.S. Supreme Court will soon decide whether to accept Jan. 6 case appeals—the most significant case being the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) questionable use of an evidence-tampering law to prosecute Jan. 6 defendants for felony obstruction of Congress.  If accepted it will be the first time a Jan. 6-related case is reviewed by the Supreme Court.

The case could affect hundreds of defendants accused of the most commonly charged Jan. 6 felony, “Corruptly Obstructing an Official Proceeding.”  This charge involves a potential 20-year prison term and has been charged in over 3oo cases.   A number of the Jan. 6 defendants have already been convicted under the law, which had never been used in this manner since it was implemented to target corporate financial fraud in the wake of the Enron scandal.

This law addresses Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proceedings and investigations.  The statute makes it clear that destroying evidence or otherwise hindering an SEC investigation is an obstruction of justice offense.  DOJ has twisted this statute to “fit” January 6 cases, arguing that the Joint Session of Congress on January 6th was an “official proceeding” and that those protestors who arrived at the Capitol “obstructed” it.  However, DOJ has charged this offense against people who never went into the Capitol, and who were not even in Washington.

As the Petition notes, “unsatisfied with the penalties the violation of (lesser Misdemeanor) statutes might impose, and desiring to broadcast a louder and more compelling general deterrent message, the government transformed  18 U.S.C. Section 1512(c)(2) into something well beyond what Congress had in mind when it passed a law intended to punish interference with the integrity of evidentiary proceedings.  This statute not only carries with it a potential 20-year prison sentence—it sends a chilling message to anyone contemplating attendance at a political rally: Stay home. If things go wrong, you could face charges of corruptly obstructing an official proceeding.”

I also note the Due Process requirement of “fair notice” which insures that “a person of ordinary intelligence be placed on notice” of what the law prohibits was not met here regarding these Jan 6 marchers.  

Fortunately, thanks to Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Shreveport, LA), Americans have an opportunity to challenge Democrats’ accusation that Trump supporters broke the law when he released 44,000 hours of video tapes, providing us the definitive look at what actually happened that day.   

However, some review of this video has already occurred: “Jan. 6 Video of Capitol Rioter Fist-Bumping Police Raises Questions.” (Newsweek).

You think!?! 

Others have commented: X user Fighting For the Truth wrote, “Capitol police fist bump with J6r inside the Capitol.  They were welcomed guests. Then arrested.  That’s entrapment.”  Podcaster and writer, Jeff Charles, wrote on X, “Capitol Police take supposed J6er aside, remove his handcuffs, then give him a fist bump.  Now, why would they do this?  Hmmmmm.”  

Commentator Benny Johnson posted to X:  “I don’t think Capitol Police would take restraints off of a protester, FIST BUMP him, and then let him go if this were an actual ‘insurrection.'”  John Cremeans asserts “A Fist Bump? WTH! Capitol Police uncuff a January 6th Protestor and give him a fist bump. Something is definitely not right about the J6 Pelosi narrative.”  

Writer Liz Peek of The Hill notes“In a CNN poll conducted this past summer, only 29 percent of Republicans and right-leaning independents thought Biden’s election was legitimate, while 69 percent did not.  Of the country overall, 38 percent think Biden is an illegitimate president.  Given the concerted effort by the liberal media to squash such doubts and the ongoing vilification of “election-deniers,” that figure—roughly the same as it was on Jan. 6— is troubling.”   (11/24/23).

The Hill article concludes: “In an era when career criminals are often released without bail, large-scale theft is tolerated and progressive district attorneys refuse to prosecute even low-level felonies, the aggressiveness of the FBI in pursuing the Jan. 6 attendees hits a nerve.  Many consider it politically motivated and yet another example of what some call our “two-tiered system of justice.”

Millions of Americans have never believed the Pelosi/Left/Media narrative of what occurred on Jan 6.  The large majority of the marchers that day were simply exercising their 1st Amendment right to express themselves politically.  We may prayerfully hope that the Supreme Court takes judicial notice of this newly released Jan 6 evidence if it decides to hear these cases, which it should.

(Royal Alexander was a staff member to the late U.S. Representative Clyde C. Holloway of Louisiana’s 8th congressional district, since disbanded, who also served as chairman of the Louisiana Public Service Commission. He was also a member of the Republican State Central Committee of Louisiana from 2008-2012. He is an attorney.)

Professional Bass Fishing is a Tough Career Choice

As a kid growing up, teachers would ask the question of what do you want to be when you grow up? For boys, this was a trick question because we never grow up! Back in my day, the standard answers were policeman, fireman, teacher or for the super smart students in my class they would say…. a doctor or lawyer. Some had even greater aspirations of becoming an astronaut, mainly due to the fact we had just landed on the moon. But you never heard anyone say, “I want to be a professional bass fisherman.”

Another thing you never heard was that someone was going to sell water for a living. Can you imagine how your classmates would have reacted back in the 1970’s if you had announced you were going to bottle and sell water. You would have been the center of all their jokes from that day forward. But it turns out, you would have gotten the last laugh as you became wealthy selling water.

You probably would have gotten the same reaction if you said you were going to be a professional bass fisherman. Today, this is a real career choice for a select few. I have always compared it to being a professional athlete. The odds are not in your favor and these two are very comparable. Let me expand on this. Only 1 out of every 10,000 baseball players in the country gets drafted and only 1 out of every 5,000 makes it to the Major Leagues.

