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DeSoto LIFE September/October 2013

Volume 4 Issue 5

Parish Roads



Police Jurors fought battle and taxpayers won First in a series on Quality of Life issues in DeSoto

DeSoto LIFE September/October 2013

Vol. 4 #5

The locals’ guide to events, people, and items of interest in and around our area.

Editor/Publisher Edna Wheless Layout/Art Direction Grace V. Hardesty

from the editor

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it..”


DeSoto Life® is published bimonthly (January, March, May, July, September, November) by Edna Wheless Co., LLC Mailing Address: 880 Tyler Rd. Logansport, LA 71049 Office Address: 8352 Hwy. 171 Grand Cane, LA 71032 Single edition FREE on newsstands. Annual subscription $16 (6 issues). Subscription questions or for advertising information Call: 318.858.3775 or 318.471.2661 Fax: 318.858.3776 e-mail: DeSoto Life does not accept and is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts. We are not responsible for any pictures, articles, or misunderstandings on opinions expressed or facts supplied by its authors. We respect all points of view and promote free expression. We recognize all comments, letters, notes, contributions, and the participation of this community for making this magazine possible. All rights reserved

Printed in U.S.A.

© 2013

If you want to be on our distribution list, please call 318.858.3775 or e-mail 2

Mother Nature right now is creating a cocoon of color You absolutely know how I feel about autumn days…they are on the cusp of arriving and I am so ready for them. Drive through the parish and note the changing seasons. Leaves change colors like women change their outfits and their home’s décor. It’s all about fall. Tree limbs touch overhead—creating a cocoon of color—as I drive Poag Road or, more recently, Wood Springs Road. The curve just above Blunt Road dazzles me. As you will read, the roads themselves are beautiful…and are a joy to travel…at perhaps the greatest effort ever of a DeSoto Parish Police Jury. In fact, as attorney Gary Evans put it, the Shale Event in DeSoto Parish could be ranked right up there with the Battle of Mansfield in historical significance. I don’t brag on them often, but thanks to the Police Jury for using shale dollars wisely on our roads. It’s so fun for me to find a special story to share with you. John R. Hasty is one of those special guys who, despite age and health, just keeps on ticking. He is an incredibly smart man…he knows that what he is working on will become family treasures forever. Then there’s the 125-year history of Beulah Baptist Church. Families in communities are so faithful to ‘keep the faith’ through so many years. The many churches in DeSoto are testaments to the kind of folks we may not be but hopefully will become. It’s doubly exciting to see a young, smart, and talented teacher decide to help kids do better in school and in life. It’s not a simple thing to organize, plan, and execute a learning center for children, but Shelly Rascoe’s done it. Though the sign says North DeSoto Learning Center…it’s for every child from the entire area. In this edition you’ll meet Todd Eppler, the new hospital CEO; be inspired to participate in ScareCrow Days in Mansfield or your community; and attend events promoted by this magazine. Enjoy the waning days of summer…though it will still be hot through Indian Summer, one morning we’ll awaken to a cooler breath of air…and realize Mother Nature is on the job. Sip cider, anticipate, and enjoy every fall morning. What a grand time it always is.

DeSoto Life September/October 2013



05 Art & Music Local tutor knows about teaching children

19 MHS FBLA Ignites Innovation Students travel to national conference

06 Helping Communities & People DeSoto resident Libby Murphy and Louisiana Association for the Blind help by sharing information

21 Introducing Todd Eppler Meet the new CEO of DeSoto Regional Health System 22 Celebrate Education! DeSoto educators honored at event

08 Smooth, Beautiful DeSoto Parish Roads A $200,000,000 Investment... something worth having and worth maintaining

29 New Learning Center 31 Ladies Auxiliary Responds to Community Needs

11 You Bet Your Life Savings Poor planning for long-term care By Ric Cochran

32 Beulah Baptist Church Focusing on Growth

13 Matrix Therapy Solutions Grows by Offering Various Services

35 A Clean Miss... By Ed Gunter

14 Happy Doing What He Loves John Hasty makes art by working with his hands

36 Do You Believe in Bigfoot Movie Producers explore DeSoto’s wooded areas

17 Group Reads Bible at State Capitol

41 Frierson’s Own Shooting Range ...A family oriented learning and training facility


14 departments

02 Publisher

02 Editor’s Letter 42 E-Connections Photos from in and around DeSoto Parish On the Cover: Better roads are just a beginning to DeSoto’s new and improved programs. See page 8 for full story.

DeSoto Life September/October 2013


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Art, piano, guitar, tutoring... it’s all here Being the mother of two boys, Shelley Rascoe, a teacher at North DeSoto Elementary, knows a thing or two about teaching children.


eing a teacher, she is aware of learning opportunities children may miss and how limited opportunities may hinder a child’s overall learning experience. To that end, and to follow a dream she’s always had, she opened North DeSoto Tutoring & Resource Center last October, located right off Highway 171 north of Kickapoo on Lakeview Street. The learning center will offer classroom space for teachers/ tutors to rent and a chance for children to have art, piano, guitar, and voice classes. Art and music are two subjects which have been withdrawn from the DeSoto Parish school curriculum. Guitar lessons will be taught twice weekly from 3:30 to 6:30 and piano lessons will be taught 3:30 to 6:30 twice weekly. Voice lessons are also offered for budding American Idol stars. Art classes have been ongoing throughout the summer. “This area has become very sports oriented,” Rascoe said. “I and my staff hope to provide an outlet for students who are artistically inclined.”

Rascoe rents space in the building for tutors interested in tutoring for the 4th and 8th grade iLEAP and LEAP preparation. Also, children often need a place to do their homework. “They have help centers in Shreveport and other metropolitan areas but we don’t have any in DeSoto Parish that I know of, so we’re hoping to provide help in that area.” Hours of operation are 3:30 to 8:00 p.m. Rascoe would like to also make tutoring available for younger students through second grade. Small rooms are available for rent by teachers/tutors after school and even on Saturday. Call Rascoe at (318) 423-6980 to learn how you can help make a difference in a child’s life. For more informa- tion, e-mail her at





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DeSoto Life September/October 2013

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Communities People • Low vision is vision that cannot be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, medication, or surgery.


• Adults with low vision are the fastest growing group with vision loss. • One in six people over age 45 in America has low vision; one in four over age 65 has low vision. • Diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma are the leading causes of vision loss. • LAB’s Low Vision Rehabilitation Center offers rehabilitation services to help people of all ages adapt to their vision loss, regardless of the cause of vision loss. In addition, work readiness training and employment placement are offered for people with vision loss who desire to return to work. • LAB is one of only two agencies in Louisiana that offers rehabilitation, training, and employment to people with blindness and vision loss. • For more information about the programs and services offered by Louisiana Association for the Blind, visit or call (318) 635-6471. 6

DeSoto Life September/October 2013

by Simply Sharing Information

Direct to garment


ouisiana is facing an epidemic of diabetes and, combined with an aging population, the result could be a rapidly increasing number of people with severe vision loss, including total blindness. Louisiana’s population with severe vision impairment is expected to double over the next three decades. The people of DeSoto Parish are not immune to the effects of diabetes, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma.” Strong but meaningful words from a young lady who knows what she’s talking about. Stonewall’s Libby Murphy sees the effects of these diseases and other causes of vision loss every day. As public policy director of Louisiana Association for the Blind, Libby’s job is to make others—including our elected leadership—are aware of the need for services to and employment of people with vision loss. “The main thing I’ve learned from my co-workers and our clients who are blind is that life goes on,” says Murphy. “One client’s comment has stuck with me. She said she’d just lost her sight, not her life. She said she can do anything she wants, but just may have to do it another way.” Murphy says that’s a wonderful attitude. “It’s one that so many people with blindness have.” Louisiana Association for the Blind provides services, training, and employment for residents throughout Northwest Louisiana. The nonprofit agency is one of only two in the state that offers rehabilitation and employment. “We are here to create opportunities for independence,” Murphy said. “What we’d like for everyone in our area to understand is that we are a community resource. If you are looking for vision assistance devices for yourself or someone else, or if you or someone you know needs rehabilitation services, then we are here to help,” says Murphy. To learn more about Louisiana Association for the Blind, call (318) 635-6471, visit them at 1750 Claiborne Avenue in Shreveport, or go to And Murphy says she’ll make herself available to speak to groups throughout the parish and area if you would like a speaker for your next club meeting, Chamber of Commerce meeting, or any place folks convene. “We need to get the word out that we are here to help and everyone needs to be made aware of the situations we may face.”

