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Collapse may expose deeper issues

A roof hangs in the historic French Quarter section of New Orleans, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014. Crews in the French Quarter were working to clear away debris after an additional portion of a 200-year-old building collapsed on Wednesday. Officials said no one was injured when part of the facade of the peach-colored building at St. Ann and Royal streets gave way Tuesday afternoon, striking the balcony below and causing it to collapse to the street. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

The sudden and dramatic loss of a three-story piece of New Orleans history took many people, including city inspectors, by surprise this week. But whatever factors led to the collapse of 808-810 Royal St. could be lurking inside other venerable French Quarter buildings, city officials and preservationists warned. “There are probably several other buildings… Continue reading →

3 N.O.-area Catholic schools to close

Advocate staff photo by SHERRI MILLER -- Holy Ghost School, in New Orleans, on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014.

Facing steady declines in enrollment, three New Orleans-area Catholic schools will close at the end of the current school year, a move that will send 507 children, their parents and about 50 faculty and administrators in Orleans, Jefferson and St. John the Baptist parishes looking for new elementary schools in 2015. Pastors with Holy Ghost School… Continue reading →

City clears homeless from Central Business District

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Pigeons and pigeon dropping are seen on tents underneath the Pontchartrain Expressway at Calliope and Camp Street in New Orleans, La. Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014. Homeless people moved further away from the Superdome after the New Orleans Health Department handed out fliers Monday asking people to leave that overpass from Claiborne to St. Charles Ave within 72 hours and moving them out on Thursday morning.

The city continued its efforts to break up homeless encampments in the Central Business District on Thursday, evicting the homeless from a number of small camps near the Pontchartrain Expressway. On Sunday night, camp inhabitants were given 72 hours to disperse, according to City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell, who said she supported the sweep because of worsening… Continue reading →

Rain CII makes post-Katrina return, opens $5.6M corporate headquarters in Covington

Rain CII, which was displaced to Kingwood, Texas, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, has opened its $5.6 million corporate headquarters in Covington. Rain CII, which produces materials used in aluminum, steel and titanium dioxide, announced its plans to return to Louisiana in October 2013. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Thursday. Its new headquarters is in the… Continue reading →

Xavier of Louisiana receives millions in grant money to benefit biomedical students

The National Institutes of Health.

Xavier University of Louisiana received a $19.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to expand student participation in biomedical programs. The award is part of a $240 million NIH investment involving more than 10 institutions. Xavier and other recipients will establish a national consortium to train, mentor and encourage students from underrepresented groups to enter… Continue reading →

BP makes deepwater Gulf oil discovery

BP has struck oil at the Guadalupe prospect 180 miless off the coast of Louisiana in the deepwater U.S. Gulf of Mexico. The company said the discovery well, on Keathley Canyon Block 10, was drilled by operator Chevron on behalf of the Guadalupe co-owners. The well encountered significant oil pay in Paleogene age Wilcox Sands.… Continue reading →

HRI Properties getting up to $150 million for growth

HRI Properties LLC in New Orleans is getting up to $150 million of growth capital from affiliates of Almanac Realty Investors LLC. HRI said it will use the funds to acquire, redevelop and develop mixed-use projects, consisting of apartments and hotels within the urban core of top 25 metropolitan areas. The funds also provide HRI with… Continue reading →

Amtrak fights back against New Orleans, mayor Mitch Landrieu over controversial fence along Earhart Blvd.

Advocate file photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Stacy Head got the City Council to establish a new interim zoning district in order to stop construction of this fence  around the Amtrak train line which parallels Earhart Boulevard.

Amtrak has fired back against the city of New Orleans, adding steam to a deepening imbroglio over a chain-link fence intended to protect the train tracks along Earhart Boulevard. About a month after the city sued Amtrak, the company filed a countersuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court, claiming federal law trumps recent efforts by the City… Continue reading →

Arraignment of Destrehan teacher accused of having sex with 16-year-old student postponed

This combo of handout images provided by the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office, LA shows Rachel Respess, 24, left, and Shelley Dufresne, 32, under arrest on Wednesday Oct. 1, 2014. Dufresne and Rachel Respess both from Destrehan High School are accused of having group sex with a 16-year-old student. Dufresne is also accused of having sex with the teen at her home in Montz, LA. (AP Photo/St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office) ORG XMIT: NY107

The arraignment of a former Destrehan High School teacher at the center of sex allegations involving a 16-year-old student has been pushed back to next month. Shelley Dufresne, 32, was set to be arraigned Thursday in 29th Judicial District Court in Hahnville, but her attorney, Deanne Williams of Luling, officially enrolled in the case… Continue reading →

Good news for NOPD: Chief Michael Harrison says recruiting starting to hit its stride

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON -- Interim NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison is shown in this Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, Advocate file photo.

