State auditors find financial irregularities on part of Town of Eros officials

Per a report issued by the State of Louisiana Auditors Office, the Mayor of the Town of Eros, a maintenance operator and the former police chief provided inaccurate and incomplete information to the Louisiana Workforce Commission to get COVID-19 pandemic unemployment benefits.

Addtional findings were also discovered that excess compensation was paid to town employees and officials, utility payments were received but not deposited into the town’s bank accounts and that the town should not be classified as a town at all.

Mayor, police chief, maintenance worker claimed more than $11K in unemployment each

The Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s office said in September 2021, the office received a complaint from former Police Chief Aaron Rayburn that he, Mayor Kelly Gryder and two other public employees improperly received unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic while working for the town. The Legislative Auditor initiated an investigative audit to determine the validity of this complaint.

Auditors found the Louisiana Workforce Commission paid $13,047 in unemployment benefits to the mayor, $11,633 to Maintenance Operator Brian Costin and $11,406 to former Police Chief Aaron Rayburn between April 13 and Sept. 18, 2020. The three claimed they worked for Aaron Rayburn Enterprises LLC to claim the state benefits.

The investigation found the third person accused did not work for pay received from the town during that period, though they did claim to work for the same LLC and may have received benefits based on work with another employer.

Auditors reviewed town payroll records and bank statements, which show Gryder and Costin each received their regular payroll checks from the town while they received unemployment benefits from April to September 2020. During this period, the town paid Gryder her salary of $456 per week and paid Costin’s regular salary, which was $460 per week, then increased to $500 per week.

These records confirmed that payroll checks issued to Gryder and Costin were not processed through the computerized accounting system but were handwritten and appear to have been issued by Gryder, auditors said.

Initially, Gryder and Costin said they didn’t apply for benefits or know that any had been obtained in their names.

Later, both said they applied for benefits under Rayburn’s instruction, with him present and providing the details they’d need.

Gryder, in her response, also said the idea to write the checks and navigate around the paper payroll system was Rayburn’s and he wanted to get enough people to apply to help under his company to get Paycheck Protection Program money.

Rayburn disputed those findings in a written response to the audit. Writing in the third person, Rayburn said he earned no income from the town while receiving unemployment benefits.

“During the time he was receiving unemployment benefits, had Mr. Rayburn received his regular income, it would have been only $500 per month,” Rayburn wrote. “Again, he did not receive this money. As the money he would have received from the Town of Eros was nominal at best, he felt that he should not receive any money while he was receiving unemployment.”

He also said he didn’t know the others used his LLC to apply for benefits.

The auditors hold that the trio “may have violated state law.”

Auditors found that between April 9, 2019, and Dec. 28, 2021, the town paid the mayor and other town employees excess compensation totaling $7,930.

“This amount included improper leave payouts totaling $7,080 and Christmas bonuses totaling $850,” the audit read. “During this period, these employees/officials did not complete timesheets and may not have been entitled to leave benefits. Further, the payment of Christmas bonuses may have violated the Louisiana Constitution, which prohibits the donation of public funds. The payment of excess compensation to Town employees/officials may have violated the Louisiana Constitution and state law.”

$28,000.00 in utility payments weren’t deposited

Auditors found town records indicated utility payment transactions totaling $28,088 were received and/or recorded in the utility system but were not deposited into the town’s bank accounts between Jan. 1, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2021.

“During this period, Mayor Gryder and four different Town clerks were responsible for handling utility collections,” the audit read. “Records show that the Town did not issue receipts for all payments collected and failed to deposit collections daily into the Town’s bank account. By failing to ensure that all monies were properly documented and deposited on a daily basis, Mayor Gryder may have violated state law.”

In her response, Gryder disputed the result of the audit.

“The town … had a single audit done for the year in question and he did not find any of these things so it’s hard to understand why he didn’t find what you all found when he had the same paperwork,” Gryder wrote. “The town paid $9,000 for that audit.”

Population means the town is actually a Village

The auditor also said that the town should be properly classified as a village.

“Because the Town has less than 1,000 inhabitants, state law requires the Board to adopt a resolution requesting the governor to change its classification to the appropriate classification based on the Town’s current population,” the audit read.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Eros in the 2020 census was 130, down from 155 in 2010.

Census data shows the town had over 1,000 residents in 1920 and was the largest town in Jackson Parish when a sawmill operated in the area. The sawmill moved to Olla in 1926, however, and the population fell to 203 in 1930.

Eros has not been home to more than 285 residents in any census since.

This article originally appeared on Monroe News-Star: Audit: Eros mayor, town officials received unemployment while getting paid during COVID


The Sabine Sweep! JP11U wins three straight to claim District 8 championship

Three up. Three down. It is what a coach likes to see when his pitcher is on the mound. It meant even more to head coach Nick Tolar when it represented the number of teams his 11U All Star team played and beat at the Dixie Youth District 8 Tournament held in Many. By virtue of the “tri-fecta,” JP11U brings home the district championship and qualifies for the state tournament that will be held in July in Monroe. 

JP11U opened the tourney by slipping past home standing Sabine Parish by a 7-6 score. In the second contest the locals beat Buckeye 4-1 setting up a rematch with Sabine that went much like the first including JP11U winning by one run, this time by an 8-7 margin. 

Jackson Parish 7 Sabine Parish 6: Bryce Tolar and Hayden Seymore both got two hits, scored a run and knocked another in to help Jackson Parish early on. It was hits by Asher Rhodes and Kolt Keiffer, coupled with a walk to Rylan Mauthe, Aiden Rhodes getting hit by a pitch and Eli Henderson reaching base on what was ruled as a fielders choice despite no one getting out that plated two runs and proved to be the difference in extra innings to win it. 

Sngles by Tolar, Seymore and Dawson Griffin gave JP11U a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth but Sabine scored three in their half of the inning to retake the lead. The locals came right back in the top of the fifth with three of their own thanks to walks to Aiden Rhodes and Henderson and an error off the bat of Braydon Robinson, who later scored on Tolar’s scond hit of the game. 

Sabine tied it in the bottom of the sixth but hayden Seymore buckled down to end the inning with the bases loaded. The “home-standers” looked poised to tie it up again in the bottom of the seventh by scoring a run and having another on third with two outs but that is where Leyton Younse left him by striking out the final batter.  Of special note Jackson Parish swiped 12 bases in the game.  

TEAM1234567RHE
Jackson Parish 0002302782
Sabine Parish1003011694

RS – Tolar, Seymore, Asher Rhodes, Mauthe, Aiden Rhodes, Henderson, Robinson, 
RBI – Tolar, Seymore, Griffin, Aiden Rhodes, henderson
SB – Griffin 2,Tolar 2, Seymore 2, Aiden Rhodes 2, Henderson, Norton, Robinson, Asher Rhodes

Jackson Parish 4 Buckeye 1: Tucker Goss, Leyton Younse and Hayden Seymore limited Buckeye to just two hits and one first inning run and JP11U scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to take the victory. JP11U manufactured the tying run in the third when Braydon Robinson and River Norton coaxed walks and that led to Robinson scoring after Tolar bunted him to third and Seymore hit a grounder to first. 

In the bottom of the fifth Aiden Rhodes and Bryce Tolar walked before Seymore singled to give JP11U a one run lead. Dawson Griffin followed with his second hit of the game to load the bases before Goss  coaxed a walk to force Tolar and Eli Hendersonhit a grounder to third that plated Seymore. 

TEAM12345RHE
Buckeye10000120
Jackson Parish00103465

2B – Keiffer
RBI – Seymore 2, Goss, Henderson
RS – Tolar, Seymore. Aiden Rhodes, Robnison
SB – Goss

Jackson Parish 8 Sabine 7: it was de ja vu all over again in the championship game as ust like in the first game between the two, Jackson Parish scored two runs in the top half of the final frame and left Sabine with the tying run in scoring position to end the game. This time around though the home-standers were there own worst enemy in the final frame as a misguided attempt to steal third got thwarted by catcher Eli Henderson just before a double was hit that would have scored the runner with the tying run..

JP11U went up 8-6 in the top of the sixth when Bryce Tolar hit a double for his third hit of the game and then scored when Dawson Griffijn reached first on a passed ball after striking out. Tucker Goss then reached base for the third time in the game and plated Griffin with a single. 

Early on it looked like the locals would cake walk to the title as they broke out to a 5-0 lead after three at bats on runs by Griffin, Aiden and Asher Rhodes, Rylan Mauthe and Goss. SAbine would battle back to tie it at five each in the bottom of the third and both teams added a run in the fourth, JP11U getting theirs when Tolar singled, stole second and scored on back to back groundouts.  Once again Jackson Parish ran wild on the bases stealing nine in this one which gave them 21 total in the two games against Sabine

TEAM123456RHE
Jackson Parish131102872
Sabine Parish005101754

2B – Tolar
RBI – Tolar, Griffin, Goss, Henderson, Keiffer, Mauthe
RS – Tolar 2, Griffin 2, Goss, Asher Rhodes, Aiden Rhodes, Mauthe
SB – B Tolar 2, Aiden Rhodes 2, T Goss 2, E Henderson 2, Asher Rhodes


Library Board adopts plans for new Interactive Park and Play area at Jonesboro Branch

Have you ever been to a library where the staff invited you to run around and make some noise? When the Jackson Parish Library Board adopted the plans of a new interactive park and play area at the Jonesboro Branch on Monday during their regularly scheduled monthly meeting that is exactly what young patrons will be allowed to do.

