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Sean Green

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

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On Thursday after less than two hours of deliberation, a 12-person jury found 51-year-old, Marion D. Jones, guilty of aggravated rape for the 2007 rape of an 11-year-old female juvenile.

A sexual assault kit taken from the victim was sent to the North Louisiana Crime Lab where a DNA match was made to Marion Jones. Detective Kelly Cubley formerly of the Bossier City Police Department handled the investigation and arrested Mr. Jones.

A conviction for aggravated rape carries a mandatory life sentence without the benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. First Assistant Lane Pittard prosecuted the case for the State and Judge John Robinson presided over the trial. Judge Robinson is expected to impose the life sentence on December 30.

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The Shreveport Vet Center will host an event to appreciate Veterans and recognize 30 years of service Thursday November 6, 2014 at 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Vet Center located at 2800 Youree Drive, Shreveport.

The facility will be open and refreshment will be available. Individual, group, and family readjustment counseling to assist active duty service members in making a successful transition from combat, to garrison, or civilian life.

We welcome home Veterans with honor by providing quality readjustment counseling in a caring manner. Vet Centers understand and appreciate Veterans’ war experiences while assisting them and their family members with adjusting to a post-deployment environment. Services provided include: 

  • Same day counseling.
  • A family friendly environment.
  • Early intervention –to remove barriers to seeking assistance.
  • Services for family members (for military/deployment related issues).
  • Services for active duty service members who served in combat.
  • Military sexual trauma counseling for service members of both genders.

Active duty service members or Veterans needing more information should contact vhashrpublicaffairs@va.gov.

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Thirty Junior Achievement volunteers from Bossier City and Shreveport will be teaching “JA in a Day” lessons to Kindergarten through fifth grade students at Meadowview Elementary School, on Thursday, October 23 from 8 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.

From deciphering the difference between a need and a want in first grade to teaching fifth graders the effect globalization has on their future career opportunities, Junior Achievement strives to prepare students to succeed in a global economy. JA programs empower students to make a connection between what they are learning in school and how it can be applied in the real world – enhancing the relevance of their classroom learning and increasing their understanding of the value of staying in school.

Junior Achievement will continue celebrating its 50th year by teaching our 200,000th JA student tomorrow at Meadowview Elementary School in Bossier. JA began teaching lessons in financial literacy, work-readiness and entrepreneurship in 1964.

“JA started in North Louisiana with the JA Company Program where students decided on a product to make and sell. They then worked with a JA Volunteer to come up with a business plan, expedite that plan and at the end of the school year, closed the company with, hopefully, a profit” said JA President, Nita Cook.

Many people remember fondly when students took JA after school by participating in JA Company Program. Fast forward, 50 years, Junior Achievement of North Louisiana now offers 13 programs, JA Company Program is digital and the majority of programs are volunteer-led in the classroom.

JA’s mission and volunteer component has stayed true; JA trains business and community leaders, and servicemen and women to mentor students to understand the connection between staying in school and achieving their dreams. JA provides all the curriculum and hands-on activities for students and present lessons in a way that connects classroom learning to their lives.

“I recently met Cecil Marr at an AFCEA luncheon when afterwards; he approached me with a big smile. Cecil proceeded to tell me about his 1964 JA experience at Woodlawn High School. He told of coming up with the product, a red flashing light you put on top of your car in case you were stranded. At the time, this was cutting edge and many were sold door to door by the members of their JA Company Program team,” Cecil laughed.

“‘We sold those lights and they were really cool.’ After returning to the office, Cecil called, ‘I’ll have to tell you the rest of the story,’ it was so funny, some of the kids took the lights out at night to a popular necking spot and pretended to be the police; I think we sold as many to the students as we did for emergency use”, Cecil laughed. “JA was a great experience, my first in sales, and it taught me a lot.”

Today, Cecil is owner of the C.F. Biggs Co., supports the local economy through employment opportunities and is still in sales. Cecil wants to connect back with Junior Achievement and I can see him as a future classroom volunteer.

