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    Mayor Broome to citizens: ‘I stand against hatred, division, and words that divide’

    On May 19, 2017, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome released this letter to residents of East Baton Rouge Parish after seeing racist and bigoted statements posted online.

    At my inauguration in January, I spoke about the fabric of our community and how it could be torn by the challenges of the day. I said that many would look at these challenges and choose to define us by the different and diverse pieces that exist. I stood before this city excited by the opportunity to help lead the unification of our different and disparate pieces of cloth into a wonderful, colorful, distinctive and inclusive quilt that will be the “new Baton Rouge.” I spoke about how we could utilize the common and strong threads of respect, opportunity, fairness, inclusion, equity, and optimism to weave an amazing tapestry of growth and progress that touches every area of this parish and beyond. I had much hope then and I have much hope now.

    I have a profound love for this city, parish and ALL residents. My goal as mayor-president is to unite people around our collective goals of progress and equity. While freedom of speech is one of the pillars that makes this country so beautiful, irresponsibility of such can be used as a tool to separate us as community. As your mayor-president, I stand against hatred, division, and words and actions that only further divide our community. I do not endorse or support the opinions of any individual or media outlet that would attempt to take us down a path of strife and contentiousness. I write to you today to say that this division cannot and will not be the demise of Baton Rouge.

    While this administration has been working diligently to address the priorities that you as citizens have established for Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish, we still have much work to do. This includes but is not limited to: ensuring that all of our children, regardless of their addresses, receive an optimum education; our police are equipped and trained properly not only to be aligned with 21st century best practices, but to also be aligned with the community they serve; we are adequately prepared for natural disasters and recovery; and that all neighborhoods have the tools necessary to make them the safe, progressive places that residents deserve; and that economic growth touches all parts of our city. Lastly, I will continue to work to make peace and justice the standard for our community — not the exception.
    We can accomplish these goals and more if we work together. That is when we are our strongest.

    In closing, I want to be very clear: I reject any efforts intended to create division and strife in our community. The statements that I made during my campaign for your mayor-president and subsequent inaugural address were not just idle words. I meant every word with every fiber of my being when I spoke of the “new Baton Rouge.” Our future is a shared one. We are inextricably bound together in our search for
    a place that we can be proud to call home. And I, for one, refuse to be deterred in our journey.

    Sincerely,
    Sharon Weston Broome

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    Medicare can help patients manage chronic illnesses

    Caring for yourself when you have a chronic illness like diabetes or heart disease is hard work. When you have more than one such illness, it can sometimes seem overwhelming.

    Seventy percent of Louisiana residents with Medicare have at least two chronic conditions. They often must juggle visits to several doctors, as well as the separate trips for follow-up tests. Then they must make sure they’re taking the right medications at the right times.

    Managing a number of chronic illnesses all at once can quickly become a full-time job. Unless it’s done right, you can compromise your quality of life and possibly increase your risk of a long-term disability or an earlier-than-expected death.

    That’s why Medicare is encouraging your health care providers to work together more closely to coordinate the treatment of your chronic conditions, so that you can spend less time sitting in medical offices and more time doing whatever you enjoy.

    To keep you healthy, Medicare has expanded a benefit called chronic care management. It provides higher payments to doctors and other providers to help you live with chronic disease.

    Through this benefit, your health care practitioner will assist you in keeping track of your medical history, your medications and all of the other health care providers you see. You’ll receive a comprehensive care plan that outlines your treatments and goals.

    You’ll also have 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week access to health care professionals for urgent needs from the comfort of your home. Does that sound like something that might interest you?

    To qualify for chronic care management services, you must be enrolled in Medicare’s traditional fee-for-service program, or you must be in the Medicaid program and receiving Medicare benefits. You also must have at least two chronic illnesses that pose a serious threat.

    The list of eligible diseases includes asthma, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression, hepatitis, heart failure, high blood pressure, HIV/AIDS, osteoporosis, schizophrenia and stroke, among others.

    If you think you might benefit, ask your doctor to explain the various services you’d receive, such as:

    • At least 20 minutes a month of chronic care management services
    • Personalized assistance from a dedicated health care professional who will work with you to create your care plan
    • Coordination of care between your pharmacy, specialists, testing centers, hospitals and more
    • Phone check-ins between visits to keep you on track
    • 24/7 emergency access to a health care professional
    • Expert assistance with setting and meeting your health goals

    Your out-of-pocket cost for chronic care management will be the same as your share for other Medicare Part B services, so you may have a deductible or co-payment. But if you have Medigap or retiree supplemental health insurance, you may not have to pay those out-of-pocket expenses.

    Also, chronic care management can help you avoid the need for more costly services. By acting now and managing your health, you may be able to head off hospitalization and more serious treatment in the future.

    Chronic care management means having a continuous relationship with a dedicated health care professional who knows you and your history, provides personal attention and helps you make the best choices for your health. For more about the program, call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227 or visit http://go.cms.gov/ccm.

    Navigating your way through the health care system can often be bewildering and time-consuming. Medicare’s chronic care benefit gives you and your loved ones the assistance you need to manage your medical conditions so that you can focus on the things you love.

    If that sounds right for you, talk with your doctor or nurse about the program.

    By Bob Moos
    Southwest public affairs officer for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

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    Losing healthcare access, Medicaid too risky for Louisiana

    There are very few things, if any, more important in life than our health. As such, it’s important that we as Louisiana residents are mindful of the gains we’ve made through the Affordable Care Act as well as through Medicaid expansion here. For the first time ever, insurance companies are mandated to cover preventative care services and are also prohibited from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

    As the first state in the Deep South to expand Medicaid, Louisiana has positioned itself to be at the cutting edge of healthcare reform. With more than 420,000 individuals who now have health coverage under Medicaid expansion, Louisiana residents are receiving life-saving early detection because of an increase in health screenings and treatment of health conditions including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Sadly, however, many of the gains that have been made over the last few years are on the verge of being lost.

    On May 3, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) signaling the first victory toward President Donald Trump’s repeal and replace agenda. Though this reform impacts the entire nation, it poses significant concerns for poor states like Louisiana which, prior to Governor John Bel Edwards’ decision to expand Medicaid, had one of the highest uninsured rates in the country. A 2017 survey conducted by LSU’s School of Mass Communication noted that, “About three-fourths of Louisiana residents approve of the state’s decision to expand its Medicaid program last year under the auspices of the federal ACA. [However], the public remains deeply divided over the ACA itself, but opinion is shifting in a more favorable direction.” That being considered, it’s highly likely that many Louisiana residents, even those in favor of passing Trump’s AHCA, will be disgruntled to discover its potentially negative impact on Medicaid funding in Louisiana. If the Senate successfully passes the AHCA, those with pre-existing conditions could be forced out of the insurance marketplace into a “high risk” pool. There could be a reduction in the benefits now offered that cover preventative care services. This could have a major impact on the health of Louisiana residents.

    As of May 8, more than 6,400 Louisiana women were screened for breast cancer; 103 were diagnosed with cancer. Additionally, 8,823 Louisiana residents were screened for colon cancer. Of those individuals 2,593 of them successfully averted colon cancer by having polyps removed, and 82 individuals were diagnosed. These statistics make it clear that the issue of protecting the ACA and Medicaid expansion is about saving lives. In order to ensure that our state continues to move forward in providing access to healthcare for all of its residents, we must take action now prior to the U.S. Senate vote.

    Join other advocates and:

    • Stand together for health at the State Capitol. The “Health Day at the Capitol” is May 24 at 9am, hosted by the Louisiana Center for Health Equity in conjunction with the Campaign for Healthcare for Everyone Louisiana and a number of other community organizations. The event will feature a press conference on the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol, followed by a display of resources in the Capitol Rotunda until noon. This is an opportunity to stand together in support of health care, showcase your organization and services, network with others, share your concerns, attend committee meetings and connect with legislators. (www.facebook.com/LACenterHealthEquity/).
    • Contact your U.S. Senator now. The Senate is taking up the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Contact your U.S. Senator now. Senator Bill Cassidy and Senator John Kennedy can be reached at (202) 224-3121. Select option “1”.
    • Subscribe to Louisiana Center for Health Equity newsletter. Stay informed about healthcare advocacy efforts and the work of LCHE partners. Go to http://www.healthcareeveryone.org/ and subscribe. The Louisiana Center for Health Equity is a nonpartisan non profit IRS tax exempt public charity 501(c)(3) organization. LCHE works to address the increasing disparities in health and healthcare across Louisiana. LCHE represents the interest of health equity by promoting the elimination of health disparities caused by poverty, lack of access to quality healthcare and unhealthy environmental conditions with a focus on health and wellness.

    By Alma C. Stewart, R.N., M.S
    Founder and President, Louisiana Center for Health Equity
    Convener, Campaign for Healthcare for Everyone – Louisiana
    Host, “Today’s Health Topics,” a weekly radio show on WTQT 106.1 FM.

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    Poetry camp offers creative outlet for teen summer enrichment

    Literary arts nonprofit, Forward Arts, is gearing up for Slam Camp – a three-week specialized summer experience for youth, ages 13-19, interested in learning elements of writing and performing poetry. The camp, which will begin on June 12 on the campus of Louisiana State University, offers participants instruction from world-class practitioners of the art form including Forward Arts’ staff members who have excelled at the highest levels of performance poetry.

     “One of the many benefits to participating in Slam Camp is the mastery of fearlessness,” said Chancelier Skidmore, Forward Arts’ Executive Director and former world poetry slam champion. “Public speaking is scary, but when given the tools to write compelling texts and to deliver those texts with ferocity and charisma, it opens up an entire realm of goals that seemed improbable before.”

    A typical day at Slam Camp includes attendees participating in community building exercises, writing workshops, eating lunch at LSU’s student union, group dialogues, reading circles and performance activities. Slam Camp also features special guest artists visiting once a week to do lecture demonstrations. Of past guest lecturers are trumpeter John Gray and former Louisiana Poet-Laureate Ava Haymon.

    Claudia Dixon, a mother of three past camp participants said she witnessed an immediate growth within her otherwise introverted sons.

    “As a returning parent to slam camp, I cannot explain how important it is to allow my children the ability to express themselves using a variety of methods, including verbal art.” Dixon said. “My sons have not only impressed me with their spoken word skills, they are now open to discussing social, political and gender issues that were never of importance to them prior to Slam Camp – my introverts have been converted.”

    More than exploring poetry and personal growth, Slam Camp offers participants a sense of community with likeminded youth.

    “I believe that young people participating in Slam Camp creates a more equitable opportunity for community storytelling,” said Desireé Dallagiacomo, Forward Arts program director and multi-time international slam finalist and viral sensation. “Because we have young folks from all walks of life, they hear stories and narratives from others that they wouldn’t encounter in their normal circles. This creates empathy and understanding, and we need that now more than ever.”

    As a staple of Slam Camp, norms of interaction are established on the first day to create a safe space for open expression. Participants are encouraged to write and dialogue in a manner that is honest and with respect to their fellow campers.

    Registration is now open. Slam Camp will take place June 12 to June 30, Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. A closing showcase of work participants prepared throughout the camp will be held on Friday, June 30.

    The cost of the program is $150 for an individual camp participant. For families registering more than one youth, the cost is $100 per additional participant. Scholarships opportunities are available and determined on a case by case assessment of need. Registration and payment information available at forwardarts.org

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    Louisiana genealogist finds Black boys at Florida reform school were modern day slaves

    Antoinette Harrell is a genealogist, activist, and peonage detective in Harvey, Louisiana, who spent decades tracking down slavery in the deep south. The peonage research of Harrell led her to investigate peonage at the Arthur G. Dozier Reform School in Marianna, Florida – also called the Florida Industrial School for Boys. Her research led her to dig deep into Dozier files at the Tallahassee State Archives in the sunshine state of Florida in search of signs of peonage practices on the campus. The school opened its doors in 1900 and closed the doors in 2011 after operating for 111 years. More than 500 former students have alleged they were brutally beaten, sexually abused, as well as mentally abused by Dozier’s staff. Some even alleged that they were used as modern day slaves, working to grow crops, raise livestock and cut timber.

    Harrell focused her research on child labor and wanted to follow the money trails. Boys as young as seven years old worked at Dozier’s child labor camp. They grew everything from sweet potatoes, butter beans, string beans, turnips, okra and other agricultural produce. They raised and slaughtered livestock for sale. Each division made its own money and was headed by school staff. What happened to the money? Who was buying the produce? A general farm produce report on October 1958 from the poultry, dairy, garden and swine division documented the money that was made from each division. A total of $10,980.36 was made that quarter. The reports were made quarterly each year.

    A sale report of proceeds items for the period ending March 31, 1966 showed that for that year, Dozier made $118,160 in swine and $156,108 in beef sales. Each item of produce and livestock was itemized. Harrell interviewed Johnny Lee Gaddy who was 11-years old in 1957 when he was sent to Arthur G. Dozier Reform School for skipping school because he had a speech impediment and was tired of the other students in his class teasing him. He was picked up by a police officer and placed in a jail cell for one night. The next morning Gaddy was sent directly to Dozier without appearing before a juvenile court.

    Gaddy informed Harrell of the hard work he did at Dozier. He said he cut down timber in the swamps; he worked in the fields planting and harvesting the produce. Harrell asked Gaddy if he knew where the produce was going? “I saw the trucks coming and going,” said Gaddy. “But I couldn’t tell you where they were taking the produce or meat. You better not asked any questions. If you want to live and didn’t want to get a bad beating for questioning the overseers, you better keep your mouth shut.”

    The campus was segregated up until the late 60′s.

    Over the years, Harrell has helped the African-American male victims to organize a group called “Black Boys at Dozier” and she helped them to bring their plight of abuse and modern day slavery to the eyes of the public. She also helped them gain national and international attention for their stories. She even took the men back to the Dozier campus for a press conference. It was the first time that the men set foot back on the campus in over 50 years.

    Harrell is always on the hunt for new stories of slavery and peonage that have been swept under the rug in America. She has spent hundreds of hours researching private collections and public documents from the National Archives in Washington, D.C. on peonage. She had climbed in dark and dusty courthouse attics to search for any evidence that pointed to peonage practices. Sometimes driving late night hours on back dusty roads that seem never ending, looking for modern day plantations, and in search of people live in peonage.

    A resolution acknowledged that treatment of boys sent to Dozier and Okeechobee was cruel, unjust and “a violation of fundamental human decency.” Within the first 13 years of Dozier School’s operation, six states led investigations were conducted in response to reports of children being chained to walls in iron, severely beaten, and used for child labor.

    Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) carried the Senate resolution, apologizing to the men who say they endured physical, sexual, and emotional abuse at Dozier Reform School and Okeechobee in the state of Florida. Senate Resolution 1440 recognized the widespread abuse. “The bill expressed regret for this shameful part of our history, sincerely apologizes on behalf of the legislature, and declares a commitment to make sure that these atrocities and tragedies never occur again.”

    By

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    Young Investors plan for future financial growth with local bank

    Fourth grade students at Glen Oaks Park Elementary School and their parents will soon learn the value of using even small savings to invest in tomorrow’s goals. These 66 Baton Rouge students are the in the inaugural class of Young Investors Children Savings Account Pilot Project class of LABEST.

    “As I crossed the threshold, I overheard a suited man talking to some students clad in their collared uniform shirts and holding brightly colored plastic piggy banks. He said, ‘Feed the pig and we’ll put interest on that…free money! Now, that’s what I’m talking about!’,” said Carmen Green, a policy fellow with the Louisiana Budget Project.

    The Children Savings Account is an initiative of The Middleburg Institute in collaboration with LABEST, a statewide coalition of organizations seeking to influence public polices and improve the lives of low wealth communities over a lifetime. TMI established the Young Investors elementary school savings project with support and research provided by Howard University Center on Race & Wealth, Washington University in St Louis, CFED and the Ford Foundation Building Economic Security over a Lifetime Initiative (BESOL). The Project teaches students the importance of savings and how to develop habits of making money, saving money, and spending wisely.

    Young Investors will raise money to deposit into the accounts. In addition to the personal deposits that students and their parents can make, the Young Investors will try their hand at entrepreneurship. They will engage in monthly fundraising activities for regular deposits so they can witness their accounts grow.

    The Young Investor’s program is partnering with Rhonda Jefferson and Lorraine Oubre, owners of Grandma Tootsie’s Creole Pralines. They plan to make and assist in selling pralines to raise money. In house, Young Investors may be “hired” as tellers in the school bank, and oversee daily accounting.

    The program features financial literacy coaches, professionals, and advisors including those from Edward Jones, Junior Achievement, and local banks who are available to students and parents during monthly learning opportunities.

    Alarian Brown, 10, already has ideas on money management. “With all the money I get, I want to save more,” she said. “I’ll keep it in the bank and when it comes to stuff I need, I’ll get it out.”

    Alarian, who has plans to be an orthodontist, is looking forward to the fundraising aspects of the program, including selling lemonade and pralines.

    That “free money” did not grow on some special cash tree. Financial advocacy group LABEST, The Middleburg Institute, and Gulf Coast Bank partnered to set the students up with a real savings account; each with $40 seed money. State Rep. Rick Edmonds ‘pledged a donation to the Young Investors program increasing the seed money for each enrolled student.

    As a member of the legislative education committee, Edmonds is well aware of the disinvestment in education and equality in the state and took his commitment to another level, said James. He plans to bring the students to the capital for a Young Investors Day this spring. This will give them exposure to state government.

    “As children and parents learn more about money management, it is our hope that this will influence change in behaviors as it relates to investing,” said Joyce James, LABEST state director. “Families may create workable budgets and start an emergency fund. We are able to say we changed behavior and increased the financial future for our children.”

    Green explained that these students will be able to grow into young adulthood with a little investment which they can use in high school or college for the ever-increasing tuition and dissipating scholarship opportunities. “Students will start to make the connection between production, cash and government, through exposure to entrepreneurs and local representatives,” she said.

    “I cannot determine the long-term effect on the city of Baton Rouge or on the lives of the students, but I see the potential. It feels like the Black community is brushing off the dust and moving forward,” Green said.

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    COMMUNITY EVENT: Ponchatoula Samaritans to meet May 11

    Ready to aid community leaders, the Ponchatoula Samaritans have scheduled a May 11 meeting at the St. Joseph Ministries. The public is invited.

    Spearheaded by Nancy Bourgeois, the group helps churches, organizations, city and parish government, and interested residents stay informed about what is being done in the Ponchatoula area to meet the everyday needs of its citizens, especially in times of disaster.

    Organizers said this effort prevents duplication of services, and the information gleaned is shared among the groups, further aiding in the process of lending a hand-up to those in need.

    St. Joseph Ministries is located on the corner of West Pine and North Eighth. The lunch meetings are usually potluck. RSVP to Bourgeois at 985-507-1797.

    Submitted News by Kathryn J. Martin

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    50 Shades of Pink comes to Downtown Baton Rouge

    Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, Nu Gamma Omega Chapter hosted 50 Shades of Pink: A Girls’ Night Out on Friday, April 28, 2017, at 6p.m. at the La State Capitol Visitor Center in downtown Baton Rouge. The event was facilitated by the arts committee of the chapter, and included: wine pairings, makeovers, medical spa consulting, shopping, author expos, fashion model participation, food,and music. All the proceeds of the event will directly benefit sewing camps for young girls in the Baton Rouge community.

    Submitted by Morgan E. Etienne, MPA

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    Responsibility rests with Cassidy, Kennedy to stop health care bill

    “Today’s vote is deeply troubling news for hundreds of thousands of Louisiana families who struggle to afford health coverage or who suffer from pre-existing medical conditions. Congress rushed its vote on the American Health Care Act without getting an independent analysis of its impact from the Congressional Budget Office. That means we have no idea how much worse the bill has gotten, or how many people would lose coverage,” wrote Louisiana Budget Project director Jan Moller on the passage of the American Health Care Act.

    He added:

    What we do know is this: At a minimum, the bill would strip coverage from 24 million Americans - including 466,500 in Louisiana - over a decade. It would decimate the Medicaid program by cutting $800 billion, and increase pressure on the state budget to make up the lost revenue. It would strip away legal protections for people who suffer from pre-existing medical conditions such as cancer or diabetes, resulting in premium hikes that would make coverage unaffordable for those who need it most.

    The Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but it has been a godsend for Louisiana patients and the state’s economy. It has pumped billions of dollars into Louisiana and brought the state’s uninsured rate to a record low.

    It’s critical to remember that the AHCA is not yet law. The responsibility now rests with Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy to stop this bad bill, and work to strengthen the historic health care progress that’s been made in Louisiana.

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    We can not give in ‘to feelings of impotent rage,’ 100 Black Men say

    Through its president Michael Victorian, The 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge released the following statement Thursday morning following the U.S. Justice Department decision on the Alton Sterling case on May 3

    Baton Rouge (LA) Alton Sterling’s death is a tragedy. It is compounded further by the Justice Department’s decision not to bring charges against the officers involved in his death. We respect Alton’s life and mourn the loss to his family and friends. We also state, categorically, that Mr. Sterling’s life mattered. The lives of the young African-American men and women who we mentor, matter and 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge will continue to do everything within its power to help young people reach their full potential. The systematic conditions that led to Mr. Sterling’s tragic death must be met head on with love, compassion, and an unwavering determination to help make all of our communities safe and economically vibrant.

    We recognize that the findings released on yesterday are frustrating. However, we urge all people of goodwill to use this moment as a call for greater and more meaningful engagement. It is meaningful and constructive to vent, protest, and fully engage in the democratic process. However, we cannot give in, though, to feelings of impotent rage through acts of violence.  Such action will only endanger our community.

    We call on those who wish to improve the lives of people here at the corner of Fairfield and N. Foster Drive (Baton Rouge, LA) to get directly involved in dismantling injustice. Furthermore, we applaud the leadership of our East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome who early in her administration took steps to execute much needed reforms to the Baton Rouge Police Department, including these five policy changes:

    1.      Officers are required to give a verbal warning, before using deadly force, except where there are exigent circumstances.

    2.      Officers are required to de-escalate situations, when possible, before using force.  De-escalation strategies include disengagement, area containment, waiting out a subject, summoning reinforcements, calling in specialized units or employing other strategies.

    3.      Officers will not employ chokeholds or strangleholds, except in emergency circumstances where it is immediately necessary to use deadly force and the authorized weapons are inoperable, inaccessible or otherwise not available.

    4.      Officers are prohibited from discharging a firearm at a moving vehicle unless the vehicle or the persons within the vehicle pose an immediate deadly threat to others.

    5.      Officers will be required to intervene to prevent another officer from using excessive force and to immediately report when they observe the use of excessive force by another officer

    In order for these policies to have their intended effect, the Baton Rouge Police Department and its leadership must take active measures to ensure that those officers that do not comply with these policies will face serious significant discipline

    The 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge is committed to continuing to engage our youth and families to strengthen our community. We hope that area citizens will answer this call to a crisis and set an example to the nation and the world as they watch.

    One Hundred Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge, LTD. is a non-profit organization through which African-American males step forward and assume roles of community leadership, responsibility, and guidance.  Michael Victorian currently serves as the president and chairman of the board.

     

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    Congressman Graves: ‘this decision should have been issued sooner’

     Congressman Garret Graves (R – Baton Rouge) released the following statement today regarding the Department of Justice’s Alton Sterling decision:

     We cannot allow the tragic shootings of 2016 or the fallout to define us or our community, but we can learn from those experiences.

    All loss of life is tragic.  We’ve already lost Deputy Brad Garafola, Officer Matthew Gerald, Officer Montrell Jackson and Alton Sterling.  Deputy Nick Tullier is an amazing warrior overcoming all obstacles, but his life is forever changed and Deputy Bruce Simmons continues to recover from being shot.  Nothing good has resulted from these shootings.  Right or wrong, each loss represents a loved one, a friend, a confident, a husband, a community member – a life or part of life suddenly, prematurely, and in many cases, senselessly taken.

    The abundant evidence in this case –video footage, eyewitness accounts and other sources – faced the extensive scrutiny of both President Obama’s Department of Justice and the current Administration’s. Due to the prolific evidence, this decision should have been issued sooner; however, we trust that this decision is the product of a meticulous and fair investigation.

    The Capital Region has endured tremendous hardship – this tragedy, an ambush attack on law enforcement, historical flooding and the recent fatal shooting of a Baton Rouge Deputy.  We now have two choices:  1) We can come together as a community, be neighbors and lift one another up as we did in the August flood, or 2) We can, once again, go down the path of violence, death and loss.  Only one makes sense.

