Slidell Magazine - April 2022

Page 6



Vol. 138 April 2022

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Throughout the entire month of March and into the first days of April, the East St. Tammany Habitat for Humanity Women Build “Rosie” Program has taken place. In fact, you’ll read all about the Rosie program that I co-founded and coordinate when we feature each one of these 220+ beautiful, charitable women in the May edition of Slidell Magazine. But, for now, I want to give our attention to just one of these women.

Faye Rainey is a second-year Rosie who built with her team of Rebellious Rosies just a couple weeks ago, on March 19. It was a great gesture of kindness and philanthropy, giving her time and money to complete a house for a deserving Habitat family. Especially since Faye had just moved into a new home of her own, one month earlier, and was still dealing with all of the chaos, expense, and settling that comes with a move.

Faye’s new home is in Arabi. I guess you know what happened next. Just 3 days after building a home for Habitat, Faye’s home was completely, TOTALLY, destroyed by the March 22nd tornado. She and her dogs were hunkered down in the bathroom, which was the only room that remained intact. The exterior walls, the roof, the other rooms of the house - all collapsed or simply blew away. Her car was destroyed under the debris. But Faye and her dogs are OK. Sometimes, that’s all we have to be grafetul for, but it’s a BIG thing. She also has an indomitable, large sisterhood of Rosies that will be there for her. Three days after the tornado, over a dozen Rosies and EST Habitat staff traveled to Arabi to use our girlpower, resources, and love to begin the long process of clean-up and recovery. It’s just the beginning, because we’ll be there for her entire journey. That’s what sisters do.


artist: Jessica Tranchina Young

Louisiana artist and small business owner, Jessica Tranchina Young, has been creating art for as long as she can remember. She graduated with a BFA from Louisiana State University in 2007. Over the years, she has taught The Art of Cartooning to young children, her work has appeared on both HGTV and OWN television shows, and her pieces hang in private collections across the United States. Currently, she creates large scale commissions and collections in her home studio where the wildlife, culture, and people of South Louisiana continue to inspire her paintings. Jessica’s artwork can be purchased and viewed on her website, social media accounts, as well as in local shops in the Covington and Baton Rouge area.

5 Editor’s Letter Kendra Maness Editor / Publisher PO Box 4147 Slidell, LA 70459 985-789-0687 MAGAZINE STAFF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Kendra Maness Editor / Publisher Michael Bell Graphic Designer John Case “The Storyteller” Charlotte Collins Extraordinary Slidell Neighbors Mike Rich Making Cents of Your Money Donna Bush My Favorite Alaska Trip Ronda M. Gabb Legal-Ease 150th Anniversary of Arbor Day Courtesy of the Arbor Day Foundation only $39 / year Visit our website to subscribe, view current and past editions, view advertising rates and more! NEVER MISS A COPY! SUBSCRIBE TODAY!
Faye Rainey, Rebellious Rosie 2022

Each month, I deliberately try to vary my choice of Slidell Neighbors in order to introduce myself and my readers to people from various walks of life, with new experiences in life. This month, I thought I was interviewing someone who volunteers their time to read for radio or books for the blind. That was far from the career of which we are about to be introduced.

I’m sure that my assumption came from time with my dad as we listened to audio books from Lighthouse for the Blind together. The voices were clear and easily understood, but not particularly engaging.

Enter Melissa Benson, an actress extraordinaire. During our interview, her mother, Belva Ogden, was visiting. Belva explained that her youngest of four children was the center of attention from the time she was born in Ohio. All four kids were creative, but Melissa used her talents to imitate characters she saw on television. When Belva’s friends visited, she turned to Melissa’s improvisations as home entertainment.

At Melissa’s home, I found many lovely surprises. I could hear water trickling and, as I turned the corner to the backyard, I was delighted to sit near the pool’s grotto water fountain. The weather was warm, so we sat in a cozy nook between the house and Melissa’s detached office, gazing at the water features.

Melissa began, “Even in kindergarten, I was very interested in performing and acting. At recess, I would gather my little friends in a group and we would go outside for my latest idea of a play. I would cast it, and we would practice. My kindergarten teacher was really awesome! She would let us perform when we got back in from recess. Honestly, I think I was just born with this desire. Even as a little kid, I used to imitate people that I saw on TV, and everyone seemed to love my performances. I did a good rendition of Edith Ann and Ernestine, the phone operator played by Lily Tomlin, and I loved comedians like Carol Burnett. Maybe Mom’s right, it all started with

being the center of attention. I loved to make them laugh.”

Joking aside, young Melissa heightened her efforts with research - imitating favorite television personalities, getting involved through clubs, camps, and any thespian activities available to kids. She was president of the drama club throughout junior high and high school. She remembers one defining experience from the sixth grade. “We went on a field trip with the drama club to see Of Mice and Men at a professional theater. That’s the moment that I remember falling in love with theater. All aspects of it... the set was beautiful... the acting was professional, just the whole thing was great... and I was just blown away!”

As a young child, she moved with her family from state to state with her father’s job in large construction. After landing in Slidell in 1982, she decided to stay and, at age 20, she was on her own. Almost immediately upon her move, Melissa saw an ad for a clean-up day at Slidell Little Theatre. She enjoyed those she met, fit right

Sound unbound by nature becomes bounded by art .”
~ Dejan Stojanovic
A biography by Charlotte Collins Melissa Kay Benson

in, and stayed involved afterward. Since then, she’s appeared in more shows than she can count. She also got involved with Minacapelli’s Dinner Theater, Luke’s Brisket & Broadway, and Cutting Edge Theater, as well as occasional productions in Mandeville and Covington. And guess what her favorite genre was? Comedy, of course! “I played Gymnasia in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in 1990. Alan Little was in it as well as tons of other fun people, who became almost like family. Another one of my favorite roles was as Chris Gorman in Rumors, which was a blast! Don Redmon was in that production, as well as my husband, Kirk.” Throwing her hands up in triumph, she nodded, “I met Kirk when we were cast together in A Christmas Story in 2003. Now we’re a blended family with five children between us.”

Melissa had an entirely different career as the kids were growing up. During most of those years, Melissa worked as a massage therapist, and discovered a whole other passion. She thrived on researching human anatomy and kinesiology. For 15 years, she earned more specializations and completed continuing education units every year. Pointing to the wall behind me, she described, “I had a really great private practice right back there, and worked from home for myself. Before that, I worked in an orthopedic surgeon’s office. I was always fascinated with the procedures and terms used for the reports I worked on. I learned that I was a fan

of muscular and skeletal anatomy. It turned out to be a good segue for going back to school in massage therapy. Eventually, I was able to specialize in myofascial therapy. I’ve done a couple of human dissections through continuing education, and that was an amazing experience. Mainly, I was investigating the muscular system, but we went all the way to explore bones, optic nerves and internal organs, even the brain. There were doctors of osteopathy in the class, as well as acupuncturists, personal trainers, and all kinds of health professionals. I already had certification in several modalities of massage, so I decided to try something a little different. I don’t know why, but those dissections were just such a profound part of my life. It was like an inner life exploration. People go to outer space and explore; well, I went to explore inner space.” She took a moment to laugh at her joke. ”I was just really lucky to be able to do that. Truly, I never really looked at people the same way again, especially in my massage practice, and it was so helpful for my profession.”

