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General Local News Parish News

STPL Continues a Hybrid of Virtual and In-person Outdoor Programming

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COVINGTON- As the St. Tammany Parish Library prepares for upcoming fall programming, patrons can expect the hybrid model of in-person outdoor programming and virtual programming, to remain in place for the foreseeable future.

“We have social distancing mitigation measures in place and we’ve designed the spaces inside our branches to ensure that our libraries are a safe place to visit for everyone. The programming we provide is based on this also,” said Kelly LaRocca, Director of the St. Tammany Parish Library. “We value our patrons and their safety, and we want tour staff to feel safe as well. We appreciate the patience of everyone, as we continue to work toward this goal during this pandemic.”

As the school year kicks off, beginning the week of Aug. 9, small branches of the St. Tammany Parish Library will begin evening hours on Wednesday nights. The six small branches — Abita Springs, Lacombe, Pearl River, Lee Road, Folsom, and Bush — will open at noon and remain open until 8 p.m. on Wednesdays. The six large branches will maintain their current hours: Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Masks are required in all St. Tammany Parish Library branches, after St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper announced increased COVID-19 preventative measures in late July. Beginning Wednesday, August 4, 2021, all patrons five and older will be required to wear a mask inside library branches in cooperation with Governor John Bel Edwards statewide indoor mask mandate announced August 2, 2021. Patrons are also asked to maintain proper social distancing. In addition, every other public computer will be available for use for the safety of our patrons. Masks and sanitizing supplies are provided. All St. Tammany Parish Library branches offer curbside service until dusk each evening for patrons who do not wish to come into the library. Find more information or register for an event: www.sttammanylibrary.org

General Local News Parish News

St. Tammany Financial Disclosure Bill

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Covington Weekly has an archive of economic development-related articles that suggest St. Tammany Parish is in need of greater transparency with regard to the flow of tax-derived money.

For this reason, a request for a Financial Disclosure Bill in St. Tammany Parish was sent by e-mail to Senator Patrick McMath, Representative Mark Wright and Parish President Mike Cooper.

Representative Wright responded:

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Good Morning Representative Wright,

The St. Tammany Parish Public Financial Disclosure Bill
A bill to disclose all public monies/subsidies/allowances received by any entity operating within the parish of St. Tammany.
While working in the capacity of correspondent for Covington Weekly, I often found information regarding the flow of public money (i.e. money in the arena of parish government and related agencies) to be extremely lacking with regard to the St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation (now defunct).
In researching its origins, I found two pieces of bad legislation, one written by former representative Tim Burns, and another by senator Donahue. One allowed for conflicts of interest to exist between the foundation and other areas of parish government; the other affected the board appointment process. At least one of the pieces of legislation violated the state constitution’s ethics laws.
In another investigation into disaster relief funds, I found that the parish government diverted a portion of hud funds to private development projects, resulting in a wrist-slapping from hud (and probably more oversight).
Then there is the former parish president Brister’s appointment to a Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas that lent exclusively to one local banking family that had something to do with a little utility company.
On a more sinister note, I was contacted by a representative of a local women’s shelter after publishing an article about trafficked children. She wanted to meet and discuss the angle of the article, which described the problem as ‘institutional’.
A week later, she cancelled the meeting, and i was told that her funding was threatened (my speculation is that her funding was threatened for talking to me. She spoke of a facility that consistently sent her individuals that were there to recruit other girls.)
This implicates a local foundation that has a 7 million dollar off-shore account and a larger operating budget than the city of Covington. I’ve gotten the insinuation over the years that another large parish bond-holder may also be implicated in the above scenario.
It is for these reasons that there is a need for full financial disclosure of all entities operating in St. Tammany Parish with any public monies/ subsidies/ allowances.
Every corporation operating in the parish of St. Tammany under revenue bond should be public information with full financial disclosure.
Every non-profit/ foundation receiving any public funding should have full public financial disclosure.
Every religious/church entity receiving any public funding should have full public financial disclosure.
Please consider this information, as my request is a result of my experience.

Best Regards,

Timothy Gates
Wright, Rep. Mark (Chamber Laptop) mwright@legis.la.gov

Jul 27, 2021, 11:19 AM (20 hours ago)

to me
Thanks for the email Timothy.

Just so I’m clear, are you suggesting I file a bill mandating this or simply look into the matter in St. Tammany?

Regards,
Mark Wright
985-590-1204
Timothy Gates codexproventus@gmail.com

Jul 27, 2021, 11:51 AM (20 hours ago)

to Mark
I took it upon myself to look into the matter.

Over the years, I communicated with both the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office and the HUD IG with regard to public funds and bond-related issues.

I am asking for a bill mandating full financial disclosure for all entities operating within St. Tammany Parish that receive any public monies/ subsidies /allowances.

