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With D’Amico retiring, Pointe Coupee School Board on hunt for a new superintendent

 Linda D'Amico, outgoing superintendent of schools for Pointe Coupee Parish.

The job advertisement is already running and the Pointe Coupee Parish School Board on Thursday accepted Superintendent Linda D’Amico’s pending retirement. But what the board hasn’t done yet is figure out the mechanics of how it will choose the next superintendent. The board opted to revisit the matter during a special… Continue reading →

Around the Westside for Feb. 25, 2015

Students advance to state competition Five students from West Baton Rouge and Iberville parishes have advanced to the state-level “You Be the Chemist” competition after the local level question-and-answer challenge on Feb. 11 in Plaquemine. According to a news release, 33 sixth though eighth grade students competed on Feb. 11 in six… Continue reading →

Four years later, Audubon Bridge remains $409M road less traveled

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Looking east. The John James Audubon Bridge over the Mississippi River just south of St. Francisville, La.. Nearly five years after the Audubon Bridge opened between St. Francisville and New Roads, the bridge is still carrying less traffic than it was projected to carry the day they cut the ribbon to open it. Meanwhile, a new bridge in the planning stages downriver from the I-10 Mississippi River bridge has the parish presidents of Iberville and West Baton Rouge at odds. Both say itÕs badly needed to alleviate horrendous traffic on La. 1 but each wants it to cross over into his parish.

The path to the $409 million John James Audubon Bridge continues to be the road less traveled. Nearly four years after the bridge connecting West Feliciana and Pointe Coupee parishes opened in May 2011, it has yet to carry the volume of traffic across the Mississippi River projected from the first day motorists were… Continue reading →

New Roads man booked on firearms violation believed involved in fatal shootings of siblings

Sinica Lee Williams and sister Lechelle Rita Williams were shot dead outside a New Roads nightclub early Wednesday morning.

Pointe Coupee Parish sheriff’s deputies on Friday arrested a New Roads man they believe may have been involved in the fatal shootings of two siblings this week at a New Roads nightclub. Capt. Steve Juge said deputies arrested Terry B. Matthews, 30, 615 Singletary St., and booked him into the Pointe Coupee Parish Jail… Continue reading →

WBR drug investigation nets 35 arrests; more expected

At least 35 people were arrested in an undercover drug sting in West Baton Rouge Parish on Thursday, including a former East Feliciana Parish teacher’s aide accused of selling her sick son’s prescription medications. Keashu King-Wright, 41, is accused of selling her son’s prescription medications to an undercover agent, said Col. Richie Johnson, a West Baton… Continue reading →

Around the Westside for Feb. 18, 2015

Plaquemine Bank and Trust will host the 28th annual Art Alert Show on April 29 and is issuing its “Calling for Artists.” The art show is open to all natives and residents of Iberville and West Baton Rouge parishes. Artists can enter categories for children under 10, children 10 to 13, young adults 14 to… Continue reading →

Plaquemine’s Comogo Parade moved to Sunday night due to expected bad weather

The annual Krewe of Comogo Parade has been moved to 7 p.m. Sunday. The parade was originally set to roll on Monday night, but officials said Friday that Monday’s weather forecasts of heavy rain and cold temperatures have prompted organizers to host the Mardi Gras parade a day early. The… Continue reading →

Four arrested in Iberville drug bust; children in state custody

Pictured from left, Jonathan Rineheart, Christopher Cummings, Jeremy Albert and Sonya Rineheart

Iberville Parish sheriff’s deputies this week arrested four people accused of creating a meth lab inside a home where two small children were living. The children, ages 2 and 4, were taken from the home and placed in state custody, Sheriff Brett Stassi said Friday. He said they did not belong… Continue reading →

Port Allen sees exodus of police officers; chief calls for more resources

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Police cruisers parked behind the Port Allen City Hall in Port Allen.

City leaders say the steady exodus of officers from the city’s Police Department appears to be slowing, but Police Chief Esdron Brown says he needs more resources to keep other officers from leaving for better jobs. Records show 12 officers have left since Brown took over as police chief in January… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge man accused in woman’s rape in Port Allen leads police on high-speed chase ending near Lafayette

Provided image Twitter, KATC

A Baton Rouge man accused of raping a woman he held captive overnight in a Port Allen motel led West Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputies and Louisiana State Police troopers on a high-speed chase Wednesday. Col. Richie Johnson, with the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, said deputies were dispatched to the Budget 7 motel along… Continue reading →

Around the Westside for Feb. 11, 2015

Some 34 middle school students from Iberville and West Baton Rouge parishes will compete Wednesday at the local level of a national chemistry competition being presented by Dow Chemical Co.’s Louisiana Operations. The 2015 Dow Westside Challenge will test the students’ knowledge of chemistry concepts, important discoveries and chemical safety awareness. The event aims to… Continue reading →

Darlene Ourso voted in as Iberville school board president

Darlene Ourso

The deadlock over who will serve as president of the Iberville Parish School Board ended this week during a special-called meeting where at-large board member Darlene Ourso won majority support to hold the office. And Ourso has board member Yolanda Laws to thank, because it was Laws’ vote in Ourso’s favor that finally… Continue reading →

Addis man, 21, sentenced to 15 years for firing into crowd

Shannon Dale Holmes Jr.

