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Plunging enrollment key issue in closure of Redemptorist High, Junior High in May 2015

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING --  Diocese of Baton Rouge Bishop Robert Muench, center, speaks at a press conference Friday morning, announcing that  low enrollment will cause the closing of Redemptorist Junior and Senior High Schools at the end of the current school year (June 30, 2015), but that Redemptorist Elementary will remain open. Melanie Verges, Diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Schools, is at right, and Geraldine Bordelon, a member of the Catholic Diocesan Schools Advisory Board, is at left at the announcement, held at the Catholic Life Center.

Diocese of Baton Rouge Bishop Robert Muench announced Friday that Redemptorist Senior and Junior High school will be closing at the end of this school year in May due to declining enrollment. Continue reading →

Metro Buzz: Roper accuses Metro Council member of violating court orders

Advocate file photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Baton Rouge City Hall

Fired Parish Attorney Mary Roper has accused Metro Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle of breaking court orders not to discuss an ongoing lawsuit. In court this week, Roper’s attorney Wade Shows argued that Marcelle should be held in contempt of the court, an argument that will play out come early January. Roper sued the city-parish… Continue reading →

BRAF: St. George would have to hike property taxes if incorporation effort succeeds

Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD --  Dustin Yates, right, helps Rebecca Mouk sign up during a petition drive for supporters of the City of St. George outside Louisiana Lagniappe on Bluebonnet Boulevard. in Baton Rouge in this January 2014 Advocate file photo.

If St. George successfully incorporates and becomes a new city, the new government and school board would have to raise property taxes by at least 20.5 mills to cover city operational costs and to build enough schools to house all the students living in the area, according to a report released Friday by the Baton Rouge… Continue reading →

Family remembers Baton Rouge shooting victim as charismatic, loving young man

Photo provided by Jordan Douglas -- Christian Allen

Whether he was making music, relaxing with friends or playing with his newborn son, Christian Allen always knew how to lighten the mood. That’s how relatives remembered the 22-year-old man fatally shot a block away from his Baton Rouge home Thursday night. “He was a very bright, respectable young man,” said his mother, Sandra Chew. “If… Continue reading →

Agency puts hold on La. Medicaid pharmacy payments

The federal health agency has rejected Louisiana’s latest plans for Medicaid reimbursement of pharmacists for prescription drugs. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently notified Louisiana officials of its objection to the payment methodology. On Thursday, Louisiana Medicaid Director Ruth Kennedy received notice that the federal agency is deferring payment of… Continue reading →

Heartbroken students, alumni mourn Redemptorist High closure: ‘Everybody’s like family over there’

Redemptorist High School students on Friday mourned their final year at the school, which will close in May, while alumni recounted their favorite memories of the north Baton Rouge institution. Declining enrollment caused Diocese of Baton Rouge Bishop Robert Muench to announce Friday the closure of the junior and senior co-ed Catholic schools, a presence since 1947… Continue reading →

Cannon Road to be closed for repairs in Ascension Parish

A section of Cannon Road, an east-west cut-through route north of Gonzales, will be closed for a week starting 7 a.m. Monday, parish officials said. Workers will replace metal culverts under Cannon, a two-lane parish road that links La. 44 to La. 431, with a new box culvert, officials said in a… Continue reading →

BR woman wanted in theft of designer handbags from Hammond store

A Baton Rouge woman is wanted on a felony count of stealing designer handbags from TJ Maxx in Hammond, according to city police in Hammond. Gaberel Smith, 25, has previously been arrested for stealing from the TJ Maxx stores in Denham Springs and Baton Rouge. She’s also been picked up for shoplifting in Gonzales and Lafayette,… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge Crime Blotter: Two booked in rape of intoxicated woman

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Chief Carl Dabadie reacts as he jokes around with students during a toy giveaway sponsored by Baton Rouge Police at Audubon Elementary, Friday, Dec. 19.

