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    Group prepares for Womanhood101

    The CEO Mind Foundation will host “Womanhood 101: Girls EmPOWERed Program,” Saturday, Sept. 23 at the Eden Park Library, 5131 Greenwell Springs Rd., 9am -noon.

    The program will teach 10- to 14-year-old girls how to build self-awareness, social and emotional competencies, how to cultivate self-respect and personal responsibility, and how to make informed choices.

    Speakers include Siedda Hebert, Paula Hutchinson, Imanni Sheppard, and Miss Black East Baton Rouge 2017 Makeva Armant.

    They will  discuss self-esteem, positive connections, self-love, and entrepreneurship. Although the event is free, registration is required. Breakfast and lunch will be served.

    ONLINE:theceomind.org.

    By Nadja Curtis
    Contributing Writer

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    Report: Louisiana one of worst for Black women

    A new report from the nonpartisan Institute for Women’s Policy Research reveals troubling data about the economic and social challenges Black women face in Louisiana.

    The report studied factors like political participation, employment, income, and family structure. It finds Black women concentrated in lower-paying jobs (even relative to their academic achievement), being paid less than white women and men in similar occupations, and having more limited access to health insurance, often while acting as their family’s primary breadwinner.

    “Black women continue to experience structural barriers to progress that have roots in the nation’s legacy of racial and gender discrimination and exploitation. A shifting political landscape has put Black women even more at risk for disenfranchisement and marginalization,” the report states.

    The state-by-state analysis reveals Black women in Louisiana as experiencing some of the nation’s most difficult circumstances. The report cites Louisiana as the most perilous place to be a Black woman. Among its key findings:

    Black women in Louisiana (and Mississippi) make less money than anywhere else in the country. In 2014, their median annual earnings were just $25,000. The median income for women nationwide was $38,000. Only 28.3 percent of Black women in Louisiana worked in managerial or professional occupations.

    In 2014, one in three Black women in Louisiana (31.3 percent) lived below the poverty line.

    In Louisiana, fewer Black women were covered by health insurance than in any other state (72.3 percent of the population had insurance). (This report was compiled using data from 2014, before Gov. John Bel Edwards expanded Medicaid coverage related to the Affordable Care Act — it’s possible this statistic has been affected, for the better, by that expansion.)

    According to Gambit magazine, “the needs of Black women as a population need to be championed by lawmakers — even though Black women in Louisiana also have the nation’s largest political representation gap relative to their proportion of the population, with no women of color (or women at all, actually) serving at the national level.”

    The report was compiled with the National Domestic Worker’s Alliance An executive summary of the report, including conclusions and recommendations, is online at www.domesticworkers.org.

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    Farmer and Agriculture Stakeholder Forum planned for Sept. 13

    The Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development Institute will host the Farmers and Agriculture Stakeholders Forum, Wednesday, Sept. 13 at 1:30pm in SARDI’s office, 1209 Diesi St, in Opelousas.

    Farmers, agricultural stakeholders, elected officials and community stakeholders are invited to participate in the forum. Participants will be provided with information on programs and services offered by the federal government; as well as helpful resources for farmers and agricultural workers who have been impacted by the 2016 floods and Hurricane Harvey.

    A representative from the USDA and the offices of the three Congressmen elected to represent St. Landry Parish – Congressman Ralph Abraham, Congressman Clay Higgins and Congressman Mike Johnson – will be in attendance to present information and address questions.

    St. Landry Parish’s Congressmen serve on the following agriculture-related committees:

    Congressman Abraham
    House Committee on Agriculture
    Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management
    Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry
    Research and Technology

    Congressman Higgins
    Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
    Subcommittee on Environment

    Congressman Johnson
    House Committee on Natural Resources
    Vice Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
    Subcommittee on Water, Power, and Oceans.

    Interested participants are asked to pre-register by Monday, September 11th to SARDI@suagcenter.com or by calling Krystle J. Washington at 337- 943-2410.

    Research has shown that every major crop grown in the state, is grown in St. Landry Parish; and, for decades the parish has been a leading agricultural parish in the state. A pillar of the mission at SARDI is to provide local farmers/ agriculture stakeholders with the information, tools, and resources they may need to go to the next level.

    SARDI is a satellite campus of the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center located in Opelousas, La. in St. Landry Parish.

    The Southern University Ag Center and the SU College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences together are called the Southern University Agricultural Land-Grant Campus.

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    Visitation changes at Tangipahoa Parish Jail

    angipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards is announcing a change in visitation days for inmates in the Tangipahoa Parish Jail. Effective Saturday August 19, visitation for jail inmates will be Saturdays and Sundays, 9am – 4pm, with 30-minutes visitation per offender.

    All persons coming to the Tangipahoa Parish Jail to visit a an inmate must have and present a valid government issued photo driver license or photo identification card. Visitation for inmates is a privilege of the inmate, and it may be suspended or revoked for disciplinary or security reasons without any prior advance notification given. All visitors are considered guests and will be expected to abide by all policies and operational procedures when visiting jail inmates. Contact the Tangipahoa Parish Jail at 985-748-3387.

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  • Phone lines set up to help Texas families locate Harvey survivors in Louisiana’s shelters

    The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has set up a phone bank for Texas families trying to locate loved ones evacuated after Hurricane Harvey to state-run shelters here in Louisiana.

    The numbers to call are (225) 615-0086 and (225) 615-0258.

    For privacy and safety reasons, DCFS cannot confirm the identities of people staying in its shelters. However, people can call the reunification lines and provide the name, address and date of birth, if known, of the person they are trying to locate, as well as the caller’s own name and contact information. DCFS will then determine whether the person is in a state shelter and, if so, pass along the caller’s message.

    Both state shelters – the Alexandria mega-shelter and the Jewella shelter in Shreveport – have cellphones and charging stations available for Harvey survivors to use for calling family and friends.

    Survivors who would like to let their family members and friends know they are safe and well are also encouraged to register at www.safeandwell.org, a website set up by the American Red Cross. People searching for loved ones in the disaster area can use the same website to try to locate missing friends or family members in the affected area.

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  • Moore offers prayers for Hurricane Harvey

    Pastor Darlene A. Moore, of St Peter-Trinity-Asbury United Methodist Church, submitted this prayer for the people of Texas and Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey:

    Most loving God, today we pray for all persons who have been impacted by the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. God please be present with each individual and family who are displaced, distressed, and devastated. We pray as Christian people world wide for protection, provision, shelter, safety, and comfort through their loss and distress. We pray for the heroes, sheroes and ordinary people who are putting their lives on the line to aide as well as assist those impacted by this Hurricane Harvey with rescue, medical aide, shelter, clothing, gas, bedding, water and more. We pray for the Clergy and mental health staff to have stamina to strengthen those who need strength. We ask O God, for you to allow the village to come together and offer hope and help. God also dispatch your angels of goodness and guardianship to help the vulnerable and disabled. Lastly, o way making God, help us to trust you to make a way to help everyone impacted to have a quick recovery and remember they are not alone. In Jesus name Amen.

    By Darlene A. Moore
    St Peter-Trinity-Asbury United Methodist Church
    Jeanerette, Louisiana

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    Youth experience nation’s capital during 4-H Citizenship program

    High school students from Southern University Laboratory School and Park Ridge Academic Magnet School learned about political processes in the vibrant, living classroom of the nation’s capital as part of Citizenship Washington Focus (CWF), an intensive 4-H civic engagement program for high-school youth held at the National 4-H Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Md.

    The six youth, Coby Pittman, Jaymya Joubert, and A’miya Thomas  Michael Boudreaux III, Tyliya Pitts, and Michael Wicker, along with Tiffany Franklin, Ph.D.,  4-H CWF coordinator at the Southern University Land-Grant Campus, and Tara Hollins, CWF chaperone, participated in the program from July 10 -14.

    While in DC, the students were given the opportunity to tour the United States Congress, where they met Representative Cedric Richmond, from Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District, and had a personal night tour of the Capital with Representative Garret Graves from Louisiana’s 6th District.

    “I enjoyed the CWF color workshops most because I connected with others from different states and we were able to work together,” said Pitts. “I will impact my community, using what I learned from CWF, by connecting with my people and creating a program that could help them with their problems. Being involved in the CWF program meant a lot to me and I would love to return.”

    For more than 50 years, the National 4-H Conference Center has invited thousands of young people from across the country to travel to Washington, DC and participate in civic workshops, committees and field trips before returning home to make positive changes in their own communities. CWF not only strengthens young people’s understanding of the government’s civic process, but it also boosts their leadership skills, communication skills and overall confidence.

    During CWF, youth get a behind-the-scenes look at the nation’s capital while meeting with members of Congress to learn more about how their government works. At the end of the program, youth draft step-by-step action plans to address important issues in their communities. Youth have developed a plan that will provide a hands-on, engaging seminar with community youth, while discussing the negative effects of underage drinking and smoking.

    “CWF is a great opportunity for young people to come together, talk about the problems they see in their communities, and identify solutions to make their communities stronger,” said Jennifer Sirangelo, president and CEO of the National 4-H Council. “The experiences these young people gain during CWF gives them the tools and confidence to grow and thrive as leaders.”

     

    Caption for photo titled ‘With Rep. Garret Graves’: Baton Rouge and Baker high school students, front row from left, Tyliya Pitts, Jaymya Joubert, A’miya Thomas, Louisiana State Representative Garret Graves, Michael Wicker and Coby Pittman. Standing on the second row are, from left, Michael Boudreaux III,  Tiffany Franklin, Ph.D., 4-H Citizen Washington Focus (CWF) Coordinator at the Southern University Land-Grant Campus, and Tara Hollins, CWF chaperone. The students visited the Nation’s Capital from July 10-14 to participant in the 4-H CWF program. (Photo courtesy of the SU Land-Grant Campus.)

     

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    Join Job Club Networking Group

    The Career Center of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library is sponsoring a 12-week job search and networking group for adult job seekers in professional careers. Job searching can be a lonely and discouraging activity, and this group will provide you with a safe space to meet and network with like-minded professionals who are challenged by the same job hunting process. Attendees will share job search experiences, network tips and encouragement, and they’ll learn the latest job search techniques and so much more. The Job Club will meet from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. every Friday starting September 29 through December 15 at the Main Library at Goodwood. It’s FREE and open to those in professional careers who are seeking employment. Certified Career Coach Anne Nowak will lead the meetings, and topics discussed will differ each week. Registration is required for this group. To register, call the Career Center at (225) 231-3733 or send an e-mail to Anne Nowak at anowak@ebrpl.com.

     

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    Bail bonds changes begin in Rapides parish

    A major change has gone into effect for bail bonds at the Rapides Parish jail, ordered by criminal judges Tom Yeager and Mary Doggett. The present formula used for setting bonds at the courthouse has been terminated. This was done as a way to update the way bonds are set and to avoid people easily bonding out due to low pre-set bonds.

    Effective Sept.1, all bonds on felony charges will be set by an assigned judge. There are two exceptions. First, any bond for a felony possession of CDS II, CDS III, CDS IV, and CDS V may be released on a $2,500 personal recognizance bond. Second, any bond for a felony possession of CDS I will be set by an assigned judge. For misdemeanor charges, charges are set at $500 and may be released on a personal recognizance bond with two exceptions. First, any domestic violence charge will be set by an assigned judge. Second, for DWI 1st offense and DWI 2nd offense, bond is set at $500.

