Minden men charged in Lake Claiborne beating
JANA RYAN, Special to The
Three Minden men have been arrested and charged with the July 12 beating of a 19-year-old Waldo, Ark., man.
Michael Branch, 21, Dane Alexander McFarland, 19, and Daniel Joseph Payne, 23,
all of Minden, were arrested Wednesday, July 22, on warrants issued by the
Claiborne Parish Sheriff’s Office.
and Payne, registered Mixed Martial Arts fighters, have been charged with
aggravated second-degree battery and McFarland has been charged with
12, the Claiborne Parish Sheriff’s Office received a call requesting an
ambulance for an unconscious man. Claiborne Parish Deputies Sedrick Millage and
Darren Keel accompanied an ambulance to Hwy. 146. Upon arrival, the deputies
were informed that the young man, identified as Robert Dixon, of Waldo, had
been involved in a fight at a camp on Lake Claiborne.
Dixon was airlifted to LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport.
Claiborne Detective Randy Smith
obtained witness statements from individuals who were present at the “party”
where the incident occurred.
to reports, the fight happened during a “drinking game” in which large amounts
of whiskey were consumed.
Channel 3 reported that Claiborne investigators said one of the charged got
upset when Dixon out-drank him.
all three of the accused gang-hit him.
basically knocked out right off the bat, then they continued for a little bit
longer,” Smith said, noting there were other altercations before the accused
left the camp house.
Dixon reportedly suffered a broken jaw and received head
injuries upon falling to the floor. During the investigation, the detective was
notified by one of Dixon’s family members that the young man had to be placed
on life support.
Dixon has since been released from the hospital.
result of the investigation, Smith obtained arrest warrants for Branch,
McFarland and Payne, who turned themselves into Claiborne authorities
Minden attorney Eric Johnson has been hired to represent Payne.
Payne is innocent of the charges against him,” said Johnson. “The only thing he
is guilty of is being present at a party where young kids were drinking
Johnson said Payne has taken a
polygraph regarding the events of that night.
took and passed, with flying colors, a polygraph administered by one of the
best polygraphists in the state of Louisiana,” said Johnson. “He did not punch,
kick, strike or touch in any way the young man whose jaw was broken.
Furthermore, it is my belief after the investigation, which we have conducted
on behalf of Daniel, that Mr. Dixon started whatever altercation took place,
the only individual who laid a hand on him was Mr. Branch, and that Mr. Branch
only struck Mr. Dixon after Mr. Dixon swung at him first.
Claiborne Parish Sheriff’s Office arrested Mr. Payne, Mr. Branch and Mr.
McFarland without taking any statements from people at the party other than the
friends of the alleged victim,” Johnson continued. “We have performed a much
more thorough investigation and feel quite confident that Mr. Payne will be
exonerated of these charges.”
was released from custody after posting a $20,000 bond and McFarland was
released after posting a $10,000 bond.
remains incarcerated on $20,000. In addition, Ouachita Parish Probation and
Parole has placed a hold on Payne due to a prior conviction for hitting a
police officer during an altercation at a Monroe nightclub.
attempt to contact the Dixon family for an update on the young man’s condition
case remains under investigation.
This story was reprinted with permission from the Minden Press-Herald.
Seatbelt laws change August 15
seatbelt laws are going into effect on August 15.
Bill 499, now Act No. 166, now requires that all occupants in a vehicle must
wear a seat belt.
states: “…as provided by R.S. 32:295 for children under the age of thirteen or
as otherwise provided by law, each front seat occupant of a passenger car, van,
or truck having a gross weight of ten thousand pounds or less, commonly
referred to as a pickup truck, in this state shall have a safety belt properly
fastened about his or her body at all times when the vehicle is in forward
motion, if a belt for his seating space has been provided by the manufacturer.”
Pierrelee, spokesman for State Police Troop G, said it’s important to wear
safety belts, but the issue comes down to safe driving.
in the car needs to be buckled, not just in the front seat anymore,” he said.
warned that although safety belts play an important role in keeping drivers
safe, they are not foolproof.
half of our fatalities are with people wearing their seatbelts,” he said.
“Fatalities come from bad driving. People think it’s a force field, and some
people give them too much creditability.
an enhancement to good driving,” he continued, “and people use them as an
excuse to drive badly – and the numbers show it.”
2007, 65,389 citations were written for Seatbelt/Child restraint violations,
according to the Louisiana State Police website, www.lsp.org.
