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Appeals still ongoing in 1999 death-penalty conviction of River Parishes serial killer

Associated Press photo -- Daniel J. Blank

A state district judge denied five of more than a dozen pending claims Friday in the post-conviction appeal of River Parishes serial killer Daniel Blank but left the majority undecided after a weeklong hearing where his attorneys questioned the effectiveness of his defense team in a 1999 capital murder trial. Judge Jessie… Continue reading →

State Bond Commission OKs funding for secondary access route to Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Ascension

Outgoing Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez said Wednesday that he’s hopeful construction on a secondary access route to Lamar-Dixon Expo Center could start in early spring, though he’d like it to be sooner. Martinez had vowed to find money for a 1-mile road connecting Lamar-Dixon to the nearby Edenborne mixed-use development in… Continue reading →

New River Lodge presents awards to students

New River Lodge Honesty and Integrity awards were presented June 14 to Pierre Fournet and Madison LeBlanc. The annual award is presented to high school juniors or seniors who maintain a high grade-point average, are involved in extracurricular activities and have plans after graduation, a news release said. The awards were presented by Al Taillon, worshipful… Continue reading →

Seven Ascension Parish deputies graduate from training academy

Photo provided by Allison B. Hudson -- Gathered after the CARTA graduation in Baton Rouge on July 7 are, from left, Warden Paul Hall, Deputies Trey Richard and Patrick Landry, Lt. Col. Bobby Webre, Deputies Austin Gautreau and Carson Fee, Sheriff Jeff Wiley, Deputies Wendell Crawford, Paul McCrory and Eugene Ferguson and Maj. Ward Webb.

Ascension Parish Deputies Wendell Crawford, Carson Fee, Eugene Ferguson, Austin Gautreau, Patrick Landry, Paul McCrory and Trey Richard graduated from the Capital Area Regional Training Academy in Baton Rouge on July 7. The graduation was at Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge. Ferguson was class president, and McCrory was vice president. CARTA… Continue reading →

Purchase planned for new technology for 911 center

Photo provided by Allison Hudson -- Gathered in the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office dispatch center are, from left, dispatcher Tonya Castle, Sheriff Jeff Wiley, Fire Marshal Butch Browning, State Rep. Johnny Berthelot and dispatcher Toni Daigle.

Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley and the Department of Public Safety are embarking on an agreement to purchase new technology improvements for the future 911 communications center, according to a news release. “Ascension Parish is growing, and it is vital that we keep up with new technology that will improve the way our communications center… Continue reading →

Around Ascension for July 23, 2015

You know the story — put two socks in the dryer and only one sock comes out. What can you do with all those stray socks? Find out during Coffee and Crafts, beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 23, at the Dutchtown Branch Library, 13278 La. 73, Geismar. Bring in a stray… Continue reading →

Ascension Parish calendar for July 23-30, 2015

LAP-SIT STORY TIME: 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., Ascension Parish Library, Gonzales branch, 708 S. Irma Blvd.; and Dutchtown branch, 13278 La. 73, Geismar. TAI JI QUAN: 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Ascension Parish Library, Gonzales. INTRODUCTION TO MICROSOFT WORD 2013: 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., Ascension Parish Library, Donaldsonville, 500 Mississippi St.… Continue reading →

Ascension Parish Police Bookings for July 9-16, 2015

The following people were booked into the Ascension Parish prison from July 9-16. BANKS, RYDELL A.: 35, 10536 Legion St., Convent, possession of schedule II controlled dangerous substance. BELL, HAYDEN DARRAGH: 62, 17254 La. 431, Prairieville, possession of alcoholic beverages in motor vehicles, no motor vehicle insurance, operating vehicle while license is suspended,… Continue reading →

Ascension Braves gearing up for team tryouts

The Ascension Braves will hold tryouts for the 2016 baseball season Aug. 7-8. AAA age groups are 9/10 and under, 11/12 and under, 13 and under, and 14 and under. 13/14U: 6:30 p.m. Aug. 7; call coach Wayne Young (225) 266-3332 for more information. 9/10U: 9 a.m. Aug. 8; call… Continue reading →

Prairieville teen attends wheelchair tennis camp

Photo provided by Tamarah Strauss -- Alex Saporito, of Prairieville, was one of 34 young wheelchair athletes who recently participated in the 2015 USTA/ITF International Junior Wheelchair Tennis Camp in Mission Viejo, California.