Welcome to the Jackson Parish Library of the 21st Century!

The amenities you are able to make use of is a far cry from what past generations had at their disposal. This is due to the vision and creativity of the directors, managers and staff at both the Jonesboro and Chatham branches which has elevated the experience of visiting a library to a whole new level. 

Jackson Parish residents not only have the ability to make use of a plethora of written resources but also modern day technology and creative activities that is second to none in the state. This “out of the box” thinking has now taken your enjoyment ability completely “out of the building.”

Making use of the grassy area on the south and west end of building, the new interactive park and play area will soon feature a place where children of all ages, including those with special needs, will have a fun, safe and secure place to enjoy. The park will be open seven days a week from daylight to dusk and will be free for the public to use.

Surrounded by a concrete retainer wall that will have a four foot tall chain link fence along the top the park will offer four seperate activity areas all designed to give patrons the ability to enjoy the outdoors, expand their motor skills and have a place the family can come and enjoy without breaking the bank. 

“What is awesome about this is it doesn’t exclude any child but includes the ability for all kids to enjoy it, including those with special needs,” said Jonesboro Branch Manager Angela Walsworth, who has been the driving force in seeing vision become a reality. “It also gives parents an option to take their kids to a fun place that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. This will be free to our patrons and as a mother, I know how hard it is today to find a fun and safe place like that.”

The park amenities will include:

(1) Concerto Group Area: For those who like to make music there will be congo drums, cabasas, chimes, vibes and a xylophone.
(2) Activity Area: This includes a sensory zig zag path, sp;inatorium, momentum corridor, dynamic lab, odessy wall, tranquility corner and grand gallery. Each is designed to include the ability for children with special needs to use and incorporates feel and touch activities as well as use of moter skills.
(3) Happy to Chat Area: Borrowing from an idea that flourished in Europe during the Coronavirus Pandemic, when sitting in this area you are inviting other to come an share in conversation. 

To see the actual activity area modules click here. 

The meeting began with board members Judy Cooper, Ann Standley, Lisa Nunn, Vicki Jenkins, Carol Massey and JPL Director Floyd Knox welcoming new board member Robin Tew. The group then authorized Director Knox to request the Police Jury to give their approval for library park and play area
and, if approved, begin the advertising for bids process. It was also agreed to advertise for sponsorships of benches and bricks in the park. In final action the board agreed to adopt and investment policy for the Library. The next regulalry scheduled meeting is set for Monday, July 18th. 

Interactive playground and park plans submitted by Architect W.L. Coco of Coco & Company 


Three for three! Jackson Parish 10U All Stars off to great start at district tourney

Jena, Tioga and Grant Parish have all taken their shot at the Jackson Parish 10U All-Stars at the Dixie Youth District Tournament being played in Jena. All have fallen. It has been a perfect beginning to the tourney for the “dandy dozen” who is now just two wins away from bringing home the district championship and just one victory away from qualifying for the state tourney. They best part is that each of the remaining games will be against one of the teams the locals have already beaten. 

 Jackson Parish 11 Jena 6: In a contest that more swings in it than a school playground JP10U broke open the back and forth game by exploding for six runs in the top of the sixth inning to put away the game home standers.

Talk about a ride on the emotional rollercoaster. 

UP: JP10U scored two runs in the top of the first without getting a hit as Bentley Ponder and Mason Thomas opened the game by coaxing walks. Both advanced a base on a fly out to right field and again on a wild pitch that scored Ponder. Thomas then tallied on a Jake Moak grounder.
DOWN:  With two outs in the bottom of the first, Jena tied the score on a walk, error and a base hit.
UP: Cason Rogers gunned down a Jena base runner to end the inning.
DOWN: A couple of walks and fielding errors leads to Jena scoring three runs without getting a hit in the bottom of the third inning.
UP: Locals tie it up at 5 each in the top of the fifth thanks to keen eyes and quick feet by Raylon Bradford, Thomas, Noah Spillman, Moak and Rogers, who all drew walks. 
DOWN: A pair of clutch hits by Jena gave the home team what looked like a possible game winning lead.
UP: Just when it looked like Jena had all the momentum JP10U grabbed it back by tagging out a Jena baserunner who was attempting to steal home to end the inning and keep the locals just one run down. 
BIG UP!!!!! JP10 got only two hits the entire ballgame.  That was in the third inning. Yet it was another hit, this one when the Jena pitcher plunked Jaxon Cheatwood that started the ball rolling that led to six runs being scored before the first out was made in the final frame. Again all the damage was done by the team being patient and earning base on balls. Five of them in fact, all in a row, right after the pitcher hit Cheatwood. Waylon Sullivan was the first to walk followed by Bradford, Ponder, Thomas and Spillman

