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Battle brewing over whether to sell, or keep, the land under Lafayette’s long-vacant old federal courthouse

Advocate staff photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK --  The former Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, now vacant, is pictured Friday, August 28, 2015, in downtown Lafayette, La.

A plan to redevelop the site of the abandoned old federal courthouse downtown into a mix of residential and commercial space seems no closer to reality than when it was first floated six years ago. City-Parish Parish President Joey Durel’s proposed budget for next year calls for spending $1.5 million to demolish the hulking… Continue reading →

Federal lawsuit settled in beating of inamte at Lafayette Parish Correctional Center

A federal lawsuit against the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office in the beating of an inmate in April 2014 has been settled for an undisclosed amount of money. Jason Brungardt, 41, of Lafayette, filed the suit last year after he said two deputies — Brandon Gallien, 29, of Opelousas, and Michael McSheffrey, 35, of Lafayette — beat and pepper-sprayed… Continue reading →

Full gallon jugs of water smash into two moving vehicles Thursday in Ascension Parish; deputies are investigating

Ascension Parish sheriff’s deputies are investigation reports that vehicles have been hit with gallon jugs full of water, causing damage and forcing drivers off the road, the Sheriff’s Office said. Jennifer Lavergne, 29, of Gonzales, said she was driving west on La. 621 between La. 431 and Roddy Road about 8:30 to 9… Continue reading →

Boy accused of killing 3 at Baker Civic Club in 2014 was a gang member awaiting trial on another gun charge, police reports say

Nakeydran Williams

The Baton Rouge boy accused of fatally shooting three teenagers inside the Baker Civic Club in March 2014 allegedly fired a revolver four months earlier — an incident in which the teen victim told police the shooter is a gang member he knows as “Scrappy,” police reports indicate. The principal of Scotlandville High School confirmed to… Continue reading →

Lafayette Crime Blotter for Aug. 28

Arrests posted Aug. 28, 2015, on the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s web site: ALEXANDRA ELIZABETH ARDOIN: 18, homeless, Lafayette. She was booked on distribution or possession with intent to distribute Schedule IV narcotics; misdemeanor distribution or possession with intent to distribute Schedule I narcotics; and misdemeanor hit-and-run driving. THOMAS JOSEPH ARNAUD:… Continue reading →

Lafayette Crime Blotter for Aug. 27

Arrests posted Aug. 26, 2015, on the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s website. MONTANA JAMES ALLEMAN: 26, of the 1500 block of North Wilderness Trail, Carencro. He was booked on prohibited activities (drug paraphernalia). ENGLISH NICOLE ASBERRY: 31, of the 1600 block of East Simcoe Street, Lafayette. She was booked on identity theft and felony… Continue reading →

Judge: Congress was clear — the cost of restoring wetlands damaged by MRGO must be borne entirely by the Corps of Engineers

Advocate staff file photo by Arthur D. Lauck. A tug boat makes the turn from the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet at right to the Intracoastal Waterway north east of Chalmette on Oct. 7, 2005.

Calling the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ arguments “myopic,” a federal district court ruled Thursday that restoring thousands of acres of wetlands damaged by the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet does not require the state to pay almost $1 billion as its share of the cost. Instead, the court found Congress clearly stated the closure… Continue reading →

Downtown office building sold

Rendering provided by 210 Laurel Street LLC -- An office building at 210 Laurel St. has been sold to a Baton Rouge developer who plans to expand the property. Plans are to take a one story downtown office building and add two floors. The building will be a combination of office/retail space and a condominium.

An office building at 210 Laurel St. has been sold for $432,000 to a Baton Rouge developer who plans to add floors to it and turn it into a mixed-use property. 210 Laurel Street LLC bought the one-story building from the Louisiana State Lodge, Fraternal Order of Police in a deal that was filed earlier this week… Continue reading →

LSU offensive line shuffle continues: Ethan Pocic now at center, Will Clapp at left guard

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Freshman center William Clapp  (64) lines up at fall camp Friday at LSU 's Charles McClendon Football Practice Facility.

