A Ruston man has died after being shot during a disturbance at a local restaurant.
According to Ruston Police, Germil Deantonious Rhone, 30, of Ruston, was shot during an altercation at the Waffle House on the Farmerville Highway (La. 33) about 3:00 a.m. Christmas morning.
Before officers could reach the restaurant, the parties involved left the scene. Shortly after calls about the shooting, a rollover crash was reported on E. Georgia Avenue (U.S. 80) near the U.S. Post Office not far from the restaurant.
Rhone was driving the crashed vehicle. He was transported to the Northern Louisiana Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. A passenger was not injured.
Police say they have identified a suspect, but no arrest has been announced. The shooting inside the restaurant did not injure any employees or other customers.
The Waffle House is one of the few local restaurants open after midnight. Ruston Police have responded to other disturbances at the location during early morning hours in recent months.
In social media posts, family members said Rhone leaves behind several young children.
The investigation is continuing, and an update will follow as more information becomes available.
This information has been provided by a law enforcement agency as public information. Persons named or shown in photographs or video as suspects in a criminal investigation, or arrested and charged with a crime, have not been convicted of any criminal offense and are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
It is time to schedule royalty visits for the Krewe of Janus.
Ruston residents and the King and Queen of the Krewe of Janus have offered to visit various schools, homes and organizations in Lincoln Parish.
King Janus XL, Lee Sawyer, is a physics professor and the director of chemistry and physics at Louisiana Tech University. He is also part of an international experiment, ATLAS, at the CERN laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland. Lee has been a member of the Krewe of Janus since 2016, and he thoroughly enjoys spreading the spirit of Mardi Gras.
Queen Janus XL, Suzette Sawyer, is a newly retired secondary teacher after 24 years of service. She has been a member of the Krewe of Janus since 2015 and is the current secretary. She has served on the Krewe of Janus Board of Directors as secretary for six years and one year as a captain. She loves everything about Mardi Gras.
King and Queen Janus XL hope to visit as many schools, groups and organizations as they can. Visits will begin Jan. 9, 2023, and end Feb. 10, 2023. To have them participate in a royal visit, fill out this form.
This Best of the LPJ for 2022 story was originally published on May 10, 2022.
by Malcolm Butler
The road to the NFL is never easy.
As a young boy, Max Causey had dreams of making it to professional football.
Little did he know those dreams would come true at age 41.
The Ruston native and former Louisiana Tech QB got a call last week from Gary Slaughter, welcoming him to the NFL … as a down judge on an officiating crew.
“There are so many really good officials in college that are so deserving of a spot,” said Causey. “Things just have to kind of align. For whatever reason, God has chosen to bless me and allowed a position to open up. It’s a huge honor. It’s also very humbling to know that there are so many other college officials that are very deserving, but I was blessed to be given this opportunity.”
Financial advisor for Merrill Lynch by day. NFL official by night.
Or something like that.
Causey will participate in the NFL’s new hire orientation in a couple of weeks followed by a one-day spring clinic with the rest of his buddies in the striped shirts, working through video and talking through expectations.
“I will get assigned a mini-camp; possibly a training camp,” he said. “I will work a full preseason schedule and then work a full NFL schedule. You don’t dip your toe in. You get hired and go full steam ahead.”
Causey, who prepped at West Monroe High School before signing at Louisiana Tech and lettering for the Bulldogs for four seasons, said he started officiating high school games in 2006.
“My friend Daniel Garbarino called me at some point and said he thought I should try it,” said Causey. “He said, ‘You will love it.’ At the time I didn’t have any hobbies. I had the capacity in my life to be able to do it. I thought, why not? I love football.
“I had never really thought about (football) from this angle. It was make a couple of bucks and stay around the game. I was never really thinking about college or NFL aspirations. It was purely to be around a sport that I loved my whole life.”
He gives credit to John Curtis, Jr., for his early development in the profession.
“The last game of the 2006 high school season, I worked the clock at a Cedar Creek playoff game,” he remembered. “John was the referee. I heard the crew talking and knew they had an opening the next year. I was able to get on with them. John had a passion for officiating. He wanted to get the call right and manage the game, while staying out of the way if possible. He wanted to let the players decide the game on the field.
“I started to fall in love with the officiating aspect. I became passionate about it. I realized that if you had a playing background that you had a little bit of an advantage. Stay in shape and apply yourself. Be coachable. If you did that then you had a chance to advance.”
And advance he did.
Causey worked seven years as a high school official, but would attend off-season camps and clinics where college supervisors would be scouting for talent. His first was a SWAC clinic in Jackson, Mississippi, where college supervisors like Gerald Austin and Walt Anderson were in attendance.
“It’s typical. They do that in the off-season,” said Causey. “They are scouting high school and lower college level officials to see who they can bring into their pipeline.”
The following year he attended Austin’s clinic in Miami and got the call. He was assigned one Conference USA game in 2012 and then six more in 2013. He began to work a full Conference USA schedule in 2014 before he eventually moved to the PAC-12 in 2020.
So when did Causey appear on the NFL’s radar?
“The NFL has scouts all across the nation that go to college games and high school games,” he said. “They are going to scout and build their pipeline and database of candidates. I do not know exactly when I got on the NFL’s radar. I don’t think anyone ever knows that.”
Causey did receive an email in December of 2016 from Dave Wyant, a former NFL official and head of scouting for the NFL, inviting him to St. Petersburg to work East-West Shrine Game practices.
“I worked three or four days,” he said. “It was my introduction into the NFL pipeline. Gary Slaughter was at those practices. He is a line of scrimmage supervisor in the NFL now and was at that time too. He’s had an amazing career.”
Once again, Causey heard nothing immediately following the opportunity.
“They don’t really give you any feedback,” said Causey. “I went back home and went about my business. I worked the 2017 C-USA season. In March of 2018, I received an email from Wayne Mackie who was working in the league office. He invited me into the NFL’s Officiating Development Program (ODP).”
The ODP is a pool of officials in college that serves as potential candidates for future NFL officiating jobs. Causey said normally there is anywhere from 30 to 50 in the pool.
“It formalizes the training,” he said. “We get to be involved in NFL training. I got to go out to their summer clinic and be around the NFL officials in Dallas in 2018, just weeks before the season started.”
Causey had opportunities to work various NFL mini-camps and training camps as well as college all-star games such as the Senior Bowl, East-West Shrine Game and NFL PA Bowl. All the while he called his normal regular season college football games each weekend during the fall.
And finally, just days ago, Causey got the call up to the big leagues.
