Wednesday, August 10, 2022

High Speed Broadband Service Expanding in Sabine Parish

One objective of the national COVID recovery response was to increase the availability of broadband to underserved rural areas of the country. The Sabine Parish Economic Development Committee (EDC) and the Sabine Parish Police Jury have been working diligently with broadband service providers to implement high speed internet in Sabine Parish.

In late 2021, the State of Louisiana announced the availability of funds through the GUMBO Program that could be obtained on a competitive basis, leveraging American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds used as a matching source. On July 27, 2022, the state announced that Sabine Parish won competitive bids for $20,730,735 in broadband projects. The awards went to two broadband service providers. The projects will make broadband available to 4,561 homes and businesses. These service providers were also awarded grants from the FCC Rural Digital Opportunity Fund for projects in Sabine Parish totaling $17,795,000 and estimated to service 8,606 homes and businesses.

By partnering with state, federal and private business the Sabine Parish EDC and the Sabine Parish Police Jury will make it possible for more than 13,000 homes and businesses in Sabine Parish to have access to broadband in the future.

(Special thanks to Sabine Police Jury Pres. Mike McCormic for the above information.)

Steve Birdwell of Marthaville did something unusual recently.  He was moving some building materials and came in contact with a rattlesnake, which he killed.  He noticed the snake had a pouch extruding and cut it open to see what was there.  And out came 12 baby rattlers.  He chased them down and killed them all.

In doing some research, we found that the rattlers in this area are called timber or canebrake rattlers.  Rattlesnakes hatch from eggs carried inside the female and she gives birth to live offspring.

The gestation period for most rattlers is 90 days, but the timber rattler can remain pregnant longer, sometimes up to five months.

A brood of four to ten babies are usually born wrapped up in a membrane from which they quickly free themselves.

At birth, the babies are usually well-developed and independent.  They are born with one rattler and each time they shed their skin – every one to two years, they add another rattler.  The babies stay relatively close to their mother until they are about one week old, and they shed their skin.  Then off they go.

Signs Along Life’s Highway

We saw this Mission Statement in the office of District Attorney Don Burkett recently. Well said, Don.

Picture from the Past

The late Vonnie Bruce of the Bethany Community near Marthaville is shown riding his horse in this Picture from the Past.  He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Tom Bruce.  He died on March 8, 1972 at the young age of only 47.  He was married to the former Nellie Fay Jordan and they had one son, William Jackson “Butch” Bruce.  Vonnie is buried in the Bethany Cemetery.

The Many Police Department (MPD) had a rather exciting morning last Wednesday when an alleged carjacker from New Hampshire sped through the Town of Many city limits headed south.

On Aug. 3, at approximately 8:25 a.m., MPD officer Calvin Hay was conducting stationary radar on Hwy. 171 North.  He observed a 2021 White Nissan Titan pickup traveling at a high rate of speed in the south bound lane. Radar indicated the truck was doing 63 in a 45-mph zone.

The officer initiated his lights in order to pull the driver over, but the driver did not respond.  Officer Hay witnessed the vehicle swerving from one lane to the next without proper signals and at high speeds. He continued to try to get the driver to pull over and stop.  When it became apparent the driver would not stop and was leaving the Town of Many limits, Officer Hay contacted dispatch with an update of the vehicle’s movements.

It was learned the vehicle had been carjacked earlier that morning in Shreveport by an individual wielding a knife on Jewella Ave.

Officer Hay then notified the Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office (SPSO) dispatch that he and the vehicle he was after were exiting the Town of Many limits, and SPSO deputies then joined the pursuit. 

The chase continued through Florien and other municipalities into Vernon Parish.  MPD had two units involved, and the SPSO had multiple units involved.  Officers from the Many Police Dept., Sabine Parish Sheriff’s office, Anacoco Police Dept., Louisiana State Police, Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office and Vernon Parish Narcotics Task Force ultimately all worked together to bring the vehicle to a stop.

“During the pursuit, the driver aggressively tried to ram police units and drove southbound in the northbound lanes of Hwy. 171 through Hornbeck and Anacoco towards Leesville,” Many Chief of Police Cheryl Wooley reported. “The driver also avoided spike strips at least twice before entering Vernon Parish.  The Sabine Sheriff’s Office and Louisiana State Police attempted pursuit intervention techniques, but they were unsuccessful.  It was reported the driver would sometimes laugh and wave when officers tried to stop him,” she said.

After crossing the Vernon Lake bridge, a Sabine patrol deputy who was attempting to get civilian drivers out of the travel lane, was rammed twice by the suspect, which caused the unit to leave the roadway and become disabled on its side in a ditch.  A female Vernon Parish narcotics agent then struck Machado’s vehicle head-on, which resulted in finally stopping his vehicle a couple of miles north of Leesville.  Officers from multiple agencies surrounded the vehicle and were forced to break out the driver’s window to remove the man from the vehicle.

When apprehended, the suspect was taken to the Vernon Parish Detention Center.  He initially refused to identify himself, and he had no identification on him or in the stolen pickup.  He also had no wallet and no cash or credit cards, so it was uncertain what his future plans might have been. 

