Friday morning storm sends tree crashing into Ruston home

Photo courtesy of ALEX ZEAGLER

By T. Scott Boatright

Sometimes a span of three seconds can feel like a “mini-lifetime.”

And a life can certainly be changed in only three seconds.

That’s the way Alex Zeagler and his girlfriend felt early suddenly as a strong storm that struck Ruston sent a tree crashing into the house they share on Calcote Street.

“The whole house is leaning at an almost 45 degree angle,” Zeagler said. “Even sitting in here packing up stuff to move out, it feels like I’m in a constant lean.”

Zeagler and his girlfriend had lived in the home for a year and didn’t have renter’s insurance. They have found a new home in West Monroe.

“The base of it came down and hit on the very corner of our bedroom,” Zeagler said. “You could feel the entire impact. We felt it hit, then we felt the stilts fall, and then we felt the tree hit even harder. It was intense — an insane amount of havoc at one time. It was crazy.”

Zeagler said they did have a little warning before the tree came crashing down.

“My girlfriend woke me and told me, ‘Alex, I’m really scared right now. I don’t know what to do,'” Zeagler said. “She said our dog was standing on her just shaking. Not even two seconds later we heard a giant gust of wind, heard a few raindrops and then felt a loud boom. Then we felt and heard the back stilts fall and then felt the tree fall again. That was all in a matter of like, three or four seconds.”

Despite losing much of their possessions, the couple is just happy to be able to walk away from the damage.

“We’re beyond happy to be alive,” Zeagler said. “We know we got lucky. Windows were smashed everywhere and water got into the house. Ceiling tiles fell on us. Our cat was missing for a while but we found him. He had torn himself a hole into the couch. We had to cut the couch open to get him out. It all happened so fast but yet almost in slow-motion, like it wasn’t real. We’re just thankful no one was hurt.”

Memorial Day facts, meanings, traditions

Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Memorial Day 2021 is today.

Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, it marks the beginning of the summer season.

Early Observances of Memorial Day
The Civil War, which ended in the spring of 1865, claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history and required the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries.

By the late 1860s, Americans in various towns and cities had begun holding springtime tributes to these countless fallen soldiers, decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers.

Did you know? Each year on Memorial Day a national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time.

It is unclear where exactly this tradition originated; numerous different communities may have independently initiated the memorial gatherings. And some records show that one of the earliest Memorial Day commemorations was organized by a group of formerly enslaved people in Charleston, South Carolina less than a month after the Confederacy surrendered in 1865. Nevertheless, in 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day.

Waterloo — which first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866 — was chosen because it hosted an annual, community-wide event, during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.

Decoration Day
On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed.

The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.

On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Civil War soldiers buried there.

Many Northern states held similar commemorative events and reprised the tradition in subsequent years; by 1890 each one had made Decoration Day an official state holiday. Southern states, on the other hand, continued to honor the dead on separate days until after World War I.

History of Memorial Day
Memorial Day, as Decoration Day gradually came to be known, originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. But during World War I the United States found itself embroiled in another major conflict, and the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars, including World War II, The Vietnam War, The Korean War and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30, the date General Logan had selected for the first Decoration Day. But in 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees. The change went into effect in 1971. The same law also declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.

Memorial Day Traditions
Cities and towns across the United States host Memorial Day parades each year, often incorporating military personnel and members of veterans’ organizations. Some of the largest parades take place in Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C.

Americans also observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries and memorials. Some people wear a red poppy in remembrance of those fallen in war — a tradition that began with a World War I poem. On a less somber note, many people take weekend trips or throw parties and barbecues on the holiday, perhaps because Memorial Day weekend — the long weekend comprising the Saturday and Sunday before Memorial Day and Memorial Day itself — unofficially marks the beginning of summer.

Diamond ‘Dogs fall in C-USA Championship but will host NCAA regional

Photo of C-USA Championship game at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park by TOM MORRIS

Staff report

After conjuring four dramatic walk-off wins, including two rabbit-out-the-hat victories in the semifinals, the magic ran out on Louisiana Tech as the home Bulldogs fell, 7-5, in extra innings to Old Dominion in the 2021 Air Force Reserve Conference USA Baseball Championship game.

The “Cardiac Dogs” appeared to be on their way to another thrilling ending.

Down 5-4 heading into the bottom of the ninth, leadoff batter Parker Bates took a 2-1 pitch deep to right center to jolt more life into the LA Tech (40-18) squad by tying things up.

However, homerun-hitting Old Dominion (42-14) planted its third baseball over the wall in the 10th inning, this one a two-run bomb to right center with two outs by Kyle Battle.

The Bulldogs had one final chance in the bottom of the frame with a runner on first and the tying run at the plate, but Hunter Wells grounded out to shortstop to end an incredible tournament run by the host school.

