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30,000 without power in Baton Rouge, surrounding areas; outages could linger into Thursday for some

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Downed power lines and a pole block traffic except for police and emergency vehicles on Gardere Lane Monday after strong winds and rains wreaked havoc in Baton Rouge.

More than 30,000 Baton Rouge-area residences, schools and businesses remained without power in the wake of a severe thunderstorm that ripped through southeastern Louisiana on Monday, uprooting trees, flooding roadways and snapping power lines. Several school were closed Tuesday, mostly because of power outages. Entergy said crews were working to restore power and additional resources arrived… Continue reading →

Friends, professors grieve over deaths of two LSU students; few details emerge about what led the two to go swimming early Sunday

Ishita Maity

Friends and professors are mourning the deaths of two LSU graduate students who mysteriously drowned in a Tigerland-area pool over the weekend. Few new details emerged Monday about what led to the drownings of Ishita Maity, 28, and Anton Joe, 25, who friends have described as extremely intelligent and impressive students. Maity was believed… Continue reading →

Entergy profit falls on warmer Northeastern weather

NEW ORLEANS — Entergy Corp. reported first-quarter net income dropped to $298.2 million, or $1.65 per share, compared to $401.2 million, or $2.24 per share, a year ago. The power company said its results were affected by warmer weather and closing the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station. A year ago, cold weather across the Northeast and limited… Continue reading →

Home Bancorp profit rises

Lafayette-based Home Bancorp Inc., the parent company of Home Bank N.A., reported its first-quarter profit grew to $2.8 million, or 41 cents per share, compared to $1.4 million, or 40 cents per share, a year ago. The first-quarter 2014 results included $2 million of pre-tax expenses related to the acquisition of Britton & Koontz Capital Corp.… Continue reading →

Canadian firm buys B& G Crane

A Canadian crane company has acquired New Orleans-based B&G Crane Holdings Inc., one of the largest crane and heavy haul transportation companies in Louisiana and Texas. Terms of the deal with NCSG Crane & Heavy Haul Holdings Inc. were not announced. The Sterling Group L.P. was the majority owner of B&G, which was founded in 1946 by… Continue reading →

Investar boosts first-quarter profit

Baton Rouge-based Investar Holding Corp., the parent company of Investar Bank, reported its first-quarter earnings rose to $2 million, or 27 cents per share, compared to $900,000, or 21 cents per share, a year ago. Investar President and Chief Executive Officer John D’Angelo said the company made grew both its commercial and industrial loan portfolio and non-interest… Continue reading →

Houston firm acquires proposed Plaquemines LNG project

Houston-based Parallax Energy has acquired Louisiana LNG Energy LLC, a liquefied natural gas export project planned in Plaquemines Parish. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. “The addition of Louisiana LNG to our company sets the Parallax strategy firmly into motion. We have an innovative, efficient and cost-effective way to safely produce what customers… Continue reading →

Higher education leaders still fretting over budget outlook

As the Legislature entered the third week of its 2015 session, higher education leaders showed little optimism over the current state of negotiations that would spare colleges and universities from deep cuts in the coming year. “Our timeline doesn’t fit with this legislative timeline,” LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander said during a meeting with… Continue reading →

EuroChem chooses St. John the Baptist site over Iberville Parish for $1.5 billion plant

EuroChem Group AG chose Monday 915 acres in St. John the Baptist Parish for its proposed $1.5 billion ammonia and urea production plant, a spokesman said. The move means EuroChem will not retain 2,150 acres of state-owned land near Carville in Iberville Parish for the project. Russia’s largest producer of minerals fertilizer now… Continue reading →

Officials to discuss Street Smart Master Plan at Webb Park Civic Association meeting

The Center for Planning Excellence and Ingolf Partenheimer, the city-parish’s chief traffic engineer, will be addressing the Webb Park Civic Association on Tuesday about the Street Smart Master Plan. The meeting, scheduled at 6 p.m. at the Webb Park Senior Center, is open to the public. The Webb Park neighborhood is comprises several historic subdivisions,… Continue reading →

Ascension School Board member calls for relocating Donaldsonville Primary and west bank Head Start program

