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Sean Green

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

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Construction projects at several Bossier schools are on schedule to be completed by the first day of school despite a wetter than usual spring season.

Two new schools will open their doors to students after construction crews worked around the clock this summer to makeup for lost time due to the weather. Paving projects at other schools are also wrapping up while construction continues at the new middle school site in Haughton.

Bossier Parish Schools is in the third year of a $210 million construction program approved by parish voters in April 2012. Project Manager Clarence Babineaux of SGB and Yates, the firm contracted by Bossier Schools to manage its 10-year construction program, said a lot of work has happened in a short amount of time to get projects back on track and finished by the start of the 2015-2016 school year.

Kingston Elementary School

An official ribbon cutting ceremony for Kingston Elementary will be held Tuesday, Aug. 4. Babineaux said there is still some exterior work to do, but the school will be open Aug. 10.

“We are ready to go on Kingston,” Babineaux told the Bossier School board’s building and grounds committee.

Construction of Kingston Elementary began in late November 2014. Designed to help relieve overcrowding at Legacy and Benton Elementary Schools, the new facility will be designed to meet those growth needs by accommodating 1,000 students in kindergarten through fifth grades.

Due to the large number of students and to reduce the perceived size of the building, the Bossier Schools website states that two grades will be paired for each of the upper elementary wings (2nd and 3rd and 4th and 5th) with kindergarten and first grade each having their own eight-room wing or “house.” Kindergarten and first grade rooms will also be situated closest to the front door and administration to better improve the younger child’s sense of security.

The wings and all support components – administration, library, cafeteria, gym, art/music/computer labs – are organized along a “main street” to simplify understanding of the building layout.

Babineaux said a crosswalk has been painted on Kingston Road. However, Superintendent D.C. Machen said bus transportation will be provided to students who are within the one-mile walking distance from the school due to the amount of traffic on the roadway.

“Since it is not within the city limits, we do not use the same resources as the city crossing guards,” Machen explained. “We’re investigating the feasibility of having a crossing guard there anyway.”

Keith Norwood, Supervisor of Planning and Construction for Bossier Schools, said they have been in contact with the parish about installing sidewalks along Kingston Road. Norwood told the committee that one is planned for south Kingston (from the apartments to St. Charles Court), but was put on hold because the sewer installation was delayed.

BPSTIL

As its name implies, technology and innovation are at the forefront when it comes to the Bossier Parish School for Technology and Innovative Learning (BPSTIL).

Positioned off I-220 and Swan Lake Road, the 110,000 square feet facility will be centrally located for easy access by our students throughout the parish. Its exterior and interior design will be as innovative as the curriculum. The two-wing design, linked by a court yard, will include an extensive culinary arts department, banquet facilities, a student-run bistro and outdoor dining.

Babineaux said work crews have been greatly impacted by 178 days of rain this year, which is 104 days more than normal.

“Given all that rain, they have worked very long hours over the past few weeks – double shifts, late nights and weekends,” Babineaux said. “They are getting there. There are probably 100 to 125 people working on site right now at any given time to make sure its open on time.”

Machen added that while the interior will be done, there is still exterior work to finish. One of those big projects is a parking lot.

“There is parking already there and we don’t anticipate there being any problems,” Machen said.

Babineaux clarified that there are plenty of parking spaces for students, faculty and visitors at the school on day one.

This new school will allow Bossier Schools to expand course offerings in the Department of Education’s Career Clusters, giving high school students the opportunity to explore various fields of interest as well as accrue college credit and industry certifications. Machen said they anticipate anywhere from 300 to 500 students to occupy BPSTIL during the course of a school day.

Haughton Middle School

Bossier Schools is in the process of building its first three-story middle school.

The new Haughton Middle School is designed to accommodate a rapidly growing student population in the eastern part of Bossier Parish. Built for 1,500 students in sixth through eighth grades, Haughton Middle School will include a large, centrally located commons/dining area with its academic wing and athletic facilities, including a gym with bleacher seating for 1,000 with the capability for additional bleacher and floor seating.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held in February 2015, but poor weather conditions delayed work.

“There’s some progress being made, but there has been a lot of rain,” Babineaux said. “They’ve got a lot of work left to go.”

Due to delays, contract work is now said to be completed in September or October of 2016, later than what was originally projected. The initial plan was to have the school ready to open at the start of the 2016 school year.

Babineaux said there have been discussions as to whether or not crews can makeup for lost time, but he said that decision is ultimately based on future weather conditions.

“It’s still early and I never say never,” Babineaux told the school board committee. “If we get a really dry winter, it may change. We have to depend on the weather at this point.”

