Edge of the Lake Magazine October | November 2020

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Oct ober 29 through November 1, 2020 Sta rt yo u r stro ll at th e So uther n H o tel w i th cha m pa g ne, s h o p o u r f abu lo u s aw a rd w i nni ng vendo r s fro m a ro und th e c o u n tr y an d N ew O rl ea ns at o ur PO P-UP!

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I took a break from the process of going to press and drove out to Lacombe to drop off some donations at Bayou Adventures for the Hurricane Laura relief, as well as to grab one of their fresh and delicious fish sandwiches. As I drove back along the Lakefront, I saw businesses and residents preparing for Hurricane Sally. Places like The Lakehouse and Don’z were bound to flood if everything stayed on track. They have only just cleared up from the last storm, but they take it in stride: preparing, flooding, cleaning up and re-opening. It reminded me of the famous World War II slogan, ‘Keep Calm and Carry On.’ The resilience and compassion of the Northshore is impressive. When tragedy strikes people come together and help. Even with the threat of a hurricane looming, people are still helping our neighbors to our west. We carry on, and so here is our fall issue. We meet artist and teacher Gretchen Armbruster, learn about a new program from You Night called ScArt. We also hear about a wonderful program from Hope House called Bikers Against Child Abuse. Voting for our 2021 Readers’ Choice will start on November 1st. Be sure to go to edgeofthelake.com to vote. Thank you to everyone who has nominated people in our Forty under 40; the results will be in our December issue. Stay well, stay strong and keep calm and carry on.


PUBLISHER Sarah Cottrell EDITOR Elle Driver ART DIRECTOR Erich Belk STYLE DIRECTOR Patty Beal BEAUTY EDITOR Caitlin Picou COPY EDITOR Mary-Brent Brown CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Ron Barthet Sarah Bonnette Chris Masingill Liz Smith STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Jerry Cottrell CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Christy Ryan Joel Treadwell SENIOR SALES EXECUTIVES Eloise Cottrell ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Rebecca Blossman-Ferran Erin Bolton Jamie Dakin Debi Menasco Cathy Potts Stephanie Miller

ON THE COVER Gretchen Armbruster

The entire contents of this magazine are copyrighted by EDGE Publishing. @ 2020 with all rights reserved. Reproduction or use without permission of editorial or graphic content in any manner is prohibited. Please email comments or story ideas to edgepublisher@yahoo.com. EDGE PUBLISHING • 69170 HWY 190 SERVICE RD. SUITE 1 COVINGTON, LA 70433 • 985.867.5990
















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Gretchen Armbruster



n the middle of a stormy summer afternoon, artist Gretchen Armbruster stood in her brightly lit studio on Covington’s N. Columbia Street, showing one of her students a technique for the beach scene he was painting. On his way out the door, that student, A.J. Englande, praised Armbruster’s superiority as an art teacher. “When I was in college, I had a mentor who said ‘always study with the best’. And here I am,” he said. It’s a sentiment shared by the many students who have learned to paint under Armbruster’s instruction since she opened Armbruster Artworks School more than 11 years ago. Although some students don’t attend every month, Armbruster teaches more than 150 budding, intermediate and accomplished artists in her studio, where the walls are filled with their pieces. Artists like Bill Stewart, who had never picked up a paintbrush until he arrived there in 2016. He counts Armbruster as one of the three angels – along with his brother-in-law and sister – who helped him recover from a debilitating stroke he’d suffered in 2015. “With Gretchen, it was absolutely healing through art. She introduced me to a world that was just unbelievable to me,” said Stewart, who learned to paint with his non-dominant hand and has gone on to exhibit his artwork in two exhibitions presented by the St. Tammany Health System’s Healing Arts Initiative.


EDGE October | November 2020

“There is not a class that goes by that I do not learn,” Stewart said, adding that learning from Armbruster comes not just from his one-on-one interactions with his instructor, but also because “I listen to what she’s telling others as well.” That includes lessons on composition, palette, perspective and more as Armbruster works with students ranging from artists with years of experience to those beginners just learning how to hold a paintbrush, Stewart said. “What she does as a teacher is she gives you very specific direction in ways that you can manage it,” he added. Yet, Armbruster didn’t set out to be a professional art teacher. When the 2008 recession resulted in decreased art sales in the galleries where she exhibited, Armbruster turned to teaching to supplement her income. “I just loved it,” she said, adding that one of the best parts is watching her students grow from beginners into accomplished artists. Some “have come in with hardly any knowledge at all and have just really excelled,” she said. Armbruster first taught classes from the garage of her former Mandeville home. Three years later, she moved the school to a studio space on N. Vermont Street in Covington. She opened her current studio and gallery five years ago.

For Armbruster, the location “has been wonderful” because it puts her and her students in the heart of Covington’s cultural events, such as Spring for Art and Fall for Art, Covington’s White Linen Night for Public Art and Three Rivers Art Festival. During each event, the space becomes a lively hub, where art lovers socialize and scoop up artworks from her students. “They love that, because it makes you feel good when somebody loves your painting,” said Armbruster, who also exhibits pieces from local artists such as Marcia Holmes, Cynthia Webb, Robert Labranche, Ben Bensen, Mary Helen Seago, Charles Rudolph and others. Yet the space sat empty for two months this spring during the state-mandated shutdowns aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. During that time, Armbruster moved her teaching online, creating tutorial videos for her students and others who wanted to paint at home. She was pleasantly surprised by the number of students who returned when she reopened the school in May. “Everybody was so ready to get back and have something normal in their life again, so the classes filled up immediately,” she said. It’s a testament to Armbruster’s commitment to her students, whom she also counts as friends, and with whom she enjoys sharing meals and taking art trips to places such as Florida’s beaches or North Carolina’s mountains. EDGE October | November 2020


“Most people don’t know they have a talent for art,” she said. “They come after they’ve retired. They’ve always wanted to do it; they have a desire. Usually I find when you have a desire, you probably have a talent. And some people come because it’s relaxation; it’s therapy. And then they find out they have a talent.” Armbruster brings her drive and passion not just to teaching art, but also to the paintings she creates with oil, watercolor and pencil. She depicts Mardi Gras and other festivities, French Quarter scenes, Louisiana landscapes and beautiful still-life subjects. She is known for her portraits. “If I keep doing different things, then I can teach different things. I don’t like to paint the same thing over and over again,” she said, adding that her preferred medium is oil. “It’s just the old way of doing it,” she said of using oils. “It’s more forgiving that acrylic. I love watercolor also. That’s the most difficult.”

Armbruster Artworks School 509 N. Columbia Street armbrusterartworks.com 985.630.6295


EDGE October | November 2020

No matter the subject or medium, each of Armbruster’s pieces is infused with a quality of light that makes her work immediately recognizable. “Nothing looks bright and vibrant in a picture unless it’s framed by something that’s not. It looks that way by contrast,” she said, seated at one of the long tables where her students work. “When I’m doing a landscape, I like to pick times of the day like early morning or late afternoon where the light is interesting. It’s just better than the light coming from one side or another,” she added. “Or I find subjects that are lit in an interesting way.” The study and creation of art has been part of the south Louisiana native’s life from an early age. At 8 years old, her parents enrolled her in private classes, after a teacher told them to “please put this child in art lessons; she scribbles on everything,” Armbruster said, adding that her parents “loved that I loved to paint.” She has been painting and drawing professionally since she was 12 years old, the first time she sold a piece at an art show. She attended the John McCrady School of Fine and Applied Arts in the French Quarter during summers in her high school years. “I had great teachers,” she said of her studies with artists David Robert Rossbach, Alan Flattmann, David Jinks and others. Armbruster also studied art at LSU,

and after graduation, continued her studies at the McCrady School and the New Orleans Art Institute. “You have to learn the basics first, but when you can kind of manipulate your paintings to do what you want them to do, then you start to have a feel for what’s interesting and what’s not,” she said. One of her latest, light-filled pieces is the poster art for the 2020 Covington Three Rivers Art Festival. The 30-by40 inch oil painting – which is entitled “Create Love” and has been purchased by a private collector – depicts a group of four smiling children who have painted a stone wall with a special message: “Create Love.” The painting is meant to “show a sense of community and coming together . . . and the innocence of children,” Armbruster said. “I wanted to incorporate art into it too since it’s an art festival so I had them do the painting. The ‘Create Love’ was just about children and how art is all about kindness. It just gives you a good feeling.” It also symbolizes the graffiti wall presented as part of the various children’s activities at each festival. “This wall brings children of all ages and backgrounds together to create something beautiful,” said Sarada Bonnett, the festival’s coordinator.

