Teacher Feature: Cypress Springs’ Kelli Black reveals her relationship-centered approach to teaching

By Alexis Newman

Sometimes it feels like teacher it just there to lecture and leave, but elementary teacher Kelli Black prefers a more connected approach.

Black has worked at Cypress Springs Elementary School for nine years, five of which were in fourth grade and four in third grade. She currently teaches her favorite subject, math, at the third-grade level, although she has also taught science in the past.

Even though math is considered a purely logical and objective subject, Black believes that one of the best things she can do for her students is show that she cares for them. She said that she puts the relationship with her students first, and then the benefits follow from there.

“Love them first, and then let the work speak for itself,” Black said. “If you get to know the students, they know you love them, they’ll work for you.”

One way to show that is to support the student even when they aren’t at their best. Black said that the students know she cares because she reassures them that it’s okay to slip up sometimes.

“Checking on them. Making sure they know it’s okay to have a bad day. Everybody has a bad day, but you can still encourage them and pick them up when they’re having that,” Black said.

The best way to build a solid relationship, though, is to level with them, and Black said she tries to be as real as possible so that the students know that their teacher is a person too. That recognition helps the students to do their best and not be afraid to mess up.

“Let them know that you’re a real person as well, and doing that just really I think encourages them to let them know that they can make mistakes in their work or they can have a bad day,” Black said.

LPJ high school games of the week: Creek sweeps

By T. Scott Boatright


The Cedar Creek boys basketball team came out of the gates fast and hard Tuesday night, with an attacking defense that helped the Cougars defeat Glenbrook 55-28 at The Brickhouse.

Cedar Creek’s press and size frustrated the Apaches from the start, as the Cougars scored the opening six points with D.J. Carter’s free throw at the 6:24 mark of the first quarter being the first score of the night for Glenbrook.

“That’s been good to us early on this season,” Cougars coach Robert Mitcham said about his team’s press defense. “Carter Hill (a 6-2, 175-pound junior) has the wingspan of a condor. We’re long. Even our guards are long.”

The Cougars pushed their advantage to 21-6 at the end of the first quarter and 34-6 at the half.

“We looked great at times, and sloppy at times, which is normal first of the season stuff,” said Mitcham. “I’m proud of them. We just have to learn to pick our spots on offense and not try to go to the basketball on every possession. 

“You have to let your offense give you the opportunities to attack the basketball and not just do it every time. We get a little bit ancy sometimes, but they’re young. They’re learning. And we only have one senior.”

After each team managed only six points in the third quarter, Cedar Creek outscored the Apaches 15-11 in the final eight minutes to win its fifth straight game to open the season.

“We needed this momentum,” Mitcham said. “We’ve never started out 5-0 since I’ve been here, so we just have to keep on working.”

Hill led the Cougars with 14 points on the night while Davis Walsworth added 13 and Hayden McClusky chipped in with 10.

“I’m pleased with the effort, and we have got the best group of kids I have coached since I’ve been here,” Mitcham said. “There’s not a bit of an attitude problem in the whole bunch. They’re not selfish. They love each other. And they’ve got great chemistry — that makes it so much fun to coach these guys. You only have to worry about things on the court. You don’t have to worry about jealousies and selfishness and all of that.



The Cedar Creek girls team used strong starts in both halves to march to its 76-23 win over the Lady Apaches.

Sarah Adams’ nine-point performance in the opening stanza, aided by six points each from Allie Furr and Ava Hartwell, helped the Lady Cougars build a 23-8 advantage by the end of the first quarter.

But Cedar Creek slowed down in the second quarter, went into the locker room leading 35-15 at intermission.

“In the first half we kind of jumped out and got a little lead, but it didn’t really seem to click until the third quarter,” said Lady Cougars coach Gene Vandenlendenberg. “Then it all came together and we put together a big run there that kind of finished out the game early.

“We’re trying something different — playing a little more up tempo and using the press, and I think we just kind of ran out of gas there late in the first half. We also need to watch our fouls. We committed too many out there tonight.”

