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No. 195 BATON ROUGE, LASeptember 2001

Newsletter of the Louisiana Ornithological Society

Table of Contents

LOS Fall Meeting (+)
Minutes of spring meeting
LOS Awards
Awards Criteria
Audubon Country Bird Fest
New Big Day Record
ABC Non-Game Birds Comm.
Eye-lined Vireo ID
Vireo ID Figures
Controversy at Sherburne
Kites at Sherburne
Nancy Higginbotham
Species of Special Concern
Moore on Logging
Who to Contact
Fontenot's New Book
Fall Registration
Cameron Accommodations
Membership Form (+)
LOS Officers (+)
LOS Sales (+)
(+) Denotes links to pages on LOS website. Use your browser's back button to return to this page.
LOS NEWS: Page [1] [2] [3]
LOS Homepage

President Marty Guidry opened the meeting by expressing thanks to Marianna Tanner Primeaux and Judy Fruge for registration and Cameron coordinating. Judith O'Neale, Joseph Vallee and Elouise Mullen.
LOS Officers and Board Members were introduced: Vice President Karen Fay, Secretary/Treasurer Judith O'Neale, Past President David L'Hoste, Gay Gomez and Lee Ellis. Board Member Jeff Trahan was unable to attend. JLO Editor Jim Ingold was introduced.
Marty acknowledged David L'Hoste for his continued good work on the LOS webpage and online store. You can buy bird books, binoculars and lots of birding needs at the online store: LOS Online Store
Marty welcomed members of the Lake Arthur Southwest Louisiana Migration Sensation. Their festival will be held April 11-13, 2002
Orange cards were handed out at registration which entitles LOS members to go in the East jetty gate for birding for the weekend. We thank the Police Jury for waiving the $2.00 per person fee for this meeting.
The LOS Board Meeting will be held after this meeting at the Dyson House and anyone interested may attend the meeting.
The Saturday field trip met at the Cameron Motel at 6:30. This was an all day trip starting at the west end of Cameron Parish and returning via Peveto Woods and Cameron..
Marty introduced our speaker for the weekend, Daniel Edelstein from Germantown, Maryland. Daniel is a tour guide, lecturer and bird bander. His program entitled: Bird Songing - The Ecology of Bird's Songs and Identifying Them by Ear covered many aspects of birds and their songs. He went into depth on acoustical structure and song . He covered many questions, such as; Why birds sing?, when birds sing?, how birds sing? and the variations of songs during the day. It was a very informative presentation with several handouts.
President Marty Guidry opened the meeting with thanks to Marianna Tanner Primeaux and Judy Fruge for registration. Joseph Vallee, Sales Table and Elouise Mullen, Gay Gomez and Hope Norman and Judith O'Neale.
The officers and board members of LOS were introduced: Vice President Karen Fay, Secretary/Treasurer Judith O'Neale, SW LA Board Member Gay Gomez and SE LA Board Member Lee Ellis and Past President David L'Hoste and Jim Ingold, JLO Editor. North LA Board Member Jeff Trahan and LOS News Editor Carol Foil were unable to attend.
Charles Precht from the Big Lake Police Jury gave an overview of the work being done at the East Jetty Pier. There is a charge now for the fishing pier and RV park. They will be putting in an earth walkway to the beach area in the next two weeks. There will be four turnouts put in along LA 27 in the next 2 years. They would be happy to hear from LOS members with comments and suggestions. LOS thanked the Police Jury for waiving the $2.00 per person fee for the jetties for LOS this weekend.
Marty introduced Geneva Griffith from the Cameron Pilot who took pictures and did an article for the paper on the meeting.
The Cameron Preservation Alliance was to have a ceremony on May 5 at 2:00 p.m. to witness the transfer of ownership and dedication of the Sabine Pass Lighthouse. LOS is a member of this alliance and everyone was invited.
Marty announced that the Winter meeting 2002 will be held in Baton Rouge, January 25-27, 2002. Anyone interested in hosting the winter 2003 meeting should contact Marty.
Mark Swan and Charlie Lyon are doing a Battle of the Birds to benefit The Nature Conservancy. For more information visit the website at www.louisiananature.org.
LOS gave a grant to Donata Roome this year for her continued studies on the Swainson's Warbler nesting in Louisiana.
