Parish prep sports plan to play on despite COVID surge

By T. Scott Boatright

A day after the Louisiana Department of Health reported a record 9,378 new COVID cases, Gov. John Bel Edwards — joined during a virtual press conference by a group of health care professionals — urged all Louisiana school districts to implement mask mandates.

The governor and other officials spoke about new outbreaks related to extracurricular activities and urged schools to suspend sports, club, and other non-academic activities.

Edwards did not announce a mask mandate, but said one could be reinstated if functions at state hospitals start to be affected by the surge.

Thursday’s new record of 9,378 new cases reported overnight shattered the previous record of 7,548 cases reported on Aug. 13 as Louisiana faced a surge in Delta variant COVID cases.

Lincoln Parish Schools Superintendent Ricky Durrett said that he won’t be issuing a mask mandate at this point but will instead leave that decision to students and their parents.

“We’re just going to highly recommend everybody wear masks, but we’re not going to issue a mandate right now,” Durrett said. “We highly recommend people wear one while this new strain is going around, but it will still be a parent’s choice. Those who want to and feel better with it will have their children wear masks, and some will probably not.

“I do kind of expect coming back (from Christmas break) we’ll have more that want to wear masks, and will do that because of the current surge.”

Ruston High School Principal Dan Gressett said right now plans are for RHS to keep moving forward when the Christmas break ends and students return to classes next week, but that a close eye will be kept on the ongoing situation surrounding the surge in reported cases of the virus.

“Right now we are continuing with all athletics,” Gressett said. “We will handle each sport on a case by case basis. If we see that there’s a need to shut down a sport for a week or so, we will. The safety of our students and staff remains at the forefront, and we will continue to monitor the situation.”

Durrett echoed Gressett’s feelings about athletics right now.

“We’ll deal with it sport-by-sport, and if we have a spike in a sport we’ll shut that program down for a week or two just as we’ve done before,” Durrett said. “We’ll just take it as it comes and respond if and when we need to.”

Lincoln Preparatory School Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Gordan Ford said no decision has been made about how his school will respond to the governor’s request as of Thursday night.

“I’m aware of what the governor and officials said, but we have not yet had a chance to meet and talk about it,” Ford said. “We’ll continue to keep a close eye on things and will respond accordingly at the proper time.”

Cedar Creek Director of Athletics and head football coach Matt Middleton said the Cougars plan on continuing athletic activities next week.

“It’s unfortunate where we are with the pandemic,” Middleton said. “I was hoping we were turning the corner. Obviously we want our kids to continue to play. These kids deserve the right. We know that we can’t control what people do or who they are around when they aren’t at school. But to think that shutting down sports or other extracurricular things is going to stop this is a falsehood. We are around kids every single day in ‘school’ business, and they won’t stopping congregating outside of school. It hasn’t stopped and it won’t stop, but to try and shut down sports or blame it on that is a travesty.”

During his press conference Edwards said he will not yet restrict gathering sizes for events like the Saturday’s Sugar Bowl in New Orleans Saturday, but he did urge state residents to follow his plans of only hosting intimate family for today’s and tomorrow’s New Year’s celebrations. 


GSU’s Robinson arrested by the LPSO

From Staff Reports

Grambling State guard Chanse Emil Robinson is currently in the Lincoln Parish Detention Center after being arrested at 1:37 p.m. Wednesday by the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office.

The affidavit obtained from the Lincoln Parish Detention Center on Thursday states “Bench Warrant Failure to Appear.”

Robinson, who transferred to Grambling State after originally signing at the University of Buffalo following a decorated prep career at Lincoln Prep, was awaiting a Jan. 11, 2022, hearing on the original charges stemming from allegations in December of 2020.

Robinson was originally arrested on Dec. 19, 2020, and charged with three felony counts of second-degree kidnapping and one felony count of aggravated assault upon a dating partner.

With the Jan. 11 hearing only weeks away, Robinson – a current member of the Tigers men’s basketball team – was practicing with the team and had not played in a game. However, following the publicity of Robinson seeing his first action of the season in Grambling State’s Dec. 21 loss at TCU in Ft. Worth, Robinson was arrested.