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DeSoto Life September/October 2013


Quality of Life in DeSoto Parish

At Highest Level Ever Better roads, better landfill/upgraded compactor sites, upgraded athletic complex, improved animal control/ mosquito abatement program... Improvements not easy to achieve, but battles were won— the winners are those of us who live here.

First in a series on the rebirth of DeSoto Parish.



oo much of a good thing is not a good thing. You know…it’s that way with chocolate. It was the beginning of re-birth of DeSoto’s Saga…the heroic-sized happenings that would change the face and landscape of DeSoto Parish forever. It was discovery of the Haynesville Shale—under our collective feet—further down in the earth than anyone could imagine a drill bit going. Excitement was in the voices of folks as talk circulated that there’d be more money in DeSoto Parish than there’d been in its history. It was true. Overnight millionaires sprang up like violets on a spring morning. But with the real good came the real bad. Heavier traffic than we’d ever dreamed of caused chaotic intersections and terminally long waits as convoys bullied their way through; highways and roads bulged with truckloads of equipment impossible to identify. It was so much of a good thing that it was not a good thing. Folks driving to or from work were run off narrow parish roads by trucks hauling equipment wider than the roads. Wrecker companies stood by to pull cars back onto the roads once the equipment had passed. And yes, tempers flared. Traffic in towns suffered when long lines of gear-laden 18-wheelers brought local traffic to standstills. DeSoto Parish coffers filled with sales tax revenue and increases in property taxes caused by companies opening facilities and new businesses in the parish. Anyone out of work who wanted to work could find work. Restaurants, cafes, and mom and pop operations flourished. Working men had to eat. They had to buy gas. And they bought much of what they needed in DeSoto Parish. In the rural areas problems really mounted. Some folks got irate—and rightly so. Likely Police Jurors secretly wished they’d never been elected. If they thought we had problems before, they found out what problems really were. They discovered how ill-equipped the parish was to handle an unending onslaught of traffic. Along

DeSoto Life September/October 2013

with the sweet shale dollars came problems that had to be solved. It seemed to the tax-paying public that DeSoto Police Jurors went wild with spending. Not so. They went wild trying to plan how to spend the new dollars to ease situations that continually sprang up. Meetings became longer. Jurors took breaks, then came back fighting issues again. Jurors sat in the middle of a frenetic game without knowing how to play. Truth be told, what they did and how they reacted to this windfall of dollars was no different from what we did when our big checks began arriving. We were jubilant, knowing we’d had money in the bank for current and future needs and a degree of protection for emergencies. Because they took oaths to work for the good of their districts, hence the entire parish, they were cautious with spending and dogmatic about saving. With serious dollars came serious decisions. Where to start spending became the issue of the day. Needs were numberless. Never had there been a time when we could do everything we needed to do…and some of what we wanted to do. What would we do first? What needed the most attention? How could 11 men spread the dollars among 11 districts that would really make a difference to our quality of life? Quality of life issues were never much discussed in meetings…we did well just coping with necessities. Actually, up to this point, the words “quality of life” and “DeSoto Parish” had not been used in the same sentence. The more Jurors discussed matters with their constituents and looked at the real needs in their districts, there was one issue that came up again and again: roads and the condition most were in. Some were narrow, some flooded easily, many were not adequately ditched to handle run-off water, many were not topped off with much more than three-shot applications because that’s all we could afford. Communications between workers in the field and jurors were handled by walkie-talkies. There were no cell phones for instant communication and there was no GPS tracking mechanism such as is in place now. After lengthy meetings, endless telephone conversations, visits with constituents, and meetings with engineers and contractors—to say nothing of gas company representatives—the debates quieted and a decision was made: spend first money on parish roads, prioritize needs, bite the bullet, and hold on. Jurors acquiesced their needs for jurors with greater needs… but not grudgingly. What was good for one district was good for all. Their agreement? “Worst first.” Their goals? Widen, top, ditch, stripe where heaviest traffic was occurring, hold gas/oil/service companies accountable for wear and tear on roads, upgrade school bus turn-arounds, replace bridges, purchase equipment and supplies to do the work needed now and years out, and scrutinize all bids with magnifying glasses. The show began and they were the main players. But none could memorize their lines because they changed daily—some hourly. In 2012, approximately $13M was spent on improving and maintaining DeSoto Parish roads and bridges with approximately $2M being provided by the oil and gas industry. Additionally, since

DeSoto Life September/October 2013

2009 approximately $60M has been spent on improving and maintaining DeSoto Parish roads and bridges with approximately $8M being provided by the oil and gas industry. This was the largest, most comprehensive, and successful effort ever made by a DeSoto Parish Police Jury working together for a common goal. Dollars were available; road work was priority and dollars were justifiably spent. Heavy equipment traffic has lessened but not stopped. Water trucks still haul water every day around every bend in every road, to say nothing of timber trucks hauling logs parish wide. This traffic, however, continues to bring jobs, economic development, and revenue into the parish. Trucking companies continually pay for damages caused by their equipment as they continue drilling for and marketing DeSoto’s oil and gas. What we have is now the best rural road system we’ve ever had. And although we’re happy to get from one place to another on smooth roads, we must not be naïve to think they will be like this forever. Dollars are needed to keep them in this good condition and it is to this end that this Police Jury needs our vote of confidence that they have done the right thing in rebuilding most parish roads when they did. Steve Brown, Parish Administrator, said we are required by law to put a book value on parish roads. In this case, DeSoto’s approximately 800 miles of roadway and almost 50 bridges are valued at $200,000,000—something worth having and worth maintaining. Maintaining our parish road system should be an easy thing to do. We as citizens should just say yes and be happy to support the road improvements that have been made. We should renew the road millage when voting time comes in October. The millage will not increase, we will simply renew the current millage. Thank your Juror for what he’s done to bring DeSoto Parish to a new standard. We can appreciate theirs will be a hard act to follow. They continue to debate and analyze every need and every purchase. Sales tax dollars have dropped but the Police Jury has stayed in budget and kept every employee. Finally those two phrases, “quality of life” and “DeSoto Parish,” can be used in the same sentence. Roads are our number one priority for the safety of families, jobs, and for real economic development. To not support this millage renewal on the October ballot will erode the quality of life that we finally have. Now that we have the best road system of any parish, why would we not vote for renewal of the millage to maintain it? Note to readers: I attend 98% of Police Jury meetings. I have seen, heard, and know this is a true account of their activity. This editorial/ story/opinion was written by me at no cost to taxpayers. I urge you to support the renewal of this road millage so we never have to take a back seat to any parish in Louisiana. They did their job…now we need to do ours. Support a better DeSoto Parish by renewing the road millage coming on the ballot in October.


Protecting Our Families & Our Future

Shown left to right are team members: LaKandra Ross, Wesley Eckles, Mindy Runge, Deena Lum, Lori Lafitte

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DeSoto Life September/October 2013

You Bet Your Life Savings—

Poor Planning for Long-Term Care W ho remembers a game show called You Bet Your Life, starring Groucho Marx? No one risked their life on the show; but we often see a disclaimer on footage of climbers scaling tall buildings, or a tightrope walker crossing the Grand Canyon: “These are trained professionals. Don’t try this at home.” Protecting assets from nursing home costs is not as easy as it might seem. Even knowing the written rules is not enough. Understanding the rules, how they’re applied, and reading between the lines comes from experience. We receive referrals from professionals who understand the specialized nature of what we do. They recognize the dangers of dabbling outside their own specialty. Who would want the doctor who did their knee surgery to perform brain surgery on someone they love?   Some professionals with limited experience are marketing plans they claim will protect assets if someone enters a nursing home five years or more down the road—Medicaid currently has a five year look-back period. Some tout trusts and other devices which can be mixed bags with unintended consequences. One has related publicly of telling someone nothing could be done for their parent who didn’t have five years to wait, perhaps as an admonition not to procrastinate. I would agree that procrastination can be costly; but we regularly assist families with an immediate need who don’t have five years to wait and who want to save as much as they can from nursing home costs. It’s easy to see why some professionals might only want to practice long-range planning. It might appear easier on the surface; but appearances can be self-deceiving. People frequently drown in water with a wicked undertow beneath a calm surface. Some trusts can have issues even after five years for reasons all too obvious to those of us who deal with immediate need cases every day. While we frequently do five-year planning ourselves, we start with planning in case bad things happen sooner rather than later—life can be cruelly uncertain. Since helping those facing immediate nursing home costs requires a higher level of skills, it’s hard for us to take someone seriously who claims to be a professional in this area if they aren’t proficient at handling cases of immediate need, or what we call crisis planning cases. Many of our cases are referrals of someone

