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Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Pelican Benefit Advisers representative Gwile Freeman, left, presented Sabine Supt. of Schools Shane Wright, the official plaque honoring his selection as the 2024 Region 7 Superintendent of the Year on Monday evening in Many.

Sabine Supt. of Schools Shane Wright was honored Monday evening in Many for his recent selection as the 2024 Region 7 Superintendent of the Year. Region 7 includes nine parishes in the northwest part of the state:  Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Claiborne, DeSoto, Natchitoches, Red River, Sabine and Webster.

Supt. Wright began as a classroom teacher 23 years ago, then became an Assistant Principal, a coach, Supervisor of Secondary curriculum, Director of Human Resources and Director of Administrative Services. He is entering his third year as Supt. of Schools in Sabine.

Gwile Freeman, representative of Pelican Benefit Advisers, was on hand to make the presentation, noting, “One of his accolades is that Sabine Parish Schools was named #8 in the Best Louisiana School Systems 2024 ratings.” She also said due to his hard work, school administrators’ commitment, a talented teaching staff and the dedicated efforts of students, “Your district has continued to improve academically in district performance scores.”

Watch future Observations for more information about the deserving Students of the Year who were also honored on Monday.

Dean Lambert of Many is shown working on his book, a recently released project that shares his interesting, often humorous take on his family history and memories.

The long-awaited book from Many writer Dean Lambert is now on the market.  Entitled “Book of Dean, His Strange History and Great Humor,” the new book is on sale at Amazon and through the Amazon app, and at places in this area.

Notes on the back of the book read, “Dean was raised in the ‘50s and ‘60s.  His father was raised in the ‘70s and '80s.”

"Book of Dean, His Strange History and Great Humor" by Dean Lambert is now available at Amazon and elsewhere.

Continuing, it notes, “The improbable facts of the Lambert family’s remarkable history combine with Dean’s humorous stories of life in rural west central Louisiana in Natchitoches Parish.  His stories bridge life on the farm as the son of the oldest documented father of twins (how many people today can say their father was six years old when General Custer met his demise at Little Big Horn?), to life with his wife, Amanda, (who he often describes as great material for stories), to the lighter side of his 38 years of law enforcement.”

Concluding, the description says, “It includes a family military history that is hard to believe, starting with his great-great-great grandfather in the Revolutionary War, The War of 1812, his grandfather in the Civil War, his brothers in WWI (France) and WWII (one at Pearl Harbor, one the executive officer on a destroyer off the coast of Italy, one at the Panama Canal), to his son in Afghanistan.”

Dean at one time wrote a very popular daily post on Facebook which had lots of readers.  The book came about because of the popularity of those writings.  He retired after a long and distinguished career in law enforcement, including many years as Many Chief of Police.  Much to everyone’s enjoyment, Dean still often posts a daily trivia column or family story on Facebook.

There will be a book signing to celebrate the release of the “Book of Dean” on Friday, April 5, from 1-3 p.m. at the Sabine Parish Library.  Dean will be there to visit, take photos and autograph books.  The book is an exceptional value, selling for only $12.95.

By now, the book should also be available at Good Gracious on San Antonio Ave. in Many and at Tres Bien Book Store on St. Denis St. in Natchitoches.

We wish Dean well with his book, and we urge everyone to get a copy today.

The Zwolle Hawks Boys Basketball Team, Coach Bradley McLaren and Hawks cheerleaders were honored with a parade and reception in Zwolle on Sunday afternoon, March 17.

The Zwolle Hawks Boys Basketball team have a lot to be proud of, and we are all mighty proud of them.

The talented team and coaching staff made history recently when they nabbed their 17th State Championship title in Boys Basketball. It is the most ever won in Louisiana.

On St. Patrick’s Day, Zwolle rolled out the green and gold to celebrate the historic accomplishment with a parade through town and a reception afterward at the Zwolle Festival Grounds.

The Town of Zwolle honored the team with a commemorative plaque and Laurie Gentry presented a certificate of congratulations from Senator Alan Seabaugh, who sent his hearty congratulations and hopes to host the team at the State Capitol when schedules can be aligned.

The Zwolle High School Athletic program, Coach Bradley McLaren and his staff, and the talented, hardworking team are all much to be commended for their determination and work ethic.