Will Clapp is on the move. And so is Ethan Pocic. LSU’s starting offensive line is coming into focus a week before the season opener against McNeese State. Clapp, a redshirt freshman, has moved from center to left guard, and Pocic, who began camp at left guard, has replaced him at center. Highly ranked rookie Maea… Continue reading →

Suspect in Sunset slayings found ‘unresponsive’ in jail, taken to hospital; authorities suspect man was faking illness

Harrison Lee Riley

Updated at 12:07 p.m. — Harrison Riley Jr., the man accused in the fatal shooting of a Sunset police officer and in the stabbings of four others, one of whom died, was found unresponsive while in St.Landry Parish jail and was taken to a hospital Friday, authorities said. But St. Landry Parish sheriff’s officials said he appeared to be fine when checked… Continue reading →

Forecasters say Erika projected to hit Florida late Sunday as tropical storm, not hurricane

Forecasters said Friday that it appeared likely that Tropical Storm Erika will strike Florida late Sunday as a tropical storm and not as a hurricane. Chris Landsea, a meteorologist with the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami, said it was still possible that the storm would dissipate as it passes over the mountains of Hispaniola, the island… Continue reading →

Former President Bush, in Katrina anniversary visit, praises ‘amazing’ education successes in New Orleans

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--President George W. Bush, who was president during the federal levee failures in the aftermath Hurricane Katrina in 2005, greets Warren Easton students during a Katrina 10 event remembering the 10th anniversary in New Orleans, La. Friday, Aug. 28, 2015. Mayor Mitch Landrieu is at top left and Laura Bush greets students at right.

Former President George W. Bush arrived at Warren Easton Charter High School in Mid-City on Friday with glowing praise for the charter school movement that has transformed public education in New Orleans in the past decade. “Isn’t it amazing?” Bush said. “The storm nearly destroys New Orleans and yet now New Orleans is the beacon for… Continue reading →

‘New Orleans, Here & Now’ chronicles residents’ post-Katrina struggles, successes through six short films

Photo illustration provided by MPRM for Rampante -- 'New Orleans, Here & Now' is available for viewing online.

“New Orleans, Here & Now,” a six-part anthology on life in New Orleans 10 years after Hurricane Katrina, debuted Thursday online. At the helm of the Time Inc./Rampante project were executive producers Louisiana native and actress Patricia Clarkson and “NCIS: New Orleans” star Scott Bakula. The documentary series offers six… Continue reading →

Over/Under Game: Predict LSU defenders' total interceptions for the season

This is the fifth part of a seven-part blog series leading up to Aug. 31, the start of the first official game week.
Topic: Team interception total

Over/Under: 14.5

Why You Should Pick Over: Even with Jalen Mills’ injury situation, the secondary is likely LSU’s deepest and most talented position group.

Safety Jamal Adams and Tre’Davious White are preseason All-SEC guys,… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge man booked on murder count, accused of selling heroin to a man who overdosed and died in March

A 24-year-old man has been booked on a count of second-degree murder in the heroin overdose death of James “Alex” Brasfield on March 7. The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office reported Friday a witness has told investigators that Brandon Jamal Parker sold heroin to Brasfield on March 6. Brasfield went to his residence on Denham Road… Continue reading →

Effort to turn East Baton Rouge city court job into elected position fails

An attempt to create another elected position in the City of Baton Rouge failed this week.
Metro Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle has for months been pushing to turn the city court judge administrator/clerk position into an elected position.
The position is mostly administrative in nature and the person who holds the job is selected by the five city court judges.… Continue reading →

Gonzales man accused of sexually assaulting woman staying with him and his wife to attend nearby church

Carl McKinley

A 56-year-old Gonzales man is accused of sexually assaulting a woman who was staying with him and his wife at their home so she could attend an area church. Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley said detectives arrested Carl McKinley, 38373 La. 30, late Tuesday on counts of third-degree rape and sexual battery after investigating a sexual… Continue reading →

Giggles toy store opens Saturday

Giggles, a toy and candy store, will open its Baton Rouge store, at 8201 Village Plaza Court, Suite 1-B, on Saturday. The 1,400-foot-square store is in the Village at Willow Grove on Perkins Road and will carry more than 100 different toy brands. Giggles’ features include a candy wall with 30 different kinds of candy, a candelier… Continue reading →

First NBC extends merger deadline with State Investors

New Orleans-based First NBC Bank Holding Co.’s $51 million acquisition of Metairie-based State Investors Bancorp Inc. will take longer to complete than originally expected. The companies have extended their merger agreement’s expiration date from Aug. 30 to Dec. 31. Under the extension, First NBC will pay State Investors’ shareholders an additional fee over the original $21.25 per… Continue reading →

Small town of Sunset tries to make sense of Wednesday’s slayings — and loss of two beloved community members

Advocate staff photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK -- Wilbert Johnson and his daughter, Shaterral Johnson, talk Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015, about the knife attack on his wife, Jacqueline, Shaterral's mother and daughters Shameka and Surlay Johnson, Shaterral's sisters, that occurred Wednesday evening on Anna Street in Sunset. Shameka Johnson and responding Sunset police Officer Henry Nelson, who was shot after his weapon was taken from him by the suspect, were both killed in the attack, police said.

