Gloria(ous) career; Creek coach earns HOF moment tonight

Gloria Riser (right) has been a part of 19 state title teams in her coaching career. (Courtesy Photo)

By Malcolm Butler

Gloria Riser never aspired to become a coach.

That is until one day when then Cedar Creek principal Randy Moore made her an offer – and a challenge – she couldn’t or wouldn’t refuse.

Almost four decades later, Gloria Riser’s accomplishments as a coach earned her an induction into the Cedar Creek School Athletics Hall of Fame.

The induction ceremony will take place tonight in between the Creek boys and girls varsity basketball games at the Brickhouse. The girls tip-off at 6 p.m. thus the induction should be approximately at 7 p.m.

“It is an honor because Cedar Creek is the one who gave me the opportunity to first coach,” said Gloria. “I had never coached before outside of coaching (my daughter) Sammi’s rec softball team. I don’t have a PE degree. I was an elementary ed teacher. It was only by chance that (coaching) happened.”

Moore, a long-time educator in Lincoln Parish at A.E. Phillips, Cedar Creek and Ruston High, may not agree it was by chance. According to him, he did his homework before presenting Gloria with her first opportunity back in the late-1980s.

“She applied for a 5th grade teaching position at Cedar Creek,” said Moore. “I did my background on her. Everyone I talked to had unbelievably positive things to say about Gloria as a teacher and person. From parents to educators, everything was very positive.”

However, it was a conversation with then Ridgedale Academy principal Harper McKay that got Moore to think about Gloria as more than just a potential teaching candidate.

“Back then Ridgedale Academy was a hated rival of Cedar Creek,” said Moore. “I called and talked to Harper McKay. Had a long conversation with him. I remember him telling me that the only thing Gloria did better than teaching was coaching.

“I think Harper was familiar with Gloria coaching her daughter’s rec teams because she hadn’t coached on the high school level. But I think he had her in mind as someone he may want to hire as a coach.”

When Moore hired Gloria as an elementary teacher, he asked her to help with the Lady Cougars softball program as an assistant coach. That led to a Hall of Fame career.

“Someone else was the head softball coach when I was hired,” said Gloria. “I was asked to help him, but he wound up leaving in the middle of the school year. And suddenly I was the softball coach. It was difficult at first. And from there is multiplied (to other sports). I have so many memories.”

One of those memories is a conversation with Moore that kick-started her career.

“I can remember trying to get out of coaching the first time when I found out I was the head coach in softball,” said Gloria. “I went to the school’s front office, and I had a message in my mailbox to call a school about a game. I went to the school secretary Ms. Ann and said, ‘You must have put this in the wrong box.’

“She said ‘No, I think you are the head softball coach.’ I thought ‘I don’t know how to do this.’ I had never even played softball. I went to see (Randy Moore) and told him ‘I don’t think I can do this.’ He said, ‘I didn’t know you were a quitter.’”

Those words hit home.

“I told him ‘I’m not a quitter,’” Gloria said. “He said, ‘I guess I will see you at practice this afternoon.’ He knew the key to turn with me.”

Moore doesn’t recall his exact words in the conversation, but said he trusts Gloria’s recollection better than his own.

“I remember she was shocked I was asking,” said Moore. “I probably did say something along the lines of ‘You are not a quitter, and you don’t shy away just because you haven’t done this before.’

“But boy, history began that day.”

Indeed, it did.

Gloria coached softball, girls basketball, cross country and track and field during her time at Cedar Creek, including stints from 1988 to 2003 and 2013 to 2019. She led the Lady Cougars to more than 20 district titles and 20 state playoff appearances, including capturing state championships in 1994, 2014, 2017 and 2018.

She left for Choudrant High School where she served as the coach from 2004 through 2012, winning multiple district titles and helping the 2010 Aggies softball team capture the state title (Gloria was an assistant coach that year and also coached girls basketball for the Aggies).

Gloria’s daughter, Sammi (Riser) Massey, played for her mom in the 1990s and was instrumental in helping the Lady Cougars win the school’s first state title in 1994.

“She is the hardest working person I know,” said an emotional Sammi (Riser) Massey over the phone on Thursday. “She is the most caring; the most driven person I have ever met. And she is the most selfless person I know.

“Over the years just watching her take her teams and bring them together as one has been amazing. She is such a motivational person and is able to get the kids to buy in. She has tons of motivational tools and activities she uses. When you play for her, you know you are a vital part of the team.”

Although it is not surprising a daughter would feel that way about their mother, Sammi’s sentiments are shared by others.

“I could see her commitment to teaching, not just teaching them but motivating them,” said Moore. “She inspired those girls so much. She reminded me of (former Louisiana Tech women’s basketball coach) Sonja Hogg. Her players wanted to be like her. They wanted to be like her, act like her, dress like her. They were infatuated with her. She was a major motivator. She was a goal-oriented person in everything she did. That was one of her strengths.”

Gloria also coached the varsity girls’ basketball team at Creek. She was the head coach from 1989 through 2002 and then came back to help as an assistant from 2013 to 2016. She led the Lady Cougars to multiple district titles on the hardwood and a Sweet 16 appearance in 1996.

Not only do her former athletes posses unbelievable respect for Gloria, but so do her colleagues.

“No one outworks, Coach Riser,” said current Cedar Creek head girls’ basketball coach Gene Vandenlangenberg who coached alongside Gloria for a number of years. “The energy and passion she has for coaching is second to none. She is a motivator who can get players to give their best effort. And her teams were always prepared.”

Gloria also helped start the cross country team at Cedar Creek when her son Ben was in high school.

“I became the cross country coach because I went to ask Coach (Wallace) Martin if we could start a team,” said Gloria. “By son was a runner. I didn’t even know what cross country was really. Coach Martin said there wasn’t really any interest.

“It was a God thing. I opened my big mouth and said “Can I coach it?’ I instantly wondered what I had done. We didn’t win the first year but after that we did. I had to do a lot of research and learned a lot by trial and errors.”

Under Gloria’s leadership, Cedar Creek won 10 girls state cross country championships and four boys cross country state championships from 1992 through 2002. She also became the first female to hold an office in the Louisiana Cross Country/Track and Field Coaches Association.

Gloria added track and field to her resume from 1999 through 2002.

Her honors are just a small result of all of her success. She was named the Shreveport Times Coach of the Decade (1990s) and was the State Softball Coach of the Year in 1993. She was a multiple winner of the Lincoln Parish Coach of the Year award presented by the Ruston Daily Leader.  She was inducted into the Louisiana Softball Hall of Fame in 2006.

When asked why she feels she has been so highly successful during the past four decades, Gloria points to a few things.

“We worked hard,” said Gloria. “We outworked everybody. I feel like I’m a pretty good motivator. Motivation and hard work. Those were the reason for our success.”

Tonight, Gloria will be enshrined into the Cedar Creek School Athletics Hall of Fame with her husband Ben and her children, Ben and Sammi, and plenty of grandchildren by her side.

She becomes just the 13th member of the school’s most prestigious club, joining her daughter Sammi who was enshrined as part of the Class of 2021.

“My life is a big miracle,” she said. “God has put me in so many places and opened so many doors. I have had the most wonderful people to work with and the kids have been amazing. I feel very blessed.”

As do all of the students who were fortunate enough to call her coach.

“I would not have been the athlete I was nor had the success I had without Gloria Riser,” said Nicole (Burn) West, a member of both the 1994 state softball title team and the 1996 Sweet 16 basketball team. “She was hands down one of the most inspiring and motivating coaches of my career. In fact, she was the one who first handed me a basketball in sixth grade and taught me to play the sport I love with my whole heart.

“I mean every word. I owe her so much.”

As does Cedar Creek School.

_______________________________________

Cedar Creek Athletics Hall of Fame

Class of 2019-20

Doug Bagwell

Donnie Barmore

Steve Johnson

Wallace Martin

Frankie Garcia

Jane Ellen Cook

 

Class of 2020-21

Tommy Joe Eagles

Sammi Riser Massey

Kelly McHale

Ann Pendergrass Harris

 

Class of 2021-22

Dickie Crawford

Nicole Burn West

 

Class of 2022-23

Gloria Riser

 


New parishes provided political power

By Wesley Harris

Lincoln Parish is commemorating the 150th anniversary of its founding in 1873. This is part one of the LPJ’s examination of the early days of our parish. 

