Louisiana Realtors Association names Janice Bolton 2018 Realtor of the Year

Janice M Bolton was named 2018 Realtor of the Year for Louisiana Realtors Association at the Spring into Action Conference in Baton Rouge on April 23. Bolton was chosen out of nearly 15,000 members for the statewide award which is based on community service and service to the Realtor industry. The surprise announcement was made during the Spring conference, which also included education sessions, presentations by candidates for Governor, visit to the State Capitol for Realtor Day, board meeting and a crawfish boil for the Legislature.

The Louisiana Realtors Association is celebrating its 100th year and is the largest trade association in the state. Bolton is serving as 2019 Member Services and Marketing Director, a position on the Executive Committee, and has been a member of the LR Board of Directors since 2011. Previous positions include LR Regional Vice President and on the forms, bill review, strategic planning and other committees. She also served at the local level as Natchitoches Board of Realtors President, Task Force to merge Natchitoches and Central LA Boards, and 2018 Governance Committee Chair.

In Natchitoches, Bolton has served as Chair of several organizations including Natchitoches Chamber of Commerce, Keep Natchitoches Beautiful, and Cane River Children’s Services and LA School for Math, Science and the Arts Parents Organization. She currently serves on the Ben D Johnson Foundation Board and NSU Business Department Advisory Council and is a member of APHN, NSU-Natchitoches Symphony, and PEO, as well as a life-long member of First Baptist Church.

Bolton is shown with Norman Morris, CEO of LA Realtors Assn, and 2019 LA Realtors Assn President Logan Morris

Four new NPD officers sworn in

Clerk of Court David Stamey swore in four new Natchitoches Police Department Officers on April 30. They are: Officer Brittney Byrd, Officer Clayton Lewis, Officer Thurman Miller Jr. and Officer Morgan Jester.

ADVANCE Film studies group

Five students from Northwestern State University’s 2018 ADVANCE Program for Young Scholars’ film studies class attended Film Prize Jr in Shreveport on April 27 to promote their film, “Louie’s Classic Movies.” From left are Emma Gruesbeck of Natchitoches, Camille Head of Alexandria, Marley Knittle of Corinth, Texas; Erika Pendleton of Shreveport, Jonathan Okereke of Shreveport and Gregory Kallenberg, Film Prize founder, who interviewed the group. Film studies is one of 16 courses that will be offered at the upcoming ADVANCE Program July 7-27.

For more information call (318) 357-4500 or email NSUAdvance@nsula.edu.

NSU to take donations for Louisiana Tech tornado relief at Tuesday’s game

The Northwestern State Athletics Department will collect donations for the Ruston tornado recovery at Tuesday night’s baseball game between the Demons and Louisiana Tech.

Louisiana Tech’s campus and the city of Ruston sustained devastating damage from a tornado that hit in the early morning hours of April 25, resulting in five casualties and widespread damage to the city and several of Louisiana Tech’s athletic facilities.

All donations throughout Tuesday’s game, which begins at 6 p.m., will go toward disaster relief at Louisiana Tech.

Additionally, the Demons will fly the Louisiana Tech flag alongside the American and Louisiana flags behind the outfield wall in a show of solidarity as the Louisiana Tech community rebuilds and recovers from the storm’s damage.

Northwestern State Student-Athlete Advisory Committee members will accept cash donations at the gate leading into the stadium throughout Tuesday night’s game. All proceeds from concessions sales at the game also will be donated to the relief effort as well.

For those who are unable to make it to Brown-Stroud Field on Tuesday night or who may not have cash on hand to donate, Louisiana Tech has set up a donation portal on its website, which can be accessed at ltu.al/disasterrelief.

Fork Cancer Home Run Derby highlights Northwestern State’s doubleheader against Prairie View A&M

Northwestern State is tied for the Southland Conference lead in home runs, but it’ll be fans’ and students’ swinging for the fences Tuesday at Lady Demon Diamond following the doubleheader against Prairie View A&M.

NSU (24-24) is hosting its Fork Cancer Homerun Derby with a portion of the proceeds going to the American Cancer Society.

Adults get five swings for $10 and kids 12-and-under get five swings for $5. Fans can register online at nsudemons.com or beginning at 3:30 p.m. at the stadium and will stop in the fifth inning of the final game. Payment can be cash or credit card.

“It’s pretty cool knowing that baseball has a home run derby at the (Southland Conference Tournament), so it’s cool that we get to have our own one here,” St. Clair said. “It’ll be our community participating, and I think it’ll be fun to watch.”

