Natchitoches native overcomes obstacles on road to breaking powerlifting records

By Corey Poole



Natchitoches native Brittany Basco became the national collegiate champion in the 43 kg weight class and broke the bench, deadlift, and total record at the 2016 USA Powerlifting Collegiate National Championships in Providence, RI.

“My connection to Natchitoches definitely played a vital role in my success because I have so many people providing motivation and support from hours away,” said Basco. “For example, a number of people contributed to myNAPF (North American Power Lifting Federation) Championship trip to Canada with donation and moral support. Even though I have made Baton Rouge my current home, Natchitoches will always be my hometown. I couldn’t be more thankful for the support I get from those who roots.”
Basco has a diverse athletic background which started with pole vaulting, powerlifting, and soccer in high school after playing softball for 13 years.

“Lifting was my favorite part of our workouts so I decided to join the powerlifting team,” she said. “I didn’t realize that I would actually be so good at it. I started competing and routinely placing in the top three spots during competitions. I went to high school nationals and placed second my senior year.”
After graduating high school, Basco decided to continue pursuing her passion for lifting and was selected as a member of the LSU powerlifting team during her freshman year.Her accomplishments during high school positioned her to have a good chance of winning the collegiate nationals.Unfortunately, she suffered a hand injury while on a mission trip which required time-off to recuperate. Shortly after returning to training, she experienced another injury, this time to her neck, which again further delayed her goals for the collegiate nationals.

“I lost a lot of headway as a result of the injuries. After returning to training, I shifted to a higher weight class, which I found to be more difficult from a competition stand point; however, I still managed to place fourth in the nation during collegiate nationals and captureseveral records during other meets.” Basco allots some of her success right out of recovery to her decision to maintain a vegetarian diet. This is counter-intuitive for a power-lifter, but she feels it gives her a strategic advantage for maintaining weight class.

Basco hoped to build momentum as a result of her strong finish during freshman year, but she developed another injury shortly after the start of her next semester – this time a far more significant injury with a ruptureddisk.She took the entire semester off and went from lifting almost three times her body weight to relearning how to lift her legs and body.

“It was excruciating pain,” she said. “I lost a huge portion of my muscle mass. I needed to find an alternative means of exercise that could supplement my healing process. This prompted me todiscover my newest passions: acroyoga and aerial silks.”

The flexibility and strength required for acroyoga and aerial silks helped to re-build Basco’s base strength which allowed her to transition back to lifting. With steadfast determination and a “now or never” attitude, Basco competed in a qualifying meet for the collegiate nationals in Mobile, Alabama. She was able to placefirst in her weight class and secure a number of the All-American records. She used the momentum generated from her success in Mobile to secure a commanding finish at second place at the collegiate nationals in Orlando, Florida.

“I thought that I would take a break for a little while until I got invited to compete in Canada at the NAPF Championship,” said Basco. However, she found that this break would short-lived when she received an invitation in the mail. “I was so excited that I couldn’t even finish reading the letter. Luckily my mom was there to help me through it.”

Basco won second place in open and in the Junior division at 43 kg at the NAPF Championship along with breaking a deadlift record.

After her trip to Canada, She returned to LSU to rush for her sorority and realized that she was experiencing some physical discomfort. After getting an MRI she was officially diagnosed with a bulging/ruptured disk and Spinal Bifida Occulta. This set back required Basco to yet again travel down the road to recovery.

After weeks of physical therapy and progressive lifting to re-build strength, Basco was able to return to competing for the LSU Powerlifting Team and get another shot at winning the collegiate national championship. Weighing in just shy of the weight class limit at 42.3 kg (93.06 lbs) and two ounces less than her toughest competitor, Basco was confident that she was positioned for success. However, a slow start to the competition with her squat required her to make up ground with her deadlift. She was able to bounce back and finish with a 248 lb record breaking dead lift and become the first LSU raw collegiate national champion and the first LSU collegiate national champion since 2013. She also broke the team’s raw bench press, deadlift, and total records in the 43kg weight class.

