GSU’s Walton elected to SACSCOC Board of Trustees

Dr. Connie R. Walton

Dr. Connie R. Walton, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Grambling State University (GSU) has been elected to serve as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

“I am elated about Dr. Walton’s election to the SACSCOC Board of Trustees,” said GSU President Rick Gallot. “She is unrelenting in her pursuit and support of academic excellence at Grambling State. I am confident that she will make an indelible mark on the organization.”

SACSCOC serves as the recognized regional accrediting body for those institutions of higher education that award degrees in the 11 Southern states. SACSCOC’s main purpose is the improvement of educational quality throughout the region and assurance to the public that its institutions meet established membership-approved standards.

“I am honored that President Gallot recognizes the years of dedicated service that I have provided to higher education and recommended me for this opportunity,” said Walton. “I am humbled by the fact that my peers elected me to serve as a member of the SACSCOC Board of Trustees, Class of 2025. I am looking forward to representing 800 institutions and being involved in important accreditation decisions.”

As a trustee, Walton will be among the 77-member delegation whose duties include determining Commission policy, reviewing, and making decisions regarding the accreditation of institutions, and conducting the initial review for any proposed dues changes or any modifications to the standards of the Commission. Each Board member is assigned to serve on one of its standing committees, known as the Committees on Compliance and Reports (C&R). It is the responsibility of the C&R Committees to evaluate a variety of institutional reports and formulate recommendations regarding the institutions’ accreditation status with SACSCOC.

The Chinatown revelation

By Brad Dison

John Joseph was born in Neptune City, New Jersey on April 22, 1937.  He was raised by his parents, Ethel May and John, and sisters June and Lorraine.  June was 18 years his senior, and Lorraine was 15 years his senior.  June aspired to become a famous entertainer.  In the 1930s, June Nilson, as she was known professionally, began her dancing career under the tutelage of dancing teacher Eddie King.  She danced in several performances and was featured in the opening of a club called the Pic and Pat club in New York City.  She also appeared in several off-Broadway productions.  On New Year’s Eve in 1935, she was featured as a specialty tap dancer in Earl Carrol’s Palm Island club in Miami, Florida.  Earl Carrol was a controversial figure because his showgirls were usually scantily clad.  He was known as “the troubadour of the nude.”  At some point, June returned to the family home.  In 1941, when John was four years old, June moved again to Miami, Florida to work for Earl Carrol.  Her aspirations eventually led her to Hollywood, California. 

Perhaps, his sister’s ambitions rubbed off on John.  In 1954, John, then 17 years old, moved in with June in Hollywood.  John found a job as an office boy in MGM Studios’ animated cartoon department.  While at work one day, a producer noticed something special in John.  It may have been the way he carried himself, the way he said a certain sentence or phrase, or the way he smiled.  At the producer’s recommendation, John began taking acting classes.  In 1956, John received his first acting credit for his performance in one episode of a television series called Matinee Theatre.  In 1958, he performed in the film The Cry Baby Killer.  John’s career as an entertainer had been slow in the late 1950s.  In 1960, however, John’s career “took off.”  In that year alone, John appeared in four films and two television series.  Unlike June, whose Hollywood career never came to fruition, John’s career flourished for the next five decades.    

It was through his acting career that John learned a secret.  John was scheduled to be interviewed about one of his upcoming films by a writer from Time magazine.  As part of the preparation process for the interview, researchers from the magazine began exploring John’s background.  It was then that they uncovered John’s family’s secret.  Rather than revealing this during the interview, a representative from the magazine revealed the secret to John in a telephone call.  John sat in stunned silence while the magazine representative revealed that June and Lorraine were not his sisters, and John and Ethel May were not his parents.  The evidence provided made the claims undeniable.  John’s family had kept a secret from him his entire life.  John and Ethel May died without ever revealing that they were not his parents, as John had always been told, but his grandparents.  Lorraine, whom John thought was his sister, was actually his aunt.  John’s mother was June.  According to the researcher, John’s father was Don Furcillo-Rose.  June had gotten pregnant out of wedlock, which would have reflected badly on the whole family in that era.  After careful consideration, the family agreed to keep John’s true parentage a secret.  They hoped it would remain a secret forever.

John needed to confirm this for himself.  John and Ethel May were long dead, and June died in 1963.  The only person left alive who could verify or deny the claims of the Time magazine researcher was Lorraine.  He called and spoke with Lorraine’s husband whom he affectionately called Short.  “A guy calls me on the phone, and says that my father is still alive, and that Ethel May wasn’t really my mother, that June was my mother.”  Shorty was in disbelief and handed the phone to Lorraine.  John repeated the information.  After a moment of silence, Lorraine confirmed that the story was true although she was unaware of the identity of his real father.

John described the discovery as being “a pretty dramatic event, but it wasn’t what I’d call traumatizing.  After all, by the time I found out who my mother was, I was pretty well psychologically formed.”  He added, “I was very impressed by their ability to keep the secret, if nothing else.”  John jokingly referred to June as his “sister-mother.”

John is considered by many to be one of the greatest actors of all time.  He has won 3 Oscars and a host of other awards for films such as Terms of Endearment, As Good As It Gets, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  The film for which he was being interviewed when he learned his family’s secret was called Chinatown.  You and I know John Joseph Nicholson as Jack Nicholson.


1.      Asbury Park Press, January 2, 1936, P. 15.

2.     Trey Taylor, “Jack Nicholson Grew Up Believing His Mom Was His Sister,” August 6, 2020.

3.     Swapnil Dhruv Bose, “When Jack Nicholson discovered that his sister was actually his mother,” April 6, 2022.

4.     Aaron Homer, “How Jack Nicholson Discovered His Sister Was His Mother,” July 18, 2022.

McLeroy, Booster Club present Baugh with commemorative gift

Photo Credit: Kyle Roberts

A special season requires a special commemoration.

