Belton announces plans to run for Louisiana Attorney General

John Belton is pictured during his swearing in to a second term as Third Judicial District in December of 2020.

By T. Scott Boatright

John Belton, District Attorney for Louisiana’s Third Judicial District overseeing Lincoln and Union parishes, announced Monday that he intends to run for Louisiana Attorney General in 2023.

“I am acting on the advice and encouragement from district attorneys as well as other law enforcement officials across our state to run for the Louisiana Attorney General position,” Belton said while speaking to the Louisiana District Attorneys Association on Monday. “I am running for the open position that will be created when Jeff Landry runs for governor.”

A press release from Belton said he feels he has an advantage as a statewide candidate because he has both south Louisiana and north Louisiana roots and support.

Belton grew up in Evangeline Parish, played college football at McNeese and received his law degree at Southern.

He married his wife Alana in 1991 and they moved to north Louisiana later that year, when Belton began his career as a prosecutor working with law enforcement as an assistant district attorney in the Third Judicial District

In 2014 Belton was elected as district attorney in 2014 and was re-elected in 2020 without opposition. He is the past president of the Louisiana District Attorneys Association and is vice president of the National District Attorneys Association.

“My goals as a candidate for attorney general are a reflection of my values, values that are shared by the overwhelming majority of Louisiana citizens,” Belton said in his release. “As a No Party elected official, I have worked successfully with Democrats, Republicans, Independents and No Party citizens and elected officials to achieve common goals.

“I share with the majority of Louisiana citizens these common values -– I am pro-life, pro-family, pro-law enforcement and pro-Second Amendment. I will fight to protect our personal freedoms provided by our constitution, including our freedom of speech, our freedom of religion and our right to keep and bear arms.”

Belton focused on freedom of religion in his press release.

“My father and mother taught me the importance of our freedom of religion,” Belton said. “They taught me not to use obstacles as excuses but to work hard through faith to achieve my goals. I would not be here today if it were not for my walk of faith. As I begin this quest to be the next (Louisiana) Attorney General, I ask for your prayers and your support.”

Belton has a wealth of administrative experience in both the public and private sectors. He is a member of the Board of Directors for First National Bank, the Lincoln Health System Foundation, and the Eddie G. Robinson Museum and he and his wife own The Belton Companies which holdings include real estate, restaurants, legal services, and a sports training facility

He is also is associated with numerous community and civic groups (past and/or present), including the Greater Grambling Chamber of Commerce, Ruston-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, Union Parish Chamber of Commerce, Boys and Girls Club of North Central Louisiana, Boys Scouts of America, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Methodist Children’s Home, North Louisiana Legal Aid Council, United Way of Northeast Louisiana, Jaycees of America, Domestic Abuse Resistant Team (DART), and Council for a Better Louisiana. Belton also serves as the chairman of the Eddie G. Robinson Museum Commission, and has served as an adjunct professor at Grambling State University.


Robert Finley to perform at Daq’s on Thursday

Courtesy photo

By T. Scott Boatright

Daq’s Wings and Grill in Ruston has announced it will begin hosting live music events on its patio on the first and third Thursday of each month, beginning with singer Robert Finley performing an acoustic set at 8 p.m. this Thursday.

Finley, who was born and raised in Bernice, followed a stint in the Army by returning to Louisiana, where he worked as a part-time street performer, leader of the gospel group Brother Finley and the Gospel Sisters, and as a carpenter.

He was later determined to be legally blind and was forced to give up his career as a carpenter, but that didn’t slow his love for music.

In 2015, Music Maker Relief Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports aging blues musicians, discovered Finley busking before a gig in Arkansas. That began a musical comeback that saw Finley featured on packaged tours with acts like Robert Lee Coleman and Alabama Slim.

Finley released his debut studio album “Age Don’t Mean a Thing” in September of 2016, and while Finley started as a bluesman, his record producer Bruce Watson keyed in on more of his soulful compositions for that recording.

His second album, “Going Platinum,” was produced and co-written by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys and released in December of 2017.

The following year Finley joined Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound Revue tour followed up with a series of headline shows around the world.

In 2019 Finley probably received his most attention when he made it all the way to the semifinals as a contestant during the 14th season of the “America’s Got Talent” television show.

Finley has announced Finley his next album “Sharecropper’s Son,” which centers around Finley’s upbringing on a crop share here in north Louisiana, will be released on May 21.

 

Piney Hills Pressbox: Remembering Bobby Aillet, Sr.

By T. Scott Boatright

I’ll never forget the name. Not only is it emblazoned on the one of the Lincoln Parish football stadiums I so dearly love, it’s also part of wonderful memories I have of my youth into young adulthood.

Bobby Aillet, Sr., the son of Louisiana Tech coaching legend Joe Aillet, namesake of Louisiana Tech University’s football stadium, passed away at his Shreveport home on Monday at the age of 93. He was a widower since the death of his wife Dorothy in October of 2015.

