Mike Murphy accompanied by Glenrose and Dudley Pitt provided the
Natchitoches Rotary Club with information about the Natchitoches Fuller
Center for Housing (formerly Habitat for Humanity). This faith-based
program is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that seeks to eradicate poverty
housing by promoting partnerships with individuals and community groups to
build and rehabilitate homes for people in need. Glenrose Pitt explained
the name change was necessary to remain true to the founding mission of the
organization and to maintain local control. Mike Murphy noted that they
have completed four local houses and are starting the fifth with sponsorship
by the First Methodist Church. Recipients must meet financial requirements
and invest at least 400 hours of sweat equity in the construction of the
home. The center is a volunteer-driven organization run on the support of
givers in cash as well as materials and labor. If you would like more
information call (318) 352-8556 or go online to http://www.fullercenter.org/natchitoches/louisiana .
The Natchitoches Rotary Club enjoyed a preview of the new and improved Festival of Lights Parade presented by committee chair, Fred Terasa. He opened with a review of last year’s parade and explained the process of establishing standards of excellence for all the participants (Partners) in the parade as well as competition for awards in each category. The Standards of Excellence Guide coupled with coaching is aimed at promoting quality and well as the Christmas Spirit. He noted that to date we have 10 bands, 20 floats, and some 60 other parade units participating in the one parade on festival day . Lee Waskom added that the addition of automated machines which dispense vendor tickets for purchases on the riverfront will simplify the accounting and cash-handling process. Other changes include an expanded recreation site for the children, improved bridge lighting and a time shift of the fireworks to 7:00 P.M. on festival day. Terasa closed with a Merry Christmas to all and asked that everyone visit the festival web site at www.NatchitochesChristmas.com for information, a schedule of events, accommodations, vendors, store, and sponsors.
James Dixon, Jr., State Public Defender, with Dr. Tiffany Simpson, Executive Director of the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet,provided the Natchitoches Rotary club with an narrative of the mission of the Public Defender Board which oversees public defense services, provides statewide training, develops standards of service, advances juvenile justice, and collects reporting as well as management data. Additionally, Mr. Dixon cited the looming finical crisis facing the system and noted that the Board has initiated efforts to raise public defense revenues and implement system-wide efficiencies, which while helpful, have only delayed the upcoming restriction of legal services and outside legal problems. He noted that the solution lies with the State Legislature and it is important to educate the public of this problem. He closed with questions and invited everyone to visit the Board site at http://lpdb.la.gov/index/index.php .
The Natchitoches Rotary Club honored Claire Methvin as the Student of the Month. Claire, a Natchitoches Central High School senior, was introduced by Assistant Principal Bill Gordy as a highly successful honor student and leader who is on track to be one to the school’s valedictorians at graduation. Claire plans to attend BYU and major in pre-med. Student of the Month Chairman, George Rhymes, presented Claire with a check and a plaque from the Rotary Club as well as a bag of merchant gifts. Additionally, Director of University Recruiting, Jana Lucky, presented a scholarship and gift bag from Northwestern State University.
The City of Natchitoches Fire Chief, Crit Miller, provided the Natchitoches Rotary club with an interesting and humorous look at a day in the life of a city firefighter. In addition to responding to fires, the day includes EMS, rescue and hazardous materials response, fire prevention, public education, fire investigation, annual fire inspections, equipment maintenance, and a variety of training. He noted the department’s mission is to protect the lives and property of our citizens and visitors by providing both emergency and non-emergency service and this is supported by 45 employees at three fire stations. Chief Miller spoke with pride about the professionalism of his staff and the department’s Class 2 rating which is key to lower insurance rates. Following the introduction of two members of the fire protection team, he closed with questions and an invitation to visit the fire protections facilities as well as participate in the community outreach programs of the department. For more information go to http://www.natchitochesla.gov/content/fire-protection or call 357-3860.
Michael Dawson, District Ranger for the Kisatchie District, provided the Natchitoches Rotary club with a narrative of the district’s history and many humorous stories from his 43 years of ranger experience. The presentation included a collection of stunning graphics of the trails, waterfalls and bayous, hills and forest, wildlife management preserve, and wilderness area in the 102, 000 acres south of Natchitoches. In addition to a wide variety of plants and animal life, the forest also offers recreation activities including: bird watching, photography, backpacking, canoeing, all-terrain vehicle trails, boating, camping, cycling, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, mountain biking, picnicking and swimming. Ranger Dawson closed with questions and his comments on a recent TV team of “ Big Foot Hunters” who visited the Forest. For more information call 318-472-1840 or visit online at www.kisatchie.us.
Victor Borrego, Rotary Exchange Student from Spain, presented the Natchitoches Club with a club banner from his sponsor club in Spain. Victor is attending Natchitoches Central High School and the guest of host family Merlin and Mary Squyres.
The Director of the LA Small Business Development Center of Northwest and Central Region, Mark Galyean, provided the Natchitoches Rotary club with a overview of the mission and services of the regional centers. New to our area, Galyean brings valuable experience from private industry, state economic development, and regional consulting work in the Lafayette area. The newly organized region is from Marksville in Central LA to the Shreveport area in Northwest LA with offices in Alexandria, Natchitoches, and Shreveport. He noted that the mission of the centers is to facilitate the formation and growth of small businesses through individual consulting services, entrepreneurial training programs , and business information resources to develop and diversify the Louisiana economy. For more information visit www.lsbdc.org/nsu or contact Mark Galyean at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Natchitoches Rotary Club honored Joe Rogers as the Student of the Month. Joe, a St. Mary’s High School senior, was introduced by the Director of Student Services, Jennifer Gahagan as a highly successful student leader, active in the Beta Club, SGA, as well as a member of the State Championship Golf Team. Joe plans to attend Northwestern State University next fall majoring in Criminal Justice. Student of the Month Chairman, George Rhymes, presented Joe with a check and a plaque from the Rotary Club as well as a bag of merchant gifts. Additionally, Director of University Recruiting, Jana Lucky, presented a scholarship and gift bag from Northwestern State University.
Tammie Arnold, Public Affairs Officer Alexandria VA Health Care System,
shared the message from the VA with the Natchitoches Rotary Club of its
mission to honor America’s Veterans with quality health care services as
part of the largest integrated health care system in the U.S.. She cited
the reaffirmation of the core values outlined by the newly appointed
director, Secretary Robert A. McDonald, which are Integrity, Commitment,
Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence. Taken together – I-CARE. This coupled
with a package of progressive changes will translate into improved services
for all veterans. She further noted the key outreach role provided by the
network of community clinics and introduced the Head Nurse of the
Natchitoches Clinic, Lisa Trammel, R.N. After questions, she encouraged
everyone to visit the VA for a firsthand look at quality heath on site or
online at www.alexandria.va.gov .