    I was born and raised in the Baton Rouge area.  What I experienced on July 17 when our officers were shot was unrecognizable.  It was like we were in a foreign country – not home.  An outsider spread his evil and hatred here.  Someone from out of state hijacked our community.  While Baton Rouge has its share of imperfections, we are better than that.

    From here, let’s work with our new mayor to convert the city we have into the city we want. I urge our community to continue to pray for the victims and their families and to pray for peace and understanding.

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    Barthelemy named to SUS board

    John L. Barthelemy, of Braithwaite, was appointed to the Board of Supervisors of Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College. Mr. Barthelemy is a Plaquemines Parish Councilmember and former educator. Mr. Barthelemy was the principal of Phoenix High School for 30 years. After Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Isaac, he worked with FEMA to redevelop Phoenix High School. Mr. Barthelemy earned a Masters of Education degree and a Bachelors of Arts degree from Southern University. He will serve as a representative of the 1st Congressional District.

     

     

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    Urban League supports investigation by Louisiana Attorney General, state police in Alton Sterling case

    The Urban League of Louisiana released this official statement regarding the Alton Sterling decision, May 3:

    The world is watching. Our community is on high alert. Tensions are high. Hearts are broken.  And “justice” continues to evade us. 

    For ten months, the family of Alton Sterling has patiently waited to learn about the fate of Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake, the Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD) officers involved in their loved one’s murder. Yesterday, the family and the rest of the world learned through an article published by the Washington Post that the officers would face no federal civil rights charges. The Sterling family deserved to be notified directly by the Department of Justice long before this decision became front-page news in a national media outlet.

    Many have become desensitized to police shootings, and do not feign shock when officers are not held accountable.  Instead, it’s chalked up to flaws in the system. However, we must confront the real criminal justice reform that’s needed in this country so that our laws do more to actually provide justice rather than shield those with the greatest responsibility to the public from the law. It is incumbent upon us to give our voices and our votes to the continuing battle for equity and justice.  As the Sterling family said today, the battle is not over; it has only just begun.

    While bitterly disappointing, the DOJ’s announcement comes as no surprise. According to Kelley et. al, (2016) charges are filed in only one percent of fatal shootings involving police. [1] This precedent equates to government sanctioned murder, a status quo the community and the Urban League at large is simply unwilling to accept. So, now all eyes are on Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, who has released a statement announcing that the Louisiana State Police will launch its own investigation into the conduct of the officers and the appointment of a special prosecutor who will determine if officers Salamoni and Lake will face criminal charges by the state. While the Urban League fully supports this step, we will be vigilant in our commitment to ensure that a fair and neutral process is conducted in the pursuit of justice for Alton Sterling, his family, and the city of Baton Rouge. We also encourage the BRPD to examine the conduct of these officers to determine if it meets the expectations of the departments’ standard of professionalism. Based on new details released in today’s press conference by the Sterling family and their attorneys, it appears that there may be grounds for the officers’ termination.

    ULLA is actively involved in advocating for criminal justice reform and is encouraged by Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome’s work to establish new policies within the BRPD regarding use of force guidelines. The League is continuing to pursue its own reform-centered, criminal justice policy agenda, which includes a push for expanded trainings on de-escalation, bias police recognition, crisis intervention, and other pertinent issues.[2] The cost to implement these trainings is far less than the cost of losing a life, settling civil suits, and losing public trust. By providing the law enforcement community with this training, those who are entrusted with securing our public safety will have the tools to execute their role more effectively and safely.  We are also reigniting our call for the establishment of an independent, civilian review board or an independent agency to monitor excessive force complaints, officer-involved shootings and fatal force incidents in East Baton Rouge.

    For the past five months, ULLA staff has convened hundreds of community members including law enforcement officials, youth, young professionals, community leaders and a cadre of African American residents in East Baton Rouge to facilitate dialogues generating community-based solutions to address public safety and community-police relations. The League surveyed approximately 200 East Baton Rouge residents about their perceptions and experiences with police. Over 60% of respondents indicated that police do not treat all citizens equally according to the law, 67% agreed that the police do not make enough contact with residents and about 80% indicated that they want police to partner with community members and groups to solve problems in their communities. The Urban League of Louisiana is committed to working with the community to develop partnerships with law enforcement to bring about the necessary change.

    The world is watching. Our hearts are broken, but our resolve is strong. And we will not stop our fight until the status quo is transformed into justice for all.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Small business, champions honored

    LED and SBA Honor 2017 Louisiana Small Business Award Winners

    Louisiana Economic Development and the U.S. Small Business Administration announced the 2017 Louisiana Small Business Award winners at an event honoring small business leaders who exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit of Louisiana. The winners were honored in a private reception at the Governor’s Mansion, May 3.

    “We are pleased to recognize these enterprising and innovative business leaders, especially at this time in the middle of National Small Business Week,” LED Secretary Don Pierson said. “Small businesses account for more than 97 percent of all employers in Louisiana. They provide jobs to more than 900,000 of our state’s residents – more than half of our private-sector workforce – and they keep our communities vibrant. Small business success is vital to our state’s economy, and the business people we honor today are some of Louisiana’s best.”

    LED and the Louisiana Small Business Development Center Network served more than 13,475 small businesses and individuals last year, directly resulting in 1,022 new jobs, 1,587 retained jobs and the launch of 165 new businesses. The Small Business Award program recognizes top performers in a broad range of categories.

    The 2017 Louisiana Small Business Award winners are:

    2017 SBA Champion Award winners

    8(a) Graduate of the Year:
    Tiya Scroggins
    Scroggins Consulting
    Shreveport

    Family-Owned Business of the Year:
    Tom Sawyer
    Automotive Alignment and Brake Service
    Lake Charles

    Green and Sustainable Business Award:
    Elizabeth Shephard
    LifeCity LLC
    New Orleans

    Veteran Small Business Champion:
    Carla Antoine
    Life Towne Center
    New Orleans

    Women in Business Champion:
    Klassi Duncan
    Urban League of Louisiana – Women’s Business Resource Center Contractor’s Resource Lab
    New Orleans

    Region VI Women’s Business Center of Excellence:
    Joyce D. James
    Southeast Louisiana Women’s Business Center
    Baton Rouge

    Region Small Business Development Center of Excellence and Innovation Center Award:
    William (Bill) Joubert and Sandy A. Summers
    Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Southeastern Louisiana University
    Hammond

    2017 LED Entrepreneur Awards

    LED Small and Emerging Business of the Year:
    Trudy R. Poret
    Tarpan Construction LLC
    Cottonport

    LED Small Business Innovation Award:
    Chris Meaux
    Waitr
    Lake Charles

    LED Most Outstanding Business Growth Award:
    Alex W. Reed
    Fluence Analytics
    New Orleans

     

    LED Resource Partner of the Year:
    Louisiana Small Business Development Centers Network

    Louisiana PTAC Contractor of the Year:
    Suzette Freeman
    Janet Berry
    Carrie Harper
    Advantage Personnel
    Baton Rouge

    MEPOL Small Manufacturing Award:
    Walerij Holack
    Gulf South Machine
    Ponchatoula

    NFIB Small Business Champion:
    Mike Coullard
    Panola Pepper Corp.
    Lake Providence

    USDA Rural Development Lender of the Year:
    Jeremy Gilpin
    Greater Nevada Credit Union

    USDA Rural Development Borrower of the Year:
    Rock Bordelon
    Central Louisiana Hospital Group, LLC
    Benton

    Small Business Person of the Year:
    Alejandro (Alex) Hernandez
    Hernandez Consulting
    New Orleans

    Read more »
  • ,

    Civil Rights group calls for investigation of La. Legis. Auditor, state offices for discrimination

    After a succession of African-American officials and directors have been investigated by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor (LLA) a local think tank, Justice & Beyond, is asking the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus and Governor John Bel Edwards’ office to investigate the LLA. The group is also calling for a review of the state’s compliance with federal Equal Employment Opportunity Act rules.

    The LLA is a joint committee of the Louisiana Legislature. The Council is composed of five senators and five representatives. The Council is charged with oversight of the legislative auditor and, most importantly, resolving audit findings contained in audits issued by the legislative auditor and private accounting firms performing governmental audits in-lieu of the legislative auditor.

    “Our coalition has been presented evidence that suggests racial targeting and disparate legislative outcomes depending on who is being investigated by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor,” Justice & Beyond leaders wrote when requesting the investigation.

    Justice & Beyond issued the call when it noticed suspect findings in an LLA Report of the Health Education Authority of Louisiana, headed by Jacob Johnson, another African-American man. In fairness to the LLA, it does investigate a range of state-funded entities, but relative to the above cases, the findings amounted to much ado about nothing.

    Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin N. Gusman, Civil District Court Judge Kern A. Reese, and Arthur Morell, Clerk of Criminal District Court, all African-American elected officials, have been investigated by the LLA.

    “They spent two years investigating my office. Initially, they came to investigate the claims of guys who went to jail but the investigation turned up nothing,” said Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman.

    Read more by C.C. Campbell-Rock, Louisiana Weekly contributing writer

    Read more »
  • ,,

    State completes contract with IEM, invites interested subcontractors

    Louisiana has finalized a contract with global consulting firm IEM to manage the $1.3 billion Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program to help residents rebuild and repair their homes after historic flooding in March and August 2016.

    Founded in Baton Rouge in 1985 and headquartered in North Carolina, IEM focuses on emergency management. The company has worked on major recovery efforts, including Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy. It also has a full-service office in Baton Rouge.

    Interested subcontractors can contact IEM directly by calling (225) 952-8256 or emailing Rela_subcontracting@iem.com.

    The homeowner assistance program is funded by $1.6 billion in flood recovery allocations through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In addition, the state is negotiating a contract with CohnReznick LLP, a quality control accounting, tax and advisory firm, to monitor the program.

    The Restore Louisiana Task Force comprises 21 individuals from throughout the state who were appointed by Gov. John Bel Edwards to oversee the rebuilding process after historic flooding in March and August 2016 impacted 51 parishes. The Task Force’s mission is divided into six categories: community planning, economic, health and social services, housing, infrastructure and natural and cultural resources. All task force documents are available at http://restore.la.gov/resources/. For more information, visit restore.la.gov.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Bill Cosby finally breaks silence, talks with Black press

    It’s been more than two years since Bill Cosby has spoken out publicly.

    The legendary comedian has patiently — and quietly — awaited trial on sexual assault charges in Pennsylvania while seeing those who defend him face libel lawsuits — many of which have been tossed out of court.

    Now he’s decided: It’s time to talk.

    Cosby and spokesman Andrew Wyatt of the Purpose PR Firm in Birmingham, Alabama, said they grew comfortable that the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) would be more interested in “facts over sensationalism.”

    Persistence by the Black Press — NNPA reporters had repeatedly requested interviews — also proved a factor in Cosby’s decision to speak out in a two-part exclusive interview, Wyatt said.

    While the superstar declined to address his legal case, his youngest daughter, Evin did.

    In a statement, Evin, 40, proclaimed her father’s innocence.

    “The harsh and hurtful accusations … that supposedly happened 40 or 50 years ago, before I was born, in another lifetime, and that have been carelessly repeated as truth without allowing my dad to defend himself and without requiring proof, has punished not just my dad but every one of us,” Evin said.

    Perhaps the closest Cosby came to addressing the allegations was his response to questions about his love of the arts.

    His supporters have argued that Cosby’s the victim of propaganda and many have had their views skewed because they haven’t taken time to do research.

    “The history about African-Americans is a history of the United States — but the true histories, not the propaganda that is standard in our nation’s history books,” Cosby said. “The great writer, James Baldwin, said, ‘If you lie about me, then you lie about yourself.’ The revolution is in the home. There is something about someone saying, ‘I didn’t know that,’ that could cause a change in that person’s thinking.”

    The legend did shed insight on his life and a career that he’s eager to resume.

    Stunningly, Cosby, 79, revealed his “total lack of vision.”

    Waking one morning about two years ago, he nervously called out to Camille, his wife of more than 50 years, “I can’t see.”

    His doctors confirmed that he’s blind.

    “When he would perform, we’d draw a wide straight yellow line from backstage to the chair on the stage and he’d rehearse the walk hours before the show,” said Wyatt, whose worked for years with Cosby.

    Otherwise, Cosby insisted he’s well.

    “I’m fine,” he said.

    Few have achieved the legendary status enjoyed by Cosby. His career has spanned more than six decades and includes a host of best-selling comedy albums, gold and platinum records, five Grammy Awards and even best-selling books.

    With his role in “I Spy” in the 1960s, Cosby became the first African-American co-star in a dramatic series, breaking TV’s color barrier and winning three Emmy Awards.

    After starring opposite Academy Award winner Sidney Poitier in the 1970s trilogy “Uptown Saturday Night,” “Let’s Do It Again” and “A Piece of the Action,” Cosby’s star soared even higher in the 1980s when he single-handedly revived the family sitcom — and, some argue, saved NBC — with “The Cosby Show.”

    “Bill Cosby and crew should be allowed to have their careers intact,” said Devin T. Robinson X, an actor and renowned poet who’s been featured on MTV, NBC, CBS and BET. “He represents the finest example of guilty in the court of public opinion, yet Bill O’Reilly’s image isn’t tarnished. Punishing people before they’re convicted in court only seems accurate when it serves a media narrative that doesn’t hurt a specific demographic.”

    Cosby said he thinks about his illustrious career that, at least for now, has been placed on hold because of the court case.

    “Darn right,” he said when asked if he missed performing. “I miss it all and I hope that day will come. I have some routines and storytelling that I am working on. I think about walking out on stage somewhere in the United States of American and sitting down in a chair and giving the performance that will be the beginning of the next chapter of my career.”

    He finds laughter “in the same house where the revolution is,” he said, a nod to his mother’s home where he learned the importance of a good education.

    “My mother was a domestic employee and she fixed breakfast for us and lunch and then she went off to work,” Cosby said. “She made $8 a day, I believe. When she came home, she cooked us dinner.

    “As soon as Camille and I had a home and hired someone to help us to do the cleaning, and other things, we made sure of two things that were very important to us: We always paid a generous salary to people working in our home and whether male or female, they would be addressed by us and our children not as Annie or Barbara or whatever, but as Mr., Miss or Mrs. — all of them in that manner. That there is a respect,” Cosby said.

    It’s all part of a legacy that many said shouldn’t be destroyed by allegations.

    “If the president of the United States can go on working in the White House after he has confessed to and bragged about doing gross sexually explicit and abusive things to women without their permission, justice requires that Bill Cosby should not be punished unless he is convicted of crimes,” said Dr. E. Faye Williams, president and CEO of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc. “He has been charged, but not convicted, and the charges came only after his expressed interest in purchasing a network that somebody obviously didn’t want him to have.”

    Tanisha Jones, 28, a fashion designer who works in New York, lamented the “absolute murder” of Cosby’s legacy and accomplishments

    “That’s what’s happened over the past couple of years,” Jones said. “I’m a woman who feels for any woman who has been raped, assaulted or demeaned in any way. But, realistically, we have seen no evidence that any of this is true … yet we elect a president who campaigns on and is elected on grabbing women by their private parts.”

    Read more »
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    Farm to Work program enrollment extended

    Farm to Work program participants receive fresh, locally grown and seasonal produce delivered directly to the work site during the 10-week spring/summer and fall/winter growing seasons. In addition to the produce, participants receive reminder emails, recipes, tips and storage guidelines to get the most from their produce.

    The Farm to Work Program will be offered at the Dow Westside YMCA, Paula G. Manship YMCA, A.C. Lewis YMCA and Southside YMCA. The program will run from May-June during the summer season, and again from October-December during the winter season.

    Those wishing to participate in the program should enroll by April 21st in order to receive your fresh produce in time.

    Cost:
    One time per season $5 enrollment fee, plus:
    5 Box Plan: $25/box x 5 boxes = $125 total cost, every other week delivery
    10 Box Plan: $25/box x 10 boxes = $250 total cost, every week delivery

    ONLINE, click here.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Two-day celebration planned to honor Malcolm X, May 19-20

    Although, May 19 is not an official holiday, organizers in Baton Rouge are inviting residents to a two-day celebration honoring civil rights activist Malcom X.

    Called Malcolm X Day, the May 19-20, event is the brain child of Jasiri Basel of JB Digital Ventures and organized through a partnership with THE CEO MIND Foundation and East Baton Rouge Councilman Lamont Cole.

    The event celebrates Malcolm X’s birth and work for national change.

    “All citizens can celebrate which ever holiday we deem to celebrate; it is not necessary to be given permission to do so.   Malcolm X Day is one of those days that definitely needs to be celebrated; his life, his thoughts, his change and his impact are things that we should pay tribute to despite what the ‘official’ calendar says,” said Basel.

    “So, on this day May 19th, we celebrate intelligence, wisdom, unity, strength, and forward progress as a community. On this day we work toward making a real effort to do better , to have more impact and to improve the conditions of our community.   We do so for our future and in honor of Malcolm X!”

    Basel answered more questions about the Day.

     

    Who are the supporters of Malcolm X Day?

    Some key supporters of the event include: Jeremy Jackson of State Farm; State Representative C. Denise Marcelle; Ma’at Adorned

    Ray Automotive; Attorney Jerrard Young; and James Gilmore, PhD., Assistant Chief Administrative Officer to the Mayor. Most importantly the Streetz and the people of Baton Rouge who want to see real positive change. These are not all of the supporters and the list is growing everyday. So we welcome all who support positive unity within our community to solve and change things , to reach out and connect.

     

    How did the idea originate?

    For the past couple of years I’ve thought about doing something to celebrate the hero Malcolm X , but usually due to me being too busy or out of the country, it didn’t take place.  This year we decided to make the event a priority.

     

    Why host a Malcolm X Day?

    It’s needed to celebrate the life, accomplishments, and legacy of Malcolm X.   It’s needed to communicate the message that we don’t have to be told who to celebrate and why.  It’s need to unify our community for forward progress.   It’s needed for our future.

     

    What are all the activities for the two days?

    Friday May 19th -  Mixer and Listening Event at Club Culture, 450 Oklahoma Street, Baton Rouge. This is where we bring together members of our community who want to see progress for us as a people.   There we will be a uniquely choose sound track that will be the focal point of the evenings event. Those in attendance will get to network with others of like minds as step forward in building something that has not been done before.   There will be light refreshments served.

     

    Saturday May 20th – Malcolm X Community Cookout. This event is about unifying our community and our people.  A coming together to provide some simple steps that those in the community can do to help with progress for themselves.  This event is about empowering our community.  This event will make a statement that we will pick and celebrate our heroes and we don’t need permission or day designated by them to do so.  We will provide food for the community, games for the kids, and will replay the sound track.   (Other details are to come)

     

    Are there any rainy day plans? 

    Yes, this event will take place despite the weather.

     

    As of now what other groups or people involved in the activities?

    We are attempting to get every organization that is doing work for positive change in the community involved. We have and are reaching out to every organization we can think of,  and if by chance we haven’t reached them yet and they want to get involved, we are totally open to have them. So please reach out.  Visit the site www.MalcolmsDay.org for more information. There are a lot of moving parts to an event of this nature, a lot of mental power, planning, manpower, and resources are needed.  Those involved are doing their part in support.

     

    Is this an annual event? 

    Yes, this is the first of an annual celebration that we expect to see become more impactful every year. We are planning with other partners to ensure that the holiday will be officially celebrated in several cities across the nation next year.

     

    What do you expect to be the result?

    Various leaders coming together to do work towards long term objectives that benefit the community and the youth. The community taking to take more responsibility for the outcomes that directly impact their kids, their community, and their lives.

     

    Is this event connected to the Manhood 101 event and Saturday in the park that your organization hosts?

    Yes, everything we do is connected in one way or another because all of our programs and outreach have a common goal of empowering, impacting, and providing real, tangible pathways to strengthen individuals and the community as a whole.  The Malcolm X Day events are directly in alignment with that purpose.

     

    Is registration required to participate?

    It’s not specifically required, but it is suggested as it will help us prepare for the amount of people that will be attendance. Those who have registered may receive some surprises and benefits that those who have not might not. We ask that everyone check the site www.MalcolmsDay.org on a regular basis as it will stay updated with information regarding the event, pre contest, supporters, etc.  Be sure to check out the FAQs on the website as well

    Basel is founder of THE CEO MIND Foundation focuses on engagement, empowerment,  education and pathways for individual and collective progress of the community. The foundation hosts manood courses, provides meals on Saturdays in the Gus Young community of Baton Rouge, through its Grill & Connect initiative, and host community dialogues on technology and opportunities for community sustainability.

    ONLINE: MalcolmsDay.org

    THECEOMIND.org

     

     

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Vote on school tax renewal April 29

    On April 29, voters in East Baton Rouge will determine the 10-year renewal of two property taxes totaling an estimated $42 million over 10 years to improve and maintain salaries of employees and to reduce state receipts to maintain the system. Specifically, voters will say “yes” or “no” to these propositions which state:

    Cons. Sch. Dist. No. 1 Prop. No. 1 – 7.14 Mills Renewal – SB – 10 Yrs.: Shall Consolidated School District No. 1 of the Parish of East Baton Rouge, State of Louisiana (the “District”), levy a special tax of seven and fourteen hundredths (7.14) mills on all the property subject to taxation in said District (an estimated $25,437,280 is reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the tax for an entire year) for a period of ten (10) years, beginning with the year 2019, for the purpose of giving additional support to the public elementary and secondary schools in said District by providing funds for improving and maintaining salaries and benefits of public school employees in said District?

    Cons. Sch. Dist. No. 1 Prop. No. 2 – 4.98 Mills Renewal – SB – 10 Yrs.:Shall Consolidated School District No. 1 of the Parish of East Baton Rouge, State of Louisiana (the “District”), levy a special tax of four and ninety-eight hundredths (4.98) mills on all the property subject to taxation in said District (an estimated $17,741,970 is reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the tax for an entire year) for a period of ten (10) years, beginning with the year 2018, for the purpose of giving additional support to the public elementary and secondary schools in said District by providing funds for the purpose of replacing reduced state and local receipts and operating and maintaining the public school system in said District?

     

    Read more »
  • City of Ponchatoula announces new website

    With so many planned events occurring nearly every day and multiple projects underway all the time, Ponchatoula is expanding its reach to the public to include an updated website and presence on social media.

    John Barnes of Gumbeaux Digital Branding, LLC, is the designer of the City of Ponchatoula Website News.

    Barnes brings over twenty-two years of experience in the field beginning with his developing military programs before becoming a contractor with the Department of Defense and now in oil and gas. But all along he has been a freelancer in web design, analytics and development, to name only a few areas of his expertise.

    Stating his views on the rapidly-growing area, Barnes’ message is that whether a person moved here after Katrina or is here temporarily after flooding, “If you carry yourself accordingly, we adopt you. While the ‘tip of the spear’ is growth and sustaining, we are still a family community.”

    To keep that “family community” well-informed, the website makes it easy to reach any department and staff member, report a problem, pay a bill on-line, or simply ask a question.

    Barnes said he operates on the principles of what he calls two very simple efforts: “authenticity and communication.”

    Mayor Bob Zabbia added that one of the goals of the city is to help Ponchatoula citizens stay current with any news coming out of City Hall. The site and its accompanying Facebook page will also include the latest newspaper and online articles.

    ONLINE: www.cityofponchatoula.com

    By Kathryn J. Martin
    The Drum community reporter

    Read more »
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    ‘b-side for tray’ comes to Baton Rouge, April 29

    Kimber Lee’s beautiful play, Brownsville Song (b-side for tray), tells the story of a family grieving the tragic loss of 18-year-old Tray, who was shot in his neighborhood of Brownsville, New York. Moving fluidly between past and present, this dynamic new play explores a family at its weakest and strongest moments. Through its intimate portrayal, we’re challenged to resist complacency and reminded of the true value of every life.

    Brownsville song (b-side for tray) runs 7:30pm Saturday, April 29, at and 3pm Sunday, April 30, at Louisiana State University, Music and Dramatic Arts Building.The production is directed by New Venture Theatre’s The Piano Lesson director Tim Sandifer and features an all-star cast including Dwayne Butler, Denisa Joshua, Addison Jordan, Krystal Blatcher, Drelan Evans, and Dion Sideboard.

