Thrive June 2024

Page 1 JUNE 2024

2 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024
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In This Issue

Wining & Dining


& Faces

4 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024 Thrive is designed for people focused on living a happy, healthy life, one that is balanced, full of energy and contentment. Thrive readers want to make the most of every day and to be successful in all areas of their lives – family, health, home and career. Submitted articles and photos are welcome. Thrive assumes no responsibility for unsolicited materials and does not guarantee any submissions. Managing Editor Angie Kay Dilmore Assistant Editor Kerri Cooke Editors and Publishers Kristy Como Armand Christine Fisher Creative Director Barbara VanGossen Design & Layout Kyra Labrie Business Manager Katie McDaniel Stevenson Advertising Sales 337.310.2099 Submissions @thriveswla |
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6 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024 Wining & Dining Rouge et Blanc 2024 October 12 On the McNeese State University Campus Tickets on Sale on our website, Sponsorship opportunities available For assistance, call 337-475-5997 TICKETS ON SALE NOW! All proceeds support Banners at McNeese State University SWLA’s Premier Food and Wine Event

Our June Wining and Dining section celebrates this legendary foodie culture by featuring top-notch chefs who create the tantalizing recipes that keep their patrons coming back for more. Read on for a glimpse into the kitchens of some of the best dining establishments in the Lake Area!

As Lighthouse Bend is securing its place as a perfect spot along the Gulf in Cameron, LA for a

steaks and new takes on Louisiana favorites, like shrimp & grits and boudin eggrolls! 7
or visits our corner of the state knows, Southwest Louisiana has a 190 Davis Road, Cameron, LA | 337-775-5055 | Try Lighthouse Bend RV Park for FREE! Make your reservation online: Provide this coupon (or photo of) at check-in, and your first night is free! One per customer • Coupon expires July 31, 2024 RV PARK RESTAURANT AND BAR
delightful brunch,
delicious dinner,
serving up
lunch or
Executive Chef, Patrick Tynan, is
Executive Chef, Patrick Tynan

Lighthouse Bend in downtown Cameron has been the talk of SWLA for months. The restaurant, market and marina, built and staffed by Venture Global, is a tourist attraction for a community still recovering from hurricanes past.

Patrick Tynan, executive chef and general manager at Lighthouse Bend, says, “I got the job at Lighthouse Bend when a former employer called me and asked if I would be interested in helping him with a new concept in Louisiana for a weekend. Once I got here, I knew I wouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon. I love that Lighthouse Bend is much more than just another place to enjoy a meal. We want to turn Cameron

Top Chef Patrick Tynan lighthouse bend

back into the destination it once was. We are also able to provide a service to a community that has been affected by recent hurricanes.”

Originally from Humble, Texas, Tynan says moving to Louisiana was an adjustment but “learning the cuisine wasn’t too challenging because my grandmother was as Cajun as they come.” Tynan credits his mentor, Chef Matt Baum, with helping him gain the vital experience he needed to thrive. “He worked with me a lot on my management style, costing menus, recipe development and plating.”

Tynan has gained experience by working his way through the hierarchy of the restaurant business. His experience ranges from a stint at KFC to executive sous chef at the Houston Country Club—Walden on Lake Houston. “Early in my career my boss told me to soak up as much as I could,” Tynan says. This hunger for honing his craft has led to his promotion within the food industry.

close-knit extended family, so I always associated those good times with family, with good food.” When Tynan was in high school, he began building experience in the restaurant industry.

“I took a job as a dishwasher at a local deli when I was 16, mainly to pay for gas or to take a girl to the movies. One day a fry cook didn’t show up, so they told me to come help on the line.”

Tynan compares working at a restaurant to coaching a football team. When he started getting his feet Wet in the kitchen he explains, “weekdays were slow, so we spent time prepping for the weekend. Then Friday at 5:00 p.m., when you’re getting your mise en place together, it was pre-game. At 7:00 p.m., when the dinner tickets started pouring in, it was game time. It might hurt a little bit, and it’ll be difficult, but the sense of

accomplishment at the end of the night was unmatched by anything I had ever experienced. When I finally worked my way up to a leadership role as a sous chef, being able to see my team operate like a well-oiled machine and execute the plan I had for them made me feel like a coach whose team just won the championship.”

When asked about his favorite dish, Tynan says, “I’m a Texas boy, so my favorite dish will always be some form of steak and potatoes. A good ribeye with my steak butter can pretty much be served over any starch or veggie and be a hit.” Lighthouse Bend has a steak night every Thursday from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. There is a choice of either a 6 oz. filet or 12 oz. strip steak with a soup or salad and Cajun red potatoes and French green beans. Tynan says his Lighthouse Bread Pudding, which is deep fried and served with bourbon caramel and vanilla ice cream, is a hit with patrons, as well. His signature dish is a smoked peach and bourbonglazed pork chop served over saffron rice and broccolini. (photo below)

Tynan’s love for food began in his childhood. “When I was growing up, food was the centerpiece for every special occasion. We had a

Wining & Dining |

There’s a patience and purpose to Chef Colin Nunez’s movements as he preps for Saturday night’s dinner service at the Villa Harlequin. The head chef since October 2022, Nunez’s path through the culinary world has been anything but ordinary.

“I started at Sam’s Club meat department just to get some kind of experience under my belt,” Nunez says. From there, he went on to take a few culinary courses, but found that the classroom setting wasn’t for him.

Unsure of his next step, a phone call from a friend about an opening at Restaurant Calla illuminated Nunez’s path. “My first chef job, and I was at Calla under David Sorrells,

Top Chef Colin Nunez Villa h arlequin

and boy what a start that was. Sorrells worked under Thomas Keller at The French Laundry in California and ran his kitchen as such. So I was thrust into fine dining right out the gate.”

Nunez thrived in this environment, learning on the job under Chef Sorrells. He rose to the level of sous chef, but then COVID-19 struck, and Calla, like many in the restaurant industry, shut down in August of 2020.

From there, Nunez moved over to 1910 before landing a spot as the sous chef at the Villa Harlequin. At the end of 2022, he was named head chef. “I couldn't ask for better restaurant owners than the Sperandeos, and there's a real camaraderie among us on the line. The hours and grind of it can be challenging, but the people I work with are my favorite thing about the job and make it all worth it.”

Since assuming leadership, Nunez has made changes big and small, both in the way the kitchen is run and the execution of the dishes. “I overhauled most of the menu at lunch and dinner, and it's nice to have something to put my name on like that.”

As head chef, Nunez has opportunities to attend some of the bigger restaurantrelated events rather than being confined to the kitchen.

He attended the 2022 Louisiana Seafood Cookoff with Villa Harlequin and was part of the winning team! “It was a big moment to hand a seafood dish to John Folse in New Orleans for him to judge,” Nunez say. He also attended his first Rouge et Blanc last year where he debuted his Crawfish and Crab Cakes with fried green tomatoes and nduja cream sauce. “It really stuck, so we're about to feature it on the menu,” he says. Nunez says his philosophy on menu creation is to give the people what they want. “I don’t much pay attention to food trends. I just try to make what I think is good and hope

the folks like it.”

At the end of the day, Nunez comes home and makes himself a simple sandwich. Or if has the energy, “I love to make some fried rice and General Tso's and put on a kung fu movie.” But his favorite thing is spending time with his daughter, which “there’s never enough of, so I just do the most I can to make the time I have with her as meaningful as possible.” As a father, Nunez is teaching his daughter an important lesson. “No path is the same, but if you work hard, follow your dreams, and treat people right, doors can open.”




DINNER: TUES–THURS 5-9:30 PM & FRI–SAT 5-10 PM 9 Join us & #getdowntownlc 324 Pujo Street, Lake Charles | (337) 436-6251

Chef Eric Johnson has always noticed the joy food brings to life. Whether preparing, serving, or eating it, food brings people together. He took introductory culinary classes at East Junior High School in Opelousas, and at the age of 16 started his first restaurant gig at Ryan’s Family Steak House. Each small step prepared him for the executive chef positions with both The Villages of Imperial Pointe and the Golden Nugget Casino Resort.

While Johnson may have similar titles at each establishment, each day is different. “At The Villages of Imperial Pointe, it’s like cooking for family every day. At the Golden

Top Chef Chef Eric Johnson the V illages of imperial pointe

Nugget, each day is new, and the food and beverage team is a large operation, but it runs like a well-oiled machine,” he says. “No matter what, the standard is excellence. Whether we are following a proven history of providing the best cuisine in entertainment, or serving picture perfect meals for residents, I challenge myself and my team every day to do better than we did yesterday.”

Johnson says beyond his professional cooking he enjoys seeing new restaurant trends throughout SWLA. He says a current trend is traditional breakfast items, like savory French toast, being reimagined as gourmet dinner dishes.

Johnson has won several awards, including taking home a top prize at the Jambalaya Cook-off, BBQ Extravaganza, Dessert King, Lamb Chow-Down Show-Down and most recently, the Salvation Army Empty Bowl Fundraiser. Johnson and his team won Best Soup for their Lobster Bisque. “It’s very special

to participate in the Empty Bowl Fundraiser each year,” he says. “I enjoy giving back to the community in this way and this year was extra fulfilling as we were able to give each of our residents a handmade bowl and serve them our award-winning bisque!”

Even with his many accolades, Johnson says it is only because of his talented team that he has reached such achievements. “Foremost, I give all glory to God for allowing me to have this journey. I am incredibly thankful for all of

my family, friends, chefs, cooks, bartenders, servers and everyone past and present who has helped make my dream of creating edible masterpieces for others a reality.”

Wining & Dining | 11 •Yoga Studio • Fitness Center •Grille House Cabana •Club Room •Salon and Spa • Movie Theater • Business Center • Event Center •Courtyard & Garden •Meeting & Game Rooms • Garages • Pet-friendly •Outdoor Games •Storage Room options 55+ Active adult Resort style living Trade the Ordinary for Extraordinar y! The Villages of Imperial Pointe is the newest and best Independent Living community in the Lake Charles area. With spacious apartments, countless first-class amenities, and unmatched service, The Villages of Imperial Pointe raises the bar on what you can expect for an active life in your 50s and beyond. Call today to schedule your personal tour. 337- 409- 8338 1717 Imperial Boulevard Lake Charles, Louisiana 70605

In high school, Chef Dave Phillips was a selfprofessed computer nerd. He studied computer science in college, and to supplement his income, he waited tables and worked his way up to bartender. As graduation neared, he secondguessed his career choice and opted instead to focus on the restaurant industry. And the first thing Phillips’ manager did was insist he learn how to cook. “I didn’t want to cook,” says Phillips. “I just wanted to run the restaurant. But my manager told me, ‘Dave, you’re a good waiter. Customers like you. But at the end of the day, they’re hungry, and if the food’s not good, they won’t come back.’”

So Phillips learned his way around the kitchen and discovered the work suited him. “I fell in love with the speed and the atmosphere of the kitchen,” he says. “I love playing with knives and fire. But then the manager

Top Chef David Phillips restaurant calla

said I needed a hospitality degree.”

Always seeking his own path, Philipps instead attended a Cordin Bleu culinary school in Austin. “I learned that all the important decisions are made in the kitchen and if the chef’s not on board, the restaurant is at a standstill.” In 2002, he moved to Galveston and started cooking professionally. He cut his teeth at Tilman Fertitta’s hotels, and then landed his first sous chef position at Hotel Galvez. Later, he served as the executive sous chef at The Yacht Club, a private members-only dining place. “That’s where I really dove into the higher, finer side of dining,” says Phillips. “The chef there told me to slow it down, develop your flavors. People are here for an experience.”

In 2008, Phillips and his family moved to Lake Charles and he was hired by Cypress Grill at Gray Plantation. Three years later, he connected with Ben Herrera and began work at DeAngelo’s (now 121 Artisan Bistro). Six months in, and he was serving as head chef and restaurant manager. “Ben was one of the first people I’ve met who understands that a chef can actually run a restaurant.”

Phillips has been head chef and restaurant manager at Calla since 2020. “I’ve been very blessed that Ben has allowed me to run two of his restaurants and I operate them as if they were my own.” Already wildly successful under Calla’s original chef, David Sorrells, Phillips nonetheless made some changes when he took the helm. “We gave it more of a singular identity by reining in the menu to something more focused and rolled forward with upscale New Orleans-style cuisine. “I’m blessed to have a foodthought forward crew. We use daily specials to express ourselves. And

we ensure everyone feels welcome, portion sizes meet price points, and the consistency of service and product are top-notch.”

An award-winning chef, Phillips humbly says he’s not in the business for the kudos. “I just love to cook. I want you to come in and not think about me. I want you to take a bite and be transported to a food memory. Some of my strongest memories are of family dinners in central Texas with 30-40 people. The senses of eating –the smells, the tastes, the sights – are such memory-provokers.”

Phillips says his signature dish is the smoked duck. He uses a cold smoking technique that results in a more aromatic dish. “The beauty of the dish

is that it is deconstructed and you need to get a little bit of everything in one bite for a wonderful flavor explosion.”

Personal favorite food? “A chef’s favorite food is anything they don’t have to cook,” he jokes. “But seriously, I like it all. I enjoy trying different cuisines and flavors. I was on an Indian kick for a while. I’m still on a spice kick. But yeah, just bring me food.”

Currently trending in SWLA? “Cheesecakes, cookies, and oysters from the new Alternative Oyster Culture Park in Cameron.”

Chef Dave is married with two children and yes, he and his wife share cooking duties. “I love cooking! It’s my love language.”

12 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024
Wining & Dining |

Chef Zachary Aymond began his culinary journey as a child while cooking with his mother. In college, he had planned to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a high school teacher and coach. But when his stepdad died, Aymond had a career-changing moment and decided instead to pursue his passion for cooking. He got a job at Pujo Street Café as their fry cook in 2014 and worked his way up in the kitchen, becoming head chef in 2019.

Pujo Street Café has been a dining institution in Lake Charles for 30 years. And as chefs do, Aymond has put his own spin on long-standing traditions. Most notably, he and his staff began baking bread from scratch inhouse. “During the pandemic in 2020, we started making our own burger buns,” he says. “We also make po-boy buns and brioche for French toast.”

Aymond says his signature dish is the blackened Ribeye Avery. “It’s not on the menu, but it’s so popular, we often offer it as a special. I also love our Hot Honey Chicken Sandwich – the chicken

Top Chef Zachary Aymond p ujo s treet c afé

is marinated in buttermilk, fried, drizzled with a hot honey sauce, served on our homemade cheddar and jalapeno bun, and served with house-made pickles.” Aymond is also proud of their Cajun Sticky Ribs. It too is not on the menu, but the regulars know! “They’re fall-off-thebone tender pork ribs seasoned with Cajun spices and tossed in a house-made pepper jelly barbecue sauce.” Also beloved is his Chicken and Sausage Gumbo.

“It’s a very dark roux gumbo that’s rich and robust in flavor and made with local Rabideaux’s sausage.”

When asked his personal favorite food, Aymond says, “I love all food and can’t choose a favorite.”

Aymond says he wouldn’t be the chef he is today without his team in the kitchen. Interestingly, speaking of his team, Aymond met his wife, Carol, at Pujo Street Café. “She started working in the kitchen there six months after I was hired. We became roommates, then best friends, and that

blossomed into a relationship.” A decade later, and Chef Zachary and Carol still work side-by side at Pujo Street. They married in 2022. Aymond also credits his father,

a legendary nowretired Texas high school football coach, with instilling in him a strong work ethic.

On SWLA trends, Aymond says they are always changing, but they’re always looking for fresh, local ingredients. Recently, he has collaborated with micro-greens producer Third Day Farms in Ragley, La. and added their arugula to a beef filet.

Aymond is passionate about feeding people. I love to hear the feedback from satisfied patrons and see the joy my food brings them. There’s nothing greater than providing sustenance to people . . . it’s life.” 13

Ember Kicks Off Summer with Hot New Menu

The new summer menu additions at Ember Grille & Wine Bar of L’Auberge Lake Charles are flaming hot – literally! The restaurant lives up to the title of Louisiana’s best modern American steakhouse with the introduction of the tableside Flaming Tomahawk. Both a visual and culinary sensory experience, the 38-ounce Wagyu steak dinner is served with a choice of seasoning salts and sauces and three incredible side dishes. This is easily a meal for two or more to be leisurely enjoyed while sipping a hand-crafted cocktail or a wine selection from Ember’s extensive collection.

“We take pride in pushing the envelope to create an always unique dining experience,” says Chef Brock Granger. “We’ve spent months developing and testing our new menu items and can’t wait for our customers to enjoy them.”

A few other highlights from Ember’s summer menu additions include:

Wagyu Meatballs served with Sugo, Mozzarella Cheese, Basil Pesto

Pork Belly "Burnt Ends", served with Diablo Sauce, Savoy Cabbage, White BBQ Sauce

Chilean Sea Bass, served with Bok Choy, Oyster Mushrooms, Calamansi Beurre Blanc

Brace yourself for the difficulty of choosing side dishes, served family style for the table. There’s something to please everyone, including five mac n’ cheese options: lobster & chive, black truffle, homestyle, fully loaded, tasso & crawfish, and bacon & jalepeno.

