Updates coming in downtown Ruston

Downtown Ruston is about to receive some upgrades. 

After the city council met for its monthly meeting, it allowed a section of property owned by Michael Echols of Monroe to be named an Economic Development District. This area, which goes from Ruston Farmers Market to Hazel Street, will be developed for condos, restaurants and several businesses. 

The area will be named the Power and Water District, as it is located where the former power and water buildings were housed. As the city council allowed it to be designated an Economic Development District, that will allow the owner, Echols, to ask for an EDD tax. In the Power and Water District’s case, the tax will be 1 ¾ percent. Echols as the developer, not the city, will receive the tax in order to assist in the development of the area. 

Rosy Bromell, Ruston Farmers Market board president, said all the new developments around the town would only enhance RFM. 

“New developments to the east of downtown help to drive traffic to our building,” Bromell said. “Not only the buildings in the P&W District, but also the new Skate Park. Our location is wonderful, but off the beaten path and not always known to the public. These new developments and other expansions to the east will be a great way to connect different areas of Ruston together and highlight the location of the RFM.” 

Bromell said the city plans to build a staircase from the back side of the Historic Fire Station parking lot to the RFM building to allow parking for the market once part of RFM’s parking is taken for the new development. Bromell said she thinks the staircase will guide more people to the market. 

“The RFM has benefited greatly from partnerships in our community,” Bromell said. “We rely on generous sponsors like Origin Bank and from those that provide in-kind services. We also have been able to connect growers with local restaurants like Grown and Grazed. We enjoy having community events in the market building. An example is Artoberfest. There are so many opportunities for the RFM to partner with others that we anticipate any new economic development will be beneficial. Mike Echols has shared his dream with the RFM Board and we are excited about what this will bring to Ruston and to Ruston Farmers Market.” 

Hometown Hero: Donnie Aultman

Donnie Aultman is pictured with wife Paula in 2018, when he served on the officiating crew at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl played in Atlanta between Michigan and Florida.

By T. Scott Boatright

Lincoln Parish has also produced some well known football officials over the years, including Bobby Aillet, who was a fixture on SEC gridirons and turned in a 36-year-career serving as a referee for 450 football games on both the high school and collegiate football levels. 

In 1966 Aillet, a Louisiana Tech University graduate and the son of former Bulldogs head coach and football stadium namesake Joe Aillet, 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 press boxes 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.

But Aillet, who passed away in March at the age of 93, wasn’t the last Tech tie to an NCAA championship officiating crew. 

In January, Tech grad Donnie Aultman, a Big 12 official who started his career as a referee in north Louisiana in 1995, served as one of the refs working the FBS national championship game between Alabama and Clemson.

“That was all so surreal,” Aultman said. “Last year was such a different year.” Aultman said. “We were having to be tested (because of COVID-19 protocols) during the week starting to Tuesday prior to each game, just hoping a game would be played that weekend. I was fortunate to work every week with no missed games.

“Then one day I got this email saying I was going to be working the national championship game. I had to reread that email twice making sure I wasn’t hallucinating.”

Aultman said he got his chance because the Big 12 was one of conferences to not have a team in the playoff field, and the NCAA makes sure the playoff referees are from “neutral” leagues with no representatives in the semifinals or title games.

“It was an incredible honor and experience,” Aultman said. “Months later it’s still hard to believe that really happened.”

Aultman was only 22 back in 1995 when he began his career as a referee.

“I was going into the business world but had always been involved in athletics,” Aultman said. “I started asking myself what I could do to stay involved in athletics somehow, because I knew I wasn’t going to coach. I probably would have gone into baseball because that’s what I really wanted to do, but my job just wouldn’t allow it, especially because there were so many day games back then. 

“It just so happened that I worked for CenturyLink — I still do — and they had an in-house newspaper that had an article about a local referee, Robin Chappellie, who worked at Tech and was friends with Roy Waters, who also worked at Tech and was a referee. I talked to them seeking something to stay involved in sports.

“That was the spring of 1995 and he took me out to the Ouachita (High School) spring game. That got my feet wet a little bit and from then on I just started working as many what we call sub-varsity games as I could. I worked my tail off and worked my way up to varsity.”

Aultman said that back then, the NCAA usually didn’t pick someone to be a referee until they were at least 30.

“So I got about eight or nine years of high school experience before I broke into the college ranks,” Aultman said. “I started with the Southland Conference in 2004. Once the Big 12 started working with other conferences a couple of years later, I was working Southland games and was being looked at by the Sun Belt. I worked the Sun Belt for the 2008 and ‘09 seasons while also working some Southland games. Then in 2010 I got on a Big 12 crew.”

Aultman, who is headed to Boise, Idaho, this weekend for the Broncos’ contest against Nevada, says his gameweek experience usually begins the Friday morning before each contest.

“We have to be there the night before the game,” Aultman said. “So this week, we’ll meet there in Boise as a group at 4 p.m. Friday. We’ll have a crew meeting for about an hour to an hour-and-a-half and discuss logistics and anything that’s happened over the past week that we need to discuss as a crew. Then we’ll eat dinner and just rest and watch whatever football game is on television Friday night.”

