Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Charles I. Davis, left, in World War II, and more recently with wife Ann, right.
Douglas W. Curtis, left, during World War II, and today, right.
  Come Friday, two of “America’s Greatest Generation” will be honored at a special birthday party at 2 p.m. at Bayou Crawfish Restaurant in downtown Many. They are Charles I. Davis who will be 93 on Dec. 15, and Douglas W. Curtis, who turned 92 on Oct. 31. Both are veterans of World War II. My good friend Tedd Dumas and I are honored to have put the event together for these fine gentlemen. Mr. Davis served in the U.S. Navy from Dec. 16, 1941 until Feb. 26, 1947. He joined after the bombing of Pearl Harbor because he said it “p—ed me off.” He is a native of Alexandria, but has lived in Sabine Parish for years. He was fortunate to serve with his brother Albert Anthony Davis, who joined the Marines, and both were assigned to the USS Helena. The Helena sank when it was torpedoed on July 6, 1943 and his brother died. But Mr. Davis miraculously survived the tragedy, spending 36 hours in the sea before being rescued. Mr. Davis served at Cape Esperance, Guadacanal, Solomon Islands, New Georgia, Kula Gulf, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. He observed from afar when the flag was raised on Iwo Jima, and he noted during his recent visit to Tedd Dumas’ “Open Line” radio show, that the famous Iwo Jima flag-raising photograph we all know and love was actually a staged shot for the cameras after the fact. Mr. Davis saw the worst of World War II, and for years, he rarely spoke of his wartime experiences. We are grateful that of late he has consented to share some of his stories from those years. He was interviewed last year by the National World War II Museum in New Orleans for inclusion in their permanent archives. He also has been busy recently recording and producing DVDs for his children and grandchildren to share with them his amazing life and war experiences. During his distinguished five years-plus of service, he received medals for Combat Action, Unit Commendation, American Campaign, Asiatic Pacific Campaign, Victory Over Japan and World War II Victory. “I have learned that talking about what happened helps me,” Davis said. He, like many battle veterans, has endured Post Traumatic Stress Disorder since his war years. After serving in the Navy, Davis came home and went to work for the Fire Department in Alexandria. He stayed there for 25 years until his retirement in 1969, when he and his wife Ann moved to Toledo Bend Lake. Life today is good for Charles Davis and he appreciates every minute of it. “I’m thankful for every day I live,” Davis said. He is quick to also credit his wife with his happy outlook on life. “Ann has been so good for me,” Davis says, “She is a ray of sunshine in my life.” The other World War II birthday honoree, Mr. Douglas W. Curtis, is a hometown guy with deep Sabine Parish roots that date back to 1822. Doug was born the second son of Alvin W. Curtis and Myrtle Wright Curtis of Negreet, LA on Oct. 31, 1926. His older brother, Alvin W. “A.W.” Curtis Jr., became his best buddy and hero. Their later born siblings were Dr. John C. Curtis, Mary Lou Curtis Small, Helen Curtis McCollister and Wilbert Curtis. When A. W. became school age at six and started to enter Negreet School, Doug at age four, cried and threw a fit to go, too. His behavior wore the principal and first grade teacher down and the decision was made to let him start with A. W. They said if he couldn’t keep up, they would send him home. It all went well, and he and A. W. finished the eleven grades together and graduated in May of 1941. Only two months after the brothers’ high school graduation, in July 1941, all United States men over the age of 21 were required to register for the draft. A.W. Curtis enlisted in the Marines and was sent to Hawaii, where he served to the end of the war. Doug, at sixteen, went to work in the logging industry, later married Geraldine Moore, and they had their first son on the way when he received his draft notice to report for training on Jan. 1, 1944. He was sent to Camp Robinson in North Little Rock, AR, to train for the infantry. While he was in training, the flag was raised on Iwo Jima, and Gen. McArthur announced that the Philippines had been liberated. Curtis shipped out of Oakland, CA, and had been on the boat 30 days in route to the Philippines when the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, and Gen. McArthur took over command of the Japanese government in Tokyo. Doug was later sent to Japan, where the U. S. was preparing for invasion, and served there until the end of the war. He was discharged on Aug. 27, 1946. By that time, he and his wife had two sons – Douglas W. Curtis, Jr. and John Wallace Curtis. In 1948, a daughter, Linda Curtis Sparks, arrived and fifteen years later, another daughter, Phyllis Curtis Longmire, was born to the family. Following his discharge, Doug returned to Sabine Parish and went to work at Patterson’s Grocery. He purchased the store about ten years later and became a third generation grocer, following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather, and several great uncles in Sabine Parish. Doug sold the store to his son John in 1971. His older son, Doug Jr., was already in the grocery business in Northeast Louisiana at that time. For the next 30-plus years, Curtis owned and operated a restaurant in Natchitoches, farmed, and often worked in the store for John. In 1981, he married Sandra Barnhill and helped her raise her children to adulthood. They are Robert Lynn King, Twila Kay McElhaney, and Kimberly Jean Hicks. When asking his children what they know of his military experiences, they say their father rarely ever talked about it. And if you inquired of him, Curtis would say, “Well, I left the U. S. hating mayonnaise, and when I came back, I loved it.” His children give him lots of credit, though, for what they learned from him. He took his children to church at an early age, he wanted them to have a good education, he encouraged them to be involved in sports or the band, and he taught them all to love their community with a generous spirit and through their actions. Above all, he instilled in his children an extremely strong work ethic. Sixteen million Americans served in World War II. Of those, 291,557 were killed in battle, 113,842 others died in service and 670,846 received non-mortal wounds. Of those who served, about one-half million are still living. These old veterans are passing quickly though, dying at a rate of about 372 per day. We are glad to have the honor to celebrate two brave men of this community on Friday, Dec. 14.
Alejandra “Alex” Juan, State Dept. of Veterans Affairs
A very special guest to the World War II Honorees’ Birthday Party will be Alejandra “Alex” Juan, Communications Director and State Women Veterans Outreach Coordinator of Baton Rouge. She is coming for the event and will present Mr. Charles Davis and Mr. Douglas Curtis with special commendations. She is a devoted wife and mother, avid community volunteer and a decorated U.S. Air Force veteran who served her country with both honor and distinction. She met husband Craig while in service and they served as a dual-military couple for over a decade. The Juan family, including sons Nick and Noah, were named Louisiana Air National Guard’s “Family of the Year” in 2012. Alex was also named “Advocate of the Year” by the Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response Center in 2013. In April 2013, she ended her military career as Captain and a Public Affairs Officer. Her list of military awards is extensive, and includes Army Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal and many more. In 2013, Juan became the first female veteran to take the helm of the USS KIDD Veterans Museum in Baton Rouge. Under her leadership, the museum enjoyed its largest attendance rate recorded in over 25 years. In addition, she is credited with starting many successful innovative programs, such as Yoga for Veterans and Art Therapy classes. In 2015, Alex was named as both an “Esprit de Femme” honoree by the LSU Women’s Center and as the “Emerging Museum Professional” by the Louisiana Association of Museums. In 2018, the Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response Center named her a “Champion of Change” honoree for her vision, perseverance and dedication to helping further the STAR mission. Juan was hand-selected to spearhead the Women Veterans Outreach Coordinator position where she has played a crucial role in helping to identify and address the unique needs of a growing women veteran population. Currently the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs serves over 287,000 Louisiana veterans and their families. We welcome Alex Juan to Many and appreciate her participation in our World War II Birthday event.

The Bear Facts

Derrick Brooks found these two bear pictures on his wildlife camera recently. The camera was set up on his deer lease off the Vaco Road, just past Antioch Baptist Church. Thanks to Dean Funderburk for supplying the photos. In addition, she saw a bear early one morning behind her house near Florien.