Bates gave the ‘Dogs the first lead of the game in the bottom of the third with a two-run single through the right side. Both teams exchanged runs in the fifth, but the Monarchs took their first lead of the contest at 4-3 when Tommy Bell scorched a three-run homer.

The two exchanged runs again in the eighth before Bates’ bomb forced extra innings, the third such game of the tournament for the Bulldogs. The senior centerfielder notched a team-best three hits and three RBI along with one walk.

He was one of five Bulldogs, along with Manny Garcia, Hunter Wells, Steele Netterville and Greg Martinez, to earn All-Tournament honors.

ODU used nine pitchers with Aaron Holiday (4-1) getting the win by securing the last four outs. Jonathan Fincher (7-3), who came on in relief in the 10th, got the loss on the mound for LA Tech.

As dejected as LA Tech was coming in second, the team was reenergized with some news a couple hours later that J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park will be the home for more postseason baseball.

The NCAA announced that the newly-rebuilt Love Shack will be one of the 16 Regional hosts for the first time in in program history.

The Bulldogs will find out who their three opponents in the Ruston Regional will be during the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship Selection Show at 11 a.m. today. The selection show will be broadcasted live on ESPN2.

Red-letter weekend one for the ages

Former Louisiana Tech University Dan Reneau had a well-known catchphrase he often used — “red-letter day.”

I think Dr. Reneau would be proud for me to call the past few days a “red letter weekend” for Tech and especially the Diamond ’Dogs baseball program.

History has been made as despite not winning the championship game in a hard-fought 7-5 loss to Old Dominion Sunday afternoon in front of a packed house on J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park, the Bulldogs’ magical performance was enough to earn them the right to host a NCAA Regional Tournament next weekend.

That announcement from the NCAA came Sunday night. The full NCAA Baseball Tournament Bracket will be announced at 11 a.m. today.

It was an incredible weekend. It’s going to be an incredible upcoming week.

But in the midst of all of that, it’s Saturday, May 29, 2021, that will be long remembered in the annals of Louisiana Tech Athletics lore.

I’ve been a Louisiana Tech sports fan my entire life and I’ve experienced many thrilling moments because of it.. I’ll never forget the football playoff win over Jerry Rice and Mississippi Valley State … the Dunkin’ Dogs vs. OU in the Elite Eight … the Bulldogs vs. Colorado State in 1990 — the game before the incredible Independence Bowl tie vs. Maryland. And multiple national championships for the Lady Techsters.

That past weekend ranks up there with all of those moments.

But it was Saturday that was something truly special as the Bulldogs had to defeat Southern Mississippi twice to reach Sunday’s C-USA Championship Game.

The atmosphere was simply electric. You could FEEL — SMELL — the fact that Tech and Southern Miss HAVE become true rivals. Our daughter has been to many Tech athletics events over the years. But she had never experienced anything close to Saturday as Tech rallied back to defeat the Golden Eagle 11-10 in a 10-inning affair in the afternoon showdown.

And as that game ended some of the Golden Eagles started getting a little chippy, firing up Tech fans even more. Southern Miss and Tech have become true rivals and that has been shown no stronger than the past baseball.

Here’s a breakdown of Tech vs. Southern Miss during 2021 regular season play alone:
• March 26: Tech 3, USM 2
• March 27: USM 14, Tech 6
• March 27: Tech 4, USM 0
• March 28: Tech 8, USM 7
• April 17: USM 4, Tech 3
• April 17: Tech 5, USM 3
• April 18: USM 12, Tech 11
• April 18: Tech 7, USM 6

That gave Tech a 5-3 season series heading into the C-USA Baseball Tourney, where the rivalry would only get more heated.

USM defeated Tech 4-1 on Thursday, sending the Bulldogs’ for the remainder of the tournament. And fate reunited the teams for that magical Saturday showdown in which Tech was victorious in both “must-win” games, with the Cardiac Dogs taking both in dramatic walk-off fashion.

Eleven times the Bulldogs and Golden Eagles battled this season, with Tech winning seven of those contest.

It was all exciting enough to obviously catch the NCAA’s attention as the Bulldogs became the only C-USA team to be rewarded by hosting a Regional Tournament starting later this week.

One projected bracket on Sunday had Tech as the No. 1 seed and being joined in Ruston by No. 2 seed Florida State, No. 3 seed LSU and No. 4 seed South Alabama. I would definitely take that field, or any, because history will continue being made at The Love Shack.

Being barely two years removed from some of Ruston’s darkest days following the EF3 tornado that ripped through the area, taking two lives and doing all kinds of damage, including the destruction of the original J.C. Love Stadium, makes what is happening now both that much more special, but also surreal.

