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Sean Green

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Sean Green is managing editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune.

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BOSSIER CITY – Funeral services for Retired Judge Monty Meares Wyche will be held at 10:00 a.m., Friday, August 1, 2014 at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Bossier City.  Officiating will be Rev. Beth Sentell and Rev. Dan Hignight.  Interment will follow at Plain Dealing Cemetery with U.S. Navy Honors.  Visitation will be from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Thursday, July 31, 2014 at Rose-Neath Funeral Home, 2201 Airline Drive, Bossier City.

WycheMonty2Judge Wyche was born on December 4, 1926 in Plain Dealing, Louisiana to James Egbert and Helen Friend Wyche, and passed away on July 28, 2014 after a brief illness at Christus Schumpert Highland Hospital in Shreveport, surrounded by his wife and children.  After graduating from Benton High School, he attended LSU for one year before enlisting in the Army during World War II.  After the war he completed his college education and received his Juris Doctorate Degree from LSU Law School in 1950, and then served again in the Army during the Korean War.  He practiced law in Bossier Parish for many years, including a number of years as an Assistant District Attorney.  He was appointed in 1969 as a State District Judge for the 26th Judicial District Court in Bossier and Webster Parishes, filling an unexpired term, and was unopposed for election each subsequent term until his retirement in 1988.  During his retirement years, he continued to serve as judge when asked to fill various temporary vacancies in the 1st and 26th Judicial District Courts, as well as the Second Circuit Court of Appeal.  He served on the Judicial Council of the Louisiana Supreme Court and the Council of the Louisiana Law Institute.  He also served in the Naval Reserve, attaining the rank of Commander before retiring.

He was a long-time elder in the Presbyterian Church, and was a member of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Bossier City.  He was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity, Phi Delta Phi, an international legal honor society, the Louisiana State Bar Association and the Retired Military Officers Association.  

Judge Wyche is preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Phil Phillips and a sister, Betty Phillips Wyche.  He is survived by his loving wife of 53 years, Ann Wesson Wyche; their daughter, Martha Wyche Singletary and husband, Robert of Baton Rouge; sons, James Wesson Wyche and wife, Shannon Kring Wyche of Shreveport, and Timothy David Wyche of Madisonville and fiancée, Carolina Erdozain; six grandchildren, Tyler and Kylee Wyche, Marine Lance Corporal Jonathan Wyche and fiancée, Nicole Capito, and Allen, Davis and Kirk Singletary; a sister, Madge Wyche Brice and husband, Don  and many other friends and family.  

Monty was devoted to his wife and family and was a man of deep faith.  He greatly enjoyed his Sunday School class and times spent at his church, lunches and fellowship with friends at the Barksdale Officers Club, all things LSU, and, in earlier years, gardening, bicycling and vacationing with his family.  In the legal community, as well as in all aspects of his life, he was known for his fairness, calm demeanor, and his kind, gentle and loving spirit.  He was deeply loved by his family and friends.  

Honoring Monty as pallbearers will be Lee Brice, Gordon Christy, Allen Singletary, Robert Singletary, Judge Ford Stinson and Jeff Wyche.  Serving as honorary pallbearers will be Don Brice, Davis Singletary, Kirk Singletary, A. M. Wallace, Jr., Al Wyche and Marine Lance Corporal Jonathan Wyche.

The family suggests memorials may be made in Judge Wyche’s name to the charity of the donor’s choice.

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Bossier Schools has long valued its partnership with Barksdale Air Force Base and as a result of its steadfast commitment to “Keep the Promise” by supporting military personnel and their families, the Barksdale/Bossier Connection was selected by the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) to receive the 2014 Pete Taylor Partnership of Excellence Award in the category of Exemplary Partnerships. 

“Receiving this award directly reflects the power of this partnership and what is attainable when everyone works toward the same goal,” said Bossier Schools Superintendent D.C. Machen. “The ultimate reward is the positive effect the Barksdale/Bossier Connection has on those that matter most; the children entrusted in our care. We will continue our pledge to ‘Keep the Promise’ to our military families in an effort to make a positive impact in their lives and the Bossier community.”

This annual award, announced yesterday by MCEC at its 16th National Training Seminar in Washington D.C., recognizes partnerships formed between military installations and school districts around the world that serve military-connected children. One of the many examples of this partnership is the cooperative effort in June 2012 to secure a Military Student Transition Consultant to address the transitional and educational issues affecting military children in Bossier Schools.  

