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  • Violent Crimes Decrease in Baton Rouge

     

    Murder and violent crimes declined sharply in Baton Rouge in the first half of 2013 compared to 2012. Police department statistics also show a decline in property crimes also.

    The Advocate reported that the stats showed an overall decrease of more than 13 percent in crime during the first half of 2013 compared with first half of 2012. Murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery and assaults- are down nearly 25 percent while property crimes- theft; burglary, auto theft and arson are down by nearly 11 percent.

    Cpl. Don Coppola Jr. said the Baton Rouge Area Violent Elimination Project and police street operations aimed at curbing violent crimes are factors in reducing crime numbers in Baton Rouge.

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  • Whey to Go Program Recruiting Women for Weight Loss Study

    The Whey to Go Program is seeking at least 15 women ages 18-40, on no medication and with Body Mass Index of above 30, to participate in an obesity project. The participants will come to the Southern University Ag center once a week for 1 hour for 24 weeks. Participants will engage in a nutrition education and physical activity class during the 1-hour that they are here at the Ag Center. The participants will take a shake/smoothie in the morning and healthy food of their choice for the rest of the day. At the end of 24 weeks they receive a check for $300.00.  To participate or for more information contact DR. Fatemeh Malekian at 225-771-0251 or fatemeh_malekian@suagcenter.com

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  • Plaquemine Native Becomes No. 1 Slam Poet in the World

    Chancelier “xero” Skidmore has attempted to craft the perfect poem for over a decade.

    A teaching artist in Baton Rouge, Skidmore has competed nationally in team and individual poetry slams for 13 years, and each individual competition he attends has him vying for the opportunity to claim the number one spot.

    On Oct. 5 in Spokane, Wash., after three previous attempts, the Plaquemine native was victorious in his quest to become the number one ranked slam poet in the world, emerging as the 2013 champion of the Individual World Poetry Slam (iWPS).

    A poetry slam is an Olympic style poetry competition in which poets are scored 0-10 by five randomly selected judges for a possible high score of 30. The high and low scores of each round are then thrown out, and the middle three are added together for the final score.

    iWPS is a poetry slam festival created in 2004 by Poetry Slam, Inc. (PSi). It features four preliminary rounds with poems of one, two, three and four minute lengths. The top twelve of the 72 competing poets move on to grand slam finals, and spar in a possible three rounds of three-minute poems. In the end, four poets move on to the final round with a clean slate, hoping to become number one.

    His work published in the anthology, Spoken Word Revolution Redux by Sourcebooks mediaFusion and the Spring 2010 volume of the New Delta Review by LSU Press. Executive Director of Forward Arts, Inc. and works as Program Manager/lead teaching-artist of WordPlay.

    In addition to poetry, Xero also plays percussion for a few bands and loves to hang out with his daughter in her music studio.

    Online:www.xeroskidmore.com

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  • Will M. Campbell Jr., has been selected as 2013 “Louisiana’s State Star”

    Will M. Campbell Jr., has been selected as 2013 “Louisiana’s State Star” by the Louisiana Small Business Development Center. Campbell serves as the director of LSBDC at Southern and under his leadership the program become one of the top producing centers in the state.  Campbell was honored during a private awards reception in Orlando, held in conjunction with the 33rd America’s Small Business Development Center Network Annual Conference. He is among 63 “stars” that were  chosen nationwide.

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  • Students Invited to Testify on Issues

    MONROE—Two of the most powerful women in the state of Louisiana spoke to a gathering of eight grade students urging to them to strive to make the world better.

    State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson and State Rep. Katrina Jackson were in Monroe to meet with officials about education issues, but took time out to meet with those affected most by education policy: students.

    Peterson, chair of the Louisiana Democratic Party, and Jackson, head of the Legislative Black Caucus, are arguably two of the most powerful women in the state, yet they spent quality time touring the newly opened charter school Excellence Academy in Monroe and listening to the opinions and ideas of eight grade females.

    Peterson invited the girls to appear before her legislative committee in the spring to testify about violence, crime, and education.

    “When teachers come to Baton Rouge there were thousands who wanted to speak about how rules would effect them. No one came to speak on behalf of the students. We want you to come to Baton Rouge and tell us how the laws we make affect you.” said Peterson. She and Jackson will invite youth from other schools to join the upcoming legislative session.

    ONLINE:www.monroefreepress.com

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  • African-Americans Twice as Likely to Develop Heart Disease According to Study

    According to health blog, New Scientist, Black Americans are twice as likely to develop heart disease as White Americans, and a gene may be the cause, a new study has found.

    The study found that fragments circulating in the blood, known as platelets, can form blood clots, a classic element of heart disease and heart attack, more easily in African Americans.

    “Unexpectedly, we found that platelets from black donors clotted faster and to a greater extent in response to the naturally occurring clotting agent, thrombin,” says Paul Bray of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who led the work. “This provides a new understanding of the effects of race on heart disease and other blood-clot related illnesses.”

    For the study, blood samples were taken from 70 black and 84 white volunteers. It was found that the gene that produces a particular type of protein, which activates clotting, is four times more active in blacks than in whites.

    Black people are very poorly represented in most clinical studies on heart disease,” he says. “Our findings suggest doctors cannot therefore assume that heart disease treatment studies on whites will hold true for everyone.”

    An important implication, says Bray, is that we need to develop a wider array of treatments to make sure that there are drugs that work for everyone.

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  • Southern Filmmakers Expose Audiences to Zombies, Bounce and Natural Hair

    Dance Step of Death writer/director Ed Fletcher

    Dance Step of Death writer/director Ed Fletcher

    Zombies, Dubstep meet Jaguar Nation

    Ed Fletcher, a 1998 Southern University alumnus, has taken his appreciation for the Jaguar Nation into the world zombies, Dubstep, and film. The former editor of the Southern Digest is currently a reporter at the Sacramento Bee newspaper in California and has recently released his first short film “Dance Steps of Death”. Fletcher’s comedic, horror film follows six citizens who form a group of powerless super heroes to save the city of Sacramento from man-eating zombies. What influenced the film, how does Southern add value to it, and where will this lead Fletcher? We caught up with him at the Bee to find out.

    Usually when people create super heroes they give superpowers or they’re extremely wealthy, but your Adventure Patrol characters are “average Joes”. Why did create heroes that lack powers?
    It’s actually based on trend that’s going in the country right now where regular people are becoming heroes. These are people have got tired of the every day monotony and want to do some good. There are chapters of all around the country and I actually met with a couple before we began filming.

    Why did you choose to give prominence to Dubstep, a genre of music too many people know?
    I went to the Burning Man festival this year for the first time, and while there, I was exposed to different types of music and Dubstep was really popular the year I went so I decided to incorporate it into the film.

    Why does the film include Southern University paraphernalia? How does Southern University “fit” in the film?
    My original intention was go to Southern for two years and then transfer to film school but along the way I fell in love with Southern and journalism. Southern was an important time in my life and it launched me on the path I’m on today. I hope some the images of Southern in the film stays in people’s minds and maybe help someone with their college decision. I think that type of imagery is better in some cases than (recruitment) brochures or commercials.

    As a minority filmmaker do you feel there are stereotypes and typecasting you have to face?
    There is a place for films that tell especially Black stories and there is a place for films that tell stories about people who happen to be Black. Not all Black people live like Martin. We don’t need to do “Boyz in the Hood” six different ways. We can tell different stories about people who happen to be Black. You would hope White filmmakers do the same and don’t write characters based on stereotypes.

    After this debut in the industry as a producer, are you planning to do any acting?
    I’m going to stay focused on writing and producing. I think that’s what I do well in this industry. Although if someone approached me to do some acting, I would be open to it.

    More movies are being filmed in Louisiana, and it’s opening doors for more aspiring filmmakers in Louisiana. What advice would you offer them?
    You’ve got to be willing to deal with “no”. You can be easily deterred. My first two projects were rejected by a film festival and my second couldn’t come together, but you’ve got to keep trying. You really grow through getting told “no”.

    Kenna Moore exposes New Orleans Bounce

    Kenna More producer/director of Omitted

    Kenna More producer/director of Omitted

    New Orleans filmmaker Kenna J. Moore recently won the New Orleans Film Society’s Emerging Vision Award for “Omitted, her debut documentary that chronicles the fast-paced, high-energy genre of dance and music known as Bounce.
    “I chose to title the film ‘Omitted’ because this style of music and dance showcased in the film is one that gets over shadowed,” said Moore who received the award last month at the 24th Annual New Orleans Film Festival.
    “Omitted” chronicles how Bounce music and dance are deeply woven into Louisiana’s Culture and has become a way of life for local entertainers.
    “Bounce has opened so many doors for me and taken me so many places,” said nationally known Bounce dancer Shelby “Skip” Skipper. “This isn’t just a hobby. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to dance. I want to teach lessons.”
    For the documentary, Moore follows Skipper for four months and exposes the amount of energy, dedication, and creativity Skipper has put into his craft. Moore includes scenes from Skipper’s performances “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and “So You Think You Can Dance”.
    Moore includes New Orleans hypeman and producer Donald “Big Choo” Morris Jr. who mentors Skipper. In 2011, Big Choo produced a Bounce remix of “Reading Rainbow” for the New Orleans public library where elementary students celebrated reading and danced with Skipper.
    It’s New Orleans stories and people like these that Moore said are the focus of her company Ghost of Elysian Films.
    She said the company produces experimental films that explore and expose “ghost” stories of New Orleans that are contrary to traditional facets of the city—like Mardi Gras, Hurricane Katrina, and Southern food—that are often found in mainstream films.
    ONLINE: www.ghostofelysianfilms.com

    Filmmaker takes natural hair internationally

    Director-producer Cindy Hurst is a native of Baton Rouge and the owner of The Sankofa Project, a film production and publishing agency developed to address cultural,

    Cindy Hurst

    Cindy Hurst

    community, and gender issues. Hurst is a summa cum laude graduate of Southern University who tours the country screening her films. “Natural Woman,” her first film produced in 2009, will be screened in Germany and the Netherlands later this year. Hurst talked with THE DRUM about her craft and how Southern still influences her work today.

