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False River drawdown aimed at restoring lake’s health

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Pierre Lemoine holds onto his son Jacques-Pierre Lemoine, 4, while the family dog, Marley, a five-year old golden retriever-lab mix leaps from the dock after a stick on False River in New Roads, Sunday, August 31. The Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury will begin a lake drawdown for False River on September 2, after Labor Day, which state and local officials are doing to improve the lakeÕs water quality. False RiverÕs water level will drop progressively for a three-week period, from approximately 16.5 feet to about 13.5 feet.

After more than 20 years of talking about it — a discussion that has often polarized Pointe Coupee residents — state and local authorities are taking their biggest step yet in trying to restore False River by instituting a man-induced drawdown of the ailing oxbow lake. State officials have given the Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury… Continue reading →

Louisiana’s feral hogs won the survivability lottery

File photo provided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceFeral hogs on the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge have been identified as a nuisance on public and private lands throughout Louisiana. The state Wildlife and Fisheries Commission has authorized the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to develop a set of regulations that would allow private landowners to take feral hogs from helicopters, a move some coastal landowners believe is the best way to control the state's increasing wild hog population.

Despite what you may have heard, feral hogs don’t give birth to three litters a year and no one female can have 300 piglets within a two-year period, says Kim Marie Tolson, associate professor of biology at University of Louisiana at Monroe. That said, the question of what to do about the increasing number of feral… Continue reading →

Cristo Rey considers starting school in Baton Rouge

Advocate staff file photo by HEATHER McCLELLAND -- Southern University Chancellor James Llorens

Cristo Rey, a nationwide network of 28 Catholic high schools, known for arranging once-a-week jobs for its inner-city students to offset tuition costs, is talking to local business leaders to see if Baton Rouge is ready for such a school. If so, the new school would likely open in fall 2016 with about 125 ninth-graders,… Continue reading →

Ascension’s midyear sales tax collections soar amid growth

Photo provided by CF Industries -- A new urea plant takes shape earlier this month as part of the $2.1 billion expansion of the CF Industries' nitrogen complex near Donaldsonville. The 100-acre construction site off La. 70, which Friday had no fewer than 30 cranes towering over it, is one of several major industrial projects fueling a surge in sales tax collections in Ascension Parish. The new urea plant, one of three major facilities planned in the expansion, will be able to produce about 1.3 million tons of urea once completed in the second half of 2015. The entire expansion is expected to be finished in mid-2016.

Beneath a forest of cranes set against the backdrop of an already sprawling chemical plant, more than 2,000 construction workers are building a $2.1 billion expansion of CF Industries’ nitrogen complex on the west bank of Ascension Parish. Not expected to be finished until mid-2016, the 100-acre addition to the nation’s largest nitrogen… Continue reading →

Mirabito earns praise for transforming troubled bus sytem

Advocate staff file photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- CATS CEO Bob Mirabito

When Bob Mirabito was selected to lead the Capital Area Transit System in 2013, the agency was facing a public image meltdown, undergoing a massive service expansion and dealing with allegations of board corruption and financial mismanagement. Many concerned transit advocates questioned handing the reins of a system under siege to a man with no… Continue reading →

Maurepas man dies in crash on La. 22

Photo provided by St. Amant Volunteer Fire Department -- Ascension Parish authorities investigate the scene of a single-vehicle crash on La. 22 that claimed the life of 37-year-old Robert G. Falcon Jr. of Maurepas on Monday, Sept. 1, 2014.

A Maurepas man was killed early Monday in a single-vehicle crash on La. 22 in Ascension Parish, State Police reported. Robert G. Falcon Jr., 37, was driving a 2003 GMC Yukon eastbound on La. 22 shortly before 3:15 a.m., police said. As Falcon approached a right-hand curve, his vehicle ran off the… Continue reading →

Obama: ‘Revving’ economy calls for higher wages

Associated Press photo by MORRY GASHPresident Obama hugs Chris Harris, vice president of United Steel Workers Local 2-209, after being introduced at Laborfest 2014 at Henry Maier Festival Park on Monday in Milwaukee.

MILWAUKEE — President Barack Obama renewed his push for Congress to raise the minimum wage Monday in a buoyant accounting of the economy’s “revving” performance, delivered on behalf of Democrats opening their fall campaigns for the midterm congressional elections. “America deserves a raise,” he told a union crowd in Milwaukee, vowing to keep a hard sell… Continue reading →

BR fair officials increase security after 2013 shooting

After last year’s fatal shooting at the Greater Baton Rouge State Fair, organizers vowed to improve security to keep fairgoers safe. Organizers decided on a two-pronged approach after studying security measures at other fairs and discussing the potential changes among the organization’s board of directors: check every fairgoer with a metal-detecting wand and change the closing… Continue reading →

Pro-Russian rebels lower demands in peace talks

Pro-Russian rebel leaders from Eastern Ukraine Andrei Purgin, left, and Alexey Karyakin  walk in Minsk, Belarus, on Monday, Sept. 1, 2014. A so-called contact group meets for talks in Minsk, the Belarusian capital, to reach agreement on a cease-fire. The group, which last met in late July, includes representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. (AP Photo/Dmitry Brushko)