“On Saturday we have a 1:30 (p.m.) kickoff, so we’ll meet Saturday morning just to discuss anything else that may have come up overnight, and then we’ll have a crew devotion. We have to be at the stadium around three hours in advance of kickoff, so we’ll be at the stadium by 10:30 to 10:45 Saturday morning.

“We have some responsibilities when we get to the stadium. Each official has different things to take care of. Then at least 90 minutes before kickoff, a couple of us have to be on the field to start monitoring what’s going on out there. Then we all have to be on the field 60 minutes prior to kickoff.”

Aultman says after the game the crew has to go over foul reports.

“There’s an online system we log our fouls on, and provide any description we want to on what we saw and what happened,” he said. “Then you get back home the best and fastest you can on Sunday and that’s the weekend. If we can get back out or are driving me, we’re free to go after that foul report is submitted. But usually if we’re flying, that happens on Sunday.”

While Aultman didn’t meet Bobby Aillet Sr., he has talked and gotten advice from Bobby Aillet Jr., who followed in his father’s footsteps as a longtime SEC referee who worked 13 postseason games himself, including three SEC Championships, two Rose Bowls and two Fiesta Bowls.

“When I first got into refereeing college games, I talked to Bobby Jr. quite a bit and he was a big help for my career,” Aultman said.

“This wasn’t something I exactly planned to do when I was growing up, but it’s something I love. It’s best when you’re not noticed, because that probably means nothing controversial has happened — the kind of thing that can be a headache for a game official. … It’s just something I love doing.”


Detention Center inmate dies

The Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Department announced an inmate housed at the parish detention center has died.

On Sept. 24 at approximately 12 p.m., inmate Demerious Jones was found unresponsive in his cell at the Lincoln Parish Detention Center. Deputies and medical staff began rendering aid until Ruston Ambulance Service arrived. Jones was transported to Northern Louisiana Medical Center. Despite lifesaving measures, Jones passed away. 

An autopsy has been ordered to determine cause of death. Per policy, members of the North Louisiana Sheriff’s Investigative Unit responded to the Lincoln Parish Detention Center to investigate. 

Earlier this year, the Sheriff’s Department announced it had teamed with sheriff’s offices in six other North Louisiana parishes to form the NLSIU to help conduct investigations involving the use of force that results in death or serious bodily injury, or incident like an inmate death.

In April, LPSO spokesman Matt Henderson told the Lincoln Parish Journal that the unit provided “a chance for these agencies to provide more transparency where you might have as many as six agencies coming in to investigate an incident that occurred at a parish sheriff’s office.”

Henderson said the sheriff’s office in the parish where an incident occurs will not be part of the North Louisiana Sheriff’s Investigative Unit studying that case. 

“Whatever agency is involved in the incident would not have a representative investigating the incident, hence allowing that third-party group to come in and put their eyes on the particular case,” Henderson said.

The Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Department operates the detention center.

The parishes included in the North Louisiana Sheriff’s Investigative Unit are Caldwell, Franklin, Lincoln, Morehouse, Ouachita, Richland and Union.

NLSIU will release more information when further details become available.

Junior Auxiliary of Ruston welcomes new members

Junior Auxiliary of Ruston welcomed its incoming Provisional and Crown Club classes for the 2021-2022 year with a reception hosted by the Provisional Trainer and Crown Club Chair. The Provisional  group of 14 ladies have shown interest in JA of Ruston and will be trained for six months as well as attend chapter meetings and projects to determine if they wish to volunteer their time to their community through this organization for the next five years.

Crown Club of Ruston began in 2016 as a project to reach and mentor high school girls in responsibility, leadership and volunteering. This service year will be the largest class in Crown Club of Ruston’s existence. We welcomed seventeen new members to this service year. Much like JA, Crown Club has its own board, service and finance projects utilized to improve and support our community.  

Junior Auxiliary is a national non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization that encourages members to render charitable services which are beneficial to the general public, with particular emphasis on children.

JA of Ruston was chartered by a group of caring and enthusiastic women in 1983; it continues to grow and thrive throughout Ruston and Lincoln Parish. Volunteers work tirelessly throughout the year on a variety of projects that focus on local children and families in need of assistance and hope.

JA of Ruston is a part of the National Association of Junior Auxiliaries (NAJA), a non-profit organization founded in 1941 with headquarters in Greenville, MS. NAJA has more than 15,400 active, associate and life members in nearly 100 chapters across Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas.

The NAJA slogan is “Caring Hearts, Helping Hands, Changing Lives,” and when teamed with the current national focus of the association, “ The Power of Words” Junior Auxiliary Chapters are working more than ever before to increase awareness of child health and welfare and how it affects their futures.

For more information on Junior Auxiliary of Ruston visit www.jaofruston.org, for information on becoming a provisional, contact vp@jaofruston.org, Crown Club can be reached at crownclub@jaofruston.org, or follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/juniorauxiliaryofruston. For more information on NAJA, visit www.najanet.org.

