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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 →

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, people… Continue reading →

Tax proposals, special election on Saturday’s elections in Lafayette, Iberia and St. Mary parishes

Voters head to the polls Saturday in some Louisiana parishes, with those in Lafayette deciding the fate of a property tax renewal for roads and bridges, as well as considering if the city-parish government should be allowed to use public health dollars for the animal shelter. Farther south, voters in St. Mary Parish also will consider… Continue reading →

A quick visit to the doctor, via telemedicine clinic, now prescribed for Lafayette city-parish workers

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- From left, Lafayette General Health Predient and CEO David Callecod, Lafayette Utilities System Director Terry Huval, Lafayette General Medical Center RN Amanda White and Lafayette Consolidated Government President Joey Durel discuss the new telemedicine clinic that has opened in City Hall Friday in Lafayette.

City-parish government employees can now visit a doctor without ever leaving the office. Lafayette General Health and city-parish government launched a new telemedicine clinic this month, allowing local government’s roughly 2,200 employees to step into an exam room at city hall and connect with a doctor via the Internet. The physician and patient can chat… Continue reading →

Charges dismissed against former Lafayette police officer accused of molesting a woman while on duty

Jackie Hagan

Prosecutors dismissed charges Thursday against a former Lafayette Police officer accused of sexually accosting a woman while on duty and in uniform. Jackie Hagan Jr., 36, was accused of sexual battery and malfeasance in office in an August 2011 incident outside the woman’s Lafayette home. The woman said she had been partying with her boyfriend… Continue reading →

Six applications now on file for Lafayette superintendent of schools position

At least six people have applied for the Lafayette Parish School System’s superintendent job, but it’s possible more applications are on the way because the job advertisement required that applications be postmarked — not received — by Friday. The School Board meets Wednesday to discuss how to pare down the list of candidates, whose names are… Continue reading →

Authorities bust Rayne man accused in crawfish heist

Photo provided by LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES -- Cary Gordon Bastian, 28, of Rayne, is accused of stealing six bags of crawfish on March 26, 2015, and fleeing from authorities trying to apprehend him for the burglary.

Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries agents are searching for a Rayne man accused of fleeing from authorities twice on Thursday after stealing crawfish from a farmer on Abbeville Highway. Cary Gordon Bastian, 28, sped away from the farm in his white Chevrolet Camaro at speeds of more than 100 mph after agents and… Continue reading →

Lafayette man wanted in Mercer Street killing surrenders to police

Photo provided by LAFAYETTE PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE -- Jordan Bernard, 21, of Lafayette, surrendered to police March 27, 2015, in the shooting death of 24-year-old Albert Gilbert of Sunset.

A Lafayette man surrendered to police Friday in a fatal shooting on Mercer Street. Jordan Bernard, 21, is accused of manslaughter in the March 21 killing of 24-year-old Albert Gilbert of Sunset. Police said they found Gilbert lying in the front yard of a residence in the 200 block of Mercer Street with multiple gunshot… Continue reading →

Diocese decides to close Trinity Catholic School in St. Martinville

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- Trinity Catholic Elementary School, as seen Monday, March 9, 2015, in St. Martinville.

The Diocese of Lafayette announced Friday it will close Trinity Catholic School in St. Martinville because of the school’s low enrollment and concerns about its long-term financial stability. “With deepest regret and after prayerful reflection, Bishop (Michael) Jarrell will allow the school to close at the end of the 2014-2015 academic year,” Monsignor Richard Greene,… Continue reading →

Youngsville man convicted in double slaying insists he is innocent; says relationship with girlfriend was fueled by crack addiction

Police said Eric Jude Abshire shot and killed his girlfriend and her stepfather early Wednesday morning in Lafayette.

