Dodson Mayor Vines remembered
Dodson Mayor Loyd E. Vines died January 14
Loyd E. Vines, Mayor of the Village of Dodson since 1994, died on January 14, 2016 at age 71. A former logger during his younger years, he was involved in the public service of his native Winn Parish for most of his adult life, including the 22 years as Mayor of Dodson, which is home to The Piney Woods Journal, and several individuals and companies involved in the timber industry that supports most of the economy of North Lousiana.

Before seeking his first posting as Dodson's Mayor, he served on the Winn Parish Police Jury, as its president, and also was a past president of the Winn Parish Fire Board, District 3, and served in the Louisiana National Guard.

He and his wife, Mrs. Nedra Smith Vines, owned and operated the Dodson Fish Market until their retirement, and he continued to serve as Mayor, winning election to a sixth term which began in January, 2015.

Mayor VInes is survived by his wife, daughter, Mrs. Karla Higgs; a grandson, Colin Higgs; great grandhildren Dianne, Rylee, and Landen; brothers, B.L. Vines, and Barron Vines; a sister, Patsy Hemphill, all of Dodson; and numerous neices and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, L.E. and Pauline Lasyone VInes, a grandson, Justin Higgs, brother, Jerry Vines, and sister, Sammie Fowler.

Funeral services were held at Southern Funeral Home in Winnfield on Sunday, January 17, conducted by Rev. Gary Bentley, of Teen Challenge, an organization that currently operates the former Dodson Fish Market under the name Dodson Roadside Cafe, and Rev. Travis Hampton, pastor of Dodson Baptist Church.

Pallbearers were Jeff Hemphill Darrin Hemphill, Quinn Hemphill, Terry Vines, Cody Melton, and Tyler Jones.

Special guests were members of the District Three Fire Department, who escorted the funeral procession from Winnfield to the Hurricane Creek Cemetery in Winn Parish with an honor guard of fire engines from the area departments.

As Mayor of Dodson during more than 20 years, Mr. Vines led the community of approximately 350 residents in a program of improvements in both public services and community infrastruture.

The most visible additions include a new Town Hall and fire station, dedicated in 2000, located a block off US Highway 167, with offices for public employees, a meeting room for the regular meetings of the Board of Alderman which also serves as a polling space for elections. A special memorial wall for military service veterans of all wars was built and dediated adjacent to the Town Hall.\par }{\plain Other improvements include a new water well, and upgrade of the metering system to allow for automatic electronic meter reading.

The Police Department was expanded to operate two patrol cars for traffic control on Highway 167, the main thoroughfare passing through Dodson that was expanded from a decades-old two lane to a modern five-lane freeway. The resulting faster pace of traffic is monitored for safety--resulting in an increase in traffic fines, controversially called a "speed trap." Discussing the complaints once, Mayor Vines dismissed the matter with the comment, "If they're speeding, it ain't a trap, is it?"

As a "hands-on" official, Mayor Vines was involved in every aspect of the community's services, from the routine to the emergencies.

The following is an excerpt from the report published by The Piney Woods Journal in June, 2006, on the impact of a major tornado that struck Dodson during the late night and early morning of Sunday, May 3, 2006. causing widespread damage:

Dodson Mayor Loyd E. Vines had arisen from bed moments before 8 a.m. and noted the threatening weather. Moments after 8:30, the lights went out, and he stepped outside to see if a tree had fallen on the lines leading to the residence at the corner of Highway 167 and LA 126, also known as Stovall Street, on property adjacent to the Dodson Fish Market.

He immediately determined that there was major trouble and made his way to the Town Hall, on Greesham Street at Fourth, across from the northwest corner of the Dodson High School campus.

"The first person I saw was Tony James," Mayor Vines said. "Tony immediately asked, 'Where do we start?'"

James, a logging contractor, had left the Corner Quick Stop coffee group when the storm hit, quickly sensing that there was big trouble afoot.

Mayor Vines told James, and other volunteers who were streaming in, the first priority was to clear the streets, which were matted with fallen trees, limbs, utility poles, wires, and various debris deposited and lodged by the extreme wind. The first concern was to provide access for emergency responders and vehicles to search for any wounded or others who might be trapped in their homes.

Vines placed calls to officials of the Winn Parish Police Jury, the Office of Emergency Preparedness, and to other emergency responders, including the local and area volunteer firefighting units. Others came without being contacted, presenting themselves to help where needed.

In a community which lives by logging and hauling, it was not difficult to dispatch crews of professional with saws, loaders, trucks, and other gear to get the job done. Since the trees to be removed were not standing in a well-maintained forest environment, Mayor Vines was concerned about the safety of workers. He wanted someone who could handle a chain saw in a delicate situation, so he called an old associate, Earl Lasyone. The two of them worked together as loggers earlier in life, until Vines suffered an accident which took off a foot--literally, a physical foot.

A falling tree turned and trapped him. The foot was severed above the ankle. Surgeons replaced it and eventually he went back to the woods. However, he found that each time a tree started to fall, he got nervous. He went to other work, eventually went into politics, running for and being elected to two terms on the Winn Parish Police Jury, before giving that up for the Mayorship of Dodson, and a career as fish market and restaurant operator with his wife, Nedra.

With his old associate, Earl Lasyone, at hand, the tough job of getting the hard cuts done safely to take the load off houses and power lines, things went well.

Editor's Note: This incomplete excerpt necessarily omits mention of many others who were involved in the work that day and after, and were included in The Piney Woods Journal's extensive account of the tornado and aftermath. The foregoing is to indicate leadership in a major emergency by Mayor Loyd Vines. He was a hands-on public servant, and another of his kind will not come along soon.

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