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THE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE OF SLIDELL

Vol. 120 October 2020

WE KEEP IT FRESH

SAY KEEP IT POSITIVE 1


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SLIDELL HISTORICAL ANTIQUE ASSOCIATION’S 39TH ANNUAL FALL

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OCTOBER 24 & 25 • 10AM - 5PM

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First, Second & Erlanger Streets OLDE TOWNE • SLIDELL, LA For more info: 985-788-7799 slidellantiques.com 4

FOOD • MUSIC FAMILY FUN!


Editor’s Letter Cover: “MORGUS THE MAGNIFICENT & THE FRIENDS OF SCIENCE” BY MATT LITCHLITER

Slidell Magazine PO Box 4147 Slidell, LA 70459 www.slidellmag.com 985-789-0687 Kendra Maness, Editor/Publisher Editor@slidellmag.com Michael Bell, Graphic Designer Graphics@slidellmag.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS The Storyteller, His Legacy by John Case Pet Points, Anti-Vacc by Jeff Perret, DVM Audubon Zoo Story & Photos by Donna Bush Slidell, Our History: The Mitchell Brothers by Ted Lewis Crimi-Mommly Insane, The Game of Life by Leslie Gates

Kendra Maness Editor / Publisher

Cover Artist

matt litchliter Matt realized a childhood dream come true when he met Sid Noel aka, Morgus the Magnificent

Portrait paintings are just one of the many art forms Matt enjoys. His portraits of Drew Brees, Rockin Dopsie Jr., Dr. John and his original Morgus the Magnificent were some of our most popular covers. This fall, Matt’s colorful imagery will become a permanent part of the Slidell landscape when he begins a mural in historic Olde Towne. The art for this cover is inset and we added a background image behind it because the art itself is, well, a magazine cover! Matt’s painting is an incredibly realistic image of an old-fashioned comic book, complete with the slightly worn edges and weathering. You can have this piece of Louisiana nostalgia - prints are available! The giclee print is $74, signed and numbered on 17” x 20” watercolor paper and shipped to you in a tube. If you’d like to purchase a print in this edition series, you can contact Slidell Magazine at 985-789-0687 or reach Matt at: mlitchliter@gmail.com

Legal-Ease by Ronda M. Gabb Making Cents of Your Money by Mike Rich Extraordinary Slidell Neighbors, Chas Champagne by Charlotte Collins

SUBSCRIPTIONS $39/YEAR MAILED TO YOU EACH MONTH! www.SlidellMag.com VIEW CURRENT & PAST EDITIONS, ADVERTISING RATES AND MORE AT

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SNeighbors lidell A biography by Charlotte Collins

“Love what you do and do what you love. Don't listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it." ~ Ray Bradbury This story, my folks, is a fishy one. It begins at a very small pond. Like the ripples expanding from a tossed pebble, this boy’s dream expands from the pond, throughout the Gulf of Mexico, from Lake Pontchartrain and into the Appalachicola Bay. If there’s anything Chas can teach you, it is to hold onto your dreams, and dream big!

I was so disappointed to hold another distanced phone interview, a la COVID. It’s a shame, because I have a feeling I could have heard some exciting fishing adventures had we been able to talk in person. I thought I would never get the chance to meet Chas, and only see him through his YouTube fishing videos named DockSide TV that he, his wife, Kristi, and his daughters, Charleigh and Blakeleigh, post weekly. Even scheduling the phone call was a bit of a challenge because this man fishes every single day. Fishing and family are his life. Now, you may picture him quietly casting a line as the sun rises, and think, what a 6

life! It’s true that he likes to be away from the crowds. But Chas is a hard worker. By the end of this story, you will be reminded that every family business hinges on hard work, long hours, and constant dedication. And, if you watch his videos, those fishing trips look anything but relaxing. The heart-thumping music and hook and line struggles that ensue gave me a glimpse of the energy that exudes from Chas when he is doing what he loves best. Chas was born and raised on a pond in Pearl River, Louisiana. “Fishing has always been one of the most important rituals in my life. It has always kept my interest above anything else. I can remember getting ready for junior high. Most parents wrestle to wake their kids up early in the morning, but I wasn’t that kid. My parents, Charlie and Julie Champagne, would find me already awake some days, already dressed in my uniform.” Now where do you think they found him? Yep, at the pond, in his uniform...fishing, and waiting for his parents to get dressed and take him to school. When he was twelve, the family moved to Eden Isles, and Chas got a little flat boat for Christmas. He explained, “My

Chas Champagne

rules were simple. I could use that boat all I wanted, but I could never leave the canals. I couldn't go out into Lake Pontchartrain. I would spend days all day, every day - especially in the summertime, in my little flat boat. And that's how I really started fishing, as a sport.” As you might imagine, he also had to learn about being a mariner, since he was by himself on the water from a very early age. Actually, sports in general have always been a big part of his life. As he listed his role in sports, I pictured a really active boy, one who probably only went inside his house to eat and sleep. In his freshman year of high school, Chas was on the junior varsity and the varsity team for both basketball and baseball at St. Paul's. Bear in mind that his school was a 50 minute drive from home, then double the drive time for round trip. So, school days were very long days for this young man. Chas admitted, “I liked the other sports, but I can’t say I loved them, not like fishing!” And his voice rose and grew louder as he said fishing. “But my dad, he really loved sports. I probably could have gone on and played ball for a very small college if I had chosen to stay with it. I would have never quit


Left: The original Champagne Jewelers in Covington. Middle: Chas and mom, Julie, at the Slidell Champagne Jewelers. Right: Chas being carried off the field by his St. Paul's teammates after their 1999 baseball State Championship win.

playing as long as my dad was alive. He was so involved with me and all of my sports.” His tone changed as he delivered the words, “But my dad died my sophomore year, when I was 15 years old. We were on our way to winning the State Championship in 1999 for St. Paul's baseball team when he died. St. Paul’s actually flew his memorial flag for that State Championship day. He had been a lieutenant in the Army, and that flag was placed on his casket, and then flown for the State Championship. So, that game was a big deal for me. I wasn't really one of the key players, because we had about 13 seniors on the team. But, when we won the game, they carried me off the field on their shoulders. I will never forget that. Dad was such a big part of that school. He graduated from St. Paul’s in 1956, and he was the quarterback for the Wolves' varsity football team. So you can see how important sports were in my life.” Chas took a pause and, after a deep breath, he tried to explain how he moved forward in his life. “I made a very difficult decision that summer. I was one of the major athletes at my school, and my junior and senior years would have been two big years for me in varsity. I knew the school was counting on me, but I was just tired of how demanding the sports were for

me.” You see, Chas didn’t play just one season. There was summer ball, fall ball, then basketball. Basically, he was involved in sports year round. Without his dad and best friend beside him, Chas’s heart just wasn’t in it anymore. I know what my readers are thinking, more time for the sport of fishing. Chas will admit after all these years, that this was a pivotal moment that turned out to be one of the best decisions he could have made. However, 25 years ago, it was a tough decision for a 15-year-old. A lot of teammates and coaches thought he was just giving up, or going off the deep end. But there was also a complicating practical matter. Charlie and Chas rode together to Covington, as his parents owned Champagne Jeweler’s in Covington's historic downtown. Chas walked from the store on Boston and Columbia Streets to St. Paul’s. Now, the Covington store was closing. Since Chas didn’t have a driver’s license, he would need someone to commute with, and the sports schedule would certainly make that more difficult. Chas remembers some very long talks with some very important people. But he remained firm that he needed some down time to really think about the direction of his life from that point forward. Mom had other plans. She insisted that, if he wasn’t playing ball, Chas should get a job. You see, his father’s

parents founded Champagne Jewelers, opening right after World War II. Chas remembers the long hours the family spent at both locations - the original location in Covington, and later, the Slidell location, opened in 1948. (Julie Champagne sold the store in 2012 and retired. Last month, Champagne Jewelers of Slidell officially closed its doors for good, after 72 years.) Chas commuted to St. Paul's with the help of his neighbor and landed his dream job, an apprenticeship of sorts, at Busy B on Pontchartrain Drive, owned by Jason Scoggins. He described it as a small bait and convenience store. But, in his eyes, it was much more than that. His voice sounded almost reverent as he recalled it from his teen age years. “It was THE place where all the local fishing legends hung out and drank a beer after their charter fishing trips. I got to hear all their stories and I loved that job. I basically ran that little store all by myself in summers and on weekends. That is how I got my feet wet. I mean, I fished all the time, and I knew a good bit for my age, but I was self-taught up to that point. I now knew that fishing could be my career. So, I decided to learn all I could from the charter captains." This was the only point during our hour long talk that Chas got downright philosophical. He disclosed how he mentors young people today, trying 7


seemed like the easiest thing to do. But now I look back and realize that I couldn't have found a major in the world that matches what I do for a living any better. My business, Matrix Shad, is all about sports marketing!”

