The 2021 Natchitoches Christmas Festival Poster is from an Artist with Natchitoches Roots

The artist whose piece was chosen by the Natchitoches Arts Council as the official 2021 Natchitoches Christmas Festival poster is a young man with deep local roots and an incredible talent. Trevor Lucas, a 1997 NCHS Alumni, was chosen over a field of almost 30 artists from across Louisiana and several other states.

The 2021 Christmas Festival Poster was unveiled Sunday, October 17 at the Natchitoches Downtown Riverbank. Representatives from the Natchitoches Arts Council were joined by Mayor Ronnie Williams, councilpersons Dale Nielsen, Betty Sawyer-Smith and school board member Reba Phelps in welcoming Trevor Lucas home. Classmates of Mr. Lucas from the NCHS class of 1997 were also on hand as were members of his family.

The poster was unveiled by Miss Merry Christmas Julia Ferrell and the Christmas Belles. The piece incorporates traditional Christmas themes as well as those of Natchitoches and NSU. Trevor Lucas’ artistic talents have been evident since an early age. While still a student at NCHS, he was a two-time winner of the Gatorade Super Dome Classic poster for the LHSAA football playoffs, a truly remarkable achievement. Trevor Lucas is a visual artist, working in all forms of visual art with the sole exception of sculpture. He is also a television host and content creator. He makes his home with his family in Virginia Beach where he has resided and built his art business since his service in the US Navy after graduation from NCHS. He and his wife have one daughter who is an aeronautical engineering student.

The Natchitoches Parish Journal wishes to congratulate Trevor Lucas upon his being chosen as the winner of the Natchitoches Christmas Festival Poster Contest. His piece is superbly done and captures the spirit of the holidays perfectly.

It’s a brand new day at Natchitoches Tax Commission Office

While she’s worked at the Natchitoches Tax Commission Office in several different roles over the past 19 years, it’s a brand new day for Laura Dalme-Jeffcoat as she officially started in her new role as Administrator on Oct. 13.

But it’s a brand new day and Laura is ready to help the Natchitoches community, from the individual taxpayer to the local business community.

Raised in Cloutierville, Laura is fond of Natchitoches Parish. She takes a sense of pride in coming from the same community as former Natchitoches Mayor Joe Sampite and Burl Lee, former Chief of Police for the City of Natchitoches. While she may have left a time or two, the area always draws her back home.

“It’s the sense of community that’s kept me here through the years,” said Laura. “My coworkers encouraged me to apply for the Administrator position. They’ve become part of my family and I’m excited to get to work with them in this new capacity.”

Laura’s two key characteristics in her administration role are compliance and consistency. “I’m a numbers person,” she shared. She took accounting classes during college and then worked at several local legal firms. “Numbers don’t lie.”

In this sense, Laura wants to treat everyone that comes to the Tax Commission equally. The law has to be even handed and applicable to everyone. Think of the office and its resources as another tool in your toolbox when it comes to your taxes.

Former Administrator Jerry McWherter made his plans for retirement known at the Tax Commission a while back. Having worked as an assistant tax collector, an auditor and as assistant administrator, Laura had the opportunity to learn from Jerry and she became more and more interested in the Administrator position as time went on. She was chosen as the acting administrator on Oct. 1 until the board voted to hire her in the new position on Oct. 13.

It’s been a whirlwind transition, but so far Laura’s stayed busy. She’s cleaned the Tax Commission building from top to bottom to put her own personal touch on it. Even though she hasn’t completely unpacked in her new office yet, she’s hit the ground running and wants the Natchitoches community to know that the Tax Commission is here to help with its professional, knowledgeable, and reliable staff.

Tax Refund: DMV overcharge

Dear Taxpayer:

If you purchased an item that was registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles in the month of January 2021, you may be due a refund.

Effective January 1st, 2021, there was a one (1) percent decrease in sales tax for the parish of Natchitoches. An overpayment of sales tax by one (1) percent may have occurred through the Department of Motor Vehicles.

If you feel that you qualify for a refund, please provide proof of purchase with a copy of your registration from the Department of Motor Vehicles to the Natchitoches Tax Commission.

