BREAKING: Diamond Dogs land former Ruston star Kasten Furr out of transfer portal

Former Ruston High standout Kasten Furr verbally committed to join the Diamond Dogs for the upcoming season after four strong years at UNO. (Photo courtesy of

By Kyle Roberts

Lane Burroughs and the Louisiana Tech baseball program hit pay-dirt in the transfer portal.

Kasten Furr, a former Ruston High School standout and four-year letterwinner at the University of New Orleans (UNO), has verbally committed to play his fifth and final season for his hometown team.

According to Kasten, he committed to Burroughs and the Bulldogs Thursday afternoon.

After entering the transfer portal earlier in the week, Kasten said he drew interest from a number of teams around the country, fielding calls from Oklahoma State, South Carolina, Miami, Nebraska, Southern Miss, Memphis, Tulane, and South Alabama just to name a few.

“It took me by surprise,” said Kasten about the interest during a phone interview Friday afternoon. “I knew I would get some, but I didn’t know the caliber of schools.”

He ultimately chose to be a Bulldog.

“I felt it was the best fit for me to finish out my career and come home where my family can see me play,” said Kasten. “A lot of my family hasn’t seen me play the last four years so I think it’s a great opportunity for them and for me as well.

“Coach Burroughs said I was the type of player he wants and that the program needs. He said they need a mature older guy like me, and he thinks I can help to make them better.”

Kasten will join his younger sister, Allie, who will be a true freshman on the Lady Techster softball program this fall.

“I think it will be cool,” said Kasten. “It will be different seeing her around campus. I will get to see her play, which I haven’t gotten a chance to do because I have been so busy playing. So I can see her play and live out her dream. It will be awesome.”

Kasten is considered one of the top defensive shortstops in college baseball — and has the offensive game to complement it.

The son of Chip and Heather Furr, Kasten is a two-time all-Southland Conference shortstop who hit .296 for the Privateers over the past four seasons, collecting 205 hits, including 27 doubles, four triples and 11 home runs.  He totaled 183 runs and 74 RBI while registering 20 steals.

He led the Southland Conference in runs this year with 66 and ranked second last season with 64. He also ranked Top 20 in the Southland this year in walks (35), hits (64) and stolen bases (9).

This past season saw Kasten rank among the nation’s best defensively at the shortstop position. While starting all 60 games for UNO, he committed just one error in 255 attempts for an eye-popping .996 fielding percentage. He recorded 99 putouts and 155 assists.

His 155 assists ranked 4th in the SLC, and he was a part of 43 double plays which ranked third in the league. Kasten’s .996 fielding percentage ranked best out of any player who had 50 or more assists and was the best among every-day starting shortstops in the entire country.

Kasten started 168 of the past 170 games for the Privateers over the last three years.

He was a four-time all-district and two-time all-state selection at Ruston High.

Kasten is currently playing for the Wilmar Stingers in the Northwood League while taking three online summer classes in order to finish his degree in business from UNO.

Grambling to induct 15th Legends Class on July 8


By T. Scott Boatright

Eleven former Grambling State University athletes will be inducted into the 15th Class of The Grambling Legends Sports Hall of Fame on July 8 inside the Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center.

Jason Hatcher, Jesse O’Neal, Jimmie Roe, and Andre Robinson will represent the sport of football. They will be joined by former Grambling basketball stars Shrieka Evans and Kenneth Sykes; former baseball standouts Courtney Duncan and James Thompson; former golfer Richard Brown; former head track coach and longtime football assistant coach Ed Stevens, and philanthropist Thomas Moorehead, who will be inducted in the contributor category.

The 2023 Grambling Legends Sports Hall of Fame weekend festivities will include a 4:30 p.m. press conference on July 7 at the Eddie G. Robinson Museum followed by a “meet and greet” with the current and former inductees talking with the general public beginning at 5 p.m. in the Doris Robinson Hall of the museum.

At 6 p.m. on July 8, the Hall of Fame enshrinement dinner and induction will lead off with a “Parade of Stars” in addition to captivating video tributes of each inductee.

A variety of nominees were considered for the 2023 class in the categories of player student-athlete, and contributor. During the induction ceremonies special recognition will also be given to individuals and teams that have made significant contributions to college sports at Grambling State University, especially during the academic year of 2022-23.


During his collegiate career, from 1977 to 1981, Robinson became the first defensive player to be named as Grambling State’s Most Valuable Player and helped lead the G-Men to three straight SWAC championships.

Roe, played center for the Tigers and earned second-time All-Southwestern Athletic Conference accolades in 1974 and ’75 while O’Nea, A native of Crowley, played defensive lineman for the G-Men and was a fifth-round draft pick of the Houston Oilers in 1975 who moved to to play in the Canadian Football League from 1975 to 1979 during his career with the British Columbia Lions, Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Saskatchewan Roughriders. He had one career interception as a Tiger-Cat in 1979. 

Robinson was a standout linebacker who was named the Bayou Classic’s Most Valuable Player in 1980 during the Tigers’ 43-6 victory over the Southern Jaguars. The following year, he was a consensus All-American selection by the Associated Press, Kodak, The Sporting News and the Sheridan Press and also was named the SWAC’s Defensive Player of the Year. 

He later served as a linebackers coach, defensive coordinator and interim head coach (2004) for the G-Men.

Hatcher started at tight end for the G-Men in 2013 and caught one pass for 14 yards and a two-point conversion before being gradually converted to defensive end midway through the season. 

After the switch he earned a starting position, recorded 13 tackles, three sacks and one pass broken up. In 2004, as a junior, he played his first full season at defensive end and finished with 33 tackles,10 takedowns for losses and five sacks.

As a senior, Hatcher helped his team win the conference title with an undefeated record (9-0) and a co-Black college football national championship (11-1 overall), while having an outstanding year of his own, recording 65 tackles and 10 sacks, and being named an All-SWAC selection. He finished his college career with 111 tackles, 31.5 for losses and 18.5 sacks.