The Lady Cougars roared away from the Lady Apaches in the third quarter, outscoring Glenbrook 26-3 in the stanza and allowing Vandenlendenberg to be able to to empty his bench for valuable playing time early in the fourth quarter, with nine players contributing to Cedar Creek’s scoring effort on the night.

“We’ve scheduled a lot of JV games, so those girls have been seeing a lot of action on that level,”  Vandenlendenberg said. “But any time we can get them out there in these varsity games, with the crowd, the students and all of the excitement, it’s not like practice or even a JV game. I’m proud of the way the team played overall and had fun playing together out there, because that allowed some of our younger girls some game experience. And I’m proud that they played well. They came together in the fourth quarter and played hard and did well.”

Adams led Cedar Creek with 25 points while Hartwell added 15, Furr chipped in with 12, Millie Venters and Elli Dickerson hit for six each and Zoey Venters finished with five.

Photo: Darrell James (dgjames.photoshelter.com)


Tech’s Flight Team soars to Nationals after qualifying at Regionals

Louisiana Tech’s Precision Flight Team, a student organization that competes in National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) events, participated in its regional event in late October and performed well enough to qualify for the national competition at Ohio State University in May 2022. 

The date is undetermined at this time; last year, the competition was not held. 

The team either won or placed in the top three spots in several individual events and finished second and third in team events at the Regional held at Delta State in Cleveland, Mississippi. 

“The Flight Team’s accomplishments are a result of student initiative and performance,” said Jon Pearson, an Assistant Professor in Tech’s Department of Aviation. “Students sign up, schedule, coordinate, and practice for competition. Credit for their performance belongs to them. As faculty advisor, I merely communicate with NIFA and the other schools.” 

There are 22 members on the team. Because of limitations on how many can compete and expenses, 12 students made the trip to Regionals. 

NIFA’s motto is “Safety through Education, Excellence through Competition.” The organization breaks its annual events into Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (SAFECON) Regionals and the SAFECON National Championship. Louisiana Tech is part of Region IV, which consists of flight departments, colleges, and universities in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. 

At the regionals and nationals, students compete individually or in pairs, depending on the event. There are ground and flight events. 

Ground competitions include preflight inspection, aircraft recognition, ground trainer (simulator), navigation, and computer accuracy (in manually performing accurate aviation calculations). Flight competitions include aircraft navigation (how accurately a flight is planned and executed), message drop (accuracy in dropping a message container at specified targets), and landing accuracy events. 

Tech students and the team placed within the top three in the following competitions: 

Ground events — Aircraft Preflight Inspection, Cody Coker, first place; Ground Trainer, Ryan Walker, second place; Computer Accuracy, Ryan Walker, third place. 

Flight events — Aircraft Navigation (two-person crew), Holden Martin and Zachary Hanks, first place; Ryan Walker and Caitlin Crews, third place; Message Drop (two-person crew), Cade DeLoach and Daniel Asdel, first place. 

Overall team performance for all students in all events — Tech finished second in the ground events championship and third in the SAFECON Championship. 

The leaders of the team and those most responsible for coordinating practices, travel, and communication are President Russell Lewis, Vice President Laura Daniel, and Treasurer Caitlin Crews. 

“The flight team is full of highly motivated students who want to do more than just go through the motions of flying and going to class,” said Lewis, a senior from Cincinnati, Ohio, majoring in Professional Aviation. “We go out of our way to make time to practice both flying events and to take practice tests in preparation for competition. Most other schools’ flight teams have designated coaches and classes where they are trained for competition, whereas we do not.” 

Because of that, seniors like Lewis and Daniel, who is from Paris, Texas, and also a Professional Aviation major, are tasked with the responsibility of filling what would traditionally be the role of a coach for the newer members. 

“This leads to a sort of familial culture,” Daniel said, “where it’s our job to make sure the younger members of the team fit in and have a good time.” 

That attitude paid off in Mississippi in October. 