There are many examples why this should be in place.

I hope this clarifies the request.

Best Regards,

Timothy Gates
Timothy Gates codexproventus@gmail.com

Jul 27, 2021, 11:56 AM (20 hours ago)

to fernsolutions
Wright, Rep. Mark (Chamber Laptop)

Tue, Jul 27, 1:10 PM (19 hours ago)

to me
Okay, I’ll look into it. Since the next session isn’t until next Spring, it will be a while until I get back with anything substantial, but I’ll be back in touch.
Mark

Get Outlook for iOS
From: Timothy Gates codexproventus@gmail.com
Sent: Tuesday, July 27, 2021 11:51:17 AM
To: Wright, Rep. Mark (Chamber Laptop) mwright@legis.la.gov
Subject: Re: St. Tammany Parish Public Financial Disclosure Bill

[Message clipped] View entire message
Timothy Gates codexproventus@gmail.com

Jul 27, 2021, 2:28 PM (17 hours ago)

to Mark
Thank you for your attention and response.

I look forward to hearing further, and I will follow up as well

I find the standard response to be lacking with regard to the material and examples offered.

If you support my efforts toward a financial disclosure bill, PLEASE phone, email, fax, tweet or write a letter to Representative Mark Wright’s office stating as such:

Representative Mark Wright https://house.louisiana.gov/H_Reps/members?ID=77

312 South Jefferson StreetSuite A & BCovington, LA 70433

Phone: (985) 893-6262Fax: (985) 893-6261 wrightm@legis.la.gov

Legislative Assistant: Anecia Kenley

Representing Parishes: St. TammanyCorresponding Senate District(s): 11 and 12

General Healthy Living

NHTSA Bicycle Safety Tips

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By law, bicycles on the roadway are vehicles with the same rights and responsibilities as motorized vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s bicycle safety initiatives focus on encouraging safer choices on the part of the bicyclists and drivers to help reduce deaths and injuries on our roads.
Bike Helmets Every bike ride begins with putting on a helmet, and it’s equally important that you ensure a proper fit so your helmet can best protect you. Helmet size can vary between manufacturers; follow the steps to fit a helmet properly.
Avoiding/Decreasing Risk of Crashes Regardless of the reason for an incident, prevention is the name of the game. There are some things you can do to reduce the risk of a crash. Here are some bicycle safety facts:
Bicycle deaths occur most often between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., regardless of the season. Bicycle deaths occur most often in urban areas (75%) compared to rural areas (25%) in 2017. Bicycle deaths were 8 times higher for males than females in 2017. Alcohol was involved in 37% of all fatal bicycle crashes in 2017.

Bicycle Turn Signals (L-R): Left Turn, Right Turn, Right Turn (2 options), Stop


Ride responsibly, and remember that all states require bicyclists on the roadway to follow the same rules and responsibilities as motorists. Wear equipment to protect you and make you more visible to others (bright clothing). Wear reflective gear at night and fit your bicycle with lights and reflectors for high visibility.
Carry all items in a backpack or strapped to the back of the bicycle. Tuck and tie your shoe laces and pant legs so they don’t get caught in the chain. Plan your route – choose less congested routes and slower speeds. The safest route may be away from traffic altogether, in a bike lane or on a bike path.

Sponsored by Chop Top Barbershop, A Traditional Barbershop in Downtown Covington. Chop Top Barbershop is now open in historic downtown Covington, conveniently located at 609 East Boston Street. Walk Ins are welcome. Featuring traditional cuts and a friendly atmosphere, Chop Top Barbershop includes all the amenities, including ear, nose and brow trimming, sideburns and back of neck. Finish it all with a hot towel straight razor shave for a completely fresh look.

Visit Chop Top Barbershop today at 609 E. Boston or call 985-327-5065. Find Chop Top Barbershop on Facebook.

General Healthy Living

Red Cross Swimming Safety Tips

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The Red Cross offers important swimming safety tips to help you and your kids be safe this summer while in the water. Sponsored by JD Pool Clean & Pump Repair LLC.

Swimming is a great recreational sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. But it’s important to know how to be safe while you’re in the water. The American Red Cross offers these important swimming safety tips you should be aware of before you head out to the pool or beach:

By Namtoagaowen – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19355730

Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards. Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone. Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.

Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone. Maintain constant supervision. Make sure everyone in your family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and learn-to-swim courses.

If you have a pool, secure it with appropriate barriers. Many children who drown in home pools were out of sight for less than five minutes and in the care of one or both parents at the time. Avoid distractions when supervising children around water.

If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability. Have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit. Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.

Protect your skin. Limit the amount of direct sunlight you receive between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and wear sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15. Drink plenty of water regularly, even if you’re not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them. Enroll in Red Cross home pool safety, water safety, first aid and CPR/AED courses to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies.

