Riley steps down from Cedar Creek Board of Directors; Napper named new President

Cedar Creek’s Board of Directors sent out an email Friday afternoon to parents of school students to inform them that Paul Riley has stepped down from the school’s Board of Directors “in order to devote more time to business and personal matters.

“We are grateful for Paul’s service over the past years. We are pleased that Paul and his family will continue to be integral parts of the Cedar Creek Community,” the email read.

With Riley’s departure, Board member Lomax Napper has been selected as President by a unanimous vote of the Board today.

Napper grew up in Ruston and is a 1996 graduate of Cedar Creek High School. He earned his MBA from Louisiana Tech in 2001 and his MA in Education in 2002.

He and his family have strong Ruston ties to both Cedar Creek and Louisiana Tech University, including Napper’s role within the Marbury Companies.

Cedar Creek has seen quite the turnover in the past few months with the retirement of head of school Andy Yepson in October, the departure of Athletics Director and head football coach Matt Middleton earlier this month and today’s announcement of the departure of Riley as head of the Board.

 

 


Man shot during confrontation

A Ruston man was shot in the arm when he was confronted by another man at the victim’s residence Wednesday.

Deputies of the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Department responded to the Peachland Mobile Home Park off U.S. 80 west of Ruston to investigate the shooting. Ladarious Buggs told deputies he was confronted by Johnny Brewster in front of his home. Buggs said Brewster produced a firearm and shot twice, one round striking him in the arm.

As deputies responded to the scene, Brewster, 40, of Mesquite, Texas, and a female walked into the sheriff’s office. Under questioning by investigators, Brewster said he went to the residence to speak to Buggs about a personal matter involving the female. Brewster stated when he arrived, Buggs came toward him with his hand in his pocket. He told Buggs to stop but Buggs continued to advance toward him. Brewster said he fired twice toward the ground to make Buggs stop. He added he had no intention of killing Buggs.

Brewster was arrested for aggravated battery and transported to the Lincoln Parish Detention and booked. 

Bail had not been set as of Thursday afternoon.


Creek coaching search: Who’s Next?

Who’s next?

That’s the question everyone associated with the Cedar Creek football program is asking.

Who will be the Cougars next head coach following the departure of Matt Middleton after one season with the program?

Crickets.

Not much news coming out of the Creek camp these days. Lips are sealed.

As they should be during this type of process.

However, as the Lincoln Parish Journal looks around the area and the Creek family – directly and indirectly – a few names come to mind.

Keep in mind, this is a speculation piece. Some of these names may be interested in the job. Some may not.

Here are five names the LPJ feels are worth mentioning when looking to the future of the program:

Dan Childress – the son of former Ruston High legendary coach Jimmy “Chick” Childress has Creek ties after serving as the head coach in 1995 after serving as an assistant for a year or two. Another plus is Childress’ wife Mary Bell is one of the top school administrators in the south.  

Mark Ware – the current Cougars defensive coordinator is one of the best in the business in the state of Louisiana. He would be the most obvious choice from the current staff.

Damian Herron – a former assistant coach at Cedar Creek, he is an assistant coach at Red River High School.

Steven Ensminger – the former West Monroe High School and Louisiana Tech quarterback is currently the quarterback coach at Ruston High School.

Josh Willeford – another former assistant coach at Cedar Creek High School is currently an assistant coach at Parkers Chapel High School in El Dorado, Arkansas.

With a talented corps for the Cougars returning in 2022, the next head coach will inherit a team that is capable of making a run in Division IV.

However, as we mentioned in Thursday’s LPJ column, some challenges exist when trying to find the next Cougars head coach.

Only time will tell.

And how much time will it take? Spring football is still a few months away. So there is still time, but whoever the next head coach will be will want to get to Ruston and start game-planning for spring ball.


Dusty McGehee: The Story of Mr. Big Guy

 

The story of Mr. Big Guy (MBG) begins back in the fall of 2018.  It was the first year Anders began hunting so I took him to the camp in Mississippi to get his first deer.  We checked the trail camera at our feeder and there was a big bodied, 4-year-old buck, with a decent 9-point rack.  Anders immediately fell in love and named him Mr. Big Guy.

