The Elevator Girl

By Brad Dison

It was foggy in New York on the morning of July 28, 1945. Twenty-year-old Betty Lou Oliver made her way to the 102-story Empire State Building where she worked as an “elevator girl.” At 1,250 feet, it was the world’s tallest building. Prior to their push-button automation in the 1970s, elevators were manually controlled. Elevator operators controlled the elevators speed and direction by moving a large lever. Elevator operators were expected to consistently stop their elevator in perfect alignment with each floor. Betty Lou took the job as elevator girl at the Empire State Building while she awaited the return of her husband, a sailor who was overseas. Betty Lou had given proper notice and was to quit working at the Empire State Building within a couple of days.

At about 8:50 a.m., an Army B-25 Mitchell bomber with a crew of three, piloted by Lieutenant Colonel William F. Smith, Jr., left Bedford Army Air Field in Massachusetts en route to Newark Metropolitan Airport in New Jersey. When the pilot neared New York, he radioed the control station at LaGuardia Field for a weather report. Victor Barden, chief control operator at La Guardia reported to Smith that there was a heavy fog which was down to 900 feet, and visibility was worsening. Barden told Smith to descend to 1,000 feet once he had cleared New York City and was over New Jersey. Regulations at the time stipulated that airplanes flying over New York had to remain at an altitude of at least 1,500 feet to avoid skyscrapers. Barden radioed to Smith about the thick fog and said, “I cannot see the top of the Empire State Building now.” “Roger,” Smith responded in acknowledgement.

For reasons unknown, Smith descended to 1,000 feet while still over New York City. People on the ground looked skyward as they heard the low flying airplane, but they could only see the thick fog. People in nearby skyscrapers saw the B-25 pass by their windows. They, too, were unable to see the Empire State Building because of the thick fog.

At 9:52 a.m., the B-25 struck the 79th floor of the Empire State Building. The force of the crash rocked the building. Fuel from the B-25 erupted into a bright orange flame which destroyed everything on the 78th and 79th floors, and cleared the fog around the building. One of the B-25’s engines broke away from the airplane and flew nearly one hundred feet, tore through seven walls on the 79th floor, destroyed the suspension and safety cables on at least three elevators, and landed with an explosion on the roof of a nearby 17-story building. Other fragments from the airplane and from the building itself landed as far away as five blocks.

Betty Lou was in her elevator above the 80th floor when the airplane struck the building. She felt a momentary shudder. Suddenly, the elevator plummeted downward. Betty Lou clung to the handrail in the elevator to keep from floating. She felt as though the elevator was leaving her. She worked the controls of the elevator, but got no response. She continued to fall with the elevator. A searing flash of fire enveloped Betty Lou, and she raised her left arm to protect her face. A moment later the fire was gone. Betty Lou tried the controls again, but they still had no effect. She picked up the elevator’s telephone and tried to call the ground floor, but the telephone line was dead. Betty Lou yelled and pounded on the elevator floor and walls.

The elevator continued its decent. At the basement level of the Empire State Building’s elevator system were large oil buffers, one per elevator, which were designed to stop a descending elevator car during an emergency. After falling nearly 1,000 feet, the elevator struck the oil buffer’s piston. However, the elevator was traveling much too fast for the oil buffer to bring the car to a cushioned stop. The elevator struck with such force that it drove the oil buffer’s piston through the floor of the elevator and through the elevator car itself, from bottom to top. The concrete floor below the oil buffer “was crushed like an egg shell.” The piston was so large that, with the exception of an eight-inch space in one of the elevator’s corners, it penetrated and destroyed the elevator. Luckily, this eight-inch space was where Betty Lou was standing when the elevator crashed.

On a normal weekday in 1945, the Empire State Building had a population of about 65,000 people, which consisted of about 15,000 employees and 50,000 visitors. On this day, however, few visitors entered the building because thick fog and intermittent rain limited the views from the observation decks. Only a small number of the building’s employees were working inside the building because it was a Saturday morning. The 78th floor, one of the two floors which had been completely destroyed by fire, was vacant, as were the 81st to 85th floors. Firefighters extinguished the fire in less than fifty minutes. The damage caused by the crash and fire did not weaken the structural integrity of the building. Only a few people were on the streets because of the intermittent rain, none of which were injured by falling debris. Investigators estimated that only about 1,500 people were in the building. Had it not been a rainy Saturday morning, the crash would have certainly been more devastating. Of the estimated 1,500 people in the building, only fourteen people died and another twenty-six people were injured.

