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Lafayette council votes for new zoning restrictions on Louisiana Avenue, looking to limit apartment complexes

Advocate staff file photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Lafayette City-Parish Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux in 2013.

The City-Parish Council on Tuesday approved new limits on the development of apartment complexes along Louisiana Avenue between Willow Street and Interstate 10. Apartments already faced some restrictions under special zoning rules approved for Louisiana Avenue in 2005, but those limits would have largely gone away under a city wide overhaul on zoning regulations scheduled… Continue reading →

Tangipahoa Parish Council votes to hire second attorney in DEQ landfill dispute; legal bills at $120,000 and climbing

Photo from DEQ public records -- Piles of shredded waste tire material sit near the berm of a firing range in Tangipahoa Parish and included in a report on an April inspection from the state Department of Environmental Quality. DEQ has filed a compliance order against the parish because this material was supposed to be stored at the landfill location and was not supposed to be stockpiled unless it was destined for a DEQ approved project.

The Tangipahoa Parish Council voted Tuesday to hire a second attorney to help determine its options in its dispute with the state over the use of shredded tires at the parish landfill. The council also voted to extend a settlement offer to the state Department of Environmental Quality regarding millions of pounds… Continue reading →

Three primary schools, a middle school and initial work on a new high school to be included in bond proposal going to Ascension voters on April 9

Advocate staff file photo by BILL FEIG -- Ascension Parish School Superintendent Patrice Pujol in 2014.

The Ascension Parish School Board on Tuesday approved 14 projects — most of them designed to address overcrowding in the fast-growing parish — that it hopes will be accomplished with a $120 million bond proposal going before voters on April 9. Three new primary schools and a new middle school… Continue reading →

In rare unity, BESE candidates blast timeline for Common Core test results

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Candidates answer panel questions Tuesday night at BRCC during a candidates forum for two Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) seats. In attendence for the forum are left to right, Laree Lejeune Taylor, Kathy Edmondson, Jason Engen, Jason France; Jean Armstrong, president Leaders With Vision; Carolyn Hill and Jada Lewis.

Wading into a statewide controversy, six candidates for Louisiana’s top school board said Tuesday night the state is taking too long in releasing Common Core test scores. “No question, they need to be here more quickly,” said Jason Engen, a Republican candidate for the District 6 slot on the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, which… Continue reading →

Scott Angelle’s close ties to oil helps his campaign for governor

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Louisiana Public Service Commissioner, Dist. 2., Scott Angelle takes part in the gubernatorial candidates debate at WDSU in New Orleans, La. Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015.

Scott Angelle has been touting his service on the state Public Service Commission as he campaigns for governor, but what he doesn’t say is that he also has a private gig that pays him far more — as an appointed board member of an oil and gas pipeline company that does business in Louisiana. Continue reading →

Officials promise the proposed elevated I-49 Connector through Lafayette will do more good than harm

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- Sherri LeBas, Secretary with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, speaks to the public about the benefits of constructing an I-49 corridor through Lafayette on Tuesday at the Rosa Parks Transportation Center. Behind LeBas, from left, is David Mann, Chairman of the I-49 South Coalition, Joey Durel, Lafayette City-Parish President, Vincent Pierre, District 44 Representative, and Joel Robideaux, District 45 Representative

At a time when many urban areas are talking about tearing down elevated interstates built decades ago, Lafayette is just beginning to talk seriously about how best to build a new one through the middle of the city. The potential downsides of big, elevated roadways — that they can divide communities, foul local traffic patterns and… Continue reading →

Ascension Parish resident shoots down neighbor’s drone; owner says it was flying too high to be a problem

(AP File Photo/Bruce Crummy) 2014 file photo of a Draganflyer X4-ES drone.

An Ascension Parish man hunting squirrels on his property Monday shot down a neighbor’s drone that had been flying over his home for several months, making his wife feel as though she was being watched. Aaron Hernandez, the owner of the drone, which was outfitted with a camera, said Tuesday he was flying his $1,200 remote-controlled… Continue reading →

Hillary Clinton sends copy of her book to Bobby Jindal, other GOP candidates; gift addressed to 'Piyush Jindal'

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is among the group of Republican presidential hopefuls who will be gifted a copy of Democrat Hillary Clinton’s book — straight from her campaign. Er… make that “Piyush Jindal.” CNN reported Tuesday that Clinton joked during a campaign stop in Iowa that she sent copies of her 2014 memoir Hard Choices, which covers her… Continue reading →

District 69 candidate Paula Davis using "woman's place" comment to fuel her campaign