We hunted him throughout the 2018 season but never saw him, other than on the cameras.  I had high hopes that he would blow up in a giant buck at age 5 in 2019, but when I pulled the first SD card, I was a little disappointed.  He had grown in body size, but his rack hadn’t grown an inch (he was approximately 125 inches).  Oh well, he was still a big deer and was #1 on Ander’ hit list.  Once again, the deer season came and went with no sight of MBG; he made it through another season unscathed.

2020 was a crazy year for all of us.  We were working alternating weeks on site at the mill and then “from home” the next week.  This gave me some extra time to prepare for our hunting trips, but I was not prepared for what was about to show up on my cameras.  MBG had blown up into a massive buck and had gained 30 inches of antlers, at the ripe age of 6.  This buck became our sole obsession.  We were going to do anything and everything to get this deer on the ground.  This was Anders’ buck.

The area MBG was frequenting was a stand we call Pandora.  It’s on a hardwood ridge where a couple of draws funnel in front of the stand behind my neighbor’s pond dam.  It’s the perfect pinch point and is arguably the best stand in Yazoo County.  Every buck Anders has killed, has been out of that stand and I’ve lost count in his 4 short years of hunting. 

We ate, slept and breathed MBG in 2020.  With my strange work schedule, I was driving over in the middle of the week to put out feed for him and his girlfriends.  On either Wednesday or Thursday, every single week, I drove over and put out feed and drove right back.  I started to add up the money I spent on him including feed and gas but quickly quit counting. It’s more than I care to admit.  Sounds crazy yet my fellow hunters will understand; this was the largest buck I’d ever had on the property and I was not sparing any expense.

He taunted us all year.  I had plenty of daylight photos of him, but it was always during the week while Anders was at school.  I could’ve killed him half a dozen time if I had been over there while I was “working from home” but there was no way I was shooting “Anders’ buck”.  My neighbors (of whom I’m friends with) were also getting him on their cameras and they were after him just as hard as we were.  To say we were obsessed would be an understatement.  I checked Anders out of school early every Friday, so much that my wife was getting a little perturbed.  The truancy board should have probably been called.  I didn’t care, this was serious business.

Finally, on a cold January morning, we see 5 does coming straight to Pandora.  Coming up the ridge I spot massive antlers and immediately know its MBG.  I jump into Anders’ seat and have him get in my lap.  The adjustable chair collapses and now I tell Anders he is on his own.  The buck is staring right at us and he can’t get a clear shot.  The wind is blowing straight to him; he eventually gets nervous and trots behind us.  Anders is panicked and says “Dad you have to do something!”  I grab my grunt call and send out three of the loudest grunts I’ve ever made.  Within seconds MBG comes trotting right back at us.  I stop him and tell Anders he needs to shoot because the buck was still nervous.  He shoots and the buck trots down the ridge and I knew it didn’t look good.  We examined the shot site and looked for an hour and I dreaded breaking the news to him.  I hugged him and told him it was a clean miss.  He walked off and sat on a log and faced away from me.

The disappointment was overwhelming.  I knew he was sitting there with tears rolling down and frankly I might have had a few fall, too.  I gave him a minute, went over there to console him and let him know it would be alright.  Three years of hunting him every spare second we had; this was not the outcome had imagined.  MBG avoided Pandora like the plague for 11 days, but he finally showed back up and I knew he made it through the season again.

2021 season rolls around and we were once again “all in” on MBG.  He showed back up in late November and he had shrunk about 10 inches but was still a massive 8-pointer.  It was a replay of 2020; he was showing up in broad daylight during the week when we weren’t there.  We hunted him SO hard.  Literally every moment was hunting him or thinking about him.

I checked my cameras last week and there were no pictures of him since Christmas day (in daylight of course) and I knew something happened.  I texted my neighbor this news and told him I was worried.  He checked with surrounding landowners and my suspicions were confirmed.  The neighbor right across the creek from me had killed him.  The story of Mr. Big Guy was over.

I didn’t know whether to cry or to puke.  I couldn’t focus on anything at work that day and I was dreading breaking the news to Anders.  As I pull up to the house, he is playing in the front yard and I just can’t hold it in any longer.  I stop my truck and call him over and tell him.  He hit the ground like a ton of bricks filled with emotion.  It was the exact reaction I had and what I expected from him.

