Louisiana at 7:20 p.m. on Tuesday.
Good evening, Louisiana editors.
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NEW ORLEANS — Despite threatening skies, the Mardi Gras party carried on as thousands of costumed revelers cheered glitzy floats with make-believe monarchs in an all-out bash before Lent. In the French Quarter, as usual, Fat Tuesday played out with all its flesh and raunchiness. Crowds were a little smaller than recent years, perhaps influenced by the forecast of rain. Still, parades went off as scheduled even as a fog settled over the riverfront and downtown areas. By Stacey Plaisance and Michael Kunzelman.
AP Photos LAGH103-0212131047, LAGH101-0212131058, LAGH102-0212131042, LAGH105-0212131108, LAGH104-0212131033, LAGH102-0211131833, LAGH104-0211131905.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The original Emancipation Proclamation, a document that changed the lives of countless African-Americans during the Civil War, is on display in Nashville as the fragile historical document makes its only stop in the Southeast on a 150th anniversary tour. The exhibit opened Tuesday — fittingly on the anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's birthday — at the Tennessee State Museum and runs through Monday. It's a rare visit outside the nation's capital for the original document Lincoln signed in 1863 declaring "forever free" all slaves held in Confederate states rebelling against the Union. By Kristin M. Hall.
AP Photos TNMH107-0211131232, TNMH104-0211131222, TNMH103-0211131200, TNMH102-0211131218, TNMH101-0211131219.
BATON ROUGE — Authorities say one prison official has been fired and another has resigned in lieu of termination in the wake of a convicted killer escaping last month from the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women in St. Gabriel. Angela Whittaker, assistant to the secretary of the state Department of Public Safety and Corrections, said officials determined that a "supervision issue" contributed to the Jan. 1 escape of Keana Barnes. Barnes, 33, had been serving a 25-year manslaughter sentence for killing two men. Whittaker was not authorized Monday to release the names of the officers held responsible, but said one was a sergeant and the other a cadet.
BATON ROUGE — A former LSU coastal researcher and the university have reached an out-of-court settlement of the man's claim that his LSU career was destroyed over his criticisms of federal engineers after New Orleans' levees failed during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. U.S. District Judge James J. Brady signed an order Monday that conditionally dismisses the three-year-old litigation involving Ivor van Heerden, the LSU Board of Supervisors and David Constant, former interim dean of LSU's College of Engineering. Constant informed van Heerden in 2009 that his employment contract would not be renewed. The court case had been scheduled for a jury trial Feb. 19. No details of the settlement agreement were contained in the court record.
FINANCIAL OFFICER FIRED
PORT ALLEN — Port Allen Mayor Demetric Slaughter has fired Chief Financial Officer Audrey McCain in response to recent audit findings that cited weaknesses in the city's accounting practices. The mayor sent the council a letter Monday in which she announced McCain's firing. Slaughter said in the letter that she also was stripping McCain of her duties as the city's municipal clerk, another title held by the city's chief financial officer. But Councilman Garry Hubble said that the mayor's actions are a direct violation of the city's ordinances, which he said stipulates personnel decisions involving the city's department heads be ratified by the City Council. The mayor would not comment on whether she would hire a new chief financial officer.
PENSION PLAN DISPUTE
BATON ROUGE — The Jindal administration hopes to fix flaws in the new "cash balance" pension plan, while two major retirement systems are trying to get a year's delay in its planned July 1 implementation. Although Gov. Bobby Jindal opposes any delay, the Louisiana State Employees Retirement System, and the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana have served legal notice that they will ask the Legislature to approve a resolution suspending the law. Jindal cannot veto such resolutions. A state district court judge last month ruled that the 401(k)-type plan, known as cash balance, did not receive the required votes for passage. Administration lawyers have filed for a suspensive appeal in 19th Judicial District Court, while the issue goes to the Louisiana Supreme Court where it will be decided.