Saturday truly was a red-letter day for Louisiana Tech and its baseball program. It was a red-letter weekend. And I have no doubt we’re in store for a red-letter week as the Diamond ’Dogs prepare to host the first NCAA Regional ever to be held in Ruston.

In the legendary words of Dave Nitz, “you gotta love it.”

How ’bout them Dogs!!


Leadership Lincoln graduates 34th Class

Photo courtesy of the Ruston-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce

Press release

Congratulations to the 34th Leadership Lincoln class that graduated on Thursday.

Leadership Lincoln is a program of the Ruston-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce and is facilitated by Judy Copeland, Chamber president

The 34th Class graduates are:
• Matthew Barker, Origin Bank
• Shardae Dixon, Origin Bank
• Jessica Duncan, The Woman’s Clinic
• Christopher Feron, Courtesy Automotive Team
• Cody Lewing, Weyerhaeuser – Dodson
• Jennifer Mamon, Experience Ruston CVB
• Kaiden Morace, Bethel Christian School
• Jessie Spillers, Origin Bank
• Katie Watts, Argent Trust Company

Leadership Lincoln encourages participants to ask the questions “why” and “how” as they look at all facets of our community and region.

“The Chamber’s goal is to help the participants acquire a better knowledge of the community’s strengths and challenges,” Copeland said. “The mission of Leadership Lincoln is quite simple; to develop the leadership skills and qualities within our students that will help them become well-rounded leaders in their workplace, their church, a civic organization and/or local government.”

For more information about this program visit or call 255-2031. Class XXXV begins Sept. 9, 2021. Applications are available at the Chamber or you may email for an electronic version.

God’s Moving Boxes

By Kathleen Richard

“What would change if you were applying the lessons from your past experiences?”

Last week I sat in a leadership class and this particular question was on a card at my table. My “table partner” was a total stranger who works in the same type of non-profit that I do and we were asked to share our answer with each other. It was a humbling way to be introduced to someone.

I recounted a time in graduate school when I was incredibly lonely and 600 miles from home. My then-fiancee (now husband) was back in Ruston, my roommate had taken a job out of state and I was biding my time in my last semester before I could return to north Louisiana. I felt like I had been forgotten and exiled to a faraway land. (My dad had renamed Tallahassee to Tally-hassle because it was such a long drive — but that’s another story for a different day.)

My first week back to school after the summer was particularly difficult. One evening during a walk as I was bemoaning to the Lord regarding my lonely soul, I noticed a large brown pile of trash near the road at a neighbor’s house. As I neared the pile, I realized it was moving boxes — used once and neatly broken down — for the trash man to pick up. The Lord whispered to my soul, “These are for you. You won’t be in this place forever.” I ran back to my house and drove my car to grab them. Four months later, when I was packing up my place, it was the EXACT number of boxes I needed. God had known what I needed — in every way!

Fast forward nearly 20 years. If I’m honest, I still don’t trust God completely that He knows what I need and will provide it — in His time. I am not sure why this is, but I have a suspicion that it has to do with living in a culture that tells us that we must worry more and try harder. We constantly hear that our good isn’t good enough. And it isn’t. But God is!

If you find yourself in a place today where you are asking God how much longer He has you in a season, or you’re so lonely (or frustrated, overwhelmed, exhausted, depleted, etc.) that it hurts to even pray, take heart. He has not forgotten about you. He has not abandoned you. He is a good God with a good plan. Trust Him.

If you have an experience where God showed up and showed out — even with regular ole moving boxes, allow that experience to be your testimony going forward about the faithfulness of a great God. Do something different today because of the goodness that God has shown to you! Our world needs your testimony.

Tech Pre-Vet Club honored at national symposium

Faith Scott photo courtesy of Louisiana Tech University Communications

By Kelsey Horvath

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot of the ways clubs and organizations on Louisiana Tech’s campus operate and function. State guidelines have limited many opportunities for these groups, such as holding meetings, competing in person for events, fundraising, and organizing social gatherings.

But Tech’s Pre-Veterinary Medicine Club has not let these new restrictions stop members from expanding their club and reaching for success.

At the American Pre-Veterinary Medical Association’s (APVMA) symposium held March 14, the Pre-Veterinary Medicine Club received the “Outstanding Club Award” for the essay submission by junior and animal science major Faith Scott.

Scott wrote and submitted an essay about the club’s response to the pandemic restrictions and how the club’s members have “forged on despite the pandemic,” Scott wrote in her essay.

APVMA gives the award to a club or clubs it feels has helped best “promote and stimulate interest in veterinary medicine within your community.” Besides Tech, North Carolina State and Mississippi State were the only other winners of the “Outstanding Club Award.”