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    Louisiana groups release statements on GOP’s repeal failure

    After the Senate rejected Republicans’ plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, several Louisiana organizations released statements showing their pleasure. Here are their words:

    From the Louisiana Center for Health Equity  president Alma C. Stewart:
    The Louisiana Center for Health Equity is pleased that millions of Americans can breathe a sigh of relief. After several failed attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, it remains the law of the land. Today, 51 Members of Congress stood up for the American people protecting them from losing their healthcare coverage. It is disappointing that neither Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy nor Senator John Kennedy was among them. We are thankful for our many supporters who made their voices heard over and over. As we celebrate a victory today, we acknowledge that there remains work to be done to ensure that everyone has access to affordable quality healthcare. We urge Congress to allow this work go forward in a bipartisan manner.

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    Group flood insurance coverage may be automatic for August ’16 victims

    Group Flood Insurance 

    Survivors of the August 2016 floods may automatically receive Group Flood Insurance coverage if they have claimed disaster assistance for a home or personal belongings which was not covered by flood insurance.

    You may receive Group Flood Insurance coverage if you:

    • Live in a flood-prone area;
    • Do not have flood insurance;
    • Suffered property damage from the August flooding;
    • Are approved for FEMA disaster assistance; and
    • You were denied a loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
    • If you meet all these conditions, you will receive Group Flood Insurance coverage for a three-year period ending October 13, 2019. The premium will be deducted from your FEMA disaster assistance grant.
    • Renters will also receive Group Flood Insurance if they intend to return to their rental property.
    • Group Flood Insurance provides damage coverage up to $33,000. You can upgrade your coverage — up to $250,000 — by purchasing an individual flood insurance policy. If you choose to purchase an individual policy, your Group Flood Insurance will be canceled.
    • FEMA gives applicants a 60-day notice of policy expiration and a final notice of termination of coverage. When the Group Flood Insurance Policy expires, the applicant is responsible for purchasing and maintaining flood insurance on their own.  Failure to maintain flood insurance will affect applicant eligibility for future disaster assistance.

    For more information on the Group Flood Insurance program or flood insurance in general, call the FEMA at 800-621-3362 and press #2. You can also go online at www.floodsmart.gov.

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    Casas for CASA fundraiser to benefit nonprofit’s advocacy for abused children

    Capital Area Court Appointed Special Advocates Association announces the 23rd annual Casas for CASA playhouse fundraiser presented by title sponsor Faulk and Meek General Contractors. Casas for CASA generates awareness and funding to support CASA’s advocacy efforts on behalf of abused children.

    The fundraiser kicks off July 16 from 5-8 p.m. with CASA Fiesta at the Renaissance Hotel. The event will feature Mexican cuisine donated by Caliente Mexican Craving, a silent auction and a wine pull. Tickets are $50 each and will be available online at casabr.org, at the door or by phone at (225) 379-8598. Dress is summer casual.

    The 2017 “Grand Victorian” CASA playhouse will be on display July 22-Aug. 13 at the Mall of Louisiana in the main entrance corridor near center court. Raffle tickets are $5 each and will be available online at casabr.org, at the mall or at the CASA office, 848 Louisiana Ave. The playhouse was designed by Lilliput Play Homes and assembled by local builder and title sponsor Faulk and Meek General Contractors.

    Casas for CASA concludes with the playhouse giveaway on Aug. 13 at 5 p.m. Faulk and Meek General Contractors will deliver the playhouse to the winner within 60 miles of the mall. Winner need not be present to win.

    All proceeds benefit Capital Area CASA Association, a nonprofit organization that recruits, trains and supervises volunteers who advocate for abused and neglected children in need of safe, permanent homes. The fundraiser enables Capital Area CASA to continue serving every child in East Baton Rouge Parish who needs a voice. Platinum sponsors include Caliente Mexican Craving, Community Network, Lamar Advertising, Mall of Louisiana, Renaissance Hotel and Republic Finance.

    The mission of Capital Area CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) Association is to advocate for timely placement of abused and neglected children in permanent, safe, and stable homes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By

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    8 ways to optimize your sleep

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

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

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

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

    By Family Features
    Photo courtesy of Getty Images

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    Take a mindful approach to fighting Spring allergens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Family Features
    Photo courtesy of Getty Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Weight loss webinar features comedian, actress Kim Coles

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

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

    The live Bulivian weight loss webinar will address:

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

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

     

     

     

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

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

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

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

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

    Contact: The Diabetic Kitchen, 337-519-3010

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

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    Meet the Players; Louisiana’s longest known married couple

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

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

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

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

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

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    Elementary schools, Kids Orchestra create harmony

    15 Kids Orchestra Trumpets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Photos by Yusef Davis

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    Celebrating 60 years of marriage

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

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

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

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    Tax tips often-overlooked by Blacks

    3 TIPS FOR 2017 TAX SEASON

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

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

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

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

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

    By Randy Hughes
    Counting Pennies, LLC

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    Youth to Watch: Jason Holliday Jr.

    Every year, The Drum presents individuals who our readers need to watch and take note of. For 2017, we begin with youth to watch. Because of their leadership skills, gifts, talents, and personality, twelve Louisiana youth have been selected as Youth to Watch in 2017. “These youth show exceptional character and work ethics. They have vision and ability to be successful with excellence.”

    Meet: Jason Holliday Jr., 17

    Brusly High School

    Parents: Jason Holliday Sr. and Ledidra Carter

    College and career choice: I am currently undecided about what college I want to attend. I want to become a professional football player or professional basketball player.

    Biggest accomplishments: Being selected as 1st Team All District Basketball, 1st Team All District Football, and All-State Athlete for 2016-2017.

    I was named WAFB’s player of the week last month! I was selected to represent Louisiana in the EPS Texas vs. Louisiana Bowl being played at the AT&T stadium in Dallas, Texas, as well as selected by Louisiana High School Athletic Association to play in the Red Stick Bowl in Baton Rouge. I have been playing sports since the age of four and I attend the AAU Junior Olympics in track and field on the 4×1 relay team for Eagles Wing Track Club  in 2009.

    I also attended the ESPN World Wide of Sports AAU basketball national championship in Orlando, Florida with the AAU team Tarheels Select. We won the championship in 2012. I returned to the national championship in Las Vegas with another AAU team, Elfrid Payton Elite Basketball team 2013.

    10 Jason HollidayWhy was this “big” for you? Because I worked extremely hard to be recognized as one of the best athletes in my district and in the state of Louisiana.

    Life aspirations:  I want to be a professional athlete.  I want to give back to the people who helped me and kids who look up to me, be a positive role model.

    What is your motto, core belief, or favorite quote?  My motto is, “Go hard or go home!”  I believe that there is always someone out there as hungry for success as I am and willing to work as hard as I do, so that makes me work even harder.

    Mentors? My mentors are my mother and  Coach Marc Brown, they both push me to be the best I can be in whatever I do and never let anyone tell me that I CAN’T do something!

    Goals for 2017:  To graduate from high school and sign a full scholarship to the school of my choice.

    What are you reading? “The Mind of Champions” by Jim Afremow

    What music are you listening to? Rap,  Hip Hop, and R & B.

    Hobbies: Play basketball and football and video games.

    Read more »
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    Fall garden workshop scheduled for Nov. 22

    The Southern University Ag Center will host its Fall Garden Workshop themed, “Recovering Your Soil: Gardens, Farms, and Spirit.” The workshop, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 9am-2pm on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016. Registration will begin at 8:30am.

    The workshop will focus on the topics of:

    • Soil Health
    • Soil Sampling
    • Fall and Spring Planting
    • Flood Resistant Trees

    Attendees will also have the opportunity to participate in hands-on activities that include:

    • Propagating Fig Trees
    • Wreath and Bow Making
    • Healthy Eating for the Season

    This workshop is ideal for school and community garden coordinators, large and small farmers, backyard gardeners, college students, and anyone interested in learning something new about agriculture.

    The Southern University Ag Center, its Wisteria Alliance Program and the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program are co-sponsoring this event.

    For additional information or to RSVP, contact Mila Berhane, Stephanie Elwood, Dawn Mellion-Patin Ph.D., Zanetti Augustine, or Emily King at (225) 771-2242.

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    God intervenes during stillness, writes Bogalusa native

    According to author Leslie P. Norris, Jr., God is a creator and sustainer of all that was, is, and is to be. AS such, there are times when God decides to intervene in human life.  In Norris’s new book, God’s Early Morning Intervention, he unveils personal experiences with God that lead to the writing of the 112-page book.

    “My book came to life in six years, as God awoke me many early mornings and wrote on the radar screen of my mind, “Be still and know that I am  God” (Ps. 46:10, KJV),” said Norris who is a native of Bogalusa, Louisiana, and son of the late Reverend LHP Norris Sr. and Adele Washington Norris.

    He is a graduate of Southern University Laboratory High School, Southern University, Nicholls State University, and Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta.

    God’s Early Morning Intervention focuses on God, on who He is and on His presence and work in human life.  God reveals and God conceals.  He said, “whether God manifests Himself or hides Himself is not man’s prerogative.  It is Almighty God’s prerogative.”

    Norris said he believes this book relates to concerns about family, religious beliefs and economical conditions that many face today. He said although God has omnipotence, preeminence and ultimate leadership in this world, God is not coercive.  “God may periodically intervene in people’s lives and circumstances but He does so without forcing them to obey and follow His lead. When they follow God’s lead, they are following the lead of the one who knows the way and is the way,” Norris said.

    He goal is to impart to readers the knowledge and understanding that God is always present in their lives. Published by Xllibris, God’s Early Morning Intervention is available at Barnes and Noble.

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    Louisiana flood victims adjust to living in FEMA housing units

    FEMA Manufactured Housing Units (MHUs) are property of the government, and all occupants living in them must follow certain guidelines for their own protection and the protection of their property. Below are some frequently asked questions regarding these guidelines.

    Q: I just moved into my FEMA MHU. Is there anything I need to pay for?  

    A: If your MHU is located on your property, you are responsible for paying all utility charges, including deposits and any other administrative fees. You are also responsible for any charges associated with the installation or usage of phone lines, cable and/or internet. If your MHU is on a group or commercial site, you do not have to pay for utilities, but you may still be responsible for phone, cable, and/or internet charges.

    Q: I want cable and internet in my MHU. How should I get them installed?

    A: You can start by calling your preferred provider to see if they install cable and internet in mobile homes. If they do, then they are authorized to drill holes necessary for running cable in accordance with their normal installation procedure. If your provider charges an installation fee, you are responsible for paying it.

    Q: Can my cable provider install a satellite dish or receiver on my MHU?

    A: Satellite dishes and receivers cannot be installed on your MHU. Your provider must install the dish or receiver using a separate, temporary pole. You are responsible for any additional fees associated with the installation.

    Q: Does my MHU come with a security system?

    A: FEMA MHUs do not come equipped with a security system. If you need a security system installed, you must contact FEMA for written approval prior to obtaining your MHU.

    NOTE: Smoking is not allowed in FEMA manufactured housing.

    Q: Can I paint my MHU or hang picture frames?

