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Walt Handelsman: Welcome — You’ve got fail

Welcome — You’ve got fail. Follow this link to the cartoon.… Continue reading →

BESE rejects bid to aid students who opt out of Common Core exams

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Jayden Hart, 9, points at the 'number line' on the overhead projector image in fourth grade math teacher Wendy Richardson's class at Bains Elementary School, during a fluency exercise to let her kids practice what they've learned about rounding off numbers in St. Francisville.  Despite lawsuits and other arguments, Common Core is being taught in classrooms, including Bains Elementary and Bains Lower Elementary in West Feliciana Parish.

A bid to let students skip Common Core tests this month without schools being penalized was rejected Thursday by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. BESE turned down the proposal, with four in favor and seven opposed. Jane Smith, a member of BESE, former superintendent of the Bossier Parish… Continue reading →

Holden administration proposes 2 percent pay hike for city workers

East Baton Rouge Mayor-President  Kip Holden

Baton Rouge police officers, firefighters and the lowest-paid city workers in the Department of Public Works should soon see pay raises after years of pushing for increases when city leaders have deemed the budget too tight. After failing again in December to add across-the-board pay raises into the 2015 budget, Mayor-President… Continue reading →

Metro councilwomen at odds with RDA director, want more affordable housing in their districts

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Traffic passes by the proposed Entergy site at 1509 Government Street, Monday, Mar. 2, 2015. Andres Duany of DPZ Architects presented the MidCity Redevelopment Plan to local residents and business owners Monday night, in an effort to show how the property can be revitalized and redeveloped.

Several members of the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council who represent urban and low-income areas of the parish are concerned the East Baton Rouge Parish Redevelopment Authority has lost its way and is failing to follow its core mission of propping up economically depressed areas. At least four of the councilwomen say they are deeply concerned… Continue reading →

Monique Kitts sentenced to life in prison for her role in the ‘murder for hire’ plot to kill her husband

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING --  From left to right, Monique O. Kitts of Livingston is escorted out of court by Deputy Daryl Williams and Detective  Major Bryan Doucet of the West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office at the West Baton Rouge Parish Courthouse, after her sentencing Thursday. Kitts was convicted of second degree murder  last year, in the hiring of Karl Michael Howard of Roswell, Ga. to kill her husband Corey Kitts, 40. She received life in prison without benefit of parole or probation. Corey Kitts was shot three times on the morning of July 9, 2010, while sleeping in the couples bedroom in the Addis home he shared with his wife and their two children.

A state district judge sentenced a former day care operator and the “nerdy” Verizon-employee-turned-hit man she hired to life in prison on Thursday, three months after a West Baton Rouge Parish jury found the two guilty of murdering her husband. State District Judge J. Robin Free sentenced Monique… Continue reading →

Ex-LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis in first meeting with Texas A&M media: 'Why wouldn't you want to be a part of this program?'

Image provided by the Houston Chronicle -- John Chavis lands in College Station following the Music City Bowl.

Raising Cane’s founder Todd Graves turned to ‘Treehouse Masters’ for help and got more than he ever dreamed

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Todd and Gwen Graves' over-the-top tri-level treehouse more than 1,200 square feet and is being featured in Friday's 'Treehouse Masters' on Animal Planet.

“The world is full of nice, ordinary little people who live in nice, ordinary little houses on the ground. But didn’t you ever dream of a house up on a tree top?” — Father, “Swiss Family Robinson” Over the last month, that fantasy from the pages of Johann David Wyss’ classic novel… Continue reading →

Former LSU football tight end gets 50 years in Port Allen casino shooting

Demetri Robinson

A former LSU football tight end for the Tigers 2003 national championship team was sentenced to 50 years in prison Thursday for his role in shooting up a Port Allen truck stop casino more than three years ago. Demetri Robinson, 32, 5223 Sand Drive, Port Allen, pleaded guilty… Continue reading →

Livingston School Board accepts retirement of Tommy Cothern, who will now head Torus technical school in Hammond

The Livingston Parish School Board on Thursday evening officially accepted the retirement of Assistant Superintendent Tommy Cothern, whose 34-year tenure with the system ended last week. For the past year, Cothern has been working to establish Torus, a technical school that will teach computer programming, coding and software development. Graduates… Continue reading →

East Baton Rouge School Board agrees in principle to outside financial and performance audit, but wants more details