The younger Aillet was a standout quarterback for both Ruston High School and for his father at Tech. But he was probably best known for his 36-year-career serving as a referee for 450 football games on both the high school and collegiate football levels.

It was in college football where Bobby Aillet’s name became an almost fixture during Saturday afternoon telecasts.

Aillet climbed his way up the referee ranks to become a top official for the Southeastern Conference, being chosen to work in eight post season bowl games and a national championship contest along the way.

Starting in 1956 Aillet worked high school football, including four state championship games, before moving up to ref in the all-Louisiana Gulf States Conference.

In 1966 he became an SEC official until his retirement from the gridiron in 1986. He was the SEC’s chief of officials from 1978-82, and spent three years in pressboxes serving as an observer of officials after leaving the playing field.

Aillet refereed 276 SEC games and eight bowls games, the biggest being Oklahoma’s Orange Bowl win over Penn State to win the national championship in 1985.

He was someone I learned about as soon as I became old enough to watch and understand football.

Growing up, it became a family challenge within the Boatright household to try and beat my father — he was called Tommy while he was growing up in Ruston — at announcing (yelling actually) that a former Louisiana Tech or Grambling player had been mentioned during television broadcasts of NFL games.

“He’s from Grambling” or “He’s from Tech,” or even LSU or Tulane, was heard hundreds if not thousands of times in our den while I was growing up in New Orleans, where my father worked for 34 years for Louisiana Power & Light/Entergy before returning to Ruston upon his retirement in 1991.

Bobby Aillet didn’t play in the NFL. But he became a major component of the Boatright household name game as we watched college football broadcasts. He was one of the few times, “He’s from Tech,” was shouted out during an SEC football game, save for an occasional Billy Brewer sighting. And for the record, as a young fan of the New Orleans Jazz, I learned right off the bat that Scotty Robertson was from Tech, too, and that Aaron James was from Grambling.

Aillet was just as successful off the field, co-founding Aillet Fenner Jolly & McClelland, Inc., an engineering firm in Shreveport and being named the Louisiana Tech Alumnus of the Year in 1989, and was enshrined into the Tech Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998.

In September of 2018, Louisiana Tech President Les Guice talked about Aillet in his weekly online blog/update at guiceblog.latech.edu.

“One of my most enjoyable visits this week was from Bobby Aillet and his grandson Noah (Huckaby) who is a new student from Houston,” Guice wrote in that blog released on Sept. 29 of 2018. Bobby is the son of Joe Aillet and is a legendary athlete and engineering alumnus. “Bobby and his family have been special friends of mine throughout my professional career. They are such an integral part of Louisiana Tech’s history and culture, and their loyalty to Tech is second to none. As founding principal of Aillet, Fenner, Jolly and McClelland, Bobby hired many Tech engineering graduates and led many engineering projects on Tech’s campus and across the region.

Jack “Britt” Brittain, Jr.’s father Jack Brittain Sr. and Aillet were Tech teammates in the 1940s and the Brittain and Aillet families remained close over the years.

“We all had a lot of respect for Mr. Bobby,” Brittain said. “He was a class act and one of the finest persons we ever knew. I never heard Mr. Bobby say an unkind word about anyone and I never heard anyone say an unkind word about Mr. Bobby.

“It was an honor to have him in our lives.”

Bobby Aillet, Sr. — “He was from Tech!” — and it was an honor for Tech nation to have him in our lives, too.


Natchez man facing monetary instrument abuse, drug charges

Photo of Jason Bullock courtesy of the Lincoln Parish Detention Center.

By T. Scott Boatright

Jason Bullock, 30, of Natchez, Mississippi, remained in the Lincoln Parish Detention Center on Tuesday on charges of monetary instrument abuse, possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

His bond was set at $75,000.

On Saturday afternoon a Ruston Police Department officer responded to Malone Polaris, located at 1716 Celebrity Drive, responded to a call about someone trying to make a purchase of a four-wheeler and lawn mower with a fraudulent check.

Bullock’s arrest affidavit says that upon arrival, the RPD officer was told Bullock was the male suspect and that the RPD officer then advised of his Miranda rights. Bullock, along with the driver of the vehicle that Bullock arrived at Malone Polaris in, were both transported to the Ruston Police Department.

The affidavit said that upon further inspection of the checks at the police station, they were determined to be fraudulent cashier’s checks.

A search warrant was then issued for a backpack Bullock said he was. Inside it deputies reported finding 2.9 grams of suspected meth along with a smoking device.

Bullock was then transported to the Lincoln Parish Detention Center and booked on the three charges.


Ruston man arrested for trespassing, damage to property

Benjamin W. James/Photo courtesy of the Lincoln Parish Detention Center.

By T. Scott Boatright

Benjamin W. James of Ruston remained in the Lincoln Parish Detention Center on Tuesday facing charges of criminal trespassing, illegal carrying of weapons and felony damage to property.

His bond was set at $75,000.

On Saturday morning, Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to 3357 Highway 821 in reference to a trespassing complaint.

