BC-LA-MS-Louisiana-Mississippi Digest


Associated Press

Posted on July 1, 2013 at 6:30 AM

Good morning, Louisiana and Mississippi editors.

If you have any contributions for or questions about the report, call 1-601-948-5897 or 1-800-222-0046 in Mississippi or 1-504-523-3931 or 1-800-662-7717 in Louisiana. To report technical problems: 1-800-469-1362. AP stories, along with the photos that accompany them, can also be obtained from http://www.apexchange.com. Reruns are also available from the Service Desk (800-838-4616). The news editor is Brian Schwaner. The supervisor is Michael Kunzelman in New Orleans, at 504-523-3931.




BATON ROUGE — Anyone who is declaring Gov. Bobby Jindal a "lame duck" should remember that Louisiana's governor has widespread authority outside of the legislative branch and sweeping line-item veto power. Jindal couldn't get his tax rewrite through the Legislature, but he's dismantled the state's centuries-old charity hospital system, he's keeping the state from expanding the Medicaid program as allowed under federal health care law and he's jettisoned a slew of items overwhelmingly backed by lawmakers. And even critics of the governor acknowledge it's a long-shot at best to get enough lawmakers back to the Capitol to try to undo anything Jindal's vetoed. AP News Analysis. By Melinda Deslatte.



WALKER, La. — Two sons of former Livingston Parish President Mike Grimmer have been charged with arson after they allegedly broke into a storage container in Grimmer's backyard and set fire to his wife's property. Fire Marshal Butch Browning tells The Advocate (http://bit.ly/12wEjcN ) that the men were angry at their stepmother.


GOLDEN MEADOW — An audit shows losses in Golden Meadow's sewerage system could cost residents more than $100 a year in higher bills to resolve. The audit, by the firm Bourgeois Bennett, was released this past week by the state Legislative Auditor's Office. The report showed the Lafourche Parish town has operating losses of about $85,000 in its sewerage fund. The shortfall is caused from an increase in sewer maintenance and because more residents aren't paying their bills, Mayor Joey Bouziga says.


NEW ORLEANS — Historic Fort Pike will reopen Tuesday after repairs in the wake of Hurricane Isaac. The fort, on the city's eastern edge, was built after the War of 1812 to protect New Orleans from invasion. The state historic site will operate from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. The fort is off U.S. Highway 90 at the Rigolets and had been closed due to damage from Isaac in August 2012. The fort received an estimated $660,000 in damage, including an accumulation of three to four feet of marsh grass and mud deposited inside the fort. The manager's residence was destroyed.


JENNINGS — The City Council has approved a 2 percent pay raise for most city employees and a 5 percent increase in water and sewer rates. The council, acting this past week also increased trash collection fees by 2.4 percent. The across-the-board pay raises cover 110 full-time employees and will cost the city $85,000, Mayor Terry Duhon says. Police and firefighters will also receive a 2 percent state-mandated pay increase on the anniversaries of their employment dates. The mayor and City Council members will not be getting salary increases.


BRUSLY — Fire protection services in West Baton Rouge Parish will change drastically over the next year as the parish consolidates its six fire subdistricts into a single parishwide district. The consolidation is being spearheaded by Parish President Riley "Peewee" Berthelot. Berthelot says he believes it is the only way to end a nearly 2-year impasse among officials over revising the distribution of about $2.5 million in annual revenue from the parish's fire protection sales tax. The discussions involved parish officials and the mayors of Port Allen, Addis and Brusly.


OPELOUSAS — Low test scores led to the closing of Creswell Elementary in May, but the school will reopen in August as the site of a virtual high school and a second-chance program for over-aged fifth-graders. In a move designed to prevent takeover of the school by the Recovery School District, the St. Landry Parish School Board opted to close Creswell and reassign its students to nearby Park Vista Elementary, which rated higher on state accountability standards. The Creswell site will become the Center for Academic Programs and serve students in a computer-based virtual school program. The instruction will be offered to 120 over-aged fifth-graders in St. Landry, enabling them to complete the fifth and sixth grades in one year to catch up academically with their peers.