Betty Lou was among the injured. She was trapped in the eight-inch space in the corner of her elevator for hours before rescuers located her. She received burns from when her elevator passed through the searing fire on the 79th floor. The force of the elevator’s sudden impact broke her legs and severed her spine. She received bruises and cuts on her body from the oil buffer’s piston and fragments of her elevator. On December 2, 1945, after spending four months in the hospital, Betty Lou left the hospital and was able to walk, albeit with her legs and back in braces, five feet from her wheel chair to a waiting car. When Betty Lou arrived at work on that rainy, foggy, July morning, she had no idea that the events of the day would set a record. You see, Betty Lou Oliver holds the Guinness World Record for “longest fall survived in a lift (elevator).”

1. New York Daily News, July 29, 1945, p.90, P.170, p.297.
2. Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah), July 31, 1945, p.1.
3. New York Daily News, December 3, 1945, p.276.
4. Guinness World Records. “Longest fall survived in a lift (elevator).” Accessed January 14, 2021.


Father Derek Ducote gave a homily on the Fruits of the Holy Spirit at the weekly All School Mass at St. Mary’s Catholic School. He challenged the students to think about which one they felt was their strongest and which one was their weakest. Students in Gracie Hubley’s fourth grade class chose the Fruit of the Holy Spirit that they saw as the strongest for each of their classmates. These word clouds show the Fruits of the Holy Spirit that are strongest in each student.

Fourth grade students pictured on front row from left are Brenley Metoyer, Ady Rhodes, Sydney Culotta, Kollyns Duhon and Amelia Picou. On back row are Tate Hebert, Cade Solari, Kevin Albert, Thomas Hardee, Andrew Johnson, Cooper Gardner, Aaron Campbell and Elijah Huynh.

Lady Demons return home against SFA

For the first time in a month Northwestern State will play a game inside Prather Coliseum. After four road trips, two postponed road games – against the same team – and plenty of growing pains along the way, the Lady Demons host preseason Southland Conference favorite Stephen F. Austin on Wednesday night.

The first home conference game for first-year head coach Anna Nimz tips off at 6:30 p.m. The game can be heard locally on 92.3 FM or streaming live on


For the second time in a little over two weeks the Lady Demons (0-8, 0-3 SLC) had their game against UIW postponed due COVID-19, adding another notch to the already unprecedented 2020-21 season.

“It was disappointing,” Nimz said. “This past weekend would have been our bye weekend and I think we would have benefited from that. Just to be able to take a step away, refresh and regroup but that’s not what the cards had for us.

“It’s crazy but every program is going through crazy. I think it’s the ones that can do their best to maintain a positive outlook, be grateful for the game we do get to play and understand that there are going to be more ups and downs.”

NSU looks to build on two solid quarters in its last outing against Nicholls, where despite another tough loss, showed some of the improvement and growth that Nimz has been looking to see.

Although turnovers continued to plague the Lady Demons in their two best quarters against Nicholls, the execution on both ends of the floor was better during that time. According to Nimz that was all due to one thing – poise.

“We were able to play with poise under pressure in the first quarter,” said Nimz. “When we took a ‘thousand one’ to slow down and think, we had success. That one second of thought allows for a pass fake pass, jump stop, better vision, we are less likely to turn it over and so much more. Playing with poise continues to be an emphasis for our program.”

Poise under pressure will go a long way for the Lady Demons on Wednesday as they face one of the best defenses in country.

Stephen F. Austin (12-4, 4-0 SLC) leads the nation in steals with a whopping 202 coming into the game and forces and average of 25.9 turnovers per game, second most in the country. With 14.4 steals per game, they rank third in the NCAA.

“They are going to full court press us,” Nimz said. “The majority of games right now, a lot of people aren’t even getting past half court and if they do, they drop into a high-pressure 2-3 zone that is great.