Her practice was so successful that appointments were booked up three months in advance. The more the word spread, the harder she worked. As much

as she loved it, and as good as she was, 15 years of physical work adds up. After all, the average burnout for massage therapists is 4.5 years.

The good news is that she developed a new interest almost as a side result. During her massage therapy years, she washed a lot of linens, day in and day out. Listening to audio books while doing the linens became an important part of her routine. As she joked, “I was the chief cook and bottle washer, as they say. So, while folding and rolling all those sheets, I kept listening to my audio books. Having been an actor, I started to realize that I’m not just listening to somebody reading a book. I’m listening to a performance. I noticed that the best narrated books were the ones that made me forget that the narrator even existed; the ones that let me have my own visual image of what was happening. It started to click with me that, having been a stage actor all my life, maybe I had what it would take to become an audiobook narrator.”

Melissa looked into it, and finally made the decision to take the plunge in 2018. An actor friend had started narrating, and told her about a voiceover coach in Los Angeles, David H. Lawrence, XVII. (He used the 17th as a joke since there were so many Davids.) Melissa studied with him for a year and felt that this really could be her next career. Stage acting means a lot of late night practices and can become all consuming. Here was an opportunity to work from home, while stretching the creative, acting muscles. Her eyes lit up again as she exclaimed with her hands flying up, “And then I just started working! I started my first audio book, and just jumped right into the fire so to speak. It was 24 and a half hours long, which is like three audio books, very long. It was with an independent author, Nicole Waybright, and she was really understanding with my first efforts because it was her first book too. And we kind of grew together and got to know each other really well. My first audio book went live in March of 2019, which was very exciting.

Melissa giving post-race massages Melissa at 3 years old, talking, of course!

The whole journey is a process. Most people imagine that you sit around in your comfy socks with a cup of tea, and you just read out of a book with a microphone nearby. I can tell you that is the farthest thing from what really happens. It’s very technical.”

Once again doing her research, Melissa worked with another coach, Sean Pratt, who specializes in narration coaching. Laughingly, she explained, “He recommends that you get a book and a flashlight, and go into a closet, shut the door, and read out loud for two hours every day for two weeks. At the end of that two weeks, if you still think this is for you, go ahead and pursue it. Believe me, I found out that it’s really much more complicated. Unlike stage acting, you only have your voice, no

facial expressions, hand gestures, props, or other tools you have on stage. So you have to learn how to use your voice in a much more efficient way. It’s not like stage acting; because it’s not big, you’re not projecting to an auditorium full of people. You’re speaking in one person’s ear. So it’s very intimate. Plus, as I mentioned, it’s also very technical. When you make a mistake, you have to know what to do to fix it.”

Of course, I was curious about how to do so, and she described, “There is a ‘punch and roll’ technique, which is named after a technique that was done in old time recording where they actually punched out film tape, rolled it back, and then re-recorded. But, of course, it’s all digital now through a DAW (digital audio workstation). Then

there’s all the technical file management and specs that are required.”

Melissa used terms like room tone, RMS, and noise floor. And she has to be thinking about all of this while also trying to actually be in acting mode. I know I get irritated with car horns, radios, and lawn equipment. But, for Melissa, all of that means she has to pause or stop recording altogether. Leaf blowers are the worst! “After Hurricane Ida, the highway workers were driving pilings on I-10 to repair some interstate signs. I couldn’t record for two days because of the rumbling and reverberations coming from the ground into my booth!”

Then there is the whole realm of promoting yourself, and meeting the authors, producers, and directors that

Left: Melissa in The Divine Sister at Cutting Edge Theater. Middle: Kirk and Melissa in the musical comedy Mysteries of the 1940s at Slidell Little Theatre. Right: Melissa as Chris Gorman in Rumors at Slidell Little Theatre. Left: Melissa and Kirk on their trip to Alaska. Right: The whole gang! Melissa and Kirk’s combined family on a Caribbean Cruise in 2015. Left to right: Phillip, Molly, Penny, Mitchell, and Daniel

do the hiring. Melissa belongs to the APA (Audio Publishers Association), and the PANA (Professional Audiobook Narrators Association). Through these organizations, Melissa continues to take new webinars and workshops to hone her art. “Continually, you are building your portfolio, receiving coaching and networking, working with bigger publishers, casting directors, producers, and establishing relationships with them. It’s a very long career process, a marathon, not a sprint. It takes awhile to build up your brand, so that you become well known enough that a producer pictures your style for a particular book.”

Melissa found a new family within the narrator community. “It’s the most supportive group of people on the

planet! We get together a lot, because we have a very isolating job. It’s also good to connect with people because people are the source of our stories. How you feel about these people are part of how you create. Life experiences are part of our art, so we need to connect with other people. One good thing about the pandemic is that, in every industry, people have learned how to connect virtually.”

Her preference in genres of books now are thrillers, especially if they involve anything medical. Her healthcare background adds a lot of depth and understanding to her narration. I wondered if any of us may have heard her? After all, she has narrated for Audible, Amazon, even iTunes. She purported, “I’m skilled with medical terminology, especially

anatomical terms. Any books with some forensic science or scientists trying to figure things out, I love that. I’ve done quite a few thrillers. I just finished a sweet little romance, which is a very fun change of pace. And it’s one of a series, so I’ll be doing the next one written by Delaney Cameron. Right now, I’m working on a young adult, urban fantasy with shapeshifters. This is the second in the Stones of Fire series by Sarah Ashwood.”

We will now get to peek behind the scenes, and see first-hand why Melissa’s narrations stand out as so emotionally charged. I asked to see where the “action” takes place. We went into her back office, and there were the expected literary tools and supplies. But, before me, was a structure much

Left: In To Kill A Mockingbird at Slidell Little Theatre. Middle: With Don Redman in Rumors Right: Melissa and Don were reunited onstage in Tales from Bogue Chitto Flats, based on the stories of John Case, “The Storyteller” of Slidell Magazine. Left: Melissa releases some energy and gets ready for another day of recording. Middle and Right: Where the magic happens! Melissa’s sound isolation booth with the cast of characters from her latest project.

like a modernized phone booth, with a door. Stepping closer, I saw images taped to the wall. Melissa pointed and said, “Those are my character studies taped on that wall so that I feel like I’m in the booth with all of the characters in the story, because I have to play all of them.”

Why that never occurred to me, I can’t say. But thinking back to audiobooks I had heard, I did recall that I heard the entire story through one narrator’s voice. If there is a dialogue between a man and a woman, the narrator goes back and forth between different accents, tones of voice, volume levels, even sound quality changes. Melissa has played children, teens, young, middle and older aged adults, as well as different genders. She has played different ethnicities, and nationalities, and uses dialect and accent coaches for specific accents. It sounded mind boggling, but she assured me, “That’s the fun part as an actor, because you get to study and research a lot. I’ve taken vocal courses to learn how to manipulate my voice to be more authentic when playing a man, for example.”