Signs Along Life’s Highway

With the holidays approaching, it’s time to think about all those wonderful dishes that can be made with Louisiana Sweet Potatoes. Saw this billboard recently in Shreveport.
Willie Stewart, Family & Friends appear this Saturday at Sabine Theater for their big Down Home Christmas Pickin’! Shown left to right are Kelly Stewart, Clancey Stewart, Willie Stewart, Debbie Hillman, Steve Birdwell, Bo Stewart and Laurie Gentry. Not pictured is Steve’s son Mark, who will join the group for Saturday’s free show at 7 p.m.
It’s here and it’s FREE! Willie Stewart Family & Friends appear this Saturday at the Sabine Theater [Many Community Center] for their big Down Home Christmas Pickin’ featuring all kinds of wonderful Christmas music, fiddle instrumentals, spoon-playing and maybe even a few steps of Clancey Stewart’s great clogging! The seasonal ensemble – made up of Willie, his son Bo, grandson Kelly and Kelly’s wife Clancey, as well as Willie’s fiancée Debbie Hillman, Steve and Mark Birdwell of Marthaville, and my wife Laurie Gentry – will present traditional carols, fun holiday songs and much, much more for a toe-tapping good time this coming Saturday. You’ll hear a spirited “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Clancey and Willie’s bluesy “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” Bo will shower down on “Blue Christmas,” “Christmas in Dixie,” “Silver Bells” and others. Of course, the bedrock classics – “Silent Night,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Joy to the World,” “O Holy Night,” “Away in a Manger,” the haunting “What Child Is This?” and “Go Tell It On The Mountain” will be presented throughout the evening, along with many, many more holiday songs. It’s sure to be a night to remember, so come out to enjoy the free fun at Sabine Theater. It’s this Saturday, Dec. 15 at 7 p.m.
Buddy Wood State Farm Insurance at 125 Fisher Rd. features a popular Christmas “Selfie Spot” throughout the Holiday season for Many and Sabine Parish residents to enjoy.
Five more Christmas Selfie spots have been added to the Town of Many for a total of eight Christmas scenes throughout town where family and friends are encouraged to use the settings as backdrops for family pictures. The Selfie Spots are proving to be a big hit! Here are the locations: Town of Many City Hall – 3 Selfie Spots: a living room setting with a beautifully decorated Christmas tree; an outdoor scene of Christmas trees and three of Santa’s reindeer; and Santa’s sleigh awaiting Santa’s arrival. There are additional spots along San Antonio Ave. at Century 21 Real Estate, Bayou Crawfish Restaurant, which features a Cajun Christmas scene, and at the Chevron Station. Buddy Wood State Farm Insurance on the Fisher Rd. features an outdoor bench, Christmas signs and presents for a cheerful Christmas scene, and the final Selfie Spot is at Waskom Brown and Associates on Hwy. 171 Bypass. The reaction to the Christmas Selfie Spots, which are offered for the first time this year, has been very positive with many area families stopping by and snapping their Christmas pictures. Freeman said, “…We are so pleased to offer this new Christmas experience for our area families. They are so popular that we are planning to offer even more Christmas Selfie Spots next year when we have yet another ‘DeLIGHTful Christmas’ in Many.”
Clockwise, upper left, accomplished musician Laurie Gentry will be featured at the annual Christmas concert by Willie Stewart Family & Friends on Dec 15 at the Many Community Center. Don’t miss Clancey Stewart, the 2018-2019 Louisiana State Fiddle Champion, who will be a prime attraction of the big Down Home Christmas Pickin’ free holiday concert by Willie Stewart Family & Friends this Saturday at 7 p.m. at Sabine Theater. The award-winning Many High School Band will perform its annual Christmas Concert this Friday, Dec. 14 at Many Community Center at 7 p.m. All proceeds will go to the band.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Many with lights all along San Antonio Ave. and LOTS of activities scheduled during the week ahead as part of our town’s “A DeLIGHTful Christmas Festival.” The second annual Studio B Christmas Spectacular is a dance event everyone looks forward to each Christmas season. This year the Christmas Spectacular will be at the Sabine Parish Fairgrounds on Dec. 13 from 7 to 8 p.m. Choreographer Becky Miller promises a program with lots of talented, charismatic children dancing their hearts out for this big Christmas show. The Many High School Band will present its annual Christmas Concert on Friday, Dec. 14. The musicale will begin at 7 p.m. at the Many Community Center. Band director Scott DeBose says the evening will feature Christmas songs of good cheer that are sure to put the audience in a Merry Christmas frame of mind. But, the BIG EVENT happens this Saturday, Dec. 15. That’s when Willie Stewart, Family & Friends will present their second annual “Down Home Christmas Pickin’” at the Many Community Center [Sabine Theater] at 7 p.m. This two-hour show is a Christmas present from Willie and his band to Many and Sabine Parish. Though an admission charge was initially placed on the event by the Many Cultural District, Willie and the guys said, “Absolutely not – we want admission to be free, especially this time of year.” Those who love stringed instruments like mandolin, guitar, fiddle, bass, autoharp and great harmony vocals should plan to arrive early for a choice seat. Theater doors will open at 6 p.m. The musical production will feature lots of traditional Christmas carols, Country Christmas songs, and spiritual Christmas hymns. Clancey Stewart, the granddaughter- in -law of Willie Stewart and wife of Kelly Stewart, is the featured performer at the Christmas Concert event. This talented young musician is the present Louisiana State Fiddle Champion and a past Arkansas State Fiddle Champion. Popular area musician Laurie Gentry, wife of Robert Gentry, will also perform and accompany Clancey on the spoons as well as other musical instruments.
Community Christmas Caroling takes place at 6 o’clock each Wednesday and Saturday night across the street from Many City Hall.
People who love the sounds and music of Christmas now have the opportunity to hear the long loved tradition of Christmas Caroling as an important part of A DeLIGHTful Christmas this year in Many. Community Christmas Caroling takes place at 6 p.m. twice a week across the street from Many’s City Hall. Different church choirs in Sabine Parish appear to sing the songs of Christmas each Wednesday and Saturday night. Becky Miller, a hardworking member of the Many Christmas Committee, came up with the new idea and has worked hard to recruit area choirs and people who love to sing. This new project is proving to be a big success with choirs of 25 and more members showing up to sing the Christmas carols, while others gathered sing along or just listen to enjoy the Christmas carols. Hot chocolate is served, and the Community Christmas Caroling sessions offer enjoyment to families as they listen to the Christmas music while their children have fun playing with other children and visiting the hot chocolate stand. The remaining nights for Community Christmas Caroling are tonight, Wednesday, Dec. 12, Saturday, Dec. 15, Wednesday, Dec. 19 and Saturday, Dec. 22. All concerts begin at 6 p.m. Thank you for your faithful readership of Observations. We appreciate it! I always welcome your thoughts and suggestions for future articles, so please give me a call at (318) 332-8653 or send an email to and let me hear from you. Recently archived columns are located below. Older ones are archived on our Facebook page under Photos, where they are listed by date. To print this week’s column, simply right-click anywhere on the content and select Print.




Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Former Tax Assessor Conrad Cathey continues to lead the charge to get Sabine voters to cast a “No” vote on all five property tax proposals on the ballot Saturday, Dec. 8. And in the past two weeks, he said he’s had a lot of other folks join the battle.

The State Tax Commission has ordered the Sabine Assessor to re-assess all property by August of next year. Cathey asked the five taxing bodies to postpone their votes until after the re-assessment, but they have not done so. The only other recourse is for voters and taxpayers to vote “No” on Saturday.

Last week Cathey started saturating local radio airways with ads. Sunday, ads started on Facebook that will be sent to all persons in Sabine Parish. In addition, thousands of fliers have been printed and will be distributed parish wide. And two one-half page ads will appear in this week’s Sabine Index.

What Cathey says makes sense. We urge you to get out Saturday and cast a “No” vote on all taxes. The result of your “No” vote will simply require the governing bodies to wait until after new assessments are complete to see if they still need more tax monies. If they do, an election can be held at that time.

Just In Time For Christmas…

Worried about finding a perfect gift for that loved one? We have the perfect Christmas gift. It is a nice ball and chain. In excellent condition except for a little rust. Doesn’t show much sign of use. “Alcatraz Prison” is on the ball. Comes with key. Fits male or female – one size fits all. First $200 takes it. Call me at (318) 332-8653.

Sabine Veterans Officer Leilani Chelette

You know, our veterans deserve to be treated with decency and respect. And that is especially true for those who work in the Veteran Service Offices around the country. Those folks should go out of their way to take care of our veterans.

I have been treated every way a person can be treated, so the following story is really not about me. But, it did happen to me, and my concern is that the person mentioned also treats others who visit the Sabine Veterans Office in a disrespectful manner.

Tedd Dumas and I are making plans for a birthday party on Dec. 14 for two of “America’s Greatest Generation,” both veterans of World War II. They are Charles I. Davis who will be 93, and Douglas W. Curtis, who just turned 92.

I called the local Veterans office on Nov. 26 and talked to Leilani Chelette and invited her to participate on the program. We agreed that I would come over in the afternoon and provide her with the event information.

That afternoon I went to the office, which has a small waiting room, and therein an adjoining room with sliding glass windows between. I walked to the window and spoke to a lady on the other side. She quickly looked at me, did not speak, and continued whatever she was doing, maybe working on a computer.

I stood there awhile longer and she never acknowledged me, so I walked around the office and looked at the items posted on the wall. After another 10-15 minutes of waiting without being acknowledged, I left.

Later, I called the office, told Ms. Chelette that I had come over and had not been acknowledged by the person working at the window and asked what I needed to do in order to be seen. To my utter amazement, Ms. Chelette said it was she who was at the window.

I asked why she had not greeted me as a visitor and given me some direction as to when I could be seen. I thought that was the way any office operates. Just plain, common courtesy. She told me when she was working with a client, she devoted all her attention to that one thing. I saw no client in the office with her. I replied it would make sense to simply open the window, say “hello” and tell the person waiting when he or she could be seen, or if they needed to return at a better time.

