The Centenary Theatre Program (CTP) will showcase student talent during a unique two-day festival format next month. CTP’s One-Act Festival, featuring six one-act plays with six different directors and casts, will be presented at Centenary’s Marjorie Lyons Playhouse on Thursday, November 9, and Friday, November 10. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. on both Thursday and Friday with three plays presented each evening.
The One-Act Festival represents an exciting evolution of class projects historically known as “Dem Labs,” which were usually smaller scenes directed by beginning student directors.
“Students in the Production I class are now getting the opportunity to work with designers, as the scope of the project has changed and they are now producing in our second main stage slot of the fall,” explained Logan Sledge, associate professor of theatre and chair of the theatre department at Centenary. “The trick has been making sure the core goals of the directing project remain in place, and that adding the technical elements for a main stage production doesn’t detract from those core goals. Our student directors are showing that they are up for the task and we can’t wait to present these one-acts to the community.”
The One-Act Festival opens with three plays on November 9 and concludes with three different offerings on November 10.
Night 1 – Thursday, November 9 Butterfly Kisses by Ashley Nader, directed by Kaeleigh Graham
This Property is Condemned by Tennessee Williams, directed by Abbie Phelan
Horse Girls by Jenny Rachel Weiner, directed by Emma Greer
Night 2 – Friday, November 10 A Game by Dennis E. Noble, directed by Hailey Chiasson
Letters For Adelaide by Grace Everett, directed by Za Brown
Anniversary by Rachel Bonds, directed by Josie Hodges
“The tagline of A Game by Dennis E. Noble is, ‘This is my land. It is mine. It is beautiful, and it is mine,’” shared student director Hailey Chiasson. “Rehearsals are filled with dialogue about the themes and characters of the show and we are constantly playing with ways to communicate those ideas. This show would not be what it is without the wonderful cast and crew behind it, and I am incredibly excited to share this impactful show with the community.”
Tickets for the One-Act Festival are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors/military members, and $5 for students with ID. Tickets are free for Centenary students, faculty, and staff with ID. Visit centenary.edu/mlptickets to purchase tickets.
Southern University at Shreveport will host its Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Event on Monday, Oct. 23 in the Alphonse Jackson Building Auditorium. The event, titled “Look How Far We’ve Come: Celebrating Our Survivors, Standing With Our Warriors, Honoring our Angels,” begins at 2 p.m. University administrators, faculty, staff, and student attendees will have the opportunity to listen to inspiring survivor stories from Mrs. Tammy Mason and Ms. Melody Scott, the 40th Miss Southern University at Shreveport. The 56th Miss Southern University at Shreveport, Zu’Dai Anderson, will offer greetings, and she and members of her court will be in attendance, providing campus-centered support to all event participants.
Among the special guests, Ms. Catherine Wright, the CEO of the C. Wright Pink Ribbon Project, an organization providing financial support to those impacted by breast cancer, will be present. Additionally, the event will celebrate and honor breast cancer survivors who are employed by the university. Notably, the Southern University at Shreveport Foundation and the Division of Allied Health and Nursing will make a charitable check presentation to The C. Wright Pink Ribbon Project, furthering the cause of supporting individuals affected by breast cancer.
In addition to the insightful presentations and acknowledgments, Breast Cancer Awareness education and local vendors will be available onsite to provide valuable community-based resources and information. Attendees are encouraged to wear “Throwback” Breast Cancer T-shirts or shades of pink, symbolizing their support and solidarity in the fight against breast cancer. This event promises to be a meaningful gathering, raising awareness, celebrating survivors, and offering support to warriors in the ongoing battle against breast cancer.
This event is free to artists. Caddo Parish Parks & Recreation does not take a commission nor charge fees for booth space, however spaces are limited in number.
Art in the Park is a free annual community event that features artists from the Shreveport-Bossier area who take inspiration from the natural world.
Visitors will enjoy: *Art show & sale with dozens of local artists *Live artist demonstrations in flint knapping, pottery throwing, pine-needle basket making, painting, needle-felting, and more. *Hands-on art activities will be offered by several local organizations *Live music *Food vendors
Standing on the floor of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, speaking to over 1,200 students and faculty as the newly-elected Louisiana 4-H State President is a moment I’ll always remember. So many things led me to that moment, going all the way back to my days at Kingston Elementary.
My 4-H story starts in fourth grade, like so many others. And like most, I had no idea what 4-H had to offer, or the level of success I could achieve with this club. Needless to say, 4-H has exceeded all of my expectations. It has taken me to Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Dallas and, coming in January, Orlando. I’ve spoken with senators and representatives, interviewed the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, dined at the Governor’s mansion, and campaigned before U.S. House Committees.
There are 110,000 members in Louisiana 4-H, which makes it the largest youth organization in the state. However, each member’s experience is unique. 4-H holds opportunities for everyone. No matter what your passion is, whether you enjoy science, art, sports, photography, community service, fashion, leadership, livestock, shooting sports or anything else, there are opportunities to succeed in 4-H. But in such a diverse organization, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the number of different activities, and these opportunities may go unnoticed.
It takes a great support system to maximize your 4-H experience, and you won’t find one better than what we have in Bossier Parish. Jeannie Crnkovic and Erika Derma both work to make sure every one of their nearly 1,200 4-H’ers succeeds to the best of their ability. The 4-H motto is “To Make the Best Better,” and Bossier’s 4-H agents search for every leadership opportunity, workshop or competition available to their students. If you’re thinking about joining 4-H, I’d highly recommend it. Bossier Parish’s registration deadline is October 20th, and you can get a registration form from your local club.
Recently, over 90,000 local clubs came together to celebrate National 4-H Week. The theme this year was “I Love 4-H”, and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than by sharing my story and all the opportunities this organization has given me. It has been life changing, and I’m looking forward to serving out the rest of my term as President of Louisiana 4-H.
President of Louisiana 4-H & Benton High School Senior
Members of the LSUS Department of Biological Sciences and the Shreveport-Bossier Astronomical Society will hold a daytime observation session Saturday, Oct. 14 during a solar eclipse.
Solar telescopes will be in place outside the science building to view the solar eclipse from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
“This is a partial eclipse that will cover about 70 percent of the sun,” said Dr. Cran Lucas, emeritus professor of biological sciences and president of SBAS. “The sun is increasing in activity on its way to solar max, and numerous sunspots may be visible.”
If clouds or rain obstruct the view of the eclipse, the event will be cancelled.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth.
While solar eclipses occur multiple times per year, they aren’t often visible in the United States.
Saturday’s eclipse is an appetizer to the one coming April 8, where the sun is expected to be 95 percent covered in Shreveport.
Areas as close as Tyler, Texas, will be in the “path of totality,” which means 100 percent coverage of the sun, during the April 8 eclipse.
“Eclipses will not be visible in the U.S. again for many years,” Lucas said.
Sunspots are magnetic storms visible on the sun. Because they are slightly cooler than the sun’s surrounding surface, they appear to be darker.
Caddo Parish Parks and Recreation has joined forces with the Shreveport-Bossier Disc Golf Union to host a free Disc Golf Clinic on Saturday, Oct. 14 from 10 am – 12 pm at Ford Park, located at 5784 S. Lakeshore Dr. in Shreveport.
This clinic will cover the basics needed to get a proper start or improve in the sport of disc golf. Loaner discs will be available, but you are encouraged to bring your own.
This clinic is free for all youth and adults. Youth under 10 must be accompanied by an adult to participate. A free grab and go lunch, sponsored by Raising Cane’s will be provided for all participants at the conclusion of the clinic.
To register, visit www.caddoparks.org or contact Mary Murphy at (318)220-6284 | Kevin Pelton at (318) 218-0830.
Centenary College’s Hurley School of Music and the Department of English are collaborating to present a Liederabend on Tuesday, Oct. 17, at 7:30 p.m. in the lobby of Hamilton Hall, the College’s administration building. Liederabend is a German word that translates to “evening of song.” The evening event will feature a selection of German art songs paired with German poetry translated into English, all performed by Centenary students. Ken Chan will accompany all pieces on the piano.
Liederabend is free and open to the public and refreshments will be served.
“The first time I walked into Hamilton Hall I ooed and aahed at the atmosphere with the warm chandelier and elegant baby grand piano tucked behind the grand staircase,” said Dr. Briana Sosenheimer, assistant professor of music and director of Opera Centenary, an academic ensemble dedicated to exploring opera, operetta, and lyric theater. “I knew it would be an ideal venue for an intimate vocal recital. Then thinking of the Oktoberfest season and German art songs, a Liederabend seemed like a perfect fit for an event!”
In the 19th century, a Liederabend was an opportunity for friends to gather and enjoy performances of popular vocal music of the day. Sosenheimer’s vision for the Liederabend event at Centenary draws on this spirit of collaboration.
“Without poetry, the art song wouldn’t exist,” explained Sosenheimer. “It’s fascinating how composers interpret great works of poetry and express the story through music. Working with the English Department was a natural collaboration for my voice students from the Hurley School of Music, bridging two groups of great students that might not have had the chance to present a project with each other before.”
The program for the evening of song and poetry includes:
Song: Waldegespräch from Liederkreis Op. 39 (Conversation in the Wood) – Robert Schumann Voice: Keegan Tunstall – Bass-baritone (Senior) Poetry: Grace Aguirre (Freshman)
Song: Das Veilchen (The Violet) – W. A. Mozart Voice: Stella Simolke – Soprano (Sophomore) Poetry: Jacqueline Deville (Sophomore)
Song: In der Fremde from Liederkreis Op. 39 (In a Foreign Place) – Schumann Voice: Ree Randolph – Soprano (Senior) Poetry: Kaleb Atkinson (Sophomore)
Song: Du bist wie eine Blume (You are like a Flower) – Schumann Voice: Johnathon Lowery – Baritenor (Senior) Poetry: Reece Maguire (Senior)
Song: Als Luise die Briefe ihres ungetreuen Liebhabers verbrannte (When Luise burned the letters of her unfaithful lover) – W. A. Mozart Voice: Destry Martignetti – Mezzo-soprano (Sophomore) Poetry: Braydon Gaston (Sophomore)
Song: Wie Melodien zieht es mir (It moves like a Melody) – Brahms Voice: Amelia Natal – Mezzo-soprano (Senior) Poetry: LC Moffitt (Senior)
Song: Verborgenheit (Seclusion) – Hugo Wolf Voice: Zane Harper – Baritone (Senior) Poetry: Joel Cardenas-Lopez (Junior)
Song: Nacht und Träume (Night and Dreams) – Franz Schubert Voice: Nina Guerrero – Soprano (Sophomore) Poetry: Mary Caruthers (Senior)
Song: An die Musik (To Music) – Franz Schubert Voice: Andrea Kay – Soprano (Junior) Poetry: Jaspen Charles (Junior)
Song: Frühling (Spring) – Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel Voice: Lynn Sill – Mezzo-soprano (Sophomore) Poetry: Kendra Christopher (Sophomore)
Bossier Parish Fire District #1 will hold its annual open house on Saturday, Oct. 14 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at BPFD #1, located at 4494 U.S. 80 in Haughton. See your local firefighters show off their talent with a live fire demo, explore different agencies in your area, including Bossier Parish EMS, Bossier Parish Sheriff, and engage in interactive fire safety activities. Discover what makes your local fire department so great.
