‘Hey!, I (mis)remember that!’

And yet again we find ourselves within the gravitational pull of one of the most memorable yet misremembered dates in “the storied athletic history” of Louisiana Tech.

If things go gray upstairs in a second, all is forgiven. It’s been a minute.

But any Tech fan old enough to have seen episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show live will likely have some brain cells reserved for December 4, 1982, the much-anticipated opening day of the Thomas Assembly Center. Nearly every year as we close in on December 4, someone will mention that day to me.

It was that big of a deal.

“The Lady Techsters played USC and Cheryl Miller and the guys played USL (now ULL),” my friend called to say; The Date and The Day had just happened to come up in a basketball-related conversation as the 2023-24 Bulldogs have won five straight and get a test at 5-1 New Mexico, a regular participant in postseason tournaments, Wednesday at 8 CST.

Then — and this is the part that gets confusing because, well, Father Time — he said, “And that was after Delaware had beaten Tech in the 1-AA semifinals that afternoon, I think 17-0, in the rain,” he said. “What a day. All in Ruston.”

And he’s right. That’s what happened. Almost.

Here is what actually happened that December 4 afternoon before the TAC opened with a doubleheader that night. This from Shreveport Bossier Journal writer Ron Higgins, who then was writing sports for The Times in Shreveport:

“RUSTON—By land, or rather by mud, and through the air, Louisiana Tech quarterback Matt Dunigan tippy-toed through the swampland of Aillet Stadium for two touchdowns and threw for two more scores as Tech slipped past South Carolina State 38-3 Saturday afternoon in the NCAA Division I-AA South Regional final.”

It as South Carolina State that Tech played in football that day in the national quarterfinals. Then that night, USC beat the Techsters, 64-58, and the Dunkin’ Dogs lost to USL, 46-45. The crowd was 8,700; the place has 8,000 seats. More than jam packed. And it was: as a rookie graduate assistant in sports information, I was there.

The next Saturday, December 11, was also cold and rainy, and more than the week before. Miserable. That gray afternoon, Tech football lost in the semifinals of the I-AA playoffs to Delaware, 17-0. It was the final Tech game for both Dunigan — he was off to his career as a Hall of Famer in the Canadian Football League — and head coach Billy Brewer, off to a few seasons of success at his alma mater, Ole Miss.

Why so many of us often confuse the two dates might be because there was basketball at the TAC that December 11 Saturday, as there had been the Saturday before. After the football loss to Delaware, the Techsters thumped Cheyney State that night, 60-45, to win the Dial Classic. Yes, the good ol’ Dial Classic.

On December 4, Tech won in football and lost in basketball. The next weekend was the other way around.

Some other notes from those two weekends 41 years ago, as all three Tech programs were poised to make more immediate memories:

The Techsters’ loss to USC meant the end of their 59-game home winning streak. They beat USC on a neutral court in California, 58-56, later during the regular season and then, as two-time defending national champs, lost to USC in the title game, 69-67, in The Scope in Norfolk, Virginia. Big doings;

The Dunkin’ Dogs finished 19-9 and second in the Southland Conference that season but Shreveport’s Wayne Smith, Summerfield’s Karl Malone and a host of talented friends found themselves in the NCAA Tournament the next two seasons;

Many of the 1982 Football Bulldogs thawed out enough over the next two seasons to make it to the I-AA finals against Montana State at The Citadel in 1984; and,

Delaware. The Fightin’ Blue Hens haven’t been back to Ruston for football since that sleety Saturday when a dude named “Delaware Dan” Reeder slogged his way to a ball-controlling 114 yards on 22 carries and two of his less-workmanlike teammates got to score the TDs. But that seems poised to change: an announcement that the Blue Hens will become the 11th member of Conference USA is expected this week.

No news from the Dial Classic though. All quiet on the Dial Classic front …   

Contact Teddy at teddy@latech.edu

NSU hires Division III head coach, former LSU player McCorkle as coach

HEADING TO NSU:  Blaine McCorkle guided a dormant Belhaven football program to a conference championship and NCAA playoff appearance, and will try to do the same for Northwestern State. (Photo courtesy Belhaven Athletics/Northwestern State)

By DOUG IRELAND, Journal Sports

New Northwestern State football coach Blaine McCorkle is unknown to virtually everybody invested in Demon football, except for one of NSU’s greatest players.

Former NFL quarterback Craig Nall couldn’t be more excited that his former LSU teammate has been hired to take over the program in Natchitoches.

McCorkle, 47, and his family will be introduced to supporters and the media at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the Stroud Room, located in the Donald G. Kelly Athletic Complex. He replaces Brad Laird, one of NSU’s all-time great players, who resigned Oct. 26 as NSU curtailed its 2023 season by cancelling its final four games in the aftermath of the shooting death of junior safety Ronnie Caldwell Jr.

Northwestern has not had a winning season in football since 2008, a 7-5 record. There have been two 6-6 finishes, and two winless seasons, in 2009 and this fall (0-6). Last year Laird’s team had a 4-2 Southland Conference record.

Nall, who earned a degree from NSU after leading the Demons to the FCS playoffs with a record-shattering 2001 season, is a good friend of McCorkle – who has been in coaching for 26 years, the last six bringing a championship to a downtrodden Division III program at Belhaven College in Jackson, Miss.

He took the Blazers from a two-win team the year ahead of his arrival to a nine-win season in 2023, with  an outright USA South Conference championship – the first such title in Belhaven program history – and the program’s first berth in the NCAA Division III playoffs.

In his final three seasons, McCorkle led the Blazers to a 24-7 overall record. The 17-4 mark across the 2022-23 seasons marked the most wins in a two-year span in program history and helped McCorkle earn three American Southwest Conference/USA South Coach of the Year awards, including the 2023 honor.

McCorkle inherited a program that had not won more than three games in a season since 2013.

McCorkle has been an assistant coach as an offensive line coach at six FCS institutions – Delaware, Richmond, Liberty, Tennessee Tech, Chattanooga and UT Martin. Twenty of his 26 seasons as a coach have come at those FCS programs.

“The opportunity to be back at the FCS level where I’ve spent the majority of my career is something I’ve wanted for a long time,” said McCorkle. “It is a pure level of college football that plays for the right reasons. I’m excited to be back at that level. I’m also excited for the challenge of rebuilding – not building – Northwestern State because Northwestern State has been there before. The campus has a lot to offer. The town has a lot to offer. I’m honored and humbled to have the opportunity to restore a program a lot of people take a lot of pride in.”

McCorkle interviewed for the McNeese coaching vacancy two years ago, when the Cowboys replaced current LSU assistant Frank Wilson with Valdosta State coach Gary Goff. Nall said McCorkle was eager to apply for the NSU job six years ago when Laird was promoted from within to replace Jay Thomas.

“I’m really happy and excited, not only for him and his family but for the university. Northwestern State’s getting a good guy,” said Nall, who lives in the Dallas area and operates a nationwide business tutoring high school and junior high quarterbacks.

McCorkle was a walk-on deep snapper on Gerry DiNardo’s LSU teams when Nall arrived as a highly recruited quarterback from Alexandria Senior High. Nall became involved in a three-way battle for the starting job at LSU with Josh Booty and Rohan Davey, weathered the Tigers’ coaching transition from DiNardo to Nick Saban and ultimately transferred to his parents’ alma mater, Northwestern, to play his senior season.

McCorkle finished playing in 1999 and began his coaching career at LSU as a student assistant, earning his degree in 2000 before Nall left. They have remained friends since.

“Blaine has done a great job rebuilding the program that he’s been at, really turned it around and established a winning culture there,” said Nall.

“He’s fully aware of the challenge that’s going to be in front of him. He cares about his players. He’s an awesome coach and he does things the right way.”

McCorkle has no other apparent connections to Northwestern but from his days at LSU and during his time at Belhaven, he’s very familiar with the lay of the land in Louisiana and its football network. Belhaven had 13 Louisiana natives on its roster this fall. Two of his assistants recruited central Louisiana and another recruited south Louisiana.

“He knows the state, knows it well. I think recruiting-wise, he’ll do good. It will take some time but if there’s anybody who can do it, he will. He’ll get in there, roll his sleeves up, and get to work reestablishing a culture of winning,” said Nall.

“(Coming back to Louisiana) played a huge part in it,” McCorkle said. “I’ve wanted to be a Division I head coach in Louisiana for 30 years now. I came here in August 1995 and fell in love with the people, the culture and the passion that is the state of Louisiana. A big part of that culture is college football.

“We’re in a great high school football state that has great areas to pull talent from. One thing I know about the people of Louisiana is you always know where you stand with them. I want to give the people of Natchitoches what they want, earn their trust and build something special for them.”

Contact Doug at sbjdoug@gmail.com

We are hiring for a sales associate position

Are you looking to take your career to the next level? Vaughn Chevrolet Buick Natchitoches is seeking motivated individuals eager to build and expand their careers.
Position: Sales Associate
Location: Natchitoches, LA
Job Description:
    Sales: Engaging with customers, providing product information, conducting test drives, and assisting in the car buying process.
Strong interpersonal and communication skills.
Passion for delivering exceptional customer service.
Willingness to learn and adapt to new processes and technologies.
Previous experience in a related field
Must be a team player and possess a positive attitude.
Industry-leading pay plans with competitive compensation.
Bonus structures to reward your performance and efforts.
Health benefits package, including medical, dental, and vision coverage.
Opportunities for career growth and advancement within the organization.
A supportive work environment that values teamwork and collaboration.
How to Apply:
If you are ready to take the next step in your career and join a reputable company that offers outstanding pay plans, bonus structures, and comprehensive health benefits, we would love to hear from you. Please submit your resume to wtabor@vaughnvalue.com or apply in person at our dealership.

OPINION POLL: City of Natchitoches – Ends Today at 4pm

To make decisions more equitable and keep cost down, the Citizens for Equitable Government is trying to understand the community thoughts on the Rate Increase for the City of Natchitoches.

  • City of Natchitoches

    In order to obtain the best results, please participate ONLY if you vote in the City of Natchitoches.

    The poll will run until 4 p.m. Wednesday, November 30, when the link will no longer be active. The purpose of this poll is to gain insight to your opinion regarding the City of Natchitoches.

    Thank you!

    Paid for by the Citizens for Equitable Government

  • The choice to publish or not rest solely with the Citizens for Equitable Government. This is simply a snapshot-in-time of the opinions of the participants. This is NOT a scientific poll.