In the above photo, Provisional Members listed from left to right:

Front Row: Heather Terry , Kristy Barnette, Elizabeth Durbin
Back Row: Van Le, Jessica Williams, Lorrie Gates, Brittany Powell, Jordan Duran, Jessica Duncan, Donna Hardel, Briley Blazo.
Not Pictured: Madison Ditta, Chelsea Manning, Taylor Sloan

Additionally, the 2021-2022 Crown Club includes LaDiamond White, Catherine Cooper, Gabby Sterling, Hannah Reeder, Sadie Brown, Riley Patterson, Madeline Davis, Kate Pullin, Mary Laura Hunt, Kailee Barnette, Devika Dua, Leah Ashlak,  Murphy DeMoss, Amaree Sterling, Leah Sutherland, Preslea St. Andre, Rosemary Sewell, GiGi Daughtry, Lauryn Garrison, and Mariah White.

Harris earns state award

They call him Smoke for a reason.

Louisiana Tech sophomore wide receiver/punt returner Smoke Harris was named the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA) Co-Special Teams Player of the Week Monday.

Harris registered a 67-yard punt return, the longest of his career, in LA Tech’s 24-17 conference-opening victory over North Texas. It was the longest punt return by a Bulldog since 2011 when Craig Johnson had an 82-yard punt return.

Harris, a native of St. Francisville, La., returned the punt to the North Texas two-yard line which allowed Tech to score a 21-yard field goal. He finished the game with three punt returns for 81 yards.

LA Tech steps out of conference for the last time, playing at No. 23 NC State on Saturday, Oct. 2. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. CT at Carter-Finley Stadium. The matchup will be broadcast on ESPN+.

State park brings visitors through Lincoln

By Wesley Harris

If you see a RV with out-of-state license plates headed out the White Lightning Road, the odds are it is headed to Lake Claiborne State Park.

The park and the lake on which it sits are among the premier tourist destinations in northwest Louisiana.

The plan for a lake on Bayou D’arbonne in Claiborne Parish was first proposed in 1959. The state agreed to conduct a water resource survey and favorable findings led to a bill in the Louisiana Legislature to allocate funds for the project.

An earthen dam 5,500 feet long was constructed with one million cubic yards of dirt. The dam, which created a 6,400-acre lake with 40 miles of shoreline, was accepted as complete in August 1966. 

Initially, the state studied two plans for recreation facilities along the lake. The first called for three small parks, the other for a single large park. Thirty employees were estimated to be needed to operate the park.

The first funding for parks on the lake was obtained in December 1966. The details were still pending on the number of parks and whether they would be operated by the state or the local lake commission.

In 1966, state legislature voted to create a state park on a 92-acre tract with 3,000 feet of shoreline on the south side of the lake.

Movement on the park was slow, however, with bidding on the construction project delayed until 1972. The estimated cost of the initial phase of construction was scheduled to be approximately $300,000 to be financed by the state and a matching federal grant.

The planned park consisted of forty campsites with electric power and water. Other features in the park were to include a 40-unit picnic area, an open-air picnic shelter, restrooms, boat ramp and boathouse, fishing pier, underground utilities and a water well.

In January 1973 a contract was awarded to McInnis Brothers of Minden to construct the first phase of the park.

More than 200 people attended a dedication ceremony for the new Lake Claiborne State Park on May 12, 1974.

In 1984, a new campground was added, increasing the number of campsites for tents and RVs to 87. Over time the state added more tracts to the park to reach its current size of 643 acres. 

In addition to camping and fishing and boating, the state park offers hiking, playgrounds, and a popular sandy beach. Other activities have included cross country meets, family reunions, car shows, 4-H events, weddings, geocaching, fishing tournaments. Scout troops and orienteering groups have capitalized on the natural resources of the park for learning opportunities.

One of the most popular activities for visitors of all ages is swimming at the park’s sandy beach. The beach is situated on an inlet of the lake protected from boats and water skiers. Ecologists and sportsmen alike hail the lake’s excellent water quality.

In January 2000, ten cabins opened to the public after a $1.6 million construction project. Built as complete homes away from home, the cabins contain central air & heat, a wood-burning stove, sleeping arrangements for up to eight, a full kitchen and satellite TV. Basic cookware and bed linens are provided. The cabins have been updated and partially remodeled in recent years.

In addition to the cabins, visitors can rent an open-air pavilion or a large indoor meeting room for special events. The meeting facility has been used for weddings, family reunions, business meetings and birthday parties.

Lake Claiborne is known for being a premiere disc golf destination. Opened in 2014, its disc golf courses are rated as two of the best in America. Players come from all over to tackle the courses laid out on some of the most challenging disc golf terrain in the nation. Several large disc golf tournaments are scheduled each year.

The newest amenity added to the park is a “glamping” experience. Fully-equipped, safari-style canvas tents mounted on wood decks and containing a queen bed and propane heater provide a more luxurious experience than sleeping in a bag on the ground. Long awaited sewer hookups were also added to selected RV campsites this year.

Figures from the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism reveal the 50- to 60,000 annual park visitors add significantly to the local economy. In 1998, the amount was estimated to be $1.7 million. By 2005, the number had fallen to just over $900,000 annually. 

Park use fees have risen to offset the reduction of state funds provided for maintenance and staff. In 1974, entrance into the park was $1 per carload and a campsite rented for $3.50 a night. Today, entry costs $3 per person and campsites range from $25 to $35 nightly. The new glamping campsites run $85 a night.

