Town of Jonesboro earmarked to receive 1.65 million through American Rescue Plan Act

The Town of Jonesboro is set to receive 1.65 million dollars from the Federal Government under the American Rescue Plan Act. Among the $1.9 trillion worth of federal COVID-19 relief in the newly signed Act is $350 billion for “Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.” At roughly one-fifth of the bill’s total cost, these funds will be deployed to state and local governments in two tranches (the first within 60 days and the second a year after that initial allotment) to mitigate the fiscal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

For many cities and counties, the American Rescue Plan’s (ARP) state and local funds are not just a $350 billion lifeline; they represent the largest positive fiscal jolt to their budgets in decades. Now, a scramble is underway to determine how best to deploy the money. The decisions made in the coming weeks— and over the next year regarding the second tranche of funding—will determine whether cities merely enjoy a brief stimulus or seed a new trajectory of inclusive economic growth.

“We are excited to be receiving this money. It is a tremendous blessing and something that will benefit each and every resident of  Town of Jonesboro,” said Jonesboro Mayor Leslie Thompson. “This along with the other grant money that we have received or will be receiving allows us to finally remedy some problems that have plagued us for years due to a lack of funds.”

Waters walk-off in extra innings completes incredible eight run Weston rally

There are games that people might talk about for a few days. Then there are those that may be brought up a week or two later but then there are those like Weston’s 10-9, extra inning victory over Class 2A Many this past Thursday that will be remembered forever. Especially by Caleb Waters, who with two outs, drove a 2-1 fastball deep to left center…. All eyes went heavenward. Every Weston fan leaped to their feet. Going! Going! GONE! The old adage of the “Thrills of victory and the agony of defeat” could never be more characterized as the Wolves dugout broke out into pandemonium as they rushed the field to congratulate their hero while the Many players stood on the field  dumbfounded at the turn of events. 

Many had to feel like they would get to head back home early after taking an 8-0 lead after three and a half innings. After all, they had just three days before they “mercy ruled”  Weston 12-1. You couldn’t have blamed Weston either if they had just played out the string, gave up one more run and packed it up to play another day. Instead what local fans and the Weston coaching staff learned was that this Weston team has no quit in them. 

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of the guys for continuing to fight and believe in themselves.” said WHS head man Jacob Otwell . “Our guys have a lot of character. They will fight with everything they have on every pitch and every inning, no matter what the scoreboard says. I am so happy for them to see their determination get rewarded this way.”

The Wolves earned the right to “walk-off” with thewin by scoring five in the bottom of the fourth, adding a run in the sixth and forcing extra innings with two in the bottom of the seventh. Three straight, one out,  walks by Braden Theriot, Tayt Culpepper and spot starter, Blake Graham set up a Landon Roberts ground out RBI that got Weston finally on the books. Kade Shirley followed with a single, Bryce Zehr  laced a double and after Waters walked and Davis Tolar reached on an error and suddenly the score was 8-5….Hello Houston, we have a GAME! Shirley singled and scored on a hit by Tolar in the sixth. Still down by two in their at bat of regulation, Tayt Culpepper doubled and scored on Roberts single, who moved to third after Shirley’s third hit of the game and a walk to Zehr. Water’s drove in Roberts with a ground out sending the game into “extras” setting the stage for his ninth inning heroics. Not to be forgotten was the 6 1/3 innings of work on the mound in relief by Cooper Delaney who didn’t allow an earned run. The victory snapped a three game skid and improved the Wolves top 5-4 while Many fell to 12-8.

123456789RHE
Many (12-8)2231000019142
Weston (5-4)00005120210123

WP – Delaney, LP – Evans
2B – Delaney, Zehr, Culpepper
HR – Waters
RBI – Waters 3, Roberts 2, Zehr, Shirley, Tolar
SB – Theriot 2, Tolar, Culpepper

D’Arbonne Woods sweeps series from Tigers

It has been a season of streaks to date for JHHS. First they lost two, followed by three straight wins and now four straight losses after D’Arbonne Woods blasted the Tigers three times in a row 16-1, 22-6 and 15-0 over two days in the district 1-2A opener for both teams. Errors and and walks led to the thrashing administrated by DWC in game one and three as the Tigers committed 12 boots and gave up 19 free passes that led to the combined 31 runs allowed. J-H took a 1-0 lead in game one when Allen Tew reached first after striking out on a pitch that eluded the catcher and went to second when Drew Davis got plunked. Chandler Harvey sacrificed Tew to third who came home on a beautiful bunt by Logan Smith. In the final contest JHHS managed just one hit which was a double by Xavier Atkins, who also stole a base, while DWC scored three in four straight innings to take the easy win. There were no results listed for the 22-6 game. The three losses continued the streak of being “ten run” ruled in all six setbacks this season.

