Slidell Magazine - November 2021

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THE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE OF SLIDELL

WE KEEP IT FRESH

SAY KEEP IT POSITIVE

Vol. 133 November 2021

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Editor’s Letter My glorious friend, surrogate father, and Slidell Magazine “Storyteller”, John Case, has won the award for 2021 BEST COLUMN from the Press Club of New Orleans. This is the second time in just 4 years that John has won this highly competitive award from one of the oldest and most prestigious press clubs in America. I get unbeliveably sentimental when I talk about John. In addition to being someone I consider family, I feel that I owe my entire career to him. Although I had published my first edition a year before I met him, Slidell Magazine truly began with John’s first story. John credits me with “discovering” him. I giggle everytime I hear him say that. Sure, I’ll take that credit (it’s like pointing to the sun and claiming you’re the one who found it). The truth is, all I did was LISTEN. ENJOY. COPY. PASTE. If anyone were to ask me what it takes to run a successful magazine business, I’d say, “Find a John Case, and publish him.”

In the past ten years, we’ve published 115 stories and two books together. We’ve given dozens of speeches and held countless readings. We’ve cried from the audience as John’s stories were adapted into plays and brought to life on stage. It’s been an incredible journey. Every month, he tells me that it might be his last story. I just smile and nod and remind him that Slidell Magazine retires when he does. Then he turns out another fantastic piece of work. He’s a natural talent, but that’s not to say he hasn’t worked very hard to hone his skills. Other than being a voracious reader, John’s also been a lifelong student of writer symposiums and courses. You wanna know the craziest thing about all of this? He has no idea how good he is. When it all boils down, he thinks of himself as just another writer, like many of us who jot in journals, or wax poetic on Facebook. John’s as humble a fella as you’d ever meet. Meanwhile, he’s beating out Pulitzer Prize winning authors for Best Column. Congratulations and thank you, Storyteller, for sharing your talent with me and our beautiful community.

COVER: ONE LAST SELFIE

MAGAZINE STAFF Kendra Maness Editor / Publisher Editor@slidellmag.com

Kendra Maness Editor / Publisher

Michael Bell Graphic Designer Graphics@slidellmag.com

artist: m. h. reed FROM THE ARTIST: The image on this cover is the last of my Circle Series, paying tribute to the artworks of Norman Rockwell. I have recreated (in my own way) Rockwell’s “Freedom from Want.” It also pays tribute to my late father, who is the focal point of the image. I call it “One Last Selfie,” as it depicts the Thanksgiving dinner that never would be.

Krista Gregory Administrative Assistant Krista@slidellmag.com

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS John Case “The Storyteller”

Donna Bush Alligators: The Surviving Dinosaurs

Charlotte Collins Extraordinary Slidell Neighbors

Ted Lewis Slidell History

Mike Rich Making Cents of Your Money

Ronda M. Gabb Legal-Ease

NEVER MISS A COPY! SUBSCRIBE TODAY! only $39 / year www.Slidellmag.com Visit our website to subscribe, view current & past editions, view advertising rates & more!

PO Box 4147 Slidell, LA 70459 www.slidellmag.com 985-789-0687

“The Ballad of M.T.Reed” Mitchell “Mike” Reed was the toughest person I have ever met. He could be mean, or he could be nice. I would have always recommended meeting the nice. At one time, he was a merchant marine; and, another, he was a biker and a welder. He went to Woodstock only to leave because it was too crowded. Once, he rode his motorcycle down the breezeway of Slidell High. He broke his leg getting over a fence. Then, he climbed up the telephone tower in Olde Towne to get a flag that was hanging from it. If you can remember it, he was even at the shootout at the Bastille. The greatest thing he ever did was to marry my mom (who tamed him?). Together, they would raise two boys (one of them was me). He was friends with, or at least knew, everyone. He was always there for us. I will always miss him. If you like my work, you can see more of it on Facebook, on Slidell Magazines, or anything Mona Lisa Moonpie. 5


Patrick Henry, Jr.

A biography by Charlotte Collins

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” ~ Pablo Picasso

Here we go again, another Google Meet interview, after a brief reprieve from the original COVID pandemic. This month I had the pleasure to interview a Slidell Magazine cover artist. I can’t wait for you to see his incredible artwork on next month’s cover! I saw a guy with a big, broad smile, and warm, brown eyes. His hands were just as expressive as his face. As our introductions came to a close, Patrick explained that he was born in 1985 in Mandeville. Not the Mandeville near us, but Mandeville in Jamaica. Far up in the hills and way out in the country is how Patrick described his childhood home. They were ruled by the British, which explains why the name of his parish is Manchester. The colonial laws and culture greatly affected the way he was brought up, as we will learn. Some of Patrick’s earliest and favorite memories are art related. Looking up and nodding, he started slowly, “I remember starting school, we call it 6

Basic School, and just seeing cows everywhere as I walked to school.” He chuckled and swept his hand to imply the amount of cows across the landscape. “As soon as I got home, I remember lying underneath my bed, and I just started to sketch one of those cows on the canvas that covered the bottom of the mattress. I think I was five years old. I remember it because I was so proud at my efforts. It’s crazy because I still have that photographic memory etched in my mind. I could still draw it to this day!” And he punctuated this memory by closing his eyes, then opening them wide to inform me, “I drew and drew, all over, covering the entire mattress, with nothing but… more cows!” And he laughed a deep belly laugh. As an art teacher, I wanted so badly to see his early drawings, before his personal style was changed by his peer’s and grownup’s well-meaning comments. But Patrick told me that no one had cameras in his rural Mandeville. As I expected, he went on to relate that his

sketching didn’t stop with the mattress cover. The young artist drew in all of his school notebooks during class. We all had one of those classmates, right? Those are the students I help teachers identify. These students draw almost obsessively. Fortunately, in Louisiana, we have a Talented Arts Program. If their teachers, or even their parents, report these exceptional abilities, those students are screened, then evaluated by certified professionals. If they pass the drawing and cognitive tests, they receive weekly art instruction, geared towards each individual’s exceptionality within their area of talent. For this young student, it was his English teacher who first recognized Patrick’s talent. “She came in and started writing something on the board. I remember I impressed her so much because I imitated just the way she wrote the words on these little cards she gave us to practice on. All the kids were trying to make their lines correctly, and when she came to mine, she couldn’t tell my writing apart from hers. That was


in the first grade. Now, in Jamaica, kids were very competitive. Everyone wants to be the best at something. Her attention to my accuracy brought on a competition between other kids in the class.” He smiled as he imitated his classmates, “‘Oh, I can do that too! I can draw better than you!’” There were two other boys who insisted they were just as good at drawing, so Miss Bent proclaimed a drawing competition. The rest of the class got to vote on the winner. Of course, Patrick won. “When I went to the second grade, the same thing happened. So the teachers told my dad, Patrick Sr., that I needed more of a challenge. So, I skipped third grade and went on to fourth grade. I think my dad had a lot to do with my success. He was a world traveler, working on the S.S. Norway for the Norwegian Cruise Lines, and would teach us world events. He always came home with a map and pictures from every place he visited, and my sister and I were taught about every country. He would point to any spot on the map, and we would be asked to name the location, its capitol, and tell about the area.” If any of you have ever skipped a grade, or had a child that did, you know there are pros and cons about moving up a level in school. “Of course the big kids are looking at me, like, what’s this little kid doing with us? So the fourth grade was kind of rough for me.” Luckily, he did well in fifth and sixth grades. He began high school, which in Jamaica starts at seventh grade, when he was only 10 years old. Laughing heartily, and nodding slowly, Patrick agreed, “I was pretty young. I remember everybody’s looking at me, since I was the smallest one there. And remember, in Jamaica, we’re very competitive. It’s all about who’s the fastest…who’s the strongest. It’s very, very tough, especially with athletics. They asked me what I could do, and I just pulled out my pencil!”