A Youngsville man accused in a 2011 double homicide in Lafayette was convicted Thursday on two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Lona Carter and Lemuel Brown. Eric Abshire, 53, faces mandatory life sentences on both convictions and was taken into custody Thursday evening. Ten of 12 jury members returned guilty verdicts on both… Continue reading →

Census report: Lafayette sixth largest parish in state and fourth fastest growing

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Sugar cane is harvested last year from a field along Chemin Metairie Parkway in Youngsville. A New York company will invest $312 million for construction of 10 refineries designed to turn Louisiana sugar cane wastes into fuel pellets for global power companies,

Lafayette Parish was the fourth fastest-growing parish in Louisiana in 2014 and the fifth fastest since 2010, according to new census data. Lafayette grew 1.9 percent between 2013 and 2014 and nearly 6.1 percent since 2010, pushing the parish’s population to 235,644 on July 1, 2014, and making it the sixth-largest in Louisiana. Only St. Bernard,… Continue reading →

UL-Lafayette Alumni to honor Dwight Andrus Jr.

Dwight Andrus Jr., UL-Lafayette Alumni Association honoree

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette Alumni Association will honor Dwight Andrus Jr. at its 2015 Spring Gala. The black-tie event is from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. April 11 at the UL-Lafayette Student Union, 620 McKinley St., and features food, entertainment and silent and live auctions. Proceeds are dedicated to the maintenance and improvement of alumni… Continue reading →

Carencro principal files grievance against Lafayette board member

Tehmi Chassion, left, Spurgeon Banyard

Carencro Middle School Principal Spurgeon Banyard has filed a complaint against Lafayette Parish School Board member Tehmi Chassion alleging Chassion visited the school on Monday with the intent to harass and intimidate him. Banyard, in a grievance complaint he filed with the school system on March 24, accuses Chassion of visiting the campus to “try to… Continue reading →

Lafayette voters to decide Saturday to allow existing tax to be used for animal control, shelter

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- Katina Richard, adoption coordinator for the Lafayette Animal Shelter, carries two puppies to see their mother, who came in to the shelter heartworm positive, on Tuesday Sept. 16, 2014.

Lafayette Parish voters head to the polls Saturday to decide whether some of the tax money now collected for public health and mosquito control can also be used for the animal shelter and animal control services. The proposal would not raise taxes but rather loosen the legal restrictions on how existing tax revenue can be spent.… Continue reading →

St. Landry Parish Council lawyers up, hires attorney to defend it against lawsuit filed by developers of proposed addiction center

Accused in the 2011 slaying of a Lafayette woman and her stepfather, Eric Abshire expected to testify in his first-degree murder trial

A Youngsville man charged with killing a Lafayette woman and her stepfather in 2011 will take the stand Thursday in his first-degree murder trial. Eric Abshire, 53, is accused in the deaths of Lona Carter, 39, and 67-year-old Lemuel Brown at their home on Warren Street in north Lafayette. A neighbor found the two… Continue reading →

Four UL-Lafayette professors honored with Eminent Faculty awards

Chan Kiat Lim, UL-Lafayette Foundation 2015 Distinguished Professor award recipient

Four professors — in the fields of biology, environmental science, mathematics and music — have been named recipients of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Foundation’s Eminent Faculty Awards. The foundation’s 2015 Distinguished Professor Award recipients are: Paul L. Klerks, a biology professor; and Chan Kiat Lim, an associate professor music. Klerks specializes in… Continue reading →

Lafayette education advocacy group wants state to butt out of decisions

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- Representative Vincent Pierre speaks during an annual legislative breakfast held by PPEL on Wednesday morning at the Lafayette Science Museum.

A Lafayette-based public education advocacy group urged lawmakers Wednesday to overhaul procedures used to evaluate the performance of schools and teachers and to limit state intrusion into the decisions of local school boards. The group Power of Public Education Lafayette held its annual legislative breakfast on Wednesday to present its positions on prefiled legislation related to… Continue reading →

Willow Charter Academy in Lafayette to hold meeting for parents seeking enrollment information

Willow Charter Academy will hold a one-hour enrollment information meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the school, at 1818 Evangeline Thruway, for parents interested in enrolling their children for the 2015-16 school year. The meeting will feature an overview of the school’s “Moral Focus” curriculum, information from school leadership staff, school tours and… Continue reading →

Nearly two dozen charged in Texas, Louisiana drug ring

DALLAS (AP) — More than 20 people have been arrested in a Texas and Louisiana prescription drug ring allegedly using the homeless to pose as patients. Federal prosecutors in North Texas on Wednesday announced the 23 suspects are from Houston, Austin and Dallas, plus Lafayette and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. An indictment unsealed Tuesday in Dallas says… Continue reading →

Lafayette jury convicts Seth Fontenot of manslaughter, aggravated battery

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Seth Fontenot enters the Lafayette Parish Courthouse Tuesday morning.