DeSoto Life September/October 2013

By Ric Cochran

Ric Cochran works for S.A.F.E. Planning, Inc.

already in a nursing home or about to enter one. Some thought planning they did with others protected everything; but they had a rude awakening and were referred to us. I’m reminded of a recent call from someone who advertises their own Medicaid planning services. They even hold seminars; though prior to their call they had never reached out to us to see if they might collaborate or use us as a resource. They have very little Medicaid experience and desperately needed help for a case gone horribly wrong. They were very worried. It was quickly apparent why. Caveat emptor. What about trying to figure it out on your own? There’s an old saying that a doctor who treats himself has a fool for a patient. We often see DIY—Do-It-Yourself planning that blows up because most do-it-yourselfers have about as much experience with Medicaid planning as I have performing heart surgery. (In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve never performed heart surgery.) I’ve performed a lot of DIY repairs myself over the years; most saved a few bucks and a few that made me wish I’d hired a pro to start with. I’ve fixed my dishwasher, garage door opener, dryer, and performed tasks I wasn’t familiar with after watching YouTube videos. I still do. I also wrote a check recently for a computer tech to put back something I should not have deleted. There are some tasks I know to leave alone. I don’t do my own dental work, I pay a CPA to do my taxes, and I don’t perform surgery on myself, my family members, or friends. I even have a personal financial advisor, even though I’m a financial advisor, because it’s hard for any of us to be completely objective about ourselves. Some do-it-yourselfers have to learn by losing lots of money before realizing they’re in way over their head. Some never learn. Others recognize there are tasks best left to pros with many years of experience when the costs for mistakes can be prohibitively high. Ric Cochran writes articles, speaks to groups, and assists families facing the crisis of paying for long-term care. He can be reached at (318) 8693133 at S.A.F.E. Planning. He edits Facebook pages at SAFE-Planning and Visit and “Like” them to receive updates and new information. More information is available at 11

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Matrix Therapy Solutions grows by offering various services


atrix Therapy Solutions, LLC was established in April 2010 by Bridgette Bates, CEO and Occupational Therapist of Stonewall, and Michael Logan, CFO and Occupational Therapy Assistant of Saline. Its modest start included Bates, Logan, and one employee. “We offered contract Occupational Therapy services to local home health agencies, operating out of my home office in Coushatta, holding weekly case conferences around my kitchen table,” Bates said. However, growth was immediate. By August 2010, the third co-owner, Richard Holcombe, COO, Physical Therapist and Board-Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist of Bossier City, joined the company. An office was opened in the shopping center in Coushatta. It featured an Outpatient Therapy Clinic inside a 7,000 sq. ft. fitness center. Physical Therapy services were added to the home health setting, and growth continued. Matrix now employs ten full-time and twenty part-time or prn employees, including Physical and Occupational Therapists, Assistants, Speech Therapists, and Administrative Staff. Outpatient services provide relief from pain, treatment of orthopedic injuries and surgeries, sports injuries, neurologic conditions, and treatment for conditions or injuries affecting a person’s mobility or daily function. Outpatient therapist Regina McPhearson, DPT, MTC, has additional certification in Manual Therapy and sees excellent results using her specialized hands-on techniques. Outpatient services are currently offered in Coushatta, however expansion is on the horizon. The Fitness Center offers cardio and strength training equipment, free weights, an indoor walking track, and personal workout design. It is open to general community membership from 6:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. Monday – Friday. Discounted membership packages are available to corporate groups and local churches. Matrix is also a certified Ideal Protein distributor, a medically designed and professionally supervised weight loss

protocol dispensed only by healthcare professionals. ( Home health therapy services include Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapy, with therapists available in Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Claiborne, DeSoto, Grant, Natchitoches, Red River, Sabine, Webster, and Winn. As the staff grows, the area grows. Matrix Therapy can be requested by name in twenty home health agencies across northwest Louisiana. Therapists work as a team ensuring patients the best care possible. In June 2013, Matrix entered a joint venture with Christus Coushatta Health Care Center to provide inpatient therapy services to Coushatta Hospital. If a patient receives Matrix Therapy during hospitalization at Christus Coushatta, the same therapists can continue their care in the home health setting after discharge, and transition from home health to outpatient therapy if indicated. This relationship greatly improves continuity of care for patients. Matrix takes pride in community involvement. “We’ve held two 5K Walk/Run events to raise funds for Shriner’s Children’s Hospital, and a Biggest Loser competition in 2012 encouraged approximately forty participants to lose weight and get healthy. We co-sponsored a Fitness Fun contest earlier this summer with Christus Coushatta, awarding the winner a free membership to the Fitness Center.” “Our goal is to provide the best patient care experience possible. If we help our patients get better faster, they will send their friends and family to us, and we’ll make a difference in our community. When we take care of our patients, everything else will fall into place,” Bates says. To request therapy services, apply for employment, or request a contract, please contact Matrix Therapy Solutions, LLC at or by phone at (318) 932-7926 or fax at (318) 932-7946. The mailing address is P.O. Box 558, Coushatta LA 71019. Check out their Facebook page and visit their Web site at


Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapy Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapy Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapy Wellness and Supervised Weight Loss Wellness and Supervised Weight Loss

P.O. Box 558 P.O.Wellness Phone (318) 932-7926 and Supervised Weight Loss Box 558 (5024-B Cut-Off Rd.), Coushatta, LA 71019 P.O. Box 558 Phone (318) 932-7926 Phone: (318) 932-7926 • Fax (318) 932-7946 5024-B Cut-Off (318) 932-7946 P.O. Box 558 Rd PhoneFax (318) 932-7926 5024-B Cut-Off Rd Fax (318) 932-7946 • info@ 5024-B Cut-Off Rd Fax (318) 932-7946 Coushatta, LA 71019 Coushatta, LA 71019 Check us out on Facebook Coushatta, LA 71019 Check us out on Facebook Check us out on Facebook

DeSoto Life September/October 2013

Check us out on Facebook


Doing what he loves makes him, and others,

very happy


is daughter, Melody, said I’d know the house when I came to it because, for some reason, pink strips were glued onto the mailbox. “I have no idea why they’re there, but they are,” she’d said with a laugh. I recognized the box a little ways from it, slowed, and turned into the driveway of the modest home on Stonewall/Frierson Road. The morning was beautiful with a bit of breeze, so when I noticed an open window capturing the cool morning air, I knew someone nice and friendly lived here. That’s how it is in DeSoto Parish. If there’s a dog tied and barking as you drive up to a house, chances are it might not be a friendly place—but with an open window, there’s going to be a friendly person inside. Once I parked and got out, he called to me, “Come in.” I didn’t expect what I found: an older gentleman with a shock of gray hair milling about in a shop overflowing with tools, many of them antique. He’d long since turned his garage into a workshop and from the looks of things, he was either really behind in what he had to do or he was loaded with enough work for the next year. We introduced ourselves and shook hands. I glanced around his workshop. What I saw was a museum of old woodworking tools which he uses constantly. John R. Hasty was no ordinary person, I’d decided. He amazed me with his candor, his vocabulary, his quick wit, and his knowledge. “It’s really not much to what I do,” he said—and what an understatement that was. He spoke with a lifelong knowledge of different wood, tools, designs, how to hold and work with a specific tool.... When I commented he must be the best man ever in his field, there came his quick wit. “I’m not better than anybody else,” he said, “I’ve just outlived them.” We talked about folks we both knew, like John LeGrand in Bossier City, who called Hasty a “brilliant, talented man and likely my best friend on the planet,” then the conversation turned to his calling in life: woodworking. He does not refinish furniture, and he will tell you that quickly. “When folks call me about doing work on something for them they ask what it will cost. When I tell them, sometimes they say they can get it cheaper at Walmart. I just tell them to go to Walmart.” For his age, he’s quick with a come-back. He’s lived too long


