BayouLife Magazine July 24

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These three delightful homemade dressings will transform your taste buds: Balsamic Vinaigrette, Raspberry Vinaigrette and Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette.


This homemade boozy lemonade, crafted with freshly squeezed lemons, vodka, sparkling water, and a hint of fresh thyme, is ideal for summer sipping.


Protect your skin from damaging sun rays with a high-quality sunscreen. Find these and others at area retailers.


This recipe features savory portobello mushrooms stuffed with fresh mozzarella, grape tomatoes, and a rich balsamic glaze, all baked to perfection in a mouth-watering garlic butter sauce.


A plant that won’t go unnoticed, the Mistetoe Fig is a stand-out. This Ficus maintains a small stature when grown in containers and performs well in low light making it an ideal choice for indoors.



Kravins Restaurant in Monroe, founded by Angelique Drew and her partner Alven Square, seamlessly blends their passion for American homemade food with a commitment to serving

APRIL 2018

Dive into Meredith McKinnie’s top picks for summer’s most captivating reads for the beach and beyond.


There were 47 nominations for the prestigious awards which honor companies making significant contributions to the Ouachita Parish economy during 2023/2024.


New Mexico native Walter Green, now residing in Ruston, LA, finds creative inspiration in his extensive travels and diverse life experiences, blending memories of his youth with reflections on the world around himt.


This month we celebrate our nation’s birthday and honor all who have made our freedoms possible. It is fitting that Colonel Seeber is our July Bayou Icon. We thank him for his service.


For the last eight years, BayouLife Magazine has published the Bayou Buzz Awards, or “Buzzys” as we like to call them.


From relaxed two-piece ensembles to floral dresses, these outfits are primed for their glamping premiere. Discover these essential summer styles at local boutiques.

Another year of softball is in the books and it has been a doozy. Stella started this year on fire and then our failed eye surgery happened. Thankfully after five months of doublevision and a second corrective surgery, she regained her vision. Her coach and team was supportive through the entire recovery process – praying for her, bringing her gifts and encouraging her. Stella batted and played third base with an eye patch the entire fall season. It was amazing to see the resilience of my big girl. Both of my kids surprise me daily. Vivian finished the season picking up on the same team with her sister and walked out with more confidence than I’ve seen all year. Softball is hectic, expensive and can be political at times – but, I love watching my children do something they love.

I do want to say a huge “thank you” to my husband for coaching our 10u Louisiana Hot Stix travel team and the group of volunteers that helped, including head coach Gary Poynter and his wife, Alicia.

I’ve always considered myself a patriotic gal, my birthday has always been celebrated on Independence Day and this year I plan on being with my family, eating barbecue and maybe having a boozy lemonade (page 22). Taylor Bennett pulled together some delicious recipes that are perfect for a summer party. Find his recipe for watermelon granita and mint ice cream on page 36.

Retired Air Force Colonel Bruce Seeber recently spoke about his amazing life – one that is an inspiration to us all, and which should be read by those who have little concept of the depth of sacrifice men and women have made to keep this country free and safe. Colonel Seeber was asked to describe his life overall, and he replied, “Lucky. I was lucky.” Not many who were held captive in Vietnamese

prison camps would answer that way. This month we celebrate our nation’s birthday and honor all who have made our freedoms possible. It is fitting that Colonel Seeber is our July Bayou Icon. We thank him for his service. Read his article on page 130.

In this issue of BayouLife, you will find the list of winners from our 8th annual Bayou Buzz Awards. These local businesses exemplify the very best in our region. We are truly thankful for everyone who has suggested changes or offered ideas. This has been a great experience and we hope that our list can serve as a reference all year long.

We also highlight the Thomas H. Scott Awards of Excellence winners in this month’s issue. There were 47 nominations for the prestigious awards which honor companies making significant contributions to the Ouachita Parish economy through capital improvements, expansion, job creation, and community involvement during 2023/2024. See the winners on page 130.

I get to work with an incredible team every month. We work tirelessly to bring you timely articles, beautiful photography and great content. It’s always a pleasure to hear your feedback and suggestions. We hope you enjoy reading this month’s issue of BayouLife Magazine. Thank you for keeping it local.



1201 Royal Avenue Monroe, LA 71201

Phone 318.855.3185


PUBLISHER & OWNER Cassie Livingston

COPY EDITOR Meredith McKinnie



Lindsay Adams

Katelyn McAllister

Courtney Thomas

ART DIRECTOR Taylor Bennett



Dan Chason

Kenny Covington

Shannon Dahlum

Clinton Downing

Starla Gatson

Paul Lipe

Erin Love

Meredith McKinnie

Georgiann Potts

Delia Simpson

Beatrice A. Tatem

Guy Miller

Kerry Heafner

Judy Wagoner

Darian Atkins

Kathryn Rhymes, MD

Mark L. Windham

Mamie Nelson

Mark Ketchell

Dawson Jacobs

Cindy Gist Foust

Daniel Young

Vanelis Rivera


Kelly Moore Clark

Steven Palowsky

Bill Petrus

Camryn Price

LSU Ag Center

Kerry Heafner

Sadie Thornton Pippen Joe Crimmings


Bruce Seeber photography by Kelly Moore Clark

BayouLife Magazine is published and distributed by Redbird Publishing, LLC. Postal subscriptions ($30) can be ordered online at BayouLife Magazine is not responsible for unsolicited photographs, manuscripts, or other materials. Opinion columns do not represent the views of the publisher. Reproduction of contents without express written permission is prohibited.

Savoring Summer

Craft Cocktails to Beat the Heat

AS JULY BRINGS THE HEAT, WHAT BETTER WAY TO cool down and relax than with refreshing cocktails that celebrate the flavors of the season? Here at Beef & Barrel, we’re excited to introduce you to a selection of our favorite summer libations, featuring an array of exquisite spirits. Whether you’re lounging poolside, hosting a barbecue, or unwinding after a long day, these cocktails promise to elevate your summer experience.

Let’s start with Prairie Brewing’s Island Squeeze, a unique craft beer blend that embodies the essence of summer with its bright infusion of zesty lime and succulent pineapple. Perfectly balanced and bursting with fruity notes, Island Squeeze is the ideal choice for those seeking a cool, crisp beverage to beat the heat. Whether you’re relaxing by the pool or enjoying a casual get-together, Prairie Brewing’s Island Squeeze will transport your taste buds to sundrenched shores with every sip.

For enthusiasts of Mexican spirits, Arette Blanco Tequila represents the pinnacle of craftsmanship and tradition. Distilled in Jalisco from the finest blue agave plants, Arette Blanco captivates with its clean, crisp taste and smooth texture. Whether enjoyed neat, mixed into a classic Margarita, or as the base for innovative cocktails, this tequila offers a taste of authenticity and sophistication. Floral and herbal notes complemented by a subtle hint of citrus make Arette Blanco Tequila a versatile choice for discerning palates looking to elevate their drinking experience.

Switching to rum, celebrate the essence of summer with False River Rum, crafted in homage to Louisiana’s esteemed distilling traditions. This artisanal rum features a blend of carefully selected spices, including hints of caramel, vanilla, and tropical fruit, creating a rich and nuanced flavor profile. Whether enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or as the foundation for creative cocktails, False River Rum offers a smooth texture and lingering warmth that captivate the senses. Perfect for leisurely evenings and casual gatherings, each sip of False River Rum transports you to the heart of Louisiana’s summer vibes, making it a must-have for connoisseurs and cocktail enthusiasts alike.

For gin aficionados, New Riff Wild Foraged Gin is a testament to innovation and quality. Distilled with a meticulous selection of locally foraged botanicals, this gin offers a unique flavor profile that balances juniper with floral and citrus notes. Each sip of New Riff Gin is a journey through Kentucky’s rich botanical landscape,

with hints of spice and a smooth, clean finish that lingers pleasantly on the palate. Whether enjoyed in a classic Gin & Tonic or crafted into inventive cocktails, New Riff Wild Foraged Gin promises an exceptional drinking experience that celebrates the spirit of creativity and tradition in every glass.

Next, indulge in the vibrant flavors of summer with Tip Top Spirits’ lineup of sensational cocktails. The Bee’s Knees enchants with its blend of artisanal gin, honey syrup, and a hint of lavender bitters—a refreshing choice for warm afternoons. For a taste of the Caribbean, savor the Mai Tai, capturing the essence of tiki tradition with its mix of rums, orange curaçao, lime juice, and orgeat syrup—a true vacation in a glass. Lastly, the Margarita shines with its perfect balance of tangy lime and a touch of triple sec—a timeless classic perfect for any summer soirée. These cocktails from Tip Top Spirits promise to transport you to sun-soaked shores with every sip.

To complement these exquisite cocktails, Alto Molino Torrontés offers a captivating taste of Argentina’s renowned winemaking prowess. This white wine delights with its crisp acidity and aromatic bouquet, featuring notes of citrus, jasmine, and tropical fruits. Grown in the high-altitude vineyards of Salta, the Torrontés grape thrives in the sunny climate, imparting a refreshing and lively character to the wine. Whether enjoyed on its own or paired with light dishes such as seafood or salads, Alto Molino Torrontés promises a delightful sensory experience that captures the essence of Argentine terroir. Perfect for summer gatherings and leisurely afternoons, each sip of Alto Molino Torrontés invites you to savor the elegance and vibrancy of Argentine wine culture.

As you embark on your summer adventures, take the time to savor these artisanal spirits and wines that embody the essence of the season. Whether you’re exploring new flavors with Prairie Brewing’s Island Squeeze, enjoying the complexity of New Riff’s Wild Foraged Gin, or unwinding with Tip Top’s classic cocktails, each sip promises a journey of taste and tradition. Here’s to a summer filled with good company, great drinks, and unforgettable moments. Cheers!

Visit us at 1030 North 6th Street to discover these products and more. Our knowledgeable staff is ready to help you find the perfect ingredients for your summer cocktail lineup. Embrace the spirit of the season with us and elevate your summer gatherings with these exceptional libations. As always, thank you for letting us be your Spirits Guides here at Beef & Barrel.


Whether your summer travels take you to the beaches or to the vineyards, being organized and prepared when you reach your destination will make your get-a-way experience so much more enjoyable! Only a few extra minutes of planning can make you a practically stress-free traveler who is well on her way to a blissful summer vacation. Yes, Even if you are traveling with kids!

Start Planning Early! Start researching excursions, restaurants, and typical weather patterns for the time of your trip and begin planning outfits at least a month before your departure. You will be able to narrow down your decisions the week you leave. For instance, if wet weather is predicted, you can add a rain jacket and boots to accommodate that chance or if you expect chilly nights you can add a sweater and jeans. On another note, be sure to check all transportation requirements so you won’t get a surprise when you arrive. Rules and procedures change frequently, so even if you are a frequent traveler I suggest checking before your departure. If traveling by car don’t forget to consider tollways and bathroom breaks. Nothing is worse than a dirty bathroom!

Keep it Simple! Over packing is an extremely easy thing to do, especially for women, so during your pre-planning and packing, I suggest that you make a checklist. Your checklist should correspond with your itinerary so you know exactly what you need, when you need it, and for how long. For example, will you need to change clothes at some point during the day? Maybe you are going on an excursion and then for a nice dinner out. ‘Keep it simple” by mixing and matching as much as possible and by packing accessories that can suit different occasions. You can be stylish without packing your entire closet. I promise! Where the kids are concerned, I am a firm believer in “packaging” their entire outfits. I use

zipper pouches, labeled by day or occasion, for outfits including shoes, socks, underwear and other essentials. This packing method makes getting dressed easier for me and my kids!

Let Your Friends and Neighbors in on Your Plans! Be sure to communicate with your friends and neighbors that you will be going out of town and the length of your stay. Hopefully they will look for any suspicious behavior while you are away. You never know when the doorbell camera or security system will fail. I aam always thankful to have a neighbor onspeed dial for when things come up, because they inevitably will. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Treat Your Pets to a Vacay, Too! Arrange for your pets to be boarded with a pet hotel in your area. Many offer online viewing and/or text messages to keep you updated. Or, if you prefer, hire a pet sitter/house sitter to stay with your pets while you are away. Make sure you leave plenty of food, water, toys, bedding, and directions for medications, etc. Don’t forget any outside critters you have, too! I have ducks, chickens, and geese who deserve to be treated as part of the family, too, so I try to keep their routines as similar as possible.

And You Are Off! Whether you are traveling by air, land, or sea, you will need a few things to keep you comfortable. Be sure to pack snacks for yourself and your children. I like to use a small insulated container for water, grapes, carrots, and

chocolate. I also typically pack crackers and mints, too. If you are traveling with children, may I suggest a quick trip to the dollar store? The dollar store is the perfect spot to find small toys, books, and games. You can find a few things to keep yourself busy, too!

I have a few more tips that don’t quite fit into their own category. Check them out below:

• Keep all travel information, such as itineraries and passports, in a central location. Keep everything in a folder and store it in your command center so you can grab it as you are walking out of the door.

• You may find it helpful to pack children day-by-day. For instance, place each day’s outfit, including socks, shoes, and other accessories, into a zippered pouch. You can then place the dirty clothes back into the zippered pouch to keep them away from clean clothes.

• If you plan on shopping on your trip, consider packing an extra bag. If needed, you can then ship the bag back home.

• Contact your credit card company to let them know you will be traveling. This practice reduces the probability that the card company won’t approve purchases from locations not typical for you.

• If you are taking a road trip, be sure to take your car in for a tune-up and thorough inspection. You may also want to pack an emergency kit in case of a flat tire or other unexpected mishap.

• Remember that some hotels offer amenities, such as hair dryers, soap, shampoo, beach towels, etc. This will save room in your suitcase for other items.

I know you are looking forward to your upcoming vacation, and I hope these tips help you to enjoy it even more. Have fun!!

Community Support

Louisiana Delta Community College

AT LOUISIANA DELTA COMMUNITY COLLEGE, WE ARE driven by a belief that everyone who desires should be able to afford their piece of the American pie. We believe in a world where everyone can live in a home with at least the basic necessities, earn a living wage, go to the movies, and share ice cream cones, and conversations on the porch. We believe in a future where children can lie down and rest at night without care for food and shelter and where parents can feel the joy of providing for themselves and their families.

We know this is possible because we have seen it time and time again.

Louisiana Delta Community College is a beacon of hope, a place that encourages dreams. We understand that life’s challenges can sometimes dim our aspirations, but they need not be extinguished. We are often asked about our target audience and the people we serve. The answer is both simple and profound. Our target audience is high schoolers through whatever age allows a person to navigate courses, empowering them to take control of their educational journey.

LDCC has a Workforce Department that focuses on short-term career training. LDCC also provides certifications, technical diplomas, and associate degrees. Some associate degree programs transfer in full to other Louisiana state institutions. One part of the LDCC community and the primary focus of this article is the Adult Education Department. Anyone seeking high school credentials can be serviced here.

They help prepare students to take the federal HiSet or GED exam to earn a state-issued high school equivalency credential, which they can use to advance their career, join the military, begin a training program, or continue their education. The Adult Education Department also delivers college readiness classes for those who may need strengthening in specific general education areas, such as math, English, and science. This helps students bypass having to take remedial classes. College readiness classes are a cost savings to students because they are free of charge, whereas tuition and fees apply to taking remedial courses.

High School Equivalency Instruction and Testing (HiSET & GED) are delivered:

• In-Person

• Online

• Morning, Afternoon, and Night Classes (night classes are only available at certain locations)

The Adult Education Department provides resources for migrant and seasonal farmworkers, workplace skills preparation and credentialing, and English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction.

In terms of career preparation, Adult Ed has integrated instruction in three career pathways:

• Healthcare

• Manufacturing

• Business

Adult Education also fosters leadership proficiencies through the Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) Program. The JAG Program is offered in Monroe, Winnsboro, and Bastrop. Student leadership instruction and organization are offered for 16–24-year-old students enrolled in the adult education program.

Other offerings include:

• Basic Digital Literacy

• CPR Certification

• OSHA 10 Certification

• NCCER Core Certification

• Lift Truck Certification

• Center for Financial Responsibility Financial Literacy Certification

• Southwest Airlines Professional Communications Certification

• Express Employment Professionals Business Technology Certification

• AMSA Food Safety and Science Certification

• AMSA Culinary Meat Selection & Cookery Certification

The admissions requirements for the program are listed below. Anyone interested in registering for class will need the following items:

• Current government-issued photo identification

• Completed Age Waiver and Documentation (Ages 16-17 years only)

If you or someone you know is interested in this program, please call: 318.345.9440 Adult Ed Information or 318.345.9442 & 318.397.6169 for HiSET/ GED information

For more information, look us up on our website,

“Olga Dies Dreaming”

“Weddings, she quickly discovered, were about everything except the health of a couple’s relationship. They were social performances, the purpose of which varied from family to family. And they were competitive.”

Gonzalez’s debut novel Olga Dies Dreaming opens with the title character musing about napkins, how she can tell the status and class of a couple by their attention to the napkins chosen for their wedding. The ultra-rich will not settle for simply hand stitched and modern designs. The napkins must absorb the inevitable spills to accompany a party that lasts until the early morning and is overflowing with alcoholic beverages on demand. Olga’s ruminations about the wedding industry come after years of serving the well-connected and well-to-do, accommodating their trivial preferences and unrealistic, aesthetic whims meant only to impress and one-up the rest of the 1%. Having originally seen her financial success as a manifestation of the American dream, Olga begins to question dedicating her life to unfulfilling work that advances the status quo.

The American dream and how it is defined by immigrants are at the heart of this novel, along with American assimilation and its influence on culture. Like Olga, her brother Prieto, a longtime Congressman representing Brooklyn, is struggling with political power, advancing the causes of those who support his political campaigns and the constituents he has promised to serve. This intimate bond between these two siblings is cemented by parental absence, a mother who

abandoned the children when Olga was only 12 years old and a father who succumbed to drug addiction and ultimately died of AIDS. The mother’s shadow is a consistent presence, aided by her connection to the Puerto Rican community in Brooklyn, and by proxy, her adult children. When their mother starts connecting to Olga and Prieto from absentia, intent on advancing the causes of Puerto Ricans through her well-connected children, Olga and Prieto must decide to what extremes family and heritage will dictate the direction of their lives, personally and politically. Gonzalez uses fictional storytelling to educate readers on the realities for those living in Puerto Rico, especially during and after Hurricanes Irma and Maria. What begins as a novel seemingly dedicated to New York society and those inhabiting the burrows quickly shifts to examine historical wrongs and continued neglect of Puerto Rico, an American territory without political representation or political power. This novel is at its best when it makes commentary through story, as some of the direct attacks can read preachy. All the same, I greatly enjoyed this novel, as each turn kept me invested in the lives of these siblings that are able to glimpse America from both inside and outside of its borders. In a way, this novel is a love letter to Puerto Rico and a plea for the island and its citizens to receive the attention they deserve.

“You must remember, Mijo, even people who were once your sails can become your anchors.”

Ochsner LSU Health

Shorter Recovery With Robotic Surgery

ROBOTIC SURGERY MAY SOUND FUTURISTIC TO SOME people, but it has been around for many years. You might be surprised to learn that the first robotic surgeries took place in the 1980s. Things have changed a lot since then. As technology has progressed, robotic surgery has become more advanced. It is now widely used for a range of surgical procedures.


Robotic surgery is a type of minimally invasive surgery. It is also called robotic-assisted surgery, which may be a more accurate description because the robot only assists the surgeon. (Don’t worry. Robots are not in charge!)

During procedures that use robotic technology, the surgeon sits at a console in the operating room. The surgeon manipulates mechanical arms equipped with a camera and surgical tools (all from outside of the body) while watching the surgery in real-time on a video monitor. The camera allows the surgeon to see parts of the body that aren’t visible to the naked eye. The instruments allow complex operations to be performed with more precision.

Robotic-assisted surgery is quite a step up from laparoscopic surgery. Laparoscopic surgery is another minimally invasive procedure that also uses small incisions and a camera, but it is performed by hand. Robotic technology has “wrists” that allow for greater visibility, dexterity and precision. They allow surgeons to perform more complex procedures.


Robotic surgery allows surgeons to access the surgical site through a tiny incision. Using high-tech imaging, they can view the surgical site clearly as they pass surgical instruments through the smaller incision and maneuver them with the human hand. This enables surgeons to make more precise movements during operations.

As a result, you can expect:

• Decreased likelihood of readmission to the hospital.

• Faster recovery after surgery.

• Less blood loss and less postoperative pain.

• Shorter hospital stays.

• Reduced risk of complications during and after surgery.


In the world of robotic surgery, experience matters. Ochsner LSU Health surgeons are regional leaders in their field. Our surgeons use robotic approaches for the most complex cases when performing surgery, while other surgeons may rely on traditional open-surgery techniques.

Using the most advanced robotic technology on the market, our team provides results so that you can get back to your life sooner. Ochsner LSU Health Monroe also prides itself on providing a welcoming environment. You can be assured that you’re getting the highest-quality medical services in a caring, compassionate setting.

To find out more about our services or to make an appointment, visit or call 318-626-2593.

“The Paris Library” by Janet Skeslien Charles
“Why books? Because no other thing possesses that mystical faculty to make people see with other people’s eyes. The Library is a bridge of books between cultures.”

N0 surprise, I’m a self-professed bibliophile, and gravitate towards books about books. Reading the intricate lives of book lovers feels akin to a night out with kindred spirits. I held onto this book for a month, waiting until I returned from Paris to see if I’d recognize landmarks, if I could glimpse the City of Lights in war-torn turmoil having just witnessed its revived splendor. Janet Skeslien Charles did not disappoint me. Our story alternates between firstperson narratives, Odile residing in German-occupied Paris during World War II and Montana-based Lily, coming of age in the early 1980s.

Odile chooses to stay and work at the Paris Library while her friends and neighbors flee the city, intent on escaping Hitler’s eventual takeover. While worried about her twin brother Remy on the front lines, Odile falls in love with a police officer at her father’s precinct and leans into her friendships with co-workers in the Library. The realities of war force Odile into fateful life decisions that challenge her familial and personal relationships.

lives next door and falls in love with Odile’s idealized version of Paris, its language, and its culture. While traversing the stories told in tandem, readers uncover the secrets that landed Odile in the States and the nuanced reality of living life under German occupation.

50 years later and a continent removed, 13-year-old Lily is navigating the sudden illness and death of her beloved mother and her father’s sudden interest in a new woman intent on becoming the family matriarch. Lily befriends Odile, a quirky Parisian woman who

Charles introduces a bevy of beloved and quirky side characters, particularly those employed at the Paris Library who risk it all to keep book access available to all library patrons, regardless of Nazi dictates. Charles writes, “Books and ideas are like blood; they need to circulate, and they keep us alive.” Charles argues libraries, librarians, and books are essential to culture and livelihood. The esteemed respect the author possesses for reading and its vitality is grounded by the story’s backdrop, the ravaging of the world’s most romantic city at the whims of hatred and division. Reading this novel at a time of intense American polarization elevates the novel’s punch. I loved inhabiting this world and learning about the real-life efforts of librarians who kept stories alive even as 6 million people were tragically executed by the Nazi regime. Charles reminds us that heroes surfaced well beyond the battlefields. I recommend this novel to book lovers, those who favor the Holocaust genre, and anyone who loves being transported via stories.

“People are awkward, they don’t always know what to do or say. Don’t hold it against them. You never know what’s in their hearts.”


These three delightful homemade dressings will transform your taste buds: Balsamic Vinaigrette, Raspberry Vinaigrette and Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette,

Styled by Taylor Bennett
Photograph by Kelly Moore Clark


This homemade boozy lemonade, crafted with freshly squeezed lemons, vodka, sparkling water, and a hint of fresh thyme, is ideal for summer sipping.


5 Fresh lemons, juiced

1/3 cup raw honey

5 cups filtered water

12 ounces vodka

Sparkling water

Lemon slices, garnish

Fresh thyme, garnish

In a pitcher, stir to combine 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/3 cup raw honey and four cups of water. Refrigerate. To make the boozy lemonade, add crushed ice to a large glass. Next, pour 1 1/2 ounces of vodka over ice and 2/3 cup of lemonade and stir. Top with a splash of sparkling water. Garnish with lemon wheels and thyme.

Styled by Taylor Bennett
Photograph by Kelly Moore Clark

Alumni Spotlight

SPEND 10 MINUTES WITH MICHAEL ECHOLS, AND you quickly realize he generates ideas and energy with equal enthusiasm on a non-stop basis. As a young entrepreneur, businessman, developer, historical restoration expert, radio personality, philanthropist, husband, and father, Echols has developed a reputation for vision, action, and success. We should also mention he serves as a member of the Louisiana Legislature in his spare time. Michael credits much of his work ethic and business acumen to his time and involvement with ULM. He chose ULM (then NLU) because of his family’s history with the institution. “I was blessed to have some great instructors and mentors from the ULM faculty to help guide me in my early years,” Echols said. “People like Dr. Bill McConkey, my marketing advisor; Dr. Michelle McEacharn, now dean of the ULM College of Business and Social Sciences; and ULM President Ron Berry, who was my business instructor, were major influences and challenged me to think and act to achieve results.”

Beginning his freshman year, Michael worked with Capital Bank, becoming assistant network administrator, a rewarding experience for a 20-year-old college student. As a “Jack of all trades,” Michael learned the importance of “getting to yes.” “Michael always came to the table with ideas and suggestions,” said Dean McEacharn. “But he didn’t stop there. He also knew how to take the initiative, plan and make things happen.” While at ULM, Michael served in a leadership role for Circle K, president of Pi Sigma Epsilon and trustee for the National Board of Directors. He was appointed to the Pi Sigma Epsilon National Foundation and Mu Kappa Tau. Michael earned his BBA in accounting and then his MBA.

Raised in Morehouse Parish and a graduate of Prairie View Academy, post-graduation, Michael became Chief Operating Officer for a regional wealth management firm for seven years before heading back to ULM to build a marketing and business development department for the university. With a talented team, Michael developed marketing platforms to launch ULM’s online degree programs nationally and was editor of the ULM Magazine. Michael said, “The campus was an amazing place to work. I was always inspired by the hope of the young people coming through the university.” Michael was eventually recruited by Vantage Health

Plan to expand the company’s footprint. For the next 15 years, Michael grew Affinity Health Group, composed of 150 medical providers and 450 employees (up from 26), expanded Vantage’s health plan into Mississippi and Arkansas, and tripled Vantage’s membership.

With Vantage investing heavily in old downtown Monroe, Michael and his wife Christie, an architect, began purchasing historic properties in Downtown Monroe. A big believer in revitalization efforts, Michael has focused on putting old buildings back into use and helping restore Monroe’s reputation as a great place to live, work, and play. “Michael is a visionary when it comes to restoration and revitalization,” said Monroe Mayor Friday Ellis. “He has helped our city rediscover our downtown and see it in a new light and with great potential.”Michael was elected to the Monroe City Council, and three days later the historic flood of 2016 devastated parts of the city. He learned the importance of getting to know one’s neighbors and understanding the problems within his city.

In 2019, Michael ran uncontested as the Louisiana State Representative, District 14, and now spearheads regional development, revitalization efforts, and legislative support for our region. Since assuming office, Michael and the NELA Legislative Delegation have secured hundreds of millions of dollars for vital construction and infrastructure projects in our region. Michael works closely with area mayors and is encouraged by the work of these “entrepreneurial, fresh-thinking leaders for our communities.” Echols adds, “The future looks bright for this region, especially in 5-10 years when these projects are complete.”

Michael and Christie have two daughters Amelia (12) and Everly (10). Growing this region is both a professional endeavor and a personal investment for the couple. As a ULM alumnus, Michael is excited about ULM’s future. Michael works closely with President Berry on research programs and endowments. He created the Michael C. Echols Superior Graduate Scholarship. A highlight is hearing stories of student recipients, impressive and diverse young professionals. Michael also served as an adjunct faculty member in the ULM College of Business and Social Sciences. As an advocate for ULM and this region, Representative Echols is committed to the continued growth and prosperity of northeast Louisiana.

Oh, That Summer Feeling

Summertime and our Mental Health

HAPPY SUMMER! THE SUNNIEST SEASON IS HERE. THE SUN is rising early and setting late, days are looking brighter longer, and the temperature is rising. Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Pride Month and Juneteenth have been recognized; school is out, summer camps have begun, and vacation plans are underway. The summer season, particularly during the month of July, means consistently hot sultry weather with an occasional breeze. July is considered to be the peak summer vacation season. Some will travel north to beat the heat, while others will soak up the heat of the south. July is the midpoint of the year; it ushers in the country’s biggest patriotic party of the year with the celebration of Independence Day, summer festivals, and family reunions. In the mental health world July houses National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, Panic Awareness Day, Disability Pride Month, Social Wellness Awareness Month and Self-Care Month. As with each season, the summer months can impact our mood and brain health. With our mental health in mind, it is time to seize the summer.

Oh, that Summer Feeling. For most people, there are significant mental health benefits associated with the summer season. Summer offers a wonderful opportunity to pause, relax, and unwind. Depending on how we choose to spend our time, it can be a season full of fun, happiness, optimism, and feelings of satisfaction. There is research that points to summer being a time of better mental health. In fact, summer has proven to be a wonderful time to invest in lifestyle habits that support one’s mental health.

It is obvious that I love bright and vibrant colors (yes, yellow is a favorite color of mine). Whereas I admit I would not wear this outfit to the office, unless my practice was pool side (wishful thinking), occasionally, I do get out of the office to soak up the sun. I love the mental and emotional benefits of warm bright sunshiny days and fresh air. I enjoy being around people with radiant and sunny personalities, and I love the energy of the summer because of all the feel-good effects myself and others experience this time of the year. However, for some people summertime is not so bright. The warmth, flexible schedules and relaxed attitudes associated with the summer months can be just what is needed for some; for others, expectations of being carefree are overwhelming and anxiety producing. Some people report experiencing higher levels of anxiety and depression in the summer months and can readily identify summertime stressors. Whereas the cause of depression during summer months is not yet fully known, there are several possible factors that can contribute to the development of symptoms: including, poor sleep or sleep disruption which can lead to mental and physical fatigue, changes in routine and eating habits, stress and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Our mental health can fluctuate with the seasons. One of the main ways the summer can benefit our mental health is through safe, protected, careful exposure to the sun. Safely exposing yourself to sunlight-especially in the bright morning hours -can positively affect everything from hormones to brain chemistry. Our overall wellbeing is intricately tied to nature. In response to the warmer weather and the sun being out longer than in other seasons, many people use this time to venture out, explore and engage in more outdoor activities and events. The added exposure to natural sunlight increases our vitamin D and serotonin levels, and can even boost our mood, leading to greater mental health. Spending time in the sun also helps our body produce more melatonin (sleep hormone) at night, which helps regulate our biological clocks, and impacts our sleep/wake cycle, allowing us to sleep better and feel better overall. However, too much daylight can interfere with sleep and even exacerbate manic episodes of bipolar disorder. The summer is great…until it is not! So, what can we do to feel good, and stay mentally healthy this summer? The care of one’s mental health is paramount; the effects of heat on our mood and body are of the utmost importance and should always be considered. I suggest taking measures towards strengthening your mental health by intentionally nurturing it and practicing summer self-care. Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated, wear sunscreen and protective gear, and monitor your exposure to direct and intense sunlight. Avoid taking vacation time in the summer to address appointments or conduct tasks you did not complete in the fall. Instead, take a true vacation to re-focus your energy from the daily grind of work and rest your mind. Eat healthy seasonal produce that is naturally and readily available to maintain a healthy diet and balanced energy levels. Avoid processed summer treats; chill out with homemade popsicles made with fresh fruit. Take time out for yourself, with yourself, by sitting by the pool, enjoying the warmth of the sun and a cool, refreshing beverage…whatever soothes your soul (I did, and it works). The heat is on; if you are sensitive to heat, do activities early or later in the evening when temperatures are cooler or be creative and bring the outside indoors. Additional tips include being open to establishing new routines. Summer can alter our usual routines. Whereas routines are crucial for maintaining wellness and managing the symptoms of most types of mental illness, for some people the change in routine can be frustrating, and for others it is a breath of fresh air. I suggest using this time to re-evaluate what, where, and when you do activities. This July, bask in the sun and enjoy nature. Surround yourself with sunshine and indulge mentally and physically in the goodness of the season. Aside from the summer bummers of bugs, let the “funshine” in and may you have endless summer joy.


Protect your skin from damaging sun rays with a high-quality sunscreen. Find these and others at area retailers.


OBAGI Sun Shield Tint Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Warm provides protection against both UVA and UVB rays plus infrared defense to help buffer the skin from heat-derived oxidative stress. Warm tone is ideal for skin with golden or olive undertones.


Sunscreen + Powder SPF 45 is powered by Triple-Spectrum Protection® and exclusive ZO® antioxidant technology to deliver superior skin defense with a hint of advanced color pigments.

Styled by Taylor Bennett
Photograph by Kelly Moore Clark


2 tbsp. butter

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tbsp. parsley, chopped

6 large Portobello mushrooms

6 Mozzarella cheese balls

1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes

1 pinch fresh basil to garnish Balsamic glaze

First, make sure to remove stems from mushrooms, wash and dry completely. Preheat oven to broil on high heat. Combine butter, garlic and parsley in a saucepan and melt. Brush the bottoms of each mushroom and place them on a baking tray. Fill each with sliced mozzarella and sliced tomatoes and broil until cheese has melted. To serve, top with basil and drizzle with balsamic glaze. Salt to taste.


This recipe features savory portobello mushrooms stuffed with fresh mozzarella, grape tomatoes, and a rich balsamic glaze, all baked to perfection in a mouth-watering garlic butter sauce.

Styled by Taylor Bennett
Photograph by Kelly Moore Clark

The Buzz About NELA Dental

Dental Implants, No More Dental Anxiety, & More


extends a heartfelt thank you to everyone who voted us Best

Dentist in this year’s BayouBuzz awards. We are deeply honored to serve the northeast Louisiana community, a service we have proudly provided since 2007. Our mission is to deliver the highest quality care to our patients, utilizing the most advanced technology and certifications in the field. Alongside general and cosmetic dentistry, we excel in providing outstanding dental implant and IV sedation services.


A dental implant is an artificial tooth root designed to be surgically placed into the jaw. These implants act as a sturdy foundation for mounting replacement teeth, crowns, or bridges. The procedure involves inserting the implant into the jawbone, where it gradually fuses with the bone in a process called osseointegration. This integration ensures that the implant becomes a permanent part of the jaw, providing stability and support for the artificial tooth or teeth that will be attached.

Dental implants offer numerous benefits, making them a preferred option for tooth replacement. Functionally, they restore full chewing ability, allowing you to eat your favorite foods without worry. Implants also help preserve the jawbone, preventing bone loss that often accompanies missing teeth. Aesthetically, dental implants look and feel like natural teeth, enhancing your smile and boosting confidence. Additionally, they improve oral health by maintaining the alignment of surrounding teeth and eliminating the need for altering adjacent teeth, as is necessary with traditional bridges.

Another option for dental implants is Teeth in a Day, allowing you to complete your dental implants in just one day! NELA Dental is your destination for this efficient, one-and-done dental implant service, and we are among the few practices in Louisiana offering this procedure.

NELA Dental continually adopts the latest technologies. By leveraging CAD (Computer Aided Design) and 3D printing, dental implants can be placed, and long-term temporary teeth can be printed and positioned in one day. This process enhances chewing ability and minimizes pain during healing, also allowing you to test your teeth before final placement.


Whether you’re undergoing root canal therapy or a routine cleaning, sedation options are available. Sedation often enables patients to complete

multiple procedures in a single visit, reducing both costs and the number of trips to the dentist. There are several types of sedation available to ensure you feel no pain during your procedure.

Inhalation sedation, commonly known as nitrous oxide or “laughing gas,” involves the administration of a colorless and odorless gas through a small mask placed over the patient’s nose. This method induces a state of relaxation and calmness, helping patients feel more comfortable and at ease during dental procedures.

Intravenous sedation, or IV sedation, is administered through a vein in your arm to induce drowsiness. IV sedation is an anti-anxiety medication, and its level can be adjusted to meet your needs, with most patients sleeping through the procedure.

Oral sedation involves taking a pill, making it easier to administer than other types of anesthesia. There is no needle involved, and it is equally effective as other sedation methods.

Oral sedation is an option for patients who may have anxieties about IV sedation, helping to alleviate fear and increase comfort. Various single or incremental doses can be used to medicate a patient during a dental procedure. These oral medications can help reduce the memory of the sights and smells of the dental office, preventing discomfort.

Patients deciding which sedation method is right for them should consider several factors, including their level of anxiety, the complexity of the dental procedure, their medical history, and personal preferences. It’s essential for patients to communicate about their concerns, fears, and past experiences with dental treatments. Based on this information, the dentist can recommend the most suitable sedation option.