For more information, visit

14 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024
Pork Belly "Burnt Ends" Flaming Tomahawk Flaming Tomahawk Bone Marrow
? Wining & Dining
Wagyu Meatballs

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 15 Chef Brock Granger
Bacon Wrapped Shrimp on Cheddar Grits Duck Crêpes with Ponzu
2024 Keynote Speaker Judge Lynn Toler Featuring Motivational, Empowering and Fun Workshops Save the Date!
8:00am - 4:00pm

Mind & Body Men’s HEALTH

Men are no more likely than women to experience health issues, but guys do seem to be less likely to recognize when there is a health problem, and more likely to ignore an issue or avoid getting the problem checked out. Could this be a contributing factor as to why men consistently have shorter life expectancies than women? A 2023 study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health says the life expectancy gap between the sexes has been widening since 2010 and is now at six years. Researchers with the Harvard study cite reluctance to seek medical care as one potential contributing cause.

This special section encourages men to be more aware of their physical health and to be open to managing their wellness, not only when there is a concern, but routinely to help prevent illnesses or diagnose them earlier. We’ve included articles on topics men care about, such as sleep, mental health, low-T, and the importance of health screenings. So, you know what to do –make that appointment!

WE ARE YOUR PEOPLE. Ask for help today.
Murdock, MD Behavioral Health Zachary Ryder, MD Behavioral Health Mario Valencia, MD Behavioral Health This is the TIME. This is the PLACE. 337.480.7800
Michael Wright, MD Behavioral Health



Don’t Put off MENtioning It

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), only about 50% of men in the United States say they consider getting an annual check-up.

For various reasons, men tend to be less likely to seek medical care and wellness exams. By following this trend, the threat of poorer health outcomes and risk of chronic diseases increases. To change the culture of silence around men’s health, medical experts at Lake Charles Memorial Health System suggest men take a stand and take back control of their health to ensure symptoms of conditions are managed before they become a significant health problem.

“Think of a wellness exam like a regularly scheduled ‘maintenance’ or ‘tune up’ appointment for your vehicle,” says Dr. Joshua Whatley, a family medicine physician with Lake Charles Memorial Health System. ‘You prioritize an oil change or a tire rotation on a regular basis to ensure your vehicle is in top condition to carry you through life’s activities. How much more important is your body?”

As men age, the more important it becomes to attend a regular physical to detect health issues. Not all issues in your body are obvious. A broken bone or joint pain is hard to ignore, but it may be tougher to spot something like high cholesterol or high blood sugar levels. If an area of concern is unveiled in a wellness checkup, this provides an opportunity to treat it and prevent further damage down the line.

Each physical exam typically includes the same basic tests and gives a physician a snapshot of the overall health of the patient. You can expect your clinician to check:

• Blood pressure

• Heart rate

• Body temperature

• Breathing and heart sounds

• Eyes

• Ears

• Height and weight

Additionally, appropriate screenings and blood tests can be ordered at an annual wellness checkup. The recommendations for various screenings for men change throughout their life and depending on family history. This is why it’s important to see your physician regularly to stay on top of these recommendations.

18 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024 Mind & Body |

General recommendations include beginning screenings at the following ages:

• Physical exam: 18+ years of age

• Blood pressure screening: 18+ years of age

• Cholesterol test: 30+ years of age

• Diabetes screening: 40+ years of age

• Lung screening: 50+ years of age, depending on individual risk factors

• Prostate exam: 50+ years of age

• Colorectal screening (colonoscopy): 45+ years of age

• Bone density test: 50+ years of age

• Abdominal aortic aneurysm: 60+ years of age

“Whether it’s a busy schedule or a fear of the unknown keeping you from better health, taking your health into your own hands is not just about lengthening your life, it’s also about improving your quality of life,” says Dr. Whatley. By following recommended guidelines based on age and family history, you can proactively manage your health and prevent future complications. The return on your investment of time and your well-being pays off in improved quality of life and better health outcomes.

To find a primary care provider, or to browse a list of all physician specialists with Lake Charles Memorial Health System, visit lcmh. com/doctors.

put your heart in experienced hands

Dr. Parker LaVigne, Cardiologist

Dr. LaVigne offers comprehensive cardiovascular care, from early detection and disease management to a wide range of advanced procedures.

Originally from Shreveport, Louisiana, Dr. LaVigne earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from the University of Mississippi in Oxford, and his Medical Degree from Louisiana State University Health in Shreveport. He completed an Internal Medicine Residency at LSU Health in Shreveport and a Fellowship in Cardiology at HonorHealth Heart Group in Scottsdale, Arizona. He is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology.

Dr. Lavigne practices with Drs. Turner, Mulhearn, LeBeau, Foster, Goodwin and Sugathan in the Cardiology Department of Imperial Health.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. LaVigne, call (337) 312-8281. Accepts all major insurances and Medicare. 19 501 Dr. Michael DeBakey Dr., 3rd Floor | Lake Charles | (337) 312-8281 Accepting New Patients!

Prioritizing Sleep: Unlocking Men's Health and Vitality

In a world where the pursuit of productivity often overshadows the necessity of rest, it's time to wake up to the profound importance of sleep, especially for men. Sleep is not merely downtime; it's a vital process that rejuvenates both body and mind, crucial for maintaining overall health and wellbeing. However, despite demanding schedules and societal pressures, achieving quality sleep can seem insurmountable for many men. As we delve into the realm of men's health, it's imperative to shed light on sleep disorders, a

prevalent yet often underestimated issue with significant implications for physical and mental health. From obstructive sleep apnea to insomnia, these disorders can wreak havoc on one's life if left untreated.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is one of the most common sleep disorders affecting men. Characterized by recurrent breathing pauses during sleep due to obstructed airways, OSA not only disrupts sleep patterns but also escalates the risk of severe health issues such as hypertension, heart disease, and stroke. Sleep clinics, such as the Sleep Disorder Center of Louisiana in Lake Charles, offer specialized diagnostics and tailored treatment options to mitigate its detrimental effects on men's health. Similarly, insomnia, marked by difficulty falling or staying asleep despite the opportunity to do so, presents a significant challenge to men's well-being. Often overlooked or dismissed, untreated insomnia can lead to a myriad of consequences, including

20 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024 Mind & Body | Men’s HEALTH Men’s HEALTH

By fostering a culture of openness and destigmatizing discussions surrounding sleep disorders, sleep specialists strive to encourage men to prioritize their sleep health.

“We understand that lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, and stress management are crucial in shaping sleep quality,” says Dr. Phillip Conner with the Sleep Disorder Center of Louisiana. “We empower men to adopt healthier habits that support optimal sleep and enhance their overall quality of life. In particular, we address the unique challenges of shift work disorder, recognizing its profound impact on men's health and family life. Irregular work hours disrupt sleep patterns, leaving men feeling fatigued and unable to relax during their time off. We aim to restore healthy sleep patterns and improve men's overall health and vitality through specialized diagnostics and personalized treatment plans.”

By addressing sleep disorders and promoting restorative sleep, sleep specialists help empower men to reclaim control over their well-being and live life to the fullest. “Sleep is not a luxury but a necessity, particularly for men navigating the complexities of modern life,” Dr. Conner adds. “By prioritizing sleep and addressing sleep disorders, we pave the way for a brighter, healthier future where men can thrive with energy, resilience, and vitality. Let us collectively recognize the significance of sleep and unlock the key to optimal health and wellbeing."

For more information or to make an appointment, call The Sleep Disorder Center of Louisiana at 337-310-7378. Located at 4820 Lake Street, Lake Charles.

Phillip Conner, MD Medical Director, Board Certified Sleep Specialist Awaken to Better Sleep! Visit us in Lafayette or Lake Charles for Top-Notch Sleep Care. Diagnosing and treating more than 80 sleep disorders, including common conditions like sleep apnea, shift work disorder, insomnia, narcolepsy, sleepwalking, parasomnias, and restless legs syndrome. Conducting overnight sleep studies and offering home sleep apnea tests for your convenience. Patients with Medicare, Medicaid, and most Major Insurances are welcome. 337-419-0904 2800 West Pinhook Road, Suite 9 Lafayette, Louisiana, 70508 Darby Valentine APRN, AG-ACNP-BC @sdcofla 4820 Lake Street, Lake Charles, Louisiana, 70605 337-310-7378 Are you working, or between jobs, and without health insurance? Call to see if we can help! Call to see if we can help! 337-478-8650 550 Sale Road, Lake Charles, LA WWW.CALCASIEUCOMMUNITYCLINIC.COM Are you working, or between jobs, and without health insurance?
of accidents.
impaired cognitive function, mood
and heightened risk

Closing the Depression Gender Gap

Half as many men report being depressed as women (about 1 in 16 men versus 1 in 8 women), according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness. But that discrepancy may be because many men see the condition as a sign of emotional weakness, which makes them l ess likely to tell anyone, seek help, or be diagnosed and treated.

Dr. Effat Rasul, Internal Medicine Specialist

As an Internal Medicine Physician, Dr. Effat Rasul specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases that affect adults. She is board certified in Internal Medicine and a Fellow of the American College of Physicians.

Dr. Rasul received her Medical Degree at Allama Iqbal Medical College in Lahore, Pakistan, and completed her Internal Medicine training at CrozerChester Medical Center in Upland, Pennsylvania. She brings 10 years of experience in her field to Imperial Health.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Rasul, call 337-433-1212. Accepts all major insurances and Medicare.

22 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024 Mind & Body | 771 Bayou Pines East | Lake Charles | (337) 433-1212
specialized care for adults Accepting New Patients! Men’s HEALTH Men’s HEALTH

Depression is a pervasive mental health issue that affects individuals across all demographics. However, according to licensed therapist Keri Forbess-McCorquodale, MS, CEAP, LPC-S, LMFT, president of Solutions Counseling and EAP, when it comes to men, the symptoms often manifest differently and are less frequently recognized or treated.

“Male depression goes unrecognized because, unlike the female version, it often doesn’t come with the expected symptoms, at least in the early stages, when it’s easiest to intervene,” she explains.

“Unlike women, most men don’t come in talking about feeling sad or depressed. If they come in at all at this stage, they complain about problems at work or their performance on the job.

And instead of being weepy, Forbess-McCorquodale says men are more likely to be irritable, angry or aggressive — moods that aren’t included in the classic diagnostic tests. “Their sadness and helplessness are often hidden behind a mask of anger, and unfortunately, neither doctors nor men themselves recognize that as a red flag in most cases.”

She adds that traditional masculine norms discourage men from showing vulnerability.

“They may feel compelled to hide their struggles behind a facade of strength, withdrawing from family and friends, becoming obsessed with work or hobbies, and most significantly, turning to drinking or drugs to deal with their pain.”

The perceived stigma can become a significant barrier, preventing many men from accessing the care they need.

Forbess-McCorquodale offers advice to help men manage depression more effectively:

Seek professional help. Therapy is crucial and provides a structured way to address negative thought patterns and develop healthier coping mechanisms. Medication can also be beneficial in managing symptoms.

Build a support network. Isolation can worsen depression. Men should try to connect with friends, family, or support groups. Sharing their experiences with others who understand can provide immense relief.

Establish healthy lifestyle choices. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and sufficient sleep are fundamental for both preventing and managing depression. Physical activity has a profound impact on mental health by releasing endorphins and improving mood. Practices like mindfulness, meditation, and yoga can help men manage stress and maintain emotional balance.

Engage in hobbies. Finding joy in hobbies and interests can provide a sense of purpose and accomplishment. It’s important for men to engage in activities that make them feel fulfilled.

"Depression is a serious condition, but it is treatable,” says Forbess-McCorquodale. “The first step is recognizing the signs and understanding that seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but of strength."

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The hormone changes that come with age are typically associated with women and menopause, but men also experience hormonal shifts in mid-life that may lead to similar symptoms.

Testosterone levels gradually decline throughout adulthood — about 1 percent a year after age 30 on average, according to research by the Mayo Clinic. By about age 70, the decrease in a man's testosterone level can be as much as 50 percent. “This decline is often so gradual that the symptoms, which commonly begin after age 40, can go unnoticed for several years,” says Dr. Jason Morris, family medicine physician with Imperial Health.

According to Dr. Morris, this decline can result in a wide range of symptoms as a man’s hormones become imbalanced, including:

• mental fatigue and reduced focus

• lack of energy and motivation

• increased fat around the mid-section

• depression, anxiety and mood swings

• feeling irritated and on-edge

• reduced sexual desire and performance

• muscle loss or inability to gain muscle

• muscle and/or joint pain

“Unfortunately, these symptoms are often accepted as an unavoidable part of aging, or even worse, attributed to causes other than hormonal imbalance,” says Dr. Morris. “Our goal in my practice is to recognize the symptoms, identify the real underlying cause, and provide a natural, wellnessfocused approached to address the imbalance.”

After working with different options and conducting exhaustive research, Dr. Morris began offering EvexiPEL Subcutaneous Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) several years ago. EvexiPEL is a natural alternative to synthetic hormone replacement therapies. This therapy utilizes bioidentical hormones derived from all natural, plant-based substances. “Unlike synthetic hormones, the structure of the bioidentical testosterone hormone closely matches each patient’s individual needs,” explains Dr. Morris. “And since they are derived from nature, plant-based hormones metabolize in the body, just the way nature intended.”

Traditional BHRT treatments such as creams, patches, pills, and injections, typically must be taken or applied daily to achieve symptom relief. However, EvexiPEL therapy delivers a steady stream of hormones, mimicking the way the

body naturally releases hormones. This is made possible with the subcutaneous placement of pellet implants, which can better fit individual needs. “Instead of daily treatments, most patients only have to visit us two-to-three times a year for pellet implants,” says Dr. Morris. “The placement is painless, and pellets become something patients don’t even have to think about.”

Dr. Morris says his male patients have been very happy with the results they are experiencing with EvexiPEL. “They report having more energy, feeling younger and more like themselves again. Overall, they just feel better, which is our ultimate goal, because the more energy and vitality a person has, the more active they are going to be, which is so much better for their health and wellness.”

To learn more or to schedule a consultation to discuss BHRT, call Dr. Morris’ office at (337) 312-0030.

24 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024 Mind & Body |
Men’s HEALTH Men’s HEALTH 25 CALL TODAY! (337) 312-0030 277 Hwy. 171, Suite B, Moss Bluff Look and Feel Yourself Again! If you’re in search of the hard body you once had, you can find it again with Bio-Identical Hormone Treatment. Jason Morris, M.D. Family Physician We also offer America’s Most Successful Weight-Loss Shots | (337) 721-7236 | Lake Charles | Moss Bluff WE’RE AROUND YOU CENTERED The Center for Orthopaedics provides national-level sports medicine expertise right here in Southwest Louisiana. Our team of doctors and support staff offers experienced, hands-on care to tackle the toughest musculoskeletal injuries. We’ll also help you develop a game plan to prevent future injuries. Whether you’ve been injured on the field, at a gym or in your own back yard, trust the CFO team to give you an accurate diagnosis and get you safely back in action.

Once considered the domain of women, cosmetic injections such as Botox and Dysport are now being embraced by men who want to enhance their appearance and boost their confidence. In recent years, cosmetic injections have seen a surge in popularity among men. The stigma that once surrounded male cosmetic procedures is fading as more men prioritize their appearance and self-care.

“Women are not alone in their worries about wrinkles and desire to have a youthful appearance. Men have the same concerns,” says Emily Wyninger, FNP-C, nurse practitioner and cosmetic injection specialist with Guillermo Family Medicine Clinic. “Men are staying in the workforce longer and maintaining a more active lifestyle as they age. These injections provide an easy, effective way to address some of the more prominent signs of aging, helping men look as young as they feel.”

Wyninger explains that Botox and Dysport are both FDA-approved and use a type of botulinum toxin to temporarily relax facial muscles whose repetitive movements cause stubborn forehead wrinkles and frown lines.

“By relaxing the muscles, the skin above them softens, resulting in smoother, younger-looking skin. These types of injections are most effective for treating these dynamic wrinkles that occur when you smile, laugh or frown. After many years of making the same facial expressions, deep horizontal and vertical wrinkles form in the forehead and between the eyes. Because men have larger muscles in these areas, this effect is often more noticeable.”

Wyninger says Dysport works particularly well on the vertical lines between the brow, which is much more common in men than women. “This area is difficult to treat, and one that really bothers men, because they feel it causes them to look like they are angry all the time.”

26 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024
& Body |Men’s HEALTH Men’s

Another reason cosmetic injection treatments appeal to men is the treatment literally takes only minutes. “There is no down time,” says Wyninger. “You can come in for the injection, which takes just minutes, and go right back to work. The results are visible within a few days, with full effect evident within two weeks. There are no side effects, and the results can last for months.”

