Home Authors Posts by Amanda Simmons

Amanda Simmons


0 9

NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University will recognize the late Officer Thomas LaValley, a 2007 graduate of the university, with a posthumous presentation and the announcement of a scholarship established in his name.

SPD Officer Thomas LaValley

SPD Officer Thomas LaValley

University officials will make the presentation at 5:50 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3 in the north end zone of Turpin Stadium as part of pregame ceremonies planned in conjunction with the university’s first home football game of the season.

Law enforcement agencies, law enforcement associations and former colleagues of LaValley from throughout northwest Louisiana made contributions to establish the Officer Thomas LaValley Memorial Scholarship.

LaValley earned a degree in biology with a minor at journalism at Northwestern State and worked as a videographer in Shreveport.  He began working as an officer in 2011 after graduating at the top of his class from the Shreveport Police Academy.  LaValley, 29, was killed Aug. 5 while responding to a disturbance at a Shreveport residence.

0 7

Lt. Col. Oliver North will be the guest of honor at a special fundraiser for Caddo-Bossier Crime Stoppers.

The event will be Friday, Sept. 11, at Sam’s Town Casino and Hotel Ballroom. Seating is limited.

Lt. Col. Oliver North

Lt. Col. Oliver North

Lt. Col. Oliver North is well known to Americans familiar with U.S. military activities and beyond.  He is a Texas native who graduated from the United States Naval Academy and served 22 years as a U.S. Marine. For his service in combat, he was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star for valor and two Purple Hearts for wounds in action.  Among his prestigious honors, Lt. Col. North is a combat-decorated U.S. Marine, best-selling author, military correspondent and the host of War Stories for FOX News, and – the new host of the award-winning original series Saving Private K-9 on Sportsman Channel.

Crime Stoppers is a 501c3, non-profit organization dedicated to facilitating the anonymous reporting of information regarding criminal activity or wanted fugitives to law enforcement.

Tickets are $150 per person for dinner and the event. Reserved seating tickets can be made online at www.AnEveningWith.info.  There are also several levels of table sponsorships available.

Several types of table sponsorship is available and includes reserved seating, dinner, VIP meet and greet, a photo opportunity and autographed copies of Lt. Col. North’s new book, American Heroes.  Sponsorship packages can be purchased by calling Jim Taliaferro at (318) 617-9805 or Beau Miquez (318) 936-0298.

0 7

Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington this week honored Sheriff’s Office management staff with plaques thanking them for their “service to the residents of Bossier Parish during the Red River Flood of 2015.”SheriffLogo
Whittington praised the staff for “getting things done without hesitation, and, in many cases, without having to be asked. You were right there with the right stuff. I’m very proud of our team and the way it performed. Well done.”

Honored were Assistant Chief Tony Staton, Maj. Charles Gray, Maj. Kesha Harris, Capt. Corky Bridges, Capt. Doyle Dempsey, Capt. Donnie Keith and Lt. Dave Faulk.

0 9

Walmart will hire up to 95 associates to work at the new Walmart Neighborhood Market slated to open this fall in Bossier City. A temporary hiring center has opened at 1701 Old Minden Road, Suite 17G.
Applications will be accepted Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Interested applicants may also apply online at http://careers.walmart.com.

Walmart will offer a job to any eligible U.S. veteran honorably discharged from active duty since the Veterans Welcome Home Commitment launched on Memorial Day 2013.Interested veterans may find out more at http://walmartcareerswithamission.com.

According to store manager Eddie Horn the store will be hiring both full- and part-time associates. “As we prepare to open Bossier City’s second Neighborhood Market, we are looking for eager applicants to join our team,” said Horn.

Walmart provides a benefits program to eligible full- and part-time associates. For example, it provides a variety of affordable health and well-being benefits including health-care coverage with no lifetime maximum. Walmart also offers eligible associates matching 401(k) contributions of up to 6 percent of pay, discounts on general merchandise, an Associate Stock Purchase Program and company-paid life insurance. Additionally, eligible associates receive a quarterly incentive based on store performance.

The majority of new associates will begin work in October to help prepare the store for its grand opening.

0 11

Russell Hedges | BPT Sports Editor

The dress rehearsals are over. Friday night it counts.

The 2015 high school football season is about to begin in Bossier Parish and across Louisiana.haughton6

Two parish teams go head to head with Class 1A Plain Dealing traveling to Class 5A Haughton. In other matchups, Airline hosts Union Parish, Parkway visits Bastrop, Benton hosts Green Oaks and Bossier hosts Homer.

