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Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Lafitte’s Home Furnishings: A Four-Generation Legacy in Many

Lafitte's Home Furnishings will celebrate 90 years in business this Friday, June 7.

C. D. and Thelma Hancock were the first-generation founders of Hancock Furniture Co., which later became Lafitte's Home Furnishings.

W. E. Lafitte Jr. and wife Bobbye continued the Hancock legacy.

W. E. "Billy" Lafitte III and wife Becky ushered in the Lafitte's Home Furnishings era, eventually combining Hancock and Lafitte's at one location.

Current Lafitte's Home Furnishings owners are Crystal Goodman Hable and husband Robert, who is mayor of Many.

Lafitte’s Home Furnishings, the oldest furniture store in Many, is celebrating its 90th anniversary this Friday, June 7, with a ribbon-cutting, free lunch, giveaways, sales, live radio remote and more. This milestone marks nearly a century of continuous service to Sabine, tracing its roots back to 1934.

An early scene of Hancock Furniture Co. on San Antonio Ave. in downtown Many

Founded during the Great Depression, Hancock Furniture began its journey under the leadership of C. D. and Thelma Hancock. Despite the challenging economic times, the store thrived, thanks to Hancock's dedication and vision. His son-in-law, W. E. Lafitte Jr., joined the family business in 1952 after marrying Hancock's daughter, Bobbye. Lafitte worked alongside Hancock for 30 years, embracing the store’s mission to offer "good quality furniture with prices that the working people can take advantage of," as Hancock often said.

A familiar downtown landmark no more: Hancock Furniture, shown at its San Antonio Ave. location above, consolidated with its sister location, Lafitte's Home Furnishings, at Church and Main Streets five years ago.

In 1983, C. D. Hancock decided to retire, selling the business to his grandson, W. E. “Billy” Lafitte III. Under Billy's ownership, the store expanded its offerings to include lawn and garden equipment, outdoor furniture, cookers and mowers. This diversification helped the business grow, and in 1997, Billy opened a second location named Lafitte’s Home Furnishings, formerly Vines TV and Appliance in the 500 block of Church St. in Many.

In 2019, Billy consolidated both locations into one building at 515 Church St. on the corner of Main and Church Streets. This move marked the end of an era at the original 615 San Antonio Ave. location but allowed the business to streamline operations and continue its tradition of serving the community.

The year 2022 saw the fourth generation take the helm as Billy’s daughter, Crystal Goodman Hable, along with her husband, Many Mayor Robert Hable, assumed ownership. Crystal, who had managed Lafitte’s Home Furnishings since 2000 after graduating from NSU, has modernized the business by launching an online presence, utilizing social media, and introducing new financing options and brands. Despite these innovations, the core mission remains the same: to provide great quality furniture and appliances with a hometown charm that "Make You Feel at Home," as their motto states.

The Hable family looks forward to continuing the store’s historic legacy of service to Sabine Parish and beyond.

Everyone is invited to attend Lafitte’s 90th Anniversary all-day celebration this Friday, June 7. There will be a live radio remote from 10 a.m. until noon, and at noon, there will be a ribbon-cutting, followed by free hot dogs for lunch. During the event there will also be giveaways, special financing offers and sales throughout the store. 

Legendary Country star, singer-songwriter Bill Anderson will guest this Monday morning on BDC radio with Yours truly.

Legendary Country music artist Bill Anderson will be a special guest on the popular "Open Line" radio program Monday morning, June 10, at 7:30 a.m. with Yours truly and longtime host, Tedd W. Dumas.

Bill's main topic will be his 62 years as a member of Nashville's Grand Ole Opry. He has been a member of the Opry longer than any other artist in the history of the 99-year-old famous Country music show.

He is recognized as a recording artist, outstanding, award-winning songwriter, TV host and a first-class gentleman.

He studied journalism at the University of Georgia and while there wrote his first big hit, "City Lights," which Ray Price took to the top of the Country music charts. He has had more than three dozen Top Ten Country music hits.

His latest recording project is titled "The Country I Grew Up With." Special guests on the project with him are Bobby Bare, Jimmy Fortune, Vince Gill and Willie Nelson. In addition, he has written several books, including his autobiography "Whisperin' Bill."

He is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame and others. He has been active in the field of Country music for 67 years.

