Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Baldridge Dumas Communications and Observations announce the launch of a new Observations website effective next week. Observations is written by longtime journalist and former Sabine Index owner Robert Gentry. It is now in its 66th year.  Since November 2018, Observations has been hosted on the BDC website, receiving thousands of views each week. Today’s post is the final issue to appear on

With the launch of a new site, the column will now have its own platform, and a link to each weekly publication will be offered on The Cenla Report, depended on across Louisiana and throughout the South for trusted news. 

Robert Gentry expressed his thanks to Tedd Dumas and BDC for their unwavering support of Observations over the past five years. 

With the establishment of the new website, Robert looks forward to the opportunity to serve the readers of The Cenla Report in addition to his column’s faithful followers. A weekly link to Observations will be provided on The Cenla Report on Tuesday evenings, as always, to the weekly Wednesday posting of Observations – News, Views, Facts and Opinions by Robert Gentry.

Robert Gentry may be reached at (318) 332-8653 or

Fewer registered voters took part on Election Day, in early voting and by mail this election.

Elections in Sabine Parish continue to have less voter participation.  According to Registrar of Voters Zach Faircloth, only 45% of the voters in Sabine turned out.  There are 14,491 registered voters and only 6,533 voted.  Compare that to 7683 who voted in the Oct. 12, 2019 election four years ago for a participation rate of 53.2%.

Mr. Faircloth said Police Jury District 6 had the highest turnout this election with a 50.4% participation rate, representing 933 electors.

There were 1,591 persons who voted early and 438 by mail in ballot.

An interesting thing happened in the race for Police Jury in Dist. 8.  John Remedies was the leading vote getter with 35.66%.  Now, both Daniel Procell and Rick Sepulvado came in second at exactly 32.17% each.  So, unless one of the candidates drop out, we understand all three will be on the ballot again in the run-off on Nov. 18.

Sheriff Aaron Mitchell got a big vote of confidence in his race for reelection.  He received 65.29% of the vote for a total of 4,266.  Jeff Evans came in second with 28.55%, and Coby Lang polled 8.16%.

Alan Seabaugh was victorious for State Senator from Dist.  31.  He polled 54.19% for a total of 16,982 votes.  In Sabine Parish, he received 63.15% of the vote for 3,994.  Mike McConathy received 14,355 votes district-wide for 45.81%.  In Sabine, McConathy polled 2,330 for 36.84%.

In the Dist. 24 State Representative race, Rodney Schamerhorn won reelection with 60.24% of the votes district-wide, and 1,989 in Sabine Parish for 63.47%.  Clarence Beebe got 19.76% in the district and in Sabine, he got 1,145 for 36.82%.

In District 7, Rep. Larry Bagley won re-election with 61.25%.  He received 1,719 votes in Sabine Parish for 55.92%.   Tim Pruitt received 38.75% in the District, and 1,355 votes in Sabine for 44.08%.

Ronny Bison won election as Police Juror from Dist. 5.  He received 413 votes for 45.38%, which was not a majority.  The second-place candidate, Pat Scarborough, who received 256 votes for 28.13%, announced Monday he would drop out of the race.  A third candidate, Kelly Stewart, got 241 votes for 26.48%.

Barry Stevens won the Police Jury Race in Dist. 2.  Eric Garcie won in Dist. 6.  Sabine Parish voters voted in favor of all four propositions on the ballot.

It was surprising to many that Attorney General Jeff Landy won a first primary victory for Governor.  He carried Sabine in a big way with 77.99% of the vote.  Billy Nungesser won reelection as Lt. Governor carrying Sabine with 71.22%.

Picture of the Past

The Father of Bluegrass Bill Monroe, left, after deer hunting in this area back in 1968. At right is Steve Birdwell of Marthaville.

Bill Monroe, known as “The Father of Bluegrass Music,” came down to Many in November 1968 and spent a week with me. While here, he and his band, The Bluegrass Boys, performed in the area.

On Monday, Nov. 25, 1968, the late Wilmer Birdwell took Bill deer hunting somewhere around Marthaville. This Picture of the Past is one I took that day of Bill and his deer afterward. It is interesting to note the young lad at right in the picture is Steve Birdwell of Marthaville. Steve, who is now a fine musician and singer in his own right, is the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Herman Birdwell of Marthaville.

