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Vol. 4 Issue 5

April 15-30 2010

District 1 city councilman unites church, children, community

Photo by Sherri L.Jackson PLAY TIME — Rep. Herbert Dixon, District 26, watches the activities at the Easter Egg Hunt in Harmon Park, located on Monroe and Essie streets. Attorney Ed Larvadain III, who represents District 1 on the Alexandria City Council, hosted the event Saturday, April 3. Hundreds of children attended the event, which was coordinated by members of Comforter Baptist Church, pastored by the Rev. Bennie Edison.

The light – April 15-30, 2010

Page 2

Jackson: Changes to WOD ceremony proves successful

TEAM WORK — With the help of friends, Publisher Sherri L. Jackson pulled off the 2010 Women of Distinction’s Red Carpet Affair. More than 200 attended the affair held at the Main Street Community Center in Pineville.

STRONG WOMEN — Sitting with Publisher Sherri L. Jackson from left are Anita Rachal and Debra Johnson, mother of Attorney Ingrid Johnson, one of the 2010 Women of Distinction honorees. Rachal was one of the many hostesses who assisted Jackson with the event. More photos on Pages 4 and 5.

Gilchrist’s catfish dinner sale to benefit Arthur F. Smith Middle Magnet School Gilchrist Construction Company will sponsor its annual catfish dinner sale from noon to 2 p.m. Friday, April 23 at Broadway and Jones Street near Peabody Magnet High School. Proceeds from the sale will benefit Arthur F. Smith Middle Magnet School. This annual event supports the students, the faculty and staff, and the community, said Wanda Swafford of Arthur F. Smith Middle Magnet School. Tickets are $6 each. “We invite all of our city representatives to support us in this endeavor for our kids,” Swafford said.

2 The Peabody High School Class

of 1958 is preparing for its 52nd class reunion scheduled for July 2-4, 2010. If you are interested in attending, contact Mattie Maltie Cooper at (318) 442-8344, Emma C. Green at (318) 445-2897 or Clarence Hunter at (318) 487-0507. 2 The Warhorse Tailgate Association and Peabody Magnet High School faculty and staff to host Academic Awards Banquet, 6:30 p.m. April 30, Best Western, 2720 N. MacArthur Drive.


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Emerging and Growing Nonprofits

Creating Successful Committees Speaker: Susan Shaffette Date: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 Time: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

ADVANCED COURSES Mature Nonprofits

Fundraising Lessons Learned from the 2008 Presidential Campaign Speaker: Sharon McCall Date: Tuesday, May 18, 2010 Time: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

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The light – April 15-30, 2010

Page 3

Paul retires as Pineville police chief; Murdock named By Bill Sumrall The Light PINEVILLE — Family, friends and fellow officers honored Police Chief Jesse Terral Paul with an afternoon retirement party Tuesday, April 13. “He is one of the most honest, fairest persons there is,” said Evelyn Mitchell, a telecommunications officer with the Pineville Police Department for 15 1/2 years, who was among more than 60 people at the City Hall’s Council chamber event. “He’s been a wonderful co-worker as well as a chief. He doesn’t expect anything out of his employees that he doesn’t do himself,” Mitchell said. Friday, April 16, marked his official retirement day as Pineville’s top cop since April 2008. Paul, 53, was named interim police chief Aug. 15, 2007, before being appointed chief. During the City Council meeting, Assistant Police Chief Rusty Murdock was named as interim police chief

Interim Police Chief Russell Murdock with Chief Jesse Paul until a new chief is appointed. Before joining the police department, Paul graduated from Buckeye High School in 1974, worked for Stanley Printing Company briefly, then spent a tour of duty in the U.S. Marine

Corps until his discharge. Paul was hired as a patrolman for the Pineville Police Department in February 1981, and has moved up in every rank available since. “I’ve enjoyed it. There’s been some

field,” Coutee said in a one-on-one interview with The Light. “My goal was to work in health care, cash the check and to live the American Dream,” he said. It didn’t quite work out that way for the Sonia Quarters native. Following a stint in the U.S. Navy, while in Oakland, Calif., in 1968 Coutee learned the police department was recruiting minorities for the police force. That discovery led Coutee to the Alexandria Police Department, where he would become one of the first blacks to work on the force. “When I first joined, the few black police officers could only patrol the black communities and we had to do so on foot,” he said. “We could not use the patrol cars.” That eventually changed as the attitudes toward race changed within Coutee’s first seven years on the force. Coutee quickly moved up to supervisory ranks where he said he found acceptance from the community and his colleagues. Throughout his career at Alexandria Police Department, Coutee has worked as a patrol officer, detective, supervisor in narcotics and patrol supervisor. For several years, Coutee worked for Alexandria defense attorney as

