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Thousands hit stores on Black Friday

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Throngs of shoppers make their way down the main corridor at the Mall of Louisiana during the traditional Black Friday retail shopping event.

Brandon Myles was among the thousands of shoppers moving through the corridors of the Mall of Louisiana in Baton Rouge on Black Friday. The 32-year-old local resident said he always shops on the day that retailers say helps push them to annual profits. “Basically, I just look for the bargains,” Myles said, adding he… Continue reading →

Mary Landrieu asks Bill Cassidy to bring records to the Monday debate

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING --  U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, left, talks withDonald J. 'Don' Cazayoux, Jr., left,  a former United States Attorney for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana, talks to Donald J. 'Don' Cazayoux, Jr., right, a former United States Attorney for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana,before a cerimonial investiture in which the Oath of Office was administered to to new U.S. Attorney Walt Green, at Russell B. Long Federal Building and Courthouse, August 1, 2014.

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu called Friday on her opponent, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, to produce records that show he performed the work promised LSU for a part-time teaching position. Landrieu referred to what she called serious allegations “about Congressman Cassidy’s practice of collecting a pay check and benefits package close to $50,000 a year for… Continue reading →

Hurricane season quiet as Atlantic storms stay out at sea

The 2014 Atlantic hurricane season matched expectations by being fairly quiet this year, generating only eight named storms, with just one making a glancing landfall in the United States. The hurricane season started on June 1 and officially ends Sunday, with most of the storms that did form staying out at sea and away from… Continue reading →

All aboard! KCS Holiday Express (and Santa) stop in Baton Rouge

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Corvin Cormier, 6, smiles as he watches a miniature train run the track inside one of the cars of Kansas City Southern's Holiday Express that stopped in Baton Rouge at their train yard on Foss Street, Friday, Nov. 28.

More than 1,000 people — mostly grown-ups with kids in tow — grabbed peppermint bannisters and hopped aboard the Kansas City Southern Holiday Express train when it stopped Friday in Baton Rouge. The colorfully decorated six-car train brightened a lackluster area of Baton Rouge near the tan Kansas City Southern Lines building and the gray BREC… Continue reading →

Contract worker injured at ExxonMobil refinery in Baton Rouge

A contractor working on Thanksgiving suffered an injury Thursday at the ExxonMobil Baton Rouge Refinery. The incident happened during the course of regular operations and the man was taken local hospital for further treatment, Lana Venable, a spokeswoman for ExxonMobil Baton Rouge, said in a prepared statement. The company would not elaborate on… Continue reading →

Crime Blotter: Bungled mattress delivery led to armed robbery

Two Baton Rouge men accused of trying to rob a part-time cable installation worker at gunpoint were said to have done so in retaliation for a mattress delivery gone awry. Brothers Maurice Jackson, 31, and Travys Jackson, 29, lured the man to their apartment with a cable installation request and struck him in the head with… Continue reading →

BR man injured in Ascension Parish hit-and-run crash

Updated at 6:02 p.m. — A Baton Rouge man was seriously injured Thursday evening in a hit-and-run crash on La. 70 west of La. 73 in Ascension Parish, State Police said. The incident happened shortly before 11:45 p.m. when an unknown motorist drove westbound through a closed-off construction zone, said Trooper 1st Class Jared Sandifer, a State Police spokesman. The vehicle struck… Continue reading →

Zachary School Board candidates keeping an eye on the budget

Heidi Vessel

The two candidates running for the Zachary School Board District 6 seat in the Dec. 6 election both want to maintain and expand programs that define Louisiana’s top performing schools. They recognize, however, that a tight budget could mean that extracurricular activities end up cut on their watch. Attorney Heidi Vessel and LSU instructor Elecia “Lisa” Lathon… Continue reading →

Woman dies in Assumption Parish collision

A 23-year-old motorist died Wednesday in a head-on collision with a Mack truck on La. 662 in Assumption Parish. Tasha Massoletti, of Morgan City, was driving northbound on La. 662 in a 2003 Ford F-150 about 9:30 a.m., when her truck crossed the center line and struck a Mack truck heading… Continue reading →

Acadiana Crime Blotter: Woman found alive with burn injuries

A woman was found alive with burn injuries Thursday afternoon as authorities were investigating a vehicle fire along the Charenton levee. The St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office began investigating the fire at 2:17 p.m., spokeswoman Traci Landry said. The woman was later found some distance from the fire, although when and how… Continue reading →