    Paid for by the Citizens for Equitable Government

  • Should be Empty:

Professional bass fishing tough career choice

When I was a kid, teachers would ask the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

For boys, this can be a trick question because we never grow up.

Back in my day, the standard answers were policeman, fireman, teacher; or for the super smart students in my class they would say a doctor or lawyer. Some had even greater aspirations of becoming an astronaut, mainly since America had just landed men on the moon. But you never heard anyone say, “I want to be a professional bass fisherman.”

Another thing you never heard was that someone was going to sell water for a living. Can you imagine how your classmates would have reacted back in the 1970s if you had announced you were going to bottle and sell water? You would have been the center of all their jokes from that day forward. But it turns out, you would have gotten the last laugh, because you can become wealthy selling water.

You probably would have gotten the same reaction if you said you were going to be a professional bass fisherman. Today, this is a career choice for a select few. I have always compared it to being a professional athlete. The odds are not in your favor. Only one of every 10,000 baseball players in the country gets drafted and from that subgroup, only one of every 5,000 makes it to the big leagues.

It just might be the same odds for becoming a professional bass fisherman. There are thousands of anglers across the world who want to make it to the United States and become a professional angler. They’re not only trying to be the best in this country, but compete with anglers from Canada, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, and Australia for what amounts to about 80 slots in either BASS or the MLF Pro Tours.

Bass fishing has become an international sport and is extremely competitive for those who want to make a living doing it. Catching fish is only a small part of what it takes to fish for a living. Today, you must be good with social media, understand business, be a great salesman and be able to easily talk to people.

Now let’s look at the sacrifices you’ll have to make.

First, prepare to eat a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches while learning how to sleep in your truck or camp out to save money. Just to enter a BASS or MLF event will cost you at least $50,000 up front and you have not even wet a hook yet. Travel expenses today with gas, hotel and food is off the chart. Hence, the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and campgrounds to try and save money.

You’ll pull your boat all over the United States with constant wear and tear on your vehicle. Don’t forget, it takes gas to fill up your boat which is an easy $75 to $120 per fill-up, which includes all the practice and competition days. To be conservative, you’re probably looking at $100,000 to fish your first season. That means you need to finish in the top 50 in every event to collect a $10,000 check and break even. I’ve only known one angler to ever achieve this accomplishment.

If you’re a family man, this just might be the toughest career choice you can make as you will miss birthdays, anniversaries and some holidays. You will shed a lot of tears as you drive away from your wife and kids waving goodbye while you live the gypsy life away from home for days and weeks at a time.

I’m not trying to discourage anyone from pursuing their dreams, but understand, it’s one of the toughest and most competitive career choices you can ever make. It takes a special person to make it in today’s world as a professional angler.

You will need as many sponsors as you can land, and if this is your dream, start saving money now so that when you get that opportunity, money is not an issue. Anglers who are fishing just to get a check are the anglers who will struggle. Tournament fishing is kind of like gambling. Anglers who fish to win can take chances rather than worry about just making a check so they can fish the next event.

Finally, if you’re married, make sure you have a wife who understands how tough this lifestyle can be. Today, many of the wives act as business managers for their husbands and help with coordinating appearances and interviews that pro anglers are called to do. This allows the angler to stay focused on catching fish and being competitive.

I hope I’ve shed some light on what it takes to a professional bass fisherman. It’s not an easy life, but one that can have great rewards if done correctly. 

‘Til next time, good luck, good fishing, and think long and hard if you decide to pursue a career in the professional bass fishing world.

Contact Steve at sgraf26@yahoo.com

Robeline News: November 29

By Courtney Freeman

The Thanksgiving meal provided by the Robeline Little League and Mayor Gordon O’Con was a wonderful success. There was a good turn out and many to go plates were delivered also. We would like to thank Kay Palmer, Judy Lee, Doug Birdwell, Pam Jennings, Buffy Dees, Sabine Medical Center, Patty Moak, Judy Doyle, Frances Walker, Chris Winfree and the Marthaville school for their generous donations that made it possible.

As many can see the village is getting ready for Christmas in the Park on Saturday, Dec. 16. Many of the decorations have went up in the park and Texas street has been hung with some very nice Christmas flags. The celebration will kick off with a Christmas parade at 3 p.m. Contact city hall for any questions about entering a float for the parade.

Toys for the toy drive are also being gathered still. All donations are welcome and you can drop them off at city hall.

On Monday morning, Nov. 27, right after midnight Natchitoches Parish Fire District #7 received a page to a vehicle fully engulfed. A car straightened out while driving through the s curve as it was west bound on Hwy. 6. The driver exited the roadway and was unable to regain control of the vehicle and it hit the Sabine State Bank causing the vehicle to catch on fire. The driver was not seriously injured and was able to exit the vehicle and call 911 himself to report the fire. FD #7 was able to extinguish the car quickly. The bank took longer as the fire had gotten into the roof. The bank was extensively damaged.

As a resident of Robeline and patron of Sabine State Bank it is my dearest hope that Sabine will not cut their losses due to this accident and choose to abandon Robeline. They have been a staple in our village for many years and wonderful resource. The loss of the bank would impact many patrons who can’t or simply don’t want to travel 15 miles for their banking needs. 