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A Bossier City teen is using her senior project to make a difference in the lives of local children in foster care.

Kaylee Roblow-Law, 17, is working with the Volunteers for Youth Justice to collect donations for Geaux Bags, a local outreach project that provides children in foster care a basic bag of essentials to help them get through the first night in their new home. Each bag contains travel sized toiletries, pajamas or a change of clothes, new underwear or diapers and an age appropriate comfort item.

The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) states there are more than 4,000 children in foster care, each of whom need a safe, loving home. Some of those children are placed with foster families after leaving abusive and neglect situations, often arriving with nothing but the clothes on their back.

For this Parkway senior, it’s a sight she sees often. Kaylee’s family is a certified foster family, something her parents decided to do about six years ago.

“I’m doing this because I see a lot of kids come into our home with none of the basic necessities,” she said. “Geaux Bags are something that is desperately needed and in need of community support.”

Children in need of foster homes range in age from infants to teenagers. Geaux Bags are designed to supply each child with the items they specifically need.

“They often leave everything behind to go into a stranger’s home,” Kaylee explained. “It’s not their fault and it’s not their choice to be put into the situation.”

The Geaux Bag program is in need of new travel sized toiletries, new underwear/diapers, new pajamas for boys and girls, and age appropriate comfort items (toy, blanket, etc.).

Geaux Bags will be stored at DCFS parish offices and available to use when they deliver a child into foster parent’s care.

Kaylee said this senior project means more to her than just a grade at school.

“I know what foster kids go through,” she said. “Most people don’t realize they come in with nothing. They don’t see the little things that I see. It takes just one person to change the life of a child.”

Kaylee, however, doesn’t plan to end her efforts at the conclusion of her senior project. Her goal is to make foster care awareness an every day occurrence.

The greatest life lesson, Kaylee said, is this – “You might be temporary in their lives, they might be temporary in yours, but there is nothing temporary about the love or the lesson.”

The Geaux Bags program is a year-round service/mission project  and donations can be made at Moppet Shoppe, 4840 Line Ave, in Shreveport, and Learning Express Toys of Shreveport, 5733 Youree Dr.

For more information or to donate, contact coordinator K.C. Kilpatrick Stone at 318-550-8785.

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At the end of a recent practice, Bossier High’s 40 football players gathered around head coach Michael Concilio as they do after every practice.

Concilio went over the usual housekeeping stuff. He and his assistant coaches also called out a few players for some minor issues, including a couple who had to do some work after practice.

The atmosphere was generally light. There was a lot of laughter.

If you didn’t know it, you might think you were looking at a team that was undefeated instead of one that hasn’t won a game.

Make no mistake. It’s been a tough year for the Bearkats. Bossier fell to 0-7 with a 30-16 loss to BTW last Friday.

In fact, it’s been a tough two-year stretch at a school that won back-to-back District 1-3A titles in 2011 and 2012. Concilio will be the first to tell you that.

“I’m not going to lie, it’s tough,” he said “But I tell you what man, the work habits have not stopped. That’s not just the players. That’s the coaches, too. The whole program has not changed — any part of our working routine that we had in 2011, in 2012 or any time before that.

“I’m not trying to brag about our program, but we’ve stayed consistent with the work load. Same weekend time and preparation. The kids still come in on Saturday morning and still watch film. They did it all last year when we went 1-9. They still did it last Saturday.”

The Bearkats have had some injuries this season. They also have eight players going both ways. That makes it tough to compete against teams which only have one or two which is normally the case in Class 3A and higher.

With the run Bossier has had, things could have easily gone bad. Concilio said that hasn’t happened mainly because of the 10 seniors on the team.