A NELA Dental Smile begins with a single phone call. Whether you need dental implants or a checkup, visiting the dentist is crucial for maintaining overall good oral health. NELA Dental aims to make this financially easier for our patients. We offer membership plans to reduce the cost of dental treatment.

We accept most major dental insurance plans, third-party payments, and provide flexible financing options. Contact one of our convenient locations in Farmerville and Monroe to schedule your appointment today.



This Watermelon Granita, paired with homemade mint ice cream, strikes a delightful balance of salty and sweet. This duo is the ultimate summer treat.

Styled by Taylor Bennett Photograph by Kelly Moore Clark

Lion’s mane, blue oyster, baby Bella, and portobello mushrooms each offer unique flavors and textures, making them versatile choices for culinary exploration.


Portobello mushrooms, known for their large size and meaty texture, are a popular choice in vegetarian dishes and grilling recipes. They have a robust, earthy flavor that intensifies when cooked, making them ideal for burgers, stuffed mushrooms, or simply grilled with a drizzle of olive oil and herbs.


Baby Bella mushrooms, also known as cremini mushrooms, are young portobello mushrooms with a firmer texture and deeper flavor than white mushrooms. They have a slightly earthy and nutty taste, making them a versatile ingredient in soups, stir-fries, pasta dishes, and more.


Blue oyster mushrooms are visually striking with their blue-gray hue and delicate, fluted caps. They boast a mild, sweet flavor with a velvety texture when cooked. Blue oyster mushrooms are prized not only for their unique appearance but also for their subtle umami taste that complements a wide range of dishes.


Lion’s mane mushrooms are notable for their unique appearance resembling cascading white icicles or a lion’s mane. They have a mild seafood-like flavor and a tender, almost crab-like texture when cooked. Lion’s mane mushrooms are gaining popularity for their potential health benefits and versatility in vegan/vegetarian cooking.

Bright and Salted Yoga Studio

A Haven for Wellness and Community

NESTLED IN THE CHARMING TOWN OF MONROE, BRIGHT and Salted Yoga Studio stands as a beacon of health, wellness, and community spirit. Founded by Arianna Elizabeth, this unique studio has quickly become a cherished part of the local landscape, offering a blend of yoga, Pilates, and cardio classes designed to cater to all fitness levels and preferences.

Meet the Founder: Arianna Elizabeth

Arianna Elizabeth’s journey to becoming a celebrated yoga instructor and studio owner is both inspiring and heartfelt. Born in Los Angeles, California, Arianna’s artistic roots were cultivated through her education, earning both a BFA and MFA in Fine Arts for photography in Atlanta, Georgia. After moving to Monroe, Louisiana, with her husband and their playful 1-year-old Golden-doodle pup, she embraced the town’s slower pace and tighter-knit community.

Arianna’s passion for yoga was ignited in 2016 when she completed her 200-hour yoga teacher training. This initial step led her to pursue further certifications, eventually becoming a 500-hour ERYT. Her enthusiasm for teaching movement and sharing her knowledge grew, leading her to obtain additional certifications in yoga sculpt, indoor cycling, and mat Pilates. Currently, she is working on completing her reformer Pilates training.

The Birth of Bright and Salted Yoga

Bright and Salted Yoga Studio began as an online channel on YouTube in 2019. The name, inspired by a scripture in the Bible (Matthew 5:13-15), reflects Arianna’s commitment to creating a faith-centered space for yoga and wellness. The channel’s rapid growth was nothing short of miraculous. It virtually blew up by the grace of God, and overnight it gained more than 8,600 subscribers. Arianna’s engaging teaching style and accessible classes resonated with viewers, and the channel’s popularity soared.

By the time the channel reached 50,000 subscribers, Arianna decided to leave her job as a college admission counselor to focus on her passion fulltime. Winning a prestigious grant from YouTube, awarded to only 21 creators in North America, further validated her efforts and dreams. With over 238,000 subscribers today, Bright and Salted Yoga continues to provide over 800 free, on-demand classes to a global audience.

From Online Success to a Physical Studio

The physical studio opened its doors in January 2023, initially serving as a space for filming online classes. After eight months, on August 5th, 2023, Arianna welcomed the public into her studio. This transition marked a significant milestone, allowing her to directly interact with her community

and offer in-person classes.

Classes and Offerings

Bright and Salted Yoga Studio offers a diverse array of classes tailored to meet various fitness goals and preferences. The class lineup includes:

• Salted Yoga Sequence: A beginner-friendly vinyasa yoga class that introduces fundamental principles and postures.

• Dynamic Flow: An intermediate yoga class that builds on the basics for those looking to deepen their practice.

• Yoga Sculpt: A high-energy class combining yoga with light weights and cardio.

• PowerWalk: A tabata-inspired cardio class that blends walking in place with full-body exercises and light dancing.

• Pilates: A low-impact class focused on toning muscles and strengthening the core.

• Sweat & Shine: An early morning class designed for those who like to start their day with a burst of energy.

Arianna emphasizes inclusivity and adaptability in her classes, encouraging the use of modifications and props to ensure everyone, from beginners to advanced practitioners, can participate comfortably.


Community and Friendship

Arianna’s approach to teaching goes beyond physical fitness. She strives to create a lighthearted and relatable environment, often incorporating moments of humor to ease any tension or self-consciousness. Each class ends with a moment of rest and Arianna’s words of encouragement, fostering a sense of community and support among participants.

The camaraderie among members is one of the most rewarding aspects for Arianna. The studio has become a place where friendships blossom and social connections thrive, making it more than just a fitness center but a hub of community spirit.

Looking Ahead to the Future

As interest in Pilates and core-focused exercises grows, Bright and Salted Yoga Studio continues to expand its offerings. The online studio now features popular “yogalates” classes, blending yoga and Pilates for a comprehensive workout. Arianna remains committed to evolving the studio’s offerings to meet the needs of her community while staying true to her mission of providing a Christ-centered space for wellness. Bright and Salted Yoga Studio is as a testament to the power of community, faith, and fitness. Whether through free online classes or in-person sessions, Arianna’s dedication to her craft and her community shines through, making her studio a beloved sanctuary for many.



The American flag represents far more than just cloth; it embodies the essence, principles, and heritage of the United States. Demonstrating reverence and following proper flag protocol are crucial in paying tribute to our country and its principles. This comprehensive guide, provided by a reputable American flag retailer, is designed to furnish you with the essential information and precise steps for correctly folding the American flag.

Select a calm, clean area with sufficient space to lay the flag out fully. Ideally, this should be an indoor location to protect the flag from dirt or damage. If you must fold the flag outdoors, be sure to choose a spot free from debris and away from potential hazards.

Folding the United States flag in a respectful and precise manner not only preserves its condition but also honors the symbol of the nation. The process known as the Standard Folding Method is an established procedure to ensure that the flag is folded with dignity. This involves specific steps that require two people for proper execution, each step contributing to the flag’s final triangular form, symbolizing the tri-corner hat worn by the Patriots of the American Revolutionary War.


Begin by spreading the flag on a clean, flat surface. Ensure that the union (the blue field of stars) is in the upper left corner when viewed from your position. This orientation is critical as it respects the symbolism of the canton of honor. You should stand on the right side of the flag, with your helper opposite you on the left. Together, this initial setup will help in correctly executing the subsequent folds, maintaining the integrity and alignment of the flag throughout the process.


Starting from the folded edge furthest from the field of stars, begin folding the flag into triangles. Take the lower right corner and fold it upwards and across to the left edge, forming a right angle and creating the first triangle. This action initiates the process of transforming the elongated rectangle into a series of triangular folds, which will continue until the flag is completely folded.

Together with your helper, gently lift the flag from the bottom, folding it upwards so that the bottom striped section covers the upper striped section. This fold should be made carefully to ensure that the stars remain visible in the upper left corner. This step is vital as it reduces the flag’s overall size and prepares it for the next series of folds. Both ends must align perfectly to maintain symmetry.

Continuing from the previous fold, bring the bottom edge up to meet the top edge, effectively folding the flag lengthwise for a second time. This step further compacts the flag, setting the stage for the triangular folds that follow. Ensure the field of stars remains visible and is now positioned on the outside, on top of the folds, signifying its importance.


Maintain the triangular folding pattern, moving from the initial triangle towards the field of stars. Each fold should be tight and neatly aligned with the previous triangle. This repetitive process requires precision and patience, to ensure the flag remains taut and aligned. Your helper’s role is crucial here to keep the flag stretched and to assist in aligning the edges precisely.

As you approach the end of the flag, where the field of stars is located, fold the final triangle. If there is any excess fabric at the end, neatly tuck this final flap into the fold to secure everything in place. The flag should now resemble a compact triangle with the stars visible on both outer surfaces, a fitting tribute to the flag’s significance and a symbol of unity.



If you’re looking for a plant that won’t go unnoticed, the Mistetoe Fig (Ficus deltoidea variegatus) is a stand-out. This Ficus maintains a small stature when grown in containers and performs well in low light situations making it an ideal choice for indoor growing.

LIGHT: This tree requires 80100% sunlight. Depending on your location, full sun is often best. Trees should be brought indoors or protected during the winter months.

WATER: Bring soil to a state of visual dryness between watering. When watering, thoroughly saturate the soil until some water runs out of the bottom of the pot.

POTTING: Mistletoe Fig should be repotted after it doubles in size or once a year, whichever comes first. Fresh potting soil has all the nutrients your plant needs; so as long as it’s refreshed yearly, you shouldn’t need to use fertilizer.

Styled by Taylor Bennett
Photograph by Kelly Moore Clark


For me, fishing started at a very young age. Early on my main driving force was the competition between my older brother and which was encouraged and driven by our dad. In the early days, my fishing was pretty limited to pan fish or catfish as that is what my dad liked to catch. I will never forget the day I got the bass fishing fever and I never lost it. We lived in rural Alabama where my pastor/father had moved to take a pastorate. The town had a population of less than 400 and was a typical farming/timber based community. Most of our traveling was relegated to our bicycles. My brother and I wore out tires on the very limited asphalt roads and often ventured off-road to explore and to find new secret areas to fish. One Sunday morning at church, one of the members, Mr. Butler asked me if I liked to bass fish. I was all of 9-years old and my brother was 11. It was 1969 and bass fishing was in its infancy. I had heard and read about bass fishing but in our world they were pretty much trash fish and were accidently caught on a worm or shiners. I recalled how well they fought and cut up when hooked and told Mr. Butler I really wanted to learn how to catch them. He offered an invite to his private pond and the next afternoon my brother and I were standing in his yard. Mr. Butler pulled out all sorts of rods and gear I had rarely seen and gave us a quick overview of how to catch bass. Remember that we had never used or thrown an artificial lure. I soon figured out it wasn’t as easy as Mr. Butler made it seem but that first bass hooked me for a lifetime.

The lure of choice was a Creme straight worm, hooked Texas style and an additional hook added to the rear. This thing was my ticket and I didn’t have to find live bait anymore to go fishing. My brother and I spent many a day at that and other ponds as we honed our skills on bass fishing. I seemed to have a knack for it and found it to be the one thing I could always do better than my brother. He was stronger, taller, faster and meaner than me but

when it was time to bass fish, he had to take a back seat. Here is what I’ve learned over the years about fishing.

Independence. There is nothing quite like climbing on your bicycle with a Zebco 33 strapped to the handlebars with a pocket full of Creme worms and taking off on an adventure. The only thing you need is the drive, patience and desire to catch a fish. Sooner or later you will succeed. That is a great feeling when no one else is there to guide you as you learn from your mistakes.

Concentration. I was always a little ADHD in school and was not a good student. But I turned into a different person with a bass rod in my hand. It was me and the fish and they were going to lose. No matter what else was going on, fishing was a driving force in my life.

Motivation. I didn’t need any prodding to get motivated to go fishing. My every thought was about fishing and my dad found that to be advantageous for him. If he needed chores completed or his car washed, all he had to do was hold permission to go fishing until the chore was completed. Worked every time. The desire to be better. To this day I try to learn something when I go fishing. Fishing for me isn’t sitting on a bank and watching a cork bob. For me it was learning to read cover, duplicate patterns and think like a bass. I had a gift and luckily I had places where I could go to cultivate that desire. When we moved to Monroe in 1976 and I bought my first truck at 15, a whole new fishing world opened up to me. One year later I bought my first boat and Bayou DeSiard became my home away from home. I would spend most nights after work honing my skills further. The next year, I entered and won the first tournament I ever fished. I didn’t have an outboard motor and didn’t have a clue about rules. I brought over 30 bass to the weigh in and am thankful for a man who told me what the limit was and to throw back everything but five fish. That could have been an expensive lesson. But I was young and stupid but that is a memory I will never forget.

Fishing has taught me to be self reliant, confident and gives my self esteem a huge boost. When its been a rough week at work, nothing and I mean nothing calms me or redirects me better than fishing. I take a lot of pictures and my wife laughs and says I’m like a kid who just caught his first fish and is showing off to his mom. That’s pretty accurate and I wish I had the technology to have access to the fish that have ended up in my possession. I have some old photos and it is funny how I can recall the trip and what the fish was caught on.

Now as I enter the twilight years of my life, I find pleasure in sharing my gifts with others. Having 8 grandchildren makes that easier but I find as they grow older, the less I see them and the less they fish. The old saying “The Lord doesn’t subtract the days from your life spent fishing” is very dear to me. I find God every time my boat is in the water. To see His magnificent creation and to enjoy the bounty of His blessings is something I will always appreciate. Take the time to take a kid fishing. Share your blessings. And may you be blessed with long days on this earth....and on the water.


Sandal season invites a variety of cute styles, from flats adorned with bow embellishments to sparkling sandals that shimmer in the sunlight. Find these and others at area retailers.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Shimmery rose gold sandals from Dusty & Company, pink flats with bow embellishment from Herringstones, raffia slide with bow from Hemline Monroe and silver metallic sandals from Cara’s Boutique
Styled by Taylor Bennett
Photograph by Kelly Moore Clark


Dive into Meredith McKinnie’s top picks for summer’s most captivating reads for the beach and beyond.

Styled by Taylor Bennett
Photograph by Kelly Moore Clark
1) My Name Is Barbra by Barbra Streisand
2) Little Monsters by Adrienne Brodeur
3) Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt
4) Crook Manifesto by Colson Whitehead

Nurse Embraces New Life

Nurse Loses 70 Pounds After Procedure at the Surgey Clinic of NELA

ASALYN GOLDSMITH, NOW 44, SUFFERED A HEART attack two years ago. Determined not to have a second one, she underwent gastric sleeve surgery and lost 70 pounds.

Asalyn, who no longer smokes, does not consume sugar, and eats a lot of fruit and veggies, says: “Weight loss surgery changed my life because it helped me love myself, which prompted me to make better choices. I can play basketball with my grandson around the house without losing my breath and take on extra shifts as an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse), a job I love.”

Dr. Walter Sartor performed Asalyn’s gastric sleeve surgery in May 2023 at the Surgery Clinic of Northeast Louisiana. Dr. Sartor answered all of Asalyn’s questions about her weight loss surgery options. Asalyn said, “Dr. Sartor was so kind and had such great bedside manners. And beyond that, Dr. Sartor empowered me to be part of the decision-making process. He educated me about the various weight loss surgery options, and allowed me to make the final decision, with his input.”

Dr. Sartor’s passion for his patients became even clearer when Asalyn experienced a fever.

“After the surgery, my temperature increased, and Dr. Sartor got me into his office immediately—the same day. My temperature wasn’t related to the surgery; it was viral. But, I remember his insistence on seeing me. He said, ‘I don’t want to take any chances.’ That says a lot about him and the clinic’s dietitian Marci Parker, who is always available to answer any questions you may have, any time of day.”

Like many women, Asalyn’s weight gain began when she had children. Her energy level was low, which made it difficult to exercise. She struggled with depression, emotional eating, and insomnia. She said she isolated herself because she “didn’t want anyone to see her.”

Now, Asalyn’s life looks completely different. “I visit the gym three days a week. I like to get out and walk. I try to exercise early in the morning or late in the evening, and I sleep much better. Also, my skin has completely cleared up.” Asalyn said. “My attitude is completely different. When you’re unhappy with yourself, you’re unhappy with everyone else. This weight loss journey has opened my eyes to a lot of things. The weight loss has made me continually want to do better, to be a better person. I can achieve new goals because I have the energy.”

Her transformation has even inspired her children. After watching his mother’s success, Asalyn’s son is losing weight. Asalyn said, “I’m so relieved because I worry that my heart health challenges will be passed down to my children.”

Asalyn, who has returned to school to become an RN (Registered Nurse), is no longer taking obesity-related medications. Her mental health has improved as well, she said. “There is freedom in knowing I can enter any store without worrying if the clothes will fit me,” Asalyn said.

“Losing the weight allows you to love yourself more. The weight loss builds your self-esteem. I’m no longer worried about what people think. And I proudly tell people I have had weight loss surgery. I want them to know there is a solution, that you don’t have to suffer.”

Nursing is one of Asalyn’s greatest passions. “I couldn’t work with patients as well as I do now simply because, before the weight loss surgery, I was too tired. I chose the nursing field because I have a passion for helping people, so it’s important to me that I do that to the best of my ability,” Asalyn said. “When I was in nursing school, I knew I wanted to work in a nursing home. The older adults—who could be my parents or your parents—really grab my heart. Some don’t have family, and I consider it an honor to be their family. Now, I can commit myself to fulfilling that role, thanks to my weight loss. I can work 60-70 hour work weeks instead of 40-hour work weeks. I can help out on the floor whenever needed. That wasn’t possible before my weight loss surgery.”

The Ruston native encourages others to explore weight loss surgery at the Surgery Clinic of Northeast Louisiana.

“You have one life. You owe it to yourself to make it your best life— for your sake and for your loved ones.”

More about the sleeve gastrectomy procedure:

During a sleeve gastrectomy, typically a laparoscopic procedure, the surgeon removes approximately 75-80% of the stomach. A smaller stomach holds much less food, restricting one’s food intake. Removing a large portion of the stomach decreases ghrelin, commonly called the “hunger hormone.” Patients can expect to lose about 60-70% of their excess weight within one year of surgery.

Every weight loss option works best with the support of healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, and dietitians. Each requires significant lifestyle changes for long-term success.

To learn more about the bariatric program at the Surgery Clinic of Northeast Louisiana, visit

The Surgery Clinic of Northeast Louisiana, home of Delta Vein Care, is operated by surgeons Dr. Walter Sartor, Dr. Bart Liles, Dr. Patrick Smith, and Dr. Mohamed Bakeer.


Thomas H. Scott Awards of Excellence Reception was held Thursday, May 23rd at the University of Louisiana’s Bayou Pointe Center. There were 47 nominations for the prestigious awards which honor companies making significant contributions to the Ouachita Parish economy through capital improvements, expansion, job creation, and community involvement during 2023/2024. This year’s nominees collectively created or retained 4,320 jobs in Ouachita Parish and made capital investments of over $112 million.

The twenty-three nominees in the small business category were: Guardian Air, The Trove, Yarbrough Capital Advisors, Greenqube, Macaroni Kid, The Salad Station, ASGE Media, HiTech Computers, Lisa Govan Realty, DSLD Homes, Ashton Smith/Shelter Insurance, Louisiana Accident and Injury Care, Jobsquad, Big Shot Bob Buys, Northeast Imaging, J Ranch Properties, Magnolia James Interiors, AA & H Games, Spa Nouvelle, Assurance Financial, Fade Factory Barber & Beauty, Coney Island Connection and Global Training Center.


Small Business Winner

The Small Business winner was Coney Island Connection. In 2022, Coney Island Connection was a newly renovated restaurant located on North 7th Street in West Monroe. Owner Chris Lewis took over after the previous owner retired and has kept the tradition of good old-fashioned food alive since 2019. In 2023, he doubled the size of his store to serve more customers and added new employees. Chris is very philanthropic in the community and gives away food, school scholarships and spends time daily investing in others.

The seven nominees in the medium category were: SnapMe Creative, Building Futures Pediatric Therapy, Pinnacle Family Health, Kinetix, PJ’s Coffee of New Orleans, b1Bank, and Southern States Utility.

The three nominees in the large business category were: Marion State Bank, Citizen’s Progressive Bank, and Commercial Capital Bank.

The seven nominees for the corporate category were: Entergy Louisiana, Practice Management, Centric FCU, Origin Bank, St. Francis Health, Texas Roadhouse, and James Machine Works.

The seven nominees in the nonprofit category were: The Children’s Coalition, Ouachita Green, ARCO, NOVA, The Food Bank of Northeast Louisiana, Life Choices Pregnancy Resource, and the ULM Wesley Foundation.

The Thomas H. Scott Awards of Excellence Reception is hosted by the Monroe Chamber of Commerce. Presenting sponsors for the event are Origin Bank, Forth Insurance, BayouLife Magazine and Scott Powerline & Equipment Company. Additional sponsors for the reception are Ochsner LSU Health-Monroe, MidSouth Extrusion, Progressive Bank, First Horizon Bank and Heard, McElroy & Vestal.


Medium Business Winner

The Medium Business winner was Pinnacle Health. CEO Mark Windham and Pinnacle Family Health stand as a beacon of comprehensive care and community support in Northeast Louisiana. They strive to offer an inclusive environment and welcome individuals from all walks of life. Serving patients at the starting age of 3, they ensure every person has an opportunity to have access to affordable healthcare, regardless of their family’s income. In the recent surge of growth, Pinnacle Family Health has taken a leap from a 6,000 square foot facility to a 24,000 square foot state-of-the-art health center. This $6 million investment significantly enhanced their medical and behavioral health services. With this bigger space, they were able to add an on-site pharmacy, on-site dental care, and onsite x-rays, making Pinnacle Family Health a one-stop shop for healthcare needs.


Large Business Winner

The Large Business winner was Commercial Capital Bank. Commercial Capital Bank emerges as a true community bank. They have offered a personalized service since their first establishment in Delhi in 1999. They have expanded their original roots into Bastrop, Oak Grove, Crossett, Hamburg, and now the newly renovated location on North 18th Street in Monroe. Their expansion into Monroe was not only a business move, but a commitment for revitalization. They completely transformed the forgotten about corner into a beautiful hub for economic activity. This contribution shows they are dedicated to the city’s growth and the peoples’ livelihoods.


The Nonprofit Winner

The Nonprofit winner was ARCO. Founded by Ike and Shirley Hamilton, ARCO has been empowering people with developmental disabilities to live quality, meaningful lives and to reach their full potential for independence since 1954. ARCO is dedicated to creating communities where children and families thrive. They invested in and recently relocated their administrative offices to Mercedes Drive in Monroe, LA providing the non-profit agency a home of solidarity and functionality to last for many decades. Executive Director Roma Kidd has led ARCO to new heights during her tenure, enhancing the value of this 70-year-old volunteer led organization.


Corporate Business Winner

The Corporate Business winner was St. Francis Health. St. Francis is the heart and soul of healthcare in Northeast Louisiana and Southern Arkansas. St. Francis offers Northeast Louisiana’s only Level 3 NICU, Level 3 OB, and Level 2 PICU services. This organization has not only exemplified excellence in healthcare but also made significant contributions to the well-being of our community. They have added 260 jobs, made over $55 million in capital investments, and saw an increase in volume across all areas. St. Francis has been the cornerstone of healthcare in Ouachita Parish since its establishment in 1913.


BayouLife Magazine Innovator Award

The BayouLife Magazine Innovator Award was presented to The Trove. The Trove is a shop with a curated collection of artistic treasures from diverse vendors. The Trove was dreamed up to be a space for art & retail and to reinvest in growth and development of our communities. It is locally owned and operated on Tower Drive in Monroe, LA. by Emily Ackerman and Lisa Holyfield.


The Spirit of Business First Award

The Spirit of Business First Award was presented to b1BANK. Anytime a new business invests in an all-new location, much planning, preparation and investment along with blood, sweat, and tears goes into the process. This business did all that and is serving our community at a high level from their new Tower Drive location. In case you didn’t know, the “b1” in b1BANK stands for Business First, and they are this year’s recipient of the Spirit of Business First Award.


The Spirit of Creativity Award

The Spirit of Creativity Award went to SnapMe Creative. SnapMe Creative is a full-service marketing and advertising agency owned and operated locally. They purchased and renovated 311 Natchitoches Street in West Monroe into a photography and graphic design studio. In 2023, they added 3 more full-time in-house employees, 3 part-time in-house employees, 12 talented remote employees and employ high school students throughout the year. Their outstanding creativity is shown in their videos, logo work and through the awards their agency has won. SnapMe Creative is owned by Charles and Rebecca Frye, Josh Carroll and Daniel Taylor.


The Spirit of Community Care Award

The Spirit of Community Care Award was presented to Northeast Imaging. A wise business sees a need in the community and works to meet that need. Our area had a need for a conveniently located, freestanding imaging business and there is a fast-growing one located on Lamy Lane in Monroe. Jana Elkins and Northeast Imaging have increased Northeast Imaging’s MRI service by 54% in 2023 and now employ 6 full time employees. Our spirit of Community Care award goes to Northeast Imaging.


The Spirit of Support Award

The Spirit of Support Award was awarded to Building Futures Pediatric Therapy. Building Futures started as a dream in Ouachita Parish offering a holistic approach to pediatric therapy in an environment that is as personal and home-like. It was formed in 2005 by Jennifer Reeves and Wendy Petrus. They had exponential growth over the past years adding speech therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, administrative staff and therapy staff. They also added “Tiny Town” an incredible small town featuring 9 small buildings that help children understand how they would live in their community. The growth of the Monroe clinic led to the addition of a new Ruston clinic location. Their work with children is invaluable.


The Spirit of Stewardship Award

The Spirit of Stewardship Award was presented to Yarbrough Capital Advisors. This financial advising firm helps families and individuals develop their future retirements through investments, insurance, and financial planning. Andrew Yarbrough has eighteen years of financial experience and international business experience. This company has two locations, the headquarters office is located in Ouachita Parish at 2485 Tower Drive in Monroe. This company has donated to the Chennault Museum, Delta Veterans, Our HOME, The Art Crawl, Habitat for Humanity – North Louisiana and teaches financial literacy to underprivileged children.


The Spirit of Vitality Award

The Spirit of Vitality Award was presented to The Salad Station. This new to our area restaurant is a fast-casual gourmet restaurant that specializes in offering an overwhelming bounty of fresh, local products for guests to build their own gourmet meal. They recently opened their newest location on Avenue of America in Monroe and is locally owned by Brad & Ashley Surles. They have 28 full and part-time employees, and they are proud to offer a healthy dining choice to the Monroe area.


The Spirit of Inspiration Award

The Spirit of Inspiration Award was presented to Lisa Govan Realty. Lisa Govan Realty is a well-established real estate agency that aims to provide excellent service to both its buyers and sellers. The owner began her business 8 years ago as a boutique firm to become a leading player in the real estate market. This realtor is truly making a difference through leadership, innovation and dedication and is proud to be based at her new location on Hudson Lane in Monroe.


The Spirit of Endurance Award

The Spirit of Endurance Award was presented to James Machine Works. This local manufacturer has been serving the petroleum, chemical, pulp and paper, and energy industries since it was founded in 1927 by World War 1 veteran Hardy James. Their 2023 growth saw capital improvements include new cranes, plate rolls and welding machines at the cost of $1 million dollars. This company president is proud of the fact that their business has always been family owned and wins many OSHA and Excellence awards. They employ 158 full-time employees and experience very little employee turnover. This female run company is owned by Susan Weaver.


The Spirit of Community Service Award

The Spirit of Community Service Award was presented to Origin Bank. Origin Bank offers a broad range of financial services and currently operates 60 banking centers located throughout Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Formed in 1912, they expanded into Ouachita Parish in 1998. Through their enrichment program, employees are allowed up to 20 hours of paid time each year during work hours to volunteer for charitable organizations. During 2023, 93.8% of the Ouachita Parish employees volunteered 575 hours. Market Leader Billy Haddad and Origin Bank contributed over $75,000 to the United Way in 2023. Origin’s employees are truly everywhere volunteering in our community, and we applaud Origin Bank for allowing that kind of service from their employees.


The Chairman’s Business Award for Excellence

The Chairman’s Business Award for Excellence goes to Kinetix. Kinetix has volunteered for many hours helping the City of Monroe and the Monroe Chamber of Commerce staff and others in the community with projects. They exemplify growth, helping others thrive, and stepping up. They designed our beautiful new TH Scott logo, the programs, the video, and so much more to help make the awards ceremony possible. We want to honor COO Liz Pyle and her staff with this award.


The Chairman’s Indivial Award for Excellence

The Chairman’s Individual Award for Excellence goes to Macaroni Kid’s Rickey Robertson. As a longtime friend to the Monroe Chamber, Rickey is caring and compassionate about all things chamber and community related. His volunteering and work ethic are unmatched. No matter if the task is working on membership, Ambassadors, teaching school, coaching, or even picking up trash on the side of the road, he is faithful.


The Thomas H. Scott Award of Excellence

The winner of The Thomas H. Scott Award of Excellence is Centric Federal Credit Union. With a remarkable growth of 8% in membership last year and a 13% increase in total assets, Centric has truly embodied the spirit of the Thomas H. Scott Award of Excellence. Centric’s commitment to community is evident. With their $5 million development of the Mid City Retail Center in Monroe, this not only boosts our local economy, but also serves as an example of progress and opportunity.

Pinnacle Family Health

A Beacon of Comprehensive Healthcare in Northeast Louisiana


Monroe, Pinnacle Family Health is a testament to the belief that quality healthcare is a fundamental right, not a privilege. Founded on the principle that everyone should have unfettered access to top-notch medical services, this institution has quickly become a cornerstone of the community’s well-being. As healthcare continues to evolve, Pinnacle remains steadfast in bringing the peak of healthcare to the region, firmly believing in that “every person is deserving of good health and well-being.”

A Wide Range of Services Tailored to Meet Community Needs at a Price You Can Afford

Pinnacle has distinguished itself by offering a comprehensive suite of services designed to cater to the healthcare needs of all ages, including primary care, behavioral health, dental care, on-site x-ray, and on-site pharmacy through Reliant Healthcare. Healthcare is not a one-size-fits-all scenario, Pinnacle ensures that each patient receives care specifically tailored to their needs, while striving to ensure everybody in the community has access to affordable, high-quality care. Regardless of your health insurance status, we offer a sliding fee discount program based on your income— some patients even qualify for a patient visit cost as low as $10!


Care and Preventative Services

Pinnacle’s robust primary care and preventative services are at the forefront of our health center’s offerings. Recognizing the importance of prevention in health, we strongly emphasize regular check-ups, vaccinations, and health screenings. This proactive approach aims to treat existing conditions and identify and mitigate potential health risks before they escalate.

Pediatric Care

Children are the heart of any family, and their health and well-being are paramount. Pinnacle Family Health offers comprehensive pediatric care for little ones from two months old and up, focusing on children’s physical, emotional, and developmental health from infancy through adolescence. Their pediatric services are designed to support children’s growing needs and ensure they receive the best start in life.

Women’s Health

Understanding the unique healthcare needs of women, Pinnacle provides specialized services that address every stage of a woman’s life. From reproductive health and gynecological services to menopause management and beyond, our women’s health services are conducted in a compassionate and supportive environment.

Chronic Disease Management

For those dealing with chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, HIV, hepatitis, and more, Pinnacle offers dedicated management programs. These programs are built around the understanding that chronic conditions require ongoing, comprehensive care plans adaptable to changes in one’s health.

Behavioral Health

Our holistic approach to healthcare includes our mental health services provided by our staff psychologist, Amanda Norris, Ph.D.; our licensed clinical social worker, Sierra Ellis, LCSW; and our licensed professional counselor/licensed addiction counselor, Jennifer Mazzanti, LPC, LAC. Recognizing the critical link between mental and physical health, the facility offers counseling, therapy, and support groups to help individuals navigate life’s challenges in a healthy and constructive manner.



Our new dental practice, headed by Tahisa Colbert, DDS, MBA, boasts the latest technology, including Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) imaging capabilities. Our dental clinic proudly offers Opalescence Go teeth whitening products. In July, Dr. Colbert will begin offering the “Pinnacle MedSpa” cosmetic services, which include Botox and facial fillers.

Community Outreach and Education

Beyond the walls of our health center, Pinnacle is deeply committed to the health and well-being of the broader community. Through various outreach programs and health education initiatives, the organization strives to raise awareness about health issues, promote healthy lifestyles, and prevent disease. We proudly sponsor ball teams, participate in health fairs and other social events, and make investments in the community we love to call home.

A Compassionate Team of Healthcare Professionals

Our dedicated team of healthcare professionals is at the core of Pinnacle’s success. From expert physicians and nurse practitioners (Tammy Jones, DO; David Culp, APRN, FNP-C; Laurie Hamilton, APRN, FNP-C; and Mia McCall, APRN, FNP-C) to support staff, each team member is committed to providing the highest level of care with compassion and empathy.

Pinnacle Family Health is a beacon of hope and a source of strength for the people of Northeast Louisiana. With a wide array of comprehensive services, use of technology, and commitment to the community, Pinnacle Family Health is redefining what it means to receive quality healthcare. In doing so, it continues to uphold its founding premise that every person, regardless of their circumstance, is deserving of good health and well-being.

Fishing with Kenny

Control the Variables

Iam a boat rat. Much like a basketball player hones his craft spending hours in the gym, I spend a lot of my spare time sitting in my boat, working on fishing tackle. I have always believed the more I prepare, the more consistent I will be in tournament competitions. I realized early on, I could not allow luck to determine my successes or failures, so I do everything I can to put the odds in my favor.

To the outsider, there is a lot of luck involved in the sport of fishing, but this is far from the truth. Granted, there is an element of luck when it comes to hooking and landing fish but, those outcomes are usually less about luck and more about angler complacency and lack of preparation. Most lost fish are due to angler error more than attributed to bad luck. Let me explain what I mean.

Recently I received a phone call from a good friend of mine, while he was fishing in a tournament. He said he needed to vent for a few minutes. When I asked him what was wrong, he said, “I just lost one of the biggest fish I have hooked in a long time. I did everything right, I played her correctly, I got her out of the heavy cover, and when she surged at the boat she broke my line.”

My teaching background came out of me, “What bait did you lose her on and what size line were you throwing” I asked.

“I was throwing a Whopper Plopper on 12 lb. Big Game. That is the only line I use for topwater lures,” came the response.

“Well, if you had been using a good, braided line, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, and you would be well on your way to winning your tournament.” With a huff in his voice, he hung up the phone. Truth hurts.

Our fisheries are hard to catch fish in, some will even say it can be difficult at best to get a consistent bite. It is with this logic I base my tackle tinkering routine around when I prep for a tournament or even a day of practice. If I get the right bite, I want to make sure I have done everything in my power to put the fish in the boat. To some of my friends, they believe it is overkill, to me it is a necessity.

Here are some examples of simple things, you can do to make yourself a better angler:

Make sure you have the right rod/reel combination for the lure you are using. To the average angler this may not seem important, but if you are serious about learning this sport and getting better, this is important. If I am throwing a big topwater lure, such as a Whopper Plopper, I need to use a heavier rod, and pair it with braided line. The heavier rod is important so I can cast it more efficiently and, when teamed with braided line, helps my hookup ratio, helping me catch more fish.

If I am throwing a spinnerbait, my rod and line selection is always based on the size of the spinnerbait, regardless of the cover I am fishing. The lighter the lure, the lighter the rod, and I choose a line size

to match, never using anything less than 12 lb. monofilament.

When flipping/pitching, unless I am in close quarters, I use an 8-foot flipping rod, one paired with braid the other paired with 30 lb. Sunline monofilament. No matter the lure of choice or technique, I can effectively use both rods.

Put the odds in your favor!

Make sure you choose your hooks and line sizes wisely. One type or style of hook does not fit all lures and techniques. There is not a universal line for all lure applications. Much like a set of golf clubs, each hook and line choice just another tool in the angler’s toolbox. Smaller, thin wire treble hooks require lighter lines for better hook penetration. Heavier, thicker hooks require much heavier line, or even braid to get the maximum performance from your hooks. You must also consider the rod you will be using for each application. The lighter the line, the lighter action rod you will want to use.

Retie often. After every fish I catch, I check my line a few feet up from the lure, checking for any line wear or abrasions. It is usually the damage from catching a one-pound fish that causes your line to break when you lose a five pounder. Please note, the line breaks on a hookset are 150% angler error and in most instances, no matter the victim’s claim, was not “a big fish.” Tie good knots and learn multiple ones to use for various purposes.

Add a hook when you want to catch more fish, replace your hooks to keep you from losing the ones that bite. There is never a spinnerbait or a buzzbait tied on my rods for a tournament when I do not add a trailer hook. If the cover I am fishing does not allow for adding a trailer hook, then I just fish and hope for the best. I often hear anglers talk about losing spinnerbait fish, and my first question is, “Were you using a trailer hook?” Their answer is usually, “No, because I hate using a trailer hook.” If adding the extra hook would keep you from losing a potential tournament winning fish, I do not see the logic for not using one.