“When everything happened with COVID, we really felt that art was a way to bring people together and that bringing children from all different walks of life and putting them together in a painting was a way to say ‘art brings peace’,” Bonnett added. The Three Rivers Art Festival poster is the latest in Armbruster’s long list of artistic contributions to her community. Numerous commissions hang in local businesses, restaurants and hospitals, including the St. Tammany Health System. Her notable works include the 2004 to 2006 posters for the Crescent City Classic and the 2010 Lombardi poster, as well as 12 years of creating annual Krewe of Bacchus pieces. Her paintings of horses have been featured in “American Art Collector,” a national publication. She created a 24-by30 inch oil painting, entitled “Riding High,” to be featured on the poster for the 2013 Junior League of Greater Covington’s Harvest Polo Classic. Horses, she said in an interview at the time, “are beautiful creatures . . . Their bodies are all muscle; the trick is capturing that.” She, her students and the studio’s exhibiting artists came together in 2018 to produce “The Starving Artist Cookbook,” an idea born on one of their art trips. “We

wanted to do something that would raise money for a charity, and we came up with that idea because it would include our paintings and local artists, too,” Armbruster said. In the colorful hardcover cookbook, each featured artist contributed a favorite family recipe and a favorite painting. Its successful sales raised more than $8,000 for the Covington Boys & Girls Club, which used the funds to purchase new computers for its N. Columbia Street location. Files for the cookbook have been given to the nonprofit, which can reproduce it to sell nationally. Armbruster also has been instrumental in seeing her students become successful artists in their own right. First, she encouraged a group of female students – who dubbed themselves as the “Oh La Las” – to sell their pieces. “It started with the people who have been here a long time. They were saying they had quite a collection of paintings that they’ve been doing and wanted to sell them,” Armbruster said in a 2014 interview. “They help each other with the pictures, and they give each other encouragement. If someone is finished with their picture, everyone ‘oh la las’ over (it).” Late last year, she developed an exhibition of artwork by her male students and other local male artists of note. Entitled “La Hommes,” the dozens of two- and three-dimensional works were on display during January and February at Christwood’s Atrium Gallery. Armbruster got the idea for the show after seeing how art impacts her male students’ lives. Among them are improving hand-eye coordination, keeping the mind sharp, and the confidence gained from creating something


EDGE October | November 2020

beautiful that is also appreciated by others. “I’ve found that men more often than not come to art for different reasons, and a lot of times, it’s later in life. Some of them come for the healing aspect of it. Some come because they’ve always wanted to, but they were running businesses or working or raising families, things like that,” she said. “Many, finding themselves in front of a canvas — some for the first time – realized they had talent and had found a new and exciting love,” she added. Armbruster’s constant stream of community contributions, along with her talent as a “Three Rivers caliber artist” and her studio’s location along the festival route, are part of why she was selected as this year’s poster artist, Bonnett said. The poster – along with T-shirts and bags bearing the artwork – will be available for purchase at participating

downtown Covington businesses. For a list of purchase locations, visit the festival’s Facebook page: https://www. facebook.com/Threeriversart/. In July, the Three Rivers board of directors made the decision to cancel the in-person event this year because of the “ongoing challenges of our state and because we bring artists from across the nation,” they announced online, stating the next live event will take place Nov. 13 - 14, 2021. Yet, Three Rivers organizers have plans to hold a virtual festival, Bonnett said, with some of what would have been the 200 artists exhibiting artwork via a live stream on the festival’s Facebook page. “We’re going to have artists every hour, basically like you’re walking down Columbia Street from block 200 all the way down to block 600,” she said.

EDGE October | November 2020



Mike Cooper St. Tammany Parish President

Randy Smith St. Tammany Sheriff


Passive Flood Protection from Cutting Edge Innovation The 2020 Hurricane Season is still underway, and as we all know our neighbors to the west are still contending with the aftermath of Hurricane Laura. St. Tammany Parish Government works each and every day to improve drainage, upgrade stormwater retention mechanisms, and mitigate flooding during hurricane season as well as throughout the year. The protection of life and property during a weather event is our goal with every flood mitigation measure we put into place. I am proud to say that an innovative, cutting-edge flood protection tool — the FloodBreak Automatic Floodgate Mitigation System — the first of its kind in Louisiana to be installed in a residential area — was recently completed in the Slidell area. With the installation of this gate, the gap in the levee system surrounding the Fox Hollow Subdivision will now be closed during a flood event, thereby protecting the 1500-plus residents who reside within it. This system requires no manpower to operate, and is automatically activated by flood waters which cause the gate to rise and protect the area where the gate is installed. As the flood waters recede, the gate recedes as well. Again, no manpower is required to operate the system. When not activated, the gate lies underground, flush with the roadway, and residents simply drive over it. It is touted as a “passive, automatic flood barrier system that provides permanent and virtually invisible flood protection without human intervention or power.” The completion of this project will give the residents of Fox Hollow additional flood protection with the most innovative technology available, as well as additional peace of mind. This project could not have been completed without the advocacy of St. Tammany Parish Councilman T.J. Smith, members of St. Tammany Drainage District #4, and long-time residents. This gate demonstrates the way St. Tammany Parish Government works to implement infrastructure improvements that employ the latest technology and create long-lasting, cost-effective, impactful protection for our citizens for generations to come.

The residents of our state have been through a lot in the last six months – first a pandemic and then a major hurricane. Thankfully, St. Tammany Parish was spared the brunt of Hurricane Laura, but our neighbors to our west were not so lucky. Many of us in St. Tammany know what it means to start over following a destructive hurricane. As we recognize the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, our hearts go out to the residents in Southwest Louisiana, who are in the early stages of what we know is going to be a hard and long recovery. I am proud of how many of our residents, churches and local clubs have come forward to help the people affected by Hurricane Laura, but at the same time, please do not let your guard down. We are still very much in hurricane season. Please remain prepared and always listen to the recommendations of our local and state leaders. It is better to be prepared and the storm to fizzle out like Hurricane Marco than to not be prepared and have a storm hit us like Hurricane Laura or Hurricane Katrina. I am also proud of our residents for the way they have shown patience and understanding as we all learn together how to live during a world-wide pandemic. Schools are starting, and I know that Covid-19 is adding extra stress for parents, teachers and administrators. I ask that everyone continue to be patient and understanding during this trying and unprecedented time. As with the start of every school year, I remind motorist to be extra careful, especially during the morning and afternoon times when children are waiting at bus stops and walking to and from schools. Our local children have had a long summer, but for many of them it has been a long summer away from their friends. They are excited, they are full of energy and they are also learning to adapt during this time. Please abide by speed limits, stop for school buses and crosswalks and watch for children who may be distracted. It has been a very different year for all of us and we have all learned to adapt, but we are a resilient community and we are a strong state, and these challenges, like Hurricane Katrina 15 years ago, will only make us stronger.

