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Sean Green

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

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BENTON – Funeral services for Master Terric V. Glover will be held at Macedonia Baptist Church, 308 2nd Street, Benton, La at 11:00 AM on Saturday, May 23, 2015. Terric will lie in state at Memoriaux de’ AGAPE Funeral Home on Friday from 11:00 AM until 3:00 PM and the Family Hour will be from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM at Macedonia Baptist Church in Benton.

He was preceded in death by his father – Vernon B. Jenkins; sister – Lawanda Blake; and grandmother – Johnnie Mae Glover.

He leaves to cherish his loving memories, his mother – Tiwanna Glover Dunn, stepfather – Brett Dunn; his fiancee’ – Krystal Lopez; one son – Kylan Timothy Glover; five sisters – Tiwan Glover Cruz, Shenika Williams, LaKeisha Blake, Shemika Blake, and LaTasha Rogers; five brothers – Vernon Blake, Kevin Blake, Anthony Blake, Jeffery Blake and Antoine Rogers; grandparents – Grady T. Jenkins, Grace Jenkins, Joseph Glover, Jr. and Cheryl Wilson; and a host of aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends.

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BOSSIER CITY – Joe Boyd, 79, passed away on May 11, 2015. He was born in Smackover, AR on August 8, 1935 to Perry and Corrie Boyd.Joe loved fishing and deer hunting. He was a member of the River Rouge Hunting Club for a number of years.He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother Richard Boyd. Joe was survived by his wife Martha Jo Boyd, sons Robert Boyd of Toms River, NJ, Stephens Boyd and Dan Boyd, both of Brick Town, NJ, seven grandchildren, three great grandchildren, sisters Donna Holder of Sherman, TX, Jane Collins of Bossier City, LA and Kathy Carrington of Dallas, TX, brother Michael Boyd of Magnolia, AR as well as numerous nieces and nephews.Memorial services will be held at a later date. Condolences may be left with the family at www.hillcrestmemorialfh.com.

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After an intense round of interviews, writing exercises and a review of portfolios, a panel of judges has made their picks for elementary, middle and high school Students of the Year.

 Representing the best of Bossier Parish is Layla Clayton, a fifth grader at W.T. Lewis; Makenzie Chaffin, an eighth grader at Benton Middle School; and Abhishek Shah, a senior at Airline High School. Bossier Schools Superintendent D.C. Machen surprised each winner at their school earlier this year to personally congratulate them.

Each winner was also given an iTunes gift card to go with tablets they received from sponsor Citizens National Bank.

Layla Clayton said it was an honor just to be nominated to represent her school.

“I was competing against some great students, including my best friend,” Clayton said. “It’s an honor just to be compared to them.”

As student of the year, Clayton said she strives to be a role model to others, working hard in class and being a positive person. Basically, she wants to have all of the qualities that other students would want to look up to.

Clayton is a member of the FCA, 4H, cheerleading squad, AIM, soccer, basketball and robotics, which is her “favorite club ever.”

“[Robotics] gives me a chance to use my knowledge in a way that I enjoy,” she said.

Clayton also enjoys spending time with her family, roller skating, riding her bicycle and playing basketball with her friends. As she prepares to be a sixth grader at Cope Middle School, Clayton encouraged her classmates to keep moving forward and be happy, no matter what happens.

“Even if I didn’t win [student of the year], I’d still be happy,” she said. “The important thing is to be happy for your friends.”

Clayton also thanked her principal, Lisa Burns, for being “an amazing role model” and someone she has “always looked up to.”

“She really helped me through this process,” Clayton said. “Without her, none of this would have been possible.”

Just up the road from W.T. Lewis is another shining star at Benton Middle School. Makenzie Chaffin has been through this process before in elementary school.

Even though she didn’t win as a fifth grader, Chaffin said it motivated her to become more involved in school and in the community.

“That was really eye opening. I was really quiet in elementary school and this really brought me out of my shell,” she said.