That’s exactly what legendary artist Reggie McLeroy presented to Ruston head football coach Jerrod Baugh to cap off the banquet as a gift by McLeroy and commissioned by the 2022 Bearcat Booster Club.

“I was completely taken aback that Reggie and the senior players did that for me,” Baugh said. “It will serve as a great and perfect memory of what this team has accomplished for this program, school, and community. I just feel really blessed that I was able to be a part of it.”

Titled Ruston Football “Rising to a Higher Level”, the picture captures McLeroy’s signature pencil drawing style with images that include Baugh addressing the team, the Superdome, and a football with the overall record of the 2022 season.

“This was really an incredible season,” McLeroy said. “Coach Baugh, his staff, and the players really took the football team to a higher level. We have that higher standard now, and we have to go back and continue to work hard. When I thought about this drawing, I knew I had taken a couple of pictures of him talking to the team that gave me inspiration.

“And the helmet raised up signifies that we are rising to that higher level. It’s going up like we are.”

McLeroy’s pictures will be presold as a run of 300 limited edition prints that will include an edition number along with his signature. The price will be $68 (including tax). A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Ruston Bearcat football team.

Sales will begin soon. Stay tuned to the Lincoln Parish Journal for more information on how to purchase a copy of the print.

Adding to the force 

By Spencer Drake

Law enforcement is not for the faint of heart. The process of becoming a Ruston Police Officer is one that challenges an individual both physically and mentally. Recently, four individuals joined the Ruston Police. Logan Vines, William Graham, Samuel Fincher and A’Kella Jones are all excited to make an impact and serve the community.

“Graduating the police academy was not the easiest but I did it, and while being there I learned a lot,” Graham said. “The most rewarding part of it all is that I can now serve my community in a different way.”

Jones said becoming part of the police force was a desire held since childhood.

“I honestly have been trying to figure this question out for myself since I graduated, being that it was my dream job as a child after meeting my D.A.R.E. teachers in the 4th grade,” Jones said. “It has been surreal to say the least, but very rewarding. I hit the streets the morning after graduation and there hasn’t been a moment I haven’t enjoyed yet.”

The Police Academy is grueling both physically and mentally. Perseverance is one of the essential characteristics needed to push through the various trials and tests required to graduate from the academy. 

“The tests we took during academy, they help prepare you for the real world situations,” Vines said. “My patience and finding my will power were pushed during these tests.”

These four graduates now must start on the job training (OJT) and learn more of what it means to be a Ruston Police officer and find which avenue in the force best suits them. OJT is important for these graduates because it provides much more information for them to understand and helps them get more hands-on training specifically for the Ruston Force. 

“First is (OJT) On the Job Training, there is still a lot for me to learn and become proficient in, but luckily, I have plenty of great officers to help me get there,” said Fincher. “It’s thrilling to see all of the opportunities that I will have in the future for training, whether it’s becoming a K9 handler or crime scene investigation. With all the different paths laid out in front of me for the future, I think I’m still waiting to see which one is going to call out for me.”


Three parish teams in Top 10 in this week’s GeauxPreps Boys Basketball Power Ratings

Choudrant coach Ryan Smith has the Aggies in the top 10 of the power rankings. (Photo by T. Scott Boatright)

Here are the latest Power Ratings from Geaux Preps for high school boys basketball. These are used to determine playoff seeding at the end of the regular season, including where Ruston (Non-Select Division I), Cedar Creek (Select Division IV), Lincoln Preparatory (Select Division IV), Choudrant (Non-Select Division V) and Simsboro (Non-Select Division V) are ranked.


Keep Louisiana Beautiful receives national award

BATON ROUGE, La. – Keep America Beautiful (KAB) recognized Keep Louisiana Beautiful (KLB) as one of nine 2022 Innovation Award recipients for Love the Boot Week – Louisiana’s largest annual statewide litter clean up and beautification effort held in conjunction with Earth Week. The award recognizes innovation in partnerships and programs to further the KAB mission and one or more of its focus areas: end littering, improve recycling, and beautify communities. This award celebrates new approaches to facilitate growth within an organization.

In its first year, 2022, Love the Boot Week led to 8,476 volunteers dedicating over 40,000 hours to the removal of 293 tons of litter at 280 events spanning 54 parishes. This would not have been possible without the support of the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, local and state leaders, sponsors, KLB partners and Affiliates, and thousands of volunteers from across Louisiana.

“Last year was such a huge success. We appreciate this national recognition, but there is still so much work that needs to be done to clean up Louisiana. I want to see all of us build on that success and make this year even better,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. “Litter around our state affects everyone. It is going to take all of us, doing just a little bit, to make a big difference. So make sure you and your organization join us in April for Love the Boot Week 2023.”

“Love the Boot Week’s success demonstrates Louisiana’s readiness to turn over a new leaf and clean up our Sportsman’s Paradise,” said Susan Russell, Executive Director of KLB. “We are grateful to our state leadership for prioritizing this issue, and we thank Keep America Beautiful for recognizing our efforts with this award.”

“Keep America Beautiful is proud to award our National Innovation Award to Keep Louisiana Beautiful for their creative approach to Love the Boot Week,” said KAB President and CEO, Jennifer Lawson. “You are the leaders of our work to clean, green, and beautify communities across America and the heart of our movement. Each awardee represents hours of service and commitment, willingness to try new things and invest time, talent, and resources to do the work that translates into stronger and more vibrant communities. Your leadership is ours to follow and we are grateful.”

This year’s Love the Boot Week is April 17-23, 2023, and registration will open at on Monday, January 23. The first 250 organizations (businesses, governmental entities, churches, schools, etc.) to register an event will receive cleanup kits with gloves, trash bags, and shirts. The first 100 individuals or families to register an event will receive day passes for Louisiana State Parks (one per household).

See this week’s power ratings girls playoffs loom near

(Photo by Reggie McLeroy)

Here are the latest Power Ratings from Geaux Preps for high school girls basketball. These are used to determine playoff seeding at the end of the regular season, including where Ruston (Non-Select Division I), Cedar Creek (Select Division IV), Lincoln Preparatory (Select Division IV), Choudrant (Non-Select Division V) and Simsboro (Non-Select Division V) are ranked.


Techsters look for win No. 600 in Ruston

Courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications

Louisiana Tech returns home for four of their next five games, beginning with UAB tonight at 6 p.m. on Karl Malone Court inside the Thomas Assembly Center.

The storied Lady Techster program will be looking to record the 600th win in Ruston (Memorial Gym and Thomas Assembly Center) in program history. Tech recorded 84 wins at old Memorial Gym and has 515 wins at the TAC.

The game can be seen on Kyle Roberts will provide the call of the game on 97.7 FM and the LA Tech Athletics App with the pregame show starting at 5:30 p.m.

Louisiana Tech (11-8, 4-5) dropped back-to-back games for the first time this season, falling to Western Kentucky and No. 23 Middle Tennessee on the road last week. At WKU, Tech erased a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit to four but could not get over the hump. Two days later, Tech held a one-point lead over the now-ranked Blue Raiders but surrendered a 31-point fourth quarter. 

After three straight on the road, Tech returns home for four of their next five inside the TAC, beginning with a two-game set this week against UAB and UTSA. 

Tech recently faced UAB in Birmingham four games ago, taking out the Blazers 61-55 behind Keiunna Walker’s season-high 26 points. Tech’s defense held the then No. 1 offense in Conference USA (77 PPG) to 22 points under their average on a season-low 28 percent shooting.

LA Tech is seeking the program’s 600th all-time win at home, including games played in Memorial Gymnasium and the Thomas Assembly Center.

UAB (10-8, 2-7) got off to a great start to the season with an 8-1 non-conference slate, with their only loss coming at the hands of LSU in the Bahamas after winning their first five contests of 22-23 but have struggled to close out games in the conference slate. 

The Blazers have been very competitive in their conference losses, dropping five of their seven by six points or less. UAB has picked up wins over Florida Atlantic (75-47) and took down North Texas in their last outing on the road (76-74). 

Freshman standout Denim DeShields – daughter of former MLB player Delino DeShields — has earned three C-USA Freshman of the Week honors this season.

Saturday’s match-up will be the 18th overall meeting between LA Tech and UAB on the hardwood with Tech leading 12-5.

The series history has favored the road teams, with UAB taking five of seven in Ruston and Tech taking seven of eight in Birmingham, including four games ago with Tech winning 61-55 on the road.

LA Tech has won seven straight, breaking their home-win drought last season in the C-USA West Division title-clinching game. Tech would sweep a three-game set last season on a neutral floor in the C-USA Quarterfinals, one game removed from the division clincher.

Dogs, Blazers set for national TV audience

Photo courtesy of LA Tech Athletics

Courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications

Louisiana Tech reaches the halfway point of the 20-game Conference USA schedule on Thursday as they play its 10th league game in Birmingham, Alabama against UAB.

Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. at Bartow Arean. The game can be heard on the LA Tech Sports Network on 107.5 FM and through the LA Tech Athletics App with Malcolm Butler provide the call of the action. It can also be seen on CBS Sports Network.

LA Tech (11-9, 4-5) is coming off one of its worst offensive performances of the season, falling at home to Middle Tennessee by a final score of 68-51. The loss put the Bulldogs in a four-way tie for fifth in the conference standings.

LA Tech is set to play four of its next five league games away from home. So far, they are 1-3 in conference road games with the lone victory coming in an 88-82 overtime win at Rice. Their three road losses to UTEP, Charlotte, and North Texas in conference play have been by a combined nine points.

After coming away with a victory in Ruston over LA Tech, UAB (13-7, 4-5) dropped its next two games to Middle Tennessee and North Texas. The Blazers lost in overtime, 74-73, to the Blue Raiders on the road followed by a 63-52 home loss to the Mean Green.

After winning its first three conference games, UAB has lost five of its last six games. They have been without the reigning C-USA Player of the Year, Jordan Walker, for the last three due to a foot injury. Walker ranked second in the country in scoring at 23.8 points per game.

UAB leads the all-time series over LA Tech, 12-9, having won four straight. The Bulldogs were in position to snap their losing streak to the Blazers earlier this month, but UAB closed the game out on a 19-4 run to win it, 81-74.

LA Tech is looking to win for just the third time against UAB in Birmingham. The Bulldogs are 2-8 versus the Blazers in Bartow Arena, with the two wins coming in 2014 and 2020.

Notice of death — Jan. 25, 2023

Jessie Coggins, III
April 5, 1958 – January 25, 2023
Services pending

Beryle Anderson Stepp
June 17, 1931 – January 21, 2023
Visitation: Kilpatrick Funeral Homes – Ruston, Thursday, January 26, 2023, 1:00 pm
Service: Kilpatrick Funeral Homes – Ruston, Thursday, January 26, 2023, 2:00 pm

June Grant
June 13, 1925 – January 23, 2023
Graveside Service: Thursday, January 26, 2023, 2:00 PM, Forest Lawn Cemetery, 2500 West California Ave., Ruston

Richard Brower
February 21, 1948 – January 22, 2023
Services pending at this time


Hall elected interim parish administrator; questions of communication in process still arise

By T. Scott Boatright

After a short discussion in the Lincoln Parish Police Jury Meeting Room during a special-called meeting at the Lincoln Parish Courthouse Tuesday night, the LPPJ voted to name Courtney Hall as Interim Parish Administrator, two weeks after moving to not reappoint Doug Postel to the parish administrator.

Hall, the former parish administrator from 2009 until his retirement in the summer of 2020, will receive a salary of $75 per hour only on days the LPPJ office is open and not exceeding 40 hours per week even if duties call for Hall’s work to exceed that 40 hours per week.

That works out to around $144,000 annually and does not include any benefits. 

