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Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Easter is here again, and we wish you a happy one this Sunday, March 31. Hard to believe this year is passing so quickly. Below is a writing by Hans J. Hillebrand, fact-checked by the Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. We hope you enjoy his history of the term “Easter” and the related Holy Week information.

“Easter [is the] principal festival of the Christian church, which celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his Crucifixion. The earliest recorded observance of an Easter celebration comes from the 2nd century, though the commemoration of Jesus’ Resurrection probably occurred earlier.

“The English word ‘Easter,’ which parallels the German word ‘Ostern,’ is of uncertain origin. One view, expounded by the Venerable Bede in the 8th century, was that it derived from ‘Eostre,’ or ‘Eostrae,’ the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility. This view presumes - as does the view associating the origin of Christmas on December 25 with pagan celebrations of the winter solstice - that Christians appropriated pagan names and holidays for their highest festivals. Given the determination with which Christians combated all forms of paganism (the belief in multiple deities), this appears a rather dubious presumption.

“There is now widespread consensus that the word derives from the Christian designation of Easter week as in ‘albis,’ a Latin phrase that was understood as the plural of alba (‘dawn’) and became ‘eostarum’ in Old High German, the precursor of the modern German and English term. The Latin and Greek Pascha (‘Passover’) provides the root for ‘Pâques,’ the French word for Easter.”

Holy Week

Christians around the world will celebrate the resurrection of Christ from his burial tomb some 2,050 years ago to conclude this Holy Week on Sunday, March 31. It began last Sunday with “Palm Sunday,” the day observing Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem on a donkey. Crowds welcomed his arrival with palm branches and cries of “Hosanna,” perhaps thinking after a three-year ministry of miracles, signs and authoritative preaching, that Jesus might be coming to Jerusalem to finally overthrow the oppressive Roman government and become King.

On Monday of that week Jesus drove out those who were buying and selling in the temple, overturning tables in anger as the merchants and tax collectors deceitfully profited from innocent worshippers coming to offer sacrifices. We learned from Pastor Billy Gibbs’ sermon last Sunday at Alford Heights Baptist, that in today’s funds, it would have been the equivalent of about $4 million dollars that Jesus spilled to the floor during his outburst. It was then that temple leadership began actively plotting his murder.

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day felt very threatened by his ministry and sought to kill him, but initially they did not feel they had enough public support to simply take him. On Tuesday of Holy Week, the authority of Jesus’ teachings was challenged publicly by the chief priests. He answered them mostly in parables, which could not be properly understood until after his death and resurrection. Public sentiment began to turn, too, as many thought Jesus might be a fraud since scriptures had clearly said the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. They did not know Jesus’ birthplace but, instead, knew him to be from Nazareth in Galilee where he was raised by his parents, mother Mary and earthly father, Joseph. The common people may have also been dismayed and disappointed that Jesus had not come in triumph and begun his work to overthrow the government, as they had hoped and expected.

On Thursday of Holy Week, Jesus celebrated the Passover meal, “the Last Supper,” with his closest disciples and explained many things which were about to happen. At their Passover meal, Jesus gave new, spiritual meaning to “my flesh” and “my blood.” This meal is still celebrated in Christian churches today with bread and wine [grape juice] at communion. The sacrament remembers Jesus’ crucifixion, God’s ultimate sacrifice to bear the sins of all mankind, and it honors Jesus' request to "do this in remembrance of me." 

On Friday of Holy Week, Christ was crucified and afterward laid in a guarded, sealed tomb.

On that first Easter Sunday, several women disciples came to visit Jesus’ tomb with burial spices and to grieve. They found the sealing stone rolled away, the tomb empty, and two angels appeared as “shining” men who told the women that Jesus was not there, but alive.

As you celebrate this Easter with family and friends, may your hearts be blessed with words of the old hymn we used to sing at church every Easter Sunday:

He lives, He lives,

Christ Jesus lives today.

He walks with me and talks with me

Along life’s narrow way.

He lives, He lives,

Salvation to impart.

You ask me how I know he lives,

He lives within my heart.


“For God so loved the world that He gave his only one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 NIV

Jere Longman, shown above, reporter for The New York Times, recently visited Observations seeking information for an upcoming Sabine Parish basketball documentary.

Jere Longman, a reporter for The New York Times, was a visitor in Sabine Parish last week doing research for a documentary he is doing on basketball in the parish during the 1960s and ‘70s.  He dropped by to visit with Observations on Friday afternoon and reported that he had a successful time and lunch with Dale Skinner, Larry Skinner, Asa Skinner, among other, in Natchitoches on Thursday.

A native of Eunice, Jere has been working for the Times for 30 years.  Prior to that he worked for newspapers in Dallas and Jackson, MS.

Jere is interested in anyone who might have film, newspaper clippings or stories about basketball in Sabine Parish of that golden era.  He is especially interested in the Jan. 29, 1970, game between Ebarb and Elizabeth when Greg Procell scored 100 points.  He is also interested in the 1970 State Championship between Ebarb and Pleasant with a winning score of 89-88.  It is said that Walter “Tootsie Roll” Meshell scored the winning shot at the end of the game.

