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Angry, out-of-control people plus poor courthouse security add up to a potential tragedy, 18th JDC judges, staff say

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- The Iberville Parish Courthouse in Plaquemine has been criticized by judges because of its lax security procedures. The  building's front door has no security guard  and metal detectors are installed only on 3rd floor courtrooms.

Judges and court employees in courthouses across the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge are raising an alarm about poor security in the wake of several incidents in which deputies have had trouble restraining angry, out-of-control people. None of the incidents have involved weapons, but 18th Judicial District Judge William Dupont said he’s concerned that… Continue reading →

Around the Westside for April 15, 2015

The West Baton Rouge Recreation Department is now accepting registrations for annual summer day camp and swimming classes to be held in June and July at Williams and Lee Park in Port Allen. The Port Allen camps are in addition to the department’s other annual summer camps offered in Addis, Erwinville and the Port Allen… Continue reading →

St. Gabriel Health Clinic releases proposed agreement with Iberville School Board, but board lawyer says the attorneys are still working on it

The St. Gabriel Health Clinic has forwarded to the Iberville Parish School Board a draft of an agreement outlining the functions of two school-based health clinics in the hope the board would discuss the matter at its meeting Monday. However, Assistant District Attorney Scott Stassi, who is representing the School Board in its ongoing negotiations with… Continue reading →

Iberville clerk’s office spent more than $30,000 in public money on travel, gas. Clerk J. Gerald “Bubbie” Dupont: 'If I go to Florida, I’m bringing my family'

The Iberville Parish Clerk of Court’s Office has spent more than $30,000 in public funds on out-of-town conference trips and fuel for vehicles over the past three years — more than twice what was spent by its similarly sized counterparts in Pointe Coupee and West Baton Rouge parishes, records show. The charges include thousands… Continue reading →

With superintendent search on front burner, Pointe Coupee School Board may push proposed STEM Academy to the back burner

Advocate staff photo by TERRY JONES -- A federal court judge recently approved a motion from the state's Recovery School District that will shut down Pointe Coupee Central High in Morganza forcing more than 180 students to attend Livonia High in the fall. The judge's decision has angered some community members who feel Central is the better option as the parish's lone high school because of its size and location.

Plans to transform Pointe Coupee Central High School into a much-touted Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Arts Academy could likely be shelved. Four of the eight School Board members contacted Wednesday said they’re prepared to temporarily pump the brakes on the ambitious endeavor because the board has enough on its plate in trying… Continue reading →

Around the Westside for April 1, 2015

West Baton Rouge Parish Library Director Beth Vandersteen was recently chosen as the Essae M. Culver Award recipient by the Louisiana Library Association for her career achievements. The association’s highest award is given to honor a librarian who merits recognition for: professional service and achievements, leadership in Louisiana association work and lifetime accomplishments in… Continue reading →

Twelve apply to become superintendent of the Pointe Coupee Parish School System

The Pointe Coupee Parish School Board released the résumés of 12 candidates who have applied for the superintendent’s position following Linda D’Amico’s announcement that she’s retiring at the end of the year. Among the pool of applicants are educational officials from Maryland and Lafayette as well as a few administrators from schools in the… Continue reading →

Woman who says she was kidnapped from East Baton Rouge survives crash that killed alleged abductor

Advocate staff photo by Terry Jones --A woman injured in a fatal one-car crash on Wednesday, March 26, 2015, in West Baton Rouge Parish told authorities that her boyfriend, who died in the crash, had kidnapped her from their Baton Rouge home.

When first responders arrived at a one-vehicle crash scene Thursday morning on Rosedale Road, a woman inside the vehicle told them she was the victim of a kidnapping by her boyfriend. The woman, 34-year-old Rae Michelle Carrell, was airlifted to a hospital where she remained in critical condition Thursday night, Baton Rouge… Continue reading →

Health clinics in Iberville Parish, Marrero and Metairie join forces with Honduran Consulate to serve growing Hispanic community in Louisiana

A nonprofit health clinic in Iberville Parish and two more from the New Orleans area joined forces this week with the Honduran Consulate in New Orleans in an effort to make health care more accessible to the Hispanic community in south Louisiana. In Iberville Parish, some 40 percent of the patient… Continue reading →