The goals of the team include qualifying for national competitions, attending local fly-ins, and promoting safety and camaraderie within Tech’s Department of Aviation. The team is a year-round commitment, and during competition season, there’s an event almost every day. 

“We try to have at least one event every two weeks in our ‘off season,’ whether it’s a plane wash or a practice,” Daniel said. “We have one quarterly business meeting where we try to establish a roster and brief all members on upcoming events and competitions. This also usually coincides with an interest meeting when we have them. If one wanted to join the team, we are a no-cut team as of right now and anyone who is a Professional Aviation major can join.” 

The best way to join is either to attend an interest meeting or to contact a member. 

Junior Professional Aviation major Cody Coker of Calhoun finished first in Aircraft Preflight Inspection. The NIFA bugged a Cessna 150 with 40 discrepancies that would cause the plane to be not airworthy, then gave each contestant a maximum time of 15 minutes to find as many discrepancies as possible. 

“I was able to find 38 of 40 in eight minutes and 10 seconds, which was extremely impressive and fast to the judges,” Coker said. 

Ryan Walker of Round Rock, Texas, a senior double-majoring in Physics and Professional Aviation, placed second in Ground Trainer and third in Computer Accuracy. Ground Trainer is a solo event that takes place in an analog Cessna 172 Skyhawk simulator, or aviation training device, on the ground. Each contestant must fly a predetermined profile, made up of straight and level flight, climbs, turns, and descents, that lasts about 5-10 minutes. Computerized scoring grades each contestant based on deviation from desired parameters such as altitude, airspeed, and heading. 

“The skills required for this event are exactly the same as those required for all Tech pilots during the beginning of instrument training, and I owe my performance to the training I received at Tech,” Walker said. “The computer accuracy event is a 60-minute written test that consists of 40 multiple-choice questions that require an E6B or similar manual flight computer for solving; an E6B is essentially a slide-rule calculator specialized for aviation problems.” 

Senior Zachary Hanks and junior Holden Martin, both Professional Aviation majors from Lafayette, won the Aircraft Aviation event. Walker and Bossier City senior and Professional Aviation major Caitlin Crews finished third. The event judges how accurately teams can plan and execute a flight. Teams are assigned a specific altitude, airspeed, and a route made up of five waypoints. 

Using the 30 minutes allotted, Martin did the calculations using the performance charts for the airplane and the current weather forecast. Hanks was then “tasked with actually flying the airplane precisely on the route that Holden had mapped out for me,” Hanks said, “and with making sure that we flew over each waypoint at the time that he had calculated.” 

“Using our skill and a bit of luck, we crossed the final waypoint at the exact second I planned — 53 minutes and two seconds,” Martin said. “We then headed back to the airport and landed, where our actual fuel burn was just half a gallon off to what I had planned for it to be.” 

Walker did the flying and Crews the calculations for their team. They finished within six percent of their planned fuel burn and within four percent of their estimated time. 

“Overall, I think we did great,” Crews said. “We learned that precise refueling is important in the navigation event. We will practice refueling for Nationals, which will result in the actual fuel burn being closer to the planned fuel burn. 

“This was my first time competing in a NIFA competition, and I look forward to competing at Nationals in the Spring. I’m incredibly proud of everyone on our team and all the hard work that went into preparing for Regionals.” 

Cade DeLoach and Daniel Asdel won the message drop event, in which one student pilots the aircraft, holding it at altitude and adjusting course, while the right seat gives directions to the pilot to adjust course for the effect of wind on the message container and releases the message toward the target at the appropriate time. 

Tech hosts Texas Southern at TAC

Louisiana Tech returns home Wednesday night to face Texas Southern at 6:30 p.m. inside the Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court. 

The game can be heard on the LA Tech Sports Network on 107.5 FM and through the Louisiana Tech Athletics app with the pregame show starting at 6 p.m. It can also be seen streamed on ESPN+.

The Bulldogs are riding an 11-game home winning streak, tied for the 17th longest active streak in the country.