The newest faces of the New Orleans Police Department are a diverse bunch. Among them are a former UNO baseball pitcher whose recent jobs included termite inspector and country club pool guy, a state probation and parole officer whose sister is former City Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer, a Cuban-born Floridian with an MBA, the ex-manager of… Continue reading →

Nude no more: Bywater’s Country Club ends clothing-optional policy

NEW ORLEANS -- The Country Club, a popular restaurant, bar and pool club in the Bywater, has agreed to end its controversial clothing-option policy after a series of WWL-TV stories detailed the allegations of a woman who said she was drugged and raped while sunbathing nude there. The city’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board announced… Continue reading →

Orleans Parish Prison inmate beaten, stabbed; four under investigation

Pictured from left, Dernell Jynes, Cleveland Ross, Dernell McGufey and Davell Jenkins

Authorities said Wednesday they are investigating another episode of violence at Orleans Parish Prison involving an inmate who was assaulted and stabbed at the jail’s troubled Conchetta facility. No inmates have been charged in the Oct. 15 attack, said Philip Stelly, an Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesman. He said the incident was “not terribly… Continue reading →

Demolition of collapsed French Quarter building to begin Thursday

Advocate staff photo by Danny Monteverde -- The remainder of the facade of a French Quarter building that partially collapsed Tuesday night came down Wednesday afternoon as city and fire officials worked to stabilize it.

Virtually all of a French Quarter building, more than 200 years old and considered an important architectural feat when it was built, collapsed Wednesday in a spectacular cascade of dust, dirt and debris as officials tried to stabilize it after a portion had tumbled to the street below a day earlier. By late afternoon, an excavator… Continue reading →

Woman, 26, gunned down on 7th Ward street

A 26-year-old woman was found shot to death Wednesday on a 7th Ward street, New Orleans police said. The shooting happened about 3:30 a.m. in the 1500 block of Columbus Street. Officers on patrol in the area head gunfire and found the victim in the street after a brief search, said Officer Garry Flot, a Police… Continue reading →

School performance scores remain steady across New Orleans area

Advocate staff photo by John McCusker -- Tiana Nobile teaches her first grade class at Morris Jeff Community School  in New Orleans.

School performance scores — a measure of public school quality that combines test results and dropout rates — remained relatively steady across the New Orleans area this year, according to figures released Tuesday by the state Department of Education. In part, that’s by design. The latest results come as Louisiana is making a controversial transition to… Continue reading →

Surprise move: St. Bernard Parish president David Peralta threatens to veto measure limiting his authority

St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta

With little fanfare beyond a quick reading of the proposed language, the St. Bernard Parish Council on Tuesday took steps to limit the authority of Parish President David Peralta, drawing a strong rebuke from the embattled parish leader, who in a surprise threatened to veto one of the two measures. The council, by a 4-1 vote,… Continue reading →

UNO panel releases scorecard on how academic programs are doing

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Students Ray Shall, Barrett Gale and Benjamin Pridgen visit on the quad between classes at the University of New Orleans.

A working group of faculty at the University of New Orleans has released an initial scorecard that evaluates the school’s 80 degree programs on criteria including student demand, size, graduation rate, tuition revenue from students and whether it’s an area central to UNO’s core mission. Programs that receive top marks include undergraduate programs in biological sciences,… Continue reading →

St. John water employees suspended after being charged with faking tests

DO NOT RUN DO NOT RUN DO NOT RUN  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Friday, May 31, 2013 holds a press conference at the Port of New Orleans headquarters for the first day of hurricane season to talk about the protection system. Also included were the parish presidents whose parishes are included within that greater New Orleans system. Natalie Robottom President of St. John The Baptist Parish. MAGS  OUT / INTERNET  OUT/ONLINE OUT/NO SALES/TV OUT/FOREIGN OUT/ LOUISIANA BUSINESS INC./GREATER BATON ROUGE BUSINESS REPORT/225/10/12/IN REGISTER/LBI CUSTOM PUBLICATIONS OUT/  MANDATORY CREDIT THE ADVOCATE/ELIOT KAMENITZ

Two St. John the Baptist Parish employees accused of faking chlorine-level tests, which would have found the presence of a potentially dangerous amoeba in the parish water supply, have been suspended without pay following their indictment Monday on charges of malfeasance in office and maintaining false public records. Meanwhile, parish officials, with the help… Continue reading →

School performance scores basically flat across New Orleans metro area

District performance scores

School performance scores — a measure of public school quality that combines test results and dropout rates — remained relatively steady across the New Orleans area this year, according to figures released Tuesday by the state Department of Education. In Orleans, Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes, so-called district performance scores, encompassing results from all public schools,… Continue reading →

New Orleans police investigating 2 murders Tuesday morning

New Orleans police are working two fatal shootings Tuesday morning, one in the 800 block of North Roman Street in Treme and the other in the 3500 block of Piety Street in the Desire area. Little information was immediately available about either shooting. The victim in the North Roman shooting was a woman, police said, but they… Continue reading →

St. Bernard Council to vote on limiting raises, new hires

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- St. Bernard Parish President Dave Peralta leaves the parish jail after posting bond in April.

The St. Bernard Parish Council is slated to vote Tuesday on imposing a six-month freeze on new hires and salary raises for current employees — moves that would limit the authority of the parish’s embattled first-term president, David Peralta, who faces mounting criminal charges. Both ordinances were introduced earlier this month after a lengthy closed-door session… Continue reading →

Two St. John Parish employees indicted over fake water tests

Two St. John the Baptist Parish employees responsible for testing chlorine levels in the parish water supply — an important safety measure against a potentially dangerous amoeba — were indicted on Monday, accused of faking the results of tests they never actually carried out. Kevin Branch, 54, of LaPlace, and Danielle Roussel, 43, of Paulina, each… Continue reading →