Around the Westside for March 25, 2015

The West Baton Rouge Museum gears up to promote a national traveling exhibit, “Apron Chronicles: A Patchwork of American Recollections,” this week by first hosting a lunchtime lecture at noon Wednesday titled “Twentieth Century Cinderellas: Women and Their Aprons.” Pam Rabalais-Vinci, of the LSU Textile and Costume Museum, will serve as the lecture’s featured speaker.… Continue reading →

Tea Party, Dow Louisiana line up against West Baton Rouge sheriff’s sales tax proposal; increase would push parish sales tax rate to 9.5 percent

West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Mike Cazes is getting pushback from local industry and the Tea Party of Louisiana over the half-cent sales tax he’s hoping voters will approve in Saturday’s election. Cazes has said previously he would have to cut back, or eliminate, several programs and public services his office provides to make… Continue reading →

Petition drive being organized in Iberville asking school board to retain health clinic services at east bank schools

While the future of a nonprofit health clinic operating in two east bank Iberville Parish schools remains unclear, the president of the clinic’s board of directors says a community group she’s also a part of has reactivated and is gathering signatures on a petition urging the School Board to retain its ties with the St. Gabriel Health… Continue reading →

Law enforcement revisiting alleged family feud after killing of deputy U.S. Marshal Josie Wells

NEW ROADS—The Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff’s Office is now revisiting at least three previously reported crimes connected to what investigators believe is an ongoing feud between two New Roads families, a feud that led this week to the death of a deputy U.S. marshal. Sheriff Bud Torres said Friday his office is giving… Continue reading →

Iberville School Board mulling terminating agreement with St. Gabriel Health over east bank school clinics

Assistant District Attorney Scott Stassi told the Iberville Parish School Board on Monday night it should consider voting next month whether to dissolve its agreement with the nonprofit health clinic operating in two schools on the east bank of Iberville Parish. Stassi is asking board members to entertain the vote at its… Continue reading →

Unraveling of Scott Rogers', Mathew Hodgkinson's lives before murder-suicide revealed in new records, Maria Edwards' account

Investigators say they found a total of $5,000 in cash hidden in various places in the home of "Around the Town" host Scott Rogers the afternoon Rogers was shot and killed by Mathew Hodgkinson on Aug. 27, 2014. Hodgkinson also turned the gun on himself that day.

Maria Edwards was downstairs peering out of a window in the St. Gabriel home local television personality Scott Rogers shared with Mathew Hodgkinson on Aug. 27 when she heard a gunshot from upstairs. While on the phone with 911 seeking help, she heard another. “After that second gunshot, I was a zombie,” Edwards said. “You’re just in shock.… Continue reading →

Monique Kitts sentenced to life in prison for her role in the ‘murder for hire’ plot to kill her husband

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING --  From left to right, Monique O. Kitts of Livingston is escorted out of court by Deputy Daryl Williams and Detective  Major Bryan Doucet of the West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office at the West Baton Rouge Parish Courthouse, after her sentencing Thursday. Kitts was convicted of second degree murder  last year, in the hiring of Karl Michael Howard of Roswell, Ga. to kill her husband Corey Kitts, 40. She received life in prison without benefit of parole or probation. Corey Kitts was shot three times on the morning of July 9, 2010, while sleeping in the couples bedroom in the Addis home he shared with his wife and their two children.

A state district judge sentenced a former day care operator and the “nerdy” Verizon-employee-turned-hit man she hired to life in prison on Thursday, three months after a West Baton Rouge Parish jury found the two guilty of murdering her husband. State District Judge J. Robin Free sentenced Monique… Continue reading →

Around the Westside for March 4

Early voting for the March 28 proposition election in West Baton Rouge Parish will be at the Registrar’s Office, located in the Courthouse Annex Building, starting on March 21, according to West Baton Rouge Registrar of Voters Stacy Ryan. Hours for early voting will be from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day — excluding… Continue reading →

Iberville School Board looking for more control over health clinics at schools

A nonprofit health clinic operating in two schools on the east bank of Iberville Parish is finding itself at odds with the Iberville Parish School Board, which wants the school system to assert more control over how the clinics treat students. School Board members say they’ve gotten complaints from parents about students being pulled from classes… Continue reading →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →