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Wednesday, February 7, 2024

The story in Observations last week about former Mayor Ken Freeman vs. Mayor Robert Hable and First Lady Crystal Hable got a lot of attention.

On Friday, ex-Mayor Freeman, issued the following notice on his Facebook page:  “After reading Observations, and giving it some thought, I am embarrassed over how I allowed my disappointment and hurt feelings to cause me not to think and act reasonably.  I have learned a lesson, when disappointed or hurt, say nothing or do anything until reason prevails.”

We asked Ken if he wanted to issue a statement to Observations and he said, “Just let it drop.”

And in a final note on the matter, on Monday evening, Ken posted on social media:  “Just want to make it very clear, I am NOT going to run for Mayor of Many.”

We get letters:  This one from Sabine native Dr. Ted “Bussey” Mims, retired from University of Illinois at Springfield, IL.:  “Thankfully, no one mentioned the possibility of dueling to settle the political disagreements in Many.  I was [also] glad to see no one mentioned a cat fight.  That terminology caused a stink before.”

Now you see it, now you don't... The special reserved parking spot in front of the Many Post Office is now open again to patrons.

We understand that Many Postmaster Lisa Crockett has departed this place and is now working in Robeline.  She has been here since April 2022.

One thing she did during her time here that irritated several people, was to mark off a private parking place for herself in the front lot of the Post Office.  A lot of folks felt that spot should have been left for handicapped and elderly folks to use. The matter was called to her attention in Observations many months ago, but she continued to park there. It was shared with us by concerned citizens at the time, that there are a lot of employee parking spaces on the side and to the rear of the Post Office.

As soon as she was gone, her special “Postmaster Parking Only” sign came down.

Many Chief of Police Cheryl Wooley is asking the public’s help in providing information after the body of Steven Lilly was found in a well at 410 Washington St. in Many on Friday, Feb. 2.

Anyone with information concerning his whereabouts from Jan. 27 - Feb. 2 should contact the Many Police.  All information will be kept confidential.  There is a reward for verifiable information.  Their phone number is (318) 256-5617.

Steven’s brother, Robert Lilly, reported him missing.  No further information is available at this time.

Sabine Parish Superintendent of School Shane Wright is pleased to announce Sabine Parish Principal and Teachers of the Year.


Principal of the Year

Donya Tatum, Principal of the Year

Mrs. Donya Tatum is the principal of Ebarb School (Grades PK-12) in Noble, LA. Mrs. Tatum acquired her Bachelor of Arts in General Studies and Master's Degree in Educational Leadership from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, LA.

She began her educational career as a substitute teacher in Sabine Parish while in college. Mrs. Tatum taught high school English for twelve years in Sabine Parish and three years in Spring Branch ISD in Houston, TX. She took on the role of graduation coach at Ebarb School in 2019 and was promoted to assistant principal the following school year. After serving as assistant principal for one and a half years, Mrs. Tatum was chosen to serve the Ebarb community as the principal of Ebarb School. She has served the community and Sabine Parish in this capacity since January 2022.

She is a member of the Louisiana Association of Computer Using Educators, the Louisiana Association of Educators, and Delta Kappa Gamma. Mrs. Tatum has been an instructional leader for the majority of her career in education. She has served in numerous extracurricular capacities and as a school technology coordinator. She has presented multiple professional development sessions relating to the use of technology in the classroom and instructional strategies throughout her career.

Mrs. Tatum continues to seek opportunities to build her knowledge of instructional practices that promote student success and bridge achievement gaps. She is a Louisiana native and believes we build a better Sabine Parish and Louisiana one student at a time.

Elementary Teacher of the Year

Mary Merritt, Elementary Teacher of the Year

Mary Merritt is a teacher from Negreet Elementary School. She grew up in a loving family of six, which included a life full of love and laughter. Mrs. Merritt has attended many schools and lived in several different places. Ten years ago, she married her husband and moved to Sabine Parish. It quickly became her forever home, where she proudly raised her son. Mrs. Merritt graduated from Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches, and this is her thirteenth year teaching.

