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Work proceeding on $6.47 million Ascension Parish governmental complex

Advocate staff photo by David J. MitchellEven under cloudy skies late Friday morning, work continued on a nearly $6.47 million Ascension Parish governmental complex being built on the site of the old East Ascension Hospital along Worthey Road in Gonzales. The roof is up and steel studs for the outer walls continue to be installed. The project, which will consolidate far-flung parish offices, began Aug. 7. Parish officials said Thursday they hope the project will be finished in early October.

Nail guns popped, power drills whirred and falling metal studs clanged Friday at the site of the future Ascension Parish governmental complex. Under moody but dry skies, contractors continued to raise the nearly $6.47 million building, which parish officials estimated this week is nearly 40 percent complete. The 33,500-square-foot, contemporary-style building… Continue reading →

Attorneys: Jury finds driver, DOTD shared the blame for 2009 crash that killed an Israeli woman

A unanimous Ascension Parish jury found a driver and the state highway department shared the blame in a May 2009 crash at the Burnside/Interstate 10 interchange in Gonzales that killed an Israeli mother of five, attorneys said. The jury awarded $1.05 million to the surviving husband and five children of Noha Salama, 49,… Continue reading →

Man arrested in fatal crash acknowledges drug use day before, but police said after wreck he didn’t appear to be ‘under the influence’

John Sanchez

The driver arrested in a fatal high-speed collision on Interstate 10 in February did not appear to Gonzales police officers to be intoxicated with alcohol or drugs at the time, though the man acknowledged he had taken some kind of drug one day earlier, a police report says. John D. Sanchez, 27, of… Continue reading →

Man, woman sought in counterfeit money incident in Ascension Parish

Ascension Parish sheriff’s deputies are looking for a man and a woman suspected of passing counterfeit bills at a convenience store earlier this month, deputies said Wednesday. The incident is one of several instances over the past few weeks when counterfeit bills were passed to convenience stores in Ascension Parish, deputies… Continue reading →

Group brings events for special needs people

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Gonzales' Morgan Essery, 10,  makes a catch during The Rock Church, Friendship House and River Region Art Association's three-day camp for people special needs in Gonzales.

Lisa Westerfield’s adult daughter Katie loves to paint and play basketball and wants to learn to play golf. She wanted to get a job when she left high school, her mom said, “but there just weren’t that many opportunities available to her.” Katie has Down syndrome, and along with many other area residents with physical… Continue reading →

George Washington Carver Park celebrates reopening

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- From left, State Reps. Johnny Berthelot and John Schroder, Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux, State Senator Jody Amedee, and Gonzales Police Chief Sherman Jackson happily await the start of ceremonies April 9 at a dedication of new basketball courts at Gonzales' George Washington Carver Park.

The newly renovated George Washington Carver Park basketball court in Gonzales officially reopened April 9, with representatives from the New Orleans Pelicans and local and state officials there to celebrate the work. Funds for the project came from a donation by the Pelicans and proceeds from the Louisiana Legislature’s annual HoopLA charity basketball game. Sen. Jody… Continue reading →

Around Ascension for April 16, 2015

St. Mark Catholic Church’s annual Light Lane Festival kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday with food, music, rides and bingo. Saturday’s lineup includes a car show, jambalaya mini-pot contest, games, rides, food and music. Freestyle plays at 1 p.m., Krossroadz performs at 5 p.m., and Kenny Cornett and Killin Time takes the stage at 8 p.m.… Continue reading →

Sheriff says he’s stepping up efforts to curb rise in crime

Ascension Parish’s chief law enforcement official told city councilmen Tuesday that his office is taking an “in-your-face” approach to address the spike in violent crime in the parish seat. Sheriff Jeff Wiley said the resolve of his department remains strong to curb the recent spike in shootings. One trend Wiley said… Continue reading →

Jambalaya Festival announces band lineup

The Jambalaya Festival Association Board of Directors has announced the musical line up for the 48th Annual Jambalaya Festival, which will be held May 22-24 in Gonzales. From swamp pop and zydeco to rock and roll and country, festivalgoers will experience a variety of musical talent on three band stages. Headlining this year’s festival is… Continue reading →

BR, Gonzales hospitals receive state honors

Photo provided by Jon Hirsch -- Three registered nurses from St. Elizabeth Hospital picked up awards March 28 at the 14th annual Nightingale Awards ceremony, an event that recognizes quality service, commitment and excellence for registered nurses in the state. Honored, from left are Charla Johnson, Yvonne Pellerin and Rosie Kiper.

