Kevin Johnson and Ingrid Johnson celebrate upcoming nuptials with a party on the Red River

All photos by Sherri L. Jackson

Kevin Johnson and Ingrid Johnson held an unusual Engagement Party today on the Red River in Alexandria, La.
The couple invited family and friends to theAlexandria Amphitheatre to celebrate their upcoming wedding scheduled for 10 p.m. Dec. 31.

The party was a glimpse into what’a in store for the untraditional wedding the couple will have at the Alexandria Convention Center.

For more about this couple, their courtship and wedding plans, log onto their Web site at

Plenty of summer activities available in Central Louisiana

Pages 1-6, Pages 7-12, Pages 13-16May 15, cover

See Page 5 for a list of summer activities available for children in Central Louisiana.

Yvette Cade: “I had to forgive . . . “



By Sherri L. Jackson, The Light

Today Yvette Cade is grateful. She’s grateful to be alive.

Despite the images, horror and agony that she must recall, she’s grateful to be alive to tell the story of the fateful day that changed her life forever.

In fact, almost five years later, she’s come to believe that the tragedy that occurred Oct. 10, 2005, has purpose.

That day, her estranged husband, Roger Byron Hargrave, doused her head with gasoline and set her afire.


Cade’s aunt introduced her to the man who would become Cade’s husband and the father of her daughter. He was well spoken, well educated and well mannerd.

And for the first couple of months Hargrave would wine and dine Cade. Things began to change as he would become angry quickly, become verbally abusive and physically abusive.

Cade got the courage to seperate herself from him physically, but he soon began to stalk her and call her constantly spewing out sexual explicit language.

“I took the first step of standing up when I got a protective order, which is just a piece of paper,” Cade told an audience Thursday, April 30, at the Coughlin Saunders Performing Arts Center.

“It will not protect you from jealously, isolation and stalking. You need to be responsible by not giving up too much information too soon,” she said.

Cade said she tried to leave her husband by going to the House of Ruth. She was turned away because of a lack of bed space, which would not become available for several months. She often called the police for help, but “domestic violence was not a priority.” Since Cade’s tragedy, it has become a priority.

On Oct. 10, 2005, Hargrave walked into Cade’s workplace with a plastic bottle of Sprite in his hands. He came in speaking to her best friend and calling Cade’s name.

Cade said she told him she would be with him once she finished with a customer. He continued messing with her.

“I thought he wanted to give me shame and humiliation,” she said.

“He dumped gas on my head. I ran out of the back door. He followed me lit the match, and I heard an explosion sound.”

Cade said the flames that engulfed her reached 1,500 degrees. “I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy,” said.

Cade said her recently permed hair was an accelerant. “He intended to kill me,” she said.

Hargrave, who left his keys inside of the business went back inside to get them. He left the scene and was arrested a short distance from the business.

Cade, who has undergone multiple surgeries with more to go, suffered third-degree burns over 60 percent of her body. Medical professionals suggested she would be in the hospital for nine months. She left in three months.

“I had to forgive in order to receive my healing,” she said.

Since that time, Cade has used her tragedy to speak to others who find themselves in domestic violence situtions.

“I thank God that I’m able to tell you my story, not for me, but for you, for my family, for the law, and justice,” she said.

Cade it’s important for domestic violence victims to know that their relationships are not just about them, but it’s about their families.

It’s also important to know that people are not made to be prisoners in their own homes, she said.

Cade’s victimization has resulted in several significant changes in the judicial system in Maryland, as well as other states that followed its lead regarding the enforcement of protection orders and the responsibility of courts to intensify their focus on the crime of domestic violence.

In 2007, the U.S. Congressional Victim’s Rights Caucus honored Cade for her leadership as a survivor dedicated to helping other crime victims. In April 2008, she received the Special Courage Award during a ceremony hosted by the Office for Victims of Crime to honor victim advocates, organizations and programs in the field of victim services.

Cade came to Alexandria at the request of Carolyn Hoyt and NextSTEP of Central Louisiana.

“Domestic violence affects all. The U.S. leads the world, and Louisiana is in the top five states for domestic violence,” Hoyt said.

NextSTEP pulls together local resources that benefits battered women and their children as they struggle to escape dangerous and destructive environments. It provides transitional housing for up to two years, along with services necessary to help families have violence-free and independent lives.

Following Cade’s presentation, a two-act play, “Shelter From My Storm,” which told of a battered woman’s journey from domestic violence to independent living.

The play depicted a compilation of true-life events that have occurred in Central Louisiana.




The Light, May 1-14: Mother’s Day issue

May 1, Pages 1-4, May 1, Pages 5-8, May 1, Pages 9-12

 May 1, Pages 1-41 copy

Rapides Parish schools’ students show off their art talents

Enjoy these photos taken in downtown Alexandria on Friday, May 8.

From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. students performed music through songs and instruments as they showed off their talents in celebration of the arts in public schools, said Dr. Norvella Williams, supervisor of the arts for the Rapides Parish School System.

The day began with greetings from Mayor Jacques Roy; Al Davis, president of the Rapides Parish School Board; Dr. Gary L. Jones, school superintendent.

The entertainment included:

Acadian, Alma Redwine, J.I. Barron, D.F. Huddle Elementary schools; Pineville Junior, Arthur F. Smith and Alexandria Middle schools; and Pineville, Peabody Magnet, Buckeye, Tioga and Alexandria Senior High schools.

The event’s sponsors were Rapides Parish School Board, City of Alexandria, and the Alexandria Museum of Art.

Volunteers cleaning up neighborhoods of trash, litter

Cleaning up off of Rapides Avenue

By Bill Sumrall
The Light

Volunteers from Young Temple Church of God in Christ walked along 9th Street Saturday morning, May 2, picking up litter.

