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Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Senator Seabaugh Inaugurates New District 31 Office


Shown cutting the ribbon are Senator Alan Seabaugh, center left, and wife Laura, left, Legislative Assistant Laurie Gentry, center right, and Sabine Chamber of Commerce Director Shanna Gaspard, right.


Senator Alan Seabaugh and wife Laura, center, listen as Sabine Sheriff Aaron Mitchell, at left, speaks about the passion for public service that he and the Senator share. Shown at right is retired Air Force Col., the Rev. Scott Adams of Bossier City who gave the invocation.


Those who gathered for an official photo joined the crowd in applause after the ribbon was cut by Senator Alan Seabaugh in front of his new main office in Many.

 

Sabine Parish witnessed a significant milestone with the official opening of its first State Senate district office last Thursday, March 7.


Senator Alan Seabaugh, District 31, inaugurated his new headquarters, which serves as the primary office for his 10-parish district, encompassing Sabine and Red River parishes entirely, along with portions of Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, DeSoto, Natchitoches, Rapides, Webster, and Winn parishes.


The event welcomed esteemed guests including Chief Judge Elizabeth Pickett from the Third Circuit Court of Appeal, Judge Verity Gentry from the 11th Judicial District, District Attorney Don Burkett, Sabine Sheriff Aaron Mitchell and Mayor of Many Robert Hable.


In his remarks after the ribbon cutting, Senator Seabaugh acknowledged the pivotal role played by individuals from across the parish in bolstering his successful senate bid, including Mayor Troy Terrell of Converse, former Mayor G. J. Martinez of Zwolle, Sheriff Mitchell and Mayor Hable. The overwhelming support of Sabine citizens, culminating in a 63% vote share, further underscored their endorsement of the former north Louisiana representative.


Senator Seabaugh's recent legislative work in Baton Rouge during two special sessions, focusing on a crime crackdown and victim rights enhancement, garnered attention statewide. Notably, the removal of automated red-light cameras, a system widely contested by the public, received significant traction. Appearance requests from media outlets statewide provided proof positive that the removal of unfair and often faulty unmanned ticket devices demonstrated the Senator's bill was centered on a pertinent, uniting issue that people care deeply about across Louisiana.


Amid some light-hearted banter at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Senator Seabaugh shared anecdotes about his new office location being listed as "Many, LA" on his TV interviews prompting at least one humorous inquiry from a reporter about whether the parish seat even has a stoplight.

 

Accompanied by his wife Laura, representing Attorney General Liz Murrill's office, and Legislative Assistant Laurie Gentry, who oversees the new office, Senator Seabaugh also welcomed representatives from prominent elected officials' offices, including the offices of Speaker Mike Johnson, Sen. John Kennedy, Sen. Bill Cassidy and State Rep. Rodney Schamerhorn.


The event drew a sizable crowd of over 150 attendees, with many lingering to discuss concerns and capture memorable photos with the Senator and his wife.


It was a busy day for the couple, starting with commitments in Shreveport before the midday ribbon-cutting ceremony in Many. Afterward, they attended the wake of former Zwolle Mayor P. M. Woods, a longtime family friend, before heading to Natchitoches for a late afternoon meeting, concluding with a well-attended evening event where he reaffirmed his dedication to serving his entire constituency.


Emphasizing accessibility, Senator Seabaugh reiterated his readiness to address constituents' needs, urging them to reach out at any time. He maintains a satellite office in Shreveport for constituents in the northern parts of the district and plans to establish another office at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches soon.


On Monday, the Senator hit the ground running as Regular Session started. He has 30 bills pending in the session, which is expected to last until June 3.



Early voting for the Louisiana Presidential Primary will continue through Saturday at the Sabine Parish Courthouse office of Registrar of Voters Zach Faircloth.  His office is open from 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m.  The election will be held Saturday, March 23.


Voters in Florien will vote on Chief of Police and three members of the Board of Aldermen.




Philip and Nancy Lambert owned and operated Sabine Monument Co. in Many for 47 years.


Sabine Monument Co. was started sometime in the 1950s by J. W. Warren who, at the time, owned the funeral home.  Somewhere along the way he sold to Warren Meadows.  For 47 years, Phillip and Nancy Lambert operated the company after purchasing it from Mr. Meadows.


The Lamberts closed sale of the shop on Feb. 5.  Here is their story as written by Mrs. Lambert.  We appreciate her time and effort in doing this for us.


