Saturday, January 30, 2010

Symphony Tonight!

The Shreveport symphony is back after a year and a half hiatus. I'm excited to see the

"Tchaikovsky Spectacular" tonight.

Come show your support for our local musicians!

Update: The symphony was amazing.

The musicians played with energy, passion and emotion! A sold out crowd welcomed the talent back with pride!

I appreciate their dedication to the arts and their ability to create such beauty that touches the soul.

You need to catch the next performances!
March 05, 2010 Cirque de la Symphonie
May 15, 2010 A Keyboard Extravaganza

Friday, January 29, 2010

95-year-old man patrols the streets.

We all want to feel safe at home, but the economy has forced some Arklatex police departments to cut jobs.

Bossier City police had to lay off six new recruits this year because of a major budget shortfall. The Bossier sheriff’s office says it's watching expenses and not hiring as many deputies

While police departments are trying to do more with less, a group of people you might not expect are suiting up to fight crime: hundreds of retired men. Nbc 6 news reporter Karen Hopkins rode along with one volunteer who's nearly 100 years old!!!

Officers help people all the time. But it's not every day a man like Frank Elliot comes to your rescue. He's 95 years old and still patrolling the streets for the Bossier parish sheriff's office. “I enjoy it and I enjoy the boys."

The boys are retired men over 50. The Posse program began in 1995 as a way for citizens to help fight crime. Elliot's one of the first volunteers. “It gives me something to do. I wouldn't have enough to keep me busy."

He wears a uniform and rides with another Posse member two times a month. Elliot doesn't carry a gun or make arrests. The team just watches out for homeowners. If Elliot sees a problem. He'll call a deputy to the scene. “I had one flag me down that had domestic trouble. I called somebody else in."

About 250 people volunteer. They get in cars each day to keep an eye out for crime. “The posse works with patrol, and they form a team that's helpful with the reduction of crime," Ed Baswell says.

Crime in Bossier parish has decreased the past three years. Bossier sheriff public information officer Ed Baswell gives some credit to people like Elliot.
“He is a remarkable man. He lives in a house he built. He takes care of 49 acres of property."

“I don't worry anymore. That will shorten your life. You get to moping and you'll go downhill." Elliot says that's his secret to living a long and active life.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cities stop giving pay raises.

Unemployment, higher prices and an uncertain economic future have all of us keeping a watchful eye on our spending. Some are cutting back even more because many employers have stopped giving raises.

City workers on both sides of the state line in Texarkana and Bossier City will see no pay increase this year. Shreveport employees haven't had a raise in two years.

Nbc 6 news reporter Karen Hopkins found one leader taking a stand for these middle class families and even getting a little dirty in the process.

Mounds of trash! Otis Peoples and Kenneth Ferguson pick up it to support their families. They say the load is getting heavier. It’s the second year with no pay raise and rising costs are piling up. “Me and my wife put everything together. We can make it work for us," Ferguson says. “With the economy and shape it is in, it makes things tight." Peoples says.

So tight, many families are spending less. Less spending generates fewer sales tax dollars and a loss of revenue the city depends on. “Sales tax revenue is way down and that's where revenue comes from,” city council chairwoman Joyce Bowman says.
Unlike other Arklatex cities, Shreveport laid no one off. “I'm thankful I have a job,” Ferguson says.

If the economy picks up, these workers could get a raise. “If our sales tax revenue comes in looking better than it did, we'll be in a position to do that."
City council chairwoman Joyce Bowman put on a vest, rolled away bins and took a ride. “This has been a humbling experience for me to walk a mile in their shoes." She says we sometimes take for granted, the hard work of these city workers."

In April, council will take a look at the budget again. If sales tax revenue is high, Bowman says she'll fight to give workers a raise.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Arklatex business lays off dozens.

Many people are struggling to find work after an Arklatex business laid off dozens of employees.

Nbc 6 reporter Karen Hopkins spoke with one woman, who like so many, is out of a job and devastated.

“I was just shocked. I'm still in shock. I could not believe it, when I talk about it." Goldie Hall is now unemployed. She lost her job at Sam’s club. The company laid off around 10,000 workers nationwide: 40 in Shreveport and Texarkana stores. Hall was one of them.