According to James’ arrest affidavit, the LPSO deputies made contact with both James and the property owner, who advised James did not have permission to be on the property. Video played for the deputies showed James walking around the residence and sitting on the tailgate of the owner’s vehicle.

The affidavit reports that as deputies were talking to James, it was determined he was concealing a 9mm firearm in his front pocket.

Deputies said they advised James of his Miranda rights and the weapon was seized.

The affidavit says that James was at the Highway 821 property to get away from this residence at 132 Parish Park Rd., owned by his parents. Deputies said that James said he was upset because someone had broken into that residence.

After James was transferred to the LPSO for further questioning, deputies said that did a residence check at 132 Parish Park Rd., where they observed James’ vehicle in the driveway with a window “busted out” and several items strewn on the ground, including a .40 caliber shell casing.

The affidavit said that deputies noticed an open entry door to the house upon their arrival and once inside the residence they observed damage, along with a “busted” windshield of a vehicle belonging to James’ parents. They reported finding a spent .9mm casing in the living room as well as a flat screen TV that appeared to be damaged by a gunshot as well as damaged kitchen table chairs, lamps, security code panel, thermostat panel, patio door window and wall.

Outside deputies reported finding a damaged patio table as well as landscaping believed to be damaged by the suspects vehicle.

The affidavit said that during the investigation and a check of prior reports James had shown a history of damaging property at the Parish Park residence as well as a history of meth usage.

After being advised of his Miranda rights a second time after deputies returned to the LPSO, deputies said James agreed to more questioning and admitted to doing the damage “due to him being upset.” The affidavit said that James “advised he was hearing things and felt like he was talking to ‘them.'” Deputies reported that James also admitted to using meth the previous day.

The affidavit said that the damage was “well over” $1,000 but less than $50,000.

 

 


Ruston strong at “Hoss” Garrett Relays while Cedar Creek also makes its marks

Ruston High School’s Dyllon Nimmers set a new venue record in the Boys 800-meter Run Friday during the “Hoss” Garrett Relays on the Dave Anderson Track.

By T. Scott Boatright, LPJ Publisher/Managing Editor

Ruston High School fittingly dominated the “Hoss” Garrett Relays on Friday as both the RHS boys and girls track and field teams turned in championship performances at the newly dedicated Dave Anderson Track..

Arguably the biggest showing of the day came from Ruston’s Dyllon Nimmers, an LSU signee, who set a venue record by taking first in the Boys 800-meter run with a time of 1:54.90.

Ruston senior Ke’Travion Hargrove took first in the Boys 100m Dash with a time of 11.00 while the Bearcats had two of the top three finishes in the Boys 200m Dash with senior Demarrion Rhone taking first with a time of 21.90 and junior Andrew McClinton finishing third at 22.99.

RHS sophomore Joshua Anding placed first in the Boys 400m Dash while Cedar Creek senior Michael Feduccia finished third with a time of 52.29.

The Ruston boys finished 1-2-3 in the Boys 800m run with Nimmers’ record setting finish, junior Caleb Babineaux’s second-place showing at 1:57.52 and sophomore Josiah Whitaker taking third place with a time of 1:57.52.

Ruston had a pair of top three finishers in the Boys 1,600m Run and 3,200m Run. In the 1,600m event, sophomore Cole Maestrini finishing second at 4:43.65 and junior Nelson Blackburn coming in third at 4:44.30 while in the 3,200m race, sophomore Jeff Weatherford placed second at 11:00.03 and senior Jakevion Poe finished third at 11:00.52.

Bearcats junior BJ Green finished third in the 110m Hurdles at 15.41 and second in the 300m Hurdles with a time of 39.54.

Ruston took first in the Boys 4X200 Relay with a time of 1:29,76, and also finished first in the Boys 4X400m Relay with a time of 3:25.23

In the Boys High Jump, Ruston senior Jamarion Reed took second place with a mark of 6-00.00 while Green finished first in the long jump at 22-05.00.

RHS senior Samuel Adams placed second in the Boys Discus with a throw of 116-4.50 while Cedar Creek sophomore AJ Thomas placed third with a mark of 106.00.50.

Ruston had a pair of top three finishes in the Boys Javelin with junior Jed Allen spearing first place with a throw of 151-04.00 while junior Jordan Gilmore was third after a 141-07.00 toss.

On the girls side, Ruston junior Jada Williams placed second in the Girls 100m Dash with a time of 12.31 while RHS senior Tyra Fields won the Girls 200m Dash with a time of 24.78.

Williams took first in the Girls 400m Dash with a time of 56.18.

Lincoln Parish had a top three finish in the Girls 800m Run with RHS freshman finishing first at 2:25.62, junior teammate Kiona McCallister taking second place with a time of 2:26.75 and Cedar Creek senior Lauren Osafo placing third at 2:40.74.

The Lady Bearcats had a pair of athletes in the top three of the Girls 1,600m Run as junior Anna Naff took second place with a time of 5:48.24 and senior Destiny Tatum finishing third at 5:51.51.