Sponsored by JD Pool Clean & Pump Repair LLC, a family owned pool-cleaning company proudly serving the Northshore area. JD Pool Clean & Pump Repair LLC is insured, offering quality service at a competitive rate. Call JD Pool Clean & Pump Repair today at 985-645-6259 or visit them online at jdpoolclean.net.

Swimming Pool and Spa Safety

Swimming pools and spas are great places for family fun. It’s important to ensure everyone follows these simple safety steps to stay safer in and around the water.

  1. Never leave a child unattended in or near water.
  2. Teach children how to swim.
  3. Teach children to stay away from drains.
  4. Ensure all pools and spas – both in your backyard and any public pool you may visit – have compliant drain covers.
  5. Install proper barriers, covers and alarms on and around your pool and spa.
  6. Know how to perform CPR on children and adults.

Healthy Living Local Events

Girls Summit On Preteen Health at the West St. Tammany YMCA

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COVINGTON – West St. Tammany YMCA, St. Tammany Health System and Ochsner Health are sponsoring a fun, free girls’ summit, Saturday, June 26, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the West St. Tammany YMCA, 71256 Francis Rd., Covington.

YMCA West St. Tammany Hosts Girls Preteen Health Summit June 26, 2021

The hosts invite girls and their caregivers to join a dynamic panel of health experts from the local community for a summit to discuss important topics that impact girls including skin care, puberty, nutritional support and tips on navigating social media, peers and performance anxiety.

Christel Malinski MD, local dermatologist, will discuss skin care and sun protection. St. Tammany Health System’s Perry Russell D-NP, will address physical and emotional changes of puberty. Ochsner Eat Fit’s Brittany Craft RD LDN, will cover nutrition to support an active lifestyle. LSUHSC graduate student Ali Laiche will address navigating challenges associated with social media, peers and pressure to excel.

Ochsner Eat Fit and Salad Station will provide lunch and YMCA Zumba instructor Adriana Michel will lead a Zumba and hip-hop session to end the day.

sths

The heartbeat of its community, St. Tammany Health System cares for patients and families with excellence, compassion and teamwork. It is recognized for quality, safety and service excellence by CareChex, Leapfrog, Healthgrades, Hospital Compare, Women’s Choice and US News & World Report. St. Tammany Parish Hospital Service District No. 1 and Ochsner Health work together in partnership to improve the community’s health and quality of life. Together, west St. Tammany’s top two independent health leaders represent the most complete system of care, aligning behind the common goals of improving access, expanding specialty care and making care affordable. Under their agreement, each retains its autonomy; neither manages nor owns the other. Self-supporting, not-for-profit STHS is A+ rated by Fitch and receives no tax funding. More at StTammany.health

Healthy Living Local News

St. Tammany Health System Launches BeWellBus.health

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Be Well Bus to bring health education, outreach and screenings to Northshore residents

COVINGTON – St. Tammany Health System today announced a new outreach tool for improving health on the Northshore, the Be Well Bus, community health screening mobile unit.

“We’re excited to announce this amazing resource for our community,” Anne Pablovich, STHS community health coordinator, said. “We will take the bus to local businesses, events, festivals and other locations to bring health education, screenings and resources into the neighborhoods. It’s all part of our commitment to world-class healthcare, close to home.”

The Be Well Bus (BeWellBus.health) is a 40-foot mobile unit containing a registration area and two private care rooms to facilitate preventative healthcare in the field. Clinical professionals from St. Tammany Health System and its partner Ochsner Health will travel on the bus to destinations throughout St. Tammany and Washington parishes to offer 3-D digital screening mammography, education, outreach, vaccinations (COVID-19 and others), and health screenings including blood pressure, arterial ultrasounds and cancer screenings.

“We will be able to perform screenings on the bus for a broad array of cancers including breast, prostate, skin, head and neck,” Pavlovich said, “plus we’ll be able to provide the DNA fecal immunochemical test (FIT kit) for colon cancer screenings and do lung cancer assessments that may lead to follow up for those who need low-dose CT lung testing at the STHS Cordes Pavilion.”

The Be Well Bus is an initiative of St. Tammany Health System in partnership with Ochsner Health. It serves as part of a larger initiative called Healthier Northshore, aimed at improving the health and wellness of St. Tammany and Washington parish residents.

“In a state ranked 49th for overall health, in a region with higher cancer rates than Louisiana’s average and the state’s highest prostate cancer mortality rate, our community’s health directly impacts our success and quality of life,” STHS CEO Joan Coffman explained. “St. Tammany Health System’s Be Well Bus and the Healthier Northshore initiative we launched with likeminded Northshore leaders will elevate the overall health of our population and improve the quality of life for those who live here. We’re raising awareness, addressing barriers to good health and wellness, providing screenings, connecting patients to care and measuring outcomes for learning opportunities.”

