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Criminal justice experts urge reforms for dealing with juvenile offenders: diversion programs instead of jail

Advocate staff photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK --  Lafayette Parish Sheriff Mike Neustrom speaks during a public presentation on juvenile justice in Acadiana Thursday, October 8, 2015, at the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office Safety Complex in Lafayette, La.

Days before the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in a case that will decide the fates of inmates sentenced to life while they were juveniles, criminal justice experts in Lafayette urged reforms that would help at-risk youth instead of locking them away. Hosted by the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office, the forum on Thursday was the third… Continue reading →

'Geaux Gamecocks!' digital billboards going up around Baton Rouge to greet South Carolina fans

. Eight digital Lamar Advertising billboards in Baton Rouge will have special messages for visiting South Carolina fans this weekend. Lamar announced Thursday that it's using space on its boards to display two messages: "Geaux GAMECOCKS! We stand STRONG with you!" and "Geaux GAMECOCKS! Make yourself at home!" The messages will be displayed through Saturday.… Continue reading →

LSU, Southern, BRCC leaders call for reinstating funding, forming partnerships with local school districts

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Dr. Ray Belton, president of Southern Univeristy, answers questions during a Volunteers in Public Schools (VIPS), business lunch panel Thursday at Juban's Restaurant. Also participating are LSU president Dr. F. King Alexander, left and Dr. Dennis Michaelis, interim chancellor at Baton Rouge Community College.

Already near the bottom when it comes to adults earning college degrees, Louisiana will fall further behind if it fails to shift its priorities and restore financial support for higher education, a panel of college leaders said Thursday. At the same time, the state, particularly Baton Rouge, is well-suited to spur future economic growth if it… Continue reading →

California investment firm takes stake in Rayville ag lender

California-based Virgo Investment Group has invested an undisclosed amount in ARM, a Rayville company that provides agribusiness loans and crop insurance. “The landscape for agribusiness risk management and client resource optimization is changing rapidly. These changes include increased bank regulation, growth of the crop input and insurance businesses, and continued volatility in crop markets,” said Brad Terral,… Continue reading →

Mamou police chief resigns after interview with FBI

Facebook photo -- Former Mamou Police Chief Robert McGee

First-year Mamou Police Chief Robert McGee resigned Thursday after an interview with the FBI involving an incident five years ago, although the details of what happened have not yet been clarified. McGee announced his resignation Wednesday through his personal Facebook account. “I made a mistake which not only hurts my community but also hurts me… Continue reading →

New Acadia Project seeks answers to mysteries of early Cajun settlers

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- Mark Rees, with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Child and Family Studies, talks about archaeological efforts to locate the first Acadian settlement in Louisiana on Thursday at Vermilionville. The presentation was part of a day-long symposium focusing on Acadian history.

It’s been called the Cajun “lost colony,” the area where the earliest Acadian exiles settled in south Louisiana in the 1700s after being expelled by the British from what is now Nova Scotia. Despite the pride this region draws from its Acadian roots, little is known about those early settlers. What did they eat? What… Continue reading →

Rouzan, beer bar, Zaxby’s to go before Baton Rouge planning commission

A final development plan for phase five of the Rouzan traditional neighborhood development has been submitted to the city-parish Planning Commission, along with revised plans for the neighborhood center, which will include the first Alamo Drafthouse movie theater in the state. Phase five of the development calls for a mix of residential units spread across… Continue reading →

Lafayette board revises policy to allow 6th-graders to play competitive team sports, except football

Lafayette School Board member Tehmi Chassion.

Sixth graders now have a pass to play on school athletic teams — except football. The Lafayette Parish School Board has revised its student athletics participation policy to include sixth graders in all middle school sports except football. Most sixth graders attend middle schools but they have until now been excluded from participating in competitive school… Continue reading →

As probe begins, Veterans Affairs head David LaCerte steps down

The head of the state Department of Veterans Affairs stepped down late Thursday afternoon as a probe began into the cabinet-level state agency he ran. David LaCerte refused comment on his resignation as secretary. But department spokesman Robin Keller acknowledged that the agency is under investigation. Keller said she had not been given details, including who… Continue reading →

Metro Councilwomen face off for second time in bid for House District 61 seat

C. Denise Marcelle and Donna Collins-Lewis

At first glance, Donna Collins-Lewis and C. Denise Marcelle have a lot in common. Both joined the Baton Rouge Metro Council in 2008 as Democrats holding their first position in public office. They sit next to each other in the City Hall council chambers and their districts abut one another with similar demographics and needs. Both… Continue reading →

East Baton Rouge looks to study prison medical operations, but some say action needed immediately to address conditions described as harrowing

The city-parish is looking to spend nearly $100,000 to study the East Baton Rouge Parish prison’s medical operations, after medical workers complained in August that they are dangerously understaffed, underfunded and overworked. About 10 medical staff members begged the Metro Council for a lifeline during the council’s August meeting, saying that they lack supplies… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge Area Chamber issues report that Common Core test results likely to be lackluster