Immerse yourself in a lively atmosphere as you enjoy the food trucks attending the open house. Gain valuable insights on fire & life safety, take part in the many kid activities, and forge new connections that could lead to exciting opportunities.
The doors will open to everyone, so bring your family and friends along for a memorable experience.
National Night Out in Bossier Parish was a tremendous success for 2023! There were block parties hosted in 18 different neighborhoods/communities throughout the parish. Bossier Sheriff’s Office deputies and other parish first responders shared a great evening building a partnership with friends and neighbors in the community! The interaction between law enforcement officers and the community to help build trust is one of the most important priorities for National Night Out.
Sheriff Julian Whittington would like to thank all of the organizers of the events across the parish for doing an outstanding job!
Reach Out and Read, a national program that promotes the lifelong benefits of families reading aloud to their children, is now available in five pediatric clinics within the Willis-Knighton Physician Network. Participating clinics are WK Tots to Teens Pediatric Center, WK Center for Pediatrics-South, and WK Pediatric Health & Wellness in Shreveport as well as WK Internal Medicine & Pediatric Specialists and WK Preferred Pediatrics in Bossier City.
The program, which is the only national literacy model endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, provides books for well visits for infants through age five. Funding for the books has been provided to the clinics through Willis-Knighton’s tithe, the bottom line community philanthropy.
At the beginning of each well visit, each child is introduced to and given a developmentally appropriate book, says Sheyenne Carper, MD, of WK Tots to Teens Pediatric Center. “Healthcare providers discuss with parents and caregivers the importance of reading aloud to their children and how it helps promote healthy brain development,” Dr. Carper says.
Eighty percent of a child’s brain is formed between birth and age three. Reading aloud to a child improves language development, helps physical, cognitive and emotional development, grows curiosity and memory, and develops a lifelong love of reading.
During the visit, parents are shown how to hold the book and engage their child, and how to interact with text and images to help the child follow along. In addition to giving books to children to take home, participating clinics are encouraged to offer books in waiting areas for families and children to read as they wait for their visit.
Dr. Carper notes that having these books in the waiting areas helps keep children engaged and creates a positive experience when coming to the clinic for their doctor visit.
“Parents are their child’s first teacher,” Dr. Carper explains. “Giving them a lifelong love of reading is an invaluable gift. It will help ensure they will be more successful as they grow and develop.”
Louisiana residents hoping for some relief after storm damage received during the period June 14 through June 16 should utilize Damage.LA.Gov to report that damage.
Residents applying should know the survey is voluntary and does not guarantee any federal disaster relief assistance. To access the survey, please visit the website https://damage.la.gov/.
While no funding through FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has been granted for this event, data will help the governor and GOHSEP (Governor’s Office of Homeland Security) and parish officials evaluate situations and have accurate damage information.
Residents who received damage to a residence or business should complete this survey to report damage to the home (residential structure only, no vehicles). Information collected here will help parish, state, and federal authorities understand how and where locations were impacted by this disaster event.
Take pictures up close to capture specific points of damage but also take pictures of the whole area. Make sure pictures are not blurry. If the pictures are hard to capture, use the “other comments” field to describe the photos and help portray the damage.
When submitting, make sure the street address is accurate and the map pin is placed on or near the damaged building. Submit reports only on living residence or business; no out buildings/barn/shed/ garages or fencing.
Damage.LA.Gov is a Virtual Louisiana initiative and damage reporting process launched by GOHSEP in the Spring of 2020. It gives citizens of Louisiana access to self-report damages in the aftermath of significant disasters including hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and winter weather.
Join the SPAR at the Stoner Avenue Skate Park for its annual “Go Skateboarding Day” on Wednesday, June 21 from 12-6 pm. There will be a game truck, snow cones for purchase, and Raising Canes will be there to provide complimentary tea and lemonade!
The inaugural 318 Day Festival happens this weekend!
The day-long festival, which occurs Saturday in Caddo Common Park from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., celebrates what makes Shreveport-Bossier, the parish, and region great: the food, the music, and the art.
This event is free to the public.
Six local performing artists and bands will be featured. The festival will kick off with Dirty Redd Band and will be headlined by Front Cover Band. In addition to great food trucks and over 20 vendors, 318 Day will feature an artist row to highlight nine local visual artists.
“Too often we hear about the negative in our area or how we’ve ranked low on this list, but we never hear and celebrate what makes our city great and that’s the people. Shreveport has some of the most talented people in the world, and we must invest and celebrate that talent,” said festival organizer Billy Anderson.
318 Day is a collaborative effort that includes the Shreveport Regional Arts Council, Shreveport Common, and the Shreveport Bossier Tourism Bureau.
“The Shreveport-Bossier area has so many unique and diverse local attractions,” said Stacy Brown, president of the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau. “This 318 Day celebration is a wonderful new festival that promises to bring us together to experience music and art in our area.”
Organizers thank the sponsors for helping make this event possible — Andress Art and Entrepreneur Center, Shreveport Downtown Development Authority, Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, The Social Circle, Palmer Hall Realty, City of Shreveport, and Caddo Parish.
The hospitality and tourism industry is getting ready to celebrate the best it has to offer, which means it’s time to submit your nominations.
An annual presentation of the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau, the Excellence in Hospitality Awards will be held May 11 at Bally’s Shreveport Casino and Hotel.
The event will kick off with a cocktail reception at 5:30 p.m., and the awards ceremony and dinner will begin at 6 p.m. The evening will feature an awards program honoring the most outstanding employees in Shreveport-Bossier’s hospitality and tourism industry.
Anyone can submit nominations at no cost. A full list of awards categories, as well as a nomination form and instructions on how to submit, can be found online at www.Shreveport-Bossier.org/Awards.
Categories include Outstanding Attraction, Banquet/Catering Professional, Bartender, Casino Floor Professional, Culinary Professional/Chef, Event/Event Venue, Food Server, Front Desk/Guest Services Professional, Hotel Sales Professional, Housekeeping Professional, Transportation Professional, Valet, and Volunteer.
The awards are held each year in conjunction with National Travel and Tourism Week, which is observed during the first full week in May. National Travel and Tourism Week, a nationwide effort organized by the U.S. Travel Association, will be held May 7-13, 2023. National Travel and Tourism Week is a time for travel and tourism professionals across the country to celebrate the value travel holds for our economy, businesses, and personal well-being.
For more information and updates on this year’s Excellence in Hospitality Awards, contact Charlie Rice by calling 318-222-9391 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. To submit nominations or learn more about the Excellence in Hospitality Awards, visit www.Shreveport-Bossier.org/Awards.
It opened in 1925 at the corner of Louisiana Avenue and Crockett Street in the heart of downtown Shreveport and — thankfully, in all of its glory — is still standing (and operating) today as a reminder of what our city once was and continues to be.
The flagship theater of the Saenger Brothers, it is the official theater of our state and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It closed in the mid-1970s, was donated to a newly formed corporation, and reopened in 1984 after a major restoration project.
Almost 100 years later, The Strand Theatre is alive and well … but, oh, what a journey it has been.
Jenifer Hill remembers being dropped off at The Strand Theatre at age 9 with her best friend, Hallie Dozier. The two young girls spent many afternoons at the theatre watching all the classic movies of their childhood.
“Bedknobs and Broomsticks, that’s the last one I saw there,” Hill recalls as we enjoy a recent lunch at Fairfield Market & Cafe. “I remember being there for that. And then I remember them talking about closing it down.”
The doors of the Strand were closed in 1976 with the thought of selling the historic theatre. Fortunately, that didn’t happen.
Instead, three Shreveporters stepped up and saved the day – attorney Judd Tooke, businesswoman Virginia Shehee and The Times’ Jim Montgomery — by forming Strand Theatre of Shreveport Corporation.
The theater remained closed until it was donated by the ABC-Interstate Theatres to the corporation founded by the trio. After the major restoration project was completed, The Strand Theatre reopened in 1984.
Thirty years later, Hill was hearing talk of closing the theater again. This time, it hit closer to home.
When Jenifer Hill took over as executive director of The Strand Theatre in 2014 (after serving as general manager the previous two years), the place was in dire straits.
“When I took over, it was terrifying,” she says. “I found out how far in debt we were. There was some discussion from the Board (of Directors) saying, ‘Well, do we just shut the doors?’
“I said, ‘No, please don’t. Just give me a hot minute and let me figure out what’s going on.’”
What was going on was The Strand was $260,000 in debt.
“I went through all the bills and books and found a lot of spending on things we didn’t need,” explains Hill. “So we cut way back on those. And I’m just naturally tight.”
Hill used her experience working for non-profits (the Shreveport Symphony and Shreveport Opera), savvy budget cutting and smart business sense to pull the organization out of financial trouble.
In January 2020 came the big announcement: The Strand Theatre was out of debt.
Then the pandemic hit.
“I put my head in my hands and cried,” says Hill. “We all thought it was only going to be two weeks. After two to three months, it became clear that it was going to be longer.”
At that point, the Board voted to furlough all of the Strand staff except for Hill and one part-time person. For seven months, Hill worked on the books, scrubbed toilets, scrubbed stairs, vacuumed and did whatever she could to keep the building going.
There was a light opening the next spring with some dance recitals being booked, but everything was at 50 percent capacity. And after a few of those recitals, the 1,536-seat theater was forced to close its doors again.
Basically, The Strand Theatre went 19 months without any shows. During that time, cuts were made everywhere possible – insurance, payroll, housekeeping.
“We were cutting it pretty tight,” says Hill.
Slowly, things began to return to (the new) normal. The theater opened back up, most of the staff came back, the government provided “shuttered venue” money and employee tax credits and life returned to the historic building.
Life is not really the same, however. Not in the entertainment world. Like most of the industry, The Strand has seen a reduction in ticket sales – especially season tickets. But the public is responding.
Theo Von: Return of the Rat Tour was scheduled as a one-night show on Feb. 1 but was so popular a second night was added. “Both shows sold out in a matter of days,” says Hill.
And tickets for Chicago the Musical (March 19) are selling “pretty well.”
Hill is as busy as ever these days.
“Right now, I’m putting out offers for next season, which we’ll probably announce in June,” she says.
A typical season will include approximately 10 Strand-presented shows while the majority will be rental shows.
So, what’s the difference?
“If I’m on the stage, it’s a Strand show,” says Hill. “If I’m not on the stage, it’s a rental.”