On that night after deer hunting, Bill and his band went to Hoyt Birdwell and Foster Jennings’ camp house on Berry Brake near Ajax where they enjoyed a meal, visiting and presenting their music.  

Mr. Monroe died Sept. 9, 1996. His son James Monroe, also a Bluegrass performer, continues to live in Nashville.

Annual Haunted Museum promises spooky fun

Rebel State Historic Site in Marthaville is pleased to announce that their 22nd Annual Haunted Museum has been set for Oct. 20, 21, 27 and 28. Tours begin at 7 p.m. each Friday and Saturday night and end at 10 p.m. In keeping with a 22-year-long tradition, the Louisiana Country Music Museum will be converted into a spectacular, spooky dwelling inhabited by ghosts and goblins of all kinds for the Halloween season. So, come prepared to be terrified.

Also this year, there will be a haunted hayride, children’s activities, such as a rope maze and games. Concessions will be available. Admission is $4. Guests who are age 62 and over, and those age 3 and under are all admitted free.

For more information, please contact Rebel toll free at 1 (888) 677-3600 or at (318) 472-6255. The address is 1260 Hwy. 1221, Marthaville, LA  71450-3459.

From left, Rep. Charles Owen, Moon Griffon, Senator-Elect Alan Seabaugh and Rep. Rodney Schamerhorn at last week’s “Get Out the Vote” event in Many.

It was a great night last week when conservative radio talk show host Moon Griffon and now Senator-Elect Alan Seabaugh came to town. They teamed up for a “Get Out the Vote” effort on Wednesday night at Sabine Medical Center’s Conference Hall before Saturday’s election.

The last-minute gathering was amazingly well attended with lots of folks showing their support for the conservative cause in Louisiana government. Both men rallied the troops with an honest assessment of how conservatism can grow in Louisiana, and they called on those present to contact friends and relatives to be sure everyone voted on Saturday. Though overall voting numbers were down, their efforts certainly paid off for Seabaugh, who carried Sabine Parish in an impressive victory here.

Rep. Rodney Schamerhorn attended and spoke as well, as did Rep. Charles Owen. Also speaking during the evening were Mayor of Many Robert Hable and Sabine Sheriff Aaron Mitchell.

Visiting after the event organized by now Senator-Elect Alan Seabaugh, left, were Deputy District Attorney Anna Garcie Cash, center, and Rep. Rodney Schamerhorn.
Many Mayor Robert Hable, right, and wife Crystal, left, greeted radio talk show host and special guest Moon Griffon, center, after last week’s event.
Laura Seabaugh, left, and Pollie Brandon, right, posed for the camera with Rep. Rodney Schamerhorn after last Wednesday’s “Get Out the Vote” event.
Faithful Moon Griffon talk show listener and community leader Martha Henderson, right, enjoyed saying “hello” to Moon at evening’s end.

Picture of the Past… Lagniappe

This picture from about 29 years ago shows then-Chief Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Travis Bennett when he starred in a movie. It was a comedy produced by comedian Willie P. Richardson (David Stallings) of Nacogdoches, TX. By the way, that’s Travis at left.
You’re invited! Nancy Jones, widow of Country great George Jones, will be the guest of honor at an Autograph Party for her new book, “Playin’ Possum,” in Many on Nov. 11.

Excitement keeps building over Nancy Jones’ upcoming visit to Many next month. Nancy is the widow of Country music legend George Jones. The couple were married for 30 years. She is credited with saving his life and career, and a new book about their years together has just been released, “Playin’ Possum, My Memories of George Jones.”

An Autograph Party is slated for Saturday, Nov. 11, at Many City Hall from 10 a.m. until noon. The event will include an official Nancy Jones Welcome at 10 a.m., food, drink and recognition of veterans. Admission is free.

The book will be available at the party for $25, which is discounted off regular retail in celebration of Nancy’s homecoming. She is a native of Mansfield and looks forward to seeing family, old friends and co-workers from the days when she lived in northwest central Louisiana.

In her book, “Nancy sorts the legends from half-truths and downright lies about the iconic singer, sharing stories never before told.”

Everyone attending is invited to bring a veteran photo to display on a Veterans Day Table of Honor, a special part of the event, which falls on the holiday.

The Autograph Party is sponsored by ArkLaTex Financial Consultants, Senator Louie Bernard, BOM, Brandon Law Firm, Curtis Family Pharmacy and Foy Motors.

