Crouch road extension advances

Work is steadily moving ahead on the northern section of the parish’s north-south roadway that will eventually connect I-220 at Swan Lake Rd. with LA Hwy. 162 via Crouch Rd. Completion of the extension from Swan Lake Rd. at the Flat River bridge to Crouch Rd. is expected to take two years.

Contractors for the Bossier Parish Police Jury have taken advantage of good weather to advance the project. Workers are currently leveling what will be the base of the road.


New 3.5 millage tax needed

Bossier Parish Fire District #2 Chief Ryan Foster is hoping voters say yes on Tuesday, Nov. 8 to the department’s request for a 3.5 mill tax, a millage that will go a long way toward bringing much-needed equipment up to date.

Foster leads a district covering roughly 155 square miles from Sligo Rd. south to the Bossier Parish/Red River Parish line, and he and his department are currently providing services with equipment that is older than some of his personnel.

“Some of our front-line equipment is nearly 30 years old, and with the age of our current fleet it’s harder to maintain because of the difficulty in finding parts,” he said. “We had to wait six months for engine parts on one of our trucks.”

Should voters approve the request, Foster plans to spread the purchase of new equipment over several years rather than borrow money against the anticipated $375,000 income he anticipates the millage will generate.

“We’ve always stayed within our means and we plan to continue to do that,” he said. “That’s why we’ve worked out a plan that will update our equipment over a number of years. We can gradually phase out the old and continue to provide the service our residents deserve. Spending over the long term makes more sense financially.”

Foster’s plan is to replace just over $4.7 million in equipment. The bulk of the revenue collected will be used to replace apparatus, just under $3.4 million. Equipment replacement is factored by current needs, along with age. Expenditures include:

• Replace 1995 model pumper-tanker in 2025; cost, $450,000 est.
• Replace 1994 pumper-tanker in 2026; cost, $450,000 est.
• Replace 1993 engine in 2030; cost, $725,000 est.
• Replace 1995 engine in 2034; cost, $725,000 est.
• Replace 2005 heavy rescue unit in 2038; cost, $825,000 est.
• Purchase four all-purpose vehicles for command/EMS before 2038; cost, $220,000 est.

“We’re hoping pricing on equipment remains somewhat stable, but we’re also allowing for increases,” Foster said. “We think planning over a number of years is the best way to spend prudently and stay within our budget.”

While District #2 waits for voters to decide, Foster said the department is not idle, with crews remaining busy with multiple priorities.

A large portion of the department’s time is spent meeting PIAL (Property Insurance Association of Louisiana) requirements. PIAL is the agency that rates fire departments. This rating is used, in most cases, to factor what an individual pays yearly for homeowners’ insurance.

“Training is a large portion of this rating, and our current training programs are extensive for our volunteers, full time personnel and our officers,” Foster said.

Other PIAL objectives include pump testing apparatus, hose testing, hydrant testing, and performing pre-incident planning of commercial properties, which total around 200. During these inspections, the staff is looking for hazards and identifying areas of concern in the event of an emergency.

Foster said his personnel are making regular tours of the district to perform safety checks and offer other services, such as clearing trees left from storm damage.

“Our staff performs multiple prevention activities throughout our district. Some of these include installing smoke alarms in residences and visiting our two schools: Parkway High School and Elm Grove Elementary, for fire prevention and safety programs,” he said.

“Another prevention effort that we are gearing up for is Fall Fest. Multiple organizations in our district put on some sort of event for fall. We will send an apparatus with prevention material to be handed out these events.”

Foster said the department is also part of the parish’s first response in natural disasters.

“Our district is filled with multiple waterways, and part of our department’s task is responding to flooding. We are equipped with three watercrafts to handle rescues and house one of the parishes distribution points for sandbags, located at our Station #2,” he said. “During severe weather like tornadoes, we handle 911 calls in addition to aiding damaged properties for search and rescue.”

Foster said the requested 3.5 mills will help his department keep up with the need for increased service as the area continues to grow.

“Bossier Parish is growing and we need to be able to provide the best service possible. The people in our department are well trained and it will benefit everyone if we’re also well equipped,” Foster said. “We didn’t ask voters to renew a second millage that was approved in 1990 because we were prudent in our spending. But times have changed. We need the public’s help to give the services we all expect.”


State Senator Robert Mills visits Plain Dealing

State Senator Robert Mills discussed good news for Plain Dealing including possible state dollars to help improve community infrastructure, during a Thursday visit with town officials.

“We’re happy to see the good things that are happening for your town,” Mills told Mayor Shavonda Gay, Town Clerk Rolandria McCauley, and Town Attorney Douglas Dominick. “I want to work with you to help in any way I can.”

Mills, traveling with Bossier Parish Administrator Butch Ford, pointed to the Teal Jones lumber mill as a much-needed shot in the arm that should help not only Plain Dealing but the surrounding area.

Louisiana Economic Development Economic officials say the new $110.5 million mill is expected to support 125 new direct jobs, with average annual salaries of $47,000, plus benefits. Estimates are the project will also support at least 369 indirect jobs, for a total of 494 prospective new jobs in the state’s northwest region.

Ford told town officials more good news came earlier this week when Comcast announced it would be bringing broadband services to Plain Dealing thanks to a $300,000 GUMBO grant. GUMBO is designed to help broadband provider applicants with the deployment of services to unserved areas of the state.

“Comcast was awarded the grant and they will also be investing about two million dollars of their own money. That brings the total project to $2.3 million. They plan to begin next month with planning and mapping, then they’ll start bringing fiber optic lines north along highway 3,” Ford said.

Ford also pointed to money from the state’s Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) Off System Bridge Program that could help replace structures in the town that have been closed.

Mills said the town will be receiving state money from the discretionary fund to aid in projects such as water and sewer lines to the Teal Jones facility, and more dollars will be coming from another state funding source that will help improve streets and revitalize areas of need.

“There are very good things happening for Plain Dealing, and we hope we can continue to assist,” Mills said.


Bossier Parish: Burn ban lifted

A parish-wide burn ban which was implemented July 14 has been lifted, effective immediately, according to an announcement by the fire chiefs in Bossier Parish.

Bossier Parish Police Jury President Tom Salzer signed the order terminating the state of emergency and officially lifting the ban. According to the termination order, the parish fire chiefs agree that due to recent rainfall, conditions have improved to the point that the burn ban is no longer necessary.


Long odds against Super Derby this year

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports

Early this spring, new Louisiana Downs Racetrack and Casino owner Kevin Preston spoke proudly about bringing the Super Derby to the Bossier City oval for the first time since 2019.

“It puts us back on the map and shows that this new ownership group is serious about racing, and about bringing this track back to life,” Preston said in an April 6 Shreveport-Bossier Journal story.

Four months later, there are doubts about the Super Derby taking place Sept. 10 as planned.

Wednesday, a source with direct knowledge of the situation — who spoke on the condition of anonymity — told the Journal that as of now, what used to be the Downs’ biggest race will not be reborn this year.