    A: You cannot paint or otherwise alter the interior or exterior appearance of your MHU. However, you are allowed to make small adjustments that would qualify as normal wear-and-tear, such as putting small nails in the wall to hang picture frames.

    Q: Can I landscape around my MHU?

    A: If your MHU is on your property, you can landscape around it. If your MHU is on a group or commercial site, or if it extends into a property you do not own, you must contact FEMA for written approval prior to landscaping.

    Q: Who can stay with me in my MHU?

    A: Anyone named in your FEMA license agreement can stay in your MHU with you. With FEMA’s approval, you may be able to add or remove occupants from your license agreement within seven days of signing.

    Q: Can I keep my pets in my MHU?

    A: You can keep up to two domesticated animals in your MHU. They must wear ID tags at all times and be up to date on their shots. Pets cannot be left unattended outside of the unit and must be leashed at all times. No pens or kennels are allowed outside of the MHU. You are responsible for cleaning up after your pet, both inside and outside of your MHU.

    Q: Are any items or substances prohibited in my MHU? 

    A: Any items or substances related to illegal or criminal activity are prohibited in your MHU. Additionally, you cannot store or use grills, fire pits, fireworks, propane tanks or other combustible substances inside or outside of your MHU.

    Q: What happens if I lose power to my MHU, or if one of my appliances stops working?

    A: If you lose power, cable or internet to your MHU, call your provider for assistance. If there is an issue with your MHU or its appliances, contact FEMA for assistance.

    Q: Will I get a washer and dryer?

    A: While washers and dryers can be hooked in to your MHU, you will have to purchase or provide the appliances yourself.

    Q: Do I have any other responsibilities regarding my MHU?

    A: Part of the FEMA license agreement for your MHU requires you to search for long-term housing options. While you may be able to recertify for your MHU beyond the dates originally specified in your license agreement, you may need to surrender your MHU back to FEMA if other long-term housing is available.

    Read more »
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    Open Health Care Clinic opens in Mid-City Baton Rouge

    The Caring Clinic of Louisiana, a provider of HIV management and treatment since 2007, launched its new brand, Open Health Care Clinic in Mid-City Baton Rouge.

    Open Health Care Clinic is a full-service, primary health care option located at 3801 North Blvd. The new name is a result of the clinic’s new designation as a Federally Qualified Health Center.

    The facility receives annual federal funds from the Health Resources & Services Administration to provide quality healthcare to the medically underserved in our community. Administrators said Open Health also qualifies for enhanced reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid, as well as other benefits.  Open Health Care Clinic provides advanced medical services for every phase of a person’s life regardless of their financial or insurance status. Extended hours, weekend appointments and walk-ins are welcome.

    Image-1Open Health Care Clinic is the health services division of HIV/AIDS Alliance Region Two, Inc. (HAART), the legal recipient of the FQHC designation. This new designation enables HAART to transform its clinic to a broad-based provider of quality healthcare. HAART has established an extensive referral system linking together a network of service providers in order to increase access to support services for families.

    ONLINE: www.ohcc.org.

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    Second month of disaster food assistance to be released by Oct. 18

    Acknowledging the severity of Louisiana’s flooding in 11 hardest-hit parishes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service granted the state’s request for an additional month Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ( D-SNAP) benefits for households that were issued benefits in August in Acadia, Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Livingston, St. Helena, St. Landry, St. Martin, Tangipahoa, Vermilion and West Feliciana parishes. Regular SNAP recipients in these parishes were also approved for a second month of supplemental benefits.

    “Two months after the devastating and historic floods across South Louisiana, there are tens of thousands of families in these parishes still trying to get back on their feet,” said Governor John Bel Edwards. “We’re thankful that the federal government recognizes the need for additional assistance for those who are living in the hardest hit parishes. Our people are working hard every day to restore their lives, and it is critical that we continue to help them with some of the basic necessities. Another month of benefits will help ease some of their worries, and hopefully lessen their burdens as they continue to recover and rebuild.”

    D-SNAP recipients who were issued disaster EBT cards in response to the August floods in 11 affected parishes will have benefits automatically loaded no later than October 18. Anyone who needs to replace a lost card can visit a parish office in one of the 11 parishes listed below. SNAP recipients in these 11 affected parishes will receive the same supplemental benefits they received after the flood, if their household is not already receiving the maximum allotment for their household. These benefits will be automatically loaded on EBT cards as well. 

    D-SNAP is a 100 percent federally funded benefit program that provides food assistance for non-SNAP recipients who are eligible due to lost income or disaster-related damages. Additionally, the program sometimes provides extra assistance to existing SNAP recipients in disaster areas.

    In all, 122,000 households in 21 parishes received D-SNAP benefits in the weeks after the flood, for a total of $48.9 million in D-SNAP benefits issued initially. Regular SNAP households received another $30.9 million in disaster-related benefits. 

    For the 11 hardest-hit parishes receiving a second month of benefits, DCFS estimates 105,689 households will receive $42 million in D-SNAP benefits, and 72,002 ongoing SNAP households will receive $11 million in supplemental benefits. Recipients will have up to a full year to use their benefits, after which benefits will expire.

    “We’re pleased to be able to bring a second month of DSNAP to households in our hardest-hit parishes. Those with immediate and ongoing food needs who didn’t receive D-SNAP or who live outside these 11 parishes are encouraged to remember that D-SNAP isn’t the only solution. Food banks are specially equipped to respond to these types of circumstances. In addition, the regular SNAP program might be another solution, and we encourage those with ongoing food needs to consider applying,” DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters said. 

    There are a number of programming and fraud-prevention steps DCFS must take before it can issue D-SNAP benefits. Because households cannot receive both D-SNAP and SNAP, the department will run duplicate participation checks to ensure none of the households receiving D-SNAP benefits have been certified for SNAP in Louisiana or the neighboring states of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. 

    D-SNAP recipients in the eligible 11 parishes can obtain replacement disaster EBT cards at any of the following locations:

    • Acadia Parish Office – 300 E. First St., Crowley, LA 70526
    • Ascension Parish Office – 1078 E. Worthy Road, Gonzales, LA 70737
    • East Baton Rouge Parish Office – 1919 North Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70806
    • Lafayette Parish Office – 825 Kaliste Saloom Road, Brandywine Complex VI, Lafayette, LA 70508
    • Livingston Parish Office – 28446 Charley Watts Road, Livingston, LA 70754
    • St. Landry Parish Office – 6069 I-49 S. Service Road, Opelousas, LA 70570
    • Tangipahoa Parish Office – 1211 NW Central Avenue, Amite, LA 70422

    For questions or additional information, visit the DCFS website at www.dcfs.la.gov or contact the toll-free helpline at 1-888-LAHELP-U (1-888-524-3578).

    The D-SNAP program is designed and executed with safeguards in place to deter and detect fraud. The department will pursue prosecution, restitution, and disqualification of future benefits for anyone who fraudulently received aid. To report fraud, visitwww.dcfs.la.gov/ReportFraud or call 1-888-LA-HELPU (1-888-524-3578) and select option 7.

     

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    Private Property Debris Removal Program application deadline set for Oct. 7

    City-Parish officials are reminding eligible homeowners throughout East Baton Rouge Parish to apply for the City-Parish’s Private Property Debris Removal (PPDR) program ahead of the program’s application deadline, set for Friday, Oct. 7. The PPDR program provides residents affected by the recent flooding with extended curbside collection of flood-related debris removal services, provided the debris is placed within approximately 30 feet from the public right-of-way and the City-Parish has received a signed Right-of-Entry (ROE) agreement from the homeowner.

     

    Since launching Sept. 19, more than 1,150 homeowners have submitted ROE agreements in applying for the PPDR program, with extended curbside collection services for eligible residents currently underway in the following ZIP codes: 70805, 70811, 70817, 70814, and 70819. As the program moves forward and additional ROEs are received, PPDR crews will be moving into other ZIP codes and impacted areas based on where these extended curbside services are needed. 

     

    Residents interested in applying for this program and these extended curbside flood-related debris removal services can do so online by downloading an ROE form – located at www.brgov.com/roe – and emailing their completed ROE form along with a valid Louisiana ID or driver’s license toBRdebris@thompsoncs.net, or in-person by visiting one of the active PPDR intake centers below prior to the Friday deadline and during the listed hours of operation:

     

    ·        PPDR Primary Application Center – Cypress Building, 10201 Celtic Drive, Suite B

    Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

    ·        Jones Creek Branch Library – 6222 Jones Creek Road

    Monday – Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

    Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

    ·        Fairwood Branch Library – 12910 Old Hammond Highway

    Monday – Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

    Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

     

    Residents in need of support or assistance related to the PPDR program who are unable to visit one of these PPDR intake centers are encouraged to contact program representatives directly by dialing 1-888-721-4372. These same program representatives are available to meet individually with homeowners as necessary and upon request to discuss the program and assist residents in completing their ROE.

     

    As a reminder, City-Parish crews are only able to collect debris from residential properties located in the City of Baton Rouge and unincorporated areas of East Baton Rouge Parish. City of Baker, Central and Zachary residents should contact their local municipality for information on their local debris removal program. Residents in need of extended curbside debris collection who are renters, members of a homeowner’s association, or live in a private community should contact their landlord, homeowner’s association president, or landowner to request that they complete a ROE form for the property in need of debris removal.

     

    For more information or questions about the PPDR program, please contact 1-888-721-4372 or emailBRdebris@thompsoncs.net.

     

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    Tips to develop sound eating habits

    Have your past commitments to healthy habits faded? Recharge your resolve and remember the importance of developing and following sound eating habits.

    Nutrition experts say an important step is to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great Flavors and social experiences that food can add to life.

    “Food nourishes the body and provides necessary fuel to help you thrive and fight disease,” said  Kristen Gradney, dietitian nutritionist and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson.

    “In addition to providing nourishment, food is also a source of pleasure and enjoyment. Take time to enjoy healthy foods and all the happiness they bring to your life.”

    Gradney offers a few tips to get started:

    • Enjoy Food Traditions and Social Experiences: There is an obvious social component to food. Whether it’s a nightly family dinner, a special occasion or social gathering, food often plays a central role. Enjoy the food at these gatherings while also taking time to appreciate the company around you.

    Research indicates that family meals promote healthier eating and strengthens family relationships.

    • Appreciate Foods’ Pleasures and Flavors: Take time to appreciate the flavors, textures and overall eating experience. In today’s busy world, we often eat quickly and mindlessly. Instead, savor your food, eating slowly one bite at a time to focus on the different flavors and textures. Stop and take time in between bites.

    Eating slowly not only allows you to enjoy your food, but it also can help you eat less by giving your stomach time to tell your brain you are full.

    • Develop a Mindful Eating Pattern: How, when, why and where you eat, are just as important as what you eat. Think about where you eat the majority of your meals. Do you eat lunch at your desk or dinner in front of the television?

    Instead of multitasking through meals, take a few minutes out of your busy schedule to find a nice place to mindfully eat.

    • Consult a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist: A healthy lifestyle is much more than choosing to eat more fruits and vegetables. It’s also essential to make informed food choices based on your individual health and nutrient needs.

    A registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) can educate you and guide your food choices while keeping your tastes and preferences in mind. RDNs are able to separate facts from fads and translate nutritional science into information you can use. Find an RDN in your area by visiting the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics site at www.eatright.org. The site also contains articles, recipes, videos and educational resources.