The players have been getting ready for Friday night since the end of last season.

There have been hours and hours of offseason workouts, 10 days of practice in the spring followed by a scrimmage, 7-on-7 games during the summer, a couple of weeks of practice leading up to the fall scrimmage and, of course, last week’s jamboree.

If the Bossier Lions Club Jamboree is any indication, then interest remains very high in high school football in the parish. Airline Stadium was almost filled to capacity. Student sections were out in full force.

Of course, football season isn’t just about the players and coaches. Marching bands,  dance lines and cheerleading squads have been preparing just as hard.

Pep squads, proud parents, grandparents and other relatives, students and just general fans add up to hundreds involved in the games and the activities that surround them.

That’s what makes high school football so special.

Coaches like saying they don’t want their players looking past the next game on the schedule. One of the familiar cliches is “we take ‘em one game at a time.”

That’s not a problem with the season opener.

“It’s your last year, your last first game,” said Airline senior wide receiver Cameron Howell, a first-team All-Parish selection last season. “It’s just something that you have to live in the moment — just have to do your best and leave it all out on the field.”

BPT photo by Jeff Thomas

BPT photo by Jeff Thomas

The Vikings have had a chance to face other teams in their scrimmage and the jamboree, but Friday night will be different.

“You work all these three weeks going against each other and you finally get to play somebody else, and then it’s you’re last year,” he said. “I don’t down how to explain it.”

This will also be Airline running back/receiver Darian Germany’s last season opener as a high school player. Germany has been on the varsity since his freshman year and a starter for three years.

He said he doesn’t really get nervous or have the jitters before games anymore. He’s just ready for the season to begin.

“‘I’m really confident in our team and what we’ve been doing over the summer, and I’m real happy where we are,” he said. “I just feel like we’ll get better and better each team we play.”

Plain Dealing first-year coach James Thurman has been involved in opening nights as both a player at Haughton and as a coach at several area schools.

He wants his players to soak up the atmosphere, especially the seniors. For most of them, this will be the final season of their playing careers.

“You never get another chance to play your last first game of the season,” Thurman said.  “So I tell these seniors, at Haughton for some of you that’s going to be your last first game. You really need to take it in and take it for what it is. It’s an opportunity to get to do something not a lot of people get to do or are not willing to do. It’s a lot of pride for your school, yourself and friends. It’s really something special.

When Plain Dealing played in the jamboree last Friday, Thurman found himself reminiscing about being in the locker room at Airline Stadium when he played at Haughton.plaindealing9

“It looked a lot different when I played, but I’ve been there,” he said. “You don’t lose that kind of thing, the sights and the things you see and remember. They always stay with you.

“You try to tell these kids these are memories you’re going to have the rest of your life and you need to kind of slow down and stop letting the world today kind of be in your mind all the time and focus on the things that are important like football, like school, like friendships, things like that. One day those things aren’t going to be there anymore.”

0 10

Bossier and Caddo Parish leaders are making an early push for a proposition on the November general election ballot.

Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker and Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler are in strong favor of the hotel occupancy tax and are working ahead to educate the public on the economic impact it would have on northwest Louisiana if passed this fall. Both, however, stressed that this is not a tax on the citizens of Bossier and Caddo, but a tax on visitors staying at local hotels, motels and campgrounds.CityLogos

The hotel-motel proposition could generate an economic impact of several million dollars. The current proposal would increase the hotel occupancy tax from the current 4.5 percent to 6 percent – which is levied and collected by the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourism Bureau. Mayor Tyler said that amounts to an approximate $1.10 addition per night, per room on a guests’ bill.

Even with the increase, Tyler said Shreveport-Bossier would still have “the lowest average daily hotel rate (approximately $74) of any major Louisiana city.”

The additional 1.5 percent collected would be divided evenly between the Ark-La-Tex Regional Air Service Alliance (RASA), the Independence Bowl Foundation and the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission. Tyler stressed that each of these groups have a profound impact on the community. “Think about it – when we bring in quality sports teams, they eat in our restaurants, live in our hotels, go shopping, visit our casinos. All of those are key factors in driving our regional economy,” she said. “We thank those who were in support of this before, but we are asking for you help once again.”

The “no” votes cast by Bossier Parish voters in November 2014 were enough to defeat the tax increase in the two-parish election. Both parishes must pass the proposition in order for it to pass.

Both Tyler and Walker hinted that lack of education on the proposition may have been a contributing factor to why it did not pass last year.

“The [citizens] will not be paying this tax. I will repeat that wherever I go,” Tyler said.