EDGE October | November 2020


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FAVORITE It’s time to let us know what you LOVE about living on the Northshore from Artists to Restaurants to Yoga.... Go to EDGEOFTHELAKE.COM to vote and we will announce the winners in our February/March issue. VOTING TAKES PLACE November 1st - December 4th For our readers in Tangipahoa Parish please go to our sister publication, Tangi Lifestyles and vote at Tangilifestyles.com.

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ravelers arriving by boat from New Orleans during the early years of the 20th century had a choice. They could land at Madisonville and ride over dusty roads to Covington and Abita Springs, or they could land in Mandeville and hop aboard a motorized street car on the Mandeville wharf and enjoy a ride with breezes wafting through pine forest on their way to the hotels and resorts of Abita Springs and Covington. The trolley motor car ran between Covington and Mandeville through Abita Springs between 1909 and 1918. According to historian Dr. Karl Koenig, it was called the “Doodlebug.” When the trolley reached Mandeville, the trolley track ran right onto a pier off the lakefront so passengers getting off of a Lake Pontchartrain steamer could jump right on board the trolley without ever stepping on land. At the Mandeville Trailhead Museum there is an exhibit diorama showing the New Camelia steamboat docked at the lakefront pier built for the trolley, and another showing one of the trolley motor cars moving along the tracks on the pier. People living in Covington and Abita Springs also enjoyed weekend “excursions” to the lake on the trolley, and some groups rented it for private parties.


EDGE October | November 2020

M and e v i l l e T r ol l e y (1909-1918)

Dr. Koenig extensively quotes Philip Burns, a longtime resident of Covington, “The motor car ran several trips a day to meet the boats that landed in Mandeville. It was a very pleasant outing for young people. It was a good way to spend an hour and a half with your girl and enjoy the good music and the people on the excursion.” A round trip from Covington to Mandeville was 25 cents for adults and 10 cents for children under 14. The 13.9 mile track made it almost twice as long as the famed St. Charles Avenue streetcar line in New Orleans. There was a car barn for the storage and repair of the trolley cars on Coffee Street in Mandeville about half a block from the lake. For the first several years, the trolley was powered by a gasoline engine, but in 1915 it was upgraded to an electric system when overhead power lines were installed. The change was commended because it make the trolley cleaner, quieter and more reliable. Residents hoped that another stretch of track would extend trolley service to Madisonville as well, but before that could happen, the trolley motor line went into receivership on June 24, 1918, and it was sold to a St. Louis, Missouri company for $86,000. EDGE October | November 2020


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EDGE October | November 2020



Clay Madden City of Mandeville Mayor

August 28th was not only the date of my inauguration as mayor, it also was the beginning of a new day for the City of Mandeville. I am very fortunate and humbled that I have the privilege of going to work every day where my job is caring for each of our citizens in this great city. While the title of “mayor” comes with authority, that authority is not mine; it belongs to our citizens to be exercised on their behalf and for their benefit. Speaking with so many people during my campaign has reinforced my beliefs about the values and priorities of our citizens. “Lead By Listening” will be a tenet of my new administration. During the coming weeks, I will be speaking with each of our valued employees to learn more about them and their roles in City government. Many of our employees have devoted their entire careers to serving our city. One of my goals is to be sure every employee is appreciated, respected and cared for. I will proudly work beside them. We are a team. Another important component of our team is the City Council. I am fostering open and frequent communications with each council member. Having served as a city council member myself, I have a keen appreciation for developing an open, transparent relationship with this group of dedicated individuals. We will work collaboratively to move our city forward and always put our citizens’ interests first. My door will be open to all citizens. I will answer and return your calls. We can only improve as a city if we listen to everyone and our citizens participate in our government processes. Finally, I would like to thank our citizens and businesses for your patience during the pandemic. Thank you also for your patience during this last marathon city election. We are now ready to serve you. It is a new day in Mandeville!!

In 2020, Tangipahoa Parish Government’s Litter Abatement program and Animal Control have found creative ways to accelerate their work, even in the midst of COVID-19. Tangipahoa’s Litter Abatement program was gaining momentum right as the shutdown began. In addition to our educational programs in schools and litter clean-up events, this year Tangipahoa became the first parish in the state to utilize a “Litter Gitter.” This device skims our waterways, to trap floating litter. Through our partnership with the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation and several grant opportunities, we will now utilize this tool in our arsenal against litter across our beautiful parish. Another major challenge our parish has tackled head on is animal control. Our Animal Shelter team does a phenomenal job working to corral unclaimed animals and find homes Robby Miller Tangipahoa Parish President for them. COVID-19, however, created a new challenge for us, forcing us to close our shelter to the public for many weeks during the height of the outbreak. Undaunted, our animal control team partnered with Wings of Rescue, a charity service that flies pets from high intake shelters across our region and delivers those pets to families who have pre-adopted them in other parts of the country. This program was recently responsible for doing something we have never done before – we had no dogs available for adoption in our shelter. COVID-19 has created so many challenges over the course of this calendar year. I’m proud to say that in Tangipahoa Parish, we met those challenges head on and developed innovative solutions to meet the needs of our people during this extraordinary time. As we move into the holiday season, I am thankful for our many partners across the region, but I am especially grateful for the people who live and work in our great parish. They are truly the reason why Tangipahoa is the best parish in the best state in the best country on the globe.


EDGE October | November 2020

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EDGE October | November 2020

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Are You Experiencing the First Signs of a Hearing Loss? We often have our teeth checked, our eyes checked and our blood-pressure tested, but when was the last time you had a hearing test? Hearing loss doesn’t happen overnight. It is a gradual process over the years, so it isn’t noticeable at first. But at some point, things will start to change. A few common signs of hearing loss include finding conversations hard to follow, turning the TV’s volume up louder than usual, and asking people to repeat themselves. Dr. JJ Martinez, AuD, CCC-A, FAAA Doctor of Audiology, Board Certified Audiologist

You might not think too much of it at first, or, despite any frustrations it is causing you, you might decide to put treatment off for “another day.” Often friends and family are the first to notice one’s hearing loss before it becomes a real challenge for the sufferer.

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Sound familiar? If so, then SLENT Hearing & Balance Center encourages you to visit one of our hearing centers in Hammond, Slidell or Mandeville, LA for a hearing test. We’ll test your hearing, and identify if a hearing loss is at play, and if so, provide you with some treatment options. A recent worldwide study* confirmed that eight out of ten hearing aid users reported they had a profound positive impact on their quality of life, including improved relationships at home and work and a better sense of safety and independence.

Download Our Free Guide “The Early Symptoms of a Hearing Loss to Look Out For” Written by Dr. JJ Martinez Visit slenthearing.com/free-guide *Source: Findings of EuroTrak 2015 (ET 2015) and MarkeTrak 9 (MT9) worldwide studies about hearing loss and hearing aids.

Call 985-273-5795 Visit www.slenthearing.com EDGE October | November 2020


Beautiful Battle ScART Turns Agony into Art



t’s no secret that we women are notoriously hard on ourselves. We’re frequently struggling to achieve the perfect work/life balance, trying to figure out how to make ourselves at least a minor priority while busily caring for others, and of course, there are the dreaded body image issues. Even those of us who think we’re too evolved and enlightened for petty vanity can find ourselves battling negative internal dialogue from time to time, thanks to society’s impossible beauty standards. Being subjected to a constant, media-driven barrage of idealized and often heavily altered images of physical perfection, it’s no wonder so many women obsess over their flaws, or even worse, suffer from full-blown body dysmorphic disorder. This self-criticism is bad enough under normal circumstances, but throw in a traumatic health crisis that leaves behind both visible and invisible scars, and the mental toxicity can become especially brutal. How in the world does one even begin to end the vicious cycle and learn to advocate for self-love and acceptance? While professional counseling is always an option – especially in extreme cases – a local program called ScART offers a pretty revolutionary and much more enjoyable alternative.