to instill in them the confidence to follow their dreams. He spoke from the heart when he related the pearls of wisdom he passes on. “I tell all the young people I work with how lucky they are if they can find the thing they love and want to do with their lives before they are 18 years old. Start dreaming when you’re young. By the time they reach 35, they will be doing well financially if they just stick with it. I don't care what their dream is. Even if it's not really a great idea, it might just take longer to get where they need to be, but it'll get there. I say that because anything you stay with for 20 or 30 years, and you keep attacking it, the pieces of the puzzle are gonna fall together. My fishing business started from very humble beginnings, bait boxes and an electric heater. It wasn’t about the money. Fishing just isn't a million dollar business you jump into overnight.” So how did he get to this business that now has videos with over 8,000 YouTube subscribers and 30,000 social media followers? It all began with a little boy’s dream, that pond, a flat boat, and a job at Busy B. Any money the teen made went into booking a charter with his heroes. The goal was to learn from the experts how to fish the entire Lake Pontchartrain estuary. He listed Captain Kenny Krieger, Dudley Vandborre, and Mike Gallo as his mentors. Chas also slowly upgraded his boats until he was ready to offer charter fishing trips himself. He felt exhilarated by the process. He reveled, “Now at age 16, I wasn't constricted just to the local canals. I was really fishing the entire estuary. This was always my dream, to be able to boat and fish for a living. And I was well on my way as a teen. Then I met Terry Googans, and he took me under his wings. That's when I really started learning over an extended period of time. He took me out at least three times a week.” Then Chas’s life took another tack. He graduated from high school and needed to find a major in college to fit his passion. After a long search, he discovered that Southern Mississippi University offered a degree called Sports Marketing. Then he found out that if you can find a major that's not offered in the state you live in, your out of state tuition fee can be waived. His answer was simply, “I really wasn’t excited about college, but I knew I needed a degree in something. This 8

He graduated in 2006 with a minor in business. It was after Katrina, and his mom needed him to work with her at Champagne Jeweler’s in Slidell. His dad had added trophies and awards to the business, so he took over that part. He also did her bookkeeping and, of course, marketing and diamonds sales. Chas explained, “Mom and I went to sales seminars and classes where they teach you to hone your sales pitch. It was fun, and I got to spend time with Mom. But it wasn’t the dream that I held in the back of my mind.” Right on time comes yet another tack in Chas’s path. Out of the blue one day, the people that owned The Dock in Slidell called him, and wanted to know if he was interested in starting a little fishing store at their boat launch. Chas described, “All I was doing really was leasing a piece of grass next to the bar, restaurant, and boat launch. But I could see that this might be a tremendous stepping stone for anything else I wanted to do, and I had just gotten my captain's license. I was already running a few charters while working at the jewelry store. Whether or not my little store succeeded, I knew it'd be a good starting point.” He made the move in July of 2009. Determined not to go into debt, he built four bait tanks and, by that October, he was selling shrimp and collecting launch fees. Chas worked 7 days a week, with one employee as a Captain’s mate and store tender. When the dead of winter came, they would huddle around an electric heater, watching TV between customers. Finally, Chas had enough money to put an old beat up camper near the store. Then, Chas learned that you can’t just put a camper on a piece of property without permits. He recalled, “I was freezing out there, and didn’t have enough money to build a proper structure. I filed for a temporary permit, but the last thing I wanted to do was put a lot of money into someone else's property.” Along comes the BP oil spill, closing down fisheries. Chas relived his initial response, “I was just thinking luck had turned against me. Then I learned that BP was offering compensation to anybody in the commercial fishing business. Once I got their check, I knew I had to make a decision before the permit department shut me down. I built a small building. Business was actually going pretty well, and I added more employees. The problem with my business plan was that the lease was pretty steep, plus we had a super busy time early in the morning, then nothing until closing time. That’s when you got to go clean out all of the shrimp, pack them and put them on ice, and that's a process. I knew I needed to be more efficient. As I’m thinking about my next step, BP offers more compensation if I would sign off not to sue them in the future.” It seemed like every time Chas


hit the doldrums, something would suddenly bring a gust of wind into his sales/sails. Chas began to design and sell fishing lures. He bought molds and plastic that melts in a microwave. During the dead period in the middle of the day, they could bag the lures and put UPC stickers on themselves, saving more money. This would make the distribution a turn-key operation. I could hear that he put a lot of thought into how to get this end of his business structured efficiently. As he rationalized, “I have to pay people to be here anyway, so bagging them ourselves really worked out. With my mold, I could shoot two lures at a time with the prototype. I figured I could probably make 100 lures a day!" Next, Chas wanted to get his lures out to all the fishermen he knew. “By this point, I knew almost every big operation fisherman back from Busy B when I was 15. And now, having a little bait store, I could get them into the most important people's hands to give me good feedback. It seemed like they all loved the lures from the get-go. Then, I asked the Captains to help me create the demand I needed to take the next step. I asked them to make a social media post with the lures, a fishing video, or to give me some pictures, anything I could use for marketing. Meanwhile, I'm down there pumping these lures out hand over fist every day. And all the feedback I get is excellent. To my surprise, I didn't even need to change anything.” Now I saw quite clearly what Chas meant about holding on to a dream, putting your time to use over the years it takes, and finally putting the pieces together. Chas's friend, Steve Wicks, made a small investment to become a minor partner and helped cut the molds, find the mold cutters, the people that make the metal. It all just clicked. After designing a prototype, and getting it approved, Chas bought a master mold that could manufacture 50 lures at a time. The next step came when Chas hired a plant manufacturer to produce and ship 10,000 units of the lures at a time in order to get a bulk price. Now, Chas had time for dating, and met the love of his life, Kristi Mayeux. On weekends, she worked next door to his bait shop at The Dock. During the week, she lived in Baton

Rouge, where she worked for a finance company. So the young couple both kept long working hours. Soon, she starting coming home to Slidell to help Chas out every weekend. It wasn’t long before they were engaged and Kristi moved to Slidell to live, transferring to the Hammond location with her finance company. Still, they worked together at the bait shop on weekends. Donned in masks, I finally got to meet the family in person. I asked about their wedding and honeymoon, but the answer was not what I expected. I pictured them off on a remote island somewhere, fishing as the sun rose and set before them. Chas reminded me, “I’ve never been into big crowds and formal affairs. And you gotta remember I sold engagement rings my whole life. So I just never wanted the whole traditional big wedding ceremony. She’s the most wonderful woman in the world, and didn’t need all that either. So we just got married with a Justice of the Peace in my mother's backyard, overlooking the canals I grew up on. Only immediate family was there, including our two dachshunds, dressed in tuxedos. They were in our fishing videos, too!” His greenish brown eyes were glistening. Instead of spending a ton of money on the wedding or honeymoon, they went in partnership with Chas’s mom on a condo in Florida. He laughed again, stating, “We use it all the time. You could say we have a permanent honeymoon spot! I’m a real family man. Everything is about family!” They shoot a lot of the videos from there, and it has helped expand his customer base. The pieces all came together, and it was time for Chas to make another big investment. This time, he wanted to change the lures up and add more choices. But the minimum order is 10,000 units per color. So he decided on three colors and had 30,000 lures shipped. This young entrepreneur described his assembly line, “We got little Ziploc bags, a little sticker label machine, and dropped two or three in a bag. To this day, those original colors are still by far our number one sellers!” His pride was palpable now. Because things would be getting much busier with the new shipment, Chas once again begged his wife to come to work with him. “I kept telling her, if she worked with me, I could really open up the floodgates. She’s a fantastic, incredible worker, 9


Left: Chas & Kristi's dogs, dressed in tuxedos for their parents' wedding day. Right: Chas & Kristi Champagne at work.

probably the best I've ever seen. She finally agreed! With her as my teammate, I can do so much more. I just didn’t have the manpower to do some of these ideas that we had in mind to get started.” This production line went on with family and friends for a couple of years. Chas interjected, “But every year, business just got busier and busier. I had no problem reinvesting into it, because it was my own business. I was able to give Steve Wicks his percentage back for helping out as I was getting started. I was able to reach out to a St. Paul’s friend, Michael Lagasse, and hire him to make a really nice e-commerce website. Honestly, Michael is one of the most important people in this whole success story. He gave me lots of advice from day one. Michael started a very similar business in his life, but his was a rubber watch like one he found while traveling to Italy. And he turned it into a big success in just his second year. That gave me a sense of confidence to move forward too.”