an investigator and also worked with the Rapides Parish District Attorney’s Office, where he worked 16 years before getting his ultimate goal, to become the chief of police for his hometown. For six years, Coutee led the department through changes, he believes are for the good of the department. Coutee said his first order of business was to lift the morale of the police department, which had just lost two officers, who were killed in the line of duty while working the Wise Street shooting in 2003. The community was in an uproar as there was thick tension between the community and the police department. He also worked to keep quality officers on the force by making sure they pay for officers on the Alexandria Police force was equal to those of other agencies in the region. Voters in Alexandria passed a halfcent sales tax dedicated to raise the salaries of police officers. Coutee said he is proud to say that during his first years as police chief, arrests increased from about 4,000 arrests in 2003 to about 8,000 arrests in 2004, which is a 50 percent increase. The former police chief said his life

rough days, there’s been some great days. But it’s been a rewarding career,” Paul said. Paul recalled the technological changes since he joined law enforcement. “I’ve seen computers in the car, the mobile CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch),” Paul said, which keeps the officers on the street instead of having to come in and hand-write their reports. “They all do their reports in the car on the computers and it’s sent directly inside. They’re out on the street where they should be, taking care of business,” Paul said, noting he has also seen the advent of digital cameras in all police units too. “Since I’ve been chief, I’ve hired 14 patrol officers and two communications officers, and that brings us to within one of a full roster,” Paul added. The department has 67 officers

Pineville chief Continued on Page 4

Coutee proud of law enforcement career, ready for next phase

By Sherri L. Jackson The Light By all accounts, Darren Coutee has done what he set out to do in life. He was the chief of police for the City of Alexandria for six years, completing 40 years of the grueling work of protecting and serving the city. On Jan. 24, he retired. Now, he is working to redefine his life’s work. What else is there to do? Well, he could have worked in the health care industry and fulfill that childhood dream. “I had to dream a lot because there wasn’t much to see in the cotton

has been guided by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King in his “I Have a Dream” speech. “I was moved, filled with pride that day. I was motivated and I knew I was somebody,” he said. “Those words embedded in me and were easy for me to understand because as a child I lived in a segregated town, went to a segregated church and school.” It’s to that end that Coutee said he has worked to bridge the racial gap on the police department and in the community. “You just can’t put people in a group. You have to get to know people as individuals. You never know a person until you talk to them,” he said. “It’s an individual decision to embrace diversity. I’ve learned you don’t look at the man, you judge his actions.” Coutee said he prays his life’s book will not be filled with pages of people that “looked like me, danced like me.” “If everyone was like me where would future generations be?” Meanwhile, Coutee said though he’s retired from law enforcement, he is not ready to sit still. “I’m still trying to figure out what to do with myself,” he said.

The light – April 1-14, 2010

Page 4

Jennings: City deserves effective leadership to move city forward, make progress

FAMILY SUPPORT — Mayoral candidate Von Jennings with her parents Henry and Carol Wright. By Sherri L. Jackson The Light It’s no secret that Von Jennings is seeking to take Mayor Jacques Roy’s seat in October. And she said she plans to do so by proving that she has the necessary leadership skills to get the job done. “We need effective leadership that listens to the will of the people,” Jennings told The Light in a one-on-one

Pineville chief Continued from Page 3 now and would be fully staffed at 68 people. “We’re almost back up to full strength,” Paul said. Paul said the department uses Twitter and Face Book accounts to more readily alert the public for emergency situations, serious accidents and road blockages. In addition to mobile CADs for police cars and motorcycles, Paul said that under his tenure the department has implemented a missing child/ older or disabled adult program. “If we have someone, a child or an older person or a disabled person that is missing, we call this network and we give them the information, the description, the location,” Paul said. “They have the capability of making, like, 1,000 phone calls in one minute to alert the public,” Paul said, to go outside in the targeted area to look on their property. “We’ve never had to use it. We

interview. “The city needs leaders who will develop plans of action and follow through with input from residents. Many have the technical skills to do the job, but lacks leadership skills needed to move the city forward.” “A good leader has goals to accomplish, and the behavior is based on those goals,” she said. Though mulling over the decision whether or not to seek the city’s highhaven’t had it that long, but it is a good program,” Paul said. “They zero in on that particular area, so many miles radius, and they can call everyone that lives in that radius.” Meanwhile, Paul’s immediate plans include enjoying some time with his wife Diane and his family, which include children Jill, Jeff and Shelley, and the six grandchildren: Lanyne, Dustin, Emily, Cole, Piper and Shelbi. Mayor Clarence R. Fields read a proclamation by the City Council declaring April 16 as “Chief Jesse Terral Paul Day” in recognition of his service. “We lose a good friend and we lose a great leader and obviously I will miss him,” Mayor Fields said.