“In 1976, Philip was working at Carnline Poultry, installing equipment in chicken houses. It wasn’t a job he particularly enjoyed, but it was a paying job. He and I were planning to get married in August, and I was still attending NSU, so a paying job was important! In April, Philip’s uncle, Clayton Faust, passed away. A few months later, Clayton’s son, Odis, came to the office of Sabine Monument with his mother, Doris, to purchase a monument for Clayton. As Odis and Warren Meadows were talking that day, Mr. Meadows asked Odis if he knew a young man who might be interested in learning the trade of engraving monuments. Odis told him that he might know someone.


He called Philip and asked if he was interested. A few days later, Philip was in the office at the monument shop for a job interview. Mr. Meadows’ engraver had quit just a short time before this, and Mr. Meadows had been doing the engraving himself while he looked for a replacement. We have laughed many times about how Mr. Meadows described that interview: ‘Almost all the boy’s job experience had been working for relatives. I didn’t think he’d last more than a few weeks!’ But he hired Philip anyway and taught him what he knew of the engraving part of the monument business. He told us later that he had planned to send Philip to Georgia for more training in September… ‘if he lasted that long.’ Philip did so well in learning the trade that he never made that trip to Georgia. Nine years later, Mr. Meadows sold the business to us, financing it himself since we didn’t have the money to buy a business.


“Forty-seven years after that conversation between Odis Faust and Warren Meadows, Philip Lambert has proven to be one of the best in the monument business, serving our community with compassion and respect and putting his heart into each monument he engraved and installed.


“In 2012, I retired from a 30-year teaching career at Many High School. I was so excited to get to finally join Philip full-time at the shop. We put in a computer-operated stencil cutter and were then able to design monuments on the computer and have the stencil cut by machine, freeing Philip from the hand-cutting he had been doing since 1976. This cut out one step of the process, but he still weeded the stencil and did all the engraving and setting of monuments.


“We enjoyed over ten years of working together and ministering to hurting families in our community. Then in March 2023, we received the news that no one wants to hear. I was diagnosed with Stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer. This news shook us to our core. There had been no warning other than fever and night sweats that came and went. At the time we got the news, Philip was over 130 monuments behind, and in addition to going to the oncologist and getting a treatment plan, we had to figure out how we were going to take care of all the obligations we had with the shop. God has been so good to us! Through the recommendation of our nurse practitioner, Melissa Vines, He led us to my amazing oncologist in Shreveport, Dr. Kirtan Koticha. I had an appointment with him just three days after Melissa got the results of my CT scan in Many. Then one week after that appointment, I began chemotherapy. After two rounds of chemotherapy, genetic testing showed that my cancer was the EGFR mutation, which made it a candidate for Tagrisso, a drug targeted specifically for this type of cancer. The daily pill had many side effects, but it began working right away. Just a few months later, CT scans showed that the cancer was shrinking in all four areas where it had been spotted.


“Meanwhile, Philip kept working at the shop, between trips to the doctor, slowly but steadily engraving and setting monuments. As I was able, I would go out to the office and cut stencils for him. We made the decision to not accept any new sales until he could catch up and until we knew what we would be facing with my health.


“Fast forward to November and December of 2023. We began talking with Doug Russell, who works with acquisitions for Martus Stone. Martus is a family-owned business located in Elkhart, TX. They operate on a much bigger scale than Philip and I ever did, but as we visited with Doug and learned more about them, we realized that at their heart, they shared our philosophy of using our business as a ministry. We began to think that they might be the ones to carry on the legacy of Sabine Monument in Many. We toured a few of the monument companies they have acquired recently, and then we went with Doug to meet with Charles (LC) Starr in Elkhart. We were very impressed by everyone we met at the company and felt a common bond with LC and with Doug. We had already been praying, but we came home and prayed some more. After covering everything with prayer, we made the decision to sell our business to Martus Stone. We love the fact that LC is a devoted Christian who has the same view that we always had:  that our business is one of compassion and ministry. I love their explanation of why they chose the name Martus for their company: ‘The word Martus is the Greek word for witness. We make memorials that are more than just a monument. They are a testament to the life that was lived: a witness stone.’


“We closed on the sale of the shop on Feb. 5, and Martus Stone has lost no time in beginning to fulfill their dream of what they’d like to do with the shop. If you pass by now, you’ll see that they have brought in a large display of beautiful monuments. We love that they appreciate the history of the business. Alex Maldonado, their tech support man, noticed that we had an 8”x10” picture in our office showing Mr. Meadows and another man (possibly Mr. Warren, who was the first owner of the business), posing with the first monument that was ever produced by Sabine Monument. He asked if he could borrow the picture, and when he returned to the office, he had enlarged the picture to cover a large canvas. It’s the first thing I notice when I walk into the ‘new’ office.


