Greenwood woman arrested for providing alcohol to juveniles at high school party

Dawn Elizabeth Cooper

Caddo Sheriff’s detectives recently made an arrest following an investigation into a concerning incident involving underage drinking. Dawn Elizabeth Cooper, a 45-year-old resident of Greenwood, was taken into custody on December 6th after warrants were issued in connection to her involvement in a high school after-party.

Detective BreAnna Gerbine, spearheading the inquiry, responded to a complaint regarding a gathering in the 7400 block of Golden Meadows in Greenwood on November 5th. The investigation unveiled Cooper’s presence at the location and her alleged provision of alcohol to juveniles present at the event.

Cooper faces serious charges, having been booked into Caddo Correctional Center on nine counts of Contributing to the Delinquency of Juveniles. Sheriff Steve Prator highlighted the severity of the situation, emphasizing the legal repercussions of such actions.

The arrest marks a critical step in ensuring the safety and well-being of minors within the community, underscoring law enforcement’s commitment to curbing incidents of underage alcohol consumption. The case remains under investigation, with authorities continuing efforts to address and prevent similar occurrences in the future.

CPSO arrests man for possession of child pornography

Douglas Scales

Caddo Sheriff’s detectives have apprehended a Shreveport resident, Douglas Scales, 65, for alleged distribution and possession of child pornography. Sheriff Steve Prator confirmed the arrest following a search warrant executed on December 7 at a residence situated in the 2200 block of Creswell Avenue.

The arrest came to light when Detective Thomas Lites, during the investigation, uncovered evidence indicating Scales’ involvement in the possession of child pornography materials.

Scales has been booked into the Caddo Correctional Center on 42 counts related to pornography involving juveniles. As the investigation progresses, Sheriff Prator emphasized that the inquiry remains ongoing.

This arrest underscores law enforcement’s commitment to addressing and confronting instances of child exploitation, highlighting the diligent efforts undertaken to ensure the safety and protection of minors. The Sheriff’s Office continues its vigilant efforts in this ongoing investigation.

Man sustains life-threatening injuries in Caddo Heights shooting

Shreveport law enforcement swiftly reacted to an incident at the 1500 block of Parker Street on Thursday, approximately at 4:13 p.m. Upon arrival, they discovered an individual grappling with severe injuries.

The victim was swiftly taken to a nearby hospital for immediate medical attention.

Reports from the police suggest that a person of interest has been recognized in connection with the incident.

The investigation remains active and ongoing at this time.

DOTD moves I-20 rehabilitation project into phase 2

The I-20 major rehabilitation project in Bossier City has transitioned into phase 2 of construction, starting on the night of Wednesday, November 29, 2023, for the westbound direction.

Traffic has shifted from the inside (left) lane, where it was flowing, to the outside (right) lane. The contractor has completed the installation of temporary diversion pavement to handle vehicles in this new lane configuration.

Motorists will now observe that concrete barricades have replaced the previous orange cones and barrels. These barricades will separate travel lanes from the reconstruction area.

This transition signifies a significant milestone in the project, as it initiates the demolition work to remove the existing pavement and roadway base for future replacement.

Anticipated to last approximately 10-11 months once both directions of the interstate are fully shifted into phase 2, the progress of this work will be subject to weather conditions and other factors.

It’s crucial for drivers to eliminate distractions while behind the wheel, drive cautiously through the construction zone, and remain vigilant of crews and equipment on site. I-220 remains the primary detour to avoid congestion related to the construction project, and all trucks (commercial vehicles) are strongly advised to use this detour route.

Bossier Chamber of Commerce’s 2024 annual gala: Celebrating regional success

The Bossier Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for its annual gala on Thursday, February 1, 2024, from 5:30-8 p.m. Known as Northwest Louisiana’s largest networking event, this gathering marks a celebration of the region’s achievements in 2023 and looks ahead to upcoming opportunities.

The gala will witness the installation of new Chamber officers and recognition of outstanding contributions by local businesses. The highlight of the evening will be the presentation of prestigious awards like Business of the Year and Business Person of the Year to exceptional chamber members.

This event is more than just a social affair; it underscores the commitment to progress and collaboration within Northwest Louisiana’s business community. As leaders, entrepreneurs, and stakeholders convene, the gala represents a unified effort towards fostering growth and innovation in the region.

Stay updated on the Bossier Chamber of Commerce’s 2024 annual gala for highlights and insights into this significant celebration of regional success. (Note: Event details are subject to change; refer to official Chamber communications for updates.)

Goodwill Industries to host reentry simulation event ‘A day in the life’ today

Goodwill Industries is taking a proactive step in shedding light on the hurdles faced by formerly incarcerated individuals reintegrating into society. This insightful event from 9-11 a.m. today aims to break barriers and build understanding.

In an effort to address the challenges faced by those returning from incarceration, Goodwill Industries of North Louisiana is organizing the inaugural Reentry Simulation Event today at the First Methodist Church in Shreveport. This collaborative effort with the Louisiana Department of Corrections and the Northwest Louisiana Reentry Coalition seeks to amplify awareness about the struggles and complexities of reentering society after prison.