Also on the subject on resources for Robeline residents, as many traveling through Robeline have noticed the clinic property has appeared inactive. This is due to hitting a snag. The site was once a gas station and has tanks in the ground. Initially it was believed that due to them being unused for many years they could be filled with sand and left. It has now become clear that is not the case and they must be fully removed. Plans are still moving forward if a little delayed. 

Goldonna News: November 29, 2023

Goldonna is quickly becoming the quaint Christmas destination. They are getting ready for a holly jolly Christmas in the Park!

The 2023 Goldonna Christmas In The Park Committee has been hard at work and have continued to meet weekly to iron out the details of the 2023 Festival. The Committee is chaired by Mayor Gayle Cloud. Those volunteering to serve this year: Jade Burke, Kristen Kelly, Alyssa Taylor, Billi Jo Johnson, Mikalee Sawyer, Miranda Bates, Eugene Garner, Sharlene Cloud and Reba Phelps. There are many exciting changes that will be announced over the next few weeks.

There will be many new vendors this year ranging from sweet treats to wood working, arts and crafts.

The 2nd Annual Gingerbread House Contest will be held in conjunction with the Christmas in the Park. All ages are invited and encouraged to participate. Age 3 and under will be decorated cookies instead of gingerbread houses. All can be turned in at The Store beginning Monday December 4th through Friday December 8th. Entires can be turned in at the Town Hall until 10:00am on Saturday December 9th.

Santa Claus will be at the Town Hall on Friday, December 8th from 5-7pm for those who cannot make it on Saturday. Split the Pot tickets will be available as well as other raffle tickets and door prizes. Live music will begin at 11:00am.

The parade will kick off a littler earlier this year with a start time of 4:30. Be sure to visit the Christmas in the Park, Golodnna, LA Facebook page for up to date parade routes. the fireworks show will begin at 7:00pm.

L&A Trail Inc, Louisiana Rails, is a non-profit, family oriented multi-recreational trail that is open for horseback riding, mules, wagons, hikers, bikers, joggers, bird watchers and ATV riders.

The Board of Directors for the 2023-24 year are: Lemar Evans, Julie Evans (Vice President), Charles Carroll, Sissy Harris, Tim Harris (President), Pam Harris (Secretary), Delane Fannin, Don Wells, Reed Franklin. Not present for the meeting and photograph: Vickie Pickett and Ted Riser.

The Board of Directors held a monthly meeting where they announced they will hold a raffle to raise funds that will be dedicated to the maintenance and preservation of the trails. They will be raffling an American Hunter 225 pound gravity feeder. Tickets are $2. There will be a second drawing for a one year membership to the trail. They can be purchased from any board member before the drawing on December 9th at Christmas In The Park.

If you have news to share please email Reba Phelps at jreba.phelps@gmail.com

Krewe of Excellence kicks off Christmas Toy Drive

The Krewe of Excellence announced it’s partnering with Emanuel Temple-#141 Masonic Lodge, Ben D. Johnson Educational Center and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity (Theta Delta Chapter) for its annual Christmas Toy Drive, which kicked-off on Nov. 28.

Children ages 3-12 in Natchitoches Parish will benefit from the (new) toys donated by the entities mentioned.

Toys will be collected at the following drop-off locations for public engagement:

Legacy Cafe’- 441 North Street

Ben D. Johnson Educational Center- 400 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.

ALL toys collected will be given to the Natchitoches Area Jaycees organization, which will sort and distribute the toys through a sign-up process assisted by the local school system.

The Krewe’s 2024 Torchbearers (high school senior leadership group) helped to coordinate and launch this year’s effort. The drive will end on Dec. 9. For information call Judith Walters, community service chairperson for the Krewe, at 318-663-4452.

Lions Club installs new members

The Natchitoches Lions Club welcomed a record-setting 10 new members during an Installation Ceremony on Nov. 27.

Lions International is the largest civic group in the world.  With over 1.4 million members, clubs serve in over 200 countries around the globe.  

The Natchitoches Club celebrated 80 years of organization this October.  Within the organizational structure, there have been nine District Governors, four Counsel Chairs and three Presidents of Lions Camp from the Natchitoches Lions Club.  

Natchitoches Lions participate in numerous community service projects such as pre-school eye screenings, Louisiana Lions Camp, Diabetic Education and Awareness programs as well as award scholarships to deserving Natchitoches Parish students who further their education at NSU.  These endeavors, and more, are funded through fundraising and philanthropy.  

Lion Don Brown, who has served in numerous capacities on a local, regional and state level, conducted the installation. “Thank you for your willingness to join and help us serve our community,” he shared.

Potential members are recommended and sponsored by a member who has served with the organization for at least one year.  Lion Jerry Silmon sponsored new members: Bill Buckley, Jr, Billy Clemons, Mark Kerry and Mickey Stroud.  Lion Mary Hooper sponsored new member Melissa Callia, Lion Kelli Sampson sponsored new members: Jennifer Anderson and Jessie Clark, Lion Nicole Connell sponsored new member Ashley Roque, Lion Sarah Giannone sponsored new member Kessler Barnes and Lion Susan Hilton sponsored new member Mattie Pratt.  