Attempts to discover specifics on if Robinson violated restrictions of his original arrest by leaving the state for the TCU game have been unsuccessful so far.

The LPJ also made attempts to contact officials at Grambling State for comment and clarification on the situation, but at press time those calls were not returned.

The Grambling State campus has been the site of a number of unrelated shootings over the past few months with a number of students being victims in these shootings.

Not only did the decision by Grambling State administrators and coaches to allow Robinson to play have resulted in plenty of questions on social media and in the media over the past few days, but it appears to have somehow led to his most recent incarceration.

The Grambling student-athlete handbook only addresses criminal convictions, and not pending cases leaving this in the hands of the school administration. The University Student Code of Conduct only addresses actions committed by individuals during their time as a GSU student. There is no mention of actions committed prior to becoming a Grambling student.

Robinson signed with the University of Buffalo and began his freshman season in the fall of 2020 before leaving the program on Dec. 6, 2020 – 13 days before he was arrested on the original charges in Ruston.

The three-star point guard and two-time Class 1A all-state selection while at Lincoln Prep was the fourth-ranked point guard in Louisiana for the class of 2020.


Dusty McGehee: Thank You from The Camp

Currently, I’m in the middle of nowhere in Yazoo County Mississippi with my two boys.  It’s a 12×32 little tin can of a camp; it’s a glorified metal building equipped with a single bedroom, living area (with futon and couch), tiny kitchen, and the smallest bathroom any of you readers have ever seen.  It’s equipped with a window unit for the hot days, and I drilled a hole through the floor and have a 2-burner propane heater for the cold ones.  My kids think it’s a mansion, but I just call it heaven.

We are on a mission out here.  There is some unfinished business between a big buck and us.  While most of you want a great story, I hate to disappoint you.  I’m a tad busy and will be lucky with these kids running around and my phone propped up in the window to try and get a hotspot signal for this to even get out to you.  Just know the buck is big.  Real big.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of you.  The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and to tell you the truth, a bit surprising.  I’m still not even sure how I am writing these things.  I still question why anyone asked me to write articles for the LPJ, but it’s been an honor.  I haven’t written a word since my 300 level Technical Writing English class at Louisiana Tech, but someone out there thought this redneck would be a good fit.

When I was asked to do this, I was a bit shocked.  I hesitated for a while and almost decided to opt out.  I have a wife, three kids and a full-time job.  The free time I do have, I didn’t want to sacrifice for writing articles but heck I’m always up for a challenge.  I figured I would write one and see how it went.  If I didn’t like it, I could quit, and nobody would even bat an eye.

Now it has snowballed into something I never thought possible.  While I’m relatively new to this, I’ve heard from many of you on “you won’t ever be able to top this story”.  For my wife, it’s the story of Ridge and his first deer.  Anders’ favorite is about Stoney and his dog Maggie tracking deer.  Ridge didn’t know I was doing this and informed me we never even read “his story” to him … whoops.  And Mae, well she couldn’t give a rip.  For many of you out there, it’s my most recent “The Dougie Buck”.

I don’t necessarily have a favorite to this point.  To be honest, when I hit send, I think all my stories stink.  Therefore, I depend on you, the reader, to give me feedback.  Sure, it’s great to hear the positive things and I appreciate it, but I’m just as concerned with hearing the negative feedback you may have.  If you don’t think my article is good, let me know why and what you’d like to read about.  Constructive criticism is just as important, if not more, than the positive.

So, here’s to the New Year!  I hope 2022 is amazing for each and every one of you.  I’m racking my brain on how I’m going to come up with 52 stories for next year.  Like I said, I’m up for a challenge.  Thank you all, once again, for making me feel like I’m a half decent writer.  I hope I can entertain you for many more weeks and maybe years.  Your feedback is what keeps me going so keep it coming.  Inevitably, I’m going to write a dud. Maybe this is my first.  Just let me know.

Happy New Year!