Park staff is less than a third of what it was at its peak and managers no longer live on site. Despite the financial struggles, the park is well maintained and offers a great getaway for locals and tourists alike.

Although the park is in Claiborne Parish, Ruston and Lincoln Parish benefit from the dollars spent by visitors shopping in local stores, eating in restaurants, and gassing up their RVs.

Reservations for any Louisiana state park can be made at lastateparks.com or by calling 1-877-226-7652. 

Tech holds TOP DOG Idea Pitch contest

By Thomas Stodghill, IV

Louisiana Tech is ready to hear pitches for the TOP DOG Idea Pitch.

They want to hear ideas from the Louisiana Tech community who create change by creating innovative solutions. They believe that this is a good way to come together and solve pesky problems that we all face.

They want to hear ideas that solve an annoying problem or create a much-needed service. This can help create help or feedback with ideas.

The idea is submitted in the form of a sentence:  “My idea for something allows some people to solve a problem or get a benefit by eliminating the problem or creating something new.”

The deadline to enter this contest is today at noon.

Judges will decide the Top 10 Ideas from the pool of ideas and the top 10 will be notified Sept. 30. Those top 10 will meet with the judges at 6 p.m., Oct. 5. 

There are cash prizes for those who are picked by the judges and those who are picked by the audience. Those prizes are $250 each.

If you have any questions, email Debbie Inman at debinman@latech.edu

The link to submit ideas can be found HERE

College student dead in shooting

The shooting death of a college student has led to an arrest by Ruston Police.

At about 2 a.m. Friday morning, RPD officers responded to the CEV Ruston apartment complex at 1812 W. Alabama Ave. in response to a shooting.

Officers found Neangela Smith, 22, with a gunshot wound. The Grambling State student was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said Nicholas Morris, 22, was arrested for negligent homicide following an investigation. No other details have been released. Police said the investigation is continuing.

Morris was booked at the Lincoln Parish Detention Center and has since bonded out.

Grambling State University announced counseling services would be available for anyone needing assistance in dealing with the loss. Smith, a GSU criminal justice major, was from Boyce, Louisiana.  

The Louisiana Criminal Code describes negligent homicide as “the killing of a human being by criminal negligence.” According to the Code, “Criminal negligence exists when, although neither specific nor general criminal intent is present, there is such disregard of the interest of others that the offender’s conduct amounts to a gross deviation below the standard of care expected to be maintained by a reasonably careful man under like circumstances.”

Negligent homicide carries a penalty of up to five years in prison, a fine up to $5,000, or both.

Ruston wins Wallace Martin Invitational

Both of Ruston’s cross country teams had stellar performances this past Saturday at the Cedar Creek Wallace Martin Invitational held at Lincoln Parish Park this weekend by finishing first overall in both varsity girls and boys.

“We were really pleased with Saturdays results,” Ruston cross country coach Dustin Cochran said. “It can be easy for a team to overlook a local meet when it is sandwiched in between two big meets in Baton Rouge. We didn’t let that happen. The attitude and effort were great from the time we got to LPP. We had a race plan, and we tried our best to execute it. On the boys side, the back end of our scorers are really starting to come around. We were missing one of our top guys, and another was sick. We were still able to put 9 boys in the top 18.”

Both teams put six runners in the top ten finishes for dominant performances. The Bearcats finished with a team score of 18, while the Lady Bearcats finished with a team score of 27.

The boys finished as follows: Caleb Babineaux, 1st – 15:36, Thomas Rogers, 2nd – 15:45, Bryar Madden, 3rd – 15:53, Landon Byrd, 5th – 16:18, Nelson Blackburn, 7th – 16:38, Cole Maestrini, 10th – 16:47.

For the girls, it was Lily Garrett, 1st – 18:25, Sydney Owens, 4th – 19:56, Anna Naff, 6th – 19:58, Parker Nations – 7th 20:13, Zoie Holstead, 8th – 20:16, Sara Naff 10th – 20:39.

Cochran added that while he was pleased with how everyone ran, Garrett’s performance in the race stood out.

“What Lily did all by herself, on a tough course, in September, was special,” Cochran added. “The young group of girls behind her packed well, and followed the race plan. They’re continuing to learn each time out, and they should be pretty good in November if they keep improving.”

PHOTO CREDIT: Dr. Amy Vessel

Make sure to get your news at 6:55 a.m. Sunday through Friday by subscribing to our FREE digital newspaper by clicking HERE. All of the LPJ articles are free and always will be free!

Ruston High’s Jason Willis selected as National Merit semifinalist

By Alexis Newman

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation recently announced the names of thousands of students across the nation who have earned the status of semifinalists in this year’s National Merit Scholarship Program, and one of the lucky students is Lincoln Parish’s own Jason Willis, a senior at Ruston High School.

Each year, high school students in the U.S. take the pre-SAT exam, a standardized test, and their score is what determines whether they qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program, a competition in which the high-scoring students submit their transcript and an essay in order to receive scholarships. Those high-scoring students are called the semifinalists, making Willis one of the students who now has the opportunity to qualify for those scholarships.