    By taking the time to enjoy what you eat, you can develop a healthier relationship with food.

    By StatePoint

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  • Smithsonian experts to share tips on salvaging family treasures

    Flood survivors can learn how to salvage their treasures directly from Smithsonian Institution preservation experts on Friday, Sept. 23, and Saturday, Sept. 24, at two Disaster Recovery Centers. The experts will demonstrate how to handle, dry and clean damaged objects and share tips on personal safety, setting priorities and other preservation options.

    For example, photographs can be rinsed gently in clean water and air-dried on a plastic screen or paper towel. They can also be hung with plastic clothespins. It is important the image not come in contact with other surfaces as it dries. Many items can be air-dried – preferably indoors. However, high direct heat from hair dryers and irons or prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause irreversible damage. A better choice is to increase airflow with fans, open windows, air conditioners and dehumidifiers.

    The sessions will be:
    Friday, September 23
    Lafayette Parish
    Lafayette Disaster Recovery Center
    301 West University Avenue
    Lafayette
    10am – 5pm

    Saturday, September 24
    East Baton Rouge Parish
    Celtic Disaster Recovery Center
    10000 Celtic Drive
    Baton Rouge
    10am – 5pm

    Read more »
  • DSNAP locations open Monday, Aug. 22, for first phase

    The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) announced the first of three phases of the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for residents to finalize applications for DSNAP benefits.

    DSNAP, formerly called Disaster Food Stamps, provides food assistance to eligible households who do not receive regular SNAP benefits and who need help buying groceries due to lost income or damages following a disaster.

    The following locations will be open Monday, August 22, through Saturday, August 27, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.:

    East Feliciana Parish ZIP Codes 70722, 70730, 70748, 70761, 70777, and 70791:
    Early Learning Center, 9414 Hwy 67 (Plank Road), Clinton

    Iberia Parish ZIP Codes 70518, 70528, 70552, 70560, 70563, 70582**, and 70592:
    South LA Community College, 908 Ember Dr., New Iberia

    Livingston Parish (all ZIP codes):
    Amvets Post 68, 26890 Hwy 42, Springfield
    Judson Baptist Church, 32470 Walker North, Walker

    Pointe Coupee Parish ZIP Codes 70749, 70755**, 70756**, 70757**, 70760, 70762**, and 70783:
    Pointe Coupee Multi-Use Facility, 1400 Major Parkway, New Roads

    St. Helena Parish (all ZIP codes):
    Greater Turner Chapel AME, 875 Turner Chapel Rd, Greensburg

    St. Landry Parish (all ZIP Codes**):
    Southeast Community Center, 101 City Avenue, Eunice
    Yambilee Building, 1939 W Landry St., Opelousas

    Tangipahoa Parish (all ZIP Codes**):
    Eagle Heights Community Church, 47318 Rufus Bankston Rd., Tickfaw

    Vermilion Parish (all ZIP Codes**):
    First Baptist Church, 210 N. St. Charles, Abbeville
    Each of the eight parishes will serve applicants next week on a staggered alphabetical schedule. To minimize wait times, applicants and anyone who pre-registered for benefits should go to a DSNAP location only on one of the days indicated by the first letter of their last name. Applicants who are unable to visit a site on their designated day should go on one of the final days specified.

    For the above locations, applicants should go on the following designated days, based on their last name.

    Monday, August 22: A-D
    Tuesday, August 23: E-K
    Wednesday, August 24: L-R
    Thursday, August 25: S-Z
    Friday, August 26: A-K applicants unable to make prior scheduled day
    Saturday, August 27: L-Z applicants unable to make prior scheduled day
    Those applying for DSNAP MUST go to a specified DSNAP site for the parish where they resided during the disaster to apply and receive benefits, if eligible.

    Sites for these parishes will be announced once the locations are finalized.

    Applicants may name an Authorized Representative to go to a DSNAP site on their behalf. Authorized Representatives must bring with them to the DSNAP site a picture ID and the picture ID of the applicant/head of household along with a signed statement from the applicant/head of household or an adult household member authorizing them as a representative.

    Accommodations will be made for the elderly and those with disabilities to reduce on-site wait times, but we strongly encourage these residents to name an Authorized Representative to visit a DSNAP site and complete an application on their behalf.

    Regular SNAP households DO NOT need to apply for DSNAP. Impacted households that receive regular SNAP benefits in the DSNAP parishes will have additional SNAP benefits added to their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards if they are not already receiving the maximum allotment for their household size.

    To help expedite the application process DCFS is encouraging residents in all affected areas to pre-register for DSNAP benefits. The pre-registration is not an application for DSNAP. Residents will need to go to the parish DSNAP site in which they reside to complete an application and determine their DSNAP eligibility.

    The best way to pre-register is online at www.dcfs.la.gov/preregister. However, residents can also pre-register by phone at 1-888-LAHELP-U (1-888-524-3578). Beginning Monday, August 22, the call center will extend its hours on Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Hours for Saturday and Sunday will remain at 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

    Callers will select the appropriate language and then select options 3 and 3. All pre-registrants will have to provide the following information:

    Name, Social Security Number and Date of Birth for each household member
    Current address and parish of household
    Monthly income for each household member
    All liquid assets for each household member (cash on hand, checking, savings)
    The information will be kept securely on file and will be confidential.

    The pre-registration process does not guarantee benefits, but is designed to save time, minimize long waits and prevent applicants from coming to the site, only to find out that they do not have the right information needed to apply.

    As with all programs, DCFS works to ensure this program and others are available for eligible applicants by aggressively protecting against fraud in benefits programs year round. Strong safeguards are in place to ensure that only eligible citizens receive DSNAP benefits, to identify those who are dishonest about their eligibility and to pursue recoupment and/or prosecution.

    Read more »
  • Resources for Louisiana flood victims

    The flash flooding throughout Southeast Louisiana has been devastating and relentless, with thousands of residents left stranded and rescue efforts continuing throughout the region.


    If you live in any of the areas impacted by the flooding, please refer to any of these information resources:


    For information on road closures and evacuation routes:

    Website: 511la.org

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LADOTD

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/La_DOTD

    If you don’t have to be on the road, stay home. And remember, it’s never a good idea to try to drive through standing water. 


    For information on shelters and sandbags:

    http://www.wbrz.com/news/list-of-open-shelters-and-sandbag-locations


    To volunteer to help victims, call the Red Cross at 855-489-2528 or sign up at http://volunteerlouisiana.org


    For general updates and information:

    Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness

    Website: http://gohsep.la.gov/

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gohsep/

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/GOHSEP


    You can also follow #laflood and #lawx on Twitter for updates from folks throughout the region.

    Read more »
  • Stay Away from Floodwaters

    The American Red Cross in Louisiana urges residents to take steps now to stay safer as floods threaten. The Red Cross team is coordinating with local officials and is prepared to respond as needs develop. As with any disaster, preparation can be the difference between life and death. The Red Cross recommends that individuals and families prepare for floods by:

    • Heeding Flood Warnings: Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated flood information.  A flood WATCH means flooding or flash flooding is possible in your area. A food WARNING means flooding or flash flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area. When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.disaster-prepare-flood-hi-res
    • Relocating During Flood Warnings: Stay away from flood waters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankle, stop, turn around and go another way. If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
    • Keep children and pets out of the water, as they are curious and can be harmed by flowing or contaminated water.
    • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.
    • Take time now to identify at least two safe ways out of your neighborhood, should you need to evacuate.Downloading the free Red Cross Flood App to your mobile device. The Red Cross flood app sends location-based flood and flash flood watches and warning alerts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The app also includes tips on how assemble an emergency kit for your family in the event of a power outage or evacuation, an “I’m Safe” button to let loved ones know you are okay, and a real-time map to help you find the location of Red Cross shelters should you need to leave your home. The app has a Spanish language toggle switch and can be downloaded by visiting redcross.org/apps <http://www.redcross.org/prepare/mobile-apps> .
    • Creating and practicing a Disaster Plan: Talk to everyone in your household about what to do if a flood occurs. Decide where you would meet and who you would contact in case of flooding. Assemble and maintain an emergency preparedness kit. Be prepared to evacuate your family and pets at a moment’s notice.
    • Assembling an Emergency Preparedness Kit: Kits should contain a first aid kit and a seven-day supply of essential medications, foods that don’t require cooking or refrigeration and manual can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries, copies of important documents like your insurance policies, cell phone chargers, family and emergency contact information, maps of the area and other emergency items for the whole family.

    For more information on what to do before, during and after a flood, please visit redcross.org/prepare/disaster/flood <

    Follow the Louisiana Region of the American Red Cross on Twitter at @LARedCross1, contact the office at (800) 229-8191, or call 1-800-REDCROSS.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Barbers, librarians partner to give back to community

    Greenwell Springs library technician Keith Cooper was watching a movie,”The Barbershop,” when the idea for a community barber day came to him.

    “Knowing how our branch manager Ms. Geralyn Davis is a huge proponent of our going into the community and becoming a part of its fabric, I thought to approach her about our doing our own Back To School Free Haircut Session,” Cooper explained. Not knowing to expect he created flyers and enlisted the support of his co-workers Natoria Ingram, Javia Lazard and Nicole Wilson.

    Barbers from Upper Cuts, Classic Cuts, and Latinos Barbershop joined the team to provide dozens of free hair cuts to boys for school and men for job interviews on Aug. 9 at the library.

    “I could not have been more pleased by the turnout and response from the locals,” Cooper said.

    Read more »
  • ,

    ​Sparking outrage

    Group says Sen. Brown’s two arrests expose double standard in fight against violence on women

    “It’s time to get people stirred up, protesting, and even mad, said Twahna Harris, a passionate domestic violence advocate. “We have to move and get people off the sidelines. We have to take to the street and protest against domestic violence! It’s going to take a movement to end this!” 

    With the recent high profile murders and assaults of women by their husbands, Harris said, now is the perfect time for elected officials and the community as a whole to take deliberate stand against domestic violence and “say we will no longer allow this.”

    Harris said the recent arrest of state Sen. Troy Brown (D-Geismer) gives legislators an easy opportunity to demonstrate that domestic violence will not be tolerated. “It shouldn’t matter who you are, when you commit the crime of domestic violence you should be punished.” 

    Her voice is adamant and anyone who knows her can see how vigilant Harris is in her quest to end domestic violence. As executive director of the Butterfly Society, a nonprofit advocacy group, Harris has been educating groups and advocating for new domestic violence protection laws for nearly 20 years. 

    “When you, as a leader, aren’t walking the walk that you talk you have to be held accountable,” Harris said. “It is unacceptable when we allow our leaders to get away with what we’ve allowed Sen. Brown to get away with. He should be held to the same standards. As voters we have to be very clear that we are not going to stand for it.”

    The Butterfly Society has taken the message of accountability across south Louisiana into barbershops, churches, policy meetings, and candidate forums. They educate and support victims in escaping abusive relationships. The group has established memorial gardens as a place to remember victims in the downtowns of Baton Rouge, Zachary, New Roads, and Baker.

    “We want to make sure that the victims are never forgotten,” she said. “We want to speak their names. These gardens can be a way to begin the conversation in communities.” 

