Good to Know is a monthly roundup of news, business and other information happening throughout northwest Louisiana.


Centenary College Student Wins French Language Scholarship

Marissa Ramsey, a native of New Iberia, LA, and a sophomore French major at Centenary College, was honored recently as one of three winners of the Donald Hoffman Memorial Scholarship from the French American Chamber of Commerce-Gulf Coast Chapter and the Consulate General of France in New Orleans. The award recognizing Ramsey’s work as editor of Centenary’s French language newspaper, Le Tintamarre, was presented at a reception in New Orleans on Nov. 30.

“I am so grateful to have been chosen to receive this grant by the French American Chamber of Commerce and the Consulate General of France in New Orleans,” said Ramsey. “It is of the utmost importance that Centenary students engage not only on our campus and the Shreveport-Bossier area, but also take advantage of opportunities like this to engage in the broader state of Louisiana.”

The Hoffman scholarship is named in memory of Donald Hoffman, the founder and first president of the Gulf Coast chapter of the French-American Chamber of Commerce. The scholarship was created to support projects related to French language and Francophone culture created by Louisiana university students and young professionals. Ramsey presented Centenary’s Le Tintamarre, the nation’s only student-run French language newspaper and the last remaining French language newspaper in Louisiana, as her project. Ramsey will use the scholarship funds to help pay for the printing and distribution of more than 4,000 copies of Le Tintamarre for businesses, schools and French organizations across Louisiana.

The scholarship application process included an online submission and a 30-minute interview conducted in French. Dr. Andia Augustin-Billy, assistant professor of French and Francophone studies at Centenary, brought the scholarship program to Ramsey’s attention and encouraged her to apply.

“Centenary’s French department encourages me to pursue my passion for the French language and gives me so many opportunities to engage with the French world,” said Ramsey. “As a student in this department, I make it my primary goal to work the hardest that I can to ensure that this department and its students thrive. With each edition of Le Tintamarre, my French improves as I read through each article and lay out each page. I also realize that the work I do is bigger than myself and even Centenary. This newspaper gives students across Louisiana access to the French language in easy to read articles while educating them on the Francophone world in their state and beyond.”

The awards ceremony took place at the residence of the Consul-General of France in New Orleans, Vincent Sciama. Sciama presented the award along with Nicolas Torres, the consulate’s Attaché of Cooperation for French, and Eric Belin, president of the French American Chamber of Commerce. Centenary sophomore Audrey Gibson and French exchange student Célia Chemeni accompanied Ramsey to the awards reception to represent the Centenary French department. Visit centenary.edu/French for more information about French language and culture at Centenary College.

Planet Home Lending Opens Branch in Shreveport

Planet Home Lending, LLC has opened a new branch in Shreveport at 7607 Fern Ave., Suite 602. The office will include area sales manager Don Samples and branch manager Alishea Tucker Pipkin, branch ops manager Joyce “JJ” Tassin and loan officers Thedora Coleman, Kasey Tompkins, Tenesha Lawrence and Aquacolette “Colette” Smith Delaney. Loan officer assistants Jordanna McNiel, Nicole Tassin and Corie Sparks and loan processor Ramona Tassin are in the office as well. 

The branch offers a wide array of loans, including products that meet the needs of borrowers with credit challenges. The loans include government products such as VA, USDA and FHA, down payment programs to help borrowers prepare for home ownership in addition to conventional and jumbo loans.

“Consumers who have had credit challenges in the past are viable candidates for a mortgage and we can help them navigate the process to home ownership because we do have access to loan programs that allows them to get a home they can afford,” said Fobby Naghmi, senior vice president Planet Home Lending’s Eastern division. “We have a team of professionals who have experience in helping those consumers through the loan origination process with successful results.”

$10,000+ Raised During Red Kettle Challenge Among Caddo & Bossier Schools 

Caddo Parish Public Schools took home the win for the 2018 Red Kettle Challenge, raising $5,142.25 on Dec. 1. Bossier Parish Public Schools, who won the challenge last year, brought in $4,982.59. The total amount raised this year is $10,124.84, which is $613.96 more than what the two districts brought in during the 2017 Red Kettle Challenge. 