Also sponsoring the party are

Pete Abington, Many;

District Attorney Don Burkett, Sabine Parish;

Blake Byles, Earthmovers Construction, Many;

Dr. Leah V. Byles, Many;

Clauriste Byles Jr., Byles Welding & Tractor, Many;

James Cook, Crawfish Hole, Many;

Robert & Linda Davidson, Lagniappe Land Co./Circle D Tree Farm, Mansfield;

Attorney Dan Dyess, Many and Natchitoches;

Deputy District Attorney Anna Garcie, Sabine Parish;

Judge Verity Gentry, 11th Judicial District;

Good Gracious Apparel, Accessories & Flowers, Many;

Barry Guillet, Real Estate and Appraisal Service, Natchitoches;

Donald G. Kelly, Kelly & Townsend Law Firm, Natchitoches;

Sheriff Aaron Mitchell, Sabine Parish;

Chief Judge Elizabeth Pickett, Third Circuit Court of Appeal;

Clerk of Court Shelly Salter, Sabine Parish;

In Memory of Billy Wayne Sepeda by his Family;

Jeff Thomas, Thomas Law Firm, Natchitoches;

In Memory of Gerard F. Thomas, Legendary Natchitoches Attorney;

Assessor Chris Tidwell, Sabine Parish;

Chief Deputy Brad Walker, Sabine Parish; and

Buddy Wood, State Farm Insurance, Many.

We much appreciate the above businesses and individuals for their support of this effort. Looking forward to seeing everyone there!

“The Dirty South,” filmed primarily around Natchitoches, was awarded “Best Cinematography” following its premier last week at the Chelsea Film Festival in New York City. It was written and directed by Sabine native Matthew Yerby.
Matthew Yerby and girlfriend Presley Corley pose on the red carpet at the Chelsea Film Festival premier of his new movie, “The Dirty South.”

One of our own, Matthew Yerby, son of Linda Wright Yerby and the late Frank Yerby, was honored in New York City last week when his new film, “The Dirty South,” premiered at the Chelsea Film Festival on Oct. 12. The crime thriller was largely filmed around Natchitoches. It was announced early this week that the new movie and its cinematographer Jess Dunlap won “Best Cinematography” at the acclaimed festival.

“Faith is a real thing,” Yerby shared on social media after the premier. “My friends and I worked 5 years for this day. We believed this day would come to pass, and we overcame every obstacle that told us it wouldn’t. I’m beyond proud of this crew – Andrew Vogel, Suzann Petrongolo, Tyler Forrest, Spencer Brunson,” he said.

A few from this area attended the New York City premier, including Yerby’s girlfriend, Many native Presley Corley, and his mother, Linda Wright Yerby, among others.

Matthew Yerby and his mother, Linda Wright Yerby, on the night of his first film debut in New York City

The movie, which is Yerby’s first to write and direct, tells the story of a small-town big shot who goes after a family bar. The bartender, Sue Parker (Willa Holland), takes extreme measures to keep it.

Parker finds herself in a desperate battle to save her family’s struggling business, which is on the brink of collapse due to her father’s neglect. When Dion (Shane West), a handsome drifter, comes into town she sees him as the only chance to prevent their bar from falling into the hands of a ruthless local tycoon, Jeb Roy (Dermot Mulroney.) What starts as a simple plan to save her family, quickly spirals into larceny, lawlessness and deadly consequences.

Also featured in the film are Laura Cayouette, Wayne Pere, Mike Manning and others.

“Never in our wildest dreams could we have predicted a standing ovation at a black tie world premiere in New York City,” Yerby remarked. “The incredible support we received all along the way was once again present with us for our big night. To have 30-plus people show up in tuxedos and gowns on a weekday across the nation… I’m proud to say that’s where I’m from. The Dirty South shines up like diamonds when you let us,” he said.

The Louisiana premier of “The Dirty South” in Natchitoches on Thursday, Nov. 2, has been sold out since Oct 9. The official theater and streaming releases are set for Nov. 10.

We congratulate Matthew and everyone involved on the success of this project, and we appreciate his faithfulness to give credit to the One who makes it all possible with his always-present hashtag: #toGodbealltheglory. Looking forward to seeing “The Dirty South” on Nov. 2.

WE GET LETTERS. The following came from our longtime friend, Dr. Ronald Byrd, who recently visited this area.