Alex Saporito, of Prairieville, was one of 34 young wheelchair athletes was recently participated in the 2015 USTA/ITF International Junior Wheelchair Tennis Camp in Mission Viejo, California. The camp took place at Marguerite Tennis Pavilion and was for youth who live with a permanent disabling condition and use a wheelchair when playing sports, including tennis, a news… Continue reading →

Junior Choupique Rodeo set for Aug. 2

The St. James Boat Club will hold its annual Junior Choupique Rodeo on Aug. 2 on the Blind River Point area and boat launch areas on U.S. 61, just outside Gramercy. Participants up to age 15 are eligible to compete but must be accompanied by an adult or guardian. Fishing starts at 9 a.m. and ends at noon.… Continue reading →

BASF awards scholarships to Ascension students

Anastasia Britton

BASF recently awarded $500 scholarships to eight Ascension Parish high school seniors through the company’s local and corporate scholarship programs. The students plan to pursue STEM-related degrees. Scholarship recipients Jennay Mitchell and Craig Ambeau, of Donaldsonville High School, plan to attend Southern University. Honorees Emily Patterson, of Dutchtown High School, and Maci McKey and… Continue reading →

55th annual Kids Fishing Rodeo set for Aug. 1

The East Ascension Sportsman’s League 55th annual Kids Fishing Rodeo will be held Aug. 1, weather permitting, at the Twin Lakes Park on La. 74 in Dutchtown. The fishing rodeo is free of charge and open to all children ages 2 to 14 who will compete by age group and gender. All fish will be counted and… Continue reading →

Ascension Parish Council on Aging for July 23-30, 2015

Ham and lima beans with rice, grape juice, steamed spinach, cornbread and fig bar. PILATES: 8:15 a.m. and 9:15 a.m., Gonzales Senior Center. PIYO: 9 a.m., Donaldsonville Senior Center. ZUMBA GOLD: 10:30 a.m., Gonzales. CAJUN NEEDLERS: 12:30 p.m., Gonzales. Chicken salad, pickled beets, apple confetti coleslaw,… Continue reading →

Panel advances insurance changes

After taking a second look, the insurance committee of the Ascension Parish School Board on Tuesday sent changes to employee health insurance coverage to the full board for a vote, set for its Aug. 4 meeting. The board will be looking at rate increases, provider discounts and changes in deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums… Continue reading →

Ascension ranks fourth in state for ACT scores

Ascension Public Schools ranks among the strongest school districts in Louisiana for college preparation, according to a news release. The 2014-15 ACT data recently released by the Louisiana Department of Education in July showed Ascension is fourth in the state with a composite score of 20.6, the release said. The state average is 19.4. “This… Continue reading →

RRAA annual photography exhibit seeks entries

River Region Art Association is seeking entries for its annual Click Art photography exhibit, set for Aug. 19-29. All RRAA members and the public are invited to participate. Photographers are invited to bring up to three photographs, framed and wired for hanging, to the Art Depot Gallery, 1008 W. La. 30, Gonzales, from 2 p.m. to… Continue reading →

Ongoing painting class offered every Monday

Local artist Jan Hebert, a member of the River Region Art Association, is leading an ongoing painting class at the Depot Gallery, 1008 W. La. 30, Gonzales. Beginner and intermediate painters can learn basic techniques and composition in oil or acrylic every Monday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Students paint from in-studio still life set-ups… Continue reading →

Businesses, community heed call to supply tools for schools

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Sherry Denig sorts through markers as Volunteer Ascension packs and sorts school supplies Monday for Ascension Parish schools to receive from the central pick up location at Central Middle School on Roddy Road near Gonzales.