The 4-year journey is now over.  This wasn’t the ending we had been dreaming of.  I just knew it would end with an incredible LPJ story and glory pics with his little hands holding up those massive antlers.  Sadly, that’s the reality of hunting.  I’ve never had the opportunity to hunt a specific deer for four years and may never again.

It was a fun ride.  Lots of blood, sweat, and way too many tears.  There will never be another Mr. Big Guy, but hopefully he had some sons we can hunt in the upcoming seasons.  RIP MBG.

___________________________________________________________

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.


RHS track star and LA Tech signee wowing the competition

by Jerry Byrd

     Last summer, Ruston head coach Allen Whitaker heard about his Lady Bearcat transfer, Bryanna Craig, a week before multi-talented, nationally-ranked athlete arrived in Ruston.

    Whitaker had heard about Craig’s father, who won Big East championships as a track and field athlete for Connecticut, moving from Lubbock, where he was an assistant for the Red Raiders, to join Gary Stanley’s staff at Louisiana Tech.

     “I looked up her performances,” Whitaker said. “I was like ‘Oh, wow!’”

     “Oh, wow!” Is right.

     Craig won a UIL 5A state championship for Lubbock Coronado in the girls long jump with a leap just over 19 feet. She also finished as runner up in the 100 hurdles (14.08) and finished fifth in the high jump (5-4).

      As impressed as Whitaker was when he researched Craig’s performances, he has been even more impressed watching her prepare for her senior season.

      “Her work ethic is amazing,” Whitaker said. “She has impressed me with how hard she works, and how smart she works. She is very technical, and always has a great attitude. Always smiling.”

      As happy as Whitaker has been to add Craig to a loaded roster which includes state champions Jada Williams and Lilly Garrett, Craig is just as happy with her new school, new team, and new teammates.

      “I love it here,” Craig said. “Yes, I’m the new girl, but the way that everyone has made me feel at home it doesn’t seem that way. It has been a comfortable transition, and I’m just happy to part of very good track program.”

     During the first few weeks of the indoor season, Craig has picked up in Louisiana where she left off in Texas, leading the state in three events according to Louisiana Milesplit. She has the fastest time in the 800 (2:24.75) and the best efforts in both the long jump (18-5.25) and high jump (5-8).

      But it’s the 60 meter hurdles her coach is most impressed with.

      “She came in with a best of 9.03,” Whitaker said. “She has lowered that to 8.83.”

       Whitaker thinks those times will continue to drop as he continues to work with his star pupil on her acceleration and strength.

      No matter what the new Ruston phenom accomplishes during the bell lap of her high school track and field career, she has already realized one dream last month when, during the early signing period, she signed a letter of intent with Louisiana Tech, giving her the opportunity to be coached by her father.

      “To be able to compete in college and be coached by my father—It’s a dream come true,” Craig said. “I began dreaming of this when I was a freshmen in high school. Now, it’s right around the corner.”

       But there are still things to check off the Craig To Do list. At the top is helping the Ruston girls team make history by winning the school’s first ever LHSAA State Indoor Championship. She will get that opportunity in a month when Ruston travels to Baton Rouge on Saturday, February 19th.

      “It would make me so happy,” Craig said. “For us to be able to accomplish that. The boys have won a state championship. It would be a joy to contribute to help the girls win a title…and get those rings.”

      Whitaker has been in the game long enough to know that it will not be easy.

      “St. Joseph’s, Scotlandville, Zachary,” Whitaker said. “They have great athletes too. You always know that those programs are going to show up and compete. We are going to go down there, perform at our very best, and see what happens.”


RFM offers more than products

By Emma Stone

Ruston Farmers Market is a community owned and run market that is open for citizens Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Vendors are given a chance to setup their own booth to sell their goods, but the market features more than just selling products.

The Ruston Farmers Market brings the community together.

Typically, a farmers market is open specifically in the summer for a short period of time as opposed to the Ruston Farmers Market, which features vendors year-round.

“Each vendor must apply and is required to grow and produce their goods in Louisiana,” said Marcia Dickerson, a member on the Board of Directors for the Ruston Farmers Market. “By doing this, the products offered are more unique.”

With a wide variety of goods to choose from, the Ruston Farmers Market caters to any and all citizens.

