A standing-room-only crowd of over 200 developers, realtors, contractors, business professionals and community leaders attended the first meeting of the Alliance for Positive Growth (APG) last month at Majestic Hall at Walnut Grove to provide details on their mission and goals.
A daunting statistic from Forbes contributor Neil Patel advises that 90% of business startups fail. Fortunately, cousins Anna Boyer and Kate Wyman Reuther didn’t see Patel’s article. With an English degree and Graphic Arts degree between them, they launched a studio printing business in New Orleans in 2013. Today, their efforts have evolved into a growing lifestyle print design business with a robust social media following and an inviting drop-in boutique.
If the natural world beckons you this year, take Highway 171 north to Hodges Gardens, a veritable emerald among Louisiana’s state parks, where beauty and serenity blend on a 900-acre slice of tranquility.
Wendy Colonna grew up in Lake Charles and looks back fondly on those formative years. From the time she was in elementary school, her life revolved around music.
Citizens of Louisiana began to take notice of Donna Edwards in 2015 when she appeared in campaign commercials with her husband, John Bel, a candidate for Governor of Louisiana at the time. As you are aware, Edwards won the election and Donna became Louisianas First Lady. Thrive spoke with Ms. Edwards recently and she told me about her family, her passions, and how her life has changed over the past year since moving into the Governor’s Mansion.
The annual Louisiana Fur and Wildlife Festival takes place in Cameron on January 13-14. This year will specifically celebrate Louisianas fishing industry. The festival has been named one of the Top 20 Events in the Southeast for the third year in a row.
The lights of the auditorium reflected off of the new crown atop her head. Bethany Trahan, a Lake Charles native, had won the title of Miss Louisiana USA 2017! It was a dream come true for Bethany, who had always watched the Miss USA pageants and idolized the titleholders in the Miss USA system.
If you are looking for something a little different to help get you in the Christmas spirit this year consider crossing the state line and enjoy the holidays Texas style.
Sara Judson is a 21st century link in her family’s legacy chain of service and leadership. Her great-grandfather A.A. Nelson was a community organizer and the first director of the Port of Lake Charles. Her grandfather, Dr. W.L. McLeod, was a beloved pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Lake Charles for many years. And her father Bill McLeod served as a Louisiana State Representative, Senator, and Lake Charles Judge. Her mother, Cissie McLeod, was a consummate community volunteer. Through the influence of these leaders in her family, Judson developed a heart for community service. Her roles throughout her varied career align with her passion for the people of southwest Louisiana. She currently serves as president and CEO of the Community Foundation of SWLA. I recently sat down with Sara, where she talked about what it was like growing up in Lake Charles, why she loves her position at the Community Foundation, and how everyone can make a positive impact on society.
There is a relatively new shop in town and it is one of those places you need to experience to truly understand. Shop 706 offers an eclectic mix of apparel, jewelry, home décor, body products, art, and a peaceful place to relax with a glass of fruit-infused water.
There is a new sightseeing tour company in town and it is not only for visitors. William Daigle started his business in August and he is already in high demand. Daigle offers several tours for both locals and tourists. He also provides his services and party van for private parties such as proms, school or family reunions, and Mardi Gras festivities.
In the Bible book of Luke, Jesus told his disciples a parable about an unlikely gentleman from Samaria who stopped to help an injured stranger he found along the side of the road, after several other passersby ignored the victim. It is from this inspiring story we get the common phrase, "Good Samaritan.” Southwest Louisiana abounds with these kind-hearted souls who have a passion for helping others and going above and beyond what is expected. Thrive magazine features four of these exemplary individuals here, in hopes their stories will encourage our readers to find their own ways to be blessings to others.
Most people know Phylicia Rashad as the mom, Clair Huxtable, on the hit television series The Cosby Show from the 1984-1992, a role for which she was nominated for two Emmy awards. But the actress career includes much more than a successful sitcom. Rashad has also performed on the big screen and on stage, both acting and directing. She was the first African American actress to win a Best Actress Tony Award (Play category) for her 2004 portrayal of Lena Younger in a revival of "A Raisin in the Sun.”