In her time at The Strand, Hill has seen just about everything: dogs in the house, a homeless person roaming around, fights, flooding, and yes, even ghosts.
“I walk through that building in the dark all the time,” she says. “I’m often the first one there and I never had anything so much as raise the hair on the back on my neck.”
“Early one Saturday morning I was by myself and I turned off the alarm. I walked into the house and turned on the lights and I saw someone all in black walk on the stage. At first, I thought it was the technical director but no one else was there. It still didn’t bother me. I just figured it was a trick of the light, who knows?”
Two weeks after everything was shut down because of the pandemic, Hill ventured out of her house and made a visit downtown.
“Everybody had gone home,” she says. “We were all scared because no one knew what was happening. I just went down to check on the building. No one had been in there. We have cameras and alarms.”
Hill went upstairs to the Founders’ Room where the portraits of Tooke, Shehee and Montgomery are hung on the wall.
“The building is made of plaster and steel,” she says. “It doesn’t move, it doesn’t rattle in the wind, it doesn’t rattle when the train goes by.”
And yet, there was Montgomery’s portrait face down on the floor, 12 feet from the wall.
Hill didn’t panic. She didn’t scream or run out of the room.
“I picked him up, hung him back on the wall and we had a discussion,” she recalls. “I said, ‘Jim, I’ve got this. It’s gonna be okay. I don’t know what’s coming, but I’m here for the duration.’ After that, we got a ghost light and put in on the stage.”
Impairment is suspected to be a factor in a one-vehicle crash in Bossier Parish that ultimately claimed the life of six-year-old India Moore.
Just after 7:30 a.m. on Monday, officers assigned to Louisiana State Police Troop G began investigating a one-vehicle serious injury crash on I-20 west of LA Hwy 157. They discovered that a 2008 Buick Lucerne driven by 30-year-old Trodarian Moore of Minden unexplainedly exited the roadway and struck a tree.
Neither the driver nor the child were restrained. Both were transported to Ochsner LSU Health in Shreveport with life-threatening injuries. On Tuesday, Troop G was notified that India had succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced dead at Ochsner’s.
Routine toxicology samples were taken and submitted for analysis. The crash remains under investigation.
Motorists are reminded that alcohol and other drugs have many effects on the body. Alcohol and other drugs can impair visual ability, alter the sense of time and space, impair fine motor skills needed to operate a motor vehicle, and decrease reaction times.
In 2023, Troop G has investigated five fatal crashes, resulting in five deaths.
From time to time, I’ll find myself driving past the house I grew up in on Levin Lane. 510 Levin Lane, to be exact. It’s a cul-de-sac, the perfect setup for kids to play in the street. I’ll take a few spins around the street – driving slowly as I pass by the house down on the right where my cousins grew up. Our house was the second from the end on the left and across the street – at the corner of Horton and Levin Lane – was where one of my closest childhood friends lived.
To this day, if you mention my name to John George, he’ll tell you I was the one who taught him to tie his shoes.
“You really remember that?” I ask him when we meet for lunch in a conference room at the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana.
“Yes,” he says with a smile. “You were five years old and I was six.”
He even remembers the room in our house where I taught him to tie his shoes. John also remembers finding my brother Craig at two years old pushing our dad’s lawn mower at the end of the cul-de-sac early one morning wearing nothing but a diaper.
What I remember is playing “Cowboys and Indians” – decked out with guns and holsters – and lying under the magnolia tree in the next-door neighbor’s yard after we had been defeated by the Indians.
My mother used to love to tell the story of when I came into the house crying and said, “John hit me back.”
Back then, if my parents weren’t home, they were probably across the street at Ruby and Fisher George’s house playing bridge.
That was almost 60 years ago.
All of these memories come flooding back as soon as I’m greeted by John George, the president and CEO of BRF – founded in 1986 as the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana. Now known as BRF (for Building our Region’s Future), it is an innovative economic development organization establishing North Louisiana as a preferred destination for high-growth businesses through its programs and initiatives.
As president and CEO, George has led the organization through an expansion of programs to include the Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (EAP), Envision Research, the Center for Molecular Imaging and Therapy (CMIT), the Digital Media Institute (DMI), Shreveport Next, the New Louisiana Angel Funds 1 and 2 (NLAF) and ownership and operation of University Health System – the region’s safety net healthcare system and clinical partner of LSU Medical School in Shreveport.
The journey from Levin Lane to the massive campus of BRF’s headquarters in its InterTech I facility on the Shreveport Healthcare and Development Corridor has been an interesting one for John Fisher George Jr., M.D.
I hadn’t seen John in years and caught up with him for a recent visit. Instead of going out to eat, he had lunch brought in and we talked for hours. He’s very busy – and was heading to Washington, D.C. Mardi Gras in a few days – but he would cancel what he had planned for this day (“for the person who taught me how to tie my shoes”) and we spent lunch and most of the afternoon catching up.
For someone who “always wanted to be a doctor,” George took a little different route to get there.
While at LSU in Baton Rouge – where he really enjoyed college life for three years – George realized he wasn’t going to get into medical school and, at the urging of his mother, came back to Shreveport and got his degree in geology from Centenary.
“My dad wanted me to be a geologist,” he said.
After 10 years — at the age of 29 — George went to medical school. By that time, he was married and had the first of his four sons.
After graduating from medical school (in internal medicine), he got into the management side of medicine by co-founding and leading the development of LifeCare Management Service, a long-term acute care hospital system serving patients with a length of stay greater than 25 days. Through hospital startups and acquisitions spearheaded by George, LifeCare owned and operated 20 hospitals in nine states – with 3,000 employees with annual revenues of $300 million.