    After graduating from Southern University with a degree in psychology, how did you end up the film industry?
    My first film, “Natural Woman,” was originally supposed to be a book documenting the physiological effects on women when they decide to go natural. I started taping my interviews and I liked the responses I was getting. I went out, got a camera, and began shooting. Once I had gathered the footage, I began consulting with the people I knew in the industry.

    How does a Baton Rouge native end up studying at Prague Film School in the Chez Republic in Europe?
    I enjoyed the production process of my first film so much I knew filmmaking was going to become more than just a hobby. I really wanted to immerse myself into the whole filmmaking process. Someone who was helping me with marketing suggested I screen my movies in Europe, and I began looking at schools there, too. Most of the film schools in America are three- or four-year programs. I found the Prague Film School and there I could study the same thing and take the same courses, but instead only be in school a year and walk away with same degree and credentials as I would in America. I also think studying abroad helps me stand out from other filmmakers.

    In what way did your experiences at Southern University influence your future? I took a class called African Experience. It really broke down the psychology of African people and the effects slavery had on African Americans, and it motivated me find the deeper reasoning behind some of the choices our people make. The reason Southern is so important to me and why I am so glad I went to an (historically black college) is because no matter what course I took every professor I had made sure we had an understanding of the contributions our people made to this country that weren’t always found in textbooks.

    Your work includes “Natural Woman,” “Familiar Spirit,” and “Remembering the Forgotten First: the Story of Charlie Grainger.” You’ve also published a coloring book for daughters and mothers with natural hair. How do you select projects to work on?
    The films I make have an African-American psychological thrust. I want to create films that would affect people of color. I want to touch on issues that go untouched, or history makers who have been forgotten, in the Black community, and get people talking. Sankofa, the name of my production company, is an African term that means in order to move forward you have to move back.
    I realized that through film I found a vehicle to share a lot of issues that affect the Black community. I’m currently working on “Before Baseball,” a documentary that chronicles horse racing as the first integrated professional sport. I wanted people to know that African Americans did not integrate sports with baseball, it was long before Jackie Robinson and for several decades. I’m also working on producing a film with a group of people who are visually impaired. I’m not only working production but looking for ways that someone who is blind or visually impaired can enjoy the film once it is complete.

    What advice would you give to someone who wants to enter film industry?
    That is simple; Just do it. That is exactly what I did. If you really want to do it just research and find out what you need. Don’t let anything stop you whether it is a lack of funding or someone saying you can’t; just do it.

    www.cindy-hurst.com

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  • Site Helps Customers Buy Black

    PurchaseBlack.com, a new Amazon-style marketplace that specializes in selling African American products, is looking to increase the number of Black e-commerce sites by offering qualified businesses free use of their e-commerce platform. ecommerce

    PurchaseBlack.com is bridging the gap between Black online customers, and a wide array of African American focused businesses,” said Purchase Black founder Brian Williams. “To attract more Black owned businesses, we are giving them web stores–complete with their own web address–for free, and only charging a commission after the business actually makes money on our platform.“

    Purchase Black wants to attract Black-owned and Black-operated businesses; they also want to attract businesses that, while maybe not Black-owned, still have a significant Black clientele.

    “We are focused on African American products and businesses, but not at the exclusion of [everyone] else. We want [all businesses] to know that you can buy or sell African American products on PurchaseBlack.com, regardless of [their] background.”

    The company’s target businesses are small, medium, and large-sized businesses that sell hair care, skin care, art, gifts, clothing and accessories, Black greek letter organization items, and much, much more.

    “A lot of people have been waiting for something like this for a long time…and we hope that our offer will attract those businesses to sell their products on [our site],” said Williams.

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  • Nelson Mandela Dies at Age 95

    Former South African president Nelson Mandela , who served 27 years in prison for anti-apartheid activities and helped end racial segregation on his continent,Thursday, December 6th.

    Mandela battled South Africa’s imposed racial segregation through a combination of peaceful demonstration and through military means and was sentenced to life in prison on treason charges.

    Mandela was freed in 1989 after 27 years of hard labor in a stone quarry, when South African president F.W. de Klerk would assume power.

    Former President Mandela speaking at Southern University's Spring 2000 commencement ceromony

    Former President Mandela speaking at Southern University’s spring 2000 commencement ceremony.

    De Klerk and Mandela worked together following his release to end racial strife in South Africa; and went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

    In April 1994, Mandela was elected president of South Africa. Mandela’s victory symbolized a dramatic change in South African politics and race relations.

    Mandela died at age 95. He is survived by Machel; his daughter Makaziwe by his first marriage, and daughters Zindzi and Zenani by his second.

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  • Pastor, Professor is Grateful to Teach, Study Life Nelson Mandela

    I was privileged to introduce a course at Louisiana State University called, “Malcolm, Martin, and Mandela in The Media”. This course was taught in the Manship School of Mass Communication; it was the first of it’s kind in the university community. The students were excited and I had to drum up students my first semester, but after that I always had a waiting list.

    As I write these reflections, I am reminded of the many students, who took the course and engage themselves in the legacy and thought of Nelson Mandela. This class reflected on the media and the influence it plays in the lives of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr, and Nelson Mandela. In the African and African American Studies program, I developed a course called, “The Philosophy and Thought of Nelson Mandela”. This course centered around his early childhood until his rise to international leader. His African name means, “Shaker of Trees”, and throughout his life, he shook the foundation of an unjust society in South Africa.

    We talked about his childhood when he would play war games with his friends in the countryside. This playtime would soon develop into a philosophy and thought provoking his leadership style for later moments in his life. The students would always be puzzled by his words, “Leadership can be from behind, one always gets the faster and most nimble sheep to lead and the shepard follows.” I was fortunate to teach both courses to students at Louisiana State University, and in my teaching, I also learned that we must find something that we are willing to die for. I am passionate about teaching and I am called to teach a new generation the legacy and thought of just a leader.

    Nelson Mandela taught us how to forgive and to reconcile with even our worst enemy. He was not bitter and he changed a culture, a society, and even a nation with his dignity and passion for justice for all persons. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to teach and study the life of Nelson Mandela. I traveled to South Africa and we stopped in Cape Town, and as I looked across the ocean I thought about Nelson Mandela but I had no idea I would one day teach students about his philosophy and thought. What a wonderful blessing. Thank you, Mr. Mandela, you also shook my spirit.

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  • Kings Children to Host HIV/AIDS Forum, Dec. 13

    Community partners and Kings Children Full Gospel Church will host a HIV Community Forum, Friday, December 13, 7pm at the church located at 3024 Amarillo St, in Baton Rouge. The public is invited to attend. Contact: Eugene.Collins@LA.GOV

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  • U.S. District Judge Temporarily Restrains Release of Malcom X Diary

    U.S District judge issued a temporary restraining order preventing Chicago’s third world press company from releasing a diary of Malcolm X life which he started after he left the Nation of Islam. Chicago Third World Press company said the rights was sold to them by his daughter Ilyasah Al-Shabazz, who is also the book’s co-editor along with journalist Herb Boyd. Ilyasah signed the contract with the press company as the agent for X Legacy (a company formed in 2011 to protect Malcolm X and his wife Dr. Betty Shabazz assets). In addition to deciding if Ilyasah had the jurisdiction to release the rights to her father diary the judge must also decide if Third World Press has the right to publish the diary.

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  • Be an Art Vendor at the 2014 Baton Rouge Blues Festival

    The 2014 Baton Rouge Blues Festival is accepting new applicants for our Arts Market vendors in the categories of painting, photography, ceramics, sculpture, glass, metal, wood, leather, mixed media, and other media. Applications will be accepted between December 1, 2013 and January 15, 2014. A jury will review the applications and selected vendors will be announced via the Baton Rouge Blues Festival website, batonrougebluesfestival.org, by February 1, 2014. There is a non-refundable $20 application fee. Vendor participation fees of $125 are due no later than March 15, 2014. All proceeds go to the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation, a not-for-profit charity that produces the festival. Application requirements and rules can be found at batonrougebluesfestival.org/art-vendor.html

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    St. George Incorporation Public Meeting Scheduled for Thursday Dec.12th

    The Committee to Incorporate the City of St. George will hold an important public meeting / town Hall on Thursday, December 12th from 6:30pm – 7:30pm at Woodlawn Baptist Church.

