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Louisiana motor vehicles offices back online, serving public a day after fire disruption

Drivers are again able to renew their licenses and handle other business at Louisiana’s motor vehicles offices. A day after a fire at the state police data center shut down transaction processing, Office of Motor Vehicles locations across Louisiana reopened Friday. The Thursday morning fire disrupted all automated systems at the Department of Public Safety, including… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Gov. Bobby Jindal’s 'marriage and conscience' executive order makes him look mean-spirited — and weak

The verdict on Gov. Bobby Jindal’s “marriage and conscience” executive order is in, and it’s a two-parter. Legally speaking, the order — which Jindal issued hours after a state legislative committee had shelved a controversial bill aimed at protecting businesses that refuse to serve same-sex couples — does very little. In terms of… Continue reading →

Zachary police plan DWI checkpoint

Advocate staff file photo by Patrick Dennis -- La. State Police from Troop B, Kenner, demonstrate how they conduct DWI checkpoints for police officers from 80 agencies statewide.

In an effort to reduce impaired driving in their community, Zachary police will be conducting a DWI checkpoint Friday night in the Zachary area, according to Police Chief David McDavid. “If you drink, don’t drive, and if you must do both, do so responsibly,” McDavid said. Though checkpoints are often held in conjunction with other… Continue reading →

Dueling executive orders: In response to Gov. Bobby Jindal, Mayor Mitch Landrieu touts New Orleans as an 'inviting city that thrives on its diversity'

Photo courtesy of mayor's office -- On Thursday, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed an executive order "aimed at clarifying to the nation that New Orleans is a welcoming city where discrimination in any form is not tolerated."

Two days after Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order that critics said could promote discrimination against gays and lesbians, Mayor Mitch Landrieu on Thursday issued one of his own that he said would make clear to the rest of the nation that New Orleans “is an accepting, inviting city that thrives on its… Continue reading →

LSU swings big bats in victory, earns Friday off before Saturday semis in SEC tournament, aka 'LSU Invitational'

Advocate staff photo by ANDREA MABRY -- Jared Foster and Jake Fraley celebrate after Foster scored during Thursday's game against Arkansas at the Southeastern Conference tournament in Hoover, Ala.

HOOVER, Ala. – Who needs starting pitching? Not LSU. Not here. The Tigers overcame a second sluggish starting pitching performance in 24 hours by flashing their big-hitting guns, and Russell Reynolds shined in relief as LSU beat Arkansas 10-5 to advance to the Southeastern Conference tournament semifinals. Coach… Continue reading →

Taylor Swift, Bayou Country Superfest serve up a star-studded weekend of music in Baton Rouge; here's everything you need to know

Taylor Swift poses in the press room with the awards for top Billboard 200 album for 1989, top female artist, chart achievement, top artist, top Billboard 200 artist, top hot 100 artist, top digital song artist, and top streaming song (video) for Shake It Off at the Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, May 17, 2015, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Eric Jamison/Invision/AP) ORG XMIT: INVW

FRIDAY What: Superstar Taylor Swift encores in Tiger Stadium with Vance Joy, Shawn Mendes. It will be her second performance in the venerable football fortress. In 2010, the then 20-year-old Swift topped day one of the first Bayou Country Superfest. Her appearance was a mutual love fest between the young singer and… Continue reading →

MERS board to address accusations its director spent thousands of dollars of public money on meals, out-of-state trips

State Treasurer John Kennedy urged the governing board overseeing the statewide Municipal Employees Retirement System to take swift and firm action addressing allegations that the agency’s director recklessly spent thousands of public dollars on meals and out-of-state trips. Allegations targeting MERS Director Robert Rust surfaced this week with a WVUE report about potentially inappropriate… Continue reading →

In unique pact, LSU’s Cain Center to help Lee High develop three specialized academies

The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board on Thursday agreed to hire LSU for $1.5 million over the next five years to help Lee High School create three specialized academies focusing on digital arts, biomedicine, and science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. The agreement, which is with LSU’s Cain Center, also would pay… Continue reading →

Angola prisoners get ‘appropriate, quality care’, but there are challenges, a state health official said Thursday

Prisoners at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola receive quality health care, the state corrections department’s medical director said Thursday in response to a lawsuit that described the service as grossly deficient. Dr. Raman Singh, medical and mental health director for the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, acknowledged that Angola’s 6,200-plus prisoner population presents its challenges… Continue reading →

Pointe Coupee gearing up for improved 911 service, but needs help from residents whose homes don’t have posted street addresses

The Pointe Coupee Parish 911 system is set to take what officials describe as a “quantum leap” into the future, thanks to a $300,000 upgrade that will allow operators to pinpoint call locations from cellphones. The upgrade comes at a time when the Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury is launching a monthlong… Continue reading →

Lafayette city-parish government to spend $110,000 to hire 5 part-time firefighters for rural departments

City-parish government is paying to add part-time staff at fire departments in Milton, Judice and Duson, all of which have had trouble finding enough volunteers to cover rural fire calls in western Lafayette Parish. This week, the City-Parish Council signed off on spending about $110,000 a year for two part-time firefighters at the Milton Volunteer Fire Department,… Continue reading →

Lafayette School Board committee grappling with increasing legal expenses

A Lafayette Parish School Board committee is looking at ways to stem the school system’s rising legal bills, which have doubled in the past year. The reasons for the mounting legal costs involve employee litigation, including the lawsuit involving former Superintendent Pat Cooper, and claims for bus accidents and worker’s compensation. Three options… Continue reading →