Game One12345RHE
JHHS (3-4, 0-1)10000157
DWC (9-9, 1-0)7045x1691

WP – n/a, LP – Vines (1-2)
RBI – Smith

Game 312345RHE
DWC (11-9, 3-0)333321490
JHHS (3-6, 0-3)00000015

WP – n/a, LP – Malone
2B – Atkins
SB – Atkins

Quitman holds off Claiborne Christian rally attempt

The Wolverines almost “grabbed defeat out of the jaws of victory” but managed to hang on for the 5-4 victory after being up by five after five innings. It looked like it would be an easy win early on as the Wolverines got eight hits in the first three innings to take a 5-0 lead. Jordan Vail (2B) and Kyler West got two each and Luke Morgan, who reached base all four times, and Cam Hollis drew a walk and got a hit. Logan Ponder, Joshua Smith and Ian Tilley also got a hit. Then it was like the Wolverines entered the twi-light zone as strange things began to take place especially in the final inning. 

“Just in the last inning alone I felt like we were going to win it three times and lose it four,” said a relieved Joe Lockhart who has led Quitman to a 12-5 record and wins in seven of their last eight gamers. “We made some uncharacteristic plays but give the guys credit they hung in there to get the win.”

Up by a 5-1 margin, the Wolverines gave up a walk, an error and a hit. The with two outs a ball was popped up between short and third that fell harmlessly to the ground as the two fielders collided with each other. The tying run was on third after a hit a batter and two more walks but Jordan Vail came in to coax a weak grounder to short and earn the save. Ian Tilley got the victory after allowing just three hits over five strong innings of work and helped his cause with two RBI. Vail led the offensive attack with three hits.

1234567RHE
QHS (12-5)20300005113
CCHS (5-9)0000013452

WP – Tilley, LP – n/a
2B – Vail
RBI – Tilley 2, West 2, Smith
SB – Morgan 2, Hollis, Ponder, Vail, West

Lady Wolves get offensive to win three of four

Maybe Weston just needed the temperature to warm up some. It may be getting warmer outside these days but it hasn’t been near as hot as the Lady Wolves who scored 60 runs in four games played over three straight days to win three of four and improve their record to 7-14 on the season. The offensive onslaught started with Weston whipping Simsboro 21-10 to secure first year head coach Kim Shows first ever district victory. This was followed by Mallory Tolar turning in her finest pitching performance of the year in a 19-2 victory over Union in the first game of the Quitman Tourney. Eleven errors led to a 17-6 setback to Hicks but Weston rebounded in fine style by outlasting Class 5A Byrd out of Shreveport 14-11 thanks to five RBI by Jacie Ledford in the contest that the two teams combined for 12 runs in the first inning. 

The offensive starts were numerous with Macie Hall leading the way with eight hits, including two doubles over the four games while knocking in seven and scoring six. Emma Kate McBride stroked a double and a triple as part of her seven hits, scored eight, knocked in five and stole three bases. Mary Catherine Hay also stroked seven hits and hit two doubles, scored six and had three RBI. Audry Welch roped a pair of two baggers, scored eight and drove in six while Alaina Trosclair (2B, 4RS) and Jacie Ledford (2 2B, HR, 7 RS, 6 RBI and Mallory Tolar (3 2B, 6RBI, 6RS) got four hits each. Lexi Barmore got three hits comprising of a double, triple and a Home Run, scored eight times and knocked in seven. Taylor Chatham also got three hits and scored six runs while knocking in a pair. All in all the Lady Wolves tallied 46 hits, 14 doubles, two triples and home runs that led to 60 runs and 44 RBI. Ansley Aldy, Barmore and Tolar got pitching victories.

