Flu, COVID, monkeypox vaccines offered

The Louisiana Department of Health has noticed a general increase in influenza activity in Louisiana and that it has already reached its highest point in the past five years. The LDH is urging the public to get vaccinated and stay up to date on their COVID-19 and flu vaccinations. 

There are vaccination opportunities, in addition to the Parish Health Units, that are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and offer the vaccines. Affinity Health Group also offers the vaccines throughout the region at their various locations. 

Some of the upcoming vaccination events and locations are: 

— Saturday, December 3, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Marbles Recreation Center Resource Fair at 2950 Renwick St., Monroe; COVID-19 and flu vaccines offered and this event done with Pafford. 

— Sunday, December 4, Noon to 4 p.m., Greater Antioch Baptist Church Ernestine G. Adams Education Center, 301 Sherrouse Ave., Monroe, COVID-19, flu and Monkeypox vaccines offered 

— Monday, December 5, 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., Jackson Parish Council on Aging, 120 Polk Ave., Jonesboro, COVID-19 and Flu vaccines offered 

— Tuesday, December 6, 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., Lincoln Parish Council on Aging, 1000 Saratoga St., Ruston; COVID-19 and Flu vaccines offered 

— Wednesday, December 7, 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., LA Healthcare Connections Community Baby Shower, Powell Street Community Center, 1401 Powell Ave., Monroe, COVID-19, Flu and Monkeypox vaccines offered 

— Friday, December 9: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Longleaf Estates, 149 Bellwood Dr., Quitman, COVID-19, Flu and Monkeypox vaccines offered; 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Caney Creek Apartments, 619 E. Main St., Jonesboro, COVID-19, Flu and Monkeypox vaccines offered 

— Saturday, December 10, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Delhi Resource Fair and Vaccine Event at Richland Learning Center, 119 Charter St., Delhi, COVID-19, Flu and Monkeypox vaccines offered and this event done with Beta Land. 

— Monday, December 12, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., People United Vaccine Clinic, 2101 Tower Dr., Suite A, Monroe, COVID-19, Flu and Monkeypox vaccines offered and this event done with Pafford. 

— Tuesday, December 13, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Ruston Housing Authority, 615 N. Farmerville St., Ruston, COVID-19, Flu and Monkeypox vaccines offered 

— Thursday, December 15, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Robinson Williams Community Center Flu Shot & COVID Booster Clinic, 1510 Elm St., Bastrop, COVID-19 and Flu vaccines offered and this event done with Pafford. 

— Saturday, December 17, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Breakfast with Santa at Powell Street Community Center, 1401 Powell Ave., Monroe, COVID-19, Flu and Monkeypox vaccines offered 

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Remembering Dorothy “Dot” Bryan

Dorothy “Dot” Bryan

Funeral services for Mrs. Dorothy “Dot” Bryan, age 94 of Ruston, LA will be held at 2:00 PM, Friday, December 2, 2022 at First Baptist Church in Ruston with Dr. Chris Craig and Rev. Clayton Owen officiating. Burial will follow in the Mt. Olive East Cemetery in Quitman, LA under the direction of Owens Memorial Chapel Funeral Home of Ruston.

Dot was born December 11, 1927 to Marguerite “Pearl” and Charles Cravey in Houston, TX, and she passed away November 30, 2022 in Ruston. She retired from Green Clinic as an administrative secretary. Dot enjoyed watching old classic musicals and doing crossword puzzles. She especially loved spending time with her grandson Ethan. Dot was preceded in death by her husband of 25 years Willis “Johnny” Bryan; daughter Danielle Taylor; son Mark Fernandez; step-son Jeffrey Bryan; step-daughter Mary Rose “Tootsie” McGuire; and half-brother Charles Cravey.

Dot is survived by her two daughters Wendy Fernandez of Ruston and Michelle Axton of Ruston; grandson Ethan Axton; step-children: Willa Jean “Red” and husband Brad Cornell of Boerne, TX, Jo Ann and husband Butch Warner of De Soto, TX, Johnny C. “Buddy” Bryan of Tomball, TX, Bonnie and husband Mike Langley of Montgomery, TX, Jesse Bryan of Pasadena, TX and Debbie and husband Ricky Martinez of Richmond, TX; daughter-in-law Janie Bryan of Pasadena; daughter-in-law Frances Salines of Corpus Christi, TX; sister-in-law Margaret Smedley of Kountz, TX; sister-in-law Lois Bryan of Port Arthur, TX; numerous step-grandchildren, great and great-great grandchildren; and a host of other family and friends.

Visitation will be 12:00-2:00 PM, Friday, December 2, 2022 at First Baptist Church in Ruston. To leave an online memorial message for the family, please visit www.owensmemorialfuneralhome.com.

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Remembering James Harrell Grigsby

James Harrell Grigsby

Graveside services for Mr. James Harrell Grigsby, age 86 of Ruston, LA will be held at 10:00 AM, Friday, December 2, 2022 at the Wesley Chapel Cemetery in Ruston, LA with Rev. Brad Jones officiating. The service will be under the direction of Owens Memorial Chapel Funeral Home of Ruston.