The source said there are several reasons. The main reason is that the Downs is cutting daily purses by $1,000 starting next week. In a recent meeting with Preston, local horsemen voiced their displeasure about a planned $300,000 Super Derby purse likely going to out-of-town horsemen, while purses are being reduced for those who run at the Downs every day.

“I’m glad the horsemen were able to voice their opinion, and their opinion was taken to heart,” said Mike McHalffey, who represents Bossier Parish on the Louisiana State Racing Commission. “They put on the show and should have some say in such decisions to have the race or not. Maybe next year, Louisiana Downs will be in a better position to bring back the Super Derby.”

Other reasons for the apparent cancellation, according to the source, include the Louisiana Attorney General’s office looking into $2.3 million of missing money stemming from the ownership transaction a year ago; and the recent, clearly unrelated resignation of Mitch Dennison, who was hired in April as the Downs’ General Manager of Racing and reportedly left due to philosophical differences.

The source said horsemen did not think all things considered, staging the Super Derby was a “good look.”

Wednesday evening, in response to a request for comment, Preston e-mailed the Journal, “We have no comments for you specifically at this time.” Earlier, Andrea Butler, the track’s marketing director, said details would be released Friday. She would not confirm or deny the Super Derby’s cancellation.

As industry observers wonder if a 2022 Super Derby could, at this late stage, attract nationally-competitive horses, one local trainer said there are long odds against Louisiana Downs pulling off an event on the level of past Super Derby races.  He said he believes there won’t be a 2022 edition, but didn’t totally discount the possibility of a race bearing the title being staged a month from now.

“It’s still not (officially) dead, but I think it probably is…They haven’t said it’s on, but they haven’t said it’s off,” the trainer said.

Asked if enough time remains to pull together a quality field, the trainer said, “They better get on the ball.”

Contact Tony at SBJTonyT@gmail.com


Bossier Parish – New central library complex

Steel beams are going up on the new $10 million, 39,000-plus square foot Bossier Parish Library System central branch location and expanded history center at the corner of Beckett St. and City Hall Dr.

Heather McEntee, director of the parish library system, said the new central library complex will be one of the finest facilities anywhere. Available in the new facility will be creative spaces for individuals who want to stretch their imaginations, a film and music studio, a separate teen area, and larger children’s areas.

One feature of the new central complex will be an expanded history center that will focus on the colorful, impactful history of Bossier Parish with more in-depth features on people, places, and events that have influenced the area.


Bossier Parish Police Jury: Meeting of August 3, 2022

BPPJ Meeting

Approval of three cooperative endeavor agreements between the state Department of the Treasury, the state of Louisiana and the Bossier Parish Police Jury will mean $400,000 in appropriations for the parish, including one which will provide sewer and water lines to serve a new sawmill in Plain Dealing.

Parish police jurors voted to move ahead with the agreements Wednesday.

Jury members were told $300,000 will be dedicated for services to the Teal Jones Group sawmill, a planned $110 million project located on LA Hwy. 3 just south of Plain Dealing. Officials say the new facility will support 125 new direct jobs with annual salaries averaging $47,000, plus benefits.

Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will also support at least 369 indirect jobs, for a total of 494 prospective new jobs in the northwest region of the state. The production facility would generate up to 120 construction jobs at peak construction.

Groundbreaking ceremonies for the lumber plant were held July 11.

Other funds approved through the agreements will be dedicated to one existing parish park and another that is on the drawing board. South Bossier Park will be receiving $75,000 for improvements that include four new soccer/football fields. South Bossier Park, located off Caplis Sligo Rd., is becoming one of the most popular recreational facilities in the police jury’s system.

A future park at Kinston Rd., complete with walking trail, will be receiving $25,000 through the agreements.

In other business at Wednesday’s meeting, police jury members:

• Approved request from Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office for a Quietus on the 2021 tax roll.
• Granted a three-week extension before enforcing condemnation order on property located on John Wilson Dr.
• Awarded bid for Project No. 2022-117, wall demolition and fencing project at Central Library, in accordance with bids received July 22, 2022, and authorize the Parish Administrator, Parish President, and/or Director of Libraries to execute any and all documents.
• Awarded bid for Project No. 2022-119, demolition of three (3) residential properties, in accordance with bids received July 29, 2022.
• Accepted a proposal for Project No. 2022-123, Castlewood Circle drainage repairs, located on Lot 19, Bayou Bend subdivision, Unit No. 7, and Lot 20, Bayou Bend subdivision, Unit No. 7A.
• Adopted a resolution authorizing the Parish Administrator or President to execute any and all documents in connection with required drainage servitudes for Project No. 2022-123, Castlewood Circle drainage repairs, located on Lot 19, Bayou Bend subdivision, Unit No. 7, and Lot 20, Bayou Bend subdivision, Unit No. 7A.
• Accepted a proposal for Project No. 2022-122, emergency drainage repair at Kingston Plantation – Cattails Trail and Colonel Burt Drive.
• Approved the plat of the proposed development of Willow Chute Estates subdivision, Unit No. 1, amended plat, being a replat of Willow Chute Estates subdivision, Unit No. 1, located in Section 27, Township 19 North, Range 13 West, Bossier Parish; located north of Wemple Road.
• Tabled for two weeks consideration of the minor plat for Susan Watts, located in Section 22, Township 20 North, Range 12 West, Bossier Parish; located off Dalrymple Road.
• Adopted an ordinance amending Chapter 82 of the Bossier Parish Code of Ordinances, “Parks and Recreation,” to add Article IV “Lake Plain Dealing.”
• Adopted an ordinance amending Chapter 94 of the Bossier Parish Code of Ordinances, “Roads and Subdivisions,” to add regulations for mailboxes in parish rights-of-ways.
• Approved the site plan for Swan Lake commercial subdivision, Unit No. 2, Lot 2B, C-Store and Retail, located in Section 26, Township 19 North, Range 13 West, Bossier Parish. (Located on the corner of Swan Lake Road and Duckwater Landing.)
• Recommended a disqualification hearing for developer and engineer concerning actions at a parish subdivision.
• Accepted report on meeting of the Insurance Committee.
• Agreed to impose a one-year penalty after company failed to meet obligations of the Industrial Tax Exemption Program contracts.
• Approved a resolution of acknowledgement and consent of the City of Bossier City Ordinance No. 82 of 2022 dated July 19, 2022, in accordance with La. R.S. 33:180.
• Approved a Termination of Option to Purchase in connection with Lot 4, Commerce Industrial Park, Unit No. 2.
• Approved a Waiver of Right of First Refusal in connection with Lot 4, Commerce Industrial Park, Unit No. 2.
• Ratified approval of a Letter of Support for Cajun Broadband in connection with their ConnectLA’s Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities (GUMBO) application.
• Ratified approval of a Letter of Support for Conexon Connect in connection with their ConnectLA’s Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities (GUMBO) application.
• Accepted the sewer main extension and improvements, Phase II, for Fairburn Avenue, into the Consolidated Waterworks/Sewerage District No. 1 of the Parish of Bossier sewer system for permanent maintenance.
• Approved Change Order No. 3 for Project No. 2021-109, Consolidated Waterworks/Sewerage District No. 1 expansion of wastewater collection system – Airline Drive.
• Approved Change Order No. 1 for Project No. 2021-127, Eastwood drainage improvements.
• Granted a variance for a home builder in Hope Hills subdivision.

