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Sean Green

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

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The Helping Hearts and 4H Club of Benton Elementary School, under the direction of Principal Norma Anderson, collected 1,084 pounds of food for the Benton UMC Table Food Ministries. They brought 823 canned goods and 261 pound of dry goods during the week of September 15, which will serve over 40 families in Benton. The Table Food Ministries partners with the Food Bank of NWLA to provide monthly food boxes and an Emergency Pantry that helps people who may not qualify immediately for the monthly program.

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Homecoming King: Hayden Kingfisher, Homecoming Queen: Meagan Crews, Football Sweetheart: Valerie Queen, Band Sweetheart: Alison Lane, ROTC Sweetheart: Destiny Leggett, Maid: Ashley Bennett, Maid: Caroline Billiott, Maid: Mary Kate Bozeman, Maid: Shelby Dillon, Maid: Ali Kelly, Maid: Alex Mitchell, Maid: Peyton Gosdin, Maid: Cami Trowbridge, Escort: Yu Chen, Escort: Austin Coco, Escort: Matt Pourteau, Escort: Kameron Eloph, Escort: Conner Craig, Escort: Nick Jenkins, Escort: Demetrius McAtee, Escort: William McKnight, Escort: Wesley Morse, Escort: Dakota Schudalla, Escort: Anthony Viscotti, Escort: Dante Williams

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Does your organization need funds for a gardening project?  The Northwest Louisiana Master Gardeners are proud to again offer grants for gardening projects in Caddo, Bossier, DeSoto, and Red River Parishes. 

Applications will be accepted October 1 – 31, 2014. Grants will be awarded to projects that promote beautification, provide horticultural education, showcase sustainable gardening practices, or enhance the quality and quantity of publicly accessible green spaces.  NWLA Master Gardeners want to fund projects that make a difference in the community and  involve collaboration among organizations. The NWLA Master Gardeners will accept grant applications from $300 to $5000.

Groups eligible for Community Grants include municipalities, government entities, schools, garden clubs, neighborhood associations, charitable non-profit organizations with current 501©(3) status, and faith-based organizations serving the general public on a non-denominational basis.  Applications will be accepted October 1 through October 31, 2014 with grants being awarded by December 31, 2014. The winning projects must be completed by the end of 2015.

Community Grant Applications, Rules, and Guidelines, can be found by going to http://www.lsuagcenter.com/NWLAMG and click on “Community Grants” on the right hand.

For more information, please contact the NWLAMG Community Grants Program at (318)564-1180 or (318)465-0000 or at www.nwlamggrants@gmail.com.

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Gov. Bobby Jindal, CSC executive John DeSimone and local officials broke ground on CSC’s 116,000-square-foot, next-generation technology center at the National Cyber Research Park in Bossier City today.

The project will create 800 new direct jobs over the next four years, as CSC becomes an anchor tenant of the 3,000-acre research park being developed by the Cyber Innovation Center, a not-for-profit research corporation. CSC selected Bossier City for the project in February 2014 following a competitive site-selection process of 134 national locations. In addition to the 800 new direct jobs, LED estimates the CSC project will result in 805 new indirect jobs, for a total of more than 1,600 new jobs in the Northwest Region. A landmark project, CSC’s next-generation IT center in Bossier City will rank as one of the largest technology projects in Louisiana history.

“CSC is the world’s premier next-generation IT infrastructure, service and solutions company,” CIC President Craig Spohn said. “Their decision to invest and locate in Bossier City is remarkable on many levels. The opportunity for which I am most grateful is the ability to retain our best and brightest graduates in valuable jobs located here in the state and particularly here in Bossier. Historically, we lost this important workforce component to other states due to a lack of meaningful and satisfying employment opportunities. In addition to hiring recent graduates, we also have the ability to attract some of those forced to relocate out-of-state – back home – and demonstrate to others relocating here why we are so proud to call Northwest Louisiana home. This is the realization of the vision established by the Jindal Administration and the Bossier City and Bossier Parish governments. There is exceptional value and goodness for all that are involved.”