James was born November 24, 1936 in Jackson Parish, LA to Myrtle Eugene Caskey Grigsby and Pervis Moseley Grigsby, and he peacefully passed away on November 30, 2022 in Ruston. He was a US Army veteran. James received his basic training at Fort Benning, GA and was stationed in South Korea for two years. He was especially proud of his marksman medal. James was an avid outdoorsman. He loved deer hunting and coon hunting. Some of his best times were sitting on a deer stand or chasing after the dogs on dog days. James loved listening to the hounds when they would tree a coon. He, at one time, had two of the best hounds in the area. James was a seismographer, a pipe liner and a truck driver over the years. He was a lover of dogs and cats. During his declining years, his cats were his companions. James was preceded in death by his parents and brother-in-law Robert Royal Riser.

James is survived by his son James Michael Grigsby and wife Terry of Ruston; daughter Jennifer Holly Grigsby; grandchildren James Paul Grigsby and Holly Elizabeth Grigsby and her husband Jesse Myers; sister Virginia Grigsby Riser; nieces Stacy Lynn Campbell Riser and Kimberly Ann Riser England; numerous great-nieces and nephews; and a host of friends, family, and neighbors.

To leave an online memorial message for the family, please visit www.owensmemorialfuneralhome.com.

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Remembering Richard Smelley

Richard Smelley

     Visitation for Richard Smelley will be held Thursday, December 01, 2022, at Kilpatrick Funeral Homes Chapel of Ruston, from 5:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M. 

     Richard was born on January 10, 1958, in Ruston, LA to Billy and Jeanie Smelley.  He passed from this life on November 27, 2022, at his residence in Ruston, LA.  Richard was a truck driver for many years, a member of and Security Guard at First Baptist Church of Ruston and was currently a Security Guard at Lincoln Parish Park.  He is preceded in death by his father, Billy Smelley.

     Richard is survived by his mother, Jeanie Smelley; daughters, Jennifer Broadway and husband Michael, and Connie Givens and husband Trent; grandchildren, Bailey Holloway and husband Garyn, Stormy Givens, Marina Givens, Memphis Broadway, Paige Broadway, and Trenton Givens.

     Online condolences may be extended to the family at www.kilpatrickfuneralhomes.com

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Notice of death — Dec. 1, 2022

Dorothy “Dot” Bryan 
December 11, 1927 – November 30, 2022 
Visitation: Friday, December 2, 2022, 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM, First Baptist Church Ruston, 200 S Trenton St 
Funeral Service: Friday, December 2, 2022, 2:00 PM. First Baptist Church Ruston, 200 S Trenton St. Ruston 
Cemetery Committal: Friday, December 2, 2022, Mt. Olive East Cemetery, LA-147, Quitman  

James Harrell Grigsby 
November 24, 1936 – November 30, 2022 
Graveside Service: Friday, December 2, 2022, 10:00 AM, Wesley Chapel Cemetery, Wesley Chapel Road, Ruston 

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Community support key for Cats Friday night

Photo by Josh McDaniel

by Malcolm Butler

I have the luxury of having attended Ruston High School in the late 1980s when Hall of Fame coach Chick Childress and his all-star staff of coaches were leading the Bearcats deep into the playoffs year after year after year.

It was Superdome or bust for the Bearcats each and every season.

I remember another legendary Hall of Fame Coach Leon Barmore telling me numerous times early in my career at Louisiana Tech that the hard part wasn’t getting to the top. The hard part was staying at the top.

Oh, was Coach Barmore so right.

Ruston High won four state titles during a nine-year span (1982-1990) back then. It hasn’t won one since.

This Friday night the 2022 version of the Bearcats has a chance to play their way back to the Superdome, a place that the beloved R hasn’t seen since 1998.

Kudos to Ruston High coach Jerrod Baugh and his staff in building the program back to prominence. They got over the quarterfinal hurdle last Friday night down at Denham Springs.

Can they take the next step this Friday at home against the defending state champions in Zachary? It won’t be easy.

But one thing is for sure. Ruston needs — and deserves — the support of this community. And yes, it’s important to pack Hoss Garrett Stadium Friday night with a sea of Bearcat Red.

If you don’t believe me, then just ask Jerrod Baugh.

“I think the (crowd) is a big factor,” said Baugh following Wednesday’s practice. “To me it gives the kids the confidence just knowing the community is behind them. Our fans have done an excellent job this year of showing up and supporting the kids. It should be something that they are used to seeing now so it shouldn’t be a distraction for us. It should be really helpful for us.”

A near-sellout crowd saw the Bearcats finally beat West Monroe after a drought of three decades. However, there were still some empty seats. Let’s fill them all this Friday.

RHS Principal Dan Gressett said general admission tickets are still on sale for this Friday night. General admission tickets are $15 and can be purchased from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. in the Ruston High ticket office located in the school.

Baugh said he has seen an increase in support this year and hopes it continues this Friday and on to the Superdome if the Bearcats can survive another tough test against Zachary.

“I think anytime you have success, everyone jumps in … no fault to them,” Baugh said. “They want to be helpful. You see some people that maybe haven’t been around the program in a long time that want to get back involved and give back. These kids have earned that kind of support. They have done everything that we have asked them to do.