1234567RHE
Weston (7-14)703201114164
Byrd (3-15)53102001182

WP – Aldy (1-2), LP – n/a
2B – Hall, Hay, Ledford, McBride, Tolar
3B – Barmore
HR – Ledford
RBI – Ledford 5, Barmore 2, Chatham 2, Tolar 2, McBride, Welch

1234567RHE
Hicks (11-7)62310231775
Weston (6-14)21200106911

WP – n/a, LP – Barmore (1-1)
2B – Hall, Welch
RBI – Hall, Hay, Tolar, Welch

12345RHE
Weston (6-13)1554419111
Union (4-7)10010226

WP – Tolar (2-2), LP – n/a
2B – Tolar 2, Barmore, Hay, Trosclair, Welch
3B – McBride
RBI – Welch 4, McBride 3, Barmore 2, Hall, Trosclair
SB – McBride

12345RHE
Simsboro (9-8, 0-3)231221017
Weston (5-13, 1-2)31111321100

WP – Tolar (1-2), LP – n/a
2B – Ledford
HR – Barmore
RBI – Hall 5, Barmore 3, Hay 2, Irvin, Ledford, McBride
SB – McBride 2

Lady Wolverines goes undefeated in own tourney

Three Quitman pitchers allowed just eight hits and two runs in three games to lift the Lady Wolverines to their sixth win in the last seven games and Class B best 19th against just 6 losses which is good for a #5 ranking. The Tourney started with Cali Deal striking out 12 and giving up just three hits to Winnfield, who entered as the #8 team in Class 2A to improve her record to 9-4. In 75.2 innings Deal has now struck out 114 batters and has an ERA of 1.388. Skylar Hall had an RBI triple and scored a run to lead the offense. Madeline Vail chipped in with a hit and an RBI and Madison Chaplin stole 2 bases to take over the team, classification and state lead with 24. Summerfield, ranked #2 in Class C was no match as Quitman sent 15 batters to the plate and scored 12 in the first inning in the 16-0 whitewash. Maggie Guyotte had a pair of doubles, scored twice and knocked in three to lead the offense. Maddie Kaye Brymer and Deal also scored twice and had 3RBI, while Chaplin scored three runs. Brymer got the win by striking out six in three innings and not allowing but two hits and no runs. Madison Chaplin knocked in three and stole two more bases and Cali Deal had three hits, scored three runs and stole three bases to pave the way to the 11-1 victory over Class 5A Byrd. Skylar Hall also had three hits and Madeline Vail got a pair of hits, scored twice, stole 3 bases and had 2 RBI. As a team Quitman stole 14 baes as all nine starters swiped at least one base. Maggie Guyotte got the win with a three hitter to improve to 6-2 on the year. 

123456RHE
Byrd (3-15)000001133
Quitman (19-6)30402211142

WP – Guyotte (6-2), LP – n/a
2B – Deal
3B – Guyotte
RBI – Chaplin 2, Vail 2, Deal, Guyotte, Hall, Huckaby
SB – Deal 3, Vail 3, Chaplin 2, Brymer, Guyotte, Hall, Huckaby, Naron, Williams

123RHE
Summerfield (11-10)000023
Quitman (18-6)124x1660

WP – Brymer (3-0), LP – n/a
2B – Guyotte 2, Deal, Brymer
RBI – Brymer 3, Deal 3, Guyotte 3, Chaplin, Hall, Naron, Williams
SB – Deal 2, Naron, Bell, Brymer, Vail

1234567RHE
Quitman (17-6)1100010352
Winnfield (13-7)0001000130

WP – Deal (9-4), LP – n/a
3B – Hall
RBI – Hall, Vail
SB – Chaplin 2, Vail 

Lady Tigers still searching for initial victory

It was hoped that #13 would be the lucky number but the search continues for Jonesboro-Hodge to find their first win of the year after the Lady Tigers fell 25-9 to Red River out of Coushatta. The good news is that they are playing better but sadly the results aren’t reflecting it yet. Kaylee Ethridge and Jessica Bradford scored two runs each and Kyla Hayes, Amber Melton, A’Brianna Paggett and Ja’Kaja Phillips reached base in both at bats. 

Quitman woman files sexual harrassment lawsuit against Jackson Parish Police Jury

The Jackson Parish Police Jury faces allegations in the Western Louisiana District Court for allowing alleged sexual harassment and fostering a gender-based hostile work environment, according to documents filed on March 8.

Plaintiff Vanessa Giambrone of Quitman, hired in 2018 as an operator, alleges that she endured daily verbal and physical sexual harassment from nine Jackson Parish police employees: Giambrone claims that the men made repeated lewd, derogatory and obscene comments and called her names. The plaintiff further alleges that no employee of the defendants in a supervisory position made an effort to stop the conduct or discipline the male employees but instead told to “deal with it the best way she could.”