    In 2014 and 2015, Louisiana ranked 4th in the nation for domestic violence. “We can do better,” Harris said. “Women are dying at an alarming rate.”

    “Domestic violence is a dark and lonely place to be,” Harris said. “I’ve learned that what we go through isn’t always just for us, it is to prevent and empower others.” The Butterfly Society was established as a nonprofit in 2014 after decades of advocacy and partnership-building. “We believe in being reached. We want people to know that we are here for you, to support you, and to empower you. There is life after domestic violence. You can live and survive.”

    Harris said the message of support is clear, however, her concern is “as long as we continue to do business as usual and not punish attackers, we will continue to lose our families.”

    “These lives are too valuable for us to continue to lose through domestic fights when we can get them the help they need to escape,” said Jane Yellow, a 26-year domestic violence survivor and author of It Only Happened Once. Yellow was attacked and left for dead by her husband of 11 months who served less than two years in prison for battery. “Policies have to continue changing,” she said. “Laws have to be enforceable. Abusers must be severely punished for this to stop… There has to be justice.”

    One solution is to have men on the front line, said Harris.

    “We need men standing up and saying, ‘No longer will I take another woman, sister, mother, cousin, teacher, or friend being abused at the hand of someone who is supposed to love her’,” said Harris. 

    The Butterfly Society educates church leaders and pastors — who are often men — on how to have conversations with other men on how to treat women during times of anger. The group also reminds the men that one in four men are abused by their partner. Their conversations at local barbaershops  allowed the volunteers and men to be open. “The dialogue was so powerful,” Harris said. “Men are willing to commit to take a stand.”

    The Butterfly Society will host its annual Painting the City Purple, a weeklong observance to raise awareness of domestic violence for youth, men, and women Oct 3 – 7 in Baton Rouge.

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter

    Read more »
  • ,,

    New picture book shares ‘Stories by Grandma’

    Patricia F. Crowley offers vibrantly illustrated tales for young readers, pet-lovers

    GRETNA, La. – Patricia F. Crowley wrote “Stories by Grandma”  for her grandson, who is now 7 years old, to tell him tales that recount their family’s happy times with their beloved pets. With its vibrant illustrations and engaging narrative, this picture provides young readers and pet lovers alike with an entertaining and educational experience centered on the adventures of affable animals.

    Scruffy is a Yorkipoo puppy, Freddie is a finch and Jack is a sorrel-colored horse. Crowley tells their story, as seen from a child’s perspective, showing readers the simple pleasures of life provided by pets and how each has its own personality, making its own unique mark in people’s lives. Crowley depicts the loving bond people form with their pets, the contributions they make to life’s quality and how a child can come to appreciate the presence of each of these creatures in his family.

    “At a time when children seem to be surrounded by negative influence, pet ownership provides children with an opportunity to be loving and caring and to experience unconditional love and devotion,” Crowley says.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Time to get SMART, set goals addressing diabetes

    Diabetes takes a disproportional interest in the minority community and one Baton Rouge area mental health professional thinks it’s time for the community to return that interest with deliberate game plans aimed at limiting the devastation caused by this chronic-disease killer.

    Charles Martin

    Charles Martin

    Charles Martin, Capital City Health Center director of behavior health, has both professional and personal viewpoints regarding the challenges of diabetes. His parents and grandparents were insulin-dependent and he is recovering from a diabetes-related limb amputation. Even when the challenges seem great, Martin invokes the daily prescription of NFL coach Chip Kelly: Win the day.
    Instead of simply resolving to turn the tide on diabetes, Martin encourages another tactic: Goal setting.

    “We people living with diabetes may have the fear that we will be gun-ho in January with everyone else making New Year’s resolutions,” Martin said. “But then, are we going to burn ourselves out?”
    “We start fast and we fizz quickly, but it goes back to Chip Kelly and that motto ‘Win the day.’ We are just going to take it one day at a time. It goes back to this attitude that this is something that we have to do daily. When we think about renewing the mind, we should be reminded that our prayers ask ‘give us this day, our DAILY bread.’”

    Martin encourages the ‘attitude of daily’ as a tool in diabetes management. “We must remember that we are consistently inconsistent,” he said. “The goal is to be consistently consistent. To do that, we must take it one day at a time and try to max out that day.”

    10 black_hands_testingThis deadly opponent packs a daunting record against Blacks who are greatly disproportionately affected by diabetes. More than 13 percent of all Blacks above the age of 20 are living with diabetes. In addition, Blacks are 1.7 times more likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic whites.
    Diabetes is one disease that can spawn serious complications or makes a person susceptible to related conditions. Blacks are significantly more likely to suffer from the diabetes complications of blindness, kidney disease and amputations.

    No matter how great the challenge, Martin said setting goals helps properly address the fear. “A goal is just a tool to put you to work,” he said. “It puts me in charge!”

    Good health is important, but it will not just happen. SMART Goals provide a road map to success because those goals are Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

    If you want to accomplish a task, you set a plan, you set deadlines and you take action. Most people are familiar with SMART goals in the workplace, but they also apply to health. For example, let’s say you wanted to an A1C of 7.5, but your level is now 11. It would be unrealistic to say you wanted reduce your A1C to 11 in next month. It would be more realistic to set up a SMART goal:
    • Specific – I will decrease my average fasting blood sugar by 2 points each week. 10 SMART-goals
    • Measureable – I will keep track of blood sugar levels three times daily so I can track my
    progress towards my goal.
    • Attainable – Is the goal attainable for me? Your diabetes care team should be consulted about ways to reduce your A1C and risk of complications.
    • Realistic – Is the goal realistic for me? Lowering one’s blood sugar is a great goal, but drastic drops can increase changes of hyperglycemia.
    • Timely – I will make an appointment with my care team every three months in 2016 to evaluate my A1C with hopes to start 2017 near 7.5.

    Other goals that will impact blood sugar control include getting regular and sufficient exercise, gaining or losing weight, following a diabetes nutrition plan, and being more compliant to medication schedules.

    Diabetes is associated with an increased risk for a number of serious, sometimes life-threatening complications in minority communities. Good diabetes management, however, can help reduce risks, but many people are not aware that they have diabetes until they develop one of its complications.
    Martin warns that even those with the best goal-related intentions can face the obstacles of anxiety and depression. Anxiety can feed the overwhelming fear of failing to control one’s diabetes. “It is the fear that I’m not going to reach my goal so I stop before I even get started,” he said.

    It is important to know the warning signs of depression and plan ahead to combat it. “Exercise does help with depression,” Martin said. “Take a walk. If you are bound to the inside, use can goods to do arm curls. You will feel better if you make efforts to get more exercise.”
    “We often get so depressed that we isolate ourselves and we don’t have the social connections that we need. If you are aware of the possible pitfalls of depression, you are able to make a plan and incorporate that into your ‘I’m going to win the day.’”

    The counselor puts himself in the classroom in which he is teaching. In this calendar year, he will attempt to achieve tighter blood sugar control and with the aid of physical therapy, learn to walk using a prosthetic limb. There will be 365 days in his year, but his mantra will remain “win the day.”

    By Frances Y. Spencer
    Special to The Drum

    Read more »
  • ,

    New multicultural dating site launched as NuPassion

    OHIO–New Passion or should we say NuPassion is already here and has been for almost a decade and some have not yet discovered them. Whether your passion is intelligent conversation, religion, political beliefs, a shared lifestyle or the environment, passion is always better shared, isn’t it?

    “The world can be an adventurous place, but can be difficult to travel it alone and not nearly as much fun,”” said Curtis Nicholson, founder of the site.

    At NuPassion.com, they’re committed to helping you find the perfect person who will share your passion. NuPassion is a place where you can connect with like-minded people looking for the exact same thing you are so desperately seeking – fulfillment. Their services are for every lifestyle and different backgrounds, for people who really just want to find those soul mates they can connect with and share all of life’s great and terrible moments.

    According to a corporate press release, “Using NuPassion.com, you can connect with people who you may become lifelong friends with and will undoubtedly meet people who become something much more than that. Focused on that one person who finishes your sentences and shares your greatest loves, NuPassion’s goal is to open that door for you. Maybe you’re just looking for companionship, someone to chat with and share experiences. NuPassion.com provides you a way to widen your social circle and enhance your romantic choices.”

    ““A very diverse site with lots of options. A site you could look forward to meeting new people,”” said one member.

    NuPassion is a Black-owned company that provides a diverse online dating platform. Having been around for almost 10 years, NuPassion has continually served the online community and is becoming a premiere diverse dating site. Believing that communication is the key to any successful long-term relationship, the web site provides the perfect arena for interpersonal communication.

    ONLINE: www.NuPassion.com

    Read more »
  • ,

    Pill could deliver insulin without the paIn

    Researchers are developing an insulin pill that could soon offer a pain-free blood sugar management option to people with diabetes.

    “With diabetes, there’s a tremendous need for oral delivery,” said Samir Mitragotri, professor in the chemical engineering department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who specializes in targeted drug delivery. “People take insulin several times a day and delivery by needles is a big challenge.”

    More than 29 million individuals in the United States have undiagnosed or diagnosed diabetes, according to 2014 estimates from the Centers for Disease Control. Many of these people require regular insulin shots.

    A diabetes pill under development could do away with needles by delivering insulin via a capsule filled with mucoadhesive patches. ‘People take insulin several times a day and delivery by needles is a big challenge,’ said Samir Mitragotri.

    Blacks are disproportionately affected by diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.

    Some 13.2 percent of all Blacks aged 20 years or older have diagnosed diabetes. Blacks are 1.7 times more likely to have diabetes as non Hispanic whites, the ADA reported.

    For those who don’t like needles, the discomfort injections can pose is a huge barrier to compliance, said Amrita Banerjee, a postdoctoral researcher in Mitragotri’s lab. “It can lead to mismanagement of treatment and complications that lead to hospitalization.”

    A pill could circumvent the discomfort associated with the needle while potentially providing a more effective dose, researchers said.

    “When you deliver insulin by injection, it goes first through the peripheral bloodstream and then to blood circulation in the liver,” Mitragotri said. Oral delivery would take a more direct route, and, from a physiological point of view, a better one.

    While oral medications to help the body produce insulin have been around for a while, a pill that delivers insulin remains a highly sought goal of diabetes medicine. The main obstacle to its development has been getting the medication past the hostile proteolytic environment of the stomach and intestine without destroying the protein itself.

    In the case of the new pill, the key is a combination of enteric-coated capsules and insulin-loaded mucoadhesive polymer patches that were optimized by Banerjee as part of her research. The new pill has demonstrated its ability to survive stomach acids with the protection of the enteric-coated capsule and deliver its payload to the small intestine.

    There, the capsule opens up to release the patches that adhere to the intestinal wall, preventing access of proteolytic enzymes to insulin and, with the aid of a permeation enhancer, depositing insulin that can pass through to the blood.

    “This is the first essential step in showing that these patches can deliver insulin,” Mitragotri says, adding that the concept still needs to undergo additional stages of testing and improvement before it can be considered as a viable treatment for diabetes.

    The drug-loaded mucoadhesive patches show early promise for other forms of therapy, as well.

    “We can deliver many proteins that are currently injected,” Mitrago said, adding that other protein-based therapies such as growth hormones, antibodies, and vaccines could potentially be put into patch form for painless delivery and improved patient compliance.