“I wasn’t around back (in the 1980s) when they were making trips (to the Superdome). But I get the feeling that this has rejuvenated everybody in the community, just with the positivity towards our football program and the school. It is really good to see.”

Last night members of the Ruston High School spirit squads painted local business windows downtown in an effort to increase community spirit for the Bearcats. Tonight anyone can drive their vehicle to the freshman parking lot at RHS between 5 and 6 p.m. to get their windows painted by the Ruston High cheer squads.

These are small things, but they are signs of a community wanting to support one of its local high schools. And of a school wanting that support.

Friday night at Hoss Garrett Stadium could be a special one for a lot of young men. And some of us old men as well. And for a community.

Baugh knows his team is in for yet another slugfest against one of the best in the state. But he also has great belief in the young men representing with the R on the side of those red helmets.

“In my mind, (getting back to the Superdome) was something that I believed we could do at Ruston High when I took this job,” said Baugh. “I’m too hard headed to think otherwise. I want to see that take place again. I am happy for these kids. They grow up and they hear about all of the past and the tradition. A lot of these kids, well their dads played on those teams in the 1980s and 1990s. Maybe they don’t have to listen to their dad’s stories anymore. Maybe they are creating some of their own.”




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RCT holds auditions for Alice in Wonderland

Ruston Community Theatre is pleased to announce auditions for the upcoming show Alice in Wonderland, directed by Tami Alexander. Travel down the rabbit hole with Alice and meet an array of zany characters In Anne Coulter Martin’s adaptation of the classic Lewis Carroll novel “Alice in Wonderland.” Alice is lost in the nonsensical world of Wonderland and tries to elicit help from her newfound friends to get home. But she must tread carefully and avoid pursuit by the hot-tempered and execution-loving
Queen of Hearts. The show will be dropping onto the Dixie Stage February 23-26.

Available roles:
• Alice
• The Cheshire Cat
• White Rabbit
• Mad Hatter
• March Hare
• Dormouse
• Caterpillar
• Tweedle Dee
• Tweedle Dum
• Frog footman
• Duchess
• Cook
• Mock turtle
• Queen of Hearts
• Gryphon
• King
• Knave
• Courtier
• Executioner
• Ensemble roles include: Ladies, Heart Children, Gardeners, Flower Girls, Soldiers.

The audition dates are Sunday, December 11, at 3 PM, and Monday, December 12, at 7:00 PM at The Dixie Center for the Arts in Ruston. Participants will need to prepare and recite a memorized monologue about a minute long at the audition. This can be a
poem or a snippet from a play or movie.

Be sure to like us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RustonCommunityTheatre to stay informed on other RCT events and shows. Ticket sales will begin two weeks prior to the show opening date. Call the box office for tickets at 318-595-0872 or purchase them online at http://www.rctruston.org.

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Domestic incident leads to arrest

A Choudrant man was arrested Monday afternoon after Lincoln Parish deputies responded to a disturbance in progress on Harris Road. 

Deputies found a woman sitting at the dining table crying hysterically. She said her boyfriend, Michael C. Alexander, Jr., 24, took her phone and prescription medication. He went through her phone and found a number for another man she had texted. She said she attempted to get the phone back and Alexander shoved up her against the wall. Alexander pinned her down and would not let her go. She said she tried to get away, but Alexander wouldn’t let her and picked her up and held her upside down by her feet. She said the only way to get him off of her was by biting him. She continued biting him until he walked away, and she called 911. 

Deputies saw red marks on the victim’s arms and a scrape on her left leg. 

Alexander was asked to explain what happened. He stated the victim was trying to get a cell phone she had given him. He told her she wasn’t getting the phone and she began biting him several times. Alexander stated he should’ve left the house but did not. 

Alexander was arrested and transported to the Lincoln Parish Detention Center where he was booked for domestic abuse battery and an outstanding warrant for failure to appear in Third District Court on earlier domestic abuse battery charge.

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. 

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RCT’s Elf performs for elementary students

By MaryBelle Tuten

On Tuesday, November 29, the cast of Ruston Community Theatre’s Elf: the Musical performed for elementary students at the Dixie Center for the Arts. Over 450 students attended this special performance. The students enjoyed experiencing the joys of live theater (the music, dancing, and acting) as they laughed and enjoyed the story of Buddy the Elf. Each season, Ruston Community Theatre plans one or two productions for area schools to attend.

Elf: the Musical will open for the general public at the Dixie Center for the Arts on Thursday, December 1, at 7:00 with performances continuing on Dec. 2 and Dec. 3rd at 7:00 and Sunday, Dec. 4, at 2:00 pm. This production is performed and produced by Ruston Community Theatre. Tickets are on sale now at rctruston.org. Adult tickets are $20 and youth tickets are $10.

Elf: the Musical is based on the 2003 film and was adapted for Broadway in 2011. The original Broadway production broke records at the box office three times, grossing over a million dollars in one week! Buddy Hobbs, a young orphan child, performed by Jacob Guilliot, mistakenly crawls into Santa Claus “bag of gifts” and is transported back to the North Pole. After discovering the baby, Santa, performed by Mark Graham, and his elves decide to raise the child as an elf. Years later, Buddy finds out that he is actually a human being and, with Santa’s prompting, leaves for to New York City in search of his father, Walter Hobbs, performed by Joe Brown. You will be able to follow Buddy’s adventures in New York City as he searches for his father and seeks to bring the spirit of Christmas back to the city.