______________________________________________________________

Dusty McGehee is a native of Downsville and a 2006 graduate of Louisiana Tech University with a bachelors in wildlife conservation. He is currently employed by WestRock and serves as an environmental engineer at the Hodge Mill. Dusty is an avid hunter and crappie fisherman, fishing crappie tournaments with his son when he is not in the woods. He and his wife Rachel have three young outdoorsmen/women: Anders (9), Ridge (7) and Mae (5). If you have a story idea or question about the great outdoors, you can reach Dusty at dusty.mcgehee@westrock.com.


High speed pursuit nets one arrest

A Bastrop man is in the Lincoln Parish Detention Center after reportedly fleeing a state trooper on Interstate 20 at speeds topping 130 miles per hour.

At about 8:30 a.m. Monday, Louisiana State Trooper James Pelley was parked in the median at milepost 78 in Lincoln Parish when he clocked a silver Lexus westbound at 86mph.

The trooper activated his lights and siren, but the driver continued west on I-20. At about the 75 milepost, the driver threw two objects out his window and sped up to 100mph.

As the driver entered Bienville Parish, the vehicle’s speed was about 130mph. The Bienville Parish Sheriff’s Department joined the pursuit. At about milepost 56, the driver attempted to pass a vehicle by traveling in the median. After entering the median, the driver lost control, crossed both westbound lanes, and crashed on the north shoulder of I-20.

The driver, identified as JarJar L. Mays, 42, of Bastrop, was taken into custody. He told officers he was “looking for a safe place to pull over.” He also admitted not having a driver’s license. 

Mays was booked into the Bienville Parish jail and then transferred back to Lincoln Parish to be booked for speeding, aggravated flight from an officer, littering, and no driver’s license. He is being held in lieu of $51,500 bail.


Ruston woman arrested for Medicaid fraud, other charges  

A Ruston woman wanted by the Office of the Louisiana Attorney General has been arrested. 

Cortrina Hood Price, 47, of Ruston, was taken into custody Monday by Lincoln Parish Narcotics Enforcement Team officers for multiple charges including five counts Medicaid fraud, one count money laundering, and one count racketeering. 

On Tuesday, Price was also booked on two warrants from Union Parish for failure to appear in court on charges of violating bottle club operating hours and keeping a disorderly place.

She is no longer in custody at the Lincoln Parish Detention Center. She has been transferred to the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison. Bail has been set by the 19th Judicial Court on the Medicaid fraud charge at $3,000. Bail has not been set on the money laundering and racketeering charges.


‘Potlikker’ key to the new year

By Wesley Harris

He called me “potlikker.”

I was not quite eight when my paternal grandfather died. I don’t have many memories of him but the ones I have are vivid. When I think of the traditional foods we eat to celebrate the coming of a new year, I remember that nickname.

He called me potlikker, a countryfied sobriquet for pot liquor. I heard it as “pot licker.”  Like licking the spoon when my mother made a cake. Or the whole bowl. But I never licked a pot, so what I recognized as a term of endearment confused me.

I cannot recall when I discovered “potlikker” was the delicate, savory juice left in the bottom of the pot after cooking greens. I remember Grandaddy holding forth a pot of turnip greens at the dinner table and asking if I wanted more pot liquor. I declined, unsure what he meant. 

Most likely, a clear explanation of the term came from my maternal grandmother offering some more pot liquor for the cornbread she served at every meal.

My memories of potlikker come to mind because New Year’s Day approaches and the liquid Huey Long said could feed the nation should be an integral part of the celebration of the coming year.

For those who have no idea what I’m referring to, pot liquor (or potlikker or pot likker) is the liquid left behind after cooking greens like collards, mustard, and turnip greens or beans. Seasoned properly, a delicious liquid is created suitable for sopping your cornbread in.

According to popular folklore, eating certain foods on New Year’s Day guarantees good luck throughout the year. And when you think about it, they all revolve around potlikker.

Peas and beans symbolize coins or wealth. Southerners choose the traditional black-eyed peas seasoned with pork, but lentils or beans work, too. While not as delicate as potlikker from greens, the liquid from the peas is still great with cornbread. When you eat peas, don’t dish them onto your plate with a slotted spoon. Use a solid spoon to get plenty of potlikker to sop up with the cornbread.