Airline High School

Work began at Airline High School at the end of March and is about seven-percent complete.

Airline’s existing E and F wings will be replaced by two new three-story classroom wings, a state-of-the-art media center and library and renovated administrative area and front entrance. The two-phase construction project will allow the school to accommodate a projected population of 2,000 students.

An initial phase to refurbish restrooms, the auditorium, the cafeteria and a new outdoor dining commons is finished. Construction has already started on the new F wing, which will then be followed by the new E wing along with renovations to the Administration, Media & Lobby.

Work is projected to be completed in the summer of 2017.

“They have been working in the same rain conditions, but the advantage they have is they only have one wing to do as opposed to an entire school and they have a parking lot leading right up to the edge of the construction site,” Babineaux said. “Their schedule is about five weeks ahead, which is excellent news.”

Paving Projects

Several paving projects are also nearing completion.

T. L. Rodes and Platt Elementary schools have received improvements to parking and traffic flow on their campus, as well as at Princeton Elementary, Legacy Elementary and Benton Elementary. – Traffic & Parking Improvements

“We’ve had some great weather lately and they are moving along quite well,” Babineaux said.

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The Bossier Sheriff’s Office has implemented a Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Enforcement Unit to remove impaired drivers from the roadways.

The goal is to keep drivers compliant with the law and rid local roadways of impaired drivers.

“We want to emphasize that driving under the influence will not be tolerated,” said Sgt. Jeff Pleasants, supervisor of the Traffic Unit.  “Innocent people get hurt, and nothing good comes out of impaired driving.”

Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington said residents have voiced their concerns over the traffic, whether it’s congestion, reckless drivers or people driving under the influence.

“When you work the streets and see accidents that have been caused by a drunk or otherwise impaired driver in which they injure or kill themselves or others, it makes you even more committed to keeping them off the road,” Whittington said.

In 2014, Bossier deputies made 99 DWI arrests. Deputies have made 88 DWI arrests  so far in 2015.

Pleasants, a 12-year-veteran of the Bossier Sheriff’s Office, said he would rather not see any traffic citations or arrests.

“We’re not necessarily out looking to write people tickets or make arrests.  Sometimes we have to because that’s part of our job, but if we gain compliance with just our presence in an area, like working a red light detail at a major intersection where we have a lot of crashes, people see us, word gets out, and that’s good,” said Pleasants.

Dep. Ryan Rhodes, member of the DWI Enforcement Unit, said his role in enforcing DWI laws is “to protect those who can’t protect themselves,” since there aren’t necessarily warning signs or heads-up notice that a drunk or impaired driver is on the roadways.

“When you arrest an impaired driver, you never really know what kind of immediate impact, if any, you are going to have,” said Rhodes, a 9-year veteran of the Bossier Sheriff’s Office.  “You never know when or where that person is going to crash, and removing that impaired driver from the road may have just saved the life of your family, your friend’s family or a stranger’s family.”

Sobriety checkpoints often aid in DWI enforcement and are conducted at random times of the year at various locations in the parish.

“When we conduct sobriety checkpoints, we realize people get on Facebook and Twitter, and word quickly gets out,” said Pleasants.  “Thirty minutes after we’re set up, they’re texting people to say, “Hey, there’s a checkpoint here.”

Pleasants added that it’s okay because the key is to keep drunk drivers off the roadways.

“If they don’t have to make any DWI arrests, that’s still a good thing. Once again, compliance is the goal.”

In 2014, deputies conducted four sobriety checkpoints and screened 1,787 vehicles.  From those checkpoints, deputies made 12 DWI arrests and issued 41 citations for various traffic violations.

The BSO warned drivers that if they are driving impaired, they will be caught.

“There are drunk drivers out all hours of the night and day,” said Pleasants.  “They’re out right now.  I’ve arrested people at 6 in the morning, and I’ve arrested them at noon.  And it’s not just alcohol.

“We are starting to see more and more people overmedicating themselves, taking prescription medicines or getting meds illegally,” Pleasants noted.  “And you can be convicted of DWI from the impairment of prescribed medicines or illegal drugs.”

Sheriff Whittington’s message on driving impaired is one of public safety, and he reminds drivers that it’s just not worth it.

“You may get away with it for a little while, but we’re going to catch you.  You may feel you don’t have any concern for your own life, but please consider the lives of others,” Sheriff Whittington said.  “We’re not saying you can’t drink…we’re just saying you can’t drink and drive.”