The next tack came when the owners of the property decided not to renew Chas’s lease on very short notice. He had no time to think, and brought everything to his new home near Eden Isles. It turned out to be the best move he could have made. He admits, “Now, 110% of my efforts can be towards the lures. The biggest room in the house is the office and that's where my wife and I work.” "Now we have over 100 different items we manufacture, and they went pretty viral in a short time!” They have grown so much that they partnered with a warehouse in Baton Rouge as a big drop-ship center. There would be no way for the Champagne family to handle this much volume from their house. Plus, their two daughters, Charleigh (3) and Blakeleigh (1), occupy a lot of their time now. Chas added, “We're building a bigger house that can handle the inventory and these little girls.” Laughing, he said, “I feel like you need a house for each little girl.”

Left: Chas, Kristi, and daughter Charleigh celebrate Matrix Shad's win at the Best of Louisiana Outdoors Awards in 2017. Right: Fishing is a family affair with daughters Charleigh and Blakeleigh. 10


They also spend a lot of time at the condo on the Florida coast, shooting many of their videos for their YouTube channel, DockSide TV. Chas believes including that market is what really put their products on the map, starting in 2010. He interjected, “Although we're having fun with the family, we're always working. We shoot videos from there in the morning, and that's helped us really get a great following from the whole panhandle, Destin, Pensacola, Panama City, Dauphine Island, Mobile, all the way to Gulf Shores. If it wasn't for that condo, we might not have ever picked up those territories.”

This month’s boxes go out today, a day of total chaos for her.” He pops his head in now and then to check on her.

“What really impresses me now is a new direction we are taking. I finally have enough inventory that we can do a sunscription service. Back when I only had three colors, that wouldn't have made any sense, but with over 100 items, I can mix and match a monthly subscription box with ease.” His enthusiasm lept across the phone! “And my gosh, we'll get something new every month! We decided to sell it for just $30 a month, and the customer gets $50 worth of retail every month. Kristi really wanted to do it and I was glad for her help. We launched it in August of 2019 and we didn’t expect it to be so popular this quickly, but it has really kept her very busy. It’s a full time job for her now.” Laughing, he said, “Actually, that’s what she is doing while we are talking.

Chad sums up our interview with one last, passionate declaration. “I just love fishing so it doesn't even feel like work. No matter where we go, even on vacation, all my clothes are in my carry on and my only checked baggage is the big tube of my fishing rod and gear. It goes everywhere I go. If we catch a few fish, guess what, the camera goes on, and we're making a video."

In the midst of building the new house, Coronavirus sets in, making Chas really nervous. However, rather than hurt business, the outdoor sports industry exploded! Chas and Kristi got even busier once social distancing took effect. He allows, “I know that's going to hit a wall when people go back to work. All I can do right now is make and save as much as we can and spend it wisely. I am setting up a fund for both daughters' college funds early.” He is always thinking ahead, and always practical.

I left our interview struck by how Chas dreamt big and worked hard to turn a fishing hobby into a professional sport and successful business. So, I ask you - what dreams are you putting off? If you dream big and work hard, it’s never too late!

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The

Storyteller

HIS LEGACY Wilfred. The old man was as predictable as the number 2 freight train. Each day at precisely three in the afternoon, he would put on his hat and take the keys to his old Pontiac off the nail on the back porch. Backing the old car out of the garage carefully and slowly, he unknowingly raced the engine because he could not hear well anymore. Not only could he not hear, but his neck was fused and his only aid to backing was a rearview mirror. He did not see well either. Making a slow, but methodical, journey out of the driveway and onto the gravel road, he drove the half-mile to inspect his investment. It was a forty-acre plot of land. Years ago, he had owned 140 acres; but, over the years, he had sold much of it off. Some he sold to his son-in-law, but most he sold to Purvis Nations. He had sold the land because he needed the money; and besides, he could not farm that much anymore. Two vegetable gardens, a pasture for a milk cow, some chickens and a couple of hogs had become an ambitious achievement for someone his age. Yet, he had to keep going. His pension from the U.S. Postal Service was $20 per week. His wife’s doctor's bills were almost that much. He got comfort in knowing that his investment was about to mature. Just as the money from the last land sale played out, he would have something to fall back on. He had planned it that way. 14

Twenty years ago, in 1940, he was forced to retire from being a rural mail carrier. Heart trouble, or so he was told. It was just before the war, and things were inexpensive. Then the war, the victory, and the inflation. In 1945, he had his financial plan. Selling the land was not part of it, but it became a necessity with the rising cost of living. He didn’t want to sell the land in the first place. He wanted to leave it to his children. That would be his legacy. He didn’t mind the sale to his son-in law. It was still in the family. He regretted selling to Purvis. He was not one of them. A nice guy, but he had other means of income and he wasn’t dependent on the land or its produce to live comfortably. You could say he was just a hobby farmer and the land was just a tax write off. In 1945, Wilfred planted the 40 acres in Loblolly pine. Pulpwood was the new industry. It was less labor intensive than cotton or corn, but it needed about 20 years to mature to its full potential. He had thinned it in 1955, giving that little profit to his grandson to buy a band instrument. Each day he walked the land, looking for infestation of pine beetles, or other diseases. He had never had a problem. He knew that the main threats to his future income would most likely be from two sources; fire and low pulpwood prices. Some years ago, he had control-burned his trees to rid the underbrush. Underbrush, if left to thicken, becomes kindling if a fire starts. The wind changed that day and the fire almost


got out of control. He decided he would take his chances and never control-burn again. That was eight years ago. These days, he did not walk the land often. He was 85 and suffered from arthritis. He still liked to view it from the comfort of his unairconditioned automobile and through eyes that were almost milk-white with overripe cataracts. What he couldn’t see, he imagined. The faded vision mentally displayed a rose colored portrait of his security. In his mind, he saw much more timber than was there. He heard pulpwood prices were rising. In a few weeks, he would sell and then be financially secure. After all, how much longer would he live? He was a realist. If the timber did not bring a good price, he would most likely have to sell the land to Purvis. Again, he did not want to do this. That land was for his children. ********** Purvis Nations owned five hundred acres adjacent to Wilfred’s property on the south side. The land wrapped around the rear of Wilfred’s property and extended to the river. Purvis had dabbled in all types of farming: corn, cotton, peanuts and soybeans. He had recently decided to experiment with cattle. In the early spring, he planted a hundred acres in Byhalia grass. In July, he placed thirty head of imported French Charolais cows and a bull on the property. It was a sizable investment. By late August, there had been no rain. The grass dried and died and there was no grass for the cattle. Purvis began to supplement the grass they were not getting with crushed corn he purchased at the county co-op. That was expensive. Surely it would rain next week. It didn’t. By September, the grass in the cattle pasture was as dry as a powder keg.

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********** Wilfred’s daughter, Ellen, had built a home on two acres he had given her on the north side of the pine farm. She and her husband had cleared the land, but the yard grass was as dry as Purvis’s pasture. She would tell later that she remembered the phone call as if it were yesterday. A fire observation tower located eight miles south called her and told her they were seeing smoke somewhere near her home. Did she know anything about it? She had not been outside all day. She remembers it was about 3pm. She went outside and immediately smelled smoke. Then she saw it. She could even see some flames as they belched over the trees in the distance. She recalled that it reminded her of what she imagined hell fire would look like.

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By this time, neighbors were arriving and attempting to contain the blaze. Soon, the forestry department arrived with a jeep that had a plow behind it. They would attempt to cut a fire lane, but the trees were planted too close together to allow navigation. Then a large bulldozer arrived.