The Advent of ScART All the way back in her college sorority days, Covington entrepreneur and philanthropist Lisa McKenzie recognized how powerful the collective energy of women can be, especially with the proper tools and guidance. Drawing from her own struggles, and those of people around her, she’s become keenly attuned to the needs of women in crisis, and she’s developed and launched two successful programs designed to help heal the emotional wounds caused by physical trauma.

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EDGE October | November 2020

“Doctors can only go so far,” Lisa explained to me when I first interviewed her two years ago. “They can’t be their patients’ therapists. Therapy often helps after treatment is completed, when you lose your team, and feel alone. But therapy is not cheap, and traditional support groups are not for everyone.” On that occasion, we were discussing her You Night program, whose signature runway fashion shows serve as the graduation ceremony for a six-month program that enlists

teamwork activities, coaching, and runway skills to teach participants how to overcome the physical and psychological challenges of cancer treatment. Her second program was in its infancy at the time, but has since blossomed in its own right. ScART, an amalgam of “Scar Art,” uses painting as a self-care and empowerment tool for women who are trying to cope with physical or emotional scars. “People with scars sometimes do body art and tattoos, but this is the first of its kind to interpret scars onto canvas,” Lisa says proudly of her latest project. “It’s a brand new concept that’s not done anywhere else in the world.” While both You Night and ScART help women figure out how to feel normal again – or find a new normal – alongside a supportive sisterhood of other survivors, ScART has some decidedly more introspective components in its process.

The Anatomy of ScART In the program’s development process, Lisa sought input from multiple experts, including art instructors, hypnotherapists, reconstructive surgeons, oncologists and social workers. The result is a three-part program that starts with video-guided homework that provides participants with thought-provoking activities to encourage them to delve into their personal challenges. Once they’ve done the internal work, they sketch out their scars and choose colors to reflect their emotional state in preparation for the class. Next comes the live instruction session, where certified ScART instructors help participants commit those sketches to canvas, and bring their art to life. Finally, ScARTists get to share their creations and insights with each other, and they also have the opportunity to participate in an online storytelling platform that celebrates each individual.

EDGE October | November 2020


Two different light-bulb moments brought the original concept together in Lisa’s head. The first one happened at a You Night Christmas party when a former participant arrived looking more confident than usual, and proudly showed off her improved reconstructive surgery scars, prompting a profound bonding moment in which all the women stood around in the kitchen revealing their own scars. The second event happened when, following a board meeting, Lisa passed through a downstairs coffee shop that displays art, and one of the pieces reminded her of the ladies’ scars. She found it beautiful, and she was inspired. In three years, there have been around 400 participants. ScART has been utilized in hospital patient support programs, women’s retreats, conferences, and privately sponsored events. But its most significant association has been its partnership with Painting with a Twist, a nationwide chain of art studios, which frequently hosts ScART events. The program continued to flourish and then the pandemic hit. Like every other business, organization and individual, this momentous event created major challenges that required thinking outside the box – or studio, in this case. “Covid was initially a huge hindrance, but wound up bringing about positive development,” Lisa explains. “We had to recreate the whole program to allow for both inperson and Zoom sessions, so it’s now available nationally and internationally. Supplies can be shipped to homes, so where there used to be much more limited access, those isolated due to immune issues or other health problems can now be involved. Now more than ever, relationships with each other and instructors are vital. It’s become a beautiful solution to a difficult problem.” The Affirmation This all sounds wonderful in theory, but is it truly effective? Four-time participant, Mary Jolicoeur, is quick to dispel any doubts with her own success story. “I’m a seven-year breast cancer survivor,” Mary freely shares. “I got involved in ScART because I never really liked my body after a double mastectomy. It was devastating.” The 45-year-old medical assistant admits she was at a very low point when a friend from her You Night experience, who was convinced she would benefit from ScART, insisted on paying for her to take the course. Mary enjoyed it so much and found it so fulfilling that she returned multiple times.


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“Each time, the experience changed. I grew a little more each time,” she tells me, her voice thick with emotion. “Initially, my colors were about pain – dark green, dull yellow, dark blue – and the image was all over the place. There was no uniformity to it, and it was very smeared and dull. The second time, it grew more vibrant, and it had a field of flowers. The third time, it took on a calming sensation. More purple and white. I felt more peaceful and my faith grew stronger. The fourth was a burst of joy, a burst of colors with flowers and angels. After that, I felt free. I tear up just talking about it. You Night and ScArt have helped me become a vibrant, independent woman.” Mary is such a believer in the program that she has taken the pay-it-forward spirit in which she was introduced to it, and applied it to her role as an “outreach angel.” “God has blessed me with this sisterhood, so if anyone needs a coffee date, or lunch, or if they’re feeling down and need uplifting, I’m here for them.”

The Addendum Not one to rest on her laurels, Lisa McKenzie’s busy and clever mind is always dreaming up new ways to expand and improve upon these experiences. She’s currently in the process of teaming up with an artistically inclined California vineyard – aptly named, Artiste Winery – to launch the “ScARTiste” program. ScART participants will be able to upload their story and a photo of their art piece to be used as a wine bottle label. ScARTistes can invite friends and family to access their story and purchase the personalized wine, with a portion of proceeds going back to the program. While fashion shows, art classes, and wine bottle labels may seem trite to those who aren’t familiar with You Night and ScART, there’s no doubt that the introspection, fresh perspectives, and camaraderie that emerge from them have lasting impact on their participants. Just ask Mary. “My emotions were all over the place before the evolution,” she says triumphantly. “My scars don’t define me now. I just see them as my battle wounds from when I was in the fight for my life.”

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e’re all familiar with the old adage, borrowed from an ancient African proverb, that says it takes a village to raise a child. Typically, that refers to relatives, teachers, coaches, youth organization leaders and anyone else in the community who positively contributes to a child’s development. But what about kids who need more than simple enrichment? What about kids who have suffered unspeakable abuse? What does that village look like? For those of us who’ve been lucky enough not to have to contemplate that question, it’s quite a revelation to discover organizations like Children’s Advocacy Center - Hope House. Based in Covington, but serving both St. Tammany and Washington Parishes, this independent non-profit organization provides comprehensive services – including forensic interviewing, family advocacy, counseling services, and prevention outreach – to juvenile abuse victims. “We provide a path to recovery and a bridge to justice for victims of abuse,” Executive Director Thomas Mitchell explains. “We are the first point of contact after abuse has been established. Law enforcement gathers the basic facts, then brings the kids to us to start the process. Unlike an intimidating place like a hospital or police station, we provide

a homelike, child-friendly environment. We have licensed forensic interviewers, and we coordinate medical exams at nearby Children’s Hospital Northshore. We help gather evidence, and it’s all sent to the DA’s office. We also provide therapy and advocacy to prepare them for court, and we go with them to court.” To help abused children and their families get both healing and justice, Hope House has assembled a multidisciplinary team of 12 agencies, encompassing an intricate network of professionals including clinical therapists, advocates and investigators, in addition to the forensic interviewers. They also collaborate with outside support resources that offer equine, art, and dance therapy. And there’s one other unusual resource that stands out a bit from the rest. Bikers! Bikers Against Child Abuse, or BACA, is one of Hope House’s collaborating agencies. Founded in 1995 in Utah by a social worker and registered play therapist, this 501(c)(3) organization, designed to provide a supportive presence in the lives of traumatized children, has grown exponentially, with chapters allSTORY over the as well as Europe LIZ U.S., GENEST SMITH ???? and far-flung places likePHOTOS Iceland, Australia and New Zealand. EDGE October | November 2020