After LifeCare Management was purchased by the Carlyle Group in 2005, George started G6 Management, a private investment and capital management firm.
With his expertise in business development, investment management, and clinical management, George was the logical person to lead BRF. Since he became president and CEO, BRF led the University Health System’s hospitals through a financial turnaround and, in 2018, transitioned them to Ochsner Health System – the largest healthcare system in the state.
BRF’s mission to diversify and grow our region’s economy is something that hits home for George, who was born and raised in Shreveport and wants to see his hometown thrive. Whether he is talking about the entrepreneurship program, the Biotechnology Magnet Academy at Southwood High School, the Digital Media Institute (which is now offering online classes to students in all 50 states), strides being made in attracting businesses to the area, or any of the many aspects of BRF’s mission, George sees endless possibilities for economic growth in this part of the state.
He’s as busy as he’s ever been and not slowing down anytime soon.
“I love what I’m doing,” says George. “I grew up here. This place was really good to me. Why wouldn’t I want it to be as good for someone else?”
The Bridge Alzheimer’s & Dementia Resource Center has announced the first four months of programs, topics, and speakers for 2023.
First Wednesday Workshops
In these monthly educational mini workshops for caregivers, local experts present topics related to Alzheimer’s and dementia in a one-hour session with time allotted for questions by the participants. Workshops are held on the first Wednesday of the month from 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. unless otherwise stated.
NOTE: January’s First Wednesday Workshop if scheduled for Jan. 11.
If caregivers cannot leave their loved ones at home, The Bridge offers supervised and enjoyable activities during the workshop for those affected by dementia. First Wednesday Workshops are held at The Bridge Alzheimer’s & Dementia Resource Center at 851 Olive Street in Shreveport.
The speakers and dates for the first four First Wednesday Workshops of 2023 are:
Jan. 11 – Susan Pierce EdD, MSN, RN, CNE, Faith Community Nurse at First Presbyterian Church: “When Right Seems Wrong, and Wrong Seems Right! – Applying an Ethical Decision Model for Person-Centered Care.”
Feb. 1 – Johnett Waterman, LCSW: “Let’s Talk About It – Home Health and Hospice.”
March 1 – Becky Homminga, RN: “Fun At-Home Activities to Enlighten Your Day.”
April 5 – Jeff Overdyke, MD: “House Calls with Dr. Jeff Overdyke – What Can Your Doctor Help You with in Your Alzheimer’s Journey.”
Second Saturday Workshops
In these joint programs for caregivers and their loved ones with dementia, different activities are held each month that include a form of art and music. This time can also be used as a respite for the caregiver if they stay onsite. These workshops begin at 11:00 a.m. on the second Saturday of each month at Broadmoor Presbyterian Church located at 1915 Grover Place in Shreveport.
The first four Second Saturday Workshops are:
Jan. 14 – Meet Me at the Movies: Watch old movie clips, listen to theme songs, and reminisce. Most importantly, pass the popcorn!
Feb. 11 – That’s AMORE: A special Valentine’s Day luncheon for you and your loved one. Reservations are required.
March 11 – St. Patrick’s Day Games: Wear your green and prepare for fun, St. Paddy’s style.
April 8 – Sing Along to the Oldies: Musicians will lead us in songs from the past. Put your request in now for which Oldies but Goldie songs you would like to hear or sing along to.
The mission of The Bridge Alzheimer’s & Dementia Resource Center is to provide awareness, education, resources, and support services for those in our community diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias, as well as to their family members and caregivers.
The vision is to create a community where no one affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia makes the journey alone. For more information on their services, call 318-656-4800 or visit www.alzbridge.org.
To start the new year, the Shreveport-Bossier Journal is publishing a series of stories this week on Shreveport’s new mayor, Tom Arceneaux. Today, the SBJ introduces you to the city’s new leader.
You can tell a lot about a fella by the music to which he listens.
Tom Arceneaux’s choice of satellite radio channels reflects a man with varied tastes, interests, and desires.
“Either Contemporary Christian, Country and Western, or Symphony,” Shreveport’s new mayor told the Shreveport-Bossier Journal shortly before he took office last week. He enjoys that music while tooling around town in a 2011 (that’s right — 2011) Toyota Avalon, which he bought from his mom.
And if you want to get more specific, you can narrow “Country and Western” to The Garth Brooks Channel. Arceneaux’s favorite Garth song, “The Dance,” describes parts of his life.
“I’ve had a lot of successes, and I’ve also had my share of failures.”
Martin Thomas Arceneaux’s latest success was being chosen by 56 percent of those who voted in last month’s mayoral runoff election. A white republican, the 71-year-old did something many thought he couldn’t do — defeat a black democrat and state senator — in a city where the majority of registered voters are African-American.
But the mayor was a late bloomer when it comes to loving Shreveport, which he has no shyness in admitting. The oldest of three children, Mayor Arceneaux wasn’t born here and didn’t grow up here. His father, Felix, was transferred to several cities during a 53-year career with New York Life.
Shreveport was an early (Tom attended kindergarten at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church) and late stop. His last two years of high school were spent at Captain Shreve, which opened in 1967.
“The new kid went to the new school,” the mayor said.
Mayor Arceneaux may not have been the Big Man on Campus, but he was popular — and busy.
Sports editor of the school newspaper, manager for the football team, writer and performer in skits for school pep rallies.