The creation of Lincoln Parish in 1873 occurred as a political move to gain power in the difficult days of Reconstruction after the Civil War. As one of several new parishes formed after the war, the new Lincoln Parish government provided additional political offices for the party in control of the state.

The war’s end in 1865 failed to bring peace to Louisiana. Local and state governments, which had been controlled by white Democrats for decades, were held during Reconstruction mostly by the Radical faction of the Republican Party. To bolster local Republican loyalists, the Louisiana Legislature created new parishes to provide positions of authority to its like-minded collaborators. The Democrats fought back—literally and politically—and President Ulysses Grant sent federal troops into Louisiana to quell violence against freedmen, the state government, and these local Republican fiefdoms.

First among the new parishes were Iberia and Richland, both formed in 1868. Tangipahoa and Grant Parishes followed in 1869. In 1870, the fifth Reconstruction parish, Cameron, was created, followed by the sixth, seventh, and eighth new parishes (Red River, Vernon, and Webster) in 1871. 

Lincoln, named after the late president, was the ninth parish to be formed under Radical Republican rule. In 1877, Carroll Parish was divided into East and West Carroll, the tenth and eleventh Reconstruction parishes. 

Violent encounters revealed the animosity local citizens possessed against officials installed in these new parishes. Disputes over the 1872 election results had produced dual governments at all levels in Louisiana. Democrats claimed victory in most elections, but an election review board gave Republican candidates the win in virtually every race.

Grant and Red River Parishes suffered some of the worst clashes over political control. The battle over the Grant Parish courthouse was one of the bloodiest single instances of racial violence during Reconstruction in the United States. Fearful local Democrats would seize power, former slaves under the command of black Civil War veterans and militia officers took over Colfax, the parish seat. A massacre ensued, led by the Democrat who claimed he won the sheriff’s race, including the slaughter of about fifty African Americans who had laid down their arms and surrendered.

White League influence spread through northwest Louisiana in the summer of 1873. Its brutal actions targeted white officeholders as well as freedmen. One such episode was directed against the family of Vermont “carpetbagger” Marshall Harvey Twitchell. Twitchell and his family controlled virtually every public office in newly created Red River Parish. In 1874, the White League executed Twitchell’s brother, two brothers-in-law, and three other white Republicans while Twitchell was in New Orleans. Twitchell returned to Coushatta with two companies of federal troops to restore Republican rule in the parish. Democratic leaders wrested control of local politics, however. In 1876 they assassinated Twitchell’s brother-in-law, and tried to kill Twitchell, who lost both arms in the ambush.

Allen Greene was declared a Jackson Parish state senator after the disputed 1872 election. Greene’s first move as senator in collaboration with his son Charles, a state representative, was to secure passage of an act creating a new parish from portions of Bienville, Claiborne, Jackson, and Union. For the new parish, Governor William Pitt Kellogg appointed a slate of officers submitted by Greene. These included James B. Ray as sheriff, a Republican from Ouachita Parish; Greene’s son William as tax collector; son Jackson as tax assessor; and son Charles as parish judge. Friends and fellow Republicans were appointed to other posts. As a sop to the local opposition, lawman Spencer P. Colvin, a well-known and respected Vienna resident, was appointed clerk of court as the sole Democrat officeholder. The parish seat was established at Vienna.

Lincoln Parish saw its share of friction but without the bloodshed experienced in some north Louisiana parishes. Total control of the parish by the Radicals led to talk of mass revolt but elder citizens counseled restraint and suggested a petition asking Greene, his three sons, and several other officials to resign. An overwhelming majority of Lincoln Parish taxpayers—white landowners—signed it. While Sheriff Ray was pressured to go back to Ouachita Parish, the others remained in office with the governor and the federal government behind them. 

The situation nearly exploded several times. The removal of all parish records and offices from Vienna to Greene’s plantation several miles to the northwest infuriated the population. Greene and his family became virtual prisoners as it was too dangerous to leave Greensboro, their home on what is now the White Lightning Road. The arrival of federal troops to arrest purported leaders of Greene’s opposition almost triggered bloodshed. Each time it appeared the lid would blow off the volatile situation, someone backed down and the lethal clash experienced in other north Louisiana communities never occurred in Lincoln.

Coming next: How Allen Greene amassed power


Great Scott: Former Tech star leads Eagles into NFC Championship game

Former Bulldog Boston Scott will lead the Eagles into the NFC Championship game against San Francisco Sunday. (Courtesy Photo)

EDITORS NOTE: Boston Scott is in his 5th year with the Philadelphia Eagles after an all-conference career with Louisiana Tech. He will lead the Eagles into this week’s NFC Championship title game against San Francisco. The former Bulldog walk-on helped lead Louisiana Tech to four bowl game wins in four years in Ruston.

Below is a feature story originally run on Dec. 18, 2017, prior to the Bulldogs playing in the DXL Frisco Bowl against SMU telling of Scott’s journey, including a health scare in 2015 that he thought might cost him his career. 

____________________________________

By Malcolm Butler (Written Dec. 18, 2017)

RUSTON – See Boston block. See Boston catch. See Boston run.

Boston – in this case Louisiana Tech senior running back Boston Scott – gives credit to God for his ability to do all of these things and more.

After all, it was only a few years ago that the Baton Rouge native began to doubt whether he would ever be able to run, much less play football, again.

Succeeding at football on the collegiate level was going to be a challenge for Boston as it was. The three-sport athlete out of Zachary High School didn’t receive a single Division I offer to play on the gridiron, mostly due to the measurements of his physique – 5-foot-6 and less than 200 pounds – but not his heart.

But because of Louisiana Tech’s renowned engineering program (Boston was originally majoring in mechanical engineering before graduating in November in kinesiology and health science), he chose to enroll in Ruston and take a chance.

“I had sent my film out to every college out there,” said Boston. “I just wanted a chance. I was standing in a line of students at orientation and I got a direct message from Coach (Joe) Sloan saying, ‘Hey Boston. We got your highlight tape, and we want you to come in as walk-on.’ It was a cool coincidence.” Sloan remembers why the program offered Boston the chance to walk-on with the Bulldogs, despite his lack of physical size.

“He played in a really good program at Zachary High School for a great guy at the time in Neil Weiner,” said Sloan. “He spoke to (Boston’s) character. Boston’s elusiveness and quickness stood out on film. The same things he showed on the field here that have made him such a special player.”

These days Boston is the prototypical collegiate football player, a sculpture of human flesh. No fat on that frame.

But during his true freshman season in 2013, Boston began suffering from mysterious neurological symptoms during his first quarter in college.

Muscle twitches. Fatigue. Cramps, Numbness. Weakness.

“My body started to break down on me,” said Boston, who leads Louisiana Tech into Wednesday’s 7 p.m. match-up against SMU in the DXL Frisco Bowl at Toyota Stadium. “It was scary. My mom saw her child dealing with a condition that people thought might be ALS or MS.

“I was already feeling numb everywhere from the waist down. I felt weak. I had to walk everywhere because I didn’t have a car. I remember walking to class one morning. I lived in UP, and I made it halfway to the bridge. I was like, ‘What are you doing?’ (as Boston looks down at legs). Somebody had to come get me. It was real frustrating.”

Boston’s mom, Shelly, remembers the fall of 2013 vividly. And not so fondly.

“It was very difficult,” said Shelly. “Boston is a very optimistic person. He is a positive person, but that is the first time that I saw him almost lose all hope. We got a couple of bad (doctor) reports at that time. They couldn’t figure out what was going on with his legs, and they also said something was going on with his neck and he should never play football again.”

The dreaded words that no player ever wants to hear.

“He had gotten really down in regards to that,” said Shelly. “We continued to pray and share his issues. I had never seen him become so distraught. I know playing football, especially professionally, was one of his dreams.”

Due to the type of symptoms, especially the numbness in his legs, one of the first thoughts was a bulging disk in the lower back. However, tests showed nothing wrong; a spinal specialist in Dallas that works with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys found nothing out of the ordinary.

Next came a rheumatologist in Baton Rouge. Again, test results were all normal. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Everyone was at a loss. Boston remembers walking into the office of then Louisiana Tech Athletics Trainer Keith Bunch.