“We’re going to scout it and practice it and like I’ve said multiple times I just want them to play to the best of their ability and play with poise.”

NSU has struggled with ball security this season, turning the ball over an average of 22.1 times per game including a season-high 31 at Nicholls.

The Ladyjacks don’t just bring a stout defense into Prather they have the offensive firepower to go along with it.

Scoring nearly 100 points per game through their first four league games with four players shooting better than 50 percent from the field, SFA has one of the most effective and efficient offenses in the region.

“It’s an opportunity,” Nimz said. “Every day you see an underdog take on the best-of-the-best. For the Southland Conference, SFA is one of the best-of-the-best. We have everything to gain and nothing to lose and we need to play that way.”

Photo credit: Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services

Hypocrisy and the Rise of the Cancel Culture

Royal Alexander/Opinion

It has become clearer recently that the Left is not nearly as concerned with hate speech as it is with speech it hates.

There is no consistency; no evenly applied standard. No matter how violent or hate-filled it may be, speech is allowed—if not celebrated—if it comports with the Left’s false narrative of Americans as racist, sexist, bigoted, provincial, and stupid. It is generally not allowed or mocked if it inspires millions of Americans toward a faith in God, love of country and love of family.

For recent examples, recall the orgy of violence, rioting, looting, murder and hate speech last year by Antifa and BLM that was merely deemed “peaceful protesting.” Recall the damage and destruction of hundreds of historic monuments and statues across the country; or the Church in D.C. that was nearly destroyed—the attack itself was not criticized, only that President Trump stood in front of the Church and held up a Bible. Was any of this other than the president ever denounced? No.

We are told that the rushed, unsupported 2nd impeachment of President Trump was warranted because he supposedly “incited” an insurrection at the Capitol with inflammatory, hate speech. However, there are numerous reports that the Capitol Police and other law enforcement had already been notified that there could be a disruption at the rally. How did the president, who had not even finished his speech, incite the riot?

Please remember that the impeachment article claims that President Trump supposedly incited the riot by spreading false statements that there was election fraud. This is obviously well past asserting that his rhetoric itself was dangerous. Here, the article of impeachment asserts that merely questioning the result of an election is, itself, an act of incitement. This represents a very broad suppression of constitutionally protected speech.

However, while we are on the topic of inciteful, inflammatory, hate speech let’s recall some instances in which no one was censored or banned from social media:

“We need another John Wilkes Booth.” Actor Johnny Depp referring to the assassination of Pres. Trump; “I fantasize about standing over Donald Trump’s dead body.” Actor Tom Arnold; Holding up a bloody, decapitated head of Pres. Trump. Comedian Kathy Griffin. Shooting a likeness of Pres. Trump who is placed in a body bag. Snoop Dog; “Let’s blow up the White House.” Madonna; “I’d like to take him behind a barn and beat him.” Joe Biden.

“I dream of punching him in the face.” Corey Booker, U.S. Senator; “harass his staff and supporters in public and refuse to serve them.” Maxine Waters, congresswoman; “lock a ten-year old (Barron Trump) in a cage with child molesters.” Actor Peter Fonda referring to the president’s son. Major national media and social media either applaud or ignore statements like these. Can you imagine the outrage if these things had been said about Pres. Obama?

Let’s consider another example.

President Trump and numerous conservative figures of all kinds have now been either temporarily or permanently censored and banned from Twitter and Facebook. Many that haven’t been banned outright have had large numbers of their social media followers deleted. Apple, Google, and others are now also purging conservative speech and speakers from their platforms as well. [I understand that companies like these are nominally private companies but while they enjoy the enormous benefit of Section 230 legal liability protection under federal law (Communications Decency Act), they shouldn’t be allowed to selectively censor]. Many other social media platforms have rushed this past week to join this purge.

So, the President of the United States is banned from Twitter but the Ayatollah Khamenei, head of the murderous Iranian regime and responsible for the deaths of innumerable Americans—who constantly demands “death to America and Israel” remains on Twitter. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), a world class violator of civil and human rights, remains on Twitter. Porn Hub, the largest host of child porn and rape videos in the world, remains on Twitter. Planned Parenthood, proudly responsible for most of the abortions in America, remains on Twitter.