In a second warning, a report issued Thursday by the Baton Rouge Area Chamber said Common Core test results next week are likely to be low for students in Louisiana. “BRAC does not expect the scores to be exceptionally high,” according to the report. “In fact, we anticipate quite the opposite. “But we further posit that… Continue reading →

Gubernatorial candidate John Bel Edwards target of new Republican Governors Association ad campaign

The Republican Governors Association has made what’s been described as a “huge” ad buy to target Democrat John Bel Edwards in the Louisiana governor’s race. According to Republicans who have been briefed on the RGA’s ad plan, the 1500 point buy will run for two weeks leading up to the Oct. 24 election. RGA spokesman Jon Thompson did not immediately respond to… Continue reading →

Lafayette arrest report for Oct. 8

Arrests posted Oct. 7, 2015, on the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s website: JACOBY JOSEPH ANDRUS: 18, of the 100 block of Lucy Street, Lafayette. He was booked on simple burglary. DELANDRE JAVON ANTHONY: 18, of the 1000 block of Eunice Road, Parks. He was booked on careless operation. DARYION JERMAL BONNET: 22,… Continue reading →

Arbitration sides with CATS employees after CEO Bob Mirabito suspended four workers in February

The employee union of the Capital Area Transit System scored a recent victory in its ongoing feud with CEO Bob Mirabito this week when an arbitration hearing determined Mirabito acted inappropriately when he previously suspended four employees. In February, several CATS employees picketed outside of the Florida Boulevard terminal complaining that the buses were unsafe and that Mirabito was treating employees… Continue reading →

Three workers dead, two injured in explosion at Gibson gas facility

An explosion Thursday at a natural gas facility in Gibson left three workers dead and two seriously injured, Louisiana State Police said. Officials with Williams Partners, the company that owns the facility, said an explosion and fire erupted at about 11 a.m. when contract workers, including the five who were injured and… Continue reading →

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy withdraws candidacy for House Speaker; what it means for Steve Scalise

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., leaves a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, ahead of a nomination vote to replace House Speaker John Boehner, who is stepping down, and retiring from Congress, at the end of the month, after nearly five years in the role. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

— The surprise end Thursday to U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s race for House speaker seems likely to pull the plug on another Republican leadership campaign as well: The bid by House Majority Whip Steve Scalise to succeed McCarthy in the No. 2 post in the hierarchy. Scalise, of Jefferson, had… Continue reading →

Our Views: Louisiana, LSU fans should cheer South Carolina on Saturday, champion state's storm relief efforts

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU student section fans wave as t-shirts are tossed into the crowd during a severe weather delay Sept. 5, 2015, in the first half of the LSU-McNeese State football game at Tiger Stadium.

When the Tiger Band strikes up the South Carolina fight song, we hope that LSU fans will let loose a huge cheer in Tiger Stadium. We know how it feels, South Carolina. Saturday’s big game should have been in Columbia, but the University of South Carolina leadership felt — and we agree… Continue reading →

Tiger Band to play 'Hail Thee Carolina' as LSU adds touches to make Gamecocks feel at home

THe LSU marching band marches on the field before an NCAA college football game against Eastern Michigan in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) ORG XMIT: LAGH101

Weekend plans had to be canceled and schedules rearranged, but LSU Tiger Marching Band Director Roy King knows the University of South Carolina’s Mighty Sound of the Southeast Marching Band would do the same if the circumstances were reversed. With devastating floodwaters forcing the Tigers’ game against the University of South Carolina from… Continue reading →

New Orleans superstar chef Paul Prudhomme — 'ambassador of Cajun cuisine' — dies at 75

Chef Paul Prudhomme gestures during an interview at his French Quarter restaurant, K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen, in New Orleans, Friday, Feb. 2, 2007. Visitors who come to the Big Easy with a big appetite for its sinfully rich food need not fear: This city of beignets, crab cakes, fried oysters and gumbo is not about to jump onto the trans-fat ban wagon.   (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

New Orleans was a famous food city before a Cajun farm boy named Paul Prudhomme came to town in the 1970s. But it would never be the same, not after Prudhomme made the flavor of the Louisiana countryside a worldwide obsession, redefined the way a top restaurant could look and act and inspired a new generation of chefs… Continue reading →

Beating huge odds, two golfers hit holes-in-one during same round

Advocate staff photo by GEORGE MORRIS -- Wayne Wroten, left, and Bill Latham each hit a hole-in-one during a round they played with two other golfers Oct. 1 at the LSU Golf Course. The odds of two holes-in-one by an amateur foursome are 1.3 million to 1.

As rare as they are, holes-in-one aren’t quite a one-in-a-million experience for golfers. But what happened to one local foursome was at least that unusual. On Oct. 1 at the LSU Golf Course, Wayne Wroten, Bill Latham, RenĂ© Vicknair and Randy Ellis saw two holes-in-one in the same round — in fact, only two holes apart.… Continue reading →

Potential life-saving medical kits critical in Lafayette theater shooting coming for Baton Rouge police

. In the wake of the tragic shooting at a Lafayette movie theater, the Baton Rouge Police Department is planning to outfit its officers with medical kits that could be used during critical, life threatening situations. Baton Rouge Metro Councilman John Delgado said after the July shooting which left two women dead and several more injured, it became known that… Continue reading →

Entergy sells Rhode Island power plant

New Orleans-based Entergy Corp. plans to sell its 583-megawatt Rhode Island State Energy Center in Johnston, Rhode Island, to Carlyle Power Partners for $490 million. The natural gas-fired plant began operating in 2002. One megawatt is roughly the electricity needed to power 1,000 homes. Entergy’s wholesale generation division, Entergy Wholesale Commodities, bought the plant for… Continue reading →

Lt. Governor candidates hope their credentials pay dividends in upcoming election, because it's main issue in race

From left: Kip Holden, Elbert L. Guillory, John Young, and Billy Nungesser.