He was somewhat of an outsider to this small town straddling a rural highway of antique shops, liquor stores and Cajun-inflected art and music joints. Those who knew the four Johnson sisters, one of whom was slain Wednesday and another critically knifed on the very lawn where they were raised in Sunset, population… Continue reading →

Warren Drake says at forum he's working to end north Baton Rouge 'educational desert'

Advocate staff photo by CHARLES LUSSIER -- East Baton Rouge Parish School Superintendent Warren Drake on Thursday night fields question from a five-member panel as well as from an audience of more than 200 people who gathered at Star Hill Baptist Church in Baton Rouge. The event was organized by the group Our Schools...Our Excellence. Pictured in the background from left: Shebaka Gibson, Godis Jackson, LaToya Butler, Johnathan Hill and Anthony Dennis.

East Baton Rouge Parish schools Superintendent Warren Drake on Thursday promised a crowd of more than 200 people that he is working to end the “educational desert” that exists in much of north Baton Rouge and to reignite school pride and connection to local neighborhoods. High on that agenda is getting Istrouma High School back from… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace quick take: Obama seems fond of New Orleans; speech only quickly mentioned coastal restoration

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- President Barack Obama gives remarks Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015, at the Andrew P. Sanchez & Copelin-Byrd Multi-Service Center in the Lower Ninth Ward. The president met with residents and participated in a roundtable discussion as part of a week of events commemorating the10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

. Here's Advocate columnist Stephanie Grace's "Quick Take" on President Barack Obama's visit to New Orleans: 1) President Barack Obama and Mayor Mitch Landrieu seem to have quite the mutual admiration society. Landrieu thanked the president profusely and said Obama loves New Orleans and it loves him back. Obama returned the accolades. To the crowd, he… Continue reading →

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina state rolls out mobile pet shelter to save pets during disasters

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- La. Dept. of Agriculture & Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, at lectern, speaks Thursday at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center as he and other officials introduce the new mobile Disaster Pet Shelter, background, to be used in evacuating pets during emergencies.

An 18-wheeler outfitted with 55 stainless steel cages, air conditioning and running water — reportedly the only one of its kind in the country — is now ready for its mission of rescuing and evacuating pets caught in disasters. Officials with the state Department of Agriculture and Forestry and other organizations that together… Continue reading →

TOPS to cost $19 million more than budgeted; deficit could mean cuts to higher ed funding

TOPS, Louisiana’s popular college scholarship program, is expected to cost about $19 million more this year than the state Legislature dedicated to spending on it. Leaders say they are working to resolve the issue — they promise students won’t be shortchanged on their individual awards — but the difference likely will translate into fewer dollars flowing… Continue reading →

Livingston Council votes to spend additional $1 million on road overlay, rejects splitting it with Juban Road extension project

After a lengthy and vigorous debate, the Livingston Parish Council voted unanimously Thursday to add another million dollars to the parish’s ongoing road overlay program. Which roads will get the extra funds has not been decided yet. Parish President Layton Ricks, who was not present for Thursday’s meeting, previously announced the… Continue reading →

Four announced candidates for Lafayette sheriff tackle mental healthcare issues in forum Thursday

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- Attendees listen to candidates as they respond to questions concerning the sheriff's race during a forum held Thursday at the public safety complex on Willow St.