“We could not be more thrilled knowing, through our combined energies, Bossier and Caddo Schools exceeded all previous records to make this year’s Red Kettle Challenge the most successful one-day collection effort yet for The Salvation Army,” said Bossier Parish Public Schools Superintendent Scott Smith.  “By bringing both sides of the river together in good-natured competition, we are impacting our community in a meaningful way that also benefits the very children and their families we serve. This has become a holiday tradition in Bossier Parish and one our school family eagerly anticipates each year. Congratulations to Caddo Schools for the big win. We look forward to next year’s re-match.” 

“Five years ago, Caddo and Bossier school districts came together with the goal of working to support The Salvation Army which has a long and rich history in our community. Through this partnership, we’ve made the Red Kettle Challenge the single largest day for fundraising each year for The Salvation Army,” said Caddo Parish Public Schools Superintendent Dr. T. Lamar Goree.  “While the competitive spirit is in us as we push to raise the most dollars through our districts’ efforts, both Caddo and Bossier agree the best part of it all is giving to an organization that puts funds directly into the students we serve locally. We are grateful for our students and staff who took time out of their weekend to come out and serve others and to our community members who gave so generously. We can’t wait to see everyone again next year.”

All the money raised during annual Red Kettle Challenges stays local and benefits programs, including Merkle Center of Hope and The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club.  

Twin Engine Labs & LunaByte Announce Successful Merger 

Twin Engine Labs and Lunabyte recently announced the successful merger of their business operations, services, and intellectual property to offer a new, unified product line for their customers, bringing both custom app development and digital media management services under one roof for the ArkLaTex region and the nation.

Twin Engine Labs, founded in 2010, gained notoriety quickly after receiving worldwide acclaim for its breakthrough storybook app, “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” in collaboration with the Oscar winning 3D animation firm, the former Moonbot Studios.

During the years after, Twin Engine Labs was proud to serve Groupon, Symantec, Cisco Networks, Red Ball Oxygen, FibreBond, Rimcor, and many other household names, accomplishing what many thought impossible without significantly increasing investments.

Creating his second digital agency after his first was acquired by local IT services provider ECS/Synapse, Randall Ache launched Lunabyte in 2016 and specialized in custom WordPress development, social media marketing, and digital services management for local businesses in the area.

Together under their new brand, RubyShore Software, they will provide a robust set of services, including: social media management for small businesses, website and custom WordPress development, integrations of aging software, custom solutions for RFID-based equipment tracking, and mobile app development for businesses wanting to push their operations into the modern age.

“Both of our teams were working well together prior to our merger discussions. But as soon as it became apparent to our teams that we were in talks, it was phenomenal to watch the creativity and excitement around our combined services,” said Keith Hanson, founder and CEO of Twin Engine Labs. “We can now proudly claim to be one of the easiest firms in Shreveport to work with to get all of your business’s digital and technology needs met, under one roof and with local staff.”

“We wanted to merge our teams and companies so that both of us could build something greater than the sum of its parts. We brought skills and insights to the table their team didn’t have, and vice-versa,” said Randall Ache, founder and CEO of LunaByte. “It ended up being a match right from the start, and now we can offer much more complete services to every customer.”

Mickey McNulty Family of the Year Awarded to Graf Family

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) Southern presented the Mickey McNulty Family of the Year Award to the Graf family in Shreveport: Eloise Graf, Sanders Graf, Sanders Graf, Jr., Mae Graf and Nolan Graf. This award is presented to a family that has been outstanding in its promotion of and participation in tennis. “Our family loves tennis. You can find us at Pierremont Oaks Tennis Club almost every day of the week,” Eloise Graf said. “All three of my kids are heavily involved with the Pierremont Oaks junior development program. My husband and I play on multiple USTA leagues and love playing for fun as well. We both are very involved at Pierremont Oaks in helping to improve the club.” To learn more about the USTA, visit www.usta.com.