Early voting ends Saturday for Dec. 6 election

Saturday is the last day of early voting in advance of the Dec. 6 elections featuring the U.S. Senate race and two congressional runoffs. Before a two-day holiday break, nearly 175,000 people had voted, according to elections statistics through Wednesday. “That’s far more than we saw in the last congressional election in 2010 in which approximately… Continue reading →

Politics blog: Black conservatives fund targets Landrieu

Mary Landrieu and Bill Cassidy

The Black Conservatives Fund is the latest group taking aim at U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who is in jeopardy of losing her re-election bid in a Dec. 6 runoff against Republican Bill Cassidy. To read the complete blog post, please click here.… Continue reading →

Black Friday in Acadiana means holiday deals, full carts, happy shoppers

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- From right, Elizabeth Hoang, Roberto Crespo and Patrick Sarradet wait in line for Best Buy to open their doors Friday in Lafayette.

Eager Acadiana-area shoppers rushed through the aisles, piling televisions, toys and video game systems into overstuffed carts as early as 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day and into the early morning hours on Black Friday. For millions of people, the day after Thanksgiving is the time to do some serious Christmas shopping.… Continue reading →

Report: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal labeled 'everyone's backup' in GOP presidential field

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is slotted in the bottom tier of potential GOP presidential canddiates, according to a report from The Hill, a national blog covering Congress, politics and political campaigns. Among Republican strategists, one called Jindal "nobody's favorite and everyone's backup." Check out our politics blog to read about The Hill's report on Jindal's presdiential prospects.… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Blown calls, broken headsets, torched timeouts ... Tigers' win vs. Texas A&M had it all

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU cornerback Jalen Collins (32) celebrates as he comes off the field after his game-clinching interception with less than two minutes to go, in the game, Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014 in College Station, Texas. LSU won, 23-17.

And beneath it all, an undercurrent of brute force. Clumsy at times but powerful nonetheless, the wild Thanksgiving Day affair ended in a 23-17 LSU victory. Continue reading →

Enjoyable weather on tap this weekend for Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette

The weather should be perfect for people going to enjoy the festivities of Bayou Classic as Grambling takes on Southern University Saturday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Although Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Lafayette woke up to rather chilly temperatures Friday morning, the rest of the weekend should be clear and comfortable, according to the National Weather Service… Continue reading →

Call for more ESL teachers may hinge on Lafayette School System budget tweaks

Earlier this month, the Lafayette Parish School System issued a call for educators certified to teach English as a second language to help foreign-born students catch up with their new peers, but those plans may change because of budget concerns. The school system has about 1,400 students identified as English-as-a-second-language learners, up… Continue reading →

Voter turnout seen as key in 21st JDC judge runoffs


With about half as many people casting early votes for the Dec. 6 runoff elections as for the primary last month, candidates for two open seats in the 21st Judicial District Court said the key to success will be ensuring their supporters turn out to vote. In the Division A race, Mike Betts and… Continue reading →

Two Republicans battling in tough District 8 School Board race in East Baton Rouge

Chris Bailey, candidate for East Baton Rouge Parish School Board District 8

The fight for East Baton Rouge Parish School Board District 8 has grown uglier as it has entered the home stretch, with incumbent Connie Bernard and newcomer Chris Bailey fighting it out over new schools, party politics and their respective knowledge of the school system. Their biggest enemy as they approach Dec. 6, however, is not… Continue reading →

LSU runs to 23-17 win over Texas A&M in College Station

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU running back Leonard Fournette (7) beats his chest in the end zone, after scoring on a run on which it looked as though two Texas A&M tacklers would stop him, during the first half Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014 in College Station, Texas. LSU wide receiver John Diarse (9) is at left, and fullback Connor Neighbors (43) at right.

. Continue reading →

Thanksgiving in Baton Rouge: good food, good cheer, good deeds

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Volunteer Joe Pope, of Galveston, Texas, joined the Holiday Helpers in their annual Thanksgiving luncheon, Thursday, Nov. 27, at the Baton Rouge River Center.

