Counseling services, more provided at GSU to support students, employees 

On an off-campus partners have rallied together to support wellness and recovery efforts at Grambling State University (GSU) following shooting incidents that occurred Oct. 13 and 17.

In addition to the GSU Counseling Center, assistance is being provided by counselors from the University of Louisiana System and Reframing for Life, LLC. The GSU Student Center will continue providing counseling sessions in small groups, virtually, and one-on-one meetings for students, faculty, and staff. Campus Living and Housing are also continuing to conduct daily Wellness Room Checks. I.D checks will continue at campus entry points to restrict non-student access to campus. 

Classes were also canceled for Monday, Oct. 18, and Tuesday, Oct. 19. GSU administrators met with student leaders to determine the implementation of a campus-wide curfew that will be in effect from 9:30 p.m. through 6 a.m. until further notice. 

McCall Dining Center revised its hours of operation to 6 a.m. through 9:30 p.m. daily and retail locations will remain open during their regular hours. 

The “Stronger Together” initiative created by GSU student leaders has been embraced by the campus community and serves as the unifying theme for all engagements and outreach activities. 

GSU President Rick Gallot said university officials are focused on providing support to students on campus and employees to create a safe space to dedicate to mental wellness.  Activities include a breakfast dialogue with the

Office of Campus Living and Housing at several residence halls, a mental health discussion via Zoom and listening sessions hosted by the Office of Student Affairs. 

One of the things Gallot has committed to doing is dedicating October 17-23 to fasting and prayer. A daily zoom call at noon with students, faculty, and staff has been established as another way to connect daily to join in prayer to heal the campus and the community. 

Gallot said he is dedicated to continual improvement at Grambling State University and doing everything possible to foster the safe, supportive environment the campus deserves. 

“I start each day with the understanding that our students come here for an education and far too often it’s outsiders who have created these situations that have put life and limb in danger,” he said. “That’s not why we’re here. That’s not what we’re about after 120 years, and so again, our priority is keeping our students safe.” 

Both incidents are under investigation by Louisiana State Police (LSP). Any information regarding them should be sent to LSP at (318) 345-0000 or GSUPD (318) 274-2222. 

Some victims of recent shootings identified

Investigations into three recent homicides, including two on the Grambling State University campus, are continuing with some information now available on the victims.

Victims in the Oct. 16 shooting at the Peachland Mobile Home Park on U. S. Highway 80 have been identified. Killed in the incident was Zelanz Richard French, 23, of Shreveport. Also injured in the shooting was D’Nique Walker, 22, Shreveport.

French was a former Green Oaks High School athlete, playing basketball and football, including some time as the Giants’ quarterback. Walker played football when he attended Southwood High.

The Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Department stated the shooting apparently arose from an argument over a $5 fee when French attempted to park at the mobile home park to attend a GSU Homecoming afterparty nearby. 

Sheriff Stephen Williams said no connection has been made between the GSU shootings and the Peachland homicide other than related to Homecoming events. The second campus homicide came just hours after the mobile home park shooting.

The Sheriff’s Department has asked that anyone with information pertaining to this crime to call the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office at 318-251-5111. Information can also be submitted to CrimeStoppers of Lincoln Parish by calling 318-255-1111 anonymously.   

Little information has been released on the wounded from the two GSU shootings each resulting in one death. Both of the dead were non-students. In a Sunday press conference, officials noted in addition to the deaths, one person was wounded in the Oct. 14 incident and seven on Oct. 17. 

Victims of the first campus shooting on Oct. 14 have been identified by Louisiana State Police. A 16-year-old juvenile from Rayville was injured and 19-year-old Damarius Murphy, also of Rayville, died from a gunshot wound.

Of the seven wounded in the Sunday morning incident, one victim was in critical condition and the remaining six had non-life-threatening injuries. Only one of the wounded was a GSU student. 

GSU head softball coach Nakeya Hall related on social media that her assistant coach Chelsea Holliday was one of the victims wounded in the Sunday shooting. Hall wrote on Facebook that Holliday’s surgery was successful and that the assistant “is one of the strongest people I know.” Hall added, “I appreciate all the calls and text messages from everyone. The outpouring of support and love has been greatly appreciated.”

Louisiana State Police are investigating the two GSU incidents in conjunction with local agencies.