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Wilfred’s daughter then realized the fire was coming toward her house. She was home alone and was at a loss as to what to do. Desperate, she decided to seek help from the neighbor across the highway. Maybe they could load and move some of the keepsake items she could not replace. That is when the sheriff pulled into the driveway. With the excitement, Ellen did not notice the somber expression on the sheriff’s face. Then he asked her to sit down. Her immediate reaction was that this was not a time for sitting; but the sheriff almost pushed her into a chair. “Miss Ellen, I have bad news. Your father arrived and attempted to fight the fire. He has had what I believe to be a heart attack or a heat stroke. I don’t think he will make it.” Ellen then heard the siren as the ambulance passed. In a matter of minutes, she heard it going back the opposite direction. “Miss Ellen, I know you want to be with your father. I will do all I can to save your house.” ********** Ellen didn’t bother changing clothes. This was not a time that she cared about looking presentable. In five minutes, she was on her way to the hospital. How could a day go so wrong? **********

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The fire now had reached Purvis’s field where the cows were. A low flame was racing across the dry grass as if it were gasoline, and the cows were retreating. There was a fence between the pasture and the river. The cows were trapped. Tommy, a young neighbor, took his motorbike, grabbed a pair of pliers, and raced through the shortest part of the flames. Reaching the fence, he began to cut the wire. If he could just get the cows to go through, they could find the river. It was wide but shallow. The fire would not cross it.


One cow was obstinate and began to run the opposite direction from the cut fence opening. Tommy chased the cow on the bike and finally succeeded in driving it through the downed fence. He then parked his bike and proceeded to drive the cattle through the thick woods to the river. Now he was trapped. His only hope was to get in the river with the cows. He did. ********** The old man was a survivor. He began to regain consciousness and, in two hours, he was deemed stable. He would have to remain in the hospital overnight, at least; but his will to live was strong. Ellen hurried back to her home. To her surprise, there were twelve pickup trunks in her driveway and all her furniture, even down to the trash can was loaded on the trucks and safe. To the south end of her property she saw the bulldozer as it cut a double path between her property and the fire. Her home was saved. ********** Wilfred lost his entire pine farm that afternoon. They didn’t tell him about it. Not then, anyway. Purvis lost nothing except a fence. Tommy lost his motorbike. Before Wilfred was released from the hospital, he had a visitor dressed in a coat and tie. No, it was not a doctor. It was a landman from an oil company. They wanted to lease his land for mineral rights. The lease brought more money than he would have gotten from his timber.

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In four more years, he would pass away, and the next year his wife would follow. As he had hoped, the land was left intact for his children and he still had $366 in the bank.

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Purvis Nations bought Tommy a new motorbike.

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MAKING By Mike Rich, CFP®

CENTS

Pontchartrain Investment Management

BOB AND LISA AND THEIR ADVENTURES WITH ASSETS PROTECTION

LEGAL DOCUMENTS

INSURANCES: Property & Casualty, Life, Health, Disability ASSETS

LIABILITIES

Personal Property Savings Investments Retirement Real Estate Business

Short Term Taxes Mortgages Business Debt

CASH FLOW

Gross Income | Protection Assets | Liabilities | Net Income

Back in August, I introduced you to my newest clients, Bob and Lisa, and how we started on an exploration of the four Domains of their financial life: Protection, Assets, Liabilities, and Cash Flow. Last month, we described the elements of their Protection Domain and some of the work we will do together to address the risks in their life that, if they occur, could throw a big wrench in their saving and investing plans. This time, let’s see what’s up in their Asset Domain. As you can see in the Financial Domains diagram, our personal property – homes, cars, jewelry, artwork, and other possessions – are assets. However, they really don’t work too well as such because they typically are not liquid and they don’t produce a stream of income. We include these items on Bob and Lisa’s balance sheet, but our work together will focus in more on the assets that will either build spendable wealth for them, or can be used to generate income, especially in their retirement years. Bob and Lisa don’t own a business, and they are not interested in rental real estate for now, so we’re going to focus on savings, investments, and retirement planning.

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When it comes to Bob and Lisa’s Asset Domain, my philosophy of care rests on 1) rate of savings, 2) minimal risk, 3) tax advantages, and 4) liquidity. Let’s consider, for example, rate of savings and risk. Unfortunately, many of us try to make up for lack of savings by chasing rate of return through whigh-flying investments. Oftentimes, this happens because people wait too long to start saving and investing, and then try to make up for lost time. Thus, they are in danger of exposing themselves to a lot of risk, and entrusting themselves to the volatility of the financial markets, which is beyond their control. However, Bob, Lisa, and I discussed that a better approach to building their Asset Domain will be to focus on rate of savings (which they can control), rather than rate of return (which they pretty much can’t). For example, the first thing I want them to do is build up their savings account a bit so they have risk-free, fully-liquid money for emergencies. Although the credit card companies

would have us believe otherwise, there is no substitute for cold, hard cash (or a check) when it comes to paying for an emergency repair at home, new tires for the car, or some other big-ticket item. Likewise, even though Bob and Lisa have good jobs and are likely to have stable careers, I want them to have enough savings to cover at least four months of living expenses, just in case. To make their job a little easier, we’re using a monthly draft from their checking account to send money into their savings account automatically. Secondly, I want Bob and Lisa to take advantage of the biggest gifts they have right now: time and the power of compounding. They’re in their early 40s, and they have at least 25 years to invest for their future. Their potential for building wealth is a thing to behold. Consider this example. Bob and Lisa start investing $6000 per year, divided between their retirement plans at work and a joint investment account, and they decide to increase the annual amount by 5% every year for the next

25 years. I can’t make any guarantees, of course, but the math says that, at an average annual rate of return of 7%, they could amass approximately $655,000.1 Now, that probably won’t be enough for them to retire on, but the total doesn’t include the contributions their employers will likely make to their retirement accounts, nor does it include their potential Social Security benefits. It all adds up, and it takes only time and patience. Bob, Lisa, and I are on an exciting journey together. For sure, there will be plenty of ups and downs along the way, but they’re off to a great start. So, what about you? If you’re ready to take control of your financial life, or, if you’d just like to make sure you are on course, call me, and we’ll talk. Securities and Advisory Services offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC This is a hypothetical example and is not representative of any specific investment. Your results might vary. The hypothetical rate of return used does not reflect the deduction of fees and charges inherent to investing. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.

1

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

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FRIENDS OF SLIDELL POLICE FOUNDATION

The Friends of Slidell Police Foundation, Inc is a non-profit, 501 (c)3 organization with the mission of assisting the Slidell Police Department and its officers in order to enhance the services they provide for the betterment of the Slidell community. The Foundation was formed shortly after Slidell Police Chief Randy Fandal took office in 2016, and is something he is very passionate about. Within a few months of being elected, Chief Fandal was asked about an “Officer’s Fund” for an agency picnic or Christmas party. He realized that, although the Officer's Fund money was donated from the individual employees, the funds could not be utilized for private functions because they were still considered money which belonged to a government entity. Forming a private, non-profit foundation for the non-budgeted expenses and needs of a police force is common practice amongst agencies across the country. Chief began speaking with different individuals about creating a foundation, managed by a board of Slidell community leaders, and "Friends of Slidell Police Foundation” (FOSPF) was born. The Foundation's biggest challenge was to raise enough money to even get started. Chief says, "We reached out to

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the community and we quickly discovered our citizens like the idea also. We have successfully held a few fundraisers, such as the 'Blue Line Bash', and we are gradually raising enough money to provide funds to our Police Department which in the past we were not able to support." Some of the programs the Foundation aims to begin and continue to support are: The Kids and Police Program (KAP) The KAP program is a mentoring program designed to encourage positive interactions between kids and police. Chief Fandal has a true passion for this program, which he started two years ago. Funds from FOSPF provide for meals to at risk children participating in the program, events like a visit to Altitude Trampoline Park, or free snowballs from a machine bought by FOSPF. Research shows that mentors can help young people achieve success and avoid negative behaviors. 59% of mentored teenagers earn better grades, 27% are less likely to begin using alcohol, and 52% are less likely to skip school. Youth with mentors have an increased likelihood of going to college, better attitudes toward school, increased social and emotional development and improved self-esteem.