In a bid to find a new home for the city’s Head Start program, Ascension Parish School Board member Robyn Penn Delaney said Tuesday that she would like the school system to close Donaldsonville Primary and rebuild it farther from CF Industries. Delaney said she will propose the School Board make a… Continue reading →

Red Cross opens shelter at Woodlawn Baptist Church on Jones Creek Road

The American Red Cross opened an emergency shelter in Baton Rouge at 11:30 p.m. Monday to assist those affected by the severe weather. Red Cross workers are providing a safe place to sleep, food and emotional support for those with immediate, disaster-caused needs, the agency said in a news release. The Red Cross-managed shelter is at… Continue reading →

Baltimore plunges into chaos as riots erupt from man’s death in police custody

A man carries items from a store as police vehicles burn, Monday, April 27, 2015, after the funeral of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. Gray died from spinal injuries about a week after he was arrested and transported in a Baltimore Police Department van. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

BALTIMORE — Rioters plunged part of Baltimore into chaos Monday, torching a pharmacy, setting police cars ablaze and throwing bricks at officers hours after thousands mourned the man who died from a severe spinal injury he suffered in police custody. The governor declared a state of emergency and called in the National Guard… Continue reading →

Toxic chemical bill backed by U.S. Sen. David Vitter, picks up more Democratic support

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- U.S. Senator David Vitter speaks at a town hall meeting Aug. 15, 2013, at Baton Rouge's Jones Creek Regional Branch LIbrary.

Washington — A deal on a toxic-chemcial regulation bill promoted by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., brings more Democratic senators on board with the measure, Vitter’s Democratic co-sponsor of the legislation said Monday, on the eve of committee action on the proposal.

The update of the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act is scheduled to come up Tuesday before the… Continue reading →

Compass Career College agrees in settlement to pay $30,000 to HIV-positive student denied admission to practical nursing program

Compass Career College in Hammond must pay $30,000 to a nursing student who claimed he was denied admission because of his HIV status, according to an agreement reached Monday with the U.S. Department of Justice. But an attorney for the college said the school did nothing wrong and chose to settle because it was cheaper than… Continue reading →

Mitch Landrieu says commitment to New Orleans will keep him out of governor's race

Advocate staff file photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ -- New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu

After criticizing the Jindal administration’s approach to balancing the state’s budget, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said emphatically Monday that he will not run for governor in 2015. “We have made tremendous progress that was admirable of the city, but we have a very long way to go, and because of that I don’t intend to… Continue reading →

Proposals to have voters decide term limits for parish president, council met with uneasy silence by Tangipahoa Parish Council

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Statements given by investigator are allowed at trial on DWI bribery accusations, federal magistrate rules

Statements a private investigator gave to agents as they searched his home in the investigation of a DWI bribery scheme in the 15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office can be used as evidence in his upcoming trial, a federal magistrate judge has found. U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick Hanna’s finding is a recommendation to U.S. District Judge Elizabeth… Continue reading →

Even before it opens, University Medical Center in New Orleans may have to cut access because of money issues

Advocate file photo by MICHELLE MILLHOLLON -- La. House speaker pro-tem Walt Leger III.

Opening the new $1.2 billion University Medical Center in New Orleans without the dollars required to fund its operations will cut access to health care, LCMC Health Chief Executive Officer Greg Feirn said Monday. “Without the funding we would have to reduce the amount of care provided in a brand new facility. It doesn’t make sense,” Feirn… Continue reading →

Five suspected of DWI in East Baton Rouge Parish between Sunday and Monday

Authorities arrested at least five people suspected of driving while intoxicated in East Baton Rouge Parish and booked them into Parish Prison between 2:30 p.m. Sunday and 2:30 p.m. Monday, booking records show. Those booked and the counts against them: Michel Heckard, 48, 1648 N. 49th St., Baton Rouge, first-offense DWI, equipment violation, driver’s… Continue reading →

Lightning cause of Monday fire that destroyed home on Donna Drive

A lightning strike during the violent thunderstorm that swept through Baton Rouge Monday morning destroyed a house on Donna Drive but firefighters were able to put out a second fire in a Belfort Drive house in less than 20 minutes. Firefighters responded to the first incident at 9325 Donna Drive at 9:37 a.m. and it took 40… Continue reading →

Storms roar through Acadiana; more rough weather expected into Tuesday, but should clear by afternoon

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- A large branch lies across the roof of a home at the corner of St. Patrick and Congress Streets following a heavy thunderstorm that moved through the region Monday in Lafayette.