“When I went to the Ruston Farmers Market, I was able to find a gift for my grandmother,” said Camryn Tucker, a Ruston resident. “It was a wooden handle carved into the shape of a bunny which is used to pull out pans from the oven.”

From wood carved collectibles to ground beef to homemade bath products, the market gives a chance for the community to participate in something bigger.

“Each year we have a t-shirt design contest for local artists to submit their work to be chosen,” Dickerson said.

This year, the Ruston Farmers Market featured its newest design on tote bags, which contribute to the beautiful murals of downtown Ruston.

Whitney Herbert, the Ruston Farmers Market Coordinator, said that the history of the Ruston Farmers Market dates back to 2007.

“A very tiny group of women who were, actually, in a book club came together to create what it is today,” Herbert said.

While the Ruston Farmers Market changed far from just a few tables in a parking lot, the market continues to grow and adapt. Even when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, the Ruston Farmers Market offered online ordering.

“The group that leads the Ruston Farmers Market are the most resilient people you will ever meet,” Dickerson said.

The Ruston Farmers Market offers more than just goods and produce; it offers connection and community from vendors’ hands to the residents of Ruston.


Bulldogs host Blazers Saturday in C-USA showdown

Saturday’s Conference USA showdown between Louisiana Tech and UAB has all the ingredients to be one for the ages.

The Bulldogs (15-3, 6-0 C-USA) hosts the Blazers (15-4, 5-1) at 3 p.m. at the Thomas Assembly Center.

And if its not the biggest home game in the last decade for Tech, it definitely ranks in the top two or three. And keep in mind there have been some big ones.

It marks only the second game of the 2021-22 college basketball season that pits two teams with 15-plus wins (Kentucky at Auburn).

The Bulldogs are off to the programs best start in C-USA play and the best record through 18 games since the 2013-14 campaign.

The West Division of the Conference USA men’s basketball standings is loaded with teams. And Tech and UAB may be the top two … although North Texas and Rice may still have something to say (the Bulldogs host both the Mean Green and the Owls next week).

Tech has been nearly unbeatable at the Thomas Assembly Center, winning 55 of its last 58 games in Ruston (.948 winning percentage is the 7th highest in the country since the start of the 2018-19 season).

“We certainly want to be able to take care of our home court,” said Tech head coach Eric Konkol. “We take a lot of pride in playing at home. We feel a great connection to our community, and we never want to let them down. This three game homestand is an important one. All three are very good teams. All three are very accomplished.”

In order to keep its unbeaten C-USA record intact and protect its home court, the Bulldogs will have to find a way to beat a UAB team that

“UAB on paper analytically – and you look at all the different numbers – they are the strongest team in our league,” said Konkol. “We have to do a number of tings to compete and to play good basketball this Saturday.”

The Blazers four losses this year have come against South Carolina (66-63), San Francisco (63-61), West Virginia (65-59) and Rice (85-80).

Tech leads the all-time series 9-8 and has never lost to the Blazers in Ruston.


NCLAC’s 50@50 Small Works Show is just around the corner

North Central Louisiana Arts Council has announced this year’s 50@50 Small Works Show is back in person at the new Creative Exchange gallery, located at 112 W. Alabama Ave.

The 50@50 Small Works Show is an opportunity for local artists to display and sell their work to a buying audience. Sales from the show go directly to the artists to support their talents and profession. The show features over 50 pieces of artwork on sale for $50 each. 

The show will open its doors at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 28. Pieces are sold on a first-come basis, so be sure to be first in line. The 50@50 Small Works Show allows individuals to purchase small works of art at an affordable price. 

The works will be featured on the NCLAC Gallery website starting Monday, Jan. 24 for a virtual viewing. Artworks must still be purchased in-person Jan. 28. 

Artists in the 2022 50@50 Small Works Show are: Kelli Ayres, Ginge Briggs, Cara Beth Buie, Dean Dablow, Dianne Douglas, Jeffrey Ellis, Emily Ezell, Thomas Faulkner, Frank Hamrick, Kay Harris, Kathleen Holmes, Jessica Horne, Chlese Jiles, Patricia Tait Jones, Donald Kaczvinsky, Bette Kauffman, Khalilah Kersey, Hooshang Khorasani, Chase Lenard, Madeline Marak, Joshua McDaniel, Laura Miller, Jean DeFreese Moore, Jeff Perot, Camryn Price, Callie Robbins, Dakota Smith, Kyndall Spence, Rae Lynn Tedeton and Katelyn Vaughan. 