Sophomore Cayla Jones (seven home runs) and freshman Alexis Perry (six home runs) lead the way for a Lady Demons’ squad that’s belted 31 homers this season.

Perry is part of a freshman power surge that includes Riley Cantrell (four homers), Maggie Black (four homers) and Marissa Reed (one home run). Freshman have accounted for 15 of the 31 dingers.

Tuesday’s opponent Prairie View A&M is also no stranger to the long ball as Laurisa Hernandez has hit nine this season on a team that has 25 home runs.

The Lady Panthers (27-12) lead the Southwestern Athletic Conference with a 14-2 regular season mark one season after winning the league tournament title and making an NCAA Tournament appearance.

“We’re excited to be back home and participate in a cool event like the Fork Cancer Home Run Derby,” said NSU coach Donald Pickett. “We hope people turn out for that and also come watch us take on a really good Prairie View team.

“They have some good wins against quality opponents, and they have proven to be a quality team.”

NSU split with Prairie View this past season in Texas, winning 8-1 and dropping a 4-2 decision. The Lady Demons lead the all-time series 11-1 and are 4-0 against SWAC members this season with a pair of wins against Grambling and Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

The Lady Panthers have gone 3-5 against Southland Conference squads, taking three of four from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi with losses to Southeastern, Abilene Christian, Houston Baptist and Stephen F. Austin. Prairie View can also count UTSA and Wichita State in their non-conference wins.

NSU will attempt to bounce back from a series sweep this past weekend at SFA, but Pickett said Saturday’s performance in a 3-2, eight-inning loss was encouraging.

“We’ll learn from this past weekend,” Pickett said. “We made some mistakes in Friday’s (two losses), and we didn’t respond well.

“But we responded much better Saturday. We’re not as consistent on offense as we have been, and that puts a lot of pressure on our pitching and defense.”

The Lady Demons will wrap up the regular season this weekend with a three-game series against Central Arkansas.

Both teams have clinched spots in the SLC Tournament, which will be held in Natchitoches from May 7-10, but seeding will still be on the line.

An NSU series win guarantees itself of at least a No. 7 seed with a shot at a No. 6 seed and an outshot as a five seed.

PHOTO CREDIT: Beverly Vincent/NSU Athletics

Public forums set for NSU provost applicants

The public is invited to participate in open forums planned for three finalists who applied for Northwestern State University’s Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs position. Open forums will take place Wednesday, May 1 in the Cane River Room in the NSU Student Union. Students, family, staff and the public are invited to meet the three finalists, ask questions and provide feedback to the selection committee.

Finalists and forum times are as follows.

8 a.m. – Dr. Tom Nevill, Dean, Arts and Digital Media, Austin Community College, Austin, Texas

9:30 a.m. – Dr. Greg Handel, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, Northwestern State University

11 a.m. – Dr. Margaret Kilcoyne, Dean, College of Business and Technology, Northwestern State University

Pace Lab dedication May 6

Northwestern State University’s School of Biological and Physical Sciences will host a classroom dedication for the Dr. Jack Pace Human Anatomy and Physiology Lab. The dedication will be at 3:30 p.m. Monday, May 6 in Bienvenu Hall Room 217.

Pace was a member of the Northwestern State faculty for 41 years where he taught animal science and preparatory classes for the nursing curriculum, served as head of the Department of Agriculture and Biological Sciences and was advisor to the Rodeo Team and NSU Vet Tech committee. Through many years of teaching at NSU, he touched the lives and inspired hundreds of his students. He passed away Aug. 3, 2018.

Last year, friends and colleagues established the Jack Pace Memorial Endowed Scholarship for students majoring in biology.

The public is invited to attend the dedication.

Brothers’ Keepers: Browns’ bond strengthened by loss of mother

Hilton Brown

Hayden and Hilton Brown were separated by nearly 400 miles when they learned the news no young person wants to hear.

With Hilton in the fall of his senior year at San Antonio’s Reagan High School and Hayden playing baseball at Murray State College in Tishomingo, Oklahoma, their mother, Dina, was diagnosed with colon cancer.

Approximately two months after Hayden and Hilton Brown reported for their first baseball season at Northwestern State, Dina Brown passed away Oct. 13, 2018, after her battle with colon cancer at age 48, two weeks shy of her 49th birthday.

When the Demons take on Louisiana Tech (28-16) at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Northwestern State’s annual “Fork Cancer” game, Hayden and Hilton Brown will be together, playing on the same side in honor of their mother. Half of the proceeds from each ticket sold will be donated to the American Cancer Society’s Natchitoches chapter.