The event’s centerpiece is a two-hour interactive simulation designed to immerse participants in the real-life challenges faced by individuals returning home from prison. Through various tasks and time constraints, attendees will experience firsthand the obstacles involving employment, housing, healthcare, and societal reintegration.

This initiative underscores Goodwill Industries’ commitment to advocating for successful reentry into society. David Tinkis, Goodwill’s President and CEO, emphasized the importance of collective efforts in supporting returning citizens on their journey back to normalcy.

The event presents a valuable opportunity for community stakeholders to gain empathy, deepen their understanding of the criminal justice system, and reframe perceptions about individuals seeking to reintegrate into society post-incarceration. For more details about the event or Goodwill’s reentry programs, reach out to Kayla Cayer, Northwest Louisiana Reentry Community Coordinator, at 318-629-5916 or

About Goodwill Industries of North Louisiana: Established in 1926, Goodwill Industries of North Louisiana is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing education, training, and career services to individuals facing barriers or disabilities. With a mission to empower individuals through work, Goodwill has positively impacted 50,000 lives since 2005. Through their retail locations, employment opportunities, and various support services, Goodwill continues to transform lives and communities.

For more information on Goodwill Industries of North Louisiana programs or services, visit

Column: Money Matters – the role of insurance in a financial plan

By Matt Bankston, CFP®

In the world of financial planning, a robust foundation extends beyond a mere emergency fund. Last week, we delved into the pivotal role of this fund. This week, let’s delve deeper into fortifying your financial structure through strategic insurance usage, specifically focusing on disability and life insurance.

Understanding Risk Management

Safeguarding your financial future heavily relies on managing risks. Our income stands as a critical asset, making it vital to shield against unforeseen circumstances. Disability and life insurance act as essential shields, mitigating risks and ensuring financial stability in the face of unexpected events.

The Case for Term Insurance

Term insurance emerges as a cost-effective solution, especially for younger individuals. The premise is simple yet impactful: securing protection at a manageable cost during prime years. But how much insurance is sufficient? Here, some rules of thumb come into play.

Calculating Your Insurance Needs

Determining the right life insurance amount can be approached through various methodologies tailored to different financial scenarios. Here are some established methods:

  • Income Multiplier Method: A widely adopted approach suggests aiming for at least 10 times your annual salary in life insurance coverage. For example, a yearly income of $50,000 would warrant coverage of $500,000, with an additional $100,000 advised for each child above the 10x threshold.

  • Years-Until-Retirement Strategy: Multiply your annual salary by the number of years until retirement. For instance, a 40-year-old earning $20,000 annually might need $500,000 in coverage (25 years × $20,000) to safeguard their family’s future.

  • Standard-of-Living Assessment: Calculate the sum required to maintain your family’s standard of living post your passing by multiplying the needed annual amount by 20, allowing survivors to withdraw approximately 5% annually from the death benefit while sustaining financial stability through investment returns.

  • DIME Method: Designed to cover essential expenses, this approach accounts for debts, mortgage, education, and income replacement until children reach adulthood.

Each method offers a unique perspective on assessing life insurance needs. Tailoring calculations to your circumstances, financial goals, and family dynamics can pinpoint the best approach. Consulting with a qualified financial advisor can further refine these calculations for tailored coverage.

The Power of Layered Protection

An innovative approach gaining traction is layered term insurance. Imagine building a pyramid of protection, starting with shorter-term policies and extending coverage gradually as financial stability grows. This adaptable strategy optimizes your insurance portfolio to align with evolving needs and growing financial security.

Integrating insurance into your financial blueprint fortifies the foundation laid by emergency funds. While an emergency fund cushions immediate blows, insurance safeguards against substantial financial upheavals.

Securing your financial future involves a multifaceted approach. Embrace risk management principles through disability and life insurance to fortify your ability to navigate unforeseen challenges. Shielding our income, a cornerstone of financial stability, demands proactive planning and layered protection strategies.

Willis-Knighton surgeons celebrate 50th Focal One™ case

Dr. Gerard Henry

WK Bossier Health Center commemorated a significant achievement on Monday: the completion of the 50th case utilizing Focal One™ technology in treating prostate cancer. This noninvasive procedure, tailored for individuals with localized prostate cancer, debuted last December at WK Bossier. Dr. Gerard Henry initiated the first case last year, and on Monday, marked the 50th procedure, alongside urologists Dr. W. Stewart Bundrick Jr. and Dr. Christopher Wilson, who also offer the Focal One™ procedure.

Focal One™ merges real-time ultrasound image guidance with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and 3D biopsy data. Through a probe, the physician navigates to the tumor in real time, directing high-speed ultrasound energy specifically at the targeted area and ablating solely the affected portion of the prostate without incisions.

Dr. Henry remarked, “For low volume, low grade prostate cancer, Focal One™ stands as a very secure treatment option.”

This procedure resonates with patients as it minimizes the impact of urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction often associated with radical prostatectomy and traditional radiation.

Focal One™ represents one among several advanced services offered to prostate cancer patients at various stages of their illness. Alongside Proton therapy, Pluvicto is part of the array of cutting-edge cancer treatments at Willis-Knighton—the sole healthcare facility in Louisiana providing proton therapy.