Some schools were closed and about 28,800 Acadiana residents were without power Monday after a severe thunderstorm outpaced the forecast and, with little warning, passed over the region at 8:15 a.m. But forecasters are predicting clear and cool weather after the last of several days of severe and sporadic thunderstorms is expected to pass through the… Continue reading →

More hail, strong winds, isolated tornadoes possible in south Louisiana Tuesday morning, National Weather Service warns

. The National Weather Service is advising that "another round of severe thunderstorms producing strong winds, hail, isolated tornadoes, and heavy rainfall could impact the (New Orleans-Baton Rouge) area late (Monday) evening and overnight." The NWS lists its confidence in that forecast as "moderate." ‚Äč(Related: Click here to track the storms on radar.)Continue reading →

Body found in vehicle submerged in Broussard coulee

One person is dead after a vehicle was found submerged in a coulee Monday afternoon near the 1400 block of Duchamp Road, the St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Office said. Deputies responded to the scene around 4 p.m. and suspect only one person was in the vehicle when it ran off the roadway,… Continue reading →

Louisiana House approves highway aid bill 92-5

Trying to help Louisiana’s ailing highways, a bill that would gradually end most of the money transfers from transportation to State Police breezed through the state House on Monday. The vote was 92-5. The proposal, House Bill 208, next faces action in the state Senate. Under current rules, about $65 million to $70 million from… Continue reading →

Power outages lead to closure of Assumption Parish schools, courthouse

Assumption Parish public schools and the parish courthouse in Napoleonville will be closed Tuesday due to power outages throughout the parish, school officials said. All government offices in the Napoleonville courthouse and 23rd Judicial District Judge Jessie LeBlanc’s Division D office will be closed, a parish official said in a news release Monday.… Continue reading →

Photos: Monday's severe storms in Baton Rouge took no mercy on homes, trees, power lines, Alex Box Stadium, even the American flag

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- A shredded American flag waves in post-storm winds, outside the Robinson Brothers Ford dealership at Airline Highway at Sherwood Forest, after a severe thunderstorm with high winds and hail rolled through Monday in Baton Rouge.

A violent storm that rolled through Baton Rouge Monday morning brought an inch and a half of rain, gusts up to 60 mph and left the city with trees down, flooded roads and power outages... Continue reading →

Ideas to ease traffic tieups between I-10 bridge and Essen set for August

State officials in August will offer concepts on how to improve near-daily traffic jams between the Interstate 10 bridge and Essen Lane in Baton Rouge, Louisiana’s transportation chief said Monday. However, Sherri LeBas said any work on tackling the problem would be rolled out in “fundable” stages, and is heavily dependent on an infusion of dollars for… Continue reading →

Advocate announces exclusive, innovative partnership with national website Sportsmanias

. The Advocate and Sportsmanias, a fast-growing national website featuring news about college and professional sports teams, have announced an exclusive partnership to benefit readers and fans of south Louisiana's most prominent teams. Sportsmanias serves as a one-stop shop for team-specific news. The website compiles headlines across the country about a team and displays… Continue reading →

Hit-and-run crash involving school bus on Weller Avenue sends two students to hospital Monday morning

. A hit-and-run crash Monday morning involving a school bus in north Baton Rouge sent two students aboard the bus to a hospital, authorities said.
The crash occurred shortly before 6:30 a.m. in the 2700 block of Weller Avenue near its intersection with Alliquippa Street, said Cpl. Don Coppola Jr., a Baton Rouge police spokesman.
A Geo Prizm rear-ended the… Continue reading →

LSU students found different ways to weather the Monday storm: 'Even after being in Louisiana for years, that was one of the worst thunderstorms I’ve seen'

As a strong line of thunderstorms approached Baton Rouge Monday morning, cell phones in classrooms all over LSU started to go off with a warning. Jessie Smith, 19, and Christina Barrios, 20, were in class when they got the text that there was a tornado warning. They went out to stand under a pavilion near their… Continue reading →