DESTROYER ON THE MOVE
WESTLAKE — The executive director of the museum ship USS Orleck says he and casino representatives are working on a plan to dock the destroyer next to the Isle of Capri Casino in Westlake. Ron Williams said the plan is to sublease land between the casino hotel and the Interstate 10 bridge from the casino. Once the lease is signed, Orleck officials will begin raising money to pay for dockside facilities. Mark Boudreaux, president and CEO of the Orleck Naval Museum, says those could cost $300,000 to $500,000. Williams says the new location will be more visible and, he hopes, will attract more visitors. He says they're working on an arrangement with the Naval Reserve Center in Shreveport to bring reservists in monthly to work on the ship.
BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. — NASA kicks off a new round of testing on the J-2X rocket engine this month at the Stennis Space Center in Hancock County. NASA says in a news release that engineers will conduct a series of tests on the second J-2X development engine, designated number 10002, on the A-2 Test Stand at Stennis. Once the series is completed, the engine will undergo a series of gimbal, or pivot, tests for the first time. The J-2X is being developed by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. It is the first liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen rocket engine rated to carry humans into space to be developed in 40 years. The J-2X will provide upper-stage power for NASA's Space Launch System, a new heavy-lift vehicle capable of missions beyond low-Earth orbit.
LOUISIANA IN BRIEF
Editors: The following brief items moved Tuesday on AP's Louisiana wire and may be of interest for your Wednesday editions.
RAYVILLE OFFICIAL INDICTED
RAYVILLE — Rayville's Town Council has voted to fire Public Works Director Lorenzo Brown following his indictment on 24 counts of malfeasance. Council members voted 5-0 Monday night to approve Mayor Harry Lewis' termination recommendation. Lewis said Brown had been suspended without pay since his indictment on Jan. 23, but the termination required council action. Brown's arraignment has been set for April 3.
MONROE FIRE CHIEF RETIRES
MONROE — Monroe Fire Chief Jimmie Bryant will retire March 1 to become the city's chief operating officer. Mayor Jamie Mayo made the announcement Tuesday. Bryant has served as chief for almost 15 years and has 32 years of service in firefighting and related positions.
CHURCH TREASURER ARRESTED
SHREVEPORT — Caddo Parish deputies say the former treasurer at a Rodessa church has been arrested in connection with the theft of $31,746 from the church building fund. Sheriff Steve Prator said Demario Thomas, 31, of Rodessa, turned himself in to the Caddo Sheriff's Office after Detective Doug Smith obtained a warrant for his arrest on a forgery charge. Thomas was booked into the Caddo Correctional Center on Monday and then released on bond.
STAGED HOME INVASION
NATCHITOCHES — Authorities say a 64-year-old Dallas man is accused of staging a home invasion at his parents' Natchitoches home to cover his theft of coins and cash from a safe at the house. Natchitoches Parish sheriff's deputies say Burton Paul Dupuy III was arrested Monday and booked with felony theft, exploitation of the infirmed and criminal mischief by filing a false police report.
SOUTHERN U RAPE
BATON ROUGE — Southern University police have arrested an 18-year-old student accused of raping a female student on Sept. 20 in her campus dormitory room. Jeremy Williams of Baton Rouge was booked Monday into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on one count of forcible rape.
MONROE — The 2012 overall crime rate for the city of Monroe decreased just over 5 percent compared to the previous year. That's according to Monroe Police Chief Quentin Holmes, who released Monroe's statistics Monday. During 2012, Monroe police recorded a total of 13,254 crimes. The largest increase in crime was robberies. There were 126 robberies in 2011 and 140 in 2012. The largest reduction was burglaries. There were 1,473 burglaries in 2011 and 1,090 in 2012.
GRETNA SIGN ORDINANCE
GRETNA — Gretna has won recognition for its overhaul of the city's sign ordinance. The Louisiana Chapter of the American Planning Association has given the city the Planning Excellence Award for Implementation. Planner Lydia Jemison of Jemison and Partners is expected to make a presentation at Wednesday's Gretna City Council meeting.
HOMER — The Homer Board of Selectmen has voted unanimously during a special meeting to disband the police department effective March 1. In the discussion leading up to Monday's vote, Mayor Alecia N. Smith said the selectmen discussed "numerous reasons for their decision."