Every hard bait, crankbait, topwater, or whatever the case may be, I choose to use in a tournament, I will replace the treble hooks on them. I do not use straight EWG trebles on all my baits but for my topwaters, my feather hook or rear hook will always be the EWG style. I use round bend trebles for the other hooks. No matter the replacement hooks you use, make sure you use a high-quality brand such as Gamakatsu, Mustad or Eagle Claw.

Well, it looks like we have run out of space and time again for another month. I sure hope we were able to share some quality information with you, that will allow you to become a better angler. Remember, paying diligence and the desire to keep learning is often what separates the great anglers from the good ones.

Be sure you catch one for me, and I will see you next month!

SPArk-tacular Savings

Medical Spa by St. Francis Medical Group


Save big this month with The Medical Spa July specials!

• Purchase 3 ZO glow treatments for $225; receive 10 units of Dysport ($430 value)

• Buy 2 syringes of filler, receive 3rd for FREE

• Rejuvapen microneedling for $225 per session (includes ZO accelerated serum)

• Double referral points the entire month of July!


ZO Glow Treatment (Stimulator Peel) – This treatment is great for textured and dull skin. The Stim Peel contains a combination of exfoliating ingredients to renew and revive skin and requires no downtime.


Dysport is an injectable neuromodulator that smoothes fine lines and wrinkles. Dysport works by blocking the signal from the nerve to the muscles, which temporarily prevents contraction of muscles. Dysport injections can last as long as 4-5 months. Patients typically start to see results within 3-4 days with full results at two weeks. If you’re new to Dysport or other neurotoxins, give us a call to schedule your consultation and discuss dosing and desired results.


Rejuvapen is an in-office microneedling treatment used to stimulate elastin and collagen production. This non-surgical, medical-grade treatment creates micro-wounds in the skin, triggering its natural repair mechanism. The result is overall skin rejuvenation, such as smaller pore size, improvement in fine lines and hyperpigmentation, and firmer skin. It can also improve the appearance of scars, including acne scars and stretch marks. Patients typically see results within a few days after the first treatment, with optimal results several months after a series of 3-4 treatments.


As we age, we lose fat, collagen and bone, causing hyaluronic acid (HA) levels to decline. This can lead to visible signs of aging like wrinkles, folds and diminished volume. Dermal fillers are injectable

treatments that can help to diminish the appearance of wrinkles while restoring volume and fullness to the face, or to reshape features to meet aesthetic goals, such as achieving a fuller lip, providing contour or structure to the cheek, or correcting the appearance of a recessed chin. Restylane’s unique injectable gels are formulated to act like your skin’s own HA. Each filler in the Restylane portfolio is engineered for a specific area and purpose to help achieve subtle natural-looking results.


Want to earn money toward product purchases? Well, now you can at The Medical Spa. We are now offering Skincare Bucks! Earn $10 for every $50 spent. Skincare Bucks can be earned and redeemed during specific dates throughout the year.


Enjoy exclusive perks, pricing and discounts with a Medical Spa VIP membership. With three different VIP levels, there’s something for everyone! Monthly membership fees are deposited into your account and are yours to use toward treatments, products and services at The Medical Spa. In addition, members will also receive exclusive pricing and discounts.

We love building long-term relationships, so we’ve created a referral program to make it easy for you to share your knowledge about The Medical Spa and get rewarded at the same time. For every friend or colleague you refer, you’ll earn $10 once they make a qualifying purchase! This month you can receive double referral points! Treat yourself and save money this year with either of these programs. To find out more information, call The Medical Spa at (318) 966-3772.

Be sure to come by The Medical Spa this month to take advantage of our specials and events, and to find out more about the medicalgrade skincare products offered here! We are in the James R. Wolff Building (also known as the P&S Building) in downtown Monroe. Our address is 312 Grammont St., Suite 406, across from St. Francis Medical Center. Also, follow The Medical Spa by St. Francis Medical Group on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date on our weekly specials, sales, promotions and giveaways.

Plunge, Pump, & Decompress

The Wellness Center and CrossFit Iron Pelican


tub and encourages you to take the plunge! Our members are immersing themselves, enjoying the fruits of cold exposure therapy: reducing muscle soreness, accelerating muscle recovery, boosting the immune system, calming inflammation, and increasing your metabolic rate. Non-members are welcome to plunge and experience the positives of cold therapy.

Speaking of muscle soreness, pumping iron, aka lifting weights, increases the size of your muscles, burning more fat while at rest, thus reducing body fat and building lean mass. The more we exercise with weights, the better our posture is, the stronger our bones are, taking the pressure of weight better. Fact: It’s never too late to start pumping iron. As we age, our muscles lose mass, strength, and the ability to grow, putting us at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. So get to pumping!

We have several different avenues for members to take regarding lifting weights. Some members are comfortable on the main weight training floor amidst dumbbells and squat cages. Some more at home on our Women’s Only Floor, while others prefer an instructor led strength training environment such as Les Mills’ Body Pump or Obie Sims’ ladies only circuit class. For those that desire a 1-on-1 approach, our certified Personal Trainers can develop an exercise routine tailored to your fitness goals, taking into consideration your current abilities and schedule, and produce a trackable plan that is safe and fits you well.

For new members, we understand that nothing is more frustrating than trying to figure out what to do at the gym, which is why we offer three free training sessions for all new members! Our desire is to get you started in the right direction, because as we all know, knowledge is power. Our fit staff is trained on every piece of equipment and eagerly wants to pass that knowledge on to you. We want you to fully experience our gym’s culture, member services, and have the confidence you need to achieve success. Show up today and get started!

Our mental, emotional, and physical health are equally important and should be prioritized as such. The Wellness Center takes a comprehensive approach to our members’ well-being and encourages to decompress with yoga. Yoga helps reduce stress and anxiety, leading to greater self-awareness, lengthier attention span, increased concentration, and acute focus. Our certified instructors specialize in various forms of yoga, intent on providing you with a transformative

session that positively permeates in other aspects of your life- supporting stress management, mental health, mindfulness, and quality sleep. Attend one of our yoga classes that are taught all week long throughout the day and decompress.

Fear not. If yoga is not your go-to for stress relief, swim your stress away in our indoor heated pool. Studies show swimming stimulates the brain, releasing endorphins and other stress-reducing hormones. And, since swimming is a non-weight bearing exercise, doctors conclude it allows even those with painful joints, disabilities, or injury to exercise weightlessly and without pain. We offer several aqua fitness classes and have open lanes for lap swimming. You will not find a better indoor water fitness program in this area!

With over 60+ Group Fitness Classes from Boot Camp to Battle Ropes and all in between, we’ve got you covered. If you want to shake your booty, then head on to CARDIO HIP HOP taught by Lamont. If you need to strengthen that booty, take a BARRE318 class. My personal favorite, Body Combat, will have you channeling your inner Rocky in no time. (Deidra’s a beast!)

You’ve heard the expression “Work smarter not harder.” That is where nutrition comes into play. Food is fuel. The more you know about the fuel you are putting in your body, the better you can equip your body for maximum performance and long-term results. Our certified nutrition and fitness coach can take the guesswork out of balancing your plate with macronutrients and calorie consumption. Coach Tara takes clients at the beginning of each month with non-members welcome. With one-on-one sessions and periodic check ins, she creates a macro nutrition plan based on your goals: Gain muscle, lose fat, maintenance. Sign up today at the front desk for her next session!

Finish your workout with a soak in the jacuzzi or a detox in our steam room, cleansing your body of toxins, impurities, and harmful chemicals.

Offering free childcare for our Wellness and CrossFit Iron Pelican members, come in today and join! At CFIP, you get two gyms for the price of one. $105 per month gets you CFIP and The Wellness Center, where we are dedicated to serving our members and community in their fitness journey. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook @wmwellnesscenter @ cfironpelican or visit us online at & www.


Today was the day. Our journey from the US mainland had been designed specifically to bring us to this spot off the coast of France on this particular day. The shoreline was indistinct with haze as I gazed from the deck of our “transport” ship. We did have an advantage that others brought to this beach did not have. Yesterday afternoon we received a briefing on the plans for battle from Dwight David Eisenhower. And Eisenhower was coming with us to the Normandy battlefields. There is no one alive who knows more about the planning and operation of the WWII Normandy landings than D. David Eisenhower II. Professor Eisenhower wrote the definitive book (977 pages) on General Eisenhower’s conduct of the war and associated political ramifications. In addition to researching every scrap of paper left from WWII- including personal diaries- in regards to Normandy and other aspects of the war, he had access to the personal thoughts of his grandfather and other key generals and politicians who were still alive in the late sixties, seventies and early eighties. Eisenhower’s book was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in history in 1987.

How close was David to his grandfather? Camp David is named after him.

David’s other advantage was his wife Julie. Julie Nixon. A renowned historian in her own right, Julie had her own access and insights from growing up in the White House during two presidencies- that of her grandfather-in-law to be and that of her father.

The Normandy beaches today are European vacation spots lined with villages, private homes, inns and tourist shops. As David told us, France cannot afford to set aside land for battlefield parks. If you consider all the battlefields in France from WWII back to Roman times, every square foot of France would be a war memorial park. Still, it was jarring to see people playing and enjoying the sun and sand where so many gave their lives in battle. Offsetting that, there were American flags everywhere- businesses, public buildings and private homes throughout the region. Flags of all of the Allies were displayed but often with private homes it was only the flags of America, France and Normandy. US military vehicles were also everywhere, both static displays and restored jeeps and trucks running up and down the roads.

Omaha Beach is different from any of the other assault beaches in Normandy. Its crescent curve contains an unusual assortment of bluffs, cliffs and draws. The high ground above it made it the most defensible beach of those chosen for D-Day. Many planners did not believe it acceptable for a major landing. Any advance made by troops from the beach would be limited to steep, narrow passages between the bluffs.

German strong points commanded all the approaches and pillboxes were situated in the draws with the capability to enfilade assaulting troops. All German positions were hardened against naval gunfire and would need to be taken out by direct assault. Adding to the , allied intelligence failed to discover a nearly full-strength infantry division had recently arrived for rest and recuperation after intense combat.

I might have a visualization advantage here that most visitors do not possess. In my training with the Marine Corps I assaulted beaches carrying a rifle and wearing olive utilities and web gear very similar to those used in the 1940s. I even wore than very heavy M1942 steel pot helmet. No live ammo was shot in my direction but I do know the feeling of pulling up to the sand and exiting with all that gear while the sound of battle rages around me.

Standing on the sand with my own beach assault memories, it was possible to gaze to the Channel at locations where no other person was in direct view and imagine the thousands of ships sitting offshore. To see the landing craft open to the beach and others behind waiting their turns. To see the explosions, the bullets striking, the carnage of bodies, parts and blood everywhere. In the water the men who were shot mingled with those who drowned when they plunged into water that was too deep for their bodies weighted down with gear. During the first three hours, the casualty rate for the American soldiers was 90%.

The German fortifications above Omaha Beach had been subjected to a massive bombing and naval gunfire barrage prior to the first landings. We got a sense of how extensive this must have been when we visited the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc to the east. Here the German bunkers still stand among overgrown craters of sizes up to 50 feet across and twenty feet deep. Despite the naval bombardment at Pointe du Hoc, the German troops were still there and ready when the 2nd Ranger battalion arrived to begin scaling the 110 foot cliffs to disable the six 155mm guns believed to be located there.

I stood on Omaha Beach with my imagination and thoughts and my eyes misted over. The courage, daring and unbelievable patriotism of the men of the 1st and 29th Divisions cannot be overstated. All veterans were invited to participate with David in a wreath ceremony at the American Cemetery. Standing in an American cemetery in France and singing the Star Spangled Banner was moving enough. But looking at those 9388 American graves when Taps was played was more than I or most others could resist and tears began to flow.

Resilient Beauty

Where Artistry Meets Nursing Excellence

RESILIENT BEAUTY IS A MEDI-SPA THAT PERFECTLY encapsulates the fusion of artistic passion and medical expertise.

Founded by Brittany Benton in 2019 and officially branded in 2020, Resilient Beauty has quickly established itself as a premier destination for those seeking top-tier aesthetic treatments. Brittany’s journey is one of intertwining her love for art with her professional nursing career, creating a unique approach to beauty and wellness.

A Vision Realized

Brittany Benton’s vision for Resilient Beauty was born out of her lifelong passion for the arts and a deep commitment to nursing. By combining these two fields, she has created a medi-spa that offers a range of services designed to enhance facial aesthetics. The primary offerings at Resilient Beauty include toxins, fillers, and medical-grade skincare, all aimed at rejuvenating the face.

Innovative Treatments for a Youthful Look

Resilient Beauty specializes in treatments that target the face, helping clients achieve a refreshed and youthful appearance. Toxins, such as Botox, are used to relax facial muscles, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and making the skin look smoother and younger. Fillers are another key service, adding volume to areas that have lost their plumpness or contouring the face to achieve a desired look.

Medical-grade skincare is also a cornerstone of Resilient Beauty’s offerings. These products are essential for clients with complex skin conditions or those simply wanting to achieve a clean and refreshed look.

Unique Expertise from the Emergency Department

What truly sets Resilient Beauty apart is the unique background of its founders. Both Brittany Benton and Renee Chelette come from Emergency Department settings, bringing a high level of precision, care, and compassion to their aesthetic practice. Their skills were honed during some of life’s hardest and darkest moments, providing critical care to the sick and injured. Now, they apply these skills in a new setting, building relationships with clients and helping them look and feel their best.

The mother-daughter dynamic adds a special touch to Resilient Beauty. Their age gap allows them to connect with a wide range of clients, offering diverse perspectives and experiences. This bond creates a welcoming and familial atmosphere in the spa, where clients feel valued and understood. Their journey is deeply rooted in faith. They trusted God to guide their path, believing that they were following His plan for their lives. This faith is a cornerstone of their practice, infusing their work with a sense of purpose and fulfillment. They view their work at Resilient Beauty not just as a job, but as a calling.

Client-Centered Care

At Resilient Beauty, the client’s needs and desires are always the top priority. The consultation process is thorough and personalized, with Brittany and her team listening to each client’s concerns, analyzing their skin, and developing custom treatment plans with follow-ups.

Professional development is also a key focus at Resilient Beauty. The team continually engages in ongoing classes, certifications, and one-onone training to stay at the forefront of the industry. This commitment to excellence ensures that clients receive the highest standard of care.

The clinic experience at Resilient Beauty is unlike any other. Brittany often forgoes the traditional white coat to create a more relaxed and approachable environment, especially for clients who bring their children. Conversations cover a wide range of topics before any treatments begin, emphasizing a philosophy of personalized care. Brittany believes in a “less is more” approach, ensuring that clients achieve natural and subtle enhancements.

Training and networking are integral to Resilient Beauty’s success. Brittany has had the opportunity to learn from advanced injectors associated with the brands they carry, gaining insights and techniques from experts across the globe. These experiences have enriched her practice, bringing a wealth of knowledge and skill to her small-town spa.

In the small town where Resilient Beauty is located, Brittany sees other practitioners not as competitors but as coworkers. She believes in a collaborative approach, where everyone supports each other to create a more beautiful and confident community. There is enough opportunity for everyone to succeed, and Brittany takes pride in contributing to a town that values mutual support.

Resilient Beauty is deeply committed to giving back to the community. Brittany and her team are involved in various fundraisers, giveaways, and donations, always ready to support those in need. This generosity is rooted in Brittany’s own experiences of receiving love and opportunities throughout her life, and she strives to pay it forward through her work.

Looking Ahead

Brittany envisions continued growth, an increase in clientele, and ongoing improvements to their services. This journey is about more than just business; it’s a reflection of this dynamic duo. They are ready for whatever comes next, confident in their skills, faith, and support of their community.

Resilient Beauty stands as a testament to the power of combining art, medical expertise, and compassion. It’s a place where clients can enhance their appearance, boost their confidence, and feel genuinely cared for by a team that treats them like family.



I REMEMBER how, about thirty years ago, the members of our church celebrated Independence Day. We gathered at the home of one of our members who lived on Poverty Point Reservoir. There, several of our deacons cooked barbecue for the assembled group. Some participated in games while others just enjoyed talking with one another in a comfortable setting dominated by huge, beautiful oak trees. We were enjoying the grandeur of God’s creation and the freedom that was ours as citizens of the United States of America.


After the sumptuous meal, we were entertained by a vocalist from a neighboring church who sang patriotic songs. Perhaps the highlight of his presentation was the singing of a song popularized by Lee Greenwood named “God Bless the USA.” When the singer came to the words “I’ll gladly stand up...,” everyone present stood in a spontaneous acclimation of gratitude to God for our country. I have no doubt that there were a number of those who had tears in their eyes, but I cannot be sure - I couldn’t see because of my own tears!

I miss this spirit of love for our country that is less likely to be seen July 4th of this year. Pride of country is not as widely expressed in this day when our beloved nation is not nearly as beloved as was the case a generation ago. In fact, during the protests against Israel’s military action in Gaza, it was not unusual to see some demonstrators burning the flag of our country. I am aware that individuals or groups have the

Constitutional right to express themselves, but I am perplexed by the fervor seen in the criticism of our nation. We are not a people without flaws, and we have been guilty of much that was wrong, but can any other country claim to have a record as benevolent as ours? Personally, I think we can celebrate our years of independence with a measure of pride. Furthermore, we can take umbrage when men and women who have served sacrificially are maligned by those who have benefitted from the sacrifices of those heroes.

When I was a student in the elementary grades, there was a measure of patriotism that marked our conduct. There was the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance as well as a prayer every day. Special days were observed to help us remember our heritage. And history classes did not ignore individuals or incidents that marked that history. Recently there has been a lot written and said about “The Greatest Generation”- men and women who fought valiantly in World War II and then gave their best efforts to rebuild a world at peace. We applaud them and pray that God would mercifully send us another generation like that one. Let me suggest that as we celebrate Independence Day this month we give some thought to how God has blessed us in that we were born in this country and to have enjoyed an incomparable freedom purchased by the sacrifices of those who have given their lives to defend that freedom. And perhaps you would like to join me in this prayer: “God bless the USA!”

Meredith’s Musings


I’ve never felt more American than two hours after landing in London. I had gifted myself the trip to London and Paris to celebrate a recent milestone and because I wanted alone time with Husband. Why not book two whole weeks in two other countries? Leading up to our departure, I was anxious - dreading the 8-hour flight as I loathe confined spaces, yet ecstatic to finally breathe in another culture. And let me tell you, 8-hour flights are no joke. Two hours in, I looked longingly at first-class with their stretched-out cubicles and fully-reclined seats with verdant envy. When we landed, I couldn’t escape the Boeing 777 fast enough, veering around people through the tunnel to soak in someone else’s air. Husband struggled to keep up, carrying 75% of the luggage to avoid my inevitable meltdown. Note - I like the idea of experiencing life outside my comfort zone. I will go to great lengths to put myself in those situations, but I will melt down about 27 times per trip. Afterwards, I will look longingly at Husband and say something along the lines of, “That was amazing, wasn’t it?”

You can imagine his response.

I had meticulously planned out every day of our two-week trip. I had a mapped-out itinerary that prioritized seeing as much of London and Paris as possible without exhausting ourselves. I grouped experiences by location and opening times. I knew more about the English capital than some of the locals it seemed. It’s a delicate balance. On one hand I thought, When will I ever be here again? But the rational side of me knew that checking things off my list could quickly trump the experience itself. Needless to say, I was in a semi-rush to get our sightseeing underway.

We collected our 49.8-pound bags each and started navigating the airport to get to the metro that would take us to Paddington Station, the epicenter of London’s massive railway system. It hosts 16 different platforms and stretches city blocks with streets connecting throughout. People are running everywhere, in all different directions, seemingly understanding this cluster of mass transit. Ever run over an ant bed and the little bugs scatter? Now picture being an ant on the mound

- that’s Paddington Station. Husband tinkered with his phone, claimed “I got it,” and off we went. And we went. And we went. And thirty minutes later, I noticed we passed the same Pret a Manger (a coffee shop chain on every corner of London) that we passed earlier. I knew it was the same one because the same dark-haired woman was reading a book on my to-read list and it had caught my attention before I became irritated and tired. “We’re going in circles,” I screamed. “With luggage.” No one noticed my outburst; no one glared at me for disrupting the metro harmony. I was invisible, another ant on the hill.

I had that sinking feeling in my stomach. What if I hate being here? I’ve already paid for weeks. Will this be one of those times that my idealization overshadowed reality? Am I too pampered to adjust to European culture enough to enjoy this vacation? After hopping on the third train headed in the wrong direction, only to turn around and drag luggage up stairs to get to the other side, some woman took pity on us. And boy did we look pitiful. She explained the map, notably that the route

involved a destination but took different offshoots detailed in the English speak “by way of” to signal a direction. Having focused on the destination, we were essentially navigating the city by circling the perimeter, not time-savvy and not on my itinerary. Needless to say, we made it to the hotel, promptly crashed on the bed, and skipped items 1-3 for that afternoon. Food and sleep reigned supreme. By the end of Day 2, we understood the metro. We jokingly laughed at the undignified versions of ourselves only 48 hours prior. The experience was a lesson into why Husband and I work so well. I freak out, he calms down, and the yin and yang remain intertwined. He jokes, “I’d never do The Amazing Race with you,” to which I respond, “Please, I know my limits.” When I reiterated the story over text to a friend in Spain, he wrote back, “International travel tests people. Be kind to one another.” I love how this person insisted it was a joint effort when only one of us needed the reminder. I’m internationally curious yet American to the coresuch is life.

Will Source

A Deep-Rooted Legacy in Northeast Louisiana


might appear to be the new kid on the block among employment agencies in Northeast Louisiana, but its roots run deep within the community. The foundation of WillSource’s commitment to providing exceptional staffing solutions can be traced back to 1968, when Wayne Williamson inaugurated his first franchise of Snelling Personnel Services in Monroe, Louisiana.

Wayne Williamson’s dedication to matching top-tier, careerminded individuals with premier employers laid the groundwork for a business model focused on quality and excellence. By the early 1990s, the employment landscape had begun to shift, with a growing trend toward temporary placements. Recognizing this change, Williamson and Snelling ventured into the temporary staffing market, a move that would prove pivotal for the future of Williamson’s business endeavors.

Fueled by relentless drive and tenacity, Wayne Williamson expanded his franchised offices with Snelling to over 40 locations. This remarkable growth culminated in an unprecedented agreement where Snelling offered to buy out Williamson’s franchise contract. This buyout provided him the freedom to establish his own staffing company, leading to the birth of WillStaff Worldwide.

Headquartered in Monroe, WillStaff Worldwide quickly became a formidable player in the staffing industry. The company expanded to 40 offices across Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, and Mississippi, billing $60 million annually. With approximately 250 employees in the corporate office and processing over 50,000 W-2s each year, WillStaff Worldwide made a significant impact on the regional job market.

The success of WillStaff Worldwide was a family affair. Kathy Williamson, Wayne’s wife, played an integral role in the company, taking on multiple responsibilities including Branch Manager and Regional Vice President. Their daughter, Anna Kaye Robertson, grew up immersed in the staffing industry. Her first after-school job was as an Administrative Assistant in WillStaff’s Monroe branch. Over the years, Anna’s passion for staffing blossomed, and she held various roles within the company, including Recruiter, Staffing Specialist, Branch Manager, and Area Director. Her dedication and expertise were recognized through numerous awards and accolades from both talent and clients.

In 2003, the family business attracted the attention of Japan’s Crystal Company LTD, which saw WillStaff Worldwide as a valuable investment opportunity. Wayne Williamson agreed to sell the company, continuing to serve as President under Crystal’s ownership. Under his leadership,

WillStaff grew exponentially, reaching $220 million in sales and expanding to over 90 offices across 37 states by 2010.

After an impressive 42-year career in the staffing industry, Wayne Williamson retired, followed by Kathy six months later. However, retirement did not suit the Williamsons. In 2012, Kathy returned to the industry, launching Diversity One Staffing and Recruiting in Monroe. This venture expanded to three locations in Louisiana before being acquired by an Oklahoma-based company in 2016. Anna, after a brief hiatus, re-entered the staffing world as a Vice President in 2016.

The legacy continued in 2019 when Anna and Kathy launched WillSource Staffing and Recruiting. Anna’s nearly three decades of experience in the industry, combined with her deep-rooted passion for staffing, fuel her commitment to helping the citizens of Northeast Louisiana find fulfilling employment opportunities. WillSource prides itself on partnering with the region’s top employers, aiming to become their staffing agency of choice.

WillSource employs proven concepts and sophisticated matching techniques to ensure the best fit for both employees and employers. Their understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities in Northeast Louisiana, built on their extensive history in the area, enables them to offer tailored solutions. This local expertise, coupled with a legacy of over 56 years in the staffing industry, underscores WillSource’s position as the preferred staffing agency in the region.

For those seeking staffing solutions or career changes, WillSource Staffing and Recruiting stands ready to assist. They specialize in temporary, temp-to-hire, and direct hire placements across various fields, including industrial, clerical, professional, and administrative sectors. All searches are conducted with the utmost confidentiality, ensuring both clients and candidates receive the best possible service.

WillSource Staffing and Recruiting exemplifies a commitment to excellence, deeply embedded in a rich history of service to Northeast Louisiana. With a combination of seasoned expertise and innovative staffing strategies, they continue to build on a legacy of matching talent with opportunity, proving that they are not just another staffing agency, but a cornerstone of the community’s employment landscape.

DKS Mobile Grooming

Winner of the Best Groomer BayouBuzz Award


Mobile Grooming in 2017 and haven’t looked back since! We would like to thank our wonderful fleet of groomers, as well as our multitude of clients, for voting DKS “Best Groomer” again, in the 2024 Bayou Buzz Awards. We are so grateful for such a loyal clientele base, and truly love each and every pooch we service! None of this would be possible without you! Don’t forget, our sister company, Delta K9 Solutions, can help with all your dog training needs! Also, keep an eye out for something else new coming soon!


Let DKS Mobile Grooming change your pooches life! It can be a struggle for most people to load up their pet and take them to a groomer. Maybe it’s physically exhausting, or you simply don’t have the time to wait around all day for your pet to be ready for pick up at a conventional salon. Even worse, your pet may also fall under some grooming salons’ “ungroomable” category based off their breed, size, or temperament. Maybe your pet is in its senior years and it’s too stressful for a simple trip to the groomers. No worries, DKS has you covered!

Let our professionally-trained, insured, dog-loving groomers pamper your pooch with a well-deserved “Spaw Day!”


DKS offers two, full-service grooming packages: Deluxe and VIP. Our pricing is based on each dog’s breed and condition. Our owner-operator groomers will drive their mobile grooming salon to your home, workplace, or preferred address.

Our Deluxe Spaw Day Package includes a pre-brush to remove excess dirt, grime, and loose hair followed with a thorough bath with your choice of one of DKS’s vet recommended shampoos. A relaxing, tearless blueberry facial is used to break down eye deposits and prevent eye irritation in the bathing step. We then towel dry off excess water and then use our force air, high speed blow dryers to completely remove any dampness that remains. A full deshedding and de-matting treatment are also completed and then finished off with a “brush and fluff” for a smooth coat. Nails are clipped and dremmel-filed, and a rejuvenating balm is used for a paw pad rejuvenation. You also can add a pop of color by getting their nails painted! Ears are cleaned out and plucked if necessary. They even

brush your pooches teeth and finish their spaw day with a signature blueberry cologne and a seasonal Bandana or bow. Upgrade to the VIP Spaw Day if your pet needs any type of sanitary cut, maintenance trimming, or full blown shave down!

More importantly, all Spaw days can be customized to your dog’s specific needs. Flea and Tick treatment is offered for pets in need. They also have medicated, soothing oatmeal, odor clenz, black n’ white, deshedding, moisturizing, and hypoallergenic shampoo options. Speak with DKS Mobile Grooming’s educated groomers about which choice would best suite your pooches’ needs.

DKS Mobile Grooming services have revolutionized the beauty industry by offering unparalleled convenience, tailored experiences, and professional expertise. With a focus on personalization, safety, and sustainability, mobile grooming is transforming the way individuals access beauty and grooming services. As this industry continues to thrive, it is clear that on-demand beauty at your doorstep is here to stay. The maintenance team has grown to accommodate the growing fleet of DKS Mobile Grooming, by working 24-hours a day. We also take pride in safety for not only your pooch but their groomers, as well.

Over the last few years, DKS Mobile grooming has completed thousands of grooms for over eight thousand clients in their service area. They service from Vicksburg, Mississippi to Shreveport, Louisiana, and just about everywhere in between, Christi stated, “Our clients and their dogs are our priority! We are so thankful that our clients recognize the hard work and immense logistics that goes into running a mobile grooming fleet. We couldn’t have grown without the immense support of our clients. We emphasize in educating our clients on how to take care of their dogs coats in between grooming as well.” DKS Mobile salons have routes 7 days per week to better serve their customers. The convenience they offer, as well as the full service grooming they provide is second to none. Try out the new way to grooming by giving their office a call!

Lauren Roebuck Designs

A Premier Furniture and Decor Destination in Ruston, Louisiana


Designs stands as a beacon of style, quality, and exceptional customer service. With two expansive buildings encompassing a total of 11,000 square feet, this premier furniture store offers an extensive array of furniture, gifts, and decor items that cater to diverse tastes and preferences. Lauren Roebuck Designs is more than just a store; it is a curated experience where every piece is thoughtfully selected to enhance the beauty and functionality of your home.

Lauren Roebuck Designs prides itself on offering a wide selection of high-quality furniture from some of the most renowned brands in the industry. Whether you are looking to furnish your living room, dining room, or bedroom, you will find an impressive range of pieces that combine style, comfort, and durability. Among the esteemed brands featured in the store are:

• Sherrill: Known for its fine craftsmanship and timeless designs, Sherrill offers an array of upholstered furniture that can be customized to suit your specific needs.

• Massoud: This brand is synonymous with luxury and elegance, providing high-end furniture that makes a statement in any room.

• King Hickory: Renowned for its robust construction and classic appeal, King Hickory furniture is designed to withstand the test of time.

• Craftmaster: Offering a blend of traditional and contemporary styles, Craftmaster’s furniture is both versatile and stylish.

• Fairfield: Known for its attention to detail and superior comfort, Fairfield provides a wide range of seating and accent furniture.

• John Richard: This brand is celebrated for its exquisite designs and high-quality materials, offering unique pieces that add a touch of sophistication to any space.

• Uttermost: With a focus on stylish and affordable home decor, Uttermost provides a variety of accent pieces that complement any interior.

• Gabby: Gabby’s transitional furniture and decor items bridge the gap between modern and traditional, offering a unique aesthetic.

• Universal: This brand is known for its stylish and functional furniture that fits seamlessly into any home.

One of the standout features of Lauren Roebuck Designs is its specialization in custom upholstery orders. The store offers an extensive range of fabrics, leathers, and finishes, allowing customers to create bespoke pieces that perfectly match their personal style and home decor. The custom upholstery services are available for the following brands:

Sherrill, Massoud, King Hickory, and Craftmaster.

With the expertise and guidance of Lauren Roebuck and her team, customers can select the ideal combination of materials and finishes to bring their vision to life. Whether you prefer the classic elegance of Sherrill, the luxurious appeal of Massoud, the durable craftsmanship of King Hickory, or the versatile styles of Craftmaster, the possibilities for customization are virtually endless.

In addition to its impressive furniture collection, Lauren Roebuck Designs offers a carefully curated selection of gifts and home decor items. From elegant accessories and stylish lighting to beautiful artwork and unique decorative pieces, the store is a treasure trove of inspiration for anyone looking to enhance their home or find the perfect gift. The diverse range of decor items ensures that there is something for every taste and style, making it easy to find pieces that resonate with your aesthetic preferences.

Lauren Roebuck Designs is not just a furniture store; it is also home to one of the most celebrated interior decorators in the region. Lauren Roebuck has been recognized as the Best Interior Decorator for four consecutive years, a testament to her exceptional talent and dedication to creating beautiful, functional spaces. Her approach to interior design is characterized by a deep understanding of her clients’ needs and preferences, combined with a keen eye for detail and a passion for creating harmonious, inviting environments.

Lauren’s design philosophy is rooted in the belief that every space should reflect the personality and lifestyle of its occupants. Whether working on a single room or an entire home, she takes the time to understand her clients’ vision and collaborates closely with them to bring it to life. Her expertise extends to all aspects of interior design, including space planning, color selection, furniture arrangement, and accessorizing. The result is a cohesive and aesthetically pleasing space that feels both comfortable and sophisticated.

Lauren Roebuck Designs has built a reputation for excellence in Ruston and beyond, attracting customers who appreciate fine furniture, beautiful decor, and exceptional service. The store’s commitment to quality is evident in every piece it offers, ensuring that customers can invest in furniture and decor that will enhance their homes for years to come.

It is a destination for anyone looking to elevate their home with beautiful, high-quality furniture and decor. With two buildings filled with an extensive selection of pieces from top brands, a specialization in custom upholstery, and award-winning interior design services, the store offers everything you need to create a stylish and inviting home. Visit Lauren Roebuck Designs in Ruston, Louisiana, and discover the perfect blend of elegance, comfort, and personalized service.

Commercial Capital Bank Open House

On Thursday, May 16th Commercial Capital Bank recently hosted a successful Open House event, bringing together clients, partners, and community members. The evening featured an elegant champagne toast celebrating the newly renovated location on North 18th Street in Monroe and future prospects. Guests enjoyed gourmet appetizers and a live music performance from the talented Josh Madden. The event provided an excellent opportunity for networking and engagement, with attendees learning about the bank’s latest offerings. Commercial Capital Bank thanks everyone who attended, making the event a memorable celebration of shared success.

On the BayouScene

1 Alex Webre, Zach and Pamela Stephens and Jeremy Harrell

2 Hunter Thomas, Harmony Wesley, Talisa Greer, Dianna Haring, and Shannon Lockard

3 Pam and Larry Pickett

4 Bo and Dianna Haring, and Joyce and Shannon Lockard

5 Joyce and Shannon Lockard, and Rae Pounders

6 Lauren Davis and Larry Pickett

7 Daniel Echols, Amber Smith, Ashley Williams, Alex Webre, Doran Smith, Ben Burch, and Jeffrey Laudenheimer

8 Ben Burch, Pam and Larry Pickett, Lily, Lauren, Paige and Heath Davis

9 Doran Smith, Eddie Fuller, Ben Burch, and Joey Gardunio

10 Heath, Lily, Lauren, and Paige Davis

11 Lauren Davis, Ashley Kirk, and Anna K Robertson

12 Michael Echols, Sharon and Chuck Echols

13 Lauren Davis and Valerie Matherne

15 Pam and Donnie Laudenheimer, Shannon Lockard, and Kelsey Laudenheimer

16 Delbert Wilbanks, Scott Ashbrook, and Debbie Wilbanks

17 Sandy McMillan and Lauren Davis

Bayou Buzzworthy







Most Neutral Vodka

Real Vodka, Real Juice and Real Seltzer, Nothing Else

NÜTRL VODKA SELTZER IS A TASTY, SESSIONABLE beverage that is unpretentious and uncomplicated. The gluten-free drink, which recently launched in the U.S., boasts a simple and straightforward recipe: real vodka, real juice and real seltzer, nothing else. NÜTRL is available in four flavors — pineapple, raspberry, and watermelon — and contains 4.5% alcohol inside a 355mL can, with no added sugar. In total, each can contains only 100 calories and 2.4g of sugar.

Cranberry: NÜTRL Cranberry Vodka Seltzer is sure to be a crowd favorite each season. NÜTRL Cranberry is a refreshingly light, tasty, easy drinking, low calorie cocktail that is simple, clean and uncomplicated. Made with Real Vodka, Real Juice and Sparkling Water. Features four flavors: Cranberry, Cran Orange, Cran Apple & Cran Grapefruit.

Lemonade: NÜTRL Lemonade Vodka Seltzer is made with simple ingredients like vodka, seltzer, real lemon juice and cane sugar. It combines the slightly sweet and pleasantly tart taste of lemonade with the light and refreshing taste of vodka seltzer. At just 100 calories and gluten free, NÜTRL Lemonade Vodka Seltzer is so simply delicious it will put you in a summer mindset all year-round. It is available in the flowing Flavors: Classic Lemonade, Blackberry Lemonade, Peach Lemonade and Strawberry Lemonade.

Pineapple: NÜTRL Vodka Seltzer Pineapple is a refreshing light, low calories pineapple seltzer. For pineapple lovers, NÜTRL pineapple is gluten free, has no added sugars, uses natural flavors, all with just 100 calories.

Raspberry: NÜTRL Vodka Seltzer Raspberry is a light and tasty drink with a zing of raspberry. Relax and sip away as you enjoy a gluten free seltzer with natural flavors and added sugar. Oh, and it’s only 100 calories.

