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Bruce Foods yam division in New Iberia to close

The South Carolina foods company that in late 2013 purchased Bruce Foods, including its yams product line, plans to close down the processing plant near New Iberia and lay off more than 100 workers. McCall Farms on Friday made the announcement about the planned closure, citing “current business conditions,” according to KATC-TV,… Continue reading →

U.S. Sen. David Vitter to President Obama: I ask that you host a screening of 'The Interview' for all of Congress in the White House next month

U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., wants to see “The Interview” -- at the White House, with 534 of his closest friends. Vitter wrote President Barack Obama on Friday to request a screening for members of Congress of the satiric film about North Korea. The movie mocks North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Sony Pictures… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge police seek suspect who allegedly kidnapped 7-year-old girl from BREC park, sexually assaulted her

Photo provided by BRPD -- Police released a picture of a car relevant to the investigation of a kidnapping on Dec, 13, 2014, at Gus Young Park. The car is described as a golden or tan Nissan Maxima with four doors.

A man who authorities are trying to identify kidnapped a young girl from a BREC park one day in mid-December and sexually assaulted her, Baton Rouge police said. Police said the man lured the 7-year-old girl away from Gus Young Park and into a vehicle on Dec. 13, then drove her to another location and sexually assaulted… Continue reading →

Nearly $1 billion in Katrina, Rita housing aid under scrutiny after recipients don't follow rules

Advocate staff photo by Richard Alan Hannon -- Homeowners in St. Tammany Parish rebuild in the months after Hurricane Katrina.

The state has identified nearly $1 billion in federal housing aid after hurricanes Katrina and Rita in which recipients failed to comply with the rules, Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera said Monday morning. Purpera said the problems were discovered by the state Division of Administration, totaled $939 million and involved 15,095 homeowners. In addition, the… Continue reading →

Fines collected for Baton Rouge misdemeanor jail, but no plans yet on when it will open

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Metro Councilman Trae Welch makes a point during discussion in an April 2013 council meeting.

After four full months of East Baton Rouge Parish judges imposing a new fee on people who fail to appear in court for traffic and misdemeanor offenses, the city-parish already has raised more than $160,000. That money is specifically earmarked, per the direction of state legislation passed this summer, for a misdemeanor jail.… Continue reading →

Saints’ playoff hopes are put to rest as Falcons fly off with a 30-14 victory

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD --   New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) is stuffed by the Atlanta Falcons defense during the third quarter Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints lost 30-14.

The New Orleans Saints’ locker room in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday afternoon was already about two-thirds empty by the time the doors opened to those allowed to mill about inside. To call the mood somber would be painting too rosy of a picture. It was stiff. Players were crestfallen and spoke in hushed… Continue reading →

A month after one tragedy, Baton Rouge family now searching for missing 4-year-old boy

Photo provided by BRPD -- Jassiah Clark

‚ÄčOriginal post A 4-year-old Baton Rouge boy has been missing since Saturday afternoon, placing new strain on his family still mourning the deaths of two men close to the child who killed each other in an argument only one month ago. Jassiah Clark… Continue reading →

Sources: Texas A&M has contacted LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis who hasn't signed Tigers' new deal

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis watches pregame warmups before the Tigers' win over Sam Houston State on Sept. 6.

Texas A&M has reached out to LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis about its open coordinator position, multiple sources told The Advocate on Sunday. Chavis’ intentions are not clear. LSU has offered Chavis a new contract with an extension, but it has not been signed, sources said as of Monday morning. Chavis just completed… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge-area police, fire news: Firefighter injured; dog dies in blaze; 14 booked on suspicion of DWI

A Baton Rouge firefighter suffered a leg injury when two fire departments battled an apartment building blaze early Sunday that damaged all eight units. Firefighters who were called to the Hampton Court Apartments, 2424 Drusilla Lane, about 4:45 a.m. Sunday, saw smoke coming from the building, Baton Rouge Fire Department spokesman Mark Miles said in a news… Continue reading →

Ask The Advocate: Firewood — a lesson before buying

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Esses Smith sells cords of firewood, as well as smaller stacks, at 8074 Pecue Lane.