The APVMA symposium is an annual event, hosted virtually this year at Michigan State University (MSU). The symposium, as the MSU website explains, brings “pre-veterinary students, faculty advisors, admissions officers, and veterinarians within faculty and in private practice (together) from across the nation.”

As an Outstanding Club, the group was awarded $500 from APVMA, which will likely go toward expenses for the Pre-Vet Club’s annual trip to an area veterinary school, an outing that exposes Tech students to different universities they might apply to for vet school.

Placing at this national level is an honor many universities dream about often and work toward daily.

“To realize that our club has risen to a national level and is being showcased to all of the pre-veterinary organization in the United States makes me extremely proud,” Scott said. “Louisiana Tech University is ‘up there’ with all the other universities in America. I believe that winning this award further underscores the fact that Louisiana Tech University has the best Pre-Veterinary Medicine program in the state of Louisiana.”

“The club has persevered during this pandemic by hosting virtual meetings and hosting numerous events while following COVID-19 protocols,” said Gorden Reger, club advisor, Animal Science professor, and supervisor of Tech meat science lab on South Campus.

“We had DVMs (Doctors of Veterinary Medicine) speak to us from Utah, Texas, south Louisiana, and more,” said Scott.

In addition to hosting their standard events such as our Dog Dash 5k, Veterinary School Application Workshop, and Dog Dip community outreach event, the club also succeeded in introducing several new events:
• Meet the Members virtual event
• Suture Workshop
• Anatomy Wet Lab
• Specialties Showcase

“We also created a new mentorship program that pairs older, more experienced students with younger students,” Scott said.

Scott wants to inspire future students and add more future young professionals to the club, “passionate people who’ll take over the next leadership roles and realize that the ‘glass ceiling’ has been broken,” she said. “This club can do anything we put our minds to.”

“I think the club will keep moving forward and growing stronger here at a local level and will continue to make our presence known at a regional or national level,” Reger said.

For more information about joining, email Reger at

Scott posts second-best lifetime mark at NCAA East Regionals

Leah Scott photo courtesy of Conference USA

LA Tech Athletics Communications

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Louisiana Tech triple jumper Leah Scott recorded the second-best mark of her life to finish 32nd out of 46 competitors at Saturday’s NCAA East Regional Championships in Jacksonville, Florida.

Scott, who finished fifth in the triple jump at the C-USA Outdoor Championships earlier this month, recorded a mark of 12.42 meters (40-feet, 9-inches). The Prairieville, Louisiana native registered her 32nd-place leap on her second attempt on Saturday.

“Leah recorded the second-best jump of her life to finish 32nd at the NCAA East Preliminaries,” head coach Gary Stanley said. “She came into Saturday’s meet ranked 41st.

“She represents everything you want from a student-athlete that wears a Louisiana Tech uniform. I’m extremely proud of her efforts this year.”

Scott was honored earlier this month as both a C-USA Academic Medalist and a C-USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll recipient.

Memorial Day closures

Ruston City Hall and the Utility Billing Office will be closed today.

There will be no garbage collection for inside city limits residential routes today. Garbage pickup for today’s inside city limits residential routes will be picked up on Wednesday. There will be no commercial garbage collection today.

For emergency utility services, contact 318-255-1316.

Grambling City Hall is also closed today.

Notice of Death – May 31, 2021

Frances Juanita Chapman
July 11, 1939 – May 28, 2021

Velina Jane McCullough
August 22, 1953 – May 20, 2021
Service: Monday, May 31, 2021 at Kilpatrick Funeral Homer in Ruston; 11 a.m.

Wille David McKeever
September 25, 1934 – May 30, 2021
Viewing: Wednesday June 2, 2021 at King’s Funeral Home in Ruston; 3-6 p.m.
Service: Thursday, June 3, 2021 at King’s Funeral Home in Ruston; 11 a.m.

Cora J. Odom
July 30, 1932 – May 28, 2021
Visitation: Friday, Jun 4, 2021 at King’s Funeral Home in Ruston; 3-5 p.m.
Celebration of Life: Saturday, June 5, 2021 at King’s Funeral Home in Ruston; 1 p.m.

William Mark Walley
November 26, 1956 – May 28, 2021
Visitation: Tuesday, June 1, 2021 at Kilpatrick Funeral Home in Ruston; 1-2 p.m.
Service: Tuesday, June 1, 2021 at Kilpatrick Funeral Home in Ruston; 2 p.m.

Ruston man facing multiple charges after allegedly making threats

Derrick Deon Pastor mug shot courtesy of the LPSO/LPDC

By T. Scott Boatright

A Ruston man faces charges of simple assault, resisting an officer and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia after the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office responded to a call concerning threats being made on Wednesday evening.

En route a responding deputy was advised that the suspect also had an active bench warrant through the LPSO.

Derrick Deon Pastor, 29, was arrested after allegedly threatening a female at the residence and throwing things around the home.