“My parents had a really long driveway, so we would paint banners for football games in their driveway,” he said. “Everybody would come to my house. My house was the center of a lot of activity with my friends. My parents did that so it would be easier for me to make friends. And I did. I made some great friends, and I am still very, very close to my friends from high school.”
But not all of the mayor’s time with friends centered around school. He fondly remembers their trips to the old Bayer’s Charcoal Grill.
“They had great hamburgers and couldn’t read ID’s … I was 17 and looked like I was 12,” he recalled. “They sold half-yards and yards of draft beer. I must admit, now that the statute of limitations is over for both parties, I occasionally had one.”
For much of his adult life, Mayor Arceneaux has been moved to be a difference-maker. That “movement” likely began his senior year at LSU. While a business major, the mayor wrote a weekly column for the school’s newspaper. (“Journalism would have been my second career choice.”)
“At that time, (the band) played the alma mater at halftime (of football games). If the other team brought their band, (LSU’s band) didn’t play the alma mater. I wrote about it. I said, ‘You know, if you play it before the game, you won’t have to cut it out.’ Since then, they’ve played the alma mater before the game.”
By 1976, after being “completely and totally burned out” while in graduate school, Arceneaux had a diploma from LSU Law School. He moved back to Shreveport and worked for two years as a clerk for Judge Tom Stagg. But the allure of being a lawyer for a big firm in a big city pulled the mayor to Houston.
He had “the life”—making good money and living in the prestigious area of Westheimer and Richmond.
“And I had the house note to prove it.”
But Mayor Arceneaux said he’s never been about the money. (Exhibit A — his 2011 Toyota.)
“I’ve always looked at quality of life and serving a purpose that was greater than me,” he said. “That really is what drives me. As a result, I didn’t see that I would be able to do that in that environment in Houston.”
So, despite having lived in Dallas, New Orleans, and Alexandria, Tom and wife Elizabeth — with a newborn daughter — chose to move back to Shreveport. This time, for good.
“I found it a very welcoming place, particularly for somebody who didn’t grow up here,” he said. “I found it easy to become involved in the community. That’s what I was looking for in life. I wanted to be in a place where I could have an impact in the community.”
Eight years as a city councilman, 13 years on the Board of Directors of the Highland Restoration Association, eight years singing in a worship band (“I wasn’t good enough to play guitar in the band, but I was good enough to sing”), an advocate for the enforcement of property standards.
The list goes on and on.
“The Lord gave me a toolbox of talents, and I’ve used them as I went along as the opportunities presented themselves,” said Arceneaux.
However, there was one tool missing — one that cost Arceneaux the chance to fulfill his “lifelong goal” of playing football for LSU.
“I was never very good. I was small, slow, and weak.”
Even so, between his junior and senior years at Captain Shreve, Arceneaux tried out for the Gators, led by legendary coach and Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame member Lee Hedges.
But those non-talents — and some encouragement — helped Arceneaux become the well-rounded person he is today.
“One afternoon after a particularly difficult practice, Coach Hedges sat me down,” recalled Arceneaux. “He said, ‘I don’t cut seniors, so you will have a place on the team. But … I don’t think you will get a chance to play very much.
“You have some other skills and talents that, if you develop those, they’re going to be more meaningful to you. But if you’re out here practicing football every day, you won’t be able to do those things … I think you ought to think about that.’”
Message received, one which — delivered well more than 50 years ago — still resonates.
“He was so respectful and treated me with such dignity … I got to do a bunch of stuff that I never could have done if I had played football,” said Arceneaux. “But he didn’t tell me I was a terrible football player. He didn’t tell me I was no good. He told me I was good and I was worth something.”
Worth being the mayor of Louisiana’s third-largest city.
Now that’s a dance Arceneaux would not have wanted to miss.
They walked onto the field at Independence Stadium Friday afternoon in below-freezing temperatures wearing green blazers emblazoned with the “Secret Squirrel: Crusader Against Evil” emblem.
Fans in the stands for the 46th Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl were bundled under heavy winter coats, blankets, gloves, and face-coverings.
But not these guys, who were being honored with the 2022 Omar N. Bradley Spirit of Independence Award.
“Yeah, it was cold,” says Col. Trey Morriss, “but we’ve been under worse conditions.”
In the early-morning hours of Jan. 16, 1991, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) deployed seven B-52 Stratofortresses crews from the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base (AFB) to Iraq in a single, secret mission that would mark the beginning of Operation Desert Storm.
The Stratofortresses took off heading toward Iraqi targets and launched 35 AGM-86C Conventional Air Launched Cruise Missiles, annihilating Saddam Hussein’s forces and striking key points of communication infrastructure – and returned in secret. The 35-hour mission marked the first time GPS had ever been used to guide a missile toward a target and was the first combat use of the CALCM.
“I was first informed of the mission in August 1990 and then had six months to train on the new weapon. We couldn’t tell anybody anything,” explained Warren Ward, Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) deputy chief of programming division and 596th BS B-52G Stratofortress co-pilot. “The 62nd BS and part of the 596th BS were largely deploying forward yet a large portion of the 596th stayed at Barksdale. We were watching our brothers in arms going forward, yet we were staying back. We had to work under a veil of secrecy.”
While Operation Senior Surprise was the official name of the classified mission, aircrew and maintainers creatively came up with the name “Secret Squirrel” so they could track schedules and discuss the mission in unclassified areas.
“The Secret Squirrel mission was used to blind Iraq by eliminating certain power and communication nodes throughout the country,” said Morriss, who was a new captain when he served as a B-52G electronic warfare officer.