Barksdale/Bossier Connection partners accepting the Exemplary Partnership award in Washington D.C. are Barksdale Air Force Base; Barksdale Forward; Bossier Parish Schools; Bossier Chamber of Commerce; Cyber Innovation Center; Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation and the Military Affairs Council.  

Also recognized at the ceremony were Fort Polk Progress, the Vernon Parish School District, Fort Polk and other partners for the group’s Education Initiative, which was awarded the 2014 Pete Taylor Partnership of Excellence Award in the category of Outstanding Partnerships. 

Two state partnerships winning these coveted national awards from MCEC is significant, underscoring the value Northwest and Central Louisiana place on the military and the strong support our communities provide to military-connected families.   

The Pete Taylor Partnership of Excellence Award recognizes the work of former MCEC Chairman Lieutenant General (Ret.) Pete Taylor in assisting the highly mobile military child. The award is designed to foster the sharing of lessons learned and to recognize the long-held belief of General Taylor that “goodness starts at the local level.” 

Founded in 1998, the Military Child Education Coalition® (MCEC®) is a 501(c)(3) global, nonprofit leadership and advocacy organization focused on ensuring quality educational opportunities for America’s two million military-connected children affected by mobility, family separation, and transition. For more information, visit www.MilitaryChild.org

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CHRISTUS Health Shreveport-Bossier is offering a “Back to School Healthy Checkup” Friday, Aug. 1 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at SciPort: Louisiana Science Center, 820 Clyde Fant Parkway, Shreveport.

This annual health fair is an opportunity for registered children to receive a free checkup by medical professionals (blood pressure, immunization check, BMI, dental and vision screenings). Over 1,400 children were registered in three days.

Children must visit four of the 25 social service agencies present (Center for Families, Girl Scouts, Tobacco Control, Families Helping Families, etc.). Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Once each child has completed his/her checkup, he/she will receive a new backpack with school supplies. Children also receive free admission to Sci-Port and can stay all day enjoying the many activities including a sno-cone truck, free books and other prizes!.

CHRISTUS Health Shreveport-Bossier and SciPort: Louisiana Science Center are hosting the event with more than 25 community partners.

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HAUGHTON – Dwain Sadler, 66, passed away July 27, 2014 after a courageous battle with lung cancer. Services will be held on Thursday, July 31, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. at Hill Crest Memorial Chapel. Interment will follow at Hill Crest Memorial Park with full military honors. The family will be receiving friends on Wednesday, July 30th from 5-8 at Hill Crest Memorial Funeral Home.

He was born in Tachappi, CA on July 20, 1948. He served as an elder at Eastwood Church of Christ and retired after 39 years in the military including Air Force, Vietnam, FFA, and Reserves.

He was preceded in death by his parents, four sisters and two brothers.

Survived by his wife of 45 years, Diane, son Brian and wife Tammy, their children Hunter and Autumn, daughter, Tammy Owens and husband Mark and their children Kendall and Coy, and his three sisters.

In lieu of flowers, you canmake a donation to the Eastwood Church of Christ Missionary Fund, 4100 Hwy. 80 E., Haughton, LA 71037.

You may share your memories with the family by visiting www.hillcrestmemorialfh.com.

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The Bossier Financial Crimes Task Force and Bossier Crime Stoppers are asking the public for help with identifying and locating a man suspected of using a stolen fuel card to ring up hundreds of dollars in authorized fuel purchases. 

Stolen Fuel Card SuspectThe card, which belonged to a local business, was used over the past several months to buy fuel at multiple area gas stations. Over the course of the investigation, the task force obtained security camera photos from some of those locations that show the suspect along with the vehicle he was driving.

The suspect is a white male who appears to have dark brown hair. The vehicle he was in is a Toyota 4Runner that appears to be white in color with gray trim.

Anyone who can help detectives identify the suspect is asked to contact Bossier Crime Stoppers and can be eligible for a cash reward if their tip results in an arrest. Tips to Bossier Crime Stoppers can be phoned in by calling (318) 424-4100 or submitted online via bossiercrimestoppers.org. Persons who contact Bossier Crime Stoppers are reminded they may remain totally anonymous.

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Hello, this is my first column as Publisher of this newspaper.  I am looking forward to the opportunity to serve in my new role.  Once David Specht approached me about writing a column as Publisher, I started thinking of many things. I thought about all of the people who have supported me throughout my life. There are numerous family members, friends, colleagues, team members, educators, religious leaders, my pastor, motivational speakers, professional, educational and community organizations, musical activities and athletic endeavors that have helped shape who I am.

For all of this, I am so grateful!