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Volunteers from Celebration Church will be “Sweating for our Seniors” Saturday, Aug. 1, to collect fans, bottled water and monetary donations for the Bossier Council on Aging.

The Shreveport-based church will be set up at the Wal-Mart on Airline Drive in Bossier City from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to collect donations from the public. Tamara Crane, Executive Director of the Bossier Council on Aging, said they are in dire need of fans and donations as they enter the month of August.

“We all know August is hot and the heat is on its way,” Crane said. “We usually give out twice as many fans in August than we do all summer.”

The Bossier Council on Aging has already given out more than 250 fans since distribution began in March. They distributed more than 100 fans in the month of July alone.

Donated fans can be any size or style, but they must be new. Crane said some seniors prefer box fans because they are larger, but they are sometimes difficult to carry from room to room.

“Some seniors out in rural areas don’t have central air conditioning in their homes,” Crane explained.

“They may not even have a window unit and a fan is what they use to cool their entire home.”

Crane also said seniors often times don’t run their air conditioning unit during the summer because of how costly it gets.

“Our seniors are on a fixed income. Some still choose to work, but some of them don’t have the option to go out and work a little bit to cover extra costs,” she said. “When they have routine needs, such as medicine or bills, it is cheaper for them to run a fan than it is an air conditioning unit.”

This is why fan drives are critical this time of year. The bottled water will also be handed out as part of the council’s hydration program, which Crane said is to remind seniors the importance of drinking water to help prevent heat strokes and heat exhaustion.

“It’s important for them to not only stay cool, but to stay hydrated,” Crane said. “July and August are the hottest months of the year. Just in the last two years, we’ve had people go into a home to deliver a meal and have found a senior who had passed away due to the heat.”

Fan drives are just one way the council reaches out to seniors who may not know about their services.

“We’ve had seniors come in just to get a fan, but then they find out we offer meals on wheels and transportation services,” Crane said. “This opens the door for us to get them the services they need.”

Seniors living in Bossier Parish can request one fan each year. They must have a valid form of identification and be over the age of 60.

Fans may be picked up at any of the three Bossier Council on Aging sites – Bossier City, Benton and Plain Dealing. Crane urged the public to remember their elderly neighbors and loved ones in the coming weeks as temperatures rise.

For more information, contact the Bossier Council on Aging at 318-741-8302 or send an e-mail to contactus@bossiercoa.org.

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In our home building and remodeling travels, my husband Adam and I have visited with hundreds of families throughout Shreveport and Bossier City. Approximately half of the clients we meet have never gone through a home remodeling project and because it is something new to them, we feel it is important to educate these customers throughout the entire process starting at the first meeting to the final construction punch list.

Another key ingredient we focus on when meeting with new clients is building trust. While it is extremely important we understand our clients’ needs, it is equally important our clients understand who we are and how we operate professionally. At the other end of this scenario are the families who have experienced a remodeling project. Most say they were very satisfied with the job performed by a past contractor, while the others report horrible experiences that have left them with a home that is in worse condition than before the remodeling project occurred.

We have personally seen these gut wrenching home horror stories and it aches our hearts for the families involved. Their money, time and personal safety have all been compromised by a sharp tongued individual flying under the legal radar. We have seen extension cords in walls, remodeled bathrooms leaking into adjacent rooms, additions that are pulling away from the existing home, incorrect framing, and unprotected circuits hidden behind drywall, just to name a few.

I can go on and on with the list of code violations and severe structural issues we have seen, but what I would rather do is educate you, the reader, so you or anyone you know who is in the market for a home renovation will be armed with the knowledge needed for a safe and successful project.  It is your right to ask questions before investing in an addition or a home renovation. Never be afraid that you may offend the contractor or salesperson. If you see them squirming in their seat during your Q&As, that may be a red flag.

1.  SHOW ME THE LICENSE

Before hiring anyone to handle your home renovation project, ask to see their contractor’s license. A great contractor will show you his license without blinking an eye and may already have it available or list their license number on their website or business card.

An individual calling himself a contractor but shows no regard in playing by the legal rules by obtaining his license is a HUGE red flag. If he is purposely flying under the radar, imagine the care he will have with your home. Hmm.

Seeing the license is the first step, the second step is to call and verify the license is valid. Home owners are welcomed to call the Louisiana Licensing Board at 1-800-256-1392 to put their mind at ease.

2. SHOW ME THE INSURANCE

What will happen if your contractor or his employees get injured on your property? What will happen if your home is damaged by your contractor or one of his employees? These are thoughts that should be in the forefront of your mind when considering a home remodel.

