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’Furious 7’ speeds ahead of the competition

Photo courtesy Sony Pictures -- Kevin James returns as Paul Blart in ‘Paul Blart: Mall  Cop 2.’

LOS ANGELES — Even in its debut weekend, Kevin James’s “Paul Blart” sequel couldn’t outpace “Furious 7.” The reigning box office champion might have slowed from its blockbuster debut, but “Furious 7” maintained first place for the third weekend in a row with an estimated $29.1 million, according to box office tracker Rentrak on Sunday.… Continue reading →

Ask the Advocate: Questions this week about BREC

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  The BREC café next to the new Main Library on Goodwood remains unoccupied.

QUESTION: Every time I go to the library, I look to see if the BREC café adjacent to the Main Library on Goodwood Boulevard is open for business. As of April 6, it was still closed. The BREC website indicates it was supposed to open in November, but as nearly as I can tell, nothing is… Continue reading →

BP Oil Spill: 5 years on, empty graves, full hearts

ADVANCE FOR USE SUNDAY, APRIL 19, 2014 AND THEREAFTER - In this Monday, April 6, 2015 photo, Kaylee Kemp climbs on her father's gravestone as her mother, Courtney, sits on a nearby bench in Jonesville, La. Shortly before his unexpected death on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, Wyatt had asked Courtney to bury him with photos of Kaylee and her little sister, Maddison. (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed)

Courtney Kemp was getting dressed for work when husband Wyatt walked in and sat down, not saying a word. Something was clearly weighing heavily on him. She knew that things hadn’t been going well on the job, but Wyatt never wanted to trouble her with details. They’d talked often about the risks… Continue reading →

Bid to ban school suspensions for youngest students sparking pushback

Last year, more than 7,400 Louisiana public school students in kindergarten and first, second and third grades were handed out-of-school suspensions. Senate President Pro Tem Sharon Broome, D-Baton Rouge, wants to all but ban the practice, which is sparking controversy. “I am not trying to excuse bad behavior,” Broome said. “I think there should be… Continue reading →

Film incentives bills ready for its Louisiana legislative close-up

Associated Prees photo by /Matt Sayles -- Cast member John Malkovich arrives at the premiere of "Secretariat" in Los Angeles, Thursday, Sept. 30, 2010.  Scenes from the movie were shot at the Evangeline Downs in 2009.

Lights. Camera. Action. But not of the kind favored by Louisiana’s film and television industry. Instead, the state Legislature will begin to take action next week on bills that would pare and perhaps even phase out tax subsidies that have cost taxpayers $1.3 billion over the past seven years while making Louisiana a more… Continue reading →

Refinery positions itself to handle more U.S. shale crude

Photo provided by Motiva -- Motiva refinery at Norco and/or Convent.

Motiva Enterprises’ plan to run its Norco and Convent refineries as a single operation by linking them via a major pipeline may signal that the company, like a number of other refiners, is positioning itself to handle more of the “super light” crude gushing from U.S. shale formations. “One of the challenges with North American refinery operations …… Continue reading →

UL-Lafayette students on hunt for remains of early Acadiana settlers

Advocate Photo by LEE CELANO  - Christian Scheumaker points to a location where her team believes they have found an historical Acadian burial site during a presentation of the New Acadia archaeology project at the Acadian Cultural Center in Lafayette Sat., April 18, 2015.

Researchers with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s New Acadia Project may have gotten one step closer to finding the remains of Beausoleil Broussard and the progenitors of Cajun culture. During the winter, students involved in the project discovered a cemetery along the bank of Bayou Teche that they believe has potential… Continue reading →

Lafayette School Board to interview top 3 candidates for superintendent on Wednesday

Pictured from left, Don Aguillard, Francis Touchet Jr., and Carlos Sam

The Lafayette Parish School Board takes a step closer to choosing a new leader for the school system with candidate interviews on Wednesday. Earlier this month, the board selected its top three candidates from a pool of 12 applicants: Don Aguillard, St. Mary Parish Schools superintendent; Carlos Sam, associate superintendent of East Baton Rouge Parish… Continue reading →

14 booked on suspicion of DWI in East Baton Rouge Parish

Authorities arrested at least 14 people suspected of driving while intoxicated in East Baton Rouge Parish — including a St. Francisville man on a fourth-offense DWI — and booked them into Parish Prison between 2:30 p.m. Friday and 2:30 p.m. Saturday, booking records show. Those booked and the counts against them: Gerald Pate,… Continue reading →