Although Basco’s injuries have at times interrupted her path, she has continued to remain resilient and dedicated to her goals, finding new and creative ways to build upon her already established and recognized achievements. When reflecting on her setbacks with respect to the broken records, she states with complete confidence, “Ruptured disks aren’t forever, but training is.” It’s hard to not believe those words coming from someone who has accomplished so much in the face of adversity.

Large tree limb down near Tommy’s Grocery


Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Deputies and Natchez Police arrived on the scene of a large tree limb down on La. Hwy. 494 near Tommy’s Grocery at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 31.

Motorists traveling through the area should drive carefully and expect delays.

La. DOTD has been contacted.

2016 Memorial Day Observance at The Natchitoches Parish Veterans’ Memorial Park

By Kevin Shannahan


Kevin’s Gallery

Natchitoches Parish’s annual Memorial Day remembrance was held May 30 at the Veterans’ Memorial Park before a capacity crowd of veterans, families and community members. Master of Ceremonies Truman Maynard opened the program followed by Dr. Michael Honzell, pastor of United Baptist Church, who offered the opening prayer, then by the Lakeview High School Air Force Junior ROTC Color Guard’s presentation of the colors.

The pledge of allegiance was led by James Gay, who has the distinction of serving in WWII, the Korean War and Vietnam. Two NSU faculty members, Sara Puryear-Dunn and John Dunn lent their talents to the ceremony. Sara sang the National Anthem and John played Taps in memory of the veterans who lost their lives in the service of the country.

Major Bob Kellogg, USAF, (ret), Junior AFROTC Instructor at Lakeview High School, spoke about remembrance and good citizenship. Becky Ham and Rev. Frank Fuller, pastor of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Winnfield, read the names of veterans who died during the year, a solemn tradition since the Natchitoches Veterans’ Memorial Park opened. Donna Mason and Dee Fowler updated the audience on the progress made on pavers and projects at the park. Maynard introduced the oldest veteran present, 93 year old Bob Harling Sr., who served as a B-25 co-pilot in WWII. He is also the father of Robert Harling Jr., author of Steel Magnolias. The ceremony concluded with a closing prayer given by Rev. Fuller.

Demons add to national meet travel party as 4 x 100 squad qualifies

5-28-16 4x100 Eugene bound

Northwestern State’s 4 x 100 meter relay squad of (l-r) Amir James, Micah Larkins, George Flaviano and Ty Shilling became the 11th Demons unit since 1980 to qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Championships, running a 39.85 time Saturday at the NCAA East Preliminary Round


It took George Flaviano 24 hours to get redemption he sought from a Friday disappointment. Ty Shilling only had to wait a couple of minutes.

The last two runners on the Northwestern State 4 x 100 relay team were beaming Saturday evening after a 39.85 time, fifth in the fastest of three qualifying heats, was just enough to earn the Demons a trip to Eugene, Ore., for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Their relay teammates, Amir James and Micah Larkins, were already headed west after each qualified Friday in the 100 meter dash at the NCAA East Preliminary Round Championships, where the top 12 finishers in each event advance to the national meet June 8-11.

“Before we knew we had made it, I gave praise to God that we finished the race healthy, and then once the time came up on the board, I praised God again for allowing us to run fast enough,” Flaviano said.

Axsom family lost everything – Loss is complete

Axsom Family House Fire Fund – Click Here to donate

Hello, our names are Josh, Steve, John, Kalo, Benjamin, and Silas Axsom. Our parents, Matthew and Sarah Axsom, and our younger siblings Travis and Anna Laura lost everything in a house fire yesterday, Sunday the 29th of May.

They did not have any insurance and the loss is complete. Only the slab is left. To make matters worse, our parents had cashed out and had their entire retirement present in the house, so the loss is truly catastrophic. The cause of the fire is still unknown, but believed to be electrical.