Q. With our mild winters here, I and some acquaintances depend on our fireplaces for warmth if it does get below 50 degrees. What’s the standard in amount of wood one is to get when ordering a cord? With the price of firewood up, the logs delivered seem nothing to what I think it… Continue reading →

Lafayette Parish residents seek more classroom materials on ethnic studies

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Lafayette Parish School Board Member Shelton Cobb, center, addresses the audience during the first of three school board candidate forums in this September 2014 Advocate file photo.

Sometime early next year, a task force will explore ways to ensure the various cultures in Lafayette Parish are reflected in the materials students use in the classroom. Last month, the Lafayette Parish School Board proposed a diversity and ethnic studies task force to discuss diversity issues within the school system. Board member Shelton Cobb said… Continue reading →

Dormitory fire causes evacuation Sunday

Photo provided by Louisiana State Police -- Vernell Bazile

A fire broke out in a University of Louisiana at Lafayette dormitory Sunday morning, spurring an evacuation as officials worked to figure out the fire’s cause, University Police reported. Firefighters arrived about 10 a.m. Sunday to find black smoke billowing from the rear of Baker Hall, an undergraduate residence hall on campus, said Cpl. Billy Abrams,… Continue reading →

Saints blog: John Parry: Not enough evidence to overturn Jimmy Graham fumble

Atlanta Falcons strong safety Kemal Ishmael (36) scoops up a fumble after a reception by New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) at the goal line in the second half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

Here is official John Parry’s explanation for why Jimmy Graham’s fourth-quarter fumble was not overturned to a touchdown following a replay: To read the complete blog entry, please click here.… Continue reading →

Walt Handelsman: Let us prey

Walt Handelsman is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist and animator whose work appears in The Advocate four days a week. Follow this link to the cartoon.… Continue reading →

More or less? Jail costs at issue in East Baton Rouge jail proposal

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Unit 2 entrance gate at East Baton Rouge Parish Prison.

At any given time, between 400 and 700 East Baton Rouge Parish inmates are housed in jails across the state — some as far-flung as East Carroll Parish in Louisiana’s remote northeast corner. It’s a less than ideal situation for law enforcement and criminal defense attorneys but necessary, as East Baton Rouge Parish Prison just doesn’t… Continue reading →

LSU Law Center offers buyouts to 7 professors as interest in law schools dwindles nationally

Advocate staff file photo by Richard Alan Hannon -- The LSU Law Center

LSU’s Law Center is offering an incentive to seven professors if they retire next summer as it looks to cut costs amid a dwindling interest in law schools nationally. The professors, all older than 65 and tenured faculty members, have until Monday to decide whether they will retire June 30 and get paid a bonus of roughly… Continue reading →

Louisiana rice farmers could benefit from normalized Cuba relations

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Rice farmer Allen McLain, left, watches his son, Allen McLain Jr., load rice into a truck at their drying station Wednesday in Abbeville in this December 2013 Advocate file photo.

The prospect for normalized relations with Cuba could be good news for Louisiana rice farmers, who have fought to reopen what had been a lucrative market before the 1962 embargo and again as recently as a decade ago. “That would be a very big deal for the rice industry,” said Dustin Harrell, who is set… Continue reading →

Starting layoffs, cutting budgets: Louisiana oil service companies already adjusting to falling crude prices

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Brock Investor Servcies' Dale Doucet looks over the downward trend in oil prices on his computer Thursday at his office in Lafayette.

The financial pain felt by Louisiana’s oil patch from falling crude prices could extend through next year, say industry watchers who warn of a slowdown that will hit before prices rebound and produce the healthy profits producers are accustomed to. On Friday, the price for West Texas Intermediate was $55.73 a… Continue reading →

Capitol Buzz: Jindals go camo for holidays

Bobby Jindal

The Jindal family went camo for Christmas this year. The family’s official Christmas card features Gov. Bobby Jindal, his wife, Supriya, and their kids sitting in an ATV, wearing camouflage hunting regalia in the wilds of the Governor’s Mansion grounds. “Oh what fun — May your Christmas be filled with joy and laughter,” the card says.… Continue reading →

Skaters take to the ice at BR River Center for thrills, spills and chills

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- First time ice skater Kailyn Simmons, left, yelps a little as her mom, Denham Springs' Janelle Simmons, right, puts on Kailyn's  snug-fitting skates, before they started a Saturday morning session of The River Center's annual ice skating event.

