Friday, April 3, 2020

Due to these strange times and an abundance of news, Observations will be posted every Tuesday and Friday for the immediate future.

Attorney General Jeff Landry

If you are a regular reader of Observations, you have kept up with our reporting on the happenings at the Sabine Association for Retarded Citizens (SARC).  The State Attorney General’s Office Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigated and filed charges against Roderick Davis Sr. and his two adult children. Sabine District Attorney Don Burkett said the Attorney General’s Office prosecuted the case, at their request, in East Baton Rouge Parish Court.

On Feb. 20, Davis Sr. pleaded guilty to two counts of Medicaid Fraud and was sentenced before Judge Tarvaid Smith. Davis was sentenced to one year supervised probation with the following conditions: full restitution of $8,635.54, a fine of $1,000, $414.75 court costs and $7,500 cost of prosecution. He will be supervised by the Office of Probation and Parole. A review of Davis has been set for May 20. As a result of his conviction, Davis can no longer serve on the Sabine Parish School Board.

The news release from the Attorney General’s Office did not include the information that charges against Davis’ two adult children were dropped. Nor did it mention that SARC paid Davis $25,000 in accumulated salary when he was fired.

A lot of folks in Sabine Parish were not satisfied with the sentence. Mind you, the Attorney General’s Office had to also agree to Davis’ guilty plea beforehand and was aware what sentence the Judge would be handing down. We have heard from elected officials, SARC officials and members of the public who are not at all satisfied with the sentence.

Observations wrote Landry on March 13 and asked two simple questions: 1.  Why were charges dropped against Davis’ two adult children?  2.  Roderick Davis Sr.’s actions were against mentally retarded and handicapped people. Why do you consider his sentence just? 

Guess what?  The Attorney General didn’t respond.

On March 19, Observations again sent the same two questions to Landry. Guess what? Once again, he never responded.

Then on March 27, Observations sent a communication which included “Third and Final Request for answers to questions that people in Sabine Parish are concerned about. Article will be posted next week whether or not you respond. You have an obligation to let the public know.” Guess what? You guessed it. No response again.

I have been in this business a long time. And I have always found when public officials won’t answer a question, it means they have no good answer. So, the next time Landry starts crowing about what a great job he is doing with the Medicaid Fraud Unit, remind him of this. And remind him that he didn’t even have the cojones to answer two simple questions. Don’t forget he’s got his eye on a run for the Governor’s office next go-round.

Many Mayor Ken Freeman announced earlier this week that in an effort to control the cononavirus within the city limits, an enforced curfew would be declared starting Wednesday. The curfew is in effect until May 1. The curfew covers all businesses and citizens within the city limits, including Hwy. 6, Hwy. 171 and San Antonio Ave. The curfew is from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. and applies to all persons, except those going to and coming from work and those in emergency situations.

The Mayor stated, “I hope people will stay home and reduce the spread of the coronavirus. We all must work together as a community to protect ourselves from this deadly virus.”

The Many Council met Thursday and in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the town will enforce Gov. John Bel Edwards’ order of no public gatherings. The motion was made by James Kennedy and seconded by Anita Darwin and passed unanimously.

The resolution states:  “Restriction on public gatherings (no face-to-face contact) to include churches, theater, public meetings and bars until April 30 with the possibility of an extension.” The Mayor stated, “Please understand that this will be enforced.”

The Town of Many has hired Suzanne Williams to explain and guide both citizens and merchants on how to take advantage of the Federal Government’s $2 trillion-plus rescue package. Interested persons should call Sandra Neel at (318) 256-4019 to set up a phone appointment with Ms. Williams.

Topics include:  Individuals, IRS benefit and unemployment benefits; Small Business, less than 500 employees; Payroll Protection Program, with loan forgiveness; Employee Retention Credit; Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLS); Debt Relief for existing and new SBA borrowers; Delay of Payroll Tax Payments; Support for Business Suffering Losses; and Encouragement to Business to Invest.

The Post Office in Many has installed a clear plastic shield across the customer service counter to protect both customers and employees from possibly transmitting the coronavirus.

LATEST FROM DISTRICT ATTORNEY DON BURKETT:  As of late Thursday afternoon, there were four confirmed cases of coronavirus in Sabine Parish. One person is hospitalized and three are quarantined at home. In addition, there remain other tests results that are outstanding.

DA Burkett said David Davis, head of Homeland Security in Sabine Parish, is trying to get more test kits, but thus far has not been able to because Sabine is a rural parish and lots of cases have not been reported at this time.

Thursday afternoon was the deadline for visitors from South Louisiana who came to Toledo Bend Lake to avoid the coronavirus to return home. The Police Jury issued such a proclamation earlier in the week for those renting around the lake who had been in a rental for less than 14 days. Burkett said he has received reports that now fewer persons are in the lake area. One visitor tested positive for the Coronavirus and was ordered to stay in place for 14 days. “We deeply regret having to ask our visitors to leave,” he stated. “We hope we can lift this soon.”

The District Attorney said Walmart has restricted customer access to only one door to enter and exit the store now. It is the door on the south end of the building. In addition, they are marking off spaces inside to ensure customers to stay at least six feet apart. “They have been very cooperative,” he stated.