“He sat me down and said, ‘God has a plan,'” said Boston. “I was like, ‘Whoa man … ¦what?’ It was tough for everyone. I understand now the frustration of people because they didn’t understand even when I tried to explain. The coaches wanted me to contribute. I wanted to be out there as bad as the next guy. I love football, but I didn’t know what the heck was going on.”

Finally, after a fall filled with fatigue, fear and frustration, a musculoskeletal specialist in Texas discovered the issue. An electromyogram (EMG) performed by the specialist hit the right nerve, almost literally.

“He stuck the needle in my back and sent an impulse into my body,” said Boston. “You could hear the contractions of the muscles on the monitor. He started to hear my muscles fasciculating and twitching out of control. I said, ‘Yeah that is what I can feel all over my body.'”

Cramp fasciculation syndrome (CFS) was the diagnoses. Boston’s body wasn’t failing him. And he wasn’t suffering from a deadly disease with no cure. He simply had a rare peripheral nerve hyperexcitability disorder that causes cramps, pain, fatigue, and muscle stiffness.

“I had to supplement with Vitamin D,” said Boston. “I had to get away from intense physical activity. I had to take some antidepressants to keep my nerves in check. That got it under control. It took almost the entire year, but I’m good now.

With one big hurdle out of the way, Boston then faced a second one. As a walk-on, student-athletes have to pay for their own tuition, room and board. No free ride.

Following the end of the 2015 regular season, Tech was preparing for the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl and a match-up against Arkansas State. Although Boston was excited about the second straight bowl game for the Bulldogs, he wasn’t sure if he would be able to continue his college career.

The cost of tuition was adding up and his mother was already working two jobs. However, in the last team meeting before the Bulldogs departed for the Big Easy, Skip Holtz surprised Boston and teammates Aaron Brown and Gerald Shouse with an early Christmas present.

“Coach Holtz wrapped it up and acted like he was walking off,” said Boston. “He then stopped and said, ‘Wait a second. There are a few guys that have done big things for us this year as far as contributing.’ It was huge for me because going into the next quarter I didn’t know how I was going to be able to pay for school. It was real tough. I was considering going to find a job and not necessarily being able to go on with school. A blessing is an understatement as far as what it meant for me. I definitely needed it.”

Boston said his battles with the fear and uncertainty of life inevitably helped him build a stronger relationship with Christ.

“Coming in as a freshman my faith wasn’t where it is now,” said Boston, who has served as President of the Louisiana Tech chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for two years. “I wanted to dabble in the partying, the college atmosphere, all of that. Ultimately, God did some work on me. He showed me that it’s not about the things in this world, but it’s my faith in Him that is most important.

“It allowed me to realize that football isn’t just a sport, it’s also my mission field. It’s where I have an opportunity to reach out to those who don’t know what I know. There are a lot of guys that are in the position that I used to be in.”

“After the struggles with the physical issues, we just decided we were going to stay positive and God was going to work it out,” said Shelly Scott. “And He did. It seemed like Boston got back to the place where I had always known him to be. His outlook certainly improved because of the fact he was rewarded that scholarship. It did something for his belief in God because after that he got really involved in the FCA. It opened up his belief system even more. It gave him more depth in reality. He saw God made something out of nothing.”

On the field, Boston saw very little playing time in 2014. Playing behind current NFL running back Kenneth Dixon and even fellow senior Jarred Craft, he finally started to see more opportunities to contribute during the Bulldogs run to the 2015 New Orleans Bowl, rushing for 275 yards and recording 251 more yards on kick returns.

He credits former teammates Hunter Lee, Blake Martin and Paul Turner with taking him under their wings as a young college student and showing him the importance of keeping God first. Now, he serves as the mentor to many young Tech student-athletes.

“In order to lead, you have to make sure you are living your life the right way,” said Sloan. “The way he does in school, the way he works in the weight room to get better, and then the extracurricular off the field especially with his faith. How he represents himself as the president of the FCA: that’s where I think it starts. The way he carries himself. And his personality: he gets along with everybody and has great relationships. That makes him such a great leader.”

He registered his first career 100-yard performance in Tech’s 47-28 win over Arkansas State in the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, including a 77-yard run from scrimmage against the Red Wolves.

The past two years, he has shared time in the backfield with Craft as the Bulldogs two-headed running monster. After rushing for 515 yards and six scores as a junior, he has bettered those numbers this year by totaling 937 yards and eight touchdowns.

Boston rushed for three touchdowns in a 42-28 win over Rice this season while also playing through a toe injury in the season finale to rush for a career-high 138 yards and the game-clinching 35-yard score with 2:23 to play in the 20-6 win over UTSA that made the Bulldogs bowl eligible.

“To watch the way he has grown from when he came in here as a freshman as an undersized walk-on running back who had some talent is amazing,” said Tech head coach Skip Holtz. “He suffered some injuries, and had to wait his turn, but Boston is a guy that kept working, kept getting bigger and faster.

“This year has been a great year for him as well as the way he has developed physically. He really grew and matured as a running back, making the hard yards in between the tackles, the extra yards. Boston means an awful lot to this team and is a leader because of his work ethic. As good of a player as he is on the football field, he is a better young man. It’s been a pleasure to coach him.”

As Boston takes the field for the final time in a Louisiana Tech uniform Wednesday night, he will do so alongside a senior class that has a chance to win four bowl games in four years. He will suit up one last time with his Bulldog brothers, trying to make history.

“I love this team and how we fight and compete no matter what the results have been,” said Boston. “We have had some close games, some heartbreakers. Some losses that a lot of teams don’t come back from. The team has the mindset of ‘What can we do to get better? We are going to come back harder next week.’ We never quit. I am so thankful for being able to be a part of a team like this that never quit, that responded positively to those circumstances.”

Circumstances have never stopped Boston Scott from playing a game he loves. The trials and tribulations of an up-and-down senior season won’t stop him now.

And for one final time, Bulldog fans will get to see Boston block, see Boston catch, and see Boston run.

Run fast, Boston. And run hard.


Search warrants reveal drugs at two Ruston locations

Three men are in custody on multiple drug charges after the Lincoln Parish Narcotics Enforcement Team executed two search warrants in Ruston Wednesday.

Nicholas D. Moore, 30, Ladarius D. Winzer, 41, and Miketavious Dice, 33, were present at a Larson Street residence when the search warrant was executed. An affidavit supporting the arrests by a Lincoln Parish deputy sheriff assigned to LPNET stated the house “was obviously the site of a large, organized illegal drug operation.”

Among the items seized were 1,046 grams of methamphetamine, 252 grams of marijuana, 37 grams of powdered cocaine, 14 dosage units of the amphetamine Adderall, six units of alprazolam, 10 ounces of promethazine syrup, multiple sets of digital scales, large quantities of packaging materials, and a vacuum sealer.

Much of the drugs was broken down and packaged for individual sale. The location is considered a drug-free zone due to the house’s proximity to a church and a school.

A second search warrant was executed at a Monterey Drive residence that Moore shares with another individual. During that search, two parcels were marijuana were found totaling 774 grams.

Each of the three men were booked for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine, Adderall, alprazolam, and promethazine; possession of drug paraphernalia; and violation of the Controlled Substances Law (drug-free zone).

Bail amounts were not 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. 


Parish heavyweights schedule non-district ballgame

(Photo credit: Reggie McLeroy)

By Kyle Roberts

With both teams setting their eyes on respective postseason runs, Ruston and Choudrant decided to play a non-district matchup in February to prepare for formidable play-off foes.

Scheduled for Thursday, February 16, it will be varsity boys only in a hoops matchup that will be sure to shake Lincoln Parish.

“We know adding a game with Ruston is going to be a real challenge,” Aggie head coach Ryan Smith said. “I feel that you can make a case for Ruston being one of the best teams in the state regardless of class. Coach (Ryan) Bond has done a tremendous job of elevating that program in just a few years. We wanted to play a game that will prepare us for a deep playoff run and going to play at Ruston is going to do that. We won’t see that level of athleticism and talent in the Division-5 playoffs, so we feel it’s a great opportunity to improve even at the end of the season.”

Bond echoed Smith’s sentiment about the potential for a good matchup.