Reserve Division

Officer Tragedy Fund

The Slidell PD Reserves are comprised of officers that participate in the same training as a regular officer but they do not get paid. Their time is 100% volunteer, representing thousands of free man hours and saving our city tens of thousands of dollars. You'll see the Reserves at most events in the city, including Mardi Gras parades. The FOSPF supports their efforts by raising money to help with the cost of items such as rain gear, gloves and other items which would normally come out-of-pocket for this volunteer force.

The loss of Officer Jason Seals in November 2018 is still very fresh in Slidell's memory. With donations, the Officer Tragedy Fund will be available to help Officer families with costs during difficult times. Chief Fandal gave an example of how the Officer Tragedy Fund can be used that we can all relate to, "The State Police have a foundation similar to this. After Katrina, their foundation helped take care of the insurance deductibles for many of the troopers."

Mounted Patrol

Friends of Slidell Police Foundation hopes to also raise enough money to help in funding for a Police Command Post, leadership and advanced training, additional S.W.A.T. equipment, Officer and family events, and technology upgrades that are not currently budgeted through the city.

The Slidell PD Mounted Patrol is manned by Reserves. Their horses are utilized by the agency, however, they are privately owned, which creates funding issues. To overcome this, the foundation has raised money to assist with expenses such as feed, hay, shavings, veterinarian bills, and boarding expenses. One of their main purposes is community outreach, allowing them to reach out to those who have a dislike or fear of police and open a door to communication. They are ambassadors of goodwill. As Captain Marvin Bordelon, head of the Mounted Division shared, “It is rare for people to walk by and not want to pet the horses or talk to us about them. At most of our jobs, we are the ‘Happy Police.’”

Friends of Slidell Police Foundation is a non-profit and donations are tax deductible. To support their efforts, visit

www.FriendsofSlidellPoliceFoundation.org or mail your donation to: FRIENDS OF SLIDELL POLICE FOUNDATION 2990 GAUSE BLVD EAST SUITE C SLIDELL, LA 70461

21 3


Slidell: Our History

Story by Ted Lewis

With a history in carnival that dates back almost a century, and a heritage of itinerant lives that traces back to their Gypsy roots in Romania, the family members who own and operate Mitchell Brothers & Sons Amusements are usually going from city to city, mainly in the spring and fall fair and festival seasons.

month’s Alabama State Fair. This includes the October lineup of the St. Tammany Parish and Livingston Parish fairs, and the Andouille Festival in LaPlace and the State Fair of Baton Rouge.

portion of the entertainment for those fairs and festivals, this obviously has meant a severe economic hardship. Opportunities outside Louisiana are few and far between as well.

Until this year, that is.

All were cancelled thanks to state edicts forbidding fairs and festivals, as well as carnivals themselves.

The next scheduled gig for Mitchell Brothers is a Christmas show in Sugarland, Texas – unless it’s cancelled.

Celebrations of the Bayou State’s flora, fauna, food and just about anything else you can think of seemingly are embedded in our DNA. When the shutdown began in March, Mitchell Brothers was about to open at the Iowa Rabbit Festival.

There’s a saying in the carnival world, “If the Ferris wheel’s not turning, you’re not making any money.”

The coronavirus has done what nothing else – the Great Depression, World War II, 9/11 or even Katrina – could do. That’s shut down what has grown from a souvenir photo stand at an Ohio amusement park to one of the largest midway operations in the South. The Mitchell Brothers & Sons’ entire spring and summer seasons were scuttled, as have been the fall dates, with the exception of last 22

Yes, we’re missing the sights, the sounds, the smells and the tastes that have been with us since childhood. Where else can you get cotton candy? Moreover, for those who provide a major

It’s a very trying time in a business which often operates on the margins because of issues such as weather, increasing safety regulations requiring trained personnel, high overhead costs, and changing tastes in entertainment. “You don’t just wake up one morning and decide to become involved in the amusement


Opposing page: Mitch Mitchell, circa 1950's. Left: The original Gus Mitchell. Right: Workers from the earlier days of The Mitchell Brothers Amusements. Racial segregation was simply not a part of carnival life.

industry,” said Gus Mitchell, namesake of his grandfather. The original Gus and his brother, Pete, got things started back in the 1920s. “Our industry is very challenging and very demanding,” the present-day Gus, who now heads the family operation, added. “And, unfortunately for us, you can’t do it from home on your computer.” Actually, the Mitchells do work from home, traveling from engagement to engagement in a variety of mobile homes and RVs. In downtimes, they’re parked in the family compound which includes 40 or so rides, games and concessions, and the trucks which transport the carnival gear, thus providing the clan’s living quarters on the road as well. Living on wheels, and having your $11 million worth of inventory mobile as well, does have its advantages. When Katrina approached Slidell in 2005, the Mitchells moved everything to safety in Alexandria. And, when Sally threatened Slidell last month, they left a day early for Birmingham and the Alabama State Fair. But that ability to pull up stakes goes back centuries, back to when some of the ancestors of the Mitchells were named Yzonavitch. According to family lore, George Yzonavitch, Gus and Pete Mitchell’s father, changed his name (supposedly after seeing Mitchell on a billboard shortly after immigrating from Romania) early in the 20th century. He wanted his family to become 100 percent American. Roma, the proper designation for the bulk of those people known as Gypsies, got their name from the Sanskrit “rama” which means, “he who roams around.” It’s not random wandering, though. Gypsy travel is purposeful - a planned route from town to town, practiced by the Roma from the time they arrived in Europe, probably from northern India, sometime around 1000 AD.

It’s not such a big leap, then, to the Mitchell Brothers’ carnival caravans, especially since entertainment is another Gypsy tradition. Indeed, Ralph Mitchell, one of the elder Gus’s three sons, who became the second half of the business name, admits to having wanderlust in his blood. “I loved getting things set up and then going on to the next place to get things ready there,” he said. Ralph Mitchell, who retired five years ago, enjoyed being the preparation man so much that, until this year’s shutdown, he would still frequently gear up his camper and head out ahead of the carnival. But the Gypsies’ traveling ways also led to suspicion – sometimes well-founded – by local residents that Gypsies were tricksters at best and thieves at worse. The term “hanky-panky” comes from the Romany “hakki’ni panki,” a con where a fortuneteller swindles a housewife out of her savings. Conversely, Gypsies considered those outside their cultural group to be “gadie,” a word best translated into “bumkin” or “yokel,” making them easy marks to be exploited. Not surprisingly then, the Gypsies were often repressed and persecuted, and even enslaved, from medieval times through World War II when the Nazis executed an estimated 500,000 Roma. The result has been a global diaspora, including hundreds coming to Louisiana as early as the 1700s. Today, with at least a million people considered to have Romani ancestry, the United States has the most Gypsies in the world. George Yzonavitch and his wife (family members are unsure of her first name; and the Mitchells, like most Gypsies, were not much to write things down) came to American around the outbreak of World War I in 1914. But it wasn’t so much because of suppression back in Romania. According to Ralph Mitchell, his grandmother’s brother had earlier 23


Left: Brothers George & Deltus "Mitch" Mitchell, about 1980. Middle and Right: Mitch and his son, Gus. The Mitchell's are an extremely close family. Mitch and Gus not only worked together their entire lives, they also lived together, with Gus and his wife, Colleen, raising their kids in a loving household with the family patriarch.

immigrated to Chicago and then returned Romania and told his family, “There was gold on the streets,” in America. What transpired was an All-American story of tragedy, struggle, and ultimately, success. It’s also a story of strong devotion to family, another element of Gypsy culture that gets overlooked in their sometimes-stereotypical characterizations of its other aspects. Check the name of the company. How many others include both siblings and children? “We’re really a tribe,” Gus Mitchell said. “We work together, we respect each other, we cling together and we love each other.” Back in Chicago, the newly-minted Mitchells would have three children – son Pete, daughter Bessie and Gus. But their mother died giving birth to Gus. Six years later, George was killed by a hit-and-run driver. That left the Mitchell children basically fending for themselves, doing things like carrying bricks, to earn a living. In the early 1920s, the boys, now approaching adulthood, found themselves in Buckeye Lake, Ohio, resetting bowling pins in one of the recreation areas there. As Ralph tells it, the brothers saved enough money to buy a camera and opened a photo concession that started them touring with carnivals in the Midwest.

