Council eyes Kenilworth extension to Burbank

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- A cemetery and two businesses may be removed for a Dept. of Public Works plan to build a Kenilworth Parkway connector between Highland Road and Burbank Drive. An Ace Hardware Store and Country Day School of Baton Rouge as well as a small cemetery would have to be moved for the project. This view looking north shows Kenilworth Parkway where it intersects Highland Road.

Baton Rouge officials are looking at building another connection between Highland Road and Burbank Drive to ease traffic in the area. But a decision to extend Kenilworth Parkway, one of the likely scenarios, would mean trouble for some of the adjacent businesses and an old cemetery. Traffic continues to be an issue at the … Continue reading →

Reduced marijuana penalties rejected by La. Senate panel

File photo -- Three-fourths of Americans say nationwide legalization of marijuana is inevitable, according to a Pew Reserach Center poll.

A state Senate panel effectively killed legislation Tuesday that would have reduced criminal penalties for simple possession of marijuana. The 4-3 vote came after the panel shot down a compromise attempt, under which possession of an ounce or less would have been a misdemeanor. The Senate Committee on Judiciary C action marked the second … Continue reading →

EBR school supporters bash legislation

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Carolyn Hill, representative to the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education for District 8, speaks to the potential impact of House Bill 1177 during a community forum Tuesday at Capitol Middle School. The bill would institute school-based leadership, thereby reducing power of the superintendent and School Board.

Opponents of legislation to shift power from the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board to principals argued Tuesday that the bills are unconstitutional as written, sure to provoke litigation and if enacted would run off already overworked principals. … Continue reading →

BRPD reports major crime down 7.4 percent in 2013

Continuing a more than decade-long trend, crime in Baton Rouge decreased in 2013 from 2012, with violent crime dropping 15 percent, according to statistics released Tuesday by the Baton Rouge Police Department. The Uniform Crime Reporting numbers are submitted to the FBI, which combines them with statistics from 18,000 other law enforcement agencies in the U.S. … Continue reading →

Kenner PD, Jeff DA take over dismemberment case

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Friends and family members of Jaren Lockhart brought photographs, flowers and candles to her memorial service at the Tourist Information Center in Albany June 15, 2012. Lockhart's dismembered body was found washed up on beaches in Mississippi.

The only thing certain about Jaren Lockhart’s death is that it was gruesome. The 22-year-old Bourbon Street dancer disappeared nearly two years ago after a shift performing on a street notorious for its seedy nightlife. Days later, her headless torso washed ashore in Hancock County, Miss. A couple of days after that, other body … Continue reading →

Death Row inmate not mentally retarded, psychologist testifies

Allen

The 46-year-old man on death row for fatally stabbing an elderly Baton Rouge couple on New Year’s Day 1991 falls within the borderline intelligence range but is not mentally retarded, a court-appointed expert testified Tuesday. Psychologist Curtis Vincent’s testimony in the 19th Judicial District Courthouse came five months after a psychologist hired by Allen “Lil Boo” Robertson … Continue reading →

Brusly council appoints Johnson interim police chief

The Town Council on Tuesday night unanimously appointed Richie Johnson, a colonel with the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, to serve as interim police chief following the elected chief’s conviction on malfeasance in office. The council also set a special election Nov. 4 to elect a new police chief to finish the … Continue reading →

Livingston man accused of 100 counts of child pornography

Richard Mudd

A Livingston man was booked Tuesday with 100 counts of child pornography, authorities said. Richard Mudd, 47, 17390 Bud McMorris Road, was booked into the Livingston Parish Detention Center on 50 counts of possessing and 50 counts of distributing pornography involving juveniles, said Laura Gerdes Colligan, a Louisiana Attorney General’s Office … Continue reading →

Deadlines, meetings set ahead of BP trial

A federal court magistrate has issued a seven-page schedule of hearings, conferences and deadlines leading up to January’s trial aimed at determining how much money BP will owe in Clean Water Act fines as a result of its 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The Jan. 20 date for the trial was set earlier this year … Continue reading →

Sales tax to improve Lafayette airport headed to voters

Advocate staff file photo by BRYAN TUCK -- A plane sits at the terminal of the Lafayette Regional Airport in February.