The complainant reportedly told the responding deputy that Pastor “is bad off on drugs” and told her “I’ll bust your head in” and “If you call police, you’re going down.”

Pastor’s arrest affidavit says that after a deputy requested him to step outside the residence, he became agitated, ignoring verbal commands to exit the house and instead yelling back and moving deeper back inside the home.

After back-up arrived on scene the LPSO deputies reported entering the residence and making contact with Pastor at the rear of the home.

Pastor’s arrest affidavit said he was then handcuffed and read his Miranda rights before being taken to a patrol unit and transported to the Lincoln Parish Detention Center before being booked.

Bond for Pastor was set at $11,000.

Rally held in Baton Rouge calling for arrests in Ronald Greene case

By T. Scott Boatright

BATON ROUGE — A rally was held outside of the state Capitol Thursday with speakers demanding the arrest of three Louisiana State Police officers involved with the case of Ronald Greene, who died while in custody following a vehicular pursuit from Ouachita Parish into Union Parish on May 10 of 2019.

“We are not interested in another apology, handholding or a kumbaya moment,” Acadiana television station KATC reported Attorney Lee Merritt as saying during that rally/press conference. “We want justice for the family of Ronald Greene.”

The story gained nationwide traction last week after the Associated Press released segments of LSP body camera video in which troopers can allegedly be seen punching and tasing before dragging him face down with his legs shackled following the traffic stop.

The LSP reportedly originally said that Greene, who was from West Monroe, had died after his vehicle struck a tree during the pursuit before later acknowledging that Greene has struggled with them before dying en route to a West Monroe hospital.

Additional documents obtained by the AP reportedly contend Greene probably died at the scene.

Some of the footage the AP possesses reportedly came from a body camera worn during the incident by LSP Lt. John Clary, of Ruston.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards was reported to have met with Greene’s mother on Thursday and later issued a statement regarding the incident and ongoing investigation.

“What happened was tragic, and I cannot imagine the immense pain of losing a child in such a terrible way,” Edwards said in that statement. “Nothing can make up for the disturbing treatment he received at the hands of some state troopers. I pledged to Ms. Mona Hardin that Louisiana State Police is cooperating fully with the Union Parish District Attorney and the United States Department of Justice in their investigations and that under the leadership of a new state police superintendent, change has already started at the agency.

“I expect every trooper who wears a Louisiana State Police badge to act professionally under every circumstance, to seek to de-escalate violent or tense situations and to treat all people they encounter respectfully and justly. Law enforcement officers must hold themselves to the highest standards at all times. I certainly do. The officers seen on the body cam footage of Mr. Greene’s arrest do not represent what we aspire to in the state of Louisiana. Their actions were deeply unprofessional and incredibly disturbing. I am disappointed in them and in any officer who stood by and did not intervene during the arrest.

“I am praying that ongoing investigations, which the state is cooperating with, will bring Mr. Greene’s family a measure of peace and justice.”

American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana Director Alanah Odoms also spoke at the rally.

“Those officers had no faith in the laws of this land … they had no faith in the Constitution,” USA Today reported Odoms as saying.

Greene’s family reportedly filed a wrongful death lawsuit last year ago, and his death is said the subject of a federal civil rights investigation.

Collision claims life of Calhoun motorcyclist

By T. Scott Boatright

Shortly before 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday Louisiana State Police Troop F responded to a two-vehicle fatal crash on LA Hwy 151 just south U.S. Hwy 80 near Calhoun.

The crash claimed the life of 20-year-old Shane Rieger of Calhoun.

An initial investigation revealed a 2014 Kawasaki motorcycle, driven by Rieger, was traveling north on LA Hwy. 151 and had entered a slight right hand curve before, for reasons still under investigation, the motorcycle failed to negotiate the curve and traveled across the center line into the path of a 2010 Ford Explorer.

After the impact the motorcycle overturned, ejecting Rieger.

Rieger was reported to be wearing an approved DOT helmet. The driver of the Explorer, who was restrained, was taken to a local hospital with minor injuries.

A toxicology sample was obtained and submitted for analysis. The crash remains under investigation.

LDH: Some COVID vaccine doses have gone to waste

By T. Scott Boatright

Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) head Joseph Kanter said Tuesday that 12,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine obtained by the state has gone to waste because of lack of demand to receive the injections.

Kanter said that number was out of 3.85 million COVID vaccine doses the state has received.

That announcement came during a press conference held by Gov. John Bel Edwards to announce most of the state’s remaining COVID-19 restrictions were being lifted.

Edwards said during that press conference that that Louisiana is ahead of only Alabama and Mississippi as far as vaccination rate levels.

As of Thursday afternoon the LDH was reporting 1,445,499 million residents being fully vaccinated (30.9% of total population) with 2,969,459 total doses administered so far.

