Livonia High to take in 180 new students in the fall

Advocate staff photo by TERRY JONES -- A federal court judge recently approved a motion from the state's Recovery School District making Livonia High School Pointe Coupee Parish's lone high school for the 2014-15 school year. But a group of residents are pressuring the School Board to make Pointe Coupee Central High the parish's lone public high school in the near future because its location and larger size.

The looming shutdown of Pointe Coupee Central High School has some residents questioning whether Livonia High School will be able to handle the influx of new students next school year, and at least one School Board member is open to reopening the shuttered school after a year of standing empty. U.S. District Judge James J. Brady’s April … Continue reading →

WBR School Board to demolish historic Cohn High School buildings

The West Baton Rouge Parish School Board made its first steps Wednesday toward demolishing the old Cohn High School campus, authorizing school district officials to begin the bidding process to tear down the historic buildings. The board’s action comes after years of complaints that the campus, closed for several decades, had … Continue reading →

Erwinville man dies in West Baton Rouge Parish crash

Louisiana State Police logo

An Erwinville man died early Wednesday after his eastbound 1998 Chevrolet Lumina left La. 620, struck a culvert and overturned, State Police said. Not wearing a seat belt, Rurid L. James, 56, was ejected from his car, suffering fatal injuries, Trooper First Class Jared Sandifer said. The accident occurred shortly before 4 a.m. on La. 620, … Continue reading →

Around the Westside for April 16, 2014

The West Baton Rouge Museum and the LSU Museum of Art have joined together to present “Rise Up and Follow: From the Great Migration to the Harlem Renaissance” at 9 a.m. April 26. The event begins at the West Baton Rouge Museum and will conclude with a celebration of the Harlem Renaissance at the LSU Museum … Continue reading →

Resident takes Iberville School District to task

A resident criticized the Iberville Parish School Board and Superintendent Ed Cancienne on Monday, saying the school district is allocating more of its resources and attention toward the parish’s more affluent students while ignoring the plight of children from lower income families. In an impassioned statement, Ferrante Dominique chided school district officials … Continue reading →

Pointe Coupee deputies suspended over response to wreck

Three deputies with the Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff’s Office and a New Roads police officer have been suspended without pay following an investigation into special treatment the officer received in an off-duty crash while suspected of driving while intoxicated. Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff Bud Torres announced at a news conference Tuesday … Continue reading →

Around the Westside for April 9

New Roads kicked off its Adopt-a-Street program this month and is taking applications for “custodial ownership” of city streets and common areas. Local organizations, schools and businesses are encouraged to participate. New Roads Mayor Robert Myer established the program in an effort to clean city streets and ditches of litter and debris, and … Continue reading →

West Baton Rouge deputy jailed on drug counts

Maj. Jerome Fontenot with the WBR Sherriff's Department

A West Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s major who once led the agency’s narcotics division has been arrested on drug charges, including possession of crack cocaine and several painkillers. Maj. Jerome Fontenot, a 17-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, was booked into the Parish Jail for possession with the intent to distribute … Continue reading →

Hopes high for Port Allen’s Mayor-elect Lee

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Port Allen Mayor-elect Richard Lee, with his wife Carolyn Rubin Lee, leave City Hall on Monday in Port Allen.

PORT ALLEN — Mayor-elect Richard Lee’s phone hasn’t stopped ringing since Saturday night’s election when he snatched the city’s top office from three other mayoral candidates. Lee clinched his victory by capturing 58 percent of the votes, according to unofficial results. And on Monday, he said the congratulatory calls were still rolling … Continue reading →

Lee elected mayor of Port Allen in special election

Richard Lee

Retired law enforcement officer Richard Lee III thwarted former Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter’s attempt to reclaim the city’s mayoral seat with 58 percent of the vote Saturday in the city’s special election following Slaughter’s recall from office. According to unofficial results, Lee, 54, pulled 1,395 votes in Saturday’s race, … Continue reading →

Port Allen officials taking fresh look at annexation

Interim Mayor Lynn Robertson asked the City Council to revive a push Wednesday to extend the city’s limit out to La. 415 through annexation by giving her authority to hire outside legal counsel to evaluate the process. The council during its committee meetings Wednesday night seemed eager to support Robertson’s … Continue reading →