“Coach Smith and I have been good friends for 15 years,” Bond said. “We thought it would be beneficial for both programs. It is a opportunity for us to play a really good, well-coached and disciplined team.”

Ruston currently sits No. 2 overall in the Division-1 Power Ratings at 20-2, while Choudrant is No. 8 overall in the Division-5 Power Ratings.

“I’m thankful for Coach Bond giving us the opportunity to play,” Smith said. “I hope it benefits both programs heading into the playoffs. Regardless of the outcome of the game, I know we will both be cheering for each other afterward.”

The game is set for 6 p.m. and admission will be $8.


Traditions updated for the progress of the school

By Sarah Brackin

Students hurry along Louisiana Tech’s Centennial Plaza, criss-crossing paths and weaving between tables, all heading to individual destinations. Only one area is unbothered by the crowd; the Louisiana state symbol with the letter T plastered to the ground.

Students walk a wide berth around it to avoid any accidents until suddenly a foot lands on the blue tile.

10 seconds on the clock.

Students who touched the emblem waste no time to race to the center of the Quad where the Lady of the Mist rests. They kick their shoes off and plunge their feet into the cool water of the fountain.

Students begin the 30 seconds of washing; their graduation is saved.

As a representation of the original bulldog, this is the sacred ground of Louisiana Tech’s Centennial Plaza. The seal that was there was created in 1994 in celebration of Tech’s 100 year anniversary. 

The legend of the bulldog did not come until 2003 when student tour groups told the incoming freshman that the seal was meant to honor the hero bulldog buried somewhere on campus. Over the years, the seal began to wear away, tiles popping up or cracking, and students took notice. 

Around 2018 vice president of student advancement Dickie Crawford met with student focus groups to see what was to be done, and The Campus Core Project was birthed.

Now the Louisiana Tech seal has been raised from the ground to create a fountain. 

Faculty member Jimmy Washingtion said, “The seal symbolizes unity with students where students are all on one accord. Where they believe in  the university itself and the seal brings everybody together because they have that one goal in mind to say that we are Louisiana Tech.” 

Students now spend their time around the fountain on the stone columns talking with one another or working on homework. 

Student Evan Roden said, “It’s better to look at now, and improve on the area so people can actually hang out there.”

The new fountain has emphasized the importance of the seal and raised it for all of Tech’s glory, but some students still miss the threat that came with the old seal.

“The tradition and unity the old seal brought I felt was more significant. Like when we had the freshman convocation, the upperclassmen would mess with first years who stepped on the old seal and it felt like family,” said student Michael Berrigan.

As a solution, Louisiana Tech provided a new seal in the area. Between the clock tower and the fountain is a mark, quoting, “We are Bulldogs; Unity,” where the tradition continues among the students.

Louisiana Tech is growing, and with it, the traditions. As Washington said, “It’s just another change in what we do here: progress.” 


AEP endowment honors long-time CEO Akins

To honor former CEO and President Nicholas “Nick” Akins, American Electric Power (AEP) has established the Nicholas K. Akins Eminent Scholar Chair in Engineering within Louisiana Tech University’s College of Engineering and Science.

“Nick’s leadership in AEP has been highly impactful, and he has established a legacy of innovation in safety, reliability and sustainability for the industry,” said Dr. Les Guice, Louisiana Tech President. “AEP’s commitment will honor Nick by helping our University attract and retain an outstanding senior faculty member who will enhance our tradition of providing unparalleled opportunities in engineering education and serve as a leader for Louisiana Tech’s priority research programs, including energy and cyber security.”

In addition to endowment funding, the Louisiana Tech University Foundation will seek matching funds from the Louisiana Board of Regents Support Fund, a constitutional dedication to promote excellence in higher education and enhance economic development through specified purposes including the endowment of chairs for eminent scholars.

“This endowment is a wonderful tribute to Nick, his advocacy of STEM education, and his deep appreciation for the opportunities provided by his alma mater,” said Julie Sloat, AEP president and chief executive officer. “AEP is proud to support Louisiana Tech as it shapes the next generation of engineers who will follow in Nick’s footsteps and lead the transformation of our industry.”

Akins is a 1982 and 1986 graduate of Louisiana Tech with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Electrical Engineering. He was honored with the Tower Medallion and induction into Tech’s Hall of Distinguished Alumni in May 2022. The Tower Medallion is awarded to Tech alumni who have distinguished themselves by exceptional achievement, community service, and humanitarian activities.

“This honor is uniquely fitting for Mr. Akins and his continuing commitment to Louisiana Tech’s legacy,” said Lisa Bradley, interim Vice President for University Advancement. “The Nicholas K. Akins Eminent Scholar Chair in Engineering will help our University support one of the best and brightest researchers in critical areas for our state, region, and nation.”

Akins stepped down from his role as president of the company in August, and his term as CEO ended Dec. 31. He will continue to serve as executive chair for the company’s Board of Directors. Under his leadership, AEP invested in modernization and security of the electric grid, resource diversification, and technology and innovation to enable the transition to a clean energy future while preserving universal access to the grid. Through strategic partnerships and collaboration with customers, Akins positioned AEP to redefine the future of energy and embrace the transformation sweeping the industry. 


Ponderings by Doug

I do not wear a tinfoil hat. I don’t necessarily believe in all the apocalyptic conspiracy theories that float around our Internet world. I am cautiously suspicious, and I don’t believe anything coming out of the mouths of politicians and media personalities.

We live in a connected world. We are told that our data is safe, unless you have a Tic Toc account, in which case the Chinese know everything about you. Otherwise, the message is, trust us we are not watching or listening to you.

If “they” are not listening to us, why do the ads on my Internet feed change based on what I just said to my wife across the den. Is my phone listening to me as it innocently sits next me on the table? You bet your Scofield Reference Bible it is listening to you. The Police sang it this way back in the 80’s, “Every move you make, and every vow you break, every smile you fake, every claim you stake, I’ll be watching you.”

Finally, we have arrived at my destination. I don’t know who is responsible for my latest tracking conundrum. I have a vehicle that is several I.Q. points smarter than I am. I also have a smart phone. Every time I get in my car, I receive a text message from Google maps. Mind you I have not started the car. I have gone and sat down in the car. Boom here comes the text message. Is the car telling the phone or is the phone telling the car, I just sat down?

On Sunday through Friday the message is the same. “You are 24 minutes from the office.” I live in Gibsland and Trinity is in Ruston. 24 miles from my front door to the office door, and it takes me less than 24 minutes to get here. I have grown accustomed to ignoring that message.

What bugs me is the message I receive on Saturday morning. If I go to the car on Saturday and sit down, boom the text message comes. “You are 12 miles from Gap Farms.” How does the phone know I’m going to Gap Farms? The phone knows because on most Saturday mornings, my bride and I start the day with breakfast at Gap Farms in the metropolis of Arcadia. Still it is unnerving that the phone knows my behavior so well.

For my Christian friends out there remember the words of Paul, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, make the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” Be careful because you are being watched. Be careful because your actions influence others to consider Jesus or reject Him. Be careful because your eternity is hanging in the balance.

Be careful how you live. You are being watched over by a gracious and loving Savior. That gives me hope in this crazy world.


Continuing the celebration of the King of Carnival

Jewels worn by Isabel Morris, Queen of Carnival in 1882. Among the oldest surviving Rex regalia, these elaborate jewels are still contained in their custom-made presentation box. Loaned by Dana Ferry and Nina Bishop.

NEW ORLEANS – Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser and the Louisiana State Museum are pleased to announce the extension of the exhibition, Rex: The 150th Anniversary of the School of Design, at the Presbytère, through the end of 2023. Occupying five galleries, this landmark exhibit celebrates the history and contributions of Rex to the Carnival season and continues the commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the organization. Since its founding in 1872, Rex, also known by its official name, the School of Design, has taken on an unparalleled leadership role in Carnival, setting the standard of excellence for the dozens of krewes formed since then. The Rex parade was the first daytime parade in modern Carnival, and the man and woman selected as its monarchs have always served as the king and queen of all New Orleans Carnival.