CSC’s technology center emerged from an innovative, public-private partnership that will include expanded higher education programs to build a next-generation workforce in cloud computing, cybersecurity, big data and application modernization. To support the project, a higher education initiative funded by the State of Louisiana and led by Louisiana Tech University will dramatically expand the number of graduates in computer science and related fields in the region, such as Louisiana Tech’s Cyber Engineering Program. The center – which by 2017 is expected to have a total payroll of about $39 million – will employ a broad range of college graduates and experienced professionals with backgrounds in computer science and related fields.

“Today, as we break ground on this historic project, we are proud of the collaborative effort put forth by all of our local, regional and state partners to bring this 800-job project to Louisiana. CSC is one of the leading technology companies in the world, and this project will continue our economic growth and advance career opportunities for the people of Louisiana for years to come,” said Jindal.

CSC already is operating in a 40,000-square-foot temporary space within the research park’s Cyber Innovation Center, and the company has filled more than half of its 192-job, first-year hiring target since announcing the project in February. The new facility is scheduled for completion in the second quarter of 2016. The permanent technology center housing CSC employees and a data center will accelerate the development of the National Cyber Research Park.

Founded in 1959 as Computer Sciences Corporation, CSC is a global provider of technology-enabled business services and solutions, with approximately 76,000 employees and revenue of $13.0 billion for the year ended July 4, 2014. The company’s successes include modernizing one of the world’s largest supply chains and streamlining logistics for a major branch of the U.S. Armed Forces; designing and implementing a precision dispatching system for a major railway; managing the world’s largest insurance application services program; reducing costs and improving performance of IT systems for a global chemical and energy client; and implementing a new supply chain management system for one of the world’s largest manufacturers. In Louisiana, CSC’s integrated technology center will be engaged in many similar initiatives, helping clients advance their operations with transformative technology solutions.

“We chose Bossier City for the willingness of the state, city and local educational community to fully partner on developing a next-generation IT workforce, and look forward to building on the success we’ve achieved early on,” said DeSimone, vice president and general manager of CSC’s enterprise services group. “Breaking ground on our permanent facility marks a significant milestone in our goal to lead the IT industry with powerful, cutting-edge technologies and to anchor a future technology corridor in Louisiana.”

The State will provide $14 million in funding over 10 years for expanded higher education programs designed primarily to increase the number of annual graduates in computer science and related fields. At least 65 percent of these funds will be provided for the expansion of such programs at Louisiana Tech University, which plans to quadruple its total undergraduate degrees awarded annually in computer science, computer information systems and cyber engineering over the next five to six years, not including advanced degrees. That growth is anticipated to place the Louisiana Tech University computer science program among the Top 20 nationally for the number of bachelor’s degrees in computer science awarded annually by an engineering school, with a No. 1 national ranking anticipated for cyber engineering.

“Louisiana Tech congratulates CSC on this exciting milestone and looks forward to many years of high-impact collaborations with them in their new north Louisiana home,” Louisiana Tech President Les Guice said. “We already have teams of people working closely together to develop new opportunities for our students, our graduates and our region.  In partnership with the Cyber Innovation Center, Louisiana Tech and CSC will continue to create opportunities making north Louisiana a destination for high-tech talent,” Louisiana Tech President Les Guice said.

LED first began cultivating a potential project with CSC executives in May 2013 and discussions among LED, CIC and CSC about this specific project began to advance in August 2013. To secure the project, LED offered CSC a customized incentive package that includes a $9.6 million performance-based grant to reimburse relocation and recruitment expenses related to the project. CSC will receive the services of LED FastStart®, ranked as the No. 1 state workforce training program in the U.S. for five years in a row. CSC also is expected to utilize Louisiana’s Digital Interactive Media and Software Development Incentive, as well as the Quality Jobs Program for positions that do not qualify for the software incentive.