Steele Moegle, the musical’s director stated that cast and crew have spent a lot of time laughing and when not rehearsing she misses this group! When asked what had surprised her about the show, she responded “When holding auditions, almost the entire group of leads auditioned in the same group of 10”. This is not how casting usually works. She has also been surprised at the massive amount of help and support from her fabulous crew. Moegle began preparing for the show in July. She knew, listening to the music for the production, that it would be challenging to execute with a lot of moving parts and a demanding set design and property list. Moegle mentioned the most difficult aspect of a directing a musical is finding people who can sing, dance, and act. Her goal as director is to help each person reach for a higher artistic level in all three areas. Megan Wilkins, a talented and dedicated choreographer, has been hands on helping the actors with their dancing skills.

The musical effects for the show will be both instrumental and vocal. Lighting has been designed by Ashley Palmer and sound has been designed by Brent Gay. Mark Graham designed and built the set for Elf. Others playing roles in the performance are Brooke Belle, Renee Cook-Cockerham, Heather Hampton, Rebekah Heiden, Carrick Inabett, Lisa Claire Mian, Riley Moegle, Cole Morganthall, Katie Peters, Nathan Richardson and Levi Stephenson. Joining these actors on stage is an Ensemble of 21 members.

Grisham Locke, an actor for Elf, stated that “This show has been so much fun, but just as challenging. I have stretched my movement and character muscles in ways he could not have imagined.” Locke juggles five different characters in just the first 5 scenes. Another interesting fact is that elves must be short. This requires a new technique for those acting as elves. Elijah Farris, who performs as an elf says “you get used to acting and dancing on your knees…. you just have to remember knee pads!”

Ruston Community Theatre has chosen Elf: the Musical a Christmas extravaganza as an event for families to enjoy. The movie was rated PG and critics of the show have commented that Elf has enough jokes for adults and enough special effects and fun for youth. Reserve your seat today to laugh, smile, and experience the joy of Christmas with Ruston Community Theatre.

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Lady Aggies Guillote headed to SAU Tech

Elissa Guillote signed an NLI to play at Southern Arkansas. (Courtesy Photo)

By T. Scott Boatright

Elissa Guillote turned in a .533 batting average and .745 on base percentage as a junior shortstop for Choudrant’s Lady Aggies last season.

But before the 2023 season begins, Guillote earned one of her biggest walks ever as a Lady Aggie as she knocked a major life decision out of the park Tuesday as she signed a national letter of intent to continue her softball career on the next level.

Guillote will take her next steps in the walk of life an hour-and-a-half north of Choudrant after signing on to play collegiately for Southern Arkansas University Tech in Camden, Arkansas.

“I went up there and looked at the campus in January and met the coaches and the team, and I just really liked the family environment there,” Guillote said. “I felt very welcomed. I just kind of instantly knew — that was where I wanted to go.”

Playing within easy driving distance is another bonus for both Guillote and her family, friends and supporters. 

“They’ve always been my biggest supporters and I wouldn’t be where I am without them,” Guillote said about the fact that her family will be able to watch her play at SAU Tech. “So it will be nice for them to see where all they love and support has gotten me.”

Guillote, who said she’d like to be forensic psychologist when her playing days end,  has been primarily a shortstop for the Lady Aggies but said the SAU Tech coaching staff had indicated they could use her in a variety of roles.

“I know that when I go up there I’ll be pretty much a utility player,” Guillote said. 

Choudrant softball coach Wayne Antley said that won’t be a problem for Guillote.

“She can play pretty much anywhere,” Antley said. “She can play outfield, she’s caught, but she’s mainly our shortstop.”

Antley said intensity plays as a big a role in Guillote’s game than anything else.

“She’ll give you everything she’s got,” Antley said. “She’s a hard worker, and if you tell her you want her to do one thing, then she’ll try it. She’s very coachable. She’ll do anything they’ll ask her to.”

Guillote said the best part of signing early is being able to focus on her true goal.

“I think it’s nice to have that relief of knowing that I have something ahead for me after high school,” Guillote said. “Now I can focus on working toward that state championship.”


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John Price wins Week 12 of NFL Pick’em Contest

John Price (left) won $150 cash and prizes after capturing the Week 12 NFL Pickem with a 10-0 record. He is pictured with 511 Sales Representative Garrett Corken.

Participation is very simple. Just click on this link below. No entry fee. It’s FREE to play. One entry per contestant.


John Price is the Week 12 winner of the Karl Malone Toyota NFL Pickem Contest presented by 511 and Black Rifle Coffee Company.

He won $150 in cash and prizes. How would you like to join the winners circle?

It’s easy. Each week pick the 10 NFL games that we list and have a chance to win cash and gift cards.

One lucky (or smart) pick’em guru will walk away with $150 worth of cash and prizes. The weekly deadline is Saturday at 10 a.m. (prior to Sunday’s NFL games). 

Anyone is eligible to participate (only one entry per contestant). Each week the winner will be the participant with the best record out of 10 selected NFL games (ties will be broken by two separate tiebreakers consisting of guessing the total points scored in two of our weekly contests).

