Wearing red, white and blue takes on a different perspective for Tech’s Lofton

Kenneth Lofton, Jr. grew accustomed to wearing red, white and blue during his freshman campaign at Louisiana Tech.

Now the Bulldog forward will don the same color scheme as he heads to Europe with the Team USA to play in the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup in Latvia.

After impressing the college basketball world – even Fran Fraschilla … finally – Junior used the same skillset to impress the coaches during a two-day tryout at TCU last week as he was one of 12 players out of 27 invitees that made Team USA.

The Port Arthur, Texas, native’s rise to becoming a household name in the college basketball world got another boost. Now he will represent his country after catching the eye of the coaches for Team USA.

“Training camp was a hard battle,” said Junior. “As it went along, I just continued to play basketball. Just do what I was doing in the season my freshman year.”

The news comes as no surprise to Bulldog fans who watched the 6-foot-8 rookie bully his way to the Conference USA Freshman of the Year honor this past season. He averaged 12.1 points and 7.5 rebounds during the season while leading Tech to a 24-8 record and the West Division title.

Junior went from good to great during Tech’s NIT Final Four run, averaging 20 points and 8.5 rebounds in four games, including 27 points and 13 rebounds in the consolation win over Colorado State – including the game-winner with less than a second to play.

He also registered a double double with 20 points and 10 rebounds vs. Mississippi State and added 22 points and seven boards in a win over Ole Miss.

Junior’s biggest games came against the biggest opponents. Now he will be on one of the biggest stages as he represents Tech and Team USA.

“When I first heard I made it, it was a blessing,” said Lofton, Jr. “To be able to be a part of the United States, to represent my family, my hometown of Port Arthur, Louisiana Tech, it is a big deal. They said it was a hard decision. It has been great competing against some of the best players in the country.”

At only 18 years of age, Junior will garner invaluable international experience that will only help him as he prepares for his sophomore season in Ruston.

He and his Team USA teammates will have just a few days to adjust to the time difference as the World Cup gets underway on July 3 against Turkey. Team USA will than face Mali on July 4 and a close preliminary play versus Australia on July 6.

“I never thought I would be playing for Team USA,” said Lofton, Jr. “It was unreal when they called to give me an opportunity to try out.”

Chalk this up as one dream come true for Lofton.

And as excited as he is about the next few weeks, he is already got his eyes set on fulfilling another dream in 2021-22 when he is back in the LA Tech red, white and blue.

“Once I get back to Ruston, I will continue to keep doing what I have been doing, grinding,” said Junior. “I want us to become a better team and get to the NCAA Tournament.”

PHOTO:  courtesy of USA Basketball.


Lincoln Parish: Federal Extension of Eviction and Foreclosure Moratoriums Extended

Gov. John Bel Edwards supports the Biden administration’s extension of the federal eviction moratorium until July 31, 2021. He encourages all renters, homeowners and landlords who are experiencing ongoing economic hardship due to COVID-19 to take immediate steps to apply for state assistance that will help them address their housing challenges.

“We are grateful to President Joe Biden and his administration for extending this additional lifeline to those who are still struggling due to the pandemic,” said Gov. Edwards. “It’s important that everyone who needs this additional time act as soon as possible to secure state assistance or explore mortgage payment options because this is intended to be the final federal extension. While this will prevent evictions and ensure housing stability for another month, there are steps renters and homeowners who are struggling financially due to COVID-19 can and should take now to protect themselves from possible eviction or foreclosure beyond this extension. Later this summer, Louisiana will receive $146.7 million funded through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to assist homeowners economically impacted by the pandemic.”

Renters and Landlords

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a one-month extension of the eviction moratorium for renters impacted by COVID-19 until July 31.

About 50,000 renters and landlords have already applied for assistance through Louisiana’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program and similar programs administered by Caddo, Calcasieu, East Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Jefferson, Orleans and St. Tammany parishes. More than $10.7 million has been awarded to renters and landlords through the state-administered emergency rental assistance program. The program, which expanded in May to include utility assistance, provides funding support for past-due rent and utility fees dating back to April 2020, as well as future rent for eligible applicants. For more information about Louisiana’s Emergency Rental Assistance program and how to access locally administered programs, visit LAStateRent.com or call 877.459.6555 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Homeowners

Federal agencies that back mortgages—the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Agriculture—have extended their respective foreclosure moratoriums until July 31, 2021. The Federal Housing Finance Agency also extended the foreclosure moratorium for mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac until July 31, 2021. While state programs for homeowner assistance are still in the planning stages, homeowners who are struggling financially can temporarily pause or reduce their mortgage payments by entering into a forbearance agreement with their lenders.