    Director Tim Sandifer is a theatre director and teacher originally from Baton Rouge who has worked in numerous capacities at Theatre Baton Rouge, Independence Park Theatre, Baker Little Theatre and many other performance venues throughout the region.
    He has trained, performed and directed in many places throughout the world. He received his undergraduate degree from Northwestern State University of Natchitoches in theatre directing/performance and technical theatre and design. From there he went on to receive his Master of Fine Arts from East 15 Acting School, a part of The University of Essex in London. Tim worked at GITIS – The Russian University for Drama in Moscow. There he worked with direct assistants of Constantin Stanislavski.
    Tim currently serves as the Theatre and Fine Arts teacher at Plaquemine Senior High School. He lives with his wife and fellow Artistic Director of Spotlight Performing Arts Academy, Amber Sandifer, and their three-year-old daughter in Port Allen.
    CAST:
    Tray – Dwayne Butler
    Lena – Denisa Joshua
    Devine – Addison Jordan
    Merrell – Krystal Blatcher
    Junior – Drelan Evans
    Brooklyn College Student – Dion SideboardDESIGN & PRODUCTION STAFF:

    Scenic Designer – Tim Sandifer
    Costume Designer – Christian Jones
    Lighting Designer – Piper Productions
    Properties Designer – Melanie Williams
    Stage Manager – Chelsea Ciconne
    Sound Designer – Bryan Jareau
    TICKET PRICES:Regular Admission | $27
    Students With Valid ID | $22
    BOX OFFICE:     225-588-7576 or www.nvtarts.org
    Group rates available and special pricing available for student groups. Call 225-588-7576 or visit www.nvtarts.org  to purchase tickets or subscriptions.
    Read more »
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    Book chronicles ‘The Forgotten People’ of Plaquemines Parish

    Tyronne Edwards wanted to ensure the rich contribution of Blacks in Plaquemines Parish, which is part of the history of Plaquemines, the state of Louisiana, the nation and the world for present and future generations. It prompted him to write The Forgotten People: Restoring a Missing Segment of Plaquemines Parish History.

    This book chronicles the specific achievements of leaders who dismantled institutional racism and outwitted Judge Leander Perez, Plaquemines Parish’s segregationist and dictator. It also educates readers to the battles waged by residents to knock down doors in schools, businesses, and government that were closed to them.

    In “The Forgotten People,” Edwards breathes life into the important historical record of Blacks’ self-determination and perseverance that should never be forgotten.

    Edwards, a native of and pastor in Phoenix, La., has 47 years of human service experience and community development. He is the founder and former executive director of the Zion Travelers Cooperative Center, Inc. in Plaquemines Parish which was organized in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. For 37 years as a trainer for the People’s Institution for Survival & Beyond, he has conducted Undoing Racism workshops throughout the country.

    Read more »
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    8 ways to optimize your sleep

    While a healthy lifestyle requires a balanced diet and exercise, sleep is another pillar of overall wellness that is both essential to your health and success, and often overlooked.

    By simply making small changes to your daily routine you can improve your quality of sleep. Follow these tips from Dr. Sujay Kansagra, Mattress Firm’s sleep health consultant and director of Duke University’s Pediatric Neurology Sleep Medicine Program, and get on your way to better rest and a healthier life.

    1. Manage your sleep time. Rather than trying to accomplish everything on your to-do list at the expense of sleep, reverse your approach. As the average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep each night, make sure to set aside the time needed for a full night of rest.
    1. Stay on schedule. Try to keep your bedtime and wake time consistent on both weekdays and weekends. With time, your brain and body will acclimate to these set times, but until then, rely on an alarm – not only to wake in the morning, but to keep you from staying up too late at night, too.
    1. Find a routine. A routine performed 20-30 minutes prior to bed every night can subconsciously ease your brain into sleep. Unwinding with a book, taking a warm bath or meditating are all ways to slow your mind and transition toward peaceful rest.
    1. Brighten up the morning. Getting plenty of bright light in the morning helps keep your sleep timing on track, particularly if you wake up early. Make opening the drapes and blinds your first task each morning.
    1. Ditch the clock. Fixating on the time can create stress and keep you up at night. Instead, set your alarm, turn your clock around and forget about the time.
    1. Get moving. Research shows that exercise can act as a natural sleep remedy, often leading to a more sound slumber. However, if you exercise late and have difficulty falling asleep, consider moving your workout earlier in the day. The increase in body temperature from exercise tends to be prolonged, sometimes making it hard to fall asleep.
    1. Kick the caffeine habit. Morning caffeine can linger in your system until it’s time to sleep. Coffee, tea, dark sodas and dark chocolate are the main offenders for most people.
    1. Pay back debt. If you are chronically deprived of sleep, allow your body extra sleep time to make up for the loss. In these cases, even 8-9 hours each night may not be enough. Allow your body to catch up then commit to more consistent sleep patterns in the future.

    Find more resources to help improve your sleep, including tips on how to purchase a new mattress, at DailyDoze.com.

    By Family Features
    Photo courtesy of Getty Images

    Read more »
  • ,,

    ‘PHAT’ girls take over Baton Rouge runway

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    Plus-sized women from across Baton Rouge were cheered on has they ripped the runway at PHAT Girl Takeover -The Next Episode Fashion Show at the EpiCenter. The ladies were 17 to 51 years of age and sported attire from local boutiques and designers from across the state.

    For eight weeks, the models attended personal and professional development workshops and were trained to walk the runway by plus-size model and runway coach Patrice Purnell. Jerris Cade was emcee, and Brandon WB Williams of Ivanhoe, North Carolina performed his hit single “The Plus-Size Diva Anthem.”

    The fashion show was organized by SheProductions, LLC, and owner Simone Higginbotham. Photos by Tarnish Jasper. Model attire provided by Big and Desirable.

    Submitted News

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  • Tangipahoa school employees attend conference

    Members of the Tangipahoa Federation of Teachers attended the annual Louisiana Federation of Teachers Paraprofessional and School Related Personnel Conference, April 1 at the Baton Rouge Crowne Plaza Hotel.

    The annual PSRP Conference recognizes the contributions of school support staff. It includes professional development workshops, briefings on important legislative and educational issues, and awards to honor the achievements of members.

    Shown at the conference are, from left, Tonia Conley, Monica Robertson, Jackie Wheeler, TFT President Dina Esquinance, LFT President Larry Carter, Ellender Tillis, Rose Martens, and Pam Lipscomb.

     

    Submitted by Les Landon, Director of Public Relations

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    Holmesville receives loan for drinking water system improvements

    The Louisiana Department of Health recently awarded a $1.9 million loan to the Holmesville Water System through the State’s Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund. This low-interest subsidized loan will help improve Holmesville’s water system.

    LDH and Holmesville officials closed the loan in February. The proposed project includes improvements to two water treatment facilities with new treatment units and storage tanks and a new well and emergency power equipment at one of the facilities. Also, the system will use the funds to make modifications to the electrical control systems and chlorination system to comply with the EPA’s drinking water standards.

    In addition to the loan, the Fiscal Year 2016 Drinking Water Capitalization Grant allowed for additional subsidies in the form of principal forgiveness of up to 20 percent of the loan’s principal, with a cap of $500,000 of principal forgiveness per project.

    Through this special provision, the fund will provide additional financial assistance in the form of principal forgiveness in the amount of $384,000 for this loan for the Holmesville Water System.

    “Consistent access to safe, clean drinking water is critical to the health and well-being of any community,” LDH State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry said. “The Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund provides an affordable way for communities and water systems such as Holmesville to update their drinking water systems and keep their residents safe.”

    Loans made through this program have low interest rates and repayment periods capped at 20 years. Both public and privately-owned community water systems and nonprofit, non-community water systems are eligible for these loans. Once a loan has been approved, water systems can use the funds to make necessary improvements. As the systems pay back the loans, the principal and interest are used to make more money available for loans to other communities. All projects funded by these loans are approved based upon a priority ranking system. Among other factors, projects that address the most serious risks to human health and those that ensure compliance with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act are given the highest priority.

    Congress established State Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund Programs in 1996 as part of the amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act. The program is jointly funded by an annual grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the individual participating states. In Louisiana, the fund is administered by the LDH Office of Public Health.

    “The Fund allows the Department of Health to provide communities with low-interest subsidized loans,” said Jennifer Wilson, program manager for LDH’s Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund. “This allows the communities to make needed infrastructure improvements and protect public health.”

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    Baker High School Boys Varsity Basketball Team reaches state playoffs

    Because of their hard work and endurance and in spite of the loss of their school and/or homes as a result of the Great Flood of 2016, the Baker High School Boys Basketball Team participated in the 2017 Allstate Sugar  Bowl/LHSSA Basketball Tournament. With an overall season record of 25-12 and district record of 7-5, the team made it to the quarter finals of the tournament. We look forward to next year’s team making it all the way! Good luck to the team’s graduating seniors in their future endeavors. GO BUFFS!

     By Submitted News

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    Take a mindful approach to fighting Spring allergens

    While springtime means blooming flowers, warmer temperatures and more time spent outdoors, it also means allergies and pollen. Tackling dust mite matter, tree pollen and animal dander is completely different from protecting your home against the winter flu and requires a new regimen of preparation and cleaning.

    Take on spring allergens by refreshing your home with these simple practices, and help get your family ready to enjoy the warmer months.

    Prep for Bed. Allergens don’t go to bed when you do; they can continue to irritate even while you’re sleeping, causing a restless slumber. To help ensure allergens and pollens aren’t tracked into bedrooms, leave a laundry basket in the hall and have family members remove their clothing before entering their rooms. A quick rinse in a warm shower before bed can help you relax and wind down while also washing away any unwanted pollens still stuck in your hair or on your skin.

    Freshen Fabrics. Clothing, towels and bed linens – items you come in contact with multiple times a day – can trap pollens, dust mite matter, allergens and dander.  It’s important to not only rinse these items but to use a detergent that removes allergens and is gentle on skin, like all free clear liquid and mighty pacs, laundry detergent for sensitive skin. The liquid detergent removes 99 percent of everyday and seasonal allergens, including the top spring allergens: tree and grass pollen, and is the No. 1 recommended detergent brand by dermatologists, allergists and pediatricians for sensitive skin.

    Ingredients Matter. Taking preventative measures against spring allergens can start in a surprising place: the refrigerator. While most people think about treating allergens in their homes and on their clothes, they tend to forget that a good diet is also a good defense. Avoiding aged, pickled or fermented foods like blue cheese and kimchi with naturally occurring histamines can help prevent coughing, sneezing and itching triggered by spring allergens. Instead, look to boost your meals with ingredients found in the Mediterranean Diet, such as fresh fruits and vegetables like apples and broccoli as well as nuts and fatty fishes that have essential vitamins and nutrients known to fight allergy symptoms.

    Give Pets a Makeover.  Your furry friend may be one of the biggest culprits for sneaking allergens and pollen into the house, so this season make sure to give pets twice-a-week baths to wash out dander and pollen. Remember to also wash pet beds and chew toys that are thrown around the yard to help prevent allergens from being transported into and throughout your home.

    With these four steps to help protect your home and family against spring allergens, you can start enjoying a healthy, clean spring.

    By Family Features
    Photo courtesy of Getty Images

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    Community plans for library renovations following Great Flood

    Two meetings held March 20 regarding renovation plans for Greenwell Springs Road Branch Lbrary
    Monday, March 20, was busy at the Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch Library, as community members gathered first at an informal architectural charrette and later at a formal architectural presentation of renovation plans for the Library site.  Greenwell Springs Library re-opened March 3 after sustaining water damage from the Historic Flood of August 2016.  Now it’s time to look toward the future of the Library and plans to renovate it so it is updated for meeting rooms, unique spaces for teens and children, technology, resources and much more.
    The public review was of the concept design by Bradley-Blewster / Hidell Architects to determine future, more complex renovation work. Next the architects and Library staff will produce findings to the East Baton Rouge Board of Control, along with suggested renovation plans or changes.
    The Greenwell Springs Library is one of the oldest of 11 “old” Library branches in the parish.  It and six other older sites are scheduled for major renovations through 2025.  All Library projects are completely funded via the Library’s dedicated tax millage, which passed in 2015.  And all Library projects are designed and constructed on the pay-as-you-go plan.  Greenwell Springs Road Regional Library (built in 1997) and Jones Creek Regional Library (built in 1990) are the first two of these renovation projects.
    For Greenwell Springs Library’s renovation, $5.257-plus million has been budgeted for the project.  Architects were selected in August, prior to the flood, and they have begun concept work. To view the concept plan, visit the Greenwell Springs Reginal Branch Library Construction Project Infoguide at http://ebrpl.libguides.com/greenwell.
    For more information, call Greenwell Springs Library at (225) 274-4450, the Main Library at (225) 231-3750 or online at www.ebrpl.com.
    Photo: Library Director Spencer Watts (center, red tie) and experts listen to community members regarding innovation plans for Greenwell Springs Road Branch Library at an open house March 20. (EBRPL photo)
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    Globalstar Career Fair scheduled for April 7

    Globalstar, a leading provider of mobile satellite voice and data services, will conduct a career fair on Friday, April 7, 8am at the new Northshore Technical Community College campus in Lacombe, Louisiana. The company is hiring customer-care team positions for the Globalstar office in Covington. LED FastStart® – the nation’s No. 1 state workforce development program – is providing support for the career fair.

    The career fair will take place at the new NTCC Lacombe Campus, located at 65556 Centerpoint Blvd. off Louisiana Highway 434, two miles north of Exit 74 on Interstate 12.

    Globalstar is targeting applicants to fill certain skilled positions, including: customer retention representative; customer care representative; bilingual customer care representative, fluent in Portuguese; bi-lingual customer care representative, fluent in French; and technical support representative. Candidates for these positions must be eligible to work in the United States and must be able to accommodate a flexible schedule, as shifts may vary in length and the Globalstar service center operates 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

    Interested applicants may apply online for roles with the company, before or after the career fair, at the Globalstar website, www.globalstar.com/careers. Hiring will begin following a job-screening process for applicants, which includes a pre-employment drug screening, background check and pre-employment assessment.

    In July 2010, Globalstar announced the relocation of its corporate headquarters from Milpitas, California, to Covington. The move also included the relocation of several other Globalstar business functions to Covington, including product development, engineering, network operation & control center, finance, accounting, sales, marketing, corporate communications and customer care.

    About Globalstar
    Globalstar is a leading provider of mobile satellite voice and data services. Customers around the world in industries such as government, emergency management, marine, logging, oil and gas, and outdoor recreation rely on Globalstar to conduct business smarter and faster, maintain peace of mind, and access emergency personnel. Globalstar data solutions are ideal for various asset and personal tracking, data monitoring, SCADA and IoT applications. The company’s products include mobile and fixed satellite telephones, the innovative Sat-Fi satellite hotspot, Simplex and Duplex satellite data modems, tracking devices and flexible service packages. For more information, visit globalstar.com.

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    Many of Medicare’s screenings come at no cost

    How often have you tried to ignore an ache or pain by telling yourself, “Maybe if I do nothing, it’ll go away.” Sometimes, that works. But wishful thinking isn’t the best way to take care of yourself.

    Medicare has put a new emphasis on preventive health care.

    A few years ago, Medicare mostly concerned itself with paying for your treatment after you got sick. Now, it’s also focused on helping you stay healthy and avoid diseases and illnesses in the first place.

    People with Medicare are entitled to a broad range of exams, lab tests and screenings to detect health problems early, when they’re most treatable or curable. Many now come at no out-of-pocket cost.

    Many immunizations are also free.

    To make sure you get started on the right foot, Medicare covers a “welcome to Medicare” visit with your physician during the first 12 months you’re enrolled in the Part B medical insurance program.

    Your doctor will evaluate your health, discuss any preventive services you may need, like shots or screenings, and make referrals for more care if required. There’s no out-of-pocket cost.

    You can make the most of your visit by coming prepared. That means bringing a complete list of your prescriptions, your family health history and your medical records, including immunizations.

    Medicare also pays for an annual wellness visit with your primary care doctor. This isn’t the same as an annual physical, since it isn’t a head-to-toe examination. But it does provide the same opportunity to discuss your health.

    Your doctor will develop a personalized prevention plan to keep you healthy. The visit also includes a review of your medications and routine measurements, like your height, weight, blood pressure and body mass index.

    More than 40 million older Americans with Medicare – including 573,000 Louisiana residents — received at least one preventive service at no cost to them last year.

    Here’s a rundown of some of these services:

    • Cardiovascular screenings check cholesterol and other blood fat levels. Medicare pays for the test once every five years.
    • Blood sugar screenings can determine whether you have diabetes. Based on your health, you may be eligible for up to two screenings each year.
    • Mammograms check for breast cancer. Medicare covers a screening every 12 months for women 40 and older and one baseline mammogram for women 35 to 39.
    • Medicare typically pays for a flu shot once every flu season, a pneumonia vaccination and, if you’re at medium to high risk, a hepatitis B shot.
    • Colonoscopies can find precancerous growths early. Medicare covers the screenings once every 10 years or, if you’re at high risk, once every two years. You pay nothing for the test itself. If your physician removes a polyp, you may need to pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for the doctor’s services and a copayment for the outpatient setting.
    • Prostate cancer screenings include a yearly PSA test and digital rectal exam for men 50 and older. The PSA test is free. You pay 20 percent of the cost for the rectal exam, after meeting your deductible.
    • Medicare pays for one depression screening per year. The screening must be done in a primary-care setting, like a doctor’s office, that can provide follow-up treatment and referrals.
    • If you’re a smoker, you qualify for eight free counseling sessions each year to help you quit.
    • Likewise, if you’re obese with a body mass index of 30 or higher, you may be eligible for free counseling sessions to help you lose weight.
    • Medicare pays for HIV screening for people at increased risk for the virus, people who ask for the test, or pregnant women. Medicare covers the test once every year or up to three times during a pregnancy.

    Keeping up-to-date with screenings and immunizations is important, so Medicare encourages you to visit mymedicare.gov and register. There, you can see a description of your covered preventive services, the last date you had a particular test and the next date you qualify for it again.

    By eliminating the out-of-pocket costs for many screenings and tests, Medicare’s new emphasis on prevention not only can save you money, it can help you take control of your health.

    It may even help save your life.

    By Bob Moos
    Guest Columnist

     

    Bob Moos is the southwest public affairs officer for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. ONLINE:cms.hhs.gov. Medicare Buttons by http://www.hirejon.com/medicare/ 

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    Urban Congress general convening to discuss improving life outcomes for Black males

    MetroMorphosis, a non-profit dedicated to transforming urban communities from within, is hosting the Urban Congress General Convening on Saturday, April 8 at the BREC Headquarters, 6201 Florida Blvd. This event is an initiative of the organization’s program, The Urban Congress on African American Males in Baton Rouge.

    The event is free and open to individuals of all walks of life. Interested community members must register at www.theurbancongress.com  to attend. There will be no on-site registration.  Saturday’s event will feature several guest speakers including Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, Trabian Shorters of BMe Community and national speaker and author, Rodney Walker. Check-in for the one-day convening begins at 8:15am and the event will conclude at 2pm.

    In 2015, MetroMorphosis commissioned a study on the state of Black boys and men in Baton Rouge. It includes several daunting statistics that led to the creation of The Urban Congress on African American Males in Baton Rouge.

    The Congress held the first general convening in April of 2016 where more than 250 businessmen, elected officials, and concerned citizens gathered for a high-energy day focused around creating a path forward for sustainable change. urbancongresslogo

    It’s been a year of growth since then. The Congress developed a vision, mission, and 7 goals along with groups working towards those goals, plus an 8th group focused around influencing policy. Further, over 70 community organizations are actively engaged who are excited about the work and eager to partner to achieve the seven goals.

    “Our main message is that there’s no quick fix to the challenges we face. It will take time. We were intentional about taking a year to learn of the assets in our community for Black boys and men and now, it’s time for action,” said MetroMorphosis president Raymond A. Jetson.

    The work is in collaboration with  My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, housed in the Mayor’s office, and 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge.

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    The Roosevelt seeks the most deserving mom for giveaway

     The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel, is offering everyone the opportunity to take their Mother’s Day gift to the next level this year with an over-the-top luxurious weekend for mom. The iconic Crescent City hotel is excited to award the Mother’s Day surprise of a lifetime to the “Most Deserving Mom.” Everyone is called to nominate a mom to win an overnight stay at The Roosevelt New Orleans, as well as a luxurious spa treatment at the Waldorf Astoria Spa and full breakfast with the family in the hotel.

    “At The Roosevelt New Orleans, we see first-hand that mothers are the ones making plans and taking care of their family members every minute of the day,” said The Roosevelt New Orleans Resident Manager Sebastian Stutz. “This Mother’s Day, we are thrilled to provide the ultimate luxurious experience to the mom who truly deserves relaxing and care-free family time.”

    To make a nomination, visit this link and explain why your nominee is the most deserving mom. All are asked to share their favorite story or heart-warming examples of the many ways their nominee has been a devoted and selfless light in someone’s life. Upon receipt of all nominations by the closing date of Wednesday, April 19, The Roosevelt New Orleans team will select the winner and bestow the gift of a lifetime to the “Most Deserving Mom.” The Roosevelt New Orleans will publically announce the “Most Deserving Mom” on April 26,  on the hotel’s Facebook page.

    This is one of two awards The Roosevelt New Orleans proudly honors local women with throughout the year. The Reigning Spirit of the Sazerac, honored by the hotel during its annual Stormin’ of the Sazerac event in September, is a woman embodying strength, determination and courageousness who makes an indelible impact in her community.

    The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel, is one of America’s most luxurious and revered properties in one of the world’s greatest cities. This iconic hotel offers 504 rooms, including 125 suites, along with ballrooms and meeting space for every event from elaborate galas to private groups, weddings and more. Built in 1893 and boasting its signature block-long golden lobby with dozens of sparkling chandeliers, The Roosevelt has created its own history with the renowned Blue Room, Sazerac Bar, Waldorf Astoria Spa, fitness center, Rooftop Bar, Teddy’s Café, Fountain Lounge, Emporium Gift Shop and its true Waldorf world-class service. Located steps from the history and excitement of the French Quarter, The Roosevelt New Orleans is the crown jewel of New Orleans luxury.

    ONLINE: www.waldorfastoria.com/theroosevelt

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    Celebrity bowling challenge set for April 8

    Baton Rouge Bowling Proprietors will host the “Mayor’s Celebrity Bowling Challenge to Strikeout Hunger” with Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, Saturday, April 8, benefiting the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank.

     Broome will be joined by television anchors and reporters, and other local celebrities at the Raising Cane’s River Center. The event begins with a VIP reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and bowling from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. More than 200 people are expected to participate.

    “This is a fun event for the whole community and it raises money for a great cause,” Broome said. “The Food Bank was hit hard by the flood, so this fundraiser will help them move forward in their recovery efforts.”

    The bowling challenge is a kickoff for the United States Bowling Congress Women’s Championships, which will be held in Baton Rouge starting April 23. The Mayor’s Celebrity Challenge was last held in 2012 during the USBC Open Championships in Baton Rouge.

    The challenge is being sponsored by the USBC, Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers, the Kiwanis Club of Cortana and others.

    Tickets are also available for $50 per person for those who want to attend the event, but don’t want to bowl.  For more information, contact call Marc Pater at 225-603-5914 or paterm@bellsouth.net.

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    Futures Fund rolls out Spring Semester with double attendees

    The Futures Fund began their Spring semester with new and returning students, almost doubling attendance from last year. Organizer said the word is clearly getting out. “If a student between sixth and 12th grade wants to learn photography or coding, this is the place to go, especially if economic barriers would normally keep them from such classes.”

    Each Saturday for eight weeks, students, of either a digital or visual arts discipline, attend early morning workshops lead by some of Baton Rouge’s highest-ranked industry professionals. These teachers not only pass the skills they’ve learned throughout their careers, additionally they become mentors to students who could be labeled as “at risk.”

    “Since the group was together last semester, they came in ready to roll. Some of them already do freelance and brought their freelance questions to the start of class,” said instructor Quinton Jason. This sense of entrepreneurialism is sparked and encouraged throughout the classes. Every skill taught is meant to empower young minds into pursuing their passions.

    “Every Saturday morning, [our] mission is to educate, enrich and empower the young minds that soon will be leading our neighborhoods, cities, and state for years to come,” said program manager Luke St. John McKnight.

    The Spring semester will conclude on May 13 with a student showcase at the BRCC Cypress Building and Magnolia Theatre. Student coding projects will be shown as well as an unveiling of a print gallery created and curated by the photography students.

    ###

    ABOUT THE WALLS PROJECT
    The Walls Project is a unique collaborative effort involving local Baton Rouge groundshakers in business, creative arts, and community development. Although The Walls Project had grassroots beginnings, our core values continue to persevere. Fueled by our mission set in 2012 and by the generous donations gifted to us, The Walls Project has been able to bring social and economical resurgence in underserved areas by delivering community-driven services via staged clean-ups, mural paintings and industry-lead professional classes for students of the community.