Our parents would never ask for anything, but for those of you who have asked how you can help, we are creating this fund that will hopefully help them start over.

This was our childhood home, everything our parents had. Just the fact that so many of you have asked how you can help has been so encouraging. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers for our parents and siblings at this time.

The Axsom Brothers



Cleco donates fans to help seniors stay cool and save money this summer

In preparation of summer, Cleco donated almost 700 fans to the Natchitoches Council on Aging, the Campti Seniors Group and 20 other agencies across the state to help seniors stay cool and manage their electric bills.

Shirley Turner, Cleco’s vice president of customer experience, said fans can make a big difference during hot, summer months and significantly cut energy bills.
“We recommend setting the thermostat at 78 degrees to keep electric bills manageable along with using a fan which makes the air feel 10 degrees cooler,” said Turner. “Doing these things will keep the temperature comfortable while saving money.”
According to Turner, air conditioners are typically the largest energy users in a home.

“Customers on a fixed income can benefit the most from adjusting their thermostats,” Turner said. “Using less energy can help them lower their electric bill, leaving them with money for other essentials.”

Other energy saving tips include keeping curtains and blinds closed during the day and using heat generating appliances, such as clothes dryers or the oven, in the evening when temperatures are cooler and air conditioners are not working as hard.

Cleco has donated fans to agencies serving the elderly for the past 15 years.

“Through the support of Cleco employees, customers and communities we more than doubled our fundraising goal,” said Jennifer Cahill, associate communications representative. “This support allows us to donate more fans to more agencies.”

Senior citizens living in the Cleco service territory should contact a participating agency to request a fan.

Volunteers needed for Folk Fest


The Natchitoches-Northwestern State University Folk Festival is seeking volunteers to help with this year’s event, which will take place July 15-16 in air-conditioned Prather Coliseum on the NSU campus.

Volunteers are needed to work from 3-11 p.m. Friday and from 6:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday. Anyone interested in volunteering can email the Louisiana Folklife Center at or call (318) 357-4332.

Perks of volunteering at the Folk Festival include free admission to all events on the day you work, a free commemorative t-shirt in return for five or more hours of volunteer time and the added benefits of meeting and working with the artists, musicians and other volunteers participating in the Festival, according to Dr. Shane Rasmussen, director of the Louisiana Folklife Center. Volunteers do not have to be NSU employees, students, residents of Natchitoches or residents of Louisiana. Volunteers will receive no financial remuneration for the hours they work.

“We couldn’t do this without the valuable and deeply appreciated help of our volunteer corps,” Rasmussen said. “Thank you so much for being willing to help keep the Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival alive and kicking.”

CRNHA receives Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor



Cane River National Heritage Area, Inc. (CRNHA)received a 2016 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence. The achievement celebrates hospitality businesses that earn great traveler reviews on TripAdvisor over the past year. Recipients include accommodations, eateries and attractions located across the world that continually deliver a quality customer experience.

“We are thrilled to receive this recognition and honored to share this distinction with our heritage partners and attractions,” said Cynthia Sutton, CEO of CRNHA. “We’d also like to take this opportunity to thank residents of Natchitoches Parish as travelers consistently remark on the friendliness and hospitality of our local citizens.”


Teams battle for first place at Dragon Boat Races

By Natalie Covher


Kevin’s Gallery

The crowd was fired up to see the Dragon Boat Races, hosted by the Natchitoches Alumni Association, on  May 28, 2016.  Ten teams of 20 paddlers and a drummer raced each other two at a time across a short stretch of Cane River in front of the downtown riverbank.   Among the teams were Swamp Medics and BJACH from Fort Polk, NSU Freshman Connectors, Demon Cheer, Team Late Notice and Purple Paddlers from NSU, A City of Natchitoches team Natchitoches Nightmare, the B.O.M. Squad, Natchitoches Reginal Medical Center and Cane River VIP’s.