est office since November 2009, after careful consideration and several conversations with community and business organizations, Jennings officially made her intentions known Tuesday, March 30, when she opened her campaign headquarters at 1012 Third St., across from Alexandria City Hall. About 40 people attended the event to hear Jennings’ announcement. She is the first to officially announce candidacy. Jennings said she hopes to bring to her native city the type of leadership she believes is lacking in Alexandria City Hall. “We need leadership that is open to collaboration with others. I’m positive we can do a better job,” she said. “I have the ability to partner, to collaborate and the willingness to listen the move on and to develop plans of action that can be implemented.” Jennings worked as an assistant to Mayor Jacques Roy in charge of the city’s AFEAT, which stands for Alexandria Fairness, Equality, Accessibility and Teamwork, a business program which was designed to bring in help minority and emerging business do business with the city. She was terminated in January 2009. Jennings is a 1991 graduate of Peabody Magnet High School. She has bachelor’s degrees in political science and public administration from Grambling State University and a master’s

degree in public administration from Southern University. Currently, she is pursuing a doctorate in public policy. “I want everyone to appreciate that I am a candidate who will represent all of the citizens of Alexandria. I am willing to work with everyone. We have to understand that there are more issues that we have in common than those that are different,” she said.” Jennings said she sees the city’s priorities as conservative financial planning, aggressive economic development, work force development, youth development, drainage and flooding, affordable utilities and infrastructure projects that will promote economic viability. “The immediate needs are to have definite financial plans. The city is looking at a deficit. We need more revenue streams,” she said. Meanwhile, Jennings said the city in its current state needs her leadership skills, which along with experience, make her the “excellent choice” to be the city’s leader. “Much of my experience and skills are directly tied to those serving as mayor of any leader in a corporation,” she said. Jennings said as she operates a grassroots campaign she looks forward to meeting all citizens “at their door.”

Cleco is collecting fans to help the elderly this summer “Air conditioning is important during Louisiana’s hot summer months,” said Anthony Bunting, vice president of customer services and energy delivery. “But keeping cool can be critical for the elderly because getting too hot can be more than uncomfortable – it can be deadly.” Cleco employees are preparing fundraisers and working with local businesses to generate funds and fans for Cleco’s 10th annual fan drive. The fan drive continues until May 27. Donated fans will be sent to local councils on aging in Cleco’s service territory for distribution. “Using a fan can keep temperatures safe and lower energy usage,” Bunting said. The public can drop off fans to benefit the elderly at any Cleco customer service office. Senior citizens in need of fans should contact their local council on aging. Participating organizations include the Rapides Senior Center and councils on aging in Allen, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Evangeline, Grant, Natchitoches, Rapides, Sabine and Vernon parishes.

Men of Substance Nomination Form Page 11

The light – April 1-14, 2010

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Alexandria fire chief proud of city efforts By Sherri L. Jackson The Light Alexandria Fire Chief Bernard Wesley can’t get the smile from his face. In fact, the smile widens as he speaks of the city’s newly renovated fire station located on Lee and Masonic streets. “There was a lot that went into getting this station, and we did it. That’s why I feel the way I do,” Wesley said explaining his enthusiasm and joy in the new Fire Station 4. He’s also filled with pride and joy as his name is listed as fire chief on a plaque inside the station. The plaque erected when the station was dedicated in 1944 lists Ralph Neff as chief. Not much had been done to the building since then, which led to “horrible conditions,” which firefighters lived under until the renovations of the station. A ceremony marking the re-opening was held Thursday, March 18. Wesley isn’t the only one happy about the renovations at Station 4. Capt. Bobby Brimer, who has been

with the department since 1991, said the renovations brings the station from “a rat hole to a condo.” “This was a bad station. The paint flaked, the ceilings leaked. There was asbestos and lead paint we were living under, and no one complained. Now, it’s nice to come to work. I’m proud the citizens of Alexandria came through for us,” he said. The $1.5 million renovations include new furniture, new paint, an exercise room, individual bedrooms, upgraded kitchen appliances and an enclosed balcony. As much as has changed in the building, Wesley said it was important to keep some of the building’s historic features such as the stair railings and other woodwork. The re-opening of Fire Station 4 is somewhat a crown jewel in Wesley’s three-year tenure as fire chief of the Alexandria Fire Department. Mayor Jacques Roy officially appointed Wesley in December 2007. Before the appointment, Wesley was named interim chief replacing Paul Smith, who took a job with the Louisiana Fire Marshal’s Office.