     

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    Weight loss webinar features comedian, actress Kim Coles

    “Could it be that hormones have a direct affect on weight loss?” asks naturopathic doctor and owner of Bulivian.com, Tabatha Carr ND. Set to bring her insightful take on the five key factors that inhibit weight loss, the good doctor will address hormones, sugar, toxins, and the emotions that hinder good health. Making the message lively, comedian and actress Kim Coles will bring her love of empowering people via her transformational program entitled G.I.F.T.S.

    “When I uncovered the strategy to reverse some of the most common health problems, I knew I was on to something. I knew I could bring many back to vibrant health so they could be proud of their body and be confident enough to go get their dreams,” said Dr. Carr.”

    The live Bulivian weight loss webinar will address:

    * Weight challenges
    * Hormone issues
    * Blood sugar issues
    * Circulation issues
    * Low energy levels

    Bulivian is based in Oklahoma City, OK and is founded by Dr. Tabatha Carr.For more information, visit www.bulivian.com. To register, visit www.bulivian.com/gethealthy

     

     

     

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    Bill to exempt flood victims from taxes pass in Senate

    Senator Neil RiserA key Senate panel approved Senator Neil Riser’s bill exempting flood victims from paying state income tax in 2017. Without objection, the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee approved SB 240 on May 1.

    “This morning, we sent an important message to flood victims across Louisiana that you are not forgotten,” Riser said. “Many families and businesses are still struggling to recover. With limited funds available, the least the state can do is exempt them from paying income tax for one year while they rebuild their lives,” Riser said.

    If the bill becomes law, the first $100,000 of income that a family earns in 2017 will be exempt from state income tax if the family sustained $10,000 or more of losses during 2016 flooding.

    Read more »
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    Omarosa shocks, angers publishers as she walks out of ‘Black Press Week’ breakfast

    Omarosa Manigault, President Donald Trump’s director of communications for public liaison, walked out of a breakfast meeting she had requested to attend, hosted by the National Newspaper Publishers Association last week.

    The sudden move by the minister and reality star clearly shocked NNPA members and their guests in the March 23 meeting; especially since Manigault had called the chair of the historic group the night before and “asked to attend”, according to NNPA Chair Denise Rolark Barnes. During opening remarks, Manigault had praised Black journalists for historically asking “the tough questions”.

    Manigault became agitated after a reporter asked a question following up on a story published by the Trice Edney News Wire Jan. 8. The story quoted civil rights lawyer Barbara Arnwine as stating that Manigault promised the “first interview” with Trump to NNPA President Benjamin Chavis during a Jan. 4 Trump transition team meeting with Black leaders.

    Manigault doesn’t dispute having promised the interview. However, she was incensed because the story said she promised Chavis “the first” interview.

    The Jan. 8 story reports:

    ‘”Manigault’s promise of the interview was disclosed after a representative of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) stressed the importance of Black reporters interfacing with the president. Both Chavis and NABJ representatives participated in the closed door meeting held Jan. 4 at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in North West DC.
    Trump aide Omarosa Manigault listens to question from reporter Hazel Trice Edney. Photo: Shevry Lassiter

    ‘”When NABJ said we need to make sure that somebody Black interviews the President first, [Omarosa] said, ‘Oh no.  Ben Chavis and I have already spoken and he’s going to be the first interview,’” recounted Arnwine, president/CEO of the Transformative Justice Coalition, in an interview. Arnwine said Chavis then “acknowledged that that was correct – that they had already been in touch with him about it.’”

    Hearing of Manigault’s denial this week, Arnwine seemed puzzled.  “It was to me a highlight. I had hoped that it really meant that African-American journalists were being repositioned into a higher priority for the incoming administration,” she said. “And I am surprised that this representation is unfortunately being dropped or not followed through. I was in the room and it was not said once. It was said twice.”

    It is not clear whether the Trump staff recorded the meeting since it was off the record. Since the meeting, some have speculated that perhaps Manigault meant Chavis would be the first Black Press representative to interview Trump rather than the first journalist.

    After seeing one White media reporter after another interview the President, this reporter, a former NNPA editor-in-chief invited to the breakfast by Barnes, followed up on the Jan. 8 story:

    The first question pertains to “the promise that Ben Chavis would get the first interview with the president; then I have another question,” this reporter said after being acknowledged by Manigault.
    Manigault strongly responded, “Ben Chavis was never promised the first interview. He was promised an interview, but not the first. And I was very surprised because we’ve always had a great working relationship, Hazel, that you wrote such a dishonest story about a closed off the record meeting that I invited NNPA to to make sure that we had a great relationship, that we started early. I was really surprised that you made that a press story because that was inaccurate. And moreover, you weren’t in the room.”
    The publishers were in Washington observing NNPA’s annual Black Press Week, this year celebrating the 190th anniversary of the Black Press. The exchange, during a breakfast meeting at the Dupont Circle Hotel, quickly went downhill with both professionals clearly agitated.
    “It was not inaccurate, and I have my sources right here. The question is when is the interview going to take place? That’s the question,” this reporter insisted.
    Manigault responded, “We’ve been working for months because we have that kind of relationship…We had been working very closely to make sure that NNPA was on the front row and at the forefront of what happened. Your article did more damage to NNPA and their relationship with the White House because it’s not just me. So you attack me, they circle the wagons. So you can keep attacking me and they will continue to circle the wagons, but that does not advance the agenda of what NNPA is doing,” Manigault said. “I’m going to continue to work with Ben Chavis, who I adore, to make sure that we do what we said we were going to do. Interestingly enough, we were just talking about this privately over here. And so, if you want to make another headline or do another story about it, I think that is really not professional journalism.”
    This reporter responded, “It’s professional journalism.”
    Actually, the Jan. 8 story did not attack Manigault. In fact it quoted Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church as calling her a “great leader” and NAACP Vice President Hilary Shelton as saying, “I have a lot of respect for her.”
    Chavis, in the Jan. 8 story, had made it clear that the meeting was off the record for him and the other dozens of organizational leaders in the room Jan. 4, including several non-working journalists.
    This reporter and CNN’s Betsy Klein staked out the Jan. 4 meeting for more than three hours standing in winter weather outside the building on the sidewalk. Some organizational leaders spoke guardedly after the meeting that day while most, including Chavis, declined comment.
    Neither Manigault – nor any of her colleagues – would speak on the record Jan. 4 and this reporter has not been able to reach Manigault for comment since. Also, until the March 23 breakfast, Manigault had said nothing to this reporter about disagreeing with the article.
    At one point during the breakfast back and forth, Manigault turned to Chavis saying, “He’s right here. The source is here.”
    This reporter said she would not divulge her sources; then asked Chavis to recount what he had “told me”. He repeated, “What I told you was it was an off the record meeting.” He told Manigault that she had promised him an interview. She stressed that she had not said “the first.”
    This reporter’s question was not isolated as it pertained to Black Press access.
    Stacy Brown, a reporter for the Washington Informer and NNPA contributor had actually asked the first question at the breakfast, noting Manigault’s opening words about the importance of Black Press coverage. “Just as important for us is access,” Brown stated, “What kind of access can we expect from this administration? When I say we, I’m talking about the Black Press,” Brown asked.
    Manigault responded, “I know that [White House Press Secretary] Sean Spicer and the rest of the press team are working to make sure that the NNPA gets access so I think it is important that they stay engaged.”
    Referring to President Trump’s March 22 meeting with Congressional Black Caucus leaders, Manigault said she believed the White House “had a historical number of African-American journalists covering it and given access to that particular event.”
    But, Washington Informer photographer Shevry Lassiter, quickly responded, “Except us.” Lassiter said she was told that too many people had signed up for coverage, giving her the impression that “We were too late.”
    When Manigault responded, “Your paper work has got to be right,” Lassiter clarified, “It was right. We got notice and sent it in; then couldn’t get in. She said they had too many,” Lassiter said, referring to a staffer.
    “Are you bashing my young staffer?” Manigault asked. “I’m not going to let you do that. I’m not going to let you do that. I’m not going to let you do that.”
    That exchange was just before this reporter’s question and the brouhaha that followed. When this reporter asked to move on to the second question, Manigault abruptly walked out with staffers in tow a little more than 10 minutes after arriving.
    Publishers were aghast.
    “Did she just walk out? Did she leave?” someone in the audience said quietly.
    “How is she going to come in here and just walk out?” asked Chicago Crusader Publisher Dorothy Leavell, standing. The former NNPA president and NABJ Hall of Fame Inductee said, “And any other Black Press person ought to be insulted by what she did,” said Leavell. “It was totally disrespectful.”
    A man’s voice called out, “We are insulted!”
    “That’s how the Trump people act. This is Trumpism! This is Trumpism!” said another publisher.
    The criticism was not just aimed at Manigault. Some in the room said this reporter was as much at fault in the way the question was posed.
    GOP political commentator and consultant Paris Dennard, also present at the breakfast meeting, said in an interview that the question was adversarial.
    “With all due respect to you Hazel, it came off as a bit confrontational,” Dennard said. “It came off as being a little bit on the attack.”
    Dennard continued, “What I know is it was a priority for Omarosa to be here…I know that it was not her intention to come in and leave. No one gets up, comes to NNPA with people that she’s known and worked with to make a scene and leave. That wasn’t her intention.”
    Barnes had given Manigault a glowing introduction, calling her a “top strategist” who helped get Trump elected.
    “There’s so many things that I could say about Rev. Omarosa Manigault and I just want to say that some of us really do consider her a great friend. I know that she’s a supporter of NNPA. And that is why she asked to come to speak to us this morning.”
    Chavis sought to calm the group after Manigault walked out, stating that he believes the interview is still on.
    “Let’s collect ourselves,” he said. “It’s in our interest to have an interview with the President of the United States. And that’s what we’re trying to accomplish and I believe we will accomplish…If Omarosa can help us facilitate that engagement, I think it’s in our interest. But as journalists, I know you have to ask your questions.”
    Barnes, clarifying that she was speaking momentarily as publisher of the Washington Informer instead of NNPA chair, concluded that Manigault’s conduct was unacceptable.  “That was totally unnecessarily. She doesn’t start a conversation saying ask the ‘tough questions’ and then run away from the tough questions…And so we’re going to have to bypass her. She’s not the only person in the White House if we want to deal with the White House.”
    Later, in an interview speaking as NNPA chair, Barnes said, “To me, I almost feel as if we were baited…I expected a different presentation from her, which would have led us into asking a different set of questions about the issues she was going to raise and not get into this personal confrontation with a journalist. So, I’m disappointed that she didn’t – in my opinion – come in and speak on the President’s and on the administrations’ behalf about things that are important to this administration that the Black Press should be focusing on. That didn’t happen. It was a lost opportunity for the President. And it was definitely a waste of time for NNPA.”
    By Hazel Trice Edney
    TriceEdneyWire.com
    Photo by Shevry Lassiter. NNPA President Ben Chavis discusses prospective interview with Manigault during heated exchange. 
    Read more »
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    New app helps flooded homeowners with title problems

    Flood Proof: Free Legal Help for Homeowners with Title Problems launched a new iPhone app to streamline the process for homeowners seeking to obtain a clear title to inherited property.

    “Homeowners who were affected by the August floods and lack clear title to their home need to gather information and documents to prove title.  The Flood Proof App is a tool that will allow flood victims to do exactly that from their home or place of temporary residence, and hopefully minimize the number of times that they have to take off of work or arrange child care in order to make multiple trips to an attorney’s office,” said Judy Perry Martinez, Special Advisor to the newly created American Bar Association Center for Innovation and former chair of the ABA Presidential Commission on the Future of Legal Services.

    Many homeowners living in homes passed down from family members are unable to qualify for federal or state recovery aid due to the floods, loans to repair their homes, or insurance proceeds because they cannot prove they own their property. This typically happens when a loved one dies and a relative still living in the home then has legal rights to the inherited property. Title does not automatically pass to the relative as a legal matter until he or she takes legal action to open a succession, file documents with a court and obtain a judgment of possession.

    “From making repairs to their homes, to finding new schools for their children, to caring and taking in loved ones, victims of the August floods already have so much that they have to wrap their heads around,” said Martinez. “The goal of this overall project and of the app is for homeowners to begin the process necessary to obtain a clear title to their homes in the quickest and most efficient way possible and afford free legal services to those who qualify. We already are seeing results.”

    As of March 3, almost 130 individuals had begun the process of obtaining clear title by attending legal fairs hosted by Flood Proof attorneys or by calling the 1-844-244-7871 hotline number. People affected by the August 2016 flooding can use the app to find out what information they will need, quickly and safely upload relevant documents, and find out if they are eligible for free legal services.
    Flood survivors can download the app by searching for “Flood Proof: Louisiana Legal Help” in the iTunes App Store or by visiting the Flood Proof: Free Legal Help for Homeowners with Title Problems website. The app is also available for download for Android users in Google Play.

    The Flood Proof app was developed with support from Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, the American Bar Association’s Center for Innovation, Stanford University Law School and the LSU Law Center.  The project is led by Southeast Louisiana Legal Services in collaboration with the Baton Rouge Bar Foundation, Southern University Law Center, LSU Law Center, Louisiana Appleseed, and the American Bar Association’s Center for Innovation.  Generous support funding the project is provided through grants from the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Louisiana Bar Foundation, the Equal Justice Works Foundation, and the Greater New Orleans Foundation.

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  • Trump’s budget ‘hurts’ Black community; CBC chair offers alternative

    The Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Congressman Cedric Richmond (D-LA-02), released the following statement in response to President Trump’s first budget proposal:

    We’ve heard all of this talk from President Trump about African Americans not having anything to lose under his Administration. The truth is that we have a lot to lose and his budget proposal is proof of that.

    Although President Trump promised a ‘New Deal for Black America,’ his budget slashes the federal workforce and cripples domestic programs (e.g. federal student services TRIO programs, LIHEAP, grants for after school programs, Community Development Block Grants, and Community Services Block Grants), and we’re likely to see even more cuts in these areas if he gives tax breaks to the wealthy, as expected. All of this hurts the African-American community. In addition, despite his promise to support and strengthen HBCUs, President Trump proposes to give these schools the same amount of funding they received last year. This budget proposal is not a new deal for African Americans. It’s a raw deal that robs the poor and the middle-class to pay the richest of the rich.

    If President Trump is serious about moving the African-American community forward, he should look to the Congressional Black Caucus’ alternative budget. Our budget invests in pathways out of poverty, as well as policy and programs that help Americans reach and remain in the middle-class. Our budget also reduces the deficit by nearly $2.9 trillion over 10 years.

    In the face of racism and discrimination in the private sector, African Americans have historically relied on the public sector for upward mobility. Even today, nearly 20 percent of the federal workforce is African American.

    President Trump’s proposal will hurt these federal families and others, the federal departments and agencies that they work for, and the Americans that depend on the services that these federal departments and agencies provide.

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    Broome invites public to city-wide dialogue on education, March 21

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome is inviting education stakeholders to attend the City Parish’s Inaugural Education Roundtable: City-Wide Dialogue to help close the education gap in our community.

    As part of the roundtable which will be held on March 21, East Baton Rouge Parish Superintendent Warren Drake, East Baton Rouge Parish School Board Members, Metro Council Members, and other educators will come together to share common goals, express challenges, and develop solutions to enhance the educational experiences of our children. Representatives from Southern University, LSU, and Baton Rouge Community College will also participate in the event.

    “While education doesn’t fall directly into my realm of responsibility, it is a very important part of helping to move our City Parish forward,” Broome said.  “My vision for this forum is to help support local systems and boards so all of our students have an opportunity to succeed.”

    The education roundtable will take place at the Raising Cane’s River Center in rooms 9 and 10 from 3:30pm to 7pm. It will include two sessions:

    ·        3:30pm. to 5:15pm, Information sessions will feature speakers discussing various topics including early childhood expansion, higher education connections, and future workforce demands.
    ·        5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., a dialogue between Metro Council and School board members about proactive measures that can be taken to enhance the experiences of our children.

    Members of the audience will also have an opportunity to ask questions or make comments.  Participants should enter the River Center on the St. Louis Street side near the theater.

    Those interested in attending are encouraged to RSVP here: Attend Education Roundtable
     

    Read more »
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    Ponchatoula native brings ‘Something Miraculous’ to Baton Rouge stage, March 26

    It was a matter of fate that Lady Toussaint Duchess ended up bringing her highly-anticipated stage play to Baton Rouge.

    She had recently returned to visit her family after an extended stay in Africa for seven months and was watching the news the night Baton Rouge elected its first black female mayor, Sharon Weston Broome. She heard Broome speak about her plans to build a new, more inclusive and prosperous city and wanted to be part of that.

    “I listened to her and believed that TDE (Toussaint Duchess Entertainment) could be a small piece of the fabric that could help build a new Baton Rouge,” said Duchess, who added that she also wanted to give back to her home state as a whole through her ministry.

    Then Duchess met her cousin Michael Toussaint Sr. shortly thereafter, and the rest was history. The two talked about their professions and passions and decided that they wanted to bring something grand to the area that residents would appreciate. Duchess told Toussaint about her company’s stage plays and how she has worked with the likes of Tyler Perry and T.D. Jakes and would like to bring her national connections to Baton Rouge. They eventually decided to debut Duchess’ theatrical soap opera “Something Miraculous” at Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church’s Family Life Center.

    “’Something Miraculous’ is truly a life-changing theatrical experience that you do not want to miss,” Duchess said. “We’re asking everyone to come out and enjoy this Broadway-style dinner theatre that we’re bringing to Baton Rouge. It will be a night of great food, fellowship—and of course drama.” image

    Episode One of “Something Miraculous” premieres March 26 at 3pm and 7:30pm. VIP tickets have sold out for both shows, but General Admission tickets are still available for $35 on Eventbrite.com or by calling (225) 771-8527.

    Duchess will be starring as Mrs. Lucy, the no-nonsense grandmother who speaks her mind and will “shade” a person at any given moment. The show will also feature Trisha Mann-Grant, who is widely-known for her role in “The Man in 3B,” the movie based on the Carl Weber bestseller of the same title.

    “Something Miraculous” is dedicated to Michael Toussaint Sr.’s son, Michael Toussaint Jr., 32, who was killed in a car accident in 2015. The co-owner of Toussaint Customs in Port Allen, he was affectionately referred to as “Mustang Mike.”

    The elder Toussaint owns Michael T. Enterprises and serves as president of River City Records. He has produced two tailgate songs for the New Orleans Saints, which were released courtesy of Mardi Gras Records. He will also be making an appearance in the show.

    Duchess has lived and worked all over the country, collaborating with Babyface, Fantasia Barrino, Fred Hammond, and Robin Givens on various projects. After surviving a painful divorce and going on sabbatical in Africa for healing, she said that her relationship with God sustained her along the way. She said she lives by the Romans 12:6 scripture, “In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.”

    It has been a decade since Duchess last performed in Baton Rouge in her play “Dream With Your Eyes Open.” Eventually she plans on moving back to Florida and having dual citizenship in the U.S. and Tanzania. However, she said Baton Rouge is home for now and feels that she is right where she needs to be.

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    Southern University to observe its 137th Founders’ Day, March 9

    On Thursday, March 9, 2017, Southern University will host its 137th Founders’ Day with activities commemorating its history, honoring employees celebrating 10, 20, 30, and 40 years of service, and recognizing Southern University alumni who are elected officials throughout the state of Louisiana.

     

    This year’s observance of the annual recognition is themed, “Southern University:  Positively Impacting the Community, the State, the Nation, and the World.”

    The public SUBR Founders’ Day celebration will begin with a SU Laboratory School Commemoration at 8:30 a.m. The Community Prayer Brunch/Founders’ Day Convocation begins at 10 a.m. in the F. G. Clark Activity Center, a voter registration drive will be held at the Clark Activity Center service entrance during the convocation, and a SU Founders’ Day Birthday Party at noon in Jaguar Square in front of the Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union.

    In keeping with the celebration of Baton Rouge’s Bicentennial, the 2017 Southern University Founders’ Day observance is scheduled as one of the University’s events to commemorate the founding of Baton Rouge. The city in January celebrated 200 years since its incorporation.

     

    To highlight the special SUBR observance, Sharon Weston Broome, the first female elected mayor-president of Baton Rouge-East Baton Rouge Parish, will serve as the keynote speaker for a mid-morning combination Community Prayer Brunch and Founders’ Day Convocation in the Felton G. Clark Activity Center.

     

    Prior to becoming mayor, Broome served as a Louisiana State Representative (District 29) and a Louisiana State Senator (District 15). While in the legislature, Broome became the first female to hold the leadership position of pro tempore in the House and Senate.

    Over the years, Broome has been recognized for her service and leadership by a number of organizations including the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Louisiana Health Freedom Coalition, the American Heart Association, Every Child Matters, Morehouse College – just to name a few.


    “This Founders’ Day commemoration is especially meaningful as we honor the hope and perseverance of early public servants whose brave and historic efforts chartered what was established 137 years ago in the city of New Orleans — Southern University. Their legacy is remembered as we recognize the continuing contributions of many our officeholders whose education was made possible by our Founders,” said Ray L. Belton, SU System president-chancellor.

     

    About the SU System Commemorative History
     

    Delegates P.B.S. Pinchback, T.T. Allain, T.B. Stamps, and Henry Demas sponsored the movement in Louisiana for an equal opportunity institution of higher learning in the 1879 Louisiana State Constitutional Convention. Their efforts resulted in the establishment of this institution for the education of persons of color in New Orleans. Southern University, chartered by Legislative Act 87 in April 1880, had a 12-member Board of Trustees. The act provided for the establishment of a faculty of “arts and letters’ competent in “every branch of liberal education.” The charter sought to open doors of state higher education to all “persons competent and deserving.” Southern opened with 12 students and a $10,000 appropriation. With the passage of the 1890 Morril Act, the University was reorganized to receive land-grant funds.

    In 1912, Legislative Act 118 authorizes the closing of Southern University in New Orleans, the sale of its property, and the reestablishment of the University on a new site. In 1914, the “new” Southern University opened in Scotlandville, Louisiana, receiving a portion of a $50,000 national land-grant appropriation Southern University in New Orleans and Southern University Shreveport were authorized by Legislative Acts 28 and 42 in 1956 and 1964 respectively. The Southern University Board of Supervisors, a management board authorized by the Louisiana Constitution of 1974, was created to govern the Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Shreveport campuses. In 1985, the A.A. Lenoir Law School was designated the Southern University Law School.  Dedicated in January 2002, the new Ashford O. Williams Hall is home to the fifth SU System campus, the Agricultural Research and Extension Center, which also is located in Baton Rouge.  

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    The Diabetic Kitchen to host 1st International 5K Walk/Run for a Cure of Diabetes, Alzheimer’s

    Members of The Diabetic Kitchen and the Village Members have teamed up to host a 5K Walk/Run to promote a greater awareness of Diabetes health and wellness, Saturday, April 8, 2017, in Coteau, La. The Run will begin and end at 7913 Champa Avenue, in the Lanexang Village.

    “Both groups realized that we’re facing an alarming increase in Diabetes and Diabetic-related illnesses by far too many family members and friends. This collaboration resulted in the opening of a door to a partnership. As a result, we formed an Information, Education, and Hope-Filled Outreach Pocket of Help for our communities and this 5K Walk/Run is an attempt to keep more and better interest in health and health care issues,” said Nathaniel Mitchell Sr., founder/CEO of The Diabetic Kitchen.

    The Event will begin with:
    Registration…………………………………7:00 am
    Prayer and Warm-up…………………….8:15 am
    Walk Begin………………………………….8:30 am

    Cost:
    Adults 18 and Over………………………$15.00
    Youth 12 – 18 Years Old………………..$10.00
    Teams of Five……………………………..$40.00
    Free for Youth 11 Years and Younger
    Booth Space………………………………..$20.00

    Contact: The Diabetic Kitchen, 337-519-3010

    ONLINE: www.thediabetickitchen.org
    The Diabetic Kitchen on Facebook

    Read more »
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    COMMENTARY: Take ‘alternative facts’ in small doses, avoid anxiety

    In a survey released earlier this month by the American Psychological Association, 57 percent of Americans say they are feeling more stress due to the current political climate, while 66 percent were stressed about the future of our nation and 49 percent were stressed about the outcome of the presidential election. In fact, 52 percent of Americans said the Presidential election was a very, or somewhat signi cant source of stress.

