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Water Crisis at Red River Parish Schools; The Fight Against Shreveport's Worsening Violent Crime

Water outage in Coushatta, LA is creating an emergency for Red River Parish Schools, bringing in water trucks, portable restrooms, drilling their own well; in Shreveport is Shreveport, LA losing the fight against crime? Despite repeated efforts by police and the community, the homicide rate has almost doubled from a few years ago.

Friday, August 25, 2023 - 89.9 FM KDAQ - Shreveport, LA
Red River Radio News

A Major Water Crisis in Red River Parish Schools - Coushatta, LA [*52 miles SE of Shreveport]

      The Red River Parish School district finds itself in the midst of a full-blown crisis, with Coushatta’s water system breaking down thee previous weekend, forcing district leaders to cancel school for both Monday [August 21] and Tuesday [August 22]. Repairs on one of the system's three pumps failed to stop the problem, forcing the town of Coushatta to issue a number of boil advisories, one of several in the past month, including one that’s still in effect.

With no reliable source of water available, district leaders including superintendent Alison Strong, have scrambled to bring in At least three water tanks, rental portable restrooms along with dozens of pallets of bottled water. Strong says there is a lot of uncertainty about their future right now. “It’s very obvious that the town water system is not reliable and not be for some time. And so, we had to decide how to sustain our school system without depending on the water system from the town of Coushatta.” This effort even includes the digging of wells, underway on Friday [August 25].

Strong credits GOHSEP, the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness for providing help in the initial days of the crisis. Superintendent Strong fears that with all the costs involved in bringing in water and services. She estimates that by the time this crisis subsides to some degree, the costs could end up totaling 50 to-60 thousand dollars, especially those rental portable restrooms. “So, I don’t know how long I’m going to be able to convince the governor’s office to let me have the rental trailers., we're going to push for, as long as we can because if we don't...we'll be in situation where we can't bring kids to school.” Closures would affect several thousand students and their teachers on four separate campus locations.

Prosecutor partnership: Latest strategy against Shreveport's worsening violent crime rate

Shreveport’s seemingly endless efforts against the scourge of violent crime now includes a partnership between federal and parish prosecutors. They appointed a current Caddo Parish assistant district attorney, Jason Waltman, as the first of-its-kind [locally] special federal prosecutor to concentrate on gun and gang violence.

Caddo Parish District Attorney James Stewart and U.S. Attorney Brandon Brown made the announcement this week. Waltman is expected to work closely with the district’s Project Safe Neighborhood Program, along with other assistant U.S. attorneys.

Caddo-Shreveport Crime Stoppers board member Reed Ebarb says the appointment of a special prosecutor should send a strong message to anyone involved in gun and gang violence. “At the federal level there is typically very little or no parole. So, if you get sentenced to federal time you’re going to serve 95 to 100 percent of your sentence. Whereas, at the state level, it’s going to be significantly less because of probation and parole. federal time also tends to be a lot longer. You tend to get put in prisons further away from Shreveport. So, that tells me the federal prosecutor’s office is taking this very seriously.”

While Shreveport's murder rate dropped to 47 in 2022, that's not the whole story. The previous year, in 2021, Shreveport had 83 homicides.

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, and a graduate of the University of Washington, Jeff began his on-air broadcasting career 33 years ago in the Black Hills of South Dakota as a general assignment reporter.