Ruston sophomore Lily Garrett won the girls 3,200m Run with a finish of 11:56.94.

RHS senior Corlasia Scott placed in the top three of both hurdles events, finishing second in the Girls 100m Hurdles with a time of 15.71 while winning the Girls 300m Hurdles with a time of 44.86.

The RHS girls finished in the top three of all three relay events. Ruston placed second in the Girls 4X400m Relay with a time of 50.85, first in the Girls 4x200m Relay with a school-record time 1:39.46, and second in the Girls 4×400 Relay with a time of 4:21.60.

In the field events, Ruston sophomore Tyana Jackson placed first in the Girls Long Jump with a mark of 15-10.50 while Cedar Creek freshman Rileigh Geis took third at 15-04.75.

Cedar Creek freshman Lauren Entergin finished third in the Girls Pole Vault with a jump of 5-06.00.

Lincoln Parish won all three top spots in the Girls Triple Jump, with Geis capturing first place at 32-06.00 followed by Ruston sophomore Jayda Butler in second with a mark of 32-05.50 and sophomore Faith Miller finishing third at 32-04.00.

For complete results from the 2021 “Hoss” Garrett Relays, click on the following link: https://la.milesplit.com/meets/407188-hoss-garrett-relays-2021/results/726142/formatted#.YGP9dFVKiUl


Homefield happiness for Tech softball as Bulldog baseball readies for UAB’s visit

C-USA Hitter of the Week Madie Green delivered a two-run single to pad the Techsters’ lead in a 3-0 win over Northwestern State on Tuesday. Photo by DARRELL JAMES.

Staff Writer

Playing at home Tuesday was sweet for the Louisiana Tech softball team, while the nationally-ranked Bulldogs baseball squad prepared to welcome Conference USA foe Alabama-Birmingham to rebuilt J.C. Love Field beginning Thursday evening.

SOFTBALL: After spending the last three and a half weeks on the road, Louisiana Tech was eager to play a home game at Dr. Billy Bundrick Field.

LA Tech (10-13) got that opportunity on Tuesday and made the most of it, securing a 3-0 win over regional foe Northwestern State (15-8).

The combined three-hit shutout by Audrey Pickett and Bre Hernandez snapped the Lady Demons’ nine-game winning streak that has them atop the early Southland Conference standings.

“Audrey was in control the whole game and that gave our offense a lot of confidence to have her back and find a way to score three runs, said Tech coach Bianca Duran. “Defensively, we were in control as well. I am really proud of the team for bouncing back. Midweeks are not easy to play.”

Pickett allowed only two hits and two walks while striking out four in 6.0 innings of action. Offensively, LA Tech broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth inning when Amanda Gonzalez knocked a run-scoring double to deep right centerfield.

The home team added to its lead the following inning when a two-out single by Madie Green drove in a pair of runners. Hernandez entered the game in the circle in the top of the seventh, earning her first save of the season.

C-USA HITTERS OF THE WEEK: The day before outfielder Madie Green helped the Lady Techsters top the Lady Demons, she was named the Conference USA Softball Hitter of the Week for her performance at Tulsa over the weekend.

The Keller, Texas, native batted .556 with five hits (two home runs, one triple), two runs scored and four RBI while leading LA Tech to a pair of victories over Tulsa.

Earning C-USA Baseball Hitter of the Week honors was Steele Netterville. The Shreveport-Byrd product slugged at the plate with a .368 batting average, tallying eight RBIs, two doubles, two home runs and scoring five runs as the Bulldogs took three of four from preseason favorite Southern Miss in Hattiesburg.

The Bulldogs (17-6, 3-1), ranked as highly as 17th nationally, host Alabama-Birmingham at 6 p.m. Thursday, Friday in a 2 p.m. doubleheader and at 1 p.m. Saturday.

GOLF: Louisiana Tech concluded action at the Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate in Awendaw, South Carolina on Tuesday as the team placed 16th with a +33.

“The effort was there this week,” Tech coach Matt Terry said. “We, as a team, just had a bad outing. We made too many errors and did not have enough birdies.”

Tech’s best round of the tournament came on Monday when the Bulldogs shot a +8 (296). The Bulldogs were led on Monday by sophomore Lake Juban who registered a -1 (71) after finishing his last nine holes at or under par.

 


Grambling unleashes on ULM; Fobbs, Tigers stay active in shutdown

Grambling graduate student Joseph Gunn blasted two home runs in Tuesday’s 15-3 blowout victory over ULM. Photo by TAY TAPES/Courtesy of GSUTigers.com.

Staff Writer

Midweek college baseball games don’t often feature frontline pitchers.

Tuesday, Grambling got a frontline pitching outing, and feasted on six of Louisiana-Monroe’s mound crew in a 15-3 romp on Wilbert Ellis Field at R.W.E. Jones Park. James Cooper’s club won for the sixth time in eight games.

The Tigers (6-14) cracked three homers, two by Joe Gunn among their 12 hits, and took advantage of three errors by ULM.