Most especially, I would like to thank God and I would like to thank my parents for their ever constant and unwavering support in everything I do! Also, I would like to thank Specht Newspapers owner and President and former Bossier Press Tribune Publisher, David Specht, who’s steady leadership, guidance and friendship is immeasurable. David has paved the way for me in this new role and has set a high standard over many years for our newspaper, our internal organizational culture and Specht Newspapers, Inc..  I will try to the very best of my abilities to continue to uphold these values in my new role each and every day. So, to everyone and everything mentioned above (I hope that I have included everyone and everything), I would like to say THANK YOU!

randy brownIn moving on, I have also been thinking lately about all that has taken place in Bossier City and Bossier Parish over the 13 years that I have been at this newspaper. I started to work at this newspaper in July of 2001. As I see it, Bossier was just on the verge of unprecedented and exponential residential, business and civic growth. A few years earlier, Arthur Ray Teague Parkway running down the Bossier side of the Red River opened up a major traffic artery moving traffic both north and south in Bossier City. The CenturyTel (now CenturyLink) Center had just been built. Many forms of business and industry (including gaming and hospitality) were booming and poised for future growth. A few years later (2005), the Louisiana Boardwalk opened and quickly became the number one destination in this region.

In 2008, the Haynesville Shale natural gas play came on the scene and had a voluminous economic impact upon our entire region. Our city and parish has also experienced tremendous retail, restaurant and residential growth since the turn of the century. In turn, This has resulted in the growth and expansion of  a multitude of developments, new and expanded schools and various other supporting entities. And, Bossier City (and the region) has also seen the tremendous growth of Bossier Parish Community College (BPCC), one of the nation’s premier community colleges. BPCC’s expansion to a beautiful new state of the art campus during the last decade has most definitely aided in their growth. The Cyber Innovation Center (and all of the supporting technological businesses and industries) is taking us in a whole new and very important economically diversified technologically based direction.   All of this could not have been done without great leadership.

Great leadership is a must! From governmental bodies and political leaders, to law enforcement and community/civic organizations, great leadership has been what has made our community what it is today! We are also blessed with a wonderful Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Foundation that have both paved the way for so many great things to happen.

In short, we are very blessed. The Port of Shreveport Bossier on the Red River is rapidly growing in activity and business development. We will soon experience the economic benefits of the long awaited Interstate 49 North which will link us to both Interstate 30 in Texarkana on the north side and to Interstate 10 in Lafayette on the south side. This will further establish us as a major transportation and distribution hub for this entire region and part of the nation. Also, Interstate 69 is also on the not too distant horizon. As such, the future looks very bright in terms of our development as a major economic force in terms of transportation and distribution and so many other areas.

I am so proud to be the Publisher of this newspaper at this particular time! Many great things have happened in our city/parish over the past several years,  great times are here now and so much more is yet to come! I am really excited about the future and I look forward to being a part of it all! As David Specht so often says, “The best is yet to come!”

Randy Brown is Publisher of the Bossier Press-Tribune. He may be reached at rbrown@bossierpress.com

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Dear Editor,

As members of Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), we applaud the Louisiana legislators who are taking legal action against BESE for its improprieties in adopting Common Core education standards.  Although we regret that legal action is necessary, the majority of BESE has shown an unwillingness to demand transparency and accountability from the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) and State Superintendent of Education John White, and we share the frustrations of the legislators who feel compelled to seek justice for Louisiana’s children.

The legislators note that BESE did not follow the Louisiana Administrative Procedure Act (APA) in adopting Common Core education standards.  Specifically, BESE did not follow APA’s requirement that all rules adopted by BESE be publically advertised for 90 days prior to adoption.  The purpose of this 90 day requirement is to promote transparency and good governance by allowing review and feedback from the public.  It’s clear that BESE did not follow this requirement when it adopted the Common Core standards.

Sadly, this is not the only instance where BESE ignored APA requirements when adopting rules that impact our children.  In 2012, as BESE members concerned about this practice of ignoring the APA, we made a motion requesting an Attorney General’s opinion on the legal ramifications of ignoring the APA requirements.   The majority of BESE voted against seeking clarification on APA requirements from the Attorney General.

Furthermore, an ongoing audit of the LDOE’s contracts for education assessment services has documented serious defects in the procurement process used to award assessment testing contracts – totaling millions of taxpayer dollars – to out-of-state businesses.  Although the audit process is still ongoing, the audit’s initial findings raise troubling questions about the fairness and transparency of the LDOE’s award of contracts to vendors providing Common Core testing services.