Hall will be paid through an employment agency for a fee that LPPJ President Richard Durrett said is still being negotiated. Durrett said those standard fees are usually 45-55% of the employee’s salary but that the negotiations should bring the fees lower than that percentage. 

“They will take care of social security and all of the other employee deductions,” Durrett said during a personnel committee meeting before the full Jury meeting.. “In my opinion, this will be in the 30-35% range.”

Those added fees bring expenses to the Jury for Hall to fill the position to around $187,000 annually.

“I’ll be real candid,” LPPJ Personnel Committee member Logan Hunt said. “This is the first I’ve heard about this. Nothing was communicated prior to this meeting. I’m caught off guard by that $187,000 a year. I do very much respect Courtney’s leadership and have the utmost respect for the job he did in this office, without a doubt. I don’t want anybody to question that. But that just caught me kind of flat-footed.”

Personnel committee chair Joe Henderson then said Postel’s salary had been $103,708 annually.

“That’s kind of what I had in my mind, was something around $100,000 because that was what was budgeted,” Hunt said.

Hunt then asked if Hall was expected to finish out the year in the role, and Henderson answered by saying that at this time, there is no set time limit for Hall to hold the position.

Then Hunt asked Hall when he was approached by LPPJ members about taking on the interim role.

“To the best of my recollection, I came up (to the LPPJ Meeting Room) after the meeting held at the (Library Events Center) earlier this month,” Hall said. 

Hunt then asked Hall how long he planned on serving in the position.

“As long as you need me,” Hall said. “I can be here for a month. I can be here longer. I’m really flexible with that.” 

Ruston resident Bill Smith then asked if the plan was to keep Hall in place through next fall’s elections during which all 12 Jury seats will be considered by voters and let that new Jury select a permanent administrator. Henderson said “I don’t know if we anticipate getting a new administrator during that Jury time, but I don’t know that. I don’t anticipate that we will.”

Smith then said he was “just thinking that since you are so close to possibly seeing a new Jury and a new administrator … that the new Jury would be the ones that hire a new (permanent) administrator. Nothing against you all, but I just thought a new administrator elected by that Jury would be a good thing for everybody.”

Hunt then asked who negotiated the $75 per hour salary for Hunt.

“(Juror) Milton (Melton) and I did,” Durrett responded. 

Hunt then said, “Not trying to get too far into this, but as far as negotiations, is that it?”

Hall responded by saying, “That’s what it’s going to take for me to come up there. You’re getting 35 years experience. I’m not getting benefits. Just by comparison, if you think that’s out of line, if you look at comparable-sized parishes — St. Bernard, St. Charles and Washington — St. Charles is $171 (thousand), one is $197 (thousand) and one is $217 (thousand).”

Hall then added that he had no problem with Jurors doing an evaluation to possibly reconsider at any time.

The Personnel Committee then voted unanimously to recommend Hall’s hiring.

After that vote, Hunt commended the group for its transparency throughout the discussion, and followed with the question of asking why the personnel committee did not have the opportunity to formally meet to discuss any perceived issues regarding the previous administrator, Mr. Postel.

“Let me say this, as a committee we did not,” Henderson said. “Mr. Postel called each of us, and we had individual meetings with him to discuss different things. … We talked about some things man-to-man, and I didn’t want to call a public meeting to discuss those items.”

Hunt then asked, “Moving forward, whether about Mr. Hall or anyone, should we make it a policy to discuss any personnel issues in the personnel committee?”

Henderson responded by saying, “As you know, there are some things you can’t discuss publicly about personnel, but I can say that if we have to meet about character or something we can go into executive session.”

Hunt said he would appreciate that and have more transparency in the process.

“I’ll say right now, if we have a meeting about our administration, our treasurer, or personnel, the Personnel Committee needs to be part of it,” Hunt said. “I thought that was understood. I think moving forward, go ahead and count me in as saying, ‘Yes, I think we need to meet as a committee about anything involving personnel.’ ”

Henderson then asked if Hunt understood why that didn’t happen in this case, and Hunt said, “Somewhat, but not fully.”

During the 6:30 p.m. full Jury meeting (Juror Annette Straughter was absent), the LPPJ unanimously approved the Personnel Committee’s recommendation to name Hall as interim parish administrator.

The LPPJ also approved to pay Assistant Parish Administrator Kevin Klepzig $861.60 on top of his regular pay for duties served as interim parish administrator during the 10 days between Postel’s dismissal and Hall’s hiring.

In other business, the LPPJ confirmed a previous engagement of Nelson, Zenter, Sartor and Snellings LLC  to represent Suit 3:22-CV-05312-TAD-KDM; Franequa Jones v. Commission Lincoln Parish Detention Center.

Gunfire on campus leads to two arrests

Two Grambling State University students were arrested Thursday after police investigated a report of gunfire on campus following a fight involving several parties.

GSU police officers responded to the Adams Hall parking lot late Thursday regarding gunshots. Two spent .40 shell casings were found in the parking lot and a witness identified Maleak Palmer, 21, of Baker, La., as the shooter.

Palmer was arrested and a housing staff member was asked to lock his dorm room to prevent anyone from entering. However, the staffer did not possess a key. A black backpack was seen lying on Palmer’s bed. A roommate, Patrick Wayne Marshall, 20, of Shreveport, followed officers out to the parking lot expressing displeasure at the arrest. Once Palmer was secured in a police vehicle, an officer returned to the room to find Marshall had returned and locked himself in the room. When the officer was able to obtain a key and enter, the backpack was gone.

The backpack was found under another bed in the room and police determined only Marshall could have hidden it. Marshall was arrested for interfering with an investigation and obstruction of justice.

During questioning, Palmer revealed he was a party to the fight at McCall Dining Hall. The shots were reportedly fired after that fight. Palmer told investigators the handgun in his room was given to him by his brother for protection while at GSU. He admitted he knew firearms were illegal on campus.