    Guest Speaker: Shreveport native C. L. Bryant is an outspoken Baptist minister, radio host, television host, former president of the NAACP’s Garland, Texas Chapter and creator of the current hit documentary Runaway Slave.

    Speakers:
    Senator Mac ‘Bodi’ White
    Norman Browning

    The purpose of this meeting is to:
    - Update the public with our progress to date
    - Inform the public of our plans for 2014.
    - Address inaccuracies/misconceptions in the media.
    - Answer current frequently asked questions.
    - Allow the public to sign the petition.

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  • Elected Officials Speak on Possible St. George Incorporation

    We believe that we can set a model, not only for the state of Louisiana [but also] a model of governance for the United States of America that many other cities can follow.

    Lionel Rainey, a spokesman for the St. George effort – The Times-Picayune

    By: Leslie D. Rose – The Drum Reporter

    BATON ROUGE-This month Baton Rouge made national and world news as a headliner in various media outlets regarding the possible incorporation of St. George. And while a story about the potential creation of a new city within the capital city may spark national hyperbole, local reports and representatives say the buzz is not totally inaccurate.

    The boundaries for the proposed city of St. George would cover about 85 square miles, including all of the unincorporated part of the parish south of Baton Rouge. But with such a pushback from surrounding communities, one has to question how what Rainey has spoken on would create a solid model for the country or state, no less the city. Based on responses from local politicians, the facts are only in the favor of the proposed St. George City.

    Here we will explore the various headlines regarding the potential incorporation infused with facts and thoughts from respected state, city and school board leaders.

    Headline: St. George incorporation petitions hit East Baton Rouge Parish – WBRZ.com

    Fact: Supporters of the proposal say they have half the 18,000 signatures needed to get their scheme on the next ballot

    The campaign to create the city of St. George began in September. Organizers, frustrated by the struggling schools in East Baton Rouge Parish, had tried twice to get approval from the legislature to create their own school district and break away from EBRPSS. When they were blocked both timesand after opponents said they shouldn’t get their own school district because they weren’t their own citythey decided to incorporate. They see it as an opportunity to create both a city and a school district that will be smaller, more efficient, and more responsive to residents’ needs.

     

    Representative Patricia Haynes-Smith

    Representative Patricia Haynes-Smith, District 67

    “I am not in favor of the proposed city. I honestly believe that because of the revenue issue, it will definitely impact the city of Baton Rouge and the services provided. There are so many questions to be answered such as: the sewer project, the green light projects, law enforcement services that if the ‘City of St. George’ contracts with the sheriff ‘s dept. there is a strong possibility of taxes going up in that area. But proponents believe that isn’t the case. And this is not just predicated on law enforcement, it’s all services a city needs.  

    This has all come about over the school system not passing and the fact that the group refused to factually deal with the legacy costs they would burden EBR with. There is no guarantee that if a city is formed that the school system is approved. It still will require 70 votes to pass.

    It is quite interesting in how the lines were drawn as well. Questions should be on many citizens’ minds on the reasons certain areas were not pulled in. One has but to go back to the videos of the bill being vetted in education committee and hear the comments of some of the citizens who testified that they did not want certain children in their schools.” said State Rep.Patricia Haynes Smith, District 67.

    Headline: Fiscal issues grim if BR loses St. George – The Advocate

    Fact: St. George would take with it two malls that provide Baton Rouge with 40 % of its sales tax revenue which would create a $53 million budget shortfall for Baton Rouge.

    The proposed city of St. George would cost the city-parish government $85 million, or 30 %, of its annual general fund revenue according to a Dec. 1 report conducted by LSU economist – commissioned by BRAC and BRAF. Even if the city-parish government reduced its per-capita spending to account for the drop in population, it would still face a budget shortfall of $53 million each year. Since 29 % of the general fund goes to the Baton Rouge Police Department, the report findings conclude that the city-parish government would be forced to reduce police services within the Baton Rouge city limits and remaining unincorporated areas.

     

    Representative Chauna Banks-Daniel District 2

    Representative Chauna Banks-Daniel, District 2

    “Due to the disproportion of concentration placed on increased economic development in the southern part of the city-parish and not in the northern part, there are unfair constraints with respect to business, housing, education and recreational activities. The proposed City of St. George places an unfavorable or disadvantageous impact of law enforcement and other public services. This action would actively be harmful for my constituent’s quality of life. My concerns about this proposal [are] that it will result in higher taxes and fewer services for low-and moderate-income people,” said Metro Councilwoman Chauna Banks-Daniel (District 2).

     

    Representative Regina Ashford Barrow, District 29

     

     

     

     

    I am against the St. George breakaway measure because of the numerous negative consequences it would have on Baton Rouge. Leaders of the “Incorporate St. George” movement indicate that one of the main purposes of the St. George breakaway is to “keep some of the tax dollars that are in this area, in this area.” However, this notion is based on the flawed presumption that those within the immediate vicinity only support all of the businesses in the proposed St. George area and that’s not true. To this point, the Mall of Louisiana and Perkins Rowe are supported by the entirety of Baton Rouge not just local individuals. Ironically, the infrastructure for this retail center was built with tax dollars from the entirety of Baton Rouge. I’m against for the following reasons: Because of the fiscal impact it will have on the city of Baton Rouge as currently constituted. The sales tax dollars that currently support the local parish government would be greatly diminished because of a reduced tax base; Because of the negative impact it will have on the remaining city because of the drawing of the boundary lines, if its going to be inclusive of South Baton Rouge than it should include all of South Baton Rouge. The proposed city is gerrymandered. It excludes Gardere but stretches up to encompass Towne Center. Because this is regressive, with all the steps made to make BR the next great city, this move will take the city back 20-30 years. I believe it certainly will make it more difficult to draw more companies and businesses to our city/ If this were to happen, immediately it would cause a huge budget deficit in the city’s current budget forcing cuts in parish-wide services and programs, like police protection and road construction. A study by the Baton Rouge Area Chamber found that the effects of the partition would be economically devastating for the remainder of Baton Rouge, immediately creating a $53 million budget shortfall. Obviously, this would have a negative impact on future economic development projects. Additionally, this would reduce diversity in the East Baton Rouge Parish School system as well as remove much needed funding from a school system already in need. What many people fail to realize is when companies’ look to invest in and move into an area they consider many factors and one factor is the climate of the communities – if the community is closed minded and regressive than they view that as impacted future growth. The concept of One Baton Rouge was formed to foster community and unite growth. Certainly when you look at how the lines are drawn the issue of race and class must come up. The lines are drawn to exclude a segment of the community that is comprised of mostly minorities and families that are economically distressed. Then it gerrymanders up to incorporate a part of the city that is central of the city to harness that income and tax base. At the end of the day this become a lose-lose for us all! Certainly there must be a better way to address some of their concerns without slicing and dicing the community,” said State Rep. Regina Ashford Barrow (District 29)

    Headline: Baton Rouge’s Magnet Schools Threatened by St. George Incorporation – Nola.com

    Fact: East Baton Rouge is able to offer its magnet schools because it is a large district with about 43,000 students, and has the resources and student population to support specialized programs.

    There are about 6,200 East Baton Rouge Parish public school students who live in the St. George area but attend school outside those city limits, according to the group One Community, One School District, which opposes the St. George effort. That includes magnet students and others who would be displaced if a new district is established in St. George.

    Craig Freeman

    Representative Craig Freeman , EBR School Board District 2

    [As] a member of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, I am against the city of St. George. I know that the System’s retirement liability exceeds $300 Million. I think taking newly built schools while leaving retirement liability creates the potential for disaster for education in the Parish. We are a system that saw 42% of schools improve a letter grade; we cut expenses and increased revenue; we produce the overwhelming portion of national merit and national achievement scholars in the parish; and we have only one failing comprehensive school in the system (less than A-rated systems nearby). Anyone that thinks they should leave the System to create a better system within the parish should spend time in our fantastic schools,” said Craig M. Freeman, East Baton Rouge Parish School Board representative for District 6.

    Representative Edward “Ted” James II ,District 101

    Representative Edward “Ted” James II ,District 101

     

     

    I am totally against the division of our city. The racial division will not bring our parish forward and the erosion of tax revenue would affect services for the city. The people behind this movement are blinded by their need to devastate our schools,” said State Representative Edward “Ted” James II (District 101)

     Representative Vereta Lee ,East Baton Rouge Parish School Board District 7

    Representative Vereta Lee ,East Baton Rouge Parish School Board District 7

     

     

    I am against the current proposal to create the City of St. George, because it will affect the quality of education that all of our children are receiving.

    My opposition primarily stems from the fact that this proposal, just like the proposal to create a new school system in the Southeast portion of the parish, unnecessarily divides the residents of the city/parish along the all too familiar lines of race, and class. This is morally wrong!!