After getting a referral and confirming that an abuse case has already been properly reported to authorities and is being processed by the system, BACA works in conjunction with officials and referring agencies to contact the family and schedule an initial meeting with the child at their home or wherever they feel comfortable. Following this initial contact, the child is issued two primary members that they can contact anytime they need comforting. With permission from the parent or guardian, upon demand, these “primaries” can visit them at their house, escort them places, accompany them to court or parole hearings, and basically serve as a reassuring presence when the child needs them. Agencies like Hope House, who deem certain children to be ideal candidates, introduce them and their families to the concept of BACA, provide them with information, show them videos and then leave it up to them to decide if this is an option worth exploring. But what makes a child a good candidate for such an unorthodox form of therapy? “Imagine a 9-year-old being threatened that if they tell anyone about the abuse, they’ll hurt them or their parents,” says Thomas Mitchell. “We had a teacher report that one child kept asking if the bad

man was outside, while others are even afraid to go to the bathroom by themselves. If a child is in a chronic state of hypervigilance and fear, and they’re scared to go to court, BACA helps alleviate that. We often work with single mothers, and sometimes having the strong, paternal presence that BACA can provide makes all the difference. They become part of the child’s village.” It’s worth noting that there are also women among their membership, and they can serve as primaries in cases where the child is fearful of men. It all comes down to the child’s individual preferences and needs. If you’re still not convinced that bikers can provide the kind of support a fragile young child may need, perhaps it’ll help to learn about the rituals involved in that initial meeting. First of all, the child gets to pick their own nickname, or “road name,” along with being assigned their primaries, who also go by their road names. They are also presented with a treasure trove of goodies to both delight them and serve as tools of empowerment, including – but not limited to – a personalized jacket, security blanket, and a night light that shines the BACA logo on their ceiling (sort of like Batman’s signal!). But the best gift of all is the teddy bear. Each child watches as their BACA bear gets passed around and hugged by each member to “fill it with love.” When the child feels

compelled to reach out to their primaries for support, they can always defer to the bear’s needs, instead of their own. “My bear needs some love.” “My bear is scared.” Calls like this, due to nightmares, a bad day, or even threats from the alleged perpetrator, could trigger additional visits. As one might expect, a bunch of menacing-looking bikers are not always judged for their good-hearted intentions, but for their appearance and stereotypes. So it’s no wonder the co-founder of the local chapter – 15-year member and current Louisiana State Sergeant at Arms – “Boz”, is very careful and specific in characterizing the organization. “We are not a club or a gang. We are not vigilantes. Cases are referred to us by places like Hope House, law enforcement and doctors, but anyone can recommend them to us. We have a lot of security protocols, policies and procedures, and we stick to a code of conduct.” Prior to becoming the primary contacts for the child, the bikers have to pass an extensive background check, ride with the chapter to observe visits for at least a year, complete webinar and classroom training, and receive special instructions from a licensed mental health professional. What would compel a rough and tumble biker to sign up for this? “Simple,” Boz says. “I love kids and I love my motorcycle. BACA brings the two together and allows me to help my community.” For cold hard proof of the program’s efficacy, one only needs to look to a 2017 study conducted by the University of North Texas in which the parents or guardians of children involved with BACA “were interviewed four times over the course of one year. Results indicated children demonstrated substantial improvements in their overall levels of emotional distress, conduct concerns, hyperactivity, and behavioral and EDGE October | November 2020


emotional functioning. Overall, results support the premise that services provided by BACA may serve as a unique intervention for children who have experienced abuse.” Scientific studies are all well and good, but nothing is as convincing as an actual testimonial. A former BACA child turned BACA member, whose road name is A.J., shared her story. “I was seven years old when I fell victim to a family member’s actions that resulted in me needing counseling. After a session, my therapist suggested BACA to my mom,” she tells me. “I remember being outside and seeing all these bikers flooding the street. It was incredible. I wasn’t intimidated. I knew they were all united for me. That brings back happy memories for me. When my family broke up, a different family rode in. I went to their Christmas and Halloween events for years. It helped to get away from my shattered family, be with the other kids and spend time with members. It gave us a chance to be kids again.” Kids remain part of the BACA family for the long-haul and are able to call on them for support, but the goal is to not become a crutch, just to serve as a safety net in times of distress. A.J. stepped away for a couple of years after she aged out at age 18, but as she says, “Once a BACA child, always a BACA child.” As a testament to the lifelong impact, when she was 20, she reached out to touch base with an older member. One thing led to another, and she wound up becoming an active member herself. She’s now able to bring her experience as an abuse survivor and an alumna of the program, combined with her BACA training, to reach each kid she works with, and reach them in a meaningful way. “I’m able to attest to the fact that BACA will be here for you, no matter what state, country or continent. There are chapters everywhere. You’re not alone.”

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Just as Thomas Mitchell says, they become part of the child’s village. Having outgrown her childhood road name, Princess, she changed her name to A.J., in honor of a late friend. But a child in the program that she connected with decided A.J. should stand for “Alligator Jones.” And now it does. In addition to A.J., Boz shared with me multiple success stories, like the children who, encouraged by a sea of fierce supporters, were able to sit in a courtroom, confidently look their abuser in the eye, fearlessly identify them and describe the abuse. There are also those perpetrators who suddenly decided to take a last minute plea deal – sparing everyone a difficult court session – upon seeing the child accuser arrive with both courage and a sizable entourage. In a more specific example, a young girl that BACA escorted into a courthouse needed to use the restroom before proceedings started, but the alleged abuser and his family were standing in the way. The BACA members surrounded her and basically shuffle-stepped her over while someone made sure the bathroom was empty, and she was able to get in and out unseen. And as the ultimate show of confidence – and defiance – she extended her hand outside the wall of protectors, and let’s just say, she favored the perp and his family with a bold gesture to let them know exactly how she felt about the situation! According to Boz, membership is made up equally of abuse survivors like A.J. and people who just love kids. But what does it really take to be a BACA member? “You’ve gotta be willing to get up at 2 a.m. and ride right over if a child calls you. We’re all volunteers, so nobody gets paid. Well, we get paid in smiles and hugs.” They may not wear capes, but these are the village’s true super heroes.

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EDGE October | November 2020



Mark Johnson City of Covington Mayor

Greg Cromer City of Slidell Mayor


This is Covington: Recently a local resident left a message for me. It took several days before we connected by phone. She is 77 years old, widowed and lives in her own home. Raised on a cotton farm in northern Louisiana, her family moved to Covington when she was a child. She picked cotton on Oak Grove Plantation at the age of five. Once here, she picked tung oil nuts in St. Tammany, strawberries in Ponchatoula and bell peppers in Tangipahoa. In 1972, she was the first woman to begin working on the rigs offshore. For years she worked in the kitchen at Nathan’s Bar (Mattina Bella today), cleaned houses, and was the cashier for Schoultz’s Store. “Two things I hate to do around my house ... dust and iron. I hope I never have to dust or iron again.” She called me because the main gas line to her home had a leak. Also, the connection under the house to the stove was faulty. Her gas had been disconnected since the prior week. For someone living without a stove or hot water, she was in remarkably good spirits. A call went out to the community “If you know of a plumber that might consider doing the work for less (or maybe 2 or 3 plumbers who might team up), please let me know. If you can help defer the cost with a donation, that would be wonderful.” Monetary donations began flowing in: Venmo, PayPal, cash and checks. All told, over $6,000 was collected for a person no one knew. Goodbee Plumbing replaced the gas main at no charge. The stove was a no-go. Purchased about 50 years ago at a garage sale for $25, it could not be salvaged. Using the donated dollars, a new stove was purchased. Goodbee installed it, again at no charge. Over $5,000 was returned to the donors. This is Covington.