She taught first grade for one year, kindergarten for eight years, and second grade for four years. Teaching is a huge part of her life, and seeing her students grow has given her great joy. Her biggest goal as an educator is to build strong and trusting relationships with students. She states, “If children know you care and that they are loved, they can move mountains. Every child has the ability to learn, and it is my job to set individual goals for my students. This provides motivation that will help them thrive as learners. I hope to instill a love for learning that will help my students be successful in their future endeavors.”

Middle School Teacher of the Year

Angela Knight, Middle School Teacher of the Year

Mrs. Angela Knight is a seventh-grade mathematics teacher at Zwolle High School. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Education, majoring in Early Childhood/Elementary Education from Arkansas State University. Mrs. Knight’s core belief is “To educate the whole child in an environment that supports all students’ learning abilities, and that each child is capable of great things and must access those capabilities through independence and learning.” Since beginning her teaching career in Sabine Parish, she has had the opportunity to continue to learn and grow as an educator by participating in the Mentor Teacher and Content Leader training. While teaching in Sabine Parish, Mrs. Knight has been named Teacher of the Year for elementary and junior high, served as the Lead Math teacher, sponsor of Senior and Junior High Quiz Bowl teams, sponsor of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Student Council co-sponsor, and served as an on-going member of the schools’ Positive Behavior Incentive System (PBIS) teams. Mrs. Knight brings rich experiences of teaching in multiple districts, schools, and grade levels, which allows her to understand the needs of her students better as they progress through their education. She aspires for excellence in all she pursues and would love nothing more than to spend her career working closely with her students and colleagues to strengthen mathematical and academic excellence.

High School Teacher of the Year

Peyton Arthur, High School Teacher of the Year

Peyton Arthur is a biology, chemistry, and physical science teacher at Zwolle High School in Zwolle, LA. He is in his second year at Zwolle High School after beginning his career teaching agriscience at Winnfield Senior High School. Mr. Arthur earned a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Extension Education from Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge in 2019 and is pursuing a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

He uses an experiential-based curriculum in his classroom regardless of the teaching subject. He believes this approach to education cultivates student learning by meeting the students where they are and building on prior knowledge. One of his primary philosophical principles is that highly engaged learning happens when an educator meets the students at their current level. When students are highly involved in learning, their learning potential becomes infinite.

In addition to teaching, Mr. Arthur serves Zwolle students in other ways as a junior class sponsor, the dual enrollment supervising teacher, a member of the school's Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) committee, a 4-H Club sponsor, and the assistant girls’ basketball coach. In his experience, students are more likely to excel academically when their teachers support them in the classroom and in extracurricular activities.

Troy Welch, center, welcomes Sabine Assessor Chris Tidwell, left, and Clerk of Court Shelly Salter, right, to the One-Year Anniversary of Troy's Butcher Shop in Many.

Assessor Chris Tidwell and Clerk of Court Shelly Salter stopped to admire the wonderful new Art by Anne B that now decorates the windows of Troy's Butcher Shop.

Troy’s Butcher Shop in Many celebrated a big One-Year Anniversary last week and was it a good one!

“Wow what a year!” owner Troy Welch remarked on social media later. “Thank you to everyone who came out to help us celebrate our one-year anniversary! We want to give a huge shoutout to Big Meaux’s Bayou BBQ for cooking up the sliders for our wonderful customers, Brookshire Brothers deli for the yummy fruit trays, Unbelievable Treats for the mouth-watering cookies, Arched by Allison for the wonderful balloon decorations, the Town of Many, Foy's, Sabine Parish Chamber of Commerce, Art by Anne Boyens, Mayor Robert Hable and Mrs. Crystal Goodman Hable, Chief Cheryl Wooley, Bradley Ford with BDC radio, Charlene with Coke for our awesome giveaways, and so many more!!”

The event not only showcased all of Troy’s great meats, ready-to-cook items, sauces and produce, but a star of the day was his great, newly painted store windows, artfully designed by Anne Boyens to display a lot of the delicious options found inside. The windows show off several items and from the outside, a person would think he was in some far-off place like Spain, where the actual products are displayed window style. 

After their big day, Troy also thanked his hardworking staff and faithful customers, “…to each and every customer that walks through those doors, orders online or calls us, we would not be here today without every single one of you! We could never thank you enough for your support! We love you all!” he said.

Dutch Traveler Visits Zwolle

by Cody Bruce

From left are two Town of Zwolle office employees, Heather Cetina and Tantaneke “Tan” Courtney, Netherlands visitor Dominique Voss and Zwolle native Mary Lucille “Betty” Rivers.