    The researchers presented their findings at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists’ annual meeting and exposition. The National Institutes of Health funded the work.

    By Sonia Fernandez
    Contributing Writer
    University of California Santa Barbara

    Read more »
  • ,

    Capital Area CASA selects Brown to chair board

    Reginald Brown has been selected to chair the Capital Area Court Appointed Special Advocate Association 2016 board of directors. Also selected were Kristen Hogan as vice chair, Katie Ruiz as secretary, and Allyson Sadler as treasurer. Newly elected to the board are Joy Michelle Boyd, Ryan Curtis, Joana Hernandez Edwards, Carlton Jones, Paulette Porter LaBostrie, Munzer Qaddourah, Lea Seelbach and Robin Toups. Returning members include David Faulk, Shirley Lewis, Jennifer Racca McDonough, Nicki Skelton, Holly Sides, Amanda Stout, Mary Thompson, Stephen Whalen and Robert Woosley. CASA volunteers speak up for abused and neglected children in need of safe, permanent homes.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Savings Strategies for Millennials

    Ask any financial expert what the ideal age is to start saving money and you’re likely to get the same response: “now.” Even at an entry-level salary, it is critical to start 2016 on the right foot and begin paving the way to financial freedom by setting aside money for short–term needs such as a vacation or an emergency, or longer-term goals like retirement.

    “Having a savings strategy is crucial to a person’s overall financial well-being,” said Diane Morais, chief executive officer and president of Ally Bank, member FDIC. “There are simple steps Millennials can take to ensure that they are not only saving, but maximizing the earnings potential of their nest eggs.”

    When it comes to designing a savings plan, Millennials should consider the following tips.

    Choose Your Bank Wisely

    Look for a savings account that doesn’t require a minimum deposit to open, doesn’t charge monthly maintenance fees, offers a competitive interest rate, and ideally, compounds interest daily. These features will help your money grow faster.

    Your bank should offer both checking and savings products, since having one bank with both types of accounts makes it easier to transfer funds from one account to another depending on your immediate circumstances. For example, Ally Bank’s Money Market and Interest Checking accounts are interest-bearing, charge no monthly maintenance fees and come with free debit cards and checks.

    Pay Yourself First

    A lot of people think saving is about putting away money that is left over after other expenditures. To build savings consistently and faster, treat savings as a mandatory expense in your overall budget.

    Consider opening an online account to “automate” saving money and take advantage of rates that tend to be more competitive than their brick-and-mortar counterparts.

    Specify Savings

    Once you’ve found a bank with no maintenance fees or minimum deposit requirements, you can establish separate accounts for your special goals. Some banks will even allow you to assign nicknames to these accounts, such as “new car” or “vacation fund”.

    Use Technology

    Tracking your money on-the-go can make you more aware of your spending and saving habits. One iPhone app option is Ally Bank’s “Ally Assist,” a voice activated assistant that responds to inquiries, and analyzes savings and spending patterns.

    The benefits of online banking include bill pay, click-to-chat assistance, online transfers and the ability to access your accounts anywhere and anytime.

    Think Retirement Now

    Beginning to save at a young age is essential to ensure a comfortable retirement. It’s important to choose the IRA that is right for your circumstances. Traditional IRAs may give investors a tax deduction for the year the contribution is made, while a Roth IRA offers tax-free growth, meaning you owe no tax when you make withdrawals in retirement.

    While you may feel the pinch now by putting some of your hard-earned money away, developing good savings habits while you’re young will pay big rewards over the long term, helping you enjoy a more comfortable lifestyle.

    By StatePoint

     

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  • ,

    Missing Lafayette teens located

    Missing Lafayette High School students Shaylon Mitchell, 16, and 16-year-old Nasya Pradier were located Friday, Jan. 8., Shaylon’s mother Shanette Mitchell confirmed.

    The pair were missing since 7 a.m. Wednesday when they went to school but never checked in, she said.

    The teens’ disappearance garnered statewide attention on social media, with Facebook videos from their families pleading for their return garnering tens of thousands of views.

    Details surrounding their disappearance are not known at this time.

    By The Drum Staff

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Student organizations collect 200 drinks for BR Sickle Cell

    Southern University student organizations, Association of Women Students (AWS) in conjunction with the Alpha Tau Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. held sports drink drive to benefit Baton Rouge Sickle Cell.

    To share the spirit of giving AWS and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. rallied the Jaguar Nation together in support of sickle cell. The end result was collecting nearly two-hundred bottles of sports drinks. During this long event students flocked to the Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union Cotillion Ballroom to leave their contributions. The completion of the drive and the foundations recent participation in a health fair at the university is cultivating new ideas for future partnership.

    “I understand the importance of giving back especially during this time of year. I’m also familiar with the trials of the disease because I know someone who lives with it which contributed to the need for a successful drive. I look forward to helping Baton Rouge Sickle Cell more in the future,” said Harris.

    Sickle cell anemia is a genetic disease that affects red blood cells. It changes the cells from flexible disks into rigid crescents. Dehydration is a severe complication of sickle cell disease caused my loss of water in the body. Dehydration can create slow movement in blow flow causing a painful event for a person with sickle cell disease. The Baton Rouge Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation, Inc. is a 42-year-old non-profit that provides support and advocacy services to more than 600 individuals living with Sickle Cell Disease in 11 parishes.

    ONLINE: www.brscaf.org
    ###

    Pictured from left to right: Zana Harris President AWS, Lorri Burgess Executive Director Baton Rouge Sickle Cell, Sarah Thanni Vice-President AWS and Dorlissia Robinson Secretary AWS.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Fall Gardening Workshop slated for Nov. 24

    By Felix Cunningham III
    SU Ag Center

    The Southern University Ag Center invites the Baton Rouge community at large to its third annual Fall Gardening Workshop on November 24, 2015. Registration for the event, which is free and includes a healthy lunch, will begin at 8:30 a.m. and the program will start at 9 a.m. inside A. O. Williams Hall – SU Ag Center.

    Topics for this year’s workshop will include:
    • Seasonal planting
    • Pollinators and pests
    • Bee keeping
    • Maintaining and growing an Urban Ag Community
    • Non-traditional uses for traditional plants
    • Planting a smoothie/juice garden
    • Urban agriculture issues

    There will even be an urban garden tour if the weather permits.

    Besides learning about planting and how to keep a garden in an urban society, participants will also be able to taste-test smoothies and juice made from the plants in the urban garden. This event will link the participants to gain opportunities to grow or enhance an urban garden successfully.

    “This is going to be an action-packed event,” said Stephanie Elwood, extension associate of the Southern University Ag Center.

    The workshop is co-hosted by the Southern University Ag Center, its Wisteria Alliance Program and the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program.

    For more information about the workshop, contact Mila Berhane, Stephanie Elwood, Dawn Mellion Patin or Zanetta Augustine at 225-771-2242.
    ONLINE: http://www.suagcenter.com

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  • ,,

    19 farmers graduate from SU ag institute

    Nineteen small farmers from LOUIsiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia,Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas were honored during a graduation ceremony on Friday, Sept. 18 for completing their two-year course of study in the Southern University Ag Center’s Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Institute.

    The graduation ceremony marked the completion of the Institute’s 10th class.

    United States Department of Agriculture’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Joe Leonard served as the keynote speaker for the ceremony. Leonard praised the SU Ag Center’s administrators and Dawn Mellion-Patin,Ph.D., director of the Institute, for sharing the program with not only the citizens of Louisiana; but the Southern region of the country.

    “This is the best part of my job,” said Leonard, “meeting you all.” Leonard went on to thank the participants for the time they invested
    and encouraged them to continue to learn. “We see you and honor the accomplishments that you have made. We are looking forward to greater accomplishments,” said Leonard.

    The Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Institute graduates are Decetti Taylor, Tuskegee, AL; Travis Collins, Eudora, AR; Howard Brown,
    Eudora, AR; Alvis Hicks, Pensacola, FL; ShyeastaCullars– Athens, GA; Eric Simpson, West Point, GA; Elmer Miller, Stanford, KY; Ronnie Venson – Boyce, LA; Michael Atkins, Bastrop, LA; Terry Jackson, New Orleans, LA; Valerie Milligan, Jackson, LA; Roberta McKowen – Jackson, LA; Evelyn Jackson, Jackson, LA; Theresa Brewer-Cook, Crystal Spring, MS; Ronald Simmons, Kenansville, NC; Chase Reynolds, Salisbury, NC; Henry Houser, Bowman, SC; John Frazier, Salters, SC; and Jessie Denise Prejean, Hempstead, TX.

    L. Washington Lyons, Ph.D, executive administrator of the Association of Executive Administrators presided over the program. SU Ag Center interim chancellor Adell Brown Jr., Ph.D., provided a welcome and opening remarks and vice chancellor for extension Gina E. Eubanks, Ph.D., provided the program’s closing remarks. The ceremony was also attended by Kevin Norton, Director of Louisiana’s USDA National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Craig McCain, Director of Louisiana’s USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA). About the Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Institute The Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Institute is a two-year course of study specifically designed
    to guide small, socially disadvantaged, limited resource and/or minority farmers through the transformative process of becoming successful agricultural entrepreneurs.

    The goal of the Institute is to promote the sustainability of small family farms through enhanced business management skills and leadership development. The leadership institute has taken the majority of the participants from being just small producers through the mindset of being great producers with limited acreage, herds or holdings.

    The SU Ag Center is collaborating with the Southern University Law Center, Alcorn State University – Small Farm Development Center, Prairie View A & M University – Cooperative Extension Program and North Carolina A & T State University – Cooperative Extension Program to bring the Institute to the farmers in various locations.

    ONLINE: www.suagcenter.com/small-farmers.
    Photo by Cheryl Ferlygood

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Car Review: Lexus GS 350 F Sport

    HOUSTON – After more than a week, it felt like we drove the Lexus GS 350 F Sport sedan through every one of the 600 square miles that comprise this city. And we only found a few irks to complain about.

    Actually, we drove the Lexus GS 350 F Sport to New Orleans and back here. After 10 days and almost 1,000 miles, we came away with a healthy respect for the road worthiness of the midsize luxury sedan.

    Except for going over some rather spacious expansion joints on the causeways that slice through southern Louisiana, not once did any road noise make its way into the cabin.

    Although the Lexus GS F Sport has an available rear-wheel-biased all-wheel-drive system, how often are you going to get inclement weather beyond heavy rain in this region? Anyway, that is a long-winded way of saying that we had a rear-wheel-drive model of the F Sport and it was just fine.

    Still, the car had what Lexus called an adaptable variable suspension that came with its sport package. Settings were normal, sport, sport +, eco and snow. Even though regional gas prices ranged from $2.47 to $2.62, they were cheaper with cash, we set the car in Eco mode because of the distances involved on the trip.

    That mode set throttle mapping and seat heating and climate control systems for optimal fuel economy. In ECO mode, the instrument meter lighting changed to blue. But the sport package is more than an extra setting, sport +, in the drive mode selector. We had a full tank of fuel when we left, we filled the tank again once we arrived and we filled it once more for the return trip.

    The visit to New Orleans included a side trip to Hammond, just North of Lake Pontchartrain, and the place we gassed up the second time.

