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Massive EBR sewer plant construction nearing completion

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Rick Parker, with Evoqua Water Technologies,  explains function of the odor control towers area of the South Wastewater Plant on Gardere Lane during a tour of the facility by about 80 water and wastewater professionals from across the United States and foreign countries.  Listening, left, is Jeremy Fontenot, a CH2M engineer.

One of the most expensive infrastructure projects the city-parish has ever undertaken is nearing completion after more than five years of construction. It’s the kind of project that lacks the glamour and constituent appreciation of a new road, but city-parish officials will tell you that it’s more important. The expansion and upgrade of… Continue reading →

Negotiations in Highland Coffees lease reopened

Advocate staff file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Negotiations may reopen that could keep Highland Coffees at LSU's North Gates in Baton Rouge in its present locale.  It had been announced earlier that the longtime coffee establishment would  close Dec. 24 after 25 years of serving the community.

One of the landlords for Highland Coffees said he’s reaching out to reopen negotiations on a lease to keep the longtime LSU-area coffee shop in business. “We never wanted Highland Coffees to move,” said Hank Saurage, a part-owner of the building at the corner of Highland Road and Chimes Street. “We want another effort to work out… Continue reading →

Impose order requiring cooling on death row, inmates’ attorneys ask federal appeals court

Advocate staff file photo MARK SALTZ --  The Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.

Sweltering heat on Louisiana’s death row poses a serious risk of harm to three condemned killers with hypertension and other ailments, and a Baton Rouge federal judge rightly ruled last year that the hot conditions amount to cruel and unusual punishment, the inmates’ attorneys have told a federal appellate court. The prisoners’ lawyers are asking the… Continue reading →

CDC: Dallas patient tests positive for Ebola

Associated Press photo by LM OTERO -- A man walks up the stairway leading to the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. A patient in the hospital is showing signs of the Ebola virus and is being kept in strict isolation.

DALLAS — A patient being treated at a Dallas hospital has tested positive for Ebola, the first case of the disease to be diagnosed in the United States, federal health officials announced Tuesday. Officials at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital say the unidentified patient is being kept in isolation and that the hospital is following Centers for Disease… Continue reading →

Group Benefits extending enrollment

The Jindal administration Tuesday backed off its aggressive time frame to make major changes in the health insurance offerings for about 230,000 state employees, teachers, retirees and their dependents. Group Benefits members will now have through November to decide on the type of health coverage they want and to enroll in the appropriate program. And now… Continue reading →

Traffic light near LSU will go back in service

Under fire, the state Department of Transportation and Development announced Tuesday that it will reinstall a red light at the corner of East Boyd Drive and Burbank Drive. The work will start Wednesday and take eight days to finish, the agency said in a prepared statement. The signal was removed in July as part of a… Continue reading →

Crime blotter: Officer bit trying to arrest shooting suspect

Baton Rouge police arrested a 23-year-old man accused of shooting one man, then biting the responding officer on the arm. Officers arrived at 3116 Dalton St. at 9:40 p.m. Monday and found the victim with one gunshot wound to the right arm, police said. When they found the suspected shooter, John Belliazere, 36, he attacked one of… Continue reading →

Man arrested after exposing himself at a Gonzales yogurt shop

Jack Vincent

Police arrested a Napoleonville man Tuesday after he was linked by DNA to an incident in August when a man masturbated in front of a female employee at a yogurt shop, the Gonzales police said Tuesday. Jack Ryan Vincent, 34, 110 Bertie St., Napoleonville, was booked into the Ascension Parish Prison on… Continue reading →

Police seize 36 soda bottles filled with liquid meth from commercial bus

Vanessa Hernandez

The Baton Rouge Police Department confiscated three dozen bottles of liquid methamphetamine early Monday from the suitcase of a Houston woman who was en route to Atlanta on a commercial bus. Police stopped the Tornado Bus Co. vehicle about 12:15 a.m. Monday on Interstate 12 between Airline Highway and Sherwood Forest Boulevard, Cpl. L’Jean McKneely, a police… Continue reading →