“I still had no idea that I was going to actually get hired,” he said. “I had been in the program for going on five years. I was working USFL games. You understand you are only going to be in the program for a certain time. I understood it was either going to happen or they were going to move on from me, and I would work college for the rest of my career. I had hopes that I would get the call. I was certainly wanting it. I just didn’t know if it was going to come.”
This Best of the LPJ for 2022 story was originally published on Oct. 26, 2022.
By Wesley Harris
The year 1955 saw American consumerism skyrocket with the opening with the first McDonald’s Restaurant and the debut of Disneyland. Fast food, including the first TV dinners, and canned Coca-Cola attested to the growth of the country’s standard of living since World War II. Ownership of a car became the mandatory status symbol for American families. But the development of nuclear weapons by the Soviet Union troubled everyone.
In the 1950s, the Cold War was steadily building with many Americans convinced nuclear war with the Soviet Union was inevitable. Some military officials even advocated a first strike to take out the Soviets, although it would mean the annihilation of some American targets in retaliation.
In 1955, the U.S. military conducted a large training exercise encompassing a substantial portion of Louisiana. The purpose of “Operation Sagebrush” was to evaluate the effectiveness of military operations in a nuclear war. The largest joint Army and Air Force maneuvers since World War II involved nearly 150,000 troops.
A provisional army, meant to represent U.S. forces, was built around the 1st Armored Division and an opposing force was created around the 82nd Airborne Division. Air Force bombers and fighter planes crisscrossed Louisiana’s skies, stirring great interest among the many citizens who had never seen a helicopter.
Many communities throughout Louisiana were inundated with troops and airmen. Ruston saw the arrival of an ordnance detail of the Air Force’s 727th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron in October to prepare for the maneuvers. As many as 700 airmen operated out of Ruston, camping on the grounds of the Methodist Children’s Home next to the municipal airport and at the fairgrounds nearby. The airport served as the home base of the 69th Signal Battalion’s three light planes, two large planes, and three helicopters. Residents in Sabine and Vernon Parishes spotted giant 280mm atomic cannons capable of firing atomic artillery shells. Heavy tanks chewed up roads in many communities.
As with the huge military maneuvers in Louisiana during World War II, interaction between the troops and the locals developed into friendships and more serious relationships. While 24-year old Dick Paige was stationed in Ruston, he met and fell in love with 20-year old Mary Belle Lee of Simsboro. Paige’s reassignment after Operation Sagebrush didn’t cool the relationship—they married in 1957. After Paige’s retirement from the Air Force, they moved back to Ruston where he pastored Baptist churches for nearly 40 years.
Although the military had accepted racial integration in 1948, segregation still ruled much of the South in 1955. On the last day of Operation Sagebrush, December 1, Rosa Parks would be arrested for refusing to give up her Montgomery, Alabama bus seat to a white passenger. In a press briefing, an Operation Sagebrush official attempted to quell fears that the Army’s integrated units would cause trouble in segregated Louisiana, such as black servicemen trying to use a whites-only facility. He noted, “When you get 150,000 people together for anything, you’re bound to have some unpleasant incidents, and the same is true in the case of the military. We respect local policies. On duty there is no segregation but off duty, all our personnel is to respect local customs.”
Operation Sagebrush tested the idea of air cavalry—moving troops quickly by helicopter. While the strategy increased exponentially the ability of units to find and fight the enemy on the nuclear battlefield, a number of problems remained, including fire support for the airmobile units. To protect troops outside the range of artillery, many in the Army advocated using its own armed helicopters and slow-moving fixed wing aircraft to considerable Air Force opposition. The Air Force did not want the Army having its own close air support aircraft and wanted primary control over strategic nuclear warfare. Even use of unarmed helicopters in Operation Sagebrush was fought furiously by the Air Force which wanted exclusive use of the skies.
The operation resulted in the development of Fort Polk near Leesville into a permanent installation and the 1st Armored Division was reassigned from Fort Hood, Texas to continue to test mobility and combat strategies for the nuclear age. The 1st Armored, with its modern M-48 Patton Tanks and new helicopters, remained at Fort Polk until June 1959 before returning to Fort Hood.
After a week-long Christmas break, Louisiana Tech returns to the hardwood tonight when they host UTSA. LA Tech looks to avoid an 0-2 start to Conference USA play, something that has only happened once since joining the league in 2013-14.
GAME INFORMATION Date/Time: Thursday, Dec. 29 | 6 p.m. CT Location: Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court (Ruston, La.) TV/Stream:ESPN+ Talent: Lyn Rollins (pxp), Chris Mycoskie (analyst) Stats:LATechSports.com/Stats | LA Tech Athletics app Radio: LA Tech Sports Network | LA Tech Athletics app
LA Tech (7-5, 0-1) snapped its three-game losing skid in a big way, blowing out Jarvis Christian by a final score of 108-52 in their final non-conference game of the season. The Bulldogs exploded for 59 first-half points and then cruised in the second half to a triple-digit total that was the most scored by the program since 2017.
Cobe Williams has been the anchor for the Bulldogs both offensively and defensively this season. He is averaging 17.9 points per game, having led the team in scoring five times, to go along with 4.2 assists per game. He is also averaging a team-best 2.80 steals per game, making him one of only four players in the country averaging at least 17 points, four assists and two steals per game.
UTSA (6-6, 0-1) looks to flip a switch after the Christmas break as the Roadrunners have dropped three of their four December games, including a 78-54 loss to North Texas in their C-USA opener. They are still looking for their first road win of the season, having dropped all three away from home.
The Roadrunners, trying to improve on a 10-win season (and a 3-15 C-USA record) from last year, return several players including their leading scorer in center Jacob Germany. The senior was a Conference USA Honorable Mention selection last season.
So far this season, Germany is averaging 11.7 points and 7.8 rebounds. The Roadrunners are currently led in scoring by newcomer Japhet Medor, a transfer from Hillsborough College, who is averaging 12.3 points per game. He has scored in double figures in four of the last five games, including a 23-point effort at Utah.
LA Tech and UTSA will meet for the 23rd time on the hardwood Thursday. The two teams will face off again in San Antonio on Jan. 28.
The Bulldogs lead the series, 16-6, having won the last four meetings. LA Tech has swept the series each of the last two seasons, including a 95-71 victory in the last meeting. The Bulldogs jumped all over the Roadrunners, going up 21-3 in route to their second largest win ever in the series, 95-71.
The two squads have been conference foes for the last 10 seasons. In 2012-13, LA Tech and UTSA were both members of the Western Athletic Conference. They both then left to join Conference USA.
Lady Techsters at UTSA
The Louisiana Tech women’s basketball team will resume Conference USA play after the Christmas break with a trip to San Antonio tonight to face UTSA at 7 p.m. inside the Convocation Center.