Greens represent cash money. Green, leafy vegetables ensure financial fortunes for the coming year. Southern favorites include turnip greens, mustard, collards or boiled cabbage. Whatever green you choose, you must flavor it with chunks of pork and the right combination of salt and pepper to achieve proper potlikker.

Pork is considered a sign of prosperity in some cultures because pigs root forward. Many Southern New Year’s Day dishes contain pork which was usually more plentiful among households in my grandparent’s day than any other meat. Potlikker without pork is not nearly as tasty.

Cornbread might symbolize gold with corn kernels representing coins. Cornbread provides an essential complement to black-eyed peas and greens, so incorporating all three into your first 2022 meal can triple your luck. And whether you are a “dunker” or a “crumbler,” cornbread is the preferred medium for transferring potlikker to the mouth.

In his 1933 autobiography, Every Man a King, Louisiana Governor Huey Long defined “potlikker.” As a U.S. Senator, Long described potlikker during a lengthy filibuster speech. 

He called potlikker “the juice that remains in a pot after greens or other vegetables are boiled with proper seasoning. The best seasoning is a piece of salt fat pork, commonly referred to as ‘dry salt meat’ or ‘side meat.’ If a pot be partly filled with well-cleaned turnip greens and turnips (which should be cut up), with a half-pound piece of the salt pork and then with water and boiled until the greens and turnips are cooked reasonably tender, then the juice remaining in the pot is the delicious, invigorating, soul-and-body sustaining potlikker … which should be taken as any other soup and the greens eaten as any other food.

“Corn pone is made simply of meal, mixed with a little salt and water, made into a pattie and baked until it is hard. 

“It has always been the custom to eat corn pone with potlikker. Most people crumble the corn pone into the potlikker. The blend is an even tasting food. 

“But, with the progress of education, the coming of “style,” and the change of the times, I concluded that refinement necessitated that corn pone be “dunked” in the potlikker, rather than crumbled in the old-fashioned way. So I suggested that those sipping of potlikker should hold the corn pone in the left hand and the spoon in the right, sip of the soup one time, then dip the corn pone in the potlikker and bite the end of the bread. My experience showed this to be an improvement over the crumbling.”

Long advocated vegetable gardens in the rural South and the consumption of potlikker to improve health. 

Food writer John T. Edge, who wrote his graduate school thesis on potlikker, explains the broth “is more than the sum of the juices at the bottom of a pot of greens. It may be one of the more plebeian of Southern culinary creations, but never let it be said that potlikker is without import. Enshrined early in the pantheon of Southern folk belief, potlikker was prescribed by doctors and conjurers alike for ailments as varied as the croup and colic, rabies and fatigue. Though claims of its curative qualities may be farfetched, potlikker is indeed packed with nutrients, for, during the cooking process, vitamins and minerals leech out of the greens, leaving the collards, turnips, or mustards comparatively bereft of nutrients while the vitamins A, B, and C as well as potassium suffuse the potlikker.” 

Potlikker is a Southern delicacy with a rich history. My grandaddy obviously loved it. I wish I had known back then at age eight what that nickname truly meant.


Furry friends and fireworks: Helping distressed canines cope

By T. Scott Boatright

Many Lincoln Parish residents love celebrating the New Year with fireworks, especially at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve.

But furry family members don’t always like, or even understand, what all the “flash and bang” is about, and could even become stressed or dismayed by what is happening around them this time of year.

Sharon St. Andre, Puppy Pre-School Coordinator and Trainer at Ruston’s Sexton Animal Clinic, said that one way to keep dogs calm while fireworks are going off around them outside is to use a pet tranquilizer.

“One thing to do in severe cases is go to your vet and have him prescribe something for the dog to kind of help take the edge off,” St. Andre said.

St. Andre said that creating a safe haven, preferably in a room without windows, for a dog to stay in while fireworks are being shot is probably a better option for many dogs.

“Put your dog in a quiet room that can block out a lot of outdoor noise by keeping the windows shut,” St. Andre said. “Make the room extra inviting by doing things like giving the dog treats, their favorite blanket or bed, and toys. You could even give them a brand new toy with a squeaker to help distract them from the sounds of fireworks they might find scary.

“Turning up the television or playing music to drown out the noise from the fireworks could be helpful, too.”

St. Andre added that if the dog sleeps in a kennel or crate of some kind, then that is considered a safe place they might feel more comfortable in.

But first and foremost, said St. Andre, is for dog owners to make sure they don’t accidentally cause the stress and fear animals might feel. 

Many animals pick up on our non-verbal body language. If an owner is scared and stressed out, their dog is likely to sense this right away. 

“The best thing you can do for your dog in these cases is kind of step out of their way and let them learn how to deal and cope with the stress on their own,” St. Andre said. “In lots of dogs’ cases with fireworks and the loud booms and bangs, the rumbling and all of that causes some anxiety but especially in a young dog.

“If you foster that fear and scoop them up and tell them, ‘It’s going to be OK’ and give in to that with them, it kind of locks in that mindset with them. And that behavior will just continue and grow.”

St. Andre said another important thing to consider is keeping your dog inside for the night if at all possible, even after you think the fireworks have ended.

“If it’s a fearful dog, I would not let them out even after the owner is done popping fireworks,” St. Andre said. “Because you don’t know what else might go off and cause them to run. That’s one of those nights they probably need to be inside unless they’re used to fireworks.”


Bulldogs cruise; Techsters falter

Courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications

 

Bulldogs 79, Marshall 56

Louisiana Tech opened up Conference USA play in impressive fashion, defeating Marshall by a final score of 79-56 inside the Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court.

It was arguably the best defensive performance by LA Tech (10-3, 1-0 C-USA) this season, holding an up-tempo, high-powered Marshall (7-7, 0-1 C-USA) team to a season-low in points and just 29.4 percent shooting.

“I thought it was a total team effort,” said Tech head coach Eric Konkol. “That is the type of response you want when you have some adversity.  It was an opportunity for somebody to step up and I thought Kenny Hunter did a remarkable job.  He provided a lot of energy and really ignited our team. 

“Once we got some stops, we were able to get in transition.  I thought Cobe Williams, Amorie Archibald, Keaston Willis, their floor game of taking care of the basketball and finding good looks for our team really got us going to build that lead.”

The Herd had the upper-hand though early in the game, scoring 10 straight points to build an early 10-2 lead.  And with that eight-point lead just three minutes into the nationally-televised contest and the Bulldogs leading scorer Kenneth Lofton, Jr. forced to sit due to two fouls, things were looking up for the visiting team.

However, the rest of the team took their game to another level and then some.  Trailing 16-9, the Bulldogs went on a 17-0 run.  The lead ultimately grew to 42-27 at the midway point behind strong play from Cobe Williams (career-high 22 points), Keaston Willis (20 points) and Kenny Hunter (seven points and a career-high 12 rebounds).

Knowing the Herd can score in bunches, Willis came out on fire in the second half by hitting four three-pointers in less than five minutes to put the game away for the Bulldogs who won their 16th straight home game.

Tech hosts WKU Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Thomas Assembly Center.  

Marshall 62, Lady Techsters 44

HUNTINGTON, W.V. – The Lady Techsters fell to Marshall, 62-44, despite a game-high 21 points by Keiunna Walker Thursday night in the conference opener inside the Cam Henderson Center.

The Lady Techsters fall to 8-4 on the year and 0-1 in conference play, while Marshall improves to 6-4 overall and 1-0 in the conference.

After surrendering the first points of the game to the Thundering Herd, the Lady Techsters used an 8-0 run to take an early 8-2 lead just four minutes into the game. Sophomore Anna Larr Roberson sparked the surge with a layup, her 600th point of her career, before Walker converted a three-point play and nailed a three-pointer from the wing.