LOS supports the following organizations: Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, Grand Isle Migratory Bird Celebration, Bird Certification Program with the Nature Center and the Cameron Preservation Alliance.
The LOSBIRD.org webpage has information available for birding links as well as the online store which has an assortment of books and equipment.
Karen Fay read the checklist and the total number of species seen for the day was 188.
Daniel Edelstein presented an excellent program on Wood Warblers with colorful slides and vocalizations.
Registration for the meeting was 132.
Table of Contents

At the Saturday evening, April 28, 2001 LOS Meeting in Cameron, LA, President Marty Guidry presented awards to three individuals and a Cameron Parish family for their contributions to the Louisiana Ornithological Society and to Louisiana birding and Louisiana habitat conservation.
The 2001 George H. Lowery Award, a certificate and an original Ivory-billed Woodpecker woodcarving, was presented to Paul Dickson for his successful leadership in establishing the Red River National Wildlife Refuge.
Through Paul Dickson's strong leadership and relentless campaigning at the local and national levels the Red River National Wildlife Refuge became a reality on October 13, 200 when President Clinton signed into law the Red River National Wildlife Refuge Act (Public Law 106-300). The Red River National Wildlife Refuge will provide food and resting habitat for resident and migratory waterfowl within the Red River System.
Paul's strong personal commitment and his leadership of the Friends of Red River Refuges (FOR) - a group of local citizens organized to establish a national wildlife refuge along the Red River - energized local citizens and businesses to broadly support establishing a Red River National Wildlife Refuge. With the help of Congressman Jim McCrery and Senators John Breaux and Mary Landrieu, Paul and the FOR lobbied Congress with Paul testifying before the House on May 10, 2000. In a meeting on May 9th with Paul and other members of the FOR, President Bill Clinton congratulated Paul and the FOR for their spirit of volunteerism in spearheading the effort to establish the Red River National Wildlife Refuge. The House of Representatives passed the Red River National Wildlife Refuge Act on September 12, 2000 and the Senate followed with their approval on September 28th. With President Clinton's signature on October 13th the Red River National Wildlife Refuge was established to protect resident and migratory waterfowl and aquatic life within the Red River system.
Scott Henry accepting President's Award from Marty GuidryThe 2001 LOS President's Award, a certificate and a first edition copy of Louisiana Birdsby Dr. George H. Lowery, was presented to David Muth, the Henry Family of Cameron Parish, LA and Marianna Tanner Primeaux for their long-time support of the LOS and their work in conserving Louisiana habitat. David Muth received an LOS President's Award for his untiring efforts over the past several years to preserve the superb live oak woodlands on Grand Isle, LA. David catalyzed the formation of the Grand Isle Sanctuaries Group - a coalition of local, state and regional conservation-oriented organizations. Through his leadership and the active support of the Sanctuaries Group the long-held dream of birders trhoughout Louisiana became reality as the Louisiana Nature Conservancy acquired and established the Laffite Woods Preserve in 1998. David's continuing commitment to enhance and preserve the wildlife resources on Grand Isle has garned support and action from international corporations, local businesses and, most importantly, the people of Grand Isle itself. The expansion this year of the annual Grand Isle Birdwatching Celebration to include a partnership with island residents attests to David's successes in gaining increased awareness of and respect for the superb ecological resources of Grand Isle by the local population. We thank David for his continuing commitment to habitat conservation as we present him with an LOS President's Award.
For many years the Henry Family of Cameron, LA has supported the Louisiana Ornithological Society and birders in Cameron Parish by conserving wildlife habitat on their considerable land holdings within the parish and generously allowing birders access to their property. Some of the Henry family property that birders have enjoyed over the years include the East Jetty Woods and the marshes behind the Cameron Parish courthouse. Annually the Henry family has ensured that birders have access to their properties during LOS meetings and Christmas Bird Counts. It is through their quiet, but committed support that Cameron Parish has continued to have superb, diverse habitats for wildlife and that visitors to the parish have enjoyed observing birds and animals in their natural settings. We thank the Henry family for the committed and continuing support of Cameron Parish wildlife and for allowing visitors access to the ecological resources on their property. Mr. Scott Henry represented the entire Henry Family of Cameron Parish in accepting an LOS President's Award.