Panthers confident heading into week seven

By T. Scott Boatright

After suffering a frustratingly bad performance last week against Homer at the Jonesboro-Hodge football stadium, one might think Lincoln Preparatory School coach Glen Hall and his Panthers might be a little down on themselves.

Think again.

Hall admits that the Panthers flat out played poorly last week in the 60-13 loss to the Pelicans.

But he’s also seen his team, now 4-3 overall and 3-3 in District 1-1A ,shake off such poor performances against good teams more than once this season before rebounding with strong showings the following week.

Hall believes Panthers fans will see exactly that as Lincoln Prep plays at the Magnolia School of Excellence on Friday night in Shreveport.

“We’ve got a good fan base,” Hall said, “We had a good following go to Jonesboro to see us play Homer. Coach (Eddie Robinson) always said when it comes to your fan base, ‘They’re paying their money, so they want to see a show.’ We’ve got to play hard and put on that kind of show. Our players know that is what is expected this week.”

Part of Hall’s positive thinking is that he likes where his Panthers are moving toward the final part of the regular season.

“This thing is, and I’ve told the team, we’re still in good position,” Hall said. “Right now I think we’re looking at a 7-3 or 6-4 record (if the Panthers can win two of their next three). That might give us a Top 12 seeding in the playoffs. We have Magnolia, Plain Dealing and Haynesville left. If we can regain our focus, and play the way we’ve at times shown we can play this season, I like our chances in being able to win at least two of those and get a good playoff spot. 

“I really thought we would have played better against Homer, so we have to shake that off. But I believe in this team and the fact that they’re still learning and getting better. I think our best football is still ahead of us.”

Hall realizes that it’s all about the start for the Panthers. Lincoln Prep trailed big in the first quarter of all three of its losses — at Glenbrook, and Calvary Baptist and last week vs. Homer.

“That’s something we need to focus on — we have to,” Hall said. “That’s what cost us in all three losses — digging holes too deep to crawl out of. We have to focus on playing well early and not making the mental mistakes that can snowball and let a game get out of hand early. In the three losses, we had the wind taken out of our sails early on. We can’t let that happen in these next three games. We have to come out focused and prepared to execute from the opening kick until the final seconds of the game.”

When starting quarterback Ta’Rell Simmons left the game in the second quarter last week, Braylin Mayfield moved over from receiver and took over behind center for the Panthers and impressed Hall and his staff.

Simmons returned later in last week’s game, and on Friday against Magnolia, Hall expects to play both.

“We’ll use a two-quarterback system,” Hall said Tuesday. “We’ve had good practices this week and Simmons is back up to about 80 percent. Simmons makes things happen with his running ability, even if that sets up the pass for him. But Mayfield shows he can be comfortable back there and can really throw the ball.

“For Ta’Rell, it’s been a sacrifice thing. He knows it. He’s doing what’s best for the team. But what he is, especially as colleges look at him, is an athlete. So we’ll use them both throwing, catching and running the football. This team has bought into working for and sacrificing for each other. And that’s why I still believe we have our best football yet to be played.”

La governor chooses Ruston resident on Sparta conservation district


Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced boards and commissions appointments, and a Lincoln Parish resident, as well as a Jackson Parish resident, have been chosen to serve on the Sparta Groundwater Conservation District. 

The Sparta Groundwater Conservation District is to conserve, protect, restore and maintain the Sparta Formation Aquifer as a continuing source of high quality, potable water for current and future consumers. The District adheres to this purpose by promoting conservation measures and developing alternative sources of fresh water, pursuant to the authority and responsibility granted by the State of Louisiana. 

Milton E. Melton, of Ruston, represents Lincoln Parish on the District, and Regina H. Rowe, of Jonesboro, represents Jackson Parish. 

Both are reappointments to the Sparta Groundwater Conservation District. 

Melton works in telecommunications for Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise. Rowe serves on the Jackson Parish Police Jury.  

The Sparta Aquifer is the major source of groundwater for all or part of 16 parishes in north central Louisiana – meaning that almost a quarter of a million individuals in that area rely on the Sparta for their drinking water.  

Teacher Feature: Ruston Elementary’s Sunny Mitchell shares her journey of becoming a teacher  

By Alexis Newman

While some may know from a young age what profession they would like to pursue, sometimes a person’s life experiences shape their decision and take them places they may not have expected. One such example is Sunny Mitchell.