The City-Parish Council approved putting a temporary sales tax on the ballot later this year that, if passed by voters, would help fund a bigger, modern terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport. Eight of nine council members voted to place the 1-cent sales tax on the ballot in either the November general election … Continue reading →

Search committee asks Lafayette board to clarify authority

A search committee charged with recommending a new general counsel for the School Board decided Tuesday to ask the full board to look at revising the policy that gave the committee the authority to recommend lawyers. The search committee includes five board members — board President Hunter Beasley, board Vice President Tommy … Continue reading →

BGR denounces levee board bill

A New Orleans-based government research group on Tuesday called for rejection of legislation that would give Gov. Bobby Jindal sweeping authority to remove members of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority. “The expanded removal power would severely compromise the boards’ independence and reverse reforms intended to depoliticize and professionalize governance of the levee districts in the New … Continue reading →

Parishes not part of effort to sidetrack wetland suits

Advocate Photo by MICHELLE MILLHOLLON -- State Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette, said Tuesday that he was postponing legislation he sponsored that would impact the lawsuits filed by some coastal parishes against oil and gas companies.

Even as the Louisiana Legislature is moving toward derailing the lawsuit a New Orleans-area levee board filed against 97 energy companies for damage to coastal marshes, lawmakers appear to be backing off action against similar litigation filed by Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes. It’s too early to say the parishes are off the hook for the session, lobbyists … Continue reading →

Homebuilder buys lots for nearly $2 million

DSLD, a Denham Springs-based homebuilder, has bought the 41-lot Myrtle Bluff subdivision for nearly $2 million. According to documents filed with the East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court’s office Monday, the homebuilder bought the lots from developer Anselmo RBC, represented by Ross Bruce. Myrtle Bluff is located on the north side of Perkins Road east of … Continue reading →

Legacy lawsuit bill breezes through state Senate

The state Senate on Tuesday voted 37-0 for a measure aimed at clarifying the responsibility of oil and gas firms for cleaning up lands they leased. The proposal, Senate Bill 667, next faces action in the House. Under the initial version, the legislation required landowners to prove that the oil firm acted unreasonably and excessively before … Continue reading →

Venture Challenge finalists to make business pitches

Four finalists will make business pitches at the third annual Venture Challenge being held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Friday in the Atchafalaya room at the LSU Student Union. The finalists were selected by the LSU Student Incubator program the Louisiana Business & Technology Center from among 14 student teams that submitted business plans. The … Continue reading →

Engineers group sets development seminar

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ Baton Rouge Section is holding a one-day, multi-topic seminar that earns up to seven Professional Development Hours in continuing education. The seminar will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 2 in the Holiday Inn South, 9940 Airline Highway, Baton Rouge. The cost is $75 per person for tech/prof … Continue reading →

Crime Blotter for April 23, 2014

Following a high-speed chase on Interstate 10 early Tuesday, Lafayette police booked a man on multiple counts of attempted murder after he shot into an Orchid Drive home that had a number of people inside, including the man’s ex-girlfriend, officials said. … Continue reading →

FDA panel rejects combination pain pill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal health advisers have unanimously rejected an experimental pain pill that combines two common opioids, oxycodone and morphine. The combination pill, Moxduo, was developed by QRxPharma with the aim of decreasing dangerous side effects of prescription painkillers, including breathing problems, nausea and vomiting. The company theorized that combining lower doses of the two drugs … Continue reading →

House bill to restrain dogs in pickups advances

Advocate Photo by MICHELLE MILLHOLLON -- Legislation that would require dogs be secured instead of riding loose in a truck bed by state Rep. Tom Willmott, R-Kenner, narrowly won approval in the full House on Tuesday.