Pro-Russian rebels softened their demand for full independence Monday, saying they would respect Ukraine’s sovereignty in exchange for autonomy — a shift that reflects Moscow’s desire to strike a deal at a new round of peace talks. The insurgents’ platform, released at the start of Monday’s negotiations in Minsk, the Belarusian capital, represented… Continue reading →

Iraqi prime minister pledges to root out militants

This photo provided by the Iraqi government shows outgoing prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, center, surrounded by residents and security forces after his arrival in Amirli, some 105 miles (170 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014. Al-Maliki praised residents for fending off attacks by Sunni militants who had besieged them for more than two months until security forces backed by Iran-allied Shiite militias and U.S. airstrikes broke the siege a day earlier. (AP Photo/Iraqi Government)

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s outgoing prime minster pledged Monday to turn his country into “a big grave” for Sunni militants from the Islamic State group and commended security forces who achieved a rare victory over insurgents by ending the siege of a Shiite town. Nouri al-Maliki made the comments during an unannounced visit to the… Continue reading →

SLCC prepares to build new college campus in St. Martinville

Photo provided by South Louisiana Community College -- Artist rendering of the new South Louisiana Community College Evangeline campus in St. Martinville.

South Louisiana Community College could begin construction of its new $7 million campus in St. Martinville in November and move in 12 months later. The new campus, which will replace the college’s existing one on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in St. Martinville, has been planned for the past five years. Construction… Continue reading →

School Board to consider relaxing bus driver requirements

For the second time in 16 months, the Lafayette Parish School Board will be asked to relax educational requirements for bus drivers as a way to more easily fill vacancies. Board policy currently requires that Lafayette Parish School System bus drivers have a high school diploma or its equivalent. The board will be… Continue reading →

Obama’s delay on immigration creates uncertainty

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama’s possible delay in taking action on immigration has thrown advocates and lawmakers from both parties a curveball, barely two months before the midterm elections. Democrats who were bracing for the impact that Obama’s long-awaited announcement would have on their campaigns are now rethinking aspects of their strategy for the fall. Republicans… Continue reading →

Ex-candidate sues challenging U.S. Sen. Landrieu's residency

Advocate staff file photo by BRYAN TUCK -- U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu

NEW ORLEANS — Former challenger Paul Hollis has sued Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, contending that she cannot represent Louisiana because she lives full-time in Washington. Under U.S. law, only “an inhabitant” of a state can be elected to the U.S. Senate to represent the state. “Mary L. Landrieu is in reality a full-time permanent… Continue reading →

State employee insurance changing

Advocate staff file photo by BILL FEIG -- Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols

Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols calls it a “right-sizing of benefits to costs.” But many state employees, retirees and their dependents say the changes they’ll be asked to start making next month translate to increases in out-of-pocket expenses for their health care. About 230,000 enrollees in the state’s Group Benefits program will be deciding in October… Continue reading →

Food trucks rolling onto La. campuses

Advocate staff photo by ANGELA MAJOR -- LSU mass communication junior Riley Dickens orders lunch Thursday, August 28, 2014, at Taco Churro's, a new food truck on LSU's campus.

The booming food truck craze has hit college campuses in Louisiana, as schools look to meet the ever-evolving demands of picky students. LSU in Baton Rouge and Tulane University in New Orleans have debuted their own food trucks this fall — merging the ongoing expansion of on-campus dining services with the restaurants-on-wheels phenomenon. “It’s about… Continue reading →

Clean air leader pitches emissions credit plan

At a time when industrial development is booming across much of South Louisiana, the persistent struggle to meet federal ozone standards in the Baton Rouge area could force expansions or new projects to grind to a halt. But Baton Rouge Clean Air Coalition leader Mike McDaniel believes he’s come up with a solution to both… Continue reading →

Acadiana Crime Blotter for Monday, Sept. 1, 2014

Arrests posted Aug. 31, 2014, on the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office website: DUSTIN JAMES AGUILLARD: 24, of the 300 block of East Oak Street, Crowely. He was booked on two counts of simple assault. KENYAN BAKER: 18, of the 500 block of St. John Street, Lafayette. She was booked… Continue reading →

Nationwide search on for director of Lafayette airport

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- The search coninues for a new director of the Lafayette Regional Airport Thursday in Lafayette.

A decision is expected by January in a nationwide search for the new director of the Lafayette Regional Airport, a position that unexpectedly became open when longtime Director Greg Roberts resigned in June after allegedly pointing a fake gun at an engineer during a business meeting. The airport began advertising… Continue reading →

Pennington Center selected to test new Alzheimer’s drug

LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center will take part in a national clinical research study, testing a drug that could treat Alzheimer’s — an incurable disease that affects brain function and eventually leads to death. The study marks Pennington’s entry into the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study network, an elite group of research sites that are leading federal… Continue reading →

LSU defeats Wisconsin 28-24 in season opener

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings (10) throws downfield as offensive guard Hoko Fanaika (69) and center Ethan Pocic block during the first half at NRG Stadium in Houston.

