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Proud to be the Felicianas' only locally owned, managed, and staffed newspaper.

Feliciana Explorer • Tuesday, May 6, 2014 • Vol. 4, No. 18 • Published Weekly • Circulation 17,000 • • © 2014

Judge George Haliburton Ware, Jr. to Retire

Judge Ware leaving the Bench after 18 year service to East and West Feliciana By James Ronald Skains

After 30 years of holding political office, Judge “Hal” Ware is retiring from the 20th District Judge A position in the Felicianas’ state district court. Ware previously served two six-year terms as District Attorney of the 20th Judicial District. “I think that 30 years of public service is enough for me,” Judge Ware told the Feliciana Explorer. “At the end of this year, when I walk out of court for the last time, I will be completely retired from the practice of law in any shape, form or fashion.” “I’m just going to do hobbies and travel some. Flying radio-controlled airplanes is one of my hobbies. I love to work with my hands with metal. Also, restoring old electrical clocks is something I really enjoy doing. My shop behind my house in downtown St. Francisville is quite a collection of metal working tools.” Judge Ware was in private law practice for nine years before being elected District Attorney for West Feliciana

Cap: The Honorable Judge “Hal” Ware, Jr. will retire after 30 years service in the 20th Judicial District justice system.

Parish in 1985. He became District Judge on January 1, 1997, and will officially retire on Dec. 31, 2014. Before being elected DA, he served four years as public defender. “My four years as a public defender and my 12 years as DA gave me the opportunity to see both sides of the law before becoming a judge,” Judge Ware explained. “In a jury trial, the judge’s job is to referee between the two attorneys on points of law and to make sure the jurors know the points of law they are rendering judgment upon.” “The ideal scenario in a court of law in jury trials (or trials just before the judge) is to have two brilliant attorneys. This doesn’t happen often, so you are always working to keep things fair and balanced in the courtroom. Having had those experiences before becoming a judge certainly helped me better understand each side’s point of view in the court room and in chambers.” A 1964 graduate of St. Francisville See JUDGE WARE on page 2

Commissioners of Feliciana Gas District #2 Looking at All Options By James Ronald Skains

“At first glance, you could say that Gas District #2 and other small towns and cities along the MIDLA natural gas pipeline are facing a catastrophic situation. However, I sincerely believe that the outcome of this will be that we are able to protect our customers from higher natural gas prices,” Mike Bradford, Superintendent of Gas District #2, told the Feliciana Explorer. “Gas Utility District #2 is actually in much better shape to avoid catastrophic price increases because we already have two TRANSCO natural gas pipelines crossing our lines. If the solution for this crisis is to tap into the TRANSCO lines, we will still be able to have double feed lines into our system. I’ve always believed that it was

essential to have two lines feeding our system, in case we had an interruption on one section of the line.” The current natural gas crisis facing many towns, cities and rural systems in Southeast Louisiana and Southwest Mississippi was ratcheted up with the recent filing by MIDLA for abandonment of its 370-mile pipeline from Monroe to the Baton Rouge metro area. The pipeline in question was built in 1928 to transport natural gas from the Monroe natural gas field to the Baton Rouge area in order to supply natural gas to communities along its line. “MIDLA is claiming that they have 34 major leaks in the line that See GAS on page 3

Pictured from left to right seated are Commissioners of Feliciana Gas Utility District #2, Leon Spears, Donna Allen, amd Dexter Armstead. Standing is Mike Bradford the Director of the District. Commissioners not in the picture are Marlin McGehee, and Ryan Dawson.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014


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JUDGE WARE continued from page 1

High School, Ware headed north to Monroe to attend college at what was then Northeast State University. After a couple of years at NSU, Ware joined the Air Force for a four-year hitch. “I was an official Tropospheric Atmospheric Radio Relay Man during my Air Force career, which translated to being an electronic technician,” Ware, who served from 1967 through 1970, recalled. “I had some interesting duty stations during my Air Force career. I spent one year in school in Biloxi, one year in Altus, Oklahoma, and two years in Germany on the East German border.” “After my Air Force duty, I came back closer to home to attend LSU, enrolling in pre-Law. At that time, you did not need a BA or BS degree to get into law school if you were enrolled in pre-law. I had gotten married to a wonderful girl from New Orleans before going into the Air Force. Sandra and I have one son, George Halliburton Ware III who is in the restaurant business in Lake Charles. We have three grandsons, ages 2, 6, and 12.” Ware III is a Louisiana Tech graduate who started working with Outback Steakhouse while in college. After moving up in the Outback Company, Ware III now manages a group of privately-owned restaurants in the Lake Charles area. “One of my proudest achievements outside the practice of law is my involvement with the Metal Working Program at Angola,” Judge Ware explained. “I’ve been involved 10 or 12 years with the Program. We have a very efficient shop at Angola that prepares men for the Re-Entry Program