Palmer was booked at the Lincoln Parish Detention Center for disturbing the peace in connection with the initial fight and aggravated assault by firearm and possession of a firearm in a firearm-free school zone for the later shooting. 

Bail amounts for Palmer and Marshall were not available at press time.

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. 

Woman arrested for drugs, warrants

Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s deputies arrested a woman on numerous warrants and drug possession after she was stopped for speeding Friday morning.

Alyssa F. Carter, 25, of Keithville, was stopped on Interstate 20 about 7:30 a.m. for speeding 87 miles per hour in a 70 mph zone. A records check showed Carter was wanted by Ruston Police on warrants for simple criminal damage to property and two counts of simple battery. Third Judicial District Court also held a warrant for Carter for failure to appear on a possession of marijuana with intent to distribute charge.

When Carter was removed from the vehicle and arrested, the deputy smelled the odor of suspected marijuana coming from the car. A search located two bags of suspected MDMA (ecstasy) tablets, one containing 10 pills and one containing approximately 20 pills.

Carter was booked at the Lincoln Parish Detention Center for speeding, possession of a Schedule I controlled substance with intent to distribute, and the four warrants.

Carter’s bail amount was unavailable at press time. 

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. 

Cougars use three-point barrage in league win

Davis Walsworth scored 24 points in Creek’s win over River Oaks. (Photo by Darrell James)

By Malcolm Butler

It was raining three’s Tuesday night at the Brickhouse.

Davis Walsworth connected on five three-pointers and Connor Norris added four as Cedar Creek (9-11, 2-2) hit a total of 10 trifectas in its 73-54 victory over River Oaks in District 2-1A action.

Walsworth scored a game-high 24 points and Norris added a season-high 16 points as four Cougars netted double figures in the victory.

“Those two really shot it well from outside,” said head coach Lance Waldron. “Connor and Davis combined for nine three-pointers … and I think they were trying to get a few more in the fourth quarter.”

Both teams came out hot offensively.

Norris hit a pair of three-pointers during a two-minute span to help Creek take a 13-10 lead midway through the opening quarter. Connor Johnson added a three-pointer with just 20 seconds to play in the opening quarter to give the Cougars a 22-14 lead.

“(Hitting three-pointers) opens everything up,” said Waldron. “We missed a lot of good drives that we had where we should have finished (around the bucket). But those drives were open because we were hitting the three’s. They started coming out (to guard us) more and thus that opened up the driving lanes.”

River Oaks (3-19, 0-4) continued to hang around in the second quarter, trailing just 29-23 with three minutes to play before halftime. However, Walsworth scored eight points in a 60 second span to push the Cougars lead to 14. Creek led 39-25 at the break.

One game after being dominated on the glass in a road loss at St. Frederick last Friday night, Waldron was pleased with how his team responded in that area.

“We worked a little bit on being tougher in practice on the boards,” said Waldron. “We will continue to work on it. I thought we did a better job of being tough on the glass tonight. I feel like we are making progress with it.”

The Creek lead was cut down to 41-32 early in the third quarter when Norris responded with a pair of three-pointers over the next four minutes and Walsworth ended the quarter with a three-pointer as Creek took a 56-40 lead into the fourth quarter.

“When we came out the second half they made a little run and then Davis and Connor hit some big threes and that really propelled us forward,” said Waldron. “Hitting those threes does so much for you as far as momentum. When you can get them to fall, it really helps especially when you miss some easy shots around the basket. They fell for us tonight.”

River Oaks never made a run over the final eight minutes as the Cougars picked up a big district win. Waldron talked about his team’s execution defensively during the postgame interview as well.

“I thought our defensive game plan worked to perfection,” said Waldron. “We really did a good job of executing it. We did exactly what we wanted to do against them defensively.”

In addition to Norris and Walsworth’s big nights, Brian Osborne and Carter Hill each added 10 points.

The Cougars host Lincoln Prep Friday.


Lady Cougars overcome slow start in district win

Allie Furr scored 22 points in the Lady Cougars district win over River Oaks. (Photo by Darrell James)

By Malcolm Butler

Cedar Creek head coach Gene Vandenlangenberg used multiple timeouts in the first quarter of Tuesday night’s District 2-1A contest against River Oaks.

He was trying to wake up his Lady Cougars.

After sleep-walking through the opening eight minutes, the Lady Cougars eventually built a 10-point halftime lead and then dominated the second half in a 65-26 victory at the Brickhouse.

The win extended Creek’s winning streak to nine games.

“I told them at halftime that what this taught me is if we play with our hands down and we are not active on defense, then we are an average team,” said Vandenlangenberg. “When we are playing together as five — not just one or two being active but all five — then we are a really good team.

“We’ve been on a good run. I guess it’s shame on me for thinking we were going to be perfect the entire time. Here is the good thing, we did wake up and we did what we had to do to get the win. It’s a district win.”

Creek (17-4, 4-0) turned the ball over time after time in the opening eight minutes, thus the Lady Cougars held a mere 10-5 lead at the end of the first quarter.

“I thought we had girls playing hard, but we needed all five playing hard at the same time,” said Vandenlangenberg. “We just didn’t seem to be cohesive as a team in the first half.”

Creek began to pick things up in the second quarter, extending its advantage to 26-16 at the half. Allie Furr scored 16 of her game-high 22 points in the opening two quarters, hitting four field goals and 8-of-11 free throws before the half. Lizzie McAdams added two of her four three-pointers in the second quarter.

After River Oaks (10-11, 2-2) scored the first two buckets of the third quarter to close the deficit to 26-20, the Lady Cougars put it into another gear, outscoring the Mustangs 39-6 the rest of the game.

“I thought in the second half we got some energy off the bench from some girls,” said Vandenlangenberrg. “I thought Leah (Sutherland) and Mallory (Smith) provided a spark for us. Elli (Dickerson) picked her game up.

“Lizzie (McAdams) hit those four three’s which was good to see. And then Allie does her thing every night. She is our leader; hour engine that makes us go. She made some really nice assists tonight; some nice no look passes.”