BATON ROUGE — Every summer, I'm always glad that I planted a Mexican flame vine many years ago. It's a vine with glossy, deep green leaves and a sunny, bright-colored, orange flower that looks like a little daisy. Mine climbs a trellis that happens to be against a shed and not far from a tall water oak tree. The vine's protected situation — that's also probably more shady than the plant likes — is likely the reason it comes back year after year, not loaded with flowers, but still very welcome. It's a perennial, but is most often grown here as a summer annual, according to the LSU AgCenter. The flowers bloom through the summer and into fall, but usually don't survive the winters here. So, I'll just be grateful for my Mexican flame vine's reappearance as long as it lasts. Its flowers attract butterflies, too, notes horticulturist Dan Gill. By Ellen Couvillion, The Advocate.


BATON ROUGE — Archaeologists say they believe they have solved the mystery of the unknown brick structure discovered by a construction crew at Magnolia Mound Plantation. They say it probably was a storage building that burned down. Early this month, a construction crew building the new Turner Visitor Center found a brick foundation underground while digging to add drainage to the project. The building does not appear on any historical map of Magnolia Mound. Archaeologists with Surveys Unlimited Research Associates Inc. excavated portions of the structure and determined it most likely was a building used for storage that had burned down.



NEW ORLEANS — Healtheon Inc. of New Orleans has been awarded a $29.8 million contract by NASA to provide a high pressure industrial water line at the Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss. The Times-Picayune reports (http://bit.ly/18pbaVc) that the line will provide water for cooling and to suppress noise at the Stennis B Test Complex. The complex will be used in 2016 to test rocket engines that will be part of NASA's Space Launch System.


BATON ROUGE — Community Coffee Co. has named Scott Eckert as vice president of marketing and Charles Graffeo as vice president of supply chain. The Baton Rouge-based company also has promoted David Fahr to director of technology. Eckert has held senior marketing positions for consumer goods companies such as ConAgra Foods. He also has marketed brands such as Orville Redenbacher, Slim Jim and David's Sunflower Seeds. Graffeo joined Community in 2006 as general manager of manufacturing, was promoted in 2008 to director of supply chain and recently assumed senior responsibilities of the e-commerce sales division. Fahr has worked as materials manager, project manager, enterprise application manager and most recently as general manager of technology. He will continue to lead the company's technology team.


HARAHAN — The Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a $23.8 million contract for installation of equipment related to the Harahan pump-to-river flood control project. The work is part of the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Damage Risk Reduction Project. Army Corps officials say the work is designed to reduce the risk of damage from a storm that drops about 9 inches of rain over a 24-hour period. The contract was awarded to Conti Enterprises Inc. and calls for installing roughly 5,000 feet of 84-inch diameter pipes in the Jefferson Parish community. The work is expected to be completed in late 2016.


HOUMA — A support group for new mothers will meet Wednesday at Terrebonne General Medical Center. The group will meet at 10 a.m. in the hospital's Women's Center Multipurpose Room. Cost to attend is $10. More information about the support group is available by calling 985-858-7173 or 985-858-7380.


BATON ROUGE — The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says the inshore shrimp season will close at 6 a.m. on Thursday in the Terrebonne Basin except for portions of lower Timbalier Bay, Terrebonne Bay, Lake Pelto and Pelican Lake that directly border the Gulf of Mexico. Officials say recent data indicate increased quantity and distribution of juvenile white shrimp in the waters that will be closed. The decision to close the area was made to protect developing shrimp, providing opportunity for growth to more marketable sizes. Shrimp season is being extended in the lower coastal bays and lakes to provide shrimpers with opportunities to harvest emigrating brown shrimp.


CLINTON — The East Feliciana Parish town of Clinton will sponsor its eighth annual red, White and Blueberry Festival on Friday and Saturday. Mayor Lori Bell said the festival will be held in conjunction with the town's monthly Saturday market. The festival will kick off Friday at 6 p.m. with ceremonies at the Town Hall. Children's activities, food vendors and a fireworks display also are planned.


MORRERO — Louisiana authorities say a 16-year-old boy was shot and killed in what another man described as an accident that happened while showing off a new rifle.


NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans police say an unidentified man was shot multiple times and died and another man was hospitalized in critical condition after a shooting at an apartment complex.


LAFAYETTE — Authorities say nine firefighters were treated for skin irritation and respiratory concerns after a house fire in Lafayette on Saturday. When they arrived, heavy smoke was coming from the roof. All nine firefighters were examined for skin irritation and respiratory concerns. They were treated and released from the hospital. Fire officials are looking into what may have caused the irritation.


NATCHITOCHES — Greg Handel has been named acting director of the Mrs. H.D. Dear School of Creative and Performing Arts at Northwestern State University. His appointment is effective July 1 and requires approval of the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System. Handel replaces Bill Brent, who will become director of operations and special projects for the School of Creative and Performing Arts. Handel has been at Northwestern State for five years as an assistant professor of music education and will be an associate professor of music education this fall. He was named associate director of the School of Creative and Performing Arts in January. He holds a master's degree and doctorate from Arizona State University.


LAKE CHARLES — Ceremonies are planned Aug. 16 to formally open the Southwest Louisiana Entrepreneurial and Economic Development Center. Adrian Wallace, director of the business incubator, said construction of the 50,000-square-foot building has been completed but interior fixtures are still being installed. The facility will house the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, the McNeese State University Small Business Development Center, the Service Corps of Retired Executives and the Louisiana Procurement Technical Assistance Center. The facility is a partnership of McNeese State, the Alliance, the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury and the city of Lake Charles.


ST. FRANCISVILLE — A guided tour is planned Friday at the Rosedown Plantation State Historic Site in St. Francisville. Site manager Patricia Aleshire will lead the tour through the plantation's gardens starting at 10 a.m. Admission is $10 to tour the home and gardens, or $5 for the garden tour alone.


SORRENTO — Milton Vicknair, who was defeated in his bid for re-election to the Sorrento Town Council, has stepped down from another position with the town. Vicknair this past week resigned as the town's zoning administrative officer. The council appointed Councilman Randy Anny to replace Vicknair.


NEW ORLEANS — Former New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial is one of three new members of Xavier University's Board of Trustees. Mark Goodman, chairman/chief executive officer of Boyer's Coffee Co., and Marie McDemmond, former president of Norfolk State University, also have joined the board. Morial, mayor from 1994 to 2002, is CEO of the National Urban League. Before joining Boyer's, Goodman was CEO of the MG Capital Group. McDemmond, a 1968 Xavier graduate, was Norfolk State's president from 1997 to 2006. She also has held administrative jobs at Florida Atlantic University, Atlanta University the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Emory University.


BATON ROUGE — Construction on the Alliance Safety Council and LSU College of Engineering consortium's Ascension Parish training facility will begin in July. In November, the council and LSU announced their collaboration had been chosen by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration as one of four Training Institute Education Centers nationwide. The center will offer training on OSHA standards and related occupational safety and health issues. The 11,000-square-foot facility will be in the Edenborne development near Interstate 10. Construction is expected to be complete by mid-2014.


MANDEVILLE — City officials have launched efforts to replace about 650 water meters and 130 fire hydrants damaged by Hurricane Isaac. The City Council has authorized Mayor Donald Villere to seek bids for the meters and hydrants, which were damaged when Isaac pushed water from Lake Pontchartain into Old Mandeville. The storm struck in August 2012. The city estimates it will cost about $595,600 to replace the hydrants and $272,000 to replace the meters. The Federal emergency management Agency is expected to reimburse the city for 75 percent of the cost, Villere says.


LAFATETTE — Lafayette police say they'll close two roads Monday morning to reconstruct major accidents as part of ongoing investigations. A news release from the police department says sections of Evangeline Thruway at the intersection of Mudd Avenue will be closed for about an hour beginning Monday at 8:15 a.m.