Benefit fund set up for St. Charles deputy shot by Navy veteran

This undated photo released by the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office shows Cpl. Burt Hazeltine. The 36-year-old Louisiana sheriff's deputy was directing traffic in a school zone Thursday, April 16, 2015, when he was shot by a man whose motive remains a mystery, authorities said. (St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office via AP)

. A benefit fund has been set up for the St. Charles Parish deputy who authorities say was shot by a Navy veteran and former Transportation Security Administration agent while directing traffic Thursday morning in Paradis. The St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office and the St. Charles Fraternal Order of Police No. 15 have joined to establish… Continue reading →

Lafayette police blotter for Saturday, April 18

Arrests posted Apr. 18, 2015, on the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s web site: RONTRELL JERMAIN ANDRUS: 26, of the 1500 block of Louisiana Avenue, Lafayette. He was booked on three counts of fugitive. VANESSA BACELLAR: 23, of the 100 block of Songbird… Continue reading →

Last resident on Avenue M to move, part of the exodus caused by expanding the sewer plant in north Baton Rouge

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Mamie Mitchell gets help from Calvin Curtis and others moving her things out of her home on Avenue M Friday, April 17, 2015.  The Metro Council approved funds to start the relocation of 41 property owners who live next to the North Baton Rouge Sewer Plant.

When Mamie Mitchell bought her house on Avenue M in north Baton Rouge in 1972, her house faced a city park. Mitchell would sit in her front yard keeping an eye on her young boys as they played with the neighborhood kids in the park across the street. The park was so close, she recalls, a ball… Continue reading →

Louisiana Law Institute spent half million for New Orleans meetings, projected to spend $140,311 this year on meetings

A Baton Rouge agency of the Louisiana Legislature spent more than $500,000 during the past three years to hold meetings at The Monteleone Hotel in the New Orleans French Quarter. The expenses have been chalked up by the Louisiana Law Institute as its decision-making council met six to eight times a year over… Continue reading →

Supreme Court lets lower court ruling stand in LSU presidential search case; four finalists records are public

Louisiana’s top court on Friday let stand a lower court ruling that LSU must make public only the names and résumés of four of the 35 candidates considered during the school’s long-concluded secret presidential search. Attorneys for The Advocate and The Times-Picayune had asked the state Supreme Court to order the release of information… Continue reading →

BREC plans to ask its board for property tax increase by ‘rolling forward’ an existing tax

The East Baton Rouge recreation and park system will ask its governing board for a property tax increase at the end of May, one that won’t require the approval of voters. BREC already collects one of the highest property taxes in the city-parish, at 14.218 mills, and many of the city’s public officials have decried recent tax… Continue reading →

Lawyers weigh in on whether Angola inmate Albert Woodfox should have third trial in 1972 killing

File photo provided by The Innocence Project -- Albert Woodfox in this 2008 photo.

With a Baton Rouge federal judge raising the possibility of barring another retrial of Albert Woodfox in the 1972 slaying of a Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola guard, state prosecutors and Woodfox’s attorneys have weighed in on whether the 68-year-old “Angola 3” member should face a third trial in the decades-old case. Woodfox’s unanimous 1973 and… Continue reading →

After IBM says ‘religious freedom’ bill creates hostile environment, Bobby Jindal urges company to ignore ‘smears and misconceptions’

Advocate Photo by ELIZABETH CRISP -- Gov. Bobby Jindal met with reporters in his office Thursday to discuss the 2015 session of the Louisiana Legislature.

IBM, which is opening a technology services center in downtown Baton Rouge, penned a letter earlier this week expressing “strong opposition” to legislation before the Louisiana Legislature that aims to create legal protections for people who oppose same-sex marriage. The “Marriage and Conscience Act” has been linked to controversial “religious freedom” measures… Continue reading →

New Iberia man dies in car crash on US 90 South Frontage Road

A 63-year-old man died in a fatal car crash Friday night after he drove off the road on US 90 South Frontage Road at Darnall Road, according to Louisiana State Police. Wallace Davis, of New Iberia, was driving westbound on US 90 South Frontage Road when he failed to make a left curve and drove off… Continue reading →

Former Livingston contractor agrees to settlement offer from parish, but there could be a catch

Corey delaHoussaye

Embattled former contractor Corey delaHoussaye has agreed to settle a pair of lawsuits against Livingston Parish for the council’s offered amount of $325,000, but lawyers for the two sides disagree on what steps are required before the parish can cut the check. Parish legal adviser Christopher Moody advised delaHoussaye’s attorney that, under Continue reading →

Dow flaring Friday at Plaquemine plant for unit shutdown

Dow’s Plaquemine plant is flaring Friday night, but there is no emergency, plant officials said. Although the flaring could be seen from far away, as of 9 p.m. Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office said they hadn’t received any calls from concerned residents. The flaring is expected to go on throughout the night as the facility goes through… Continue reading →

Work proceeding on $6.47 million Ascension Parish governmental complex

Advocate staff photo by David J. MitchellEven under cloudy skies late Friday morning, work continued on a nearly $6.47 million Ascension Parish governmental complex being built on the site of the old East Ascension Hospital along Worthey Road in Gonzales. The roof is up and steel studs for the outer walls continue to be installed. The project, which will consolidate far-flung parish offices, began Aug. 7. Parish officials said Thursday they hope the project will be finished in early October.