Creek instituted a full-court press for the majority of the second half. And although the Lady Cougars didn’t force as many turnovers as they usually do with the press, it seemed to help them get going on both ends of the court.

“We gave up some lanes to the basket in the first half,” said Vandenlangenberg. “That’s something we haven’t been allowing this year. But they forced the issue and they called our bluff. They said are you really going to get down and play defense? In the first half we were bluffing. We were in our defensive spot but we didn’t mean it. In the second half we turned it up.

“We couldn’t turn them over with our press as much as we would have liked. We just couldn’t get our hands on the ball. But I didn’t think we were as active as we can be. I think it was a night where we were just glad to get out of her with a win.”

Olivia Underwood hit a three-pointer and then McAdams followed with a trifecta to push the Creek lead to 38-22 with 3:36 to play in the third quarter. A Smith jumper following an offensive rebound made it 41-25 with 2:00 to play in the stanza. Another McAdams three-pointer rounded out the scoring in the period as Creek led 48-25 heading into the fourth quarter.

In the final period, Creek held River Oaks to a single point while continuing their scoring. Sutherland hit a three-pointer at the 4:00 mark to make the lead 61-26 and then Ainsley Riley stepped in front of a pass and raced the length of the floor for a layup to make it 63-26.

Baylee Mabou finished the scoring for Creek on a layup off a nice assist by Caroline James with a minute to play.

Furr led Creek with 22 points, 9 steals, 8 assists and 6 rebounds while McAdams added 12 points and nine boards. Dickerson added 10 points and Sutherland scored eight.

Creek hosts Lincoln Prep Friday.


COLUMN:  Out with the ‘in’ crowd 

“Sir, I’m sorry, but we don’t have you in our computer.”  

Can you hear worse news? 

You can — “Sorry, we’re out of bacon” — but it’s a short list.  

Such was the case this week when my friend Shine Broussard called a government entity about something governmental. 

“We don’t have you In our computer,” he was told. Cold words to hear in person, colder over the telephone. 

“Now I’m out here with the gnashing teeth bunch, out here where the sun doesn’t shine,” Shine told me. “No program. No starting lineups. No jersey numbers. ‘Not in our computer.’ I’m on an island with the lepers.”  

If you’re ‘not in our computer,’ you are a non-person, is what you are. These days, you have to be in the computer. In a lot of computers, actually. You might be in your dentist’s computer, which is good when a molar won’t behave, but being in your dentist’s computer won’t help you a lick if a kidney wants to opt out of his contract and become a free agent. Then you’d better be in your urologist’s computer. Now. Today.  

There was a time when you didn’t need to be “in our computer.” There was a time when people knew your voice on the telephone, or trusted to some extent that you were who you said you were. Those days vaporized with vaudeville.  

Then you had to be “in our files.” A lot of trees died for those files. If you wanted a Social Security check or a driver’s license renewal or a copy of your transcript, you had to be in the files.  

Now the files are “in our computer.” You are in our files and in our system if you are in our computer. And if our computer says you aren’t in there, well, you can’t argue with our computer. Forget that a computer is only as smart as its programmer, as energetic as its power source and as efficient as the person who typed you “in” to start with. 

It’s the computer, bud. Don’t argue with it. You might as well try to win a spat with Aunt Ethel about how to cook greens or shell peas or do the jitterbug or read your Bible. Good luck with that!  

So if you’re not In The Computer, you’re out of the loop. In a fix. Up a creek. Down the river. Out of luck. In a jam. Between a rock and a hard place. Out of the picture. Off the radar. 

“Sir, I’m sorry, but we don’t have you in our computer.” (That’s just one frantic, lonely step removed from the hazy “I’m sorry, but our system’s down” No-Man’s Land. If the system’s down, you might as well call in the general and tinkle on the fire because the game, my dear friend, is over.) 

I can imagine the computer people talking on their break. “Some poor guy called and wasn’t in the computer. I mean, come on! Idiot…Haha. Hahahahaha….!” 

Makes you jealous of people who are “in.” Things are easier for the in’s among us. But how did they get in, anyway? Being “not in” makes you feel like those people Hunter S. Thompson wrote about in the Gonzo Papers, people who chase something they’ll never so much as sniff. Missing. Back-ordered. No teng .Vaya con dios. Seeya! 

But do you really want to pay the price for ins-manship? First-born child? Life savings? Moe Bandy record collection? What do I have to give up? And here’s a question: What if you get in and you can’t get OUT? There’s you a pickle. 

Such are modern times. All the more reason to hope that when I meet St. Peter, I’m in the computer and the system’s not down. 

(Originally ran August of 2010, when all the computers seemed hot and angry … ) 

Contact Teddy at 

COLUMN: Today Matters

Each year, I select a theme or a verse for the year as a foundational focus for the year. Several years ago, I chose Ephesians 5:16 which talks about making the best use of our time. It is interesting that over 2000 years ago that people had to be urged to make the best use of their time. Whether we are talking about our work environments or our personal lives, it is clearly a challenge for many of us today as well. How many opportunities are missed because we are held captive by something from our past? How many opportunities are missed because of an unhealthy fixation of the future or fear of the unknown? How much of our life/performance is impacted with distractions that impact our focus on meaningful actions?

The following suggestions address each of these possibilities for you or your organization: Captivity by our past: We all have a past that provides all types of memories. Some of those memories will be positive, but others will likely include regrets over decisions we made or actions we took. Our ability to learn from our past but not allow it to cripple our future is so key to an individual or to an organization. Every decision we make should either lead to success or learning; sometimes both. We can fail at something and not be a failure. An individual’s ability to take these learnings and apply them to future decisions and behavior can be beneficial and have a positive impact. The key here is to learn and let go. Today matters!