Everyone is entitled to believe, support, and vote for what and whom they wish in this country but if the national Left thinks the American people don’t recognize this clear hypocrisy and the Cancel Culture that results from it, it is mistaken.

The views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Natchitoches Parish Journal.  If you have an article or story of interest for publishing consideration by the NPJ, please send it to

Is It the Truth?

Curtis R. Joseph, Jr/Opinion
January 18, 2021

During my sophomore year at Washington & Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, my mentor, Professor Robert DeMaria, sent me and a fellow Mass Communications major to Winchester, Virginia to cover a town hall meeting. Unbeknownst to us was the fact the agenda featured a highly contentious issue, one that remains the source of division throughout our country even to this very day: the removal of Confederate monuments from public spaces.

So, there we were, two young black kids, pulling into a foreign town, which was overrun by people wearing Confederate regalia, waving Confederate flags, and shouting unpleasantries. Being that I was from Louisiana, I’d encountered my fair share of Confederate flags. However, my classmate was from Brooklyn, New York, and she was terrified. I assured her that I wouldn’t let anything happen to her, and I advised her that I would take the issue up with our professor the following day.

Fortunately, we covered the meeting without incident. When I entered the professor’s office the next morning, he saw the anger in my eyes, and he headed me off at the pass. He stated that he would not apologize for sending us to the meeting. However, he admitted that he owed us an apology for not telling us about the hot-button issue on the agenda. More importantly, he used the opportunity as a teaching moment to stress the point that, as journalists, our duty was to find out what happened in the world on a certain day and to report it objectively to our readership or viewership. As members of the fourth estate, we were charged with reporting the facts and only the facts. In other words, ours was a quest for truth. Which brings me to the 4-Way Test.

Approximately three years ago, my father-in-law, invited me to a lunch meeting of the Rotary Club of Shreveport, of which I am now a proud member. At the conclusion of the meeting, the members and guests stood and recited the test, which provides as follows:

“Of the things we think, say, or do,

1. Is it the truth?
2. Is it fair to all concerned?
3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?”

Suffice it to say, I was fascinated by such a litmus test. And I was curious as to its origins. As it turns out, the test was penned by Herbert J. Taylor in the early 1930s. Taylor sought to save the Club Aluminum Products distribution company from imminent bankruptcy. He firmly believed that a change in mentality was the first step in righting the ship. After all, as I think, I am. Basically, by establishing a set of guidelines that pointed toward elevated ethics and morals, Taylor changed the overall climate of the company which, in turn, changed the company’s fortunes.

I make specific mention of the fact that the test leads off with the threshold inquiry—Is the thing true? Prior to assessing its equitableness, its benevolence, or its usefulness, Taylor weighed the veracity of the thing. Is it the truth? As I write this article, our President is in the midst of a second impeachment and our country is on the brink of violence, poised to erupt at all corners, not from without, but from within. Yet, one can channel surf the various news outlets and find altogether different versions of the truth depending upon one’s appetite. There is actually a new term for this phenomenon—“alternative facts”. I’m fairly certain my grandmother wouldn’t accept such a term. She’d just call it a lie. For his part, Dan Rather has lamented that we have entered a post-factual America.

As a nation, we’ve recently witnessed an attack, by American citizens, on the very seat of our country’s government. The day will, no doubt, go down as one of the worst in our history. Insofar as attention spans are fickle, the discussion in many circles has pivoted from the mob riot at the Capitol to the fact that various social media platforms have suspended certain individuals’ accounts in the wake of the events of January 6, 2021.

When the events of that infamous day are examined in context, it must be stated that the “Stop the Steal” gathering was organized around an untruthful premise (i.e., that the presidential election of 2020 was somehow fraudulent). Yet, there is no evidence of such. Due to the lack of evidence, courts all across the country have dismissed frivolous lawsuits or, otherwise, declined to hear them.