“So the big kids figured out that I was no competition and just let me be. I became the quiet kid that just drew. They wouldn’t even look my way because, in their minds, I was just that weird kid. Patrick was only in the Third Form, which is ninth grade here, when teachers started seeing that he really had something going on with his art. They started putting him in all kinds of art competitions. “I swept them all! I began to get a little name in the town. Jamaica is an island, and it’s not really big. So, my name spread through all of Mandeville, and everybody just knew me as the Patrick that could draw. I grew up with around 30 people in my neighborhood. So I entertained myself by drawing.” Patrick found his dad’s art portfolio and he realized that the brilliant, worldly man whom he so admired was more like himself than he had imagined! Patrick Jr. found out that his father had attended art school when he was younger. When he questioned his dad why he hadn’t revealed this fact, or shared his artwork with Patrick, his dad’s answer was brilliant: “I didn’t want to get in your way.” Patrick Sr. gave his son his art portfolio. “It opened a new level for me because he’s bringing in new concepts like shading and a style of color usage that I was not used to. I started copying some of his techniques, and teachers started asking me to make charts for their classrooms.” In Mandeville, they mostly had graphite, not so much watercolors or acrylics. They taught him the color wheel in the Fourth Form with cheap poster paint, which Patrick, wrinkling his nose, described as chalky. His color wheel was the first time he had ever painted. Patrick admitted, “By the time I got to 10th grade, I had already mastered everything in my dad’s book. So, I started making art portfolios of my own. The Caribbean Examination

Council, CXC, gave me a distinction in technical drawing and a distinction in visual arts. I chose not to go to the Sixth Form, which equates to 11th grade in the U.S. I wanted to go to an art school. The top art school in Jamaica is the Edna Manley School of Art. My mom and I were excited leaving rural Mandeville and going into Kingston, the main city, as we went for my interview at the school.” Laughing that contagious deep, belly laugh of his, he explained, “I had never been to Kingston before. I remember just looking around and there was art everywhere, sculptures and murals! It felt like I was surrounded by a whole bunch of other weirdos like me, people that don’t fit the norm.” Patrick felt at home in the artsy community of Kingston. At the interview, they asked Patrick’s age right off the bat. He was almost 16, and the youngest person in the college was 17. Needless to say, they did not accept him. But the young artist kept applying, and kept hearing that he was just too young. Now, Patrick was brimming with energy, enthusiasm, and a burning desire to pursue the arts. With confidence and persistence, he was accepted to another college, Miccom College. The administrator, Mr. Ewan Peart, explained that they only had room for 6 of the 14 students interviewing. Mr. Peart arranged 20 wine bottles on a table and told them all to start drawing. Patrick described, “I’m detailing this one bottle, and Mr. Peart says, ‘You only have a half hour left.’ I started on the second bottle, and I felt like a rookie when I saw that the other students were already done. It was a humbling moment, and I went back to my mom waiting in the car, and told her I didn’t do well. Her answer was, ‘You never know what God has planned for you.’ Then the phone rang, and it was crazy, but they called me back to the classroom. Mr. Peart said, ‘I think I can work with you. You’re gonna start next week.”

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Patrick would have to live on his own in Kingston for the next four years.” Imagine how daunting that reality must have been at first. In Mandeville, all they heard about the city was the murder and violence. His mother would have to leave the young boy with his suitcase in the midst of all the older boys. Looking down and nodding his head slowly, he admitted, “I was so scared, this was all new to me.” “The first year, I was in my comfort zone because it was all drawing and graphics, and I did really well.” Then he scrunched his mouth to the side and revealed that the second year was going to be painting. Patrick’s reaction was, “Oh my God. Not this again. Now, I’ve never seen oil paints or acrylics. My teacher, Mr. Peart, was handing out supplies and asking students which they preferred. I had to admit that I had never painted. He told me it would be alright and handed me acrylics and a canvas, and told me he would help me. I went up to my room and created my first painting. It was a horse and buggy in a typical Jamaican country scene. When it was done I was impressed with myself! I was used to having those tight, restricted lines and now I realized I didn’t have to do that anymore. It was a freeing experience.”

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Patrick brought it to Mr. Peart, who questioned if he really painted it. The conclusion from his art instructor was that Patrick was a natural painter. He started handing Patrick books on artists and art history. He learned that realism is only one form of art, and studied Rembrandt, then abstractionists like Picasso and Salvador Dali. He recalled, “Ever since then, I was painting every day. I got to where I was fast, and prolific. Finally, I’m transforming bottles into something meaningful. But Mr. Peart kept every one of my paintings! I couldn’t afford the supplies, so that was our deal. He could see the fire in my eyes! I basically painted my way through art school,” he grinned from ear to ear. However, in Jamaica, there were only about three million residents at that time, leaving no opportunities for artists. Patrick’s sister, Mandi, was living in Nevada, so Patrick moved to America. He vividly remembers going through Coast Guard inspection and four different immigration checkpoints, then the background checks. Finally, he was cleared to work. He and his sister got jobs in Port Fourchon, Louisiana, which ultimately led to job offerings in New Orleans. Patrick raised his eyebrows enthusiastically, saying, “Wow, I had never heard of New Orleans! Mandi said that they just had a big win with their American football team, but that was about all we knew. And I found that I just loved New Orleans! It felt like home, and some of the accents sounded Caribbean. My language, Patois, fit right in. Me and my sister, we decided to stay,” he nodded enthusiastically. “We worked


for our boss for six months, and she was so gracious. She bought me art supplies!” As fate may have it, some kind soul gave the brother and sister the break they needed, a job, a chance to save up money and, for Patrick, a chance to focus on his art. Eventually, they found their own place in a Jamaican community in New Orleans. Patrick got a job at the Roosevelt Hotel, and Mandi was cooking at a Jamaican restaurant. By now, the artist had accrued a body of work. Mandi told her new boss about her brother’s talent, and he put one of Patrick’s “Bob Marley” paintings in his store. With wide eyes, the artist announced, “He sold that painting at his store for $1,000! I sold a couple of other paintings for that price, as well. My previous boss had bought me, like, 300 canvases and told me to just paint, which I had done! I was just excited at this break. My very first art show in America was at his store, the Denim Library, and they all sold! All I had to do was pay my patron back for the canvases.” Soon, people approached him to paint or draw certain things. His dad, who was also a preacher, was telling him, “Just keep painting… never stop.” And Patrick listened. Unfortunately, about that same time, his dad grew ill. He kept the colon cancer from his son, for fear he may leave America. Through the painful phase of the disease, his dad kept saying, “There will be victory. Even though the army will be shed.” Patrick admitted that he did not understand the meaning. Once his father passed, his mother and brother, Gavin, moved here, and Patrick once again had his family surrounding him. Finally, the son understood his dad’s foretelling. Shaking his head solemnly, he interpreted, “Even though I lost my father, my army, I now had my family, and I was doing pretty well in the art world. I named my business Victory Arts, in honor of my dad, who died when he was only 49 years old.” Patrick left his job at the Roosevelt and sold paintings. When financial times got tough, he took a job at Amtrack, along with Mandi. His excitement grew as he described, “I was going back and forth to New York, Chicago, all over the country with this job. And I’m going to art shows and seeing new art. My art was getting better and better with new techniques. I started making really nice frames for my art, and then woodworking became part of my art. My paintings were no longer flat, like they used to be. I was able to buy a table saw, a miter saw, drills, and all these tools. I began to let the art pay for itself, and my work kept getting better.” He was swinging his hand like a tornado.

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Once again, he decided to make a go at his art career fulltime, and really marketed himself. His private Instagram page took off, and he upgraded it to a business page. Excitedly, he calculated, “It was crazy, but I made twice 9


1.) Happy 1st birthday to a little Patrick. 2.) Patrick’s mom and dad at home in Mandeville, Jamaica. 3.) Patrick Sr. receiving an employee recognition award from the captain of the SS Norway. 4.) Here’s Patrick in the fourth grade, only seven years old.

as much as I made at my previous job. Now that I found Slidell, I am just happy and want to paint. I barely go anywhere because I’m always painting.” I asked how he found Slidell, and Patrick opened his arms so wide, his hands went past the edges of my screen, saying, “I looove Slidell. Oh my God! I drove out here and just fell in love. I finally bought a car and I used to just drive around, getting to know New Orleans. I hated being lost. Here I am from a little town on the island and here are all these big roads and highways. Next thing I know, I’m driving across Lake Pontchartrain on this big bridge. When I got to the other side, it was so peaceful. And I kept driving, thinking, oh, it’s nice and quiet over here, and

parking is ample. I would love to live out here. So I saved my money and bought me a nice little house. My sister Mandi bought a house in Westwego, and Mom lives near her, so we are all happy.” I finally got to meet Patrick in person when we met on my dock to do the final edits of this story. As he leaned back and relaxed, he looked around, and bolted up again. “Oh my God, it’s so beautiful out here! It’s almost like being home in Jamaica! It’s so quiet and peaceful and you can see forever!” Sweeping his arm across the marsh and distant tree line, he described, “From here to that tree line is how isolated my neighborhood was. And way over there, at that tree line,

would have been the big bat cave, where I would hang out almost every day. I used to run for miles, all over the countryside.” He sat back now, and looked off, picturing his homeland as he detailed the birds he used to chase: ribbontailed hummingbirds, streamertails, turtle doves, Jamaican lizard cuckoos, parrots, canaries, parakeets, on and on. In fact, they had a huge walk-in pen with up to 27 species not found anywhere else. Look them up, it is worth your while to see these beautiful, exotic creatures. He looked over at my house and inquired about its age. We walked through, as he pointed out things that reminded

Left: Patrick and sister Mandi. Middle: This colorful example of Patrick’s art literally jumps off the canvas. Right: Patrick painting at a festival in Heritage Park. Look for him at upcoming festivals and art shows throughout Olde Towne and beyond. 10


Left: Patrick’s family home in Mandeville, Jamaica. Right: Patrick visits Columbia. With a love of cultural knowledge passed down from his father, Patrick travels to as many places as he can, learning about their art and culture, which helps him expand his own art.

him of home, like the kerosene lamp, which they called “a home sweet home lamp”. He explained that this was the nightlight his family used to put on when the shadows grew long. Suddenly, the gap between his home and mine seemed much smaller. Looking over the damage from Hurricane Ida, he reminded me that Jamaica is where she, and all those blustering bullies, began. Though they never got more than a Category 3 storm on that end, he reminded me how to restore flooded things, “One cocoa, one cocoa, full basket!” That was his grandmother’s saying to teach patience during difficult endeavors. “That is how my father built our home, little by little, with help from descendants of the African Maroons

who had great building knowledge and skills.” This led me on another inquisitive search. I learned that Maroon communities still exist in the isolated, remote, mountains of Jamaica, where they had fled in order to escape slavery. They built their own villages, and handed down this building knowledge generation after generation. In fact, they have maintained their cultural and religious beliefs and ceremonies, which are still held to this day. Now I have a new place added to my bucket list! I want to experience the cities with local art, like Kingston, all the way to the remote mountains, like Accompong, taking time to see the birds and other wildlife along the way.