Volunteer Ascension’s Chanie Mire grabbed four bags filled with paper towels, facial tissues and hand sanitizer from the trunk of Jennifer Bercegeay’s car. It took several trips to unload Bercegeay’s trunk and back seat, both filled with supplies. Throughout Friday, Mire and a few dozen volunteers repeated the process more than 100 times as people dropped… Continue reading →

St. Amant High announces Prep Days

St. Amant High School Prep Days for the 2015-16 school year are as follows: FRIDAY: Senior girls alphabetically in the morning and senior boys alphabetically in the afternoon. MONDAY: Juniors alphabetically in the morning and sophomores alphabetically in the afternoon. TUESDAY: Freshmen alphabetically. Payments of $20 registration fees… Continue reading →

Offensive line key for EAHS next season

Advocate staff photo by ANGELA MAJOR -- East Ascension head football coach Paul Bourgeois on the sidelines during the 2014 season.

The East Ascension Spartans finished last season with a 6-6 record, which included a 2-3 district finish that just might not seem that impressive. “A 6-6 record might not look good on paper, but we didn’t expect the offensive line to keep us on… Continue reading →

Gonzales Middle School sets registration schedule

Gonzales Middle School is gearing up for the 2015-16 school year. Bulldog Bashes will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday for sixth-graders, July 29 for seventh-graders and July 30 for eighth-graders. Parents or students can pay fees in person or online, purchase physical education uniforms, pick up schedules and meet teachers.… Continue reading →

Ascension Civil Courts for July 6-10, 2015

Court cases filed in Ascension Parish between July 6-10. Td Bank USA Na and Target National Bank v. Laura Fisher, open account. Synchrony Bank v. Tara James, open account. Td Bank USA Na and Target National Bank v. Torrolanda J. Lawrence, open account. Wells Fargo Bank NA v.… Continue reading →

Sounds of the swamp

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- T.K. Hulin, left, sings, as bassist Bill LeBlanc plays, at Saturday's Swamp Pop Festival to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

The Swamp Pop Festival and Jambalaya Festival Association Cook-Off were held at Gonzales’ Lamar-Dixon Expo Center on Friday and Saturday. The two-day event is one of the nation’s largest fundraising events for Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. JFA President Wally Taillon said 97 cooks competed, making this the second-largest jambalaya cook-off in the area. Brandon Henry won the champion title.… Continue reading →

Ascension Parish pets available for July 23, 2015

This adult male Schnauzer.

The Ascension Parish Animal Shelter, 9894 Airline Highway in Sorrento, is open from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday for viewings and pet adoptions. Animals can be adopted for $50. Animals can be dropped off from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Fridays. For information, call (225) 675-6557.… Continue reading →

River Parishes serial killer’s appeal of death penalty still before courts 18 years after Gonzales slaying

Associated Press photo -- Daniel J. Blank

Ascension, St. James Airport gets more land; new, longer runway open

Advocate staff photo by ELLYN COUVILLION - Airplanes are lined up at the Louisiana Regional Airport near Gonzales. Some planes are tied down outside and others are in hangars at the airport, which recently bought additional property to one day provide more hangar buildings.

The Louisiana Regional Airport just outside the city limits of Gonzales grew by about 30 acres last week when a long-wished-for land purchase was closed Wednesday. The Ascension-St. James Airport and Transportation Authority, which operates the airport, purchased 28.3 acres of undeveloped woodlands south of the airport for $677,567. “We’ve been looking at getting… Continue reading →

Gonzales man dies from injuries he received in Friday crash

A Gonzales man died Sunday from injuries he received Friday in a crash on La. 44. Clifford Rice, 85, was headed north on La. 44 in a 2000 Dodge Caravan behind Keith McLin, 48, who was also driving north in a 2008 Dodge Ram, said State Police spokesman Bryan Lee. McLin came to a… Continue reading →

LSU, Southern get first shot to grow medical marijuana, but there's 'a huge risk' it could cost them federal funds

File photo -- The LSU and Southern University Agricultural Centers have been granted first crack at being the sole growers and producers of medical marijuana in Louisiana.

The LSU and Southern University Agricultural Centers have been granted first crack at being the sole growers and producers of medical marijuana in Louisiana. Under a new law the Legislature approved earlier this year, the AgCenters were granted the first right of refusal to hold a state-sanctioned monopoly on production of legal medical marijuana.… Continue reading →

Combined college and high school program in Ascension Parish continuing to grow

Advocate staff photo by  APRIL BUFFINGTON --   Freshmen from various high schools sit in orientation for the College Option program at River Parishes Community College on Tuesday, July 14 in Gonzales, La.