Imagine checking the weather for your hometown and seeing a forecast for a completely different place, thousands of miles away. That’s what happened to Dominique Voss from Zwolle, Netherlands, on a rainy afternoon last year. Intrigued, she discovered the American town of Zwolle, Louisiana, named after her own. This sparked a journey across the United States to explore the roots of Dutch people in America, culminating in a visit to her namesake town on December 20, 2023.

Voss is recording a podcast and considering writing a book about her travels. Zwolle, Louisiana, held a special significance, marking a full-circle moment in her exploration. Warmly welcomed by locals Mary Lucille “Betty” Rivers, Martha R. Henderson, and Connie Henderson-Strahan, Voss immersed herself in the town’s heritage. They guided her through landmarks like St. Joseph Catholic Church, Toledo Bend Lake and the old train depot, now being transformed into a museum chronicling Zwolle’s history.

Another "Zwolle," a Dutch namesake halfway around the world, drew Dominique Voss of Zwolle, Netherlands, shown above, to visit Louisiana.

Her journey serves as a reminder of the unexpected threads that bind people and places together, even across vast distances. It’s a testament to the enduring legacy of Dutch influence in America, waiting to be discovered by curious minds like Dominique Voss.                           

Hundreds of Sabine 8th-graders enjoyed a field trip to Toledo Bend Lake during the recent Major League Fishing event.

Education Day at Cypress Bend Park on Feb. 2 was a big success with 260 8th Grade students from Sabine Parish schools attending. The Sabine Parish Tourist Commission (SPTC) hosted the event in an effort to engage the community with the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour on Toledo Bend.

The idea to host this special event was inspired by festivals in the area that also hold an Education Day. The SPTC team felt that having these professional anglers competing on Toledo Bend was a perfect opportunity to engage the youth of the community and educate them on the sport of bass fishing and the history of Toledo Bend Lake.

Meredith Matt, a former college intern and now part-time SPTC employee, led the efforts in coordinating the event from start to finish. Matt developed a schedule of the day where students rotated through eight different stations to learn about various topics including the history of Toledo Bend, lake ecology, casting techniques, fish identification, boat safety, diving, and general safety.

This event was enthusiastically supported by the community and the MLF organization.

Volunteers from the area gave their time to be presenters at each of the stations, as well as helping the event run smoothly. Tasty Treats on the Bend donated ice cream for everyone that was thoroughly enjoyed. MLF pro anglers Justin Cooper, Cliff Crochet and Ott Defoe supported the event on their “off day” of the tournament to interact with the students and help make it memorable.

The SPTC extends special thanks to the Toledo Bend Lake Association, Sabine Council on Aging, Toledo Bend Resort Ministries, Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, West Louisiana Scuba, Living the Dream Guide Service, Hunter Lewing, Desoto Parish Tourist Commission, all local volunteers, and the MLF organization for their significant efforts as well.

For more information on the events that surrounded the MLF Bass Pro Tour on Toledo Bend and the Sabine Parish Tourist Commission’s upcoming events, please visit


(A big thank you to Sabine Tourist Commission Marketing Director Kelsi Horn for the above article.)                         

We dubbed retired Judge George Metoyer of Rapides Parish "Mr. Bubbles." He kept the street filled with bubbles before the Cloutierville Mardi Gras Parade started on Sunday.

The Mardi Gras Parade in Cloutierville did it up big, even though they had to wait a day. The popular downtown event was scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 3, but due to the expected rain, they decided to shift it to Sunday, Feb. 4, which turned out to be a great move.

Mr. and Mrs. Observations returned to my roots (all my mother’s people were from Cloutierville), and we had a wonderful time celebrating Mardi Gras there.

We found a good viewing spot and struck up a conversation with a festively dressed gentleman with a bottle of bubbles. Turns out he had both kinds. Anyway, he kept the street filled with bubbles, and when we introduced ourselves, we learned he was retired Judge George Metoyer of Rapides Parish. 

We enjoyed seeing the "big buggy" owned by Kevin Kelley and Ramona Guin of Natchitoches. It was Mardi Gras ready and had the best throws of the day.