VIEW THE MEETING AGENDA HERE:


Plainview High alumna Doyle earns $3,000 NSU scholarship

With plenty of good candidates to consider, choosing just three recipients of $3,000 scholarships to attend Northwestern State University in 2022-23 was quite challenging.

Not all of the applicants came from the Class of 2022, however. One candidate’s record in high school and what she’s done afterward helped her stand out.

Mycah Doyle, 21, earned one of the new Journal Services NSU Scholarships, which are awarding three new Northwestern students up to $3,000 in the next school year. Lakeview High’s Meagan Corley and Ryder Hogan of Red River High, both recent high school graduates, are the other two recipients chosen by the selection panel.

They have received a $1,500 award for use toward fall semester expenses and can receive another $1,500 by remaining eligible for the spring semester.

The scholarships were designed to assist Class of 2022 high school students who hadn’t settled on a college choice, or students currently enrolled at other higher-education institutions who are considering transferring to NSU in Natchitoches.

A 2018 Plainview High School graduate, Doyle had a 3.1 GPA as she began college. After compiling a very solid 2.8 GPA since, she decided to consider transferring to Northwestern and applied for the Journal Services NSU Scholarships announced in early June.

She has been a tutor for fellow students who have struggled. Her tutoring work has continued through the 2021-22 school year and into this summer. At Plainview, she was the videographer for her high school softball team as a senior.

The three scholarship awards are being provided by Journal Services, LLC, based in Natchitoches, which supports 12 locally-owned journals covering north central and northwest Louisiana.

“We are proud to support these three deserving and motivated scholarship winners, and we congratulate them,” said Bill Vance, general manager of Journal Services LLC. “This has been a rewarding experience for us, helping to finalize the college choices of three fine young people who are a good fit for opportunities at Northwestern State University. We are committed to providing more support for new NSU students for the 2023-24 school year.”

Applicants provided their high school GPA (and college GPA if applicable), and also, reported their ACT score along with listing honors, extracurricular activities and other relevant information on the form. That information provided a basis for selecting the three winners.

Scholarship winners must live in Natchitoches Parish during the upcoming school year. They are also required to have in-person, face-to-face instruction for 75 percent of their classes in 2022-23, and to maintain satisfactory academic progress to receive the second half of their awards for the spring semester.


Ware Youth Center: juvie detention space problems

JOURNAL STAFF

Sometimes when a juvenile commits a crime, it’s one and done. They may go into the courtroom where they attempt to place them in juvenile detention while awaiting adjudication. According to reports, there is a 70 percent chance once that child or teen spends a couple of nights at Ware Youth Center, they never want to see it again.

But Ware is full … a head in all 32 beds. Then what happens? The kids are returned to the streets, and what kind of signal does that send?

Ware Chief Operating Officer Kenneth Loftin said, “It tells the kids it’s OK to do what they did. There won’t be consequences for it.”

In 2014, Ware contracted with the state to fill vacant beds. At that time, DeSoto, Natchitoches, Sabine, Red River and Webster parishes were under that plan, and at that time, Ware had 34 beds.

The state would pay a per diem to help keep the doors open. Then, the state Office of Juvenile Justice canceled the agreement and pulled state kids out of the facility, along with some of the funding.

“We asked the five parishes if they wanted to make up the difference and keep Ware open,” Loftin said. “They chose not to … said they didn’t have the money.”

At that point, Ware contracted with Bossier Parish, who had an outdated “antiquated” youth center.

“They moved their operation from Bossier City to Ware,” he said. “They contracted for 24 beds and we had 34, so we gave each parish 2 beds a piece.”

Loftin retired in 2015, and in 2019 Ware experienced 2 suicides.

“State licensure reduced the bed capacity from 34 beds to 32,” said Loftin, who returned to Ware to offer aid under extenuating circumstances. “Which, math says, the parishes don’t have 2 beds any more. But because Bossier doesn’t always use all those beds, others utilize those beds, and Bossier is fine with that.”

Cost to house a juvenile is around $128 per day. Webster Parish Police Jury pays if the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office or one of the smaller jurisdictions makes the arrest. According to a WPPJ spokesperson, the smaller towns are asked to pay it, however, they most often call the sheriff’s department to make the arrest and WPPJ ends up with the tab. If Springhill Police make the arrest, City of Springhill pays for it. If Minden Police make the arrest, City of Minden foots the bill.

That cost is going up because earlier in the year, 3 juveniles escaped Ware with the help of a staff member. Loftin said insurance for the facility is being canceled, and he is seeking coverage elsewhere. It will be expensive, although he is unsure how much more cost will be needed for each bed.

Loftin said he is aware that since the legislature raised the juvenile crime age to 17, all the parishes need beds.

“It’s horrible,” he said. “It’s the worst thing the legislature has ever done for juvenile corrections.”

Loftin said the 17-year-olds present a unique group of problems.

“It’s not necessarily the bed space. What happens is, with 15, 16 and 17s, once the juvenile is indicted as an adult, they are put back in the juvenile detention center,” he said. “Once they come back to juvenile detention, they know they’re an adult. They know they have a trial date in the adult court system.

“They could care less what they do to my staff, the facility or anybody else because nothing they do – besides killing somebody – is going to raise the charge they already have,” Loftin continued.

In 2011, the state took away mace and other defense tools detention centers once used.

“All we have are staff and room restriction,” he said.

Loftin said he knows the judges see the limited bed space, but everyone’s hands are tied.

There is one light at the end of the juvenile bed space tunnel.

There is talk of building another facility on the Ware property in Coushatta that would allow the older juveniles to be separated from the younger ones.

Bossier Parish Police Jury (BPPJ) Administrator Butch Ford said the idea is in the “talking” stage.

“There were discussions earlier this year or late last year to build a new facility to hold 17-year-olds and isolate them from the younger ones,” Ford said. “The older, more violent crime juveniles are difficult to handle.”

Ford said Loftin approached BPPJ about the separate facility.

“We haven’t pulled the trigger on that,” said Ford. “They have enough beds for Bossier, and we are paying a good chunk of funds for them to house them for us.”

Having said that, Ford said BPPJ is willing to help other parishes, if the separate facility comes to fruition, however, the “ball is in Loftin’s court.”

“If they need the separate facility, that is Kenny’s call,” Ford said of Loftin. “Kenny will decide if and when that has to happen, and he will come back to us.”

But Bossier Parish will not be funding the construction.