An Addis man convicted on two counts of attempted second-degree murder for firing into a crowd at a convenience store has been sentenced to 15 years in prison. Shannon Holmes Jr., 21, 3754 Chris Drive, Addis, will have to serve his time without the benefit of parole or probation, according to… Continue reading →

Kitts claims innocence at sentencing hearing in murder-for-hire plot

Advocate staff photo by ANGELA MAJOR -- Monique Kitts exiting the court house after being found guilty in November.

A state district court judge on Wednesday pushed back the sentencing date for the woman and hired gunman facing life sentences in prison for killing her husband in a murder-for-hire plot while they seek to have their verdicts overturned. District Judge Robin Free was forced to reset the sentencing date for… Continue reading →

Around the Westside for Feb. 4, 2015

Public-, private- and home-schooled students in the region can register for the West Baton Rouge Museum’s Greater Baton Rouge Regional National History Day Competition taking place at the museum on March 7. This will be the fourth year the museum is hosting the regional competition, which is open to students from Iberville, Pointe Coupee, East Baton… Continue reading →

St. Gabriel poised for growth, but some worry it’s coming too fast

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- A welcome sign greets eastbound motorists on La. 30 as they enter St. Gabriel in Iberville Parish.

This rural Iberville Parish city is poised to reap the benefits of Baton Rouge’s urban sprawl, but some worry the pace of change is coming too fast. At issue is the strain residential and commercial growth is placing on the infrastructure of this city of 6,700 downriver… Continue reading →

Officials: Reports of bulkhead failures at False River need more study before blaming the drawdown

Advocate file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Boaters prepare to pull a pair of tubers on False River in New Roads on Aug. 31. A drawndown of the lake in Pointe Coupee Parish is being blamed for the failure of bulkheads at properties along the lake. State officials say poor construction of the bulkheads may be to blame.

State officials told owners of property along False River at a meeting Wednesday night that any failures on some of their bulkheads were most likely caused by construction flaws and not the temporary drawdown of the oxbow lake’s water level. But many of those landowners have said the they believe the drawdown… Continue reading →

Around the Westside for Jan. 28, 2015

Members of the False River Civic Association will meet with state and Pointe Coupee Parish officials at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the False River Country Club to discuss their concerns regarding the oxbow lake’s drawdown this season, which they fear may be responsible for damage to the seawalls of several property owners living along the… Continue reading →

West Baton Rouge school officials aiming for Top 10 status by 2020

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Paraprofessional Kandi West, second from right, works with students to help them create their 100th Day Trail Mix in teacher Jackie Spencer's Pre-K (4) class at Brusly Elementary School as they celebrate the 100th day of school. West Baton Rouge Superintendent Wesley Watts' Vision plan for the school district will be presented to the School Board Wednesday night. Watts' plan outlines his vision for the school district's future and include a strategic plan to build upon the school district's academic success (WBR is currently a B rated school district; they're close to A status). Watts' plan addresses the district's academics, personnel, budget, buildings and transportation needs.

At the urging of Superintendent Wesley Watts, West Baton Rouge Parish school administrators and School Board members are working in tandem on a five-year strategic plan aimed at getting the school district recognized as one of the top 10 in the state by 2020. Watts says the school system will do… Continue reading →

West Baton Rouge levee bike trail work starts with Brusly trailhead

Artist rendering by Tipton Associates -- West Baton Rouge Parish has begun work on nearly $1 million worth of improvement projects that will add a walking/bike trail in Brusly and Addis and extend the linear park in Port Allen by 3,268 feet. Shown here are conceptual drawings of the bike path and trailhead in downtown Brusly.

Work began this week to transform part of the Mississippi levee top in West Baton Rouge Parish into a paved 3-mile bike trail south of the Intracoastal bridge. The project kicks off with construction of a trailhead in downtown Brusly that will feature a rest area and benches. Another levee project in Port Allen… Continue reading →

Around the Westside for Jan. 21

The Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury was in a more giving mood last week when it decided to overturn its previous decision to suspend funding to local Mardi Gras krewes this year and instead decided it would write checks for $1,500 to each of the four carnival clubs in the parish. The jury’s action… Continue reading →

Iberville School Board’s struggle to select a president doesn’t have an end in sight

Ed Cancienne

Determining who’s going to serve as president over the revamped Iberville Parish School Board could drag on for months — even years — if the board’s recent deadlock over the decision goes unchanged. One of the board members who could break the 4-4 tie between the two front-runners doesn’t appear eager to bring closure to… Continue reading →

Thirteen pounds of methamphetamine found during traffic stop, State Police reports

Mariano Alis Ismael Vicente, left, and Ismael Bragin

PORT ALLEN — A traffic stop by Louisiana State Police on Thursday led to the arrest of two men accused of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Troopers pulled over a 2015 Hyundai Veloster about 3:30 a.m. Thursday for a traffic violation along Interstate 10 in West Baton Rouge Parish and discovered 9 pounds… Continue reading →