Louisiana Tech (7-4, 0-1) will look even the conference record at 1-1 after dropping their Conference USA opener at home before the break to UTEP, despite shooting over 50 percent from the field and from three.
Keiunna Walker and Anna Larr Roberson lead the team in scoring with 14.7 and 13.2, respectively, but Tech’s bench has been productive, averaging 24.3 ppg and producing 20-plus in nine of 11 games.
UTSA (2-7, 0-0 C-USA) welcomes Tech to San Antonio for their Conference USA opener after a 2-7 non-conference slate, which includes a 2-0 mark in the Convocation Center with wins over Abilene Christian (76-70) and Idaho (76-69). The Roadrunners were selected ninth in the C-USA preseason poll.
On the floor, USC transfer guard Jordyn Jenkins leads the team with 20.7 ppg and 7.6 rpg. Jenkins, a preseason All-Conference selection, has been one of the hottest players in C-USA the last two weeks, picking up back-to-back Player of the Week honors.
Tonight’s game will be the 22nd overall meeting between the two programs in a series that dates to the 1984-85 season, with LA Tech taking the first-ever matchup on a neutral floor, 80-39. The two teams would not meet again until 2005-06 in a neutral setting, with Tech winning 75-67.
Tech began the series winning seven of the first eight, including the first three, followed by four wins in a row which ties the longest streak of the series. Tech won four straight again between 2019 and 2022 before UTSA took last season’s meeting, 59-49, in San Antonio.
This Best of the LPJ for 2022 story was originally published on November 3, 2022.
By T. Scott Boatright
One of the biggest games to hit Ruston in quite some time will include a reunion 40 years in the making.
When Ruston plays host to West Monroe Friday night in a District 2-5A showdown between Top 10 teams in both the Louisiana Sports Writers Association Poll and GeauxPreps.com’s Division I Football Playoff Power Ratings, the 1982 RHS state championship team will be honored and serve as honorary captains for the Bearcats.
Ruston will be looking for its first victory over West Monroe since 1990. The Bearcats will also be looking to break the Rebels streak of 26 district championships.
The 1982 RHS team that will be honored Friday captured Ruston’s first state championship under head coach Chick Childress and the first for the Bearcats since Childress was a RHS player himself in 1947.
Childress, who passed away in 2015, went on to lead the Bearcats to state titles in 1984, ’86, and ’88 and 1990.
But that championship run began with the 1982 team, which went 15-0, defeating Neville 15-14 during regular season play before winning the rematch 8-0 over the Tigers in the title showdown in the Superdome.
It was a magical and memorable day for many Lincoln Parish football fans who watched Louisiana Tech fall 17-0 to Delaware in the nationally-televised 1-AA semifinals earlier in the day before cheering the Bearcats on to the state title.
Coach Childress’ son Dan was the Bearcats’ quarterback on that 1982 team and said he’s looking forward to getting back and reuniting with his former teammates.
“We’re honored to be honorary captains, but the main event Friday night is this year’s Bearcats against West Monroe,” Childress said. “The legacy lives on and every Bearcat team that comes through is that — the most important ever for that season.
“This game against West Monroe makes it even better. I’m ready to beat West Monroe. We all are after (31) years. But everybody knows it won’t be a cakewalk regardless of what happened at the jamboree. West Monroe is still West Monroe.”
Dan’s career at Ruston began as a freshman in 1979 – the same year his father took over as head coach.
“I played three games a week,” said Dan.. “I quarterbacked the freshman game, I quarterbacked the JV game and then I backed up Neal Janway and got in a few games as a freshman. But as I always talk about, it was those first teams (under Chick Childress) that it was all built on.”
The Bearcats went 2-8 in that first season under Childress before going 4-6 in 1980.
“Even that first year going 2-8, you could feel things changing,” Dan said. “We were barely losing to teams that had been beating the Bearcats by much bigger margins. That season laid the foundation that dad started building on.”
Then the magic started to show in 1981 as Ruston went 11-2, falling at Covington in the semifinal round of the playoffs.
“One of the things we had from the very beginning was that we had a sense of mission,” Dan said. “We were very focused even though we were high school kids and we had fun. Shannon Frazier asked me last year if anybody could have had more fun in high school than we had? And I told him I didn’t think so.
“But we worked hard and were totally focused on football success while still enjoying our time as teenagers.”
Dan said it was a sense of brotherhood that was at the heart of the Bearcats’ success back then.
“Early on, we knew we were part of something special,” Dan said. “I remember talking with a senior — James Mathis — when I was a freshman and saying we were going to do great things together.
“Not white, not black, but white and black together. I remember sitting there on the field in front of the benches clasping hands and saying that — “Not white, not black, but black and white together. And I think that we had a real sense of bringing everybody in and doing something special.”
And that special ended up extending much further than the football team.
“It was just a really nice, neat experience to see the whole community come together — all sides of town and every aspect,” Dan said. “I think about Ruston football during the ‘80s and seeing all the fans coming together. We traveled so well and had so many fans at away games, whether it was playing a team in Shreveport or playing Rummel down in New Orleans.
“To see those fans from all walks of life riding on the school buses or the Trailways buses heading to rally around the Bearcats was a really neat deal.”
A neat deal that has lasted for four decades now for the 1982 Bearcats.
“We’re all still really close even though it’s been 40 years and I haven’t seen a lot of those teammates for a long time,” said Dan. “Thank God for Facebook because that’s how so many of us keep in touch with everybody now. That’s restored a lot of old high school relationships.”
Dan said those relationships go beyond the ‘82 RHS football team members on to others who also played a vital role for the Bearcats that magical season.
“You weren’t just playing the football team, you were playing the entire student body and community,” Dan said. “Our cheerleaders, our Pepettes, our band — our everything and everyone. And that was really special.”
Ruston’s defense was also really special that 1982 season. The Bearcats chalked up seven shutouts that season, including the 8-0 win over Neville for the state title and held opponents to an average of four points per game.
Michael Slaughter was a sophomore defensive back for the Bearcats during that 1982 championship, but spent his time taking a knee on the sideline so that the starters on the bench could see over him and his younger teammates.
“Sophomores didn’t really play in those days,” Slaughter said. “It was a different day back then. You would dress out but didn’t play.
“The freshman and sophomores didn’t want to play. Those juniors and seniors were grown men. We earned our spots going up against those guys every day by playing on the scout team. But those guys made us tough by beating on us.”
Slaughter said those ‘80s Bearcats teams followed a tone set by Coach Childress.
“He just said ‘I know what I’m doing and if y’all do everything I say, everything’s going to work out,’ and it went pretty much just like he said,” said Slaughter. “It was all about discipline. We all followed the same rules.”