Asking to see your contractor’s certificate of insurance is just as important as seeing their license. A great contractor will be covered by both General Liability and Workers Compensation insurance. General Liability covers damage to your property during the course of the work and Workers Compensation protects workers if they are injured while working at your home.

An extra step: Even if they show you their certificate calling their insurance company to verify is a great move.

3. SHOW ME THE CONTRACTS

There was a time when a good ol handshake carried as much weight as a written contract. Unfortunately, those days are over due to individuals whose morals and values turned out to be as shallow as their word.

A great contractor will provide you with a detailed written estimate or proposal. This proposal should describe what will be done in your home and list the labor, materials, structural work, electrical, plumbing, contingencies etc. necessary for your project. They will do all their preliminary work upfront so that you will not have surprise costs added to your job after the handshake.

Construction Contracts should also have a payment schedule, start date and projected completion date. Having everything in writing not only protects the contractor but protects you as well.

LisaMWillard4. SHOW ME THE PERMITS

A waving bright red flag would be a contractor who does not pull permits or wants YOU to pull the permits.

When a contractor pulls a permit on a job, it means they are adhering to local and state code which translates to your home renovation having to pass inspection before the work is completed and the final payment is made to your contractor.

This also means, that your remodeling project is now on the books, public knowledge, and if you plan to sell your home in the future, prospective buyers will be relieved by the fact that the work was done legally and by a licensed and insured contractor.

5. SHOW ME THE REFERENCES

Another important piece of your contractor homework is asking for references.

We offer all our new clients the names and phone numbers of past Ashley’s Building customers so they can hear about their remodeling experience firsthand.

6. SHOW ME THE PICTURES

Great Contractors do great work and will be eager to show you pictures or direct you to their website for photos. They may have a designer on staff (that is my role in our company) that uses 3D rendering software that can show you what your new project will look like before construction starts.

Asking to see pictures or addresses of past work that you can drive by and admire is a good way to get an idea of the quality of work you should expect from your contractor.

7. SHOW ME THE COMMUNICATION

We know that home remodeling projects can be very stressful for some homeowners and one way to minimize the stress is through communication and personal presence. How many times have you known a contractor to start a job and never be seen or heard from again?

Just like a marriage, communication is extremely important between the homeowner and contractor or project manager.

We personally text, email or call our customers with daily updates on what to expect during every phase of their project and visit our job sites regularly to make sure every little details is perfected.

Asking your contractor how they communicate will help calm your reno nerves.

And last but not least….

8. SHOW ME THE MONEY

You get what you paid for rings true in the building and remodeling industry.

The contractor with the dangerously low bid is cutting corners somewhere. It may be in the quality of materials or they may lack knowledge of code requirements or lack the building skills and knowledge to perform your project correctly. Heck, it could be all the above.

We have seen many unlicensed contractors oblivious to the fact that a home’s electrical panel or air conditioning needed to be updated when adding square footage to an existing home. Missing this step or adding it after your “handshake” can cost the homeowner thousands of extra dollars they were not budgeting for. Not cool.

Let’s face it, transparency in the home building and remodeling industry is key.Your home is your biggest investment and you have every right to know who will be altering it and working around your family. Remembering these few steps can put you on the right path to a safe, peaceful, gorgeous home remodel.

Lisa M. Willard is Ashley’s Building and Constructions chief Designer and co-owner. Visit them at www.ashleysbuilding.com. Lisa can be reached at lisamwillard@yahoo.com

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Just in time for back to school, Gale Cengage Learning is updating their literature resources.  The interface improvements will become effective Friday, August 7th.  BPL is pleased to offer students the best services possible in order to make the 2015-2016 school year a success.  A rundown provided by Gale (http://learn.cengage.com) with details of what to expect is below. 

Literature Resource Center, LitFinder, and MLA International Bibliography

  • What’s happening: Introducing a mobile-responsive interface, enabling easy access from any Web-enabled mobile device.
  • When you can peek: beginning August 7, a link to preview the new experience will also be prominently placed on banners within Literature Resource Center, LitFinder, MLA International Bibliography
  • When the interface change will become effective: December 20, 2015

Literature Resources from Gale and Gale Literary Archive, the cross-search of Something About the Author, Dictionary of Literary Biography, and Literary Criticism Online

  • What’s happening: These literature resources will be replaced with upgraded access to Gale Artemis: Literary Sources, which gives you the ability to cross-search Literature Resource Center, Literature Criticism Online, Dictionary of Literary Biography Complete Online, Something About the Author Online, Contemporary Authors Online, LitFinder, Scribners Writers Online, Twayne’s Authors Online, MLA International Bibliography, and a customized GVRL eBook subcollection. Gale Artemis: Literary Sources also features a cutting-edge user interface that helps student and faculty discover and explore topics more easily.
  • When the interface change will become effective: August 7, 2015

VickieHardinNote: access to Literature Resources from Gale and Gale Literary Archive will no longer be available after August 7.