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Style & Beauty


Along the Gulf Coast, the sun's intensity brings both joy and challenges, especially for our skin. Few understand this better than Hannah Grogan, FNP, master aesthetic injector and owner of The Sculptry, set to open soon. Born and raised in Lake Charles, she’s seen firsthand the harmful effects of the sun on our over-exposed skin. Grogan shares her expert advice on sun safety and maintaining an anti-aging routine during the scorching summer months.


Grogan emphasizes the importance of sun protection as the foundation of any skincare and anti-aging routine.

Wear a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses. "These three items are your summer skin saviors," says Grogan. A wide-brimmed hat provides crucial shade for your face, ears, and neck. Sunglasses protect not only your eyes but also the delicate skin around them. And sunscreen, of course, is indispensable.

Use sunscreens with SPF 30+ and reapply frequently. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30. "Reapplication is key. Every two hours, and even more often if you’re swimming or sweating, or if you already have existing pigmentation concerns." No sunscreen can block 100% UV rays, so combining it with other protective measures is essential.

Check sunscreen expiration dates. Expired sunscreen can be ineffective. "Using expired sunscreen is almost like not using any at all."

Look for sunscreens with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These ingredients provide broadspectrum protection and are less likely to cause skin irritation. "They physically block UV rays, making them ideal for sensitive skin."

Understand the difference between UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and are primarily responsible for premature aging and wrinkles, while UVB rays affect the surface and cause sunburn. "A good sunscreen will protect against both," says Grogan.

Continuing Your Skin Health Routine During the Summer

While some aesthetic treatments are best avoided in the summer due to increased sun exposure, others can be safely enjoyed with proper precautions. Grogan recommends the four following treatments to keep your skin looking fresh and youthful during the summer months:


This treatment hydrates dry summer skin and reduces congestion and blackheads caused by heavy sunblocks. The HydraFacial cleanses, exfoliates, and infuses your skin with intensive serums, leaving it glowing and refreshed.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels remove dead skin cells damaged by the sun, revealing fresh new skin underneath. "However, it’s crucial to avoid sun exposure during recovery to protect your new skin from damage," Grogan advises.

RF Microneedling

Radiofrequency microneedling generates new, collagen-rich tissue, tightens skin, and reduces scars, wrinkles, stretch marks, and fine lines. It’s an excellent alternative to a laser treatment in the summer. Like chemical peels, strict sun avoidance during recovery and ongoing use of sunblock are required to maintain results.


Sofwave utilizes ultrasound technology to stimulate collagen production and helps visibly lift and tighten the skin. It is safe for all skin types and has zero downtime, making it a safe procedure during the summer. "Summer is a time for fun and relaxation, but it's also a time to be extra mindful of your skin," says Grogan. "Treatments like HydraFacial, chemical peels, microneedling, and radiofrequency microneedling can be safely done in the summer if you commit to sun protection, which is the foundation for preventing future photo damage and skin cancer. Protect your investment!"

Grogan is excited to announce the upcoming opening of The Sculptry, a luxury medical aesthetics clinic in Lake Charles. "Our med spa will offer the best sun care products on the market and provide all the treatments mentioned above, plus more.”

28 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024 29

From cowboy inspired drama (think Beyonce’s Cowboy Carter look) to boho artisanal pieces covered in nostalgic fringe or colorful beads, here’s your guide to women’s musthave accessories for the season. Embrace these chic, playful trends to make this summer your most fashionable one yet!

Sunglasses are a cornerstone of summer style, perfect for adding a pop of color to neutral outfits while complementing the bold prints that are trending this year. These styles revisit the vibrant '70s and '80s while offering crucial modern UV protection for your eyes. Look for:

• Large dramatic frames

• Colorful lenses – a subtle tint will keep you on trend

• Oversized aviators

• Playful cat-eye designs

• Square frames with pastel-tinted lenses (match your nail polish for extra style points)

30 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024 Style & Beauty

Hats are having a major moment this summer, topping off outfits with a mix of bohemian style and urban sophistication. Wide-brimmed straw hats are a staple for beach goers, ideal for those seeking a blend of fashion and function. For a more urban approach, bucket hats in lightweight fabrics like cotton and canvas feature floral and geometric prints, offering a fresh vibe to casual ensembles. The athletic prep trend is sticking around, so pull out your sporty ball caps to pair with a cute but comfortable tennis dress or pleated miniskirt. Remember that hats are more than a finishing touch to your outfit; they also do double duty shielding you from the hot sun.

Silk scarves are the ultimate versatile accessory this summer. Tie one on to add a splash of color and texture to any outfit. Trendy patterns include marine motifs, botanical prints, and abstract art. A simple scarf can become a workhorse in your summer wardrobe and an effortless way to express your unique personal style:

• Pull through your beltloops to add texture.

• Use as a headscarf.

• Tie around the neck for a casual pop of color.

• Drape around your shoulders for an evening stroll.

Forget the subdued belt — summer 2024's versions are bold, beautiful, and meant to make a statement! With cowboy-inspired pieces taking center stage, look for punchy new styles crafted from natural materials like leather and featuring oversized buckles. Braided and beaded versions add a touch of artisanal craft to enhance even the simplest of outfits. The rule of thumb is the wider the belt, the better! Dramatic wide belts aren’t just for show; they function as a critical accessory for accenting your silhouette by cinching the waist of oversized summer dresses, flowing tunics, and even blazers. So go BIG to create that coveted hourglass hape!

Jewelry is usually the last accessory we reach for when getting dressed, but this fashion season, it’s the best way to make a unique and personal statement about your style. Popular designs have a handcrafted feel and lean heavily toward personal expression. Look for artisanal pieces that tell a story or symbolize personal journeys (hint: raid your mom’s old jewelry box or hit up local estate sales).

• Silver tones are back! If you don’t want to put all your gold pieces away, try layering bracelets and necklaces. Mix and match metals, beads, and semi-precious stones for a one-of-a-kind personalized look that incorporates the metal of the season.

• Earrings are bold — think large hoops or abstract geometrics — to create a focal point for your outfit. Ear cuffs will also add a bit of trendy edginess to your summer look.

• The return of the anklet! Choose boho styles adorned with charms and beads that reflect your hobbies or favorite things. Bonus – they’ll jingle as you walk down the beach on vacation!

• Nail the boho trend by choosing jewelry made from bright beads or flowers (especially rosettes) to add a bit of whimsy to any outfit. 31

The bob is the standout haircut of the summer thanks to a continued surge of interest in ‘90s glamour. The style has been seen on models Hailey Bieber and Gigi Hadid and actors Florence Pugh and Sydney Sweeney. Everywhere you look, someone is either sporting a bob or about to ask their hairdresser for one.

Professional hairstylist Jennifer Korab with Renaissance Salon, New Jersey says, “The bob is a classic, timeless look and is flattering on most. People are attracted to a bob because of its versatility. It can be tailored to specific needs by adding texture or layers to create movement within the hair.”

While bobs are customizable and lend themselves to a variety of hairstyles, there is one bob that is leading the pack this season. The mob bob, an extension of the mob wife aesthetic (looking like a million bucks in furs, animal print and luxe accessories a la an Upper East Side lady) that has taken over the internet, is lifting hair to new heights, literally. The mob bob focuses on big, blowout volume and effortless movement. “The mob bob is a modern take on the classic bob hairstyle that features a longer length in the front, while the back is shorter, creating a graduated or stacked effect,” says Korab. “This style is characterized by its edgy and asymmetrical look. It also incorporates textured layers throughout the hair to add movement and dimension.”

Once you get the right cut, know how to style your hair for the greatest effect. A volumizing

32 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024
Style & Beauty

blowout is a must. Grab a round brush, a hair dryer and some volumizing mousse or styling cream. You’ll want to give the layers a bit of a bounce. Flick the ends outward for a tousled look or inward for face-framing rounded volume. If the dryer doesn’t achieve the desired effect, grab a curling wand to softly curve hair edges. Texturizing spray is another great tool for those who struggle with attaining root volume. Either an extreme side part or a middle part is acceptable for this hairstyle, but if desiring that ‘90s supermodel look, opt for the side part.

If easy, breezy and beachy hair is more to your taste, ask for a collarbone grazing bob. A mid-length bob can easily be adapted to a variety of summer styles. Scrunch the hair for light waves. Since the hair is not weighed down with extra length, those who have trouble attaining movement to their hair might find a shorter hairstyle is more versatile. Pin straight tresses are perfect for any occasion. A sleek bob is glamourous for summer vacation and the short length will keep you cool in the hottest weather. While sporting a bob might seem limiting, the haircut is anything but. Invest in some hot tools, styling products and experiment to create numerous different styles without the weight of longer hair.

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Home & Family

June is peak travel season!

Get ready to have fun in the sun with the endless vacation opportunities available in the summer. If you’re looking to stay closer to home, the Gulf Coast states offer an abundance of water sports, museums, and quirky activities off the beaten path. From Civil War museums to retro arcades, take a trip with Thrive through the state capitals of Deep South Dixie from Austin, Texas to Tallahassee, Fla.

Summer is the perfect time to schedule your child’s dental exam, and at Robinson Dental Group, we provide experienced dental care for the entire family. This summer, we’re offering a FREE * electric Oral B toothbrush to NEW patients age 5 – 17. We accept most insurance and flexible benefit plans, and offer affordable, convenient payment plans to fit any budget. Call us today to schedule your child’s summer dental exam.

34 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024
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Austin, Texas has been the fastest growing metro area in the United States for the last dozen years. A cultural and entrepreneurial giant in the South, Austin has innumerable options for family entertainment, even for the youngest generation.

The Thinkery is a must-see children’s museum that uses sensory stimuli to teach kids about STEAM. Ongoing exhibits include Currents, which teaches about “fluid dynamics and the connection between water and sound;” Fresh!, a pint-sized farmers’ market encouraging children to adopt healthy eating choices; Light Lab dives into topics encompassing light, shadow and color; and Our Backyard is an outdoor playground complete with an easy climbing wall and stone-filled stream.

As the largest indoor waterpark resort in America, Kalahari Resorts and Conventions holds enough entertainment options to keep the family occupied all day. The property spans 1.5 million square feet and includes dining options, spas, live entertainment, shopping and a theme park, in addition to the water park. For older children and adults, the Barreling Baboon slides are perfect for the adrenaline junkie. For younger children, Coral Cove and Tiki’s Watering Hole offer subdued water fun. At Tom Foolerys Adventure Park, families have access to laser tag, escape rooms, a mirror maze and an XD Motion theater. Parents can slip away to a halotherapy session at Spa Kalahari. Himalayan salt is dissolved into the air. The body is detoxified as the salt is inhaled.

Step back in time at the Bullock Texas State History Museum located at the Texas State Capitol

Exhibitions include Texas History Galleries, which tell the story of Texas from the time when indigenous people roamed freely to the arrival of La Salle and later the Spanish; Legacies of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, an exhibit detailing the document that ended the U.S.-Mexico War; Texas Oil and Gas; and Becoming Texas.

Austin is a city known for its arts and culture and it is home to BookPeople, the largest independent bookstore in Texas. BookPeople has been in business since 1970, has been voted the best bookstore in Austin and boasts two floors of books with a large selection of children’s titles. Book signings are regularly held, so if you’re lucky, you might encounter famous authors such as Donna Tartt or B.J. Novak.

Pinballz is a retro-designed arcade and has the largest selection

of games under one roof in the state of Texas. From traditional pinball to more modern games such as The Mandalorian, there’s enough entertainment to keep the whole family busy for hours.

Zilker Park in downtown Austin consists of 361-acres of outdoor fun. Rent a bike or canoe, have a picnic, play disk golf, and shiver in Barton Springs, a 68-degree natural swimming hole. There’s also a playground and the Zilker Zephyr Train. Nearby is Zilker Botanical Garden where visitors can experience the Taniguchi Japanese Garden, the Hartman Prehistoric Garden and the Rose Garden.

At the Austin Nature & Science Center, children learn about prehistoric animals, geology and astronomy. Dig for fossil replicas at the Dino Pit. The Naturalist Workshop invites children to inspect rocks, fossils and fur with a

magnifying glass.

What would a family vacation to Texas be without taking in the beauty of horses? Texas Trail Rides offers horseback riding at Lonestar Ranch, just ten minutes from downtown Austin. Make reservations beforehand as Lonestar Ranch is a working ranch. While there are several locations around the country, Austin is home to the closest location of The Museum of Ice Cream. Admission includes an unlimited amount of ice cream with a variety of toppings and dairy-free options. Decorated in a quirky, retro style, the museum has ample photo opportunities. Ride a giant pink animal cookie, walk through a banana tunnel and jump into a sprinkle pool. There’s also a café and bar for specialty milkshakes and cocktails. 35

Baton Rouge is an easy, two-hour drive from Lake Charles. The city offers fabulous fun for the family right here in our home state.

The Knock Knock Children’s Museum is an outlet for younger children to play and learn. Outfitted with the Art Garden, Ship Shape Health Challenge, Storybook Climber, Paws and Claws Clinic, Pelican Pantry and more, kids acquire hands-on experience about a variety of careers and stimulate their creativity through crafting.

BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo takes you through Africa, Asia, South America and the Atchafalaya Basin as you weave through the various trails. View alligators in a swamp exhibit, tigers in the African tundra and numerous species of birds and monkeys. At select times, visitors can feed giraffes. Part of the zoo is undergoing renovations, so pick up

a map for up-to-date info. While both the old and new state capitol buildings are open to tours, the Louisiana Old State Capitol edges out the new state capitol when it comes to architecture. With its castle-like façade and stainedglass dome, the old state capitol is beautiful to behold. Tour the House Chamber where Louisiana representatives decided to succeed from the Union in 1861. In the Senate Chamber, impeachment proceedings were initiated against former governor Huey P. Long. Rumored to be haunted, the old state capitol hosts a 4D immersive experience titled The Ghost of the Castle. Sarah Morgan, a Civil-War era figure, recounts the history of how the building was saved by locals. Other exhibits on view include Remembering the 1984 Louisiana World Exhibition and Patient No More: People with Disabilities Securing Civil Rights. Step into history at the Capitol Park Museum. Learn about famous

figures from Louisiana, such as jazz legend Louis Armstrong, discover the importance of the Mississippi River for national commerce, dive into the Cajun migration, and look back on Louisiana’s Jim Crow past for a wide-ranging educational experience on Louisiana’s history.

The motto of the Louisiana Art & Science Museum is “encouraging discovery, inspiring creativity, and fostering the pursuit of knowledge.” Permanent exhibits include the Ancient Egypt Gallery (view a mummy from 300 B.C.) and the Solar System Galaxy (be amazed by images from the Hubble telescope). Admire a 65-millionyear-old Triceratops skull. On exhibition through September are Improvisation: The Art & Healing Power of Jazz; Artistry and Accuracy: Botanical Illustrations by Margaret Stones; and The Art of Looking Up: Following the Stars, from Ancient Cultures to the Webb. The museum also has a kids’ lab, which teaches chemistry, and a

STEAM Station.

Stoke your LSU pride with a visit to Mike the Tiger’s Habitat. One of the largest tiger habitats in the country, Mike has access to a live oak tree, comfort rock, rockwork tree, waterfall and stream, and greenery. The habitat measures 15,000 square feet and is home to Mike VII since 2017.

At the Blue Zoo, located in the Mall of Louisiana, visitors can touch and feed stingrays, reptiles and sharks; observe animal feedings; watch a pirate sword fight and meet a mermaid.

Part water park, part theme park, a visit to Blue Bayou Water Park and Dixie Landin’ is the perfect summer destination. Blue Bayou has over a dozen iterations of water slides including Lafitte’s Plunge, Flyin’ Pirogue, Mad Moccasin and Mambo. Hurricane Bay and Atchafalya Run offer a slower pace. Relax as the water gently carries you along the streams. Dixie Landin’ has the adrenaline-producing roller coaster Ragin Cajun, Cajun Collision bumper cars, Gumbo Yo Yo swings, and a traditional merry-go-round.

Visit Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center to view hundreds of different species of bird. Deer, otters and foxes also inhabit the 103-acre nature reserve. View the natural surroundings via a mile of pathways and trek through the cypress-tupelo swamp and beach magnolia and hardwood forests. Indoor exhibits include live animal viewings, mineral displays and a vintage waterfowl decoy collection. Once situated here in Lake Charles, the USS Kidd Veterans Museum typically resides in Louisiana’s capital city along the Mississippi River, but is currently undergoing repairs in Houma, La. For more info, visit the museum online to discover the history of and artifacts from the notorious destroyer.

36 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024 Home & Family | delight In dIXIe

Big Brothers Big Sisters of SWLA is committed to igniting the power and promise of youth through one-to-one mentoring relationships. By matching community members with the leaders of tomorrow, the organization believes youth can achieve their full potential, reach higher aspirations, develop greater confidence, build better relationships, avoid risk behaviors and accomplish educational success.