These questions must be answered by Superintendent John White, yet the majority of BESE seems determined to sue Governor Jindal for seeking answers to these questions rather than addressing them.  Irrespective of the merits and weaknesses of the Common Core standards and PARCC, the public should have complete confidence in the LDOE and BESE’s ability to follow the law and operate transparently and fairly.  Sadly, that is not the case, and legal action must be taken to ensure justice and fairness from those entrusted to educate our children.

Sincerely,

Lottie P. Beebe, BESE District 3, Breaux Bridge

Carolyn Hill, BESE District 8, Baton Rouge

Jane Smith, BESE Member at Large, Bossier

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Bossier attorney Whit Graves will announced Tuesday, July 29 that he will challenge incumbent Bossier-Webster District Attorney Schuyler Marvin this fall.

FAX-NET EXCLUSIVE!

The possibility of such a race has had tongues wagging – and people guessing – for weeks around the Benton Court House.

Graves remained mum through it all, letting it be known that he was also considering a run for District Judge and perhaps even state representative.

Graves did run for a seat on the 26th Judicial District Court in 2012.  He lost in a runoff to now-Judge Mike Nerren, who was an assistant DA and backed by Marvin loyalists, 53.5% to 46.5%.

The impending announcement by Graves sets the stage for what will be one of the more exciting, interesting – and likely contentious – races on the November 4 ballot.

Graves served for 12 years with the Louisiana State Police and completed his undergraduate degree at LSU-Shreveport.  He received his law degree from the LSU Law School in Baton Rouge.

After getting his law degree, Graves served for 12 years as an assistant district attorney for Bossier and Webster parishes.  He went into private practice in  1990.

Marvin will be seeking a third six-year term as the  Bossier-Webster District Attorney.  He received his undergraduate education from LSU-Baton Rouge and  his law degree from Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge.

Marvin was first elected DA as a Democrat on November 5, 2002.  He narrowly defeated Republican candidate Mike Boggs, 51.4% to 48.6%.  He was unopposed for a second term in 2008 and had, by that time, changed his registration to Republican.

Graves is a Republican and was endorsed by the Louisiana Republican Party when he ran for judge in 2012.

Are District Attorneys under siege?

The revelation that Bossier-Webster District Attorney Schuyler will have opposition as he seeks a third term is not an isolated occurrence in the elections this fall.

Jeremy Alford of LaPolitics.com, a Maginnis publication, has done some research, and here’s what he has found out.

As many as nine district attorneys could be facing challenges this November.  So far, six have announced they will not seek re-election.

According to Alford, serious challenges to incumbent district attorneys may occur in Lafayette, West Feliciana, St. Landry, Jefferson Davis, and Terrebonne parishes.

And incumbents may also be opposed in Bienville, St. Bernard, St. John, and Caldwell parishes.

Six district attorneys are not seeking re-election in Lincoln-Union, Rapides, Iberia-St. Martin-St. Mary, Cameron, St. Tammy-Washington, and Beauregard, creating open seats.

Grant writing workshop and luncheon

A Grant Writing Workshop and Luncheon will be held on Wednesday, August 13 from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m at the Bossier Civic Center, hosted by the American Grant Writers’ Association.

A Meet and Greet will be at 11:30 a.m.  Lunch with local, state, and federal officials will be at noon.  A $15 charge covers the workshop and luncheon.

For more information contact Lee Clemons at 318-965-3793.  If interested, you can register online at https://grantwriting2014.eventbrite.com.

Lou Gehrig Burnett is a seasoned veteran of politics. He publishes Fax-Net Update, a weekly political newsletter.

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One of the things I look for when going to vote is the “sample” sheet posted on the wall outside my voting precinct.  These postings provide a sample ballot and couple of times over the years, just the size of the sheet was fairly intimidating – and especially so if spilled over into an additional page or two.

The upcoming November 4, 2014 sample ballot posted outside our Bossier Parish polling places looks to fit that “fairly intimidating” description.

So it’s up to voters to start early on their study of candidates and issues.  Candidates for office qualify from August 20 to 22, and voters will have a slew of folks to consider for public office.  From Congressional seats to deciding the next state Supreme Court Associate Justice, voters will also be deciding whether they’re satisfied with representation of their very popular current Public Service Commissioner, Foster Campbell.

More locally, all District Court Judges are up for re-election; in Bossier-Webster parishes, Judges John Robinson and Ford Stinson have announced their respective retirements – and candidates are already lining up to vie for those seats.  This is a re-election year statewide for District Attorneys, and it’s been suggested that Bossier-Webster District Attorney Schuyler Marvin may have opposition as he looks to serve a third term.