“He will have to go back to the state and request money to build it,” Ford said. “We like our agreement with Ware. It’s working. They handle all of our cases and farm out to other parishes if there is available space.”

Ford said the parish bumped up their budget by a half million dollars when Loftin approached them for funds to help “shore up” Ware.

“They have enough property to build it, but like everyone, they are having manpower issues,” Ford said. “They don’t have enough people to work. We agreed to pay them more money to help with that situation.”

Ford said BPPJ will go to the state with Loftin and help in anyway they can to secure funds when the Ware head decides it is time.

“I’ve watched this the last six or seven months, and they are having to move some of those kids to Angola,” Ford said. “So, we will help him come up with a plan to seek state dollars.”

And Webster Parish, which needs a minimum of five beds, could be part of that plan.

“I had not heard Webster needs five beds,” Ford said. “Our two parishes work hand-in-hand, and if Webster is in need, we will sit down and work with them to try and resolve the problem.

“If Webster wants to sit down with us and Ware, we will do that,” he continued.


Shreveport mayor disqualified from seeking re-election

Mayor Adrian Perkins enters the YMCA for last week’s forum. (Photo by Erin McCarty)

By JOURNAL STAFF

The Shreveport mayoral race took an interesting turn Tuesday when Caddo District Judge Brady O’Callaghan ruled that incumbent mayor Adrian Perkins cannot be a candidate in the Nov. 8 election.

“My campaign team is going to appeal immediately,” Perkins told the media after the ruling. “My lawyers are going to fight for our democracy.”

A resident had challenged Perkins’ candidacy by claiming the mayor violated state law by using false information in his election qualification papers. Candidates are required to register for office using the address they have registered for a homestead exemption.

According to state law:  “When an objection to the candidacy is sustained on the ground that the defendant failed to qualify for the primary election in the manner prescribed by law, that the defendant failed to qualify for the primary election within the time prescribed by the law, or that the defendant does not meet the qualifications for the office he seeks, the final judgment shall disqualify the defendant as a candidate in the primary election for the office which he failed to qualify properly.”

According to O’Callaghan’s ruling (which had been expected at 3:30 p.m. but was handed down at noon), Perkins submitted false information under oath that was mistaken or inaccurate when he listed his voting address as different from his homestead exemption. In Monday’s court session, Perkins claimed the error was made on his qualifying papers because he was distracted by media lights from TV cameras.

“My opponents are attempting to use a clerical error to disqualify the mayor of Shreveport that won election overwhelmingly — who grew up in Shreveport, who lives in Shreveport, who votes in Shreveport — from seeking re-election,” said Perkins.

Perkins can appeal to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal. The case could go all the way to the Louisiana Supreme Court.

The primary elections are Nov. 8 with the general elections taking place on Dec. 10. Currently, there are nine other candidates running for Shreveport mayor.

View Judge’s Order:


One of Journal’s $3,000 NSU scholarships goes to Red River’s Hogan

Red River High School graduate Ryder Hogan didn’t settle on his college choice during the school year, but his impressive record of academics and extracurricular activities earned him a $3,000 scholarship to attend Northwestern State University in 2022-23.

Hogan, 18, has received one of the new Journal Services NSU Scholarships, which will award three new Northwestern students up to $3,000 in the next school year. Lakeview High’s Meagan Corley was the first recipient to be announced, and the final winner will be acknowledged shortly.

Hogan graduated cum laude with a 3.5 grade point average and earned membership in the National Honor Society. He has earned certification in carpentry in levels 1 and 2 while at RRHS.

A native of nearby Pelican, Hogan earned all-district honors in two sports. He was honored as a kicker and punter for Red River’s outstanding football team, and earned first-team all-district in baseball as a utility player.

The scholarships were designed to assist Class of 2022 high school students who hadn’t settled on a college choice, or students currently enrolled at other higher-education institutions who are considering transferring to NSU in Natchitoches.

They are being provided by Journal Services, LLC, based in Natchitoches, which supports 12 locally-owned journals covering north central and northwest Louisiana.

“We congratulate Ryder and the other two scholarship winners,” said Bill Vance, general manager of Journal Services LLC. “We were gratified by the response to this opportunity and are committed to expanding the opportunities and providing more support for new Northwestern State University students for the 2023-24 school year.”

Applicants provided their high school GPA (and college GPA if applicable), and also, reported their ACT score along with listing honors, extracurricular activities and other relevant information on the form. That information provided a basis for selecting the three winners.

Scholarship winners must live in Natchitoches Parish during the upcoming school year. They are also required to have in-person, face-to-face instruction for 75 percent of their classes in 2022-23.


PUBLIC NOTICE: Meeting Scheduled – Tonight

CALL TO ORDER

II. INVOCATION BY COUNCIL MEMBER CHRIS SMITH

III. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE BY COUNCIL MEMBER VINCE MAGGIO

IV. ROLL CALL

V. ANNOUNCEMENT

VI. APPROVE MINUTES
Approve Minutes of July 19, 2022, Regular Council meeting and dispense with the reading.

VII. APPROVE AGENDA

VIII. CEREMONIAL MATTERS/RECOGNITION OF GUESTS
1. Lynn Bryan, Keep Bossier Beautiful

IX. UNFINISHED BUSINESS
13 – 17 1. Adopt an Ordinance to appropriate $75,000 to come from the 2022 Sales Tax Capital Improvement Budget to increase expenditures for Police Department Other Equipment and decrease fund balance by $75,000.

(Final Reading) (Estess)
Ord License Plate Reader

18 – 19 2. Adopt an Ordinance appropriating the sum of Two Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($250,000.00) from the EMS Capital Contingency Fund for the purchase of a new Records Management System for the Bossier City Fire Department.
(Final Reading) (Zagone) Ord Fire Department Records Management

20 – 21 3. Adopt an Ordinance to amend Ordinance 90 of 2021 with Nixon Engineering Solutions to provide a Drainage Study, Phase IA Construction Documents and Right-of-Way Documents for the Tinsley Ditch Basin Relief Plan.

(Final Reading) (Patrick)
Ord amending Ord. 90

22 – 23 4. Adopt an Ordinance appropriate $275,000 from the 2015 LCDA Bond Issue for the completion of the Eastbank Fire Station.

(Final Reading) (Patrick)
Ord East Bank Fire Station completion

X. NEW BUSINESS
24 – 39 1. Adopt Zoning Ordinance

(First and Final Reading)
(Favorable by MPC)
Petitioner: Jin K. Kwon, King David Kwon, LLC
Location: 3416 Barksdale Blvd, Bossier City, LA
Request: Conditional Use Approval for on premise consumption of low content alcohol at a Restaurant Conditional use Spicy Bowl Sushi and Grill

40 – 41 2. Introduce an Ordinance to appropriate Twenty Five Thousand Two Hundred Dollars ($25,200.00) from the 2022 General Fund Fund Balance to fund officers with the Bossier Sheriff’s Office directing traffic in school zones.