Forbearance allows homeowners to repay missed payments over time or when they refinance or sell their homes, and relief options depend on who owns or backs a mortgage, the programs they offer, and the eligibility criteria they set. To learn whether a mortgage is backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or the federal government, homeowners can contact their loan servicer or search online. Homeowners without federally backed mortgages who are behind on payments are urged to contact their mortgage servicers to determine any forbearance options. Visit the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau website for more information on the moratorium extension and preventing foreclosure.

Under the U.S. Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, servicers of federally backed mortgages must provide forbearance for borrowers with COVID-related hardships for up to two consecutive 180-day periods. HUD, VA and USDA will continue allowing homeowners to enter into COVID-related forbearance through Sept. 30, 2021, while homeowners with Fannie Mae- or Freddie Mac-backed mortgages also continue to be eligible for COVID-related forbearance. HUD, VA and USDA will announce additional steps in July to offer borrowers payment reduction options that enable more homeowners to stay in their homes.

Lastly, Louisiana is set to receive $146.7 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds later this summer as part of the Homeowner Assistance Fund, which is designed to prevent mortgage delinquencies and defaults, foreclosures, loss of utilities or home energy services and displacement of homeowners experiencing financial hardship after January 21, 2020. Louisiana is awaiting final guidance from the U.S. Treasury Department to launch the program.


Tech’s top-caliber performances earn accolades from LSWA, D1Baseball

Members of the Louisiana Tech Strategic Communications department collected six awards, including four first place honors, during the 2021 Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s annual sports information contest announced Sunday.

For the eighth straight year, LA Tech took home the most awards in the state as the department placed in six of the seven award categories. LSU claimed five awards while Northwestern State followed with four.

The Louisiana Tech Strategic Communications department has now won 106 awards in the state contest over the past 21 years, the second most of any program in the state. The four first-place finishes tied for the most since 2017.

In the Division I Release/Feature (Football) category, Ashley Springer, who just completed her first year at LA Tech, won third place for her feature on Bulldog offensive lineman Joshua Mote walking at graduation with his mother.

Also getting third place was Malcolm Butler in the Division III Release/Feature (WBB, Softball) category for his recap of the Lady Techster softball team using an 11th-hour rally to claim the UTSA series. It brought his awards total to 46, the most of any state SID in the last 21 years.

Kane McGuire collected first place in the Division IV Release/Feature (all other sports) for his release on the LA Tech Soccer team having to navigate through another unusual fall. It marked his 14th career award in nine years with the department.

“At 535 words, this may have been the shortest of the entries, but it was the most smartly written,” said the judges. “In writing on Tech’s soccer team dealing with a second straight unusual fall – COVID-19 in 2020 and having a tornado destroy its home pitch, this writer’s jaunty but succinct style shined.”

Hall of Fame broadcaster Dave Nitz won first place for the fourth time in the College Radio Play-by-Play category for his call of Manny Garcia’s three-run homer sparking LA Tech Baseball’s comeback win over UAB. The radio legend has placed in the top two in eight of the nine years the category has existed.

In just the second year of having a Photography category, Tom Morris picked up first place honors for his photo of a Southern Miss pitcher in disbelief as Manny Garcia crosses home plate in the background after a walk-off homerun by the Bulldogs. The photo appears with this story.

“This photo epitomizes all that lies within every sport – the winners and losers – and emphasizes the quote from ABC broadcaster Jim McKay, ‘the thrill of victory … and the agony of defeat,’ ” said the judges.

A Graphics category is also in its second year of the awards. After earning second place last year, Courtney Pugh of Donnie Bell Design finished first with his graphic of LA Tech’s Amorie Archibald reaching the 1,000 career points mark.

WELLS’ TROPHY CASE SWELLS: Monday, Louisiana Tech third baseman Hunter Wells was once again named an All-American. Wells, already a two-time first team All-American and one-time third team All-American in this year’s assortment of A-A teams, earned a second team All-America honor from D1Baseball.