I pressed further and asked to hear an example. She prefaced her improvisation with saying, “Men do something a little bit differently than women. They have a more open way of holding their entire body, which changes the vocal quality.” She stood up and her demeanor was suddenly more assured and commandeering. As she spoke, her voice seemed more forceful, obviously with a deeper tone, but her sound level changed as well, and her speech had more of a staccato edge. It was startling, and impressive.

Melissa countered, “On the other hand, women tend to use more of the “s” sounds, depending on what kind of woman she is.” Her body relaxed in a more slinky, sophisticated pose. “Most women have a more lyrical quality to their speech patterns, sort of up and down, and sometimes with a little bit more of an upward questioning lilt at

the end. Children are fairly easy and straight forward. In my last book, I had a seven year old boy who lost his mom and dad, and he was so sweet. And then there was a guy that was super rich, a jerk who thought everybody was after his money. Those two were easy for me. Then there were different females, and I had to make sure the listener could readily differentiate between them. It’s about their attitude more than anything. That’s why the character descriptions are so useful. I also have to keep track of their voices. One of them may appear, say, in chapter one; and then, whoops, she pops in again suddenly in chapter 32. I may have forgotten what she sounded like, so I make little voice recordings to remind myself. I have an app on my iPad so that I can go back and listen to refresh myself.”

Days are varied, but usually start with Melissa reading the book a couple of times, thinking about the characters. “I’m going to get pictures in my mind to then put on my wall of what I think they might look like. Often, I ask the author for a description of their characters. I may ask how tall they are, what unique physical characteristics might they have, as well as what might they sound like vocally... gravelly, squeaky, annoyingly nasal, you know. The author often has these already in their imagination, because they’ve been living with these characters in their head for a long time. Usually, they are very helpful and grateful that I want to be authentic to their portrayals. They may list an actor or actress as a reference, and I may be able to go online and find a picture to put in my sound booth with me. Then I do research for the name of a place or of a person, something that I’m not sure how to pronounce. And this is all before I even step foot in the booth. Once I have all that, I’ll start recording.” It may surprise you to know that, before she gets into the booth, she always works out first. Remember, her background in muscle tension, kinesiology, and relaxation techniques. I

was informed that exercise works all of the breathing muscles, the diaphragm, and the muscles between the ribs. Melissa expounded, “I workout at a gym with no air conditioning, and we use sledgehammers, rope climbing, jumping over boxes, and real life maneuvers. Those exercises help get those muscles moving, expanded, and ready to be flexible, because you really have to maintain good breath control, utilize good breathing techniques and habits to sustain you in the booth for the next few hours of reading out loud. Typically, I work for about four hours at a stretch. Keep in mind that this will not amount to three to four hours of finished audio. I may only get two hours of audio because of all the file management in between stopping and starting speech. Any mistake, a slip of the tongue, sniffle, cough or even something on your clothing making a noise will cause you to have to punch and roll. I don’t wear jewelry, and am very careful of the fabrics I wear in there. Synthetics are the worst at making a sound when I’m scrolling my iPad. Also, I don’t wear sleeves for the same reason. I have one funny story that taught me about sounds in the booth. When I first got my sound booth, I wasn’t used to the quietness of it. It feels like you’re surrounded by utter silence, very disconcerting at first. You can hear your pulse beating in your ears, that’s how quiet it is. And I heard this unfamiliar sound. I’m looking all around me but I’m not moving. You know what it turned out to be? I had reading glasses on and it was my eyelashes brushing the lens when I blinked.” She laughed at my shock, and assured me,”Oh, yeah, you can hear even that. The professional microphones are pretty darn sensitive. You also have to watch where you’re gesturing, because you’ve got the monitor right there, the microphone, the boom, the desktop, and the walls of that tiny box. You’re pretty hemmed in, so gesturing is limited. But a lot of times I can make tiny changes with


my body so the gesture can come through in my voice. You’ve probably heard that people can hear when you’re smiling. It’s true! They can hear when you’re angry, or aggressive or whatever emotion you are projecting. I have to be vigilant vocally, and extremely in tune with all of those things.

Finally, there may or may not be post-production editing to do. Often, Melissa outsources this part to a sound engineer. But she always outsources the job of proofing to another professional. She turned both palms up and made a parallel to writing, “Just as someone who’s typing and writing may not notice their own mistake, the same happens in audio. You always need another pair of objective ears, which is a post-production expense for me. Normally, I get paid per finished hour of the book, so I also have to keep track of every hour, in addition to everything else I’m doing. A book might be seven and a half hours long, or it might be twelve hours long. So it could take days, weeks, or even a month for one book, depending on the research and length of the book. Time management is critical. I try not to get down to the wire with deadlines, because the work is demanding, physically and mentally. Lastly, even while working on one book, Melissa is looking toward the next project. “It’s an art field. So you’re always looking, you’re always auditioning, and you’re always networking. One personal goal is to work with more publishers, maybe bigger publishers to expand my career. I love working with independent authors too, because it feels so collaborative, especially if it’s their first book. Sometimes I can help them grow. Either way, growth is fun. I can definitely see my progression over four years.” She crinkled her nose and said, “I don’t like to listen to my first attempts at a male character. What I’m narrating now is far better than what I did 20 books ago. I’ve put in a lot of effort, and received a lot of coaching and support!” She slapped her thighs in celebration.

In spite of all I learned that day, the thing that impressed me the most was the fact that, as an adult, Melissa wasn’t afraid to take on a whole new career and a whole new set of life skills. She started this in 2018. Four years later, she has learned in depth about acting, researching, documentaries, animation, interactive voice recording, technology, networking, as well as her own body and imagination.

If any of you are feeling trapped in a career that isn’t challenging, I hope 2022 finds you with time for some calculated research toward your next career. I also hope Melissa can be an inspiration for you to take the plunge. Maybe you can also join me in my 2022 mantra: Be kinder, gentler, and more patient with yourself and others... and perhaps a bit quieter, too!

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The Storyteller


Having been a Slidell resident for almost fifty years, I can say with certainty that one of our community’s greatest assets is the volunteer involvement by so many. It seems that, for all our needs, there is a group ready to lead the cause. It could be arts, good government, charity, faith-based, or any of the other things that make a community thrive. You see, a community needs volunteers just as it needs parks, playgrounds, and libraries.

I have noticed over the years that, among the volunteers, there are those that rise to the top as leaders. I have also noticed that those who are most successful at this do it for no other reason than to contribute; contribute to a better life for all. They are the ones that don’t volunteer to be recognized. They do not volunteer to get praise, financial or political gain. They do it from their heart.

Over these years, I have watched such a person. A paradox, he is a mostly quiet gentleman but also a forceful one. He leads by example.

If you are familiar with my writing, you probably know I have done a few stories about the people of our region. Almost all were “heroes”, as we call them. I have written about Floyd Fogg, Jimmy Goldman, George Baragona and Captain Charles McVay. War heroes, by in large.

I moved away from those type of stories, as those of

historical nature were better written by the late native son, Ronnie Dunaway. Other biographical stories have been written by Charlotte Collins. That does not mean I will never again write such a story; but, understand, I have gone in a different direction. With that said, there is one more hero story I wanted to write. This could be my last of the type.