A layup by freshman Kate Thompson and a pair of free throws by Walker pushed Tech’s lead out to seven at 14-7 moments later, but a three by Marshall’s CC Mays cut the Lady Techsters advantage down to 14-10. Tech led 16-10 after the opening frame as sophomore Robyn Lee connected on a jumper from the short corner.

Marshall turned their defense up a notch in the second quarter, forcing six Tech turnovers leading to 15 points. The Thundering Herd used a 9-0 run to take a 19-16 lead with 7:00 left in the half. The Lady Techsters battled back-and-forth with Marshall through the remainder of the period before a three and a layup by Marshall’s Savannah Wheeler put the Thundering Herd up 32-24 at the break.

Marshall extended their lead out to as much as 16 at 44-28 in the third quarter, behind a 10-0 surge that spanned two minutes of action. Sophomore Salma Bates connected from long range, cutting the deficit to 44-31 entering the fourth quarter.

A 7-2 run by the Lady Techsters, featuring five points from Walker, cut Marshall’s lead down to eight at 46-38 with 7:58 left in the game. The Thundering Herd answered, pushing their lead back out to 15 at 55-40 with 2:23 remaining. Forced to foul, Marshall knocked down four free throw and a three to claim the victory 62-44.

Walker extended her streak of games in double figures to 13, one of only four players in C-USA to score in double figures every game this season.

Tech fell to 6-5 all-time against Marshall with eight of the 11 games coming in Huntington.

The Lady Techsters return to the court on Saturday when they open the new year at Western Kentucky. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green.


Man arrested after chase

A Honduran man living in Ruston was arrested Wednesday night after a brief pursuit by a Lincoln Parish deputy.

At about 11:45 p.m. Wednesday, Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Deputy S. Carr clocked a vehicle at 75 miles per hour in a 45mph zone on Louisiana Highway 33 near the Ruston city limits.

Carr activated his lights and siren, but the vehicle did not stop, turning on Frazier Road and then into the Tall Timbers Mobile Home Park. Once the vehicle stopped, Carr saw the driver jump into the back seat with other passengers.

The driver, 31-year-old William Martinez, was arrested. Through a translator, Martinez admitted he did not have a driver’s license and that he was from Honduras and in the U.S. illegally.

Martinez was booked for speeding, flight from an officer, no driver’s license, and possession of alcoholic beverages in a motor vehicle. Bail was set at $6,000.


Ponderings by Doug

How did you do with your 2021 New Year’s Resolutions? My resolutions are shipwrecked by the time I ask the philosophical question. “Do resolutions begin on January 1 or January 2? Could I delay my resolutions until after football season?” I am like many of you; resolutions are made and not kept. My unofficial preacher survey reveals that only ¼ of us even think about resolutions. So, this year, I’m introducing a new word into my spiritual vocabulary, repent. Repentance will replace resolutions.

The first time Jesus appears, in the first gospel, the first instruction He gives is “Repent.”

From then on, it’s His most consistent message. In all times and every situation, His advice is to repent. Not just the scribes and Pharisees, not just the powerful — he tells even the poor and oppressed that repentance is the key to eternal life. …

Talk of repentance makes modern-day Christians nervous. We are embarrassed by the stereotype of old-fashioned preachers hammering on sin and making people feel guilty. We rush to assert that Jesus isn’t really like that, He came out of love, He wants to help us. He knows us deep inside and feels our every pain, and His healing love sets us free.

This is one of those truths that runs out of gas halfway home. The question is, what do we need to be healed of? Subjectively, we think we need sympathy and comfort, because our felt experience is of loneliness and unease. Objectively, our hearts are eaten through with rottenness. A hug and a smile aren’t enough. …

Repentance is the doorway to the spiritual life, the only way to begin. It is also the path itself, the only way to continue. Anything else is foolishness and self-delusion. Only repentance is both brutely-honest enough, and joyous enough, to bring us all the way home.

This is what I’m pondering for 2022. And you?


The Year in Review — 2021 at Louisiana Tech 

The Dec. 22 episode of Beyond 1984 is our “Year in Review” special, a highlight of some of the many things the Louisiana Tech Family has celebrated, weathered, and accomplished. Here are just a few of Tech’s top stories from a challenging but rewarding 2021 that was filled with success stories. 