The G-Men jumped to a 4-0 lead on Gunn’s first boundary blast, a two-run shot in the bottom of the second, and the Tigers added a Keylon Mack solo shot in the third.

It turned into a rout in the fourth, as Grambling rolled up four runs for a commanding 9-0 advantage over a Warhawks team that has wins over two ranked foes (Ole Miss, Oklahoma State) and recently battled ranked Louisiana Tech to a 9-7 margin in Ruston.

Gunn’s second homer, also with one on, made it 14-1 in the sixth.

Antoine Valerio (2-1) struck out five while working the first seven innings, grounding the Warharks (10-11). He didn’t pitch in the weekend non-conference home series against Tennessee-Martin, but after his best outing in six appearances this season and second straight effective outing in extended innings, could be a factor this weekend.

The Tigers return to Southwestern Athletic Conference play Friday (3 p.m.), Saturday (2 p.m.) and Easter Sunday (1 p.m.) at UAPB. Grambling is 3-3 in the SWAC and UAPB is 2-5 (2-13 overall).

FOOTBALL: Grambling’s football team is shut down by COVID-19 issues, restricted from any workouts until at best, about April 10. But the Tigers’ program is not at a standstill.

Broderick Fobbs and his coaching staff have used their idle time productively in recruiting. Tuesday, the Tigers offered scholarships to 10 standouts from Lake Charles College Prep, which has rapidly emerged as a LHSAA Class 3A powerhouse, which lost an epic 43-42 battle last December with Union Parish in the state semifinals.

Meanwhile, on campus, a lot of Tiger players have picked up their cleats to work out on their own, trying to maintain conditioning as the G-Men hope to finish their truncated spring season in Shreveport on April 17 against Southern, test results permitting. Practice is slated to resume at the outset of game week, said Fobbs.

Grambling football personnel are tested Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Fobbs said there’ve been no additional positive tests since results in the middle of last week showed COVID-19 infections for a receiver, a running back and a linebacker. But nobody’s relaxing.

“The worst thing you can do is think you’re out of the woods on this, and then other people, coaches and staff test positive. We’re doing all we can do to limit a spread,” he said.

Fobbs’ wife is spearheading a push to get Grambling players vaccinated, after the state began making the shots available to anyone 16 and over Monday.

Among the calls he’s made, Fobbs spoke with Louisiana Tech’s Skip Holtz, who went through more than his share of COVID-19 shutdowns last summer and fall.

“It’s about continuing to stand your ground. There’s nothing we can do right now except have Zoom meetings with our players and be vigilant masking and social distancing. It’s mind boggling, but you have to figure it out, some kind of way. There’s no excuses,” Fobbs said. “There’s not a minute I’m not thinking about how to make this football team better, and thinking how to get this team back out on the field working.”

Amid the frustration, Fobbs has been able to reconnect with March Madness, cheering Louisiana Tech’s NIT success and bemoaning the end of the NCAA Tournament run by Loyola-Chicago, his Cinderella team. He’s watched his daughters dance and play softball. This weekend, he’ll have a long-overdue crawfish feast.

It has allowed him time to temporarily restructure staff responsibilities, accounting for departures of offensive coaches Mark Orlando and Kendrick Nord. Fobbs is already well into the process of finding replacements.

There’s clarity in the quarterback film room after Geremy Hickbottom entered the transfer portal, leaving Elijah Walker as the only passer who has taken a snap for the Tigers. And there’s time to shape the game plans for the always-huge matchup against Southern.

“We will always take a positive approach,” Fobbs said.

 

 


Bearcats, Cougars, Aggies, Lady Aggies post wins; Prep roundup

Staff writer

Ruston’s baseball Bearcats got back on track and Choudrant’s Aggies remained on a roll, while Cedar Creek cruised by Simsboro as top storylines for parish prep sports so far this week.

RUSTON BASEBALL: After West Monroe swept the opening District 2-5A series from the Bearcats over the weekend, Monday evening’s non-league matchup with D’Arbonne Woods got RHS back in gear. A 7-0 win was built on pitching by Dyson Fields (five innings, three hits, nine strikeouts) and Jackson Powell (no hits, three strikeouts finishing the last two frames).

Joshua Miller drove in three runs. Miller, Cade Patterson and Jack

Whitaker each had two of the nine hits for the Bearcats (13-8), who meet district foe West Ouachita Friday (6 p.m., there) and Saturday (home, 1 p.m.). Ruston stands 16th in GeauxPrep.com’s Class 5A state power ratings, second in the district only to West Monroe.

CEDAR CREEK-SIMSBORO BASEBALL: Simsboro struck first Monday evening, but Cedar Creek struck right back, and in a big way against the visiting Tigers, ringing up 11 first-inning runs and rolling to a five-inning 16-1 triumph.

J.T. Stephens doubled and tripled and drove in three to lead the Cougars’ 14-hit attack. Jack Mitcham also had a pair of hits, including a double. In the first frame, Cedar Creek sent 17 batters to the plate.