TEAM123456RHE
Jackson Parish2000361126
Jena203010630

Jackson Parish 14 Tioga 7: Jackson Parish burst out of the gates to score three in the first and second inning and then played Tioga basically even the rest of the way to move to 2-0 in tourney play. Once again it was walks that led to runs, especially in the first two frames but in this one JP10U also brought out the heavy lumber and showed their fleet of foot on the base paths.

Mason Thomas and Noah Spillman both drew walks in the first and scored on the locals first extra base hit of the tourney when Jake Moak, who would advance to third on an error and score and then steal home, smoked a double to center. 

Walks, stolen bases and passed balls brought home Raylon Bradford, Jaxon Cheatwood and Waylon Sullivan at JP10U extended the lead to 6-0 after two. Mason Thomas made it 7-0 in the third when he hit a single, advanced on an error and scored on a hit by Spillman. Bradford would push the lead to 8-0 in the top of the fourth when he hit a single stole second and third then scored on Cheatwood’s base hit.

Cason Rogers was the first to “leave the yard” in the tourney for JP10U to up the lead to 10-1 before Tioga scored four in the bottom half of the fifth to close the gap to five runs.  Once again the locals blew it open with a big sixth inning as Jensen Waggoner and Moak hit singles, Rayn Sandifer got hit and Bentley Ponder drew a walk which led to four runs. 

JP10U scored in every inning to stretch their streak of scoring a run in consectutive frames to eight. The locals also totaled nine hits compared to just four for Tioga who struggled at the plate against four JP10U pitchers.

TEAM123456RHE
Jackson Parish3311241494
Tioga000142746

2B – Moak
HR – Rogers
RBI – Moak 2, Rogers 2, Spillman, Cheatwood, Waggoner
RS – Spillman 3, Bradford 2, Thomas 2, Ponder, Moak, Rogers, Cheatwood, Sullivan, Waggoner, Sandifer
SB – Bradford 3, Cheatwood, Sullivan

Jackson Parish 7 Grant 6: Due it once you may be considered lucky. Twice is good but still may be a fluke. Do it three times and you have established a reputation. What the JP10U team has done is prove that when the game is on the line they are at their best. For the third game ain a row the sixth and final inning belonged to the locals this time allowing for the one run victory.  

The hero in this one was Hayden Essmeier who reached base three times. It was his run in the top of the second that got JP10U on the books after spotting Grant a 6-0 lead. Then he drove in a run in the third and single handedly scored the winner in the sixth by reaching on an error, advancing to second on a passed ball and then stole third and home. Two more who played vital roles in the impressive comeback was Jake Moak and Bentley Ponder who combined to thrown 5 2/3 innings of no run ball while striking out nine between them to allow for JP10U to rally. 

It was the third inning where JP10U did most of their damage and scored five runs to tie the game at six each. Ryan Sandifer got hit by a pitch to open the frame followed by Ponder and Mason Thomas walking to load the bases. Singles by Noah Spillmand and Moak brought in three runs before Cason Rogers, who would later score on an error off the bat of Essmeier plated another with a double.

TEAM123456R HE
Jackson Parish015001744
Grant600000675

2B – Rogers
RBI – Spillman 2, Moak, Essmeier
RS – Essmeier 2,  Ponder, Thomas, Moak, Rogers, Sandifer
SB – Essmeier 2, Waggoner 1


Ecstasy of “dream offer” from LSU goes beyond football for Xavier Atkins

Xavier Atkins’ smile felt audible through the phone.

Coaches from home-state, “dream school” LSU called to officially extend an eagerly awaited scholarship offer. The significance to the 2024 Jonesboro-Hodge star, one of Louisiana’s top rising junior prospects, extended well beyond football.

“It’s amazing, because my friend (LaJavion Nichols) wanted to play at LSU,” Atkins said. “And he died, which broke my heart. But when they offered, it was like I’m carrying on and living his dream, so it made me feel like I was doing something right.”