Pierrelee said the exemptions
are still the same. Examples include police units, ambulances, etc. Exemptions
are also still made for those with medical conditions or cannot wear one due to
to published reports, fines for seat belt violations range from $25 for first
offense, up to $50 for each subsequent offense.
more information on seat belt exemptions, contact the local Department of Motor
Vehicles or the local police department or sheriff’s office.
Traffic stop yields drug charges
Haynesville man has been arrested on three warrants and other charges after
running from police last week.
Thursday, July 23, Claiborne Parish Sheriff’s Deputy J.T. Williams made a
traffic stop on Hwy. 79 in which Rontrell Sturdivant, 20, was a passenger.
Williams conducted a warrants check and discovered three active warrants
through the sheriff’s office.
fled on foot in the presence of Haynesville Police Officers Ricky Goode and
John Eric Stevenson, but was apprehended by Officer Goode. Williams then read
Sturdivant his rights and transported him to the Claiborne Parish Detention Center for booking.
charges were: three counts of distribution of Schedule II Controlled Dangerous
Substance (CDS) (crack cocaine) that originated with the Haynesville Police
Department and the Claiborne Narcotic Enforcement Team. Bond for distribution
was set at $30,000 on each count and bond for resisting an officer was set at
total bond is set at $90,500.
other crime news, a juvenile found himself on the wrong side of the law during
a traffic stop.
Sunday, July 26, Deputy Darren Keel stopped a vehicle traveling at a high rate
of speed on Hwy. 79 in Claiborne Parish. Contact with the driver of the vehicle
revealed the driver to be a juvenile.
conducted an investigation into this matter and discovered a prescription
bottle in the front passenger door pouch with the name of Cloria Ruffin on it.
Ruffin, 19, of Houston, Texas, was the owner of the prescription bottle, which
contained a cellophane baggy of suspected marijuana.
juvenile was released to his mother and Ruffin was booked into the Claiborne
Women’s Facility. Ruffin’s bond was set at $500.
Gallot faces ethics violation charges
Richard “Rick” Gallot, D-Ruston, is facing several charges alleging state
Louisiana Board of Ethics filed the charges recently, charging him with
violations of the Code of Governmental Ethics.
are some very incredibly old anonymous complaints just prior to the last
election,” Gallot, chairman of the House and Governmental Affairs Committee,
said in a phone interview with The Guardian-Journal. “I believe there are some
political undertones to the board filing those charges, and I feel very, very
confident these charges will be dismissed.”
to The Baton Rouge Advocate, two of the charges accuse Gallot, who is an
attorney in Ruston, of state law violations by receiving a “thing of economic
value” for assisting the Black and Gold Facilities, Inc., on two 2006 bond
projects and an affiliated lease agreement involving Grambling State University.
other five charges allege he represented the Black and Gold Facilities, Inc., a
nonprofit foundation for Grambling, while the school sought permission from the
University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors to continue negotiations
with the foundation and a housing developer for the construction of new
dormitories and to enter into an agreement with the foundation.
mother, Mildred Gallot, sat on the board during the time of those meetings and
continues to sit on the board.
employment as an attorney to form these two nonprofits and the work that I did
– my employment predates her (his mother) being appointed to the board,” Gallot
said. “My representation never required me to appear before that board. My representation
of the Black and Gold Foundation did not constitute a violation of the
Governmental Code of Ethics. Their own rules state they have one year to file
charges or it shall be dismissed, and it’s been over two years.”
to law, elected officials cannot receive anything of value from a state entity
unless it is disclosed within 10 days. On that same note, Louisiana law
prohibits a member of a board or commission or their immediate family members
from having an interest in a transaction under the oversight of their board or
faces up to a $10,000 on each charge. He has retained legal counsel to fight
the allegations. Those allegations have gone before the Ethics Adjudicatory
Board, which will set a pre-hearing schedule.
Accident closes roadway
The Guardian-Journal photos/Michelle
On Thursday, July 23, the Claiborne
Parish Sheriff's Office was dispatched to the scene of an accident just south
of Athens on Hwy. 9, involving a tractor-trailer rig and a pick up truck. The
rig, carrying hazardous materials, completely blocked the highway, and the
Louisiana Department of Transportation was called in for cleanup, according to Louisiana State Police reports. Although no hazardous materials from the tanker spilled,
diesel fuel leaked onto the highway. DOTD closed the road for a couple of hours
while cleanup efforts were underway. Moderate injuries were reported.