St. Elizabeth Hospital in Gonzales and Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge have been named Hospital of the Year in the small and large hospital categories, respectively, by the Louisiana State Nurses Association and the Louisiana Nurses Foundation. This is the fourth time St. Elizabeth Hospital has been named Hospital… Continue reading →

Eatel renews partnership with Ascension Parish youth groups

Photo provided by JENNY HEROMAN --Cheryl Rice, left, Eatel Corp. Community coordinator, and B.J. Romano, Ascension Youth Softball Association commissioner, gather during a March ceremony.

Eatel Corp. renewed its partnership with the Ascension Baseball Committee and the Ascension Youth Softball Association at a March ceremony. “Both ABC and AYSA are fantastic, local organizations, and we are proud to partner with both groups,” said Scott Thompson, newly appointed Eatel president. “These organizations provide a wholesome environment for young people so… Continue reading →

School, other officials work on crisis plans

Photo provided by Charlotte Guedry -- Taking part April 1 in a meeting in Gonzales to disucss school crisis plans, from front center seated, are Sgt. Martin Mapp, school Resource Officer Lee Stromberg, Sgt. Kenny Stell, Corp. Randy Clouatre Jr., Officer Derek LeBlanc and Assistant Chief of Police Leland Sykes.

School officials, emergency responders and law enforcement representatives sat down April 1 to talk about what would happen after a school crisis. Agencies worked on plans dealing with reuniting a student with parents after a school crisis, said Charlotte Guedry, Gonzales Police Department spokeswoman. She said several area agencies have drafted school crisis plans, but Gonzales… Continue reading →

Report on Rodriguez clan presented to society

Photo provided by Marie Estopiñál -- Attending an April 4 meeting of the Canary Islanders Heritage Society of Louisiana at the East Baton Rouge Parish Bluebonnet Regional Library, from left are, Liz Varnado, Iris Stilley, Johnette Downing, Cande Rodriguez, Rose Marie Powell, Stephen Estopiñál, Terry Thibodeaux, Denise Lindsly, Dale Aguillard, Wade Rodriguez and Carolyn Rodriguez.

Terry Thibodeaux presented a report on the populous Rodriguez clan during the April 4 meeting of the Canary Islanders Heritage Society of Louisiana at the East Baton Rouge Parish Bluebonnet Regional Library. He provided an inventory of the passenger lists of the 1778-1783 migration from the Canary Islands, which included many Rodriguez recruits, he said. Thibodeaux followed… Continue reading →

St. Amant students to host movie night

St. Amant High School DECA is hosting a Dine-In Movie Night on Saturday in the school cafeteria. DECA is a class for young, aspiring businessmen and women who want to obtain experience in the field of business, a news release said. The project will require the students to excel in customer service, budgeting, advertisement and making… Continue reading →

Students compete in shooting match

Noah Stafford

Ascension Parish 4-H Shooting Sports hosted the 2015 Regional Match on March 26-29 at Lamar-Dixon Expo Center and Hunter’s Run Gun Club. The students competed in archery, shotgun, .22-caliber rifle and pistol, air rifle, air pistol, hunting and BB guns. The top 15 in the north and south divisions in each discipline qualified to move… Continue reading →

Dutchtown prepared for testing with pep rally

Dutchtown Primary School students gathered March 13 in the middle school gym for a pep rally in advance of standardized testing. The rally began with a motivational speech by the Student of the Year Amaya Salone. She shared encouraging words and testing tips. Students in kindergarten through second-grade prepared cheers for each upper grade level.… Continue reading →

Foster Grandparent volunteers honored

Photo provided by Lester Kenyon -- Shown receiving the National Service Recognition Day proclamation March 25 from Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez, first row from left,  are Ollie Cooper and Patricia Muller and second row, Parish President Tommy Martinez, Foster Grandparent Program Director Sandra Cavalier, Josephine Schonberg, Ingrid McGalliard, Carolyn Hanberry, Janice Miles, Yvonne Steward, Janice Linton, Willie Banks and Joyce Knockum.