The heartbeat of its community, St. Tammany Health System cares for patients and families with excellence, compassion and teamwork. It is recognized for quality, safety and service excellence by CareChex, Leapfrog, Healthgrades, Hospital Compare, Women’s Choice and US News & World Report. St. Tammany Parish Hospital Service District No. 1 and Ochsner Health work together in partnership to improve the community’s health and quality of life. Together, west St. Tammany’s top two independent health leaders represent the most complete system of care, aligning behind the common goals of improving access, expanding specialty care and making care affordable. Under their agreement, each retains its autonomy; neither manages nor owns the other. Self-supporting, not-for-profit STHS is A+ rated by Fitch and receives no tax funding. More at StTammany.health

General Local Events Local News

STOPS Announces Summer Training

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St. Tammany Outreach for the Prevention of Suicide announces their summer trainings for 2021

The Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) – a two-day suicide first-aid interactive workshop will be held on June 17th and 18th in Covington.
The program provides training for caregivers seeking to prevent the immediate risk of suicide. Participants often include: people concerned about family or friends, emergency service workers, counselors, teachers, ministers, mental health practitioners, law enforcement workers and community volunteers. The emphasis is on suicide first-aid. This is a full two day intensive course taught by 2 to 3 trained staff. The course is approved by the NASW-LA Chapter for 14 general CEU credits. The cost is a nominal registration fee of $50.00. Scholarships are available.

Also being offered is the safeTALK training, Suicide Alertness For Everyone, which is a program to prepare persons to be suicide alert helpers in only a few hours. Participants will learn the TALK steps: Tell, Ask, Listen and Keep safe. Being trained in this process can assist in saving lives in our communities. The date for the safeTALK training is Thursday, June 24th in Covington. This course has been approved for 2.5 CEU general credits by the NASW-La Chapter. The cost is $35.00 to cover materials. Scholarships may be available for those who do not have the means to pay the nominal fees.

STOPS is now offering SuicideTALK which is a short exploration and awareness raising session. It is flexible to meet the needs of each group. SuicideTALK is aimed at all members and groups within communities. It is practice-oriented and provides open and honest dialogue for anyone interested in attending. It can last one to three hours with the content adapting to the needs of the group. By dispelling the myth that talking about suicide promotes suicidal behavior, SuicideTALK provides a solid foundation for suicide prevention. It aims to reduce stigma around suicide and promote awareness within the community. It also provides an opportunity for networking among participants. The TALK is a good starting point for those interested in learning more about suicide and attitudes around the issue. If you are interested in arranging a SuicideTALK for your workplace or community group, please contact Lynette Savoie, Executive Director of STOPS at 985.237.5506.

St. Tammany Parish has typically had one of the highest suicide rates in the state. STOPS has been working since its inception in December of 2001 to reduce the number of suicides through prevention and intervention with our ASIST and safeTALK classes, SuicideTALK sessions, and post vention with our SOS Support Group and our LOSS team. STOPS also provides speakers to inform community groups of signs to look for and how to handle those who may be at risk. STOPS has been a partner in the St. Tammany Parish School Board’s Youth Suicide Prevention Focus Group since its inception. For further information and to register for the trainings please visit the STOPS website at www.stops-la.com or call 985-237-5506.

Healthy Living Local Events

FiA Northshore is a Free, Peer-led Women’s Fitness Group

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Females in Action (FiA) has expanded to the Northshore! Each day, across 16 states, more than 5,000 women come together for FiA workouts, sharing fitness, friendship, and so much more! FiA is a community of like-minded women who gather for workouts and stay for the bonds of friendship. The support that we receive and share goes far beyond the early hours that we meet for exercise. At FiA, we are focused on encouraging one another to push beyond our comfort zones.

“The more women help one another, the more we help ourselves. Acting like a coalition truly does produce results.”

FiA workouts are FREE, peer-led, held outdoors, and open to women of all ages and fitness levels. Join us for the support, friendship & accountability that goes far beyond the early hours that we workout together.

Join us each Saturday @ 7 AM at the Covington trailhead (419 N New Hampshire St.)

Find us on Facebook, or email us at FiANorthshore@gmail.com

Healthy Living Local News Parish News

STPG and Partners Offer Another Tool in Fighting Opioid Epidemic

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St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper announced today that St. Tammany Parish Government, in collaboration with St. Tammany Parish Coroner Dr. Charles Preston, has secured 1980 kits containing two 4mg doses of the opioid antagonist NARCAN for cost-free pick up by citizens at fire stations throughout St. Tammany, and at Florida Parishes Human Services Authority offices.