Hatcher was drafted in the third round (92nd overall) of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. He played in Dallas until 2014, when he became a Washington Redskin for his final two seasons.

He finished his NFL career with 250 tackles, 34 1/2 sacks, nine pass breakups, one interception and five forced fumbles.

Sykes, a 6-4 shooting guard,  was the SWAC Newcomer of the Year and a second team all-conference selection as a sophomore in 1992–93.He earned second-team all-conference accolades as a junior before being named the SWAC Player of the Year as a senior, averaging  averaged a conference-leading 26.3 points per game as well as 4.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists.

He was selected in the 1995 Continental Basketball Association draft by the Yakima Sun Kings in the third round (42nd overall) and also played in the United States Basketball League for the Florida Sea Dragons.

Sykes eventually became an assistant men’s basketball coach at Grambling State and was the interim head coach for a brief time after the 2007–08 season ended. Today he serves as a high school coach at Woodlawn High School in Shreveport. 

Evans was the NCAA Division I Women’s 3-point field goal leader in 1999-2000 and 2000-21 and also led Division I in steals in 2002. The 5-10 native of Lisbon connected on 391 of 1,297 long-range shots during her college career for a 31.9 3-point shooting percentage.

As a sophomore in 1995, Duncan was named to the All-Southwestern Athletic Conference Baseball First Team and was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 20th round of the 1996 Major League Baseball draft.

He played two seasons for the Cubs, going 3-3 with a 4.80 earned run average and 50 strikeouts.

Thompson was also a pitcher who occasionally filled in at first base, too. The Houston native both started and served as a reliever/closer for the G-Men in the early to mid 1980s..

In May of 2018, Brown became the first African American to earn PGA Master professional designation and his induction also makes him the first golfer to ever be inducted into the Grambling Legends Sports Hall Of Fame. Brown serves with the PGA of America in Frisco, Texas, in the Education Department, as a faculty member and has been a member of the PGA for 18 years.

Brown is a PGA member of the North Texas Section, who earned PGA Certified Professional status in 2017, and has been recognized as a U.S. Kids Top 50 Junior Instructor.

Stevens, who is a Rosamond, California, native, was the head coach of the GSU track and field team during the late 1960s and early ’70s. Stevens led his Lady Tigers to a Women’s Track and Field Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship in 1975. 

He also served for 18 seasons as an assistant coach on the football staff of the late Tigers’ legendary coach, Eddie Robinson. 

Moorehead, who served as GSU’s Spring 2016 graduation keynote speaker, earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1966. In 1971, he earned a master of social work degree from the University of Michigan, where he is six credits short of completing a doctoral degree in education to program.

His diverse career path led Moorehead to become a master entrepreneur, and  in December 2013 he  became the first African American awarded a Rolls-Royce franchise. 

In 2004, Moorehead and his wife, Joyce Anne, formed a charitable foundation to support underserved communities in the Washington metropolitan area. The Foundation has provided more than $400,000 in scholarships for college- bound high school seniors and emergency grants to matriculating college students, as well as assistance to working families and non-profit organizations in the region.

For information about the Grambling Legends Sports Hall of Fame or to secure tickets ($80 each) and/or to purchase ads, contact Dr. Ruby D. Higgins at 318-243-7557 or via email at



Parish resident places in Top 8 finalists at national competition

By Emma Stone

Formerly known as America’s Junior Miss, the 66th annual Distinguished Young Women scholarship hosts the largest competition for high school girls.

This year’s competition was held in Mobile, Alabama, and one girl was chosen for each state.

Rosie Shultz, parish resident and Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts in Natchitoches senior, represented the state of Louisiana and placed in the top eight finalists.

“Making top eight in the country was incredible,” said Shultz. “And it was so rewarding to see all my hard work pay off.”

Shultz took home $8,500 in scholarship money after competing in five categories: scholastics, interview, talent, self-expression and fitness.

After reviewing her high school transcript and SAT or ACT test scores, Shultz had a 10-minute interview with a panel of judges, a 90-second performance in which she sang a classical German opera piece and a 20- to 40-second short speech on a given question or topic.  

Lastly, fitness included a 10-minute HIIT routine that included a group portion with an individual spotlight.

“I spent a lot of time preparing for the fitness routine,” said Shultz. “I also spent time practicing my talent, doing mock interviews and practicing speaking on the spot with random self-expression prompts.”

While in Mobile, most of the time was spent doing service projects, touring colleges and sightseeing. An opening number was rehearsed every night leading up to the competition, so Shultz became close with the other girls. 

“I got to meet some of the most intelligent and talented young women from across the country,” said Shultz. “I’ve made connections and friendships that I know will be incredibly valuable for my professional career.”

Shultz leaned back on her community, family members and mentors to push her forward for the competition. 

“I’d like to thank my family Deanna McCallum, Sarah Katherine McCallum Cox, Marianna Easley, Dr. Steele Moegle, Lisa Benner and Dr. Jenna Carpenter,” said Shultz. “And my experiences with Ruston Community Theatre, Speech and Debate and the Artist in Training Program at the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts.”

Results for the competition put Shultz at receiving five different scholarship awards which were for the Louisiana State Winner, Bork Family Justice Award, Self-Expression Preliminary Winner and Top Eight Overall Finalist.

Raid snares convicted felon with drugs, guns

A raid on a Ruston residence Tuesday morning resulted in one arrest and the recovery of a variety of narcotics.

The Lincoln Parish Narcotics Enforcement Team, accompanied by the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team, executed a search warrant at a duplex on Fisher Lane as part of an investigation of illegal drug distribution.

During the search, over 1,800 grams of marijuana, 100 grams of synthetic marijuana, 1,099 MDMA tablets, cocaine, promethazine liquid, methamphetamine, tramadol tablets, and gabapentin were discovered.

In addition, three firearms, including a Glock pistol reported stolen in Monroe, THC edibles, drug paraphernalia, and ammunition were seized.

The target of the investigation, Kevin D. Holland, 46, was arrested at the scene. Holland had been convicted and subsequently paroled under the name of Kevin Carter for distribution of marijuana, making it illegal for him to possess a firearm.