Deadline for filing this claim is December 31, 2021.

Thank you,

Natchitoches Tax Commission
220 E 5th St.
Natchitoches, LA 71457

Book Signing to be Held at Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church

On Wednesday evening, October 27th at 6PM, there will be an exclusive book signing event to mark the official release of the book, Shreveport Martyrs of 1873: The Surest Path to Heaven. The book details the story of the heroic virtue of the five Martyrs of the Shreveport Epidemic of 1873, including the first priest of Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church, Father Francois LeVezouet. The event will take place at the St John the Baptist hall in Many with the three authors giving a short talk about the experiences they had while writing the book. Everyone is invited to attend and welcome the authors, Rev Peter Mangum, Dr. Cheryl White and Ryan Smith. There will be a reception afterwards as well as an opportunity to purchase autographed books. You don’t want to miss this special event!

Natchitoches Junior High JAG

Natchitoches Junior High JAG members participated in the 4th annual Kiwanis 5K Color Run and Pancake Festival on Oct. 9. Prizes were awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in each age group. Allison Holmes and Ethan Gourdon placed 2nd and Shayla Simbron and She’Kinya Pipkin placed 3rd (respectively, in their age group).

Pictured: Jody Hamilton, Demija Beaudion, Deshuwn Braggs, Kristen Harrison, Aaliyah Perry, Carolyn Adams, Alise’ Adams, Shayla Simbron, She’Kinya Pipkin and Allison Holmes.

Service organizations team up, increase collective impact thru food pantry donations

Honoring Joint Service Week (October 10-16), Rotary International collaborated with our friends at Kiwanis International, and Lions Clubs International to increase our collective impact through community service. A joyful collaboration among the three local organizations occurred on Friday, October 15. Each organization donated canned food items to restock the Natchitoches Cane River Food Pantry. In addition, Rotary donated $210 for Cane River Food Pantry Representative Donna Greene to use as needed for purchasing additional food items.

Pictured from left are Rotarians Lance Lopez and Jessica McGrath, Kiwanis President Kaitlyn Hamm and Board Director Tiffany Woods, Greene, and Lions Club Member Josh Pierson.

Cane River Fall Festivities: Oakland Plantation Homecoming

Cane River National Heritage Area and the Cane River Creole National Historical Park will host the Cane River Fall Festivities throughout the month of October. Oakland Plantation residents welcomed visitors long before the National Park Service acquired it in 1997.

Join us on October 23, 2021, as the National Park Service welcomes former plantation residents and their descendants back home. Generations of the same families of workers, enslaved and tenant, and owners lived at Oakland Plantation for over 200 years. During self-guided tours from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm visitors will have the unique opportunity to visit and talk with former Oakland Plantation residents.

In addition, 2021 marks the 200th anniversary of the construction of the Oakland Plantation Main House. The tools of the enslaved carpenters, masons, and blacksmiths who built the house can be seen in a special commemorative exhibit. To remember the works of these craftspeople the park invites you to step into the past with skilled park rangers and park partners as you learn how to make bousillage, a traditional Creole building material, watch a blacksmith and experience the clang of the hammer on hot iron, view a special carpentry display, and visit the enslaved nanny’s room on the lower level of the Main House.

Demonstration Schedule

10:00 am – Creole Architecture: The Making of Bousillage
10:30 am – The Art of the Forge: A Blacksmith’s Workshop
11:00 am – Creole Architecture: The Making of Bousillage
11:30 am – Beneath the Surface: The Enslaved Nanny’s Room
12:00 pm – Beneath the Surface: The Enslaved Nanny’s Room
12:30 pm – The Art of the Forge: A Blacksmith’s Workshop
1:00 pm – Creole Architecture: The Making of Bousillage
1:30 pm – The Art of the Forge: A Blacksmith’s Workshop

There is no entrance fee at Oakland Plantation. All tours and activities are free. Oakland Plantation is located at 4386 Highway 494, Natchez La 71456. To reach Oakland Plantation, take I-49 to Exit 127, Flora/Cypress. Head east on LA Highway 120 toward Cypress. Cross over LA Highway 1 onto LA Highway 494. The parking lot and entrance pavilion for Oakland is 4.5 miles east of Highway 1 on the left.