Rankings continue to recognize Tech excellence 

U.S. News & World Report again ranked Tech as a Top Tier National University and second among public universities in Louisiana in its 2022 Best Colleges list. Tech’s ranking of 140 moved the University up 30 spots from last year. Rankings are calculated by reviews from students and alumni, along with analysis of academic, admissions, financial, and student life data from the U.S. Department of Education. 

Forever Loyal 

The year started off with a financial bang as the Forever Loyal campaign was completed. The goal was $125 million, which was met within a year of the campaign’s opening — and the final amount donated was $171 million. 

For the third year in a row, alumni, friends, students, and staff donated more than $1 million on Tech’s annual Giving Day, proof that donors continue to support the vision for the University’s future. This is despite the on-going challenges of the tornado two years ago and the pandemic. Faculty and staff continue to invest in themselves as giving from those two groups is at an all-time high, an encouragement to those now off-campus to remain forever loyal. 

Financial Support Helps Build Tech’s 21st Century Campus 

The new student housing on Tech Drive is ongoing and more than just a place to study and sleep. Living spaces have been created so the Tech Family can share community, intramural, study, dining, and recreational areas. 

The gateways to the University are being improved, but there’s also an ongoing re-invention of the campus interior, illustrated by more accessible walkways, more Noble Trees, lots of breathable green space, and the biggest (and newest) lighted art in Lincoln Parish, Aspire, a sculpture designed to evoke the power and inclusivity of higher education. 

A new complex to house LTRI — the Louisiana Tech Research Institute — is nearing completion in Bossier City at the Cyber Park in Bossier City. LTRI’s mission is to provide preeminent interdisciplinary research and integrated education capability to government and industry sponsors to solve complex emerging problems facing our nation. The University is also preparing to begin construction on Tech Pointe II in the Enterprise Campus in the near future. 

21st Century Campus Athletic Facilities 

One thing the University did with its generated funds was plan and build J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park at the Origin Bank Baseball Complex and both Dr. Billy Bundrick Field and Robert Mack Caruthers Field at the Origin Bank Softball and Soccer Complex Soccer on the north end of campus along Tech Drive. The Diamond Dogs ignited Ruston in late May and early June by hosting both the Conference USA Tournament and the city’s first ever NCAA Ruston Regional, one of the most dramatic and memorable two weeks of fun in a packed ballpark in Tech’s rich athletic history. 

Earlier in the year, the Dunkin’ Dogs finished strong with a buzzer-beater victory over Colorado State to finish third in the NIT. Then in the summertime, Bulldog Kenneth Lofton Jr. and Team USA won gold in Latvia in the 2021 FIBA World Cup; in the finals, Junior scored a team-high 16 points to go along with seven rebounds, two assists, and one steal to help Team USA complete an 83-81 come-from-behind victory over France. 

Grant-sponsored research 

A picture of Tech’s culture of working together, 2021 was another year of successful collaborative interdisciplinary research that brought in lots of grant dollars to the University. 

The Newman Lab at Tech, Grambling State, and LSU Health Shreveport (LSUHS) — fueled by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation — teamed with local organizations like GSU’s Foster Johnson Health Center, TechCare, and The Health Hut to provide the opportunity for high quality testing and viral genome sequencing for minority and marginalized communities. Through these collaborative efforts between local researchers and health care providers, along with community participation and engagement, progress is being made in gathering data that allows scientists to better understand how COVID-19 and variants might impact public health. 

Dr. Julie Rutledge is another boots-on-the-ground example of how research on the Tech campus impacts health and wellness and improves equity for health outcomes in our area. Rutledge, Associate Professor in Human Ecology, is the director of the Education and Research in Children’s Health (ENRICH) Center, a program that educates young students, especially those in low income areas, on healthy eating so that the children can positively impact the way their families eat. 