I tell you this because it just might be the same odds for becoming a professional bass fisherman. There are literally thousands of anglers across the world who want to make it to the United States and become a professional angler. Not only are you trying to be the best in this country, but you’ll be competing with anglers from Canada, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, and Australia for what amounts to about 80 slots in either B.A.S.S. or the MLF Pro Tours.

Bass fishing has become an international sport and is very competitive for those who want to try and make a living doing it. Catching fish is only a small part of what it takes to fish for a living. Today, you must be good with social media, understand business, be a great salesman and you better have good communication skills with the ability to talk to people.

Now let’s look at the sacrifices you’ll have to make. First, prepare to eat a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches while learning how to sleep in your truck or camp out to save money. Just to enter a B.A.S.S. or MLF event will cost you at least $50,000 up front and you have not even wet a hook yet. Travel expenses today with gas, hotel and food is off the chart. Hence, the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and campgrounds to try and save money.

You’ll pull your boat all over the United States with constant wear and tear on your vehicle. Don’t forget, it takes gas to fill up your boat which is an easy $75 to $120 per fill-up which includes all the practice and competition days. To be conservative, you’re probably looking at $100,000 to fish your first season which means you need to finish in the top 50 in every event to collect a $10,000 check and break even. I’ve only known one angler to ever achieve this accomplishment.

If you’re a family man, this just might be the toughest career choice you can make as you will miss birthdays, anniversaries, and some holidays. You will shed a lot of tears as you drive away from your wife and kids waving goodbye while you live the gypsy life away from home for days and weeks at a time.

I’m not trying to discourage anyone from pursuing their dreams, but understand, it’s one of the toughest and most competitive career choices you can ever make. It takes a special angler/person to make it in today’s world as a professional angler. You will need as many sponsors as you can land and if this is your dream, start saving your money now so that when you get that opportunity, money is not an issue. Anglers who are fishing just to get a check are the anglers who will struggle. Tournament fishing is kind of like gambling, anglers who fish to win can take chances rather than having to worry about just making a check so they can fish the next event.

Finally, if you’re married, make sure you have a wife who understands how tough this lifestyle can be. Today, many of the wives act as business managers for their husbands and help with coordinating appearances and interviews that pro anglers are called to do. This allows the angler to stay focused on catching fish and being competitive.

I hope I’ve shed some light on what it takes to enter the world of being a professional bass fisherman. It’s not an easy life, but one that can have great rewards if done correctly. Till next time, good luck, good fishing, and think long and hard if you decide to pursue a career in the professional bass fishing world.

Steve Graf

Anglers Perspective

‘Hey!, I (mis)remember that!’

And yet again we find ourselves within the gravitational pull of one of the most memorable yet misremembered dates in “the storied athletic history” of Louisiana Tech.

If things go gray upstairs in a second, all is forgiven. It’s been a minute.

But any Tech fan old enough to have seen episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show live will likely have some brain cells reserved for December 4, 1982, the much-anticipated opening day of the Thomas Assembly Center. Nearly every year as we close in on December 4, someone will mention that day to me.

It was that big of a deal.

“The Lady Techsters played USC and Cheryl Miller and the guys played USL (now ULL),” my friend called to say; The Date and The Day had just happened to come up in a basketball-related conversation as the 2023-24 Bulldogs have won five straight and get a test at 5-1 New Mexico, a regular participant in postseason tournaments, Wednesday at 8 CST.

Then — and this is the part that gets confusing because, well, Father Time — he said, “And that was after Delaware had beaten Tech in the 1-AA semifinals that afternoon, I think 17-0, in the rain,” he said. “What a day. All in Ruston.”

And he’s right. That’s what happened. Almost.

Here is what actually happened that December 4 afternoon before the TAC opened with a doubleheader that night. This from Shreveport Bossier Journal writer Ron Higgins, who then was writing sports for The Times in Shreveport:

“RUSTON—By land, or rather by mud, and through the air, Louisiana Tech quarterback Matt Dunigan tippy-toed through the swampland of Aillet Stadium for two touchdowns and threw for two more scores as Tech slipped past South Carolina State 38-3 Saturday afternoon in the NCAA Division I-AA South Regional final.”

It was South Carolina State that Tech played in football that day in the national quarterfinals. Then that night, USC beat the Techsters, 64-58, and the Dunkin’ Dogs lost to USL, 46-45. The crowd was 8,700; the place has 8,000 seats. More than jam packed. And it was: as a rookie graduate assistant in sports information, I was there.

The next Saturday, December 11, was also cold and rainy, and more than the week before. Miserable. That gray afternoon, Tech football lost in the semifinals of the I-AA playoffs to Delaware, 17-0. It was the final Tech game for both Dunigan — he was off to his career as a Hall of Famer in the Canadian Football League — and head coach Billy Brewer, off to a few seasons of success at his alma mater, Ole Miss.

Why so many of us often confuse the two dates might be because there was basketball at the TAC that December 11 Saturday, as there had been the Saturday before. After the football loss to Delaware, the Techsters thumped Cheyney State that night, 60-45, to win the Dial Classic. Yes, the good ol’ Dial Classic.

On December 4, Tech won in football and lost in basketball. The next weekend was the other way around.

