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Friends, students, co-workers mourn loss of beloved Addis teacher fatally shot by husband

Advocate Staff Photo by TERRY L. JONES --Kaitlin Daigle, a seventh grader at Holy Family School, writes a heartfelt message to Emily Thibodeaux, a third grade teacher at the school who was fatally shot by her husband Friday. State Police Monday had no new details surrounding the circumstances of the 23-year-old's death.

While State Police investigators on Monday were still trying to unravel how a 23-year-old Addis woman was fatally shot by her husband last week, the students, parents and staff at the close-knit, Catholic school where the victim worked struggled to come to grips with the tragedy they say has sent a… Continue reading →

Around the Westside for Feb. 3, 2016

The Iberville Chamber of Commerce recently honored the legacy of former Plaquemine Mayor Mark “Tony” Gulotta by presenting his family with its prestigious Spirit of Iberville Award. The award, which was presented to Gulotta’s wife and two sons at the chamber’s annual membership banquet Jan. 28, is reserved for people who have dedicated their time to significantly… Continue reading →

Port Allen football coach credited with inspiring team to boost academic performance

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Romello DeCuir, foreground, who raised his grade point average from 3.5 to 3.75, has also helped other players on the football team with their classwork, during a push by new head football coach Nick Mitchell to get his players raise their GPA's by hitting the books' harder. Behind DeCuir, an offensive guard, are other members of the football team who've been involved in the study effort.

Port Allen High wide receiver Sean Garner started his junior year in August with a 1.7 GPA and an apathetic outlook about college. But by the time football season ended in December, the 17-year-old had bragging rights to a 3.2 GPA and now is having trouble deciding what to major… Continue reading →

Louisiana Department of Corrections mistakenly releases inmate; second such incident in recent months

Emanuel Ray Jones

State corrections officials say they are investigating how a man who escaped a West Baton Rouge Parish work-release facility to commit a crime in Baton Rouge last year was mistakenly released Thursday from the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center. But Emanuel Ray Jones’ latest taste of freedom proved short-lived. By… Continue reading →

Trial in public records lawsuit halted when White Castle town clerk becomes ill on the stand— officials claim being harassed with numerous records requests

The trial in a public records lawsuit against White Castle town officials was interrupted Thursday when emergency medical technicians were called to the Iberville Parish courthouse to treat the town clerk after she had become unresponsive during cross-examination. “She’s suffering from some serious medical-related issues related to this matter,” Town Attorney Valencia… Continue reading →

Pointe Coupee Police Jury gets appraisal on William H. Scott Civic Center and adjoining park long after its dispute with New Roads was settled

William H. Scott Civic Center in New Roads

The Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury on Tuesday night received an answer to one of the parish’s looming questions: How much is the William H. Scott Civic Center and adjoining recreational park worth? The answer: some $4.2 million, according to appraiser Brent Loupe. “That’s considered prime property because of its… Continue reading →

Around the Westside for Jan. 26, 2016

The West Baton Rouge Museum on Feb. 2 will open the “Cohn High School: How We Love Thee” exhibit commemorating the history and legacy of 20th-century African-American education in West Baton Rouge Parish by highlighting the only high school in the parish black kids could attend before integration. Despite efforts of the alumni and residents to… Continue reading →

West Baton Rouge school system taking lead in latest fight over funds lost to charter schools

The West Baton Rouge Parish school system is looking to lead the charge in the latest battle over the amount of local and state tax dollars the Louisiana Department of Education pumps into charter schools annually. The school district is doing so with help from the Louisiana School Boards Association, which wants the state’s leaders… Continue reading →

Police arrest Philadelphia woman suspected of luring victim outside hotel to be kidnapped, robbed by escaped West Baton Rouge inmates

Angelina Hooks

Baton Rouge police have arrested a Philadelphia woman suspected of aiding in the November kidnapping and attempted murder of a man by several inmates who escaped from a West Baton Rouge Parish work-release facility. Baton Rouge Police Department spokesman Sgt. Don Coppola said investigators believe Angelina M. Hooks, 22, lured the victim into the… Continue reading →

School Board embraces West Baton Rouge superintendent’s ambitious goals to push school district into the state’s top 10

Advocate staff file photo by BILL FEIG -- Teacher Lauren O'Brien, center, smiles and points to the student who gave the correct answer on counting up to 100 exercises in a Pre-K class last year at Brusly Elementary School. The West Baton Rouge School Board on Wednesday adopted Superintendent Wesley Watts' strategic plan to make the school district among the top 10 in the state.