Rock legend James Burton to represent Shreveport-Bossier in 2024 Rose Parade®

James Burton

Shreveport-Bossier eagerly anticipates its representation in the upcoming 2024 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. James Burton, renowned for his iconic guitar talent and a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, will be the city’s distinguished ambassador on Louisiana’s float during this celebratory event on January 1, 2024.

Stacy Brown, president and CEO of Visit Shreveport-Bossier, expressed enthusiasm for the city’s return to the Rose Parade. “We’re thrilled to celebrate the unique essence of our cities once more,” Brown stated. Highlighting the parade’s musical theme, Brown emphasized Burton’s fitting role as Shreveport-Bossier’s representative.

Burton’s roots trace back to Shreveport, where he discovered a ’53 Fender Telecaster at the age of 14, igniting an extraordinary musical journey. From composing the famous track “Suzie Q” to becoming a staple musician on the Louisiana Hayride radio show, Burton’s career milestones include collaborations with iconic artists and his tenure as Elvis Presley’s band leader until 1977.

With a knack for humor and unparalleled talent, Burton has left an indelible mark on the music industry. His influence spans generations of guitarists, earning him accolades and inductions into various prestigious halls of fame.

Recognized for his signature fiery red paisley flames on his Fender Telecaster, Burton and Fender are set to release a new Telecaster featuring blue paisley flames, with a forthcoming signature guitar. Beyond his musical achievements, Burton’s foundation, established in 2005, supports music education and donates instruments to various groups in need.

Accompanying Burton in the parade will be his two grown grandchildren, Skylar Blythe and Taylor Burton, both seasoned performers who have graced stages worldwide alongside their grandfather. His wife of 65 years, Louise, will also be present in the stands to support this momentous occasion.

The 2024 Rose Parade®, part of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses®, will take place on Monday, Jan. 1. The parade, featuring numerous entries, will be broadcast live at 10:00 am CT on ABC (KTBS-TV) and NBC (KTAL-TV), traversing a 5.5-mile route through Pasadena.

Column: @Practice

Meredith and Stephen Bell

Sam and Change

Once, I had to facilitate a change in my life. I love the outdoors, and more specifically I greatly enjoy hunting waterfowl. I developed this hobby in 2015. I also love dogs, and during my first duck season I decided it was time for a new Labrador retriever. Before I knew it, I had adopted Sam (an eighteen-month-old-black lab) into my family. With a lot of work and training, we were hunting together by the end of that first season.

Towards the end of our second season together, it became clear that Sam was developing some bad habits in the duck blind. Specifically, he whined – a lot! Maybe he didn’t like the cold. Maybe he was still suffering from the way his previous owners had neglected him (although, an animal psychologist I am not). Maybe he was simply high strung. During the off season I read everything I could get my hands on about curbing a hunting dog’s tendencies to whine, I worked with him daily. I even had him fixed, but nothing helped.

Quickly in our third season together I noticed that a change needed to be made. Ducks would fly in on us, Sam would see them before I would, he would get monstrously (weighing in at 105 pounds) restless, the whining would begin, and then his whines would turn to howls. I love to duck hunt. Sam loves to retrieve. I don’t think he quite made the connection that if he howled at the ducks, then they would spook, fly away, which would prohibit me from taking them, which would prohibit him from retrieving them.

Long story short – Sam is no longer welcome in my duck blind. He is, however, still a vital part of the team. He helps me put out the decoys (he’s a very smart dog). We play a little bit in the dark, muddy water before sunrise. And then he goes back into his crate (which is in the bed of my truck), lays down on his warm, soft bed, and goes back to sleep (until it’s time to retrieve the ducks off the water, or find birds that have lost their way). That’s what I call win-win. Sam gets to retrieve, and I get ducks.

But this change was not an easy one to make. I had to recognize the problem, I had to take it seriously, and then I had to do something about it. I worked with Sam on this specific issue for over nine months. When those efforts were not fruitful, I moved on to Plan B, and it has worked marvelously. But I miss Sam in my duck blind, and his annoying, noisy, obnoxious, impish, pesky, wet, wonderful, best-dog-in-the-world self. That being said, we are a stronger waterfowl-harvesting team now than we have ever been.

So, what about you? For the remainder of this article, I have recruited a top-notch team of professionals to help us transform into new people by changing the way we think (as Paul puts it in Romans 12:2). They each have a word of wisdom to share with us on this journey of change and growth.