Some other notes from those two weekends 41 years ago, as all three Tech programs were poised to make more immediate memories:

The Techsters’ loss to USC meant the end of their 59-game home winning streak. They beat USC on a neutral court in California, 58-56, later during the regular season and then, as two-time defending national champs, lost to USC in the title game, 69-67, in The Scope in Norfolk, Virginia. Big doings;

The Dunkin’ Dogs finished 19-9 and second in the Southland Conference that season but Shreveport’s Wayne Smith, Summerfield’s Karl Malone and a host of talented friends found themselves in the NCAA Tournament the next two seasons;

Many of the 1982 Football Bulldogs thawed out enough over the next two seasons to make it to the I-AA finals against Montana State at The Citadel in 1984; and,

Delaware. The Fightin’ Blue Hens haven’t been back to Ruston for football since that sleety Saturday when a dude named “Delaware Dan” Reeder slogged his way to a ball-controlling 114 yards on 22 carries and two of his less-workmanlike teammates got to score the TDs. But that seems poised to change: an announcement that the Blue Hens will become the 11th member of Conference USA is expected this week.

No news from the Dial Classic though. All quiet on the Dial Classic front …   

Contact Teddy at

Today in History

1530 – Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, former adviser to England’s King Henry VIII, died.

1864 – The Sand Creek Massacre occurred in Colorado when a militia led by Colonel John Chivington, killed at least 400 peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians who had surrendered and had been given permission to camp.

1890 – Navy defeated Army by a score of 24-0 in the first Army-Navy football game. The game was played at West Point, NY.

1892 – A patent was issued to Almon Brown Strowger for the rotary dial.

1929 – The first airplane flight over the South Pole was made by U.S. Navy Lt. Comdr. Richard E. Byrd.

1939 – The USSR broke off diplomatic relations with Finland prior to a Soviet attack.

1945 – The monarchy was abolished in Yugoslavia and a republic proclaimed.

1947 – The U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution that called for the division of Palestine between Arabs and Jews.

1961 – The Mercury-Atlas 5 spacecraft was launched by the U.S. with Enos the chimp on board. The craft orbited the earth twice before landing off Puerto Rico.

1963 – A Trans-Canada Airlines DC-8F with 111 passengers and 7 crew members crashed in woods north of Montreal 4 minutes after takeoff from Dorval Airport. All aboard were killed. The crash was the worst in Canada’s history.

1963 – U.S. President Johnson named a commission headed by Earl Warren to investigate the assassination of President Kennedy.

1967 – U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara announced that he was leaving the Johnson administration to become president of the World Bank.

1971 – The Professional Golf Championship was held at Walt Disney World for the first time.

1974 – In Britain, a bill that outlawed the Irish Republican Army became effective.

1975 – Bill Gates adopted the name Microsoft for the company he and Paul Allen had formed to write the BASIC computer language for the Altair.

1981 – Actress Natalie Wood drowned in a boating accident off Santa Catalina Island, CA, at the age 43.

1982 – The U.N. General Assembly voted that the Soviet Union should withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.

1986- Actor Cary Grant died at the age of 82.

1987 – A Korean jetliner disappeared off Burma, with 115 people aboard.

1987 – Cuban detainees released 26 hostages they’d been holding for more than a week at the Federal Detention Center in Oakdale, LA.

1988 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the rights of criminal defendants are not violated when police unintentionally fail to preserve potentially vital evidence.

1989 – In Czechoslovakia, the Communist-run parliament ended the party’s 40-year monopoly on power.

1990 – The U.N. Security Council voted to authorize military action if Iraq did not withdraw its troops from Kuwait and release all foreign hostages by January 15, 1991.

1991 – 17 people were killed in a 164-vehicle wreck during a dust storm near Coalinga, CA, on Interstate 5.

1992 – Dennis Byrd (New York Jets) was paralyzed after a neck injury in a game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

1994 – The U.S. House passed the revised General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

1994 – Fighter jets attacked the capital of Chechnya and its airport only hours after Russian President Boris Yeltsin demanded the breakaway republic end its civil war.

1996 – A U.N. court sentenced Bosnian Serb army soldier Drazen Erdemovic to 10 years in prison for his role in the massacre of 1,200 Muslims. The sentence was the first international war crimes sentence since World War II.

1998 – Swiss voters overwhelmingly rejected legalizing heroin and other narcotics.

2004 – The French government announced plans to build the Louvre II in northern France. The 236,808 square foot museum was the planned home for 500-600 works from the Louvre’s reserves.

2004 – Godzilla received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

2008 – In China, construction on the Shanghai Tower began.

Upcoming Events

Please send all non-profit calendar events to

December 1 -3 

Christmas at Bonnie & Clyde, 20550 Hwy 9 in Arcadia

December 7 (5:30 – 8 p.m.)

Ringgold Elementary – Christmas Movie Night

Students 1st through 6th (Tickets must be purchased by Dec. 4)

December 8

Ringgold Elementary School Cheer – Talent Show

December 8

Bienville Parish Library’s Annual Holiday Craft Fair

December 9 (1 – 5 p.m.)

Arcadia’s Downtown Christmas Market – N. Railroad Ave

December 9 (1 p.m. – UNTIL)

Arcadia’s Hometown Christmas Festival

December 11

Leslie Lakes Retirement Center – Pajama Drive

(All donations should be dropped off at 1355 6th St, Arcadia)

December 11

6th Annual Reindeer Run – Castor High School

December 15 

House of Raeford – Fresh Chicken Community Truckload Sale 

Pre-order only 

December 23 (10 a.m.)