Be sure to listen: "Open Line," Monday, June 10, at 7:30 a.m. Tune in at KWLA 103.1 or on the BDC website at

Thought for the Week: I am getting stronger as I grow older. I can now lift $150 worth of groceries with one hand.

Search and rescue teams from the Sabine Sheriff's Office, the Sabine Parish Fire District, the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's Office and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) responded to a fatal boating incident in Sabine Parish on May 28.

The body of Macy Richard, 27, of Opelousas, was recovered by the search and rescue teams from Toledo Bend Lake shortly after responding to the incident.

Search and rescue teams recovered the body of Jerilyn Hebert, 57, of Opelousas,

from Toledo Bend Lake around 4:30 p.m.

According to the survivors, five customers chartered a fishing boat with a fishing

guide on Toledo Bend Lake. The wind and waves quickly picked up around 11:50

a.m. and a wave hit the pontoon boat causing it to capsize sending all six people

into the water. The guide was able to call 911.

When law enforcement and first responders arrived on the scene, they found three of the customers and the guide clinging to the capsized vessel and were able to pull them onto a LDWF vessel around 1 p.m.

The bodies of Richard and Hebert were turned over to the Sabine Parish Coroner’s

Office to determine official causes of death.

(Special thanks to Adam Einck with the LDWF for the above information.)

The following personal account of the fatal boating accident featured in the news release above was written by Sophia Spallino, who is a digital creator recently based in Italy, whose parents survived the harrowing tragedy:

I took an emergency flight home from Europe.

Trigger warning: My parents survived a capsized boating accident out of a horror movie…

My mom and dad are alive. Praise be to God.

But lives of very special people were lost. A storm came up on a charter fishing trip on Toledo Bend…

My mom got together with her childhood best friend [Jerilyn], Jerilyn’s new sweet husband of six months, Lloyd, to surprise Jerilyn and her daughter, Macy, with a fishing trip. We were so happy Jerilyn finally met someone who loved her and her daughter.

Jerilyn was celebrating finally retiring. She worked her whole life in an office. She was two months into truly living a great, wonderful life with her new husband.

They went out in the early morning on a calm, beautiful day. My parents had experience on this lake for over 35 years. Before taking off after fishing, Dad made sure everyone had their life jackets on. It was overcast, but calm.

My parents had never seen anything like this before. All of a sudden, a storm picked up on their way back to the marina around noon, with 8 to 16-foot swells out of nowhere due to a waterspout (a tornado on water.)

The boat lifted into the air like a kite and flipped. But a split second before it flipped, my dad thought if this boat flips, the cabin door must be open, or everyone will be trapped. He intuitively pulled open the cabin door. If he wouldn’t have done this, they would be all dead.

As the boat flipped, Dad held his body in the doorway to keep the wind pressure from closing it, and ultimately, preventing the water pressure from closing them in.

When the boat flipped, my mom, Jerilyn, Macy, Lloyd, and the fishing guide were trapped inside, as the water was rushing in the cabin coming down over them. After holding the door open, my dad jumped away in a split second before the boat completely submerged with water.

At one point, they could only barely see each other, [as] water [was] quickly rising to eye level. My mom says she thought it was over. She screamed, “We are all going to die in here!” She took one last breath, inches from the ceiling with the only oxygen she had left… with the ceiling closing in and hardly any light left.

Trying to escape, Mom’s lifejacket got snagged on things in the cabin, and she truly thought she was going to die. Somehow, she got loose. Mom started swimming, remembering a breathing technique she learned in scuba diving at age 16. She started blowing bubbles out of her nose when she ran out of air.

This is where it gets wild. God showed Mom a horizontal spectrum of light under that dark water in the cabin. Keep in mind there was no sunlight outside, period. And she was guided out. She has no idea how except God’s grace.

My dad was hanging onto the side of a pounding, bouncing upside down pontoon, holding on for dear life taking breaths between 8 to 16-foot waves. He was looking in the water for everyone, screaming names, but was starting to accept that everyone was trapped underneath.

Listening to my dad tell this was gut wrenching, but when recalling, his voice cracked into tears, “I believed your beautiful mother was gone, the love of my life gone.”