Before I gave up the local scene to other writers, I wanted and was encouraged to write a biography of one of our most outstanding citizens. With the intent of writing a full biography, he and I met each Tuesday morning for one hour and I learned of his life from birth to present. Then Covid came. I don’t think he minds me saying he is elderly. Gee, you couldn’t have accomplished what he has unless you were. So, to protect his health (or that was my excuse), we ceased our meetings.

The reality is, Covid took my heart out of all writing. I felt the quality of my stories decline; and, if it had not been for encouragement from the community, the publisher and my family, there would be no more “Storyteller” submissions. Well, I’m back; but, while on my sabbatical, I realized that a biography of length is not my forte. I just can’t do it. With that said, from my heart, I did want to share a little of what I learned in those meetings and add an experience that solidified his choice of a lifetime profession.

1 W r B s o u s f New O l

Don’t worry, you will know the subject soon enough; but, for now, let me introduce him as his life was shared with me in our Tuesday morning meetings. I could not help but compare our meetings to those recorded in the bestseller of a few years back, titled Tuesdays with Morey.

My subject was then living in the Country Club area after having his home on Bayou Liberty destroyed in Katrina. The present home was not cluttered, but there were mementos of things he held dear scattered here and there. Of note, there were pictures and mementos that belonged to his beautiful, deceased wife Joyce. She was the only love of his life and a former Hollywood actress. No, you wouldn’t know that. I don’t think that was important to them either. What was important was their children, their community, their Catholic faith, and his profession. You see, his profession itself was serving; being a caregiver. He was a long-time Slidell veterinarian. One of the things I noticed in his arsenal of memories was a brass eagle; a bald eagle, like the symbol of our country. I didn’t ask its origin or purpose, I just supposed it was a patriotic keepsake. I have not yet told you that he and Joyce were deeply involved in the state and national political scene. Neither ever had the desire to hold an office, but they, in keeping with their beliefs, just wanted to make sure there were good people elected.

I would learn that he was raised in what, at that time, was a middle-workingclass family in eastern Gentilly. His father was a hog farmer, and he grew up in the not-so-pristine environment of swine and all that goes with it.

Since I personally was raised in the country, I knew that, to successfully raise and market a hog, you must put weight on it. Weight requires food; and acquiring food for literally hundreds of hogs was a difficult task. Part of his job was to get up very early and visit the restaurants of New Orleans, picking up the discarded food scrapes. Often, they would have to separate the trash, bottles, broken plates, and paper before offering up these now-aged delicacies to the animals. Just imagine - these hogs were eating from Galatoire’s, Antoine’s and Commander’s Palace. On this haut cuisine, the business prospered; and our young man advanced through high school, graduating from Jesuit High School in 1950.

As he neared graduation, he was called to the office and advised that, due to his scores and interest, he should become an engineer. At home, the hog business had continued to grow into a successful enterprise. In lieu of sending him to college, his father was willing to buy him his own pig farm. Now, I’ll tell you this. His first name is Ron. As tempting as being a farmer was, Ron wanted to be a veterinarian. No one from his school had ever become one Father Hector, his advisor, was taken back and would have to research the avenue on how to achieve his pupil’s dreams. Father Hector informed him the only chance of getting this type of education was to first attend LSU for three years and, with luck, he would be one of nine students selected from Louisiana to attend Texas A&M. This he did, graduating as a veterinarian in 1957.

I am sure that, no matter how fulfilled we are with our profession, there

are some points in our life when we wonder if we have made the correct decision. There are times that we need vocational reinforcement. The following is Ron’s vocational reinforcement and a summary of his caring nature. It happened in the middle of his career.

Both Ron and I invested a great deal of time in our Tuesday morning meetings. We were both disappointed when Covid took my writing spirit away. Ron being a caring person, he seemed to understand; and I was pleased when, one day, he came by the office with the brass eagle in his hands. I knew there was a story there. As he told the tale, I knew that I couldn’t do a biography of his life, but I could write one heck of a snapshot.

Now, I’ll let you know. His name is Doctor Ron Francis. Dr. Francis wasn’t Slidell’s first vet; but, without being rude, he was Slidell’s first functioning vet. As his practice grew, he became active in the community. He served as Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, hence being a force behind widening Front Street; a leader in the Republican party of St. Tammany Parish; a member and president of Slidell Rotary Club; and a founder of The Rotary Club of Slidell Northshore. In addition, he held many positions in St. Genevieve Catholic Church. I could go on, but you get the idea.

He built an office on Front Street and, as the years passed, at least three other veterinarian offices opened with other doctors. The four were a close-knit group and covered for each other on rotating weekends. The following incident occurred because of that arrangement.

It was Dr. Francis’s weekend to be on


call and, sure enough, at 2 AM, the phone rang. Maybe at that moment, he wished he had been an engineer, and not have to arise from his comfortable rest, leave his wife and family and go to the office in the middle of the night. Or maybe he thought, “If I had just been a pig farmer...”

It was evident the voice on the line was elderly and very emotional as she related the serious condition of her dog. He agreed to see her and her dog but, due to her emotional condition, she could not understand how to get to his Front Street office. Her regular vet was on Brownswitch Road. After realizing that, with her condition, it would be impossible to direct her, and in true Ron Francis fashion, he agreed to meet her at the other vet’s office.

Ron does not remember, or he may have never known, the circumstances that created the high degree of stress for the lady. Probably, she was a widow, and it is very common in such cases for a person to transfer their attention and affection to a pet. If you are a pet lover, you can relate to your emotional attachment for these nonhuman (but in some cases, better than human) animals. Ron understood this. It was an attribute that most likely led him to vet school in the first place.

The lady had the dog bundled in a blanket, holding it close to her chest. Ron put both in his truck and took them to his office. In the examining room, the lady unwrapped the dog and gave it to Ron for examination. The dog was deceased. Now, what happened next is what separates being a great veterinarian, from just having a job; or an ordinary man, from a man that can and will be compassionate.

If you’re my age, you may have been present at the passing of a loved one. Those last few moments when it is just you, the physician, and your loved one are memories that last a lifetime. I must say, some physicians are blessed with the ability to console; and, for others, as kind as they try to be, it is just another day in a doctor’s life. This is not being critical; it is just that empathy is a gift not given to all.

Through years of experience and having the gift of empathy, Ron related the devastating news to the lady. He was not prepared for her emotional reaction. She became extremely unbalanced, emotionally and physically. She began to hyperventilate and became incoherent.

Ron tried 911, but for some reason could not make contact. He knew that, in her emotional state, her age

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and possible preexisting conditions, the situation could be life threatening. Without hesitation, he assisted her to his truck and proceeded to the nearest hospital, Slidell Memorial. She corrected him, that was not her hospital, so he continued toward Northshore Hospital realizing it was delaying the treatment she immediately needed. As it turned out, the hospital had medical records on her, and knew of her history. It was decided that she would be medicated and evaluated overnight. At 4:45 AM, Ron returned to the comforts of his home.

The next day, the elderly lady came to his office.

“Dr. Francis, thank you for helping me last night. I know I was a burden, but that dog is all in the world I have to love. I don’t know what I would have done if you had not taken me to the hospital. How much do I owe you?”