Watermelon: NÜTRL Vodka Seltzer Watermelon is your new favorite simple and tasty watermelon seltzer. NÜTRL Watermelon is gluten free, with no added sugar with all natural flavore and only 100 calories.

Anheuser-Busch is one of the largest companies in the beer market. As ready-to-drink beverages have become the fastestgrowing alcohol category in the U.S., the company is looking to expand its stake in the alcohol business with its newest addition

to the category. In the last year alone, more than 181 seltzers were introduced in the increasingly saturated product category. However, with each new addition to the seltzer market, the category continues to adapt to consumer preferences. Now it’s getting into the hard liquor game by way of the rapidly expanding ready-to-drink segment.

A bit more about that base spirit: Nütrl Vodka is corn-based and quadruple distilled in the Midwest—although it originally started out of an eponymous distillery in Delta, British Columbia. The initial formula involved purification through a 76-step process. And it’s this elaborate methodology which results in an especially neutral liquor. Hence the name...Get it? The people of Canada certainly did, where it is already the best-selling canned vodka cocktail in the country.

Anheuser-Busch is among the biggest names in beer, worldwide and as previously mentioned, Ready-To-Drink beverages (RTDs) are the fastest growing alcohol category in the US. And yet they still account for less than 3% of domestic spirits volume. In other words: this is just the beginning. And with Nütrl, Anheuser-Busch sees space for separation through simplicity.

One thing you shouldn’t question about NÜTRL, is that it provides an ideal blank canvas upon which fizzy water and fruit can shine. To wit, Nütrl Vodka Seltzer, canned at 4.5% ABV, is equally refreshing and sessionable. Available in variety 6-packs, it’s quite likely that you’d find yourself wanting to sample several flavors in one sitting.

From a marketing perspective, Nütrl is more noteworthy for what it lacks than for what it lends. Namely: loudness. Missing are any sort of flashy packaging flourishes or high-profile endorsements, which we’ve come to expect from the hard seltzer space these days. Presumably, the play here is that the next wave of hard seltzer consumers are responsible adults that don’t necessarily want to go “hard” at all. On the contrary, they just want something easy to drink amongst friends, that also fades easily into the background; a beverage that facilitates conversation without being a part of that conversation. If indeed that is the working model, Nütrl is wellpositioned to make a splash. A reactionary product for folks who ever feel overwhelmed or even intimidated by all the craft beer and whiskey talk of the day.

Artist Announced For Ouachita Live

Dylan LeBlanc to Perform in Downtown West Monroe

THE VIBRANT SOUNDS OF SUMMER continue in downtown West Monroe as Ouachita Live proudly announces Dylan LeBlanc as the featured artist for the July installment of its popular outdoor concert series. Known for his evocative storytelling and unique blend of rock, Americana, blues, and folk, LeBlanc is set to captivate audiences with his mesmerizing performance on Friday, July 26, 2024.

Hailing from the heart of the South, Dylan LeBlanc has crafted a reputation as a spellbinding singer-songwriter whose music echoes the tales of southern endurance and resilience. Growing up between Shreveport, Louisiana, and small towns across Texas and Alabama, LeBlanc’s rich musical heritage and nomadic spirit are reflected in his fifth album, *Coyote*. Recorded at the legendary Muscle Shoals’ Fame Studio, *Coyote* captures the essence of his wandering soul, delivering haunting melodies and smoky vocals that resonate deeply with listeners.

LeBlanc’s music is characterized by its compelling narratives and atmospheric guitar work, creating an immersive experience that transports audiences to another place and time. His performances, both solo and with his band, have garnered rave reviews from critics and fans alike, as they tour globally to share the magic of *Coyote* and other beloved tracks.

Ouachita Live, a free concert series held on the last Friday of each month from March to October, transforms Downtown West Monroe’s Alley Park into a lively hub of music and community spirit. This family-friendly event invites everyone to enjoy an evening under the stars, complete with on-site food trucks offering a variety of delicious options and a selection of spirits to enhance the festive atmosphere. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own chairs to guarantee their seat.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dylan LeBlanc to our stage,” said Sarah Johnson, Event Coordinator for Ouachita Live. “His unique

blend of genres and heartfelt storytelling will undoubtedly provide a memorable evening for all who attend. We look forward to another wonderful night of music and community in Downtown West Monroe.”

The Ouachita Live concert series is made possible through the generous support of local sponsors and community donations, which are accepted and appreciated at the event. These contributions help to ensure that this cherished community tradition continues to thrive, bringing top-notch musical talent to West Monroe each month.

July sponsors include: Choice Brands, Bermea Proudctions, Dillingham Chapman Family Eyecare, City of West Monroe and the Downtown West Monroe Revitalization Group.

Join us for an unforgettable night of music with Dylan LeBlanc at Ouachita Live on July 26. The concert begins at 7:00 PM, but be sure to arrive early to enjoy the food, drinks, and camaraderie. For more information, visit the Ouachita Live Facebook page.

About Ouachita Live

Ouachita Live is a free outdoor concert series that celebrates the diverse talent and the vibrant community spirit of West Monroe, LA. Held on the last Friday of each month from March to October in Downtown West Monroe’s Alley Park, Ouachita Live features a wide range of artists and genres, offering something for everyone to enjoy. Backup rain locations will be announced closer to the date on Facebook if necessary.


New Mexico native Walter Green, now residing in Ruston, LA, finds creative inspiration in his extensive travels and diverse life experiences, blending memories of his youth with reflections on the world around him through his art.

WHILE SEEING THE WORLD another’s eyes isn’t totally possible, looking at one of Walter Green’s paintings gets you pretty close.Though the New Mexico native draws inspiration from the things he’s seen and the long list of places he has visited, he doesn’t paint exactly what he sees. Instead, Green paints the subject matter as he remembers it, allowing the viewer to see something like a desert scene or marshy, bayou landscape from his point-of-view.

Though he did not begin pursuing art professionally until he met his wife — “She encouraged me to become a working artist,” he explains,” — Green had already been creating for years prior. He says his artistic ability was noticeable from a young age, noting with a chuckle, “I always excelled in biology because I could draw the specimens so well.” At just 12 years old, his uncle gifted Green his old paint box, paintbrushes, and a few pointers. He was an artist who had just returned from studying in Paris, Green recalls, adding, “He saw I had some talent, I guess.”


From that day on, Green was hooked. He began painting the things he was enthralled by — sunsets, animals, plants, and landscapes characteristic to the U.S. Southwest, the region he called home at the time — and continued doing so throughout his high school years. When Green graduated from high school, he headed to the Army. But active duty did not make him put his paintbrush down. He created when he could, even doing poster work for the military while he served.

When Green’s military career ended, he relocated to Denver, Colorado, where he met his now-wife, Ramona. Not long after, the pair made their way to Ruston. Thanks to G.I. Bill Benefits, he could enroll at Louisiana Tech University and earn the first of his two art degrees. The second he would earn at the Allende Institute in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico.

The combination of Green’s formal art education and his immersion in Mexican culture caused his art to evolve. Elements of the pre-Columbian art he encountered in Mexico crept into his pieces, and artists like Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, and Diego Rivera influenced Green and his work heavily.

“It all kind of comes together,” Green says, referring to the people and places that influence his work and inspire him to create.

Green had a few shows in Mexico before he and his wife returned to the United States, back to his roots in New Mexico. They settled in the mountains, he tells BayouLife, and stayed there for several years, showing art in galleries in Taos and Santa Fe. Green was making a living with his art, and things were going well — until they weren’t.

“I think there was a drought in the art market,” Green says, recalling the point when he and his wife decided to move again. This time, they were heading east, back to North Louisiana to be near Ramona’s family. Unfortunately, returning to Louisiana didn’t alleviate the financial strain the art market drought put on him and his family. His work wasn’t selling like it once had, seemingly because Ruston residents didn’t connect to the images he was painting.

“I try to find things that are uplifting to give people a sense that there is some hope for humanity. I just hope I can create something beautiful in this world that can last.”

“I wasn’t finding the interest I found earlier,” Green says. “I was still painting desert scenes and mountains and nudes. And [nudes] aren’t quite as acceptable in certain areas of the country as they are in others.”

When painting alone wasn’t enough to support his family, Green began working as a carpenter. He also applied for a position at his alma mater, Louisiana Tech. Green was hired as an adjunct instructor — later, he’d be promoted to Professional-in-Residence — in the university’s architecture department.

Green says accepting the job was the right move at the time, explaining, “I enjoyed teaching. I had done a lot of building design and build work in New Mexico. I had gotten interested in architecture a little bit. So, that helped with getting into the department here.”

This position at Louisiana Tech was not Green’s first experience as an instructor. He taught at the Allende Art Institute and Northern New Mexico Community College in the late seventies and early eighties, respectively. However, his time in the university’s School of Design was by far his longest term as an educator. Green was hired in 1999 and taught classes like Communication Skills, Foundation Design, and Studio Problems/Water Media until his retirement in 2021.

Green continued making art while teaching, sharing, “I maintained my studio here at home and had works on the easel all the time. I continued to paint just to keep my own interests alive.” But now, since retiring, he has time to focus more of his energy on his paintings.

Just as he always has, Green draws much of his inspiration from his environment. Of course, he can’t forget where he came from. That’s why desert scenes still make their way into his artwork. Besides, he adds, the desert is a highly spiritual place, so it’s no wonder he’s still so drawn to it.

“You can feel the vibration of what individual plants are putting off,” he explains. “It’s almost like they’re speaking to me from a time long, long ago.”

But now, having lived happily and comfortably in Ruston for so many years, depictions of swamps and southern greenery have shown up in Green’s paintings. He also finds himself painting more figures than he used to, often enlisting his wife or granddaughter to model for his work.

He sums up his work, a combination of his past and present, succinctly, musing, “I’d say I’m sort of trying to bring in the world around me to mingle with the world of my youth that I remember.”

As he mingles worlds, Green pays careful attention to the more technical aspects of painting. It’s these little, more intentional decisions that bring his artwork to life.

“I work with trying to keep the flatness of the material, and then I work with the fact that you can create this sense of depth and move into something where you can actually walk into my canvas and walk around,” he says. “The people, plants, and animals almost appear to come alive.”

The ability to bring his images to life is another reason he’s partial to oil paints, he explains, adding, “[Oil paint] gives me time to work with it and move the paint around on the canvas and work with different brushstrokes that bring out a sense of liveliness. The light reflects off the colors in different ways and creates an image that each viewer’s going to see a little differently because of the way each person perceives color. I like to experiment with that and bring out my own visions as well.”

The visions Green has and puts onto canvases tend to be a bit idealistic. But he isn’t naive. He knows the world isn’t perfect and has its tragic, dark, and messy sides. However, he chooses not to bring them into his art. Instead, he focuses on the more picturesque, encouraging aspects of whatever he’s painting.

“I try to find things that are uplifting to give people a sense that there is some hope for humanity,” he explains. “I just hope I can create something beautiful in this world that can last.”

Are You Due For a Checkup?

Schedule an Appointment Today

IF OUR TEAM HERE AT BAYOU DENTAL GROUP HAD our way, we’d see every single patient of ours at least twice a year for routine dental cleanings and exams. But unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

We understand that life gets pretty hectic. With work, school, and kids, it’s sometimes hard to find the time for regular dental visits when you have so many other responsibilities competing for your attention.

There are all sorts of reasons people might not make it to the dentist regularly. Maybe it’s a busy schedule, maybe it’s fear, or maybe you’re embarrassed about the state of your oral health because you’ve stayed away too long. The fact is, professional dental care can make all the difference when it comes to achieving and maintaining your healthiest smile.

That’s why Doctors David Finley, PJ Henderson and Edward Hooton and our highly-trained hygienists want to make sure you know just how important it is that you visit our Monroe, LA dental office for routine checkups! And there’s no better time to make your dental health a priority than in the New Year.



Gum disease creeps in slowly to destroy your oral health, often without you even realizing it’s happening. That’s why professional dental care matters more than anything.

In our Monroe dental office, you’ll find highly-trained hygienists who have the experience and professional tools to give your teeth and gums the deep cleaning necessary to remove plaque and tartar buildup that you can’t reach with your toothbrush and dental floss at home.

Doctors Finley, Henderson and Hooton can then thoroughly examine your mouth and catch any signs of dental problems. With technology such as digital X-rays, they are able to catch the things that threaten your oral health that you can’t see on your own. We also offer dental sealants and fluoride treatments for added protection against tooth decay and cavities, even for adults.

These are just some of the ways a dental professional can make the difference between a glowing, healthy smile and dull, damaged teeth and poor oral health.


The best defense your mouth has against harmful bacteria is prevention. That may begin with your daily oral hygiene at home, but that’s only half of what it really takes for strong, healthy teeth and gums.

You need help from professionals like you’ll find here at Bayou Dental Group. Our passion is helping patients get healthy and stay that way, but we can only help if you come to see us for regular cleanings and exams. Without vigilance and proper professional dental care, there is only so much you can do at home to maintain lasting oral health.

Buzz from the Customers

Local HVAC Company Stands Out Against the Rest

LET’S BE HONEST. IN TODAY’S WORLD, customers openly share their opinions on companies, services, and products, both positive and negative, for everyone to see and benefit from. Gilley’s is grateful for the 950+ 5-star Google Reviews, showcasing the commitment to customer service and satisfaction upheld by founder Randy Gilley, his son Randall, and the entire team.

Following are some review excerpts from the past several months …

“Wonderful service. Professional and explained the repair thoroughly. Fast service!”

“... They do a great job... Always on time. Thanks so much.”

“We are so pleased with the work we recently received. Had a new AC installed. The technicians were friendly, professional and thorough.”

“Our experience with Jeremy and Cody was awesome! Couldn’t have asked for more knowledgeable gentlemen, went above and beyond, just precious! Awesome Job! Thank you!”

“... No one could do a better job. Thank you for the excellent service!”

“... Their staff and employees are professional, courteous, and competent.…I love this company and am totally happy with them!”

“We have always been pleased with the service we have received from Gilley’s…. I would recommend Gilley’s to anyone looking for heat and air service.”

“Excellent service. We have had the technician out before. Very friendly-fast service. Always very happy with Gilley’s. Will certainly continue having them as our HVAC service provider. Very competent in their work. Thank you very much.”

“Gilley’s technicians provide experienced, courteous and professional service at every visit … Thank you for a wonderful customer experience every time, no matter the issue. Whether maintenance or service call, you can expect quality work.”

“Gilley’s Heating & Cooling is the best!! We

have had both A/C and Heating units installed by them in recent years. The service is prompt and technicians are courteous, knowledgeable, respectful of our home and willing to answer all questions.”

“We are so pleased to hear our customers’ feedback and appreciate their choosing Gilley’s to entrust us with their service and equipment needs,” states Randy Gilley. “Only the actual customers can fully express these reviews based on their experiences with Gilley’s, and we could not be prouder of our service crew and staff.”

Gilley’s is proud to accept the Bayou Buzz “Best HVAC/Heating and Air” award for the eighth consecutive year and plans to continue to provide that award winning professionalism and service for many years to come!

Randall adds, “and we like to remind people of our 4-part Satisfaction Guarantee to cover repairs, replacement, lowest price, and operating temperature. All the details are online at”

DermaMediQ Medical Spa

Discover Enhanced Feminine Health with InMode’s VTone


example of cutting-edge aesthetic and wellness treatments in Monroe, Louisiana. Located at 1705 Lamy Lane, our medispa, under the expert guidance of Dr. Sowma, is dedicated to providing innovative solutions to enhance your health and confidence. One such revolutionary treatment we are proud to offer is InMode’s VTone procedure, a breakthrough in women’s feminine health.

What is VTone?

VTone by InMode is a non-invasive, FDAapproved treatment designed to address a variety of feminine health concerns. Using radiofrequency energy, VTone offers a safe and effective solution for women experiencing issues related to vaginal laxity, dryness, stress urinary incontinence, and decreased sexual satisfaction. The procedure is quick, typically painless, and requires no downtime, making it an ideal option for women seeking significant improvements without the inconvenience of surgery.

The Expertise of Dr. S. Sowma

At DermaMediQ, our commitment to excellence is embodied by Dr.e Sowma, a seasoned professional with a deep understanding of female wellness and aesthetic treatments. Dr. Sowma’s expertise ensures that every patient receives personalized care tailored to their specific needs. Her compassionate approach, combined with her extensive knowledge, guarantees that you are in capable hands as you embark on your journey towards enhanced feminine health.

Benefits of VTone

1. Improved Vaginal Tightening: VTone’s radiofrequency technology stimulates collagen production, which helps in tightening the vaginal canal. This is particularly beneficial for women experiencing vaginal laxity due to childbirth or aging.

2. Enhanced Moisture and Elasticity: By promoting collagen and elastin production, VTone improves vaginal moisture levels and elasticity, addressing issues of dryness and discomfort.

3. Reduction of Stress Urinary Incontinence: Many women suffer from stress urinary incontinence, an involuntary leakage of urine during physical activities. VTone helps strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, significantly reducing or even eliminating this condition.

4. Increased Sexual Satisfaction: Enhanced vaginal tightness and improved lubrication lead to better sexual experiences, increasing overall satisfaction for both partners.

5. Quick and Comfortable Procedure: VTone sessions typically last around 20-30 minutes. The procedure is performed in a comfortable setting at DermaMediQ, and most patients describe the experience as virtually painless.

6. No Downtime: One of the greatest advantages of VTone is that there is no downtime. Women can resume their daily activities immediately after the treatment, making it a convenient option for those with busy lifestyles. Take the First Step Today

If you are experiencing feminine health concerns and are looking for a safe, effective solution, InMode’s VTone at DermaMediQ could be the answer you’ve been searching for. To learn more about this revolutionary treatment or to schedule a consultation with Dr. S. Sowma, contact us today at (318) 807-1060 or visit our medispa at 1705 Lamy Lane, Monroe, LA. Let us help you rediscover your confidence and enhance your feminine health with the advanced care you deserve.

Back to School Block Party

With DBK Dance, Blue Line Boutique, and Little Blue Kids

MARK YOUR CALENDARS! ON Friday, August 2nd, from 4 PM to 7 PM, DBK Dance & Performing Arts, Blue Line Boutique, and Little Blue Kids invite you to a sensational Back to School Block Party. This vibrant event promises an evening filled with joy, entertainment, and community spirit, offering something for everyone in the family.

Event Highlights:

• Shopping Extravaganza: Discover the latest fall fashion trends at Blue Line Boutique and Little Blue Kids. From chic women’s clothing to adorable children’s outfits, you’ll find everything you need to step into the new school year in style.

• Tour the Studio: Explore DBK Dance & Performing Arts Studio. Whether your child is an aspiring dancer or you’re considering a new hobby, the tour will showcase the fantastic facilities and programs available for the 2024-2025 season. Online registration opens on July 10th, so don’t miss this opportunity to secure a spot!

• Silent Disco Party: Dance the evening

away at the Silent Disco Party. With headphones provided, you can groove to your own beat. This unique experience is perfect for both the young and young at heart, making it a must-try activity at the block party.

• Special Characters: The younger crowd will be delighted by appearances from beloved special characters. These friendly faces will be available for photos and to entertain, adding an extra layer of magic to the evening.

Participating Vendors:

• The Blue Taco: Satisfy your cravings with delicious tacos that are sure to be a hit.

• Forever Bracelet Bar: Check out the latest in custom jewelry and grab a bracelet that will remind you of this special night.

• Hebrews Coffee: Get your groove on with a fresh cup of coffee.

• Lemon Squeezy Lemonade: Refresh yourself with a cool, tangy lemonade – a perfect summer treat.

• 3B Vibes Hat Bar: Find the perfect hat to

top off your outfit at this trendy hat bar.

• Caro Confetti: Add some sparkle to your day with confetti and fun party supplies.

• Fluff 318: Indulge in sweet, fluffy cotton candy that will delight your taste buds.

• Bayou Bites Freeze Dried Candy: Experience candy like never before with unique freeze-dried treats.

• The DanceWearhouse: Gear up for the new dance season with apparel and accessories from The DanceWearhouse.

• And More! Expect a variety of other vendors offering fantastic products and services.

The block party is not just about shopping; it’s a celebration of community. Enjoy a range of delicious food options while mingling with friends and neighbors. The diverse food vendors ensure there’s something to satisfy every palate.

This Back-to-School Block Party is the perfect way to wrap up the summer and get excited for the upcoming school year. It’s a wonderful opportunity to connect with local businesses, support the community, and have an unforgettable evening filled with fun activities for all ages.

Join Us! Whether you’re looking to shop the latest trends, enjoy delicious food, dance the night away, or simply spend quality time with your family, the Back-to-School Block Party is the place to be. Mark your calendars and join us for an evening of unforgettable fun and festivities!

LDCC Students Tour Power Plant

Partnership With Industry Advisors Beneficial For Students

AN EXCERPT FROM LDCC’S OVERALL Human Sciences (CEHS) welcomed 60 students to Louisiana Tech University to participate in Camp Invention.

An excerpt from LDCC’s overall mission statement reads, “In concert with our business and industry partners, Louisiana Delta Community College will expand modern equipment for our students and placement opportunities for our professional technical programs completers.” Under the leadership of Division Chair Charles Stevenson, instructors in the Industrial Technology Division are encouraged to work with our Industry Partners. This may include guest speakers in the classroom, participation in advisory boards, recruiting events, and visits to manufacturers’ facilities.

In May, students from the Industrial Instrumentation program on the Monroe campus were hosted at Entergy’s Ouachita power plant in Sterlington. After a brief safety presentation, they viewed videos on how a CCGT Turbine system functions, how efficient

the system is, how cooling water is used, and how, through the use of technology and wise use of resources, Entergy is reducing its carbon footprint while continuing to provide the region with its growing energy needs into the future.

The group was then led to the shop area where more experienced Entergy personnel trained some of their new technicians, and problems with equipment were diagnosed and repaired. This area housed transmitters, positioners and other equipment very much like what students train on in LDCC’s lab.

After this, the group toured the control room and saw “the Board”, where operators can view Electrical output, fuel flow, water temps, and all pertinent information about how all systems at the power generating plant are running.

We were fortunate to have visited during a time when one of their turbines was being rebuilt. Students could see the inside of a GE Turbine, viewing all the stationary and rotating fins that make these systems so efficient.

Lastly, students saw the transformer

“yard,” where the nominal 13,800 to 18,200 volts generated by the plant were transformed to just over ½ million volts for transmission on the power grid. This is discussed in great detail during our lectures and has been the subject of several documentaries, including “The Current Wars” – which details the controversy between Westinghouse (Tesla) and Edison. This led to the decision to adopt AC power for our grid, rather than DC.

Events such as this tour enlighten students, allowing them to see for themselves that what we discuss in class and train on in our labs is exactly what is in use at local factories and manufacturing plants. Additionally, our partners see that students are being prepared with the technical knowledge and hands-on training to install, repair, calibrate, program, and run equipment in their operations.

“It’s a win-win situation”, says Mark Ketchell, Assistant Professor of Instrumentation. Students receive training and opportunities to meet with the employers they may go to work for, while Employers see that LDCC is providing them with well-trained graduates, ready to join the workforce.

We appreciate our Industry Partners and will continue to work with them to provide our students with the best education possible and opportunities to translate those marketable skills into a career and help drive the regional economy.

Elevate Careers, Amplify Businesses

With Manpower Staffing & Recruiting

MANPOWER STANDS AT THE forefront of the global workforce solutions industry, adept at navigating the complexities of today’s rapidly evolving job market. They specialize in sourcing, assessing, developing, and managing talent across various sectors, enabling organizations to thrive and individuals to find meaningful, sustainable employment. Their expertise spans professional, industrial, and clerical hiring, and they offer a comprehensive suite of staffing solutions including full-time, part-time, temporary, temp-to-permanent, and direct hires. Additionally, they provide payroll services for project staffing, seasonal hires, and internships, ensuring flexibility and efficiency in meeting workforce demands.

At Manpower, client engagement is rooted in their philosophy of asking and listening. Their extensive experience

equips them with the ability to ask the right questions, continuously improve the process, and deliver exceptional workforce outcomes. Manpower prides themselves on optimizing workforces through strategic staffing and solutions, building strong relationships within the community to ensure the best job matches.

Ensuring a positive experience for job seekers is a priority at Manpower. They offer a wide range of job listings, catering to both temporary and permanent positions to meet varied preferences. From the application process to the interview stage and final job placement, they provide support and guidance every step of the way.

Along with their commitment in the staffing industry, Manpower is deeply involved in community and social responsibility initiatives. They actively participate in and sponsor events such

as the Bayou Jamb, Monroe Christmas Gala, Monroe Chamber Golf Tournament, supporter of West Monroe baseball team, 2023 Walk Chairmen & Supporter for Alzheimer’s Association, Louisiana chapter, City of Ruston Rudolph Run Sponsor, City of Ruston Monster Mash Participant, and various other local activities. Their commitment to the community is evident through their sponsorships and participation in events that support education, youth sports, and local festivities, fostering a sense of community and support.

Manpower’s dedication to their mission and values has remained steadfast over the years. They are proud of their team’s loyalty and commitment, which reflects in the longevity of their tenure with Manpower. Among their accolades, they cherish the recognition as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies in 2023 and their wins as the Best Staffing Agency in the Delta for 2016 and 2017. Notably, the company-wide Halloween costume contest has become a celebrated tradition, showcasing vibrant and enthusiastic company culture.

Manpower continues to be a leader in workforce solutions, driven by a commitment to excellence, community, and the power of people.

Kathleen Pourciau’s Inspiring Visit to Gardens of Somerset

A Day of Inspiration and Dreams

ON APRIL 22ND, THE GARDENS OF Somerset was abuzz with excitement as residents gathered for a special event featuring Kathleen Pourciau from This Thyme Gardens. Kathleen, an accomplished gardener and passionate advocate for gardento-table living, shared her inspiring story and practical gardening tips with the senior living community.



Kathleen began her presentation by recounting her journey into the world of gardening. She spoke about her early inspirations, the challenges she faced, and the joy she discovered in nurturing plants and creating sustainable gardens. Her story resonated with many in the audience, particularly those who had a lifelong love for gardening or were looking to start their own green spaces. She shared with the residents how important gardening is physically and mentally, as well as how healing it can truly be.


The highlight of Kathleen’s talk was her practical advice on various gardening techniques. She discussed the benefits and methods of raised bed gardening, emphasizing how this approach can make gardening more accessible and manageable, especially for seniors. She also delved into the concept of container gardening, offering creative solutions for those with limited space. Kathleen’s enthusiasm was contagious, and she provided numerous tips on how to get started, maintain healthy plants, and enjoy the fruits of one’s labor.


One of the most inspiring aspects of Kathleen’s presentation was her emphasis on garden-to-table living. She shared her philosophy on the importance of growing one’s own food and the health and wellness benefits that come from consuming fresh, homegrown produce.


Kathleen also shared her dreams for the future garden at Gardens of Somerset. She painted a vivid picture of a thriving communal garden where residents could come together to plant and nurture, all while creating memories. Her vision included a variety of different flowers, vegetables, and herbs. Creating a vibrant and serene space.


After the presentation, Kathleen took the time to visit residents in their personal spaces, offering advice and admiring their individual gardening areas. This personal touch made the event even more special and memorable. Last, Kathleen visited the green house on the grounds, and shared her vision for the space. Kathleen’s visit to the Gardens of Somerset was an absolute delight. Her expertise in gardening and her heartfelt storytelling inspired many residents. The event was a resounding success, leaving everyone eager to get their hands dirty and start their own gardens.


to serving the community.

Kravins Restaurant in Monroe, founded by Angelique Drew and her partner Alvin Square, seamlessly blends their passion for American homemade food with a commitment

HAVE YOU EVER CRAVED a food so badly you could almost taste it? You could call that a “kravin!”

Angelique Drew and her partner Alven Square created Kravins Restaurant to satisfy all your food dreams. In 2016, Kravins Restaurant opened its doors promising to be a place where the love for American homemade food and a passion for serving the community blend.

When deciding the location for Kravins Restaurant, Angelique and Alven wanted to keep it close to home. Angelique is from Monroe, LA, and her grandmother lives right down the road from the restaurant making the location an extension of home. Being around the dinner table and sharing kitchen duties with her grandmother sparked Angelque’s desire to spread that feeling of “home” to the surrounding area through food. Angelique insists, “This is where I grew up,” and the idea for Kravins began to blossom. For Alven, it is all about the food and the community; “I got a vision for cooking…I worry about the taste.” What started as an investment idea quickly became so much more.

During the holidays, prior to opening Kravins Restaurant, friends and family would flock to Angelique and Alven’s home because “we were the cooks.” Alven’s mom “cooks, cooks, cooks!” as well as Angelique’s mother who could always be found in the kitchen whipping up something good to eat! Taking this foundation and growing it into an entrepreneurial vision required hard work, dedication, and passion for food and community.

While being a business owner is not easy, it is definitely worth it, according to


Kravins Restaurant offers a delectable array of everyday favorites that satisfy every palate. From classic burgers made with real ground beef to crispy wings and chicken and waffles, their menu boasts a diverse selection. Every dish is crafted from scratch, ensuring freshness and quality. Nothing is ever frozen; even the batter for their fried specialties is prepared in-house.

Angelique. The reward of being a part of something bigger than yourself, a place like Kravins that invites people from all walks of life and ages to share a meal together, makes all the bumps along the way worthwhile. The ups and downs are part of owning a business, but they can be fantastic learning experiences. Not having any previous experience in the restaurant business, the two owners had no idea what it meant to be in the

food industry. Angelique said, “The only experience I had came from working at Taco Bell in high school” so, she took some of the things she learned from Taco Bell and other jobs and incorporated it into Kravins Restaurant. Running a successful restaurant is more than just creating good food; it is all the micro-responsibilities like budgets, systems, and procedures that can be overwhelming for first-time restaurant owners.

Angelique explained that while commercial cooking is different from home cooking, the feeling of creating an enjoyable experience for first-time customers and seeing their faces light up is “the best feeling in the world.” To Angelique, “The customers are like a mosaic of people from everywhere and every walk of life. It is so beautiful.” Kravins Restaurant customers show their support by coming to lunch and dinner, sometimes on the same day. The community, coupled with food and a welcoming environment, keep them coming back. Hearing the customers say “I’ll be back” as they walk out the door lets Angelique and Alven know that the joy and love for food is spreading one customer at a time.

The Kravins Restaurant team is essential to its success. The cashiers make each customer feel welcome and a part of the family by remembering people’s names and orders - solidifying that connection between the business, the food, and the community. The customers are the primary reason for creating a restaurant such as Kravins. The people are the heartbeat of the endeavor. The love for food became a way to show love to others and share in those friendships beyond the home environment.

Kravins Restaurant is about serving the community. The staff pride themselves on going into the community to bring customers not only food but necessary items like toiletries. In the future, Angelique has big plans such as expanding Senior Saturdays to

consist of BINGO games for prizes, fellowship with friends, and continued community engagement. Be on the lookout for Taco Tuesdays, live music, and so much more coming your way at Kravins.

The atmosphere is family-friendly with recent additions like a covered patio area outside to enjoy the Louisiana weather while eating some mouthwatering food! On a hot day, be sure you order Kravins Kool-Aid. Angelique describes the Kravins Kool-Aid flavor as simply “red.” A blend of many flavors work together to create a fresh, cool drink to satisfy your thirst. Keeping the integrity of a restaurant is important to Angelique and one way to do that is creating a space that fosters fellowship. The decor originated when Angelique googled “What colors make you want to eat?” Turns out, those colors are green and orange. In addition to a black accent color, the restaurant is vibrant and uplifting.

“The customers are a mosaic of people from everywhere and every walk of life. Food has a way of bringing people together, that is the concept behind Kravins Restaurant.”

Angelique’s approach to the menu is simple - an everyday, American fare. The classics like burgers, wings, chicken and waffles, fish, and so much more are served fresh daily. The menu showcases a variety of options for any foodie. Everything is made from scratch. The hamburgers are crafted from real ground beef and nothing is frozen, ever. The wings, one of the more popular items on the menu, are delivered daily. The batter for the waffles, tenders, fish, and even the fries are made in-house. From patting the burgers to cutting up

the potatoes each morning for fries, the attention to quality pays off. Angelique says she would “rather have quality any day,” and the Kravins Restaurant customers agree. Everything is made with love; the difference can be found in the intoxicating flavor and unique taste of each dish.

Wings! Wings! Wings! A staple of American cuisine, wings have a special place on the menu at Kravins - so much so that Wing Out Wednesday was created. Kravins partnered with local DJ Star, who passed away in 2020, and ULM students to turn Warhawk Wednesday into Wing Out Wednesday. Fostering a huge community outreach, this day brings in not only college students, but everyone within a 10-mile radius. Kravins accepts Warhawk Express which has really brought ULM students to the restaurant and out into the community. So, all you Warhawks looking for a new place to eat, Kravins is the place to be!

The most popular wing flavor on the menu is the Louisiana blend, but the lemon pepper is a close second! Feeling a little spicy? Try the Honey BBQ HOT wings! Wanting something more savory with a smooth flavor? The Sweet and Tangy is your next go-to! Pairing these delicious options with their made-from-scratch sauces allows for a dining experience that will have you coming back for more. Alven said it best, “We like flavor!,” and that is exactly what you can expect from every menu item. The Kravins Restaurant sauce is a major hit

with just enough spice. There are even some unexpected items on the menu such as wings and waffles. Instead of chicken tenders on your waffles, why not try wings?

Social media has been a huge networking tool for Kravins, especially Facebook. “We eat with our eyes,” so Angelique’s main goal is to show the food. When browsing the Kravins page, you can find pictures and descriptions of upcoming specials and events like Wing Out Wednesday! If you are looking for a sneak peak into what this restaurant is all about or you want to know more about a certain menu item, be sure to check out their Facebook page @kravinsrestaurant.

Next month, Kravins Restaurant will be celebrating 8 years in the food business. From day one, Angelique, Alven, and the Kravins Restaurant team hit the ground running - leaving little time for public recognition. However, that is all about to change! The Chamber of Commerce is scheduled to visit in June to host the official ribbon cutting. In July, a Customers Appreciation, Family and Friends Day will take place as a thank you to everyone who has supported this business. There will be something for all ages including a huge blow up jumper and face painting! And of course, do not forget the amazing food! If you are craving genuine, delicious homemade food, Kravins Restaurant is the place for you!

The Wellspring

The Memorial Golf Tournament

THE WELLSPRING WOULD LIKE TO SAY THANK you to The Country Club at Frenchman’s Bend Men’s Golf Association and Forth Insurance for presenting The Memorial Golf Tournament benefitting The Wellspring. The tournament took place at Frenchman’s Bend Country Club over Memorial Day weekend raising nearly $18,000 to support the work of The Wellspring!

The event was a great success thanks to the amazing group of volunteers from the Men’s Golf Association. The Memorial was a particularly meaningful event for The Wellspring given the large veteran population the agency serves.

Since 1931, The Wellspring has served as a community leader in bringing people and partners together to address some of the greatest challenges of our time: domestic violence, homelessness, sexual assault, poverty, mental illness and children facing adversity. The Wellspring also serves as our region’s only accredited Sexual Assault Center, and the lead agency in the Family Justice Center of Ouachita Parish.

Thank you to our Sponsors!


• Forth Insurance


• Graphic Packaging International


• James Machine Works

• Northeast Delta Human Services Authority

• Sparks Nissan Kia

Mark your calendars now and plan to attend The Wellspring’s next special event, Bowl & Bling, presented by Trinity Diamonds Direct, and will take place Friday, August 16th at Bayou Bowl. For more information about this event, call (318) 651-9314.

As a 501(3)(c) charitable not for profit corporation, your donation is tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

Rain the Salon and Day Spa

Celebrating 20 Incredible Years

OVER THE PAST TWO DECADES, Rain the Salon has thrived due to an unwavering focus on teamwork and delivering an outstanding guest experience. The collective approach, where every team member contributes their unique talents and strengths, has been paramount. By sharing knowledge and supporting each other, the salon has built a cohesive team that exceeds the sum of its parts, ensuring everyone’s success.

The founders’ journey into the salon industry began with a passion for creativity and a desire to make people feel beautiful. Opening Rain was a dream come true, driven by the vision to create a space where beauty and community intersect.

Since opening its doors, the salon industry has seen remarkable advancements. Technological innovations in hair care, coloring, and styling tools have empowered Rain to offer superior services to its guests. The digital revolution has also enhanced communication, allowing the salon to engage with clients more effectively and provide them with an unparalleled experience.

Rain has significantly impacted the community, transcending beyond beauty services. It is a hub where people from diverse backgrounds come together, fostering a sense of belonging and confidence. The salon prides itself on being a safe space for clients to share their stories, build friendships, and find support. Involvement in community fundraising and support initiatives reflects Rain’s commitment to giving back and uplifting the community that has supported it over the years. The personal relationships built with clients are invaluable, and the team considers it a privilege to contribute positively to their lives.