They are Avery Jones (wingback/linebacker), Kelvin Brooks (split end/defensive back), Brandon Harris (running back/defensive back), Isaiah McKinsey (fullback/linebacker), Brandon Simpson (tight end/defensive line), Deon Venious (offensive and defensive lineman), Brandon Yonnes (offensive line/defensive end), Gabriel Green (defensive line/linebacker), Jessie Siordia (offensive line/linebacker) and Demarcus Craig (split end/defensive back).

“A lot of people may gauge their senior class on wins and losses,” Concilio said. “In the 15 years I’ve been coaching, this is one of the best senior groups as far as consistency. They never miss practice. I never have to get on to them hardly. It’s very small things. They stay together.

Like many of the seniors, Venious and Yonnes have been with the program since they walked on the campus as freshmen.

They admit the season has been tough, but that doesn’t mean that football is no longer fun.

“We’ve stuck it out and are holding strong,” Venious said. “I love the game. It’s always fun.”

Bossier has had a chance to win three games this season. They lost to Huntington 26-14 in Week 2 and Block 12-6 in Week 5. In the BTW game, the Bearkats were down only 16-8 midway through the third quarter when the game turned in the Lions’ favor.

But there have also been some blowouts where Bossier has been out of the games by halftime.

In those games, the players say they just kept playing and ignored the scoreboard.

“That’s what the coaches teach us,” Venious said. “Always keep your head up no matter what’s going on, no matter what’s on the scoreboard. At halftime you make it seem like it’s zero to zero.”

Said Yonnes: “We don’t stop, whether it’s halftime, second quarter, last quarter, we won’t stop. We keep going as hard as we can. We’re one of the smaller schools with a lot of heart.”

In Week 3, Bossier trailed Northwood 40-0 at halftime.

The Bearkats were crammed tightly together in a small locker room when Concilio gave his halftime speech.

“I told them, ‘This school has been around a long time,’ “ he said. “With that in mind you’re not going to disrespect the school by going out there and just laying down. You’re not going to humiliate yourselves, this program or your coaches. They adhere to that.”

Concilio said he has made it a point not to be critical of his players this season. He has also put into practice something that former Airline coach Mike Greene told him.  He and Greene, now the head coach at Fair Park, talk about once a week.

“You can’t just start getting really mad and take it out on what is there,” he said last week. “You’ve got to understand. Those guys decided to commit themselves. Here you are 0-6 and they’re still there.  You can’t criticize them for what’s going on.  That’s the approach I’m taking. I have not yelled at any kid. The only thing we address is hustle — effort, attitude and hustle.”

Because all three of those have been there in abundance this season, Concilio said, the record doesn’t matter. The season’s still been a success.

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Students at Cope Middle School are learning the basics of rock ‘n’ roll with a little help from a local guitar legend.

Burton, who is best known for playing guitar for Elvis Presley, personally delivered 35 acoustic guitars to Cope’s Rock 101 club on behalf of his foundation. Even better than his generous gift was Burton’s personal promise to return to the school later this year for a jam session.

Rock 101 was created by club sponsors and Cope teachers Eric Lee, Kevin Smith and Chad Patterson. Their goal is to get children interested in music, to teach the history behind it and develop a better appreciation for it.

Prior to Burton’s donation, Kevin Smith said the group would watch videos, listen to CDs and a few students would bring electric guitars from home to demonstrate. Although it was fun at the time, Smith said it was difficult for all students in the club to learn hands-on.

So, the group began writing letters to the James Burton Foundation, whose purpose is to support “music education for those in need through guitar donations and music instruction to schools, hospitals, and community service organizations.”

“It’s amazing what one guitar can do for a child,” Burton told the crowd during the guitar presentation.

Now with guitars in hand, there are high hopes for the students of Rock 101. Smith added that they are encouraging students to create their own musical scores.

“For some of them, this is their first time holding a guitar. We will teach them how to care for it, basic chords and hopefully branch them into all areas of music,” Smith said. “We just want them to develop a love and appreciation for music.”