after release from prison.” “Good metal workers and machinists are always in demand in South Louisiana. We have several former inmates who went through the Metal Working Program at Angola and are now holding down good paying jobs in the Baton Rouge area. Hunter Engineering Company donated a vehicle front end alignment machine to the program, which was a great help.” The Metal Working program was instrumental in helping restore the Red Hat Cell Block at Angola. The Red Hat Cell Block is now on the National Historic Registry of Places. Judge Ware is also a member of the Angola Museum Foundation Board of Directors. “Warden Cain has done a great job in turning Angola around from a bloody prison to as close to a model prison as you can get,” Judge Ware noted. “His faith-based programs have been very successful, as well as his educational and vocational programs.” Judicial District 20, which includes both East and West Feliciana, is a unique political setup. There are two judges in the 20th Judicial District, Judge Ware, Division A, and Judge William Carmichael, Division B. They alternate weekly in holding court in each parish. There are no City Courts in the District, although there are six incorporated areas in the two parishes. However, each parish has their own Clerk of Court but only one District Attorney for the combined parishes. The combined census population of East and West Feliciana is 35,892 with 6,910 being children.” “Child custody cases are by far the hardest to deal with for a judge,” Judge Ware emphasized. “There are so many short-term and long-term consequences in making a

decision as to what is best for the child. The children almost always suffer to a degree no matter what decision is rendered.” “Since taking office as DA in 1985, and then district judge in 1997, I have not seen a large upswing in criminal cases in the 20th Judicial District Court. The overwhelming number of people living in the Felicianas are very much law abiding citizens; I’m not including the people confined at Angola. It’s a small percentage of people who come into criminal court in the 20th District.” Judge Ware has two other hobbies that he will pursue with more focus after his retirement; “I have a 1972 Triumph Daytona 500 motorcycle and a 1981 Moto-Guzzi V-50 that I have restored. I’ve thought about selling them because I may be getting a little too old to ride motorcycles, but every time I look at them, I change my mind.” “Another restoration passion I have, as you can see by the number of antiques fans I have in my office, is antique fans,” Judge Ware noted. “Some of these antique fans are oscillating fans that oscillate both up and down and around. The fans that predate World War I have brass blades, however, during War I, brass became expensive due to the huge demand for brass cartridges for ammunition. After the War, with the advancement in technology, aluminum became the choice of metal for fans.” Writer’s note: This writer, along with the people of the Felicianas, applauded Judge Ware’s work in the legal system in Judicial District 20 as a true public servant. We wish him many happy moments in the years to come working with his metal projects.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


continued from page 1

has caused the volume of natural gas transported in their lines to drop from 300,000 mcf per day to 72,700 mcf per day,” Dexter Armstead, president of the Utility District Commissioners, informed the Feliciana Explorer. “The strange thing about this situation was that we heard nothing of these problems from MIDLA until last summer when they wanted to abandon the line or for their customers to pay for building a new line.” “During the past few decades, it was my understanding that a small portion of everyone’s monthly natural gas build was going to pay for repairs and maintenance on the MIDLA gas line. Suddenly, we are confronted with this enormous crisis that MIDLA supposedly faces.” “One of my questions is what happened to the money that was being collected for repairs and maintenance?” Bradford interjected. “During my 30 years here at District #2, I don’t recall much maintenance or repairs being done on the MIDLA line.” “Although we are facing a crisis, as is everyone else who gets their gas from MIDLA, we are fighting back with some pretty good resources of our own. First, MIDLA had to file their entire request with the federal government agency FEREC that governs energy distribution systems in the country. FEREC may reject their request to abandon the line and force them to upgrade their services.” “Secondly, US Senator David Vitter and Congressman Cassidy have



been working with us to pressure FEREC not to grant MIDLA’s request,” Bradford explained. “State Senator Robert Adley of Bossier City has introduced Senate Bill 525 that would greatly reduce the ability of companies to abandon lines without Louisiana Public Service Commission approval.” The current natural gas line problem relating to the MIDLA line began when American Midstream Partners acquired the 370-mile pipeline from the MIDLA group of companies. A venture capital investment firm located in Boston owns American Midstream Partners. Apparently, the MIDLA natural gas line did not pass the financial test of utmost profitability for the Boston based investment company. “One very real option we have, although very costly, would be to tap into the TRANSCO lines that cross District #2 lines,” Bradford related. “The cost to tap into the 36” inch line with a 36x4 type tap would be $501,000. The cost for a tap into the 12” would be $440,983.” “We were told that part of the reason for the high cost is that we would have to pay a 30% Gross Tax on each tap. We would be paying $282,000 just in this gross tax. In addition, we would have additional cost factors in the metering system and other tie-in work. If this is the route we ultimately have to go, it is going to be very pricey.” “I can see that we are probably talking about upwards of $1.2 million if we go the tap route,” Donna Allen, Commissioner from the Jackson area, pointed out. “Even if we can get grants