Weathering the Rain
Driving safety tips during wet weather
JENNI WILLIAMS, The Guardian-Journal
what seemed like a lifetime without rain, Claiborne Parish is experiencing a
deluge lately, with plenty more to come.
to the National Weather Service, a minimum of a 40 percent chance of rain per
day through Saturday is expected. Beginning on Sunday, chances drop a little
with only a 20 percent chance through Wednesday, as of press time.
the weather going from gorgeous blue-bird skies, to raining cats and dogs,
drivers tend to forget how to drive in the rain when its not seen for such a
are a few tips to remember out on those wet streets, according to the National
driving on the interstate, drive in the center lanes as water tends to pool in
the outside lanes.
on headlights. Drivers can see better on foggy or rainy days and it will help
other drivers see each other. It’s also the law.
Increase the following distance, especially behind 18- wheelers and log trucks
as they can cause total obscurity of a windshield. Also, watch for brake lights
the vehicles in front lead the way. Try to avoid streets that don’t seem to be
down – it takes longer to stop in wet weather. Plus the faster the
speedometer shows, the greater the chances of hydroplaning.
slowly through any puddle of uncertain depth. That way if it’s deeper than
first thought, it is still possible to back out. Sections of roadways may have
been washed away due to the torrential rains the parish has been experiencing.
drive through moving water if the ground can’t be seen through it – vehicles
could be swept right off the road.
important tip to remember is: DO NOT use cruise control. Not only does it slow
reaction time -- because a driver’s feet are farther away from the pedals --
but vehicles are much more likely to hydroplane or end up in a spin, causing
the vehicle to leave the road or even become airborne.
tips can be found at the National Safety Council website.
are other ways to help prevent an accident in stormy weather before hitting the
Before the rain even begins, replace old or brittle wiper blades. Wiper blades
are inexpensive and are very easy to change.
the tread and inflation of all four tires. Properly maintained tires provide
the added traction needed on wet roads. Don’t wait to replace balding tires.
Parish Sheriff Ken Bailey advises citizens to be careful.
according to conditions,” he said. “Please keep your headlights on at all times
and always wear your seatbelt. It’s the law.”
press time, Bailey reported no accidents due to weather, and only one downed
tree was reported on Maddry Road, off Hwy. 79.
perfect world, rainy days would find people hanging out with friends or holed
up at home, petting the dog and curled up with a good book.
reality, most people probably still have to dredge up enough willpower to go to
work instead. Taking a few precautions and using these wet-weather driving
techniques will keep drivers from ending up sopping wet on the shoulder of the
road, waiting for a tow truck.
What does it entail?
MICHELLE BATES, Editor
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a two-part series on
President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform plan. Today’s installment takes a look
at the plan itself and what the president’s ideas are on overhauling the United
States’ healthcare system. Next week’s installment will look at the local level
and how it would affect the average citizen in Claiborne Parish.
Barack Obama’s healthcare initiative will not be voted on by its deadline,
August 3, according to multiple news sources.
say it’s because no one really knows what’s in the plan or what it will mean
for everyday citizens. So, what does the plan entail?
John Fleming, 4th Congressional District, who is adamantly opposed to the idea,
says it’s nationalized healthcare, and it’s just too dangerous.
it whatever you like, this proposal is nothing more than government-run
healthcare,” he said in an editorial published on www.nwlanews.com. “There is
no doubt that Americans need and deserve quality healthcare reform. What we
don’t need is to insert the government into the healthcare system.
Government-run healthcare will only lead to more taxes, the collapse of private
insurance and DMV style medicine with long lines.”
editorial published by the Wall Street Journal, Gov. Bobby Jindal also opposed
the healthcare plan, saying that “history always repeats itself.”
1993 and 1994, Hillary Clinton’s health-care reform proposal failed because it
was concocted in secret without the guiding hand of public consensus-building
and because it was a philosophical over-reach,” Jindal said in the editorial.
“Today President Barack Obama is repeating these mistakes…”
to the president’s website on the plan, www.healthreform.gov, the idea is to
allow those already on private insurance to keep the plans they have, but his
plan will offer a “public” option – offering more affordable healthcare to the
he plans to do this through several principals, including: guarantee choice,
make health coverage affordable, protect families’ financial health, invest in
prevention and wellness, provide portability of coverage, aim for universality,
improve patient safety and quality care, maintain long-term fiscal
sustainability, and financing healthcare reform.
does he intend to pay for this? Through savings brought about by the healthcare
overhaul, the website says.
plan must pay for itself by reducing the level of cost growth, improving
productivity, and dedicating additional sources of revenue,” the website
stated. “The reserve fund is financed by a combination of rebalancing the tax
code so that the wealthiest pay more as well as specific health care savings in
three areas: promoting efficiency and accountability, aligning incentives
towards quality and better care, and encouraging shared responsibility. Taken
together, the health care savings would total $316 billion over 10 years while
improving the quality and efficiency of health care, without negatively
affecting the care Americans receive.”
to statistics, 20 percent of Louisiana citizens are uninsured, and 69 percent
of them are in families with at least one full-time worker.