Having taught for 10 years, Mitchell currently teaches third grade math at Ruston Elementary School. Although she loves her job as a teacher, she didn’t always have an interest in the career.

Originally, Mitchell got her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Louisiana Tech in 2006, but after taking a few years off and going back to get her master’s degree, she decided to go into education instead. Mitchell had volunteered at the Special Olympics for years along with her mother, and her experience of attending the event and connecting with the students who attended inspired her to pursue special education specifically.

“The more I thought about what I wanted to do, the more I felt a pull towards Special Education. Prior to that I had never been interested in teaching,” Mitchell said. On her career choice, she also added, “It was an easy decision and one of the best I’ve ever made!”

Mitchell takes a tough love approach to her teaching, upholding high standards while also guiding students to succeed on their own. She said that when students know that you care about them and help them achieve their goals, they feel motivated to work hard both for their teacher and themselves.

“I have high expectations for my students no matter who they are,” Mitchell said. “I do not give up on any student who is struggling.”

One of the ways she helps students learn is through music. Mitchell’s class learns multiplication facts by singing and dancing, and she said that it helps with memorization, improves calculation skills, and allows the students to have fun. To further inspire the students, Mitchell shares that, despite now teaching math, she struggled with the subject growing up.

“Although I had no idea that this would be my calling, it has been one of the most rewarding experiences,” Mitchell said.

Ruston slated to host I-20 All-Star game in December

Ruston High School will have the great privilege to host the 2021 I-20 All-Star game on Sunday, December 19, at 2 p.m.

“It’s a great privilege to do it for the kids that get selected,” Ruston head coach Jerrod Baugh said. “Location-wise, it makes a lot of sense to do it in Ruston, and we enjoy it. I really hope to have a great crowd for the kids and to see a great game.”

Not only will the Bearcats be hosting that day, three key Ruston seniors have been chosen to take part in the festivities for the NELA team. Senior defensive lineman Dennis Williams and senior wide receivers Dawson Willis and Dylan Rhone were named to the team. Willis is listed as a starter, while Williams and Rhone are both alternates.

The Bearcats have won six games in a row and are in control of their own District 2-5A destiny. They face another tough challenge Friday night as the Alexandria Senior High Trojans will come to James Field at Garrett Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff. It will be the first time the Bearcats have hosted a home game in nearly a month.


PHOTO CREDIT: Reggie McLeroy

North Bonner Street closed Thursday

The City of Ruston has announced a temporary closure of North Bonner Street between East Alabama Avenue and East Mississippi Avenue on Thursday.

The closure to through traffic from 8 a.m. through 5 p.m. is necessary to allow for utility repairs.

Workers will strive to minimize both the duration and impact of the closure. Questions can be directed to 318-242-7703.

Tech cuts ribbon for Career Closet

Louisiana Tech’s Career Center celebrated its new Career Closet on Tuesday.

Dress for the event was casual; but there’s nothing casual about the center’s approach to or the goal of Tech’s newest synergistic creation. 

Tech Career Closet is a collaborative initiative between the Career Center and Student Affairs/Career Services, Fashion Merchandising and Retail Studies in the School of Human Ecology in ANS, the College of Business, and the College of Engineering and Sciences. 

The goal is for current students who are preparing for their careers to be provided with knowledge of appropriate professional dress and access to professional dress at no monetary charge. 

This team effort will give students the assurance — and wardrobe — they need to be prepared for their next career fair, interview, or other professional occasion. 

The Career Closet offers professional clothing — skirts, dresses, tops, suits, pants, ties, belts, even socks — to students that will allow them to enter or continue with a professional and prepared presence in the workforce. Services offered include a 3D Body Imaging Scan, one full outfit per student per academic year, an individual style consultation by a Fashion Merchandising major, and a professional headshot. 

Supported with donations from Tech alumni, community members and local employers, the Career Closet accepts donations of new and gently used professional clothing. The Career Closet also accepts in-kind donation monetary gifts to support dry-cleaning services. 

The Career Closet donation page explains what students need and how you can contribute. 

Contact for more information or if you are interested in supporting the Louisiana Tech Career Closet. 


Tigers picked fourth in preseason poll

The Grambling State University men’s basketball team was predicted to finish fourth in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Preseason Predicted Order of Finish, the conference announced on Tuesday. 