Slaughter said playing Neville, where Chick Childress had served for years as an assistant, in the 1982 and ’84 championship games only fueled the legend and memories of those games and that rivalry.
“I went on to play at Louisiana Tech and roomed with Conroy Hines, Neville’s quarterback in the 1984 games,” Slaughter said. “Michael Brooks went on to play for LSU’s linebacking corps with Toby Caston from Neville.
“Coach Childress beat Neville two or three seasons twice. Neville never beat us twice in one season. That was something special.”
Bob Hearn was a senior offensive lineman for the Bearcats that 1982 season.
“What this year’s team has done obviously brings back memories of what many would call the good old days with the community being behind us and all of that,” Hearn said. “A little bit of that fever is out and about and I think there’s a lot of anticipation about some good things that might happen Friday.”
Hearn said it will be good seeing former teammates he hasn’t seen for decades, although there is a group of friends from the 1982 team he has remained close to.
“Scot Brasuell, me, Shannon Frazier, Lee Holstead, Jerry Windsor, Jeff Camp — there’s several of us around here that still have pretty regular contact. Most of those are either in town or close and attend games fairly often.”
There will also be three former Bearcats that their teammates will be remembering Friday night – three players who have since passed away — Jesse Winzer, Richie Sims and Mitch Williams.
“We’ll be thinking about those great guys and great players,” Dan said. “We could not have gotten there without No. 22 (Winzer), No. 80 (Sims), and No. 45 (Williams). They will always be a special part of that season and will always be remembered.”
Here are the latest Power Ratings from Geaux Preps for high school boys and girls basketball. These are used to determine playoff seeding at the end of the regular season, including where Ruston (Non-Select Division I), Cedar Creek (Select Division IV), Lincoln Preparatory (Select Division IV), Choudrant (Non-Select Division V) and Simsboro (Non-Select Division V) are ranked.
The changes the LHSAA made to the Power Ratings formula a few years back will have coaches and fans alike wondering why your calculations do not match GeauxPreps.
The top reason for mismatches is calculating Opponents’ Win points. Win Points are no longer just a straight up number of Wins by teams you have played. Points are now based on the number of wins vs number of games played. This was done to make up for playing opponents who did not play a full 10-game schedule.
See the summary below on how PR is calculated:
Result of Game: If you win, you get 10 Power Points. If you lose, you get none.
Classification: If your opponent is in a higher class, you get 2 points for each class higher
Opponents Wins: To calculate opponents wins: divide the number of wins by total games played, and multiple by 10.
Add these three components, and this is the PR for that specific game played.
Do this for all games played, add them all up, and then divide that total by the number of games you played.
You can compare your calculations with ours by looking at the Team Schedules Pages, there you will see how many points we calculated for each matchup.
Another major factor that causes mismatches, is Out of State opponents. We strive to make sure that we have to most accurate Win/Loss record for each out of state opponent. Since schools enter the W/L records for their OOS opponents, and because we don’t know how the schools get their record, we often are off on several matchups.
In addition, a team’s strength factor shall be determined by adding the sum of the opponent’s class to the sum of the opponent’s wins and dividing the result by the total number of games played. The strength factor is used when a tie exists between two or more teams and a head-to-head matchup does not exist.
GeauxPreps.com auto-generates its Power Ratings every two hours for football. If you think that you have seen an error or have any other questions, please contact email@example.com.
If you want to be a part of a “gut busting” production that requires acting skill and talent then you want to audition for the “The Play That Goes Wrong”. Ruston Community Theatre is excited to be producing this Broadway Play on stage at the Dixie Center for the Arts March 23-26, 2023.
“The Play That Goes Wrongs” is written by Henry Lewis Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields and will be sponsored by Century Next Bank. Mary Watkins will serve as director. This smash hit farce is set for opening night of the Cornely University Drama Society’s newest production. Things quickly go from bad to utterly disastrous. The accident-prone thespians battle against all odds to make it through to their final curtain call.
Audition dates are January 7, 2023, at 10:00 am and January 9, 2023, at 6:00 pm, at the Dixie Center for the Arts in Ruston. No preparation is necessary. Athletic ability and being quick on your feet will be an asset because of the unique characteristics of this play and set.
Auditioners will be expected to perform a cold read from the script. The nine available roles are as follows: Annie Twilloil, the company’s stage manager with a Lancashire accent. She has the biggest journey of any character; Chris Bean/Inspector Carter, director of the play within a play; Robert Grove/Thomas Colleymore, wants to be Richard Burton as evidenced by his presentational style; Dennis Tyde/Perkins, has no desire to be in the theater, he just wants friends; Trevor Watson, the plays curmudgeonly lighting and sound operator; Johnathan Harris/Charles Haversham, a bit bland personality-wise but sees himself as a James Bond type; Max Bennett/Cecil Haversham, never been onstage before but learns his lines and does exactly what he is told to do; Sandra Wilkinson/Florence Colleymore, vain with a huge ego. She wants to be loved and has ambitions of going to Hollywood and is a very physical role; Arthur/ The Manor Gardner. In addition, extras will be cast who may also serve as the stage crew. This play will be fun and exciting to both perform and see as an audience member. Make your plans now to be a part of this production by auditioning.
The coming of a new year brings hope for us all. It is a chance to wipe the slate clean and start anew. Many of us will set goals that we could never achieve, but we must believe that we can achieve anything. We must believe in ourselves. No matter what happens this coming year, don’t stop believing in yourself.
In the early 1970s, Jonathan moved from his hometown of Chicago to Los Angeles, California. The only being Jonathan knew in “the City of Angels” was his beloved dog that he brought with him from Chicago. Jonathan, a talented musician, hoped to “make it big” in the music industry. At eight years old, Jonathan began taking accordion lessons. As a teenager, he made extra money playing accordion and piano in clubs and at parties. Following high school, Jonathan attended the Chicago Conservatory of Music. His parents, teachers, and friends all thought he had the talent required to “make it,” and encouraged him to give it a shot.
Jonathan was hopeful when he arrived in Los Angeles, but he quickly began to struggle just to survive. There were opportunities for up-and-coming musicians to play, but the market was saturated with fine musicians who often played for little or no pay. More often than not, Jonathan’s income from playing music was too little to allow him to pay his bills and eat, too. He became one of Los Angeles’s many starving artists. When he became desperate, which happened often, Jonathan ashamedly called his father and asked for a small loan. His father always sent Jonathan what money he could and reassured him that one-day things would be better.
Then, an event happened which brought Jonathan to the point of giving up on his dream, his beloved dog was hit by a car and severely injured. He had no money to pay the vet. Once again, he called his father for another loan. His father could hear the discouragement in his voice more than any other time that Jonathan had called. “Dad,” Jonathan asked in a dispirited voice, “should I just give up on this thing and come home?” His father reassured him as he always had. “No. Don’t come home,” his father said. Always full of encouragement, his father gave him another piece of advice which Jonathan thought important enough to jot down in his notebook.