Around the Westside for Jan. 14; MLK celebration planned

The Knights and Ladies of St. Peter Claver Council and Court 119 is sponsoring its 28th annual Martin Luther King Celebration at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Center in Maringouin. North Iberville School will be recognized at the program for its outstanding commitment to education, so all school faculty, staff, students… Continue reading →

New Iberville School Board deadlocks on officer elections

Ed Cancienne

Iberville Parish Schools Superintendent Ed Cancienne now has to add another job duty to his workload: presiding over the School Board’s monthly meetings. That’s because the newly revamped nine-member School Board on Monday failed to elect board officers — namely a board president — after three attempts resulting in the same sharply… Continue reading →

West Baton Rouge fire chief resigns; assistant chief promoted

Charles Stephens

West Baton Rouge Parish’s first fire chief has decided to walk away from the position less than a year after he was appointed. Officials said Monday they suspect Charles K. Stephens may have found the position too challenging as the parish continues to work out the kinks of consolidating its six fire subdistricts. But… Continue reading →

Excitement builds in Iberville as medical complex prepares to open

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Iberville Parish and Ochsner are set to hold the ribbon-cutting on its new $25 million medical complex next Friday Jan. 16, 2015. Weekend tours are being given for the community before the facility opens on Jan. 19.

Iberville Parish and Ochsner Health System officials are gearing up to unwrap the bow on a $22 million, publicly funded medical complex. They plan to give the public an opportunity for a sneak peek inside next week before the doors to the 43,000-square-foot facility open Jan. 19 to serve its… Continue reading →

Pointe Coupee board to seek Bond Commission approval to borrow $1 million to repair Pointe Coupee Central High

The Pointe Coupee Parish School Board on Thursday agreed to seek State Bond Commission authority to borrow up to $1 million to pay for repairs at Pointe Coupee Central High School. Meanwhile, board members expressed concerns about being able to open the now-closed campus by this fall as the district’s Continue reading →

Two injured in Pointe Coupee crash

Two Pointe Coupee Parish drivers involved in a head-on collision that temporarily shut down a portion of La. 415 Thursday morning were hospitalized for treatment of their injuries, Louisiana State Police said. Trooper 1st Class Jared Sandifer said the crash occurred about 11 a.m. Thursday when Dana L. Coleman, 34, of New… Continue reading →

High-speed police chase in Port Allen ends in crash, two arrests

A motorist led a State Police trooper on a high-speed chase through Port Allen on Thursday, but why the man was trying to flee from police is still unknown, according to Trooper 1st Class Jared Sandifer. Sandifer said a trooper was attempting to stop a vehicle for a traffic violation about… Continue reading →

Pointe Coupee school officials pin hopes on planned STEM Academy

Pointe Coupee Parish school district officials have high hopes for a proposal to transform Pointe Coupee Central High into a science, technology, engineering and math academy. Schools Superintendent Linda D’Amico last month sold the idea to the School Board as a magnet alternative program. She said the program could help boost the district’s lackluster… Continue reading →

With $300,000 worth of new Mardi Gras floats, Plaquemine brothers aim to compete with New Orleans

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Derrick Wilson, left, Sedrick Chaney, background, and Joseph Watson work on installing LED lighting strips around the inside of a float under construction Dec. 10, 2014. Plaquemine's 'Krewe of Comogo' members have built in the last five months 13 New Orleans-style Mardi Gras floats, for a local parade created two years ago to honor Brenda Comeaux, who died from cancer in 2009 at age 54.

When members of a fledgling Mardi Gras krewe approached the Comeaux brothers several years ago for permission to develop a nighttime parade in Plaquemine as a tribute to their sister Brenda, the brothers graciously blessed the Krewe of Comogo’s efforts. And for the past two years, the krewe’s annual… Continue reading →

Port Allen welcomes back Bonfest, despite the storm

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Firemen attempt to light the bonfire on the levee after a heavy rain at Port Allen's revival of its Christmas Bonfest  Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014.

The stage was set Tuesday for the city of Port Allen’s revival of its once-popular Christmas-themed Bonfest, but Mother Nature had a different idea as a thunderstorm dampened the celebration. The soggy day forced the city to cancel many of the scheduled events — like the live… Continue reading →

Around the Westside for Dec. 24, 2014

Father Greg Daigle once again will crown the Christmas season with songs of faith and other music at 4 p.m. on Epiphany Sunday, Jan. 4, at St. John Evangelist Catholic Church in Plaquemine. Tickets are on sale now at the St. John Parish Office and at the school for $25 each. The event provides an… Continue reading →

Pointe Coupee School Board may ask judge to force the state to pay for repairs to Central High

The Pointe Coupee Parish School Board is hoping to recoup nearly $1.9 million from the state’s Recovery School District for much-needed repairs at Pointe Coupee Central High School, the site of the district’s proposed Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Arts Academy. And the board is hoping the federal judge… Continue reading →