During his 30 years as the head baseball coach at Barbe High School, Glenn Cecchini has made the program a regional powerhouse among the elite in the state, with nine titles and even a national championship.
Keith Monroes travels and portfolio range from the cold of the Arctic to the warm waters of the South Pacific. What matters most to him, though, is telling the photographic story of the coastline of his native Louisiana.
For nearly a century, Nancy Wyman has been a part of Lake Charles life. At 96, she still looks forward to the next outing around town
It is no easy task explaining the intricacies of chemosynthetic life and methane seeps to an audience full of children, as well as adults. Doing so remotely over several hundred miles via a live video feed and filling a role on a watch team with seven other scientists each responsible for navigation, research, or operating a remote operated vehicle (ROV for short) all crammed into a cramped control room sounds just about impossible. The fact that Dr. Amber Hale recently spent three weeks doing exactly that and describes the experience simply as "very stressful” says more than a little about her composure. That she emphasized the stress was nothing compared to the opportunities presented by these moments says much more.
The National Park Service will celebrate its 100th anniversary this month, completing its first century of managing and preserving what has been called America’s best idea. Created in response to the conservation movement of the mid-19th century, the agency’s history points to Americas need for open space, natural beauty, and places to visit that remove people, however temporarily, from the busy streets of their day to day lives. It is a story rooted in Americas wanderlust for the west and the preservation of its untamed beauty.
In Southwest Louisiana, we love to eat! In this city with an emerging promising outlook, Lake Charles most important pastime requires adequate eateries to match. Enter the return of Rikenjaks Brewing Company, where they focus on great beer, delicious food, diverse musical talent, and a unique atmosphere. Jay Ecker, co-owner/founder of this popular establishment likened Rikenjaks and its clientele to a family crawfish boil; from grandma to the kids to the pets... everyone is welcome.
Altitude, a new indoor trampoline park in Lake Charles, is the place to be whether you are a kid or just a kid at heart. From trampoline dodge ball to basketball, trapeze swings and more, Altitude has what you need for an active fun experience.
Developers revealed plans for Imperial Pointein Lake Charles, Louisiana, last month. Areagovernment officials and business leaders werein attendance to get the first look at the many different components, including the regions first medical school, planned for this 75 acre development.
Want to get away for a summer vacation, but not travel too far? With an easy three to seven hour drive from Lake Charles, the Gulf Coast offers an abundance of vacation options sure to delight you and your whole family, from Southeast Texas to the Florida Panhandle.
Imagine you are locked in a room with a team of friends. You have one goal . . . to escape in less than sixty minutes. You follow clues that guide you to codes that lead to keys that open locked props and doors into other rooms, providing more clues that will open that last exit door. Welcome to the world of Escape Rooms!
you have likely been a customer of Doug Gehrig, whether you have met him or not, and if you have lived in southwest Louisiana for any amount of time, someone in your household has probably been on the receiving end of a team sponsorship, nonprofit fundraiser or other show of community support from him.
Step through the door at Hotel Whitney and take a leap back in time. When you stay at this luxury boutique hotel in New Orleans Central Business District, you will experience genteel Southern hospitality in a unique historic setting with first-class service and comfortable accommodations.
For Joe Miller Sr., local baseball has been a lasting personal investment. He coached South Lake Charles Little League kids for four decades, then helped McNeese build the field of its dreams. Local baseball has had perhaps no bigger advocate, as countless Little League alumni and college baseball would attest. The retired F. Miller and Sons Construction Co. president is variously recognized as a successful business executive, a civic leader, a longtime board member of Foreman-Reynaud Recreation Center and a seven-figure philanthropist to MSU and all corners of Lake Charles. Baseball, though, has had a special place for his time and underwriting. "There are truly no boundaries to his generosity and support,” said McNeese President Dr. Phillip Williams when he awarded Miller an honorary doctorate in 2013. Now 89, Miller can go enjoy a game at the ballpark that bears his name: Joe Miller Ballpark, or "The Jeaux,” on the McNeese campus. He spoke to Thrive contributor Brett Downer about local baseball, the values of civic commitment and his city.
Austin Dellafosse has been a high achiever his entire life. One might even say that he was on his way to becoming a high achiever just after he was born 2 months prematurely. His mother Kimberly recalls a nurse telling her that Austin had a fighting spirit because he lifted himself up and pulled his own tubes out in the hospital when he was in the neonatal unit.