Baton Rouge police on Wednesday arrested two men accused of raping an intoxicated woman. Readd Paul Lacoste, 23, and Damian Jefferson, 25, were drinking vodka Sunday at the victim’s apartment, according to an arrest report. Once the woman became intoxicated, they took her to the bedroom and raped her, police said.… Continue reading →

Lawsuit: Crowley officers held kids at gunpoint while repeatedly shocking father with a stun gun

A prominent Crowley attorney alleges in a federal lawsuit filed Friday that police kicked the door to his stately Victorian home off its hinges, held his two children at gunpoint and shocked him repeatedly with a stun gun when responding to a 911 call from a neighbor who mistakenly thought she heard someone in distress. The… Continue reading →

Ascension Parish schools win discrimination lawsuit

A federal judge has ruled that the public school assignment plan on the east bank of Ascension Parish does not discriminate against minority students or deny them educational opportunities offered to other students in the parish. The ruling, issued Thursday, settles a 6-year-old civil rights lawsuit filed against the Ascension Parish School… Continue reading →

Louisiana adds 21,800 jobs over past 12 months

Louisiana added 21,800 nonfarm jobs over the past 12 months, while the state’s unemployment rate edged up for the seventh straight month in November to 6.5 percent as even more people sought work. “The sustained growth in Louisiana’s labor force is dramatic,” said Curt Eysink, Louisiana Workforce Commission executive director. “People are responding to Louisiana’s strong and… Continue reading →

Acadiana Crime Blotter: Search on for accused rapist considered armed and dangerous

Photo provided by KATC -- Jesus Muñoz Perez, 30, and 24-year-old Zene Vasquez, both of Morgan City, along with 26-year-old Ossiel Muñoz Perez, of Houma, were extradited to Louisiana Dec. 18, 2014, after they were arrested in Texas on counts of attempted first-degree murder and aggravated burglary in connection with the Dec. 14, 2014, burglary, beating and stabbing of a 33-year-old Morgan City man.

Investigators have issued an arrest warrant for an Opelousas man accused in the Thursday night rape and beating of a woman at a truck stop off Interstate 49. Jamal Scott James, 25, is wanted on one count each of aggravated rape and attempted first-degree murder, St. Landry… Continue reading →

‘Today is a milestone day’ for graduates of UL-Lafayette

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- Students recieving their Doctoral Degree return to their seats after being honored during the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Commencement Ceremony in the Cajundome on Friday.  The Commencement Address was delivered by the recipient of the 2014 Louisiana Writer Award, Dr. Darrell Bourque.

More than 1,300 graduates from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette converged Friday on the Cajundome to receive the degrees that transformed them from student to alumni. “As you move into the next stage of your life, I encourage you to take that same sense of hope, optimism and… Continue reading →

Lafayette policy change helping to fill school bus driver slots

Advocate Photo by LEE CELANO - Children depart a bus on the first day of school at LJ Alleman Middle School in Lafayette August 12, 2014.

A new Lafayette Parish school system policy designed to help fill bus driving jobs is starting to pay off, with three new drivers enrolling so far in adult education courses to fulfill the educational requirements for the job. The drivers hold commercial driver’s licenses but until recently wouldn’t have been hired because they… Continue reading →

Obama: Sony canceling release of 'The Interview' was 'a mistake'

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama says the U.S. will respond "proportionally" to North Korea's punishing hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment at a place, time and manner "that we choose." Obama says the attack "caused a lot of damage." Says Obama: "We will respond proportionally and we will respond in a place and time and manner that we choose." The FBI announced… Continue reading →

Man shot to death Thursday night in Baton Rouge

A man was shot to death in Baton Rouge on Thursday night, according to the Baton Rouge police. Police arrived at the scene in the 2600 block of Citadel Drive around 10:30 p.m. and found the victim, Christian Allen, 22, dead in the roadway. Police said the shooting happened after a possible attempted robbery.… Continue reading →

Tiger Tracks blog: LSU coach Les Miles tells radio show 'I wish (Michigan) the very best'

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU head coach Les Miles, left, and LSU defensive line coach Brick Haley, right, shout instructions to the defense during the first half Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 in Fayetteville, Ark.

Remember when LSU coach Les Miles told reporters Monday that he wasn’t considering the Michigan job? Well, he talked more about that on Sirius/XM Radio on Thursday. Continue reading →

Report: Falling crude could mean fewer jobs in Louisiana

Sustained lower oil prices will mean fewer jobs in Louisiana, as well as other oil-producing states, according to a report by Bloomberg News.