The Cougars (10-8, 15th in the GeauxPrep Division IV rankings) began a seven-game homestand with the win. They host Ouachita Christian at 6 p.m. Thursday and Bossier at 6 p.m. Friday.

Simsboro actually led, getting an RBI single from Hayden Rabo in the top of the first. The Tigers (3-11, 26th in GeauxPrep’s Class B rankings) host Red River at 6 p.m. Thursday at 6 and go to Bossier for game that will start at 6 p.m. Friday.

CHOUDRANT BASEBALL: The powerhouse Aggies are red hot and rolling on a 15-game winning streak after Monday’s closer-than-it-looks 13-3 win at LaSalle. Choudrant actually trailed 2-1 entering the fifth inning, but erupted for five in that frame, four in the sixth and three in the seventh.

A bases-loaded walk by B. Carter tied it, then Eli Watson’s two-run single put the Aggies on top to stay and Bryce McGuire followed with an RBI base hit, all with no outs. Watson had a sac fly and McGuire doubled in a run in the sixth, and a two-run error by the Tigers did more damage.

Choudrant (18-3, No. 1 in GeauxPrep’s Class B rankings) goes to Maurepas Friday and Saturday for the Class B Bash.

CHOUDRANT SOFTBALL: A 14-8 win at Class 5A Parkway on Monday lifted the Lady Aggies to 15-8. They stand ninth in the GeauxPrep state power rankings.

A nine-run second inning made the difference for Choudrant. Grayson Pylant had a team-high three RBI on a pair of singles, both in the second, the first opening the scoring. Mattie Johnson doubled in a run in the outburst, helped by three Panthers errors.

Choudrant (15-8) is ninth in the GeauxPrep power rankings.

SIMSBORO SOFTBALL: The visiting Lady Tigers pushed across the tiebreaking runs in the fifth inning Tuesday evening to dump Downsville 12-10 and complete a sweep of a doubleheader.

A bases-loaded, two-out walk drawn by Kayla Mitchell put Simsboro (11-11-1, 23rd in the power rankings) on top and Jacoya Lewis followed with a single to pad the margin.

In the Lady Tigers’ 8-7 victory in the first game, VaShanti Sproulls’ two-run double broke a 4-all tie in the third inning and ignited a five-run uprising. Winning pitcher Carlei Wheeler also doubled and drove in a pair.

RUSTON FOOTBALL/TRACK: Junior B.J. Green announced on Twitter Tuesday that he received a football scholarship offer from Louisiana Tech.

The Bearcats’ cornerback is one of the country’s top triple jumpers and has a wide range of offers from Power 5 programs and others in track and field as he aims for his third state championship in his specialty in May. He will compete Saturday in the Mobile (Alabama) Challenge of Champions.

 


Tech’s Lofton Jr. garners national spotlight with NIT performances

Photo of Kenneth Lofton, Jr. by ROGER STEINMAN

Staff writer

“I give that big freshman a lot of credit. He dominated the game.”

“It is hard to believe that kid is a freshman. He is a matchup problem. I have a lot of respect for his game. He is a monster.”

“He is a terrific young player. He is such a unique player and is a load inside.”

Those powerful words spoken by head coaches from Ole Miss, Memphis and Colorado State were about Louisiana Tech’s freshman phenom, Kenneth Lofton Jr.

The forward was an unstoppable force of nature during the four games of the National Invitation Tournament, showcasing his talents in front of a national audience on ESPN.

In the first-round matchup, the Rebels chose not to double-team him. They probably regret that decision as Junior poured in 22 points to go along with seven rebounds in leading LA Tech to a 70-61 victory.

“It was my time to shine out there,” Lofton Jr. said. “I showed them what I have and what I can do.”

After the Bulldogs used some strong perimeter shooting –- 11 3-pointers to be exact -– to get past Western Kentucky, 72-65, to advance to the Final Four, “Junior” shined yet again versus an SEC opponent.

Despite the 84-62 setback against Mississippi State, he put up an impressive stat line with 20 points, 10 rebounds, four steals, three blocks and three assists.

“The result is not what we wanted. We were looking forward to playing for a championship,” Lofton Jr. said. “Playing for third place, it was an opportunity to end the season on a good note.”

That they did. Down 11 with 8:30 to go versus overall No. 1 seed Colorado State, LA Tech made its largest comeback of the season and defeated the Rams, 76-74.

The Bulldogs capped off the season with their 24th win and a third-place finish in the NIT. Lofton, Jr. capped off his freshman campaign with his best individual performance yet.

He played a career-high 34 minutes and dominated for much of it, recording a career-high 27 points to go along with 13 boards. He played bully ball, especially on his game-winning field goal with 0.3 seconds left.

“The play is how Coach (Eric Konkol) drew it up,” Lofton Jr. “He told me to rip it and go to the goal.”

Lofton Jr. was one of five players selected to the NIT All-Tournament Team along with Landers Nolley II (Memphis), Lester Quinones (Memphis), DJ Stewart, Jr. (Mississippi State) and Iverson Molinar (Mississippi State).