In the United States, domestic and international travelers spend 2.5 billion a day on tourism. That works out to 105.8 million an hour. And tourism is big business in Louisiana. In 2014, tourists spent $11.2 billion in the state. Calcasieu Parish tourism brought in $404 million.
Cécile McLorin Salvant has been called the finest jazz singer to emerge in the last decade. In 2007, at the age of eighteen, she traveled from Florida to France, with the intention studying law and continuing her education in classical voice at the Darius Milhaud Conservatory. While there, she discovered she had a natural talent for jazz performance. McLorin Salvant found a freedom in jazz improvisation. She reveled in the creative license afforded jazz singers. She was influenced by the masters Sarah Vaughn, Billie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald and studied their techniques. Once she could mimic their phrasing and enunciation, she quickly developed her own unique musical identity. McLorin Salvant sings original pieces as well as the old standards, but she especially enjoys finding exceptional but long-forgotten compositions and re-inventing them with her signature style. She describes her sound as jazz, blues, with elements of folk and musical theatre.
When it comes to what children learn, we often turn a careful eye toward math or science subjects that we believe are quantifiable, particularly in our current era of standardized tests and measurable goals. But every year, a group of local students come together and take the stage to participate in a competition that encourages the nations youth to learn about a less tangible topic: Poetry.
Guest relations director Garrett Manuel does not like to call it a comic con. He has attended cons big and small, some that were comic cons in the strictest interpretation of the phrase, others that were big hits like events in San Deigo or New Orleans. But CyPhaCon, a Southwest Louisiana anime, science fiction and gaming convention, is more than that it is a pop culture convention made by and for the people of the Lake Area.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, it is all dance all evening for 13-year-old Chancey Guidry. After school, Chancey attends Colt Kickers practice from 3:10-4:15. At 4:30, she meets her dance partner Dedrick Johnson at SportDance Academy where she practices ballroom dance until 6 p.m. Then she heads to Elite Danceline Studio at 6:30 for more practice.
In 2006, actor Antonio Banderas starred in the movie Take the Lead, based the true story of Pierre Dulaine and Yvonne Marceau, who introduced ballroom dancing to fifth-graders in the New York City public school system in 1994. The 2005 documentary Mad Hot Ballroom also brought national attention to the advantages of their program, Dancing Classrooms. This program proved to be such a success, they franchised Dancing Classrooms in 2005. Their mission is "to build social awareness, confidence, and self-esteem in children through the practice of social dance.”
Most people in Lake Charles are familiar with the pomp and pageantry of Mardi Gras traditions; parades, krewe balls, king cakes and carnivals. But theres a side of Mardi Gras many have never seen the traditional rural country Mardi Gras. In small Cajun towns like Mamou, Basile and Church Point, Mardi Gras revelers celebrate with age-old cultural traditions quite different from those found in a city; although there are similarities, namely food, libation, music and general merriment.
Some buildings personify the historic era in which they exist. Such was the case with the Majestic Hotel in Lake Charles.
Mark Landry spent many afternoons in Paper Heroes when he was a kid, and he recently returned as an adult not to peruse comic books, but to sign them.
Two turtle doves may have been a nice gift back in the day, but this is 2015 and times have changed. Yes, there are tried-and-true mainstays, five golden rings still make for a nice holiday surprise, for example, but in general, eleven lords a leaping is not going to cut it. And if you show up at your true loves house with three French hens, you might get the door slammed in your face. Unless the hens are cooked and smothered in gravy. Then you might get a pass.
Every year on Christmas Eve, the North Poles most prominent resident dons his famous red suit and hat and prepares his magic sleigh and trusty flying reindeer for a night flight to deliver gifts to children all over the world.
In the jeweled crown of upscale French Quarter lodging, Hotel Mazarin is known as the diamond, and for good reasons. This genteel gem offers amenities not found at many other hotels in the Quarter. Because we are a boutique hotel, we can be more attentive to our guests, says hotel concierge Janet Wellman. We get to know them very quickly. They become like family.
