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Resolving immigration issues loom big for the Louisiana crawfish season and its processors

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- Immigrant laborers peel boiled crawfish to be packaged and sold by the pound on Thursday morning at Riceland Crawfish in Eunice. Labor issues are making it difficult for many processors to find enough peelers to clean the amount of crawfish needed.

Going into what is supposed to be the biggest sales week of the crawfish season, processor Dexter Guillory, of Eunice, says he is nothing but worried. One month into the peak season, during which the crawfish industry makes most of its money, an immigration kerfuffle has kept Guillory and most of the owners of the state’s dozen… Continue reading →

Area officials prepare for closure of Baton Rouge Mid City emergency room

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Baton Rouge General's mid-city campus.

At 7 a.m. Tuesday, Baton Rouge General Medical Center’s Mid City emergency room will close, pulling the plug on what hospital officials call a financial money pit that threatened hospital operations. It’s the second emergency room shutdown within two years in the urban environs of Louisiana’s capital city. The first came as LSU’s charity hospital… Continue reading →

Mallet masters of Red Stick Croquet Club play for love of game

Photo provided by Javier Fernandez -- Red Stick Croquet Club president Carl Jarratt lines up a shot.

The Red Stick Croquet Club plays a variation of the game that’s far removed from the image of kids with mallets haphazardly knocking colored balls through wickets in the backyard. For members of the club, it’s a sport centered on thinking and it involves serious competition. Think games involving strategy, like chess, billiards and backgammon.… Continue reading →

Kentucky outlasts top-ranked LSU in back-and-forth 12-10 win to take the series

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU's Chris Sciambra (5) returns safely to first base on a pickoff attempt against Kentucky, Sunday, Mar. 30, 2015, at LSU's Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field in Baton Rouge, La.

LSU shortstop Alex Bregman sat on the ground nearly 300 feet from home plate, the baseball on the slick surface of Alex Box Stadium’s left field, as a Kentucky pinch hitter rounded the bases for an improbable inside-the-park home run. Yep, that summed up the weekend. “It was just weird,” Bregman said, “all around.” With… Continue reading →

Voters say ‘no’ to sales tax hikes for Zachary schools and the West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office

Voters on Saturday soundly defeated two unrelated requests for sales tax increases that would have directed cash toward the Zachary school system and the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office. In East Baton Rouge Parish, Zachary voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposed 1 percent sales tax increase that would have funneled several million dollars into the Zachary Community… Continue reading →

Man dies, mother missing after boat capsizes in St. Tammany

BUSH — A boating accident has left one man dead and a Folsom mother missing after her three children were rescued from the Pearl River Canal in St. Tammany Parish, authorities said. Authorities said their flat boat capsized on the Pearl River Canal at about 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Terry O’Keefe Jr., 41, who… Continue reading →

Court to decide whether Livingston Parish can remove gate that prevents access to King George Bayou

A couple who owns property near French Settlement said an accidental shooting or armed confrontation could occur if a state court judge allows Livingston Parish officials to tear down their gate. Calvin and Brenda Howell, of Tennessee, erected the gate across a gravel drive that they say extends from the paved portion of King George Road to… Continue reading →

New Orleans: 'Home of the shortest hangover on the planet,' and other Matthew McConaughey musings of the Crescent City

Actor and producer Matthew McConaughey spoke Saturday night during the New Orleans Film Society gala at the home of Paul and Sara Costello, in a short speech that summed up his fond feelings about the Crescent City, “home of the shortest hangover on the planet.” Here are the five best quotes from his speech. (Advocate photo by Steven Forster)

Actor and producer Matthew McConaughey spoke Saturday night during the New Orleans Film Society gala at the home of Paul and Sara Costello, in a short speech that summed up his fond feelings about the Crescent City, “home of the shortest hangover on the planet.” McConaughey, an on-and-off resident of New Orleans, attended the annual gala… Continue reading →

Opportunity Machine helps hard-working entrepreneurs find success

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Fit Life Owner Brian Broussard has taken part in the Opportunity Machine, an incubator that is designed to accelerate small businesses.

Budding entrepreneurs looking to become the next Steve Jobs or local fitness center magnate Red Lerille might want to consider the Opportunity Machine. The Lafayette Economic Development Authority is offering technical assistance through its Opportunity Machine initiative to help local entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level. The Opportunity Machine has been working… Continue reading →

Ask The Advocate: Barricade mystery in Central; leaving kids alone

Photo submitted by David Barrow, chief administrative officer for the City of Central -- These barricades on Tynewood Avenue in Central have been illegally erected. The city pulls them down, but then they pop up again.