The James Burton Foundation has given thousands of guitars to schools, and children’s and veteran’s hospitals, and will continue this effort. This is the first time a Bossier school has been gifted guitars by the foundation.

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October is National Bullying Prevention Month and Rusheon Middle School has focused on how bullying effects others and how students can stop bullying. The school had an Essay and Poster contest for the students and awards were presented Wednesday at the Bulldoze Bullying Assembly & Walk-a-thon. The school took $1 donations from students over the past month and donated $500 to the Project Celebration Domestic Violence Shelter in Shreveport. The faculty and staff had Sabrina Evans from BAFB as special speaker as well as Patrina Jenkins the Community Education Coordinator for the shelter in attendance to accept the donation.

winners bullying

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With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up soon, you will probably visit with some family members you rarely see.  It is the perfect time to collect family stories and histories, or video family gatherings.  Genealogy, the study of family history, is an exciting way to learn about your ancestors.  The Bossier Parish Historical Center can help you get started.

In house, they have an extensive collection of newspapers, photos, yearbooks, and oral histories.  To make your search easier there are several computers available where you can go online to the History Center’s website at www.bossierlibrary.org.  Click on Collections Databases under the menu tab Genealogy Tools.  There you can search for photos, records, people, archives, and more.        

Other genealogy tools that are free to the public through any BPL branch include Ancestry.com and Fold3.  Ancestry.com is the most familiar website to patrons.  Fold3 is new to our databases.  It provides access to military related records.

Heritage Quest is another well known genealogy website.  The great thing about Heritage Quest is that patrons can access it from home using their library card and pin number, which is the last 4 digits of the card number.     

VickieHardin copyThe Name and Place Index is for searching the Bossier Banner newspaper from 1859 through 1985.  Search results are citations only, not the actual article.  Patrons are invited to come by the History Center or contact them for a copy of an article.  Ten articles at a time may be emailed to patrons upon request.

To find out more about what is happening at the History Center, under the menu News & Events you can click on the History Center Newsletter.    

Remember, our Library is a gateway to the past and a bridge to the future.

Make a note:

  • Join in the fun at the Library Fall Festivals:
  • Wednesday, October 29, Bossier Central from 11 a.m. —  5:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, October 30, Haughton Library from 3:30 p.m. — 5 p.m.
  • Friday, October 31, Aulds Library from 11 a.m. — 5 p.m.
  • Do you need a guest speaker for a club meeting or other occasion?  Contact Pam Carlisle at the Bossier Parish Historical Center for a list of historical presentations for all ages. (318) 746-7717.

New Books

Fiction

“Cut and Thrust (CD)” by Stuart Woods

“Gideon’s Sword (CD)” by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

“The Language of Flowers (CD)” by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

“Temptation (CD)” by Nora Roberts

“The Night Circus (CD)” by Erin Morgenstern

“Dragons: Riders of Berk, Part 1 [DVD videorecording]” by Cartoon Network

“Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness [DVD videorecording]” by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

“G.I. Joe: Retaliation [DVD videorecording]” by Paramount Pictures; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures

“LEGO Batman, the Movie [DVD videorecording]” by Warner Premiere

“Ring of Fire [DVD videorecording]” by Lifetime Pictures

Nonfiction

“A Covert Affair: Julia Child and Paul Child in the O.S.S. (CD)” by Jannet Conant

“Through My Eyes (CD)” by Tim Tebow

“In the Garden of Beasts (CD)” by Erik Larson

“The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood (CD)” by James Gleick

“Bossy Pants (CD)” by Tina Fey

“Grand Plantations [DVD recording]” Produced by Cinetel Productions in association with A & E Television Network

“The Human Body Collection [DVD videorecording]” produced by Windfall Films

“Wrestlemania XXIX [DVD videorecording]” by World Wrestling Entertainment

“Lennon Revealed [DVD videorecording]” by Larry Kane; Running Press

“Passport to Europe England, Ireland & Scotland with Samantha Brown [DVD videorecording].” by Image Entertainment     

Vickie Hardin is Associate Director of Public Relations for the Bossier Parish Library. She can be reached at vhardin@bossierlibrary.org

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In its September 29, 1932 issue The Bossier Banner ran a sketch of James Blair Gilmer who was the son of George Oglethorpe and Martha Johnson Gilmer.  The sketch was written by J. T. Manry,  a collector of Bossier Parish History.