Holland was booked at the Lincoln Parish Detention Center for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of MDMA with intent to distribute, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, two counts of possession of a legend drug with intent to distribute, illegal carrying of a weapon, and illegal possession of a stolen firearm.

Bail was set at $145,000.

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. 


Celebrating 20 years of Legacy Outpatient Therapy Services

Chase Patterson, PT, Cody Lambert, PTA, and Jordan Taylor, DPT

LOTS, Legacy Outpatient Therapy Services, is the outpatient therapy component of Legacy Rehabilitation. Since 2003, we have been honored to serve Ruston and its surrounding communities. LOTS is locally owned and operated by therapists who call Ruston home. 

Our friendly, dedicated, and knowledgeable staff has over 75 years of combined experience providing Physical and Occupational Therapy Services. Our staff has continued their education with post-grad certifications in various manual techniques, Dry Needling, the 180 System®, and Titleist Performance Institute (TPI), to name a few. We are also the proud provider of rehabilitation for Louisiana Tech Athletics.

Thank you for letting us be your home for Trusted Therapy Solutions for the last 20 years. We’re looking forward to many more years of providing exceptional care and helping our patients get back to doing the activities they love, pain-free. 

This is a paid advertorial.

Hot Grill Summer, Season 2, Vol. 3 – Summer Rib Rerun 

Note: This is a rerun HGS.

Why? Because this rib recipe warrants seconds!

And it’s still insanely hot outside just like last year, so you deserve a recipe that you can put outside and not have to stand over for hours on end and risk your own health and safety.

This baby-back rib recipe is fantastic, and not time consuming at all. I’ve cooked on my wood-pellet grill at a precise temperature for just a couple of hours and then finished off with a glaze. 

As always, thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy! 


1 Slab of ribs 

Your favorite rub (or any McCormick’s Grill Mates will do)

½ cup of honey 

¼ cup of brown sugar 

2 tbsp butter 

Aluminum foil 



  1. Preheat grill to 250 degrees. 
  2. Prepare your ribs by liberally sprinkling the rub over the top side and bottom side. 
  3. Cook on grill for 2 hours (bone side down). 
  4. When the two hours is almost up, melt butter in a small pan over medium low heat. 
  5. Add honey and brown sugar over melted butter. 
  6. Constantly stir until thoroughly mixed. 
  7. Take ribs off grill and put in a sheet of aluminum foil. 
  8. Pour glaze over the meat side of ribs and fully wrap in aluminum foil. 
  9. Place back on grill for 1 hour. 
  10. Take ribs out of foil and cut per bone.
  11. Enjoy! 

Man booked for vandalizing neighbor’s truck

A Dubach man was arrested Monday after he allegedly vandalized a neighbor’s truck.

Deputies from the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office responded to Fuller Loop in Dubach Monday regarding a property damage complaint.

The victims said Michael J. Bakker, 60, struck their truck with a metal pipe and threw a candle at their front porch leaving broken glass everywhere. The victims said they possessed a video of Bakker committing the vandalism.

Bakker was located by deputies and asked why he damaged the truck. He replied that he did not. When told a video existed of the act, Bakker said he suspects one of the victims’ friends of stealing from him, so he wanted to get the victims’ attention.

Bakker was clearly seen hitting the truck with a metal pipe, according to the deputy’s report. Estimate of the damage totaled over $1,000.

Bakker was book that the Lincoln Parish Detention Center for simple criminal damage to property over $1000. Bail was set at $10,000.

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. 


Are you qualified?

The following will test your qualifications to be called a “professional.”

How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator?  Answer: Open the refrigerator, put in the giraffe, and close the door. This question tests whether or not you are doing simple things in a complicated way.

How do you put an elephant in the refrigerator? The incorrect answer is: Open the refrigerator put in the elephant and shut the door.  The correct answer is: Open the refrigerator, take out the giraffe, put in the elephant and close the door. This question tests your foresight.

The Lion King is hosting an animal conference. All the animals attend except one.  Which animal does not attend? The answer is the elephant. He is still in the refrigerator. This tests if you are capable of comprehensive thinking. 

The river is filled with crocodiles. How do you cross it? The correct answer is: You swim it; all the crocodiles are at the animal conference. This question tests your reasoning ability.

If you had all four correct you are qualified to be a professional.

Are you qualified? We want qualified professionals as well as those working in trades. We certainly want our doctors, pilots, plumbers, contractors, lawyers, and auto mechanics to be qualified to do their job. We want to be known as a qualified person in our field of endeavor.

The church is the only organization I know of where the one qualification for membership is that you are unqualified. After we become Christians, we church people spend the rest of our lives trying to qualify for heaven. You might as well give up now. You can do nothing to earn God’s unconditional love. Jesus said, “Whoever is thirsty come to me and I will give him drink.” There are no qualifications to get the drink. There are no exceptions mentioned about who may drink. There is nothing said about gaining qualifications to come back and drink again. Jesus said, “Whosoever will, let them come.” Jesus offered a series of invitations never a list of qualifications. There is nothing we can do, nothing; that qualifies us for His grace.

On Sunday the unqualified gather in church to celebrate this powerful love and grace of God through Jesus. His love and grace move us from being unqualified to children of God. 

Are you qualified?

Weekend events

Each Monday and Friday, the Lincoln Parish Journal will post a list of non-for-profit upcoming events happening in the parish. If you would like to add your event to this list or advertise your for-profit events, please email us at

Saturday, July 1
9 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Ruston Farmers Market

Monday, July 3
11:30 a.m.: Lunch on Us (Presbyterian Church, 212 North Bonner Street., Ruston) — everyone welcome
5:30 p.m.: Ruston City Council meeting
7:30 p.m.: Temple Baptist Freedom Fest 

Tuesday, July 4
Independence Day

Tech softball adds Oregon State transfer

Aubree Seaney is the third P5 transfer to sign with the Lady Techster softball program this summer.

Courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications

The Louisiana Tech Softball team added to its corner infield on Thursday with the addition of first baseman Aubree Seaney.

Seaney arrives in Ruston after spending 2023 at Oregon State. The first baseman spent the 2019-2021 seasons at Tulsa. Seaney gives the Lady Techster lineup another left-handed bat and reliable defense with a career fielding percentage of .989, committing just five errors in 463 total chances.

“We are excited to welcome Aubree to the LA Tech softball family,” LA Tech Head Coach Josh Taylor said. “Aubree is a dynamic defender in addition to possessing a strong left-handed bat. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome her to the Ruston community and Louisiana Tech.”

At Oregon State, Seaney appeared in 27 games, making 20 starts, collecting 10 hits, including one double in addition to three RBI and two runs scored. Seaney collected her first multi-hit game of the season in a 4-0 win over No. 18 Oregon with a pair of singles. She tallied two hits in an 11-1 run-rule win over No. 9 Washington when she singled and doubled in the contest. She also posted a season-high two RBI in a win over BYU.

Before her time in Corvallis, Seaney played at Tulsa, where she appeared in 93 games and made 75 starts as a member of the Golden Hurricane. At Tulsa, she posted a .234 batting average with 51 hits, seven doubles, four home runs, 29 RBI, and 21 runs scored. Seaney collected five multi-hit games as a junior and four multi-hit games in her sophomore season, including three during the first weekend of the season. She made SportsCenter’s Top-10 plays on April 3, 2021, after hitting a walk-off home run off three-time NFCA First Team All-Region selection Alea White in a 5-4 win over No. 22 UCF. Seaney was also named Tulsa Defensive Player of the Year after posting a .996 fielding percentage in 2021.

In the classroom, she was a two-time NFCA Scholar-Athlete while at Tulsa.

“I chose Louisiana Tech because being part of a winning culture is important to me,” Seaney said. “I really liked the coaching staff and believe this will be a great place to finish my career.”

A native of Montverde, Fla., Seaney prepped at Montverde Academy, where she lettered all four years while posting a .502 batting average with 149 runs scored, 124 RBI, 57 doubles, 18 triples, three home runs. At the time of her graduation, she held 12 school records (eight defensive and four offensive). As a senior, she was named the Florida Defensive Player of the Year and garnered first-team all-state honors.

Tech’s Crawford earns all-state honor

Courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications

Louisiana Tech’s Isaiah Crawford was named All-Louisiana Honorable Mention for men’s basketball Thursday in an announcement made by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA).

Crawford, who was a Third Team All-Conference USA selection, came back from a second season-ending knee injury to make 32 starts at forward and lead LA Tech in several categories including points per game (13.7), rebounds per game(5.3), and steals per game (1.9).

The Fort Worth, Texas native was highly efficient at all three levels, shooting 49.5 percent from the field, 42.0 percent from beyond the arc, and 72.7 percent from the free throw line.

He posted 22 double-figure scoring games out of the 32 contests he played and started in. Seven of those eclipsed 20 points, including a season-high 25 points scored on the road at North Texas and at Florida Atlantic.

Defensively, Crawford’s 62 total steals tied for the fourth most in Conference USA and tied for the sixth most in a single season in program history.

Crawford, who was also an Honorable Mention All-Louisiana selection in 2021, ended up being the only player in CUSA to rank in the top 15 in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals, and blocks during league play.

2022-23 LSWA All-Louisiana Men’s Basketball Teams

Player of the Year: Jordan Brown, F, UL-Lafayette

Newcomer of the Year: DeMarcus Sharp, Northwestern State

Freshman of the Year: Jalen Hampton, Northwestern State

Coach of the Year: Bob Marlin, UL-Lafayette

First Team
Jordan Brown, UL-Lafayette
DeMarcus Sharp, Northwestern State
Jalen Brooks, LSU-Shreveport
KJ Williams, LSU
Jalen Cook, Tulane

Second Team
Boogie Anderson, Southeastern
Caleb Huffman, Nicholls State
Jalen Galloway, Loyola
Cameron Christon, Grambling State
Ja’Monta Black, Northwestern State

Third Team
Jordan Johnson, New Orleans
Jaylen Forbes, Tulane
Xavier Reaves, Xavier
Seth Thomas, Centenary
Christian Shumate, McNeese State

Honorable Mention
Isaiah Crawford, Louisiana Tech
Kevin Cross, Tulane
Jalen Hampton, Northwestern State
Bailey Hardy, Louisiana Christian
Latrell Jones, Nicholls State
Greg Williams, Jr., UL-Lafayette

Notice of death — June 29, 2023

Benjamin Williams 
Monday 09/29/1947 — Sunday 06/18/2023  
Family Gathering: Friday 06/30/2023 2:00pm at King’s Funeral Home 
Visitation: Friday 06/30/2023 3:00pm to 6:00pm at King’s Funeral Home 
Wake: Friday 06/30/2023 6:00pm to 7:00pm at King’s Funeral Home 
Celebration of Life: Saturday 07/01/2023 11:00am, Mt. Olive Baptist Church, 521 Mt. Olive Church Road, Grambling 
Interment: Saturday 07/01/2023 Following Service, Grambling Memorial Garden, Highway 80 West, Grambling  

Lizzie Mae Temple 
Tuesday 09/10/1940 — Tuesday 06/20/2023  
Family Gathering: Friday 06/30/2023 2:00pm at King’s Funeral Home 
Viewing: Saturday 07/01/2023 12:00pm to 1:00pm, St. Rest Baptist Church, 831 Saint Rest Road, Quitman 
Celebration of Life: Saturday 07/01/2023 1:00pm, St. Rest Baptist Church, 813 St. Rest Road, Quitman
Interment: Following Service, Mt. Zion Cemetery, Quitman  

Virginia “Tootsie” Colvin 
August 26, 1940 – June 28, 2023 
Services pending 


Playground renovation provides AE Phillips upgraded space, feel

By Malcolm Butler

It’s just a playground.