  • I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination” (Jimmy Dean) – There are many circumstances that are beyond our control, but that doesn’t mean we give up or do nothing. We grit our teeth, roll up our sleeves, and get to work.
  • If there is no struggle, there is no progress” (Frederick Douglass) – Anything worth doing is going to entail challenges, difficulties, struggles, and conflict. We are not looking for ease, we are looking for growth.
  • Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me” (Carol Burnett) – Personal growth is just that… personal! We have to own our shortcomings, and be willing to invest in ourselves if we want to experience growth.
  • Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world” (Harriet Tubman) – There is more potential inside of you than you could ever imagine. I know this because God is the very one who has placed the potential there. I pray you live into your God-given potential!
  • If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude” (Maya Angelou) – Perhaps the greatest change we need to make is internal, our attitude and our thinking (since this is what drives our behavior).
  • Change your thoughts and you change the world” (Norman Vincent Peale) – When our thinking/attitudes change, our behaviors change, our hearts change, then the world changes for the better. The internal and personal growth we experience floods our networks and neighborhoods, revealing the truth that the fruit of our labors are not limited only to ourselves.
  • You must be the change you wish to see in the world” (Mahatma Gandhi) – We can no longer say, “Somebody do something about that.” You want to live in a better world? Then the question is, “What are you doing about it?”

One last thing before we get started. Personal change is quite impossible without external help. As a Christian and a pastor, I know that this sort of growth will not happen without the presence of God and the participation of others. But with God’s help, and the support of good people, all things are possible. 

Join us every Thursday as we explore practices that connect us with our Creator God. God’s greatest desire is to BE with us. Spiritual practices keep us in the flow of the Holy Spirit and God’s presence. We are thrilled you are here and @Practice with us. This simple moment can be a retreat from daily life and a space for you to BE with God in your every day activities.

Meredith and Steven Bell share many things in common and share many differences. They met 24 years ago in Dallas, Texas while studying theology. With each having a science degree already, they both decided a theology degree was the next right step. For the past 24 years, they have served communities in ministry together in a number of different ways. The relationships they have built along the way with friends, colleagues and churches is a blessing to their lives. The biggest blessing is being parents to two amazing young women. From diapers to driver’s licenses, they have parented, laughed, sacrificed, loved, prayed, cried, and grown together. Their differences simply make life interesting. Growing up in different states, listening to different music, enjoying different hobbies and just seeing the world around them differently keeps conversations lively! You can find Steven at First Methodist Church of Shreveport most days unless he is looking for waterfowl with his dog, Sam. You can find Meredith writing grants for non-profits and coaching people in ministry. More than anything, you can find the Bells living grateful lives. We are grateful to live in Shreveport and even more grateful to join with others to spread hope, love, and faith in the community!

Unveiling the Parish Commission’s 2024 budget blueprint

The Parish Commission, under President Roy Burrell’s leadership, has revealed the comprehensive roadmap guiding the Parish’s direction for 2024. This budget, meticulously designed to align resources, strategies, and goals, signifies the Commission’s commitment to prudent financial management.

Crucially, the 2024 budget achieves balance, ensuring that “the budget reflects the resources, strategies, and goals of the Parish in the delivery of public services to our citizens,” as stated by Burrell. Despite this stability, the Parish remains vigilant of potential shifts in both local and national landscapes.

Key areas of focus within the 2024 budget have been identified:

Addressing Critical Challenges:

  • Juvenile Justice Budget Deficits: Persistent deficits in this sector remain a priority for resolution.
  • Operational Expenses at Caddo Correctional Center (CCC): Alleviating increased operational costs is a crucial facet of the financial agenda.
  • Local Economic Development: Investment in initiatives to bolster local economic growth.

To enhance operational efficiency and bolster services for citizens, a reorganization plan has been approved. This involves transforming the Information Systems Division and Communications Division into distinct, independent departments. Tracy Calloway and Krystle Beauchamp will lead these departments as Information Systems Director and Communications Director, respectively.

Prioritizing Infrastructural Development

The 2024 budget underscores numerous capital outlay projects aimed at enhancing the Parish’s infrastructure. These projects include road and bridge improvements, Parish facility enhancements, and upgrades to parks, notably the eagerly awaited Walter B. Jacobs Memorial Nature Park, scheduled for completion in 2025.

“We are confident that the 2024 budget is one that preserves funding for the essential services upon which our citizens rely,” affirmed Erica R. Bryant, Parish Administrator and CEO. Bryant reiterated the commitment to sound fiscal management across all departments, ensuring adaptability to evolving service demands while optimizing existing resources.

The 2024 budget, a testament to prudent planning and strategic allocation, stands poised to fortify the foundation of essential services while embracing dynamic shifts, thereby steering the Parish towards a future of enhanced functionality and serviceability.

Preliminary steps underway for $361 million Jimmie Davis Bridge project in Bossier and Caddo parishes

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has initiated preliminary site work for the ambitious $361 million project aimed at constructing a new LA 511 (Jimmie Davis Bridge) across the Red River, connecting Bossier and Caddo Parishes.

Despite crucial elements like the new bridge and roadway approaches remaining in the design phase, observable initial actions are underway in close proximity to the existing bridge.

Presently, clearing and grubbing operations are in progress, entailing the removal of various types of vegetation situated in the right-of-way.

Moreover, on-site activities include the assembly of a crane and the arrival of steel, slated for the construction of a trestle bridge facilitating work crews during the erection of the new bridge spans.

Significantly, major construction for the new four-lane bridge, planned just north of the current structure, is still roughly a year away while design work persists.

Part of the design phase encompasses repurposing the existing bridge into a linear park, linking the pre-existing bicycle and pedestrian trails on both sides of the Red River.