“Paul Cheatham is working at the office now as a salesman and designer. He is also interviewing applicants for this position. 


“People have asked us what we plan to do now that we have retired. I can tell you that Philip Lambert will never retire from working! He seems to be busier since our official sale date than he ever was before. He will continue servicing pre-need monuments that we sold, engraving final dates as needed.


“As of December 2023, I am in remission with the cancer. I will continue to take Tagrisso as long as it works. We do not know how long that will be, and we have no idea what the future holds, but we very well know Who holds our future! We are looking forward to seeing what God wants to do with us next.”


(Again, a big thank you to Nancy Lambert for taking the time to share the story of Sabine Monument Company with Observations. Our entire region has been very fortunate to have this couple's loving service to our communities over the years.) 



We love to get mail:  This one from our good friend Bettye Salter of Baton Rouge: 


“I just wanted you to know how very much I’ve enjoyed reading (many times) your ‘young lion’ story.  I laugh each time I read it as I think about myself at about that same age.  I loved comic books.  It was my weekly treat to get to buy a 10-cent comic book when I went with Mama to Many to buy groceries.  I admit my hankerings were not as flamboyant as yours, but comic book ads sure made sea moneys and crime decoders look enticing.  Daddy didn’t believe in allowances or payment for chores done, so I had to wait until birthdays or special occasions to get a few cents to order them, but I know the feeling of anticipation that comes along with ordering exciting things.  Your dad was evidently a very wise man to handle the lion situation like he did.  By the way, I now know why you became a newspaper man.  Two hundred newspapers every day!  You either decided to hate reading newspapers or develop a real love for them.  Your love has served you well, I’d say.  I’m sure glad you didn’t receive that lion and what a good decision you made never to offer to take one again.  What would Laurie do with a lion?  Take care, hello to sweet Laurie, and keep sharing your interesting and humorous stories.”


And more mail: our longtime friend, Dr. Ronald Byrd of South Boston, VA, regular Observations reader was also in touch recently after the column featuring Speaker Mike Johnson’s visit to Many. We are always happy to hear from Ronny. His note follows:


“I'm a strong supporter of Speaker Mike Johnson and am amazed that he could find time for a visit to Many, considering the chaos in D.C. That speaks well for him, finding a way to get down to folks at the grassroots level at such a stressful time, and I know that citizens of Many felt themselves fortunate that he could do so. I have to guess that Robert Gentry's involvement in politics over many decades was somehow connected to the visit. And learning that Laurie Gentry is now legislative assistant to Senator Alan Seabaugh, a pattern emerges, and I love it. First, Senator Seabaugh decides to locate an office in Many and then along comes Speaker Mike Johnson. The political importance of Many and Sabine Parish is clearer than ever, and citizens should rightly be proud of that fact.”




Bob Gates of Many visits the grave of his friend, U.S. Congressman Speedy O. Long.


Bob Gates of Many recently got the chance to visit the grave of his friend, U.S. Congressman Speedy O. Long, who is buried in the Magnolia Cemetery near Jena.  Bob has fond memories of growing up in Jena and his friendship with Speedy.  Through the years, Speedy visited Sabine Parish many times and participated in various campaigns.


He was born June 16, 1928 and died Oct. 6, 2006 at the age of 78. He was born prematurely and his parents thus named him “Speedy.”  He served in the Navy and got his education at Northeast in Monroe, Northwestern in Natchitoches, and was graduated from LSU Law School.


Speedy served as State Senator from 1956-1964.  He served the Eighth Congressional District, which included Sabine Parish, from 1965-73.  He ran for Governor one time, but was not successful.  From 1973 until 1985 he was District Attorney in LaSalle Parish.


We are glad that Bob got to do what he has been wanting to do for a long time.



SHERIFF MITCHELL ANNOUNCES ARRESTS


On Tuesday of last week, Sheriff Aaron Mitchell reported the arrests of Jessica Nicole Behan, age 34, of Many and Tyrone Shvonn Holden, age 31, of Florien.


The arrests came about on the evening of Feb. 29, after Sabine Parish Sheriff Tactical Narcotics Team (TNT) Agents stopped the vehicle Holden was driving on Louisiana Ave. in Many for traffic violations. Behan was a front seat passenger in the car.