Mary Landrieu and Rob Maness debate in Kenner

Rob Maness, Mary Landrieu

Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and Republican challenger Rob Maness squared off on issues related to wetlands, energy policy and busting through the partisan gridlock in Washington, D.C., in front of a packed crowd at Kenner City Hall on Tuesday night, but the leading GOP candidate, Bill Cassidy, wasn’t in attendance. State Rep. Paul Hollis, R-Covington, said… Continue reading →

Documents shed light on LSU hospital changes

The newly rewritten deals for the private groups that would administer most of the state’s charity hospitals eliminate the funding guarantees that bothered federal authorities, but would allow for an early out, if things go awry, according to documents released by LSU on Tuesday. The private partner’s obligation to continue providing “core” and “key” services at the… Continue reading →

Current, former DOTD chiefs disagree on La. highway conditions

Sheri H. LeBas, La. Department of Transportation and Development Secretary

Former state Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Kam Movassaghi and current DOTD chief Sherri LeBas bluntly disagreed Tuesday on state road and bridge conditions and how to fix them. Movassaghi said state highways are in a “deplorable state,” that political interference from the Governor’s Office is part of the problem and that politics sometimes… Continue reading →

R&D Consulting in Baton Rouge acquired by HGA in Ruston

R&D Consulting in Baton Rouge, a 30-person engineering consulting firm serving the Gulf Coast, has been acquired by Ruston-based global professional services firm HGA. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. R&D Consulting was founded in 1976 as D.J. Farrow and Associates. It was purchased in 1996 by Robert Hollinger and David Eccles, who changed… Continue reading →

Premier South Roofing buys land for offices

Premier South Roofing and Sheet Metal has purchased a 1.4-acre site on Highlandia Drive for $1.2 million and will officially open its new offices there next week. The company, which had been based in Industriplex Boulevard, completed the purchase of the land in a deal that was filed with the East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court’s office… Continue reading →

Florida Boulevard apartments sold

The Manor House, a 40-unit apartment complex across from Cortana Mall, has been sold for $900,000. Gardere Capital Investments LLC bought the complex in a deal that was filed Monday with the East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court’s office. The seller was Adams Rental Properties LLC. Gardere Capital is headed up by Dr. Brett Rabel, a… Continue reading →

Lafayette program seeks to ease financial woes of working poor

City-Parish government, the United Way of Acadiana and several local banks have launched a program help ease the financial woes of families living paycheck to paycheck. “We focus on the building blocks of a good life — earnings, education and essentials,” said Jennifer Raggio, United Way of Acadiana director of… Continue reading →

Feds seek $1 million from Lafayette hospital accused of Medicare fraud

The Justice Department is seeking at least $1 million from a Lafayette rehabilitation clinic accused in a lawsuit filed this week of filing fraudulent Medicare claims. The Lafayette Community Rehabilitation Hospital, which owns the 22-bed Community Specialty Hospital on Evangeline Thruway, is accused of defrauding the federal Medicare program by submitting bills… Continue reading →

Acadiana Crime Blotter: Pot plants, growing chambers seized in raid

A Lafayette man suspected of growing high-grade marijuana for commerce was arrested Monday by local narcotics agents, who found 18 hydroponic pot plants with a street value of $32,400, officials said. Capt. Dwayne Prejean, with the Lafayette Metro Narcotics Task Force, said Phillip Hernandez, 30, had the plants and three sophisticated growing chambers… Continue reading →

Gun rights a flashpoint in Louisiana Senate race

Advocate staff file photo by BRYAN TUCK -- U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu

Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is defending her record on gun rights, seeking to rebut sharp criticism from the NRA in a state where the right to bear arms is given special constitutional protection. The senator, locked in a tight race for a fourth term, is pushing back against the National Rifle Association ad that accuses Landrieu of… Continue reading →

Artists take aim at gun violence

Artists from across the country are creating works of art using stocks, barrels, bullets and chambers from guns pulled off the streets. The exhibit, “Guns in the Hands of Artists,” opens Oct. 4 in New Orleans.… Continue reading →