St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Randy Smith; St. Tammany Parish Fire District #1 Chief Chris Kaufmann; Florida Parishes Human Services Executive Director Richard Kramer; and Dan Schneider, Advocate and subject of the Netflix Documentary The Pharmacist, joined President Cooper and Coroner Preston to make the announcement this morning with the St. Tammany Parish 22nd Judicial District Attorney Warren Montgomery and 22nd Judicial Specialty Court Judges ——– standing in support of this collaborative initiative. This distribution — the first phase of a two-phase initiative in the fight against the ongoing Opioid Epidemic— was made possible through a competitive grant — the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Program — from the Bureau of Justice Administration.

“The Opioid Epidemic is real and it is crippling to the families who face it every single day. We are committed to our fight against this dreaded addiction. The Louisiana Department of Health reports that in 2019, St. Tammany Parish had the second highest number of Opioid-involved deaths in the State of Louisiana,” President Cooper said. “While NARCAN is not a solution to addiction, it does offer citizens a second chance to save their loved one’s life, to start them on the path to recovery through treatment. We are proud to facilitate this program and grateful to all involved stakeholders who will make this life-saving effort a reality.”

“There are often times when our deputies arrive on a scene, prior to EMS. When someone is overdosing and time is of the essence, this tool (NARCAN) gives our deputies the ability to immediately render aid and potentially save lives,” said St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Randy Smith. “NARCAN will not prevent a person from using drugs in the future, but it gives them a fighting chance to have a future where they can make better decisions and ultimately get the help they need to fight their addiction.”

“NARCAN can transform a tragic death into the chance for a new life,” said Dr. Charles Preston, St. Tammany Parish Coroner.

“NARCAN may give you a chance at life, but a recovery program can save your life,” said Chief Chris Kaufmann, St. Tammany Fire District #1. “Together we can make a difference.”

“We commend President Cooper for taking this step to help protect the lives of people in our community and are thankful that he has asked us to be a partner in this initiative,” said Richard Kramer, Executive Director, Florida Parishes Human Services.

“Treat every overdose person as if it was your child. NARCAN can give them a chance at recovery and a future,” said The Pharmacist, Dan Schneider.

Beginning Thursday, April 29, 2021, citizens may visit fire stations throughout St. Tammany Parish to pick up kits containing two 4mg doses of NARCAN with administration instructions. The doses have a three-year shelf life. The kits are free and no questions are asked. Citizens will be asked to sign a waiver indicating they received instructions on how to administer the life-saving drug. Officials stress that people who administer NARCAN to an overdose victim should immediately seek medical attention for them through 9-1-1. The Good Samaritan Law protects individuals who seek emergency help during an overdose, even if they too are involved in illegal drug use at the time of the life-saving call to first responders.

The second phase of this initiative will focus on recovery and treatment resources. The total expenditure for grant fulfillment during Phase I for the outreach and packaging materials as well as the NARCAN purchase was $169,500. Plans for Phase II will be announced in the coming months. The distribution of NARCAN will continue until all kits are depleted.

For a map of pickup locations, please visit www.stpgov.org/NARCAN

Healthy Living Local Events

Spring Into Health at the Covington Farmer’s Market

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Join representatives of St. Tammany Health System and Spring Into Health at the Saturday Covington Farmer’s Market (609 N. Columbia Street). Erlinda Nye will lead a Tai Chi Session beginning at 8am to be followed by a 9am tour of the Farmer’s Market for Cancer fighting foods and nutrients provided by Registered Dietician, Ashley Eusea. We’re also hosting a FREE skin cancer screening opportunity provided by Board Certified Dermatologist, Dr. Brianna McDaniel, who will be available from 8am -10am. This event is open to the public and free for participants. For more information, please contact Anne Pablovich at apablovich@stph.org.

Event by St. Tammany Health System
Covington La Farmer’s Market
Saturday, May 15, 2021 at 8 AM CDT – 10 AM CDT
70–84°F Chance of Thunderstorms
Price: Free · Duration: 2 hr

The heartbeat of its community, St. Tammany Health System cares for patients and families with excellence, compassion and teamwork. It is recognized for quality, safety and service excellence by CareChex, Leapfrog, Healthgrades, Hospital Compare, Women’s Choice and US News & World Report. St. Tammany Parish Hospital Service District No. 1 and Ochsner Health work together in partnership to improve the community’s health and quality of life. Together, west St. Tammany’s top two independent health leaders represent the most complete system of care, aligning behind the common goals of improving access, expanding specialty care and making care affordable. Under their agreement, each retains its autonomy; neither manages nor owns the other. Self-supporting, not-for-profit STHS is A+ rated by Fitch and receives no tax funding. More at StTammany.health

Healthy Living Local Events

Women Empowered: Free Self-Defense Seminar May 15th

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Join Women Empowered Instructor Heather Botsford on Saturday, May 15, 2021 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Covington Karate Studio (1326 West 21st Avenue) for a Free Self-Defense Seminar. While participation is free, you must rsvp in advance to save your spot by calling 985-893-9644. No experience is necessary, the seminar is open to ages 13 and up. Wear comfortable workout attire.