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From there, they added a milk bottle game, then more (including “girly shows” from time to time), plus food and drink concessions (Orange Crush was a big favorite), managing to eek out of living during the Depression while gradually growing the inventory and expanding their territory in the South. Along the way, Gus would meet his future wife, Ada, at a stop in St. Joseph, Michigan, another resort area. They would have four children, George, Deltus (called Mitch), Colleen and Ralph. By the time Ralph was born in 1943, the Mitchells had made Baton Rouge their winter home. “There was something about the Cajun culture that they found very welcoming,” Gus Mitchell said. “Maybe it was because their skins were a little dark like ours and maybe we sounded a little funny like they did. It wasn’t freezing cold in the winter, either.” In the late 1940s, a carnival based in Covington went out of business and the Mitchells took it over, actually moving to the Parish fairgrounds for a few years before buying property on Highway 25. The move to the old Pine Hill Inn property on Hwy 11 in Slidell came in the late 1960s. Rides, other than the kiddie variety, plus the obligatory merry-goround and a modest Ferris wheel, weren’t considered profitable in the early days. Gus and his son, Mitch, who became the leader of


the second generation of Mitchells, didn’t believe in them much anyway.

Fair president Dennis Glass contacted Mitch Mitchell who promised to somehow come up with a full midway. And he delivered. Mitchell Brothers has had the contact ever since.

But, in the late 1950s, Mitch persuaded his father to purchase a Scrambler, and Mitchell Brothers was on its way towards becoming what it is today. Over time, the operation, along with subcontractors, became large enough to play the largest events from East Texas to Georgia; becoming, in Gus Mitchell’s words, “a traveling Disneyland.” “My granddad and dad never wanted to have more than 15 rides,” he added. “But they found out that, if you’re going to get beyond the little church fairs and parking lots, you’ve got to get bigger or you’ll just be a rinky-dink carnival forever.” Another key to growth – integrity, something that isn’t usually associated with the carnival business. As Ralph Mitchell puts it, “My dad had two sayings, ‘You’re only as good as your word,’ and ‘Don’t accept a drink unless you can buy the other guy one back.’ “But on the first one, if you’re going to tell somebody you’re going to do something, do it, even if it costs you money.” Mitch Mitchell, who died last year, enhanced the family’s reputation, including landing the carnival’s first two parish fairs – Allen and Livingston – on the promise of delivering

“When Mr. Mitch told you something, you could take it to the bank,” said current fair president Melissa Dottolo. “Whenever there was some kind of complaint, we knew we could bring it up to him and he would find a way to make it right.” at least 15 rides, even though he owned only two at the time. Mitch Mitchell also helped the St. Margaret Mary Fair grow from food booths and homemade games into the extravaganza it is today, although another company currently provides the rides. In fact, Mitchell Brothers’ only appearance in its hometown are kiddie rides for the St. Tammany Crab Festival which was moved from Lacombe to Heritage Park a few years back. And that, like everything else, was canceled this year. However, there is the St. Tammany Parish Fair, which Mitchell Brothers did not have the carnival rights to until several years ago when the company that did backed out two weeks beforehand.

Of course, there’s no St. Tammany Fair this year; but Gus Mitchell is confident that, once the COVID-19 crisis is past, the public desire for the unique entertainment to be found at carnivals will still be there. Until then, he and the rest of the family, which now includes fourth and even fifthgeneration participants, can only wait and hope. “I think most of all I miss the people, the ones you come in contact with once a year and it’s always like a family reunion when you come to their town,” he said. “And then, there’s working so hard to get everything mapped out; and, on opening night, it’s like a sleeping giant come to life with all of the lights on and the music playing. “There’s nothing quite like it.”

25


"Continuing Coverage" s n a e l r O w e N Donna Bush, Winner - 2019 Press Club of

Story & Photos by Donna Bush

In mid-February, before Covid was even on my radar, I visited Audubon Zoo with plans to share a story about this phenomenal park so close to home. Little did I know that, just a month later, they would be shut down for the quarantine. But, guess what? They are open now! Yes, arrangements are a little different. First of all, everyone, even members, must buy their tickets online for a specific date and time. Attendance is limited each day and spaced out in 30-minute increments to constrain the number of visitors inside the facility at one time and provide room for social distancing. Masks are required inside zoo buildings and encouraged outside on zoo property. Indoor animal exhibit buildings are currently closed, as is Cypress Knee Café and the indoor dining area of Zoofari Café. Visitors will follow a one-way path around the property. I highly recommend checking out their website for the most up-to-date information. (reopen.audubonnatureinstitute.org) The Zoo got its start as a flight cage of exotic birds inside Audubon Park in 1916. It seems that many municipal facilities started with a single species or a single exhibit. Steve Marshall, Vice President and Managing Director for the Zoo, shared a funny story about zoo beginnings, “A lot of zoos were started when a traveling circus would lose a poker game to the mayor and have to leave their elephants [for payment].” 26

Audubon Zoo Over the years, the Zoo grew bigger. In 1975, management was turned over to a non-profit. Today, it incorporates 58-acres of the 360-acre Audubon Park which extends from the Mississippi River to St. Charles Avenue. The Zoo is bordered by Magazine Street and the railroad track. Although the Zoo houses 325 species, their focus is not about how large their number of animals, but about the welfare of each and every animal. They choose to focus on quality of life by reducing the number of animals, housing them in natural habitats and placing them in socially relevant groups. The Animal Welfare Act established a minimum set of standards required by anyone to exhibit animals, whether a drive-thru park, walk-thru park, an aviary, or an alligator park, etc. The minimum standards are fresh water, nutritional food, shade, and enough space to turn around. A badge-holding veterinarian checks each location to verify the standards are met. There are 2500-such permitted parks, with the permits managed by United States Department of Agriculture. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) has 230 members that maintain a much higher level of standards. These standards include running dangerous animal drills, upholding a higher level of veterinary care, discharging waste legally, employing a paid educator, supporting field conservation efforts, and maintaining a financial plan that


would carry them through a period of time should they have to be closed; which became a reality this year with Covid. Per Steve, “We are not an animal amusement park. We are an animal musement park. The definition of musing is ‘a period of reflection or deep thought.’ Audubon is an animal thinking park, inspiring visitors to contemplate the lives and the worlds these species come from during every visit.” Thanks to their collective management of geneticists and scientists caring about the heredity and lineage of the animals, they have assisted in saving the black-footed ferret, California condor, whooping cranes and many more. The Zoo is not just for tourists. Steve estimated about 70% of their visitors are residents of the area with many repeat visitors. It is a social destination for families and friends. The lion exhibit located in the African Savanah is one of their most popular. It was methodically built with age to resemble abandoned 1920s-era railcars on the African plains. There’s no shiny stainless steel. Considered an immersion exhibit, visitors will feel like they are in a real place on the Serengeti. The pride of lions contains one male and three females, who are sisters, and two cubs born in January. In the summer, A/C is vented out of the train cars to keep the lions cool. For winter, they have heated rocks! Recently, Audubon joined Disney’s The Lion King Protect the Pride campaign with a monetary donation to help lions in Africa. Their population has decreased by half due to habitat loss, diseases and poaching since the first Lion King movie was released. They hope to double the lion population by 2050. Also in the African section is thirteen-year-old Tumani, the critically endangered western lowland gorilla who recently gave birth to a baby. Sadly, the infant died, leaving the Audubon family mourning the loss. Watoto Walk (currently closed due to Covid) allows kids to get up close and personal with various animals. Watoto is Swahili for children.