Fear of the future: Individuals and organizations alike should spend time planning for the future. This planning will have different levels of complexity based on the individual or organization; however, an unhealthy fixation or fear of the future can be harmful. A clear vision of our future condition should be directly related to our current actions. Far too many people miss the connection of current actions impacting future condition. Similarly, rather than allowing an unknown future to negatively impact us, that unknown future should motivate us to make the most of what we do know – today. The key here is to focus on what we know and connect current actions to future condition. Today matters!

Distractions: We live in a world that offers more potential distractions than probably any time in history. The various social media outlets and other aspects of technology can be distractions for people of all ages. These distractions impact individuals and organizations. Those that can avoid the distractions and exercise some level of mental or physical discipline will experience
better performance and more achievement. Avoiding these distractions is a difference maker in our society. People that can make the best use of the time will impact more, produce more, experience more, and reach their potential (both individually and professionally). The key here is to have a plan for the day and execute that plan. Today matters!

Regardless of your current situation or the condition of your organization, we all have today in common. Learn from the past. Take actions today that will favorably impact the future. Make the most of today. Today matters!

Innovation Enterprise plans forum on AI for Jan. 26

Louisiana Tech University’s Innovation Enterprise will host a forum focused on artificial intelligence (AI) at 3 p.m. Jan. 26 in the gathering room at University Hall and online. The event is sponsored by CenturyNext Bank.

The forum will focus on AI, its impacts, applications, ethics, and implications in industry and for the human experience. Panelists include:

  • Dan Wright, former CEO of DataRobot
  • Ken McCord, former VP of Strategy at DataRobot
  • Peter Smart, Designer and Chief Experience Officer at Fantasy
  • Patrick Horne, CG/Character Supervisor at FuseFX

“This forum will provide a platform for attendees to engage in thought-provoking discussions and exchange ideas on the potential benefits and challenges of AI,” said Dr. Davy Norris, Louisiana Tech’s Chief Innovation Officer. “It will also offer the opportunity for attendees to network with industry leaders and experts in the field of AI. Open dialogue and education on the topic is crucial for understanding and shaping the responsible development of AI.”

Wright said he was excited about the opportunity to discuss the topic with students and members of the community.

“AI is transforming every aspect of how we live and work, including art and culture,” Wright said. “Through conversations like the one we will have at Louisiana Tech, we can help ensure that this technology is used for good and benefits the maximum number of people in the state and across the globe.”

“Innovation is central to the Lousiana Tech culture and brand,” Norris said. “Thanks to our sponsors at CenturyNext Bank, this Innovation Forum will add an engaging new venue for stimulating discussion and collaboration at the intersection of disciplines focused on the grand challenges and opportunities of our time.”

This event is free and open to the public. To attend the online event, register here. For more information, contact Hannah Bustamante at

Remembering Beryle Anderson Stepp

Beryle Anderson Stepp

Beryle Anderson “B. A.” Stepp passed away peacefully on Saturday, January 21, 2023, at the age of 91 at Ruston Regional Specialty Hospital in Ruston, LA. He was born on June 17, 1931, in El Paso, Texas, to William A. “Dub” Stepp and Mildred Beckham Stepp. B. A. grew up in Texas, Louisiana, and Florida, and graduated from Chapman High School in Apalachicola, Florida. He attended Florida State University for two years before joining the United States Army. B. A. served in the army during the Korean War, training soldiers who were being deployed to Korea, and was honorably discharged in 1955. In 1956 he married Judith Wynn Stepp, his beloved wife. They lived in Florida, California, and Louisiana, calling Ruston home for the last 35 years.

B.A. was known for his contagious laugh and his love of a good joke. He enjoyed traveling with his wife Judy in their RV all over the United States. He loved painting and puzzles and enjoyed learning about trains and locomotives. Some of his favorite times were the hours he spent listening to Judy play the piano and the countless games of cards and dominos that he played over the years. He especially loved the Lord, read his Bible faithfully, and spent much time in prayer.

B.A. was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Norman Stepp, his sister-in-law Elda Lee Stepp, his brother-in-law Franklin Kirvin, and his nephews Jason, Jonathon, and Seth. He is survived by his wife Judy, his sons Bo and his wife Patty of Greenwell Springs, LA; David and his wife Abby of Dubach, LA; Terry and his wife Kathy of Dubach, LA; his daughter Sheila and her husband Kevin of Calhoun, LA; and his sister Shirley Stepp Kirvin of Slidell, LA. Also left to cherish his memory are his ten grandchildren: Kellye Weeks and her husband Billy of Guntersville, AL; Emily Johnston and her husband E. J. of Walker, LA; Danny Stepp and his wife Darcie of Livingston, LA; John Stepp and his wife Brit of Tampa, FL; Jeffrey Stepp of Ruston, LA; Zachary Calhoun of Copperas Cove, TX; Courtney Lambert and her husband Michael of Hot Springs, AR; Amanda Calvin and her husband Akshay of Mumbai, Maharashtra, India; Emily Kelley and her husband Josh of Conway, AR; and Madeline Nugent of Ruston, LA, along with 14 great-grandchildren (and two more on the way!), and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

Visitation will be held at 1:00 PM on Thursday, January 26, 2023, at Kilpatrick Funeral Home in Ruston, with a memorial service to follow at 2:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Wounded Warrior Project at

The family would like to thank the staff at Ruston Regional and Dr. Mark Blackwelder for their loving care of Beryle.

Online condolences may be extended to the family at Kilpatrick Funeral Home at


Remembering Melba June Grant

Melba June Grant

Graveside services for Mrs. Melba June Grant, age 97 of Ruston, LA will be held at 2:00 PM, Thursday, January 26, 2023 at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Ruston, LA. Burial will be under the direction of Owens Memorial Chapel Funeral Home of Ruston.

June was born June 13, 1925 in Choudrant, LA to Ola and Elijah Charles Chandler, and she passed away January 23, 2023 in Shreveport. Before retiring, she was a telephone operator and helped countless people be directed where they needed to be. June enjoyed reading and sewing and gardening whenever she had the chance. She loved to spend time with her family. June was a faithful member of Grace United Methodist Church and was a teacher for the children’s Sunday School. She was preceded in death by her husband of 60 years Bryant Grant; parents; sisters: Elaine Boyd, Maxine Farmer and Blanche Burns; and brother Donald Chandler.