It didn’t seem to matter to Ms. Chelette. She acknowledged that she had seen me come into the office and leave. I came away thinking that is probably the way she operates the Sabine Veterans Service Office. No apology, no nothing.

I reported this matter to Ms. Pam Russell, the former Sabine Veterans Officer who did a fabulous job, and she said she has received other complaints as well.

And lastly, I saw this sign in the office: “The VA office will close every day at 4 p.m. sharp. Even if you are signed in, you will not be seen after 4 p.m. You will have to come back. The hours of operation are 8-12 & 1-4 M, W, F no exception. Thank you and have a good day.”

I think that sign needs to come down and all employees of the Veterans Service Office should treat our wonderful veterans and those of us who are just plain, old citizen taxpayers, with respect.
Be sure to vote Saturday, Dec. 8. Polls open from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. We recommend Kyle Ardoin for Secretary of State.

There will be five property tax propositions on the ballot in Sabine Parish. Former Tax Assessor Conrad Cathey said all should be defeated until the Tax Assessor gets property re-valued by August of next year.
The autumn leaves are just beautiful. It’s worth taking a drive around just to see them.

Do you have it on your calendar? The big Down Home Christmas Pickin’ at Sabine Theater [Many Community Center] by Willie Stewart Family & Friends is just around the corner. It’s on Saturday, Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. In the spirit of the season, we are happy to announce the Town of Many and Many Cultural District are offering this music-packed two-hour concert free to all.

Willie Stewart of Florien is known far and wide for his bluesy, unique vocals and guitar – whether presenting Country, Gospel, Bluegrass or Christmas songs! His son Bo grew up in the musical tradition, and he too, is a versatile entertainer, singing a variety of soulful ballads and fun songs as well, and playing his mandolin. Bo’s son Kelly joined the mix at a young age with strong, rich vocals and guitar, as well as percussion – he plays the acoustic cajon drum box, which is completely subtle compared to a typical drum set, but it sure adds texture and depth to the overall sound.

It should be no surprise that Kelly fell in love with a certain musical beauty on his family’s many trips to Mountain View, AR, known as the “Folk Music Capitol of the World.” A few years ago, he married champion fiddler Clancey Ferguson of Mountain View, who is now the reigning Louisiana fiddle champ. She will be on the show as well.

Also on the program are Steve Birdwell, with his wonderful guitar stylings and super smooth vocals, Debbie Hillman, fiancée of Willie, who is a powerhouse vocalist in her own right. And boy, does she shower down on those traditional Christmas songs! Mark Birdwell, Steve’s son, may join in on guitar, and last but not least, my talented wife Laurie Gentry will play upright bass, autoharp, spoons and sing a few songs too. She traveled for about 25 years nationwide playing Folk and Gospel music with her family and during that time, headlined with her dad at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Come out and enjoy a fun night of all kinds of Christmas music! From classic holiday ballads to up-tempo fiddle tunes to several Christmas songs “just for fun,” you’ll hear lots to enjoy this holiday season. It’s Saturday, Dec. 15 at Many Community Center [Sabine Theater] at 7 p.m. in downtown Many.

Signs Along Life’s Highway

Saw this one coming out of Natchitoches Friday morning.

Barbara Jane Peterson

“The passing of Barbara Richardson Peterson is a huge loss to the Town of Many,” Mayor Ken Freeman said.

Mrs. Peterson died last Thursday morning, Nov. 29, 2018. She was born August 9, 1935.

She had been elected as alderwoman at large in 2001, continued to be re-elected every four years and served as Mayor Pro Tempore during the entire 17 years that she served on the City Council.

Freeman said she was a pleasure to work with, with endless energy and enthusiasm for the town where she grew up and lived her entire life.

“I considered Barbara to be a good friend, and I always valued her input and advice on matters concerning the Town of Many and its citizens. My wife and I also considered her to be a close personal friend,” Freeman said.

A long time teacher and educator in Sabine Parish, Mrs. Peterson was well liked by her students and highly respected by her peers. One former co-worker shared that when she first began teaching at age 22, she walked into the school building and Mrs. Peterson was the first person to greet her and tell her she would help her in every way she could.

“I had questions almost every day, and she never lost patience with me but explained and showed me how to do things that I’d never experienced before, especially the record keeping and keeping the students quiet,” the co-worker as she reminisced about her mentor.

After she retired from teaching, Mrs. Peterson, in addition to her duties on the city council, enjoyed her private life where she was an enthusiastic quilter, a member of the First United Methodist Church, and a lifetime member of Delta Gamma Social Sorority.

Mayor Freeman said her absence on the city council, her experience, and her knowledge will be deeply missed. “She was a special person and we were so fortunate to have her presence and wisdom on our city council. She was always wanting to do anything that would make our town better,” Freeman said.

She leaves behind her husband Garland Peterson, two sons Mike Tompkins and Mark Tompkins, and three grandsons – Christopher, Stephen, and Nathan Tompkins.

“Our sympathies go out to Garland, Mike and Mark. A wife, a mother, and a vital member of our community, she was indeed someone special. I know how much they will miss her. The people of Many will miss her and so shall my wife Mary Ellen and I,” Freeman concluded.

Ammons honored on retirement from Chamber

From top, counter-clockwise: 1. Retiring Executive Director of the Sabine Parish Chamber of Commerce Kenneth Ammons is shown with his replacement, Shanna Dees Gaspard, center, and Mike Mancil of Atmos Energy, who sponsored the reception on November 27 in honor of Ammons. 2. Former presidents of the Sabine Parish Chamber of Commerce, from left, Matthew Couvillion and Kyle Martinez are shown congratulating former Executive Director Kenneth Ammons. 3. Lou Mancil cuts the impressive, unique “Mission Accomplished” trunk-style cake designed for the retirement reception of Kenneth Ammons at the Sabine Tourist Commission Office.


Kenneth Ammons of Many retired as the Executive Director of the Sabine Parish Chamber of Commerce after serving from 2015-2018. Ammons, a longtime Chamber member and past president, stepped in to keep the office open after the untimely death of Garland Anthony. Several months later, the Board hired him to continue as executive director.

Ammons was honored with a reception on Tuesday, Nov. 27 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Tourist Commission Office. Atmos Energy sponsored the reception.

Past President Matthew Couvillion welcomed those in attendance, including Chamber members and other past presidents Kyle Martinez and Robert Hable, along with Mayor and Mrs. Ken Freeman, among others.

Ammons is credited with bringing the Chamber into the 21st Century. During his tenure, he initiated an on-line Chamber newsletter; founded the W.E. “Boots” Hayes Work Scholarship through the Central Louisiana Community College, trained four student workers, recreated the Chamber web site, and the maintenance of it in-house. He also brought national recognition to the Chamber and Toledo Bend Lake through an interview for In Focus magazine; had a new parish map printed and through hard work, saw his litter ordinance passed by the Sabine Parish Police Jury. He also added numerous new businesses to the Chamber roster and hosted ribbon-cuttings throughout the parish.

Ammons, a former banker with MidSouth Bank, will continue to serve as chairman of the ACT Work Ready Community and the Sabine Parish Police Jury to implement the Litter Court, which were two of his major projects.

According to his wife, Donna, he’s the only person she knows that took a part-time job and made it fulltime!

In the future, the couple plans to travel and spend more time with their grandchildren.

The beloved Many Community Choir, made up of vocalists from several area churches and under the direction of Carol Troha, performs during a holiday season past.

A DeLIGHTful Christmas in Many is well underway with lots of Christmas activities for everyone almost every day during the holiday season. The following is information about local Christmas activities scheduled Dec. 5 through Dec. 13.

Community Christmas Caroling is a new event in 2018 and it’s under the direction of Becky Miller, a member of the Christmas Committee and owner of Studio B Dance. Caroling for everyone who wants to sing, or just listen, will take place near City Hall and begins at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 5. Repeat performances will be Dec. 8 and Dec. 12 at 6 p .m. near City Hall. Families and friends are encouraged to come out and enjoy traditional Christmas caroling throughout the Many Cultural District.

The annual Christmas Cantata will be held at the First Methodist Church of Many on Thursday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. It’s a beautiful, musical night as Many’s talented community choir, made up of members from several Many churches, presents music to remind everyone of the birth of Christ and all the wonder of that special night. Choir members have been practicing for weeks to present this year’s Cantata, and it promises to celebrate the true reason we rejoice at Christmas.

A beloved Many Christmas tradition is the live Christmas play production, “A Christmas Carol,” performed by talented local thespians under the direction of Ms. Mary Bozeman, who lived and worked in theater in New York and off Broadway for many years. This season, there are two performances. The first is Saturday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m., and the second is a matinee performance on Sunday afternoon, Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. Both will be held at the Many Community Center [Sabine Theater] in downtown Many. Theater-goers will love the elaborate costumes and seeing familiar townsfolk playing the roles of Bob Cratchit and his family, and, of course, Mr. Scrooge. Tiny Tim, the little boy with a limp, is always a favorite. It’s the perfect Christmas event for the entire family.