    The impact on the City of Baton Rouge will be decidedly negative. Not only will this impact the city’s functions and operations, it will impact our local school system, children, and quality of life,” said District 7 East Baton Rouge Parish School Board Representative Vereta Lee.

     

    Headline: Richer white people in Greater Baton Rouge seek to secede from poor Black neighbors – Huffington Post

    Fact: After Hurricane Katrina more than 200,000 New Orleans residents – mainly Black – moved to the northern, urban parts of the city. The new city would be 70 % white, compared to Baton Rouge which is 55 % Black.

    The Dec. 1 report also points out the significant income gap between the two populations, concluding that a new city of St. George would be one of the wealthiest in Louisiana:

    Perhaps the most notable difference between the two cities is found in the household income characteristics. The proposed city has a mean household income $30,000 higher than the City of Baton Rouge. More than 60 % of the households in Baton Rouge have incomes below $50,000, while more than 60 % of the households in the new city have incomes above $50,000 … [M]ore than 14,000 households in the City of Baton Rouge receiv[e] SNAP benefits compared to fewer than 3,000 in the proposed new city. One quarter of the households in Baton Rouge receive some kind of Social Security income, while in the proposed city that ratio is one in five.

    Baton Rouge Metro Councilwoman Donna Collins Lewis , District 6

    Baton Rouge Metro Councilwoman Donna Collins Lewis , District 6

    “If their only reason for incorporation is for the independent school district, this seems to be a drastic step in getting there by any means necessary.  In my opinion, the incorporation would only serve to further racially divide the city/parish.  Our city already has a great divide north of Florida Blvd. which will only be further exasperated by the incorporation of St. George. The impact will be negative for District 6 and the entire city/parish of Baton Rouge with a huge loss of our current tax base.  There is still much to be learned on the negative impact this effort will have on public safety, the overall structure of city parish government and the overall continued economic growth of our city. This is one to be watched closely,” said Baton Rouge Metro Councilwoman Donna Collins Lewis (District 6).

    Headline: A Tale of Two Cities from the dailymail.co.uk (The United Kingdom)

    Fact: Leaders of the St. George secession claim they are creating an ‘open city’ and deny it will have any negative impact.

    Leaders of the St. George secession effort deny that racial segregation is the reason behind their plans. They claim the new city will be ‘wide open’ and downplay warnings of fiscal disaster for the rest of the city. But opponents note that city funds were used to develop the retail areas that would end up sucking in sales taxes from residents of the poorer part of the city.

    Sharon Weston-Broome State Senator and President Pro Tempore, District 15.

    Sharon Weston-Broome State 

    Senator and President Pro Tempore, District 15.

     

    “I am not in favor of any effort by any group that divides Baton Rouge or East Baton Rouge Parish. The effort to create a new city within the parish divides us on many levels. Rarely do we solve our problems through isolation. Divided we fall…we fail. I’ve worked and continue to work to bring people together to find common ground and solutions to improve the quality of life for everyone in the parish,” said Sharon Weston-Broome State Senator and President Pro Tempore, District 15.

    Fact: Breakaway town would have higher income, lower unemployment, less people on benefits… and a white majority population.

    Here is an estimated comparison of racial makeup between Baton Rouge and St. George, according to figures compiled by the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, if the incorporation is successful.

    BATON ROUGE

    Population:230,000
    Black:
     55 %
    White:
     40 %
    Asian:
     3 %
    Hispanic/Latino:
     3 %
    Average income:
     $58k
    Unemployment rate:
     9.2 per cent
    Receive food stamps:
     17 per cent

    ST. GEORGE

    Population: 100,000

    White: 70 %

    Black: 23 %

    Hispanic/Latino: 6 %

    Asian: 4 %

    Average income: $88k

    Unemployment rate: 4.8 %

    Receive food stamps: 7 %

    d

     Metro Councilwoman Ronnie Edwards ,District 5

     “At the end of the day, this issue reminds me of “The Hunger Games” movie as it relates to a few people demanding power, money and control at the expense of the majority who happen to be less fortunate. This started being an education issue and has quickly evolved into a much more complicated set of issues that historically has not produced a good or a godly result.  It is showing all of the ugly sides of humanity and what people are willing to destroy to get their way at the expense of everyone else,” said Baton Rouge Metro Councilwoman Ronnie Edwards (District 5)

    Editors’s Note: All elected officials who represent The Drum newspaper’s readers in this area were invited to provide comment for this story. Those officials not included did not respond to email request for comment.

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  • South Louisiana’s Invisible Epidemic

     

    HIV/AIDS cases in S.E. Louisiana remain among highest in the nation

    Louisiana has long sat at the bottom of statistics for things like overall well-being and education. But, in 2012, Baton Rougeans found themselves, unfortunately, at the top of one of the least ideal statistics in the country. The city was named number one for AIDS cases per capita, with New Orleans following in second.

    In Baton Rouge, there are nearly 5000 diagnosed cases of HIV/AIDS.

    Overall, HIV continues to disproportionately affect Blacks in Louisiana. As shown in a 2007 survey, 72% of newly diagnosed HIV cases and 75% of newly diagnosed AIDS cases were among African Americans.

    This year, The Baton Rouge AIDS Society revealed that the capital city now ranks 4th for AIDS case rates among the largest metropolitan areas in the United States, and leads Louisiana in the highest rate of AIDS cases overall. Of these numbers, 31% of new HIV cases and 31% of new AIDS cases in Louisiana are among women – with the number one mode of transmission being heterosexual activities.

    Dr. Joyce Turner Keller is one of those women.

    Keller was diagnosed in 2001 following a car accident, in which she developed a staph infection, requiring medical treatment. She said she believes she contracted the virus in 1995 when she was raped at age 45.

    “I tell people all the time that it doesn’t matter how I got it,” Keller said. “The fact is that I deal with the same side effects, the same discrimination, the same ills and the same rejection that everybody else deals with when they’re dealing with HIV.”

     

    Keller is a Baton Rouge area bishop. She is also the founder of Aspirations, a non-profit organization serving the needs of hurting people, regardless of race, creed, gender preference, age or social class, infected with or affected by the HIV/AIDS virus. Part of her influence to head up the organization came from an encounter with a pastor, who she said told her matter-of-factly “there’s no AIDS in my church.” Upon disagreeing with the pastor’s statement, Keller reflected on her own past ignorance of the virus.

     

    “I didn’t think that HIV had anything to do with me before being diagnosed,” Keller said. “I’m a praying woman; I’m a woman of the church; I’m a woman in the ministry; I didn’t smoke; I didn’t drink; I didn’t party and I’ve never been high. I wasn’t into commercial sex; I wasn’t a stripper; I wasn’t gay; I wasn’t white; I didn’t have a lot of boyfriends. So, to me, before I was diagnosed, HIV was a foreign word – it was somebody else.”

     

    This fall Keller produced a play based upon her encounter with the aforementioned pastor, titled “No AIDS in my Church”.  She said the mission was to make audiences think about the reality of ministers believing that AIDS doesn’t exist in the church and to emphasis that the virus is has many faces.

     

    “I think it’s imperative that people see HIV looks like them – that every face is the face of HIV,” Keller said. “No matter how many times you look at me, you can’t see HIV, unless I tell it.”

     

    Now, living a mildly healthy life since her diagnosis, Keller said she takes one pill specifically for HIV and a host of other medications for accompanying ailments. But, most importantly, Keller said she lives right.

     

    “I eat right, I get plenty of rest and I refuse to get stressed out,” Keller said. “I don’t let other people’s problems become mine. I limit my involvement with outside interference. I don’t allow junk into my spiritual or mental needs – that’s how I stay healthy – that keeps you well.”

     

    Staying healthy is something that Patrice Melnick knows well. A resident of Grand Coteau, La., she has been living with HIV for nearly 30 years. She was diagnosed at age 26 in 1987, during an emergency medical trip home from Bangassou in the C.A.R, where she served in the Peace Corps for two years. She said she believes she contracted the virus from one of her boyfriends who was native to Africa.

     

    In 2012, her memoir, Po-Boy Contraband – From Diagnosis Back to Life was published.

     

    “Writers are looking for a kind of breakthrough,” Melnick said. “I was often writing about other cultures, African, Native American. When one does this, you get into tricky territory, and can be accused of exploitation, though no one ever accused me. Then it occurred to me, I could exploit myself, and my own story with this taboo topic. Writers can be a little warped. In life, sometimes I remove myself from a situation and stop thinking about how the struggle or distress makes me feel and start considering what a provocative story I have to work with.”

     

    Melnick explained that for many years she felt invisible by not revealing her status to those around her. At the time that she was diagnosed, the disease was almost exclusively associated with gay men and most people who were not gay men assumed they could not get it. She said the stigma was much like that of an individual living outside of a crime ridden area and believing that he/she is immune to criminal activity.

     

    Melnick said she didn’t believe herself to be at high-risk for HIV.

     

    Practicing sex only safe enough to prevent birth, Melnick actively took her birth control pills. This was due to the lack of HIV/AIDS awareness and education in the 1980’s. It was the type of ignorance that made Melnick believe that she was a bad person for contracting the virus.