Marianna Tanner Primeaux  accepting the President's Award form Marty Guidry [CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE]Mrs. Marianna Tanner Primeaux has long been an ambassador of Cameron Parish to visitors yearning to enjoy the historical and ecological treasures of the parish. Marianna's quick smile and friendly voice make her a friend of all whom she meets. For many years Marianna has worked unselfishly behind the scenes providing local arrangements for the LOS meetings and securing access to prime birding habitats for the LOS weekends and the Christmas Bird Counts. Her successes have resulted in many memorable birding experiences for LOS members. Always looking for another opportunity to improve Cameron Parish and support outsiders, Marianna currently is working diligently on a project that has both historical and conservation goals - restoring the Sabine Pass Lighthouse and opening it and the surrounding prime marsh habitat to the public. We applaud and thank Marianna for her support of the LOS and her outstanding commitment to Cameron Parish as we present her with an LOS President's Award.
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In 2001 the Board of Directors of the Louisiana Ornithological Society established two awards to honor persons that contribute significantly to Louisiana birding and enhance or conserve Louisiana wildlife habitat.
All LOS members are encouraged to nominate persons, families, companies and organizations that meet the criteria to receive one of the two awards. To nominate a person, please send the name of the nominee and a brief written description of the nominee's accomplishments to any LOS Board Member. The LOS Webpage (http://.losbird.org) and the LOS newsletter "LOS News" contain the names and addresses of all LOS Board Members.
A description and the criteria for these awards are:
  • Any LOS member in good standing may nominate an individual for the George H. Lowery Award of the Louisiana Ornithological Society.
  • Nominees for the George H. Lowery Award shall include persons who have made a significant contribution to Louisiana birding and/or habitat or who have had a major positive influence on ornithology in Louisiana
  • Nominations will be in writing and will describe the accomplishment(s) of the nominee. Nominations should not exceed 250 words in length.
  • Nominations should be submitted to an LOS Board Member by February 15th of the year in which the award is to be presented. The George H. Lowery Award will be presented at the Spring Meeting of the LOS.
  • The Selection Committee for the George H. Lowery Award will be the Board of Directors of the LOS. A majority vote of the Selection Committee is needed to approve the award.
  • Only one George H. Lowery Award will be presented in any year.
  • The award will be an appropriate gift with a value up to $100.
  • Any LOS member in good standing may nominate an individual, family, company or organization for the LOS President's Award.
  • Nominees for the LOS President's Award shall include persons, families, companies or organizations who support birding in Louisiana, who enhance or take special measures to conserve wildlife habitat in Louisiana or who promote birding in Louisiana through their writing, lectures or other avenues.
  • Nominations will be in writing and will describe the accomplishment(s) of the nominee. Nominations should not exceed 250 words in length.
  • Nominations should be submitted to an LOS Board Member by February 15th of the year in w hich the award is to be presented. The LOS President's Award(s) will be presented at the Spring Meeting of the LOS.
Table of Contents

Audubon Country Bird Fest
The 1st Annual "Audubon Country BirdFest" is to be held April 5-7, 2002 in St. Francisville, LA. The event is sponsored by the newly-formed Feliciana Nature Society, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, the Cottage Plantation, Butler-Greenwood Plantation, and Audubon Commemorative Site.
Planned events include field trips to Cat Island NWR, Tunica Hills WMA, Clark's Creek Nature Preserve, and Mary Ann Brown Preserve. Additionally, birdwatching/house tours will be conducted at The Cottage and Butler-Greenwood Plantations. Vendors will be present selling bird-related equipment, supplies and crafts. Additionally, seminars related to birds, habitat management, photography and more will be given. Several beginning birdwatching tours will occur as well. Check out "http://www.audubonbirdfest.com" for more information and learn how to register for this event!!