    Suffice it is to say that those who voted, and their candidate of choice won, are rejoicing that they participated in the process. On the other hand, those whose candidate did not win, are nonetheless pleased that they participated in the process.

    But the rhetoric has only just begun. Every news station that covers the political climate contributes to the dis-ease of rendering the “good, the bad and the ugly” as they see it. The problem is that the public is left to sift through what is true, not so true, or what is false, and then quell their emotions in the process, so as not to walk out of the door on their way to work, church, shopping or wherever shaking their heads or feeling “some kind of way.”

    So what is the public to do? This is what the therapist says: First, understand in your conscious self that the news must be taken in-the-moment with a recognition of the slant of the person who is delivering the information–or alternative facts. Whatever your opinion, there’s an argument for it.

    This counselor suggests that you take the information in small doses, avoiding an overdose that might cause anxiety, anger, and sleepless nights. Avoid indulging in deep political conversations on the job because it can potentially become devisive. Additionally, keep political conversations light at lunch. Remember, you do have to return to work.

    One of the things that has “made America great” is our ability to express our opinions. Lately, however, it is advised that we should know, more than ever, the company we keep. Less the “company we keep” might become the company that discards and shuts down the ability to express opinions. Opinions are like tires, someone said: at some point in time, EVERYBODY HAS ONE. Stress and anxiety are frequent invaders of our calm and even temperaments. It seems that we find ourselves doing more and more to avoid “flying off the handle” or stepping on someone else’s toes. While there are several causes to which we connect our stress levels, have you noticed that one of the prominent stressors, lately, is the current political climate?

    Here’s what the Counselor suggests:
    • Remember that however we think or feel, there’s a television or radio station that agrees with our slant. You might just want to listen to that station only.
    • Consider limiting your intake of caffeine so you won’t become edgy when someone says something that may cause disagreement or offense.
    • Take deep breaths and think about what you are going to say BEFORE you say it. After you say it is too late.
    • Get enough sleep so you won’t be cranky on the job. Turn in earlier and avoid letting the news or a disturbing movie be the last show you watch.
    • Remember that “opinions are like at tires; everybody has one.” Keep your cool and remind yourself that your opinion is the best one to YOU!

    By barbara w. green

    Certified counselor and minister in Baton Rouge. She is the author of The Parent Anointing and The Great One. Follow her on Facebook or at www. barbaragreenministries.org

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    Ponchatoula officials take water seriously

    Long known for its good water, Ponchatoula took it seriously last year when reports of isolated incidents of discoloration reached City Hall, ordering tests as well as reviewing the entire system’s history.

    To update the public on what is being done, Superintendent of Ponchatoula Sewerage and Water, Dave Opdenhoff, recently gave a behind-the-scenes tour of the department’s operation and history since his hiring in 1988.

    His career Navy background brought years of study and experience concerning water. One area of his work onboard ships was that of converting sea water to drinking water.

    He continued adding to his certifications in this field when, upon retiring from the Navy, he and his wife, the former Barbara McMurray, settled in Ponchatoula, her home town.

    The State of Louisiana certifies in five categories: water production, water distribution, water treatment, wastewater collection and wastewater treatment.

    Ponchatoula does not require a water treatment certification because it uses ground water only. Based on population, Ponchatoula requires Class Three certifications. Opdenhoff went beyond in his studies, earning Class Four certifications which qualify him to work in larger cities such as New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

    At the time of his employment, there were two water towers – one on Tower Road and one at Athletic Park. Water in the system flowed from east to west with that from Athletic Park mingling with water from Tower Road.

    There were no government requirements to disinfect water and later, with the Federal Clean Water Act, came the stipulation cities could maintain their systems without disinfecting if testing showed no negative results.

    There had never been any negative results in Ponchatoula’s water but “seeing the handwriting on the wall” and learning it was just a matter of time before disinfecting would be required, the City starting injecting chlorine some twenty years ago.

    The water was occasionally discolored but it was never a matter of publicity because every municipality had (and has) discoloration at times. Back then, the remedy was a simple matter of opening a fire hydrant and flushing.

    After Katrina’s population explosion, Mayor Bob Zabbia made the decision to add an additional water well for storage.

    Katrina brought a lot of unexpected things to light, one such, not enough emergency generators. With lessons learned from the magnitude of the storm, the town’s planning included applying for and receiving grants to equip about 90% sewerage pumping stations with emergency back-up generators.

    The next step at this point, Zabbia and the City Council began the search for a site for the new well to help meet the needs of the growing population.

    After negotiating with Melvin Allen, DDS, whose dental office was on a tract of land on Highway 51 North, the city procured a parcel of this land to drill the new well and construct a tower at the same location.

    After construction began, when it was determined the parcel of land was not large enough to accommodate the tower, no additional land there could be purchased; thus, the city then bought land from Ed Hoover across 51 North with sufficient room to construct the new water tower. With its being built about the time of Walmart’s arrival, many residents mistakenly thought Walmart built or paid for the tower but it was all funded and paid for by the City with State Capital Outlay funds.

    New Well Causes Challenges

    With the new tower came a couple of problems: 1. Its water flowed from west to east and this “stirring” caused occasional complaints of discolored water. 2. In 2014, the state changed chlorine requirements because of brain-eating amoeba. This increased the levels from “trace” amounts of chlorine to “0.5 parts per million” at the end of the system. Opdenhoff added he believes Louisiana has the highest mandated residual chlorine amounts in the nation.

    This was the beginning of the severe discoloration problem and the old habits of flushing fire hydrants in selected areas no longer worked.

    One of the biggest puzzles was (and is) why the water of side-by-side neighbors differs. Neighbor A has discolored water and next-door Neighbor B has perfectly clear water.

    Trying to figure this out was running officials “crazy” and they called in a reputable expert, knowledgeable in the field of water who works with the state and numerous municipalities, Bill Travis of Thornton, Musso, and Bellemin, Inc., based in Zachary, La.

    After studies and testing, Travis reached the conclusion that the towers at Athletic Park and Tower Road showed “no measurable amounts of manganese” but the new well on Veteran’s (U.S. 51) did.

    Also, numerous brown-water samples from residents were tested and showed “measurable amounts of manganese”.

    This new tower had been on-line about a year so now the entire distribution had manganese. At that time, the Athletic Park tower was out of service for rehabilitation so the majority of the water was being produced at the Hwy 51 well with the flow going from west to east, stirring the water more.

    The question became, “How to treat manganese?” This was not just a Ponchatoula problem but a parish and state problem.

    Problem Solving Begins

    The prescribed treatment was the use of a “sequestering” agent that is injected into the water.

    Manganese bonds with water molecules and cannot be seen or tasted. But, add chlorine, and the molecules come out of suspension and present as discoloration.

    Thus the city started with the sequestering agent and phosphate.

    Why phosphate?

    Our water is naturally super soft. When visitors or new residents come from the North, they are usually shocked when doing laundry with their usual amounts of detergent, they are overrun with suds. Or, when bathing, they can’t seem to rinse well from so much soap. The problem with “soft water” — it can be corrosive to pipes.  The water technicians ran “coupons” – steel/copper based on 30, 60, and 90 days, determining City water could be corrosive to pipes.

    Their recommendation was that in addition to chlorine, the remaining two wells have phosphate added. This is currently being done.

    Coupon testing continues to see if treatment is having an effect or if it needs to be increased or decreased.

    In addition to having water chemically analyzed and performing corrective actions, Ponchatoula has hired a firm to do a “modeling” of the water system based on information provided: pipe size, storage elevations, pumping, etc.

    This firm is creating a computer model which the city will be able to use to confirm pressure and flow at any location.

    Modeling will show things such as these: 1. If an area does not have the desired flow, it could mean a valve is closed or broken or the original map of piping is flawed. This will allow the City to pin-point the area and take corrective action. 2. It will enhance the fire department’s ability to fight fires plus help homeowners in another way as state insurance will use this in determining the fire department’s rating.

    An Electronic Help is Added

    Further aiding the City, Ponchatoula is one of a few municipalities in the area to have a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) System.

    This computerized system monitors the sewer system every two hours and the water system every two minutes. Instead of the prior countless trips made to twenty-plus locations day and night, now a large screen in Opdenhoff’s office shows each location complete with what each well is doing: how much water is being produced, volume in a tank, pressure, how much chlorine, etc. In addition, it gives the ability for his cell phone to turn a well on or off from wherever he is.

    Example: Recently SCADA showed a problem with a chlorine injection system, one that was unable to be done at the tank. Opdenhoff took that well out of service and it was out the entire time of the freeze. The two remaining wells kept volume and pressure exactly where they were supposed to be.

    While the well was down for repair to the injector, the City moved ahead with inspection of the tank. That was due this summer but with winter being the lowest use of water, a crew drained and inspected this tank on Tower Road that usually stores 300,000 gallons of water. This was the first time since its construction in 1982. Now it is recommended every five years.

    Workers were pleased and surprised at what was found in the tank: There was some accumulation of sand in the bottom, stains on walls, and rust in the roof, less than expected.

    While the well is down and tank drained, a hired company will come in to pressure wash, super-chlorinate, and identify what needs to be done for rehabilitation to that tower. (Rehab is scheduled for 2018 so that is from July 2017 forward. The evaluation will be sent to an engineering firm to design the scope and solicit bids for rehabilitation.)

    In the meantime, after cleaning, super chlorination and refilling the tank, it will sit for forty-eight hours before water samples will be taken and delivered to the Health Department in Amite for testing. Twenty-four hours later, a second sample will be taken and turned in. If no problems are found and the results come in early enough, the tank will be put back into service.

    The SCADA system does calculations and monthly reports on water usage and can compare rainwater and how much is getting into the sewer system. It has taken a year to get this far and only one site is left to be on-line.

    Occurrences Minimized

    The recent winter freeze came at a time of year when the normal use of water is at a low of 850,000 gallons a day; but customers dripping faucets to prevent broken pipes used over two-million gallons each day of the freezing temperatures. With all this use, the city did not flush any lines and the few reports of discolored water were not unusual in any municipalities after dripping faucets. Next item the City is addressing is a “soft” flush of all fire hydrants to clear the stems of each before the major flushing of the system. This “soft” flush already has begun in the southwest section and will continue across the City by section. The major flushing will be conducted after the modeling maps are completed so the system can isolate areas and flush without disturbing the entire system.

    Further learned, no water provider can ever guarantee no discolored water. Such things as a house fire, a broken pipe, filling of water tanks from fire hydrants by commercial businesses (without asking) can stir water systems enough to cause discolored water. With the work that has been accomplished over the past couple of years and the final system-flushing, incidents of discolored water should be few and far between.

    Meanwhile, Opdenhoff explained the rehabilitation work done on the Athletic Park Tower. From the ground below, the average person can see only the nice shiny paint job, but much more was done. Rusted-out areas of the catwalks were removed and replaced. Ladders inside and out were removed and replaced to meet current safety codes. Workers replaced the rusted-out top vent and enlarged the overflow pipe along with rewelding the fill pipe outside the tank, replaced all threaded fasteners, removed all finishes inside and out to bare metal to ensure no remnants of lead paint remained before priming and painting.

    In addition to the tank rehabilitation, the electrical system was upgraded from the 1963 equipment to the most up-to-date electronic equipment.

    With normal inspections of the tank at five-year intervals, any minor issues can be addressed and this rehab should keep the tank in service for at least the next twenty years.

    The City requests that any citizen with a water problem contact Ponchatoula City Hall at 386-6484.

    By Kathryn Martin
    Special to The Drum

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    Lawmakers attack Obama’s education law

    Educators nationwide are voicing concern following a push by Republicans in Congress to overturn accountability regulations for ESSA which could have far-reaching consequences for how the law works in states.

    Groups supporting the move argue that it would free schools from unnecessary burdens, while opponents contend that overturning the rules could hurt vulnerable students and create turmoil in states and districts trying to finalize their transition to ESSA.

    ESSA, which also reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), received bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Barack Obama on December 10, 2015. The regulations are administered by the U.S. Department of Education and ESSA goes into full effect at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year.

    Under the 2015 law that replaced the No Child Left Behind Act, each state will adhere to more flexible federal regulations that provide for improved elementary and secondary education in the nation’s public schools.

    “The ESSA law was established to help increase the effectiveness of public education in every state,” said Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., the president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. “Our task is to inform, inspire, and encourage parents, students, teachers, and administrators to fulfill the intent and objectives of ESSA with special focus on those students and communities that have been marginalized and underserved by the education system across the nation.”

    Last week, the House of Representatives approved a joint resolution that would overturn ESSA accountability rules issued by the Obama administration.

    Those rules, which became final in November, are intended to detail for states the timeline for addressing underperforming schools, how schools must be rated, the ways English-language learners must be considered in state accountability plans, and other policy issues.

     

    “One of the things that should be included in any modification of ESSA is the fifth criteria for schools which is about school climate,” said Helen Levy-Myers, founder and CEO of Athena’s Workshop, Inc., a texting application for educators. School attendance is often dependent on other factors, like the friendliness of the staff, school leadership, safety of the school and neighborhood, health of the community, and the level of engagement between students and teachers, she said.

    A white paper presented by Levy-Myers noted that the “cold, hard truth is that chronically absent children end up leading harder lives.”

    Students who miss just two or three days each month in kindergarten and first grade never catch up. They become chronically absent, defined as missing 10 percent or more of the school year.

    While many Republican lawmakers have moved to strike down the implementation of ESSA, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told state school officers around the country that despite a delay, several regulations will be reviewed and changed by March 21.

    DeVos told the officers that state ESSA plans will still be accepted either in April or in September.

    In a memo to state school heads DeVos wrote: “Due to the regulatory delay and review, and the potential repeal of recent regulations by Congress, the Department is currently reviewing the regulatory requirements of consolidated State plans, as reflected in the current template, to ensure that they require only descriptions, information, assurances, and other materials that are absolutely necessary for consideration of a consolidated State plan.”

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    Top summer internship programs announced for 2017

    Many companies and organizations are already announcing that they are accepting applications for their upcoming internship programs.

    Nationwide — Many companies and organizations are already announcing that they are accepting applications for their upcoming internship programs. Here’s a list of the top 2017 summer internship programs for African Americans:

    #1 – The NBA Internship Program offers college students an exciting opportunity to use their skills and classroom learning within a national sports environment. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/10/nba-internship-program.html

    #2 – The NASCAR Diversity Internship Program is a 10-week, full-time, paid summer work opportunity for deserving students with an interest in the NASCAR industry. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/03/nascar-diversity-internship-program.html

    #3 – Black Enterprise Internships are designed to provide real-life work experiences for college students interested in a career in the media industry. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/10/black-enterprise-internships.html

    #4 – The NCAA Ethnic Minority and Women’s Internship offers an opportunity for a minority, female college student to be chosen for a unique two-year internship program. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/10/ncaa-ethnic-minority-and-womens.html

    #5 – The Minority Access Internship Program offers spring, summer and fall internships for college sophomores, juniors, seniors, graduates and professionals. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/05/minority-access-internship-program.html

    #6 – Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Internships are available for college students pursuing undergraduate associates or bachelors degrees. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/09/congressional-black-caucus-foundation.html

    #7 – Explore Microsoft Internship Program is for current college undergraduate minority students pursuing a degree in computer science or software engineering. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/04/Explore-Microsoft-Internship-Program.html

    #8 – BET Networks Internships provides paid internships for both undergraduate and graduate college students at five different locations.
    Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/09/bet-networks-internships.html

    #9 – The UNCF/NAACP Gateway to Leadership Internship Program is a 10-week paid summer internship for undergraduate students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/04/uncf-naacp-gateway-to-leadership-internship-program.html

    #10 – Google Internships is rated No. 1 by Forbes as the best internship opportunity for college students interested in a career in software engineering. Google offers an open culture and rich learning experience as well as good pay. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/02/google-internships_15.html

    #11 – The TV One Internship Program is open to full-time or part-time students attending an accredited college or university with an interest in a career in the media industry. TV One, one of the largest African American cable networks. Internships are offered to undergraduate college students in the Fall, Spring and Summer. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/09/tv-one-internship-program_12.html

    #12 – Oracle offers a 8-week, paid internship for students who attend one of the 39-member historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The internships help students to gain knowledge and experience in the field of technology. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2014/01/oracle-diversity-internships_95.html

    #13 – The National Urban League Summer Internship Program offers internships to students who are interested in a career in the non-profit industry. The program provides an 8-week paid internship for college students in either New York City or Washington, D.C. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/04/national-urban-league-summer-internship_8.html

    #14 – The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) offers internships to minority students interested in pursuing a future career in journalism. Applicants selected for a 10-week internship will be offered positions in print, broadcast or online disciplines at selected news organizations across the country. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2016/11/nabj-internships.html

    #15 – The Essence Communications Internship is a 9-week, paid internship is open to both undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in a career in the media industry. Candidates must have a strong interest in issues among African American women.
    Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/10/essence-communications-internship_73.html

    #16 – The Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP) offers a full-time summer work experience for college students pursuing a career in advertising. Eligible students must be Asian/Asian American, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, Black/African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Multiracial or Multi-ethnic. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/05/multicultural-advertising-intern-program_5.html

    #17 – Merck offers 9-11 week internships are available to college students in the areas of research & development, sales & marketing, information technology, human resources, communications, finance and legal, as well as internships in biology and chemistry. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/03/merck-internships_1.html

    #18 – General Motors offers internships in the areas of communications, finance, information technology, marketing, engineering, manufacturing, health and safety. The internships offer a paid opportunity for students to receive a challenging work experience in the automotive industry. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/04/general-motors-internships_33.html

    #19 – DELL Computers offers 10-12 week internships during the summer for undergraduate and graduate students in the areas of marketing and sales, finance and accounting, IT and more. Internships provide real-world experience for college students while they are still in school. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2014/01/dell-internships_9.html

    #20 – PricewaterhouseCoopers offers more than 700 internships each year across 29 countries for college students majoring in accounting and finance. Students will work with highly skilled professionals and receive a realistic insight into the accounting and finance profession. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/03/pricewaterhousecoopers-internships_67.html

    To view more 2017 minority summer internships, visit:
    www.findinternships.com/search/label/Minorities

    To search hundreds of other 2017 summer internships, visit:
    www.FindInternships.com

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    Madam Mayor: Meet Louisiana’s Black Female Mayors

    Village of Mansfield mayor Dessie Lee Patterson was known across Louisiana as a lone ranger in her fight for universal civil rights. On March 14, 1971, she became the first Black female to serve as mayor in the state when she was appointed to fill an unexpired term in the Village of South Mansfield. Prior to becoming Mayor she was involved in politics and community activism decades earlier. Patterson was one of the pioneers in the Civil Rights Movement in the local area. She joined federal officials in the 1950s and 1960s to encourage Blacks to vote since elections in South Mansfield  were hampered by the lack of registered voters.

    Louisiana's first Black female mayor Dessie Lee Patterson of Mansfield.

    Louisiana’s first Black female mayor Dessie Lee Patterson of Mansfield.

    Patterson was murdered Tuesday, March 11, 2008. Born July 6, 1919, the 88-year-old community servant was brutally stabbed to death by suspected killer, Bobby Harris for $200 in $1 bills. “The small amount of money he took makes it even more senseless and tragic,” family said to reporters at the time. Her term was set to expire in December 2008. Patterson was described as a sweet-spirited person who gave her life for this community and worked tirelessly in her role as mayor.

    “The story of how she got into office and what has happen to her since provides a classic illustration of trials and tribulation suffered by African Americans in some parts of the country when they aspire to be an elected officials,” wrote her grandson, Kerwan Reed, in a tribute. “As we look forward to our future we must not loose sight of those who paved the way for us.” Because of Patterson, the state now has 17, Black female mayors serving in large cities, villages, and towns.

    The mayors are: Sharon Weston Broome of Baton Rouge, Lori Ann Bell of the Town of Clinton, Irma Gordon of the Town of Kentwood, Erana Mayes of Melville, Trashier Keysha Robinson of the Village of Tangipahoa, Ollie Tyler of Shreveport, Shaterral Johnson of Grand Coteau, Demi Vorise of Maringouin, Jennifer Vidrine of Ville Platte, Johnnie Taylor of Powhatan, Josephine Taylor-Washington of Clayton, Rose Humphrey of Natchez, Alma Moore of the Town of Boyce, April Foulard of Jeanerette, Donna Lewis Lancelin of Baldwin, Dorothy Satcher of Saline, and Wanda McCoy of Rosalind.

    “This class of Black women mayors represents the single largest group to serve the state simultaneously,” said Vernon “Step” Martin, president of the Louisiana Municipal Black Caucus Association who, along with The Network Coalition, honored the mayors. They gathered at Star Hill Baptist Church, Feb. 23, for a special Black History Month salute.

    Meet some of the current Black, female mayors of Louisiana.

    Photo: Mayors Irma Gordon, Lori Bell, Shaterral Johnson, Sharon Weston Broome, Erana Mayes, and Trashier Keysha Robinson are among the 17 Black, female mayors of Louisiana, the largest group in the state’s history. Photo by Sailor Jackson.

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    Small farmers gather for annual conference on innovations, resilience

     Small farmers from throughout the state will gather at the Southern University Ag Center March 16-18 to attend the 7th annual Louisiana Small Farmer Conference.

    The three-day conference, themed “Innovations and Resilience for Louisiana Small Family Farms,” is designed to educate, provide expanded awareness of educational opportunities, USDA programs and services and other resources to help small farmers stay in business.

     Registration for the conference is complimentary for anyone who submits their registration form by Friday, March 3. On-site registration will begin at 8am.

     Conference speakers will include Jay Grymes, chief meteorologist at WAFB News Channel 9; Brandon Davis, agriculture labor attorney at Phelps Dunbar, LLC.; Leonard Jordan, associate chief for conservation at the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); and Brennan Washington, minority farmer/ outreach specialist at the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE).

    Session during the conference will include:

    • Drone Demonstrations
    • Grant Writing
    • Soil Health
    • Farm Labor
    • Marketing

    This event is the ideal venue for new and beginning farmers, small and urban farmers, agricultural business owners, community leaders, backyard gardeners and community based organizations.

    Other events occurring during the conference will include the Louisiana Living Legends Banquet, which honors individuals who have made significant contributions to Southern University in the areas of Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences, and the graduation ceremony for the 2016 Class of the Louisiana Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Institute.

    To register, visit http://www.suagcenter.com/small-farmers or contact Kelli Hollins at 225-771-2242 or e-mail kelli_hollins@suagcenter.com.

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    Meet the Players; Louisiana’s longest known married couple

    Since January 27, 1935, Lawrence and Varrie Player, of Benton, La., have been together, making them Louisiana’s longest-known married couple. They have been married 82 years. Last year they were honored by the Louisiana Family Forum during a reception at their home.. The second-longest married couple is Will Henry and Virgina Teasley, of Bryceland, who have been married for 80 years.

    State Rep. Mike Johnson presents Lawrence and Varrie Player with an award as the Louisiana Family Forum's longest married couple during a special reception in their honor on Feb 12, 2016. Mike Johnson photo.

    State Rep. Mike Johnson presents Lawrence and Varrie Player with an award as the Louisiana Family Forum’s longest married couple during a special reception in their honor on Feb 12, 2016. Mike Johnson photo.

    “It is a true delight to honor these two great couples for their examples and their commitment,” State Rep. Mike Johnson said.  “In a day when the stability of so many marriages and families is in jeopardy, these folks stand out as exceptional models for all of us.”

    The longest-known married couples are honored by Louisiana Family Forum to encourage individual marriages, build a stronger marriage culture and to remind those in the state that lifelong marriages benefit everyone. Each couple was presented an official statement of special recognition from Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. Their names also are entered into Louisiana Family Forum’s Marriage Hall of Fame.

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    Southern calls Town Hall to discuss medical marijuana venture

    The Southern University land-grant campus–consisting of the SU Ag Center and College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences–will host a Medical Marijuana Town Hall on Feb. 23, at 2pm in the Southern University Ag Center, A. O. Williams Hall, 181 B. A. Little Drive in Baton Rouge.

    The meeting will provide an overview of the land-grant campus’ medical marijuana venture.

    Potential vendors and the public are invited to attend. Individuals must pre-register to attend the meeting by visiting www.suagcenter.com/townhall.

    The land-grant campus is requesting that all questions from vendors regarding the Medical Marijuana Program be emailed in advance to Janana Snowden, Ph.D., at janana_snowden@suagcenter.com. The deadline to submit questions is at noon on February 21. All questions received will be addressed during the Town Hall.