But how about Patrick’s bucket list? Most certainly, it includes regular visits home. Currently, he and Mandi are working on curriculums for schools to use. But that is not his end goal. He smiled that fabulous grin and said, “I’m an artist, not an art educator. I want to make enough money from my art to travel, because that improves my painting. My goal is to leave a legacy in art, and strive to be the best that I can be. At this point, I’m in a competition with myself, trying to be better and better! I want to help the young “me’s” out there, you know?” And he opened his hands as if letting go. All I could do was smile and say, “Yes, I do know!”

Left and Middle: Patrick’s work is highly sought after and collected by many recognizable celebrities. Here’s Patrick with two of his friends and collectors, Jazz legends Kermit Ruffins and Trombone Shorty. Right: Patrick’s art has expanded with multi-dimensional woodworking. 11


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JANUARY

7 - 22

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FEB

FEB. 11 - 19

WORLD PREMIER!

4 - 26

MARCH

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APRIL

DECEMBER 3 - 12

NOVEMBER 19 & 20

ARETHA Franklin tribute

FRI & SAT 7PM - SUN 2PM

ONE WEEKEND ONLY! FRI & SAT 8PM

I Want My MTV

22 - 30

APRIL

GIFT!

X-MAS

MAKE A G REAT

TICKETS

SEASON

T S M I R AS H C

T HI S


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Slidell Council Meeting > 6:30 PM

Food for Seniors Distribution Day • 1 - 3 PM Good Samaritan Ministry

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CGTLEA Golf Tournament Oak Harbor

BUSINESS AFTER HOURS Jefferson Financial Mandeville > 4:30 - 6:30 PM

WEDNESDAY

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Slidell Council Meeting > 6:30 PM

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BINGO! Every Tues & Thurs • 3 PM Slidell Lions Club • 356 Cleveland Ave.

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DECEMBER

ARTISTS OF THE YEAR EXHIBIT • Slidell City Hall Gallery By Appointment Only > Wednesdays - Fridays / 12 - 4 PM > Show runs November 5 - December 17

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Dine Out for Rainbow Child Care The Wine Market • 5 PM

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FREE GREENWOOD CEMETERY TOURS by “The Storyteller” JOHN CASE TUESDAYS - THURDAYS • NOON - 1PM • By Appointment • 985-707-8727

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TUESDAY REDISTRICTING: How will it affect you? Register > StTammanyChamber.org ZOOM CALL > 9 AM

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SHOP LOCAL

Everything you need is right here!

Olde Towne Christmas Market Antique District 10 AM - 4 PM

SAINTS @ EAGLES > NOON

CLUE Slidell Little Theatre > 2 PM

SAINTS @ TITANS > NOON

CLUE Slidell Little Theatre > 2 PM

Slidell Gun & Knife Show 10 AM - 4 PM SAINTS vs FALCONS > NOON

DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME

SAINTS vs BUCS > 3:25 PM

Slidell Street Fair Olde Towne • 10 AM - 5 PM

NOVEMBER

OCTOBER

ALL SAINT’S DAY

MONDAY

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SUNDAY

B2B Networking Covington Chamber 8:30 AM RIBBON CUTTING The Peristyle at Beau West Mandeville > 11:30 AM

OZONE Songwriter Night Wine Garden • 6 PM

RIBBON CUTTING Legacy Hospice Covington > 11:30 AM

THURSDAY

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SAINTS vs COWBOYS > 7:20 PM

SAINTS vs BILLS > 7:20 PM

Lobby Lounge Series Shake ‘Em Up Jazz Band • 7 PM

Business Appreciation Luncheon Benedict’s Mandeville > 11:30 AM

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4

Patriot Day Concert Heritage Park • 4 - 6 PM

LSU vs. ARKANSAS > T.B.D.

Olde Towne Slidell Art Market Green Oaks Apothecary • 4 - 9 PM

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LSU vs. ULM > T.B.D. 27

Lions Club Pancake Breakfast 8-11AM

2 0 2 1

#StTammanyStrong

N O V E M B E R

Lions Club Pancake Breakfast 8-11am

SEC CHAMPIONSHIP > 4 PM

Olde Towne Christmas Market Antique District 10 AM - 4 PM LSU vs. TEXAS A&M > T.B.D. 4 LA Food Truck Festival 11 AM - 3 PM Christmas Under the Stars • Griffith Park • 6 - 9 PM

BLACK FRIDAY

RAY: A Tribute to Ray Charles > Cutting Edge Theater > 8 PM

Hospice Lip Sync Challenge Nathan’s Restaurant • 6 PM

Camellia City Farmer’s Market Every Saturday 8 AM - Noon

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CLUE > Slidell Little Theatre > 8 PM

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Mom & Mary!

CLUE > Slidell Little Theatre > 8 PM

Best Christmas Pageant Ever (musical) > Slidell Little Theatre > 8 PM This Christmas (musical) > Cutting Edge Theater > 7 PM

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Slidell Gun & Knife Show 9 AM - 5 PM LSU @ ALABAMA > T.B.D.

SATURDAY 6

FRIDAY Artists of the Year Exhibit Opening Reception City Hall Gallery > 7 PM

OZONE Music Festival • Fri - Sun Mandeville Trail Head

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ew Orleans N f o b u l C s s e r 2021 Winner, "Best Column," P

The

Storyteller REBELLION If writers catch the essence of reality, they have well demonstrated the attachment southerners have for the place they call home. With “home,” I mean home place, town, community, crossroads, or even state. It is as if that one geographical location will guide their thinking, their ambitions and their outlook on life. It is a common thread that binds them together, and it seems to make life easier, as a crutch helps someone to walk. There are contradictions, however. Raymond Thompson had other ideas about life. Rebel, malcontent, non-conformist, and a target for bad luck, all he was. Yes, but somehow, he drew us to him like a magnet. Nothing about him was normal. Some things you are better off not knowing; but, whatever, he was strange and powerful. Even powerful at a young age. Uncanny, almost as if possessed by some alluring magic, we watched him and followed him, if only at a distance; sometime wishing to follow him and sometime knowing to avoid him. Maybe it was because he did not have a geographical center hold. The one southerners rely on so much. After all, he had been raised all over the county; and, everywhere he went, he left his mark. Not always a good one and not always a bad one; but, from the time he was nine years old, he never left a place that he was not remembered. Too much happened in his presence for it to be coincidental. I first met him when we were both nine years old. His family rented a house on Louis Maxwell’s place. Not far from the house they rented was Louis’s barn where he kept his hay and other farm equipment. On that day, he had about a dozen calves in stalls for some reason. 14

Ray, as he was called, sneaked out to the barn to smoke. Somehow, a fire started. He was the second kid I knew that caused a fire from smoking. Instead of running away, he turned all the calves loose, then ran for help. None of the livestock were injured, but the barn burned to the ground. Ray was an unpredictable kid. Most nine-yearolds would have made up some lie, but not Ray. He told the authorities exactly what happened and he was immediately arrested. Old Judge Hemphill was the only judge we had. He presided over all the trials, whether it be first-degree murder or a misdemeanor juvenile case. This legal proceeding was not going to be a murder trial, but it certainly was being treated as more than a misdemeanor juvenile case. I think it was handled that way because, even at nine years old, Ray cast the persona of an adult. He was confident, he had no fear of authority, and I think adults were troubled about his attitude. That attitude can best be described as, no matter what you do to me, you can’t hurt me. I don’t remember the circumstances, but somehow my dad knew Ray’s dad and heard about the hearing. It probably wasn’t a full-blown trial, just some type of juvenile hearing. Dad decided to go, and he let me go with him. My daddy was not a lawyer. No, far from it. But he was well respected and Judge Hemphill let him speak. I think that was the proudest I ever was of my daddy. He saved Ray that day. Ray’s dad had hired some lawyer who, even at nine years old, I could tell he was worthless. I guess you get what you pay for. He was trying to impress the judge with all these juvenile precedents, but you could tell the judge was not impressed.


My dad asked to speak. The judge said he could. “Your Honor, what you have here is a kid that is trying to act just like me and you.” My dad was smoking a cigarette as he talked. The judge had one burning in the ashtray on his desk. The judge replied, “L.W., get to the point.” “The kid was just smoking. Imitating you and imitating me. Now, we know he’s too young to smoke. But if you punished every nine-year-old who has smoked a cigarette now and then, you would empty the grammar school.” At this, the district attorney spoke up. “L.W., the boy burned down a barn full of hay, a bush hog, and over a thousand dollars’ worth of miscellaneous tools.”