With his father’s reassurance, Jonathan kept searching for the right opportunity. He thought that opportunity had finally arrived in 1976 when he recorded a solo album which he named after his hometown, “Windy City Breakdown.” The album failed to chart, and Jonathan’s struggle continued. In 1978, Jonathan joined a British rock group called The Babys. Jonathan recorded two albums with The Babys, but the band failed to achieve the level of success they had hoped for and, in 1980, the group disbanded. In that same year, Jonathan joined another band and began working on an album with them. The band needed two more songs to complete the album, and the band’s lead singer asked Jonathan if he had any song ideas. Jonathan flipped through his notebook and read again the advice his father had given him several years earlier. Those three simple words of encouragement became the inspiration of and title of one of Jonathan’s band’s biggest hits. It has been described as the “perfect rock song” which featured Jonathan playing “one of the best opening keyboard riffs in rock.” The song was the best-selling digital track from the 20th century. The band was Journey. The name of the song and the advice his father gave Jonathan Cain was,… “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
Those three words were good advice from Jonathan’s father then and have remained good advice to listeners for over forty years. If we “Don’t Stop Believin’” in ourselves, we can accomplish anything in the coming new year.
With Week 17 of the NFL season brings another opportunity for our readers to try to win $150 of cash and prizes in this week’s Karl Malone Toyota NFL Pick’em Contest presented by 511 and BRCC.
It’s easy. Each week pick the 10 NFL games that we list and have a chance to win cash and gift cards.
One lucky (or smart) pick’em guru will walk away with $150 worth of cash and prizes. The weekly deadline is Saturday at 10 a.m. (prior to Sunday’s NFL games).
Anyone is eligible to participate (only one entry per contestant). Each week the winner will be the participant with the best record out of 10 selected NFL games (ties will be broken by two separate tiebreakers consisting of guessing the total points scored in two of our weekly contests).
There is no entry fee, just like there is no cost to subscribe to the Lincoln Parish Journal.
It takes 20-30 seconds to sign up and not much longer than that to make your picks.
All contest decisions by LPJ management are final. Weekly winners will be notified Monday and are will be requested to take a photo that will run in the following week’s LPJ.
Every participant will receive a FREE subscription to the Journal, if you’re not already signed up for the easily-navigated, convenient 6:55 a.m. daily e-mail.
This Best of the LPJ for 2022 story was originally published on October 5, 2022.
By Malcolm Butler
The Lincoln Parish School Board unanimously approved the November supplement checks for all parish teachers and support staff during Tuesday night’s monthly meeting at the school board office.
All certified employees of Lincoln Parish School Board will receive a $3,200 supplemental check while support employees will receive a $1,600 supplemental check. The checks will be a part of the Nov. 17th paycheck.
Lincoln Parish School Board Superintendent Ricky Durrett also stated that stimulus checks for retention and recruitment will be paid this month to teachers and support staff who met all criteria in the sum of $1,200 for teachers, $600 for non-certified employees and $480 for part-time support.
“Hopefully that will be a little something extra to encourage our teachers and support staff this month,” said Durrett.
Lincoln Parish School Board Early Childhood Coordinator Amy Brister and K-2 ELA Facilitator Michelle Thrower both provided positive reports on literacy performance profiles.
Brister reported on the progress on the Pre-K level and the most recent grade of excellent, the highest possible for the district.
“Pre-K classes are observed using the class rubric while our other grades use the compass rubric,” said Brister. “Three of the components of the class rubric are emotional support, classroom organization and instructional support.”
Brister said other things that go into the performance profile include teacher certification, ratios, best practices and other measurables.
“Our Tier 1 curriculum we use in pre-K we implemented it brand new this year,” said Brister. “Our teachers are really liking it. We have received the highest grade possible for early childhood sites and that is a rating of excellent.”
Thrower followed with a report on the most recent success on the K-2 literacy levels.
“We are using a curriculum called the American Reading Company that is a Tier 1 rated curriculum by the Department of Education,” said Thrower. “One of the best pieces of this curriculum is a digital component called school pace where our teachers do a independent reaching level assessment of students. It helps us track where our students are as readers. “
Thrower showed a graph where in the fall of 2021-22 the data showed 39 percent of K-2 at Proficient, 34 percent at At-Risk, and 27 percent at Emergency.
“We looked at those numbers and said ‘this isn’t good,'” said Thrower. “We have to get kids reading at proficient levels by the end of the year. We set some pretty high goals. We wanted our Proficiency rate to increase to 80 percent by the end of the school year, and we wanted to decrease Emergency rate to 10 percent. Our teachers and leaders worked really hard to meet that goal.”
Thrower shared that although they came up short of the goals, they made impressive progress with Proficient rates increasing to 73.9 percent and Emergency rates falling to 12.2 percent by the spring of 2022.
“We have made an emphasis on our Pre-K and K-2 literacy, and I think we are seeing some of the results of that,” said Durrett.
Durrett also mentioned that one of the parish school buses was involved in a crash Friday on Tarbutton Road headed to Ruston Junior High School, but that all eight students and the driver were okay — “just a few bumps and bruises” — and were back at school by the following day. He said the police report said the bus driver was not at fault.
Louisiana Tech is always going forward — except when we review highlights of the previous year. In 2022, the Louisiana Tech Family celebrated collaborating, giving, research, winning, and much more.
Here are some top stories from 2022, a highlight reel of what the Tech Family experienced and accomplished together.
Tech’s Division of Nursing, in partnership with MedCamps of Louisiana, introduced an opportunity for Nursing students to engage in practical, hands-on learning opportunities designed to increase their knowledge of pediatric care for children with chronic conditions. The Heroes with Hearts Retreat pairs Louisiana Tech students enrolled in the Child Health Maintenance Course with campers at MedCamps of Louisiana.
The College of Education is leading a key initiative from the Louisiana Department of Education that is designed to support new teachers in the state this year. Called the New Teacher Experience, the program focuses on connecting new teachers with a cohort and mentor teachers to provide a support system throughout the early years of their careers.
Gaining hands-on experience in interdisciplinary fields of study, such as cyber and liberal arts, through role-play gaming is no mystery to students involved in the Analysis and Investigations through Cyber-Scenarios (AICS) project. In order to understand how cyber and areas such as political science or history intertwine, AICS allows students to take part in “Murder Mystery” style games modeled after CIA training, creating simulated environments where issues of cyber-security have large-scale, real world effects.