2.3 million people in Louisiana get health insurance on the job, where family
premiums average $12,491, about the annual earning of a full-time minimum wage
job,” the website continued. “Since 2000 alone, average family premiums have
increased by 91 percent in Louisiana. Household budgets are strained by high
costs: 19 percent of middle-income Louisiana families spend more than 10
percent of their income on health care.”
governor and Fleming both agree that healthcare reform is needed, just not with
is no doubt we need sensible health care reform that addresses out of date
insurance laws, increases portability, does away with pre-existing conditions,
and provides all Americans access to quality medical care,” Fleming
said. “Bipartisan input could lead to meaningful legislation, but further
socializing this country is not the answer.”
in the editorial, instead offered seven principals by which healthcare reform
Consumer choice guided by transparency. We need a system where individuals
choose an integrated plan that adopts the best disease-management practices, as
opposed to fragmented care…
Aligned consumer interests. Consumers should be financially invested in better
health decisions through health-savings accounts, lower premiums and reduced
Medical lawsuit reform… No health reform is serious about reducing costs unless
it reduces the costs of frivolous lawsuits.
Insurance reform. Congress should establish simple guidelines to make policies
more portable, with more coverage for pre-existing conditions…
Pooling for small businesses, the self-employed, and others…[Consumers] should
be free to purchase their health coverage without tax penalty through their
employer, church, union, etc.
for performance, not activity…We can save money and improve outcomes by using
integrated networks of care with rigorous, transparent outcome measures
emphasizing prevention and disease management.
Refundable tax credits. Low-income working Americans without health insurance
should get help in buying private coverage through a refundable tax credit…
steps would bring down health-care costs,” Jindal continued. “They would not
bankrupt our nation or increase taxes in the midst of a recession. They are
achievable reforms with bipartisan consensus and public support. All they
require is a willingness by the president to slow down and have an honest
discussion with Americans about the real downstream consequences of his ideas.”
more information on Obama’s plan, go to www.healthreform.gov.
Rollover injures one
The Guardian-Journal photo/Michelle Bates
This car landed on its top on the side of
the road after it rolled over Thursday afternoon, July 23, on Hwy 518, just
west of Athens, close to the Webster/Claiborne Parish line. The driver of the
vehicle was transported to Minden Medical Center with injuries, Louisiana State Police reports said.
School registration date, times
note that notaries will be on site at each school during registration time, at
no cost to the parents. For more information, please call central office at
8 a.m. until 1 p.m.
Homer High School, Homer
Junior High, Homer Elementary
11 a.m. until 5 p.m.
From noon until 6 p.m.
Homer High School, Homer Junior High School, Homer Elementary, Haynesville Elementary
8 a.m. until 2 p.m.
Haynesville High School
8 a.m. until 1 p.m.
9 a.m. until 1 p.m.
3 until 8 p.m.
Co-Ed softball tourney to benefit Treece
JENNI WILLIAMS, The Guardian-Journal
Bailey Field will be hosting a Treece Family Benefit Softball Tournament on
team must have a minimum of 10 players, with a maximums of 16. There will be at
$150 entry fee per team, which is due by August 14 to participate in the event.
women’s home-run derby will be held at 1 p.m., followed by the men at 1:30 on the day of the tournament. A fee of $10 will be assessed to participate in the
derby, with fifty percent of the pot being awarded to the winner.
tournament is open to any team interested in participating and all proceeds
will be donated to the “Friends of Ken’s” foundation.
will be an admission fee of $2, with children under the age of four entering
free of charge. Concession will be sold throughout the day.
forms can be obtained by contacting Sherri Machen, tournament team coordinator
with the Shongaloo Co-ed League at (318) 465-7987.
were unable to have a co-ed team this year, but wanted to have at least one
tournament. So we decided the best way to do that was finding a good cause to
support and donating the proceeds,” Machen said.
of Ken’s” is a foundation created by concerned citizens of Webster Parish for
the purpose of raising money, awareness and support for Webster Parish Deputy
Kenneth Treece, his wife Billie, and their three grandchildren.