It was the first time ice skating for 5-year-old Kailyn Simmons — and the first time in a while for her mother, as well. “I’m kind of scared to figure out how I’m going to help her and me,” Kailyn’s mother, Janelle Simmons, said with a laugh. “I think we’re gonna fall a lot, but it’s going… Continue reading →

‘St. Nick’ aka Bishop Muench passes out gifts to needy kids at St. Vincent de Paul

Advocate staff photo by  APRIL BUFFINGTON --  Bishop Robert Muench a.k.a. St. Nick goes

Despite a biting, cold wind and a dreary, overcast sky, a long line of mostly women and children stretched outside the St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room on Saturday eagerly waiting to see what St. Nick had in his Christmas gift basket. St. Vincent de Paul President and CEO Michael J. Acaldo… Continue reading →

Bayou L’Ourse man accused of taking daughter hostage, shooting dog

Assumption Parish sheriff’s deputies on Saturday arrested a Bayou L’Ourse man accused of taking his 5-year-old daughter hostage and shooting their family dog. After staying up all night drinking with a friend, Danny Ray Reding fired his .22 caliber revolver four times, shooting his dog, a bulldog-pit bull mix, Sheriff Mike Waguespack said in a… Continue reading →

Geismar residents voice concerns about plans for sewage treatment plant

The proposed location of the central treatment plant for a future Ascension Parish sewer system has raised concerns among the Geismar residents who would be its neighbors one day. Parish Councilman Travis Turner said Friday that residents in his council district, which includes Geismar and the proposed plant site, are telling him they… Continue reading →

Marchers in Lafayette ‘Lives Matter Rally’ draw cheers, jeers

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Protesters get support from passing motorists Saturday while marching north on Ambassador Caffery Parkway in Lafayette. The marchers were protesting police violence.

Dense holiday traffic inched along Ambassador Caffery Parkway at Dover Boulevard in Lafayette on Saturday afternoon as more than 100 protesters with a Lives Matter Rally lay silent upon a grassy patch beside the roadway. Before a minute had passed, a driver revved the engine of his towering pickup and blasted a thick cloud of black smoke… Continue reading →

Lafayette police blotter for Dec. 21, 2014

Arrests posted Dec. 20, 2014, on the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office website: AUSTIN W. BENNETT: 24, of the 9000 block of Highland Road, Baton Rouge. He was booked on misdemeanor operating a vehicle while intoxicated and speeding 11 to 15. CALBERT JAMES BROUSSARD: 33, homeless, Lafayette. He was booked… Continue reading →

Analysts say banking industry ripe for consolidation

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- IberiaBank in Lafayette has grown to be the largest bank based in Louisiana with more than $15 billion in assets, primarily by acquiring other institutions. Its latest in-state acquisition was Teche Federal in nearby New Iberia, but its also been aggressively acquiring out-of-state banks to become a regional player in the industry.

Rising costs and stiff competition have sparked a wave of mergers through the national banking industry, and as the activity ripples through Louisiana, it could substantially alter the landscape for small financial institutions around the state. Forced to comply with expanding regulations in an environment where it was already difficult to make money, more bank owners… Continue reading →

Business Briefs for Dec. 21, 2014

The LSU Department of Accounting is offering the second annual LSU Tax Seminar on Jan. 8 and Jan. 9 at the Business Education Complex in room 1510. The seminar qualifies for 16 hours of CPE credit and 13.7 hours of CLE credit. Registration… Continue reading →

People in Business for Dec. 21, 2014

Charles F. D'Agostino, LSU Innovation Park and the Louisiana Business and Technology Center

Charles F. D’Agostino, executive director of LSU Innovation Park and the Louisiana Business and Technology Center, has been elected president of the Association of University Research Parks, which represents more than 700 research and science parks worldwide.… Continue reading →

Business Honors for Dec. 21, 2014

Laura Simpson, president of Dugas Pest Control, has won the 2014 the National Pest Management Association Women of Excellence Award and the 2014 PCT Crown Leadership Award. The NPMA award recognizes women who demonstrate outstanding leadership and have made notable contributions to the development and growth of other women in the industry.… Continue reading →

Business Briefs for Dec. 21, 2014

Winn-Dixie has completed a remodeling of its store at 12519 Airline Highway in Destrehan. The store was designed to combine the atmosphere of a specialty grocer with a touch of personalized service. Upgrades include new deli, bakery and seafood departments, a drive-through pharmacy, expanded… Continue reading →

People in Business for Dec. 21, 2014

Charles F. D'Agostino, LSU Innovation Park and the Louisiana Business and Technology Center