Annual Toy Drive – Crawford Elementary School 

Arrest Reports

The following arrests were made by local law enforcement agencies.


Kea’Dohnyahe Haulcy of Arcadia was arrested for an expired motor vehicle inspection, no driver’s license, obscuring outward or inward view through windshield and aggravated flight from an officer.


Rodney Jackson, Jr. of Arcadia was arrested for failure to appear warrant and simple burglary of an inhabited dwelling. 

Lamarcus Sims, III of Ringgold was arrested for no driver’s license, aggravated flight from an officer and reckless operation without accident. 

Eric Lindsey of Coushatta was arrested for failure to appear warrant. 

Tiffany Waites of Hall Summit was arrested for child support obligation.

Kenny Young of Ringgold was arrested for theft of a firearm and possession or carrying of a concealed weapon by a person convicted of domestic abuse battery. 


Korea Reddick was arrested for operating a vehicle with a suspended license/no license issued. 


Lathan Davis of Amite was arrested for operating a vehicle with a suspended license and other offenses. 

Nyandrea Savage of Ringgold was arrested for no driver’s license.


Stephanie Cruz of Dallas, Texas was arrested for exceeding the maximum speed limit and no driver’s license. 

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 – November 28

Notice of Death – November 28, 2023

Juanette Yelverton

July 15, 1978 – Nov. 19, 2023

Ringgold, La.

Graveside service: 3 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023, Springhill Cemetery, Ringgold.

Doris Ann Johnson

Nov. 09, 1961 – Nov. 18, 2023

Homer, La.

Visitation: 12 – 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 01, 2023, Memorial Funeral Home, Homer.

Funeral service: 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 02, 2023, New Life Deliverance Worship Center, El Dorado, Ark.

Interment: 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 02, 2023, Junction City Community Cemetery.

Emma Lee Holman

Jan. 16, 1940 – Nov. 21, 2023

Ringgold, La.

Visitation: 2 – 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 01, 2023, Memorial Funeral Home, Ringgold.

Funeral service: 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 02, 2023, Evergreen Missionary Baptist Church, Ringgold.

Interment: 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 02, 2023, Stafford Cemetery, Ringgold.

Timothy D. Ivory

Sept. 02, 1978 – Nov. 24, 2023

Homer, La.

Wake: 5 – 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 02, 2023, Love Chapel BC, Homer.

Funeral service: 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 03, 2023, Homer City Hall. 

Interment: 4 p.m. at Moreland Cemetery.

Donald Truett Harrison

March 6, 1963 – Nov. 22, 2023

Elm Grove/Springhill

Visitation: 2 until 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023, Bailey Funeral Home, Springhill.

Memorial service: 3 p.m. immediately following visitation.

William ‘Bill’ Francis Stanley Jr.

March 20, 1953 – Nov. 23, 2023

Minden, La.

Celebration of life to be announced at a later date.

Charles Lamar Allen

June 16,  1962 – Nov. 25, 2023

Castor, La. 

Private graveside service will be held.

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.)

Search continues to fill BPSB Superintendent vacancy

The Bienville Parish School Board is seeking qualified applications for school superintendent.  The applicant must meet the qualifications set forth by BESE and/or LDOE. 

Each applicant must be certified as a superintendent in Louisiana at the time of application or eligible for immediate certification, as confirmed in writing by the LDOE at the time of application.  The applicant must possess the credentials which entitle him/her alone to serve as the district’s superintendent.

The deadline for submission of applications is December 1, 2023.  Applications not received by December 1, 2023, will be not be considered.

Applications will be available on the homepage of the school system’s website at this link  Your completed application with a cover letter, resume’, three (3) current letters of reference, and proof of certification or the LDOE confirmation must be mailed to the following address:

Bienville Parish School Board Superintendent Search

P O Box 701

Arcadia, LA  71001

The Bienville Parish School Board is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, religion, sex, qualified disability or other protected class.

New Tax Assessor extends a ‘Thank You’

Dear Bienville Parish Residents,

I am incredibly grateful for your overwhelming support, which has now placed me with the privilege of becoming your next Assessor. Your trust in me is a responsibility I hold with utmost humility.

This victory is not solely mine; it is a testament to the support and guidance of a higher power. Without God’s grace, this achievement would not have been possible.

I cannot conclude this election season without expressing gratitude to my dearest friends and family. Your consistent support, relentless dedication, and steadfast faith in me have formed the foundation of my campaign. The depth of your love and support carries immeasurable weight throughout my life, and I have cherished sharing this experience with you all.

I must also extend my sincere appreciation to my fellow candidates, Tyler Nutt and Ricardo Moore, for their commendable display of integrity and civility throughout the campaign. Sharing this experience with such esteemed individuals made the journey truly rewarding.

Lastly, to the Residents of Bienville Parish, I am deeply honored and thrilled to serve this community. I promise to continually demonstrate my dedication to you all and strive to make you proud.

Thank you all for entrusting me with this incredible opportunity.

Warm regards,

Catherine D. Perritt

Your Assessor Elect

BPJ staff is thankful for you

The Bienville Parish Journal would like to extend well wishes and gratitude to our readers and advertisers this Thanksgiving holiday.