But in a day and age where many education systems seem to be steering away from things like recess, and PE, and arts and music, AE Phillips Laboratory School Director Jenny Blalock said the on-campus lab school is not.

In fact it’s doubling down on the positive impact of those extracurricular things within an elementary education system.

Thus, the approximate $800,000 investment on the western most playground adjacent to the school, something Blalock said will have a direct impact on the approximately 420 students that call the school home each year and for the many hundreds if not thousands for years to come.

“It’s extremely important,” said Blalock about the project. “The reason why is I believe and our entire faculty believes in the importance of the kids getting out there and playing. It seems like in education these days they are cutting PE, recess, music, art … But we are firm in the fact we are going to protect that. Our kids still get recess everyday. Even our old students have a recess-lunchtime where they are able to get outside.

“Our faculty just did a book study on Teaching with the Brain in Mind. Basically it’s brain-based research. It’s stuff we already knew but it basically supported getting outside and having recess and getting sunlight and having social time. It was going as deep as linking Vitamin D to comprehension scores.”

In fact Blalock said the school had to request approval from the state for the project, and the book helped provide important points used in the defense of the request.

Blalock with the majority of those funds being spent on the dirt work and retaining wall that runs parallel to the school on the western most side of the playground.

Part of the project included new sod on the playground as well as a new drainage system.

“There were drainage issues,” said Blalock. “Prior to Covid we had a year where it rained and the kids didn’t get outside on the playground for almost six weeks.”

Speaking of Covid, federal and state grants due to the pandemic helped kick start the project.

“Some of our funds, not all of them but some of them, funnel through Lincoln Parish,” said Blalock. “That’s money from the states. But when Covid hit, schools were given grants (ESSER) to help and a portion of that could go towards improving outdoor spaces in case you had to do outdoor learning or social distancing. That’s really what gave us the jump start to do this.

“We had some funds available and we felt if we could build upon those, we could make it happen. It was a really large project for a little school to get into. The ESSER money is really what jump started it.”

Elementary school students at AEP look on last spring as work was being done on the lab school’s west side playground. (Courtesy Photo)

Another portion of the money came through a fundraiser where AE Phillips partnered with the College of Education and Louisiana Tech through the ‘Play It Forward’ campaign.

“We reached out to AEP alumni,” said Blalock. “We started a grass roots effort about two years ago getting a database of alumni by going through old yearbooks, talking to people. That (database) is something we didn’t have up until that point.”

Prior to the work on the playground, much of the square footage was taken up by a large hill that ran parallel to the western most side of the playgrounds footprint. That area also include some pine trees that had been on the hill for decades.

“Cutting down the trees, removing the hill and putting the retaining wall up has given us so much more square footage,” said Blalock. “I told someone that for those of us who work here, when we walked out on the playground for the first time, we had the same feeling for our new playground as the first time I walked into Louisiana Tech’s new baseball stadium. I was just like, ‘wow.'”

Blalock said that some of the existing playground equipment will be replaced. The existing piece of equipment on the southern most end of the playground will remain, while the other two pieces — which are much older and beyond worn down after decades of use  — will be replaced.

The school has already ordered the newest piece, and Blalock said it will be installed sometime in September or October (see image below).

“After we get that piece installed, we have some remaining funds to use,” said Blalock. “We want to see how the playground changes with the installation of this new piece, and then we will go from there. We are just going to take methodical steps.”

The school’s second playground located on the east side of the property is next for a facelift, although Blalock said it’s still a ways down the road and won’t be nearly as costly.

“That one is dream that we are still working towards,” said Blalock.

Rendering of the new playground equipment that is scheduled to be installed at AE Phillips in the fall.

Knowledge key to coastal swimming safety

By T. Scott Boatright

Summertime and swimming. The two go hand-in-hand this time of year.

But there’s a third “s” that must be added to that equation, and that’s “safety.”

There’s been all too much bad news about drowning deaths across the nation early on in the summer of 2023.

And unfortunately, but hopefully turning fortunately in the future, many if not most of those deaths can be preventable,

The term “rip tide” has been often-used by national news networks so far this summer. But that’s not quite accurate. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,  rip currents are different from rip tides. A rip tide is a specific type of current associated with the swift movement of tidal water through inlets and the mouths of estuaries, embayments, and harbors.

So it’s rip currents that have caused some issues along the Gulf Coast, the travel destination of many Lincoln Parish residents during the summertime, early on this summer.

Rip currents are powerful, narrow channels of fast-moving water that are prevalent along the East, Gulf, and West coasts of the U.S., as well as along the shores of the Great Lakes. Moving at speeds of up to eight feet per second, rip currents can move faster than an Olympic swimmer.

Panicked swimmers often try to counter a rip current, powerful, narrow channels of fast-moving water that are prevalent along the East, Gulf, and West coasts of the U.S., as well as along the shores of the Great Lakes, by swimming straight back to shore—putting themselves at risk of drowning because of fatigue.

On Wednesday the Associated Press reported that a firefighter from Georgia and two fathers who drowned while trying to save their children are among at least 10 recent victims of dangerous rip currents along Gulf of Mexico beaches stretching across Florida’s Panhandle to Mobile, Alabama.

Former University of Arkansas standout quarterback Ryan Mallet, who went on to play a few years in the NFL, drowned Tuesday at the age of 35 along the Florida coast, but local officials on Wednesday said rip currents were not observed regarding that incident, but—  yellow caution flags, not double red flags warning of rip currents, were flying at the beach Mallet was on.

Officials say that paying close attention to the beach flag warning system is key to making coastal swimming as safe as possible.

According to the National Weather Service, yellow flags mean some rip current activity is expected and that swimmers should be cautious if entering the water, shouldn’t swim alone, and should know what to do if caught in a rip current. Red flags mean dangerous rip current activity is expected. The rip currents would be likely to be stronger and more frequent.

There are nine types of beach safety flags:

• The Yellow Flag designates a medium hazard when moderate surf and/or currents are present. Weak swimmers are discouraged from entering the water. For others, enhanced care and caution should be exercised.