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Dad responded, “No, you are wrong. These were destroyed by an accident. If the boy had been burning the trash that his family puts in their 55-gallon drum every week, and the wind caused it to set the grass on fire and it spread to the barn, we would not be having this trial. It would have been an accident.” The district attorney spoke up again. “Your Honor, he was not burning trash. He was smoking a cigarette, and he is nine years old.” To this, Dad replied, “I think he is too young to be smoking, but he is not the only person who has accidently set a fire from a cigarette. Pinckney Smith set my woods on fire five years ago and burned my pulp wood. You didn’t have him in here.” The judge replied, “Is that all L.W.?” “Almost, your Honor...” and then Dad gave, what I would call today, his closing argument.

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“This kid is guilty of smoking a cigarette. He happened to be smoking it near Louis Maxwell’s barn and, for whatever reason, the barn ignited. I feel sorry for Louis. The neighbors have already pitched in and raised him a new barn, better than the old. “So, if you punish this kid in a harsh way, you are treating him differently than you would if it were me or Pinckney Smith, and I don’t think that’s fair. Give the kid a little community service or let him work for Louis or something; but don’t send him to reform school. You have never reformed anyone by doing that. Look at that Lucus kid, came back and robbed the bank, first week.” “Thank you, L.W. Please take your seat.” The district attorney stood to address the judge. The judge said, “Sit down, I have heard enough.” He motioned

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to Ray, “Stand up, son. Young man, I am going to do you a favor. I am going to give you ten years of probation. I don’t know if the state will let me do it or not, but I am going to do it anyway. They only thing you cannot do, is smoke. If I catch you or hear about it, you will go to the reform school. In ten years, you will be nineteen and, if you want to kill yourself with those cigarettes, go for it. But, in the meantime, be healthy.” Things did not go so well between the Maxwells and the Thompsons and, within a few weeks, the family moved to another house. Ray’s family was not poor. In fact, they were middle-class. It was unusual, but they were one of the very few middleclass families I knew that never owned a home. They would just move from place to place. I am not sure if they moved because of the way Ray was, or Ray was the way he was because they moved. I know wherever they went, something happened. A couple of years after the barn burned, the family was living in a nice brick home that had belonged to Otis Calcoat’s parents. They were both deceased now. Otis wanted someone to live there, more or less to watch after the house and a few cows that were on the two-hundred acres. Mr. Thompson didn’t mind that; especially as a partial trade for rent. There was one problem, however. There was a small lake or large pond on the property that was filled by a spring fed creek. It had a hard clay bottom and the water was almost perfectly clear. Try as he might, Mr. Thompson could not keep the trespassers out of the pond during the summer. It was a favorite swimming lake. He did not have much concern for them drowning, most kids could swim back then; but they would leave the gate open and let the cows out. Also, they would leave trash on the banks where they picnicked. Someone once cut the 16

fence and drove their car to the water’s edge to listen to the radio. Ray was a good swimmer, but did not have the luxury to spend too much time at the pond. On this day, he was cutting grass along the backside of the dam. Several kids that he recognized as high school football players and their girlfriends had come to swim. Red Danvers was a big, strong kid that played running back. He was popular and talented. He was in the group. There must have been twelve or fourteen teenagers there. They had brought a picnic lunch, watermelons, and most likely some beer, but from the tractor Ray could not tell. Some people are just lucky. On that day, Red was. Ray had let the tractor run out of gas. If he had not done so, he would have never heard the screams. He ran to the other side of the dam where the kids had been swimming. All of them were panicking, pointing into the water. But none of them were making any effort to do anything. Ray realized someone was underwater. He did not know who, but he instinctively dove in. Maybe he saw a bubble rise or maybe it was just luck; but he dove as deep as he could beside the spillway valve. At about fifteen feet, he saw a form. Finally, he reached an arm and began to fight his way to the surface, pulling a body that was almost twice his size. As soon as he surfaced, the others in the party swam to meet them. They pulled Red to the bank and immediately began artificial respiration, as CPR was called then. Red quickly responded and began to vomit a stream of water and bubbles. After a moment, he took a breath. The group did not wait for an ambulance. Ambulance service was poor at best and, of course, there were no cell phones. He was put in a car and rushed to the hospital. It would be a few days, but he would recover.

No one knows exactly what made Red almost drown. Some say he got a cramp because he ate watermelon; others said he had too much beer and tried to dive to the bottom of the spillway valve. It was the deepest part of the lake. But, as a result, word spread that a two-hundred pound football star had been saved by a one-hundred pound eleven-year-old, former barn burner. Instantly, Ray was a community hero. His heroism didn’t last long. Due to saving Red’s life, word got around about his heroic act. About two weeks after the incident, the newspaper came to his house to interview him. After the interview, Ray thought the reporter had gone, but he had not. The reporter had gone to his car to retrieve his camera for a photo. When he returned, he found Ray on the back steps, smoking a cigarette. That was the photo he published. It would be a year before we heard from Ray again. Reform school had changed him; but, as my dad had predicted, not for the good. He resented authority and rebelled in any way he could. Nothing serious, just riding his bicycle on the sidewalk downtown, intentionally throwing trash on the streets, and most memorably, stopping his bike on the railroad tracks, making the train apply emergency breaking procedures. Of course, Ray rode off before there was any real danger. It seemed the community could not wait for him to grow up and, hopefully, leave. Most left the community, at least temporarily, at about eighteen. But, if anything can change the course of a man’s life, it is the entrance of that special female. I don’t mean to say she was out of his league. He was a good-looking kid and smart. After reform school, he rejoined his class as if he had never left. I am not sure why she was attracted to him; except that she may have wanted to rebel just as he had. When she rebelled,


the town noticed. After all, she was the Baptist minister’s daughter. She was also one of the most popular and prettiest girls in town. Somehow, their compass points pointed to each other, and their contemporaries knew they were an item. Up until this point, she had played the preacher’s daugters role perfectly. She would later say, “You should never raise a child in a fishbowl. Everyone in town watched me. I had enough.” They were both nineteen. He could now smoke and she followed him in anything he wanted to do. They drank beer too; and it stands to reason, other things not approved of by her raising. One night, they drove to the edge of town and parked. It was a spur of the moment decision, but Ray’s impulses were always spur of the moment. I can picture them on a high ridge, overlooking the lights of town, saying their goodbyes

to the community and their past. But there were no high ridges near that town. It could have been her idea, not his. But, on impulse, they decided to run away. No prior planning, no intention of eloping as to marry. Just put the town behind them. They didn’t even carry a changing of clothes. He had fifteen dollars in his pocket, she had five. He had a tank of gas. That was enough fuel for about 250 miles. They headed west. By daylight, they were in Texas. They saw the oil rigs and the refineries and, by luck, saw a billboard advertising work in a refinery. They both applied and were both hired. They lived out of their car until payday, and then had enough money to get a cheap hotel and buy a change of clothes. Yes, their parents tried to find them, especially hers. But it would be almost a month until they were tracked to Texas.

They had broken no laws; both were nineteen, and neither one, for whatever reason, wanted to return. Their relationship was good. They never considered marriage. Why should they? That would just be conforming. Vows would not make them any more or any less faithful to each other. Their first trip home came six years later. There was a visit to her parents first, then his. In a short time, they realized that, for whatever reason they had left to begin with, the reason had not changed. In seven hours, they were on their way back home, Texas.

John S. Case November 2021

17


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VOTE DECEMBER 11

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In addition to the 1,700 jobs that will be generated during the project’s construction phase, Camellia Bay Resort, Casino and Marina will create more than 1,000 permanent resort positions. At least half of these jobs will be filled by St. Tammany citizens, as specified in Camellia Bay’s host community agreement. This would make Camellia Bay the largest non-medical employer on the Northshore, replacing Textron’s 900 strong workforce. These positions will be well compensated with an average annual salary of $45,000, full medical and dental coverage, paid time off and upward mobility. CEO, Brent Stevens is hoping “a fun, relaxing environment helps us attract the employees we need to make Camellia Bay a success.”

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“Many additional positions could be excellent part-time jobs for student-workers from Southeastern or Northshore Technical College. This could also be the entry point into a rewarding career in the hospitality industry,” Stevens remarked. Even outside the direct casino operations, Camellia Bay represents tens of millions in additional payroll to boost the Northshore’s, and especially Slidell’s, economy. Camellia Bay’s parent company, also prides itself on promoting from within. “We identify specific workers with talent and drive and put them on a track for advancement,” Stevens said. In fact, company president, Johnathan Swain, began his rise to the top as a floor attendant at a resort. Swain added, “I started out young working in this industry, but I wanted to succeed. This company helped me do that. It’s important to me that our new employees get the same opportunities I did.”

VOTE YES ON DECEMBER 11

For Camellia Bay to become a reality, we ask all St. Tammany residents to vote yes on December 11. To learn more about the project and show your support, visit TheNorthshoreWins.com.