NCLAC is greatly appreciative of the exhibition’s juror— Katy Larsen, owner and founder of the local artist marketplace Agora Borealis in Shreveport. In addition to being a leader in the north Louisiana arts community, she is also the liaison for the Louisiana Fashion Prize, giving North Louisiana fashion designers a chance to display their designs and compete for cash prizes, and Louisiana Tech University graduate. 


Holtz named head coach of USFL’s Stallions

On Thursday, the United States Football League (USFL), a new professional football league launching Saturday, April 16, announced Holtz will take the reins of the Birmingham Stallions.

Holtz joins Kirby Wilson (Pittsburgh Maulers), Bart Andrus (Philadelphia Stars), Todd Haley (Tampa Bay Bandits), Mike Riley (New Jersey Generals), and Kevin Sumlin (Houston Gamblers), all named to their positions earlier this month.

“Filling two more head coach positions is another huge step forward for the league as we move towards kickoff,” said Brian Woods, USFL President of Football Operations. “In Skip and Kirby, we’ve secured two outstanding professionals, who, like the coaches already announced, have decades of experience either in the NFL or college, a love of coaching, and a commitment to the quality league we’re building.”

Holtz joins the USFL with 22 years of experience as a college head coach and a coaching resume dating back to 1987. As an FBS head coach, he guided his schools to 12 bowl appearances in 16 seasons, posted 11 wins over Power 5 programs, and notched eight conference or divisional championships.

He posted six consecutive bowl victories and three consecutive nine-win seasons during his nine seasons leading the Bulldogs. Holtz also led his team to its first 10-win season in 35 years in 2019 and was named CUSA Coach of the Year in 2016. He was fired following the Bulldogs 3-9 season this year.

Holtz’s career as a head coach began at the University of Connecticut, spending five years in the Atlantic 10 (1994-98), compiling a 17-7 in his last two seasons. In 1998, the Huskies went 10-3, making it to the NCAA Division I-AA quarterfinals. Holtz then moved to the University of South Carolina, where he spent six seasons (1999-04) as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach/assistant head coach under his father, the legendary Lou Holtz.

Holtz returned to the role of head coach in 2005, spending five seasons at East Carolina University. At ECU, he posted four consecutive winning seasons, made consecutive bowl appearances, won two Conference USA championships, and was CUSA Coach of the Year in 2008. Holtz then moved to the University of South Florida in 2010, serving as head coach for the Big East school. After three seasons and one bowl appearance in Tampa, Holtz was named head coach of Louisiana Tech University in December 2012 and remained there through the 2021 season.

The USFL will hold a player selection meeting from Tuesday, Feb. 22 through Wednesday, Feb. 23, and training camps will open on Monday, March 21. Each USFL team will carry a 38-man active roster plus a seven-man practice squad, and players will receive base compensation in addition to being eligible for victory bonuses.  

The USFL will launch with eight teams split into two divisions playing in one location. In addition to the Stallions, New Orleans Breakers, Gamblers, and Bandits in the South Division, the North Division features the Michigan Panthers, Maulers, Generals, and Stars. Each team will play a 10-game schedule, followed by semifinals between the top two teams in each division, and a championship game between division winners.

The USFL has multi-year agreements with NBC Sports and FOX Sports, establishing both networks as official broadcast partners, with plans to nationally televise every game on either NBC, USA, Peacock, FOX, or FS1.


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. 22
7:30 a.m.: Louisiana Tech Science Olympiad Invitational 
9 a.m.: Louisiana Tech admissions visit
9 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Ruston Farmers Market
3 p.m.: Louisiana Tech Men’s Basketball vs. UAB (Thomas Assembly Center)
3 p.m.: Grambling Women’s Basketball vs. Mississippi Valley State
7:30 p.m.: Grambling Men’s Basketball vs. Mississippi Valley State

Sunday, Jan. 23
2 p.m. to 5 p.m.: SGA Recycling Drive (LTAC Parking Lot)


Tech bowler makes Junior Team USA

By WIlliam Midkiff

During the first full week of the new year, four bowlers on the Louisiana Tech women’s bowling team traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada, to compete in a five-day-long tournament in hopes of making the 2022 Junior Team USA.