She chose a series of pay it forward initiatives that would benefit local and national organizations. One of the things she started was sewing pillow cases for the children at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital and she created a Facebook page (Cases from Makenzie) to share the news.

“They may never see me, personally, but they have received a pillow case from someone and that feels really good,” she said.

Chaffin encouraged others to find what they are passionate about and to pay it forward, too.

As she looks ahead to her future, Chaffin said she is excited about high school. She already has plans in mind to take advanced placement and college credit courses.

She also hopes to one day play softball in college and would like to have a career in the medical field, involving cancer research in particular.

Her advice to others is to not let shyness overtake the best years of your life.

“Don’t worry about what other people think of you,” she said. “Be yourself and everyone will love you. Get involved in your community and find what you’re passionate about.”

Being named student of the year was the cherry on top of the sundae for Airline senior Abhishek Shah. Simply known as Abhi to his friends and teachers, Shah said the accolade could have gone to any senior at his school.

“There’s no difference between me and them than a label,” he said. “We’re all really close friends and that’s something unique about this class. Some schools are competitive, but this school wants you to be a successful person.”

Shah said his final year of high school has been his most transformative year. It all started last summer when he attended the Louisiana Youth Seminar.

From there, Shah said everything he has accomplished has been a product of what he learned there. He spent a week in Washington D.C. as one of 104 youth senate delegates, which he called the “best and brightest youth in the country.”

He also met the U.S. President Barack Obama, had a one-on-one chat with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal at the state capital in Baton Rouge and has mingled with State Senators, Supreme Court Justices and members of the Department of Homeland Security.

“I never thought my senior year would go this way,” Shah said. “It really has exceeded all expectations.”

Despite the highs, there were also lows. Shah had his heart set on attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), but was not accepted. Though it was disheartening, he has kept a positive attitude, saying “when one door closes, another will open.”

Shah said he would love to be an entrepreneur and start his own business.

“The best revenge is massive success,” Shah said. “Never settle, and prove the ones who doubt you wrong.”

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Plans to close the Jimmie Davis Bridge have been delayed.

The south Bossier bridge was expected to close at the beginning of the year in preparation for maintenance projects to begin this spring. However, Louisiana Department of Transportation now says it won’t close until later this summer.

The bridge is set to close for a year, but the contractor recently requested a 90-day extension for the assembly period, which means work that requires closure won’t start before August. The project will include re-decking, adding lights, and painting the bridge purple.

In the meantime, DOTD has released the results of a conducted feasibility study, which outline several options for increasing traffic flow across the Red River. Proposals include building a completely new 4-lane structure and removing the original bridge and leaving the existing bridge and adding a second structure.

With each proposal, though, come several alternatives to decide on based upon access points and traffic signal locations. One option is to remove the traffic signal at CenturyLink Center Drive and construct a new service road to access the bridge. Another alternative is to create a three-lane extension of Reeves Marine Drive to accommodate future development.

The existing structure is almost 50 years old and has nearly 30,000 cars using it daily.

DOTD is seeking public comment on future plans for the bridge. Official comment can be made by mail, email, or telephone. Deadline for submitted comments is Monday, May 25. Comments must include name and address.

Mail comments to Red River Bridge at Jimmie Davis Highway EA, P.O. Box 56845, New Orleans, LA 70156.

Comments via phone can be made at 1-877-280-8774. E-mail comments can be submitted to comments@redriverbridgeea.com.

A copy of the Environmental Assessment is available for review at the following places:

Bossier City Hall

620 Benton Road

Bossier City, LA 71171

Shreveport City Hall

505 Travis St.

Shreveport, LA 71101

Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments

625 Texas Street, Suite 200

Shreveport, Louisiana 71101

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In May 2005, Bossier City invested $36 million into a forward-thinking attraction aimed at improving quality of life in northwest Louisiana and luring more tourists to showcase what Shreveport-Bossier has to offer. That investment was the Louisiana Boardwalk. Various stores, restaurants, attractions and even property owners have come and gone, but the all-in-one retail-dining-entertainment center on the edge of the Red River has had a staying power that pays dividends to local entities and boosts our area’s overall image.