     

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    New Venture Theatre brings visceral drama with ‘Dot’

    Venture Theatre keeps this season’s momentum going with Colman Domingo’s “Dot” at the LSU Studio Theatre March 15-19.

    Domingo’s “Dot” is a play unafraid to delve into aspects of life that can be both side-splittingly funny and shake the audience to the core. Dotty and her three adult children come together for the holidays as they do every year, but this time, the Shealey house will be grappling with more than exchanging gifts. The aging matriarch struggles with her fading memory, and her children seek to juggle taking care of their mother and caring for themselves. New Venture Theatre will bring to life this poignant comedic drama that tackles aging parents and midlife crises-all while showing the power of familial love.

    Performances are scheduled for Wednesday, March 15, through Saturday, March 18, at 7:30pm., and then Sunday, March 19, at 3pm. All performances will be held in the LSU Studio Theatre on the Louisiana State University campus.

    INFO

    WHERE: LSU Studio Theatre Louisiana State University 105 Music and Dramatic Building Baton Rouge, LA 70803

    DATES: Wednesday, March 15 at 7:30pm Thursday, March 16 at 7:30 pm Friday, March 17 at 7:30 pm Saturday, March 18 at 7:30pm Sunday, March 19 at 3pm

    SHOW RATING: Contains: Some adult content/themes. Recommended for ages 13 and up. No one under the age of four will be allowed in the theatre and all children ages 4-13 must be accompanied by an adult.

    HOW TO GET TICKETS: Call the box office at 225-588-7576, or visit nvtarts.org

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    BRCC ultrasound students seek volunteers for free exams

    The Diagnostic Medical Sonography (Ultrasound) program at Baton Rouge Community College is seeking volunteers for ultrasound exams. The exams will be conducted by students enrolled in the ultrasound program under the direct supervision of course instructors who are Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (RDMS).

    All volunteers must be at least 18 years of age, with pregnant volunteers being especially desirable. Exams must be scheduled by appointment. To schedule an appointment, or to ask questions, call Mike Beauford at (225) 216- 8046 or Richard Goldsmith at (225) 216-8498. If there is no answer, leave a voicemail with your first and last name, phone number and state your exam of interest.

    General exams offered include the Abdominal Ultrasound for those who experience pain on the right side after eating. Individuals interested in participating must fast – no food for six hours prior to exam. Obstetric Ultrasounds are available for women who are at least 10 weeks pregnant. Volunteers may bring a flash drive to save ultrasound photos. The Carotid Artery Ultrasound is available for those who want to screen for risk of stroke.

    Exams available for interested volunteers who are age 50 and older include the Ultrasound of Arm and/or Leg Arteries to check circulation for PAD -Peripheral Arterial Disease; Ultrasound of Arm and Leg Veins to check veins for leg swelling or varicose veins; and Ultrasound of the Thyroid, the gland in the neck that regulates metabolism.

    For Carotid Artery and Thyroid scans, volunteers should wear shirts with loose collars; for leg scans, volunteers should wear shorts that can be pulled up thigh high; and for arm scans, volunteers should wear T-shirts.

    The Diagnostic Medical Sonography program, located at BRCC’s Frazier site, 555 Julia St., Baton Rouge, always seeks volunteers for students to practice exams. Anyone not immediately interested may contact the department for further information.

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  • AKA hosted 300 for MLK Unity Breakfast

    Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated®, Gamma Eta Omega Chapter and L’Auberge Casino & Hotel Baton Rouge partnered to host the Second Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Breakfast on Monday, Jan. 16, in the L’Auberge Event Center. The breakfast was attended by elected officials, community and business leaders, local law enforcement officers, community members, L’Auberge staff, high school and college students, and members of the Panhellenic Council which encompasses nine historically Black Greek- lettered organizations.

    More than 300 attendees were welcomed by Gwendolyn Thomas, Gamma Eta Omega chapter president, and Mickey Parenton, L’Auberge senior vice president of operations and general manager. Greetings were extended by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® South Central Regional Director Katina Semien, Esq., and State Representative Patricia Haynes Smith was guest speaker. Attendees enjoyed a full course breakfast then united in prayers by Reverend Linda Joseph, assistant pastor Neely United Methodist Church and the Reverend Glorious Wright, assistant pastor Saint Mark United Methodist Church. Presentation of colors was performed by Southern University Army ROTC. The John Gray Band provided entertainment along with National Anthem sang by Mavis Henderson-Lewis. LaChondria Holder and Pamela Honoré served as committee chair.

    Following the breakfast, Gamma Eta Omega Chapter members participated in two community service projects: Hope Ministries and The Walls Project.

    Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® (AKA) is an international service organization that was founded on the campus of Howard University in Washington, DC in 1908. It is the oldest Greek-lettered organization established by African-American, college-educated women. Alpha Kappa Alpha is comprised of more than 290,000 members in approximately 993 graduate and undergraduate chapters in the United States, Liberia, the Bahamas, the US Virgin Islands, Germany, South Korea, Bermuda, Japan, Canada, South Africa and the Middle East. Led by International President Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson, L.H.D., Alpha Kappa Alpha is often hailed as “America’s premier Greek-lettered organization for African-American women.”

    ONLINE: www.aka1908.com

    Submitted by LaChondria Holder

     

    Pictured are (l to r): Pamela Honoré, committee chairman; Gwendolyn Thomas, president, Gamma Eta Omega Chapter; Mickey Parenton, senior vice president of operations and general manager, L’Auberge Casino & Hotel Baton Rouge; Rep. Patricia Haynes Smith, (Dist. 61); Katina Semien, Esq., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated®, South Central Regional Director; and LaChondria Holder, committee chair

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    FEMA releases Louisiana recovery numbers

    About $4.7 billion in federal disaster assistance has flowed to Louisiana after the August flood.

    • The National Flood Insurance Program has paid more than $2.3 billion in claims
    • SBA loans have been approved for more than $1.2 billion to help businesses, private nonprofits, homeowners and renters.
    • FEMA has obligated $756 million to individuals and households and $294 million to public assistance.
    • The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved $133 million in food benefits to flood survivors.

    Individuals and Housing Program (IHP)

    • $755 million has been approved for individual and housing assistance.
    • Other Needs Assistance (ONA)
    • 42,227 households have been approved for $161 million in other needs assistance.

    Rental Assistance

    • $134 million cumulative total for approved rental assistance.
    • 66,805 households are eligible.

    Home Repair Assistance

    • 34,757 households are eligible for $456 million.

    Public Assistance (PA)

    • 301 project worksheets have been obligated for $294 million.
    • $60 million of that amount pays for temporary facilities for schools and to clean and remove flood debris.

    Transitional Sheltering Assistance

    • 4,332 cumulative survivors have been checked in for TSA.
    • 968 households are checked into 175 hotels in three states.

    Department of Agriculture

    • USDA approved $133 million in food benefits to flood survivors.

    National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

    • More than $2.3 billion in claims has been paid.
    • More than 28,000 claims have been closed.

    Small Business Administration (SBA)

    • 17,223 SBA loans have been approved for more than $1.2 billion to help businesses, private nonprofits, homeowners and renters.

    Manufactured Housing Units (MHUs)

    • 4,060 households licensed-into 4,192 manufactured housing units.

    Total projection for MHU installation is 4,502.

    Read more »
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    Museum presents ‘The Thibodaux Massacre’ Book Tour, Feb. 18

    For the first time ever, a limited number of people will experience live, the on-site telling of a key story hidden from people of Louisiana. Join us for this unique tour with the author who recently verified and chronicled the story in his book, The Thibodaux Massacre. The Feb. 18 tour will begin at 10 am from the Road African American Museum, 406 Charles Street, Donaldsonville, and continue down Bayou Lafourche to Thibodaux, returning to Donaldsonville at 3 pm.

    As part of its “When History Hurts” program, the River Road African American Museum (RRAAM) is sponsoring a day-long bus tour of Louisiana’s sugar cane country, which will include the site where striking Black laborers were buried after a mass murder that ended an 1887 tri-parish strike. The incident has since become known as the Thibodaux Massacre. John DeSantis, author of ‘The Thibodaux Massacre: Racial Violence and the 1887 Sugar Cane Labor Strike,” will share vivid details of this history and other events from a chartered bus making stops at locations relevant to the story. The tour includes a stop in Thibodaux where victims of the massacre are believed buried, where plans are afoot for archeological exploration by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

    Critically acclaimed for its thorough research, the book is interwoven with the story of Jack Conrad, a former Lafourche Parish slave who joined the U.S. Army during the Civil War. After fighting for his freedom with other Black soldiers, he is wounded in the massacre 22 years later while watching vigilantes kill his son and others participating in the strike.

    “Much of this hurtful history until now has been unknown,” said DeSantis. “This is a story of empowerment, because 25 years after emancipation these courageous people dared standing up to an oppressive culture of white supremacy.”

    The tour is limited to 55 people and the tour price is $75 which includes:
    * A signed copy of the book, The Thibodaux Massacre
    * Lunch 
    * A tour of the River Road African American Museum
    * A private bus tour narrated by the author

    The museum’s director, Kathe Hambrick, said this special tour is meant to be “a healing tour” in the memory of those resilient sugar workers who lost their lives fighting for fare wages and equality. The history is painful, but we cannot move forward with reconciliation until there is acknowledgement of the injustices that happened right here in our own communities.

    For more information, call 225-206-1225.

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    ‘Bloodline’ earns Kenny Neal Grammy nomination

    Louisiana’s swamp blues master and multi-instrumentalist Kenny Neal’s latest album “Bloodline” has clinched a 2017 Grammy nomination for best contemporary blues album.

    Born in 1957 in New Orleans and raised in Baton Rouge, Neal began playing music at a very young age, learning the basics from his father, singer and blues harmonica player, Raful Neal. Family friends like Lazy Lester, Buddy Guy and Slim Harpo contributed to Kenny’s early musical education. At 13, he joined his father’s band and, four years later, he was recruited and toured extensively as Buddy Guy’s bass player.

    image

    Kenny Neal horizontal by James Terry III.jpg

    A member of the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame and a multi-award winning talent, Neal has shared the stage or worked with a who’s-who list of blues and R&B greats, including B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Muddy Waters, Aaron Neville, Buddy Guy and John Lee Hooker. Since signing with Alligator Records in 1988, Neal has released a series of consistently lauded albums featuring his laid-back, Baton Rouge blues, with a modern spin on the Louisiana sound he grew up with.

    “One of a mere handful of truly inventive young contemporary guitarists, Neal has something fresh to say and the chops with which to say it,” wrote The Chicago Tribune.

    Blues Revue agreed, calling Kenny “one of the brightest young stars on the blues horizon, and a gifted artist.”

    According to Cleopatra Records, Neal has never sounded better than he does on ‘Bloodline,’ offering some of the most moving songwriting and electric performances of his incredible career. Eight members of the Neal clan lend their musical talents to the album, making it a true family affair and proving beyond doubt that the blues is most definitely in Neal’s Bloodline.

    ONLINE: http://kennyneal.net

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    Police ‘use of force’ changes, new policies recommended to take effect immediately

    To fulfill her commitment to close the gap between law enforcement and the community, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome has been meeting with law enforcement officials and community leaders over the past several weeks.

    As a result of this collaborative effort, the Mayor’s Advisory Council on Law Enforcement and Community Service and Protection is recommending policy changes occur within the Baton Rouge Police Department that align with national best practices surrounding use of force.

    “We believe that the implementation of these policy changes will enhance existing BRPD policies and compliment academy and in-service training,” Broome said.

    The following are the agreed upon policy changes. These changes in policy will take place immediately.

    · Officers are required to give a verbal warning, before using deadly force, except where there are exigent circumstances.
    · Officers are required to de-escalate situations, when possible, before using force.  De-escalation strategies include disengagement, area containment, waiting out a subject, summoning reinforcements, calling in specialized units or employing other strategies.
    · Officers will not employ chokeholds or strangleholds, except in emergency circumstances where it is immediately necessary to use deadly force and the authorized weapons are inoperable, inaccessible or otherwise not available.
    · Officers are prohibited from discharging a firearm at a moving vehicle unless the vehicle or the persons within the vehicle pose an immediate deadly threat to others.
    · Officers will be required to intervene to prevent another officer from using excessive force and to immediately report when they observe the use of excessive force by another officer.

    The Mayor’s Advisory Council on Law Enforcement and Community Service and Protection include:  Fr. Rick Andrus, Rev. Robin McCullough-Bade, Broderick Bagert, Attorney Alfreda Tillman Bester, Constable Reginald Brown, Renee’ Brown, Gary Chambers, Councilman Lamont Cole,  Kelvin A. Cryer, Chief Carl Dabadie, Mark Dumaine,  Cleve Dunn Jr., Col. Mike Edmonson, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, Casey Hicks, Pastor Donald Hunter, Josh Howard, Mary Jane Marcantel,  E.J. Milton, Michael A.V. Mitchell, Tonja Myles, Rev. Reginald Pitcher, Joyce Plummer, Arthur Reed,  Dereck Rovaris PhD, Michael W. Victorian, Pastor Charles Wallace, Pastor Lee T. Wesley, and Katara Williams Ph.D.

                                                                                                        

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    COMMENTARY: Congress should strengthen safety net

    Our new president and Congress have vowed to stand up and defend the interests of ordinary Americans who feel left behind by deepening economic inequality. But actions speak louder than words.

    More than 43 million Americans still live below the poverty line in this country, and that number would actually be twice as high if not for federal anti-poverty policies. So it’s truly puzzling that some members of Congress are preparing to attack key pillars of our safety net programs; programs their constituents depend on to survive, like SNAP (formerly food stamps) and Medicaid.

    Now more than ever, we need to focus on helping hardworking people across the country make ends meet, not put up roadblocks in their way. We must stand up against schemes to “block grant” health and anti-poverty programs and efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. I hope we can count on our elected officials to reject any proposals that undo what we know works.

    By Rachid Ouedraogo

     

     

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    South Baton Rouge history captured in new book

    The history of South Baton Rouge from antebellum America until the historic 2016 visit by President Barack Obama is the focus of a new book by LSU professor Lori Latrice Martin, PhD, and the Reverend Raymond A. Jetson.

    South Baton Rouge, sometimes referred to as Old South Baton Rouge, was one of the first places Blacks could earn a high school education in Louisiana. The three-mile community around historic McKinley High School was the site of the nation’s first successful bus boycott. When laws restricted where Blacks could live, work, learn, and play, South Baton Rouge was a refuge.

    Black-owned restaurants, theaters, gas stations, and other businesses populated the community, and change-makers–including Black lawyers, judges, clergy, educators, and nurses–helped to sustain the community and other portions of the southern half of Baton Rouge through the end of legal segregation and beyond.

    The book, Images of America: South Baton Rouge includes over a hundred images of free people of color, historic businesses, faith-based institutions, political figures, the 1953 Baton Rouge bus boycott, and the dedication of the Toni Morrison Society’s Bench by the Road at McKinley High School Alumni Center.
    image

    “As the city celebrates the 200th anniversary of its incorporation, we want to make sure that the history and contributions of Black communities, such as South Baton Rouge, are not forgotten,” said Martin.

    She is associate professor of African and African American Studies and sociology at Louisiana State University, and Jetson, is pastor of Star Hill Church and CEO of MetroMorphosis in Baton Rouge.

    Read more »
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    Same Crime, Different Punishment; Together Baton Rouge to report on BRPD enforcement disparities

    Tomorrow at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, Together Baton Rouge will release an analysis of neighborhood disparities in the Baton Rouge Police Department’s enforcement of drug possession laws between January 2011 and January 2017.

    According to the Reverend Lee T. Wesley, the goal of the study is to improve the quality and depth of the police reform discussion in Baton Rouge.

    “We figured we could either sit around and wait for the Department of Justice to make some contribution, or we could start to act for ourselves at the local level,” said Wesley, who is an executive committee member of Together Baton Rouge. “Our first step has been to take a close look at this very important aspect of policing in our community and how it can be improved.”

    The report examines drug enforcement disparities by calculating BRPD enforcement rates for drug possession on a per capita basis at the zip code level and assesses the proportionality of those enforcement rates by comparing them to the prevalence of illegal drug use in that zip code.

    It also examines the extent to which drug enforcement disparities correlate with neighborhood demographics, including the racial composition of a neighborhood, its poverty level, median income, home values, education level and crime rates.

    Read more »
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    Local Links chapters to announce partnership to support SU

    Two local chapters of The Links, Incorporated will come together to officially announce a partnership with Southern University through the national organization’s Historically Black Colleges And Universities (HBCU) Initiative.

    Officers of the Baton Rouge and La Capitale Chapters of The Links, Incorporated will make a formal announcement of a collaboration that will support the University in increasing graduation rates, providing scholarships, and promoting STEM programs, Tuesday, January 31, 9 am, in the Donald C. Wade House on the Baton Rouge campus.

    “Institutions of higher education have a vested interest in building strong relationships with organizations that serve to build a better community. Southern University welcomes the opportunity to partner with The Links in furthering our mutual goals to strengthen HBCUs,” said Ray L. Belton, Ph.D. president-chancellor, Southern University and A&M College.

    The Links, Incorporated’s HBCU Initiative focuses on addressing the critical needs of the community through transformational programming to increase high school and college graduation rates, awarding college scholarships and endowments, and promoting and supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

    The program features hosting HBCU college fairs and other events in each geographic region, promoting and encouraging connections with an HBCU and its STEM programs, mentoring and recruiting students to attend and complete HBCUs, identifying opportunities to support faculty research and/or professional development, and contributing to the sustainability of HBCU institutions.

    “As an organization committed to community service, The Links of the Baton Rouge area are excited to come together in support of one of the nation’s premier historically black universities,” said Yolanda Dixon and Paula Clayton, presidents of the Baton Rouge and La Capitale Chapters of The Links, Incorporated, respectively.

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  • Overlooked program available to assist crime victims

    Victims of violence and their families often must deal with the emotional, physical, and financial aftermath of violent crime. But few know that Louisiana’s Crime Victim Assistance Formula Grant Program was authorized under the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 to provide financial assistance for direct services to  victims of crime.

    Within the program, the Louisiana Crime Victims Reparations Fund helps pay for the financial cost of crime when victims have no other means of paying. Private, nonprofit agencies and local units of government are awarded grants to help victims of spousal abuse, sexual assault, and child abuse. Grants also help previously underserved victims. The program requires agencies to encourage reporting the crime to law enforcement and to provide cash or in-kind match to assist victims with filing for compensation through the Crime Victims Reparations Program at local sheriffs’ offices.

     Funds are administered by the Crime Victims Reparations Board under the jurisdiction of the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement.

    Victims of crime seeking assistance, should call 1-888-6-VICTIM (1-888-684-2846) or visit http://www.lcle.state.la.us/programs/cvr.asp

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    N.O. Mother pens book hoping to help others whose sons were killed by police

    When Delzorah Barnett first learned that her son had been shot and was in the hospital clinging to his life, she nearly had a panic attack. When she later learned that he was shot multiple times by officers with the Atlanta Police Department and that he more than likely wouldn’t make it, it took everything in her to not die in the hospital with her first-born child.

    “When I arrived (to the hospital) and began to get the details from my nephew, who was shot by the guys who caused the confusion that lead to officers showing up and killing my son, I was broken internally. I continued to pray,” said Barnett, a New Orleans native. “I did not know how to feel, so I began to get information from each witness individually and then I realized that the officers just ran up and opened fire and did not stop until my son was on the ground, and then one of them shot him again.”

    Her family gathered at the hospital every day to pray for her son, 30-year-old E. Zaus Barnett, and he started to get a little better. He eventually was able to tell her what happened. Most importantly, he said he never raised a gun to the officers.

    image

    E. Zaus Barnett,


    Unfortunately, her son never got well enough to leave the hospital and eventually died several weeks after the shooting. The two officers who shot him were never charged.

    “That was so, so painful to the point that I really did not think I would live, but I did. I put all my hope and faith in my Father God, and he guided my path to be strong for my other children, family and friends, to stand for justice in a peaceful manner and to encourage and empower others,” Barnett said.

    That tragic incident propelled Barnett, who goes by Mz. WORTHit, to turn her pain and anger into action. She now inspires women to know that they are WORTH (Women of Righteousness, Truth and Honor) it and started a nonprofit organization, Justice from A 2 Zaus. The organization stands against gun violence, excessive force and police brutality while promoting male mentorship and hosting positive response summits for young males in New Orleans, Atlanta and Fayetteville, N.C. She also wrote a book, The Darkness of the Aftermath Transformed to Light, that help restore her after the death of her son and that she is hoping will help heal the nation.

    “My book was written to heal the hearts of those who have lost loved ones and (to help them) understand that revenge or retaliation is not the answer, but forgiveness, trusting God—who is the final judge—and helping others to bring about change is the answer for any of us,” Barnett said.  “My book shows that life does bring pain, but we must become more connected to God, and then we can know how to fight, have peace and continue to love.”

    Barnett recognizes the destruction of the relationships between law enforcement and communities across the country with the international spotlight being on the deaths of people of color at the hands of police, but says it’s not too late to change the narrative.

    “I believe that we must get to the root of the problem, and that is that the justice system must be reassessed. We must make sure that justice is served across the board, regardless of status, race, title or position of a person,” she said. “We must become a society that desires life over death and holds every person accountable who does not consider saving lives. All law enforcement officers are not shooting to kill, therefore we must face the truth that there is a group of officers who apparently have a serious issue with males of color, and they use the ‘I felt my life was in danger’ (justification) when that is really not the case.”

    Barnett said she believes that healing begins with forgiveness and then taking the necessary steps to bring about change. She said

    even though she is pushing for peace, she is also pushing for communities to fight for what is right.

    “We cannot stop marching peacefully; we cannot stop being involved with organizations that are dealing with the real problems and bringing it to the right people. We must vote, show up at city council meetings, keep teaching our children to do right, get an education and become politicians, law enforcement officers and hold positions where we can be the change.”

    Her son’s untimely death thrust her into philanthropy. Justice from A 2 Zaus and her women’s group have helped countless people across the country. Her podcast “Positive Male Response and Inspirational Conversation with Mz. WORTHit” has inspired numerous young people. However, Barnett is just getting started.

    She is gearing up to do even more to help the nation heal. She urges parents who have lost children due to gun violence or police brutality to never give up.

    “You must call on God and heal and then fight from a place of victory that will impact and encourage others that love and peace will always overpower evil. I know they will, because I walk from a place of victory with peace, love and faith, and God has changed the lives of many through me,” she said. “He has lifted the hearts and minds of many through me, and He is changing situations through me, so if he can do it for me, he will do it for you!”

    Barnett has given copies of her book to parents who have lost their children in similar ways. 

    ONLINE: mzworthit.com
    ONLINE: a2zaus.com 

    Read more »
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    Mayor Broome announces six cabinet positions

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome announced several key staff positions in her new administration.

    Rowdy Gaudet will serve as an assistant chief administrative officer.  Gaudet currently works as the chief of staff for the Disaster Recovery Unit for the state of Louisiana and will join the administration in February. Gaudet has experience in government relations, business and economic development, infrastructure management, and strategic communications. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from McNeese State University and earned an MBA from Louisiana State University.

    James Gilmore, Ph.D., will serve as an assistant chief administrative officer. He formerly worked as the director of the Louisiana Children’s Cabinet in the office of Gov. John Bel Edwards. Gilmore has experience in human resources, training, and managing various workforce development and educational programs for a variety of organizations. Gilmore earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Southern University. He also earned a master’s degree in public administration and a Ph.D. in human resource education and workforce development from Louisiana State University.

    Tamiara Wade, Ph.D., will serve as an assistant chief administrative officer. Wade formerly worked as a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Learning Expert and Integration Manager. She facilitated the management of national partnering entities and provided administrative oversight to the development and implementation of federal programs.  Her experience is in research, policy, and academia.  Wade earned a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s degree in public administration and a Ph.D. in public policy and urban affairs from Southern University.

    Brian Bernard will serve as human esources Director. Bernard has worked as the Interim Human Resources Director for the City of Baton Rouge since 2012.  He has been employed with the city for 22 years.  He has  bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southern University.

    Carey Chauvin will continue to serve as development director, a position he’s held since 2015.  He has been employed with the City of Baton Rouge for 23 years. He is a graduate of Louisiana State University.

    Eric Romero will serve as the director of information services. Romero has served as interim director of information services for the past four years.  He has been employed with the City of Baton Rouge for 22 years. He is a graduate of Nicholls State University.