Notice of Death – October 17, 2021

Rev. Wayne Hicks
January 17, 1938 – October 07, 2021
Service: Saturday, October 23 at 1 pm at Calvary Baptist Church in Natchitoches

Emily Ann Dillard
August 23, 1936 – October 14, 2021
Service: Monday, October 18 at 10 am at First Baptist Church of Pleasant Hill

Robert Glen Downs
February 22, 1962 – October 12, 2021
Service: Tuesday, October 19 at 11 am at Rockett-Nettles Funeral Home Chapel

Lakeview HighSchool Celebrates Homecoming and Construction of Football Turf

The sun was setting as the community was arriving at Lakeview High School for the Homecoming Football game and the ceremonial groundbreaking for the construction of the new field turf. The golden shovels were ready to make their statement as the local dignitaries made their way to the sidelines prior to kickoff.

Local officials on hand to celebrate with the Lakeview parents and students were: Campti Mayor, Laron Winslow, Principal William Hymes, Coach Brandon Helms, Sheriff Stuart Wright, NPSB Finance Director, Lee Waskom, Superintendent Dr. Grant Eloi, School Board President Steven Harris, Vice President Reba Phelps, Board Members Eugene Garner, Rhonda Guidroz and Beverly Broadway.

Principal Hymes shared, “We are so excited about this investment in our campus and we are certain that we will be able to host more home events at our home field.”

Mayor Winslow and Principal Hymes thanked the board for their commitment to improve all of the campuses in the school system.

Principal Hymes also shared that the student body was very excited about all of the changes and upgrades to the 28 year old football field that was dedicated in September of 1993.

In honor of the event the Lakeview Culinary Arts class, instructed by Sherry Helms, provided a tailgate style catered meal on the sidelines. Every dish that was prepared was homemade and served by students from the class.

The construction of the new football turf was a unanimous decision made during the October 7th meeting of the Natchitoches Parish School Board. The base bid was awarded to Geosurfaces, Inc for a total contract price of $893,800. The Board also accepted the option to lease the turf installation and maintenance for a 10 year period provided by Sustainability Partners. The monthly lease price is $10,091 per month.

During the meeting, Head Football Coach and Athletic Director, Brandon Helms presented photos of the proposed turf and explained the benefits of never having to miss a game due field conditions. The multi-layered surface will feature Dynamic shock pad and drainage blanket technology as well as lower temperature than traditional grass.

The Lakeview Gators did not pull off the homecoming win against D’argonne Woods but maybe next season the new turf will have them on a level playing field!

Construction of the new football turf is slated to begin in January 2022.

Chiefs rally against Shreve, but not quite enough to stay unbeaten

Captain Shreve found ways to move the ball against Natchitoches Central’s fierce defense while containing the Chiefs’ explosive offense Friday night, but NCHS mounted a strong rally in the game’s last 16 minutes before falling 31-20.

It was a battle of unbeatens, with control of the District 1-5A championship race going to the Gators on their homecoming night. Shreve built a 17-0 halftime lead, then quickly expanded it to 24-0 before NCHS finally began to answer.

The Chiefs ran off 20 unanswered points in seven minutes to pull within four, 24-20, with 8:04 remaining as junior quarterback B.J. Young ran for scores of 4 and 70 yards and connected with Braylin Demars on a 39-yard touchdown pass.

The Chiefs couldn’t quite get over the hump. Facing fourth down deep in their own territory with just over three minutes remaining, they failed to get a first down, and the Gators took over at the NCHS 24. Shreve star Kendrick Law ripped off a 17-yard run and scored a couple of snaps later to ice the outcome.