“Mardi Gras is a huge draw for visitors to every corner of our state. With the 2023 carnival season ramping up as we head to Mardi Gras Day, we are thrilled to showcase this exhibit through the rest of the year. While there are many traditions around Louisiana that are the backbone of the annual celebration in each community, the image of Rex parading through the streets of New Orleans is known worldwide,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser.

Since opening in February 2022, Rex: The 150th Anniversary of the School of Design has generated acclaim locally and beyond. Over twenty historic and contemporary costumes and gowns are displayed, making it one of the largest temporary Carnival exhibits ever produced by the Louisiana State Museum. In the summer of 2022, a special screening at the Presbytère of the newly discovered film of the 1898 Rex parade in the archives of the Eye Filmmuseum in the Netherlands attracted a standing-room-only audience. In December 2022, the Library of Congress announced the selection of this extraordinarily rare film to its prestigious National Film Registry, which generated headlines around the world. Now known to be the earliest surviving moving footage ever shot in New Orleans, the 1898 Rex parade film can be seen playing in large format in the exhibit.

New artifacts will be added to the exhibition in early 2023, including the glamorous couture gown worn by Elinor Pitot White, the Queen of Carnival in 2022. Designed and made by Suzanne Perron St. Paul, the gown was donated to the museum by White’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Michael B. White, in late 2022. Another rare artifact that will be added to the exhibit is the nine-foot-long mantle worn by Adrienne Lawrence, the 1906 Queen of Carnival. The mantle is on loan from the Pointe Coupee Parish Public Library in the town of New Roads, where Adrienne Lawrence settled and became a local champion of libraries and literacy. The fragile silk velvet mantle, the oldest one still surviving worn by a Queen of Carnival, has undergone a complete professional restoration in preparation for the exhibition.

An extensive array of educational programs scheduled throughout 2023 will draw on the krewe’s incorporated name, the School of Design, with a goal of aiding students and families in creating works of art inspired by the krewe’s artistic legacy. Teaching artists are available to give tours of the exhibit to school groups, and the museum will also offer enriching sensory-friendly programs for children with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Rex: The 150th Anniversary of the School of Design is being made possible by First Horizon Bank and other generous donors of the Louisiana Museum Foundation. The exhibit will remain on display in the Presbytère, located at 751 Chartres Street on Jackson Square, through December 10, 2023. The Presbytère is open Tuesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to the museum is $10 for adults, $8 for students, seniors, and active military, and free for children 6 and under. Visit LouisianaStateMuseum.org for more information.


COLUMN: In the NFL, being No. 2 ain’t easy to do

By Teddy Allen (ShreveportBossierJournal.com)

 

When Kansas City backup quarterback Chad Henne came into Sunday’s NFL Divisional Round game to replace injured Patrick Mahomes, named Wednesday NFL MVP by the Professional Football Writers Association, I thought the same thing as you.

“Chad Henne’s still in the league?”

Luke McCown, who started 10 games at quarterback during his 13-year NFL career from 2004-2016, those last four seasons backing up Drew Brees in New Orleans, was watching too. His thoughts were more along the lines of, “Lord, have mercy.”

The Chiefs led Jacksonville, 10-7, at the time. But Mahomes was headed to the locker room to get an X-ray of his ankle and Henne was taking a first-down snap from his own end zone.

On first down, Henne threw his first completion. Of the season.

Nice start.

The 37-year-old Henne and the Chiefs put together the longest touchdown drive in the team’s postseason history — 98 yards — increased the lead to 17-7 with 3:54 to go in the half, and ultimately won the game, 27-20.

Mahomes played the second half, hobbling a bit, and is expected to play when the Chiefs host Cincinnati Sunday night at 5:30; the winner plays the winner of Sunday’s 2 p.m. San Francisco at Philadelphia game in Glendale, Arizona in Super Bowl LVII Feb. 12.

Mahomes finished 22-of-30 for 195 yards and two TDs. Henne, who starred for Michigan in 2007 (seems like 1987, I swear) and has four starts in the past seven seasons, was 5-of-7 for 23 yards and a touchdown.

But it’s timing, man. If you ain’t got timing — and a really good tight end like Travis Kelce — you ain’t got nothing.

Henne, in a pinch, was gold when it counted under circumstances only guys like McCown and others in the fraternity can fully appreciate.

“You ARE the insurance in case something happens,” McCown said about the backup’s role. “You understand that. Now, can you handle the horse when it’s time to climb on?”

McCown never had to finish a game “at a moment’s notice” when the starter went down, but with Tampa Bay he did have to sub for the injured Jeff Garcia in 2007 in New Orleans and, in a game that decided the division title, threw for 313 yards and two touchdowns, the last one in the final minute, in a 27-23 win.

“That was early in my career,” he said, “so I was dumb enough not to know how much pressure I was under. Like they say, ignorance is bliss.”

And in 2015 he found out on a Friday he’d start for an injured Brees Sunday against Carolina, the league’s best defense that year, when the Saints were already 0-2. McCown finished an efficient 31-of-38 for 310 yards, but it was in a 27-22 loss; too much Cam Newton and Greg Olsen that day, if memory serves.

So McCown knows about being No. 1 and about being No. 2.

“What (Henne) did is extraordinarily hard for a couple of reasons,” he said Wednesday afternoon while picking up kids after school in his hometown of Jacksonville, Tex., where he and wife Katy, former Shreveporter and Louisiana Tech cheerleader, are raising six children. It takes a minute to round all those young ones up, so the Tech Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2017 inductee had plenty of time to talk — and about one of his favorite subjects.

“First, you’re not getting any reps,” he said of backups. “Henne might have gotten a series with the starters Friday. But mostly you’re running scout team, so you’re running the other team’s plays, not even your own. And if they’re developing a guy — if you’re the old guy like Chad or like I was in New Orleans — that young guy might get the extra practice series with the starters.

“The second thing’s not the reads: you know that. You’ve played for years, you’ve watched film, you’ve done all that,” he said. “It’s the unknown, the emotion of the game at that moment. You can’t be shaken when they say, ‘OK, go get your helmet.’ The crowd is coming to see Mahomes or Joe Burrow, not the backup. So you want to live up to that standard. And to the standard you’ve set for yourself.”

Sunday, McCown was rooting for Henne and for backup QBs everywhere, for guys who McCown says are “worth every penny” when the football gods and fate conspire and suddenly … It’s Time.

“Maybe I’m saying it because now I’m an old backup, but the disparity in pay between the starters and backups in football, or the starting pitchers and the bullpen in baseball, it’s hard to believe,” he said. “You’ve got to have those guys. In moments like Sunday’s, what Henne did proves why you should pay to keep a good, experienced backup.”

Because once the moment is gone, you can’t get it back. You’ve got to make it happen. Right then. Henne, the latest Banner Waver and bellcow for the Backup QB Fraternity, did.

“It’s fun to see him get his due, to see anytime a backup gets his due,” McCown said. “Take any backup playing today: any one of them can out-throw any guy in college. There are what, four billion guys in the world?, and only about 64 of them can throw a goofy brown oblong ball like those guys. You’ve got to remember that these are the best football players in the world.”

The Chiefs had the right one at the right time against the hot Jags. And while he doesn’t have the paychecks Mahomes does, Henne was money Sunday.

Contact Teddy at teddy@latech.edu or on Twitter @MamaLuvsManning.

 

 


Tech’s Gonzalez, Sacco earn all-league honors

Courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications

Louisiana Tech was represented by center fielder Sierra Sacco and shortstop Amanda Gonzalez on the 2023 Conference USA Softball Preseason All-Conference team, the league announced Thursday.

LA Tech is coming off an impressive 2022 campaign which culminated in a 39-20 record and a Regular Season C-USA Championship in head coach Josh Taylor’s first year at the helm.

Sacco, the reigning C-USA Freshman of the Year, is one of the top center fielders in collegiate softball and was recently named a Top-100 player by both D1 Softball and Extra Innings Softball. The Marrero, La., product is the NCAA active career leader in batting average (.441) and is coming off a 2022 campaign that saw her tally a school record 83 hits, in addition to 51 runs, 24 RBI and 28 stolen bases. Sacco ranked among the national leaders in hits (5th), batting average (8th), on-base percentage (14th) and stolen bases (30th). The sophomore standout enters the 2023 season, having reached base safely in 31 consecutive games.