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for part of this money, it will be a big challenge for our Gas District to have the money for these taps. Most of our customers are not in the high income bracket, so raising rates is not an option.” Two Feliciana Commissioners for Gas District #2, Marlin McGehee and Ryan Dawson, were not present at the April 28th Commissioner’s meeting held at the Gas District office. However, since this MIDLA issue will not be solved anytime soon, McGehee and Dawson will have plenty of opportunity to weigh in with their opinions and ideas for solutions. “I am working on some other alternative plans of action,” Bradford informed the Feliciana Explorer. “We


are not far enough along in developing these alternative solutions to even call them solid options yet, but if any of the alternatives become options, the Board of Commissioners will certainly try to make them work for the benefit of the customers of Gas District # 2.” Writer’s note: It certainly isn’t a fair fight between a small gas system using gas from the old MIDLA line. It’s the small town people fighting the billions of dollars in resources available to the Boston investment company that actually owns the pipeline in question. Really, it’s a David versus Goliath fight. But, in this battle, I think I will place my money on the “Davids.”


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Plains Seed Cleaning Business is a Living History Operation

turf with good color if moderate “This business has been located fertilization rates are applied. Caron the Plains Port Hudson Road pet grass will grow in tropical and since at least 1940, maybe a little subtropical areas, has the ability to earlier,” Daniel Biers, who along withstand saturated soil, and will with his wife Beryl operate the 70 tolerate periods of standing water. It is a perennial grass that was plus year old business, told the Fenative to the West Indies and inliciana Explorer. “The seed cleantroduced into America in the early ing business here in the Plains 1800’s in the Gulf South coastal has been a very important part of states. The seeding rate is 3-5 the local and national agricultural pounds per 1,000 sq. feet of lawn, economy for two important reaand 50-150 pounds per acre for sons. First, on the local level, we pastures. have been an important place for “Mr. George Townsend built ranchers to obtain seed for their the mill before 1940 right beside pastures. Secondly, our major the gravel road so that wagons products on the national level, carcould easily pull into the mill and pet grass seeds produced here in unload,” Biers, who works full southeast Louisiana, are the only time at Georgia-Pacific paper mill seeds that will germinate at a high in Port Hudson as an operator, rerate.” lated. “At that time all seeds were “The seeds that we produce here with our 1940 model seed brought into the mill in 50 pound cleaning machine are 98% pure,’’ sacks.” “Seed cleaning was, and still Biers pointed out. “We also are is, a labor intensive business. required to have a minimum gerAbout 30 years ago, the owners at mination rate of 85%. However, that time installed silos, bins and based on tests, our germination blower systems to move the dirty rate is between 92-95%. We are seed to the cleaning machine. But proud of our track record over the at some point, you are still hanpast seven decades and through dling 50-pound bags of clean seed six previous owners.” onto pallets for shipment. My wife Carpet grass grows on wet, lowpH. soils where few other grasses says that the seed business is what will persist. It also has a moder- keeps me in such good physical ate shade while producing a dense shape.” By James Ronald Skains

The seed cleaning business is both a unique and a complicated business. Once the seeds from the field (with their mixture of grass stems, other type seeds and some sand) arrive at the seed cleaning mill, they are fed through the wooden structure cleaning machine that has four screens of varying size. The machine shakes the screens continuously while allowing various sized particles to fall through to the next level, while jettisoning trash. The frame, bins, the thin oak shaker strips and screen frames are all made of wood. The machine is electrically powered and operates with a series of ropes and pulleys.

“We actually have 30 different size screens that we use from time to time, depending upon what type seeds we are running,” Biers, who is also a member of the Louisiana Air National Guard, explained. “During the cleaning process with this type of machine that was invented nearly a hundred years ago, we are testing our seed both under a microscope and by their weight to determine purity.” “The Louisiana Agriculture Department also comes by to test our seeds. We have testing probes for each type of seed we clean. After the carpet grass seed, Pensacola Bahia grass seeds make up our next largest amount of seeds