During the traffic stop, TNT Agents learned Behan had a loaded 9mm pistol in the front waistband of her pants as well as a glass smoking device containing suspected methamphetamine.


After a short investigation, Agents discovered six firearms in the trunk of the car along with marijuana, methamphetamine and various drug paraphernalia. The illegal narcotics belonged to Behan.


Behan was arrested and booked into the Sabine Parish Women’s Jail for:  Possession of schedule I (marijuana), Possession of schedule II (Meth), Possession of drug paraphernalia, Possession of a firearm in presence of CDS, Illegal carrying of weapons, Many PD warrant for Monetary instrument abuse and Warrant for FTA for Simple battery and Contributing to the delinquency of juveniles.


Holden was arrested and booked into the Sabine Parish Detention Center for:  six counts of Possession of firearm by person convicted of certain felonies, Operating vehicle while license suspended, Failure to signal within 100 ft. and Vehicle in unsafe condition.


Sabine Parish Sheriff Detectives then began an investigation about the firearms in the vehicle.


Behan told detectives the guns came from a residence of an elderly man on Hope St. in Florien. Behan said she lured the man away from his residence while Holden went inside the house and took the guns. The man said he was missing four pistols, two rifles, a shotgun, and a BB rifle.


Holden had prior felony convictions according to his criminal record. Holden also threatened a detective during an interview at CID.


Behan was booked for:  seven counts of Principal to Theft of a firearm (Felony), seven counts of Illegal possession of stolen firearms (Felony), Principal to Aggravated burglary (Felony), Exploitation of persons with infirmities (Felony), Principal to Theft less than $1,000 (Misdemeanor) and Illegal Possession of stolen things less than $1,000 in value.


Holden was booked for:  seven counts of Theft of a firearm (Felony), seven counts of Illegal possession of stolen firearms (Felony), Aggravated burglary (Felony), Possession of a firearm by person convicted of certain felonies (Felony), Principal to Exploitation of persons with infirmities (Felony), Theft of less than $1000 (Misdemeanor), Illegal possession of stolen things (Misdemeanor) and Threatening a public official or law enforcement officer (Misdemeanor).


Sheriff Mitchell commended his TNT Agents and Detectives for being proactive and acting quickly to solve this case and prevent numerous stolen firearms from ending up on the streets of Sabine Parish.


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



MARTINEZ FAMILY REUNION UPCOMING


Plans are already being made for the Gilbert and Gertrude Martinez 2024 Family Reunion.  It is set for June 15 at the VFW Hall in Zwolle, with doors opening at 11 a.m.  Hosting the event is the Jack Martinez Family.  Potluck lunch will start at noon, there will be a mass at 4 p.m., and the Born to Boogie Band will start playing at 8 p.m.


Persons attending who have deceased family members are asked to send photos that will be included in a slideshow.  They are also asked to include the names of the deceased and from whose family the photos came.  Deadline to receive photos is April 30.  They should be sent to Bryan Leone at bryanleone5328@gmail.com or by text to (979) 824-1129.


Those attending are asked to come dressed as their favorite movie star, singer or cartoon character.  Prizes will be awarded for the best dressed adult and child.


Persons attending are also asked to bring a covered dish; tea and water will be provided.  The memorial slide show and a drawing for gifts will take place following the meal.  A quilt is among the prizes, and it was donated by the granddaughters of Julie Martinez Cordova.


If you have any questions, please contact Jackie Downs at (318) 470-2131 or Sandra Martinez at (318) 294-2758.





For the second month in a row, Sabine Parish received less sales tax in February 2024 compared to the same month a year ago, February 2023, according to a report issued by Wanda Rivers, Sales Tax Administrator for the parish.  In February 2023, total taxes collected amounted to $2,599,493.33, compared to this year’s February collections of $2,419,791.64.  This amounted to $139,701.69 less.  The Town of Zwolle and the Sabine Tourist Commission were the only taxing entities that increased collections.  Last February, Zwolle collections amounted to $52,666.96, compared to $86,655.16 collected this February, an increase of $33,988.20. The Tourist Commission saw an increase of $1,483.24.



Looks like a fabulous production coming to the historic Sabine Theater in Many! We're talking about "Always... Patsy Cline," which will run April 11-14 and star Jill Dupont/Jacey Cornell and Joy Faust/Kelly Airthart. Don't miss it! Call (318) 763-6188 for tickets or scan the QR Code below.



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