—- With a New Year, normality returns to Front Street and Natchitoches in general. That means our Saturday nights will be a little quieter without the fireworks and traffic will resume to its typical patterns on Front Street. We’ll still have trouble finding a parking spot, but that’s normal. It seemed we got a lot of good publicity, more than usual, for our town this Christmas season. That’s probably why it appeared that we had larger crowds this year during the festival season than we have in the past. Our hats are off to all the people who put so much effort into the festival events, from city workers to the army of volunteers.
——- While we are congratulating folks, let’s add former NSU alum and Sabine Parish Representative Joe Salter to the list. Gov. John Bel Edwards recently appointed Joe to the University of Louisiana System Board of Regents, the body that oversees Northwestern State. A former Speaker of the La. House of Representatives, Joe is the First Assistant to the Secretary of State.
——- Like many of you, JT is always excited to see the fall enrollment numbers at NSU when they are announced. But a report on the number of student athletes at Louisiana colleges left JT scratching his head. The report from the US Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education collects annual data from all institutions with intercollegiate athletic programs that receive funding through federal aid programs. Anyway, it ranked Northwestern fifth out of 25 Higher Ed state institutions with the highest number of student athletes. LSU led the list with 465 student athletes with Lafayette, McNeese and Monroe-with only two more than NSU’s 356 student athletes were in the top five. The interesting part though was the report also listed the total undergraduates at each of the state’s schools.
The report, which was for 2016, had Northwestern State with 5,182 undergraduates. That didn’t sound right. In fact it sounded like about half of the figures NSU reported. So JT went back to our files and found that in the Fall of 2016, NSU reported an enrollment of 9,819 students. That’s 4,637 more than the Department of Education gave. There must be a BIG distinction between NSU’s “student enrollment” and the Education’s Department “undergraduates.”
The 4,500 plus extra students NSU listed in its enrollment figures must be including those in on-line degree programs as well as graduate or doctorial studies. In any event, JT has heard the on-line learning programs at NSU have really grown in recent years. That would make the larger enrollment number more plausible. There are about two-dozen new state laws that took effect on Tuesday.
The one that probably affects most local residents is the $9 increase in boat registration fees. You could also see “granny cams” showing up in nursing home rooms and governmental agencies must have anti-sexual harassment policies. The one getting the most attention though is that convictions of serious felony crimes in the state will now require unanimous jury verdicts. Instead of 10 out of the 12 jurors voting for a conviction, it will now take all 12 votes.