FINAL SCORE: Captain Shreve 31, Natchitoches Central 20

GAME SITE: Shreveport, Lee Hedges Stadium

RECORDS: NCHS Chiefs 6-1 overall,3-1 in District 1-5A; Captain Shreve 7-0, 4-0


CS – Thomas Murray 27 field goal, 7:53 1st, CS 3-0 (Drive 7 plays, 43 yards)

CS – Kenyon Terrell 17 run (Murray kick), 2:15 1st, CS 10-0 (Drive 4 plays, 53 yards)

CS – Matt Hall 4 run (Murray kick), 7:14 2nd, CS 17-0 (Drive 6 plays, 61 yards)

CS – Terrell 13 run (Murray kick), 9:19 3rd, CS 24-0 (Drive 2 plays, 26 yards)

NC – B.J. Young 4 run (Sam Maggio kick), 3:21 3rd, CS 24-7 (Drive 7 plays, 51 yards)

NC — Young 70 run (Maggio kick), 11:33 4th, CS 24-14 (Drive 2 plays, 70 yards)

NC – Braylin Demars 39 pass from Young (kick blocked), 8:04 4th, CS 24-20 (Drive 6 plays, 60 yards)

CS – Kendrick Law 8 run (Murray kick), 2:25 4th, CS 31-20 (Drive 3 plays, 24 yards)

KEY STATS: Captain Shreve became the first team in 2021 to produce points and yards against the NCHS defense. The Gators ran for 257 yards on 42 carries (6.1 average) and had 334 total yards to 261 for the Chiefs. NCHS ran for 194. Each team had two turnovers. Caylin Demars posted 165 yards rushing on 22 carries with B.J. Young adding 49, but the Chiefs’ quarterback was snatched for 67 lost yards, most on sacks. The NCHS passing game, which was 7 of 10 two weeks ago in the big win at Byrd, completed only 2 of 14.

NOTES: The defeat stopped NCHS’s win streak. The Chiefs hadn’t been 6-0 since 1996.

NCHS COACH JAMES WILKERSON’S COMMENTS: “We didn’t play fou quarters and you have to be at your best every play when you play a team like that. We came out flat and made too mistakes, but I am proud of our fight and our effort to come back. This will be a good game to learn from as we push to finish the regular season against our other district opponents.”

NEXT UP: Thursday night, the Chiefs will host the Parkway Panthers in the NCHS
“Pink Out” game at Turpin Stadium. Kickoff in the District 1-5A contest is set for 7 o’clock.

Demons upended by second-quarter McNeese surge

The Northwestern State football team did not suffer a sluggish start Saturday afternoon against McNeese.

The tough part of the Southland Conference game for the homestanding Demons came in the second quarter as the Cowboys took advantage of the wind and extremely favorable field position to set the tone for a 35-17 McNeese victory.

“I’m very disappointed,” fourth-year head coach Brad Laird said. “We came out up 3-0 and went through a bad stretch in the second quarter. It all started when they pinned that punt at the 1. We were going into the wind, and their next three possessions were on the plus-24, the plus-42 and the plus-48. They converted two of those into touchdowns.”

As the Demons (2-4, 1-2) fought the wind, the Cowboys (2-4, 1-2) took advantage.

Following a Callum Eddings punt that was downed at the 1, the Demons went three and out. A short punt gave the Cowboys the ball at the NSU 24, and three plays later, Josh Parker’s 3-yard run started a 21-point second-quarter avalanche that put the Cowboys ahead to stay.

In a matchup between the Southland’s top turnover-forcing defense (Northwestern State) and its stingiest offense in terms of giveaways (McNeese), the Demons did not produce enough extra possessions to change the momentum.

Instead, one came from the Cowboys as Corione Harris returned a Zachary Clement fumble 15 yards for the final of McNeese’s three second-quarter touchdowns and a 21-3 lead.

“We had some big stops defensively,” Laird said. “One came after the fake punt they had in the second half. There was another after the punt return to the 6. We got a stop when they turned it over out of the end zone, but we weren’t able to get that big momentum takeaway that we have in the past. In times like that, whenever we can’t get it going, that’s when a big takeaway can change the momentum.”

Northwestern State’s offense managed just 254 yards on the game, 104 of which came in the first half.

For the second straight week, the Demons came alive offensively in the second half as Clement scored twice on a pair of short runs, marking the third straight game he posted a rushing touchdown.