Heather Botsford started Kenpo Karate and Gracie Jiu Jitsu classes at Covington Karate Studio about 6 years ago. She explained that she loves both forms of martial arts, but Gracie Jiu Jitsu was more of a natural fit because the techniques developed by Grandmaster Helio Gracie rely on timing and technique rather than brute strength.
Heather earned her first belt in Gracie Jiu Jitsu in 2019 and began to study the Women Empowered program, which consists of twenty self-defense techniques for the twenty most common physical threats against women. She earned her pink belt through Gracie University and became a Women Empowered Instructor after a ten-week course including the submission of five teaching videos and a workshop with the creators of the program.
Heather moved to Covington seven years ago when she married John Botsford; together they have five children, five grandchildren and two cats. Heather teaches English at Southeastern Louisiana University.

Featured Posts General Local News

Half Shell Oyster House Raises Minimum Wage of Non-Tipped Employees

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New $12 minimum wage is effective beginning Thursday, April 15 for non-tipped employees

COVINGTON, La. (April 15, 2021) – Half Shell Oyster House has implemented a $12 minimum wage for all non-tipped employees beginning Thursday, April 15. The $12 minimum wage applies to tipped employees when they are performing non-tipped duties such as expediting and opening duties.

“We believe we have a custodial responsibility to those who work for us. The food on the table that our employees’ children eat is our responsibility and quite frankly they just can’t afford it at $7.25 an hour. A year ago, we raised our minimum wage to $11.00 an hour and we feel by raising it again this year that we are better paralleling the needs of our staff,” says Vice President of Operations & Human Resources Kevin Fish.

Half Shell Oyster House is currently hiring at all locations and has implemented a companywide “Bring a Friend to Work” bounty program. Current employees who refer a friend to apply and complete training with us will receive $200, and if that new employee remains in our employ for 30 days the referring employee will receive $300.

All Half Shell Oyster House hourly employees are immediately eligible for free Employee Assistant Programs that offer 24/7 confidential online help for family, parenting, emotional, legal, financial, relationship and stress guidance. Opt-in coverages available include telemedicine, dental, vision, short term disability, accident, cancer, critical illness, medical bridge, and life insurance. Hourly employees after 30 days qualify for 401k and\or Roth IRA with a 50% match up to 4%. After one year of employment and working an average of 30 hours a week hourly employees become eligible for Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance policy.

Please apply online at https://www.halfshelloysterhouse.com/ or apply in person Monday-Friday from 1p.m. to 4p.m. at all locations. For a list of locations please visit https://www.halfshelloysterhouse.com/location.

Healthy Living Local Events

Covington Bicycle Club Meeting and Ride Thursday

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The Covington Bicycle Club announces their first meeting and ride Thursday, April 22nd at 6 p.m. from Brooks Bike Shop on the Tammany Trace. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. and the ride starts at 6:30; bring any fresh ideas for the club to discuss.

The ride will have a stop at The Shack and will end at Buster’s Place/ Green Room. Invite your friends and bring your lights. Rentals will be available.

Brooks’ Bike Shop is a full service bicycle shop that buys, sells, trades and rents bikes of all types. Brooks’ also offers kayak rentals. Located on the Tammany Trace in historic downtown Covington. Visit them online at brooksbikeshop.com and find them on Facebook.

Healthy Living Local Events

Egg Rollin’ at the Covington Trailhead

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Egg Rollin’ at the Covington Trailhead takes place Saturday, April 3, 2021 from 10 a.m. til 12 noon at the Covington Trailhead, located at 419 N. New Hampshire St. Egg Rollin’ at the Covington Trailhead features Red Barn Farm Animals mobile petting zoo, an Easter Egg Hunt, Easter Craft Activities, Face Painting and a Kiwanis Youth Wellness Fair from 10 a.m. til 1 p.m.

This event is free and open to the public. For more information about the event, call 985-892-1873. E-mail the City of Covington at GottaLuvCov@covla.com.

Healthy Living Local Events Local News

CHS Lady Lions Soccer Tryouts

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Covington High Lady Lions Soccer Tryouts will be held Thursday, May 20,2021 from 4p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Covington High School- Salter Stadium. You must have a current physical to try out. Contact: Katherine.patrick@stpsb.org.