The Audubon Animal Ambassador Program (currently not offering chats, feedings or trainings) utilizes various animals to provide a unique experience for visitors to learn more about the species, their natural behaviors, and habitat requirements. It is offered to encourage guests to make a difference in protecting necessary resources to preserve wildlife. Mr. Miyagi is an Eurasian eagle-owl, named for the karate teacher in The Karate Kid, that demonstrates his amazing flight skills. Chobe, a 20-year old serval, is often mistaken for a baby cheetah. This small cat weighs only 25 pounds and can run up to 55 mph, almost as fast as a cheetah. She shows off her amazing jumping skills at the watering hole. The Louisiana Swamp exhibit, a mid-level immersion exhibit, is popular with tourists and residents, alike. It provides a different perspective for locals on wildlife they are familiar with, while offering a way to safely see alligators and Louisiana black bears. Jaguar Jungle includes a nocturnal component (currently closed due to Covid), which is another immersion exhibit simulating an archaeological dig site that was reclaimed by wildlife. The exhibit has a reverse light cycle that encourages nocturnal species to be active during the day. This was implemented

27


by slowly changing the light cycle from daylight inside the building to darkness. It is very dark when you enter, so give your eyes a few moments to adjust. The best time to visit is early in the morning as they are transitioning from daylight to nighttime and a little more light exists. Think dusk. This is where you can observe ocelots, night owl monkeys, sloths, vampire bats, ringtail cats, redeyed tree frogs and Costa Rican zebra tarantulas. After leaving, you will see alpacas, capybara, tapirs, king vultures, greater rhea, red maned wolves and Patagonia hares, also known as cavies. They look like giant jackrabbits but are one of the largest species of rodents in the world. White-faced saki monkeys from the South American rainforest are known as “flying monkeys” and are capable of leaping as much as 30 feet from branch to branch. The critically endangered black and white

ruffed lemur from Madagascar is among the largest living lemurs and also the largest pollinator in the world. Pollen sticks to the ruffs of fur around their faces as they feed and is transported from tree to tree. In the Asian Domain, my favorite exhibit was the Sumatran orangutan found only on the northern part of the Indonesian Island of Sumatra living in the trees of the tropical rainforest. Females virtually never travel on the ground and adult males rarely do so. What makes Audubon Zoo different from other zoos around the country? They embrace the tropical climate that we experience, allowing them to focus on species that will thrive in this habitat. This permits them to have an Asian section, an African section and a South American section. Their goal is to make visitors aware of the connection that exists between people and wildlife and to understand that every action has an effect on resources. It may be positive, negative or benign. Their mission is to “establish the value of living things and the place that they live.” “All of the Audubon Zoo is a collective experience from the time you arrive, park your car, receive your ticket; we are committed to a guest experience that allows us to get that stewardship message across. Every aspect of the zoo makes it a valued guest experience – the chicken sandwich has to be hot; the ice cream has to be cold; the bathrooms have to be clean. We think we do that right!”

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I realize that a visit to the Zoo will be a little different from what it has been in the past due to Covid. But I encourage to go check it out and enjoy the experience. I assure you they are doing everything according to the city and state guidelines to make your visit the best it can be. Be sure to check out the virtual offerings from Audubon: audubonnatureinstitute.org/ virtual-education

Three things most people don’t know about AZA accredited zoos: 1. The level of excellent and extreme care taken of the animals. Not just physical care, but well- being, welfare, and mental state. Housing socially relevant groups of species with unique behaviors. 2. There is a requirement to do field conservation to save animals from extinction. The collective 230 facilities that are visited by approximately 190 million people per year contribute about 200 million dollars per year to boots-on-the-ground field conservation. 3. These zoos utilize their platform as a message point to all visitors to inform them, “We all have a shared responsibility for the limited resources on this planet.”


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1:31 PM

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31


ie Gates

Lesl Story by

This crazy world has me doing things that my mind could not slow down enough for in my pre-COVID life. For example, I have been playing an Xbox game with my son called “Grounded.” It is a survival game, as most of the games seem to be; but in this game, you are the same size as an ant, surviving in the front lawn of someone’s yard. He has been asking me to come play a video game with him for awhile now, but none of them really interested me enough to stick with them. I will usually just sit next to him and watch. Since I am only a pro at the very first Nintendo remote, and playing Mario Brothers or Zelda, all the extra toggles and buttons confuse me, as do the fancy new games that look so realistic that it’s a little creepy. 32

“THE GAME OF LIFE”

On these remotes, one toggle controls my up or down view of things, the other gets me in the direction I need to walk. No idea what the other buttons are for. Usually, if I am trying to stab a bug, I will push the button that brings me to a supply menu instead. Or I end up stabbing my son’s character on accident. The toggles confuse me, so I kind of just spin in circles while looking directly up at the sky. I feel stupid because I just cannot seem to catch on. To be honest, it is how I feel every day of my life, even when I am not in a video game toggling in the wrong direction, staring at the sky, spinning in circles as I push buttons to enter my debit card PIN into the microwave.

When I get frustrated and lost inside this strange world of tall grass and psycho bugs, I like to look at my son's view of me in the game and laugh at my character who appears she is doing the MC Hammer, the Macarena, the Electric Slide, and bird watching, all at once. Being the patient child he is, he constantly, but lovingly, reminds me how to gain control of my character again. Then, as he is doing this, a spider will come up behind me to attack. As I am trying to give it a Boot Scootin’ Boogie up its ass, he is already killing it with the weapon he made from thorns, leaves and sticks. I pretty much just twirl around, throwing my random dance moves in the air. It really is sweet to watch him become my hero. He always says something like, “Don’t worry, Mom. I will get you through.”


This game is fun for me, but I could not play it on my own. There are many unknown obstacles to the normal, human-sized eye in this game, as you could imagine, which got me thinking… What if I were the same size as an ant and was placed in my house? How much bigger would the obstacles be if the survival strategy were to make it out of the house alive? I thought about how poetic that could be, so, I wrote this silly little poem… She stood inside a big white circle, painted on a square. The square was black and full of dust, and on it was a hair. “What a filthy place!” she said. Then, above her came a glow.

like something dead.

her desperation grew.

The ground beneath her tiny feet was made of many rocks

There was a leather canopy with a bumpy little pouch,

That is when she realized, she was in the litter box. Jumping out, she did not care if she would break her head, She low-crawled through the grouted trench, past a piece of moldy bread. "When I get big, I’ll pick that up, but for now I’m gonna run!" She made it to a metal box that must have weighed a ton. There was a soft white place to rest, under this metal box.

She recognized the computer screen, and below the letter “O”.

She looked around, “I can’t believe… it’s all the missing socks!”

Crawling through the alphabet, then down onto the wood,

Taking note, she hurried out, across the tiled floor.

She took a bite of cookie crumb, while at the table's edge, she stood.

“When will someone save me! I can’t take it anymore!”

How will I get down from here without making a splat?

She climbed across a colored mountain that must have been a mile.

A second passed, she heard a THUMP, then saw the family cat.

She laughed out loud and shook her head, “It’s just the laundry pile.”

“GET DOWN!” She yelled, as usual. But it was just a peep.

She focused on the front door… the place she would be freed.

So she grabbed onto the kitty’s hair before it made the leap.

But walking forward, she got knocked down by a dog hair tumbleweed.

Falling to the ground, she rolled, while covering her head,

“Will I ever make it out?! There’s so much I need to do!”

Then stood back up and took a breath, it smelled

Then she bumped her shin on a bobby pin, as

She sliced it open with the pin… “I’m underneath the couch!” It started raining items that had been gone for quite awhile A phone charger, the white remote, and someone’s missing child. The end was getting closer now as she pranced across the floor, She walked out with a smile, through the crack under the door. The sun shined on her little cheeks as a bird began to sing, Then a wasp flew down right at her, so she grabbed onto its wing. It dropped her in the grass below to a yard an acre wide, She looked around, fell to the ground, and in her hands she cried. “I thought that I had saved myself! So why am I still small!” She looked straight up and spun around, then bumped into a wall. I cannot do this on my own! So now what will I do!?” She heard a voice… “Don’t worry Mom. I will get you through.”

