Items for deployed military troops can be dropped of at any of the four Bank of Montgomery Branches. The project continues year-round with boxes to be prepared for Halloween and Christmas. The Shreveport Chapter of Operation Support Our Troops (OSOT) needs help with their on-going collection of items that can include instant hot chocolate mix/coffee/tea, tuna in foil packs, instant oatmeal/grits, Ramen noodle and instant cup-a-soup in any flavor except pork, chocolate candy, especially Hershey’s Kisses, white tube socks, artwork made by school children and notes or letters. 

Work on train depot finished; City awaits proposals:  Work on the train depot has reached a stopping point. The Natchitoches Community Improvement Foundation rebuffed Mayor Lee Posey’s proposal to update parks in west Natchitoches at its meeting April 14. Posey’s main agenda at the meeting was to bring before the board the idea of improving the parks in west Natchitoches. Posey was hoping the foundation would fund park improvements with money from a class action suit resulting from PCP damages to Sibley Lake. The money was intended for community improvements. Members of the Foundation. The Foundation received $600,000 in the 1990s. To qualify for certain grants that could be applied toward beautification and updating in the area, the City must first own the property in. Posey suggested the board could use its funds to purchase the land from owner Claire Primus. He said City would consider buying more land to add to the purchase. Other plans include adding signs and lighting on MLK Drive, which can be dark and dangerous for those walking the roadside at night, according to Posey. “We can make a difference in this community,” he said. Sylvia Morrow answered, “We need to investigate other grants that are available and utilize them first.” The Rev. Leo Walker, head of the Foundation, said, “We are not ready to let the money go. We are trying to get set up. When we get things settled there will be a form issued for anyone interested in community projects.” Posey then declared that the City would not be working anymore on the train depot, saying the recent work preserved the building as it is. While rumors have floated around the city, Posey assured the board that no work was scheduled on the train depot concerning the creation of an African American History Museum, unless the City receives a proposal for the project. After receiving figures above $3 million for the creation of such a museum, the City is concerned by the additional costs of operation, management and initial funding. Posey gave a brief update on the plans for City Park, stating that work on the City Pool began April 13. The second phase will include a walking track. Work is complete on the Breda Town Park. The City added lighting, a concession stand and gates and cameras for security at the MLK Park. These additions will allow the area to be used for reunions and other events.
 
GEE testing will be this month: GEE testing will take place Monday-Thursday, April 27-30, at the Natchitoches Parish School Board. If applicant is already “graduated” and still needs to pass a part of the GEE test they can participate in Louisiana standardized testing for the GEE. Applicants must pre-register by calling Jennifer Ingram at 352-2358 so that additional materials and supplies can be provided.
 
Parks and historic sites may be on list of State closures: Some of the cuts to state agencies that have been proposed to help offset the projected $1.6 billion shortfall in next year’s budget could result in the closure of parks and historic sites and curtailed funding for parish libraries. Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, who oversees the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, says current plans to divert more than $2 million from that agency’s budget to the general fund could force shutdowns and deep cutbacks at state parks and other facilities. Nine historic sites, some in Natchitoches Parish, could be closed if Culture, Recreation and Tourism funding is slashed. On the list are Audubon, Fort Pike, Longfellow, Rebel State, Fort Randolph, Fort Jessup, Marksville, Plaquemine Lock and Centenary. Dardenne also said funding from the State Library to local libraries might have to be reduced or eliminated, and allocations to Main Street programs that have helped revitalize downtown areas of state municipalities would be reduced. Budget cuts to state agencies over the past seven years have had a huge negative impact on Louisiana, and this could be the ugliest year of all for the state budget.
 