With aprons on and plastic gloves covering willing hands, hundreds of volunteers turned out Thursday to serve lunch, and offer friendship, to hundreds of residents in need of both. Standing in line with family at the Baton Rouge River Center, volunteer Tannesha Williams, 45, said it was their first time volunteering at the Holiday Helpers Thanksgiving dinner.… Continue reading →

Landrieu, Cassidy spar over congressman's LSU income

Associated Press Photo by Gerald Herbert --  Republican U.S. Senate candidate  Bill Cassidy, of Baton Rouge, addresses supporters during his Nov. 4. election night watch party.

A spokesman for U.S. Sen Mary Landrieu’s campaign says documents posted by bloggers raise questions about U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy’s part-time teaching at the old charity hospital in Baton Rouge. Cassidy refutes the allegations, saying they’re based on an incomplete set of documents. Cassidy had worked for two decades at the LSU Earl K. Long Medical… Continue reading →

Louisiana college students carry lower loan costs, but the load is growing

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- A national report showing Louisiana students graduate with debt below the national average supports LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander's oft-repeated contention that LSU is a bargain.

Louisiana college students continue to graduate with lower average debt loads than graduates in most states across the country. A new report from the Project on Student Debt at The Institute for College Access & Success, or TICAS, also found fewer than half of the students graduating from Louisiana colleges and universities… Continue reading →

Changes to State Capitol traffic plan put on hold

Advocate Photo by MARSHA SHULER -- Visitors to the State Capitol this holiday season are in a construction zone with chain-link fences, ripped up pavement and materials stacked all around. It's part of a $4.37 million project.

Major traffic pattern changes planned as part of a State Capitol security upgrade are being delayed, the state’s construction manager said. The Louisiana Legislature begins its 2015 session in April, and there is a concern that the road work would not be completed in time, State Office of Facility Planning and Control Director Mark Moses said. Rather… Continue reading →

Bogalusa civil rights leader, Deacon for Defense Bob Hicks, honored

Photo provided by Olivia McClure -- From left, State Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, Jackie Hicks with an unidentified granddaughter , and Elder Christopher Matthews of Bethlehem Baptist Church of Bogalusa during a march last weekend commemorating 1960s civil rights leader Robert Hicks.

In Bogalusa, a mill town once ruled by white law enforcement and saturated with the Ku Klux Klan — often one and the same during the 1960s — a National Register of Historic Places marker now stands in front of a modest, aging gray house. There, in 1965, Robert “Bob” Hicks rallied African-Americans to take up the fight… Continue reading →

Political boundaries stretched in East Baton Rouge School Board race

An unusual battle of incumbents has emerged in the race for East Baton Rouge Parish School Board District 5 where Jerry Arbour and Evelyn Ware-Jackson are facing off in the Dec. 6 runoff election. The result could well determine the direction of the board over the next four years. The two have spent the past… Continue reading →

Age, experience factors in 19th Judicial District judge race

Beau Higginbotham, left, and Cleveland Coon

What began as a five-candidate field is now down to a two-man race, with longtime Southern University Law Center professor Cleveland Coon battling one of his former students, ex-prosecutor Beau Higginbotham, for the right to sit on the 19th Judicial District Court bench for the next six years. Coon, a 60-year-old Democrat, and Higginbotham, a 40-year-old… Continue reading →

Accused of stealing from coworkers, ATC employee arrested, fired

Louisiana State Police on Wednesday arrested a non-commissioned employee of the agency’s Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control accused of stealing money from her co-workers. Lindy Tullier was arrested after several of her coworkers reported money missing from their purses, according to a State Police news release. Investigators traced the thefts back to Tullier, the… Continue reading →

Food, friendship part of Lafayette’s Thanksgiving

Advocate Photo by LEE CELANO -- Volunteer Bob Holbrook prepares to debone a turkey at Bailey's Restaurant during a complimentary Thanksgiving dinner for community members in Lafayette on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014.

When Ema Haq moved to the U.S. 32 years ago, he had never heard about Thanksgiving. But for the past 22 years, Haq, with the help of volunteers, has opened his restaurant, Bailey’s Seafood and Grill, on this most American of holidays to offer food and friendship. “For me, it’s definitely… Continue reading →

Telemedicine clinic at Carencro school helps keep students in classroom

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- On a video screen, Dr. Donna Wilson, center, demonstrates how she would like to see Lafayette Parish School System Health and Wellness Director Bradley Cruice's throat with the help of Registered Nurse Maudrey Durand, right, during a demonstration of Ossun Elementary's telemedicine clinic in Lafayette.