This year’s DeLIGHTful Christmas Festival even includes a beauty pageant: The Miss Merry Christmas Pageant is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Many Junior High School on Hwy. 6 East in Many. The contest will have several age categories, and guests will enjoy seeing all the pretty children and young people dressed up in their Christmas finery.

A DeLIGHTful Christmas is planned and organized by the hardworking Christmas Festival committee members under the direction of Chairperson Gay Corley. It is planned each year so people in the Town of Many and surrounding areas can enjoy Christmas right here in Sabine Parish with lots of activities and events to get folks in the Christmas spirit. Festival events will run until Dec. 24.

Snell Sentenced

Polly Snell, former Assistant Police Chief for the Town of Many was sentenced to two years of supervised release in Federal Court in Shreveport on Nov. 29. She pleaded guilty in January to one count of theft regarding a program that received federal funds.

Polly Snell

A Louisiana Legislative Audit released in August 2015 showed that Snell was paid a salary of more than $5,000, and claimed she was not entitled to that money which came from a $10,000 federal grant to the town.
The audit also said Snell played a dual role at the Many Police Department and the Gulf States Regional Center for Public Safety Innovation where she served as assistant director and handled police training workshops through Northwestern State University.
The audit said she did not keep accurate time records, though she billed the Town of Many for 40 hours every week. They said her extensive travel for the Training Center made it impossible for her to also work full-time for the town.
The audit said she also claimed to work 40 hours per week at the Training Center for which NSU reimbursed the town. According to the report, Snell was fired by the Center in March 2013, yet she continued to get paid more than $21,000.
“Christmas Selfie Spots” are the latest fun holiday activity introduced by the Many Christmas Committee for 2018. The spots are Christmas vignettes at different locations around town where families and friends can go to make Christmas photos in seasonal settings.

One of three new “Christmas Selfie Spots” located in Many during the holidays. Folks are invited to stop at any spot and take selfies or family photos during Christmastime. This one is located at Many City Hall.

The brainchild of Becky Miller, owner of Studio B Dance and a hardworking Christmas Committee member, three selfie locations are scattered throughout the Cultural District of Many.

The Chevron station, at 475 San Antonio Ave. has a Christmas scene with a fireplace, Christmas tree, Christmas packages, and a bench where families can pose. It’s just inside the store’s front door immediately to the right.

Waskom and Brown, located on Hwy. 171 Bypass near the USDA offices and the Dollar General, has set up a charming Christmas cookies and hot chocolate scene just outside their offices that’s sure to evoke a warm and cozy atmosphere.

And the final Christmas Selfie Spot is located inside Many City Hall on San Antonio Ave. There are several areas, including Santa’s sleigh, where family Christmas pictures can be made. City Hall is especially festive for the Christmas holidays this year and is sure to be a favorite spot for families to snap Christmas pictures.

Congratulations to the Many Christmas Committee for providing another great holiday activity to Sabineland.

Two Local Young People are named “Rising Stars”

Jaleah Lee

The Many Christmas Committee and Many Mayor Ken Freeman have named Jaleah Lee one of their “Rising Star” honorees for the 2018 Many Christmas Parade on Dec. 22.

A young woman who always strives to do her best in everything she does, Jaleah graduated from Many High School in May 2018 with a 4.2 GPA and was in the top five of her graduating class.

The daughter of LaTonya Lee, she is now a student in the School of Nursing at Northwestern State University and is working toward a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. A first generation college student, she currently has a perfect 4.0 grade point average at NSU.

In addition to her studies, Jaleah also works as a cashier and stocker at Market Basket grocery in Many. She wants Market Basket customers to get a good impression when they shop there, and so she is conscientious about telling the customers to “Have a lovely day.” She also is quick to help them find product locations and tries to answer any questions shoppers may have.

Jaleah has a positive attitude about everything: her education, her job, her involvement in the community of Many. She says, “I strive to do my best in everything I do. I have always had to work for what I wanted and that has helped me to develop a great mindset.”

Jaleah participates in Student Support Services at NSU and is especially proud of being a first generation college student.

In her high school years at MHS, Jaleah was a member of the National Society of High School Scholars, the Student Council, Future Business Leaders of America and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She was also chosen as a participant in LSU Medical School’s AHEC program.

In her Senior year, Jaleah was named the 2017 Many High School Homecoming Queen.
An athlete as well as a scholar, this busy young woman also participated in cheer, basketball, and track and field while in high school.

Upon graduation, she received several scholarships to attend Northwestern State.

Several personality traits are responsible for Jaleah’s successes so early in life. They are lessons that she thinks others can use to be successful.

Jaleah says, “I am always on time and I like to get my work done early or on time, but never late. I am organized and take pride in my work. I have strong mathematical and typing skills, and I am hard-working and focused.”

Though she has a strong work ethic and is committed to college and her job, she also likes working with others, and volunteering. She gives blood on a regular basis, and she has volunteered at the local nursing homes with activities for residents. She is also an Upward Bound Alumna.

For her past successes, her determination to succeed and her positive attitude, Miss Jaleah Lee is named a “Rising Star” for 2018.

Tobias Williams II

The Town of Many has also named Tobias Williams II as a “Rising Star” honoree this Christmas. Tobias Williams II has lots of attitude…a good, positive attitude. He attributes it to the examples set for him by his family, his high school football coach, and his church family.

“I am a reflection of my family,” Tobias said. “It’s important to me that I set a good example for others.”

The oldest of five children, Tobias is the son of Tobias and Krisha Williams of Many. His mother teaches Social Studies and Science at Many Junior High. His dad works on a land rig in West Texas.

Something happened in his family several years ago that made a lifelong impression on Tobias, and he began seeing people, events, challenges and life differently. That’s because his maternal grandmother, Cloteal Polk of Natchitoches, moved in with Tobias’s family where she spent her last year of life.

“My grandmother was the one who had always taken care of us. Now we all learned to take care of her. If you ever wondered how valuable time is, just ask someone who knows their time is running out,” he said.
Tobias indicated that he learned the value of overcoming difficult circumstances just by having the right attitude.

“I couldn’t change the fact that my afternoons were spent helping someone at the end of her life. But the truth is that I would not have traded those afternoons for anything. The stress of what I was facing could have derailed by plans and goals if I did not have the right attitude and adequate support and positive extracurricular activities to keep me involved.”

Tobias channeled his energy into football. He first played for Many Junior High under Coach Lotice Cole. Then he played at Many High School under the direction of Head Coach Jess Curtis.

Tobias was a cornerback. He said, “During football games, we face the receivers isolated, one-on-one. I learned to stand and defend what is right even when it seemed that I was alone.”

He continued, “Defending the Tiger end zone was a great honor. But when I looked into the stands, I realized that my responsibilities went beyond the football field. I have a responsibility to represent my family, my school, community and my country to the best of my ability.”

Tobias Williams now plays football for the Northwestern State University Demons. He earned an athletic scholarship to study and play football for NSU. He’s happy that he has the opportunity to further his education and continue to play a sport that he loves.

But football is not Tobias’s only interest. He started a program called “Number 1 Matters Foundation.” The No. 1 came from the number he wore on his football jersey, and the foundation is an initiative to reach at-risk youth.

The program is a youth-led and youth-driven project centered around young people giving their time to help others. Its members have provided school supplies for at-risk students throughout Sabine Parish. The members have also tutored and mentored students through church programs and youth sports leagues. The foundation has also provided books to area students as well.

“With the hope of encouraging students to give back, our program prepares and delivers personal care packages to area nursing homes. Our members have also provided belts, shoes, socks, jackets and even glasses to young people at risk,” Tobias said.

“During the Louisiana floods earlier this year, we worked alongside homeowners as they salvaged what little was left of their homes,” he said. “It’s very common to find one of our members mowing the lawn of an elderly resident or keeping up the grounds of local cemeteries. Our foundation wants students to make an impact on our community.”

Though he is committed to his education, football and his Foundation, it’s not all serious all the time with Tobias. In what little free time he has, he likes to listen to Gospel music or watch the Discovery Channel on TV. He loves to play basketball with his brothers and sisters. He also likes to read. He’s even learning to cook some since he watches the Food Channel.

Football, however, is never far from this young man’s mind. He’s a fan of the New Orleans Saints and also cheers for LSU. And, of course, he’s on the field for NSU.

Sometimes he plays with his dog Rocky. But he’s always thinking…about his foundation, school, or Belmont Church of Christ Holiness where he and his family attend church. And even though Tobias Williams has already made a great impact on the lives of others, he still has big plans for life. There’s no doubt he can achieve all of his dreams. For these reasons, the Many Christmas Parade Committee and Many Mayor Ken Freeman are pleased to announce they have named Tobias Williams II a 2018 “Rising Star.”