How do we make materials stronger? To research the answer, Tech will receive $3.517 million of a five-year, $20 million award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish the Louisiana Materials Design Alliance (LAMDA) and transform research and education in advanced manufacturing and materials throughout the State. Besides Tech, LSU, Southern University, Tulane University, and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette are involved in the project. 

Not only does research at the University break down borders and spread nationwide and worldwide, it also reaches into space. Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Dr. Gergana Nestorova has helped develop a one-step gene sampling tool that integrates with the existing Cepheid PCR instrument on the International Space Station to provide a faster and more efficient method for genetic screening of biological specimens. In other words, Tech is helping the human race to understand how to grow plants in space. 

More opportunities for student engagement 

Established through the generosity of alumni, the student-managed investment fund is managed by undergraduate students and involves “real money.” Thanks goodness because the fund not only gives finance students hands-on experience, but also has seen annual gains of 37 percent through the pandemic. 

Besides increasing the number of leadership and service organizations, the University has created the Career Closet, a collaborative initiative between the Career Center, Fashion Merchandising and Retail Studies, the School of Human Ecology, the College of Applied and Natural Sciences, the College of Business, and the College of Engineering and Sciences with the goal of providing current students who are preparing for their careers with knowledge of appropriate professional dress and access to professional dress at no monetary charge. 

Many Tech students have internship opportunities, but this is a new one. Shelby Gifford is 2021 graduate of the School of Design who served a summer internship with Chip and Joanna Gaines at Magnolia in Waco, Texas. The Gaineses are stars of the “Fixer Upper” TV show. 

There’s almost always something new on campus 

Louisiana Tech students in all areas of the health sciences began benefitting from yet another unparalleled, collaborative educational experience in the fall with the opening of the Justin and Jeanette Hinckley Virtual Anatomy Lab in Carson-Taylor Hall. The heart of the lab is the Anatomage Table, the most technologically advanced 3D anatomy visualization and virtual dissection tool for anatomy and physiology education yet created. It works on an operating table form and combines radiology software and clinical content to offer students opportunities to learn at every level, from dissection to studying the body at a single-cell level. The table contains digitized versions of actual humans who donated their bodies to science. 

Tech also began a Student News Bureau, a partnership between the Office of University Communications (UC) and the School of Communication that has become an experiential learning opportunity for students interested in careers in journalism, public relations, or communication. Through producing stories for the bureau, students who previously produced strong work in their classes will now have opportunities for having their work be visible in print, audio, and TV outlets. 

Now, onward — together — to making the dreams of 2022 come true. 


Weekend 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

Saturday, Jan. 1
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Grit and Grace trade days 
1 p.m.: Louisiana Tech Men’s Basketball vs. WKU (Thomas Assembly Center)

Monday, Jan. 3
5:30 p.m.: Ruston City Council meeting 
5:30 p.m.: Grambling Women’s Basketball vs. Prairie View A&M
7:30 p.m.: Grambling Men’s Basketball vs. Prairie View A&M


Notice of death — Dec. 30, 2021

Lillie Mae Jackson 
March 6, 1940 – Dec. 20, 2021 
Visitation: Friday, Jan. 7, 2022, 3-5 p.m., King’s Funeral Home, 1511 W. California Avenue, Ruston 
Funeral service: 2 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, King’s Funeral Home, 1511 W. California Avenue, Ruston 
Burial: Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, Mt. Calvary Cemetery, Arcadia 


Murder suspect’s bail set

Bail has been set for Jatavious Carroll who was arrested Tuesday in connection with the first of two shootings on the Grambling State campus during last fall’s homecoming festivities.

Bail was set at $1,300,000.

Carroll was arrested at a Delhi residence Tuesday by Louisiana State Police with the assistance of other agencies. He was transferred from Richland Parish to the Lincoln Parish Detention Center Wednesday.

Warrants had been issued for Carroll, also known as “Rabbit,” in connection with the October 13 shooting on the GSU campus that injured a 16-year-old juvenile and led to the death of 19-year-old Damarius Murphy, both of Rayville. 

The warrants allege Carroll committed one count of second degree murder, one count of attempted second degree murder, and one count of possessing a firearm/weapon on school property.