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Storms roar through Acadiana; more rough weather expected into Tuesday, but should clear by afternoon

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- A large branch lies across the roof of a home at the corner of St. Patrick and Congress Streets following a heavy thunderstorm that moved through the region Monday in Lafayette.

Some schools were closed and about 28,800 Acadiana residents were without power Monday after a severe thunderstorm outpaced the forecast and, with little warning, passed over the region at 8:15 a.m. But forecasters are predicting clear and cool weather after the last of several days of severe and sporadic thunderstorms is expected to pass through the… Continue reading →

Body found in vehicle submerged in Broussard coulee

One person is dead after a vehicle was found submerged in a coulee Monday afternoon near the 1400 block of Duchamp Road, the St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Office said. Deputies responded to the scene around 4 p.m. and suspect only one person was in the vehicle when it ran off the roadway,… Continue reading →

Statements given by investigator are allowed at trial on DWI bribery accusations, federal magistrate rules

Statements a private investigator gave to agents as they searched his home in the investigation of a DWI bribery scheme in the 15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office can be used as evidence in his upcoming trial, a federal magistrate judge has found. U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick Hanna’s finding is a recommendation to U.S. District Judge Elizabeth… Continue reading →

Around Acadiana: Neighborhood grants available

From left, Richard Burgess, Marsha Sills and Billy Gunn.

Downtown Lafayette is now accepting applications until May 8 from downtown-area neighborhoods for grants of up to $1,000 for improvement projects. Eligible neighborhoods include the Freetown-Port Rico, McComb Veazey and LaPlace coteries. Projects must be on a list of 20 approved-projects in the Neighborhood Toolkit approved by Lafayette Consolidated Government. Neighborhood coteries are also encouraged to apply… Continue reading →

Man shot three times while his wife and child watched; deputies continued search for two people Monday, the Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office reported

Investigators are working to identify two people who forced their way into a Kathy Meadows apartment late Friday and shot a man three times as his wife and young child looked on. The family was returning home shortly before midnight when two people in dark clothing and ski masks entered the apartment and… Continue reading →

Lafayette General Health partnering with Ochsner network

Lafayette General Health is joining the Ochsner Health Network, but the “long-term, strategic partnership” doesn’t involve a purchase or acquisition by either organization. Instead the agreement will allow the health organizations to combine their buying power to help reduce costs for specialty items, such as implants and cardiology-related items, Lafayette General Health President David L. Callecod… Continue reading →

Julia Williams named as principal at Northside High

Advocate file photo by BRYAN TUCK Julia Williams has been named the new principal of Northside High School in Lafayette.

Julia Williams left from work at Northside High as its assistant principal on Friday and reported to her new job Monday as the school’s top leader. As Northside High’s new principal, Williams said, she plans to focus on improving the culture of the troubled school, revamping its academic intervention program and developing professional learning communities among the… Continue reading →

Kip Judice prepares to take over helm of Duson’s Police Department; aldermen agree to raise officers’ starting salary

Kip Judice

Duson’s police force will soon double in size after the town’s aldermen approved hiring two officers and agreed to increase the starting salary, making it the second-highest in the parish. It was the first effort by new Police Chief Kip Judice, who was sworn in as chief on Tuesday and won the Board of Aldermen’s approval for… Continue reading →

Acdiana Crime Blotter for April 27, 2015

Arrests posted April 26, 2015, on the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s web site: Mohammed Alwadai: 24, of the 200 block of Oak Crest Drive, Lafayette. He was booked on misdemeanor operating a vehicle while intoxicated and hit and run driving. Christopher Blaine Blanchard: 40,… Continue reading →

29th Festival International de Louisiane brings world flavor and as many as 400,000 visitors to Lafayette

Advocate Photo by LEE CELANO  -   Members of the Noisitian Coalition of New Orleans march down Jefferson Street on the final day of Festival International de Louisiane Sunday, April 26, 2015.