 
While TOPS is beneficial, it’s lacking plan to control costs: The TOPS scholarship program that has assisted thousands of students in paying for college and university tuition over the past two decades is good for Louisiana and must continue, but legislators should adopt this year a plan to curtail the cost of the grants. Efforts in past sessions to rein in the escalating cost of TOPS by raising academic standards for eligibility to limit the number of recipients have been repeatedly rejected because of the popularity of the program. But a bill in this year’s session by Senators Jack Donahue of Mandeville and Conrad Appel of Metairie that would control TOPS expenses by setting limits on the amount of tuition paid by the scholarships has extensive support from higher education leaders. The Patrick F. Taylor Foundation that founded the scholarships has endorsed the plan to keep tuition reimbursements at current levels unless increases are approved in the future by the legislature. Higher education governing boards also embrace that concept. TOPS is extremely beneficial to Louisiana, because it provides funding for many students that would not be able to afford college costs to enroll in universities and continue to receive financial support from the state if they meet academic criteria.  But the program that cost Louisiana taxpayers just $40 million in the late 1990s now has a price tag of $267 million. Those costs are rolled into the budgets of state colleges and universities which must allocate additional funds to the scholarships each year as tuition costs increase. Under the proposed law, the legislature rather than individual institutions would establish the baseline amount of tuition to be paid for TOPS scholarships. Legislators could not lower the current value of TOPS grants but could raise the amount awarded in the future. Louisiana Commissioner of Higher Education Joseph Rallo said adoption of the bill revising TOPS costs would allow colleges and universities to better plan and manage finances by curtailing TOPS cost increases in higher education budgets each year. More than 620,000 Louisiana high school graduates have receiving TOPS funding to enroll in state colleges and universities over the years, and that has helped raise educational attainment levels and enhance the state work force. But continually rising costs are creating problems for the state and for colleges and universities at a time when state revenues are not keeping pace with expenses. The Donahue-Appel bill would help continue TOPS while controlling costs of the program.
 
St. Denis Art League name Ladies and Gentleman of Spring Festival Court: League Spring Festival Board of Directors has named the Ladies and Gentlemen of the Court for its 47th Presentation and Ball to be held on Saturday, April 25, in the Ballroom of the Sylvan Friedman Student Union on the Northwestern State University campus.

NPSOs’ Arrest report for Friday, April 17 – Sunday, April 19, 2015. Arrested were: 

  1. Clarence Wayne Jones – WM (25) – 534 Highway 504, #3, Natchitoches, LA – Possession of Marijuana
  2. David Bradford - BM (38) – 143 Bill Road, Natchitoches, LA – Contempt of Court, Aggravated Assault, Simple Battery, Theft
  3. Shafeqah Imani Ransom – BF (32) – 1300 Dallas Drive #324, Denton, TX – Possession of Marijuana, Illegal Use of CDS in the Presence of a Minor
  4. Sherry Darlene Parker – WF (37)  1888 Highway 117, Provencal, LA – Operating a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated, Improper Lane Usage
  5. Reginald Armstrong – BM (17) – 169 Payne Drive, Natchitoches, LA – Possession of Schedule I Drugs, Illegal Possession of a Weapon with CDS, Illegal Use of CDS in the Presence of a Minor, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
  6. Marlon Rachal – BM (18) – 153 Payne Drive, Natchitoches, LA – Possession of Schedule I Drugs, Illegal Possession of a Weapon with CDS, Illegal Use of CDS in the Presence of a Minor, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
  7. Dangelo Latrize Caesar – BM (34) – 1514 Orange Street, Winnfield, LA – Reckless Operation of a Motor Vehicle, DUS
  8. Clifford Ray Casson – BM (42) – 2362 Highway 6, Natchitoches, LA – Operating a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated, Failure to Yield, Driving with No Drivers’ License, Possession of an Open Alcoholic Container in a Motor Vehicle
  9. Brandon James Streetman – WM (32) – 534 Highway 504 #5, Natchitoches, LA – Possession of Schedule I Drugs 2nd Offense, Illegal Use of CDS in the Presence of a Minor
  10. Marlon Freeman – BM (24) – 1822 Abbie Street, Shreveport, LA – Introduction of Contraband into a Penal Facility
  11. Ivory Hicks – BM (43) – 1560 Eight Mile Loop, Natchitoches, LA – Cruelty to animals, Dog Fighting, Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon
  12. Michael Adrian Land – WM (52) – 3886 Highway 480, Campti, LA – Cruelty to Animals