IN ADDITION!!!!!!!!!!!!! We are looking for interested people to volunteer. We need all types of people to help make this a successful, recurring event. If you would like to get involved call 225/635-6502 or send an e-mail to "virginia_rettig@fws.gov or pat@audubonbirdfest.com We can use your help!! Virginia Rettig, St. Francisville, LA
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New big day record!
by Chris Witt
O n Wednesday, April 25, 2001, Jason Weckstein, Dan Christian, and I, set a new big day record for the state of Louisiana by finding 209 species on a single calendar day. On our fourth consecutive spring of shooting for the record, we finally were fortunate enough to break the 202 barrier. 209 species not only marked a fantastic birdwatching day, but it also helped us to achieve the most successful fundraising year ever for the LSU Ornithology Graduate Students' Birdathon. For our success on both fronts, some credit is due to Curt Sorrells for his creative pledge, which provided a financial incentive for beating the old Louisiana big day record. Thanks also to ALL of our Birdathon supporters, past, present, and future. We really did this for our birdathon mentors, Van, Steve, and Donna, who needed an excuse to get back on the big day trail again. This is an account of our big day, from start to finish, including a complete list of species and estimated numbers.
At 11:30 pm on the night before Wednesday, April 25, 2001, Jason Weckstein, Dan Christian, and I met in the parking lot outside Jason's apartment to attempt our second and final big day of the spring. We loaded up Jason's green Ford Explorer with coolers, maps, Q-beams, and spotting scopes, and we reviewed our planned itinerary one last time so that we would be prepared for every turn and every stop on our 24-hour, 600-mile route. For the fourth year in a row, we were attempting to break the all-time Louisiana big day record of 202 species, set by Van Remsen, Steve Cardiff, Donna Dittman, and Ted Parker on April 21, 1987. We knew that there was an excellent chance that we would fall short again, as we did one week earlier when we tallied 194 species. We also knew that we were better prepared than ever for an historic run. A cold front had passed through the previous day, and the winds were light out of the north, under clearing skies. Conditions would be excellent for nighttime and morning birding in the woods and swamps, and we hoped that trans-gulf migrant songbirds that arrived with the cold front would still be present in the coastal cheniers.
Just as the clock struck midnight, we heard the scream of a juvenile BarnOwl from across a cow pasture. One species and counting. Within a half hour, we had driven a loop around Baton Rouge and picked up half a dozen more species. House Finch brooding nestlings: Got it. Robin incubating eggs: Got it. Red-tailed Hawk on a nest: Got it. We were even lucky enough to see a Mississippi Kite where we had scouted it flying into its roost the previous evening. We aimed the spotlight into a tall pecan tree where we could see the kite's wings and tail sticking out from the branch where it was sleeping - just enough to identify, therefore enough to count. Around City Park Lake, we got stopped by the police for suspicious behavior (the officer assumed that we were either drunk or lost, but he seemed to buy the story that we were just doing a little nighttime birdwatching).
By 12:45am, we had left Baton Rouge with 12 species on our list. We headed west to find a sleeping Anhinga and some hooting barred owls in the swamps of St. Martin Parish. From there, we drove northwest to the pine woods region of Vernon and Beauregard Parishes. We remained in the pine woods until dawn, but we missed two species that we had gotten there the week before: American Woodcock and Chuck-wills-widow. As the sky began to get light at 6:15am, we found ourselves in the midst of a loud chorus of Bachman's Sparrows, Cardinals, Pine Warblers, and Yellow-breasted Chats. We found most of the expected species right away. In addition, we were fortunate to hear a Chipping Sparrow (a species we usually miss) singing from a pine tree in an open, grassy field. As soon as we had tallied the pine woods species that we knew we probably wouldn't get later along our route, including Prairie Warbler, Sedge Wren, Pine Warbler, Bachman's Sparrow, and Brown-headed Nuthatch, we sped off for the hardwood forests and cypress swamps of the Sabine River bottomlands, along the Texas border. There we heard Wild Turkey, Pileated Woodpecker, Yellow-throated Warbler, Northern Parula, Prothonotary Warbler, Swainson's Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo, Acadian Flycatcher, Hooded Warbler, and Kentucky Warbler. In nearby second growth we added Red-headed Woodpecker, Painted Bunting, and Blue Grosbeak.