     

    “Americans, especially religious Americans, like to believe there is a reason for everything,” Melnick said. “Because of taboos about sex, they associate STDs with blame. I think I accepted this at first. But then I thought of things in a broader perspective—most healthy humans are sexually active with great inconsistency regarding use of prophylactics, and it’s not useful to dwell on illusions of blame, guilt and innocence.”

     

    More than just general response to the virus, other things have changed as well with education and research. Melnick’s once 7 pills daily is now just two pills daily. She said she stays healthy through exercise, balanced diet, quiet time, regular doctor visits and annual check-ups.

     

    “Initially, I believed I had no hope and I was quick to accept those who believed I did not have long to live,” Melnick said. “In truth, I did not expect to live long.  At first I made short term plans.  Then, nothing happened, so I made longer term plans.  Now here I am concerned about keeping health and life insurance, and retirement.”

     

    Knowing that HIV is no longer a death sentence is something that International HIV/AIDS activist and humanitarian Hydeia Broadbent, of Nevada wants people to understand. She contracted HIV in the womb through her birth mother’s needle-injected drug addiction.

     

    She developed full blown AIDS by age three.

     

    Now 29-years-old, she travels the country in hopes of educating people about the virus. It’s something she has been known for since she was five-years-old.

     

    “When I go around, I basically try to use my life, as a person living with full blown AIDS, as a cautionary tale, because HIV is 100% preventable,” Broadbent said. “I think a lot of people feel like if they contract HIV, they can take a pill and they’ll be okay. So, I try to go into what the reality of living with AIDS is truly like to encourage people to make wise choices like testing in relationships, practicing safe sex and taking care of their bodies.”

     

    A typical day for Broadbent used to start with medications, but her insurance policy recently expired citing non renewal due to the Affordable Care Act. Her daily regimen for the past two months, since being dropped off her plan, includes lots of vitamins, exercise and a healthy diet. This is a routine she said she has always abided by, but more cautionary now because of being without medication.

     

    The total price of her three medications is $3,400 monthly.

     

    “I try not to stress about [the health insurance],” Broadbent said. “I wonder if I can afford the plans, I wonder if I can get back on a plan, just a lot of uncertainty right now.”

     

    Broadbent said she was always public about her status, having spent much of childhood in the hospital with other HIV/AIDS infected children; she didn’t know she was different until middle school. Upon the realization that everybody didn’t have AIDS, she began her activism in the 1990’s when the still semi-taboo HIV/AIDS prevention had become popular through people like Ryan White and Magic Johnson.

     

    It was then that Broadbent realized that while life may be more difficult with AIDS, it is no longer a death sentence.

     

    “The most important thing is to know your status,” Broadbent said. “If you are HIV negative, do everything in your power to stay negative. If you’re positive, the first thing is to obtain and maintain healthcare. Then it’s just in general, being open with your sexual partner and talk to them about getting tested together and about your expectations in your relationship.”

     

    ONLINE:www.hyediabroadbent.net

    www.aspiringdreams.co/

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • Judge Honored By State Bar Association

    Judge Sheva M. Sims, who provides over Division D of Shreveport City Court, was selected to receive a Louisiana State Bar Association Crystal Gavel Award. Judge Sims was recognized for outstanding volunteer efforts with local community groups.

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  • Second Chances

    Second Chances- LaSundra Pitts

    Amite, LA-native LaSundra Pitts’ first novel Second Chances is a fast-paced story perfect for casual, light summer reading while on vacation. Categorized as Christian fiction, Second Chances where the stories of four characters blend with forgiveness, loneliness, and redemption between families and unlikely lovers. BuytheBook.

    Online: www.lasundrapitts.com

     

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  • Juneteenth

    Juneteenth-Ralph Ellison

    Yes, the Ralph Ellison has a novel on freedom, published posthumously in 1999. A fascinating tale of the attempted assassination of Senator Bliss Sunraider who passes for white and reeks havoc on the Black constituents who reared him as a young man. On his death bed, he calls for the man who loved him most, his adopted father and biological uncle the Rev. AZ Hickman, an old Black preacher. Hidden within the story line is the celebration that freedom comes only when Whites recognize that their freedom is tied to the freedom of Blacks. Wonderfully written as only Ellison can. BuytheBook.

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  • A New White House Report Highlights the Need for a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill

     

    This week, the White House released a new report showing the critical need for Congressional passage of a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. This comprehensive report highlights how the thriving business of agriculture is a cornerstone of America’s economy, creating jobs and boosting opportunity.

    Agricultural production and its related sectors contributed $743 billion to U.S. GDP in 2011, accounting for nearly 5 percent of economic output. Today about one out of every 12 jobs in the United States are connected in some way to agriculture.

    Meanwhile, driven by the productivity of our farmers and ranchers, agricultural exports reached their highest mark ever in 2013 at more than $140 billion. Due in part to trade promotion programs in the Farm Bill, the five-year period from 2009-2013 is the strongest in history for agricultural exports. Compared to the previous five-year period, the U.S. is exporting an average of four million tons more bulk commodities each year. These exports alone support more than a million jobs.

    A new Farm Bill would give producers the tools they need to continue fueling agriculture to new heights, while promoting quality U.S. products abroad. Ultimately, as shown in this week’s report, those efforts have a positive impact across our entire economy.

    At the same time, the White House report notes continuing economic challenges in rural areas that would be addressed, in part, by investments in the new Farm Bill.  Eighty-five percent of persistent poverty counties in America—counties where poverty has been high for decades—are in rural areas. And between 2010 and 2012, rural America actually lost population.

    A new Farm Bill would provide needed investment in rural infrastructure that would create jobs and boost quality of life in rural America.  It would invest in the growing biobased economy that holds a promising future for our small towns – both through the creation of clean, renewable energy and the manufacture of advanced biobased products. It would strengthen conservation activities on America’s farms and ranches that expand opportunity for outdoor recreation and help to boost income in rural communities. All of these activities would help to revitalize rural areas.

    And a new Farm Bill would provide critical nutrition assistance for American families who are working hard but struggling to make ends meet.

    For more than two years, the Obama Administration has advocated for passage of a comprehensive, multiyear Food, Farm and Jobs Bill.  This week’s report is just another reminder: Americans can’t be left without a Farm Bill any longer. The stakes for our national economy, our agricultural production, and our rural communities are simply too high for inaction – and Congress should finish its work on the Farm Bill without delay.

     

    Read more »
  • Protein Gene May be Cause of Heart Disease in African Americans

    According to health blog, New Scientist, Black Americans are twice as likely to develop heart disease as White Americans, and a gene may be the cause, a new study has found.

    The study found that fragments circulating in the blood, known as platelets, can form blood clots, a classic element of heart disease and heart attack, more easily in African Americans.

    “Unexpectedly, we found that platelets from black donors clotted faster and to a greater extent in response to the naturally occurring clotting agent, thrombin,” says Paul Bray  of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who led the work. “This provides a new understanding of the effects of race on heart disease and other blood-clot related illnesses.”

    For the study, blood samples were taken from 70 black and 84 white volunteers. It was found that the gene that produces a particular type of protein, which activates clotting, is four times more active in blacks than in whites.

    Black people are very poorly represented in most clinical studies on heart disease,” he says. “Our findings suggest doctors cannot therefore assume that heart disease treatment studies on whites will hold true for everyone.”

    An important implication, says Bray, is that we need to develop a wider array of treatments to make sure that there are drugs that work for everyone.

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  • Voting Rights Champion to Lead DOJ Division

    Former NAACP Legal Defense Fund attorney Debo Adegbile has been tapped by the Obama Administration to serve as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights of the US Department of Justice.

    President Barack Obama nominate Adegbile, senior counsel for the US Senate Judiciary Committee, to take over as head of the  Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

    Debo Adegbile

    Debo Adegbile

    He is best known as the attorney who argued on behalf of preserving the Voting Rights Act before the US Supreme Court. Adegbile defended it twice successfully when it was challenged in 2006 and again this past February before Chief John Roberts; court removed key provisions of the landmark civil rights bill.

    Adegbile also represented Hurricane Katrina evacuees in a federal voting rights lawsuit shortly after the storm.

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  • Violent Crimes Decrease in Baton Rouge

    Murder and violent crimes declined sharply in Baton Rouge in the first half of 2013 compared to 2012. Police department statistics also show a decline in property crimes also.

    The Advocate reported that the stats showed an overall decrease of more than 13 percent in crime during the first half of 2013 compared with first half of 2012. Murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery and assaults- are down nearly 25 percent while property crimes- theft; burglary, auto theft and arson are down by nearly 11 percent.

    Cpl. Don Coppola Jr. said the Baton Rouge Area Violent Elimination Project and police street operations aimed at curbing violent crimes are factors in reducing crime numbers in Baton Rouge.

    Read more »
  • A New White House Report Highlights the Need for a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill

    This week, the White House released a new report showing the critical need for Congressional passage of a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. This comprehensive report highlights how the thriving business of agriculture is a cornerstone of America’s economy, creating jobs and boosting opportunity.

     

    Agricultural production and its related sectors contributed $743 billion to U.S. GDP in 2011, accounting for nearly 5 percent of economic output. Today about one out of every 12 jobs in the United States are connected in some way to agriculture.