Walker agreed, adding that there was not enough information presented to the public in the 2014 election.

“This is good for our economy and I support it entirely,” Walker said. “We are going to be proactive this time.”

RASA will utilize the funds in their efforts to make air travel more convenient and competitive through the expansion of hub destinations. Officials say connecting flights to places like Chicago and Washington D.C. will have a great impact on Barksdale Air Force Base, which recently landed its first 4-Star General, as well as CSC near the Cyber Innovation Center in Bossier City.

In addition, the Independence Bowl will receive funding for the promotion of Division 1 football events in an effort to attract more top-tier teams with great fan followings, allowing Shreveport-Bossier to maintain its presence on a national level. The Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission will use funds to attract high-end, quality sporting events, stimulating job growth to the region.

Tyler, who was not in office during the 2014 vote, is holding onto a “we will” attitude going into the November election.

“If this community is to thrive and grow economically, both Caddo and Bossier must pass this proposition,” Tyler said. “We’re committed to getting this done. We are standing together because this is our community and we can help ourselves without spending a single penny with a simple ‘yes’ vote.”

0 11

When it comes to dealing with adjudicated properties, Bossier Parish Administrator Bill Altimus readily admits he would prefer someone else deal with the disposition of those parcels.

Adjudicated properties are those that have been seized when the owner fails to pay property taxes and then are not purchased when the Sheriff conducts a tax sale.

“By law, if no one buys the land at the tax sale, it’s adjudicated to the parish for the taxes owed. The Parish gets it whether wanted or not,” Altimus explained.

Although the parish isn’t soliciting this property, once possession has been established by adjudication to the police jury, the police jury then goes about the business of trying to keep the grass mowed and removing the dilapidated structures that may be on the property. The parish also must wade through the paperwork nightmare of tax properties.

“Many of these properties have been neglected because the previous owners never went through the court process when someone died in the chain of title.  By the time the last person quits paying taxes, several generations of people with interest in the property will have died.  Sometimes, who owns the property is a nightmare to try and figure out,” Altimus said.

“The only interest we have is for the unpaid taxes. We want to see the property be taken care of and be back on the taxable rolls again,” he added.

Concerns over the approximately 160 pieces of adjudicated property on the parish’s books, parcels ranging in size from slivers of land measured in feet to several acres, made Altimus listen closely when he heard a presentation on adjudicated properties from a Louisiana-based company.

“This company, CivicSource, put on a program at the state police jury convention and I found it very interesting. Then, about a month ago at the Organization of Parish Officials meeting, they made another presentation. It sounded very good because it’s a turnkey product,” Altimus said.

Altimus asked company officials to come to Benton and discuss the issue at length.

“They have come up with a way to clear all state laws. They do their due diligence, give a good clear title that a title insurance company will issue a policy on,” he explained. “The biggest benefit CivicSource offers is providing a merchantable, sellable title for the buyer and it’s a turnkey project done completely within their organization.”

Benefits to the police jury of outsourcing adjudicated property are numerous, Altimus said.  The last public auction took the staff several hundred hours to put together property that ultimately only received a quit claim deed.  With a quit claim deed, the ultimate purchaser can not easily go to any lenders to build a home or make investment into these properties, making them less attractive to potential buyers.

“It releases any of our personnel of having to deal with this. We do nothing but provide them a list of the properties on a flash drive…generate information,” he said. “At the end of the day, this service is provided at no cost to the police jury.”

Altimus learned the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office has been a client of CivicSource for two years. During that time, the office has seen a savings of about $36,000 per year.

“That’s the salary of an individual who had to do the things the company now handles,” Altimus said. “Until the tax sale is completed, they make the phone calls, files notices, do the research, handle post-sale efforts and send letters to tax sale buyers, property owners and do the deed preparation. Everything necessary to meet state laws.”

Outsourcing the adjudicated property “…makes sense. When we can eliminate the headache of dealing with tax properties and get the services they provide at no cost, we need to go ahead,” Altimus said.

0 11

By Allen J. Smith, Media Production Officer for the Bossier Sheriff’s Office

A Bossier Deputy who has fought a long battle with cancer was greeted by Sheriff Julian Whittington and a reception line of 80 cheering, applauding deputies, when he returned to work at the Bossier Maximum Security prison this morning.

Courtesy of Allen J. Smith, Media Production Officer for the Bossier Sheriff's Office.

Courtesy of Allen J. Smith, Media Production Officer for the Bossier Sheriff’s Office.