The Tigers, who went 12-12 overall last season and 9-6 in SWAC play, registered 168 points to claim the fourth spot. Texas Southern, winning of the SWAC Basketball Tournament last season, garnered 11 first-place votes and 237 points to be chosen to repeat as conference champions. 

Prairie View A&M tallied nine first-place votes and 204 points was selected second, while Jackson State recorded 202 points and chosen third. 

Southern picked up one first-place vote and 167 points to earn the fifth spot, followed by Florida A&M (138), Alcorn State (128), Alabama State (125), Alabama A&M (112), Bethune-Cookman (97), Arkansas-Pine Bluff (68) and Mississippi Valley State (36) rounded out the predicted order of finish. 

Grambling State opens the 2021-22 season on Tuesday, Nov. 9 at Grand Canyon. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. 

Obituary: Alexander Selkirk “Kirk” McKean, Jr.

Funeral services for Alexander Selkirk “Kirk” McKean, Jr., age 83 of Ruston, LA will be held at 2:00 PM, Friday, October 22, 2021 at Owens Memorial Chapel in Ruston, LA with Bro. Ronnie Sanders officiating.  Burial will follow in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Ruston under the direction of Owens Memorial Chapel Funeral Home of Ruston. 

On October 15, 2021, Kirk experienced the moment he had dreamed of for most of his life as he entered the warm embrace of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  He was born on November 25, 1937 to A.S. McKean, Sr. and Granville McKean in Baton Rouge, LA.  While in high school, he would meet his future wife, Jane Marquart.  Kirk and Jane were married on December 6, 1958.  In May of 1959 he graduated from LSU with a degree in Physical Education and Recreation.  

Kirk began his career working for the YMCA after marrying Jane.  That role would take him, Jane and their four daughters all over the country.  They would end up serving on the East Coast, West Coast, Gulf Coast, around the Great Lakes, and countless spots in between.  Over his career he worked as a Camp Director, Conference Center Director and a School Administrator.  In the 1970’s, they set some roots when they moved to Asheville, NC to work at Ben Lippen School.  Asheville and the surrounding mountains would become a favorite spot of theirs.  They would return to Louisiana in the 1980’s, before moving to Little Rock, AR in the early 1990’s.  Kirk and Jane eventually returned to the Asheville area in 1999 for nearly a decade, before finally retiring in Ruston, LA in 2008. 

Throughout his life, Kirk relied on his faith in God and that faith never wavered.  In addition to this career, Kirk went on countless mission trips all over the country.  One of his favorite spots was the JAARS center of Wycliffe Bible Translators.  He was driven to have every man, woman and child to be able to read His Word in their own heart language.  He also served faithfully in the churches where they lived, including being a Sunday School teacher as well as serving as an elder or deacon.  Preceding Kirk in death were his parents, A.S. McKean, Sr. and Granville McKean; his sister, Ginger Blaylock and her husband, Lt. Col. Bobby Blaylock. 

Kirk is survived by his wife of sixty-two years, Jane Marquart McKean of Ruston, LA; daughters:  Debbie and husband Ron Washburn of Lexington, NC,  Sandee and husband Jimmy Sledge of Ruston, LA, Kathy and husband, David Mobley of Piperton, TN and Tricia and husband Chris DeHarty of Sioux City, IA; grandchildren:  Seth Guest and wife Heather, Courtney Washburn, JJ Sledge, Bethany Washburn, Alex Mobley, Heather Davis, Megan Mobley, Trenton Mobley, Zach DeHarty and Zoey DeHarty; great-grandchildren:  Braxton, Leeland, Trevin, Breyson, Adelynn and Averie; sister-in-law, Carol and husband Buddy Shirley; numerous nieces, nephews and countless friends made throughout his lifetime. 

The family wishes to thank Dr. Osafo, Dr. Marquardt, the doctors at Northern Louisiana Medical Center and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, and all the doctors and nurses and others who have helped Kirk over the last year.  The family also thanks everyone for all of the prayers, love and support over the past few weeks and months.

Serving as pallbearers will be Jimmy Sledge, Ron Washburn, David Mobley, J.J. Sledge, Alex Mobley, Trenton Mobley and Chris DeHarty.  Honorary pallbearers are Steve Coyle, Zach DeHarty and Trevin Hedrick. 

