Frances Madeson

Frances Madeson

Frances Madeson is a freelance reporter with a special interest in accountability journalism.

Images of the departmental uniform patches of the Alexandria Police Department, Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office and Pineville Police Department are shrouded in smoke with a dark background that features lights from a police car and a prison cell bars

Wrongful deaths, beatings, false arrests alleged in lawsuits against Rapides law enforcement

By: and - September 20, 2023

A string of lawsuits lays out allegations of death, violence, negligence and unwarranted arrests, stops and searches against Rapides Parish law enforcement in recent years. Plaintiffs point fingers at leadership for permitting a climate of misconduct.   A Louisiana Illuminator review of federal and state court records since 2020 found multiple complaints against the Rapides Parish […]

A portrait of Rapides Parish Sheriff Mark Wood superimposed on his 2022 property tax bill

Rapides sheriff’s siblings receive low-ball property assessments and $0 tax bills

By: - June 18, 2023

Public records show Rapides Sheriff Mark Wood has taken multiple loans against his home worth far more than the figure Ducote has placed on it.

A photo illustration of Rapides Parish Assessor Rick Ducote superimposed

Rapides assessor adjusts some property values for elected officials; repercussions limited

By: and - May 21, 2023

ALEXANDRIA — Rapides Parish Assessor Rick Ducote has updated some of his numbers after the Illuminator published an investigation that revealed he assigned super low property values for multiple elected officials, resulting in minimal tax obligations — and even tax bills totaling zero in some cases.  Sheriff Mark Wood, for example, has been billed $0 […]

Super low property valuations for some Rapides officials result in smaller tax bills

By: - May 3, 2023

ALEXANDRIA — Public records available on the Rapides Parish assessor’s website show properties for some elected parish officials, including the former and current sheriff are valued so low that they pay no or what appears on first blush to be anomalously low taxes for sizable properties with many coveted amenities.   Former Sheriff William Earl Hilton’s […]

Jennifer Cooper holds up signs at the Tuesday, March 21, 2023, meeting of the Rapides Parish Library Board of Control. The signs oppose board member James Morgan, who wants to restrict gender identity content from the library's children section, and Attorney General Jeff Landry, who refused to provide an opinion on the policy change.

AG Landry offers no opinion on Rapides library children’s book policy

By: - March 23, 2023

ALEXANDRIA —Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry has declined to weigh in on the constitutionality of an amendment to the Rapides Parish Library’s collection development policy, as requested in January. He offered no reason in his office’s March 2, 2023, letter to the parish’s Library Board of Control. At issue is a policy change the Rapides […]

Residents of The Rock, an enclave of Black residents just outside Colfax in Grant Parish, stand in front of a house with signs that say "Deny the Permit" and "Stop the Burn!" The nearby Clean Harbors facility disposes of hazardous wastes that residents blame for their health issues.

LDEQ draft permit rattles neighbors of hazardous waste disposal site

By: - March 22, 2023

COLFAX – Sliska Larry read the proposed operating permit for the expanded Clean Harbors hazardous waste disposal site, less than 2 miles from her home, with her 9-year-old grandson at her side. She instinctively pulled him closer, as if to shield him, as she absorbed its details. “It’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Larry said. […]

A Lockheed C-130 military transport aircraft taxis at the Alexandria International Airport.

Deportations out of Louisiana part of racist immigration policies, advocates say

By: - February 23, 2023

ALEXANDRIA – After a brief lull, deportation flights have resumed to Haiti from the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) staging facility at Alexandria International Airport, a nexus for detention centers in the federal agency’s New Orleans region. In the past six months, more than 120 ICE Air Operations flights have departed from Central Louisiana. Four […]

Black smoke emanates from burn pits at the Clean Harbors Colfax hazardous waste disposal facility in Grant Parish

Governor expects DEQ response soon to Grant Parish burn pit complaints

By: - February 16, 2023

Neighbors of a hazardous waste disposal facility in Central Louisiana should hear soon from state regulators regarding health issues they have linked to burn pits used at the site, according to Gov. John Bel Edwards. On the Louisiana Radio Network’s monthly “Ask the Governor” show, Edwards fielded a pointed question about the proposed permit renewal […]

Inhalers and allergy sprays sit on a table in front of Ray Boutte and Susan Hoskins, who live The Rock neighborhood near Colfax.

‘The Rock’ residents once lived off the land. They blame a burn pit for turning it toxic.

By: - January 28, 2023

GRANT PARISH – Their chickens had leukemia. The Hoskins family, residents of a community outside Colfax known as The Rock, wonder how long they had been eating the eggs of the cancerous birds they raised outside their home. It haunts them. It’s one of the nightmares they and others in The Rock say they have […]

Remi Tallo holds up a sign that reads "Jesus wore a dress, too" as a supporter of a proposal to remove content deemed unsuitable for children and teens is discussed at the Rapides Library Board Control meeting

AG Jeff Landry asked to weigh in on Rapides library policy

By: - January 19, 2023

ALEXANDRIA – The board with oversight of the Rapides Parish Library is asking Attorney General Jeff Landry to weigh in on their attempt to remove books deemed inappropriate for children and teens. The Rapides Library Board of Control met Tuesday to consider the new policy. Following the advice from the parish attorney, members chose not […]

Terry Brown stands outside his home on the property where his family first settled in Grant Parish in 1817.

Tight-knit Colfax community combats open-burn pit: ‘We are the flush toilet…’

By: - January 15, 2023

COLFAX – The drive to Terry Brown’s farm is peaceful and scenic no matter which route one takes. The Central Louisiana roadside is lined with woodlands, pecan groves, vast open fields and, nearer to the Browns, a well-kept horse farm. The 71-year-old Colfax native planted 50,000 daffodil bulbs in fields where watermelons and cotton used […]

A sticker the windshield of James Kittling's pickup truck indicates it passed inspection before a Rapides Parish deputy pulled him over Nov. 6, 2022, for suspected illegal window tint and muffler modifications.

Rapides traffic stop shooting shines light on window tint enforcement

By: - January 3, 2023

ALEXANDRIA – James Kittling remembers Nov. 6 starting like many other Sundays during football season. He was going to watch the Saints game with his brother, Derrick. “I was gonna smother some pork chops,” James Kittling said, “make some rice and gravy, string beans, probably put some corn on the side. Before he left, I […]