In fact, U.S. Senators Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, and Louisiana’s own Bill Cassidy have admitted that Joe Biden lawfully won the 2020 presidential election. When he took the floor to certify Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory, Majority Leader McConnell stated, “If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral.” In that same vein, Senator Graham, a staunch supporter of President Trump, noted, “It is over… [Biden] won. He’s the legitimate President to the United States… Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are lawfully elected and will become the President and the Vice President of the United States on January 20.” Similarly, Senator Cassidy has said, “The dozens and dozens of legal challenges from President Trump’s legal team have all been rejected, many by judges appointed by President Trump. Every one of them.” In a word, the allegations that the election was stolen are untrue.

Nevertheless, that untrue allegation has been perpetuated for months and it persists. The rhetoric surrounding it culminated in the riot at our Capital. As the rioters are being rounded up one-by-one, to a person, they now contend that they were invited to the Capitol by the President, and they were there doing what he wanted them to do. This is the defense that has been advanced by the so-called Qanon shaman, Jacob Chansley. Likewise, North Texas realtor, Jenna Ryan, has said the same. Words matter. And all speech is not protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution. In fact, the Supreme Court has held that protected speech does not extend to that which “is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action”.

As one trained to be both a journalist and a lawyer, it truly pains me to witness the lengths to which unscrupulous individuals will go in order to obfuscate basic truth. Notwithstanding the fact that many of us carry mobile devices that possess far more computing power than the mainframe computers that sent the first rockets to the moon, we struggle to unearth the objective truth. That said, it is worth noting that objective truth is to be distinguished from subjective truth. And facts are to be distinguished from opinions.

If we can get to the truth of the matter, we will be better positioned to address the remaining areas of inquiry. We can, then, channel our energies into educating our children for the jobs of the future, training and employing our workforce, providing fair and equal wages to hard-working Americans, addressing our country’s failing infrastructure, eradicating COVID-19, and otherwise providing healthcare to our citizens, among other things. And, in the end, just as Taylor’s 4-Way Test reversed his company’s fortunes by improving upon the decency, ethics and morality of the company’s employees, as citizens, we have the ability to effect the same impact upon our communities and our country as a whole.


The views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Natchitoches Parish Journal.  If you have an article or story of interest for publishing consideration by the NPJ, please send it to

RoyOMartin to Host Drive-by Hiring Event in Winnfield TOMORROW!

Upcoming hiring event

Thursday, January 21, 2021, 4 – 7 p.m. at 5960 Highway 167 North Winnfield, LA
(In the parking lot of CLTCC-Huey P. Long Campus)

Make a Great Start with RoyOMartin.

Join us for a special, COVID-compliant drive-by hiring event for production team members at RoyOMartin’s plywood and timbers plant in Chopin, Louisiana. Company representatives will be on hand to collect resumes and provide details about upcoming interviews.

Competitive Wages

Starting pay is $14.50/hr., with the potential to earn up to $22.50/hr. through on-­the-job training.

Exceptional Benefits

Enjoy terrific medical benefits, including a health clinic, as well as life insurance, retirement, wellness program, and a variety of training and advancement opportunities.

A Commitment to Safety

Employee safety and wellbeing is our #1 priority. Our award-­winning safety program begins on Day 1 with new-hire orientation.

Students, staff take part in service project for NSU Food Pantry

Students in Northwestern State University’s President’s Leadership Program and staff in the Office of the First Year Experience participated in a service project for the NSU Food Pantry on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day They spent the morning organizing, stocking the shelves, and sanitizing so that the food pantry could open for the spring semester. Participants in the project included Kilee Pickett, Kat Haymon, Sha’Ron Brown, Chancy Daigle, Mariah Kado, Zoe Nelson, Mikalee Sawyer, Ashlynn LaCombe, Anna McMillon, Ebenezer Aggrey and Reatha Cox.

The NSU Food Pantry is located on the south side of Trisler Power Plant on NSU’s Central Avenue. The Food Pantry also stocks personal hygiene items, toiletries and cleaning supplies and is open to all NSU students and BPCC@NSU students.

The NSU Food Pantry was created five years ago as a class project by a group of social work students who recognized that some of their peers were struggling with food insecurity while stretching their money to cover other expenses.

Donations are always welcome. To obtain a list of needed items, donors should contact Cox at or Associate Professor of Social Work Denise Bailey at Monetary donations are also accepted through the NSU Foundation. Donors can visit and support the NSU Food Pantry in the Make A Gift section and specifying the NSU Food Pantry.