Throughout his academic career, Willis has received many awards and gotten involved in his community in multiple ways. He is currently an editor for the school paper, Chatter Box, and he is a member of both the National Honor Society and the Future Business Leaders of America. Willis is also an AP student, and he earned the title of student of the month for September by the local Rotary Club. 

Amy Willis, Jason’s mother, said, that despite being surprised at being the only semifinalist in the parish, Jason is thrilled by the opportunity. He’s still in the process of deciding which college he’ll go to next year, but his mother said that he has plenty of interests that he’d potentially like to pursue in college, such as sports, history, writing, political science, and law.

While he isn’t the first student from Ruston High to earn the semifinalist designation, the people in the school’s community recognize that his involvement in multiple extracurriculars and his high academic standing make him a prime candidate for the title.

“It’s a good deal, and it’s a prestigious honor, and we try to make a big deal out of it when we have a kid or two that get it,” Ruston High School principal Daniel Gressett said. “It’s newsworthy, and those are really high-achieving students. Just for them to be recognized is a good thing, and Jason’s a good kid and a good student here.”

Imani Marcel: Panthers’ big man in the middle

Grambling senior lineman Imani Marcel (75) prepares to open a hole for Lincoln Prep during the Panthers’ win at Arcadia on Friday night.

By T. Scott Boatright

Dante Hall, a former NFL wide receiver and return specialist often called the “Human Joystick” and the “X-Factor,” might have said it best.

“Defensive and offensive linemen control the game and true sports fans know that,” is a well-known quote attributed to Hall.

If that’s true (and it is), call Lincoln Preparatory School’s “Man in the Middle,” — lineman Imani Marcel — the Panthers’ controller and spark plug that has ignited his team to a 3-1 start this season.

Panthers coach Glen Hall realizes that and had said this to say about Marcel following his team’s 33-6 win over rival Arcadia Friday night after not defeated the Hornets since 2015:

“We gave away the game ball tonight to Imani,” Hall said after his Panthers’ win over Arcadia. “He had about a bunch of stops in the backfield. He played well as usual on offense, but he was a total disruptor on defense. That dive play Arcadia is famous for? It didn’t go anywhere tonight. They got zero.

“He played nearly every snap. I’m telling you, this kid, he played his butt off. He was rolling kids up — he’d roll them up and dive on them. The official called a flag on him and said, ‘That wasn’t right.’ So he threw a flag because Imani works that hard and is that bigger and stronger than most of the other players out there.”

Officially, GSU coaches credited Marcel with five tackles in that game. But Hall knows it’s more than numbers that count toward a winning season in football on any level, and especially high school. 

Hall also knows you can’t coach size, but says that Marcel has other intangibles that make him a force on the gridiron.

“He has a drive about him. He’s like the Energizer Bunny when he gets going, because he keeps going and going and going,” Hall said of the 6-4, 285-pound Marcel. “Not every player has that. You can’t really teach that. It has to come from inside the player, and Imani has that.”

Marcel understands what his coach was saying.

“I feel it’s all about the mindset you have,” Marcel said. “Not everyone has the same mindset. To me, it’s mental. If you know what type of player you are, you can take care of business. I feel as if I’m a go-getter. If Coach needs something, he can count on me to do it and I’ll get it done.”

Even after praising Marcel especially for his defensive play against Arcadia, Hall knows where the lineman belongs on the football field playing on the next level. 

“I think he’s an offensive guard,” Hall said. “He’s a true offensive guard. He has great feet, great hand movement and a great first step. He’s gonna be a heckuva offensive for somebody on the next level.

“Of course, he’ll have to lose some weight … get in better shape and stay consistent doing that. 

Marcel agreed that the offensive trenches is the place he plays best.

“Offense is my main thing because I feel I’m more dominant on that side of the ball,” Marcel said. “But I’ll do whatever it takes. Against Arcadia, I enjoyed playing defense. I like going after the football. But most of all, I like doing whatever I need to do to help my team win.

“It’s about doing the job and knowing it’s your duty to protect the quarterback and open holes for the runners. It’s not easy. But that’s what practice is for. I feel that if I put my mind to it, I can do it — in whatever I do.”

Marcel said that as far as playing style, he most tries to emulate Dallas Cowboys offensive guard Zach Martin, who has played in six Pro Bowls and been selected to six All-Pro teams.

“He just gets after it, and that’s what I like to do,” Marcel said of Martin. “It goes back to that mindset and refusing to let anyone get in your way and stop you.”

The big man doesn’t limit himself to the gridiron. He also is a productive basketball and baseball player for the Panthers.

“I love basketball,” Marcel said. “I was used a lot last year and was in the starting lineup.”

Marcel, who said “so far” he is being recruited by Grambling State, Louisiana-Monroe and “a bunch of JUCOs,” already has career goals mapped out.

“I’d love staying at home and playing for Grambling,” said Marcel, who has a 3.85 GPA at Lincoln Prep. “I want to go to college and learn about graphic design. I want to be a film editor.”

But right now he’s only focused on his high school studies and the gridiron.

“I want to help my team go on a deep playoff run,” Marcel said. “I know that no one expects it. That only makes me want it more. We’ve made a lot of progress every year I’ve played here. I just want to keep that going and surprise some people the rest of the season and after the playoffs begin.”