Meet Tyrell, a vibrant 7-year-old who has been eagerly waiting for 206 days to find a Big Brother. He loves going to the park and playing basketball, and he’s looking for a mentor who shares his enthusiasm for sports. Tyrell is outgoing and friendly, craving someone to spend time with, play sports, and simply hang out. Could you be the one to make a lasting impact on Tyrell’s life?

Jayden, a 13-year-old with a love for dancing and reading, has been waiting for 63 days to be matched with a Big Sister. She’s part of a local dance team and enjoys exploring the mall. Jayden is seeking a mentor to experience new things with and learn important life skills like communication and setting boundaries. Could you be the Big Sister she’s been waiting for?

Meet Tamyra, a 13-year-old waiting for 91 days to find her perfect match. She enjoys reading, singing, and expressing herself through art. Tamyra is open to having a Big Sister to talk to and help her navigate challenges and negative feelings. If you have a passion for art and empowering young minds, Tamyra is waiting for you to be her mentor and friend. 37 Make a BIG Difference Create a lifetime impact with Big Brothers Big Sisters. | 4135 Common Street, Lake Charles | 1509 N Pine Street, DeRidder | 337-478-5437 Being a mentor is about being present
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If your family loves museums, Jackson, Mississippi has a museum no matter what your area of interest.

The Mississippi Museum of Natural Science is located inside Lefleur’s Bluff Playground. Children can play after trekking through the 2.5 miles of nature trails surrounding the museum. Inside the museum, find the 100,000-gallon aquarium hosting more than 200 species of aquatic wildlife. There’s an exhibit on the white-tailed deer, a fossil room and a 1,700-square foot greenhouse. Special exhibits include Dinosaurs Around the World: The Great Outdoors. Ten animatronic dinosaurs “come to life” and narrators educate visitors on what life was like for these prehistoric animals.

At the Mississippi Children's Museum, tykes can explore exhibits such as Exploring Mississippi, which details the natural environment and history of Mississippi; Pollinator’s Playground teaches children about the roles of bees, butterflies and bats in pollination and food production; Enchanted Land of Story, a garden where children can physically experience a story; World at Work, where children can explore various careers; Wonderbox, a STEAM station; and Express Yourself, a room to engage in the arts.

Be transported back to a bustling Ag town at the 30-acre Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum The Heritage Center celebrates 500 years of Mississippi agriculture from the farming practices of the Choctaw to catfish farming. There are three model railroads on site. The National Agricultural Aviation Museum displays historic planes used to fly over farms. Small Town, Mississippi replicates a historic town that flourished on the railroad, automobile, agriculture and forestry industries. The General Store

sells nostalgic items—rock candy, jacks, marbles, tops, etc., as well as local honey, jam and cheese. The Fitzgerald Collection features antiques and collectibles, while the Children’s Barnyard houses numerous small animals and a vet exhibit. The Exhibit Barn showcases historic farm equipment and explains how agriculture has changed over time. The Fortenberry-Parkman Farmstead boasts original buildings from 1860. To finish the tour, walk the Nature Trail to experience the working farm.

Those who love paintings and ceramics will appreciate the Mississippi Museum of Art Currently on exhibition are PreColumbian Art, featuring Peruvian pre-Columbian ceramics; New Symphony of Time, which includes artworks by famous artists reflecting on themes of migration, memory, movement and home; Thank You Please Come Again, a collection of photographs by photojournalist Kate Medley taken over a decade of exploring the South; and more.

The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum explores how the Civil

Rights movement affected the state and those who lived there. "Coming of Age in Mississippi" by Anne Moody is an integral part of Civil Rights history as Moody witnessed the effect of Emmett Till’s murder and violence against her neighbors while being a housekeeper to a white family. Galleries include The Mississippi Freedom Struggle; Mississippi in Black and White; A Closed Society; I Question America; A Tremor in the Iceberg; Black Empowerment; and Where Do We Go From Here.

Exhibits at the Museum of Mississippi History represent the state’s journey over the past few hundred years. Cultural Crossroads: Native Americans, Europeans, and Africans 1519-1798 details the struggle over land and resources between natives and colonists; Cotton Kingdom: Enslavement and Civil War 1835-1865 explains how the cultivation of cotton and the enslavement of African Americans led to a devastating Civil War; and Promise and Peril: Progressivism, Repression and World War I 19031927 explores how increasing

industrialization led to reform but also left some citizens stuck in the mire.

The Mississippi State Capitol is described as “an exceptional example of Beaux Arts style, vividly illustrating the nationwide spread of academic classical revival architecture of the early 20th century,” by The National Park Service. The center of government since 1903, the state capitol was designated as a Mississippi State Landmark in 1986 and a National Historic Landmark in 2016. Portraits of governors past hang in the Hall of Governors, and the main dome of the capitol hosts sculptures of Lady Justice, paintings from 1934 and an eight-foot-tall eagle. One of 55 replicas of the Liberty Bell is on the property.

A trip to Jackson wouldn’t be complete without a visit to OffBeat Considered a destination for alternative art and apparel, OffBeat feeds into nostalgia with comic books, vinyl records, model kits, action figures and collectible pins.

38 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024 Home & Family | delight In dIXIe 39 Two Years Through 12th Grade Now Enrolling EDS does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, or gender in admission of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs and athletic and other school administered programs. NORTH CAMPUS Two Year Olds - 6th Grade 803 N. Division Street Lake Charles SOUTH CAMPUS 7 th to 12 th Grade 5665 N. Gray Market Drive Lake Charles Bishop Noland Episcopal Day School provides academic excellence to a diverse student body in a Christian environment. 337-433-5246 GATOR COUNTRY SWAMP TOUR LITTLE WOODROW’S BEAUMONT Good Times Adventures where & collide Scan for Good Times Navigate your Beaumont adventure with us at

One of Montgomery’s claims to fame is the monumental events during the Civil Rights Movement that took place there. The city’s history played a large role in changing the course of life for many African Americans. You can learn about the events at the many historical sites and museums in Montgomery.

Troy University’s Rosa Parks Museum is located in downtown Montgomery at the spot where Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat. The museum includes the original fingerprint arrest record of Parks, court and police

records, a 1950s-era bus, and a 1955 station wagon like the ones used to transport protestors. The mission of the Rosa Parks Museum is to “collect, preserve and exhibit artifacts relevant to the life and lessons of Rosa Parks, the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Civil Rights Movement.”

A National Historic Landmark, the Alabama State Capitol resides on a hill and overlooks downtown Montgomery. The capitol’s claim to fame is that delegates from states across the south voted to establish the Confederacy in the Senate chamber in 1861. Jefferson Davis was inaugurated as president of the Confederacy in the west portico. The Alabama State Capitol is part of the U.S. Civil Rights Trails as the Selma to Montgomery march ended with Martin Luther King, Jr. giving his speech outside.

Old Alabama Town is in downtown Montgomery and consists of a one-room schoolhouse, grist mill, cotton gin, log cabin and Lucas Tavern, the oldest building in Montgomery. Besides touring a building where everyday citizens worked, learned and lived, another building of note is the Ordeman-Shaw House, a rare example of a household run by urban slavery.

At Fort Toulouse Fort Jackson, view the recreated 1751 Fort Toulouse, once part of French Louisiana; Creek Indian (for which the state of Alabama was named) houses, the partially restored 1814 American Fort Jackson, which was named after Andrew Jackson’s efforts against the Creek Indians; and a 1,000-year-old Indian mound. There are regular reenactments of the Creek War in 1812 and the

French and Indian war.

For the little ones, a visit to The Mooseum explains the history of Alabama’s beef industry. Learn how cows are raised and processed for consumption. There is additional information about other products created from beef byproducts. A virtual tour guide and resident cowboy, Adam Bainbridge, details life on a ranch. The Hoofprints Through Alabama gallery takes you back to 1494! Children can dress up like cowboys and cowgirls in the Rodeo Arena.

Drive through 350-acres at Alabama Safari Park. Watch animals roam freely from the safety of your vehicle. You can feed animals through your window. Visitors are encouraged not to be in a hurry as the animals have the right of way through the park. Animals on site include zebras, alpacas, giraffes, camels, kangaroos, lemurs and sloths. There’s also a petting zoo.

If you’re a music fan, explore the life of a music legend at the Hank Williams Museum. The museum houses Williams’s 1952 blue Cadillac; his suits, hat, boots, ties and awards; and copies of his records. While Williams died at the age of 29, he leaves a full legacy to which the museum is dedicated. There’s a bronze statue of Williams near the Montgomery Riverfront. Rent a kayak and traverse the river at Coosa River Adventures Perfect for hot summer days, paddling through the river rapids is a great way to stay cool. The Coosa River teams with bass, catfish, bream and crappie. Rent a couple of rods and reel in those fish!

40 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024 Home & Family | delight In dIXIe



Purchase Shirts, Caps, Discounted Tickets Includes Fish Dinner | Door Prizes



Cameron Multi-Purpose Building 122 Recreation Center Lane, Cameron


Lighthouse Bend Complex | 189 Davis Road, Cameron


12:01 AM Offshore Fishing Competition Begins


Offshore Fishing Competition Continues

12:01 AM Bay Fishing Begins

3:00 PM Weigh Station Opens (Located at the Marina)

5:00 PM Festival Gates Open

5:00 PM Silent Auction Opens

6:00 – 8:00 PM Live Music TBD

6:00 PM Weigh Station Closes

8:00 PM Live Auction

8:30 – 10:00 PM Live Music TBD

10:00 PM Festival Closes


Offshore & Bay Fishing Competition Continues

11:00 AM Festival Gates Open 11:00 AM Silent Auction Opens 1:00 PM Corn Hole Tournament 1:30 – 4 PM Live Music TBD

2:00 PM Weigh Station Opens

2:30 – 4 PM Wands and Whimsy – Fairytale Characters 4:00 PM Children’s Crab Races (crabs provided)

4:30 – 7 PM Live Music TBD

5:00 PM Weigh Station Closes

6:30 PM Live Auction & Fishing Awards

7:30 –10 PM Live Music TBD 10:00 PM Festival Closes


Children 12 & Under Are Free | Waterslide, Games & Fun

Registration and details are available online at: Festival Information: 337-775-5713 or 337-540-4623 Fishing Information: 337-775-5713 or 337-274-8501

AUGUST 2–3, 2024 20th Annual

— Tallahassee, florida — Discover Space, Magnets and Manatees

Though small compared to other capital cities, Tallahassee boasts Florida’s most educated population. As such, there are more than 24 art galleries and 15 museums available to visit. And Tallahassee is only 22 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, making a beach day an easy trek. Here are some of the top attractions for families in Florida’s capital:

Candy, ice cream and toys— children have access to it all at Sugar High at Lofty Pursuits. Observe fresh Victorian hard candy made daily and browse the ephemera such as a letter from Warren Buffett, signed yo-yos (including one from Mr. Rogers), a cable Nick Walenda used to tight rope across the Grand Canyon, and an array of memorabilia from silent films. Lofty Pursuits is also a restaurant and has a popular podcast showing their candy making process on YouTube.

Located on 52-acres of cypress swamp, the Tallahassee Museum hosts a range of outdoor activities. The Tree to Tree is built to blend in with natural surroundings. Participants can travel through the trees via tight ropes, jungle bridges, nets, crab walks and zip lines. There’s a beginner course available for small children including wooden tunnels and obstacles. Each course is determined by height rather than age. Elsewhere on the premises, the Tallahassee Museum offers exhibits on local wildlife, how sugar cane syrup was made, a history of Florida exhibition and a sculptural dinosaur installation.

If you’ve ever wanted to interact with manatees, visit the Jungle Cruise at Wakulla Springs Wakulla Springs is one of the largest

freshwater springs in the world and manatees love to frolic in the warm water – a consistent 69 degrees. Tour guides of the Jungle Cruise guide you down the water, pointing out the manatees, turtles, vultures, egrets and alligators. If you’re fortunate, you might even spot a baby manatee snuggling up to its mother.

Mission San Luis takes you back to the 17th century when the Apalachee Indians and Spaniards lived together in peace. The population was a strong 1,400 before the British invaded in the early 18th century. Mission San Luis was damaged during the invasion but has been reconstructed and is a National Historic Landmark. The mission holds the distinction of being the only Spanish mission in Florida. Workers dressed in period clothing demonstrate life during the mission’s heyday.

The Mag Lab hosts the largest

and most powerful magnet in the world. While the Mag Lab is a functioning laboratory which releases peer-reviewed research, the site does offer guided tours – perfect for children interested in STEM. The tour provides an overview of the facility, the types of magnets used and details of the research conducted. Disclaimer: Because the lab is a working facility, there may be loud or repetitive noises.

The Florida Historic State Capitol is restored to its 1902 glory with its stained-glass dome and red-striped awnings. The building hosts exhibits on Florida’s political history. Visitors can also view the Governor’s Private Suite as well as the rooms that once hosted the Florida House and Senate.

The Tallahassee Automobile Museum has a collection of over 170 rare vehicles, including a 1931 Duesenberg and three Batmobiles.

Perhaps the most historically interesting vehicle on the property is the 1860 horse-drawn funeral hearse purported to have taken Abraham Lincoln to his final resting place. In 1999, the museum was awarded the ACA First Place Award for No. 1 museum in the U.S. for the preservation of antique cars. Also on view are antique boat motors, sports memorabilia, motorcycles, pedal cars, antique cash registers, brass fans and Steinway pianos. Get ready for blast-off at the Challenger Learning Center with their space mission simulator. One room is designed to look like Mission Control at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Participants are given tasks to complete to finish a successful mission. There is an IMAX theater on site and a planetarium showing the latest hits.

42 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024 Home & Family | delight In dIXIe

Pack a Sack with healThy snacks for your Next Road Trip

No road trip is complete without snacks in the car for the ride. But that doesn’t mean your noshing needs to nix your nutrition. With a little thought and planning, you can fill a tote with healthy options and avoid the notoriously bad-for-you snack aisles at gas station mini-marts.

Gorp aka Trail Mix – Create a homemade concoction of dried fruit, nuts, seeds and a few M&Ms for color (and of course, chocolate). Raisins, dried cranberries, peanuts, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds and a few minichocolate chips are great choices. Gorp packs a perfect combination of proteins, healthy carbs, and fats to keep you satisfied on your journey.

Fresh Fruit – Pack fruit that travels well and doesn’t require refrigeration. Consider clementines/mandarin oranges, apples, bananas, and grapes. Granola and other snack bars – The market for individually-wrapped snack bars has exploded in recent years and the options at the grocery store are staggering. Bars are convenient and filling and run the gamut nutritionally. Some are highly processed and high in sugar; other choices boast more fiber and protein. Read labels and look for short ingredient lists with ingredients you can pronounce. This writer’s personal favorites, in no particular order: Kate’s Real Food Organic Energy Bars, Dave’s Killer Bread Organic Snack Bars, and KIND Simple Crunch Granola Bars.

Jerky – Jerkies come in a wide variety of options beyond your basic beef. There’s bison, turkey, chicken, pork, fish, even vegan. And while Slim Jims taste good and have been around since 1929, they may not be the

Vegetable-Based Chips – Potatoes are so passé. These days you can find chips made from most any kind of vegetable. Yams, beets, zucchini, kale . . . these snacks have been dominating chip aisles for years. But be savvy when choosing these snacks. For example, “veggie straws” are made of potato starch and potato flour and can be worse for you nutritionally than regular potato chips! Read labels and look for options made from actual vegetables, including legumes and root vegetables like taro, yuca, and casava. Try Harvest Snaps (made with green peas and red lentils, making them high in fiber and protein) and Wai Lana Casava Chips (the Thai curry and lime variety are truly addicting).

Regarding plantain chips vs. potato chips, research is not consistent. Some sources say plantains are higher in fiber, vitamins A and C, and potassium and contain lower levels of fat and calories. Other sources say they are about equal. So, it could be a personal preference. (Plantains are botanically related to bananas and look similar, but they differ in their appearance, flavor, texture, and best uses.) Try Congo Tropicals’ Plantain Chips in a variety of flavors.

The key (for any snack option) is to scrutinize labels to make informed decisions and eat all snacks in moderation (not the whole bag!)

Places & Faces

June 5, 2024, is officially known as National Start Over Day, and that gives us all a great excuse to think about setting some goals, be they personal, career, business or community-related! In this special section we call Goal Getters, we feature local people and organizations who have set goals to improve our Southwest Louisiana communities. McNeese State University has set some goals, with naming the next school president and breaking ground on their LNG Center for Excellence. The City of Lake Charles and its partners have set a goal of revitalizing the Lakefront. The next step is the demolition of the hurricane-damaged Capital One Tower. The Community Foundation has established goals for our region through their Just Imagine SWLA 50-Year Resiliency Master Plan, which recently won a prestigious national award. Local philanthropists Rick and Donna Richard continue to rejuvenate our area through their preservation and repurposing efforts. Read on for details on how these and others are achieving their goals for ensuring our five-parish region continues to thrive and prosper!