Around 8:00am, we zoomed south to the open field areas of Calcasieu Parish south of Vinton and Sulphur where we picked up LeConte's Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Red-shouldered Hawk, and Black Vulture. When we stopped at one spot to look for Spotted Sandpiper, a male Blackburnian Warbler flew right in front of us and landed on a bare branch - one more migrant we wouldn't have to worry about finding on the coast. As we got back on the highway, we were feeling depressed about three species that we had missed where we were expecting to find them: Northern Bobwhite, Broad-winged Hawk, and Swainson's Hawk. Just when it looked like Swainson's Hawk was a lost cause, Dan spotted a hawk on a dead snag on the shoulder of the interstate going through Lake Charles. It was too big to be a Broad-wing, and as we approached, we could see that it was in fact an adult Swainson's Hawk! Two minutes later, from the bridge across Lake Charles, we spotted an Osprey winging by. Five minutes later, we screeched to a halt for a raptor perched on a roadside wire - Broad-winged Hawk! We were on a raptor hot streak, but that didn't quell our anxiety as we approached the rice fields south of Lake Charles. On our run the week before the rice fields had been nearly void of migrant shorebirds, and we knew that we would have to pick up at least 20 species of shorebirds there if we would have a chance at the record. During our first two stops at flooded rice fields we picked up White-rumped and Stilt Sandpipers, two species that we had missed the week before. We barely had to slow down to hear a singing Dickcissel as we sped along the dirt roads between flooded fields. A flock of Bobolinks winged past the right side of our car. At about 10:00am, when we were almost through the rice fields, we spotted a Whimbrel standing in a freshly plowed dirt field. When we pulled over to take a closer look, we noticed that the field was crawling with Buff-breasted Sandpipers, Pectoral Sandpipers, and other calidrines of various shapes and sizes. Dan and I were so intent on scoping the far side of the field for every last shorebird that we almost didn't notice the call of a Bobwhite right behind us. Fortunately, Jason made sure that we noticed by screaming "BOBWHITE!! BOBWHITE!!" in a fit of celebration. We breathed a sigh of relief. Slowly but steadily, we were filling the holes in our list.
After picking up a last minute Glossy Ibis among a flock of White-faced Ibis, we tore off down route 27 heading for Cameron Parish, the birdwatching capitol of Louisiana. We had a good morning list, but we knew that the possibility of a record-breaking day hinged on the hope that the previous day's storm knocked down a sufficient number of landbird migrants into the coastal chenier woodlands. At 10:45am, we walked into the woods behind the Rutherford Motel. It was eerily quiet at first, but then a Northern Waterthrush started calling, and a brilliant Scarlet Tanager swooped across the trail in front of us. A few steps further in, a Black-throated Green Warbler sang quietly, then two Bay-breasted Warblers appeared in a live oak above our heads. There were not thenumbers of birds that we were hoping for, but one by one we racked up species: Tennessee Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Gray-cheeked and Swainson's Thrushes. After leaving the Rutherford Motel, we made a critical decision not to drive the eight slow miles along Rutherford Beach. In past years, Rutherford Beach had produced some great birds, but we had driven it the week before and found almost nothing. In addition, we wanted to avoid the psychological setback of spending an hour on one of the world's most disgusting beaches (measured by density of cowpies, garbage, biting flies, and decomposing cetartiodactyls). Instead we decided to spend more time in the woods searching for warblers, vireos, and flycatchers. Our strategy seemed to pay off. In following hour we picked up Cooper's Hawk, Lincoln's Sparrow, Merlin, and half a dozen species of warblers. The 15 mile per hour north winds made finding birds in the trees difficult, but we may have also benefited from the strong winds because we found that flocks of foraging warblers were concentrated on the lee side of the cheniers.
By 3:00pm we headed for East Jetty, at the mouth of Calcasieu Pass. Along the road, we stopped to peak in the sewage ponds where we found a Ruddy Duck and a pair of Lesser Scaup. Further down, we spotted a Clapper Rail hop up out of the salt marsh. At East Jetty, we charged through the marsh and flushed a Nelson's Sparrow, before walking down the beach to scope out shorebirds and gulls. A shallow pond on the beach produced Marbled Godwit and Short-billed Dowitcher. A lone Reddish Egret stood with a group of Snowy Egrets. We picked up Caspian, Sandwich, and Black Terns, and Brown Pelican. No Red Knot, no Piping Plover, no Lesser Black-backed Gull. After ten minutes, we knew we had done as well as we could have hoped, so we turned around and jogged the quarter of a mile back to the car, spotting scopes and all. Next we drove through the town of Cameron, where we were able to pick up Inca Dove and Cedar Waxwing while barely even stopping the car.
