Travelers ‘arrested’ for not stopping to visit Jennings

Texas couple sentenced to enjoy free gumbo, gifts

JENNINGS — It was a good day to get pulled over in Jeff Davis Parish Thursday.

Instead of issuing traffic citations, deputies from the Jeff Davis Parish Sheriff’s Office targeted out-of-state motorists who did not stop to partake in the city of Jennings’ hospitality.

The mock arrests of out-of-state travelers is part of the local Optimist Club’s annual holiday tradition, which invites tourists to spend some time in the city.

Harold and Demetria Jones of Humble, Texas, were traveling to Orlando, Fla., for vacation when they were stopped by sheriff deputies at the local Shop Rite and escorted to the Immanuel Lutheran Church, where they were "arrested, tried and convicted" for not stopping in the city.

"I thought I’d done something wrong, but I knew I didn’t," Harold said. "I was relieved to find what it was all about, but then I was like ‘Are you serious?’ It sounded like a trap to arrest us, but then they told me we’d get free gumbo, and that sounded good to me."

The Jones, who have been married for four years, had stopped at the Shop Rite for food and gas, a stop they have made hundreds of times.

"But this is one time we won’t forget," Harold laughed. "It’s gonna be a good story to tell people."

Demetria said at first she was surprised by being stopped by the deputies, but after she learned what was going on, she and her husband agreed to play along with the mock arrests.

"I’m not guilty," Demetria jokingly protested. "If he (Harold) goes to jail, I’m moving on. I’ll stop and get him on my way back."

Optimist Club member Gayle Jones said the mock tourists arrest has become a holiday tradition for the club for more than 50 years. It was started by late board member and local businessman, Paul Schonsby, who had moved from the north to Jennings with his wife.

"They found the people and the area so friendly and they wanted to show others what a wonderful community Jennings is," she said.

Instead of paying a fine or serving jail time, the tourists are sentenced to enjoy gumbo and gifts of Louisiana products from local businesses.

Assistant District Attorney Stacey Naquin was prosecutor for the mock trial and local attorney Derek Bisig served as the defense attorney. City Judge Daniel Stretcher presided over the trial, declaring the couple guilty by reason of insanity for not stopping in Jennings.””<p><span>Harold and Demetria Jones of Humble, Texas, enjoy gumbo Thursday as part of the Optimist Club’s annual holiday tradition. The couple was “arrested” and taken to the Immanuel Lutheran Church for a mock trial before being found guilty of not stopping to visit Jennings and sentenced to gumbo and gifts from local businesses.</span></p>Doris MaricleJefferson Davis Parish Reporter
https://www.americanpress.com/content/tncms/avatars/2/0b/363/20b363ec-3a6d-11e7-be79-bf9dc8973cf5.4ddcfc90d57047524e082314ecc99992.png
””<p><span>Harold and Demetria Jones of Humble, Texas, enjoy gumbo Thursday as part of the Optimist Club’s annual holiday tradition. The couple was “arrested” and taken to the Immanuel Lutheran Church for a mock trial before being found guilty of not stopping to visit Jennings and sentenced to gumbo and gifts from local businesses.</span></p>Doris MaricleJefferson Davis Parish Reporter
https://www.americanpress.com/content/tncms/avatars/2/0b/363/20b363ec-3a6d-11e7-be79-bf9dc8973cf5.4ddcfc90d57047524e082314ecc99992.png

Local Business News

Jeff Davis hoping to join program designed to attract business

Local Business News

EMS Academy looking for ‘right people in right spots’

Local Business News

Four state amendments await voters Nov. 13

Local Business News

George Swift column: Recovery, rebuilding after storms

Local Business News

Names in the News: People making a difference in the Lake Area

Local News

Breaux has honed some serious culinary skills since his Crock-pot days

Local News

Cemetery Association asking for help with hurricane-damaged graves

Crime Brief

Fort Polk soldiers charged in DeRidder drive-by shooting

Crime Brief

Lake Arthur man loses hunting privileges

Local News

Higgins says he will vote against raising debt limit

Local News

Field of education plays major role in Broussard household

Local News

Driver, passenger killed in collision with 18-wheeler

Local News

Colo. man struck, killed in Calcasieu

Local News

The Last Island Hurricane of 1856: Killer storm wiped out a pre-Civil War resort island

Local News

Volunteer of Week: Stanford dedicates life to city

Local News

Slow rebuild: Local officials say recovery still a ways off

Local News

Pair has passion for civic engagement

Local News

Nonprofit director to retire: Hickman has worked for BArc for 39 years

Local News

Christian Youth Theater opens season with ‘Adam’s Family’

Jim Beam

Jim Beam column:Let health experts call shots

high-school Football

Jennings High comes to aid of former foe

Local News

Victims of Ida get glimpse of journey ahead

Local News

Support workers not pleased with supplemental pay plan in Jeff Davis

Local News

Only a fraction of funding reimbursed to Cameron by FEMA