All Bossier Parish School Board members are up for re-election, as are Justices of the Peace and Constables.  In Bossier City, the City Court Judge Tommy Wilson isn’t likely to draw an opponent for his seat, but the race for City Marshal is already underway.

Campaign signs for both Jim Whitman and Carl Richard are appearing all over Bossier.

And in Plain Dealing, the mayor, marshal and all aldermen are up for re-election.

If that’s not enough, voters really will need some lead time to consider the 14 proposed Constitutional Amendments that will appear on the November 4 ballot.  Eight of the amendments were proposed by lawmakers in the 2013 legislative session; the balance were a result of the 2014 session.

Typically, these proposed amendments take some review and study – they are written in legalese and often need some interpretation.  Historically, both the Public Affairs Research Council and the Council for a Better Louisiana have offered guides to proposed amendments, so folks interested in learning more will want to check these organization’s websites for more information.

Of course, another source of information for interested voters is our local legislative delegation.  Local lawmakers should be able to provide the list and an explanation of the proposed amendments – just call their local offices.

Finally, there will be local tax issues on the November ballot.  A couple of property tax renewals include Cypress Black Bayou and the parish’s library tax.  And a couple of new propositions will also be on the ballot – more information on those in the next few weeks.

It’s not a stretch to suggest that voters who don’t study the issues and get to know the candidates in order to make their well-considered choices at the ballot box will need to bring a box lunch for the time needed to study that sample ballot posted at their voting precinct.

This is one of those elections that promises sample ballot spill-over to more than a couple of those huge sheets.

And be sure you’re registered to vote – last day to register for the November 4 election is October 6.

Marty Carlson is a columnist for the Bossier Press-Tribune. She may be reached via email at m_carlso@bellsouth.net 

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Story by Bonnie Culverhouse

bonnie@press-herald.com

“Usually you hear people seeking political office promising to move forward. I promise to move back, back to a district attorney’s office that is honest, open and caring,” Bossier City attorney Whit Graves said as he announced during a news conference that he is running for district attorney in the 26th Judicial District that includes Bossier and Webster parishes. 

Following nearly12 years with the Louisiana State Police, Graves graduated from LSU Law School. Immediately after passing the bar exam on his first attempt, Graves was hired by District Attorney Henry Brown as a prosecutor.

“It was truly a dream come true that I had worked toward for many years simultaneously working full-time and going to college,” Graves said. 

WHIT GRAVES“With Henry Brown’s guidance and tutoring, I took my already strong foundation and built upon it, learning the valuable lessons about being a responsive and responsible attorney for the people of our district. Those lessons focused mainly on being honest, open and caring.”

After Brown’s election to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal, Graves rose to the position of chief prosecutor under D.A. Jim Bullers, handling the majority of murder, armed robbery and aggravated rape cases. 

Bullers was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident and “the office, to put it delicately, fell below the standards I was accustomed to through no one’s fault except the deer Jim ran into,” Graves said. 

After 12 years as a prosecutor, Graves went into private practice and later decided not to run for District Attorney when Bullers declared he would not seek re-election. Two years ago, when he ran for district judge, Graves said people told him they would rather he ran for district attorney.

Graves said he examined the potential of returning to his dream of 14 years ago after a large number of individuals encouraged him to take on the challenge of running for district attorney against a well-financed, two-term incumbent.

“No matter how long the list of negatives, the one thing that kept hitting me in the face was the chance to reinstate the lessons I learned from Henry Brown, how to be responsive and responsible for those we work for by being honest, open and caring,” he said.

Graves said if elected, he would make specific promises, including:

  • To reinstate the practice of placing police reports into the public record in the Clerk of Court office. “Plea bargains that appear to be sweetheart deals have come to light and I cannot really say whether those plea bargains were justified or not because the police reports are not readily available,” Graves said.
  • To actively seek to provide the office with full-time assistant district attorneys, while putting an end to the practice where almost all assistant district attorneys work part time while receiving full time pay. “The lure to quickly get through with the basic necessities in a position where you are paid the same no matter how much you work in order to get to a private office where the more you work, the more you are paid is extremely hard to ignore,” Graves pointed out.
  • To prosecute criminals, not hire them. “Currently, the chief investigator for the DA’s office is a convicted criminal and the good friend of a confessed murderer. I will not have that type of person wearing a badge and toting a gun in the name of and under the authority of the District Attorney’s office,” he said.
  • To be responsible to and responsive to people who have become victims of crime. “Henry Brown prominently placed at the top of his letterhead, ‘Victims have rights, too.’ I will return to that no only on my letterhead, but more importantly in the manner in which I will serve the people of these two parishes.”