Expected to be executed via a design-build approach, the Jimmie Davis Bridge project is projected to span approximately five years for full completion.

Celebrate Christmas in harmony: This is Jesus concert arrives in Shreveport

Shreveport gears up for a soulful celebration at the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium this evening, at 7:30 PM. The event, featuring renowned artists Tauren Wells, Katy Nichole, and Jordan Smith, promises an enchanting evening of live music and worship.

Witness the magic of the Christmas season through captivating performances by these celebrated artists. Tickets, starting at $25, offer a chance to immerse yourself in the joyful melodies and inspiring voices of these award-winning musicians.

Unveiling Shreveport’s Best Christmas Ever Short Essay Contest

Shreveport is gearing up for a heartwarming celebration this December with the Best Christmas Ever Short Essay Contest, hosted by Love Shreveport. Open to Elementary, Middle School, and High School students, this contest invites young writers to share their most cherished Christmas memories.

From December 8-20, letters will be accepted at two locations: the Bilberry Community Center on 1902 Alabama Ave. and the Government Plaza on 505 Travis St. Participants are encouraged to pen down their best Christmas experiences, aiming for the chance to win exciting prizes available for 1st place winners in each division.

In these letters, students should include their first and last name, age, grade, full address, and contact number. It’s an opportunity for budding writers to express their holiday joy while fostering a sense of community spirit.

The Best Christmas Ever Short Essay Contest promises to spread cheer and create lasting memories, uniting Shreveport’s young talents in a celebration of shared experiences. Join in, share your story, and illuminate this holiday season with the magic of your words!

Shreveport Police make arrest in 2020 stabbing incident

Jerriann Davis

The Shreveport Police Department has apprehended Jerriann Davis, aged 30, in connection with a stabbing incident from September 6, 2020, in the 1800 block of Acorn Street. Warrants were issued post the incident, leading to the collaborative efforts of the Shreveport Police Warrant Unit and the Shreveport City Marshals Office, resulting in Davis’s successful apprehension on December 5, 2023.

Charged with second-degree aggravated battery, Davis’s arrest follows the recovery of the victim, who received medical treatment for the stab wounds incurred during the incident. The authorities appreciate the dedication of their officers and partner agencies in bringing closure to this case. It’s important to note that all suspects are deemed innocent until proven guilty.

Bossier Sheriff’s Deputy honored for life-saving actions

Deputy Matthew Bragg receives award (Photo courtesy of Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Dept.)

Deputy Matthew Bragg of the Bossier Sheriff’s Department was recently recognized by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) for his heroic actions that saved a life. Bragg was awarded the VFW’s Medal of Honor and received a Certificate of Appreciation from Emmitt Smith and Max Arends.

The commendation stems from Bragg’s swift and decisive actions on May 26th, 2023. During a gathering to bid farewell to a fellow law enforcement officer at a local restaurant, Bragg performed life-saving measures on BCPD Captain Todd Hylbert. Thanks to Bragg’s timely intervention, Captain Hylbert not only survived but has since returned to duty.

Sheriff Whittington lauded Bragg’s bravery, emphasizing his exceptional dedication to duty, both on and off duty. The sheriff expressed immense pride in Bragg’s actions during this critical event, highlighting them as a testament to his unwavering commitment.

This recognition stands as a testament to Bragg’s quick thinking and unwavering dedication to public service, embodying the very essence of heroism.

Caddo Parish Sheriff election voided: New runoff ordered amid voting irregularities

By Matt Bankston

A recent judicial ruling has upended the outcome of the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s election, declaring the runoff null and void due to significant irregularities uncovered during the legal proceedings. The case, pitting John Nickelson against Henry Whitehorn, exposed critical issues that raised questions about the legitimacy of the results.

The court’s scrutiny revealed a one-vote margin victory initially declared for Whitehorn, but upon closer examination, 11 votes were deemed invalid. These votes, comprising instances of double voting, ineligible voters, and non-compliant absentee/mail-in ballots, cast doubt on the fairness and accuracy of the election outcome.

According to the judgment, these irregularities made it impossible to ascertain the genuine results, prompting the court to order a new runoff election. E. Joseph Bleich, presiding judge, emphasized the necessity for a fresh election to uphold the sanctity of the electoral process and ensure fair representation for the constituents.

Key Findings:

Voting Irregularities Uncovered:

“The evidence at trial was presented in three categories, including: double voting; interdiction; and irregularities regarding absentee and mail-in ballots.” — Judge’s ruling highlighted multiple irregularities impacting the election’s integrity.

Eleven Invalid Votes:

“This court finds that at least eleven votes should not have been counted in this one-vote margin election.” — Judge identified 11 votes improperly counted, raising significant concerns about the election’s accuracy.

Necessity for a New Runoff:

“It defies logic…to conclude that it is possible to determine the accurate results of the runoff election, especially considering the one-vote margin.” — The court stressed the impossibility of determining the true outcome, underscoring the need for a fresh election.

Upholding Election Integrity:

“A new runoff election is necessary…to ensure the public’s right to untainted election results.” — The judgment prioritizes the public’s right to fair and untainted election outcomes, with Bleich signaling a commitment to electoral integrity.