From an exam room in Carencro Middle School’s school-based health center, Dr. Donna Jean Wilson uses technology to reach out and treat young patients who are sitting in front of a camera about five miles away at Ossun Elementary. Headaches, toothaches, and other aches and pains that typically would send some students… Continue reading →

Politics blog: Jindal comments on Ferguson, Politico reports

Associated Press photo by MELINDA DESLATTE -- Gov. Bobby Jindal

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is among the potential contenders for the GOP’s 2016 presidential nomination who sought out comments from on the events in Ferguson, Missouri, following the announcement that a grand jury opted not to indict Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot and killed unarmed black teen Michael Brown. To read the complete… Continue reading →

Walt Handelsman for Thanskgiving: Meet Uncle Bob the congressman; he's something special on Turkey Day

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 →

No jackpot winners in big Wednesday games

The Louisiana Lottery Corp. says nobody won three big mid-week drawings, so the jackpots are growing. Estimated jackpots Saturday are $290,000 for Easy 5, $500,000 for Lotto and $90 million for the Powerball. The biggest prize won in Louisiana for Wednesday night’s drawings was $10,000. The lottery corporation says one ticket matched four of the five… Continue reading →

New Orleans mulls a smoke ban in public places

Advocate file photo -- The New Orleans City Council is considering an ordinance to prohibit smoking in public places.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A cigarette with that Sazerac cocktail at a French Quarter bar might become a thing of the past in one of America’s most famously libertine cities. In a move surely to divide opinions, the New Orleans City Council is considering an ordinance to make it illegal to smoke in bars, casinos, parks, at… Continue reading →

DHH head: ‘alarming rate’ of ADHD medication in La.

Louisiana Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy Kliebert

Louisiana’s health secretary says the state has an “alarming rate” of medicating kids for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Secretary Kathy Kliebert will hold a free symposium about the syndrome in Baton Rouge on Tuesday, Dec. 9. She says parents, teachers, health care professionals and others are welcome. Topics will include frequency of diagnosis, medication rates, and… Continue reading →

Presidents pick up the check for their meals

FILE - This Aug. 14, 2012, file photo shows President Barack Obama paying for his coffee and muffins at the Coffee Connection, Tuesday, in Knoxville, Iowa. Theres no free lunch, or breakfast or dinner, for the president on Thanksgiving day. Or any other day for that matter. He has to dig into his pocket to pay for the holiday feast of turkey, ham, two kinds of stuffing, sweet and regular potatoes, and six different kinds of pie. Its a longstanding practice that presidents pay for meals for themselves, their families and personal guests. Obama also pays for other basics, everything from toothpaste to dry-cleaning. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — There’s no free lunch — or breakfast or dinner — for President Barack Obama on Thanksgiving Day. Or any other day for that matter. He has to dig into his pocket to pay for his holiday feast of turkey, ham, two kinds of stuffing, sweet and regular potatoes and six different kinds of pie.… Continue reading →

Politics blog: Jindal’s chief of staff makes local 40 under 40 list

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Kyle Plotkin

Kyle Plotkin, who became Gov. Bobby Jindal’s chief of staff earlier this year, has been named to the Baton Rouge Business Report’s “Forty Under 40” list for 2014. To read the complete blog post, please click here.… Continue reading →

Cassidy fundraising outpaces Landrieu in run-up to Dec. 6 U.S. Senate runoff

Leading in the polls heading into the Dec. 6 runoff for the U.S. Senate, Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, of Baton Rouge, also led in fundraising over his Democratic opponent, incumbent Mary Landrieu, in the latest filing period, according to Federal Election Commission reports. Cassidy reported taking in $2.2 million from Oct. 16 through Nov. 16. He… Continue reading →

Racism, obstruction of government claims fly in Gonzales; councilman resigns, another up for recall

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Gonzales City Council member Timothy Vessel Sr. waits for the start of the council meeting on June 23.

A rift in Gonzales framed by allegations of obstructionist government on one side and racism on the other led to the resignation of a City Council member Tuesday and a second councilman headed to a Dec. 6 recall election. Gary Lacombe avoided finding out whether Gonzales voters would oust him from… Continue reading →