Over this past year our subscriptions, readership, advertising, interactions and engagements have increased tremendously across multiple platforms. We appreciate you trusting us with all things news, sports, weather and more. 

The BPJ staff will be taking a break to enjoy time with our family and friends, so there will be no Friday publication. We will be back to our usual Wednesday, Friday schedule next week.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Safe Thanksgiving travel begins with a click

Baton Rouge – As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, countless individuals are eagerly preparing to hit the roads and reunite with loved ones. The American Automobile Association estimates over 49 million people will embark on journeys of 50 miles or more by car during this time. With this in mind, Louisiana State Police will be actively patrolling our state’s highways throughout the Thanksgiving holiday travel period.

Troopers will be on the lookout for aggressive and impaired drivers, as well as motorists who neglect to wear seat belts or secure their children in appropriate restraints. Shockingly, statistics from the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission reveal the majority of fatalities on Louisiana roadways involve the 15 percent of vehicle occupants who choose not to wear seat belts (based on observational surveys). While not all crashes are survivable, wearing a seat belt remains the most effective measure individuals can take to minimize the risk of injury in the event of a crash.

Louisiana law states that all occupants in the vehicle must utilize a seat belt and children must be properly restrained in the back seat in a safety child safety seat or booster seat appropriate for their age and size. Children who have outgrown a booster seat but are younger than 13 must be buckled up in the back seat, if one is available. Remember: Click It or Ticket, both day and night. The Click It or Ticket campaign will begin November 18 and is a statewide enforcement campaign.

For the most up-to-date information on road conditions, including closures and construction, please visit or dial 511 from any phone within Louisiana. Additionally, a 511 Louisiana phone app is available for download, and motorists can sign up for traffic alerts from the Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD).

We encourage motorists who witness hazardous road conditions and/or reckless drivers to call *LSP (*577) and report the activity to the nearest Louisiana State Police troop location.

The Louisiana State Police extends warm wishes for a safe and joyous Thanksgiving holiday to all.

Contact Information:
Sgt. James Anderson
Louisiana State Police
Public Affairs Section
Office: (337) 491-2932

Saving Rebecca

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Thanksgiving!!!


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

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

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

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

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

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

Jim Spencer may be a trickster but one heckuva writer

I have this quirky friend up in north Arkansas that you really have to keep your eye on. Here’s what I’m talking about…I was invited once several years ago to fish the Little Red River in Arkansas for trout.

Jim Spencer, Keith Sutton and I shared a boat and although the two of them, both Arkansans, have caught a ton of trout in their lives, I had never caught one. I cast out, felt a tug on my line and hooked into my very first rainbow trout. Thrilled wasn’t an adequate word but I was so happy to finally catch a species of fish I had never caught and I was expressing my glee at finally hooking my first.

Unbeknownst to me, Spencer had slipped up behind me while I was fighting my fish. When I first noticed him, I assumed he was there to help me land the fish if need be. Glancing back, I noticed he had his knife in his hand and a certain gleam in his eye when he reached out, not to help me land my trout but to cut my line.

Somehow, I managed to get the fish in the boat, which was not easy to do while maneuvering around to keep him from slicing my line. That’s one side of the Jim Spencer I know and I have learned to always keep my eyes open when I’m around him.

The other side I know and appreciate about Jim Spencer is that anything he writes, I get as absorbed in it as I did the day I kept him away from my line. Spencer is to me one of the very best outdoor writers anywhere in the country, especially when it comes to writing about his obsession, wild turkeys.

Several years ago, Spencer started thinking about all the gobblers he has taken but the equal number that had whipped him. He came up with the idea of producing a book about times where the gobbler had won. He produced a book that would take the turkey hunting world by storm. He named it Bad Birds 1.

Realizing there were more stories to tell, he later put together his second version of the book, naturally naming it Bad Birds 2.

Believing he had covered all the bases in talking about those gobblers that had handed him his rear end, he assumed he was done. However, there were a number of stories he knew he could tell that had yet to be told so he did it again. His latest version of his self-flagellation regarding gobblers has led him to, once again, bare his soul in Bad Birds 3.

I have read all three books and while the first two were classics, I think this last one is the best; he leaves no stone unturned in sharing his disappointment, disgust and downright frustration of the times that gobblers have beat him.

Spencer’s wife, Jill, shares his addiction of hunting turkeys and they travel the country together every spring to play games with gobblers. Jim had Jill, who is also an award winning outdoor writer herself, to produce the foreward for his latest book.

“If you run into us somewhere along the trail in some future spring,” Jill writes, “say howdy and tell us some turkey stories. Jim is always willing to talk about these birds he can’t leave alone.”

Bad Birds 3 sells for $25 plus $6 shipping. Best bet is the package deal featuring all three Bad Birds for $55 delivered. He’ll also add his Turkey Hunting Digest for an extra $12, for a total of $67. Order to Treble Hooks Unlimited, P.O. Box758, Calico Rock, AR 72519.

You talk about a fine Christmas gift for the turkey hunter, this is it. Adding a word of caution, if you are ever privileged to share a fishing boat with Spencer, be sure and keep an eye on him; he could be opening his knife.

It Takes a Village (or at least a dedicated team)

There are a lot of factors that go into the process of writing, testing, re-testing, editing, photographing, re-editing, styling, re-re-editing, publishing, marketing, and distributing a cookbook. It’s a process I’ve become quite familiar with over the past two decades. Though the word “factors” is slightly misleading. The correct terminology should be “people.”