With this ruling, Bleich underscores the pivotal role of the judiciary in safeguarding the integrity of democratic processes. The decision not only impacts the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s election but also emphasizes his view advocating a broader need for stringent oversight to maintain the credibility of electoral procedures.

Christmas in Roseland: A magical winter wonderland

The gardens are sparkling with holiday cheer as Christmas in Roseland, our biggest fundraiser, returns for its 40th year! From November 23 to December 23 (with special Encore Nights on Dec. 18-23), experience the enchantment every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

This year’s highlight? The Dec. 8-11 Christmas Market boasting delightful handmade goods from soaps to wood products, perfect for unique gifting. But the true heart-stealers? The stunning Christmas Cards to the Community, crafted by local school kids, showcasing their creativity in 8’ x 4’ masterpieces.

Admission is a steal at $10 per person or $30 for a family pack. Kids 2 and under enter free. Got a big group? We’ve got group rates! Just reach out to Kim at 318-938-5402 for reservations.

And hey, here’s a tip: snag a $5 OFF Admission coupon from the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau office in downtown Shreveport. Don’t miss out on this magical festive treat!

Centenary to host STEAM educator symposium in February 2024

Centenary’s education department and Center for Teaching and Learning have joined forces to craft an innovative event for Shreveport-Bossier City’s education community. The inaugural Full STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) Ahead Teacher Symposium for local educators is scheduled for February 8 and 9, 2024, on the Centenary campus. This two-day event will encompass workshops, interactive collaborative sessions, individual presentations, panel discussions, and poster exhibitions. Notably, Dennis “DJ” Pevey, 2024’s Louisiana High School Teacher of the Year and a Centenary alumnus, will be a keynote speaker at the symposium.

The Full STEAM Ahead symposium aims to offer professional development and networking prospects for both current and aspiring educators. It welcomes K-12 teachers, college/university educators in STEAM fields, administrators, community leaders, and professional development providers. Early bird registration costs $45 per person until January 5, 2024, and rises to $60 per person until January 15. Registration details are available at

Symposium organizers are actively seeking presentation proposals exploring the influential role of connection in fostering progress and comprehension. Among the questions posed to attendees are, “How can we enhance connections across disciplines, specialties, grade levels, districts, and regions?” and “How do we establish links from novices to mentors, schools to communities, pedagogy to practice, and curiosity to process?”

Workshop proposals, interactive “make and take” session ideas, as well as individual and group presentation proposals, should be submitted at by December 10. Invitations for presenters will be sent out in early January 2024.

Dr. Terrie Johnson, chair of the Education Department at Centenary, elucidated, “The Full STEAM Ahead Teacher Symposium will focus on Kinetic Connections—connections that exchange energy! Our aim is to foster connections among STEAM content area educators, between seasoned and new educators, between K-12 and higher education educators, and between community partners and educators. Ultimately, these connections will benefit educators and, most importantly, students.”

For more information, proposal submission, and registration, visit

Shreveport Police Department honors 2023 D.A.R.E Graduates

The Shreveport Police Department is proud to honor the fifth-grade students of the City of Shreveport as they prepare to graduate this fall semester from various elementary schools, having taken the D.A.R.E. pledge to abstain from drugs. Over the past 17 weeks, officers dedicated to the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program have diligently educated these young minds.

This comprehensive program covers vital topics such as responsibility, informed decision-making about health and drug use, understanding actions’ consequences, managing peer pressure, coping with stress, communication skills, bullying identification and reporting, ultimately shaping these students into exemplary citizens.

Under the guidance of highly trained officers, students have gained crucial tools to resist peer pressure and lead healthy lives. Role-playing exercises allowed active engagement, teaching practical strategies for pressure resistance and sound decision-making.

The officers’ credibility as instructors is unquestionable due to their firsthand experience within schools and the community, earning them respect and trust. By instilling invaluable lessons and empowering students, the department equips them to navigate challenges they might face.

Graduation ceremonies are scheduled as follows:

  • December 7, 9 a.m. – Summer Grove Elem
  • December 13, 9 a.m. – Judson Elem
  • December 8, 8:45 a.m. – Turner Elem
  • December 13, 9 a.m. – Riverside Elem
  • December 8, 1:00 p.m. – A.C. Steere Elem
  • December 13, 1:00 p.m. – Eden Garden Elem
  • December 11, 8:30 a.m. – Shreve Island Elem
  • December 14, 9 a.m. – Claiborne Elem
  • December 11, 9 a.m. – Southern Hills Elem
  • December 14, 9 a.m. – Forest Hill Elem
  • December 12, 9 a.m. – Pine Grove Elem
  • December 14, 8:30 a.m. – Cherokee Park Elem
  • December 12, 9:30 a.m. – Midway Elem
  • December 15, 9 a.m. – Caddo Heights Elem

Chief Wayne Smith and the Shreveport Police Department express gratitude to the dedicated D.A.R.E unit – Sergeant Jason Jones, Sergeant Brieco Savannah, Corporal Vy’Andrea Williams, Corporal Roderick Lewis, and Corporal Gregory Washington. They invite the community to celebrate the students’ achievements at these graduation ceremonies.