• The Red Flag designates a high hazard when rough conditions such as strong surf and/or currents are present. All swimmers are discouraged from entering the water. Those entering the water should take great care.

• The Red Over Red (Double Red) Flag designates that Water is closed to public use.

• The Purple Flag designates that marine pests are present. Jellyfish, stingrays, sea snakes, or other marine life are present in the water and can cause minor injuries. This flag is not intended to indicate the presence of sharks. In this latter case, the red flag or double red flag may be hoisted.

• The Red Over Yellow Flag designates a recommended swimming area with lifeguard supervision and that the area is protected by lifeguards. These flags may be used in pairs spaced apart to indicate a designated area or zone along a beach or waterfront that is most closely supervised or patrolled by qualified lifeguards and where swimming and/or body surfing is permitted. These flags may be used singly to indicate that swimming is permitted in front of the area where the flag is flown and that the area is under the supervision of a qualified person.

• The Black and White Quartered Flag designates a watercraft area. These flags may be used in pairs spaced apart to indicate a designated area or zone along a beach or waterfront used by those with surfboards and other non-powered watercraft.

• The Black Ball Flag designates that Watercraft, including surfboards and non-powered watercraft, are prohibited.

• The Sun Warning Flag, a black flag with a black ball surrounded by circles indicating coronal waves, indicates a high level of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, presenting a high risk of developing melanoma, i.e., skin cancer, and that beach-goers should stay out of the sun by finding some shade.

• The Orange Windsock Flag indicates that offshore winds present, inflatables should not be used This cone-shaped device is used to indicate the direction of offshore winds and to show that it is unsafe for inflatable objects to be used in the water.

Officials say that knowing how to swim and what level a person can swim are also key to coastal safety, and that there are warning signs when rip currents are present.

According to, People should avoid swimming or wading near the shore where waves aren’t breaking, or where there are flat spots in the line of breaking waves, because those are be signs of rip currents.

Another indication of a rip current might be where there’s foam or sediment in the water being transported away from the beach offshore.

That websites offers the following tips should a swimmer find themselves caught up in a rip current:

• Relax; rip currents don’t pull you under

• Don’t try to swim back to shore against the current

• Swim parallel to the shore until out of the current.

• If you can’t escape, float or tread water until you escape the current or are rescued.

• If you need help, draw attention to yourself by yelling and waving for assistance

• Relax! Don’t panic

• Call for assistance by yelling to those on shore

• Swim parallel to shore to get out of the rip current also offers the following tips for those on a beach seeing a swimmer caught in a rip current:

• Don’t become a victim yourself.

• Call a lifeguard

• If a lifeguard isn’t available, call 911.

• Throw the person something that floats (like a lifejacket, body board, inflatable tube or raft)

• Don’t enter the water without a flotation device

• Those on the beach can also yell instructions to the person on how to escape the rip current until help arrives

Ruston High installing classroom, school-wide cameras along with other upgrades

By Kyle Roberts

Ruston High School’s classrooms, hallways and entry-points are being installed with a new camera system in efforts to increase security for students and staff on campus.

The current plan is for installation to begin within the next three weeks, which coincides with the current gymnasium upgrade construction.

Each classroom will now be equipped with a camera that will also have recorded audio capabilities.

“Our camera system that we have been running for years is a combination of three different companies,” Ruston High School principal Dan Gressett said. “So when we’ve had issues with cameras, first, we have to figure out who installed it and call on them. Then, you’re trying to replace and repair outdated material. And when people come to replace it, they get frustrated because it’s material that can no longer be found.”

The intercom and bell system has run into the same problems as mentioned by Gressett, justifying the need for a full replacement there, as well.

“We’re hoping for the same timeline on both projects,” Gressett said. “Best case scenario, it will be in by the start of school, but possibly early September.

“It makes a difference. We want to make sure that we do not have an area in this entire school that we don’t have eyes on.”

Funding for the upgrades come from the Community Outreach Policing Services grant.

The intercom will be installed by DCS Telecom, while the cameras will be installed by ProVision.

Victim of fire hit again with theft from damaged house

Police arrested two men and a woman Saturday morning after the three allegedly looted a fire-damaged house on Davis Boulevard in south Ruston.

Officers responded to a report of people stealing items out of the unoccupied house that recently burned. A vehicle occupied by three Ruston residents was found backed up to the house.

Officers reported they were told by the three that they have stopped at the house because their car was overheating. The three denied entering the house.

However, witnesses reported the trio did enter the house and removed items. One neighbor said the suspects took three lawnmowers from the residence earlier that morning. 

A search of the car discovered small amounts of methamphetamine and marijuana and a container of articles believed stolen from the house. The victim identified items in the car as stolen.

Orlanda Outley, 56; Andrea M. Moore, 33; and Sanquetta Craft, 32, were arrested.

Outley and Moore were booked for looting, possession of methamphetamine, possession of marijuana, and theft. Moore was also booked for resisting an officer by providing false information.

Outley’s bail was set at $13,500 and Moore’s at $14,000.

Craft was booked for looting and possession of methamphetamine and marijuana. Her bail was set at $12,500.

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. 


Cougar Stadium field getting overhaul in preparation for upcoming season

New drainage, sod and LED lights are coming to Cougar Stadium this fall.

By Malcolm Butler

With the start of the regular season just over two months away, first year head coach William Parkerson is staring out the windows of his office numerous times a day.

Parkerson is keeping an eye on the progress at Cougar Stadium as the surface of the field is getting a complete overhaul this summer.

“They killed the grass and brought in top soil,” said Parkerson. “And they will re-sod it. You can see some big trenches out there (right now) as they are putting in some pretty heavy duty drainage pipes. That will help drain it quicker so we aren’t standing in a Creek on the sideline.”

Cedar Creek is set to open the regular season at home Sept. 1 when it hosts Glenbrook. It will be the first of six home games for the Cougars.

Parkerson is familiar with what happens at Cougar Stadium when it rains. And it hasn’t been pretty, especially the last few years when it seems most Cougar home games include some of the wet stuff courtesy of Mother Nature.