That will do it for this first Wednesday in December. Please share your thoughts and suggestions with me by calling (318) 332-8653 or dropping an email to Recently published Observations columns are found below and older ones are archived on our Facebook page. Visit Observations on Facebook, and click on Photos, where columns are listed by date. To print this week’s column, right-click anywhere on content and select Print.


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Jerry Pierce and wife Regina

If you noticed, last week the web site took on a new look. Marion Hall, Sean Johnson and the folks at SatCom have worked on it for several weeks. Mr. Radio, Tedd Dumas, made the improvements come about and we thank him for that.

And with the improved site, comes a new weekly column, “Reflections” by Jerry Pierce, External Vice-President of Northwestern State University.

I first met Jerry, a native of Springhill, many years ago when both of us studied Journalism at Northwestern. He is a first-class writer and I urge you to read his column each week.

He talks about many things, but also reflects on life in the slower lane, the old days, folks he’s met along life’s road and so many other interesting things.

Jerry was graduated from Northwestern with a degree in journalism in 1961. He then moved to New Orleans where he was sports editor for the Times-Picayune.

He went to work at Northwestern on Sept. 13, 1965. In September 2015, Jerry was honored on his 50th Anniversary at Northwestern. Today, he is healthy, hardy and just as active as when I first met him. He has been and still is a great asset to Northwestern.

At Northwestern he has been a professor of journalism, Executive Assistant to the President, Director of Informational Services, and Sports Information Director.

If you’ll read his column today, you will become a regular reader. Welcome aboard, Jerry.

Former Sabine Tax Assessor Conrad Cathey continues his battle to get five governing bodies in Sabine Parish to postpone property tax elections until the Sabine Tax Assessor re-assesses all property, as directed by the Louisiana Tax Commission. The work is to be completed by August of next year.

“Observations” has carried information on his stance in two previous columns.

It is apparent that the taxing governing bodies are not going to postpone the votes. So now, the only recourse the people (that is the tired, ole taxpayers) have is to vote “No” on Dec. 8.

A “No” vote will produce the same result as if the governing bodies had simply waited to see how much extra monies will come in after the new assessments are complete. It may be their needs will be met with those extra funds. If not, an election can be held then on the taxes they are asking for.

Signs Along Life’s Highway

Saw this one at Colton’s Steakhouse in Batesville, AR

It is interesting to note that the Many Police Department posted this on Facebook just before Thanksgiving. It announced that the Police Department would be closed from Wednesday, Nov. 21, at 3 p.m. until Monday, Nov. 26, at 8 a.m.

Say what?! Surely Mayor Ken Freeman and the Many Town Council didn’t approve this.

Never heard of anything like it before.

Amanda Lambert stated on Facebook that this never happened when her husband Dean or son Ron were Chief of Police.

Well, some folks are at work and some aren’t.

Early voting for the Dec. 8 election is currently underway in the Registrar of Voters Office at the Sabine Parish Courthouse at 400 Capitol St. in Many. Early voting continues through Dec. 1.

A few of the beautiful Christmas lights right after they were lighted in the historic logging village of Fisher –

The Christmas lights at Fisher were turned on Friday night, with ceremony. Mayor Susan Slay, who has always done a wonderful job as Mayor, gaily presided over the festivities.

The event opened with prayer by Rev. Ray Leidig. The National Anthem was presented by Debbie Hillman, Laurie Gentry and Steve Birdwell. Several area pageant queens were also presented. Then the beautiful lights were switched on.

After the lighting, folks went inside the Fisher Opera House to enjoy a mostly-Christmas music concert put on by Willie and Bo Stewart, Kelly Stewart and his wife Clancey, Debbie Hillman, Laurie Gentry and Steve and Mark Birdwell. Some 75 persons dropped in to listen during the two-hour concert. The group was also joined by a few guest vocalists on stage before the night was over.

We understand the new Christmas lights at Cypress Bend are beautiful, and the Town of Many has also decorated for Christmas. So, if you enjoy Christmas lights, be sure to drive around and take a look.

Have you noticed how bright those blinding, blue lights are on police cars? They use them when they stop someone and, especially at night, they are nearly blinding to oncoming motorists. Saturday night going to Natchitoches we encountered three police cars on side of the highway, all with bright, flashing lights on.

If you see these, be sure to slow down for safety.

The comic misadventures of the beleaguered Griswold family continue in “National Lampoon Christmas Vacation,” which shows at Many Community Center [Sabine Theater] this Saturday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m.

The movie is free as always as part of the “Movies in Many” program sponsored by the Town of Many Cultural District Advisory Committee, Mayor Ken Freeman, and the Town of Many. Concessions are available for only $1 each.

In this fun holiday romp, America’s most dedicated dad Clark Griswold (played by Chevy Chase) is determined to stay at home to create “the most fun-filled old fashioned family Christmas ever,“ but life has a particular way of throwing wet logs on Griswold’s fire.

As is his sentimental nature, he puts too much emphasis on the production of it. He wants nothing less than a “fun, old-fashioned, family Christmas.”

For his dutiful wife and indulgent kids, this means that dad simply goes a little nuts: a trip to the woods for the tree, 25,000 outdoor lights, oversized presents, too many relatives – in short, Griswold tries to cram a little too much holiday cheer into one family dwelling.

In the spirit of anything-that-can-go-wrong-will-go-wrong, “Christmas Vacation” is a tightly bowed story of household delirium. “It is Christmas and we are all in misery,” Clark’s overburdened wife exclaims.

Into her well-ordered abode, her husband has invited both sets of grandparents, and just when Mrs. Griswold gets them not-so-snuggly bedded down, with no visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads, a country cousin (played by Randy Quaid) and his cock-eyed clan roll in unexpectedly.

It’s a fun-filled movie that families are sure to enjoy designed to put everyone in the holiday spirit!

Tre Twitty, left, grandson of Country legend Conway Twitty, and fiddle champ Clancey Stewart, right, who accompanied him and his singing partner Tayla Lynn for their tribute concert to Conway and Loretta held in Fisher Saturday night –

The Tre Twitty –Tayla Lynn concert at Fisher Opera House on Saturday night was a good success with about 150 in attendance. The pair are the grandchildren of Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty. They paid tribute to their respective grandparents’ careers, as well as performing all of Conway and Loretta’s big duet hits.

Clancey Ferguson Stewart, the current Louisiana State Fiddle Champion and granddaughter-in-law to Stewart Family patriarch Willie, played fiddle with the duo, and we hear she did a superb job as usual.

Speaking of, Mrs. Clancey Stewart is a main spring of the Stewart Family and Friends crew who will present a “Down Home Christmas Pickin’” at Sabine Theater in downtown Many on Saturday, Dec. 15 at 7 p.m.

The event is sponsored by the Town of Many and Many Cultural District, and is offered to area residents completely free of charge. Concessions will be available as always.

Not only will Clancey be featured on the program with her beautiful fiddle music, but on at least one toe-tapper, she’ll be joined by my wife Laurie Gentry who’ll play the spoons. The fiddle and spoons were a big hit among many last year, so their fiddle-spoons duet is a definite repeat for this year.

Holding down the Stewart family end of things will be Willie Stewart, son Bo and grandson Kelly, and on the friends side will be Steve and Mark Birdwell, Debbie Hillman and Laurie Gentry.

Be sure to mark your calendar for this fun-filled evening featuring lots of traditional Christmas carols as well as Country Christmas songs with guitars, mandolins, fiddle, bass, autoharp, cajon acoustic drum box and more!

That’s all for right now. Please send your thoughts about “Observations” and ideas for future articles to or call me at (318) 332-8653. I always love to hear from you. To print this week’s column, right-click anywhere on the content and select “Print.” Older columns are archived on our “Observations” Facebook page, where they are listed by date in the Photos section.


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Last week this column carried a report about the efforts of former Tax Assessor Conrad Cathey asking that five property tax elections set in Sabine Parish on Dec. 8 be postponed because the Louisiana Tax Commission has ordered the Sabine Parish Tax Assessor to re-assess all property. This means that when the property is re-evaluated, it will come in at today’s market value, resulting in the assessment going up in many cases. The Assessor has until August of next year to complete the job.

Cathey’s position is that under re-assessment, the property tax base will rise and that additional taxes may not be needed. All he is asking is that the governing bodies postpone the elections until after re-assessment. “Then if they still need taxes, they can call elections then,” he explained.

But asking governing authorities to put off tax elections is like pie in the sky. Cathey met with the Sabine Parish School Board on Nov. 12. Postponing the School Board tax came up and only three members voted to do so: Daron Chandler, Dale Skinner and Donald H. “Hootie” Remedies. Cathey also met with Police Jury President Ronny Bison and Mike McCormic, who has called tax elections in Wards 2 and 3, and he will not postpone the election.

Cathey reiterated, “My position is not speaking for or against any tax proposition. I am saying let’s don’t vote on any new taxes until we see what the Assessor is going to do. I’m asking that we wait and let the Assessor’s Office do their job. If the public votes for new taxes and then the assessments go up, the public is given a double dose.”