Sgt. Barrett Lovell, who works in the Corrections Division of the Bossier Sheriff’s Office, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia with MDS in October 2014 and received multiple chemotherapy treatments and blood transfusions. He also had a stem cell transplant. Today, he said, he’s “in complete remission. I have 100 percent donor marrow, and no traces of cancer are showing.”

Sheriff Whittington said, “We’re so proud of Barrett for being such a fighter, and we’re overjoyed to have him back. As you can see, the Sheriff’s Office family turned out in force this morning, to let Barrett know how we feel about him.”

Lovell said he was overwhelmed by the warm reception “in a good way. I really appreciate the support. It’s great to be back to work. I’m fitting right back into the groove.”

As Lovell walked along the reception line, shaking hands and receiving hugs and pats on the back, he held the hand of a little girl, a fellow cancer patient who had befriended him. Helen Forgey had heard at one point that Lovell was feeling very bad after a rough round of chemotherapy, and didn’t want to get out of bed. Helen told Lovell, via a cell phone video, “Never, ever give up. You’ve got to get out of that bed. Do it for those who love you and those who admire you.” The two have been friends ever since.

Lovell said that if he remains cancer free for another five years, he’ll be considered cured and released.


0 23

Special by Tom Pace, host “Talk of the Town” The Promise 90.7FM & Publisher www.ShreveTalk.com

TayaKylePhotoDressed smartly, and accompanied by her golden retriever therapy dog Norman, Taya Kyle, “American Sniper” Chris Kyle’s widow, drew standing ovations at both Sunday services at First Baptist Church Bossier, August 30th, 2015.

With Norman laying at her feet, Taya sat across a table from First Bossier pastor Brad Jurkovich for an informal dialogue about her memories of Chris, his deployments, his dreams, their plans, and then…her world came crashing down February 2nd, 2013 when she learned of his murder by a former Marine, Eddie Ray Routh.

Taya Kyle tells Talk of the Town radio host Tom Pace in an exclusive interview that Chris’ killer, Eddie Ray Routh “…did not have PTSD,” but had taken marijuana and other drugs that caused him to act irrationally.

Photo by Tom Pace, host “Talk of the Town” The Promise 90.7FM & Publisher www.ShreveTalk.com

Photo by Tom Pace, host “Talk of the Town” The Promise 90.7FM & Publisher www.ShreveTalk.com

Now, some two and a half years after Chris’ death. Taya has written her own book, “American Wife: A Memoir of Love, Service, Faith and Renewal” dedicated especially to the wives of First Responders and members of the military.

An estimated combined crowd of 5,000 attended both services at First Baptist Bossier, followed at noon by a free lunch for all attending the event, as well as a book signing by Taya Kyle. The line snaked around the foyer of the church, many waiting patiently up to an hour, to get their picture made with this 40 year-old devout Christian mother of two, widowed on the Texas soil Chris loved.

Her common theme throughout her inspirational talk: “God loves you, and He will take care of you, no matter what.”

0 26

NATCHITOCHES – A Bachelor of Applied Science in Resource Management program at Northwestern State University has been approved by the Louisiana Board of Regents.
NSU Official SEAL
The 60-hour program will be offered online starting with the fall B-term on Monday, Oct. 19, and is designed for those with an associate degree or equivalent hours and some workforce experience. Students can choose one of three concentration areas: human resource management, public safety management and industrial technology/manufacturing management.

“This degree program is designed for the working adult who needs to obtain a bachelor’s degree to advance in his or her career,” said Dr. Lisa Abney, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Northwestern State has worked closely with the Louisiana Community and Technical College System and the Louisiana Department of Economic Development to design a program that meets the needs of students and business and industry.”

Courses will be offered in eight and 16-week formats to better accommodate students. Abney said the curriculum is designed to provide a flexible upper level course pattern to ensure that students are allowed to obtain the coursework necessary for the management of resources in their respective occupations.

The Bachelor of Applied Science in Resource Management will be the only program of its kind in the state.

“The resource management program provides coursework in the management of people, resources and processes. This degree will provide working individuals with the opportunity for career advancement in their field of work without requiring them to interrupt their job,” said Abney. “It will also provide an avenue to increase the educational attainment of the state’s adult population. We feel this will be a successful program that will have a positive impact on the state.”

The Bachelor of Applied Science in Resource Management is an interdisciplinary program that will be within the College of Arts and Sciences. The university will develop and implement the program using existing resources.

For more information on the Bachelor of Applied Science in Resource Management, contact Steve Hicks at (318) 357-6980 or hickss@nsula.edu.