Pictured above: Participants in a service project for the NSU Food Pantry included, front from left, Kilee Pickett, Kat Haymon, Sha’Ron Brown, middle row from left, Chancy Daigle, Mariah Kado, Zoe Nelson, Mikalee Sawyer, Ashlynn LaCombe and, back from left, Anna McMillon, Ebenezer Aggrey and Reatha Cox.


Notice of Death – January 19, 2021

Wayne Frame
October 14, 1946 – January 17, 2021
Service: Friday, January 22 at 2 pm at St. Augustine Catholic Church in Natchez

Bennie Jean Metcalf Walker
April 10, 1929 – January 15, 2021
Service: Wednesday, January 20 at 10 am at Wallace Baptist Church

Judy Diane Sepulvado Fair
May 29, 1951 – January 16, 2021
Due to COVID-19 precautions, Judy was laid to rest in a private service. A celebration of her life with family and friends will be held later in the spring or summer when it is safe to gather again.

Janiece Roge’ Ainsworth
January 20, 1939 – January 16, 2021
Service: Saturday, January 23 at 11 am at Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home

Barbara Amoateng
January 18, 2021
Arrangements TBA

Carla Phillips
January 18, 2021
Arrangements TBA

Deacon George Harris
January 15, 2021
Service: Saturday, January 23 at 1 pm at the Greenville Baptist Church in Clarence

Carolyn Jones Jackson
January 15, 2021
Service: Thursday, January 21 at 11 am at the St. Augustine Catholic Church in Isle Brevelle

Rebecca Walker
January 15, 2021
Service: Saturday, January 23 at 11 am at the Winnfield Memorial Funeral Home Chapel, located at 318 North
Street in Natchitoches

Rodney P. Hoover
June 28, 1967 – January 16, 2021
Arrangements TBA

Phillip Lyons
January 13, 2021
Arrangements TBA

Brandon Bernard McHenry
December 7, 1988 – January 13, 2021
Arrangements TBA

Robert Smith
January 19, 2021
Arrangements TBA

2021 Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration March for Justice and Peace

Kevin’s Gallery

Natchitoches’ first Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration March for Justice and Peace was held Monday, January 18. The march began on campus and extended to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Triangle Park. The Natchitoches Hawg Riders led the procession on their motorcycles. The marchers were led by members of NSU’s Alpha Phi Alpha chapter. Dr. King was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, joining as a graduate student in 1952 at Boston College. The Alphas were joined by members of NSU’s Kappa Alpha Psi, Delta Sigma Theta, Phi Beta Sigma and Zeta Phi Beta. The NSU Chapters of the NAACP and African American Caucus also marched as did Ms. Laura Lyles and several members of the Natchitoches Chamber of Commerce. NSU Head Football Coach Brad Laird led assistant coaches, graduate assistants and members of the NSU football team. They were joined by fellow athletes from NSU Track and Field. Natchitoches Mayor Ronnie Williams and Parish President John Richmond marched as well. The march ended at the Dr. Martin Luther King Triangle Park where the brothers of NSU’s Alpha Phi Alpha chapter laid a wreath at Dr. King’s memorial and sang a hymn. NSU’s Lifted Voices Choir than gave a truly impressive vocal performance. Natchitoches Mayor Ronnie Williams and Parish President John Richmond each spoke of Dr. King’s legacy and accomplishments. As the march ended, the participants went to the newly reopened Legacy Café to enjoy lunch. The event was organized by the City of Natchitoches and the Northwestern State University Center for Inclusion & Diversity.

The photo album is unlocked all of the marchers and their families are welcome to any photos they wish.

State Health Department Confirms First Case of U.K. COVID Variant in Louisiana

The Louisiana Department of Health confirmed on Jan. 16, the state’s first identified case of the COVID-19 variant, SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7., frequently referred to as the U.K. variant because it is prevalent in the United Kingdom, in an individual in the Greater New Orleans area.

This variant spreads more easily from one person to another than other viral strains currently circulating in the United States, though It has not been shown to cause more severe disease. Health experts believe current COVID-19 vaccines are effective against the variant strain.