There is no entry fee, just like there is no cost to subscribe to the Lincoln Parish Journal. 

It takes 20-30 seconds to sign up and not much longer than that to make your picks.

All contest decisions by LPJ management are final. Weekly winners will be notified Monday and are will be requested to take a photo that will run in the following week’s LPJ.

Every participant will receive a FREE subscription to the Journal, if you’re not already signed up for the easily-navigated, convenient 6:55 a.m. daily e-mail.

Weekly Winners

Week 1: Barry Morales

Week 2: Zoe Collum

Week 3: Joe Peel

Week 4: Linda Fowler

Week 5: John Wakeman

Week 6: Lee Garrett

Week 7: Shawn Payton

Week 8: Don Griffin

Week 9: Charlton Garrett

Week 10: Kevin Watson

Week 11: Doc Hoefler

Week 12: John Price

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Return on investment – the problem may be our investment not the return

Whether we are running a business organization or our personal finances, the term return on investment (ROI) can be a very important aspect of financial success.  Business owners, investors, and individuals want to earn as much as possible from their investments.  There is often a great deal of time, analysis, and scrutiny placed on the return aspect of this performance metric, but oftentimes the investment piece of this equation is not given the same level of consideration.

While we often relegate ROI to the financial world, the same concept holds true in other areas of our life as well.  We invest time, emotional energy, intellectual commitment, compassion, care, and other aspects of our lives in addition to our money.  Just like our finances, we have choices regarding where and how we invest these aspects of our lives.  We can invest completely in ourselves, or we can invest in others.  We can diversify our investments across many people or areas, or we can isolate on one person or objective.  We can be active in our investments and make frequent changes based on results or we can be long-term focused and stick with our initial choice.

Similar to the financial aspect of ROI, if we aren’t happy with the returns we are getting, we can spend a great deal of time complaining, comparing, agonizing, and analyzing the returns, or we can take a hard look at our investment strategy.  If you aren’t happy with the returns in your life, you might want to take some time and honestly assess where you are investing.  Where are you committing your time, your energy, your thoughts, and your emotional involvement?  If you want to be impactful with others, you need to be investing in others.  If you want to be successful in your investments with others, you need to have something to offer them.

I would suggest a balanced investment portfolio where we invest in ourselves regularly to ensure we are prepared and equipped to invest in others.  We need to invest in regular exercise, a healthy diet, constant learning, sufficient rest, and continual growth in various aspects of our lives.  We can then take the returns from those investments and reinvest in others to add value to their lives and equip them to do the same.  We invest in others through giving our time, sharing wise counsel, teaching what we know, performing acts of service, providing financial gifts, and being available to support when called upon.  

The end of the year is a good time to reassess how we are investing.  It’s a good time to look back at our investments and consider what and who we are investing in with our lives.  You can sure look at your financial investments, but don’t stop there.  Make 2023 a year of investment beyond just the finances.  Invest in yourself so that you can invest in others.  Those type of returns are the ones that provide sustained satisfaction.

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LSU AgCenter hosts holiday workshop

The LSU AgCenter will host a holiday workshop this weekend in Jackson Parish.

This free class will be presented by LSU AgCenter nutrition agents. Participants will sample and receive all recipes demonstrated.

The workshop will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2 at the Jackson Parish Library — Chatham branch.

For more information or to reserve a spot, call 318-249-2980.

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Volunteer Louisiana seeks nominations for Champions of Service

Do you know someone in your community who has gone above and beyond in their service to others? What about an organization that has demonstrated compassion and dedication or innovation and creativity in addressing community challenges while serving others? Now is the time to nominate those individuals or groups for the 2023 Champions of Service awards. Volunteer Louisiana is accepting nominations for any person, group, or business now through January 31, 2023.

Volunteer Louisiana will recognize one champion from each of the seven geographic regions throughout the state, as well as AmeriCorps and group/corporate volunteer champions. The 2023 Champions of Service awards will be presented during National Volunteer Week in April 2023.

“Volunteerism shows the strength of Louisiana’s character and the resilience of our spirit,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. “The past several years have especially shown the asset volunteers are in our communities. Their selfless willingness to pitch in and help their neighbors and friends in times of crisis has proved invaluable. That alone makes all of our volunteers true champions and true Louisiana ambassadors. We want to hear the stories of how Louisianans put their communities and neighbors before themselves. We need you to nominate them for their selfless volunteering so we can honor their dedication to making Louisiana a state where we treat everyone like family.”

“Volunteers make a difference in communities throughout Louisiana each and every day,” said Judd Jeansonne, Executive Director of Volunteer Louisiana. “The Champions of Service awards recognize their outstanding contributions and inspiring stories.”

You can make your nominations by filling out and submitting this nomination form, or learn more about the award by visiting the Volunteer Louisiana website. If you have any questions about the award or nomination process, please email volunteerlouisiana@crt.la.gov. You can also hear the stories of previous Champions of Service winners on the Volunteer Louisiana YouTube channel.

Volunteer Louisiana, located in the Office of Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser, manages 17 AmeriCorps State programs, promotes volunteerism, and coordinates spontaneous, unaffiliated volunteers in times of disaster. It is supported by grants from the federal agency, AmeriCorps. To learn more about the AmeriCorps State programs or for more information on Volunteer Louisiana, visit www.VolunteerLouisiana.gov.