Among everyone who played four games in the tournament, he led all scorers in points (20.0) and field goal percentage (58.3). He was just as impressive defensively too, ranking in the top two in rebounds (9.3), blocks (seven) and steals (10).

Not bad for a freshman.


2nd Amendment, Gun Rights Poised to Return to Supreme Court

By Royal Alexander

The latest legal challenge concerns a New York law governing licenses to carry concealed handguns in public but there are potentially a host of others as well.

The U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to strengthen and expand 2nd Amendment rights after a decade of no action on the issue. The Court has several current opportunities to further address the scope of its Heller decision that generally pose one legal question: how far may states go in restricting the individual right to carry guns outside a home.

These various legal challenges have worked their way up to the Supreme Court and now require at least four members of the Court to vote to grant the application to hear the cases.

These challenges include the New York law as well as multiple other cases nationally presenting distinct legal issues.

The Supreme Court has not directly addressed the issue of gun rights since its landmark rulings in 2008 and 2010. The 2008 Heller decision held that the right to keep and bear arms was both a collective (military and law enforcement) right as well as an individual right. The 2010 McDonald decision simply held that the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment extended to the states and municipalities the 2nd Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms.

Several months ago, the Court considered a different prohibition by New York City that kept gun owners from transporting firearms to ranges or second homes outside of the city but then decided not to hear the case after NY City officials repealed that prohibition, rendering that case moot.

During its 10-year break, the Court’s inactivity allowed a number of questionable gun laws and regulations to be passed and then remain law. These included, for example, a suburban Chicago ban on semi-automatic weapons, a variety of prohibitions across the country against carrying guns in public, age limits for carrying guns in Texas and requiring citizens to disable or lock up guns when not in use in San Francisco.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, as a federal appeals court judge, dissented from a 2019 opinion that banned convicted felons from owning a gun. That Kanter case involved a man, Rickey Kanter, who had pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud. Judge Barrett wrote in her dissent that the gun ban went too far because it was being applied to someone who had not been convicted of a violent crime, only mail fraud.

In her dissent, then-judge Barrett wrote that “history is consistent with common sense: It demonstrates that legislatures have the power to prohibit dangerous people from possessing guns. But that power extends only to people who are dangerous. Founding-era legislatures did not strip felons of the right to bear arms simply because of their status as felons.”

Still other gun rights issues now pending before the Supreme Court involve a Pennsylvania man who pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in 2005 who is challenging the ban on purchasing or owning a gun. In another, a Pennsylvania woman who pleaded guilty to making a false statement on her tax returns sued over the ban. Also, the frequently reversed U.S. 9th Circuit recently upheld a Hawaii gun regulation that limits the ability of citizens to openly carry guns in public.

Further, in yet another New York State case, two residents sought a license to carry guns outside their home but were denied because they supposedly didn’t meet the state’s requirement that they have a “special need for self-protection” above and beyond what’s required by the general public. (That standard is so broad I doubt many of us could meet it but undoubtedly our right to self-defense is a “special need” for millions of us!).

Our Constitutional rights are rights that are “fundamental to the Nation’s scheme of ordered liberty and deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.” None of those rights are more important than the 2nd Amendment and the Court should strive to further enshrine and protect it.


Tech physics program offers emphasis to students interested in medical field

Louisiana Tech University Communications

Louisiana Tech University’s Physics program is offering a Medical Physics emphasis for students who love physics and are interested in a career in the medical field.

Students who pursue a physics degree with a medical physics emphasis at Louisiana Tech will learn problem-solving, experimental skills, mathematics, and computing and will receive additional training in chemistry and biology to develop the skills required to enter medical fields. Successful completion of the program will make them eligible for medical school and careers in medical physics as well as careers in other physics-related fields.

The interdisciplinary medical physics curriculum drew freshman Landen Nguyen to the program.

“Medical Physics brings my two passions, physics and medicine, together,” Nguyen said. “It’s a very unique field, in my opinion, and I didn’t want to have to sacrifice one for the other. I chose Louisiana Tech because of the University’s reputation for engineering programs, and, at the time, I planned on double majoring in electrical engineering and physics. However, once I began digging into the physics curriculum, I saw the Medical Physics emphasis and changed course. Until then, I had no idea Medical Physics was an option.

“Once I graduate, I plan on pursuing graduate school, although I’m not sure yet whether that will be medical school or an advanced degree in astrophysics. That’s one of the benefits of the Medical Physics emphasis at Tech – it allows me to experience both medicine and physics and see which I like more so that I can decide which path to take after I earn my bachelor’s degree.”

Louisiana Tech has a collaboration agreement with the Willis-Knighton Cancer Center. Students who enroll in the Physics program and choose the Medical Physics emphasis work on a medical physics-related research project as part of the curriculum, collaborating with professionals at the Willis-Knighton Cancer Center. Other research options provide students with opportunities to participate in internationally-recognized research projects in biophysics, biostatistics, radiation physics, and nuclear physics.