CPSO detectives arrests man for multiple burglaries

Charles Adam Philyaw

Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator announced the arrest of Charles Adam Philyaw, 34, in connection with several burglary incidents. The alleged burglaries, which took place on June 12, included the theft of shooting bows from the North Caddo Shooting Club, fishing equipment from a nearby cabin, and a rifle from a residential property in Mooringsport.

Sheriff’s detectives, following a thorough investigation prompted by the break-ins, identified Philyaw through video surveillance footage obtained from the North Caddo Shooting Club. Detectives Justin Sundquist, Matthew Purgerson, and Jeremy Edward secured an arrest warrant for Philyaw, who also had an outstanding warrant with the Blanchard Police Department.

On November 28, Philyaw was apprehended in Blanchard and subsequently booked into the Caddo Correctional Center. He faces charges including three counts of Simple Burglary, Theft of a Firearm, Resisting an Officer, and Possession of Schedule II (Methamphetamine).

As the investigation continues, authorities are gathering additional information related to these incidents.

Digital arts students using artificial intelligence in final video projects

Senior digital arts major Victoria Pouncy discusses her video project with professor Jason Mackowiak in the LSUS Esports Lab. (CREDIT: Caitlin LeBlanc/LSUS Media Relations)

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been making waves in workplaces, streamlining redundant and repetitive tasks. However, its integration in educational settings, particularly classrooms, is gaining momentum.

LSUS digital arts professor, Jason Mackowiak, has adopted AI, such as ChatGPT, in his digital video editing class to enable students to focus solely on honing their video editing skills.

For their final projects, students are tasked with curating stock videos into comprehensive packages centered on their chosen topics. These videos typically span two to three minutes.

Mackowiak’s approach involves leveraging AI to generate video scripts and voiceovers, allowing students to devote their time specifically to refining their editing prowess. “In a digital video editing class, I aimed to prioritize editing skills without the need for extensive scriptwriting or voiceovers,” Mackowiak explained. “We created prompts, ran multiple iterations, and selected the best script for each project. We refined these scripts, removing non-dialogue segments, and used AI software for generating voiceovers.”

Victoria Pouncy, a senior digital arts major with a background in traditional art, found the interaction with AI invaluable, despite initial uncertainties about its use in the class. “AI script generation saved me hours,” expressed Pouncy, who is crafting a video on yoga. “Without it, I would have spent time scripting and contemplating what to convey. While I’m comfortable using AI for wording, I remain cautious about its application in drawing or design. However, I’ve utilized it to seek art references for inspiration when I’m stuck.”

Another senior, Mason Garner, passionate about hummingbirds, is producing a video on the subject. “I lack a biology background, so scripting this video would have required extensive research,” Garner remarked. “AI has been instrumental in generating the script. It serves as a valuable reference tool, although it’s crucial to recognize its potential misuse in creating misleading narratives.”

The primary AI software used in this project includes ChatGPT and ChatAI, with Bing and Canva also undergoing testing.

Mackowiak emphasizes the importance of acquainting students with AI tools, aligning them with industry trends. “Familiarity with available software is crucial. Proficiency in AI tools will be a necessity in their future endeavors,” he emphasized. “However, understanding when and where AI is effective is equally vital. This project is an evaluation of their ability to select stock videos and apply their editing skills to craft compelling content. AI serves as a supplementary tool, focusing on the skills we intend to assess.”

At LSUS, the role of artificial intelligence in academia is under scrutiny. An exploratory committee produced a best practices document in May, advocating cautious AI use unless explicitly approved by instructors.

The integration of AI in education at LSUS continues to evolve, emphasizing a balanced approach to its utilization in student projects while evaluating its broader role in academic settings.

A digital arts student opens a generative voice AI program to work on the AI-generated voiceover for a video package in professor Jason Mackowiak’s video editing class. (CREDIT: Caitlin LeBlanc/LSUS Media Relations)

Bossier Sheriff’s Office to conduct DWI checkpoint this Saturday

The Bossier Sheriff’s Office plans to conduct a DWI checkpoint this Saturday evening, starting at 8:00 p.m. and extending into the early hours of Sunday. Aimed at removing impaired drivers from Bossier Parish roads, this effort seeks to prevent potential accidents resulting in severe injuries or fatalities. The initiative, backed by a $22,500.00 grant from the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission for DWI Enforcement, serves to raise public awareness about the dangers of driving while impaired. Motorists are urged to report impaired drivers to law enforcement at any time, supporting the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign. Reach the Bossier Sheriff’s Office at 318-965-2203, available 24/7.

COLUMN: Woodrow’s father

Charles Voyde is considered by some to be a legend in Texas because of his high-profile criminal history.  Charles was a carpet salesman, professional gambler, and a convicted contract killer, a hitman.  Charles was born in 1938 in Lovelady, Texas.  His criminal career began sometime in the late 1950s and escalated from petty crimes to murder.    