Forty-seven bankers from across Louisiana and Mississippi attended the first Louisiana Tech University School of Banking in June in Ruston, June 6-10, in Ruston, a week-long professional development program that expands the skills and knowledge base of rising bank leaders. Courses taught by over 20 Tech faculty members, top banking executives, bank consultants and regulators covered a variety of topics, including operations, risk management, liquidity, marketing, sales, and regulations.
Timber-industry leader Martin Sustainable Resources LLC in Alexandria has committed $2 million as the leadership gift toward the construction of Tech’s new Forest Products Innovation Center. It will be located on South Campus and provide space for a transdisciplinary approach to solving the challenges associated with the timber industry. RoyOMartin, a subsidiary of Martin Sustainable Resources, has invested in what will become a hub for discovering new methods to capture, produce, and utilize our renewable and sustainable forests for generations to come.
Hunt Forest Products established four endowed scholarships at Tech, designed to make a positive impact on future leaders in the forest products industry. The scholarships include a $25,000 endowed scholarship in Forestry, a $25,000 scholarship in Sustainable Supply Chain Management, a $25,000 scholarship in Accounting, and a $25,000 scholarship in Engineering. Students in the colleges of Applied and Natural Sciences, Business, and Engineering and Science will benefit from the company’s generosity.
An interdisciplinary team of experts from Tech and three other Louisiana colleges established the MALT Industrial Assessment Center, headquartered in Bogard Hall at Tech, to identify energy, productivity, and sustainability opportunity enhancements for manufacturers in our region, while also training the next generation of industry leaders to advance the interests of the manufacturing sector.
Music Industry Studies, a new major in the School of Music, is a new program that’s striking a chord with students who are interested in music, but not in writing sheet music or learning how to perform classically, the opportunity to develop their passions into future careers in the music industry. The program gives these types of students a chance to broaden their musical interests. Studies teaches students how to record themselves or make videos professionally to promote their businesses.
The University’s interdisciplinary Visual Integration of Science Through Art (VISTA) Center is in the middle of a year-long exhibit at the Louisiana Art & Science Museum in Baton Rouge through July 31, 2023. The exhibit, “Illustrations in Health,” features roughly 60 pieces by 50 Tech undergraduates who have been part of the VISTA Center since its creation seven years ago. The exhibit’s aim is to engage the audience in understanding the impact of illustrations on health sciences and medicine. VISTA will present several special programs on-site during the run.
No annual review would be complete without a look at the most-recent installment of Tech’s rich athletic history. The Diamond Dogs played in their second consecutive NCAA Regional, and Lady Techster Softball won the Conference USA regular-season title on the last play of the game before a fanatical afternoon crowd at Dr. Billy Bundrick Field. The Dunkin’ Dogs made it to the finals of the C-USA Tournament, and the Lady Techsters finished strong to win C-USA’s Western Division. Lady Techster Tennis won 18 matches, the second-most in program history. Bowling earned a national ranking in the Top 5. Future Louisiana Tech Athletics Hall of Famer Gary Stanley retired as head coach of Track and Field, a program now led by Olympian and four-time NCAA Division I national champion Brian Johnson. While we don’t know what will happen next — it’s sports! — we do know Bundrick Field will be the site of the 2023 Conference USA Softball Championships; the facility opened in March of 2021 and will serve as the host site for the four-day, eight-team tournament May 10-13.
Louisiana Tech’s Jordan Crawford garnered another award for the 2022-23 season as the guard was named Conference USA Freshman of the Week for a second time.
Crawford was stellar in the final non-conference game of the season for LA Tech, registering his first career double-double in a 108-52 victory over Jarvis Christian this past week.
The Ruston native tallied 13 points to go along with a career-high 12 assists. The 12 dimes is the most by any C-USA player this season and tied for the 14th most in the country in a single game (most by any freshman). It is also tied for third most ever by a Bulldog freshman (most since 2017).
When he was not scoring or assisting on 17 of the team’s 40 made field goals, he was also crashing the glass and playing solid defense as he posted four rebounds and tied his career high with four steals.
Crawford has totaled a team-high 56 assists on the season, which is currently tied for the most in the country by any freshman. He becomes just the fourth Bulldog in program history to receive C-USA Freshman of the Week honors multiple times.
LA Tech returns to action on Thursday, Dec. 29 when they play host to the UTSA Roadrunners inside the Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. and will be streamed on ESPN+.
The Region 8 Office of Public Health is offering a couple of end of the year opportunities for people to stay healthy during this holiday season.
On Thursday, Dec. 29, Franklin Parish Council on Aging at 714 Adams Street, Winnsboro from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Pafford will offer COVID-19 and Flu vaccines.
Also, Friday, Dec. 30, there will be a Vaccination Event at Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church at 132 Golson Road, Delhi from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will be COVID-19, Flu and Monkeypox vaccines offered.
This Best of the LPJ for 2022 story was originally published on July 26, 2022.
By Malcolm Butler
A new housing unit is scheduled to be constructed on West California Avenue in the very near future.
Lincoln Parish Economic Development Director Phillip M. Smart said that a 240-bed apartment complex in the lot adjacent to Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, in the space that formerly held Church’s Fried Chicken with the additional lot behind it.
“We have a housing crisis in Lincoln Parish and of course in the City of Ruston, we have one especially for our students,” said Smart. “We want students to come, attend our universities, enjoy our city and feel at home. We are in dire need of additional student housing in Ruston.”
Smart said the company – Global Student Housing – has plans to construct the 1-bedroom apartments. The complex will include a parking garage on site. The apartments will be in easy walking distance from the Louisiana Tech campus, the company likes to promote ecofriendly transportation.
“We are pretty pleased with this project and are very excited about it,” said Smart. “Hopefully we can see this come to fruition pretty soon. The Global Student Housing has already gotten to the part where they are ready to submit for permits to the city. I really think it will be a highlight and bring more life to that area.”
Smart said Global Student Housing is a company that normally caters to international students, but the complex will be open to all students – both Tech and Grambling State. The company will also be looking to construct a similar site for Grambling State University in Grambling.
The project is scheduled to start once permitting is approved and a rough timeline has the completion set for Fall 2024.
In addition to the housing unit, Smart also talked about some additional businesses that are coming soon, including:
Panda Express — “The last time I talked to the project manager on that, it was October or November. But of course with supply and demand that time varies. It will hopefully be around October.”
Bojangles – “This is on Farmerville Highway on the corner of Kentucky and Farmerville. I’ve seen the plans and the layout looks great. I don’t know the timeline, but we know it will be there. We have some citizens that are really excited about more food options.”
Taco Bandido – “They have submitted plans to go in the old Pizza Hut building. I am overjoyed that it takes another vacant structure and blighted property off of our list. It really helps with enhancing the beautification of Ruston.”