Nail guns popped, power drills whirred and falling metal studs clanged Friday at the site of the future Ascension Parish governmental complex. Under moody but dry skies, contractors continued to raise the nearly $6.47 million building, which parish officials estimated this week is nearly 40 percent complete. The 33,500-square-foot, contemporary-style building… Continue reading →

Nurse fined for violating state nepotism laws

The former director of nursing at Villa Feliciana Medical Complex and her son have agreed to pay $3,000 in fines for violation of the state nepotism laws. The Louisiana Board of Ethics signed off a consent opinion Friday ending the case against Linda Williams and her son, Clint, who worked as a nurse supervisor at Villa… Continue reading →

First tax bill to be considered by Louisiana Legislature would repeal inventory tax

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- State Senate Committee on Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Chairman Neil Riser, R-Columbia, during a 2012 hearing.

A bill that would produce big savings to the state treasury — but that gives big heartburn to local government officials — will be the first tax measure heard by the Louisiana Legislature this year when the Senate tax-writing committee convenes Monday. Senate Bill 85 would repeal the state’s business inventory tax. To make sure everyone… Continue reading →

Southern University police arrest 12 in March 31 campus brawl

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- The entrance to Southern University's campus in Baton Rouge on Harding Boulevard, photographed Friday, Jan. 9, 2015. In the background is A.W. Mumford Stadium.

Southern University police have arrested 11 students and one nonstudent in a brawl that occurred near campus dormitories campus on March 31. Although no one was seriously hurt in the fight, video from cellphones show at least one person pointing what looked like a gun into the air and firing it while others were… Continue reading →

Baker Walgreens building sold for $6.4 million

The Walgreens pharmacy building at the corner of Groom and Plank roads in Baker has been sold for $6.4 million. 6485 Groom LLC, a New York-based partnership named after the address of the pharmacy, bought the property in a deal that was filed Thursday with the East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court’s office. The seller was FR&W… Continue reading →

Attorneys: Jury finds driver, DOTD shared the blame for 2009 crash that killed an Israeli woman

A unanimous Ascension Parish jury found a driver and the state highway department shared the blame in a May 2009 crash at the Burnside/Interstate 10 interchange in Gonzales that killed an Israeli mother of five, attorneys said. The jury awarded $1.05 million to the surviving husband and five children of Noha Salama, 49,… Continue reading →

Eight booked on DWI in East Baton Rouge Parish

Authorities arrested at least eight people suspected of driving while intoxicated in East Baton Rouge Parish and booked them into Parish Prison between 2:30 p.m. Thursday and 2:30 p.m. Friday, booking records show. Those arrested and the counts against them are: — Gabrielle Bruce, 21, 2403 Brightside Drive, Baton Rouge, first-offense DWI and headlight required.… Continue reading →

USDA files complaint over primate treatment at New Iberia facility

aca nirc bt  Advocate Staff Photo by Bryan Tuck. Photo shot on 3/5/09.    Jane Fontenot, head of research resources for the New Iberia Research Center, stands before a row of cages containing Rhesus Macaques while on a tour of the facility Thursday.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has filed a complaint against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s primate research center in New Iberia for alleged violations leading to the death of one primate, injuries to another and the escape of five primates from their housing within the facility. The complaint, made public late Thursday, lays out… Continue reading →

Man robbed of truck and cash in Hammond Friday morning

A man was robbed at gunpoint in Hammond early Friday morning, and police are on the hunt for the robber who made off with the victim’s cash and truck. The incident happened about 7:15 a.m. outside the victim’s business near South Morrison and Demarco boulevards, said Hammond police Lt. Vince Giannobile. A man approached… Continue reading →

Three candidates to be interviewed for Northside High principal in Lafayette

Advocate file photo by Bryan Tuck -- Northside High School

A new principal for Northside High could be selected soon. Three candidates were selected for the job, and interviews are planned next week, said Bruce Leininger, human resources director for Lafayette Parish schools. The qualified applicants are: Mikal Stall, a teacher at Comeaux High School with administrative experience; Julia Williams, an assistant principal at Northside… Continue reading →