At the opening ceremonies,  the crowd fell silent for a great rendition of the National Anthem by Grace Brumfield,  the lead singer of Kopacetic.  It was a special moment shared with the soldiers participating in the races from Fort Polk on Memorial Day Weekend. Team Captains came forward to “awaken the dragons” by painting eyes on the decorative dragon head pieces before they were secured to the boats.  “Today is all about having fun,” said Mayor Lee Posey member of team Natchitoches Nightmare.

The Cane River Green Market, food vendors,  a bouncer and live music provided much to see and do.  Tony Davis of the Chamber of Commerce took full credit for the beautiful weather and thanked each team and sponsors for participating.  Teams took turns racing against each other and their times were recorded.  After the last race, the individual team’s average race time determined the winners.

“Natchitoches is the best venue for Dragon Boat Races in the state of Louisiana,” said Paramount race director Matt Robert of the Canadian company 22 Dragons.  “The waterway is perfect.  Bbeing downtown is perfect and the enthusiasm of the teams is off the charts.  Louisiana is by far the best state for Dragon boat races because of the sense of community and no one tailgates like Louisianans.  I believe this festival could double or quadruple in size by next year.”


Best Dressed: The BOM Squad

Most Spirited Drummer:  Reatha Cox

4th place:  Swamp Medics 1 minute 3 seconds and 43 tenths of a second

3rd  place:  BJach 1 minute 3 seconds and 33 tenths of a second

2nd place:  NSU Freshmen Connectors 1 minute 2 seconds and 75 tenths of a second

1st place:  Natchitoches Nightmare 1 minute 2 seconds and 16 tenths of a second


Over One Hundred Soldiers and Their Families Introduced to Natchitoches Courtesy of Bolton Realty

By Kevin Shannahan

JaniceKevin BoltonwithSwapMedics

Natchitoches’ first Dragon Boat Race held on May 28, 2016 was a resounding success, filling the downtown riverbank with racing crews and their families. In addition to the local area crews, two teams came up from Ft Polk, Bayne-Jones Community Hospital and the 115th Combat Support Hospital. The “Swamp Medics” of the 115th were sponsored for the day by Bolton Realty, giving the soldiers and their families a taste of Natchitoches hospitality and a day of family fun. Bolton Realty’s sponsorship paid not just for the race entry fees, but also for treating them to lunch and providing an air conditioned place to get out of the heat and for parents to change diapers. There was no cost to the soldiers for anything.

The 115th Combat Support Hospital had just returned from a deployment to Iraq in January and the Dragon Boat Races provided an ideal opportunity for the soldiers and their families to have fun and bond togther.

Mrs. Janice Bolton, this year’s chairman of the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, stated that her sponsorship had three goals: first of all, to thank the troops and their families for their service and sacrifice; to support the NSU Foundation and Alumni Association, and “put my money where my mouth is as Chamber President” in facilitating more events introducing Fort Polk families to Natchitoches. This year’s Dragon Boat races succeeded on all three points.

The Consul General of France in Louisiana Visits Ft. Jean St. Baptiste

By Kevin Shannahan

Kevin’s Gallery

Natchitoches’ Fort St. Jean Baptiste was transformed from its colonial time-frame to that of the Civil War as Confederate forces laid siege to the Union held fort in two battles on Saturday, May 28, 2016. About twenty Civil War re-enactors spent the day portraying the life of a Civil War soldier for park visitors. At 2:00, skirmishes between the two sides broke out as the Confederates raided the fort. At 7:30, the fort was once again besieged with the Confederate forces succeeding in breaching the fort’s gate with a captured Union cannon.

The 7:30 battle featured a special guest. M. Gregor Trumel, Consul General of France in Louisiana, and his family came up from New Orleans to visit the fort. This marks his second visit to Natchitoches. He was here last October to present the Legion D’Honneur to Mrs. Juanita McNeal, widow of WW II veteran J. D. McNeal. While in Natchitoches, he was given a tour of the City and Fort St. Jean Baptiste where Interpretive Ranger Jeremy McCormic taught him how to throw a tomahawk. This time around, he learned how to fire a Civil War era cannon and earned his black powder certification.