LA Tech (4-2) had its four-game winning streak snapped this past Saturday with a 90-81 loss at NC State.  The Bulldogs found themselves down 15 points midway through the first half.  They were able to cut the deficit down to four, but could never get over the hump despite shooting 50.8 percent from the field (third straight game of shooting at least 49 percent).

Kenneth Lofton, Jr. had a performance for the ages, recording 36 points (14-of-19 from the field), 17 rebounds and four assists.  He became the first Bulldog since Karl Malone in 1982 to register a 35-point, 15-rebound game.

The power forward was named Conference USA Player of the Week after averaging 27.5 points while shooting 69 percent from the field (20-of-29) and 71 percent from the foul line (15-of-21) in the two games against ULM and NC State.  He also averaged 14.5 rebounds for the week. 

The Bulldogs have scored 80+ points in four straight games and are averaging 80.8 points per game, ranking 52nd in the country.  Lofton, Jr. (18.2), Keaston Willis (13.3) and Amorie Archibald (11.8) are the top three scorers.  

Texas Southern (0-6) is winless on the season, having suffered losses on the road to Oregon, Saint Mary’s, Washington, Air Force, NC State and BYU.  Four of those six losses have come by single digits while the Tigers are in the midst of a 13-game road swing to begin the season.

TSU, a team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season and is picked to finish first in the SWAC this season, is one of the best rebounding teams in the country.  They average 39.8 rebounds per game, including 14.7 offensive boards which ranks 14th in the country.  Defensively, they have held three of their opponents to 70 points or less. 

There are three Tigers averaging double-figure points, led by John Walker III who is averaging 12.2 points per game.  He has gotten to the free throw line 30 times and made 24.  PJ Henry is right behind him, averaging 11.3 points with a team-high eight made three-pointers.

This will be just the third meeting between LA Tech and Texas Southern and the first since 2000.  The first meeting came in the 1979-80 season opener in Ruston with the Bulldogs winning, 88-69.  The ‘Dogs were also an 83-64 winner in the second meeting.

LPJ to return to five-day publishing cycle

Starting this weekend, the Lincoln Parish Journal will return to publishing just five days a week (Monday through Friday).

With the end of football season, the LPJ will publish exclusively on weekdays with breaking news still being provided on Saturday and/or Sunday as needed.

We want to encourage our readers to continue to send us feedback: the good, the bad and the ugly. We want story ideas, suggestions of how we can serve Lincoln Parish better, and anything that our readers feel will help us as we continue to become the No. 1 source of news and sports in our area.

We want to thank your readers for helping us grow by more than 250 percent over the past three months and we look forward to continuing to grow as we head into 2022.

GSU earns Future Forward Change Champion Award from HBCUgrow 

Grambling State University was recently honored for winning the LEAD: Future Forward Change Champion Award for 2021 from HBCUgrow.

The award, presented at the annual HBCUgrow LEAD Conference in Richmond, Va., is to recognize HBCUs that did a good job of pivoting to address the recent challenges and positioning in their schools for future growth.

The challenges Grambling State faced during COVID and how the university responded played a significant role in earning the honor.

“The real credit has to go to everybody who played a part and this was truly a team effort,” said Grambling State University President Rick Gallot. “Everybody who served on our COVID response team – from academic affairs to information technology, student affairs, food service – everyone played an instrumental role in responding to something that none of us ever thought we would have encountered in our lifetime. You saw a true effort to make sure we provided the services that were so desperately needed by our students as well as not compromising the safety and health of our faculty, staff and community as well.”

COVID-19 caused a rift across the country as universities were left scrambling to pivot operations and instruction. Although courses transitioned to a fully online format at the onset of the pandemic, Gallot said the institution wanted to continue to support those students who were in need.

“During the onset of the pandemic, there were so many other schools that did not have the wherewithal to sustain the student populations on campus,” Gallot said. “One of our peer institutions had less than 350 students on campus and we had close to 2,000.”

