An eventful year in Minden, Webster
As the Minden Press-Herald publishes our end-of-year countdown of top news stories, we are reminded the safety of our city and parish is upheld every day by those who promise to serve and protect.
You will find only two stories in our Top 10 that deal with arrests and local law enforcement – one was listed Friday as number 10. The reason is because there were too many stories to list.
We at the Press-Herald appreciate our local law enforcement and hope our readers will understand their lack of visibility in our Top 10 stories is not indicitive of their importance to our community.
Webster Parish School Board: A Year of Changes
Topping our list at the number one position is the Webster Parish School Board. There was no way to narrow it down to one story because throughout the past year, our school system has undergone extensive changes.
In the end, in an effort to help alleviate a $3 million budget deficit, some schools were closed, several in the northern and southern ends of the parish were consolidated, and age groups attending several Minden elementary schools were changed.
In March, Superintendent W. W. “Butch” Williams announced his retirement at the very end of the school board meeting.
“I am retiring immediately, but I will stay until the end of the school year,” Williams said. “I really have enjoyed my job. I love what I do, but I can no longer work for a board that won’t cooperate with me or support me.”
Williams said although he is weary of the board, he is not bitter with his time spent in the public school system.
In April, the board voted to allow Madden Contracting Company to foot the bill for more than $.5 million for services from a group that would survey Webster Parish schools and report the information to the board.
The outline of the proposal stated the study would provide a thorough assessment of the state of Webster Parish schools.
In May, Judge S. Maurice Hicks, Jr. ruled in favor of the Webster Parish School Board’s proposal to consolidate schools and change attendance zones.
In August, members of the Webster Parish School Board went outside the parish and brought in a fresh perspective.
Steven Dozier, superintendent of schools in Union Parish, was selected as the new superintendent with a majority vote of eight to four.
NWLTC breaks ground on new campus
Dignitaries turned fresh dirt in February on a dream that has been more than 20 years in the making.
Northwest Louisiana Technical College director Charles Strong was joined by Gov. Bobby Jindal, LCTCS President Joe D. May, LCTCS Board President Vincent St. Blanc, III, LCTCS Facilities Corporation President, LCTCS Board Member Stevie Smith and local officials to break ground on the new campus for NWLTC in Minden.
Doerge passes Rep torch to Reynolds
District 10 voters kept history alive by putting the Democratic candidate back in the House of Representatives seat.
Gene Reynolds defeated Republican Jerri de Pingre’ in November by a margin of 724 votes.
Reynolds takes the place of fellow Democrat Jean Doerge, who term limited after filling the unexpired term of her husband, the late Everett Doerge and then being elected and re-elected over the last 12 years.
Cropper takes over as police chief; city records one homicide
In January, Steve Cropper took over the position that was held for 20 years by Minden Police Chief T.C. Bloxom.
Under Cropper’s guidance, the police force has continued to grow, experiencing more training and high-tech equipment. The force recorded only one homicide in 2011.
In the first homicide in more than a year, 29-year-old Laverto Shyne was charged with manslaughter after allegedly beating his uncle to death over a game of dice.
St. Jude auction sets new record
Another chapter in a story of hope made the record books. Minden’s St. Jude Auction topped all records during the 2011 auction with a grand total of more than $943,000. It was an increase that topped the 2010 total of $881,885.
While the total on the check says $943,628, a caller pledged another $1,000 after the auction closed, and Minden High School added more, following a mini-telethon in the high school gymnasium, while donations continued to come in from other parish schools.