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By: Valarie Precht

      Some neighbors and I meet on my porch to discuss what has gone on since the last Big Lake Link was published. SO much has happened since then, we decided not to dwell on the negative aspects of the past nine months. We decided that it has indeed been a long nine months, but many positive changes have taken place since Ms. Rita blew through.

      Has everyone noticed that most of the FEMA blue tarps have been replaced with new and colorful roofs? What about all of the happy house color choices being made???

      It looks like many homeowners have decided to spruce up their places, however there are a few who are still struggling with insurance companies (can't we all relate??), etc. Several neighbors do plan to rebuild but are waiting on contractors. We all anxiously look forward to watch your homes being rebuilt!

      Let's begin at the lake. Mark and Sharon Bonio hosted an engagement dinner for Sheila and Jerry goos. Mark Dodge recently "merged" with Bolton Ford when Sharon's daughter married Buddy Bolton's son!

      We've noticed some construction work going on at Tom and Sheila Ford's camp. His home in Lake Charles, as well as his practice received heavy damage from the storm, but it's good to see restoration work being done.

      The Thompson family have just returned from a trip to the Reynold's Plantation. They enjoyed the trip but were happy to return to Big Lake. Their place really looks great and the wharf should be replaced sometime soon. Grant plays with the Southwest Jr. Golf Association. He, along with about twenty other young men play at various golf courses in the region, and when they played six holes at Frasch in Sulphur, Grant was the champ! Congrats, G!

      Marsha and John Delaney are putting the final touches on their houseplans. They are using the same draftsman as the McInnis's so that their homes don't "clash". Ha. Judy and Jim will have to elevate their home to be at the same level as the Delaney home. Judy says, "no more looking down on the McInnis's!"

      John and Marsha's grandson, a junior at Barbe, played on the 5A State Champion baseball team from Barbe High School. Their son, Mark has accepted a coaching position at LaGrange Senior High. He will be head baseball coach, as well as defensive coordinator for the football team. The Delaneys no longer have a land line and may be reached at 532-8214.

      Best wishes to M.L. and Kathy Vincent on the purchase of their new home in Lake Charles.

      Jim and Judy McInnis became grandparents last December 14th. Ashley and Jared Terry had a beautiful daughter they've named Scarlett. She's perfect. Just ask Judy! They no longer have a land line and may be reached at 496-8576.

     Dwayne and Barbara Fusilier have had an interesting year. Their son, Jared was working in a New Orleans hospital when Ms. Katrina visited last August. They had a few scary moments during the ordeal, but he escaped the madness and is now managing 70+ emplyees for a hospital in Gretna. By the way guys...nice Mamou Blue roof! Ha.

      Between Richard's emergency room visit around Christmas, and Susan's car accident, we think they're doing just fine. The Gerards have been working on the camp and they have a new home on Country Club Ln. in Lake Charles.

     Now on to Sandpiper Ln...Sheryl Swift had minimal damage to her home, so she has been the bed and breakfast for several wayfaring friends lately. Her daughter, Michele, has been accepted to dental school and will be rooming with Sarah, her sister in Baton Rouge. Sarah will receive her master's degree in marketing from Southeastern University this December. She also has a new "squeeze"...her Puggle dog, Madison (aka Maddie).

     Steve and Mary Polito are now grandparents. They have really been working hard on their camp and it looks great!

     Gerald and Beth Gossen had probably the best news to report. Gerald Millard Gossen III (Trip) was born in March. They are two proud parents and he is the most precious baby. We look forward to watching him grow up. Prepare to be loved, Trip!

     Phil and I are just about through with our home. Jordan will be a senior ths school year and he's working at Harbor Freight Tools this summer. Will will be going to the 9th grade and is practicing with the varsity basketball team this summer. We took our first cruise in April with some friends and family to the Carribean. The boys and I will travel with the senior youth group from our church later this summer to Portland, Oregon. I have been teaching summer school to about 16 eighth grade students.

     Jerry and Sheila Goos are back from their honeymoon cruise as well. They went on the same Carnival Cruise line as we did, but at a different time. They probably didn't see as much of the Carribean as they did the inside of their cabin! Their place really looks beautiful. The downstairs game room is all set up for a card game or two. Sheila's green thumb has been hard at work planting and weeding, and Jerry's veggies were plentiful. Congratulations, you two lovebirds.

     The Sartains have certainly had a busy year. In March, Debbie hosted a birthday weekend for Dean's 50th. They had many out-of-town guests, as well as some of us locals. It was a fun-filled weekend! Later that month Debbie made local news as she protested Allstate Insurance Company on the steps of the courthouse in Lake Charles.

     In May, their youngest son, Buddy, graduated from St. Louis High School. He has been accepted and has received a scholorship from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He has just returned from a graduation trip to Europe where he visited Germany, Ireland, and Italy.

     If anyone wishes to view Debbie's photo album, it's online @

     Jim and Glynnis Nokes are officially retired and will be dividing their time between Big Lake, their home in Houston, London, Jackson Hole, WY, etc. Glynnis spent the Easter holidays with their daughter, Coy, in Budapest. Jim's boat survived Rita and has already made several trips out on the lake.

     Aaron Meche, Keeno and Allison's son, recently graduated from high school in Natchitoches, LA and is baylor-bound! Good luck, Aaron. Allison has yet another job. She works with the Arbonne Cosmetic Company and even has keeno excited about it!

     The Klines are back! The new siding will soon be painted and everything back to normal soon (whatever 'normal' is???). Yvonne has chosen a gorgeous salmon color for the exterior and we can't wait to see the outcome.

     There's not much to report on Heron, except that Marck and Paula have given their house plans to Jeff Priola and are making decisions on colors, etc. Marck's been keeping an eye on our mallards (two of them survived the storm), and Paula's been burning the candle at both ends- between two hurricanes and a recent oil spill, MSRC has been keeping her pretty busy lately! I was unaware of Paula's fear of birds, but ask her about it sometime.

     Randy and Mary Reed have almost completed their boathouse.

     J.D. and Annie Greco have a couple of new grandchildren this year. Their home was demolished and has been reconstructed. It looks like it did before the storm! J.D. can hardly wait to set sail in his new fishing boat. They have purchased property in Rockport, TX and will be spending some of their time 'out west'.

     At the Pahany place, there have been children crabbing in the canal and splashing in the wading pool this summer!! It's nice to hear giggling children and see kids having fun at the lake.

     The Deroen camp looks great, and was a great place to take a bath after the storm. They generously offered their camp to friends in need and the hospitality was truly appreciated.

     Sam Lipri is back on the island. He has been living/working in Lake Charles for a few months now while his home in Big Lake has been undergoing some major repairs.

     The Pruitt camp has been undergoing some renovation as well.

*Note: Some of the Big Lake Women have returned from a 2,000+ miles road trip to Savannah, Chatanooga, Tallahasee, Natchez, and Memphis. They had a blast, and are happy to report that the south is still alive, but that Elvis is still dead. Seriously, the highlight of the trip was the tour of Graceland, and they saw the ducks at the Peabody Hotel.

*A special thanks to Gerald and Phil for the work they've done around our sewerage plant. They put up the fence around the facilty. Good job, guys. It's great to see smiling faces and lots of work going on in Big Lake!

Any news to report in the next Link, call Valarie: 598-5807.

Eye Of Newt
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