“Bossier City is proud to welcome CSC as the next tenant to the National Cyber Research Park,” said Bossier City Mayor Lorenz Walker. “As our city’s newest business partner, CSC will not only provide substantial job creation and economic development well into the future, but will also play a significant role in putting Bossier City and Louisiana on the map as leaders in cyber technology.”

“This outstanding new facility is a significant addition to our National Cyber Research Park campus,” said President Doug Rimmer of the Bossier Parish Police Jury. “CSC represents the leading edge of the next big wave of technology-based growth and development for Bossier Parish. Our investment in the Cyber Innovation Center and support of the Air Force’s Global Strike Command initiative – coupled with the continued expansion of workforce development resources at BPCC and Louisiana Tech – is paying huge dividends now and into Bossier’s very bright future. We fully expect more high-tech firms to soon join CSC in taking advantage of the positive business climate and excellent family environment that Bossier Parish offers.”

CSC will lease space for its center in a new 116,000-square-foot building to be constructed in the National Cyber Research Park in Bossier City near the existing CIC building. The building will be funded by the State of Louisiana ($29 million), while related data-center infrastructure (for example, backup power generators, uninterrupted power supplies) will be funded by Bossier City and Bossier Parish governments ($5 million each); the building and data-center infrastructure will be owned by the city and parish and managed by the not-for-profit CIC. CSC will make a substantial investment in data-center equipment and other computer technology that will ramp up with employment.

In addition to providing 40,000 square feet of temporary operating space for CSC, the Cyber Innovation Center is supporting the development of the new technology center and managing the facility after its construction at the National Cyber Research Park. CSC anticipates completing the construction of the technology center in the second quarter of 2015. The research park’s proximity to Bossier Parish Community College, adjacent to the park on U.S. Highway 80, and Barksdale Air Force Base and its Global Strike Command, also nearby, will provide CSC with partners for the development of a next-generation workforce.

 

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The 14th annual Bossier City Family Fun Day will be held on Saturday, Sept. 27, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Charlotte Mitchell Park located at 1518 Cox St. in Bossier City.

Each year for the last 14 years the Housing Authority of Bossier City, with the support of corporate and local sponsors, designates one day a year to promote family fun activities to the poorest areas of Bossier City. JC Fodale Energy Services is the biggest corporate sponsor, with SWEPCO and Pepsi also among the many corporate sponsors.

This year JC Fodale Energy Services has provided a cash donation as well as all the food and will be bringing JC Fodale’s cook trailer. The company is planning to feed approximately 700 to 750 people hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries and ice cream bars. The free event will also include children’s games sponsored by Northpoint Community Church, face painting by CiCi the clown, train rides and inflatable slides. In addition, Robinson Film Festival is showing the movie “Frozen” after dark.

Event information is available at: http://www.sbfunguide.com/events/details/6085/Bossier-Citys-Family-Fun-Day-2014

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Frmer Bossier Parish Sheriff Larry Deen and two owners of Blakey Auto Plex, LLC, were indicted by a federal grand jury today.

Deen, 66, of Benton, Clinton E. Blakey, 40, of Shreveport, and Clifton D. Blakey, 35, of Benton, each were indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit federal program theft, federal program theft and failure to file IRS Tax Form 8300 according to U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley.

The indictment alleges that Deen conspired with Clinton Blakey and Clifton Blakey, co-owners of Blakey Auto Plex, LLC, to retain control and gain ownership of a white four-door 2009 Chevrolet Suburban LTZ that was owned by the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office in January 2012. They are also accused of attempting to unlawfully enrich themselves by undervaluing the vehicle at $21,375 when it was traded in to Blakey by the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office in May 2012.

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Hope Spaw was a sixth grader the first time she saw the Pride of Pantherland marching band perform.

“I was amazed at what they could do,” she said. “I told myself I could never do it, but I knew I really wanted to be part of that group.”

Like Spaw, Joshua Henry was blown away by the group’s powerful performance.