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

Make a note:

Bossier Central 746-1693

  • Tuesday, August 11 from 5—7p.m. stop by for an Open House with door prizes, snacks, and tours of the library and History Center all sponsored by the Friends of Bossier Parish Library. 
  • Thursday, August 20 from 6—7p.m. the Bossier Central Book Club will discuss “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt. 

Tooke Memorial 987-3915

  • Saturday, August 1 from 12—3p.m. for children ages 6—13, Movie Day showing “Strange Magic” with refreshments. 
  • Wednesdays, beginning August 17 through December 15 from 11:00—11:30 a.m., Story Time @ Your Library for ages 0—5 with parents.  Call or stop by to preregister. 

New Books

Fiction

“Book of Numbers” by Joshua Cohen

“The Alpine Zen: An Emma Lord Mystery” by Mary Daheim

“The Fixer” by Joseph Finder

“The Harvest Man” by Alex Grecian

“The Ghost Fields” by Elly Griffiths

“Noontime Follies: A Jake Hines Mystery” by Elizabeth Gunn

“The Life Intended” by Kristin Harmel

“Married ‘til Monday” by Denise Hunter

“Disclaimer” by Renee Knight

“Born of Defiance” by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Nonfiction

“Girl in a Band” by Kim Gordon

“Psychedelic Bubble Gum: Boyce & Hart, The Monkees, and Turning Mayhem into Miracles” by Bobby Hart

“Amish Confidential” by Levi Stoltzfus

“Daddy Stop Talking” by Adam Carolla

“Bad Days in History” by Michael Farquhar

“King John: And the Road to Magna Carta” by Stephen Church

“Elizabeth I and Her Circle” by Susan Doran

“Beale Street Dynasty” by Preston Lauterbach

“Rhythm of the Wild: A Life Inspired by Alaska’s Denali National Park” by Kim Heacox
“Out Came the Sun: Overcoming the Legacy of Mental Illness, Addiction, and Suicide in My Family” by Mariel Hemmingway

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

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It was the habit of the editor of the Bossier Banner in the 1920s to feature a column called “Sixty Years Ago.”  In the January 20, 1921 issue of the paper there appeared the following within that column:

“In a signed statement run immediately under the masthead of the paper the late editor of the Banner said: ‘During my absence from the parish my brother, J.M. Scanland, will attend to all business connected with the office.’” This notice would have originally appeared in the January 18, 1861 issue of the Banner.

The Banner’s 1920 editor offered the following explanation: “For some reason the above notice only appeared in three issues of the Banner.  Without further examining the Banner’s files to verify our statements, will say that we think the younger brother of the two soon himself felt the call of his country and joined the Confederate colors.  Anyway, he was among the first volunteers to leave the parish for the front.  Soon following the date above written, the elder brother was in New Orleans as a member of the military company known as the ‘Bossier Boys.’  In that city the company was disorganized and he joined the Bossier Cavalry, perhaps returning home to do so, but we think he was not again actively engaged in the publication of the Banner until after the close of the Confederate War.”

Two weeks later in the February 3, 1921 issue the Banner printed the following: “The following short communication from Mr. J.M. Scanland now a resident of Los Angeles, Calif., came to hand last night.  Following out his suggestion it is published in order to make the record clear.  Also we trust his Bossier Parish friends of the 60s will be pleased to again hear from him.  He says:”

“Dear Abney: In the ‘Sixty Years Ago’ published in the Banner of the 20th instant the paragraph in reference to my brother and myself is not quite clear.  This will explain it:’

‘The Secession Convention met during January, 1861.  Brother went to Baton Rouge to see the state go out.  He left e in charge of the office, as per notice quoted in the article.  He was absent about three weeks when he returned and, of course, resumed charge of his paper.  That is why my name appeared in only three issues.’

‘On the 18th of April, 1861 I joined the Shreveport Grays and we left New Orleans for Florida, and thence Virginia.  Brother joined the Bossier Boys.  The company, owing to a misunderstanding with the civil authorities, disbanded at New Orleans.  Later brother joined the Bossier Cavalry.  He did not return home until the surrender of the Confederate forces.  The Banner had been suspended.’