“Not only has it been a commercial success, but it’s been a success for our city in terms of sales tax revenue that is very important for a our General Fund [Ed.’s note: which averages $5.7 million, according to Bossier City Information Officer Mark Natale],” said Bossier City Mayor Lorenz “Lo” Walker.

“Recent research showed that in 2012 and 2013 it was the number one activity for visitors who aren’t coming for gaming, and even those who came for gaming, half still went to the Boardwalk,” said Stacy Brown, president of the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau.

Devised by local developer John Good, the city signed on to the $190 million project in 2000 when Walker, Chief Administrative Officer for the city at the time, and then Mayor George Dement supported it despite a cautious city council. Walker said they changed their tune after flying out to California to see a similar operation that was the complete model for the planned development in Bossier. The second hurdle was help from the Red River Waterway Commission in the form of $5 million that would allow the banks to be developed for the open-air shopping center. But after the city utilized taxpayer money for a parking garage and necessary infrastructure upgrades and the center was finished, Walker said it was “everything we hoped it would be.”

Pam Glorioso, Bossier City project coordinator, remembered the grand opening and the rush as hundreds of people worked up to the minute to make the deadline to cut the ribbon.

“I remember watching the faces and the reactions of people as they entered the public plaza area near the water feature, they were shocked with the beauty of the project. Everyone from the developers to the city officials was smiling from ear to ear with the opening of the project,” Glorioso shared. “The next day was the official Grand Opening to the public and this event proved to be the highlight of the project.  Hundreds of people were in attendance and better yet, hundreds of people were there to shop! I recall looking down from the fourth-floor balcony with Kyle Rodriguez, the marketing director for the project, and watching the people come and especially watching the number of shopping bags that were leaving. This was our sign that the Boardwalk was going to be a success and would become an vital asset to Bossier City and the community as the new lifestyle center and community meeting place.”

Brown, who began her career with the Convention and Tourist Bureau in 1994, has a unique perspective of watching the market grow and develop more and more, adding that everything in the tourist industry tends to “build upon one another.” She said at the time of its conception, there was no doubt in her mind that the Boardwalk would be a hit.

“As someone who travels to conferences out of town, I often go shopping. And with that experience, I can tell you having the Boardwalk so close to other hotels and the convention center is a key to its success. For people who are staying near downtown or other attractions, it’s very easy to shop and dine,” Brown said.

Brown said the Boardwalk is a “tremendous addition” for visitors, the value being the shopping destination becomes just that — a true destination.

“The importance to the gaming can be really seen in other markets. Tunica has seen decline, Indian casinos in Oklahoma have a limit on length of stay of the visitor. By having the gaming and strong non-gaming component, we have the best of both worlds. It gives them another reason to come back to our market,” said Brown.

The center has gone through several changes in its 10 years. Developer and initial operators the Good Company sold the Boardwalk, which eventually came under hard times when O&S Holdings defaulted on a $128 million mortgage and lenders took control of the property because no bidders came forward at a foreclosure auction in 2011 when it was under Bayer Properties’ management. J. E. Robert Co. then bought the property for $80 million at a Bossier Sheriff’s sale. The Boardwalk was eventually sold to New York firm Garrison Investment Group in 2013. The owners then rebranded the open air shopping center as Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets with a new focus as an outlet center that still retained chain restaurants like Buffalo Wild Wings and entertainment draws such as the Regal Cinema 13 movie theatre.

“It’s had some growing pains like any shopping center has, but now the Outlets are transitioning the stores to fit their model. They’re slowly doing that and I think it’s a complete success,” said Walker.

Request for comment about the current viability and future of Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets from current management was not returned in time for BIZ. Magazine’s deadline. But the property’s major anchor tenant since the Boardwalk’s inception, the Bass Pro Shop, said they have seen solid sales since 2005 and don’t see it slowing down.