44 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024

Just Imagine SWLA

Just Imagine SWLA, the 50-year resilience master plan consisting of 11 catalytic projects dedicated to transforming Southwest Louisiana’s landscape, celebrates its recent recognition as the plan was awarded the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) Charter Award in The Region: Metropolis, City, and Town category at the CNU Annual Congress last month in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The CNU Charter Awards, renowned for honoring outstanding efforts in urban planning and development, spotlight the work of CNU members and their collaborators who craft spaces that inspire and enrich lives. Just Imagine SWLA’s inclusion among the winners underscores its profound impact on enhancing Southwest Louisiana’s urban environment.

Fueled by a $2.5 million donation from Moss Bluff native David Filo and his wife Angela following the 2020 natural disasters, the Just Imagine SWLA plan focuses on the future of Calcasieu and Cameron parishes and engages the community in shaping it. The 11 key projects, including coastal protection and neighborhood revitalization, promise a resilient future for all.

In a recent article by Public Square, a CNU Journal, announcing the award, Robert

Recognized with 2024 Congress for the New Urbanism Charter Award

Steuteville writes about the Just Imagine SWLA project that will revitalize the heart of Lake Charles – Mid-City Neighborhood Transformation:

“On a neighborhood scale, the Lake Charles Housing Authority and other public entities received a $40 million HUD Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant, which will leverage $270 million in public and private investment. ‘The recent storms severely damaged Lloyd Oaks public housing, with only 65 of 240 units occupied after. Concentrated, low-income public housing will be redeveloped into 562 units of mixed-income, mixed-use housing built to FORTIFIED Multifamily Gold standards,’ the design team explains. The city is building two new neighborhood parks incorporating resilient stormwater systems and expanding kayak access for low- and middleincome residents. That’s the first public housing redevelopment I have seen involving small boats—appropriate for a region that loves water.

Called the Mid-City Neighborhood Transformation, the Choice Neighborhoods project includes 20,000 square feet of retail on the ground floors of buildings, accommodating local entrepreneurs and businesses, an equity center, spaces for social service providers, and community

gathering and meeting rooms. All are moving forward, in addition to other neighborhood-scale projects, including downtown revitalization.

‘Large-scale neighborhood infill is planned to diversify incomes, add housing in walking distance to amenities, and attract new amenities into existing neighborhoods, including space for local businesses, non-profit organizations, and community gathering,’ the team explains.”

The CNU article and the award also highlight the community engagement that lies at the heart of Just Imagine SWLA, with over 7,300 comments that helped shape its direction. Steuteville also mentions Bayou Greenbelt, which will serve a dual purpose by providing recreational opportunities while bolstering flood defenses.

Just Imagine SWLA paves the way for a more resilient and equitable future for Southwest Louisiana. By fostering collaboration and investing in strategic initiatives, the region is ready to face challenges and poised to thrive in the decades to come, offering a promising future for all.

To learn more, visit and sign up for the e-newsletter. 45

Places & Faces | Goal Getters

Sowing The Seeds of Preservation

It is impossible to discuss preservation and adaptive reuse in Lake Charles without mentioning the names Rick and Donna Richard. The Lake Charles High School alumni, whose careers took them away from Lake Charles for some time, eventually found their way home, ready to achieve a goal of leaving their community better than they found it.

Their journey started many years ago and has led the Richards down a path that has taken their love of Lake Charles and each other to a completely new level of making a positive impact on the city.

“Donna and I were long-term residents of Lake Charles when I was fortunate enough to be asked by her to the TWIRP dance at Lake Charles High School,” explains Rick Richard, president of Empire of the Seed Consulting. “I fell in love with her, and though I went away to LSU and she remained at McNeese, she accepted my request to marry me (whew lucky me)! After law school we moved to Washington D.C. to begin a journey that would bring us to a number of jobs around the country.”

The Richards would find much success on their journey around the country, and after decades away, answered the call to return home.

“After 30 years away from Lake Charles and after accumulating some wealth, we returned with a renewed interest in, as I say from my Boy Scout experience, ‘to leave our campsite better than we found it,’” says Richard. “Historic preservation became our major

interest, with Donna serving a lead role in historical organizations.”

Their umbrella organization, Empire of the Seed, aims to preserve and regenerate the best of the past, while contributing to a clean, sustainable future.

To date the Richard’s have restored and repurposed the Cash and Carry Building in the Nellie Lutcher Cultural District, the Calcasieu Marine National Bank, and the Noble Building in downtown Lake Charles. As a testament to the city’s rise from the ashes of the Great Fire of 1910, the Richards also built The Phoenix Building at the corner of Ryan and Kirby Streets.

“The Phoenix Building is a reflection of our love for downtown Lake Charles,” adds Richard. “It’s where Donna and I both worked at the now gone Pitt Theater.”

The Richards are currently in a bit of what one could call their swan song. Construction is in the early stages on Iris Hall and Birdcage Café on Kirby Street, which Richard says will complete their contribution to the downtown area.

Their love for Southwest Louisiana will be reflected in one of their other final projects,

The Chadwater. This 66-acre site south of Lake Charles, located in what Richard describes as a lovely pastoral setting, will commemorate the vision of Chad and Jan Thielen. This project includes an event center as well as the restoration of Cajun Prairie plantings.

“Although this may be the completion of our building

vision, there is certainly room for additional add-ons to our programs at our sites,” reflects Richard. “The campfire is still glowing.”

For more information on the Richards’ projects, visit

46 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024
The Chadwater 47 Preserving and regenerating the best of the past while contributing to a clean, sustainable future For more information, visit or contact Empire of the Seed at 337.310.0405

Places & Faces

Johnson Funeral Home in Lake Charles opened its doors in October 1976 with Zeb Johnson as the owner and sole funeral director. Johnson, a former police officer, investigator and coroner, opened the funeral home with one chapel, two staterooms and a small residence for his family.

Fast forward nearly 50 years, and that original funeral home has not only been expanded multiple times, but the Johnson Family of Funeral Homes is now operated by three generations of Johnsons and includes six locations across Southwest Louisiana, making it the region’s largest, family-owned funeral home.

Zeb Johnson remains actively involved in its operations, providing experienced leadership to his daughter, son-in-law, and grandson, who lead their dedicated team of over 60 funeral professionals.

Zeb’s daughter Wendy serves in an ownership

role, and her husband Andy Hankins is the CEO, overseeing everything from training and strategy to daily operations. “I came into Johnson with a strong corporate background, but nothing in my previous 16 years of experience compares to the culture and service excellence Zeb created here,” says Andy. “We all take great pride in sharing the same traditional values as the community we serve, and it’s extremely fulfilling to work together as a family to care for families.”

Graham Hankins, Wendy and Andy’s son, joined Johnson as CFO in 2019. While earning his degree in financial management with a minor in accounting from Clemson University in South Carolina, Graham says the idea of doing the same thing day after day did not appeal. “My father and grandfather had expressed a need for help with the financial side of the business as it continued to grow. The proposal they made

included the accounting, financial management and acquisitions, which offered me the chance to do more than any entry level position at an accounting firm. And, both my father and grandfather had mentored me from a young age in business, so working alongside them sounded like an opportunity to continue to learn from them.”

Both Graham and Andy say caring for families during a time of loss is the most rewarding aspect of their work. “As a Christian, serving is something I consider a pillar of my faith,” says Graham. “Being able to care for someone who is going through a hard time and make that situation easier fills my cup.”

He adds that working with his family every day has been a “fun adventure,” explaining, “We face a lot of challenges at work, and don’t always agree, but the most surprising part to me since is how

48 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024
by Kristy Como Armand

well we manage the balance between work and home.”

Graham says he recognizes and respects the responsibility of following in their founder’s footsteps. “It’s very humbling for me to see the reaction from the community when they realize I am Zeb’s grandson. People are comforted because he did it well for so long. It’s an honor for me to continue that legacy, which means so much to him and the community.”

In addition to new locations, Johnson has also expanded services throughout its history, building the Lake Charles Crematory facility in 2001, which made them the largest crematory operator in Southwest Louisiana. As an extension of this service, the Pet Angels pet cremation program was added. In response to community need, a full-service pre-arrangement department is available at Johnson, along with Medicare coverage consultations.

“Cremation and technology are changing the industry every year,” adds Graham. “I hope to continue to innovate and serve our families in the manner they prefer. Additionally, I hope to expand and grow to serve more communities in Southwest Louisiana. Every community deserves to have a funeral home that will care for them like family.”

Learn more at

Johnson Funeral Home— Celebrating Life in Southwest Louisiana

Family-owned and operated for nearly 50 Years


more families chose

serve Southwest

and sole

for their funeral needs, staff, locations and services were added. 49
Johnson Funeral Home first opened its doors to Louisiana families in 1976, with Zeb Johnson as owner Funeral Director. As Johnson
Today, Johnson is the largest, locally-owned funeral home, proudly operated by three generations of the Johnson family and offering the region’s most comprehensive, personalized bereavement and funeral services:
Johnson Funeral Home Lake Charles Simple Traditions Lake Charles Johnson Funeral Home Moss Bluff Johnson & Robinson Funeral Home Sulphur
Miguez Funeral Home Jennings Lake Arthur Chapel Lake Arthur

Places & Faces | Goal Getters

For over 15 years, Malana LaCombe has been a guiding light for individuals striving to meet their financial goals, offering her expertise as the financial counseling specialist for Southwest Louisiana Credit Union, where certified financial counselors provide their services at no charge.

LaCombe works daily with people of all ages, income, and circumstances. She says the most common challenge with personal finance is when someone attempts to live beyond their means.


As a basic rule of thumb, LaCombe says, “It’s best to have three to six times your gross monthly income of savings in reserve.” That’s tough for many Americans to do, so she advises to start small by saving at least $500 toward it. LaCombe says financial goals of any kind should be realistic. “You can’t save enough money in a year to buy a $300,000 house if your salary is $30,000 a year. But you can have measurable goals that are doable in the time frame that you need. Make sure you’re working within a time frame. If you want to build or buy a house, set a deadline: ‘In three years, I want to be in my own home.’ That way, you’ll be working toward that goal every day.”

LaCombe teaches three types of savings goals:

• Short-term. “Aim to save three to six months of pay. You never know what might happen to you. At least have $500 to $1,000 for emergencies.”

• Medium-term, such as paying off or paying down a credit card, a loan or small debt.

• Long-term, such as buying a house or building your retirement fund.


Spending is always a major factor in finances. “I see parents about to go broke trying to give their kids everything the other kids have. Lululemon, Drunk Elephant skincare, Xbox, PlayStation, and shoes,” LaCombe says. “Parents don’t have to spend down to their last dollar. Don’t go broke trying to give your children materialistic things. It’s okay for parents to say no.”

Credit card debt can be difficult to manage. “If you have a low balance on a credit card and you’re not really paying too much in interest, then pay a little more than the minimum,” LaCombe advises. “However, if you have $15,000 to $30,000 in credit card debt on cards that charge almost 30 percent interest, you absolutely want to pay that down — because interest is money you’re throwing away.”

She also suggests always looking for a better interest rate. “Do a balance transfer,” she said. “Apply for a credit card at an introductory rate, like a zero percent-interest promotional offer, but keep making the same payment you already do. You’ll reduce your debt faster.”


Many people in their 50s and 60s have concerns about their retirement funds. First, the sooner a person starts a 401(k), the better, she said. But if you’re 55 to 60, you need to up your game if you have concerns. Ideally, you should have your debt completely paid off. If not, however — and many people have not paid off their house by retirement — consider opening a second IRA, switching to higher-yield savings accounts such as money market accounts and CDs, or choosing investments with higher risk but the opportunity for higher yield.


Other challenges include having personal loans, or balances on multiple credit cards with interest rates that can run to 29 percent or higher. Manage these challenges with a debt consolidation loan to pay off unsecured debt through a single monthly payment at a lower rate. Refinance a car note, depending on the equity in a car, or a home mortgage. Apply for a home equity line of credit (HELOC). Or “cashout refi,” using the equity in their home to pay down debt.

LaCombe also counsels people who are concerned about whether they have enough credit history because they want to qualify for an auto loan or be on track to buy a house. She recommends a “health checkup,” where she helps people look at the best ways to spend and save money. “Whatever your situation, look for ways to save money and cut spending,” she said. “Cut back on dining out. Consider how much you’re spending on streaming services and other entertainment subscriptions.”

“We have free financial counseling [at Southwest Louisiana Credit Union],” says LaCombe. “We work one-on-one, looking at income, debt, and spending — and we see what we can get reduced for you.”

LaCombe believes financial strength leads to financial freedom. “Financial freedom is peace,” she said. “Peace means having a happier and healthier life.”

For more information, visit financial-counseling.

50 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024 51

Places & Faces |

Founded in 1984, Leadership Southwest Louisiana is a program of the SWLA Economic Development Alliance formed to prepare a diverse group of professionals that represent the five-parish region over the course of one year to become leaders in our region. Forty years later, there are more than 950 graduates of the program, many of whom serve in leadership positions with their employers, on boards, commissions, and hold federal, state, and local public offices.

“The future of Southwest Louisiana is tied directly to the quality and voluntary contributions of its leadership,” Michelle McInnis, senior vice president at the SWLA Economic Development Alliance said. “In recognition of the need to develop leaders for the future who have a clear understanding of the region and are committed to its advancement, we take a group of 30 men and women and expose them to key areas of concern—education, infrastructure, economic drivers of our region, cultural and personal diversity, city and state government, and regional collaboration. As graduates, they leave the program with first-hand knowledge of the issues facing our area and the potential for a positive community experience through volunteerism.”

Employers value the program because it allows them to nurture employees who show leadership potential for their companies. “As an employer, Leadership Southwest Louisiana engages our employees that we send to the program in a profound way,” said Christina Joyce Wilson, director of human resources for the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury.

“Not only does the program give them exposure to key community issues, but it also connects them with other thought leaders. We look forward to sponsoring an existing or emerging leader from our organization each year. We see it as an opportunity to invest in our people that will in turn invest in our community, all while making them a more well-rounded leader for our organization.”

Session topics are based on key components inherent in the daily lives of the people of the Southwest Louisiana area and are conducted by recognized leaders whose decisions affect the region in areas of economic and business development, quality of life, workforce development, human services, education, government, coastal restoration, and infrastructure.

The curriculum is designed using a variety of resources, learning

techniques and experienced-based training sessions to accomplish the following goals:

• To seek out, train and promote high achievers for positions of voluntary responsibility in the community.

• To provide these developing leaders with practical information concerning community issues and assets.

• To establish a communication network among the existing and emerging leaders of the community.

• To challenge these leaders to increase their involvement in community affairs.

“I decided to apply for the program after hearing numerous class alumni speak highly of their experiences,” says Joseph (JP) Booth, communication & media assistant director with the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury and current participant in the Class of 2024. “The Leadership Southwest Louisiana program not only provides an exceptional opportunity for individual experience and growth, but also facilitates networking between an impressive collection of public and private agencies, which in turn fosters a more unified region. I have enjoyed

learning from industry experts and connecting with other leaders in our community, and I look forward to using this experience to contribute towards the growth and collaboration of the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury and all of Southwest Louisiana.”

The process begins with a very competitive application process for individuals from public and private agencies, corporations, civic and other organizations, nonprofits or small businesses. All applications are scored based on demonstrated leadership ability through career or community achievements, concern for the future of the Southwest Louisiana area, and commitment to the program.

The Leadership Southwest Louisiana Council, composed of alumni members, recommends candidates based on a cross-section of the community in terms of occupation, gender, race, age, affiliations, and affinities, as well as completeness and competitiveness of the application.

Applications for the Class of 2025 will open August 1, 2024. For more information on the Leadership Southwest Louisiana program, contact McInnis at 337-433-3632 or mmcinnis@

52 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024


The beginning of construction on the LNG Center of Excellence at McNeese State University was celebrated with a groundbreaking ceremony last month at the campus site, 115 W. Sale Road in Lake Charles. Leadership from McNeese State University, elected officials, industry representatives and project contractors participated in the event.

“The LNG Center of Excellence at McNeese will serve as a hub for research, workforce development and safety, and as a depository for best practices for the industry,” says Jason French, the Center’s executive director. “This Center will be a point of pride for all of Louisiana, and it will establish McNeese and its partners as thought leaders in the LNG space.”

The center began with a $2.8 million grant from the United States Department of Commerce in 2021 and has evolved into a transformative project with support from public and private partners that will serve as the premier national

center for training, research and collaboration on LNG issues.

In 2022, McNeese began offering an undergraduate certificate in Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Business, the first of its kind program in the nation, and the first educational program of the new center. “We developed this program to address the growing expansion of the LNG industry in Southwest Louisiana,” says McNeese President Dr. Daryl Burckel. “This certificate will prepare students who wish to increase their business knowledge about the industry.”