After her formal complaints, Giambrone alleges that the harassment escalated in retaliation to the point where she requested medical leave in April 2019 for treatment of extreme stress levels and hypertension. She claims she was then terminated without any further process or discussion. The Jackson Parish Police Jury is accused of violating the Civil Rights Act and discrimination. She is requesting compensatory damages and a jury trial. Giambrone is represented by Downer, Jones, Marino & Wilhite of Shreveport.

When asked about the allegations, the Police Jury released the following statement.

“The Parish cannot comment in detail regarding ongoing litigation, but can state that Ms. Giambrone’s allegations were investigated and the Parish responded appropriately. Even though she did not report personally experiencing any offensive conduct, the anti-discrimination and retaliation policies in place were reinforced to all employees and ongoing training on these issues continued. The Parish takes seriously its commitment to maintaining a non-discriminatory workplace and will continue to do so.

 

 

Tigers, Lady Wolverines have “Field” day against Quitman Invitational competition

Jonesboro-Hodge and the Lady Wolverines of Quitman had a “field” day against a solid field to win the 2021 Quitman Invitational’s boys and girls divisions. The Tigers outpointed closest competitor Winnfield by a 134 – 129.5 margin with Simsboro coming in third with 101 points. Host Quitman was 8th with 19 and Weston was 9th with 17 points. The Lady Wolverines scored 99 points to come in 17 points better than district 2B rival Simsboro, who was two points ahead of St. Mary’s. Jonesboro-Hodge came in 5th with 44 points, while Weston finished in 10th with 20.  

Boys Division: Jonesboro-Hodge won five first’s, two second’s and a third place in the field including a “double up” of 1st and 2nd in the Long Jump and Triple Jump. The Tigers also scored twice in the High Jump, Shot Put and Discus. On the Track if it weren’t for a bad exchange in the 4×200, the Tigers would have swept the three relays but still finished with two first’s and a second. Two scores in the110 hurdles and the 400 meter was also beneficial. 

Individually for the Tigers, Datre’vien Bowie showed his incredible versatility by finishing with gold medals in the high jump;, triple jump and as a member of the 4×400 relay team. La’Javion Nichols, Jameon Tate, Davion McGuire and Justin Calahan took two golds in the 4×100 and 4×200 with Calahan and McGuire adding a one, two finish in the long jump. Chase Bryant took a first and a third place finish in the shot put and discus and Kolby Mitchell won the Javelin. Dillon Pardue of Weston won the 3200 meter run to become the only other individual event winner from Jackson Parish.  For complete results including times and participants in each event for boys and girls go to: https://www.directathletics.com/results/track/67809.html

Final team standing in boys division 

SchoolScore
Jonesboro-Hodge134
Winnfield129.5
Simsboro101
Choudrant48
Converse44
St. Mary23
D’Arbonne Woods22
Quitman 19
Weston17
Summerfield15.5

Girls Division: Quitman only had three first place finishes and two second’s  but their overall team strength that saw the Lady Wolverines score points in 13 of the 17 events earned more than enough points to walk away with the easy victory on their home track. Five times QHS scored twice in an event including a “double up” one-two finish in the Pole Vault and a 2nd and 3rd in the 300 hurdles. There was also a first and fifth in the long jump and a 3rd and 5th in the 100 hurdles and 3200 meters. 

Bethany Leach led the way with a first in the long jump and third’s in the triple jump and 4×200 relays for 22 points. Clara Womack also scored 22 in four event including taking gold in the Pole Vault. Maddie Giddens won bronze in both hurdle events, ran a leg for the 4th place 4×100 team and came in 5th in the long jump to score in four events.  Summer Grillette also came up big with a second place finish in the pole vault and the 300 hurdles and 5th in the 100 hurdles. Faith Odom grabbed two fifths and a third in the distance races and  Jamine Pittman won the Javelin. 

JHHS was paced by Xabrianna Jackson who had a first place finishes in the triple jump and a second and fifth in the 4×200 and 4×100 relays. Zymean Hoggro ran a leg on the winning 4×400 relays, the 2nd place 4×200 relays, 4th place in the long jump and scored points as a member of the 5th place 4×100 relays. Laila Johnson scored in all three relay races and Yahzmynne Andrews was a part of the first and second relay race winners  Jalexia Claridy won second in the shot put and fourth in the discus for Weston.

Final team standing in girls division

SchoolScore
Quitman 99
Simsboro82
St. Mary80
Choudrant45
D’Arbonne Woods44
JHHS44
Converse42
Summerfield40
Winnfield 21
Weston20
Lakeview16

Jackson Parish man arrested for improper behavior with a juvenile

(Natchitoches Parish Journal) On March 3rd, Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Detectives arrested a 51-year-old Jackson Parish man in connection with a 6-month investigation into allegations of inappropriate behavior with a juvenile almost 19 years ago.