“James Blair Gilmer came to Louisiana during the thirties of the past century [1830s].  He entered a large tract of land from the Government, about four miles south of the Plain Dealing tract, entered by his father.  Here he built a palatial home, widely known for  many years as the Orchard, and in its time, was the most pretentious residence in North Louisiana, or, at that time, in the state.  It was destroyed by fire many years ago.  Its site is on the present paved highway, to the right when one is driving north, and just after leaving the Gardner bottom.  The acreage at present [1932] belongs to Mr. C. H. Antrim, of St. Louis, Mo.”

“At the time of the building of this home there were no saw mills in North Louisiana, and tradition differs as to the source of the lumber.  One claims it was obtained in Arkansas and brought down Red River on barges, and another says it was obtained in New Orleans and brought up Red River on steamboats.  Both traditions are probably in part aright, as Mr. Gilmer was the owner of two steamboats, which made regular trips to New Orleans and up the Red, to the head of navigation, and he probably made selections from both sources of supply.”

“The Orchard Home had a frontage of about 160 feet, with wide galleries around the entire building, which were supported by massive columns turned out of large pine logs.  Through the center of each column a hole was drilled and a four-inch copper tube was inserted.  These were the drain pipes for the gutters.  The entire roof was covered with copper sheeting before the shingles were put on.  The doorknobs were of solid silver.  (At least two of them are still in existence in the neighborhood of the old home).  The valleys of the roof were of sheet lead.  A peculiar thing about the construction of this house was that there was no front steps or doors.  The entrance was from the end or side of the house, but in lieu of front doors wide windows extended from the ceiling to the floor.  There were two parlors, each 30 by 30, with folding doors between.  These two rooms, on occasions of state, were thrown together, making a hall 30 by 60 feet.  There are yet living, near Plain Dealing, two old ladies who remember some of these balls of the days of yore.”

“The site upon which the house was built was so selected as to drain in every direction, and the grounds were landscaped and beautified by a trained artisan and set to all manner of trees, shrubs and flowers.  Some of the ornamental trees can yet be seen.  Liveries of horses and  kennels of dogs were kept for personal sport and the pleasure of visitors, and there were servant guides trained in the handling of horse and dog.”

“The foregoing is but an inadequate picture of the ‘Orchard’ during its days of grandeur, which ended with the untimely death of its founder and the subsequent debacle following the war of secession.”

Be sure to read next week’s column to find out about James Gilmer who carved out not only a home in which to live, but also an estate, which, “from point of productivity and vastness, was unequaled in this broad domain.”

To see a picture of Orchard Place around the turn of the century, visit the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center.

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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Blueberries are one of the easiest-to-grow fruiting plants for home landscapes, and research indicates that they have all kinds of health benefits. Here in Louisiana we plant the native rabbiteye blueberry, Vaccinium ashei. A number of rabbiteye blueberry varieties are available, and all are Louisiana Super Plant selections for fall 2014.

Rabbiteye blueberry is the first fruiting plant to be named a Louisiana Super Plant selection. A variety of outstanding characteristics are the reason why. The bushes are relatively compact and do not occupy large amounts of space. And they are attractive and generally don’t require a lot of spraying for insect and disease control. These characteristics make blueberries ideal for edible landscaping – incorporating food-producing plants seamlessly into the landscape design.

In the landscape, blueberries are neat, attractive shrubs that can serve as hedges, privacy screens or background plantings for beds. They also can be used in masses or as focal points in the landscape. They are adaptable to growing in containers, making it possible for people without a yard to grow blueberries on balconies, decks, porches and patios.