Wells, who ranks second in the nation with 101 hits and sixth in the country with 70 runs scored, led Conference USA in batting average (.385) and total bases (169). He also led the Bulldogs with a team-best OPS of 1.101.

Wells and teammates Parker Bates, Jonathan Fincher and Taylor Young form the quartet of Bulldogs to earn All-America honors in 2021.

PHOTO:  by Tom Morris


CASA VOLUNTEER TRAINING

CASA of NELA will offer online training sessions every Thursday evening from July 22-August 19. CASA Volunteers speak up for children in the foster care system due to abuse or neglect. CASA is currently serving 10 cases with 15 children in the 3rd judicial district. We need volunteers to help change a child’s story.


Podcast: Edwin W. Edwards joins Billy West Live

Ninety-three-year-old former Governor Edwin W. Edwards joins Billy West Live and provides his thoughts on Donald Trump, the news media of today and social media’s impact on politics. Governor Edwards talks about his tenure as the only four-time elected Governor of the State of Louisiana, race relations and voter suppression issues that dominate the news.

Next week Governor Edwin Edwards joins Billy West Live and discusses teacher pay, the value of funding higher education and his relationship with former Governor Dave Treen as well as his thoughts on Governor Jon Bel Edwards. Governor Edwards also discusses his race against former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke.


Billy West Live Profile

Billy West has been a practicing attorney in Louisiana for 32 years with an active practice in all areas of civil and criminal law.

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DeLaTerre Permaculture Farm Launches Summer CSA Program

How It All Started

In 2019, Donna and Waylon purchased a 14-acre homestead in Eros, Louisiana. Upon purchasing it, they knew immediately what their mission would be, to use the land to produce farm fresh, delicious, and nutritious food. Food that would feed their friends, family, and community for years to come. When they began searching for a name, Waylon suggested DeLaTerre Permaculture Farm. A phrase that, quite literally, meant “of the earth.” The objective of the farm? To produce humanely raised animals, using regenerative grazing practices, and naturally grown fruits and vegetables, avoiding the use of harmful chemicals. To date, that is EXACTLY what the farm has accomplished. DeLaTerre is growing food the way nature intended!

Rolling Out Summer CSA

Donna and Waylon would like to be your farmers and are inviting you to subscribe to their Summer CSA. What is a CSA? Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a partnership between a farmer and the community. The CSA program is a type of “cooperative,” where a community member (customer), pays a subscription fee at the beginning of the growing season in exchange for a full season of “cream of the crop” produce, eggs & meat selections, a “share.” The items in your weekly share are then boxed and delivered to convenient pick-up locations in Monroe, West Monroe, Campti, Natchitoches and Ruston. The CSA model creates a direct connection between farmers and consumers.

DeLaTerre Permaculture Farm’s Summer CSA subscription will run for 12 weeks, from the week of July 13th through October 2nd, 2021. There are three different types of CSA boxes to choose from this season. Customers can choose from either a veggie box, a veggie and egg box or a veggie, chicken and egg box. Each box will contain at least 8 seasonal, freshly picked produce items. DeLaTerre Permaculture Farm is accepting pre-orders for the summer CSA boxes now. You won’t want to miss out on this amazing opportunity to have farm fresh, nutritious and delicious food from your local farmers!

Pricing For The Summer CSA Boxes:

* 12-week Veggie CSA Box Subscription – $300 ($25/week)

* 12-week Veggie and Egg CSA Box Subscription – $360 ($30/week)

* 12-week Veggie, Chicken, and Egg CSA Box Subscription – $600 ($50/week)

Other Farm Fresh Options

Every week, DeLaTerre Permaculture Farm stocks their online market with seasonal produce, a variety of herbs, a selection of pastured eggs and humanely raised meat products. You can shop online by visiting http://www.DeLaTerreDelish.com. To ensure you never miss the happenings on the farm, subscribe to their weekly newsletter, like them on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/delaterrepermaculturefarm, or follow them on Instagram, @delaterrepermaculturefarm.


Ruston Parks & Recreation: Karate Classes

Buster Cotten’s Karate offers classes teaching the style of Jordan Korean Karate/ Tae Kwan Do. This style of martial arts has been taught in the Ruston community for nearly 40 years and is a year-round program that teaches students of all ages the merits of loyalty, ability, and integrity through a curriculum teaching fundamental arm and leg techniques for practical self-defense. Buster Cotten’s Karate also provides opportunities for its students to participate in local, state, and national level competitive events.