Grocery store on Farmerville Highway – “I have not seen the plans for the building yet. I have seen that the property has been purchased by Brookshire Grocery Company. We talked about the need and desire to have a location out there, specially for the growth that is north region of Ruston and for the northeast quadrant. I definitely believe it is a need for our citizens and visitors. This location helps with the quality of life where those citizens don’t have to drive across town to pick up groceries.
Plasma facility – “That is a company out of the Baton Rouge area that will be opening up a new plasma facility (in the old Rite Aid building). It will help with the work force and allow people to (have) good paying jobs there. It allows more medical jobs and medical benefits to our area. This increases the quality of life. It also takes another vacant property off of our list.”
Old Navy – “We started on that project as soon as I came on board. We made contact with Old Navy in November and have been in contact with them up to this point. They just submitted their plans and their drawings of the new building. I don’t know an exact time frame due to supply and demand. It will be in the same shopping center strip as TJ Maxx and Hobby Lobby. There is a vacant greenfield site all the way at the end by the shoe store. It will be right next to it.”
This Best of the LPJ for 2022 story was originally published on March 23, 2022.
By T. Scott Boatright
After more than 50 years, The Grambling High Foundation (GHF), and Louisiana Tech University (Tech), which acts on behalf of A.E. Phillips Laboratory (AEP), are free from judicial oversight regarding a desegregation lawsuit initiated by the United States in 1966.
“It feels amazing to put all of this behind us,” said Lincoln Prep Executive Director Gordan Ford. “I just told someone today was the first time in seven years I woke up and was not concerned that someone from Washington, D.C., was going to try and shut our school down.”
In July 1977, the United States District Court filed a motion to desegregate the Grambling Laboratory Schools and AEP, which is located on Tech’s campus.
After years of inactivity followed by actions taken in recent years, including the creation of Lincoln Preparatory School in Grambling, Judge Robert James on Monday signed a Memorandum Order declaring unitary status, dismissing any further court action involving the decades-long desegregation order.
In 1984, this Court approved a consent decree which required GSU to take a number of actions intended to desegregate the Laboratory Schools.
Those actions seem to have finally put to rest the issue, which in 2009, after many years in which this case was largely inactive, came under jurisdictive study when the Court directed the United States to conduct a unitary status review, including a review of then-remaining issues with GSU’s and Tech’s laboratory schools.
That review resulted in a Motion for Further Relief being filed by the United States. GSU and Tech both opposed the motion and moved on their own for declarations of unitary status, with the Lincoln Parish School Board supporting the position of both GSU and Tech.
Then in September 2013, the Court held a conference with counsel during which the parties agreed to enter into negotiations in an attempt to resolve the lab school issues. The GSU lab schools were comprised of three schools: Alma J. Brown Elementary School (K-5), Grambling Middle School (6-8) and Grambling High School (9-12), which educated students and served the Grambling community for more than 100 years.
That led to Jan. 6, 2014, when counsel for the parties met to discuss the proposals to resolve the outstanding desegregation issues at the laboratory schools.
At a second meeting held on March 10, 2014, GSU’s counsel reportedly informed the Court and the parties that, in conjunction with the GHF, it had filed an application to convert its laboratory schools to a charter school.
That charter school opened for the 2016-17 school year as Lincoln Preparatory School.
In January of 2020, the U.S. District Court ruled that barred the GHF from operating Lincoln Prep on the GSU campus for the following school because of delays in meeting desegregation requirements involving the percentage of white students attending the school.
So Lincoln Preparatory became a nomadic school starting the 2020-21 school year, with classes split between various sites in Grambling and Lincoln Parish and athletics teams forced to play at other locations.
The Lincoln Prep Panthers played a 2021 home football playoff game at Louisiana Tech, and last month the Panthers boys basketball team played a pair of “home” games at Scotty Robertson Memorial Gym on the Tech campus.
But last November ground was broken on a new school now under construction at 1455 West Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. in Grambling.
Ford said expectations are for the 654-student school to start the 2022-23 school year in that building, and hopefully even to be able to play football there next fall.
“After the case dismissal, there are no restrictions for next season,” Ford said. “We’re getting ready to start construction on our own football stadium, and we’re hoping to be able to play in that stadium (next fall). But if not, then we would be able to play at Grambling (State). And hopefully we’ll have the gymnasium done by early 2023 at the latest.”
Ford said that for many Grambling natives, the moment is bittersweet.
“This is a lawsuit that was filed in 1966 to integrate the schools,” Ford said. “And actually our school and I.A. Lewis are the only majority Black schools that survived at all from Lincoln Parish. Lincoln High School, Lincoln Elementary, Hopewell … all of those other Black schools are long completely gone … forever. So there’s some bittersweetness to it after having to go through this lawsuit and go through the history of it knowing what it did to the Black community.
“It’s good that it integrated, but the cost was pretty high. There were a lot of things lost. But we’re still Grambling. We’re still in Grambling. The thing we’re excited about is that this year, we’re going to be able to have graduation in Grambling. It’s bittersweet, but at the end of this we’re better than we would have been, and we’re happy.”
Funeral Services for Tommie Ann Rinehart Webb, age 86, of Choudrant, LA, will be held Thursday, December 29, 2022, at Douglas Church in Choudrant, LA. at 2:00 P.M. officiated by Rev. Jeremy Jones. Visitation will be from 1:00 P.M. until time of service. Interment will follow the service at Douglas Cemetery in Choudrant, LA under the direction of Kilpatrick Funeral Home – Ruston.
Tommie Ann Webb was born in Choudrant, LA, to Thomas Roy Rinehart, Sr., and wife Willie Dean Hennen Rinehart on August 10, 1936. She passed from this life on December 25, 2022. She is preceded in death her husband, Ernest Webb, and three siblings: Johnnie Ellis, Dorothy Taylor, and Buddy Rinehart
Mrs. Tommie is survived by her daughters, Terry Chrisman and husband Jeff, and Penny Webb; granddaughter, Brandy Hammons; great-grandson, Remington; sister, Sybil Woodard, and a host of other family and friends.
Pallbearers will be Pat Colvin, Paige Colvin, Tom Rinehart, Wayne Henry, Scott Barmore, and Stacy Jones.
The location of where a new hospital for Lincoln Parish will be constructed has been determined.
Now parish residents begin the wait for when a new facility will open.
Northern Louisiana Medical Center and its parent company, Allegiance Health Management, recently announced a 35.5-acre tract of land has been purchased from local businessman James Davison at the corner of East Commerce and Celebrity Drives in Ruston that will be the site of a new, 120-bed hospital with attached office buildings.
