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Overtime pay means big boost in retirement for some BR officers

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Baton Rouge Police cars lined up at the new Baton Rouge Police Headquarters on Airline Highway Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014.

Baton Rouge Police Officer Dominic Distefano II made $61,000 in 2008. By 2011, he’d almost doubled those earnings, and in 2013, he made $135,223. Distefano’s base salary didn’t exceed $60,000 over all these years, but he earned much higher pay by bulking up on his overtime hours, according to police salary and overtime data spanning… Continue reading →

Louisiana Bucket Brigade releases report on La. refinery accidents

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  General Russell Honor of the GreenARMY stands with Betty Bickham as she explains what the environment is like in St. Rose in St. Charles Parish Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 at Allen Chapel AME Church.  Bickham, who has lived in the area for 44 years, complained of smelly water, deaths from cancer and odors in the air that appear to cause diarrhea and vomiting.

The number of accidents reported by ExxonMobil refinery in Baton Rouge was lower in 2013 than in 2012, but environmental groups said Saturday that doesn’t mean much because the numbers depend on self-reporting from the company itself. The Louisiana Bucket Brigade and the Green Army met Saturday morning to release… Continue reading →

Retailers prepare foryear-end sprint toward profits

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Courtney Gora, left, looks over tops while assisted by Laura Gremillion. Shoppers were cruising the aisles and making purchases at The Royal Standard at  2877 Perkins Road in Baton Rouge.

Retail sales for the holiday season in Baton Rouge appear headed for a significant gain over those recorded in November and December a year ago, according to some local owners and managers. The Royal Standard near the Perkins Road overpass experienced double-digit year-over-year sales gains in September and October, and managers expect a successful season.… Continue reading →

BR leaders showcase new features at Independence Park, library

Advocate staff photo by ANGELA MAJOR -- Audrey Ross (left)  gets her African doll looked at by a specialist with Attic Treasures on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, during the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Plaza in front of the Main Library and the BREC Independence Park cybercaf.

More than 100 people gathered to enjoy free food, live music and other activities at the main library on Goodwood Boulevard on Saturday as Baton Rouge park and library system leaders cut a ribbon for a new plaza and a “cyber cafĂ©” set to open early next year. “BREC and the library teamed up… Continue reading →

Two candidates slugging it out for Lafayette marshal’s job

Advocate Photo by BRAD KEMP Lafayette City Marshal candidate Mark Pope, right, shakes hands with Zydeco musician Rockin Dupsie, Jr. while campaign at El Sido's Zydeco & Blues Club during the annual Thanksgiving Zydeco & Blues Food Drive in Lafayette, La., Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014.

With just two weeks remaining before the Dec. 6 runoff election for Lafayette city marshal, the campaigns have taken a mean and personal edge as two men vie for a job that’s been held by one person for the last 30 years. Kip Judice, a captain on leave from the Lafayette Parish… Continue reading →

St. Jude ‘Give Thanks Walk’ in BR draws more than 3,000

Advocate staff photo by JOHN OUBRE -- Walkers gather in front of the stage for the opening ceremony prior to walking during a benefit for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital on Saturday morning at Highland road park.

The serpentine fitness track at BREC’s Highland Road Community Park was a mass of colorful, moving humanity, as more than 3,000 people of all ages participated in the St. Jude “Give Thanks Walk” on Saturday morning. The event, one of more than 60 held around the nation Saturday to benefit the St.… Continue reading →

Maurice man killed when truck overturns near Jeanerette

State Police said a 67-year-old man was killed early Saturday when his tractor trailer overturned on US 90 near La. 668 near Jeanerette in Iberia Parish. Russell Charles, of Maurice, was driving east on US 90 at around 7:15 a.m. when his trailer began to leave the right side of the highway, said Master Trooper Brooks… Continue reading →

State Police suspect driver impairment in fatal crash near Hammond

A 28-year-old man was jailed after fleeing a crash on Friday night in which his pickup truck left a road near Hammond and rolled several times, killing his 35-year-old passenger, State Police said. Steve Savoie, of Loranger, was driving south on La. 443 at a high rate of speed with Adam Capdeboscq, of Husser, in the… Continue reading →

Vacant jobs eliminated to help balance the state budget

Advocate staff file photo by BILL FEIG -- Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols

The Jindal administration eliminated 167 vacant positions and found some extra dollars to balance the budget halfway through the fiscal year. “None of the positions that were taken were filled,” Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s chief budgetary adviser, said Friday. “The bottom line is we protected higher ed. We protected health care. There were… Continue reading →

5th Circuit refuses to reinstate Angola 3 verdict; Attorney says state should release Woodfox

Photo provided by The Innocence Project -- Albert Woodfox one of the Angola 3

A federal court of appeals this week upheld the new trial ordered for Albert Woodfox, the “Angola 3” member who has spent decades in solitary confinement after multiple convictions for his alleged role in the 1972 stabbing death of a Louisiana prison guard. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did not weigh the evidence against… Continue reading →

Severe thunderstorms to hit south Louisiana beginning Saturday night

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- A truck kicks up a plume while plowing through the water on a nearly flooded Highland Road at the south gates of LSU as stormy weather hits Baton Rouge in this June 2014 Advocate file photo.