Gonzalez earned first-team honors in 2022 after a season that saw her hit .363 with 57 hits, nine doubles, four triples and seven home runs while scoring 33 runs, recording 28 RBI and stealing 8 bases. She led Conference USA in assists with 158 and ranked among the team leaders in multi-hit games and multi-RBI contests with 19 and nine, respectively.

It marked the first time Tech had multiple representatives on the preseason all-conference squad since 2020.

LA Tech was tabbed to finish fourth by the league’s ten head coaches with 74 total votes, four points behind Charlotte, who came in third with 78 votes. North Texas topped the poll with 99 total votes, including nine first-place votes, followed by Western Kentucky in second with 82 points.

The selection marks the highest predicted finish for Louisiana Tech since 2020 when the Techsters were tabbed third.

The Lady Techsters will open the season on Saturday, Feb. 11, when they host Southeast Missouri State for game one of a three-game series at 4 p.m. at Dr. Billy Bundrick Field.

Preseason Poll

  1. North Texas (9) 99
  2. WKU 82
  3. Charlotte (1) 78
  4. LA Tech 84
  5. Florida Atlantic 56
  6. UAB 56
  7. UTSA 39
  8. FIU 25
  9. Middle Tennessee 25
  10. UTEP 16

Preseason Team

C Kaeli Christensen, North Texas

C Sierra Frazier, UAB

INF Ella Chancey, Charlotte

INF Kailey Gamble, North Texas

INF Amanda Gonzalez, LA Tech

INF Kat Ibarra, UTSA

INF Lindsey Smith, UAB

OF Sara Berthiaume, FAU

OF Lexi Cobb, North Texas

OF Taylor Davis, WKU

OF Sierra Sacco, LA Tech

OF Bailey Vannoy, Charlotte

UT Marena Estell, UTSA

P Lynn Gardner, FAU

P Ashley Peters, North Texas

P Skylar Savage, North Texas


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 lpjnewsla@gmail.com

Friday, Jan. 27
7 p.m.: High school honor band kickoff (Howard Auditorium, Louisiana Tech)

Saturday, Jan. 28
9 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Ruston Farmers Market
1 p.m.: LA Tech women’s basketball v UTSA
3:30 p.m.: GSU women’s basketball v Jackson State
5:30 p.m.: GSU men’s basketball v Jackson State
4 p.m.: Louisiana Tech high school band kickoff (Howard Auditorium, Louisiana Tech)
7 p.m.: Creedence Revived – The Premier CCR Tribute Band (Dixie Center for the Arts)


Lee’s career night leads Tech to win No. 600 in Ruston

Courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications

Louisiana Tech women’s basketball team picked up win No. 600 all-time at home in Ruston over UAB (67-62) behind Robyn Lee’s career-high 20 points off the bench.

“It’s really special to be a part of this program,” said Tech head coach Brooke Stoehr. “The players and coaches that have come before us have built this thing, and we now represent all of them. This crowd and our fans have been incredible over the entirety of this program. We have great fans who make playing here in Ruston a special experience, and they are as much a part of these 600 wins as anyone.”

UAB (10-9, 2-8 C-USA) got off to a blazing 11-2 start and extended their lead to 11 (19-8) after another 8-2 spurt in the first that LA Tech (12-8, 5-5 C-USA) finally stopped with their own 7-0 to cut the lead to 21-14 after one.

In the second, it was the Robyn Lee show, who scored nine of her first half 16 and tied the game at 25 after an 11-4 start to the period. Tech grabbed their first lead of the night (30-27) off a Keiunna Walker three with 3:28 to go. After UAB answered with a three on the ensuing possession, Gabbie Green grabbed the lead right back with a three of her own en route to a 9-4 finish to the half.

Tech picked right back up in the third quarter with a 9-0 run over the first four minutes to build a 14-point lead at 48-34. Both teams traded mini runs to complete the third stanza, with Tech holding on to a 54-45 advantage.

Facing foul trouble, Tech would struggle to score in the fourth as UAB chipped away and cut the game to two possessions (60-56) with 3:24 remaining. However, Tech was able to come up with some big defensive stops down the stretch, including a forced shot clock violation, and held UAB to just 1-6 over the final four minutes.

Amaya Brannon scored three of her 12 points on three big free throws in the final 23 seconds to give Tech enough breathing room to capture their eighth in a row over the Blazers. Walker had an all-around night adding 18 points and seven rebounds to go along with two assists and two steals.

“It was great to get back on track after a tough last week,” said Stoehr. “We didn’t get off to a good start defensively, but we settled in and responded well tonight. Our bench was huge tonight, with Gabbie and Robyn playing great defense on the ball and then scoring 23 off the bench. Sil did a great job being aggressive on her drives, and we need her to take those moments when they come. UAB can score it, and holding them to just three threes on the night tells you what a great job we did in that area.”

Tech shot 46 percent, hitting 24-52 from the floor, while UAB hit 22-54 from the field, shooting 41 percent. Tech outrebounded UAB (34-29), moving to 8-0 this season when pulling down more boards than their opponents.


Dogs falter in second half in road loss at UAB

Cobe Williams recorded his fourth straight 20-plus point effort in the Bulldogs loss. (Photo by Kane McGuire)

Courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications

After controlling much of the first half, Louisiana Tech was outscored by 11 in the second half, which contributed to a 65-59 loss to UAB on Thursday night inside Bartow Arena.

“The difference in the ball game was our maturity down the stretch,” said Tech head coach Talvin Hester. “We did something that worked for a long time in the game. It was giving us results, but we have to be able to lock in and adjust late in games. UAB is a really good team. They play hard the whole game. We have had the problem of playing 40 minutes this season. We have to keep growing. We need our upperclassmen to step up and lead.”

LA Tech (11-10, 4-6 C-USA) had the lead for 18 of the 20 minutes in the first stanza, getting five three-pointers to drop. Four of the five came on the Bulldogs final four field goals of the stanza, getting triples from Jordan Crawford, Keaston Willis, and a pair from Cobe Williams to gain a 30-25 advantage at half.

Willis drilled another three one-minute deep into the second stanza, which was followed by an old-fashioned three-point play by Williams who challenged the Blazers Trey Jemison at the rim and won. It gave LA Tech its largest lead of the game at 36-28.

Foul trouble started to mount though for the Dogs, and UAB (14-7, 5-5 C-USA) used it to their advantage. The Blazers went on an 11-2 run to grab their first lead since the opening minute of the contest. It was a stretch that saw the ‘Dogs miss seven straight shots.

Williams buried his third three-pointer to snap the drought, making it a 44-45 game with 9:42 to go. However, LA Tech found itself in another dry spell, and this time it was UAB who used the three-ball in big moments.

After starting 2-of-14 from deep, the Blazers got back-to-back triples from Tony Toney and Eric Gaines to build their largest lead of the game at 59-50 with 2:50 to play.

LA Tech ended up making just one less field goal (only shot 33.9 percent for the game) than UAB, but the Blazers took 20 more free throw attempts, which also aided the home team.

Williams finished with a game-high 21 points, his fourth straight game of 20+ points. Willis added 13 as the only other Bulldog in double figures.

Gaines was one of four UAB players with double-digit points, scoring 19.


Remembering Jessie Bert Coggins, III

Jessie Bert Coggins, III

Private graveside services for the family of Jessie Bert Coggins, III, age 64 of Dubach, LA was held at 11:00 AM, Thursday, January 26, 2023 at Unionville Cemetery in Dubach with Bro. Barry Joyner officiating. Burial was under the direction of Owens Memorial Chapel Funeral Home of Ruston, LA.

Jessie was born April 5, 1958 in Marks, MS, and he passed away January 25, 2023 in Ruston. He was a 1976 graduate of Southland Academy and attended classes at Louisiana Tech University. Jessie worked for many years for Hinton Well Service in Lisbon, LA. He was preceded in death by his father Jessie B. Coggins, Jr.; wife Terri; and his infant son Craig.

Jessie is survived by his mother Betty Coggins of Dubach; brothers Tim Coggins and wife Terrill of Bernice, LA and Marc Coggins of Bernice; nieces and nephews: Khaki Coggins Wiygul, Navy Coggins, Avery Coggins and Aubrey Coggins; special and dear friend Paula Lucas of Haughton, LA; and a host of family and friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Tarbutton Road traffic flow being discussed in preparation for Buc-ee’s

Traffic flow in relation to Ruston Junior High School is one of the areas being discussed by the Lincoln Parish School Board, City of Ruston and DOTD.