Reflecting on the past 20 years, Rain is most proud of its journey and the incredible people met along the way. The team, both past and present, comprises some of the best professionals in the industry. The salon has always prioritized the well-being of its team and guests, and it is a dream come true to have sustained a successful salon for two decades. The gratitude for the opportunities and support received is immeasurable.

Over the years, Rain has celebrated numerous milestones. Being consistently ranked among the top 20 Paul Mitchell salons nationally, and recognized as one of the top Oribe and Goldwell salons in the state, are achievements cherished. Accolades such as being named the best local salon multiple times, features in national magazines, and participation in major fashion shows, events, and TV shows have been significant highlights. However, the most significant achievement lies in creating an environment where the team can thrive and achieve their career aspirations. Watching team members grow into highly skilled professionals has been an immense joy and privilege.

Looking ahead, James and Holly are excited about the fresh ideas and energy from Rain’s new generation of team members. The team’s fresh perspective will continue to push Rain to evolve as they take on leadership roles and become our next generation of salon professionals. Serving their guests and delivering the best experience continues to be their mission and vision. Their innovative approaches, skills and ideas will carry the salon to new heights in the future.

As Rain approaches its 20th anniversary, special plans are in store to celebrate this milestone. Follow Rain The Salon and Day Spa on social media for upcoming specials and celebrations!

The Children’s Coalition

Mental Health Counseling

MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELING CAN BE incredibly beneficial for many individuals, providing support and facilitating personal growth. But what makes it so effective? Research indicates that certain common factors present in all types of therapy play a significant role in making counseling successful. Here’s an in-depth look at why mental health counseling works.

1. The Counselor-Client Relationship

One of the most critical components of successful therapy is the relationship between the counselor and the client. When clients feel understood and trust their counselor, they are more likely to open up and work through their issues. This strong bond often has a more significant impact than the specific techniques used in therapy.

2. Empathy and Understanding

Effective counselors demonstrate genuine empathy and understanding, creating a safe space where clients can express their feelings without fear of judgment. When clients feel heard

and understood, it helps them feel better and encourages them to explore their thoughts and emotions more deeply.

3. Hope and Expectations

Clients who believe that therapy can help them and maintain hope for the future are more likely to see positive changes. Counselors play a vital role in fostering this sense of hope and reinforcing the idea that improvement is possible. This positive mindset is crucial for making progress in therapy.

4. Counselor Skills and Flexibility

Effective counselors are skilled and can adapt their approach to meet the unique needs of each client. This means using different techniques and methods to provide the most relevant and effective support. Being flexible allows counselors to tailor their approach, ensuring the best possible outcomes for their clients.

5. Client’s Personal Strengths

Every client brings their own strengths and resources to therapy, such as personal resilience and support from friends and family. When clients

engage in therapy and utilize their strengths, they are more likely to experience positive outcomes. Therapy helps clients recognize and build on these strengths.

6. Proven Techniques

While common factors are essential, using proven techniques tailored to the client’s specific issues is also important. Different types of therapy, such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Solution-Focused Therapy, offer structured ways to address problems and enhance the effectiveness of counseling.

The success of mental health counseling isn’t solely about the specific techniques used; it’s a combination of factors that create a supportive environment for change. The relationship between the counselor and client, empathy, hope, counselor skills, and the client’s personal strengths all contribute to the healing and growth process. Understanding these common factors helps explain why counseling works and underscores the importance of a supportive, personalized approach in mental health care.

At The Center for Children & Families, we offer hope to children and families through advocacy, counseling, prevention, and education. Our counseling services are designed to help clients understand themselves better, overcome challenges, and achieve emotional well-being. We accept private insurance and self-pay options. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 1-866-398-0945 or visit

G.G. Grant Voted Best Chiropractor

Shell Chiropractic

DR. G.G. GRANT GREW UP IN Ruston and graduated from Louisiana Tech in 2001. In 2005, he graduated from Parker University in Dallas, Texas with a Doctorate of Chiropractic degree. Right after school, Dr. Grant began working at Shell Chiropractic in Monroe. Now in his 18th year of practice, he practices alongside Dr. Brent Bryant and Dr. “Brud” Boudreaux. And he loves his career.

While Dr. Grant sees patients from all ages, from pediatrics to later in life patients, Dr. Grant also has a specialty focus on athletes. And he proves his love and affinity for this facet of his practice by volunteering his time as the team chiropractor for area high schools as well as for the University of Louisiana Monroe, for the last 16 years. Part of the love he has for this area of his practice is, like with his private practice, the satisfaction he gets from educating athletes on how to prevent injuries. Says Dr. Grant, “I

like to describe a patient’s chiropractic picture as having an imaginary line…on the top of the line is a non-injury status and below the line is the injury status. The education I give my patients keeps them as far away from the injury line as possible. My ultimate goal is to educate these athletes so that when all the components of their athletic training work together: therapy, training, weight lifting and conditioning, then they can operate and play at their peak performance.”

Dr. Grant further says, “I am just another tool in the bag. I like working with all the disciplines to give each athlete a chance for their optimal performance. I want the athlete/patient before they are injured so we can work together to avoid a debilitating setback. I tell my patients to think of it like this: you get your tires rotated so proper wheel alignment will give allow your car to run better. It also reduces the wear and tear on the tires. I operate much the same way in my

practice with the tools I put in my patient’s hands…to help them run infinitely.”

Dr. Grant resides in Monroe with his wife, Heather, and their children, Lake, 20, a junior at LSU, Hunt, 18, a graduate from Neville High School, and Griffyn, 9, a 4th grader at Sallie Humble Elementary. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, duck hunting and playing golf.

Dr. Grant and Shell Chiropractic are conveniently located on HWY 165 North in Monroe and are currently accepting new patients. The clinic also has two massage therapists on staff. Call today to schedule an appointment with BayouLife’s Buzz Award winning “Best Chiropractor” Dr. G.G. Grant.

Peach Cookery Contest

Contest Winners Announced


1st as community members gathered to celebrate the annual Peach Cookery Contest, held in conjunction with the Louisiana Peach Festival. Sponsored by Park Haus, the contest showcased the culinary skills of community members young and old, featuring an array of delicious peach pies and cobblers.

The event kicked off at 9:00 a.m. at the Ruston Farmers Market at 220 E Mississippi Ave. Participants presented their dishes, which were then judged based on taste, texture, appearance, peach flavor, and creativity. The judging began at 10:00 a.m., with winners announced at noon.

After much deliberation, the judges awarded the top prizes in two age categories: Adult and Youth.

Adult Division Winners:

● 1st Place: Mary Wilson

● 2nd Place: Mary Wilson

● 3rd Place: Debbie Woodard

Youth Division Winners:

● 1st Place: Kara Robertson

● 2nd Place: Briley Jones

● 3rd Place: Remi Patino

The newly inaugurated teaching kitchen served as the perfect venue for the contest, providing an inviting atmosphere for both contestants and attendees. The event not only celebrated the Peach Festival but also highlighted the rich culinary skills within the community.

The Ruston Farmers Market extends its heartfelt thanks to all contestants, judges, and community members who contributed to the success of this year’s Peach Cookery Contest. Special thanks go to Park Haus for their generous sponsorship, which helped make this event possible.

The Ruston Farmers Market has been a cornerstone of the community for over 15 years, offering exclusively Louisiana-grown and produced products. Since its inception by dedicated volunteers in May 2008, the market has grown into a premier destination in Ruston. Operated by North Louisiana Farm Fresh (NLFF), a 501(c) (3) nonprofit since 2014, the market moved to its current covered location in 2015 and has been operating year-round since 2019, with annual sales reaching $300,000.

The mission of NLFF is to provide direct producer-to-consumer sales opportunities, support the development of a local food network, and conduct educational outreach of sustainable agriculture, health, and nutrition throughout North Louisiana.

Kara Robertson

Warehouse No. 1 Restaurant

A Landmark on the Banks of the Ouachita River

AS A LANDMARK ON THE BANKS of the Ouachita River, the Warehouse No. 1 is part of the fabric of the Twin Cities. The landscape of dining in the Twin Cities forever changed in 1980 when Frances Mason had the vision of a restaurant in a hundred-year-old warehouse. During the era the focus of Monroe was moving away from downtown, Mrs. Mason was ahead of the times. To see the potential in an abandoned building and make that dream a reality was a novel idea during that time. Today, 43 years later, it is a testimony to her foresight. The restaurant continues under the leadership of her daughter, Jan Mason, and business partner, Duane Humphries.

Many patrons speak of first dates and proposals and return often to commemorate those occasions. The Warehouse is a birthday destination for families and friends complete with a complimentary dessert, favorite song, and photo. From wedding rehearsals to

business dinners on the private inside deck to the year round outside deck overlooking the river, the Warehouse remains a local favorite destination for events.

While the ambiance and history are rich, the quality food and service are what keeps the Warehouse a favorite. Hand-cut steaks and fresh seafood remain the heart of the menu. Classics such as grilled oysters and gumbo are favorite appetizers. Salmon with jalapeño cheese grits is always popular as is the grilled tuna citrus salad surrounded by fresh fruit. One of the most popular items for any event is the bite size catfish that is cooked to perfection and available by the pan and perfect to take to group functions. Regular lunch customers will agree that the chicken salad plate is always a delight to enjoy. Certainly, no meal would be complete without the original hushpuppies that most consider the best around.

Walking into the Warehouse No. 1 is often like walking into a friend’s home.

Complimentary valet parking, live music nightly, long time servers that know your name, menu, and drink preferences only comes with experience. Little touches that set the standard high are what make the Warehouse No. 1 successful. Attention to detail is at the heart of what the Warehouse No. 1 offers patrons.

It takes a special restaurant to remain relevant and successful in a small town, and it takes an impressive dining establishment to reach the iconic status that Warehouse No. 1 has achieved. Over four decades the restaurant has survived a flood, fire, a pandemic, and each time comes back better than before. As long as the Ouachita runs through Monroe, you will find the Warehouse serving down by the riverside. Call ahead and we will have your table waiting.

Nail Fungus: A Never Ending Story?

The First FDA Cleared Laser for Nail Fungus

STOP SUFFERING THE PAIN AND embarrassment of unsightly nail fungus.

PinPointe™ FootLaser® is the easy and convenient procedure that helps turn your discolored and disfigured nails into clearer, healthier looking nails.

Nail fungus is a chronic condition that impacts your quality of life and can even lead to serious health problems for patients with diabetes or immune disorders. It can be caused by poor health, nail trauma, a warm, moist climate, exposure to infected nails, increasing age, and tight shoes. It’s difficult to treat because the infection is under and inside the nail, which makes it hard for products to penetrate and destroy the infection. Prescription drugs and ointments were once the most common treatments for nail fungus, but today the PinPointe Foot Laser, the first machine to receive FDA clearance, is considered, by many doctors,

to be the gold standard of toenail fungus treatment. The laser penetrates through the nail without damaging the nail or the tissue around it.

In North America, fungal infection is responsible for 50% of all nail disease. An estimated 3 to 4 million people are diagnosed every year, not to mention those who aren’t diagnosed. Nail fungus is the most common cause of yellow, thick and deformed toenails. The nails can become rough and brittle, and often tend to separate from the nail bed. This highly contagious fungus is usually the same fungus that causes athletes foot. It tends to be a progressive infection that damages the nail. It usually starts at the tip of the nail and progresses gradually to the nail bed. It can affect a single toenail or several nails on one foot or both feet. The fungus thrives in moist, dark environments; therefore, it’s more likely to affect toenails rather than

fingernails since shoes can cause sweaty feet.

Safe and effective, this in-office treatment is pain free, has no harmful side effects, and typically takes only 30-minutes to an hour to complete. There is also no downtime. One treatment kills the fungus for most people. However, there is a chance of reinfection because the fungus is present everywhere in the environment. We will recommend care techniques to help reduce a recurrence.

Professional Laser Center has treated and cured thousands of patients over the last 10 years. We offer the easiest, most efficient solution to get clear, fungus-free nails. For example, medications need to be applied for over one year and cures less than 10% of the patients. Compare that to a one hour treatment with our laser, with a success rate of about 85%, and you can see it’s the easiest, most efficient solution to nail fungus.

Unfortunately, the procedure is considered aesthetic and, therefore, not covered by health insurance. However, your HSA, Medical IRA, or Health Spending Account may cover the treatment. Cost of the procedure is determined by the number of nails being treated.

For more information about the PinPointe Foot Laser, or to schedule an appointment, call 318-361-9066.

Remembering Our Privilege

Happy mid-year to all my BayouLife friends. Many of you let me know you missed me last month, and I am so relieved to know that there are people out there actually reading my column! I did in fact take a month off and had the opportunity to “chaperone” my daughter’s senior trip. I think I will start this month’s column right there, folks, and say that cruising is my idea of total rest and relaxation. It is. For starters, you have absolutely no cell phone coverage so you are forced to completely detach from your life for an entire week. I wasn’t sure how I was going to like that at first…it definitely takes some getting used to, but by the end of the week, I was completely reset and recharged.

But it didn’t start out that way.

If you’ve never cruised, as I had not, shutting the door to your room that size that allows you to take a nap, shave your legs, dry your hair and shower all in the same spot takes a little getting used to. My sister was my roommate, as both our children graduated together, and she will tell you that as soon as that door closed to our room for the first time, I sat down on the bed and started “squalling.”

I’m not kidding. I have never considered myself claustrophobic but in that moment, that room caved in on me and I was considering sleeping on the deck! Shelley had to pray me through it, and I was able to get used to it, but it took a minute. The trip itself was glorious, I loved spending this time with my daughter, and we traveled with some wonderful kids and their parents to three beautiful countries. But it only takes visiting somewhere outside the United States to make you realize just how good we have it.

In the month where we celebrate the birthday of this great country that we are fortunate to live in, I was reminded on this trip first hand of that privilege. There’s no doubt that the landscape draws you in and in some cases literally takes your breath, but once your lens moves to the country and its people, then you start to see a different picture. In one such country, (we visited three), I realized that many of its citizens didn’t have indoor plumbing or even electricity. Children are literally selling their wares, following visitors around until you buy a bracelet or scarf. Listen, I am for free enterprise, but it’s hard to tell a 4-year old child no! Sailing back into the states a few

days later had me all in my thoughts about the fortunate life we have and how blessed we are to live in the United States. The day after we got home was Memorial Day and I watched with tears as my nephew got the honor that my Daddy always took so seriously, and that was putting his flag out. Daddy. I know I am executing my usual pivot right about here, but I’m not really. You see, my Daddy did not serve in the armed forces, but you would never meet a more patriotic person. He took his role as the “patriarch” of the family very seriously and raised his children and grandchildren to give reverence to our great country, and those who serve and defend the respect they deserve. Daddy. It’s been 10 months readers, since Daddy left us and as I write this column, it’s two days post Father’s Day. I didn’t expect the grief to jump on me the way it did, but it was a tough few days for our family. I haven’t wrote about losing Big Daddy in my column, which is kind of unusual for me, because I write about most everything in my life. Friends and family beware, because you will likely end up in my column at some point or another. I have had to navigate loss before, I am transparent in that and there are times when I feel it is appropriate

to share in that loss. I always think, when I do, that perhaps there’s someone that needs to hear it. With Daddy, though, it has been harder to do.

I think when we lose someone that we love so much, no matter the circumstances, our lives are never really the same. Oh, we go through the motions, just as my family has for the last 10 months, but it’s different. It’s quieter. It’s darker. We’ve pushed through the holidays, through tears and laughs and memory sharing, but Father’s Day jolted me this year. I wish I had room in this column to write about my daddy’s life, in a way that would honor him. In short, Daddy was a hard working man’s man who was principled and patriotic and smart and hilarious. All of that in one 6’6 bundle. If you knew Big Daddy, you’ve likely experienced one of his bear hugs or been called “Babe” or “Bubba.” If you knew Big Daddy you probably know he never met a stranger and could literally talk to an eggplant in the grocery store. If you knew Big Daddy, you’ve probably heard about the time he walked to school 10 miles, in the snow, uphill, with no shoes on. Or the time he hitchhiked

“I wish I had room in this column to write about my daddy’s life, in a way that would honor him. In short, Daddy was a hard working man’s man who was principled and patriotic and smart and hilarious.”

from college because he was homesick and wanted to see his mother. If you knew Big Daddy you probably know how much he loved my mother, his children or his grandchildren. Well, especially his grandchildren. I told him frequently, “Daddy, I don’t know who you are but you aren’t the same person who raised me.” They did no wrong, and he loved talking about them, their accomplishments and how perfect they all were. If you knew Big Daddy, you probably also knew that the last two years of his life were a struggle for him and it was hard to navigate, both for him and his family trying to take care of him. It’s why our grief is conflicted…are we grieving for Daddy to be

here with those struggles, selfishly wanting him here? No, for me, I am grieving for my Daddy in the 78 years before that. The devoted husband, the praying father, the “nobody tells a story like him storyteller,” the loyal friend, the Christ centered man that loved his Father, his family and his country. That’s who I miss. So here we are, two days post Father’s Day and just a few weeks away from the holiday that Daddy loved so much, and I find myself with tear stained cheeks (again) blubbering my way to the finish line. What a privilege it is to belong to Big Daddy, and what a privilege it is to live in a country that celebrates family and this great nation. Thank you, readers, for letting me honor Daddy’s life in the best way I know how, through the pages of this column; It was a life well lived, well loved, and leaves us with cherished memories for the rest of our lives.

Cindy G. Foust is a wife, mom, author and blogger. You can find her blog at the alphabetmom. com for weekly columns about home life, parenting, small business stories and insight with a smidgen of literacy. Give her a like or follow on Facebook and Instagram.

United Way of Northeast Louisiana

Create A Positive Change In Our Community


needs are ever-evolving, United Way of Northeast Louisiana stands as a beacon of hope and support. This year, our commitment to adaptability and community service continues to thrive. We are thrilled to announce the release of our 2024 Community Report, a comprehensive overview of our initiatives, achievements, and impact.

This year’s report showcases the following:

• The unwavering support of our volunteer leadership

• Impact data in the areas of education, financial stability, and health

• Real stories from real people across our region

• Information about 211 as well as new online tools to view 211’s impact

• A brand-new report and Parishes breakdown of ALICE (Asset. Limited. Income. Constrained. Employed.) data across our state and region

• Support from local companies for our campaign efforts

• Campaign Leaders from our recently closed campaign year, as well as special workplace awards given to individuals, teams, and companies

• Other ways to support United Way of Northeast Louisiana, including leadership giving levels

One of the highlights of this year’s report is the expansion of several educational initiatives aimed at bridging gaps in education. Recognizing the pivotal role education plays in shaping futures, we’ve partnered with local schools, organizations, and partner programs to provide resources and support to students and educators. These initiatives are designed to create a more inclusive and equitable educational landscape, ensuring that every student has the tools they need to succeed. Financial stability is another cornerstone of our efforts. In 2024, we expanded our

financial education programs, empowering individuals to achieve economic independence. These programs offer personalized guidance and practical skills, helping participants navigate financial challenges and secure better employment opportunities.

Health and well-being remain at the forefront of our agenda. We’ve increased access to community resources such as healthcare services, mental health resources, and healthy living initiatives through 211. Additionally, our partnerships with local food banks, shelters, and other organizations have allowed us to provide essential services to those in need. Last year, along with our partners, we distributed thousands of meals and helped countless families find stable housing, underscoring our commitment to supporting ALICE, the hard-working individuals that make up our community. Important data about ALICE in our region is included in the report.

As we share the 2024 Community Report with you, we invite you to join us in making a difference. Whether through volunteering, donating, or spreading the word about our work, your involvement is crucial. Together, we can continue to create lasting, positive change in Northeast Louisiana. Visit us at unitedwaynela. org to get involved today!

Gifts, Bridal Registry and More

Visit the Muffin Tin or The Trenton House Today


home and decor store, where you can find a wide array of luxurious and high-quality products to enhance your living space. From fragrant candles to fine china, we offer an extensive selection that will add charm, elegance, and functionality to your home.

One of our standout product lines is the Tyler Candle Company collection. Known for their exceptional craftsmanship and captivating scents, Tyler candles create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Whether you prefer the sweet aroma of French Market, the refreshing scent of High Maintenance, or the enchanting fragrance of Diva, these candles and laundry wash will transform your space into a haven of relaxation and serenity.

For the gentlemen seeking grooming essentials, our store proudly presents Jack Black Superior Skincare. All Jack Black

products are carefully formulated with the finest ingredients to be highly effective, yet easy to use. Every Jack Black product is dermatologist tested, paragon free, cruelty free, and free of harsh sulfates. Almost all products in our line are vegan, free of artificial colorants, safe for sensitive skin, and made in the USA!

If you appreciate the art of dining, our collection of fine china and dishware will elevate your table setting to new heights. From exquisite dinnerware sets to elegant serving platters, each piece is meticulously designed to exude sophistication and style. Whether you’re hosting a formal dinner party or enjoying a cozy meal with loved ones, our fine china and dishware will impress your guests and make every dining experience memorable.

For those who appreciate both style and sustainability, our range of Corkcicle and Swiglife drinkware are a perfect choice. These

eco-friendly and insulated vessels keep your beverages at the ideal temperature while reducing single-use plastic waste. Perfect for these hot summer days. With their sleek designs and vibrant colors, Corkcicle and Swiglife drinkware adds a touch of modernity to your drinkware collection.

In addition to our exceptional product lines, we offer bridal registries. Let us help you create a space that reflects your personal style. Our collection has something to suit every taste and preference. Whether you prefer a contemporary aesthetic, rustic charm, or timeless elegance, our curated selection will inspire you to transform your house into a home.

Visit The Muffin Tin or Trenton House today and immerse yourself in a world of beauty and sophistication. Our knowledgeable staff is ready to assist you in finding the perfect products to enhance your living space and create a warm and inviting ambiance. Experience the luxury of Tyler Candle Company, the indulgence of Jack Black soap, the elegance of fine china and dishware. Discover a wide range of candles, home decor, and more that will add the perfect finishing touches to your home. Elevate your lifestyle with our exceptional offerings and make every day a celebration of beauty and comfort.

NELA Teacher Symposium

Falling in Love with Teaching, Again!

THE ANTICIPATION FOR THE 2ND Annual NELA Teacher Symposium is nearly over! The motivational and inspiring event is set to take place on July 11th and 12th, welcoming educators from across Northeast Louisiana and beyond to reignite their passion for teaching. Jeanne Ford, Executive Director at the Center for Teacher Effectiveness, beautifully encapsulates the spirit of this symposium, “Great minds and hearts working together!” This gathering is not just an event; it’s a heartfelt celebration of the teaching profession.

The Louisiana Department of Education’s (LDOE) Teacher Summit in New Orleans, held annually at the end of May, is renowned for equipping over 7,000 educators with strategies, benchmarks, planning, curriculum essentials, and more. On the flip side, the NELA Teacher Symposium focuses on filling educators’ hearts, inspiring them to continue their most important job–teaching and providing an amazing day

of VALUE! The symposium aims to lower the astronomical stress educators face, increase their love for their profession, and rebuild relationships within the classroom. When communities value and support teachers, everyone benefits!

The tiny acorn of an idea planted last year, by Project Director, Faith Gremillion, has indeed grown into a mighty oak. We are beyond excited to see our educators on July 11th or 12th, and it’s not too late to register! We are proud to offer free professional counseling sessions for all attendees and we have incorporated a Community Connection Corner for teachers! We would LOVE to see you there at Tower Place for this amazing event.

The Symposium is designed to POUR into all educators:

• P: Provide opportunities

• O: Offer valuable training

• U: Utilize resources

• R: Rebuild relationships

Our mission is simple: to bring value and support to educators and, in turn, make the world a better place. The impact from the 2023 symposium on educators was profound, as reflected in their testimonials:

• “Just WOW!!!!! BIG IDEAS to take back to the classroom!!”

• “Powerful! It was definitely a reminder of the importance of being intentional about touching the lives of students.”

• “Thank you for the insight on my communication style and how to make me a better communicator!”

• “Loved how everything felt genuine and from the heart, keep doing what you’re doing to inspire teachers to be great!”

• “It made me stop and think about my students that are calling out for help!”

• “OH. MY. GOODNESS. Absolutely phenomenal event!”

Don’t miss this remarkable opportunity to grow as an educator! Our futures depend on the positive impacts made today, so join this journey of intentionality and legacy building! Attend or support the Northeast Louisiana Teacher Symposium of 2024. Together, we can create a stronger and more vibrant educational community for our educators, students and families. We look forward to a day filled with celebrating the heartbeat of our communities – our educators, as they fall in love with teaching, again!

Good Vibrations in Design

With Revival Design & Consign

EVERY SPACE DESERVES ITS OWN vibe. The vibe is the atmosphere that can give you balance. It needs a personality to reflect the owner but also lend comfort and ease. Nothing can kill your sense of peace and balance like a cluttered space. Now know that there is a difference in chaotic clutter and maximalist design. This is something I try to be mindful of in my own space. I collect a lot of original art and tchotchkes in my travels. They give me a chance to reflect on the memories of these journeys as the years go by. To some it looks like an overload of stuff but, I love my organized treasures. My late friends, Nelsie Bershen and Rita Blumental had a knack for collecting the most “bizarre” things and making them beautiful in their homes. They inspired me so much over the years.

My office/ gathering room is lined with art from floor to ceiling in galleries of happiness and harmony. Each work of art has

a story and memory. The walls read like a creative journey of my life. The shelves of my mid-century wall unit are filled with quirky artifacts and books. Most of them are from adventures while some of them are mementos of those I have lost over the last several years. While they are gone, just having a small possession from their life brings me joy.

My dear late friends Victor Cascio and Diane Cage loved treasure hunting. I met them at our friend, Gail Bulloch’s “Collectiques” on Desiard Street in Downtown Monroe back in 1989. Those were some special times that I will cherish. I miss that trio often, I have keepsakes from them all.

It’s not to say that every space I have is maximized. My bedroom is space of tranquility. I find that less is more when it comes to where I seek refuge. Cool and neutral tones for all aspects of the room bring me great serenity. The alabaster walls are flanked with original art and antique gilded

mirrors to reflect the minimal lighting in the space. A mixture of modern lamps and antique marble top furniture from our family add a nice vibe to my room. It is the place where I end my day and reflect before I close my eyes to dream. It is also the space where I awaken to create a beautiful reality from the creativity that God has given me.

At Revival Design, we strive to help create that vibe that fits your tribe in our vignettes throughout the showroom. A lot of love and heart goes into creating spaces to incorporate others treasures with local artists and our design lines. If you are looking to find a good vibration for your home or office, allow our team to guide you on that journey to harmony. Be sure to check out our website for shopping, design blogs and inspiration. We look forward to bringing good vibes your way.



Deep South lawns may be fertilized this month through early August with one or two pounds of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. For complete fertilizers (those with all three numbers on the front of the bag with values higher than zero), this translates into about seven pounds of 13-13-13 or 12 pounds of 8-8-8 per 1,000 square feet. Make sure any fertilizers applied to lawns during these summer months are adequately watered in. If you’re satisfied with how your lawn looks, and perhaps more importantly, how often you’re mowing, then you may skip this fertilizer application and start looking ahead to late summer/early fall.

Too much water during these hot months can cause just as many problems as too little water. Try to water lawns less frequently, but more deeply, for longer periods at a time. This will promote a healthy root system and allow turfgrasses to be more resistant to pests. Water to a depth of 6 to 8 inches (1 to 1.5 inches of water) once a week. This will work best for lawns that have been aerated and dethatched. Water between 4:00 and 8:00 a.m. to allow good percolation and for residual water to evaporate as daytime temperatures increase. Excess water pooling in low spots can lead to a lawn staying soggy, and this can lead to fungal issues and the colonization of weeds like dollar weed (Hydrocotyle sp.).

Maintaining turfgrasses at the recommended height will keep lawns lush and healthy, too. St. Augustinegrass should be maintained at about three inches, while Bermudagrass, Centipedegrass, and Zoysiagrass can be maintained at an inch or inch and half. Scalping your lawn is never recommended as it will only stress your lawn and allow weeds to colonize.


Keeping beds mulched will help conserve water. Water flower beds as recommended for lawns: deeper and less frequent. If possible, use either drip irrigation or soaker hoses. This way, water is delivered exactly to where it needs to go (the roots) and stays off foliage where it may exacerbate fungal problems. Container gardening has its advantages this time of year. Plants can be

Flame Thrower Habanero Coleus will spice up your beds.
Flame Thrower Cajun Spice Coleus provides bright colors using foliage instead of flowers.
Lucky Star Pentas will tolerate heat and attract pollinators.

moved into shadier areas during the hottest part of the afternoon and be moved back again when evening temperatures moderate. Containers and raised beds will need more frequent watering now.

Do you notice any exceptionally heat-tolerant plants in your landscape? Several of the Louisiana Super Plants will stand up to these hottest summer months. First, Lemon sedum is a fantastic way to add color and texture using foliage. The two main varieties are Lemon Ball and Lemon Coral. Bright chartreuse leaves of this succulent plant work great as a border or even as a spiller in a basket or container arrangement. And Lemon Sedum is a perennial so once you plant it, it’s there! A nice mulch of pine straw will provide a background for an explosion of bright color.

If we talk about hot weather, then let’s also talk about ‘Senorita Rosalita’ Cleome! ArkLaMiss summers are no match for ‘Senorita Rosalita’ Cleome, and it will attract a wide array of insect pollinators and hummingbirds to your landscape. Planting ‘Senorita Rosalita’ is a fantastic way to add height, too, for a colorful focal point in any sunny bed. Underplant with ‘Serena’ Angelonia or ‘Serenita Raspberry’ Angelonia and you’ll be right in business. ‘Senorita Rosalita’ Cleome will flower until the first severe frost takes it out.

To continue adding color and texture with foliage instead of flowers, look at ‘Flame Thrower’ and ‘Henna’ Coleus. ‘Henna’ is a full sun Coleus with leaves that are bright chartreuse on top and deep magenta on the bottom. The ‘Flame Thrower’ series of coleus will give you a lot of options for bright colors using foliage and with varieties like ‘Cajun Spice,’ ‘Siracha,’ and ‘Habanero,’ you know this summer is going to be hot in your flower beds.! You can even use different varieties of the ‘Flame Thrower’ series in a single container for an explosion of color that will last all summer long. Look for all members of the ‘Flame Thrower’ series of Coleus and ‘Henna’ Coleus at garden centers and you won’t be disappointed!

Finally, don’t go through summer without adding Pentas to your warm season annual beds, specifically look for varieties in the ‘Lucky Star’ and ‘Butterfly’ series. Adding these to your pollinator garden will keep your landscape buzzing all through summer. With eight varieties in the ‘Butterfly’ series and seven varieties in the ‘Lucky Star’ series you’ll want one of each and so will the pollinators that are drawn to your landscape!

So, these are some more Louisiana Super Plant selections that will make your summer landscape pop and draw an almost infinite number of insect pollinators to your gardens. Always check out the list

of Louisiana Super Plants on our website, lsuagcenter. com, or find us on Facebook at LSU AgCenter Louisiana Super Plants.


Watermelons, cantaloupes, field peas, okra, and peppers should see peak production during these hot months. A second crop of cucumbers can be planted when the spring crop plays out. As other spring veggies end their run, start getting rows for coolseason vegetables ready for planting next month! Apply pre-plant fertilizers at the recommended rates: beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, and cauliflower will use a half pound of 8-24-24 or 1313-13 per 10 ft. row. Starting seeds for fall tomatoes now should yield garden-ready transplants by late August/early September.

Okra should be hitting its stride this month. If you’re not growing okra, you should be! Okra is in the hibiscus family, and it loves our summer heat. Okra flowers have an ornamental quality all their own, calling out to pollinators like a big, bright neon sign. So, consider adding an okra plant here and there to ornamental beds if they get full sun. There are many okra varieties to choose from and you can’t go wrong with any of them. ‘Cowhorn’ varieties produce pods that remain tender up to ten inches or more long. ‘Gold Coast’ and ‘Louisiana Green Velvet’ are two LSU varieties developed specifically for our heat and humidity. ‘Clemson Spineless’ and ‘Emerald Evergreen’ are also popular varieties, and there are numerous others out there. Many okra varieties are open-pollinated so their seeds will breed true and can be saved for next season’s crop. To save okra seeds, simply let a pod or two mature, dry, and begin to split while still on the plant. Mature seeds are dark colored and roughly the size of a bb or a little larger. One or two pods should give you all the seeds needed for next year and then some. Keep okra seeds viable by storing them in a cool, dry, dark place, preferably in an airtight container or jar.

Be safe out there, folks. Get out in your gardens in the morning or in the evening. If you’re out during the hottest part of the day, take frequent breaks, drink plenty of water, and wear loose, light-colored clothing.

See you next month!

Tune in to Louisiana Living every Tuesday at 4:30 for In the Garden with Kerry Heafner of the LSU AgCenter.
Photos by Kerry Heafner.
Lemon Ball or Lemon Coral Sedum makes a great spiller plant for container plantings.
Okra thrives in hot weather and produces plenty of seeds for saving.
Leaves of Henna Coleus are chartreuse on top and magenta underneath, brilliant color and texture in any landscape.

Lilly Roofing

Your Trusted Local Roofing Contractor in NELA

JAKE WAS BORN AND RAISED IN Swartz, Louisiana. He has lived everywhere from Swartz, Monroe, Sterlington, Farmerville, and currently resides in West Monroe. He graduated from Sterlington High School and then attended the University of Louisiana Monroe.

He has spent the last couple of years growing his first business, Lilly Lawncare & Landscaping, and is now ready to grow this one! Jake is in partnership with Daniel Gilley & one of his very own brothers, Harrison Lilly. They have been together since this company’s birth, and currently have many aspirations of bettering this company’s standing in this community as well as others.

Jake was inspired to get into roofing because he felt there was a place for him to better serve his community and to help it grow! The most valuable lesson he has learned in the past few years (and a lesson he would preach to anyone starting out)

is that relationships are the backbone and he treasures that over any other aspect in business. Lilly Roofing was established to provide homeowners with professional, dependable, and honest roofing services, ensuring that your most valuable assets are well protected.

Services Provided

Lilly Roofing offers a full range of reliable, quality roofing services to customers throughout Northeast Louisiana. Are you dealing with leaks, missing shingles, or faulty gutters? Or perhaps you’re still facing the aftermath of a storm? The Lilly Roofing team is skilled in addressing all your roofing needs, ensuring your home is safe and secure. A project manager will inspect your property for any damages and prepare an accurate quote. The will develop a custom solution tailored to your specific needs and will provide a full scope of the work and materials planned for your project. With a focus on

high-quality installations and comprehensive customer support, both before and after your new roof is in place, the Lilly Roofing team of expert installers delivers results that stand the test of time. Other services offered include siding, gutters, fencing, insurance restoration, and commercial solutions.

At Lilly Roofing, they pride themselves on being your neighborhood roofing experts, committed to delivering exceptional service and high-quality results. “We have nothing but praise and thanks to give to this wonderful community for your unwavering support. We have been in business for less than two years now, and it’s an amazing feeling knowing we have the backing by our local community,” says Jake. To experience their unparalleled service, contact them today and let Lilly Roofing protect your home with a roof that lasts for years to come.

The Soul of Gypsy Soul

A Unique Haven for Gifts, Home, and Handmade Treasures

NESTLED ALONG THE QUAINT streets of Monroe, Louisiana, lies a hidden gem that captures the essence of the region’s charm and hospitality. Gypsy Soul, a boutique located at 4150 Old Sterlington Road, is more than just a store; it’s a sanctuary where gifts, home decor, and heartfelt connections intertwine to create a truly unique shopping experience.

Step through the doors of Gypsy Soul, and you’re immediately transported into a world of wonder and delight. The store’s ambiance is inviting and enchanting, with summer decor adorning the shelves, exuding a sense of renewal and vitality. From vibrant floral arrangements to whimsical outdoor decor, every corner of the store beckons with the promise of inspiration and beauty.

Gypsy Soul is cleverly divided into thematic areas, each one a tribute to Louisiana’s rich cultural heritage. Whether it’s the intricately crafted oyster shell art or the charming Louisianan-themed throw pillows,

each piece reflects the soul of the bayou in its own unique way. The store is a celebration of the local culture, offering items that resonate with the history and spirit of Louisiana.

Owner Ann, a visionary entrepreneur with a passion for creativity and community, has curated a diverse collection that goes beyond mere merchandise. The boutique caters to those seeking unique apothecary items, offering a sensory journey with handmade goat’s milk soap, aromatic wax melt warmers, and other artisanal creations. These products not only delight the senses but also tell stories of craftsmanship and tradition.

Gypsy Soul is more than just a store; it’s a collaborative space where talents converge and dreams take flight. Ann has brought together over 12 vendors, each one adding their own flair to the collective tapestry of offerings. Together, they create an unparalleled shopping experience that celebrates diversity and creativity. The store’s warm and inviting

atmosphere, infused with the sounds of Christian music and the laughter of kindred spirits, makes it a place where strangers become friends and the spirit of community thrives.