My latest cookbook, “Mississippi Mornings” was released yesterday. It is my 13th book in the last 21 years. And whereas it has my name on the cover, it— like every book I’ve written before it— was a team effort. The true story of every cookbook, not just mine but anyone’s, is not on the cover, but on the acknowledgements page. It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child. Maybe so, but it definitely takes a great team to publish a cookbook.

From day one my business philosophy has been— take great care of the people who take care of you, and I have always believed in giving credit where credit is due. With Mississippi Mornings there’s a lot of credit to give.

My team is one that, at least when it comes to the culinary lineup, has been together since that first book 21 years ago. Chef Linda Roderick leads our recipe- testing team. The two of us have worked together—on and off—for more than 23 years. We’ve worked together for so long, and on so many projects, that we practice our own version of verbal kitchen shorthand and can communicate efficiently in partial sentences. She has an excellent palate, tons of wisdom, and loads of experience. Together we have more than three-quarters of a century in this business. Hers has been one of my favorite professional relationships, ever, and we are currently in the process of developing and testing the recipes for next year’s cookbook.

Chef Scott Strickland (we call him Scotty), served as Linda’s sous chef for recipe testing and photo shoots. He and I have also worked together for more than twenty years. He manned the stoves at the Purple Parrot for almost two decades and is now working his magic in the kitchen at The Midtowner. He, along with Linda, did the heavy lifting on the recipe testing. He has always been by my side, whether it’s for a new feature in the restaurant or an out-of-town cooking demonstration. His talents are numerous. 

Kate Dearman shot all the photographs in the book and might be one of the hardest working women in the photography business. I have known her mother— my first-ever date to a concert when we were both six— all my life. Kate grew up in Hattiesburg and now works out of Nashville. She is a consummate professional and got some great food shots for the book. She also had the unenviable task of trying to secure a usable photograph of the author, which probably turned out to be a tougher task than making a plain bowl of grits look appealing.

Martha Foose was still living between the Mississippi Delta and— what she quickly labeled the “Pine Belta” in— Hattiesburg when we shot the book. She is also a cookbook veteran and served as the primary food stylist for the photo shoot. In the middle of the photo shoot, I asked her to write the foreword. She nailed both assignments and kept everyone in stitches the entire time.

Anthony Thaxton is possibly the most talented person I know. He is a man of many gifts who wears many hats. In addition to being my co-producer on numerous television shows and a couple of documentary projects, his is also my fellow co-founder— and the driving force— at our newly founded Institute of Southern Storytelling at Mississippi College. He handled the design and artistic direction for this project and did it well. This may be my best-looking book, ever.

Simeon Williford is my assistant and keeper. She handles the publishing business and the travel business in addition to my schedule and most of the random things that pop up over the course of my days. She keeps me between the bumpers and in the bonus.

To round out the team Laurel Rowell handles marketing, Maria Keyes covers accounting (and farm-fresh eggs), Chief Operating Officer, Jarred Patterson, holds down the forts. And while we’re speaking of the forts, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the 450 team members who are down in the daily trenches at New South Restaurant Group restaurants every day.

Jill St. John and Justin Jordan should receive special thanks for floral design, staging, and handling the props department. I never knew that turning our dining room into what looked like a temporary flea market could be so effective.

Four of the 13 books I have written were done so under national publishing contracts. One was a three book deal with the national publisher 15 years ago. There were two books I wanted to do with that publisher when I signed the deal. One was a Christmas cookbook the other was a breakfast cookbook. They weren’t interested in doing a Christmas cookbook but said they could do a holiday cookbook. I passed and made a mental note to publish a Christmas book under my own imprint in the future. I ended up doing a grilling book instead of the breakfast book and was very proud of it. It was one of my better efforts. But the breakfast book has always been on the to-do list. That day has come.

Having worked in the self-publishing world for most of my books I’ve learned a lot. For a long time, I thought a book project wasn’t legit unless it came from a national publisher. And then I worked with two different national publishers and was surprised to learn that— at least when it comes to my work and my specific audience— I am more in touch with my base than the professionals on the Upper West Side. It’s around that time that I decided to use my own imprint for all future works.

I no longer have the desire to have my books in stores from coast to coast. Been there, done that. These days my interest is in those who follow my work in the Southeastern United States. I also only work with local independent bookstores and gift shops. That’s one change I made a couple of books ago. My books were being sold in all the big box retailers, but the backbone of my support was in independent bookstores and gift shops. I am a huge proponent of people eating in local restaurants and not dining in national chains and it struck me one day why would I work against independent booksellers and small gift shops who are on the front lines of the book business.  I need to practice what I preach and support those who have supported me and my work.

As I head out on a brief book-signing tour throughout Mississippi, I’ll be fueled by an overwhelming sense of gratitude and indebtedness for those independent retailers who sell my books, to those who take time out of their day to come to a book signing to purchase one of my books, the online followers who live out of state and order books, and especially those who have helped me produce these books for the past two decades.

As always, it’s the people. Thank you from the deepest recesses of my overworked heart.


Sweet Potato Pancakes

I ate my first sweet potato pancake during my only visit to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. My family, along with another couple and their young children rented a cabin in the mountains during spring break. I woke every morning and headed into town for breakfast. I would imagine Gatlinburg has more pancake houses per capita than any place on the planet. My problem is that I never found a good-tasting pancake until I happened across sweet potato pancakes at one of the pancake houses.

