New Orleans area briefs for June 16, 2013

New patrol boat to aid rescue, search efforts

St. Bernard Parish’s Port, Harbor & Terminal District purchased a 35-foot patrol boat through federal Port Security grant funds, in a move that enhances capabilities for search, rescue or recovery efforts by the port and the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office, which will jointly operate it through a cooperative agreement.

Port Executive Director Robert Scafidel and Sheriff James Pohlmann announced the agreement in which sheriff’s deputies have been trained to operate the vessel, along with port staff.

A big feature is a sonar scanning camera and software, which provides the better capability for search, rescue or recovery, they said.

The vessel can scan distances more than 50 feet and would be useful on water bottoms, ship hulls and docks, officials said.

The Louisiana-built vessel cost about $325,000, funded at 75 percent by the federal grant program and with a 25 percent match from the state of Louisiana.

“This helps both of our agencies, the Sheriff’s Office and the port, protect citizens of St. Bernard Parish,” Scafidel said. “We had the opportunity to get this capability to operate on the Mississippi River and are very pleased with it.”

The port approached Pohlmann about a cooperative agreement because officials thought it was something that the Sheriff’s Office could use, Scafidel said.

“Its main purpose is to help cover the river, but it would be useful in other bodies of water,” he said.

Pohlman said that boat and its scanning capability “could be invaluable in situations including a search after an accident on water or looking for submerged threats.”

Symposium to discuss sea level rise

The Northshore Community Foundation is hosting a water symposium from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Castine Center in Pelican Park to discuss the double threat of rising sea levels and disappearing coastlines.

Participants will hear from Chip Groat, president and chief executive officer, and Denise Reed, chief scientist, both with The Water Institute of the Gulf, a recently created independent nonprofit research institute focused on addressing Louisiana’s coastal crisis through the application of sound knowledge and data.

Paul Sawyer, director of federal programs for the Louisiana Department of Economic Development, will provide an overview of economic development opportunities in the water management industry.

Registration is required and additional information is available by sending an email to cmouton@northshorefoundation.org.

Parade of Homes has post-Katrina record

The Parade of Homes, a two-weekend event that featured new homes in four parishes, drew the best attendance since Hurricane Katrina, organizers said.

“We had a lot of walkthroughs and a lot of interest. People are excited about the possibilities. A lot of young people came through — more than we expected. I think that’s a good sign for the future,” said Zachary Tyson, chairman of this year’s parade. According to Tyson, many homes hosted more than 150 visitors across the two weekends.

Parade attendees also got the chance to get a first-hand look at this year’s New Orleans St. Jude Dream Home®, built by Miller Building Co. Inc. and valued at an estimated $600,000.

The winner of the New Orleans St. Jude Dream Home® Giveaway will be announced during the St. Jude television special on WVUE FOX 8 on June 30. For information, visit www.dreamhome.org.

Group honors critic of Coroner’s Office

Louisiana United International President and Chief Executive Officer Belinda Parker-Brown presented Terry King with an award recognizing him for outstanding courage at the NAACP Heritage Award program earlier this month.

King was selected because of ongoing efforts he and his wife, Laura King, have made to expose alleged abuses of Peter Galvan and the St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office.

“Mr. King and his wife have endured great hardship in their attempts to correct the problems in a public agency,” Parker-Brown said. “Their diligence and dedication to pursuing justice should be recognized. Mr. King has been instrumental in ensuring that this effort continues to be a priority even though multiple public agencies have retaliated against him and Dr. (Laura) King.”

LUI presented the award at the NAACP ceremony because of LUI’s close relationship with the NAACP Covington Chapter and the King’s history of working with the chapter to expose alleged d discrimination within the Coroner’s Office.

This is the first award of its kind to be given by LUI, a civil rights organization in Slidell.

Compiled by the New Orleans bureau