With the rain’s noticeable absence on Sunday, revelers enjoyed the last hours of this year’s Festival International de Louisiane listening to the bands’ dynamic sounds, devouring local dishes and wandering through Marché du Monde’s rows of imported goods. The community-based festival completed its 29th year as the largest, free, outdoor Francophone event in the country. The… Continue reading →

UL-Lafayette music professors create online textbook to teach piano

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- University of Louisiana at Lafayette Music Professors Susanna Garcia, left, and Chan Kiat Lim have created an online textbook used to teach students piano.

Two music professors at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette have helped bring traditional piano instruction into the 21st century with their online textbook that’s changing the way musicians are taught. The brainchild of Susanna Garcia and Chan Kiat Lim, eNovative Piano is used by about 40 schools across the U.S., including colleges, high schools… Continue reading →

Rain doesn’t stop fans from enjoying Lafayette’s Festival International de Louisiane

Advocate Photo by LEE CELANO  -  Anna Lindblad plays fiddle with Anya Burgesss   on a sidewalk after their show at Festival International de Louisiane was cancelled due to rain Sat, April 25, 2015.

When the fiddles started playing shortly before 2 p.m. Saturday for the Nova Scotian band Unisson’s sound check, Lafayette resident Kay Couvillion couldn’t stop herself from dancing. After a morning of steady rain and performance cancellations, Couvillion and other revelers at Lafayette’s 29th annual Festival International de Louisiane greeted the start of Saturday’s festivities the only… Continue reading →

Lafayette decorator took on family of Mark Knight in court battle and won, no easy task

Years before he was implicated in a drug-arrest setup of his brother, former Knight Oil Tools CEO Mark Knight played a leading role in the criminal prosecution of his mother’s interior decorator on charges of forgery. The decorator, Judy Lyons, eventually prevailed against charges initially made in 2006 that she illegally signed Knight Oil Tools matriarch… Continue reading →

Two St. Martinville men arrested after drug raids on Governor Mouton Street homes

Items seized by St. Martin Parish Sheriff's deputies Friday, April 24, 2015.

Sister of man accused of breaking softball coach’s nose in Youngsville melee said to have withheld information from police

A Lafayette youth softball coach is expected to surrender to police Friday evening, accused of withholding information about the post-game brawl in Youngsville that began among teenagers and ended when an adult coach was slugged in the face. Charell Jackson, the 30-year-old head coach of the Brown Park Athletic Association’s U16 girls slow-pitch softball team, withheld information… Continue reading →

What to do with those plastic shopping bags? Lafayette students are collecting them to make a bus bench

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- The Albertson's supermarket on Johnston Street has set up a collection point for used shopping bags that will be recycled to create park benches in Lafayette.

Lafayette Middle School students are gathering up thousands of plastic bags that will be bundled, recycled and transformed into a bus bench. Lafayette Middle is pitting its homeroom classes against one another to collect plastic bags in a pilot program spearheaded by city-parish government to promote recycling. The Plastic Bag Roundup project is an… Continue reading →

Hurricane forums to focus on updated forecasting technology

Lessons learned from hurricanes Katrina and Rita have paved the way for improved coordination among public agencies and private businesses to help communities better prepare for, and recover from, disasters, say officials who have coordinated hurricane preparedness forums planned Monday in Lafayette and Lake Charles. The forums will focus on hurricane preparedness and new storm forecast… Continue reading →

Strong storms create tornado watch for southwest Louisiana

A tornado watch has been issued for a large part of southwest Louisiana Friday afternoon until 6 p.m., according to the National Weather Service. The parishes included in the watch are Acadia, Allen, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Evangeline, Iberia, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, Rapides, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, Vermilion and Vernon. A tornado watch means… Continue reading →

Private investigator charged in Lafayette DWI scandals seeks to have statement to FBI suppressed

The private investigator accused of securing special plea deals by handing out gifts and cash at the 15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office wants to block federal prosecutors from using a statement he gave to agents during a 2012 search of his home. Robert Williamson faces trial June 8 on charges of fraud, bribery and lying… Continue reading →

Knight Oil looking for new chairman; authorities complete investigation into frame-up scheme

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- The Knight Oil Tools office in Lafayette.