We serve a version of this recipe at The Midtowner. The Cinnamon Cream Syrup is a must.

Yield: 10-14 pancakes

Preheat oven to 200 degrees for holding pancakes

1 2/3  cups All Purpose Flour
1 TBSP Baking Powder
½ tsp Baking Soda
½ tsp Kosher Salt
½ tsp Nutmeg
1 ½ tsp  Cinnamon
 1 ½ cups Cooked and mashed sweet potato
(approximately two medium sweet potatoes)
3 Large Eggs
¼ cup Sour Cream
1 ½ cups Milk
¼ cup Maple Syrup
¼ cup Unsalted Butter, melted
1 TBSP Pure Vanilla Extract

Melted butter or non-stick spray for cooking. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon in a medium sized bowl. In a separate mixing bowl whisk together the sweet potato, puree eggs, sour cream, milk, maple syrup, melted butter and vanilla extract. Whisk the sweet potato mixture into the flour mixture, do not overmix. A few lumps is fine. Allow batter to sit 10-15 minutes before cooking pancakes.

To cook the pancakes, heat a non-stick griddle to 325- 350 degrees (models vary, so test your griddle with a small bit of batter to assure you have the heat adjusted correctly). Brush griddle with melted butter or spray with non-stick spray. Form pancakes by using a one-third cup measuring cup. Cook until surface of pancakes has some bubbles and a few have burst, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip pancakes and cook for an additional two minutes. If holding pancakes in the oven before serving, place them on a wire rack in a preheated oven. Serve with Cinnamon Cream Syrup.

Cinnamon Cream Syrup

This pairs perfectly with Sweet Potato Pancakes. It may be better than the pancakes themselves (and they’re great). But try this recipe on regular pancakes, waffles, and French toast.

Yield: approximately 2 cups

1-14 ounce can Sweetened Condensed Milk
¼ cup + 2 TBSP Maple Syrup
1 ½ tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
Pinch Salt

Set up a small sauce pot to act as a double boiler. Combine all ingredients in a small stainless-steel bowl and place over double boiler on medium-high heat. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and serve. The cooled syrup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for one week.

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

Aunt Ethel’s Go-To Holiday Diet Plan 

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Wrote this in 2010 to help get you and me and our digestive systems through the holidays safely. The Worldwide Chocolate Shortage predicted back then did not, thank goodness, come to pass. So … pass the chocolate.)

These are the times that try men’s … colons?

Even the most casual eater, wandering aimlessly through The Land of the Leftover, has got to be heads-up in these post-Thanksgiving days. Cheese dip here. Sausage ball there. Week-old giblets, ripe for the taking. 

Food jitters.

For some reason, we are robotically drawn to seasonal foods, even though there are plenty of holiday experiences available that should cause us to lose our appetites. If you can’t relate, then you’ve never been hugged right before a holiday meal by a great aunt. With a goatee. Who’s dipping snuff. 

Welcome to my world.

(I have a friend who once lost 15 pounds during December. She didn’t mean to. But right before one Thanksgiving dinner, her uncle said to her, table-side, “Honey, I wonder why God took all the hair off my head and put it on my back?” She was able to eat solid food again, but not until somewhere around Valentine’s Day.)

Another dietary issue this time of year: stadium food. Close to Football Bowl season. Pressure’s on. So we eat either to relieve the stress of a stretch run or to keep from being bored stiff because our team IS a stiff.  I have yet another friend who shared with me his digestive system misgivings after Saturday’s joyous time in a football stadium occupied by a team that’s more up and down than a prairie dog. “My most painful lesson from the weekend,” he said, “was that pre-prandial and post-prandial reflections on a stadium corn dog are two very different realities.”

Prandial means “of or relating to a meal.” It’s from the rural Latin “prandium,” meaning, “I should not have ate that.” As you have surmised, to use those kinds of high-dollar words, my friend is pretty smart – but not smart enough to call time out in the corn dog line. You do not toy with a mass-produced corn dog in a competitive atmosphere far, far from your home locker room. You don’t do it.

Let this be a lesson to us all: your digestive system doesn’t know you have a high IQ. Faulty plumbing due to pilot error puts us all — the prince and the pauper, the duke (excuse my French) and the serf — right there on the same page.

The corn dog on a stick I ate was more than just inviting.

Too bad I didn’t think that later it would do the biting.

  • From Fourth and Long, a work in progress 

Food jits.

If our own lack of self-control and the overpowering temptations of the season weren’t enough, the food world and Mother Nature herself might be conspiring against us. My own personal mother, of all people, alerted me to this tragedy.

The Nature Conservation Research Council, which sounds like an important thing, forecasts a chocolate shortage. Because African farmers are ditching their cocoa farms for other easier-to-grow crops, chocolate might either disappear or increase drastically in price. This means that in 20 years, a Baby Ruth could well be out of my price range. My mother’s grandchildren call her “Sweeter,” so you can imagine how this is affecting my family. Let’s hold hands and …

Chocolate Lamentations

No Twix? No Bliss? No Hershey’s Kiss,

No chocolate dip fondue?

The question we must pray is

“What would Willie Wonka do?”

Contact Teddy at

Today in History

1699 – A treaty was signed by Denmark, Russia, Saxony and Poland for the partitioning of the Swedish Empire.