The United States Bowling Conference USA Team Trials, an annual bowling tournament, is held to recruit new bowlers onto one of two national teams – Team USA or Junior Team USA, which is for bowlers 20 years old or younger. These two teams represent the country in international tournaments, so team spots are reserved for only the most elite bowlers in the United States.

According to head coach Matt Nantais, all of the Tech students who traveled to Las Vegas to participate in the USA Team Trials did very well. One student, Danielle Jedlicki, actually made the Junior USA Team, which was a great success for the entire Louisiana Tech team.

“Considering the talent level that’s at that competition? I mean you’re bowling against everyone at once to make Team USA. So to have somebody make the team – that was our goal going out there,” Nantais said.

Jedlicki said she considers her success in the USA Team Trials to be a great highlight in her bowling career.

“Making Junior Team USA means a lot to me–it’s a huge accomplishment. I’m very thankful to be given this opportunity,” Jedlicki said.

This doesn’t mean that she wasn’t nervous for the USA Team Trials, however. With the COVID-19 pandemic making bowling tournaments more scarce over the past year and a half, competitive bowlers like Jedlicki have had fewer opportunities to compete.

“I made myself go even though I was worried how I would perform,” Jedlicki said. “The only tournaments I had performed in since 2019 were college tournaments. I figured, ‘How can I grow as a person if I didn’t make myself do things I wasn’t too comfortable with?’ Thankfully, when I got there, the nerves were gone and I just bowled.

“Team Trials is always a fun and long tournament to participate in. It not only tests your physical game, but it also tests your mental game – mental game is huge in bowling.”

No bowlers on the Louisiana Tech team are required to participate in the USA Team Trials. According to Nantais, preparation for this tournament is a lot like preparation for any level of competitive bowling.

“It’s just basically a lot of spare shooting practice,” Nantais said. “Because obviously strikes are nice, but if you don’t make your spares, you can’t win anything.”

Nantais also uses the USA Team Trials as an opportunity to recruit young talent for the Louisiana Tech team, which is already a star-studded group. Multiple bowlers on the team, such as Jedlicki and Patricia Rosales, have individually won national championships, and Allie Leiendecker has won several.

Nantais believes that the Louisiana Tech team could win multiple national championships this year. “I think we got a good chance to do it,” Nantais said. “Our team is really strong; our chemistry is really good. It seems like all the pieces are in place right now.”

As for the Junior Team USA, they’ll be competing in one international competition this year. The team will be taking four of the 18 girls to this competition.

“I think Danielle [Jedlicki] has a great chance to go,” Nantais said.


State ranks third in nation for emergency broadband benefit enrollment rate 

Louisiana ranks third in the nation for EBB adoption, according to BroadbandNow research. More than 215,000 eligible households are receiving this benefit, representing hundreds of thousands of Louisianians with better, more affordable access to broadband. 

Launched in February 2021 by the Federal Communications Commission, EBB provides a $50 monthly discount for broadband services to low-income households. Lack of affordability is one of the main pillars keeping Louisianians from reliable broadband, but the affordability gap will continue to narrow because of the EBB program and programs like it. 

As ConnectLA traveled throughout the state, the organization made it a point to inform local stakeholders about programs like EBB to help Louisianians attain and afford the broadband they need.  

“The affordability aspect is extremely important to ConnectLA, which is why we pushed EBB so much to municipalities as well as individuals,” said Veneeth Iyengar, Executive Director of ConnectLA . “We had great support and alignment among the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Board of Regents, municipalities, superintendents, local broadband teams, stakeholders, and so many more, which was a main component to Louisiana’s success in EBB enrollment. We want to thank everyone who joined us in this effort as it is so important for our state.” 

Congress recently passed the Affordable Connectivity Program that will replace the Emergency Broadband Benefit program in 2022. However, those enrolled in EBB as of Dec. 31, 2021, have a 60-day transition period when they can keep their monthly discount while enrolling in the new program. 

EBB enrollment nationwide reached 7.1 million households in November of 2021. This is up from 6.1 million in October. 