to put up with much. And there’s this sign on his workshop wall: “You can’t fix stupid.” But don’t use the word “stupid” in a sentence with the name ‘John R. Hasty’—the two do not go together. He learned this ‘trade’ while in school, and has continued throughout his life to bring his God-given ability to work with wood to a level of artistry. If you want it done right the first time—and you have the money—Hasty may do your work. Or he may not. He makes that call. “I’ve never been at a loss for work. I’ve done everything from make a wooden ‘dough bowl’ with a bowl adze to re-creating molding for an 1800s formal home in Shreveport,” he says. He has brought countless pieces of antique furniture back to a useful life, yet you’d never know he’d touched them. He has crafted pieces for customers using cedar and creative genius; he’s replicated broken molding by grinding one or more of his 23 sets of knives to the precise style of molding needed; he’s made chair legs, chair backs, tables, and table legs and, well, the list just goes on and on. However, he does not upholster furniture—so don’t ask him to. Hasty had another life for many years. He owned and operated the largest dairy farm in DeSoto Parish for 40 years. He had a hay-cutting operation where he says he and his crew cut, baled, and hauled 125,000 bales of hay every summer—and he paid his hands daily. He had trucks and hauled whatever needed to be hauled for whoever needed the hauling done. He contracted with the milk association to haul milk, and he hauled pulpwood. He managed Southern Woodcraft and Architectural Millwork for years. …Are you tired yet? As most men have but won’t admit, Hasty has a soft side. Look at pictures of his work. There’s a baby changing table designed with great detail; he brought an antique English cupboard back to life, then built two identical to the original; he filled in a dime-size break in a corner of a period chair but you’d never know he touched it. He’s created cabinetry and various other pieces for a friend’s fishing camp, dovetailing the cabinets by hand. And he’s done this work from this workshop, which at first glance may seem scattered and in disarray, but to him it’s in good order. He can put his hand on any tool, any knife, any hammer, any screwdriver, any screw, or any tack without much effort. Working on a worktable in the middle of his shop, he’s maybe three feet or less away from anything he needs.

DeSoto Life September/October 2013

Hasty points out dental work he created for a cabinet. A couple of knives Hasty made which he uses for molding. A chair lies waiting in Hasty’s shop for repair to a corner problem. He says he’s built and sold a lot of Bible Boxes. “It’s a box where families a long time ago put their Bibles and important papers and they kept it by the front door in case of fire. You know they didn’t have fire trucks much back then. If their house started burning, they could grab the box and go out the door and their papers and Bible would be safe.” He’s also built a lot of beautifully designed church podiums. It stands to reason when you build something to protect the Bible, and you build something to be used to help people understand the Bible, you gotta have some inside understanding on who the Bible is about. That could be why, at 78 and with Parkinson’s Disease, John R. Hasty is content doing what he was called to do: work with wood like Jesus did.

DeSoto Life September/October 2013


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DeSoto Life September/October 2013

Group reads Bible through at State Capitol over July 4th weekend


he activities planned for a weekend trip to Baton Rouge began months before the trip,” said Felicia Waring, known in the area as the co-owner of Sunrise Cookies. “It began with a vision that this group of ladies from DeSoto Parish would go to Baton Rouge and read the Bible in its entirety at the Capitol.” According to Waring, State Representative Richard Burford sent information to allow the group to obtain permission to set up an awning and read the Bible and pray for local, state, and national governments as well as those of all the countries in the world. “Approval was received okaying an area on the Capitol Grounds that suited our needs,” Ginger McBride from Grand Cane said. “In addition, Senator Sherri Buffington offered her apartment to us for the extent of the weekend. We had envisioned an air mattress in the back of a vehicle, a pack of wet wipes, and trips to McDonald’s to take care of our needs,” McBride said. “An apartment right across the street from the Capital was a blessing ‘over the top.’” McBride continued, “We knew we’d need a minimum number of readers, but others who wanted to participate would be welcome to do so. We put the word out to pastors asking them to share this with their churches. We then e-mailed senators and representatives and their spouses asking for their involvement. Some came, others shared that they would not be able to but they thought it was a great idea. However, this idea was not original, in fact a different group had done the same thing five years ago,” McBride said. This time there were eight readers who participated in reading the Bible—Genesis through Revelation—in 92-and-a-half hours. Sandy Burford, Representative Burford’s wife, had arrived early to make sure things were in order for the group’s arrival. “We arrived at 6:00 p.m., driving down after our team members had put in a half-day at their respective jobs,” McBride said. “We were able to rotate reading, praying, eating, and sleeping. As some were reading, others were praying for our friends, families, businesses, churches, pastors, military, schools, and education system. We prayed corporate prayers; we prayed for individuals. We prayed for healing of the sick. We prayed for difficult decisions that our families and friends needed to make. We prayed for

DeSoto Life September/October 2013

the decisions that are being made in our local, state, and national governments and the people responsible for making those decisions. Throughout the day and night the capitol police stopped by to ask us if we were okay and if we needed anything. They paid close attention to us and kept us safe. “On our Capitol’s steps are carved the names of every state in the United States. The group stood on each step and prayed for that state and the people we knew there. At one time we took a world globe and prayed for every country and for the people that we knew in those countries. In addition, friends of ours in other states and those all over the world were praying and reading with us as they kept up with us on Facebook.” The participants in this event reported they’d spent a glorious time enjoying the blessing of the Lord. “God sent mild temperatures and heavenly breezes,” McBride noted, “Very atypical for July in Louisiana. So this challenge goes out to everyone from this group of readers: “Do something radical for Jesus because you can. Watch God show up and show out as you dedicate your time spent to Him. Write down the God-things that happen in government at the local, state, and national level. Write down the God-things that happen for you, your family, and friends: physical, relational, mental, and emotional healings, giving God the glory. Make it your own story as you tell others that our God is real and He can make a difference in the world today.”


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DeSoto Life September/October 2013

Mansfield High School FBLA Chapter 2140 National Conference 2013 – Igniting Innovation


ansfield High School FBLA students Victoria Horton, Marcus Pegues, and Reginald Robinson competed in the Future Business Leaders of America National Leadership Conference held in Anaheim, California. These students previously placed first in state competition held earlier this year in Lafayette, Louisiana in the category of Business Financial Plan. This first-place win allowed them the opportunity to compete in the national conference against students across our nation including Puerto Rico, Haiti, and the Virgin Islands. With approximately 9,000 students, advisors, and family members attending the conference, students had an opportunity to network with other FBLA members from other states and compete in over 50 individual and team events. The trip included sight-seeing, competitive events, workshops, and general sessions. Accompanying MHS FBLA students was Mrs. Rose Jackson, FBLA Adviser, whose pride spilled over with the work these students did. “We are so proud of our FBLA chapter and the accomplishments of our students, and we look forward to the coming school year. We want to encourage new members to join and old members to get on board for next summer’s conference to be held in Nashville, Tennessee.” Annual membership fee is $15.00.

Pegues, Robinson, and Horton as voting delegates, pictured in front of the Anaheim Convention Center.

Families prepare to send students to FBLA National Conference. Lombard Street in San Francisco is billed as the world’s most crooked street. Golden Gate Bridge in background.

DeSoto Life September/October 2013



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DeSoto Life September/October 2013

Introducing Todd Eppler, New CEO of DeSoto Regional Health System


f there is one thing that can be said about Todd Eppler, newly named Chief Executive Officer of DeSoto Regional Medical System, it’s that he is not one to wait to make things happen and and to start moving. To introduce him would be to tell you he grew up in Natchitoches and, after graduating from Natchitoches Central High in 1982, attended Northwestern for 2 years. Eppler then enlisted in the US Air Force to begin a career as an avionic communications system technician in Alaska, during which time he completed his bachelor’s degree in business administration and earned a commission to serve in the health care administration field. Eppler achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and his Air Force journey culminated at Barksdale AFB in Louisiana after 21 years of service. But that’s not all, Eppler also obtained a master’s degree in healthcare administration from the University of Alabama in Birmingham and is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives. Following that, his goal was to settle in the Shreveport area and complete a second career in healthcare management. He successfully earned a position with WillisKnighton Health System and after serving 18 months as Assistant Vice President for Support Services, he was selected to lead Springhill Medical Center (SMC) as Chief Executive Officer. He led SMC for almost five years before taking his current position as CEO at DeSoto Regional Health System. In late July, Eppler formed a Community Advisory Committee to focus on the healthcare needs of the entire area. This committee is made up folks from various parts of DeSoto Parish who work in the healthcare field, in social services, and are part of the business community.

DeSoto Life September/October 2013

“In essence, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires that all 501(C) (3) hospitals conduct a community health needs assessment every three years and provides for fines if it is not completed,” Eppler said. “Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) has recommended the use of a toolkit created by the Oklahoma State University which recommends the following process: assign a Steering Committee consisting of 3-5 members including hospital CEO, marketing personnel, health department representative, hospital board members, and others as deemed necessary. We must select members for a Community Advisory Committee and conduct at least three meetings with the committee to assess community needs. Using demographic and economic data provided by DHH to ensure all communities, including the underserved, within our service area are represented and needs are identified. When that’s done, we will publish a report to address all the needs identified in the process,” he said. “We do not have to meet every need, but we have to state our plan for why we can’t meet each need.” “I am excited to be here at this hospital and here in DeSoto Parish,” he said. “I’m ready to not only be instrumental in providing quality healthcare to this area, but to become acquainted with folks who live and work here and to help us all realize the value and vitality of this medical center and to realize the potential of DeSoto Regional Health System to serve the entire area when our services are needed.” Todd met his wife, Janet, while working at WillisKnighton and they were married in July 2012. Todd and Janet live in Bossier City and have four grown children and two beautiful grandchildren with a third due in September.