In September of 2020, Detectives assigned to the NPSO Criminal Investigations Division received a complaint from the the victim of alleged sex abuse that occurred back in the year of 2002-2003 in north Natchitoches Parish. During the investigation, detectives interviewed several potential witnesses and collected statements concerning the alleged incident that allegedly occurred while the victim was attending church gatherings at a north Natchitoches Parish church.

Detectives obtained sufficient evidence and probable cause to obtain criminal warrants signed by a 10th Judicial District Court Judge for the arrest of James M. McCrory. On March 3, 2021, James M. McCrory, 51, of Quitman, La. turned himself in to Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Detectives. He was then placed under arrest, transported and booked into the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center, charged with 3-counts of Indecent Behavior with a Juvenile.

McCrory was released on a $30,000 bond set by a 10th Judicial District Court Judge pending his court appearance with a protective order issued that he have no contact with the victim, do not possess any firearms, must not possess or consume any alcoholic beverages, or unauthorized prescription medications or illegal controlled dangerous substances and
refrain from criminal activity.

 

Jackson Parish to receive federal funding to reduce flood risks

BATON ROUGE, La. — On Tuesday, Governor John Bel Edwards announced $163 million in federal funding for 15 state projects designed to reduce flood risks. Two Northeast Louisiana parishes will receive a portion of that funding including Jackson Parish, which will receive $2.7 million for Caney Lake flood surcharge management. This will include modifications made to the existing dam and spillway structure to provide additional management gates, which will allow lake drawdowns in advance of forecasted events to provide additional storm storage within the lake basin.

“The 2016 floods were a devastating reminder that Louisiana’s historical approach to managing flood risk no longer works,” Gov. Edwards said. “The Louisiana Watershed Initiative is bringing together local, regional and state agencies to improve regional watershed management through collaboration and coordination. This approach will leverage accurate science and data to identify projects for funding that significantly reduce flood risk. We are thrilled to begin putting these federal dollars to work and will continue to launch watershed projects and programs as quickly and effectively as possible to benefit all of Louisiana.”

To learn more about these projects, click here.

Quitman High to receive energy-efficient grant from Louisiana Public Service Commissioner

MONROE, LA. – Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell is awarding more nearly $500,000.00 in grants to local governments and parish school systems in multiple Northeast and Northcentral Louisiana parishes to promote energy efficiency. One of the recipients is Quitman High School who will receive $70,559.00 The grant will fund installation of high-efficiency, LED lights in the school.PSC_Seal-165

“These improvements will lower electric bills by thousands of dollars for these institutions,” Campbell said.

The LPSC Energy Efficiency program for public entities and political subdivisions is an offshoot of the commission’s “Quick Start” Energy Efficiency program, which has helped residential and commercial utility customers lower their power consumption across Louisiana since 2013. Participating utilities are SWEPCO, Entergy and CLECO.

“Energy Efficiency reduces energy costs, improves building comfort and preserves our environment,” Campbell said. “Every dollar that our local governments and public bodies save on their electric bills is a dollar that can help them improve service to the public in other ways.”

The recipients of Campbell’s 2021 efficiency grants for public institutions in Northeast Louisiana are:
• Franklin Parish Library; $87,450.00
• Town of Bastrop: $248,920.88
• Jackson Parish School Board: $70,559.00
• Lincoln Parish School Board: $76,344.00

Per School Superintendent, David Claxton,  the grant was just one of several applied for by the Jackson Parish School Board.

“We applied for each of our schools to receive some of this grant money,” said Claxton. “We are grateful that at least Quitman High School got chosen but we will continue to work for grant money for all of our schools. 

Jackson Federation of Teachers and School Employees give 500 books to local schools

In honor of March being National Reading Month, the Jackson Federation of Teachers and School Employees (JFT-SE) donated 500 books to Jackson Parish Elementary and Middle Schools. The Federation’s local chapter President, Brenda Simmons and LFT Representative, Charlotte Crawley, also visited with Jackson Parish School Board Members and Superintendent David Claxton.

“We hope these books will promote reading and student literacy in our schools,” said Simmons. “The students of Jackson Parish are our future. The love of reading is a gift we can give a child that will last a lifetime.

In addition to the books that were presented to Jonesboro-Hodge Elementary, Jonesboro-Hodge Middle School, Quitman High and Weston High, students also received a supply of customizable book plates, book markers and masks. 