“You never really expect anything like this to happen,” said Hayden, a junior infielder. “It really came out of nowhere. She was healthy. It can really happen to anyone. It’s God’s plan, but you never know. It’s nice to bring awareness so people understand it can happen at any moment to anyone.”

Although the brothers were nearly 400 miles apart upon hearing of their mother’s diagnosis, they arguably have been as close as ever since August. Part of that is the circumstance of playing on the same college baseball team. An equal part was their mother’s battle.

Having each other to lean on made things easier for both Browns.

“We’ve relied on each other for a lot,” said Hilton, a freshman infielder who has started the past 19 games at second base. “I know it’s tough, and one of us may have a bad day, but it’s nice to have someone there for you and vice versa. We know what we’re going through. We know how important it is to be there for each other and continue to talk and not keep it all in, which is important. I’m not afraid to tell him how I feel.”

Hayden and Hilton are two of Paul and Dina Brown’s five children. Hayden is the oldest of four boys while sister Hannah is the oldest child.

Hayden’s presence has helped Hilton adjust to college life on and off the field while dealing with a situation for which there is no instruction manual.

In Hilton’s first start for the Demons (25-18), he made an error that led to a two-run first inning at Louisiana Tech on March 5. Hayden had some words of advice for his brother in the dugout – a bit of wisdom that played a key role in the Demons’ 8-4 victory.

“I just told him to relax and go out and have fun and compete,” Hayden said. “He’s been playing the game a long time. He was nervous. It was his first start. I told him to relax and do what he’s been doing his whole life.”

So what did Hilton do? He delivered three RBIs, including the go-ahead, two-run double in the Demons’ five-run ninth inning.

Coincidentally, the game in Ruston should have been the Browns’ second game at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park. The first was when Northwestern State traveled to Ruston to face Louisiana Tech in a fall exhibition game Oct. 26 – one day before what would have been Dina’s 49th birthday.

The double was the first of several big hits Hilton has delivered in his freshman season.

Included in those were his first two career home runs during the Southland Conference series against McNeese on April 19-20. As Brown neared home plate after his second home run, he looked skyward and pointed his right index finger toward the clouds.

“It was definitely a special moment for me, knowing she was up there smiling down on me,” he said. “She was cheering me on. It’s tough, because she never got to witness a (college) game, but I know she’s been with me for every single one.”

Both Browns said their mother’s battle with cancer drew them closer. Both also agreed on the importance of what happened in late October when the Demons coaching staff showed up at Dina’s funeral in San Antonio.

“It was a special moment to see them walk in,” Hayden said. “We knew they were there for us. It really brought peace to my mom and dad. Whenever we came on our visits, they were very family focused.”

Making the trip to San Antonio was never in question for the Demons staff, which was in the middle of fall practice.

Similar to what Hayden and Hilton faced a year earlier, the NSU staff learned from Dina’s battle and the Brown family’s situation.

“Going there for the service, it was tough,” third-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “I’m sure they’ll tell you the same. I’ve been fortunate. I haven’t lost a parent. I haven’t lost a grandparent, which is unusual for someone in their 30s.

“I didn’t have any advice for them. You just love on them and be there for them. I got to see their dad and their two brothers at Stephen F. Austin (this past weekend). Their little brother was out shagging balls in the outfield with us. We’re so grateful to have the Brown family as part of ours and the affect they’ve had on us.”

The Browns were a religious family before Dina’s diagnosis, but Hayden and Hilton both said learning of their mother’s cancer strengthened that aspect of their life as well.

Initially, there were questions not unlike others have at the time of a life-altering revelation.

“At the beginning, it was hard not to (question),” Hilton said. “After a few talks with our parents, they said, ‘We don’t blame you for questioning Him because, what we’re going through, not a lot of kids your age have to go through.’ The type of cancer my mom had is very rare in women. They said we understand what you’re going through and the thoughts you’re having, but God has a plan. You have to go with it and trust it. He’s not going to do anything to hurt you. It was a lesson and brought our family closer. It definitely strengthened our faith.”

It does not take much to see how close Hilton and Hayden are.

When Hayden began to explain the significance of the No. 9 to the Brown family, he was overcome by emotion before Hilton stepped in.

“It’s a big number in our family,” he said. “We’ve all worn No. 9 in all our sports. Our mom wrote something for us before passing. We have it framed in our house. It talks about the importance of nine, and how it’s the number of perfection (biblically).”