Natchitoches Police investigate Thomas Street shooting

CON Shooting

The Natchitoches Police Department is investigating a shooting that took place Saturday night on Thomas Street.  On May 28, 2016 around 11:09 p.m., Officers with the Natchitoches Police Department responded to Thomas Street near the intersection of Howell Street in reference to someone shooting in the area.  Upon Officers arrival they located Justin Walker (B/M, 18 y.o.a. of Natchitoches) suffering from several gunshot wounds.

Justin Walker was air lifted to University Health in Shreveport with life threatening injuries.

Update: On May 29, 2016 Justin Walker died as a result of his injuries.

If you would like to report suspicious activity or an emergency please contact the Natchitoches Police Department at (318) 352-8101 or if you have additional information in regards to this investigation please contact Detective Jeff Townson at (318) 357-9852. Remember all information given shall remain confidential.

Detective John Greely
Natchitoches Police Department

The Natchitoches Genealogical and Historical Association will hold an open house


The Natchitoches Genealogical and Historical Association will hold an
Open House from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 4, in which the public will
be greeted and shown what the NGHA has to offer.  Light refreshments will
be served.

During the Open House Mayor Lee Posey will issue a proclamation
declaring June 4, 2016, as Genealogical Day in the city of Natchitoches.
The association is located in the Old Courthouse Building at 600 Second
Street, corner of Church Street.  It recently moved its library from the
second to the first floor of the building, making it more accessible to
visitors and genealogy researchers.

The library offers hundreds of records and books on genealogy, as well
as computer access to even more records.  The library’s regular hours for
visitors are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 3
p.m. on the second and fourth Saturdays.

The Natchitoches Genealogical and Historical Society was organized in
1973 and held its first meeting in the Student Union Building on the NSU
campus.  Lucile M. Hendrick was the first president.  At that time the
objectives of the society were stated as collecting, preserving and making
available genealogical and historical materials for use to the public, to
promote interest in research in those fields and to assist people in
tracing their genealogies.

Those objectives remain the same today.  However, the organization
later changed its name to the Natchitoches Genealogical and Historical

NGHA moved into the second floor of the Old Courthouse Building in May,
1988, where it had remained until its recent move downstairs to the first

Elvin Shields is the current, and 27th president of the NGHA, now in
its 43rd year.  NGHA is a non-profit 501 C (3) organization.

Belly dance class to begin June 9

Northwestern State University’s Office of Electronic and Continuing Education will offer a Tribal Fusion Belly Dance class starting Thursday, June 9.

The non-credit class will be held on June 9, 16, 23 and 30 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Wellness Recreation and Activity Center. The fee is $45.

Tribal Fusion Belly Dance is a combination of several dance styles and will incorporate different styles of music. Basic steps, basic combinations, improvisation and technique will be covered in the four weeks. Students will be able to dance to any type of music using visual and verbal cues. No dance experience is necessary. Those taking the class should dress in comfortable clothes (tank top, yoga type pants). No shoes are necessary.

For more information, e-mail, go to or call (800) 376-2422 or(318) 357-6355.

Reception held for Bernard, Cockrell and Dowden


The mood was light and festive on the first floor of the courthouse on the afternoon of May 26 as the departments gathered to wish a fond farewell to three long-time public servants from the Clerk of Court office. Chief Deputy Clerk Linda Cockrell, who’s been with the Clerk’s office for over 40 years, and Deputly Clerk Machelle Walker Dowden, who has served for over 35 years, will be retiring at the end of June when current Clerk of Court, Louie Bernard, completes his final term in office. The reception was hosted by the Clerk of Court staff and Sheriff Victor Jones emceed.