     

    Meanwhile, driven by the productivity of our farmers and ranchers, agricultural exports reached their highest mark ever in 2013 at more than $140 billion. Due in part to trade promotion programs in the Farm Bill, the five-year period from 2009-2013 is the strongest in history for agricultural exports. Compared to the previous five-year period, the U.S. is exporting an average of four million tons more bulk commodities each year. These exports alone support more than a million jobs.

     

    A new Farm Bill would give producers the tools they need to continue fueling agriculture to new heights, while promoting quality U.S. products abroad. Ultimately, as shown in this week’s report, those efforts have a positive impact across our entire economy.

     

    At the same time, the White House report notes continuing economic challenges in rural areas that would be addressed, in part, by investments in the new Farm Bill.  Eighty-five percent of persistent poverty counties in America—counties where poverty has been high for decades—are in rural areas. And between 2010 and 2012, rural America actually lost population.

     

    A new Farm Bill would provide needed investment in rural infrastructure that would create jobs and boost quality of life in rural America.  It would invest in the growing biobased economy that holds a promising future for our small towns – both through the creation of clean, renewable energy and the manufacture of advanced biobased products. It would strengthen conservation activities on America’s farms and ranches that expand opportunity for outdoor recreation and help to boost income in rural communities. All of these activities would help to revitalize rural areas.

     

    And a new Farm Bill would provide critical nutrition assistance for American families who are working hard but struggling to make ends meet.

     

    For more than two years, the Obama Administration has advocated for passage of a comprehensive, multiyear Food, Farm and Jobs Bill.  This week’s report is just another reminder: Americans can’t be left without a Farm Bill any longer. The stakes for our national economy, our agricultural production, and our rural communities are simply too high for inaction – and Congress should finish its work on the Farm Bill without delay.

     

    Read more »
  • Village of Tangipahoa Volunteers Completes Landscaping Project

    The Village of Tangipahoa received a new face lift just in time for the holiday season.

    Tangipahoa resident Randy Nelson wanted to make a different in the town. He and Terry Martin trimmed trees along Hwy 51 to provide  a better view, he said.

    “The ball begins to roll when other volunteers join in to help make a difference in the town,” said Nelson. “We’re very thankful to our loyal businesses who donated the necessary material for the completion of the landscaping project.”

    The bricks were donated by Kentwood Brick, Kentwood, Leroy Garrett and Perino’s Garden Center, New Orleans, donated the mums. Hedge bushes, flower bushes were donated by Brumfield’s Nursery of Folsom, and Kentwood Hardware donated paint to brighten up the tables throughout the park.

    Tangipahoa Mayor Brenda Nevels and staff said they are elated with the great job the volunteers did to beautify the town and make a difference.

    The volunteers also inspired the community to come together and get involved in preparing for the Christmas holidays by donating Christmas lights and flags to assist in the downtown decoration.

    This year’s Christmas Theme is “Christmas in the Village” and  the annual Christmas parade will be December 14, at noon.     For information, call the Dorothy Lewis at the City Hall, (985) 229-8300 M-F 3pm-5pm.

     

     

     

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  • Foundation Launches Black Cancer Research Group

    The Philadelphia Prostate Cancer Foundation is striving to raise $400,000 to launch the first African American prostate cancer research group. PCF officials say this is the first effort of its kind in the country.

    “This is one of the most important projects that I have ever worked on because of the chance there is to make a difference,” said Rebecca Boudwin, executive director of the PPCF.

    Boudwin noted that one out of two African-American men would be diagnosed with prostate cancer.

    If the foundation is successful in meeting its goal of raising $400,000 by the end of the year the organization would be eligible for larger government grants by entities such as the National Institutes of Health.

    Last year, PCCF launched an African-American committee, which is led by Congressman Chaka Fattah. Various athletes, physicians business and community leaders are members of the community.

    Dr. Curtiland Deville, committee member and a radiation oncologist at University of Pennsylvania said there are a number of factors that need to be studied to determine why African American men have higher incidents of prostate cancer than white men.

    “What’s more compelling is Black men are twice as likely to die from prostate cancer, than white men are,” said Deville.

    “The bottom line is we don’t know what those reasons are. Are there socioeconomic issues with healthcare access – issues with bias or institutional racism? Or are there underlying environmental factors – diet and lifestyle and underlying biologic issues? I think all of those are factors that need to be studied and investigated and we need funding to be able to do that,”

    Deville said this is an opportunity the community to become involved in supporting a unique research effort.

    “Even if you give a small amount, here’s your opportunity to buy into [finding] the reason why Black men are more affected by prostate cancer,” he stated.

    The foundation would use the funds to hire a director for the research program and build the research group. The goal is to launch the research group by June 1, 2014.

     

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  • Tis the Season for Smart Shopping

     

    I’ve spent the last three years of this column sharing with you important facts about African-Americans’ consumer power.  And, I know those of us who are certified black-belts in the time-honored martial art of shopping, are fired up for the Black Friday super sales with our artillery of cash and/or credit cards in hand.  But first, let’s breathe deeply and think about this, especially in light of recent allegations of retail establishments questioning purchases made by Blacks, which have brought the very essence of our purchasing power under assault.  Now, more than ever, it’s important for us to understand what it means to be a Conscious Consumer – particularly during the busiest shopping season of the year.

    These are a few important questions you should ask yourself before making any consumer decision:

    1) Did I find this service or product in my neighborhood?
    2) Does this company, network or business hire people who look like me?
    3) Do I see positive images of myself reflected in the content this company or program promotes?
    4) Does this company have a history of supporting causes that better my community?
    5) Am I still willing to spend my limited time or hard earned dollars with this company if the answer to any of the above questions is no?

    With that in mind, Nielsen’s Holiday Spending Forecast expects this shopping season to be financially stronger than last year, with dollar sales up about two percent.  Even though an increase in sales is predicted, 68 percent of shoppers who responded to the survey still feel as though they’re in a recession.  Twenty percent of U.S. consumers say they have no cash to spare.  Forty-eight percent report living comfortably or spending freely.  Fifty-two percent of consumers are only buying on the basics.

     

    Thirty percent of us across all income ranges say we’ll spend between $250 – $500 on gifts this year.  Twenty percent of consumers estimate they will spend between $500 – $1,000, with just six percent predicting that they’ll drop more than $1,000.  How, where and on what are we expected to spend our money?  Dollar stores are expected to enjoy a banner season, with 12 percent of consumers in households earning $50,000 or less, reporting plans to shop in these channels, versus four percent of consumers in households earning $100,000 and up.  Twenty percent of those consumers in the $100,000+ category say they will be shopping more online, compared to 15 percent of consumers in households earning less than $50,000.

     

    The 10 hottest holiday items for 2013 are as follows:

    1. Gift cards
    2. Tech products
    3. Toys
    4. Food
    5. Apparel
    6. Video games
    7. Cookware
    8. Sporting goods
    9. Jewelry
    10.  Alcoholic beverages.

    Nielsen has traditionally been on point with holiday spending projections, successfully predicting five out of five category trends last year.  The information is gathered from consumer surveys of more than 22,000 households of all demographic groups across the country and an analysis of 92 product categories with over $99 billion in sales.  Lots of us enjoy making putting smiles on faces with a little “holiday cheer,” so beer, liquor and wine sales are expected to contribute between $60 million and $70 to the bottom line this season.  Snacks and candy are expected to bring in $199 million and $95 million in sales, respectively.  Sales of holiday treats like cheese, jams and jellies are also expected to jump.  We love our canine-American and feline-American family members; so, pet care is expected to grow by 5.3% and pet food 1.4%.

     

    Now that we’ve talked about this year’s holiday shopping trends, are you among the 22 percent of U.S. consumers who have already begun holiday shopping? Or, do you find yourself among the 60 percent who love the adrenalin rush of crowds and last minute deals – or, just master procrastinators?

     

    African-Americans are frequent shoppers, savvy digital users, high volume owners of smartphones and users of social media and voracious consumers of media – in other words, powerful consumers.  We cannot expect different results if our consumption patterns and habits don’t change.  It’s just that simple; no matter what time of year it is.

     

    So, happy holiday shopping, but remember, the final decision to be a Conscious Consumer is yours to make.   As always, I encourage you to choose wisely.  And, don’t forget to chat with us on Twitter or Facebook so we can keep the conversation going.

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  • The Network Coalition celebrates 20 years in N.O.

    A twenty year old think tank of Louisiana and Mississippi Black elected officials that works to improve public policy outcomes, recently saluted the leadership of Southern University chancellor James Llorens, Legislative Black Caucus chair State Representative Katrina Jackson, Acadian Companies executives Ray Bias and Terry Landry Jr., and former New Orleans city councilman Oliver Thomas.

    Known as The Network Coalition, the group gathers annually during the Southern University versus Jackson State football weekend and again in New Orleans during the Bayou Classic.