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An ugly duckling

1939 was a hard year for Bob May, his wife Evelyn, and their four-year-old daughter Barbara.  For the past two years, Evelyn had been fighting a losing battle with cancer and was now bedridden.  Bob’s ambition had been to be a novelist, but, so far, his talents had only gotten him as far as creating catalogue copy for Montgomery Ward.  Bob said many years later, “Instead of writing the great American novel, as I’d always hoped, I was describing men’s white shirts.”  

Montgomery Ward’s salary was a steady, much needed paycheck.  Evelyn’s medical expenses took all of Bob’s earnings and more.  Bob was nearing bankruptcy.  He was also exhausted.  Day in and day out, he took care of the many needs of his wife and little Barbara while working a full-time job.  Bob never once complained, but put on a brave, cheerful face for his wife and daughter.

One day in early 1939, Bob’s boss came to him with a project that seemed to fit Bob’s talent and his situation perfectly.  In previous years, Montgomery Ward had purchased coloring books to give away to children during the Christmas season.  The coloring books cost the company a substantial amount of money.  To cut down on costs, the company decided that they wanted to create their own children’s book to give away during the 1939 Christmas season.  The project fit Bob’s situation in that it allowed him to work from home so he could be available for his wife and daughter.

The company wanted the story to be a cheery tale in poem-form about an animal who was an “ugly duckling,” a misfit.  Bob had a difficult time writing the cheery tale because of his concern for his wife.  He could see that Evelyn was growing weaker with each passing day.  Each time he finished a draft of the story, he read it to little Barbara and watched carefully for her response.  In this way, he tweaked and reworked the story.

On July 28, 1939, Evelyn lost her battle with cancer.  Bob and little Barbara were distraught.  To ease Bob’s burden, his boss offered to transfer the project to another writer.  Bob made it clear that it was his project, and he would complete it.  Bob continued to write drafts and read them to little Barbara.  Finally, one day in late August, Bob called little Barbara and her grandparents into the living room.  He read the draft of the story and paid special attention to each of their faces. He said later, “in their eyes I could see that the story accomplished what I had hoped.”  With the story completed, Bob turned it over to Montgomery Ward artist Denver Gillen for illustration.  

During the holiday season of 1939, shoppers fell in love with the story.  Montgomery Ward gave away 2.4 million copies that year and planned to give away at least that many the following year.  With World War II on the horizon, the United States War Production Board rationed paper, which limited the number of books published in the country.  Bob’s “ugly duckling” story could have fallen into obscurity.  

Following the end of the war, Montgomery Ward decided to revive the book giveaway.  In 1946, RCA Victor contacted Bob because they wanted to record a spoken version of Bob’s story.  Unfortunately for Bob, Montgomery Ward, his employer, owned the rights to the story and declined RCA Victor’s request because they wanted to give the books away again that holiday season.  That year, the company gave away 3.6 million copies of Bob’s story.  

On January 1, 1947, Montgomery Ward president Sewell Avery did something shocking.  Avery transferred the copyright of the story from Montgomery Ward to Bob, free and clear.  Bob searched for a publisher, but none of the major publishing houses wanted to publish a story of which 6 million copies had been given away.  Why, they asked, would anyone pay for a book that had previously been free.  Finally, Bob spoke with Harry Elbaum, the head of Maxton Publishers in New York.  Bob described Harry as being “a little guy with a big nose,” an ugly duckling of sorts.  Harry printed 100,000 hardcover copies of the book for the Christmas season.  The books were a success.  RCA Victor also produced 45 rpm records of the story narrated by Paul Wing and music by George Kleinsinger.  The spoken records were also successful.  Johnny Marks turned Bob’s story into a hit record which has been recorded countless times by numerous artists.  You and I know Bob’s story well.  The “ugly duckling” that Bob created was not a duck, but a red-nosed reindeer named Rudolph.


1. Independent (Long Beach, California), November 19, 1939, p.13.

2. Battle Creek Enquirer, December 6, 1948, p.3.

3. Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 19, 1948, p.74.

4. “Evelyn Marks May (1905-1939)” Find a Grave, www.findagrave.com, accessed November 25, 2022, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9906088/evelyn-may.

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SLP grad student presents at national convention

Bailey Grace Jennings, a second-year graduate student in Louisiana Tech’s Speech-Language Pathology program, recently presented her research at the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) national convention in New Orleans.

Her poster presentation was titled “Words Matter: Reframing CSD Programs’ Thinking About Adolescents.” Under the guidance of faculty Dr. Kristin Nellenbach and Dr. Carrie Knight in Tech’s Department of Communication Disorders, Jennings answered two questions pertaining to course offerings on adolescent development and needs in Communication Sciences and Disorder programs in the United States.

“The poster is a representation of our research,” Jennings said. “I helped them write and conduct research on the importance of advocating for adolescent language in speech-language pathology graduate school programs.”

A native of Greenwood, Mississippi, Jennings graduated high school from Pillow Academy in Greenwood and earned her BS in speech-language and hearing sciences at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, before coming to Tech to earn her master’s.