‘During the war one Dr. Drury Lacy, publisher of the Caddo Gazette, at Shreveport, on learning that there was some print paper and ink in the Banner office, asked the valiant Kirby Smith, commander of the Department, to impress, or, rather, confiscate the paper and ink, which was done.  Lacy promised to return an equal quantity at the end of the war, which was not done.  I know that when brother returned after the surrender, to resume publication, that there was not a sheet of print paper nor a pound of ink in the office.  Nor did Lacy offer to accommodate the Banner with paper and ink.  Enough for a few issues was obtained from the Shreveport South-Western, published by Wm. Dillard.’

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

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Wherever you go in America, gardeners will tell you about the terrible pest problems they have to deal with. Still, it seems like we have more than our share of insects, diseases and weeds in Louisiana.

It is important to remember that pesticides are only one method for controlling pests. Gardeners also can use other techniques that can help prevent the severe infestations that make the use of pesticides necessary. Minimizing the use of pesticides, whether they are chemical or organic, is always a good idea.

Make it a point to inspect your landscape frequently for developing problems. Weed control is a prime example where early intervention is far easier and more effective than letting a situation get really bad before taking action.

One of the best defenses against pest problems is to keep your plants in tip-top condition through good culture. A healthy, vigorous plant is usually more resistant to disease and withstands insect attack better, and a healthy lawn resists weeds. Good culture includes giving your plants proper spacing, soil, drainage, water, light and nutrients.

An excellent way to avoid insect and disease problems is through plant selection. Simply do not plant those plants that are known to be prone to insect or disease problems. Instead, choose plants that are adapted to our climate and are naturally resistant to major problems, or choose those that have been bred and selected for insect and disease resistance. If you have plants that constantly seem to have something attacking them despite your best efforts, consider removing them and replacing them with plants you have found to be more care free.

In vegetable gardens and annual flower beds that are replanted every year, crop rotation is important. Planting the same type of plants in the same bed year after year can cause a buildup in the soil of disease organisms that use that plant as a host. Plant different things in your garden in different places every year whenever possible.

Proper sanitation is another important factor in controlling insect and disease problems. Stands of weeds growing near gardens and landscapes can serve as alternate hosts and places of refuge and breeding for pests. Always keep your yard, gardens and adjacent areas as weed-free as possible. Fruit and fallen leaves infected with disease should be collected, bagged and thrown away. Never leave rotten vegetables and leaves on the ground in your vegetable garden.

Some disease organisms live in the soil and are splashed onto plants by rain. Applying mulch to soil under plants can reduce incidence of these types of diseases. This is especially helpful when growing fruit and vegetable crops like tomatoes, squash and strawberries.

Keep dead branches regularly pruned out of fruit trees, shade trees and shrubs. Dead and rotting branches can serve as points of entry and sources of infection.

Mulches are also the best way to save work and reduce the use of herbicides to control weeds in beds. Weeds are certainly a leading garden pest. Weed control, whatever method you use, is always more effective when done regularly and before a weed problem becomes major.

When problems do occur, proper diagnosis is critical to correctly deal with the situation with the appropriate, safe control method. Unfortunately, diagnosing the cause of problems is not always easy for the average gardener.

The symptoms that a particular insect or disease causes are usually distinctive enough to make diagnosis possible by a capable professional. Agents at your local parish LSU AgCenter office are available to help you identify problems and recommend solutions. Many local nurseries and garden centers have individuals on staff who can help you identify the damage and decide on the proper action to take. Books and the Internet are also valuable resources for identifying pest problems.

If pesticides are recommended for control, always request the least-toxic material that will do the job, and ask if something you already have would work. It is helpful if you maintain a list of what you have and have it with you when asking advice.

Read the label of the recommended product completely and thoroughly before you purchase it to make sure it is appropriate for the situation and that you are comfortable using it.

Water from municipal water treatment facilities is often alkaline, and many pesticides break down rapidly when mixed with alkaline water. Whenever possible, adjust the pH to make the water acidic with products available where garden pesticides are sold.

Dealing with pests when necessary will always be a part of taking care of a landscape. But doing everything you can to prevent pest problems before they arise will reduce the time, effort and cost of controlling them.

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

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With more than $9 million currently at his disposal in his bid to succeed Bobby Jindal, Sen. David Vitter remains the man to beat in the governor’s race.

Polling on the race points to a Vitter win, too.

Don’t tell that to Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne.