The Natchitoches Lions Club will host its next meeting on Monday, Dec. 4 with Rachel Claudia of the Pelican Institute as the guest speaker.  Anyone wishing to learn more about the Natchitoches Lions Club should reach out to any member or on social media at Natchitoches Lions Club.

Pictured are front row, left to right: Melissa Callia, Jennifer Anderson, Mattie Pratt, Jessie Clark, and Ashley Roque.  Back row, left to right: Susan Hilton, Mary Hooper, Kellie Sampson, Billy Clemons, Jerry Silmon, Mark Kerry, Mickey Stroud, Bill Buckley Jr and Nicole Connell. 

Boys to Men Club Collects Can Goods

The Boys to Men Club at NJH has spent the last three weeks collecting can goods to help feed the homeless during this holiday season.
A total of 255 cans of food will be given to the school’s JAG Department to combine with what they have collected in an attempt to fight hunger.
Show above is Jerrell Jackson, Latrell Frederick, Michael Thibodeaux, Brandon Jackson, Raelyn Alarcon, Caden Franklin, Director Jermaine Thomas, Jaylen LaCour, Kyle Cason, Tristen Llorence, Omar Bell, Brandon Williams, and Daylan Turner.
The Boys to Men Club is a non-profit 501(c)(3) service organization for 7th & 8th grade males at Natchitoches Junior High School. For more information on the club, contact Director Jermaine Thomas during school hours at (318) 238-0066 or email jermaine.thomas@npsb.la.

Rotary Club learns about Natchitoches’ newest thrift store

Rotarian with the program Lance Lopez introduced Rolling Hills ministries Thrift Store Manager Jessica McGrath at the Nov. 28 luncheon. McGrath welcomes all donated items, even furniture at the thrift store, located at 400 University Parkway in Natchitoches. Pictured from left are Lopez, McGrath, and Rotary President Joe Sers (Photo by Dr. Ron McBride).

Vehicle crashes into, destroys Sabine State Bank branch in Robeline

Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Deputies, Louisiana State Fire Marshal (LSFM) and Robeline Police Department are investigating a single-vehicle crash in the City Limits of Robeline that resulted in minor injuries and the Sabine State Bank-Robeline Branch being destroyed by fire early this morning according to Natchitoches Parish Sheriff Stuart Wright.
Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Deputies responded to NATCOM 911 Center reports of an alarm activation at Sabine State Bank branch in Robeline on Nov. 27 around 12:13 am.
While deputies were responding to the scene at 12:18 am, a male called NATCOM 911 Center reporting he was involved in a single-vehicle crash near Robeline stating that his vehicle was on fire and he was injured.
NATCOM 911 Operators were able to ping the caller’s 911 call to the same area as Sabine State Bank.
Robeline Police, Natchitoches Parish Fire Protection District #7, Robeline Mayor Gordon Ocon, and Natchitoches Regional Medical Center EMS were also dispatched to the scene.
Deputies arrived on scene finding the vehicle involved in the crash and Sabine State Bank fully engulfed in flames.
Deputies say according to preliminary information and evidence gathered at the scene, a 2019 Honda Civic operated by Jay Stroble, 21 of Muskogee, Okla., was traveling westbound on Hwy. 6 in Robeline when he entered a S-curve. Stroble exited the road on the right side and traveled several hundred feet before he struck Sabine State Bank coming to a rest.
Stroble was able to exit the vehicle. The vehicle caught on fire then spread to the bank causing extensive damage to the bank.
Stroble was assessed at the scene by EMS and released without transport.
The Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office also responded to the scene at the request of Natchitoches Parish Fire District #7 to assist in the investigation.
SWEPCO responded to the scene.
This morning, Robeline Police, Mayor Ocon and officials from Sabine State Bank were at the scene assessing damages and removing items from the building.
The investigation remains active and ongoing by the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office, Louisiana State Fire Marshal, Natchitoches Parish Fire Protection District #7 with assistance from Robeline Police Department.

NSU expects to name new football coach today

FINDING NEW LEADERSHIP:  Hiring a new head coach appears imminent for the troubled Northwestern State football program. (Photo by CHRIS REICH, Northwestern State)

By DOUG IRELAND, Journal Sports

Finally, there’s upbeat news expected about the Northwestern State football program.

The Demons are on the verge of hiring a new head coach, with an announcement expected today, according to athletics director Kevin Bostian.

The deal should be done this morning, he said, with an announcement shortly afterward and an introduction of the new coach on campus anticipated Wednesday.

That will be followed Friday morning by groundbreaking for the multi-million dollar David and Sherry Morgan Health Performance Center adjoining NSU’s Donald G. Kelly Athletic Fieldhouse, providing a long-sought modern and spacious strength training and wellness facility. NSU’s weightroom has remained the same size since the fieldhouse opened in 1979, just as women’s athletics was beginning to emerge and when football squad sizes were half of the 115-man rosters today.

While the Morgans made the lead gift of $1.5 million in spring 2022, it’s taken a while to blend state funding and related processes to reach the groundbreaking milepost.

It has officially been just over a month since NSU entered the market for a new football coach. NSU president Dr. Marcus Jones and Bostian announced Oct. 26 that the final four games of the 2023 season were cancelled and sixth-year head coach Brad Laird had resigned in the wake of the Oct. 12 shooting death of junior safety Ronnie Caldwell Jr. at a nearby off-campus apartment complex.