The LDH reported that 26.42% of Lincoln Parish residents had been fully vaccinated so far with 13,806 doses initiated and 12,512 doses completed as of 3:20 p.m. Thursday.

Creek’s Moore presses forward for national powerlifting championship

Courtesy photo of Emma Moore at Thursday’s USA Powerlifting High School and Teen National Powerlifting Meet. (Courtesy photo)

By T. Scott Boatright

Cedar Creek’s Emma Moore garnered notice by becoming the 2021 Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Division V 114-pound Powerlifting State Champion earlier this spring.

But Moore had, well, more in store to cap off her freshman year as a Cougar.

On Thursday, Moore became the 2021 57 Kg Women’s Equipped High School Junior Varsity and Women’s Equipped Teen National Champion at the USA Powerlifting High School and Teen National Powerlifting Meet in Aurora, Colorado.

Moore finished the day with a 633-pound total and a new personal record on the bench press.

New RHS head baseball coach addresses players, families

New Ruston High School head baseball coach Zack Smith addresses the crowd during Thursday’s press conference at the RHS Auditorium. (Photo by T. SCOTT BOATRIGHT/LPJ)

By T. Scott Boatright

New Ruston High School head baseball coach Zack Smith was introduced to RHS players and their families on Thursday during a press conference at the RHS Auditorium.

“When we opened this position up after Coach White decided he was going to retire, we knew we were going to draw a lot of interest, and we did,” said RHS Principal Dan Gressett in opening the press conference. “There were a lot of very qualified candidates from all over the state. We interviewed several good candidates. And at the end of the day a coach who’s been on our staff for five years, a coach that won four state championships as a head coach before coming to us, and a coach that can build on the success that Toby White had was our man.

“This guy is obviously invested in the Ruston community. He’s invested in Ruston High School and we’re excited to have him as our next baseball coach.”

Smith, who has been an assistant for Bearcats baseball for five years and is the former head coach at Forest High School, where he won four state championships and was runner-up another year, then took the microphone to address those in attendance.

“This opportunity means a lot to me and my family and I’m going to make this program the highest standard we can at Ruston High School,” Smith said. “I want to thank Coach White for allowing me five years ago to be a part of his staff and instilling the Christian values and beliefs in his program that I truly believe in. I truly want to build on that success he’s laid here at Ruston High School.”

Smith admitted there will be some nuances he’ll add to the RHS baseball program.

“I want to say to the parents and players there’s going to be some change,” Smith said. “I pray that you welcome the change. I also believe that I’m going to make you be your best. I’m going to make you accountable. I’m going to make sure you have energy and enthusiasm. And I’m going to make sure you’re selfless and that you’re going to show toughness. Those are going to be the principles here for the Ruston High baseball program.”

And he left no doubt what his ultimate goals are as the new head baseball coach at Ruston High.

“It’s been since 1967 — 54 years ago, that this high school has won a state championship in baseball,” Smith said. “My coaching staff and I are going to do everything we can to change that. … I can’t wait to get to the work of accomplishing our mission of serving the young men of Ruston High School.”

After the press conference Smith explained his plans in more detail.

“I definitely wanted this job — it’s something I’ve worked for since I got into coaching,” Smith said of coaching at the Class 5A level. I thought the process went well. I thought I had a good plan coming in and I presented that plan and I’m looking forward to helping develop players from the junior high through the varsity level. I just want to serve the kids here at Ruston High School.”

Smith thanked White for the opportunity to join the RHS staff five years ago.

“Toby is a guy who’s really disciplined and believes in the weight room and wants the kids to be accountable,” Smith said. “He’s a family guy — a very good guy and I truly do appreciate him and the success he’s had here. I’m just looking to build upon it.

“It’s going to take a lot of hard work — a lot of time, a lot of sacrifice from the players and from the coaching staff and a lot of energy,” Smith said. “I’m looking forward to trying to make that happen.”

And he explained some of the changes he has planned for the RHS baseball program.

“I just think I need to put my stamp culturally on the program,” Smith said. “Toby did things his way. And I’m going to add some new ideas and new ways of doing things.

“Forest was a great experience and taught me that you have to develop from the sixth-grade level all the way up to the 12th-grade level. We didn’t have the athletes 1-9 like we might have here at Ruston High, so I had to learn how to develop each kid in order to be successful. We’ve implemented a Cats organization where we do instructional practices for the younger kids. And I want to get involved with the junior high and implement my plans to them also.”

Bulldogs fall to No. 19 Southern Miss in C-USA Baseball Tournament

Louisiana Tech starter Jonathan Fincher threw 102 pitches and struck out four Golden Eagles in his 15th start of the season on Thursday night. (Photo by DARRELL JAMES)

Staff report

Four shutdown innings from Second Team All-Conference USA reliever Ryan Och helped Southern Miss notch a 4-1 victory on Thursday night in the second round of the 2021 Air Force Reserve Baseball Championship at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park.