PROJECTED EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES THAT WILL BENEFIT ST. TAMMANY PARISH Approximately 1,000 permanent casino jobs to benefit Slidell and St. Tammany economies. Up to 1,700 local jobs during construction. Up to 1,900 local jobs during operations. Estimated average annual total compensation for casino employees is $45,000. Generous benefits package includes medical, dental, vision, disability and much more. Paid-Time-Off (PTO) plan benefits employees and provides opportunities for rest and recreation. Construction hiring could begin as early as December 2021, contingent upon necessary permits and approvals.

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alligators the surviving dinosaur Most of us think of alligators as prehistoric looking, with their thick scales and bony plates, causing them to appear to have a suit of armor. Well, they are a member of the reptile family, which also includes dinosaurs! Scientists estimate the alligator is more than 150 million years old and, unlike dinosaurs, they have survived extinction. Not only did they survive when dinosaurs didn’t, they came back from the brink of extinction again; with a little help. In the 1950’s, alligators were about to join their prehistoric relatives, existing only in history books. Over-hunting and habitat loss were major contributors to their decline. In Louisiana, alligator hunting was mostly unregulated. Landowners who trapped and fished for a living viewed the alligator as competition and, therefore, the enemy. Federal and state agencies came together to protect them. They were placed on the federal endangered species list in 20

1967, which prohibited hunting; and, in 1972, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDFW) implemented their alligator management program to protect remaining populations and preserve precious wetlands habitat. Since the program’s inception, over “1.1 million wild alligators have been harvested, more than 11 million alligator eggs have been collected and roughly 7.3 million farm-raised alligators have been sold.” Hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue are brought to the state each year from consumption of meats and hides, in addition to wildlife watching at refuges, parks and on swamp tours. In 1987, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USF&WS) announced them completely recovered and removed them from the endangered species list. However, they continue to be protected under the classification as “threatened due to similarity of appearance,” meaning

Story & Photos by Donna Bush that the alligator looks similar to other species which are endangered – crocodiles and Chinese alligators. Alligators range in size from 8-9 inches at birth, to approximately 13 feet. Females typically don’t exceed 9 feet or weigh more than 200 pounds,

How do alligators float, submerge and roll? A team of scientists at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City recently discovered that alligators use their breathing muscles for a second job: to shift their lungs around inside their body. This helps the animals move up and down in water by allowing them to control their buoyancy, or which parts of them float and which parts sink. To dive, they squeeze their lungs toward their tail. This tips a gator’s head down and prepares it to plunge. To surface, the alligators move their lungs towards their head. And to roll? They use muscles to push their lungs sideways.


while males can weigh in excess of 500 pounds. Other than size difference, there is no easy way to tell male from female without an examination of their genitals. Several factors influence their growth rate – habitat, sex, size and age. Males grow faster than females. As alligators age, their growth rate slows. Breeding maturity is reached when they are approximately 6 feet in length. Mating season occurs in springtime, usually April and May. If you are in alligator territory, you can often hear the large males “bellowing” to attract a female and to warn other males to keep their distance. His displays

include slapping the water with his jaw and lifting his tail high in the air, causing water vibrations on his back, as if the water is dancing. Vicious fights can occur during this time, leaving maimed or dead gators. Once a potential mate has been found, their elaborate courtship begins. They rub and press each other’s snouts and backs. While this wooing may last hours, actual copulation is usually less than 30 seconds and takes place in the water. Alligators are not monogamous. Nor are they social. They come together to mate and then go their separate ways. The male takes no part in nest building or raising the young.

What does alligator scat (poop) look like? Like birds, alligators do not release urine separately from feces. Feces, which come from the intestine, and urine, which is filtered from the blood stream by the kidneys, are commingled in the cloaca. The commingled urine and feces are excreted as one mass. Also, like birds, alligators deposit a portion of digested nitrogen in the form of uric acid. In the wild, alligators deposit their excrement on land, and it appears as a mass of green or brown feces with a spot of white uric acid – very much like a bird’s excrement.

Alligator Tracks An alligator has 5 toes on their front feet and 4 toes on their hindfeet. A mature alligator’s front track measures approximately 5 inches long and 4 inches wide, with the hind track measuring up to 8 inches long and roughly 5 inches wide. Often in muddy areas, you will see where the tail drug as he/she walked. Being creatures of habit, gators will frequently enter and exit the water at the same place, known as a “haul out” or “slide.” 21


Where to see alligators safely Visit one of our National Wildlife Refuges: Big Branch, Bayou Sauvage, and Bogue Chitto are home to many alligators. Audubon Louisiana Nature Center, Audubon Zoo and the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas are great places to visit and safely observe alligators in a native environment. Most any festival that you attend in Louisiana will have an exhibit with a small alligator with its mouth taped shut, allowing attendees to pet and hold the gator for a photo. Or, just take one of the many swamp tours offered around our area. The female will select the nesting site in June or July. She builds the nest by pulling marsh vegetation, sticks and mud into a mound several feet high and wide. The nest is typically on the edge of the water – a pond, lake or bayou. She intentionally builds it high to protect her young from flooding water. Then she hollows out a cavity in the nest and lays up to 60 eggs, although typical clutch size is 35. After laying her eggs, she covers the cavity with more vegetation. The decaying vegetation creates heat to incubate the eggs. The temperature of the nest determines the sex of the hatchling. Higher temps (93.2°) produce males, while lower temps of 86° or below produce females. The mother remains near the nest to protect her young. Nest predators can be raccoons, opossums, skunks, pigs, otters, even curious people. Do not approach a nesting alligator. They can and will chase you, hissing as they do so. Hatching begins after approximately 65 - 70 days. An “egg tooth” is developed on the top of the hatchling’s snout to open the shell.

Hatchlings will begin chirping before they’ve emerged from the egg. Mom will often tenderly carry the young to the water in her massive jaws. Their protective mother will stay close to them for up to two years. If you are lucky enough to see hatchlings in the wild, they will often be found lying on Mom’s back or snout. If not there, then gathered together with their siblings, safety in numbers. Predation rate is very high for hatchlings, as they are often snatched up by herons, egrets, large-mouth bass and other gators. Hatchlings begin feeding on insects shortly after birth, then progress to crawfish, small fish and frogs. As they grow larger, so does their food source – nutria, beavers, large birds and fish, raccoons, snakes, deer, even other alligators. They are well adapted to hunting at night due to their great sense of smell and vision. However, they are opportunistic eaters and, when hungry, will eat whatever is available at the water’s edge. The American alligator is found in the Southeast United States, ranging

Alligator Farming In 1986, Louisiana began an alligator ranching program, which allowed licensed farmers to collect alligator eggs from nests on private lands to incubate and hatch under artificial conditions. When collected, the egg tops are marked to keep them upright in order to not dislodge the embryo. The eggs are incubated at approximately 86-91° for approximately 65 days. Farmers raise the alligators until they reach 3’- 5’ in length. At this time, the same percentage that would have survived to 4 feet in the wild are reintroduced into their natural habitat. The farm-raised gators are tagged and marked to identify them as non-wild. The farmraised gators have a much faster growth rate than wild gators due to their consistent and optimum growing conditions. The farmer may sell the gators that are not released into the wild. 22


from the Rio Grande in Texas to North Carolina, with Louisiana and Florida having the highest populations. They are found in bayous, marshes, swamps, rivers, and lakes with fresh or brackish water. Without salt glands, they can only tolerate salt-water briefly. Alligators need wetlands to survive. Conversely, survival of wetlands depends somewhat on alligators. Being at the top of the food chain, they help cut down on rodents and other animals that destroy marsh vegetation. But that is not all. Many adults create “gator holes” by using their mouths and claws to uproot vegetation to clear a space. By thrusting its body and slashing with its powerful tail, it creates a depression or hole that is full of water during the wet season and holds water during the dry season. These holes provide

necessary water for fish, insects, snakes, turtles, birds and alligators. Occasionally, they will expand their gator hole to create a hidden den underneath an overhanging bank. They may even create a chamber elevated enough above water level to allow breathing. Not to be confused with their nest, this is just a place to survive the dry season and winter. As cold-blooded animals, their body temperature is regulated by the temperature of their environment. In the summertime, they can be seen laying with their mouths open to help cool them down, much like a dog panting. In winter, they can be seen sunning themselves on a bank to keep warm. In very cold areas of their range, they move into a state of dormancy where they can no longer catch or digest

food efficiently. This is when they seek refuge in their underground hole until temperatures warm. Did you know they can stay underwater without air for more than 2 hours? An alligator’s tail accounts for half of its body length and is used to propel them through the water. While they are able to move quickly in the water, they are slower on land. But, don’t be fooled - they can run short bursts in excess of 30 mph! Despite their large size, they can jump up to 6 feet in the air from a state of rest. Even with their short legs, observations have proven they are capable of climbing fences, stairs, etc. According to a USF&WS report, they can even climb into a truck! The position of their nostrils, eyes and ears allow them to breath, hear and see while most of their body is

