Loggers Hall of Fame Sept. 14
Dodson museum underway for Hall, and regional history

By Tom Kelly
Editor and Publisher

The fifth awards ceremony for inductees into the Louisiana Loggers Hall of Fame will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday, September 14 at the new Huey P. Long campus of the Louisiana Technical College on Highway 167 North, in Winnfield. Eight nominees have been accepted.

The Hall of Fame, sponsored by The Piney Woods Journal, will induct the following new members:
Dennis Aucoin of Clinton, Chester Smith of Joyce, Glyn Simon of Winnfield, Tony McManus of Winnfield, Martin L. Gardner of Lake Providence, Charles Earl Lasyone of Dodson, H. Clarence Shelton of Winnfield, and Thomas B. Plunkett of Atlanta, LA.

Glynn Simon, Clarence Shelton, and Thomas Plunkett are deceased, and will be represented by family members.

The event will feature a special concert by The Pine Ridge Quartet based in Tioga, Louisiana. The popular Pine Ridge group, made up of men with prior work history as loggers and truckers, has appeared at the last three Hall of Fame events, with their program of gospel and popular quartet music. No admission is charged. Recordings of their music will be available for purchase.

New Hall of Fame members are:
Dennis Aucoin, one of the major logging contractors in Southeast Louisiana. He currently runs two jobs. Mr. Aucoin is a past Logger of the Year, past president of the Louisiana Logging Council, and a board member of the American Logging Council. He started as a logger driving a skidder and log truck for he uncle, and later was able to buy his uncle. He has been successful in accumulating land and timber, and financial interest in other businesses.

Chester Smith of Joyce, has worked in the logging industry for almost 60 years. As a long truck driver he clocked over a million miles with no accidents, has worked in the woods and driven trucks for other contractors, and was a contractor himself for many years for Urania Lumber Company and Louisiana Pacific in Urania.

Glyn Simon of Winnfield, was one of the largest contractors in this area during the 1970s and 1980s. He was one of the first piney woods contractors to consistently cut and haul 100 loads a week. Several of the current and past contractors got their training working for Simon. His daughter drove a skidder for Glyn for several years.

Tony McManus of Winnfield is a former Logger of the Year honored by both the Louisiana Logging Council and the Louisiana Loggers Association. He trained under Glyn Simon, and currently logs for Plum Creek Timber Company. Tony was one of the principal founders of the Louisiana Loggers Association Self Insured Fund, and serves on its board of directors as president.

Martin L. Gardner of Lake Providence has seen the logging industry go from mules to mechanuized. He started his own operation nin 1947 at age 18, and retired in 1998. In his 55 years of logging he has harvested timber over the entire Ark-La-Miss area. He has truly logged the entire region ahd has hauled to every mill around. In the early days he loaded wood on rail cars a nd flartbed trucks, and progressed to Mack trucks and barges. He also owned and operated the BettyAnn, a tugboat that pushed barges to get the timber off islands.

Charles Earl Lasyone of Dodson is one of the old-time loggers who saw the industry come from skidding with horses and mules and cutting with crosscut saw up to the modern times of totally mechanized logging. He began cutting logs for a living in the summer of 1963, retired once because of surgery, and then came back and is still working at age 67. He has cut logs from the Mississippi River to the Sabine river, from Junction City, Arkansas to Eunice, Louisiana, and in the mountains of Idaho. During the cleanup in Dodson after the tornado of 2003, Earl Lasyone was called in as the one who could use a power saw with the expertise required to remove fallen trees and limbs from power lines and buildings without causing injury to himself or others.

H. Clarence Shelton of Winnfield, began farming with his father, John Shelton, then took a job at the Germaine & Boyd sawmill in Atlanta, where he worked until 1935. He was hired by Thomas Plunkett, a logging contractor in Atlanta, who had the largest operation in that area, using crosscut saws, axes, wedges, pole peelers, and cant hooks, cutting pulpwood, logs, and poles. Mules and horses were used to skid the logs to the trucks for loading. He later worked on his own land cutting pine timber making crossties and some logs, where his wife often helped pull the crosscut saw.

Thomas B. Plunkett of Atlanta, mentioned above, began work at age 13, when his older brother, Monroe Plunkett, was killed in a sawmill boiler explosion at age 14. Tom then became the breadwinner for the family, working as a teamster skidding logs. He worked wherever he could find a job, and his family moved to Winnfield where there was more work. He was employed by LaCroix stables in Winnfield, and then returned to Atlanta as a teamster skidding logs. After service overseas in France during World War I, he returned to Atlanta, where he eventually became one of the largest logging contractors in the area.

Hall of Fame members inducted in the past four events are:
Jimmie Colston, Marthaville LA; John P. (Pete) Gresham of Atlanta LA; Billy James of Winnfield; Walter Lynn James of Dodson; Sam Rivers, Jr., of Zwolle; Stanley Sattler of Marthaville LA; James P. Smith of Atlanta LA; Johnny William (Red) Smith of Goldonna; Charles Orville Spikes of Atlanta; Alvin Odell Sullivan Sr., of Transylvania, LA; J.L. Allen of Joyce; J.A. Auger of Farmerville; Glen n Futch of Winnfield; Eugene Hubbard of Joyce; G.J. (Pie) Martinez of Zwolle; Ben Franklin Brown of Dodson; Owen L. Durand of Pollock, LA; Russell (Peck( Leavines, Gardner, LA; John Kermit Martin, Sr., of Winnfield; James Nutt of Grayson LA; Elmer Ewing, Sr., of Rapides Parish LA; R.J. Jenkins of Robeline LA; Obie Lavespere of Verda, LA; A.T. (Bebee) Martinez of Zwolle; Travis Taylor of Goldonna; and Robert Arvel Sanders of Joyce.

Later this year, the Loggers Hall of Fame will be housed in a historical museum to be located in Dodson, in the building occupied for many years by the S.H. Gaar & Sons grocery. The museum is being developed by The Piney Woods Journal, by arrangement with Steven Gaar, the Dodson logging contractor whose father and grandfather operated the store, and who owned it during several years as a leased facility until it was closed two years ago. The site is the oldest intact commercial building still standing in Dodson. The Gaar family operated the original store, cotton gin, and grist mill at Gaar's Mill, the community named after them, for most of the last century.

The museum is being developed to showcase family, community, school, church, and business history of the North Louisiana Hill Country, and will feature many documents, photographs and other artifacts and memorabilia, as well as Louisiana grown and made products, crafts, and souvenirs. Dora Ann Hatch, a Dodson native, daughter of the late Clayton Norred, and a graduate of Dodson High School, currently works for the Louisiana State University AgCenter based at the Hill Farm Research Station at Homer. Mrs. Hatch heads the AgCenter's tourism development program, and is consulting with The Piney Woods Journal on plans for developing the museum.