QUESTION: Why has Tynewood Avenue in Central been barricaded for months? The road looks fine on either side of the barricades. Is the road closure official or just some resident’s personal effort to prevent traffic between Comite Hills West and Hampton Village Estates? ANSWER: David Barrow, chief administrative officer… Continue reading →

Arrests posted Mar. 29, 2015, on the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s web site: JAMES D. ANDRES: 25, of the 100 block of Luke Street, Grand Coteau. He was booked on misdemeanor operating a vehicle while intoxicated. CLAYTON J. BENOIT: 42, of the… Continue reading →

Darrell Ourso wins Louisiana House seat for southeast East Baton Rouge

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --  Metro Councilman Buddy Amoroso, left, speaks as fellow councilman Joel Boe, right, listens, during discussion about attorney Mary Olive Pierson in the Metro Council meeting in January.

Former Baton Rouge Metro Councilman Darrell Ourso won by 72 votes a special runoff election to represent southeast Baton Rouge neighborhoods in the Louisiana Legislature. With all 29 precincts reporting Saturday night, Ourso had 1,958 votes, or 50.9 percent of the total cast, to Metro Councilman Buddy Amoroso’s 1,886 ballots. Secretary of State Tom Schedler expected… Continue reading →

Barges sit idle, Louisiana workers furloughed as oil price drop hits home

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Unused inland drilling rigs are stacked together at the Port of Ibieria Thursday.

Tucked away in a slip at the far east side of the Port of Iberia, a dozen Parker Drilling inland barges are lashed together, three wide and four deep. The Parker rigs won’t be drilling for oil or gas again anytime soon. “They laid off close to 300 — mostly floor hands, roustabouts, roughnecks,… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge cop killer’s mental capacity at issue in case before U.S. Supreme Court

Provided Photo Baton Rouge police Cpl. Betty Smothers who was killed in 1993 (PP)

Thirteen years after barring the execution of mentally disabled inmates and 10 months after nullifying a strict IQ limit for determining who can be executed, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday will wade once again into the ever-evolving death penalty waters when it hears arguments in the 1993 ambush slaying of Baton Rouge police Cpl. Betty Smothers.… Continue reading →

Vietnam Vets get overdue welcome home at USS KIDD event

Advocate photo by Mark H. Hunter -- (L.) Al Coburn, 68, US Navy Vietnam veteran, '66-70, chats with Col. Walter Smith, USMC retired, the featured speaker at the 4th annual "Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans" service held at the Louisiana Memorial Plaza in downtown Baton Rouge on Saturday.

Forty-six years ago, David Ervin was cursed as a “baby-killer,” he said, upon his return home after serving a 1967-68 tour of duty as a gunner on a river patrol boat in the Mekong Delta. On Saturday, the now gray-haired veteran, 68, and dozens of his brothers in arms were honored and publicly thanked by about… Continue reading →

Steve Scalise had good week as whip

House GOP Whip Steve Scalise, R-La. speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his office at the U.S. Capitol, on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 in Washington. Scalise is facing a test of his vote-wrangling skills as the chamber votes on the Republican budget proposal. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Last week was a good week for U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, of Jefferson — and in terms of his battered public image over his recent performance as a member of the House leadership, it must have come as a welcome relief. “You can’t focus on the day-to-day criticism of the… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge group to focus on quality of life issues facing black families

Advocate staff photo by  APRIL BUFFINGTON --  Glenda Williams, left, Leslie T. Grover, middle and Lue Russell, right bow their heads in prayer at the National Congress of Black Women: Greater Baton Rouge Region Chapter official charter program held at the Capitol Park Welcome Center on Saturday, March 28.

Thirty-seven black women professionals and residents have formed the Baton Rouge area’s first chapter of the National Congress of Black Women — a group that will discuss quality-of-life issues facing black families. “We recognize the great need of service in the African-American community … so this is another arm of service to that population but also… Continue reading →

Family Justice Center in Lafayette aims to consolidate help for victims of domestic violence

An effort is underway to launch a Lafayette center where victims of domestic violence will be able seek help and file police and legal paperwork in one location, helping to keep survivors safe from future violence. The search is on for a site to open the Family Justice Center sometime next year, said Crystal Scrantz, program… Continue reading →

Democrats back John Bel Edwards as candidate for governor

Advocate Photo by MARK BALLARD -- State Rep. John Bel Edwards, of Amite, while the leaders of the Louisiana Democratic Party vote Saturday to nominate him as their sole candidate for governor in October election.