Traina’s Bakery announces “Easter Specials”

To help everyone have, not only a stress free, enjoyable Easter holiday, but a fulfilling one as well, Traina’s Bakery has put together an “Easter Special” comprising of a variety of plates and casserole pans as well as large selection, of their always, requested pies. You can visit at their 211 6th St. in Jonesboro location to make your advance orders or simply call to 318-259-2600. 

“The Easter holidays is always a fun time where family has a chance to get together,” said Owner, Bruce Traina. We are happy to help make it easier for everyone through preparing the meals. We will be here even on Easter Sunday till 2:00pm.”

Walker finishes fourth, Culpepper 10th in “Front 9” Tournament at Bayou Desiard

Eli Walker of Quitman High carded an impressive round of four over par over the always demanding Bayou Desiard golf course in Monroe to finish fourth in the “Front 9 Tour tourney held on March 23rd. It was Walker’s highest finish of the year. Tayt Culpepper of Weston also had a successful trek over the layout that hosts the annual Cotton States Classic each year with a 43 that netted him a tenth place finish. 

Additional Quitman finishers were Noah Leach, who came in 20th, Peyton Simonelli – 27th, Ben Shows – 32nd, John Davis – 38th, Ethan Everett – 39th and Ty Roberts – 40th. Tyler Pardue from Weston came in 37th. In Junior Varsity competition Bailey Keys came in 8th place for Quitman.

Pullin Reeves of Ruston, grandson of former Quitman High Golf Coach, Ginger Pullin and Ross, was tournament medalist after a two over par, 38, round. Two more top seven finishes by Ruston led the Bearcats to a tie with Sterlington for the team title. Quitman finished in a tie with Neville four fourth overall.  

McFarland scraps plan to increase gasoline tax

Winnfield native, Jack McFarland, who is a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives representing District 13 comprised of Jackson, Winn and Bienville parishes, has pulled the plug on his latest bid to boost Louisiana’s gasoline tax. By virtue of the act his “True Grit” agenda plan to phase in a 22-cent increase in the gas tax will not be voted on during the April 12 Legislative session.  

“I’m restructuring my bill. I’m going to take the revenue-raising measure out of it,” McFarland said. 

The north Louisiana lawmaker faced significant opposition from within his own party. Also both Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and Republican Senate President Page Cortez said Wednesday that they didn’t see enough support to raise the gas tax this year. Supporters of an increase point to Louisiana’s $15 billion backlog of road and bridge work and its list of $13 billion in projects to improve traffic flow and lessen gridlock. Critics slammed the tax hike as unaffordable, particularly in a pandemic.

McFarland’s tax hike proposal was further undermined by an influx of federal coronavirus aid pushed by President Joe Biden and passed by Democrats in Congress earlier this month. Louisiana state government expects to receive more than $3 billion from the federal package, and local government agencies are slated to get $1.8 billion. Those dollars could be steered to roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects.

Motorists in Louisiana pay 38.4 cents in taxes per gallon of gasoline, including 20 cents in state taxes. The state rate hasn’t changed since 1990. Louisiana ranks 43rd in the nation for what it charges drivers to fuel vehicles, according to The Tax Foundation.

McFarland had proposed to raise the state tax 22 cents by 2033, starting with a 10-cent per gallon increase in 2021, then 2 additional cents every other year for the next 12 years. That was estimated to raise $300 million annually in the first year and grow to $660 million yearly by 2033. New fees also would have been charged on electric and hybrid vehicles.

Rather than the tax increase, McFarland said he’ll propose moving all the current gas tax revenue to projects and prohibiting it from being spent on transportation department administration — a shift that would require lawmakers to find other dollars to pay for agency operations. He’ll propose fee increases for the department to help cover some of those administrative costs and seek to earmark all vehicle sales taxes to the agency, stripping the dollars from other state spending areas.

 

Beginning Monday anyone 16 or older will be eligible for the COVID-19 Vaccine

All Louisianans 16 years old or older will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine beginning Monday, March 29, following news from the federal government that Louisiana’s allocation of vaccine doses will significantly increase next week, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced today.

Since the start of the vaccination process, Louisiana’s weekly allocations of vaccine from the federal government have more than doubled, with Louisiana now slated to get more than 148,000 first doses directly next week, in addition to vaccine doses provided to partner pharmacies in a federal pharmacy program as well as the Federally Qualified Health Care Center program. More than one million Louisianans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. With the B.1.1.7., or U.K. variant, continuing to increase in Louisiana and neighboring states, it is essential to get Louisiana vaccinated as quickly and equitably as possible.