A 25 percent drop in crude prices could result in employment slipping 0.8 percent in Louisiana, according to researchers at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. The impacts of low oil… Continue reading →

American Family Association defends Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's prayer rally at LSU: Prayer is the sole purpose

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Gov. Bobby Jindal answers questions after signing SB667 concerning legacy law suits into law on the last day of legislative session.

Following the lead of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, the group sponsoring a controversial prayer rally at LSU in January said the event is solely about prayer. On Thursday, Jindal defended the event, saying "it's no a political event. It's a religious event." American Family Association president Tim Wildmon released a statement early Friday morning. "As our nation faces unprecedented crises—culturally, socially,… Continue reading →

Accidents snarl Baton Rouge traffic as rain moves into area

Louisiana Dept. of Transportation and Development

The rainy weather is making for a messy commute in Baton Rouge on Friday morning. The right lane has reopened on Interstate 10 West before the Perkins Road entrance, according to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development. An earlier accident closed the lane. All lanes have reopened on Interstate 10 West at the I-10/110 merge and on Interstate 10 East just… Continue reading →

East Baton Rouge School Board pulls proposal to extend superintendent’s contract

Advocate staff photo by ANGELA MAJOR -- Bernard Taylor, superintendent of the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, is shown in this November 2014 Advocate file photo.

Two days after reviving the idea, East Baton Rouge Parish School Board member Mary Lynch on Thursday abruptly scuttled a proposal to keep Superintendent Bernard Taylor after his contract ends in June. Taylor staying past his end date is, consequently, much less likely but not impossible. He still has pockets of support on the nine-member board that… Continue reading →

Feds: Ponchatoula man had one of largest child porn collections ever found in Louisiana

Photo provided by the Louisiana Attorney General's Office -- Robert Swan

A Ponchatoula man faces 15 to 40 years in prison for downloading more than half a million images of child pornography — one of the largest collections ever found in the state, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Robert Swan, 52, pleaded guilty Thursday for his role in a massive child porn network that included pictures and… Continue reading →

Legislators OK mid-year budget cut plans

 Jim Fannin

Louisiana legislators made some minor changes Thursday but otherwise approved the Jindal administration’s plan to fill an unexpected hole in revenue collections and rebalance this year’s $25 billion state budget. About 160 vacant jobs were eliminated outright, and others won’t be filled for the remainder of the budget year, which ends on June 30. Nobody will be… Continue reading →

Mary Roper civil lawsuit against parish delayed because of hacking allegations

Mary Roper

The criminal investigation of possible hacking by fired Parish Attorney Mary Roper temporarily halted her civil lawsuit Thursday against the East Baton Rouge city-parish government. State Judge Tim Kelley delayed hearing the second day of the case at the urging of attorney Murphy Foster, who is representing the city-parish. The judge had been scheduled to… Continue reading →

Legislative panel weighs housing protections for domestic violence victims

Advocate staff file photo by BILL FEIG -- Aerial of the new State Capitol building and grounds.

Some Louisiana lawmakers are hoping that efforts to protect victims of domestic violence from eviction could become a key issue in the next legislative session. The Louisiana House Civil Law Committee and the Senate Judiciary A Committee held a joint meeting at the State Capitol on Thursday to discuss the issue. A bill proposed this… Continue reading →

Molina contract extension approved

The Jindal administration received legislative approval Thursday for a $40 million, one-year extension of the state’s Medicaid claims processing contract. The Molina Medicaid Solutions contract, scheduled to end Dec. 31, already has cost the state more than $420 million over the past 10 years. And legislators heard that this contract extension request… Continue reading →

‘We finally did it’ — construction to start on long-awaited Ascension DPW building in Donaldsonville

A long-awaited and much-debated building in Donaldsonville to house Ascension Parish public works equipment and employees appears to be a month from construction after the Parish Council backed a key funding agreement Thursday. The 8,155-square-foot facility is planned for 5 acres on Thibaut Drive and would be built next to a new city DPW building whose… Continue reading →

East Baton Rouge School Board approves plans for Riveroaks and Wedgewood, OKs dropout program

Months after first considering the idea, the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board voted Thursday to move ahead with plans to spend as much as $6.2 million to replace temporary classrooms and make other improvements at Riveroaks and Wedgewood elementary schools in 2016. Also Thursday, the board hired a Dallas-based online education company, for a cost… Continue reading →