However, the 25-point deficit built by the Cowboys on Parker’s 19-yard run at the 8:39 mark of the third quarter was too much to overcome.

“We weren’t clicking,” said receiver Jay Griffin IV, who led NSU with five catches for 38 yards and added 20 yards on four carries. “We weren’t executing the way we need to execute. We can do a better job catching the ball, passing, blocking, everything. We’ve got to step our game up next week.”

Clement saw his most extensive playing time of the season, playing the entire second half, and finished 8-for-15 for a career-high 147 yards through the air in addition to his two rushing touchdowns.

Defensively, the Demons held McNeese to 337 yards total offense and collected a season-high 11 tackles for loss.

Linebacker Jomard Valsin had three of those tackles behind the line, including a sack, as part of a 10-tackle performance. Isaiah Longino added two TFLs as eight different Demons made a stop behind the line of scrimmage.

“We’ve got to continue to do our jobs,” Valsin said. “When we did, they had three and outs, and we got them off the field. We’ve got to keep our head up.”

Added Laird: “We did a lot of good things, but there are a lot of things we can point at in all three phases. The bottom line is I didn’t have this football team prepared to play. I’ve got to be better, and we’ll be better as we move forward.”

The Demons cap a two-game homestand next Saturday, hosting Southeastern at 3 p.m. in NSU’s annual Homecoming game.


A member the Child Support Enforcement section of the Natchitoches Parish District Attorney’s Office earned statewide recognition from the Louisiana Support Enforcement Association at its annual meeting and training conference.

Angela Rachal, child support enforcement analyst, “Outstanding Enforcement Analyst in a District Attorney’s Office” Rachal was nominated by peers and co-workers. “I am delighted that the association awarded this much-earned recognition to Angela. She and the members on our team possess the necessary professionalism and compassion required to carry out the
duties of the division. I am proud of these accomplishments and the ongoing effort provided by Angela and the entire staff,” said District Attorney Billy Joe Harrington.

The Child Support Enforcement section of the District Attorney’s Office includes a staff of four whose responsibilities include establishing and enforcing child support obligations ordered by the 10th Judicial District Court. The office also assists in establishing paternity, which is required by law to enforce child support for a father of a child born outside of marriage.

Each year, the Child Support Enforcement section manages an average of 300 child support cases. Citizens can apply for services by visiting the office at 203 St Denis Street in Natchitoches. Applications for support can be obtained online at
and click on “Seek Child Support” on the front page of the website. Also, citizens can inquire by telephone at 1-888-LAHELP-U (524-3578).

Pikes’ big night sparks Lakeview, but bad start does in Gators

Dillon Pikes and the Lakeview Gators offense did their part Friday night, but the D’arbonne Woods Timberwolves were able to pound away and prevail 33-22 to dampen the LHS homecoming celebration.

On a landmark night for Lakeview, with the official groundbreaking ceremony pre-game for a new $900,000 artificial turf field to be ready next year, the ground games were good for both teams.

Pikes was dynamic, posting 196 yards rushing on 22 carries, including two touchdowns.

But the Timberwolves were just unstoppable. D’arbonne Woods (5-2) jumped to an early 14-0 advantage that the Gators couldn’t overcome.

“Offensively, we moved the ball. We just couldn’t get off the field defensively,” said Lakeview coach Brandon Helms. “They had a 230-pound back who wouldn’t bust you for 25 and 30-yard runs, but it was just the six-yard runs that kept piling up. They converted so many third-and-twos, not by much, but they did a good job.”

The visitors got a 25-yard touchdown run on their second possession to move on top, then pounced on a fumble and turned a short field into a 14-0 lead.

Pikes broke loose on a 65-yard scoring bolt and added a two-point conversion to cut it to 14-8, but the Timberwolves regained a two-score lead, 22-8, shortly before halftime.

In the second half, Pikes cracked the goalline again, but the Timberwolves again answered. Kaleb Collins dashed 33 yards and converted a two-point play for Lakeview, but D’arbonne Woods kept pounding away and retained the upper hand.

“We just never could get the lead,” said Helms. “Against teams like that, we needed the lead because they struggle in the passing game and it’s tougher to come from behind. You’ve got to be able to get chunk yards to rally and neither team has been able to consistently do that this fall.”