Alligator Hunting To hunt alligators in Louisiana, you must possess an alligator harvest tag issued by LDWF. If deemed sufficient wetland habitat to sustain an alligator harvest, they may be hunted on private lands with proper documentation. If you don’t have private land available, you can apply for the LDWF Lottery Alligator Harvest Program, where more than 400 resident alligator hunters are provided the opportunity to harvest approximately 1245 alligators over 40 wildlife management areas and public lakes within the state. There are two hunting zones - East and West. East zone opens the last Wednesday of August, while the west zone opens the first Wednesday in September. Hunting is open for 60 days in each zone. Please check the LDWF website for more specific information. Virtually every part of the alligator is used. The skins are tanned and manufactured into items such as belts, purses, shoes, luggage and watchbands. Heads and claws are sold as novelty items and the meat is a favorite in sauce piquant, etouffee, jambalaya, gumbo, sausage and many Chinese dishes. Roughly 75% of all wild alligator hides and 85% of all farmed skins used by tanners are harvested in Louisiana. The demand for skins is extremely high overseas. Meat is sold both nationally and internationally. 23


completely submerged in water. Like many animals, gators have two eyelids to protect each eye. But they also have a clear, third eyelid that covers the eye when submerged to aid them in seeing clearly underwater. Alligators have roughly 80 teeth in their mouth at one time. As they wear down, they are replaced with new ones, totaling 2000-3000 teeth over the life of the gator. Even though they have all these teeth, they are unable to chew their food. Instead, they bite and tear, along with a full-body twisting motion, known as a death roll, to kill their prey. Other than humans, adult alligators do not have any predators, except for other alligators.

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Alligators are similar to crocodiles and caiman. We don’t have crocodiles in Louisiana, but they can be found in south Florida. In fact, south Florida is the only area in the United States where both alligators and crocodiles coexist in the wild. Gators have a more U-shaped snout, while crocodiles are more pointed or V-shaped. Additionally, alligators are black, and crocodiles are usually a lighter grayish brown. When a gator’s mouth is closed, you cannot see its teeth; but the fourth tooth of a crocodile’s lower jaw sticks out when its mouth is closed. Unlike their relative, crocodiles are found in both fresh and salt-water. While the United States typically does not have caiman, they do exist in Florida as an exotic species. Caiman are in the same family as alligators and crocodiles. They are smaller than both, and widely exist in Central and South America. Unlike their relatives, caiman have another predator besides humans - jaguars!

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As with all wild animals, there are pros and cons to living amongst them. In Slidell, with the abundance of waterfront property, many of us are living in close proximity with alligators. The best thing we can do is find a way to coexist. This entails being tolerant of the wildlife, whose neighborhood “we” invaded; and NOT feeding them, which endangers them. A fed gator is a dead gator! Feeding an alligator can have far-reaching implications that the average person might not consider.

3. If in an alligator area, do not allow small pets or children close to the water’s edge. It only takes a second for an alligator to snatch a child or a pet off the bank. We are privileged to live in a wildlife habitat with wild animals. Let’s cherish this and respect the opportunity we’ve been given!


Christmas Under the Stars D e c e m b e r 3 - 4 & 1 0 - 1 1 , 2 0 2 1 • 6 - 9 G r i f f i t h Pa r k i n O l d e To w n e

Holiday Lights & Decorations • Santa’s Magical Mailbox • Parade of Trees • Slidell’s Nativity Life-size Christmas Cottages • Frozen Ice Castle • New Grinch’s Cottage And be sure not to miss these other festive holiday events in Olde Towne Slidell: 7th Annual Spirit of the Season Olde Towne Light Display and Decorations Contest

Olde Towne Slidell will be decked out with festive lights and decorations, Dec. 3, 2021, through Jan. 3, 2022.

2nd Annual Olde Towne Slidell Community Christmas Parade • Sunday, Dec. 5 • 5-6

You can be a part of the second annual Olde Towne Slidlel Community Christmas Parade! Featuring decorated golf carts and homemade pushable floats, walking groups, community members in holiday costumes, and Santa and Mrs. Claus!

Holiday Concer t with the Slidell Ar t League’s 2021 Ar tists of the Year Exhibit Nor thshore Community Orchestra at the Slidell Cultural Center at City Hall Sunday, Dec. 19 • 7-8 • Free Admission Nov. 5 - Dec. 17 • Wednesday - Friday, 12-4 Slidell Municipal Auditorium • 2056 Second Street By appointment only by calling (985) 646-4375

Christmas Under the Stars is brought to you by the City of Slidell’s Dept. of

Cultural & Public Affairs, the Commission on the Arts and the 2021 Cultural Sponsors:

Renaissance • $5,000 Sponsors: Plus + Publications

Baroque • $2,500 Sponsors: In Memory of Ronnie Kole • Silver Slipper Casino

Neoclassical • $1,000 Sponsors: Councilman Bill & Laura Borchert • Home Instead Lori’s Art Depot • Lowry-Dunham, Case & Vivien Insurance Agency • Purple Armadillo Again Impressionism • $500 Sponsors: P. David Carollo, Attorney-at-Law • Chateau Bleu CiCi’s Pizza • Mayor Greg Cromer • State Rep. Mary DuBuisson, District 90 Dr. David Hildebrandt - Slidell Family Dentistry • Flatliners Entertainmen Old School Eats Food Truck • Pizza Platoon • Roberta’s Cleaners Slidell Historic Antique Association • Tanya Witchen - Engel & Völkers Real Estate

(985) 646-4375 • MySlidell.com • “City of Slidell” on Facebook & Instagram 25


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

Legal-ease

Treasure Leave a

Map

One of the most common questions I am asked when meeting with grieving loved ones after a death is: “How do we know where the assets are?” For many children, their parents were somewhat secretive about their assets. While we all know about their primary home and usually where they bank (we got birthday checks!), but other than that, who really knows? Sometimes the deceased spouse was the one who paid all the bills and handled all the finances, and the surviving spouse is literally clueless as to what and where the bills and assets are, especially when many of us choose “paperless” so there aren’t even bills or statements to find. The best advice I have in the above situations is to find the last income tax return (if one even exists) as this shows us income, interest, and dividends, and to look at the last few months of checking account statements for ongoing bill payments. After that, the Treasure HUNT is on. The best thing you can do for your loved ones is to have a Treasure MAP instead. I understand that many folks don’t want their children to know their intimate financial business…YET. But just because you have established a detailed listing of all your legal papers, assets and liabilities, that doesn’t mean your kids need to see that now, they just need to know where

to find the “Treasure Map” when the time comes. That time is certainly WHEN you die but also IF you become disabled before you die. The disability aspect is becoming more prevalent than ever and you already know that I am a huge proponent of having some type of long term care pre-plan in place (and I can help you with that, too). Our estate planning clients leave our office with a big maroon “Estate Planning Portfolio”, it’s classy (and of course we tell the kids exactly what to be on the lookout for) but you can certainly create your own binder from Walmart with the same end result. This binder should have signed copies (or even the originals themselves) of all your essential estate planning legal documents: Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney for Assets and Health Care, and Living Will. But it should also house copies of all life insurance information (with confirmation of beneficiaries), property deeds, vehicle and boat titles, cemetery deeds, business formation paperwork, birth and marriage certificates, military papers, etc. Then once a year (I recommend January because you can access all year-end December 31st statements), place a copy in the binder of the first page of your statements (this page usually contains the summary information of balance, account numbers and advisor’s name) for brokerages, annuities, cash

not a Treasure Hunt!

value life insurance, banks, bonds, credit unions, etc. If you are paperless, don’t forget about account logins, passwords, and safe combinations (or at least how to access the master login program if you have one). I also recommend your annual declaration page for all your car, home, and flood insurances, and a list of all advisors’ names and numbers (accountant, attorney, financial planner). If you keep the originals in a safe deposit box, make sure someone else (in addition to your spouse) is named as a co-owner on the box for immediate post-death access. Your final wishes should be clear. Do you wish to buried, cremated, or donated to a medical school? If you want to be cremated or donated, it is best to have these wishes spelled out in a legal document ahead of time so there are no family disagreements after you’re gone. What kind of services do you want (none at all or a second line)? Some of our clients even write their own obituaries. The more information you leave behind, the easier (and quicker and cheaper) it will be for your loved ones. As morbid as it may sound, the moment we are born we get in the “waiting line” to be called Home again, but only He knows where in the line we are…so TODAY, please leave behind a Treasure Map and not a Treasure Hunt.

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. 26

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Slidell: Our History

Story by Ted Lewis Editor’s note: Writer Ted Lewis was a sports reporter for the Times-Picayune from 1983-2012, starting and ending in the St. Tammany bureau, and the Advocate from 2012-16. He continues to contribute to the Advocate/Times-Picayune on a freelance basis.

For awhile

i n t h e 1 9 7 0 s a n d 80s, Slidell held the distinction of being the smallest city in the United States with two competing daily newspapers – Daily Sentry and the Daily Times.