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

Authorities arrested at least one person suspected of driving while intoxicated in East Baton Rouge Parish and booked him into Parish Prison between 2:30 p.m. Wednesday and 2:30 p.m. Thursday, booking records show. Travis Vessell, 32, 5604 Blackmore Road, St. Francisville, was booked on first-offense DWI, flight from officer, expired registration, driving left of center,… Continue reading →

Former state School Boards Association official jailed after making ‘exactly zero’ restitution for two years after admitting to theft, judge orders Thursday

A former Louisiana School Boards Association bookkeeper who admitted more than two years ago that she stole $100,000 from the group and agreed to pay it back has repaid “exactly zero” of the money and will stay in jail until a June 19 probation revocation hearing, a Baton Rouge judge said Thursday. Doris Butler, 52, of… Continue reading →

Bayou Country Superfest tickets available on the cheap, but hotels report high demand

Advocate staff photo by LIZ CONDO. Photo shot on 05/28/10. Trax No. 00021822A / Taylor Swift performs at the Bayou Country Superfest in Tiger Stadium Saturday May 29, 2010.

In the run-up to Bayou Country Superfest last year, organizers predicted record-breaking attendance and touted Baton Rouge hotel sellouts more than a month before the event. This year, tickets don’t seem to be quite as coveted. Concertgoers checking out the online seller StubHub on Thursday could find single-day general admission tickets for less than half of… Continue reading →

Insurance guaranty fund votes to send state $74 million to help fill budget hole

The Louisiana Insurance Guaranty Association’s board voted Thursday to send $74 million of its surplus to the state, if the Legislature passes a law making the fund transfer legal. LIGA was set up to pay the claims of failed property insurance companies through fees collected from insurers doing business in the state. Insurance companies receive a… Continue reading →

Louisiana House to Gov. Bobby Jindal: Pay your own travel expenses

Wearing a Kansas City Royals jersey, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, left, looks on as Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, gives a speech at New Steel and Pipe Supply in New Century, Kan., Monday, Oct. 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

Louisiana legislators clipped Gov. Bobby Jindal’s wings Thursday by inserting wording into the state budget that would require the governor’s office to pay the out-of-state travel expenses of his security detail. Jindal spent almost 45 percent of 2014 outside Louisiana attending political events. He has kept up the pace so far in 2015 and since forming a… Continue reading →

Louisiana Senate bill would bar school suspension as a punishment for students violating uniform rules

The Louisiana Senate approved a bill Thursday that would bar public and charter schools from suspending or expelling elementary school students for violating school uniform rules. Senate Bill 54 sponsored by Sen. Sharon Weston Broome, D-Baton Rouge, was significantly scaled back from an earlier version. The initial bill would have barred schools from expelling or suspending… Continue reading →

Lafayette Sheriff’s Office, Catholic Services of Acadiana to present forum on homeless issues

Two agencies that interact with Acadiana’s homeless population on a daily basis will host a discussion next week on the reasons some people have no homes and the complexities surrounding the issue that prevent easy remedies. The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office and Catholic Services of Acadiana will present the free two-hour discussion beginning at 1 p.m.… Continue reading →

Vermilion sheriff’s deputies book two men on drug counts

Jeremy Melancon, left, and Chet Miller

Agents with the Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit arrested two Abbeville men this week suspected of distributing methamphetamine, with one of the suspects allegedly tossing a plastic bag containing the illegal drug out of a car window when police started following the pair. Jeremy Melancon, 38, 308 Laura St., was booked on suspicion of possessing… Continue reading →

Lafayette police blotter for Thursday, May 21

Arrests posted May 21, 2015, on the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s web site: ANDREW MICHAEL ALBRITTON: 20, of the 300 block of Bell Downs Drive, Lafayette. He was booked on misdemeanor operating a vehicle while intoxicated and improper lane change (no accident). DANIEL RAY ALEXANDER:… Continue reading →

Reward offered for equipment return

Jeremy Melancon

The St. Martin Parish Fire District is trying to recover thousands of dollars in equipment stolen in mid-May from the Catahoula Volunteer Fire Department. Brian Castille, a coordinator with the fire district, said the Catahoula equipment was stolen sometime between May 13 and May 15. The fire district is offering… Continue reading →

Man flees during traffic stop, police find rifle and marijuana in vehicle, Sheriff’s Office reports

Items found inside the vehicle of a man who fled from officers Wednesday afternoon.

A man fled from and was later captured by officers Wednesday afternoon after leaving behind an AK-47 and drugs in his vehicle during a traffic stop. The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office reports that Markus Morris, 27, was being pulled over for non-working brake lights near Highland Road and Chatsworth Street when he jumped out… Continue reading →

St. Martin fire official seeks to recover stolen equipment

The St. Martin Parish Fire District is trying to recover thousands of dollars in equipment stolen in mid-May from the Catahoula Volunteer Fire Department. Brian Castille, a coordinator with the fire district, said the Catahoula equipment was stolen sometime between May 13 and May 15. The fire district is offering… Continue reading →

Worker stringing cable electrocuted in Prairieville after coming into contact with overhead power lines

Updated at 5:42 p.m.A Mississippi man working in an elevated boom truck was electrocuted late Thursday morning in Ascension Parish when he apparently came into contact with overhead power lines along La. 73, authorities said. The electrocution and subsequent efforts to recover the victim’s body resulted in the shutdown of La. 73 between La. 42… Continue reading →

Bill to allow car inspections every five years killed; opponents cite risk of vehicle problems, harm to inspection stations

A Louisiana Senate panel Thursday killed a bill that would allow car and truck inspections every five years in some areas. The proposal, House Bill 564, earlier cleared the state House. But the Senate Transportation Committee voted 3-2 to shelve the measure, which likely means it is dead for the session. The legislation excluded motor… Continue reading →