(First Reading) (Montgomery/Williams)
Ord Sheriff Office Directing school traffic
42 – 43 3. Introduce an Ordinance to transfer $35,991 from the Police Department Budget to the Public Affairs Department Budget in the 2022 General

Fund Budget.
(First Reading) (Nottingham)
Ord Public Information
44 – 47 4. Introduce an Ordinance to declare the completion of the Walter O. Bigby Carriageway Pump Station Project by Max Foote Construction, LLC. at a total project cost of $3,836,000.00, including deductive Change Order

No. 1 in the amount of Sixty Four Thousand Dollars ($64,000.00) and to amend Ordinance 39 of 2021 leaving a surplus of funding to supplement fund 415 Walter O. Bigby Carriageway Fund.

(First Reading) (Chandler)
Ord WOB Pump Station completion
48 – 49 5. Public Hearing concerning the City’s Application to the United States Department of Justice to participate in the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program. Res Jag Grant

50 – 51 6. Adopt a Resolution endorsing the City’s Application to the United States Department of Justice to participate in the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program.

(First and Final Reading) (Estess)
Res Jag Grant

XI. REPORTS

XII. ANNOUNCEMENTS

XIII. ADJOURN

Please see FULL AGENDA HERE:


Downs’ ownership may have been shorted $2.3 million in 2021 sale

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports

The Journal has learned that the amount of money unaccounted for at Louisiana Downs Casino and Racetrack is $2.3 million, $400,000 more than originally reported, with the situation arising from the sale of the facility.

Last Friday, the Journal wrote that the Louisiana Attorney General’s office was looking into close to $2 million missing from the Downs’ Horseman’s Purse fund. Sunday, a source indicated that exact figure may be $1.9 million, with an additional $400,000 possibly involving money from video poker machines.

Sunday night, the state AG’s office gave the Journal the office’s first public comment on the situation.

“We are aware of the complaint and are working with the Louisiana Racing Commission and the other parties to resolve the matter,” said press secretary Cory Dennis.

The AG’s office is the legal counsel for the Louisiana State Racing Commission, so the office is limited in what it can say.

The Journal has been told the discrepancy involves the transfer of money which was to have occurred when the sale of Louisiana Downs was being closed last February. Caesars Entertainment sold what was then Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Casino, Racing and Entertainment, to Rubico Acquisition Corporation.

Kevin Preston, President of Rubico Acquisition Corporation, has not responded to requests for comment last week and Sunday evening. 

Preston has been candid and optimistic about his plans to bring Louisiana Downs back to life. The 48-year-old racing facility, which at one time drew large crowds and offered sizeable purses for horsemen, has generated little interest in recent years, but Preston’s leadership has encouraged locals, particularly those involved with the track.

This weekend, the Journal’s original story on the missing funds received national attention. It was picked up by at least two major horse racing publications.

Contact Tony at SBJTony@gmail.com


Lakeview’s Meagan Corley earns one of Journal’s $3,000 scholarships to NSU

It didn’t take Meagan Corley long to apply for a $3,000 scholarship to attend Northwestern State University in 2022-23. When the screening committee reviewed applicants, it was quickly obvious that the Lakeview High School graduate was a top-flight contender for one of the awards.

Corley, 18, has received one of the new Journal Services NSU Scholarships, which will award three new Northwestern State University students up to $3,000 in the next school year. The other two winners will be announced shortly.

She graduated high school with a 4.13 GPA on a 5.0 scale and already has a perfect college GPA of 4.0. Corley graduated with Summa Cum Laude honors and was active in the Future Farmers of America, the Beta Club and the National Honor Society. She served as Lakeview’s FFA chapter president for two years.

The scholarships were designed to assist Class of 2022 high school students who hadn’t settled on a college choice, or students currently enrolled at other higher-education institutions who are considering transferring to NSU in Natchitoches.

They are being provided by Journal Services, LLC, based in Natchitoches, which supports 12 locally-owned journals covering north central and northwest Louisiana.

“We congratulate Meagan and the other two scholarship winners,” said Bill Vance, general manager of Journal Services LLC. “We were gratified by the response to this opportunity and are committed to expanding the opportunities and providing more support for new Northwestern State University students for the 2023-24 school year.”

Applicants provided their high school GPA (and college GPA if applicable), and also, reported their ACT score along with listing honors, extracurricular activities and other relevant information on the form. That information provided a basis for selecting the three winners.

Scholarship winners must live in Natchitoches Parish during the upcoming school year. They are also required to have in-person, face-to-face instruction for 75 percent of their classes in 2022-23.


Almost $2 million of Downs purse money missing

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports

Multiple sources have told the Journal that close to $2 million is unaccounted for from the Louisiana Downs horseman’s purse fund.

“The HBPA (Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association) has reported a purse issue to the Louisiana State Racing Commission (LSRC) and the Attorney General’s Office,” said Ed Fenasci, Executive Director of the Louisiana HBPA. Because it is a legal issue, that is the only comment Fenasci could make.

Charlie Gardiner III, Executive Director of the LSRC, did not return a request for comment.

The Journal reached out to the Attorney General’s office and was told the person who could provide details was unavailable.

Kevin Preston, President of Rubico Acquisition Corporation, which owns Louisiana Downs Casino and Racetrack, did not respond to a request for comment.

The Journal spoke with several sources who requested anonymity. The Journal was told the issue in question involves the transition of purse money when the sale of Louisiana Downs Casino and Racetrack was closed last February. Caesars Entertainment sold what was then Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Casino, Racing and Entertainment, to Rubico.

The Journal was told that each day, purse money is generated from several sources, including
slot machines and pari-mutual wagering. At issue is if all of the appropriate purse money was
transferred from Caesars Entertainment to Rubico.


SBJ conducts Q & A with Caddo Schools Superintendent

Dr. T. Lamar Goree – Caddo Parish Schools Superintendent

JOURNAL STAFF

You could say Dr. T. Lamar Goree was destined to become an educator. After all, both his parents were career educators in Caddo Parish Public Schools.

A product of Caddo Parish schools, Dr. Goree began his career as a math teacher in Georgia before moving to Texas, where the Huntington High School graduate was a teacher, principal, and administrator – most notably as Area Superintendent with Mansfield Independent School District.

In December 2013, Dr. Goree returned to his hometown district to take on the role of Superintendent of Caddo Parish Schools – and the rest, as they say, is history. Dr. Goree, now the longest-serving superintendent in more than 30 years, was named the 2019 Louisiana Superintendent of the Year.

In Part Two of our preview of the upcoming 2022-2023 school year, the Journal reached out to Dr. Goree to get his answers to some important questions facing administrators in today’s public education field.

SBJ: What do you think your biggest accomplishment has been since taking over this role?

LG: One of the biggest highlights over the last nine years has been the creation of the Transformation Zone. When I entered the role of Superintendent, I was immediately met with the task of keeping 10 schools from state takeover.