Marie Pullen, 76, sat on her front porch watching the young men.

“I think it’s nice,” Pullen said. “It really helps keep the city clean. It’s very nice of them to be doing it.”

Thus, the nationwide Great American Cleanup proceeded in Alexandria Saturday.

Inside the Broadway Resource Center, Sandra Bright, secretary and spokeswoman for the Lower Third Neighborhood Watch, said members of Young Temple Church of God in Christ at 750 Bogan Ave. are “very active with our neighborhood group also.”

“If we can just get the people to pick up their own, it wouldn’t be necessary for us to do it,” Bright said.

Elder Leon Clayton, who is pastor at Young Temple COGIC, said the cleanup “has made a tremendous change in the community with this program” by encouraging neighbors in cleaning up.

“I can see a great change that’s been taking place in that area and if we can continue to help ourselves by helping others,” Clayton said, adding such efforts unite the community.

Across town along Rapides Avenue Saturday, volunteers John Kilbourne, Rodessa Metoyer and Macon Blankenship were also using pickup sticks to snag crushed cans and litter from the roadside where they walked.

“I just came out to support The Pentecostals of Alexandria and the city of Alexandria,” Blankenship, 51, said.

Metoyer said, “It would be more help if people would bag their trash and not throw it down.”

Kilbourne noted that 15 volunteers from The Pentecostals of Alexandria were also in the area picking up litter, including the Rev. Anthony Mangun, who Kilbourne said leads by example.

“He’s somewhere out here,” Kilbourne said, looking around.

Bettye Jones, executive director for Cenla Pride/Keep Cenla Beautiful, said this is her 20th year with Cenla Pride and they’ve been participating in the Great American Cleanup for at least that long.

More than 2 million people across the country participated in the Great American Cleanup, Jones said.
“The whole idea is we have a force out there doing it,” Jones said, which inspires people in the neighborhoods to join in.

Jones said that in addition to reaching out to clean up neighborhoods, she encouraged people to clean nearby public property “which is their (taxpayers’) property.”

Charlie Anderson, coordinator for Weed and Seed for Alexandria Area Four, said he’d even seen people normally indifferent to their environment “began to clean their yard up” after spotting volunteers cleaning up in their neighborhoods.
“It moved me,” Anderson said. “I’m pretty impressed about that.”

Ann Wilson, superintendent of environmental services with the City of Alexandria, said, “We want to encourage people not to wait for a clean-up day” but to take responsibility for their neighborhoods.

Wilson said many people don’t understand that it’s a volunteer effort to clean up a neighborhood.

Jones agreed, saying she’d gotten calls from people wanting volunteers to come to their personal property and clean it up for them.

Wilson said, “When people take personal responsibility for the way it looks and they pick up litter and trash, it’s less likely it’ll be littered again.”

Wilson cited her daughter’s experience cleaning up a convenience store alleyway in New Orleans as an example.

Wilson said her daughter cleaned the alleyway despite ridicule from neighbors who said it would only get trashed up again.

However, a local preacher had been watching the efforts of Wilson’s daughter and a month later Wilson discovered those efforts had paid off because the preacher and his church had kept the alleyway spruced up ever since.

Wilson said the preacher told her that “people knew in our neighborhood that we care” and were less likely to drop litter there.

“That’s the kind of concept we want to instill in people here,” Wilson said.

Wilson said the state of Louisiana spends $15 million a year to pick up litter and that’s money that can be spent in better ways.

The blue T-shirt worn by Wilson had written across it “Louisiana — Don’t Put It Down.”
Wilson explained that the T-shirt’s logo means people shouldn’t put litter down in the first place. “Dispose of waste properly in the first place,” Wilson said.

Gloria Vantree, 66, of Boyce, a board member for Cenla Pride, was helping distribute T-shirts and pick-up sticks outside The Pentecostals of Alexandria church, one of the command posts for clean-up volunteers Saturday.

It’s very important that if we don’t put down, we don’t have to pick up,” Vantree said.

Sitting beside Vantree to help distribute tee-shirts was Helen Bogue, 86, of Alexandria, who is Bettye Jones’ mother and a Retired Senior Volunteer Program participant.

Bogue wore a white T-shirt that read: “We’re Bitter About Litter.”

“If everyone would take care of their own litter, we’d have a clean place,” Bogue said.
Larry Trowel, 62, of Woodside/Samtown Neighborhood Watch/Neighborhood Leaders and Keep Cenla Beautiful, walked up to select a tee-shirt at the table.

Trowel, who said he was recognized Dec. 5 as a National Volunteer of the Year, said cleaning up neighborhoods is important.

“If we don’t keep our neighborhoods and help others keep their neighborhoods, this city will go down,” Trowel said.

Trowel challenged those who didn’t participate in Saturday’s clean-up efforts to come out at the next event “just to keep our city clean.”

The city’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 16. Residents should bring their household hazardous waste to the Alexandria City Complex located at 2021 Industrial Parkway.

Household hazardous waste is any product labeled as toxic, poison, corrosive, flammable, combustible, or irritant and includes such things as used motor oil, antifreeze, paints, and brake fluid, among others.

Some, but not all, electronic equipment is also accepted for disposal, such as computer hardware and accessories, cell phones and charges, printers, toner and ink jet cartridges.

Electronic and other items not accepted include televisions, stereos, appliances, furniture, ammunition, explosives, and lab or commercial waste.

For a list of items accepted or not accepted for disposal, for questions about how to prepare these materials for disposal or for more information about the city’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day, call Ann Wilson at (318) 441-6251.