By Malcolm Butler

 

All parties involved agree that traffic flow on Tarbutton Road will be one of the biggest challenges that will need to be addressed over the next two years in preparation for the construction and operation of Buc-ee’s.

With Ruston Junior High School located directly across from the land where Buc-ee’s and subsequent, unknown-at-this-time businesses will be built in the near future, traffic flow especially around the early morning and mid-afternoon hours must be addressed.

With a timeline for a January of 2025 opening of the travel center, the city of Ruston is already having conversations with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) according to Mayor Ronny Walker. They are trying to determine the necessary steps and the best solution for adding lanes, stop lights and stop signs that would alleviate traffic problems that would occur otherwise.

“We won’t know anything for sure until the traffic study is done, but we believe that they will have to add some additional lanes,” said Walker. “The traffic study is to help with what we need to do on exit ramps and lanes going into Buc-ee’s.”

According to Walker the traffic study will take months to complete, but that they are already working on some design elements.

“We just had a discussion with Buc-ee’s about that Tuesday,” said Walker. “They have over 50 stores. They know what works in other places.

“It usually takes anywhere from two to six months for the traffic study to be completed and that is being optimistic really.  So, we can’t just sit back and wait for it to happen. We must be ready based on our discussions with DOTD over the next few weeks.

“We are moving forward with some design elements right now. Buc-ee’s has already given us what they would like to see happen, but the DOTD will have to sign off on anything that is done. They get the final say so as far as the roads go.”

Walker said that there is adequate space for additional lanes to be added, it’s just a matter of determining exactly what is needed.

“When you get off the interstate (going West), there are currently three lanes,” said Walker. “One turns left towards the bridge, one goes straight, and one turns right. I think they will have to put a stop sign to the service road to make people stop instead of just merging. And then I think they will have to have two lanes that turn right onto Tarbutton. Those same two lanes would turn into Buc-ee’s.

“On the flip side going east towards Monroe, it’s one lane now. I think it’s going to have to be two lanes, just like it is on Highway 33. It’s going to have to be very similar to that.”

The Lincoln Parish School District is also discussing solutions on their end to help with traffic flow in the morning and mid-afternoons, according to Superintendent Ricky Durrett.

“I think we have to figure some traffic flow things out, maybe adding some other entrances,” said Durrett.

Ruston Junior High School principal Keisha Douglas said she has heard a few people talking about what impact Buc-ee’s will have on RJHS during drop-off and pickup during the week.

“I’ve heard some traffic questions so far in regard to the school,” said Douglas. “But we have the car line on the south side of the school. The buses come in from Tarbutton, but our parents use the service road. They make the circle and get back onto the Tarbutton exit.

“I don’t foresee there being any issue (by the time Buc-ee’s opens). Mr. (Ricky) Durrett started this conversation with us two weeks ago at our principal’s meeting. I know it’s being discussed.”

Marina Bishop, whose daughter currently attends RJHS, said she is interested to see what will happen to alleviate people’s concerns.

“My main concerns are about traffic flow at Tarbutton and all of its configurations as well as how it will affect Tech Drive,” said Bishop.

Durrett said from the junior high standpoint, there is some talks about adding an additional entrance off the service road that would run behind the school (east side). However, currently, the land that would be needed for that isn’t owned by the school board.

However, Durrett said that discussions area in the works about those options and others.

“I think we do have to figure out some additional traffic flow, maybe using some other entrances,” said Durrett. “Look for an additional entrance to come off the service road. We may do something different with our bus flow too.”

With almost 24 months until Buc-ee’s is scheduled to open, there is adequate time for all parties to address the necessary changes that will need to occur.

 


Local teachers collaborate to create book

By Kelsey Horath

Ruston school teacher LeJoyce Adams never realized a student’s doodle art would lead to a road of inspiration in creating her own world of doodles and characters.

Adams is a second grade special education inclusion teacher at Hillcrest Elementary School and has been an educator for almost 20 years. Outside of the classroom, Adams enjoys putting her creativity into writing and children’s book. Adams has two published books and her most recent being “Doodlebug Jones, The Arteest Extraordinaire.”

“This title is derived from watching a student in class who would rather doodle than do classwork,” Adams said. 

In the book, readers can see a similar character, Doodlebug Jones who enjoys creating art and will sometimes create playful mischief for herself and others. 

“This book is about a very creative and spunky little girl (who is slightly mischievous)and loves art,” Adams said. “She finds out that they have a new art teacher at school, but she also gets the surprise of her life at the end of the book.”

Creating the world inside “Doodlebug Jones, The Arteest Extraordinaire” was a very tedious and sometimes stressful process; however, at the end of the day, Adams enjoyed every step of creating the small details.  

“Writing is one of my hobbies,” Adams said. “It is my therapy.

However, these small details were not created by Adams alone, but with the help of Anna Alexander. 

Alexander is a teacher at Hillcrest Elementary and Glen View Elementary, where she teaches art to K-2. Recently, she was awarded “Louisiana Elementary Art Educator of the Year” for 2022. When Alexander is not teaching, she enjoys performing at a local theater and finding art in all outlets. 

I’ve always done everything that I could to create artistically,” Alexander said. “My brain is just wired that way.”

Designing Doodlebug Jones and her world was a wonderful and exciting time for Alexander, where inspiration was far from lacking and the small, intricate details painted the biggest picture. 

“Being able to be creative in this way has been fun and surprisingly relaxing,” Alexander said. “I’ll put my earbuds in and listen to relaxing music and dive into creating Doodlebug Jones’ world.” 

Joining the creative process as an illustrator with Adams for “Doodlebug Jones, The Arteest Extraordinaire” brought together an even more extraordinaire team than Doodlebug Jones herself.

To experience all the colorful doodles and silly mischief Doodlebug Jones has to offer, stop by Rolling Hills Bookstore Thursday, Jan. 26, from 3:30-5:30 p.m. for a book signing with Adams and Alexander. The bookstore is located at 1103 Farmerville Highway.


Aggies, Panthers remain undefeated in district action

Parker Batterton scored 20 points to help Choudrant snap a 26-game losing streak against Simsboro Tuesday night. (photo by Stacey Harper)

By T. Scott Boatrightk

 

It was a long time coming, and looked somewhat unlikely early on.

But Choudrant overcame an early deficit and surged back in the second quarter to remain undefeated in District 2-B Tuesday night by taking a 66-49 win over Simsboro at the CHS Gym.

It was the Aggies’ first win over Simsboro in the last 26 meetings since a 40-37 Choudrant win on Feb. 3, 2012.

Simsboro coach Randy Carlisle’s Tigers roared out to a 19-9 advantage by the end of the opening stanza as the Aggies struggled to hit their shots.

But the Aggies outscored Simsboro 25-16 in the second quarter to cut the Tigers lead to 35-34 at intermission.

Choudrant then outscored Simsboro 19-9 in the third period to build a 53-43 advantage by the end of the third quarter before holding the Tigers to only five points in the final eight minutes to secure the win.

“I am so proud of everyone tonight,” Aggies coach said of his team’s win. “We always talk about being mature and disciplined. Tonight showed what having leadership means to a basketball team.

“What a night!”

Smith, in his 17th season at CHS and 14th as head coach, admitted it felt good to finally get the “beating Simsboro monkey” off the Aggies backs. 

“It feels great, but more so for these kids and the community that does such a wonderful job of supporting them,” Smith said. “Simsboro lost a ton of talent from last year’s state championship team, but they’re still a very good basketball team. Coach Carlisle of course does a great job just as he’s done everywhere else he’s been with all those wins he has.

“I think the average fan thought it would be an easy win because they lost so much talent, but the more we looked at them the more we saw that these guys are still pretty good. So it was a great experience, a great moment for this team and the community. The community was really fired up throughout the game. For me personally, seeing what it means to my players and the community makes it that much more significant.”

Smith said he didn’t bring up Simsboro’s 59-game winning streak heading into the contest until halftime.