Kenneth and Billie Treece, of
Shongaloo, are not strangers when it come to adversity. In the last two years,
Treece has lost his mother, brother and daughter.
the Treece’s only child was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS),
or Lou Gehrig’s Disease in August 2006. Shortly after her diagnosis, she was
confined to a wheelchair and her care and the care of her three children fell
to the Treece’s.
this period of time, the couple formally adopted their grandchildren, ages 11,
9, and 8. Stacey passed away shortly thereafter, on December 28, 2008.
September 2007, Treece was diagnosed with kidney cancer. One kidney was
believed that his prognosis was good, but in January 2008, bone cancer was
found in his hip and lung.
then, Treece has been undergoing chemotherapy treatments for 18 months, but the
treatments have been very draining. He has lost 75 pounds and is weak and
couple took care of Stacey at home until her death. They have used up nearly
all of their savings on her care. Thankfully, several fundraisers were held
locally to help with Stacey’s numerous expenses.
her death, the children moved into the Treece home, because their mobile home
was not adequate for the Treeces and the three children; but neither is their
Treece home is approximately 80-90 years old and has some serious challenges
that would make it unfeasible to remodel. The children have insufficient space
for sleeping and storage of their things, and the boys are sleeping on
the living room floor has fallen in because of the rotten sills under the
house. The wiring is inadequate, there are major issues with the plumbing,
cracked and sagging ceilings, and many other problems.
has been a member of the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Department for 22 years and
holds the rank of lieutenant. He is attempting to continue working, although
it is becoming more difficult.
is a retired English and Social Studies teacher, having taught for 33 years in
the Webster Parish School System at Shongaloo High School for all of her
teaching career. They have been active members of Central Baptist Church for more than 25 years.
is very involved with the children’s activities and spends any free time
scrapbooking the memories of her daughter and grandchildren.
and Billie have served Webster Parish well. The love and concern of the people
there is a testament to this couple, according the “Friends of Ken’s” website.
Claiborne Parish’s chance to show its support of this couple’s heroic efforts
to keep their family together.
friends, family or fellow church members and spend a Saturday afternoon raising
money for an amazing cause.
want to play? Come out and watch the people you know and cheer them on.
To make donations, visit their
website at www.friendsofkens.com.
goal of the website is to educate the public of the Treece’s situation and help
raise $100,000 to help purchase a mobile home to replace the home the family is
July 28, the cause has already raised more than $55,000. Supporters are asking
that we, as the public, help ease Treece’s worries by providing for the future
of his wife and three grandchildren.
Homer man arrested for drugs
Police have arrested a man after he reportedly tried to flee police.
Rhodes, 59, of Homer, was arrested Monday, July 20, on charges of possession of
marijuana and resisting an officer. Bond on both charges was set at $500 each.
to police reports, Rhodes was the passenger in a vehicle pulled over for making
an illegal U-turn. Homer Police Officer Steven Harbour initiated the traffic
stop, with Officer Van McDaniel arriving on scene to assist.
approached the driver of the vehicle and upon contact, asked for the proper
paperwork, which was provided. In the meantime, while Harbour was running a
check on the paperwork provided, Officer McDaniel was talking to Rhodes.
asked Rhodes if he had any weapons on his person, and when Officer McDaniel
notified Rhodes that he intended to pat him down, the suspect attempted to flee
the scene, reports say.
officer made several attempts to subdue Rhodes, and once subdued, the suspect
put what appeared to be a plastic bag in his mouth. When Rhodes complied with
Harbour’s verbal command, the plastic bag appeared to contain a green, leafy
substance, suspected to be marijuana.
Rhodes attempted again to flee the scene, but was subdued and
detained. The baggie and a knife found on his person was placed into evidence
and Rhodes was placed under arrest.
John Bailey also arrived with his K-9, who alerted on the vehicle. The vehicle
was searched, but no other suspected illegal drugs were found.
driver of the vehicle was released with a warning.
Rhodes was transported to the Claiborne Parish Detention Center for booking.
other crime news, Alton Jones, 33, was arrested on that same date for
disturbing the peace and a parole/probation hold. No bond was set for the
parole/probation hold, and bond was set at $500 for the disturbing the peace
to reports, officers were dispatched to the 100 block of Hunter Street in
reference to a disturbance. Upon arrival, officers were advised that Jones had
pulled a knife on someone. That person confirmed that he’d pulled the knife on
her, but she refused to press charges.
taken into custody and transported to the Claiborne Parish Detention Center for booking.
Police Chief Russell Mills and Officers Norah Banks and Dale Sindle responded
and investigated the incident.