Dr. Francis replied, “I can’t charge you for pronouncing your dog deceased. I did not treat your dog. I do offer my condolences for your loss. Your love for your dog is something that I see often in this business and being involved in their passing is part of my job I don’t like. However, being able to extend the life of a pet is the joy of my profession. You don’t owe me anything.”

The day after that, the lady reappeared at Ron’s office. She had the brass eagle statue with her.

“Dr. Francis, I want to give this to you. You know it is the symbol of our country and what America stands for. I think you are the best example of a citizen of our country that I have met in a long time. Will you take it? I want you to have it.”

That was the last time he would see the lady. At her age, it is reasonable to think she passed within a few years. The eagle remained in a prominent place in Dr. Francis’s office until the day he retired.

After a bad day, and everyone has them, Ron would look at the eagle, remember the elderly lady and her deceased dog, and know that his destiny was not to be a pig farmer. He was pleased. John

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Can You Have Your Cake, And Eat It Too?

The pretty girl you see here is my granddaughter, Allison. She celebrated a birthday at our house recently and we almost had to add an extra room to the place to accommodate her birthday cake. I’ll excuse you if you can’t read the number (12) because of the frosting and decorations. It was a good cake, but I’m still reeling from the sugar high.

So, what does cake have to do with money, investments, financial planning, and all the other things I write about every month? I’ll explain in a minute, but first, consider this:

All investments have risks.

Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, precious metals, real estate, art, and other asset classes can go up, but they can also lose value. Prudent investors are aware of the risk-reward relationship and must give it consideration when making investment decisions. Nevertheless, the risk still remains.

Along those same lines, every financial tool has advantages and disadvantages. For example, CDs are considered to be among the safest investments around, but their current rates of return are pretty dismal. On the other hand, fine art might appreciate greatly in value, but artwork is often illiquid and generally can’t be converted into cash easily. Frankly, no

• • • Life Insurance Might Help • • •
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investment or inancial tool is ideal. As they say, you can’t have your cake, and eat it, too. Or, can you?

A interesting strategy among conservative investors is to use whole life insurance as a hedge against other investments, because the cash value of the policy is guaranteed to grow taxdeferred every year (assuming you pay the premiums and don’t take any loans against your policy). This strategy allows the investor to leave some money at risk – in the stock market, real estate, precious metals – with the hope of a higher return, while knowing that low-risk life insurance cash values will continue to grow, year in and year out. An added bonus is the liquidity of the cash in the policy, which may be used while the policy is in force for any number of reasons. The cash can even be another source of income for retirement. And, the death beneit to those you leave behind – such as your spouse – could actually replace the money you spent during your retirement years. What a deal!1

Just about everyone I know wants to grow and preserve wealth, and whole life insurance might work for you. If you’d like to learn more about this strategy for conservative investors, call me for an appointment.

Now, Allison, how about some ice cream to go with that cake?

1Guarantees are based on the claims paying ability of the issuing company.

Securities and Advisory Services offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment (s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing.

To signup to volunteer or to get more info, please call (985) 646-4371 and be sure to follow “Keep Slidell Beautiful” on Facebook Citywide Cleanup and Recycling Day Saturday, April 30, 2022 9 am - 12 pm • Heritage Park Citywide Cleanup
your family, friends, school clubs, church groups, and civic organizations at 9 am at Heritage Park and volunteer to pickup trash in our community Free lunch for volunteers will be served at 12 pm. Recycling Day The following items will be accepted for recycling at the Heritage Park parking lot: • Aluminum Cans • Glass Items • Plastic Grocery Bags • Tires (Only five tires per person per vehicle, DEQ regulations.)

My Favorite Alaska Trip

Story and photos by Donna Bush

If you’ve read my stories over the years with Slidell Magazine , then you know I love Alaska. I’ve visited numerous times, everything from girls’ camping and kayaking trips, to hiking/biking/fishing trips. This month, I want to share with you one of my favorite visits to Alaska. It’s a trip I’ve experienced a few times over the years, and it’s hands-down the best!

How about living aboard a 65’ boat in Shelikof Strait along the Alaska Peninsula for six days? This is the perfect place to unplug and recharge! To get there, I fly from New Orleans to Anchorage; then to Kodiak Island for a night. Weather permitting, the following day I board a float plane that takes me to wherever the boat is anchored. No, this is not a scavenger hunt, flying around looking for the boat. The boat captain and pilot communicate before we take off and it’s a straight flight. So, other than unplugging, why is this my favorite way to see Alaska? First, the scenery is stellar! The abundant wildlife is absolutely incredible. I’ve photographed numerous grizzly bears, foxes, bald eagles, sea otters, sea lions and an amazing number of different birds.

Keep in mind, I haven’t just taken this trip once or twice, but multiple times! My first trip was in 2002. Yep, back when my camera used film.

So, how did a girl from Louisiana end up in such a remote area of Alaska? It all started when another local photographer put together a boat trip with all Louisiana nature photographers. I was one of the lucky ones invited. There were 5 of us – two ladies and three guys.

My friend Marie and I went up early to explore other areas of Alaska. She had traveled to Alaska many times, but this was my first. We visited

Let me tell you more about our home for 6 days. The boat is 65’ in length, with 5 cabins and 2 heads (bathrooms); a large galley/sitting/dining area and a bridge (driving) area roomy enough for us all to hang out and glass the shores for wildlife. We stayed on the large boat to sleep, eat meals and motor to different locations. Once anchored, we climbed aboard a 22’ skiff with twin 115 Yamaha engines and ventured to the shore. The skiff was unique, as it offered a winchlowered boarding ramp at the front, making it easy to just walk off and onto the beach.

a cool hand-built log cabin in Chitina where we drove the Kennicott/McCarthy Highway and experienced a taste of what Alaskalife was like back in the mining days. We were even lucky enough to visit Denali National Park.

There’s nothing quite like living onboard a boat in a remote area of Alaska, surrounded by the most amazing scenery and wildlife imaginable. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been asked if I was taking an Alaska cruise each time someone learned I was traveling there. Yes! I live on a boat, but this is not like any cruise trip, ever!

Shelikof Strait is located between the northwest side of Kodiak Island and Katmai National Park, along the beautiful Aleutian Mountain Range. There are a variety of locations where we can anchor in protected waters. I should explain that, unlike coastal Louisiana, Alaska experiences tides in feet not inches. Tides and weather greatly influence where we anchor and where we go ashore.

That first trip was eventful on so many levels. We met up with the boat in Kukak Bay on the Katmai Coast. After lunch, we motored to Hallo Bay for our first session with the bears. Hallo is a large, sandy beach located in Katmai National Park beneath the Aleutian peaks. There are three glacial-fed rivers

that drain into the bay. It is a favorite place for grizzly bears to gather and feast on rich sedge grass along the mud flats. At low tide, the bears dig along the tidal flats for razor clams. I am so glad I was able to see and experience the richness of Hallo Bay. Nowadays, it is a very popular day flight for bear viewing. Surprisingly, the bears are quite tolerant of the planes and the people.