“I thought not saying anything about it until then would kind of help drive home the point to finish the game strong,” Smith said. “That was good motivation. Not that they needed motivation. This team was prepared. They were ready. I think it’s something they’ve shown every game this season — that it doesn’t matter who’s on the other side, they’re ready to compete and try to get the victory.”

Parker Batterton led the Aggies with 20 points while Mike Jones added 14 and Lachlan Thompson chipped in with 12.

The Aggies, who have now won four straight games, stand at 22-6 overall and 2-0 in district play, will next play at Forest on Tuesday.

Simsboro was led by 25 points from Earnest Chapman while Trumarion Smith added nine and Kelop Wright chipped in with eight.

The Tigers, now 6-15 and 0-1, will next play at Kilbourne on Thursday,

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Choudrant 47, Quitman 40 (BOYS)

The Aggies did it with defense Friday night to take a seven-point home win over Quitman.

Michael Jones poured in 18 points to lead the Aggies, who also received 13 points by Lachlan Thompson.

CHS led 14-10 after the first quarter and 25-20 at halftime before outscoring the Wolverines 8-4 in the final stanza to secure the win.

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Choudrant 57, Weston 27 (BOYS)

The Aggies took control early against Weston on Thursday night, building a 16-6 advantage by the end of the first quarter at the CHS Gym.

Mike Jones led the way for Choudrant with 20 points while Parker Batteron hit for 18 in a game in which 10 Aggies put points on the scoreboard.

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Lincoln Prep 52, OCS 37 (BOYS)

The Panthers remained undefeated in District 2-1A action as they went on the road to earn a win Tuesday night at Ouachita Christian.

Lincoln Prep led 14-10 at the end of the first stanza but pushed its lead to 30-17 by intermission.

Bralyn Mayfield led the way for Lincoln Prep with 25 points and 13 rebounds while adding five steals and two blocked shots.

The Panthers also got eight points, four assists, four rebounds and three steals from Brandon Heard while Amarjae Young added six points, three steals and two assists and Trey Spann chipped in with five points, four steals, four assists, four rebounds and a blocked shot.

Lincoln Prep, now 14-4 and 4-0 in district play, will next play at Cedar Creek on Friday.

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Lincoln Prep 71, River Oaks 18 (BOYS)

The Panthers roared to an early lead en route to a big district win over River Oaks on Jan. 17 at the New Living Word Gym in Ruston.

Lincoln Prep built a 23-7 lead by the end of the first quarter and was on top 45-14 at the half.

Bralyn Mayfield topped the Panthers with 14 points while adding two assists and two steals.

Kobe Mack chipped in with 12 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals for the Panthers while Trey Spann added 10 points, five steals, two assists and one rebound.

The Panthers also got nine points, four assists and four steals from Brandon Heard, six points, six assists, three rebounds and two steals from Stephen Burks III, six points, four rebounds, four steals, an assist and a blocked shot from Verlanski Glosson, Jr. and six points, a steal and block from Amarjae Young.

 
 

Domestic incident leads to arrest

A Ruston woman was arrested Saturday after she allegedly attacked her boyfriend and then resisted officers attempting to take her into custody.

Ruston Police officers responded to any recorded domestic fight in progress at a East Line Avenue residence about 11 p.m. Saturday night. A man told officers his girlfriend, Latonya Y. Underwood, 39, and her son had attacked him. While officers attempted to talk with the man, Underwood exited the residence and verbally threatened him. An officer instructed Underwood to move away but she refused. When the officer attempted to guide Underwood away from the man, she pulled away. She was taken into custody and placed in a patrol car. 

While officers talked with the man, Underwood began kicking and hitting the patrol car window after having pulled a hand free of her handcuffs. When an officer opened the patrol car door, Underwood attempted to get out and attack the man. She was handcuffed again and taken to the Lincoln Parish Detention Center.

Ruston Ambulance Service transported the man to Northern Louisiana Medical Center for treatment of severe lacerations to the arm and head injuries. He said Underwood caused the injuries by striking him with a glass picture frame.

Underwood was booked for domestic abuse battery, resisting an officer, and six warrants from Ruston City Court was failure to appear on charges of speeding, two counts of driving under suspension, no child restraint, hit and run, and DWI. Bail on the warrants totaled $19,000. The bail amount for the other offenses was not 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. 


Creek’s Soto inks with Ragin’ Cajuns

Flanking Lillian Soto (second from left) as she signed to play for ULL were (from left to right) father T.J. Soto, mother Brittany Soto and brother Hunter Soto. (Photo by T. Scott Boatright)

By T. Scott Boatright

 

Going from Cougar to Cajun felt like a home run move for Cedar Creek senior softball player Lillian Soto.

Soto made her first step in that move Wednesday as she signed a National Letter of Intent to continue her softball career on the collegiate level with the Ragin’ Cajuns of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.

“On my visit, I loved the Cajuns’ staff – they were amazing,” Soto said. “The atmosphere they brought and the facility in general is just really nice.”

Location also spiced up Soto’s desire to head to ULL.

“I didn’t want to go too far from home so that was a happy medium for me,” said Soto, who was also recruited by a number of other DI schools including Western Michigan and Georgia State. “I think that was kind of a big deciding factor. I had a couple other options, but they were a lot farther than I wanted to go. That was not part of the plan.”

Cedar Creek head softball coach Julie Riser said the Ragin’ Cajuns are getting a good one.

“She has played for me since sixth grade,” Riser said. “She started as a seventh grader on our championship team. I knew when I saw her take her turn in the (batting) cage as a sixth-grader she was going to be special. I told my assistants that she was going to play varsity the next year.

“It’s been a long road, I know. She had an ACL injury, and we all know that gets tough mentally and physically rehabbing all that. But that’s been her journey, and I’m super proud of her. She played travel ball all throughout and worked really hard individually, too, with her dad (LA Tech letterman TJ Soto, who was drafted by the Houston Astros in 2000). They put in a lot of time and hard work.”

Soto and her father both thanked the community for its support.

“Moving back down here when we did and getting the support we’ve gotten from the community and this family of friends throughout this journey,” said TJ Soto. “With the injury and the time we spent, we greatly appreciate all of y’all for what you’ve done for us as a family and the support you’ve given her throughout the athletic career she’s had from softball to basketball and through the injury process.”

As a junior at Cedar Creek last spring, the Lady Cougars’ infielder batted .385 with eight doubles, 10 home runs and 39 RBIs. 

Soto followed that up with a .414 batting average and 1.034 slugging percentage in fall travel ball while producing 12 RBIs over 29 at-bats for Baton Rouge-based D1Vision 18U Nationals.

She earned second-team all-district honors during the Lady Cougars 2018 state championship run and second-team all-district honors in 2019 when Cedar Creek reached the quarterfinals. She garnered academic all-district in 2021 on a state quarterfinals finisher following the COVID season of 2020, and she was first-team and academic all-district while earning Creek’s Defensive Player Award as a junior.

Soto said she wasn’t 100 percent sure if she would red-shirt her first year or not.

“They want to see how I do in the fall,” said Soto, who said she plans to major in something to do with nursing. “Depending on what happens then will play a big part in their decision of whether I play in the spring or if they red-shirt me my first year.”

 

 

 


Building the wedding community

By Spencer Drake

After the 2022 Wedding Expo turned out to be impactful for the community, Emily and Jim Wilkerson decided to bring it to Ruston again. With new vendors and a great host site, the 2023 Wedding Expo hopes of bringing the wedding community in the area closer together.

The Wedding Expo will be held in the Norton Building in downtown Ruston and will host multiple vendors, all bringing a unique service to help complete the special day for many of the couples that attend. It will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28.

“The goal is to provide many different  local vendors with many different services. Not only do we get to help the local vendors by getting their name exposed, but the vendors get to help local couples have the best day they could possibly imagine,” said Emily Wilkerson. 

The Expo is also an opportunity for couples to meet other couples and create a sense of community. Couples can bounce ideas off of each other, gather opinions or simply make new friends in the same stage of life. The vendors can also be apart of this community as they are right there in person with the couples. This creates a chance for the couples and the vendors to get to know each other on a much more personable level.

“Having the vendors in person there with the couples makes all the difference in the world because it makes the interaction between the two that much more personable,” Emily Wilkerson said.