NLMC CEO Kathy Hall said the process has been a carefully ongoing one to find a site officials felt would best serve residents from Lincoln Parish and the surrounding region, which is something those officials feel is important in turning Ruston a “medical hub” serving well beyond parish lines themselves.
“It’s as part of talks that had been going on for I guess a little more than a year,” NLMC CEO Kathy Hall said about the land purchase for a new facility. In 2021 we got with Mr. Davison and began looking at property. The area we started looking at didn’t have a lot of ‘in and out’ road access.
“But as he continued to show us around he showed us that piece of property and it felt like it was a good spot because people can get to it by easy access off of Interstate-20, off of (La.) Highway 33, and then you have Kentucky Avenue and (U.S. Highway) 167 as well, so we realized it was a prime location and was still visible from the interstate — that was something we wanted to make sure would happen.”
Larger rooms for patients and ICU units as well as state-of-the room operating and treatment rooms will all go into planning the new facility.
“I’m just so glad Allegiance has the loyalty to our community it does and stepped in to help make this happen,” Hall said. This is so needed. The current building is so dated. We spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $3.5 million on it already on equipment which is certainly needed. But the (old) building itself was built in 1964. There’s been some floors added throughout the years.
“A lot of the rooms in the current building are smaller. A lot don’t have showers in them in the 1964 part. Now on our third floor, our medical surgery floor, a lot of our rooms do have showers, but having updated rooms alone is a huge need.”
While hopes are that a new facility will draw new and more patients, the same is hoped for the staff that will be working there.
“The reality of it is, if you build a new facility, it’s going to be easier to draw the medical community into Ruston,” Hall said. “When you have a new facility, you have people who want to come to a new hospital, so you attract more and better doctors and specialists.”
Purchasing land for a new facility is only a start, and Hall admitted patience will be needed to create the state-of-the-art facility, complete with potential walking areas, a meditation garden and even a garden area will take time to envision and create.
“Just the front end of getting the plans ready and doing dirt work and things like that will likely take 12-18 months, we’re hopeful,” Hall said. “And then the construction will begin thereafter. Our plan is to get in there after the first of the year and start pushing the trees down and start hauling dirt in.
“We do know we’re going to have to do a good bit of dirtwork, but it’s a great spot and we’re just fortunate that Mr. James (Davison) sold the property to us that will allow us to build the hospital there.”
While Hall declined to give a rough financial estimate for the project, she did provide a hopeful timeline for completion.
“We honestly think that we’re looking at somewhere between four to five years,” Hall said of completion and opening of the new facility. “That’s our goal.”
This year for their Community Service Project, the Simsboro High School Future Business Leaders of America club partnered with the Domestic Abuse Resistance Team (DART) to provide domestic abuse victims with Christmas stockings.
The club hosted a week-long stocking stuffer drive, headed up by President Beatriz Hernandez, historian Kayden Sullivan, and member Harley Dowing, who oversaw this year’s FBLA Community Service Project.
With the help of the Simsboro students, faculty and community, the FBLA club exceeded their goal of 300 items and ended up with a total of 611 stocking stuffers.
Along with a generous donation from Fyzical Therapy and Balance Center in Ruston, the FBLA club was able to stuff 42 stockings for domestic abuse victims this Christmas and want to wish a Merry Christmas to all!
This Best of the LPJ for 2022 story was originally published on January 19, 2022.
By Judith Roberts
One woman’s journey to help her sister grew into a desire to help women around the globe.
Helya Mohammadian, a Ruston High and Louisiana State University graduate, saw a need with her sister Rana and expanded it to the New York-based company Slick Chicks.
“The journey started several years ago after my sister gave birth to my adorable nephew,” Mohammadian said. “Like many women often do, she had complications during labor and had to undergo an emergency C-section. The post-surgery recovery left her feeling debilitated for several weeks. Something as personal as putting on her underwear, she couldn’t do alone. Not wanting to see my sister have such difficulty with her daily routine, I decided it was time to find a solution. Little did I realize that there was a bigger issue here.”
Mohammadian launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the first production, and then she began to receive messages from women with disabilities and chronic illnesses who were preordering the products.
“They shared how adaptive clothing was hard to find, especially products that didn’t look medical, and they were so happy to find functional, yet fashionable underwear,” Mohammadian said. “A product that I would later develop for someone like my sister has served a bigger purpose and impacted the lives of so many people around the world. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that creating this product would change my perspective on something most of us take for granted every day, and that’s getting dressed.”
Mohammadian and her family moved to Ruston from Iran when she was 3 years old, and Mohammadian said she had a passion to be a fashion designer.
“I knew at a very early age that I wanted to be a fashion designer in New York City. I was also exposed to ‘entrepreneurship’ — though I didn’t realize it at the time — because both my parents ran their own businesses,” she said. “Though it wasn’t easy, I made that dream come true when I moved to New York almost 20 years ago. Before Slick Chicks even existed, I had a string of jobs in fashion just trying to find where I fit in. I was a personal shopper at Bergdorf Goodman, working with famous celebrities, well-known socialites and the ‘who’s who’ of New York’s Upper East Side.I worked really hard and did everything I could to get ahead, but there was always an empty feeling inside. I felt extremely unfilled, but in the end it was a blessing in disguise because it led me to create my company.”
Currently, the Slick Chicks team consists of fewer than 10 individuals, the majority of them women.
“We are small, but mighty,” Mohammadian said. “Part of the challenge early on was fundraising and proving that this was a new, but viable market. The other challenge was being a female founder and woman of color looking for funding. I faced many obstacles until I met another female founder and CEO, Michele Gay, whose story resonated with mine as her sister was diagnosed with MS. She saw the great potential and impact this product would have for so many people. So, she created a women’s empowerment fund and made Slick Chicks the first investment.”
Mohammadian said Slick Chicks’ products are made by the people who use them.
“Not only do our products help those with disabilities, but they are also made by people with disabilities thanks to our partnership with MAS, an equal opportunity manufacturer who employs over 380 people with various disabilities,” she said. “We share the same values and mission and we are both working towards inclusivity and equality.”
Starting her own business was a bit intimidating at first, Mohammadian said.
“We were bootstrapped for so many years, with no marketing budget to get the product out there,” she said. “Our biggest challenge was just getting eyes on it. And female founders have a hell of a lot more trouble getting funding than men do. But with passion, focus and a lot of hustle we persevered.”
She said for business, knowing the product better than anyone, knowing the customer and continually learning the market were all key factors to success.
“Starting your own business is like riding a very scary roller coaster,” Mohammadian said. “The lows can be very low, but the highs can be really high. And there is no shortage of either. But you must be strong and get ready to take certain risks.”