Dear Citizens, Our family and friends in Southwest Louisiana were devastated by Hurricane Laura, and they continue to be in our thoughts and prayers. I am incredibly proud of the people of Slidell who stepped up to help our neighbors in the aftermath of the storm. Team Slidell partnered with Representative Mary DuBuisson, Representative Bob Owen, Senator Sharon Hewitt and former Representative Kevin Pearson to fill up an 18-wheel tractor trailer with hurricane relief and recovery supplies. Frisard Trucking donated the tractor trailer and delivered the supplies to the Cajun Navy warehouse in Baton Rouge, so that the donated items could be dispersed to the people that needed them the most. The men’s clubs from St. Margaret Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Luke’s Catholic churches and Pope John Paul II Catholic High School recently visited Sulphur, Louisiana, and over the span of two weekends, served over 15,000 hot meals to the people in that community. The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office and St. Tammany Fire Protection District 1 also sent manpower and resources to those devastated areas. This is what makes Slidell great. We take care of our neighbors, especially in their time of need. My thanks to everyone in our community who donated supplies, gave their time, and served our friends and neighbors in Southwest Louisiana. Hurricane season isn’t quite over, so I continue to ask our citizens to keep vigilant, stay updated and review their emergency hurricane plans. The City of Slidell is ready to respond to any storm that might still head our way.

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655024 Worth a Drive




hen friend and local hotel owner Lisa Condrey Ward told me about her nephew’s hotels in Ocean Springs, I welcomed the chance for a weekend getaway to the coast during the shutdown. Ocean Springs is just on the other side of Biloxi, Mississippi. Passing all of the casinos, and what felt like a Waffle House on every corner, we crossed the Biloxi Bay Bridge and found ourselves in very different topography. The main street, Washington, is lined with a canopy of oaks and filled with welcoming boutiques, bars and restaurants. Ocean Springs is famous for its native son artist Walter Anderson and is the home of the Walter Anderson Museum and the Shearwater Pottery Gallery. The town has maintained its charm and is void of large commercial hotels and casinos. I could see that this was not a forgotten coastal town, but a bustling community whose roots are clearly in the arts and in welcoming visitors.

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The Beatnik Thehotelbeatnik.com oceansprings-ms.gov


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When we arrived at our hotel, The Beatnik, we checked in without visiting the front desk. The hotel sent our room code in advance so that we could observe the physical distancing rules that were in place at that time. The first thing we noticed was the saltwater plunge pool that runs the length of the four cabins. Each floating cabin is equipped with a wet bar and a secluded, private outdoor shower. Our cabin offered a selection of books and two comfortable places to read them – in the living room or outside in a screened porch. As the name suggests, the hotel is inspired by, and pays homage to, the Beatnik Era of the 50’s and 60’s. The rooms are simple and uncluttered with comfortable furniture and colors and textures that give it a cool natural vibe. Technology was available –Alexa to play your favorite music and a flat screen TV for those who just have to stay tuned in – but for me, I just wanted to unplug and unwind. We were only a few blocks from the town, harbor and beaches, but staying put also had its advantages with a meditation garden and a fire pit for cooking s’mores. A couple of the cabins have bunk beds, acknowledging that children are welcome. After an afternoon of relaxing and floating around the pool, I made my way to The Roost, another property in the Condrey’s collection. I met up with Roxanne and Ted Condrey in the The Roost’s Wilber Bar, an intimate space serving craft cocktails and small plates. We met in the speakeasy section behind a hidden door. The windowless space was both intimate and cool, with a painting of Al Capone behind the sofa taking up the whole wall. Hence the name, The Al Capone Room. With a drink in hand, I got to hear the Condry’s story. The dynamic young couple, both from north Louisiana, started their careers in Florida real estate, and found themselves relocating to Ocean Springs after a postKatrina visit. They planned to stay only a year, but fell in love with the community. Definitely accidental hosts, they have embraced the role. Their first purchase was intended to be their office space and included a two-room bed and breakfast. The Inn at Ocean Springs is nestled off the main street steps away from the downtown area. They quickly out grew the office space but have embraced their hotelier roles.

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Photos by Christy Ryan

The Roost Roostoceansprings.com oceansprings-ms.gov


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In 2016, the couple purchased and renovated what was formerly the Wilbur Motel. They took the utmost care in renovating the property, paying homage to its history, maintaining the majestic oak trees and salvaging some of the original wood features of the building. What they created is The Roost, a luxurious boutique hotel on par with boutique hotels in major cities. The spacious suites oer a relaxing environment with everything a guest would need to stay a while, including ovens and full size fridge/freezers in some suites. The upstairs suites open onto a large porch that catches the evening breeze. Guests are encouraged to use the space to relax, mingle and enjoy a cocktail or late-night dink. Adjoining the bar at The Roost is Eat, Drink, Love, an eat-in deli & graband-go market, with daily farm-to-table specials. Perfect for eating in, taking to your suite or to pack up for a picnic on the beach. A little way down Porter Avenue the Condrys acquired a derelict building that has now become The Beatnik. More recently they purchased a 3-acre lot across the road and are embarking on their latest project, The Collective, a perfect name for what will become an immersive, multilayered creative district. The area will feature a collection of start-ups as well as established businesses: a bookstore, a brewery, a gym and the oldest neighborhood bar called Sweets. In addition, renowned local chef and James Beard Foundation Semi Finalist, Alex Perry will open his second restaurant at The Collective,

a garden to table concept called the Apple Pear Café. Chef Alex also runs The Vestige restaurant with his wife, Kimi. The garden is already being developed, so that it will be established when the restaurant opens. The vision is to create a family friendly experience for people of all ages to come together. Businesses will incorporate an interactive element to attract guest of all ages. After sharing stories, ideas and a fabulous Old Fashion, it was time for me to leave the comfort of the bar if I was going to catch the sunset at the beach before going out for dinner. The next morning we walked next door to The Greenhouse on Porter Avenue, an eclectic restaurant housed in a greenhouse. They have a reputation for terrific biscuits, and we were not disappointed. Our apple biscuits served with homemade jam and ‘fluff were very reminiscent of English scones with cream all washed down with lashings of coffee.

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Once fueled and caffeinated, we rented a golf cart to explore the town. We ended up at the beach and then on to the harbor where we stopped and enjoyed watching the fishing boats coming into the harbor and the pelicans flying from perch to perch like giant prehistoric birds. With the Walter Anderson Museum on the agenda for the afternoon we travelled back into town, passing many golf carts along the way. It made sightseeing enjoyable and parking easy. I was glad we decided to stay another day, as there was still much to do. As we departed the next morning, I knew we would be back again, perhaps during one of the town’s festivals. Thanks for the wonderful Southern hospitality Roxanne, Ted and Ocean Springs! EDGE October | November 2020


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EDGE October | November 2020


St. Tammany NOW


elcome back to St. Tammany NOW— a curated collection of the latest economic development information and business and industry insights in our community. St. Tammany Corporation is proud to partner with EDGE of the Lake on this feature section. This issue focuses on our target industry sectors for business retention, expansion, attraction, and formation. THRIVE2023, St. Tammany’s 5-Year Economic Development Strategic Plan was formally adopted in February 2019 after completing an extensive planning process that began with a comprehensive economic analysis. The in-depth economic analysis included research and data collection on the current economy, labor and

intentional business development opportunity is one of the outcomes of our comprehensive strategic planning process. The complete economic analysis and THRIVE2023 strategic plan are both available on our website at www. sttammanycorp.org. St. Tammany is fortunate to maintain excellent quality of life, enjoy abundant recreation and cultural assets, and contribute to the unique character and hospitality of southeast Louisiana and the gulf south. Strategically positioned at the intersection of I-10, I-12, I-59 in the east and I-55 outside of the western footprint, St. Tammany’s geographic location is a competitive advantage for talent and industry. The parish is the only place in the U.S. that is situated between two NASA facilities-—Stennis Space

workforce, industry clusters, as well as a state and metro comparative analysis. This information formed the basis of our strategic plan and its implementation tactics. As we continue to experience the ongoing impacts of the pandemic and implement economic recovery strategies, the principles of our strategic plan maintain their relevance, importance, and value. Identifying areas of

Center and Michoud Assembly Facility—and has access to two international airports and four ports within an hour drive. St. Tammany is the connector of the Northshore, Greater New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and this role is reinforced in the labor shed and commuting patterns.