The West Baton Rouge Parish school system has set its sights on becoming one of the state’s top 10 districts by 2020. And on Wednesday, the School Board approved a five-year strategic plan from schools Superintendent Wesley Watts outlining how the district intends to achieve that goal. “We don’t want… Continue reading →

Iberville School Board agrees to $1.5 million in upgrades to Plaquemine High School stadium

The Iberville Parish School Board’s decision Tuesday to spend $1.5 million for artificial turf and infrastructure upgrades at the Plaquemine High School stadium was met with passionate debate from several board members who said the money would be best spent elsewhere. Board member Pam George said she couldn’t support spending that kind… Continue reading →

Plaquemine High student, 15, booked on terrorism counts in bomb threat calls to school

A 15-year-old Plaquemine High student accused of calling in bomb threats to his school has been arrested and booked on two counts of terrorizing, the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office reported Wednesday. The Sheriff’s Office reports that the teen placed a 911 call on Tuesday claiming a bomb had been planted at Plaquemine High. Schools Superintendent… Continue reading →

Around the Westside for Jan. 13

Online safety programs planned for kids, parents The Iberville Parish School District this week hosts two programs educating students and parents about safe internet use and online behavior. Tenth through 12th graders from across the district will participate at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Iberville Math, Science and Arts Academy-west campus. A symposium… Continue reading →

New jury, old politics: Pointe Coupee Police Jury deadlocks on vote for president; Melanie Bueche to continue in role, for now

Members of the Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury, which now features six new faces after the 2015 fall elections, began their four-year tenures Monday deadlocked on who should serve as president of the 12-member body. The jury’s tie over two nominations gives its current president, Melanie Bueche, who has served on… Continue reading →

Iberville detectives on TV show 'Killing Fields' say drive to solve cold-case homicide very real, with some twists

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- From left, Maj. Ronnie Hebert, head of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Iberville Parish Sheriff's Office, with Det. Lori Morgan, Det. Leslie Bradford and Det. Jeremy Sanchez,  some of the IPSO detectives being featured on the new Discovery show 'Killing Fields,' which is set in Iberville Parish.

The words splashed across the screen at the opening of the new true crime show amount to a pledge of the program’s authenticity: “This is an active homicide investigation. Shot in real time.” It’s repeated against a backdrop of scenes from Iberville Parish’s lush swamps after every commercial break during the Discovery Channel’s “Killing… Continue reading →

Atchafalaya Basin flooding fears send sportsmen scurrying to clear out campsites

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Baton Rouge's Joe Cashio, a member of the Ramah Hunting Club, steers his suddenly-floating Argo 6-wheeler and a  buoyant trailer and sled through deep water near the Ramah boat landing, moving out equipment in anticipation of high water that could flood hunting camps in the Atchafalaya Basin, if officials open Morganza Control Structure flood gates in the coming week, because of rising Mississippi River waters. From left, Taylor Plauche, 16, 'Big John' McCrory of Lottie and Thor White of Livonia head back to the camp to help out.

The members of the Ramah Hunting Club had a busy weekend. The possible opening of the Morganza Spillway early next week as the Mississippi River’s water levels continue to rise had club members, with help from their kids, scrambling to clear out their campsites. They were determined… Continue reading →

Plaquemine officer accused of kidnapping, assaulting estranged wife

Justin Bush

A Plaquemine police officer accused of kidnapping his estranged wife Sunday and assaulting her with a knife has been arrested and fired from his job, Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi said Wednesday. Justin Bush, who has worked in the Plaquemine Police Department for five to six years, was fired from his job when he reported for… Continue reading →

Plaquemine man gets plea deal in fatal shooting; prosecutor says arrest of lead investigator on drug counts was a factor

Cordias Walker

A Plaquemine man who was supposed to stand trial Tuesday for a 2012 murder has taken a plea deal in a case a District Attorney’s Office official says would have been difficult to prosecute, in part because the lead investigator in the case recently was arrested on drug-related counts.… Continue reading →

Pointe Coupee teachers hope for salary hike in 2016; district one of the lower paying in the area

The salary bump teachers in Pointe Coupee Parish have been angling for since April could happen in 2016. But first, the district has to draft a five-year strategic plan that the School Board will have to sign off on before employees will get a salary boost, schools Superintendent Kevin Lemoine said. “We’re going to address… Continue reading →