When Katrise Lee Perera graduated from Sulphur High School in 1986, she did not initially plan on becoming an educator. Sure, she had thought about it, she had educators in the family and nurtured a budding interest in teaching, but she had also been raised as "a girl with limited resources who did not want to become an adult with limited resources.”
A new business is brewing on the economic landscape of Southwest Louisiana. An official groundbreaking took place last month for Crying Eagle Brewing Company, a major new regional business and destination attraction.
We can look back and recall the most powerful natural disaster in our recorded history, one that smashed or erased whole communities.
We can look at our region today and see the first flexing of a new wave of industrial and economic muscle. With the two, we can see the connection. Todays massive expansion is being built up in a region that, a decade ago, we had to build back. That makes this months 10th anniversary of Hurricane Rita more than a symbolic milestone. It is a signpost of our progress. "You cannot change the weather,” as they say. So with Rita, Southwest Louisiana starting doing something about it right afterward. The collective determination to clean up and rebuild was a telling sign of the areas spirit. That attitude or the rediscovery of it rejected a future of stagnation or decline.
For decades, Victor Monsour has been the man behind the camera. As owner of Monsour’s Photography, he has led one of the most stable, recognizable and well-respected businesses in the region—one that recently earned him a Lifetime Service Award from the Convention & Visitors Bureau—but after 35 years, he’s stepping out of the spotlight and passing the keys to the camera to fellow photographer Jason Carroll.
Compassion and modesty are hard to find, but if you look at 11-year-old Devin David, that’s exactly what you’ll find.
With nothing more than a phone and desk at their parents home in Crowley, Robert John, Sr. and his brother Harry, founded J&J Exterminating in 1959. Harry had a degree in etymology and Robert was a young man ready to marry and in need of a career. They both nurtured a vision for entrepreneurship and had the work ethic to make it a reality.
A practicing psychiatrist for more than three decades, Dr. Dale Archer has diagnosed hundreds of patients with the classic traits of ADHD, including his own son, Trey. Nationally recognized as an expert on mental health, he could spot the signs within minutes of a conversation, and became fascinated with the way the ADHD brain is wired. This knowledge, combined with the vast experience he would acquired working with numerous other so called disorders, inspired him to write the New York Times bestselling book, "Better Than Normal: How What Makes You Different Can Make You Exceptional." But it was not until he started researching the chapter on ADHD and answering his own carefully crafted questionnaires that a light bulb went off.
Steven Oubre of Architects Southwest presented a draft of its lakefront development design plan to the Downtown Development Authority last month. The preliminary plan lays out a design concept and illustrates the development potential of the property along the north side of the Lake Charles lakefront including the land donated by Pinnacle to the City.
As a little girl in Lake Charles, Taja V. Simpson would watch her favorite movies again and again. She would memorize and recite the lines. She portrayed each character, just for fun. A seed had been planted, although she was barely aware of it.
Kevin Cinquemano has been helping the Lake Area increase its knowledge and love of all things geek for more than 15 years.
It is hard to imagine a more seductive time and place than New Orleans in the summer. The tropical warmth hangs in the air, and life slows to an even more languid, laid back pace. The city is relatively peaceful and accessible though still has the potential for adventure.
In 2013, Angelina Jolie made the brave decision to undergo a preventative double mastectomy following the death of her mother from breast cancer and because she carries a mutation in the BRCA1 gene, which greatly increases the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.
Award winning author James Lee Burke has a haunting way of brining Louisiana to life in his bestselling Dave Robicheaux crime novels. Through his fiction, James Lee Burke manages to explore Louisianas culture, its history, and yes, even its crime.
The officers of the Lake Charles Police Department and the Calcasieu Parish Sheriffs office put their lives on the line to make communities safe from crime, but the men and women behind the badge go much further than simply stopping crooks. The law enforcement officers of Southwest Louisiana also make their presence known through community service and outreach programs that build trust and cooperation with the people they serve.
Sewing is something Melissa Hill, owner of Niche Fabric & Studio and a third-generation sewist, has enjoyed from a young age.
From werewolves and vampires to zombies, ghosts and pirates, Louisiana has it all when it comes to myths and legends.