For a second year in a row, the state Senate likely will decide whether dogs should be restrained in the backs of pickups. The House — on a 53-34 vote — approved House Bill 1091 Tuesday to require dogs be secured instead of riding loose in a truck bed on an interstate highway. The bill needed at … Continue reading →

New Jersey school sued over ‘under God’ in pledge

FREEHOLD, N.J. (AP) — A family is suing a New Jersey school district, contending that the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance discriminates against atheist children. The lawsuit against the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District was filed in state court last month and was announced Monday by the American Humanist Association. The group says the phrase, … Continue reading →

Senate panel OKs judge reduction

Advocate Photo by MICHELLE MILLHOLLON -- New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, right, was in Baton Rouge to testify Tuesday in favor of legislation that would reduce the number of juvenile judges serving Orleans Parish. He took a moment to visit with Senate President John Alario, center, and state Sens. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi, left, and Gregory Tarver, D-Shreveport.

A state Senate committee Tuesday advanced legislation Tuesday that would abolish a section of the Orleans Parish Juvenile Court by the end of the year and would soon eliminate another judgeship. The Senate Judiciary A committee approved Senate Bill 445 with the only no vote coming from the only state senator from New Orleans … Continue reading →

Around Baton Rouge for Wednesday, April 23, 2014

RED STICK MOBILE FARMERS MARKET: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Scotlandville Library, 7373 Scenic Highway, and 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m., Star Hill Church, 1400 N. Foster Drive. The mobile farmers market provides wellness resources and food options in areas without direct access to grocery stores. THE JACK MITCHELL COLLECTION: All day, Shaw … Continue reading →

Legislators vent over Jindal’s budget

Debate on a bill involving the state’s coastal protection fund allowed legislators to let off some steam Tuesday about Gov. Bobby Jindal’s state budget writing. “I hope I wasn’t too ugly,” state Rep. Simone Champagne said after accusing the Jindal administration of backing legislators into a corner by failing to protect state dollars. Moments earlier, Champagne — … Continue reading →

Washington, La. scrutinized for being 'speed trap'

Advocate Photo by WILL SENTELL -- State Rep. Alan Seabaugh, R-Shreveport, sponsored two bills aimed at Washington, a town about 70 miles northwest of Baton Rouge, that he calls,  the worst speed trap in the state of Louisiana.

Officials of the St. Landry Parish town of Washington call it one of the oldest settlements in Louisiana, known for towering plantation homes and live oaks. Critics call it a notorious speed trap. A state House committee approved two bills Tuesday to trim speeding tickets issued in Washington . “It is far and away … Continue reading →

5 arrested in attack on police

Baton Rouge police officers were attacked by members of a crowd as the officers were trying to break up a large party Sunday night at Kings Court Apartments after complaints of loud music, resulting in the arrests of five people. In a quick-moving sequence, officers arrested four people who tried attacking them or … Continue reading →

Lafayette man accused of shooting into house with 13 people inside

Kevin James Alexander

Following a high-speed chase on Interstate 10 early Tuesday, Lafayette police booked a man on multiple counts of attempted murder after the suspect reportedly shot into an Orchid Drive home that had a number of people inside, including the suspect’s ex-girlfriend, officials said. Kevin Alexander, 37, of Lafayette, was booked into the Lafayette … Continue reading →

U.S. troops head to exercises in Eastern Europe

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Army paratroopers are arriving in Poland to begin a series of military exercises in four countries across Eastern Europe to bolster allies in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula last month. Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said Tuesday that the exercises will last about a month, and initially … Continue reading →

Job market for college grads better but still weak

FILE - In this Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, file photo, Luis Mendez, 23, left, a student at Miami Dade College, left, and Maurice Mike, 23, a student at Florida International University, wait in line at a job fair held by the Miami Marlins, at Marlins Park in Miami. The job market for new college graduates is brightening but remains weaker than before the Great Recession began. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — With college commencement ceremonies nearing, the government is offering a modest dose of good news for graduating seniors: The job market is brightening for new grads — a bit. But finding work — especially a dream job — remains tough for those just graduating. Many are settling for jobs outside their fields of study … Continue reading →

U.S. opens probe of imports of Mexican sugar

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Sugar cane is harvested from a field in Youngsville in late November of last year.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The federal Commerce Department is investigating allegations that Mexico has been dumping sugar on the U.S. market. The American Sugar Alliance and other groups asked for the investigation in March, saying imports of sugar subsidized by the Mexican government have cut the price of raw sugar in half since 2011. Alliance spokesman … Continue reading →