It is apparent that none of the governing bodies are going to take any action to delay the elections. What Cathey is preaching makes sense. So what recourse does the poor ole over-taxed taxpayer have? They can let the governing bodies know they are the boss. They can go out and vote Dec. 8 and vote a resounding “NO” on all the tax propositions.

We wish all of our readers a very happy Thanksgiving. We thank God every day for His many blessings, our precious freedoms here in the U.S., and all of the good things in life. Here’s hoping you and yours spend some special time together this holiday and enjoy it to the fullest.

Something to Ponder:  The Most Precious Gift from God is a Child.

Come this Friday, the Village of Fisher will turn on its Christmas Lights. I would expect Mayor Susan Slay to flip the switch. I hope so, anyway.

Following that will be Pickin’ on the Square, according to Bo Stewart, son of Willie Stewart. The rafters will ring inside the old Fisher Opera House with Bluegrass, Country and Gospel music, especially lots of Christmas tunes. All musicians are invited to attend and participate. The general public is invited, and it’s all free. Hope to see you there.

Bo Stewart was having a ball as the Bayou Renegade Motorcycle Rally roared into Florien about noon on Sunday, Nov. 10. Bo thinks he heads up the Stewart Family Band. In the picture, his daughter-in-law Clancey Stewart gives him a big laugh in the background.


Performing for the visiting cyclists and friends was the Willie Stewart Family & Friends Band. Left to right are Laurie Gentry, Willie Stewart, Kelly Stewart, Clancey Stewart and Bo Stewart.

With a State Police escort, the Bayou Renegade Rally roared into Florien Sunday, Nov. 10. It was part of the event titled Progressive Poker Run that brought attention to the area’s No Mans Land. The ride was billed to honor our heroes on Veterans Day.

The run started at Sam’s Town in Shreveport and ended at the Golden Nugget in Lake Charles. Other stops the rally made were in Grand Cane, Leesville and DeRidder. Music and food were featured at each stop. Besides the music, food and fun in Florien, they also put on an Old West shoot-out, complete with saloon girls.

Hats doffed to Linda Curtis-Sparks and her Sabine Tourist Commission staff for their great job on putting the event together.

And while we’re mentioning the Stewarts, we want to wish Bo Stewart a very happy birthday. We understand he turned a little longer in tooth on Monday, Nov. 19. We’re not sure whether to classify Bo as an “adult,” “middle age,” or “old.” If you see him, double check how high he wears his belt. It’ll tell the tale every time.

Signs Along Life’s Highway

This sign hangs on the wall at Front Street Market Place at the corner of Front and Church Streets in Natchitoches.

Many Mayor Ken Freeman acknowledged many citizens and residents who receive water through the Many water system have been concerned about the quality of the water lately.

He agreed they were right to be concerned and hopes the following information he is providing will help alleviate their worry.

Freeman said, “Because a brain-eating amoeba was discovered recently in the Bossier Parish water system and because of the mismanagement of the Flint, MI water system, the Louisiana Department of Health has demanded that all water systems in our state must perform a chemical burnout of their piping systems. We had no choice in this matter.”

”That required burnout ended on Nov. 19. It’s finally over. Unfortunately, the elevated chlorine in the system caused rashes and/or irritation to skin for some citizens with sensitive skin. I, too, experienced an itchy rash from the elevated chlorine. But at no time did we exceed the safe level of chlorine.”

Freeman continued, “This required burnout process began when we notified the Department of Environmental Quality that the chemical burn out was about to begin. We then hired an independent laboratory to orchestrate and supervise the entire burnout.”

“Next we published notices in the Sabine Index, on all the local radio stations, and also posted on our Facebook page and other media that notified the public of what was about to happen.”

“The independent lab monitored chlorine levels through the town throughout the entire burnout process. According to the lab, at no time during this process did we exceed the safe level of chlorine. The water was safe to drink during the burnout and it is safe to drink now. I am sorry that the chlorine irritated the skin of some of our residents.”

The mayor explained, “We had no choice but to perform the chemical burnout of our water system. If we had not complied with state and federal regulations, we would have been at risk for the brain-eating amoeba being in our water system. We would have faced federal and state fines of $500,000 for each day that we did not comply.”

Freeman went on to say, “The State of Louisiana and the U.S. government require us to perform this required chemical burnout once every year. The next time we do it, we will send a letter to each household on the Town of Many water system notifying them that we are going to perform the burn out and the exact dates that the process will take place.”

Freeman said meeting the federal and state mandates for safe drinking water is expensive. That is one reason the cost of water is high. He listed some costs. The chemical burnout cost $8,000. Removing trihalomethanes from the Many water system costs $1,200,000. Replacing all water lines which ensures proper water pressure for fire protection costs $4 million dollars.

Freeman said maintenance costs on the city water plant which was built in the 1970s cost $100,000 in 2018 alone. Maintenance to the aging water plant increases every year. The ever-increasing cost of the required chemicals to purify the city water increases at least 8% every year.

The mayor stressed that while the federal and state governments make these mandates or requirements, they do not provide any funding at all.

“We have to meet the mandates. We have no choice. The only way we can pay for these enormous costs is through our water bills,” he explained.

“No one likes higher water bills. I don’t either,” the mayor said. “But, because of these higher water bills, you can be assured that YOUR water system completely meets all federal and state requirements and is safe to drink, to bathe in, and to cook with,” Freeman concluded.

Anna Cate Williams Wright, left, and her husband Dustin Wright, right, are the owners of Rigs and Racks Fitness Center in Many. Anna Cate has been named the “2018 Young Achiever of the Year.”

Anna Cate Williams Wright will be honored in the Many Christmas Parade on Dec. 22 as the “Young Achiever of the Year.”

A strong advocate of physical fitness and good health, Anna Cate and her husband are the owners of Rigs and Racks Fitness Center on Highway 171 Bypass in Many.

A few years ago, Rigs and Racks was no more than a dinner table discussion. Today it is a gym filled with motivated, supportive, hard-working people determined to reach their physical fitness goals. The strongest motivator there is Anna Cate, founder and operator of Rigs and Racks.

Anna Cate is married to Dustin Wright, also of Many. He is the son of the late Billy Wright and Linda Ebarb Wright, who now lives in Shreveport. Dustin and Anna Cate have two young boys: William, age 6, and Major, age 3. With two physically fit parents, the boys are destined to grow up to be athletes and dedicated fans of physical fitness.

Both Anna Cate and Dustin grew up in Many and Sabine Parish, graduated from Many High School, earned their college degrees, and eventually returned to their hometown where Anna Cate now lives out her dream of helping others become and remain physically fit.

Anna Cate is the daughter of the late Malcom Williams. Her mother is Cherry Murray Williams. Her father died in 2015. He was the most influential person in Anna Cate’s life. A longtime businessman in Many and Sabine Parish, Williams stressed to his daughter that if she loved her occupation, she would never “work” a day in her life.

These words of wisdom from her dad encouraged Anna Cate and Dustin to move back to their hometown and pursue their dream of serving their community by building and operating a multi-faceted fitness center and offering programs that would include the sport of physical fitness, youth sport-enhancement classes, adult group fitness and personal training.

Anna Cate opened her first physical fitness center in a small, rented auto repair shop that she converted into a fitness center in 2015. Soon she had an overflow of members and was quickly outgrowing the building. Because of her desire to provide a first-class facility for her members, she and her husband built the brand new Rigs and Racks Fitness Center, and it opened for business in November 2017. It is located on the Highway 171 bypass in Many.

While constructing the new facility, Anna Cate included space for a small coffee shop/cafe in the building. After having operated as Altar, it will open under the management of Kristi Kor in January 2019 as the Hard Kor Cafe. The coffee shop will offer healthy keto and paleo-friendly foods as well as smoothies, salads, muffins, protein bars, soups and, of course, gourmet coffees. All items will be made from scratch each day. Anna Cate believes that eating healthily goes hand in hand with being physically fit.

Growing up in Many, both Anna Cate and Dustin were highly decorated student athletes.

Anna Cate excelled on the basketball court, softball field and in track/field. She was a two time state championship basketball player for Many High School. She went on to play Division 1 basketball for Northwestern State University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in health and human performance.

Dustin was an all-state athlete in football, baseball and track/field. He played Division 1 baseball at Centenary College where he received his degree in kinesiology.

Their common interests in sports, good health, and physical fitness made them a perfect match.
Both of them became teacher/coaches after college graduation. That is where they discovered their passion for helping others reach personal goals in sports and in life.

From these experiences, Anna Cate and Dustin knew that reaching a goal demands hard work, determination and focus. They began to think of ways to reach their dreams and goals and, at the same time, return to live in their hometown of Many.

Through Rigs and Racks Fitness Center, Anna Cate Williams Wright has brought her physical fitness values and standards to her hometown of Many with a new and different sort of business that improves the lives of the people it serves.

For these reasons the Many Christmas Committee and Many Mayor Ken Freeman are proud to name Anna Cate Williams Wright the “Young Achiever of 2018.”