In a race with no real issues, candidates for lieutenant governor stress their credentials as they try to convince voters they are the best suited for the job. The person holding the No. 2 post in state government is a heartbeat away from the governor’s office. If anything happens to the governor, the lieutenant governor takes over.… Continue reading →

Iberville Parish residents question rezoning request for St. Gabriel site; concerned about possible chemical or industrial plant

For the second time this year in the Baton Rouge area, residents rose up to oppose rezoning plans because they don’t want an industrial facility or chemical plant so close to their homes. The latest controversy involves approximately 3,000 acres of undeveloped land between Nicholson Drive and River Road in St.… Continue reading →

Candidates for Lafayette Parish president agree on big picture, differ on the details of getting there

Dee Stanley and Joel Robideaux at the One Acadiana City-Parish President debate at Picard Center, Lafayette, LA. Oct 7, 2015- Photo by Scott Clause

Some time in the next few years, more of Lafayette Parish could be hooked into the superfast LUS Fiber network, and Lafayette’s downtown could be a vibrant residential community with food markets and plenty of entertainment. That was the scenario the two candidates for city-parish president painted at a forum Wednesday. But candidates Dee Stanley and… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace quick take: What a difference a week makes when it comes to gubernatorial debates

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- From left, Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne, and State Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-72nd Dist. casually speak on stage following a Louisiana Governor's Debate presented by NBC33, Wednesday, October 7, 2015, at The Dunham School in Baton Rouge, La.

. Here is Advocate political columnist Stephanie Grace's Quick Take on the most recent Louisiana gubernatorial debate: 1) What a difference a week makes. This debate, hosted by several television stations in Baton Rouge and Shreveport and aired statewide, was a wonky affair mainly focused on Louisiana's fiscal mess. Quite the contrast with last Thursday's WDSU… Continue reading →

Family, fair officials give conflicting stories about how 10-year-old girl was injured in ride at Livingston Parish Fair

Advocate staff photo by STEVE HARDY -- The "Combo" ride at the Livingston Parish Fair. Officials have said a girl required hospitalization after falling from the ride Tuesday evening.

Family and fair officials have offered conflicting stories following the hospitalization of a 10-year-old girl who fell from a fair ride Tuesday night, the state fire marshal said Wednesday. The office has performed a preliminary investigation and found no evidence of mechanical failure, Fire Marshal Butch Browning said. However,… Continue reading →

Security heightened at Baton Rouge Community College after ominous note begins circulating

This photo was circulated on the Baton Rouge Community College campus and prompted the university Wednesday  to heighten its security for the time-being, though the school has not cancelled classes or any extra-curriculars.

Baton Rouge Community College is under heightened security after a digital note began circulating warning students not to attend school on Oct. 15. BRCC released a notice to its students about 3 p.m. Wednesday to inform them of the possible threat, which stemmed from a digital image of an ominous note said to have been seen… Continue reading →

Two booked on DWI from Tuesday to Wednesday 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 12 p.m. Tuesday and 12 p.m. Wednesday, booking records show. Those booked and the counts against them: Donna Kora, 47, 1366 Springlake Drive, Baton Rouge, first-offense DWI, failure to signal and… Continue reading →

Handcuffed man makes escape attempt; East Baton Rouge deputy injured when the fleeing man collided with him

Michael Scott, 22

A Baton Rouge man wanted on a handful of theft warrants may now face additional charges after running face-first into an East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputy while trying to flee in handcuffs Tuesday. Two deputies had tracked 22-year-old Michael Anthony Scott to an upstairs apartment in the 1700 block of Boulevard de Province on outstanding… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge sex offender awaiting trial on failure to register arrested Wednesday in molestation of two young children

James Edward Dyer, 52

A convicted sex offender awaiting trial on charges of failing to register was arrested by Baton Rouge police Wednesday, accused of molesting two young children, according to an arrest warrant and court records. James Edward Dyer, 52, 2327 W. Belfair Drive, was booked into Parish Prison on two counts of molestation of a juvenile. According… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge launching pilot program that places body cameras on officers in the high-crime First District

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Meeting to set forward the direction and policies of BRPD officers wearing body cameras for the department. BRPD legal advisor Kim Brooks talks about public/private concerns involved in the official releasing from written requests of any body camera video.

The police and people they arrest often give starkly different versions of their encounters, but Baton Rouge is about to join other cities in recording what takes place. The city police department has received 100 body cameras that will be issued to every uniform patrol police officer in the 1st District, which covers the highest-crime… Continue reading →