JT sees where Louisiana is going to get $5.8 million for the purpose of voting equipment. It’s estimated to cost between $40 and $60 million to replace hardware and software statewide. Our Secretary of State Tom Schedler wants to replace about 10,000 early and election day voting machines with smaller, more secure, touch screen models. (By the way, JT hears others have jumped on the wagon calling for Schedler to resign in the wake of sexual harassment claims by one of his employees.) But I digress. The money is coming from Congress, who designated unused Help America Vote Act dollars to the states. If Louisiana gets almost $6 million as its share, simple math would put the total disbursement nationwide around $300 million. JT sure thinks that money would be better used elsewhere….like the Opioids problem…or a wall? As weak as the voting turnout was in certain parts of the state—including the City of Natchitoches, and as expensive as elections can be, JT thinks…at least in Natchitoches…we should return to paper ballots. It shouldn’t take that long to count 700 votes.
The stuff that comes out of our state legislature sometimes still takes JT by surprise. Even though he knows it shouldn’t. Take for instance the bill that would let those under the age of 21 take a class and get a certificate so they can drink while still being under the legal age to do so. The bill would allow 19 and 20 year-olds to buy and consume alcohol without being under parental supervision. (Don’t they do that now…without a certificate?) Instead of finding ways to enforce our current laws, some lawmakers are trying to find ways around them. Any time spent on this bill is just a waste of time.
JT was looking over the list of state champion trees in Louisiana and noticed that Natchitoches Parish still has three on the list. They are the Bur Oak, a Pawpaw tree and a Prickly Ash tree. The Bur Oak measured 16 feet, 5 inches in circumference and is 86 feet tall. The pawpaw tree is 1 foot, 10 inches in circumference and stands 50 feet tall while the Prickly Ash is 4 feet, 1 inch tall and measures 40 feet in height. JT can’t tell you where to find these trees, because their locations are not identified. Which is probably a good thing. Louisiana does have a couple of trees that are national champions, 10 to be exact. The tree with the largest circumference is a Bald Cypress, a national champion in West Feliciana Parish that measures 52 feet, 2 inches around. (To put this in perspective…a typical merry-go-round has a circumference of just 23 feet.) The tallest is a loblolly pine in Claiborne parish that measures 162 feet tall. (That’s 54 yards tall—half a football field!
If you ever wonder about the popularity and longevity of “Steel Magnolias,” consider this. During a tour in December, some 300 people lined up outside the Steel Magnolias House during the Natchitoches Historic Foundation Christmas tour. Tommy Whitehead said the movie is so popular, someone stole a “Steel Magnolias” scrapbook left out on a table during the tour. Tommy knows because he was called on to furnish a replacement, which he did. The movie was filmed in Natchitoches in 1987 and released in 1989
JT was surfing the Internet and went to one of his favorite online sites, The Hayride, and found a story that is just beyond belief. It come with the warning, “Don’t try this at home.” If JT had not seen the video he wouldn’t have believed folks could be so stupid. T-Mike Kliebert, an alligator wrangler, is the star at a gender-reveal party. You know, that’s one of those unexplainable events to reveal the gender of a couple’s unborn child. T-Mike plays with an alligator that is obviously tranquilized and for the gender reveal, pops a small melon into the gator’s mouth. When the gator chomps down, blue water melon squirts out to reveal the unborn child is a boy. The story says that T-Mike used a syringe to inject blue food coloring into the melon. What’s more puzzling than this scenario, is the group of folks standing around cheering when the blue watermelon erupts. Can we hope and pray this doesn’t go viral as an example of Louisiana life and culture?