“It was a big impact getting this offer,” continued Atkins. “It means a lot not just for me, but for the community and for my friend’s mom, because she knew her son wanted to play at LSU, too.”

A tragic car accident last July claimed the lives of Nichols, fellow friend and teammate, Javious Holden and LaJavion’s older sister, Lajermanique Nichols and left the stunned community to rally together and support one another.

Atkins previously said he felt that impact throughout the fall as he and the Tigers mounted arguably their best season in decades, including a Class 2A semifinals run.

In the process, the previous LSU staff began to take notice of the 6-foot-1, 200-pound linebacker during a school record-setting 219-tackle, all-state breakout performance.

Atkins visited Baton Rouge during the season and continued to build relationships with the new staff throughout the past several months.

“It’s all good,” he said. “Like, when I talk to the recruiters, it won’t even be about football. We’re on a whole other level. When we talk, we keep it real with each other. Like a couple of the recruiters already told me, ‘You’re gonna be playing in that purple and gold. Don’t worry about it.’

“So that’s why I really wasn’t worried about the offer yet, because they told me every time I came down there, ‘We already know you can play. Just trust, and when we offer you, it’s gonna be out of nowhere.’ And he was right. It was out of nowhere today.”

Atkins was finishing a summer school session when he received the FaceTime call from recruiting specialist Sherman Wilson.

“He said, ‘Look who’s on the phone,'” Atkins recounted. “I saw (defensive coordinator) Matt House, and he’s my guy, too. So we were talking and he said, ‘Look, this is what I want to tell you. I’m proud of you keeping up with all your work and all the stuff you have going on.’

“Then he said, ‘We can’t wait to get you back down here, and we’re offering you,’ and that he can’t wait for me to play sideline-to-sideline against Alabama and being one of his linebackers. And when he said he was offering me, I busted out smiling because that’s where I want to play a lot. It was a good feeling, because I’ve been wanting that offer for the longest.”

Atkins said he hadn’t gotten at all impatient awaiting the offer, because of the strong rapport and trust with the coaches, and that actually thought they might wait until after his junior season. A strong camp performance this month only further bolstered his confidence.

“I was telling my little brother and we both just started smiling,” he said. “We were literally just talking about this the other night. After I did well at that camp, it was like, ‘Bro, they’re gonna offer you.’ So when it actually happened, it was crazy. And after we got off the phone, he was the first person I told. I called him. And we just both started smiling and said we were going to talk about it more when we get home. It was just a good feeling.”

Atkins said he plans to make another trip to Baton Rouge during the last week of July, including a pool party at coach Brian Kelly’s house.

“I’m going to be coming back down there a lot,” he assured.

The article written by Jerit Roser was first published in Tiger Details. 


“Voice of La Tech” Malcolm Butler joins Lincoln Parish Journal

The plethora of media moguls that are members of Journal Services LLC, embraced another gigantic addition this past week when Senior Associate Athletics Director Malcolm Butler, aka, the “Voice of La Tech”, joined the LIncoln Parish Journal. Butler will partner with Kyle and Judith Roberts as the co-publishers for the free daily, on-line, media outlet.

The Lincoln Parish Journal is one of ten subsidiaries of Journal Servicess LLC that include the Jackson Parish Journal, Shreveport/Bossier Journal, Sabine Parish Journal, Bienville Parish Journal, Red River Parish Journal, Winn Parish Journal, Webster Parish Journal, DeSoto Parish Journal and Natchitoches Parish Journal.

“We at the LPJ could not be more excited to have Malcolm formally join our efforts,” Judith Roberts said. “He has had a storied career at Louisiana Tech and knows Ruston and Lincoln Parish inside and out. For us, it only adds to the integrity and stability of the LPJ moving forward. This move will improve our ability to serve the residents of this community with free news and feature stories that they richly deserve.”

Butler has spent the past 23 years serving in a full-time capacity within the Louisiana Tech Athletic Communications Department. He announced his transition out of his current role last week, although he will remain as the radio voice for Tech football, men’s basketball and softball.

“First, I want to publicly thank Dr. Les Guice and Dr. Eric Wood for their support,” said Butler. “I made the decision about a year ago that this would be my last year in a full-time capacity at Tech. Both of them have been awesome in allowing me the flexibility to transition out of the athletic communications department while remaining as the voice of Tech Athletics. I look forward to continuing my deep connection to my alma mater.”