The driver was eventually identified as James A. Machado Jr. of New Hampshire.  Machado has a criminal history in New Hampshire and Massachusetts for various felony charges.  It has not been determined how long Machado had been in Louisiana before the carjacking in Shreveport.

The Many Police Dept. charged Machado with Speeding, Driving under suspension, Reckless operation, Aggravated flight from an officer and Possession of stolen property.  Multiple other agencies have also filed charges.  He currently remains in Vernon Parish awaiting transfer to Sabine Parish and Shreveport.

“This is an example of what you can run across in law enforcement, even in a small town. A routine traffic stop can lead to an arrest for a much more serious crime. Officer Hay is to be commended for his diligence,” Wooley said. “It is safe to say the actions that Officer Hay initiated may have prevented another citizen from being [victimized],” she said.

One of the Official 90th Birthday portraits from the late Gov. Edwin Edwards’ milestone birthday party back in 2017. Gov. Edwards holds son Eli on his lap; wife Trina is shown behind.

Sunday, August 7, would have been Edwin W. Edwards’ 95th birthday. The four-time Louisiana governor died just a little more than a year ago. His birthday this year brought back memories of the gentleman I was fortunate enough to call my friend for more than 50 years. My wife Laurie and I, at his request, put together his 90th Birthday Party in Baton Rouge. It was a lot of fun. We had over 550 patron friends attend who wished to honor the living legend and celebrate his birthday milestone. The highlight of the night, of course, was his speech. It was a stem-winder.  After the event was over, Gov. Edwards said to me, “Robert, we want to do this again in five years, and again when I reach 100.” We looked forward to it and are saddened he didn’t live to see it.

Sheriff Aaron Mitchell reports Kevin Dewayne Conley, age 45, of Many was arrested Monday morning, Aug. 8, after he ran from Deputies.

The Sabine Parish Sheriff Tactical Narcotics Team (TNT) attempted to stop Conley’s vehicle for a traffic violation on Hwy. 191 south of Zwolle.

Conley refused to stop and tossed suspected methamphetamine out of the window of his vehicle. Conley then traveled about three miles before stopping.

Conley resisted TNT Agents when they tried to arrest him.

The agents located the suspected methamphetamine Conley threw out and other drug paraphernalia inside his vehicle.

Conley was booked into the Sabine Parish Detention Center for Possession with intent to distribute schedule II (Meth); Second or subsequent offenses; Possession of drug paraphernalia; Aggravated flight from an officer; Resisting an officer with force or violence; Obstruction of justice; Intentional littering; No passing zone; and Illegal window tint (2%).

Conley was on parole for previous drug and firearm charges in 2020.

(Thanks to Det. D.W. Seeger for providing the information above. All persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.)

Dixie Stems by Cally owner Cally Killingsworth, center, prepares to cut the ribbon at her new location’s Grand Opening on Monday, Aug. 8. Holding the ribbon at left is Cally’s husband, Matt. At right is their son, Gabe. Also shown are Dixie Stems delivery person Emma Peace, second from right, and retired Bunkie florist Melinda Rasmussen, center right.
Sabine Chamber of Commerce Director Shanna Gaspard, left, and BOM banker Linda Guay, right, welcome Cally Killingsworth, center, into Chamber membership.
Many Mayor Robert Hable, above, offered words of support to Dixie Stems by Cally at the Ribbon-cutting on Monday.

The Sabine Parish Chamber of Commerce on Monday welcomed Dixie Stems owner Cally Killingsworth to the local business community.

A Ribbon-Cutting and Grand Opening event was held Aug. 8 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Observations was pleased to attend the noon Ribbon-Cutting, and we congratulate Cally on her beautiful new shop at 1826 Texas Hwy. in Many.

Dixie Stems by Cally is a full-service florist that also offers a wide selection of green plants, gifts and more. The store is open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon. They may be reached at (318) 837-9002.

Cally Killingsworth is a well-known local floral designer with 15 years’ experience. She specializes in flowers for weddings, funerals, holidays and special occasions.

Dixie Stems by Cally specializes in flowers for weddings, funerals and special occasions, and also offers a variety of gifts – from local art to inspirational items. Owner Cally Killingsworth is shown above with husband Matt, left, and sons Gabriel, center, and Ty.

Sheriff Aaron Mitchell reports Frederick Marqueze Smith, age 33, of Zwolle was sentenced in United States District Court, Western District of Louisiana in Shreveport on Monday, July 28.

Smith pled guilty and was sentenced to 90 months, (seven and one-half years), in federal prison for Possession of a firearm in the furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

This sentence stems from Smith’s arrest by the Sabine Parish Sheriff Tactical Narcotic Team (TNT) during a traffic stop on July 28 of last year. Smith attempted to flee from TNT Agents, and he had narcotics and a firearm in his possession.

Sheriff Mitchell and the Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office continue to seek federal prosecution for illegal drug and firearm crimes in Sabine Parish.

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

“Psalm 104:27 On the Bend” was one of the winning Congressional Art Competition pieces featured in the Washington DC Winners’ Reception slide show, shown above. Teenage artist Victoria Gaspard recently traveled to DC to take part in the winners‘ celebration.