Northwestern, as it has done under Jones beginning with the search ending with Bostian’s hiring in January 2022, contracted with Dallas-based Bowlsby Sports Advisors to identify and vet candidates for the coaching post.

“The search process was exhaustive and thus far productive. We had a deep, talented pool of applicants from across the country,” said Bostian. “We have whittled down the number of applicants to those we felt would best fit what our next head football coach should be.

“After gauging and vetting all candidates’ interest, it became clear to us how we needed to proceed and brought us to where we are now. Our goal is to have this wrapped up by Tuesday morning.”

While some former NSU assistant coaches were interviewed for the post, the new coach appears to have no prior ties to the Demons’ program, sources said. Bostian declined to address specifics of the search on Monday.

It’s been just under seven weeks since Caldwell’s death, which remains under investigation by the Natchitoches Police Department. Two people have been arrested on drug and weapons charges related to the probe, officials said, but no charge has been filed for the slaying.

Caldwell’s parents filed a lawsuit for unspecified damages on Oct. 27 against the university, Laird and The Quad apartment complex, where the shooting occurred. There were no witnesses, authorities confirmed.

The Demons’ Oct. 14 game at Nicholls was cancelled, but the team played Oct. 19 at home in a 37-20 loss to Southeastern Louisiana. The rest of the season was surprisingly cancelled the following Thursday, Oct. 26, two days before NSU was to visit old rival McNeese for the Cowboys’ homecoming.

Jones cited mental health concerns for Caldwell’s teammates as the reason for the unprecedented move. It ended a winless six-game season.

Contact Doug at sbjdoug@gmail.com

City Council approves garbage collection contract with Waste Connections Bayou

At its Nov. 27 meeting the Natchitoches City Council approved a contract for the collection, hauling, and disposal of municipal solid waste, construction and demolition waste with Waste Connections Bayou Inc. This company’s original contract with the City was approved around 10 years ago. When the company bought its fleet of trucks to service Natchitoches, the vehicles cost around $350,000. Now looking at getting new trucks, the cost has risen to around $450,000. Add to the the increase in the volume of trash being picked up as more people started to stay home through the pandemic and paying employees.

Increases in the garbage rates for residents reflect the overall inflation that’s being experienced by companies across the nation.

Other agenda items included:


#068  Smith Ordinance Amending Ordinance No. 64 Of 2001 By Changing Zoning Classification Of Property Described As Follows: 34.02 Acres-being described as –15 Ares in section 10, Township 8 North-Range 7 West Shown as Tract “C” on Plat in Map Slide 396-B and 19.02 Acres in section 10, Township * North-Range 7 West as Shown on Plat in Conveyance Book 520, Page 314. And 8.36 Acres-located in section 10, Township 8 North-=Range 7 West, shown as Tract B-1-A (Containing 7.36 Acres) and Tract B-1-B Conveyance Book 703, page 700 (201 Bayou Country Dr.)


#069 Elie Ordinance Establishing A 3 Month Moratorium Upon The Receipt And Processing Of All Applications For Occupational License And Any Other License Or Permit For Operation Of Short Term Rental In The City Of Natchitoches, Setting A Public Hearing Date And Further Providing With Respect Thereto

#070  Petite Ordinance To Designate Funds From The American Rescue Plan For Use By The City Of Natchitoches To Assist The Historic District Business Association With Funding For Additional Security For The 2023 Christmas Festival Season; Authorizing The Execution Of Any And All Documents Necessary To Properly Effectuate Such Purchases; And Otherwise Providing With Respect Thereto.


#072   Nielsen Ordinance Declaring Building Dilapidated And/Or In A Dangerous Condition And An Order Of Condemnation And Demoliton Of The Same

#073   Harrington Ordinance Authorizing The City Of Natchitoches To Enact An Ordinance Repealing Sections 107-108 Of The 2021 International Property Management Code


#109   Elie Resolution Authorizing The Mayor To Execute Change Order No. 1 To The Contract Between The City Of Natchitoches And Watson Well Drilling Construction, LLC., For The Water Distribution And Production System Improvements; Powhatan Connection (Contract I, Water Well); LCDBG FY 2020-2021 Potable Water Improvements SCC Project No. 3080 (BID NO. 0651)

#110   Petite Resolution Authorizing The Mayor To Execute A Certificate OfSubstantial Completion To The Contract Between The City Of Natchitoches And Watson Well Drilling And Construction, LLC For Water Distribution And Production System Improvements; Powhatan Connection (Contract I, Water Well); LCDBG FY 2020 (BID NO.   0651)

#111   Nielsen Resolution Authorizing The Mayor To Execute A Certificate OfSubstantial Completion To The Contract Between The City Of Natchitoches And ASB Utility Construction, LLC For Water Distribution And Production System Improvements; Powhatan Connection (Contract II, Water Mains And Site Work); LCDBG FY 2020 (BID NO.   0652)

#112  Harrington Resolution To Authorize An Agreement By And Between SmartBroadband, Inc. And The City Of Natchitoches Providing For Equitable, Reliable Broadband Access Across America Through Design, Build, Financing, Operation Of Broadband Networks, Smart City Applications, Addressing Digital Equity And Inclusion, Economic/Workforce Development, And Digital Transformation; And Otherwise Providing With Respect Thereto


The next scheduled City Council meeting will be Monday, December 11, 2023.