But GOD. My mom popped up in her life jacket and they locked eyes. Lloyd and the guide popped up as well. They climbed on top of the boat, where dad blocked flying debris.

Dad’s phone was still in his pocket and miraculously told Siri to call 911…. In a place with usually low-to-no bars. My dad’s phone was waterlogged after this. What a miracle he didn’t drop it in the struggle of hanging on for dear life and holding my mom.

They were all screaming, rebuking the waves and lightening, crying out to God, knowing Macy and Jerilyn were stuck underwater, praying for an air pocket.

They all held on for at least an hour in a huge storm, taking breaths between huge swells of water [coming] over them, knowing their friends who were like family must be gone beneath the boat, waiting for rescue help to come.

Needless to say, I am feeling so many things. Getting the phone call, I thought for sure my mother didn’t make it. Then finding out they both did make it… I was still in a state of shock. It’s a miracle they didn’t lose their lives. Macy and Jerilyn were like family to all of us. And now they are in heaven. This is so hard to reckon with.

A few days ago, I took an emergency flight home in a state of shock, leaving all my regular pre-scheduled campaigns up on social, like I will continue to do. I’m finally no longer experiencing panic attacks, grateful mom and dad are alive… Prayers for peace as we plan funerals.

May this be a reminder to all of us to fully live.

If I wouldn’t have gone to Europe (which I had this crazy, unexplainable intuition to go), I would have been on that boat with my family. In fact, I had our usual Memorial Day trip on my calendar if I wouldn’t have extended my trip from Ibiza to Italy.

Italy changed me forever.

I cried happy tears eating the most fresh tomatoes and bread and working less than two to four hours a day in Italy - for the first time in 3 years.

I cried in fear thinking my parents were gone.

Now I cry because life is fragile, and my family is alive. And I’ll never wait for retirement to truly live again.

Who cares that I had Disneyland Paris booked for my birthday.

Instead, I spent it back in Louisiana in my momma’s bed, hugging her, listening to her cry, listening to her truly weep, hearing her say, “I thought I’d never see you, or Olivia, or Celia, or my grandbabies again.”

Social media is real. Just not in real time. Thank God for pre-prepped content when you can’t get yourself off the floor.

I caught a flight home after teaching my PPB students at 2 a.m. on Thursday morning, after days of not sleeping.

I haven’t left my momma and daddy’s side.

It’s a miracle they are alive.

My 32nd birthday was more special than anyone will ever understand. I got to hug my parents again. I have a mattress on their bedroom floor, and I’m not sure I’ll leave their presence until my flight back to Europe.

It’s a miracle I went to Italy instead of the usual family Memorial Day trip to Toledo Bend.

It’s gut wrenching to know we lost our very best family-friends.

Jerilyn wasn’t just my mom’s best friend. She was a sister to both my father and mother. She celebrated every accomplishment with me since birth and didn’t blink an eye when I came out. Jerilyn was unconditional love embodied.

And Macy… to know her was to love her. She lit up every room. She was pure joy and sparkle… She had the biggest, sweetest, attentive personality. She’d sneak into my closet just like a little sister would do, and text me back at college, “Sophia, do you want this purse?” How could I ever tell her no. She was an angel on earth and now must really be an angel.

I pray to see them again on the other side one day.

Thank you for every prayer, good vibe, and healing thought… my parents and Jerilyn and Macy’s loved ones need them more than ever before.

Follow the light,


Observations sends condolences to the family and friends of the Richard and Hebert families. They are in our thoughts and prayers.

Northwestern State University recently named students who earned spots on the academic honors lists for the Spring 2024 semester. Local standouts are as follows: 


President’s List (4.0 GPA): 

Anacoco – Jessica Haymon, Katelyn Haymon, Landen Jett, Coree Runnels, Karlea Welch


Belmont – Andie Gilcreast


Converse – Willa Gregston


Florien – Bailey Sandel, Abigail Thomas


Many – Nancy Bolton, Destiny Bryant, Geert Kor, Christian Rivers, Adelaide Soileau 

Marthaville – Aaron Manasco, Zachary Slaughter 

Noble – Harleigh Schexneider 

Pleasant Hill – Katie Murray, Celeste Waddle


Robeline – Stevie Carter, Kaley Koss, Keith Vascocu, Tucker Vascocu


Zwolle – Jaeger Ebarb, Gracie Leone, Sarah Lewing, Zachary Remedies, Roselieta Smith, Victoria Sepulvado 