This traditional Korean Karate program was founded by Dr. David Jordan, a 10th-degree black belt. All classes are instructed by Buster Cotten, a 7th-degree black belt and five-time National Instructor of the Year with the United States Karate Alliance. Free trial lessons are available for new students.

Three separate classes are offered on Mondays and Wednesdays between 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM for youth and adults. For more information, please contact Buster Cotten at (318) 259-5000.


Tech hoops star Kenneth Lofton, Jr. makes USA World Cup team

FORT WORTH, Texas – Kenneth Lofton, Jr. is trading in his Louisiana Tech red and blue for a different kind of red and blue this summer.

After going through a six-day training camp in Fort Worth, Texas along with 25 other athletes, the Bulldog freshman sensation was selected to the 12-member 2021 USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Cup Team roster.

The team features six players who completed their first collegiate season and six players from the high school class of 2021.

The Port Arthur, Texas native made the first round of cuts on June 21 as one of 17 finalists. The official team was selected following 10 training sessions held on the campus of Texas Christian University.

Lofton, Jr. becomes the first LA Tech men’s basketball player to earn ever a spot on the U19 World Cup Team and just the seventh from a current Conference USA school.

USA men’s teams have won seven gold medals, three silver medals and one bronze medal while compiling a 99-14 overall record in U19 World Cup play since the even launched in 1979. The UTSA has won four of the last six U19 golds since 2009.

The current team is scheduled to wrap up training on the TCU campus today, then travel to Riga, Latvia for the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup that will be played July 3-11.

Featuring U19 teams from 16 nations, the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup includes in addition to the USA and host Latvia, Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, France, Japan, Lithuania, Mali, Puerto Rico, Senegal, Serbia, South Korea, Spain and Turkey.

The USA was drawn into Group D, alongside Australia, Mali and Turkey for the July 3-6 FIBA U19 World Cup preliminary round. The USA will open play against Turkey on July 3 (9:30 a.m. CT), followed by Mali on July 4 (12:30 p.m. CT) and close preliminary play against Australia on July 6 (12:30 p.m. CT).

USA U19 World Cup Team

Patrick Baldwin, Jr. (Hamilton HS/Sussex, Wis.)
Kennedy Chandler (Sunrise Christian Academy, Kan./Memphis, Tenn.)
Jonathan Davis (Wisconsin/La Crosse, Wis.)
Caleb Furst (Blackhawk Christian School/Fort Wayne, Ind.)
Chet Holmgren (Minnehaha Academy/Minneapolis, Minn.)
Harrison Ingram (St. Mark’s School/Dallas, Texas)
Jaden Ivey (Purdue/South Bend, Ind.)
Ryan Kalkbrenner (Creighton/St. Louis, Mo.)
Kenneth Lofton, Jr. (Louisiana Tech/Port Arthur, Texas)
Mike Miles (TCU/Lancaster, Texas)
Adam Miler (LSU/Chicago, Ill.)
Peyton Watson (Long Beach Poly Tech HS/Long Beach, Calif.)


Lincoln Parish foursome enters Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame

Delayed but not denied, the 2020 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame induction class finally took center stage Saturday night inside the Natchitoches Events Center.

And despite the two years between induction ceremonies, little changed during the 61st induction ceremony.

The 11-person induction class lived up to its billing of a diverse class, but the themes that permeated their presentations and induction speeches were generally similar.

From family members or coaches or teammates or co-workers – and of course, their Louisiana roots — the feelings of gratitude remained as consistent as they were ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic, which twice delayed the group’s official induction into the state’s sports shrine.

Whether it was the self-professed “city boy” from New Orleans like Kerry Kittles or the sweet, smooth shooting small-town girl from Bienville Parish in Lady Techster basketball great Angela Turner Johnson, those Louisiana roots run deep.

“Growing up in Shady Grove, it was such a small community, but we had a sense of family,” Turner-Johnson said “If someone did something wrong, our parents knew before we got home because everybody cared about everybody. Mr. Edward Mason, our principal, instilled in us to be the best we can be. He wanted us to not let our humble beginnings get in the way of us dreaming big.”

