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Wednesday, February 14, 2024




We would like to wish all our faithful readers a very Happy St. Valentine’s Day!  Thank you for your support and for celebrating another Valentine’s Day with Observations. We have marked a total of 67 of them since starting an early version of this column back in 1957. Here’s to several more. May you and yours be surrounded by love on this special day.




Walker Lane Pickett


It was so very heart-touching to see how this whole area showed their love, support and sympathy for the Pickett and Anthony families after the untimely death of Walker Lane Pickett. His life ended much too soon in a car crash on Wednesday morning, Feb. 7, while on his way to school at Converse. He was only 14.

 

The Pickett family has been one of the most loved and respected families in Sabine Parish for a long, long time. Three in the family served as District Judge, and Elizabeth Pickett has continued a life of service, now as Chief Judge on the Third Circuit Court of Appeal.

 

On Friday, Feb. 9, a “Red Out for Walker Day” was held, and we were pleased to see thousands of participants from across Sabine Parish, people in DeSoto, Caddo, Bossier, Natchitoches and Rapides Parishes, and folks in Arkansas, Texas and as far away as Destin, FL, who wore red on Friday to honor the life of the young man.

 

The wake was held Sunday evening and folks paying their respects filled the Converse First Baptist Church to capacity, spilling into the yard and waiting in line to offer condolences.

 

The funeral was held Monday morning, Feb. 12, and again, the church was overflowing with friends who turned out to show support and love.

 

We offer our sympathy to all members of the Pickett and Anthony families. You have been remembered in our prayers and in the prayers of countless more. Our prayers will continue as you face the days ahead.



Georgia Craven elected as Director of Louisiana Travel Association’s board

 

Sabine Parish Tourist Commission Executive Director Georgia Craven

 

Georgia Craven, Executive Director of the Sabine Parish Tourist Commission, was installed as Director of the Louisiana Travel Association (LTA) Board of Directors after the completion of its annual meeting at Harrah’s New Orleans.

 

“I am honored to be serving LTA and the 750 members the association represents throughout the state,” said Craven. “This organization has worked to lead and strengthen Louisiana’s tourism industry for over 60 years, and I look forward to working with my fellow board members to keep the momentum going.”

 

New officers installed on the executive board committee included Ralph Ney, Baton Rouge Marriott, as chairman; Donna O’Daniels, Louisiana Northshore, as vice-chairman; Nelson Gumm, AJR Media Group, as treasurer; Carla Tate, Tangi Tourism, as secretary; and Alana Cooper, Discover Monroe-West Monroe, as immediate past chair.


New members on the board of directors also include Leslie Brewer, Destrehan Plantation; Kristen Preau, Jambalaya Girl; and Jay Artigues, Southeastern Louisiana University Athletics.

 

Returning members on the board of directors are Stephen Hightower, City Group Hospitality; Vimal “Ricky” Patel, Divi Hospitality; Adrienne Breaux, Hyatt Centric French Quarter & The Eliza Jane; John Grubb, Cook Hotel & Conference Center; Jay Ducote, JDD Consulting LLC; Scott Ballard, Ballard Brands; Jay Sharplin, SharpCo Hotels; Stacy Brown, Shreveport-Bossier CTB; Walt Leger, New Orleans & Company; Jill Kidder, Visit Baton Rouge; Sondra Corbitt, Houma Area CVB; Ben Berthelot, Lafayette CVC; Ralph Calhoun, Biedenharn Museum & Gardens; Cody Gray, Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou; Aaron Dirks, Limousine Livery; Vito Zuppardo, Miles Partnership; Kyle Edmiston, Visit Lake Charles; Violet Peters, Visit Jefferson Parish; Adrienne Hennis, Advance Travel & Tourism; Mike Buckley, Golden Nugget; Morgan Moss, The Myrtles Plantation & Blue House Hospitality; Jady Regard, Cane River Pecan Company; Justin Vincent, Tiger Athletic Foundation; Rebecca Blankenbaker, Cane River National Heritage Area; and Doug Bourgeois, Louisiana Office of Tourism.

 

“Our executive committee and board of directors are responsible for helping us meet the needs of our members and making sure we accomplish our goals of providing educational and marketing opportunities while also advocating on the industry’s behalf,” said Chris Landry, LTA president and CEO. “We are excited to be starting off another year with a great group of industry leaders that represent the entire state.”

 

Each year, the chairman of the board selects a nominating committee that is comprised of members who are not up for re-election and who are not seeking office. This committee is responsible for presenting a slate to the members of the association that recognizes all regions of the state and all segments of the tourism industry.