    “I’m excited to work with these highly-qualified individuals who will be a part of my new cabinet,” Broome said. “I’m confident that I have chosen the right people to help move this city forward.”

    Read more »
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    Elementary schools, Kids Orchestra create harmony

    15 Kids Orchestra Trumpets

    Baton Rouge’s Kids Orchestra is the largest elementary-age after school music program in the country. Last month, elementary students from Brownfields Magnet, Ryan Elementary, and J.K. Haynes Charter ensembles of wind and percussion instruments during their combined Neighborhood Concert.

    Now in its fifth year, Kids’ Orchestra provides opportunities for 800 kindergarten through fifth graders to study instrument and perform in an orchestra or sing in a choir. Students are given instruments on loan for the school year after paying a modest tuition.

    In group settings, kindergarten and first graders are introduced to musical concepts in the Foundations class. Second through fifth graders choose and study instruments in brass, percussion, strings and woodwinds. Vocal education and theory are essential in the K-6 choir program.
    15 Kids Orchestra main photo

    Kids’Orchestra offers mentorship, tutoring and homework help, and a healthy snack at each session to ensure each child is prepared for success regardless if they pursue music once graduating from our program.

    Each student has the opportunity to perform in Neighborhood Concert Series, while honors level students perform during Kids’ Orchestra three orchestras, two choirs, and special community performances.

    Kids’ Orchestra’s mission is to bring children of all cultures and backgrounds together using music education as a vehicle to foster teamwork, develop understanding and emphasize excellence.

    The program is modeled after the principles of El Sistema: fostering teamwork and understanding, crossing economic barriers, emphasizing excellence, and learning instrumental skills and brotherhood within the orchestral system.

    15 Kids Orchestra FlutesRecent research has shown that quality music instruction impacts academic achievement. Kids’ Orchestra offers high quality, standards-based music education designed to improve lifelong learning.

    Photos by Yusef Davis

    Read more »
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    Time2Testify Conference comes to Baton Rouge, Feb 23-25

    Bishop Dwight Pate will host the first Time2Testify Conference at the Baton Rouge Radisson Hotel, February 23-25. Registration is free.

    Since 1995, Pate has prayed over olive oil and sent more than 16 million bottles free of charge around the world. People have experienced the miraculous and are coming to Baton Rouge to celebrate the testimonies of GOD. “Now more than ever, people need to be encouraged that the GOD of the Bible is real and more than a two-hour church service on Sunday.”

    For more information call 800-266-5111 or go online to bishopdwightpate.com

    This news item was submitted online.

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    Divas, Daiquiris, Deals Networking Mixer opens to local female entrepreneurs

    This event is created to have an effective business networking mixer where female entrepreneurs can link together as individuals who, through trust and relationship building, become walking, talking advertisements for one another. While building these relationships, participants also get to enjoy dancing, daiquiris and entertainment. Admission is free. Vendor Spotlight tables are available at bit.ly/dddnetwork2017.

    Please invite your girlfriends out!

    This news item was submitted online.

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    School rep from flooded district meets with principals, partners to ‘move forward’

    EBR school board representative Dawn Chanet Collins hosted a New Year’s reception for the principals in East Baton Rouge Parish School System, District 4, with more than 50 residents and community stakeholders present on Jan. 18.

    Collins said participation in this Moving District 4 Forward event was “better than anticipated…The purpose of the event was to begin building a strong relationship between the schools in the area and the community – the village – because that is the only way the schools will truly prosper,” she said.

    “I promise to bring this type of event to the district at least once a year.  It’s so important.  Many parents in this area would like to see these schools enhanced so that some of the best programs the district has to offer are right here in their own back yards.  Right now, many parents feel compelled to send their kids to options on the other side of town,” Collins said.  “I’m excited about moving forward, and I believe this is something Superintendent Drake is eager to do as well.”

    Some highlights from the meeting included attendees being made aware that though both North Louisiana and South Louisiana experienced cataclysmic flooding in 2016, the Louisiana Department of Education has not made any provisions to accommodate students who have not been able to prepare for the state’s first mandatory computer-based testing this Spring. Drake has already reached out to the state for a waiver, and State Senator Regina Ashford-Barrow committed to working with her colleagues to address the issue.

    Some attendees committed to assisting District 4  schools by donating books and revisiting a partnership with Belair High to bring back the DECA Club.  “I know other partnerships will soon follow,” Collins said.

    image

    Dawn Collins, EBRP School Board Rep


    The district includes Belair High School, Brookstown Middle Magnet, Greenbrier Elementary, Howell Park Elementary, La Belle Aire Elementary, Northdale Superintendent’s Academy, Park Forest Elementary, Park Forest Middle, and Villa Del Rey Elementary. Six of them were damaged by the August 2016 flood.

    City Councilpersons Donna Collins-Lewis, Erika Green, and LaMont Cole; business owners Jason Gardner of Vivid Images, Jeremy Jackson of State Farm Insurance, and Denise Harris of REMAX Preferred Choice; public education advocates Rev. Reginald Pitcher and Anthony Troy Dennis; Johnny Anderson, deputy chief of staff for Governor John Bel Edwards; and Darlene Fields, Congressman Cedric Richmond’s representative for the Baton Rouge area attended the event at Baby Dolls Café on Greenwell Springs Road.

    Collins said she is planning to host meetings specifically for parents and caregivers who reside in or send their children to schools in District 4.

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  • Ms. Wheelchair Louisiana competition scheduled for Feb. 19

    Ms. Wheelchair Louisiana is an empowering event that honors women for their accomplishments and advocacy and redefines the concept of a pageant. The competition is designed to select a successful and articulate spokeswoman for people with disabilities. During her one-year reign, the pageant winner is expected to promote awareness of the need to eliminate architectural and attitudinal barriers, to educate Louisianans on disability issues and to inform the public of the achievements of people with disabilities across our great state. Ms. Wheelchair Louisiana also represents the state of Louisiana at the annual Ms. Wheelchair America pageant.

    To be eligible to compete for the title of Ms. Wheelchair Louisiana, one must meet the following criteria: be at least 21 years of age, utilize a wheelchair for 100% of their daily mobility, be a U.S. citizen and reside in Louisiana at least six months prior to the pageant. Marital status is not a factor.

    Ms. Wheelchair Louisiana Competition is scheduled for Sunday, February 19.

    MWLA was established in 2012 by Anita Gray, who was recently elected to serve as an executive board member of the Ms. Wheelchair America board of directors. If you are or you know someone interested in participating in the 2017 MWLA Competition, please contact Anita Gray at mswheelchairlouisiana@gmail.com.

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    Conference focused on special education starts Jan 30

    The Louisiana Council for Exceptional Children (LaCEC) will host its annual Super Conference on January 30-31, 2017, at the Cajundome Convention Center located at 444 Cajundome Blvd. in Lafayette, LA. The title of this year’s Super Conference is “To the Classroom and Beyond!” The program will include outstanding speakers for general and special educators, families, students, administrators, related service providers, paraprofessionals and postsecondary educators.

    First Lady Donna Edwards and Bambi Polotzola, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Disability Affairs, will present the LaCEC awards during the Super Conference.

    Click here for more information about Super Conference and to register.

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    Meet Renee Horton–another hidden figure

    Renee Horton, PhD, remembers spending many nights gazing at the stars as a child growing up in Baton Rouge, wondering if there was anything beyond our universe. Her interest in space was stimulated during family trips to Biloxi, Mississippi, to visit her uncle, who was in the Air Force. The family would stop at the rest area outside of the John Stennis Space Center — where a replica of the moon lander was located. “I played around it, pretending I was exploring space. One day, I decided I wanted to be an astronaut,” Horton wrote  in an online feature at NASA.gov.

    She joined the Air Force ROTC program and, during her physical, learned that she had significant hearing loss. Later, Horton was diagnosed with a hearing impairment which prevented her from applying to be an astronaut. But, she learned she could still play an important role in sending crews to space.

    The Space Launch System is the first flight program Horton worked on at NASA.  Many SLS parts — including the SLS core stage — are made of metal, including the largest rocket fuel tank ever built, and metallic materials and welding are my areas of expertise. As an engineer at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, she is helping build metal rocket parts that can withstand the extreme forces of launch and space travel, and will send astronauts farther away from Earth than they’ve ever traveled before. “Our team at Michoud is making history every day as we build this extraordinary new rocket. We’re moving one step closer to launching the most powerful rocket in the world, and it’s exciting to watch all of it come together,”  she wrote.

    At her father’s influence, Horton earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Louisiana State University. She loved math, and he thought engineering would be the best way for her to use her talents. She said she later switched to being a scientist because of her desire to learn and investigate. “Physics is my passion,” she wrote.  “I’m the first African American — and first in my family — to earn a doctorate in material science, with a concentration in physics, from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.”

    Horton enjoys photography, mentoring outside of work, writing poetry, and reading.

     

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  • IN MEMORIUM: Former mayor Julian Dufreche

    The former mayor for the City of Ponchatoula, Julian Dufreche, passed away on Monday, January 9, 2017, at the age of 66. A life-long resident of Ponchatoula, Dufreche had a great love for his community and a passion for service. He served as Tangipahoa Parish Clerk of Court (2004-2017), Mayor of Ponchatoula (1988-2004), Ponchatoula City Councilman (1976-1988), Ponchatoula Councilman-at-Large, President of the Louisiana Municipal Association (1998-1999), Past President of the Tangipahoa Municipal Association, Past President of the Tangipahoa Economic Development Foundation, Citizen of the Year- Ponchatoula Chamber of Commerce, Representative for the Governor’s Advisory Commission on the Tangipahoa River.

    During his administration as Mayor of Ponchatoula, he was involved in the formation of The Ponchatoula Industrial Park and was instrumental in Ponchatoula becoming “America’s Antique City.” But, perhaps Julian will be most remembered as Founder and First Chairman of The Ponchatoula Area Recreation District.

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    Celebrating Down Syndrome State Conference scheduled Jan. 21

    Blessed by Downs will host the first Celebrating Down Syndrome State Conference and Celebration on January 21, 2017. This conference was created to serve as a day of education, awareness and advocacy for individuals with Down Syndrome.

    This event will be held at 400 East 1st Street in Thibodaux, LA. The conference will take place from 8 a. m. to 3 p.m., and the celebration will take place from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. This event will feature guest speakers Sara Hart Weir and Dr. Brian Skotko.

    To register please email: Blessedbydowns@yahoo.com. 

    Photo from http://imgarcade.com/1/black-kids-with-down-syndrome/

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    AT&T holds hiring event, Jan 21

     

    AT&T* is holding an open house hiring event in Baton Rouge on Saturday, January 21 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.  The call center positions are a result of AT&T’s continued investment in Louisiana to support customers across the state.  The open house will take place at 4455 American Way.
    “AT AT&T, we want to make sure we are providing our customers with a high-level of service they have come to expect,” said Berry Balfour, AT&T Louisiana External Affairs.   “We’re investing in our networks and people as part of that commitment. We’re glad to welcome more than 40 Louisiana residents to the AT&T family.”

    AT&T people are leading the way for everything the company does. That’s why it’s committed to giving team members the benefits, tools and resources they need to reach their fullest potential – both professionally and personally. Call center team members earn an average of $13.35 and $15.57 per hour.

    More than 4,500 in Louisiana work for AT&T and the company is constantly hiring new talent. AT&T is committed to diversity and veteran recruiting.   AT&T offers a full benefits package including medical, dental, vision, 401 (k), tuition reimbursement, paid vacation, and work/life resources.

    To be considered right away for the Baton Rouge call center positions, applicants can complete the application and assessment process at https://connect.att.jobs/job/baton-rouge/call-center-advanced-technical-support-representative/117/3538877

    Visit www.att.com/jobs for more information on other job openings.
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  • Film Review: I Am Not Your Negro

    James Baldwin, the intellectual, civil rights activist and renowned author, left behind some biting and enlightening words about racism and the status of the Black community that are just as relevant today in this age of the Black Lives Matter movement.

    Baldwin was born in Harlem in 1924. He moved to Paris around 1950, eventually taking up residence in the south of France. At some point in his self-imposed exile, he came to the conclusion that he had to turn his attention back to his home country. “I could no longer sit around Paris discussing America. I had to come and pay my dues,” said Baldwin.

    In 1979, Baldwin started working on his book, Remember This House. The manuscript focused on the lives, views and assassinations of his three friends and colleagues: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. Unfortunately, at the time of his death he had only completed 30 pages.

    Director Raoul Peck (“Lumumba”) took those few, initial pieces of Baldwin’s non-fiction tome and developed them into a searing documentary that examines the struggles of the 1950s and 1960s in a way that makes his thoughts on race incredibly poignant given today’s sociopolitical landscape in the United States.

    Peck assembles archival footage, photographs and contentious TV clips (particularly the fledgling “The Dick Cavett Show” where discussions of the state of the “Negro” got heated). He adds in modern day camera feeds of demonstrators angry over police shootings. The results are a blistering indictment of race relations both old and new.

    Voiceovers by Samuel L. Jackson verbalize passages from Baldwin notes. You hear the author chide oppressors, confront Hollywood and challenge the American government. His words recount the intimate relationships and mutual respect he had with the iconic civil rights legends Medgar, Malcolm and Martin, effectively humanizing these political/social deities. He candidly explores their differences and similarities. He reveals the absolute despair he felt each time he heard that one of them had been killed. His ruminations glow with a truth that is timeless.

    Raoul Peck and editor Alexandra Strauss have masterfully fulfilled the arduous and artful task of pulling all the pieces of Baldwin’s contemplations together and forming a fiery narrative that makes audiences recalibrate their feelings about race in America. The musical score by Aleksey Aygi adds a piqued sense of urgency and gravitas.

    Medgar Evers was killed on June 12, 1963. Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21, 1965. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered on April 4, 1968. James Baldwin died of stomach cancer on December 1, 1987. Together, collectively, they left behind a tremendous sociopolitical legacy that finds its due respect in this very powerful and enlightening documentary.

    In 93 thought-provoking minutes, “I Am Not Your Negro” poignantly connects the past to the present with no apologies.

    By Dwight Brown
    NNPA film critic and travel writer.

    Read more »
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    Officers installed on SU System Board

    The Southern University and A&M College System Board of Supervisors installed officers for 2017 and held a swearing-in ceremony for newly appointed members during its regular monthly meeting, Jan 6.

    Chairwoman Ann A. Smith and vice chairman Rev. Donald R. Henry, who were elected during the annual officers’ election in November 2016, were installed as the new officers for the governing board for the only historically black college and university system in America.

    Smith is a retired school educator and administrator in Tangipahoa Parish, member of the Louisiana School Board Association, and former member of the Tangipahoa Parish School Board.

    Henry represents the 2nd Congressional District. He is a planning and scheduling professional at Noranda Alumina, LLC; and co-owner of DRH Consulting Group, LLC in Gramercy.

    Taking the oath of office for the SU Board were two newly appointed members and three reappointed members named by Governor Edwards, December 30, 2016.

    “I salute the long-standing members of the Board for their great and unselfish service to the Southern University System and congratulate those members who have been reappointed who will continue in service. I genuinely look forward to working with you as we advance the mission of the Southern University System,” said SU System President Ray L. Belton.

    Sworn in on the 16-member board that serves to manage and supervise the SU System were:

    Leroy Davis, of Baker, is a retired professor and dean of Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College. Additionally, Davis is a former mayor and councilman of the City of Baker. He received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, a master of science degree from the University of Illinois, and a doctoral degree from the University of Illinois. He will serve as a representative of the 2nd Congressional District.

    Richard T. Hilliard, of Shreveport, is a senior engineer and business consultant at the Maintowoc Company, Incorporated. Hilliard received a bachelor of science degree from Georgia Technological University and a master of science degree from Walsh College. He will serve as a representative of the 4th Congressional District.

    Domoine D. Rutledge, of Baton Rouge, is an attorney and general counsel of the East Baton Rouge Parish School System. He is a former national president of the Southern University Alumni Federation and the current president and chairman of the Southern University System Foundation Board of Directors. Rutledge received a bachelor of arts degree and a juris doctorate from the Southern University Law Center. He will serve as an at-large member on the board.

    Smith, of Kentwood, received a bachelor of science degree and a master of science in education from Southern University. She will serve as a representative of the 5th Congressional District.

    Rev. Samuel C. Tolbert Jr., of Lake Charles, is the pastor of the Greater Saint Mary Missionary Baptist Church. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Bishop College and a master of divinity from Payne Theological Seminary. He has also received an honorary doctorate of divinity from Union Baptist College and Theological Seminary and Christian Bible College and an honorary doctorate degree from Temple Bible College. Rev. Tolbert will serve as an at-large member on the board.

    The Board of Supervisors of Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College is vested with the responsibility for the management and supervision of the institutions of higher education, statewide agricultural programs, and other programs which comprise the Southern University System. Members serve six-year terms appointed by the governor.

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    Celebrating 60 years of marriage

    Charles Clinton and Dolores Ada Poole Moore celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017.

    They are natives of Mandeville, Louisiana and members Newell United Methodist Church in Mandeville, Louisiana. They contribute their faith in  God and family values as to why God bless them to stay together. They currently attend Winan United Methodist Church where their daughter is the Pastor Darlene A. Moore.

    They had Breakfast Gathering at Picadilly’s in Covington, Saturday, Jan. 7 and spent their honeymoon get-a-way at a Mandeville Bed and Breakfast provided as an anniversary gift from a special family friend. Most weeks they enjoy going to the Washington Parish Council on Aging Center or taking in movies and country drives with daughter. They also help to rear two grandsons Walter Donahue Jr and Joshua James II.

    Read more »
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    Historians rank President Obama’s legacy highly

    Supporters and critics alike may eventually come to view President Barack Obama’s two-term White House tenure the same way.

    His determination for change never appeared to cause him to stumble on his goals, be it Obamacare or commuting the sentences of so many who were imprisoned for so long — primarily because of antiquated laws that punished mostly low-level minority drug offenders.

    Even as Obama is set to leave office, he took unprecedented steps to retaliate against alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    Obama labeled Russia’s action as significant, malicious and cyber-enabled and sanctioned six Russian individuals and five Russian entities while ordering dozens of Russian diplomats to leave the country.

    The president also gave them and their families just three days to pack up and leave.

    “These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior,” Obama said in the statement released by the White House.

    It’s the kind of action that some said will make them miss the progress of the past eight years and critics will come to realize that Obama’s place in history will be a lofty one.

    “The biggest tragedy of the Obama presidency was the relentless and often irrational unwillingness of Republican lawmakers to work with him to achieve meaningful objectives,” said Mario Almonte, a public relations specialist who also blogs about politics and social issues. “Even so, many years from now, when the history of his presidency comes into better focus, our society will come to recognize the enormous impact Barack Obama had on American culture and possibly world culture as the first Black president of the United States.”

    And, as Kevin Drum a writer for Mother Jones wrote, Obama has moved forward on eight substantial executive actions over the past month – aside from the Russian sanctions – including enacting a permanent ban on offshore oil and gas drilling in areas of the Arctic and the Atlantic Seaboard; he’s refused to veto a UN resolution condemning Israel’s settlements in the West Bank; designated two new national monuments totaling more than 1.6 million acres – Bears Ears Buttes in southeastern Utah and Gold Butte in Nevada; and he’s instructed the Department of Homeland Security to formally end the long-discussed NSEERs database.

    Obama has also instructed the Army Corps of Engineers to deny final permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline where it crosses the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and he’s issued a final rule that bans the practice among some red states of withholding federal family-planning funds from Planned Parenthood and other health clinics that provide abortions.

    Also, the outgoing president completed rules to determine whether schools were succeeding or failing under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

    “He was most effective as a normal president, and he helped put the presidency back on a human scale,” said Stephen Walt, a professor of international affairs at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. “He was a devoted and involved father, a loving husband, a man with acknowledged – albeit – vices, and someone who made it clear that he did not regard himself as omniscient.”

    “As president, he showed that effective governing requires careful deliberation, discipline, and the willingness to make hard and imperfect decisions, and he let us all watch him do just that.” Walt said future historians will give President Obama “full marks” for never acting impulsively or cavalier.

    Daniel Rodgers, the Henry Charles Lea Professor of History, emeritus and historian of American ideas and culture who taught at Princeton University, wrote that what buoyed Obama’s aspirations was not a program, but a dream that in his person, the people might come together and shape politics to their will and common aspirations.

    “That was what the ‘we’ in the brilliant ‘Yes We Can’ slogan in the 2008 campaign was essentially about,” Rodgers said. “He has not called the nation to new feats of courage — ala Kennedy — to make war on poverty — as Johnson did — even to dream more freely than ever before — as stated by Reagan. What Obama’s words have called for is for Americans to be the people they already are.”

    The single, biggest impact on Obama’s presidency has been the shattering of psychological obstacles in the American psyche toward electing a non-White president, Almonte said.

    “When Hillary Clinton first ran for president, her gender was a major issue among voters. The second time around, it was not,” Almonte said. “With this psychological barrier removed, in future elections, we will see candidates from all walks of life, genders, nationalities, and possibly even lifestyles pursue the presidency with greater ease than they could have before.”

    Even as Donald Trump and other Republicans promise to do all they can to repeal the Affordable Care Act, known as Obama’s signature piece of legislation, historians wrote in New York magazine that it has been the president’s greatest accomplishment.

    They noted that presidents from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton failed to accomplish a passable affordable health care law.

    “Obamacare is easily the signal accomplishment of this president, assuming current efforts to unravel it will be defeated,” said Thomas Holt, the James Westfall Thompson Professor of American and African-American History at the University of Chicago.

    “It’s an achievement that will put Obama in the ranks of [President Franklin Delano Roosevelt] with social security and Lyndon B. Johnson with Medicare because of its enduring impact on the average American’s well-being,” Holt said. “He won’t need bridges and airports named after him since opponents already did him the favor of naming it ‘Obamacare.’”

    The Affordable Care Act’s progressivism stands out as the embodiment of Obama’s best intentions, said Nell Painter, an American historian notable for her works on southern history of the nineteenth century and a retired professor at Princeton University.

    “Some three million poor people have gained access to health care, thanks to the extension of Medicaid. But those people will not be in deep-southern states where poor people are numerous, but Republicans rule,” Painter said. “I see this convergence as a consequence of watermelon politics, as unsavory a legacy of Obama’s time as Obamacare is fine.”

    Finally, one historic trend-break that occurred during Obama’s presidency that has major significance for the well-being of African-Americans has been the beginnings of a decline in the national prison population, after decades of expansion, said Gavin Wright, professor of American Economic History at Stanford University.

    “The Obama Administration deserves a fair share of credit,” Wright said. “In 2010, Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, reducing prison time for convictions involving crack cocaine.”

    Wright said, “Under Attorney General Eric Holder, sentencing guidelines were made retroactive, leading to the release of thousands. To date, the reductions have been small compared to the total incarcerated population, but the reversal is historic, and its disproportionate significance for African-Americans is evident.”

     

    By Stacy M. Brown
    NNPA News Wire Contributor

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    Community dialogue features ‘Cultural Bridges in a Time of Troubled Water,’ Jan. 14

    The 821 Project will host a special interactive dialogue, Voices: Cultural Bridges In A Time of Troubled Waters, Saturday, Jan. 14, This event will be held at TJ Jemison Baptist Student Center, 722 Harding Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA. Event, which includes a keynote presentation and lunch, is free and open to the public.

    The 821 Project provides intercultural and social justice education programs to the southeast Louisiana community through workshops, speaker’s panels, dialogues, and other appropriate programming.

    Preregistration via website encouraged, but not required. For more information contact Jahi Mackey, Program Director at jmackey@the821project.com.

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    SULC hooding ceremony set for January 6

    Fall 2016 graduates of the Southern University Law Center (SULC) will be recognized in a Hooding Ceremony at 6 p.m., Friday, January 6, 2017, in the Cotillion Ballroom of the Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union on the Southern University Baton Rouge campus.