Dean's List (3.5 - 3.99 GPA):


Anacoco – Lindsey Alligood, Alana Blanchard, Dani Carver, Mallory Cooley, Loryn Gross, Hunter Rabalais 

Converse – Cameron Craig, Drake Friday


Florien – Leighton Anderson, Alexis Brooks, Skye Buentello, Lauren Dees, Cesaleigh Hall, Makenna Landry 

Hornbeck – Joshua Corley, Cody Jarrell, Logan Lawrence, Jessica Mendoza


Many – Haley Broxson, Shiley Cartinez, Shania Collier, Roger Dew, Christopher Ezernack, Kaitlyn Johnson, Lila Laroux, Jada Lee, Shelby Leone, Levi Miller, MaKynli Miller, Masen Starks, Hilary Williams, Olivia Williams, Alaina Wright 

Marthaville – Morgan Wyatt 

Noble- Rebecca Hardee, Selena Rodriguez  

Pleasant Hill – Skylie Harris  

Robeline – Meagan Ammons, Georgia Dowden, Savannah Edwards, Abby Flynn, Jarrett Fulton, Chase Johnston, Sean Mitcham


Zwolle- Olivia Crittenden, Madasyn Ebarb, Kelsie Etheridge, Landon Malmay, Taylor Rivers, Alexis Sepulvado 


Honor’s List (3.0 - 3.49 GPA): 

Anacoco – Eric Flaherty, Aaron Green, Isabella McCall, Abby Nicholas, Christopher Pajinag, Matthew Pajinag, Hannah Womack 

Belmont – Ian Gentry 

Converse – Logan Carter 

Florien – Laila Garner, MaCayla Herrington, Taylor Jones, Gracie Rutherford, Kagan Sandel 

Hornbeck – Brayden Corley, Sarah McDaniel, Adam Rhodes 

Many – Alizabeth Boyles, Kaiya Causey, Brooklyn Davis, Lexi Ezernack, Kristen Hammontree, Kheria Leshay, Emma Peace, Presley Pleasant, Erik Sandel, Joseph Yount 

Marthaville – Camryn Ford, Abby Powell 

Pleasant Hill – Ty Russell 

Robeline – Andrew Austin, Nikolas Broadway, Kristin Bull, Tyler French, Christopher Paligo, Kilee Pickett, George Prince


Zwolle – Zachariah Carroll, Collyn Crow, Hannah Esthay, Christopher Faircloth, Kamron Parrie 

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


Lauren Ray, above, current Observations and BDC radio intern, provided the following feature on Dr. Jie "Jessica" Zhang of Northwestern State University.

The following article was written by Lauren Ray of DeRidder, who is currently in a Communications internship at Observations and with BDC radio this summer. Dr. Zhang is Lauren's adviser at Northwestern State University.

Dr. Jie "Jessica" Zhang, head of New Media, Journalism and Communication Arts at NSU

Dr. Jie Zhang is the heart and head of the New Media, Journalism, and Communication Arts Department at Northwestern State University. After being named department head in 2021, Zhang has continuously improved the education and experience of her students. 

Zhang has studied at Shanghai University, University of Oklahoma and University of Texas at Austin. Her vast experience and knowledge in advertising and marketing shows in one of her signature styles of coursework: campaign projects.  

Recently, her students have worked with Chick-Fil-A and Neblett, Beard & Arsenault to develop creative advertising concepts for their companies. Zhang has also taken her students to different communities and areas beyond NSU to introduce them to internship opportunities. She is constantly looking for more ways to give her students an education that will translate into real world experiences, connect them to developed communication professionals and foster a love for the art of communication. 

“I feel genuinely happy about my students’ achievements in various classes and want to tell local communities through class projects that NMJCA has the most talented students with incredible hands-on experience in Louisiana,” says Zhang.  

The Department of New Media, Journalism, and Communication Arts is full of wonderful professors, and Dr. Jie Zhang is their fearless leader.  

Texas Boy Honored in Sabine Parish

Sabine Judge Verity Gentry was delighted to swear in Devarjaye Daniel toward his goal of joining 1,000 law enforcement agencies honorarily. She offered DJ her judicial robe to try on after the ceremonies, and he took her up on it.