It was a great parade with lots of good floats and throws, and it included a large group of horse and rider entries as well. The horses really put on a show with their parade gaits.

We loved seeing the “big buggy” roll by owned by Kevin Kelley and Ramona Guin of Natchitoches. Kevin was in the driver’s seat, and he, Ramona and friends had the best throws in the parade.

Cloutierville was once a vibrant little town with a main street lined with beautiful frame homes. That is how I remember it from my youth. Today, only a few nice homes remain and each time we visit, it has died a little more since the last time.

It was a treat to see the tiny town packed once again, filled with parade-goers, and it was a pleasure to experience all the joy and fun everyone was having.  

The Sabine Parish Tourist and Recreation Commission was named winner of the “Outstanding Convention and Visitors Bureau/Tourist Commission of the Year” Award during The Louisiana Travel Association (LTA)’s annual meeting on Jan. 16 in New Orleans. It won over all other Convention Visitor Bureaus in the $500,000-$999,999 budget range.

“We are thrilled to be a winner of the ‘Outstanding CVB of the Year’ Award from the Louisiana Travel Association,” said Georgia Craven, Executive Director of the Sabine Parish Tourist Commission. “We look forward to continuing to showcase Toledo Bend Lake Country and our great Louisiana culture to the rest of the world.”

Other groups, individuals and events receiving LTA “Louey Awards” were West Feliciana Parish Tourist Commission, Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission, Visit Shreveport-Bossier, 318 Restaurant Week, Visit Lake Charles – Louisiana Food & Wine Festival, Biedenharn Museum, Paragon Casino Resort, The St. Francisville Inn, Visit Baton Rouge – U.S. Youth Soccer Southern Regional Championships, restaurateur Liz Munson and Chef Damien “Chapeaux” Chapman. Also honored were Donna O’Daniels, Ashley & James Fox-Smith, Country Roads Magazine, Erica Glory, Arlene Gould and Carla Tate.

The Louisiana Travel Association is a trade association committed to strengthening Louisiana’s tourism industry, which generated $1.9 billion for the state in 2022. Tourism-related jobs are Louisiana’s 4th highest source of employment.

Congratulations to the Sabine Parish Tourist Commission on this award, and a special thank you to Marketing Director Kelsi Horn for the article above.                       

On Tuesday, Sheriff Aaron Mitchell announced the felony narcotic and firearm arrests for the month of January 2024.

Arrested were:

Hoy Joseph Ritter Jr., age 43, of Many - Warrants for:  Possession of firearm by person convicted of certain felonies, Theft of a firearm, Theft of a motor vehicle and Simple Burglary.

Total bonds were set at $30,000, and he remains in jail.

Cedric Lamont Williams, age 39, of Many - Possession of schedule II (Meth) and Warrant for Domestic abuse battery (strangulation).

Total bonds were set at $7,500, and he bonded.

Shannon Lewis Springer, age 51, of Converse - Possession of schedule II (Hydrocodone) and No vehicle insurance.

Bond was set at $2,500, and he bonded.

Lester Lavan Thomas, age 64, of Many - Warrant for:  three counts of Distribution of schedule II (Meth) and Distribution of schedule II (Crack Cocaine).

He bonded.

Jecolby Jevar Cade, age 21, of Many - Warrants for:  Illegal possession of stolen firearms, Criminal conspiracy to introduce contraband into penal institution, Attempted possession of schedule I (Marijuana) and Attempted possession of schedule II (Meth).

Total bonds were set at $28,000, and he bonded.

Justin Devon Holden, age 33, of Many - Warrants for:  Criminal conspiracy to introduce contraband into penal institution, Criminal conspiracy to distribute schedule I (Marijuana) and Criminal conspiracy to distribute schedule II (Meth).

Bond was set at $2,500, and he remains in jail.

Raeneta K Franklin, age 31, of Zwolle - Warrant for Criminal conspiracy to introduce contraband into penal institution.

Bond was set at $5,000, and she bonded.

Jarvis T. Sheppard, age 39, of Haughton - Possession of schedule II (Meth) and Possession of drug paraphernalia.

Bond was set at $800 cash, and he remains in jail.

Justin Bush, age 33, of Anacoco - Possession of schedule II (Meth), Possession of drug paraphernalia and Operating a motor vehicle while license suspended.

Bond was set at $3,250, and he remains in jail.

Harvey Derail White Jr., age 60, of Florien - Possession with intent to distribute schedule I (Marijuana), Possession of drug paraphernalia, No seatbelt and Failure to signal.

Bond was set at $5,000, and he bonded.

Chelsea Caitlin Buster, age 35, of Zwolle - Warrant for Criminal conspiracy to distribute schedule II (Meth).

Bond was set at $25,000, and she remains in jail.

Freddie Shawn Terrell, age 43, of Pleasant Hill - Possession of schedule II (Meth), Possession of drug paraphernalia, Possession of firearm in presence of CDS, Possession of firearm by person convicted of certain felonies, Aggravated flight from an officer, Operating motor vehicle while license suspended, General speed law 78/35, Speeding 70/55, Failure to stop at stop sign, Driving left of center and Warrant for 10 counts of Possession of firearm by person convicted of certain felonies.

Total bonds set so far is $138,400, and he remains in jail.

Joseph Lewis Lynch, age 45, of Converse - Warrants for:  Criminal conspiracy to distribute schedule II (Meth) and two counts of Failure to register (sex offender).

Total bonds were set at $50,000, and he remains in jail.

Britney Procell, age 40, of Pleasant Hill - Possession of schedule II (Meth) and Possession of drug paraphernalia.

Bond was set at $2,500, and she bonded.

Ariel Welch, age 21, of Pleasant Hill - Possession of schedule II (Meth), Possession of drug paraphernalia and Possession of firearm in presence of CDS.

Bond was set at $5,000, and she bonded.

Matthew Lee Holmes, age 31, of Many – Possession of schedule II (Meth), Possession of drug paraphernalia and Violation of protective order.

Bond was set at $5,000, and he remains in jail.

Derrick T. Holden, age 33, of Many - Possession of schedule I (Synthetic Cannabinoids).

Bond was set at $100, and he remains in jail. 

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

[NOTE: Bond amounts are based on several factors, including type of arrest, the defendant’s criminal background and the likelihood of flight before trial. The bond amount is not a punishment, but an amount to make sure the defendant appears in court for the criminal proceedings. Generally, the higher the risk of non-appearance before the court, the higher the bond.] 

Several persons from this area were named to the Fall 2023 Honor List at Northwestern.  To make the roll, students must be enrolled full-time and have a grade point average between 3.0 and 3.49.

Those named were Ian Gentry of Belmont, Kolby Rigsby of Converse, Taylor Cavalier , Alivia Ellzey and Kelli Mendoza of Hornbeck and Averie Meshell and Harleigh Schexneider of Noble.

From Zwolle: Davin Adams, Zachariah Carroll, Hannah Esthay, Camden Howard, Gracie Leone, Nyaishya Lilly, Kade Meshell, Alexis Sepulvado, Infinity Sepulvado, Maurisha Shelby and Roselieta Smith.

From Many:  Kaiya Causey, Lila Laroux, Joseph Laughlin, Haylei Miller, Emma Peace, Christin Rivers and Drik Sandel.

From Florien:  Alexis Brooks, Skye Buentello, Brenden Ford, Cesaleigh Hall, Makenna Landry, Shaelon Miller, Eric Rutherford and Kagan Sandel.

This cement truck overturned while turning off Hwy. 171 in Many onto Hwy. 175.  The accident happened on Tuesday morning at about 9.  No further details were available as Observations was posted.

Joe and Rita DeBose have sold Country Boy Restaurant after 41 years in business off Fisher Road in Many.  The new owners are Chris and Julie Henley.

Sabine Monument Co. on Hwy. 171 Bypass is another longtime local business which has recently sold. Phillip and Nancy Lambert sold the company effective Feb. 5. They have operated the business for 47 years.  The new owner is Martus Stone of Elkhart, TX, and Paul Cheatham will be working there.

Patrick Paint Co. is celebrating 47 years in business this year.  The business was started by Tom Patrick and is now operated by his son, James Patrick, but Tom is still very involved in the firm.

Dr. R. Michael Warren has closed his dental office on San Antonio.  A note on the door reads:  “Office Closed.  All patients will be seen at Leah V. Byles.”  Magnolia Key Real Estate has the office building for sale at $329,000.



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