 

About the Louisiana Travel Association

 

LTA is a trade association which leads and strengthens Louisiana’s tourism industry through advocacy, education and promotion on behalf of its members. Tourism generated $1.9 billion for Louisiana in 2022, and the field is the 4th largest employer in the state. For more information, visit LouisianaTravelAssociation.org.


(Special thanks to Sabine Tourist Commission Marketing Director Kelsi Horn for the above article.)





 Sabine Sheriff’s Office accepting applications for Louisiana Sheriff’s Association Scholarship

 

Sabine Parish Sheriff Aaron Mitchell has announced the availability of a $1,000 college scholarship for a Sabine Parish graduating high school senior.

 

The scholarship is made available each year through the Louisiana Sheriff’s Honorary Membership Program to help defray the cost associated with higher education.  One scholarship is awarded in each parish where the sheriff participates in the Honorary Membership Program.

 

To qualify for a scholarship, the recipient must be a permanent resident of Louisiana, plan to enroll as a full-time undergraduate student, and agree to use the scholarship at a Louisiana institute of higher education.

 

Applicants must be eligible for admission to the school indicated on their application.


The deadline to apply is Monday, April 1, 2024.  Completed applications should be mailed to the Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office, Attention: Sherri Bennett, P. O. Box 1380, Many, LA 71449 or they can be delivered in person to the Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Criminal Investigations Division, 850 San Antonio Ave. in Many.

 

The scholarship winner will be announced by Wednesday, May 1, 2024.

 

Complete scholarship guidelines, criteria, and the application may be obtained at https://www.lsa.org/scholarship.

 

(Special thanks to Det. D. W. Seegers for the notice above.)





I don’t think I have ever seen as many potholes as are now in our Sabine Parish state highways. Take Hwy. 171 from here to Shreveport, for example. If there is one worse, it would have to be Hwy. 6 from Many to Natchitoches.





 






A friend brought by my office a very unusual item he found while digging in his yard recently. It is a beautiful cup, photos shown above, made of sterling silver. It shows some wear and tear but is still quite pretty, and it is easy to see it would have once been considered a fine item. The person who shared this unique piece lives between Many and Ft. Jesup, and that is where he found it.

 

The cup is about four inches tall and three inches in diameter at the top. It has a handle that appears to have been added later, as it does not meet the lip of the cup smoothly. There are 8.835 ounces of silver in the cup.

 

Engraved in elegant script across the front of the cup is the name “Frederick Charles Wegener.” Around the bottom of the cup is a piece containing some beautiful engraving.

 

Hallmarking is one of the oldest forms of consumer protection and dates back to the 1300s when King Edward the First instituted the testing and hallmarking of items made of silver and gold in England. The British Hallmarking Council, organized in 1973, provides guides to silver hallmarks, which we used to identify the cup markings. The Council relied on historical records to establish silver marks to verify the purity, town of origin and year produced.

 

This cup’s silver hallmarks are as follows: the first symbol is a lion passant which indicates the purity of the silver as sterling, .925. The next symbol is an anchor, which means the piece was assayed in Birmingham, England. The last symbol is a letter in a classic Old English font, which indicates the year it was made.

 

It is interesting to note each production span of 21 years would use the letters of the alphabet, “a” through “u,” in a certain style of font, so that every period of 21 years carried a different font style. The Birmingham silver hallmark has been in use since the latter 1700s until present.

 

The font style of the year the cup was produced looks to be 1830, as the letter hallmark seems to be an Old English font letter “G” capitalized, which corresponds to the font style used for pieces made during that year.

 

The handle, which would have allowed the user to fill the cup with hot liquids, appears to have been added later, perhaps when the name was engraved. A faint but neatly scratched engraving of “XVI,” Roman numerals for 16, above the hallmarks may indicate the handle and name were added in 1916.

 

If anyone has more information, please contact us. Seeing an old item like this is so interesting.

 



 


State Senator Alan Seabaugh, District 31, listens to a constituent's concerns, left, after speaking at a DeSoto Parish luncheon on Monday, right.

 

Senator Alan Seabaugh, District 31, spoke to members and guests of the DeSoto Parish Republican Party Executive Committee on Monday in Mansfield.

 

He shared about the upcoming special session starting next week, which will focus on crime, and he also addressed the vital need for a new climate in government.

 

“I will be carrying two of the [crime] bills,” Seabaugh shared. “One is an enhanced qualified immunity, which will help our law enforcement officers do their job without facing undue repercussions afterward. Basically, it says if someone is convicted of battery of an officer, resisting an officer, anything along that line, then they can’t later sue the officer for something they may have suffered as a result of the arrest.”