Sheriff Aaron Mitchell congratulated new honorary Sabine Parish Deputy DJ Daniel as he showed off some honorary patches as well.

On hand with a certificate from Sabine DA Don Burkett's office was Assistant Anna Garcie, left.

Dr. Mark Holder of the Many Police Dept. and Sabine Medical Center welcomed DJ Daniel to Sabine as DJ showed off some new pins in received in Many.

Many Chief of Police Cheryl Wooley hugged DJ Daniel after he was sworn in as an honorary Many Police officer.

Mayor of Many Robert Hable, right, presented a key to the city to special guest Devarjaye Daniel of Houston.

Zwolle Chief of Police Daniel Thomas, left, shakes DJ Daniel's hand after the boy's honorary swearing in into local law enforcement agencies.

Last week,12-year-old Devarjaye "DJ" Daniel of Houston was recognized as an Honorary Deputy Sheriff of the Sabine Parish Sheriff's Office. He was also honored by Judge Verity Gentry of the 11th Judicial District, District Attorney Don Burkett, Many Mayor Robert Hable and the Many and Zwolle Police Departments.

Following a diagnosis of terminal brain and spinal cord cancer when he was six years old with a life expectancy of only five months, DJ's wish and goal was to be sworn-in by 1,000 law enforcement agencies, his dream job. Six years later, DJ is still going strong and fulfilling his dream. He visited Sabine recently to be sworn in locally, and area judicial and law enforcement leadership were happy to help the young man work toward his goal.

DJ arrived to Many City Hall on Thursday, May 30, dressed in a full police uniform, duty gear and all, given to him recently by a north Louisiana law enforcement agency. He was accompanied by his father, Theodis Daniel.

The young man and his family have been traveling across the country for the last four years visiting local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. They have also visited the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. To date, DJ has been sworn-in by approximately 850 agencies from across the country.

On his Many visit, DJ was recognized and honored locally by the 11th Judicial District Judge and District Attorney, the Many Police Dept., Zwolle Police Dept. and he was also presented a key to city by Many Mayor Robert Hable. DJ was treated like a king as he received certificates, badges, patches, pins, coins, uniform shirts and paraded around town in a patrol unit.

"In meeting DJ, you would never know he has cancer," Sheriff Aaron Mitchell reported. "He instantly lights up a room and has been an inspiration to all of us."

The Sabine Parish Sheriff's Office and other participants wished DJ and his family all the best as he pursues his goal and brings awareness to childhood cancer across the country.

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

"Louisiana's No Man's Land" is a new book now available by local author Scott DeBose.

People interested in the history of Sabine Parish are in for a rare treat at Many City Hall at noon this Saturday, June 8. Author Scott DeBose will introduce his second book, “Louisiana's No Man’s Land, a History of Outlaws and Opportunity." DeBose will give a presentation about his book and will sign copies for buyers.

DeBose said that most Americans know the basics of the Louisiana Purchase, but few know that West Louisiana was left out of the purchase. His book tells the story of how No Man’s Land was created as a 40-mile-wide and 500-mile-long strip of land where neither troops nor police could be stationed. Outlaws, smugglers and pirates soon flocked to the region that included what is now Sabine Parish. They included Jean Lafitte, Jim Bowie, Billy the Kid and John Murrell. Hundreds of settlers also called No Man’s Land home. All this is covered in his book.

Scott DeBose will introduce and sign copies of his new book at Many City Hall this Saturday, June 8, at noon.

Scott DeBose has spent most of his life living in No Man’s Land. He became interested in the region’s history at an early age, listening to stories of outlaws and hidden treasures in caves. DeBose worked at Ft. Jesup Historic Site while he was attending Northwestern State University. He now serves as the president of the Friends of Ft. Jesup and was involved in the No Man’s Land Bicentennial Celebration in 2019.

“Louisiana's No Man’s Land, a History of Outlaws and Opportunity” is DeBose’s second book. His first book, titled “Ft. Jesup, a History,” was published in 2022.

DeBose holds a Bachelor of Arts in history and anthropology and a master’s degree in music. He is Band Director at Many High School.

(Special thanks to Mary Brocato for the information above.)



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