Find the CHS Lady Lions Soccer Team online and on Facebook to keep up with schedules, activities and fundraisers. This article updated at 11:31 a.m., 5/12/21

Healthy Living Local Events

Zumba with the Mayor Free Exercise Class This Sunday

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Registration is open for Zumba with the Mayor this Sunday, an up-beat and interactive multi-generational exercise dance class. This free class is open to all levels of experience and abilities – it’s about moving and having fun.

The City of Covington Mayor’s Council on Healthy Lifestyles teams up with Oschner and St. Tammany Health Systems to bring together five local instructors from the YMCA, Star Fitness, Bogue Falaya Fitness, Mandeville Sports Complex, Pelican Athletic Club and Francos. Five instructors, 90 minutes of cardio, core, and fun!

This event is free and open to the public. Due to COVID, attendance is limited. Click here to register for this event.

Learn more about the Mayor’s Council on Healthy Lifestyles on their Facebook page here.

Healthy Living Local Events

Sign Up Today for Zumba w/ the Mayor this Sunday

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Registration is open for Zumba with the Mayor, an up-beat and interactive multi-generational exercise dance class. This free class is open to all levels of experience and abilities – it’s about moving and having fun.

The City of Covington Mayor’s Council on Healthy Lifestyles teams up with Oschner and St. Tammany Health Systems to bring together five local instructors from the YMCA, Star Fitness, Bogue Falaya Fitness, Mandeville Sports Complex, Pelican Athletic Club and Francos. Five instructors, 90 minutes of cardio, core, and fun!

This event is free and open to the public. Due to COVID, attendance is limited. Click here to register for this event.

Learn more about the Mayor’s Council on Healthy Lifestyles on their Facebook page here.

Uncategorized

Donate to Rotary Clubs’ Feeding the Needy Christmas Meals Program

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from Covington Rotary Club:

About Feeding The Needy

Feeding the Needy was founded in 2002 by John Baldwin and Craig Babylon to provide food on Christmas day for families in need on the Northshore. John and Craig shared the idea with Deacon Skip Graffinini, who was the executive director of The Covington Food Bank, which is now The Northshore Food Bank, and learned that The Food Bank was servicing sixty to sixty-five families at that time. A decision was made to move forward, and the project was named “Feeding the Needy”. The Covington Rotary Club was approached for support and special focus was put on providing food for the school children who, during the holidays, do not receive the meals they receive at school and depend on as their main source of nutrition.

Each year on December 23 and 24, volunteers from all over the area come together to prepare Christmas boxes that include a 14-to-16-pound cooked turkey with numerous side dishes and dessert.  Each box has enough food to feed a family of four to five with larger families receiving additional boxes. Deliveries are made to families throughout the Northshore area including St. Tammany, Washington, and Tangipahoa parishes. On Christmas morning, Rotarians and other community volunteers hand deliver the boxes to the homes of the identified families. Each family only needs to heat the food and it is ready to serve as a substantial Christmas Day meal and have leftovers to help on the days leading up to school reopening.

This year, due to COVID things will be a little different for FTN. We will have fewer volunteer opportunities and will be offering pick up locations instead of home deliveries.

Meal Pick Up Locations –
First Come, First Served Basis

Franklinton
Saturday, December 19th
9am – 12 pm
East Fairgrounds
Behind Rodeo Arena

Bogalusa
Saturday, December 19th
1pm – 4pm
Northshore Charter School
111 Walker Street, Bogalusa

Covington
Tuesday, December 22nd
9:30am- 2:30pm
St. Tammany Parish Fairgrounds
1304 N. Columbia Street, Covington

Monetary Donations

FTN relies heavily on financial donations. Because of the support from so many generous volunteers and strong partnerships, FTN is able to operate with minimal administrative costs.  Donations for FTN are accepted year-round and can be made below.

To Mail a Check: Checks can be made payable to The Covington Rotary Foundation, which is a 501(c)3 foundation with the corresponding tax status. Please mail checks to The Covington Rotary Club, PO Box 541 Covington, LA 70433.   Checks can also be dropped off at Baldwin Motors, 1730 N Hwy 190, in Covington.

To Donate On-line: CLICK HERE to make an online donation.

Please read the message below from our Chairman and Fundraising Coordinator: 

Volunteers  

Unfortunately, we will not be utilizing community volunteers this year due to COVID. If you have any questions, please contact Jill via email at jilly2134@gmail.com or by phone at 985-502-6575.  

Learn more at the Covington Rotary Club website.

General Local News Parish News

Nov 3 Voting Information for St. Tammany Parish – Early Voting Happening Now

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The following information is from the St. Tammany Parish Registrar of Voters. Visit www.stprov.org or the Louisiana Secretary of State Office at www.sos.la.gov for more information.