Upgrades to the IT infrastructure prior to the pandemic made it possible to offer a strong wireless connection to resident students while a laptop loan program aided off-campus students with taking online courses. Campus living and housing also adjusted their in-person programming to a virtual format to stay connected. 

“It showed that we had the capacity to support our students, many of whom really needed the reliability of a place to stay, food service, and having access to technology that many of them did not and would not have had at home,” Gallot said. “All-in-all, our team performed magnificently under some incredibly unprecedented challenges.”

HBCUgrow is a consortium of people dedicated to helping HBCU’s grow enrollment and alumni giving and tackle the changing landscape of marketing challenges. 


Troopers delivered death notifications to 16 families during holiday

 As family and friends gathered for Thanksgiving festivities, Louisiana State Police troopers investigated multiple fatality crashes throughout our state. Lack of seat belt usage and speed were among the major contributing factors.

LSP reported this morning that troopers investigated ten fatal crashes, which resulted in 16 fatalities from the afternoon of Wednesday, November 24 through Monday night. “This was a significant increase as compared to last year’s travel period,” noted a LSP press release. “In 2020, eight fatalities occurred in seven crashes. This total does not include crash investigations conducted by local law enforcement agencies leading to potentially higher fatal statistics.”

Two Grambling State students were killed in separate crashes during the Thanksgiving break.

LSP reminds motorists that traffic congestion will continue throughout the holidays, and drivers are urged to exercise patience and good judgment behind the wheel. Although the statistics changed, the causes of these crashes remain the same. Impairment, speeding, distractions and lack of seat belts are common factors. 

“As we approach the Christmas and New Year holiday, please do your part by never driving while impaired or riding with an impaired driver,” the press statement urges. “Obey the speed limit, avoid distractions while behind the wheel, and always ensure proper seat belt use for all vehicle occupants. Louisiana State Troopers and local law enforcement partners remain committed to preventing these tragic crashes and will be working to enforce the state’s seat belt and impaired driving laws throughout the holidays.” 

Motorists can report unsafe drivers to the nearest LSP Troop by dialing *LSP (*577). Information about road conditions, construction activities, and other critical incidents can be obtained by visiting the 511 Traveler Information System website at www.511la.org, calling 511, or downloading the Louisiana 511 app.

Notice of death — Nov. 30, 2021

Sandra Lee Skinner Purcell 
June 23, 1954 – October 24, 2021 
Memorial Service: Thursday, December 02, 2021, 2:00 PM, Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, 2500 W. California Ave., Ruston 

Bobbie Sue Hogan Lann  
August 1, 1939 – November 28, 2021  
Visitation: Temple Baptist Church Sanctuary, Wednesday, December 1, 2021, 10:00 am – 11:00 am  
Service: Temple Baptist Church Sanctuary, Wednesday, December 1, 2021, 11:00 am  
Cemetery: Greenwood Cemetery, Wednesday, December 1, 2021 

Arrest made in fatal October crash

Louisiana State Police have arrested a Ruston man in connection with a fatal traffic crash that claimed the life of Dubach woman in October.

Levi McCullin, Jr., 62, of Ruston, was arrested on warrants last week charging him with vehicular homicide, no seatbelt, and driving left of center. Bail was set at $100,000.

Troopers assigned to Louisiana State Police Troop F investigated a crash just after 8:00 p.m. October 28 on McCullin Road just west of Louisiana Highway 563. 54-year-old Edith Anderson of Dubach was killed in the collision.

Authorities said a 1999 Ford F-250, driven by McCullin was traveling east on McCullin Road. At the same time, a 1998 Ford Explorer, driven by Anderson was traveling west on McCullin Road. McCullin crossed the centerline and struck Anderson. Impairment on McCullin’s part was suspected at the time. 

Anderson, who was not wearing a seat belt, was transported to Northern Louisiana Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead. McCullin was also unrestrained, suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Stops lead to warrant arrests

Several traffic stops by local enforcement over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend resulted in arrests for outstanding warrants.