Paula Davis, who is running for the Louisiana Legislature’s District 69 House of Representatives Seat, is now using a remark that she called offensive as fuel for her campaign. Davis, a Republican, is running against fellow Republican Ryan Heck and Democrat Mark Holden for the seat. When she sought the nomination of the local Republican party, one member commentedthat… Continue reading →

Man with multiple immigration-related arrests, including a deportation, pleads guilty to fraud in passport application in New Iberia

A man from Mexico pleaded guilty this week to committing fraud when he applied for a passport in New Iberia in 2013, officials said. Federico Vargas Mares, 28, pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court to federal Magistrate Judge Patrick Hanna. The plea becomes final upon approval by Judge Richard Haik, U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley said.… Continue reading →

St. Landry man enters guilty plea in cocaine distribution case

A 47-year-old St. Landry Parish resident has pleaded guilty in federal court to his role in a 2013 cocaine distribution conspiracy, officials said Tuesday. Steven Paul Banks, of Palmetto, pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to distribute 500 grams of cocaine and 28 grams of cocaine base, which is a form of cocaine, U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley… Continue reading →

South Louisiana Community College teams with churches and organizations to recruit first-generation students in effort to break cycle of poverty

Churches and community groups in the Lafayette area have partnered with South Louisiana Community College to help recruit students in an effort to take on the challenge of breaking the cycle of poverty in the community. The 100 Black Men of Greater Lafayette, the Senior Pastors United Alliance and several church congregations have united with SLCC… Continue reading →

Owner of George’s restaurants 'Smokie' Bourgeois running for Baton Rouge mayor-president

. Former Baton Rouge Metro Councilman Rodney “Smokie” Bourgeois says he’s running for mayor-president next year. Bourgeois was a councilman for one term in District 12 before he lost his re-election bid to John Delgado. Bourgeois, known for his irreverent sense of humor, was an outspoken opponent of funding for downtown projects. The Republican advocated against building a new library downtown,… Continue reading →

Ex-wife makes three who have been arrested in the fraudulent national credit repair scheme

Jessica Clements-Batiste, 26.

The ex-wife of a man accused of orchestrating a national credit-repair fraud scheme was arrested Tuesday, bringing the total number of people facing criminal charges in the conspiracy to three. Jessica Clements-Batiste, 26, faces racketeering counts for helping her former spouse, 24-year-old Donald Batiste, trick hundreds of people into buying stolen Social Security numbers as… Continue reading →

LSU able to host South Carolina Saturday; Columbia plagued by water main breaks

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Aerial of LSU showing the track, PMAC, Tiger Stadium and new Alex Box Stadium.

The LSU-South Carolina set for Saturday in flood-ravaged Columbia, South Carolina, could be moved, possibly even to Baton Rouge. Continue reading →

Tempers flare at tense meeting between Glenmore Avenue homeowners, bicyclists over bike lanes

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Vehicles parked  along Glenmore St. block the designated bike path.

Bicycles lined the outside of a Mid City church on Monday evening. Cars were packed into the parking lot and several vehicles parked on the shoulder of the road, blocking the bike lanes at the corner of Capital Heights Boulevard and Glenmore Avenue. The view outside almost perfectly illustrated the fight that was happening inside the… Continue reading →

Weather Channel asks: What do you consider sweater — or, if you prefer, gumbo — weather?

What’s considered “sweater weather”? Depends on whom you ask. The Weather Channel conducted a survey of people in the United States (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) to find out what temperature makes people break out their sweaters. Of 6,586 respondents, 59 percent placed the sweater weather cutoff into the 55 to 65 degree range. The results show… Continue reading →

St. Landry high school principal, basketball coach arrested after physical confrontation with student

A St. Landry Parish high school principal and a coach were placed on administrative leave Tuesday following their arrests a day earlier in a physical confrontation with a student. Beau Chene High School Principal Keith James, 49, was booked on a count of simple battery in the incident and later released on a $1,000 bond, according… Continue reading →

See Lafayette-area arrests for Oct. 5, 2015

Arrests posted Oct. 5, 2015, on the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s website. RYAN ARCENEAUX: 44, of the 200 block of Teurlings Drive, Lafayette. He was booked on fugitive. JOHNIE WAYNE BENOIT: 46, of the 100 block of Cabana Row, Lafayette. He was booked on felony simple criminal damage to property; resisting an officer;… Continue reading →

Today's Rundown: Bobby Jindal set to release second book; political strategist James Carville says gubernatorial debate a disaster