“Based on the doses that we will have available in the coming week, now is absolutely the time to expand vaccine eligibility as broadly as we possibly can, which is to everyone age 16 or older in Louisiana. This is an exciting development, but the hard work of making sure our family members, friends, coworkers and neighbors all have access to the vaccine will continue for months,” Gov. Edwards said. “Our goal has been to get vaccine doses we receive into someone’s arm within seven days of the doses arriving, because a shot sitting on a shelf doesn’t help us end this pandemic. All three available vaccines are safe and effective for every community and they represent our best hope of being able to Bring Louisiana Back.”

Appointments will still be required and providers may need time to update their scheduling systems, which means that people may have to wait a few days to schedule their appointments for next week. There are three authorized COVID-19 vaccines used in the United States: two-dose vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna and a one-dose shot from Johnson & Johnson. People ages 16 and 17 are only eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine, and they should consult their primary care doctor or vaccine provider to ensure the proper vaccine is administered.

“I am deeply grateful for Louisiana’s health care workers and vaccine providers who have worked tirelessly not only to treat sick patients, but now to vaccinate our people. This has been an absolutely unprecedented effort and Louisiana’s nurses, doctors and other health care workers have risen to the occasion each and every time they’ve been called upon. I hope people will be patient over the next few days as providers begin accepting appointments. Please know that there will be enough doses for everyone who wants a shot to get one eventually,” Gov. Edwards said.

Last week, the Louisiana Department of Health launched the Bring Back Louisiana grassroots campaign, which will bring COVID-19 vaccines to communities of concern through community events and targeted outreach. To sign up to volunteer for this effort, click here.

For information about where to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Louisiana and for more information, visit: COVIDVaccine.la.gov.

Freeze should have killed Giant Salvinia – but did it?

Down here in our part of the world, we have things growing and living among us that, quite frankly, we hate. Fire ants? What purpose do they serve other than to allow us to create new dance steps when we find our ankles wrapped up with these nasty biting critters? Kudzu? Who needs it? Entire hillsides and margins of rural roads are wrapped with this obnoxious plant that if you find yourself standing in a patch for over five minutes, it will start to climb your ankles. Pine pollen? We are right now seeing our shiny blue, red or maroon vehicles changing to a dusty yellow color right before us as our eyes water and sneezes begin.

These things are all bad and we would be better off is we didn’t have to deal with them but there is another that for the past decade or so has threatened to put an end to something most of us love, and that’s getting out on the water to fish, ski and swim. Giant Salvinia has a strangle hold on most of the lakes in the northern half of our state and with our winters that mostly lean to the moderate temperature side not being capable of killing the plant that dies when faced with freezing temperatures, it looks like we’re stuck with it. But wait. In mid-February we had snow, ice and temperatures as low as single digits so is there hope that the dastardly plant is finally gone? Mike Wood is a retired fisheries biologist and when I posed this question to him, here was his answer; “yes and no”.

“The cold weather was a blessing for us and it killed Salvinia. Unfortunately, however, there will always be some of the plant, a sprig or two, that found shelter in a hollow log or underneath a blanket of fallen leaves. This is all it takes for the fast growing plant to begin reproducing itself again,” Wood said.

According to the biologist, while the plant is in evidence in south Louisiana below Alexandria, it is being somewhat controlled by a bug that feeds on Salvinia.

“The Salvinia weevil is helping control the plant down south but, like the host plant, it is unable to tolerate cold temperatures and the result is that when weevils are introduced to north Louisiana lakes, it does the job for awhile until we get sub-freezing temperatures and then they die,” Wood continued.

The lakes that are hardest hit by the Salvinia invasion are some of our older lakes that are full of standing cypress and tupelo gum trees.

“In these lakes, such as Bistineau, Black Lake and Caddo, there is little wind flow and wave action so the plant just sits there and reproduces itself. Also” Wood added, “lake draw-downs and spraying is not nearly as effective as in lakes with more open water.
“Toledo Bend has had Salvinia since 2006 but so much of the lake is open water where most of the infestation is in some of the arms of the lake,” said Wood.

Boaters and anglers are urged to thoroughly inspect their boat and trailer when leaving a lake because should a future outing be to a different lake, a small sprig of Salvinia left on boat or trailer can start an infestation in the next lake visited. Our pine pollen will be gone in a few weeks but Giant Salvinia? In a manner like fire ants and kudzu, it looks like it’ll be here to stay.