“The strategic and mutually beneficial partnership between the center and the McNeese College of Science, Engineering and Mathematics is a win not just for McNeese, but for all of Louisiana and the growing LNG industry,” says McNeese President-Elect Dr. Wade Rousse. “Our students will complete fit-forpurpose custom courses and training, while LNG employees and McNeese faculty will conduct

research necessary to support the sustainability and resilience of the regional LNG industry.”

The center will include classrooms and industrial grade training facilities where both McNeese students and LNG employees can learn while operating process equipment in a safe, controlled environment. Additionally, it will feature facilities to host industry-related conferences, seminars and media events.

Despite regulatory uncertainty, LNG export facilities are expected to continue their growth trajectory, dramatically increasing the demand for local operations and engineers in the LNG industry as well as the need for applied research and continuing education for LNG facility employees.

The 23,000 square-foot facility was designed by Kudla Architecture and the contractor for the project is Keiland Construction. Anticipated completion is 3rd quarter of 2025.

Capital One Tower Slated for Demolition

The end is in sight for the Hertz Tower, more commonly known as the Capital One Tower. Rendered unusable after Hurricane Laura’s fury in 2020, Mayor Nic Hunter and the City of Lake Charles, as well as the citizens of this community, have been waiting for nearly four years for the building’s owners, Hertz Investment Group, to make a decision on what to do with what is now an eyesore and an embarrassment to the city.

Mayor Nic Hunter announced at a press conference last month that the structure is slated for demolition. “It’s important to remember that the City of Lake Charles does not own this building and we can’t dictate what happens to it,” he said. “My administration did get involved after the destruction from Hurricane Laura on a couple fronts.

One, we were concerned about the ultimate end game of this building. If all options for rehabilitation did not come to fruition, we wanted to make sure there was private money set aside to take care of demolition if that day did indeed come. We wanted to ensure it wasn’t taxpayer dollars that would spend millions of dollars to demolish the structure. We were successful in that. We had money set aside from the private insurance settlement.”

The City of Lake Charles also got involved with multiple private developers. “We sat down with a dozen developers and private individuals and discussed options for rehabilitation,” said Hunter. “We offered assistance. We offered incentives. Ultimately, private industry was not able to save this building.”

Mayor Nic Hunter says that other cities are going through similar situations with defunct buildings like this. For examples, the AT&T Building in St. Louis and the Plaza Tower in New Orleans, untouched since Hurricane Katrina, are a blight on these cities. The difference is, these cities do not have the private funding for demolition.

Though the City of Lake Charles does not own the Hertz Tower, Mayor Nic Hunter assures the community that when it does come down,

the process will be a safe, secure, and organized event. Conversations will continue between the City and the general contractor hired by the City, the demolition contractor, as well as a demolition consultant. “We’re going to make sure all public and private properties around the structure and certainly all individuals are safe and secure.” Mayor Nic Hunter acknowledges that many had hoped the building would be salvaged. But he adds that as that building sits there today, it is an eyesore. It is blight. “It’s time to move on.”

While preliminary work at the site was expected to begin last month, the actual demolition should take place late August or early September.

“I cannot promise you what will replace the structure, but I can promise you that whatever replaces it will be better than what we’re looking at today,” Hunter said. The property lies within the Downtown Development District, which means there are ordinances and parameters which will encourage the space to be used for something that complements the City.

Mayor Nic Hunter says we should look at the demolition of this structure as an opportunity. “We will find a way to move on.” 53

Movers and Shakers in Southwest Louisiana...

Four Students Awarded CSE Federal Credit Union Scholarship

During the CSE Federal Credit Union's (CSE) 80th Annual Meeting, the CSE’s Community Foundation awarded $1,000 scholarships to four recent high school graduates to support their college or vocational education. The recipients are Michael O’Brien, Tova Husers, Bailey Waters, and Lainee Landry.

Michael O’Brien, a senior at Jennings High School, serves as treasurer for the Future Farmers of America chapter and is on the tennis team. He plans to attend Louisiana Tech this fall, majoring in biomedical engineering.

Tova Husers, also from Jennings High School, participates in the Octagon Club, Foreign Language Club, Jennings High Jazzers and is a member of First Baptist Church Jennings (FBCJ) Youth. She is set to study biology at the University of Louisiana Monroe.

Bailey Waters will graduate from Barbe High School, where she is an officer in the National Honor Society, state member of the cross-country team, and a karate instructor for children. She intends to major in kinesiology at McNeese State University.

Lainee Landry, involved in several activities at Lacassine High School including Future Business Leaders of America, French Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, National Beta Club, Student Council, the tennis team and the cheerleading squad. She plans to pursue early childhood education at McNeese State University.

The “Smart Future” Scholarship recipients are chosen by Scholarship Management Services based on their academic records, leadership, community involvement, work experience, and personal statements. CSE Federal Credit Union staff does not participate in the selection process.

For more information, contact Morgan Martel, Marketing Communications Specialist, at 337.562.3161, or visit CSE is insured by NCUA. Membership and eligibility are required.

Lake Charles Memorial Health System Announces New Chief Medical Officer

Lake Charles Memorial Health System welcomes William A. Brown, MD, MHA, as the new chief medical officer. In this role he will be instrumental in aligning clinical best practices across three hospitals, 30+ clinic locations, and oversee clinical quality assurance of over 600 credentialed medical staff members.

Dr. Brown received his medical degree from Louisiana State University Medical Center—Shreveport in Shreveport, LA, where he also spent his residency training in general surgery. While still in Shreveport, he completed a fellowship in colon and rectal surgery and is board certified in Colon and Rectal Surgery by the American Board of Surgery. He most recently earned a Master of Healthcare Administration from Louisiana State University—Shreveport.

Dr. Brown is named CMO after the retirement of Manley Jordan, MD, who has led the health system as CMO since 2016, after practicing with Memorial Pulmonary Associates since 2004. As a pulmonologist by trade and by his commitment to medical excellence, Dr. Jordan brought immense value to LCMHS and will be greatly missed.

JD BANK Promotes Kayla Robinson to Vice President

JD Bank is pleased to announce the promotion of Kayla Robinson to vice president. Kayla is the Branch Manager and a consumer lender for the Highway 14 and Morganfield Branches in Lake Charles. Robinson oversees the day-to-day operations of these full-service branches, in addition to her role as a consumer lender for the local community.

Robinson joined the JD Bank team in 2013 as part of the Management Trainee Program and served as AVP

Assistant Office Manager and a consumer lender at our McNeese Branch, prior to her promotion in October 2020 to AVP Branch Manager and consumer lender for the Highway 14 and Morganfield offices. She is a graduate of the Louisiana Bankers Association Leadership School, Bankers School for Supervisory Training, and Leadership Southwest.

A graduate of McNeese State University, Robinson is a member of the North Lake Charles Kiwanis Club and Zeta Phi Beta sorority.

54 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024
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William A. Brown M.D. Tova Husers
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Lainee Landry Bailey Waters Michael O'Brien

First Federal Bank Announces Promotions

The Board of Directors of First Federal Bank of Louisiana has announced several officer promotions.

Mallie Bowers, director of Human Resources, has been promoted to senior vice president.

Matthew Knighton, Lender and Sulphur branch manager, has been promoted to vice president.

Melissa Dickson, CRA manager, has been promoted to assistant vice president.

Veronica Declues, collections manager, has been promoted to bank officer.

John Faust, internal auditor, has been promoted to bank officer.

Visit to learn more. Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender.

Police Jury Names Interim District 15 Police Juror

The Calcasieu Parish Police Jury unanimously appointed Brent Clement as interim District 15 police juror at a May 20 Special Meeting. He takes over the seat of Tony Tramonte, 54, who unexpectedly passed away on Monday, April 29. It’s a role with which Clement is more than familiar – he held the District 12 seat from 2000-2008. He also served as interim District 12 police juror from June 2011 until January 2012, filling the unexpired term of Ellis Hassien, who had resigned.

“I am honored to have been chosen by the police jury to represent and serve the people of District 15. It is a great responsibility,” Clement said. “I am committed to upholding the values and principles of Tony Tramonte, and I will work to ensure that our Parish continues to thrive."

A special election will be held on Nov. 5, 2024, and, if necessary, on Saturday, Dec. 7 (runoff) to fill the remaining unexpired period of the current police jury term, which ends in 2027.

LT. Governor Nungesser Appoints Sulphur Businessman

Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser has appointed Sulphur businessman Stuart Moss to serve on the Louisiana Board of Commerce and Industry. Moss served the previous four years on the board as an appointee of the governor’s office.

The Louisiana Board of Commerce and Industry is made up of 24 members who meet bimonthly to consider applications from business entities seeking approval for tax incentives such as the Enterprise Zone, Industrial Tax Exemption, Quality Jobs, and Restoration Tax Abatement.

A native of Sulphur and graduate of McKinley College, Moss has served as a Louisiana State Representative for District 33 and Sulphur City Councilman.

Rachelle Fruge Earns SHRM-CP

Rachelle Fruge, human resources generalist with Allen Parish Community Healthcare, is now a Society of Human Resources Management Certified Professional (SHRM-CP©). SHRM-CP© is the gold standard in human resources credentials and is recognized across the industry as a distinction of expertise.

Fruge is a Kinder, Louisiana native and has over 20 years of experience in human resources. 55
Mallie Bowers Melissa Dickson Matthew Knighton Stuart Moss Veronica Dedues John Faust
Locally owned and operated for over 30 years DOCUMENT SOLUTIONS FOR BUSINESS copiers • scanners • printers • fax • shredders 600 W McNeese Street, Lake Charles | (337) 474-9913
Brent Clement Rachelle Fruge

Special Section

It’s been four years since Southwest Louisiana has experienced a major hurricane and though many are still in the process of recovering from the 2020 storms, most of us are breathing a bit easier . . . but we never let down our guard. The importance of being vigilant and prepared for that inevitable next disaster is never far from our minds during hurricane season (June 1 to November 30).

This annual Hurricane Guide intends to get you thinking about what you might need to do now to potentially make life easier later. You’ll also find a couple human interest stories about people who have been impacted by weather in a variety of ways.

56 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024

Weather Experts Predict an Active Hurricane Season

As of last month, four scientifically sound meteorological groups have announced their predictions for the 2024 hurricane season. Their predictions are very similar and suggest a higher-than-average hurricane, or cyclone, season, with approximately 23 named storms, a unanimous 11 hurricanes, and 5-6 major hurricanes. For Southwest Louisiana (SWLA) specifically, the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University predicts an 84% probability of a tropical storm, 56% probability of a hurricane, and 23% probability of a major hurricane in SWLA.

Donald Jones, meteorologist with the Lake Charles branch of the National Weather Service (NOAA), expects the 2024 Atlantic Hurricane Season will likely be much more active than normal due to three primary factors:

1. The ongoing record warm sea surface temperatures across the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Warmer sea surface temperatures support stronger and more rapidly intensifying tropical cyclones.

2. The transition of the southern oscillation from an El Nino phase to a La Nina phase (already underway). Historically, this has been the most active period for tropical cyclones in the Atlantic basin.

3. Supportive phases of other global scale wind and sea patterns. Similar to El Nino, these patterns change on the order of weeks to years but are generally in favorable phases for low pressure development in the Atlantic basin.



• Federal government:

“Naturally, it stands to reason that with more developing tropical cyclones, the probability of Southwest Louisiana being struck is higher this year than it would be in normal or below normal seasons,” Jones says. “While some tropical cyclones develop far from land and can be tracked for days or weeks, others can and have developed near land in a matter of a day or less. There is no guarantee that an area will have several days to prepare for an approaching tropical cyclone. That's why it's essential to prepare in advance. Have both an evacuation plan and a shelter in place plan ready for yourself and your loved ones.”

How do you decide whether to evacuate or not? Jones says that while maximum wind speed is used to measure the strength of a hurricane, the vast majority of hurricane related deaths (76%) are a result of water both from storm surge

and torrential rainfall. “Our advice is to ‘run from the water and hide from the wind.’ If an area is known to be susceptible to flooding or is expected to flood, evacuation is the only logical choice. Tropical cyclones are a part of life on the Gulf Coast, but by having a plan, you ensure safety and a faster recovery should we find ourselves the target of another hurricane this year.”

• American Red Cross:

• The Salvation Army:

• Louisiana government:

• New Orleans:

• Getagameplan:

• Homeland Security/Emergency Preparedness: EMERGENCY-PREPAREDNESS-GUIDE. Includes links to Spanish and Vietnamese versions

THE 2024 NAMES 57
Alberto Beryl Chris Debby Ernesto Francine Gordon Helene Isaac Joyce Kirk Leslie Milton Nadine Oscar Patty Rafael Sara Tony William by Angie Kay Dilmore

Fortifying the Grid Utility Companies Prepare for Hurricane Season

Those of us who live in Louisiana embrace all the joie-de-vivre our state offers . . . good food, good music, and passing a good time. However, living so close to the Gulf Coast, we also experience the not-sogood times that come with devastating weather events. We grow weary being the perennial victims of tropical storms, hurricanes, floods, ice storms, and other major weather hazards. When these occur, we either evacuate or hunker down, often without access to our electric or gas utilities. Living without power makes recovery miserable, or inconvenient at the very least. And utility providers obviously cannot control the weather. What are their latest plans for securing our fragile utility infrastructure to deal with nature’s unpredictability?


This past April, the Louisiana Public Service Commission approved Entergy Louisiana’s spending proposal for the first phase of its “Future Ready Resilience Plan.” The vote allows Entergy to charge $1.9 billion to its customers to pay for “grid-hardening” projects. Some critics of the plan claim it should include a wider variety of data-driven solutions, according to the website lailluminator. com. However, Entergy Senior Communication Specialist, David Freese, says that recent data demonstrates that Entergy “is on an upward trajectory across its service territory in Louisiana, with the company achieving a remarkable 22% statewide improvement in electric service reliability from 2022 to 2023. This significant leap forward, measured by

data that includes how often the average customer experiences an interruption outside of major weather events, shows that Entergy's multifaceted approach to operating, maintaining, strengthening, and upgrading the electric system is working.”

Entergy Louisiana executive Larry Hand appeared before the Public Service Commission in April to present the company’s latest projects, which includes replacing or upgrading approximately 69,000 utility poles and other structures across the state. Entergy Louisiana spokesman Brandon Scardigli says, “In total, the plan will strengthen approximately 3,238 miles of power line. Further, the plan includes approximately 100 miles of underground power lines, roughly 3% of the total line being strengthened.”

Consumer advocacy groups like the Alliance for Affordable Energy want to ensure that consumers will benefit from the approved price increases. Their job is to sift through the proposal’s details to determine what kinds of projects will be delivered and to determine how utility companies, like Entergy, prioritize their projects. Why, for example, are both over- and underground utility poles being used? They cite the decreases in power outages in other Gulf Coast states like Florida that have gone underground. This debate is hardly new in the electric utility sector, but Entergy notes that digging and entrenching on the front end means the costs can range from 4-14 times more expensive than replacing overhead lines. There are also long-term maintenance

58 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024 Special Section |

costs to consider, especially in a state where significant flooding often occurs.

But underground is not off the table, Scardigli continues. “Undergrounding is significantly more expensive, however by undergrounding strategically, we can harden more for the same level of investment. We received stakeholder and expert feedback about the costs and benefits, and to keep prices down, but still deliver meaningful resilience, a combination of strategic undergrounding and overhead hardening has been determined to provide the most affordable resilience solution for our customers.”

While celebrating the strides made in strengthening electric service reliability, Entergy understands the evolving challenges posed by intensifying weather events. “As storms grow in frequency and ferocity, the imperative to fortify the grid becomes even more pressing,” Freese says. “Looking ahead, Entergy remains steadfast in its commitment to safeguarding the communities it serves and bolstering local economies against future storms.” Freese invites Entergy’s customers to find additional updates at brightfuturela.


In the wake of Hurricane Laura, Beauregard Electric Co-op Inc. (BECi) undertook a monumental task to reconstruct and fortify the power grid. The company strove not only to restore, but also enhance, the reliability and resilience of the power infrastructure.

Post-Hurricane Laura, BECi mobilized its workforce, deploying teams of skilled technicians and engineers to assess the extent of the damage and execute a comprehensive restoration plan. Despite such obstacles such as downed power lines, flooded substations, and widespread debris, BECi personnel worked around the clock to restore power. But BECi's efforts didn't stop at mere restoration.

Recognizing the need for long-term resilience, BECi implemented strategic upgrades and reinforcements to mitigate future risks. This included:

• Replacing outdated equipment with state-of-the-art technology.

• Reinforcing power poles and transmission towers.

• Putting vegetation management programs in place to reduce localized outages caused by falling tree limbs. This was also impacted by last year’s fires and drought.