“LDH has confirmed the state’s first case of the more contagious COVID-19 variant that has been identified in the United Kingdom, and it is urgent that everyone double down on the mitigation measures that we know are effective in reducing the spread of the virus,” said Gov. Edwards. “It was always a matter of time before this new strain of the virus would reach Louisiana, which is why our state health experts have been monitoring cases and working with the CDC to prepare. There is no such thing as taking this too seriously. Our case counts and hospitalizations are increasing daily and deaths from COVID have reached an alarming rate. I implore everyone to wear a mask, avoid people and places that are not implementing the mask mandate, social distance, wash your hands frequently and do not go around anyone if you are sick. Even with the vaccines available, controlling our behavior with the measures that are proven to help keep us safe is our best defense against spreading this virus to our family, friends and throughout our communities.”

The Department conducted a case investigation and contact tracing to identify, inform and monitor anyone who was in close contact with the individual, who has a reported history of travel outside of Louisiana. However, the variant strain has been detected in at least 15 other states and is likely circulating in Louisiana as well.

Because this variant strain is more contagious, it is more important than ever that Louisianans:

Wear masks,
Wash hands,
Practice distancing,
Avoid gatherings,
Stay home when sick,

Quarantine and get tested if exposed to a positive case, and when it is your turn, consider getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Department has been preparing for this variant strain by participating in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s national SARS-CoV-2 Strain Surveillance Program and has been sending bi-weekly samples to the CDC for sequencing since November 2020. The State Public Health Laboratory is also working with clinical laboratories throughout Louisiana to conduct targeted surveillance for suspect variant strains.


State Health Department Confirms First Case of U.K. COVID Variant in Louisiana

Student Gamers’ Guild brings NSU campus to world of Minecraft

Students, faculty and staff are teaming up to bring the Northwestern State University campus to the world of Minecraft.

Jayce Gentry, president of the NSU Gamer’s Guild, a student organization made of people who enjoy playing a variety of video and card games, explains that Minecraft is a PC game where you can build anything you want.

“Think of it like Legos but in a video game,” said Gentry, a junior computer information systems major with a concentration in cyber security from Belmont.

“The game got a huge spike in popularity around 2012 and is now one of the most popular games of all time. Tons of people play it to build anything from skyscrapers to pirate ships or anything else they can come up with.”

Gentry said there are two modes in Minecraft: survival, which is a more objective-driven experience where you beat the game by slaying a dragon, and creative, in which one can build as much as you want. The game set on NSU’s campus in creative mode for easy building.

Last year, Gentry started creating the Minecraft building of Roy Hall, which houses campus Information Technology Services offices. A lunch with a co-worker got the project going.

“I was telling one of my co-workers Josh Garner about what I was doing,” said Gentry. “He remarked that it would be a cool idea to get all of Gamers’ Guild involved and do the entire campus, and I just fell in love with the idea the moment I heard it.”

Gentry then spoke with the officers of the Gaming Guild.

“We all agreed this would be an amazing opportunity, especially with the COVID-19 Pandemic going on,” said Gentry. “It would be an easy way for any students, even ones off campus, to check out what NSU has to offer from anywhere in the world.”

According to Gentry, creating the campus fits into the game by giving NSU students a landscape to build their favorite parts of the campus.

“It’s a way for people to express themselves and let out their creativity in a fun way with their friends and other students,” said Gentry.

So far, four campus buildings have been created. Gentry hopes to have the entire campus done by the end of 2021. Anyone can sign on right now and check out the world by going to in the Minecraft server address bar in the game. The world is only on Java Edition (PC) at the moment.

Gentry thanked NSU Chief Technology Officer Tracy Brown for providing the Gamer’s Guild with server space to host their world. He also thanked Associate Professor of Computer Information Systems Dr. Eddie Horton and Information Technology Services staff Shawn Parr, Thomas O’Rourke and Heath Fitts for helping with the security and server setup. Gentry said Gamer’s Guild officers James Stanfield and Evan White have been responsible for maintaining the server on Gamers’ Guild’s behalf and fellow Guild officers Tai Fletcher, Chloe Johnson, Ian Gentry and Jordan Mulsow were involved in the planning.