Photo: Tony Valentino

Weekly events

Each Monday and Friday, the Lincoln Parish Journal will post a list of upcoming events happening in the parish. If you would like to add your event to this list, please email us at lpjnewsla@gmail.com

Monday, Sept. 27
3:30 p.m.: New Frontiers in Biomedical Research Seminar Series; Vaccines of the Past, Present, and Future (University Hall, Tech)
6 p.m.: Inside Bulldog Football Coaches Show (Dawghouse Sports Grill)
6-8 p.m.: Auditions for RCT’s “A Christmas Carol” (old Stage store)

Tuesday, Sept. 28
Noon to 6 p.m.: Grambling State University Virtual Career Fair
6 p.m.: Cedar Creek Football Coaches Show (Portico)
6 p.m.: Opening reception for The Phoebe Allen Mathys Collection (Tech, School of Design)
7 p.m.: Fall is for Fluting, featuring Nicole Chamberlin (Howard Auditorium at Tech)

Thursday, Sept. 30
10 a.m. to 11 p.m.: Piney Hills Harmony Blizzard Blitz (Dairy Queen)

Friday, Oct. 1
5 p.m. Grambling vs. Jackson State at GSU Soccer Complex
6 p.m. Louisiana Tech Volleyball vs. North Texas at the Thomas Assembly Center
7p.m. Louisiana Tech Soccer vs UTEP at Robert Mack Caruthers Field

Saturday Oct. 2
9 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Ruston Farmers Market
2 p.m. Grambling vs Alabama A&M at Eddie G. Robinson Memorial Stadium
2 p.m. Louisiana Tech Volleyball vs. North Texas at Thomas Assembly Center

Sunday Oct. 3 
1 p.m. Grambling vs. Southern Soccer at GSU Soccer Complex
5 p.m. Grambling State vs. Alcorn State Volleyball at Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center

Near accident leads to pursuit, arrest

After a Ruston Police officer was nearly struck by an inattentive driver who then attempted to flee, a brief pursuit led to the suspect’s arrest.

Officer A. Eleam was traveling eastbound on Interstate 20 about 2 a.m. Thursday morning when a blue Mazda traveling in the adjacent lane swerved over into the officer’s lane almost striking the patrol car. The officer attempted to stop the Mazda, but it continued east on I-20, increasing its speed and passing other cars on the shoulder.  Eleam clocked the vehicle on radar at 140 miles per hour in the 70 mph zone during the pursuit. 

The suspect attempted to elude officers by exiting into the eastbound rest area near Choudrant where it was blocked in by multiple 18-wheelers. Officers ordered the driver out of the car and identified him as Casey M. Cooks, 25, of Calcasieu, Louisiana. 

Cooks said he realized he nearly struck the patrol car, but he did so accidentally as he was looking at the navigation app on his cell phone. He said he did not pull over because he thought there was a warrant for his arrest, and he had a marijuana “roach” in the car.

Cooks was booked at the Lincoln Parish Detention Center for reckless operation of a vehicle, aggravated flight from an officer, passing on the shoulder and driving under suspension/revocation.  Bail was set at $32,000.

Ruston volleyball has strong showing at Bearcat Brawl

Ruston high school’s volleyball squad finished 3-2 on the weekend as they hosted the 2021 Bearcat Brawl in their hometown.

The Lady Bearcats bested Live Oak, East Ascension, and Baton Rouge while losing to Catholic High of New Iberia and Ascension Episcopal.

“I am so proud of how hard we played this weekend,” Ruston head coach Lucie Hunt said. “Everyone came focused and ready to work. Overall, this was one of the best tournaments we have hosted. We had teams that represented the entire I-10 corridor and the Shreveport/ Bossier area, as well. Each team brought a different level of competition and there were fantastic matches throughout the weekend.”

Cumulative stats for the weekend:

Mariah Hintze: 27 kills and 22 digs
Hannah Rollins: 12 kills
Mckenzie McFadden: 8 kills
Sophie Mae Smith: 13 kills and 110 assists
Kaylyn Brazzel: 32 kills
Riley Oakley: 21 kills
Jade Smith: 14 kills
Allie Richardson: 24 digs
Hannah Johnson: 31 digs
Natalie Beason: 19 digs
Lorelei Freling: 46 digs


Announcement for reaccreditation meeting




OCT. 18-19, 2021

As part of the typical accreditation process for the MA in Speech-Language Pathology and Au.D. in Audiology programs, the CAA is seeking comments in advance of its scheduled October 18-19, 2021 virtual site visit to Louisiana Tech University.

The MA SLP and Au.D. programs at Louisiana Tech University are seeking  reaccreditation by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA). The program is undergoing a reaccreditation site visit. The CAA is conducting all site visits as virtual site visits at this time in accordance with the U.S. Department of Education guidance and CAA’s emergency policy. As part of the site visit, a public meeting will be held via Zoom.

Time:  Monday, October 18, 2021 from 5:00 to 5:30 p.m.  
To be a part of this meeting, please contact Brenda Heiman at bheiman@latech.edu or 318-257-4764. 