Amiya, TaNiya, and JaKiya, 7-year-old second graders at Logansport Elementary. Their parents are Demicko and Krystal Gray.


DeSoto Life September/October 2013



DeSoto Life September/October 2013


24 DeSoto Lifestyle • DeSoto Regional Health System

DeSoto Life September/October 2013

Celebrat ion O

D eSoto Parish of Educators

n August 1, with spirited music playing in the background, Mansfield Middle School’s multipurpose room overflowed with laughter, hugs, lively conversations, and excitement as each school’s staff greeted the others. A kaleidoscope of colorful shirts worn by school staff showcasing school pride added a sense of celebration to the morning. Brightly colored shirts declaring the school’s mantra worn by one school could not go unnoticed—the school whose demographics consist, primarily, of female educators, displayed its sense of school pride and style, as staff members modeled eye-catching, shocking pink attire. Others wore a single-designed shirt that sent the message of unity (Pk-12), even though each school is on a separate campus. As the music quieted, conversations ceased and all directed their attention to the podium to hear expectations of what this new school year will hold. Teachers in our school system were recognized and applauded for jobs well done in this first Celebration of Educators in DeSoto Parish. Along with the teachers came various staff, district personnel, and local dignitaries to join in the celebration. The North DeSoto High School JROTC Color Guard posted colors to begin the program and tears were in the eyes of many as Demetri Hill and Infiniti Williams of Mansfield High School sang the National Anthem. Applause all but

iff Arbuckle to increase the presence of Resource Officers stationed at each school. Sheriff Arbuckle and the School Resource Officers showed a strong presence of support as they joined those in attendance to celebrate and support the teachers. The District’s mission statement: “DeSoto serves to care for our students, to ensure their learning, and to celebrate their graduation as citizens prepared to transform their dreams into realities” served as the foundation of Superintendent Brumley’s words of encouragement. He eloquently blended the developmental stages of a giraffe with the concepts of caring, ensuring, and celebrating, and humorously illustrated what happens with students when these concepts set the stage for the daily work of each district employee. In summary, he stated that all students have a dream for the future and he expects teachers and staff to help students set that dream into motion in PreK and celebrate the realities of that dream upon their graduation. He further clarified his remarks by stating that a child entering PreK this year should know that they will be a graduate of 2027! Inspired by Dr. Brumley’s presentation just as the morning started, the one-hour event ended on a high note with the tune “Celebration” playing as the audience left the auditorium to report to their schools. In was clear that spirits were high and all were inspired to embrace the

A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every person leaves a mark. What will your blueprint be on the educational system of DeSoto Parish? lifted the ceiling when this young, talented duo raised their voices in perfect harmony. Lillie Giles, Supervisor of Administration, organized the event and had several speakers who lifted the spirits of all present sharing the successes of the previous school year. Deb Gamble, Director of Human Resources, made sure everyone knew what DeSoto schools had accomplished in the past year and referenced DeSoto School System not only as a trailblazer, but a dust-maker. Kathy Noel, Director of Student Learning, made sure everyone knew that DeSoto’s overall scores were among the best in the state. School board members L. J. Mayweather, Jr., Dudley Glenn, Johnny Haynes, Coday Johnston, and Tommy Craig spoke of the expectation of a great school year for 2013 performance. Police Jurors Richard Fuller and Reggie Roe were joined by Alderman Nicholas Gasper of Stonewall to express support and encouragement for the coming year. Other community dignitaries included Pastor Ron McClellan of Gloster Baptist; Pastor Amado Santos of the Stanley community; Ronnie Morris, Pastor of Higher Ground Ministries; Jimbo Davlin of the North DeSoto community; and Mansfield Chief of Police Joseph Pratt and Brooke Lowe of MADD. Brenda Hall and Tommie Crawford of DeSoto Parish Chamber of Commerce were also on hand to celebrate the District’s success and show support for teachers for the coming school year. Dr. Cade Brumley, Superintendent, champions “students’ safety” as employees’ first responsibility and “student learning” as top priority. To that end, he has worked with his administrative staff and Sher-

DeSoto Life September/October 2013

mission of the school district, as many danced their way out of the door and/or did a sing-along with the music! Clay J. Corley, Deputy Network Leader, LA. Dept. of Education in Baton Rouge, in the audience for the occasion, gave the following quote about the morning Celebration of Educators in DeSoto Parish: “Congratulations on such an awesome, inspiring opening session. I was truly energized by the attitude and enthusiasm by all involved. As I travel the state and see more of what goes on throughout districts and schools, it is more evident to me now than ever before that DeSoto Parish has one of the very best school systems in the state. Please continue to include me in events such as these as well as other opportunities to assist learn and grow along with you all.” “We are proud of our District,” said Mrs. Giles. However, we know that change is a constant in education. We’re preparing students for jobs that don’t exist today. Therefore, it is critical that parents and communities at large partner with the schools to help ensure that all students get the learning needed to make their dream a reality. Our students are our future, thus their dreams should also be a part of our dreams,” she added. The system welcomes help. Get involved in the schools of DeSoto Parish. Perhaps you can adopt a school or you may have a specialized talent that you can share with students. Better yet, visit the school principal to inquire about the needs of their school; you may have a talent that can be tailored to meet their need. If in doubt, call Ms. Giles, Supervisor of Administration, at (318) 872-2836. 25

A New Day Dawns on Education in DeSoto



DeSoto Life September/October 2013

DeSot o Parish School System “N ew teachers… look to your right, to your left, in front, and behind you. Recognize many of these faces. I’ll tell you something about these individuals: On any given day—weekends, early mornings, late evenings—I can pass by one of our schools and their cars will be parked there. They will be in the school preparing, working for the cause of student achievement. They do not consider “student achievement” as the latest catch phrase. They are the ENGINE that drives the instructional forces; they choose to make a difference,” stated Deb Gamble, Director of Human Resources, DeSoto Parish School System, to the teachers gathered before her at the recent celebratory event. “Teachers encourage students and cheer them on for the LEAP, ACT, and the End-of-Course exams, for athletics, choir,

and TOPS. They impact students through their love and care to have a chance at a productive future. Good teaching cannot necessarily be equated with technique. It comes from the integrity of the teacher, from his or her relationship to subject and students. “These colleagues have accepted the challenge to TEACH; and not only the courage to teach, but the courage to teach in DeSoto. DeSoto Teachers LEAD because DeSoto makes Dust. “New Teachers, we welcome you into the Family of DeSoto Teachers. There are challenges ahead. You are seated amidst the most dynamic teachers in the teaching field. Just as these teachers cheer on the students they teach, they will also be there for you to cheer you on. They want you to succeed—because if you succeed, our students will succeed.”

Improved School Stats • C urrent official data shows DeSoto has highly effective teachers with value-added results: Overall DeSoto stands at 18.26% versus State of Louisiana at 9.02%. Expect these numbers to rise to around 23% when next results are published. • D eSoto in Top Ten of Most Improved Districts – LEAP/iLeap/EOC.

• S trong and comprehensive at and across all grades and recipient of Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Grant.

• D eSoto was at state average with 2013 Leap and iLeap proficiency averages for first time in history.

• D eSoto currently holds title “Most Improved District” in the State with performance scores.

• A DeSoto Parish School was named recently as a Top 10 School in the State for Improving AP scores of 3+.

DeSoto Life September/October 2013

• D eSoto improved in the percentage of 3+ AP Scores 2012-2013.



DeSoto Life September/October 2013

Learning Center developed at small ranch


utdoor learning has always been an effective learning venue for children and adults alike, especially individuals who are disabled and confined to the indoors. With this thought in mind, Charles and Prenella Adams have developed a small ranch into a Learning Center with ease of access for children, adults, and the elderly. Disabled individuals do not need to leave their vehicle to observe the specimen animals including horses, cattle, goats, sheep, hogs, wildlife, and other ecosystems. The Adamses are retired agriculture employees with a combined total of 70 years of employment with the Soil Conservation Service, Natural Resources Conservation and Farm Service Agency. They own a small ranch five miles north of Logansport off of Highway 5. Directional signs leading to the Learning Center will indicate when the center is open or closed. Guided tours will be available starting September 1, 2013. Schools are encouraged to make reservations as soon as possible so that scheduling can be confirmed for the new school year. For more information, calls can be made to (318) 300-8608. The grand opening for late August 2013 will be announced.