About 9:30 Thanksgiving morning, the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Department received a report of a reckless driver nearly striking a bridge. Deputy D. Johnston located the vehicle based on the description given by a concerned caller. The deputy found Johnny W. Key, 62, of Dubach, behind of the wheel of the truck at a Dubach service station. Key reportedly failed field sobriety tests and was arrested. At the Lincoln Parish Detention Center, Key refused to undergo a breath test. Throughout the process, Key threatened to assault the deputy.

Key was booked for DWI, open container, and two counts of public intimidation. Bail on those charges was set at $2,500. Key was also wanted on three bench warrants for failing to appear in Third District Court on charges of criminal trespass, disturbing the peace, and battery of a police officer. No bail has been set on the bench warrants and he remains in the detention center.

On Wednesday, Montez Millbrooks, 32, of Ruston was stopped by city officers who found he was wanted on five warrants for various traffic offenses. He was arrested and booked at the Lincoln Parish Detention Center in lieu of $10,000 bail.

On Friday, Ruston Police Officer D. Hatcher was investigating a theft in the 500 block of South Trenton when he determined one of the individuals present was wanted on warrants. Jahse Allah, 22, of Monroe was arrested on warrants for failure to appear in Ruston City Court on charges of reckless operation of a vehicle and hit and run. Bail was set at $6,000.

Friday morning Louisiana State Trooper Kaleb Reeves stopped a motorist on U.S. 167 in Ruston for failure to wear a seat belt. The drivers refused to give his name and was arrested. On the way to the detention center, the driver identified himself as Jemario R. Brantley, 23, of Ruston. A records check revealed Brantley was wanted on a 2019 Ruston Police warrant for battery of a dating partner. He was also booked for resisting an officer by falsely identifying himself and written a citation for no seatbelt. He remained in custody as of Monday afternoon.

Anderson, Urban earn SWAC honors

Grambling State University sophomore defensive lineman Sundiata Anderson and junior kicker Garrett Urban were selected to the All-Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) postseasons football teams, the conference announced on Monday. 

Anderson was named to the first team, while Urban nabbed the placekicker and punter on the second team. 

“I’m so happy for those two G-Men for being selected to the all-conference teams,” Grambling State interim head coach Terrence Graves said. “They put in the work and now they are being rewarded for the fruits of their labor. Hats of them for earning these honors.” 

Anderson finished with 31 total tackles, including 21 solo stops as he was a defensive force for the Tigers. The College Park, Ga. native registered a team-high five sacks and 7.5 tackles for a loss of 42 yards. In addition, the defensive lineman forced a team-high three fumbles, had two quarterback hurries and one pass breakup. 

Urban, the Grambling State Most Valuable Player of the 48th Annual Bayou Classic, had a banner year for the Tigers on special teams.  

As a field-goal kicker, Urban missed just two kicks all season (at Southern Miss and vs. Alabama A&M) as he went 15-of-17 (88.2 percent), including 8-8 inside 30 yards. In addition, the Houston, Texas native led Grambling State in points with 63 and was 18-of-19 in extra point attempts. 

As a punter, Urban registered 79 kicks for 2,844 yards, including 20 inside the 20 and four of over 50-plus yards. His career bests included 12 punts at Houston and 11 against Southern Miss. He averaged 36.0 yards per punt. Urban kicked off 46 times for Grambling State this season, averaging 53.5 yards a kickoff. 

Alabama A&M’s Aqeel Glass was tabbed the All-SWAC Offensive Player of the Year, while Florida A&M’s Isaiah Land earned the defensive player of the year honor. James Houston, of Jackson State, garnered the newcomer of the year award and teammate Shedeur Sanders picked up the freshman of the year honor. Jackson State’s Deion Sanders was selected the SWAC’s Coach of the Year. 

Shotgun wedding in reverse

By Wesley Harris

The traditional shotgun wedding, replete with gun-toting relatives, is a common premise of comedies set in hillbilly country. Any big-city fellers who wander into such areas had best be discreet about interacting with local womenfolk, lest they find themselves forced—at the point of a gun—to stay a lot longer than they had intended.