We motored over in the skiff as far up Hallo Creek as we could, then walked the remaining way. We spot a sow with a spring cub sleeping; another sow with a 1-year old cub, and several adults, probably males. We set up and began photographing, while Chuck, our captain, returned to the beach to check on the skiff. More bears wandered into the meadow, including two that began play-fighting with each other. This can mean that they are siblings, or it could be a mating ritual. At times, they appeared to be dancing as they stood on their hind legs and wrestled together. When Chuck returned, we loaded up and headed to the main boat, where we all pitched in to help with dinner.

Alaska is unique in many ways and one of those relates to bears. It is the only state that has all three species of North American bears – brown bears and grizzly bears, black bears and polar bears. Brown bears and

grizzly bears are considered the same species and most people use the terms interchangeably. They are found almost everywhere in the state. Brown bears range from 7-9 feet in length; with males weighing 400-1500 pounds and females weighing 200850 pounds. They range in color from dark brown to blonde. Black bears are usually smaller than both brown and polar bears; reaching 4-6 feet in length, with males weighing 150-400 pounds and females weighing 125250 pounds. Here’s the interesting thing – they can range in color from black to brown. However, brown bears have a prominent shoulder hump that black bears do not have. That hump is all muscle, allowing brown bears to exert enough force to crack open clams, tear through rotting trees in search of grubs or rodents, and dig their way out of their winter dens. A grizzly bear’s claws are at least 2 inches long, but can reach more than 4 inches. Front tracks measure 6-8 inches long and 7-9 inches wide, with hind tracks measuring 12-16 inches long and 8-10 ½ inches wide. Polar bears, the largest of all, reach 8-10 feet in length and are easily identifiable with their white to cream colored fur. Males weigh 600-1200 pounds. Females weigh 400-700 pounds.

The next morning dawned with fog and low clouds. We headed back to

Hallo again. As the wind began to pick up and the temperature dropped, the bears moved inland. It’s as if they knew a storm was brewing. Back at the boat, Chuck listened to the weather forecast – 30 knot winds and 20-foot seas! “We’ve got to head for protected waters! Hallo is too open to anchor with even 10 knot winds!” The wind and seas really picked up. After the anchor was lifted, we made our way across the churning seas in search of sanctuary. Even though the 65-foot boat was tossed around like a bobbing cork in the ocean and we could hear food crashing in the fridge, as well as dishes in the cabinets, I felt confident with Chuck at the helm. After all, he ran a fishing boat in the Bering Sea for years. Think The Deadliest Catch

About 90 minutes later, we reached the calm waters of Kukak Bay, where we originally met the boat. Still with fog and low ceiling at 8pm, the rain had tapered off to a gentle shower. The next morning brought more stormy weather – not a good day for photography. Instead, we used the day to motor to Geographic Harbor, located in Amalik Bay of Katmai National Park. It received this name due to the five 1916 National Geographic-sponsored expeditions to this area after the 1912 Katmai volcano eruptions. The volcano was later named Novarupta and the area

became known as The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes due to the smoking, steaming ash that covered the ground 4 years later!

Geographic Harbor is the best location for photographing bears digging for clams and eating mussels. The gold-colored kelp offered a beautiful background. The next morning, we rose early to hopefully catch bears on the clam tide. Watching the bears dig allowed us to get a real sense of the strength of their upper body. They located the clam with their keen sense of smell, quickly dug a large hole in a matter of seconds, unearthed the clam, and used their brute strength to cracked it open. I remember one trip where a sow uncovered the clam, cracked it open by pushing it into the rocks, then served it on the back of her forefoot! The coolest thing was watching her

cub emulate her! The clams provide a necessary nutrient-rich addition to their diet. An average-size sow needs to eat approximately 200 clams per day to offset the energy burned digging for them.

Katmai is home to both Steller sea lions and harbor seals; which are in the pinniped family, Latin for ‘fin footed.’ Brown sea lions are extremely vocal, have visible ear flaps and are able to walk on land using their large flippers. Seals are a light or dark gray with some lighter or darker blotches. With their small flippers, they wiggle on their bellies on land but are quite efficient swimmers. They lack visible

ear flaps, and are much quieter than their noisy cousins, preferring to utter soft grunts. While both species dine on seafood and can exist in or out of the water, the less-social seal is far better adapted to live in the water than on land. Sea lions are a social group, often seen together in large crowds that can reach up to 1500! They love to hang together on rocks, known as a haulout, and converse loudly.

Bald eagles are as prevalent in Alaska as pigeons in the New Orleans French Quarter. Alaska boasts the highest population in North America, with estimates of 100,000-150,000 birds. Many stay year-round, wintering in Southeast Alaska, but some leave during the colder months. During salmon spawning, huge numbers gather in the rivers to feed on spawnedout salmon. In the summertime, bald

eagles are easily seen perched, hunting for food or feeding their young. Even though fish is their main diet, they are opportunistic and will prey on waterfowl, sea urchins, clams, crabs and carrion.

Typically, two eggs are laid in late April, several days apart. After incubation of about 35 days, the chicks hatch. Often, the weaker of the two doesn’t make it to fledging, which occurs after approximately 75 days.

Once I switched to digital cameras, I could afford to shoot hundreds of images of flying bald eagles and other birds, especially tufted puffins. One of my favorites, they honestly don’t look like they should be able to fly, but yet they do. Their small, short wings require them to put a ton of effort into taking flight; flapping their wings up to 400 beats per minute, as they use their brightly colored feet to run clumsily across the water. There’s no wonder they are known as the clowns of the sea. But, look out! Once airborne, they can fly up to 40 mph! They look just as funny coming in for a landing, often belly-flopping or tumbling and rolling across the surface of the water. Of course, their intense orange beaks add to the clown appearance. These vibrantly colored bills are seasonal, appearing only during breeding season. Both male and female use their beaks and feet to excavate a burrow in a seaside cliff for their eggs that is approximately 34 inches long with an entrance 7.5 inches wide and 7 inches tall. All this for only one egg. As you might imagine, they feed on fish; diving as deep underwater as 360 feet to fill their mouths with fish to feed their young. They can carry up to 20 fish at a time. I’ve often seen them in large rookeries with other seabirds, such as blacklegged kittiwakes, glaucous-winged gulls, common murres, and various auklet species.

Over my several trips, I’ve encountered many red foxes in Katmai. I’ve had them follow our group occasionally, seemingly more curious than cautious, and perhaps hoping for a bite of food. During my first trip, a pair of young, skinny foxes followed as we walked through the grassy fields of Hallo Bay. Chuck caught some tiny fish in the stream and fed them. Amazed and appreciative, they stayed with us until we left that day. Red foxes have striking colorations. Usually, they display a white-tipped tail and black stockings, but there are many variations. The outside of their ears may be black-tipped, with white inside. Their fur can range in color from a deep auburn to a light yellowish. Bears mostly dine on fish, in particular, spawning salmon. But they also eat sedge grass, grubs, small rodents, ripe berries and clams. Females don’t mate until they are 4-6 years old. Mating season occurs from May till early August with multiple partners.