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DeSoto Life September/October 2013


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DeSoto Life September/October 2013

Fire District 9 Ladies Auxiliary responds to community needs


rierson is a busy, a fast-growing community that still remains unincorporated. Life goes on at a steady pace most of the time. Continuing truck traffic covering various gas and oil wells situated in that part of the parish gnarled traffic hourly when the shale was in its heyday. The winding curve south of the only store in Frierson became such a safety threat that locals complained to and finally got of the attention of LA DOTD which is now in the midst of straightening the curve. Waterworks #1 became involved because of the new direction the road would take, requiring water mains to be relocated. Farmland on either side of the road in either direction is home to a peach orchard bustling with sales in late summer, a blueberry farm popular both for “u-pick” customers and nostalgic looks to the past with its old buildings and farm equipment, a cabinet shop, a Christmas tree farm, a tire store where tires are bought or fixed, a cabinet shop, a taxidermist, and a sprinkling of other businesses as Highway 175 meanders north toward I-49 and Mansfield to the south. For folks unfamiliar with this area, they drive through Frierson with hardly a notice; however, it’s not now and never will be a community to be taken for granted. Many delights are found in this quiet community. Frierson Baptist Church has a new lease on life with a new style, an enlarged sanctuary, stained glass windows, and among other niceties, a playground for local children. Fire District 9 used sales tax dollars which came into its coffers from shale operations to build and equip a new central station and make number upgrades to the facility. One might say that over the years, a number of changes have occurred in Frierson for whatever reason, but one thing has remained constant. The Ladies Auxiliary of the Fire District began years ago but continues with its original intent: to help the firefighters and to serve the community. They have held true to their commitment. Anywhere from 15-30 ladies meet monthly at the Fire Station to take care of business, and hold rummage sales or other forms of fund-raisers. Funds from such endeavors help people who need help. If there’s a fire, the ladies rise to the occasion with food, clothing, and necessities of life that can meet a family’s needs. They host a political forum during election years enabling people from all

around their area to meet and talk to politicians. At times—depending on the political climate—these forums have had 100 to 200 folks attend. Politicians are put on the spot during such forums. Names of ladies who have passed away, yet had been active in the auxiliary, are listed on a plaque hung in the room for all to see— names like Jamie Lou Walker, Pearl Fuller, Charlotte Cawthorne, Arbelle Reynolds, Lizzie Williams, Mae McCall, Rebecca Gage, Betty Harris, and Josie McCloskey. Meals consist of homemade casseroles, salads, and desserts. Peach tea is served in gracious quantities. Minutes of the previous meeting are read and approved; a financial report is given and a need list, which often is long, is read with members agreeing to meet the needs. Prayers are uttered for needs in and out of the community. It’s a time for visiting and enjoying a noon meal with a family of dedicated, talented, compassionate ladies with one goal: to honor the past and make the present memorable. On meeting day, there’ll be no room to park near the Fire House; there’ll be chatter heard as one nears the front door; and there’ll be hugs and handshakes for everyone. As far as these ladies are concerned, Frierson is the place that matters most. It’s home. It is their turf. It is their time to shine. And shine they do—for all of them are the stars on this stage.

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DeSoto Life September/October 2013

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BEULAH BAPTIST CHURCH:1888-2013 Focusing on growth, blessings with proposed new sanctuary


eulah, the land written of by Paul Bunyan, in “Pilgrim’s Progress,” was where he ended his life’s journey and rested in blissful fellowship with his Lord and brethren. The name “Beulah” means “a beautiful union” or “marriage,” referring to the blessed union of the saints. In naming their new fellowship Beulah Baptist Church, the first members recognized their unity in Spirit and their fellowship in the love of Christ. They anticipated a sweet harmony that would last beyond their lives for as long as Beulah Church existed. They could not have chosen a better name. Beulah Baptist Church was formed around 1888 with six families: the George Norris family, two Kidd families, and the Palmer family left their home church, Union Springs Church, now “Old Union,” to establish a place to worship nearer their homes. They met first in a log building, a schoolhouse, near a hilltop. For the sake of those living further south, a new building was erected a half mile south of the original meeting place. This building, their sanctuary, is the same one used today for worship. Distance mattered when folks walked to church, whatever the weather, women in long skirts and high necklines, men in stiff Sunday suits. At best, they only had wagons to ride in. They met once or twice monthly for worship and prayer meeting and quarterly for business meetings or “conference.” Electricity and telephones were nonexistent. Church and community were the center of everyone’s lives. The church grew quickly from 25 to over 75 members. The first pastor was Rev. A. G. Kidd, earning $50 to $75 annually, often paid with a chicken or fruits of a good crop. Beulah Baptist Church’s first members were hardworking, God-fearing folks who believed in order and discipline but also love and forgiveness, characteristics seen in the minutes of conferences. Meetings were conducted per strict rules of decorum, with none absent without permission. The church was concerned about the purity of its fellowship. Often members who’d cast shadows on its reputation weren’t allowed to participate as members in good standing until they apologized in writing. The wayward one was always welcomed back and restored to full rights of membership. By the turn of the century, Beulah Baptist Church was extending the love of Christ by generous contributions. Members participated in the ministries of the Grand Cane Association, gave freely to Southern Baptist missions, and supported the orphanage and Baptist College in Pineville. In 1909, the church made concentrated efforts to check on all of its members to see how they were getting along and to inquire if they were saved or lost. As a result, from 1910-1920, a period which saw the first world war, Beulah Baptist waged a war itself, a march of Christian soldiers advancing the kingdom of God. A great revival followed. In 1912, the meeting is said to have left the church “greatly strengthened and revived.” Rev. J. R. Strother helped the pastor, and excellent sermons were well received. Ten were added to the church, seven by baptism. In 1913, Bro. D. T. Brown and T. J. Hice “labored earnestly” for the Master at this place. In 1914, Rev. J. M. Pate assisted and preached soul-inspiring sermons morning and night. 32

Later the church had a two- or three-day revival meeting with Rev. A. P. Durham of Pineville preaching, which brought fellowship and unity to a greater level than seen in years. There were 20 additions, 16 by baptism. In those days, the ladies wearing shirtwaists and broad hats entered the two front doors of the church house with husbands or beaus. Later, two classrooms in the front of the church replaced the two entrances and a double door was installed. Kerosene lanterns that hissed overhead were later replaced by electric lights. Then, as many as could crowded on wooden seats nearest the front of the church in the winter to stay warm by being close to the pot-bellied stove. Those who remember those days recall the stove always seemed to heat up just as services ended. In the summer, windows were raised and handheld fans were used. Baptisms were done in the creek. The 1920s brought great change. This was a decade of youthful enthusiasm, the seeking of identity, action and reaction socially and morally, bobbed hair, knee-length dresses, Prohibition, and gangsters. Farm income rose. Tractors, automobiles, and telephones impacted rural life. The moral fabric of society began to tear, starting in urban centers but reaching rural communities. Beulah Baptist Church reacted with zeal. Membership reached approximately 150, with about 75 in Sunday School and 28 were added during a revival held in August with Bro. R. L. Mercer preaching. In the twenties, one adult class divided into two classes, one for men and one for women, and deacons were ordained. There were church officers and Sunday School classes for every age group, including the cradle roll. The church had an organ and a piano, new pews, and new wallpaper. It was a time of arbor meetings, great outdoor revivals lasting two weeks at a time with Beulah Baptist Church’s old and new facilities.