Butler has Lincoln Parish in his blood, attending AE Phillips Laboratory School, Ruston High School and Louisiana Tech during his educational days. He said he feels joining the LPJ as co-publisher is a great step that will allow him to continue to contribute to his hometown in a variety of ways.

“One of the things I loved about my job at Louisiana Tech was I had the ability to tell so many stories about the people at a school I love,” said Butler. “Everyone has a story. Even the stranger on the street. And I look forward to joining Kyle and Judith and the staff at the Lincoln Parish Journal in providing our area with a wonderful online media outlet.”

During the past 23 years at Louisiana Tech, Butler has won numerous awards state-wide for both his writing and his broadcasting.

“The Lincoln Parish Journal is made up of writers and content providers who have grown up in this parish,” said Butler. “So many of us were Wiley Hilburn disciples from the Louisiana Tech journalism program. And every one of us love our community.”

Readers can contact Butler at lpjnewsla@gmail.com.

The article Butler joins Lincoln Parish Journal was first published in the Lincoln Parish Journal on June 27th.


Winning with room to spare

Inspired this spring by the Byrd High School girls bowling team knocking off the state’s No. 1 seed in the playoffs and finishing as the surprising, out-of-nowhere state runner-up, I accepted the challenge to captain a team last week in the 2022 “Surfs Up” Bowling Bash at the Four Seasons Bowling Center in Alexandria.

The event was one of many that made up the always-good-times Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Week, which began Thursday with a press conference to meet the Class of 2022 and ended with the induction of that class Saturday at the Natchitoches Events Center.

In between was tomfoolery, something I know a little something about.

The Big Weekend rolls around every year at this time, and all are welcome, including at the bowling event. Grab five folks, a few bucks, and you’re in. Go to LASportsHall.com and see pictures and videos of all the events and start thinking about next year. I talked with a couple of dozen first-timers who say they’ll be back.

And why? Because a good time was had by all. Especially by me. And especially bowling, because we won.

Not only won, but shattered the events record with a score of 925 for our five-man team in 10 frames of team bowling. (They tell me that’s good. What I know about bowling, you could fit inside a bowling ball’s finger hole.)

As a nod to the 50th anniversary of Title IX — and an equal nod (OK, a bigger nod) to them being really good — I recruited members of Louisiana Tech’s girls bowling team. They accepted. Even without under-the-table cash or an NIL deal.

Just solid old-school recruiting. It all comes back to that when you’re trying to build a one-game, winner-take-all team. Surround yourself with quality kegglers.

It is a plus that, besides finishing their most recent season with 33 wins over top-25 teams, 20 wins over Top-10 teams, 12 wins over Top-5 teams, three wins over No. 2 and two wins over the country’s top-ranked team at the time, these young female student-athletes are a joy to be around.

And even more fun since they earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament and finished as an Elite 8 team.

Friday in Alexandria, they finished as an Elite 1.

Our “five-man team” team is a figure of speech. There was me, bowling-lover-gone-bowling-madman/wizard Coach Matt Nantais, and three willing talents from the team, listed here with some of their 2021-22 accomplishments:

Averi Brown, a grad student from Columbus, Ohio who qualified for the singles national championships; Patricia Rosales, who made a pair of All-Tournament teams; and,

Danielle Jedlicki, who bowled two perfect games, was named to a pair of All-Tournament teams and earned a Tournament MVP.

They had rosin bags. Little pieces of tape on their fingers. A hand fan. Braces for their wrists. Everything but eye black. In it to win it, they were.

Teddy wept.

Did you even know Tech had a bowling team? Now you do. And the state does. And next year, hopefully more of the nation will know. The national championships will be in Vegas next year. Maybe I’ll “need” to go cover it.

So think about going to some or all of the Hall of Fame events next year. And think about going bowling. Start now if you want a chance to beat us.

Which you will, because I think we’ve been, for future events, disqualified.

But it sure was fun while it lasted.

Contact Teddy at teddy@latech.edu


Emma Kate McBride leads LA Elite to 3rd place finish at Pre-Nationals Tune-Up

There is an old saying that it is what an athlete does in the summer that leads to success during the season. If that is truly the case, then you can expect Emma Kate McBride of Weston High to be one of the premier girls basketball players in the area this coming basketball season. 

While most young ladies her age have been spending the summer at the beach to improve their tan, McBride has spent countless hours in the gymnasium and perfecting her skills as a member of the AAU affiliate LA Elite 18U Basketball team.