In addition to the delightful gifts and home decor, Ann is expanding Gypsy Soul’s offerings to include handmade clothing and handmade jewelry. Each piece is carefully crafted, ensuring that customers receive one-of-a-kind items that reflect personal style and artisanal quality. This new venture aligns with Ann’s commitment to providing unique, high-quality products that stand out from the ordinary.

As a mother and grandmother, Ann pours her love and dedication into Gypsy Soul, creating a space where people find not just treasures, but moments of joy, connection, and inspiration. It’s a place where stories unfold, friendships are forged, and the journey of transformation begins. Gypsy Soul is not just a shopping destination; it’s a place where the soul finds solace and the heart finds home.

Come, join us on this journey of discovery and celebration, and together, let’s support the spirit of small businesses that form the heartbeat of every community. With its expanding range of handmade clothing and jewelry, Gypsy Soul continues to grow as a beacon of creativity, community, and connection in Monroe, Louisiana.

Bayou Oaks Veterinary Clinic:

Trusted Veterinary Care in Your Hometown

BAYOU OAKS VETERINARY CLINIC, which opened its doors in October 2023, has quickly become a cherished part of the Monroe, LA, community. The clinic has been warmly welcomed by local pet owners, who appreciate its mission of delivering the highest quality veterinary care. At Bayou Oaks, pets are treated like family, and the staff is committed to strengthening the human-animal bond through compassionate, respectful service.

The clinic prides itself on providing personal and affordable care for pets. It boasts state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, enabling a comprehensive range of services. From diagnostics and surgery to dental care and preventive measures, Bayou Oaks Veterinary Clinic is well-equipped to meet the diverse needs of its patients. The team understands that each pet is unique and tailors their services to ensure optimal health and happiness for every animal.

Meet Our Veterinarians

Dr. Mark Laird is a familiar face in Monroe,

LA, where he grew up. Dr. Laird’s journey began at Louisiana State University (LSU), where he earned his bachelor’s degree in animal sciences and a minor in general business. During his time at LSU, he was also a member of the LSU baseball team, playing from 2013 to 2015 before being drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies. After playing professionally for three years, Dr. Laird returned to LSU to complete his veterinary degree. Graduating in 2023, he decided to bring his skills and passion for veterinary medicine back to his hometown, opening Bayou Oaks Veterinary Clinic.

Dr. Brent White brings a wealth of experience to Bayou Oaks, having begun his veterinary career in 1997 after graduating from the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine. Returning to Monroe, Dr. White honed his skills under the mentorship of Dr. Mike Cummings. With over twenty-five years of practice, Dr. White has developed a keen interest in orthopedic and dental surgery, as well as solving complex veterinary cases. He is enthusiastic about partnering with Dr. Laird to provide exceptional

care at Bayou Oaks Veterinary Clinic.

The partnership between Dr. Laird and Dr. White combines fresh perspectives with extensive experience, ensuring that Bayou Oaks Veterinary Clinic can handle a wide range of veterinary needs with expertise and compassion. Their shared commitment to the Monroe community and its pets underscores the clinic’s dedication to fostering strong, healthy relationships between pets and their owners.

Bayou Oaks Veterinary Clinic is not just a place for medical care; it is a hub of compassion and excellence in veterinary medicine. With its dedicated team and cutting-edge facilities, the clinic is poised to continue making a positive impact on the lives of pets and their owners in Monroe. For those seeking trusted veterinary care, Bayou Oaks Veterinary Clinic is a place where every pet is treated with the utmost care and respect.

Etiquette For Enlightened Life

Watha’s Wonderful World, LLC


is the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group. The founder of Watha’s Wonderful World, LLC, Hiwatha LaNa’ Coleman, holds this definition true to the principles. Hiwatha LaNa’ Coleman is a native of Monroe, Louisiana and the youngest of eight children born to the late Johnny Douglas and Daisy Ellis Douglas. Mrs. Coleman received a double Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and sociology from Grambling State University and her Etiquette and Tea Party Certification From the Inside-Out School of Etiquette, LLC. Mrs. Coleman is matriculating at Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts.

Mrs. Coleman began her career with the United States Government Social Security Administration in 1991. She has provided stellar services to the public and received numerous awards during her federal career. Mrs. Coleman is the onsite union official for the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE/ AFL/CIO). She also serves as the Regional AFGE Union Benefit Coordinator serving the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas. Mrs. Coleman is celebrating over 20 years as a Mary Kay consultant and enjoys transforming the lives of women. Mrs. Coleman volunteers as a Human Rights Committee Member of the Morehouse Parish ARC (Association of Retarded Citizens). She serves as the general secretary of The Good Land Church of Monroe, Louisiana under the leadership of her husband and founding Pastor Apostle George Namon Coleman. Her active membership in The Monroe Regional Black Chamber of Commerce (MRBCC) and Better Business Bureau enhances her ability to serve her etiquette clients.

Watha’s Wonderful World, LLC provides etiquette services to children and adults. All services provided are listed below. Service Mission Implementation

Identify the top 3 things that your organization will do to deliver this service mission. What will it “look” like to customers? Why will these be your top priorities?

The founder and owner of Watha’s Wonderful World, LLC developed the ART principle of etiquette service:

A - Affordability - Rates range from $25.00 to $100.00 per session.

R - Refinement - Improved decorum, manners, and social skills.

T - Technique - Elevated speech, body carriage, and dining skills instruction.

This ART principle is viewed as a vehicle of elevation, pride, and self-worth upon course completion. Parents of minors have reported a significant improvement in the communication and social interactions of students after two lessons. Adult customers become more empowered to conduct business by embracing effective communication and business etiquette techniques from Watha’s Wonderful World, LLC. The ART principle of Etiquette Service shall perpetually be associated with the business motto of “Transforming Lives Through the Wisdom of Etiquette”




Retired Air Force Colonel Bruce Seeber recently spoke about his amazing life – one that is an inspiration to us all, and which should be read by those who have little concept of the depth of sacrifice men and women have made to keep this country free and safe. Colonel Seeber was asked to describe his life overall, and he replied, “Lucky. I was lucky.” Not many who were held captive in Vietnamese prison camps would answer that way. This month we celebrate our nation’s birthday and honor all who have made our freedoms possible. It is fitting that Colonel Seeber is our July Bayou Icon. We thank him for his service.



Retired Air Force Colonel Bruce Seeber is a spry fellow at 91. Although he fusses some about occasional hearing aid malfunctions, and accepts (reluctantly, perhaps) the need for a cane at times, Bruce is clearminded and does not show the residue of his rare life experience that would have defeated many.

Bruce’s life changed forever when he was a 32-year-old jet fighter pilot. Bruce was flying a bombing mission about 30 miles northeast of Hanoi, Vietnam, to bomb a railroad bridge. He estimates that it was likely his 50th mission, although he can’t be sure. (He had flown several missions into Laos, but those were not officially counted later on.) Bruce scored his hit and was pulling his F-86 fighter jet up to altitude when ground fire hit his aircraft. The plane immediately burst into flames making all controls inoperable. Bruce had only one choice -- he pulled the ejection lever to free himself. Together the man and his jet fell to the earth, right in the midst of the enemy.

Bruce’s military adventure is only one chapter in his remarkable life. To understand how he had the strength of character and will to survive being a POW for 7 years and then transition back into freedom again, one must look at more than those years in captivity. Only then does it become obvious how he has reached his 91st year remarkably fit, smart, and well-loved by his family and friends.


Bruce was born in Atchison, Kansas, in 1933. His parents were from Kansas and Missouri, and both were teachers. His dad, Oscar, was a farmer, while his mom, Ione, was a homemaker after they married. The two had 5 children, with Bruce the youngest. There was a 15-year difference between the oldest and youngest child which meant that Bruce, the youngest, really didn’t get to be with his older siblings much. Several were already out of the house when he came along. When asked if he were spoiled being the baby, Bruce answers, “Probably.”

Before Bruce was born, the family had a pavilion around Sugar Lake. Missouri. In 1929, two tragedies struck: the pavilion was completely destroyed by fire, and the Great Depression began. The family moved first to Kansas City, Missouri, and later to a small town near Peoria, Illinois, where Bruce’s dad found work with Caterpillar. He worked there for 20 years. The family lived in the country where Bruce enjoyed growing up.


In 1950 at age 17, Bruce enrolled at Illinois State Normal (now Illinois State University) and was studying to become a teacher when his two housemates devised a plan for a different career path. The Korean War was over in 1953, but the young men were concerned about the possibility of being called up for service. Bruce’s friends thought they should all get deferment letters to avoid serving. Bruce refused. “I just didn’t believe in doing that,” he says.

As an option, the boys decided to take the test for Aviation Cadet School with the U.S. Air Force. All three took the test, but only Bruce passed it. Suddenly, a new door opened for the young man. He had never even been in an airplane -- let alone flown one -- but he was eager!

Bruce spent his first several months in flight school learning to fly in a P-18 – a Piper Cub, an excellent plane for beginners. Next Bruce transferred to the T-6 – a North American Aviation trainer plane that was used by the Air Force for advanced pilot training. The next step was the T-28 – another North American Aviation trainer aircraft. With his T-28 Bruce practiced aerobatics including spins, stalls, loops, and rolls (his personal favorite).

After about 9 months of flight training, Bruce began training in a Lockheed T-33, an American subsonic jet trainer. This first experience flying jets was exciting. “You had to be even more careful with speed and altitude while flying those jets,” Bruce explains. “They were very responsive.”

With one year of flight training and flying experience, Bruce was assigned to Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, Nevada. Nellis AFB is a fighter training base where Bruce took advanced combat flight training in the F-86 – a transonic jet fighter aircraft. After 3 months, Bruce was assigned to England Air Force Base in Rapides Parish, Louisiana. This was his first trip to Louisiana.


Bruce’s first assignment after flight school was to be one of love, luck, and opportunity. The usual time assigned to a base is relatively brief – usually about 3 years. Things were different for Bruce, because things were different in the world. He ended up

being stationed at England AFB for 10 years.

During his time there, Bruce spent periods of time (usually 6 months each) assigned out of the country. The world was experiencing tensions and the U.S. Air Force was often on nuclear alert status. Bruce was deployed to Italy three times, to Germany once, and to Turkey once. His first deployment was to Italy in 1955 when he was 22 years old. “I enjoyed Italy. Our base was close to Cortina, the site of the 1956 Winter Olympics, and the food was excellent!” Bruce remembers.

While Bruce was at England AFB, he often did night flying. He and another flyer went out to eat an early dinner at LeRoy’s Steak House before flying one evening in July 1959. Walking ahead of them into the restaurant was a young lady carrying an umbrella. The two friends settled in for dinner and watched as the young lady began playing piano for the club. “I think I fell in love the moment I saw her,” Bruce says.

There was an immediate attraction on both sides, and the two began dating. Several months later, Jane Wallace and Bruce were married. That marriage was a true love match, and they remained happily married for nearly 60 years until her death. Jane was from West Monroe, a connection that would prove invaluable later in their marriage when Bruce was shot down and held captive for so many years.

The couple had two children, daughters Suzy and Sally. Both were born at St. Francis Hospital in Monroe, and were a delight to their parents. When asked if becoming a husband and father changed him any, Bruce replied: “My priorities changed. Flying had been #1 in my life until then. After that, flying had to take a second seat.” When asked if he became a bit more careful in his flying afterward, he said,

“There’s no such thing as not being careful when flying a fighter jet. Whether you are a husband and father or not, you always have to be careful in those!”


After a decade at England AFB, Bruce was deployed to Japan’s Yokota AFB near Tokyo. Bruce went first, and Jane followed with their girls when Bruce had their housing arranged.

The family settled into life on the base. According to Bruce, most amenities are located on the base itself – housing, shopping, dining, entertainment, etc. This meant that those based there didn’t have to leave the base unless they wanted to see something of the country that they were in. The Japanese language proved to be a hindrance for much sight-seeing. “The language was so difficult. We had difficulty understanding or speaking it, and road signs weren’t useful at all,” Bruce says.

In 1964, the North Vietnamese fired upon two U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin. That marked a major change in the U.S. military presence in Indochina. It was then, according to Bruce, that he realized that he was going to war.

Bruce was deployed three times to Korat, Thailand. His was the first squadron there. The differences brought about by the Gulf of Tonkin incident were immediate. “We had live bombs and ammunitions all around us there,” Bruce remembers.

Bruce also remembers the frustrations that grew over time with the way the conflict was being managed. The Air Force plan was to bomb the Hanoi airfield. The order to do so didn’t come for 7 years. “The politicians handled everything,” Bruce says. “The generals had no say. The Secretary of Defense called all the shots.”

Bruce’s first prisoner experience was 6 months in solitary confinement. He was not bothered much early on because of his rank. There were others shot down holding a higher rank than his (he was a captain at the time). The Viet Cong expected more valuable information to come from the upper ranks so they attracted the earliest attention.


Bruce was on his 3rd deployment in Thailand when his life took a dramatic turn. As Bruce and his flaming jet fell to earth, he felt the heat from the fire. His parachute was hanging nearby. Bruce quickly assessed his situation. He heard voices from two directions and saw several huts in the third. Grabbing his survival kit, Bruce went in the only direction available – up a steep hill.

Bruce remained free for a little over a day before he was captured. He initially suffered a deep cut under his chin that bled profusely. Only later did he realize that he had also injured his back during his seat ejection. “You can take 25 G’s when you’re ejected. It creates some problems,” Bruce says.

Bruce’s first prisoner experience was six months in solitary confinement. He was not bothered much early on because of his rank. There were others shot down holding a higher rank than his (he was a captain at the time). The Viet Cong expected more valuable information to come from the upper ranks so they attracted the earliest attention. Although Bruce had experienced two previous “hairy” moments flying, he never really gave being taken prisoner much thought. “I always thought that that happened to someone else,” Bruce says.

On the day that Bruce went down, his wife and daughters were in Japan at the base. In an instant, two little girls who had just turned 4 and 5 the month before and their mother found themselves in a new life. As quickly as possible, Jane and the girls returned to the States to await Bruce’s homecoming. They made Jane’s hometown of West Monroe home base and began adjusting to their situation. Jane worked teaching private music lessons and earned her Master’s in music while the girls attended grade school. It would be 7 years before they would see Bruce again – 7 years that they could never recover as a family.


After the first 6 months in captivity, Bruce began undergoing interrogations. His captors insisted that he give them his biography

– where he lived? What he did? “I could never understand why they wanted that. As with this and with other requests for information such as letters to our representatives and senators, just about everything we gave them was lies. I was trained never to give out actual facts, and I didn’t,” Bruce explained.

When Bruce wouldn’t give them information, his captors began torturing him through food deprivation. “If you could call the food that they gave us ‘food’,” Bruce says. “It was ‘Sewer Green Soup’ made from boiling weeds they pulled from the ditches. Occasionally we would find a small bit of pig skin – with hair still attached – floating in there. We got this twice a day with a bowl of rice.” Bruce estimates that he lost 30 - 35 pounds while a POW.

The captors added other forms of torture including forcing the men to kneel on their knees on concrete floors for hours. They had other forms of torture, all designed to break their prisoners’ wills. “The more senior officers had it worse,” Bruce says. “I think that personality played a part in all of that. If you were aggressive, they were more aggressive.”

The tortures came at intervals. There were “rest periods” that might last a week -- or a year -- between sessions. The men were not allowed to speak aloud which made confinement even more stressful. To compensate, Bruce explained that the men used a “tap code” to communicate. By using finger taps on the walls and an ingenious alphabet-based code, the men could carry on conversations. “That tap code was a lifesaver,” Bruce says. “The Viet Cong were so anxious to break it, they would sit outside the walls with stethoscopes listening.”

Of all of his POW experiences, having to participate in the infamous Hanoi March in July 1966 was the one Bruce hated the most. Bruce and 50 other men were handcuffed in pairs, blindfolded, and driven from the camps to Hanoi. There they were paraded barefoot through the streets. Many were hit by thrown objects and fists, kicked, and spat upon. “That day was more frightening than all of the rest of

my confinement,” Bruce says. “I was lucky to live through it.”

In 1969, prison conditions began changing. There was more and better food (pumpkin soup and a daily loaf of bread were welcome additions!). Bruce was in a camp made up of small huts near the Chinese border. One day the huts were opened simultaneously –something that hadn’t happened before. About a week later, the men were loaded on trucks – without blindfolds -- and driven to Hanoi where they were put in the Hoa Lo Prison (nicknamed “Hanoi Hilton” by the POWs). They stayed there until release.

In 1973 Bruce was flown to a hospital at Clark AFB in the Philippines where his general health was evaluated. He was there for several days, during which he walked to the PX to do some shopping. There he faced the first shock of his reentry into freedom. “The women were in short shorts and the men were wearing pants of all colors! The world had changed,” Bruce admits. Indeed, it had.


The Air Force then moved Bruce to a hospital at Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Mississippi. Jane and the girls went there to reunite with him. Daughter Sally remembers that moment clearly. “We were given a ‘host family’ to help us. The wife in this family had watched several reunions and found them a bit overwhelming and chaotic when the entire family rushed at the returning POW. She had Mom go up first and held Suzy and me back,” Sally remembers. “I guess the reality of what was happening had not truly sunk in because I remember turning to the host mom and excitedly saying in disbelief ‘There’s Daddy’ several times when he got off the plane. After my parents had had a few minutes together, Suzy and I were sent forward and got a big hug. For me, there was no real transition. Daddy was home where he was supposed to be and everything went back to normal.”

Bruce was determined to use the extended leave of several months he was given to reconnect with his family. They stayed in West Monroe and took several family trips together – one to Disney World, and one out West. These were healing times for them all.

Bruce’s next deployment was to Langley AFB in Virginia. He spent the next 2.5 years there working in operations support. This was his final assignment because his confinement had prevented him from getting any command experience or attending any advanced schools. His military career was basically over when his plane went down. Bruce retired as a Colonel.


When asked if he wanted to fly once he was no longer a prisoner, Bruce said that he did get checked out in a T-39 but stopped when he realized that others on the base needed to be gaining T-39 flying time for pay raises and he didn’t. Besides, the world of flying had changed, too. “I don’t recognize the cockpit now. There are no longer a series of round instruments that give information,” he explains. “Now there are 3 computer screens that give out probably 100 times more information!”

Bruce moved on, seeking a new career. He spent a year working in a bank, but hated being in an office all day. He then took the position of plant manager for Shield Pack in West Monroe. He worked there for 8 years and loved the experience. Then Bruce retired again, this time to devote his time to doing things that he enjoyed and that he considered important. He attended several POW reunions when they were nearby. There about 500 POW’s met together for a special fellowship among friends who shared a rare common experience. “I really know about 50 of them well,” Bruce says, “but enjoyed being with them all. The life lesson we share: Being a POW shows you what you can stand, what you can do. You learn about yourself,” Bruce says.

Bruce says that there is nothing left on his “bucket list” because he is old enough now to know better than to do too much. Looking back over his life, is there anything that Bruce would change? “I’d change that spot in the air where I got shot!”

Summer Skincare

Managing Heat-Induced Skin & Wound Issues

SUMMER HEAT BRINGS PROBLEMS TO INDIVIDUALS with skin and wound issues. Every summer the clinic sees many patients who cannot get control of yeast/fungus in skin folds or get yeast around their wounds. Below are successful tips to help get skin problems under control:

1. Showering/bathing-This sounds simple but many patients are not able to get in a shower or tub. No rinse bath clothes have been a tremendous help in cleaning well between skin folds. The skin is slightly acidic so a balanced soap is also helpful. A soap that has an antibacterial may be an option during the hot summer months.

2. Prevent skin to skin contact- Cut up a soft t-shirt or use a soft bath cloth to separate skin to skin contact. This alone makes a tremendous difference by reducing sweat. Change out frequently during the day. If a brief is worn this will also help the elastic from digging into the skin.

3. Based on whether the area stays wet or dry, match your treatment. When the area is wet it needs powder type material and absorptive material on top. When the wound is dry it needs moisture added like a cream.

4. Offloading the area-When on the backside sitting surface, one would look at a support surface or cushion that is breathable and hopefully can have cover washed routinely.

5. Air-No matter where the problem is on skin, it has to receive some air. A good 10-15 minutes at least after cleansing makes a difference for many. If possible, fanning the area is optimal.

6. Antibiotics- Oral medicine commonly prescribed when simple interventions are not enough is Fluconazole to help get Candida yeast fungus under control. This type of fungus generally has a fiery red center with scattered bumps spreading out on edges and it itches! Antifungal powders are used frequently for this type of yeast. Another type of fungus is called “tinea corporis” (for example tinea pedis is athlete’s foot-the last word describes a body area to state where the yeast is. Like tinea corporis is on other parts body). This tinea yeast has a bright red rim on the outside but more faded in the center. This tinea fungus generally responds with topical over the counter miconazole nitrate 2% cream or terbinafine hydrochloride 1%.

Everyone is different so pick and choose what interventions work for you and adjust for how your routines of daily living are and home environment. Temporary help may be required by a friend or family member. Once the issue is under control maintenance is much easier.

If help is needed for these issues come see our experienced providers/staff who make you feel comfortable and take time to teach you lifelong habits one can incorporate in routines to prevent issues before they spiral out of control.

This clinic is privately owned by locals Karen and Chuck Stansbury who are both nurse practitioners with over 50 years of combined experience. They focus on wound and ostomy care. Coordination between providers and other services is crucial to have the most optimal outcome because if the patient’s underlying problems are not controlled the wounds will not heal. Every individual is connected to mind, body, spirit and we believe in helping the patient tap into all three levels. We have a saying at the clinic “If you feel good you heal good.” Our clinic appreciates the community and local providers who have entrusted the care of their patient’s to us.

Masur Museum

Northeast Louisiana’s Premier Art Museum

THE MASUR MUSEUM OF ART IS the largest contemporary art museum in Northeast Louisiana. Unique in its setting and renowned for its permanent collection and exhibitions, the Masur Museum provides an art experience that is distinctly local, emphasizing artists from Louisiana and greater Southeast alongside artists of national and international importance. The museum has much to offer for guests of all ages and general admission is ALWAYS FREE.

The current exhibit at the Masur is named The River is the Road: Paintings by George Rodrigue and is on display until October 19th. Born and raised in New Iberia, Louisiana, George Rodrigue (1944-2013) received his formal training at the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now UL Lafayette) followed by the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, California. In these intensely personal expressions, Rodrigue once again invites us into his world with a river, this time contemplating

not only his life’s journey and artistic legacy, but also, with hope and curiosity, the next part of his adventure. Unlike the black bayous of his Cajun paintings, Rodrigue’s Blue Dog interpretations are surreal in both design and color. Ultimately, paintings from the last year of Rodrigue’s life, as featured in this exhibition, ponder his life’s journey as never before, borrowing from the symbolism of his early paintings and the optimism of his later ones. This exhibition was organized by the Life & Legacy Foundation and Art Tour with Wendy Rodrigue and will be on display until October 19th.

The Masur Museum is thrilled to also have on display an exhibit by Angela Fraleigh: With Ready Eyes. Born in 1976 in Beaufort, SC, Fraleigh earned her MFA from Yale University and her BFA from Boston University. She has created site-specific projects for the Edward Hopper House Museum, the Vanderbilt Mansion Museum, and the Everson Museum of Art, among others. Fraleigh currently lives

and works in New York, NY, and Allentown, PA, where she is a Professor at Moravian University. Angela Fraleigh’s paintings explore the rich history of academic and avant-garde art, focusing on themes of gender, sexuality, femininity, and power dynamics. Her work intertwines realism and abstraction to create lush, complex pieces ranging from intimate portraits to monumental figure paintings that reimagine women’s roles in art history, literature, and contemporary media.

The museum also offers very popular MasurKids Summer Art Camps. The Masur Museum of Art is bringing you an amazing selection of Summer Art Camps with a collection of local teachers and artists! Choose from a variety of media-specific and themed camps offered from July 8th to August 1st. Cost of attendance varies by camp. A list of camps offered:

Plushie Buddies: July 8th-12th

ART IS PLAY - Kids: July 15th-19th

ART IS PLAY - Teens: July 15th - 19th

Mudworks: July 29th - August 1st

These camps run through August 1st and spaces are still available for children ages 8-17! Museum members receive discounts on classes for adults and children - visit the website today to join. And most importantly, come see what the Masur Museum of Art has to offer!

Rob Cleveland Appointed President and CEO

The Northeast Louisiana Economic Alliance Announces New Appointment


Economic Alliance (NELEA) is thrilled to announce the appointment of Rob Cleveland as its new President and Chief Executive Officer. With a distinguished career in economic and community development, Mr. Cleveland brings a wealth of experience and a proven track record of success to NELEA.

NELEA is one of the eight regional economic development organizations serving the State of Louisiana, and represents 10 parishes in the northeast corner of Louisiana. NELEA is a private, nonprofit corporation utilizing local, state, federal and private resources and programs to enhance the region’s economic competitiveness. Parishes served include: Caldwell, East Carroll, Franklin, Madison, Morehouse, Ouachita, Richland, Tensas, Union and West Carroll.

Before his tenure as CEO at Cornerstone Alliance, Mr. Cleveland held the position of Director of Economic Development and Community Relations at Indiana Michigan

Power (American Electric Power). In this role, he led numerous initiatives that spurred economic development and strengthened community ties across the region, attracting new businesses, retaining existing ones, and supporting workforce development programs.

Rob Cleveland also served as the Executive Director for Blackford County Economic Development in Hartford City, Indiana. During his time there, he spearheaded multiple projects that boosted local economic growth and improved the quality of life for residents. His comprehensive understanding of economic dynamics and his ability to engage with diverse stakeholders were key to his success in this role.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to join the team at NELEA and work alongside regional leaders to grow the economy in all ten parishes of Northeast Louisiana.,” said Cleveland. “I’m looking forward to being part of a team that collaborates with regional stakeholders and to collaborate with partners at Entergy, Louisiana Economic Development, North Louisiana

Economic Partnership, and many others, to bring new jobs to Louisiana.”

The NELEA Board of Directors expressed their confidence in Mr. Cleveland’s ability to lead the organization to new heights. “Rob’s extensive experience in economic and community development, combined with his dynamic leadership style, makes him the perfect choice to guide NELEA forward,” said Amanda Edge, Chairman of the NELEA Board. “We are excited to welcome him to Northeast Louisiana and look forward to the positive impact he will have on our region.”

Rob Cleveland holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Ball State University. He and his family are eager to become active members of the Northeast Louisiana community.

For more information about the Northeast Louisiana Economic Alliance and its initiatives, please contact Amanda Edge at (318) 623-9013 or

The Harrison Lilly Team

Winner of the BayouBuzz 2024 Best Realtor Award


is a specialized group of Real Estate Professionals that believe in customer care, teamwork, kindness and high performance. The team includes Harrison Lilly, Chris Rux, Amanda Meza, Kelsea Hebert, Melinda Winn, Sam Nelson, Matt Castleberry, Carter Cascio, Ramiro Gamez, Taylor Woods, Nadia Ivey, Matt Brock, Lauren Creekmore, Jessi Salsbury, Alex Ponarski, Amanda Colvin, Rick Burch, Megan Orr, Alivia Roberts, Cailey Chase, Connor Cornwell and Sean Menefee, in addition to our administration/non-licensed team members: Amy Mitchell Frantom, Jade Johnston, Jonathan Webster, Josh Williams, Connor Boudreaux and Jennifer Graves.

Their goal is to be the “team of choice” in Northeast Louisiana for the community, and it seems like they have done just that as Harrison Lilly was chosen as the Best Real Estate agent in the 2024 Bayou Buzz awards.

They also had 3 of their agents nominated including Amanda Meza, Rick Burch and Chris Rux.

Their motto is “Real Estate that Changes Lives” and they are doing just that every day across our community. “We believe that real estate can change lives whether that is helping a local widow selling a home so she can move on or providing jobs that provide an income that can change lives, that’s the ultimate goal.” said Harrison. “We want to see everyone reach their personal goals while helping our community.” Harrison grew up in Bastrop, Louisiana and has years of experience in the hospitality industry.

As a team-style brokerage, THLT Realty is not managed by a national, corporate real estate conglomerate, meaning they have the freedom to utilize their own proprietary systems developed specifically to meet the needs for Northeast Louisiana. This transfer of power allows them to reallocate the large

amount of dollars traditionally spent on brokerage fees to their business infrastructure and training for their agents. By doing so, it guarantees their clients are selling properties for top dollar, while buyers are receiving the best technology and service to maximize their experience. Whether you are an investor, builder, buyer, or seller, they have the tools to help you!

“The measure of a leader is not the mountain they stand on alone, but rather, the amount of people that stand on that same mountain with them. I’ve never wanted to own a company where I was sitting at the top by myself enjoying life while looking behind me and seeing others struggle. My vision and dream for THLT is that we enable agents to do more and live a big life. We mean it when we say we are full time, all in, and willing to do whatever it takes. Come experience the THLT difference!”

Students Attend Mini Medical School

Mangham High School Students Visit VCOM


grade students attended a mini medical school at VCOM, located near the ULM campus. The visit was facilitated by the ULM TRIO Educational Talent Search program, which encourages local high school students to pursue education.

The mini medical school lasts for about 90 minutes. The students were taken on a tour of the VCOM-Louisiana campus that included visiting the large auditorium where much of VCOM students’ initial training and teaching is conducted. There is also a Center for Simulation and Technology that has SimBaby™, SimJunior ®, SimMan®, and SimMom® manikins that simulate various medical complications and mock treatment rooms. The goal of the school is to promote health awareness and prevention to middle and high school students, as well as introduce and encourage students in the NELA region to pursue careers in health science.

After the tour was completed, the students

were brought into a large room where five stations were set up. The stations were Substance Abuse, Basic Life Support, Primary Care, Infectious Disease, and Mental Health and were manned by current VCOM second-year osteopathic medical students (OMS-II). The VCOM students took about 15 minutes at each station and fielded questions relating to each respective topic.

The Mangham students later noted that they really appreciated this because it gave them a much broader view of things that are addressed on any given day in a hospital setting. They got to practice CPR and learn about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, vaping, general health, diabetes, STDs, treatment for anxiety, suicide prevention, and many more topics.

“VCOM is committed to its mission of training physicians to meet the needs of rural and medically underserved populations. We recognize that sometimes students from these areas are not exposed to the idea of a career in

medicine. Through the mini medical school curriculum, we hope to create a spark that will light a candle that gives them some sight into a medical profession”, said Dr. Jonah Flowers, VCOM Associate Chair of Rural Medicine and Underserved Primary Care.

“One Mangham student commented that it was amazing how realistic the training dummy was,” noted ULM TRIO Outreach Specialist Wendy Hagan. “I never considered them being able to have dummies with pulses throughout. Also, the interactive skeletons with special stethoscopes to learn different sounds inside the body were amazing.”

Anthony Bartley, ULM TRIO College Transition Coordinator, stated “We’re very grateful to VCOM for setting up this Mini Med School. It’s so important for these high school students to have this opportunity. Having a school like VCOM in this area is phenomenal. Many students find that not only are these types of careers accessible, they are attainable,” added Bartley.

VCOM offers the mini medical school multiple times a year, from October to March. For more information, contact Dr. Jonah Flowers at

A Letter from Friday Ellis

Voted Best Public Official in 2024 Bayou Buzz Awards

WOW, MONROE! WHAT AN amazing journey this has been. As I embark on my second term, I am filled with pride and gratitude for the support you have shown me. I am humbled that you would choose me a second time to lead this amazing City and allow me to continue investing in the place my family and I call home. My first term flew by, as my dedicated team and I worked tirelessly to address long standing issues, optimize current projects, and strategically plan for our future. It is an incredible honor to be name BayouLife’s Best Public Official for the third consecutive year. I am deeply humbled by this recognition and grateful for your trust.

I see my peers leading their cities with equal dedication, and I know firsthand how hard they work. Our collective efforts are driving progress across our whole region. I want to extend a special shout-out to Mayor Mitchell, Mayor Talbert, Mayor Brown, Shane Smiley, Dr. Berry, Roy Heatherly and many

others—our collaboration is essential to the forward momentum we are experiencing. Our mission is to instill a renewed sense of pride and awareness of our cultural identity in Monroe, particularly within our parks and community centers scattered throughout the City. After multiple stakeholder meetings, community feedback sessions, and vision board presentations, I am incredibly proud of the strategic plans created by the community’s vision for these spaces. You can see the vision already taking place with the completion of the first inclusive playground at Benoit Community Center and the creation of the first E-Sports Game Room at Emily P Robinson Community Center. Go check out the new park furniture at Charles Johnson, Chennault and Forsythe parks or enjoy the pools and pool furniture at Marbles and Johnson Community Centers. Daily improvements are evident throughout the city, highlighted by the progress of the expanded Forsythe tennis courts and clubhouse, as well as the revamped Louisiana

Purchase Exhibit at the newly rebranded Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo, which is celebrating its centennial this year. If you missed our public meetings and want to learn more about our various strategic plans, visit OneRoe.City to learn about the quality of life initiatives we’re implementing throughout the city.

I can’t thank the employees of the City of Monroe enough! Our progress and completed projects are a testament to their hard work and dedication. Also, should out to Masur Museum for winning Best Art Gallery. What an amazing distinction and evidence of the creative and committed work they are doing there.

To the citizens of Monroe, thank you for believing in me and reelecting me for a second term. The visible progress occurring all around the City is not just an example of hard work but is also encouraging as we look to the future. The best is yet to come Monroe and I am honored to be a part of this thriving community.

Arts Council Awards

39th Annual Northeast Louisiana Arts Council Awards Announced


announced the winners of the 39th annual Northeast Louisiana Arts Awards Thursday, June 20 at Strauss Theatre Center in Monroe. Nominees along with Arts Council members, friends, family, and nominators gathered to celebrate the nominees and find out who the winners were in each of six categories. Categories were Arts Educator of the Year, Performing Artist of the Year, Visual Artist of the Year, Emerging Artist of the year, Volunteer of the Year, and the BART Award.

After a cocktail hour, opening remarks were made by Arts Council President/CEO, Barry Stevens, who then turned the program over to Mike Downhour, Monroe Chamber of Commerce Director of Membership & Community Engagement, who served as emcee for the evening. After introducing the nominees in each category, that category’s winner was announced.

The Edmund Williamson Artist of the Year Award went to Brandon Virgil, Sr., nominated by the Black Creatives Circle of North Louisiana.

It was announced that the Performing Artist of the Year Award was being renamed the Tommy Usrey Performing Artist of the Year, honoring the former Arts Council President/CEO who had a deep love of the performing arts. The winner in this category was Elizabeth Vidos (aka Lady Chops). Elizabeth was nominated by the North Central Louisiana Arts Council

Winning the Business Art (BART) Award was Paul & Kelly Coburn/The Gardens at Georgia Tucker, nominated by Twin City Ballet. The Volunteer of the Year Award went to Louisiana Delta Ballet nominee, Justin Underwood, while the Dot Bassett Emerging Artist Award winner was Jake Kepper, also nominated by Louisiana Delta Ballet.

The final category of Region 8 Arts Educator of the Year saw Weston High School art teacher Cyndi Beaubouef receiving the award.

Nominations for the Arts Educator category are open to the public while the other five categories are open to arts organizations in Region 8, Arts Council members and the Arts Council Board of Directors. A panel of judges outside of Region 8 review and score the nominees in each category to determine the winner of each category.

All nominees received a framed certificate signifying their nomination, while category winners received a Gary Ratcliff handmade stoneware bowl. Additionally, Emerging Artist winner Jake Kepper was presented a $500 check sponsored this year by Evelyn & Jeff Johnson. Arts Educator winner, Cyndi Beaubouef, also received a $500 check sponsored by Entergy.

Two special awards were announced as well. The Service to the Arts Award was presented to Jeanine Balance Patton, while Vickie Pappas Krutzer was presented with the Mary Lee Milam Award. Both the Service to the Arts Award and the Mary Lee Milam Award are selected exclusively by the Arts Council Board of Directors.

Learn more about the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council and its activities at

NELA Title Expands

Local Title Company Adds Team Member

NELA TITLE IS YOUR LOCAL TITLE AND ESTATE planning experts. Conveniently located in Monroe on Tower Drive, this locally owned businesses serves clients across Northeast Louisiana with their residential and commercial real estate, estate planning and business organization and transactions needs. After being in business 5 years, the company is excited to expand to be able to serve their clients even better. They are excited to announce that Maranda Stewart has joined their team as a closing coordinator. She brings over 25 years of experience in real estate closings. Over that time, she has developed great working relationships and is looking forward to continuing to build relationships across the community.