DeSoto Life September/October 2013

sermons twice each evening. A decade of prosperity crashed in the 1930s depression. Those were hard times for the nation, the community, and the church. Many were jobless, homeless, without food, and without hope for the future. Members of Beulah Baptist Church had their share of suffering, but steadfastly endured, looking to Jesus for their salvation and encouraging one another in the faith. Epidemics ravaged the community. A revival scheduled to begin in August 1930 with Sunday dinner on the grounds was postponed due to a wave of infantile paralysis. In 1933, the church cleared and fenced a place for a cemetery. The church’s income and attendance fluctuated greatly during the ’30s. The pastor’s salary was cut in half, then doubled and doubled again, then cut into fourths. The church sold its organ for ten dollars. Less than half of the membership attended. By 1934, Sunday school had only 29 enrolled. But in 1936, the church had a meeting where Rev. A. P. Durham preached a message “reviving the hearts of attending members.” Six were baptized and four were baptized after the revival in 1937 that Rev. L. H. Gill preached. In August 1938, Beulah had a three-day meeting where, per the minutes, the church was filled for the first time in years with visits from members of former days. From 1940-1949, the church met challenges with dedication. World War II claimed the lives of some church members. In 1940 Beulah’s own son, G. B. Norris, was ordained. Revivals resulted in 14 baptisms. Sunday School enrollment reached nearly 40, and Training Union 37. Sunday School rooms were added. Contributions went to missions, charities, and the Associational Scholarship Fund. Calm prosperity followed with a return to traditional values.

The church, however, lacked the unity of previous decades. There was a tendency to postpone decisions for lack of a unified direction. The church began calling young, inexperienced pastors which gave good men experience in preaching, but didn’t afford strong leadership. The church conducted a census to ascertain the spiritual needs of the community. It held successful Vacation Bible schools. In 1953, Beulah ordained James H. Morton, Jr. He later preached in a revival at the church in 1957. The 1960s at Beulah brought emphasis on youth and community affairs. The church began social recreation and sponsored a music class. A fellowship hall was added which became the community center. Beulah Baptist activity supported other local area churches. Members contributed to the needs of those suffering misfortune and held prayer meetings before revivals. The sixties brought “youth revivals” to reach young people. In July 1969, the church got air conditioners. Then it built a new building to use as a community voting place. Through the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, many improvements were added to the church facility. In June 2000, the church began Friday night singings, which continue to this day. 2003 saw new kitchen appliances, a cry room, and the kitchen remodeled. From 2005 to 2011 many upgrades were made to better accommodate the changing church’s needs. Then four acres were donated by a family for a new sanctuary. In 2012 the timber was sold and the land cleared. July 2012 brought a new pastor, Bro. David Permenter and wife, Brenda. In January 2013, a vote started the process of building a new sanctuary. The church doors have been open for 125 years through good times and bad. We thank God for opportunities to serve.


Sunday School .....................................................................10:00 a.m. Morning Worship ................................................................11:00 a.m. Evening Worship ...................................................................6:00 p.m. Wednesday Bible Study .........................................................6:00 p.m. Wednesday “Kids for Christ”..................................................6:00 p.m. Bro. David Permenter, Pastor | Joyce Love - Choir Director/Pianist | Roger Whitlock - Song Leader

Church (318) 872-9007 | Pastor (318) 858-3421 Monthly Singing 2nd Friday night of every month at 7:00 p.m.

DeSoto Life September/October 2013


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...a clean


he moon appeared as a sliver of silver in the blue-gray evening sky. Clouds that had been blood red were turning into black puff balls. The shadows brought a sharp tingling coolness to the air. A young bull elk scampered out into the small meadow much like a teenage boy who doesn’t know exactly where he’s going, but he’s gotta get there in a hurry. Behind the young elk, very cautiously and sensing every sound, stepped the big one—looking…testing the wind, listening for the sounds of danger like the experienced old man that he was—out came a big dark-horned 6x6 bull. He’d seen other bulls rush toward the sound of a young cow call and never return. Now focusing on the big one’s shoulder, cheek down on the stock, safety off, waiting for one more step, I was aware that my heart was beating in my ears. I swear I’d squeezed the trigger. Recoil, clap of noise… back down onto the scope only to see the bull swap ends and lunge back into the thick stand of timber. I could hear the cows breaking limbs as they ran away and back into the aspens. There was very little light left and I was walking fast, breathing hard, to the place where the bull had stood. My mind was racing, thinking…asking myself over and over…was it a good shot? At only a little over a hundred yards…downhill—I could not have missed something that big. Six of us had flown out of Shreveport to Missoula, Montana for our first ever mountain horseback elk hunt. September 26, still hot as blazes in Louisiana, was crispy cool as we stepped outside the small Missoula airport. Our outfitter was waiting to take us down to Hamilton for the night. The next morning we were reloaded and driven up over Lolo Pass into Idaho, headed for our part of the Sel-way-Bitterroot wilderness area. At the designated area, we all carried our baggage and guns across a foot-traffic bridge over the Locha River to a shed and corral where our horses were saddled and waiting. Soon we were all mounted and following a pack train along the rushing river up into hunting country. Idaho’s Bitterroot is a beautiful, clean wilderness area, untouched and unchanged since the mountain men came to it in the early 1800s looking for beaver. It is a vast wild country with high ridges that drop off into steep-walled canyons. We were told that the difficulty in hunting the country meant that bulls were able to grow to an old age with enormous trophy racks…and that’s what we’d come for. For the first several days the weather was too warm, but on the third night our small radio promised light snow in the higher elevations. Sometime after midnight I stepped barefoot out of my tent into two inches of fresh snow with big fluffy flakes falling down onto anything outside the tent. Then I slipped back into my sleeping bag, with my last thought being: okay, elk, now we have the advantage. For the next three days we rode miles and saw plenty of tracks in the snow, yet no one could get a shot at a bull. On the fourth morning, Gordon, the head guide, another hunter, and myself, rode down a drainage creek several miles away from camp. We paused and as Gordon was studying a very steep slope with a dab of uncertainty, I casually asked, “You’re not thinking about taking these horses up there, are you?” His answer, “Why sure…just loosen your rein and let your horse follow me. If he starts to fall and roll over, just step off.” Sure, I thought

DeSoto Life September/October 2013

By Ed Gunter

to myself but making no audible comment. Up we went. I realized then these mountain horses would go where us flatlanders would not think of going. We rode in a zig-zag pattern, like a sailing ship tacking into the wind. At the top was a beautiful series of small, flat meadows that reminded me of stair steps, broken by fingers of thick timber. A ring of dense alders grew around the mountain like an impenetrable thick hedge blocking traffic except where the elk had worked a tunnel through it. We tied our horses and walked through the tunnel, up the mountain, to a fresh elk wallow. It was riddled with tracks and horned-up mud and smelled of elk urine and musk. Some ninety-five yards up the mountain in a perfect spot, a mature pine had fallen, leaving upturned roots and a good hiding spot overlooking the wallow. Gordon intended for me to hunt there until dark. We went back down to the tunnel through the alders, walked to our horses, and rode off about a mile for lunch. The plan was for me to ease back up there around 2 o’clock and cut a couple of small fir trees to pile in front of me to make a small hide that would overlook the wallow. The weather was perfect with wind coming up the mountain from the wallow to me. I was well hidden behind the two small firs that I’d cut and placed in front of me. Eventually seven came out, walking slowly across the small meadow toward the opening through the alders. When I shot at the big bull, everything froze for a minute…then action as elk swapped ends and lunged over downed timber to disappear around the mountain, then cold stillness. My heart was pumping very hard as I arrived breathless to where the bull had stood to look for blood. It would be very dark in fifteen minutes or less, but I could see where the bull spun, then jumped back into the trees. I told myself to calm down, get my breath under control, and stop the panic mode. I knew I was a good tracker…but I had to slow down, look up on the bushes for bright red spots. I could not have missed something that size. Replay the shot in my mind, I told myself…walk down the trail the bulls had come out on…remember, there are bears and long-tailed cats up here. I knew if I didn’t find the bull tonight, changes of finding it tomorrow were zero. If you’ve ever been in this situation, you know exactly how I felt. After an hour’s search with a flashlight and finding no sign of a hit, in the dark and in the cold, it was time to ride back to camp and confess to my friends. Now would be the time when a man finds out whether he is honest or not. Get ready for the moment of truth, I told myself. When I rode across the rushing waters of the mountain creek beside the camp, the guide said, “Oh, good, you are very late, but safe. Come on in and eat dinner.” No one asked if I’d had a shot, or even if I had seen any elk. All of these years I have wondered what I would have said if someone had asked, “Was that your shot we heard?” I believe I would have told the truth: “A clean miss.” 35

Do you believe in Bigfoot or scoff at the notion?