Water, water everywhere — and now a new database will help Louisiana manage its rivers, watersheds and aquifers

The state has more than 125,000 miles of rivers and streams and 57 major watersheds, as well as numerous groundwater aquifers that some communities such as Baton Rouge depend on for drinking water. “Managing that water is going to take some critical decisions,” said Bryan Piazza, director of freshwater and marine science… Continue reading →

Gonzales man accused of dealing methamphetamine

Photo provided by the Ascension Parish Sheriff;s Office -- Jessie James

Ascension Parish sheriff’s narcotics detectives on Thursday arrested an accused methamphetamine dealer during a traffic stop at the intersection of La. 44 and La. 42. The detectives pulled over Jessie James, 37, of Gonzales, for driving recklessly, according to a news release from the Sheriff’s Office. They discovered James had multiple active… Continue reading →

FEMA grants helping owners of Livingston Parish properties battered by floods, hurricanes

Advocate file photo by ADAM LAU -- A car and trailer sit in floodwaters in the Maurepas area of Livingston Parish on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012.  An $11 million FEMA grant being used to purchase flood-prone properties in Livingston Parish and either tear them down or raise them above flood levels has been applied to many properties along La. 22 in the parish. Within the next year and a half, the parish plans to look over  90 flood-risk properties, most of them which will be elevated in accordance with flood standards. According to the grant, property owners will pay a quarter of the cost to raise their property, with the parish covering the remainder.

La. 22 winds along the Amite River for a stretch in south Livingston Parish, where homes tower on stilts or rest on stacks of bricks or cinder blocks. A few small buildings and mobile homes sit in the soft earth, though many are storm-battered and abandoned. At a bend — in… Continue reading →

Pointe Coupee School Board may ask judge to force the state to pay for repairs to Central High

The Pointe Coupee Parish School Board is hoping to recoup nearly $1.9 million from the state’s Recovery School District for much-needed repairs at Pointe Coupee Central High School, the site of the district’s proposed Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Arts Academy. And the board is hoping the federal judge… Continue reading →

Our Lady of the Lake College announces December 2014 graduates

More than 160 Our Lady of the Lake College students will be conferred master’s, bachelor’s or associate degrees during the college’s commencement exercises at 2 p.m. Friday in the Baton Rouge River Center. Anticipating trends in healthcare, the college transitioned from offering associate degrees in nursing and now offers only bachelor’s degrees in nursing. This graduation ceremony… Continue reading →

LSU to send 1,650 students off in fall graduations

About 1,650 students are expected to graduate during LSU’s fall commencement Friday. LSU doesn’t hold a main ceremony for its December graduation, but individual colleges will hold exercises throughout the day naming graduates and featuring commencement speakers. Keynote speakers include University of Louisiana System President Sandra Woodley at the College of Agriculture ceremony at 9… Continue reading →

Single mom battles the odds to pursue nursing degree at South Louisiana Community College

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- South Louisiana Community College nursing graduate Trish Fontenot celebrates with her classmates before their commencement ceremony at the Convention Center on Thursday in Lafayette.

Walking across the stage Thursday at South Louisiana Community College’s graduation ceremony was 26-year-old Trish Fontenot, who, with the help of her family and friends, overcame the challenges of being a single mom to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse. Fontenot was among the… Continue reading →

South Louisiana Community College graduates 380 students

More than 380 students from South Louisiana Community College received diplomas Thursday at the Cajundome Convention Center. Students are from all of SLCC’s campuses. These include campuses in Abbeville, Crowley, Franklin, Lafayette, New Iberia, Opelousas, St. Martinville and Ville Platte.… Continue reading →

Opelousas residents rally against police brutality and racial profiling

Advocate Photo by LEE CELANO -- Taneisha Richard holds a sign as she prays during a demonstration in solidarity with police brutality protests nationwide on the courthouse steps in Opelousas on Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014.

“Hands up! Don’t shoot!” “Enough is enough!” “Every life matters!” Familiar chants rang through Courthouse Square in Opelousas as a crowd gathered peacefully Thursday evening to join the national conversation denouncing police brutality and racial profiling. About 70 people braved the chill and threat of rain to… Continue reading →