A potentially intense weather system could bring strong to severe thunderstorms to much of the state Saturday evening. The National Weather Service is calling it a “vigorous storm system” with the highest threats being winds and the possibility of tornadoes. The weather is predicted to move into Lafayette on Saturday… Continue reading →

Immigration reform to affect around 5,000 in Baton Rouge

 U. S. Sen. Mary Landrieu

President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration will affect about 5,000 undocumented people in Louisiana’s capital city by keeping them united with their families, according to two Baton Rouge women who have spent years reaching out to immigrants. Maria Rosa Eads and Corina Salazar, both affiliated with the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge, are bracing for… Continue reading →

Gonzales police seeking man in armed assault in bar parking lot

Adrian Salas

Gonzales police officers continued to search Friday evening for a man seen hitting another man in the head with a pistol in a Gonzales bar parking lot earlier this month. The alleged attacker, Adrian Melo Salas, 24, 309 E. Verna St., Gonzales, is wanted on counts of aggravated battery, aggravated assault with… Continue reading →

Ascension officials exploring cause of subdivision road failure

Advocate staff photo by David J. Mitchell -- This section of Timberstone Drive, seen Friday, Nov. 21, in the Keystone of Galvez subdivision of Ascension Parish is failing. Parish officials plan to close Timberstone at Wynstone Drive 7 a.m. Monday to find out why. Though other sections of Timberstone and other roads in Keystone had problems with road construction that were repaired a few years ago before they became parish roads, parish officials said they believe this problem is due to some kind of utility leak.

Work crews will dig up Timberstone Drive in the Keystone of Galvez subdivision on Monday to see what is causing the road’s foundation to fail, Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez said. Martinez said some kind of leak appears to be damaging the foundation but no utility company is claiming responsibility.… Continue reading →

Lafayette shootings leave one dead, two hospitalized

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Lafayette Police work the scene of some shootings near the intersection of Gilman Road and Happiness Street Friday in Lafayette.

Updated at 2:15 p.m. A Lafayette man was booked on a second count of attempted second degree murder Saturday in a string of shootings on Friday in North Lafayette that left one man dead and two others hospitalized. Meanwhile, authorities on Saturday identified the man who was found shot to death Friday in the 800 block… Continue reading →

Crowley police arrest S.C. man accused in fatal shooting, home invasion and other Acadiana police news

Photo provided by CROWLEY POLICE DEPARTMENT -- Aaronton Williams, 22, of Jennings, was booked Nov. 19, 2014, on a count of principal to attempted first-degree murder and a count of principal to home invasion in connection with the Nov. 16, 2014, shootings of two people on East 15th Street in Crowley.

Police say they arrested a South Carolina man Friday who is accused in the Oct. 12 death of 22-year-old Taylor Beverly and the shootings on Sunday of two people on East 15th Street. D’Avondre Marquest Williams, 18, of Beaufort, South Carolina, was arrested Friday on a count of… Continue reading →

Bailey’s again opening doors to needy in Acadiana for Thanksgiving

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Bailey's Restaurant and Ema's Cafe' owner Ema Haq.

Ema Haq opened the doors to Bailey’s Seafood & Grill 22 years ago and has been hosting an annual Thanksgiving luncheon ever since that provides a proper holiday meal to struggling Lafayette residents. Haq, 51, a native of Bangladesh, moved to Lafayette when he was 19… Continue reading →

Saints blog: Jonathan Goodwin has no plans to leave side of agent Ben Dogra, fired by CAA

New Orleans Saints center Jonathan Goodwin (55) gets set against the Detroit Lions during the first half of an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Like the vast majority of the public, Saints center Jonathan Goodwin isn’t sure why the talent and sports agency CAA recently fired his agent, Rakshpal Ben “Ben” Dogra. All the 13-year NFL veteran knew Friday was he had no plans to leave his professional relationship with Dogra. To read the complete blog entry, please click here.… Continue reading →

What to know as early voting starts Saturday

Early voting opens Saturday for any of Louisiana’s 2.9 million registered voters seeking to cast their ballots in advance of Louisiana’s December runoff. The Dec. 6 election will settle hotly contested congressional races, along with local competitions for mayors, district attorneys, judgeships and school board seats. See your customized sample ballot here.Continue reading →

‘Dream trip’ to Disney turns tragic: ‘Our community is grieving for this family’

This photo provided by the Louisiana State Police shows the wreckage of a sport utility vehicle that was involved in an accident that killed five people in Calhoun, La., Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. A 16-year-old boy driving relatives from Texas to a vacation in Disney World apparently fell asleep at the wheel, causing the vehicle to veer off the highway and roll over, killing three children and two adults, authorities said Thursday. (AP Photo/Louisiana State Police)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Michael and Trudi Hardman had always talked about taking their six children to Disney World, and just a week before Thanksgiving, it seemed their “dream trip” was to be a reality. But just a little more than three hours after they took to the road Wednesday night, their SUV veered off a highway… Continue reading →

Luke! Luke! Luke! Will Les Miles let the Marine play?