Coach Jess Curtis, formerly of Many, is shown on the sidelines of a football practice.

We send along our best wishes to Jess Curtis, former Many High School Football Coach, on his new job at Southside High School in Youngsville, which is located near Lafayette.

Jess, the son of Mr. and Mrs. John Curtis of Many, served this past year as football coach at Natchitoches Central High School.

While at Many High, Jess won three state titles and reached state championship playoff games six of his last nine seasons.  He was 142-32 (.816) in 13 seasons, winning 10 consecutive district titles and finishing as state finalists in 2013, 2019 and 2021 while winning the state title in 2014, 2020 and 2022.

This year's Sabine Hall of Fame Inductee is Ms. Nell Louise Ponselle Britner.

The annual Sabine Hall of Fame Induction banquet will be held Tuesday, March 26, at Cypress Bend Resort on Toledo Bend.  Doors open at 5:30 p.m., with dinner starting at 6:30 and the program beginning at 7 p.m.

Nell Louise Ponselle Britner will be the inductee. She was voted Secretary of the Year for the City of Shreveport and also across Louisiana for her work as a legal secretary.

She and her family owned and operated businesses in Shreveport prior to moving to Sabine Parish in 1980 where they owned Pendleton Harbor Lodge and Marina and the Harbor Yacht Club on Toledo Bend Lake.

Nell was employed by Peoples State Bank in 1989 as secretary to President J. J. Blake III and later served as Executive Assistant to Pete Abington, Chairman of the Board.  Later she became Pete’s personal secretary, a position she continues to this day. The inductee will celebrate 90 years this coming June.

She married Bob Britner in 1953 and they are the parents of eight children.  Her civil work includes Many Rotary Club, Sabine Council on Aging, Sabine Parish Tourist Commission and Sabine Chamber of Commerce, among others.  She has been a member of the Sabine Hall of Fame Board since its inception.

Dr. Terrell A. Gray Sr. will be presented the Achievement Award and Jaegar Ebarb will receive the Accomplishment Award.  Posthumous Awards will be presented for the late Dr. Jack Corley, Gary Mark Rivers and Msgt. Douglas Ray Palmer.

Walt Korb will receive the Good Citizen Award, and Ms. Evelyn Bush will receive a special Tribute Award.

A few tickets for the event, at $50 each, are still available and may be purchased at the office of Sen. Alan Seabaugh, 515 South Capitol St. in Many, at the office of Robert Gentry at 605 San Antonio Ave., at Nichols in Many, the Sabine Chamber of Commerce and Tourist Commission offices at 1601 Texas Hwy., at the office of Pete Abington, 1030 San Antonio Ave. and from Board Member Martha Henderson at (318) 294-3362.

To reserve a table for eight, contact Laurie Gentry at (318) 332-7873 immediately.

Everyone is encouraged to act fast for tickets or tables. Last year was a packed sellout, and a good crowd is already confirmed for the upcoming banquet next Tuesday.

We saw this sign on the back of a pickup truck stopped at a traffic light last week in Many.  One of our founding fathers, John Adams, said it:  “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Saturday is Election Day in Sabine Parish.  On the ballot will be the Presidential Primary, and voters in Florien will cast ballots on three members of the Village Council and a Chief of Police.

Registrar of Voters Zach Faircloth said 225 persons voted early and that ended Saturday. As of late Monday afternoon, 238 absentee ballots had been returned.

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Election Day.

They call Mr. Preston Ray Sanders Jr. "Free Money."

While in Zwolle Sunday afternoon for the celebration of the Zwolle Hawks Boys Basketball Team winning 17 state titles, we met Preston Ray Sanders Jr.  He was wearing a beautiful shirt with a picture of his own Preston Ray Sanders III, who is Number 23 for the Zwolle Hawks.  And he is very proud of his son who was named “First Team All District” and the District “Most Valuable Player.”

On the back of his shirt in big letters was “Free Money.”  I asked him what that meant.  He explained it as a phrase that he coined:  “Free money is when a basketball player has a free throw shot.  They are easy shots because no one is guarding you or in front of you.  It is an easy shot that you don’t have to work for.” 

Preston Ray Jr. goes by the name “Free Money,” and he said anytime he goes to a game, people start shouting, “Hey, Free Money!”  He plans to get the phrase trade-marked and make a lot of money off of it.  We wish him well.