Sam’s Club released a statement saying, "We do not make these decisions lightly, and know that this is a difficult development…"
“They do not care about hourly workers, and our families. How this will affect us,” Hall says.

Sam’s has hired another company to give out samples inside the store. Anyone, even former Sam’s workers can apply for those jobs. “Everything is part time. I'd lose seniority and have to start over at minimum wage."

Hall joins others in our area actively looking for jobs but can't find work as unemployment continues to rise. “It's like my dreams have been shattered, my granddaughter’s dreams have been shattered."

Hall worked at Sams 22 years. The 54-year-old was saving money to send her granddaughter to a leadership camp for future doctors. “Now that's out, her dream, that's ok."

Hall says, Sam’s club workers laid off will get severance pay. The amount depends upon years of employment.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Water Sewer system in dire need of repairs.

Shreveport must upgrade, or face millions in fines, plus trouble for homeowners.

Imagine having raw sewage backing-up into your home or not having water to shower.

Without some major investments in Shreveport’s water sewer system, people could certainly experience that kind of trouble, and some folks already have.
Plus, if the city does not make some expensive upgrades soon, leaders say, it could face millions of dollars in fines.
Nbc 6 reporter Karen Hopkins, joins us now live from government plaza, where officials are looking for some cash to keep Shreveport’s water safe.

We all want to have water to drink when we need it. Leaders say we’ll have to pay to fix major faults before people have to deal with problems at home.

A muddy mess. Dorothy Black has to look at it in her own front yard. Freezing temperatures burst her water line. Crews just repaired her driveway. “I hope that it does not happen to me anymore. I hope I don't have to go through this anymore."

More homeowners like Black could see problems.
Shreveport's water-sewer system is in dire need of repair.
“We have pipes collapsing on a daily basis."

Assistant city engineer Barbara Featherston says about half of the sewer pipes are more than 50 years old. She warns breaks could overflow this raw feces into homes, or in the streets. “It has bacteria, something you don't want kids to play in."

Exposed waste is an EPA violation, and Featherston says Shreveport is in trouble. “Basically the EPA said you have more violations than we would like to see.”
The EPA can order Shreveport to fix old pipes, or pay, “millions of dollars in fines."

Featherston says the sewer infrastructure needs a $200 million investment over 12 years. The city's water system could use $150 million to replace old pipes that break easily, especially in cold weather. “We need to try to get folks to understand that this is really a serious issue that we need to address."

Before it's too late, and people like, black have to deal with the problem at home. "Water was sitting in my driveway, just a pool of water."

Mayor Cedric Glover wants to have a bond election this fall.
So you, the voters, can decide if we should borrow money to fix our water sewer system.

Digital Technology could prevent flooding.

Storms last fall caused damage for our region and hundreds of homeowners.

Taking pictures with digital cameras is one way of capturing life's special moments. Now, that technology is helping engineers create life-saving plans to minimize the damage from flooding.

You might remember the tremendous effort by the National Guard and local law enforcement, to protect homeowners from high waters. Now, the focus is on "preventing" another disaster.

Nbc 6 reporter Karen Hopkins found the digital plan could save taxpayer dollars and give homeowners some peace of mind.

Stacks of sandbags, three feet high. Debbie Hewko can see them every day from her yard, a daily reminder of the floods last fall.
Her house is steps from the Red Chute levy in Bossier parish. The waters rose so high, she evacuated her entire family. “It was traumatic because you can lose everything over night."

The fear is real for hundreds of homeowners. Digital photography, recently used technology for the Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments, could help find ways to minimize the damage.

For three days in November, photographers shot aerial photos of Caddo and Bossier parishes. "Extremely detailed images."
So detailed, they show even water you can't see. "It detect areas turned into marshlands."

Executive director Kent Rogers says by seeing the path of the flood, engineers can design plans to divert water away from homes and businesses.
The photos show how high the water came up over these sandbags and which part of the levee engineers should build up.

“A lot of these homes would have been underwater. By telling how we can raise the levees, we can protect the homes,” Rogers says.

A plan Hewko says she can live with -- one that keeps her family and others safe.

Taking the aerial photos cost about $250,000. Rogers says, the federal government paid for 80 percent, while local oil and gas companies covered the rest, in order to have access to the images.

The Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments is organizing the flooding photos. The association works with our local governments. It helps plan transportation and regional development projects.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tornado Aftermath

A tornado touched down in Waskom Texas. The twister rips apart a home, the woman inside survives.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Krewe of Highland Goes Green!!!!!!

Many of us will catch some beads this Mardi Gras season. But when the parade's over, the decorations often end up in the trash.

In tonight’s Arklatex Green, Nbc 6 reporter Karen Hopkins discovered how you can recycle your party favors and celebrate at the same time.

“We've been Mardi Gras since the very beginning!” Kathy Melancon is a Mardi Gras queen. This year her Krewe has a new theme: Highland Goes Green. “When we chose the theme we got into planning."

The plan is to help our environment and save cash.
It starts with recycling beads. The krewe has collected donated necklaces. But the Melancon’s have a personal collection. “My son never wanted to part with some. It's best to give them back to the community.”

Melancon says an average family of four throws out about a $1,000 worth of beads. By recycling, it cuts the cost in half and it's still a good time.

You'll find the recycling theme at the Highland bal. The krewe is saving hundreds of dollars by reusing decorations, and so are the guests.
“We're hoping people pull things out of the closet. we have Elvis coming wearing that costume."

Melancon says it's fun to recycle, and even trendy. “I'm hoping people will get on the bandwagon and start recycling beads."

You can still donate your old beads to the Krewe of Highland. Drop them off at Columbia Cafe, that's on the corner of Kings and Creswell.

On a personal note.....I am going to the Krewe of Highland bal AND recycling my GREEN sequenced PROM dress!!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ministry helps people in revolutionary way.

More people are out of a job during these tough economic times and have trouble supporting their families.

Now a local group is reaching out to take care of people in a revolutionary way.

Nbc 6 reporter Karen Hopkins discovered how its touching people who have nearly lost everything.

“It’s just like your heart left and went to the pit of your stomach. All you can do is cry, pray and hope." Michael Hood and Cheryl Blair are unemployed. They live together in a van. Both say they never imagined they would end up homeless. “I pray. I have to hold on to God. If I didn't, I’d be living in hell."

“People carry around huge needs we don't know about so it helps us as an organization to connect them." So Cassie Hammett started the Hubb ministry in Shreveport about two years ago.

Volunteers feed people each week. But this year, the hubb is going beyond basic needs. “It is revolutionary because it's one on one.” Under the new "remedy" program, a volunteer adopts someone in need, like hood. The sponsor provides a bag of supplies each month, but most importantly, forms a personal relationship. “We believe life change happens when you have a support system a group of people behind you rallying around you and saying this is the right decision this is what you need to do. “

Hammett says now is the time to help. Louisiana's poverty rate is higher than Arkansas, Texas and the national average.

To get involved visit the Hub’s website:

Monday, January 18, 2010

Trusted company throws social security numbers in dumpster

Most of us trust our banks with our personal information, but an NBC 6 investigation found an Arklatex finance company throwing account statements, with social security numbers in a dumpster!

Watch the video to see me do some digging. I have a reputation in our newsroom for "not being afraid to dive into things!"

Who knew? Bossier City police say banks can throw your personal information in the trash. It's not a crime. You might want to ask your finance companies how it disposes of personal information. Most shred documents and will have a certificate of destruction as proof.

Shreveport remembers Martin Luther King Jr.

Tonight I enjoyed learning about Martin Luther King Jr. in the Shreveport area. History fascinates me. It’s sad that people can harbor so much hatred. On a positive note, amazing people like Dr. King can inspire good and most importantly, action.

Here's the story...

His speech, “I have a dream, inspired an entire nation to change and reject hatred and racism. Today our nation honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Nbc 6 reporter Karen Hopkins spoke with some local civil rights icons who knew Dr. King and of the steps he took in Shreveport to fight racism.

Shreveport pastor C.E. McClain was just 13 when he first saw Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “He maintained eye contact. It could be chilling when his eyes turned to you.”

Dr. King spoke twice in Shreveport: in 1958 at Galilee Baptist church and then 4 years later at the historic Little Union Baptist church. “He said some things about our town that were not very flattering, that we were the sickest city in America, the second most racist city.”

Shreveport historian Willie Burton says in 1963, activists organized a peaceful walk. “Here young black wanted to march." But the police commissioner, George D'artois, would not allow it. So instead, Little Union held a prayer service. “That's when the horses came up the steps and got him in the back of the collar and drug him out.”