PODCAST: Natchitoches Mayor Ronnie’s Williams announces his candidacy for re-election and his administration’s crime policy

Mayor Ronnie Williams

Mayor Williams addresses his accomplishments and plans for Natchitoches moving forward

Dear New NCIF Board, As You Begin Your Work, I Offer Some Observations:

By Edwin Crayton/Opinion

First, congratulations. It really is quite an honor for anyone to be chosen to help improve the place where they live, work, play and worship God (and I hope you do worship him). But the Bible reminds us that to whom much is given, much is expected (Luke 12:48).

You have a job to do.  On any job, the first thing anyone needs to know is who the boss is. It’s tempting to believe that the NCIF board is your boss. Wrong. All of the people who live in the city of Natchitoches are your boss.   Every single one of them of every color, class and walk of life. This is their money. It was awarded to them through a settlement after Tennessee Gas was sued because of a spill of dangerous pcbs into Sibley Lake. Put their interests first, even above your own ambitions and desires and you will do a good job. On the other hand, put your interests above theirs and you will not do a good job. In fact, you will have trouble and may even end up doing something that may cause you to be penalized, or even jailed.

Read your NCIF Bylaws. They are there to help guide you in your work. They are actually very good.  You may not have to change much.   I do believe they need to be amended to make sure people do not try to overstay their terms. Maybe there needs to be penalties or something. You figure it out.

Forget the past. Don’t live in yesterday. What happened is behind you and is over. Focus on what’s ahead.  Be careful about thinking about this as a board of “old” board members and “new” board members.  Two separate tribes. That only creates two or more groups leading to divisions.  I seem to remember the judge stressing the need to unify the board and that it is important to try to work together.  Amen, brother.  Yes, have a point of view and don’t become yes men and yes women. Disagree. But don’t try to be disagreeable. Be willing to listen to the opposing view.

Let the public have input. In the past, at quarterly meetings, NCIF made decisions before allowing the pubic to comment. This effectively froze out public involvement, That is undemocratic and unfair, especially since the money was designated to go to the public. Any governmental organization I’ve seen that handles public funds allows the public to have a say in decisions before that body takes a vote. Look at city council meetings. They operate that way. It works well. Sure, NCIF is not a government agency,  true, but it still handles funds designated to go to the public. Therefore, shouldn’t it be held to the same standard of public accountability?

Don’t try to personally profit from your time of service and you’ll excel. There are many ways to profit without taking money from a fund. Board members can help their friends or organizations they are involved with. Yes, NCIF has a conflict of interest policy, but humans are creative. In the end, trying to profit instead of focusing on serving will backfire one way or the other.  On the other hand, developing an attitude of serving the people and putting self aside, will allow the board to have the vision to fund some outstanding ideas from the people of Natchitoches.  People have come up to me and suggested marvelous ideas that NCIF could fund.

Respect the orders of the court. Judge Peters made it clear that this board, which is an interim one, will be supervised and must meet goals and follow guidelines. A master of the court, will supervise meetings.  Judge Peters left no doubt that violating his orders can land someone in jail.  But even if it were not the case, why mess around? This is a great opportunity to help improve Natchitoches and help a lot of people with dreams and assist others who are in need.

Board members who are Christians: remember to put God first and seek his advice and surrender your will to Jesus. This will also work for board members who are not Christians. Power is like a drug. It must be regulated or bad things happen. It is also addictive. One side effect is you may start to get a “big head”. If that happens, pray to God to help you. Read your Bible daily. And consider asking yourself when making decisions, “What would Jesus do?” Better yet, ask him before deciding.

I wish you all well. I am praying for your success. 

The following 15 board members have been picked by Judge Jimmie Peters (District 10 Court) to serve on an interim basis. Harold Bayonne, Brenda Milner, Rene Porter, Elton Wade, Jerry Walters, David White, Tankea Palmer, Marvin Blake Jr., Takesha Barnum, Hyman Young, Deborah Roque, Courtney Villian, Ernest Sawyer, Linda Franklin, and Helen Obioha.

Angels, Belles and Miss Merry Christmas herself get City Council in holiday spirit

The Natchitoches City Council was introduced to the 2023 Christmas Angels, Miss Merry Christmas, and her Christmas Belles at its Nov. 27 meeting, singing their special songs of cheer for this holiday season.

Christmas Angels:
Sophie Moreau – Pre-K
Lorelei Williams – K
Cashlyn LaCaze – 1St
AuBrey Smith – 2nd
Jeriann Vickers – 3rd
Sophie Bynog – 4th
Charlee Rodriguez – 5th
Corbyn Gandy – 6th
Jolee Shea – 7th
Lilly Warner – 8th

Miss Merry Christmas:

Victoria Wiggins

Christmas Belles:

Emerson Cain
Johanna Smith
Megan Helaire
Lora Cole
Taylor Eubanks
Molly Coleman
Alyssa Robertson
Elliana Van Sickle


By Doug De Graffenried

I need to talk with my fellow Walmart shoppers. 