The Board allowed staff the freedom to work with the state to develop a comprehensive plan to address these long-neglected schools and put in place innovative programs to turn around school performance. The Transformation Zone was launched in 2014. The Zone took long-standing issues including teacher quality, school climate and culture, and student behavior and tackled them head-on.

The results were powerful. Arrest rates at high schools in the Zone went from 400 the previous year to 10, eight of the 10 schools exited failing status, schools became inviting places that embraced the parents and community members as partners and the numbers of certified teachers in classrooms increased at incredible rates.


SBJ: What is the biggest challenge you are now facing as Superintendent?

LG: Teacher recruitment and retention is a concern affecting districts across our nation — including right here in Caddo Parish.

Among the single greatest indicators of student success is having a highly effective, engaging teacher. Therefore, the stakes are incredibly high. Today, the greatest majority of teachers receiving certification today are doing so through alternative certification programs where they are coming from another degree field. Still, districts are not receiving the numbers of applicants we need.

SBJ: What is the biggest challenge facing teachers?

LG: These recent years have been nothing short of difficult. The demand that comes with students who have distinct needs following the pandemic not only academically but socially and mentally asks a lot of teachers. Further, teachers over the years have been asked to do more and more. This is a time to lean in and have some candid conversations about where they are in this moment and how we can support their time in the classroom.


SBJ: What is the biggest challenge facing students?

LG: Mental health is absolutely top of mind regarding students and their wellbeing. Even before the pandemic, high school students were surveyed on their issues. Overwhelmingly, mental health was the most often cited concern. And those findings have only increased since this time.


SBJ: What steps are being taken to ensure the students’ safety on the campuses?

LG: Student and staff safety is the top priority of our school system. If students and staff do not feel safe, they cannot focus on learning. We have made strides in recent years to invest in enhanced physical security at campuses to limit who can come on campuses. Caddo also continues to train our principals, teachers and staff including drills and mock scenarios.

Further, our district has law enforcement officers on every campus as well as security coordinators and district staff dedicated to campus safety. We also work with law enforcement to collaborate on training opportunities for their members as well as work through our crisis response plans. 


SBJ: Teachers nationwide are leaving the profession at an alarming rate. How is this impacting your school district and what can be done to meet this challenge?

LG: Educators leaving the profession or not entering the profession at all is a source of great reflection for not only myself but other superintendents and the work we do as a whole. Caddo continues to actively recruit while reviewing our salaries and benefits to ensure we are competitive.

 

SBJ: What is your message to teachers, parents, and students going into the 2022-2023 school year?

LG: First, we are so excited to welcome our families back starting Aug. 3. This is a year of great hope and promise for our district. Between increased and updated technology, top-rated curricula and resources and well-trained teachers, we have the right people in the right places with the right resources to provide students with what they need for success. It’s going to be a great year!

SBJ conducts Q & A with Bossier Schools Superintendent


Get ready for some fun in the sun this weekend

JOURNAL STAFF

Don’t let the current heat wave stop you from getting outside this weekend. If you do, you’ll miss out on some fun activities planned over the next few days.

Just be cautious when battling the sweltering heat – drink lots of fluid, wear loose-fitting clothing (unless you’re in a bathing suit), or strap one of those popular compact fans around your neck.

Enjoy an outdoor movie, run around in the sprinklers, or have some fun in the sun while raising money for a worthy cause.

Friday, July 22

Champions Splash Bash: Join the Holy Angels Champions by the pool at this annual fundraising event at Pierremont Oaks Tennis Club (578 Spring Lake Drive) from 6-8 p.m. Fun in the sun will include a cannonball contest with resident judges, burger bar, bingo, and door prizes. Ticket choices range from the Splash Bash Package (Best Value at $40 includes entry, two bingo cards, and burger bar); Burger Bar Package ($32 includes entry and burger bar); Bingo Package ($10 includes entry and one bingo card); Entry Only ($5 includes entry). Adult and non-alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase at the event. For information and tickets, go to www.laholyangels.org. Holy Angels is a residential and training campus for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities located in Shreveport.

Twilight Talkies: Enjoy an evening with family on the lawns of the Norton Art Gallery as the Shreveport landmark hosts the latest of its movie under the stars. Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” will begin at 8 p.m. Be sure to get there early to find the ideal spot for your blankets and chairs. Food trucks setting up at 6 p.m. include Tasty Treats, Yeero-Yeero, Happy Belly’s Italian Ice, and Mama’s Popcorn. Norton Art Gallery is located at 4747 Creswell Avenue.

Saturday, July 23

Sprinkler Day: Have fun in the sun – and cool off in the sprinklers – as Norton Art Gallery is hosting Sprinkler Day from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. that will include local food trucks Onos Hawaiian Grill, Hot Dawg Hut, Frios Gourmet Pops, Dripp Donuts and Baskin Robbins. Norton Art Gallery is located at 4747 Creswell Avenue.

Keeping Your Cool in the Heat

If you’re planning on getting outside for any activities this weekend, please follow these tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to “stay cool, stay hydrated, and stay informed.”

  • Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink; muscle cramping may be an early sign of heat-related illness
  • Pace your activity – start activities slowly and pick up the pace gradually
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing
  • Take cool showers or baths to cool down
  • Seek medical care right away if you or someone you’re with has symptoms of heat-related illness


ON THE HOT SEAT: Tips for protecting yourself during this extreme heat wave

BEATING THE HEAT: When enjoying summertime at the swimming pool, it is important to take precautions to protect your skin from the extreme heat wave that has hit Shreveport-Bossier.

JOURNAL STAFF

It seems like a typical summer in Shreveport-Bossier – swimmers at the local pools, people mowing their yards, golfers on the local courses, tennis players (and pickleballers) on the local courts, kids out playing at local parks, and families enjoying watersports on local lakes.

But it’s not your typical summer here, or anywhere else in the United States. On Wednesday, the National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning for Shreveport-Bossier in addition to prompting alerts in 28 states.

Dozens of temperature records are expected to be broken in the coming days – with Texas and Oklahoma already reaching highs of 115 degrees. In addition, the sweltering heat in Great Britain has caused a state of emergency – with Londoners urged not to use the city’s transport network.

Obviously, you don’t need to be reminded that it is hot outside. But here’s a reminder – the hottest month on average for Shreveport-Bossier hasn’t even arrived. With an average high of 93.7 degrees, August is historically the hottest month around here.

Before you think about how hot it will be next month, consider this: the average temperature so far for July 2022 is 94 degrees. Now imagine how hot it will be over the next six weeks.

If you’re going to be spending time outside, it’s important to understand how dangerous this type of heat can be to your skin. For answers to questions about the heat and tips to stay safe, the Journal spoke to Dr. Sarah Glorioso of Ark-La-Tex Dermatology.

SBJ: What is the most important thing for people to realize about the record-breaking heat we are experiencing?

Dr. G: This amount of heat can be dangerous and it’s important to stay hydrated and not to overexert yourself outdoors. Seek shade, wear loose-fitting and sun-protective clothing, and apply sunscreen when outside. Also, certain medications can make you more likely to dehydrate — be aware of your medication’s side effects. 