“We’ve thoroughly enjoyed this market, it’s a great market for us and a great fit for the outdoor enthusiast customer base here,” said Bass Pro Shop General Manager Don Levis. “We see nothing but promise in the future. We’ve been encouraged to hear about new businesses opening, that’s great for the Boardwalk and what’s great for the Boardwalk is great for us.”

It’s a sentiment that is shared by local officials. Brown noted the Boardwalk’s growth and evolution with the success of the Courtyard Hotel at the Boardwalk, and their latest neighbor —Margaritaville Resort and Casino — seeing a boost from its close proximity to the shopping mecca.

“Visitors want to do more than one thing, so if you make it easier to get around they will go,” Brown noted.

“It has done all sorts of things that lends itself to being a permanent fixture and complements things we’re hoping to do to upgrade Old Bossier. I look forward to it being here for quite a while, yet,” said Walker.

This story was originally published in the May edition of BIZ. Magazine

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Photo courtesy of Olivia Lott Photography

Photo courtesy of Olivia Lott Photography

Sainte Terre in Benton, LA, was the setting for the Wedding Ceremony to join Miss Sierra Lynn Smith and Mr. Joshua Allen McRae on May 2, 2015.  Pastor Jeff Warren was the officiant of the six-thirty event.  Music was provided by the bride’s Uncle, Wayne Armer.  Scripture readings were by the Bride’s Godmother, Sharon Mahler, and the Groom’s Father, John Richard McRae.  Gayla LaRue creatively designed all flower arrangements for the evening.  Musical entertainment was provided by DJ Love and Sweetie Cakes Bakery crafted the fabulous wedding cakes.

The bride is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Scott Smith of Benton.  She is the granddaughter of Mrs. Barbara Smith and the late Mr. Buddy Smith of Benton and Mr. and Mrs. Robert Wayne Armer of Gassville, AR.  The groom is the son of Mr. and Mrs. John Richard McRae of Shreveport.  He is the grandson of Mr. and Mrs. John McRae and Mr. and Mrs. Richard Lewis both of Shreveport.

Presented in marriage by her parents and escorted by her father, the bride chose an elegant gown designed by Allure Bridals.  The fit-to-flare silhouette featured a keyhole cut out on the back surrounded by Swarovski crystals.  To complete her look, she wore a cathedral length veil and handmade baby blue heels covered in antique lace with pearl and rhinestone accents.

Adriann Pollitt of Oceanside, CA, served as Matron of Honor and Roslin Smith of Shreveport served as Maid of Honor.  Bridesmaids included: Elizabeth Cockerham, Holly Johnston, and Bobbie McGuire.  Honorary Bridesmaids included the Bride’s cousins: Devin Armer, Kaylee Winders, Karis Winders, Katelyn Winders, and Karson Winders.  Jacob McRae, the Groom’s brother, served as Best Man.  Groomsmen included: Ryan Shewmake, Dustin McBride, Spencer and Sidney Smith, brothers of the bride.  Sawyer Smith, brother of the bride, attended as ring bearer.  Sierra was honored to have her grandmothers, Janet Armer and Barbara Smith, serve as flower girls.

Sierra is a graduate of Benton High School and Louisiana State University of Shreveport with a Bachelor’s Degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology.  She is currently attending graduate school at LSU Health in Shreveport where she is studying Occupational Therapy.  Josh is a graduate of Calvary Baptist Christian Academy and Bossier Parish Community College with an Associates Degree in Applied Science.  He is currently a Shreveport Firefighter.

Following a honeymoon in St. Lucia, the couple will make their home in Shreveport.

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Grown and used in cuisines around the world, basil is also indispensable to Louisiana cooks. Besides having extraordinary taste, basil is attractive and really easy to grow.

Not only is basil a great addition to the herb garden, but the numerous shapes, sizes, leaf colors and attractive flowers make basil an excellent addition to almost any garden situation. Tuck basil plants into unused garden corners, display them among vegetables, edge a flower garden with dwarf types, or plant the more ornamental varieties right among the flowering plants in beds or containers.