Jobs in the medical physics sector of the economy are in high demand and are well paid. Medical physicists work in health care and apply their knowledge of physics to the development, design, and calibration of medical radiation and diagnostic devices and work with medical doctors to personalize patient treatments. Medical physicists can pursue careers in therapeutic medicine, diagnostic medicine, and nuclear medicine.

Medical physicists can expect a median salary of $119,000 with many jobs currently available, and more are expected to become available due to demand from new and expanding facilities. The American Institute of Physics (AIP) predicts a 14% job growth in medical physics between 2016-26.

“The addition of the Medical Physics emphasis to the Physics curriculum adds flavor to what our program has to offer,” said Pedro Derosa, program chair and professor of physics at Louisiana Tech. “More importantly, it gives students a path to a successful and well-paid career where there is an increasing need for qualified personnel. We created the Medical Physics emphasis to provide the chemistry and biology content required for a postgraduate degree in medical physics. Still, it also contains all the elements required to enter medical school. The emphasis offers all of this without sacrificing the quality of the training in physics and mathematics that are necessary for all other fields in physics.”


GSU partners for Minority Contractor Institute

GSU Communications

Grambling State University has partnered with the Small Business Administration (SBA), City of Ruston, Louisiana, Crossmark Financial Services, and the Zion Traveler Community Development Corporation to launch a Minority Contractor Institute.

The first of its kind, the initiative is part of the Real Change in Ruston Project that will build 20 new homes for first-time homebuyers on the old fairgrounds on the north side of Ruston. The City of Ruston made a commitment to utilize minority contractors to assist in the construction of the houses. In addition, contractors enrolled in the program will be prepared to participate in the rehabilitation of adjudicated properties throughout Lincoln Parish.

The Small Business Association will lead the classes that will include sessions on licensing requirements for contractors that include managing risks through insurance; access to bonding; bid, performance, and payment bonds available through SBA’s Surety Bond Guaranty Program; financial assistance (what’s important to the lender, developing the loan proposal, addressing credit requirements); proposal preparation; and project management.

Classes will be held in a hybrid format with online and in-person offerings at Grambling State and the Zion Traveler CDC.

“This is an excellent opportunity to get minority contractors involved in this building effort,” said Jo Ann Lawrence, Deputy District Director for SBA. “We commend the collaboration between the cities of Grambling and Ruston to come together to make this economic development and entrepreneurial development opportunity a reality for the contractors in their cities.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. SBA is honored to be a part of this development effort as we continue our mission of helping businesses participate in the free enterprise system of the United States and Louisiana. We pledge our best efforts to continue the work with Grambling State University, the cities of Grambling and Ruston, and the small business community in this area. We are here for you.”

“I feel humbled when other organizations step into a partnership role with Real Change in Ruston, and we are thankful and excited to be able to work with the Small Business Administration,” said Ruston City Planner John Waltz. “The dots are connecting, the table is growing, and the Lord is providing the opportunity for us to love our home even more.”

Pastor Maurice White of Zion Traveler Baptist Church noted, “it was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize address who said, ‘There is nothing new about poverty. What is new, however, is that we have the resources to get rid of it.’ I am truly thankful for the Small Business Administration for partnering with the Zion Traveler Community Development Corporation by supporting our Minority Contractors Program as we seek to bring “Real Change in Ruston.”

“We understand that Grambling State University must play a role in the growth of the local economy; not only with the city of Grambling and Ruston but Lincoln Parish as well,” said Marc Newman, Vice President for Advancement, Research, and Economic Development at Grambling State. “From the hosting of national events like the NAIA National Championships and the minority contractor institute, Grambling State is taking the lead on economic development opportunities in the area. When you look at what our neighbors at Louisiana Tech are doing coupled with cyber and other initiatives at Grambling State, the area is ripe for economic growth.”

Recently, Grambling State submitted an application in partnership with Southern University, SU-Shreveport, and the city of Grambling hosted the first HBCU-led Minority Business Development Administration (MBDA) Center in the US.

The application has letters of support from Louisiana Economic Development, Louisiana Department of Insurance, and ExxonMobil. If awarded, it would be the only such network in Louisiana that provides a tool for federal contracting and would position Grambling State as the lead in north central/east Louisiana partnerships with small minority businesses.

Classes are slated to begin May 1 of this year. Interested contractors can sign up for the program at https://www.ziontravelercdc.com/minority-contractor-s-training-prog.

 


St. Jude Radiothon final tally announced

Courtesy photo

When the 2021 St. Jude Radiothon closed at 6 p.m. Friday at Super 1 Foods, the total raised stood at $74,000. Station Z107.5 then broadcast another hour, and the final total grew to $76,016. Pictured at the event (from left) are  Super 1 manager Tim Hurt; and members of the co-sponsoring organization, the Zeta Rho chapter of Epsilon Sigma Alpha, Nancy Darland, Jennifer Patterson and Barbara Lewis.