SBJ: What is the most common problem you see resulting from this extreme heat wave?

Dr. G: As dermatologists, we are seeing severe sunburns from patients who are outside without sunscreen or forgetting to reapply. I am also seeing an increase in heat rashes this year. The ER’s and urgent care centers are seeing heat strokes and dehydration, which are very serious and can be deadly. 


SBJ: What are some lasting effects that can be caused from our daily exposure?

Dr. G: Repeat daily exposure from the sun can cause skin cancer, dry skin, and premature aging. If you have a heat stroke, it can cause permanent damage. 


SBJ: What are some things people can do to cope with the heat?

Dr. G: Stay hydrated, stay indoors during the hottest part of the day, wear loose clothing, wear sunscreen and sun-protective clothing. Also, make sure to not leave anyone or animals in the car. 


SBJ: What are some common misconceptions people have about this type of heat?

Dr. G: People think because they grew up in the South that they are already acclimated to this weather, but extreme heat can affect anyone. Athletes can push themselves too hard and need to be careful — just because you are “in-shape” or “young and healthy” doesn’t mean you are immune to heat exhaustion. 

MORE TIPS: In “Fluid Play,” the Northwest Louisiana Community Tennis Association offers these hydration tips for competitors:

BEFORE: drink 12-16 ounces of fluids; DURING: drink 4-6 ounces after warm-up and on every changeover; AFTER: weigh before and after playing; then drink 20-24 ounces for every pound of post-play body weight deficit.

Next up in SBJ: Tips for taking care of your pets during the extreme heat wave. Stay tuned.

Photo by HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD

Sarah Glorioso


Folk Festival to feature Cajun guitar workshop

42nd Annual Folk Festival

The 42nd Annual Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival has announced the addition of an interactive workshop entitled “Beginning Cajun Guitar,” which will feature instruction by Lafayette-based guitarist and songwriter Yvette Landry with support from fiddler Beau Thomas. The workshop will be held at 12 p.m. on Saturday, July 23 in the N-Club Room of Prather Coliseum on the campus of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches. Guitarists of all experience levels are encouraged to bring their instruments. Admission to the workshop is included with paid admission to the festival. The 42nd Annual Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival will be held, 9 a.m.-10 p.m., on Saturday, July 23 in Prather Coliseum at 220 South Jefferson Street on the NSU campus. Admission is $10 for the entire day, $6 after 5 p.m., and free for children ages 12 and under.

The workshop “Beginning Cajun Guitar” was added to the festival lineup following the cancellation, due to illness, of a harmonica workshop featuring blues musician Ed Huey. Landry’s workshop will focus on playing rhythm guitar in traditional Cajun music using open and closed guitar chords. Several traditional Cajun songs will be used as examples. The workshop will also demonstrate how to incorporate “bass runs” when changing from chord to chord in order to add bass and rhythm when playing as part of a traditional Cajun ensemble.

“Sharing music is like sharing sunshine,” Landry said. “Even on the darkest days it can bring joy. So come help spread a little Cajun sunshine!”

Landry plays a variety of instruments in bands such as the Lafayette Rhythm Devils and Bonsoir, Catin, as well as fronting her own bands, The Yvette Landry Trio and Yvette Landry and the Jukes. Her debut award-winning album titled “Should Have Known” was released in 2010 and was named Offbeat Magazine’s “Best Country/Folk Album” and Landry “Best Country/Folk Artist.” Landry has traveled the world and played countless cultural festivals and venues and toured Russia and served as a Cultural Ambassador on behalf of the Library of Congress to perform at the Festival of Traditional American Music and graced the stage at both the Library of Congress and John F. Kennedy Center of Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Landry is an educator, teaching American Sign Language and Song Writing at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She has also taught bass, guitar, accordion, and vocals at notable music camps including Cajun/Creole Week at the Augusta Heritage Center and the Louisiana Folk Roots Camp. Recently inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, Landry strives to bring cultures and traditions together, ensuring that they will be passed along. Since her debut album in 2010, Landry has released four more CDs and was nominated for Offbeat Magazine’s “Best of the Beat Awards” in two categories (Best Roots Rock Artist and Best Roots Rock Album).

Thomas, born and raised on the Bayou in Abbeville, began playing the fiddle at the age of 17. With absolutely no training or musical background anywhere in his family, he immediately realized he had a gift from above. Within six months he was literally halfway around the world on a three-week tour. When he returned home, he began playing professionally and has since shared some of the largest stages with the finest world class musicians, far too many to list. Thomas plays every style of music and is most known for his unique and crafty improvisational solos. He has recorded on over 1,200 recording sessions locally and for numerous international artists. One of his latest received a Grammy award with recording artist Jo-El Sonnier. Thomas is a Louisiana State Fiddle Champion and winner of many local awards which he considers a great honor as there are so many accomplished musicians in Louisiana. His greatest joy is having the opportunity to work with virtually every artist around his home area of Southwest Louisiana.

Landry and Thomas will also perform a music set at the festival from 11:00-11:30 a.m.

Support for the Festival is provided by grants from the Cane River National Heritage Area, Inc., the Louisiana Division of the Arts, the Louisiana Office of Tourism, the Natchitoches Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Natchitoches Historic District Development Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and Foundation and the Shreveport Regional Arts Council.


BURN BAN: Bossier Parish, July 15, 2022

Parish-wide Burn Ban

A burn ban in Bossier Parish, beginning Friday, July 15, has been announced following a state of emergency declaration signed by the Bossier Parish Police Jury President Tom Salzer.

Bossier Parish fire chiefs called for the ban until conditions improve, according to Ian Snellgrove, director of the Bossier Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Snellgrove said the burn ban declaration has been filed with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness according to state requirements.

Following is the text of the emergency declaration:

State of Emergency for Bossier Parish

WHEREAS, the Parish of Bossier is threatened with an emergency condition within our parish due to the lack of rainfall, the past several months of dry and extreme heat conditions in our region, this has created dangerous fire conditions for Bossier Parish.

According to the Weekly US Drought Monitor, a majority of Bossier Parish has been in a DO – Abnormally Dry conditions past several weeks. Last week a portion of the parish’s West and North Western portion to near/-220 has seen the change to a D1-Moderate Drought, and according to this week’s report from the US Drought Monitor. The D1 – Moderate Drought has grown and spreading across the northern portion of Bossier Parish. Now according to the National Weather Service 10-day Outlook Forecasts for below normal rainfall as well as likely above normal temperatures, all of which creating the very dry ground and vegetative conditions. These conditions will remain and likely get worse if we do not receive adequate rainfall amounts in our area. This dryness along with any wind conditions will have a negative impact to our parish by the increased fire danger threat within Bossier Parish and surrounding areas.