“One reason I chose this major is because I loved how I would have the opportunity to work with a variety of age groups, children to adults,” she said. “But the main reason I chose this major is because I have always enjoyed helping other people. What better way to do this than to help people communicate?”

Usually, ASHA national conventions draw around 15,000 attendees.

“Although I was nervous at first, I am honored to be a part of this project,” Jennings said. “I feel like it has been a great opportunity and allowed me to gain new skills. I think this convention will be a great learning experience, and I cannot wait be a part of it.”

After graduation in May, Jennings hopes to work as a speech-language pathologist in the specialty area of feeding and swallowing.


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Remembering Susan Diane Morrow

Susan Diane Morrow

Memorial services for Mrs. Susan Diane “Susie” Morrow, age 48 of Haughton, LA will be held from 2:00-4:00 PM, Sunday, December 4, 2022 in the boy’s gym at Parkway High School in Bossier City, LA under the direction of Destiny Church.

Susie was born October 14, 1974 in Ruston to Cathy Woods Morrow and Joe Morrow, and she passed away November 23, 2022 in Bossier City. She had an outgoing personality and was loved by everyone who met her. Susie loved gardening, fishing, hunting, and, most of all, she loved her family. She was a rural mail carrier in Benton, LA. Susie was preceded in death by her mother Cathy Myrick; paternal grandparents James Morrow and wife Gloria Jean; and maternal grandparents Maxine and Thelton Woods.

Susie is survived by her daughter Larah Santoro of Natchitoches, LA; son Tristian Santoro of Haughton, LA; father Joe Morrow and wife Judy of Dubach, LA; step-brother Michael Rodden; step-sister Tiffany Rodden Ennis; fur baby Hank; special friends Michael Vigil and Kenneth Atchison; and a host of family and friends.

Visitation will be 9:30-11:00 AM, Wednesday, November 30, 2022 at Owens Memorial Chapel Funeral Home of Ruston, LA. To leave an online message for the family, please visit www.owensmemorialchapelfuneralhome.com.

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Remembering Bert Manning Brown

Bert Manning Brown

Bert Manning Brown, 71, of Goose Creek, Louisiana passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday, November 23, 2022, of natural causes.

Bert was born in Ruston, Louisiana on June 9, 1951, to O.B. and Dottie Brown. He attended Ruston High School where he was a proud tuba player for the Bearcat Band. The RHS band is also where he met his high school sweetheart who became his best friend and wife of 51 years, Linda Hood Brown.

Bert leaves behind his wife, Linda; children, Holly (Eric) Alexander, Wes (Lindsey) Brown, and Lizzy (Paul) Brazzel; grandchildren, Haley (David) Madix, Luke Alexander, Jace Young, Leslie Alexander, Levi Alexander, Weslynn Brown, and Presley Brazzel; great grandson-to-be, Dawson Madix; sister, Kitty (Butch) Redlund; numerous nieces and nephews; and countless friends.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, December 3, 2022, at 2 o’clock in the afternoon at St. Rest Baptist Church (13015 Hwy 146, Dubach, LA 71235).  Longtime friend, Brother Randy Ray will officiate. “Adopted” brothers and members of the Four Amigos, Bruce Carter Sr, Todd Faulkner, and Kurt Juncker will serve as honorary pallbearers.

A reception will immediately follow the memorial in the fellowship hall of St. Rest. Memory cards will be provided for you to write down and share your favorite memories with the family.

Thank you for each of the prayers, phone calls, and text messages sent. We have felt surrounded by the love and support of so many. Your hearts have helped ease our grief.

Watch out for deer, bears, and orangutans!


Online condolences may be extended to the family at www.kfhruston@kilpatrickfuneralhomes.com

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Notice of death — Nov. 30, 2022

James Grigsby 
November 24, 1936 – November 30, 2022 
Arrangements are pending  

Richard Dennis Smelley 
January 10, 1958 – November 27, 2022 
Visitation: Kilpatrick Funeral Homes – Ruston, Thursday, December 1, 2022, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm 

Marie S. Taylor 
Thursday 11/27/1924  — Friday 11/25/2022     
Visitation: Friday 12/02/2022 3:00pm to 5:00pm at King’s Funeral Home 
Celebration of Life: Saturday 12/03/2022 11:00am at King’s Funeral Home 
Interment: Saturday 12/03/2022, Grambling Memorial Garden, Highway 80 West, Grambling 

Archie M. Osborne Tatum 
Saturday 06/19/1937  — Friday 11/25/2022     
Visitation: Friday 12/02/2022 3:00pm to 6:00pm at King’s Funeral Home 
Wake: Friday 12/02/2022 6:00pm to 7:00pm at King’s Funeral Home 
Celebration of Life: Saturday 12/03/2022 11:00am, New Rocky Valley Baptist Church, 2155 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., Grambling, 
Interment: Saturday 12/03/2022 Following Service, Grambling Memorial Garden, Highway 80 West, Grambling 

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LPPJ votes to stay the course with ongoing ‘Health Hub’ plans

By T. Scott Boatright

The Lincoln Parish Police Jury moved to continue forward with plans already in place to construct a “Health Hub” while also setting dates for 2023 LPPJ meetings during roll call voting during a special meeting held Tuesday night  in the LPPJ Room at the Lincoln Parish Courthouse.