“My brother was in the band so I would go to the [football] games and watch them,” Henry explained. “It always looked like fun, but then they would hit the really big notes and I knew I wanted to be part of that.”

Little did they know that they would, in fact, become part of the group, leading the band as drum majors and carrying on the band’s tradition of excellence as seniors.

“There’s a high standard of excellence to meet,” Spaw said. “As head drum major, I ultimately want to serve the band with the gifts I have and also be a positive influence to others so they can be the best they can be.”

The 194 member marching band continues to build on the legacy that all started four decades ago.

IMG_2463The history of Parkway’s band program dates back to 1963 when Frank McLain Hess was asked to start a music program. Mark Minton, current director of bands at Parkway High School, said the program has been a staple in south Bossier ever since.

Minton, now in his 18th year as director, said the group not only strives to continue the tradition of excellence, but improve on all elements of the program each year.

“I am extremely proud of them. They have a fantastic work ethic,” Minton said. “I’m very pleased with the direction this group is heading.”

Members of the Pride of Pantherland have been working hard through the summer on their halftime show, El Toro, in preparation for the 2014 marching competition season. The show is one that, Minton said, was chosen because it highlights the strengths of the group.

“The Latin theme really plays well with the talent we have this year,” Minton said. “We have a particularly strong senior class and we have strengths in the trumpets, french horns and woodwinds area. Due to that, a Latin show lends itself to those sections.”

Henry said the show is a “throwback” to the 2007 marching band season, one that he’s excited about.

“It’s a Latin show so it’s high energy and in your face,” he said. “It’s a great show, but it’s also a tough show. It will be awesome to see it all come together with the kinks worked out.”

The Pride of Pantherland participates in numerous competitions throughout the year. This fall, the marching band will compete at the Northwestern State University marching contest and the McNeese State University marching contest in November and will host the Parkway Marching Contest on Saturday, Oct. 18, at Preston Crownover Stadium in Bossier City. The annual Parkway contest not only attracts local marching groups, but bands from as far as south Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas.

In the spring, the Parkway concert band will be traveling to Tennessee for a competition. Spaw said she’s most looking forward to seeing the band grow throughout the season and seeing the group’s full potential shine through.

The term she used for it was ‘delayed gratification.’

“You don’t necessarily see the end results now, but you continue to work hard towards your goal because you know the benefits will be there,” Spaw explained. “It will all pay off in the end.”

Minton feels like the group will do well this competition season. He attributes the group’s success to a hardworking, dedicated group of students and staff as well as a supportive south Bossier community.

“Our mission is to promote excellence through unity, hard work and determination,” Minton said. “I feel very blessed by God that I am be able to work with this great group of kids every day. I am also very thankful for the support from this school, the school administrators and the community. It’s an honor for me to do this.”

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The Bossier City Council has approved an additional $1 million in funds for the Walker Place Park in south Bossier.

The project was initially slated to receive $1 million from the City of Bossier City. However, Bossier City public information officer Mark Natale said the additional funds were requested in order to make improvements to the project’s original design.

“The thought was to really do the park right,” Natale explained. “Essentially what the additional funds will do is widen the walking trail from eight feet to 10 feet, make the restrooms larger and install sufficient lighting.”

The park, which will be located on 15-acres of property just north of the CenturyLink Center, will now cost approximately $2.2 million and feature two ponds, an overlook area, a walking trail, restroom and other amenities. Natale said funds for the additional $1 million will come from the Riverboat Gaming Capital Project.

“The city just basically wanted to do it right. Not only for the folks who live down there, but for everyone in the city to enjoy,” Natale added. Both the park and an elevated walkway are part of a lawsuit settlement between the U.L. Coleman Company and the City of Bossier City. The company filed the lawsuit against the city in 2008 when the City Council denied a request from the real estate developer to grant access from the parkway to a planned apartment complex.

The parties reached a settlement agreement in December 2012. The initial agreement related to the park calls for the company to pay for the design of the park, with the city paying approximately $1 million for the construction of the park and also the construction cost of the elevated walkway.