By 3:45pm, we were waiting in line at the ferry to cross Calcasieu Pass. The day up until that point had been so frenetic, that we hadn't stopped looking for birds for even a moment to tally up how many we had gotten. While Jason and Dan scanned for Bonaparte's Gulls from the ferry, I counted up the list: 196! That was by far the best we had ever done by that point in the day. After a cautious celebration, we resumed scanning for Bonaparte's Gulls (which we ended up missing).
West of Calcasieu Pass, things continued to go well. The only worry at that point was that there weren't enough easy birds left for us to get. On the water tower at Holly Beach, we found a Peregrine Falcon - the first time in a while that we've seen it there on a big day, despite looking religiously. A stop at the White-tailed Kite spot yielded nothing, despite scanning wires and posts for two minutes. As we were pulling away, however, we spotted a kite perched on a fence post. Considering that they are a big white bird that always perches in the open, the Holly Beach White-tailed Kites can be awfully difficult to spot. From there we zoomed to Peveto Woods where we picked up Cerulean and Wilson's Warblers. I gave a shout to Dan and Jason when I spotted a female Cerulean, and several hopeful birders came running out of the woods only to find that it was a bird they'd already seen. We met Roger Breedlove there, and we glimpsed Charlie Lyon, but we were only able to give a crude hello before scurrying into the woods on our race against the clock. They seemed to understand that we were on a mission - something about our appearance must have given away that we had been up for 30 straight hours.
After Peveto Woods, we stopped at the Secret Place, which has consistently produced good birds for our big days in the past. On the drive in we found a Wilson's Phalarope, and as soon as we parked the car, we got a stunning look at a Black-billed Cuckoo perched in a low Acacia thicket. After an unproductive walk through the chenier, we jogged back to the car. Dan convinced Jason to drive down a road that headed to the south side of the chenier to give a quick check for ducks. Jason, perpetually nervous about getting the car stuck, had to be swayed, but Dan guessed assertively that the road would be "no problem". Of course, a few yards down the road we hit the mud puddle of all mud puddles, and our spinning tires splattered a mud/cow-manure slurry all over the car, inside and out. Tires spinning, mud flying, we managed to escape to the blacktop again and we headed west towards Sabine Pass. Along the road, we added Seaside Sparrow and Pied-billed Grebe. Once there, we found a couple of Cave Swallows, and we scoped a distant American Oystercatcher. By that point, there were few species left that were possible.
We zoomed back east to the cheniers, and began searching for American Redstarts or Chuck-wills-widows, but there were none to be found. As evening approached, birds in the cheniers began to become active with migratory restlessness. Gray Catbirds especially, along with smaller numbers of tanagers, grosbeaks, and warblers, were pouring through the chenier canopy. But we found nothing new. Just after sunset, we headed back west to search for American Bittern in the marshes on the way to Sabine Pass. Just as it was becoming too dark to see, the bitterns began to fly, and we saw five or more before heading off again to search for Sora. We found a Sora fairly easily with use of a tape. By that point, clouds of saltmarsh mosquitoes were swarming so thickly over the road that they resembled a line of smoke trailing into the distance. Each time we got in and out of the car, the swarms followed, until the density inside the car was at least as high as it was outside.
With darkness came exhaustion, as well as the opportunity to finally stop and tally our list. We had 209 - a new record for Louisiana by seven species. We returned to the ferry and went to the marsh behind the courthouse to try for additional rails. A couple of Soras piped up briefly, but we heard nothing else over the chorus of frogs. Back in the town of Cameron, we got stopped by the police for second time in 22 hours. Fortunately, the officer deemed us harmless and sent us on our way with a warning. At 11:00pm, we made our last stop at a marshy area in the rice fields, but no rails called. It was too late to reach the pine woods by midnight to try for Chuck-wills-widow, so we loaded up on coffee and headed back to Baton Rouge. We were satisfied and relieved that in our fourth year of trying for the Louisiana big day record, we finally achieved the perfect combination of luck, strategy, and preparation to put us over the top.
Complete species list.
Table of ContentsLOS NEWS, Page 2
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LOS News Editor: Carol Foil, 1180 Stanford Ave, Baton Rouge, LA 70808
(h & fax) 225.387.0368; (w) 225.346.3119; clfoil@home.com

posted 26September2001