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Baton Rouge-area school districts shine in state rankings, but EBR still lags

Baton Rouge area district performance scores

Zachary remains the top school district in Louisiana, but Central is right behind it, shooting from seventh to third place in the latest academic rankings of school districts, according to performance scores released Monday. Five of the top 10 districts are in the Baton Rouge metropolitan area and all have A grades from the state. Livingston Parish,… Continue reading →

Slaying leads federal investigators to Tangipahoa mushroom farm

Advocate file photo by BILL FEIG -- Manager Johnnie ‘Little Man’ Santangelo III stands in one of the 5,000-square-foot rooms in January of 2013 where mushrooms are grown at Red Hill Creole Mushroom Farm in Independence. Santangelo was arrestd  last week on federal charges regarding undocumented workers.

It started with a murder, a mushroom farm and, eventually, a mole. Not hallucinogenic mushrooms, but rather popular staples on grocery shelves: white buttons, portobellos and criminis. The Independence farm is under federal investigation, as a special agent has accused two employees of “harboring, encouraging to remain and unlawfully employing illegal aliens,” according to an… Continue reading →

Bobby Jindal: Only office I’d seek is presidency

Associated Press photo by JUSTIN HAYWORTH -- Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks during the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition fall fundraiser in Des Moines, Iowa, in September

Gov. Bobby Jindal would not respond Tuesday to the flurry of GOP congressional candidates grading his governorship, often with below-average marks, repeating what he called his accomplishments and saying the only accurate grade was “incomplete.” Jindal also told a news conference that he was not interested in any other future office but president of the United States.… Continue reading →

Two planning meetings set for Baton Rouge lakes

Advocate staff file photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- University Lake in Baton Rouge.

Two of four meetings to gather public input on the future of Baton Rouge lakes have been set for November and December with two additional meetings yet to be announced. The Baton Rouge Area Foundation is hosting a meeting from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 6 at the LSU E.J. Ourso Business School… Continue reading →

Hammond moves closer to privately-run OMV office

HAMMOND— Following a lengthy discussion, the City Council Tuesday gave its unanimous approval for the city to enter into an agreement with the state Office of Motor Vehicles to create a privately-run office that would offer similar services as the state closes the public office. The resolution calls for the city to enter into a third-party… Continue reading →

New Sorrento police chief misses town meeting

New Police Chief Fern Barnett could not attend Tuesday’s Town Council meeting, the last public forum before a Nov. 4 referendum that could eliminate her department, because she was busy baby-sitting. Mayor Mike Lambert read a typed letter from Barnett, who apologized for not making the meeting. “I was already committed to babysit… Continue reading →

Iberville President wants closer inspection of new medical complex

PLAQUEMINE— Iberville Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso informed the Council Tuesday night that he wasn’t pleased with some of the construction work being done on a $20 million medical facility and will conduct another walk-through inspection before he signs off on the project’s completion. But Ourso’s displeasure with some of the “finishing touches” on the Continue reading →

Man arrested for hit-and-run crash into Duson home

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Muddy tire tracks are still visible leading up to a section of Lisa and Sam Viator's West Congress Street home Tuesday after a hit and run on October 11.

A Jennings man was arrested Tuesday after he confessed to crashing his company truck into a Duson home earlier this month, narrowly missing a 6-month-old baby in a crib before fleeing the scene, authorities said. Dustin Wayne Lasseter’s damaged white Dodge was Houston-bound for repairs Monday when Deputy Joey Graciana, who was investigating… Continue reading →

Mary Landrieu looks to seniors in tight race

Facing a tight re-election bid, Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is ramping up efforts to court seniors, hoping older voters will help push her over the edge to win a fourth term. Landrieu on Tuesday made several stops across the state to tout an endorsement from the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, a Washington-based… Continue reading →

Fire captain suspended, accused of using offensive language on job

A Baton Rouge fire captain is being suspended for 10 days without pay for using offensive language while he was at one of the city-parish’s fire stations, a Fire Department official said Tuesday. Capt. Derin Hairford along with the 600 employees in the Fire Department will attend a diversity training class provided by the East… Continue reading →