Young local artist Victoria Gaspard was honored in late June at Washington, DC at a Winners’ Reception held for winning artists of the Forty-First Annual Congressional Art Competition. You may recall she was recognized earlier this year by U.S. Congressman Mike Johnson at a related Awards Ceremony held in Bossier City.

Her artwork, titled “Psalm 104:27 On the Bend,” won First Place in Louisiana. She is the first artist from Sabine Parish to win or place in the competition. As part of the honor, Victoria’s original artwork will hang for one year in the U.S. Capitol.

She and her mom, Shanna Dees Gaspard, Director of the Sabine Parish Chamber of Commerce, enjoyed some DC sightseeing while there for the reception, and we hear they had a fabulous time.

Seeing the sights: Victoria Gaspard, center right, and Shanna Gaspard, left, of Many enjoyed visiting several Washington DC iconic sights when they traveled there recently for Victoria’s Congressional Art Competition Winners’ Reception. They are shown in front of the White House. At left and right, Victoria is shown visiting the memorials to Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln.

The Winners event schedule included a Breakfast Reception at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center Congressional Auditorium and Atrium, Congratulatory Remarks, a Keynote Address and an Art Competition Slideshow. The Congressional Art event was sponsored by the Congressional Institute.

Congratulations again to Many High School student Victoria Gaspard on this exciting achievement.

Sheriff Aaron Mitchell recently announced the July 2022 Felony Narcotic and Firearm Arrests.

Suspected Xanax pills, Tramadol pills, various other pills, approximately 1.5 ounces of marijuana, 1.25 pounds of methamphetamine, psychedelic

mushrooms, a small amount of heroin, and various drug paraphernalia were seized during these arrests and operations of last month.

Deputies also seized one vehicle and eight firearms; one gun was stolen.

Arrested were:

Dustin James Coker, age 33, of Haughton – Possession of schedule II (Meth) and Possession of drug paraphernalia.

Cardetrick Eudarris Woods, age 44, of Shreveport – Warrant for Distribution of schedule II (Meth).

Desmond Antoine Jackson Sr., age 37, of Zwolle – Possession of schedule I (Marijuana), Possession of schedule IV (Xanax), Possession of schedule IV (Tramadol), Possession of legend drug, and Possession of drug paraphernalia.

Pquawn Perez Moore, age 44, of Many – Warrant for 2-counts of Distribution of schedule II (Meth).

Jamie Lester Longoria, age 50, of Many – Possession of schedule II (Meth), Possession of schedule IV (Clonazepam) and State Probation and Parole Warrant.

Gerald Wayne Foster, age 60, of Many – Possession of schedule II (Meth) and Possession of drug paraphernalia.

Stephen Lamar Smith, age 35, of Many – Felon in possession of firearm.

Jason Jelvonne Calhoun, age 38, of Zwolle – Possession of schedule I (Marijuana), Possession of schedule II (Meth), Possession of schedule IV (Xanax), Criminal trespass, Warrant for failure to appear in court for Distribution of schedule II CDS and Warrant for Distribution of schedule II (Meth).

Samuel Clyde Chester Jr., age 54, of Greenwood – Possession of schedule II (Meth) and Possession of schedule III (Buprenorphine Hydrochloride).

Samuel Edwin Reno IV, age 38, of Shreveport – Possession of schedule II (Meth) and Possession of schedule III (Buprenorphine Hydrochloride).

Colby Cain Hatcher, age 21, of Pleasant Hill – Possession with intent to distribute schedule I (Marijuana), Possession of drug paraphernalia, Possession of a firearm in presence of CDS, Possession of a firearm by convicted felon and Illegal possession of stolen firearms.

Rayni Colette Busher, age 25, of Many – Possession with intent to distribute schedule II (Meth), Possession of hallucinogenic plants and Possession of drug paraphernalia.

Jeremiah Jamal Maxie, age 37, of Many – Possession with intent to distribute schedule II (Meth), Possession of hallucinogenic plants, Possession of drug paraphernalia and Second of subsequent offenses.

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

Kudos to Lost Frontier Marina Restaurant off Hwy. 21 in nearby Hemphill, TX. They recently announced measures to help patrons during these financially trying times.

“In light of more expensive gas, groceries and everything else, we have lowered many prices, increased portions, and included more for the same price to do what we can to help our community,” Lost Frontier announced on social media Saturday. 

They shared that they have lowered the price for appetizers, sandwiches and salads, and that most entrees will now come with two sides instead of one for the same price. They also have added a free drink to kids’ entrees, including their $4 Kids Sunday special.

The RV Park and Marina also lowered the cost of their logo trucker hats from $25 to $20, and they continue to offer free live music every Saturday night at 7 p.m.

We don’t know how they can afford to do all this, but we sure do appreciate the great spirit with which they are pressing forward in these times when folks have less than ever to spend. Hats doffed to Lost Frontier.

The restaurant and RV Park are located at 360 Frontier Dr. in Hemphill, and are open Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. They may be reached at (409) 404-9972.

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