Community column for Jan. 14, 2014

Employer Support part of Yellow Ribbon event

The Baton Rouge Sector of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve and about 100 Louisiana employers participated in a Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program, which offers military personnel and their families guidance and support services, on Dec. 14 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

About 800 National Guard soldiers, airmen and family members attended. This event is designed to help ease families through the transition from the soldier’s deployment to returning home.

Tara Christmas light winners announced

The Tara Garden Club held its Christmas party for members and judges of the Tara Christmas Lighting Contest on Dec. 17 at Brenda and Joe Giacone’s home. Tara Civic Association members also attended.

Contest winners were announced: Best Door, Ross and Irene DeNicola, 1613 Beechgrove Drive; Best Children’s, Ben and Debra Gaudin, 8495 Scarlett Drive; Best Religious, Sean and Kristen Armond, 1270 Ashland Drive; Best Lighting, Vada Jones, 1356 Crescent Drive; Most Original, Brian Jones, 1359 Bon Durant Drive; and Judges’ Choice, Allen and Sandra Colomb, 8974 Cottage Ave.

Camellia Society meets international president

International Camellia Society President Patricia Short and her husband, Herb, of London, met with the Baton Rouge Camellia Society on Dec. 17 at Don’s Seafood Restaurant.

Short was in the area to evaluate the LSU Burden Museum and Gardens as a possible International Camellia Society Garden of Excellence. Florence Crowder organized the visit, which included a tour of camellias in the Denham Springs area, including the garden of Crowder and her sisters, Jama Scivicque, Janice Roach and Joan Sibley. Denham Springs Mayor Jimmy Durbin and his wife, Maurice, welcomed the Shorts to the city.

They toured the garden that included varieties donated by the Stone family to the Burden Center, Windrush Gardens, Rural Life Museum and facilities of the Baton Rouge Camellia Society. An alba plena variety Camellia japonica was planted. LSU arborist Fred Felner and graduate student Michael Polozola welcomed the visitors. They also toured the camellias at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Louis Minsky, along with society member Trent James.

CATS director speaks to Cortana Kiwanis

Capitol Area Transit CEO Robert Mirabito spoke about plans to improve the local bus system to the Cortana Kiwanis Club on Jan. 2. He said he is working on improving staff professionalism and accountability, and training employees to improve customer relations.

Mirabito said CATS provides transportation to the general public and helps the needy, disabled or impaired, as needed on demand. He said many people do not understand how the community can benefit from good public transportation, much like seeing the need for good drainage during a drought. Mirabito said better public transportation will improve the city’s ability to accommodate more events and activities.

The Cortana Kiwanis Club meets at 7:30 a.m. Thursdays at the Piccadilly Cafeteria, 3332 S. Sherwood Blvd. Contact Lowell Tilley,, (225) 272-6744, for information.

Runnels receives three educational grants

The Runnels School recently received three educational grants. The chemical company BASF donated $3,874 to the Runnels libraries to fund the Accelerated Reader program for a year. The program provides online reading comprehension quizzes for students through ninth grade.

Runnels received a $500 grant from Circle K Stores and the ExxonMobil Educational Alliance program to support math and science education. Runnels received a $250 honorarium from Mathnasium for having more students participate in the tutoring company’s third annual “Tri-Mathlon” last November than any other area school.

BRIS student chosen NASA ambassador

Alyssa Carson, a seventh-grader at Baton Rouge International School, has been chosen as NASA’s Youth Ambassador.

On Jan. 7, Carson sat on a panel of scientists in Washington, D.C., at the 10th anniversary of the Mars Rover exploration program to discuss its successes. The panel discussed the new National Air and Space Museum exhibit and explained what NASA and others are doing to advance humans to Mars in the 2030s.

Carson has attended Space Camp seven times, Space Academy three times and Robotics Academy once. She has witnessed three Space Shuttle launches, attended Sally Ride Camp at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and three Sally Ride Day camps. Besides her native language English, Carson speaks fluently Spanish, French, Chinese and conversational Turkish.

UC Golf Ladies Division picks 2014-15 officers

Newly elected officers outlined the tournaments and plans for the 2014 golf year when the University Club Golf Association Ladies Division held its quarterly dinner Jan. 8 at L’Auberge Casino.

The club will continue to be active in the Baton Rouge Women’s Interclub Golf Association and will host a member-guest event, along with weekly member play-day events.

Officers for 2014-15 are President Sharon Kleinpeter, Vice President and Interclub Representative Jeanne Hodges, Secretary and Tournament Chairwoman Kathleen Garrison, Treasurer Amanda Rothrock and Publicity and Sunshine Chairman Cathie Ryan.

Follow this link to see the photos.

Compiled by Advocate staff writer George Morris. The “Community” column runs every Tuesday and Friday in The Advocate. Items should be submitted to “Community,” Advocate eatplaylive section, P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821, or emailed to Events should be submitted in a timely fashion. By submitting photos to The Advocate, you agree that they can be published in any of The Advocate’s print or digital publications.