Plans now are for him and his team to be back in August to start filming.

Anyone having any information may contact Jere at (610) 574-3206 or by email at

Sheriff Aaron Mitchell recently reported the arrest of Marcus Burrell Turner, age 40, of Pleasant Hill on Thursday evening, March 21.

The Sabine Parish Sheriff Tactical Narcotics Team (TNT) had been investigating Turner’s illegal drug sales activity for the past six months, which resulted in their obtaining a search warrant for Turner’s home on Texas Street in the Village of Pleasant Hill.

Agents located and seized suspected marijuana, methamphetamine, measuring scales, drug packaging material, and firearm ammunition. Turner's vehicle was also seized as a result of the narcotic investigation.

Turner was booked into the Sabine Parish Detention Center for:  Possession with intent to distribute schedule I (Marijuana), Possession with intent to distribute schedule II (Meth), and Possession of drug paraphernalia.

Arrest warrants for five counts of Distribution of schedule II (Meth) are pending.

As of press deadline, no bond had been set.

Sheriff Mitchell pointed out that drug dealers' money, home(s), vehicle(s), and property can be seized depending on the circumstances in certain illegal narcotic investigations. The goal is to take away as many of the assets as possible from these drug dealers. The money and property can later be used by the Sheriff’s Department to fund future illegal drug investigations, provide restitution for victims, and/or may be sold.

If the public has any information of illegal drug activity, they are asked to please submit an anonymous tip through the free Sabine Parish Sheriff App.

(Thanks to Det. D. W. Seegers for providing the above material.)

SENTENCED: Lionel George Somersall

On March 19, Sheriff Aaron Mitchell announced that Lionel George Somersall Jr., age 47, of Many was sentenced to16 years and three months in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release in United States District Court, Western District of Louisiana in Shreveport.

Somersall was convicted of Possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and Possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime.

The case unfolded back on September 13, 2021, when Somersall and a female were driving in a vehicle which did not have a proper license plate, and Sabine Parish Sheriff Tactical Narcotics Team (TNT) Agents performed a traffic stop of the vehicle.

Somersall was driving and did not have a valid driver’s license. The Sheriff K-9 was brought to the scene and the dog alerted to the presence of narcotics in the vehicle.

During a search of the vehicle, TNT Agents found a Charter Arms .38 Special revolver inside. Both Somersall and his passenger were convicted felons and as such, are prohibited from possessing a firearm.

Agents then conducted a search of the gun’s history and found it had been reported stolen. Somersall and his passenger were both arrested.

TNT Agents learned during their investigation that Somersall’s passenger told a co-defendant that she had thrown a bag of illegal drugs out of the window of the vehicle prior to being stopped that day. A subsequent search was conducted of the area, and Agents found a bag containing ammunition and receipts belonging to Somersall. In addition, TNT Agents discovered approximately 170 grams of methamphetamine inside the bag.

The Sabine Parish Sheriff Digital Forensics Unit was able to examine Somersall’s phone and discovered text messages discussing the distribution of methamphetamine.

Somersall also later admitted to TNT Agents that he possessed the firearm located inside the vehicle.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in Shreveport.

The investigation and conviction of Somersall is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

Sheriff Mitchell said the Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office remains unyielding in the fight against illegal narcotics in Sabine Parish. The Sheriff said he will continue to use federal resources to prosecute felony firearm and illegal narcotic crimes to put these dangerous criminals behind bars where they belong.

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

The Rev. William Nash of Mangham, LA

The Rev. Bill Nash is pastor of Glad Tidings Pentecostal Church in Mangham.  He is honored to have lead prayer in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the Louisiana Legislature where he is Honorary Chaplain.

Now, he has been invited to pray in the U.S. Senate at the request of Sen. John Kennedy.  He is asking that friends who read Observations, interested Christians and other who may feel led to make a donation to help cover his expenses.  He said any amount is greatly appreciated.

Interested persons can call him at (318) 477-0132, email or write him at P. O. Box 345, Mangham, LA 71259.  Anything you can do will be very much appreciated by Bro. Bill.

Brother Nash is a student of Louisiana politics and has written books about Congressman Otto Passman, Gov. Sam Jones and The Battle of the Longs.  Currently he is finishing a book on Gov. John J. McKeithen.

Cecil Mills, above, has applied for a patent on a motor that does not use gasoline or oil.

Cecil Mills of Mills Hill at Converse has sent a letter to Mary Barra, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at General Motors concerning his invention of a motor that runs on hydrogen peroxide with water added. It does not use gasoline or oil. He termed his effort “The Cars People Want vs. I’m Not Buying That.”

Mills said his invention is pollution-free, positive emissions only O2, powerful and efficient, simple, cheap and profitable.