East Baton Rouge Parish School Board members on Thursday went along in principle with the idea of hiring an outside firm to conduct an audit of both the school system’s finances and its performance. They, however, raised many questions they want answered before voting on the idea when the board meets again March 17. Board… Continue reading →

Tale of two shootings: Victim dies in Spanish Town Road shooting, arrest made in Lorna Avenue shooting death

Jaime Mejia

A Baton Rouge man who was shot Tuesday evening died at a hospital on Thursday, the same day investigators made an arrest in a different fatal shooting this week. Kwemon Davis, 23, died after spending two days in critical condition following a Tuesday afternoon shooting in the 2200 block of Spanish Town Road, said… Continue reading →

Two lawsuits filed in death Scott man who died after being shackled and pinned down by police

Photo provided by Facebook -- Robert Minjarez Jr.

The mother and grandmother of two children of a Scott man who died a year ago after losing consciousness during an arrest have filed separate wrongful-death lawsuits in federal court in Lafayette on behalf of the minors. Catherine Cortez filed suit Friday in the death of her son, Robert Minjarez Jr., a day after Heather Scanlan… Continue reading →

Port Allen man denies he hired hit man to kill couple over business deal that went bad

Tommy Joe Gioele

A Port Allen man pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges he tried to hire a hit man in mid-December to kill the former owners of Camile’s Cajun Cafe over a bitter business dispute involving the restaurant. The would-be hit man, who has not been identified, instead told West Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s… Continue reading →

At least 32 Lafayette Parish students opt out of Common Core linked tests

At least 32 Lafayette Parish School System students in the third through eighth grades won’t take Common Core-aligned tests that begin March 16. Although the number is small, considering that 13,000 Lafayette Parish School System students are eligible to take the exams, it nevertheless signals a degree of parental concern over the tests. The… Continue reading →

Third person charged with fraud in the 2012 acquisition of The Shaw Group, U.S. attorney says

A third Louisiana resident, and second from Ruston, has been charged with insider trading in connection with The Shaw Group’s 2012 acquisition by Chicago Bridge & Iron Co., federal prosecutors said Thursday. Billy J. Adcox Jr., 44, made more than $37,000 from his alleged illegal insider trading activities, according to a federal grand jury indictment returned… Continue reading →

Industrial carbon credits could help Louisiana restore its coastline, report says

The ability of coastal wetlands to absorb, and retain, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases could be a means to help restore parts of Louisiana’s disappearing coastline, according to a new report released Thursday. The amount of carbon credits that could be generated by some coastal restoration techniques could produce between $400 million… Continue reading →

Southern University president-chancellor search begins

Advertisements for Southern University’s newly created president and chancellor position could start appearing in national publications as early as next week. The panel that has been charged with identifying a new leader for the system and Southern University’s Baton Rouge campus hopes to identify three finalists for the post by June, and the full system board will… Continue reading →

Boy accused of shooting at man walking on BR road to be tried as an adult

Sidney Ellois III

A 16-year-old Baton Rouge boy with a lengthy juvenile record will be tried as an adult on an attempted murder charge that accuses him of firing at a man on North Acadian Thruway after the boy’s 18-year-old associate ordered him to “burn” the man. Keion Johnson, 2005 N. 38th St., was just 15 at the time… Continue reading →

New Iberia man cited in black bear killing

A New Iberia man has been cited for allegedly killing a Louisiana black bear last month in St. Mary Parish, the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced Thursday. Richard A. Picard Jr., 52, was hog hunting near Cypremort Point when, authorities say, he shot and killed the 350-pound black bear on Feb. 28. Louisiana… Continue reading →

Two arrested for DWI in East Baton Rouge Parish

Authorities arrested at least two people suspected of driving while intoxicated in East Baton Rouge Parish and booked them into Parish Prison between 2:30 p.m. Wednesday and 2:30 p.m. Thursday, booking records show. Those booked and the counts against them: Juliette Downing, 24, 8863 Lochness Ave., Baton Rouge, first-offense DWI, improper lane usage, failure to signal… Continue reading →

Church Point attorney accused of stealing thousands from clients

Photo provided by ACADIA PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE -- The Acadia Parish Sheriff's Office announced March 5, 2015, it's looking for Church Point attorney Malcolm Brasseaux, 72, who's accused of stealing more than $435,000 from his clients.

A Church Point attorney has been booked accusations he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from his clients, the Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office said. Malcolm Brasseaux, 72, is accused of stealing more than $435,000 from clients, said Maxine Trahan, Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman.… Continue reading →

Sleet, rain mix reported near Baton Rouge area on Thursday

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Therisha Morris, left, and Destini Colomb, right, lean forward into a gusty wind and wrap up as best they can to try to stay warm on a very cold March day, as the two shivering Baton Rouge Community College students walk near the Governors Building, in between classes Thursday afternoon. The temperature was at about 37 degrees at the time, but the strong winds and a light rain made it feel much colder. 'We can't believe how cold it is!' exclaimed Morris, a sophomore studying business and accounting. 'It was so warm yesterday,' said Colomb,' a freshman studying nursing. They're both from Baton Rouge.

Light sleet in areas near Baton Rouge and into southwest Mississippi was reported Thursday morning as temperatures continued to drop in south Louisiana, according to the National Weather Service in Slidell. No accumulation of sleet is expected, but the temperatures will continue to get colder as the day goes on, reaching only a high of 38 degrees… Continue reading →

Police say Walmart thief got away with 32 cans of baby formula and a clothes hamper

Photo provided by Gonzales Police Department -- Police say the man in this surveillance photo stole more than $500 worth of baby formula from a Gonzales Walmart on Feb. 22, 2015.

Gonzales police are trying to identify a man who entered a Walmart store last month, filled a clothes hamper with 32 cans of baby formula and walked out without paying. The total value of the theft was $524.48. Police gave this account of the theft: Around 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 22, a man entered the… Continue reading →

'King of Queens,' 'Paul Blart' actor Kevin James lunches at City Pork in Baton Rouge, orders the ... house salad

AP file photo -- Kevin James

Kevin James, the actor and comedian known for his role on television’s “King of Queens” and the film “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” stopped for lunch at City Pork on Perkins Road for a heaping helping of ... salad. James made a pit stop in Baton Rouge on his way from New Orleans to Longview, Texas, on his… Continue reading →

Single open runway at BR Metro airport causing more problems than expected

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Aircraft take off and land at Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport Wednesday.

Having only one working runway at Metro Airport at present has proven more problematic than expected twice in the past month. The airport has two runways for commercial flights, but one was closed in January for upgrades and maintenance and won’t reopen until the late summer. In the time it’s been closed, passengers flying into and… Continue reading →

Hunting Energy completing $62 million expansion

Oilfield services firm Hunting Energy Services - U.S. Manufacturing is consolidating and expanding its Terrebonne Parish operations in a $62 million expansion. The 304,000-square-foot facility will allow Hunting to broaden its services to the offshore oil industry. Hunting expects the project to create 20 new direct jobs with an average annual salary of $52,000, plus benefits.… Continue reading →

Higher ed leader plans new initiative for legislative session

Higher Education Commissioner Joe Rallo is planning to hold regular meetings with various stakeholders from across the state during the upcoming legislative session. The new “Commissioner’s Roundtable” initiative has been planned as a way to keep business and industry leaders, faculty, staff and others outside of Baton Rouge engaged in legislative issues related that will impact higher… Continue reading →

Bobby Jindal pushes bills aimed to help veterans earn college degrees in Louisiana

Gov. Bobby Jindal is pushing two pieces of legislation that aim to help veterans and military students earn college degrees in Louisiana, he announced Thursday. One bill, sponsored by state Rep. Henry Burns, R-Haughton, would establish the “Governor’s Veterans Friendly Campus Designation” for colleges that implement a list of support measures for student veterans. Burns, a… Continue reading →

Two overnight shootings under investigation in New Iberia

Photo provided by IBERIA PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE -- Tristan Bernard, 26, of New Iberia, is wanted on a count of attempted second-degree murder in a March 4, 2015, shooting in the 600 block of South Hopkins Street in which a 22-year-old man was injured.

Authorities are looking for one man and trying to identify three others after two overnight shootings in New Iberia, the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office said. Detectives issued an attempted second-degree murder warrant for Tristan Bernard, 26, of New Iberia, in a Wednesday night shooting in the 600… Continue reading →

Tennessee shocks LSU at PMAC; Tigers squander opportunity to solidify NCAA tournament spot

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  LSU's Keith Hornsby is fouled be Tennessee's Josh Richardson in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center Wednesday, March 4, 2015.