Workshops set for small business plan competition

Workshops have been scheduled this week for participation in a statewide small business growth plan competition with $60,000 in prizes that is being held by Capital One Bank in conjunction with the 41st Annual Bayou Classic football game in New Orleans. The competition will feature two categories: Category 1 for businesses with annual revenue of less than… Continue reading →

State: 28% of schools get D or F

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- Louisiana State Superintendent of Education John White is shown speaking in the cafeteria of the W.D. & Mary Baker Smith Career Center in Lafayette on Oct. 6, 2014. White was visiting schools around Lafayette Parish as part of his Louisiana Believes tour.

Shielded from any nosedives, public school letter grades were largely unchanged for the 2013-14 school year, with 28 percent of schools receiving a D or F, the state Department of Education announced Tuesday. However, state Superintendent of Education John White said schools will have to show improvements to meet higher expectations starting with the 2015-16 school year.… Continue reading →

Long lines greet voters trying to vote early in Baton Rouge

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Sign outside early voting, at the Registrar of Voters Office at 10500 Coursey Blvd. Voting started at 8:30 a.m., but election Commissioner Jo Ann Jensen said that enthusiastic voters began to line up before 7:30 a.m., and the Coursey location only has two computers to check in would-be voters before they go to the voting machines.

A long ballot translated Tuesday into long lines at some East Baton Rouge Parish locations as early voting kicked off with robust voter interest, a parish official said. “It’s just going to be a big election, and of course the ballot’s long,” East Baton Rouge Parish Registrar of Voters Elaine Lamb said. Lamb reported strong voter turnout… Continue reading →

Secretary of State Tom Schedler eyes voter turnout

Louisiana election turnout could be low for Nov. 4 statewide balloting based on historical data, Secretary of State Tom Schedler said Tuesday. Schedler said past history in recent federal elections indicates a potential 45 to 50 percent voter participation rate. “I hope I’m wrong,” Schedler said. “This election should draw 70 percent because of the magnitude… Continue reading →

News good for Louisiana job growth, but bad for unemployment rate

Louisiana’s nonfarm employment grew by 33,100 jobs over the year ended Sept. 30, setting a record and nearing the 2 million mark. Seasonally adjusted numbers released Tuesday by the Louisiana Workforce Commission showed nonfarm employment exceeded 1.98 million — 12,100 shy of 2 million. “Thanks to consistent job growth that continues to set records,… Continue reading →

Mary Landrieu: Republicans using Ebola outbreak to intentionally ‘create fear’

In this Sept. 30, 2014, file photo, Sen. Mary Landrieu speaks in Baton Rouge. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte, File)

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu says Republicans are intentionally drumming up fear about Ebola. GOP officials say the Democratic senator isn’t putting enough pressure on the Obama administration to address the public health concerns. Landrieu said Tuesday that while Ebola is a very serious situation, Republicans are using the virus outbreak in West Africa to “create fear” here… Continue reading →

Lafayette Parish system schools earn 'B' from state Department of Education

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- Louisiana State Superintendent of Education John White is shown speaking in the cafeteria of the W.D. & Mary Baker Smith Career Center in Lafayette on Oct. 6, 2014. White was visiting schools around Lafayette Parish as part of his Louisiana Believes tour.

The parish school system’s teachers and principals are being credited with maintaining the district’s B letter grade amid the state’s transition to tougher tests and a local initiative to move struggling students to their age-appropriate campuses. “You have to give credit to the teachers and principals who have worked hard,” Superintendent Pat… Continue reading →

New rules on banks’ risk in mortgage bonds eased

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. satellite office in Arlington, Va.