Movie producers believe…one claims proof at the hands of state trooper


“It chased me all the way to my pickup.” ~Mike Wooley

hat would you think if you told a person that you’d seen something strange, or heard something very unusual, and they refused to believe you? That’s what’s happened for years in and around Northwest Louisiana and particularly DeSoto Parish. Folks have reported sightings of what is commonly known as “Bigfoot,” yet few believe their stories. “Oh, yes. I saw one on Nash Road,” one man who lives on Tyler Road in Logansport said. “I seen it when I was coming home one evening. It was a big black thing laying on the side of the road as I got close to the bridge on Nash Road. I thought it was a cow. As I got closer, it got up and ran into the woods. It was big.” …Spoken in absolute honesty. One person you’d definitely have every reason to believe would be Brenda Hall of Mansfield. She is Director of the DeSoto Parish Chamber of Commerce. You would expect no less than truth and honesty from such a person in such a position. So…what do you do with that? Well, if you’re a movie maker with a successful production on Bigfoot under your belt, you’re ready for a sequel—and producers hope to make the movie in DeSoto Parish. When two independent movie producers attended the recent Chamber of Commerce luncheon/meeting, they were greeted by Hall who, upon finding out they were there to explain their project and solicit support for the movie they hope to produce that will further the legend of Bigfoot, Hall said she’d seen one. “Oh yes,” she said. “We saw one when we all lived on the George Hunt Road…out where the pond is. I heard it, too.” What would you do when a man shows you castings of a footprint of three different sized Bigfoots? Gotta believe the castings came from somewhere. Mike Wooley of Keachi area, who portrayed Bigfoot in an earlier production in Oil City set for release in October, has the castings…one he says was made by himself and one was made by a State Trooper. Do you generally believe state troopers? He also has a picture taken of one from his deer stand. “It chased me all the way to my pickup,” Wooley said. A film on the order of this one, made in this area, could have a real financial impact. On average, a feature film in an area of this size generally brings a $7 million boost to the economy.


Whether you believe or not, it is foolish to doubt the possibility that one exists—or that many exist—in DeSoto’s forested areas, sloughs, and bottoms. Some say when the Shale Operations began, the activity that followed—with numerous trucks and equipment and people pouring into the wooded areas—literally displaced the Bigfoots that called those woods “home.” These are the stories that have become legends and although they quieten down occasionally, they never seem to actually go away. DeSoto Life magazine editor/publisher toured DeSoto Parish areas with actor and producer Wooley and Debi McMartin, both independent producers looking for sites in the parish that would best portray Bigfoot habitats and afford ‘scary’ sites for movie making. And several sites met or passed their expectations for scary, dark, eerie places. “DeSoto has many suitable places for such a movie,” McMartin said on her trip down Highway 191 to Clear Lake. “Salvinia on Clear Lake makes it impossible to get a boat in, but if we keep looking, we’ll find the right place…and we might even find Bigfoot following in our steps.” If one were filmed here, it would be a sequel to Skookum, the Hunt for Bigfoot. It would be an independently produced film shot in and around North Louisiana, in the East Texas area, and the Sabine River area. The film was inspired by Mike Wooley’s real life encounter with Bigfoot while hunting in DeSoto Parish. The film made is currently slated for production in April 2014. The cast of seasoned talent includes Paul Logan, star of “Code Red”; Ashton Leigh, “Swamp Shark”; Shane Dzicek, “The Surrogates”; Gerald and Kitten Dowden, “Bayou Billionaires”; Dr. Jeff Meldrum of Discovery Channel; History Channel; and the world’s leading Bigfoot research scientists, David Joseph Martinez and Tom Malloy. Three-time Grammy nominated Louisiana musicians Ivy and Timmy Dugas (former members of the Wayne Toups Band) wrote and composed the music specifically for Skookum, The Hunt for Bigfoot. Grant James, from the cast of the original Legend of Boggy Creek, will narrate the film. Are you a believer or a scoffer? Comments please to or Edna Wheless on Facebook.

DeSoto Life September/October 2013

DeSoto Life September/October 2013


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DeSoto Life September/October 2013

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DeSoto Life September/October 2013

Shooting Range near Frierson family oriented learning and training facility – A fit place for guys, gals, kids, and friends


hen Joe Beaubouef decided to open a shooting range in DeSoto Parish, little did he realize after opening it in 2007, he would have 800-plus members with about half of the membership being divided between individuals and families, or that he’d have folks from everywhere inside and outside the area to come to enjoy the range, or that he’d have people flying in to use it on a regular basis. But that’s now the status of Long Range Alley Gun Club just off Highway 175 north of Mansfield. It’s a pretty busy place and it has not stopped growing. Beaubouef has seen and sincerely appreciates the enthusiasm shown for the gun range and activities that it provides for folks from far and near. Long Range Alley Gun Club is a place for law enforcement officers to train in a real-life scenario using ‘shoot houses’ provided by the alley. It’s the place where literally hundreds of 4-H Club members from across the state come annually to participate in various competitive events. It’s the place where 20 or 30 members of the South Central Shooters Club participate in 50-caliber matches in the spring and fall on the 1000 yard range. And that’s not all. Members of the National Rifle Association come in the spring and fall to sharpen their skills. Because Long Range Alley Gun Club is affiliated with the Cowboy Action Matches, the first Saturday of each month 20 or more folks come to participate in what is becoming the fastest growing sport in the nation. Families participate in this event dressed in Old West style clothing, and with it being a familyoriented event, they build lifelong friendships along the way. They come here because of the ‘great outdoors’ where there is plenty of space to park and to shoot. But it’s not entirely all about the events that draw unbelievable crowds during the year, it’s here the shooters can buy weapons, choosing from a variety of firearms, ammunition, supplies, accessories, and even be trained in concealed carry classes which are held regularly in a classroom setting. The cost for the concealed carry class is $125, classes are held monthly, participants must bring a handgun with outside pants holster, 50 rounds of ammunition, and a photo ID. Participants will be fingerprinted; all notary work is taken care of at the site and all paperwork is completed on site.

DeSoto Life September/October 2013

Long Range Alley Gun Club is focused on providing its members a high-quality shooting range experience on a site that is available seven days a week. And it is the only 1000-yard range in the State of Louisiana that is available to members seven days a week. It’s an easy place to find. Travel north of Mansfield on LA Highway 175, turn right onto Highway 5 past EXCO, cross I-49, and turn left onto the site. The facility is equipped with a monitor alarm system, a video camera, and 24/7 on-the-premises personnel. It maintains a selection of the most popular brand rifles, handguns, and accessories, including holsters, scopes, and targets. As to its future? Beaubeouf says, “We’re just getting started.” For more information call the facility at (318) 872-0111. Long Range Alley Gun Club is located at 2007 Highway 5, Grand Cane, Louisiana 71032. Visit the range to find out more or visit the Web site at


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Events, people, and items of interest in and around our area.

Assistant District Attorney Gary Evans planted a small area adjacent to the former post office in downtown Mansfield with LSU Sweet Potato Evangeline. He planted it to be a community garden where anyone can gather and enjoy the sweet potatoes. Names of former LSU agents and  employees are listed on the sign and it brings back memories for the families of these individuals. Also, the late former Post Master Henry Lott is also remembered on the sign. Thank you, Gary Evans, for bringing our past to our present.

Sheriff Arbuckle Announces Promotions and New Department Heads Various promotions went into effect during the month of August within the DeSoto Parish Sheriff’s Department, with Horace Womack named Chief Criminal Deputy, Monica Cason named Chief Civil Deputy and Dennis Reed named Chief of Corrections. Other departmental promotions meant an increase in rank in their current divisions. Pictured are members of DPSD, with their years of service listed. From left to right on front row they are: Lt. Jayson Richardson, 8 yrs.; Lt. James Clements, 19 yrs.; Cpl. Josh Richie, 6 yrs.; Sgt. Elaine Pyles, 22 yrs.; Sgt. Natasha Jones, 10 yrs.; Capt. Toni Morris, 32 yrs.; Chief Civil Deputy Monica Cason, 12 yrs.; Lt. John Cobb, 26 yrs. Back Row left to right are: Lt. Raymond Sharrow, 18 yrs.; Chief of Corrections Dennis Reed, 31 yrs.; Sheriff Rodney Arbuckle; Chief Criminal Deputy Horace Womack, 21 yrs.; Capt. Pat Jones, Jr., 6 yrs.; and Capt. Donnie Barber, 26 yrs.

Pictured are the DeSoto Arts Council Board Members for 2014 elected at the recent DAC Annual Meeting. (l-r) Sherrie Trammel, Edith Herring, Linda Brown, Carol Paga, and Jody Gore (Not pictured: Eugenia Manning and Margaret Dickerson) Guest Speaker for the meeting, artist Gail Shelton, owner of The Pea Patch Gallery in Winnfield, challenged the group to continue to educate the public that art is affordable, collectible, and satisfying. She encouraged DAC to continue their outreach to the Parish Community because Art is essential to the improved quality of life.


DeSoto Life September/October 2013

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