    This year, The Network celebrated supporters and leaders who helped start the coalition, including community leader Eva Shanklin, corporate supporter William “Bill” Oliver, the Network chairman Joe Fuller, members of the Louisiana Municipal Association Black Caucus (represented by current president the Rev. Glenn Green), CAWAN Resource Group, and members of the Black Caucus Police Jury Association of Louisiana (represented by the current president Maggie Daniel).

    More than two hundred guests celebrate the growth of the Network and the work of policy leaders throughout the state of Louisiana.

    The event is organized annually by VCI International Inc president Allen Semien Sr.

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  • The Soles of My Shoes

    Danielle Martin – The Soles of My Shoes

    Danielle Alysse Martin is an entrepreneur and musician serving as the founder and owner of Press Play Theatre, a Christian-based performing arts company, creator of Pressed Down Apparel, a Christian T-shirt company and the manager, as well as a member, of Israel Martin and God’s Ultimate Praise.  The Soles of My Shoes is the entrepreneur’s first literary work. The collection of inspirational poems is divided into four sections: Learning To Walk, Running For My Life, If The Shoe Fits, and Struttin’ My Stuff. The Soles of My Shoes was written by Martin to inspire women from all “walks” of life. Martin said passion for women and the desire to assist them in their walk with Christ led her to found the company and blog, Pretty Girls Praise. The Soles of My Shoes can be purchased at thesolesofmyshoes.com and during the month of October half of the proceeds from the book will be donated to the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center.

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  • The Positive Diva Speaks

    HIV! The Positive Diva Speaks!

    Despite the conversation that HIV/AIDS is a silent killer, I beg to differ. The voice of fear screams loudly, the spread of stigma and ignorance is deafening, the loss of love ones from the virus is real, the grief is our living with the shame and blame is disheartening! How can anyone see the effects of the HIV/AIDS virus in our community pretend that to recognize its impact? Recently, I spoke to a group and said that each one should look in the mirror and see the face of HIV. There is no certain look. It definitely looks like me! I did not have to audition for the virus. It cared not about my race, gender, gender preference, social position, education, or religion. I never went to a physician to get a prescription for HIV. It can happen to anyone. A marriage license, wedding ring, and a mortgage does not protect you from getting infected with HIV.

    As an professional woman, minister, daughter, mother, sister, grandmother, and friend, I must lend my voice to raise awareness to save lives. I must be the face of truth, the good, bad, and ugly regarding HIV. It does not matter how you become infected! The results are the same, stigma, shame, blame, and discrimination become a part of everyday life. You are judged, called bad names, and often told that no one should love you. You are invited to fewer events, receive fewer calls, and sometimes no visits from family or friends. We are social animals and need to be hugged, kissed, laughed with, held, and cried with. We need to be encouraged and supported.

     

    I am more than just a woman living with HIV/AIDS. I am the voice of the silent, the face of those ashamed to disclose, the strength of those afraid, I am wind under the ones that need help to rise. I am an advocate and servant!

    Thank you reading my commentary, get tested,get test results, protect yourself and those you love, get involved, help make a difference!

    Dr. Joyce Turner Keller,

    “The Positive Diva”

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  • The Gospel According to Cane- Courttia Newland

    Black British author Courttia Newland brings a gripping story of an abducted child who returns home as a young adult full of anger, grief, and love. Set in contemporary London, the novel tells the desperate story of Beverley whose son was kidnapped from a locked, parked car while dad bought dinner. After 20 years of trying to piece her life back together, her son, Malakay, reappears as a temporary stalker opening the mail slot of her front door at night and calling her name. Fascinating story of redemption. BuytheBook.

    Online: www.courttianewland.com

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  • Southern Seniors Plan to End Football Season as Champions

    Southern University  football seniors, will leave SU with a winning season
 

Senior night for the Southern University football team was truly a milestone.

    The Southern University Jaguars demolished the Clark Atlanta Panthers 53-0 Saturday, November 16 at home in A.W. Mumford stadium.

    The game marked the last time the football seniors will play in A.W. Mumford stadium, and after shutting out Clark Atlanta, it is safe to say the seniors are leaving with a bang.

    “This was a great game all around for all of the players.” said senior, quarterback Dray Joseph. “All the seniors were able to go out on senior night with a victory.” continued Joseph.

    The shutout was not the only highlight of the game, senior; quarterback Dray Joseph became Southern’s all-time leader for career passing yards. Early in the first half, Joseph completed to receiver Lee Doss for a 6-yard gain, totaling Joseph’s passing yards to 8,194 yards, advancing pass former Southern quarterback Bryant Lee.

    “I’m really good friends with Bryant, I talk to him almost every day”, said Joseph. “He knew I was going to break his record tonight, he actually told me he knew I was going to break it before I came to Southern.”

    Joseph may have set a new record, but it was the Jaguars rushing game that sparked the attention. The Jaguars finished with the 318 rushing yards, the most since 2009 when they racked up 349 yards against Central State.

    “We were always capable to run the ball” said freshmen, running back Lenard Tillery. “A lot of people have asked me why we do not run the ball, it’s not that we can’t, it’s the point we might get stuck in tight situations and we must let our quarterback and wide receivers handle it.”

    From the struggling seasons to the coaching staff changes, the seniors certainly endured their growing pains at Southern. But after clinching the Western Divisional Championship for the Southwestern Atlantic Conference, the products from the 2009 football team can say they will leave Southern with a winning record.

    Before heading to Houston, Texas in December for the Southwestern Atlantic Conference Championship, the Jags will prepare for their battle on the bayou, as they take on longtime rival Grambling State University for the Bayou Classic. 
 
“Being able to play in the Mercedes Benz Superdome is going to be amazing” said Tillery, excited for his first Bayou Classic. “My family and I have gone every year; it’s a great game and a great tradition.”

    The 40th annual Bayou Classic weekend will kick off Friday. That night, the Southern University Human Jukebox will battle against the Grambling State marching Tigers at the battle of the bands following the Greek show at 6 p.m. at the Mercedes Benz Superdome. 
The game will have kick off at 1:30 pm, Saturday, November 30 at the Mercedes Benz Superdome. Door will open at noon.

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  • What is Man

    What is Man-Lenard Tillery

    Lenard Tillery is an author and songwriter currently residing in Baton Rouge with wife of 20 years, Lisa and their six children. What is Man is the New Orleans native’s second literary work that explains while living mankind can possess the supernatural in the natural world and have the ability for the Spirit of God to dwell in an earthen vessel. Tillery explains to readers when God removes the life within the human spirit at His appointed time, the human body will experience a physical death and return to the dust from where it came. Then, each person’s living soul will spend eternity in its final destination based upon the everyday choices and activities. Tillery’s What is Man provides the resources that will help readers define and discover the purpose, functions and components of their human spirit, living soul, and body. BuytheBook.
    Online: www.lenardtillery.com

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  • Understanding Your Calling

    Understanding Your Calling-Ginger London

    Baton Rouge minister Ginger London’s study manual, Understanding Your Calling, teaches Christians how to easily discern and understand the call of God on their lives through discovering, developing and delivering their greatest potential in ministry service. London shares with readers how to break through the self-imposed barriers that keeps them either running from the call or stuck at a certain point. They will learn how to increase their God confidence, set goals to fulfill their calling and how to reach the masses with their message. BuytheBook.

    Online: www.gingerlondon.com

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  • The Nehemiah Blueprint

    The Nehemiah Blueprint- Jon Bennett

    According to Baker, LA., author Jon Bennett, his first book, The Nehemiah Blueprint, was written out of a sincere concern for the betterment of urban communities. The book is based on the passionate, Biblical account of Nehemiah who received a vision from God to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. In The Nehemiah Blueprint, Bennett presents principles gleaned from as a “blueprint” for beginning to confront some of societal issues and rebuilding communities.

    Online: www.uplandavenueproductions.com

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  • Misconceptions

    Misconceptions-C.Hayes

    Cosha Hayes makes the attempt to be a modern day Terry McMillan in her debut noel “Misconceptions”. While is it misses the mark as a modern version of Waiting to Exhale. It hits dead on a cautionary tale for a young female audience. Misconceptions chronicles the life of Gaby a young Baton Rouge native who falls for handsome young man named Tre. As the book chronicles Gabby’s transition from “ a teenager who was going no where fast” to a young woman who believes she has found the love of her life, she but soon realizes she is an emotionally and physically abusive relationship. Hayes does a great job setting the scene for the and bringing the old saying to life everything that glitters isnt gold. Its Hayes simple and fast paced writing style that make this book a perfect read for a young woman who is approaching a storm in life , but at the same would make a “grown” woman who has already been through one may want to leave this tale of self discovery on the shelf.

     

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  • WXOK Celebrates 60th Anniversary

    WXOK has served South Louisiana’s Black community since February 3, 1953, with R&B, Blues and Gospel until 2000 when it went fully Gospel changing its name to WXOK Heaven. THis year the station celebrates their 60th anniversary, Monday, October 21, 6 p.m. at the Bell of Baton Rouge, with help of host Dudley DeBossier Law Firm.

    The celebration brings Va Shawn Mitchell, Earnest Pugh, Paul Porter, Wess Morgan, Anthony Brown &  Group Therapy, Jonathan Nelson, Lexi  and Tasha Cobbs.