National Service Recognition Day was celebrated April 7 in Ascension Parish, honoring seniors who volunteer with children. Parish President Tommy Martinez read the proclamation aloud on March 25 at the parish administration building before presenting it to members of the Foster Grandparent Program, a program of the Quad Area Community Action Agency. The program serves Ascension,… Continue reading →

Parish president names April as Autism Awareness Month

Photo provided by Lester Kenyon -- Attending the Ascension Parish Council meeting March 19 to proclaim April as Autism Awareness Month in Ascension Parish, from left, are Ascension Parish Councilman Kent Schexnaydre holding Reecie Crooks, Parish President Tommy Martinez, Jamie Tindle, Allen Crooks and Christie Crooks.

Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez proclaimed April as Autism Awareness Month in Ascension Parish during a Parish Council meeting in Gonzales. Jamie Tindle, executive director of Families Helping Families of Greater Baton Rouge, accepted the March 19 proclamation. “Ascension Parish is an amazing group of supporters, citizens and council that has always supported Families Helping Families,”… Continue reading →

Gonzales police to buy new laptop with grant

The Gonzales Police Department recently received a $750 grant from Entergy Corp., a news release from the department said. The money will be used to assist in the purchasing of new laptop for the department’s uniform patrol division. Entergy Corporation Senior Manager Thomas F. Peters and Customer Service Representative David Herring were instrumental in securing the… Continue reading →

Ex-chamber chairmen meet to discuss growth

Photo provided by Ascension Chamber of Commerce -- Attending an April 8 Ascension Chamber of Commerce Breakfast with Sherrie meeting in Gonzales, first row from left, are Sherrie Despino, Glenda Shaheen, Rae Milano and Kendal Matassa; and second row,  Mike Waguespack, Czarina Walker, Lillie Murphy and John Waguespack.

Former Ascension Chamber of Commerce board chairmen came together April 8 for the first Breakfast with Sherrie of 2015 at the chamber office. Chairman Kendal Matassa and President Sherrie Despino hosted the meeting to discuss chamber board accomplishments and the growth of the chamber, a news release said. New marketing campaigns to help chamber… Continue reading →

Boys basketball league to hold invitational

The Louisiana Jaguars Boys Basketball League is hosting its 10th annual Jaguar Invitational May 9-10 in Gonzales. Teams with players from 10 to 17 years old are invited to play, league spokesman Travis J. Turner said in a news release. Entry fee is $250 per team, and the deadline to register is May 1. Trophies… Continue reading →

Expo Center to host Ascension Music Jam

The inaugural Ascension Music Jam takes over the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center on Saturday, featuring bands from Ascension Parish. The concert, hosted by the Ascension Festivals and Cultural Council, is from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. in front of Arena C , Parish President Tommy Martinez said. Martin McConnell, sales and marketing director for… Continue reading →

Guests from Gonzales’ French sister city visit area

Photo provided by Karen Hatcher -- Frank Frederick and Gaynelle Moore, from left, set up entertainment at the Gonzales Boat Club for a group of French visitors in town for the 29th annual twinning program with Meylan, France.

A nine-member group of visitors from Gonzales’ sister city, Meylan, France, were in town in early April for the 29th annual cultural exchange program. This year, the visitors came during the springtime, allowing for a different experience from those taking trips to Gonzales in 2013 and 2014. The French delegation is hosted by the Gonzales Committee on… Continue reading →

Garden Club wraps up activities

Photo provided by Patti Mouton -- Terri L. Lamberts home at 1009 N. Coolidge Ave. in Gonzales was chosen as the Gonzales Garden Club's April Residential Yard of the Month for its variety of mature plants and tidy annuals.  Numerous statuary, including a large fleur-de-lis water fountain also are set around the property.

The Gonzales Garden Club is ending its season with activities in April and May. In April, the members elected next year’s officers, presented a floral design class and produced a flower show. Next month, they will host a plant and bake sale and honor two members recognized by the Louisiana Garden Club Federation before adjourning for… Continue reading →

Pitch, Hit and Run contest signups set for ages 7-14

The parish of Ascension Recreation and Culture Department will hold Major League Baseball’s Pitch, Hit and Run competition at 10 a.m. May 2 at the South Louisiana Fairgrounds in Donaldsonville. The competition is a free, one-day event for boys and girls ages 7-14. Boys and girls compete separately and participants have the opportunity to compete in four… Continue reading →

Ascension Parish pets available for April 16, 2015

This 1-year-old female tri-colored terrier mix.