The ‘DeLIGHTful’ Christmas lights will officially light up the Town of Many this Friday, Nov. 23 – the day after Thanksgiving, when Many Mayor Ken Freeman throws the switch to turn them on at 6 p.m.

Many citizens and residents are expected to line downtown San Antonio Ave. to see the new lights that Many workers have worked hard for several weeks to install.

“This year we want Many to be ablaze with Christmas lights. Last year we had some problems and were unable to light up the town. But we made it our goal in 2018 to light up Many and get everyone in the Christmas spirit with our awesome lights display,” Mayor Freeman said.

“I want to especially thank our city workers for the many hours and weekends they put into lining San Antonio Ave. with beautiful Christmas lights. It was really hard and painstaking work, and they all rose to the challenge. We have a dedicated crew of workers in Many, and each one of them has worked hard to make sure we have ‘a DeLIGHTful Christmas’ in 2018,” the mayor concluded.

Before the lights are turned on at 6 o’clock, Santa Claus will pay an unofficial visit to the Many Cultural District when he arrives at Bayou Crawfish restaurant, located downtown, at 5:30 p.m. to visit with children and their families.

Families are then invited to walk outside and watch for the Christmas lights to light up San Antonio Avenue.

“Music in Many” is also getting in on the action. The Playmates will also play on Friday evening, from 6 to 9 pm. at Bayou Crawfish.

These upcoming weekend activities are the official beginning of ‘A DeLIGHTful Christmas’ Festival theme in Many during the month of December 2018.

A busy holiday calendar featuring lots of music, plays, dance recitals, movies and more is planned to keep everyone in the Christmas spirit this holiday season.

This year’s “A DeLIGHTful Christmas” in Sabineland promises something fun for everyone!

Lights, lights, and more lights! Music, dance, plays, movies, parades, fireworks, shopping: that’s what you’ll see in downtown Many during this year’s 2018 Christmas Festival.

It all begins Nov. 23, the day after Thanksgiving when Many Mayor Ken Freeman turns on the ‘DeLIGHTFul’ Christmas lights throughout Many from City Hall at 6 p.m.

The 2018 holiday calendar is filled with Christmas season activities so folks can stay in town and enjoy Christmas cheer in Many.

A highlight is always the Christmas parade. Gay Corley, chairperson of the Christmas Committee for several years, has worked hard again in 2018 to plan a huge parade on Saturday, Dec. 22. The parade starts at 2 downtown Many. Corley said the parade is later than usual this year because of the elections in early December and other towns’ parades.

After the parade, the Bucky Slay Memorial Fireworks will erupt at 6 p.m. down at the Many Fair Grounds. There will be lots of activities and vendors to enjoy at the fairgrounds after the parade downtown, and before the fairground fireworks.

The Kids’ Annual Christmas Party is also scheduled for Dec. 22 at the Many Community Center at 7 p.m. after the fireworks spectacular is over. “Star,” a traditional Christmas movie, will show free of charge for children and their families. Admission is free and popcorn and soft drinks are only $1 each.

Lovers of Christmas will have lots to do every weekend and on several weekdays during the month of December.

The Depot Art Guild will host “Christmas on the Tracks” at the Many Depot Art Gallery. The event is a special Christmas sale, where shoppers can admire and purchase one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts. It opens at 5 p.m. with a reception on Thursday, Nov. 29, and stays open until 8 p.m. for shopping. Shopping continues on Friday, Nov. 30, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. The Art Gallery will be open again from 10 a.m. Saturday until 6 p.m.

Shanna Gaspard, president of the Depot Art Guild, said artists have worked hard all year to create really special, unique gifts for Christmas, including paintings, sculptures, decorated gourds, lamps, jewelry, and Christmas tree ornaments. She said, “If you’ve got a special someone that you want to gift with something truly unique but you don’t know what, then I promise you can find it at the Depot Art Gallery during our annual ‘Christmas on the Tracks’ sale.”

This year for the first time, there will be Community Christmas Caroling in downtown Many on Dec. 8, 15, 19 and 22. Becky Miller, known for her talented dance and music students, is planning this new event.

Music is an important part of this year’s Christmas Festival in Many. The annual Christmas Cantata will take place at the First United Methodist Church at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 6. Musician Mike Morris said practice has been underway for some time now.

The classic Charles Dickens play “A Christmas Carol,” under the direction of the talented actress and director Mary Bozeman, will be presented at Many Community Center at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8 and again at a matinee performance at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9.

The Miss Merry Christmas Pageant is scheduled for Monday, Dec.10, at 6 p.m. at Many Junior High School.

This year Becky Miller’s Studio B will present a Christmas Spectacular Dance Recital from 7 until 8 p.m. at the Many Fairgrounds on Tuesday, Dec. 13. The talented and charismatic dance students always draw a huge crowd to enjoy their performances.

The award-winning Many High School Band will present its annual Christmas Concert at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec.14 at the Many Community Center. Band Director Joe DuBose said students are excited about performing on stage for this special Christmas program.

The 2nd annual “Down Home Christmas Pickin’” with Willie Stewart, Family and Friends at Sabine Theater [Many Community Center] takes place on Saturday, Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. Last Christmas it proved to be one of the biggest and most beloved new Christmas traditions for the town of Many.

Stewart and his family are talented, popular musicians who always draw a big crowd and never disappoint. The box office will open at 6 pm. and music lovers are urged to come early if they want to get good seats. Adult tickets are $8 and kids’ tickets are $5.

Stewart will be joined by his mandolin-playing son Bo, grandson Kelly, Kelly’s wife Clancey, who is the reigning Louisiana State Fiddle Champ and also a past Arkansas State Fiddle Champion. The Stewarts will be accompanied by Debbie Hillman on vocals, Steve Birdwell on vocals and guitar, and Laurie Gentry on vocals, bass, autoharp and spoons.

A Children’s Christmas Musical will be presented by Studio B Dance Company on Thursday, Dec.20 from 7 until 8:30 p.m. at the Many Community Center. Miller promises a delightful performance by the children.

This year’s festivities also include visits with Santa at City Hall, field trips for school children to the Many Community Center to watch special Christmas movies, free Christmas movies for the family, live music performances each Saturday night at Bayou Crawfish Restaurant from 6 until 9 p.m. with a special visit from Santa Claus at the popular restaurant at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 24.

And, of course, there’s the big Many Christmas Parade on Dec. 22, the main event for this year’s “A DeLIGHTful Christmas” celebration.

The Children’s Nativity at St. John the Baptist Church will take place at 4 p .m. on Monday, Dec. 24, to remind everyone of the real reason for the Christmas season. And a traditional candlelight Christmas Eve service will be held at First United Methodist Church of Many as well. It starts at 6 p.m.

Observations encourages all of our readers to spend Christmas Day with family and friends as we take time to celebrate Christ’s birth.

Santa Claus on one of his visits to Many for the Christmas Parade downtown.

That’s all for this Thanksgiving week. I love to hear your ideas for future articles, so please share your thoughts with me. Call (318) 332-8653 or email Past Observations columns are archived on our Facebook page, so be sure to visit and “like” us there. To print this week’s column, simply right-click on the column text and select “print.” Thanks for your faithful readership.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018





Conrad Cathey is on a one-man campaign to get upcoming tax elections postponed until the Sabine Assessor’s office completes a re-assessment of properties. See article below.


Radio Personality Tedd Dumas, right, is shown with World War II Veteran Charles Irving Davis. In observance of Veterans Day Monday, Mr. Davis was on Tedd’s popular “Open Line” program for more than an hour. Tedd called it one of the best programs he has had during his many years in broadcasting. Article to follow.

Former Sabine Parish Tax Assessor Conrad Cathey has started a one-man campaign to get five Sabine Parish government bodies to postpone upcoming tax elections until the Tax Assessor’s office completes re-assessment of property.
Here’s how Cathey said the matter unfolded: Earlier this year, the State Tax Commission ordered the Sabine Tax Assessor’s Office to re-assess all property because it is under-valued. Sabine was one of four parishes mandated to do so. The deadline for completion of the re-assessment is August of next year. Cathey noted it has been 10-15 years since property has been re-valued, and he said the re-appraisal will bring in more tax money.

Now, there are five taxing bodies with propositions on the Dec. 8 elections. They are as follows:
• Sabine Parish School Board, parish wide, three mills tax on all property subject to taxation, estimated to bring in $526,500 the first year, to run for 20 years.
• Road District No. 16, Ward 2, 15 mills for 10 years, expected to bring in $171,000 the first year.
• Road District No. 9, Ward 3, 10 mills for 10 years, expected to bring in $221,000 the first year.
• Fire Protection District No. 1, Wards 3 and 4, 6.84 mills for 10 years, expected to bring in $382,500 the first year.
• North Sabine Fire Protection District, 7 mills for 20 years, estimated to bring in $700,000 the first year.