And as brothers do, when Hilton tried to recall what his mother told his family upon learning of her cancer diagnosis, Hayden took his turn to relay his mother’s message.

“She said it will be a long process, but this process will bring people closer together,” he said. “It definitely did.”

Photo Credit: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services

Hayden Brown

For a limited time, Louisiana citizens can get their digital driver’s license for free

As part of an initiative to provide Louisiana citizens with better personal safety and security practices, the State has worked with Envoc, creators of LA Wallet, to offer digital licenses for free until the end of May 2019.

As indicated by Representative Ted James at a press conference on April 24, recent reports have indicated that personal safety has become a greater concern regarding rideshares, home delivery, and other online person-to-person activities. This free digital driver’s license initiative by the State and LA Wallet is an effort to provide Louisiana citizens with better tools to validate another citizen’s identity.

“Last year, Louisiana made headlines by introducing the nation’s first digital driver’s license,” Governor John Bel Edwards posted on social media. “And for the next 30 days, you can download your very own digital driver’s license free of charge!”

LA Wallet digital identities are retrieved in real-time from the State’s databases, and with VerifyYou™, LA Wallet users can scan another LA Wallet user’s license or scan the AAMVA code on the back of a physical license. Within seconds, LA Wallet’s VerifyYou™ system validates another citizen’s name, age, and reports whether the license is valid and up-to-date.

LA Wallet digital driver’s licenses are valid for the life of the user’s physical license current issuance, which can be up to 6 years. Once a user’s physical license expires, he or she must renew his or her physical license and purchase a new digital license. If you have any questions or concerns about using LA Wallet, email your questions to help@lawallet.com.

New green space, walking trail will pay homage to nature and historic Jefferson Highway

Work in underway on a new green space with a walking trail on Jefferson Street. After the City received a donation of the land and the University Cleaners building, it also purchased the two lots with houses next-door. The cleaners was torn down in October, 2017 and the two houses were next.

The new green space and walking trail is a joint beautification project between the Natchitoches Historic District Development Commission, the City of Natchitoches, and the Cane River National Heritage Area.

Phase 1 includes a parking lot and walking trail, which is scheduled for completion within the next two weeks. Phase 2 will include benches, a smaller version of the pavilion at city park, which will be built inside the loop of the walking track. Additional enhancements are planned for a later date.

The City grew about 15 Cypress trees from seedlings that now stand four-feet tall. They were planted on the high bank across the back of the property. This project features a more natural aesthetic and has very different landscaping from previous projects.

There is also a wetlands area behind the property that connects to Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Site. It is full of local flora and fauna, which the project partners plan to keep protected.

Another aspect of this green area is to add a plaque portraying the historical significance of the road it’s on.

A plaque will be installed in the park upon its completion to bring awareness to the area’s history.

“Historically the Natchitoches portion of the Jefferson Highway was one of the most well traveled and maintained portions,” said Rebecca Blakenbaker, CRNHA Executive Director. “It’s an honor to pay homage to that particular part of Natchitoches’ history by having this plaque placed along Jefferson Street. It’s these corridors that promoted traveling and tourism and the Jefferson Highway Association is always looking for ways to improve tourism along the trail. Visitors and residents always enjoy learning tidbits of information about Natchitoches’ history through these interpretive plaques.”

Jefferson Street is part of the historic Jefferson Highway, which was first formed in New Orleans in 1915 and once traversed from Winnipeg, Manitoba to New Orleans as part of the “Good Roads Movement” of this time period. Communities along the route worked together to improve roads, bridges and promote the route which was once a principal travel route through Louisiana.

The Jefferson Highway along with other historic highways later lost most of their identity when these “named roads” were nationally changed to numerical designations. Much of the old Jefferson Highway roadbed though remains up and down the historic route today and enthusiasts are now working to make it a viable north-south historic byway across the country for modern day tourists.

In 2011, the Jefferson Highway Association was reformed as a historical, heritage organization to preserve the history of the historic route and promote tourism and travel on the historic roadbed which goes through seven states (Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana) and one Province (Manitoba) in Canada. This will be the 8th annual conference for this group and the first to be held in Louisiana.

Jones, Smith sweep weekly Southland honors

A pair of stellar individual performances gave the Northwestern State baseball team its first individual honors of the season.

Senior right-handed pitcher Nathan Jones and junior outfielder Tyler Smith earned Southland Conference Pitcher and Hitter of the Week honors, respectively, Monday afternoon. The pair were voted as such by the league’s 13 sports information directors.