EDGE October | November 2020

St. Tammany is in the heart of a labor shed that includes the metro areas of New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Gulfport-Biloxi, now home to more than 700,000 qualified workers. Business development efforts are essential to the continued diversification of our economy, specifically, the highly educated workforce currently traveling outside of the community for employment opportunities. Our St. Tammany workforce is educated, skilled and hardworking with a prime age labor force participation rate of 78.8% and nearly 33% of the population holding an associate degree or higher. Northshore Technical Community College’s campus located in Lacombe is a strategic asset for higher education and workforce training for both individuals and companies.

Chris Masingill Chief Executive Officer St. Tammany Corporation

St. Tammany Target Industries

St. Tammany’s target industries have been strategically selected based on data deep-dives and consideration of the community and region’s assets and capabilities. Our competitive advantages for business development are concrete: an ideal location and a talented workforce. We desire to support the strongest existing industry clusters in St. Tammany such as auto/auto-related, financial services, freight transportation, machinery manufacturing, and professional services. The higher wages that these industries offer combined with the available product in the community offer significant opportunities for growth.


Connectivity, infrastructure, and talent–transportation and logistics companies demand it, and St. Tammany Parish has it. Our parish’s proximity to major infrastructure access points, including the Port of New Orleans, propels our global competitiveness in transportation and logistics. Positioned in the middle of three major interstates puts companies and goods in reach of more than nine million people in a short 250-mile radius – increasing speed to market timetables. We have the expertise and efficiencies for companies looking to expand and meet the demands of their consumer.

Source: VisionFirst Advisors and Economic Leadership

EDGE October | November 2020


Notable St. Tammany Companies: Associated Wholesale Grocers, Textron Marine & Land Systems, Florida Marine Transporters, CGB Enterprises/Zen-Noh Grain Corporation

of Engineers Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center, Stennis Space Center, and Tulane University’s National Primate Research Center offering the opportunity for unmatched public-private partnerships.

Business and Professional Services

St. Tammany Parish boasts a highly educated workforce that draws business and professional service companies to our Northshore. There are nearly 26,000 industry employees in the 30-mile region earning an average wage of $55,000 annually. This access to talent positions St. Tammany as an ideal location for finance, insurance, architecture, accounting, consulting, and engineering companies to form and expand. Notable St. Tammany Companies: Gilsbar, Inc., Hornbeck Offshore Services, Gulf States Real Estate, Stirling Properties

Scientific and Technical Services

St. Tammany Parish is where innovation meets transformation. Our community is home to private corporations and federal assets that are building, investigating, and harnessing the power of science and technology to uncover the breakthroughs of tomorrow. In 2017, Louisiana-based federal agencies and laboratories received a federal R&D investment of $332 million. They leveraged that investment through technology transfer efforts to address societal needs, promote growth, and enhance U.S. competitiveness. The 60-mile region surrounding St. Tammany Parish features NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility, the USDA’s Southern Regional Research Center, the U.S. Army Corps


Notable St. Tammany Companies: Netchex, Ampirical, MECO, Tulane University Regional Primate Center

BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT: Scientific and Technical Services:

Mechanical Equipment Corp. (MECO) is a manufacturer of engineered products for water purification serving multiple industries. MECO is also the world’s leading producer of water purification plants for offshore oil and gas platforms and the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries where ultra-pure water is the primary ingredient in the drug manufacturing process. MECO also provides advanced water purification systems to the U.S. Armed Forces. MECO is a Louisiana-based company with facilities in Houston, Texas, Mandeville, La., and Singapore.

Economic Development Industry Recognition

Beyond the data, research, business success stories, and industry sector engagement, economic development practitioners also look to our own industry leaders to see how we compete with our counterparts around the country in our efforts. This year, Louisiana has been recognized for excellence in economic development by multiple industry publications.

Business and Professional Services:

Scientific and Technical Services:


Corporate Headquarters

Scientific Services

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Technology Services

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Professional Services

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Advertising & Public Relations

Company Management

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EDGE October | November 2020

Southern Business and Development recognized St. Tammany Corporation as one of the “First-Rate Economic Development Agencies in the South” and highlights Alabama and Louisiana as the “Co-States of the Year” of the 2020 SB&D 100.

Site selection is a process of elimination. These recognitions highlighting Louisiana as a destination for business are significant because it emphasizes the competitive advantages of our state, our region, and our community nationally.

Business Facilities’ 16th Annual Rankings: State Rankings Report. Louisiana ranks #1 in Workforce Development/Talent Attraction for the 11th consecutive year.

Check out our Impact Report released in September that showcases the work of St. Tammany Corporation from July 2018 through June 2020.

Site Selection magazine ranked Louisiana No. 10, on a per capita basis, among states with the most new and expanded facilities in 2019. This year’s Governor’s Cup ranking marks the 10th time in the past 11 years that Louisiana has landed in the Top 10 for project performance on a per capita basis.

Stay connected with St. Tammany Corporation on Facebook @StTammanyCorporation, on Twitter @StTammanyCorp, and on our website: www.sttammanycorp.org.

EDGE October | November 2020


First Day of School - Students were happy to get back to school.


EDGE October | November 2020

EDGE October | November 2020


In remembrance of 9/11, Felix’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar in Mandeville honored St. Tammany Parish Fire District #4 with a catered lunch.

Saint Paul’s golfer, Riley Hnatyshyn, a current junior, won the Louisiana Junior Golf Tour at Squire Creek Country Club in Choudrant, Louisiana.

The Northshore Community Foundation awarded the third annual Dick Knight Award to Ola Magee, Program Director of the Regina Coeli Child Development Center.

EDGE enjoyed attending the wedding of Lauren Young and Steve Rorex.

The Dames De Prologue set up an Amazon Delivery Registry. Bayou Adventures in Lacombe collected, sorted and repacked supplies. Gulf Coast Disaster Relief handled the logistics in getting the supplies to the locations where they are most needed. Thanks to all the volunteers and the people who donated.


EDGE October | November 2020

Representative Mary DuBuisson, Representative Bob Owen, former Representative Kevin Pearson and Senator Sharon Hewitt led the effort to fill an 18-wheeler with supplies for the Cajun Navy to be donated to Hurricane Laura victims. St. Tammany Fire Protection District #1 and the community came together and filled the truck.

Saint Scholastic Academy held their Ring Mass at St. Anselm Church.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) St. Tammany’s Executive Director, Nick Richard was awarded the 2020 Crisis Intervention Team International Advocate of the Year award. Congratulations Nick!

EDGE October | November 2020


Ribbon Cuttings at Nutrition 911 and Heritage Health.

The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s K9 Division has welcomed a new member, K-9 Deputy Axel.

If you have to wear a mask, you might as well have fun with it. Here is Officer Hops (AKA Deputy Rogers) SRO at Abita Springs Elementary on the first day of school.

Louisiana Coastal Relief and Recovery, founded by Senator Patrick McMath and team, activated the day the storm hit Cameron Parish. Through partnership with Chevron and Retif Oil and Gas, they gave away 8,000 gallons of gasoline and $15,000 in gas gift cards to locals for assistance in running their generators.