Dardenne spent some time at The Ouachita Citizen last week to discuss his campaign as well as to make the case about why he’s the most qualified candidate in the field, which also includes Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, a Republican, of Breaux Bridge and the lone Democrat in the race, state Rep. John Bel Edwards of Amite

Though a Republican like Vitter, Dardenne didn’t blaze a trail through conservative circles to get where he is today.  He’s a moderate from south Baton Rouge where hard-core conservatives are somewhat tolerated but not appreciated.  And certainly not electable.

It’s not lost on Dardenne that it would be impossible, nor genuine, for his campaign to trek to the right of Vitter.  Accordingly, Dardenne is pursuing the middle ground, appealing to moderate Republicans and reasonable Democrats, who should recognize Edwards faces an uphill challenge to say the least.  Simply put, the makeup of the electorate in Louisiana tells us you’re more likely to get struck by lightning than see Edwards elected governor this fall.

SAM HANNADardenne believes there are enough Democrats in Louisiana who can be convinced that they would waste their votes by casting ballots for Edwards.  The safe bet for Democrats, according to Dardenne, would be to support a Republican who would lend a favorable ear and who has a track record of working with people from both sides of the aisle.   

On the surface, Dardenne’s strategy seems plausible.  Whether it will work is debatable.  Highly debatable.

The good news for Dardenne is he hasn’t been forced to burn any cash up until this point in the campaign.  Most voters already know him or know of him.

Angelle, on other hand, has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to introduce himself to an electorate that, by and large, had never heard of him.  An expensive endeavor, but it was necessary for Angelle to establish the validity of his campaign.

It’s worked for Angelle, too.

But regardless of strategy, Dardenne must hurdle the same obstacle that’s blocking Angelle.  That is, both candidates must get past an opponent who has almost unlimited money to spend in about 90 days.

They — Angelle and Dardenne — are hoping voters have Vitter fatigue.  They also question Vitter’s electability in light of his presence as a statewide elected official for more than a decade.  In other words, Vitter’s been around for a while now, so why isn’t he leading the governor’s race by a double-digit margin?

Who knows?

What we do know is over the next 90 days the governor’s race will get under way in earnest.  The electorate will be subjected to an avalanche of campaign commercials, name calling and muckraking.  And by late October, we will have had a belly full of all of it, only to be exposed to another month of the same.

Enjoy.

Sam Hanna is a state political writer.

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This coming Saturday, August 1, 2015, it will have been exactly one year since I assumed my new role as Publisher of your newspaper. What a GREAT year this has been!

In so many ways, it seems impossible that a year has already passed since this wonderful honor and opportunity was bestowed upon me! Truly, this has been a “once in a lifetime”  experience! Honestly, hearing from so many of you both face-to-face and in writing regarding the words and feelings that I express in my Publisher’s columns is so positive and encouraging to me. Truly, this means more to me than mere words can ever possibly express. For this, I am both very touched….and very blessed. With the outstanding foundation that was established before me by former Press-Tribune Publisher (and current Specht Newspapers President and owner, David Specht), I feel as if we have accomplished so much as a newspaper during these last twelve months. Furthermore, I also realize that the best is yet to come….both for our newspaper and our community!

RandyOften times, I am asked “well, can you tell me how your role has changed since you have become the Publisher?” Having been with the Press-Tribune slightly over fourteen years now makes this question pretty easy to answer. There have been many role changes for me. However, in some ways, nothing has changed. The short answer is, I am now somewhat responsible (or at least involved) in most everything everything that happens here….from building maintenance and presentation/condition….. to the overall presentation and some of the content that appears in your newspaper. Needless to say, it spans the whole gamut and there are so many responsibilities and duties that regularly take place in between the two parameters that I mentioned in the previous sentence. In short, what a challenge, what an opportunity, what FUN!!!

When a milestone in my life occurs (and this is most certainly a milestone/lifetime event for me),

I spend much time reflecting. As such, I have been reflecting in regard to my one year anniversary as BPT Publisher for many weeks now. Furthermore, I also went back and read my first column as BPT Publisher, which appeared in BPT on July 30, 2014). In my column from last year, many things were mentioned regarding the challenges and opportunities that were ahead for me personally (as I saw them) and also the tremendous opportunities that were ahead for both our newspaper and our community. In this moment of reflection, I see that many of the items/events that I wrote about then have indeed been accomplished. And, as it goes with life, so many things are still yet to be accomplished. However, one thing is for sure, the positive direction and opportunities that are present at this time look even better and brighter for both our newspaper and our community!