First, I wish to commend those of you who shop online and sit in your car with your trunks up, waiting. You are my heroes! I have tried to figure out how to do that, and I have failed on multiple occasions. I gave up. However, you need to go inside and see what happens with all those employees shopping for you. There are multiple employees filling multiple orders simultaneously. Rule number one of Walmart shopping, you don’t get in their way! They can’t see you. They are super busy and moving fast. Always yield to the employees pushing the multi-basket blue carts. I will tell you a secret, these people know where everything is. If you can’t find something, ask them; but ask politely and quickly. They are in a hurry because someone is in the parking lot with the trunk open, waiting patiently.

Now, for our talk. I’m a guy. I shop like a guy. If I have three items to purchase, I’m going to shop quickly and efficiently. If I go into the store for dog treats, I am not going to go visit the hair care product section. When I check out, I have all the codes turned the right way so I can scan quickly. I like to shop and check out quickly. I don’t want to keep the family behind me waiting.

In the past couple of weeks, I have shopped for Thanksgiving. I have been sent with lists of specific items. Some of the food items are hard to find this time of year. Here is what I want to say to my fellow Walmart shoppers. It is hard to look for an item squirreled away on a top shelf, with some of you guys in the store.

Don’t go to Walmart to read. If you are a label reader, go online and read the labels there. C’mon people, there is no significant difference between Libby’s corn and Delmonte corn. Grab the corn and go. If you grabbed the wrong corn and it has too much sodium, well that is why God created colanders and rinse water. If you are reading labels on the vitamin aisle, you are abominable. The vitamins will not restore your hair, fix your joints, restore your hearing, or make you look twenty-five again. You have been duped, move on! There is nothing worse than two people with full carts standing back-to-back reading labels. We are waiting for you to finish so we can move past you.

Walmart is not the place to have your family reunion. I know that some of you have not seen each other for two weeks but having a family reunion at the end cap on the baking row is not pleasing to anyone. You are causing a traffic jam. The people wanting to turn on that aisle can’t. The people wanting to leave that aisle can’t. My friend is waiting for groceries in the parking lot, and you are holding up the Walmart shoppers. Say hi and move on! Agree to meet in the laundry basket section, no one ever shops there. You can talk all day. You can swap recipes and your list of ailments there.

Sorry to grouse, but you guys need to keep your heads down, grab your items, and go. Walmart is not the place for reading, reunions, catching up, or trying to decide. In Greek, Walmart means “grab it and go!” It is a place of commerce not communion.

The next time, I’m in Walmart waiting on all the people not heeding this great article. I’m going to smile and remember that we have entered the season of Advent. It is the church season of waiting. We are waiting for our Christ. I promise, now that I have groused, that I will be smiling knowing that you help me learn patience while waiting for Bethlehem’s baby.

Lady Demons host SUNO to close three-game home stand

Northwestern State will close out its three-game home stand on Tuesday evening looking for its second straight win to close out the first month of the season.  

The Demons (1-4) host Southern-New Orleans in their third all-time meeting, the first since the 2009-10 season, with the Knights on ESPN+ beginning at 6:30 p.m. 

The NSU women’s basketball food drive will continue during the game allowing fans to bring non-perishable food items to the game that will be donated to the NSU food bank once the drive concludes following the Dec. 6 game against Tarleton. 

NSU is looking to parlay its dominant second-half performance in Saturday’s 82-41 over Arkansas Baptist into longer in-game success which will ideally breed more success through the season. 

While not a disappointing start to the game on Saturday, as NSU led from the opening tipoff and opening shot, the noticeable difference in performance and production from the first 20 minutes to the second is something head coach Anna Nimz wants to see from the very start. 

“We played a tremendous second half on Saturday,” Nimz said. “We want to keep building on that and turn that into three quarters and two full halves of good basketball. That starts with being more consistent with the execution of our scouts, on both the offensive and defensive ends. We had that over most of that final 20 minutes against Arkansas Baptist but want to see it from the start of the game as well. If we can do that and maintain that fight and grit we saw as well, we’re going to continue to get better and better as the season goes.” 

The Demons pulled down 25 offensive rebounds in the game, the most in a game in two seasons, and outscored the Buffaloes 51-18 in the second half. It was the most points scored in the second half of a game since the 2018-19 season. 

Sharna Ayres’ 15-point third quarter led the way for the Demons in the offensive onslaught as she secured her third straight double-digit scoring effort of the season, thanks to three or more made 3-pointers in each of those outings. 

Ayres was scoreless entering the half on seven attempts but exploded for 15 in the quarter on 4-of-5 shooting from the field making 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. 

“I noticed that I was rushing my shot a little in the first half,” Ayres said after the game on Saturday. “I just needed to take my time with it and they started falling.”  

She leads the team in scoring through the first five game at 12.4 per game, the seventh highest average in the Southland Conference. Along with Jiselle Woodson, the Demons have two players ranked in the top four in the conference in made 3-pointers per game with Ayres at 2.4 and Woodson at 2.0. 

The Knights bring their own deep threat to the game in the way of their top scorer Jordan Harris. She is averaging 15.0 points per game and converting nearly 40 percent of her shots from beyond the arc. 

In the Knights’ game at Nicholls earlier this season, Harris scored 23 of SUNO’s 52 points going 5-for-8 from beyond the arc in the game and 7-for-14 from the field. She was held to just nine points in their loss to Southeastern.