Programs scheduled for reaccreditation site visits are responsible for soliciting public comment from students and consumers by holding a public meeting during the scheduled site visit. All persons interested in making public comment about the programs are welcome to attend the meeting. A copy of the Standards for Accreditation and/or the CAA’s policy on Public Comments may be obtained by contacting the Accreditation Office at ASHA, 2200 Research Boulevard, #310, Rockville, Maryland 20850, calling ASHA’s Action Center at 1-800-498-2071, or accessing the documents online at http://caa.asha.org.

Written comments must be submitted to CAA by October 4, 2021 to:

Accreditation Public Comment
Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA)
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
2200 Research Boulevard, #310
Rockville, MD 20850
Fax: 301-296-8570

Written comments must include the commenters’ name, address, phone number and relationship to the program. The comments will not be given directly to the School/program and the commenter’s identity will not be revealed to the School/program.

If you have any questions about CAA accreditation, email Brenda Heiman, Director, School of Communication at bheiman@latech.edu or call 318-257-4764.

Creek girls second at Wallace Martin Invite

Captain Faith Johnson finishes her final home cross country meet for the Lady Cougars on Saturday at Lincoln Parish Park.

Caroline James paced Cedar Creek’s girls cross country team to a second-place finish at the 2021 Wallace Martin Invitational Saturday morning at Lincoln Parish Park.

James recorded a PR of 19:53.84 to finish second behind only Ruston High’s Lily Garrett (18:25.43), who paced the Bearcat women to the overall team title.

Creek head coach Craig Moss said the meet is one of the biggest in the state of Louisiana with this year’s event totaling 33 varsity teams on both the boys and girls side.

“It was a special weekend to honor Wallace Martin, and all of his family who were in attendance,” said Moss. “We could not have asked for better weather. The temperature was ideal for running well Saturday morning.  Ruston won both the girls and boys meets, and I am proud of their runners and Coach Cochran and will cheering them on the rest of the season.”

In addition to James’ impressive performance for the Lady Cougars, Madison Morris (20:53.94) and Taylor Ramsey (21:12.59) each registered top 20 finishes. Julianne Ensminger (22:05.54) and Marley Jinks (22:08.24) finished 23rd and 24th with Jinks recording a PR.

Ethan McCarthy led the Cougars on Saturday, finishing 25th with a time of 17:55.89.  Hayes Bridges (18:36.78/38th), John Abram Earles (18:58.79/44th), Anderson Maxwell (19:25.50/51st) and Connor Johnson (19:31.50/52nd) all scored for the Creek boys with Earles, Maxwell and Johnson recording PRs.

“Our Cedar Creek boys and girls ran very well,” said Moss. “After the Parkway meet, I evaluated our workouts and made some changes, and we are beginning to see positive results.  We ran with more confidence and closed much better with the majority of our runners running negative splits for the second half of the race. 

“We will continue to tweak the workouts weekly so that our runners will gain the confidence and consistency that I have seen over the past two weeks.  I like what I saw this past weekend, but more importantly, I like how they represent themselves and follow the plan. I love their support and love for one another.”

Friday saw the K through 8th grade version of the Wallace Martin Invitational with hundreds of runners competing at Lincoln Parish Park.

“It was an amazing weekend hosting this meet and I was so happy to see so many K-12 racers on Friday and Saturday,” said Moss. “This amazing sport is well represented in our area and seeing all the parents and families support their runners puts a huge smile on my face.”

Traffic stop results in felony drug charges against two

A traffic stop early by the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Department netted two arrests on a variety of drug charges.

At about 3 a.m. Thursday, Sergeant Jeremy Johnson saw a vehicle on South Farmerville Street cross the yellow center line into the opposing lane. Johnson stopped the car and found Traderion Brantley, 24, of Grambling, to be the driver. Brantley told the deputy he did not have a driver’s license. The passenger identified herself as Kara Harvey, 18, of Ruston.

Deputy D. Fleming used his K-9, Thor, to walk around the exterior of the vehicle. Thor alerted to the presence of controlled substances inside the vehicle. In a search, deputies found about 28.5 grams of marijuana, a plastic bag containing 166 grams of suspected synthetic marijuana, 90 units of suspected alprazolam, 65 units of suspected tramadol, two units of suspected oxycodone and plastic baggies and digital scales commonly used in the trafficking of controlled substances.

Brantley and Harvey were arrested and booked at the Lincoln Parish Detention Center for possession with intent to distribute controlled substances: Schedule I (marijuana and synthetic marijuana), Schedule II (oxycodone), and Schedule IV (alprazolam and tramadol). The duo was also booked for possession of drug paraphernalia and Brantley received a charge of no driver’s license.

The pair’s bail was set at $50,000 each.

Notice of death

Lewis Beavers 
November 23, 1956 – September 24, 2021 
Owens Memorial Chapel Funeral Home 
Monday, Sep 27, 2021, 5:00 PM-7:00 PM 
Funeral Service: 
Owens Memorial Chapel Funeral Home 
Tuesday, Sep 28, 2021, 2:00 PM 


DEVELOPING: Eight minors summoned to court following Cedar Creek civil lawsuit

Eight minors have been summoned to appear at juvenile court.

Earlier this month, parents of a minor who formerly attended Cedar Creek School filed a civil lawsuit against faculty, administration and the parents of eight minors who also attended Cedar Creek School. The civil lawsuit claims that the minors sexually abused and bullied the plaintiff.