PROUD CHIEF — Alexandria Fire Chief Bernard Wesley looks over the plaque housed at the newly renovated Station 4, located at Lee and Masonic streets. The plaque lists his name, which is the first since 1944. Two weeks after becoming fire “I work to make sure the things we chief, Wesley told The Light he had do are geared toward the citizens first, thoughts of retiring “and doing somethe department next and individuals thing else” after 25 years with the are far down the list,” he said. Alexandria Fire Department. Since becoming chief, Wesley Almost three years later, Wesley said said he has worked to upgrade or the job as fire chief has good days and eliminate any outdated procedures or bad days. He survives by “sticking to Fire Chief what I believe, what is right, what is Continued on Page 11 legal and what is policy.”

The light – April 15-30, 2010

Page 6

District 1 Easter Egg Hunt brings out children, church and community

Alexandria City District 1 Councilman Edward Larvadain III and Comforter Baptist Church held a community Ester Egg Hunt Saturday, April 3, at Harmon Park, located on Monroe and Essie streets. Hundreds of children participated in the day’s events that included games, music and prizes. “This is a great event that gives the

children something to do,” Larvadain said. “We’ve got to do something to keep them. “This is my second year having the Easter Egg hunt, but this time I’ve joined with Comforter Baptist Church. They’ve been wonderful in bringing this together,” he said.

More photos of this event at Your Photos

All Photos by Sherri L. Jackson

The light – April 15-30, 2010

Page 7

Kappas honor top 25 students in annual awards ceremony

TOP SCHOLARS — Shown in the photo at left are Lenard Jackson of the Alexandria Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi presenting a $1,000 scholarship check to Travis Davidson of Peabody Magnet High School. Davidson was awarded the scholarship during the fraternity’s annual Top 25 Scholar’s Banquet held Thursday, April 15. Shown at right is Antonio Roberts, a senior at Peabody Magnet High School. He was honored for his accomplishment of obtaining a 4.1 grade point average. Photos by Wendell Lewis and Sally Coleman.

Photo Submitted MEN OF SERVICE — Shown are the brothers of the Alexandria Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, which recently held its annual Top 25 Scholars Banquet. The 2010 scholars are: Brittany Bowie, Alicia Burns, Jedanndrila Bushnell, Charissa Marie Carroll, Travis Davidson, Jazmen Gladney, Erica Green, Shakaydra Green, Teierica Griners, Lloyd Humphrey, Stephanie Humphrey, Jordan Dupree Johnson, Alaric Jones, Jessica Merrill, Antonio Roberts, Curtis Robins, Porcha Desay Smith, Raeshelle Stewart, Natalie Swafford, Jalisa Denis Tademy, Ashley Trowel, Kasia Lynn Washington, Brittany Wells, and Chrishonda Whitlock.

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The light – April 15-30, 2010

Faces of the Women of Distinction Red Carpet Affair

All Photos by Al Cotton More photos at

The light – April 15-30, 2010

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Page 10

The light – April 15-30, 2010

Celebration Time: Parade set for April 24

Photos by Garry Brown CELEBRATION TIME — In celebration of the Peabody Magnet High School Warhorses sixth state championship, a parade is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, April 24. To particpate, call the school at (318) 448-3457. The Warhorses are the Class 4A Champions in boys basketball. The team, which reached the 41-0 mark in the Cajundome, beat Bossier 61-58 on Saturday, March 13. Senior Markel Brown helped the team to victory with 25 points. However, it was sophomore Dequairous Wagner’s two free throw shots in the final 17.5 seconds of the game that sealed the deal for the Warhorses, which had not been to the Cajundome since 2007. Brown was named the Most Valuable Player of the championship game.

The light – April 15-30, 2010

Suddenlink upgrading to all-digital TV some TV sets may require digital adapters Suddenlink recently announced that it is continuing to upgrade technology in Alexandria as part of a larger, threeyear, companywide program that calls for approximately $350 million of capital investments above and beyond traditional capital spending levels, according to company news release. As a result of this program, recent Suddenlink improvements include adding more high-definition (HD) channels; increasing the speeds of existing Internet services; introducing a new Internet service with a download speed of up to 20 megabits per second; and launching a video on demand (VOD) service with a library of thousands of hours of movies, events, and other programming, more than a third of which is free. The next phase of the local work will facilitate a new, all-digital TV lineup. Digital TV features sharper pictures and better sound quality. The transition to this new lineup will be completed in different neighborhoods at different times through the remainder of 2010 and into 2011. Suddenlink will notify local customers multiple times before their neighborhood is converted to the new