FISHING REPORT – 3-24-21

CANEY LAKE – Bass fishing has been best fairly shallow with trick worms, jigs and spinners picking up a few. No heavy weight bass were reported this week. The chinquapin bite has started with fish moving shallow and hitting worms and crickets. Crappie fishing is good with most of the bigger fish moving shallow while some average sized fish are still being caught beneath the
Highway 4 bridge on shiners and jigs. No report on catfish. For latest information contact Bateaux on Caney Lake at 259-6649, Hooks Marina at 249-2347, Terzia Tackle at 278-4498 or the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707
LAKE D’ARBONNE – Crappie are making their move to the shallows with best fishing around trees on shiners or jigs. Bass are starting to move up while some are still fairly deep. Best baits this week have been spinners, crank baits, spinners and soft plastics. Bream are just now starting to show signs of life as they’re moving to shallow bedding areas and starting to hit worms and
crickets. Catfishing continues to be good off the banks on night crawlers and cold worms. For latest reports, call Anderson’s Sport Center at 368-9669 or Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE CLAIBORNE – Bream are beginning to show up around shallow spawning areas with some caught on crickets and worms. Catfishing has been fair to good on jugs and trotlines. Crappie fishing has been best at night fishing shiners off the piers and docks with a good manycaught on yo-yos baited with shiners. Also, fishing has been good for crappie below the spillway. Bass are fairly shallow with some caught on Carolina rigs and wacky worms. No report on stripers this week. For latest information, call Tim Loftin at Kel’s Cove at 927-2264.
BUSSEY BRAKE – Cooler stormy weather has slowed fishing a bit. Bass have been fair this week. The bream are showing signs of starting to move to the beds. Crappie are slow to fair this week. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
BLACK BAYOU – Crappie are scattered and fair. Bass are fair in the shallows on soft plastics and spinners. Bream are just now starting to hit crickets. Contact Honey Hole Tackle Shop 323-8707 for latest information.
OUACHITA RIVER – The river is still too high. No fishing report this week. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE POVERTY POINT – The turn to cooler weather has moved the crappie off the banks and slowed the fishing this week. Catfishing has been fair while bass and bream are slow. For latest reports, call Poverty Point Marina at 318/878-0101.
LAKE ST. JOHN – Cooler weather and rain have slowed down the crappie bite. Bass have been fair to good early mornings on soft plastics and jigs. Catfishing has slowed this week. For information, call Ken Mahoney at 318-201-3821.
LAKE YUCATAN – The water is very high and rising. No fishing this week. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.

“Giant Salvinia is a plant that has created real problems for area lakes, especially those with an abundance of standing timber.”

Jackson Parish Hospital selected as Chamber of Commerce “Business of the Month”

At the March 17th meeting of the Jackson Parish Chamber of Commerce the Jackson Parish Hospital (JPH) was selected as the Business of the Month. This past week the JPH celebrated the completion of a seven month long project where one of the two patient wings was completely renovated. The new rooms are not only larger in size with spacious bathrooms with new A/C and lighting but also include the revolutionary Nurse Call System technology designed to help make patients more comfortable and care more efficient.

“They have always been very supportive to the chamber,” said Chamber Director Wilda Smith. “We are very fortunate to have a local hospital that has this kind of state of the art equipment.”

The selection was one of several actions that took place during the meeting. Of particular interest to the community was the decision to postpone the annual Sunshine Festival that was slated to take place in April due to the popular, Antique Car Show that always has a big draw, not being able to be held.

“We do not feel that it is fair to our vendors to pay for a booth space when we cannot be assured of a big turn out to assist them with their sales,” said Smith.

Chamber members were also reminded about the “Taste of the Pines” cookbook that is on sale for $20.00 each. The collection of recipes was put together in memory of the great cooks in Jackson Parish who are no longer alive.cookbook To purchase you are requested to go by the Chamber of Commerce Office, located at 102 4th Street in Jonesboro, or call to (318) 259-4693.

“This is a great Mother’s Day gift, especially to those mothers who have mom’s recipes in the book” reflected Smith.

The next scheduled event hosted by the Chamber is a ribbon cutting ceremony that will take place at J&L Farming Supplies on Thursday, April 1st. Additional activities in April will be the meeting of “Chamber After Hours” slated for Thursday, April 8th and the regular monthly meeting set for Wednesday, April 14th.