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  • ,

    Street renaming immortalizes Shiloh’s Rev. Charles Smith

     

    The four-block stretch of America Street from South 10th Street to Eddie Robinson Sr. Drive officially was renamed the Charles T. Smith Boulevard. The street was renamed in honor of the community leader and minister who had been praised for fighting for equality and fairness for those less fortunate prior to his death last year. His widow Eula Smith was joined by 200 people  for the sign unveiling, July 6, in front of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, 185 Eddie Robinson Sr. Drive, the church that he had led for 50 years.

     

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  • Johnson becomes First Black Female Chief Justice

    JUDGE BERNETTE JOHNSON was sworn in  as the first Black chief justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, less than four months after a dispute over whether she was entitled to the position. Johnson took her official oath of office as Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court Feb. 2.

    She was sworn-in by her daughter, Rachael D. Johnson, in a brief ceremony, surrounded by her immediate family members, and the legal community. In 1994, Johnson was elected to serve on the Louisiana Supreme Court and was re-elected, without opposition, in 2000 and 2010.

    She represents the Seventh Supreme Court District, which encompasses Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. Her judicial career began in 1984 when she was elected to the Civil District Court of New Orleans, where she was the first female to hold that offi ce. She was re-elected without opposition, in 1990 and was elected Chief Judge by her colleagues in 1994.

    A public ceremony will take place on Thursday, February 28, at noon on the steps of the Louisiana Supreme Court, 400 Royal Street.

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  • Odums Extends Contract with Southern until 2017

    Southern University and head football coach Dawson Odums have agreed to a multi-year contract extension that will keep the 2013 SWAC Coach of the Year in Baton Rouge through 2017 the school announced today.

    Terms of the extension included a three-year extension in addition to the one-year remaining on his contract, at a base salary of $175,000.

    Athletics Director Dr. William Broussard is expected to present the contract for final approval at the SU Board of Supervisors meeting in early January 2014.

    “I’m pleased to extend this offer to Coach Odums as a commitment to continued student-athlete success at Southern,” said Broussard. “We look forward to continuing to win and win the right way with him at the helm of the program.”

    The announcement of Odums’ contract extension comes a day after the one-year anniversary of his introductory press conference naming him head coach in late December 2013.

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  • ,

    Jesse Owens’ 1936 Olympic Gold Medal Sells in Online Auction

    ONE OF THREE OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALS won by  Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Games has sold for a record $1.4 million in an nline auction. The medal was sold by

    the estate of Robinson’s late widow, Elaine Plaines-Robinson. Owens won gold in the 100- and 200-meters, 400 relay and long jump at the games attended by Adolph

    Hitler,The whereabouts of the other three originals is unknown, but Owens was issued a replacement set that is part of an exhibit at Ohio State, his alma mater.

    A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the medal will be donated to the  Jesse Owens Foundation.

     

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  • ,

    Consumers Access Preventative Services Under GOP

    LOUISIANA REPUBLICANS LIKE JOHN  Fleming and David Vitter are  sticking with their plan to repeal  the Affordable Care Act and take away health care benefits under

    the law, including a provision that 932,000 Louisianians with private health insurance have used to get preventive care services with no out-of-pocket cost. “Fleming,

    Vitter and Louisiana’s Republicans in Congress continue to stand in the way of im- proving health care for Louisiana families,” said Louisiana Demo- cratic Party executive

    director Stephen Handwerk. “The GOP’s plan is simple: repeal the Affordable Care Act, take away benefi ts that lower costs for Louisianians and return to a

    completely broken system. Under the Affordable Care Act, nearly one million Louisianians have received preventive care with no co-pay. That’s progress, and it’s

    why Democrats are committed to improving the Affordable Care Act and making it work. Republicans’ only plan is to make the system worse.” Approximately 105 million

    Americans–71 million with private insurance and 34 million on Medicare — have received at least one free preventive health care service, like a flu shot or cancer

    screening, because of the Affordable Care Act. For more on how the Afford- able Care Act is already improv- ing health care for Louisianians,

    visit:  http://louisianademocrats. org/2013/08/30/aca-in-la/

     

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  • SU Law Grads Become Area’s fi rst Black US Assistant Attorneys

    TWO MONROE ATTORNEYS HAVE MADE HISTORY as the first Black attorneys from Monroe to be named assistant attorneys for the United States Department of Justice Western District.

    Brandon Brown and Courtney Joiner graduated from Ouachita High Schools in 1999. Joiner attended the University of Louisiana in Monroe and Brown attended Louisiana Tech.

    They met up again at Southern University Law Center, studied together, and shared their dreams of rising in the legal profession. They graduated in 2007. B r o w n became an assisant prosecutor for the 4th District attorney’s office in Monroe, while Joiner was an attorney at Sidney Austin Law Firm in Chicago and Hammonds and Sills Law Firm in Monroe.

    Brandon Brown

    Brandon Brown

    As U.S. assistant attorney, Brown will prosecute immigration cases and white- collar, economic, and cyber crimes.  Joiner prosecutes civil litigation, employment law and workers compensation defense.

     

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  • Group Brings Leadership Policy Summit

    HAMMOND— More than 50 Black elected officials, community and civic leaders, church leaders, and aspiring political candidates gathered in Hammond, Saturday, Nov. 9, for the Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy Leadership and Policy Summit.

    The event was co-sponsored by the Northshore Black Elected Officials Coalition and Associates. The leaders sat through presentations and workshops focused on voting rights, climate justice, and racial equity.  They were also updated participants on current legislative issues impacting Louisiana, the Gulf Coast and the US South.

    “Gulf Coast communities exist at the intersection of historic disparity, institutionalized injustice and impending opportunities for community change. How communities of color in the Gulf Coast are impacted and, whether they are equipped to withstand these changes depends on the civic engagement of its residents and the successful strategy of its justice leaders,” said NBEOCA president Thomas Smith Jr.

    The training offered tools, data and information on best practices to promote political engagement and civil rights as well as strengthen the civic engagement networks in Louisiana’s Black communities. Participants engaged in conversations and workshops to help build a justice-based analysis around key community issues. Presenters included: Trupania Bonner, director of the Black Men and Boys Initiative; Jacques Mona, political analyst; Jordan Diamond and Teresa Chan of the Environmental Law Institute; Colette Pichon Battle, executive director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy; Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus chairwoman State Rep. Katrina Jackson; and Dr. Charles Steele, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

    “This event was intended to connect local leadership to crucial information on issues that impact communities of Color in rural and sub-urban Louisiana,” said Battle. “Too often our communities must face real issues without the tools to solve problems or participate in political processes. This was our part in finding a solution.

    The Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy is a regional public interest law firm and justice center committed to advancing structural shifts toward equity in law, society and community.

    To strengthen the resilience of Louisiana’s communities of color,

    The summit served leaders of the Florida Parishes: St. Tammany, Washington, Tangipahoa, East Feliciana, West Feliciana, Livingston, St. Helena parishes.  

    Cut line – Northshore Black elective officials and community leaders gather in Hammond to attend the Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy Leadership and Policy Summit. For left Tangipahoa Parish School Board member Eric Dangerfield, Pat Morris president of The Greater Tangipahoa Parish NAACP and Thomas J. Smith Jr. president of the Northsore Black Elected Officials Coalition and Associates.

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  • Affordable Care Tips for Louisiana Residents

    The Affordable Care Act was enacted with the goal of increasing the quality and affordability of health insurance, lower the uninsured rate by expanding public and private insurance coverage, and reduce the costs of healthcare for individuals and the government.

    The Affordable Care Act is made up of two separate pieces of legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act and the Education Reconciliation act, that together expand Medicaid coverage to millions of low-income Americans and will improve Medicaid the Children’s Health insurance program (CHIP).

    Its goal is to make health care access more available to those who aren’t on Medicaid and do not have jobs that provide health benefits.

    The millions of Americans who fall into this category are encouraged to visit healthcare.gov. The Web site also includes information on preventive care and how to compare the quality of care patients receive at local facilities, and apply for government assistance but its most notable feature is the marketplace.

    Through healthcare.gov’s market place patrons can compare private health insurance plans, side by side. Plans offered in the Healthcare Marketplace will offer the same set of essential health benefits; which are minimum requirements for all plans in the Marketplace.Plans applied for by December 15, coverage can start as soon as January 1, 2014.  Open enrollment for 2014 health insurance closes March 30th

    These essential health benefits include at least the following items and services: ambulatory patient services (outpatient care you get without being admitted to a hospital), prescription drugs, pediatric services, new born care.

    Here are the facts about ACA:

    • If you own a company you apply for packages for your staff

    • You can apply online or by phone

    • You can apply alone or along with members of your household

    •If you apply online you must have an email address

    • The Baton Rouge Primary Care Collaborative, Inc., 2013 Central Rd, has ACA-certified application counselors who can help with the process.

    The Affordable Health Care Act will provide Americans with better health security by, expanding coverage, holding insurance companies accountable, lower healthcare cost, guarantee more choice and enhance quality for all Americans.

     

     

    ONLINE:HealthCare.gov

    PHONE: 800-318-2596

     

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