The elevated walkway being designed will link the park to the west side of Arthur Teague Parkway and the Red River. The walkway will essentially be a convenience and safety feature for walkers and cyclists to safely cross the Arthur Teague Parkway without having to cross vehicular traffic.

The park is bounded on the south by the north parking lot of the Cent Center, the parkway on the west, Walker Place on the north and Cent Center Drive on the east.

Construction on the park and walkway has not started. Natale said they anticipate the project going out to bid in the coming months with construction to follow.

“When it’s all said and done, it should be a pretty nice addition to that area,” Natale said.

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November through February is the prime season for planting hardy trees, shrubs and ground covers in Louisiana. So now is an excellent time to assess your landscape situation and begin to make plans.

Landscaping is a great way to give your home a beautiful appearance as well as make outdoor spaces function usefully for the family. The benefits of a well-planned landscape are many, from providing shade, privacy and color, to correcting drainage problems and creating outdoor living areas. Beautiful landscaping increases the value of your home.

Most gardeners should have no trouble dealing with small projects themselves. Planting a tree, designing a flower garden or planting beds around a deck are good do-it-yourself projects. Designing an overall landscape, including drainage, traffic patterns, use areas, outdoor living areas and major plantings, requires careful study, planning and a good sense of design. However, this is not necessarily beyond the ability of many home gardeners. After all, most of us do a decent job designing a home interior that is attractive and comfortable.

Help is available for those who need it. Books on home landscaping provide an excellent source of information. Carefully studying one or two of these books will either convince you that you can do it yourself or that you may need to consult with a professional.

To do the job right when designing a landscape yourself, think about the style you want and make sure you determine your needs first. Do you want a free-flowing, natural garden or something more formal? Is a play area for the kids important? Do you enjoy tinkering in your garden, trimming and planning next year’s flower beds, or would you prefer a lower-maintenance garden that minimizes general care?

Study your site carefully so you can match plants to the growing conditions they need. And make sure you choose plants that will mature at the right size for their location and will thrive in your area. The LSU AgCenter has excellent pamphlets and information available at parish offices and online to help you select appropriate plants.

If you decide you need to seek professional help, you have several options.

You can talk to horticulturists at your local nurseries or garden centers. They can answer questions you have on choosing the right plants, how big they grow and the growing conditions they prefer. Some nurseries have individuals on staff who can even help you develop a design or give you feedback on some of the ideas you have.

If you have a good idea of what you want to do but need some help refining the details, licensed landscape architects can often be hired as a consultants for an hourly fee. A licensed landscape architect could also be hired to draw up a complete design for an agreed fee. You may then hire their firm or a licensed landscape horticulturist to install the plan – or install it yourself.

A landscape horticulturist is basically licensed to install landscapes. They can, however, also help you develop a landscape plan, but only in a package deal that includes the cost of the plants and installation.

Before you hire a professional, make sure you check their credentials. Landscape horticulturists and landscape architects must be licensed by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry in order to conduct business in Louisiana.

Also, ask for references and to see pictures of previous jobs they have done. Try to interview several individuals before making your decision. The best way to establish a productive working relationship is to find an experienced professional whom you trust and who understands what you want to accomplish.

Get a mutually acceptable, written agreement, including a firm price, everything that the price includes, a work schedule and a completion date. Be specific about what you expect and when you expect it.

Remember, the landscape plan and the installation are two different parts of the process. You could pay a professional landscape architect to create the plan, and then install the design yourself in sections. This will spread the cost of plant materials and construction over time, making it easier to budget. The advantage is that even if the installation is done in sections, it is guided by a comprehensive plan that creates a unified, attractive and functional landscape when it’s finished.

So if you’ve been thinking about adding a shade tree, planting privacy hedge, landscaping around the patio, dressing up the front of your house or even doing extensive landscaping, the time to start planning is now. Have your decisions and plans in place for November, and you will be ready to plant during the best time of the year.

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