NRMC Flag Pole Dedication Ceremony


Despite the rain, the NRMC was able to hold their flag pole dedication ceremony this morning honoring the men and women of Natchitoches Parish who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

Special thanks to the Lakeview High School Air Force JROTC Color Guard for their participation. The team consists of Javonte Mims, Ladarrion Winslow, Lucas Ferrier and Taylor Ferrier.  Buzz Scott  offered the invocation, Roger Williams lead the Pledge of Allegiance, Dr. Bryan Picou sang the National Anthem and Parish President Rick Nowlin addressed to the crowd.

2016 NSU Freshman Connection

By Kevin Shannahan


 Kevin’s Gallery

Over four hundred new Northwestern State University students from all over Louisiana and several other states received their first taste of college life at NSU’s Freshman Connection Thursday and Friday. This session is one of four to be held on the Natchitoches campus along with one in Leesville and one in Shreveport. The freshmen got their schedules, dorm rooms and met with financial aid counselors in addition to campus tours and an introduction to student life groups. It was not all work however. After a full day of activities Thursday, the 30 NSU students who serve as Freshman Connectors met at the Iberville Commons with their groups for some fun and games. They had been divided into teams led by Freshman Connectors since their arrival that morning and it was time to see who the best competitors were. The color themed teams battled in a tug of war and relay races. The games concluded as five thousand ping-pong balls were dropped on the crowd by an airplane. The teams then raced to collect the most amount of ping-pong balls. It was a fun and informative introduction to their future college life and success at Northwestern State University.

Ponderings with Doug – May 27, 2016



Doug De Graffenried – First United Methodist Church, Natchitoches, Louisiana

How do you know what you believe?

The scientific answer is that you have a confirmation bias. You have decided what you believe and you don’t accept any information that contradicts that which you believe. In church life our confirmation bias causes us to point to the Bible. All of our Christian beliefs come from the Bible. Right?

Here are some things we believe and practice that are not in the Bible.

The Bible never says, “God helps those who help themselves.”

Scripture never says, “God will not give us more than we can handle.” Nor does scripture teach, “Everything happens for a reason.” One preacher said, “A sinner can repent but stupid is eternal.” I was thinking about all those things that happened after the phrase, “Hey Bubba watch this!”

Advent and Lent are not found in the Bible. There is no evidence that Jesus was born in the winter. Actually the church “stole” Christmas from the Romans, I’ll let you Google that. Wise men and shepherds don’t show up at the same time. There could have been dozens of wise men, do you know why we only picture three?

Why do we worship on Sunday rather than Saturday?

There is no overwhelming evidence that Jesus was poor. There is also no evidence he was a carpenter that comes from the inaccurate translation of the Greek word “tekton.”

There is no prohibition against saying four letter words. Although preachers are cursed at times that we can’t curse at times. I like to have laypeople play golf with me, that way I can call on them for “ventilation language.”

Most of what you believe about heaven, hell, the devil and angels comes not from scripture but from Milton’s Paradise Lost. Have you found the passage that says the devil has horns?

When you die, you don’t become an angel. There is also no evidence that angels have wings. You can’t find halos in the Bible.

“Cleanliness is next to Godliness,” is not in the Bible.

The first ministers of the church were not ordained, they were laypersons.

God call us to be “our brother’s keeper.” Read the passage in Genesis, it was asked as a question by a human not stated by God.

The apple in the Garden of Eden is not there. The bible mentions fruit. It became an apple because of some confusion with the Latin words for “evil” and “apple” which look and sound similar.

Jesus uttering the word, “grace.”

Discipleship has been mishandled in translation and usage. The Greek word is slanted more toward “student.” Think about that, Jesus calls us to be life-long students. Notice how some groups have militarized the concept by focusing more on discipline than learning.

There is no prohibition against gambling. The Hebrews would determine the will of God by “casting lots,” which is basically shooting dice.

I hope are you reaching for your Bible.

Do you know why we celebrate Memorial Day? You might be surprised by that too.

Keep thinking, studying and growing in your beliefs!