The No. 2 seed Bulldogs (37-17) will now play in an elimination game against No. 6 seed WKU. The projected start time for the matchup is 6:30 tonight. The Hilltoppers knocked off No. 7 seed Texas-San Antonio in extra innings to avoid elimination and advance to the third day of the tournament.

With the bases loaded and just one out, Southern Miss brought in Och after LA Tech chased Conference USA Pitcher of the Year Walker Powell off the mound in the bottom of the fifth. Och’s first batter was Bulldog cleanup batter Manny Garcia. Garcia fouled off five pitches in the 10-pitch at-bat before Och dropped in a breaking pitch for a called strike three on a 3-2 count. The left-hander then recorded another strikeout to strand three Diamond Dogs in the fifth.

Facing a 4-1 deficit in the bottom of the ninth, right fielder Philip Matulia and catcher Jorge Corona smacked back-to-back singles off Och to bring the tying run to the plate with nobody out. Och recorded the first out before handing it over to Hurston Waldrep for the final two outs of the game. Och moved to 7-0 after allowing just two hits with seven strikeouts over four scoreless innings before Waldrep nailed down his second save.

LA Tech left 10 runners on base in Thursday night’s defeat. The Bulldogs were held to just a single run for the first time since a game against No. 1 Arkansas on March 13.

“We’re playing really good defense, and I thought Taylor made a really good play tonight,” said Tech coach Lane Burroughs. “In the outfield, our guys have been playing well.

“Phil threw the guy out trying to stretch out the double. Our guys will be ready to play, and we will get some rest and then come out ready to play. We haven’t faced Western (Kentucky), and they haven’t seen us either. I’m excited about playing tomorrow already, and I know our guys will be ready.”

LA Tech tallied its only run of the ballgame behind Hunter Wells’ RBI single through the right side in the fifth. Shortstop Alex Ray, who helped turn two double plays for the Bulldogs, trotted on home from second base after recording a single to left center earlier in the inning.

Left-hander and Bulldog ace Jonathan Fincher battled all night long, allowing four runs over seven innings to take LA Tech deep into the game. Fincher hurled 102 pitches and struck out four Golden Eagles in his 15th start of the season.

Matulia tallied his 12th multi-hit game of the season after tallying a pair of singles. Leadoff batter Taylor Young recorded his 16th double in Thursday night’s defeat.

Southern Miss (37-17) scored all four of its runs behind RBI singles, two of which came from seven-hole hitter Will McGillis. Southern Miss scored a single run in the third, fourth, seventh and eighth innings to notch the tournament victory.

Ponderings — May 28, 2021

Did you know that tattoos move?

I don’t mind a well-located provocative tattoo. I think folks who are trying to turn themselves into green avatars by virtue of tattoos need to go on a cruise. One cruise is enough to keep anyone from getting a tattoo. The silly things relocate themselves. I was noticing tattoos that might have been well placed when the person was in their 20s.

Now in their 50s or 60s, that thing has gone and relocated. A tattoo on the bicep will fall and hang off the end of the flabby upper arm. Tattoos once located on the abdomen end up in all sorts of very strange places. I saw one guy that had one that had moved to his side, or he was really drunk when he received the original ink.

Others had outgrown their tattoos. This one guy had “born to raise hell” tattooed on what once was his chest. He was not very threatening with his beer gut walking around on that walker. If you are considering a tattoo that describes you, you’d better hope that description is apt in your golden years!

I met one guy who was engaged once to a girl named Alicia. Her name was tattooed on his right upper chest. His pecks, I believe they are called. Alicia broke up with him and broke his heart. He said he had three options regarding his tattoo.

He could have it removed over the course of a couple of years. That would separate him from a big chunk of money. He could find a girl whose name would allow him to transform “Alicia” into the name of the new girl.

His tattoo would look funny and his new girl would probably have a very strange name. He could find another Alicia. I suggested the best course of action was reconciliation with Alicia. By the look on his face, I could tell he had not considered that option. Sometimes we preachers can see other options for folks!

I have two points for you to ponder.

First, the Apostle Paul said, “And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect from the eyes of others those parts that should not be seen…” That is from I Corinthians 12 if you want to read the rest of the passage. People on cruise ships have no modesty. There were some folks who simply should not be seen outside in a bathing suit. They did allow me to see their tattoos though. My eyes have been damaged by people on that ship whose parts should never be seen except by medical professionals! You can bet all my preacher parts were covered. If those “less honorable parts” bother you, then stay off the beach and cruise ships!