The Gators’ success running the ball wasn’t just due to the skill of Pikes and Collins, said Helms.

“Our offensive line got better this week. Dillon Ireland had a good night up front for us.”

With all of the festivities associated with homecoming, and the groundbreaking ceremony, there was almost a great week for the Gators.

“It was a good homecoming week,” said Helms, “other than the fact we just couldn’t get that W. But we’ll let the rest of the school enjoy fall break, and come Monday we’ll get back on that field and get going to have a good week of practice.”

Lakeview (1-6) will get back to District 3-2A play next Friday night, making the short ride up to Coushatta to play the Red River Bulldogs.

Lady Demons looking to pass next test at Nicholls

Northwestern State passed its first test of the weekend on Thursday with an all-around team win. The next challenge for the maturing Lady Demons lies in the quick turnaround that comes with another road match two days later.

NSU travels to Nicholls (7-11, 0-6) looking for a better result this Saturday than it had a week ago following a quality win. First serve is set for 1 p.m. with live coverage links available a

The Lady Demons (8-13, 2-4) fought from back from early deficits in both the second and third sets against a scrappy New Orleans team on Thursday night. They held off three set points in the second storming back to a 26-24 win and hammered seven straight kills late in the third to take it 25-23.

The critical moments in both of those sets turned in NSU’s favor thanks to clutch plays from multiple sources on multiple occasions. A kill from any number of attackers at any position on the net, a block in the middle or at either pin or a point-saving dig from the back line all went for the Lady Demons on Thursday.

In four-set matches it was the first time since the 2018 season NSU had four players with 10 or more kills and the first time since 2016 they had five players with 10 or more digs, the two have never occurred in the same match in program history before Thursday.

In-match adjustments contributed to the varied success seen against UNO and will once again test the Lady Demons on Saturday. Both New Orleans and Nicholls have made formation changes from match to match this season forcing a wider lens of preparation in a shorter window.

“They have a couple of key players that you know you’re going to have to defend,” Kiracofe said. “But they’ve been in and out of a 6-2 and a 5-1, changed some people around which is common, we’ve done the same things, to figure out what works best. There’s a big difference depending on which formation they’re in and they’ve been bouncing between them.”

The Colonels are still winless in conference play after a 3-1 loss to Southeastern on Thursday, that coming after a five-set loss to UIW a week ago where they jumped ahead two sets to none. Prior to their current seven match losing skid, Nicholls picked up quality wins against Southern Miss, UTRGV and UMBC during the non-conference schedule.

Senior outside Emily Gauthreaux has been the primary offensive force the past few years for the Colonels and leads them in kills and kills per set once again this year. She is fifth in the conference with a 2.76 average.

Nicholls has two players ranked in the top 10 in hitting percentage in the conference to complement Gauthreaux’s kill totals.

“They’ve been pushing people to five and are in a lot of ways like UT Arlington when we played them,” Kiracofe said. “They have been able to go four and five with a bunch of people and compete with different teams in different ways. They just haven’t quite been able to figure out how to finish towards the end and turn those things into wins.

“They’re pushing people and doing some good things just when it matters the most have struggled a little bit and haven’t been able to turn it into wins but they’re right there.”

Photo:  Gary Hardamon

High School Football – Local Scoreboard 10-15-21

Natchitoches Central High School
Natchitoches Central  20
Captain Shreve  31

St. Mary’s Catholic School
St Mary’s  41
Block  6
Played Thursday Night

Lakeview High School
Lakeview  22
D’arbonne  33

Note:   NPJ Detailed High School Coverage Sunday Morning at 6:55am – Join us!

Distinguished Educators inductees will be honored during Homecoming

Northwestern State University’s Gallaspy College of Education and Human development will honor several individuals with induction into the Hall of Distinguished Educators during Homecoming festivities.

This year’s honorees are Toni Bennett, Dr. John Dollar, Dr. Chris Maggio and Dr. Elwanda Murphy. Dr. Christy Hornsby is this year’s Outstanding Young Professional.