Most culinary types of basil are varieties of the species Ocimum basilicum. The smooth-leafed types that grow 2 to 3 feet tall are the best known for culinary use. But there are also flavorful crinkle-leafed and ruffle-leafed varieties, all of which make superb pesto and double as outstanding ornamental additions to the landscape.

Basil thrives during our hot, humid summers and asks for nothing more in the garden than full to part sun, well-drained soil and ample water. It grows quickly from seed, which may be planted now through July. Transplants, readily available at local nurseries, may be planted into the garden now through August.

Basil plants do not tolerate cold well, so it should not be planted into the garden before April. Basil is also quick to languish when chilly weather arrives in November and December.

When you purchase basil transplants from the nursery, notice that the growers often plant a number of seeds in each pot. This produces a larger-looking product ready for sale faster. Unfortunately, 10 or 12 plants crammed together will not grow well in the long run when planted into the garden. It is best either to separate the plants or pinch off all but the strongest one or two plants in the pot prior to planting.

If you decide to separate them, handle them gently and pot them individually in small pots with potting soil. Keep them in the shade for a few days to get over the shock. Gradually move them into full sun, and in about two weeks after dividing they should be recovered enough to go into the garden. This can provide you with a number of plants from one purchase.

Allow newly planted basil plants to grow for a while before you start to harvest. For standard-size varieties, you can generally start to lightly harvest when the plants reach about 10 to 12 inches tall.

Individual basil leaves may be harvested for use, but more typically the plant is pinched or cut back. Cut or pinch basil just above a pair of leaves, removing no more than a third to a quarter of the plant at one time. This leaves plenty of foliage to keep the plant healthy and productive. When harvested regularly, basil is bushier and more attractive in the garden.

Harvesting and using fresh basil for seasoning is wonderful because the full, rich flavors are at their peak when used fresh. When basil blooms, the young flower spikes can be chopped and used just like the leaves, and they are excellent used for garnishes.

Often, basil produces faster than you can use it. When that happens, it’s important to know how to preserve the extra. Besides, because basil cannot be grown here in winter, it is good to save some of your summer production for use then. The most common methods of preserving basil are drying and freezing.

Air dry individual leaves or bundles of stems indoors at room temperature until the leaves are crispy. Crumble them and store in an airtight container. To freeze basil, first chop it to the desired fineness and then place it in a plastic freezer bag spread out in a layer about one-half inch thick.

You can choose from a wide variety of basil varieties. Excellent varieties best for typical culinary use include Sweet, Green Ruffles, Mammoth, Large Leaf Italian, Sweet Genovese and Lettuce Leaf.

Dwarf varieties grow 6 to 12 inches tall and produce small leaves with excellent flavor on ball-shaped or mounding plants that are excellent for small spaces, containers, window boxes and edging. Available varieties include Spicy Globe, Green Bouquet, Fine Green, Basilico Greco, Dwarf Bush, Minette and Minimum.

Purple-leaf forms are attractive in the garden as well as chopped fresh into salads. When used to make flavored vinegar, purple basil imparts a beautiful pink tint to the vinegar. Look for varieties such as Purple Ruffles, Red Rubin, Osmin Purple and Dark Opal.

Finally, a large number of basils are grown for their more intense basil flavor or unique flavors unlike typical basil. Many are ornamental. Some interesting choices are the 2002 All-America Selections winner Magic Michael, Siam Queen, Sweet Dani (lemon), Cinnamon, Lemon, Lime, Licorice, Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum) and camphor or African basil (O. kilimandscharicum).

Dan Gill is a horticulturist with the LSU AgCenter. He can be reached at DGill@agcenter.lsu.edu

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The August 9, 1945 issue of The Bossier Banner called attention to the fact that a scarcity of fats and oils was a big problem for the United States’ efforts in World War II.

“One of the most significant statements made by a government official regarding shortages and food difficulties comes from Clinton P. Anderson, Secretary of Agriculture.  Mr. Anderson underscores the fats and oils shortage in an appeal to women and has authorized the American Fat Salvage Committee to release his message.”