A contract to move forward with plans to construct a “Health Hub,” which would include the Lincoln Parish Health Unit, the Health Hut and the H.E.L.P.  (Humanitarian Enterprises of Lincoln Parish) Agency was approved by the LPPJ earlier this year during its March meeting.

That contract approved having the Riley Company of Louisiana to provide surveying and engineering services in order to prepare the site for construction for a budget under $40,000. Plans for the “Health Hub” are being designed by Ruston architect Mike Walpole.

During Tuesday’s meeting Parish Administrator Doug Postel told jurors that the LPPJ had been approached by Allegiance Health Management, which owns Northern Louisiana Medical Center (NLMC), about possibly opening discussions for the LPPJ to make an offer on one of the MLNC buildings once Allegiance builds a new hospital north of Interstate 20, which the corporation has indicated it plans to do.

Postel said Allegiance officials told him the corporation plans to have a new hospital in operation in about four years.

That resulted in a lengthy discussion among jurors about the pros and cons of considering such a potential offer.

Juror Logan Hunt expressed a desire to enter into discussions with Allegiance about such a hypothetical  offer, saying that should  a potential deal for one of the newer buildings (the older, main NLMC building was constructed with asbestos, which is one of the reasons Allegiance wants to make a move) be significantly lower than the $9 million the LPPJ has in place for its planned “Health Hub,” then any leftover funding could be diverted to other key uses, including upgrading the Lincoln Parish Fire Protection District.

But other jurors bristled at the notion of considering changing direction of the planned “Health Hub” at this point in time.

Health and Welfare Committee chair Annette Straughter was one of those jurors.

“Yes, to get the (NLMC outpatient) Surgical Center for $100,000 would be amazing if we could get that … but there’s no way we’re going to get that when  it’s worth probably 20 times that,” Straughter said. “I think we need to move forward with our plans. Our citizens deserve, not need, deserve,  to have an updated facility that can meet all of their needs.

“We really need to move forward with this. Nobody is saying no to accept the hospital. I am not saying no to accepting the surgical center. We are saying yes, let’s keep moving forward with our plans.”

A motion to continue forward with existing plans was approved 9-2 (juror Skip Russell left the meeting before the voting began) with Theresa Wyatt, Hazel Hunter, Richard Durrett, TJ Canfrord, Glenn Scriber, Joe Henderson, Milton Melton, Sharyon Mayfield and Straughter voting in favor of that motion with Hunt and Matt Pullen being the no votes.

Earlier in the meeting, another longer discussion occurred when voting on LPPJ meeting dates for 2023. LPPJ meetings have long been held on the second Tuesday of every month, but Postel said that some LPPJ staff members had expressed a desire to have the meeting dates in March and October of 2023 moved back a week because Lincoln Parish Schools will be out during the second week of those two months.

“The reason I’m bringing this up is because the majority of the Police Jury staff have school-age children,” Postel said. “For us to do without staff on a meeting week is complicated. We can do it, but it’s complicated. I contacted the school board, and they changed their meetings from the week that schools will be out, so this would not be something we’re doing on our own but something other agencies are doing as well.”

In the end, jurors voted 8-4 to continue holding its regular meetings at 6 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month in 2023, with Wyatt, Hunter, Durrett, Russell, Henderson, Melton, Mayfield and Slaughter voting to keep things the same while Cranford, Hunt, Pullen and Scriber unsuccessfully voted in favor of allowing the proposed March and October changes.


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Ruston’s hoopers take home pair of wins over Bossier

Photo Credit: Reggie McLeroy

By Kyle Roberts

It was a sweep for both varsity teams Tuesday night at home against Bossier in both the boys and the girls games; first, the girls took care of the Lady Bearkats by a final score of 63-12, while the boys won theirs in a closer contest 49-32.

“I’m really happy for the guys,” Ruston head coach Ryan Bond said. “I was a little worried because we didn’t play over the break, and we didn’t practice very much because I knew the guys needed their legs underneath them because we had previously played four games in five days. December is going to be tough with a lot of difficult opponents. For the way the guys have come back after the off days with a mental focus against a good Bossier team.”

The boys took an early 20-9 lead after the first quarter, but Bossier quickly changed its defensive style to slow Ruston’s scoring down. At halftime, Ruston was still up 22-14. In the third quarter, Ruston started to pull away thanks in part to a half-court buzzer beater by sophomore Aidan Anding to put the Bearcats up 12 points 38-26. Ruston held on for a final score of 49-32.

“The guys just fought tonight,” Bond said. “They played heavy minutes, and they’re going to play heavy minutes until football is over, which will hopefully be December 10. They followed the game plan. I’m proud of the guys.”

On the girls’ side, the Lady Bearcats amassed an early lead and was able to get some significant playing time for some of the younger players on the squad.

“Tonight was good for a lot of our younger players to continue to gain some valuable experience and confidence,” Ruston head coach Meredith Graf said. “We’re looking forward to a tough week of competition at the showdown at the tournament in Lake Charles.”

Senior Braylan McNeal led the Bearcats with 19 points, while Anding finished with 14 points, with four made three-pointers. Sophomore Kiersynce McNeal finished with 11 points for the Lady Bearcats.

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