WHEREAS, The Bossier Parish Fire Chiefs agree, that there is a very definite threat possibility to life and property of the citizens of this Parish as well as first responders safety issues; and requested the Burn Ban be in effect for the entire Bossier Parish area beginning Friday, July 15, until these conditions improve and,

WHEREAS, the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act, La. R.S. 29:721, et seq., and specifically La. R.S. 29:727 confers upon the Parish President emergency powers to deal with emergencies and disasters, including those caused by fire, flood, earthquake or other natural or manmade causes, in order to ensure that preparations of their Parish will be adequate to deal with such emergencies or disasters and to preserve the lives and property of the people of the Parish;

WHEREAS, when the Parish President determines that a disaster or emergency has occurred, or the threat thereof is imminent, La. R.S. 29:727(D) empowers the Parish President to declare a state of emergency by executive order or proclamation, or both;

THEREFORE,1, Tom Salzer the Bossier Parish President of the Bossier Parish Police Jury, by authority vested in me by the Parish Charter and the Louisiana Disaster Act, do hereby proclaim:

A STATE OF EMERGENCY does exist within Bossier Parish and that the Emergency Preparedness / All Hazard Emergency Operations Plan be activated and in effect immediately.

Issued on this 14th day of July 2022 and effective at time of issuance.

Tom Salzer
President, Bossier Parish Police Jury


Drawdown used to manage giant salvinia on Lake Bistineau

Lake Bistineau State Park

A drawdown of Lake Bistineau in Webster, Bossier and Bienville parishes to begin Monday, July 25 has been scheduled by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF).

LDWF officials said the purpose of the drawdown is to reduce the further expansion of giant salvinia infesting the lake. Additionally, the drawdown will benefit fisheries production by improving aquatic habitat and reducing the amount of organic matter on the lake bottom, officials said.

LDWF has requested the Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) open the water control structure (dam). Once the water control structure is open, the lake should dewater at a rate of four to six inches per day until it reaches a potential maximum drawdown level of eight feet below pool stage.

This dewater rate could be impacted, however, by local rainfall in the surrounding watershed. During the drawdown, the department will monitor aquatic habitat conditions to determine the best time to conclude the drawdown and allow the lake to refill for early spring recreational activities.

Why are drawdowns used to manage giant salvinia on Lake Bistineau?

During the warmest parts of the summer, giant salvinia on Lake Bistineau can double its coverage in less than three days. As the accessible parts of the lake are sprayed and the dying salvinia sinks, the ever-growing salvinia mats in the forested areas of the lake continue to push out new plant material.

Due to the rate of plant growth, it is extremely difficult to keep the plant coverage at manageable levels with only herbicide applications.

Drawdowns strand and kill the plant material that is actively growing and reproducing in the shallow areas of the lake, allowing the spray efforts to make greater strides in reducing salvinia coverage in areas that are accessible to boats.

Relying on herbicides alone during the peak summer growing season would also carry a very large price tag. It is more cost-effective to combine the benefits of a drawdown with herbicide applications to make better use of available public funds.

For additional information regarding the drawdown, contact Jeff Sibley, LDWF Biologist Manager, at jsibley@wlf.la.gov or call at 318-371-5294.


SBJ conducts Q & A with Bossier Schools Superintendent

Mitch Downey – Bossier Parish School Superintendent

Journal Staff

When the Bossier Parish School Board named a new Superintendent in April 2019, its members unanimously voted to go with someone who was well acquainted with its mission.

Mitch Downey was the obvious choice. Before taking over the role of Superintendent of Bossier Schools, Downey served the previous three years as Assistant Superintendent and Interim Superintendent. In fact, his entire 35-year education career had been devoted to Bossier Schools.

Downey began his career in education as a social studies teacher and coach at Bossier High School, then worked his way up the administrative ladder at several schools. His last stop before moving into a district role was at Benton High School, where he served as principal for four years.

Downey’s focus as Superintendent is on the empowerment of teachers and principals, with the belief that if every decision made is based on what is best for students, then everything else falls into place.

With the start of a new school year approaching, the Journal reached out to Downey to get his answers to some important questions facing administrators in today’s public education field.

SBJ: What do you think your biggest accomplishment has been since taking over this role?

MD: Navigating the pandemic and providing a safe school environment during that difficult time. It was a huge challenge, yet our teachers and staff rose to the occasion and worked each day to not only meet, but to exceed those obstacles head-on. They are the true heroes!

SBJ: What is the biggest challenge you are facing as Superintendent?

MD: Teacher shortages and growth of the parish.

SBJ: What is the biggest challenge facing teachers?

MD: The landscape has drastically changed for educators over the years. They face increased demands put on them, eroding parental support and heightened criticism. They need to be granted a lot more grace. 

SBJ: What is the biggest challenge facing students?

MD: In addition to the big decisions students must make about college, career and their future, social media has taken a toll on our young people, placing additional pressures on them that lead to stress and anxiety.

SBJ: What steps are being taken to ensure the students’ safety on the campuses?

MD: Bossier Schools has one of the most comprehensive School Resource Officer (SRO) programs in the state, with 43 fully certified Bossier Parish Sheriff’s deputies assigned to each of our schools, as well as our own K-9 trained in gun powder and narcotics detection. Without jeopardizing internal procedures, our SROs work hand in hand with the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office in continually evaluating and refining protocols and training regularly should the unthinkable happen.

SBJ: Teachers nationwide are leaving the profession at an alarming rate. How is this impacting your school district and what can be done to meet this challenge?

MD: We are not immune to the increased staffing challenges. Bossier is having to compete with other districts to recruit from a shrinking pool of educators while working to retain the highly qualified teachers we have.

One way we are trying to meet this challenge is by growing our own. Examples of that include the parent-to-teacher initiative that Bossier Schools started last year. We had paraprofessionals in classrooms with four-year degrees who we are now tutoring to help them pass the Praxis and become certified teachers. The district is also helping paras with some college work toward getting their alternative certification. 

We have also hired a Recruitment/Retainment Specialist who will work year-round to recruit, retain, and support teachers in place now.

And there are two longer-term initiatives being implemented at Bossier Schools. The pre-educator pathway for high school students at Bossier Parish School for Technology and Innovative Learning integrates them in the school setting in hopes they will want to pursue teaching as a career; and new this fall is Educators Rising, which will mirror the Bossier Youth Leadership program.  Students in 8th and 10th grades will have the opportunity to learn more about career opportunities when they visit different locations throughout the district several times a year and take a deeper dive into the education arena.

SBJ: High school athletes in Louisiana can now receive NIL (name, image, and likeness) benefits. Do you see this as a positive or negative?

MD: It remains to be seen how NIL will flesh out as we move forward. It is a fantastic opportunity for high school athletes, but it is not without challenges. Certainly, it is in its infancy stage and will have to be monitored correctly to make sure it is not abused and used for recruitment.

SBJ: You had a successful coaching career. How has that experience helped you in your role as superintendent?

MD: It taught and emphasized the value of teamwork and the power of collaboration. There is value in everyone contributing because it allows for ownership and empowerment. Personally, it helped me develop focus and a strong work ethic.