West Baton Rouge officials less than enthusiastic about state’s plan for high-tech traffic message sign on La. 1

The state is preparing to install a high-tech message sign on La. 1 to give motorists an idea of how long they can expect to sit in traffic, but West Baton Rouge Parish officials are saying skip the sign and improve the road to make traffic flow more smoothly. Parish… Continue reading →

Former Plaquemine detective — wanted on drug counts and scheduled to testify in murder trial — surrenders Tuesday

Chad Fonseca

A former Plaquemine police detective wanted on drug counts — and wanted as a key witness in an upcoming Iberville Parish murder trial — surrendered Tuesday morning. Chad Fonseca, who in 2012 led the investigation into the shooting death of Wilbert Myles, had been on the lam since he was accused of selling prescription… Continue reading →

Ex-Plaquemine police officer’s on the lam, could throw major kink into upcoming murder case

Chad Fonseca

Iberville prosecutors are missing a key witness in an upcoming murder trial: a former police detective who is on the lam evading arrest on drug counts. In November 2012, Plaquemine police arrested Cordias Walker in the death of Wilbert Myles, who was shot in the 58000 block of… Continue reading →

Around the Westside for Dec. 23, 2015

The Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office was busy spreading a little holiday cheer recently to nearly 200 children and a few hundred nursing home residents. With the help of several local businesses, industry leaders and community groups, the Sheriff’s Office orchestrated a toy drive, purchasing gifts for 79 families — including 193 children, according to a news… Continue reading →

New Roads man dies after car runs off road, overturns, comes to rest in cane field Sunday night in Pointe Coupee Parish

A 32-year-old New Roads man died in a single-vehicle accident on La. 978 in Pointe Coupee Parish on Sunday night, State Police reported. The accident occurred about 8 p.m. and an initial investigation found that Jeremy Gremillion was driving a 1998 Toyota Camry when he failed to negotiate a left curve and ran off the road, State… Continue reading →

Plaquemine man, 25, killed early Tuesday while walking along La. 405 in Iberville Parish

A Plaquemine man was killed early Tuesday while walking along La. 405 south of La. 75 in Iberville Parish, a spokesman with the State Police reports. Jermaine Taylor, 25, was pronounced dead after emergency crews arrived at the scene, south of La. 75, Trooper 1st Class Bryan Lee said. Taylor, wearing all black clothing,… Continue reading →

Connecting back routes in West Baton Rouge might provide some relief to the parish’s traffic woes

The price tag to build a four-lane thoroughfare to alleviate some of the traffic woes in West Baton Rouge Parish may be a little too steep, but Parish President Riley “PeeWee” Berthelot says there is now enough money in the parish coffers to create connections between some of the parish’s less-traveled back streets. And that might… Continue reading →

Rosedale woman, 78, dies after truck plunges into Grosse Tete Bayou

Geneva Jenkins

A 52-year-old volunteer firefighter had hoped his daring attempt to save a woman trapped inside her submerged vehicle in Grosse Tete Bayou on Friday morning would be successful. He learned later that day that it wasn’t. “I was really hoping she would make it,” Jimmy Angelloz said. “We… Continue reading →

Chief deputy: ‘This is just a hideous crime’ — Port Allen man booked in rape of ex-girlfriend and on attempted murder of her new boyfriend

Carlsel Alexander

A 20-year-old Port Allen man was re-arrested Thursday by the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office and booked into the parish jail on attempted second-degree murder in the robbery and assault on his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. Col. Richie Johnson said Carlsel Alexander, 1578 Parkers Lane, was also booked on second-degree rape after investigators received additional allegations… Continue reading →

21 booked on drug dealing counts in Iberville Parish

The Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office and Plaquemine Police Department arrested 21 suspected drug dealers Wednesday morning as part of an ongoing undercover investigation. Sheriff Brett Stassi led the tightly guarded joint investigation as part of his effort to eliminate the sale of illicit drugs, especially prescription medications, in the parish. The undercover investigation… Continue reading →

Around the Westside for Dec. 9, 2015

The Plaquemine Main Street Program and Iberville Relay for Life promise plenty of holiday fun for kids when the organizations host the city’s Children’s Christmas Festival and Parade on Sunday at the Bayou Plaquemine Waterfront Park. The event will kick off at 2 p.m. with the Children’s Parade, which will feature nonmotorized holiday floats, dance groups… Continue reading →