But what if the shotgun-wielding relatives show up after the wedding? And the news of the family brouhaha is transmitted to newspapers halfway around the globe?

Sarah Wafer was born into a large and well-known family with extensive land holdings in southeast Claiborne Parish. At 16, she was attending school in Terryville, also known as Quay, then in Claiborne but later annexed as part of Lincoln Parish. Lincoln’s Wafer Creek and Wafer Road are named after the family

In the fall of 1855, a Dr. Clement and 16-year-old Sarah, “an orphan heiress of a wealthy Louisiana planter,” eloped from Claiborne Parish. The couple journeyed to Arkansas “with utmost dispatch” where a quick marriage ceremony was performed.

The account of what happened next was detailed in Homer’s Claiborne Advocate.

On the return trip to Claiborne Parish, Dr. and Mrs. Clement were met by the bride’s brother, James T. Wafer, who forcibly took possession of his sister. Mabry Wafer, Sarah’s father, had died two years earlier, so James had become Sarah’s guardian. Dr. Clement was removed from his seat beside his tearful bride. After some discussion, the groom was allowed to accompany his wife to Wafer’s home.

After a short time, Wafer permitted the couple to leave. The newlyweds went to the doctor’s house in Arcadia. There they resided “in the comfortable enjoyment of about one half of their honeymoon” when Sarah was summoned to the bedside of a sick sister at her brother’s residence.

Apparently, the summons was a ruse to separate Sarah from Clement. While at James’s home, Sarah was presented with a letter written by her brother-in-law, the sister’s husband. The letter accused Dr. Clement of “having basely imposed upon and deceived her and that he was a coward for allowing himself to be chastised by her brother. Even worse, the letter said Clement was “old, ugly, and no physician,” that Sarah did not love him and never did, and that she could never consent again to live with him.

Sarah signed the letter.

The Wafers loaded Sarah in a wagon and carried her to the home of another sister, Mary, who lived with her husband John Wyatt Simmons on the Red River in Bossier Parish.

Dr. Clement followed in pursuit with 15 to 18 armed Arcadia friends. Reaching the Red River home, they demanded Sarah Clement. To avert bloodshed, Sarah consented to go with Clement but only on the condition she be taken to her uncle, Claiborne Parish resident Reverend James T. Wafer. The parties agreed Sarah would remain unmolested at Rev. Wafer’s for two days. Then she would announce her decision on returning to Arcadia with Clement.

Skeptical the agreement would hold, brother James Wafer raised a group of armed men to accompany him to his uncle’s to retrieve his sister. The house was heavily guarded, however, and the sound of the cocking of several shotguns by Clement and his friends caused the party to retreat.

James swore out a complaint. Claiborne Deputy Sheriff Gentry Warren summoned a posse of about 20 armed men to accompany him in the middle of the night to Rev. Wafer’s house in the Arizona community to arrest Dr. Clement and his party for “forcible abduction and imprisonment of the fair heroine.”

Warren and the posse narrowly escaped meeting gunfire when they approached the house. Had they not quickly announced themselves as the law, a bloody fight would have ensued. Instead, Clement and his friends submitted to arrest. 

The entire party arrived at Homer about 9:00 a.m. the next morning—the posse riding in carrying their shotguns intermingled with the prisoners and Clement and Sarah seated side by side in a buggy.

In the commotion of sixty riders on the street, one of the posse members accidentally discharged his shotgun. The charge passed through the window of J. M. Thomason’s office, inflicting a nasty but survivable wound on the Homer attorney.

James Wafer signed an affidavit for a writ of habeas corpus, which was issued by District Court Judge Harmon A. Drew. The writ commanded Clement to produce Sarah and show cause why he deprived her of her rights and liberties. Clement did not answer the writ immediately and was also arrested for contempt of court. The next day, Drew held the habeas corpus and contempt hearings and dismissed both.