    Our test car had an EPA rating of 19 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway. Considering the 1,000 miles we drove, it was relatively easy on fuel.

    The sport package was comprised of chassis enhancements, a sport tuned suspension, 19-inch alloy wheels with summer tires, larger front brakes that were appreciated with all the sudden slowdowns from Interstate speeds because of traffic congestion and high friction brake pads. Our test car also had lane keep assist and a rearview camera.

    Of course there were firmer springs, thicker stabilizer bars and special bushings.
    Although our test car was not equipped with it, the Lexus GS 350 F Sport has available dynamic rear steer that can add up to two degrees of rear wheel turn that enhances cornering and lane changes.

    No matter whether we were traveling at 80 mph or 8 mph, our 3.5-liter engine performed flawlessly. It generated 308 horsepower, 277 pound-feet of torque and it was mated to an eight-speed transmission. There was no herking or jerking, no searching for the correct gear and the car accelerated swiftly when needed.

    We thought the side view mirrors could have been shaped differently; they didn’t provide a wide enough view of what was on the side of the car. But the blind spot alert system made up for that lack. And in an age of portable electronic gadgets, we thought the car could have used more than one USB jack.

    However, these gripes were mere inconveniences that were more than offset by the driver experience of the Lexus GS 350 F Sport. Our test car was swathed with a black perforated leather interior. The front seats were heated as well as cooled and the driver’s seat was 18-way power. Aluminum pedals and brushed aluminum trim completed the interior’s sport motif.
    The car featured Lexus’ 12.3 inch dual information screen. We spent a lot of time in navigation mode and that gets us to our third quibble. The navigation system will not mute the audio system when giving directions to the driver. A moderate decibel level when playing the radio will drown out the directions being giving by the voice of the navigation system. Yes, there is a map with a designated route but you can miss those directions as well, if your eyes are on the road where they are supposed to be.

    Still, the system had predictive traffic information that included detour preview, ETA calculation and low-fuel coordination with available fuel stations. We didn’t avail ourselves of the traffic information in the navigation system and ended up getting it off the traffic app in the Enform App Suite.
    Either or, this trips marks the last time will travel back to Houston from the Big Easy on the Sunday after Turkey Day. The traffic was as thick as molasses in some places.
    The information system had the usual compliment of stuff: Bluetooth, satellite radio, media capability, meaning it would and did play stations off the Pandora app on our smartphone and there were voice controls.

    Other equipment on the Lexus GS 350 F Sport included adaptive cruise control, land departure warning, pre-collision warning, a 17-speaker 835-watt premium audio system, a rearview camera and folding side mirrors.
    Our Lexus GS 350 F Sport was a quality midsize sedan in one of the most competitive segments of the luxury market. The car had a base price of $47,700. Add options that included the sport package and a $910 freight charge and the final tab was $60,784.


    By Frank S. Washington
    AboutThatCar.com.

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    DHH asks residents to take precautions against mosquitoes

    Health department confirms three new cases of West Nile

    The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) has confirmed three new cases of West Nile virus this week, the first cases of 2015. This week’s new infections include two cases of neuroinvasive disease, one in DHH Region 2 and one in Region 6. The third case, also in Region 6 was asymptomatic.

    About 90 percent of all West Nile virus cases are asymptomatic, while about 10 percent will develop West Nile fever. Only a very small number of infected individuals will show the serious symptoms associated with the neuroinvasive disease. Residents who are at least 65 years old are at higher risk for complications, but everyone is at risk for infection.

    “There is an opportunity for you to get bitten every time you step outside, whether you’re taking a quick walk to the mailbox or spending hours at the ball park,” said State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry. “You need to take the proper steps to protect yourself and your home from mosquitoes every time you go outdoors.”

    Last year, Louisiana saw 61 cases of West Nile virus neuroinvasive disease in the state. DHH has been tracking West Nile Virus for more than a decade, and statistics about its occurrence in Louisiana can be found online at www.dhh.louisiana.gov/fightthebite.

    Protecting Yourself

    If you will be outside, you should wear a mosquito repellent containing DEET. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that repellents should contain no more than 30% DEET when used on children. Insect repellents also are not recommended for children younger than 2 months. CDC recommends that you always follow the recommendations appearing on the product label when using repellent.

    • Apply repellent on exposed skin and clothing. Do not apply under your clothes or on broken skin.
    • To apply repellent to your face, spray on your hands and then rub on your face.
    • Adults should always apply repellent to children.
    • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors for long periods of time.
    • Avoid perfumes and colognes when outdoors for extended periods of time.
    • Make sure that your house has tight-fitting windows and doors, and that all screens are free of holes.

    Protecting Your Home

    • Reduce the mosquito population by eliminating standing water around your home, which is where mosquitoes breed.
    • Dispose of tin cans, ceramic pots and other unnecessary containers that have accumulated on your property. Turn over wheelbarrows, plastic wading pools, buckets, trash cans, children’s toys or anything that could collect water.
    • Drill holes in the bottom of outdoor recycling containers. Drainage holes that are located on the container sides collect enough water for mosquitoes to breed.
    • Check and clean roof gutters routinely. They are often overlooked, but can produce millions of mosquitoes each season.
    • Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish. Water gardens can become major mosquito producers if they are allowed to stagnate.
    • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used. A swimming pool that is left untended by a family for a month can produce enough mosquitoes to result in neighborhood-wide complaints. Be aware that mosquitoes may even breed in the water that collects on swimming pool covers.

    Travel Precautions

    Anyone traveling abroad should also take these same precautions to protect themselves from mosquitoes in other countries. Mosquitoes in other parts of the world, including the Caribbean, South America, Asia, Africa and Europe, might infect you with chikungunya or dengue fever. For more information about these diseases, visit the CDC’s website by clicking here.

    The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about DHH, visit www.dhh.louisiana.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow DHH’s Twitter account and Facebook.

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  • ,

    Surprising signs you’re suffering from allergies and tips to manage them

    When you think of seasonal allergies, sneezing may come to mind first. But there’s a lot more to allergies than “achoo,” say experts.

    According to allergist Dr. Myron Zitt, there are many ways allergies can manifest. Here are a few less obvious signs that you may be suffering from allergies:

    • You can’t concentrate: You wake up with a runny nose and can’t stop sneezing but still head into work and struggle through the day. This situation often leads to a present but unproductive employee — something known as “presenteeism” — and unfortunately it’s very common for allergy sufferers.

    • Your nose is extra sensitive: Allergy sufferers may experience a heightened response to non-allergic conditions, such as wind, air pollution and dry weather. This occurs when the nasal passages and throat are inflamed from existing allergies, making them more sensitive.

    • You feel tired: Allergy symptoms can disrupt sleep, especially for people whose symptoms make it difficult to breathe through the nose. But even a full night’s rest may not ease that feeling of tiredness for some allergy sufferers.

    • You’re grumpy: The discomfort of allergy symptoms can interfere with people’s daily lives and lead to irritability.

    Do any of the above sound familiar? For those that are suffering from allergies, Dr. Zitt recommends the following allergy survival tips to better manage symptoms.

    • Know your triggers: Document your symptoms to get a better sense of your individual allergies. Visit your health care provider, preferably an allergist, to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

    • Avoid allergens: Avoid outdoor activities in the morning or plan ahead by wearing a hat and sunglasses to keep pollen away from your face.

    • Kick pollen to the curb: Pollen can stick to clothing and shoes. Invest in a good doormat and wipe down your shoes each time you enter. It’s also helpful to shower and change into fresh clothes to completely rid yourself of outdoor pollen.

    • Beware of bouquets: If you’re bringing flowers or plants into your home, choose them carefully. For example, sunflowers and chrysanthemums might offer a sweet floral aroma, but they’re known to bother people with ragweed allergies.

    • Don’t carpool with pollen: Keep car windows rolled up. Instead of opening windows turn on the air conditioning, or set your ventilation to “re-circulate” to avoid outdoor allergens and irritants.

    Additionally, over-the-counter antihistamines can offer relief from symptoms like itchy and watery eyes and a runny nose. One option is Allegra Allergy 24-Hour — now available in gelcap form. It can offer adults fast, non-drowsy relief starting in one hour and staying strong for 24. More information can be found at www.Allegra.com.

    Think beyond the runny nose. Allergies can take a toll on your entire quality of life. Take care of yourself by avoiding your triggers when possible and seeking relief when necessary.

    By State Point

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  • ,

    Elm Grove leads community to anti-crime action

    “Protesting is our most powerful weapon against the atrocities of our day,” said the Rev. Errol Domingue, pastor of Elm Grove Baptist Church. “Things will not change unless we (the community) use our prophetic voice to bring about action.”

    For Domingue and his congregation, “action” meant holding a gun buyback program, a neighborhood march, and a community-wide rally against violence in the Eden Park community where more than 100 people, including officers with the East Baton Rouge BRAVE program, participated throughout February.

    The church sits mid-city Baton Rouge in the 70802 zip code where neighborhoods are riddled with mostly violent crimes.
    “Today is a new day and the violence has to stop,” said Jane Walker, Elm Grove Baptist Church rally organizer. “I’m for what is right. If protesting is needed to get the point across, I’m for it,” she said.

    Many of the violent crimes in the area are due to acts of senseless killings, participants said.

    Community activist Arthur “Silky Slim” Reed and members of the Nation of Islam spoke to the crowd along with BRAVE officers. Reed encouraged other churches in the community to rally against violence while BRAVE officials said to also focus on broadening the discussion of violence into homes.

    A crowd of about 60 marchers took to North 38th street to protest and make a bold statement against violence in their community. The weather appeared gloomy but it didn’t affect the rally. Baton Rouge City Police assisted with escorting the protestors which included toddlers and senior citizens to the park.

    Lennard Hawkins and Yvonne Sutton, relatives of Jermaine Jackson

    Lennard Hawkins and Yvonne Sutton, relatives of Jermaine Jackson

    Members of Jeremy Costley’s family were present along with family members of Jermaine Jackson. Both were victims of gun violence and no one has been identified as the shooter in both cases.

    “When standing against the wrong thing we are being leaders and maybe people will start following behind the right people to change the bad things that are happening in our communities,” said Armani Pitts, relative of Jeremy Costley.
    Harold Melvin and the Blue Note’s “ Wake up Everybody” and Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” played during the intermission portions of the rally.

    “It is very disappointing to hear on the daily news that someone has perished due to a bullet and no one has been arrested for the crime,” said Keisha Moore, organizer and emcee of the rally. “I remember when people settled their differences with words or even fists, not guns or a ‘shoot and run’ move. Families are now left with a disappointment, unanswered questions, and hurt,” said Moore.

    By Billy Washington
    Contributing Writer

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  • ,,

    COMMENTARY: What about the fired felons?

    A Look at Apple’s Teachable Moment

    Inclusion inspires innovation. This mantra, featured prominently on Apple’s website, was put to the test last week when the company came under fire for dismissing several construction workers who had been convicted of a felony.

    According to the San Francisco Chronicle, anyone who had been convicted of a felony in the past seven years was banned from working on the construction of Apple’s new Cupertino campus. Apple and its contractor, DPR Construction, also denied employment to people with felony arrests, not just convictions.