WASHINGTON (AP) — New U.S. rules aimed at getting banks to take on more of the risk when they package and sell mortgage securities are being relaxed with an eye to spurring broader home lending. Federal regulators have dropped a key requirement: a 20 percent down payment from the borrower if a bank didn’t hold at least… Continue reading →

Stocks rise, helped by Chinese data, Apple results

In this Oct. 8, 2014 photo, a man walks to work on Wall Street, near the New York Stock Exchange, in New York. Stocks are opening higher Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014 after several big companies reported results that pleased investors. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks were solidly higher in early trading Tuesday, the market’s fourth straight day of advances, following an encouraging report on the Chinese economy as well as strong quarterly earnings from Apple and other big companies. KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 102 points, or 0.6 percent, to 16,502 as of 10:52… Continue reading →

BRPD investigating Georgia Street shooting

Baton Rouge Police Department officers are investigating a shooting that occurred Monday night in the 2800 block of Georgia Street, according to a news release issued by Cpl. Don Coppola of the BRPD. Coppola said the victim, a 24-year-old male, arrived at a local hospital at about 9:20 p.m. suffering from a gunshot wound to the lower… Continue reading →

Sinfonia expands to La.

Sinfonia Family Services, the behavioral health subsidiary of Sinfonia HealthCare Corp., plans to expand to Louisiana and Maine. The company’s Louisiana headquarters will be in Metairie, and Sinfonia Family Services plans to open offices in Lafayette and Shreveport in 2015. Kathleen K. Saintcross, former manager of Quality Life Counseling of New Orleans, has been named… Continue reading →

Cadaver dog sniffs out human remains

Where’s a body buried? Buster’s nose can often tell you. He’s a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries.… Continue reading →

On visit home, Obama looks backward and forward

Gov. Pat Quinn, D-Ill., center, and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., second from right, watch as President Barack Obama delivers doughnuts and pastries to Democratic campaign volunteers on Monday, Oct. 20, 2014, in Chicago. Obama is in Chicago campaigning for Gov. Pat Quinn, D-Ill. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

CHICAGO (AP) — A lesson from President Barack Obama’s brief trip home, straight out of Shakespeare: What’s past is prologue. While his trip to Chicago offered a sweet taste of nostalgia, it also offered reminders that his efforts in the first six years of his presidency have set the stage for immense challenges in his final two… Continue reading →

Oscar de la Renta, legendary designer, dead at 82

This Sept. 11, 2012, file photo released by Starpix shows designer Oscar de la Renta, right, and model Karlie Kloss backstage before the presentation of the Oscar de la Renta Spring 2013 collection sponsored by Revlon at Fashion Week in New York. The designer, a favorite of socialites and movie stars alike, has died. He was 82. (AP Photo/Starpix, Amanda Schwab, file)

NEW YORK (AP) — At his Fashion Week runway show in September, Oscar de la Renta sat in his usual spot: in a chair right inside the wings, where he could carefully inspect each model just as she was about to emerge in one of his sumptuous, impeccably constructed designs. At the end of the show, the… Continue reading →

Ebola: Providing time to fight the virus

In this Oct. 12, 2014, file photo, Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks at a news conference in Atlanta. People who shared an apartment with the country's first Ebola patient are emerging from quarantine healthy. And while Thomas Eric Duncan died and two U.S. nurses were infected caring for him, there are successes, too: A nurse infected in Spain has recovered, as have four American aid workers infected in West Africa. Even there, not everyone dies. (AP Photo/John Amis, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — People who shared an apartment with the country’s first Ebola patient are emerging from quarantine healthy. And while Thomas Eric Duncan died and two U.S. nurses were infected caring for him, there are successes, too: A nurse infected in Spain has recovered, as have four American aid workers infected in West Africa. Even there, not… Continue reading →

East West Copolymer secures $12 million in financing

Houston-based investment firm Main Street Capital Corp. said Tuesday it led a $12 million financing round for Baton Rouge’s East West Copolymer & Rubber LLC. East West, which bought the synthetic rubbers plant from Lion Copolymer in April, will use the money for working capital and expansion. Main Street provided $9.6 million of the total.… Continue reading →