She was among four Lincoln Parish inductees, joined by fellow Tech graduate (both have bachelors’ and master’s degrees) and world-renowned outdoorsman Phil Robertson, along with Grambling graduates Ronnie “The King’ Coleman, an eight-time Mr. Olympia bodybuilder who earned cum laude honors in accounting at GSU, and prep football coaching legend Mackie Freeze.

The members of the long-awaited Class of 2020 dreamed big and delivered even bigger for the Sportsman’s Paradise.

In high school and college, Robertson’s talents were on the gridiron, but football didn’t rivet him like hunting did.

Robertson discovered his passion for hunting at 11 years old and ultimately converted it into the world-renowned Duck Commander brand that launched the A&E reality series “Duck Dynasty.”

“I told my Ma, ‘I’m not going to school today. I’m going duck hunting,’” Robertson recalled. “She said, ‘Go get us some.’ I walk to Little Lake, and I’m poaching. I see three green-winged teal and a pintailed hen flying together. They come right at me, and I empty my gun. Boom. Boom. Boom. I got two of them. I stripped naked, jumped in the water got my ducks, put my clothes back on and jogged home.

“I ran in the door and told my Pa, who was sitting by the header, ‘Paw, I’ve struck’ He said you got a teal and a pintail, tell your mom to cook them and we’ll eat. I’ve been chasing them ever since.”

Robertson, 75, was far from the oldest inductee spotlighted Saturday night.

After starting the Richwood High School football program with a $350 budget, Mackie Freeze captured four straight state championships from 1961-64, continuing the success he began as an undefeated pitcher for Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones’ Grambling baseball teams during his college career. He played in the first football game he ever saw, thanks to Grambling icon Eddie Robinson recognizing his ability.

At 94 years old, Freeze became the oldest living inductee in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, doing so with his trademark positivity.

“To be invited to this beautiful presentation makes my day, and I wouldn’t want to be in any other place on the globe than right here, right now,” Freeze said.


Men and Boys Should Take Charge of Their Health for Longer, Fuller Lives

June marks Men’s Health Month and the goal is to encourage men and boys to take charge of their health by making healthy living decisions. Although the month is nearing the end, the importance remains for regular checkups and awareness of the health risks associated with age, ethnicity, and lifestyle, said Dr. Larry Proctor, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology, Sport and Leisure Studies at Grambling State University.

A physical exam/well check and the physical activity readiness questionnaire (PAR-Q) are good places to start. The PAR-Q can help men decide if they are able to exercise safely or if they might need to consult with a doctor to make sure they don’t overdo it.

To take charge of their health, men also need to make time for a prostate cancer screening, cholesterol and blood pressure screening, diabetes test, colonoscopy and bone density test.

“When asked why they don’t get routine medical care such as an annual physical, men often report vague issues like a busy schedule. But we suspect there’s more to it than that,” Dr. Proctor said. “When researchers dug a little deeper, they discovered a few common themes popping up around this troubling trend.”

According to Harvard and Rutgers, men who self-report traditional views on masculinity are also less likely to get consistent health care. There appears to be a correlation between holding the belief that men should be strong and self-reliant (and slow to show emotion) which happens to include resisting routine exams as a sign of strength.

“Fear of diagnosis, white coat syndrome or discomfort with exams are a few other reasons for not getting medical checkups,” Dr. Proctor said.

According to Proctor, men are twice as likely to wait more than two years between doctor visits. In fact, for all the reasons listed above and more, more than 40% of men don’t go to the doctor at all unless they have a serious issue.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14.9% of men aged 18 and over are in fair or poor health. During Men’s Health Month and beyond, men are encouraged to take steps to enrich their health and wellness through proper screenings and care.

That means going to the doctor if they are feeling sick, Dr. Proctor said.

“Physiological or metabolic, musculoskeletal and/or cardiovascular irregularities associated with pain are signs that we have to respond to,” he said. “If caught early enough through diagnosis, there is a 45% chance of preventing debilitation or adding years to your life.”

He added that they are five ways men can take care of themselves:

Get regular health checkups. Annual checkups could save your life.
Get good sleep. Not getting enough sleep can be associated with a number of conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, depression, and stress.
Toss the tobacco.
Be active.
Eat healthier.
“Reach out to culturally-appropriate educational programs designed to increase health literacy and physical fitness activities,” Dr. Proctor said.