If these estimates are correct, it means that the weary old working taxpayer will have to cough up about $2 million the first year. But it should be noted that if property assessments go up, so will the amount of taxes to be collected.

“The taxing bodies need to back off and wait until the Tax Assessor’s office finishes,” Cathey explained. “Then, if they need more taxes, they can call an election at that time.”

He said 15,524 home owners in Sabine Parish enjoy some or all homestead exemption with about 50% completely under homestead exemption.

“Taxing should be fair,” Cathey stated. “The whole expectation is that everyone should pay equally.”

Cathey pointed out the old lines often used during property tax elections: “Vote for it. You’ve got homestead exemption. It’s not gonna cost you anything.” He continued, “If you are going to vote for a tax, then you ought to be willing to pay for it.”

Continuing, he said, “The people will vote in favor of a property tax. The people who are paying those taxes are maxed out.”

In closing, Cathey said, “I urge you to contact your Tax Assessor and each governing body, especially the Police Jury and School Board and express your opinion. I can’t fight the fight by myself,” he said.

Cathey met Monday night with the School Board and it is reported that the body took no action on postponing the election.
What Conrad is saying makes sense. We hope the governing bodies will take his suggestion and wait for property re-evaluation.
If you wish to see what the property assessment is in Sabine Parish, go to Select Louisiana, then click on Sabine Parish.

Signs Along Life’s Highway

Saw this sign along Hwy. 171 in Florien on Sunday afternoon.


Tenth Judicial District Court Judge Desirée Dyess, left, of Natchitoches, and Third Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Elizabeth Pickett, right, of Many, along with Springhill City Court Judge John Slattery, center, and about 70 other judges from across Louisiana participated in a Rural Courts Seminar held in Natchitoches last week as a part of a judiciary continuing education program.

Charles Davis, left, and wife Ann shown some years ago in a cherished family photo.

Charles Davis, who lives out on Toledo Bend Lake, is a remaining World War II veteran who will be 93 on Dec. 15. This past Monday morning, in observance of Veterans Day, Tedd Dumas had Mr. Davis on his popular “Open Line” radio show. Because of the interest, his 30-minute show turned into more than an hour.

Mr. Davis joined the Navy on Dec. 16, 1941 when he was a mere 16 years old. He served about five years and two months. A brother, Albert, joined the Marines and served on the same ships, until he died on July 6, 1943 when the USS Helena was torpedoed.

On “Open Line,” Mr. Davis recounted his experiences in the harrowing days after the USS Helena went down. He spent over 36 hours in the Kula Gulf waters of the Pacific before being rescued. He said that was the scariest, lowest time in his years of service. As he and others treaded water in their life jackets for a part of two days and two nights, “I thought it was the end,” Davis said. But help finally came.

Mr. Davis served at Cape Esperance, two times in Guadacanal, Solomon Islands, New Georgia, Kula Gulf, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

Sixteen million Americans served in World War II. Of those, 291,557 were killed in battle, 113,842 others died in service and 670,846 received non-mortal wounds. Of those who served, about one-half million are still living. These veterans are passing quickly though, dying at a rate of about 372 per day.

During his service, Mr. Davis received medals for Combat Action, Unit Commendation, American Campaign, Asiatic Pacific Campaign, Victory Over Japan and World War II Victory.

Mr. Davis is a happy and thankful man, though he has traveled a long path battling post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD.)

“I’m thankful for every breath I have ever taken,” Davis shared. Several times during the program he lovingly referred to his wife Ann and how much she has meant to his life.

A native of Alexandria, Mr. Davis and his wife moved to Sabine Parish in 1969, retiring from the Alexandria Fire Department after 25 years of service.

To make a good occasion better, Tedd presented Mr. Davis with a large bag of gifts, which he graciously received. A heartfelt thank you to Mr. Davis for his friendship and for his service to our great country.


Do you love Classic Country? Then clear your calendar, and makes plans to hear the granddaughter of Loretta Lynn and grandson of Conway Twitty when they perform together at the historic Fisher Opera House on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 24, at 7 p.m.

This “Louisiana Woman Mississippi Man” tribute features Tayla Lynn and Tre Twitty. The pair are sure to entertain in fine style and bring back wonderful memories of Conway and Loretta’s heyday.

Tickets are only $25 in advance and may be purchased at West Louisiana Marble & Granite at 5422 Hwy. 171 S. in Hornbeck. For more information, call (318) 565-4694.







“Justice League” is the featured film for Movies in Many this Saturday, Nov. 17. It will show at 7 p.m. at the Many Community Center [Sabine Theater] on San Antonio Ave. in downtown Many. Admission is free and concessions are only $1 each.

The Movies in Many program is sponsored by the Town of Many, Mayor Ken Freeman and the Many Cultural District Advisory Committee as part of their efforts to provide abundant entertainment and activities for residents of Sabine.


A free Thanksgiving dinner will be served on Thanksgiving Day in Many thanks to the Black Heritage Festival organization and Trinity Baptist church.

The traditional Thanksgiving dinner, which consists of ham, turkey, dressing, green beans, candied yams, rolls and cake will be served on Thursday, Nov. 22, from noon until 2 p.m. at the old Many Junior High School. It is free to all who come. The hosts are expecting 100-120 people.

Mary Perry, chairperson for the Black Heritage Festival, said, “We are aware that there are people in our community who aren’t able to afford or prepare a Thanksgiving dinner, and we want every one of them to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving by our sharing and serving the homeless, the elderly, and those who are less fortunate than we are.”

“Thanksgiving is all about being grateful for the many blessings we have,” Perry continued. “This is our way of giving thanks and sharing our blessings with others. We do have homeless people, elderly people who are alone, and others who have just fallen on hard times. Perhaps now they can enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with people who care about them.”

She and the other organizers of the Thanksgiving Day meal are hopeful that others in the community will donate to the event by donating money to purchase food for the meal, or donating food such as turkeys or hams. Perry said the Sabine Parish of Chamber Commerce is also helping with donations. Gift cards to Walmart, Brookshire’s and Market Basket are also welcome because they will be used to purchase food for the meal.

If you would like to help with the Thanksgiving dinner or contribute to this heartfelt cause, please contact Mary Perry at (318) 508-2911 or Evelyn Bush at (318) 256-2917.

The big “Christmas in the Sky” Shreveport Regional Arts Council Dec. 8 fund raiser looks to be quite a féte this year. It will be held at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, where guests will experience the hustle and bustle of “Times Square” before rubbing elbows with Broadway divas and dashing, leading men on the Great White Way. Attendees can get up close and personal with the likes of Andrew Hamilton, “say hello” to Dolly and drink a toast “to life.”

Entertainment, dancing and auction opportunities will be abundant, and interested persons are encouraged to nab front row seats early, as they’re sure to be hot property amongst the expected crowd of 2,500.

Christmas in the Sky is Saturday, Dec. 8, and will feature cocktail buffets, open bars and valet parking. Dress is Broadway themed or black tie optional. Visit for tickets.




Cassidy Byles and Ella Bella, her favorite Bichon Frise and best friend –

We’re happy to report Ms. Cassidy Brooke Byles has been named the 2018 Honorary Grand Marshal for the Many Christmas Parade to be held Saturday, Dec. 22 at 2 p.m.

Cassidy is 28 years old and the proud owner of two local businesses – Brookelin Bichons and Hobo’s Hut. She has accomplished all of this despite the fact she was partially paralyzed in 2007 in an auto accident and for the last 11 years has been quadriplegic.

Cassidy has never allowed this to slow her down. She lives at home with her mother, Kathy Scaife and stepfather Jeff Prine. The two of them, along with an aide, and other family members including her grandfather, Doyle “Popcorn” Scaife, help Cassidy with her goals and to live a meaningful and busy life.

The Bichon business was planned by Cassidy and her late sister Kaitlin. The two worked together to start the business which now sells popular Bichon Frise puppies to good homes all over the U.S. Cassidy handles all of the business end of things on her computer and is also very hands-on with the puppies. This year, the business has already produced six litters of puppies, and all were sold.

Hobo’s Hut is a beloved snow cone stand business that operates in Many seasonally and keeps Cassidy and her family extra busy during the summer months.

Following her accident, Byles completed her high school GED, then attended Northwestern State University where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science. She has also served as a director for three years on the Governor’s Board of the Louisiana Board of Rehabilitation Services.

Cassidy is looking forward to being the Honorary Grand Marshal of the Many Christmas Parade. She is also glad the Christmas Festival Committee agreed that her sister Kaitlin could be honored by being named the Posthumous Honorary Grand Marshal. Cassidy explained, “Kaitlin didn’t get a lot of honors because she had this horrible disease [cystic fibrosis] and died too young. So Mom and I wanted to share this honor with her.”

   Let me hear from you. Share your thoughts and ideas for future articles. Call (318) 332-8653 or send an email to For past columns, visit our Observations Facebook page, where they are listed by date. To print a hard copy of this week’s Observations, right-click on the column and select Print.

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