The College will host a reception beginning at noon, Saturday, Oct. 23 at the Teacher Education Center. The induction program will begin at 12:30 p.m.

Bennett has a 56-year career in education. At NSU, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education in 1966, Master of Education in Special Education in 1970 and Specialist in Education in Leadership, Curriculum and Assessment in 1984 with additional study at Northeast Louisiana University and Louisiana State University. She began her career as a special education teacher at several schools in Natchitoches Parish before become pupil appraisal coordinator for Natchitoches Parish. She also served on faculty at NSU, Louisiana Tech and Northeast Louisiana, now the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

As the first certified assessment teacher/education diagnostician in Louisiana, Bennett worked for the Louisiana Department of Education to create and implement pupil appraisal, special education and school improvement programs. Throughout her career, she authored and administered grants, assisted in writing handbooks and reference guides for learning standards and was a consultant for curriculum development in Louisiana and several other states. She presented at numerous state and national conferences, served as director of the Department of Exceptional Student Services and was Louisiana’s State Assessment Teacher of the Year, Outstanding Special Education Teacher of the Year.

Although she is retired twice over, Bennett is still serving the educational world by volunteering her time and services to the Early Childhood realm as well as presenting at local conferences disseminating her knowledge of inclusion, diversity and more.

Dollar earned a master’s degree in secondary physical education at NSU in 1981 and retired earlier this year having served as professor and head of the Department of Health and Human Performance. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway where he was a four-year letterman in track. Prior to his appointment at NSU, Dollar was a visiting assistant professor, interim program coordinator, and internship coordinator for the sport management program at Texas A&M University, where he also received his doctorate in sports administration and management.

Dollar has authored numerous articles and presented at state, regional, national and international workshops and conferences on the topics of mentoring, experiential learning, internships and supervision, service learning, career development and curriculum development in sport management. He has also. served on numerous committees and councils including graduate council, faculty senate, standards, academic advising, scholarship, distance learning, and faculty guidelines.

Dollar has taught courses in sport law, ethics and sport governance, human resource management, recreational sport management, research in sport, and supervised more than 1,000 experiential learning experiences for his students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. He possesses lifetime teaching certificates in Texas and Louisiana.

Maggio retired earlier this year after serving with faculty, staff and administration at NSU for 33 years, the last four as the university’s 19th president. Maggio guided Northwestern State through some of the most challenging times in the university’s history, providing leadership through a global pandemic and several severe weather events. The four highest enrollments in NSU history were during Maggio’s tenure as president, and the university’s economic impact on the region climbed to an all-time high of $428 million.

Maggio earned a bachelor’s degree from NSU in 1985 and a master’s degree from the university in 1991. He received a doctorate degree from Grambling State University in 2002. He was elected Mr. NSU as an undergraduate.

A lifelong resident of Natchitoches, he taught and coached for two years at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Natchitoches before becoming an assistant track and field and cross country coach at Northwestern in 1988. Over the years, Maggio served NSU as Head Women’s Track and Field and Cross Country Coach, Assistant Athletic Director, Director of Admissions, Director of Enrollment Services, Director of Alumni and Development, Dean of Students and Assistant Provost, Assistant Vice President for External Affairs and Vice President for the Student Experience.

Murphy, who earned her doctorate in education at NSU in 1981 was the first female Superintendent of Schools in Natchitoches Parish. Her 50-year career in public education includes service as a classroom teacher, school curriculum coordinator, assistant principal and principal in addition to her 11 years as Superintendent of Schools. For more than a decade, she was an innovative and dynamic principal at the NSU Elementary Laboratory School, guiding the school in a time of significant growth and success.

As superintendent, she maintained a close rapport with teachers, principals, parents, students and others as she worked to enhance the quality and effectiveness of schools in the system. Under her leadership, the Natchitoches Magnet School was established in 2005.

Murphy, who also holds education degrees from Ouachita Baptist University and Henderson State University, continues to provide guidance and assistance to schools, young people and educational organizations in her role as a consultant for the Rapides Foundation and Orchard Foundation that support and promote educational initiatives in this area and beyond.