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. Available… Continue reading →

Ascension Parish calendar for April 16-23, 2015

RIBBON CUTTING: 2:30 p.m., Bayou Safety & Supply, 6071 Industrial Drive, Geismar. SCORE : 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Ascension Parish Library, Dutchtown branch, 13278 La. 73, Geismar. A free small-business counseling and mentoring program. TEEN BOOK CLUB: 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Ascension Parish Library, Galvez branch, 40300 La. 42, Prairieville. Keeping Backyard Chickens… Continue reading →

Ascension Parish Council on Aging for April 16-23, 2015

Sliced roasted turkey with brown gravy, mixed vegetables, creamed/chive potatoes, whole-wheat bread, applesauce and cookie. 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. Ham and lima beans, steamed rice, mustard… Continue reading →

Ascension Parish Police Bookings for April 2-8, 2015

The following people were booked into the Ascension Parish prison from April 2 - 8. BABIN, CHAD: 46, 14450 L. Keller Road, St. Amant, simple kidnapping, home invasion, misdemeanor simple criminal damage to property, simple battery. BLACK, DALLAS T.: 27, 3565 Greentree Drive, Baton Rouge, disturbing the peace/violent and tumultuous manner/disorderly conduct, obscenity.… Continue reading →

Ascension Civil Court for March 30-April 2, 2015

Court cases filed in Ascension Parish between March 30-April 2. Leshea D. Knowles and Cedric Johnson v. Dsld Homes LLC and USAlarms LLC, damages. Republic Finance Inc v. Irene Dennis and Angelic Personal Care Services LLC, executory judgment. Tessia M. McCauley v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., Hailey L.… Continue reading →

Gonzales council green lights rezoning request to turn former cattle ranch into a major mixed-use community

With the Gonzales City Council giving the green light Monday to a major rezoning request, the transformation of a former cattle ranch on La. 44 into a mixed-used community took its next step forward. The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission last week recommended the city approve the request of Southern Lifestyle… Continue reading →

Ascension Parish’s Fire House provides a temporary refuge for families who lose their home in a blaze

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- The Fire House in Ascension Parish provides temporary housing for families displaced by fire. Tracey Normand, Gonzales Fire Chief, shown here at the Fire House, was among many volunteers who helped found the program.

After fire damaged Calvin Wilson’s home one February morning, he was surprised and relieved when he and his family were offered the use of another house, Wilson said. The house, which belongs to the parish, is known as the Fire House. Wilson said Gene Witeck, the coordinator with the Fire Protection… Continue reading →

Crew of tugboat dragged down river by a runaway cargo ship struggled to prevent the collision Monday on the Mississippi River

Advocate staff photo by David J. Mitchell -- Bravo, an 816-foot tanker, above, was the second ship struck Monday by the Privocean, a bulk carrier, after it broke free from its moorings on the Mississippi River. The Privocean, a Greek-owned ship flagged in Malta, also hit the 98-foot tow boat known as the Texas.

The runaway cargo ship that crashed into other ships and an oil terminal on the Mississippi River on Monday dragged a tug boat tethered to it down the river until both smashed into an oil tanker docked at a terminal in St. James Parish. The crew of the much-smaller tug — hitched to the out-of-control, coal-loaded 751-foot… Continue reading →

Weekend festivals in Baton Rouge, Port Allen, Ponchatoula to go on despite the forecast of rain

Advocate file photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING  --  Barry Riley Jr., 7, of Plaquemine, flies a kite at last year's Kite Fest Louisiane in Port Allen. The festival returns April 11-12.

Organizers of area festivals slated for this weekend are saying the show will go on, despite the threat of rain. That threat shut down Baton Rouge’s “Live After Five” concert Friday and chased the Blues Festival inside the River Center for the weekend. But organizers of the Kite Fest… Continue reading →

Assumption grand jury indicts Barataria man on molestation of a juvenile

Samuel Gonzales was arrested April 9, 2015 on three counts of molestation of a juvenile. The Assumption Parish Sheriff's Office.

A Barataria man was arrested after an Assumption Parish grand jury indicted him on three counts of molestation of a juvenile, said Assumption Parish Sheriff Mike Waguespack. Samuel Gonzales Jr., 46, of 4991 Kaylee Lane, was booked Thursday into the Assumption Parish Detention Center, Waguespack said in a report. Bail has been… Continue reading →

Man pushing cart across Airline killed

A man trying to push a shopping cart across Airline Highway in Ascension Parish was hit and killed Thursday night, State Police reported. The man was pushing the cart across the northbound lanes of Airline south of La. 74 near a commercial area just outside Gonzales shortly before 8 p.m., troopers said… Continue reading →