Two days later, those arrested for the alleged abduction and imprisonment of Mrs. Clement appeared before the justice of the peace. Clement was tried first. One of the witnesses was Mary Wafer Simmons, Sarah’s older sister. Mary testified Sarah had been engaged to her brother-in-law, Sidney Simmons, before her elopement with Dr. Clement. Mary said Sarah had received a letter purporting to be from Sidney in which he chastised her for her dalliances and was finished with her. Based on the letter, Sarah hastened into an elopement with Clement, who she did not love, and after the marriage, learned to hate. 

The letter was a forgery.

The case against Clement was dismissed and the prosecution declined to pursue Clement’s “accomplices.” 

While the trials were underway, Sarah was “spirited away to parts unknown.” The Claiborne Advocate reported, “the general opinion is that she has been transported to Arkansas, where she is protected or guarded by forty double barreled shotguns and a howitzer!” 

Adding insult to injury for the parties involved, the article from the Advocate was published across the country, including papers in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, New York, North Carolina, and even in England and Scotland.

The saga does not end there, but the newspapers are silent on the rest of Sarah Wafer’s life. Family genealogy records are confusing, but census records and other government documents seem to sort out her fate.

Mary died soon after the trial and Sarah married the widower, her brother-in-law John Wyatt Simmons. Sarah and John Simmons moved to Texas where they farmed and ranched in Rains County near other members of the Wafer clan. They raised numerous children, including one named Mabry after her father. 

While Sarah’s love life got off to a rocky start, she finally found a relationship that worked, experiencing a marriage of at least 40 years. Sarah died in 1905 and John followed in 1917.

Lofton earns C-USA weekly award

Kenneth Lofton, Jr.’s dominance on the hardwood earned the Louisiana Tech forward the Conference USA Player of the Week award in an announcement made by the league office on Monday.

Junior averaged 27.5 points in the two games against ULM and NC State, shooting 69 percent from the field (20-of-29) and 71 percent from the foul line (15-of-21).  He also averaged 14.5 rebounds and totaled seven assists.

In the 96-74 blowout win over the Warhawks, the Port Arthur, Texas native set new season-highs with 19 points and 12 rebounds in recording another double-double.

The forward turned around on Saturday and eclipsed those marks by far with a career effort at ACC opponent NC State, registering a career-high 36 points (went 14-of-19 from the field), a career-high 17 rebounds and matching his career-high with four assists.

In doing so, Junior became the first player in Division I this season to register a 35-point, 15-rebound game and the first Bulldog to do so in at least 30 years.  His 36 points was also the second most scored by a Bulldog over the last 20 years. 

He currently leads LA Tech in scoring (18.2) and rebounding (11.3) and ranks top 10 in the country in double-doubles, free throw attempts, rebounds per game and offensive rebounds per game. 

This is the first C-USA Player of the Week honor for Junior who earned C-USA Freshman of the Week honors nine times last season.

LA Tech returns to action on Wednesday, Dec. 1 at home versus Texas Southern.  Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN+.


RCT to hold auditions for ‘Matilda Jr.’ 

Ruston Community Theatre is looking for young actors and actresses to fill spots for its spring junior musical, “Matilda, Jr.” 

Based on Roald Dahl’s “Matilda,” the cast, which includes 21 characters as well as a large ensemble, is open to individuals between the ages of 8 and 18. 

Those interested in auditioning should prepare 16 bars of a song to sing and expect to complete a cold reading during the audition. 

Auditions will be held from 5-8 p.m. Dec. 7-8 at the Dixie Theatre.  

The show will be performed March 3-6, 2022. 

“Matilda Jr.” will be directed by Tami Alexander, and it is sponsored by RE/MAX Results Realty and The Lockwood Group. 

This musical is not included in the season ticket prices, and tickets will go on sale two weeks before the performance starts. Season ticket holders can reserve seats a week before the public sales begin. 

For more information visit rctruston.org or call 318-595-0872.