Across Livingston and Tangipaphoa parishes, 2017 brought stories of rebuilding community unity and great accomplishments.

We've pulled together a recap of the year as seen through our favorite stories.


On Jan. 5, students returned to the Denham Springs High School campus after spending months at Live Oak High School. The students were displaced after the August 2016 floods damaged their campus. While the two schools shared the Live Oak campus, the husband and wife principal duo of Kelly Jones, Denham Springs, and Beth Jones, Live Oak, dealt with the challenges that came with sharing a campus.

Denham Springs High wasn't the only school affected by the floods. Students at Denham Freshman High also returned to their campus on Jan. 5. 

Recovery was a recurring theme throughout the year as businesses, residents and students dealt with flood recovery efforts.

The Arts Council of Livingston Parish returned to its Hummell Street gallery in January with an exhibit. While the gallery did not flood, the office space was turned over to agencies assisting the many residents and businesses impacted by the high water.

The new year also came with new government leadership. 

In Walker, elected city officials, including a new mayor, two new council members and a chief of police, were sworn into office at the City Council’s first meeting of the New Year held Jan. 9.

Jimmy Watson, a veteran of many years of service on the Livingston Parish School Board, accompanied by his wife, Vida, and two grandchildren, was the first to take the oath of office.

Four of the council members, each accompanied by family members, were then sworn into office individually. Eric Cook, Gary Griffin and Scarlett Milton Major were incumbents and returned for four more years of service on the council. New council members were David Clark and Richard Wales. Wales served two terms on the council before sitting out the previous four-year term. Clark is the son of one-time Walker Mayor Travis Clark.

David Addison was sworn in as the new police chief.

On Jan. 12, Livingston Parish Councilman Tracy Girlinghouse took over chairmanship of the Parish Council. Jeff Ard was selected as the co-chairman.


Members of the Krewe of Denham Springs paid tribute to the heroes who helped during the floods with a "Pirates of the Cajun Navy" parade theme in February. Krewe members had to replace the royal capes and queen's mantel, which were destroyed in the flood. The krewe's parade rolled in February. 

At its Feb. 9 meeting, the Livingston Parish Council got a look at a list of 70 streets being considered for repairs. Engineers were charged with ranking the roads as to proprieties before the price of the repairs could be determined.

Walker's plan to build a Challenger Field, a park for children with disabilities, was the topic of many city council meetings throughout the year. In February, the council voted to earmark $265,000 for construction of the field and noted that $223,000 and $50,000 from the Cal Ripkin Jr. Foundation would also be used to build the field.

In our Feb. 2 edition, readers were introduced to Denham Springs High School teacher William Bradford, who took a delegation of students to the inauguration of President Donald Trump. In addition, the story recounted an inauguration trip by local siblings Nathan Landry and Natalie Landry.


A March 2 story highlighted the journey Denham Springs Elementary traveled since the flood. After sharing another school campus for several months, the students moved to temporary quarters on Hatchell Lane on Feb. 6

Principal Gail DeLee talked about the generous donations her school had received from around the country, including books for the library. John Cavalier, owner of Cavalier Books in Denham Springs, presented the school with one shipment of books from a school in Georgia.

Livingston Parish leaders gathered in March to honor World War II veteran Preston Harris and declare March 9 in his honor.

A March 23 story followed the experience of Trashica Robinson, who was elected mayor of the Village of Tangipahoa and graduated from college. 

Denham Springs was host to several events in March designed to bring the community together. On a rainy March 25, a color run was held benefiting Denham Springs High School's Project Graduation, and the Denham Springs Spring Fair was on March 31.


An April 6 story let readers know about a shed won by Southside Elementary School in a Back-to-School promotion by Tuff Shed Inc. The shed was installed at the school's temporary campus, needed after the school was damaged in the August 2016 flood.

In April, the Livingston Arts Council honored its 2017 Artist of the Year. The reception for artist Teri Sullivan was delayed because of the August flood.

Southeastern Louisiana University announced in April that it had received its largest donation in its 92-year-history, a bequest totaling $10 million. Seth W. Ryan, a 1953 graduate, who died in March, bequeathed the contribution.

The Denham Springs Antique Village held its spring festival in March, giving residents a chance to celebrate after a tough few months of flood recovery work. With a majority of the shops in the antique district reopened since the flood, shoppers were able to visit some of their favorite retailers.

After several years of planning, grant writing and private fundraising, construction on the Challenger Field at Sydney Hutchinson Park was officially started at an April 27 groundbreaking.


Grants from American Humane totaling almost $30,000 were awarded in May to Walker's Department of Animal Control and Shelter and to a private group of volunteers known as the Dog People of Livingston Parish to assist in the care of stray and other animals.

Mary Gray, director of the city-supported shelter, said her facility was given a grant of $16,000 and that the money would be used to help upgrade the center’s air conditioning damaged in the August floods, accomplish some other physical improvements and install more cages in the room that houses cats brought to the shelter.

May was graduation time, with seniors walking in graduation ceremonies across the both parishes. Many spent much of their senior year attending classes away from their campus.


Kay Granger was named the new executive director of the Livingston Council on Aging.

The Denham Springs Walker branch of the Livingston Parish Library opened a new wing, which includes a 1,695-square-foot meeting room.

The Livingston Parish School Board voted June 15 to replace 55 buses lost in the extensive flooding in August 2016.