HORSE FARM PARK
LAFAYETTE — Residents will soon be able to speak up on the future of the "Horse Farm" after years of groundwork for a plan to transform the property into a public park. The Lafayette City-Parish Council last year approved the purchase of the vacant 100-acre tract to create a new central park.
ANGOLA GUARD ATTACKED
ANGOLA — Authorities say an inmate at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola allegedly attacked a female correctional officer with a metal serving pan. The state Department of Corrections said Warner Wiley hit the officer in the face and head with the metal pan around 5 p.m. Monday.
FAMILY DRUG BUSINESS
GALVEZ — Ascension Parish authorities have arrested a father and son believed to be distributing marijuana from their Galvez home. Chief Deputy Tony Bacala said Kevin Ficklin, 45, and Koby Ficklin, 20, were arrested following a search of their home.
WORK RELEASE ESCAPEE
CLINTON — East Feliciana Parish sheriff's deputies are looking for a state prisoner who left his work-release job at a sawmill near Amite. Chief Deputy Cliff Hurst said Glen R. Carroll III, 21, formerly of Broussard, was serving a two-year sentence for aggravated second-degree battery and was eligible for a work-release program when he arrived at the East Feliciana Parish Jail several weeks ago.
WESTERN UNION SCAM
BOSSIER CITY — Bossier City Police say scam artists have recently hit three businesses that serve as locations for Western Union, the corporation that provides money transfer services. The scam involves someone telephoning the businesses saying that they are with Western Union and that they need to run a test transaction. The "test" turns out to be an actual transfer of money.
MARRERO — The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office is investigating a shooting that left a 58-year-old man dead in front of a Marrero home. Sheriff Newell Normand says the victim was identified as Emeal Washington. Normand says investigators found 81 spent shell casings at the scene from various caliber of weapons.
EASY 5 WINNER
BATON ROUGE — A Lake Providence man is the latest announced winner of Louisiana's Easy 5 jackpot. The Louisiana Lottery Corporation says 42-year-old Paul Tatum won the $70,000 Easy 5 drawing on Feb. 6.
VALENTINE'S DAY CANDY
BATON ROUGE — The day before Valentine's Day, Feb. 13, is by far Toni Hayes' busiest of the year. Her shop, Chocollage, in Baton Rouge will go through hundreds of dollars in receipts on that day as Valentines snap up decadent gifts for their loved ones, including chocolate, candies and stuffed animals. Her shop offers enormous variety for chocolate- and candy-lovers of all stripes, including high-end truffles in combinations like peanut butter cayenne and retro candies like Necco wafers and candy necklaces. By Beth Colvin, The Advocate.
BUSINESS IN BRIEF
DRY PRONG — A new casino joins Louisiana's market Wednesday when the Jena Choctaw Pines Casino opens in central Louisiana. The 46,000-square-foot casino's doors will open following a ribbon-cutting ceremony set for 10 a.m. The Jena Band of Choctaw Indians' Pines Casino will be the third Native American-owned casino in Central Louisiana.
BATON ROUGE — LSU's bullpen roles are being assigned, but it's a developing situation as the Tigers prepare to open the season against Maryland on Friday night in Alex Box Stadium. Coach Paul Mainieri appointed senior left-hander Chris Cotton as the closest thing to a designated closer Monday, but protecting ninth-inning leads will be a shared responsibility. If Cotton, who's also scheduled to be the Sunday starter, closes Friday, then junior right-hander Kurt McCune will be next in line if a closer is needed Saturday. Senior left-hander Brent Bonvillain will have a hybrid role similar to Cotton's, senior right-hander Joey Bourgeois will be a key setup man, and junior right-hander Nick Rumbelow will figure into the equation in a week or two when he returns from a strained oblique muscle. That takes care of the primary late-inning roles, at least early on. By Les East, The Advocate.
SPORTS IN BRIEF
BATON ROUGE — The Louisiana Sports Writers Association as announced three choices for this week's state basketball players of the week. There was a tie for the men's winner with Brandon Fortenberry of Southeastern Louisiana and Ricky Tarrant of Tulane sharing the honor, while Kelia Shelton of Louisiana Tech took the women's top vote.