“Robert, I just read where Landry won the governorship without needing a run-off, supposedly a great surprise. However, with several years of Democrat “leadership” in Louisiana coupled to what’s happening at the federal level, I’d have been amazed at Louisiana’s citizens agreeing to another term led by the new breed of Democrat. The old-time moderate Democrats seem to have disappeared and the leftists of today don’t resonate positively with the average Louisiana citizen.  This generates hope…we have to keep the faith and pray that the same kind of thing happens in upcoming federal elections! Hi to Laurie and others. Ronny”

Sheriff Mitchell announces narcotic, firearm arrests

Sheriff Aaron Mitchell announced last week felony narcotic and firearm arrests for the months of August and September 2023.

Almost one pound of suspected methamphetamine, over an ounce of marijuana, cocaine, approximately 189 Ecstasy pills, 24 Fentanyl pills, and various drug paraphernalia were seized during the last two months.

Arrested were:

Marlon Dewayne Williams, age 41, of Noble – Possession with intent to distribute Schedule I (Marijuana), Possession with intent to distribute Schedule II (Meth), Possession with intent to distribute Schedule II (Fentanyl), Possession with intent to distribute Schedule II (Ecstasy), Possession of schedule II (Cocaine), Possession of drug paraphernalia, Aggravated flight from an officer, Aggravated assault upon a peace officer with a motor vehicle, Resisting an officer, Littering, Operating vehicle while license is suspended and No seatbelt.

Bond was set at $70,000, and he bonded.

Austin Kyle Gaspard, age 39, of Pleasant Hill – Possession of schedule II (Meth), Possession of drug paraphernalia, Expired MVI and Illegal window tint.

Bond was set at $1,500, and he bonded.

Phanon Wardean Maxie, age 46, of Many – Warrant for three counts of Distribution of schedule II (Meth).

Bonded was set at $15,000, and he remains in jail.

Brandon Eugene Kavanagh, age 30, of Many – Aggravated Burglary, Theft of a firearm, Possession of A firearm by person convicted of domestic abuse, and three counts of Entry or remaining after being forbidden.

Bond was set at $3,500, and he remains in jail.

Freddie Shaun Terrell, age 43, of Pleasant Hill – Possession of a firearm by person convicted of certain felonies and Resisting an officer.

Bond was set at $10,000, and he bonded.

Raymond Percy Bass Jr., age 67, of Zwolle – Possession of schedule I (Marijuana), Possession of schedule II (Meth), Possession of drug paraphernalia and Vehicles without required equipment or in unsafe condition.

No bond was set, and he is currently at Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse (CADA.)

Bounpone Phathong, age 62, of Zwolle – Warrant of Distribution of schedule II (Meth).

Bond was set at $10,000, and he bonded.

Sheriff Mitchell noted that during the last three years, 50 federal indictments have been obtained. Of those, 26 have been sentenced to federal prison, five have pled guilty and are waiting for sentencing, two are awaiting trial, and 17 are waiting to plea.

Sheriff Mitchell commends his entire staff of Deputies for their hard work and dedication to the citizens of Sabine Parish.

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

[NOTE: Bond amounts are based on several factors, including arrest, the defendant’s criminal background and the likelihood of flight before trial. The bond amount is not a punishment, but an amount to make sure the defendant appears in court for the criminal proceedings. Generally, the higher the risk of non-appearance before the court, the higher the bond.]


Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin reminds voters that the deadlines to register to vote in the Nov. 18 General Election are fast approaching. The deadline to register in person, by mail or at the OMV Office is today, Wednesday, Oct. 18. The deadline to register through the GeauxVote Online Registration System is Saturday, Oct. 28. This deadline is for citizens who have never registered to vote, as well as voters who would like to make changes to their registration.

Citizens may check their registration or register to vote online at After registering, voters should download the GeauxVote Mobile smartphone app. The app provides registration information as well as voting districts, sample ballots, polling place information and election results.

Early voting for the Nov. 18 election will take place Friday, Nov. 3 through Saturday, Nov. 11 (excluding Sunday, Nov. 5, and Friday, Nov. 10 for Veterans Day), from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information, or to report potential polling place accessibility issues, please call the Elections Hotline at 800-883-2805, with TDD/TTY access at 711, or email the Elections Division at

(Special thanks to longtime friend and Sec. Ardoin’s Chief of Staff Joe Salter for the above information.)


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