When the female enters her den in the fall, the embryo will start to develop. She gives birth to 1-3 cubs while still in hibernation, usually in January or February. There have been occurrences where a female gave birth to four cubs. Can you imagine waking up from a long nap to find you have four children? When born, cubs are tiny and hairless, weighing less than half a pound. After a winter of sleeping and nursing, warm in the den with their mom, they emerge from their winter home weighing 4-6 pounds. The family searches for food as Mom rears her young, teaching them survival skills. They stay with her until approximately two years old. Known as sub-adults, they will fend for themselves until they reach sexual maturity.

One of the photo ops I’ve enjoyed the most is observing bear behavior.

I love the play fighting that they do, but there’s so much more. Often, they will stand up to get a better look around. This is usually an act of curiosity as a result of a noise or smell, but can also happen when they are scared. When a bear stands up and rubs its back on a tree, most people assume they have an unreachable itch; but, actually, it is a way of marking their territory. The same is true of them clawing trees. Frequently, after a full belly, they will roll around, striking cute poses as if they were doing yoga. While Mom is busy digging for clams or eating sedge grass, her cubs will play with each other or amuse themselves playing with an empty shell, rock or their feet. I’ve been fortunate to watch a sow educating her cubs on proper ways to dig for clams, eat salmon, and even reprimanding them when

they demanded too much of her attention. She does not hesitate to discipline them! There was the time a sow with a spring cub we named “Whiney” was running to Mom every time a young fox came near him. Mom had enough, swatted the cub and chased off the fox. The fox continued to return to play with the cub. Finally, Mom was done. She sauntered over to the bay and swam across to another rock outcropping. Whiney followed her, reluctantly. We could hear him crying and whining the entire short distance!

On another trip, we were lucky enough to motor with Chuck back to Kodiak Island, rather than returning by float plane. It was time to refuel the boat and it sounded like a wonderful adventure... and it was! We were able to appreciate scenery we

never would have seen otherwise and an opportunity to photograph sea otters more up-close than ever before. I was able to lay on my belly on the lowered skiff ramp, which provided an eye-level perspective of the otters. They were so curious about us that they bobbed up and down directly in front of my camera, often too close for me to focus. I even thought one might climb up the ramp and join us!

As I’ve mentioned, weather can change at a moment’s notice in Alaska. I’ve been lucky enough to be weathered-in on the boat when the fog would consume Kodiak Island. On the other hand, I’ve been unlucky enough to be weathered-in on Kodiak Island for the same reason.

And, just one more reason I love this trip - the fabulous food! Many days, we dined on spectacular snow crabs, and fresh caught halibut - caught by yours truly! It just doesn’t get any fresher than fish you caught yourself. I hope you’ve enjoyed this visit to Alaska and the amazing Katmai National Park. I’ve gotta’ go now. I’m hungry for halibut!

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“Your Estate Matters”

Trust me

As heard by the fly on my conference room wall:

Client: I need a trust.

Me: What kind of trust?

Client: I don’t know.

Me: Why do you think you need a trust?

Client: Because I read somewhere that everyone should have a trust. There are so many kinds of trusts that I could make this article a novel but let’s just start with “Trusts 101: A Primer”. Most people have heard of “Living” Trusts (and my paralegal, Gina Noto, has written some awesome articles on these in the past) but what does the word “Living” really mean? In legal (Latin) parlance it’s called an “inter vivos” trust and it means “between the living”. Trusts that are not created until death are called “testamentary” because they are created under your Last Will and Testament. Really, that’s it. Think about it, you’re either alive or dead, there’s no in-between. Let’s go back to the “Living” Trusts that are commonly called REVOCABLE Living Trusts. They are created while you are alive and can be revoked or amended as long as you’re breathing


(and competent), just like your Last Will and Testament. That’s why Revocable Living Trusts are often referred to as “Will Substitutes”.

But wait…you can also have a "Living" Trust that is IRREVOCABLE, although we don’t usually refer to them in that way. These are trusts established while you are alive but cannot be revoked. Usually, the person establishing these irrevocable inter vivos trusts, called the Settlor (or Trustor/Grantor) is creating them for the benefit of someone else (e.g. spouse/children/grandchildren), but they can also be self-settled (created for yourself). I think it goes without saying that irrevocable trusts should only be handled by skilled advisors, as just like the name implies, once set in motion, with few exceptions, you cannot change them! However, they have a definite place in estate planning as they are often used to mitigate estate taxes (by removing assets from the Settlor’s estate) and give asset protection, all under the proper circumstances.

Every trust has three very important “players”: 1) The “Settlor” of an inter vivos trust is the one who creates the trust

See other articles and issues of interest!

and establishes all the trust’s directives (who gets what, how/when/where). In a testamentary trust, the creator is called the “Testator” (the person making the Last Will and Testament).

2) The “Trustee” is responsible for managing and investing the trust’s assets properly and following all the terms of the trust. In most revocable living trusts, the Settlor is usually the first trustee, but there should always be successor trustees named. In some irrevocable trusts, the Settlor can also be the first trustee. However, in a testamentary trust, you will NEVER see the testator as Trustee…can you guess why? Because once the testamentary trust is in existence, we know one thing…the testator has died!

3) The “Beneficiary” is the last player here and the one you really want to be! All the trust’s assets are for the benefit of the beneficiary(ies)!

In a nutshell, the Settlor establishes the trust to set aside assets for the Beneficiary, and chooses a Trustee to manage those assets. If you think you or your loved ones could benefit from such an arrangement, then maybe a trust is right for you. But TRUST ME… everyone does not need a trust!

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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.


Half of your healthcare is in the stories you share with us. Because before you’re a patient, you’re a person – and what you’re thinking, feeling, and hoping for can help us to personalize your recovery and improve your outcome.

150th Anniversary of Arbor Day

The first Arbor Day in America was held in Nebraska City, Nebraska in 1872. It’s estimated that 1,000,000 trees were planted in Nebraska during the first Arbor Day. But how did Arbor Day get started, and why?

As pioneers began moving into the Nebraska Territory, the lack of trees was felt deeply. Not only did the new residents miss the trees they left behind, they were also left without the trees they needed as windbreaks to keep soil in place, for fuel and building materials, and for shade from the hot sun.

Nebraska newspaper editor and resident of Nebraska City, NE, J. Sterling Morton, had an enthusiasm for trees and advocated strongly for individuals and civic groups to plant them. Once he became secretary of the Nebraska Territory, he further spread his message of the value of trees. And on January 4, 1872, Morton first proposed a tree planting holiday to be called “Arbor Day” at a meeting of the State Board of Agriculture.

The celebration date was set for April 10, 1872. Prizes were offered to counties and individuals for the largest number of properly planted trees on that day. It was estimated that more than 1 million trees were planted in Nebraska on the first Arbor Day.

Arbor Day was officially proclaimed in 1874 by Nebraska’s Governor, Robert W. Furnas. In 1885, Arbor Day was named a legal state holiday in Nebraska, and April 22 was selected as the date for its permanent annual observance.

Many other states also passed legislation to observe Arbor Day each year. By 1920, more than 45 states and territories were celebrating Arbor Day. The tree planting tradition became prominent in schools across the nation in 1882, with schoolchildren learning about the importance of trees as well as receiving a tree to plant in their own yard.