“The middle of the hashes would hold water,” said Parkerson. “Obviously, the crown had been wallowed out. And then both sidelines would hold water. The middle of the field and the sidelines would be wet. Between the hashes would be fine.”

Parkerson said this week has seen a flurry of progress on the field, something he is pleased about.

“They have come a long way this week,” said Parkerson. “This is as much progress as I’ve seen, and it has gone quick this week.”

The timeline calls for the new sod to be laid within the next week to two weeks. And according to Parkerson, once the sod is laid it has to sit for six weeks before any action can take place on it.

“Everyone says it will be ready for week No. 1,” Parkerson said. “I have not hit a panic button yet.”

Cougar fans will also see new LED lights coming to the stadium this fall.

“We are supposed to have the new LED lights and the poles in before the first home game,” said Parkerson.

The projects at Cougar Stadium are a part of the school’s $5 million athletic capital campaign announced in May.

The Cougars will play in the Bayou Jamb against Mangham on August 26 at 3 p.m. at Rebel Stadium in West Monroe before opening up the season the following Friday night against Glenbrook.

Disturbance prompts drug charges

A woman was arrested Monday afternoon after Lincoln Parish deputies responded to a disturbance at a Tarbutton Road mobile home park.

Deputies responded after receiving two calls about a woman creating a disturbance. The two individuals involved were separated but the third call was received that the woman had returned to the scene with a knife.

When deputies arrived, Kimberly Renee Lasky, 31, fled out the back door. She was found hiding under the mobile home. Lasky had in her possession a box of suspected marijuana, various drug paraphernalia, and a prescription pill bottle with no label containing hydrocodone tablets.

Lasky was transported to the Northern Louisiana Medical Center, and upon release, was taken to the Lincoln Parish Detention Center where she was booked for possession of marijuana, possession of a Schedule II controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, resisting an officer, and disturbing the peace. 

Bail was set at $3,000.

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. 


Holiday Camp teaches hoops, game of life

Pictured is Justin Holiday talking with younger campers during the NBA player’s free camp he holds annually with the Boys and Girls Clubs of North Louisiana. (Photo by T. Scott Boatright)


By T. Scott Boatright

When it comes to giving back to local youth in recent years, Dallas Mavericks guard/forward Justin Holiday has been consistent in turning in winning efforts here in Lincoln Parish.

But this year’s sixth-annual Justin Holiday Basketball Camp, held Saturday at Louisiana Tech University’s Lambright Health and Wellness Center, made a bigger slam dunk impact than ever before.

That’s because for the first time, this year’s camp was held free to attend for children ages 6-13.

Holiday, who attended HIllcrest Elementary School and A.E. Phillips School before his parents moved the family back to California, has long had ties to Lincoln Parish, from his grandparents living in the area to marrying a Ruston High School graduate – Shekinah Siegmund Holiday.

“I’m going to give back to this community as long as I possibly can,” Holiday said. “My wife grew up here. I lived here. This is alway going to be a special play for me.

“Small places don’t always offer – can’t always offer – opportunities like this where an NBA can give that. I’ve been blessed with a great family. I’ve been blessed to be able to live my dream and play in the NBA. I’ve been blessed with this opportunity to give back to a community that I lived in while growing up. Those are some big blessings I have to take advantage of.”

Holiday stressed that his basketball camp has never been about the money.

“Even when the camps charged for attendance in the past, it wasn’t about making,” Holiday said. “It was about making money for the Boys and Girls Clubs of North Central Louisiana. But it’s grown enough now so that now I can give back two ways because the Boys and Girls Clubs still make money because we’ve been able to evaluate the number of kids, and maybe most importantly, reach the kids who need reaching the most.”

Boys and Girls Clubs of North Central Louisiana CEO Eldonta Osborne said the fact that the Holiday Basketball Camp continues to grow is proof of the impact it’s making on area youth.

“The consistency he’s shown by coming back year after year shows up in the numbers of campers we have,” Osborne said. “And it’s exciting to be able to give kids something that they really look forward to. 

“We get a lot of repeat kids that keep coming back, but this year we got a lot of new kids. One of the things we talked about with Justin going into this year was making it free without taking away from the quality of the camp. And I think what we’ve produced with the camp exhibits that – all the volunteers, and staff, and Justin and all the time he puts in, makes this special. He always makes this a priority.”

Janet Wilson, Director of Resource Development of the B&GC of North Central Louisiana, said the change was made at Holiday’s request.

“He just felt like in today’s economy, where parents are struggling to buy groceries and gas, we needed to try and do it like this and see what happens,” Wilson said. “And it’s been awesome. I know he has family here, but for Justin to put in the commitment and spend so much time making this happen for all of these kids, is amazing.

“Yet he’s one of the most humble people I’ve ever met. He just keeps saying these kids need to realize that if he can do it, they can do it. He just wants to keep giving back. And today all he seems focused on is how we can make it better next year.”

During a rap session where Holiday simply sat and talked with campers, he told them what he hoped they would be taking away from the day’s activities.

“Yes, we’re a basketball camp, but I hope that’s not all that you’re learning here,” Holiday told the youngsters. “I hope you’re learning things that can help you in all parts of life and not just basketball. Basketball is just my way to teach you guys to see that you can teach and encourage others, too

“You guys have learned how to line up, how to play defense, how to shoot and do things right. The coaches in every drill they worked with you on were very particular in what they wanted you to do. The reason why that happens is that for anyone to succeed in life, they have to do things as close to the right way as they possibly can.”

The 34-year-old Holiday was asked what it was like to be playing in NBA games against his younger brothers – 33-year-old Jrue is a Milwaukee Buck while 26-year-old Aaron plays for the Atlanta Hawks,

“Those games against my brothers are always fun,” Holiday said. “It’s just always more fun playing with or even against some that you are comfortable with and love. Those are always big moments when at least two of us have been out on the court together and I love those times.”

He also loves the chance conducting the camps have left lasting relationships with some of the campers.