Seth Fontenot side-stepped a murder conviction and a life prison sentence Wednesday in the shooting death of 15-year-old Austin Rivault but still faces up to 40 years for the crime. A jury deliberated two hours before deciding against convicting Fontenot on charges of first- or second-degree murder in the 2013 shooting, opting instead for the lesser charge… Continue reading →

Lafayette’s Global Data Systems to acquire MidSouth Technologies in Lockport

Lafayette-based Global Data Systems said it will acquire MidSouth Technologies of Lockport, a move that the company said will make it a premier provider of maritime communication services in the Western Hemisphere. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it will bring together Global Data’s background in IP voice communications, data center/cloud, security and… Continue reading →

Former Carencro officer pleads guilty to extortion in strip club probe

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Desperado's Cabaret in Lafayette.

A former Carencro police officer charged in the drug and prostitution investigation of Desperado’s Gentlemen’s Cabaret pleaded guilty Wednesday to extortion, the latest conviction in a federal probe that might implicate more Carencro officers. Timothy Prejean, 42, who was a sergeant in the Carencro Police Department until he resigned in February, faces up to 20 years after… Continue reading →

Simcoe Street shooting suspect arrested Tuesday

Photo provided by LAFAYETTE PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE -- Terrence Augustine, 29, of Lafayette, was booked March 24, 2015, on a count of attempted second-degree murder and two counts of fugitive in an Oct. 12, 2014, shooting on East Simcoe Street.

A Lafayette man wanted since October in a Simcoe Street shooting was arrested Tuesday. Terrence Augustine, 29, was booked on a count of attempted second-degree murder and two counts of fugitive, according to booking records. He was suspected in an Oct. 12 shooting in the 900 block of East Simcoe Street. The victim, a 34-year-old man,… Continue reading →

Amid uncertainty, Lafayette recruits teachers for ‘high-demand areas’

It’s recruiting season for newly minted certified teachers, and the Lafayette Parish School System human resource staff has started visits to colleges this week to try to find special education, math and science teachers. “We’re looking for people in high-demand areas,” said Bruce Leininger, human resources director. “People with a special education background, which… Continue reading →

Prosecutors grill Seth Fontenot about his account of teen’s killing

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Renee Rivault, left, and her husband, Kevin Rivault, parents of slain teen Austin Rivault, enter the Lafayette Parish Courthouse Tuesday morning for the trial of Seth Fontenot.

Prosecutors grilled Seth Fontenot in a contentious cross examination Tuesday in his first-degree murder trial in the shooting death of 15-year-old Austin Rivault, characterizing the incident as an “ambush.” Fontenot maintains he never intended to hurt anyone, that he wanted only to scare suspected burglars by firing at their truck when he killed Rivault and… Continue reading →

Melinda Voorhies resigns as principal of Lafayette’s Northside High

Advocate photo by BRAD BOWIE -- Former Northside High School principal Melinda Voorhies.

Melinda Voorhies resigned Monday morning as principal of Northside High School. Voorhies, who’s held the position for three years, said her decision stemmed from a March 16 meeting with interim Lafayette Parish School System Superintendent Burnell LeJeune. She said LeJeune told her he wasn’t sure she was “the right person to take Northside High School… Continue reading →

Around Acadiana for Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Power of Public Education Lafayette will host its annual legislative breakfast from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Lafayette Science Museum, 433 Jefferson St. The free event by the nonprofit advocacy group is a chance for the public to discuss education policies with area legislators, some of whom have pre -filed bills that… Continue reading →

EPA: Pinnacle Oilfield vastly under-reported amount of hazardous waste it produced at Broussard site

A Broussard-based drilling service company has agreed to pay a six-figure penalty to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for vastly under-reporting the amount of hazardous waste it stored and disposed of over the last five years. Pinnacle Oilfield Services recently reached a consent agreement with the EPA to pay $146,585, the EPA’s Region… Continue reading →