All four announced candidates for Lafayette Parish sheriff agree action is needed to improve law enforcement’s approach to mental health care, each saying cross-agency collaboration is necessary while offering varied perspectives on the sheriff’s responsibility toward the issue. Each candidate — Rick Chargois, Mark Garber, Chad Leger and John Rogers — took turns standing solo before a… Continue reading →

Gramercy man sought in Lafayette shooting death

Police on Thursday issued a first-degree murder warrant for a Gramercy man wanted in a Monday shooting death at a Lafayette apartment complex. Kendrick Anthony Fobb, 28, is accused of killing Christopher Isaac, 51, at his apartment in the 200 block of Duval Street, according to the Lafayette Police Department. Police are also searching for Dontae… Continue reading →

Authorities arrest student in bomb threat at Lafayette Middle School

Advocate staff photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK --  Lafayette Police and K-9 units respond to a bomb threat Wednesday, August 26, 2015, at Lafayette Middle School in Lafayette, La.

A Lafayette Middle School student arrested Thursday is accused of scrawling a bomb threat on a bathroom wall, leading to the school’s evacuation. A school resource officer investigating the threat Wednesday identified a student believed responsible for the writing, which had caused the school’s students to be evacuated to a nearby elementary school while police swept and… Continue reading →

Gonzales man sought in cyber-stalking case also accused of assaulting the victim in Baton Rouge workplace

Keith Carlin

The Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office is seeking Keith Carlin, a Gonzales man wanted on allegations of cyberstalking and who is accused of assaulting the victim. According to a news release from Sheriff Jeff Wiley, deputies began the investigation Wednesday after receiving information that Carlin, 30, was sending harassing and threatening messages via text messaging. Deputies also… Continue reading →

Timothy Bazile, accused of killing his wife in 2010, claims he blacked out and doesn’t remember killing her

Timothy Bazile

In often rambling and sometimes incoherent testimony, Timothy Bazile admitted to a Baton Rouge jury Thursday that the two bullets recovered from his deceased wife’s body came from the revolver he fired inside their Pamela Drive home on June 14, 2010, but said he blacked out and has no recollection of shooting her. Bazile apologized to… Continue reading →

Five booked on DWI in East Baton Rouge between Wednesday and Thursday

Authorities arrested at least five 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: Jordan Dowling, 24, 5437 Heidi’s Place, Baton Rouge, first-offense DWI, speeding, improper lane usage… Continue reading →

Bell Helicopter to begin hiring workers for $23.6M Lafayette facility in 2016

Advocate Photo by BRAD KEMP Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel, left, tries his hand at flying the Bell 505 Ranger X Helicopter in a simulator with the help of Bell helicopters Robert "Red" Hoar during grand opening of the assembly plant for the Bell 505 Jet Ranger X Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015 at Lafayette Regional Airport in Lafayette, La.

Bell Helicopter in early 2016 will begin hiring most of the 115 Acadiana employees needed at the company’s new $23.6 million assembly plant, an 82,300-square-foot facility located at Lafayette Regional Airport that will start producing the 505 Jet Ranger X next year. “We know what types of people live, work and play in this region,” said… Continue reading →

Remodeling begins on new City Pork Kitchen and Pie; target date for opening ID'd

Remodeling has started on the old Exchequer Restaurant building with plans for it to open in late summer or early fall as a third version of the popular local chain, City Pork. City Pork Kitchen and Pie at 6721 Exchequer Drive will be a restaurant and a catering/commissary kitchen for City Pork and City… Continue reading →

Visit Baton Rouge decides not to pay Miss USA $75,000; joins state in cutting incentive payments to pageant organizers

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --Contestants are introduced  in the Miss USA Pageant Sunday night in the Baton Rouge River Center.

After losing its NBC billing and seeing its viewership plummet to an all-time low, the organization that puts on Miss USA lost $75,000 Thursday that Visit Baton Rouge initially had offered to lure the pageant back to the Capital City. Miss USA now has lost about $100,000 in incentive payments between Visit… Continue reading →

Photos: Obama shares laughs, hugs with residents and dines in New Orleans for Katrina anniversary

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- President Barack Obama gives remarks Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015, at the Andrew P. Sanchez & Copelin-Byrd Multi-Service Center in the Lower Ninth Ward. The president met with residents and participated in a roundtable discussion as part of a week of events commemorating the10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

President Barack Obama visited New Orleans Thursday, August 27, 2015 to mark the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures that flooded 80 percent of New Orleans in 2005. He plans to meet with residents, take part in a roundtable discussion and deliver remarks at the Sanchez Community Center in the Lower Ninth Ward.… Continue reading →

St. Landry economic development effort to focus on accentuating the positive with ‘We’re Moving Forward’ campaign