Two weekends ago, the daughter of Rebecca and Jeffrey McBride saw her dedicated effort came to full fruition as McBride scored a team high 42 points over four games to paced the LA Elite squad to a third place finish in the prestigious Pre-Nationals Tune-Up Tournament held in Dallas, TX.

It wouldn’t have been surprising if McBride wanted to take some time off after such a rigorous weekend but instead five days later she was off to Arkadelphia, AR to take part in an elite camp hosted by Henderson State  University. 

“I had a fantastic time at @ReddiesWBB elite camp! The experience and energy was great. Big thanks to @Coach_JThomas @coach_harveywbb and their team for teaching me ways to better my game.” tweeted McBride.

As stated, it is what an athlete does in the summer that leads to success during the season. Don’t be surprised if next summer, instead of being a camp member at an university, she is a scholarship player.  

Emma Kate McBride at Henderson State University

State Farm Facts – Louisiana ranks 5th in lightning claims!


State Farm paid more than $5.6M in 2021 to help Louisiana customers repair or rebuild their homes following damage from lightning strikes. According to a new report, that dollar number puts Louisiana at the 5th spot in the nation for lightning claims, preceded by Texas, Georgia, California, and Alabama to round out the top five. The average claim paid out by State Farm for lightning damage was $12,000.

The most common lightning-related claim is due to ground surge, causing a spike in electricity, which can short out electronics, appliances, and electrical systems. According to the Insurance Information Institute, ground surges account for 50 percent of lightning related claims. This means that if lightning strikes near a home, it can cause a spike in electricity and short out nearby electrical systems.

Although lightning is an amazing act of nature, it can cause damage far beyond a storm you watch through your windows. Take for instance, lightning can strike up to 15 miles away from a developed storm. That’s why the adage “When thunder roars, go indoors” makes so much sense and why we get so nervous when that one family member (we all have one) rushes outside when they hear thunder.

Lightning strikes can happen year-round, but the top five months for lightning activity are September, August, October, November, and December.

“Lightning strikes can happen year-round, but August and September are two of the most active months,” said State Farm Agent Shawn Murphy. “Now is the time to update your home inventory, have a conversation with your insurance agent, and take steps to prepare and educate your family about lightning.”

How can you prepare your home and family for lightning? Here are a few tips:

(1) Have a lightning safety plan to know where your family will go during a storm.
a. Indoors: stay away from windows, doors, and appliances
b. Outdoors: “When thunder roars, go indoors” seek safety immediately, avoid open areas, lay down (don’t be the tallest object in an area), stay away from isolated tall trees and utility poles, distance yourself from metal conductors such as fences and wires.
c. Do not attempt to unplug electronics during a storm.
(2) Make sure your animals have access to a safe place during storms and aren’t trapped outside.
(3) If someone is struck:
a. Call for help. Call 9-1-1
b. Give first aid beginning with CPR
c. Use an Automatic External Defibrillator if one is available.
d. Move the victim to a safer place​

Locals high schoolers enjoy fishing national tournament

Day one brought difficulties for one and the second day was unkind to the other but the teams of Landin and Taylor Chatham representing Weston High and Hayden Davis and Maddox Duck of Quitman were all smiles after it was over.

No, they didn’t win any of the thousands of dollars in college scholarships available, boats, equipment and other prizes that were up for grabs at the High School Fishing National Championship held on Pickwick Lake in Alabama but the experience is one they will cherish forever. 

The final results show that Landin and Taylor Chatham of Weston finished the two day tournament in 54th place overall out of the 236 teams that competed. On both days they managed to boat the three fish limt despite having battery problems on the first day that cost them lots of down time. It was their second day stringer that weighed 8.02 pounds tha timproved their position 27 spots from 81st after day one.  

For Hayden Davis and Maddox Duck the sledding was a little tougher as the pair from Quitman netted two fish on the first day and then had the misfortune of not catching any on day two which relegated them to 190th place. 

Both teams got to fish an additional day in the “Second Chance Round” with the Chatham’s once again catching three fish that weighed a total of 6.04 lbs to come in 71st overall. Davis and Duck once again failed to land a fish in the tough conditions. 

Each qualified for the prestigious national event by finishing in the top ten of the Northeast Louisiana High School Fishing circuit where the Chatham’s finished fourth overall and Duck and Davis came in 9th place. 


Library closes out month with Baby Alligators, Dancing, Singing, Storytime and Crafts

You couldn’t ask for a better way to close out a month full of activities than what both the Jonesboro and Chatham Branches of the Jackson Parish Library has in store. This Wednesday – Friday a full dayy of activities are scheduled for everyone from toddlers to adults.