    Dennis Blunt, ’91, litigation partner at Phelps Dunbar will be the featured speaker at the ceremony.
    Blunt practices in the area of commercial litigation, with a focus on business disputes including business torts and insurance company solvency and regulation.
    He is chairman of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation Board of Directors, a board member of the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, a Fellow of the American and Louisiana Bar foundations, and secretary of the Baton Rouge Bar Association. Blunt was honored as a 2010 SULC Distinguished Alumnus.
    This special Hooding Ceremony does not take the place of Commencement. All graduates will continue to have their degrees conferred at Spring Commencement.
    The 32 candidates for the Juris Doctor Degree are:

    Carroll D. Atkins
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Melody W. Allen
    Lafayette, Louisiana

    Charletta E. Anderson
    Atlanta, Georgia

    CaShonda R. Bankston
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Rebecca A. Borel
    Loreauville, Louisiana

    Danielle S. Broussard
    Lafayette, Louisiana

    Blake T. Couvillion
    Carencro, Louisiana

    Andrew Davis
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Lee C. Durio
    Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

    Leon D. Dyer
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    William C. Eades
    Shreveport, Louisiana

    Michael R. Ellington
    Winnsboro, Louisiana

    GeFranya M. Graham
    Conway, South Carolina

    Curtis L. Guillory
    Lafayette, Louisiana

    Jeremy J. Guillory
    Church Point, Louisiana

    Kristina C. Harrison
    Vacherie, Louisiana

    Lonna S. Heggelund
    Mediapolis, Iowa

    Tammeral J. Hills
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Joshua G. Hollins
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Kemyatta D. Howard
    New Orleans, Louisiana

    Lauren M. Hue
    Lafayette, Louisiana

    Jacob F. Kraft
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Janet D. Madison
    Vidalia, Louisiana

    Latau S. Martin
    Dallas, Texas

    Georgeann McNicholas
    San Antonio, Texas

    Robert A. McKnight
    New Orleans, Louisiana

    Venise M.C. Morgan
    San Jose, California

    Jamar Myers-Montgomery
    Fontana, California

    Candace N. Newell
    New Orleans, Louisiana

    Nigel A. Quiroz
    Brooklyn, New York

    Anthony B. Stewart
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Jennifer E. Thonn
    Slidell, Louisiana

    Read more »
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    Families Helping Families of Jefferson offers free online webinars

    Families Helping Families of Jefferson, through its statewide program Louisiana Parent Training and Information Center, invites you to register and attend their free webinars full of rich content. A webinar event is viewed right from your computer, where you can watch, listen and have the option to post questions and get live responses. Webinars are offered on various days and at various times.

    Some of the webinar topics in January are Extended School Year (ESY) Services, Legal Status and Capacity – What’s the Difference and Why Does It Matter, EEOC Basic Overview of the Laws, Understanding the Important Difference Between Accommodations & Modifications, Seizure Recognition and First Aid for Families, IDEA: What You Need to Know, Expanded SSI Application Window for Foster Kids, Be Your Own Self-Advocate, Understanding 504, and Individualized Education Program (IEP): A Blueprint for Student Success (for Children and Youth Ages 3-21).

    For a full listing of webinars, visit fhfjefferson.org

    and then click on “What‘s Going On” to choose a topic and register.

    Read more »
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    Baton Rouge charter pushes to remain open

    When Jonathan Hage traveled to Baton Rouge following the August flood, the Charter School USA director’s first concerns were his teachers’ and students’ well-being. Along with his wife and other executives, Hage brought hope and money—each teacher received $500. “It’s not money. It’s love,” Sherry Hage told the teachers. “We want you to know that you’re loved and cared for.”

    The gesture was especially generous for the teachers who had lost property and possessions. Their support came as a result of their employment at the Baton Rouge Charter Academy at Mid-City. “These are our teachers; these are our kids,” Jonathan Hage said. “This is honestly the best part about what we do.”

    But now, the mid-city charter and its teachers face a formidable challenge to save the school.

    After three years with performance scores less than 40, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education denied the charter renewal request and will close the school under its state charter in May 2017. Even amid strong support for the school, BESE voted against allowing BRCA an additional year to show improvement. BESE members Jada Lewis and Kathey Edmonston formally objected to the closure. School officials have said performance scores will raise with more time, dedicated resources, and its new principal, Tale’ Lockett.

    “They (parents and administrators) are all on board to make sure we have enough time to continue our success,” said Lockett in a Dec. 6 video. “We’re going to make that mark with continued support.” In order to do so, charter administrators have to convince the local school board to allow the school to re-open, or transfer, as a Title 2 charter under the governance of the East Baton Rouge Parish School System. It’s sister school, South Baton Rouge Charter Academy, is already an EBRP charter.

    BRCA has 80 teachers and more than 650 students who would relocate if the transfer isn’t successful. Then, students and their parents would choose to return to their previous public school or select another charter to attend. Middle school students in the attendance zone of Baton Rouge Charter Academy would have four EBR middle schools to attend: Capitol, Park Forest, JK Haynes, and Scotlandville Pre-Engineering. They would also have a choice between Celerity Lanier and Celerity Crestworth or tuition-based private schools. (School performance scores are available at http://www.louisianabelieves.com/data/reportcards/2016 )

    “Statistically, many of these students attempt to return to the public system,” said former BESE representative Carolyn Hill. “There will be an aggressive push to move these students into other state-governed charters and other management groups…it’s about the money. But, this management group has the most resources to help the students.”

    “It is a good thing that this charter management group is trying to unify with EBR,” Hill said. “A collaboration between this charter—which was once a state charter— and East Baton Rouge Parish Schools would set a precedence statewide and even nationally that says, ‘we are willing to step in and work in partnership to ensure that these children get what they need to succeed’.”

    “I believe in local schools controlled by local communities,” Edmundson told the Baton Rouge Business Report earlier this year. “If the locals want a charter and the local board has responsibility, that makes me feel a lot more comfortable.”

    That comfort comes from the local district’s ability to provide additional resources to students including special education services like speech pathology, free lunch programs, shared transportation, and more teacher stability.

    “It’s not about a charter movement. Merging together will be a success story, nationwide,” Hill said. “These parents should keep fighting for their children. I would tell each of them, ‘Let the growth in your child be the determining factor‎’.”

    Read more »
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    Gov. Edwards announces Board of Regents appointments 

    Governor John Bel Edwards announced his appointments to the Board of Regents.

    “Our institutions of higher education continue to face financial challenges that make the work of the Board of Regents more critical than ever as we continue our efforts to stabilize the budget and provide more predictable funding for our colleges and universities,” said Gov. Edwards. “The appointees I have named to the board bring an array of professional and educational expertise from higher education institutions across Louisiana. I am looking forward to working with them to build a brighter future for Louisiana’s students.”

    The following appointments will be effective on January 1, 2017:

    Board of Regents
    The Board of Regents is responsible for planning, coordinating, and budgeting for all public higher education in the state.The Board administers the Louisiana Education Quality Support Fund and formulates a master plan for higher education, including a formula for the equitable distribution of funds.

    Blake R. David, of Lafayette, is an attorney and founding partner of the Lafayette firm of Broussard & David, L.L.C. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College and a juris doctorate from the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center. David will serve as a representative of the 3rd Congressional District.

    Darren G. Mire, of New Orleans, is the director of valuation for the Orleans Parish Assessor’s Office. Mire is a certified Louisiana Deputy Assessor and is a licensed real estate agent. He received a bachelor of science degree and a master of professional studies degree from Tulane. Mire will serve as a representative of the 2nd Congressional District.

    W. Clinton “Bubba” Rasberry, of Shreveport, is the managing partner for Crestview Woods, LP, Rasberry Commercial Properties, LP, and Rasberry Mineral Lands, LLC. Rasberry received a bachelor of arts degree from Vanderbilt University and post-graduate studies and Louisiana State University Forestry School. He will serve as a representative of the 4th Congressional District.

    Jacqueline Vines Wyatt, of Prairieville, is the former senior vice president and regional manager for Cox Communications’ Southeast Region. Wyatt will serve as an at-large member on the board.

    T. Jay Seale III, of Hammond, is an attorney and founding partner of Seale & Ross, APLC. Seale received a bachelor of arts degree from Southeastern Louisiana University and a Juris doctorate from the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center. Seale will serve as a representative of the 1st Congressional District.

    Charles R. McDonald, Ed.D., of Sterlington, is the president and owner of CMAC & Associates and the co-owner of Freedom Mobility, LLC, and a former member of the Louisiana State House of Representatives. While a state representative, he authored the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) scholarship bill and served on the Education Committee. He received his bachelor of science degree from Northeast Louisiana College, a master of education degree from Northeast Louisiana University, and doctor of education degree from the University of Louisiana Monroe. McDonald will serve as a representative of the 5th Congressional District.

    Read more »
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    Tax tips often-overlooked by Blacks

    3 TIPS FOR 2017 TAX SEASON

    Sadly, many African Americans don’t think about taxes until the days and weeks leading up to April 15. However, there are many things you can do now to help our results then be more appealing.

    1. Make Wise Business Purchases
    If you are business owner, think about purchases that you can make between now and year end. If possible, try making purchases that you were planning to make in January in December. Consider pre-paying your cell phone or internet bill. But careful, though, about large purchases such as heavy equipment, as these may need to be depreciated rather than capitalized, greatly minimizing the tax impact you might be expecting from such a large purchase.

    2. Maximize Your Heath Savings Accounts (HSA)
    With the political climate and uncertainly on the continuation of Obamacare, Health Savings Accounts (HSA), along with High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP), may see increased popularity. If you already have a HSA and have not yet maximized your contribution for the year, now would be a great time to do so. Contributions and interest earned are tax free and the maximum contribution amount for 2016 is $3,350 for individuals and $6,750 for families. If you are over 55 years of age, you get an additional $1,000 in catch up contributions which will be tax free as well.

    3. Manage Tax Withholdings/Exemptions
    Employees that changed jobs or started a new job this year should review their tax withholdings/exemptions claimed on their new hire paperwork (Form W-4). Claiming too many exemptions could result in an unexpected or large tax liability at tax time. Claiming too few exemptions could result in giving the government more money than necessary, which could result in a cash flow problem for you during the year. Ask you HR or payroll department to review your withholdings and ask your accountant or tax adviser to review them for you so that if adjustments are needed, you can catch them at the beginning of the new year to avoid potential problems during next year’s tax season.

    In addition to tax adjustments, some basic financial planning can go a long way in setting the stage for you (and your money) as you enter the new year.

    By Randy Hughes
    Counting Pennies, LLC

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    Broome invites girls to ‘Hidden Figures’ Event

    East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Elect Sharon Weston Broome is inviting young girls to participate in a special outreach event for the release of the feature film, “Hidden Figures.”

    100 young girls will be selected to attend a viewing of “Hidden Figures” followed by a “Chew and Chat” to discuss their purpose, plan, and path as they consider how STEM can impact their future. Women ‘who lead in STEM’ and the community will share in the experience. This initiative is open to girls in 5th – 9th grade from all East Baton Rouge parish zip codes.

    Applicants should submit a paragraph explaining their interest in STEM to: info@BRTransition.com by Thursday, December 29. Selections will be announced on January 4th and details regarding the event will be released thereafter.

     

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  • SU unveils impressive 2017 football schedule

    Southern University football will make their third appearance in the MEAC/SWAC challenge before facing two Football Bowl Subdivision opponents during the Jaguars 2017 schedule, officials announced Friday.

    Southern welcomes South Carolina State – and a nationally televised audience – to Baton Rouge and A.W. Mumford Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 3. in the 11th installment of the ESPN Events sponsored game. The Jaguars hold the distinction of being the only SWAC school to win in the 10-year history of the challenge, claiming wins over Florida A&M in 2007 in Birmingham, Ala. and Delaware State in 2010 in Orlando.

    The MEAC/SWAC Challenge features teams from two prominent Historically Black Colleges and Universities on the opening weekend of the college football season and is aired on an ESPN network. Prior to the 2016 game, the MEAC/SWAC Challenge originated as a neutral site game at historic Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. before relocating to the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

    SU head coach Dawson Odums and former Alcorn State head coach Jay Hobson reunite on the gridiron when the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles, 2016 New Orleans Bowl champions, host the Jaguars on September 9 in Hattiesburg, Miss.

    Following their first-ever meeting with Southern Miss, Southern heads to the Alamodome for the inaugural meeting against UT-San Antonio led by former LSU assistant coach and current Roadrunners’ head coach Frank Wilson. In his first season, Wilson guided the Roadrunners to a Gildan New Mexico Bowl berth before losing to New Mexico 23-20 on Dec. 17.

    Southern returns to the state of Mississippi to open the SWAC’s new 7-game format against 3-time SWAC eastern division champ Alcorn State before NCAA Division II member Fort Valley State closes the Jaguars’ nonconference schedule at Mumford Stadium on Sept. 30. 

    The league office elected to implement a 4-2-1 schedule format which requires conference teams to play four opponents within their division, two permanent cross-divisional foes and one team rotating yearly as a part of the conference slate.

    The Jaguars, who finished 8-3 – 8-1 in SWAC play – last season and reeled off eight straight wins, host Alabama A&M for homecoming on Oct. 7, then observe their first bye week off the season on Oct. 14.

    Arch rival Jackson State awaits SU following the off week on Oct. 21 in Jackson, Miss. before the Jaguars tangle with Arkansas-Pine Bluff on the road Oct. 28.

    The month of November opens with a pair of Texas schools when Southern salutes their 2017 senior class in the home finale against Prairie View A&M on Nov. 4. After the Texas Southern game on Nov. 11 in Houston, Southern entertains one final bye week before looking to snap a two-game losing skid to Grambling State in the 44th annual Bayou Classic in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on Nov. 25.

    Teams on Southern’s 11-game schedule compiled a 59-68 record in 2016.

    For more information on Southern University Athletics log on to Gojagsports.com for the latest news, scores, and updates. Fans can also access the latest information on SU Athletics through social media by following @SoutherUsports on Twitter and Instagram or liking the SU Athletics Facebook page at Facebook.com/Southern Jaguars.

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    COMMENTARY: Tangipahoa school deseg case should not be downplayed

    Dear Editor:
    Needless to say, the importance of this particular desegregation case definitely should not be downplayed as arguments from every side are well understood. However, there are things that must take precedence as this process continues. Things like the assurance that every single one of our public schools has equitable resources and programs needed to be competitive, for instance, should be a priority. Planning strategically for each school by fairly balancing the clientele it needs to thrive and invigorate the community it services is of equal importance.  Likewise, the life of every single one of the 307 children from the Magazine Street area is even more important.  And, doing what is best for these children (all children for that matter) has to be top priority.
    When considering the latest court report, it is pretty apparent that reflection must take place in all who are involved in the future of our schools and communities. Somewhere and somehow, we seem to have lost sight of what is really important.  Of course, storms can impair vision. Therefore, leaders must strive to ensure all of our children and families are equipped to “weather” the remainder of this storm by practicing sound leadership in the midst. True leaders always acknowledge and stand for what is right. They always stand for what is honorable and just. They always advocate for the underdog. They always fight for those who do not know exactly how to fight for themselves.  And they always love everyone.
    With these same thoughts in mind, at some point we must sincerely question our own motives and leader actions.  By no means am I saying that the actions cited in the most recent court document were intentional. However, I am saying that more consideration regarding the  long term success of all schools, families, and children probably should have been given when engaging in the planning process. This is especially important when considering kids who are already placed at a statistical disadvantage due to various risk factors. Providing children with an opportunity to break family poverty cycles through education is a responsibility that should not and cannot be taken lightly. Think about it.  If the same educational practices and planning that may have very well guided many of these families into poverty for generations in the first place are continued, then it can almost be guaranteed that these same families will continue to remain in poverty for generations to come.  With the dedicated people we have throughout this parish, there is absolutely no excuse for this to continue to be.
    Let’s move forward by planning properly and responsibly for all of our children, schools, and families.
    Patricia Morris
    President
    Greater Tangipahoa Parish Branch NAACP
    Read more »
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    La. legislators appointed to national caucus

    State Senator Regina Ashford Barrow, of Baton Rouge, has been elected secretary of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators. State Senator Wesley Bishop, of new Orleans, and State Representative Pat Smith, of Baton Rouge, has been appointed member-at-large of the NBSL executive board. Baton Rouge Representative Ted James has been named regional co-chair.

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    Perkins named ULSystem chair

    Alejandro Raeshod Perkins has been elected to chairman of the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors. The ULSystem is the largest higher education system in the state with more than 90,000 students and nine universities: Louisiana Tech, Grambling, University of Louisiana at Monroe, University of  Louisiana Lafayette, McNeese University, Nicholls State University, University of New Orleans, Northwestern State University and Southeastern Louisiana University. Jim Henderson, Ph.D., was elected System President.

    Perkins is a law partner at Hammonds, Sills, Adkins, and Guice, LLC. He was recently appointed by the National Bar Association as Deputy General Counsel. He is a Louisiana Arts and Science Museum Board Member, National Annual Fund Chair for Xavier University, and Vice President of the Xavier University Alumni Association-Baton Rouge Chapter.

    Read more »
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    Diana Ross, Mary J Blige to headline Essence Fest

    Essence announced the initial lineup for the 2017 Essence Festival Concert Series in New Orleans, including headlines Diana Ross and Mary J. Blige.

    “This year’s Festival lineup puts women at the forefront of an incredible weekend of entertainment featuring more than 40 of the world’s most gifted artists and performers,” said Essence president Michelle Ebanks.

    The festival, which is the 23rd annual event, will take place June 30-July 2, 2017

    in New Orleans, Louisiana. Tickets go on sale Friday, Dec. 16. More than 40 acts will take place over the 3-day festival, with five stages booked for the many performances.

    The confirmed performers include the following: Diana Ross, Mary J Blige, Chaka Khan, Doug E Fresh, Erykah Badu, India.Arie, Jazmine Sullivan, John Legend, June’s Diary, Lalah Hathaway, Lizzo, Master P, Michel’le, Moses Sumney, Ro James, Shaggy, Sir the Baptist, Solange, Teyana Taylor, The Jones Girls Feat. Shirley Jones, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Tweet and Yuna.

    Read more »
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    New Orleans native Adam Rodney ranked #1 Epee Fencer in the US

    NEW ORLEANS - New Orleans native Adam Rodney will represent the United States and his hometown of New Orleans, La. at the World Fencing Cup in Heidenhiem, Germany.  According to a recent announcement by the United States Fencing Association, Rodney is the #1 ranked Epee Fencer in the United States following his accomplishments at the December North America Cup in Richmond, Virginia this past weekend.

    After earning a bye in the first two rounds, 

    Rodney recorded three victories in the third round of pool play action and in the table of 64 he upset the No. 3 seed Yeisser Ramirez in a tightly contested 14-13 bout. He then cruised past his next two opponents to advance to the quarterfinals to set up a showdown with Zeyad Elashry. 

    In a back-and-forth bout on the strip, Rodney won the final touch to take a 15-14 triumph and moved to the semifinals. Next up, he defeated Lewis Weiss, 14-9, to advance to the championship, before falling to Jacob Hoyle in the finals to take home a silver medal.

    Rodney is a member of The Peter Westbrook Foundation in New York, a not-for-profit organization that uses the sport of fencing to enrich the lives of young people from underserved communities in the New York metropolitan area. Founded in 1991 by legendary sabre fencer and Olympic bronze medalist Peter Westbrook, the foundation is committed to empowering participants with essential life skills. The St. John’s alum competes as a member of the New York Fencer’s Club.

    Rodney, who was a close call to make the 2016 Olympic Team, has since represented the United States in the World Cup in Bern, Switzerland.   Rodney also roared to a Silver Medal finish in the North American Cup Championship in Detroit Michigan in November.  He is a graduate of the famed St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, and St. John’s University. Many of his matches are featured on you tube and fencing promotions. 

    Rodney, who always identifies himself as a New Orleanian, but fences with the Olympian Peter Westbrook in New York and as a member of the New York Fencer’s Club, was a close call for the 2016 Olympic Team. He has been selected to represent the United States in the World Cup in Bern, Switzerland later this month.  He is also scheduled to visit Cuba in an exhibition.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Broome announces transition committees, community input teams

    Mayor-President Elect Sharon Weston Broome and her transition co-chairs, Christopher Tyson and Donna Fraiche, announced that the transition will occur under operational review committees and community input transition teams. The operational review committees will evaluate and report on the inner-workings of City government. Each committee will be responsible for conducting an in-depth assessment of departmental functions and performance, including issues such as organization structure, personnel, budget and overall effectives.

    The Community Input Transition Teams have been established to anchor a wide-ranging public engagement effort Mayor-Elect Broome deems critical for the transition effort.

    The committees and co-chairs are as follows:

    1. Finance –  Jacqui Vines-Wyatt, Dr. Jim Llorens
    2. Public Works (Building & Grounds, Environmental Services, Transportation and Drainage, City Garage, Dev., Maintenance) – Co-Chairs: Justin Haydell, Matthew Butler
    3. Public Safety (Fire, Police, DPW Subteams) – Rep. Ted James, Don Cazayoux
    4. Office of Community Development – Darryl Gissel, Brian Lafleur
    5. Human Development and Services – Johnny Anderson, Pat LeDuff
    6. Homeland Security – General Russel Honore, Paul Rainwater
    7. Information Services – Curtis Heromann, Sonia Perez, Padma Vatsavai
    8. Purchasing – Monique Spalding, Ronald L. Smith
    9. Internal Organization – Christel Slaughter, Dennis Blunt
    10. Arts, Culture and Leisure – Fairleigh Jackson, Walter “Geno” McLaughlin
    11. Flood Recovery – Perry Franklin, Bryan Jones
    12. Infrastructure, Transportation and Mobility – Scott Kirkpatrick, Ann Trappey
    13. Economic Development & Enterprise – Rolfe McCollister, Donald Andrews
    14. North Baton Rouge Revitalization – Cleve Dunn, Jr.; Elizabeth “Boo” Thomas
    15. Healthcare, Social Services and Mental Health – Alma Stewart, Dr. Stephen Kelley
    16. Housing and Land Use – Candace Parker, Keith Cunningham
    17. Metropolitan Organization – Mary Olive Pierson, Domoine Rutledge
    18. The Millennial Agenda – Courtney Scott, Matt Adams
    19. Women’s Issues – Rachel Hebert, Tawahna Harris
    20. Race Relations – Dr. Albert Samuel
    21. Education – Sherry Brock, Diola Bagayoko, Ph.D.

    Co-chair information, as well as, future updates on committee member assignments on the official transition website, BRtranistion.com.

    Read more »
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    Smith, Simmons honored for deeds

    John Frederick Smith and Joseph Gottlieb Simmons were recently recognized as the 2016 Brotherhood Sisterhood Honorees for their decades of dedication to equity, serving the community, leading and inspiring others, and breaking personal barriers.

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    Richard promoted to peace officer

    Slidell police officer Christopher Richard has been promoted to administrative corrections peace officer in the Slidell Police Department’s Corrections Division. He is a 10-year veteran and has been a field training officer, training new jailors at the Slidell police department. He was the Corrections Officer of the Year in 2011, was awarded a Letter of Commendation in 2012, and was awarded a unit Citation in 2015.  He had 11 years of experience with the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office as a corporal prior to joining the Slidell department. 

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    Dr. Byron Jasper welcomes Jobs for America’s Graduates

    Open Health Care Clinic hosted students of the Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) Louisiana program in the classroom of Open Health. The program featured a presentation by physician Dr. Byron Jasper a Louisiana native who recently returned to his home state to provide care to underserved patients.

    Jobs for America’s Graduates Louisiana program is a dropout prevention and recovery program that delivers a unique set of services for at-risk students to help them earn a high school diploma. The Jobs for America’s graduates program has been assisting students since 1980. JAG teaches students career development, job attainment, job survival, communication skills, work place skills, and life survival skills.

    Dr. Jasper and pediatrician, Dr. Dionna Matthews, spoke to the Franklin Junior High School JAG students, on Dec. 5, about the challenges they faced and overcame growing up in similar backgrounds. The presentation informed the students on what it takes to become a healthcare professional and through conversation, encourage and motivate the students to work hard in pursuit of their dreams despite the hardships they may encounter._IGP9824

    Dr. Jasper is a family medicine physician at Open Health where he also specializes in caring for patients with HIV and Hepatitis C. Additionally, he is the executive director of the Comprehensive Medical Mentoring Program, a mentoring organization he founded to provide minority students with experiences that foster successful matriculation into medical school and increase overall diversity in the healthcare field. He has continued to volunteer as a community preceptor, teaching local medical students and residents in the Baton Rouge area while also helping undergraduates, medical students, and resident physicians create and improve their application materials.

    As a true community-wide caregiver, Open Health envision a brighter future for the patients it serves. This means providing more educational opportunities, more comprehensive services and more access to quality care. From pediatrics, to dental, to endocrinology, Open Health Care Clinic will provide advanced medical services for every phase of a person’s life regardless of their financial or insurance status. Extended hours, weekend appointments and walk-ins are welcome.

    ONLINE:www.ohcc.org.

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