BECi not only rebuilt the power grid, but also fostered a sense of unity and collaboration within the community. “We’ll always be grateful for the power providers from all over the country who sent trucks and crews to help restore power in our service area,” said Kay Fox, vice president of marketing and member services.

“We’re stronger now than we were before Hurricane Laura. We’ve also upgraded this year to a new texting system that gives members real-time information about outages and restoration of service when there are storms and other weatherrelated outages.”

The power of progress.

Linemen in the sky. Team members on the ground. We work hard every day to deliver reliable electric power.

We’re proud to celebrate 85 years of service. 59

Cool Jobs

Chanelle Stigger

As a young child, Chanelle Stigger’s favorite television show was The Weather Channel (TWC). Her elementary school years were spent in Atlanta, Georgia, so she was able to tour TWC and CNN headquarters, even speaking to a meteorologist at CNN. In late middle school, her family moved to Las Vegas, and in high school, she shadowed forecasters at the National Weather Service (NWS) there. While at North Carolina A&T State University, where she studied atmospheric sciences and meteorology and double minored in applied mathematics and physics, she had two summer internships through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) EPP/Hollings Program –

one in Maryland with the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) and the other in Missouri with the Aviation Weather Center. “Through these opportunities, I networked with several NWS employees and learned more about the weather service from an insider's perspective,” she says.

Stigger, currently a senior NOAA meteorologist, has worked at NWS Lake Charles for five years. She creates forecasts; issues watches, warnings, and advisories for the public, pilots, and mariners in Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana; and provides ImpactBased Decision Support Services (IDSS) forecasts to core partners such as emergency managers and local officials. Other than these typical duties, Stigger also enjoys

outreach activities that take her outside the office. “These vary from interacting with the public, to educating local communities about the weather, to giving school talks, and more.”

Another favorite part of her job? Stigger loves launching the weather balloon! It’s been her long-time habit to attach friendly, inspirational notes to the “sonde” (the weather package that hangs from the balloon and transmits data back to the forecasters). In those dark days after Hurricane Laura, her notes became more hopeful. “I decided to write things that would cheer me up if I found them,” she says. “One message read, ‘We will rebuild, stay strong’ and was found by a woman in Lafayette. It was the first time someone notified me that one of my sondes was found. I was elated

when she told me it made her day. That’s why I do it. If you find one of my sondes, I want it to put a smile on your face.”

Not being native to Southwest Louisiana, Stigger says she was surprised to learn “we can get a little bit of everything down here: tropical storms, flooding, heat/humidity, severe weather, you name it. However, we’ve also seen bitter cold wind chills, subfreezing temperatures, ice storms, and wildfires. While they are not common, they do happen. It’s a challenge, but it keeps things exciting.”

Meteorology can be stressful, especially in times of severe weather. But Stigger says these times are among the most poignant. “When we weather a storm together and put forth our

60 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024 Special Section |

best efforts during stressful events, then see good results, it is rewarding. When I issue a warning with enough lead time for someone to dodge severe weather or forecast hurricane conditions to give people enough time to prepare and evacuate, I make a difference in their lives. It’s rewarding to know that my passion for weather helps keep people safe.”

For those interested in becoming a meteorologist, Stigger recommends shadowing forecasters, volunteering at a NWS office, or touring their facility. “Specifically for college students, the Pathways Program or Hollings / EPP programs are great ways to get your foot in the door and gain fantastic firsthand experience.” 61

Recovery Spotlight Shayne Laughlin State Farm Agency

Almost four years after Hurricanes Laura and Delta, many of us are still in recovery mode. For State Farm Agent Shayne Laughlin, there’s finally a light at the end of a long tunnel.

“At the time of Hurricane Laura, we owned the State Farm property at 4344 Lake St., and Lake Street Liquor at 4336 Lake St.,” Laughlin says. “Lake Street Liquor was a total loss. The roof was ripped off and the inventory had major damage due to temperature and water. The State Farm office had a third of the roof ripped off and turned upside down, and it had fallen into the building. The windows were also blown out.”

In addition, there were personal losses. “Our home was also 80% gutted. Most of the roof was missing, and the brick was pulled from the house and landed on both AC units. The water well was gone, the gas line was broken, the fence was down, and the garage door was MIA.” With five children, Laughlin and her husband had

to scramble to find a place to live. “The Monday after the hurricane, we moved into a rent house in Crowley and signed the kids up for school,” she recalls.

They then returned to Lake St. and rolled up their sleeves. “We cleaned up the office and boarded windows,” Laughlin says. “We pulled up flooring and got to work taking claims information. We recruited friends to help us move the remaining inventory from the liquor store by hand into the State Farm building because there were no storage facilities available.”

Laughlin recalls that one of the biggest challenges during recovery was getting to and from Lake Charles each day. “My husband is a

State Farm adjuster, so we both had a duty to be here. The traffic alone made the commutes two to three hours one way. Our second largest challenge was finding food and gas. We were fortunate to have a generator for the State Farm building, but we did not have a stove and no place to shower after working outside or visiting customers’ homes to assess damages.”

Another hurdle to overcome was finding a qualified contractor to repair their building – a problem everyone in the area faced.

“The generosity of other State Farm agents and community groups offering meals helped us tremendously, but we survived on granola bars most days,” Laughlin remembers. “And as far as showering goes, I think everyone in Lake Charles

62 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024 Special Section |

expected you to be sweaty, as there were few options!”

Through all the stress and struggle, Laughlin says their faith remained intact. “No matter how bad things seem, there is always a silver lining, even if you have to squint to see it.”

And there was a stroke of luck. “Once we were able to start rebuilding, an opportunity arose for us to purchase property two lots to the north of our original building,” Laughlin says. “This put us in a position to create a space for two new businesses at our original location and for one additional business at the new location.”

For the past two-plus years, while waiting for the new office to be completed, Laughlin’s team of nine had been working out of a 1,000 square foot space. “There were no walls to separate the desks, no kitchen, and only one toilet and lavatory,” she says. “On April 15 of this year we moved into our new office – and it’s a game changer.”

In learning from the lessons of the past, the Laughlins created a space that’s not only beautiful and comfortable, but fortified and functional. “We reinforced the roof, installed a large gas generator, put in a full kitchen and bathroom with shower and even purchased a

sleeper sofa for the breakroom. If disaster strikes again, we will have a place we can continue to work in – as well as live in – if necessary.”

For more information, contact Shayne Laughlin State Farm Agency, 4328 Lake St., 70605, (337) 477-7354, 63 AUTO-HOME-LIFE-HEALTH FINANCIAL SERVICES In your corner and around the corner! 4328 Lake Street Lake Charles, LA 337.477.7354 Shayne M. Laughlin, ChFC
64 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024 Special Section | 1 of 122 National Weather Service (NWS) Lake Charles is NWS forecast offices across the U.S. 24/7/365 Hours of operation 2 Number of weather balloon releases per day. more in severe weather 21 17employees including meteorologists 1996 Year the current office opened 33% of meteorologists at NWS Lake Charles are female (higher than average for the weather industry) 50 Number of communitybased hurricane preparedness meetings annually 500 Airport Blvd., Lake Charles, 70607 337-477-5285 DOZENS of weather talks given to local schools and community groups annually 65 Plan Ahead & Prepare Now. Jennifer Mabou (337) 527-0027 • 1633 Beglis Parkway, Sulphur JENNIFERMABOU.COM HURRICANE SEASON BEGINS ON JUNE 1 Voted #1 Insurance Agent in SWLA Plan Ahead & Prepare Now. Jennifer Mabou (337) 527-0027 • 1633 Beglis Parkway, Sulphur JENNIFERMABOU.COM HURRICANE SEASON BEGINS ON JUNE 1 Plan Ahead & Prepare (337) 527-0027 • 1633 Beglis Parkway, Sulphur JENNIFERMABOU.COM HURRICANE SEASON BEGINS ON JUNE 1 Plan Ahead & Prepare Now. Jennifer Mabou (337) 527-0027 • 1633 Beglis Parkway, Sulphur JENNIFERMABOU.COM HURRICANE SEASON BEGINS ON JUNE 1 Voted #1 Insurance Agent in SWLA Plan Ahead & Prepare Now. Jennifer Mabou (337) 527-0027 • 1633 Beglis Parkway, Sulphur JENNIFERMABOU.COM HURRICANE SEASON BEGINS ON JUNE 1 Voted #1 Insurance Agent in SWLA Voted #1 Insurance Agent in SWLA
Hurricane season is upon us, and now is the best time to prepare for potential storms. Follow these steps to ensure you’re ready for whatever Mother Nature sends us.


If you need to evacuate, what route will you take and where will you go? Study our region’s evacuation maps and set a course to your safe location.

Do some research on hotel/motels along the way, especially if you need pet-friendly options. Find pet-friendly hotels at pet-friendly-hotels. net and Hotel policies can change, so call ahead.

Make a list of likely accommodations, their phone numbers and websites, and keep it with your hurricane go-bag. Consider buying up-todate paper maps of Louisiana and surrounding states. Electronics can fail, and back roads are often your best option.


Keep up with your car’s routine maintenance. If you need to have your car checked out when a storm is already bearing down on the Gulf Coast, it will take more time. Here’s a basic checklist:

• Change the oil.

• Ensure air conditioner works well.

• Check tires for wear. Verify the spare and jack are functional.

• Replace wiper blades.

• Top off or replace fluids, including brake, transmission, coolant, power steering and windshield washer fluids.

• Inspect belts and hoses.

• Check battery, especially if it's more than three years old.

• Inspect radiator and water pump.

• Keep gas tank at least half full.

• Have jumper cables.


Make a complete to-do list to get your home and family ready if a storm heads our way, then remember where you put it!

• Eat the food in your freezer; use the free space for containers with extra ice.

• Photograph or video everything in your home in case you need to file an insurance claim. Include images of recent renovations or upgrades. Ditto for receipts from any recent, large home purchases.

• FEMA recommends taking photos of important documents and storing them online.

• Maintain generators and ensure they work properly; stock up on fuel.

• Connect with your neighbors and exchange contact information. Share updates with each other if evacuation occurs.

• In case of evacuation, tell family and friends where you are going.

• Check your employer's attendance policies for before, during and after a storm. Know whom to call or message with your location.

• Get your pets microchipped or ensure their collar tag info is current.

• Copy photos, computer files, account information, important documents and prescription data,


• Basic first aid kit

• Cash, in case ATMs aren't working

• Checkbooks

• Extra phone charger for the car

• Consider solar chargers for phones and laptops, as well as solar flashlights and lanterns

• Long-distance calling card in case cell towers are down

• List of accounts and passwords for credit cards, bank accounts and investments. Your memory may be unreliable during a stressful time.

• Flash drive with your backed-up computer files.

• Phone numbers for family, friends and neighbors; schools; insurance contacts; contractors and repair people; local police; employers; doctors

• Important papers, ie. birth certificates; insurance policies; school records; mortgage records; medical information; pet vaccination records

• Extra house and car keys

• Add a list of things that are important but can't be packed this far ahead of time: Pet leashes? Rain boots? Jewelry? Electronics? Put the list into the bag to consult when you need it.


• Batteries

• Bottled water and canned food

• Hurricane lamps or lanterns (safer than candles) and oil

• Large trash bags. If you evacuate, use them to pack. Stash frozen food in a bag and return it to the freezer. If electricity goes out and the food spoils, just throw the bag in the trash

• Paper plates, plastic utensils

• A quality nonelectric can opener

• Pet food and supplies, if needed

• Extra diapers and baby supplies, if needed

66 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024
Special Section |

• Check that your hand-cranked or battery-operated radio, preferably a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio, and flashlights are working, or purchase these items

• Medications. Get three-month refills of prescriptions and larger quantities of overthe-counter drugs for pets and people

• Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

• Bleach for sanitizing


• Snacks and drinks in a small cooler

• Travel pillows and lightweight blankets

• Games, puzzles and/or videos for kids

• Audio books and music

• Tissues and wet wipes

• Painkillers, sinus medication, etc.

Entergy Louisiana stands ready for hurricane season

We’re gearing up for more intense storm seasons with a reinforced power grid and steadfast dedication to our communities. Entergy plans and prepares for storm season year-round. That means investing in infrastructure improvements to our transmission and distribution lines as well as honing-in on our ability to respond quickly and safely in any storm scenario.

Learn more about how Entergy prepares and how you can ensure your home and family are ready before storms arrive by visiting 67
A message from Entergy Louisiana, LLC ©2024 Entergy Services, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

BeaSuperhero! New Children’s Book Highlights Doing Good For Others

Hurricane season is a stressful time for everyone, even the little ones in your family. Adults and children alike have probably wished for a real live superhero to swoop in and help after a hurricane. Local author Rebekah Hair penned the children’s book “Take That, Hurricane!” to bring hope and inspiration amid a natural disaster.

“Take That, Hurricane!” follows Super Tess, a kid superhero, and her sidekick Nick as they return home to Coastal City after a hurricane. Super Tess and Nick quickly jump in to help clean up the city with their neighbors, construction workers, linemen, and volunteers.

“Experiencing life after a hurricane is especially overwhelming for kids,”

says Hair. “My goal for this book is that kids can compare what they see in the story to what happens in real life and see how it’s possible to get back up after you’ve been knocked down. I hope Super Tess can be an example to children to focus on what positive action can come from a bad circumstance.”

Throughout the story Super Tess and sidekick Nick discover even the smallest acts return a great reward. Super Tess finds one of her greatest moments of joy in being able to return a lost teddy bear to a scared young girl.

“Above all, I wish to remind readers that sometimes the best thing you can do is be a friend,” says Hair. “You

can’t do everything, but everyone can do something. Sometimes just being a friend and letting someone know they aren’t alone can make a world of difference.”

Hair’s book is available now along with companion resources and activities.

For more information, visit www.

68 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024
Special Section |


Calcasieu Community Clinic earned a 2024 Gold Rating from the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (NAFC) Quality Standards Program. By self-attesting that the organization has certain ‘best practices’ policies and procedures in place, it is able to highlight its commitment to providing quality care to patients.

The National Association of Free and Charitable Clinic’s mission is building healthy communities for all through quality, equitable, accessible healthcare. The NAFC and its members are dedicated to ensuring that patients receive access to quality healthcare. To quantify and qualify the care provided at the Free and Charitable Clinic network, the NAFC formalized a set of Quality Standards for member organizations.

NAFC Members voluntarily submit information to the NAFC on the various policies and procedures in place to attain their standards rating and attest that they successfully incorporate these best practice standards within their organization. The Gold Standard elements include areas related to Administrative, Clinic/Pharmacy Responsibilities, Credentialing and Privileging Systems, Patient Care and Risk Management Systems.

If you, or someone you know, is working and without health care insurance, call the Calcasieu Community Clinic at 337-478-8650 to see if you qualify to receive free health services.


This Earth Month, the CITGO Lake Charles Refinery teamed up with area organizations to enhance the Southwest Louisiana environment. Through TeamCITGO and community volunteer events, they honored both Earth Month and the 10th anniversary of the CITGO Caring For Our Coast conservation and volunteer program.

On April 13, TeamCITGO supported the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge in cleaning up litter and debris at three recreation areas and a 1.5-mile wetland nature trail to aid in preventing garbage from entering the waterways and natural habitats.

The following week at Sam Houston Jones State Park, volunteers removed invasive, non-native Chinese Tallow trees, which threaten the pine ecosystem recovery that TeamCITGO helped restore in the years following the 2020 Hurricanes Laura and Delta.

These CITGO Lake Charles refinery volunteer efforts commemorate the 10th anniversary of the CITGO Caring For Our Coast program, which began in 2014 as a coastal conservation and restoration program to combat environmental impacts caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Ten years and $7 million later, the program has evolved into the Company’s banner corporate citizenship program to protect vulnerable habitats through restoration, educational and volunteer efforts.



Missy Griffin, executive director of ASSL, and Joshua (JTan) Tannehill, community outreach coordinator for Krewe de Valhalla want to thank the community for their nearly 600 pounds of Mardi Gras beads donated since the end of February.

Missy Griffin states, “Our organization has been honored and humbled by the outpour of donations from our community. These collection efforts have enabled everyone in our community, from our youth and adults, to join our mission. We have been pleasantly surprised and gracious each time a car has pulled up with another donation. ASSL is very blessed to be part of such a generous community and we look forward to this partnership for many years.”

The beads will be cleaned, sorted, and sold next year with 100% of the proceeds supporting the clients with autism who benefit from Autism Services of SWLA’s wonderful programs and initiatives.

“I have several family members with autism, and it is an honor to give back to such a great organization that helps so many in our area.  Missy and her entire staff do amazing things and partnering with them on this bead collection and donation project was an easy choice” said JTan.

Krewe de Valhalla has spearheaded and participated in community outreach since its inception in 2020. We mainly focus on veterans but expand our program to benefit the community at large through our annual fundraisers: Golf Tournament, and Lady's Bingo 2nd Annual Women’s Bingo - Krewe De Valhalla, which provides the funding we need to help our community out during the holidays and throughout the year.

