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Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Sabine Parish Sheriff Aaron Mitchell, right, is administered the oath of office for his second term by Sabine Clerk of Court Shelly Salter.

Chief Deputy Walker, center, is shown being sworn in by Clerk of Court Salter as Sheriff Mitchell and Detention Center Receptionist Edwina Thomas look on.

Rev. Wayne Chance opened the ceremony with prayer and remarks lauding law enforcement officers.  That’s Clerk of Court Salter in the background.

Sabine Sheriff’s Deputies were administered their oath of office on the front steps of the courthouse.  Clerk of Court Shelly Salter did the honors.

Laurie Gentry, center left, served as Mistress of Ceremonies for the event and also sang the National Anthem. 

State Sen. Alan Seabaugh pledged his full support to law enforcement while speaking at the ceremony.  At left is Clerk of Court Salter and at right is Sheriff Mitchell and DC Receptionist Edwina Thomas.

Sheriff Mitchell delivered a powerful speech, short and to the point, at his inauguration for a second term.

The benediction was voiced by Detective Lamar Thomas. Looking on are Clerk of Court Salter, Sheriff Mitchell, Chief Walker and Thomas’ wife, Edwina, at right.

Sabine Sheriff Aaron Mitchell and his right-hand man Chief Deputy Brad Walker took the oath of office for their second term Monday, July 1, at 10 a.m. on the steps of the Sabine Parish Courthouse.  A nice crowd turned out as Clerk of Court Shelly Salter did the honors.  In addition, all deputies were also sworn in.

Sheriff Mitchell’s speech was so good and compelling, that we share it below in its entirety:

“I’m honored to be your sheriff.  I don’t take this lightly, as I understand how much trust the people of Sabine Parish have put in me.

“As your sheriff I promise to work tirelessly to keep everyone in Sabine Parish safe and well.  As a law enforcement officer, it’s my duty to enforce the law.  The goal of my job is to prevent and investigate crimes, as well as apprehend those who commit crime.

“It’s important for law enforcement to work with the community, local businesses and government agencies.

“Together we can create a safer community.

“All people regardless of their background or circumstances, should be treated with dignity and respect.  It is my belief that everyone deserves a fair and just system.  Regardless of race or gender, I’ll protect and uphold the rights of everyone. 

"Trust between the Sheriff’s Office and its citizens depends on transparency and accountability.  My goal is to keep you informed about the Sheriff’s Office’s operations.  I’ll also make all my deputies follow the highest standards of conduct.  And I will investigate any allegations of misconduct.

“The Sheriff’s Office is here for you.  Again, I’m honored to be your Sheriff.  I promise to protect and serve Sabine Parish’s citizens with dedication, professionalism, integrity and passion.  Together we can build a safe, prosperous community.”

State Sen. Alan Seabaugh was also a speaker on the program. In his remarks, he commented about Sheriff Mitchell’s passion for law enforcement and the people of the parish.  The Senator said he was looking forward to a close working relationship with Sabine law enforcement.

Laurie Gentry served as Mistress of Ceremonies for the event. The Rev. Wayne Chance offered the invocation to begin the ceremony and shared very fitting remarks about the wonderful and demanding job that folks in law enforcement are called upon to do. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Detective Andrew James, and emcee Laurie Gentry sang the National Anthem. The benediction was given by Detective Lamar Thomas, and he also shared words of praise for Sheriff Mitchell and members of the law enforcement community.

Among public officials recognized were State Rep. Rodney Schamerhorn, District Attorney Don Burkett, Judge Verity Gentry, Many Chief of Police Cheryl Wooley, Zwolle Chief of Police Daniel Thomas, Clerk of Court Shelly Salter, Assessor Chris Tidwell and others.

Sabine Parish Clerk of Court Shelly Salter, above left, was sworn in for her second term late last week by Judge Verity Gentry, right. The two enjoyed visiting a few minutes before her swearing in and after, shown below.

Sabine Parish Clerk of Court Shelly Salter was sworn in Friday, June 28, shortly before 9 a.m. in the main Sabine Parish courtroom by Judge Verity Gentry. The Clerk was joined by Mr. Heath Matherne.

As she took the oath of office for her second term, Clerk Salter recalled being sworn in the first time, and the unbelievable year to follow that she and her office experienced.

“It was during the pandemic,” Salter recalled, “and after the election, I had expected [former Clerk] Tammy Foster to stay on until July 1 as I learned her duties more fully. But after one week, she said she was leaving early, and I was on my own. The first time I was sworn in, I quickly ran upstairs, Judge Beasley swore me in, I hurried back downstairs to swear in the entire Sheriff’s Department on the front steps of the courthouse, and then went right back to work!”

The next several months were baptism by immersion as the new Clerk of Court worked hard to find a new Civil Deputy (Shelly’s old job), which saw about 8-10 potential candidates come and go.