Slaughter files voter intimidation complaint with Feds

Updated at 7:55 p.m. – An attorney for former Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter filed a complaint Wednesday with the U.S. Justice Department seeking an investigation into alleged voter intimidation and suppression he claims is interfering with early voting in the Port Allen mayor’s race. Slaughter’s attorney, Ronald Johnson, states in a letter to the Justice Department … Continue reading →

Witnesses claim officer received special treatment

A high-ranking New Roads police officer was placed on administrative leave Monday and an investigation was launched into possible special treatment the officer may have received when he was suspected of drunken driving Friday night after he crashed his truck. The Sheriff’s Office and the Louisiana State Police are conducting … Continue reading →

Well-respected Iberville utility supervisor to retire

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Next to a trencher in the equipment garage, Iberville Parish's Utility Manager Brian Berthelot is retiring after 30 years of working for the parish.

When Brian Berthelot graduated from Plaquemine High School in 1984, he had no intention of going to college. In fact, the then-18-year-old Bayou Pigeon native had no real post-high school plans. His mother did, however. “She took me around to a lot of different places to put in applications, and one of them happened to … Continue reading →

Body of missing woman found in False River

Authorities found the body of a 66-year-old woman on Sunday afternoon in False River after she disappeared Thursday night from a New Roads nursing home, according to the Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff’s Office. Authorities responded to the oxbow lake near Lakeview Manor nursing home shortly before 4 p.m. Sunday after a 911 caller reported finding what looked … Continue reading →

Pointe Coupee board okays consolidation proposal

Advocate staff photo by TERRY JONES -- Pointe Coupee Parish residents  packed the School Board’s meeting chambers and lined the halls Thursday night to try and persuade the board to reject the Recovery School District's recommendation to shut down Pointe Coupee Central High and have its students attend Livonia High for the 2014-15 school year.

The Pointe Coupee Parish School Board approved a move Thursday to transfer students from the underperforming Pointe Coupee Central High School to Livonia High effective this fall, provoking an outcry from parents of students attending PC Central. The board’s action came as it approved a proposed order from the state’s … Continue reading →

Around the Westside for March 26, 2014

Kite Fest celebrates 10th year Kite Fest Louisiane’s 10th anniversary festival is set for April 5-6 at the soccer complex on Rosedale Road in West Baton Rouge Parish. This year’s event will not only be a daytime event, but nighttime activities are scheduled as well. … Continue reading →

Driver thrown from car dies in Iberville

An unrestrained motorist died late Saturday when his Mercedes Benz veered off the road and struck a pole, State Police said. Armise Thomas III, 52, Paulina, died about 11 p.m. on La. 1 north of La. 993 in Iberville Parish, Trooper First Class Jared Sandifer said in a news release. … Continue reading →

Louisiana plantation tours skittish on slavery history

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Over 100 students from Maplewood Elementary, located in Sulphur, LA, tour the LSU Rural Life Museum's slavery exhibit looking at the interior and exterior of a slave cabin March 7, 2014.

Louisiana’s magnificent antebellum plantation homes draw thousands of visitors each year to the state. The tourists come to see the stately live oaks, the imposing columns, the luxurious 19th-century furnishings. But what the visitors most probably won’t encounter is any meaningful discussion of the slavery underpinning the wealth that led to the creation of these homes. … Continue reading →

Early voting starts Saturday on two Iberville tax renewals

Iberville Parish voters will get the opportunity on April 5 to vote up or down on two 10-year tax renewals that generate revenue for fire protection in parts of the parish. The first tax is a levy of 3.95 mills on all property that will generate approximately $193,300 annually from 2016 until 2025 for volunteer fire … Continue reading →

State seeks to release control of PC Central, St. Helena Middle

Patrick Dobard

After having snatched control of St. Helena Central Middle and Pointe Coupee Central High schools because of poor academic performance, the state is now on the verge of returning the schools to local control, even though neither school improved under the state’s watch. In motions filed March 14, the state Recovery School District is asking the … Continue reading →