Not much to report in the way of an update on the latest “Man in the Well” case involving Steven Lilly, who was found deceased in a well on Friday, Feb. 2, a little over six weeks ago.

“We are waiting for some lab tests to be completed and still interviewing people,” Many Police Chief Cheryl Wooley shared with Observations on Monday. “We keep a picture of Mr. Lilly on our wall, and we will not lose sight of this case.”

Hopefully the lab results will turn up some helpful clues so the Police Dept. can make an arrest or arrests, and the person or persons responsible can be brought to justice.  


Bloom on Main on Main Street in Many is set for Saturday, April 6.

Locals and visitors won’t have to travel far this spring to get their seasonal plants and décor. The Town of Many’s annual event, Bloom on Main, returns on Saturday, April 6, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

At Bloom on Main in years past, Main Street in Many has been lined with vendors offering a variety of items ranging from spring wreaths, fresh produce, yard flags and beautiful plants, as well as local artwork.

With this year’s Events in Many Committee bringing local food trucks, snow cones, lemonade, arts and crafts, woodworking, jewelry, planter boxes and more, it promises to be another colorful event!

This event is FREE to the public and everyone is invited to come out and enjoy the festivities. The first 100 children to arrive at 10 a.m. will have the opportunity to paint their own spring blooms with local artist Shanna Gaspard at no cost courtesy of Judge Verity Gentry.

Don’t miss this fun, family event! Please remember it is on Main Street, not San Antonio Ave. Main Street is only one block south of San Antonio.

For more information on this event or to inquire about being a vendor, please contact the Sabine Parish Tourist Commission at (318) 256-5880.

(Thank you to Kelsi Horn, Sabine Tourist Commission Marketing Director, for the information above.)

Two Many juveniles ran away from their home recently, allegedly because of mistreatment by their caretaker.

The two were last seen in the Byles St. area, and following their disappearance, Jayden Kyle, age 13, was the first youth found. The second boy, 10-year-old Jayshon Jordan, was later found at the home, reportedly hiding under a bed. It is Observations’ belief the home was thoroughly searched initially, but the boy returned undetected to the hiding place where he was later found.

Involved in the several-days search were the Many Police Department, FBI, Florien Police Dept., Sabine Sheriff’s Office, Winn Parish Sheriff’s Dept. Chase Team, Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office, Louisiana State Police, Sabine Parish Fire Dept., other first responders and private citizens.

The First Baptist Church of Ft. Jesup provided pizzas to the group, Shannon’s Butcher Block fed the group their fine barbecue, and first responders used Many City Hall as a staging area, thanks to the courtesy of Mayor Robert Hable.

Following the initial investigation, Lillian Quenetta Smith, 40, was arrested on charges of two counts of Cruelty to juveniles.

The El Camino Real Sale on the Trail is upcoming the first weekend in May. Make plans to sell or shop now.

The 16th annual El Camino Real Sale on the Trail will take place Friday and Saturday, May 3 and 4, along 100-plus miles of the historic El Camino Real de los Tejas from Natchitoches, LA, to Nacogdoches, TX.

Locals and visitors may travel the trail over the two days for hot sales and deals, food, vegetables, plants, flowers, art, antiques, and homemade, unique treasures. Along the trail, vendors will offer new and used items. Churches, civic groups, families, retail stores, and craftsmen along LA Hwy. 6 and TX Hwy. 21 are encouraged to have sidewalk and roadside sales, as well as garage and yard sales.

If you’re interested in participating in this year’s Sale on the Trail as a vendor, please read the instructions and complete the online registration form as well as view the hub locations at For further information, contact the Sabine Parish Tourist Commission at (318) 256-5880.

About the El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail

The El Camino Real is one of the most ancient roads in American history. Also called “The King’s Highway,” the road travels east to west from Natchitoches, LA to Mexico City. Its path crosses directly through downtown Many in Sabine Parish, also traveling through Milam in Sabine County, TX. It was designated as a National Historic Trail in 2004.

The Spaniards and the French who marked the trail were followed by such men as Stephen F. Austin, Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, and early missionaries of multiple faiths. An abundance of historic cities awaits the modern-day traveler on the El Camino Real.

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



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