Today, Arbor Day is celebrated in all 50 states. The most common date for the state observance is the last Friday in April - National Arbor Day - but a number of state Arbor Days are at other times to coincide with the best tree planting weather, from January and February in the south to May in the far north.

Louisiana holds it’s Arbor Day on the third Friday in January. This

year it was held at the Louisiana State Arboretum on Friday, January 21, 2022.

And while Nebraska City, NE, is the official birthplace of the Arbor Day holiday, communities around the globe gather every year to celebrate trees and plant for a greener tomorrow.

That’s the HOW and WHY Arbor Day was created, but why is it STILL celebrated all over the world?


As our science and understanding of the world around us has grown, so too has our appreciation of the important role the humble tree plays in our lives.

So, here are a few FACTS ABOUT TREES that you may not have known..

What can a tree do for you?

A lot. Here’s some of the ways, sometimes unexpected, that trees positively affect us, our communities, and our world.

Trees help clean our air

 Global forests removed about one-third of fossil fuel emissions annually from 1990 to 2007.

 Trees remove pollution from the atmosphere, improving air quality and human health.

 In Los Angeles, trees remove nearly 2,000 tons of air pollution each year.

 In Chicago, trees remove more than 18,000 tons of air pollution each year.

 In Greater Kansas City, trees remove 26,000 tons of air pollution each year.

 Roadside trees reduce nearby indoor air pollution by more than 50%.


Trees contribute to our health

 A study of 10 cities found community forests save an average of one life each year. In New York City, trees save an average of eight lives every year.

 Office workers with a view of trees report significantly less stress and more satisfaction.

Trees provide us with oxygen

 One large tree can provide a day’s supply of oxygen for up to four people.

 More than 20% of the world’s oxygen is produced in the Amazon Rainforest.

Trees help clean our drinking water

 Forested watersheds provide quality drinking water to more than 180 million Americans.

 In 1997, New York City spent $1.5 billion to preserve the forested watershed that supplies New York City’s drinking water by purchasing thousands of upstate acres of forested watershed. A filtration plant large enough to clean New York City’s water supply would have cost more than $6 billion dollars.

Today, New Yorkers enjoy some of the cleanest drinking water in the world, and New York City has won regional water taste competitions.

Trees provide much-needed cooling

 Trees lower surface and air temperatures by providing shade. Shaded surfaces may be 20–45°F cooler than the peak temperatures of unshaded materials.

Trees cool the city by up to 10°F by shading our homes and streets and releasing water vapor into the air through their leaves.

 Evaporation of water from trees has a cooling influence.

Trees help reduce the effects of climate change

 Trees absorb carbon dioxide (CO2), removing and storing the carbon while releasing the oxygen back into the air. In one year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the amount of CO2 produced by a car driven 26,000 miles.

 Nearly 20 pounds of carbon dioxide are produced from burning one gallon of non-ethanol gasoline.

In 2020, Americans used about 123 billion gallons of gas. That equals almost 2.5 TRILLION pounds of carbon dioxide. It would take about 51.25 billion trees to absorb and transform the carbon dioxide U.S. drivers produce every year. Or put another way, every American would need to plant 155 trees a year, to get the job done.

Jenni M. Triola,
102 Smart Place, Slidell, LA BOOK AN APPOINTMENT BY PHONE or ONLINE A WOMAN and MILITARY-OWNED Business! “By far, the best dentist I’ve ever had in my life. Dr. Triola is very mindful and conscientious about your issues. She’ll listen to your questions.” -- Ailin F. (Slidell) -985-641-4005
102 Smart Place, Slidell, LA BOOK AN APPOINTMENT BY PHONE or ONLINE A WOMAN and MILITARY-OWNED Business! “By far, the best dentist I’ve ever had in my life. Dr. Triola is very mindful and conscientious about your issues. She’ll listen to your questions.” -- Ailin F. (Slidell) -985-641-4005
Jenni M. Triola, DMD
Every golfer will receive a Columbia PFG shirt! FRIDAY MAY 13, 2022 GOLF @ 8AM or 1:30PM SHOTGUN START LUNCH @ NOON Thank you to our additional sponsors: • BROWN SUGAR BBQ • SOUTHSIDE CAFE • FLORIDA MARINE • PIKE’S COLLISION • COASTAL ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES • CASTAWAY’S DAIQUIRIS • HOOTERS OF SLIDELL Randy Smith GOLF CLASSIC INVITE YOU TO THE ROYAL GOLF CLUB • 201 ROYAL DRIVE • SLIDELL, LA $150 per GOLFER $600 per 4-PERSON TEAM All Food & Drink Included SILENT AUCTION AFTER THE TOURNAMENT SPONSORED BY FOR MORE INFORMATION: Cliff Laigast | 504-296-9982 or Randy Smith | 985-705-4200 Randy Smith Campaign, PO Box 4114, Slidell, LA 70459 PLEASE MAKE CHECKS PAYABLE TO: Hole-in-one wins a $40,000 2022 Toyota Tundra from Toyota of Slidell !

Animal Assistance League of Slidell

2700 Terrace Avenue • Slidell, LA 70458


Animal Assistance League (AAL) is a non-profit volunteer organization that was founded to support the Slidell Animal Shelter by:

• Providing food, medicine, veterinary care and comfort items for all the sheltered animals through generous donations and adoption fees.

• Promoting public awareness regarding pet overpopulation and responsible pet ownership.

• Assisting in processing adoptions.

•  Caring for adoptable cats at PetSmart.

•  Socializing the animals and providing daily exercise.

• Helping to prepare for successful adoptions.

• Helping to keep the animals and shelter clean and healthy.

Adoption hours are 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays.

All adoptable dogs and cats are spayed or neutered, microchipped, dewormed, vaccinated according to age, tested for heartworms (dogs) and feline leukemia/FIV (cats) and maintained on heartworm and flea prevention.

Adoption Fees: Dogs $90 Cats $80

To View Available Pets visit the shelter at 2700 Terrace Avenue, Slidell, LA or browse profiles online at: or

Facebook: Animal Assistance League of Slidell

1st Annual Golf Benefit

Friday, June 3, 2022 • Pinewood Golf Club

Steak Dinner • After Party • Live Band

Check-in 12pm • Tee Time 1pm

$125 Entry Fee Includes: Steak Dinner • After Party • Green Fees Carts • Gift • Access to Practice Facilities

For more info please call:

Andy Frisard 504-512-1039

Don Shea 985-237-8800

A portion of proceeds is going to Slidell Animal Assistance League

FYI - The Slidell Animal Shelter is part of the Slidell Police Dept.

Please select your sponsorship level:

K-9 Sponsor - $3,000

2 teams (8 Players)

Sponsor sign on Front & Back 9

Sign at registration table

Name listed on Facebook

Swat - $1,500

1 team (4 Players)

Sponsor sign on Front and Back 9

Name listed on Facebook

Sponsor Name:

Patrol - $1,000

1 team (4 Players)

Sponsor sign

Name listed on Facebook

Cart Sponsor - $500

Team & Sign Entry Fee - $600

Team Entry Fee - $500

Food or Beverage Sponsor $250

($250 plus food or beverage)

Individual Entry Fee - $125

Hole Sponsor (unlimited) - $100

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