Tuesday, May 6, 2014 we clean. Wilmer Mills owned and operated the seed cleaning plant for 30 years. During that time period, he cleaned seed corn and soybean seeds for farmers for planting purposes.” The success of the Biers seed cleaning business actually begins in a farmer’s field with any type seed. Most cattlemen graze their carpet grass through early summer until the carpet grass is ready to go to seed in August. The seeds are harvested in August and usually cleaned in the winter. “The better the harvesting practices employed by the farmer or cattleman, the better seeds we will have to work with,” Biers, who is a Crew Chief on a UH 60 Black Hawk helicopter in the Air Guard, emphasized. “The better cleaning

system the combine has, the less trash we find in the seeds when they arrive at the mills. When Wilmer was operating the plant, he would actually go out to the farm and make sure the settings on the combine were the best they could be for cleaning purposes.” “After the seeds are brought out of the field, they have to be dried on a wooden barn floor. The seeds I harvest for my own pastures are dried on the second story of a barn at Mr. Gilbert Mills’. It’s the same barn that you might have seen in the movie, “Dukes of Hazard,” with Burt Reynolds and Willie Nelson. In drying the seeds, you have to stir the seeds every few hours to help in the drying system.” Once the seeds have been dried, they are loaded up for the trip to


Daniel Biers with some of his historical, although useful equipment.

the “old seed-cleaning mill.” After cleaning to the purity level of 98%, the seeds are bagged, then stacked on pallets and then sent out on trailer trucks for destinations around the Gulf South. “When Wilmer was operating the plant, he had to find buyers for the seeds until he found a broker,’’ Biers noted. “That was a great move when he found a buyer because in our operations now, we know we have a ready buyer when the seeds are cleaned.” “I’m planning on moving the operation to a location closer to my house on the other side of the Plains Road in a couple of years. Operating it closer to my house will be a distinct advantage and I won’t be paying any rent. I do plan to make some minor updates, espe-

cially in the product handling, because at age 58, handling 50-pound bags all day gets tough physically. I don’t intend to make any real changes to this machine because, even after 70 years of operation in the Plains community, it actually works better in cleaning seed than most of the new metal versions of seed cleaning machines.” Writer’s note: Even though the “old seed cleaner” will probably be moved from the west side of the Plains Presbyterian church to a location a couple of miles to the east of the Plains Church, I don’t think it will lose its “living history aura.” One thought that I had as I stood there watching the “old seed cleaner” at work was, “Whoever invented that machine really knew what they were doing.”


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Living History Association of Jackson Louisiana, Inc.

The continuing war for control of the Mississippi River between the Confederacy and the Union culminated in the major siege operations at Vicksburg and Port Hudson in the summer of 1863. Because of these campaigns, many smaller actions took place in communities of less strategic value which otherwise may never have directly experienced the sights and sounds of battle. Two such engagements occurred at Jackson, Louisiana in 1863 as a result of the Union campaign to take Port Hudson. The first action occurred when a large Federal foraging expedition was moving through the area. Approximately two hundred wagons with cavalry and infantry escort, commanded by Colonel Halbert Greenleaf, set forth from the Federal siege lines at Port Hudson on their way to Jackson on the morning of June 20th. Plantations and farms were visited along the twelve mile route in search of cotton bales to be used in the siege lines. The wagon train, which stretched over two miles in length, reached the intersection where the Jackson Port Hudson Road crossed the JacksonClinton Road. As the Federal expedition singled out the Keller Plantation just north of the crossroads, Colonel Thomas R. Stockdale’s Mississippi Cavalry Brigade swept over the column with little warning. The brief fight stampeded the huge wagon train giving the Confederates ample opportunity to take fifty wagons, two hundred mules, and fifty prisoners.

Members of the Calvary are saluting the Town of Jackson for putting on a great event.

Reenactors reload.

Washington Artillery is marching off to battle while playing a song.

Young soldiers attending church service.

A second engagement occurred at Jackson on August 3rd. A recruiting expedition from Port Hudson, numbering between 350 and 500 men under the command of Lieutenant Moore Hanham, reached Jackson late in the day on August 2nd to

recruit blacks for the Twelfth Corps d’Afrique. The following evening, a force of about 500 Confederate cavalrymen, under the command of Colonel John Logan, struck the Union soldiers drawn up in a battle line on the campus of Centenary

College. After a brief stand, the Federals were routed from the town with the loss of between 80 and one 100 men, two field pieces, and numerous supply wagons. Logan stated that he lost only 12 men killed or wounded. Before the Federal forces isolat-

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Presents the 22nd Annual Battle of Jackson Crossroads

Soldiers relaxing.

An officer takes account of his ammunition.

ed Port Hudson from the surrounding countryside, Confederate forces used Centenary College buildings as a hospital. At one point, a company of the 4th Louisiana Regiment, the Lake Providence Cadets, commanded by Captain Charles R. Purdy, was

stationed in Jackson to guard the town. Each year the Jackson Living History Association sponsors the Battle of Jackson Crossroads and tries to make it as historically accurate as possible

Calling everyone to church.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014



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Feliciana Explorer May 6  

Tuesday, May 6, 2014 • Vol. 4, No. 18

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