“The fact Information Technology Services was willing to help Gamers’ Guild with this is really cool, and just goes to show how much NSU’s faculty cares for student activities,” said Gentry. “Without them, this would’ve been way harder to accomplish.”

Building is coordinated in their discord server at Gentry encourages anyone who is interested to join in and reach out to him for how to assist.

Gov. Edwards Issues Statement on the Inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris

Gov. John Bel Edwards traveled to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 18 and will attend the Inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris this week, representing the state of Louisiana at the ceremonial transition of power from one administration to the next.
Gov. Edwards said:

“Less than two weeks ago, our United States Capitol was besieged by a riotous mob determined to prevent Congress from performing its constitutional duty to count electoral college votes certified by the states. Their insurrectionist actions were patently un-American and mark one of the most shameful days in our country’s history.

But after great darkness comes the light. Congress did count and certify the electoral college votes, and on Wednesday, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will become our nation’s president and vice president. I congratulate them again on their victory, and I am proud to represent the people of Louisiana at this historic inauguration. This ceremony will mark a chance for a fresh start, new energy and bold leadership to overcome the many significant challenges facing our country.

The challenges seem insurmountable some days – the pandemic, racial inequalities, a struggling economy, rampant misinformation and deep divisions in our communities, to name a few. And while it will not be easy to unite our country, that should never deter us from always working to do better, to be better.

I renew my commitment to my fellow Louisianans and my fellow Americans to continue working with the White House and the new President and Vice President to improve our state and our nation. Louisiana has struggled much over the past year, but our people are kind, strong and resilient, and there is no task too big for us to tackle if we put aside our differences and work together.

I look forward to working with President-elect Biden, and I especially congratulate Kamala Harris, who as Vice President-elect, is the living embodiment of the dreams and aspirations of countless Americans, particularly women and people of color, who have long fought for equality and a seat at the table.

I am grateful for the close working relationship I have had with the Trump administration, especially throughout the multiple natural disasters our state has faced. Hurricane recovery, in addition to the COVID-19 response, is ongoing, and I have already begun working with President-elect Biden’s administration to ensure that these important issues remain a priority.

I am also grateful to all of the people working to keep the Inauguration safe, from law enforcement to members of the National Guard, and especially the 174 members of Louisiana’s National Guard who volunteered to protect our nation’s capital to ensure the peaceful transfer of power. They are our nation’s unsung heroes and real patriots.

In Louisiana, we have been in touch with federal, state and local officials about warnings of planned protests in Louisiana and, while so far no violence or lawlessness has occurred at protests in Louisiana, we are prepared and will respond as necessary.”

Xavier faculty member to highlight work of African-American composers

Dr. Aaron Mathews of Xavier University of Louisiana will deliver a lecture/recital on African-American composers at Northwestern State University on Thursday, Jan. 28. He will speak to and play for Northwestern State students at 5 p.m. and the general public at 7:30 p.m. as part of the Louisiana Piano Series International. Admission to the 5 p.m. event is free. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. lecture/recital are $15. The audience is limited to 72 at each lecture/recital with masks and social distancing required.

Northwestern State Assistant Professor of Piano Dr. John Price and Associate Professor of Piano Dr. Francis Yang are co-directors of the of the Louisiana Piano Series International.

Mathews is an assistant professor of piano and artist-in-residence at Xavier University. His former faculty positions were at Allen University and Viterbo University. Mathews has performed extensively as a soloist and collaborative pianist with vocalists, choral and chamber ensembles across the United States and abroad.

In his lecture-recitals and workshops, he curates and analyzes an extensive list of Black classical composers and their piano works to heighten the awareness of Black cultures, pedagogical styles and techniques, and to expand the standard repertoire of classical music.

Mathews has also served as a liturgical musician for over 20 years and has composed several sacred choral and piano works, including his upcoming “Mass for Sister Thea Bowman.” He currently serves as the Project Director for “A New Pentecost: A Liturgical Music Planning Resource for Black Catholic Parishes,” sponsored by the Office of Black Catholics in the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

Mathews earned his D.M.A. in Piano Pedagogy from the University of South Carolina, his M.M. in Piano Pedagogy from Georgia State University, and his B.A. in Piano Performance from Morehouse College.