June is survived by her daughters: Janice and husband Danny Crawford of Shreveport, Devonne and husband Ed Isgett of Pinehurst, TX and Karen and husband Barry Milligan of Baton Rouge, LA; grandchildren Mark Crawford of Shreveport and Hanna Isgett of Pinehurst; and a host of family and friends.

To leave an online message for the family, please visit

Notice of death — Jan. 24, 2023

Beryle Anderson Stepp
June 17, 1931 – January 21, 2023
Visitation: Kilpatrick Funeral Homes – Ruston, Thursday, January 26, 2023, 1:00 pm
Service: Kilpatrick Funeral Homes – Ruston, Thursday, January 26, 2023, 2:00 pm

June Grant
June 13, 1925 – January 23, 2023
Graveside Service: Thursday, January 26, 2023, 2:00 PM, Forest Lawn Cemetery, 2500 West California Ave., Ruston

Richard Brower
February 21, 1948 – January 22, 2023
Services pending at this time

Jeffery Martin
June 18, 1969 – January 21, 2023
Visitation: Wednesday, January 25, 2023, 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM, Owens Memorial Chapel Funeral Home
Funeral Service: Wednesday, January 25, 2023, 2:00 PM, Owens Memorial Chapel Funeral Home
Cemetery Committal: Wednesday, January 25, 2023, Unionville Cemetery, 6598 Hwy 822, Dubach

Third party review recommended against approving Lincoln Prep application

By T. Scott Boatright

Lincoln Preparatory School pulled the only agenda item for a special-called Lincoln Parish School Board meeting Thursday after learning that a third-party charter school application evaluation and recommendation advised for the request to not be recommended for approval.

That evaluation by TCK Education Consultants, LCC, looked at a potential request by Lincoln Prep to open a predominately virtual Lincoln Preparatory Academy for students from 15- to 21-year-olds not attending high school as well as those who have been expelled from high school.

The proposal would have combined online studies with in-person classwork at New Living Word Ministries in Ruston.

Lincoln Prep is a Type II public charter school, allowing it to enroll students from multiple parishes in the region.

Gordon Ford, executive director at Lincoln Prep, wanted the new school to have the same designation, but the state requires that a Type I charter application, which allows only students from within the school’s parish, to be enrolled.

One of the primary issues TCK found in Lincoln Prep’s application is that while the school was applying for a Type II charter setup, the budget and overall plan was geared to a Type II charter school.

“The applicant applied for a Type 1 charter school but acknowledged in the capacity interview, it would rather open and operate a Type 2 charter school with a statewide recruitment strategy,” TCK found in its summary recommending Lincoln Prep’s application not be approved. “The applicant shared that their strategy was to submit a proposal to the district for a Type 2 school knowing the district cannot authorize it. The applicant built a budget that relies on MFP funds from eight parishes throughout North Central  Louisiana, including Lincoln Parish Schools. During the capacity interview, the group stated that they do not intend to pull students from Lincoln Parish Schools, however; the district’s per-pupil allocation figures prominently in the proposal budget and recruitment strategy likely because it has the highest MFP in North Central Louisiana. 

“There is a significant lack of intentionality in the way that the applicant group describes the overall plan for the hybrid alternative high school design. The evaluators found that in many areas, the proposal lacked adequate detail with regard to strategic planning, defined metrics, set timelines, clearly delineated roles, and responsibilities, operating processes, systematized structures, and contingency plans.”

TCK’s findings, which were received shortly before Thursday’s meeting, indicated that it was felt the application was made for the right reasons but could not be recommended as presented.

“The Executive Director’s passion and commitment to the community and students in need was apparent to evaluators,” TCK’s findings read. “However, the fact that no other members of the team participated in the interviews evidenced limited organizational and leadership capacity. The evaluators question whether the group understands what it takes to replicate and grow a network of schools. The school’s plan to allocate staffing costs across the two schools, including salaries for the CFO, Executive Director, teachers, and staff is concerning. 

“Evaluators surmise that the plan is to have teachers at Lincoln Prep split their time between the two schools. In essence, they plan to operate as though they were a CMO by merging funds from both schools. This is evidenced by the fact that they did not provide a comprehensive plan to hire, recruit, and retain teachers and staff with specialized training in alternative education techniques which would be necessary to meet the demands of this population of students. Further, the group provided a generic discipline plan without regard for making special accommodations for the needs of disconnected youths.”  

Lincoln Parish School’s Superintendent Ricky Durrett said that because of his findings, he would have recommended the LPSB vote against approving Lincoln Prep’s proposal.

Durrett said that Ford could move forward to create such a Type II charter school program for students 15- to 21-year-olds not attending high school or have been expelled from high school from Lincoln Prep only without going through approval from the LPSB.

But in order to be a Type II program and draw students from across the parish and beyond, the way Lincoln Prep operates, Ford would again have to formally file an application asking the LPSB for approval.

Durrett said that current Lincoln Parish Schools system students or former students under similar circumstances can go to the Lincoln Parish Youth Rescue Center.

“That’s in the McClain Building there at Ruston High School,” Durrett said. “If a kid gets into trouble there’s a hearing that’s held with a hearing officer and parents, and the kid may be placed there for five days, 10 days, a half semester, a full semester or all year.

“If they’re there, their teachers still send them stuff through Google Classroom to get their assignments, and then they’ll also use Ingenuity, which is an online program for some for certain classes if they’re there for an extended period of time.”

Ford said that he and Durrett had had conversations to reach “some understanding on what each of us are trying to do and we’re going to try to work on some things together, and we’ll make a decision later on if we think we need to come back to a charter school or if we think we need to service the kids we need to serve under the structure we already have in place.”