HOUSTON – LSU senior running back Kenny Hilliard found plenty of daylight up the middle of Wisconsin’s defense, darting 28 yards for the go-ahead, fourth-quarter touchdown to complete a second-half comeback and gave the No. 13 Tigers a 28-24 victory Saturday in the Advocare/Texas Kickoff. The Tigers (1-0) rallied from a 24-7 deficit at the 12:24 mark of the third quarter,… Continue reading →

Cajuns dodge raindrops to drop Southern 45-6

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- University of Louisiana at Lafayette running back Elijah McGuire celebrates the first touchdown of the season against Southern Saturday at Cajun Field in Lafayette.

LAFAYETTE — Daylong rain held down the crowd at Cajun Field, but that shouldn’t have dampened the enthusiasm surrounding the Louisiana-Lafayette football program. The Ragin’ Cajuns were hoping a record crowd would show up Saturday to see the preseason pick to win the Sun Belt Conference open the season against defending Southwestern Athletic Conference champion… Continue reading →

Distracted teen drivers raise alarms

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Driving instructor Jack Shoemaker talks with student driver Jacob Little, 15, before going out on a training drive Thursday.

Teen drivers account for an inordinate number of fatal crashes involving distractions, according to a national report. However, there are signs of progress in Louisiana, and recent state laws have enough teeth to make a difference, said Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. The study, titled “Distracted &… Continue reading →

Computer wizards converge on LSU to test their skills

Advocate staff photo by ANGELA MAJOR -- Austin Wells from Southern Methodist University uses hand gestures to interact with software Saturday, August 30, 2014 at GeauxHack, the first ever 24-hour

With cases of energy drinks, pillows, blankets and, of course, their laptops, about 75 students descended on Coates Hall on LSU’s campus this weekend to compete in the 24-hour GeauxHack hackathon. The group of college students from all parts of the country came for the chance to compete in teams for the best invention of the… Continue reading →

State employee insurance changing

Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols calls it a “right-sizing of benefits to costs.” But many state employees, retirees and their dependents say the changes they’ll be asked to start making next month translates to increases in out-of-pocket expenses for their health care. About 230,000 enrollees in the state’s Group Benefits program will be deciding in October… Continue reading →

Pennington selected to test new Alzheimer’s drug

LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center will take part in a national clinical research study, testing a drug that could treat Alzheimer’s — an incurable disease that affects brain function and eventually leads to death. The study marks Pennington’s entry into the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study network, an elite group of research sites that are leading federal efforts… Continue reading →

Business Briefs for Aug. 31, 2014

A workshop on starting a business is being held by SCORE from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m Sept. 2 at the EBRP Main Library, 7711 Goodwood Blvd., Baton Rouge. Topics include myths and realities of entrepreneurship; critical success factors; know your options; components of business ownership; making it… Continue reading →

People in Business for Aug. 31, 2014

Dr. Kishore Gadde, Pennington Biomedical Research Center

NEW ORLEANS AREA Michelle Zara has been named sales manager at Taste Buds Catering and Events in New Orleans. Zara previously held comparable positions with the Personnel Consulting Group, Bubba Gulf Shrimp Co. and Travel New Orleans. Earle Thompson has been promoted to senior vice president, agency… Continue reading →

Business Honors for Aug. 31, 2014

Boyd Mothe Jr., Mothe Funeral Homes in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS AREA Boyd Mothe Jr., a fifth-generation funeral director and embalmer and vice president of Mothe Funeral Homes in New Orleans, received the 2014 C.A. Charlet Funeral Director of the Year award from the Louisiana Funeral Directors Association. Mothe was recognized for his contributions to the funeral industry through his integrity,… Continue reading →

Business Meetings for Aug. 31, 2014

ASSOCIATION FOR CORPORATE GROWTH — LOUISIANA WHEN: Tuesday, 11:30 a.m. networking; noon luncheon WHERE: Roosevelt Hotel, 123 Baronne St., New Orleans SPEAKER: Dominik Knoll, chief executive officer of the World Trade Center New Orleans RESERVATIONS:Continue reading →

Businesses face increased risk of hacking

Advocate staff photo by ANGELA MAJOR -- Henry

It can take an entrepreneur years to save or raise the capital to start a business and build a brand, but a single data breach can wipe out all that work in a matter of moments. “One of the things that usually happens is no one worries about cyber until they get in a bind,… Continue reading →

Cyberterrorists could try to capitalize on natural disasters

While cyberattacks on businesses are a growing and worrisome problem, attacks on the nation’s “critical infrastructure,” such as water treatment and power plants, are truly frightening, said Henry “Paco” Capello, information systems program manager at LSU’s Stephenson Disaster Management Institute. “Louisiana has the most critical infrastructure of any other state. For natural gas alone, we account for… Continue reading →

Business Briefs for Aug. 31, 2014

A workshop on starting a business is being held by SCORE from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m Sept. 2 at the EBRP Main Library, 7711 Goodwood Blvd., Baton Rouge. Topics include myths and realities of entrepreneurship; critical success factors; know your options; components of business ownership; making it… Continue reading →