Due to COVID-19, then-Judge Stephen Beasley issued an order the courthouse close at 1:30 p.m. each day. Rather than the shorter workday resulting in less work to do, the Clerk of Court’s office actually had to do much more work to complete in fewer hours as normal judicial processes shifted to Zoom and other electronic methods, dates changed, and all of the related records, notifications, and other work of her office had to be redone, often on the fly.

Due to the pandemic, the Secretary of State also rescheduled a March election to July. In addition to learning the landscape of her new routine duties, Salter faced her first election, and many precincts had no air conditioning.

“They sent us fans for the precincts that didn’t have air, and I had to deliver them to all the different precincts the day before the election,” Clerk Salter shared.

As if that were not enough, Sabine Parish was hit by Hurricanes Laura and Delta in August and October. Soon after, the Clerk’s Office realized the full brunt of the storms’ impact. In the fall, Salter visited records storage to retrieve an item, and after removing tightly packed records from a top shelf, she realized about 300 records were wet from an undiscovered leak caused by the hurricanes.

“We had 300 records spread out in the basement with fans drying them,” Salter remembered.

About four months ago following a successful new hire, Clerk Salter was finally able to fully step away from Civil Department duties and devote her complete attention to serving as Clerk.

“Now, I can just be the Clerk, perform the specific responsibilities of the Clerk, and have time to look around and see what else I can do to streamline processes, upgrade services, and find better ways to serve the public,” Salter said with a big smile.

She is very proud that her Clerk of Court office staff maintain “old school” service. When someone visits the Clerk’s Office, they are greeted with a smile and friendly offer of help. When people call, a real person answers, not an electronic receptionist.

The unique challenges Clerk Salter faced in her first year alone prepared her well for a successful first term, and the next four years look bright. Observations sends Clerk of Court Shelly Salter best wishes for a productive, effective second term in office.

As she holds up nine fingers - one for each decade, Ms. Nell Britner can still work rings around people half her age.

Nell Britner was honored on her 90th birthday Friday, June 28, by her boss, Pete Abington. A group of family and friends gathered at his office at noon to honor Mrs. Britner.

Nell spent her early years in Shreveport where she was regarded as one of the most outstanding legal secretaries in the city. She was named Secretary of the Year in Shreveport and also Secretary of the Year for the entire state of Louisiana.

Moving to Sabine Parish, the family operated a restaurant on the Texas side of Toledo Bend for a while. Later, she went to work for Peoples State Bank. She was hired by Pete and has kept him in line for years. Nell has also been outstanding as secretary of the Sabine Hall of Fame since its inception.

Happy Birthday wishes to Nell, and we hope she will have many more.

The Salters, Joe and Bettye, will mark 59 years of wedded bliss on Wednesday, July 3.

Sending Congratulations to Joe and Bettye Salter down in Baton Rouge who will celebrate their 59th Wedding Anniversary on Wednesday, July 3.  Joe is a retired educator and was serving as State Representative when Gov. Kathleen Blanco named him Speaker of the House.  In addition, Joe recently retired as Assistant Secretary of State, and at one time he worked for the State Department of Education. The Salters are natives of Florien.

Happy 4th of July! As we celebrate the birth of our nation, may we also take a moment to reflect on the blessings of freedom and responsibilities that come with it. May God bless you and your families with safety, joy and a wonderful sense of unity. Enjoy this special holiday with gratitude and love. God bless America!

Buddy and Carla Wood are shown at the recent Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Banquet in Natchitoches on June 22.  Buddy is the State Farm Insurance Agent in Many, and State Farm was a major sponsor of the event.  Buddy has been supportive of the Sports Hall of Fame since its beginning.

The Vultures Club had a wonderful fish fry Tuesday, July 2, at Pete Abington’s Office in Many. A full house turned out for the much-anticipated event. Don Cooper, third from left, and Travis Bennett, at right, prepared the food and received many compliments. Sheriff Aaron Mitchel, shown at left, turned out to be sure the boys did it right, and Tommy Joe Andries, second from left, helped his friend, Travis.


I have for sale this beautiful, old antique “Sweet Home” model organ, shown in an 1895 vintage catalog advertisement, constructed of hand finished, solid black walnut from the Cornish American Pianos and Organs Company in Washington, New Jersey. 

It is in good condition and still works with 122 orchestral reeds, 12 stops, and a sheet music “desk” with beveled French plate mirror above. About 130 years ago, it sold wholesale from Cornish for $39, regularly priced at $65 to $85. It is a beautiful piece of musical history and still plays. If you are interested, please give me a call at (318) 332-8653.

Miss Northwestern Lady of the Bracelet Madison Simms, right, recently helped welcome LSU Women's Basketball Head Coach Kim Mulkey, left, to the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame induction banquet held on June 22. Below, Miss Simms is shown the night she was crowned.

Miss Northwestern Lady of the Bracelet is a longstanding tradition that continues today.

Madison Simms is the 66th young woman to so gracefully wear that special bracelet. Miss Simms is a native of Natchitoches, and she is very proud of the town where she was born and raised. She is a graduate of Natchitoches Central High School and currently attends Northwestern State University. She is a member of the Purple Jackets, Phi Mu Kappa Iota, Blue Key Honor Society and many other clubs and organizations. 

Miss Simms recently graced the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame with her presence at the 2024 induction ceremony. She met several influential people such as Senator Alan Seabaugh and LSU’s head women's basketball coach, Kim Mulkey. An inductee, Seimone Augustus, was her dance partner Friday night as they joined Johnny Earthquake and the Moondogs on stage. 

One of her many passions is spreading awareness on why reading is so important for children, an initiative she calls “Reading to Dream.” She has made several visits to elementary schools in the area and the Child Development Center where she gets the opportunity to read to as many children as she can. Combining her love for children and community service, she partnered with NSU E-Lab for the “First Peas to The Table” contest where students were able to plant their own peas and learn the importance of literacy. 

Madison Simms has enjoyed a lot of fulfilling experiences as Miss Northwestern Lady of the Bracelet. She has been able to promote childhood literacy and inspire young and old alike to follow their passions.

Miss Simms received the Glenda Moss Passion for Dance Scholarship at the 2024 Miss Louisiana Pageant. She has been dancing for more than 20 years and is an alum of the NSU Demon Dazzlers. This experience shined as she performed a beautiful routine for the talent portion of the competition, which earned her the scholarship. 

This September, a new woman will be crowned and serve as Miss Northwestern Lady of the Bracelet, but Miss Simms has reigned with such class and charm that it may be hard to match. For now, she is soaking up the last months of holding this precious title, eager to see who will hold it next.

(Special thanks to Observations Intern Lauren Ray for the above report and photos.)

Sabine Community Connection Cuts Ribbon on Youth Services Center Additions

Cutting the ribbon on a new playground set, shown below, and a beautiful, new restroom structure at Sabine Community Connection were Zwolle Mayor Marvin Frazier, shown center left, and Council Members, left to right, Harry Babers, James Hubbard, Jane Rivers, Sandra Newton, Town Clerk Ashley Garcie, and others.

The Sabine Community Connection in Zwolle cut the ribbon Tuesday morning on a brand-new playground section and new outdoor restrooms, areas adjacent to their youth services center at 1765 Lilac St.

On hand for the event were Zwolle Mayor Marvin Frazier and Council Members Harry Babers, James Hubbard, Sandra Newton, Jane Rivers, and Town Clerk Ashley Garcie.

Also joining the celebration were Sabine Clerk of Court Shelly Salter, Assessor Chris Tidwell, Sabine Chamber Director Shanna Gaspard and Chamber Past President Pollie Brandon, as well as Laurie Gentry from State Sen. Alan Seabaugh’s office, among others.

What started as a big dream and the removal of trash from an empty lot some 15 years ago is now a youth services center for all kids offering free, nutritious meals, tutoring, playground equipment and occasional special instruction – like free music lessons and instruments.

Attending the Zwolle event from across Sabine were, from left, Sen. Alan Seabaugh's Legislative Assistant Laurie Gentry, Chamber Director Shanna Gaspard, Clerk of Court Shelly Salter, Assessor Chris Tidwell, Past Chamber President Pollie Brandon, and Zwolle Town Clerk Ashley Garcie.

The new playground equipment and restrooms are located directly behind the center and join another playset that was obtained about five years ago.

Congratulations to present and past leadership who have played an important part of developing this important community asset. 

LAWDP Offers Funds for Agri, Forestry Internship Program Opportunities

The Louisiana Agricultural Workforce Development Program (LAWDP) is now accepting applications for the 2024-2025 program year from agricultural and forestry businesses interested in participating in their internship funds program. 

The LAWDP program provides businesses with a monetary incentive to establish intern programs to grow the next generation of agriculture professionals. Participating businesses may be reimbursed for up to 50 percent of the cost of hiring an intern. A maximum of $5,000 per internship is allowed.

“This program benefits our agriculture and forestry businesses that are struggling to find qualified individuals while simultaneously providing quality, hands-on training opportunities to people pursuing careers within the agriculture and forestry sectors,” said LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain. “These interns are the future of Louisiana agriculture and forestry. When we invest in them, we invest in Louisiana.”

To qualify, a business must be an agricultural producer or a person or legal entity who engages in agriculture or provides support activities, products or services to an agricultural producer. Such products or services must be directly related to the planting, growing, production, harvesting or processing of Louisiana products.

Internships must provide at least 130 hours of work experience, cannot be longer than one year, and interns must be paid at least minimum wage.

The application period is open online from July 1 through August 31. Once approved, applicants are required to submit an intern application to be completed by the intern or beginning farmer. Students currently enrolled at a Louisiana secondary or postsecondary institution or a young and beginning farmer or rancher employed by an agricultural business are eligible to participate.

For more information on the program, call (225) 952-8084. For program application and guidelines, visit



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