Burkett said he talks to Davis, Sheriff Ronny Richardson, who is getting more involved, and others on a daily basis.

In closing, Burkett said he had talked to Judge Stephen Beasley about re-evaluating District Court closure. He said this is the Judge’s decision, and it should be forthcoming.

The District Attorney’s Office is still open daily from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. for phone or internet communication. He noted that the Sheriff’s Office has not been making any arrests for the past couple of days.

Sales Tax Collector Nolan Rivers has issued the Sales Tax report for March. The change in the report is reflected against the same month last year. The report shows collections in the towns of Zwolle, Converse and Pleasant Hill were down. The amount collected by the Sabine Tourist Commission was also down. If you think down is down, just wait until next month’s report.

Robbie Primm, right, and his father Bobby, left, are shown in this photo from August 2007. Their roots run deep in Sabine Parish.
Robbie Primm plays steel guitar with the great Gene Watson, one of Country music’s most enduring artists. He is shown here, center each photo, with Gene and the Farewell Party Band at the Grand Ole Opry, left, and on the road, right.

A guy whose roots run deep in Sabine Parish plays steel guitar with Country music great Gene Watson.  Robbie Primm joined Watson’s Farewell Party Band in December 2009. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Bobby Primm and grandson of the late J. P. and Arlee Primm who lived off the Marthaville Hwy. on Primm Rd.

The elder Primm, Bobby, was born in Fisher, but his family moved to Many in the early 1950s. He went to Many High, attended Northwestern and moved to Shreveport in 1961. He married the former Patricia Zmek and when their only son Robbie was born in 1963, J. P. was so proud. Bobby worked for chain Battery, Piggly Wiggly Warehouse and Bluegrass Liquor before retiring.

Through the years, Bobby has been a one-man Country music history show performing at retirement villages, nursing homes, step down centers and other places. He sometimes performs as many as 30-40 shows a month in Shreveport, Bossier, Texarkana, Alexandria, Carthage and Marshall. And by the way, Bobby is now 76 years old.

Bobby worked in a group called The Three P’s.  It included his brother Herman Primm and Dorsey Parker. They played a venue called the Homer Hayride as well as the Keithville Jamboree.

Robbie recalled, “I was six-months-old when he started playing the steel guitar. Herman and Dorsey taught him.” He continued, “By the time I was five-years-old I was drumming and singing. My first performance was at Rebel Park at Marthaville when David Houston was performing there. They put me up on a chair and I sang ‘Silver Wings.’ Two very noted musicians were playing with David. They were steel guitar player Pee Wee Rogers and electric guitarist Jack Pruitt. The Index carried a picture of me and I still have it.”

Through the years, Bobby Primm performed on several shows at Rebel Park, inkling when Ernest Tubb and Leona Williams performed. He remembered Johnny Cox playing steel with Ernest. He concluded, “Performing at Rebel Park was a big event back then.” Robbie said the first show he played with Gene Watson was the Grand Ole Opry, and he again saw Pee Wee Rogers who was waiting to go on stage with the late Little Jimmy Dickens.

Robbie got his first pedal steel guitar on his tenth birthday, June 12, 1973. He recalled, “I took lessons from Jim Hurley at Walker and Rodie Music Store in Bossier City. I took one hour per week for six months. My dad had a group together, and Mr. Hurley told him the only way I could learn to play was to get on stage and play. Half the band quit because they didn’t want to play with a kid.”

His first professional job was at American Legion Lowe-McFarland Post No. 14 in Shreveport. In addition, they played in Logansport, Mansfield, Pleasant Hill, Shreveport and at other places. “We played somewhere every weekend,” Robbie said. In 1996, Bobby had a bad car wreck and quit the music business.

After the wreck, Robbie started freelancing. He played on Opry Shows, with the Heart of Texas Band, and at Kirbyville for 10 years. He worked the Rice Theater in Crowley with the late Jimmy C. Newman. He is an honorary member of Ernest Tubb’s great band, The Texas Troubadours, including his proud ownership of a jacket for legendary steel guitar player Lynn Owsley. Robbie also did some dates with another Tubb steel player, Johnny Cox.

Robbie first joined Gene Watson in Dec. 2009 and the first show he played was the Grand Ole Opry. “I left Gene at the end of 2010,” Robbie explains, “but re-joined in December 2017.” During the period he was not with Watson, he worked with Jody Nix and the Texas Cowboys in Big Spring; Kelly Spinks and Miles of Texas for three years in Brownwood; and with Johnny Bush in Austin. During this time he also worked some Louisiana Hayride Shows.

Robbie said he enjoys his work with Gene Watson. Said he, “I ain’t going anywhere this time.” And in closing, he remembered his roots in Sabine and said, “My Papaw Primm believed in me – big time.”

I always welcome your thoughts and suggestions for future Observations. Call me at (318) 332-8653 or send an email to robertrgentry@gmail.com. To print, save or send today’s column, click on the appropriate icon below. To see Observations of the last few years, follow the pages below. To see early ones, visit our Facebook page, where they are archived by date under Photo Albums. As always, thanks for faithfully reading.

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