digital lineup. The company also will provide instructions to help customers determine if they require digital adapters , also known as “DigitaLinks,” which enable digital channel viewing. Customers who subscribe only to Suddenlink “Limited Basic” TV, channels 2-13 and 71, will not need a DigitaLink device. Customers who subscribe to more than Limited Basic channels will generally require these devices, if their TV sets: • Are not connected to a Suddenlink digital cable box, also known as a set-top box or receiver • Do not have a Suddenlink CableCARD installed • Are not connected to a digital cable-ready device – such as a TiVo box – with a Suddenlink CableCARD installed. Customers who determine they need DigitaLinks can obtain them in one of several ways: by visiting imagine. and entering a zip code and account number; by calling toll-free 877-872-9132; or by visiting the office at 3250 Donahue Ferry Road in Pineville.

Fire Chief Continued from Page 5 structures. “When faced with a challenge, I always ask, ‘why are we doing it this way?’ If there is no answer, I research it. If it’s outdated, then it is changed,” the fire chief said. It’s important, Wesley said, that the department’s 128 employees understand what’s being done and why In addition to the newly renovated Fire Station 4, Wesley said having the department maintain its Class 2 fire rating was a plus for the department and the citizens of Alexandria. The fire rating is used to help determine insurance premiums. A national agency evaluates the department in several areas including municipal water supply, emergency communications, manpower, and station locations. The rating system is 1-10. Number 2 is the second highest rating for a department. “I’m on Cloud 9 because we worked

Page 11 hard to maintain the 2 rating,” Wesley said. To receive a 1, Wesley said, would require the department to employ more firefighters and to expand the coverage area as the city has expanded. Plans are in the making to move fire stations, which includes brining stations to Culpepper Road, Jones Street, La Highway 28 West and North Bolton Avenue. According to published reports, Station 1, located downtown, will move to Culpepper Road, at the intersection of North Drive; Station 2 on Broadway Avenue, will move to Jones Street next to the Bethel AME Church; Station 5, which is on Texas Avenue, will move to La. Highway 28 West Station 6 on Twin Bridges Road will be renovated, Wesley said.

Everything you need to know about the people, places and things of Cenla

Nominee’s name __________________________________________________________________________ Nominee’s address ________________________________________________________________________ Nominee’s telephone _______________________________________________________________________ Qualifications_____________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________ Your name and telephone number___________________________________________________________

For the fourth year, The Light, is looking for 10 worthy men to name a "Man of Substance" Their profiles will be published in the June 15 issue of The Light and at We're seeking nominations for 10 special men from throughtout Central Louisiana for the series of profiles. We're asking that you think long and hard about the man you think is deserving of this special honor. If you know of a man who is unselfish in his time, talent and treasure, please complete the form by providing the nominee's name, address, telephone number and description of her qualifications. Forms may be submitted online or by mailing to The Light, 1429 Third St., Alexandria, LA 71301, or e-mailed to The submission deadline is May 1, 2010. Honorees will be announced May 5, 2010 For more information, call Sherri L. Jackson at (318) 487-9254 or 308-2334. If you need additional space, please attach a separate sheet of paper to this form.

A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

BUFFALO SOLDIERS — Coach Janice Joseph Richard of the Louisiana College Lady Wildcats is surrounded by members of the Buffalo Soldiers Alexandria Chapter. The organization honored Richard for her success in leading the team to its first American Southwest Conference Tournament title. PREACHER MAN — Pastor Rance Allen, a preacher and gospel music artist, preaches at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Tuesday, March 16. Allen is known for such songs as “Miracle Worker” and “Something About That Name.”

ROYALTY — Shown are Willie and Vivian Davis, king and queen of annual Mardi Gras ball held at St. Juliana Catholic Church on March 30.

CONGRATULATIONS — Stacey Douglas, representing Rep. Herbert Dixon, presents a commendation to Coach Charles Smith in honor of the Peabody Magnet High School Warhorses’ sixth state championship. Smith, along with assistant coaches and team members attended St. Matthew Baptist Church, Sunday, March 28. Also shown from left are Pastor Joe Green, Peabody Principal Lee Dotson and Charles Anderson Jr. of St. Matthew.

2REMEMBERING — Shown are members of Mizpah Chapter #108 Order of Eastern Star, Prince Hall Affiliations, Louisiana Jurisdiction following Palm Sunday services, March 28. The group attended services at New Scott Olly Baptist Church.

The Light, April 15, 2010  

The April 15 issue of The Light newspaper published in Alexandria, LA.

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