According to KNOE, the eight minors listed in the civil lawsuit are the ones summoned to juvenile court.

According to two sources, juvenile summons generally means that charges have been filed against a minor, and the individual in question will go to juvenile court.

More information will be disseminated as it becomes available. The Journal maintains its commitment to not print the names or identifying information of the victim or the charged juveniles in any criminal or civil case.

For further information regarding the Journal’s stance for the civil lawsuit filed Friday, Sept. 17, click HERE.

Beason’s last second field goal sends Bearcats over Bears

As the clock wound down to two seconds remaining, Ruston High School head football coach Jerrod Baugh was fully confident in his kicker.

That confidence paid great dividends as senior Brady Beason split the uprights with room to spare Friday night at James Field at Garrett Stadium from 41 yards out to best the Carencro Golden Bears by a final score of 38-35, sending the home fans into jubilation and the Bearcats to a 3-1 record on the year and their third victory in a row.

“It took everyone to win this one,” Baugh said. “Early on, it looked like an offensive battle between two good teams, and we played better in the second half.”

With the score tied at 35, the Bearcats made one final 12-play drive to the Bear 24 yard line in the final minutes of regulation. A perfect snap and a perfect hold gave Beason the setup for a Hollywood ending.

”The kids executed what they needed to do,” Baugh said. “I believed in Brady, and he earned that tonight.”

All night, the two historic programs traded scoring blows back and forth. Neither team was able to take a two-score lead for the entire night. Carencro led 14-7 after the first quarter before the Bearcats took to the halftime locker room tied at 21. The third quarter saw Ruston take its first lead of the night at the 1:25 mark with an 8-yard touchdown run by junior running back Dyson Fields, who ended the night with 227 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Junior Jaden Osborne added 185 yards on the ground with two rushing scores, along with a touchdown strike through the air to Fields for a 33 yard score.

Senior linebacker Brilun Elmore led the Bearcat defense with nine tackles and one sack on the night.

“This is what we talked about all week,” Baugh said. “We needed to win first downs and make adjustments on the line defensively. It ended up working out for us. Our students showed up and cheered their hearts out; our kids noticed it.”

Ruston returns to action Friday, Oct. 1, to take on another state champion from last season in the St. Thomas More Cougars. It will be the final non-district game for the Bearcats before they begin District 2-5A play on Friday, Oct. 8

The will be broadcast live on KXKZ 107.5 FM with the pregame show starting at 6 p.m. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

PHOTO CREDIT: Reggie McLeroy


Defense leads Bulldogs to C-USA Win

Don’t talk to Skip Holtz about ugly wins.

With the way the Bulldogs season has started with two last second heartbreaking losses, Holtz will take the W anyway he can get it.

And on Saturday night at Joe Aillet Stadium, the Bulldogs – playing without starting QB Austin Kendall who was out for medical reasons – built a 24-0 lead early in the second quarter and held on for a 24-17 win over North Texas in the Conference USA opener.

“Right now, it’s a win,” said Holtz. “I will take it. Now tomorrow when I’m watching film, I will probably be a little tougher on a lot of things. But right now I’m proud of our guys and happy with the win.”

Despite playing without Kendall, the Bulldogs (2-2, 1-0 C-USA) looked like world beaters early. Aaron Allen led Tech to TD drives on its first two possessions of the game.

Allen was efficient early – despite missing a couple of deep balls to open receivers – and led Tech down the field before Marcus Williams capped both drives with TD runs. Williams scored from two yards out on the opening possession and then found a seam and scored from 42-yards away on the second possession.

Tech led 14-0.

Freshman JD Head then got his turn. Head went 4-for-4 on his first opportunity and found Sam Emilus for a 34-yard strike and a 21-0 Bulldog lead early in the second.

Smoke Harris then ignited the Tech faithful with a 67-yard punt return, giving the Bulldogs a first and goal at the NT 2-yard line. Although the Bulldogs weren’t able to find the end zone, Jacob Barnes connected on a 21-yard FG and the lead was 24-0 with 10 minutes to play in the second.

Little did Tech fans know it would be the final points of the night for the Bulldogs.

“Offensively, it was ugly at times, but then other times it looked great,” said Holtz. “We hit some big plays early, scoring 24 points.  The second half offensively, we really struggled.  Fortunately, we made enough plays to hang on and get a conference win.

“When you look at the season we have been through, we needed this one. I am really proud of the way we came out.  We talked about how we are learning a lot about our football team. This one was an absolute must and we found a way to get the win.”

While the Tech offense disappeared for most of the final 40 minutes, the Bulldog defense stood tall. Although North Texas scored 17 points over the final 31 minutes of the game, Tech got stops when it mattered, including a fourth down stop with just over a minute to play in a one-score game.

North Texas was 0-for-6 on fourth downs and managed just 333 yards despite running 86 offensive plays.

“This is the same offense that had 550 against SMU two weeks ago,” said Holtz. “I thought the defense played really well. I thought they showed up tonight, on a night we needed them especially.”

Tech returns to action Saturday when it travels to Raleigh to face North Carolina State, who defeated No. 9 Clemson in overtime.

Photo: Darrell James