A River Parishes Community College program that lets students simultaneously earn a high school diploma and an associate’s degree will have its largest freshman class yet when school begins Aug. 10. More than 100 ninth-graders have enrolled in what’s called the Early College Option program, a partnership of the community… Continue reading →

Annual Swamp Pop festival raises money for cystic fibrosis

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Sarah Eastridge, 17, left, gets ready to work the 'Sweets Both' at Saturday's Swamp Pop Festival and Jambalaya Association Cook-Off, a Cystic Fibrosis Foundation fundraising event at Gonzales' Lamar Dixon Expo Center, after arriving with her father, David Eastridge, right. Sarah's cousin Stevie Bourg, left, and stepmother Angela Eastridge, are at center, background. Sarah, David and their family have been involved in starting and maintaining the event, since she was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis as a small child.

When people in Ascension Parish want to raise money for a good cause, the tried-and-true formula for a fundraiser is a band people can dance to and some jambalaya. So when Sarah Eastridge was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as a baby in 1998, her family began battling the disease not only with medications but with a vow… Continue reading →

Man accused of threatening woman also booked on possession of drugs and stolen guns, Ascension sheriff says

Fabian Mills

A man and a 16-year-old runaway staying with him were arrested Thursday after Ascension Parish sheriff’s deputies found methamphetamine, heroin and guns in the man’s home, Sheriff Jeff Wiley said. The arrests came as deputies investigated an assault complaint against the man, Fabian Mills, 40, after a woman told deputies that he came… Continue reading →

Prairieville Fire Department moving forward with new fire station — architect approved Thursday

The Prairieville Fire Department is moving forward with a second new fire station in two years as the suburban department tries to keep up with one of Ascension Parish’s fastest-growing areas. Fire Chief Mark Stewart said Thursday that fire officials hope construction can start later this year on the station, which will… Continue reading →

St. James Parish Council approves planning commission pay raise, citing increased workload and increased risk of litigation

Sorrento sues over murky deal to fix sewer; trying to recoup $77,500

Advocate file photo by PATRICK DENNIS --the Sorrento Police Department building in Sorrento, La.

Sorrento has accused a St. Gabriel construction company of fraud over an unfinished 2012 sewer project that prompted an Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office investigation and talk of murky connections to a broader federal investigation, which ensnared a town councilman’s boat. The town claims in a lawsuit that Design & Build Consultants LLC… Continue reading →

Auditors say Napoleonville violated state law by failing to get bids for sign project

A yearlong project to beautify the streets of Napoleonville with new antique street and stop signs has landed the small Assumption Parish community in trouble with its auditors. A new audit says the village violated the state’s public bid law when it spent $56,424 on signs without seeking bids as required by law. The audit,… Continue reading →

Dutchtown High physics teacher receives presidential award; to be honored in Washington, D.C.

Photo provided by Jackie Tisdell  Ascension Public Schools teacher Michael Brenden Simoneaux won the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.   The Dutchtown High School physics teacher is one of only two in Louisiana to receive the national honor.

A physics teacher at Dutchtown High School in Geismar received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, a national honor announced by President Barack Obama. Michael “Brenden” Simoneaux, who has taught science at the high school since 2003, is one of only two teachers in the state to receive the award. “These teachers… Continue reading →

Council approves Section 8 advertising

Dancers inspired to compete at Arc benefit

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- From left, Leonard August Jr., Dr. Diane Kirby and Le’Brian Patrick perform the jive during the annual Dancing for a Cause fundraiser benefitting  Community Opportunities - the Arc of East Ascension on Saturday at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales. The trio was awarded the Judges’ Award.

Two purple-fringed costumed dancers sashayed their way to the top prizes Saturday in the annual Dancing for a Cause fundraiser at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center. Pediatrician Diane Kirby and Kayla Frederic, who works at her family’s business, both said they stepped on the stage to support the host agency, Community Opportunities — the Arc of East Ascension.… Continue reading →