Hornsby is coordinator of the doctoral program in Adult Learning at NSU. During her career, she has made contributions to classes in Pre-K though higher education and to the profession of education through teaching, research and community service.

Hornsby earned her B.A., M.Ed., and Ed.S. degrees at NSU and is a full-time faculty member. Prior to coming to NSU, she taught in the K-12 system in Grant and Rapides Parish where she held numerous roles during 18 years of teaching and administrative work. She worked as lead teacher, chaired committees and served on leadership teams and school building level committees. She also served the Rapides Parish School Board as the Education Coordinator for the Head Start/Early Head Start Program and was awarded teacher of the year.

Since joining the faculty at NSU, she published several journal articles, presented at state and regional conferences advocating for early childhood students and programs and created a dissertation guidebook for doctoral students in her program. She has served on several committees as well as engaged in university service activities such as promoting the School of Education in Grad Fest and NSU Scholars College Walk. She and her educational sorority, ADK, teamed with the Early Childhood Education program department to collect and distribute school supplies and reading materials through NSU’s Early Childhood Cradle to College initiative.

For a full schedule of Homecoming activities, visit

Purple Swarm set for rivalry renewal with McNeese

There is no other current Southland Conference football team Northwestern State has faced more than McNeese.

The opponent alone is enough to fire up fourth-year head coach Brad Laird, who has faced the Cowboys as a player, assistant coach and three times as a head coach. He will lead the Demons into the 72nd meeting between the teams at 3:05 p.m. Saturday inside Turpin Stadium.

“One, it’s great to be back at Turpin Stadium on a Saturday afternoon,” Laird said. “On top of that, we get to welcome McNeese. For those guys who have been here – coaches and players – they understand the rivalry. The newcomers, the freshmen who don’t, they’ll figure that out this week. It’s going to be a great game and a great atmosphere.”

Saturday’s game can be seen on ESPN+ and heard on the Demon Sports Network, flagshipped by 94.9 FM The River in Natchitoches. Free streaming audio of the game is available on and the Northwestern State Athletics app, which can be downloaded free for Apple and Android devices.

The Demons (1-4, 1-1) and Cowboys (1-4, 0-2) enter the matchup with identical overall records, but Northwestern State comes in off its first victory of the season, a 21-17 triumph at Houston Baptist on Oct. 9. McNeese has dropped two straight, including a 38-35 decision on Oct. 2 against Southeastern in the Cowboys’ most recent game.

Any victory that snaps a four-game losing streak would create positive momentum, but Laird said it wasn’t so much breaking into the win column but the way the Demons accomplished the feat.

“There were so many different situations and scenarios that made that win so gratifying,” he said. “The way we won the game. Being down 10-0 early. We get the lead late then lose it as soon as we got it. Defensively, we get the big turnover with seven minutes left, and the offense capitalizes to score and seal the victory. I couldn’t be more proud of a group.”

Northwestern State’s “Purple Swarm” defense continued its season-long knack for recovering fumbles, picking up three against Houston Baptist. NSU shares the Southland Conference lead with seven fumble recoveries, and its 11 forced turnovers are the most in the league.

Linebacker Jared Pedraza leads the nation with three fumble recoveries, all of which came in a two-game span against UT Martin (Sept. 18) and UIW (Oct. 2). That skill has found its way across the NSU defense, which has helped the Demons level their turnover margin on the season.

“(Defensive coordinator) Coach (Mike) Lucas puts us in position to make plays,” Pedraza said. “(Recovering fumbles) is just hustle. I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. If you do that, plays will come to you. Sometimes, it’s the luck of the draw, but if I see a ball there, I’m going to do whatever I have to do to get it.”

The Demons enjoyed a breakthrough against HBU, converting two of the Huskies’ lost fumbles into 14 points.

McNeese, meanwhile, has been the best team in the Southland in terms of keeping the ball. The Cowboys have committed a Southland-low four turnovers (two interceptions, two fumbles) through four games.

“It’s not just about getting the takeways, but are you able to capitalize on that and take advantage of those opportunities?” Laird queried. “Those previous weeks, we talked about it, and we were able to do so last week.”

Photo:  Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services