Actually, there were three, if you count the Times-Picayune, which established bureaus in both Slidell and Covington in 1980 as part of a major push from its New Orleans base into the suburbs. For a young Slidell newspaper junkie like Andy Canulette, it was nirvana. “We took all three papers, and I would read them every day,” he recalled. “Sometimes, if I didn’t finish, I’d take the sports sections to school, prop up a textbook and read them during class. “Once I realized I would never become a professional baseball player, working for a newspaper was all I ever wanted to do.” 28

Those indeed were the days, my friends, even if our sources for information have increased twentyfold since then, giving us undreamed of options that didn’t exist just a few decades ago. Back then, though, a newspaper still ruled as the source of local information and advertising. Most had high profit margins; but in general, they were looked upon more of a public utility than a business. They served as the chronical of births, engagements, marriages, deaths and everything in between; community boosters and watchdogs; and wielded political influence on the editorial page. As might be expected, the competition between the three newspapers in Slidell was fierce – death match fierce, in fact. Although, sometimes the attempts at one-upmanship brought a smile. For example, when the Sentry added a Saturday edition, it advertised itself as “One Step Ahead of the Times.” Big events like the murder trial and execution of Robert Lee Willie (which became the basis of the movie, Dead Man Walking), elections, and the 1983 floods got maximum attention. But, seemingly nothing was too small to report either. When the St. Tammany library board voted to increase overdue book fines from a nickel to a dime, the Times-Picayune breathlessly reported it with a banner headline on the Metro page front.


The St. Tammany Tribune masthead from 1960 states that it is, “Dedicated to the Advancement, Progress and Prosperity of Covington, Bush, Madisonville, Mandeville, Abita Spings, Folsom and their respective areas.” Slidell was too small in 1960 to warrant much coverage. And don’t forget publishing youth swimming, soccer, baseball and softball results, which probably felled more trees than Hurricane Ida. But the competition also made for a heightened degree of journalistic excellence. “Everybody stepped up their game,” said Paul Bartels, the TimesPicayune’s first St. Tammany bureau chief and later the paper’s first suburban editor. “But it couldn’t last. Somebody had to go.” Eventually, in one form or another, all three did. The Daily Times was the first, although it managed to hang on until 1987 after being sold a year before. The Sentry’s days as a daily newspaper ended with Hurricane Katrina in 2005. A merger with the News-Banner of Covington, which had the same ownership, resulted in a thrice-weekly publication called the St. Tammany News. It finally folded in 2013 with publisher Joy Kennon citing declining advertising and an inability to connect with a changing population following Katrina. That closure came a year after the Times-Picayune had also reduced its print product to three-days a week (halving its staff, including its St. Tammany bureaus, in the process), leaving New Orleans as the largest American city without a daily newspaper. Sadly, it was the vanguard of a trend that has made newspapers everywhere, at least the print versions, an endangered species in the internet age. Just since 2018, some 6,000 journalism jobs and 300 newspapers have vanished, a situation exacerbated by the pandemic.

Today, only 10 American cities with competing dailies remain. Ironically, the smallest is Lafayette, served by the Daily Advertiser and the Acadiana Advocate, which has the same ownership as the Advocate and Times-Picayune. Nobody’s predicting a reversal of fortunes. A recent survey of employees at U.S. newspapers with circulation of less than 50,000 (that’s 97 percent of them including the Advocate/TimesPicayune) revealed that 61 percent felt negative about the future for small-market papers, a reverse from just five years ago when 61 percent responded positively to the same question. At least Slidell, whose first newspaper was the short-lived Bugle in 1892, has never been long without one, and hopefully will never be. In 2009, Kevin Chiri, who began his newspaper career with the Daily Times before moving to a long tenure with the Sentry, founded the Slidell Independent, an all-local free publication which endures to this day, somewhat to the surprise of its publisher/editor. “Everybody was telling me I was out of my mind,” Chiri said. “Supposedly nobody was reading the newspaper anymore. It’s pretty amazing that we’re still here.” Meanwhile, in New Orleans, the Baton Rouge-owned and based Advocate moved quickly to fill the breach created by the TimesPicayune’s retreat, opening a New Orleans bureau in the fall of 2012 and christening it the New Orleans Advocate. It was headed by one-time Sentry editor and later longtime T-P presence and Slidellian Sara Pagones who had been part of the Picayune purge.

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“No matter anything else, people will always want to know what’s happening in their neighborhoods, in their schools and in their town halls. I’m not saying things will go back to the glory days, but as long as we show accountability that people can trust, we’ll be around.” Accountability. That’s been the key to survival for newspapers in America since Publick Occurrences made its one and only appearance in Boston in 1690. Closer to home, it’s unclear what happened to the Bugle because it didn’t last long, and no copies remain. According to Dan Ellis’ book, Slidell-Camellia City, others followed – the Slidell Item in 1897, the Slidell Brick in 1899, the Slidell Advocate in 1902 and the Slidell News in 1903. The News managed to last until 1908. After another gap, there was the Slidell Journal and the Slidell American, first appearing in 1912. The Farmer and its predecessors on the western side of the parish also covered Slidell to some degree, although mostly through correspondents reporting neighborhood happenings since the parish seat was in Covington as well at it being the population epicenter.

Sometimes, the local paper was a bit... too local. This is the Slidell Times coverage of the most historic moment of the modern age, the moon landing. Note the small box tucked in the middle of the page... “Pictures from Moon” on page 6.

Things picked up dramatically in 2013 when New Orleans businessman John Georges purchased the Advocate and immediately expanded the Crescent City operation to a full-fledged publication which would challenge the venerable T-P. “That was a lot more personal than it was back in the old days,” said Pagones, who became the Advocate’s first Tammany-based reporter, a position in which she continues. “It was a full-fledged newspaper war, and everybody knew we were fighting for survival.”

“West St. Tammany was the political and cultural center of the parish,” Canulette said. “Slidell was seen as sort of a bare-knuckles, railroad community. Maybe there wasn’t as much of a demand for a good newspaper over here.” New Orleans newspapers also served the parish to some degree, starting with the Louisiana Courier and Louisiana Gazette, both founded in 1818. The New Orleans Argus, which first published in 1827, often featured news from the Northshore, since the Ozone Belt was considered a resort area at the time. There was also the Louisiana Advertiser, the Louisiana Advocate, and, starting in 1837, the Picayune. But St. Tammany was still considered an outpost. For example, Slidell High winning the 1945 state football championship merited only three paragraphs in the Times-Picayune.

Eventually, Georges and Advocate prevailed, buying out the Picayune’s owners in 2019, although keeping the Times-Picayune name instead of New Orleans Advocate because of its obviously higher brand recognition. Two years before that, Georges had purchased the Covingtonbased St. Tammany Farmer. The Farmer’s official beginning was in 1874, but its linage as the parish’s first newspaper can be traced to 1832 when it was known as The Palladium. And, fittingly enough, the editor of the Farmer, which is primarily distributed as part of the Wednesday Times-Picayune as well as having an online presence, is the same Andy Canulette who dreamed of being a newspaperman as a youth. “We felt like we took the Farmer name and reputation and brought it into the 21st century,” said Canulette, who spent several years as editor of the Covington and Mandeville Picayunes, the T-P’s innovative foray into hyperlocal community news that began in 1984. “Things have sort of come full circle, but we have full confidence we’re doing the right thing. 30

The St. Tammany Farmer’s 1917 front page after the first Registration Day for World War I


“If the New Orleans papers covered the Northshore, it was from a distance,” said Bartels, who grew up in Bogalusa and still resides in Slidell. “Things didn’t change until the area started growing, especially in the 1960s. “Even when we established the bureaus, it took a while before the public believed we meant business.” The newspaper business in Slidell had started to stabilize well before then. The predecessor of what became the Daily Times debuted in the 1920s, although the name frequently changed, and it would be a weekly publication until 1973. The first available incarnation available – at least in the Slidell branch of the parish library’s microfilm collection – is the Dec. 4, 1930, edition of the Slidell Sun. The lead story is about the paving of Highway 90 – then called the Old Spanish Trail – which would finally provide a surfaced road to New Orleans. Additional items of interest included an account of an abandoned auto burning on the Pontchartrain Bridge Road, a street dance at the White Kitchen and that gas prices had stabilized at 16 ½ cents a gallon. Otherwise, there was the usual mix of business, politics, funeral notices, police reports, what was then called “society” news and sports; along with a healthy helping of advertising, both display and classified. Even during the Depression, the newspaper appeared to be doing well. By 1933, it was the Slidell News with the June 9, 1933 edition promoting a big Fourth of July celebration being planned

by the Young Men’s Business Club, a coldstorage plant being added to the Slidell Ice House and bargain night (10¢ admission for adults and 5¢ for children) at the Arcade Theater where King Kong was playing. Before the word “hyperlocal” had been coined, the News was just that. However, the assassination of Huey P. Long in 1935 merited an extra-large portrait of Long on the front page. It also had an editorial commemorating “The Death of a Great Statesman,” which concluded with, “So ends the final chapter of the career of the man who devoted his life to the betterment of humanity.” By the 1940s, it was the Parish News and there was a heavy dose of reporting on local servicemen during World War II. In the postwar period, the Parish News had become the Slidell Weekly News.