Charles had a wife and two children, the oldest of which was Woodrow.  In 1968, when Woodrow was seven years old, Charles was arrested for the murder of Alan Harry Berg, also a carpet salesman.  Woodrow’s father disappeared from his life.  While awaiting trial, Charles and two others were charged with the murder of wealthy grain broker Sam Degelia near McAllen, Texas.  In September 1970, Charles was acquitted of murdering Berg.  After the first trial for Sam Degelia’s murder ended in a deadlocked jury, Charles was convicted in 1973 and sentenced to 15 years in prison.  According to trial testimony, Charles was paid just $2,000 to murder Degelia.  In 1978, after serving five years of his sentence, Charles was released for good behavior.

Like Charles, Jamiel “Jimmy” Chagra was a carpet salesman and a professional gambler.  Jimmy was also a drug trafficker operating out of Las Vegas, Nevada and El Paso, Texas. In February 1979, Jimmy was indicted by a federal grand jury on cocaine and marijuana smuggling charges in Midland, Texas, and the case was assigned to Federal Judge “Maximum” John Wood.  The judge earned the nickname “Maximum” for his tough treatment of drug dealers and smugglers.  Jimmy tried back channels, and, when that failed, threatened Judge Wood, but he refused to step down as the presiding judge in Jimmy’s case.  Jimmy decided to hire a hitman.

According to courtroom testimony, in April 1979, Jimmy Chagra met Charles and Jo Ann, Charles’ third wife, in Las Vegas.  At that meeting, Charles agreed to murder the federal judge for $250,000.  In the following month, Jo Ann, using the false name Fay King, bought a Weatherby rifle in a Dallas gun shop.  A few days later, May 29, 1979, Judge John Wood was standing outside his car at his home in San Antonio, purportedly looking at a flat tire on either his or his wife’s car.  A neighbor heard what he thought was a car backfiring and looked out of his window and saw the judge fall into his car.  He had been shot in the back.  He fell into and died in his wife’s lap.  In the following month, Teresa Starr Jasper, Charles’ stepdaughter, picked up a briefcase which contained $250,000 in Las Vegas from Elizabeth Chagra, Jimmy’s wife.

The murder of the federal judge prompted a massive investigation, and, in August 1979, Jimmy Chagra was convicted in absentia in federal court of continuing criminal activity and sentenced to 30 years without parole.  Five months later, Jimmy was captured in Las Vegas and sent to Leavenworth federal prison.  While in prison, Jimmy bragged to another inmate, Jerry Ray James, that he had Judge John Wood killed and provided some specific details.  Jerry Ray shared the information he learned with investigators.  In September 1980, Charles was arrested in Van Horn, Texas following a 10-hour cocaine-fueled standoff with police.  It was when news broke of the 10-hour standoff that Woodrow learned the whereabouts of his father whom he had not seen in over ten years. 

During interrogation, Charles admitted to killing Judge John Wood.  In all fairness, during the same interrogation he also claimed to have killed several other people including President John F. Kennedy.  In April 1982, a federal grand jury indicted Jimmy, Jimmy’s little brother Joe Chagra, Jimmy’s wife Elizabeth, along with Charles and Jo Ann for conspiracy and other charges in the John Wood murder case.  Joe Chagra made a plea-bargain for a lesser sentence.  Elizabeth Chagra was found guilty of conspiracy for delivering the $250,000 payment to Charles’ stepdaughter.  Jo Ann, who bought the rifle that killed Judge John Wood was sentenced to 25 years in prison for obstruction.  Charles, the hitman who admitted to killing the judge, was sentenced to serve two consecutive life sentences for the murder.  Jimmy was ultimately acquitted of hiring Charles to kill Judge John Wood but was found guilty on numerous drug trafficking charges.                

In the late 1980s, Charles and Woodrow grew closer.  Woodrow visited his father in prison at least once a year.  In 1985, Woodrow became a bartender and began helping his father to get a new trial.  In 1987, when Charles married his fourth wife by proxy, Woodrow stood in for his father during the ceremony.  Charles argued that his legal representation was not adequate in his 1979 trial.  “No matter what you did,” Charles said, “you have a right under that Constitution to a fair and impartial hearing of your peers, and I did not get that.”  In 1998, Woodrow told reporters that it was the “sad truth” that the legal system “seems to work a lot better for those who have enough money.”  Woodrow fought to get his father a new trial until March 21, 2007, when the 69-year-old contract killer died in prison of a heart attack.   

Woodrow once said the fight to get his father a new trial cost a lot of money, but his bartending job paid more than most bartending jobs.  You see, Woodrow, the son of a hit man, was a bartender at the Boston, Massachusetts bar “where everybody knows your name.”  The name of the fictional bar was Cheers.  Charles Voyde Harrelson was the father of actor Woodrow “Woody” Harrelson.


1.     El Paso Times, May 30, 1979, p.1.

2.     Fort Worth Star-Telegram, October 21, 1984, p.89.

3.     Fort Worth Star-Telegram, October 25, 1984, p.69.

4.     Tampa Bay Times, August 7, 1998, p.22.

5.     The Monitor (McAllen, Texas), July 16, 1999, p. 26.

6.     Austin American-Statesman, March 22, 2007, p.21.