 

He said the other bill he is carrying has to do with transparency, noting that he is dedicated to making sure crime victims have access to information about when their perpetrator is going to come up for trial and other important dates.

 

“Clerks would make certain minute entries available to the public,” he said of the bill. “So, if you wanted to follow the prosecution of a certain person, you could go to the Clerk’s website and look at it.”

 

He shared that the task force studying crime discovered some of the problems in juvenile crime and juvenile incarceration were created by the legislature, and rectifying those issues is one goal of the special session.

 

“It was discovered some of the related bills that were passed are detrimental to law enforcement and detrimental to the state, and we will work to roll those back,” he said, noting that treating 17-year-old juvenile offenders as adults recently passed twice but the governor vetoed it each time.

 

“This governor is not going to veto it,” Seabaugh said. “That will be a big help to local sheriffs as they house offenders and manage other issues going forward.”

 

He then shifted to what he termed the “big picture,” sharing the importance of a new climate of government in Louisiana. He used the bureaucracy of the DOTD as a prime example:

 

“We must change the culture of government in Louisiana,” Seabaugh said. “I visited with a business owner last week who has had a project ready to go for five years. It’ll create a couple hundred jobs, and the only thing holding it up is the DOTD won’t approve the site plan, but they won’t tell him why. He has turned it in time after time, and they keep saying ‘no.’ He has asked for guidance so he can make whatever changes are needed, but they say, ‘No, we can’t do that.’ They don’t offer any guidance, and they keep telling him ‘no’ without offering any specifics, giving any help or telling him why. That’s not the way government is supposed to work. Government is supposed to be here to help Louisiana citizens, not hinder them.  …We need a culture of government in Louisiana that wants to say ‘yes,’ that wants to help us get to ‘yes’ instead of enjoying telling us ‘no.’”

 

He noted that conservative majorities in the state should set Louisiana up to move forward, “But what didn’t change,” the Senator continued, “was the bureaucracy, those mid-level bureaucrats who are part of the stagnation and one of the biggest inhibitors to economic growth. It is a big challenge to change this culture, but we can do it, and it is very important that we do it.”

 

Afterward, he stayed on to visit with constituents, hear concerns and answer questions.

 

The event was held at Billy B’s Cajun Grill in Mansfield, and the main dining room was filled with attendees. DeSoto Republican Party Executive Committee Vice-Chair Ashley Hadlin served as MC.


Senator Seabaugh was joined by other elected officials, including Senator Thomas Pressly, District 38, and Representative Larry Bagley, District 7, who both spoke as did a few others in attendance who hold or are seeking office.



 



Sales tax collections in Sabine Parish were down in January this year compared to January 2023, according to a report from Wanda Rivers, Sales Tax Collector/Administrator. Total taxes collected this January were $3,037,899.20, compared to $3,117,966.27 last year. This is a decrease of $80,269.07. Ten of the 13 taxing bodies in the parish showed a loss.




Northwestern State University in Natchitoches named 856 students to the Dean’s List for the Fall 2023 semester. Students much be enrolled full time and earn a grade point average between 3.5 and 3.99.

 

Area students on the list were: Drake Friday, Sarah Friday and Madison Wray of Converse; MaCayla Herrington, Gracie Rutherford, Abigail Thomas and Chrystell Thompson of Florien; Brayden Corley, Cody Jarrell, Logan Lawrence and Jessica Mendoza of Hornbeck; Morgan Mitchell and Abby Powell of Marthaville; and Rebecca Hardee and Selena Rodriguez of Noble.

 

Students from Many who were named on the list were Alizabeth Boyles, Shirley Cartinez, Roger Dew, Christopher Ezernack, Lexi Ezernack, Kristen Hammontree, Kaitllyn Johnson, Kaylie Spears, Masen Starks, Hilary Williams, Emma Wilson and Alaina Wright.

 

Others named were: Mica Armstrong, Ty Russell and Celeste Waddle of Pleasant Hill; and from Zwolle, Cheyenne Calhoun, Collyn Crow, Erin Escott, Christopher Faircloth, Madilyn Laroux, Sarah Lewing, Landon Malmay, Hailee Meshell, Zachary Remedies and Katelyn Rivers.



 

Northwestern named 552 students to the President’s List for the 2023 Fall semester. Such students must be enrolled full-time and have a grade point average of 4.0.

 

Area students include: Lindsey Alligood, Mallory Cooley, Miranda Dougherty, Landen Jett and Sarah Stokes of Anacoco; Willis Gregston of Converse; Leighton Anderson and Bailey Sandel of Florien; Sarah McDaniel, Adam Rhodes, Peighton Rhodes and Kristen Townsend of Hornbeck; and Zachary Slaughter of

Marthaville.