Wednesday, June 29th

Check Out Fitness – 9:00am  (Chatham Branch)
Toddler Storytime with Ms. Terrye – 10:00am (Jonesboro Branch)
Storywalk with LaTonya Jackson – 11:15am (Jonesboro Branch) 
Teens n Tweens – 2:00pm (Jonesboro Branch)

Thursday, June 30th

Commotion in the Ocean @10:00am & 2:00pm (Jonesboro Branch) 
Baby Alligators with LDWF representative Tonya Sturman @11:00am (Jonesboro Branch)
Performance by Lady Chops – Drummer / Musician @ 2:00pm (Chatham Branch)

Friday, July 1st

Performance by Lady Chops – Drummer / Musician @ 10:00am & 2:00pm (Jonesboro Branch) 

 


Culpepper/Cruse win QHS benefit golf tournament

Tayt Culpepper and Ashton Cruse fired a 12 under par score of 60 to win the championshjp flight in a scorecard playoff over Michael Simonelli and Preston Tubberville. Hunter Alexander and Cason Womack finished one stroke back to come in third.

The tournament was sponsored by the Quitman High School softball and golf teams to help pay for expected expenses this coming school year. 

The first flight found Noah Leach and Tommy Smith come out victorious on another scorecard playoff, this one consisting of three teams that finshed with a 3-under score of 69 over the par 72 course at the Jackson Parish Golf Club. Brian and Cam Deal took second and Garrison Hill and Brandon Joyner was relegated to third place. 

John Gate and Josh Smith shot par 72 to win the second flight, Bill and Ben Decou grabbed second in a scorecard playoff over third place finishers Josh and Wade Williams. 

The QHS golf and softball team would like to extend their thanks to all who supported and participated in the tournament. Special thanks go to Gunsmoke Energy Services, Traina’s Bakery, Leach Lawn Services and JET Enterprises as well as the many individuals who helped sponsor the tourney.

Championship Flight:

1st: Tayt Culpepper & Ashton Cruse (60)
2nd: Michael Simonelli & Preston Tubberville (60)
3rd: Hunter Alexander & Cason Womack (61)1st Flight:

First Flight:

Noah Leach & Tommy Smith (69)
2nd: Brian Deal & Cam Deal (69)
3rd: Garrison Hill & Brandon Joynor (69)

Second Flight:

1st: John Gates & Josh Smith (72)
2nd: Bill Decou & Ben Decou (73)
3rd: Josh Williams & Wade Williams (73)


Watershed Commission upgrades collection boxes at Spillway and Ebenezer boat launches

This past week members of the Jackson Parish Watershed Commission were at the Spillway and Ebenezer boat launches on Candy Lake where they upgraded the collection boxes. Mr. Gary Joynor of the Watershed Commission also made a post on his Facebook page on June 25th in regard to launch fees which is as follows.

In case you saw us out there this morning at the boat launches we were upgrading the collection box’s at spillway and Ebeneezer with new boxes and locks. We encourage our seniors and veterans to obtain the $5.00 life time mirror tag issued inside Hooks Marina on behalf of the watershed for launching at the Spillway and Ebeneezer sites. These mirror tags offer visual quick reference to the watershed, authorities or other fisherman the reason you our seniors and veterans are not having to paying the daily fee. Hooks Marina is documenting every mirror tag issued.
The 40.00 annual tags are ordered and should arrive next week. They will run June 30, 2022 until June 30, 2023.
If you don’t want the annual mirror tag then it’s 3.00/day at the spillway or Ebenezer. I will keep everyone posted when the annual tags arrive. Great Birthday gift, Fathers Day, Mothers Day gift. Thanks for your support of our beautiful lake.


QHS girls basketball impressive at NSU team camp

Judging by the performance of the Quitman High School girls varsity basketball team at the Northwestern State University Team Camp held this past week the upcoming 2022-23 season has all the makings of another successful one. 

Sporting a core rotation of five experienced seniors and a talented sophomore the Lady Wolverines flourished in team competition winning three of the four games played against schools from larger classifications. 

Quitman opened team play at the NSU camp by beating Class 2A Many. That was followed up with victories over David Thibodeaux Academy out of Lafayette and Guyer High School out of Denton, TX. The lone loss came against Class A East Beauregard.

Playing without a senior on the roster last year, the Lady Wolverines finished the season with a 24-8 record and was the undefeated district 2B champion. This season Brayli Stewart, Ansley Folks, Emma Carter, Bethany Leach and Summer Grillette will represent one of the deepest senior classes in recent history. Also expected to be a major contributor is sophomore Cali Deal.