BATON ROUGE - All of Ron Robertson's remaining chess pieces were gathered safely along the back of the board. Nicole Foster's small army was advancing. "She's making me run," Robertson said. "She's making me run." Foster could just smile and laugh. Both East Baton Rouge Parish school teachers were first-time chess players. While Foster's strategy worked, she didn't know what to do next. Chess coach Robert L. Myers, from Houston, crouched next to the board. "You've got some great stuff," he told her. "You have to find it. ... You have to see it." Chess can be an amazing teaching tool, said Jerry Nash, director of educational research and training for the U.S. Chess Federation. The game helps develop several skills that students need in the 21st century, he said. "How do I analyze this problem? How do I persist? How do I weigh alternatives?" Nash said. Nash's workshops - called "Chess, Common Core and Critical Thinking" - at the school system's Professional Development Center filled up early with 90 teachers, and July's follow-up program is almost full, he said. By Kyle Peveto, The Advocate. Photo planned.


MONROE - Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo chuckles when he thinks how things have changed since he last ran the basketball courts at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. At age 56, Mayo knows he needs to be more physically active and eat better, but often his busy schedule doesn't provide much opportunity for exercise. He's made a commitment to exercise regularly and eat healthier. He posted his intentions on Facebook late this week and encouraged citizens to walk with him on this endeavor. "As a former athlete I'm used to a healthy lifestyle and being physically fit, however, in my later years since college, things have changed with my physical makeup. That may be an understatement," Mayo said. "I've been off and on with exercise activities over the years, but it's been very difficult with my schedule to be consistent. I've decided at this state in my life I need to be more consistent and put aside some time to exercise." His wife, Angela, plans to join him on this endeavor, too. The Mayos have acquired the assistance of a personal trainer to guide them through these lifestyle changes. By Scott Rogers, The News-Star.


NATCHEZ, Miss. — Despite increased revenues since the city's second casino opened in December, a Mississippi gambling expert says it could take several years for Natchez to see substantial growth to the local casino market. Former University of Southern Mississippi professor, researcher and author Denise Runge said she would, of course, not have expected local gaming revenues to instantaneously double with the opening of a new casino. By Lindsey Shelton, The Natchez Democrat.




JACKSON — And now the waiting begins. With the July 1 effective date for Mississippi's expanded charter school law, the next step is to nominate seven members of the Charter School Authorizing Board. The governor and lieutenant governor are each supposed to name three members, one from each of the state's three Supreme Court districts. The state superintendent of education is supposed to name the seventh member. The law specifies that appointments must be made before Sept. 1. That seventh member could be Lynn House herself, the interim state superintendent. House confirmed to The Associated Press that she's willing to serve if the state Board of Education agrees. She said the board could give her the nod at its regular July meeting. "That's got to be the board's decision, but I'd be happy to serve on the charter school board," House said. "We're not going to drag our feet." AP News Analysis. By Jeff Amy.



JACKSON — Chokwe Lumumba will be sworn in Monday as the mayor of Jackson, Mississippi's capital and the largest city in the state. Lumumba is an attorney and has served the past four years on the Jackson City Council.


GULFPORT — A union representative says the production of "Artists Die Best in Black" will replace the crew filming in south Mississippi because they may seek union representation. The Sun Herald (http://bit.ly/12wJMAk) reports that shooting, which began in mid-June, is set to run about five weeks.


OXFORD — Oxford High School will hold it 2014 graduation on a Thursday. It's the first time school officials can recall when graduation ceremonies will not be held on a weekend. Ole Miss requested that no Saturday graduations be set since this will be Memorial Day 2014 weekend, and a holiday for university employees.


VICKSBURG — Franklin O. Jackson will stand trial in August for allegedly passing bad checks. The trial comes 10 years after he failed to show up in court for arraignment on the charges. Circuit Judge M. James Chaney has set trial of Aug. 26 for the 56-year-old Jackson.



GULFPORT — Two men who were arrested after authorities found a bomb in a car at a state prison in Leakesville are scheduled for arraignment Tuesday. Federal court papers show John Harberson, of Carriere, and Scott Jenkins Waits, of McHenry, were arrested after officers at the South Mississippi Correctional Institution found a pipe bomb in a vehicle June 1.