Secret Service head takes onus for White House breach

FILE - In this Sept. 22, 2014, file photo, a Uniformed Secret Service police officer stands outside the White House in Washington. The intruder who climbed a fence made it farther inside the White House than the Secret Service has publicly acknowledged, the Washington Post and New York Times newspapers reported Monday, Sept. 29. The disclosures came on the eve of a congressional oversight hearing with the director of the embattled agency assigned to protect the president's life. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing blistering criticism from Congress, Secret Service Director Julia Pierson said Tuesday she takes full responsibility for the breach of White House security in which a man with a knife entered the mansion and ran through half the ground floor before being subdued. Pierson also said there have been six fence-jumpers this year alone,… Continue reading →

Libertarian Party celebrates growth in Louisiana

The Libertarian Party of Louisiana says it has hit a milestone, reaching 10,000 registered voters in the state. That’s a tiny sliver of Louisiana’s 2.9 million voters, but Libertarian leaders take it as a sign that people are growing more dissatisfied with the current two-party system and are looking for new options. Libertarian candidates are showing… Continue reading →

Battle of New Orleans cannon getting new carriage

Photo by A.J. Sisco -- Outfitted in the costume of 1815, a boy follows adult re-enactors at the Battle of New Orleans event at the Chalmette Battlefield in this December 2013 Advocate file photo.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Spanish cannon used in the Battle of New Orleans and weighing nearly 3 tons will be hauled by pulleys and human muscle onto a new gun carriage like one that once might have held it on a naval ship. For generations, the 10½-foot-long, 5,789-pound weapon has sat on a big wooden outside… Continue reading →

Obama, Modi to put upbeat face on U.S.-India ties

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during a press conference at the Council on Foreign Relations, Monday, Sept. 29, 2014 in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama and India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi are trying to put an optimistic face on the future of relations between India and the United States, amid lingering concerns that the close ties the two democracies once enjoyed have lost their luster. An Oval Office meeting Tuesday with Obama and Vice President… Continue reading →

PetroQuest sells Eagle Ford assets

Lafayette-based PetroQuest Energy Inc. said Tuesday it netted $9.7 million from the just-completed sale of its Eagle Ford assets. PetroQuest’s leases in the Texas formation produced the equivalent of 195 barrels of oil per day. PetroQuest is an exploration and production company with reserves in Texas, Louisiana and the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico.… Continue reading →

Bagasse popular feedstock in biofuel

Bagasse, the waste from sugar cane, was the second-most popular biopower feedstock through mid-year, according to Global Energy World, which tracks trends in the industry. Close to 26 percent of biopower feedstock came from bagasse. Those results were driven by sugar cane’s status as a major crop in three of the world’s largest biopower markets: India, Brazil… Continue reading →

Feds approve East Coast LNG export terminal

The federal government has given Dominion Cove Point LNG permission to export liquefied natural gas, the first time an East Coast facility has been awarded an export permit. The project in Calvert County, Md., will cost $3.4 billion to $3.8 billion and is expected to be in operations in early 2017. Dominion Cove’s permit allows the facility… Continue reading →

82-year-old found dead at home surrounded by flies, trash; two arrested

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Baton Rouge Police Det. Cpl. Logan Collins, left, and Det. Cpl. Sherri Harris lead Lauren Looney, 17, to a police unit at the Violent Crimes Unit of Louisiana State Police, Monday, Sept. 29. Baton Rouge Police responded to 1081 N. Acadian West early Monday morning in reference to a deceased victim, later identified as Bessie Looney, 82. Due to the condition of both the victim and the residence, police arrested Looney's daughter, Joleslie Looney, 53, and granddaughter, Lauren Looney, 17, on charges of Cruelty to the Infirmed and were booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison late Monday night.

The 911 call came in at 5:04 a.m. Monday, reporting an unresponsive, and possibly dead, woman at 1081 N. Acadian Thruway W., north of Florida Boulevard. When police arrived, they found Bessie Looney alone in her bedroom, in what they described as “deplorable conditions.” The 82-year-old was dead, police said, discovered in her wheelchair, unclothed, surrounded… Continue reading →