“In asking women’s help in the fats and oils shortage, the Secretary of Agriculture sees increased household fat salvage as [an] aid to meeting needs.  Mr. Anderson says ’The scarcity of fats and oils is one of the most serious problems confronting our nation.  But it is one shortage which the women of America can help to meet.’

’There is little hope of major improvement in the domestic supply of fats and oils in the near future, nor can we expect a rapid increase of imported oils from the Pacific.’ “

“‘Farmers have responded to the call to produce more animal and vegetable fats and oils.  But we are still unable to meet war-time demands.’ “

“‘During the war years we have changed from an importing to an exporting nation on fats and oils.  Our domestic stocks are at a low ebb and our war, industrial and relief needs are at a peak.’ “

“‘During 1945 we need 250,000,000 pounds of used household fats to help fill our existing deficit.  If American housewives don’t meet this goal, we will have to further curtail the allotments for civilian, industrial and military uses.’ “

“‘This is an important job for women! Homemakers all over the land—in cities, towns and villages and on farms—should save and turn in every available drop of used kitchen fat.  It means cash and extra red ration points.’ “

“‘But, above all, it’s a real War Service women can perform for themselves and for their country.’”

The Atlantic Monthly for April18, 2014 published an article titled “Turning Bacon into Bombs.”    The article explained the use of household fats in World War II.

“The American Fat Salvage Committee was created to urge housewives to save all the excess fat rendered from cooking and donate it to the army to produce explosives. As explained to Minnie Mouse and Pluto in one wartime video, fats are used to make glycerin, and glycerin is used to make things blow up.”

“One pound of fat supposedly contained enough glycerin to make about a pound of explosives. Patriotism aside, many American housewives were not enticed. Only about half donated their excess cooking fats. Saturated fats were of little health concern at the time and cooking grease was hard to come by, especially once rations were imposed. But moreover, many distrusted government-dictated food programs which also threatened what became a defining feature of the American way of life: being well-fed.”

The Bossier Parish Library Historical Center collections offer an abundance of photographs, documents and objects related to World War II so visit the Center to learn more.

Ann Middleton is Director of the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center. She can be reached at (318) 746-7717 or by e-mail at amiddlet@state.lib.la.us

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Comic book characters like Superman, Batman, and the Avengers, have made a huge comeback thanks to the DC and Marvel Comic movies.  Maybe some of you remember the ten cent Batman comic books from way back when.  I sure do.  My uncle had stacks of them.  Well, as the saying goes, “Everything old is new again” and the library is staying current by offering a new collection of digital comics and eBooks. 

As of Wednesday, May 13, Hoopla added Comics and eBooks to their extensive collection of movies, music, audiobooks, and television selections.  You will find comics such as “GIJOE” and “Transformers” as well as newer titles like “Strawberry Shortcake” and “The Penguins of Madagascar.” The eBooks cover a wide range of topics in fiction and nonfiction for all ages.  Click on Browse and find the categories you are interested in. 

For current Hoopla users, you will need to update your app in order to access the new Comics and eBooks.  If you have not yet tried Hoopla, just go to the App Store and download it for free.  Hoopla Digital added Action View to the format which is “built-in technology for reading Comics.  It enables full-page and panel-by-panel views for immersive reading.”

Tweet to @bossierlibrary to follow the latest comments on what is happening on Hoopla like, “Who’s seeing the #Avengers in theaters this weekend? Borrow the soundtrack on hoopla!” 

Free digital movies, music, audiobooks, television and now comics and eBooks are as close as your iPhone, iPad, or other digital device 24 hours a day with you library card.

Our Library! Gateway to the Past, Bridge to the Future.       

Make a note:

  • All BPL will be closed for Memorial Day, Monday, May 25.
  • Correction: Haughton Library’s Toddler Story Time is on Tuesdays at 10a.m. for ages 0-3. 

Benton Library  965-2751

  • Friday, May 29 at 5p.m. History and Outreach Specialist Pam Carlisle will present “Practical Preservation: Preserve Your Family’s History for Your Descendants.”  Learn how to safeguard your photographs, albums, scrapbooks, documents and other media.