Later in the afternoon, Jones was named Pitcher of the Week by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association while Smith shared the organization’s Hitter of the Week award with Grambling’s Jahmoi Percival.

Jones, a product of Shreveport’s Loyola College Prep, tossed his second straight sub-100-pitch, complete-game shutout, blanking Stephen F. Austin, 7-0, on 99 pitches Saturday afternoon.

In his past two starts, Jones has spun back-to-back, complete-game shutouts, throwing a combined 195 pitches and allowing just seven hits and two walks while striking out 13.

Jones allowed only one runner to reach scoring position Saturday and did not allow more than one baserunner in any inning.

Jones’ six strikeouts Saturday gave him 203 for his career, making him the fifth Demon to reach the 200-strikeout plateau. He also moved into sixth on the school’s career list in innings pitched (290) and is in a fifth-place tie for career games started (40).

Smith batted .471 for the week with a double, three home runs and nine RBIs, joining Jones as first-time conference award winners.

Smith tied the Northwestern State single-game record with his three home runs in a 10-7 win over then-No. 6/8 Arkansas on April 24. Smith set a career high with seven RBIs against the Razorbacks, becoming the first Demon to drive in seven runs in a single game since Justin O’Neal did so at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on May 9, 2009.

Smith’s three home runs tied Mike Jaworski’s school single-game record, which he accomplished April 12, 2008, at Texas-San Antonio.

Smith hit safely in all five games for the Demons this past week, extending his season-long hitting streak to six games. He drove in runs in each of the Demons’ final two games of the week against Stephen F. Austin.

Jones becomes the first Demon pitcher honored as the SLC’s Pitcher of the Week since Adam Oller took home the award on April 6, 2015. Smith’s honor makes him the first Demon hitter so honored since David Fry on April 30, 2018.

It was the first career LSWA honor for both players. The LSWA awards are voted on by a panel of statewide media members.

The Demons return to action Tuesday at 6 p.m. when they host Louisiana Tech in the opener of a season-long, seven-game homestand.

NSU Chamber Choir, Chamber Orchestra to premiere new work on Thursday

The Northwestern State University Chamber Choir and Chamber Orchestra will present the world premiere of composer Richard Burchard’s “Falling Stars” on Thursday, May 2 at 7:30 p.m. in Magale Recital Hall. Admission is free and open to the public. Director of Choral Activities Nicholaus B. Cummins will be the conductor.

“Falling Stars” was commissioned by Cummins. The work was made possible by the Dan and Lenn Dohmann Prince Endowed Professorship for Choral Music and is dedicated to the memory of Orlando Enrique Gonzalez Trucco. Texts are by Rainer Maria Rilke. Guest artists will be Dr. Malena McLaren on clarinet, Michael Rorex on piano and Dr. Jaymee Haefner of the University of North Texas on harp. The concert will be recorded and will be available as a CD on iTunes. The work will be published by Gentry Publications.

The concert is finale of Burchard’s residency at Northwestern State. While at NSU, Burchard has lectured to Northwestern music students about a career as a composer, working as a professional musician, and how to promote yourself in the music profession. Burchard, a professor emeritus at Bellarmine University, has been published with Hal Leonard, Fred Bock, Colla Voce and Gentry.

Hailed as “one of the most exciting and prominent composers of choral music” from Fanfare Magazine and whose compositions have been praised as “elegant, singable music with a strong spiritual heft” from Choir and Organ, Burchard has established himself among the ranks of renowned choral composers. His works are frequently performed in concert and broadcast across the United States and Europe, featuring an extensive and dynamic catalogue of choral compositions.

ASCAP has recognized Burchard for making significant contributions in the area of concert music and his work has been featured at The National American Choral Directors Association regional and national conferences and National Collegiate Choral Organization National Conference. He has toured Europe numerous times with guest choirs, and his music has been performed in St. Peter’s Basilica, Santa Maria Maggiore (Rome), St. Mark’s (Venice), Casa Verdi (Milan) and the Santa Maria Del Fiore, the Duomo (Florence) and Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall.

Summer Splash event provides information on upcoming kids activities

Need something for your kids to do this Summer? If so, join the City of Natchitoches Recreation and Parks Department for their Summer Splash event, which will be held Thursday, May 9 from 5-7 pm at the MLK Recreation Center, located at 660 MLK JR Drive. This event provides parents with information about various activities throughout the Summer. For more information call the MLK Recreation Center at 318-357-3891.