NEW ORLEANS — Healtheon Inc. of New Orleans has been awarded a $29.8 million contract by NASA to provide a high pressure industrial water line at the Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss. The Times-Picayune reports (http://bit.ly/18pbaVc) that the line will provide water for cooling and to suppress noise at the Stennis B Test Complex. The complex will be used in 2016 to test rocket engines that will be part of NASA's Space Launch System.


GREENWOOD — Greenwood schools Superintendent Montrell Greene has declined $50,000 in to facilitate a national "Excellence for All" initiative. It was money awarded to the district last year. The program aims to give students more than one path to graduation, and in some cases it allows them to begin college-level courses while in high school. Greenwood was one of five Mississippi schools to get the money.


NEW ALBANY — Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union County will break ground Aug. 16 on a $12 million expansion of its emergency department. The 23,000-square-foot project includes additional parking spaces to reclaim those lost to the expansion. The number of treatment rooms will increase from 7 to 22. The project is to be completed in the summer of 2014.


TUPELO — The Tupelo Furniture Market is receiving $250,000 from the state to market the biannual show. The 2013 Legislature approved the funding. The money will come from the Forest and Wildlife Research Center at the state College Board. The market has not gotten any state money for the past two years.


GULFPORT — Gulfport's first brewery is open for business. WLOX-TV reports (http://bit.ly/12wKXQm) the beer was flowing Saturday for the grand opening of Mississippi Brewing Company. Co-owner Samson Vasquez says the idea to open a brewery "just hit us" one night. Now, Vasquez says a dream is coming to fruition.


LEAKESVILLE — Officials in Greene County are searching for 6-year-old twin boys who fell into Chickasawhay River on Saturday. George County Public Information Officer Shonna Pierce tells The Sun Herald (http://bit.ly/12wA68S ) that officials believe the boys fell into the river after a sandbar collapsed.


TUPELO — A federal judge says a Lee County Sheriff's Office employee fired after he was quoted in a newspaper article may legally pursue whether his speech was constitutionally protected. The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal says (http://bit.ly/12wxZBU ) Rodricus Carltez Hurst's lawsuit was filed in 2013.


PICAYUNE — Picayune School District officials say new federal food nutrition guidelines will be implemented in all district schools this year. The Picayune Item (http://bit.ly/12wzhNs— reports that Picayune Junior High School and West Side Elementary School received a grant to buy to new oven steamers. Debra Byrd, food service director for Picayune School District, says the $18,000 Nutrition Integrity grant funding the purchase of the new ovens comes from the Mississippi Department of Education Office of Child Nutrition.


LIBERTY — Amite County supervisors expect to spend more than $206,000 to replace the county's 911 system equipment. The county replaces the emergency equipment every five years. Emergency management coordinator Sam Walsh says the new system will keep recordings of emergency calls on a hard drive. The current system uses cassette tapes and cost more than $300,000 when purchased five years ago. The 911 system purchase, authorized by supervisors this past week, also includes a new phone network for the county law enforcement complex.


GREENVILLE — The Greenville school system will spend $774,000 for repairs at two storm-damaged local schools. The school board awarded the contract this week to Roy Collins Construction Co. of Cleveland, Miss. Straight-line winds tore through the Greenville area last October.



HATTIESBURG — For as long as many can remember, the Petal and Hattiesburg school districts have provided free meals during the summers for children 18 years and younger, and this summer is no exception. The districts are just a few of the more than 150 feeding sites across the state offering free breakfast and lunch to children up to 18 during the summer. By Carly Tynes, Hattiesburg American. With member photo.


NATCHEZ — Despite increased revenues since the city's second casino opened in December, a Mississippi gambling expert says it could take several years for Natchez to see substantial growth to the local casino market. Former University of Southern Mississippi professor, researcher and author Denise Runge said she would, of course, not have expected local gaming revenues to instantaneously double with the opening of a new casino. By Lindsey Shelton, The Natchez Democrat.



GULFPORT — The Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo returns to Gulfport this week The Sun Herald reports (http://bit.ly/12wBd8F ) the 65th annual rodeo takes place Thursday through Sunday. And after moving around to several venues the past few years, the rodeo is back in Gulfport, where it had been prior to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.