The Daily Sentry News building on Pontchartrain was originally an A&W Rootbeer Restaurant

Ads from local Dodge, Oldsmobile and Chrysler dealerships helped the bottom line and there was a second movie theater – the Deluxe – where on one week in 1949, Danny Kaye in The Inspector General was the big attraction, except for the Saturday afternoon double feature of Arizona Frontier and Red Desert. The growth of the area in the 1960s, thanks to NASA and the opening of the Twin Spans, created market room for another newspaper. In 1975, Arizona-based Wick Communication purchased the Sentry, turning it from what was basically a shopper to a five-days-a-week publication to challenge the Daily News. “Wick invested a lot of money, and we suddenly had a battle on our hands,” said Kevin Chiri, whose mother, Pat, was a longtime reporter at the Daily Times.

The Daily Sentry News staff in 1991. The caption on the picture stated, “End of Middle East War.” 31


Kevin began his own long journalism career as a typesetter at the Times before moving to the Sentry as its sports editor in 1977. “Then the Times-Picayune came in, and we were both in a fight with the big guys.” Drew Broach, who was a rookie reporter with the Daily Times in 1982 before beginning a long career with the Times-Picayune in 1984, agreed. “We were all friends, but we also wanted to beat each other, so we wouldn’t talk much about what we were working on,” Broach, now the T-P’s night editor, said. “Most of all, we wanted to beat the Picayune because they were the big kids on the block. “If you couldn’t scoop them, then you looked for a different angle on the same story. Grinding out three or four stories a day for low pay was exhausting, but thrilling, too.” Pagones had much the same experience, eventually quitting the Sentry when the grind of 12-hour days, six days a week for low pay became too much. But bigger and better things were on the horizon. Times-Picayune publisher Ashton Phelps had a vision that St. Tammany had great potential as both an advertising and circulation source. He also felt that a separate zoned community news section – featuring the school, organizational, cultural and other elements such as neighborhood columns that are not normally in metro dailies – could be successful as well. They would be called “Our Towns,” although the name was eventually changed to “Picayunes” to reflect the newspaper’s commitment to suburban coverage, after being so New Orleans-centric for its previous existence. Showing the attitudes of the times, the idea was to appeal to “bored housewives” and to print pictures that would wind up on refrigerators. Bartels was charged with implementing the plan. His first “Our Town” hire was Pagones. “I thought they were a great idea,” she said. “People always want to see the staples of community news, from schools to clubs. Even now, people want to cut things out and have them tangibly in their hands. There’s something about them more permanent than an image on a screen.” The Our Towns/Picayunes succeeded more than anyone had foreseen. They were soon expanded to twice a week and more pages were added, up to 36 a week at one point, often with too much copy to fit in print. The Picayune’s news commitment to St. Tammany expanded as well. What had been just a cubbyhole on Boston Street in Covington across from the old courthouse became two prominent buildings – on East Gause in Slidell and US 190 in Covington, with more than 30 full-time employees at its 32


peak – reporters, editors, photographers and advertising and circulation personnel. That was more than the paper was investing in more-populous Jefferson Parish. “We were given the resources to do whatever we felt was worthwhile,” Bartels. “The Picayunes were like Facebook before Facebook in the way we were able to engage with the community. “And the hard news and investigative aspects were invigorating when you were part of them.” Despite their financial disadvantage, the Sentry and Daily Times soldiered on. For the Times, which shifted from an afternoon to morning format in 1984, it wasn’t so much the product but the lack of advertising revenue. The Sentry’s offices on Pontchartrain Drive, in what was originally the old A&W Root Beer, managed to stay afloat as a daily until Katrina; and even then for another eight years as a combined tri-weekly. “We took a lot of pride in what we were doing,” Chiri said. “Sometimes it might have been quantity over quality, but we wanted to have every story possible about Slidell.” Times and tastes change, though. And the newspaper industry’s failure to adjust to the advent of the internet, particularly an inability to bring in online advertising revenues, led the inevitable decline to its present state. The Farmer/Advocate Picayune operation in St. Tammany is no exception. Aside from Canulette and a sports reporter, the Farmer has no other full-time writers. There are three news reporters in St. Tammany considered to be with TimesPicayune (their stories also appear in the Farmer), but there is no physical office in Slidell. The principal revenue comes from paid obituaries and legal notices. At the Independent, Chiri is virtually a one-man show, but he manages to keep up with the competition. And while online watchdogs have somewhat filled the gap in the loss of print reporters, the day-to-day reporting of events has become a hit-or-miss thing. “We’ve lost something as a society,” Bartels said. “There’s a world of information out there, but you don’t hear people say, ‘Did you read that in the paper?’ anymore. “I’m glad the Picayune and the Independent are still here. But five or 10 years from now, I don’t think they’ll exist in their present form.” Canulette hopes that isn’t true. “Sometimes people ask me if I’m representing the Farmer, the Picayune or the Advocate,” he said. “I just tell them, ‘I’m from the paper,’ and I want keep doing that for a long time.”

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Read Mike’s past articles online  by: Mike Rich, CFP® | Pontchartrain Investment Management

It’s November!

Time for football, cool weather, and…Long Term Care Month. If you’ve been reading my articles for a while, you know that I’m concerned about a coming long term care crisis for baby boomers and beyond. The sad truth is that many people are completely unprepared for the emotional and potentially devastating financial disruptions that a prolonged need for long term care can bring about. Here are some of the things I’ve been writing about: 1.) A lot of people are likely to need long term care; and, if you are old, there’s a good chance you’ll be one of them. The U.S Department of Health and Human Services has projected for several years now that about 70% of people aged 65 or older are going to need some type of long term care before they die.1 Whether that care is given in a nursing home, assisted living facility, daycare program, or at home, seven out of ten of us are going to need assistance with eating, dressing, bathing, using the

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bathroom, transferring (for example, moving from a bed to a chair), or continence, or we’re going to have a mental impairment, such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, and will need someone to help manage our lives. We or our family members are either going to have to 1) pay for it out of pocket or with insurance, or 2) figure out how to provide the care ourselves without going broke. 2.) Long term care is expensive. The average annual cost of a private room in a nursing home in Louisiana is about $60,000, among the lowest in the United States.1 However, even though prices are much lower here in Slidell, they can add up fast, and you don’t have to be a financial genius to figure out how quickly a retirement account could be brought to its knees when thousands of dollars a month have to be shelled out for someone to take care of you, possibly for

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several years. Even in-home care at $16 an hour1 can add up quickly. Don’t waste your retirement money on long term care! Get an insurance company to pay for it.2 3.) Speaking of paying for it, the money might not have to leave your balance sheet. The biggest push-back I receive from clients about traditional long term care insurance is that they might not need it and will have shelled out premium payments “for nothing.” The good news is that there are other ways that are not use-it-or-lose-it. For example, you can use life insurance not only for the death benefit and possible cash value, but for a long term care benefit, as well. Also, some companies offer fixed annuities3 that have a long term care benefit attached to them. So, if it turns out that you don’t need long term care, your money is still working for you. If you’d like to learn more about these strategies, call me, and I’ll fill you in on the details. An uninsured long term care need could be very expensive, and it’s a problem that’s just waiting to happen for many people as they get on in years. With a 70% chance of it happening to you or your spouse and potentially blasting a

big hole through your own hard-won retirement nest egg, don’t you think it makes sense to put a plan in place now to protect your money so you or your family can enjoy your money, rather than waste it on long term care? Call me today, and we’ll see what might work for you. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Care Information, https://longtermcare.acl.gov 2 Benefits are based on the claims paying ability of the issuing company. 3 Fixed and variable annuities are suitable for long term investing, such as retirement. Gains from tax-deferred investments are taxed as ordinary income upon withdrawal. Guarantees are based on the claims paying ability of the issuing company. Withdrawals made prior to age 59½ are subject to a 10% IRS penalty tax, and surrender charges might apply. Variable annuities are subject to market risk and might lose value. Riders are additional guarantee options that are available to an annuity or life insurance contract holder. While some riders are part of an existing contract, many others can carry additional fees, charges, and restrictions. Policy holders should review their contracts carefully before purchase. 1

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VOTE YES! AN ECONOMIC WIN FOR THE NORTHSHORE

It’s a fact! Research proves that resort-style casinos similar to the proposed Camellia Bay Resort have a positive economic impact on their communities. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the FBI—Biloxi, Lake Charles and Baton Rouge saw higher home values, increased incomes and safer neighborhoods. See the research for yourself online at TheNorthshoreWins.com. RISING HOME VALUES1

BIGGER PAYCHECKS2

VIOLENT CRIME DECREASED3

Up 20% in Baton Rouge Up 37% in Lake Charles

Up 20% in Baton Rouge Up 19% in Lake Charles

Down 16% in Baton Rouge Down 24% in Lake Charles

VOTE YES ON DECEMBER 11 Questions? Email: answers@thenorthshorewins.com | visit: thenorthshorewins.com | Facebook: @thenorthshorewins PAID FOR BY The Northshore Wins, Inc., 2250 Gause Blvd. E, Suite 301,Slidell, LA 70461, Chairman: Ross Lagarde In Support of Casino Proposition SOURCES: 1) U.S. Census Bureau; 2) Convergence Strategy Group, study commissioned by St. Tammany Corporation, 9-21-21; 3) FBI Data

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