1718 – English pirate Edward Teach (a.k.a. “Blackbeard”) was killed during a battle off the coast of North Carolina. British soldiers cornered him aboard his ship and killed him. He was shot and stabbed more than 25 times.

1880 – Lillian Russell made her vaudeville debut in New York City.

1899 – The Marconi Wireless Company of America was incorporated in New Jersey.

1906 – The International Radio Telegraphic Convention in Berlin adopted the SOS distress signal.

1909 – Helen Hayes appeared on stage for the first time. She was a member of the cast of “In Old Dutch.”

1910 – Arthur F. Knight patented a steel shaft to replace wood shafts in golf clubs.

1928 – In Paris, “Bolero” by Maurice Ravel was first performed publicly.

1935 – The first trans-Pacific airmail flight began in Alameda, CA, when the flying boat known as the China Clipper left for Manila. The craft was carrying over 110,000 pieces of mail.

1942 – During World War II, the Battle of Stalingrad began.

1943 – U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek met in Cairo to discuss the measures for defeating Japan.

1950 – The lowest scoring game in the NBA was played. The Fort Wayne Pistons (later the Detroit Pistons) defeated the Minneapolis Lakers (later the Los Angeles Lakers) 19-18.

1963 – U.S. President Kennedy was assassinated while riding in a motorcade in Dallas, TX. Texas Governor John B. Connally was also seriously wounded. Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson was inaugurated as the 36th U.S. President.

1967 – The U.N. Security Council approved resolution 242. The resolution called for Israel to withdraw from territories it had captured in 1967 and called on adversaries to recognize Israel’s right to exist.

1972 – U.S. President Richard M. Nixon lifted a ban on American travel to Cuba. The ban had been put in place on February 8, 1963.

1974 – The U.N. General Assembly gave the Palestine Liberation Organization observer status.

1975 – Juan Carlos I was proclaimed King of Spain upon the death of Gen. Francisco Franco.

1975 – “Dr. Zhivago” appeared on TV for the first time. NBC paid $4 million for the broadcast rights.

1977 – Regular passenger service on the Concorde began between New York and Europe.

1983 – The Bundestag approved NATO’s plan to deploy new U.S. nuclear missiles in West Germany.

1984 – Fred Rogers of PBS’ “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” presented a sweater to the Smithsonian Institution.

1985 – Anne Henderson-Pollard was taken into custody a day after her husband Jonathon Jay Pollard was arrested for spying for Israel.

1985 – 38,648 immigrants became citizens of the United States. It was the largest swearing-in ceremony.

1986 – An Iranian surface-to-surface missile hit a residential area in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, wounding 20 civilians.

1986 – Attorney Generel Meese’s office discovered a memo in Colonel Oliver North’s office that included an amount of money to be sent to the Contras from the profits of weapons sales to Iran.

1986 – Mike Tyson became the youngest to wear the world heavyweight-boxing crown. He was only 20 years and 4 months old.

1988 – The South African government announced it had joined Cuba and Angola in endorsing a plan to remove Cuban troops from Angola.

1989 – Rene Moawad, the president of Lebanon, was assassinated less than three weeks after taking office by a bomb that exploded next to his motorcade in West Beirut.

1990 – U.S. President George H.W. Bush, his wife, Barbara, and other congressional leaders shared Thanksgiving dinner with U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia.

1990 – British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher announced she would resign.

1993 – Mexico’s Senate overwhelmingly approved the North American Free Trade Agreement.

1993 – American Airlines flight attendants ended their strike that only lasted four days.

1994 – Inside the District of Columbia’s police headquarters a gunman opened fire. Two FBI agents, a city detective and the gunman were killed in the gun battle.

1994 – In northwest Bosnia, Serb fighters set villages on fire in response to a retaliatory air strikes by NATO.

1998 – CBS’s “60 Minutes” aired a tape of Jack Kevorkian giving lethal drugs in an assisted suicide of a terminally ill patient. Kevorkian was later sentenced to 25 years in prison for second-degree murder.

2005 – Angela Merkel was elected as Germany’s first female chancellor.

2005 – Microsoft’s XBOX 360 went on sale.

2013 – The discovery of Siats meekerorum was announced. The dinosaur skeleton, more than 30 feet long, was found in eastern Utah.

2016 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 19,000 for the first time in its 120-year history. It closed at 19,023.87 for the day.

Upcoming Events

Please send all non-profit calendar events to

November 28 (6 p.m.)

Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony – Historic Downtown Arcadia

December 7 (5:30 – 8 p.m.)

Ringgold Elementary – Christmas Movie Night

Students 1st through 6th (Tickets must be purchased by Dec. 4)

December 8

Ringgold Elementary School Cheer – Talent Show

December 8

Bienville Parish Library’s Annual Holiday Craft Fair

December 9 (1 – 5 p.m.)

Arcadia’s Downtown Christmas Market – N. Railroad Ave

December 9 (1 p.m. – UNTIL)

Arcadia’s Hometown Christmas Festival

December 11

Leslie Lakes Retirement Center – Pajama Drive

(All donations should be dropped off at 1355 6th St, Arcadia)

December 15 

House of Raeford – Fresh Chicken Community Truckload Sale 

Pre-order only 

December 23 (10 a.m.)

Annual Toy Drive – Crawford Elementary School