    Since then, Apple has taken a step in the right direction by rescinding the policy. But in an industry already notorious for being out of touch with the broader opportunity gap in America, the company’s leadership has an opportunity to do much more: to lead the tech field on inclusion as much as it already leads on innovation.

    Apple’s quick response was encouraging. In a statement, the company noted that its policy “may have excluded some people who deserve a second chance” and that it has “never had a blanket ban on hiring people with felony convictions”. This was an indication that Apple understands the devastating impact of blanket discrimination on the 12 million Americans with a felony conviction in their past. Still, the company’s response leaves too many unanswered questions about the status of the fired workers, the contours of Apple’s internal policy, and the company’s commitment to ensuring that this will never happen again.

    Life is hard for someone with a felony conviction. People returning to their communities not only have a difficult time finding a job. That’s more than 60 percent are unable to find work in their first year out. But also face other challenges that make landing gainful employment even harder. Even someone who served a short sentence for a low-level crime will often run into barriers to stable housing, healthcare, educational opportunities, and public benefits. In 2008, the reduced job prospects of people with felony convictions cost the US economy between $57 and $65 billion in lost output.

    It is not too late for Apple to right a wrong, prove its commitment to inclusion, and become a leader on fair hiring practices. (For example, The Cupertino campus project, expected to yield thousands of construction jobs, can still provide a unique opportunity for Apple to support the local economy and provide work for an underserved population.)

    Here are three steps that Apple can take in coming days:

    Apple should publicly address the fate of the fired employees.
    Reports have indicated that Apple may have plans to reevaluate or rehire the impacted employees, but it should make this intention publicly clear. The number of workers fired may have been small compared with Apple’s national employee base, but a job is important for any single worker, especially one operating in the context of perpetual discrimination. Apple should clarify its hiring policies and publicly “Ban the Box”.

    In their statement, Apple leaders denied practicing blanket discrimination. But at the same time they acknowledged that workers on the campus project had been victims of discrimination. In order to clear things up, Apple should work with community leaders to develop transparent and inclusive hiring policies that ensure that all applicants are considered regardless of their past mistakes. Crucially, the company should agree not to deny employment to people whose crimes are irrelevant to the job at hand.

    Apple should also follow in the footsteps of large companies in other fields and announce a companywide “Ban the Box” program. The company already claims that it considers all applicants on a “case by case” basis, and it could stand by this promise by removing questions about job applicants’ criminal records from initial employment applications. Walmart and other major companies have already “banned the box”, alongside cities like San Francisco, 15 states and over 100 other cities and counties nationwide.

    Apple should move Silicon Valley forward on second chance employment. Finally, Apple should use its perch as an industry leader to move Silicon Valley forward on fair hiring practices for applicants with criminal records. Apple could convene a Business Leaders Summit to encourage its peers to learn from their mistake. The summit could provide the tools and encouragement for others in the tech industry to commit to fair hiring practices. It could also impart an important lesson to others in the industry: discrimination is not only unfair to qualified job seekers who have made amends for their past mistakes (or been arrested but not convicted). It also means employers may be blindly screening out some of their best and brightest applicants.

    There is a growing bipartisan consensus, echoed by leaders as diverse as Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Rand Paul, that mass incarceration has failed the nation. Seventy million people in the United States, more than 1 in 4 adults, have some type of record of arrests or convictions. These records last a lifetime. This is long after the individual has been held responsible for the crime committed.

    Apple’s policy has already led to the dismissal of employees succeeding in their positions, supporting themselves and their families. This is exemplary of the problem. It is also the way forward. Apple can move closer to realizing its stated vision of a diverse and inclusive workforce where inclusion inspires innovation. With these steps, Apple can ensure that the reality of this vision does not leave millions of Americans with records behind.

    If Silicon Valley is going to achieve its goal of becoming a true meritocracy, it is not enough for us to focus on treating our most privileged workers more fairly. We need to ensure just treatment of the least privileged as well.

    By Ben Jealous and Heather Warnken
    Ben Jealous is partner at Kapor Capital and former president and CEO of the NAACP. Heather Warnken is a program director at the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy, UC Berkeley School of Law.

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    Summit on Louisiana Families of Color to present quality of life, incarceration reports, Feb. 27

    PICO Louisiana and The Micah Project along with members of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus will come together, Feb. 27, at the Southern University Ag Center to present a Summit on Louisiana Families of Color. Reports presented at the summit will show the connection between the health and quality of life of children and the injustice of mass incarceration.

    There will also be a discussion on how to prepare communities for civic engagement and the La. Legislative Black Caucus will hear public concerns through guided discussions around these issues. This FREE event will be an opportunity to learn more about the systems that perpetuate injustices in our state and how your voice can make a difference in creating real change in the lives of our families.

    Date: Friday, February 27, 2015
    Time: 9 am – 2:30 pm
    Location: Southern University Agricultural Research & Extension Center Baton Rouge, LA
    Breakfast and lunch will be served and free parking is available

    THIS SUMMIT IS FREE and open to leaders, clergy, and concerned citizens who want to assure that ALL families of Louisiana are thriving and ALL children of Louisiana are healthy. Space is limited.


    Register online at http://summitonfamilies.eventbrite.com

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  • Fewer Blacks getting married

    The percentage of Blacks 25 and older who have never been married was 36 percent in 2012, up from 9 percent in 1960, Pew Research reported. The study, “Record Share of Americans Have Never Married,” found that 36 percent of Black men and 35 percent of Black women have never married. In 1960, 12 percent of Black men never married compared to 9 percent of Black women who never married. For those ages 25 to 34, there were 92 never-married men for every 100 never-married women in 2012, Pew found.

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  • ,

    Freezing Temps Can Mean Higher Energy Bills

    Jack Frost dropped by a bit early this year, and that could mean higher-than-normal utility bills for Louisiana customers.

    “We’re used to lower bills during the normally mild fall season, but this early taste of winter is a good reminder to everyone that when the thermostat is cranked up, bills rise too,” said Melonie Stewart, director of customer service for Entergy.

    Weather is an important factor in determining how high or low energy bills may be. In fact, heating and air conditioning make up more than half of the total energy bill. Entergy encourages all customers to take advantage of convenient payment options and energy-saving tips to manage their monthly cost.

    “With the official start of winter still weeks away, it’s a good bet we can expect more cold weather in our future and potentially higher-than-normal utility bills. So now is a good time to sign up for one of Entergy’s convenient tools to help manage those costs,” Stewart said.

    One payment option that can help customers manage their budgets during extreme weather is Level Billing, which calculates their billing history over the previous 12 months and allows customers to pay an average amount each month. It helps manage the spikes in energy costs caused by extreme weather.

    Other options that can be found at entergyneworleans.com include:
    Pick-A-Date, which allows customers to choose the date when their bills are due.

    Automatic Monthly Payments, which save customers the trouble of writing and mailing checks.

    To stay comfortable and save energy when the temperatures drop, here are some helpful tips:

    Turn the heat down – During winter months, keep the thermostat set on 68 degrees. Each degree warmer will increase your bill by about 3 percent.

    Blanket your water heater – Heating water for cooking, cleaning, laundry and bathing is the second-largest energy user in homes. Insulating blankets for electric water heaters are inexpensive and readily available at any home-improvement store. These will make a difference in your energy bill.
    This early cold snap also gives customers time to make their homes more energy efficient before additional cold weather heads our way.

    If you’re more a do-it-yourself person, you can find general energy-saving tips and tools online at entergyneworleans.com for either no-cost or low-cost tips, an energy calculator, do-it-yourself videos and more.

     

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  • ,

    Report finds banks, others discriminate against communities of color

    WASHINGTON DC – The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and 17 of its local member organizations announced the results of a major undercover investigation into the failure of banks and property preservation companies to maintain and market foreclosed homes in African-American and Latino neighborhoods. The investigation of Real Estate Owned (REO) homes in 30 major metropolitan areas found disturbing incidents of discrimination in how these banks and Fannie Mae’s preservation management companies fail to secure the doors and windows, mow lawns, fix gutters and downspouts, remove trash, and provide other maintenance for REOs in African American and Latino neighborhoods, while providing these services for their REOs located in White neighborhoods.

    A report detailing the findings of the investigation, “Zip Code Inequality: Discrimination by Banks in the Maintenance of Foreclosed Homes in Neighborhoods of Color,” was released today. It details the results of the investigation of more than 2,400 REO properties located in and around 30 major U.S. cities. The report is the third released by NFHA (similar reports and results were published in 2011 and 2012) and provides information about the broadest investigation to date into REO discrimination. Both the White neighborhoods and neighborhoods of color investigated were middle and working class communities with high foreclosure rates and high owner-occupancy rates. The investigation avoided zip codes with high levels of renters or investor-ownership.

    “This report documents the ongoing threat to communities of color across America: that zip code determines whether banks properly maintain and market the homes titled in their names,” said Shanna L. Smith, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance. “The banks and property preservation companies are under contract to maintain these homes. They are supposed to get the best price when selling a foreclosed home. Banks and Fannie Mae are obligated to make sure lawns are mowed, shrubs are trimmed, mail is stopped, and flyers are removed from the porch. They are also responsible for ensuring that the gutters are cleaned to stop water or ice damage, windows and doors are secured and repaired, trash and dead animals are removed, emergency numbers that actually work are posted, and professional “For Sale” signs are placed in the yard. Banks fulfill these obligations in predominantly White neighborhoods but overwhelmingly fail to perform these simple routine maintenance chores in middle and working class African-American and Latino neighborhoods.”

    Read the report: http://bit.ly/reo2014.

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  • ,,

    Women`s Help Center celebrates 20 years

    For the past 20 years the Women’s Help Center has been dedicated to upholding family values through offering women and families facing an unplanned pregnancy life-affirming support and compassionate care. The Women’s Help Center, located at 7515 Scenic Hwy in Scotlandville, provides free services to women and their families including: pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, HIV testing, prenatal and parenting classes, abstinence support, and compassionate counseling.

    In support of its mission, the Women’s Help Center held its 16th Annual Leaving a Legacy of Life Fundraising Banquet and Silent Auction on Friday, August 15, 2014.  Featured speaker Dr. John R. Diggs Jr, a board-certified Internist, who has put his medical training and 15-plus years of clinical experience to work in developing a series of messages advocating the sanctity of human life and the proven benefits of sexual restraint, captivated the audience with his dynamic presentation.  Featured musical guest, Anita Jarrell-Robertson, melted the hearts of the crowd with her captivating voice and shared testimony of her life-changing experience. All proceeds from this event will be used to help The Women’s Help Center continue to serve families in need.

    Community news submitted by Natalie Thomas
    Photography by James Walker

    image

    Charles “Trey” Thomas III, Rev. Gene Mills, Senator Sharon W. Broome, Barbara Thomas, Dr. John Diggs, Charles Thomas II.

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  • Louisiana Northshore Quilt Trail Board dedicates new block

    Members of the Louisiana Northshore Quilt Trail Board dedicated their newest block at Fairview-Riverside State Park
    in Madisonville.
     This installation adds yet another block in St. Tammany Parish and becomes #104 on the five parish Quilt Trail. The goal
    of this three year old non-profit driving trail is to strengthen the economy through tourism, one quilt block at a
    time.
    Visit www.laquilttrail.com to request a free map. 
    q2
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