New Books

Fiction

“White Plague” by James Abel

“To Win Her Favor” by Tamera Alexander

“First Frost” by Sarah Addison Allen

“If I Fall, I Die” by Michael Christie

“Hausfrau” by Jill Alexander Essbaum

“The Thunder of Giants” by Joel Fishbane

“Grantville Gazette VII: Sequels to 1632” by Eric Flint

“Threshold” by G. M. Ford

“The People In the Photo” by Helene Gestern

“Deception on Sable Hill” by Shelley Gray

Nonfiction

“Eat, Play, Sleep: The Essential Guide to Your Baby’s First Three Months” by Luiza DeSouza

“The Good Sleeper” by Janet Kennedy

“Baby Play for Every Day” by Susannah Steel

“QuickBooks 2015: The Best Guide for Small Business” by Bobbi Sandberg

“Love the Home You Have” by Melissa Michaels

“17 Carnations” by Andrew Morton

“Every Day I Fight” by Stuart Scott

“You Can’t Make This Up” by Al Michaels

“Captivology” by Ben Parr

“Supersurvivors” by David Feldman

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Next week will begin the legislative fight over public education. An interesting David and Goliath battle between the pro-public education parent and teacher groups against Louisiana’s big businesses that are largely right wing establishment Republicans with deep and wide business “non-profits” like LABI (Louisiana Association of Business and Industry), CABL (Citizens for a Better Louisiana), and Chambers of Commerce. Few would have ever imagined such odd sparring partners.

Common Core has taken varied journeys in each state in the Union. 45 states originally signed onto the federally coerced standards. Many states, like Louisiana, signed on before the standards were completed, sight unseen. And many, like Louisiana, didn’t use the Administrative Procedures Act to democratically process the standards. Other states, like Texas, didn’t sign on to the standards, but have adopted very similar standards and are seeing similar parent and teacher uprisings against this modern education reform.

While there are many egregious goals, peeling back the layers of propaganda reveals that a major target of the initiative is to fail the public school system and use public tax dollars to fund privately run charter schools. Imagine the money that can be made if the entire public education system can be turned into private entities. Fail the schools with tests that can’t be passed. Silence the teachers by tying their jobs to the failing tests. And take all the student data to the bank to sell it to the highest bidder. The result is an all-in-one modern day money laundering scheme via the education system.

Various techniques are being used to forward this effort. One that unfolded this week was the movement of the “Paycheck Protection Act.” This bill will stop the ability of teachers, firefighters, and police to have their union dues automatically withdrawn from their paychecks. One must ask why would businesses want to stop public employees from having a voice? Lane Grigsby, LABI Education Council Chairperson, told us himself through a video that was leaked on May 6th. He said that LABI’s #1 legislative goal was to silence teachers, “I can’t talk for the grin on my face,” he said. “Guys, this is where you grab the aorta and you shut it off.” Heartless manipulation of the political system for the sake of making money at its finest.

So what happens when the upper class decides that public education is better served by private companies collecting tax dollars for profit? This results in the 21st Century Segregation. The result of the business model in education is charters selectively choosing who can attend schools and therefor the lower-performing, higher-needs children get pushed further and further down the food chain. This along with “standardizing” every child through Common Core and its failed testing system is creating a flight from the public education system. Failing our public schools by draining them of those that have the money to go elsewhere. Doesn’t seem like educational equity, but a genius business strategy!

The Perfect Storm is raging! And if our state and country does not acknowledge the big picture quickly, the community and parents will be erased from the educational equation all together because invisible boards run charters. The citizens of Louisiana should look deeply into the finer messages of Common Core and start communicating with legislators to vote FOR public education. The citizens of Louisiana do not have the monetary force of LABI, CABL, etal., but they do have votes. With every legislative seat up for vote including governor this Fall, voices can be loud and forceful. The time to stand up for the children of Louisiana is now!

Caryn Jenkins

Stonewall, LA