Maranda is a native and life-long resident of Farmerville, Louisiana, and received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Northeast Louisiana University in 1997 and her Masters in General Counseling and Development from Louisiana Tech University in 2000. She is the proud wife of Todd Stewart and they have two sons, Chandler and Ben. They are all faithful members of the Farmerville Church of Christ. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and spending time with her family.

NELA Title is owned by Rob Garner and Ethan Hunt, who were both born and raised in Monroe and have known each other since childhood. Their decades of friendship combined with decades of legal expertise make them the go-to local guys when it comes to real estate transactions, estate planning and business organizations and transactions.

They not only serve their clients on a daily basis, but also their community through their volunteer work and non profit organization involvement. They formed NELA Title to facilitate real estate transactions throughout Northeast Louisiana, and help the people of this community through the entire process.

The team is completed by Lindsey Shepherd and Kaitlyn Creech. Lindsey is the post- closing processor. She is a native of Rayville, Louisiana and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Louisiana Monroe. She has 13 years in the banking industry with experience in origination, processing and closing. She is married to Kevin and they have a daughter, Kynslee. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and watching her daughter play softball. Kaitlyn is the first face you will see when you visit NELA Title. She handles general office duties, data entry, and paperwork. Originally from Tallulah, she now resides in Monroe and she loves spending time with her husband and two dogs outdoors.

When it comes to residential real estate, NELA Title works with sellers, buyers, real estate agents and lenders throughout Northeast Louisiana. They have an extensive knowledge of real estate transactions, title issues and searches, escrow accounting and the settlement process. Their team is able to deal with and address any area of concern that may arise and help all parties through the transaction. NELA Title also works closely with local business owners, real estate agents, investors and financial institutions to provide commercial title services. They have decades of experience, knowledge and resources at our fingertips to deal with the complexities involved with commercial real estate. Additionally, they handle estate planning, offering peace of mind by developing an estate plan for you, your family or your heirs, protecting both your assets and your loved ones.

NELA Title is proud to be a part of the Northeast Louisiana community and looks forward to serving it for years to come!

Dance Excellence

Forty Years and Counting

MISSY CRAIN DANCE STUDIOS, now in is thirty-eighth season, was formed in 1984 when Director, Missy Crain discovered her teacher’s heart through performing as a classical ballet dancer. She immediately fell in love with teaching the art of dance and the thus the journey began! From the beginning, Missy Crain’s ideals were to teach the fundamentals of a dance education in a motivating and positive atmosphere. The Missy Crain dance syllabus begins at age 3 and teaches coordination, proper dance terminology, grace, poise, and classroom structure. Each year the syllabus (first written in 1984) progresses with age, and soon there are amazing dancers whirling about with strength, elegance and confidence.

At Missy Crain Dance Studios classes are taught in ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, contemporary, pointe, and pas de deux. Miss Missy feels strongly about providing a professional atmosphere, whether a student is 3 years old or twenty-one years old. The

recitals are top-notch with a state-of-the-art production like no other! Some of the favorites include “Peter Pan,” “Cinderella,” “The Frozen Kingdom,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Mary Poppins,” and “Aladdin.” Your dancer will love being a special part of the 20242025 recital production! You will love the entertainment value!

Miss Missy is extremely proud of the Missy Crain Performing Company. Each year, an audition is held and dancers are chosen to be a part of this award-winning group that travels abroad to perform and compete. This past year in Mobile, Alabama this prestigious group received the High Pointe Award at the L.A.D.M. Convention and Competition.Go dancers! Winning is no stranger to this group, as previously they were awarded Teen and Senior National Champions for LADM in Anaheim, CA!

Miss Missy is also very proud of our Louisiana Delta Ballet dancers. In 2004, she founded the 501(c)(3) company that is in

residence at all of her studio locations in Monroe, Ruston, Sterlington, and Calhoun. Louisiana Delta Ballet is best known for the ever popular “Power & Grace,” telling the story of Easter according to the gospel of Luke through dance.

Is time commitment as issue? No worries! MC Studios offers “just for fun” classes with flexible class schedules for working parents. Visit our website at and explore our boy’s hip-hop classes, after working hours classes, beginner pre-teen and teen classes, dance fitness classes, cheer prep classes, and just about anything in between. Our entire faculty cares about each and every student. They love the privilege of seeing these young dancers blossom into amazing human beings while creating life-long friendships and a true passion for dance.

We cordially invite you to give us a try. Visit to register for the 2024-2025 dance season. We have a place for you! Photos provided by Michelle Tripp.

The Platter

A Culinary Venture Rooted in Community and Passion

THE PLATTER, A THRIVING catering business, is led by Leah Parker, whose journey into the culinary world has been both serendipitous and well-earned. Leah, with years of catering experience through Iron Cactus, seized the opportunity to purchase The Platter at a time when everything seemed to align perfectly. “I hate to be cliché, but the opportunity came at the right time and all the stars aligned,” she remarks, reflecting on her decision to embrace this new venture. Recognizing the potential within The Platter and the diverse services it could offer, she dove in with enthusiasm.

Raised in Sterlington, she spent most of her formative years in this tight-knit community. After graduating from St. Frederick in 2000, she lived in Monroe until the opening of the Iron Cactus in 2010. Her roots in the area run deep, fostering a strong connection to the local community. Her journey in the food industry began during her college years, where she

gained invaluable experience waiting tables at several well-known Monroe establishments such as Not Just Pie, Melvyn’s, Genusa’s, and eventually Ernesto’s. These experiences laid a solid foundation for her future endeavors.

Iron Cactus, which will celebrate its 14th anniversary on July 12th, has been a testament to her dedication and hard work. Despite feeling like fifty years, this milestone speaks volumes about her resilience and commitment to the industry. This extensive experience has undoubtedly shaped her vision for The Platter.

At its core, The Platter embodies the concept of offering a wide assortment of food options, catering to diverse tastes and preferences. Leah strives to ensure that there is something for everyone, making inclusivity a cornerstone of her business. Her short-term goals focus on welcoming new customers and expanding the catering side of The Platter, while her long-term ambition is to establish the business as a lasting presence in the community.

The Platter’s versatility shines through its ability to cater to any event, regardless of size or occasion. From weddings and baby showers to birthday parties, reunions, and office gatherings, no event is too big or small for The Platter. Additionally, the business operates as a graband-go restaurant during the day, offering a variety of options to meet the diverse needs of its clientele.

Community involvement is a significant aspect of The Platter’s ethos. Leah and her husband, Brad, are committed to giving back whenever possible. They make it a point to support schools, non-profits, and other local organizations, reinforcing their dedication to the community that supports their business.

Looking ahead, The Platter has exciting announcements on the horizon. They now offer a mobile charcuterie cart available for rent at events, adding a unique and stylish touch to any occasion. This new offering underscores The Platter’s commitment to innovation and customer satisfaction.

In essence, The Platter is more than just a catering business; it is a reflection of the Leah’s passion, experience, and deep-rooted connection to the community. With a clear vision and unwavering dedication, The Platter is poised to become a beloved fixture in the local culinary scene.

Blake Wheelis State Farm

Serving Northeast Louisiana with Commitment and Care


Monroe, Blake Wheelis embodies the spirit of community service and entrepreneurial spirit as a State Farm agent. His journey from a marketing major at ULM to a pivotal role in insurance began in 1991 at the Monroe Regional Office of State Farm. However, it was in 2001 that he seized the opportunity to establish his own agency in West Monroe, fulfilling a dream to serve his hometown directly.

For Wheelis, being a State Farm agent isn’t just about selling insurance; it’s about giving back. He actively participates in community service activities and supports local charitable organizations, viewing his agency as a platform to help people plan for the future, recover from unexpected events, and protect what matters most in their lives.

What sets Blake Wheelis apart is his team’s dedication to personalized service. Every customer interaction is approached with genuine care and a desire to build lasting

relationships. This commitment ensures that each client receives tailored insurance solutions and a positive, valuable experience.

To stay abreast of industry trends and developments, Wheelis and his team prioritize continuous learning and professional development. They diligently study market changes and leverage State Farm’s resources to ensure they provide the most relevant and effective insurance solutions across Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

Trust is foundational to Wheelis’ approach. Regular insurance and financial reviews allow his team to understand clients’ evolving needs, review policies, and identify potential savings. This personalized approach not only strengthens client-agent relationships but also ensures that clients receive the coverage they need as their lives change. “The better we know our customers and they know us, the better we can serve their needs in the manner they prefer. Click in, call in, walk in… we can do it all,” says Wheelis.

Beyond business, Wheelis is deeply involved in his community. He and his team actively serve in various capacities, reflecting their gratitude and commitment to Northeast Louisiana. Their involvement goes beyond business transactions; it’s about making a tangible difference in people’s lives. Wheelis says, “My team loves to serve the people in this community and it is never surprising to see them serving, leading and cheering them on. I know that I can never give back more than this community has given to me, but I want to do my best to make an impact wherever I can.”

Excited about the future, Wheelis sees endless possibilities for growth. With a dedicated team and State Farm’s support, he anticipates expanding their impact and services. His vision includes leveraging new opportunities and innovations to better serve clients and the community for years to come.

Blake Wheelis’ journey from a local upbringing to a trusted State Farm agent exemplifies dedication, community spirit, and a commitment to excellence. His agency not only provides essential insurance services but also embodies the values of integrity, service, and community engagement. As Wheelis and his team continue to innovate and grow, Northeast Louisiana can expect continued support and exceptional service from a hometown leader who truly cares.

ULM’s Centennial Scholars Summit

Over 300 Local Sixth Graders From Monroe City School and Ouachita Parish Attend


Monroe welcomed over 300 local sixth graders from Monroe City Schools and Ouachita Parish schools to its campus on June 11 and 12 for the first-ever Centennial Scholars Summit. The Centennial Scholars are a group of local students who will make up the freshman class of 2031, ULM’s 100th year. The students were able to learn about fields of study and careers that align with their talents and interests.

“We know that at this stage of their development, these students should be exploring ideas, and we are planting seeds for them,” said Dr. Amy Weems, Assistant Professor of Education and organizer of the Centennial Scholars Summit.

In his welcome to the students, ULM President Ron Berry said, “At ULM we prepare you to fly higher than you’ve ever imagined. I need each one of you to realize that you can do anything you want to do and be anything you want to be. We’re going to help you take flight.”

Prior to arriving for the Summit, each

student took a survey which helped event organizers determine how to group them into one of six groups based on their strengths and interests. ULM programs that provided activities for the students included Art, Allied Health, Pharmacy, Computer Science, Physical Therapy, Communications, Biology, and more.

After a morning of breakout sessions, the students reconvened to enjoy lunch together and make short presentations about what they had learned. Each day of the Summit concluded with drawings in which several lucky students won iPads, which had been generously donated by AT&T.

“We want to thank all of our volunteers, ULM faculty and staff, and local school systems for making this event a success,” said Weems. “We hope that each of our Centennial Scholars who participated learned more about themselves and where they can go in the future.”

All students who participated in the Summit are Centennial Scholars, a group of local students who will make up the freshman class of

2031, ULM’s 100th year. The University began engaging with this group of students in 2022 by gifting them a copy of the book

There’s a Bridge On the Bayou, which also included a $500 scholarship to go towards their first semester at ULM in 2031. The book, written by ULM Development Officer Cindy Foust and illustrated by ULM Executive Creative Director Srdjan Marjanovic, tells the story of President Berry and how education can create opportunities and change lives.

ULM has continued to engage this group of students as they grow and will continue to follow them through middle and high school as they prepare for college. Weems says it is ULM’s goal to provide at least one educational opportunity and one student-life-related opportunity for the Centennial Scholars each year.

To learn more about the ULM Centennial Scholars program and purchase your own copy of There’s a Bridge On the Bayou, visit www.ulm. edu/100.


Of the 37 parks and green spaces, the city has delegated its efforts to enhance the functionality of its three largest parks: Charles Johnson Park, Chennault Park, and Forsy the Park






“Living in the South, outdoor space and outdoor recreation is such a part of who we are,” enthuses Kelsea McCrary. As Chief Economic and Cultural Development Officer for the City of Monroe, McCrary has her hands on several initiatives intended to transform Monroe into a more thriving and unified community. Part of Mayor Friday Ellis’ vision is to focus on how the community interacts with public spaces. “He’s just one citizen,” says McCrary, emphasizing that part of the Oneroe vision is to encourage community involvement, underscoring that public parks belong to the public. As part of the current administration, McCrary considers her team a steward of restoration. “The big focus of the administration has been trying to restore dignity to things that were built decades ago, but haven’t been maintained properly,” she says. Of the 37 parks and green spaces, the city has delegated its efforts to enhance the functionality of its three largest parks: Charles Johnson Park, Chennault Park, and Forsythe Park. According to McCrary, this ambitious master plan is not just about capital investment. It’s also about investing in the people of Northeast Louisiana.

In 2022, the city of Monroe partnered with CARBO Landscape Architecture, a landscape architecture firm based in Baton Rouge specializing in environmental awareness and a place’s cultural identity. Furthermore, they are known for their work with native planting and creative stormwater mitigation, a necessary consideration in our neck of the woods. The first step in designing and planning park restoration was community and stakeholder engagement whereby CARBO pulled stories of the past intending to create visions of the future. “We extended invitations to anybody and everybody who actively interacts with the space,” said McCrary mentioning the Northeast Louisiana Soccer Association, NELA Community Tennis Organization, Northeast Louisiana Delta African American Heritage Museum, Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo, ULM Fishing Team, and Biedenharn Museum & Gardens, among many others. Three goals were set to guide the parks’ improvements: organizing park elements, enhancing identity, and prioritizing programming. The community was invited to provide feedback regarding the vision for each park, which included voting on potential activities. As anticipated, the results for each park varied, as each maintains a unique location, layout, and amenities. Even then, most votes focused on prioritizing park activities, improving or adding gathering spaces, adding playgrounds and splash pads, and implementing path activities like biking and walking.

“What surprised me is how much more people utilize these parks than we already knew,” informs Mayor Ellis. During the early stages of community involvement, he witnessed the amount of engagement and utility occurring in public parks. “And by folks who were deeply connected to those parks in some way, either emotionally through memories as kids and as adults,” he adds. McCrary was also pleasantly surprised to learn how deeply embedded all the parks are in the community’s daily life. “I’m so thankful that we have so many people in our community that care about green space, and they care about trees and care about our planet,” she says.

“I’m so thankful that we have so many people in our community that care about green space, and they care about trees and care about our planet,” – KELSEA MCCRARY


Its 40 acres already include sweeping green spaces, towering trees, and panoramic views from the river. Its recreational amenities include walking paths, tennis courts, a golf course, soccer fields, a boat launch, and river access, all of which are part of the restoration and expansion of Forsythe’s existing amenities. For instance, the expansion of the tennis courts is already in the works. The boat ramp area has been completely redone and the parking lot restriped.

During the conceptualization process, accessibility was an indisputable priority, as well as a personal priority for Mayor Ellis. Currently, many city sidewalks are ADA-compliant (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990), meaning they contain accessible curb cuts. “No more sidewalks will go in without it,” says McCrary, mentioning the seven miles of ADAcompliant sidewalks being constructed throughout the city’s south side. Also, all three major parks contain picnic tables that meet ADA requirements, installed alongside new city-branded benches and trash cans. Play areas will also receive accessible equipment with components including platforms, ramps, and lifts. Another important factor in conceptualizing such remarkable developments is the weather. For McCrary, learning to live with consistent rainfall and heat is imperative, which also means reconceptualizing how we think about shade. “We’ve planted hundreds of trees with more to come,” she says, saying that the city has relied on its partnerships with LSU AgCenter and local gardening groups so flora can be responsibly situated.

For each park, elements of improvement include iconic play structures, charismatic architecture, and unique event spaces that fit each park’s identity as well as the rich cultural fabric of Monroe. At Charles Johnson Park, the smallest of the three, planned improvements take into account the surrounding community. Currently, the park features an expansive green space, playgrounds, and regularly used walking trails. New program elements include a fitness zone with accessible exercise equipment, more basketball courts, a yoga lawn, a pecan orchard, and two new children’s playgrounds. Bordered on one side by Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo, an intentional connection to the zoo is in the works with a public access window between the park and the zoo’s café presently available. So, if you’re in the park, you can grab a snack or get lunch without paying zoo admission. A few glances around this park make it clear that the area’s cultural identity is being celebrated. A multicolored mural strikingly fills the concrete floor of the basketball court. Meanwhile, the much-anticipated children’s playground highlights Louisiana culture in the form of “The Gumbo Pot” playground featuring equipment resembling some of Louisiana’s signature foods.

Forsythe Park is another neighborhood park adjacent to the historic Garden District neighborhood. Its 40 acres already include sweeping green spaces, towering trees, and panoramic views from the river. Its recreational amenities include walking paths, tennis courts, a golf course, soccer fields, a boat launch, and river access, all of which are part of the restoration and expansion of Forsythe’s existing amenities. For instance, the expansion of the tennis courts is already in the works. The boat ramp area has been completely redone and the parking lot restriped, upgrades sure to make the 3rd Annual ReaperFest and Ouachita River Run memorable come June 22nd. Even with the changes underway, planning outdoor activities have not been deterred. “Picnic in the Park has become a pretty big event for us,” mentions McCrary. She notes its potential growth once the Children’s Museum moves into the park in addition to the planned sculpture garden and the development of bike-centered activities. “We really want to bridge the gap between removing the stigma around biking and also making biking safer for our city,” she says, adding, “That’s part of what the Sixth Street experiment is about.”

Covering a whopping 950 acres, Chennault Park is the largest of the three parks. “Chennault is a beast. It’s so big, and it’s going to be hard to tame that beast,” says McCrary. This mammoth space is home to the Northeast Louisiana Delta African American Heritage Museum, an 18-hole public golf course, the Northeast Louisiana Soccer Association complex, disc golf courses, ponds, tennis courts, playgrounds, and acres of forested areas and open lawns. Because this park is mostly sports-centered, attention is being given to


fishing and kayaking access, establishing BMX competitions, and enhancing the golf course. “We’ve already hired a new golf pro who is doing amazing things at the golf course,” says McCrary. Thanks to input by CARBO, native plants will also be a point of display, particularly those that aid in water drainage like the Copper Iris, Spider Lily, and Southern Wood Fern.

Monroe City has been involved in a few firsts. For instance, the very first litter crew in the history of the city was established when Mayor Ellis took office. “That’s been really instrumental in keeping the parks clean,” says McCrary who considers first impressions key to keeping the community eager and involved. More recently, Mayor Ellis plans to keep reaching innovative firsts by implementing a comprehensive plan for paddleboarding and kayaking with the hope of becoming, “the paddleboard destination of the South.” This exciting venture—in collaboration with the city of West Monroe, Ouachita Parish, North Delta Regional Planning, and Discover Monroe West Monroe—would entail the establishment of kayak and paddleboard lockers placed at locations throughout the parish. Not only would these stations encourage the community to take a break from their indoor routines, but they harmonize with other parks in the area, drawing together activities that allow us to appreciate the natural beauty of our home and people.

Making spaces intentional has been a driving force in the restoration endeavors for these parks. Ultimately, each park is meant to reinforce the cultural identity of Northeast Louisiana, further revealing the precious commodity we are being called to maintain and enjoy. So don’t be afraid to park hop! After all, each park has something nuanced to enjoy. Wherever you go, you’ll learn that gathering in a shared space is the touch of community that enhances our daily lives.

Get Ready for Summer

With the Children’s Shoppe


to prepare your little ones for those fun-filled days at the pool, lake, or beach. At the Children’s Shoppe, we have everything you need to ensure your kids are stylish, comfortable, and ready for adventure. From adorable swimwear to practical accessories, our collection is perfect for creating unforgettable summer memories.


When it comes to carrying all your summer essentials, Bogg Bags are a must-have. These durable, waterproof bags are perfect for the beach, pool, or any outdoor adventure. With plenty of space for towels, toys, snacks, and sunscreen, Bogg Bags make it easy to stay organized. Plus, their sturdy design means they can handle all the excitement and energy that your kids bring to summer fun.


Protecting your child’s eyes from the sun’s harmful rays is essential, and Babiators are the perfect solution. These stylish and sturdy sunglasses are designed to fit comfortably and securely on your child’s face, providing 100% UV protection. With a range of cool colors and fun designs, your little ones will love wearing their Babiators, whether they’re building sandcastles at the beach or splashing in the pool.


For kids who love to swim, Bling2o goggles are a gamechanger. These fun and fashionable goggles come in a variety of vibrant colors and unique designs that kids adore. Bling2o goggles are not only stylish but also functional, providing a comfortable fit and excellent visibility underwater. Whether your child is learning to swim or is already a little fish, these goggles will make their swimming experience even more enjoyable.


After a long day of swimming and playing, wrapping up in a cozy towel is a must. Dock & Bay towels are perfect for the job. These towels are super absorbent, quick-drying, and incredibly soft, making them ideal for drying off and warming up after a dip in the water. Their compact and lightweight design also makes them easy to pack, so you can take them anywhere your summer adventures lead.


Nothing says summer fun like matching family swimwear! Our boutique offers adorable his and hers bathing suits, so you can coordinate with your little ones and create picture-perfect moments. Whether you’re lounging by the pool or playing in the waves, our matching swimwear sets are designed for comfort and style, ensuring that everyone looks their best.


Gearing up for summer has never been easier or more fun. Visit The Children’s Shoppe today and discover all the wonderful items we have in store. Whether you’re preparing for a beach trip, a day by the pool, or a family outing to the lake, we’ve got you covered with the best in summer fashion and accessories for kids. Make this summer unforgettable with our high-quality, stylish, and practical products. We can’t wait to help you and your family get ready for the sunny days ahead!

Run, Play and Make Furry Friends

At Sit, Stay, Play in Monroe

SIT, STAY, & PLAY WAS BORN OUT of a very simple idea. Provide the highest level of care in a fun and loving environment to animal lovers and their fourlegged companions. Motivated by a passion for animals and deep understanding of quality pet care, we pride ourselves on caring for your furry family members. When you and your loved ones come to Sit, Stay, & Play, you become part of our family. Clients will have peace of mind knowing their pets are well cared for and having a great time while staying with us!

BOARDING Taking a vacation? Don’t leave your pets out, give them a vacation at Sit, Stay and Play! They will enjoy plush amenities and fun in the yard during daycare. Don’t worry! We have condo life available for our cats, too! Felines will enjoy their time staying in our condos where they can play all day and perch up in our windows. They will have the opportunity to have fun and run around in our cat centered room!

Canines have numerous options for accommodations at Sit, Stay and Play! Check out our various styles of accommodations. All include plush bedding, with daily turndown service. Furry friends will enjoy sumptuous dining during their stay with us. Your pets will LOVE the one-of-a-kind service they receive at Sit, Stay and Play.

GROOMING Pamper Your Pet! Sit, Stay & Play offers full-service grooming by appointment only. Grooming can take extended time and pets are welcome to play in our daycare until their grooming appointment if requested by the owner.

The Tune Up! (Clean-Up Groom)

• Soothing Bath

• Relaxing Massage

• Trim-Bottom, Feet and Face

• Mani and Pedi (No Paint)

• Anal Glands Expressed

• Bandana

• Refreshing Spritz

The Overhaul (Full Groom)

• Full Cut

• Soothing Bath

• Relaxing Massage

• Mani and Pedi (No Paint)

• Ears Cleaned

• Anal Glands Expressed

• Bandana

• Refreshing Spritz

DAY CARE The best play your pup will get today. During the day, let your dog be a dog at Sit, Stay and Play! We will show your furry friends love and attention throughout the day and they will come home as one tired and happy PUP. Participating in daycare will help eliminate the feeling of loneliness and boredom while you are away. Canines participating in our program will enjoy many events throughout the day with their new friends!

Good Behavior Bucks: Earn Good Behavior Bucks while participating in daycare or boarding with us. Bucks can be cashed in during their next stay at daycare or during boarding for something special during their stay.

Proudly Serving Surrounding Parishes

Ouachita Valley Federal Credit Union

OUACHITA VALLEY FEDERAL Credit Union is a full-service financial institution dedicated to serving its community and its members. The credit union offers a wide variety of services including savings (share) accounts, checking accounts, E-Services, CDs’, IRAs’, and almost any type of loan from purchasing a vehicle to a home equity loan, plus so much more. Also, Ouachita Valley added Business Services to that list. From business accounts to business loans, we can provide business services tailored to suit your needs.

In May of 1955, Ouachita Valley Federal Credit Union began as Ouachita Parish Teachers Credit Union. Ouachita Parish Teachers Credit Union continued to grow adding additional school systems, sponsor companies, and mergers. For this reason, in the mid-80s, the name was changed to Ouachita Valley Federal Credit

Union to better represent the credit union membership.

Convenient locations include Natchitoches Street in West Monroe, Well Road in West Monroe, Sterlington Road in Monroe, Louisville Avenue in Monroe and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Monroe.

Ouachita Valley Federal Credit Union is proud to serve their community. For the past 20 years, Ouachita Valley has partnered with Sunny 98.3 to host the Sunny School Supply Drive. This supply drive helps children who need assistance with supplies to return to school each August. Throughout the years, over 15,000 students have benefited from the supply drive with the help of the community. Each year during the month of July, we host several events to raise awareness and accept donations on behalf of the supply drive. During that time, we also accept applications for students in need of supplies. To donate

or for more information, call Jessica Wilson at 318.387.4592 or email

Ouachita Valley currently serves over 35,000 members in the 17 parishes they serve. For more information log onto www. or call 318.387.4592 and begin taking advantage of the credit union difference today.

Husband Honors ULM Toxicology Professor

Dr. Robert Meyer Honors Late Wife With Toxicology Scholarship


husband of ULM’s Dr. Sharon Meyer, donated $25,000 to establish the Sharon Meyer Dufilho Society Endowed Scholarship in Toxicology. A check presentation was held at the ULM College of Pharmacy on June 3, 2024.

“ULM is where Sharon got a chance to be an academician and researcher. We knew we had to set up a memorial in her name, seeing as this is where she made her career,” said husband, Robert Meyer. Sharon impacted the lives of students, faculty, and her community of toxicology colleagues across the nation.

Sharon was raised on a farm in Panora, Iowa, often attempting to make chemicals with items purchased from her local family. After receiving her undergraduate and master’s degrees at Iowa State University, she went on to complete a Ph.D. in Physiology at Cornell University and two postdoctoral fellowships, one at Harvard Medical School and one at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

Her career led her to ULM in 2000, where

she was recognized as a Fellow of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences, honored with an endowed professorship from the University of Louisiana System Foundation and WillisKnighton Health Systems, and was awarded the Excellence in Teaching Award from the National Society of Leadership and Success.

She retired from ULM in January 2023. Prior to retirement, she was studying the risks of exposure to complex chemical mixtures and deciphering their toxicologically “active” agents using multivariate statistics. As an 8-year breast cancer survivor and undergoing treatment for metastatic uterine cancer, a personal research interest for her was examining the dietary supplement Echinacea as a means to boost the production of white blood cells when bone marrow has been compromised, such as during chemotherapy. She passed away in July 2023.

Dr. Sindhura Ramasahayam, one of Sharon’s graduate students, shared “Her endless support and encouragement have made many of us succeed in our Ph.D. and her passion

and dedication towards research has shaped many students towards high expectations and achievements. I truly appreciate her for her valuable and tireless guidance. She left behind a legacy in the field of toxicology.”

Robert and the 2024-2025 recipient, Cara Juneau, met at the event for the first time. Cara is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in toxicology.

The endowed status of the scholarship will live on in perpetuity to ensure financial support for future toxicology students. Robert is hopeful that this scholarship will evolve into a Superior Graduate Scholarship, totaling $60,000, and be awarded to Ph.D. students pursuing toxicology.

Miss Louisiana Competition

Olivia Grace George Crowned Miss Louisiana 2024

THE 2024 MISS LOUISIANA competition finals took place on Saturday at the Monroe Civic Center’s W.L. Jack Howard Theater, featuring 32 of Louisiana’s most talented and intelligent young ladies competing for over $64,000 in scholarships and the prestigious title of Miss Louisiana.

Taking home the crown was Olivia Grace George, a Texarkana, Texas native and student at Louisiana Tech University, representing the Miss Louisiana Watermelon Festival local title. Olivia, who was last year’s first runnerup, plans to complete her bachelor’s degree in education and pursue a career as an educator. Throughout the three days of competition, Olivia and her fellow contestants competed in private interview (30%), health & fitness (20%), on-stage conversation (10%), talent (20%), and evening wear (20%). Olivia was also awarded the $1000 Women in Education scholarship during Thursday’s preliminary competition. Olivia shared her vision through her

Community Service Initiative (CSI), Education is Key, stating, “I plan to empower Louisiana students to become strong leaders in and outside of the classroom. I want to help students grow their love for learning.”

The Miss Louisiana Organization awarded a total of $64,000 in cash scholarships and made available over $850,000 in in-kind scholarships. The fourth runner-up was Gabrielle McLeod, Miss University of Louisiana Monroe; third runner-up was Leah Thompson, Miss Ouachita Parish; second runner-up was Lily Gayle, Miss Louisiana Port City; and first runner-up was Felicia McGill, Miss Natchitoches Parish.

The Miss Louisiana Organization is part of the Miss America Organization, the world’s largest provider of scholarships for women. Corporate sponsors for Miss Louisiana include The City of Monroe, Discover Monroe-West Monroe, the University of Louisiana Monroe, Propane Dealers of Louisiana, Louisiana Office of Tourism, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of

Louisiana, TownePlace Suites by Marriott, and New Beginnings Wellness Center and Spa. For more information, please visit www. or

photo courtesy of Steven Palowsky

Tech Graduate Earns Award

Catherine Lacey Earns Elite NSF Fellowship Award


engineering graduate Catherine Lacey

was recently awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship (GRFP), paving the way for continuing her education. Lacey—one of a select few among more than 10,000 applicants to receive the fellowship—earned this coveted award due to her exemplary academic performance, demonstrated leadership, and extensive research experience.

Encouragement from her Louisiana Tech mentors was crucial in navigating the challenging application process. Her research supervisor, Dr. Mary Caldorera-Moore, and academic advisor, Dr. Matthew Hartmann, were particularly influential. Their support inspired her to apply despite the stiff competition.

When asked about Lacey’s work ethic, Biomedical Engineering Program Chair Dr. Louis Reis stated, “Catherine demonstrates

the potential that all of our students are capable of. Whether through her studies, her work, or her leadership and service, Catherine clearly shows that she is an elite student who can compete with the top students from any university in our nation. We are delighted by this announcement and are extremely proud of Catherine and the work she has done to receive this prestigious fellowship and represent our university.”

Lacey credits her undergraduate experiences at Tech, including first-year engineering program Living with the Lab and the opportunity to tackle real-world problems in Caldorera-Moore’s lab, as transformative. These opportunities honed her skills and built her confidence to pitch her research interests.

“All the projects and extracurricular activities I did throughout my education here at Tech were crucial in helping me get my REU (research experience for undergraduates), internship, and, eventually, the NSF GRFP,” she said.

Building on her first-year hands-on experience in Living with the Lab, she joined Caldorera-Moore’s lab her sophomore year. There, her work sharpened her engineering skills and confidence. This experience led to her participation in the NSF REU at the University of Texas at Austin, where she researched a self-regulated biostimulation device, and an internship at Medtronic.

The application featured a personal essay outlining her goals and a research proposal for graduate school. Lacey’s prior graduate-level research experience was vital, providing her with the technical knowledge and confidence to pitch her ideas.

When asked what the award meant to her, Lacey stated: “I am incredibly honored to be awarded the NSF GRFP as I continue my studies at Georgia Tech for an advanced degree in Electrical Engineering. This award will fully fund my graduate education and empower me to direct my own research. I want to thank my family, friends, professors, and mentors who have supported and encouraged me to continue to strive for excellence. These people believed in me and showed me that I could accomplish something incredible long before I did, and for that, I will be forever grateful.”

This Is America Exhibition

Rodrecas Davis Among 20 Artists Included

RODRECAS DAVIS, HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT OF VISUAL and Performing Arts (VAPA) at Grambling State University will be among 20 artists included in the art exhibition, This Is America 2024. Opening June 28, 2024, at 5 Points Art Gallery + Studios, the exhibition hits hard on reclamation and correction of popular social and political narratives. Steadfast and true to all artistic forms, This is America is a group exhibition that remains a critical and unfiltered visual art demonstration for artists of color to explore, narrate, display, and create dialogue around their diverse lived experiences, observations and cultural associations with the United States of America.

Wisconsin-based, national, and international, This Is America’s exhibiting artists represent expansive territories, identities, languages, cultures, artistic approaches, and influences. Capturing the most vulnerable moments as well as challenging the most debated and divisive topics, works on display are equally diverse in content and technique. From photographic documentation, repurposed and reimagined materials, 3-D printed sculptures, to eloquently rendered traditional oil paintings, the works, and artists reveal riveting visual storylines in their respective media.

Other exhibiting artists include: Bennie C. Higgins (Milwaukee, WI), Chuck Jackson (Memphis, TN), Claudia Maysen (Keller, TX), D.J. da Artist (Baltimore, MD), Darrel Melvin Payne (Milwaukee, WI), Destiny Brady (Chicago, IL), Emmanuel Guerra (Milwaukee, WI), Erik Salgado (Chicago, IL), Fatima Laster (Milwaukee, WI), Jared Davis a.k.a. Turtle Sooup (Milwaukee, WI), Kelvin Bulluck (Washington D.C.), Kleaver Cruz (Bronx, NY), Kierston Ghaznavi (Milwaukee, WI), LaDasia Bryant (Milwaukee, WI), Manny Vibez (Milwaukee, WI), Mark A. West Jr. (Baltimore, MD), Nina Ghanbarzadeh (Milwaukee, WI), Rebecca Marimutu (New York, NY) and *Spencer Hutchinson (Chicago, IL).

The unbounded and impactful works within This is America will be on display until August 25, 2024.

For more information about 5 Points Art Gallery + Studios, please call (414) 988-4021, email, or visit the gallery’s Facebook page at

Discover Charmé:

Your Premier Sunless Tanning Salon in West Monroe

CHARMÉ IS A SUNLESS TANNING salon that opened its doors on Trenton Street in West Monroe in February 2023. With a mission to help women of all ages, shapes, and sizes feel beautiful in their own skin, Charmé is dedicated to educating clients about the numerous benefits of sunless tanning. Our salon offers a comfortable and professional environment where clients can achieve a radiant, sun-kissed glow without the harmful effects of UV exposure.

In addition to our brick-and-mortar studio, Charmé features a unique, fully renovated Mercedes Sprinter van, transforming the concept of mobile tanning. This spray tan salon on wheels allows us to bring our services directly to you, offering unparalleled convenience across most of North Louisiana. Whether you’re preparing for a special event or just want to maintain a healthy glow, our mobile salon ensures you receive topquality tanning services without leaving the comfort of your home or workplace.

Leading Charmé is Katelynn Phillips, the owner

and lead spray tan artist. Katelynn’s background as a registered nurse, a role she has held since 2017, sets her apart in the tanning industry. Her medical knowledge and understanding of skin health enable her to provide safe, effective, and customized tanning solutions. Katelynn’s passion for helping women feel confident and beautiful shines through in every spray tan session, making her clients’ experiences both enjoyable and rejuvenating.

Sunless tanning offers a multitude of benefits that extend beyond achieving a bronzed appearance. One of the primary advantages is the elimination of harmful UV exposure, which can lead to skin damage, premature aging, and an increased risk of skin cancer. With sunless tanning, you can achieve a beautiful, natural-looking tan without jeopardizing your skin’s health. Moreover, sunless tanning products have evolved significantly, now providing streak-free, even coverage that mimics a natural tan.

Charmé is committed to using only the highest quality tanning products that are free from harmful chemicals and additives. Our solutions are

designed to nourish and hydrate the skin while providing a long-lasting tan. We also offer a range of customizable options to suit different skin tones and preferences, ensuring that each client leaves with a glow that perfectly complements their natural beauty.

In addition to individual appointments, Charmé is the perfect choice for group events and special occasions. Whether it’s a bridal party, a girls’ night out, or a corporate event, our mobile spray tan salon can accommodate groups of any size, making it easy to enjoy a luxurious tanning experience together. Our professional and friendly team is dedicated to providing a exceptional service that exceeds expectations, ensuring that every client feels pampered and satisfied.

We invite you to experience the Charmé difference for yourself. Our salon on Trenton Street is open and welcoming, ready to provide you with the best sunless tanning experience in West Monroe. For those who prefer the convenience of a mobile service, our Mercedes Sprinter van is equipped with all the amenities needed to deliver a flawless tan right to your doorstep.

Book your next spray tan appointment with Charmé and let us help you achieve the perfect sun-kissed glow. With our commitment to quality, safety, and client satisfaction, Charmé is your go-to destination for sunless tanning in North Louisiana. We look forward to seeing you soon and helping you feel beautiful in your own skin!