Pastor McClain is referring Dr. Harry Blake, a prominent local pastor and civil rights legend. “People all down the street had to get out of the way because of the police brutality.”

The violence outraged students at Booker T. Washington. Classes marched in protest. Burton says, police tear gassed and beat students.

Decades later dr. King's legacy lives on. We have a black president, mayor, police chief.”

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hello Readers!

I want to expand my blog and tell you a little about upcoming events with a personal twist.

Mardi Gras Season coming up!

I am an Ohio native. Last year was my first Mardi Gras experience. I dressed up in a sequenced gown for the Krewe of Centaur bal and enjoyed the celebration. I think Mardi Gras is a wonderful cultural, southern event. The bals are filled with impressive decorations, each table themed differently. The presentations of princesses and captains are entertaining and unique. The parades are a blast. I love being outside and enjoying good times, while meeting interesting people.

This year I'm excited to attend the Krewe of Highland Bal. My cousin Angelina, practically my sister, and Uncle John, like a father to me, are coming from Cincinnati as guests. Both are from up north and are pumped to experience the Shreveport! Over the past year, I've gotten to know the "port city" well. I'm always impressed by the warm people and its charm. "Laissez les bon temps rouler!"

DATES to remember: Centaur Parade Feb. 6th, Gemini Feb. 13th, Highland Feb 14th.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Homeless fill up shelters, trying to escape the cold

Local shelters need your help to keep people warm during this winter storm. Nbc 6 news reporter Karen Hopkins spoke with people literally trying to survive by escaping the dangerous cold.

“I'd much rather be here than out there when it's freezing,"
Christopher Dees says. With the freezing, dangerous, temperatures, the Shreveport Bossier Rescue Mission and Salvation Army shelters are filling up. Both centers expect dozens of more people to come in over the next few days.
“A lot of people are coming in now have disabilities. They come in without coats and freezing," Pete Carnes says.

Local shelters are setting up rows of cots to give people a warm place to stay. “We started with 18 now we have 40 cots.” If more shelter is needed, the Red Cross will set up warming centers at local churches or schools. "We're not going to turn anyone away in this type of weather." KC Kilpatrick Stone says.

“Having a warm place is really great. I got a lot of friends living on the street they tell me every day how cold it is and how much of a blessing it is to be here," Dees says.

Because outside, each winter homeless people die on the streets from the cold, suffering from frostbite or hypothermia. “I believe it is a true blessing we can provide places like this for people less fortunate with no place to go.”

The Rescue Mission needs more blankets, pillow cases, to keep people warm. You can donate by dropping items off here at 901 McNeil Street. Or you can pledge money online at this link:

Drunk Driver gets life in prison for killing high school student

“That boy sat on the windshield for hours and bled to death, wide awake, and that man gets life in prison?!" A Caddo parish judge sentenced Jimmy Ray White to life in prison. White drove drunk and ran into a Shreveport high school student who was on the side of the road, with friends, trying to help a stranded woman.

Tonight a teen who witnessed the devastating accident is speaking out. Nbc 6 reporter Karen Hopkins found he's still searching for closure after seeing his friend get killed before his very own eyes.

“I couldn't believe it, it was hard to believe." Tray Cummings and his friend, 15-year-old Adam Klingensmith, were standing on the side of the road trying to help a woman fix her car. That's when the unthinkable happened. “By the time I turned around, all I heard was a big boom and I couldn't find Adam anywhere."

A drunk driver named Jimmy Ray White hit Klingensmith and drove with the teen's body across his windshield before dumping him along the road, leaving him for dead. “It was scary it could have been either one of us."

Two years after the tragic accident, White was sentenced today to spend the rest of his life behind bars. White is a habitual felony offender with three prior convictions. “I don't want to talk about it. That man doesn't deserve to go to prison. He deserves torture.” Klingensmith was the boy next door for Charles Cummings. He watched him grow up. “It's emotional. He was a good boy. It didn’t have to happen to him."

“He was just goofy he liked to joke a lot. If you need a friend he was always there." Now he's gone. “They lost a good boy."

Cummings says don't take the people you love for granted. "We miss him."

Klingensmith was a freshman at Byrd high school in Shreveport when he died.