The roller-coaster ride of a season continued for the LSU basketball team on Wednesday night at a most inopportune time. Facing a team it crushed by 18 points on the road just 2½ weeks earlier, LSU, which was riding a three-game winning streak, had an opportunity to solidify its spot in the NCAA tournament field in its… Continue reading →

Pipe company says new plant in Livingston means 560 direct new jobs paying an average of $56,600

Photo submitted by EPIC PIPING  -- EPIC Piping plans to build a fabrication facility in Livingston that will create 560 new jobs. The facility should be open by mid-2016

Livingston Parish will be home to a $45.3 million advanced pipe fabrication plant and its 560 fulltime jobs and $31.7 million annual payroll, officials announced Wednesday. EPIC Piping is a company formed last month by a team that includes former employees of The Shaw Group using investment advice and funding from Bernhard Capital Partners. That… Continue reading →

San Antonio visit reinforces Metro Council members views on need for mental health facility

File photo provided by San Antonio Express-News   --  The Restoration Center facility combines primary health care with mental health and addiction treatment in the same location, by Haven for Hope. ORG XMIT: 524866

After a trip to San Antonio to see the mental health care facility that serves as the model for the proposed Restoration Center in Baton Rouge, two Metro Council members say they are more convinced than ever that such a center is needed here and that it can be accomplished without raising taxes. Council members… Continue reading →

Plantation owners seek answers about mercury soil contamination in St. James Parish

CONVENT — The owners of two historic plantations asked the St. James Parish Council Wednesday to pay for tests that would determine whether the Noranda Alumina plant near Gramercy is causing mercury soil contamination. Norman Marmillion, owner of Laura Plantation in St. James Parish, and John Cummings, owner of Whitney Plantation in St.… Continue reading →

Defense admits to marathon bombing

It this courtroom sketch, U.S. Attorney William Weinreb, left, is depicted delivering opening statements in front of U.S. District Judge George O'Toole Jr., right rear, on the first day of the federal death penalty trial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Wednesday, March 4, 2015, in Boston. Tsarnaev, depicted seated second from right between defense attorneys Judy Clarke, third from right, and Miriam Conrad, right, is charged with conspiring with his brother to place two bombs near the marathon finish line in April 2013, killing three and injuring 260 people. (AP Photo/Jane Flavell Collins)

BOSTON — The question, for all practical purposes, is no longer whether Dzhokhar Tsarnaev took part in the Boston Marathon bombing. It’s whether he deserves to die for it. In a blunt opening statement at the nation’s biggest terrorism trial in nearly 20 years, Tsarnaev’s own lawyer flatly told a jury that the 21-year-old former… Continue reading →

LSU safety Jamal Adams tweets: 'LSU fans show no loyalty' after basketball loss to Tennessee

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU safety Jamal Adams (33) celebrates after a defensive stop against Kentucky, during the first half of the teams' game, Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014 in Baton Rouge.

LSU safety Jamal Adams expressed frustration with LSU’s fanbase from his Twitter account after the Tigers’ 78-63 loss to Tennessee in the Maravich Center on Wednesday. The words from Adams’ social medial profile seem to express annoyance over the fans reaction to the disappointing setback for the basketball team. “I can’t hold my tongue.… Continue reading →

One year later: Victor White's family says they have yet to hear account of son's death in backseat of police unit

Advocate staff photo by ANGELA MAJOR -- Kevin Conley, Victor White III's brother-in-law, sits in the audience Wednesday, March 4, 2015, during the forum regarding the ÒHoudini HandcuffÓ death of Victor White III at Southern University.

More than a year after the death of 22-year-old Victor White III in the back of a police car in New Iberia, White’s family says they have yet to hear a full account of what happened to him. At a Southern University talk Wednesday night, scheduled to call attention to the anniversary of their son’s death,… Continue reading →

School board agrees to buy acreage behind David Thibodaux STEM Magnet Academy

The Lafayette Parish School Board on Wednesday unanimously approved spending up to $65,000 to purchase about 4 acres of property behind its David Thibodaux STEM Magnet Academy. There are no concrete plans for the property at this time, but the additional acreage borders the greenspace behind the school and would enable the development of… Continue reading →