For more information about the EBB program, visit the program page here. 

Additionally, two proposals have been submitted to ConnectLA’s Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities program by Altice and AT&T. 

The total funding request for all the applications throughout the state is $440 million, with $711 million in total project costs and an average of 40% of total project costs in matching funds. With applications coming from 58 parishes, this figure represents requests for broadband projects in every corner of the state. In addition, the proposed applications seek to provide high speed internet to 215,000 households and 14,000 businesses. 

ConnectLA is using third-party reviewers to evaluate each application with objective scoring metrics. These 23 metrics will evaluate a wide range of subjects, including experience, technical ability, financial wherewithal, provider matching funds, number of households/businesses served, scalability and small business entrepreneurship. All applications are public and can be accessed at gumbo.la.gov Nearly $90 million will be granted in the first round of GUMBO funding.   

Awards will be announced in March with construction starting as soon as May. 


Ponderings by Doug

We live in a “throwaway” culture.

We throw away just about everything. 

Not that we haven’t noticed. We’ve been using this expression since LIFE magazine published an article in 1955 about a new phenomenon that emerged in the prosperity of the 1950s. “Throwaway Living” the article was called.

Instead of blowing our noses using washable handkerchiefs (as did our eco-friendly grandmothers), we use tissues and throw them away.

We diaper babies’ bottoms, and then throw them away — the diapers, not the bottoms.

We buy a pair of shoes and throw them away.

We buy water packaged in plastic bottles, drink the water — and throw the bottles away.

Almost everything we purchase comes in what many call excessive packaging which … is thrown away. If in fact, you can get into these excessively protective plastic packages. Last week it took two pair of scissors and my wire cutters to open the “plastic package” in which the new scissors were located. Who oversees this crazy world?

We buy small and large appliances and when they break down, we buy new ones and throw away the old ones.

We buy TVs and throw them away.

In an era long past, small shops existed to repair items that consumers were then loath to throw away. Used to be that a small repair shop could provide a modest income. You could get your TVs, toasters, radios and irons repaired for a small charge and they were good to go.

The archetype for such small businesses is Emmett’s Fix-It Shop in the fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina, as depicted on the 1960s television series “The Andy Griffith Show.” Emmett Clark fixed clocks, lamps, radios and more. These shops, for the most part, have disappeared.

We don’t fix things; we toss them out. Our throwaway culture involves more than antiquated electronics

We also throw away friendships, values, traditions, manners, decency, and common sense. Some might say that we too often throw away our souls in pursuit of some elusive dream we hold dear. We cast aside the spiritual component of our lives thinking, perhaps, that we will focus on spirituality later. 

Then, one morning, we wake up wondering who we are and where we’ve been and where our life has taken us. “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans,” according to Beatles legend John Lennon.

Whatever you want to call it, we sense down deep that something is wrong. Something is broken. Something is in desperate need of fixing.

Good thing, God is in the repair business!


Notice of death — Jan. 20, 2022

Bobby Morrow 
February 19, 1940 – January 20, 2022 
Visitation: Saturday, Jan 22, 2022, 12:00 PM-2:00 PM, Owens Memorial Chapel Funeral Home, 2300 W. California Ave, Ruston 
Funeral Service: Saturday, Jan 22, 2022, 2:00 PM, Owens Memorial Chapel Funeral Home, 2300 W. California Ave, Ruston 
Cemetery Committal: Saturday, Jan 22, 2022, Henry Cemetery, 1805 HIGHWAY 545, Dubach 

Otis W. Brown 
December 13, 1927 – January 17, 2022 
Graveside service: Friday 1/21, 11:00 am, Graveside – Alexandria Memorial Gardens in Alexandria, LA 

Amy Ruth Jenkins Thomas 
March 28, 1948 – Jan. 16, 2022 
Public viewing: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Jan. 24, 2022 at King’s Funeral Home, 1511 W. California Avenue, Ruston 
Graveside: 2 p.m. Jan. 24, 2022, Grambling Memorial Garden, Highway 80 West, Grambling 

Brian Green 
August 25, 1977 – Jan. 11, 2022 
Memorial service: 1 p.m., Jan. 22, 2022, Library Parish Library Events Center, Ruston Room, 910 N. Vienna Street, Ruston