The foliage of rabbiteye blueberries is an appealing blue-green and often turns to brilliant shades of orange and red in the fall. Blueberries are semi-deciduous and generally drop a portion of their leaves over the winter.

The small, urn-shaped white flowers that appear in spring are not especially showy, but they cluster along the branches prettily and provide nectar and pollen to bees and other insects. The fruit that follows adds visual interest as it changes color toward ripening through the season.

The native origins of rabbiteye blueberry varieties means they are well-adapted to both the soil and the climate of Louisiana. That said, blueberries are native to areas where the soil is quite acid, and your soil must be acidic enough to be successful with them. Blueberries are acid-loving plants that grow best in soil that has a pH between 4.5 and 5.5.

To understand this, a little soil science is in order. The pH scale, which runs from 1 to 14, is used to indicate the degree of acidity or alkalinity of soil. A pH of 7.0 is neutral, a pH above 7.0 is alkaline and any value below that is acidic. The acidity or alkalinity of soil has a significant effect on the availability of the mineral nutrients that plants need. If the pH is too high, acid-loving plants like blueberries are not able to absorb from the soil enough of some of the minerals they need, such as iron.

Before considering blueberries for your landscape, it is best to determine the pH of your soil. Contact your parish LSU AgCenter Extension office about getting your soil tested. You may also pick up a soil-testing box from your local nursery or garden center. Take soil samples according to the directions in the box, and mail it to the AgCenter Soil Testing and Plant Analysis Lab. Not only will you learn the pH of the soil, but you will also see the levels of several important mineral nutrients. This information is valuable when deciding which fertilizers to use.

If you soil is not acid enough, you can lower the pH by incorporating finely ground sulfur into the soil of the area where the bushes will be planted. In areas of the state where the pH is above 7, you may have more success growing blueberries in containers.

You need to plant more than one variety of rabbiteye blueberries for cross-pollination. Rabbiteye blueberries are self-sterile – they won’t pollinate themselves – and cross-pollination is necessary for fruit set. The pollinating variety has no influence on fruit yield or quality, and all varieties will cross pollinate each other as long as bloom times overlap.

To spread out the harvest season, it is a good idea to select early, mid- and late-season varieties. Varieties that ripen earliest include Austin, Brightwell, Climax, Premier and Woodard. Midseason varieties are Bluebelle, Briteblue, Chaucer, Powderblue and Tifblue. The latest-ripening varieties are Baldwin, Centurion, Choice and Delite.

Fall or winter planting works best because it gives the plants an opportunity to become established before the stressful heat of summer. Be sure to order early if you plan to mail order bare root plants from a specialty nursery so your plants will arrive in time for winter transplanting. Container-grown plants can typically be purchased from local nurseries for fall or winter planting.

The standard spacing for rabbiteye blueberries is 6 feet between plants. If blueberries are being planted to create a privacy screen or hedge, plant the bushes 4 feet apart in the row. If developing individual specimen plants, use a spacing of 8 to 10 feet between the bushes.

Locate your blueberry plantings in locations that receive at least a half a day of sun, but sun all day will produce the best harvests. Blueberries are intolerant of wet, poorly drained soils. Make sure you plant them in areas that drain well where standing water does not persist after a rain.

Finally, rabbiteye blueberry varieties are Louisiana Super Plants selections because they are relatively low-maintenance. When it comes to blueberries, you get a lot of return for the effort. Blueberry plants typically have very few insect or disease problems, and pesticides are rarely needed in home gardens. And blueberries do not need extensive annual pruning.

Louisiana Super Plants selections are promoted every spring and fall by the LSU AgCenter in cooperation with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. They are exceptional choices for your landscape with proven track records in Louisiana’s unique climate. For more information on Louisiana Super Plants, go to www.lsuagcenter.com/superplants. Click on “Where to Find Super Plants” to find participating retail nurseries near you.

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