Election Day Information

The next Election Day is Tuesday, November 3, 2020
Election Day Voting Hours are from 6:00 AM till 8:00 PM
Early Voting *** Hours 8:00 A.M. – 7:00 P.M
*** EARLY VOTING HOURS ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE PER COURT ORDER

The Tuesday November 3, Presidential / Congressional / Open Primary Election includes the following:

  • President
  • U.S. Senator
  • U.S. Representative – 1st Congressional District
  • Public Service Commissioner – District 1
  • District Judge – 22nd Judicial District Court, Division J
  • District Attorney — 22nd Judicial District Court
  • Justice(s) of the Peace — Justice of the Peace Wards 1, 4, 5, and 8
  • Constable(s) — Constable Wards 2, 4, 6, 7, and 10
  • Constitutional Amendments 1 through 7
  • PW Sports Wagering — Authorize Sports Wagering Activities – Act 215, 2020

How to Use the Secretary of State Website Portal for Sample Ballots

The clickable link below will route you to the Secretary of State’s Website where you can search for your Sample Ballot and other useful election information.

Follow these easy steps:

  1. 1. Click “Search by Voter” – enter your First and Last name, then enter your birth month and year
  2. 2. Click “Ballot Information” – then click “What’s on my ballot?

CLICK HERE to Enter the Secretary of State Website Portal for Sample Ballots in upcoming elections.

ONLINE VOTER REGISTRATION

If you would like to register to vote online, please visit the website below:
http://www.sos.la.gov/ElectionsAndVoting/Pages/OnlineVoterRegistration.aspx

ONLINE APPLICATION TO VOTE BY MAIL FOR ST. TAMMANY CITIZENS AND ALSO FOR MILITARY AND OVERSEAS CITIZENS

If you would like to request an absentee ballot by mail online, you may make a request through the voter portal link below:
https://voterportal.sos.la.gov/
NOTE: In the voter portal, search for your name, then click Voting Information, then click Online Absentee Request and fill in the required information.

VOTING BY MAIL INFORMATION FOR MILITARY AND OVERSEAS CITIZENS

If you are in the military or an overseas citizen and would like additional information on how to vote by mail, please visit the below website:
https://www.fvap.gov/

ST. TAMMANY CLERK OF COURT – ELECTIONS DEPARTMENT

For more information about upcoming elections, please visit the Clerk of Court’s website below:
http://www.sttammanyclerk.org/Departments/Elections

Early Voting Dates

In person for the Tuesday November 3, Presidential Election
Early Voting Week 10 days of Early Voting
Friday, October 16th thru Tuesday, October 27th
(closed on Sunday)

Early Voting Locations

Covington:
601 N. Jefferson Avenue
St. Tammany Justice Center Parking Garage
across from the Justice Center in Downtown Covington

Slidell:
520 Old Spanish Trail – The Towers Building
first floor conference training area

Mandeville:
21490 Koop Drive – Council Chambers
First building on the left

Early Voting Hours

Weekdays: 8:00 A.M.- 7:00 P.M
Saturdays: 8:00 A.M.- 7:00 P.M
Slidell closed daily for lunch from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM
Sundays: Closed

To find your polling location or a sample ballot click the following link:
Secretary of State Website Portal

General Local News

St. Tammany Health System Earns A+ from Fitch Ratings

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COVINGTON – Fitch Ratings has affirmed the ‘A+’ Issuer Default Rating (IDR) for St. Tammany Parish Hospital Service District No. 1, (St. Tammany Health System) with positive outlook.

According to Fitch, “the affirmation of the ‘A+’ rating reflects strong operating performance that has helped support solid liquidity and leverage metrics even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Fitch further noted St. Tammany’s solid market share in a growing service area as well as its joint operating agreement with Ochsner Heath, which coordinates clinical services and operating income, supporting consistent volume and revenue growth.

The coronavirus pandemic figured into Fitch’s rating, as they note of STHS, “Fitch expects that the health system will continue to maintain a strong balance sheet despite pandemic-related pressures and ongoing capital projects, with leverage metrics that will remain consistent with the ‘aa’ category assessment throughout Fitch’s baseline scenario.”

STPH Board Chairman John Evans said, “STHS has worked hard to maintain our strong rating despite the pandemic and current economic outlook. Our board has been dedicated to position STHS for continued success into the future. This A+ Positive Outlook rating is one more step toward that goal.”

STHS President and CEO Joan Coffman added, “We are grateful to each and every colleague, physician, associate and partner that made this rating possible. Additionally, we thank Fitch for taking the time to understand our unique organization and our resolve to be good stewards of our resources in service of our mission caring for our community.”

Fitch has published a detailed explanation of the rating at https://www.fitchratings.com/research/us-public-finance/fitch-affirms-st-tammany-parish-hospital-service-dist-no-1-la-revs-at-a-outlook-positive-01-09-2020.