“This severely hampered their response in the initial phase of the war. We proved to U.S. citizens, our allies, coalition partners, and even to our enemies that we will do what we say we’re going to do. In doing so, we solidified the B-52 in the realm of long-range strike capability.”
Twenty-five years after “Secret Squirrel,” the aircrew members that kicked off Operation Desert Storm reunited at Barksdale Air Force Base on Jan. 15, 2016.
And, almost 32 years to the day of the historic mission, those brave airmen were honored with the Omar N. Bradley Spirit of Independence Award on Dec. 23, 2022. Four of the 57 airmen have passed away since the mission, and 18 were present to receive the award.
“We defended freedom, which is a big honor in itself,” says Morriss. “To be recognized for that is thrilling. When you look at the list of previous recipients — to stand with the Tuskegee Airmen, the Berlin Airlift Veterans, Bob Hope, to name a few – it is humbling to be part of that exclusive club.”
The Omar N. Bradley Spirit of Independence Award was established during the bowl’s second year (1977) to honor an outstanding American citizen or organization which symbolizes the spirit of freedom upon which our country was founded.
“To be able to honor these men was spectacular for us,” says Independence Bowl chairman Rob Rubel. “When I look at the name of the award, two words come to mind – ‘I’ll go.’ The people that defend our nation consciously say that every day.
“I grew up in a veteran’s household, so it means a lot to me. These are the guys that left Barksdale Air Force Base and went to the Middle East to defend our freedom. They are indomitable Americans.”
Sci-Port Discovery Center Executive Director Dianne Clark has been elected to the Board of Directors of the Giant Screen Cinema Association.
“As a member of the Board of Directors for GSCA, I will be able to communicate with film developers and producers, as well as other theatres, to bring back best practices designed to enhance our Goodman IMAX Dome experience,” says Clark, who will join the board as a Theatre Representative.
The vision of the GSCA is to create “a network of premium educational immersive theaters that is woven into the fabric of peoples’ lives, providing enriching, fun experiences and developing world citizens.”
The Goodman IMAX Dome has recently received an upgrade, replacing the film projection system with new ground-breaking laser technology. This enhancement will provide a premium movie-watching experience to audiences. The Goodman IMAX Dome began showing major motion pictures – including Black Panther: Wakanda Forever — in November. Top Gun: Maverick is being shown today.
For more information about Sci-Port or to reserve tickets to an upcoming showing, visit sciport.org.
For the first time in over 20 years, Shreveport voters have elected a Republican mayor.
Republican attorney Tom Arceneaux defeated Democratic state Senator Greg Tarver in Saturday’s runoff election. Arceneaux is the first Republican mayor since Bo Williams, who served a single term, left office in 1998.
“It’s very humbling; I’m very grateful,” said Arceneaux, who will take office on Dec. 31.
In an election that attracted just 30 percent of registered voters, Arceneaux received 56 percent of the vote compared to 44 percent for Tarver. They faced off in the runoff after finishing first and second in the 10-candidate field in the Nov. 8 primary.
Arceneaux served on the Shreveport City Council as the District C Councilman from 1982-90. He also served on the Board of Directors for Highland Restoration Association for 13 years, including five years as president.
“It’s not about winning an election,” Arceneaux told his supporters after the victory. “It’s about what comes afterward.”
As he thanked his supporters, Arceneaux repeated a campaign slogan: “We can do this!”
Then he added, “But there’s a whole lot more we can do.”
The Northwest Louisiana Community Tennis Association held a luncheon at Pierremont Oaks Tennis Club on Wednesday to honor those individuals who recently received awards from the Louisiana Tennis Association.
Special Tennis Event of the Year was given to the “Love for Lancey Tournament” with Grady Wilson and Phillip Campbell of Pierremont Oaks accepting the award. Bianca Schulz of the Bossier Tennis Center represented the Katy Build Tournament (recognized as Charity Event of the Year). Facility of the Year went to Querbes Tennis Center, with Chris and Amy Dudley accepting the award. Lauren Cotter Wilson was also recognized for her induction into the LTA Hall of Fame.
NWLCTA president Brian Bernard and board member Rhonda Rubben accepted the award for NJTL of the Year on behalf of the organization.
The Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Goodman IMAX Dome at Sci-Port Discovery Center on Wednesday to recognize the elected officials who had made renovations to the theatre possible.
Opening remarks and the ribbon cutting were followed by light refreshments, tours of the newly renovated Goodman IMAX Dome, and a complimentary showing of the Ancient Caves documentary.
Sci-Port executive director Dianne Clark thanked the City of Shreveport for its $1.1 million contribution along with the Caddo Parish Commission ($400,000) and the Louisiana Public Service Commission ($200,000).
Sci-Port is completing a million-dollar makeover of its IMAX theatre with new lighting and sound equipment. The upgrades will not only provide a better entertainment experience for the public, but help demonstrate new technology that reduces energy consumption, according to Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell.
“I was pleased to contribute $200,000 from my Energy Efficiency fund toward this Sci-Port project,” Campbell said. “It is helpful for this Shreveport institution that celebrates the key role of science in our world to demonstrate the science of energy conservation to the thousands of children and adults who visit Sci-Port each year.”
On Jan. 21, 2023, Sci-Port will host the Goodman Gala to celebrate the grand opening of the Goodman IMAX Dome and to thank the Sylvia Goodman and her family for their dedication and untiring efforts to Sci-Port Discovery Center. Individual gala tickets are $100 each. For information or to purchase tickets, call 318-424-3466.