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- United States Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Luke Boyd, 27, center, shares a moment with his wife, Tina, 28, and daughter, Natalie, 18 months, during a promotion ceremony at LSU's Stadium Club in Tiger Stadium, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. Boyd, who is a walk on with the LSU football team, was promoted from Sergeant to Staff Sergeant.

Luke Boyd isn’t like everyone else on the LSU football team. He’s 27 years old. He’s a walk-on. And he’s an active Marine who has spent time in Afghanistan. Read The Advocate’s preseason feature on Boyd. As LSU closes its regular season on Thanksgiving night against Texas A&M, Boyd comes a… Continue reading →

City Hall Buzz blog: Why one civic association president says crime districts are about more than crime

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- A sign at the entrance to Shenandoah Estates at Jones Creek Road and Shenandoah Avenue warns of law enforcement patrols and the subdivision's crime prevention district.

Voters in four Baton Rouge neighborhoods will vote on imposing mandatory fees for neighborhood crime districts in the Dec. 6 election. Find out if your neighborhood is included here. One civic association president says the districts are a way to enforce homeowner association dues. See her comments and more details here.… Continue reading →

WWL-TV video: Saints fan, Bengals fan in ball incident meet over beignets

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--After having a touchdown ball taken from her by a Saints fan a a Bengals fan was given a ball and took photos with other Saints fans in a game between the New Orleans Saints and the Cincinnati Bengals in the Superdome in New Orleans, La. Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014.

Two strangers brought together by a now-notorious event at Sunday’s Saints-Bengals game at the Superdome met recently for hugs and beignets. Yes, hugs. The duo involved in a controversial football catch in the endzone stands expressed mutual respect and absolutely no hard feelings over the incident. See the WWL-TV story and video here.… Continue reading →

City Hall Buzz: Library Board wants to give director a raise, but can’t

Advocate staff file photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD -- Library Director Spencer Watts speaks at a East Baton Rouge Parish Library Board meeting in 2013 at the BREC Headquarters.

East Baton Rouge Library Board members say Library Director Spencer Watts deserves a raise. But he’s at the top of his position’s pay scale, and efforts in the past to increase the range have failed. See the full story here.… Continue reading →

‘Daily Show’ takes on Mary Landrieu, Keystone XL efforts

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and the Keystone XL oil pipeline bill sponsor, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014. The U.S. Senate has rejected a proposal to fast-track the approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Jon Stewart, on Thursday’s “Daily Show,” poked fun at Louisiana’s U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and her unsuccessful effort this week to get the Senate to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. See the clip here.… Continue reading →

Jury finds Monique Kitts, Karl Howard guilty in murder-for-hire case

Advocate staff photo by ANGELA MAJOR -- Monique Kitts sits in the back of a police unit after being found guilty Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014, at the Port Allen courthouse.

The monthlong trial for a woman accused of killing her husband in a murder-for-hire scheme came to an end Thursday when a West Baton Rouge Parish jury found her and the gunman she hired guilty of second-degree murder. Monique O. Kitts, 45, of Livingston, and Karl Michael… Continue reading →

Feds question Jindal’s standing to sue over Common Core standards

Advocate staff file photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- La. Gov. Bobby Jindal

Gov. Bobby Jindal has no right to sue the federal government over Common Core academic standards that Louisiana voluntarily decided to use, an Obama administration attorney told a federal judge in Baton Rouge on Thursday. In arguments before U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick, an attorney for the U.S. Justice Department noted that the governor once supported… Continue reading →

Hamilton appointed as EBR Redevelopment Authority interim director

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Gwen Hamilto

Longtime public servant Gwen Hamilton was appointed on Thursday to succeed Walter Monsour as the leader of the East Baton Rouge Parish Redevelopment Authority, a public agency fighting to stay afloat amid its financial dire straits. The Redevelopment Authority board approved her in an interim capacity, with a salary of $75,000, which is less than one-third… Continue reading →

Obama: Target ‘felons, not families’

President Barack Obama announces executive actions on immigration during a nationally televised address from the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. Obama outlined a plan on Thursday to relax U.S. immigration policy, affecting as many as 5 million people. (AP Photo/Jim Bourg, Pool)

Spurning furious Republicans, President Barack Obama unveiled expansive executive actions on immigration Thursday night to spare nearly 5 million people in the U.S. illegally from deportation and refocus enforcement efforts on “felons, not families.” The moves, affecting mostly parents and young people, marked the most sweeping changes to the nation’s fractured immigration… Continue reading →