Hoping to avoid a crowded gubernatorial race that would dilute their strength, leaders of the Louisiana Democratic Party on Saturday endorsed state Rep. John Bel Edwards, of Amite, as their candidate for governor. The Democratic State Central Committee opened nominations, accepted Edwards’ bid and then quickly closed nominations to applause. Edwards, 48, gave a… Continue reading →

12 booked on suspicion of DWI in East Baton Rouge Parish

Authorities arrested at least 12 people suspected of driving while intoxicated in East Baton Rouge Parish and booked them into Parish Prison between 2:30 p.m. Friday and 2:30 p.m. Saturday, booking records show. Those booked and the counts against them: Blake Arnold, 29, 144 W. McKinley St., Baton Rouge, third-offense DWI, driver’s… Continue reading →

UL-Lafayette softball coach to miss three-game series in Texas

Advocate photo by LEE CELANO -- Louisiana-Lafayette softbal coach Michael Lotief

SAN MARCOS, Texas — Louisiana-Lafayette softball coach Michael Lotief did not accompany the team for its three-game series with Texas State as he is attending to a personal medical matter back in Lafayette, the school announced Saturday morning, minutes before the first pitch of a doubleheader. The university requested that Lotief’s personal privacy be respected… Continue reading →

St. George petition forgery victim calls on organizers to file legal complaint: ‘If they know the fraud exists, then they should take action’

Advocate file photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD -- Signs on Bluebonnet Boulevard notify drivers of a petition drive for city of St. George supporters outside Louisiana Lagniappe in Baton Rouge in January of 2014.

A man who said his signature was forged on the city of St. George incorporation petition wants leaders of the new city movement to make things right by filing a formal legal complaint with authorities. Meanwhile, three more people told The Advocate their names appeared on the petition without their consent, bringing the total number of forgeries to… Continue reading →

Police allege former Baker school system supervisor illegally purchased and then stole 717 items: gazebo, saws, folding tables, fireplaces, disco globes

Emmitt Whitfield

The former maintenance supervisor for Baker public schools was booked Thursday night in parish prison for the second time in four months, this time accused of buying without permission and stealing 717 items worth an estimated $128,000, enough apparently to stock a section of a Home Depot. The unauthorized purchases range from a gazebo to 117… Continue reading →

Senate leaders offer bill to control TOPS costs, with support this time from Taylor Foundation and the Board of Regents

Senator Jack Donahue

Legislation aimed at reining in the costs of TOPS, the state’s popular college tuition-paying program, was filed Friday. But unlike previous years, when similar measures have gone down to defeat, state Sen. Jack Donahue is more optimistic, saying the legislation has the backing of the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation, which founded the scholarship, and… Continue reading →

Three-car wreck leaves one dead and numerous injured in St. Landry Parish

A three-car wreck in St. Landry Parish left one man dead and 10 people injured on Friday night, according to State Police. The crash occurred at about 9:30 p.m. Friday, when Catherine Arclese, 47, tried to cross both U.S. 190 lanes to get to the I-49 ramp and her car crashed into 18-year-old Brandell Pryor’s Chevrolet Silverado,… Continue reading →

State representative race, tax proposals are among ballot items in East Baton Rouge and nearby parishes on Saturday

Voters head to the polls Saturday in select Louisiana parishes, picking a new state representative in the southern part of East Baton Rouge Parish and deciding possible sales tax increases in West Baton Rouge Parish and Zachary. Gonzales voters also will vote in a City Council contest, selecting among three Gonzales residents to fill a… Continue reading →

Police allege former Baker school system supervisor illegally purchased and then stole 717 items: gazebo, saws, folding tables, fireplaces, disco globes

Emmitt Whitfield

The former maintenance supervisor for Baker public schools was booked Thursday night in parish prison for the second time in four months, this time accused of buying without permission and stealing 717 items worth an estimated $128,000, enough apparently to stock a section of a Home Depot. The unauthorized purchases range from a gazebo to 117… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge motorcycle officer injured when hit by car in Baker

A Baton Rouge Police motorcycle officer riding north on La. 19 in Baker on Friday evening is recovering at a hospital from moderate injuries after hitting a car that pulled out into the highway from a side street, said Baker Police Chief Mike Knaps. “I guess they just didn’t see him,” Knaps said. “Pulled out right… Continue reading →