“There’s a kid who was here at my first camp that’s a point guard at Louisiana Tech right now,” Holiday said (speaking of Jordan Crawford). “A lot of the kids come back year after year, and I’ve gotten kind of a chance to see them grow up a little bit, it kind of hits home. It makes me feel that I really am making an impact.

“And that only makes me want to do more.”

Davison earns promotion at Louisiana Insurance Services

Layne Davison recently earned a promotion to Vice President of Louisiana Insurance Services.

Teamwork is often an integral aspect in the success of relationships, community, work, sports, and life in general.

Adam Ewing, president of Louisiana Insurance, understands this concept well and has been building a team to help maximize growth throughout the state since buying his father Terry out of the family business in January of 2018. 

Layne Davison was recently promoted to Vice President of Louisiana Insurance. His main task will be overseeing commercial accounts while also working closely with Adam in heading company operations. 

Davison is a native of Shrevport, Louisiana where he attended Byrd High School. He  holds an undergraduate degree from Louisiana Tech University as well as a MBA. He credits his time spent in Ruston during college to giving him the desire to put down roots and start his family here.

“I just fell in love with being in Ruston; the community, the Bridge Church and Tech Athletics were all big parts of that” Davison said. 

Ewing and Davison met through a mutual friend, had a very informal meeting to discuss a future job position and the rest is history.

“I’m always looking for quality people who possess the right kind of intangibles: they’re compassionate, honest, driven and reliable,” said Ewing. “I could see that in Layne straight away and knew if I didn’t hire him at that time it would be a missed opportunity.”

Ewing believes Davison’s promotion makes their team stronger than ever.

“We get to help people in times of crisis and be a calming influence. I always saw that quality in my dad and Layne shares it as well. I couldn’t be more excited to have him on my team. “

You can reach Adam or Layne at Louisiana Insurance Services at 2814 North Trenton Street or by calling 318-251-1711 or going to Louisiana Insurance Services 

This is a PAID Advertorial

LSP offers assistance in case of vehicle breakdown

Vehicle breakdowns can be unexpected. The Louisiana State Police advise if motorists find themselves stranded during 4th of July holiday travels, they can dial *LSP (*577) to contact the nearest LSP Troop for assistance. Individuals can also report dangerous roadway conditions or drivers they may encounter along the way.

LSP suggests that motorists limit breakdowns and delays by making sure their vehicle is roadworthy before a trip. Check tire tread/pressure, wiper blades, lights and fluid levels.

Also slow down and move over for stopped emergency vehicles, tow trucks and vehicles with their hazards on.

To see the latest roadway closures in Louisiana, download the Louisiana 511 app or dial 511.

COLUMN: America’s inheritance 

By Brad Dison

John and his wife, Mary, were expecting a child.  Like his father, also named John, John was a clergyman in the 13 colonies.  He was the pastor of the United First Parish Church in Quincy, Massachusetts.  Finally, on January 23, 1737, the child was born.  As you might expect, John and Mary named the boy John.  This made him John III.

When John III was just seven years old, his father died and Mary sent John III to live with his aunt Lydia and uncle Thomas, who had no children of their own.  Thomas owned a successful shipping company that imported manufactured goods from England and exported goods such as rum and whale oil.  After graduating from Boston Latin School, John III enrolled in Harvard College, his father’s alma mater. In 1754, John III earned a bachelor’s degree and began working for his uncle Thomas. 

In the same year John III graduated from Harvard, the North American colonies, then part of the British Empire entered into a conflict against the French in what is known as the French and Indian War.  Thomas’s business thrived during the war as he was able to secure numerous government contracts for shipping supplies to support the war effort.  All the while, Thomas was training John III to become a partner in the business, but in 1762, Thomas’s health began to fail.  In the following year, John III became a full partner in the shipping company.  In August 1764, Thomas died.  John III inherited his uncle’s business and became one of the wealthiest men in the colonies.

The British Empire won the French and Indian War, but the victory put the country deep in debt.  The British Empire enacted several acts or taxes, such as the Sugar Act of 1764 and the Stamp of 1765, to raise much-needed revenue.  John III ignored the Stamp Act.  In May 1766, John III’s ship Boston Packet “was the first ship that cleared out at this port [Boston], without stamped papers… and we hear was entered at the custom house in London without any the least difficulty.”  Once officials in London began giving John III’s ships difficulty, he boycotted their goods altogether.  Word spread quickly of John III’s snubbing the mother country and he was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives. 

In the following year, Parliament passed the Townshend Acts which was another tax on various imported goods and John III became a target for customs officials.  In 1768, customs officials boarded a ship owned by John III without a search warrant.  John III refused to allow the customs officials below decks to search the ship.  Customs officials wanted to file charges against John III for smuggling, but the case was dropped for lack of evidence.  John III’s supporters contended that John III’s refusal was the first act of resistance against Parliament and was the act which initiated the American Revolution.    

In May 1775, John III was unanimously elected President of the Continental Congress.  He was presiding when a fellow Massachusetts delegate nominated George Washington as commander-in-chief of the continental army.  In the following year, the colonies declared independence and John III was one of the main financiers of the American Revolution.  If the series of events had not taken place which enabled John III to inherit his uncle’s fortune and shipping company, the American Revolution might never have taken place and we might have remained British subjects.

John III also snubbed the mother country when he signed the Declaration of Independence.  By signing this document, all 56 signers knew that they would certainly be executed if America lost the war.  Of all the 56 signatures, John III’s is the largest, the most flamboyant, and the most prominent on the page.  John III’s signature became a part of popular culture.  Even today, nearly two and a half centuries later, when someone asks for a signature, they sometimes ask for John III’s signature.  They ask you for your John Hancock.     


1.     The Pennsylvania Gazette, May 8, 1766, p.2.

2.     The Pennsylvania Gazette, May 29, 1766, p.2.

3.     Maryland Gazette, June 12, 1766, p.1.

4.     Thomas Jefferson, et al, July 4, 1776, Declaration of Independence.