Jyric Sims, has been named chief operating officer at Tulane Medical Center. Sims was vice president and chief operating officer of HCA affiliate St. Lucie Medical Center in Port St. Lucie, Florida, a 229-bed medical center. Jyric holds a bachelor of science degree from LSU in Baton Rouge and a master… Continue reading →

Business Honors for Dec. 21, 2014

Laura Simpson, president of Dugas Pest Control, has won the 2014 the National Pest Management Association Women of Excellence Award and the 2014 PCT Crown Leadership Award. The NPMA award recognizes women who demonstrate outstanding leadership and have made notable contributions to the development and growth of other women in the industry.… Continue reading →

Plunging enrollment key issue in closure of Redemptorist High, Junior High in May 2015

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING --  Diocese of Baton Rouge Bishop Robert Muench, center, speaks at a press conference Friday morning, announcing that  low enrollment will cause the closing of Redemptorist Junior and Senior High Schools at the end of the current school year (June 30, 2015), but that Redemptorist Elementary will remain open. Melanie Verges, Diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Schools, is at right, and Geraldine Bordelon, a member of the Catholic Diocesan Schools Advisory Board, is at left at the announcement, held at the Catholic Life Center.

Diocese of Baton Rouge Bishop Robert Muench announced Friday that Redemptorist Senior and Junior High school will be closing at the end of this school year in May due to declining enrollment. Continue reading →

Metro Buzz: Roper accuses Metro Council member of violating court orders

Advocate file photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Baton Rouge City Hall

Fired Parish Attorney Mary Roper has accused Metro Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle of breaking court orders not to discuss an ongoing lawsuit. In court this week, Roper’s attorney Wade Shows argued that Marcelle should be held in contempt of the court, an argument that will play out come early January. Roper sued the city-parish… Continue reading →

BRAF: St. George would have to hike property taxes if incorporation effort succeeds

Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD --  Dustin Yates, right, helps Rebecca Mouk sign up during a petition drive for supporters of the City of St. George outside Louisiana Lagniappe on Bluebonnet Boulevard. in Baton Rouge in this January 2014 Advocate file photo.

If St. George successfully incorporates and becomes a new city, the new government and school board would have to raise property taxes by at least 20.5 mills to cover city operational costs and to build enough schools to house all the students living in the area, according to a report released Friday by the Baton Rouge… Continue reading →

Family remembers Baton Rouge shooting victim as charismatic, loving young man

Photo provided by Jordan Douglas -- Christian Allen

Whether he was making music, relaxing with friends or playing with his newborn son, Christian Allen always knew how to lighten the mood. That’s how relatives remembered the 22-year-old man fatally shot a block away from his Baton Rouge home Thursday night. “He was a very bright, respectable young man,” said his mother, Sandra Chew. “If… Continue reading →

Agency puts hold on La. Medicaid pharmacy payments

The federal health agency has rejected Louisiana’s latest plans for Medicaid reimbursement of pharmacists for prescription drugs. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently notified Louisiana officials of its objection to the payment methodology. On Thursday, Louisiana Medicaid Director Ruth Kennedy received notice that the federal agency is deferring payment of… Continue reading →

Heartbroken students, alumni mourn Redemptorist High closure: ‘Everybody’s like family over there’

Redemptorist High School students on Friday mourned their final year at the school, which will close in May, while alumni recounted their favorite memories of the north Baton Rouge institution. Declining enrollment caused Diocese of Baton Rouge Bishop Robert Muench to announce Friday the closure of the junior and senior co-ed Catholic schools, a presence since 1947… Continue reading →

Cannon Road to be closed for repairs in Ascension Parish

A section of Cannon Road, an east-west cut-through route north of Gonzales, will be closed for a week starting 7 a.m. Monday, parish officials said. Workers will replace metal culverts under Cannon, a two-lane parish road that links La. 44 to La. 431, with a new box culvert, officials said in a… Continue reading →

BR woman wanted in theft of designer handbags from Hammond store

A Baton Rouge woman is wanted on a felony count of stealing designer handbags from TJ Maxx in Hammond, according to city police in Hammond. Gaberel Smith, 25, has previously been arrested for stealing from the TJ Maxx stores in Denham Springs and Baton Rouge. She’s also been picked up for shoplifting in Gonzales and Lafayette,… Continue reading →