EDGE October | November 2020

32nd Annual

Presented by

Drive-Thru Saturday, October 17 th

St. Tammany Parenting center

Bogue Falaya Park | 10am - 52pm



Children : $10 VIP : $20 Available online only!

www.stph.org/MonsterMash it the

Proceeds benef

Parenting Center St. Tammany Parenting center thanks these community partners

Sponsors rs

in-kind sponso

My turn:

by Michael Gottlieb

ABOUT MICHAEL GOTTLIEB In every issue, EDGE of the Lake invites a local chef or restauranteur to visit another eatery on the Northshore. Michael Gottlieb is the Executive Chef of The Anchor and Tchefuncte’s, both located under one roof and on the river in Madisonville. Recognized for his excellence in culinary and hospitality, Chef Gottlieb has been awarded the Creative Excellence Award by the James Beard Foundation, Best Restaurants in Georgia by Georgia Trend, Best Oyster Po’boy at the Poboy Fest, a Gold Medal at the World Championship Gumbo Cookoff, and multiple Silver Medals at New Orleans Wine & Food Experience.

Felix’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar 2891 U.S. Hwy 190, Mandeville 985.778.2176

Since the age of 16, I have traveled to New Orleans in one fashion or another, usually for music with the added bonus of good food. Religiously, my first stop would be Felix’s: bellying up to the oyster bar and ordering a dozen raw, a dozen charbroiled and building my cocktail sauce only to be outdone by the secret stash of sauce the shucker always pulled from under the counter. His, a sauce so spicy that the intense heat would burn my brain prior to settling down, balanced out the brininess of the oysters. When asked to give my thoughts on the Northshore Felix’s, the first thing that popped into my head was, “there is a Felix’s on the Northshore?!” I started speculating. I wondered how it was possible to replicate the feel and taste of the old, worn-in kitchen in the French Quarter? How could it possibly live up to the expectation and emotion that comes with walking into the glass storefront on Iberville? In short, it can’t. I had to remind myself of this as I made my way over to check out the Northshore version of my favorite oyster bar. With my mindset adjusted accordingly, I sat down and placed my order. While the ambiance cannot be replicated, everything else about the experience was spot on. The charbroiled oysters were executed flawlessly and left me wanting a bigger puddle of the charred butter to soak up with the crusty French bread. The buffalo oysters with creamy bleu cheese were absolutely fantastic with the perfect amount of heat and the right amount of bleu cheese to balance it out. I visited on a Monday, so red beans along with ½ of a fried shrimp poboy hit the table and they too were excellent. The service was attentive but not overbearing. My drink was kept full and the server always had a smile on her face. Although aesthetically it’s not the same feel as my favorite hole-in-the-wall on Iberville, the food, service and overall experience will keep me going back time and time again.



If you want assistance increasing your visibility, a St. Tammany Chamber membership offers exposure in your community and throughout the parish; provides many opportunities to network and for professional development―that are tailored to your business; advocates as "your voice of business"; and provides consolidated business information you need to know daily and weekly. Answers are a phone call away!

WE CAN HELP! Meredith Wright 985-273-3002


Megan Haggerty 985-273-3007


2220 Carey St., Slidell 610 Hollycrest Blvd., Covington 985-892-3216 StTammanyChamber.org Photos courtesy of Louisiana Northshore

OFF THE AIR with Charles Dowdy

Charles Dowdy is a broadcaster and writer living with his wife and four children on the Northshore. You can hear him each weekday morning from 6 to 10 on Lake 94.7.


made a mistake on live radio. Once the microphone was off, a clipped voice from behind me explained what I had done wrong. He was training me to do a specific program for our family radio business. This was not something I would do every day, but there was no better way to throw someone into broadcasting. The program invited people to call the station and get their Sandford and Son on, turning things around their home into a few dollars. Live radio on a tight schedule. We still do some version of this program in all four of our markets now. It might be called Swap Shop, Bargain Barn or the Sunflower Classified, but it is the same thing. And this guy had been doing it longer than anyone. The guy training me was our own Les Nessman, from the TV show WKRP in Cincinnati. Except that isn’t entirely right. He was Les Nessman with a bit of Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi. (The two pop culture references don’t matter. Imagine a tightly wound guy who gets silently stressed about doing a timed show every day full of strangers calling in to sell random things.) Our Les Nessman had a procedure the callers were forced to follow, or he would hang up. He would patch you onto the air and greet you with the station call letters.

You were supposed to state your name, your phone number, and no more than three items you were selling as succinctly as possible, then your phone number again. After that he would hang up on you while repeating a shorter version of what you were selling over the air and your phone number one more time. Then it was on to the next caller. People will try to turn anything into money. I’ve helped sell yard eggs, tires, dogs of dubious registry, every piece of furniture there is, bootleg birds from South America, strangely named parts of farm implements, plumbing supplies, once worn wedding gowns and maybe a kidney from a guy who swore he would part with it for the right price. In another market, long ago, people would use this program to prank co-workers on their birthdays. They would call the station, disguise their voice and give out the victim’s phone number. Rock star memorabilia worked best, or free rabbits, or karate lessons half price. They would simply offer something that was a little too good to be true like, “Yeah, my mom loved Elvis and stole some rug out of Graceland a few years back and I just need someone to come get it.” (Obviously our Les Nessman would have hung up.) The victim’s cell

phone would blow up for hours, and the voicemails could be interesting. Sometimes our Les would pass me in the hall and say a number. Twenty would produce a straight smile. Twenty-three would curl his lips. Twenty-five was broadcasting hall of fame. He was bragging about the number of calls he cleared during his show and the light in his eyes could be a shade too bright. When our Les Nessman had to miss work it usually led to trouble, because the fill-ins always broke his rules. “Yeah, I got this brand-new chainsaw and it is a great deal. I’ll take twenty bucks,” one caller said. Cheap power tools meant a “heart attack” widow who was dumping a garage or someone was fencing stolen goods. This day, without missing a beat, the sub for our Les Nessman said, “It’s not a good deal if you murdered somebody with it.” No matter what originally kept him away, when the show deviated from the required format our Les Nessman often showed up, out of breath and wide-eyed. He even slid one replacement out of the chair mid-show under a live mic because the pace would not have allowed fifteen calls in the allotted time. He got it to twenty. I know that time ate at our Les Nessman. In a broadcast studio the

EDGE October | November 2020


clock never stops. He had a schedule to follow and now I follow one, too. I try to do a friendly, informative morning show in our largest market. I’m not the talent. I’m the traffic cop. I keep the trains running on time. Because I think that is what people want. In a world of disinformation and anger, I provide local content on a consistent schedule from a voice they can trust. Local news at the top and bottom of the hour. Local traffic at 25 and 55. Local sports at 20. A giveaway at 40. Every morning. It is my little way to make a crazy world seem normal. And they make it seem causal, but even the national broadcasting giants follow a tight schedule. Anyone

who talks on a radio or television does. Why? Because time is money. Literally. We sell part of the clock to pay for our business. Time matters. Our Les Nessman was also interested in time, but not for money. He was looking for order. Maybe voices no one else could hear were contained by his efficient clock management. So, he tried to find peace in a busy, random world, taking succinct calls from strangers selling puppies, hot power tools, bent back horses and a rug that may or may not have been in the foyer at Graceland.

A Taste of Covington.com

limited Tickets Online

Wednesdays & Thursdays in the Month of October - 7:00pm Seating Vintner Dinners by reservation at top restaurants at varied prices Friday, October 23th - 7:00pm - 9:30pm at St.Tammany Art Association Festa del Vino - NEW ** on FRIDAY NIGHT for 2020 Saturday, October 24th - 7:00pm - 9:30pm at Bogue Falaya Pavilion Grand Tasting - NEW ** SATURDAY NIGHT for 2020 Sunday, October 25th at Annadele's Plantation - 11:00am Champagne Brunch by Reservation ** TASTINGS SUBJECT TO ATC PERMITTING! Pricing, menus and more information at www.aTasteofCovington.com


EDGE October | November 2020

Since 1998

It’s a “SHORE” Thing! Winner of 8 Honda President’s Awards of Excellence including 2019

HondaofCovington.com 100 Holiday Square Blvd., Covington, LA 70433

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