Second, there were some young folks who had overtly Christian tattoos. Because of their youth, the tattoos were properly located and hadn’t moved; yet! They had Jesus and His symbols tattooed all over their bodies. I hope they wear “Him” faithfully. It would not be good if someone with a Jesus tattoo was seen doing something un-Jesus like.

Come to think of it, we have all been spiritually tattooed. Paul wrote to the Galatians, “… I bear on my body the marks that show I belong to Jesus.” When we decide to follow Jesus, we carry His “mark” in our hearts and on our lives.

You have been tattooed by the grace of God in Jesus Christ.

Now go and live out YOUR tattoo faithfully. Remember that tattoo is where everyone can see it!

Broadband access bill passed by state Senate committee

By T. Scott Boatright

Broadband internet access could become easier to find in the future thanks to ongoing discussion in the Louisiana legislative session.

LSU’s Manship School News Service said that a bill to establish a grant program to create broadband access for state communities passed through a Senate committee on Wednesday.

If fully passed, the Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities (GUMBO) program plans to use more than $180 million in federal funds to provide broadband and internet access to 400,000 households in Louisiana.

The FCC released the Emergency Broadband Benefit Fund in early May, and it will give eligible low-income households stipends for monthly internet fees. Since last year the Louisiana Legislature has created a Louisiana Office of Broadband and Connectivity while also granting tax-exemptions on broadband equipment and supplies.

Private and public service providers would apply to the GUMBO program to receive funding for the creation of broadband infrastructure in unserved communities around the state.

Earlier this month Ruston’s Board of Aldermen passed a motion to hire a national consulting firm to continue moving forward with the potential project that if it works out could offer internet service for city Ruston residents and businesses.

Boys & Girls Club recognizes Tech COB students for academics

Pictured at left is Lauren Manuel while at right is Katie Morgan. (Courtesy photos)

Press release

The Boys & Girls Clubs of North Louisiana has announced that two of its Americorps VISTA employees are now part of the 2020-21 Outstanding Senior Scholars in the College of Business at Louisiana Tech University.

Lauren Manuel and Katie Morgan both assist The B&G Club of North Louisiana’s Resource Development team while also pursuing their undergraduate degrees in marketing and their masters degree in Business.

The two of are part of a group of 20 to be selected as Outstanding Senior Scholars, which is considered one of the highest scholastic honors that the college of business awards to undergraduate students.

Manuel, a native of Zachary, currently holds a 3.8 GPA and will graduate with her undergraduate degree is August.

Morgan grew up in Florida but later moved to Argyle, Texas, where she graduated from high school. Originally determined to attend the University of Florida, Morgan said she changed her mind after falling in love with Louisiana Tech on her official campus visit as a high school senior. She currently holds a 3.7 GPA and will graduate in November. Both are on schedule to also graduate with their MBAs in August 2022.

Log Cabin’s Garriga, Gaudet double down on Chamber Banquet honors

Pictured are Johnny Gaudet (left) and Chris Garriga (left) receiving the Business of the Year Award from Chamber of Commerce President Judy Copeland (Photo by T. SCOTT BOATRIGHT/LPJ)

By T. Scott Boatright

Ruston entrepreneurs Chris Garriga and Johnny Gaudet hit the “daily double” Tuesday night as the duo picked up a pair of awards during the Ruston-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce’s 101 annual Awards Banquet held at the Lincoln Parish Library Events Center.

Garriga and Gaudet, owners and operators of both Log Cabin Grill and Market and Ponchatoulas, were presented with the Business of the Year from the Chamber of Commerce as well as the Hospitality Award from Experience Ruston (the Ruston-Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau).

The Business of the Year Award went to Log Cabin Grill and Market.

Originally a log cabin home, the building was converted to a restaurant more than 30 years ago and was purchased by Garriga and Gaudet in November of 2005.

The restaurant also features a market offering ready-made to heat and eat “grab and go” meals as well as other specialties.

Chamber of Commerce recognizes young leaders

Pictured are the Ruston-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce’s Top Young Business Leaders to Watch. From left to right are Missy Russell-Gibbons, Amanda Quimby Carrier, Daniel Dupuy, Rebecca Lewis Smart and John Cowling. (Photo by T. SCOTT BOATRIGHT/LPJ)

By T. Scott Boatright

The Ruston-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce recognized its Top Young Business Leaders to Watch during its 101st annual Awards Banquet held Tuesday night at the Lincoln Parish Library Events Center.

Earning 2020 honors as top young business leaders were:
• Amanda Quimby Carrier, Experience Ruston

• John Cowling, Rolling Hill Ministries

• Daniel Dupuy, Louisiana Tech University

• Missy Russell-Gibbons, Skip Russell State Farm

• Rebecca Lewis Smart, Junior Auxiliary of Ruston