 

From Many: Nancy Bolton, Haley Broxson, Alexis Bush, Shania Collier, Presley Corley, Greert Kor, Sarah Moore, Ethan Penfield, Adelaide Soileau and Olivia Williams.

 

Also: Reagan Johnson and Katie Murray of Pleasant Hill; Stevie Carter of Robeline; and Nahliyah Boykins, Jaeger Ebarb, Madasyn Ebarb, Autumn Palmer and Victoria Sepulvado, all of Zwolle.

 

(Thanks to David West of the NSU News Bureau for providing this information.)

 




Senator Alan Seabaugh is settling into his new District 31 office in Many just a half-block from the courthouse. He also has offices in Shreveport and Natchitoches but counts the local office as his main headquarters. It is the first time a State Senator has chosen Many to locate a district office.

Senator Alan Seabaugh has been in Sabine and thereabouts as of late, and we are glad to see it.

He was a featured speaker at a March to Life event held on the Natchitoches Riverbank on Feb. 2, and he and wife Laura attended the “Best of Natchitoches” awards luncheon held by the Natchitoches Chamber of Commerce on Feb. 7. Incidentally, a close relative of his, Leigh Lambert, co-owner of the popular Magnolia Spa Wellness & Boutique, was voted “Best of Retail” and awarded at the celebration.  

On Monday, Feb. 12, Senator Seabaugh spoke at a gathering in Mansfield where he outlined issues coming up during the next Special Session in Baton Rouge to be held Feb. 19 - March 6, which is detailed elsewhere in this week’s column. 

He also visited Many this week to see the work in progress at his new District 31 headquarters on Capitol Street. He was pleased and said he is looking forward to the March 7 ribbon-cutting to celebrate his membership in the Sabine Chamber of Commerce.

Considering the Senator has already attended the first Special Session and is about to head south for another one before the Regular Session starts on March 11, we would say he is making the most of his spare time continuing to connect with folks from across the district, which takes in all of Sabine and Red River Parishes and includes parts of Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, DeSoto, Natchitoches, Rapides, Webster and Winn Parishes.

Every day is jam-packed with commitments to constituents and organizations, and to top it all off, Alan and wife Laura proudly welcomed a brand-new granddaughter, Mary-Thomas, born on Jan. 31. Congratulations to them and their family on this precious new arrival.




Greg Burke spoke to the Vultures Club in Many on Tuesday, Feb. 5.  He represented the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Foundation, which currently has a membership drive in progress. The Sports Hall of Fame is located in Natchitoches, and Burke is the retired Athletic Director at Northwestern. Shown listening to the speaker, left to right, are Dale Skinner, Buddy Wood, Hall Adams and Lewis McBryde. Persons interesting in joining the Foundation should email LaSportsHall.com/JoinTheTeam.



 

We Get Letters:  One from our good friend Ronny Byrd in South Boston, VA, follows.

 

“Regarding Ted 'Bussey' Mims’ comment about mayors not dueling, only the mode has changed. While in the distant past folks dueled first with swords and later with pistols. Today, dueling is mostly via emails and social media. I’m not sure that’s an improvement. At least in those old days there was generally a clear winner and an obvious loser. Now, we’re left wondering…”



 



Sunday about 11 a.m. we got some big hail in Many. It lasted a very short time, maybe three minutes, but really came down with a bang while it fell.



 



We want to recognize Larry Alford, a real patriot, who erected a new flagpole at the Sabine Parish Fair Grounds. He had some help from the Town of Many work crew. We love our country as do most people in Sabineland. And we are still glad to honor our good flag, unlike some of the liberal Democrats who treat it and promote it as a symbol of oppression. It is a shame and disgrace where that group is taking us.




We saw this squirrel on top of a power pole at the back of the radio station last week. It stayed up there for a long time, but we could never figure out what it was doing - maybe just taking a look at our little town from above.



 

We noticed such a neighborly, thoughtful thing on Facebook during the recent, bitter cold snap.

 

Dustin Varner wrote the following: “If anybody needs help today getting ready for this winter storm, feel free to send me a message. My wife and I wouldn’t mind helping out with anything you might need. Not here to make a million dollars. If you need help and don’t have a dime, shoot me a message anyway. God bless.”



 

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: “If God could close the lion’s mouth for Daniel, part the Red Sea for Moses, make the sun stand still for Joshua, open the prison for Peter, put a baby in Sarah’s arms and raise Lazarus from the dead, then He can certainly take care of you. Have faith in Him.”


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