. Today in The Rundown: We review Gov. Bobby Jindal’s latest book; Republicans hit the breaks on leadership shuffle in DC; Carville criticizes WDSU debate; and much more. Get The Rundown in your inbox by filling out the form here. Countdown…
Days until the 2015 primary election day: 18
Days until the runoff (as needed): 46
Days until the Iowa caucuses: 120 Where… Continue reading →

Homeless man accused of masturbating on BREC park bench

Francis Peter

A homeless Baton Rouge man was arrested after a woman walking her dog Monday afternoon saw him masturbating on a bench in the Antioch BREC park, the Sheriff’s Office says. East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s deputies went to the park to investigate after the woman reported the incident. She told deputies she was walking her dog in the… Continue reading →

Baker police: Contractor accused of taking advantage of elderly clients to the tune of $500,000

Tanweer Bhatti, 63

A handful of elderly neighbors in a Baker subdivision shelled out nearly $500,000 to a fast-talking contractor for extensive renovations of their homes, but according to city Police Chief Mike Knaps, the contractor pocketed the cash while performing shoddy work. Tanweer Bhatti, the owner of Baton Rouge-based Southern Siding Co. Inc., was arrested Monday on two counts… Continue reading →

Hot Air Balloon Festival turns a profit for second time since moving to Ascension Parish four years ago

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Pilots ignite their burners during the balloon glow, Friday, September 25, 2015, at the Ascension Hot Air Balloon Festival at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales, La.

Two suspected of DWI between Sunday, Monday in East Baton Rouge Parish

Authorities arrested at least two people suspected of driving while intoxicated in East Baton Rouge Parish and booked them into Parish Prison between 2:30 p.m. Sunday and 2:30 p.m. Monday, booking records show. Those booked and the counts against them: Michael Miller, 43, 2120 Hillstone Drive, Baton Rouge, first-offense DWI, driving with a suspended or revoked… Continue reading →

New Iberia woman killed in head-on collision

A New Iberia woman was killed Monday after another car crossed a centerline and collided head-on with her SUV. Marette D. Stevens, 55, died at an area hospital after the crash on La. 3195 near Estate Drive, which happened around 10:30 a.m., according to State Police. Police said they are still investigating why Sharon Witzel, 26,… Continue reading →

Louisiana's congressional delegation asks for more time to become REAL ID compliant before enforcement begins

With the deadline on Saturday, the Louisiana congressional delegation asked federal authorities to wait a while before forbidding the use of state drivers’ licenses to access federal courthouses, military bases and other facilities, saying the state would be in compliance soon. A majority of the state’s U.S. representatives and senators asked that the enforcement of the… Continue reading →

Ascension deputy: A bad day that led to plans to go out with friends ended in a domestic killing Friday

A fight Friday night over a man’s plans to go out with his friends ended when his girlfriend stabbed him with a kitchen knife, killing him, said Lt. Col. Bobby Webre, of the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office. Jonqualya Benton, 20, was booked into the Ascension Parish Prison early Saturday morning on a count of manslaughter in the… Continue reading →

School superintendent asks community to help children overcome obstacles; looks to future of district

Advocate staff photo by CHARLES LUSSIER -- East Baton Rouge Parish Superintendent Warren Drake gave an update Monday on the school system he took over in June to members of the Baton Rouge Press Club.

East Baton Rouge Parish School Superintendent Warren Drake says he’s enlisting the support of everyone he can in Baton Rouge to assist children in overcoming the many obstacles that keep them from succeeding as adults. “In the past four months, I have reached out and engaged every community organization in Baton Rouge,” Drake told the Baton… Continue reading →

Audit report: UL at Lafayette food services company catered parties for student union director for free

Advocate staff photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK --  A Sodexo food service van is parked outside of the student union at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Monday, October 5, 2015, in Lafayette, La.

An audit released on Monday revealed the company selling food services to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette overbilled the school on some occasions, provided free catering for non-university events involving a former school official and brokered unwritten meal deals with university employees in exchange for cleaning services and football tickets. The state Legislative Auditor’s… Continue reading →

Armed man robs Circle K on Brightside Drive early Monday morning

Police search for armed robber who stole from a Circle K at 1910 Brightside Drive on Oct. 5, 2015.

Baton Rouge police are looking for the man who robbed a Circle K convenience store Monday morning armed with a handgun. Around 6 a.m., the man walked into the minimart at 1910 Brightside Drive in Baton Rouge, demanded money from an employee, and fled with cash, said Baton Rouge Police Cpl. Don Coppola, in a news… Continue reading →