33


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“Your Estate Matters” By Ronda M. Gabb, NP, JD, RFC

Legal-ease

PREPARATION is the KEY! We always talk about PRE-planning things, but what does that really mean? Well, it means you have to make a plan BEFORE anything bad happens, not after. Unfortunately, many of the calls we get come from folks who have lost the opportunity to pre-plan - perhaps a loved one has had an accident, a stroke, or now has advanced dementia or Alzheimer’s. Under the law, you must be competent to execute any documents, such as powers of attorney, living wills, and last wills and testaments. Once someone has become incompetent, it is far too late. Planning for incapacity, in my opinion, is more important than planning for death. If someone becomes incompetent, and they have no prior plan in place, how are their ongoing bills going to be paid at a time when their monthly expenses tend to skyrocket because of their additional medical and long term care costs? What if properties need to be sold or mortgaged to bring in extra money? What if we need to access monies from their investments or retirement accounts? Who has the legal authority to do this? If you think a spouse has this power simply by operation of law, think again. If there was not a power of attorney in place,

no one (not even your spouse), can legally sign on behalf of the incapacitated person without having to go to court. This costly, scary, humiliating, and timeconsuming court procedure is called an “Interdiction” (called a Guardianship or Conservatorship in other states). The incapacitated person must be sued and get personally served (usually by a Sheriff’s deputy in uniform) with court papers. All parties must physically go (in most cases) to court and the Judge will decide based on the evidence presented if indeed the Interdiction is warranted. If so, the Judge will then appoint a “Curator” to preside over the Interdict’s affairs. This Curator very well may not have been the person that the Interdict would have chosen, and their powers are not as broad and all-encompassing as what they would have been if a good power of attorney had been in place. It also makes planning for Medicaid eligibility (if the interdict needs to go into a nursing home) almost impossible as the Curator is not allowed to implement gifting in the ways we usually do (like gifting the primary home to the spouse or disabled child). Because anyone, young or old, can become incompetent at any time, I believe that every

legal adult (meaning age 18 or older) should have a comprehensive power of attorney in place. Yes, this even means your kids who are away at college! The power of attorney should not only cover the management of your assets, but also the management of your health care. For this reason, in most cases, we actually draft two separate powers of attorney, one covering finances and one for health care. Additionally, you always want to name a successor Agent (or two) to serve in case the person you have chosen becomes incompetent, or dies before you do. Agreed, this is not a pleasant topic to broach with parents, spouses, or loved ones. However, if you could ask someone who is living through the nightmare of an unplanned incapacity if they wished they would have PRE-planned, I assure you their answer would be a resounding YES. Now you see that the PRE in the plan is the KEY to the plan! Remember this:

“People don’t plan to fail… they simply fail to plan.”

See other articles and issues of interest! Ronda M. Gabb is a Board Certified Estate Planning and Administration Specialist certified by the Louisiana Board of Legal Specialization. She is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the Governor’s Elder Law Task Force. Ronda grew up in New Orleans East and first moved to Slidell in 1988, and now resides in Clipper Estates.

40 Louis Prima Drive (off Hwy 190, behind Copeland’s) • Covington, Louisiana • (985) 892-0942 • RondaMGabb.com


Sponsored By:

by Jeff Perret, DVM

ANTI-VACC

A veterinarian who practices alternative medicine in my area recently told a mutual client that she shouldn't get her dog’s next rabies vaccine, suggesting that it would likely do more harm than good, and may even be fatal. The client had told me about this advice, so I reached out to my colleague, asking about the position he held. He felt it was his obligation to educate her about potential adverse effects, and sent me an email with a link to a 2016 paper from the journal Global Vaccines and Immunology. In addition, he sent a link to the Rabies Challenge Fund (RCF), an organization co-founded by Dr. Dodds. The RCF is trying to determine the duration of immunity conveyed by rabies vaccines. Their goal is to extend the required interval for rabies boosters to 5 and then to 7 years. I think this is a worthy goal, however, we want to make sure we have good evidence before we make such sweeping changes. I responded to Alternative Doctor with another email. I won’t reproduce it word-for-word here, but what follows covers the gist of it. My first question: Is this a reliable, reputable scientific journal? I know of two ways to check. The first is Beall’s List, a list of potentially “predatory” journals and publishers. A predatory journal charges authors money to publish their papers, and may not subject studies to review by other scientists. Open Access Text is the company that publishes Global Vaccines and Immunology, and is listed as a known

predatory publisher, charging a publishing fee of $2500 per article. Legitimate research journals do not take money from scientific authors. The second sign of a reputable publisher or journal is membership in the Open Access Scholarly Publisher’s Association (OASPA), an association that reviews scientific journals to make sure they maintain high standards. The journal that has the article originally referenced, Global Vaccines and Immunology, is not a member of OASPA. Thus, I realized that this article was in a journal that may not have strong peer review standards, and may just be making money by charging the authors and allowing scientists to self-publish bad research without scrutiny. That publishing route is at the opposite end of the gold-standard spectrum of peer-reviewed journals that have been subjected to scientific scrutiny. Any vaccine or drug may produce adverse reactions, up to and including death, but serious or fatal vaccine reactions are exceedingly rare. In the article provided, most of the adverse effects noted are associated with aluminum or mercury additives, often called thimerosal. The rabies vaccine we use does not contain aluminum or mercury. In human medicine, a connection between aluminum and autoimmune disease was postulated, but two subsequent studies refuted this claim.

Dr. Jeff recommends:

LET THEM ENJOY THE START OF AUTUMN - free of FLEAS. 36

WITH BRAVECTO. ®


While opposition to vaccines is as old as the vaccines themselves, there has been a recent surge in the opposition to some human vaccines in general, and against the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine in particular. Most notable is the notorious British ex-physician, Andrew Wakefield, and his discredited, retracted works. Gullible public acceptance of Wakefield’s debunked research has caused multiple measles outbreaks in Western countries, where measles virus had been considered eliminated. In reality, vaccination is one of the greatest innovations in scientific and medical history. It has saved millions of lives and immeasurable suffering, and its benefits far, far outweigh its adverse effects. The benefit of vaccination to pets in the veterinary world equals its contribution to human health. Rabies is a terrifying disease. Vaccinating against it is one of the most important ways veterinarians protect people. That’s why rabies vaccine laws are overly conservative. One of the best lectures I’ve ever heard was by a veterinary school professor who had been exposed to rabies four times, starting in the Philippines in World War II. He owed his life to the many vaccines he had received. So, what to do? Clearly, there are risks to any medical procedure. Vaccines can have adverse effects, but they are rare. Louisiana laws allow for medical exemptions, although I was not convinced that these applied to Sweet Elderly Dog. I might avoid or delay a vaccine in cases where my patient was undergoing, say, chemotherapy or treatment for an autoimmune disease. My policy is to follow the law with regard to rabies vaccines, for the protection of my patients, my staff and my clients. I haven't heard back from Alternative Doctor. Sweet Elderly Dog had her rabies vaccination at my clinic on the day it was due, and has had no issues since.

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Some anti-vaccine activists tout the use of titers in place of regularly scheduled vaccinations. Titers measure the levels of antibodies in an individual that may be used to try to determine if that individual is protected from a disease. Challenge studies are the gold standard, where individuals with known titer levels are exposed to the disease, and we can see if their antibody levels protect them. Data shows that even the recommended cutoff level of presumed protective antibodies used for international travel for humans is not protective in all cases. When dealing with rabies, I’m unwilling to accept anything less than 100% efficacy in challenge studies. The disease is fatal, untreatable, and horrible for pets and for people. Even the RCF website is not recommending titers in place of vaccines until we can be sure that titers are a reliable measure of actual immunity and protection from challenge, not just of antibody levels. This indicates to me that titers can’t be trusted, at least not yet, to guide our decision making.

Roux • No Exposure to Diseases or Parasites from Other Dogs • Medication Administered • Less Separation Anxiety • Insulin Injections • Waste Cleanup • Mail Pickup • Daily Walks • Nail Trim

Gina Triay 37


Your Harbor Center is welcoming Events back in October! Slidell Gun & Knife Show,

October 10-11

Gulf Coast Sportsmen & Outdoor Expo

October 16-18

H.E.R.P. Exotic Reptile & Pet Show

October 24-25

Ducks Unlimited Banquet

October 29

Steps we are taking to keep you well when you return: • Providing hand sanitizer stations

• Sanitizing the facility & equipment after each event

• Sanitizing frequent touch points hourly during events

• We strongly recommend guests maintain social distance

• New floorplans that provide social distancing

• In accordance with state & parish mandate, masks are

• Conducting wellness checks of staff

38

mandatory at all times while inside


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Her extensive Customer Service experience translates perfectly to a career in Real Estate. Her dedication and drive make her the perfect fit to help you with your Real Estate needs. In addition, Leslie has many outside interests in the community and has volunteered well over 2000 hours at Children’s Hospital. We are excited that she has joined our family.

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YOUR LOUISIANA REAL ESTATE COMPANY BATON ROUGE • NEW ORLEANS NORTHSHORE • & SURROUNDING AREAS No matter where you are moving from, CENTURY 21 Investment Realty’s Relocation Services Division makes it a smooth, hassle-free experience.

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