Knight Oil Tools announced Thursday that it has started a search for a board chairman, a position left vacant after former Chairman Mark Knight’s recent arrest on suspicion he tried to frame his brother in a drug bust last year. Meanwhile, Lafayette Parish investigators have wrapped up the investigation into Knight and three other… Continue reading →

Lafayette board eyes mid-May start date for new school superintendent

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Donald Aguillard, left, listens to Lafayette Parish School Board Member Britt Latiolais before Aguillard's interview for the Lafayette Parish Schools Superintendent position Wednesday in Lafayette. The School Board unanimously selected Aguillard.

The Lafayette Parish School Board will soon begin contract negotiations with a goal of securing a mid-May start date for its unanimous choice for the superintendent job, board President Tommy Angelle said Thursday. The board chose former Lafayette Parish administrator and current St. Mary Parish Schools Superintendent Donald Aguillard for the job after interviewing… Continue reading →

Troopers to conduct sobriety checkpoint Friday in Vermilion Parish

State Police say they plan to conduct a sobriety checkpoint Friday at an undisclosed location in Vermilion Parish. Troopers are calling the checkpoint a “No Refusal” operation, Troop I spokesman Brooks David said. Although the public reserves the right — no matter the occasion — to refuse a breath analysis measuring their level of intoxication,… Continue reading →

Fraud investigation launched into Lafayette Parish mosquito control contract

The company that the city-parish government pays to spray for mosquitoes allegedly falsified information about outreach work called for under the public contract, according to documents obtained from city-parish government. Mosquito Control Contractors Inc., a New Iberia-based firm that has had the spraying contract in Lafayette Parish since 2002, has fired the employee responsible for… Continue reading →

Stella Porter honored as Lafayette school bus driver of the year

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Lafayette Parish Bus Driver Stella Porter is greeted with balloons and flowers as she makes her stop at J.W. Faulk Elementary Wednesday morning in Lafayette. Porter was selected as this year's Bus Driver of the Year for the Parish.

Lafayette Parish School System bus driver Stella Porter was surprised Wednesday morning with news she was selected as school bus driver of the year. Porter has been employed by the school system since 2001 and drives special education students for J.W. Faulk Elementary School. The school system asked the public to vote online for their favorite… Continue reading →

Lafayette police investigating rash of Ford truck thefts

All but one of eight Ford pickup trucks stolen over the weekend in Lafayette have been recovered as police continue investigating who’s responsible for stealing the trucks and trying to sell them on Craigslist. Police said surveillance footage shows two men and two vehicles believed to be involved in the thefts but have not named any… Continue reading →

Arrests posted April 21, 2015, on the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s website

MONTANA JAMES ALLEMAN: 26, of the 1500 block of Wilderness Trail, Carencro. He was booked on distribution or possession with intent to distribute Schedule II narcotics and prohibited activities (drug paraphernalia). SCOTT L. BERCEGEAY: 51, of the 100 block of Aberdeen Drive, Lafayette. He was booked on cruelty to juveniles and misdemeanor distribution… Continue reading →

Evangeline sheriff, Ville Platte police under federal investigation for possibly detaining people without probable cause

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday new investigations into whether two Evangeline Parish law enforcement agencies have been violating the Constitution and federal law by detaining people without probable cause. Authorities will determine whether the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Ville Platte Police Department have been misusing “investigative holds” to conduct unlawful… Continue reading →

With some meetings lasting 4-5 hours, the Lafayette School Board is considering ways to streamline meetings while ensuring public input

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Lafayette Parish School Board Member Erick Knezek works on his computer during a recent board meeting in Lafayette. The school board has taken steps since January to improve the efficiency of its meetings.

The Lafayette Parish School Board is taking steps to become more efficient in how it conducts its business: creating committees and possibly streamlining its agenda and installing a new electronic voting system. It’s all designed to curtail meetings that have lasted four hours or more. The new board took office in January… Continue reading →

Lafayette School System releases 2015-16 school calendar

Lafayette Parish School System students start the 2015-16 school year on Aug. 13 and end the academic year on May 24, 2016, according to the recently released calendar for the upcoming school year. In-service for new teachers is scheduled Aug. 3-5 and a districtwide in-service is planned Aug. 6 with an optional additional training day on… Continue reading →