Iberville outlaws saggy pants, underwear as outerwear

Baton Rouge couple get life in death of WBR man

A Baton Rouge couple were each sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty in the killing of a West Baton Rouge Parish man. Shearman L. Wisham, 1666 Teal St., and Mary Douglas, 1718 Robin Drive, were sentenced Monday by Judge J. Robin Free. Wisham and Douglas … Continue reading →

Around the Westside for March 19

Early voting for the April 5 primary election in Port Allen begins Saturday at the Registrar of Voters Office, located in the courthouse annex at 883 Seventh St., Suite A. Early voting will conclude on March 29. Voters will not be able to cast early votes on Sunday, March 23. The hours for early … Continue reading →

Parents arrested in death of malnourished infant

Jason Lutz and Ashley Cogar,of Ventress

Authorities are calling the death of 3-month-old Joseph Lutz, who died in January of severe malnutrition and dehydration, one of the worst child neglect cases they’ve ever seen. “That baby was in horrible condition. Its three months must have been hell on Earth,” Assistant District Attorney Tony Clayton said during a news … Continue reading →

Parents accused in baby’s death

Jason Lutz and Ashley Cogar,of Ventress

Authorities have arrested the parents of a malnourished baby found dead on Jan. 28 in a house at 12858 Patin Dyke Road in Pointe Coupee Parish. Jason Lutz and Ashley Cogar,of Ventress, were booked and face counts of second degree murder with bond set at $500,000 each, Sheriff Bud Torres said. Torres was addressing journalists during … Continue reading →

WBR captures four during home invasion

Darius Barnes

West Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputies were led on a chase Thursday morning after four suspects were caught breaking into a home on Colonial Drive. Three of the men were booked into the parish jail Thursday afternoon while the fourth was admitted to a hospital and treated for injuries he sustained when he was bitten by … Continue reading →

Port Allen council approves ‘transparency’ measures

The City Council adopted several ordinances aimed at increasing government transparency and more clearly defining policies and procedures at a meeting Wednesday. Most passed with little discussion, but a measure to grant department head status for five administrative positions came in for criticism from opponents who saw it as an attempt … Continue reading →

WBR drug sting nets 23 arrests, 8 others pending

West Baton Rouge Parish authorities arrested 23 people Tuesday through a multi-agency, six-month drug sting titled “Mardi Gras Clean-Up.” And Col. Richie Johnson, of the West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, said investigators have warrants for eight more individuals wanted on drug-related charges. The suspects were booked into the West Baton … Continue reading →

Around the Westside for March 12

The Port Allen Fire Department is offering Project Lifesaver, a tracking tool it will use to help locate someone who has wandered off — particularly children with special needs or the elderly. The service is available to West Baton Rouge Parish residents. Port Allen Fire Chief Rick Boudreaux secured a grant to train firefighters on … Continue reading →

Video: WBR deputy faces criminal, administrative sanctions

A West Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputy arrested this week could face additional discipline after he shoved an Addis police officer and threatened another officer who, during a routine traffic stop, pulled over a car containing the deputy’s wife, daughter and her boyfriend. Maj. Ronald “Ronnie” Graham, chief of uniform patrol for the West Baton Rouge … Continue reading →

Closed bridge creating headaches in Iberville

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Iberville Parish Department of Public Works employee Tiger Pitre welds safety barriers as he and his coworkers complete a temporary ferry landing across the Intracoastal Waterway Thursday along Highway 3066 outside of Plaquemine. A barge slammed into the La. 77 bridge this past weekend, damaging it so severely that the state closed it.

Iberville Parish officials say they are prepared to begin ferrying people, but not cars, as early as next week across the Intracoastal Waterway at the shutdown bridge on La. 77. The Louisiana Department of Transportation closed the La. 77 bridge between Grosse Tete and Plaquemine last week after a barge slammed into it, … Continue reading →

Effort to recall Port Allen councilman fails

Councilman-at-Large R.J. Loupe got to breathe a sigh of relief Wednesday afternoon after an effort to oust the 30-year veteran councilman officially ran out of steam. Residents seeking to recall Loupe had until 4:30 p.m. Wednesday to submit a petition containing 1,285 signatures from the city’s qualified voters to the West … Continue reading →