Early this year, we asked you to nominate a thriving 30-something in the community who excels in their professional and personal lives—and once again, you answered the call. We received an ever-growing stack of nominations, but were able to narrow it down to these lucky thirteen.
Jill and Michael Crommelin were ready for a baby. When they were pregnant with triplets, it was more than they could have hoped for. But their pregnancy was not a typical one.
Graduation season is upon us, and before graduates step boldly into a future full of possibilities, they first have to deal with graduation ceremonies, parties, family gatherings and gifts. With all the celebrations surrounding this special milestone come confusion about the etiquette rules that should be followed. From whom should get an invitation to appropriate gifts, Sara Smith, local etiquette expert and owner of the PaperSmith, offers advice for making sure everyone involved receives top honors for manners and social graces.
People have tried to make their own luck for centuries. Rabbits feet, lucky charms, amulets at one point or another, they have all been tucked into the pockets of the cautiously optimistic. Children pick four leaf clovers, blow the stems off dandelions, and make wishes in the flickering light of their birthday cakes, hoping their wishes are granted through some mysterious outside intervention.
Erin Entrada Kelly, who grew up in Lake Charles, debuts her youth novel Blackbird Fly this month. The book, published by HarperCollins, will be featured at a Childrens Book World event in the Philadelphia area on March 27.
This month the beautiful Historic Calcasieu Marine National Bank Building will host a new event for those who really enjoy a good brew. Beer, that is. The Lake Charles Winter Beer Fest, scheduled for Saturday, February 21, is a beer-tasting event that will feature over 60 different craft beers from multiple brewers.
Kevin Essary said he has been playing tennis since he was "in diapers.”
Meet Vietnam born Ben "Benny” Nguyen, 25, his last name sounds like "when," who won a local business pitch competition in 2013. Through his savings, a bicycle and sheer will, he launched and now operates Bookstoop, a college textbook and notes marketplace. The website is bookstoop.com and LSU students already use it.
For three decades at McNeese, and for twice that time in the community at large, Anita Tritico was a publicist, promoter and patron of the performing arts. Her husband, attorney Joe Tritico, became an enthusiastic passenger along for the ride, serving as a benefactor, scholarship underwriter and even occasional performer.
Ever since he was a kid, Huber "Mickey” Smith, Jr. has always dreamed of winning a Grammy, and this local educator, musician and music advocate may soon see his dream come true. Smith, the band director at Maplewood Middle School, is one of 10 finalists up for the second annual Music Educator Award, presented by the Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation. More than 7,000 initial nominations for the award were sent in from all over the country.
If youve ever wondered what $700 million looks like, venture to the new Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino Lake Charles and youll quickly see. The 1.3 million square foot property opened its doors to the public for the first time last month and is the fifth Golden Nugget property for Texas based businessman Tilman J. Fertitta.
Louisianas business-friendly climate, predictable regulatory structures and high-quality workforce have proven to be attractive incentives for Sasol Ltd., which has announced that it will move forward with plans to construct an $8 billion ethane cracker and derivatives complex adjacent to its existing Calcasieu Parish facility, the Lake Charles Chemical Complex. Site preparation is underway and the project is expected to be completed in 2018. Sasols tab for infrastructure improvements and land acquisition is expected to run another $800 million.
Can you hear them? They're talking about us.
While people here know full well about all that the area offers for food, gaming and entertainment, the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau takes that message west, targeting Texans and their tourism dollars.
McNeese-based radio station draws on local talent and is signaling a departure from the stereotype.
Recently, the CITGO Lake Charles Refinery celebrated 70 years of operations in Louisiana. It is the largest CITGO refinery and produces more than 3.2 billion gallons of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other finished petroleum products every year.
Theres been something stirring since 2005 that will forever change the face of the Lake Charles lakefront and put Southwest Louisiana on the global map. The estimated $70 million National Hurricane Museum and Science Center (NHMSC), now just past the halfway fundraising mark, has only grown in scope over the years and is inching ever closer to becoming a reality.
Ed Fruge, local music producer and owner of Lake Charles Music, knows he's a lucky guy. Hes a successful business owner, gifted musician and producer and he is part owner of a film company that has six movies in the works. He also cowrote three songs for an iconic movie franchise.