As such, I can make you,the following promise. Our newspaper is totally dedicated and targeted each and every day toward you. We are also committed to bringing you both a fair and balanced approach in chronicling the news and events as they happen in our Bossier Parish community! Additionally, this is one of the most dedicated and talented staffs/teams that I have ever had the pleasure to be a part of. In short, our team makes this opportunity so exciting and so much fun!! The same can also be said for our readership audience. You make this opportunity so exciting and so much fun!! For this, we are all MOST thankful!

Indeed, what a sincere honor, pleasure and privilege it is for all of us to get to do what we do each and everyday for this community as your newspaper! I have to say, we have BIG and exciting plans for your newspaper both over the next twelve months and in the years ahead! As such, I am already looking forward to reflecting again one year from now. And, I am also tremendously excited about reflecting upon ALL of the tremendous events that we will then be able to talk about at that time in terms of what will have taken place both in Bossier City and in Bossier Parish! Let me say right now, I can hardly wait!

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

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The Senate District 36 seat, being vacated by term-limited Robert Adley, is drawing contenders.  Earlier this month state Rep. Henry Burns explained why he’d like to move to the Senate to replace Adley.

It’s likely that area voters are aware that Bossier City attorney Ryan Gatti has joined the race for the District 36 seat – his signs are visible all over north Bossier.  Today he share’s his reasons for running and how he sees the opportunity to represent the district.

“I’m running for office because as I’ve practiced law in this area for about 15 years, I have seen different issues come up that can be solved at the governmental level.  Unfortunately they’re not solved, so our Court system has to step in and do the work of the legislature.  When that happens, you have judges who are already overburdened trying to figure out problems and issues facing the citizenry that should be solved in another branch of the government.”

Gatti cited as an example the Louisiana oil and gas industry where issues arose concerning royalty payments and the size and shape of units; there was definitely a dispute between the oil and gas operators and the landowners.

“I sided with the landowners in that, and asked the members of the legislature to develop some safeguards for the landowners because you have somebody who owns a quarter acre of land, they can’t afford to hire an attorney and do that battle.  So I saw a creative way to fix that in the legislature…”

Gatti also recalled that in his work as lead counsel for the citizens evacuated from Doyline as a result of the Explo System’s abandoned M-6 propellant, “… We saw a lot of issues come up about just how state contracts are managed and different issues that could have been solved at the legislative branch.  It shouldn’t have taken an act of Congress to stop the open burn.  And what it took was regular citizens from all over Doyline getting together to stop the open burn… What we saw is a situation where there was a lack of leadership that turned into a grassroots effort that shut this down.”

Gatti said that experience gave him “a lot of faith and hope in the people that I’ll be representing – that I can call on them and say ‘hey, I’ve got an issue; can we form some committees and build some coalitions.  Is there something y’all see that I don’t see …’”

His lack of leadership concern was also directed to the last seven or eight years of legislative budget making and lawmakers’ handling of the Common Core issue.

“You know, we scream at Congress as Republicans for passing Obamacare and what they said: ‘we have to pass it so we’ll know what’s in it.’  And that’s really what happened with Common Core … So I say it’s wrong for anybody who calls himself a member of the Legislature to pass a law they haven’t read or to implement a program or stand silently by while someone implements a program that’s going to directly harm every family who has a mom, dad or grandparent who’s trying to raise a child in the public school system.”

Gatti has much praise for teachers and credits them, second only to his parents, with helping form “most of the milestones and accomplishments” he’s reached in his life.

And he promises open lines of communication with them – saying, “I expect them to call my cell phone … I’ll talk directly to any teacher that wants to text me, call me, e-mail me or talk to my wife.”

As far as the state budget, Gatti said, “If you spend more than you take in, you’re going to go broke … you don’t have to hire an accountant to learn that.  We’ve gotten really good at becoming a debtor state; we need to become a creditor state.”

Looking back at the last legislative session, Gatti said that most folks recognized that “this can was going to be kicked again,” but he believes that next year’s budget work will present opportunities for creative solutions.

“As a lawyer, I’ve stood up for people’s rights … It comes easy to me to do battle when someone is trying to take away the rights of one of my clients.  I do it with ethics.  I do it with efficiency.  And I do it with my client’s best interest at heart.  But I always do it with respect for the other party,” Gatti said.

“And in the legislature, I will continue to do the same thing.  I will build coalitions.  I don’t care what background someone has, how much money they have, what color they are, or what letter is by their name.  I will sit down with them because as Christian men and women, we have basic, fundamental rights that we all agree on.”

Gatti and wife Susan have been married for 19 years; they have four daughters.

Marty Carlson is a columnist for the BPT. She may be reached at martycarlson1218@gmail.com

“JDRF"