Visitation will be held from 12:00-1:30 PM, Friday, October 22, 2021 at Owens Memorial Chapel Funeral Home in Ruston, LA.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: Wycliffe Bible Translators.  To leave an online memorial message for the family, please visit

Notice of death — Oct. 19, 2021

William B Brantley 
August 25, 1963 – October 19, 2021 
Visitation: Temple Baptist Church, Ruston LA; Monday, Oct 25, 2021, from 5:00 PM-7:00 PM 
Memorial Service: Temple Baptist Church, Ruston LA; Tuesday, Oct 26, 2021, at 10:00 AM 

Brenda Kay Thomas Curry 
November 30, 1950 – October 18, 2021 
Visitation: Culbertson Baptist Church, Farmerville, LA on Thursday, October 21, 2021, from 9:00 am – 11:00 am 
Service: Culbertson Baptist Church, Farmerville, LA on Thursday, October 21, 2021, at 11:00 am 
Burial: Culbertson Baptist Church Cemetery, Farmerville, LA on Thursday, October 21, 2021 

Texas man arrested for attempted murder of RPD officer

A report of a truck blocking the Whataburger drive-through early Saturday morning led to the arrest of a Texas man for attempted murder of a Ruston Police officer.

At about 3 a.m. Saturday, officers were dispatched to the Whataburger on the North Service Road regarding a man asleep in his truck. Officer S. Longo was advised the man’s vehicle had been blocking the drive-through for over an hour.

Longo found the driver appeared to be asleep and directed the man to step out. Instead, Dakendric Jones, 24, of Cedar Hill, Texas, accelerated rapidly and grabbed for a pistol on the seat beside him. 

Longo and Jones fought for control of the pistol and the officer was able to knock it to the floorboard out of the driver’s reach. The officer was eventually able to pull Jones from the truck and handcuff him as other officers arrived.

A fully-loaded Glock pistol with an extended magazine and a bottle of alcoholic beverage were taken from the truck as evidence.

As Jones was being transported to the Lincoln Parish Detention Center, he voluntarily made the remark that he did not mean to reach for the pistol to shoot Longo but that he was “so f….d up.”

Jones was booked for attempted murder of a police officer, reckless operation of a vehicle, open container, and resisting an officer. Bail was set at $263,250. 

Amid GSU shootings, weapons arrest made on campus

After the shooting on the Grambling State campus last week, campus police were extra vigilant for signs of trouble.

That vigilance led to the arrest of a Long Beach, California, man in the Knott Hall parking lot Thursday among a crowd engaged in an argument.

GSU officers Ivory Boldes and Constantine Barnes were conducting a walk-through of the parking lot at about 2 a.m. Thursday when they observed Jeremiah Artis, 24, arguing with another man. The officers approached him and due to the previous shooting, asked consent to search a book bag he was carrying. A Glock 19 9mm pistol was found in the bag. As officers attempted to arrest Artis, he reportedly pulled away and tried to run away. Officers restrained him and effected the arrest for possession of a firearm on school property and resisting an officer. 

No information was available to ascertain if Artis was a student or non-student.

Artis was booked at the Lincoln Parish Detention Center. Bail was set at $52,500.

GSU extends class cancellation to Tuesday, implements curfew in wake of shooting incident

On the morning of Oct. 17 at 1 a.m., a shooting occurred in the quad area of Grambling State University’s campus. Eight victims were confirmed, one of which is an enrolled student who was treated for non-life-threatening injuries. Among the other non-student victims, one succumbed to their injuries. A suspect has not been identified.

At the time of the incident, a homecoming event was underway in McCall Dining Center. All persons present sheltered in place and were released once the all-clear was given by University Police.

Classes were canceled for Monday, Oct. 18, and that cancelation has extended to Tuesday, Oct. 19. GSU administrators met with student leaders to determine the implementation of a curfew that will be in effect from 9:30 p.m. through 6 a.m. until further notice. Counseling services have also been made available.

Additionally, Lincoln Prep School sent an announcement to parents canceling school Monday and Tuesday as well, citing that the school decided to follow GSU’s example.

“Our students come here for an education and far too often it’s outsiders who have created these situations that have put life and limb in danger,” GSU President Rick Gallot said. “That’s not why we’re here. That’s not what we’re about after 120 years, and so again, our priority is keeping our students safe.”

The investigation is being led by Louisiana State Police. Anyone with information about the incident can contact (LSP) at (318) 345-0000 or (318) 374-2222.