In his letter Mills wrote, “Our government can bankroll battery and fuel cell cars, but that won’t make people want them.  If GM had an exclusive on an engine that was cleaner than battery cars, simpler than hydrogen cars and cheaper than gasoline cars, you would attract private investment and sell more cars.”

Mills applied for a patent for the motor on Sept. 1, 2022.

Anyone interested in talking to Cecil about the motor may call him at (318) 214-1142.

SENTENCED: Sergio A. Valdez

Sheriff Aaron Mitchell recently announced that Sergio A. Valdez, age 28, of Zwolle was sentenced to 7 years, three months, followed by three years of supervised release by the United States District Court, Western District of Louisiana in Shreveport on March 20.

Valdez was convicted of Distribution of Methamphetamine.

His case began on March 22, 2023, when federal and state law enforcement agents conducted a controlled purchase of methamphetamine from Valdez in Sabine Parish.

Agents were able to obtain information that Valdez sold an individual methamphetamine outside of his home. The drugs which were sold by Valdez were sent to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Southeast Laboratory for testing and found to have a net weight of approximately two ounces of pure methamphetamine.

A federal grand jury returned an indictment on June 28 of last year, charging Valdez with one count of Distribution of methamphetamine and he pleaded guilty to the charge last November 7.

The case was investigated by the FBI and Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office, and it was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in Shreveport.

Sheriff Mitchell noted this was the second federal prison sentence handed down within two days recently and that there will be more sentences to come in the next few months.

(Thank you to Det. D. W. Seegers for the information above.)

Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's Office seeks the public's help to locate Steven Burkett, shown above, who has been missing since February 2022.

A two-year investigation into the suspicious disappearance of Steven Burkett continues by the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office.  He disappeared from the 100 block of Eddie Williams Rd. at Marthaville in the early morning hours of Feb. 12, 2022. At the time of his disappearance over two years ago, he was age 49, 5’ 11’’ and weighed 175 lbs.  He had medium length brown hair.  Burkett is a white male.

Burkett was reportedly last seen driving a dark gray GMC 4x4 pickup truck with fender flares and a decal in the rear glass.

On four occasions, Natchitoches Parish Deputies, along with assistance from the Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office and Many Police Department and others searched separate locations on Preston Hayes Rd. and other areas, but with no success.

Natchitoches Parish Sheriff Stuart Wright said any information would be appreciated.  Persons may call the Sheriff’s Office at (318) 357-7830 or Natchitoches Crime Stoppers at (318) 238-2388.  Persons calling may be eligible for a reward.

Champion swimmer Miss Ella Freeman

USA Swimming Scholastic All-American Ella Freeman, granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ken Freeman of Many, has announced her verbal commitment to further her education and swimming career at Texas A&M University, according to a March 19 article by Sidney Zacharias for Swim Swam.

The piece quoted Ella, “I am beyond excited to announce my verbal commitment to continue my academic and athletic career at Texas A&M University. First, and most importantly, I would like to thank God for blessing me with this incredible opportunity. I would also like to thank my family, friends, and coaches for supporting me throughout this process and helping me get to where I am today. I cannot wait to see what this next season in life holds! GIG’EM!”

Freeman is the daughter of Peyton and Teresa Freeman of Rockwall, TX. Her father, Peyton, is originally from Many.

The article noted that she swims a range of events, but her best is the 400m IM, “where she owns a Winter U.S. Open cut. She is also a Winter Juniors qualifier in the 200m IM, as well as has Future cuts in the 200 breast, 100 fly, and 200m back.”

So far, Ella Freeman is Texas A&M’s only public commitment for the class of 2029.

A large group of Sabine Retired Teachers honored Ms. Evelyn Bush, seated at the head of the table, on Thursday.

Several members of Sabine Retired Teachers met last Thursday, March 21, at Cypress Bend Resort to honor Ms. Evelyn Bush for being a superb teacher from 1949 until 1975. Our friend and retired educator Martha Henderson said everyone had a nice lunch and enjoyed reminiscing about the good, old times.

Pictured congratulating Ms. Evelyn Bush, seated, are from left, Ms. Alma Cross, Sabine School Board President Kowonno Greene, Gloria Ruffin and Sabine Parish Police Jury Vice- Pres. William Ruffin. Ms. Bush was honored by the Sabine Hall of Fame with a special Tribute Award on Tuesday evening, March 26, at their annual banquet, which was also held at Cypress Bend.

According to an announcement made Sunday by the new Fish-n-Fuel property at the intersection of Hwy. 6 and Hwy. 191 in Toledo Town, good progress has been made in attracting prime businesses to the complex.

They shared on Sunday, “Great News!  We now have letters of intent with some great businesses to add to our Fish-n-Fuel convenience store and strip mall in Toledo Bend!

“It is with great pleasure we announce Whataburger and a daiquiri store, ‘Hook Setter,’ are on board to open in our strip mall! Both will have a drive through as well as walk in [service.]

“In addition, we will have Quiznos and a bait and tackle store, ‘Bait & Bobbers’.”

They report dirt work is nearing completion and construction should start shortly.



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