For more information about ways to donate Mardi Gras beads to Autism Services of Southwest

Louisiana, please contact Melissa Griffin at mgriffin@ or 337-436-5001 or visit the Autism Services of Southwest Louisiana website at www.

To learn more about Krewe de Valhalla, please email, call 337-5029447 or visit the Krewe de Valhalla website at www.


Pelican State CU is excited to announce the launch of its student-specific financial product, the Student Points Visa® Credit Card. The card is a comprehensive financial tool that encourages healthy spending habits and meets the unique needs of the student demographic through a robust rewards program, credit-building opportunities, and other features. Key benefits of the Student Points Visa® Credit Card include:

• Five times the points on purchases essential to student life, such as food delivery, rideshares with Uber & Lyft, coffee shops, streaming services, and more.

• First year 1-to-1 point matching, up to 10,000 points.

• Point redemptions for a variety of rewards, including cash back, gift cards, travel rebates, and everyday purchases.

• Security and protection through the credit union’s complimentary enrollment in ID Navigator by Norton LifeLock, which offers tools to help secure their identity.

Pelican State Credit Union remains committed to educating its members about financial wellness. The Student Points Visa® Credit Card is a tool for managing finances and a learning opportunity, helping students build a strong credit foundation while enjoying the benefits of a rewards card. The credit card is available in an exclusive ombre design to students aged 18 to 23 pursuing postsecondary education.

Students can apply for Pelican’s exclusive Student Points Visa® Credit Card by visiting pelicanstatecu. com/student. 69

Money & Career



We are pleased to present to you the Annual Water Quality Report for the year 2023. This report is designed to inform you about the quality of your water and services we deliver to you every day. Our constant goal is to provide you with a safe and dependable supply of drinking water. We want you to understand the efforts we make to continually improve the water treatment process and protect our water resources. We are committed to ensuring the quality of your water. Our water source(s) are listed below:

Public Water Supply ID: LA1019029

which contaminants, if present, could migrate and reach our source water. It also includes an inventory of potential sources of contamination within the delineated area, and a determination of the water supply’s susceptibility to contamination by the identified potential sources. According to the Source Water Assessment Plan, our water system had a susceptibility rating of ‘MEDIUM’. If you would like to review the Source Water Assessment Plan, please feel free to contact our office.

In order to ensure that tap water is safe to drink, EPA prescribes regulations which limit the amount of certain contaminants in water provided by public water systems. Food and Drug Administration regulations establish limits for contaminants in bottled water which must provide the same protection for public health. We want our valued customers to be informed about their water utility. If you have any questions about this report, want to attend any scheduled meetings, or simply want to learn more about your drinking water, please contact NICHOLAS HUNTER at 337-491-1201.

or level of technological performance which public water systems must follow to ensure control of a contaminant.

Action level (AL) - the concentration of a contaminant that, if exceeded, triggers treatment or other requirements that a water system must follow.

Maximum contaminant level (MCL} - the “Maximum Allowed” MCL is the highest level of a contaminant that is allowed in drinking water. MCL’s are set as close to the MCLG’s as feasible using the best available treatment technology.

Maximum contaminant level goal (MCLG) - the “Goal” is the level of a contaminant in drinking water below which there is no known or expected risk to human health. MCLG’s allow for a margin of safety.

Maximum residual disinfectant level (MRDL) - The highest level of a disinfectant allowed in drinking water. There is convincing evidence that addition of a disinfectant is necessary for control of microbial contaminants.

Our water system grade is an 87/B. Our water system report card can be found at: https:/ /ldh. la. g ov/assets/oph/Center-E H/ drin ki ngwater/Waterg rade/WaterGrade2023/Calcasieu/LA 1019029 WaterGrade 2023. pdf

The sources of drinking water (both tap water and bottled water) include rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, reservoirs, springs, and wells. As water travels over the surface of land or through the ground, it dissolves naturally-occurring minerals and, in some cases, radioactive material, and can pick up substances resulting from the presence of animals or from human activity. Contaminants that may be present in source water include:

Microbial Contaminants - such as viruses and bacteria, which may come from sewage treatment plants, septic systems, agricultural livestock operations, and wildlife.

Inorganic Contaminants - such as salts and metals, which can be naturally-occurring or result from urban stormwater runoff, industrial, or domestic wastewater discharges, oil and gas production, mining, or farming.

Pesticides and Herbicides - which may come from a variety of sources such as agriculture, urban stormwater runoff, and residential uses.

Organic Chemical Contaminants - including synthetic and volatile organic chemicals, which are by-products of industrial processes and petroleum production, and can also come from gas stations, urban stormwater runoff, and septic systems.

Radioactive Contaminants - which can be naturallyoccurring or be the result of oil and gas production and mining activities.

A Source Water Assessment Plan (SWAP) is now available from our office. This plan is an assessment of a delineated area around our listed sources through

If present, elevated levels of lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children. Lead in drinking water is primarily from materials and components associated with service lines and home plumbing. CITY OF LAKE CHARLES WATER SYSTEM is responsible for providing high quality drinking water, but cannot control the variety of materials used in plumbing components. When your water has been sitting for several hours, you can minimize the potential for lead exposure by flushing your tap for 30 seconds to 2 minutes before using water for drinking or cooking. If you are concerned about lead in your water, you may wish to have your water tested. Information on lead in drinking water, testing methods, and steps you can take to minimize exposure is available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline or at safewater/lead.

The Louisiana Department of Health and HospitalsOffice of Public Health routinely monitors for constituents in your drinking water according to Federal and State laws. The tables that follow show the results of our monitoring during the period of January 1st to December 31st, 2023. Drinking water, including bottled water, may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants. The pre8ence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that water poses a health risk.

In the tables below, you will find many terms and abbreviations you might not be familiar with. To help you better understand these terms, we’ve provided the following definitions:

Parts per million (ppm) or Milligrams per liter (mq/L)one part per million corresponds to one minute in two years or a single penny in $10,000.

Parts per billion (ppb) or Micrograms per liter (ug/L) - one part per billion corresponds to one minute in 2,000 years, or a single penny in $10,000,000. Picocuries per liter (pCi/L) - picocuries per liter is a measure of the radioactivity in water.

Treatment Technique (TT) - an enforceable procedure

Maximum residual disinfectant level goal (MRDLG)The level of a drinking water disinfectant below which there is no known or expected risk to health. MRDLGs do not reflect the benefits of the use of disinfectants to control microbial contaminants.

Level 1 assessment - A study of the water system to identify potential problems and determine (if possible) why total coliform bacteria have been found in our water system.

Level 2 Assessment - A very detailed study of the water system to identify potential problems and determine (if possible) why an E. coli MCL violation has occurred and/or why total coliform bacteria have been found in our water system on multiple occasions. During the period covered by this report we had the below noted violations.

Our water system tested a minimum of 90 samples per month in accordance with the Total Coliform Rule for microbiological contaminants. With the microbiological samples collected, the water system collects disinfectant residuals to ensure control of microbial growth.

In the tables below, we have shown the regulated contaminants that were detected. Chemical Sampling of our drinking water may not be required on an annual basis; therefore, information provided in this table refers back to the latest year of chemical sampling results.

The State of Louisiana regularly monitors source water per State and Federal Regulations. Treated water samples are monitored to further evaluate compliance.

70 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024
G#9-RR EAST WELL G 14 WEST PLANT WELL ML (U) WELL M2 (V) WELL M3 - MCNEESE WELL SW#I WELL SW#2 WELL SW#3 Ground Water Ground Water Ground Water Ground Water Ground Water Ground Water Ground Water Ground Water Ground Water Ground Water Ground Water Ground Water Ground Water Ground Water Ground Water Ground Water Ground Water No Violations Occurred in the Calendar Year of 2024 DATE DISINFECTANT HIGHEST RAA CHLORINE UNIT RANGE MRDL MRDLG TYPICAL SOURCE 1.8 0.822.2 Water additive used to control microbes. ppm 4 4 2023

Environmental protection Agency Required Health Effects Language

Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population. Immuno-compromised persons such as persons with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, persons who have undergone organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly, and infants can be particularly at risk from infections. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers. EPA/CDC guidelines on appropriate means to lessen the risk of infection by Cryptosporidium and other microbial contaminants are available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline (800-426-4791).

There are no additional required health effects notices.

There are no additional required health effects violation notices.

Thank you for allowing us to continue providing your family with clean, quality water this year. In order to maintain a safe and dependable water supply we sometimes need to make improvements that will benefit all of our customers.

We at the CITY OF LAKE CHARLES WATER SYSTEM work around the clock to provide top quality drinking water to every tap. We ask that all our customers help us protect and conserve our water sources, which are the heart of our community, our way of life, and our children’s future. Please call our office if you have questions. 71
RANGE UNIT SMCL COLLECTION DATE SOURCE WATER RADIOLOGICAL CONTAMINANTS HIGHEST VALUE COMBINED RADIUM (-226 & -228) RANGE UNIT MCL MCLG TYPICAL SOURCE 1.359 pCi/l Erosion of natural deposits 0 - 1.359 5 10/22/2023 GROSS BETA PARTICLE ACTIVITY 4.18 pCi/l Decay of natural and man-made deposits. Note: The gross beta particle activity MCL is 4 millirems/year annual dose equivalent to the total body or any internal organ. 50 pCi/L is used as a screening level. 0.987-4.18 50 10/22/2023 0 0 COLLECTION DATE TREATED WATER REGULATED CONTAMINANTS HIGHEST VALUE BARIUM RANGE UNIT MCL MCLG TYPICAL SOURCE 0.24 ppm Discharge of drilling wastes; Discharge from metal refineries; Erosion of natural deposits 0.24 2 5/12/2021 2 COLLECTION DATE TREATED WATER RADIOLOGICAL CONTAMINANTS HIGHEST VALUE No Detected Results were Found in the Calendar Year of 2021 RANGE UNIT MCL MCLG TYPICAL SOURCE PERIOD DISINFECTION BYPRODUCTS HIGHEST LRAA TOTAL HALOACETIC ACIDS (HAA5) TOTAL HALOACETIC ACIDS (HAA5) TOTAL HALOACETIC ACIDS (HAA5) TOTAL HALOACETIC ACIDS (HAA5) RANGE UNIT MCL MCLG TYPICAL SOURCE 3 ppb By-product of drinking water disinfection By-product of drinking water disinfection By-product of drinking water disinfection By-product of drinking water disinfection 3.2-4.6 20222023 20222023 2023 2023 2023 4 ppb 2.7-4.1 4 ppb 4.1-4.4 6 ppb 3.7-5.9 SAMPLE POINT 2437K ORY ROAD TTHM TTHM TTHM TTHM 19 ppb By-product of drinking water chlorination By-product of drinking water chlorination By-product of drinking water chlorination By-product of drinking water chlorination 17.4-20.3 15 ppb 18.3-19.8 25 ppb 21-29.3 14 ppb 8.9-12.9 2609 LAUREL RIDGE CT 2437K ORY ROAD 4260 INDIGO PLACE 726 DESOTO STREET 726 DESOTO STREET WATKINS & GRIFFITH 4260 INDIGO PLACE 60 60 60 80 80 60 80 80 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 COLLECTION DATE SOURCE SECONDARY CONTAMINANTS HIGHEST RAA ALUMINUM CHLORIDE IRON MANGANESE PH 0.03 1.86 6.09 294 0.65 4 0 - 0.03 27-294 0.22-1.86 0.24-0.65 5.28-6.09 0 - 4 0.2 250 0.3 0.05 8.5 MG/L MG/L PH MG/L MG/L MG/L 10/22/2023 10/22/2023 9/4/2023 10/22/2023 10/22/2023 SULFATE 250 9/4/2023 COLLECTION DATE TREATED SECONDARY CONTAMINANTS HIGHEST VALUE RANGE UNIT SMCL IRON MANGANESE SILVER 0.02 0.017 0.02 0 - 0.02 0 - 0.02 0.017 0.3 0.05 0.1 MG/L MG/L MG/L 11/12/2023 11/12/2023 5/12/2023 COLLECTION DATE SOURCE WATER REGULATED CONTAMINANTS HIGHEST VALUE ANTIMONY, TOTAL RANGE UNIT MCL MCLG TYPICAL SOURCE 1.3 ppb Discharge from petroleum refineries; fire retardants; ceramics; electronics; solder 0 - 1.3 6 9/4/2023 BARIUM 0.61 ppm Discharge of drilling wastes; Discharge from metal refineries; Erosion of natural deposits 0 - 0.61 2 10/22/2023 ENDRIN 0.031 ppb Discharge from steel/metal factories; Discharge from plastic and fertilizer factories 0 - 0.031 2 10/22/2023 FLUORIDE .1 ppm Erosion of natural deposits; Water additive which promotes strong teeth; Discharge from fertilizer and aluminum factories 0 - 0.1 4 11/12/2023 6 2 2 4 Discharge from wood preserving factories PENTACHLOROPHENOL 0.024 ppm 0 - 0.024 1 11/12/2023 0 RADIUM-226 0.766 pCi/l 0 - 0.766 5 10/22/2023 0 RADIAUM-228 4.18 pCi/l 0 - 1.33 5 10/22/2023 0 DATE LEAD AND COPPER 90TH PERCENTILE RANGE UNIT AL SITES OVER AL TYPICAL SOURCE COPPER, FREE 0 ppm Corrosion of household plumbing systems; Erosion of natural deposits; Leaching from wood preservatives 0.1-0.3 1.3 2019-2022 0 LEAD 0 ppm Corrosion of household plumbing systems; Erosion of natural deposits 1-6 15 2019-2022 0 2023 TTHM 15 ppb By-product of drinking water chlorination 14.3-15.2 2609 LAUREL RIDGE CT 80 0 TTHM 16.5-27.4 ppb By-product of drinking water chlorination 13.1 - 16.2 80 0 TOTAL HALOACETIC ACIDS (HAA5) By-product of drinking water disinfection 20222023 3 ppb 3.2-3.5 4908 DESOTO STREET 60 0 TOTAL HALOACETIC ACIDS (HAA5) By-product of drinking water disinfection 20222023 2 ppb 1.8-2.7 WATKINS & GRIFFITH 60 0 20222023 20222023 4908 DESOTO STREET 20222023 20222023 SILVER 0.013 0-0.013 0.1 MG/L 11/12/2023 FACILITY DATE IDENTIFIED CODE ACTIVITY DUE DATE DESCRIPTION 8/29/2023 20CC1A GWR ADDRESS TT45 DEFICIENCIES LAC 51:Xll.344.A-B - A. As used in this Section, “mandatory containment practices” means the containment practices prescribed in and required by the state Uniform Construction Code, LAC 17:1, including maintenance and testing requirements, and any additional or related requirements of this Part. B. In order to protect its water supply from potential contamination, each water supplier shall make a reasonable effort to ensure that only customers who comply with mandatory containment practices connect or remain connected to its water supply 12/12/2023 WATER SYSTEM Unresolved significant deficiencis that were identified during a survey done on teh water system are shown below. 8/29/2023 20CC17A GWR APPROVED CORRECTIVE ACTION PLAN LAC 51:Xll.344.A-B - A. As used in this Section, “mandatory containment practices” means the containment practices prescribed in and required by the state Uniform Construction Code, LAC 17:1, including maintenance and testing requirements, and any additional or related requirements of this Part. B. In order to protect its water supply from potential contamination, each water supplier shall make a reasonable effort to ensure that only customers who comply with mandatory containment practices connect or remain connected to its water supply.;
20CC17A GWR APPROVED CORRECTIVE ACTION PLAN LAC 51:Xll.344.A-B - A. As used in this Section, “mandatory containment practices” means the containment practices prescribed in and required by the state Uniform Construction Code, LAC 17:1, including maintenance and testing requirements, and any additional or related requirements of this Part. B. In order to protect its water supply from potential contamination, each water supplier shall make a reasonable effort to ensure that only customers who comply with mandatory containment practices connect or remain connected to its water supply.;
72 Thrive Magazine for Better Living • June 2024 Health & Wellness Done Differently Accepting New Patients Accept Most Insurance Cash Pay Options At Revitalized Health, we take the time to get to know each patient and their unique needs. We then develop individualized treatment plans to help improve quality of life. Join the thousands of people thriving with Revitalized Health today. “We have an integrated approach to wellness that includes not only education, but evaluation of the individual patient as a whole rather than just a specific problem.” 2 locations In Walnut Grove The Cottage - 1510 William St. Main Office - 2002 West Walnut St. Suite 101 337-214-0097 | SERVICES: - Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy - Medical Weight Loss - Thyroid Optimization - Nutraceuticals - Peptide & Injectable Nutrients - IV Therapy COMING SOON: - Gynecological Services PROVIDERS: - Dawn Hinton, AGPCNP-BC - Crystal Tarou, FNP-BC - Melinda Strickland, FNP-BC

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