Louisiana Tech Hosted 60 Students For Camp

Students Attended A Weeklong Summer STEM Program Called Camp Invention

THE COLLEGE OF EDUCATION AND Human Sciences (CEHS) welcomed 60 students to Louisiana Tech University to participate in Camp Invention.

This weeklong summer program features STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) activities catered to multiple grade levels and encourages students to learn through trial and error, enhancing their inventive thinking skills without the fear of failing. The program focuses on students entering 1st through 7th grade as campers and those in 8th through 11th grade as leaders in training.

“Participation in just one week of Camp Invention results in significant short and long-term improvements for children in skills needed for the classroom and future jobs,” Director Hannah Lewis said. “We have loved the experience so far and are excited to continue this partnership in the coming years.”

The partnership between Camp Invention

and CEHS not only benefits the young students but also enriches the surrounding community. Faculty and staff involved in the camp witness firsthand the transformative impact it has on the participants, sparking their interest in STEM fields and higher education.

“Having these campers here exposes them to the University and allows them to see what STEM is about,” said Lewis. “Being involved in an activity like Camp Invention on campus increases the probability of these students choosing to attend college at Louisiana Tech.”

“STEM concepts and content are critically important for the next generation of leaders to understand,” Dr. Lindsey Keith-Vincent, associate dean for research, outreach, and innovation, said. “What is even more critical is ensuring learners hone necessary skills and competencies to apply that knowledge in settings where students engage in real world problem solving. The model that Director Lewis and her instructors are implementing during

Camp Invention allows youth to explore, learn, and grow in both of these areas.”

Camp Invention’s commitment to fostering the next generation of innovators showcases the importance of early exposure to STEM education and its role in shaping the future of young students.

For more information on Camp Invention and future events, contact Hannah Lewis at 318.331.0353 or hannahlewiseducator@gmail. com.


From three delicious vinaigrettes to a mouth-watering watermelon granita with mint ice cream, these recipes are staples for summer salads and snacking.


Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard

2 tablespoons maple syrup salt and pepper

Shake together all ingredients. Store in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Raspberry Vinaigrette

1 cup fresh raspberries

1/4 cup basil leaves

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons maple syrup 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard

Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

1/2 cup cilantro leaves

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

2 teaspoons lime juice

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 avocado (optional)

For the raspberry and cilantro lime vinaigrettes, blend together all ingredients in a blender or with an immersion blender. Store in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.


Mint Ice Cream

1 cup whole milk

2 cups mint leaves

3/4 cup sugar

2 cups heavy cream

5 egg yolks a pinch salt

Watermelon Granita

3 cups watermelon

1/3 cup sugar

1 lemon, juiced

1 teaspoon flaked sea salt

To make the mint ice cream, in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk, sugar and one cup of heavy cream until it begins to bubble on the edges. Remove from heat, then add mint leaves. Cover and let steep for a couple of hours. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks until smooth.

Reheat the mint mixture. Drizzle 1/3 of the warm mixture into the bowl with egg yolks in a stream while continuously mixing. Pour the egg yolks in the saucepan, and slowly heat until thicken and the mixture coats the back of the spoon.

Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer and mix in the remaining cup of heavy cream. Chill completely, then follow the instructions on your ice maker to churn.

For the granita, add watermelon, sugar and lemon juice to the bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth. Add the mixture to a shallow freezer-proof dish and place in the freezer. After 30 minutes, scrape the mixture with a fork moving any ice crystals from the edges to the middle and breaking up any large pieces. Continue to scrape every 30 minutes until the mixture is fully frozen.

Sprinkle the granita with sea salt before serving.

A Sweet Evolution:

The History of Chocolate Chip Pound Cake

THE CHOCOLATE CHIP POUND CAKE IS A BELOVED dessert that brings together two iconic treats: the pound cake and chocolate chips. This delightful confection has a rich history, marked by the evolution of baking techniques and the blending of flavors that have captivated sweet tooths for generations.

The origins of the pound cake can be traced back to Europe in the early 18th century. The traditional pound cake recipe was simple and practical, calling for a pound each of four ingredients: flour, butter, eggs, and sugar. This straightforward formula not only made the recipe easy to remember but also ensured a dense, rich cake that could be stored for extended periods without refrigeration. The cake’s durability and richness made it a staple in households across Europe.

As the pound cake made its way to America, it underwent numerous adaptations. Bakers began experimenting with the basic recipe, adding ingredients like vanilla, nutmeg, and lemon zest to enhance the flavor. By the mid-19th century, pound cakes had become a fixture in American baking, celebrated for their versatility and comforting taste.

The introduction of chocolate chips to the pound cake is a relatively recent innovation, reflecting broader trends in the baking industry. Chocolate chips themselves were invented by Ruth Graves Wakefield in the 1930s. Wakefield, who owned the Toll House Inn in Massachusetts, stumbled upon the idea when she added chopped bits of a Nestlé semi-sweet chocolate bar to a batch of cookies. The resulting Toll House cookies were an instant hit, leading to the commercial production of chocolate chips by Nestlé.

The marriage of chocolate chips and pound cake likely began in American kitchens during the mid-20th century. As home baking became increasingly popular, particularly in the post-World War II era, bakers sought new ways to innovate classic recipes. Adding chocolate chips to pound cake provided a delightful twist, combining the dense, buttery texture of the cake with the rich, sweet bursts of chocolate.

The chocolate chip pound cake’s popularity surged in the latter half of the 20th century, aided by the availability of pre-packaged chocolate chips and the rise of convenience baking. It became a favored dessert for family gatherings, potlucks, and holidays, cherished for its comforting familiarity and indulgent flavor.

Today, the chocolate chip pound cake continues to evolve, with bakers experimenting with various ingredients and techniques. Some recipes incorporate sour cream or yogurt to add moisture and tang, while others might include nuts or a hint of coffee to complement the chocolate. Despite these variations, the core appeal of the chocolate chip pound cake remains the same: a harmonious blend of rich, buttery cake and decadent chocolate.

The chocolate chip pound cake is a testament to the enduring appeal of combining classic flavors with innovative twists. Its history is a sweet journey from the simple pound cake of 18th-century Europe to the beloved chocolate-infused treat enjoyed by countless dessert lovers today. Whether served at a casual family dinner or a festive celebration, the chocolate chip pound cake continues to bring joy and satisfaction to those who savor its delicious legacy.


For the last eight years, BayouLife Magazine has published the Bayou Buzz Awards, or “Buzzys” as we like to call them. Nominations were open to the public, where the top ten were selected to be voted on. We acknowledge that there are so many amazing businesses in our area, but our Bayou Buzz awards focus on those businesses that are locally owned and operated. We know that this list is not all encompassing, and we hope to continue to grow this special acknowledgment in the coming years.

The Bayou Buzz awards is our way of celebrating those business owners who took risks and were successful at developing businesses that have made an impact in our community. In the following pages, you will find the top 3 finalists in each category with the winner listed at the top. We hope that our readers will use this insert as a resource for finding some of the most endeared businesses in our region.

Thank you to all those that participated in this year’s Bayou Buzz awards and congratulations to our nominees, finalists and winners.


Whether you are looking for a personal trainer to help reach your fitness goals or a stylist to fix your “do,” we’ve got the best of the best listed below. This group of finalists encompass our readers’ choices for body, beauty and brawn.



















































Home is where the heart is and the finalists in these categories definitely have our love. From the very best in furniture options, to the guys with the green thumbs, our Bayou Bungalow winners celebrate the best in home décor and more.


























































Louisiana is known for delicious food, and our Favorite Fare category recognizes the best in the industry. From your favorite mixologist to the best burger in town – we’ve got you covered when it comes to these nom, nom, nominees.



































































































Our local retailers are top notch, offering Northeast Louisiana residents the best shopping around. Whether you’re looking for the latest fashion trends or something outdoors, these local stores and shops have it all.







































Our Local Living nominees offer the best services in Northeast Louisiana. Whether you’re looking for a realtor or need a caterer for your next big party, these businesses are the cream of the crop.









































































































These categories represent some of the best products and people in the area. We love following our finalists on Instagram and always look forward to visiting our local art galleries.






















This floral set, which includes a matching tank and casual shorts, is ideal for summer weather. Whether you’re going glamping or out to lunch with the girls, it’s a perfect choice. Accessorize with a double strand pearl necklace, gold bracelets and rose gold sandals with a little bling.



From relaxed two-piece ensembles to floral dresses, these outfits are primed for their glamping premiere. Discover these essential summer styles at local boutiques.





Dress up your glamping wardrobe with this vintage-inspired paper bag skirt in green and white, featuring a charming tie


waist detail. Paired with
simple white tank from Hemline Monroe.


Layer this teal casual tee with a wide-neck cotton slub jersey tank in a neutral color. Pair these with crinkle plaid smock waist cropped pants – perfect for summer. Accessorize with stackable BuDhaGirl bracelets.


Looking for an elevated look for summer days? This essential t-shirt dress features deep-cut boxy cap sleeves and a slim fit through the hips. It is perfectly paired with Oncept multi-colored trainers and tri-color Aviator sunnies with UV tinted lenses.


Step into a whirlwind of charm and whimsy with this floral dress. The strapless cut and tiered skirt bring playful vibes to your look. Pair with platform raffia heels, a lavender croc minipurse, gold bracelets and a statement necklace for a look that is fit for a posh picnic or night out.


Elevate your comfort and style with this matching pink knit set. The cropped tee is paired with relaxed fit shorts with an elastic waistband for a look that is trendy, yet casual. Accessorize with a “Take It Easy” trucker hat, white crossover bag, and white sneakers.


This vintage-inspired crochet sweater is breezy, relaxed and so comfortable. Wear it with matching lightweight shorts and a simple ribbed tanktop perfect for lake life. Accessorize with these lightweight retro sneakers with a sleek, modern profile and a colorful woven bag.

Miss Louisiana Organization Gathering

On Thursday June 13th, Clinton Downing, owner at Revival Design & Consign, hosted a gathering for friends of the Miss Louisiana Organization following the Preliminary Completion. The party hosted judges, board of directors, pageant directors, and many friends of the current and past Miss Louisianas. Leesa Patterson catered the event, and Logan Crain entertained guests with his musical talent. The night was magical as friends of all ages gathered to celebrate the weekend crowning a new 2024 Miss Louisiana.

On the BayouScene

1 Andrew Hardee, Meghan Olinger, Laynie Roshto, and Danielle Roshto

2 Aubrey Meredith and Emma Brumley

3 Ashley Owens and Genevieve Wetzel

4 Chrissy Gray and Jordan Hollins

5 Dorothy Hoogland, Kellye Hoogland, and Jimmy Hoogland

6 Keith and Charlotte Genter

7 Kelly FIeld, Gretchen Field, Hayden Field, Jamie Hilburn, and Mette Castor

8 Margorie Parker, Noemi Lino, Christy and Christyn Montgomery, Jordan Moore, and Adonica Reed.

9 Melanie Geier and Courtney Wetzel

10 Mickey Douglas and Paige Kaufman

11 Renee Anderson, Bryce Anderson, and Leese Patterson

12 Sheri Stell and Classie Pierre

13 Lisa and Lena Thompson

14 Makenzie Scroggs and Clinton Downing

15 Taylor Michiels and Nirali Patel

16 Tina Powers, Ashlyn Powers, Deanna Little, Julia Claire Williams, Clinton Downing, and Angela LaBuff

17 Mary Poole and Haley Hodge

Max Porter Provisions

A Men’s Mercantile on Antique Alley


Alley, Max Porter Provisions is a destination for men seeking quality goods and unique gift items. Founded by partners Laurie Cochran and Cassie Livingston, this men’s mercantile offers a carefully curated selection of apothecary items, apparel, general store goods, and one-of-a-kind finds. Stepping into Max Porter Provisions is like stepping back in time, with vintage family memorabilia and antique furniture setting the stage for a shopping experience unlike any other.

The store’s name, Max Porter Provisions, holds a special significance, paying homage to Livingston’s father-in-law, Max Livingston, who passed away from leukemia in 2011. It serves as a tribute to a hard-working veteran who dedicated his life to his family and country, embodying the values of integrity, dedication, and family roots that are at the core of this unique establishment.

One of the standout features of Max Porter Provisions is its carefully curated selection of products that cater to the modern man’s lifestyle. From grooming essentials to stylish apparel and accessories, there is something for every discerning shopper. Here are some of the store’s favorite products that have captured the hearts of customers:

Fragrances and Candles by Guy Fox: Indulge your senses with the exquisite scents of Guy Fox’s line of fragrances and candles, perfect for creating a warm and inviting atmosphere in any space. This small-batch fragrance company is on the top of the list.

Supply Grooming Sets: Elevate your grooming routine with Supply’s high-performance grooming sets, including ultra-lather shaving cream and single-edge razors with NickStop technology for a smooth and comfortable shave.

Baseball Caps: Choose from a wide selection of uniquely curated baseball caps that add a touch of style to any outfit, making them a must-have accessory for the modern man.

Camp and Shwood Eyewear: Shield your eyes in style with Camp and Shwood eyewear, offering a great price point and a range of designs to suit every taste.

Turtlebox Outdoor Speakers: Take your outdoor adventures to the next level with Turtlebox, the ultimate outdoor speaker that combines rugged durability with exceptional sound quality.

Men’s Apparel: Explore a diverse range of men’s apparel from renowned brands such as Howler Brothers, The Normal Brand, Flag & Anthem, Criquet Shirts, Duck Camp, and Sendero, each offering quality craftsmanship and timeless style.

Max Porter is also proud to announce the addition of Poncho Outdoors to their inventory. They are the first store outside of Texas to carry the brand.

Gourmet Rubs and Spices: From spectacular sauces to gourmet,the pantry items at Max Porter Provisions are carefully curated and tested by our dedicated staff. One of the standout items is Olive & Sinclair’s duck fat caramels. For those looking to add a burst of flavor to their dishes, Spiceology and BBQ Rubdown seasonings are a must-have. These gourmet rubs are expertly crafted to enhance the natural flavors of your ingredients, whether you’re grilling roasting or sautéing.

With summer upon us, Max Porter Provisions welcomes new arrivals that reflect the latest trends and styles in men’s fashion and lifestyle products. Whether you’re shopping for yourself or looking for the perfect gift for the special men in your life, Max Porter Provisions has something for everyone.

Stay connected with Max Porter Provisions by following them on Facebook and Instagram or visiting their website at maxporterpro. com, where you can explore their full range of products and stay updated on the latest promotions and events.

Max Porter Provisions is more than just a store—it’s a destination where history, style, and quality converge to create a shopping experience that is truly unforgettable. Discover the charm of Max Porter Provisions on Antique Alley and immerse yourself in a world of timeless elegance and sophistication. Max Porter Provisions is located at 206 Trenton Street in West Monroe.

Traveller Whiskey

Easy to drink. Hard not to love.


Stapleton would often head to his front doorstep to find little unmarked bottles of whiskey. He and some band members and friends would convene over Zoom and conduct blind taste tests. Virtual happy hours were a common occurrence at the time, but this one would end up being great experience for a future venture.

Stapleton was born in Lexington, Kentucky and grew up in the small town of Staffordsville. You could say he has always been whiskey adjacent. In 2001, he moved to Nashville to pursue a music career. For more than a decade, he penned songs that became hits for other artists. Tim McGraw, Sheryl Crow, and Adele have all recorded his music. He had published close to 200 songs before he ever had a hit of his own.

The album, Traveller, his debut solo project, was released in May of 2015. With a backing band of powerhouse musicians including West Monroe’s own Derek Mixon on drums, a beautiful and rich sound was born. Stapleton composed the title track, “Traveller,” as he and his wife, Morgane, were driving through New Mexico on their way back to Nashville in a 1979 Jeep she bought for him after his father died in 2013. She helped him sift through 15 years worth of songs to to pick 9 songs to record for the album.

Traveller was a hit. The artist won three awards that year at the Country Music Association Awards: Album of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, and New Artist of the Year. He performed his version of “Tennessee Whiskey,” and Timberlake’s “Drink You Away.” It was a show-stopping, career defining moment. Traveller also won big at the Grammy’s that year. The album took home Album of the Year, Best Country Album, and Best Country Solo Performance.

It makes perfect sense that when the time came to create his own whiskey, Traveller was the chosen name. Traveller Blended Whiskey is a partnership between the singer and Buffalo Trace master distiller Harlen Wheatley. Stapleton says he was approached many times in the past about getting into the celebrity alcohol business, but this was the first that felt like a good fit.

“I’ve had people push me to do the ‘slap your name on the bottle’ kind of thing and I’ve had no real interest,” he said in a Rolling Stone interview. “I wanted it to feel authentic, and beyond that, I just wanted it to be good.” Considering the many songs in his repertoire -

“Whiskey and You,” “Tennessee Whiskey,” and “Whiskey Sunrise,” just to name a few – it is clearly a good match.

Though Stapleton admits he doesn’t drink as much as he used to, a common theme for a person of a certain age with growing responsibilities and time constraints, he still enjoys a quality bourbon or whiskey. He famously has a room in his home with about 200 bottles of bourbon.

Many blends were sampled before deciding which one would ultimately bear his name. Working side by side with Harlen Wheatley, they arrived at the finished product, a whiskey that is sweet at first, has some spice, and finishes strong. Stapleton once again relied on the palates of his tasting buddies: bassist J.T. Cure, engineer Vance Powell, and guitarist Mike Harris, who played in Stapleton’s band before his current role in Old Crow Medicine Show. “We had those tastings and came to the same conclusion that Harlen did: This is the one.”

Next year will mark the 10th anniversary of Traveller, the album. According to Stapleton, he’s already making plans. “We’re working on it. We’re going to do something different,” he told Joseph Hudak of Rolling Stone. While Chris Stapleton prefers to drink his Traveller neat, it also makes a fantastic cocktail. Check out the recipe below for a simple and classic cocktail that goes down as smooth as, well… Tennessee Whiskey.

The Lucky Penny

2 oz. Traveller Whiskey

3/4 oz. Honey (or simple syrup)

3/4 oz. Lemon Juice

Serve over ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with cherry.

Be sure to like Choice Brands on Facebook and follow us on Instagram to keep up with new product releases. Feel free to message us for information on where to find your favorite brands. Find us at and


Spending some time outside in the morning to expose your eyes to sunlight is important for balancing your circadian rhythm and triggering a healthy hormonal balance throughout the day. The sun’s rays powerfully influence the brain’s hormonal control center, but that isn’t the only health benefit to stepping outside every morning; the background music provided by the birds also plays a role in supporting the functioning of your body all day long.

Birds sing their songs to attract mates, defend their territories, and even for the simple pleasure of it. Unbeknownst to these delicate little feathered creatures, their melodies not only relay messages to other birds, but they also communicate powerful signals to the world around them.

When plants are exposed to the melodies of bird song, it causes them to vibrate, which triggers their stomata to open. Stomata are tiny openings that appear on leaves in the thousands, and they act as gates. When they open, they allow the plant to take in carbon dioxide. The stomata are essentially “mouths” on the plants that allow them to breathe. When these mouths are open, however, it makes the plant more vulnerable by exposing its insides to the elements and allowing moisture from within the plant to evaporate. Knowing when to open the stomata and when to close them is important for the plant’s survival. Light, temperature and humidity are all signals the plant uses for controlling the opening of their stomata,

but the frequency of bird song is a signal of safety that can coax them open, too.

Hearing birdsong has a profound impact on your body’s functioning by sending a signal of safety to you, too. The harmonies sung by birds influences your autonomic nervous system to shift into a parasympathetic state. Your autonomic nervous system, or ANS, is responsible for controlling all of the functions in your body that are happening below the level of your conscious awareness. Your digestion, immune function, and hormone secretion are examples of functions that are driven by your ANS.

The ANS has two branches; the sympathetic side and parasympathetic side. When the ANS senses a threat of any kind, it shifts into a sympathetic, or stress state. This down regulates functions that aren’t necessary for immediate survival in order to conserve energy for the fight or flight response. Digestive function, immune function, hormone production, even memory and cognition can all be down regulated in order to save energy for escaping the perceived threat, whatever it may be. In contrast, when the ANS moves back into a parasympathetic state, energy shifts back to supporting the healthy functioning of all of those internal systems. In order for healing, growth, and recovery to take place in the body the ANS has to be in a parasympathetic state, which is triggered by a sense of safety. When the ANS remains in a heightened sympathetic state for extended

periods of time (known as chronic stress), this causes the body to slowly break down and chronic disease can eventually set in.

How does hearing the melody sung by birds move your nervous system from a stimulated sympathetic state into a healing parasympathetic state? The answer to this lies in your ancient history. Birds are keenly attuned to their environments and sing only when their environment is free of danger. Your early ancestors knew this and understood the melodic chirping of birds as a sign that the environment was free of predators. To them it was a sign of peace and safety that triggered their nervous systems to relax. You also evolved subconsciously knowing this signal and your nervous system still responds in this way today.

Another evolutionary influence on this phenomenon may have to do with the fact that you have a genetically built-in preference for nature. Since your ancestors spent thousands of years living in the great outdoors, you likely evolved to have a keen sense of environments that are suitable for survival. Outdoor areas with abundant resources such as water, plants, and animals were attractive to your ancestors because they were more likely to support their survival.

Hearing birdsong was an indicator that life was present there, which implied the potential for their own survival, as well. This is another possible reason that hearing birds singing can bring a sense of safety to your nervous system today.

Birds sing their songs to attract mates, defend their territories, and even for the simple pleasure of it. Unbeknownst to these delicate little feathered creatures, their melodies not only relay messages to other birds, but they also communicate powerful signals to the world around them.

The melodies of birds not only has a direct impact on your nervous system, but it may also positively influence your mental health. Research done at King’s College in London found that seeing or hearing birds is associated with improvements in mental wellbeing that can last for up to 8 hours. Another study, published in Scientific Reports, found that listening to birdsong alleviated anxiety and paranoia in healthy participants. Researchers in yet another study saw improvements in mood, cognition, and stress reduction in its participants after they listened to birdsong, while traffic sounds worsened wellbeing in those areas. Studies like these have inspired researchers to begin exploring the impact of playing recordings of birds and other nature sounds in hospitals and mental health facilities to decrease stress and improve healing among patients.

One of the most important things you can provide for your body to support long term physical and mental health is a sense of safety. When the nervous system senses safety, internal bodily functions necessary for health are supported, and growth and healing are promoted. Healing simply won’t happen in a body that’s controlled by a nervous system “stuck” in a sympathetic state.

Many of the wellness tips you likely already know help to signal safety to the nervous system and move the body into a healing state; consistently balanced nutrition, blood sugar regulation, consistent sleep and movement routines, regular meditation, daily morning sun exposure, etc. For some, many of these habits can be difficult to implement regularly, but now you know of one healthy habit that may be the simplest, most pleasant to incorporate; step outside or open a window and just listen. Let the birds sing your nervous system to safety and your body into a healing state.

Memorial Golf Tournament

On May 24th the Wellspring kicked off the Memorial Golf Tournament located at the Frenchman’s Bend Country Club in which they were a partner, as well as the title sponsor, Forth Insurance. The event was a great way to start the weekend. Food was catered outside on the green by Catfish Cabin, and inside was a variety of silent auction items to browse as well as a split the pot. Later that night a Calcutta was hosted inside for all the participants. The entire weekend was full of sunshine and golfing, all for a great cause!

On the BayouScene

1 Chris Horrell and Gavin Horrell

2 Larry Ballew and Robert Sims

3 Charles and Charlotte Jackson & Mary Baker

4 Diana White and Susan Garrett

5 Fred and Kay Terasa

6 Kendra and Brad Hough

7 Shelby and Reagan Sims

8 Diedra and Russell Lohman, Brett and Rachel Mooneen

9 Rachel Niblett, Robyn Johnson, Christy Gwin, Caroline Cascio, and Valerie Bowman

Spa Nouvelle Ribbon Cutting

Spa Nouvelle celebrated the grand opening of their new location at 1813 Roselawn Avenue with a lively ribbon-cutting event. The ceremony marked a significant milestone for the spa, which has become a beloved sanctuary for relaxation and rejuvenation in the community.

Staff proudly cut the ribbon and celebrated their new location with friends, family and clients. This moment symbolized the beginning of a new chapter for Spa Nouvelle and its commitment to providing exceptional wellness services.

Throughout the event, guests had the opportunity to tour the new facility. They admired the modern, elegant décor and state-ofthe-art treatment rooms designed to offer the ultimate in comfort and relaxation. Spa Nouvelle showcased their extensive menu of services, from luxurious massages to revitalizing facials, emphasizing their dedication to well-being.

On the BayouScene

1 Alyssa Vanlandingham and Drew Farr

2 Drew Farr and Margaret Barker

3 Mary Beth Dickerson and Sandra Bishop

4 Jan Nelson, Patrica Watt, and Ana Hale

5 Kylie Flowers, Mary Beth Dickerson, and McKenzie Dent

6 Luke Hodnett

7 McKenzie Dent, Alyssa Vanlandingham, Kylie Flowers, and Holly Bell

8 Sara Brewer, Wendy Newsom, Drew Farr, Mary Beth Dickerson, and Ana Hale

Celtic Festival Fundraiser

Whiskey and Spirits Tasting Fundraiser to Support the 2024 Celtic Festival

THE KIROLI FOUNDATION AND CHOICE BRANDS WILL present a Whiskey and Spirits Tasting fundraiser event to support the 2024 Northeast Louisiana Celtic Festival. The event will take place on July 11 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Kiroli Park Lodge. Funds raised will support the enhancement of festival programming and entertainment.

Tickets are available now and can be purchased online through the West Monroe Chamber at the following link: https://www. Tickets are $50 each. Attendees must be 21 years of age or older.

The fundraiser will feature a curated selection of premium whiskeys and spirits provided by Choice Brands complemented by heavy hors d’oeuvres. Sampling includes brands such as Glass Manor, Drumbyrne, Buffalo Trace, San Matias, Romano, Gunness and more. Attendees will enjoy live entertainment from the Riverboat Ramblers bluegrass band.

“We’re thrilled to host this event in support of the Northeast Louisiana Celtic Festival,” said Adrienne LaFrance-Wells, event organizer. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for the community to come together, indulge in exquisite spirits and hors d’oeuvres, and enjoy great music, all while contributing to a festival that celebrates our rich heritage. Let’s raise our glasses together to another successful Celtic Fest!”

The Northeast Louisiana Celtic Festival is the longest-running festival still in existence in the Ouachita Parish area. The festival seeks to preserve the rich Celtic heritage, traditions, and lore of Northeast Louisiana. The event celebrates Celtic culture through music, dance, food, the Highland games, children’s activities, and demonstrations.

For more information about the fundraiser event or the festival, please visit the Northeast Louisiana Celtic Festival Facebook page at

Calendar of Events

For a full list of event happenings in Northeast Louisiana, see our website at

Through October 19

The River is the Road- Paintings by George Rodrigue

Famous for his Blue Dog paintings, Louisiana Artist George Rodrigue's world-renowned pieces will be on exhibition at the Masur Museum of Art. See Rodrigue's works depicting an old-world style Louisiana that has captured the attention of art lovers all over the world.

Hours: Tuesday-Friday 9:00 AM-5:00

PM; Saturday 12:00 PM-5:00 PM

Cost: Free

Venue: Masur Museum of Art | 1400 S Grand St.Monroe

Phone: (318) 329-2237

July 2, 4, 9, 11, 16, 18, 23, 25, & 30

Hip Hop Cardio with Hot Moy Fitness

The City of Monroe will host hip hop cardio classes at the Johnson Community Center! Each class is $5.00 and will be at the Johnson Community Center every Tuesday & Thursday at 6:00 pm.

Hours: 6:00 PM -8:00 PM

Cost: $5

Venue: Johnson Community Center | 2800 Burg Jones Lane, Monroe Phone: 318-329-2448

July 3, 10, 17, 24, 31

Meditation in the Garden

In this one-hour session, Martha Elizabeth Hess will guide you through a Qigong warm-up, a relevant reading, guided sitting meditation, and walking meditation. Open to all levels, bring a yoga mat, blanket, or cushion. Pre-registration appreciated, drop-ins welcome. Find peace and community in the heart of the garden.

Hours: 9:00 AM -10:00 AM

Cost: $15

Venue: Biedenharn Museum & Gardens | 2006 Riverside Drive, Monroe

Phone: (318) 387-5281

July 4, 11, 18, & 25

Pickleball Nights

The West Monroe Sports & Events Center will be hosting pickleball nights every Thursday from June 13thAugust 1st. Registration for walk-ins is $5.00 per person. Whether you're a pro or a beginner, come out and

practice your pickleball skills!

Hours: 6:00 PM-8:00 PM

Cost: $5

Venue: West Monroe Sports & Events | 875 Constitution Drive, West Monroe Phone: (318) 397-3232

July 5

Out to Lunch at the Biedenharn Grab lunch from a local food truck & explore our latest exhibits.

Hours: 11:00 AM-2:00 PM

Cost: $5 entry

Venue: Biedenharn Museum and Gardens | 2006 Riverside Drive, Monroe Phone: (318) 387-5281

July 5

Monroe & West Monroe July 4th Celebration • Downtown West Monroe 4th of July Celebration

Celebrate America's independence in Downtown West Monroe all day long on July 5th! Starting at 11:00 am, they will have food trucks, a kids play area from 4:00 pm-8:30 pm, live music from Monty Russell from 7:00 pm-9:00 pm, and the closing fireworks show at 9:00 pm. Bring the whole family for a day full of fun in downtown!

Hours: 11:00 AM-9:00 PM

Cost: Free to attend

Venue: Downtown West Monroe | Trenton Street, West Monroe

• Downtown Monroe 3rd Annual

Block Party

Join in the fun with a block part at The Good Daze from 5:00 PM-9:00 PM, Downtown Pub Crawl from 5:00 PM-9:00 PM, Firecracker 5k at 6:00 PM, Creative Convos with the Black Creatives Circle at 7:00 PM, and Downtown Block Party from 7:00 PM9:00 PM. Followed by the fireworks show at 9:00 PM!

Hours: 5:00 PM-9:00 PM

Cost: Free to attend

Venue: Downtown Monroe | Desiard & South Grand Streets, Monroe

• July Celebration Fireworks

The annual firework show will take place on Friday, July 5th at 9:00 pm. The fireworks are shot from the Endom Bridge over the Ouachita River

and are best viewed from Downtown West Monroe, Downtown Monroe, or the West Monroe levee. End the night with a bang!

Hours: 9:00 PM

Cost: Free to attend

Venue: Downtown Monroe & West

Monroe | 202 South Grand Street & South Riverfront Street, Monroe and West Monroe

July 5-7

Big Creek Trade Days

Shop local vendors for unique items, enjoy live music, and delicious food trucks.

Hours: 9am-5pm

Cost: $5 per car to enter

Venue: 327 California Plant Rd, Dubach, LA 71235

Phone: 318-680-1304

July 6, 13, 20, 27

Ruston Farmers Market

Enjoy local produce and handmade products at this farmers market downtown.

Hours: 9am-1pm

Venue: 220 E Mississippi Ave, Ruston, LA 71270

Phone: 318-957-1305

July 6

First Saturday Brunch at Courtyard on Cotton

Join Courtyard on Cotton for their first Saturday brunch featuring Suffit! Reservations are not required and takeout options are available.

Hours: 10:00 AM -1:00 PM

Cost: Prices vary.

Venue: Courtyard on Cotton | 102 Cotton Street, West Monroe

Phone: (318) 348-6045

July 6

Roe City Roller Derby Home Game Don’t miss the Roller Derby Action! The Roe City Rollers will be going head-to-head with Mobile Bay Roller Derby at 4pm. Jackson Roller Derby will take on the Capital Defenders out of Baton Rouge starting at 6pm. Doors open at 3pm.

Hours: 3:00 PM-9:00 PM

Cost: Trackside-$20; Gen Admission-$15

Venue: Monroe Civic Center | 401 Lea Joyner Memorial ExpresswayMonroe

Venue: Creatives at Work, 112 W Alabama Ave, Ruston, LA 71270

July 10, 24

Dog Days of Summer

Special event during Louisiana Tech Orientation with cheerleaders, band, and more!

Venue: Railroad Park, Ruston, LA 71270

Phone: 318-251-8647

July 11

Movie Night in the Garden

Join The Biedenharn Museum & Gardens for their summer "Movie in the Garden" Series in the ElSong Gardens. Bring your own chair or blanket & indulge in tasty food from local food trucks!

This month enjoy a little Christmas in July with "Elf".

Hours: 7:00 PM-10:00 PM

Cost: $10

Venue: Biedenharn Museum & Gardens | 2006 Riverside Drrive, Monroe Phone: (318) 387-5281

July 11

Northeast Louisiana Celtic Festival Whiskey & Spirits Tasting

Join the Celtic Festival for an evening of flavor and fun at a Whiskey and Spirits Tasting! Enjoy fine spirits, heavy hors d’ouevres, and live music—all while supporting the 2024 Celtic Fest. Every ticket purchased helps keep our festival traditions alive and thriving. Choice Brands will feature brands such as Glass Manor, Drumbyrne, Buffalo Trace, San Matias, Romano, Guinness, and more. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to indulge in premium spirits and make a positive difference to the fest! Sláinte! Must have a valid ID and be 21 and older to attend.

Hours: 6:00 PM-8:00 PM

Cost: $50

Venue: Kiroli Park Lodge | 820 Kiroli Road, West Monroe

July 16

Biedenharn Craft Circle

July 8, 22

Creative Meetups

Gather with fellow artists to share ideas, techniques, and stories as you create art.

Hours: 6pm-9pm

Join creative minds, local crafters, and artists at the Biedenharn's Craft Circle every third Tuesday of the month. Bring your own projects, help each other out, encourage creativity, and enjoy community discussions! Park in the Coke Museum parking lot on Speed Street and meet in the Education Building entrance (on the right as you approach the Coke Museum).

Hours: 6:00 PM -8:00 PM

Venue: Museum and Gardens | 2006

Riverside Drive, Monroe

Phone: (318) 387-5281

July 15-17

DBB 15U World Series

The Dixie Boys Baseball 2024 World Series for the 15U Division will be held July 17-19, 2024. This event will take place at the Sterlington Sports Complex.

Venue: Sterlington Sports Complex | 1290 LA-136, Sterlington

July 18-21

RCT Presents: Fiddler on the Roof

Enjoy this Ruston Community Theatre production of the classic: Fiddler on the Roof.

Hours: Thursday-Saturday 7pm, Sunday 2pm

Cost: Varying ticket prices

Venue: Dixie Center for the Arts, 212 N. Vienna St. Ruston, LA 71270

Phone: 318-255-1450

July 20

Broaden Horizons Pickleball Tournament

Join Broaden Horizens for their 2024 Pickleball Tournament as they raise funds for After-School Summer Camp! Register to play beginner, intermediate, or experienced "Round Robin" games in either men's, women's, or mixed doubles from 8AM-12PM.

Hours: 8:00 AM-1:00 PM

Cost: $35

Venue: West Monroe Sports & Events | 875 Constitution Drive, West Monroe Phone: (318) 322-4804

July 20

Lemonade Stand Day

Join Miracles to Milestones for their Lemonade Stand Day fundraiser! This event will help raise money for the Forsythe Park all inclusive playground project.

Hours: 9:00 AM-2:00 PM

Venue: Forsythe Park | 2300 Sycamore Street, Monroe Phone: 504-710-6620

July 24

Drum Corps International Monroe DCI Monroe is an exciting performance by several World-Class Drum Corps ensembles in Malone Stadium on the campus of ULM. These musical performing ensembles are touring and competing across the United States. Students ages 17-22 spend countless hours perfecting exciting artistic performances to

"wow" audiences of all ages!

Hours: 8:00 PM-10:00 PM

Cost: $28-$34

Venue: Malone Stadium | 514 Warhawk Way, Monroe Phone: (318) 342-1580

July 26

Dauzat St. Marie

Musical duo known for their lockstep vocal harmonies and catchy songwriting.

Hours: 7pm-8:30pm

Cost: reserved - $35, day of show$40

Venue: Dixie Center for the Arts, 212 N. Vienna St. Ruston, LA 71270

Phone: 318-255-1450

July 26-31

Dixie Youth Softball State Tournament

The Dixie Youth Softball State Tournament for Sweetees, Traditional World Series, X-Play Sweetees World Series, Angels World Series, and the Ponytails World Series. Divisions are competing from July 27-31 at the Ouachita Sportsplex. Support the teams as they compete!

Venue: Ouachita Sportsplex | 710 Holland Drive, Monroe Phone: (318) 345-0040

July 26

Ouachita Live featuring Dylan Leblanc

This concert features Dylan Leblanc, singer-songwriter. Ouachita Live is a free downtown concert held the last Friday of the month from March through October in Alley Park. Remember to bring your own chair! A food truck, beer, and wine will be on-site. Come shop downtown before the show!

Hours: 7:00 PM-9:00 PM

Cost: Free to attend

Venue: Alley Park | Natchitoches Street, West Monroe

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